Saddam's Death, 124 (august 2018)
attempt to destroy political holism in the middle east

See also: Page 123: july 2018 and Page 125: august-part 2
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)
Abbas & Trump's "slap of the century"
John Bolton, prominent war hawk, National Security Adviser to President Trump
Lies & Provocations: France, UK and USA show their dark face
Trump, the 'deal-breaker'
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.

"...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

“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)

Jews must ditch Zionism, now
Middle East Robert Cohen, Mondoweis, April 8, 2018

Israel needs to stop being an ideology and start being a nation. A nation of all of its citizens, all with equal national, civil and religious rights.
After 70 years, only partial justice and restoration is possible for the Palestinian people. Whatever constitutional arrangements are arrived at, equality should be the guiding principle at work.
As for Zionism let’s ditch it and move on. 'It’s time to place it in a glass cabinet and put it in a museum in a room marked:
‘Dead Ends & False Messiahs’.

There is no “Judaeo-Christian heritage.”

"The practices under which Jesus was raised in Galilee were anathema to Judaic orthodoxy. One might discern the seedbed of Christianity and the teachings of Jesus within “Galilee of the Gentiles” and why his teachings were regarded with outrage by the Pharisaic priesthood. One can also discern why there has been such a hatred of Christianity and Jesus in the rabbinical teachings of the Talmud and elsewhere.
The phenomenon of such an oddity as “Christian Zionism” is for Zionists and the Orthodox rabbinate (which should not be confounded with Reform Judaism) nothing more than the equivalent of a “shabbez goy,” a Gentile hired by Orthodox Jews to undertake menial tasks on the Sabbath. “Judaeo-Christianity” only exists in the minds of craven Gentiles who embrace delusional creeds, or who wish to further their careers by making the correct noises to the right people. (Kerry R Bolton, Foreign Policy Journal, May 29, 2018)


"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)

Israel’s Druze Minority Furious over Apartheid Law
Juan Cole, 1-8-2018

Israel may never have been paradise for the some 20% of its citizens who are non-Jewish and Arabic-speaking. They did face de facto and sometimes even legal discrimination. But at least in the eyes of the law, they were full citizens.
After the passage last week of the “nationality” law, Israel is no longer multicultural. It is a country where national sovereignty solely lies in the hands of its Jewish citizens.
Among the Palestinian-Israelis with Israeli citizenship, only about 130,000 are Druze. Alone among the Palestinian-Israelis, the Druze serve in the military. And therein lies the rub. Two Druze officers have resigned over the nationality law.
It is one thing to labor under a discriminatory government, as most Palestinian-Israelis do. But to serve in its armed forces and to risk one’s life, and that of one’s sons, is a different matter. And to take that risk for the sake of an unequal state that discriminates against you?
Hence, some of the more poignant protests have come from parents who lost family members in wars. They say they were fighting for their ‘nationality’ but that now it isn’t theirs anymore.
They don’t belong to the sovereign nationality. They say they will do whatever they can to ensure that their grandchildren don’t serve in the Israeli army.

Israel benefited from being a multicultural country with a strong Jewish majority. There was always a tension between democracy and a tyranny of the majority, but it wasn’t unique and there was at least a little wriggle room for dissent in politics, the parliament, and the courts. It is now not even clear that Palestinian-Israelis have access to the Supreme Court for certain purposes that affect national sovereignty.
Israel is no longer a multi-cultural country, since sovereignty is explicitly vested solely in its Jewish citizens. And with that change, to what amounts to an apartheid state, Israel is losing the loyalty of the more conservative communities among the Palestinian-Israelis.
Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has turned them into Palestinians, without the hyphen. They are not stateless the way the latter are, but they aren’t full citizens either.
The statelessness of the refugees and the Occupied has finally rubbed off on them.

President al-Assad: Syrian Army an example
to follow in nationalism and sacrifice
Syrian Arab News Agency, 1-8-2018

Damascus, SANA- Commander in Chief of the Army and Armed Forces, President Bashar al-Assad stressed that the Syrian Arab Army is the fortress of the homeland in the face of aggression and that it has undermined the Zionist-American project which targets all without exceptions.
In a speech addressed to the armed forces on the 73rd anniversary of founding the Syrian Arab Army, published by al-Sha’ab magazine, President al-Assad said “Men of dignity and sovereignty, I congratulate you on your 73rd Day while you are moving from one achievement to another and from one victory to another in the face of the systematic terrorism and its regional and international backers.”

President al-Assad added “Our heroic armed forces, you have proven to the whole world over the past seven years that you are an integrated example to follow in nationalism and sacrifice and that you are the fortresses in the face of terrorism.”
“Your sacrifices and heroism allowed us to reach toady the security and stability in most areas, and you have undermined the Zionist-American project which targets all without any exceptions” President al-Assad said.
“The liberated areas are returning secure and stable thanks to your heroism and sacrifices and their locals are returning to them again after they got rid of terrorism and its backers,” President al-Assad said.
President al-Assad concluded his speech by hailing the martyrs and wishing a speedy recovery for the injured...

Al-Jaafari: Tenth round of Astana talks fruitful
Syrian Arab News Agency, 1-8-2018

Sochi, SANA – Head of Syrian Arab Republic delegation to the tenth round of Astana meeting in Sochi, Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari, stressed that this round of talks has been fruitful and yielded significant results, particularly the discussion of the displaced Syrians’ return to their homeland.
In a press conference at the conclusion of today’s round of talks, al-Jaafari said that the main obstacle before the return of Syrian refugees to their home is the unilateral coercive measures imposed on Syria by the US and the EU, renewing Syria’s request for these measures must be lifted immediately.
Al-Jaafari noted that Syria encourages local reconciliation processes, indicating that these processes do not include terrorist organizations listed by of the UN Security Council as terrorist entities.

The Syrian diplomat pointed out that the Turkish authorities have failed to respect thier obligations regarding the de-escalation zone in Idleb as provided by Astana statement as they sent military forces equipped with heavy weapons, occupied Afrin and expelled its inhabitants, adding that the presence of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organization in Idleb puts to the test the credibility of the Turkish regime in terms of implementing Astana statement and international resolutions.
He referred to Turkey’s transgressions which violate international laws such as the replacement of Syrian identity cards by Turkish ones in the areas it occupied, repeated the acts perpetrated by the Israeli occupation forces against people in the occupied Syrian Golan and established an industrial city in Jarablus city which reveals its hypocrisy regarding its claims of commitment to Syria’s sovereignty during Astana meetings...

War or Peace? Washington is not ready for a positive role
Arkady Savitsky, Strategic Culture, 31-7-2018

ISIS has been reduced to insignificance and the rebels have been defeated in the south and everywhere else in Syria, except in the province of Idlib. This is a big step forward toward stability in the country.
Although there are still many problems and contradictions between major actors that remain unsolved, there are signs that the negotiation process is picking up steam. The search for a peaceful solution appears to be going strong, but the list of those who are seeking it does not include the United States, at least not for now.
Perhaps this reflects the realization that Washington is not ready for a positive role and its reliability as a partner is questionable.
The US rejected Russia’s invitation to take part in the tenth meeting on Syria between the deputy foreign ministers of Russia, Iran, and Turkey, which is being held in Sochi July 30-31 under the auspices of the Astana process. This event brings together the Astana trio (Russia, Turkey, and Iran), the Syrian government, and opposition leaders, as well as observers from the UN and Jordan.
Washington refused to participate under the pretext that it sees the UN-brokered talks on Syria in Genera as a higher priority This is a feeble excuse, because the Astana process is not a substitute for the UN talks but rather a supplement to them. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Besides, the Astana initiative has led to the creation of de-escalation zones, while the Geneva process has failed to bring about any results and is at present stymied. While criticizing the diplomatic efforts of other nations, the US has not generated any initiative of its own.

It was announced on July 29 that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was seeking to hold a summit in Istanbul with France, Germany, and Russia on September 7. Ankara preferred to discuss Syria and the situation in the region with these countries and not the United States.
A tripartite summit between Russia, Iran, and Turkey will take place this year in Tehran. This was confirmed during the recent BRICS summit in South Africa.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), the political wing of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has launched talks with the Syrian government. It has done so independently, without coordinating that step with the United States.
The Council said on July 28 that it and the Syrian government had decided at a meeting in Damascus to "form committees on various levels" to develop negotiations to end the violence in Syria.
The SDF is not seeking independence, but rather a political agreement on the status of Kurdish autonomy. A deal could settle the conflict in most of the country. Damascus and the SDC agreed that the committees would "chart a road map to a democratic, decentralized Syria."

2002-2017 cartoons

Meanwhile, the US is not wasting time. It was reported on July 28 by Al Jazeera that “the United States is quietly pushing ahead with a bid to create a new security and political alliance with six Gulf Arab states, Egypt and Jordan” to oppose Iran.
The organization that will be formed is tentatively to be known as the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA).
“MESA will serve as a bulwark against Iranian aggression, terrorism, extremism, and will bring stability to the Middle East,” said a spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council.

There are two conflicting trends in Syria today. On the one hand, there are very promising prospects for a peaceful solution of the conflict. On the other hand, Syria could soon become a battlefield between MESA and Iran, thus once again bringing suffering to ordinary people in Syria.
A third option is a mediation effort. Let it be conducted in a back room if need be, the main thing is to prevent the worst. Russia is the only one who can do it, as it has good working relations with all the pertinent actors.
Moscow is friendly with the countries involved in the talks on establishing MESA, as well as those nations the alliance is being set up to oppose.
Russia is already trying to make diplomacy work, and it’s hardly its fault that the US decided to ignore the Sochi meeting.

Professor Entessar: Forming alliance among
PGCC member states is an illusory idea
Payman Yazdani, Iranian Diplomacy, 31-7-2018

The United States is quietly pushing ahead with a bid to create a new security and political alliance with six Persian Gulf Arab states, Egypt and Jordan in part to counter Iran's expansion in the region. The White House wants to see deeper cooperation between the countries on missile defense, military training, counterterrorism, and other issues such as strengthening regional economic and diplomatic ties.
To know more about the issue we reached out to Professor Nader Entessar, who is the Chair of Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of South Alabama.

