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.”
(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)
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)
Eva Illouz, 53, was born in Morocco and grew up in Sarcelles, near Paris. She is a professor of sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She researches the relationship between emotions, economy and communication and has written several books including "Why Love Hurts:
Illouz: Where you see human beings, Israelis see enemies. In front of enemies, you close ranks, you unite in fear for your life, and you do not ponder about the fragility of the other. It is difficult to have compassion for a population seen as as threatening the heart of your society.
Israel has a split, schizophrenic self-awareness: It cultivates its strength and yet cannot stop seeing itself as weak and threatened.
Illouz: I think Israelis have lost what we can call a "humanitarian sensibility," the capacity to identify with the suffering of a distant other. In Israel, there has been a change in perception of the "Palestinian other." The Palestinian has become a true enemy in the perception of Israelis, in the sense that "they are there" and "we are here." They ceased having a face and even a name.
Illouz: Israel is a colonial military power, a militarized society and a democracy all folded into one. The army, for example, controls the Palestinians through a wide network of colonial tools, such as checkpoints, military courts (governed by a legal system different from the Israeli system), the arbitrary granting of work permits, house demolitions and economic sanctions.
It is a militarized civil society because almost every family has a father, son or brother in the army and because the military plays an enormous role in the ordinary mentality of ordinary Israelis and is crucial in both political decisions and in the public sphere.
Illouz: The nature of Israeli leadership has changed. The messianic right has progressively gained power in Israel. It used to be marginal and illegitimate; it is now increasingly mainstream. This radical right sits in Parliament, controls budgets and has changed the nature of discourse. Many Israelis do not understand the radical nature of the right in Israel. It successfully disguises itself as "patriotic" or "Jewish."
Illouz: Entire generations have been raised with the territories, with Israel being a colonial power. They do not know anything else. You have the settlements which are highly ideological. They expanded and entered Israeli mainstream political life. Settlements were strengthened by systematic government policies... There are entire segments of the population that have never met a secular person and have been educated religiously...
The reality we are faced with in Israel is that we must choose between liberalism and Jewishness, and if we choose Jewishness, we are condemned to become a religious Sparta which will not be sustainable.
Illouz: Israel started as a modern nation. It derived its legitimacy from the fact that it had democratic institutions. But it was also building highly anti-modern institutions in wanting to create a Jewish democracy by giving power to rabbis, in creating deep ethnic inequalities between different ethnic groups such Jews of Arab countries vs. Jews of European descent; Arabs vs. Jews; Jews vs. non-Jews. It thus blocked universalist thinking... We are at the point where it has become clear that Jewishness has hijacked democracy and its contents.
Illouz: The right-left divide is no longer important. There is something more urgent right now: the defense of democracy. The voice of the extreme right is much louder and clearer than it was before. That's what's new: a racist right that is not ashamed of itself, that persecutes dissenters and even people who dare express compassion for the other side. The real danger to Israel and its sustainability comes from within.
Illouz: We don't know how it feels to live in a peaceful society, devoted exclusively to culture, education and improving the living conditions of everyone. People don't make a connection between the bad living conditions they have and the amount of resources invested in the settlements and in the army. In psychology, they call it dissociation. Israeli society has become very insensitive. Not only to the suffering of others, but also to its own suffering.
"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)
Venezuelan government officials sent 9 tons of gold, equal to approximately $500 million, to Tehran on jets, sources close to the matter told Bloomberg.
This staggering amount was taken from Venezuela's gold vaults and given to the Islamic Republic to pay for Iran's help in revitalising Venezuela's debilitated gasoline refineries Bloomberg reported Thursday. The relationship between Iran and Venezuela is no secret, with the Venezuelan foreign ministry saying that President Nicolas Maduro and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani agreed to step up cooperation in an April 13 phone call.
Both Iran and Venezuela are the targets of US sanctions, and with oil prices slumping since the beginning of the year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the two countries have turned to each other to withstand the crippling effects.
It appears the exchange of gold for help in Venezuela's oil sector is a mutually beneficial arrangement - providing Iran with revenue and ensuring Venezuela does not run out of gasoline.
Iran's first private airliner Mahan Air, which is under sanctions by the US and some European countries, has flown more than half a dozen times to Venezuala in the past week, Bloomberg reported. The jets reportedly delivered gasoline additives, parts and technicians to help repair the country's refineries on its northwestern coast.
The United States denounced on Thursday what it saw as growing cooperation between its two adversaries. Elliott Abrams, the envoy who leads US efforts to topple Venezuela's leftist leader Nicolas Maduro, said that Iran has been sending "more and more planes" to the South American nation, including this week.
"Our guess is that they are being paid in gold," he said at the Hudson Institute, a conservative Washington think tank. Abrams charged that Iran's role showed soft support for Maduro from Russia and China, which have stood by him despite Western pressure.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday also highlighted the two US adversaries' cooperation... "These flights must stop and countries should do their part to deny overflights..." Pompeo told reporters.
Maduro has withstood more than a year of US-led efforts to remove him and retains the support of the military.
In a special interview given to Al Marsad, Aguila Saleh Issa, Speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives (HOR), denied any differences between him and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar in particular, and the General Command in general.
- Al Marsad: Chancellor Aguila Saleh, what is the truth behind rumours and reports on disagreements and problems and possible estrangement between you and Field Marshal Haftar?
- Chancellor Aguila Saleh: This is ridiculous. My relationship with Field Marshal Haftar exceeds any formal positions. There is a difference between disagreement and difference of views. The latter is a natural and healthy phenomenon in all countries of the world
- Your initiative is for forming a government, while Field Marshal Hiftar’s proposal is something entirely different!
- In fact, what was put forward cascades down to one result, namely the removal of this miserable and unelected Presidential Council, but the mechanism and presentation differ. For years, the victim of this unconstitutional Council is not only the Libyan people but the armed forces as well.
- The US Embassy quoted you on Friday during a conversation with the US Ambassador in a manner that has allowed it to be exploited negatively politically. How do you respond to that?
- I spoke with the US Ambassador about the truce that the General Command agreed to on the occasion of Ramadan but Fayez Sarraj, goaded by Turkish orders, later rejected. The conversation also dealt with the need for maintaining the political track and commitment with the international community.
I said that we respect all the initiatives and proposals of the international community, provided that they respect the will and opinion of Libyan people and that the evacuation of the Turks from our country is an unquestionable requirement in every forum, talk, or international meeting...
- Does this mean that the fighting will not stop?
- It is necessary to talk about the need for removing its causes radically... The reasons for the fighting in the first place are the uncontrolled weapons and the militias...
The militias have always been fighting, blackmailing, and hijacking governments for money, but I want to focus on something else, which is the unfair distribution of resources and wealth among Libyans. I mean all ordinary Libyans, whether in the east, west, or south.
The citizen, everywhere, does not enjoy his wealth and does not obtain it equally while the armed gangs controlling Tripoli and gangs of another type controlling financial and economic institutions, such as the Central Bank of Libya, benefit from it.
Add to these the “lobbies” of corrupt traders who monopolize trade and companies despite their outrageous corruption. These reasons must be ended to get out of this vicious circle. The question now is how to do it.
- How can that be done?
- We can accomplish this through our efforts and initiatives to remove the sponsor of all this chaos, that is the unconstitutional Presidential Council. There is no longer a so-called Presidential Council but rather an autocracy represented by Sarraj, as testified by the members of this disjointed Council itself, as well as its network of corrupt traders, militias, nepotistic circles, and multi-headed shell councils.
The armed forces have spared no effort to uproot those militias controlling Tripoli, and those behind it internally and externally. They are also teaching a lesson to the Syrian mercenaries and terrorists that the Turkish invader brought to the country. Therefore, I said before that my initiative is not different in essence from the proposal of Field Marshal Haftar, though the mechanism may differ.
- The Presidential Council, and its government, assert that they have international legitimacy... How do you respond?
- Even if it has some kind of international legitimacy, this does not deny the fact that it does not have a local legitimacy, because that is the basis.
The defect of usurping power and assuming false capacity is a crime that is not subject to the statute of limitations. Any ordinary citizen or a newly graduated lawyer can throw the head of this government and all its ministers in prison on this charge. I am here speaking as a judge and not as a Speaker....
- Why do you keep attacking the Turkish regime?
- Let me respond to your question with a couple of questions, and let us leave the answer to the reader: how should we view a regime that seeks to extract our country from its surroundings through an Ottoman tide in our region, which is no less dangerous than the Persian tide in other countries—and works hard to impose its Muslim Brotherhood ideology, revive ethnic strife in our society, enslave and captivate us, and plunder our capabilities to save its economy or make us the bank of the Muslim Brotherhood? Should we thank Turkey, which vows legitimacy and peaceful rotation of power, for its support for an unelected authority usurping power?
Should we thank Turkey for sending us Syrian militias and terrorist organizations and sponsoring all the terrorists fleeing our country? Should we thank Turkey for its armored vehicles and drones for which it charges millions of dollars a month?
In the mainstream view, the Syrian conflict began in the Spring of 2011 with a period of peaceful, pro-democracy protests, which were then brutally suppressed by the Assad regime.
Perhaps the best early expression of this view comes from prominent Syrian dissident Yassin al-Haj Saleh. Writing on April 10, 2011 in the New York Times, Saleh claims, “Although some argue that the demonstrations are religiously motivated, there is no indication that Islamists have played a major role in the recent protests, though many began in mosques. Believers praying in mosques are the only ‘gatherings’ the government cannot disperse, and religious texts are the only ‘opinions’ the government cannot suppress..."
When taking a closer look at events during the first months of the Syrian uprising, however, a very different picture emerges. Salafist activists and militants played a key role from the beginning of the uprising, while launching an armed insurrection against the Syrian state.
Syrian sociologist Muhammad Jamal Barout noted that the Salafist movement was prominent in “creating and pushing the events” of the Syrian uprising, and pointed to the important role played by supporters of Muhammad Surur Zayn al-Abidin, an exiled Salafist cleric who mixed the anti-Shia views of Ibn Taymiyya with the ideas of revolution and the sovereignty of God of Sayyid Qutb (Muslim Brotherhood). Salafist activists and militants viewed the 2011 uprising as a chance to reignite the 1979-1982 war against the Syrian government, which they viewed as a heretical, “Alawite-led regime,” in hopes of erecting a fundamentalist religious state in its place.
This desire of the Salafists to topple the Syrian government aligned with the goals of US intelligence. US planners sought regime change in Syria to weaken Iran, and in response to Syrian, Iranian and Hezbollah support for Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation.
With the help of regional allies Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, and the Future party in Lebanon, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) provided billions of dollars’ worth of weapons and equipment to Salafist militant groups.
This informal partnership between Salafist militants on the ground and foreign intelligence agencies ensured that the protest movement would become militarized, and that the ensuing Salafist-led insurgency would plunge Syria into one of the bloodiest wars of the last half century.
In most narratives of the Syrian uprising, the long history of the conflict between the Syrian government and the country’s Salafist community before the 2011 uprising is simply ignored.
