Saddam's Death, 156 (jan 2020, part-2)
attempt to destroy political holism in the middle east

See also: Page 155: january 2020 and Page 157: jan-febr 2020

Israel & The Temple Revolution & Unesco & the Temple
Regime Change in Iraq - Overview 2002/2003 - Trump & the Pisces Messiah - Kennedy Speech 1961 - Eisenhower's Social Gospel - "I Have, I Rule and I will Destroy" - Iran & the dialogue of civilizations - Netanyahu & Infantilization of Israel - Jesus & Pophet Muhammed: "Be a stranger in the world" - Ideological Warfare Center - Jewish fundamentalism in the State of Palestine - Palestinian Martyrs and Jewish Heroes - The Balfour Declaration - Trump's move on Jerusalem (2017) - Abbas & Trump's "slap of the century" - John Bolton, prominent war hawk, National Security Adviser to President Trump - Lies & Provocations: France, UK and USA show their dark face - Trump, the 'deal-breaker' - Explaining America’s economic might - Netanyahu & The Survival of the Fittest - Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil’ Is Now Pence’s ‘Wolf Pack of Rogue States’ - Mike Pence & antisemitism - Amnesia of the US Foreign Policy Establishment - Israeli Elections 2019 - Was Jesus a Palestinian? - Labor disappears from Knesset - Settlers from the White House - NO to International Law - Israel & The Three Central Dilemmas - Netanyahu & Neo-Zionism - Secularism & 'Jewish' identity - Pompeo & Christian leadership - Jeremy Corbyn & Jewish Witch Hunt - Donald Trump & the Deal of the Century

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

"No petit bourgeois politics"

Saddam Hussein and his ideologists sought to fuse a connection between the ancient Babylonian and Assyrian civilizations in Iraq to Arab nationalism by claiming that the Babylonians and ancient Assyrians are the ancestors of the Arabs. Thus, Saddam Hussein and his supporters claim that there is no conflict between Mesopotamian heritage and Arab nationalism.
Saddam Hussein based his political views and ideology upon the views of Michel Aflaq, Ba'athism's key founder. Saddam was also an avid reader of topics on moral and material forces in international politics. His government was critical of orthodox Marxism, opposing the orthodox Marxist concepts of class conflict, the dictatorship of the proletariat and atheism; it opposed Marxism–Leninism's claim that non-Marxist–Leninist parties are automatically bourgeois in nature, claiming that the Ba'ath Party was a popular revolutionary movement and the people rejected petit bourgeois politics. (Wikipedia info)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is no “Judaeo-Christian heritage.”

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

Choseness is what binds Zionists together.

To be chosen is to see oneself as an exceptional creation. It entails blindness to otherness. It is a form of impunity.
To be chosen often involves a near or total lack of empathy. Such lack is often defined in terms of acute narcissism and psychopathy....
I know well that Zionism was born to emancipate Diaspora Jews from their exceptionalist cultural traits and to make them ‘people like all other people.’
Like an early Zionist, I would have liked to see Jews liberate themselves from the choseness prison, but I accept that such a shift can not occur in the form of a collective or political movement.
The escape from choseness to the ordinary must be an individual struggle, a surrender to self-contempt that eventually matures into a genuine search for peace and harmony with the universe, with the soil and with one’s neighbours. (Gilad Atzmon, 24-6-2019)

Uri Avnery - The Original Sin
Avnery-News, 27-11-2010

Index Page

"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 Neoprogressive Cold War Liberals
James Carden, The American Conservative, 30-12-2019

They see a new Iron Curtain dividing right-wing authoritarianism and the democratic values embodied by American and Euro progressives.

Before Donald Trump’s election, many progressive foreign policy thinkers were simpatico with conservative and centrist realist thinkers.
“Progressive realism begins with the cardinal doctrine of traditional realism: The purpose of American foreign policy is to serve American interests,” wrote Robert Wright in The New York Times in 2006.
Sherle R. Schwenninger, a founder of the New America Foundation, stated: “The progressive realist critique centered around international law; non-intervention; disarmament; and winding down the worst excesses of the post-9/11 period.”

Progressive realists didn’t really disagree with other realists about the importance of those things, though they did also stress that economics played a large role in the country’s out-of-control foreign policy. They blamed the U.S. commitments to liberal hegemony, regime change, democracy promotion, and neoliberal economics for the twin disasters of the Iraq war and the 2008 financial crisis.
Whatever one thinks of that critique, it is true that the Bush administration’s bequest of worldwide instability, a revived Islamist threat, and a new Cold War-like arms rivalry, did not serve U.S. national interests.

You can hear echoes of progressive realism in the statements of leading progressive lawmakers such as Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Ro Khanna. They have put ending America’s support for the Saudi war on Yemen near the top of the progressive foreign policy agenda....
Yet since November of 2016, something else has emerged alongside the antiwar component of progressive foreign policy that is not so welcome. Let’s call it neoprogressive internationalism, or neoprogressivism for short....It places an “authoritarian axis” at its center.
Now countries ruled by authoritarians, nationalists, and kleptocrats can and must be checked by an American-led crusade to make the world safe for progressive values.
The problem with this neoprogressive narrative of a world divided between an authoritarian axis and the liberal West is what it will lead to: ever spiraling defense budgets, more foreign adventures, more Cold Wars—and hot ones too.

Sanders’s focus on this authoritarian axis is one that is shared with his intraparty rivals at the Center for American Progress (a think-tank long funded by some of the least progressive regimes on the planet)...
CAP issued a report last September about “the threat presented by opportunist authoritarian regimes” which “urgently requires a rapid response.”
The preoccupation with the authoritarian menace is one Sanders and CAP share with prominent progressive activists who warn about the creeping influence of what some have cynically hyped as an “authoritarian Internationale.”
The concern with the emerging authoritarian tide has become a central concern of progressive writers and thinkers.
“Today, around the world,” write progressive foreign policy activists Kate Kinzer and Stephen Miles, “growing authoritarianism and hate are fueled by oligarchies preying on economic, gender, and racial inequality.”...
The Cold War echoes here are as unmistakable as they are worrying...

By citing the threat to Western democracies posed by a global authoritarian axis, the neoprogressives are repeating the same mistake made by liberal interventionists and neoconservatives.
They buy into the democratic peace theory, which holds without much evidence that a world order populated by democracies is likely to be a peaceful one because democracies allegedly don’t fight wars against one another...
George McGovern once observed that U.S. foreign policy “has been based on an obsession with an international Communist conspiracy that existed more in our minds than in reality.” So too the current obsession with the global authoritarians.
Communism wasn’t a global monolith and neither is this. By portraying it as such, neoprogressives are midwifing bad policy.

“Of all the geopolitical transformations confronting the liberal democratic world these days,” writes neoconservative-turned-Hillary Clinton surrogate Robert Kagan, “the one for which we are least prepared is the ideological and strategic resurgence of authoritarianism.”
Max Boot also finds cause for concern. Boot, a modern-day reincarnation (minus the pedigree and war record) of the hawkish Cold War-era columnist Joe Alsop, believes that “the rise of populist authoritarianism is perhaps the greatest threat we face as a world right now.”

Neoprogressivism, like neoconservatism, risks catering to the U.S. establishment’s worst impulses by playing on a belief in American exceptionalism to embark upon yet another global crusade.
This raises some questions, including whether a neoprogressive approach to the crises in Ukraine, Syria, or Libya would be substantively different from the liberal interventionist approach of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton.
Does a neoprogressive foreign policy organized around the concept of an “authoritarian axis” adequately address the concerns of voters in the American heartland who disproportionately suffer from the consequences of our wars and neoliberal economic policies?

Donald Trump’s failure to keep his campaign promise to bring the forever wars to a close while fashioning a new foreign policy oriented around core U.S. national security interests provides Democrats with an opportunity.
Trump has ceded the anti-interventionist ground he occupied when he ran for office. He can no longer claim the mantle of restraint, a position that found support among six-in-ten Americans in 2016.
Yet with the exception of Tulsi Gabbard, for the most part the Democratic field is offering voters a foreign policy that amounts to “Trump minus belligerence.”