-Q: Why is the U.S. trying to form such an alliance?
-A: The United States is manically obsessed with Iran and is throwing darts in different directions with the hope of undermining Iran and its national security. We have to see the idea of forming a broad anti-Iran alliance against Tehran in the context of Washington's overall policy in the Persian Gulf and beyond.
-Q: Considering the differences among these Persian Gulf Arab states, to what extent you think these states will be able to form such an alliance?
-A: The Arab world, in general, and the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, in particular, are more fractious today than they have been in decades. What used to be called the "Arab consensus" does not exist today. What is euphemistically referred to as the "Arab world" today is a patchwork of competing countries. Forming an enduring alliance among the Arab states of the Persian Gulf is an illusory idea concocted by the West, especially the United States.
-Q: What is the best security architecture for the Persian Gulf? Is it possible to provide the security of the region without the presence of all states?
-A: The best security architecture for the Persian Gulf is one that is structured on regional arrangements that guarantee the security and national integrity of all states.
Functioning security arrangements cannot be seen as zero-sum games in which the goal is to eliminate or sideline one state.
In the Persian Gulf, security arrangements that have been formed or talked about in the past 40 years have had one thing in common: containing and/or damaging Iran's national interests. That is why such arrangements have been failures.

The chief challenges come from within, not from Iran.
Doug Bandow, The American Conservative, 2-8-2018

The chief challenges facing the Gulf States come from within, not from Iran.
To begin with, none of them have political legitimacy. How can seven monarchies, typified by Saudi Arabia’s totalitarian absolute rule, plus one dictatorship (Egypt), appeal to disaffected young Arabs?
Only mass repression can preserve these regimes.
Serve the royals so they buy another luxury yacht or build a new palace? Not good reasons to fight and die. Bahrain and Egypt are especially brutal tyrannies, while Jordan and the other Gulfdoms are better, but all are still notably unfree. Kuwait offers the greatest popular participation with an elected assembly and vibrant press, but it’s a rare exception in a region of autocracies. Moreover, the Gulf countries perceive the Iran threat very differently.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain are implacably opposed to Tehran. Jordan’s relationship is difficult, but not particularly confrontational. Egypt’s perspective has varied over time, but Cairo has never seen Iran as a security threat.
Oman and Qatar cooperate with Tehran, and Kuwait has maintained friendly contact, including diplomatic relations.
So whatever might unite these eight nations, it isn’t fear of Iran. This will make common defense difficult and an Arab NATO virtually impossible.

MESA would be particularly problematic because it would be dominated by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, which would use the organization to promote their, not their fellow members’ or America’s, ends.
They have the biggest militaries, with Bahrain and Egypt on their payrolls. And the Saudis and Emiratis last year launched a campaign to turn Qatar into a veritable puppet state (in response, Turkey deployed troops in support of Qatar).
A U.S.-backed security system would provide Riyadh and Abu Dhabi with another means of pressing their neighbors to comply with their wishes.
Indeed, Riyadh, often in conjunction with the UAE, has demonstrated more aggressive ambitions than Iran: backing the Khalifa family’s authoritarian rule in Bahrain with troops and cash, financing the oppressive al-Sisi dictatorship in Egypt, underwriting radical jihadists in an attempt to overthrow the al-Assad government in Syria, kidnapping Lebanon’s prime minister on a visit to the Kingdom in an attempt to destabilize that government, and launching a murderous, aggressive war against Yemen to reinstate a pliable ally.
The Saudis and Emiratis would use MESA to manipulate their neighbors and, most importantly, the U.S.

Nowhere else have Washington’s expectations and practical consequences been as divergent as in the Middle East. Decades of U.S. involvement have left America hostage to the counterproductive policies of irresponsible allies, such as Israel.
Our meddling has birthed hostile governments, most notably in Iran, and groups, such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State; it has entrenched brutal tyrants, ranging from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, and created instability, even chaos, as in Iraq and Libya.
Virtually every Middle East problem today that elicits cries for more American involvement resulted from misguided U.S. interference a year ago, a decade, or more.
Creating MESA would double down on Washington’s manifestly failed Mideast strategy. Instead, the Trump administration should move in the opposite direction, exiting what has become a conflict that is both endless and purposeless.

Turkey to clear Idlib of militants to prevent Syrian government assault
Ece Goksedef, Middle East Eye, 1-8-2018

Turkey is working to clear al-Qaeda and Islamic State-affiliated groups from Idlib, staving off a major offensive by Damascus against the last rebel-held stronghold in Syria.
According to a Turkish diplomatic source who has been working on Syria for six years, Ankara is working with other opposition groups in Idlib to eliminate the militants.
Most of Idlib is controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), formerly al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria.

hts rebels & hts leader al-jolani, 2017

Idlib, a province of two million inhabitants, is one of the "de-escalation zones" agreed by the three countries after previous talks in the Kazakhstan capital Astana. Turkey has set up 12 monitoring posts in opposition-controlled areas, while the Iranians and Russians set up posts in the government-controlled regions.
There are around 70,000 Turkish-backed opposition fighters in Idlib and the previously Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin.
Russia’s Syria envoy Alexander Lavrentiev told Russian journalists after the talks that there was no question of an operation or a major assault on Idlib.
“We hope that the opposition along with our Turkish partners will manage to stabilise this region. Because the threat coming from this zone is still significant,” he said.
As a first step, on Tuesday, Turkey used its power over the groups in Idlib to remove a checkpoint controlled by HTS. The checkpoint was the largest controlled by HTS on the main road between Aleppo and Damascus - a crucial route for all the parties.

Southwestern Syria fully seized by Syrian government troops
International observers return to the border
RT Russia, 2-8-2018

Syrian government forces and militant groups which chose to support them have succeeded in eliminating the remaining pockets of jihadists in southwestern Syria, the Russian military says.
The governorates of As-Suwayda, Daraa, and Quneitra have been fully seized by Syrian government troops, Colonel General Sergey Rudskoy, the head of operations of the Russian General Staff, reported on Thursday.
He called the operation, which has been going on for the past month, “unique,” announcing that the final pocket of resistance of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist group in Quneitra was overrun on Wednesday. More than 160 Islamist fighters were taken captive.
The success comes after several armed groups in the area, persuaded by Russia’s offer of amnesty, chose to stop fighting Damascus and side with government troops to fight against the radical jihadists, the Russian general said.
“The militants were offered the options to either receive amnesty and return to peaceful lives or take their families and go to the Idlib governorate,” Rudskoy said. “An overwhelming majority of the members of the armed groups chose to stay in their home villages and towns.”
Rudskoy said that almost 10,000 people were given free passage to Idlib, including almost 4,300 fighters.

The progress also allowed international observers, who withdrew in 2012, to return to the border between Syria and the Israeli-occupied part of the Golan Heights, the general said.
UN monitors were offered the protection of Russian military police to carry out their mission.
Russian troops are also involved in assisting the local population in the liberated area with policing, distribution of humanitarian aid, and removal of explosives. The effort is meant to provide the opportunity for refugees and internally displaced individuals to return to their homes soon, Rudskoy said.
The general criticized the US military outpost in Syria’s al-Tanf area on the border with Jordan, saying that an increasing number of jihadist troops have been taking refuge in the area and launching attacks from it on government-controlled parts of Syria:
“Of special concern for us is the situation in the Rukban refugee camp, where 60,000 people are living in harsh conditions and where terrorists find shelter..."

Osama Bin Laden was 'brainwashed' by Muslim Brotherhood
The National, August 3, 2018

Osama Bin Laden, the founder of Al Qaeda, was “brainwashed” at university by the Muslim Brotherhood, his mother has revealed.
Speaking about her son publicly for the first time since the aftermath of terror attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001, Alia Ghanem said she noticed a change in Bin Laden while studying economics at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in the 1970s.
He was a very good child until he met some people who pretty much brainwashed him in his early 20s. You can call it a cult,” Mrs Ghanem told British newspaper The Guardian from her family home in Jeddah.
“They got money for their cause. I would always tell him to stay away from them, and he would never admit to me what he was doing, because he loved me so much.”
One of the people Mrs Ghanem referred to was Muslim Brotherhood member Abdullah Azzam, who later became his spiritual adviser.
“The people at university changed him,” she told the newspaper. “He became a different man.”

Mrs Ghanem, a member of the influential Bin Laden family by marriage, said her son travelled to Afghanistan to fight against the Soviet occupation in the early 1980s, telling her he was going there on family business. She said she had no idea that he had become a terrorist.
Two of Bin Laden’s half brothers Hassan and Ahmad, who were present at the interview, said they were shocked when they learned of his involvement in the 9/11 attacks that killed around 3000 people. They said the last time they saw him was during a trip to Afghanistan in 1999 at his base outside Kandahar.
After years on the run, Bin Laden was eventually found in 2011 in Pakistan and shot dead by a US Navy Seal team.
Mrs Ghanem said that two of her son’s wives have been allowed back in Saudi Arabia with their children. She said she speaks to his “harem” most weeks and they live nearby.

Abdullah Azzam (1941-1989) was a Palestinian Islamist preacher who helped found al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Lashkar-e-Taiba. He is often referred to as the father of global jihad, and was instrumental in recruiting foreign fighters to Afghanistan in the 1980s. Azzam theorized that Muslims should fight a single, global jihad against their enemies as opposed to smaller, separate national fights.
Azzam served as Osama bin Laden’s mentor, and has reportedly influenced such notorious terrorists as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Anwar al-Awlaki.

Azzam was born in Jordan-controlled Transjordan (now the West Bank) in 1941. During the 1967 war with Israel, Azzam’s family fled east across the Jordan River into Jordan proper.
Azzam’s resentment toward Israel later fueled his ambitions to help found Hamas.
Azzam studied Islamic law and philosophy at several schools in Damascus and at Al-Azhar University in Egypt. He was offered a teaching position at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he taught Osama bin Laden.
Azzam reportedly imparted his understanding of jihad to bin Laden, and served as a spiritual mentor in the years preceding the formation of al-Qaeda.
In response to the Soviet Union’s 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, Azzam published The Defense of Muslim Lands, in which he called for a religious war to liberate Muslim lands from foreign occupiers. Fighting such a war, Azzam believed, was a “Fard Ayn, a compulsory duty upon all [Muslims].”
In 1979, Azzam and bin Laden traveled to Peshawar, Pakistan, close to the Afghan border, to join the fight against the Soviet occupation. The pair created the Maktab al-Khadamat or “Services Office,” which organized the influx of foreign fighters responding to the call of jihad. Al-Qaeda would later evolve from these efforts.

