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.”
(Persian poet & humanist, born in Shiraz, Iran, c. 1210)
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)
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom criticized Saudi Arabia’s “backsliding” on religious tolerance in a new report on middle and high school textbooks today, further undermining the embattled kingdom’s reformist credentials.
The independent federal government commission contracted a study of 22 textbooks focusing mostly on religious studies published by the Saudi government for the 2017-2018 academic year.
It notably found that the books “caution students to avoid friendship with members of other religions […] encourage both violent and non-violent jihad against non-believers [and] espouse the death penalty for women who have an affair, and for gay men.” “This review revealed an apparent reversal in the previous trend toward tolerance in Saudi textbooks,” the commission concludes. “They reflect core Wahhabi doctrines and not other trends of Islamic scholarship that are more accepting.”
Mohammed al-Arifi (R) with crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, 11-12-2017
The report comes as Saudi Arabia’s reputation is already reeling in the United States and around the world following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
It is especially damaging to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the multimillion-dollar public relations campaign touting him as a progressive reformer championing a vision of a modern Saudi Arabia by 2030...
While the US commission does not provide a definitive conclusion for the reasons behind the alleged backsliding, speculation is rife that horse-trading between the royal family and traditional clerics over reforms such as lifting the ban on women driving may have played a role.
“What’s most troubling here is that we’re seeing some backtracking in the education system where they had made progress, which we had verified over the years, in terms of cleaning up some of the worst passages in the textbooks,” said Dwight Bashir, the commission’s director of research and policy.
“In the midst of other forward-leaning reforms in the past couple of years, to see some backsliding in an area that is tightly monitored … by the religious establishment, there might be an element there of some trading.”
The Saudi Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.
Sheikh Mohamed al-Arifi (on podium), a leading Saudi cleric, calls for jihad in Syria (Daily News, 15-6-2013)
Mohammed Al-Oraifi (Arifi) is known of his negative and provocative postures against Shia.
Some Shia organizations expressed unwelcoming notes and refusal to see Al-Oraifi in Bahrain after his breach about Shia, when he stigmatized them with abusive expressions. The preacher, who follows Wahabi theology, was banned to enter Kuwait after their Shia citizens protested to his trip and considered his speeches a source of division between sects of Islam. (www.siawi.org, 1-5-2010)
Saudi Sheikh banned from Kuwait, 21-1-2010
Kuwaiti authorities have banned the controversial Saudi Sheikh Mohammad Al Oraifi from entering the state. He caused outrage recently with comments describing the revered Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, Iraq’s and top religious leader, as “an atheist and a depraved man”.
Sheikh Mohammad Al Oraifi: It is as though I see it with my own eyes:
I see them as dead bodies. - YouTube videomessage 5-3-2012
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said Saudi Arabia is a powerful force for stability in the Middle East and warned against any attempts to harm US relations with the Kingdom.
In a staunch and strongly worded defense of the relationship between Washington and Riyadh, Pompeo said downgrading ties would be a “grave mistake for the national security of the US and its allies.”
He highlighted Saudi Arabia’s stance against Iran, the role played in the fight against Daesh, and the Kingdom’s aid efforts for Syrian refugees.
Writing on the State Department’s official blog, Pompeo also defended America’s support for the Arab Coalition’s military operation in Yemen against the Iran-backed Houthi militia. “The Kingdom is a powerful force for stability in the Middle East,” Pompeo said. “Saudi Arabia, like the US – and unlike these critics – recognizes the immense threat the Islamic Republic of Iran poses to the world.
“An emboldened Iran would spread even more death and destruction in the Middle East, spark a regional nuclear-arms race, threaten trade routes, and foment terrorism around the world.”
Pompeo’s comments were published shortly before he and Defense Secretary James Mattis briefed senators about Saudi Arabia and the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.
The case has led to some pressure from within Washington for the Trump administration to review the historic and deep relations between the two countries. But this was dismissed by Pompeo, who said Khashoggi’s death was being used by Donald Trump’s opponents to try to undermine his rebuilding of ties with Saudi Arabia.
“Is it any coincidence that the people using the Khashoggi murder as a cudgel against President Trump’s Saudi Arabia policy are the same people who supported Barack Obama’s rapprochement with Iran – a regime that has killed thousands world-wide, including hundreds of Americans, and brutalizes its own people?”