The unipolar world of the first post-Cold War decade is well behind us now. As the world becomes more and more multipolar, powers like China, Russia, Iran, India, and the U.S. will find increasing occasion to clash.
A peaceful multipolar world requires stability. And stability requires balance...

Progressive realism doesn’t call for global crusades that seek to conquer the hearts and minds of others. It is not bound up in the hoary self-mythology of American Exceptionalism. It puts a premium on the value of human life...
Such a policy has its roots in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first inaugural address.
“In the field of World policy,” said Roosevelt, “I would dedicate this nation to the policy of the good neighbor, the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others, the neighbor who respects his obligations and respects the sanctity of his agreements in and with a World of neighbors.”

James W. Carden is contributing writer for foreign affairs at The Nation and a member of the Board of the Simone Weil Center for Political Philosophy.

'We are living by the sword':
The regrets of an Israel founder's son
Sarah Helm, Middle East Eye, 13 January 2020

"My name is Yaakov Sharett. I am 92 years old. I happen to be my father’s son for which I am not responsible. So this is how it is.”
Yaakov chuckles and looks up from under a woolly hat towards a photograph of his father - proud in collar and tie - on his study wall in Tel Aviv. Moshe Sharett was a founding father of Israel, its first foreign minister and its second prime minister from 1954-55.
Now at [92]-years-old, I realise that the story started with the very idea of Zionism which was a utopian idea.
It was meant to save Jewish lives but at the cost of a nation of occupants who inhabited Palestine at this time. The conflict was unavoidable from the beginning.”

'To be honest, I am amazed how in 2019 the world outside accepts Israeli propaganda. I really don’t know why they do.' Yaakov Sharett
I ask if he describes himself as an anti-Zionist.
I am not an anti-Zionist, but I am not a Zionist,” he says, turning to look at Rena, perhaps in case she disapproves – his wife holds less radical views.
On the wall beside the picture of his father are photographs of their children and grandchildren; two of Yaakov’s granddaughters have emigrated to the United States. “I am not afraid to say I am happy they are there and not here,” he says.
I ask if he has “a rucksack and stick” packed ready to go and join them? After all, with his views, Yaakov himself is now in a minority – a small minority - living amid a majority of right-wing Jews in Israel.
And not only is he ideologically “fenced in” but also physically too. He talks of how he can barely move around Israel nowadays.
He refuses to go to Jerusalem which he says has been taken over by ultra-orthodox religious Jews.
“This is one of the most terrible disasters. When we were young, we thought religion was going to vanish.”
He says he never wishes to return to his beloved Negev because it was long ago settled by new generations of Jews “who have no empathy with Arabs”.
He can still “breathe” in Tel Aviv, and enjoys speeding around on a scooter, but even here, feels that he lives inside a “bubble”. He chuckles again.
“I call it the Haaretz bubble,” and he explains he is referring to a group of left-wingers who read the liberal Haaretz newspaper. “But this clan has no connection with each other except this daily paper that more or less expresses our opinion. It is the last stronghold. And I feel very bad about it…. It’s true I do not feel at home here.”
Yaakov says he is always thinking about leaving. If other members of his family would join him, he would.
“Look. When you make me think about it, I would leave tomorrow. Thousands are already leaving, most have two passports. We have the worst government we have ever had with Bibi Netanyahu,” he says.
"We are living by the sword, as Dayan said we should…as if we must be forced to make Israel into a kind of citadel against the invaders, but I don’t think it is possible to live by the sword for ever.”

Netanyahu & Zionist Settlers in 'Samaria' [occupied West Bank]

I ask how he sees the future for the Palestinians?
“What can I say? I feel very bad about it. And I am not afraid to say that the treatment of the Palestinians today is Nazi treatment. We don’t have gas chambers, of course, but the mentality is the same. It is racial hatred. They are treated as subhuman,” he says.
Yaakov is well-aware that he - a Jew - will be accused of “antisemitism” for saying such things, but says he believes Israel is “a criminal state”.
“I know they will call me a self-hating Jew for saying that. But I cannot automatically support my country, right or wrong. And Israel must not be immune from criticism.
Seeing the difference between antisemitism and criticism of Israel is crucial. To be honest, I am amazed how in 2019 the world outside accepts Israeli propaganda. I really don’t know why they do,” he says.
“And remember that the very aim of Zionism was to release Jews from the curse of antisemitism by giving them their own state. But today, the Jewish state by its own criminal behaviour is one of the most serious causes for this curse.”

Sarah Helm is a former Middle East correspondent and diplomatic editor of The Independent.

Realism & Restraint
Ike’s Military-Industrial Complex, Six Decades Later
James Pinkerton, American Conservative, 15-1-2020

January 17 marks the 59th anniversary of President Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell speech to the nation.

After eight years in the White House, just three days before John F. Kennedy would be sworn in as his successor, Ike went on national television and touched on many topics, from promoting the economy to working with Congress.
Yet the heart of his speech was a finely chiseled critique of what he dubbed the “military-industrial complex.”
This criticism was all the more remarkable, of course, because Eisenhower had been a career military man. Having graduated from West Point in 1915, he had served in the U.S. Army for more than three decades, through two world wars, ultimately rising to the rank of five-star general.
Yet on January 17, 1961, Ike said: “Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.”
He continued: “This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence—economic, political, even spiritual—is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government.”

By then 70 years old, Ike was no born-again pacifist. He quickly added of the military’s enlarging, “We recognize the imperative need for this development.”
That imperative, of course, was the Cold War, the seemingly permanent eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation of two countries, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., each glaring at the other with ideological hostility tipped with nuclear technology.
In response to the Soviet threat, Ike had maintained the Cold War structures he had inherited from his predecessor in the Oval Office, Harry Truman...

In his speech, Eisenhower made no apology for his role in the further freezing of the Cold War. Yet he still urged caution as to the potential ill effects of cold warring on the home front: “We must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.”
Then came the money sentences: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Those three key words, “military-industrial complex,” rocketed through the national consciousness. With those three words, Eisenhower gained the proverbial “strange new respect” among intellectuals, who mostly leaned left.
Indeed, the phrase “military-industrial complex” has become a favored catchphrase for leftists, anti-militarists, and anyone else looking for evocative shorthand....
So yes, Eisenhower was a vigorous leader in the Cold War competition, yet at the same time he was a citizen before he was a soldier, rightfully concerned with protecting our institutions from “unwarranted influence.”

In Eisenhower’s “Great Equation,” we can see a strategic mind at work: American strength must rely on more than just weaponry; the nation needed to maintain as well its economic and spiritual health. Long before the term was coined, Ike was a believer in “soft power”—as well as, of course, the “hard power” of firepower.
Six decades later, we must ask ourselves: is the Great Equation still in place? As a nation, are we maintaining all the components of power—military, economic, and spiritual—in proper balance?

James P. Pinkerton is a contributor to the Fox News Channel and a regular panelist on the Fox “News Watch” show.

Israel: Religious-Zionist parties unite
By Jeremy Sharon, Jerusalem Post, 15-1-2020

The three parties of the right-wing, religious-Zionist sector – New Right [Bennet], Bayit Yehudi [Peretz] and National Union [Smotrich] – came together in a last-minute deal Wednesday night, despite deep personal and ideological differences between them.
The far-right, Kahanist party Otzma Yehudit was left out, after New Right leader Naftali Bennett refused to accept the extremist party into his political union despite massive pressure from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to do so.

The day saw high political drama among all the right-wing religious parties, as New Right leader Naftali Bennett categorically refused to accept Netanyahu’s demand to include far-right Otzma Yehudit in his emerging right-wing, religious political union.
Over the last few days, Netanyahu brought huge pressure on Bennett to allow Otzma to join, to avoid right-wing votes being wasted on a party, or two parties, that will not pass the electoral threshold..
“I will not include someone on my electoral list who has a picture in his living room of a person who murdered 29 innocent people,” said Bennett in a statement on Facebook Wednesday afternoon. He was referring to Otzma leader Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has a picture of Baruch Goldstein, who carried out the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in 1994, on his living room wall.
Netanyahu has strongly pressured Bennett to accept Otzma, similar to the events of the April and September elections, when the prime minister also exerted heavy pressure on the right-wing parties to accept the extremist Kahanist party in its joint list.
Bennett tweeted later Wednesday evening that if Netanyahu was so anxious to have Ben-Gvir in the Knesset, he should offer him a reserved seat on the Likud list and cease his pressure on New Right.