Following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, Azzam urged bin Laden to take the jihad to the Palestinian territories. However, bin Laden instead stayed back in Afghanistan and combined forces with Ayman al-Zawahiri to form al-Qaeda.
Azzam had long promoted jihad against Israel. In the 1960s, he held membership in the Islamic Movement, a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Palestinian territories. The movement evolved into Hamas in 1987. (Counter-Extremism-Project)

There are two Osama bin Ladens
Martin Chulov, The Guardian, 3-8-2018

Bin Laden’s legacy remains one of the kingdom’s most pressing issues.
I meet Prince Turki al-Faisal, who was the head of Saudi intelligence for 24 years, between 1977 and 1 September 2001 (10 days before the 9/11 attacks), at his villa in Jeddah. An erudite man now in his mid-70s, Turki wears green cufflinks bearing the Saudi flag on the sleeves of his thobe.
“There are two Osama bin Ladens,” he tells me. “One before the end of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and one after it. Before, he was very much an idealistic mujahid. He was not a fighter. By his own admission, he fainted during a battle, and when he woke up, the Soviet assault on his position had been defeated.”

Bin Laden travelled to Afghanistan with the knowledge and backing of the Saudi state, which opposed the Soviet occupation. Along with America, the Saudis armed and supported those groups who fought it.
The young mujahid had taken a small part of the family fortune with him, which he used to buy influence. When he returned to Jeddah, emboldened by battle and the Soviet defeat, he was a different man, Turki says.
He developed a more political attitude from 1990. He wanted to evict the communists and South Yemeni Marxists from Yemen.
I received him, and told him it was better that he did not get involved...
“He had a poker face,” Turki continues. “He never grimaced, or smiled. In 1992, 1993, there was a huge meeting in Peshawar organised by Nawaz Sharif’s government.” I also saw him there. Our eyes met, but we didn’t talk. He didn’t go back to the kingdom. He went to Sudan, where he built a honey business and financed a road.”
By 1996, Bin Laden was back in Afghanistan. Turki says the kingdom knew it had a problem and wanted him returned.
He flew to Kandahar to meet with the then head of the Taliban, Mullah Omar. “He said, ‘I am not averse to handing him over, but he was very helpful to the Afghan people.’ He said Bin Laden was granted refuge according to Islamic dictates.”
Two years later, in September 1998, Turki flew again to Afghanistan, this time to be robustly rebuffed. “At that meeting, he was a changed man,” he says of Omar. Instead of taking a reasonable tone, he said, ‘How can you persecute this worthy man who dedicated his life to helping Muslims?’” Turki says he warned Omar that what he was doing would harm the people of Afghanistan, and left.
According to officials in Riyadh, London and Washington DC, Bin Laden had by then become the world’s number one counter-terrorism target...

At last, an end to the masquerade of Israel’s ‘democracy’
Yossi Mekelberg, Arab News, August 04, 2018

Initially one is pressed to find a single item of merit in the new Nation-State Law, which rubber stamps the descent of Israel toward a Jewish ethno-religious society. It leaves the country a democracy in name, but hardly in practice. Add to this the constant attacks by forces within and outside the government on the country’s democratic institutions, especially on the Supreme Court, and this downward spiral becomes all too obvious.
Yet the Nation-State Law has one distinctly positive value that deserves recognition; it ends the 70-year masquerade of Israel being a fully fledged democracy in which all its citizens are equal in the eyes of the law.
The provisions of this new law will surprise only the naïve or unaware. It states overtly what has been clear for a long time — that Israel’s Jewish majority has rights and privileges not enjoyed by the Arab minority who comprise one fifth of its population. The new law, which as a Basic Law has constitutional powers, has confirmed the Arab citizens of the Jewish state as second-class citizens.

Israel seems to be on a mission to drain its democratic character and institutions of any substance. Throughout its history it has suffered from a democratic deficit. The Palestinians who remained after 750,000 of them were either driven from their homes or forced out by the horrors of the 1948 war had to live under a military government for another 18 years. Their legal status and living conditions might have improved since then, but equality in the eyes of the law, or in the eyes of the Jewish majority, has never materialized...

In Israel today, the mask of a tolerant society that treats everyone equally has finally been removed. But this dark cloud may have a silver lining.
There is now a clear demarcation between right and wrong; just and unjust; enlightened and bigoted; democratic and undemocratic.
There is no more ambiguity or vagueness about the direction in which the current government is taking the country: entrenching the occupation of the West Bank, tightening the blockade in Gaza, and marginalizing and discriminating against Palestinian Israelis living within Israel proper.
Every Israeli now has a clear choice regarding what side of the argument they are on, and what they are prepared to do about it.
There is no hiding place any longer for those who believe in the values of the Declaration of Independence and in equality for all, and there is no time for apathy. It might be the last wake-up call for all who believe in the rights of everyone to live freely and equally, before Israel is finally transformed into a messianic, ultranationalist state. And that will be a dark day indeed.

Yossi Mekelberg is professor of international relations at Regent’s University London, where he is head of the International Relations and Social Sciences Program.

Rouhani: Iran cannot talk to US while under sanctions
Al-Jazeera News, monday, 6-8-2018

President Hassan Rouhani has declared that Iran cannot enter talks with the "untrustworthy" administration of US President Donald Trump as long as Tehran is under the shadow of economic sanctions.
Rouhani made the comments in a televised interview on Monday evening, just hours before the first round of unilateral "snap back" US sanctions take effect on Tuesday.
"You cannot expect to talk to a person after you stab him and leave the knife in his body," Rouhani, speaking in Persian, told IRIB state television.
He said the United States proved to be an unreliable negotiating partner when it decided to withdraw from a multinational nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions against it.
"If there is trust, Iran always welcomes negotiations," he said. "But negotiations don't make sense while we are under sanctions."
In late July, Trump, who has repeatedly criticised Iran's leaders, said he is willing to meet with them with no preconditions - even though US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later walked back some of the president's comments.
Speaking to IRIB, Rouhani said Trump's offer to negotiate is aimed at "creating divisions" in Iran, accusing him of trying to launch "psychological warfare" against the Iranian people.
Earlier on Monday, Trump signed an executive order paving the way for the return of biting sanctions against Tehran on Tuesday.
The reimposed sanctions will target a range of sectors, blocking Iran from purchasing US banknotes and trading in gold and metals. They will also limit Iran's access to the software and automotive sectors while blocking its ability to buy commercial aircraft or trade in food and other goods as well.
The US said the sanctions are aimed at exerting "maximum economic pressure" against Iran.

EU to Block US Anti-Iran Sanctions to Defend Business
Sputnik News (Russia), 6-8-2018

EU foreign policy Chief Federica Mogherini noted earlier this month that the bloc intended to step up trade and cooperation with Tehran, despite US sanctions.
Federica Mogherini and foreign ministers from the UK, France, and Germany said in a statement that their counties would keep "effective financial channels" open with Iran, adding that they "deeply regret" that Washington had withdrawn from the Iranian Nuclear Deal and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran.
"This is why the European Union's updated Blocking Statute will enter into force on 7 August to protect EU companies doing legitimate business with Iran from the impact of US extra-territorial sanctions," the statement reads.
The statute will forbid European businesses from complying with the US sanctions, nullifying any foreign court rulings against them and allowing them to recover damages from the penalties.
The European politicians also confirmed their commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as Iranian Nuclear deal.
"The remaining parties to the JCPOA have committed to work on, inter alia, the preservation and maintenance of effective financial channels with Iran, and the continuation of Iran's export of oil and gas," the statement added.

Assassination of prominent Syrian figures:
Blatant attempt to undermine Syria
Syrian Arab News Agency, 6 August 2018

For over eight years, the sponsors of terrorism in Syria have used many methods to destroy the state and undermine it and prevent it from playing its role, chief among them is the assassination of prominent Syrian figures.
On Saturday, Dr. Aziz Isber, head of the Center for Scientific Research, was assassinated, by targeting his car with an explosive device in the area of Misiyaf in the western countryside of Hama.
The assassination of Dr. Isber came to complement the crimes of the Israeli and US enemies, who have targeted the Syrian Scientific Research Center multiple times through launching direct aggression, due to its role as a leading scientific institution in Syria.
The assassination of Syrian scientific talents began in 2012 when terrorists, who were called by the West as “rebels”, targeted Dr. Nabil Zogheib, with his family, as well as the young inventor Issa Abboud, along with many doctors, journalists, engineers and experts all across Syria via terrorism tools.
Back in the 1980s, the Israeli enemy, hand in glove with the Muslim Brotherhood which today constitutes the backbone of al-Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra, assassinated many scientific figures, including Dr. Muhammad al-Fadhel, the doctors Shehadeh Khalil and Ibrahim Naama.
This type of crimes constitute a blatant attempt to target the future of Syria...

Flashback 2012: "What type of Islam do they represent?"
Democratic-Syria blog, 12-10-2012

Dr. Mahmoud Tasabihji (Muslim) head of the University Hospital in Aleppo and a prominent very well known ENT specialist in Aleppo city was kidnapped 6 weeks ago from front of his house in Al Sabeel neighborhood by a group of armed FSA terrorists.
Today October 12, 2012, his body was found in Castillo neighborhood in Aleppo city with a number of bullet wounds on his body and one shot was in his head.

Since the beginning of the crisis in Syria, the FSA [..] had a list of Syrian brains to be killed, a number were killed in the quest of 'democratizing' the country like Dr. Ahlam Imad (Muslim), a professor in Petrochemical in Baath University in Homs with 5 of her family members on June 28,2011; nuclear scientist Aws Abdul Karim Khalil (Muslim) assassinated in Homs on September 28,2011; General scientist professor Nabil Zogheib (Christian) with his wife & 2 sons were killed on 21 July 2012 in Damascus, Brigadier Dr. Issa Al Khouli (Christian) head of Hamish military hospital was killed near his house in Rukn Eddin in Damascus on 11 February 2012, to name a few.

