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)
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)
"The post-September 11 era in the US has heralded in a new age of ideology whose discourse and world views have served not only to accommodate such extremist views as those held by Sharon, but also to provide him with a platform and an influence that were unthinkable only a year ago.
Thus while the American President is busy devising a new Manichean universe of absolute good and absolute evil, pronouncing policy on the basis of a simplistic polarization of the world, and unilaterally defining the terms while categorizing state and non-state actors accordingly, Sharon’s Israel has maneuvered itself into a position of even greater power on the world stage provided explicitly by the US."
"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)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has hoped that the new US administration will take a lesson from the Iranian nation’s resistance against Washington’s "economic terrorism".
Iran has has been the target of the most draconian sanctions regime since the Trump administration quit an international nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic in 2018.
In comments Saturday, President Rouhani expressed his gratitude to the Iranian people for showing “significant and unique” resistance, patience and withstanding over the past three years in the face of America’s economic terrorism.
“I hope the next US administration will take a lesson from this three-year experience, abide by the law and return to all its obligations, so that the dear Iranian people will see and feel the reward of their patience and resistance,” Rouhani said.
Under President Donald Trump, relations between Tehran and Washington were always on a precipitous downslide. With Trump most likely leaving the White House, there are already questions about the future shape of the Iran-US relations.
Rouhani said, “The decision of our country has always been clear in any circumstances. The Iranian nation will continue its resistance and patience until the opposite side bows down to law and regulations.”
“We hope that the situation will be such that those sanctioning [Iran] will realize that their path is wrong and that they will never achieve their objectives," he said.
Jeremy Ben-Ami, Israeli/Palestinian Conflict Resolution, 20 jul. 2011
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami issued a statement in response to the assassination of senior Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
"The assassination of a senior Iranian nuclear scientist appears to be an attempt to sabotage the ability of the incoming Biden administration to re-enter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)", Ben-Ami wrote, "as well as the chances of further diplomacy, either by limiting the political leeway of Iranian officials who want to restore the deal, or by triggering an escalation leading to military confrontation".
Ben-Ami claims that "those who oppose the JCPOA will stop at nothing to kill the agreement once and for all, despite repeatedly being proven wrong about the deal’s success in blocking Iran’s paths to a nuclear weapon and the disastrous consequences of Donald Trump’s violation of the pact".
"The facts speak for themselves", Ben-Ami continues, "Iran now has twelve times as much enriched uranium as when Trump took office. Its forces have openly launched missiles at US troops. The Iranian people — suffering cruel sanctions in the midst of a pandemic — blame the United States rather than their own government’s hardliners for their predicament".
The J Street president says that "thankfully, change is on the way", but states that for President-elect Biden to have a real opportunity to restore and build on the JCPOA, "others must step up in the remaining weeks of the defeated Trump administration".
"We call on Congress to make clear that it supports diplomacy as the primary means to address threats emanating from Iran", Ben-Ami concludes, "beginning with the restoration of the JCPOA.
We call on our allies around the world to seek calm and refrain from any actions that would further escalate tensions. We call on the Iranian government not to respond to the provocation of the assassination, and exercise restraint in anticipation of responsible, competent American leadership again being in place".
About J Street
J Street organizes pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans to promote US policies that embody our deeply held Jewish and democratic values...
We believe that only a negotiated resolution agreed to by Israelis and Palestinians can meet the legitimate needs and national aspirations of both peoples.
Working in the American political system, in the Jewish community and with others with whom we share core values, we advocate for diplomacy-first American leadership and policies that advance justice, equality, peace, and democracy in Israel, in the wider region and in the United States as well.
The U.S. Justice Department issued a statement on November 24th, offering a reward for information on a Syrian terrorist leader.
Per the statement posted on their Arabic Twitter account, the U.S. Justice Department is offering up to $10 million (U.S.D) for information leading to the arrest of the founder of the Al-Nusra Front and current leader of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham, Abu Mohammad Al-Joulani, who is believed to be in northwestern Syria.
