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)
The US State Department released hundreds of former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s private e-mails on Saturday. The release, ordered by US President Donald Trump in an open political move ahead of America’s presidential election, revealed a lot about how the Obama administration handled the Arab Spring uprisings.
Walid Phares, a former political advisor to Trump on Middle East Affairs, said in a TV interview on Sunday that “Hillary Clinton’s private e-mails should be of a particular importance to the Arab world because they reveal a lot about her policies in the Middle East and the Arab world while she was the Obama administration’s secretary of state.
“I think many people in the Arab world suspected that the Obama administration had a hand in fuelling what came to be known as the Arab Spring revolutions, and that it played a significant role in helping political Islam movements — particularly Muslim Brotherhood — reach power in a number of Arab countries, but they lacked concrete evidence,” said Phares.
“Now there is evidence, in the form of Clinton’s e-mails which show that the Obama administration was deeply involved in preparing the ground for the Arab Spring revolutions and doing everything possible to spread chaos in the region.”
In one e-mail Clinton asked Qatar to fund the Arab Spring uprisings through “the Clinton Foundation” in order to help overthrow Arab regimes, particularly that of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. The Clinton Foundation received $1 million from Qatar without informing the state department of the donation.
Another e-mail, dated September 2012, revealed that Clinton visited Doha, the capital of Qatar, and met a delegation from Al-Jazeera channel and Muslim Brotherhood activists. The e-mail shows Clinton supporting the Brotherhood’s demand that Qatar fund “a Muslim Brotherhood TV channel” to be the voice of political Islam in the Arab world and the Middle East.
Qatar was ready to donate $100 million to fund the proposed channel with the stipulation that Khairat Al-Shater, the Muslim Brotherhood’s deputy supreme guide, take charge. Clinton also discussed the possibility of Qatar funding a Muslim Brotherhood newspaper in Egypt.
The e-mails also show that Clinton met in Qatar with the former Qatari prime minister Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani and promised that the Obama administration would give every possible support to Al-Jazeera and Muslim Brotherhood media outlets.
Wadah Khanfar, the former director of Al-Jazeera channel, was in close contact with Clinton during the days preceding the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak...
E-mails from late 2010 reveal Khanfar urging the Obama administration officials, particularly Clinton, to intervene to change the regimes in Egypt, Libya and Syria. It was revealed that Homa Abdine, the daughter of a Muslim Brotherhood family and Clinton’s top aide, played a central role in facilitating contacts between Clinton and the Qataris, Khanfar and other Muslim Brotherhood activists.
Other e-mails, released on Monday, reveal that Clinton was in constant contact with Egypt’s former Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi.
Most Egyptian commentators said the e-mails came as no surprise, and contain little that is new. Abdel-Moneim Said argued in an article in Al-Masry Al-Youm on Tuesday that Washington’s desire to get rid of secular regimes in the Arab world and replace them with Islamist ones dates back to the George W Bush administration.
“After the 11 September attacks, America’s think tanks came up with the theory that it was the repression of political Islam in the Arab world that pushed radicals like Osama bin Laden to attack America,” wrote Said. “Bush’s secretary of state Condoleezza Rice was the one who adopted this theory and pushed it forward.
“When Obama came to office in 2008 he espoused this theory and his secretary of state Hillary Clinton put it into effect.
Flashback - Bashar al-Assad's speech
External Conspiring Is No Longer a Secret Uruknet, 10-1-2012
External conspiring is no longer a secret because what is being plotted in the pal talk rooms has started to be clearly revealed before the eyes of the people...
At the beginning of the crisis, it was not easy to explain what happened. Emotional reactions and the absence of rationality were surpassing the facts. But now, the fog has lifted, and it is no longer possible for the regional and international parties which wanted to destabilize Syria to forge the facts and the events.
Now the masks have fallen off the faces of those parties, and we have become more capable of deconstructing the virtual environment which they have created to push Syrians towards illusion and then make them fall.
That virtual environment was created to lead to a psychological and moral defeat which would eventually lead to the actual defeat. That unprecedented media attack was meant to lead us to a state of fear, and this fear, which could paralyze the will, would lead to defeat.
Hamad Bin Jaber al-Thani: Qatar was the prime mover in the Syrian crisis. Saudis Turned on Us in Syria - Alahed News, 22-4-2016
Qatar's Hamad Bin Jaber al-Yhani admits that his country was the prime mover in the Syrian crisis but then Saudi Arabia turned against us and later tried to monopolize the Syrian dossier.
It is three years since HBJ, as he is known in London's financial circles, stepped down as prime minister of the small state of Qatar, part of a deal in which Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the ruler at the time, abdicated in favor of his son Tamim. So powerful was HBJ that the only way for the new emir to rule was for both his father and the prime minister to exit. As PM of Qatar, he invested in Britain and intervened in the "Arab Spring".
Over sixty T.V. channels in the world are devoted to work against Syria. Some of them are devoted to working against the Syrian domestic situation, and some others are working to distort the image of Syria abroad.
The public reaction was outrage, indignation and surprise; why did not the Arabs stand with Syria rather than standing against Syria? I ask a question: when did they stand with Syria?!
I will not go back far in the past, but let us just talk about the past few years. Let us start by the war on Iraq, after the invasion, when Syria was threatened with bombing and invasion.
Who stood with Syria in 2005 when they exploited the assassination of Hariri? Who stood alongside Syria in 2006? Who supported our positions against the Israeli aggression on Lebanon in 2008? Who supported us in the IAEA in relation to the alleged nuclear file? Arab states vote against us. These facts may be unknown to many citizens. That is why we need to explain everything in these junctures and situations..
Has the Arab league actually gained independence for its states, and consequently for itself? Has it ever implemented its decisions and removed the dust off its files and achieved only a fragment of the aspirations of the Arab peoples?
Or has it contributed directly to sowing the seeds of sedition and disunity? Has it respected its charter and defended its member states whose land, or the rights of whose peoples, have been violated?
Has it returned one olive tree uprooted by Israel or prevented the demolition of one Palestinian house in occupied Arab Palestine? Has it been able to prevent the partition of Sudan or prevent the killing of over a million Iraqis or feed a single starved Somali? .... We have been trying for years to activate the Israel-boycott office; and we have been receiving excuses of the type that this is no longer acceptable; but, within a few weeks, they activate a boycott against Syria. This means that their objective is replacing Syria with Israel.
This is only a pattern; and we are not naïve. We have known this Arab condition for a very long time. We have not clung to illusions.
Israel has imposed an entry ban on Mohammed Assaf, the Palestinian singer of "Arab Idol" fame, in a decision described by the star as oppressive. Assaf was the winner of the 2013 Arab Idol singing contest, becoming hugely popular largely due to his patriotic pro-Palestine songs.
He was then named a goodwill ambassador for peace by the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugeees, UNRWA, while the Palestinian government also named him an ambassador of arts and culture.
Born in Libya, Assaf was raised in Gaza's Khan Younis refugee camp but later moved to the United Arab Emirates, where he is now based with his wife.
On Thursday, Likud party member Avi Dichter told Israel's Maariv newspaper that the decision to withdraw Assaf's entry permit and revoke his documentation came "after the disclosure of video clips, calling for a struggle against Israel". Dichter said Israel was working with the UAE in examining the possibility of preventing Assaf's artistic activities there.