While Islam promotes learning and honors scientists these Wahhabi freaks came out in the name of Islam just to kill scientists and destroy knowledge, which makes us wonder what type of Islam do they actually represent...

​5 nuclear scientists assassinated near Damascus
RT Russia, 10 Nov, 2014

Five Syrian nuclear scientists have reportedly been killed by unknown assailants while riding a bus north of Damascus, near the research center where they worked, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports.
“Unidentified attackers murdered five nuclear energy engineers who worked in the scientific research center near the neighborhood of Barzeh, northern Damascus,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. “Their bus was ambushed while they were on their way to the research centre. Their assailants shot them dead," Rahman said.
This is not the first time that Syrian scientists have been targeted in deliberate assassinations.
Workers at the Scientific Research Center in Barzeh were targeted by a group of jihadists who shot an RPG at their commuter bus on July 31, 2013, killing 6 workers and injuring 19 others.
Another military research center was also hit by a deadly Israeli raid in May 2013.

Israeli Securiy Minister: "The EU is morally bankrupt"
‘Good chance’ Iran will renegotiate nuclear deal
Times of Israel, 7-8-2018

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Tuesday praised the US for reimposing tough sanctions on Iran that brought back into effect the harsh penalties lifted under the Iran nuclear deal.
“It would be better if the Iranian regime would disappear entirely from this world, but it would also be a blessing to see Obama’s bad nuclear agreement replaced with a better one,” he told Israel Radio. US President Donald Trump abandoned the deal in May.
“In my opinion, there is a good chance of that,” said Erdan, who also heads the Strategic Affairs Ministry. “We can already see positive results from what Trump did.”
Erdan criticized the European Union for trying to salvage the deal by ensuring that economic benefits guaranteed under the 2015 accord continue to flow to the country.
The EU is morally bankrupt, and we need to remember that next time they try to lecture us,” Erdan said. The EU, along with China, Russia, France, Germany and the UK, was also a signatory to the deal and has not withdrawn.
In Israel, the reimposition of US sanctions was lauded as a historic turning point that could ultimately lead to the Islamic Republic’s downfall.
On Tuesday, Israel Radio quoted an unnamed senior official who said the Israeli intelligence community was optimistic the sanctions would lead to major changes in Iran and force Tehran to renegotiate the deal.
“We would like to see a change in policy, but there is no way of knowing how long that will take,” the official said.
“The only hammer available right now is economic, and using that, there is a good change Iran will fall to its knees,” he said. “Right now Iran is weak and hysterical.”

Gilad Erdan: Make Palestinians pay for refusing to make peace
By Gil Hoffman , Jerusalem Post, February 13, 2017

The Palestinians should be made to pay a price for failing to reach an agreement with Israel, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said at Monday's Jerusalem Conference.
Erdan said that in the past, the Palestinians had a mantra that time was on their side and waiting to reach an agreement with Israel would pay off for them.
He said that now with a pro-Israel president in Donald Trump, time worked against the Palestinians.
"The Trump presidency is a historic opportunity to say the land of Israel is ours," Erdan said.
"With a friend who realizes settlements aren't an impediment to peace, the Palestinians can be made to realize that time no longer works in their favor and that they will pay a price for their refusal.
There should be building everywhere in Judea and Samaria, not just in Jerusalem and settlement blocs, because that would set a de facto border."
Erdan said now was the time for Israel to apply sovereignty to Ariel and Greater Jerusalem, including Gush Etzion.
He said the policies of Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama's policies were "180 degrees the opposite of what we believe in."
Earlier, in an interview with Army Radio, Erdan said that all the members of the security cabinet oppose a Palestinian state, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told the security cabinet ministers when they met Sunday that he would not renounce his support for a two-state solution.

Russian Foreign Ministry reaffirms commitment to Iran nuclear deal
TASS Russian News Agency, 7-8-2018

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) for Iran’s nuclear program is solid enough and its participants are capable of overcoming the current difficulties, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a Tuesday statement, commenting on the restoration of US sanctions on Tehran.
"We are confident that the JCPOA is solid enough," the statement reads. "Participants in the deal are capable of overcoming the emerging difficulties. We reaffirm our commitment to the JCPOA," the Russian Foreign Ministry added.
The ministry pointed out that Moscow would do everything necessary to maintain and fully implement the Iran nuclear deal.
"We have been taking measures at the national level in order to defend trade and economic cooperation with Iran. We also continue working with other responsible participants in the JCPOA in developing collective decisions aimed at accomplishing the tasks of maintaining and boosting international trade and financial cooperation with Iran, set by the foreign ministers of the parties in a statement adopted at the July 6 meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission.
We believe that this work is in line with the interests of the entire international community," the document adds.

The Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that the JCPOA was proving effective, which had been verified during inspections carried out by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). "The verification and control measures that the Plan stipulates are fully applicable, which in itself is a reliable evidence of the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program," the statement notes.
At the same time, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed disappointment with the restoration of US sanctions on Iran. "This is a striking example of Washington’s violations of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 and international law," the statement says, adding that Russia condemned unilateral sanctions, which bypassed the UN Security Council’s decisions, including their "extraterritorial application that affects the interests of other countries."
"The international community should not let important achievements of multilateral diplomacy be sacrificed to Washington’s desire to settle political scores with Iran in matters that have nothing to do with the JCPOA," the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed.
"Years of experience show that it is impossible to pressure Iran for concessions," the statement noted.

In swipe at Trump, Iran FM says world affairs not a ‘beauty pageant’
The Times of Israel Staff and AP, 7 August 2018

Iran’s foreign minister dismissed US President Donald Trump’s assertion Tuesday that the reimposition of sanctions on the country is aimed at achieving “world peace,” and said US threats to cut off trade with nations that do business with the Islamic Republic would rebound like a boomerang.
Mohammed Javad Zarif’s response came as a first round of sanctions on Iran took effect as part of the US withdrawal from the 2015 international accord meant to limit the Iranian nuclear program.
“Stopping US trade and killing 100K US jobs is fine with us, but the world won’t follow impulsive tweeted diktats. Just ask EU, Russia, China & dozens of our other trading partners,” added Zarif.
Zarif also took a swipe at Trump’s pre-presidential career, saying world affairs were not a “beauty pageant.”
Reminder: International relations is not a beauty pageant, with tired clichés about a desire for WORLD PEACE. And it is not the first time that a warmonger claims he is waging war for ‘world peace,'” he wrote.

In an early-morning tweet, Donald Trump said the reimposition of sanctions means “anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States.” “I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!”
As the sanctions loomed Monday, Trump said in a statement, “We urge all nations to take such steps to make clear that the Iranian regime faces a choice: either change its threatening, destabilizing behavior and reintegrate with the global economy, or continue down a path of economic isolation.” Trump warned that those who don’t wind down their economic ties to Iran “risk severe consequences.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran still can rely on China and Russia to keep its oil and banking sectors afloat.
Speaking in a television interview, he also demanded compensation for decades of American “intervention” in the Islamic Republic.
The “Trump Administration wants the world to believe it’s concerned about the Iranian people,” Zarif said on Twitter Monday. But, he said, the reimposed sanctions would endanger “ordinary Iranians.” “US hypocrisy knows no bounds,” he said.

How BRICS Plus clashes with the US economic war on Iran
by Pepe Escobar, Asia Times, 28-7-2018

The key take away from the BRICS summit in Johannesburg (july 26) is that Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – important Global South players – strongly condemn unilateralism and protectionism.
The Johannesburg Declaration is unmistakable: “We recognize that the multilateral trading system is facing unprecedented challenges. We underscore the importance of an open world economy.”
In a not too veiled allusion to the Trump administration’s unilateral pullout from the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), Xi called all parties to “abide by international law and basic norms governing international relations and to settle disputes through dialogue and differences through consultation,” adding that the BRICS are inevitably working for “a new type of international relations.”
Relations such as these certainly do not include a superpower unilaterally imposing an energy export blockade – an act of economic war – on an emerging market and key actor of the Global South.

Xi is keen to extol a “network of closer partnerships.” That’s where the concept of BRICS Plus fits in.
China coined BRICS Plus last year at the Xiamen summit, it refers to closer integration between the five BRICS members and other emerging markets/developing nations.
Argentina, Turkey and Jamaica are guests of honor in Johannesburg. Xi sees BRICS Plus interacting with the UN, the G20 “and other frameworks” to amplify the margin of maneuver not only of emerging markets but the whole Global South.

So how does Iran fit into this framework?
There’s no question that Russia and China – the two key BRICS players – will have Iran’s back.
First there’s Russia’s participation in Iran’s nuclear and aerospace industries and then the Russia-Iran collaboration in the Astana process to solve the Syria tragedy. With China, Iran as one of the country’s top energy suppliers and plays a crucial role in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Russia and China have an outsize presence in the Iranian market and similar ambitions to bypass the US dollar and third-party US sanctions.
The true importance of the BRICS Johannesburg summit is how it is solidifying a Global South plan of action that would have Iran as one of its key nodes. Iran is the quintessential BRICS Plus nation.
Once again, BRICS Plus is all about constituting a “unified platform of regional integration arrangements,” going way beyond regional deals to reach other developing nations in a transcontinental scope.
This means a platform integrating the African Union (AU), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as well as the South Asian Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).
Iran is a future member of the SCO and has already struck a deal with the EAEU. It’s also an important node of the BRI and is a key member, along BRICS members India and Russia, of the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), essential for deeper Eurasia connectivity.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has defined BRICS Plus and BEAMS as the “most extensive platform for South-South cooperation with a global impact.”

BRICS Countries at the Center of a New, Just World Economic Order!
by Helga Zepp-LaRouche, 28 July 2018

Inspired by the epic rise of China, a strategic reorientation of emerging and developing countries is taking place, gradually creating a worldwide economic order based on completely different principles.
While the West is trying in vain to uphold the old paradigm of the neoliberal economic system, more and more nations are working with the BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and other regional organizations under the rubric of the Belt and Road Initiative, on the basis of win-win cooperation, and demonstrating that the world can be organized in a much more human fashion than that which we have seen from the European Union.

