Saddam's Death, 109 (dec 2017-part 2)
attempt to destroy political holism in the middle east

See also: Page 108: dec 2017-part 1 and Page 110 (jan 2018)
Israel & The Temple Revolution & Unesco & the Temple

Regime Change in Iraq - Overview 2002/2003
Trump & the Pisces Messiah - Kennedy Speech 1961 - Eisenhower's Social Gospel
"I Have, I Rule and I will Destroy" - Iran & the dialogue of civilizations
Netanyahu & Infantilization of Israel
Jesus & Pophet Muhammed: "Be a stranger in the world" - Ideological Warfare Center
Jewish fundamentalism in the State of Palestine - Palestinian Martyrs and Jewish Heroes
The Balfour Declaration - Trump's move on Jerusalem (2017)
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was born April 28, 1937 and died December 30, 2006. He was the fifth President of Iraq, holding that position from July 16, 1979 until 9 April 2003. He was one of the leading members of the revolutionary Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, and afterward, the Baghdad-based Ba’ath Party and its regional organization Ba’ath Party, Iraq Region, which advocated ba’athism, an ideological marriage of Arab nationalism with Arab socialism. (Patricia Ramos, july 2013)

"The national security of America and the security of the world could be attained if the American leaders [..] become rational, if America disengages itself from its evil alliance with Zionism, which has been scheming to exploit the world and plunge it in blood and darkness, by using America and some Western countries.
What the American peoples need mostly is someone who tells them the truth, courageously and honestly as it is.
They don’t need fanfares and cheerleaders, if they want to take a lesson from the (sept. 11) event so as to reach a real awakening, in spite of the enormity of the event that hit America.
But the world, including the rulers of America, should say all this to the American peoples, so as to have the courage to tell the truth and act according to what is right and not what to is wrong and unjust, to undertake their responsibilities in fairness and justice, and by recourse to reason..."

Saddam Hussein, INA 15-9-2002

"The despot thinks he is just as God... What a nadir and mean fate!
The despot, as represented in this age, in our day, imagines he can enslave the people..
But they were born free. They were freed by God’s will through prophets and messengers, to be slaves only to Him and not to anyone of the people." Saddam Hussein, Iraq Daily 4-3-2003

A person with a God Complex may refuse to admit the possibility of their error or failure, even in the face of irrefutable evidence, intractable problems or difficult or impossible tasks.
The person is also highly dogmatic in their views, meaning the person speaks of their personal opinions as though they are unquestionably correct.
Someone with a god complex may exhibit no regard for the conventions and demands of society, and may request special consideration or privileges.

"That is the issue that will continue in this country... It is the eternal struggle between these two principles -- right and wrong -- throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time, and will ever continue to struggle.
The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings." Abraham Lincoln (October 15, 1858 Debate at Alton, Illinois)

"Happy day, when, all appetites controlled, all poisons subdued, all matter subjected, mind, all conquering mind, shall live and move the monarch of the world. Glorious consummation! Hail fall of Fury! Reign of Reason, all hail!" Abraham Lincoln (February 22, 1842 Temperance Address)

"...To be a human being among human beings, and remain one forever, no matter what misfortunes befall, not to become depressed, and not to falter - this is what life is, herein lies its task." Fyodor Dostoevsky (to his brother Mikhail, Dec. 22, 1849)

All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.
Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly.
“Do not therefore do injustice to yourselves. Remember one day you will meet Allah and answer your deeds. So beware, do not astray from the path of righteousness after I am gone." Prophet Muhammad, Last Sermon

According to the Qur’an, arrogance is a sin

"You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers [to be] the Jews and those who associate others with Allah ; and you will find the nearest of them in affection to the believers those who say, "We are Christians." That is because [..] they are not arrogant." Quran Al-Maidah, 5-82

“Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you can not retain.”

Saadi Shirazi
(Persian poet & humanist, born in Shiraz, Iran, c. 1210)

"Holism is the most fundamental discovery of 20th century science. It is a discovery of every science from astrophysics to quantum physics to environmental science to psychology to anthropology.
It is the discovery that the entire universe is an integral whole, and that the basic organizational principle of the universe is the field principle: the universe consists of fields within fields, levels of wholeness and integration that mirror in fundamental ways, and integrate with, the ultimate, cosmic whole...."
"For many thinkers and religious teachers throughout this history, holism was the dominant thought, and the harmony that it implies has most often been understood to encompass cosmic, civilizational, and personal dimensions. Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Lord Krishna, Lao Tzu, and Confucius all give us visions of transformative harmony, a transformative harmony that derives from a deep relation to the holism of the cosmos."

About political holism

Political holism is based on the recognition that "we" are all members of a single whole. There's no "they," even though "we" are not all alike. Because "we" are all part of the whole, and therefore interdependent, we benefit from cooperating with each other. Political holism is a way of thinking about human cultures and nations as interdependent.
Political holists search for solutions other than war to settle international disagreements. Their model of the world is one in which cooperation and negotiation, even with the enemy, even with the weak, promotes political stability more than warfare.
In an overpopulated world with planet-wide environmental problems, the development of weapons of mass destruction has rendered war obsolete as an effective means to resolve disputes.

Political dualists consider political holists unpatriotic for questioning the necessity to defeat "them." In times of impending war, political dualists tend to measure patriotism by the intensity of one's hostility to the country's immediate enemy.
Naturally, they would view as disloyalty any suggestion that the enemy is not evil, any call for cooperation with the enemy, any criticism of one's own country.
To political dualists, cooperation with the enemy means capitulation, relinquishment of the nation's position of dominance.
At its extreme, political dualism is essentially tribalism. (Betty Craige, 16-8-1997)

Desmond Tutu & Ubuntu

"A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed."
"We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World.
When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity." (Ubuntu info)

Palestinians no longer trust US, the unfair mediator
Ali Al-Ghamdi, Saudi Gazette, 19-12-2017

The United States imposed itself as mediator between the Palestinians and Israelis, but it has never behaved as an honest broker but has vetoed all UN resolutions that condemn Israel and its crimes against the Palestinians.
Trump’s decision is the latest of such actions on the part of the US administration in supporting Israel over all its unjust acts and atrocities against the Palestinians and their occupied homeland.
Analysts are of the view that President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is no less dangerous than the shameful Balfour Declaration made by the British Foreign Secretary a hundred years ago to make Palestine a national homeland for the Jews. Both men gave something that is not in their possession to those who do not deserve it.