Pompeo said Saudi Arabia’s other efforts in the region had also helped contain Iran, combat extremist groups and relieve the suffering of the displaced. [..]
Pompeo praised the Kingdom’s aid efforts in Yemen. [..] He said in Iraq, Saudi Arabia was “working to secure Iraq’s fragile democracy and keep Baghdad tethered to the West’s interests, not Tehran’s.”
Mattis: 'No smoking gun"
The United States has not uncovered a smoking gun which proves that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said on Wednesday.
"We have no smoking gun that the Crown Prince was involved. Not the intelligence community or anyone else. We have no smoking gun," Mattis told reporters outside the Pentagon.
Mattis added that he has personally read all the intelligence on Khashoggi and all the translations of the recordings of his murder at the Saudi consulate in Turkey.
"We do not have the tapes. Least I am not aware that we do. But I have read the translation twice," he told reporters.
The setup of the Idlib de-escalation zone should not undermine Syria’s sovereignty, the guarantors of the Astana process - Russia, Iran and Turkey - said in a joint statement adopted at the Astana meeting on Syria, which was read out by Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov.
The parties "stressed that under no circumstances the creation of the… [Idlib] de-escalation area should undermine the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic."
According to the statement, the guarantor counties "reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter."
Russia, Iran and Turkey are concerned with the ongoing ceasefire violations in Syria’s Idlib province, the three countries also said in a joint statement.
According to the statement, the parties "examined in details the situation in the Idlib de-escalation area and reaffirmed their determination to fully implement the Memorandum on the Stabilization of the Situation in the Idlib De-escalation Area of September 17, 2018."
political islam, supported by 'the friends of syria'
The guarantor countries "reaffirmed their determination to continue cooperation in order to ultimately eliminate DAESH/ISIL, Nusra Front and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaeda and DAESH/ISIL as designated by the UN Security Council."
They also "called upon all armed opposition groups in Syria to completely and immediately dissociate with the above-mentioned terrorist groups."
CNN Fires Analyst Marc Lamont Hill After UN Speech on Israel
By The Associated Press, Nov. 29, 2018
NEW YORK — CNN on Thursday parted ways with contributor Marc Lamont Hill after a speech the college professor made on Israel and Palestine at the United Nations.
A CNN spokesperson confirmed Hill is no longer under contract. The network did not give a reason, but the move comes amid objections to Hill's speech by the Anti-Defamation League and other groups.
Hill, a professor of media studies at Temple University who had been a recurring political commentator on CNN, called for countries to boycott and divest from Israel in the Wednesday speech given for the UN's International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
“The decades-long Palestinian struggle for self-determination, independence and a life of dignity faces numerous obstacles, including: continued military occupation of Palestinian territory; ongoing violence and incitement; continued settlement construction and expansion; deep uncertainties about the peace process; and deteriorating humanitarian and economic conditions, particularly in Gaza.” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres
CNN has fired contributor Marc Lamont Hill for a speech he gave on Palestinian rights at the UN.
In his speech, Hill carefully explained all the ways in which Israeli Apartheid practices (my word, not his) devastate the basic human rights of the 5 million Palestinians living under Occupation.
Not only are the 20 percent of Israeli citizens who are of Palestinian heritage second class citizens (and, increasingly, third class citizens), but those kept under the jackboot of the Israeli military in the Palestinian West Bank and in Gaza are kept stateless and without even the right to have rights.
These crimes, epochal and unparalleled in our own time, are being committed by Binyamin Netanyahu and his henchmen in plain sight, violating every principle of agreed-upon international law in the post-1945 period.
(I say unparalleled because I know of no other government on earth in the 21st century deliberately keeping millions of persons stateless and depriving them of citizenship. Some countries give minorities a citizenship many of the latter do not want, but they still do have a passport and property rights).
One way that the Israeli right wing gets away with these atrocities is to use techniques of blackballing, smearing, and propaganda to marginalize any voices they don’t like.
Jewish American mainstream organizations like the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco secretly have created web sites and techniques for getting people fired or blocking their career advancement if they aren’t on board with Israeli colonization of the Palestinian West Bank.
Pro-Israel bigots in the United States who freely speak about Arabs as “animals” or speak of “filthy Arabs” suddenly develop a saintly halo and accuse anyone who points to Netanyahu’s systematic dispossession of the Palestinians of being an anti-Semite.