In response to the reports, Assaf said that banning him from visiting occupied East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip "won't stop me from loving my country". Atef Abu Sief, a novelist and the Palestinian minister of culture, condemned the Israeli decision, saying "the incitement carried out by the occupation against Assaf is against the Palestinian national culture that is committed to defending the rights of our people".
Turkey does not and never will recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Friday.
“We have and always will support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, including over Crimea," Erdoğan said during a joint press conference with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy in the capital Ankara.
Zelenskiy arrived in the Turkish capital to meet with Erdoğan to discuss matters ranging from defense and trade to bilateral, regional and international issues, including the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh crisis. Russian forces entered the Crimean Peninsula in February 2014... Since then, Crimean Tatars have continued their struggle for Ukraine's territorial integrity against Russian occupation.
Crimea’s ethnic Tatars have faced persecution since Russia’s 2014 takeover of the peninsula, a situation Turkey has decried...
Zelenskiy stressed his country was ready to further enhance the strategic partnership with Turkey, adding that Friday's discussions had been productive.
Stressing the importance of Turkey's support for Ukraine's territorial integrity, he vowed to maintain efforts to release Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar political prisoners held by Russia.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"I emphasize that Turkey under any circumstances will continue to protect the rights and interests of the Crimean Tatars, both those who now live in Crimea and those who were forced to leave the region after the occupation...”
Crimean Tatars are a Turkic ethnic group, who are an indigenous people of Crimea. The formation and ethnogenesis of Crimean Tatars occurred during the 13th–17th centuries.
Currently the Russian government considers Crimean Tatars to be a "national minority", not an indigenous people of Crimea, and continues to deny that they are a titular people of Crimea.
Crimean Tatars constituted the majority of Crimea's population from the time of ethnogenesis until the mid-19th century, and the largest ethnic population until the end of the 19th century.
Almost immediately after the retaking of Crimea from Axis forces, in May 1944, the USSR State Defense Committee ordered the deportation of all of the Crimean Tatars from Crimea, including the families of Crimean Tatars serving in the Soviet Army. The deportees were transported in trains and boxcars to Central Asia, primarily to Uzbekistan.
Starting in 1967, some were allowed to return, and in 1989 the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union condemned the removal of Crimean Tatars from their motherland as inhumane and lawless. Today, Crimean Tatars constitute approximately 15% of the population of Crimea.
There remains a large diaspora in Turkey and Uzbekistan.
Iran’s defense minister, Amir Hatami, says the country is going to support the countries that seek to defend their existence now that the UN Security Council’s restrictions on Tehran’s arms trade are lifted.
“Many countries have already talked to us; we have held negotiations with some countries, and the grounds are totally prepared for exchanges [of weapons], both for selling [arms to other countries] and for supplying certain needs [buying weapons],” Hatami said in a televised interview on Sunday night. “Of course our sales will be much more extensive [than our purchases],” he added.
He said Iran’s goal is first to become self-sufficient and powerful in terms of defensive capabilities, and second to support the countries that seek to defend their existence.
In line with a historic 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the UN Security Council’s embargo on trade in conventional weapons with the Islamic Republic ended on Sunday. The nuclear accord had been endorsed by the Security Council in the form of Resolution 2231.
In his Sunday remarks, General Hatami said the sanctions imposed by the US against Iran pushed the country to move toward self-sufficiency, so much so that the Islamic Republic can now produce and supply 90 percent of its defense needs inside the country.
Russia has blasted the United States for adopting yet another “wrong approach” in the wake of new Iran-related sanctions targeting Chinese companies, stressing that Moscow will keep up its business ties with Tehran despite such bans.
“Wrong approach again… The United States playing a ‘world policeman,’ substituting the UN Security Council is an unwelcome role,” Deputy Russian Ambassador to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy tweeted on Monday. “We are doing and will be doing business with Iran and it's not up to the United States to tell us or others what they can or can’t do..."
The remarks came after the US blacklisted two Chinese men and six Chinese entities for having dealt with the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) Group and, in some cases, helping it evade US sanctions.
In a statement, the US State Department said Reach Holding Group (Shanghai) Company Ltd.; Reach Shipping Lines; Delight Shipping Co., Ltd.; Gracious Shipping Co. Ltd.; Noble Shipping Co. Ltd.; and Supreme Shipping Co. Ltd had “knowingly sold, supplied, or transferred to Iran significant goods or services used in connection with the shipping sector of Iran.”
The new sanctions are in line with the “maximum pressure” campaign that the US unleashed against Iran in 2018 following withdrawal from a multilateral nuclear agreement.
On Sunday, a decade-long UN arms embargo on Iran expired under Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whose efforts failed to keep the ban in force, said his country is “prepared to use its domestic authorities to sanction any individual or entity that materially contributes to the supply, sale, or transfer of conventional arms to or from Iran.”
Syria is to start regular passenger flights to Qatar despite strained relations and the absence of diplomatic ties between the two countries. The announcement was made by the Syrian Ministry of Transport on its Facebook page.
“Two weekly flights on board Syrian Airlines from Damascus to Doha, and vice versa” will start on 28 December, said the ministry.
Syrian Airlines currently operates weekly flights to the UAE, Egypt, Sudan and Lebanon, as well as ad hoc flights to Kuwait.
Earlier this month it was reported that Damascus Airport had reopened for regular commercial flights after a six-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Qatar was one of the first countries to cutoff diplomatic relations with Syria, as they later led the charge to suspend the latter’s membership in the Arab League.
Furthermore, Qatar has been one of the biggest funders of the Syrian opposition and its armed factions, which has prompted Damascus to heavily criticize Doha and accuse them of funding terrorism. Qatar’s Emir Tamim Bin Hamad last month affirmed his country’s commitment to providing “support and assistance to the brotherly Syrian people” while also accusing the Syrian government of hindering the process of drafting a new constitution.
This month, Oman became the latest Gulf state to reappoint an ambassador to Damascus following warmer ties between Syria and other countries in the Gulf region.
In 2018, the UAE re-opened its mission in Damascus and, along with Bahrain and Oman, last year resumed flights to Damascus.
The Christian Broadcasting Network founder and host, Pat Robertson, predicted on Tuesday that President Donald Trump will win re-election in November, which, he claims, will then be followed by the end of the world.
The 90-year old televangelist made the claim after receiving what he said was a direct message from God. "According to what I believe the Lord told me, the president is going to be re-elected", Robertson asserted during his show.
The US preacher said that the election result would “lead to civil unrest, and then a war against Israel and so forth…".
Following the conflict, Robertson claimed, there will be a "time of peace" he said, before then saying: “And then maybe the end".
Robertson has a wide following with the Religious Right as well as those conservative religious voters who back the Republican Party. He was previously an adamant Trump supporter. The pastor later withdrew his support for the president after claiming that Trump was “losing the mandate of heaven” after pushing for the withdrawal of US troops from Syria.
Robertson has been making apocalypse predictions since the 1970s...
The appointment this spring of Greece’s former Syrian ambassador as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' new special envoy for Syria is being viewed as a sign of Greece’s renewed geopolitical interest in its southern neighborhood and of its desire to establish a greater role in a country to which it has deep historic ties.