“They pretend to care for Syria, but the people did not forget the crimes committed by the Al-Nusra Front (HTS) against them,” the tweet began.
“If you have information about him, you may get a reward of up to $10 million,” they said asking those with information to contact them via a number of platforms.
Al-Joulani has been the main leader of one of the largest jihadist groups inside Syria since the terrorist organization first entered the Syrian conflict.
The Al-Nusra Front, which he founded, has been accused of committing several crimes inside the country, while also being one of the primary opposition factions to fight the Syrian Armed Forces.
Muhammad al-Jawlani, also known as Abu Muhammad al-Golani, also known as Muhammad al-Julani, is the senior leader of the terrorist organization, the al-Nusrah Front (ANF), the Syria branch of al-Qa’ida.
In April 2013, al-Jawlani pledged allegiance to al-Qa’ida and its leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. In July 2016, al-Jawlani praised al-Qa’ida and al-Zawahiri in an online video and claimed the ANF was changing its name to Jabhat Fath Al Sham (“Conquest of the Levant Front”). In January 2017, ANF merged with several other hardline opposition groups to form Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).
ANF remains al-Qa’ida’s affiliate in Syria. While al-Jawlani is not the leader of HTS, he remains the leader of ANF, which is at the core of HTS.
Al-Jawlani is designated by the Department of State as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Executive Order 13224. He is also listed at the UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida Sanctions Committee.
Wikipedia Info: The Rewards for Justice Program (RFJ) is the counterterrorism rewards program of the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service.
The Secretary of State is currently offering rewards for information that prevents or favorably resolves acts of international terrorism against U.S. persons or property worldwide.
Rewards also may be paid for information leading to the arrest or conviction of terrorists attempting, committing, conspiring to commit, or aiding and abetting in the commission of such acts. The Rewards for Justice Program has paid more than $145 million for information that prevented international terrorist attacks or helped bring to justice those involved in prior acts.
Once again, Europe’s top diplomats expressed their ‘deep concern’ regarding Israel’s ongoing illegal settlement expansion, again evoking the maxim that Israeli actions “threaten the viability of the two-state solution”.
This position was communicated by EU Foreign Affairs Chief, Josep Borrell, on November 19, during a video-conference with Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Maliki.
All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and should be rejected in words and action, regardless of whether they pose a threat to the defunct two-state solution or not. Aside from the fact that Europe’s ‘deep concern’ is almost never followed with any substantive action, articulating a legal and moral stance in the context of imaginary solutions is particularly meaningless.
The question, then, is: “Why does the West continue to use the two-state solution as its political parameter for a resolution to the Israeli occupation of Palestine while, at the same time, failing to take any meaningful measure to ensure its implementation?”
The answer lies, partly, in the fact that the two-state solution was never devised for implementation, to begin with. Like the “peace process” and other pretenses, it aimed to promote, among Palestinians and Arabs, the idea that there is a goal worth striving for, despite it being unattainable.
While warnings that a two-state solution possibility is disintegrating, few bothered to try to understand the reality from a Palestinian perspective. Fed up with the illusions of their own failed leadership, according to a recent poll, two-thirds of Palestinians now agree that a two-state solution is not possible.
Even the claim that a two-state solution is necessary, at least as a precursor to a permanent one-state solution, is absurd... If the two-state solution was ever feasible, it would have been achieved when all parties, at least publicly, championed it. Now, the Americans are no longer committed to it and the Israelis have moved past it into whole new territories, plotting the illegal annexation and permanent occupation of Palestine.
The undeniable truth is that millions of Palestinian Arabs (Muslims and Christians) and Israeli Jews are living between the Jordan River and the Sea. They are already walking on the same earth and drinking the same water, but not as equals.
While Israeli Jews represent the privileged, Palestinians are oppressed, caged in behind walls and treated as inferior...
Netanyahu & the settlers
A one-state solution aims to challenge Israeli Jewish privilege, replacing the current racist, apartheid regime with a democratic, equitable, and representative political system that guarantees the rights for all peoples and all faiths, as in any other democratic governance anywhere in the world...
