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.”
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.
The developmental shift Saudi Arabia is witnessing is not only limited to economic growth or common traditional plans but it also includes other fields such as culture and education.
Syria, Al-Qaeda-Idlib: Bookburning
News that philosophy will be introduced to high schools in Saudi Arabia has been the talk of those interested in the field, and also got its share of media coverage, educational analysis and intellectual debate.
There has been an old debate between experts in teaching philosophy and it can be summed up in two points:
The first one thinks that teaching philosophy in certain manners may produce a mentality that lacks comprehension and understanding....
The second opinion is that teaching philosophy marks the minimum of critical thinking and liberation of the mind from the captivity of ready-made answers. Teaching philosophy makes it inevitable for teachers to adopt an approach that’s different than bombarding students with ready-made answers or crushing their young minds.
Teaching philosophy must be carried out via a discussion without reprimand as philosophy looks into intuitions and the void.
Students have the right to ask whatever questions they have without fear..
Teaching philosophy does not aim to graduate millions of philosophers but it can benefit those who plan to be doctors or engineers and even those who engage in the military. Philosophy is a rich subject and it’s not about memorizing. Reading exceptional texts enriches the mind. Teaching philosophy does not destroy constants and does not oppose principles. It’s a wide space for general discussions, educating the mind and guarding the intellect from intolerance and rigidity..
DAMASCUS, (SANA)_ President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday participated with thousands of students in the inauguration of the memorial of Syrian Universities' Martyrs at Damascus University.
After the inauguration ceremony, President al-Assad talked with the families of the martyrs and a group of students, stressing that the terrorist groups targeted university students and institutions because of their obscurantist ideology.
President al-Assad added that these groups which are fighting the Syrian people and their regional and western supporters could not bear the statue of Abu al-Alaa al-Maarri or the Suspension Bridge of Der Ezzor, which is a cultural monument, so they will not bear the idea of Syrian youths who are armed with knowledge to confront their obscurantism and criminality.
Al-Ma'arri: The Rights of Reason
Abul 'Ala Al-Ma'arri was a blind Arab philosopher, poet and writer.
He was a controversial rationalist of his time, attacking the dogmas of religion rejecting the claim that Islam or any other religion possessed the truths they claim...
He started his career as a poet at an early age, at about 11 or 12 years old. He was educated at first in Ma'arra and Aleppo, later also in Antioch and other Syrian cities.
Among his teachers in Aleppo were companions from the circle of Ibn Khalawayh. This grammarian and Islamic scholar had died in AH 370 (AD 980/1), when Al-Ma'arri was still a child. Al-Ma'arri nevertheless laments the loss of Ibn '_alawayh in strong terms in a poem of his Risalat al-ghufran. ... Al-Ma'arri was skeptic in his beliefs and denounced superstition and dogmatism in religion. Thus, he has been described as a pessimistic freethinker.
One of the recurring themes of his philosophy was the rights of reason against the claims of custom, tradition and authority.
Al-Ma'arri criticized many of the dogmas of Islam, such as the Hajj, which he called, "a heathen's journey."
He rejected claims of any divine revelation. His creed was that of a philosopher and ascetic, for whom reason provides a moral guide, and virtue is its own reward.
His religious skepticism and positively antireligious views are expressed in a poem which states "The inhabitants of the earth are of two sorts: those with brains, but no religion, and those with religion, but no brains."
He was equally sarcastic towards the religion of Islam as he was towards Judaism and Christianity. Al-Ma'arri remarked that monks in their cloisters or devotees in their mosques were blindly following the beliefs of their locality: if they were born among Magians or Sabians they would have become Magians or Sabians. (Wikipedia info)
Afghan Taliban representatives and US officials met in the UAE on Monday, amid diplomatic moves toward establishing the basis for talks to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said representatives from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the UAE would also take part in the talks, which follow at least two meetings between Taliban officials and US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar. He said the talks had begun and could take some time.
Diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict have intensified, although the Taliban have refused to deal directly with the internationally recognized government in Kabul, which it considers an illegitimate foreign-imposed regime.
The Taliban, who were overthrown in 2001, say the presence of international forces in Afghanistan is the main obstacle to peace. Even as the peace process gathers momentum, fighting has continued with heavy casualties on both sides...
“The talks in UAE will happen with the US envoy in the presence of representatives of some other countries,” Mujahid said. Taliban officials from the movement’s political headquarters in Qatar and two representatives sent by Mullah Yaqub, elder son of the Taliban’s late founder Mullah Mohammad Omar, will be present.
ALEPPO, Syria - In the heart of Aleppo Old City, the impressive medieval citadel once again glows with simple night-time illuminations. Less than two years after Syrian army forces regained control over central Aleppo, cafes and restaurants have already been rebuilt.