According to Ioannis Grigoriadis, head of the Turkey Program at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy in Athens, the decision is part of a wider attempt to refocus on the region brought about by the escalation of tensions between Greece and Turkey... Dimitrios Katsoudas, Greece’s secretary general for European affairs from 2007-2009 and a previous policy adviser who has held various positions within the country’s current ruling New Democracy Party, told Al-Monitor, “Greece has a strong will to participate both in Syria’s permanent pacification and to its reconstruction,” adding, “Greece, for historic, geopolitical and economic reasons, needs to hold a strong position in Syria, and our allies need to understand this.”
flashback: anti-us|turkey cartoons
Before the war, an estimated 10% of Syria’s population was Christian, with Greek Orthodox being the largest denomination. Because of the conflict and widespread flight of Syria’s Christians it is hard to estimate their numbers today, but some figures place them below half of pre-war levels. Still, they are a sizable and prominent minority that did well as a community before the war.
Russian intervention to save the government of President Bashar al-Assad has been cast, in part, as a move to defend Orthodox Christians in Syria and those who remained have generally stood by the regime as a guarantor of minority rights and stability.
In this light, Katsoudas told Al-Monitor, “Greece has eventually come to recognize that the Assad regime has practically been the only one to protect the Christians. This is why now that the regime is restabilized in Syria, Greece tries to formulate a more concrete policy for the protection of Syrian Christians.”
A recurring theme on this site is that Americans have no idea of Israel’s real character, a rightwing society with a strong militarist authoritarian streak.
Jewish Israel is a lot like the Jim Crow south; Jews have more rights than Palestinians, including land and language, and Jews campaign for prime minister by promising voters they won’t let Palestinians into the government... Israel supporters don’t want that picture to get out in the U.S., because they will surely lose bipartisan political support for the $4 billion we send Israel every year, and the complete impunity we provide for Israel’s human rights violations. Israel needs to be as American as cherry pie.
An astonishing poll from Israel bears this idea out. Trump is backed more than three to one by Israeli Jews — 77 to 23 percent among those with an opinion. Israeli Jews love our president... Democratic leaders aren’t going to tell you that Israeli society overwhelmingly adores Donald Trump, because the Israel lobby is too important for the party. And Haaretz‘s reporting hasn’t shown up in the American papers, of course. Biden is doubling down on his love for Israel these days...
The sad truth is that if Biden wins, Israelis will like him fine. Because his policies won’t be so different from Trump’s..
Vladimir Putin stated on March 21 that the resolution of the UN Security Council on Libya was flawed. "The Security Council resolution is deficient and flawed; it allows everything and is reminiscent of a medieval call for a crusade," Putin told workers at a ballistic missile factory in the Urals region. "It effectively allows intervention in a sovereign state," RIA Novosti quoted him as saying. "Libya is a complex nation, which is based on the relations between the tribes", he also said.
The recently declassified emails of the former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, reveal that Russia and China strongly favored a political solution to the Libyan civil war in 2011.
An email date 4 April 2011 was sent by the US ambassador to the United Nations at that time, Susan Rice, to Clinton’s advisor Jacob Sullivan, which the latter then forwarded to Clinton.
In the email, Rice communicated the UN Security Council’s briefing on Libya and the subsequent closed consultations. China, India, and Russia were “most critical” of the NATO’s actions in Libya, Rice stated, before adding that they claimed that NATO overstepped the mandate established by 1973 and claimed that coalition airstrikes have injured civilians.
According to Rice, “the Russian [Permanent Representative] exclaimed that “violence only leads to violence,” and the Indian [Permanent Representative] expressed concern about the “talk” of “arming rebels or putting [foreign] boots on the ground”.
India also warned against “picking sides in a tribal society such as Libya’s and cautioned against taking actions that could lead to the division of the country,” according to the email...
A 2012 UN report concluded that NATO airstrikes led to the killing of dozens of civilians in Libya. A report by the British parliament, which was released in 2016, found that Muammar Gaddafi was not planning to massacre civilians in 2011, unlike what was claimed by the widespread reports at that time, which prompted the NATO intervention. The British parliament concluded that such reports was propagated by Libyan rebels and Western governments.
Between 2011 and today, many Western leaders who supported the military intervention in Libya nine years earlier have expressed some kind of regret about the war. But not a single Libyan politician went on the record to criticise NATO’s killing of civilians and the destruction of Libya. Former US President Barack Obama, whose administration participated and actively supported “humanitarian intervention”, regretted his decision.
In an interview with The Atlantic magazine published in 2014, he described the intervention as “the worst mistake” of his administration. Behind closed doors, he told The Atlantic reporter that it was a “shit show”.
The warmonger within his administration, Hillary Clinton, never regretted the disaster, despite the death of a US ambassador to Libya in 2012. Clinton, along with two other administration staff, drove Obama into the mess in Libya without any idea as to what to do once the government of Muammar Gaddafi was gone. French President Emmanuel Macron in a 2017 statement said that the war in Libya was wrong, describing his country’s intervention there as a “mistake”.
France, under former President Nicolas Sarkozy, led the military attack against Libya. The Sarkozy government, like many Western governments, justified its participation by claiming that it was implementing the United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1973, which vaguely authorised the war under the pretext of “protecting civilians”.
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi opposed the war too. In July of 2011, with the NATO bombardment of Libya in full swing, Berlusconi stated: “I was against this measure.” He said he was forced to go along with the vote of his country’s parliament in support of the war. Germany, too, was against the military intervention from the start, publicly rejecting any military intervention at the time.
Nine years on, and not a single Libyan opposition leader rejected the war in 2011.
Nine years on, and they still do not regret it, even as an unwise decision by Western governments to settle their score with the late Gaddafi, and not to help the Libyan people.
nato-leaders, a zionist, jabil and an ex-al-qaeda-leader, 2011
Former chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC) Mustafa Abdul Jalil set up a provisional government with the help of France in March 2011... In an interview a few days ago, Abdul Jalil expressed that he does not regret seeking help from “the Christians and Jews” to overthrow Gaddafi.
In the same interview, he also admitted to receiving $100,000 from Qatar – the leading Arab country championing NATO’s bombardment of Libya in 2011.
But why do Libyan politicians, populating the current political scene, never express regret for the war? There is a common belief among the political elite and militia leaders in Libya, particularly those who support the NATO campaign in 2011, that their own legitimacy is based on the fact that they welcomed NATO.
Supporting NATO’s war on Libya was a key source of legitimacy and criticising that role in any way means criticising the “revolution” itself, which is still taboo..
The entire political process in Libya has been poisoned and will always be linked to foreign powers, be it NATO or others...
Iran warned that any US attempt to impose unilateral restrictions on the Islamic Republic would breach the international law...
“It is clear that any US attempt to introduce its unilateral steps (sanctions) violates international law and is doomed to fail”, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told Sputnik in remarks published Thursday.
Khatibzadeh further noted that Iran considers Russia as one of its main partners in the military and defense field, saying the two countries can boost partnership as the UN arms embargo imposed on Tehran is now lifted.
“Over recent years, Russia has been one of Iran’s main partners in the defense and military fields. Now, with the lifting of arms restrictions, the two countries can enhance the prospects for military cooperation”, he said as cited by Tasnim news agency.
“Negotiations between Tehran and Moscow are ongoing within the framework of a joint commission for military cooperation. Partnership programs between the two countries’ authorities are developed through it, including those related to regional and international issues”, the spokesman added.
Any arms purchase from “friendly countries” will depend on the basic needs of Iran, the spokesman said, emphasizing that Tehran can obtain any kind of weapons and necessary equipment — “from any source” — without legal restrictions and only on the basis of its defense needs. Khatibzadeh further said that Iran does not favor any US presidential candidate and sees the upcoming vote as an internal matter for Washington.