Following the Balfour Declaration, the Palestinians and the Arabs were not ready to give up their cause but made a great effort to defeat the plan. However, the British plot against Jerusalem and Palestine succeeded in planting the State of Israel in the heart of the Arab world.
The Arabs lost the 1948 war due to their differences plus the conspiracies of the Western powers. Then they lost the 1967 war for the same reason. Later, they managed to achieve an incomplete victory in the 1973 war.
Egypt’s signing of a peace agreement with Israel after breaking away from the ranks of the Arab world was the first nail in the coffin of the Palestinian cause. Subsequently, Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel, following the Oslo Accords inked between the Palestinians and Israel.
The signing of the Oslo Accords achieved nothing for the Palestinians because Israel does not want peace and seeks negotiations only for the sake of negotiations. Israel also wants to buy enough time to continue Judaizing Jerusalem and building settlements in the West Bank.

The Palestinian position, declared by President Mahmoud Abbas, provides no role for the United States of America in the peace process, as the Palestinians no longer trust it to help resolve the issue. This was after their full realization that the US is an unfair mediator as it is biased in favor of Israel, which continues its occupation of the Palestinian territories and its persecution of the unarmed Palestinian people.

High time for the world in general and the United States in particular
to come forward to stand by justice and truthfulness
Ali Al-Ghamdi, Al-Arabiya, 26-10-2017

Where are American values and human rights? Where is the respect for law on the part of the US?
Why does it stand by Israel’s false claims? Did not Israel excavate for half a century in the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque and did it find any single piece of evidence that gives it the right for any claim on the holy mosque?
Are not all the claims of Israel based on myths and lies that do not amount to historical and archaeological facts? ..
The world knows the facts and stands by them. It knows Israel’s lies, racism and injustice to the Palestinian people. The world also knows the falsity of Israel’s democracy and its practice of abhorrent apartheid against the Palestinian people, no less than the apartheid practiced by the white minority in South Africa. International pressure led to the abolition of apartheid in South Africa and its replacement with democracy with the participation of all the people of the country.
It is high time for the world in general and the United States in particular to come forward to stand by justice and truthfulness in the case of the Palestinians.

" Excavations in Jerusalem [...] undermined the fantasies about the glorious past [and] failed to find any traces of an important tenth-century kingdom, the presumed time of David and Solomon.
No vestige was ever found of monumental structures, walls or grand palaces, and the pottery found there was scanty and quite simple."

Shlomo Sand, Prof. Emeritus, Tel Aviv University
in: 'Invention of the Jewish people'

"All the old gentile religions of the world will disappear"
'Christian' America, Donald Trump & Chabad Messianism

The White House released a proclamation designating April 7, 2017, as Education and Sharing Day, U.S.A, in honor of the 115th anniversary of birth of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory. The proclamation was signed by President Donald J. Trump., April 6, 2017

Menachem Mendel Schneerson (April 18, 1902 OS – June 12, 1994 ), known to many as the Rebbe, was a Russian Empire-born American Orthodox Jewish rabbi, and the last Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Chabad message: What is the true key to salvation?

Ivanka Trump and and her husband Jared Kushner joined 'The Shul' of the Nation's Capital, a synagogue run by international Jewish community organization Chabad; among the Shul's congregants are former senator Joe Lieberman and Jack Lew.. (YNet News, jan. 2017)

Hannan Ashrawi: Kushner cannot broker peace with Israel

Those who return to the Jewish Law and who assist the Jewish people (Isaiah 60, 61, 66) will be saved and will participate in the miracles and revelations, including worshipping in the Third Temple, under the kingship of the Messiah.
As described in many places, including Jeremiah 16:19-21 and Zechariah 8:20-23, all the old gentile religions of the world will disappear, and their followers will turn to the Jews for spiritual leadership. Until then, Christians are spiritually blinded, and cannot yet understand G-d's wisdom in the Bible.

Ours is the last generation of the era of sin and evil and the first of the Messianic Era. Indeed, for the first time in history, there is a growing consensus of leading rabbis willing to name the man most suited to be the Messiah, and they are agreeing that he is the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
The man known today as "Jesus" is a false prophet. He became a "king" (over the Christian church) who changed the original Law, doing away with the Hebrew calendar and the Biblical holidays (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkos the Festival of Tabernacles, Passover, etc.).
He disregarded the one, infinite G-d of the Hebrew Bible in favor of a new "trinity" that included himself. And he repeatedly broke the Law by committing terrible sins, while openly challenging the G-d-given authority of the rabbis of the Sanhedrin.

-- Question: I was accosted at the beach today by a guy from Jews for Jesus. He offered me a New Testament in Yiddish and said that many Jews have been "saved" by accepting Jesus as the messiah. I just ignored him. Then I saw a big ad in the newspaper from the same people. My question: Can a Jew believe in Jesus?
-- Answer: Of course a Jew can believe in Jesus. Just like a vegetarian can enjoy a rump steak, a peace activist can join a violent demonstration, and a dictator who preaches martyrdom can surrender himself to his enemies. As long as logic and clear thinking are suspended, anything makes sense! I think your response to that missionary was the best one - to ignore him. (

During the Messianic Era, the Moshiach will serve a dual role. He will be a monarch, ruling over all of humanity and upholding the law of the Torah—613 commandments for the Jews, and seven for the non-Jews. He will also be the ultimate teacher.. (

Never under any circumstances does a knowledgeable Jew ever turn to That Man
Sharon Allen, Chabad & Jesus

I received a phone call from Rabbi Duchman. He told me about an internationally known deprogrammer, Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet (member of the Chabad movement), who would be speaking soon at my daughter’s Yeshiva.
That night proved to be a turning point in my search for the truth. The rabbi’s speech centered on the generalities of Jewish home life and the problems facing the family. After the rabbi completed his talk, he asked for questions.
Someone expressed his concern about missionaries who wanted to teach his children about Jesus and then a man asked what he should do when his child comes home asking him about Scriptures with which he, as a Jewish parent, is not familiar.
At this point, Rabbi Schochet grabbed the sides of the podium and shouted to the audience, “Never under any circumstances does a knowledgeable Jew ever turn to That Man!” (“That Man” being a name that Jews call Jesus when they don’t want to say His name.)

I felt the rabbi was talking directly to me so I raised my hand and asked, “Rabbi, what do you tell someone like me who knows Yiddishkeit, follows Judaism, has a Jewish home and yet when I read the Jewish Bible, I see ‘That Man’?”
My question hit like a bombshell and for the few next hours we discussed Yiddishkeit, Jewish customs, the Bible, and other subjects. When midnight approached, the rabbi was anxious to close the meeting, so he said what he considered to be the words that would show me and all the others in the room why Jesus could not be the promised Messiah.
He shouted to the audience that Jesus committed blasphemy from the cross. Then in an angry, mocking tone, the rabbi quoted Jesus saying, “…My God, my God, Why hast Thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46.
I was horrified at Rabbi Schochet’s tone of voice and accusation that Jesus had committed blasphemy.
I found it amazing that in his anger, he apparently forgot that the statement Jesus made on the cross was first said by our own beloved King David in Psalm 22. Would any Jew dare to say that David committed blasphemy?
That night I told my husband and daughter, “I have no more doubts … Jesus is my Jewish Messiah.”