Walkways are dotted with stalls, some run by wheelchair-bound men, selling roasted nuts, seasonal fruit and glowing plastic toys next to the rubble of some of the city's most historic buildings. Off-duty soldiers and only sons, to whom Syria’s ongoing compulsory military conscription does not apply, lark around, trying to make eye contact with girls in high-heels.
A young man takes a running leap, then launches himself onto a mule offering rides for children. He canters off confidently at an unlikely speed, weaving between families and youths on bicycles festooned with battery-powered LED lights.
western backed 'free' aleppo, 2013/14
Present-day Aleppo is in contrast to the war-torn city which dominated world headlines, before the conflict between government forces and rebels based in eastern neighbourhoods finally ended in December 2016.
An estimated 30,000 people were killed during the four-year conflict across the city and surrounding region, which was once Syria’s industrial and financial hub. Hundreds of thousands more were injured, bereaved and forced to flee their homes.
In the electricity-laced night, Aleppo’s demoralised 14th-century souk, with its charred ceilings and crumpled, bullet-ridden shutters, is a mere backdrop to the bustling nightlife which has blossomed this year.
Housed in an elegant Ottoman-era building on a corner opposite the citadel, Beroea Restaurant is fully booked every evening, mostly with parties - a wedding yesterday, a doctors union meeting tonight, a pharmacists’ union gathering tomorrow. Dani Ajam, the owner, says: “We had 150 people yesterday and 120 are coming tonight. You can’t believe it but, five months ago, there were no people here, nothing.
“This area sort of took off after I reopened. There was hardly a soul on the street before that. No lights, nothing. But now it’s crowded every night.”
Ajam bought the restaurant in 2011, just one month before the Syrian civil war started. He says he could not have predicted what would happen during the years that followed. With the onset of fighting, his family relocated to Saudi Arabia, where he runs another six restaurants, waiting for the day when they could come back. I had to come back. I‘m Syrian. I’m like a fish and Syria is my water...
The severely damaged building opposite Beroea has already been purchased by Syrian property developers who plan to turn it into a five-star hotel. The Carlton Citadel Hotel, housed in an another Ottoman era building, only opened in 2010. Now it is reduced to heaps of carefully piled stones in preparation for future rebuilding. Graffiti sprayed across a wall nearby reads: ‘War brings nothing. It is over.”
Whole streets of the Old City do good business selling construction materials. In defiance of international sanctions, most things available for purchase are made in Syria, including local knock-off versions of branded goods, from cigarettes and fizzy drinks to chocolate bars. Aleppo’s post-war recovery is overlooked by posters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, often accompanied with the words: “Believe in Syria”.
Across the city, resilient and resourceful Syrians continue to rebuild whatever they can of their shattered lives, flattened homes and ruined businesses.
Alongside extensive rebuilding efforts, life is steadily returning to normal. Parks are full of families, and young boys throw themselves off concrete slopes into deep streams to cool off from the heat. People greet friends, colleagues and acquaintances who they have not seen in the six years since the outbreak of fighting in the city, with the same phrase: “Thank God, you survived the war.”
WASHINGTON DC – The United States said Monday it was no longer seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but renewed warnings it would not fund reconstruction unless the regime is “fundamentally different.”
us-backed al-qaeda rebels 2012
James Jeffrey, the US special representative in Syria, said that Assad needed to compromise as he had not yet won the brutal seven-year civil war, estimating that some 100,000 armed opposition fighters remained in Syria.
“We want to see a regime that is fundamentally different. It’s not regime change – we’re not trying to get rid of Assad,” Jeffrey said at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank.
Estimating that Syria would need $300-400 billion to rebuild, Jeffrey warned that Western powers and international financial institutions would not commit funds without a change of course.
“There is a strong readiness on the part of Western nations not to ante up money for that disaster, unless we have some kind of idea that the government is ready to compromise and thus not create yet another horror in the years ahead,” he said.
He acknowledged, however, that the United States may not find an ally anytime soon in Syria, saying: “It doesn’t have to be a regime that we Americans would embrace as, say, qualifying to join the European Union if the European Union would take Middle Eastern countries.”
The Trump administration says US troops are being withdrawn from Syria, after the president said the Islamic State (IS) group had been "defeated".
Some 2,000 troops have helped rid much of north-eastern Syria of IS, but pockets of fighters remain.
Both the Pentagon and the White House statement said the US had started "returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign". The Pentagon said it would not provide further details of what that next phase is "for force protection and operational security reasons".
The White House said the US and its allies stood "ready to re-engage at all levels to defend American interests whenever necessary, and we will continue to work together to deny radical Islamist terrorists territory, funding, support and any means of infiltrating our borders".
Pulling troops out of Syria had long been promised by President Trump. But the announcement may have taken some of his own officials by surprise.
Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on state-controlled Channel One TV that the US decision could result in "genuine, real prospects for a political settlement" in Syria.
One of Mr Trump's supporters, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who sits on the armed services committee, called it a "huge Obama-like mistake". In a series of tweets, he said IS was "not defeated", and warned withdrawing US troops puts "our allies, the Kurds, at risk".
A UK government spokesman said these developments "do not signal the end of the Global Coalition or its campaign" against IS, and the UK will "remain committed" to ensure IS' "enduring defeat".
Flashback 2013-2014: The enemies of our enemies are our friends
American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War
The United States first supplied the rebels of the Free Syrian Army with non-lethal aid (including food rations and pickup trucks), but quickly began providing training, cash, and intelligence to selected Syrian rebel commanders.
During the Syrian Civil War, which began in 2011, two US programs attempted to assist the Syrian rebels. One was a military program that planned to train and equip 15,000 Syrian rebels, but was canceled in 2015 after spending $500 million and producing only a few dozen fighters.
A $1 billion covert program run by the CIA was more successful, but was decimated by Russian bombing and canceled in mid-2017 by the Trump administration. The United States began surveillance missions on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) positions in Syria in September 2014.
On 22 September 2014, the United States, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates began to attack the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant forces inside Syria, as well as the Khorasan group in the Idlib Governorate to the west of Aleppo and the al-Nusra Front around Raqqa as part of the military intervention against ISIL. (Wikipedia info)
US President Donald Trump has claimed that the US will no longer act as the self-proclaimed ‘policeman of the Middle East’ following his decision to withdraw US troops from operations in Syria.
Trump decried the United States’ role as the so-called “policeman of the Middle East” arguing that his country had spent “precious lives and trillions of dollars protecting others who, in almost all cases, do not appreciate what we are doing.”
He added that the US had received nothing in return for its efforts in the seven-year Syrian conflict and that it was “Time for others to finally fight.”
Trump added that while Russia and Iran may not like the decision, he was using the withdrawal to further his ambitions of building “by far the most powerful military in the world.”
“If ISIS hits us they are doomed!” he summarized.
During his annual Q&A Vladimir Putin praised the US decision to withdraw its troops from Syria.
He has however expressed some doubt over whether Washington will really pull out considering its military has remained in Afghanistan for 17 years.
Will Trump Hold Firm on Syrian Pullout?
"We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there," wrote President Donald Trump, as he ordered the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Syria, stunning the U.S. foreign policy establishment.
Yet, Trump is doing exactly what he promised to do in his campaign. And what his decision seems to say is this: We are extricating America from the forever war of the Middle East so foolishly begun by previous presidents. We are coming home.
"Russia, Iran, Syria… are not happy about the US leaving," Trump tweeted, "despite what the Fake News says, because now they will have to fight ISIS and others, who they hate, without us." If Putin, victorious in the Syrian civil war, wishes to fight al-Qaida and ISIS, the last major enemies of Assad in Syria, why not let him?
The real losers? Certainly the Kurds, who lose their American ally. Any dream they had of greater autonomy inside Syria, or an independent state, is not going to be realized. But then, that was never really in the cards.
Forced to choose between Turkey, with 80 million people and the second-largest army in NATO, which sits astride the Dardanelles and Bosphorus entrance to the Black Sea, and the stateless Kurds with their Syrian Democratic Forces, or YPG, Trump chose Recep Tayyip Erdogan...
National security adviser John Bolton, who said U.S. troops would remain in Syria until all Iranian forces and Iranian-backed militias have been expelled, appears not to have been speaking for his president.
And if the Israelis were relying on U.S. forces in Syria to intercept any Iranian weapons shipments headed to Hezbollah in Lebanon through Damascus, then the Israelis are going to have to make other arrangements...
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was officially welcomed by his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Thursday morning. Members of the high-ranking Iranian delegation in Turkey include Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh, Energy Minister Reza Ardekanian and a number of other senior officials. Erdoğan and Rouhani will chair the Fifth High Council for Strategic Affairs, at which the two countries are expected to increase bilateral trade volume to $30 billion.
The two leaders are expected to sign important agreements in the fields of economy, politics and culture during the visit. Governor of Central Bank of Iran Abdolnaser Hemmati, who is accompanying President Rouhani in the high-ranking politico-economic delegation to Ankara, is slated to hold bilateral talks with his Turkish counterpart Murat Çetinkaya and other relevant officials for the expansion of banking relations between the two countries.
Erdoğan and Rouhani are also expected to discuss the latest developments in Syria, where the two countries support opposing sides in the seven-year-long civil war. Turkey backs the opposition to the regime of Bashar Assad, whereas Iran is one of the closest allies of the Syrian regime, in addition to Russia.