Otzma Yehudit's leader Itamar Ben-Gvir responded to the right-wing unity, which means that he will have to run independently in the coming elections, and said: "The leadership of the religious Zionism has reached a now low. The man calling himself the minister of education has stabbed me in the back... And not just him, but Bennett and Shaked and Smotritch.... This is not a group worthy of leadership.

Flashback: Netanyahu partners with Kahanist
Terrorist Elements - Juan Cole, 22-2-2019

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday formed an electoral coalition with the extremist Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) Party, thus giving followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane a bigger role in Israel politics.
Kahane, a major violent hate group leader, founded the Jewish Defense League, seen by the FBI as the most active and dangerous terrorist group in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s.
He also founded the party Kach, which has many affiliates, including Kahane Chai, which was listed as a terrorist group by the US government.
Kahanists are alleged to have been behind the murder by pipe bomb of Arab-American activist Alex Odeh in 1985.
In 1994, Kach member Baruch Goldstein shot and killed 29 Palestinians at the Cave of the Patriarchs at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. Thereafter the party and its affiliates were banned in Israel and parties that had racism as their basis were not allowed in Parliament.

Netanyahu, leader of the far right Likud Party, faces a challenge from the coalition of a center-right general, Benny Gantz, and a center-right politician, Yair Lapid.
In order to fend off this challenge, he sought a coalition with the far right Jewish Home Party. But to seek yet another alliance, with a Kahanist group, is widely seen in Israel as a dangerous step...
Kahanists are seen as extremists, even by some on the Israeli far right.

Israel: Liberman furious at Smotrich:
"aggressiveness, bullying and religious coercion"
Ben Ariel, Arutz Sheva, 17/01/2020

Yisrael Beytenu chairman MK Avigdor Liberman on Thursday attacked Transportation Bezalel Smotrich after the Transportation Ministry decided to cancel dozens of bus routes that operated in Israel before the conclusion of Shabbat.
"This is aggressiveness, bullying and religious coercion. The man who wants to bring us back to the time of King David, King Saul and Torah law, again proves that these are not empty afflictions but, unfortunately, acts as well,” said Liberman, in a reference to past remarks by Smotrich of his desire for the State of Israel to operate according to the laws of the Torah.
"Smotrich is a member of a party that purports to represent the enlightened liberal right, but revealed its true face.
Yisrael Beytenu, as a condition for entering the next coalition, will demand that the issue of public transportation on Shabbat and the opening of businesses on Shabbat become the sole responsibility of the local government,” Liberman added.
Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz responded to the report by saying, "The State of Israel is a Jewish state and not a state of Jewish law. We'll win and take care of this - everyone will be able to live the way they want.”
Blue and White number two MK Yair Lapid said, "There will be a different government and a different status quo. We won't give in to them."

Maccabean Revolt: Hellenized Jews wanted to abolish Jewish practices
and adopt Greek ways; opposed by Traditional Jews.

"The battle for liberty must be repeated. There was a first century struggle found in the New Testament for spiritual liberty. Legalism is an ongoing issue and we must be aware. It is as relevant today as at any time." Law and Legalism

The Curse Of The Law
Yuli Edelstein, YNet Opinion, 14.08.2016

Those not accustomed to reading the texts dealing with the deep circumstances of the destruction of the temple might be surprised to read the Talmudic holding that Jerusalem was destroyed because "they judged Torah law therein."
That isn't a mistake: essentially, the destruction came to us because of the faulty norm of compliance with the law word for word.
The entire idea of "ex gratia" was foreign to them; there were no shades of grey, just black and white. ('Ex Gratia': used to describe something that is done or given freely rather than because it is required by a law).
Instead of our Torah being a living Torah and being a source for guidance, the prevailing spirit was to be "by the book," without taking into consideration the special circumstances and the reality that requires broad discretion.
We beard an unbearably high price for that extremism and literalism.

Flavius Josephus:
"Tyrants among the Jews brought the Roman power upon us"
"Titus Caesar pitied the people who were kept under by the seditious"

"I will not go to the other extreme, out of opposition to those men who extol the Romans nor will I determine to raise the actions of my countrymen too high; but I will prosecute the actions of both parties with accuracy.
Yet shall I suit my language to the passions I am under, as to the affairs I describe, and must be allowed to indulge some lamentations upon the miseries undergone by my own country.
For that it was a seditious temper of our own that destroyed it, and that they were the tyrants among the Jews who brought the Roman power upon us, who unwillingly attacked us, and occasioned the burning of our holy temple.
Titus Caesar, who destroyed it, is himself a witness, who, during the entire war, pitied the people who were kept under by the seditious, and did often voluntarily delay the taking of the city, and allowed time to the siege, in order to let the authors have opportunity for repentance."

Hamas and Iran: Not quite a complete alliance
Middle East Monitor, January 17, 2020

The head of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, visited Tehran, with a high-level leadership delegation. This is his first visit to Tehran since 2012, thus giving the current visit exceptional importance.

Qaradawi, Gaza 2013: "Islam will prevail"
Ma'an News Agency, May 10 2013

Yousuf al-Qaradawi, head of the Association of Muslim Scholars, is a controversial religious figure in the West and has millions of supporters — mainly from the Muslim Brotherhood. He backed the Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria.

Hamas desires to turn a new leaf on the lukewarm relations with Tehran, which began with the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in 2011, and which gradually started to recover in 2017.
Regardless of whether Iranian support increases after Haniyeh’s visit to Tehran or remains the same, Hamas sees Haniyeh’s visit as a watershed in its relations with Iran, which is its primary and exclusive supporter for weapons and combat equipment.
Hence, the movement is committed to Iran and looks forward to strengthening its relations with it to a degree close an alliance, despite the differences between them over several regional matters and Hamas’s desire to distance itself from any axes or extreme polarisations in the region...
It has become clear that Hamas has made its choice by aligning itself with Iran, because it supports it politically, militarily and in the media, and strategic considerations calculate their closeness despite their sharp differences regarding the Syrian issue.
While Hamas and Iran have regional differences regarding the issues of Syria and Iraq, and the relationship with the Gulf states, their relationship regarding the Palestinian issue is close to an alliance against the common Israeli enemy.
It is not directed against any Arab country, and it aims to unify efforts to confront the occupation. So long as Iran has the practical willingness and preparedness to support the resistance, it is welcomed by Hamas.

khaled meshaal | iran-syria-deal-2018 | khamenei-haniyeh

Flashback: Syria says no to restoring ties with Hamas
Syrian officials were always reluctant to re-establish ties with Hamas, arguing that the military group backstabbed its leadership in 2011. Hamas chairman Kahed Meshaal (ejected from office in 2017) waved the tricolour of the Syrian opposition in December 2012. (Arab Weekly, 23/06/2019

Khamenei: Trump is a 'clown'
who will betray Iranians
YNet News [Israel], 17-1-2020

Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei said President Donald Trump is a clown who only pretends to support the Iranian people but will push a poisonous dagger into their backs, as he struck a defiant tone in his first Friday sermon in Tehran in eight years.
He said the cowardly killing of Soleimani had taken out the most effective commander in the battle against the Islamic State group.
In response, Iran launched a barrage of ballistic missiles targeting U.S. troops in Iraq, without causing serious injuries. As Iran's Revolutionary Guard braced for an American counterattack that never came, it mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian jetliner shortly after it took off from Tehran's international airport, killing all 176 passengers on board, mostly Iranians.
Khamenei called the shootdown of the plane a bitter accident that saddened Iran as much as it made its enemies happy. He said Iran's enemies had seized on the crash to question the Islamic Republic, the Revolutionary Guard, and the armed forces.
He lashed out at Western countries.. He said Britain, France, and Germany, which this week triggered a dispute mechanism to try and bring Iran back into compliance with the unraveling 2015 nuclear agreement, were contemptible governments and servants of the United States.
He said Iran was willing to negotiate, but not with the United States.