For years, many of us have advocated a one-state as the most natural outcome of terribly unjust historical circumstances. However, I – and I know of other Palestinian intellectuals, as well – have refrained from making that a cause celèbre, simply because I believe that any initiatives regarding the future of the Palestinian people must be championed by the Palestinian people themselves..
Now that public opinion in Palestine is shifting, mainly against the two-state solution, but also, though gradually, in favor of a one-state, one is able to publicly take this stance as well. All attention should now focus on helping Palestinians obtain their rights, including the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees and holding Israel morally, politically and legally accountable for failing to respect international law.
Palestinians live in constant bemusement as they hear world leaders and diplomats talk as if the past quarter-century never happened.
Last month, the European Union’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini wrote a 3,000-word article which read like a desperate plea for Palestinians and Israelis to keep working for a two-state solution.
Foreign governments have held tight to the two-state ideal despite drastic changes on the ground. Even as they privately acknowledge it as a fading prospect, diplomats still talk of “working towards” two states. When polled, a majority of Palestinians do not see that as a possibility. .. Bassem Tamimi, from the village of Nabi Saleh, has a lifetime of resistance behind him. The 52-year-old points to a scar on his head from what he said was surgery after he was shaken into a coma by interrogators. His sister died after he says she was pushed down the stairs in an Israeli courthouse. His cousin was killed by a direct hit with a gas grenade. Now, his teenage daughter, Ahed, has risen to global prominence after she slapped a soldier and spent eight months in jail. Tamimi sees the Palestinian struggle as one of fighting for ever-tinier chunks of land.
When Israel was established in 1948, Palestinians were left with 22% of the land they had lived on. Under Oslo, they agreed to work towards sovereignty over that area. Now they have limited autonomy over an even smaller fraction of that. “I fought for the two-state solution,” he sighs. “I lost my friends, I lost my sister, I lost a lot of cousins, I lost my time in jail.”
He has since given up on the idea of a Palestinian state alongside Israel... Tamimi now advocates for one secular state in all the land shared by Israelis and Palestinians. The idea gaining momentum, even among Palestinian officials who helped negotiate Oslo. ”
Palestinians already live inside Israel with citizenship. They are families who remained in their towns and villages while others fled or were expelled in wars surrounding Israel’s creation. But their life is not what other Palestinians aspire towards.
Netanyahu & the Messianists
The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said on Sunday: “Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and only it.”
In dozens of visits and meetings Former CIA chief John Brennan came to know and understand the Israelis’ complex character and their country’s tangled situation in the Middle East, along with witnessing the last decade of how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is ruling Israel.
“He is a very cagey and wily political operative and politician,” Brennan says when asked his opinion of the prime minister today. “He has, I think, a very, very astute understanding and manipulation of Israeli, domestic politics,” he says, adding, however, that Netanyahu “is not a very principled or ethical individual.”
Q: How does that manifest itself?
Brennan: “If he thought a two-state solution would benefit his political interests, he probably would pursue it. But he has no principled commitment to doing what is right for the Palestinian people. And he recognizes that the Israeli right [wing] is where he gets his strength and support.
So, when he floated the idea of Israel annexing the territories, I think it was designed to build support on the right. But he also knew it was going to give him a political chip that he could cash in later, which he did, with the Emiratis and the Bahrainis” – a reference to Netanyahu’s decision to shelve his annexation plan in order to normalize relations with the Gulf states.
Q: Not only Israelis but foreign leaders too have been overheard describing Netanyahu as a liar. Have you personally encountered a situation in which he lied or did not fulfill his promises?
“In my meetings with him – sometimes I was the principal who met with him and sometimes I was part of a delegation – I found that his depiction of reality distorted the truth, but in that regard he’s very typical of a politician.
I do not believe that honesty or his word are his strong suits. He is, as I said, a strong political operative who will change his views, his position, and not follow through on his commitments if he feels it’s in his best political interest not to. Did he lie to me personally? He just, I think, embellished the facts.”