All three countries are taking part in the peace talks known as the Astana talks and held numerous bilateral and trilateral meetings to end the fighting and launch a political process.
The two sides criticized Washington's decision to scrap the 2015 multilateral deal on the Iranian nuclear program -- officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) -- in defiance of UN Security Council resolution 2231, which has endorsed the international document.
They also expressed concerns over the unilateral sanctions that the US reinstated against Iran in the aftermath of its withdrawal from the JCPOA, saying the unfair restrictive measures could harm innocent people and leave a negative impact on regional economic relations.
Following the event, Rouhani and Erdogan took part in a joint press conference.
Speaking alongside Erdogan, President Rouhani lauded strategic Iran-Turkey relations... Rouhani thanked Erdogan for his firm stance on Washington's unilateralism and unlawful sanctions against Iran, saying "such positions indicated the two countries' commitment to law, mutual interests and morality."
The Iranian president said the US's hostile policies against the Islamic Republic amount to "terrorism," adding, however, that the "era of bullying is over, and that nations today make decisions based on their common interests."
In turn, Erdogan pledged that Ankara will continue to cooperate with Tehran, stressing that his country does not support the American sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
"One of the most frustrating aspects of advocating for Palestine is how Palestinians are dehumanized, their pain ignored or glossed over by most American news outlets." Lesley Williams, Mondoweiss 2018
WASHINGTON - Key Democratic senators and civil rights groups in the United States have voiced their opposition to a proposed measure in Congress that would prohibit US companies from boycotting Israel, saying that it violates freedom of speech. Senator Bernie Sanders and senior Democrat Dianne Feinstein issued a letter on Wednesday asking top lawmakers from both major parties to block the provision, known as the Israel Anti-Boycott Act.
"While we do not support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, we remain resolved to our constitutional oath to defend the right of every American to express their views peacefully without fear of or actual punishment by the government," the letter said.
The proposed measure, which is attached to a broader spending bill in the Senate, calls for imposing fines on businesses that answer the call of "international governmental organisations" to boycott Israel.
The New York Times editorial board slammed the proposal, calling it "part of a widening attempt to silence one side of the debate" on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called the measure a "full-scale attack on Americans’ First Amendment freedoms," while J Street, a pro-Israel Jewish group committed to the two-state solution, called it "dangerous".
"Treating Israel and the settlements as the same under US law would make a two-state solution and peace in the Middle East harder to achieve," J Street said in a petition to lawmakers.
Elites United in Panic Over Syria Pullout, Afghanistan Drawdown
The American public seems to broadly support Trump’s decision
Jason Ditz, antiwar.com, december 21, 2018
Open-ended war continuation has so much momentum in the US that Donald Trump’s announced pullout from Syria shocked the nation.
Followed up the same week with a drawdown from Afghanistan, the mainstream is now completely apoplectic. Conservative hawks are playing the usual fear-mongering about threats that have been ongoing since 2001, with suggestions that either not being in Syria, or being in Afghanistan but at a lower troop number, will lead to “the next 9/11.”
Others were quick to call Trump’s policy in Syria “Obama-like,” even though Obama is the one who sent troops to Syria in the first place, and Trump campaigned in 2016, at least at times, on the idea of eventually withdrawing. Eventually withdrawing works as a campaign slogan, but clearly officials never expected it to happen as a real policy.
Among Democrats, the argument is a bit more confused but no less shrill, as they’ve attacked Trump’s hawkish impulses, but are now accusing him of acting hastily and arbitrarily in ending the war...
The American public, however, seems to broadly support Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria, and to bring some troops home from Afghanistan. The White House switchboard is laden with calls of support.
America’s withdrawal Syria will have repercussions for Kurds beyond the Syrian border, argued a former adviser to the previous administration that first developed the relationship with Kurds that President Donald Trump just “gave away.”
But it may also open doors to stronger partnerships between Kurds across borders and with Arab communities inside Syria, argued Daniel Benaim on The Washington Perspective. Benaim was a Middle East adviser in the administration of Barack Obama and is currently a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.
Benaim said that Kurds in Syria need to “put aside illusions” and ideological priorities, and turn to their Arab neighbours “who can either be tomorrow’s enemy that you have to fight or they can be tomorrow’s friend.”
“It’s a moment for statesmanship and vision. You’ve been dealt a bad hand by the choices of the US president, but you still have choices yourself.”
President Donald Trump claimed Saturday he gave outgoing Defense Secretary James Mattis “a second chance” after the retired Marine general was ousted from military leadership under the Obama administration.
“When President Obama ingloriously fired Jim Mattis, I gave him a second chance. Some thought I shouldn’t, I thought I should,” Trump tweeted Saturday evening.
Former President Barack Obama fired Mattis as head of U.S. Central Command in 2013 in large part because of Mattis’ increasingly hawkish posture toward Iran.
