Saturday, January 31, 2015

There is "retaliation" and there is "sharp retaliation" which is a term coined by New York Times to refer to retaliation against Israel only

"Hezbollah antitank missiles killed two Israeli soldiers as they drove in a disputed area along the Lebanese border on Wednesday, a sharp retaliation for Israel’s deadly drone strike last week".

New York Times is lying here

"a strip claimed by Israel, Lebanon and sometimes Syria".  The previous text said "and Syria" but they sneakily added "Sometimes" later. In fact, Syrian officials more than once said that they consider the farms Lebanese.  As if the lands are Syrians, the Israeli terrorist state has the right to occupy it.

US State Department spokesperson on Israel's right to launch wars at will

"MS. PSAKI: Well, we will have a statement on this that may be going out during the briefing, in my name. So if it does, I’m happy to reiterate that, but you should have that in your inboxes soon. We support Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense and continue to urge all parties to respect the blue line between Israel and Lebanon, as prescribed by UNSCR 1701. We also, of course, condemn the act of violence and will be watching the situation closely.

QUESTION: You condemn the act of violence – you’re referring to?

MS. PSAKI: The attacks.

QUESTION: The Hezbollah attacks?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Okay. Just on a technical question: There are some who have made the argument that this area, Shebaa Farms, is Israeli-occupied Lebanon. What’s the U.S. position on the status of this area?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check with our legal team on the specific status, Matt. I’m happy to do that.

QUESTION: Do you know if anyone – the Secretary or anyone else – has been in touch with either the Israelis or the Lebanese about this issue?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any calls to read out from the Secretary this morning. As you know, he flew back and arrived early this morning. I can certainly check on contacts with our teams on the ground. I would certainly suspect that our teams in Lebanon and Israel have been in touch with relevant authorities.

QUESTION: Jen, do you think that the Lebanese army or the Lebanese Government bear any responsibility in this attack?

MS. PSAKI: I think this is an attack that obviously just happened. We certainly encourage all parties to respect the blue line between Israel and Lebanon. We urge all parties to refrain from any action that could escalate the situation. You’re familiar with our views on Hezbollah. As I mentioned, we strongly condemn Hezbollah’s attack today near the border, but beyond that I’m not going to speculate further.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: You began your comments on this by reaffirming your belief that Israel has the right to self-defense, and then – which might be taken as that they have a right to defend against attacks like the one that killed the two soldiers, and now you say, however, that you encourage all sides to refrain from any actions that could escalate the situation. Which is it? I mean, do you feel that the Israelis should not take any actions that would escalate the situation, or do you feel that they have every right to attack in self-defense against such things?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they have the right to, Arshad, but certainly our preference is to reduce the tensions and the violence and the back and forth from here."

Bush's favorite Shi`ite cleric in the US

"A nationally known Muslim leader, Al-Qazwini announced he was stepping down during his Friday afternoon sermon, the most popular gathering time for Muslims. Afterward, when members asked him to stay, Al-Qazwini said he would reconsider if the board dissolves.

"The entire board has to be dissolved, with the exception of the founding fathers" of the mosque, Al-Qazwini said, according to a recording of his afternoon sermon. "The entire system has to be dissolved. The by-laws have to be dissolved.""

The Washington Post is lying here

"The exchange of fire took place in a contested area known as Shebaa Farms. Hezbollah says the area belongs to Lebanon, and the United Nations defines the area as part of Syria. The Israelis claim it is theirs." The Post changed the language and it claimed that Syria claims it was Syrian which is a lie as the Syrian government said more than once that it is Lebanese. The notion that the UN defines the area as "part of Syria" is, in international legal language, bullshit. The UN does NOT define which borders are between countries: this is an ignorant belief common among March 14 politicians in Lebanon and the Post correspondent in Beirut reproduced the propaganda talking point of March 14 without realizing that it is not true.  Countries demarcate borders among them and they simply deposit the agreement with the UN. The UN has no role whatsoever in demarcations.