Khatibzadeh also expressed the belief that Saudi Arabia was provoking regional tensions...
“Unfortunately, Riyadh has given its prestige and resources to the (US President Donald) Trump administration and has taken the wrong path (by) provoking war, bloodshed and imposing a blockade on regional countries, including Yemen and Qatar”, Khatibzadeh said.
Mohamed Baayou, head of the communication and media services of Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) announced a truce in the GNA’s media campaign against the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.
The announcement has sparked violent reactions from rival Islamists and militias in the Libyan capital, culminating in the kidnapping of Baayou and his children... Baayou was kidnapped by the Tripoli Revolutionaries, one of the major militias controlling the capital. His appointment to head the GNA’s information apparatus had been opposed by Islamist figures and others close to the Islamist current because he was affiliated with the former regime. Baayou took office September 10, and his first steps were to work towards ending Islamists' control of official media.
Baayou’s announcement of a media truce was part of the Geneva understandings aimed at building trust between Libyan factions by stopping hostilities on the ground and in the media. But Libyan sources said that stopping the daily media targeting of Haftar and his supporters came as a shock to the militias and Islamists, whose mere existence and survival depended on them attacking the LNA and its commander.
Baayou’s clan, the Awlad Baayou tribe in the city of Misrata, which enjoys significant political and military weight in western Libya, had set a deadline (which came to pass yesterday evening) for Ayoub Aburas, leader of the Tripoli Revolutionaries militia, to release their hostage and his children.
However, the plans of the militia and their external backers do not seem capable of halting the progress of the understandings sponsored by Washington. UN Envoy to Libya Stephanie Williams announced on Wednesday that the two parties to the Libyan conflict had reached a series of tentative and preliminary agreements in order to settle the crisis.
Williams emphasised that the new agreements reached between the two military delegations representing the GNA and the LNA in the Geneva negotiations include the reopening of land routes and domestic flights and facilitating communication between regions to allow finding solutions to the issue of exchanging detainees of both sides. The two sides agreed “to support and continue the current calm on the frontlines and to avoid any military escalation” and to take steps towards “the restructuring of the Petroleum Facilities Guards which will ensure the increase and continuation of the flow of oil.” Williams declared that she was "very optimistic" that a permanent ceasefire could be reached in the country.
Warring factions in Libya have agreed to a "permanent" ceasefire following talks, the United Nations said on Friday. The agreement came after five days of discussions in Geneva between representatives of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA).
"The Libyan parties have reached a permanent ceasefire agreement throughout Libya," said Stephanie Williams, head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). "This achievement represents an important turning point towards peace and stability in Libya."
The signing of the agreement on Friday, which comes after accelerated discussions around a ceasefire in recent weeks, lasted about 10 minutes and was followed by a round of applause.
“We have had enough suffering, enough bloodshed..., we hope we will change the suffering on all the territories of Libya, especially in the south," said Ali Abushahma, the head of the delegation for the GNA, according to the Associated Press. “I appeal to all Libya: Be one hand." According to UNSMIL, the rival groups agreed to form a joint military force under a unified command.
Williams said the deal also called for "the departure of all mercenaries and foreign fighters from all Libyan territories, land, air and sea, within a maximum period of three months from today".
"The ceasefire does not apply to UN-designated terrorist groups," she added.
The order for Iraqi armed factions to halt their attacks on US interests last week came directly from Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Middle East Eye can reveal.
According to commanders of Shia armed factions and politicians, Khamenei’s orders were “explicit” and demanded the paramilitaries “immediately” cease their attacks. Tehran has seen the need to give Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s government some respite.
Already it is grappling with a financial crisis sparked by low oil prices, as well as the coronavirus pandemic, and the uncertainty surrounding the government’s collapse would cause Iran a fresh headache.
"Calming the Iraqi street, preserving the Iraqi government and the political process is the priority now. Therefore, it was decided to suspend all attacks targeting US interests in Iraq until the danger passes," a prominent commander of one of the armed factions told MEE.
Representatives of Reform Jewish communities across North America warned Thursday that the implementation of an agreement that would effectively strip the progressive Zionist movements and parties of influence in key institutions would have dire consequences for Israel’s relations with the Diaspora.
More than 1,600 leaders and members of Reform congregations in the United States and Canada, issued the warning in an urgent letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, sent a few hours ahead of a pivotal vote on the agreement at the World Zionist Congress.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu [...], “we know that you are well aware of the implications of the agreement that is currently being formed in the World Zionist Congress,” they wrote. “It is an extreme agreement that will bar the liberal Jewish Zionist movements and organizations from all positions of influence, leaving a large part of the Jewish people around the world unrepresented.” The so-called “coalition agreement,” drafted by leaders of the right-wing and rigidly Orthodox delegations to the congress, “rattles the hearts of Diaspora Jews,” the letter said. “We feel that the State of Israel is again demeaning the majority of Jews in the world who are non-Orthodox.”
British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has asked his publisher, Continuum, to stop promoting and printing The Dignity of Difference until he has completed revisions for a second edition. His decision followed growing charges from a broad spectrum of the Orthodox community, including his own mainstream United Synagogue movement, that the views he expressed could be regarded as heretical.
Sacks wrote that "God has spoken to mankind in many languages: through Judaism to Jews, Christianity to Christians, Islam to Muslims."
He went on to assert that "no one creed has a monopoly on spiritual truth; no one civilization encompasses all the spiritual, ethical, and artistic expressions of mankind... "
Bezalel Rakow and Joseph Dunner, leaders of Britain's haredi community, declared that the book is "irreconcilable with traditional Jewish teachings" in an advertisement published in London's Jewish Chronicle. Any implications that Judaism does not contain absolute truth represents a grave deviation from the pathways of traditional and authentic Judaism."
"A victory for the dinosaurs"
British chief rabbi revises controversial book
By Richard Allen Greene, Jewish Telegraph, March 16, 2003
In the second edition of “The Dignity of Difference,” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks removed statements suggesting that Christianity and Islam are as valid as Judaism.
The publication of the first edition in August 2002 sparked a storm of criticism from fervently Orthodox rabbis in Britain and Israel.... There even were rumors that Sacks would face charges of apostasy.
To the dismay of many British Jews, Sacks backed down and let it be known in November that he would issue a revised edition of his book.
Rabbi Jeremy Rosen, director of Yakar, an Orthodox Jewish study center in London, said he is disappointed that Sacks retreated.
“I am very disappointed that the thinking side of Torah Judaism allowed itself to be bullied by the side that has no philosophical training,” he told JTA. Reform Rabbi Jonathan Romain echoed Rosen’s view, calling the new edition of the book “a victory for the dinosaurs.”
The Trump administration is considering declaring that several prominent international NGOs — including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam — are anti-Semitic and that governments should not support them, two people familiar with the issue said. The proposed declaration could come from the State Department as soon as this week.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is pushing for the declaration, according to a congressional aide with contacts inside the State Department. Pompeo is eyeing a future presidential run and he has taken a number of steps to gain favor with pro-Israel and evangelical voters who make up a key part of Trump’s electoral base. Spokespersons for the State Department did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Wednesday.
A former State Department official with contacts on the inside confirmed the basics of the declaration and said it could be released shortly. The declaration is expected to take the form of a report from the office of Elan Carr, the U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism.