Guardian Opinion cartoons

Freedom: "Whose ever bread one eats, his language one speaks"
Trump threatens to cut aid to UN members over Jerusalem vote
Reuters, Wednesday 20 Dec 2017

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said in a letter to several US allies ahead of the upcoming UNGA meeting that Trump will closely follow the vote on the status of Jerusalem and asked her to inform him about countries who vote against the United States. According to Haley, Trump would “take this vote personally.”
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki has slammed the US over “threatening” the UN General Assembly members ahead of a vote condemning President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist entity.
According to al-Maliki, the US leadership is “committing another mistake when they have distributed this famous letter trying to threaten countries, [and] threaten their sovereign decision to choose how to vote.”

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that vote in favor of a draft United Nations resolution against his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
"They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us. Well, we're watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We'll save a lot. We don't care," Trump told reporters at the White House.
The 193-member UN General Assembly will hold a rare emergency special session on Thursday at the request of Arab and Muslim countries on the controversial U.S. decision.

Hamas leader: We will no longer rule in Gaza
"We must end the division at any price"
Elad Benari, Arutz Sheva, 21/12/2017

Hamas’s Gaza leader, Yahya Sinwar, declared on Wednesday that [his] organization would no longer control Gaza and that move will be permanent.
"This decision is a strategic one and there is no going back. Hamas will be completely out of the picture,” he said, according to comments quoted by the Hebrew-language Walla! news website.
Sinwar added that the split between Hamas and Fatah had harmed Hamas as a resistance movement, saying that it "harmed all of us as a people and as a liberation movement, so we must end the division at any price."
In his remarks, Sinwar also addressed U.S. President Donald Trump's statement that Washington recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and said that "Trump’s actions on Jerusalem require rapid steps to reconcile and end this tragic chapter in the history of the people."
He added that "we are concerned about the possibility that reconciliation will fail and will continue for many years. The continuation of the current situation will have disastrous consequences, and therefore Hamas will not be part of the destruction. This declaration is a real opportunity to overcome the obstacles on the way to reconciliation."
Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement in October, as part of which Hamas was to transfer power in Gaza...

Aleppo triumphs festivity kicks off
Syrian Arab News Agency, 21 December 2017

Celebrating the first anniversary of Aleppo’s victory over terrorism, activities of the artistic festivity entitled “Aleppo triumphs” kicked off at the Artist Syndicate Theater in Aleppo
Information Minister, Mohammad Ramez Turjman, who attended the festivity, said: “Today we are celebrating the anniversary of Aleppo’s victory over terrorism,” emphasizing that “the victory of Aleppo is the victory of Syria, its civilization and history and the victory of every honest man”.
The Minister added that every stone and corner in Aleppo tells the story of steadfastness, patience and victory, and that the next phase requires collaboration of efforts to build what has been destroyed by terrorism.

Mayada Bselis - The Bells of Bethlehem (2009)

Mayada Bselis - Aleppo - Halab (2016)

Mohamed Al-Ahmad, the Minister of Culture, inaugurated the activities of the Aleppo Cultural Festival on Saturday 28/10/2017 at the Artist Syndicate Theater in Aleppo.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Minister said: "Let me start with a text by our great poet Nizar Qabbani, who says: All the routes of the Europeans reached Rome, All the paths among the Arabs reach poetry, All paths of love reach Aleppo...

Aleppo, rise from the dust of war and destruction, shake yourself from the ashes, and come back, as always, a shining queen of art and beauty. Cities that have lived for thousands of years, like Damascus and Aleppo, do not die. Their rise and development are based on the rigidity of their roots and the depth of their culture.
Indeed, a city that has known Abu Firas al-Hamdani, Abu al-Tayyib al-Mutanabi, Abdulrahman al-Kawakibi, Sabah Fakhri, Omar Abu Risha, Louay Kayali and many others cannot be destroyed.
The cultural act is an act of resistance to death and destruction in the face of black Takfiri thought. The liberation of Aleppo and other cities tell us full mouth:
There is no other option for Syria. The heroic army continues to fight armed terrorists, and its national rationalists will continue to fight all forms of irrational reactionary thought.

The opening ceremony included the screening of a short film about the city of Aleppo, produced by the National Film Organization, and the honoring of a number of great literary figures from Aleppo, followed by a concert of singer Mayada Beselis accompanied by maestro Samir Kwaifati.

Nizar Qabbani Bio

Nizar Qabbani was a Syrian-born poet, lawyer and diplomat who lived for much of his life outside of the middle east..
His work was often seen as a homage to womanhood and he campaigned staunchly for their equal rights.
He became much more interested in Arab causes after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The defeat of his compatriots was probably the reason for his change of direction from poetry of an erotic/romantic nature to something more overtly political...

He was a committed Arab nationalist and he used his own publishing house to express his sorrow about the outcome of the war while criticising those that he felt were responsible for the defeat.

Read also: The Feminism of Nizar Qabbani

Thousands of people took to the streets of Aleppo, today, to celebrate the first anniversary of the city’s liberation from terrorism. Civilians commemorated this anniversary by waving the flag of the Syrian Arab Republic, holding up pictures of fallen soldiers, and passing out candy. (Al-Masdar News, 21-12-2017)

UN assembly declares US action on Jerusalem 'null and void'
Saudi Gazette, 21-12-2017

Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman met with Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas in Riyadh. They discussed the latest developments in the Palestinian territories and intensifying practical efforts to restore the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people by establishing an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital. (Saudi Gazette, 21-12-2017)
UNITED NATIONS — The UN General Assembly voted 128-9 with 35 abstentions on Thursday in favor of a nonbinding resolution declaring President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital "null and void," a smaller margin than the Palestinians hoped for but also a rebuke to the Trump administration which is threatening to cut funding for those who voted "yes."
The Trump administration launched a massive lobbying campaign, which included letters sent from U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley to over 180 countries warning that the US would be taking names of those who voted against Trump's decision.
The nine countries voting "no" were the US, Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands and Togo. Among the notable abstentions were Australia, Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic and Mexico.
It is also noteworthy that 21 of the 193 UN member states were absent for the vote, including Kenya, Georgia and Ukraine which have close US ties.