Also ignored are the activities of the Salafists during the first weeks and months of the uprising. In these narratives. It is as if Syria’s Salafist community simply did not exist until many months after the uprising started, while armed Salafist militant groups came into existence seemingly out of thin air, and only in response to the alleged government crackdown on peaceful secular protestors. The Salafist segments of the opposition, which advocated sectarianism and violence, were present from the beginning, however, and ultimately proved to be much stronger than their peaceful counterparts, both secular and religious.
The conflict between Syrian government and the country’s Salafist community stretches back decades.
Writing in the pro-opposition al-Jumhuriya.net, Arwa Khalifa observes for example that, “The conflict between the Salafi movements in Syria and the political regime did not start with the  Syrian revolution. Rather, this conflict, which historically possessed its own mechanics and self-causes, was initially part of the battle of the al-Assad regime with the movements of political Islam and its military branches, such as the Fighting Vanguard,” the military wing of the Muslim Brotherhood which engaged in armed struggle against the Syrian government between 1979-82....
According to Syria expert Patrick Seale, the June 16, 1979 killing of 32 Alawite officer cadets at the Aleppo Artillery School marked the formal beginning of that war.
At the time, Syrian Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sa’id Hawwa advocated violence against Syria’s Alawites based on the religious rulings of Ibn Taymiyya, the 14th century religious scholar who urged the extermination of Alawites as heretics.
Membership in the Brotherhood was formally banned by the Syrian government, by penalty of death, on July 8, 1980.
Brotherhood militants detonated a series of car bombs in Damascus, between August and November 1981, including an explosion in the Azbakiya district that killed or wounded hundreds of civilians. The Syrian army defeated the Muslim Brotherhood-led insurrection in 1982, after the Brotherhood leadership tried but failed to ignite a nationwide revolt from the city of Hama.
The 2011 uprising gave Syria’s Salafists (the Muslim Brotherhood included) the chance to take revenge against the Alawite-led Syrian government that had long been oppressing them and to achieve “freedom” according to their own fundamentalist religious outlook...
This segment of the opposition used hate speech to incite members of Syria’s growing Salafi community to violence against the country’s minority religious groups as part of an effort to topple the government....
Salafist preachers based abroad (such as Muhammad Surur Zayn al-Abedin, Yusuf al-Qaradhawi, and Adnan Arour and others based within Syria agitated for armed insurrection and helped facilitate the flow of foreign fighters, weapons, and cash from the Gulf states to assist Salafist opposition fighters in Syria.
On April 25, 2011, one month after the first major anti-government protest in Daraa, Yusuf al-Qaradhawi, a prominent Muslim Brotherhood cleric based in Qatar, called for toppling the Syrian government, claiming that the “train of the revolution has reached its station in Syria.”
Qaradhawi, who has a significant following throughout the Arab world due to his religious program on the al-Jazeera satellite channel, attempted to incite his followers in Syria against the government on sectarian grounds during the same speech, claiming that “the people treat President Assad as if he is Sunni, he is educated, young, and can accomplish a lot, but his problem is that he is a prisoner of his entourage and of his [Alawite] sect.”
In December 2012, al-Qaradhawi claimed on al-Jazeera that it was necessary to fight anyone supporting the Syrian government, including not only combatants, but also civilians and religious leaders. Saudi-based Salafi cleric Adnan Arour also played a significant role in early events. Originally from Hama and a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Arour had a significant following in Syria, thanks to his own satellite television program, and was well known for his anti-Shia and anti-Alawi sectarianism.
As soon as demonstrations started in Daraa, Al-‘Ar’ur reoriented his media effort to support the uprising with the programme With Syria Until Victory…
Western journalists and academics sympathetic to the uprising attempted to obscure the sectarian orientation of these Salafi preachers and their supporters among the anti-government demonstrators...
In the Spring of 2011, Salafist elements of the opposition not only participated in protests alongside these more secular elements, but also formed armed militias and began attacking Syrian police, security forces, and soldiers within days of the first protests. Armed opposition militants also carried out an assassination campaign against Syrian army officers, alleged informants, and civilian government supporters.
According to Hassan Aboud, the leader of the Salafi militant group the “Islamic Movement of the Free Men of the Levant” (Ahrar al-Sham), the group’s underground cells participated in organizing the initial anti-government demonstrations in Syria, and also engaged in combat against Syrian security forces as early as May 2011.
Writing in Al-Monitor, Syrian journalist Abdullah Suleiman Ali also indicates that Ahrar al-Sham was active in the early months of the uprising.
Opposition activist and later McClatchy journalist Mousab al-Hamadee explained that “One of my friends who is now a rebel leader told me that the moment the group announced itself in 2011 it got a big bag of money sent directly from Ayman al Zawahiri, the leader of al Qaida.”
Exiled Salafi cleric Muhammad Surur Zayn al-Abedin provided the ideology guiding Ahrar al-Sham, while supporters of Surur constituted the local social base undergirding the militant group.Supporters of Sarour also constituted the militant wing of the protest movement in Daraa, which refused dialogue and negotiations with the government.
Supporters of Muhammad Surur were not alone in supporting Ahrar al-Sham and launching a war against the Syrian government under the cover of the anti-government protest movement. US, Qatari, Turkish, and Saudi intelligence played a crucial role in supporting the nascent Salafist insurgency.
In April 2011, former Bush Administration official John Hannah alluded to Saudi efforts to funnel Saudi fighters to Syria under the supervision of former Saudi Ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar bin Sultan.
Former Qatari foreign minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, acknowledged the early cooperation among the region’s intelligence agencies to stoke the insurgency in Syria, under US direction.
Al-Thani explained that, “When the issue in Syria first began, I went to Saudi Arabia and met with King Abdullah. Upon instructions of his Royal Highness, I addressed the situation. The Saudi King said, ‘We are with you.’ The Saudi King said, ‘You lead the Syrian file and we coordinate with you.’ We took responsibility and we have all evidences on this issue. And anything that went was going to Turkey and was coordinated with US forces. The distribution of military support was happening by way of American, Turkish, Qatari, and Saudi forces. They were all there, the military personal were there.” [..]
In 2014, US Senator John McCain expressed appreciation for Saudi efforts. McCain told the Munich Security Conference, “Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar, and for our Qatari friends,” after he and fellow US Senator Lindsey Graham had met with Bandar to encourage the Saudis to arm the “rebels” in Syria.
terrorism is an obligation
Did the Government Kill Protestors?
Certainly, the government did kill some peaceful protestors. However, while reporting from Syria in the summer of 2011, journalist Nir Rosen described how he had “been to about 100 demonstrations in Syria. In many of them I had to run for my life from live gunfire. I was terrified. The demonstrators who go out every day since March know they are risking their lives. It helps them to believe in paradise and martyrdom.” [..]
The Dutch priest Franz Van Der Lugt, who lived in Syria for nearly 50 years, wrote that, “From the start, the protest movements were not purely peaceful. From the start I saw armed demonstrators marching along in the protests, who began to shoot at the police first. Very often the violence of the security forces has been a reaction to the brutal violence of the armed rebels.”
Van der Lugt notes further that, “Moreover, from the start there has been the problem of the armed groups, which are also part of the opposition... The opposition of the street is much stronger than any other opposition. And this opposition is armed and frequently employs brutality and violence, only in order then to blame the government.."
Ibn Taymiyya Info
Salafist Islam has always been against philosophy and logic. The renowned Hanbali scholar and the fountainhead of all strands of Salafist Islam, Ibn Taymiyyah, said:
”Philosophical logic is like the flesh of a camel at the top of a mountain. It is not easy to climb the mountain, nor is the flesh good enough to justify climbing, nor is the path leading to it easy to follow.’’ He also said: ”There are no philosophers upon right guidance” He also said: ‘’Islam does not have philosophers’’ (Saddam's Death, page 43, 2014)
Ibn Taymiyyah was a literalist and a sharp critic of sufis and Muslim philosophers, accusing figures like Ghazali and Ibn Rushd of apostasy. He validated religious violence of the type being perpetrated by the likes of ISIL, Al-Qaeda, TTP, and Boko Haram.
Salafist Islam portrays what the Pope calls the culture of death.
At an existential level, they become so obsessed that the moment you differ from them nothing less than the whole person or system feels under threat and is ready to kill.
Ibn Taymiyya became known as a combative polemicist against everything that, in his eyes, affected the purity of Islam: Shi'i sects, Islamic rationalist theologians and peripatetic philosophers, Sufis of monistic tendency, the morally corrupting influence of the People of the Book, and exaggerated expressions of popular religiosity. (SD, page 62)
The militant organization Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant used a fatwa of Ibn Taymiyyah to justify the burning alive of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh.
Ibn Taymiyya's fatwa on Alawites as "more infidel than Christians and Jews" has been recited by Muslim Brotherhood affiliated scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi and the Syrian rebel Islamist leader of Jaysh al-Islam Zahran Alloush. (SD, page 79)
The UAE and Turkey last week exchanged accusations regarding Libya, with each party claiming that the other is a hostile, destabilizing force in the region.
Unfortunately, the region is bleeding from conflicts due to competition between different partners, while Israel tries to play on the differences to find allies, and radical movements like Daesh take advantage of the chaos created by conflicts to thrive.
The region is in a mess. It is difficult to get out of this quagmire as long as each party looks at conflict from a zero-sum perspective.
Our situation resembles the Europe of previous eras. Shattered by sectarian wars and rivalry for influence, the old continent was only able to prosper and achieve true peace when it realized that cooperation is better than competition. This is when the concept of the EU was born.
The Middle East needs a similar regional order to overcome its differences and to start constructive interstate relations. We should ask ourselves, if the money we have spent in the last 50 years on conflicts and weapons had been spent on development, where would we be standing now?
Though history does not repeat itself, human nature has some patterns that are likely to cross cultures and times. If we ask ourselves: What led to the Thirty Years’ War? What led to the First World War and the Second World War? The answer is greed and fear: Wanting to have more power and more influence, and being afraid of annihilation by the other. Ideologies that led to bloody conflicts were built on those two destructive human feelings.
Who is Netanyahu?
Father-Jabotinski-Irgun: "From the pit of decay and dust - With blood and sweat - Shall arise a race - Proud generous and cruel - Captured Betar, Yodefet, Masada - Shall arise again in all their strength and glory.."
"[Sarah Netanyahu] regards employees as “slaves”, preferring highly religious women from the ultra-Orthodox community, whom it suggests she believes to be harder working, as well as more introverted and compliant." (The Guardian, Claim against Sarah N., 27-10-2017)
Our current conflicts are governed by the same tendencies. To overcome them we need an overarching order, a regime, a system that transcends interstate differences and sets the rules of engagement... The starting point is to create a congress where Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia, the anchor powers in the region, can meet and streamline their differences.