And they’ve been remarkably successful in marginalizing anyone who takes them on. They connive at unelecting congressmen and -women, they block appointments to the Federal government, and organize massive letter-writing campaigns to news outlets to pressure them into firing and blackballing journalists or changing the way they speak about Israeli colonizing activities. This success is not because “Jews” are “powerful.” First of all, only a minority of Jewish Americans sympathize with the far right politics of the Likud Party. The success is because right wing white people are so powerful, and many of them still have a latent belief in the goodness of colonialism and in the White Man’s Burden.
Hill was raked over the coals by the bigoted and racist Israel lobbies for saying this: “We have an opportunity to not just offer solidarity in words but to commit to political action, grassroots action, local action, and international action that will give us what justice requires. And that is a free Palestine from the river to the sea.”
Hill admittedly does not think a two-state solution is any longer plausible. But what he was calling for was for the people living in the Occupied territories to be full citizens, and to have these citizenship rights pertain to everyone living between the river and the sea. He did not say anything about Israelis not having equal rights.
Hill was also slammed for urging Palestinian activism to oppose the Occupation. One of the standard Israeli propaganda techniques is to equate any resistance to their frankly fascist techniques of social control imposed on the colonized Palestinians with “terrorism.”
There is nothing new or strange about this. The British in India considered Gandhi a terrorist. Of course the colonial state views opposition as terrorism...
The US mainstream media demonstrated once again that it has a Palestine problem.
CNN suspended the contract of commentator and Temple University Professor Marc Lamont Hill, after he gave a speech at the United Nations in which he criticised the Israeli occupation and the abuse of Palestinian rights. Hill based his speech very much on facts. He cited Israeli laws that discriminate against Palestinians; the use of arbitrary violence by the Israeli security apparatus; the use of torture against Palestinian detainees; the denial of due process to Palestinians by Israeli courts; the restriction on movement in the occupied territories, etc - all violations that have been well-documented and condemned by the UN and a myriad of human rights organisations. Yet CNN, which last year adopted a new slogan - "Facts first" - did not seem to agree with these facts.
After pro-Israel organisations like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) condemned the speech, the TV station was quick to sever its ties with Hill.
While CNN did not announce why it chose to do so, it is clear to many of us it caved in to pressure from pro-Israel groups. Hill was accused of being anti-Semitic for using the phrase "free Palestine from the river to the sea", which supposedly is a "Hamas slogan" and a call for the destruction of Israel. Well, it is neither.
Throwing accusations of anti-Semitism at people criticising Israel and supporting the Palestinian right to self-determination is a convenient tool of the Zionist lobby. But calling for the freedom of Palestinians and for the recognition of their rights is not anti-Semitic; it is pro-Palestinian....
For a long time, mainstream media organisations in the West, like the CNN, have been hiding behind the veneer of objectivity when it comes to issues such as the Palestinian struggle.
These outlets claim to be covering these issues objectively - applying certain procedures and high standards of verification that supposedly guarantee full and balanced reporting. With that grand declaration of objectivity, they then claim to present the true picture of what is going on. But they often don't. The language employed by many mainstream media networks in the West when reporting on Palestine is often imprecise and misrepresents certain objective realities. [..]
Claiming objectivity but then, clearly using obfuscating language and intentionally skipping certain facts is not only damaging to the media profession but also spreads disinformation.
The firing of Professor Hill has exposed once again this disingenuity, the apparent political bias, and perhaps even the fear of the Israeli lobby within Western mainstream media.
It also shows that even media institutions that claim to be fighting for freedom of speech, to be delivering "facts first", to be "speaking truth to power" can also partake in the silencing of critical voices.
After his UN Speech marking the International Day of Solidarity with Palestine last week was twisted so as to smear him as an anti-Semite, Marc Lamont Hill was subjected to a “political lynching” that saw him fired from his role as a political commentator on CNN and will now see Temple University — his other employer — investigate whether and how to reprimand him for his statements.
During his speech, Hill had called for solidarity with Palestinians and drew on the history of African Americans’ struggle against slavery and apartheid in the United States as an inspiration for the solidarity.