Q: Do you think he’s genuine in his fears of a nuclear Iran, or is it just for political dividends?
“I think he does have concerns, like many of us, about what Iranian military adventurism could involve, including against Israel. And I think he was very concerned about Iranian nuclear weapons development. But when he refused to acknowledge the benefits of the nuclear agreement [signed by the six powers and Iran in 2015], he did so for his own political purposes.
Q: What about the assassination of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, Gen. Qassem Soleimani. He was killed in January in an operation mounted by U.S. intelligence and Special Forces at the initiative and authorization of President Donald Trump.
Brennan: “I’ve said, and I was criticized for it, that I was not supportive at all of the U.S. strike against Soleimani. Soleimani was a senior Iranian government official, and for the United States to strike at a government official of a sovereign state without any type of international, lawful basis, without being at war with Iran and without a Security Council decision, is very arbitrary and dangerous.
\What type of signals does that send other countries? What would happen if the Chinese or the Russians decided to do that?
Q: Does Iran want nuclear weapons?
“Iran is not a monolith. Your question is like asking whether America wants to do Y or Z – depending on who you ask, they’re going to have a different answer. I do think there are individuals in Iran that would like to see Iran armed to the teeth including with nuclear weapons, as many of those hardliners say.
But I also think that there are individuals, such as the president of Iran, who are much more pragmatic in their outlook and recognize that the Iranian people and the Iranian economy really need to come into the 21st century. And the only way that the economy is going to be restored is to engage with the international community.”
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman on Friday declared his goal in the next election: To prevent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from heading the next government.
"Netanyahu must be prevented from getting 61 seats, this is necessary for Israel," Liberman told Kan 11 News in an interview. Liberman downplayed the idea that Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett would ultimately help in preventing Netanyahu from forming a government.
"The problem with Bennett is that he will eventually go with Netanyahu. Anyone who votes for Yamina should understand that in the end, Yamina will form a coalition with [Bezalel] Smotrich, [Aryeh] Deri, [Yaakov] Litzman and Netanyahu," he said.
More facts have been exposed to the world public opinion about the involvement of the government of the Netherlands in supporting terrorist organizations in Syria after the Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte acknowledged, a few days ago, that he personally interfered to block a parliamentary investigation into his government's provision of millions of US dollars to terrorists in Syria.
The scandal of blocking the investigation comes after the Dutch media outlets published files uncovering the Dutch government's involvement in supplying terrorists in Syria with high-tech communication equipment, logistical and military ammunition as well as hundreds of trucks and vehicles.
Back then, the Dutch investigators couldn't reach any conclusions because Rutte impeded the work of the investigation committee and hid some secrets that prove his direct collusion with the terrorists and his flagrant violation of both the Dutch and the international law, as the armed groups he has logistically and financially supported are classified as terrorist organizations by the Dutch prosecution itself, an analysis published by SANA Arabic said.
The investigation committees were formed two years ago by the Dutch Parliament after two media outlets unveiled in a documentary in 2017 the Dutch government's support for more than 20 terrorist groups, including "al-Jabha al-Shamiyyeh" organization...
Wikipedia info: The government of the Netherlands provided materials to the Levant Front as part of a program of non-lethal assistance for 22 rebel groups in Syria from 2015 to 2018.
In September 2018, the Dutch public prosecution department declared the Levant Front to be a "criminal organisation of terrorist intent", describing it as a "salafist and jihadistic" group that "strives for the setting up of the caliphate".
History: Following months of negotiations in Turkey and northern Syria between the Islamic Front (mainly the al-Tawhid Brigade), the Army of Mujahideen, the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, the Fastaqim Union, Liwa Ahrar Souriya and the Authenticity and Development Front, on 25 December 2014, the factions announced that they combined their forces into a joint command called the Levant Front. The US-backed Hazzm Movement joined the coalition on 30 January 2015...