Instead of exchanging accusations, each of these three regional powers should put on the table the perceived threats it is facing from the others. Once these differences are streamlined and an initial agreement is reached, other countries in the region will join. The order should organize economic as well political relations among members. Like the EU, it should have a parliament for political representation of the different member states and a commission that has more of a technical, sectoral function. All countries will be joined by a common market that can unleash huge economic potential for the region...
Such a structure can offer the necessary pressure, incentives and guarantees for Israel to abide by the two-state solution.
It would need to join the order in order to find friends in the region. And, by joining the order, Israel would have the necessary guarantee that it would not be attacked by any neighbor.
Therefore, Israeli politicians like Benjamin Netanyahu, who have built their narrative on fear and hate, will become a thing of the past.
Also, access to a huge market would provide the incentive for Israel to make the necessary concessions for the Palestinians.
This is a gargantuan task but it is worth initiating...
Dr. Dania Koleilat Khatib is a specialist in US-Arab relations and is an affiliated scholar with the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut.
Saudi Arabia's cabinet affirmed late on Tuesday that the Palestinian cause will remain a "central issue" for Arabs and Muslims, Saudi news agency said in a statement issued early on Wednesday.
The statement added the cabinet also reviewed the results of the emergency Arab League meeting which condemned the Israeli authorities plans to annex any Palestinian land.
The Arab foreign ministers meeting said Israel was taking advantage of the world’s preoccupation with the coronavirus pandemic to push ahead with its annexation plan.
The meeting's communique said it amounted to a “new war crime to be added to Israel’s rich track record of horrific crimes against the Palestinians".
It urged the US to withdraw its support for the annexation plan and abide by UN resolutions on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The meeting on Thursday was held at the request of the Palestinian Authority and conducted by video to observe rules of social distancing brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The Palestinians have threatened to annul peace agreements if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved ahead with his plan.
The UAE condemned Israel's plan to annex large areas of the occupied West Bank during the emergency Arab League session attended by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash.
The annexation plan "is a dangerous development that would undermine international efforts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict", the UAE said in a statement. Israel's action is "unacceptable, violates international law and impedes the peace process", it said.
The UAE warned of "dangerous repercussions" and said the move could "fuel" extremism, and terrorism in the region".
TRIPOLI – The Prime Minister of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez Al-Sarah, has surprisingly welcomed the international community’s call for a truce in the holy month of Ramadan.
This comes after GNA firmly refused the humanitarian truce which the Libyan National Army (LNA) agreed to.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Al-Sarraj said that he is calling on “all parties and political forces to assume their responsibilities to end the division, and to accelerate the resumption of political dialogue under the auspices of the United Nations in order to prepare for the next stage and agree on a comprehensive road map and political path that unites all Libyans”. The Tripoli-based premier expressed openness to “amending the political agreement and forming a presidential council composed of a president, two deputies, and a separate head of government, or by consensus on a constitutional path and general elections at the earliest opportunity”.
“This call comes at a time when state institutions are increasingly divided, and some people in these institutions are unilaterally controlling the country’s fateful decisions and bypass their role and competencies, which increased the economic and financial suffering of citizens, and was recently exacerbated by the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic”.
The Iraqi Parliament voted on Wednesday night to approve the government of Mustafa Al Kadhimi, ending weeks of political deadlock. More than 250 members attended the session in Baghdad and voted in 15 ministers while rejecting five...
"My Cabinet has earned Parliament’s support and we will work to earn the trust and support of the Iraqi people," Mr Al Kadhimi tweeted.
"I am grateful to those who worked with us to form the government." "I urge all political actors to come together around a national programme to serve Iraq's interests."
Mr Al Kadhimi's government pledges to fight corruption by promoting integration among institutions, to “provide them with the powers to implement necessary laws” and to start auditing financial records.
Mr Al Kadhimi's other priorities are allowing weapons only under the government’s control and returning people displaced by Iraq's conflicts to their homes.
He said his plan would be to end foreign interference and “not allow any country to violate Iraq’s national sovereignty”. The plan also aims to check the power of armed militias operating outside the state...
Several members of Parliament representing the oil-rich city of Basra boycotted the session.
The members said their city contributed to "95 per cent of government revenues" but they had no real Cabinet representation.
Some Kurdish politicians also boycotted the session. “It seems that he doesn’t understand Kurdish politics,” Sarkwat Shams, one of the Kurdish politicians who left the meeting, told The National.
By the decision of Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, former ambassador to Syria and Russia, Tasia Athanassiou, has been appointed Special Envoy of Greece’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Syria, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
This means that Greece is finally on the path of normalising relations with Syria that are long overdue.
Dendias also confirmed this gradual restoration in relations by saying on Twitter...
“The order will include contacts on the international aspects of Syria and related humanitarian action, as well as coordination of actions in view of the ongoing efforts to rebuild Syria,” according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Ministry also explained that Athanassiou was Greece’s ambassador to Damascus from 2009 to 2012, when she oversaw the suspension of our diplomatic mission there.
This is an extremely strategic move by the Foreign Ministry as they have placed in charge someone already familiar with Syria and their authorities, suggesting it is only a matter of time until the embassy in Damascus is restored.
Although the Foreign Ministry claims that the suspension of diplomatic relations “was dictated by the then security conditions,” we know it was ordered by the then-Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras under orders of NATO and the European Union who were, and in some instances are, backing jihadists against the secular government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Over 500,000 Antiochian Greek Orthodox Christians live in Syria and overwhelmingly support Assad.
Because previous governments were too subservient to foreign demands, Greece has been disconnected from their ethnic and religious kin in Syria, which can finally begin to change now.
Hafez al-Assad, previous president of Syria and father to Bashar, also made the pledge that if Turkey was ever to go to war with Greece that Syria would open a new front in southern Turkey in support of Greece. This is because in 1939 Turkey through phony elections with the backing of colonial power France stole Iskenderun province (now known as Hatay), from Syria.
To this day, Damascus still recognises Iskenderun as a part of Syria that is occupied.
The reopening of relations with Syria will once again tilt the balance of power in the East Mediterranean further in Greece’s favour as Turkey does not have a single ally in the region, except for the besieged Muslim Brotherhood government in Libya that is about to collapse under pressure from the Libyan National Army under the leadership of the Philhellene Field Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar.
Deputy Chairman for Oil in the Supreme Council of Libyan Sheikhs and Elders, Sheikh al-Senussi al-Heliq Al-Zawi, responded to the requests of the US Embassy in Libya to resume the operation of the oil fields.
In special statements to the Russian Sputnik News Agency on Thursday, Al-Heliq stated he would welcome the reopening of oil fields after meeting the demands of the Libyan people.
“The first demand is for the National Oil Corporation (NOC) to return to its headquarters in Benghazi and to change its Chair and members of the Board of Directors,” said Al-Heliq.
The second demand is for the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) to return to the eastern region, especially that Tripoli is not safe anymore, along with changing its board of directors.
The third demand, according to Al-Heliq, would be the withdrawal of the “invading” forces from Tripoli, as he put it.
He stressed that all stakeholders remain open to discussing the issue of negotiations to resolve the current crisis and that the sheikhs, notables, and tribes of Libya, in coordination with the General Command and the House of Representatives (HOR), are ready to discuss the reopening of the oil fields after the fulfilment of its demands.
According to Al-Heliq, the closure of the oil fields was to dry up the financing sources of the mercenaries and terrorist groups, especially as the oil sale proceeds went to terrorist groups and the weapons that killed the Libyan people.
Al-Heliq stressed the need to work on political consensus and the formation of a national unity government that all stakeholders can support, adding that the Skhirat Political Agreement caused all the disasters that Libya went through during the past years and that it has an external agenda to auction Libya and its people for the highest bidder from among other countries.
Once, living in Israel involved existential and economic danger, so it was not obligatory, but nowadays the mitzvah obligates every Jew.
The mitzvah of Yishuv Ha’Aretz (settling the Land of Israel) is a general mitzvah that obligates the entire nation of Israel to inherit the Land, namely, to apply sovereignty over it, and settle it best in all respects.
As it is written (Numbers 33: 53-54): ”You shall dispossess the inhabitants of the Land and dwell in it, for I have given the Land to you to possess it…to inherit the Land…” or as Ramban defined the mitzvah: “We were commanded to take possession of the Land which the Almighty, Blessed Be He, gave to our forefathers...
From the mitzvah of Clal Yisrael to settle the Land, stems the mitzvah obligating every individual Jew to live in the country, since it is impossible for Clal Yisrael to fulfill the mitzvah of Yishuv Ha’Aretz without each individual being fully compliant with the obligation of the mitzvah, till practically all Jews actually reside in the country.
In addition to the general mitzvah that the Land be under Israeli sovereignty and that practically all Jews live here, there is a mitzvah for every individual Jew to live in Eretz Yisrael.
Therefore, even when the entire Land is completely ruled and populated by millions of Jews, from the River of Egypt to the Euphrates, the mitzvah for every Jew to live in Israel still remains intact.
As our Sages of the Talmud said (Ketubot 110b): “At all times, a Jew should live in the Land of Israel, even in a city where the majority of its residents are idol worshipers, and not live outside of the Land, even in a city populated mainly by Jews, for anyone who lives in the Land of Israel is similar to one who possesses a God, while one who lives outside of the Land is similar to one who has no God.”
Today, when it is possible to live in the Land, it is an absolute obligation for every Jew to immigrate to Israel. The immigration should be well planned, and for that, it can be postponed for a few years, but beyond that, it is forbidden...
Eliezer Melamed (born 28 June 1961), is an Israeli Orthodox rabbi and the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Bracha.
Eliezer Melamed is the son of Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed, a student of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook. Melamed attended classes given by Kook from age fifteen to twenty, and, like his father, considers Kook to be his most significant rabbi. Melamed took part in the establishment of the radio station Arutz Sheva. His daily halakha broadcast gained high ratings, and taught Jewish law to thousands of households throughout Israel.
Har Bracha is a religious community which is located on Mount Gerizim in the Shomron (Samaria-region). The Har Bracha community started as an army outpost. In the year 1982 it was decided to turn it into a civilian community. In 1992 the Hesder Yeshiva of Har Bracha was established.
"There's one state in the land of Israel and that's the state of Israel" Hagai Ben Hartzi
The formation of an "annexation government" in Israel is no surprise. It has been a long time coming
Establishing direct Israeli control over most or all of what it calls "Judea and Samaria", ie, the illegally occupied Palestinian West Bank, has long been the wet dream of the Zionist right.
Everything the Zionist movement has ever done and everything the Palestinian national movement has failed to do, has led up to this moment.
After a century of unabated settlement expansion, half a century of military occupation and a quarter of a century of a dubious peace process, annexation marks a new stage in the evolution of Zionism.
The question is when, not if, Israel will formalise the reality of its expansion and what may be the implications for the Palestinians and peace in the region.
“What is to become of the Palestinians?”
“Oh,” Sharon said, “we’ll make a pastrami sandwich of them.”
I said, “What?”