Mattis resigned from the Trump Cabinet on Thursday in protest of Trump’s abrupt plan to withdraw all U.S. forces from Syria...
Prior to his nomination to become Defense secretary, Mattis had served on the boards of defense giant General Dynamics and Theranos, the since-dissolved Silicon Valley biotech firm. He was also a fellow at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank at Stanford University, and performed some private consulting work.
The Hoover Institution is influential in the American conservative and libertarian movements, and the Institution has long been a place of scholarship for high profile conservatives with government experience. A number of fellows have connections to or positions in the Bush administration, and other Republican administrations.
A non-political figure who played a key role in the Bush Administration's Iraq policy, Retired Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, former commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), recently joined the Hoover Institution. Other fellows of the Institution include such high profile conservatives as Condoleezza Rice, George Shultz, Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, and Edwin Meese.
"Hoover serves as a perch for various writers and ideologues whose views veer sharply toward the neoconservative right on foreign affairs.
Senior fellows Fouad Ajami and Victor Davis Hanson have been vocal critics of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East. Ajami, a fervent Iraq War backer and former adviser to the Bush administration, has accused the Obama administration of giving the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad “a diplomatic lifeline,” and leaving embattled protesters there “waiting for Godot.” (Right Web Info)
The biggest Christmas tree in Damascus, standing 30 meters tall, was lit up on Saturday evening at Abbasiyyin Square... The festivity included a Christmas parade..., featuring Christmas tunes and songs by the Action Project’s scouts troupe...
Aleppo Governorate on Sunday held a public celebration marking the 2nd anniversary of triumphing terrorism and liberating of the eastern neighborhoods of the city from armed terrorist organization.
The event started with a military parade by members of the Syrian Arab Army and Internal Security Forces, followed by national songs celebrating the victory of Aleppo performed by school students, sports performances, and Armenian and Circassian folk dances. Activities also included a sports display by individuals with disabilities, a ballet performance, and poetry recital.
Raghad Saddam Hussein, the eldest daughter of the former Iraqi president, recorded a voice message on the 12- year anniversary of her father’s execution last Saturday, directed to the Iraqi people.
“I wish you Iraqis that our vision for Iraq to be more secure and stable than what it is now,” she said.
“All humanitarian and moral values have been lost, and strange ideas have disseminated here and there. Extremism has reached the extent of exploiting religion as a cover to achieve sick objectives for many parties,” she added.
Raghad also condemned terrorist organizations, stating that they have carried out “inhumane and non-religious practices” in Iraq, and “undermined the Iraqi identity, destroyed civilization and tarnished a whole phase.”
She added that the future will be better, and that the people will work to build “a free Iraq” that is unified and developed, and comparable to the world’s developed countries.
U.S. President Donald Trump said President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has "very strongly" informed him that Turkey will eradicate whatever is left of the Daesh terror group in Syria.
In a tweet posted early Monday, Trump also reiterated in his tweet that U.S. troops will withdraw from Syria. He said Turkey is "next door" to Syria, and said President Erdoğan "can do it."
On Wednesday, Washington announced it will be withdrawing all of its troops from Syria, following a conversation between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Trump over an imminent Turkish cross-border operation to eliminate PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) from northern Syria.
Trump's Defense Secretary Jim Mattis quit following the decision and Brett McGurk, U.S. special envoy for the global coalition to defeat Daesh, followed in the footsteps of Mattis a day later.
Life was not always good for the Jews under the Ottomans and/or the Turks. But what is very clear is that the current Sultan, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is an impudent anti-Semite.
His repeated statements make it clear that his role model is former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and not sultans of yore who treated the Jews fairly...
Erdogan complains about Israel, which is fighting jihad, while he also supports this jihad; he has erased the gap between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism; he commits massacres against his own people, while accusing Israel of massacring the Palestinians.
Erdogan's anti-Semitic campaign continues with full force. Last year, Turkish TV aired an anti-Semitic series that included allegations of plots that were allegedly the brainchild the Jew Theodor Herzl, which were "inspired by real historical facts." This was not the first antisemitic series. In Turkey, it's routine.
One cannot easily dismmiss Erdogan, who in the past voiced opposition to Bashar Assad's continued rule in Syria, but soon joined the axis of evil that includes Iran and Hezbollah....
It is important to note that the president of Turkey is not the enemy of Israel, he is the enemy of the free world.
Europe already detests him; countries such as the Netherlands and Germany refused entry to ministers from his party. But this did not stop Erdogan from becoming the contractor for the project to stop the flow of refugees, for which he gets billions. This helps in the short term, but in the long run, Europe is cultivating a monster who is becoming increasingly racist and anti-Semitic.