However, the part of Hill’s speech that has been deemed the most controversial was his concluding call for a “a free Palestine from the river to the sea,” which recognizes the reality that the area historically known as Palestine is, in fact, not free... Yet Hill’s detractors have directed their outrage at that single line, twisting it to mean the destruction or “genocide” of the Israeli state...
Since he was dismissed from his role at CNN, many of the same voices that pressured the news organization to fire Hill are now pushing for Temple University to do the same.
On Tuesday, Temple University’s newspaper — The Temple News — published a story reporting that the university is set to “investigate” Hill and is determining whether he can be “reprimanded” by the university for the statements that he had made at the United Nations.
Last Friday, the Philadelphia Inquirer published an article in which it noted that one of the people pushing for Hill to be fired from Temple University was Leonard Barrack, who was described as a “Temple trustee and major donor to the university.” Barrack was quoted as saying that “He [Hill] called for the destruction of the State of Israel in code words. I am very upset about it. I think it was anti-Semitic.”
However, the article fails to note that Leonard Barrack is also former president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, which regularly hosts events in Philadelphia with American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), arguably the most influential Israel lobby group in the U.S., and StandWithUs, an Israel lobby group...
Another Temple University alumnus with connections to the Israel lobby pushing for Hill to be fired is the President of the Zionist Organization of American (ZOA), Morton Klein. Klein went even further than Barrack in expressing his outrage over Hill’s speech, calling for the university to fire Hill, whom he called a “Bigot Jew-hater.”...
In addition to ZOA, other notable Israel lobby groups, such as the American Jewish Committee (AJC), have been vocally calling for Hill to be fired.
AJC claims to be very different from ZOA in the sense that AJC seeks to cater to “liberals” while ZOA is focused more on Republicans and conservatives. However, both are equally committed to promoting Zionism.
Indeed, AJC was instrumental in promoting the Israel-centric definition of anti-Semitism that seeks to define certain criticisms of the Israeli state as anti-Semitism.
Another important and controversial Zionist organization pushing for Hill to be fired from Temple University is the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI). NCYI’s call to have Hill fired was widely quoted by both Israeli and U.S. media outlets. NCYI, essentially an umbrella group for over 100 smaller organizations spread throughout different areas of the United States, has a storied history, having been founded over 100 years ago.
NCYI, which describes itself as “fiercely Zionistic,” promotes anti-BDS initiatives on U.S. college campuses, including Temple University.
The controversy that has resulted from Hill’s speech is just the latest iteration of a larger effort to silence advocacy for Palestinian rights in the United States...
The Israel lobby that represents extreme political Zionism in the United States is seeking to make an example of Hill in order to avoid having to discuss the important issues he brought up in his speech.
Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others.
The Trump administration is trying to divide the Palestinians in order to further the aims of Israel’s hard-right government, senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat writes exclusively for The National, in a searing response to US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt’s claim that Palestinian leaders are stifling the promise of their people.
Mr Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), rebutted Mr Greenblatt’s assertion that Palestinian leaders are standing in the way of economic progress, an argument that made no mention of Israel’s military occupation, opposition to a functioning and sovereign Palestinian state or its restrictions on the Palestinian labour market.
“For the Trump administration, the solution to ending Israel’s occupation is to buy the Palestinian right to national independence. Such a ‘solution’ is no more than a transaction,” he writes.
“In reality, once we realise our freedom and take control of our imports, exports and natural resources, among other essential attributes of a normal state, the economy would flourish and prosper in a free Palestine.”
Mr Erekat, who has oft sparred with Mr Greenblatt since President Donald Trump was inaugurated, said his counterpart was trying to capitalise on economic desperation caused by Israeli policies in a bid to normalise the Israeli government’s plans, “legitimise its settlements and its whole system of oppression”.
Due to Israeli restrictions, up to 80 per cent of Palestinian GDP is to lost to the occupation, he says, citing World Bank figures that estimate that cost to be around $3.4 billion. Tourism has been monopolised by Israel or stifled in places such as Bethlehem where many travel to visit the believed site of Jesus Christ’s birth, he charges.
AMMAN — Since its reopening in mid-October, the Jaber Border Crossing with Syria has received around 138,000 arriving and departing passengers, the Jordan Customs Department (JCD) said on Tuesday.
In a statement carried by the Jordan News Agency, Petra, the JCD said that the Jaber Border Crossing has also received around 59,000 cars and 2,000 trucks since October 15.