The president of my school in Beirut (IC)

Let me ask you this: would an Arab who had fought with Hizbullah or Hamas be allowed to serve as head of a private school in the US?  "Bergman served four years in the Navy, including a tour in Vietnam, and later went on to university and obtained a teaching degree in History, Geography and Physical Education. His international teaching assignments have included schools in Australia, Egypt, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, and Singapore."

This piece about SA in the Economist

It reads as if it was written by a PR firm hired by the Saudi embassy in London.

Valls explains

"Holocaust denial was outlawed in 1990, and “apology for terrorism” last year. There is a “fundamental difference”, declared the French prime minister, Manuel Valls, in a speech to parliament on January 13th, between the “freedom of impertinence” and “anti-Semitism, racism, apology for terrorism, Holocaust denial”."

class matters

Germany and Israel

"One, by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a think-tank named after the chancellor who negotiated with Israel’s David Ben-Gurion, found that 70% of Israelis see Germany positively. That makes Germany their favourite country in Europe, as thousands of Israelis in Berlin would agree. But a poll by the Bertelsmann Foundation, another think-tank, found Germans more sceptical toward Israel, mainly because of its treatment of Palestinians: 36% have a positive opinion, but 48% are critical. Among young adults, it is more than half."

Guantánamo Diary

"It is compelling reading nonetheless, chiefly for its contents but also because of the idiosyncratic command of English that Mr Slahi picked up mainly during his confinement. He vividly describes being deprived of sleep for days on end and chained to the floor of freezing cold rooms. He is force-fed seawater, sexually molested, subjected to a mock execution and repeatedly beaten, kicked and smashed across the face, all spiced with threats that his mother will be brought to Guantánamo and gang-raped. At one point, Mr Slahi admits to his interrogators that he is beginning to hear voices that aren’t there. But the torture, he says, failed—not to make him talk, but to tell the truth. Instead, he writes, he simply admitted to anything he thought his jailers might want to hear.

Their actions are baffling and often contradictory: an interrogator questions him about a suspected terrorist who travelled to Iraq in 2003—even though, as his captors knew full well, Mr Slahi had been in prison since 2001 and could not possibly know the answer. The book is also shot through with thick black “redaction” marks, in which an American censor has deemed certain passages too secret to be published. Yet information that is blacked out on one page is often freely available a few pages later; at other times it is trivially easy to deduce what the missing words must be from the surrounding context.

Fourteen years after his trip to the Mauritanian police station, Mr Slahi remains in Guantánamo Bay. Throughout the book, he protests his innocence, maintaining that he had cut his ties to radical Islamism in the early 1990s. It is impossible for his readers to know whether that is true. But a federal judge reviewed the government’s evidence against him, found it wanting, and in 2010 ordered Mr Slahi’s release. Barack Obama’s government appealed, and the case remains pending. Ten years after penning his diary, and with the world’s most powerful democracy having failed to give him a trial, Mr Slahi remains in jail."

New Saudi King's terrorist ties

"Salman also helped recruit fighters for Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, an Afghan Salafist fighter who served as a mentor to both Osama bin Laden and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed."

French police question 8-year-old on suspicion of "defending terrorism"

"Just when it seemed that the crackdown on free speech in France could not get worse, French police today questioned a second grader on suspicion of “defending terrorism.” " (thanks David)

Canada tracks millions of downloads daily

"The revelations about the spying initiative, codenamed LEVITATION, are the first from the trove of files provided by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden to show that the Canadian government has launched its own globe-spanning Internet mass surveillance system. According to the documents, the LEVITATION program can monitor downloads in several countries across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and North America. It is led by the Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, Canada’s equivalent of the NSA." (thanks Amir)

The Pakistani press but not the Arabic press publishes criticisms of House of Saud

"Saudi Arabia, among some other Arab states, also funds mosques in Western cities where many clerics, whose salaries are reportedly paid by Riyadh, preach hate against the West and non-Wahabi sects. While the official Wahabi clergy stick to a literalist, joyless interpretation of Islam, they overlook the injunctions against rule by despots. They have thus provided the Saudi royal family with a spurious legitimacy in exchange for the tight control they wield over internal social policy. The royal family and the clergy are in a symbiotic embrace that has made them a barrier to change.