“The American irrational hatred of Shi’ism stems from its strong sense of resisting injustice – the story of Karbala and Imam Hussein and the Shi’a stress on protecting the oppressed, defending the oppressed and standing up against the oppressor. That is something that the United States and the hegemonic Western powers simply cannot tolerate.” Prof. Mohammad Marandi, of the University of Tehran.

Tensions between Iran and the United States have steadily escalated since President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which had imposed restrictions on its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

Israel: 'The Likud will never forgive Knesset Speaker'
Arutz Sheva Staff, 20/01/2020

Likud officials excoriated Knesset Speaker and Likud MK Yuli Edelstein, claiming that the veteran lawmaker would never be forgiven for caving to Opposition demands to rule on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s parliamentary immunity request during the current Knesset.
The House Committee is widely expected to reject Netanyahu’s request for immunity from prosecution in the three criminal cases against him.
According to a report Monday by Yediot Aharanot, Likud officials said Edelstein’s decision Sunday to move forward with deliberations on Netanyahu’s immunity request in the outgoing Knesset in the midst of election season amounted to ‘selling the party out’.
Edelstein sold us out, and cheaply,” said one official. “When it comes from him, it legitimizes what Blue and White is doing.
He fueled Blue and White’s campaign. It looks like he wants to ‘pull a Rivlin’, and ingratiate himself with other parties,” the official continued, referencing President Reuven Rivlin, a former Likud MK. “If he doesn’t change his decision, it looks like he’s finished in the Likud.” Another senior Likud official echoed these sentiments, adding that the party would never forgive Edelstein.

On Sunday, Edelstein announced that he would convene the Knesset plenum next Tuesday to weigh in on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s request for parliamentary immunity.
“At a press briefing last week I declared that ‘I will not delay nor will I hasten the hearing... ” "I make all decisions based on the values I have had my entire life, the laws and the rules of the Knesset and legal judgments." "I believe that it is important to maintain all of the parties’ faith in the institution of the Knesset Speakership..."
The decision sparked criticism from the Likud, which had argued that Netanyahu’s request should be assessed by the next Knesset...
The Blue and White party had demanded Edelstein move forward with the hearings as soon as possible.

"It is sad to see Edelstein falling into the trap of the leftists who are trying to use the Knesset only to neutralize Netanyahu,” officials close to Netanyahu said. "No matter how much the media and the left embrace the Speaker of the Knesset, he will never be able to escape responsibility for this..."

Lebanon: New Government Formed
Arab News, 21-1-2020

A new government was announced in Lebanon late on Tuesday, breaking a months-long impasse amid ongoing mass protests and economic turmoil.
Hassan Diab, a 60-year-old professor at the American University of Beirut, now heads a Cabinet of 20 members, mostly specialists.
Shortly before the Cabinet was announced, thousands of people poured into the street closing major roads in Beirut and other parts of the country in rejection of the new government. Their anger was directed at political groups, saying they had named the new ministers.
“It’s time to get to work,” Diab said in a speech addressing the country following the announcement. He saluted the protesters in the street and vowed to “work to fulfill your demands,” claiming that his was the first government in the history of Lebanon to be made up entirely of technocrats. He insisted the 20 ministers were specialists who had no political loyalties and were not partisan.
Diab appealed to citizens to help the government implement a “rescue program” and said this Cabinet has the “capability and qualifications, will and commitment” to carry it through.
Among the ministers named were five women, including the minister of defense and deputy prime minister.
Lebanese are pinning their hopes on a new government to spearhead reforms, unlock billions in international aid, and help stabilize a plummeting Lebanese pound that has lost over a third of its value. A dollar liquidity crisis and restrictions on dollar transactions has compounded the crisis.

Tunis: Resistance and Liberation Film Festival
Launched for the First Time in Tunisia
Alahed (Hezbollah News Site), U-News, 21-1-2020

hosted, for the first time, the Resistance and Liberation Film Festival in the Tunisian capital, in the presence of local and foreign figures.
Director of the Cinema in Rissalat Association, Mohammad Khafaja, said on Monday at the launching ceremony "we insisted on holding the festival in Tunisia for its important location and because its people’s devotion for resistance and liberation."
For his part, Tunisian artist Lotfi Bouchnak, said "the resistance is not only in Lebanon, but is in all countries free from oppression and dependence, adding that Tunisia is the mother of the revolution."
The festival, organized by Rissalat and the Tunisian Film Library, will be held between 21 and 26 January and will include film screenings, seminars and panel discussions.
The festival is the first of its kind in Tunisia tackling subjects related to the resistance of Zionists and Takfiris.
Several films from Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Algeria will be screened during the six-day festival.

Tunis: Mawjoudin Queer Filmfestival, 2020

Mawjoudin has the immense pleasure to welcome its fans and guest for its third edition of Mawjoudin Queer Film Festival. Our annual gathering is renewed once again and will be filled with the 7th art and other exciting forms of art.
The festival will take place in Tunis, from the 20th to the 23rd of March, 2020.

MAWJOUDIN is an officially registered not-for-profit NGO that is based in Tunisia and works towards achieving equality, human rights, bodily rights and sexual rights for the LGBTQI+ community and other marginalized groups and individuals.
Our vision is to spread human rights culture to be able to live in a society where discrimination on the basis of SOGIESC* does not exist, and to be able to live in a society that promotes integrity, dignity, celebrates difference and where love, identity and expression are not crimes.

About the Festival: “The Mawjoudin Queer Film Festival” is an annual film festival in Tunisia celebrating the LGBT community. It began in 2018, as the first queer film festival in the country and all of North Africa. The focus is on queer identities, especially in people from the Global South.
The first festival took place from January 15–18, 2018. It received funding support from the Hirschfeld Eddy Foundation. The second edition of the festival was March 22–25, 2019, in downtown Tunis.

Rouhani: The United States takes actions
against independent governments
Tehran Times, January 21, 2020

TEHRAN – President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that the United States’ “illegal sanctions” against Iran and its plots against Venezuela are “crime against humanity”.
Rouhani made the remarks during a meeting with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza in Tehran.
“Undoubtedly, the independent nations will resist pressure and plots and will definitely gain victory at the end of this path and will make the United States regret,” Rouhani predicted.
Rouhani noted, “The current administration of the United States takes actions against independent governments and people and also harms itself.” He added that the Trump administration is just implementing policies of the Zionist regime of Israel.
Rouhani also said Iran will stand beside Venezuela in countering the U.S. pressure. Elsewhere, Rouhani called for expansion of relations and cooperation in various areas. “In this line, we are ready to hold joint commission of cooperation in near future,” he added.
Arreaza, for his part, called for expansion of cooperation. He also said that the independent countries will definitely resist pressure, counter plots and defend their interests.

Libya's neighbours rebuff foreign interference
in its internal affairs: Egypt’s foreign minsiter
Ahram online|MENA, Thursday 23 Jan 2020

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry attended a meeting with foreign Ministers and officials from countries neighbouring Libya to discuss the conflict in Libya, in Algiers, Algeria.
He lauded on Thursday the outcome of the meeting, saying all participants rebuffed foreign attempts to meddle with Libya's internal affairs.
"The meeting today was very positive and comes at an important time in light of the continued armed conflict in Libya and the arrival of many militants in the country", Shoukry told MENA.
"The situation requires immediate coordination among all Libya's neighbours to help the brotherly country overcome this crisis", he said. "All participants rejected foreign interference in Libya's affairs and attempts to bring terrorists or mercenaries to spark military confrontations in the North African country."
He underlined the importance of addressing many issues in Libya, including re-forming the presidential council, re-distributing the country's wealth in a just way, dismantling armed militias and making the national army the only party authorised to protect the country.
Shoukry also underlined the importance of fostering cooperation with international partners to settle the Libyan crisis, saying German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas took part in the meeting and expounded efforts to reach a peaceful settlement.