Ben-Dror Yemini (born April 17, 1954) is an Israeli journalist. He has worked for the daily newspaper Maariv, and in Spring 2014 began writing for the daily Yedioth Ahronoth. Most of his newspaper articles are intended to refute what he regards as anti-Israel claims. He has published articles about the Israeli-Arab conflict in which he examines the issues of genocide, refugees, Palestinian and Arab capital, the status of Israeli Arabs, multiculturalism and the status of women. He argues that "anti-Zionism is politically correct anti-Semitism"... (Wikipedia info)
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu excoriated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday, the latest escalation in a war of words between the two leaders.
During a visit to the Palmach Museum in Tel Aviv with Christian soldiers, Netanyahu blasted Erdogan’s claim Israel is engaging in a ‘lawless occupation of Palestinian lands’, calling the Turkish leader an “anti-Semitic dictator” who was obsessed with ‘trolling’ Israel.
“He is obsessed with Israel. He knows what a moral army is and he knows what a genuine democracy is, as opposed to an army that massacres women and children in Kurdish villages and a state which, to my regret, is becoming more dictatorial day by day.”
“He is obsessed with Israel. But there has been an improvement. Erdogan used to attack me every two hours and now it is every six hours."
Earlier on Sunday, Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, demanded Israel “end the lawless occupation of Palestinian lands,” accusing the Jewish state of “brutal oppression of Palestinian people”.
Rumi urges us to think about the christmas-child-story as an allegory of the soul.
Mary, he says, is like the corporeal body, and each of us has a Jesus within us. When we experience pain, our Jesus is born. Without that excruciating torment, Jesus returns again to his essence by his secret path, and we remain deprived and lack any share in him.
Rumi goes on to say that he has used words to draw out this allegory of each of our souls giving birth to our most realized selves (i.e. our Jesus) by working through a profound existential pain that we suffer.
He maintains, however, that a spiritually more advanced seeker will not need words and allegories to see this truth, but will read it in nature–in the heavens and the earth, since they themselves are the result of God’s command, “Be!” and it is.
Rumi’s notion that each human being has a Jesus within waiting to be born is not foreign to Christian mysticism.
Paul says (Gal.2: 20) “and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” In Cor. 2:16, Paul asks, ““For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ (hēmeis de noun Christou echomen).”
So that is what Christmas means to some Sufi Muslims– it is a time to commemorate the pains that Mother Mary suffered and the birth of something wondrous, the realized, perfected self that emerges from working through the agony of the soul, the Jesus within each of us...
The Central Anatolian city of Konya attracts nearly 2 million tourists annually and is considered the birthplace of Islamic mysticism, with a history as deep as the spiritual doctrine of renowned Persian poet, Rumi.
Rumi established the Mawlavi order of Islam, also known as Islamic Sufism, in modern-day Konya, where he settled with his family after fleeing the Mongol invasion of Central Asia in the 1220s. His doctrine is centered around the core meaning of love and scores of books have been written by literary scholars about the Sufi poet whose doctrine is best embodied in the following poem:
"Come, come, whoever you are: Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again , come , come." The Sufi mystic is buried in a tomb in Konya, which is now a shrine and point of pilgrimage for millions of spiritualists and tourists alike every year.
"If anybody asks you, "What is Sufism? What religion is it?", you may answer: "Sufism is the religion of the heart, the religion in which the most important thing is to seek God in the heart of mankind." (Hazrat Inayat Khan
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Israeli Left of colluding with the media to topple his government and remove Israeli settlements in the West Bank, at the beginning of a meeting with settler leaders in Jerusalem on Wednesday morning
"In the upcoming elections we will see an effort by the Left to accomplish an 'electoral revolution,' with the aid of the media and other forces," Netanyahu said. "They are entirely invested in this effort. But they cannot succeed — if they do it will put the settlement movement in grave danger."
“We must win the upcoming election," the prime minister said. "This is a battle over our home. The fate of the state and the settlements is not self-evident."
“We also have hard work to do with the current US administration in order to continue to bring about the great achievements we have brought to the settlements," Netanyahu added. "This is not guaranteed, because later on, under a leftist government, everything could be reversed in a moment. Netanyahu met with the settler leaders just two days after announcing early elections, which will be held on April 9. The perception that he strongly supports the settlements is critical for his re-election campaign.
The meeting ended with no conclusive results.
2018 was in many ways a turning point for the position of Israel in the system of Western, liberal, capitalist democracies. It had long sat uneasily among France, Britain, and the United States, inasmuch as it was founded on a formal racial supremacist principle that Jews must rule the state. Racism is important in the other democracies, as well, but it is not typically enshrined in the constitution. The French Rights of Man mentioned nothing about race.
After 1967, Israel acquired substantial colonial possessions in the form of the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, in which its leaders began implementing a classic settler colonial regime reminiscent of Apartheid South Africa. The Israeli leadership egregiously violated international law by flooding their own citizens into a militarily occupied territory, and by extensively altering the lifeways of the occupied population.