The report would declare that it is U.S. policy not to support such groups, including financially, and urge other governments to cease their support.
The groups named have all been critical to one degree or another of Israel’s settlement policies and its treatment of the Palestinians, and pro-Israel organizations have claimed that the groups’ actions constitute support for the BDS movement and are thus anti-Semitic.
Elan S. Carr serves as the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. As Special Envoy, he advises the Secretary of State and is responsible for directing U.S. policies and projects aimed at countering anti-Semitism throughout the world.
Special Envoy Carr is an officer in the United States Army Reserve... In 2003-04, he deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, where he led an anti-terrorism team and prosecuted terrorists who attacked U.S. troops.
As the son of Iraqi Jewish refugees who fled persecution in Iraq, Special Envoy Carr speaks Hebrew and the Iraqi dialect of Arabic.
iraq 2003: us army in the presidential palace
While in Iraq, he met with remnants of the Jewish community there and led Jewish services in the former presidential palace of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. Special Envoy Carr served on the National Council of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)...
The Mufti of Damascus, Sheikh Mohammad Adnan Afiouni, was killed on Thursday after a roadside bomb was detonated along a road in rural Damascus.
The Syrian media circulated scenes showing the car of the Mufti of Damascus and the area where the blast occurred after his vehicle was destroyed as a result of being targeted by an explosive device.
Scenes and photos show a four-wheel-drive jeep, its features almost disappeared, and was completely destroyed by the explosion. Adnan al-Afiouni, a Sunni Muslim, was considered to be close to President Bashar Assad, who hails from the Alawite offshoot of Shiite Islam.
He was a prominent figure who worked to achieve national reconciliation in southern and western Damascus, and he made great efforts in 2015 to push the militants in the Qudsaya and Hamah areas to separate from the Al-Nusra Front and surrender their weapons, and return to their normal lives.
He was one of the mediators of the 2016 deal under which rebel fighters in Daraya, a key town in the Damascus suburbs, surrendered after a four-year grueling siege and military campaign. The rebel fighters and remaining residents were evacuated to the northwestern province of Idlib and government forces entered the destroyed town in 2016. Bashar Assad appointed Afiouni in 2019 to head the newly-founded Islamic al-Sham Center to combat terrorism.
At the time, Afiouni said the center — which was to teach and train Islamic clerics while aiming to also host international scholars — would play a role to reform extremist ideas spread during the years of the conflict.
Minister of Religious Endowments (Awqaf), Mohammad Abdull-Sattar al-Sayyed on Friday participated in the funeral procession of Sheikh Mohammad Adnan al-Afyouni, Mufti of Damascus and it its countryside. The funeral started from the great Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.
The Minister said that the martyrs have written with their blood and spirits the glory of their homeland. Al-Sayyed reminded of President al-Assad’s speech that the scholars have proved their patriotism and responsibility, and in this war they were subjected to tremendous pressures that no one was exposed to, but they remained firm and presented sacrifices and uttered the word of truth and based on that we call al-Afouyni as the martyr of the word of truth.
Dr. Ahmed Badr Al-Din Hassoun, the Grand Mufti of the Republic and a crowd of citizens and clerics participated in the event.
US President Donald Trump announced Friday that Sudan has agreed to open full diplomatic relations with Israel, making it the third nation in recent months to do so after Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Anadolu Agency reports.
White House spokesman Judd Deere confirmed the move, saying on Twitter it marks “another major step toward building peace in the Middle East with another nation joining the Abraham Accords.”
The “Abraham Accords” is the name given to pacts brokered by Trump that have seen Arab nations normalize ties with Israel.
Prior to the UAE and Bahrain doing so in recent months, Egypt and Jordan were the sole Arab nations to have relations with Tel Aviv. Egypt did so in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.
The White House statement came after Trump, Sudanese Chairman of the Sovereignty Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by telephone.
The Sudan announcement came shortly after Trump formally notified Congress of his intent to rescind Khartoum’s placement on the US’s state sponsors of terrorism list.
The decision followed the east African country’s transfer of $335 million into an escrow account for the victims of past terror attacks and their families, spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.
Following Sudan’s removal, the list will be comprised of only three nations: Iran, Syria and North Korea.
the axis of evil
PLO: "A new stab in the back"
Palestinians say Arab countries have set back the cause of peace by abandoning a long-standing demand that Israel give up land for a Palestinian state before it can receive recognition.
“The Palestinian presidency stresses its condemnation and its rejection to normalization of ties with the state of the Israeli occupation, which occupies the land of Palestine,” said a statement published by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s office, in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Wasel Abu Youssef, a senior member of Abbas’s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said Sudan’s move “represents a new stab in the back of the Palestinian people and a betrayal of the just Palestinian cause”.
In Gaza, a Palestinian territory controlled by the Islamist group Hamas, a spokesman for the group, Fawzi Barhoum, told Reuters Sudan’s move was a step in the “wrong direction”. Sudan, under President Omar Bashir who was deposed last year after 30 years in power, was long an ally of Hamas.
“Sudan joining other countries in normalizing ties with the Israeli occupation will encourage the Zionist enemy to commit more crimes and more violations against the Palestinian people,” said Barhoum. (Reuters info)
Angry Sudanese protesters have taken to the streets to condemn the current junta's decision to follow the UAE and Bahrain in forging diplomatic relations with Israel.
They rallied in the capital Khartoum Friday evening, calling on Sudan’s Sovereign Council chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan to reject the normalization deal.
“No to negotiations, peace ... and reconciliation with the [Israeli] regime,” they chanted. “We are standing with Palestine,” they cried as they set the Israeli flag on fire. Numerous Sudanese political parties also lined up to declare their outright rejection of the normalization agreement between their country and Israel, stressing they are going to form a front to oppose the move.
Sudanese Ba'ath Party, the Sudanese Communist Party, National Consensus Forces (NCF) – a coalition of political parties - the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) alliance, the Popular Congress Party as well as Sudan Change Now political movement stated that they are fiercely against any relationship between Khartoum and Tel Aviv. Spokesman for the Sudanese Baath Party Muhammad Wadaa highlighted that there are consultations and meetings on how to stand against the normalization.
“Normalization with Israel is an unacceptable step… The government is not authorized to take such a measure with a usurping and racist regime, which practices religious discrimination,” he said. Wadaa lashed out at the Sudanese government over making normalization with Israel a condition for resolving economic woes.
“The government must not have invoked to sell the country and Sudan's history on the pretext of economic difficulties,” he said. Sudan’s acting foreign minister Omar Gamareldin said on Friday the accord will depend on approval from its yet-to-be formed legislative council.
It is unclear when the assembly will be formed under a power-sharing deal between the country’s military officers and civilians.
Flashback: Baath protest 19-10-2020
The Sudanese Baath Party reiterated on Sunday its support for Palestinian rights amidst repeated reports about normalisation of ties with Israel. The Baathists are a partner in Sudan’s ruling coalition. The party said that it is insisting on the “three Nos of Khartoum” decided by the Arab League following the 1967 Six Day War: No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations with Israel.