The Palestinians and their Arab and Islamic supporters sought the General Assembly vote after the United States on Monday vetoed a resolution supported by the 14 other UN Security Council members that would have required Trump to rescind his declaration on Jerusalem as Israel's capital and not move the US Embassy there.
Before flying to New York, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused the US of intimidation and said they believe UN members will ignore US pressure.
"No honorable state would bow to such pressure," Cavusoglu said. "The world has changed. The belief that 'I am strong therefore I am right' has changed. The world today is revolting against injustices."

The resolution says Jerusalem "is a final status issue" and reaffirms 10 Security Council resolutions on Jerusalem, dating back to 1967, including requirements that the city's final status must be decided in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
The resolution demands that all states comply with Security Council resolutions...

China looks to rebuilding, makes move in Syria
Europe & US: The wrong side won
Daily Star (Lebanon), 22-12-2017

Western powers are reluctant to help rebuild Syria after its civil war, because they think the wrong side won. Russia and Iran played a major part in that outcome – but they can’t afford a bill estimated at a quarter-trillion dollars.
Enter China? Qin Yong is about to make his fourth trip to Syria this year. As vice-president of the China-Arab Exchange Association, he sees burgeoning interest among Chinese companies: “We get phone queries every day,” he said. “They see huge business potential there, because the entire country needs to be rebuilt.” The enthusiasm is reciprocated on the Syrian side. They’re like, don’t come tomorrow, come tonight!”

As the more than 6-year-old war winds down, with Bashar Assad still in power, the battle for influence in Syria has shifted to the diplomatic arena. Reconstruction, which the United Nations says could cost $250 billion, is a key part of it. Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared victory in his two-year military operation to shore up Assad, and is now appealing for international funds. At his annual press conference on Dec. 14, Putin showed signs of frustration. He said Syria will remain a breeding-ground for extremist groups such as Islamic State without improved living standards. “All people of goodwill around the world should understand that if we do not resolve this together, it will be their problem as well,” he said.

Regime Change:
The U.S. and its European and Gulf Arab allies, which backed the Syrian rebels, say that problem is largely of Putin and Assad’s making. They’ve eased up on calls for the Syrian leader’s immediate departure, but continue to insist that he can’t stabilize the country and has no long-term future. Withholding money for reconstruction is one of the few cards they have left.
The EU, Arab nations and the U.S. put aside $9.7 billion in April for humanitarian aid and rebuilding Syria. But in September U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the anti-Assad coalition won’t support reconstruction without a political transition.

Abd al-Kader Azouz, a consultant to Assad’s government, says money can be found from wealthy Syrians, the BRICS group of emerging economies and multilateral lenders not controlled by the West.
A few deals have been reached. Last year, Syria said it had agreed on 850 million euros of contracts for Russia to rebuild infrastructure. Iran signed accords worth “several hundred million euros” to repair power grids, Press TV reported. Russia says it’s been promised further contracts to rebuild Syria’s energy facilities.
Western involvement isn’t essential, Putin’s top envoy to Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, said in an interview in Ankara: “There are Russia, Iran, China, India and many other countries.” Still, he acknowledged that Syria’s post-war financial needs are “colossal.”

Syria fits into Chinese strategy. The country was a key link on the ancient Silk Road – and President Xi Jinping’s most ambitious plan involves building a new one: the multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to weave a Chinese web of trade and transportation links across Eurasia and Africa. Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who met his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem in New York in September, said that will be “an important opportunity for bilateral cooperation in future.”
For all those grand visions, there’s an immediate obstacle for Chinese business in Syria, according to Qin: Settlements in dollars and euros are banned, because of U.S. and EU sanctions aimed at cutting Assad’s regime off from the world economy.

Erdogan: US can't buy Turkish support on Jerusalem
The world should teach Washington a lesson
Reuters and Ynet|Published: 21.12.2017

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the United States on Thursday it could not buy Turkey's support in a vote at the United Nations General Assembly on Jerusalem, and said he hoped the world would teach Washington a lesson.
"Mr. Trump, you cannot buy Turkey's democratic will with your dollars", Erdogan said after US President Donald Trump threatened to cut aid to countries that support a draft UN resolution calling for the United States to withdraw its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
"I hope and expect the United States won't get the result it expects from there (the United nations) and the world will give a very good lesson to the United States," Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara.
Earlier on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the United Nations, calling it a "house of lies" ahead of a vote on a resolution expected to pass at the General Assembly that criticizes Trump's Jerusalem declaration.
The 193-member General Assembly will hold a rare emergency special session on Thursday at the request of Arab and Muslim states on Trump's decision, sparking a warning from Washington that it will "take names."

netanyahu & chabad: we don't search for truth, we are the truth

Donald Trump shows 'qualities usually found in narcissistic,
vengeful autocrats', says former CIA Director
The Independent US, 22-12-2017

Donald Trump behaved like “narcissistic, vengeful autocrat” when he threatened to withhold aid from United Nations (UN) members who criticised the US, a former CIA director has said.
John Brennan said it was “beyond outrageous” that the President had warned of retaliations against nations that voted to condemn his decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The resolution to declare Washington’s decision on the city’s status “null and void” was backed by 128 countries at the UN General Assembly, including the UK, despite American ambassador Nikki Haley promising the US would be “taking names” of any nations who supported it.
Trump Admin threat to retaliate against nations that exercise sovereign right in UN to oppose US position on Jerusalem is beyond outrageous,” Mr Brennan tweeted.
”Shows Donald Trump expects blind loyalty and subservience from everyone – qualities usually found in narcissistic, vengeful autocrats.”

Mr Brennan served as CIA director between March 2013 and January 2017, after twice being nominated for the role by Barack Obama. He left after Mr Trump's presidential inauguration ceremony. Since then, the former intelligence chief has been an outspoken critic of the billionaire Republican leader...

I Have, I Rule and I Will Destroy
Will Psychopaths Rule The World?

The most striking traits of the psychopath are lack of empathy and conscience.
Other traits are common to narcissism: psychopaths have a grand vision of their own importance. In their minds, everything is owed to them because they are exceptional.
They are never wrong, and failures are always the fault of others...incapable of feeling guilt.

Basically, the psychopath perceives others as objects.
He has a mechanical view of people and human relationships (and, in some way, of himself as well)...
The psychopath almost always develops an immoderate taste for money; he idealizes it as the epitome of power, the very essence of the social.
He thinks that people can be bought and sold like things, and life often proves him right.
The psychopath feels only very superficial emotions and has no real feelings for anyone... He is unable to empathize, but learns to simulate it, sometimes with a tendency to histrionics (Latin histrio, “theater actor”).
He is a manipulator.
It is through his extraordinary ability to feign, trick, trap, and capture that the psychopath draws his power.
Although he himself is immunized against guilt, he becomes a master in the art of using guilt to dominate others.
In his megalomania, the psychopath is convinced that when he uses others, it is for their own good.