I would argue that the occupation has now lasted so long and witnessed so many severe violations of the Geneva Convention of 1949 that the occupation itself is now illegal. Palestinians living under the Israeli jackboot do not have secure rights of property or control over their natural resources and, being kept stateless, lack even the right to have rights.
Somewhat astonishingly, the assemblage of far-right Israeli parties that rules Israel has managed to worsen its wretched human rights record in 2018 and to depart from liberal capitalist democracy almost entirely.
Not only is Israel not the only democracy in the Middle East (that distinction now belongs to Tunisia), it isn’t a democracy at all in the sense of a state of equal citizens able to vote for the government that rules them.
Informed Comment reported that on July 19, the Likud-led government passed a new Nationality Law formally vesting “sovereignty” solely in the hands of the 75-80% of the population of Israel that is Jewish.
(About 21% of Israelis are of Arab Palestinian heritage and another 300,000 or so persons are not recognized as Jews by the Grand Rabbi and so would not participate in sovereignty; these are mostly immigrants whose mothers were not Jewish).
I wrote at the time, “It would be as though the US passed a law designating America as a state for white Christians, excluding African-Americans and Latinos, and making English the only official language.” I also pointed out that Apartheid is considered a crime against humanity in the Rome Statute signed by most countries in the world, which governs the judgments of the International Criminal Court.
Having formally turned non-Jews into second-class citizens inside Israel, the Likud government accelerated its colonization program in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank. The pace of building squatter settlements on stolen Palestinian land has doubled under the Trump administration in 2018.
You may say it can’t get any worse. It got worse...
Israeli rules over about 5 million stateless Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.
So there you have it. Israel at the end of 2018 is now unambiguously an Apartheid state, admired only in the US Deep South among those who are nostalgic for their own Jim Crow Apartheid....
2018 was the year Israel finally went completely rogue and ensured that it can no longer be considered to be in the club of liberal capitalist democracies. It is now formally an Apartheid state even inside the Green Line...
Bahia Amawai is a US citizen and Texas-based language specialist who helps autistic and speech-impaired children overcome their impairment. Despite the essential and noble nature of her work, she was fired by the Pflugerville Independent School District, which serves the Austin area.
Every year, Amawai signs an annual contract that allows her to carry on with her tasks uninterrupted. This year however, something changed.
Shockingly, the school district has decided to add a clause to the contract that requires teachers and other employees to pledge not to boycott Israel “during the term of their contract”.
The “oath” is now part of Section 2270.001 of the Texas Government Code...
“‘Boycott Israel’ means refusing to deal with, terminating business activities with, or otherwise taking any action that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations specifically with Israel, or with a person or entity doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territory ..”
The fact that Texas considers unacceptable even the boycott of businesses operating in the illegal Jewish settlements in the Occupied West Bank puts it at odds with international law, and, subsequently with the vast majority of the international community.
Twenty-five US states have already passed anti-boycott of Israel legislation, or have issued executive orders targeting the boycott support networks, while other states are in the process of following suit.
At a federal government level, the Congressional Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which is being received with enthusiasm among US legislators, vows to fine and imprison those who boycott Israel.
While there is strong civil society opposition to such obvious violations of the basic tenets of freedom of speech, the pro-Israel campaigners are unhinged...
This is the sad state of democracy in the US at the moment, where the interests of a relatively small, distant country are made the centerpiece of US government policies, at home or abroad... Many US politicians are answering the unreasonable lobby call of criminalising political dissent throughout the country...
Is protecting Israeli Apartheid more important to Americans than preserving the fundamental nature of their own democracy?
That is a question that every American, regardless how they feel about a supposedly distant Middle Eastern conflict, must answer...
DAMASCUS - The United Arab Emirates reopened its embassy in Damascus and raised its flag outside it on Thursday, seven years after it severed ties with Syria, a step that marks a big diplomatic boost for President Bashar al-Assad from a US-allied Arab state that once funded rebels fighting him.
The UAE recalled its ambassador from Syria in 2011 and broke ties with the Assad regime in February 2012. The Syrian Embassy in the UAE remained open.
Saudi-owned al Arabiya television confirmed the UAE embassy reopening first reported by Syria's information ministry, which had invited journalists to cover the event that took place at 1130 GMT at the embassy, located in the Abu Rummaneh district of the capital.
"The UAE decision came after a conviction that the next stage requires the Arab presence and communication in the Syrian file," tweeted Anwar Gargash, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
Gargash also tweeted that an Arab role in Syria is necessary now to face Iran and Turkey's intervention. He added that the UAE, through its presence in Damascus, is trying to activate the Arab role in what would "contribute to ending war and strengthening opportunities for peace and stability for the Syrian people."