The department also said that that the crossing has handled a total of 1,855 customs clearance documents in 50 days, adding that its personnel have foiled an attempt to smuggle 465 cartons of cigarettes.
The Jaber/Nasib crossing between Jordan and Syria was back to business as usual on October 15, after it was reopened for passenger and cargo movement under conditions agreed to between the two countries. In April 2015, Jordan closed the Jaber Border Crossing with Syria for security reasons. Passenger and cargo traffic was halted as a result of the escalating violence in the Syrian town of Nasib, just across the border station, some 80km north of Amman.
Syria is not only a major market for the Kingdom’s products, but also a strategic pathway for Jordan’s exports to Turkey, Russia and eastern European countries, Petra added.
The authorities of Syria's Aleppo have restored 130 schools in liberated areas of the city and 340 educational facilities in the eastern part of the Aleppo province, a local official told reporters.
"A total of 130 schools were restored and opened in liberated areas of the city, as well as 340 schools in the eastern part of the province. A total of 1,349 schools are currently open in Aleppo," the official said.
Some school buildings were almost completely destroyed during the war.
"During the war, militants occupied the upper floors of the school building and organized a hospital in the basement. They used classrooms for performing surgeries," director of Aleppo's school Khamid al-Omar said. He added that the building destroyed by militants, was restored in several months.
Engineer Bassam Makhshur, who works on restoring schools, said that the most difficult part is clearing out debris.
"The most difficult stage is the first stage - clearing out debris. Works were often halted, as we found mines under every collapsed wall, and we had to call in sappers," he added.
The return of displaced Syrians to their homeland was the main point of discussion during a meeting on Wednesday between Russian Deputy Minister Sergey Vershinin and a delegation from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The delegation was headed by Director of the UNHCR Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Bureau Amin Awad.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that both sides affirmed readiness to enhance cooperation on Syria including the development of the idea of holding an international conference on the return of the displaced Syrians to their homeland.
The statement noted that the UNHCR delegation, which participated in the international meeting on Syria held in Astana on Nov. 28-29, called for preserving dialogue with the guarantor states of Astana process.
Recently, Russian Foreign Sergey Lavrov has stressed that the Western states over many years haven’t proposed any constructive strategy or acceptable suggestions to be a substitute for those which have been set by the guarantor states “Russia, Iran and Turkey” at Astana with regard to combating terrorism in Syria, the return of the displaced, providing humanitarian aid and establishing the political process in the country
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has a mandate to provide international protection and assistance to refugees and, together with governments, find solutions to their plight. UNHCR also protects stateless persons and works to prevent and reduce statelessness. It acts as global cluster lead for protection and co-leadership in the area of camp coordination/management and emergency shelter in respect of internally displaced persons. UNHCR undertakes rule of law building activities in areas such as: Continuous development of international law... (www.un.org)
Yemen's warring parties have agreed a prisoner swap deal that will reunite thousands of families, United Nations special envoy Martin Griffiths said in Sweden on Thursday as members of the Houthi group and the Yemeni government appeared in public together for the first time since the civil war broke out in 2015.
Mr Griffiths said the "coming days are a milestone". He urged the parties: "Don't waver... let us work in good faith ... to deliver a message of peace." Sparing the port city of Hodeidah from destruction will feature prominently at the Yemen peace talks, Mr Griffiths said earlier on Thursday.
Prior to the opening of the talks, an exchange of tweets between the two sides indicated a more aggressive tone than what Mr Griffiths had hoped to convey. [..]
Although many involved in negotiations remain sceptical of a peace agreement emerging from the Sweden talks, Mr Griffiths has maintained that contact between the two parties is the beginning of a political agreement.
The two warring factions are expected to sign a long-awaited agreement on the exchange of prisoners, which will be the first formal memorandum signed between the two sides since the war broke out in 2015.
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted on Thursday not to support a US-led resolution condemning Hamas in what is suspected to be US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley's final major statement in the international body.
The resolution required a two-thirds majority in order to pass. Haley sought to have a simple majority suffice, but a resolution was passed by the body that changed the requirement to a majority of two-thirds. In total, 87 nations voted in favor of the resolution while 57 voted against it and 33 abstained.