Flashback: Libyan (GNA) minister urges US to help
Middle East Monitor, 10-11-2019

us-backed islamist rebellion 2011 - gna (muslim brotherhood dominated) 2020
pro-islamist (al-qaeda, salafist dominated) demonstration 2012

GNA interior-minister Fathi Basahga accused Russia of attempting to restore power to remnants of Muammar Al-Qaddafi, the ousted leader of Libya who was killed in 2011.
“The US has an obligation, moral and legal, toward Libya. The US was a strong partner in bringing down the old regime. It should cooperate with us Libyans to restore stability and security,” he said.
Forces aligned with Khalifa Haftar (Libyan Nation Army) launched a campaign in April to capture Tripoli from Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA).

Iran’s Zarif hits back at Saudi official
over ‘normal state’ remarks
Press TV [Iran], 24 January 2020

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has slammed a senior Saudi Foreign Ministry official for making remarks against the Islamic Republic, saying a "normal" country does not refuse to talk.
Zarif took to his official Twitter account on Friday to give response to Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir who told CNBC on Thursday that a restoration of ties with Iran will be possible when Iran "returns to a normal state."
Speaking at a World Economic Forum panel in Davos, Switzerland, Jubeir accused Iran of “meddling” in Iraq’s internal affairs and said, "The Iranians have to show good faith, the Iranians have to change their behavior and their policies."
In his tweet, Zarif said Saudi Arabia cannot be called a “normal” country when it caused a humanitarian crisis in Yemen and killed its dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the kingdom's consulate in Turkey.
"'Normal' countries don’t operate abattoirs disguised as consulates. 'Normal' countries don’t attack their neighbors, cause a humanitarian crisis, and refuse to talk," he said.
However, the top Iranian diplomat said Tehran was ready for talks without any preconditions. "Nonetheless, WE don’t set preconditions for dialog," he pointed out.

[Abattoir] Khashoggi, a former advocate of the Saudi royal court who later became a critic of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, was killed after being lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, and his body was dismembered by a Saudi hit squad.
The Saudi government initially claimed Khashoggi left the consulate on that day, but Riyadh later said that, after a thorough investigation into the case, it had reached the conclusion that he had been killed by a “rogue” group and not by direct order from the crown prince, who is seen as the de facto ruler of the Arab kingdom.
[Neighbour attack] Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015.

Flashback - Al-Jubeir: Iran & Assad
are biggest sponsors of terrorism
Al-Monitor, 5-10-2015

Regarding the dialogue between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said, “The issue is linked to Iran’s actions, not words,” referring to the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] countries that have been facing, since the Iranian revolution, the hostile policies of Iran that “interferes in the region’s affairs in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
It is trying to smuggle explosives to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, while seeking to build cells inside Arab countries with the goal of destruction.”
He added that Iran “is the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the world, and it is working on destabilizing the region. If it wants to build good relations with its neighbors, it ought to deal with them based on the good neighborliness principle and not to interfere in their affairs. We [would] welcome such a step.”
Jubeir called on Iran to specify whether it is a “state or a revolution,” and if it wants to export its revolution and revive the Persian Empire — as described by prominent Iranian officials — we cannot deal with it.”
Jubeir said that he is not expecting a change in the US-Iranian relations as “expected by some analysts in the region,” since the US (i.e. Israel) “still sees Iran as the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the world.”

Fearing ‘trap,’ Gantz almost certain
to reject White House invitation
The Times of Israel, 24 January 2020

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz has decided to reject an invitation from US President Donald Trump to visit Washington next week along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a meeting on the long-awaited Middle East peace plan, Israeli TV reported Friday night.
The plan is expected to strongly favor Israel, and is unlikely to garner any international support if it is seen as undermining the prospect of a two-state solution.
Trump said his administration has talked briefly to the Palestinians, who reject the administration’s peace plan before its release.

Gantz and Netanyahu were invited to the White House next Tuesday (jan 28), the day the Knesset is set to vote on establishing the committee that will weigh the premier’s request to be protected from corruption charges in three criminal cases.
Channel 12 said Gantz feared the invitation was a “trap,” specifying that he did not know what role he would have in the “performance” in Washington and that it wasn’t clear what his standing would be.
“In Blue and White, they fear it will be more political than diplomatic, and that Netanyahu is bringing Gantz to Washington, not to praise him, but to embarrass him, or diminish him,” the report said. “It’s a type of risk the party does not want to take.”

Blue and White was also reluctant to publicly cooperate with rival Netanyahu, the TV report added, as the party’s main campaign focus has been on the need to remove the prime minister from office.
Party leaders told Channel 12 that they could not “on the one hand work to remove Netanyahu’s immunity [from prosecution] and his legitimacy, but at the same time participate in this together with him, giving him the status of a leader heading these major diplomatic moves.”
Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman on Friday slammed the timing of the likely release of the plan.
“I have no doubt that the peace plan that the US president intends to present will include quite a few positive elements,” Liberman wrote on his Facebook page.
But “presenting the plan five weeks before elections, precisely on the day when the debate on the removal of the prime minister is decided, will prevent a substantive and in-depth discussion of a political initiative,” Liberman said. “The sky won’t fall if the deal of the century is delayed until March 3.
“This Tuesday, we must focus only on removing immunity and applying sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, as the prime minister has promised,” Liberman said....
Netanyahu has been charged with fraud and breach of trust in three cases, and bribery in one of them. He denies any wrongdoing, and claims, without evidence, that the charges are part of an attempted “political coup” against him involving the opposition, media, police and state prosecution.

Netanyahu, Gantz to meet with Trump
separately for political reasons (Times of Israel, 26-1-2020)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz will have separate meetings with US President Donald Trump at Gantz’s request, in order to avoid a political embarrassment.
“In coordination with the US administration I have accepted the personal, separate and respectful invitation of President Trump to meet with him personally, as head of the biggest political party in Israel, and I thank him for this important invitation,” Gantz said.

Hosting Macron, Abbas says he hopes
France will recognize Palestine
Adam Rasgon, Times of Israel, 23-1-2020

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met French President Emmanuel Macron in Ramallah late Wednesday evening and expressed his hope that France will recognize the State of Palestine, the official PA news site Wafa reported.
“We wish that the European states — that believe in the two-state solution — and France will recognize the State of Palestine along 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital,” Abbas told his French counterpart, according to Wafa.
While several EU countries have recognized Palestine, the majority of its members, including France, the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy, have not.
Abbas told Macron that he believes recognition of Palestine would be “a true path to saving the French- and European-backed two-state solution and would give hope to our people that achieving peace and stability is possible,” Wafa quoted him as saying.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently repeatedly vowed to apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and settlements in the West Bank.
The vast majority of the international community supports the two-state solution, but the US has resisted backing it in recent years.

Political scientist Shibley Telhami speaks about
the Palestinian cause and the state of the region
Ibrahim El-Sakhaway, Ahram online, 24 Jan 2020

- AO: How do you view Trump's decision regarding the transfer of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and considering the Golan to be Israeli territory? Do you expect such decisions to fuel the situation and the continuation of the conflict?

- ST:The Trump administration’s actions in recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, moving the embassy there, and later recognising Israel’s sovereignty over the Syrian Golan Heights, are troubling steps that are contrary to international norms and laws and detrimental to the pursuit of Middle East peace. I have written about this in the US extensively and specified the reasons why these steps are problematic.
Having said that, President Trump does not decide what is internationally legal or normal. So the facts don’t change regarding the international position that the Golan Heights, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem are occupied territories.
But the US is a superpower and its actions matter. In the short term, they embolden a right-wing Israeli government to avoid making concessions to the Palestinians.
But in the long term, this is not good for anyone, especially because the Trump administration has advanced the framing of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict along religious lines, which is troubling.
The only way to resolve the conflict is to see it as a political conflict and frame it in the context of international laws and rules.
Religion is important, and the religious rights of all must be respected, but if one starts defining the conflict in religious terms, about Jewish claims or Muslim claims or Christian claims, then we enter a zero-sum approach that creates nothing but confrontation ahead.