On 20 February 2015, the Levant Front successfully forced Syrian Army forces to retreat from rural towns in Aleppo; during the clashes group claimed to have killed 300 Syrian soldiers and captured During the same month, the group signed an agreement with the YPG and installed Sharia courts in Sheikh Maqsood and Afrin.
Gideon Sa'ar formally announced his departure from the Likud party and resignation from the Knesset Tuesday night. He will form a new political party and run for prime minister in the next elections. The party will be called 'Tikva Hadasha,' or 'New Hope.'
"Israel has been in an ongoing political crisis for the past two years, the worst in its history. During it, the rifts in the nation are constantly expanding, public discourse is becoming increasingly toxic, and public trust in the political system is deteriorating," Sa'ar said. "I can't be a Likud member under Netanyahu's leadership," he said.
"The Likud has been my political and emotional home all my adult life. But the movement has become a tool for the interests of its leader, a personality cult for one man - flesh and man," Sa'ar claimed.
"In addition to the political crisis, Israel is experiencing a severe social and economic crisis, which is exacerbated as a result of the government's failure to deal with the coronavirus. [..]
"A year ago, I tried to bring about change within my movement - the Likud movement. I ran against Prime Minister Netanyahu for the Likud leadership and against his candidacy for prime minister. I did not succeed then.."
Over the past two months the left-wing and centrist “anyone but Netanyahu” coalition has had a new face: that of Gideon Sa’ar, senior Likudnik and longtime rival of the prime minister. For many, Sa’ar is the antithesis to Netanyahu: he has a good relationship with the media, a statesmanlike demeanor, and keeps things moving in the face of Netanyahu’s antics.
But before heaving a sigh of relief, it’s worth revisiting some of his policies and public statements as a minister in order to gauge where he might lead Israel if elected prime minister.
Sa’ar, 52, has been a right-wing ideologue since his days as a youth in Tehiya, an ultranationalist party that protested against the 1982 evacuation of Israeli settlements in the Sinai following the Camp David Accords.
Yossi Dagan [Settler leader]: "Gideon Sa'ar is a moral and worthy leader, one of the pillars of the nationalist camp, who has proven himself in recent years to protect the Land of Israel, Zionist values, and the nation. It is extremely appropriate that he should run in primaries for the movement's leadership prior to the next elections....
Poll: Likud 25, Gideon Sa'ar 17
David Rosenberg, Arutz Sheva, Dec 09 , 2020
The first poll conducted since former minister and ex-Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar announced his plans to form a new party to challenge Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu shows the new faction winning an impressive 17 seats, making it the third largest party in the Knesset. The poll was conducted by Panels Politics, with the data collected by Panel4All from an internet survey Tuesday night, and published Wednesday morning by Radio 103FM.
If new elections were held today, the poll found, the Likud would plummet from its current 36 seats to 25 mandates, down from 29 in last Friday’s Panels Politics poll. Benny Gantz's Israel Resilience Party [in 2019 part of the Blue and White alliance], which has 15 seats and received 10 seats in the previous poll, sank to 6 seats in Wednesday’s poll, its lowest position in any poll.
The rightist Yamina faction slides from 22 seats in the last poll to 19 mandates with Gideon Sa’ar’s party in the race.
Sa’ar’s new party would draw from both the right-wing and left-wing blocs, with the Ultra-Right falling from 67 seats in the previous poll to 60 seats, and the center-left-wing – Arab bloc falling from 45 seats to 36.
Labor, Gesher, Otzma Yehudit, Derech Eretz, and Jewish Home all failed to clear the 3.25% electoral threshold.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accepted Wednesday, December 9, the resignation of Hanan Ashrawi...
“Longtime political activist and official Hanan Ashrawi, who headed PLO Department of Public Diplomacy and Policy, confirmed today in a statement that she has submitted her resignation to President Abbas to go into effect at the end of this year,” according to WAFA.
Ashrawi’s resignation statement appeared in full on the Twitter account of the PLO Department of Public Diplomacy and Policy. It read:
“Consistent with my lifelong commitment to the principles of integrity and transparency, I would like to state the following pertaining to my resignation from the PLO Executive Committee..."