The UAE does not have an ambassador to Syria yet but its charge d'affaires Abdul-Hakim Naimi visited the embassy and witnessed his country's flag being raised again on the compound.
"The opening of our embassy is a first step for the return of other Arab embassies," Naimi told reporters.
The United Arab Emirates was one of several regional Arab states that backed armed groups opposed to Assad, though its role was less prominent than Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Turkey, rebel sources have said.
The move to reopen the embassy now is seen as another step in efforts to bring the Assad regime back into the Arab fold as the conflict winds down, after years of diplomatic isolation.
Warming up to Assad is seen by some regional powers as a way of luring Syria away from the exclusive regional influence of Iran. Assad's key ally Russia has played a significant role in lobbying for the once-pariah regime to be welcomed back among Arab nations.
Bahrain has announced that work is continuing at its embassy in Syria and that flights have also continued without any interruption between the two countries.
A statement released on the Bahrain News Agency said the foreign ministry “stressed Bahrain’s keenness on continuing relations with the Arab Republic of Syria, underscoring the importance of consolidating the Arab role so as to maintain Syrian independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
“It also underlined the importance of activating the pan-Arab role to prevent any regional interference in its internal affairs, which would consolidate security and stability in Syria and achieve the Syrian people’s ambitions for peace, development and progress,” said the statement.
The announcement came one day after the United Arab Emirates reopened its embassy in Damascus.
With a voter turnout of 57.4% and 89.4% voting in favour, the new constitution was adopted. President Al-Assad signed the new constitution into force on 27 February 2012.
Arab civilization, which is part of human heritage, has faced through its long history great challenges aimed at breaking its will and subjecting it to colonial domination, but it has always rose through its own creative abilities to exercise its role in building human civilization. The Syrian Arab Republic is proud of its Arab identity and the fact that its people are an integral part of the Arab nation.
The Syrian Arab Republic embodies this belonging in its national and pan-Arab project and the work to support Arab cooperation in order to promote integration and achieve the unity of the Arab nation....
The Syrian Arab role has increased on the regional and international levels over the past decades, which has led to achieving human and national aspirations and achievements in all fields and domains. Syria has occupied an important political position as it is the beating heart of Arabism, the forefront of confrontation with the Zionist enemy and the bedrock of resistance against colonial hegemony on the Arab world and its capabilities and wealth.
The long struggle and sacrifices of our people for the sake of its independence, progress and national unity has paved the way for building the strong state and promoting cohesion between the people and their Syrian Arab army which is the main guarantor and protector of the homeland’s sovereignty, security, stability and territorial integrity; thus, forming the solid foundation of the people's struggle for liberating all occupied territories.
Syria has ever been a peace-loving country, where civilization, history, amity and fraternity are intertwined in a unique mosaic of unity, Arabism, solidarity and secularity.
Syrian commitment to her Arab roots, tradition and pure blood is one of the most noted characteristics for her as a country, people, causes, destiny and future...
But, the tragic mistakes and fratricides should be learnt from!
The sinister scheme is to separate and divide Arabs into tiny isolated pieces in a world of permanent unrest, poverty and even wars!
The new-colonialists have been engaged in a so-called 'Arab spring' war of attrition against Arabs, and under many silly pretexts: ethnicity, race, Iran, false democracy and human rights… The wounds and injuries of Iraq, the Sudan, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia are still bleeding!
Hopefully, the return of Arabs to their beating heart (and to their senses) would motivate others worldwide to wake up and stop destroying the main pillar of civilization and humanity.
Mr. Trump's recent declaration to withdraw his occupying troops from Syria is encouraging for stability, security and restoration for all.
Could such developments lead to a rational policy by Israel?
Israel , the USA, and many, many others have spared no evil efforts to enable terrorists to rule over the secular, modern and peaceful Arab world...
Syria, Russia, Iran, Hizbollah, and many others of those who have been fighting terrorism and multinational terrorists in defence of all are the wise pillars in this insane world.
To deal with the sane or the insane, that is the question...
Tehran, SANA – Members of the Syrian-Iranian Joint Ministerial Economic Committee were held on Saturday in Tehran, chaired by Syrian Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade Mohammad Samer al-Khalil and Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami.
Talks discussed means to expand and develop economic and investment cooperation between the two countries and reaching consensus on the long-term strategic economic cooperation agreement.
Al-Khalil said that the two countries are determined to develop economic relations, as the economic sector must have priority in cooperation between them, as developing investment, trade, banking, and financial relations would contribute to economic development and improve trade exchange.
“We count on Iranian companies to play a major role in reconstruction in Syria,” he said.
In turn, Esmali hoped that the agreement will be finalized, and that one of the most important aspects of this agreement is motivating the Iranian sector to work in Syria.
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