The US-sponsored resolution would condemn the group for firing rockets into Israel, which it did in November after Israel violated a ceasefire agreement by assassinating a commander of the Hamas military wing al-Qassam Brigades, as well as other fighters. The European Union backed the US measure to condemn Hamas, giving Haley a much-needed 28 vote boost for her resolution.
gaza, november 2018
Haley will step down from her position at the end of the year. Since she began representing the United States at the UN, she has pushed back on countries critical of Israel and explicitly cited "anti-Israel bias" as the reason for the US withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council earlier this year.
It was widely believed that Haley hoped the passage of the resolution would be her defining moment at the UN. "She would like to go out with something," a diplomat for the UN Security Council told AFP. It was also expected that the resolution would pass.
On 16.11.2018, as I was preparing a crowdfunding to help me to pay legal bills incurred by the recent libel case against me, I received an email from PayPal ‘Brand Risk’ Management. The letter said,
“We have recently reviewed your usage of PayPal’s services, as reflected in our records and on your website https://www.gilad.co.uk/. Due to the nature of your activities, we have chosen to discontinue service to you in accordance with PayPal’s User Agreement. As a result, we have placed a permanent limitation on your account.”
This was a surprise to me since my website is both an artistic and an intellectual platform. There is no hate or other inappropriate content on my site nor in any of my writings. I have never been challenged by any law enforcement body anywhere in the world.
It is likely that PayPal succumbed to pressure from one Zionist body or another. Their objective is obviously a crude attempt to interfere with my ability to raise the necessary funds for me to avoid risking bankruptcy.
In March I was sued for libel by the chairman of the Campaign Against Anti Semitism (CAA), Gideon Falter, for suggesting that ‘Antisemitism is a business plan.’ The case is now settled... The court didn’t make any finding that I myself am an anti-Semite.
Our universe is rapidly becoming a Kafkaesque nightmare. It is removed from law or impartiality. I would ask that you kindly write to PayPal at email@example.com cc firstname.lastname@example.org and to express your dismay with the way they handle their operation.
Gilad Atzmon: Jazz-MusiK Enlightened Me
"It may sound funny, but I do realise now that it is my love for jazz that made me more and more critical of Jewish identity and Zionism. At the age of eighteen, when I was supposed to become a supremacist Judeo-soldier, I fell in love with Coltrane and Bird. It was then when I realised that the culture that inspires me (Afro-American) had nothing to do with the culture I was supposed to be fighting for."
"I do not consider myself a Jew. That said, I am sympathetic towards religious Jews as much as I am sympathetic towards religious groups or religious belief in general, and yet, I am far less sympathetic towards the secular Jewish identity. I argue that once you strip Jewishness of its spiritual content you are left with mere racism. You see, I am neither a religious Jew nor a secular one. Thus, I cannot regard myself as a Jew." "I do believe that compassion and empathy are universal humanist qualities. For me, to detach oneself from Jewishness is to become a being who feels empathy."
"I am an ex-Jew. My actual kindness or evilness has nothing to do with any form of grouping but with myself (me, myself and I)."
"Jazz is freedom in its making. It is both a call for liberation as well as a challenge of one’s personal boundaries. Playing jazz is the aim to free oneself while knowing that this will never happen."
"MusiK, contrary to musiC, is the search for beauty. “K” stands for beauty and “C” stands for capitalistic greed.
This distinction is sharply manifested in the difference between Kultur and Culture. (GA, december 2005)
Within a year of the launch of the proxy war against it in 2011, Syria was not so much collapsing as being collapsed by a war of attrition funded and coordinated by outside governments.
Turkey's role in this war was pivotal. As the dangers increased, critics were wondering precisely where Turkey's policies would end For Gokhan Bacik, the implications of the Turkish position were revolutionary. Not since the foundation of the republic in 1923 had a Turkish government been party to "an aggressive foreign policy strategy that urges regime change in another country."
Some criticisms centered on how Turkey seemed to have positioned itself at the vortex of other agendas, principally a Saudi-dominated Sunni Muslim agenda and a Western/Israeli agenda determined by Syria's alliance with Iran. For the veteran journalist Cengiz Çandar, the question was whether the Arab Spring was not turning into a Turkish autumn.
fsa|al-qaeda rebels - chp-meeting - pkk rebels
Challenging Turkey's support of the FSA, Faruk Logoglu, the CHP's deputy chairman, said Turkey "has taken a one-sided approach to the Syrian case from day one. The Turkish government has excluded the regime directly and positioned itself on the side not only of the political figures of the opposition but also military figures of the opposition. Facilitating the military arm of the opposition which aims to destroy the regime of a country is against international law and regulations."