He said, “Yes, we’ll insert a strip of Jewish settlement, in between the Palestinians, and then another strip of Jewish settlement, right across the West Bank, so that in twenty-five years time, neither the United Nations, nor the United States, nobody, will be able to tear it apart”.
Winston S. Churchill III (journalist) at the National Press Club, October 10, 2001, recalling his conversation with then-General (res.) Ariel Sharon in 1973
Benjamin (Benny) Gantz's u-turn from being Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu's chief political nemesis to his main governing partner was quite shocking to his partners in the Blue and White alliance.
After all, Gantz, the military chief cum opposition leader, ran three elections campaigns focused primarily on Netanyahu's unfitness to govern, calling on him to resign after his indictment on three charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, claiming that no prime minister who is on trial should be allowed to govern.
Interestingly, Netanyahu made the same claim back in 2008, when he called on Ehud Olmert to resign after his indictment on corruption. Olmert did resign and ended up in prison, and Netanyahu became prime minister for a second time.
Gantz, on the other hand, did not stand by his word. He succumbed to his opponent's political machinations, shifting from "anyone but Netanyahu" to "no one but Netanyahu" in a matter of weeks and ultimately serving the cunning incumbent a fifth term on a silver platter. Why?
The answer lies in what happened between January and April this year.
It all started with the invitation to go to Washington delivered personally by US Vice President Mike Pence which both Bibi and Benny wholeheartedly accepted.
Bibi, with the full support of the Trump family and administration, used the occasion to upstage his rival. By announcing their "deal of the century" at a White House ceremony with much fanfare, he and Trump boxed in Benny, politically and strategically.
Not only was the former general in no position to rebuff Trump's overtures, but he also had no reason to do so. He faced the leader of the most powerful country in the world, Israel's own patron saint and guardian angel, enthusiastically supporting a "Greater Israel" with full control over all of historic Palestine.
Remember, while on average two-thirds of the people surveyed in 32 countries disapproved of Trump in a Pew poll published in January, a head-turning 71 percent of Israelis have confidence in him.
The March elections confirmed the new US "Jewish state" consensus. Despite his indictment, Netanyahu renewed his majority among Israeli Jewish voters, leaving Gantz dependent on the support of Arab parliamentarians to form a government.
So Gantz baulked. Unlike Yitzhak Rabin, also a former general cum political leader, who depended on Palestinian support in the Knesset to pursue the Oslo Accords in 1993, Gantz demonstrated a lack of both conviction and courage to engage the Arab-majority Joint List.
The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic sealed the deal. Netanyahu swiftly imposed a national emergency and called on Gantz, the loyal soldier, to form an emergency government to lead the country through the crisis.
Gantz acquiesced, but his partners rejected the deal, accusing him of deceit. This led to the break-up of his Blue and White coalition, leaving the general relatively exposed.
In a country where quite a few generals have become politicians, Gantz may prove the most gullible of them all. He is now seen as Netanyahu's "bodyguard", a useful idiot, lending military credibility to the indicted prime minister's cynical political calculus.
He helped Netanyahu amend Israel's basic law in parliament and ensure his premiership is not contested in the future. [..]
The fact that the ever-shrinking centre-left Labour party is eager to join Netanyahu's "annexation government" is a testimony to the depth of this consensus.
Indeed, even the two major secular opposition parties - Yesh Atid and Yisrael Beiteinu, would have joined the "annexation government", if it were not for Netanyahu and his partnership with the religious parties. Israeli politicians may have differed on how to maintain Israel's control of Palestinian lands, de facto or through formal annexation, but not on the principle.
Needless to say, the annexation of the occupied Palestinian territories is illegal and illegitimate. The UN Security Council minus the US, which has veto power, and the UN General Assembly are also unanimously opposed to it. Even many of Israel's own friends on the left and more than a few on the right oppose it.
But since might is right in the Trump-Netanyahu era, powerful Israel will do whatever it wants and the international community can puff all it wants.
"I am seeing haughtiness and arrogance, together with more than a bit of the messianic thinking that rushes to turn the conflict into a holy war..." Shabtai Shavit
A prominent Yemeni human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate said she has been subjected to "widespread bullying" and a "smear campaign" by Saudi Arabian media after she was selected to be part of a new Facebook oversight board. Tawakkol Karman, 41, was among 20 people chosen by Facebook's new oversight committee to oversee sensitive content posted on the social media network - and where necessary, flag the material for it to be removed from the platform.
In an op-ed published in The New York Times, the committee's co-chairs said the aim of the body was to deliver verdicts on "the most challenging content issues for Facebook, including in areas such as hate speech, harassment, and protecting people's safety and privacy".
"It will make final and binding decisions on whether specific content should be allowed or removed from Facebook and Instagram," the opinion piece said.
Arabs boycott Facebook after Muslim Brotherhood
sympathizer Tawakkol Karman joins content board Arab News, May 12, 2020
Yemeni journalist and political activist Tawakkol Karman has complained of “widespread bullying and smear" after Facebook’s decision to induct her into its content Oversight Board plunged her into controversy.
To much of the globe, Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Khalid Karman is the first Arab woman — and the second Muslim woman — to win a Nobel (Peace) Prize, in 2011.
Less well known is the fact that Karman held a senior position with her country’s Al-Islah Party, an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood known regionally for its divisive and violent agenda.
Karman has severed ties to the Brotherhood’s Yemeni branch, an Islamist movement founded by Abdul Majeed Al-Zindani, a man who figures in Washington’s Specially Designated Global Terrorist list.
Unsurprisingly, Facebook’s choice has prompted outrage on social media networks, with many worried that it will bring the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideas right into the heart of the biggest social networking company in the world.
Tawakkol Karman was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 in recognition of her work in nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights. When asked about her Hijab By Journalists and how it is not proportionate with her level of intellect and education, she replied, “What I am today and what I’m wearing represents the highest level of thought and civilization that man has achieved..."
Tawakkul Karman receives Turkish ID card from Turkish FM Davutoğlu in Ankara. “For me, Turkish citizenship is more important than the Nobel,” Karman told Davutoğlu. Davutoğlu said Karman’s struggle for democracy amid the Arab Spring was notable. (hurriyetdailynews, 12-10-2012)
Yemeni Nobel Prize winner Tawakkol Karman said: "I mourn, for myself and all the free people of the world, the death of great striver in the path of freedom great president Mohamed Mursi .... President Mursi has gone and Sisi, one of the curses that befell Egypt, has remained." (dnaindia, 18-6-2019)
“She has not denounced the extremist ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Ghanem Nuseibeh, founder of risk consultancy Cornerstone Global Associates, told Arab News.
“Karman was considered a symbol of the Yemeni revolution against the rule of Yemen’s former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh, but over time she has become associated with intolerance, discrimination and lack of neutrality,” Hani Nasira, a terrorism and extremism expert, told Arab News.
Soon after Karman was awarded the Nobel Prize, she was invited to Doha and personally congratulated by Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader...
Karman’s abrasive personality became evident during the Arab Spring protests, which began with Tunisia’s “Jasmine Revolution” in 2011 before spreading out to other Arab countries including Yemen.
In recent years, Karman’s utterances have tended to hew closely to the party line of her two leading patrons, Qatar and Turkey, while being reflexively critical of the actions of Saudi Arabia.
“Saudi Arabia should be worried. All the Gulf countries should be scared, except for Qatar,” Karman can be heard saying in an undated video clip broadcast by Yemen TV.
MORGAN ORTAGUS (spokesperson for the United States Department of State): Today we want to shed some light on Russians’ – Russian malign engagement in the Middle East with a specific focus on Russian actions in Syria and in Libya.
We have all been witnesses to Russia cynically helping the deadly Assad regime stay in power, hanging on by a thread and refusing to budge on meaningful political dialogue with the Syrian opposition.
More recently, Russia has exploited instability in Libya to advance its own military, economic, and geopolitical interest in that country.
We have Deputy Assistant Secretary Christopher Robin from our Bureau of European and Eurasian affairs. He’ll speak first. He’ll be followed by Deputy Assistant Secretary Henry Wooster from our Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs who covers the Maghreb and Egypt portfolios. Last but not least, we have my favorite ambassador, of course, Jim Jeffrey, who’s our special representative for Syria..
MR ROBINSON: As I recently told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Russia has ramped up its unconstructive behavior in the Middle East since 2015, when Russia expanded its actions in Syria in support of the Assad regime.
More recently, Libya has become the next venue for Russia’s malign efforts to exploit regional conflicts for its own narrow political and economic gain....
In Libya, Russia continues its military support for the Libyan National Army of General Haftar. Russia has provided material and logistical support to the Wagner Group, a U.S.-sanctioned entity led by Putin crony Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is also sanctioned by the United States. Russia’s surge in support to the LNA has led to a significant escalation of the conflict and a worsening of the humanitarian situation in Libya...
More recently, Russia in coordination with the Assad regime has ferried Syrian fighters to Libya to participate in Wagner operations in support of the LNA.
Meanwhile, Russia for years has conducted a disinformation campaign to discredit international organizations working on these conflicts such as the United Nations and the OPCW...
Russia clearly signals it’s willing to take advantage of a global crisis in order to pursue its own destabilizing agenda without any regard for the human consequences. This administration is engaged in a range of actions to blunt Moscow’s efforts to exert malign influence in Libya and Syria...
MR WOOSTER: Moscow is seeking an enhanced presence in Libya to expand its influence across the Med and also onto the African continent.
And more specifically, Wagner support to Haftar’s LNA or, if you will, the Libyan National Army has escalated the conflict. It’s emboldened the LNA to continue its offensive which in turn is destabilizing, pushing the Government of National Accord – the government which the United States recognizes – it’s pushed them to seek increased Turkish support...
We, the United States, will continue to press Russia, Turkey, the UAE, among others to encourage LNA and the GNA to return to UN negotiations.
AMBASSADOR JEFFREY: For various reasons, U.S. and Turkish forces, as well as Israelis, have entered Syria for one or another security reason. This complicates both Russia and Assad’s situation. And Assad has done nothing to help the Russians sell this regime... There’s obviously growing Russian frustration with Assad because he will not bend. Compare the way the Iranians try to sell themselves with people like Zarif and Rouhani. You find Assad has nothing but thugs around him, and they don’t sell well either in the Arab world or in Europe....
In terms of getting Russia out of Syria, that has never been our goal. Russia has been there for 30 years. It has a long-term relationship with Syria. We don’t think it has been healthy for the region. We don’t think it really is even healthy for Russia. But that’s not our policy. Our policy right now is to restore the situation in 2011 before the conflict began, and that would eventually lead to all of the other military forces that have entered leaving. Ones were most interested in, of course, are the Iranians and the Iranian-commanded militias...
Russian ambassador: We will support
the legitimate government of Syria
Interview by Payman Yazdani & Zahra Mirzafarjouyan Mehr News, 16-5-2020
To shed more light on the ongoing developments in the region and some rumors circulating around, Mehr News Agency reached out to Levan Dzhagaryan, the Russian Federation ambassador to Tehran, and discussed the issues in a friendly atmosphere with him.