- AO: What about the future of the region and the Gulf after the killing of Qassem Soleimani? What are the limits of the Iranian response in response to the US?
- ST: The killing of Qassem Soleimani constituted an escalation that brought both the US and Iran closer to war, even though both sides had no interest in starting an all-out war.

But the issue for Gulf instability is bigger: there are two significant events that have framed the current instability in the region that will not go away anytime soon, even as the immediate crisis between the US and Iran over Soleimani’s killing proceeded.
The first and by far the most important is the 2003 Iraq war. This war altered the security of the Gulf region and the Middle East broadly in detrimental ways, and the region is still unstable and suffering from the war’s impact.
Even aside from the devastation of Iraq itself and the hundreds of thousands dead and wounded and the millions displaced, the war invited groups like Al-Qaeda to the region and helped create groups like ISIS.
Strategically, it ended the balance between Iraq and Iran, with Iraq not only being weakened but also coming under the influence of Iran.
And the US’s inability to bring about its aims despite investing so much in that war has led the American public to be reluctant to be engaged in new wars in the region.
This environment created huge insecurity for weaker Arab states in the Gulf whose security foundation was shaken and who were not accustomed to taking on the burden of their own security directly.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the devastating Yemen war is an indirect result of the Iraq War. There is no end in sight to the structural instability that came out of the 2003 Iraq war.

But the second most important event, whose impact we are experiencing at the moment, is the Trump administration’s maximum pressure strategy toward Iran, which has imposed choking sanctions that Iranians simply cannot tolerate.
Of course, the Trump administration pulled out of the 2015 international nuclear agreement with Iran, an act that was problematic, but Iran would have tolerated that move as long as the rest of the international community could abide by that agreement. That was the initial reaction.
But with the imposition of sanctions that included Iranian oil exports, it became clear that even Europe could not protect its trade with Iran in light of the American sanctions.
As a consequence, Iran’s incentive to constantly try to make the status quo uncomfortable for the US, its allies, and the oil markets has been great....
While the immediate crisis of Soleimani’s killing is behind us, we are still in a highly unstable environment.

- AO: Since Samuel Huntington released his famous book, The Clash of Civilizations, the world has been busy with the term and responding to it in the dialogue of civilisations and cultures. Is this hypothesis feasible amid the conflicts and wars that currently taking place in the world?
- ST: The thesis is not only wrong; it’s dangerous as a school of thought.
Western countries are divided among themselves, Muslim-majority countries are divided among themselves, Asian countries are divided.
In fact, many countries are more internally divided than they are divided with the rest of the world.
As I have shown in my public opinion research, for example, Americans are now more divided internally along party lines to a degree that is greater than the divide between America and the rest of the world, including Arab countries.

Acting as gods
Americans abolish UN and international security system
Pravda [Russsia], 22-1-2020

"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

Having killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, the United States has canceled all international laws and treaties, all personal rights of any person and entire nations. The existence of the United Nations Organization does not make any sense.
It makes no sense to conclude and abide by treaties, at least with the Americans. The Americans act as if they are gods.
Inna Novikova, Pravda.Ru editor-in-chief, talked about it in an interview with Vyacheslav Polosin, doctor of philosophical sciences, candidate of political sciences, political scientist and Daria Mitina, secretary of the United Communist Party of Russia.

Daria Mitina: It would be wrong to believe that it is Trump and the Republican administration, who are to blame for the crisis.
The matter is not about either specific individuals or political forces. Let's see what and how was happening in the United States during the past 20 years.Both Democratic and Republican administrations behave equally.
For example, the Clinton administration wiped out a European state in the heart of Europe - Yugoslavia, they eliminated Milosevic, and many leaders of the Serbian national movement.
The Bush administration destroyed Saddam Hussein and ripped Iraq into pieces. In fact, the Americans appropriated, usurped the right of a higher international tribunal over entire nations.
Barack Obama was not warm and fuzzy either. Suffice it to recall the role of the United States in inciting inter-ethnic strife to set one ethnic group against another, to orchestrate the Arab Spring in many countries. We all know how it all ended - look at Libya.
In the United States, the elite stays united. They maintain an ideological unity of the two warring parties in America.

One can clearly see the aftermath of the bloody crimes of imperialism - this may be an obsolete term, but it is a very true one - but we can see that history repeats itself in Iran now. The Iranian general, an influential politician of a foreign state, was sacrificed to instantaneous interests.
It's not without reason that meticulous people found Trump's tweets from 2011, in which he was urging others not to let Barack Obama unleash World War III. He would call not to attack Iran for the sake of domestic political goals.
Trump tweeted that in 2011, when Obama was also trying to gain political points in foreign. As we all can now see, Trump is doing exactly the same thing.
Therefore, no matter how cynical it may seem, we see yet another confirmation to Carl von Clausewitz argument, (Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz was a Prussian general and military theorist who stressed the "moral" and political aspects of war), who said that war is a continuation of politics by other means."

- Mr. Polosin, do you agree?
- Vyacheslav Polosin: Unfortunately, all this is true, which is very sad. But you know, I would say that after the First World War there was an attempt made to create an international security system, the so-called international law.
The League of Nations was established for this purpose, but the attempt failed quickly, and after World War II, the UN was organized. This system had been functioning more or less efficiently for a long time. It did provide relative stability for years.
By killing Soleimani, Trump has completely abolished the international security system. Donald Trump has assumed the role of world master of destines.

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.

Maduro: Syria deserves peace
Caracas, SANA, 26-1-2020

President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro on Saturday received member of the Central Leadership of Al-Baath Arab Socialist Party Mohsen Bilal.
During the meeting, which was held on the sideline of the World Forum Against Imperialism, Maduro voiced appreciation for Syria and its people and for President Bashar al-Assad, voicing solidarity with them in the face of terrorism.
He said that the Syrian people, who have defeated terrorism with their leadership and army, deserve peace.
Meanwhile, Bilal asserted during a speech at the Forum that Syria supports Venezuela and its people in the face of imperialism, noting that Syria is at the forefront of confronting US occupation which seeks to steal its resources and drown it in chaos and darkness.
In addition, Bilal met Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, discussing the situation in Venezuela, with Bilal affirming Syria’s support for the Venezuelan leadership.

Flasback: Saudi Arabia is 'a democracy'
Nicolas Maduro is 'a dictator'
Melih Altınok, Daily Sabah (Turkey), 23-5-2018

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has been re-elected to lead the country until 2025. In the recent presidential elections, he received more than 69 percent of the votes. But the controversy around Maduro still continues in and outside Venezuela – mainly because of the U.S.' "close interests" in the country.
Since Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez adopted a more Bolivarianist and anti-imperialist discourse, and took some courageous steps like nationalizing Venezuela's monopolized energy companies, the country went through a number of coup attempts backed by the U.S.
The U.S. is again disturbed by the situation in Venezuela as Maduro has followed in Chavez's footsteps and insisted on the same policies. The country has set an example for the other countries in the region that are colonized by the U.S.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently condemned the Venezuelan election claiming it was rigged.
One of U.S.' major talking points was the low voter turnout in the election. Officials put the figure at 46 percent, which is actually very close to rates observed in many European countries. As for the U.S., only 55 percent of Americans cast ballots in the last presidential election.

We all know that the baseless accusations against Maduro and his administration are the product of U.S. efforts to justify its intervention in the country's internal affairs.
But this is the U.S. From the Far East to Latin America and Africa to Europe, everywhere is like its backyard. It is the one who sets the rules.
For instance, if you are a client like Saudi Arabia, which purchases weapons worth billions of dollars annually and prefers dollars over its national currency, even the monarchy would be regarded as a democracy by the U.S. and Uncle Sam would abruptly turn a king into an elected and esteemed politician...