With an army of some 7,000 princes to keep in style, the House of Saud has a strong incentive to maintain a lucrative status quo. This creates their leverage with Washington, London and Paris: with the world’s biggest oil reserves, Saudi Arabia has been ensuring a steady supply of oil to the global markets.

The other factor that keeps leaders like Obama and Cameron onside is the rich market for arms the kingdom has become over the years. These purchases, often accompanied with allegations of vast bribes, generate jobs as well as obscene profits.

Finally, the ‘stability’ repeatedly evoked in the recent eulogies to Abdullah refers to his role in leading the fight to roll back the Arab Spring. From Egypt to Bahrain, it has been Saudi money and political support that has blocked change. Simul­tan­eously, however, Saudi Arabia has also reportedly financed extremist rebel groups in Syria. "

UAE repression

UAE: repression on all fronts.

Germany Owes Greece 11 Billion Euros From Nazi-Enforced "Loan"

"Germany owes the impressive amount of 11 billion euros to Greece, solely due to the forced occupation loan taken by the Nazis during World War II and which remains unpaid until today, a new official Greek report, handed to the Finance Ministry, revealed. Despite the outboasting report, Berlin, on its part, insists not to recognize that debt." (thanks Nikolai)

Does the US really want to declare war on Hizbullah?

Hizbullah clearly has not wanted to declare war or to engage in war with the US during the years of Nasrallah's leadership.  In fact, Hizbullah did not, as far as I can tell, engage in operations against US interests since mid-1980s (the TWA plane was the last attack although Hizbullah says that it never formed as an organization until after 1985, which is a way to distance itself form past attacks).  The publication of the role of the US in the assassination of Mughniyyah in the Washington Post today will lead the party to reconsider its stance toward the US.  It has been clear that Israel has always wanted the US to adopt the same enemies that Israel has.  Hamas has also never engaged in attacks on the US or its interests but Zionists in the US government want the position of the US to mirror that of Israel.  The US role in the assassination should be read in that regard.  That the US decided to adopt Israel's enemies, and to ensure that they become enemies (foolishly or calculatingly) of the US will have consequences that the policy makers who decided to involve the US in the assassination didn't consider.  But, hey, we are talking about the brilliant minds of Bush and Cheney here.  There are several problems with the article in the Post today: 1) why do ignorant US media still insist that Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah was a leader of Hizbullah?  He never was.  2) the chronology of the deeds of Mughniyyah in the chart are not accurate. The kidnapping and killing of Col. Higgens in 1988 was NOT perpetrated by Mughniyyah but by a small off-shoot of Amal Movement called "The Faithful Resistance" led by Mustafa Dirani. 

This blog and its future

Thanks to all those who wrote asking me to keep the blog.  I have not decided to close down the blog but I only discussed the matter with Michele in the wake of the announcement by Andrew Sullivan because it made think about the future of this blog which is now more than 10 years old (12, since I started in 2003).

Saudi royal decrees

To decrees got my attention from the list of Saudi royal decrees.
1) The appointment of Tamim bin `Abdul-`Aziz bin Yusuf As-Salim as "assistant to the private secretary of the Servitor of the two Holy Sites at the rank of Excellent."  So even the appointment of an assistant to the private secretary requires a royal decree?  What an institution-based regime.
2) The appointment of Hazim bin Mustafa `Abdul-Wahid as "chief of the private affairs of the Servitor of the Two Holy Sites at the rank of Minister".  I don't mean to bother you but what are "the private affairs" of the Servitor?

PS Yes, I actually read all the royal decrees.

Muhammad bin Salman is 29-years old

By the way, Muhammad bin Salman is only 29-years old and they suddenly in the recent decrees made him 35. 