“Resisting the pressure of the Americans and Zionists… overcoming crises and ending American sanctions are based on mobilising people’s power,” it insisted in response to reports that Sudanese officials have said that Sudan is seeking to normalise ties with Israel in return for ending US sanctions and overcoming the country’s crises. (Middle East Monitor info)
An essential aspect of Arab nationalism is its humanism. Well-being and the development of human capacities are central. Michel Aflaq, the chief ideologue of earlier Arab socialist and pan-Arabist parties in the 1940s and 1950s compares nationalism to the ‘soil’ or ‘theatre’ of humanit. Humanism is rooted in the idea of the Arab mission. Humanism is, on his view, part and parcel of Arab nationalism:
“Humanism is not a social or political condition that can be achieved materially in history, but a spirit, direction, ideals that take root in the constitution of the peoples and nations, colour their cultures and orient their conduct and morals. Humanism, therefore, accompanies nationalism and is not its follower.”
Aflaq sought to distance Arab nationalism from the western origins of nationalism, and the bloody forms that nationalism often took there.
“The similarity between us and the West is in fact very remote or non-existent… Our nationalist movement…started as the most humane response to the oppression of man by man […], to the human condition as a whole. This nationalism has emerged ripened by all the sufferings sustained by us as if we sustained them on behalf of all the peoples of the earth.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the continued presence of American troops in Afghanistan is beneficial for overall security.
"Initially, we backed US forces’ presence in Afghanistan and earlier voted in favor of a respective UN Security Council resolution. I still believe that US presence in Afghanistan does not run counter to our external interests," Putin said in an interview with "Moscow. Kremlin. Putin" program on Rossiya-1 TV channel.
"On the contrary, when it was announced that the Americans are preparing to withdraw their military contingent - yes, our official position is that maybe this creates additional conditions for a kind of Afghan reconciliation - but I personally think that this creates many risks," Putin said.
"First, we will have to spend more to maintain stability and second, no matter what, still US presence in Afghanistan contributes to stability in the country and their exit creates risks," the Russian leader explained. "We don’t have to fight against the Americans’ presence there."
Putin noted that the two countries’ special services continued working in this direction. "We are cooperating with the US despite numerous contradictions on a lot of areas, still cooperation at the level of special services is underway," he said. In particular, this is cooperation on de-conflicting in Syria and a very good working contact was established at the operational level and at the level of military units’ chiefs.
According to Putin, the Americans share data on anti-terror with their Russian colleagues. "We view the Americans’ effort in Afghanistan as an anti-terrorist effort," Putin stressed.
Nearly half the respondents in an Arab News/YouGov poll conducted in 18 Middle East and Africa (MENA) countries believe neither candidate in the upcoming US elections will necessarily be good for the region.
Of the rest, 40 percent said Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden would be better for the region while 12 percent said the same thing about incumbent President Donald Trump.
But a key takeaway of the poll is that if Biden, who served as vice president to Barack Obama until 2017, wins the White House race, he would be well advised to shed the Obama administration baggage.
When asked about policies implemented in the Middle East under the Obama administration, the most popular response (53 percent) was that the Democratic president left the region worse off, with another 58 percent saying Biden should distance himself from Obama-era policies.
The study surveyed a sample of 3,097 respondents online to find out how people in the MENA region feel about the Nov. 3 US elections.
Containing Iran was found to be one of the top four issues that respondents wanted the next US president to focus on.
Strong support for Trump both maintaining a war posture against Iran and imposing strict sanctions against the Tehran regime was noticed in Iraq (53 percent) and Yemen (54 percent)...
President Trump’s 2017 decision to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem proved overwhelmingly unpopular, with 89 percent of Arabs opposing it.
Arab opinion was largely split on the elimination this year of Qassem Soleimani, with the single largest proportion of respondents from Iraq (57 percent) and Lebanon (41 percent) seeing it as a positive move, as opposed to those in Syria and Qatar, where most respondents — respectively 57 percent and 62 percent — saw it as negative for the region...
Among other findings, Arabs remain overwhelmingly concerned about such challenges as failed government (66 percent) and the economic slowdown (43 percent).
Close to half of the respondents (44 percent) would like to see the next US president focus on empowering young people in the Arab region and solving the Arab-Israeli conflict (44 percent).
Arab News, the Middle East’s leading international English-language daily, entered in 2017 an exclusive partnership with the globally-acclaimed online polling firm YouGov. The deal will see YouGov conduct regular polls relating to the Middle East and North Africa, which will help shed light on regional sentiment toward international events, as well as producing credible research on international opinion on Arab affairs.
One of the last surviving senior figures in the government of former Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein has died, according to an announcement by the Iraqi Baath Party. Ezzat Ibrahim al-Douri, arguably the most high-profile Saddam Hussein-era officials to evade capture in the wake of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, had made infrequent public appearences in recent years. The exact circumstances of his death remain unknown.
In a statement released on Facebook, the now-banned Iraqi Arab Socialist Baath Party described Douri as "the knight of the Baath and the Iraqi national resistance" and said he had joined Hussein and other fallen Baathists in the afterlife.
"In the face of this momentous event, we are confident, fellow militant comrades, that you will follow the will of our late comrade who called us all to abide by principles, to be patient and calm, and to adhere to the principles of the Baath, its ethics, organisational traditions and values, to continue, perpetuate and enhance the momentum of our struggle for our people," said the statement.
Born near Tikrit to humble beginnings, Douri first became a government minister in 1968 under Hussein's predecessor, President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, following the 17 July coup that brought the Baath Party to power.
Over the next 35 years, as a government official and vice-chairman of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council, Douri became one of Hussein's most loyal henchmen, and played major roles in the wars with Iran and Kuwait.
During this period, Douri was able to build support in Iraq for the Naqshbandi Order, a sufi organisation to which he belonged. In 2006, following Hussein's execution, he was proclaimed the new leader of the Baath Party.
Around the same time, the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order emerged as an armed group - thought to be led by Douri - espousing a mixture of Islamic and Baathist ideology in opposition to the occupation forces.
In a 2017 interview with Tunisian newspaper Acharaa al-Maghrebi, he appeared to deny allegations that former Baathists had made up the primary bulk of IS and Al-Qaeda.
"Saying that the members of [IS] are officers from the Iraqi army is unacceptable because it is intended as an insult primarily to the Baath Party and then the great Iraqi Army and the national regime," he told the newspaper.
The last appearance of Douri was in a video in April 2019, in which he apologised for Iraq's 1991 invasion of Kuwait.
"Kuwait is not part of Iraq," he said, in contrast to the beliefs of many Iraqi nationalists. "Iraq and Kuwait are part of the Peninsula, which is part of the larger Arab nation."
The Naqshbandi Army
The Naqshbandi Army preserved the Baathist leadership in what its supporters describe as working within a Sufi framework.
The Naqshbandi Order is the largest Sufi order and is spread in Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Kurdistan, and the rest of the countries of northern Iraq. The Naqshbandi Army is led by former Iraqi vice president under Saddam Hussein, Izzat al-Duri, and was established in 2007.
The Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order (JRTN) was originally composed mainly of groups wishing to restore the old order under the Ba'athist ideology. It is a Sufi Islamic organization with Iraqi and Arab nationalist tendencies.
'Since the JRTN is led by Saddam's former deputy Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, and contains many former Ba'athists, Arab Nationalism, Arab Socialism, Ba'athism as well as Sufi Islamism and Sunni Islamism have all become an important part of its ideology.
The group's links to both Sufism and its embrace of violence is controversial as many Sufi followers believe Sufism to be strongly opposed to violence. The group has declared itself to be fighting to maintain Iraq's unity, along with its Arab and Islamic character. As such, the group can be seen as pursuing a nationalistic, as opposed to religious, line.