Keywords: Lack of empathy, narcism, exceptionalism. Incapable of feeling guilt. Others are objects or commodities. Manipulation, morality is based on money. 'If you cann't use them, destroy them'

Israel to withdraw from UNESCO, following US
Unesco 'morally corrupt', 'frustrated', 'anti-Semitic'
Itamar Eichner|YNet News, 22.12.2017

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday instructed Israel's representative at UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen to submit to the organization's newly appointed Director-General Audrey Azoulay an official, written announcement of Israel's departure from the organization.
Israel would join the United States, which in October pulled out from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization following what it referred to as "anti-Israel bias."
The letter of departure will be submitted by Shama-Hacohen immediately after Christmas. According to the rules of the organization, departure shall take effect on the 31st of December of the year following the year of submission of the letter—meaning both the US and Israel are excepted to leave the organization by the end 2018.
The recommendation was made by Foreign Ministry Director-General Yuval Rotem, who presented it to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who adopted it today.
Shama-Hacohen congratulated Netanyahu on the decision, saying that Israel has no place in the organizations so long as it remains morally corrupt, and that it is our duty to support the US in its departure by joining it.
"UNESCO, led by the Arab countries and the rest of the despondent, frustrated and downtrodden parts of the world, has broken records of hypocrisy, incitement and lies against Israel and the Jewish people, polluting its noble values with politicization and political terrorism bordering on anti-Semitism," he stated.
"This departure is also our gratitude to our best and greatest ally, the United States, and in particular to its head of state and to its excellent ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley.
"For many years now, the United States has been worried that Israel will not walk alone, while facing a crushing majority and paying the price (for it). The United States is leaving UNESCO in the bottom line because of the State of Israel, and it is our moral obligation not to let it do so alone."

"There is no chosen people on this earth, whether Jewish, Muslim, Christian." Seyed Mohammad Marandi, 5-2-2008

The United Nation's education, cultural and scientific agency has passed several resolutions against Israel. It extended membership to Palestine in 2011.

"I learned to love my neighbours, and to seek truth and peace "
German Speaking website Muslim-Market interviewed Gilad Atzmon., 22-12-2017

"Since the 1970s America and the West have gone through a radical transition…. The Western worker has been reduced to a mere consumer.’" (Being in time, review, 4-12-2017)

-- MM: Mr. Atzmon, there has been a lot of nonsense written about you in the western media because of your critical positions on Israel. We would like to use this interview to understand your opinion and to correct the false reports. It is said, for example, that you are relativizing Hitler's crimes against the Jews. Is that true?
-- Atzmon: I will be as clear as I can. To start with, I am subject to slander and defamation because I extended my critique of Israel beyond the boundaries of mere political criticism or denunciation of ‘Zionism.’
I realised that since Israel defines itself as the Jewish State we better find out what the ‘J word’ stands for: Who are the Jews? What is Judaism and what is Jewishness?
While Israeli Jews have a relatively good understanding of these 3 concepts [..] the Jewish Diaspora and Jewish Left in particular prefer to keep these notions blurred and confusing.
This is the primary reason for the campaign against me. I moved the discourse beyond the banal Zionism vs. ‘anti’ rant. Those who follow my work understand that digging into Jewishness, the ideology at the core of choseness, of which Zionism is just one symptom, provides many answers.

-- MM: You once said that you are proud to be a self-hating Jew. Why don’t you just convert to another religion as you have already changed your citizenship?
-- Atzmon: To start with, I do not discuss my personal religious affairs in public. But I can assure you that I have not been a Jew for many years.
I am not the type of a person who could easily join any organised religion. But I enjoy following Jesus’ ecumenical lesson in my own way. I learned to love my neighbours, and to seek truth and peace. This is my personal Jihad.

-- MM: What is the motivation for your nerve-wracking and multi-sacrifice commitment to justice and peace in Palestine? We ask this question to encourage others who sooner or later give up in the face of the apparent superiority of the Zionist state.
-- Atzmon: It is way beyond Palestine by now. It is Syria, Libya, Iraq, and it extends to Greece and Portugal, and then Britain the USA and beyond. By now we are all Palestinians. We are all oppressed by that which we are not even allowed to articulate.
I am living on this planet and like others, I want to be emancipated. I guess that the ferociousness of the animosity against me suggests that some people out there are really afraid of my message. Considering that I am not a political figure nor am I an activist, I take it to mean that they must be afraid of my thoughts. This is worrying but it is also a compliment.

Syria: Christmas brings joy to once bloody Damascus streets
Al-Masdar News, 25/12/2017

A Christmas mass was celebrated at the Maronite Church in the Bab Tuma district of Damascus on Sunday night. The church is only a few hundreds of metres away from Jobar, where bloody clashes have erupted on a daily basis for the past five years. The surrounding streets, where thousands of people have been killed over the past few years, were filled with music as bands marched in a Christmas procession through the Syrian capital.

Jobar: one of the eastern suburbs of Damascus.

Smoke billows from an air strike on rebel-held parts of Jobar district in Damascus on March 19, 2017 after rebels and extremists launched a surprise assault on Syrian government forces. (Mohammed Eyad / AFP)

Jobar is located within the city’s borders and is one of the urban areas. A year after the armed conflict in Syria began, Jobar was taken under control by armed Islamist rebels, most numerous of which were the al-Nusra Front, Ahrar ash-Sham and Faylak ash-Sham.

Jaish al-Islam (The Army of Islam), is the foremost rebel group operating in the Damascus area. Its founding leader, Zahran Alloush, was killed in December of 2015. However, his brother Mohammed Alloush continues to head the political wing of the group and has been a featured representative of the Syrian opposition at the Syria peace talks in Geneva.
Saudi Arabia supports Jaish al-Islam with cash, supplies, weapons and satellite imagery, as well as with Saudi military advisors.

Flashback 2011 - There are three groups of protesters in Syria
ChamPress 10-10-2011

During a meeting with members of the Syrian community in Moscow, Assistant [..] Minister Abdelfattah Ammoura reviewed the reality of the situation in Syria, thanking the Russian leadership and people for their support and the use of veto at the Security Council to prevent passing a resolution against Syria.
He pointed out that there are three groups of protestors in Syria:

1, a group with just and legitimate demands,
2, a group of liberal intellectuals that don't represent wide demographics yet are respected and invited to join dialogue,
3, and a third group consisting of armed terrorist groups committing murder, assassination and vandalism and are provided with weapons and money from abroad...
Ammoura discussed the vicious media war against Syria in detail, noting that the Syrian media is debunking the lies and misdirection of biased media ...