The US government and the assassination of `Imad Mughniyyah

As some of you may remember, I had expressed my belief of a US role back in 2014:
"Monday, June 30, 2014
Who Killed `Imad Mughniyyah
Oh, I forgot to add one element to my critique of Kai Bird's The Good Spy.  The author maintains that there is evidence that the US government and not the Mossad was behind the killing of Mughniyyah.  I believe that.  If Israel had the intelligence about Mughniyyah's whereabouts, it is most likely that it would have provided the intelligence to the US knowing how much the US wants to get him.  And if the US had the intelligence about his whereabouts, it is doubtful that it would have provided it to Mossad to do the job when it has been wanting to do it for decades." 
But the dumbest propaganda about the Mughniyyah assassination came from the US Director of Central Intelligence who had maintained in 2008 that the assassination was due to "an internal" matter within Hizbullah or that Syrian government was behind it. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

The real accomplishments of `Abdullah bin `Abdul-`Aziz

My weekly article in Al-Akhbar: "The real accomplishments of `Abdullah bin `Abdul-`Aziz".

The Media of Saudi princes

Si le Hezbollah libérait la Palestine, le titre d’al-Arabiya ressemblerait à «Le Hezbollah refuse de libérer l’Andalousie».
Asad Abukhalil, blogueur libanais aux Etats-Unis - @asadabukhalil - 23200 abonnés.

Nasrallah's speech

The April 1996 understanding is now dead.

Flagrant contradiction in New York Times article: so is this Israel a "vibrant democracy" or not??

From Dan: "Did you notice the flagrant contradiction in the New York Times article about the new documentary on "previously unaired admissions of brutal behavior" by Israeli soldiers in the 1967 war?

In the first half of the article, we read the following:

“Asked to respond to the film, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner of the Israel Defense Forces said it was ‘representative of Israel’s vibrant democracy, where everything can be and is openly discussed,’”

Then, further down in the very same article we read:

“She [the director] was deep into the project before she discovered that the film, too, would be subject to censorship, she said.
Israel forbids the filmmakers to reveal how much they were forced to change, and the military censor’s office refused to discuss it.”"

See how people in Saudi Arabia are expected to pledge allegiance to the King and the Crown prince and the crown price of the crown prince

Look at the new Saudi schtick: they make cut-out pictures of the King and the two crown clowns and then they have somebody stand behind them to extend his hand which is then shaken by the citizens. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Saudi developments

A whole change of regime is under way in Saudi Arabia. More later.  

Guantanamo diary

"The torture methods approved for Mr. Slahi, for instance, mimicked those used by America’s Communist adversaries in the Cold War, which were famous for producing false confessions. Predictably, Mr. Slahi describes how, desperate to stop the brutal treatment, he finally decided to tell the interrogators whatever he thought they wanted to hear, fabricating plots and implicating others in nonexistent crimes. Some interrogators, though, doubted his confessions and asked for a polygraph test. He denied plotting terrorism or supporting Al Qaeda, and the test results variously showed “no deception” or “no opinion,” undermining his supposed admissions."

Look how the New York Times refers to confessions of Israeli war criminals

"The wrenching, taped testimony".  You almost want to say: oh, those poor Israeli war criminals. It must have hard committing massacres.

Look at this idiocy: BECAUSE OF HIS WESTERN EDUCATION

"Because of his Western education, Prince Mohammed is believed to favor liberalization on matters like education and opportunities for women."  Wait. So can we say: because of his Western education he has been more brutal and repressive than his own father?  Can we say that because of his Western education he has been jailing people for calling for reform?  Also, Sayyid Qutb and Muhammad Atta were Western educated.

Notice that Christian militias are not named when they commit war crimes

And why don't they use the term Christianist to describe them?

Look how the New York Times describes the shooting at demonstrators in Egypt

"At least 18 people were killed in political violence on Sunday"

American socialism

"Long ago, some American mayors called themselves socialists, although, writes historian Morton Keller (in “America’s Three Regimes”), “their collectivist impulse did not go much beyond public utilities: ‘gas and water socialism.’ ” "

This is an American liberal columnist

"But if, in the end, action needs to be taken against Iran, Israel will need the support of all Americans."

ils ne sont pas suffisamment nombreux pour avoir un candidat

From a reader:  "Zheng Ruolin, Chinese anchor: Il (=Houellebecq) a décrit une scène que.. en 2022 je crois, il y aura 2 candidats, un candidat musulman et un candidat d'extrême droite. Est-ce que ça peut être un scénario dans le futur de la France?
Richard Artz, French correspondent for Paris-Match in China: Euh... Je ne pense pas. Un candidat d'extrême droite, ça c'est possible. Un candidat musulman, ça m'étonnerait quand même: euh... ils ne sont pas suffisamment nombreux pour avoir un candidat."