The group recognises a direct return to Baathist control is impossible; the group instead focuses on infiltrating former Baathists into positions of power to try to dominate a future nationalist government. The group then wishes to portray itself, and the wider Baath party, as a technocratic alternative to a currently incompetent Islamist government that is incapable of delivering services. (Wikipedia info)
A return to Arab Nationalism
April 2015 Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri released a rare audio recording just days before the alleged ISIS executions in which he slammed ISIS and called for a return to Arab nationalism.
“The bitterest enemies of the nation are the followers of takfiri ideas because they do not recognize the Arab nation,” Al-Mada Press cited Douri as saying Sunday in a voice recording released by a pro-Baathist website.
“Many friends wrote to me [suggesting] that we [should] incline towards the ideas and the doctrine of those who want religious ideas that endanger Shiites and Sunnis to spread.”
“I told them we would not turn away from progressive, emancipatory Arab nationalist ideas.”
Behind the word "Naqshband" stand two ideas:
(1) naqsh which means "engraving" and suggests engraving the name of Allah in the heart, and (2) band which means "bond" and indicates the link between the individual and his Creator.
This means that the Naqshbandi follower has to practice his prayers and obligations according to the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (s) and to keep the presence and love of Allah alive in his heart through a personal experience of the link between himself and his Lord. (sufimeditationcenter)
US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft told the UN Security Council on Monday that the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 “is no longer needed”, Al-Watan Voice reported.
Kraft said: “[US President Donald] Trump’s experience has led to peace, our vision is possible, and we have done a lot of work to present the peace plan and it is full of details.”
She added: “The Arab initiative of 2002 is no longer needed. The deal of the century opened new horizons for the Palestinians.”
“We encourage our regional partners and the members of this body to thoughtfully consider the United States Vision for Peace and to play a constructive role in encouraging direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians on its basis.”
The senior US official argued: “We cannot keep doing what we have been doing and expect things to change. We are failing the Israeli and Palestinian people.”
Meanwhile, the UN regarded the continuous Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, which escalated following the announcement of the peace deals between the Arabs and Israel, as hindering an prospects for peace.
“While the location of these units is particularly worrying, I reiterate that all settlements are illegal under international law and remain a substantial obstacle to peace,” Nickolay Mladenov, UN special coordinator for the Middle East Peace process, told the UN Security Council from Jerusalem.
Labour leader Keir Starmer suspended former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, alongside whom he served as a senior member of his front bench team for several years, and in an especially sensitive post.
And for what?
Last night, it was not even clear what rule Corbyn was supposed to have broken. And while the media establishment is busy eviscerating the political corpse of Jeremy Corbyn, a closer look at the actual content of Thursday's report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission suggests he’s been done an injustice.
The press – en masse – has taken it as a resounding vindication of the dominant narrative of the last four years - that Corbyn abjectly failed to deal with an upsurge in antisemitism in the Labour Party after 2015, either because he was blind to the prejudices of his followers, or he was subject to them himself....
The veteran British foreign correspondent Robert Fisk has died at the age of 74. Fisk had been admitted to hospital after suffering a suspected stroke, according to a report in the Irish Times.
Described by the New York Times in 2005 as “probably the most famous foreign correspondent in Britain", Fisk won many prestigious awards during his career for his coverage of the Middle East. These included the Orwell Prize for Journalism and multiple accolades at the British Press Awards.
Responding to the news of his death, Micheal Martin, the Irish taoiseach, tweeted: “Saddened tonight to hear of the death of journalist Robert Fisk. He was fearless & independent in his reporting, with a deeply researched understanding of the complexities of Middle Eastern history and politics. He helped many people understand those complexities better. RIP.”
After beginning his career at the Sunday Express, Fisk moved to the Times where, from 1972 to 1975, he was the paper’s Belfast correspondent at the height of the Northern Ireland troubles. In 1976 he moved to Beirut where he began his career as a Middle East correspondent, covering the Lebanese civil war, the Iranian revolution, the Iran-Iraq War and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
He joined the Independent in 1989, and remained their correspondent in the region until his death. Fisk was a controversial figure, particularly following his coverage of the ongoing Syrian war, where he was accused of pro-Bashar al-Assad bias...
The fighters who bashed their way into the lovely old streets west of the great citadel in Aleppo were, from all accounts, a ragtag bunch. Their graffiti – “We are the Brigades of 1980, the year when the first Muslim Brotherhood rising threatened the empire of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafez – was still on the walls of the Syrian-Armenian hotels and silver shops...
Syrian Foreign Minister Muallem: "I tell the Europeans: 'I don't understand your slogan about the welfare of the Syrian people when you are supporting 17 resolutions against the welfare of the Syrian people'. And I tell the Americans: 'You must read well what you did in Afghanistan and Somalia. I don't understand your slogan of fighting international terrorism when you are supporting this terrorism in Syria'."
Mohamed Amin Ali al-Abdullah was a 26-year-old fourth-year medical student from the northern Syrian city of Deir el-Zour... He said he had followed medical advice as a student but also accepted psychological help from a "sheikh" who suggested he read specific texts from the Koran.
"This was a kind of entrance to my personality and from time to time the second man gave me disks about the Salafist cause, mostly of speeches by Saudi sheikhs such as Ibn Baz and Ibn Ottaimin. Later, he gave me videos that rejected all other sects in Islam, attacking the Sufis, attacking the Shia."
Washington’s decision to arm Syria’s Sunni Muslim rebels has plunged America into a great Sunni-Shia conflict... All of America’s ‘friends’ in the region are Sunni Muslims and all of its enemies are Shiites. Breaking all President Barack Obama’s rules of disengagement, the US is now fully engaged on the side of armed groups which include the most extreme Sunni Islamist movements in the Middle East....
In years to come, historians will ask how America could have so blithely aligned itself with one side in a titanic Islamic struggle...
If the FSA really do want to polish off their former fundamentalist allies, then their obvious ally is the chap in the presidential palace in Damascus. Bashar would be only too ready, surely, to help the FSA against the regime’s Islamist “terrorist” antagonists – and maybe offer the FSA a dignified reunification with the government army. Regime intelligence officers have for more than a year held regular meetings with FSA officers to try and woo them back to Bashar...
Before the stupidest Western war in the history of the modern world begins – I am, of course, referring to the attack on Syria that we all now have to swallow – it might be as well to say that the Cruise missiles which we confidently expect to sweep onto one of mankind’s oldest cities have absolutely nothing to do with Syria.
They are intended to harm Iran. They are intended to strike at the Islamic Republic now that it has a new and vibrant president and when it just might be a little more stable...
Iran is Israel’s enemy. Iran is therefore, naturally, America’s enemy....
The US has been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of Israel.. The biggest Israeli lobby group, Aipac (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), is in fact the agent of a foreign government and has a stranglehold on Congress – so much so that US policy towards Israel is not debated there – and the lobby monitors and condemns academics who are critical of Israel....
Since Gaddafi's fall in 2011, vast quantities of his abandoned Soviet-made arms have fallen into the hands of rebel groups and al-Qa'ida-affiliated insurgents. Many were later found in Mali, some in Algeria and a vast amount in Sinai. The Syrians have long claimed that a substantial amount of Soviet-made weaponry has made its way from Libya into the hands of rebels in the country's civil war with the help of Qatar – which supported the Libyan rebels against Gaddafi and now pays for arms shipments to Syrian insurgents....