I want the Chinese model. Because what China has achieved is incredible. The way in which they have overcome poverty has never been seen in history!” These are the words of Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister, Imran Khan, who announced at the same time that he would answer every positive step on India’s part in improving their relationship, with two steps from Pakistan.
This was exactly the mood at the recently completed tenth annual summit of the BRICS—i.e., Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—in Johannesburg, South Africa, which was completely shaped by the spirit of the New Silk Road.
It signifies nothing less than that a new era of humanity has begun, in which all nations of the world have the right to development on the basis of scientific and technological progress.

Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized, in his July 25 speech to the BRICS Business Forum, which included Indonesia, Turkey, Argentina, Jamaica, Egypt and many African leaders, that “The international community has reached a new crossroads” and must build a whole new platform for international relations... President Xi emphatically took the view at the summit—with distinct reference to Donald Trump’s threats of tariffs on imports—that there could not be a winner in a trade war. He said that one would have to choose between cooperation and confrontation, between mutual benefit and the possibility of beggaring one’s neighbor, but those who pursued this latter course would only end up harming themselves.

The dynamic that is now developing around the Chinese model and the BRICS as the center of a new global economic system, is the result of decades of IMF-World Bank policies that, with their demands for so-called “structural adjustment” and “conditionalities” in developing countries, have not only prevented their development, but facilitate a gigantic transfer of capital from these states to the banks of the neo-liberal financial system.
From this policy, to which, among other things, we owe a large part of the refugee crisis—along with the wars built on lies in Southwest Asia and North Africa—the BRICS and many developing countries have drawn the appropriate lessons...
We in the West can accept the multifaceted offerings of China and, together with the BRICS and other states, help to build up Africa, Southwest Asia, and Latin America...
Or we can try to stick to the current, hopelessly bankrupt neoliberal financial system, which aims to maximize profits, at the expense of a large part of the population and developing countries

Russia eyes refugee return as centerpiece of next policy move in Syria
Maxim A. Suchkov, Al-Monitor, August 8, 2018

As Russia has been gradually moving from a military to a comprehensive political campaign on Syria, one of the primary issues on the agenda for Moscow is the return of refugees.
The agenda pierces through current Russian engagements with regional states, overtures to foreign governments and outreach to international agencies. The three dimensions reflect Russia’s threefold intent at this point: stabilize Syria; reinforce its own regional profile of a capable actor and a reliable counter-partner; chart out areas of cooperation with the United States and the European Union. Yet the degree of success Moscow has had working along the three paths varies significantly.
Last week, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov praised progress Moscow made in discussions on the return of refugees with Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon — the region’s three biggest recipients of Syrian refugees. “I think we’ll see their results in the short term," Lavrov noted.
The Russian Foreign Ministry names a figure of 1.7 million people who are allegedly willing to return to their homes in Syria.

At different levels Moscow stresses cooperability of regional governments with Russia’s efforts toward the refugee return.
"Lebanon’s government has established a working group to set up a joint committee on cooperation with Syria in matters concerning the return of refugees. Lebanese regional refugee centers have reported receiving about 10,000 applications from Syrian citizens [seeking] to return to their home country," he added.
Jordan too has been actively facilitating the return of refugees.
"The government of the Hashemite Kingdom has taken a number of steps that have encouraged more than 200,000 Syrian citizens to express a wish to return to their places of permanent residence. All this is happening amid the Syrian army’s successes in regaining control of the country’s border with Jordan," Mizintsev said.

While working with regional states has so far been rather successful, getting international agencies on board with Russian initiatives has proved much more challenging for Moscow.
"We have an interested response [from the Humanitarian Affairs Office] and at the level of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which was outlined by the deputy high commissioner in Sochi at the Astana format meeting on July 30-31. As for other UN agencies, we have a feeling — which we would like to double-check — that they are guided by the West’s stance and wait until this position changes," Lavrov stated.
"So far, we have seen no UN employees in the areas controlled by the government where assistance is needed to restore the destroyed life-support systems. I hope this is a false impression, this could be a mere coincidence," Russia’s top diplomat argued.

A source in the Russian Foreign Ministry said the United States and Europeans should recognize their own responsibility for the conflict in Syria.

Western backed jihadists

Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam are the main rebel groups supported by Turkey and Saudi Arabia. On 18 February 2018, Ahrar al-Sham merged with the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement to form the Syrian Liberation Front. The group aims to create an Islamic state under Sharia law, and in the past has cooperated with the al-Nusra Front, an affiliate of al-Qaeda.
According to the U.S. Department of State, "Ahrar al-Sham is not a designated foreign terrorist organization. Syria, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, Iran and Egypt have designated Ahrar al-Sham as a terrorist organization.

When they say, 'You [Russia, Iran and Assad] destroyed the country, now you fix it,' our response is, 'How many Western nations are to blame for the destruction of Syria?'
We are prepared to contribute our share, but it’s clear they must contribute theirs,” he argued.
He noted that America’s reluctance to cooperate with Russia on efforts of refugee return plays to the detriment of its own policies in the Middle East.
“We have succeeded in getting many nations on board to work on things that are important to them. When it comes to refugees, security and economy are important drivers for their willingness to cooperate. America is standing there alone, discouraging even those Europeans who are genuinely interested in some cooperation with Russia from doing so. It shows how deep the frustration and distrust of us are within their decision-making circles.” he said.
The source added, "We will continue doing what we are doing on our refugee policies and other things. There will be other nations and bodies interested in reconstruction and at the end of the day America will find itself isolated by its own 'reluctance-and-aloofness policy.'"

Iran: Trump’s sanctions against Iran clear breach of intl. law
Mehr News Agency, 9-8-2018

Iran's UN envoy, Gholamali Khoshroo, said in a commentary published by the Guardian on Wed. that US is making history not just by violating a UN Security Council resolution it voted for three years ago, but also by penalizing countries who stick to the same unanimous resolution.
For the first time in the history of the UN, the United States – a permanent member of the security council with veto power – is engaging in penalising nations across the entire world; not for violating a security council resolution, rather, for abiding by it.
The resolution in question, UN security council resolution 2231, was authored (including by the US itself) and passed unanimously by the council.

After more than a year of holding the joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA – known also as the Iran deal) to ransom and demanding Iran make a spade of unilateral nuclear and non-nuclear concessions, ultimately, on 8 May 2018, the Trump administration withdrew from the JCPOA.
Simultaneously, Trump signed a presidential memorandum to reimpose all US sanctions lifted or waived in connection with the Iran deal. As a result, the agreement that was the culmination of more than a decade of negotiations and was endorsed by security council resolution 2231 now faces an existential moment, especially as the first set of US sanctions come into effect this week.
Security council resolution 2231 underlines “promoting and facilitating the development of normal economic and trade contacts and cooperation with Iran” as an essential part of the JCPOA and calls upon all member states to support its implementation, including to ensure Iran’s access in areas of trade, technology, finance and energy, and refrain from actions that undermine it.
As part of the JCPOA itself, the US alongside other JCPOA participants, undertook to refrain from any policy intended to directly and adversely affect the normalisation of trade and economic relations with Iran.
The Trump administration is nonetheless now targeting countries across the world for actually re-engaging Iran economically in accordance with their obligations under security council resolution 2231.

The US withdrawal from JCPOA and reimposition of its sanctions is a serious breach of its legal obligations under the UN charter, which entails its international responsibility. The international community must act in the face of this international intimidation and affront towards the international legal order.
What the Trump administration has done, through threatening economic revenge against the countries that continue their economic ties with Iran, is to weaponise its economy.
It is a clear rejection of diplomacy and multilateralism; a clear call for confrontation rather than cooperation; an open invitation to resorting to logic of force instead of force of logic..

Trump's sanctions could hurt the economies of Iraq,
Qatar, the UAE and Turkey, along with Oman and India
Shafaq News, Saturday, 11 August 2018

Iraq has begun to apply new U.S. economic sanctions against Iran, turning back shipments of Iranian goods at a number of border crossings, according to Al Hurra TV, quoting Iranian merchants.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is straddling the political fence as he seeks a second term following parliamentary elections in May, told journalists Wednesday that he was "totally opposed to the principle of sanctions, given the price [Baghdad] itself had paid for international sanctions [under Saddam Hussein]."
Nonetheless, Abadi said he would apply them, since "the world does business in dollars and it would hurt the interests of the Iraqi people" if he ignored them.

Iran is Iraq's second-largest trading partner after Turkey, causing concern that strict implementation of sanctions could hurt the economies of both countries. Iraq imported more than $6.5 billion in goods and services from Iran last year, including consumer goods, building materials, raw materials, natural gas and electricity.
Merchants in Baghdad told Arab media in recent days that upward of two-thirds of the consumer goods they sell are Iranian-made, raising concerns about a possible closure of the border with Iran. Most analysts point out, though, that the Iraqi government does not control many of its land or sea border crossings and that pro-Iranian Shiite proxy militias are likely to continue illicit trade with Tehran.
Washington-based Gulf analyst Theodore Karasik told VOA (Voice of America) that applying the sanctions would be difficult at various levels, especially for "Kurdish factions which are close to Tehran," which he said "would probably have a difficult time implementing the sanctions, and could ignore or work around them."
He added that many Kurds have family ties on both sides of the border, making strict sanctions enforcement more difficult "because the family comes first and not the state."
Veteran Saudi analyst and commentator Jamal Khashoggi told VOA that Iraq's Abadi "must maintain good relations with both the U.S. and Iran in order to remain in power."
He joked that Abadi "probably has breakfast with the Americans and lunch with the Iranians," and most likely was "telling the Americans that he will respect the sanctions," while claiming to the Iranians that he "is obliged to say that."
Khashoggi said that "Qatar, the UAE and Turkey, along with Oman and India, have the same problem as Iraq, so Donald Trump's decision to impose the sanctions is going to have a major impact throughout the Middle East."