Real record of Prince Salman

"Yet Salman has an ongoing track record of patronizing hateful extremists that is now getting downplayed for political convenience."

Tsipras and Peres?

"He recounted that in 2012 he arranged a meeting between Tsipras, then newly the head of the opposition, and then Israeli president Shimon Peres – who is well respected in Israel, and has a bloody history as a war criminal.

Arye Mekel, the former ambassador, claimed that the meeting went "very well" and Tsipras listened to Peres "like a pupil before his teacher, and avoided criticism of Israel"." (thanks Asa)

Sources of the Washington Post

From Bashir: "I don't know if you have seen this but maybe worth quoting, so funny! What an amazing analysis that required utmost anonymity!

A Lebanese political analyst who has close ties with senior Hezbollah officials described the latest attack as “a trap set by Hezbollah.”
“It’s important to note that Hezbollah’s first statement was called Communiqué No. 1, which means that it is signaling that it is ready to fight more,” said the analyst who requested anonymity, because of the tense situation."

Why Scotland did not fly the flag half-mast for King Abdullah

"Speaking with KaleidoScot, Alyn Smith, SNP Member of the European Parliament, explained why Scotland chose to react differently: “I thought the UK position bizarre, craven and cheap. Not least barely days after our PM was in Paris to support free speech he now descends on Riyadh to mark the passing of a man whose regime implacably opposed any such ideas.

“Of course, the reason is even more basic, money. The Saudi regime has over the years purchased countless billions of British bombs, tanks and guns and London is quite content to turn a blind eye to abuses of every value they claim to uphold." (thanks Mohamed)

The UN is Outraged

From a reader: ""Separately, in Gaza, the United Nations said it was "outraged" when Palestinian protesters climbed the perimeter of a U.N. compound and damaged it. U.N. officials took Hamas to task for not preventing the incident."

Was the UN ever "outraged" about the Israeli attacks upon its facilities in Gaza last year?  About attacks that killed people?  If so, I don't recall."

Israel supplied ex-Panama president equipment to spy on foes

From Richard: "My guess is that the US directed him to Israel for the equipment, plausible denial and all th

"Now scores of Panama’s political and social elite are learning that the eavesdropping program that Martinelli’s security team set in place sprawled into the most private aspects of their lives – including their bedrooms. Rather than national security, what appears to have driven the wiretapping was a surfeit of the seven deadly sins, particularly greed, pride, lust and envy."

" . . . .  Alemán said the government believes Martinelli’s security team kept active wiretaps on “between 150 to 175 people,” among them the Roman Catholic archbishop of Panama, opposition political leaders, rival business tycoons, supreme court judges, U.S. Embassy personnel, his own Cabinet members and even the woman identified publicly as his mistress."

" . . . . When Martinelli first approached U.S. diplomats about helping him with wiretapping, he asked them to expand a U.S. program aimed at suspected drug traffickers, known as Matador, according to multiple secret U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in late 2010. When U.S. diplomats noted that U.S. and Panamanian law forbade such wiretapping, Martinelli turned to Israel, purchasing a $14 million package from MLM Protection Ltd., which offers “cutting edge, customized security solutions.”

Muslims not allowed

"In the five months since Jan Morgan banned Muslims from her gun range in Hot Springs, Ark., business has boomed and predictions of a lawsuit brought by federal civil rights enforcers have so far proved inaccurate." (thanks Bailey)

Harsh and disproportionate

"Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman called Wednesday for a "harsh and disproportionate response" to a multi-pronged Hezbollah attack that injured several IDF soldiers on Wednesday." (thanks Regan)

ISIS into the kingdom?

"ISIS has an opportunity to flip the Kingdom. Here's how."