For months now, pro-regime officials have explored how they might win the army defectors back to their side – and the growth of al-Nusra and other Islamist groups has certainly disillusioned many thousands of FSA men who feel that their own revolution against the government has been stolen from them...
These are hard times for the Israeli right. Used to bullying the US – and especially its present, shallow leader – the Likudists suddenly find that the whole world wants peace in the Middle East rather than war.
Brits and Americans [the people, that is, not the leaders. - Ed.] didn’t want to go to war in Syria. Now, the Americans (75 per cent, if we are to believe the polls) don’t want to go to war with Iran either. ...
Israel Hayom, the Likudist freesheet, dredged up – yet again – the old pre-Second World War appeasement argument that the Israeli right have been reheating for well over 30 years. “A Munich wind blows in the west,” the paper said.
Well, God bless Barack Obama – he’s found some “moderate” rebels in Syria. Enough to supply them with weapons and training worth $500m. Congress wants to arm these brave freedom fighters, you see....
Who are the “moderate” rebels whom Obama wants to train and arm? He doesn’t name them – and he can’t, because the original “moderates” whom America swore to arm (with the help of the CIA, the Brits, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey) were the so-called “Free Syrian Army”, mostly composed of deserters from Assad’s government forces. But the FSA – briefly beloved of John McCain until he discovered a pro-al-Qa’ida fighter sharing a photo-op with him in northern Syria – has decomposed.... What’s left of the FSA has been fighting the Islamist Isis-Isil forces...
A thousand acres of Palestinian land stolen by the Israeli government – and the world has made the usual excuses. The Americans found it “counter-productive” to peace, which is probably a bit less forceful than its reaction would be if Mexico were to bite off a 1,000-acre chunk of Texas and decided to build homes there for its illegal immigrants in the US...
This latest land-grab not only reduces “Palestine” but continues the circle of concrete around Jerusalem to cut Palestinians off from both the capital they are supposed to share with Israelis and from Bethlehem...
Anyone who has studied Syria from afar, let alone those who go there, know that the fictional “moderate opposition” – supposedly deserters from the Syrian government army – does not exist.
Corrupted, disillusioned, murdered or simply re-defected towards Isis or some other al-Qaeda outfit, the old “Free Syrian Army” is now a myth as ridiculous as Mussolini’s boast that the Italian army could defeat the British in North Africa...
The FSA, John Kerry said, had been fighting Isis for two years – in Idlib, Aleppo, around Damascus and Deir Ezzor – while the Syrian government, Kerry insisted, is not fighting or will not fight Isis. This is nonsense. Most of the Syrian army’s 35,000 dead were killed in action against al-Qaeda and Isis. And the only other boots-on-the-ground forces confronting Isis are the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards alongside the Kurds...
Why such an epic explosion of violence? It feels strange to ask these questions of Dr Bouthaina Shaaban, one of President Bashar al-Assad’s close advisers and former translator to his father, Hafez.
“Right from the beginning of this crisis, I never truly felt that the issue was about President Assad,” she says. “It was about the weakening and destruction of Syria.
There has been so much destruction – of hospitals, schools, factories, government institutions, you name it. I think the Americans take their battles against leaders and presidents – but only as a pretext to destroy countries.
“The purpose is to change the nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Arab-Israeli conflict is the crux of all that is going on in the Middle East.
This is a major dimension of the cause of the ‘Arab Spring’. In fact I call it an ‘Israeli Spring’.”
The Syrian military, undermanned and undergunned a few months ago, has suddenly moved on to the offensive. Earlier this year, we may remember, this same army was being written off, the Bashar al-Assad government said to be reaching its final days.
We employed our own army of clichés to make the case for regime change. The Syrian army was losing ground – at Jisr al-Shugour and at Palmyra – and so we predicted that the whole Assad state had reached a “tipping point”.
Then along came Vladimir Putin with his air and missile fleets and suddenly the whole place is transformed. While we huffed and puffed that the Russians were bombing the “moderate” rebels – moderates who had earlier ceased to exist according to America’s top generals – we’ve been paying no attention to the military offensive which the Syrians themselves are now staging against the Nusra Front fighters around Aleppo and in the valley of the Orontes...
"After losing up to 60,000 soldiers in five years of fighting, the Syrian army has suddenly scored its greatest victory of the war – smashing its way through Jabhat al-Nusra and the other rebel forces around Aleppo and effectively sealing its fate as Russia provided air strike operations outside the city," English journalist Robert Fisk asserted.
Thanks to Russia's military engagement, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has in recent weeks turned the tide of the war against numerous radical groups, who are trying to oust Bashar al-Assad.
How outrageous that our compassion should dry up the moment we realised that the latest massacre of the innocents wasn’t quite worth the same amount of tears and fury that the early massacre had produced. In fact it wasn’t worth a single tear.
For the 126 Syrians – almost all of them civilians – who have just been killed outside Aleppo, were Shia Muslims being evacuated from two government-held villages in the north of Syria.. And their killer was obviously from al-Nusra (al-Qaeda) or one of the Sunni “rebel” groups we in the West have armed and thus didn’t qualify for our sorrow... They didn’t count. Their “beautiful little babies” – I quote Trump on the earlier gas victims – didn’t stir us to anger.
This is the story of a town called Douma [..] and of an underground clinic whose images of suffering allowed three of the Western world’s most powerful nations to bomb Syria last week.
It was a short walk to Dr Assim Rahaibani: “I was with my family in the basement of my home three hundred metres from here on the night but all the doctors know what happened. There was a lot of shelling [by government forces] and aircraft were always over Douma at night – but on this night, there was wind and huge dust clouds began to come into the basements and cellars where people lived. People began to arrive here suffering from hypoxia, oxygen loss.
Then someone at the door, a “White Helmet”, shouted “Gas!”, and a panic began. People started throwing water over each other. Yes, the video was filmed here, it is genuine, but what you see are people suffering from hypoxia – not gas poisoning.”
“Israel is becoming one of the most ignorant countries in the world,” Gideon Levy - Haaretz correspondent - says. “Someone said it’s better to keep the people ignorant … The young generation know nothing about nothing.
Try to talk here with young people – they’ve no idea. The most basic things – ask them who was Ben Gurion, ask them who was Moshe Dayan. Ask them what is the ‘Green Line’. Ask them where is Jenin. Nothing. Even before the brainwashing, the ignorance – part of what they know is totally wrong.” [...]
"Israel is very nationalistic and very right wing and very religious – much more than you think – and the Israeli government is a very good reflection of the Israeli people...
So now I guess we’ve all run out of excuses. Bibi Netanyahu’s Israel will not be a new and more right-wing Israel. It’s been that for a long time. It’s the propaganda that’s going to fall to bits.
The only democracy in the Middle East? Give me a break...
Israel dominates its own Arab minority, and its new prime minister has promised to annex much of the territory legally belonging to their fellow Palestinian Arabs – the very colonies built on lands which have already been stolen for the majority Jewish population in Israel. Including Jerusalem, that comes to around 5,700 square kilometres, just a third the size of Kuwait – for which we all went to war when Saddam Hussein annexed the emirate in 1990. Now that the Israelis have voted Netanyahu and his outrageous party allies back into power, they too have sacrificed their souls to Bibi...
So no more propaganda. No more excuses. No more camouflage. No more special pleading. We know where we stand. So do the Arabs. So should the Israelis.
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