The notion that Turkey had a pioneering role to play in the "new" Middle East was a "dangerous fantasy." In another view, while Turkey's strong position on the question of Palestine had been greatly appreciated across the Middle East, it was not an Arab country, and any attempt to play a leadership role would be resisted, apart from which Turkey needed to solve its own problems before setting itself up as a model for anyone else. Within a short time of intervening in Syria, Turkey's zero-problems policy had turned into an accumulation-of-problems policy.
Russian aerial intervention in 2015 helped to turn the corner for the Syrian government, which by early 2018 had regained control of most of the country.
However, statements that "the war is over" or "all but over" will remain premature as long as Turkey occupies northwestern Syria, the United States occupies the northeast and maintains military bases there and elsewhere, and the United States and Israel continue to launch air attacks on Syrian military positions or against what Israel claims are Iranian positions or Hezbollah weapons-supply routes.
Through the agreement with Turkey to remove Kurdish forces from the city of Manbij, the United States undermined the Kurdish rationale for its presence in northeastern Syria. In response, the Syrian Democratic Council, an umbrella group representing both the YPG and the U.S.-sponsored Syrian Democratic Forces, entered into negotiations with Damascus centering on the Kurds returning to the Syrian national fold in return for a decentralized form of government in the north. Of necessity, such an agreement would end the U.S.-Kurdish tactical alliance.
With the Islamic State largely suppressed and the Kurds falling away as an ally, the rationale for a continuing U.S. presence in Syria is reduced to limiting Russian gains and holding Syria hostage to its strategic alliance with Iran. With no exit point in sight, the continuing occupation of Syrian territory, by the United States or Turkey, is a formula for future conflict.
The costs to Turkey of intervention in Syria — not to speak of the catastrophic effects on the Syrian people — through armed proxies have been enormous.
These include civilian deaths from Islamic State suicide bombings, a refugee influx of more than three million people, the cost of maintaining them (running to tens of billions of dollars), domestic discontent over their presence at a time of developing economic crisis, and strained relations with Iran, Iraq, the EU, Russia and even the United States.
If riding the wave of reform set off by the Arab Spring was seen as a "national-interest" benefit, the wave has long since receded, taking with it Davutoglu's aspirations to "serve and lead" the Arab world.
The intentions of other members of the collective calling itself the Friends of the Syrian People were clear. The dominant partners in this alliance are the traditional enemies of national independence in the greater Middle East: the United States, Britain and France, and Gulf states attaching themselves to these powers. Iran was their ultimate target, and Syria the central pillar in the strategic alliance among Iran, Syria and Hezbollah that they hoped to destroy.
It is difficult to see how Turkey's national interest was served by joining this company and helping it to achieve goals that clearly are not Turkey's.
As the YPG is an ally of the PKK, there was a credible national interest in routing it. However, it was intervention by Turkey and other countries that empowered the YPG in the first place. Formed in 2004, it played no significant role in Syrian politics until the destruction of the government's authority in the north by proxies of the Friends of the Syrian People created the opportunity. Ironically, Bashar al-Assad was just as opposed to Kurdish autonomy in the north as Tayyip Erdogan.
All Turkish opposition parties are opposed to the AKP government's Syria policy. The CHP's presidential candidate, Muharrem Ince, said before the June 2018 elections that his government would restore relations with Syria, a step that would have had to include the withdrawal of Turkish forces. The party's defeat closed off this exit route. In the long term, historians are likely to regard the Syria policy of the AKP government as a violent rupture of Ataturk's guiding principle of "peace at home and peace in the world," and as misguided adventurism unprecedented in Turkey's republican history.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working behind the scenes to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, Channel 2 diplomatic correspondent Dana Weiss reported on Saturday night.
The report said Netanyahu’s goal was to bring about a breakthrough and make the relations between the two countries official before the 2019 Israeli election.