Syria Rebels Reject Sochi Peace Initiative
Naharnet Newsdesk, 26-12-2017

Syria, 4-10-2017: The commander of the Mu'tasim Brigade, "Moatasem Abbas," told reporters that the brigade will work in coordination with the interim government and the Ministry of Defense to obtain diplomas for graduates of internationally recognized officers.
"Today the foundation stone for the first college for the training and graduation of officers has been laid", he added. Rebel 'Prime Minister' Jawad Abu Hatab told AlDorar's correspondent that it is important to get steps to build a new national army.

More than three dozen Syrian rebel groups, including influential Islamists, have rejected a Russian-led initiative for talks next month in Sochi on ending Syria's war.
Russia and Iran, both key allies of Syria's regime, agreed with opposition backer Turkey on Friday to hold a "Congress of National Dialogue" in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on January 29 and 30. Syria's government said it would attend but rebels have pushed back, calling it a Russian bid to eclipse a United Nations-led process in Geneva.
"We completely reject Russia's attempt to circumvent the Geneva track," the rebels said in a joint statement published Monday.
It was signed by 40 factions, including Islamist powerhouse Ahrar al-Sham and groups that have been backed by the United States such as the Mutasem Brigades.
Some of the factions played a significant role in the rebellion since the war broke out in 2011 but most have either been sidelined by other groups or control only small pockets of land.
Mustefa Sejari, a top Mutasem Brigades figure, told AFP on Tuesday that rebels could not see Russia as an honest broker.

Russia, Turkey, and Iran began hosting talks between Syria's government and armed rebels in Kazakhstan earlier this year, and announced the Sochi conference at the most recent round last week.

Russian General Staff: Jabhat al-Nusra militants in Syria to be wiped out in 2018
TASS Russian News Agency, December 27, 2017

An effort to eliminate members of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group (outlawed in Russia) in Syria will be completed in 2018, the chief of the Russian General Staff, Army Gen. Valery Gerasimov, said on Wednesday.
In an interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily, Gerasimov said that next year’s developments in Syria will include "the completion of eliminating militants from Jabhat al-Nusra and its affiliates."
"Some members of this terrorist organization operate in de-escalation zones," he continued. "Jabhat al-Nusra fiercely opposes [the ceasefire]. Therefore, they must be eliminated."
According to the chief of the Russian General Staff, biggest Jabhat al-Nusra groups operate in Syria’s Idlib governorate.
"I think that they will be done with after a while," he said.
Among other important tasks for the coming year, Gerasimov identified political settlement in the country, including preparations for the upcoming Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue.

On December 6, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the Islamic State terrorist group (outlawed in Russia) had been fully defeated on both banks of the Euphrates River in Syria. Five days later, Putin ordered the pullout of Russian forces from Syria, which was declared complete on December 22.
Along with the naval base in Tartus and the air base in Hmeymim, Russian military presence in Syria was cut to three military police battalions and the Center for the Reconciliation of the Warring Sides. According to Gerasimov, those forces are needed to support the Syrian government troops and defend Russian interests in the Middle East.

Alice Shalvi: Israel is a backward country:
an army state & a halachic state
Tali Farkash| YNet News, 23.12.2017

“Israel is a backward country. There has been a regression since the 1970s. When I look at what’s happening here, it’s sad.
Feminism for me is a point of view,” Alice Shalvi says. “It’s the real thing, it’s equality between all human beings in a society where there are no privileges for one group or another.
It’s sort of like what it says in our Declaration of Independence, which isn’t being implemented, unfortunately. That is, in my opinion, the real revolutionary thinking of feminism. Since it pursues equality, it has quite a bit of pacifism in it.
After all, what creates conflicts between people? When each person looks for his or her place in the world, and someone else comes along and gets in the way. For me, socialism, pacifism and feminism are integrated together.”

Shalvi serves as president of Kehilat Zion (the Zion Congregation). “It’s not a Conservative community,” she explains, “but it’s part of the Conservative Movement...
“The Kehilat Zion vision and what makes them so unique is the perception of Israeli Judaism, which combines all denominations and ethnic groups, and somewhat returns to the form of prayer (that was practiced) in the Land of Israel in ancient times.
I can say I perceive divinity, the ‘holy spirit,’ as something that makes us aspire to be more than we are.
It cannot be defined in a physical sense, and definitely not in a scientific sense. I find it in music, in meditation—the feeling that we live in a universe where there is room for everyone and life isn’t reduced just to matter.”
Shalvi finds it difficult to pray from the Siddur. “The acceptable prayer with the view of the divine figure as a father, a king, a totally male figure—it’s a language I can’t relate to. I have trouble praying using it.
In meditation, your soul looks for the superhuman, without words..."

Asked what should be done to change the current social picture, Shalvi points to two main factors:
-- “It won’t change until there is peace and the army is less central. With all the advancement of women in the army, it’s a male-dominated organization. Fighting is a male activity. The army’s place as far as our life is concerned leads to frivolity..."
-- “The second thing is the Rabbinate’s control, which leaves conversions and divorce in its hands. There is one establishment that doesn’t represent the entire population but fully controls it: The Rabbinate. It’s a completely male-dominated establishment, which doesn’t even include one woman..."
“According to my views, there shouldn’t be a religious establishment. It contradicts the deep-rooted Jewish principle of ‘Ashe Lecha Rav’ (find a rabbi who is right for you). Choose your authority on your own, if at all...
The problem in Israel is that there is no separation between the religious establishment and politics... We are a halachic state because of the Rabbinate’s power, and it is controlled by the Haredi public. The Ashkenazi rabbis are becoming increasingly Haredi.
These two centers—the army and the Rabbinate—are preventing the advancement of women in Israel.”

Jesus & The Rabbinate

In one chapter, Matthew 23, Jesus rips the scribes and Pharisees to shreds. Eight times He pronounces on them woe—defined by Webster's Dictionary as "deep suffering, grief, affliction, ruinous trouble." He dubs them "hypocrites" seven times, "blind guides" twice, "fools and blind" twice, "blind" once, "whitewashed tombs" once, and finishes His name-calling tirade by designating them "brood of vipers"!
He accuses them of being the children of those who had killed the prophets — a heavy-duty insult considering how proud they were of their ancestry. He predicts they would do the same themselves and declares that He would have nothing to do with them until they accept and bless the ones He sends.
Jesus was really worked up over this! Why?
These people were extremely careful in keeping every minor article of the law. They even added many precise rules themselves to ensure they did not overlook the law's details.
Their lives, and the lives of those under their jurisdiction, consisted of endless, mindless details. Endless, for they continued to break branches of the law down to twigs down to leaves.
Mindless, because this focus hampered their ability to think and properly weigh what was most important.
They became so involved in making sure everyone else obeyed their demands that they no longer remembered the fundamental purpose of the law or kept it properly themselves...