Putin Vows to Rein in Capitalism
and Shore Up Sovereignty
Mike Whitney, UNZ Review, January 24, 2020

“I am convinced that it is high time for a serious and direct discussion about the basic principles of a stable world order and the most acute problems that humanity is facing. It is necessary to show political will, wisdom and courage.
The time demands an awareness of our shared responsibility and real actions.”

This is a theme that Vladimir Putin has reiterated many times since his groundbreaking speech at Munich in 2007 where he said:

“We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming increasingly closer to one state’s legal system.
One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way.
This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational policies it imposes on other nations. Well, who likes this? Who is happy about this?….” (“Wars not diminishing’: Putin’s iconic 2007 Munich speech, you tube)

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman draw parallel
between Trump and the messiah
Jonathan Vankin, Inquisitr, 25-1-2020

In the same secretly recorded dinner conversation in which Donald Trump tells an aide to “take out” United States Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman can be heard telling Trump that according to Jewish mystical numerology, he is the messiah, who has come to “save the whole world.”
The recording — actually a cell phone video which may be viewed below on this page — was released on Saturday by Joseph A. Bondy, the attorney representing Parnas. Parnas and Fruman are the now-indicted associates of Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Both were deeply involved in the effort to pressure the Ukrainian government to announce a bogus investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden. According to a New York Times report, the dinner was attended by donors to the Trump-supporting Super Pac, America First Action.
Parnas and Fruman pledged $1 million to America First Action, gaining them access to the dinner — though it is illegal for candidates to coordinate directly with Super Pacs.
According to the federal indictment against them, the two Florida-based businessmen who were both born in Ukraine ultimately donated $325,000 to the pro-Trump Super Pac, in money illegally funneled from a still-unidentified Russian businessman.

In the video Parnas presents Trump with some sort of a gift from “the head rabbi of Ukraine.” [Chief Rabbi Moshe Azman].
The gift, according to Parnas, shows that according to Jewish numerology, Trump’s name is the equivalent of the numbers 424, which is the same total as the words, “Messiah, the son of David.”
Known as gematria, the Jewish numerological system, while not part of mainstream Judaism, is central to the mystical system of belief known as Kabbalah, according to the Judaic educational site My Jewish Learning.
In the system, each letter of the Hebrew alphabet corresponds to a number. Gematria is used by Kabbalistic scholars to interpret the Torah, Judaism’s most sacred religious text.
In the video, Fruman — who made the recording on his cell phone — tells Trump that the numerological significance of his name is “like miracle,” and Parnas tells him that “the messiah is the person that’s come to save the whole world.”
But Trump appears baffled by their explanation, asking, “What other numbers you got?”
Parnas tells Trump to ask his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, about the numerological gift. “He’ll explain it to you,” Parnas says.
Trump, however, appears uninterested in the gift and quickly changes the subject to boast about how he supposedly built a new United States embassy in Jerusalem, Israel, for only $150,000.
In fact, according to a CNN report, in June 2018 — just two months after the secretly recorded dinner — the State Department awarded a $21.2 million contract to a Maryland firm, for upgrades to the building in Jerusalem.

Is Mohammad Bin Salman a Zionist?
Motasem A Dalloul, Middle East Monitor, 27-1-2020

Last week, a prominent Saudi Sheikh, Mohammed Al-Issa, visited the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland to commemorate the 75th anniversary of its liberation...

"We are working to forge unity among Muslims... The problems being faced in today’s world emanate from a lack of open dialogue and petty rivalries between sects and denominations. We have to leave differences and work together... (Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Alissa, 16-12-2018)
Visiting Auschwitz is not a problem for a Muslim; Islam orders Muslims to reject unjustified killing of any human being, no matter what their faith is.
Al-Issa is a senior ally of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), who apparently cares little for the sanctity of human life, though, and the visit to Auschwitz has very definite political connotations beyond any Islamic context.
By sending Al-Issa to the camp, Bin Salman wanted to show his support for Israel, which exploits the Holocaust for geopolitical colonial purposes.
Al-Isaa, head of the Makkah-based Muslim World League, is leading rapprochement efforts with Evangelical Christians who are, in the US at least, firm Zionists in their backing for the state of Israel. Al-Issa has called for a Muslim-Christian-Jewish interfaith delegation to travel to Jerusalem in what would, in effect, be a Zionist troika.

Zionism is not a religion, and there are many non-Jewish Zionists who desire or support the establishment of a Jewish state in occupied Palestine. The definition of Zionism does not mention the religion of its supporters.. We should not be shocked, therefore, to see a Zionist Muslim leader in these trying times.

As the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Bin Salman has imprisoned dozens of Palestinians, including representatives of Hamas. In doing so he is serving Israel’s interests. Moreover, he has blamed the Palestinians for not making peace with the occupation state.
Bin Salman “excoriated the Palestinians for missing key opportunities,” wrote Danial Benjamin in Moment magazine. He pointed out that the prince’s father, King Salman, has played the role of counterweight by saying that Saudi Arabia “permanently stands by Palestine and its people’s right to an independent state with occupied East Jerusalem as its capital.”
Bin Salman’s Zionism is also very clear in his bold support for US President Donald Trump’s deal of the century, which achieves Zionist goals in Palestine at the expense of Palestinian rights.
He participated in the Bahrain conference, the forum where the economic side of the US deal was announced, where he gave “cover to several other Arab countries to attend the event and infuriated the Palestinians.” [..]
The founder of Friends of Zion Museum, American Evangelical Christian Mike Evans, said, after visiting a number of the Gulf States, that, “The leaders [there] are more pro-Israel than a lot of Jews.”
This was a specific reference to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, and his counterpart in the UAE, Mohammed Bin Zayed.

Mahmoud Abbas Rejects Trump's Offer
to Discuss 'Deal of the Century' Peace Plan
by Tim Korso, Sputnik News, 27-1-2020

The head of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), Mahmoud Abbas, has turned down an offer from US President Donald Trump to discuss his "deal of the century" peace plan, AFP reported, citing anonymous Palestinian officials. The sources say that the Trump administration has made several attempts to reach Abbas in recent months, including via third-parties, but to no avail.
According to one of the news agency's sources, the PNA leader is not planning to discuss any plan until a two state-solution envisaging the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel is recognised by the US. This goes in line with earlier PNA fears that Trump's deal seeks to bury its dreams of establishing a Palestinian state.
The release of Trump's peace plan, dubbed the "deal of the century", has been postponed on several occasions, with the president’s adviser, Kushner, revealing only the economic portion of it in June 2019.
The deal has already been denounced by two major negotiating parties, the PNA and Hamas, who stated that the US is not fit to be a mediator after it allegedly showed bias towards Israel with its decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.

Christian Evangelicals say
Trump’s plan is divinely inspired.
Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman, Jerusalem Post, 27-1-2020

The long-anticipated “Deal of the Century” peace plan is the manifestation and affirmation of the Bible for Evangelical Christians.
“The Bible talks about the land that the Jewish people are living on, the land which the Jew haters call ‘settlements’ and ‘illegal,’” Dr. Mike Evans, founder of Friends of Zion Museum and a member of the Trump Faith Initiative said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.
“What the president is saying is that America does not believe the Bible is illegal,” he said.
“Our base will be weeping” with joy at the plan’s formal reveal about the prominence of the Bible, he said. Evans revealed that in private briefings both with the president’s peace team and the president himself, he learned that, “the plan does not take away the major biblical sites, and this is everything we were hoping for – everything.”
Israel just got kissed by God,” Evans continued. “I am not referring to Donald Trump as God, but I am saying he has Divine inspiration.”

Trump’s understanding of the need to support the Jewish state intensified in 2003, when he contacted Evangelist Paula White-Cain, senior pastor of the New Destiny Christian Center in Orlando, Florida, after watching her television show.
They became quick friends and White-Cain introduced Trump to several other Evangelicals. Since then, she has served as his personal pastor – and these other Evangelicals, including Evans, have been influencing the president.
Most recently, Trump named White-Cain as an adviser to the Faith and Opportunity Initiative in the Office of Public Liaison, the part of the White House responsible for overseeing outreach to groups and coalitions organizing key parts of the president’s base.
“There are 25 of us Evangelical leaders that came on board during the primaries, and no matter what secular media threw at the president, we stood with him,” Evans told the Post.