Iraq PM Abadi caught in the crossfire
Arab News, August 12, 2018

Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi has faced a fierce campaign of criticism since last week over his decision to stick to new economic sanctions imposed on Iran by Washington.
Defying the sanctions would put Iraqi banks on a US blacklist and stop the sale of Iraqi oil, while making Baghdad unable to pay its external and domestic financial obligations, including salaries, Iraqi officials said.
Al-Abadi last week issued instructions to stop the financial transactions of state-owned banks with Iran and halt the import of any materials from Iran that required payment in US dollars, financial officials told Arab News.
But the prime minister’s decision to abide by the US sanctions may cost him his political future and end his ambition to win a second term as prime minister.
All Iraqi political forces and Iranian-backed armed factions have expressed their rejection of Al-Abadi’s decision to abide by the sanctions in recent days.
The most aggressive statement came from Sayed Mujtaba Al-Hosseini, a representative of the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in the holy Iraqi city of Najaf.
The critcism, which was circulated on Sunday, could mean Al-Abadi’s loss of any possible Iranian support for his second term.
Husseini described Al-Abadi’s position as “irresponsible” and incompatible with Iran fulfilling its positions in its defense of Iraq against aesh. “Before everything, we are sorry for the prime minister’s position, which shows his weakness and expresses his psychological defeat toward America,” he said.
Iraq is a battlefield for international powers in the region, particularly America and Iran since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
No stable government could be formed without the approval of the two nations. Al-Abadi openly enjoys the support of the US.

Iraq to respect dollar ban but not all US sanctions on Iran
Reuters, Monday 13 Aug 2018

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Monday his government was only committed to not using dollars in transactions with Iran, not to abiding with the full scope of U.S. sanctions against the country.
"Our commitment in the Iran issue is to not use the dollar currency in transaction, not abiding by the U.S. sanctions," state television quoted him as telling a news conference.
His statement contradicted one he made last week when he said Iraq disagreed with the U.S. sanctions on Iran but that it would abide by them to safeguard its own interests, triggering criticisms from Iran-allied Iraqi politicians and in the Islamic Republic

Turkey's president calls lira plunge 'plot'
China Daily - Xinhua | 2018-08-13

The plunge of Turkish lira is "a plot against Turkey" and the country will seek new partners and markets if the United States does not back down on its hostile policy, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday. Talking in a meeting in the Black Sea city of Trabzon, Erdogan said the current fluctuations in the exchange rate could not be explained by logic. "I here declare that we have seen your plot and we are challenging it," said Erdogan, apparently referring to the United States.
"There is no economic reason for the present (currency plunge) situation. This a plot to force Turkey to surrender in every fields from finance to politics, to make Turkey and its people to kneel down," he added.
The Turkish president also pointed out that Turkey was considering other markets and political alternatives to its "strategic partnership" with Washington, branding again the currency crash as an "economic war."
"We will respond to those who declared trade war on the entire world and included Turkey in it, by steering towards new alliances, new markets," he said, raising questions in the future partnership between Ankara and Washington.
Unprecedented punitive sanctions declared by the U.S. President Donald Trump's administration on two Turkish ministers over the detention of an American pastor, as well as doubling tariffs on steel and aluminum, have worsened relations between the NATO allies to their lowest over decades.

Iranian, Kazakh Presidents Discuss Replacing
Dollar-Based Trade with National Currencies
FARS News Agency (Iran), 12-8-2018

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev in a meeting in Kazakhstan on Sunday conferred on ways to increase economic cooperation, emphasizing the need for both countries to use national currencies for trade instead of dollar.
"Tehran and Astana can take more effective steps on the path of development of bilateral relations by establishment of more brokering ties and using their national currencies," President Rouhani said during the meeting on the sidelines of leaders of Caspian Sea littoral states' summit in the Kazakh port city of Aqtau on Sunday.
He also underscored the necessity for strengthening banking relations between the two countries to further expand bilateral economic ties.
"The capacities of Iran and Kazakhstan in different sectors, specially in the field of transit, can be complementary to each other as Kazakhstan may be linked to the Southern waters through Iran, and Iran can be connected to China via Kazakhstan," Rouhani said.
Nazarbayev, for his part, said that trade ties between Iran and Kazakhstan have considerably increased in recent years, adding that his country is determined to further strengthen these relations.
In a relevant development in March, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Kazakh counterpart Kairat Abdrakhmanov in a meeting in Astana underlined the need for expanding all-out cooperation, specially in economic and trade fields. The two sides voiced determination to pave the way for stronger economic ties.

Russia supports trade in national currencies
Daily Sabah (Turkey), 13-8-2018

Kremlin said Monday Russia has been pushing for an arrangement with all countries to conduct trade in national currencies after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's call for such an arrangement.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said using national currencies in trade is what Russia supports in general but the idea needs prior detailed work before being implemented. He said the issue had been raised on more than one occasion during bilateral talks between Turkey and Russia.
Erdoğan earlier said that Turkey was preparing to increase trade with its top trade partners like China, Russia, Iran and Ukraine in local currencies instead of the U.S. dollar, adding that it was also ready to do the same with European countries.

Iraq’s financial transactions are through American banks
Rawa Abdullah, Rudaw News (Kurdistan Region), 14-8-2018

Iraq receives $1 billion loan
from U.S. (5-1-2017)

US sanctions on Iran will impact trade activity between Iraq and Iran and, should it persist, will damage Iraq’s economy, Baghdad’s former deputy finance minister has said.
“America’s sanctions on Iran will have impact on trade exchange and activity between Iraq and Iran as there is sizeable trade between the two countries in terms of oil and gas,” Fadhil Nabi, Iraq’s former deputy finance minister, told Rudaw.
Nevertheless, Iraq will commit to US sanctions “because Iraq’s financial transactions are through American banks, especially JP Morgan, which backs Iraq so that it financially gets back on its feet. If this bank alone stops backing Iraq, Iraq will have the biggest financial collapse,” Nabi said.

“Sanctions on Iran’s oil sector won’t have much impact on the Kurdistan Region as it has no energy ties with Iran. Nevertheless, it will have a negative impact on customs revenue,” he added. However, if Erbil plays its cards right, Nabi thinks the Kurdistan Region could stand to gain from the sanctions.
“Due to a drop in the price of toman, Kurdistan’s people can easily get Iranian goods. The government, through facilitating investment, can establish large factories for producing Iranian food products in Kurdistan. Instead of importing Iranian goods, let goods be produced,” Nabi said.

The Trade Bank of Iraq was established
by the Coalition Provisional Authority on 17 July 2003

TBI was licensed by the Central Bank of Iraq and commenced its operations one month after the decision to establish it as a government financial institution had been taken. Since then, TBI has grown into a leading bank in Iraq through strengthening its financial position, assets, and equity.
In the first year of operation TBI was associated with a consortium of international banks led by JP Morgan Chase.
During the startup period, the consortium offered TBI technical support and banking know-how and it has been issuing and confirming letters of credit and letters of guarantee on behalf of TBI.
The consortium remained at the heart of TBI's correspondent network and had been a key element in the successful growth of TBI's trade business. TBI was one of the first Iraqi banks to receive lines of credit from major international financial institutions. (Wikipedia info)

Flashback 2003: J.P. Morgan Selected to Run New Trade Bank in Iraq
By Boomberg News, 30-8-2003

J. P. Morgan Chase has been selected to operate a bank the United States is creating in Iraq to manage billions of dollars to finance imports and exports. J. P. Morgan will lead a group that includes 13 banks representing 13 countries to run the bank for three years, said Peter McPherson, the top United States economic adviser in Iraq.
Operating the bank, the Trade Bank of Iraq, will give banks access to the financial system of Iraq, which has huge oil reserves
Foreign bank companies have not operated in the country since a policy of nationalization in the 1950's and 1960's.

The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) was a transitional government of Iraq established following the invasion of the country on 19 March 2003 by the U.S.-led Multinational Force (or 'the coalition') and the fall of Ba'athist Iraq.

JP Morgan, as one of the largest banks on earth, has played a key role in every major US and British War since World War I, not only financing them, but arranging the procurement of supplies and armament contracts, and as stated by the Telegraph in regards to the Iraq War, managing the pillaging of national resources after a targeted nation's institutions have been destroyed. Since WWI the bankers at JP Morgan have had direct lines to senior government representatives on both sides of the Atlantic.
An analysis of Federal Election Commission data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics shows that J.P. Morgan Chase gave $105,705 to President George W. Bush's campaign in 2000, making him the fourth-biggest recipient of Chase political contributions since 1990.
The contributions came either in the form of direct donations from individuals who work at Chase or through the bank's political action committee, the study shows. The Center for Responsive Politics is a nonpartisan group that studies the effects of campaign contributions on public policy decisions.

JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon is starting
to look like corporate America's 'shadow president'
Business Insider, 8-9-2017

The 61-year-old banker has made more than a dozen trips to Washington so far this year to press a broad agenda with a range of influential policymakers, people who attended the meetings or are familiar with his schedule said. Dimon has already visited the nation's capital four times as much as he does in a typical year.
His ramped-up presence comes after taking the helm of the Business Roundtable, a lobbying group that represents CEOs of large U.S. companies, in December.
"We couldn't ask for a more engaged or more effective Business Roundtable chair," said Joshua Bolten, former chief of staff for President George W. Bush, whom Dimon installed as the organization's president and CEO.

The frequency of his trips, and the wide range of policies he has been discussing, have started chatter among power brokers in Washington and on Wall Street about how much energy Dimon is devoting to issues beyond JPMorgan.
At times, they said, Dimon carries himself more like someone running the country than someone running a bank.