Nikki Haley & Exceptionalism
By Doug Bandow, The American Conservative, 27-12-2017

"It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation," Putin continued. "There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal." Vladimir Putin, 11-9-2013

As governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley didn’t have much need to worry about foreign policy. Yet for reasons unknown Donald Trump tapped her to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. There, she has performed to perfection, offering a model of the hubris and lack of awareness that consistently characterize U.S. foreign policy.
What makes America different from other nations when it comes to foreign policy is the certainty that it is the right—indeed, the duty—of Americans to run the world. That means telling everyone everywhere what they should do, not just internationally, but in their own nations, too.
U.S. officials believe they know how other societies should organize their governments, who foreign peoples should elect, what economic policies other nations should implement, and what social practices foreigners should encourage and suppress.
Washington officials rarely are so blunt, but their rhetoric is routinely suffused with arrogance. The concept of exceptionalism is one example...

Nikki Haley’s finest hubristic moment may have come after the president’s decision to move America’s embassy to Jerusalem. Israel treats that city as its capital... Since conquering East Jerusalem in the 1967 war, the Israeli government has been working assiduously to squeeze Palestinians out of the city.
That Haley kept a straight face while explaining how Washington could upset the status quo, outrage Palestinians, undercut Arab allies, and anger Muslims, yet still bring peace, harmony, and calm to the Middle East was to be expected. “We can see the peace process really come together,” she declared without a hint of irony.
But her finest moment was when she responded to criticism of the president’s decision, including by the other 14 members of the UN Security Council.
On Fox News she declared: “We have the right to do whatever we want in terms of where we put our embassies.” As for foreign criticism: “We don’t need other countries telling us what’s right and wrong....”

Other governments have no right to make decisions about their own countries, and need to be told what’s right and wrong by Washington on any and every subject, day or night, in sunshine, rain, or snow.
The U.S. is exempt from the rules it applies to other nations. Washington gets to lecture, but no one gets to tell Americans what they should do.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He is the author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire.

Friedman: 'PA's rhetoric is ugly and anti-Semitic'
Elad Benari, Arutz Sheva, 28/12/17 23:09

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman criticized the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) response to President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Some of the PA’s rhetoric has been “ugly, needlessly provocative and anti-Semitic,” he told The Jerusalem Post. The ambassador said the PA reaction was “largely emotional,” saying they “unfortunately overreacted”...
Last week, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas declared he would "no longer accept" any peace plan proposed by the United States in wake of Trump's decision on Jerusalem. "The United States has proven to be a dishonest mediator in the peace process and we will no longer accept any plan from it," Abbas said.

Responding to the PA’s rejection of any U.S. role in the peace process, Friedman said there will be no process without Washington’s involvement.
“Israel has made it clear that they will not engage under the sponsorship of any other nation. You cannot clap with one hand. Moreover, only the United States has the regional credibility to bring forward a historic peace agreement.”
Trump will go down in history “as one of Israel’s greatest friends,” and “we must all recognize and applaud the courage and moral clarity displayed by the president in affirming, against the wishes of so many other nations, the centrality of Jerusalem to Israel and the Jewish people.”

After ISIS, rise of a new Iraqi nationalism
Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor, 27-12-2017

The Sunni-Shiite balance of power has shifted dramatically in Iraq. Some Sunnis see it as a calamity. Others see it as an opportunity to make progress on unifying a nation that has long been marked by ethnic and religious divisions.

Iraq’s Arab Sunni community has traveled a long and painful trajectory since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein...
A widespread Sunni uprising in 2013 against the Shiite-first rule of the Baghdad government meant many Sunnis initially welcomed invading Islamic State forces in 2014.
As Iraq celebrates the defeat of ISIS, the Sunni Arabs’ collective failure to repel the jihadists, and the carnage they suffered under occupation, have left the minority community facing what some say is an existential crisis. Nearly every city left in ruins by the fight to expel ISIS – from Fallujah and Ramadi to Mosul – is predominantly Sunni.
The result, says an analyst in Baghdad, is a reckoning by some Sunnis that is helping create a fragile new Iraqi nationalism and yielding lessons about accommodation with the Shiite-led government.
There is a serious change in the way of thinking in the central government; everyone believes now that Iraq could not be ruled by one sect,” says Sheikh Fares al-Dulaimi, a Sunni leader who plays a role in government reconciliation efforts. “People start to understand now, but they need time.”

Flashback: A Bitter Legacy: Lessons of De-Baathification in Iraq
Miranda Sissons and Abdulrazzaq Al-Saiedi

From its inception in 2003, de-Baathifi cation was a deeply flawed process. Ineffective and incoherent, it polarized Iraqi politics and contributed to severe instability in the Iraqi military and government—not just in the first flush of regime change, but extending as far as the parliamentary elections of 2010, some seven years later.

De-Baathification is the term used to describe a series of legal and administrative measures introduced in Iraq shortly after the April 2003 fall of the Baathist regime. The overriding goal of de-Baathification was to prevent the Baath Party from returning to power in Iraq.
Baath members were not individually assessed on the basis of their competence, participation in human rights violations, or other measures of integrity. Instead, individuals were dismissed from government service depending on their rank in the civil service or Baath Party.
From the moment it was introduced in May 2003, de-Baathification was controversial.

Bremer arrived in Baghdad on May 12, 2003; four days later the CPA issued Order 1, “De-Baathification of Iraqi Society,” followed quickly by Order 2, “Dissolution of Entities.” These two orders established the initial framework of Iraq’s de-Baathification policy and were followed by many more. [..]

The year 2005 was marked by struggles to write Iraq’s new Constitution and maximize political power in the elections that followed. Sectarian attitudes were hardening. Shi’ite politicians were flexing their muscles but genuinely feared a return of Baath Party rule
Advocates of de-Baathification triumphed in securing strong de-Baathification provisions in the new Constitution.
The main Shi´a political parties strongly supported de-Baathification, particularly the Sadr bloc, to whom Maliki owed his prime ministership. The Sadr movement had a powerful armed street presence, and one of its members assumed leadership of the parliamentary de-Baathification committee.

What are the lessons of Iraq’s unhappy experiment? Based on our research and the experiences of modern vetting programs, ICTJ believes the lessons of de-Baathification are:

- Design a vetting program, not a purge. De-Baathification dismissed people based on rank, not behavior, and this created serious problems.
- Don’t create a monster. The framework, powers, and oversight of any vetting program should be defined clearly, and it should be carried out for a limited period of time.
- Look to the future. Design a program with criteria that can help protect against future abuse: think about promotion, recruitment, and other procedures, not just dismissals.
- Observe basic standards of fairness. This is strongly related to the first lesson. Fairness is not just a legal issue—it protects a vetting program from political manipulation and increases public confidence.
Vetting programs should respect the rule of law, or else they can undermine post-conflict reconstruction and transitional justice goals.