Mossad head Yossi Cohen, who was responsible for facilitating Netanyahu’s October 26 visit to Oman, is Netanyahu’s point man on building relations with the Saudis. Netanyahu stood behind Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman when he faced international criticism for his alleged role in the murder of Saudi-American journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
The report quoted a senior diplomatic source saying Israel has been in contact with multiple Arab states to figure out interests vis-à-vis Iran, apparently including Saudi Arabia.
mbs & firebrand muslim preacher al-arifi
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Al Khalifa raised speculation that his country would be Netanyahu’s next host when he praised him on Twitter the same day Netanyahu was in Oman.
“Despite controversy, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu has a clear position on the importance of establishing stability in the region and Saudi Arabia’s role in achieving this stability,” Al Khalifa said.
But the Bahraini foreign minister told the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper over the weekend that there had been no plans made for such a visit.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner maintained informal contact with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and publicly defended him after the 2 October killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the New York Times reported on Saturday, citing two former senior American officials and the two people briefed by the Saudis.
As the murder of the Saudi journalist who was ambushed and dismembered by Saudi agents set off a media firestorm and American intelligence agencies concluded that it was ordered by MBS, Kushner became the prince’s primary defender inside the White House, people familiar with its internal deliberations told the Times.
Kushner’s support for MBS illustrates the personal bond that has helped draw Kushner’s father-in-law, US President Donald Trump, into an embrace of Saudi Arabia as one of his most important international allies.
The bond between Kushner and MBS did not happen on its own. The prince and his advisers, eager to secure US support for his hawkish policies in the region, cultivated the relationship with Kushner for more than two years, according to documents, emails and text messages reviewed by the New York Times.
Still, earlier this week, a bipartisan group of US senators introduced a resolution denouncing MBS for his role in the murder of Khashoggi, as well as the war in Yemen and blockade of Qatar, in both of which Saudi Arabia is deeply involved. Trump has so far insisted on keeping strong ties to Saudi Arabia, saying the Saudi government is a key ally in the fight against Iran and has signed billions of dollars worth of defence contracts with US companies.
Residents of Harran al-‘Awamid town, 25 km southeast of Damascus, are dusting off war rubble and cleaning up the severe damage caused by terrorism.
The town is considered one of the biggest and most important areas in Douma area in the Eastern Ghouta. Its inhabitants are determined to restore what has been destroyed due to the terrorist attacks...
The concerned parties in the town, in cooperation with different service institutions in Damascus Countryside governorate, provided 80% of basic requirements, including electricity, water, agricultural equipment and educational services to ensure an appropriate environment for the return of hundreds of those who were forced to displace and flee the terrorists’ atrocities. Mayor Ammar Askar noted that more than 1000 families have returned from Lebanon and Jordan to the town after being liberated of terrorism, underling the Technical Services Directorate’s efforts to rehabilitate streets, sewage networks, the health center and other governmental institutions.
Regarding the situation of electricity in the town, medium- and low-voltage networks have been installed at a length of 10 km to feed the town, in addition to putting two power transmission plants into service.
Three schools have been rehabilitated and equipped with all educational materials and equipment, said Askar, adding that around 1000 students are going to school where a well-qualified teaching staff supervises the educational process.
Flashback 2011: Harran al 'Awamid in the region of Rif-dimashq is located in Syria - some 16 mi (or 26 km) East of Damascus, the country's capital. (Trip-Suggest website, september 2011)
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has said that following Washington’s failure to pass a UN resolution condemning Hamas at the General Assembly this week, President Donald Trump suggested cutting funds to countries who did not cooperate and asked: “Who do you want me to yell at?”
While the US-backed draft resolution got a comfortable majority of votes, it fell short of the two-thirds super-majority needed to pass. Eighty-seven countries voted in favor of the resolution, while 57 opposed it. Thirty-three countries abstained and another 23 were not present.
Hadashot news on Saturday aired a video of Haley speaking at Israel’s United Nation’s mission during a Hanukkah candle-lighting event on Thursday, just after the vote fell through. “The president called and he said, ‘Nikki what happened?’ And I told him, and he goes, ‘Who do we need to get upset at? Who do you want me to yell at? Who do we take their money away?'”
She then added with a smile: “I’m not gonna tell you what I told him.”
Haley, who is departing at the end of the year and will be replaced by State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, was presented by Israeli UN envoy Danny Danon with a framed Jewish mezuzah made of a piece of a rocket fired at Israel from Gaza.
Israeli leaders still praised the outcome of Thursday’s vote as a show of wide support for their position against the terror group...
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