- Q: How do you assess the US regional policy in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf region? destructive. We have a conflicting system in Syria and we try to avoid any conflict with the US troops in Syria.
They have deployed their forces in the country. Once again, I would like to stress that their presence in Syria is illegal. Who has invited them to Syria? Nobody. We expect Americans to be realistic and pragmatic.
Their role is not only destructive in the Middle East but also all over the world. First of all, they imposed illegal sanctions on Iran and caused a lot of problems for Iranian people. These sanctions are not only illegal regarding Iran, they also include Russia, Venezuela, and some other countries. It’s a very unfair political game.
- How do you see the future of Syria politically?
- I would like to stress that we will continue our support for the political process in Syria. We will support the legitimate government of Syria. The future of the country belongs to the Syrian people. Only Syrian people are the decision-makers of their country.
Also, I would like to highly appreciate the joint efforts by Astana format member countries, Russia, Turkey, and Iran...
As you told, Iran, Russia, and Turkey are working very hard to solve the problems in Syria. But the US intervention is interrupting all these efforts.
- Nowadays, some media like the al-Monitor claim that Iran, Russia and, Turkey have agreed to remove President Assad from power. Why are these kinds of rumors being circulated?
- Of course, these kinds of rumors have been circulated by hostile countries that are against the successful activity of Astana format. These countries are against international law and want to remove a legitimate regime by force, not as a result of an election.
It is said that Mr. Putin is not satisfied with Syrian President Assad and considers him an ungrateful person. What’s your opinion about the sayings?
- Nobody from political officials has said it. Only official representatives of the Russian government, presidential administration, and the foreign minister of the Russian Federation can express the official political position of Russia.
Once again, I would like to say we have very good relations with Bashar al-Assad and his legitimate government and we will continue our cooperation.
- Turkish government from one side is working with the US and from the other side is working with Russia and Iran. It seems that Ankara is little by little succumbing to US pressure. How do you see Turkey’s role in the crisis of Syria?
- I would like to remind that Turkey is a member of NATO and is part of the military bloc. On the other hand, Turkey is an independent country and has an independent foreign policy. Turkish President Erdogan has several times proved that he is an independent political leader...
I don’t think Turkey will succumb to the pressure of the US. I would like to remind you that during the fight in Idlib at the beginning of March, Turkey and Russia managed to come to an agreement which was reached in Moscow in March on Idlib and both sides observed it.
- What’s the importance of Libya for Russia?
- Well, you remember that we managed to invite to Moscow Mr. al-Sarraj and Mr. Haftar when Turkish colleagues were in Moscow, We try to bridge the gaps between the two sides.
I don’t want to comment on Turkish policy in Libya. Maybe it is pursuing its national interests. Even among European Union countries, there is no unity. Libya was destroyed by the US allies in 2011 contrary to international law. They have created chaos and they have destroyed the Libyan government. Now they should be accountable for the issue....
Israel News - Netanyahu Appoints Likud Minister Gilad Erdan
as Israel's Ambassador to Both U.S. and UN DEBKAfile, May 12, 2020
Gilad Erdan, current public security minister known for anti-BDS campaign, will take over for both Ron Dermer and Danny Danon, as Netanyahu readies portfolio reshuffle in new government.
Gilead Erdan’s dual appointment as ambassador to the UN and the US plants a key loyalist in a forward position for deflecting diplomatic fallout if – and when – Netanyahu declares Israel sovereignty over parts of the West Bank.
A popular Likud figure, Gilad Erdan at 49, will take up his post in New York after approval by the new coalition government to be sworn in on Thursday, May 14 and the Washington embassy when Ron Dermer quits after the US presidential election... Erdan took a leading role in combating the BDS movement and is an experienced politician, having served as Minister of the Environment, Strategic Affairs and Communications, but is a stranger to international forums and foreign diplomacy.
Erdan’s immediate superior will be Gaby Ashkenazi, the incoming foreign minister assigned to Likud’s coalition partner, Benny Gantz's Israel Resilience Party, although no one doubts that he will take his lead from the prime minister.
Netanyahu has taken advantage of going first as prime minister to position Erdan on hand to lead Israel’s defense against the international outcry expected in the world body against a possible move to extend Israel sovereignty to parts of the West Bank...
This is inevitable since the world body and its subsidiaries have a consistent record of pro-Palestinian bias.
For years, the Palestinians have gained wide support for branding Israeli settlement on the West Bank illegal and their claim for statehood in the entire territory.
Israel disputes this contention, citing security needs and biblical, historical, and political affinity to the land, a contention embodied in US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan.
danny danon (un) & 'god is our god'
Trump’s re-election would make Erdan’s job in Washington that much smoother, although the traditional bipartisan support Israel has enjoyed in the past is cracking under Democratic disapproval. Some lawmakers argue that annexation is inconsistent with their vision of a two-state solution of the Israel-Palestinian dispute.... Netanyahu is unlikely to back down from his pledge...
He may hope to mute the disapproval inside the cabinet and internationally by acting in stages, starting with the annexation of the Jordan Valley as an essential security component on Israel’s eastern border, before going forward to extend sovereignty to the communities dotted over Judea and Samaria [occupied West-Bank].
Many believe that Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, will hold to this plan as integral to his legacy...
On Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron began pushing for the European Union, Israel’s largest trading partner, to impose sanctions if Israel extends its sovereignty to any part of the West Bank.
Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg are listening. EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell said in February Trump’s plan departed from “internationally agreed parameters”.
However, collective sanctions would not gain the mandatory unanimous support of all 27 members, since some of them, such as Hungary and the Czech Republic, would not go along.
The Palestinians should be made to pay a price for failing to reach an agreement with Israel, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said at Monday's Jerusalem Conference.
Erdan said that in the past, the Palestinians had a mantra that time was on their side and waiting to reach an agreement with Israel would pay off for them.
He said that now with a pro-Israel president in Donald Trump, time worked against the Palestinians. "The Trump presidency is a historic opportunity to say the land of Israel is ours," Erdan said.
"With a friend who realizes settlements aren't an impediment to peace, the Palestinians can be made to realize that time no longer works in their favor and that they will pay a price for their refusal. There should be building everywhere in Judea and Samaria, not just in Jerusalem and settlement blocs, because that would set a de facto border."
Erdan said now was the time for Israel to apply sovereignty to Ariel and Greater Jerusalem, including Gush Etzion.
He said the policies of Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama's policies were "180 degrees the opposite of what we believe in."
Earlier, in an interview with Army Radio, Erdan said that all the members of the security cabinet oppose a Palestinian state, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told the security cabinet ministers when they met Sunday that he would not renounce his support for a two-state solution.
For Benjamin Netanyahu and conspiratorial son Yair, the illiberal Islamophobic ethno-nationalism of Europe’s radical right is just too enticing..
When Yair Netanyahu recently tweeted that the "evil globalist EU" was an enemy to "all European Christian countries" he received a thrilled endorsement from Joachim Kuhs, Member of the European Parliament for the German radical right AfD ('Alternative für Deutschland').
This further established his position as a hard-line member of a growing, international, radical right movement.
The angry tweets of a marginal extremist would not be worth much attention, but for the fact that Netanyahu Senior appears to share much of this agenda.
So this strange situation, in which a hard right Jewish nationalist defends a vision of "Christian Europe," reflects a significant wider trend.
'Europe will again be free, democratic and Christian'
For rising, ethnonationalists on the European and American radical right, the European Union symbolises everything they hate..
As Muslim minorities have grown, the European radical right have converged on the claim that "Islamization" threatens Europe’s identity. In this context, they increasingly define European values with reference to Christian roots.
In general, the European radical right agenda is not to restore religious beliefs, but to define the cultural identity of European nations to exclude "non-native" cultures, especially Islam. Radical right parties typically now claim to defend Jews against those they brand Europe’s real anti-Semites, the Muslims.
Until recently, Israel was commonly despised in radical right circles as an arm of malign Jewish and American power. They now commonly embrace Israel as a model ethno-national state, and Europe’s frontline against radical Islam.
Indeed, radical right parties often now refer to European values as "Judeo-Christian" – keen to dismiss suspicions of anti-Semitism...
European Jewish communities are not impressed... But for Netanyahu Sr and the Israeli right, the European radical right, like Donald Trump, is a source of great temptation.
Here is a political movement that rejects the EU’s insistence on human rights, is infused with Islamophobia, and can help blunt EU pressure over the Palestinians... Netanyahu the younger appears to embrace the most extreme and conspiratorial versions of this world view.
For him, the EU is not just misguided or overreaching, but evil. He does not even bother with the polite "Judeo" prefix when referring to Europe’s "authentic" culture. He endorses a notion of "Christian Europe" as a rejection of liberal multi-culturalism.
AFD - Wikipedia Info
- German nationalism: Over time, a focus on German nationalism, on reclaiming Germany's sovereignty and national pride, especially in repudiation of Germany's culture of shame with regard to its Nazi past, became more central in AfD's ideology...
- Immigration: The party describes German national identity as under threat both from European integration and from the presence and accommodation of immigrants and refugees within Germany.
- Foreign policy: In foreign policy, as of 2015, the party platform was pro-NATO, pro-United States and largely pro-Israel, but the party was significantly divided on whether to support Russia, and had opposed sanctions on Russia supported by NATO and the United States.
Since the 1970s, evangelicals and “Christian Zionists” have come to play an increasingly important role in influencing American policy toward Israel. As the Israel/Palestine conflict has escalated in recent years, evangelical preachers and their communities have rushed to “Stand for Israel” – organizing support rallies, letter-writing campaigns, and tours of the “Holy Land.” Many fundamentalists have raised funds to promote the Israeli settlement of the occupied West bank and Gaza..
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Iran-aligned Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, has said Israel is now concentrating its attacks in Syria on missile-manufacturing sites, while denying that Iranian troops were currently operating in the war-torn country...
Israel has conducted many raids inside Syria since the start of Syria's war in 2011, saying any presence of Hezbollah and Iran, which have played a vital role in supporting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, remained a strategic threat in the neighbouring country.
Nasrallah said that with Bashar al-Assad firmly in control, Israel has turned its attention more recently to striking targets "linked to missile production in Syria", saying Israel feared that the manufacturing of "precision missiles" could spell "new dangers" for Israel.
During the televised statements on Wednesday, Nasrallah also denied that any Iranian troops were currently operating in Syria or that Israeli air attacks have pushed either Hezbollah or Iran to retreat from Syria, calling Israel's claims that they have done so "imaginary victories".
"In Syria, there is an imaginary battle that Israel is waging, called 'not allowing the presence of Iranian military troops in Syria'," he said.
Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett said in April that the Israeli military was working to drive Tehran out of Syria.
Nasrallah instead said that Iranian military experts were in Syria with the aim of "advising and helping Syrian troops, and managing groups of Syrian, Arab and Islamic popular resistance forces". "They train them, prepare them and manage them in ongoing battles," as well as handle "coordination with resistance movements including Hezbollah", he said.