“I believe it is time to carry out the required reform and to activate the PLO in a manner that restores its standing and role, including by respecting the mandate of the Executive Committee rather than its marginalization and exclusion from decision-making.
“The Palestinian political system needs renewal and reinvigoration with the inclusion of youth, women, and additional qualified professionals.
It is incumbent upon us all to assume our individual responsibilities and to carry out our duties with honesty and integrity, including by facilitating this needed change."
Hanan Ashrawi was elected to the first Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), a body of the PA, to represent Jerusalem in 1996, and was appointed as the PA's minister of higher education and research that same year.
Before that, she served as the spokeswoman of the Palestinian delegation to the 1991 Madrid Conference and took part in negotiations with Israel.
Prior to her work in politics, Ashrawi had been dean of the faculty of arts at Birzeit University in Ramallah.
In Wednesday's statement, Ashrawi was clear that her resignation represents a complete withdrawal from official politics.
"I will continue to serve the Palestinian people and our just cause in every capacity, albeit outside public office," she said.
US President Donald Trump wants his years in the White House to be remembered as the most anti-Iranian in the recent history of the US.
He does not want to launch a war against Tehran, but he wants to make tough statements that include practical actions to contain Iran. In this regard, there are serious attempts now being pushed forward in Washington to classify both the pro-Iranian Houthis in Yemen and the Badr militia in Iraq as terrorist groups..
This move faces many difficulties. In Yemen, the UN, a number of European countries, such as Germany and Sweden, and some refugee and relief organizations doing humanitarian work are against labeling the Houthis as terrorists. They fear that such a categorization would make humanitarian work more dangerous and lead to a hardening of the Houthis’ position in the negotiations currently being conducted. Ultimately, they fear this could intensify the civil war in Yemen. In Iraq, the Badr Organization is very powerful and has strong ties with the government. . It works very closely with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq, and other Iraqi groups that are supportive of Iran.
In spite of all the criticism of Iran-entrenched influence in Iraq, no US administration has sought to stop the work of this militia, since it was perceived by some as being integral to the security of Iraq, which is so unstable and so militant.
The Trump administration wants to hold the Houthis and Badr militia responsible for the destruction of their two nations.
The classification of the Houthis and Badr as terror groups would identify a number of their members as persons subject to sanctions. It would clear the way for policies to freeze their financial assets and punish those who deal with them. It could also begin an international effort to arrest and put on trial their leaders..
Badr Organization [Wikipedia Info]
Leader: Hadi Al-Amiri. Founder: Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim. Founded 1982–2003 as a militia of the ISCI. Since 2003 present as a political movement in Iraq. Part of the Axis of Resistance.
The Badr Organization - previously known as the Badr Brigade - is an Iraqi Shia Islamist political party and military organization.
The Badr Brigade was the Iran-officered military wing of the Iran-based Shia Islamic party, Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), formed in 1982.
Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq most of Badr's fighters have entered the new Iraqi army and police force.
Politically, Badr Brigade and SCIRI were considered to be one party since 2003, but have now unofficially separated with the Badr Organization now an official Iraqi political party.
Badr Brigade forces, and their Iranian commanders, have come to prominence in 2014 fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq. It is a part of the Popular Mobilization Forces.
Flashback: US President George W. Bush welcomes Sayyed Abdul-Aziz Al-Hakim, Leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, to the White House Monday, Dec. 4, 2006.
SCIRI - History
The organization was formed in Iran in 1982.. It was based in Iran for two decades during the rule of Saddam Hussein and led by Iranian officers. It consisted of several thousand Iraqi exiles, refugees, and defectors who fought alongside Iranian troops in the Iran–Iraq War. The group was armed and directed by Iran...
Returning to Iraq following the 2003 coalition invasion, the group changed its name from brigade to organization in response to the attempted voluntary disarming of Iraqi militias by the Coalition Provisional Authority. Because of their opposition to Saddam Hussein, the Badr Brigade was seen as a U.S. asset in the fight against Baathist partisans.