Lavrov: "Western countries, by imposing sanctions, are trying
to influence the success of the Astana format in Syria."
Sputnik News (Russia), 14-8-2018

Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, is on a working trip to Turkey. Speaking at a press-conference, the Russian foreign minister said that Moscow hoped a reasonable approach would prevail in international relations and that countries would return to a depoliticized dialogue, adding that Moscow appreciated Ankara's refusal to join the anti-Russia sanctions.
"I hope that objective reality will help common sense prevail and we will return to the fundamental principles laid down in the UN Charter and stipulating collective work on solving global problems while respecting the sovereign equality of states and non-interference in their interior affairs. Interest in solving numerous problems, shared by Russia and Turkey, rests upon such principles," Lavrov said.
According to Lavrov, US sanctions, including the latest against Turkey, undermine all principles of global trade and will over time undermine the role of the dollar as a settlement currency.
"I have already said about sanctions: they are illegal, undermine all principles of global trade and principles approved by UN decisions, under which unilateral measures of economic duress are unlawful," Lavrov said.
According to the Russian senior official, the Western countries, by imposing sanctions against Russia, Turkey and Iran, were trying to influence the success of the Astana format in Syria.
"Of course, we probably will not see any direct link to the Syrian crisis in the statements that the American side is making when it announces sanctions against our countries. But, objectively, of course, we feel the desire of the West, primarily the United States, but not only it, not to let the Astana process achieve substantive results and show it as not entirely successful," Lavrov said.

During the press-conference, Lavrov noted that both Moscow and Ankara were holding a dialogue on the complete implementation of agreements on the de-escalation zones in Syria, including in Idlib.
"As for Syria, we are discussing today through different channels the objectives of tackling the resistance of the remaining terrorist groups and returning the armed opposition, which rejects terrorist methods, to peaceful life.
[We are also] discussing the complete implementation of agreements on the de-escalation zones, including Idlib," Lavrov said.
His Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, in his turn, said that terrorist groups that arrived from Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta acted in Idlib and urged to eliminate them, warning, however, against a complete bombing the de-escalation zone.
"The Idlib zone is home to more than 3 million civilians, but there are also terrorists from Eastern Ghouta, Aleppo and other zones there. They threaten the civilian population.
We should have a common strategy with Russia and other powers, identify and eliminate terrorists. Despite their presence, we cannot bomb the city, as it will result in mass casualties [among civilians]. We should separate radicals and civilians. We must conduct the fight against terrorists together..." .

Syrian government: Return of displaced Syrians a priority
Syrian Arab News Agency, 13-8-2018

Head of the Coordination Agency for the Return of Displaced Syrians, Local Administration and Environment Minister Hussein Makhlouf, said that the return of displaced Syrians to the country is a priority for the government, and that the doors are open for all Syrians to return safely.
In a press conference on Monday, Makhlouf said efforts are focused on returning displaced Syrians from abroad, and that the government is working to simplify the procedures for their return and provide them with accommodation via programs that should help them find jobs and improve their living conditions.
The Minister said that as more areas are being liberated from terrorism and becoming secure, the government is working to rehabilitate these areas, and these efforts have already resulted in the return of more than 3 million internally-displaced citizens to their homes in Aleppo, Aleppo countryside, Raqqa countryside, Deir Ezzor, Damascus Countryside, Homs, and Lattakia.
Makhlouf asserted that Syrians abroad can return safely, and what applies to Syrians inside the country applies to those abroad, noting that Syrians are currently returning via border crossings as individuals or groups.
For his part, Agency member, Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister Fayssal Mikdad said that the Syrians who left Syria were forced to do so as a result of terrorism and that the economic sanctions on Syria have also had a negative impact on Syrians’ livelihood, adding that any aid provided to Syria must be unconditional.
Mikdad asserted that the Syrian government will facilitate the return of displaced Syrians in coordination with the UN, adding that both the government and the UN agree that this return must be voluntary and preserve the dignity of everyone.
In turn, Agency member, Director of the Political Administration at the Syrian Arab Army Maj. Gen. Hasan Hasan called on Western government to revoke their sanctions on Syria as to help Syrians return to their home, adding that providing job opportunities will be an incentive for citizens to return.

Defense Minister: 'Conquer Gaza or an Arab spring'
Arutz Sheva, 16-8-2018

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) spoke with members of the Cabinet program on Radio 103fm on the Gaza escalation and arrangement.
After yesterday approving opening the Kerem Shalom crossing to transfer goods to Gaza for a few days of quiet, contacts are underway with Hamas for an "arrangement":
"We don't know what the arrangement is and what these definitions are; the reality on the ground is relevant and our conduct will be in accordance with it," he said.
"The Palestinian Authority has its own interests and considerations. Our interest is to topple the Hamas regime," he said, and there are enumerated ways to do it.
"Either we go in and conquer the Gaza Strip and sacrifice our soldiers or in some other way; the Arab Spring is also an option in Gaza, not only in Tunisia.
It's important and necessary to constantly communicate with the public and circumvent Hamas leadership. Every day I receive a survey of Internet discourse and social networks in Gaza. There's never been such low support for Hamas in the Gaza Strip as there is today."
The solution is to turn Gaza into an economic entity that provides work for two million people... It won't happen tomorrow morning, but it's much closer than we think."
When asked why he did not bring the Gazans back to work in Israel, he replied, "It's an impossible security risk, bringing 9,000 Gazans into Israel is an unreasonable risk.

Arab Spring 2012

'arab', i.e. muslim brotherhood, spring - 2012

US Wants Gaza Ceasefire ‘With or Without PA’
Palestine Chronicle, August 15, 2018

The USA will continue to work for a ceasefire in Gaza “with or without” the cooperation of the Palestinian Authority (PA), a spokesperson for the National Security Council has told Haaretz.
The spokesperson explained that the US administration under President Donald Trump “would like to see an end to fighting with or without the PA,” but emphasized that the administration still believes “it would be best if the PA reasserts control in Gaza so we can get on with making lives better,” Haaretz revealed.
The spokesperson added that the US “supports Egypt’s efforts to secure a ceasefire in Gaza” and “remains in close communication with Israel, Egypt, and the UN with respect to Gaza”.
The announcement will likely be seen as a blow to the PA, which has been marginalized from the Gaza Strip since it lost control of the territory in the 2006 Palestinian elections. Since then, the PA has repeatedly tried to reassert its authority over the enclave.
In July, the PA’s Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah told donor countries that any aid to the besieged Strip must first pass through Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.
The US has been monitoring attempts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The exact details of the negotiations as yet remain unclear, but the UN and Egypt have spoken of a need to improve the dire humanitarian conditions in Gaza, stem cross-border hostilities that have flared in recent months and work towards reconciliation between Hamas and Israel.

Abbas says Hamas not serious about unity
By Adam Rasgon,Times of Israel, 15 August 2018

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday said Hamas was not serious about unity talks and accused US officials of lying about their intentions to aid the beleaguered Gaza Strip.
Abbas made the comments in a televised speech at the start of a meeting of the Palestinian Central Council, the PLO’s second highest decision-making body, in Ramallah.
“Hamas principally does not have intentions to achieve reconciliation,” Abbas said.
The comments came after the Egyptian Intelligence Services hosted separate talks with Fatah and Hamas officials over the past several weeks to discuss reconciliation. Since Hamas and Fatah failed to implement an Egyptian-sponsored unity deal, which they signed in October 2017, reconciliation efforts have been at a standstill.
Abbas said the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership wants to unify the West Bank and Gaza under “one government, one law and one legitimate force without militias.”
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, and other groups in the Gaza Strip have thousands of weapons. Hamas officials have defended “the right” of armed groups to possess weapons and have not said they would be willing to hand them over to the PA.
Abbas also asserted that US officials were being dishonest when they recently stated that they want to help Palestinians in Gaza by mitigating the dire humanitarian situation in the Strip. “I swear to God, they are liars,” he said of US officials.
Trump administration officials recently wrote in an opinion article in the Washington Post that they seek to ameliorate the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

President al-Assad and Mrs. Asma visited tunnel gallery
Syrian Arab News Agency, 16 August 2018

President Bashar al-Assad and Mrs. Asma al-Assad visited on Thursday one of the tunnels of death dug by the terrorists in Jobar neighborhood, which were turned by 18 Syrian artists to a place of art and creativity after making dozens of sculptures on the walls.
President al-Assad and Mrs. Asma praised the initiative and efforts of the “Aram” team’s artists who decorated the tunnel and cleared the fingerprints and the darkness of terrorism that haunted it for years, with artistic carvings depicting the sacrifices of the Syrian Arab Army, the Unknown Soldier and the ancient and modern history of Syria.
President al-Assad affirmed that the destruction, darkness and death are the terrorists’ culture, while construction, light, life and art are “our own.” “Every sculpture on these walls reminds us of the heroes of the Syrian Arab Army who fought valiantly to liberate this holy soil, which is mixed with the blood of our martyrs and wounded,” the President affirmed.
The tunnel which was dug by terrorists under a school destroyed by mercenaries was transformed by a group of Syrian artists into an art gallery, including 20 paintings carved on its walls. The work took 25 days over an area of 80 square meters and at a depth of nine meters under the ground.

SARC receives mobile hospital and two ambulances from China
Syrian Arab News Agency, 16 August 2018

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) received on Thursday a mobile hospital and two ambulances provided by the Red Cross Society of China. The hospital, which is the first of its kind, includes a gynecology clinic, internal clinic, a laboratory and a radiography room.
Speaking after delivering the aid, Sun Shuopeng, Vice President and Secretary General of the Chinese Red Cross Society, expressed his happiness to cooperate with the SARC.
He said that the multi-tasking hospital has traveled a long way until it arrived in Damascus, adding that China hopes that this hospital will reach every place that needs its services in Syria. He also hoped that the Syrians will overcome the crisis and that the aid will contribute to the consolidation of the values of friendship and peace.
In turn, Political Advisor at the Chinese Embassy in Damascus Ma Shui Liang affirmed that his country will continue to support Syria, which entered the stage of recovery and reconstruction.

RCSC Mission Statement

The Red Cross Society of China will firmly abides by the seven Fundamental Principles of the Movement:
Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity and Universality and continue to work hard to increase its contribution towards the well-being of the Chinese people and towards world peace and progress.
In co-ordination with the social spiritual civilization building and social security system, the RCSC has developed disaster relief, healthy care and community service projects, to build up a Red Cross course with Chinese characteristics.