The head of the Shia movement, which officially joined the war in Syria in 2013, however, conceded that in "an exceptional case" Iranian troops took part in the battle for the northern city of Aleppo in late 2016. The victory dealt a major blow to the armed opposition in the country... Nasrallah rejected the notion that the Damascus regime's allies Iran and Russia are entangled in a power struggle in Syria.
"Iran is not waging a battle for influence with anybody, not with Russia ... and not with anybody" else, he said.
"The Islamic Republic's position in Syria has been clear, and based on preventing Syria from falling under the hegemony of America and Israel," he added.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry released a statement on Thursday, on the eve of Nakba Day (the Day of Catastrophe), when back in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcibly evicted from their homeland and Israel proclaimed existence.
It said, “72 years ago, on this day, the Zionist immigrants massacred people of the land of Palestine — including men, women, the youth, the elderly and innocent children — and forced them out of their homes while using deviant and racist ideas and thoughts as a pretext. [That is how] the Palestinian land and the entire West Asia were afflicted with Zionist Nakba.” Palestinians mark Nakba Day on May 15, a day after the occupying regime declared existence.
The ministry expressed Iran’s “full solidarity” with the Palestinian cause, rejecting a “humiliating” peace plan drawn up by the administration of US President Donald Trump to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It also emphasized that international bodies, especially the United Nations, need to shoulder their responsibility and “set the stage for the return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland and a referendum joined by the true inhabitants of this land — including Muslims, Christians and Jews — so they can exercise the right to decide their own fate and form an independent Palestinian government with Jerusalem as [the state’s] capital.” The ministry referred to Palestine as the most pressing issue of the Muslim world “despite all conspiracies to sink it into oblivion.”
Jordan's King Abdulla II, in an interview published by Der Spiegel on Friday, issued a stark warning over Israel's annexation-plans. "Leaders who advocate a one-state solution do not understand what that would mean," he said.
"What would happen if the Palestinian National Authority collapsed? There would be more chaos and extremism in the region. If Israel really annexed the West Bank in July, it would lead to a massive conflict with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan," he said.
Jordan is a close Western ally and one of only two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel. Abdullah declined to say whether annexation would threaten that agreement.
"I don't want to make threats and create an atmosphere of loggerheads, but we are considering all options. We agree with many countries in Europe and the international community that the law of strength should not apply in the Middle East," he said.
Khaled Elgindy, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, said Israel's annexation plans could pose a threat to the Jordanian monarchy.
"When the king himself comes out and essentially puts his relationship with Israel and the treaty with Israel on the line, its very serious," he told Al Jazeera from Arlington in the United States.
"For Jordan, an end to the two state solution - which this plan and annexation is really aimed at achieving - an end of any prospect of a Palestinian state - < poses not just a strategic threat, but quite possibly even an existential threat to the monarchy in Jordan."
Jordan has been lobbying the EU to take "practical steps" to make sure annexation does not happen.
In a statement, Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi "stressed the need for the international community and the European Union in particular to take practical steps that reflect the rejection of any Israeli decision to annex".
Labor chief Avi Gabbay refused to retract his recent statements opposing the eviction of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria in a potential future peace deal with the Palestinian Authority...
Gabbay argued instead that Israel would need to find "creative solutions" about what to do with Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria in a future peace deal.
Speaking with Reshet Bet, Gabbay said that "I believe that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews. God promised Abraham the entire Land of Israel..."
Members of the political establishment speculated that Gabbay was trending towards the right politically in order to present himself as a viable alternative to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Yesterday, Gabbay said at a conference of Labor Party activists in Dimona that both Israelis and Arabs must understand that Israel is the stronger party. "We have to understand a very simple thing - we are the strong ones here. They always scare us, but we are the stronger ones. We are stronger than the Arabs... We do not have to be afraid of them – the Arabs have to be afraid of us," Gabbay said.
Earlier this week, a bipartisan grouping of 69 United States senators sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a letter encouraging him to continue his “vigorous support of Israel as it faces the growing possibility of investigations and prosecutions by the International Criminal Court.”
The letter was spearheaded by senators Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, and Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland. This duo also teamed up to introduce the Israel Anti-Boycott Act during the previous Congress.
That legislation, which was defeated by a combination of Palestine solidarity groups and the American Civil Liberties Union, proposed criminalizing individuals acting on behalf of nonprofit organizations or companies to further a boycott for Palestinian rights in coordination with an international organization, such as the UN or European Union.
Cardin, Portman Lead Senate Call for Pompeo
to Defend Israel Against Investigations by the ICC Ben Cardin, 13-5-2020
U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and a supermajority of the Senate are urging Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to use America’s influence to curtail the politically driven investigations by the International Criminal Court against Israel. In a letter Wednesday, the senators wrote:
"We urge you to continue your vigorous support of Israel as it faces the growing possibility of investigations and prosecutions by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Neither the United States nor Israel are members of the ICC. ICC actions currently underway could lead to the prosecution of Israeli nationals despite the fact the ICC does not enjoy legitimate jurisdiction in this case. Both Democratic and Republican administrations have refused to join the Court in part because they feared its politicization and misuse." [...]
“By accepting Palestinian territorial claims over the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, the Prosecutor is making a political judgment that biases any subsequent investigation or trial…
Establishing the boundaries of any future Palestinian state is a political decision that must be determined through negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Any ICC determination regarding its jurisdiction over the disputed territories or investigation of Israel would further hinder the path to peace. Moreover, politicizing the Court in this way could further weaken and undermine the ICC.”
"The ICC has no jurisdiction over disputed territories and their claim creates a dangerous precedent that undermines the purposes for which the court was founded. This effort is discriminatory against Israel and will serve to make a lasting solution more difficult to achieve.”
After sending the letter, Senators Cardin and Portman released the following statement:
“We are pleased that so many of our Senate colleagues joined us on this very important effort. With ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda doubling down on her position that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation on April 30, this letter is more important than ever.
Israel finally has a new government after more than a year of deadlock, but the new power-sharing administration between the right and centrist wings has not put the political controversy to rest. The Israeli parliament gave its approval to the new unity government Sunday, 73-46. Benjamin Netanyahu will remain prime minister for 18 months. Benny Gantz, will be “alternate prime minister,” then they will swap jobs.
“The public wants a unity government, and this is what the public is getting today,” Netanyahu said Sunday. “We chose to serve the country together.”
Speaking after Netanyahu, Gantz said he chose a unity government over civil war, adding that “the worst political crisis Israel has known is over.”
Netanyahu promised a budget that he says “will prevent the economy from collapsing..." He also says Israel will not back away from plans to annex part of the West Bank.
“The time has come to apply sovereignty to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria,” he said. “This won’t distance peace. It will bring it closer. These (Jewish) settlements will be part of Israel in any scenario....; it is time to apply Israeli law and to write a glorious new chapter in the history of Zionism.”
Some parliamentary opponents of annexation shouted “apartheid” during Netanyahu’s address. Israeli opposition leader, Yair Lapid, says the new government is already bloated and corrupt and something the Israeli people don’t really want.
“The government being formed today is the largest and most wasteful in the history of the country,” he said. “It’s not just the waste, it’s the contempt. The complete contempt for the crisis facing the Israeli public.”
Israel’s leaders have finally formed a government, after three elections that left the country in a political quagmire. The US corporate press won’t tell you this, but the reason for the inability to form a government was Israeli racism.
Jewish parties in Israel with any respectable number of seats in the Knesset or parliament are either right wing (Blue and White) or far right (Likud and its allies). The right wing for the past 14 months had refused to accept a government with far-right Netanyahu in it.
Governments could have been formed without Netanyahu’s extremist Likud Party.. They would have needed to be willing, however, to at least tacitly accept the support of the Joint List, a predominantly Arab-Israeli coalition.
I wrote earlier this spring: In Israel’s most recent election, the largely Palestinian-Israeli Joint List, led by Ayman Odeh, won an unprecedented 15 seats in the 120-member Israeli Knesset or parliament.
After the recent election, Odeh tweeted at caretaker prime minister Netanyahu, who dismissed Palestinian-Israelis as “terrorists,” “Netanyahu, I will teach you what democracy is– the rule of the majority of citizens, and not the majority of Jews. Pack your things, you are on your way to your home.” All of a sudden, Odeh looks prescient.
The far right Likud and its coalition parties gained 58 seats in the recent election, but Likud by itself only won 36 seats. A coalition needs 61 to form a government.
The Center-Right Blue and White won 33 seats. But the center-left Labor-Meretz coalition has another 7, taking a possible alliance to 40. The wild card was the Joint List, with its 15 seats. one way to break the deadlock “would be for Blue and White to bring the Joint List into the government and give the Palestinian-Israelis a couple of innocuous cabinet seats. Israeli racialist supremacism, however, makes it impossible for any Jewish political party to cross that color line.
This is true even though Palestinian-Israelis (what are called in the Israeli press “Israeli Arabs” or the “Arabs of 1948”) comprise over 20 percent of the population of Israel.
It would be like asking white politicians in Mississippi in 1950 to bring African-Americans in the governor’s cabinet. Or it would be like asking the Apartheid government of South Africa in the same era to enfranchise Black Africans, whom they viewed as terrorists.”
And that, dear reader, is still the case after Gantz did his deal with Netanyahu.
Supremacism is an ideology which holds that a certain class of people is superior to others, and that it should be or is entitled to dominate, control, subjugate, and/or eliminate others.
The supposed superior people can be of a certain age, belong to a particular race, species, or ethnicity, practice a particular religion, be of a particular gender, be of a particular sexuality, speak, read, and/or write a particular language, belong to a particular social class, believe in a particular ideology, live in a particular nation, practice a particular culture, or belong to any other part of a particular population. [Wikipedia info]
"There is no chosen people on this earth"
Amy DePaul interviews Seyed Mohammad Marandi Guernica, 5-2-2008
Guernica: In an interview with Matt Lauer of NBC, you mentioned President Ahmadinejad being mistranslated on some of the things he has said about Israel. How was he mistranslated?
Seyed Mohammad Marandi: President Ahmadinejad said that the Zionist state of Israel should no longer exist as a political entity. This has always been the policy of successive Iranian governments such as those of President Khatami and President Rafsanjani. In general, Iranians believe that all Palestinians have the right to return home and that there is no chosen people on this earth, whether Jewish, Muslim, Christian.
Iran had the same policy towards apartheid South Africa and at the time when it was supporting and funding the ANC [African National Congress] among other groups in South Africa, these groups were also considered to be terrorist organizations by many western governments....
Guernica: What’s the most important point you’d like Americans to know about Iran?
Seyed Mohammad Marandi: Americans should know that Iranians are just as decent, human and rational as other human beings. Sadly, the mainstream media in the U.S. regularly fails to recognize and reflect this.
Desmond Tutu: "If you are neutral in situations of injustice,
you have chosen the side of the oppressor."
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has declared he no longer intends to abide by security agreements and understandings between Israel, the US and the PLO.