After the fall of Baghdad, Badr forces reportedly joined the newly reconstituted army, police, and Interior Ministry in significant numbers. The Interior Ministry was controlled by SCIRI, and many Badr members became part of the Interior Ministry run Wolf Brigade. The Iraqi Interior Minister, Bayan Jabr, was a former leader of Badr Brigade militia.
Israel and Morocco will normalise ties and the United States is to recognise Western Sahara as part of the North African kingdom, US President Donald Trump announced on Thursday.
“Today, I signed a proclamation recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara. Morocco's serious, credible, and realistic autonomy proposal is the ONLY basis for a just and lasting solution for enduring peace and prosperity!” Trump tweeted. The Polisario Front, an independence movement from Western Sahara, a disputed desert territory, said it "regrets highly" Trump's decision but will continue its struggle. Morocco's Royal Court said King Mohammed VI had called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and reiterated his commitment to the two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Trump's announcement was also denounced by the Sahrawis:
"The Polisario and Sahrawi government condemn in the strongest terms the fact that outgoing American President Donald Trump attributes to Morocco something which does not belong" to the country, said the Sahrawi information ministry in a statement to AFP.
US Congresswoman Betty McCollum, an outspoken advocate for Palestinian human rights, also denounced Trump's move to recognise Morocco's claim over Western Sahara.
"I condemn Trump’s unilateral recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara in exchange for Morocco’s diplomatic recognition of Israel," McCollum wrote on Twitter on Thursday. "The Sahrawi people have an internationally recognized right to self-determination that must be respected." Jim Inhofe, a senior Republican Senator who supports the people of Western Sahara's push for self-determination, accused Trump of "trading the rights of a voiceless people" to secure the Morocco-Israel deal.
Morocco has won an obvious prize as a result of its agreement to normalize relations with Israel: American recognition of its sovereignty over Western Sahara.
Official recognition of Israeli annexation is out, but Moroccan annexation is endorsed. The new relationship with Israel will include economic and cultural cooperation, direct flights and an exchange of diplomatic missions, but not embassies for the time being.
There have been decades of dispute over the territory between Morocco and the local Sahrawi nation, which demands independence. Outgoing President Donald Trump has again opted for a one-sided initiative that upends years of U.S. policy toward Western Sahara.
In fact, only a few weeks ago the United States supported resuming the UN forces mandate in Western Sahara. Now, in a move contrary to international law and the international community’s decisions, Trump has traded this precious recognition for Morocco in exchange for direct flights for Israelis, who have already been flying to Morocco freely without his help.
Netanyahu said the agreements with the UAE amounted to “peace in exchange for peace.” In this case it’s occupation in exchange for occupation.
America stands as virtually the only country to recognise Morocco's illegal annexation of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony forcibly seized by Morocco in 1975.
Trump has yet again trampled over a raft of UN Security Council resolutions in addition to a landmark World Court ruling calling for self-determination for the Western Saharawi people.
Once again the reality TV show host-turned-US-President has steamrollered longstanding international legal principles and treaties by recognising Morocco's illegal land grab of the territory. This virtually gives a green light to any madman or dictator to charge into neighbouring countries and territories as long as they're prepared to normalise relations with Tel Aviv.
He may be leaving office next month, but Trump has established dangerous precedents, and we have no idea how President-elect Joe Biden will respond to them.
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, an adviser to Iran's parliamentary speaker, on Friday blasted Morocco’s normalization of relations with Israel, claiming it is “a betrayal and a stab in the back of Palestine”, Reuters reports. “The Zionists will have no place in the future of the region,” he added in a post on Twitter.
Morocco is the fourth Muslim majority state to agree to normalize ties with Israel in 2020. Israel signed the Abraham Accords with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in September. In October, Sudan agreed to normalize ties with the Jewish State. In 2018, Morocco cut diplomatic ties with Tehran over its involvement in the delivery of weapons from Hezbollah to the Polisario Front, which seeks independence for the Western Sahara.