Mike Pompeo names Brian Hook as
head of new 'Iran Action Group'
Arab News (Saudi Arabia), August 16, 2018

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has named Brian Hook as the new 'special representative' for Iran, who will head up an 'Iran Action Group.'
Pompeo declared he is forming the dedicated group to coordinate and run US policy toward Iran as the Donald Trump administration moves ahead with efforts to force changes in the country's behavior after withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.
Since withdrawing, the administration has re-imposed sanctions that were eased under the deal and has steadily ramped up pressure on Iran to try to get it to stop what it describes as "malign activities" in the region. In addition to its nuclear and missile programs, the administration has repeatedly criticized Iran for supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad, Shiite rebels in Yemen and anti-Israel groups. It has also in recent weeks stepped up criticism of Iran's human rights record and is working with other nations to curb their imports of Iranian oil.
In his new job, Hook is to oversee implementation of the administration's entire Iran policy, the officials said.
Pompeo and other officials have denied that the administration is seeking to foment regime change in Iran and maintain they only want to see the government change course.
Pompeo created a similar group dedicated to working on North Korea policy while he was director of the CIA.

Brian Hook: US must lead if Middle East Christians are to survive
Claire Giangravè, Crux Now, July 16, 2018

Mary to Myrna Nazzour: "Love one another. I do not ask you to give money to churches. I ask you to love. Those who give money to the poor and to the churches but yet have not love, have lives of no value." (Mary in Damascus)

In order to ensure the survival of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East, America must take the reins, according to a high ranking official in the U.S. State Department.
“It is this administration’s strong belief that American leadership is crucial in securing the future of Christians in the Middle East and to protecting those who are persecuted,” Brian Hook, Director of Policy Planning at the U.S. State Department, told Crux in an interview on July 14.
We have made the protection of religious minorities in the Middle East a priority,” Hook stated, underlining the examples of how the U.S. administration has acted to ensure the stability, safety and survival of religious minorities worldwide.
Hook recently presented the U.S. State Department’s “12 demands to become a normal country” to Iran, after Trump decided to withdraw from the 2015 deal. The regime in Iran today, he told Crux, has made the “persecution of religious minorities a hallmark of its brutality,” adding that this will be among the topics discussed at the ministerial.

Question: Iran, a complex region, is a fundamental player in achieving peace in the Middle East. What do you see being the routes to that peace?
Hook: Let me say one thing about Iran and religious freedom. Iran’s penal code specifies the death sentence for attempts by non-Muslims to convert Muslims.
The UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, recently highlighted the large number of executions of Sunni, Kurdish prisoners on charges of enmity against God. The government continues to harass, interrogate and arrest the Baha’i, Sunni Muslims and other religious minorities.
As I said, they enforce a prohibition on proselytizing. We will be highlighting Iran’s persecution of Christians and other religious minorities. Prior to the Iran Revolution, you had a number of faiths living together peacefully in Iran and this regime, over its almost 40-year reign, has made the persecution of religious minorities a hallmark of its brutality.

The ‘Iran Action Group’ & the 1953 coup
Press TV, Thu Aug 16, 2018

The US State Department has formed an “Iran Action Group” to coordinate and run an aggressive US policy toward the Islamic Republic on the eve of the 65th anniversary of a previous American action against Iran - the CIA-led 1953 coup against the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mosaddegh.
However, Pomepo’s special representative for Iran, Hook, claimed it was “pure coincidence” the action group is being formed on the anniversary of the 1953 coup -- which was orchestrated by the US and UK under the name “TPAJAX Project” or "Operation Ajax".
The 1953 United States covert action overthrew Mossadegh in favor of strengthening the monarchical rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on 19 August 1953.

In 1951, in the first democratic elections in an Islamic country in the region, Muhammad Mossadeq was elected Prime Minister. The Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who had been installed by the British during World War II, was thrown out, and Mossadeq nationalized the country’s vital oil industry. Until then, the British had robbed the Iranian people, paying a pittance for the Black Gold.
Two years later, in a coup organized by the British MI6 and the American CIA, the Shah was brought back and returned the oil to the hated British and their partners.
Israel had probably no part in the coup, but under the restored regime of the Shah, Israel prospered. Israelis made fortunes selling weapons to the Iranian army. Israeli Shabak agents trained the Shah’s dreaded secret police, Savak...
At the time, the Israeli leadership was cooperating with the South African apartheid regime in developing nuclear arms." (Uri Avnery, 30-12-2011

Some political analysts wondered if there was a message intended for Tehran.
Veteran political commentator in New York Don DeBar said there may be a message, but that it may not be intended for the Iranian people.
"Personally, I suspect that if there was a message intended, it was for domestic consumption here, to make it appear that Trump is being tough while allowing him to strike a reasonable deal with Iran. It's the same tactic they used with North Korea.”
Meanwhile, American writer and political analyst Daniel Patrick Welch told Press TV that the United States “has always maintained a coterie of war planners intent on fomenting war with Iran.”
“The new and most significant piece here is the announcement by Pompeo, which amounts to more aggressive saber-rattling from the war dogs of Empire. Unfortunately for these, what is also new is the growing strategic integration between China and Russia, who are more determined than ever to prevent another reckless and murderous US war adventure,” he stated.

The devils game
Robert Dreyfuss 2005

For half a century the United States and many of its allies saw what I call the “Islamic right” as convenient partners in the Cold War. *** In the decades before 9/11, hard-core activists and organizations among Muslim fundamentalists on the far right were often viewed as allies for two reasons, because they were seen a fierce anti-communists and because they opposed secular nationalists such as Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, Iran’s Mohammed Mossadegh. ***

By the end of the 1950s, rather than allying itself with the secular forces of progress in the Middle East and the Arab world, the United States found itself in league with Saudi Arabia’s Islamist legions.
Choosing Saudi Arabia over Nasser’s Egypt was probably the single biggest mistake the United States has ever made in the Middle East.
A second big mistake … occurred in the 1970s, when, at the height of the Cold War and the struggle for control of the Middle East, the United States either supported or acquiesced in the rapid growth of Islamic right in countries from Egypt to Afghanistan.
In Egypt, Anwar Sadat brought the Muslim Brotherhood back to Egypt. In Syria, the United States, Israel, and Jordan supported the Muslim Brotherhood in a civil war against Syria. And … Israel quietly backed Ahmed Yassin and the Muslim Brotherhood in the West Bank and Gaza, leading to the establishment of Hamas.

arafat - main enemy

Patrick Martin, 4-9-2014: "The state of Israel promoted the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate in the occupied Palestinian territories as a rival to undermine the (pan-Arab) Palestine Liberation Organization of Yasser Arafat, which it viewed as the main enemy..."

Salman Rushdie, 18-9-2012: "To place the House of Saud on the Throne that Sits Over the Oil might well look like the greatest foreign policy error of the Western powers, because the Sauds had used their unlimited oil wealth to build schools (madrassas) to propagate the extremist, puritanical ideology of their beloved (and previously marginal) Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, and as a result Wahhabism had grown from its tiny cult origins to overrun the Arab world. Its rise gave confidence and energy to other Islamic extremists."

As 'significant progress' is made towards Hamas-Israel truce,
Fatah official says rival is only helping US and Tel Aviv 'fulfil their scheme'
Middle East Eye, 17-8-2018

Israel has offered to open all of its crossings into the Gaza Strip and give the coastal enclave access to a sea passage to Cyprus in exchange for the halting of all kinds of attacks from the Palestinian territory, a senior Hamas official tells Middle East Eye. If secured, the Egyptian-brokered debark would serve as an enormous relief to Gaza and the Hamas movement that runs it.
However, in the West Bank's Ramallah, the Fatah chairman in charge of reconciling his party with Hamas warned that the movement is engaging in a “hostile scheme” that will break Palestinian unity.
“By negotiating with Israel over a ceasefire and truce in Gaza and for separate arrangements for Gaza, Hamas is engaging itself in the hostile scheme meant to separate Gaza from the internationally recognised state of Palestine on the 1967 line,” Azzam al-Ahmad, Fatah official in charge of reconciliation, told MEE on Thursday.

Speculation has been rife in recent days that an announcement of a final deal could be imminent. As six-point plans and other details leaked into the region’s newspapers, Egyptian spy chief Abbas Kamil shuttled between Tel Aviv and Ramallah, without seeing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who was reportedly otherwise engaged.
Ahmad, the Fatah official in charge of reconciliation, said Hamas’ continued involvement in the talks without his party or the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) is only helping Israel and the US.
“Hamas is just a faction, one of many factions, and if every one of these factions wants to negotiate with Israelis by itself that would be a mess. The PLO is the sole representative of the Palestinian people wherever they are and it is the one to make deals on behalf of the Palestinian people,” Ahmad said.
“It’s no secret that Israel and the USA are working on creating a [mini] state in Gaza and taking most of the West Bank,” he said. “Hamas is helping them fulfil their scheme.”
Israeli journalist Meron Rapoport told MEE that "Israel's top priority is to isolate Gaza and to create a dependent body called Gaza, which is completely dependent on Egypt."

Russia, China Reiterate Commitment to 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal
Chinese FM: "We oppose the wrong practices of unilateral sanctions"
Albawaba News, August 18th, 2018

Russia and China have reiterated that they will continue their commitment to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and will maintain their cooperation and relations with Iran in the face of new U.S. sanctions.
“Russia continues to consistently implement its commitments under the JCPOA... We reiterate our decisive commitment to take all the necessary measures to preserve and fully implement the JCPOA,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday.
It added that Russia's Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation was initiating an array of projects designed to ensure the compliance with requirements of the Iran nuclear deal.
On August 6, Trump ordered all nuclear-related sanctions that were removed under the deal to be reinstated immediately.

The Russian ministry further stressed that Moscow would help Tehran in managing the surplus low-enriched uranium, and carry out cooperation with Iran in specific areas for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
It also affirmed that all such cooperation was being carried within the framework of the JCPOA, in accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, and under full supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Separately on Friday, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi reaffirmed that Beijing would continue its cooperation and relations with the Islamic Republic during a telephone conversation with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, saying the JCPOA is in line with the international community’s “common interest.”
We have openly indicated that we oppose the wrong practices of unilateral sanctions and 'long-arm jurisdiction' in international relations,” the Chinese FM was quoted as saying by state news agency Xinhua.

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