THE SO CALLED “Deal of the Century” is the next step in a plan Trump has been slowly unveiling all along...
Each of the moves has been, in Evans’ view, pragmatically motivated by a simple understanding of Genesis 12:3 – “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.”
According to Evans, “the president can begin implementing this plan without the Palestinians supporting it, because all the cash cows that the Palestinians need are on board, minus Qatar.”
Evans himself travels to these regions regularly and told the Post that the leaders of these countries have “tremendous compliments for Israel” and feel that “the Palestinians have wasted our money.”

For the first time in American history, there is an Evangelical Christian secretary of state and vice president and a president that loves the Evangelicals. “I think the combination of this beautiful dream team has given Israel the opportunity of a lifetime..."

Trump plan takes Israeli settlements off the table
Thirty percent of the West Bank will be annexed to Israel
and recognized by the US as Israeli territory.
David Rosenberg, Arutz Sheva, 28/01/2020

The Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan, better known as the “Deal of the Century”, was written off as dead on arrival, even in the early stages of its planning, after President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel...
Once the plan was released Tuesday, and it became clear the plan would not only permit Israel to retain all of its towns in Judea and Samaria, but even to annex them in the near future, the spate of protests simmering throughout Palestinian Authority towns much of the day exploded into riots, reflecting the PA’s rejection of the Trump plan.
With Israel retaining roughly 30% of Judea and Samaria and gaining US recognition for its annexation immediately, before any deal is signed with the Palestinian Authority, some have interpreted the Trump plan as a symbolic gesture, one intended to grant Israel its long-desired goal of establishing its eastern border, while making an offer to the PA the Trump administration knows in advance Ramallah will reject.

What Israel Gets:
Israel will retain security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River, and the Palestinian state proposed by Trump will be demilitarized – reflecting a long-time Israeli demand.
In addition, the Palestinian Authority must disarm Hamas and completely demilitarize the Gaza Strip – another Israeli demand, and one which is not easily achieved.
Furthermore, the plan requires the PA to end its anti-Israel incitement, as well as its funding of jailed terrorists and the families of terrorists killed during attacks on Israelis.
And with the plan, the US rejects the idea of a Palestinian “right of return” to pre-1967 Israel.
But perhaps most significantly, Israel not only gets to retain all of its towns in Judea and Samaria and annex them, it can do so without actually reaching a deal with the Palestinian Authority.
Some thirty-percent of the land in Judea and Samaria would become part of the State of Israel, compared to less than ten percent in previous US proposals.

What the Palestinians get
Less publicized are the plan’s requirement that Israel surrender land to a future Palestinian state, if established, in amounts equal to the land it gained through annexation in Judea and Samaria.
The land swaps in the new peace plan would include large Palestinian enclaves in the Negev for industrial zones, farms, and even residential areas. The plan also suggests Israel hand over the Wadi Ara Triangle, a predominantly Arab area in central Israel.
If a final status agreement is reached, Israel will also grant a Palestinian state the right to build a tunnel from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank
Perhaps the most contentious issue, the future of Jerusalem, was, surprisingly, not clearly addressed in President Trump’s speech Tuesday, even as he discussed its future.
Seemingly contradicting himself, Trump vowed that the Jerusalem would remain undivided as Israel’s capital – yet in the same address, said a future Palestinian state would have its capital in Jerusalem.
The sovereign capital of the State of Palestine should be in the section of East Jerusalem located in all areas east and north of the existing security barrier, including Kafr Aqab, the eastern part of Shuafat and Abu Dis, and could be named Al Quds or another name as determined by the State of Palestine.

If accepted, the plan offers the cash-strapped PA a massive economic growth package totaling some $50 billion dollars spread over 10 years.
If the Palestinian Authority rejects the deal, which it is widely expected to do, it will have a grace period of four years to change its mind.
During that time, Israel will be barred from establishing new towns outside of the areas to be annexed, or expanding existing towns outside of the area designated for Israel.
But, unlike previous proposals, the Trump plan gives Israel the green-light to annex in Judea and Samaria before a peace deal is reached, and not contingent on an agreement being signed. Thirty percent of Judea and Samaria will be annexed to Israel and recognized by the US as Israeli territory.

Syrian Army Approaches Gate
of Key City in Idlib Province
FARS News Agency [Iran], 26-1-2020

The Syrian Army continued its military operations against the terrorists in Idlib and after taking full control over several regions it approached the Eastern gate of the strategic city of Ma’arat al-Nauman in the province.

The town was the focus of intense protests against the government of President Bashar al-Assad on 2 June 2011. On 25 October 2011, clashes occurred between loyalists and defected soldiers at a roadblock on the edge of the town. The defectors launched an assault on the government held roadblock. The Free Syrian Army captured the town in October 2012 after the Battle of Maarrat al-Nu'man. In 2016, the town came under the control of HTS. The Turkey backed 'Syrian Liberation Front' took the town from HTS on 21 February 2018. (Wikipedia info)

The government troops purged terrorists from the towns of Ma’arat Shomarin, Taqaneh, Talmanes and Ma’ar Shemsheh in Southeastern Idlib after inflicting heavy losses on the terrorists.
The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper also quoted a military source in Southeastern Idlib as saying that the Syrian Army troops reached the gate of Ma’arat al-Nauman, the second biggest Idlib city situated along the International Aleppo-Hama Highway.
Ma’arat al-Nauman was also one of the most important bastions of the Ankara-backed terrorists.
The daily also pointed to cleaning-up operations carried out in Tal Khatareh, Tal Mastif and Abu Jarif towns and cutting Soq al-Qanam road from Eastern Idlib to Ma’arat al-Nauman, and said that the army troops are very close to laying full siege on the regions from different directions.

On Saturday (jan 25), the Syrian Foreign Ministry wrote a letter to the UN, and said that the operation in Idlib and Aleppo against Takfiri elements “will not stop until the elimination of those terrorists, who threaten safety and security of Syrian civilians”.
The Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria has repeatedly called on militants to stop fighting and peacefully engage in conflict resolution.

Syria: Army Liberates Maarat al-Numan
Moon of Alabama, 28-1-2020

Today the Syrian Arab Army liberated the city Maarat al-Numan in south-east Idleb.
Before the war on Syria the city had some 60,000 inhabitants. This followed after several week of steady progress during which two dozens villages were taken from the Jihadis who currently rule the Idleb area. Coming from the east the Syrian army crossed the M5 highway north and south of the city in a pincer movement. The Jihadis who had held the city fled westwards towards Kafranabel and Al Barah on the only roads left to move out.
The city itself was taken without a fight. There is significant damage within the city from the bombing campaign that preceded the attack.
The move cuts off a Turkish observation point south of Maarat al Nunman. It is the third such point that is now surrounded by Syrian government forces.
Earlier today a convoy of some 30 Turkish vehicles had entered Idleb governorate from Turkey. It is expected to erect a new observation point near Saraqib where the M4 and M5 highway come together. Saraqib will be the next target for the Syrian army campaign.
This advance comes while the Turkish government is hiring Idleb Jihadis to send them to Libya as mercenaries on the side of the so called Government of National Accord in Tripoli.
At least 2,000 have already been deployed there and the total number is expected to reach at least 6,000. This is a significant reduction of the forces the Syrian army will have to confront as it proceeds with its campaign to regain Idleb governorate.

Meanwhile the banking crisis in Lebanon has hit the Syrian economy very hard. The Syrian pound further devalued over the past month and imports have become nearly unaffordable.
The economic trouble makes it necessary for Syria to find an understanding with its neighbor Turkey.
Turkey has supported the Jihadist rebel in Syria since its very beginning and it occupies several areas in north Syria. Russia has been pressing the two countries to find an agreement and to end the war...
Aware of the fact that the Syrian crisis cannot be settled without mending bridges, Russia is pushing for restoration of ties on the basis of the 1998 Adana accord, which envisages enhanced security cooperation against terrorist organizations.

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