The announcement is believed to be in response to Israel's plans to declare sovereignty over the territories after July 1. Mr Abbas turned responsibility for administering the occupied territories to Israel.
"The Palestine Liberation Organisation and the State of Palestine are absolved, as of today, of all the agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and of all the obligations based on these understandings and agreements, including the security ones," Mr Abbas said.
He spoke in Ramallah at an emergency meeting of Palestinian leadership about Israeli plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank as declared in the new Israeli coalition government's agreement.
"The Israeli occupation authority, as of today, has to shoulder all responsibilities and obligations in front of the international community as an occupying power over the territory of the occupied state of Palestine, with all its consequences and repercussions based on international law and international humanitarian law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which holds the occupying power responsible for the protection of the civilian population under occupation and their property, criminalizes collective punishment, bans theft of resources, appropriation and annexation of land, bans forced transfer of the population of the occupied territory and bans transfer of the population of the occupying state (the colonialists) to the land it occupies, which all are grave violations and war crimes," he said....
Abbas slammed the US position, accusing the White House of "injustice towards the Palestinian people".
"We hold the United States fully responsible for the injustice towards the Palestinian people, we consider them the main partner of the occupying Israeli government in all its hostile decisions", Abbas stressed during his speech.
Israeli expansionism and colonialism have “effectively destroyed the two-state solution,” Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said on Tuesday during a webinar attended by Arab News. Israeli settlers have created “a reign of terror in the West Bank” under an “apartheid” system, she said during the webinar, hosted by the Council for Arab-British Understanding, and titled “Stopping annexation and ending occupation — the role of the international community.”
Settlers are “destroying olive trees and stealing crops,” as well as “terrorizing helpless Palestinian peasants and farmers, quite often with the help and collusion of the Israeli army, not as individuals who are out of control, but as part of a systematic process,” she added. The Israelis “hold the Palestinians responsible for the safety of their occupiers..". “Should anybody be injured in any way, then we’re all labeled terrorists..."
Ashrawi holds the international community responsible for Israel’s settlement enterprise on occupied Palestinian land... “If you’re unable to stop this, what’s the point of negotiations? To be used only as a tool, as an instrument of an ongoing expansionist program in Israel — what’s the point?” she asked. The international community, she added, should act not just with “a statement or a declaration,” but “with clear consequences.”
GNA Education Minister Mohamed Amari Zayed, who is close to the Shura councils, paid tribute to the militants of the Government of National Accord (GNA) for entering the Uqba bin Nafeh (al-Watiyah) Airbase after more than 100 Turkish air strikes in the past two days.
Amari Zayed said, according to his media office, that what he described as “victory” was due to a well-thought military plan worked on for a whole month and implemented by “our Air Force”, meaning the Turkish drones, and their armed men with all the competence and professionalism, as he put it.
He thanked all the countries that had supported the GNA, referring mainly to Turkey, which provided direct military air, sea, and land support for this operation.
He added: “We tell the countries that support the coup that their project is collapsing and it is high time now to revisit their positions.”
“The victory of today is another victory in the civil state’s battle against the coup and the return of tyranny... We will not stop until we extend the GNA’s control over the entire Libyan soil,” concluded Amari.
Mohammed Sawan, leader of the Justice and Construction Party (JCP), the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm in Libya, celebrated the control of Al-Watiyah Airbase on Monday by the militants of the Government of National Accord (GNA) after more than 100 Turkish air strikes over the past two days.
Sawan said in statements to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Libya Panorama channel: “We bless the victories of our forces that liberated Al-Watiyah Airbase, bringing us closer to putting an end to the bloody chapter of Haftar and the supporters of his authoritarian military project,” as he put it.
President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has said that Egypt will never show toleration for terrorist organisations or the parties supporting them under any circumstances, in comments on the Libyan crisis.
Egypt supports reaching a political solution to the crisis, as well as preserving Libya's sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity, said El-Sisi, speaking during a virtual meeting on Tuesday of the heads of the African contact group of states on Libya, his spokesman Bassam Rady said.
El-Sisi stressed that Egypt rejects any foreign interference in Libya’s domestic affairs, asserting that Libya’s stability is a crucial aspect of Egypt’s national security.
The president argued that African countries should consider fighting terrorism in Libya to be a top priority, as it threatens the stability and security of neighbouring countries and the continent as a whole.
The president said that since the Libyan crisis is considered an Arab-African issue, the African Union and the Arab League should coorindate in their efforts to solve the crisis...
On Monday, forces aligned with the Government of National Accord (GNA) took control of Al-Watiya air base, 125 km from the capital Tripoli, Reuters reported. The LNA and its allies still control eastern and southern Libya, which contains most of the country's oil facilities, in addition to the city of Sirte, at the centrepoint of Libya's Mediterranean coastline.
Libya’s Grand Mufti Sadiq Al-Ghariani thanked Qatar and Turkey for their support of the Libyan people’s stability. In contrast, he attacked the United Arab Emirates (UAE), accusing it of killing Libyans with its drones in support of 'the militias of the coupist Major General Khalifa Haftar'.
“I salute the prince, government, and people of the brotherly country Qatar, as it has been supporting the Libyan people all this time, and ever since the outbreak of the blessed revolution (in 2011).
ghariani, not a friend of haftar
Qatar has a clear position. It sincerely seeks stability, bringing parties together and reformation,” announced Al-Ghariani in a video published on the Libyan Fatwa House’s Facebook page on Wednesday evening.
He continued: “May Allah reward Qatar with good, as it has made its best. May Allah reward it best for what it has provided to us. I also salute and thank the president, government, and people of the brotherly country Turkey, especially after signing the joint security cooperation agreement with the legitimate Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA).”
He further indicated: “May Allah reward the Turkish president with good. He has implemented this agreement’s requirements at the best, bearing the suffering, hostility, and an internal and external confrontation from the opposition that has attacked him.”
He noted: “The Turkish president, may Allah reward him well, is a statesman who knows what he wants. He knew that among Turkey’s interests is supporting just causes wherever they are. Therefore, he supported the Libyan issue with all that he could...”
qatar-supported revolution in libya and syria
Wikipedia info: Sheikh Al Ghariani has become more prominent after the 2011 Libyan Revolution and subsequent civil war due to his widely supported fatwas against Muammar Gaddafi and public opposition to Gaddafi's rule on Al Jazeera.
In June 2017, Sadiq Al Ghariani, was placed on a Terrorism watchlist, following accusation of links to Terrorism and Qatari backing for International terrorism in the 2017 Qatar diplomatic crisis. A number of nations, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, and Egypt are some who have issued this verdict.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday accused the Iranian leadership of “echoing Hitler’s call for genocide” after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for “eliminating the Zionist regime.”
It is incredible that [Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad] Zarif and Supreme Leader are echoing Hitler’s call for genocide, Pompeo tweeted. “This depravity should dispel any notion the regime belongs in the community of nations. We stand with Germany and Israel against this oldest & most vile form of hatred, and say #NeverAgain”
Shortly after Pompeo tweeted his condemnation, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Nikolay Mladenov, added a denunciation of his own.
“Dangerous calls for the destruction of #Israel should be condemned by all,” he tweeted. “Such inciteful rhetoric is a modern form of #antisemitism. The #UN will continue to stand against all forms of #racism, #hatred, and strive for #peace and stability in the #MiddleEast.”
Khamenei repeatedly called for 'the end of the Zionist regime' this week....
“We will support and assist any nation or any group anywhere who opposes and fights the Zionist regime, and we do not hesitate to say this,” he tweeted Wednesday.
“Eliminating the Zionist regime doesn’t mean eliminating Jews. We aren’t against Jews. It means abolishing the imposed regime & Muslim, Christian & Jewish Palestinians choose their own govt & expel thugs like [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu,” he added the same day.
This book explains many points of discord between the political ideology of Zionism and what most people consider Judaism. It also shows how Jewish traditional conscience offers a hope for the solution of the Middle East crisis.
"Palestine belongs to the Palestinians; therefore, it should be run as they wish. A referendum - with the participation of all Palestinian religions and ethnicities, this is what we have been suggesting for almost two decades - is the only solution for the challenges which Palestine is facing at the present time and in the future.
This plan shows that the western accusations of anti-Semitism which have been repeated time and time again are completely unfounded.
On the basis of this plan, Jewish, Christian and Muslim Palestinians will determine together the political system of their country by participating in a referendum.
That which should definitely go is the Zionist regime, since Zionism is a bizarre innovation which has been planted in Judaism and is totally alien to that religion."
Last December, when no one knew that the coronavirus was lurking around the corner, Eitan Bronstein Aparicio, 60, and his partner, Eléonore Merza, 40, left Israel for good.
They are both well-known in circles of left-wing activists. He founded the organization Zochrot some 20 years ago, she is a political anthropologist, and they co-authored a book on the Nakba (Arabic for “catastrophe,” as Palestinians refer to the events surrounding the founding of Israel).
Bronstein Aparicio says he still finds it difficult to believe that he left. “I look on it as a type of exile, a departure from the center of Israel,” he explains.
Born in Argentina, Bronstein Aparicio emigrated to Israel with his parents when he was 5, growing up in Kibbutz Bahan in central Israel... A personal process that he terms the “decolonization of my Zionist identity” led him to establish Zochrot (“Remembering,” in Hebrew) in 2001, an NGO that aims to raise awareness of the Nakba and of the Palestinians’ right of return among the Jewish public.
He has five children: Three of them live in Israel, one in Brazil, and the youngest, a boy who’s almost 4, lives with the couple in Brussels.
“There is one point on which I am completely in accord with the move – namely, the need to rescue my son from the nationalist, militaristic education system in Israel. I am glad I got him out of that,” he says...
Many of those who belonged to what’s termed the radical left in Israel have left the country in the past decade.
Among them were those who devoted their life to activism, founded political movements and headed some of the country’s most important left-wing organizations: Not only Zochrot, but B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, Coalition of Women for Peace, 21st Year, Matzpen and others.
Many came from the heart of the Zionist left and then moved farther left, or looked on as the state abandoned principles that were important to them, to a point where they felt they no longer had a place in the Israeli public discourse.
They are scattered around the world, trying to build new lives... Most of them shy away from terming themselves political exiles, but make it plain that opposition to the Israeli government is what drove them to leave, or at least not to return.
Among the well-known names no longer living in Israel are the curator and art theoretician Ariella Azoulay and her partner, philosopher Adi Ophir, who was among the founders of the 21st Year, an anti-occupation organization..; Dana Golan, former executive director of the anti-occupation group Breaking the Silence; Ilan Pappe, a one-time candidate from the Arab-Jewish party Hadash and a member of the group of “new historians,” who left the country over a decade ago and lives in London...
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: “Truth, facts and sources are all not important and they never were. In the age of fake news, it is possible to spread lies, build stories, and create false documentation that seems real and then spread them far and wide.” (Middle East Monitor 2020)
After long years of activism, all the interviewees testified that they had lost hope for political change in Israel.