The International Center for Transitional Justice is an international non-profit organization specializing in the field of transitional justice. ICTJ works to help societies in transition address legacies of massive human rights violations and build civic trust in state institutions as protectors of human rights. (ICTJ website)

Syria Muslim Brotherhood rejects Russia-sponsored peace talks
Middle East Monitor, December 28, 2017

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has categorically rejected the Sochi conference sponsored by Russia scheduled for the end of January.
In a statement released yesterday, the group said that the conference is an attempt to consolidate the Russian occupation and ignore the political solution stipulated in the Geneva resolutions, which starts with the formation of a fully-fledged transitional authority which does not include Bashar Al-Assad and his regime.
The group reiterated its adherence to the principles of the Syrian revolution of overthrowing Al-Assad and his regime and rebuilding the country...
It also called on all revolutionary forces and Syrian national figures to boycott the Sochi conference. The Syrian opposition negotiating body said there was widespread rejection of the conference among opposition groups.

Russia, Turkey and Iran, the guarantors of the ceasefire in Syria agreed at the conclusion of the Astana 8 meeting last week to hold the Syrian national dialogue conference in the Russian resort of Sochi on 29-30 January.

Flashback: Statement from Syria Muslim Brotherhood
We will defend 'the Revolution" against the evil Iranian-Russian plots
IkhwanWeb, Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria understands the international plot being orchestrated and carried out against the Syrian people and its future generations... The group affirms and declares as follows:

Sheikh Mohamed al-Arifi (on podium), a leading Saudi cleric, calls for jihad in Syria during the conference on the stance of Muslim scholars on the situation in Syria.
(Daily News, 15-6-2013: 'Brotherhood supports calls for jihad in Syria')
- The group condemns and denounces the suspicious silence regarding the influx of tens of thousands of fighters in what has recently been called "Shiite Liberation Army".
- The group also condemns operations that go under the pretext of fighting terrorism to continue bombing and killing our people, as happened in the latest Kerry - Lavrov agreement. [..]
Facing up to revelations of this international conspiracy to impose a Russian – Iranian military on our people, the group announces the following:

1. The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria will not be a conduit for the crime of terminating the revolution, nor a bridge through which evil plots of the Russians and the Iranians and their accomplices are passed.
2. With all due respect for national action institutions and participants therein, the group declares it will always endeavor to make the positions of these institutions harmonious with the goals of the revolution...
3. The group affirms the autonomy of its patriotic decision, and declares that its commitment to retribution for the martyrs' blood and the Syrian people's sacrifices, and its support for the best interest of the Syrian revolution, are two things about which it will not hesitate or compromise.
4. Despite the siege imposed on it, in many forms, by various international and regional powers, the group will continue to put all its resources in the service of Syria and the revolution...

Libya second worst in world for doing business: Forbes Magazine
By Libya Herald, 20-12-2017

Libya is the second worst country in the world for doing business according to a survey by Forbes Magazine.
It came 149th out of 150 in its survey The Best And Worst Countries For Foing Business. Only Afghanistan was rated worse.

Forbes rated 153 counties on 15 different factors. These were property rights, innovation, taxes, technology, corruption, infrastructure, market size, political risk, quality of life, workforce, freedom (personal, trade and monetary), red tape and investor protection.
In the corruption section, Libya, along with Yemen, was classed as the “most corrupt” country in the world. It did not even make it onto the property rights list in which New Zealand came first and Yemen last.
Without a property register, property rights are difficult to assert in Libya.

Flashback 2011: Hillary Clinton's visit to the oil-rich country (18-10-2011) followed those by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as well as foreign ministers from Britain, Italy, and Canada.
Speaking on the flight from Washington to Tripoli, via Malta, a senior U.S. State Department official said the United States aimed to forge new civilian ties with the Libyan people as the U.S.-backed NATO air mission winds down. [..]
More broadly, he said, the U.S. wants to talk about “how to integrate Libya fully into the 21st century world economy in transparent ways where Libya’s oil wealth is used for the benefit of all of Libya’s citizens.”

The year of national feelings and critical thinking
Amina Khairy, Al-Ahram Weekly, 2017/2018

The rise of Islamism in Egypt thrived on closing the doors to thinking, let alone critical thinking.
According to Utrecht University in the Netherlands researcher Sander Mens in a piece entitled “Egypt between the State and Islam” published in 2015, “three-quarters of the Egyptian population is below the age of 25. Unemployment is very common, thus creating a large group of people with no reliable income. It is in these kinds of vulnerable socio-economic groups that religiosity usually blooms, as people seek an anchor or an assurance in their existence.”
“More often than not, they also rely on patronage and charity.... The incapacity (and unwillingness) of the state to provide welfare for this growing number of marginalised people creates a vacuum where large charitable organisations like the Muslim Brotherhood can easily settle and provide welfare from a religious standpoint...”

From an Islamist, or rather from a Muslim Brotherhood, standpoint, controversy in life is best avoided. Questions beginning with “why” are abhorred. Unanimity among the ulama (religious scholars) suffices. It is the duty of the non-ulama to follow it.
A third commandment left by Brotherhood ideologue Sayed Qotb says “do not build up argumentation, as it leads to suspicion.”
However, it is safe to say that 2017 has been the year of suspicion in the positive sense of the word. Critical thinkers are by nature sceptical, something which drives minds to work harder.
This past year has witnessed signs of a move towards critical thinking among many Egyptians, particularly those who can see for themselves the thunderous failure of mindless thinking and are now more open to questioning and evidence.
Over the years, many Egyptians have found themselves including religious figures in the list of untouchable religious notions. Ordinary human beings have acquired saint-like status, and those who dared to question, challenge or even declare dislike for some of these notions were regarded as having “contempt” for religion itself.
However, this past year witnessed a mini-exodus from the divinisation of religious figures.

There has also been a rising trend towards greater national feeling. Almost seven decades of the rise and fall, adoption and rejection, harmony and incongruity of nationalism have culminated this past year.
From Arab nationalism to the semi-Islamist, pro-Western, half-African and three-quarter Pharaonic nationalism that began under late president Anwar Al-Sadat to the loss of belonging and the vacuum of identity filled by Political Islam under former president Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians have been juggling with their identity.
2017 saw real questions and proper discussions being held, albeit sometimes behind closed doors, regarding Egyptian identity. There is a feeling, especially among the cultural elite, that it is acceptable to feel Egyptian while at the same time being Muslim or Christian and Arab without being carried away by draining conflicts.
It is acceptable to feel African and not be a stranger to the continent by emphasising Pharaonic history.