Many of them are convinced that if change does occur, it will not come from within Israel. “I think it could come mainly from outside,” Bronstein Aparicio explains. “I have hopes for BDS, which is the only significant thing now happening in the field. From that point of view, political exile like this can have a meaningful role.” [..] The final blow, says political scientist Neve Gordon, who was director of Physicians for Human Rights, came when he began to feel it was no longer possible to speak out freely against the racist situation he witnessed.
“The dialogue within Israel, which used to be open and which I took pride in, changed. Things that people like me espouse – support for the boycott movement, or terming Israel an apartheid state – became illegitimate,” he says. “And then you are already not only outside the consensus, but outside the true public discussion. You become a curiosity. And then you say, ‘What do I need this for?’”
“For the majority of my colleagues, Israel is a lost case", Adi Ophir, a philosophy scholar and lecturer at Tel Aviv University, says. "And most of the time, I am with them..."
He continues, “Israel is something that is becoming alien and remote. In large measure I replaced my interest in political Israel with a growing interest in Jewish thought and history. I found myself a small patch that replaces the house in Tel Aviv. I’m enjoying being a Diaspora Jew.” [..]
Rozeen Bisharat and Saar Székely, who are life partners, despaired of Israel at a younger age than the other interviewees, but even so, they felt they had to leave fast.
What prompted their departure, they say, was the question of whether it was possible to effect change.
“For years I thought it was possible to generate change in Israeli society, to bring people content they hadn’t been exposed to,” Rozeen Bisharat says.
“But having a different opinion started to be considered treason. Automatically, if you don’t agree with the state’s way, you are a traitor...
Speaking to the cameras moments before entering the Jerusalem District Court room in which he is now on trial for corruption, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unleashed a furious assault on his accusers — insisting that the charges against him are absurd and fabricated, that he is the victim of an attempted political coup by the police, the state prosecutors, the left and the media, and that the entire skewed process is designed to remove him, and the right-wing camp he leads, from power for years to come.
Almost all of what he said on Sunday afternoon he has said before... What was unprecedented, of course, was the setting...
What was also new was that Netanyahu was surrounded by Likud party colleagues, including several ministers, sworn in to his new cabinet just last week, and fresh from their first full-scale cabinet meeting on Sunday morning, firmly demonstrating their solidarity with the legally embattled prime minister... Netanyahu has broadened the battle from the State of Israel versus Benjamin Netanyahu to, ostensibly, the State of Israel versus the Israeli right — as he put it, the strong, patriotic, pro-annexation Israeli right.
Media outlets in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt have launched a systematic campaign against Rached Ghannouchi, the intellectual leader of Tunisia's Ennahda Movement, to tarnish his image and provoke a storm in his country.
The counter-revolution led by Sky News, Saudi-financed Al-Arabiya -- both broadcasts from the UAE -- and Egypt-based Youm7 newspaper, have published simultaneous deceitful news...
Reports claimed Ghannouchi gained huge financial wealth since his return to Tunisia after the victory of the revolution in 2011... The campaign coincided with the defeat of the counter-revolution in Libya, after militias loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar suffered heavy losses in western cities, in addition to the Libyan army's seizing the control of the Al-Watiya airbase that was occupied by putschist forces for about six years.
"Libya is the password in directing the UAE to launch this fierce campaign against Sheikh Rachid Ghannouchi," according to Ammar Fayed, a researcher in Middle East affairs.
"The axis of the counter-revolution does not intend to allow any democratic experiment to advance to the imam [Ghannouchi], especially if the Islamists are part of it," he said.
Fayed stressed that defeats of the counter-revolution in Libya have a direct effect on targeting the political stability in Tunisia as well as Ghannouchi, whose last telephone call to the Fayez Mustafa al-Sarraj, chairman of the Presidential Council of the Libyan Government of National Accord, to congratulate him on the restoration of Al-Wattiya airbase near the Tunisian border, angered Cairo and Abu Dhabi.
Egyptian journalist Osama Gaweesh said: "the question is why the axis of the counter-revolution attempted to morally assassinate Ghannouchi? Very briefly, the answer is Libya."
He added: "It seems that the axis of evil could not bear the defeat of its arm in Libya, Khalifa Haftar on the hands of the legitimate government."
Gaweesh stressed that "Tunisia is the last pillar of the successful experiences of the Arab Spring, which gives a glimmer of hope to its neighbors, Egypt, Libya and other neighboring countries."
From the first days of the Arab Spring, the AKP (Justice and Development Party) supported Islamist parties: Rached Ghannouchi in Tunisia, Mahmoud Jibril in Libya and Mohamed Morsi in Egypt.
The party furnished the Muslim Brotherhood with specialists in political communication and advised them in order to impose their common vision of Islam in their respective societies. In September 2011, as a sign of this alliance, Mr. Erdogan helped to create the Syrian National Council in Istanbul, which was slated to become the Syrian government in exile - an instance which was entirely under the control of the Muslim Brotherhood.
In 2012, Mr. Erdogan welcomed to the AKP congress the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood now in power, the Egyptian Mohamed Morsi and the Palestinian Khaled Meschal. He also organised a conference for the Brotherhood on the 10th July 2013, among whose particpants were Youssef Nada, Mohammad Riyad al-Shafaka (the Brotherhood’s guide in Syria) and Rached Ghannouchi. By precaution, it was his old friends from Millî Görüs, and not the AKP, who delivered the invitations.
When, in September 2014, Qatar avoided war with Saudi Arabia by inviting the Muslim Brotherhood to leave the Emirate, Mr. Erdogan seized the opportunity and became the Brotherhood’s only « godfather » on the international stage.
libya 2011: france-uk-b.h. levy & the new islamist government
Ibrahim Kalin, Ankara, May 23, 2011:
Despite setbacks in Libya, Yemen, and Syria, the democratic wave has already begun to change the Middle East’s political landscape. The Arab Spring strengthens rather than weakens Turkey’s position in the Arab world, and vindicates the new strategic thrust of Turkish foreign policy.
Turkish officials have stated on various occasions that change in the Arab world is inevitable...
"Simply put, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Nahda Movement in Tunisia, and Hamas in Palestine will all play important and legitimate roles in the political future of their respective countries.
This means that Americans and Europeans will need to engage these groups publicly and directly, as Turkey has done, not secretly or indirectly, as they have in the past. After all, they are now part of the emerging political order in the Arab world."
Syrian Observatory has obtained a copy of a video footage showing Sami Al-Oraydi, the general sharia official in “Hurras al-Din” which pledges allegiance to al-Qaeda, warning jihadi groups of being subject to “international understandings”.
“Dealing with the infidels, whether in the times of peace or times of war, has to be controlled by sharia orders and the absolute devotion to Allah, and to be under supervision of scholars and pious experts who are familiar with the criminals’ approaches, so that people will not resort to the enemies or obey infidels. Obeying infidels never brings good,” Al-Oraydi added. Al-Oraydi directed his message to the jihadi groups in Idlib, warning them not to accept international understandings, describing the international understandings as a “trick”.
Sami Al-Oraydi is a Jordanian ex-commander in al-Qaeda. He used to be the most important sharia expert of the former Jabhat al-Nusra before he defected from it and joined “Hurras al-Din” which pledges allegiance to al-Qaeda.
Hurras al-Din, Ansar al-Din, Ansar al-Tawhid and Ansar al-Islam stand out among the factions that have rejected the Sochi and Moscow deals and assumed a menacing attitude toward Turkish-Russian patrols in Idlib. The four groups have joined forces in a coalition called Rouse the Believers Operation Room, which has slammed the Moscow deal as “a venomous snake that keeps biting the hands of the Syrian people.”
Read more: Al-Monitor, 15-4-2020
The former Minister of Health in the Libyan Transitional Government, Fatima Hamroush, said that Turkey has been the gateway and link for the transport of militias and military equipment between Libya and Syria since 2011.
In a post on her Facebook page, Hamroush wrote: “We should not forget Liwaa Al-Ummah led by Libyans and supported by Libyan mercenaries and weapons in 2011 to fight against the regime in Syria. Turkey had been the key facilitator in this regard.”
Liwaa al–Umma is a jihadist group founded by Mahdi Al-Harati, the Islamist former mayor of Tripoli.
“Today, this is our merchandise turned back to us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and the first offender is the worse of the two.
To avoid any misinterpretation of my words as siding with a particular party, I state here that those who facilitated and supported the intervention of the Libyan militias in the Syrian affairs are responsible for the destruction and diaspora unfolding today in the Libyan territories. Therefore, they must be held accountable..."
Wikipedia info Fatima Hamroush is the daughter of Abdullah Hamroush, former colonel and court-martial judge during the kingdom, before the (Gaddafi) coup in 1969. She moved to Ireland in 1996.
Dr Hamroush opposed the Gaddafi regime and became a well-known and active member of the Libyan opposition from 2008, where she collaborated with many members of the Libyan opposition abroad and inside Libya.
In November 2011, Dr Hamroush was named as the Minister of Health for Libya in the Transitional Government. She held office from 2 December 2011 until early November 2012. In 2013 she returned to Ireland.
Abdel Hakim Belhaj: one of the leaders of 'the revolution'
Liwa al Ummah: Info
The Liwa al Ummah - a Salafi jihadist group - was formed by Mahdi Al-Harati, a deputy of Abdul Hakim Belhaj, the former emir of the al Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. Harati led the Libyan rebel Tripoli Brigade during the Battle of Tripoli.
In 2012, the Liwa al Ummah in Syria merged with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which was formed in August 2011 by army deserters based in Turkey, whose aim was to bring down Assad.
In Syria, the Liwa al Ummah was often referred to as an ‘FSA unit’ and sometimes teamed up with al-Nusra, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria.
The FSA has been covertly armed by the US and Gulf states and trained by Turkey – all as part of the Nato-backed covert operation to oust Assad which began in 2011. (Mark Curtis, June 7, 2017)
Turkey believes that the US and Europe no longer trust Khalifa Haftar in Libya, Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın has disclosed in a television interview.
“European countries and the US are telling us that Haftar is no longer reliable, yet they still refrain from disclosing this publicly,” explained the spokesman. Kalın stressed the need for the international community to take a stand against 'Haftar’s unlawful and reckless conduct' as well as his attacks.
He added that the steps his country has taken in the troubled North African state have changed the balance of power and prevented the ongoing conflict from turning into a civil war.
He stressed that Turkey is present in Libya under official agreements and within legal frameworks. Turkey will not, he insisted, succumb to Haftar’s advocates or any other parties.
“Everyone admitted that we changed the balance of power through the steps we had taken in Libya. If there are talks about a ceasefire today in Libya, then it is thanks to Turkey’s efforts.”
He stressed that Britain, like Turkey, supports the legitimate government and the political track in Libya, and asserted that the only solution that can stabilise Libya is a political one.
He indicated that his country is aware of “suspicious relations” between the US and some European countries with countries in the Arab world that support Haftar, especially the Gulf region.
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