Iran denied it was involved in the weapons delivery to the Polisario Front and accused Morocco of using the allegations as a "pretext" to break off diplomatic ties.
Spain warns US that non-UN Western
Sahara solution cannot be imposed
James Badcock, The Telegraph, December 11, 2020
David T. Fischer, US Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco, and his wife Jennifer stand before a US State Department-authorised map of Morocco recognising Western Sahara as part of Morocco (AFP)
Spain has warned the US that any solution to the longstanding dispute over Western Sahara must be reached through the existing UN peace process, after President Donald Trump announced that his administration backed Morocco’s claim to the territory. Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya said her government welcomed Morocco’s decision to develop diplomatic relations with Israel, but that any solution to the Western Sahara conflict must be negotiated with both sides. “In both cases [Palestine and Western Sahara], Spain’s position is clear: respect United Nations resolutions in search of a way to resolve these questions," Ms González Laya said during a visit to Israel and the West Bank this week.
Spain was the colonial power in Western Sahara until Morocco invaded in 1975.
Morocco fought a war against the Polisario Front, which wants independence for Western Sahara, until the UN brokered a 1991 ceasefire that has recently been violated in a series of skirmishes between the two sides.
The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya, concluded a two-day official visit to Israel and Palestine, during which she met with her counterparts and other authorities to strengthen bilateral relations between Palestine and Israel. González Laya recalled that next year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Madrid Peace Conference, and suggested to his Israeli counterpart, Gaby Ashkenazi, that he should take advantage of the date to give impetus to the dialogue, which has been stalled since 2014, and support for Israelis and Palestinians to build confidence and return to the dialogue table. The 30th anniversary next year of the Madrid Peace Conference, she suggests, is an opportunity to try again to bring the parties together to agree on an end to a conflict that has lasted more than seven decades.
The minister promised to take this message later to Ramallah, for an interview with her counterpart, Riad al-Malki.
After the meeting in Jerusalem, González Laya will meet the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Prime Minister, Mohamed Shtayeh, to whom she will also convey the need to move towards peace.
When asked by the Spanish press about the future recognition of Palestine as an independent state, the head of diplomacy replied that "Spain will be prepared to recognise Palestine as a state when the conditions are right".
Board of Deputies of British Jews came under criticism for giving a platform to Israeli ambassador Tzipi Hotovely and letting her get away with calling the expulsion of Palestinians a 'very popular Arab lie'.
Tzipi Hotovely, made desperate attempts to deny Nakba, a popular historical event that marked the violent expulsion of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli occupying forces in 1948. The 42-year-old ambassador said that the displacement of Palestinians since the establishment of Israel in 1948 on Palestinian lands is "a made up story".
Known for espousing divisive, far-right views, Hotovely has come under fire for making controversial and racist remarks about Palestinians in the past. She opposed interfaith marriages in Israel and criticised the Board of Deputies of British Jews’ political manifesto that expressed support for an independentPalestinian state. Hotovely’s latest comments were uploaded in a short video clip on Twitter by British Jews Against Occupation (BJAO), a non-profit that campaigns against the Israeli atrocities in Palestinian territories.
"We will never defeat racism while our communal organisations are giving it a platform," BJAO said in a written statement, condemning the Board of Deputies of British Jews for inviting Hotovely.
The newly assigned ambassador has been a staunch supporter of Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands, besides taking pride in calling herself “a religious right-winger".
Last year, Hotovely slammed the British Board for Deputies for British Jews for supporting the formation of a Palestinian state. She accused the board of "working against Israeli interests".
What is Nakba?
It was the day in which tens of thousands of people were forced from their homes during the war that led to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. Palestinians reaffirmed their right to return to their homes and villages in historic Palestine on Nakba day.
This year is the 72nd anniversary of Nakba. On May 15, 1948, some 750,000 Palestinians were expelled into refugee camps that still exist in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded on Wednesday to US sanctions against Ankara over its purchase of a Russian missile defence system, calling Washington's move an "open attack" on its sovereignty.
The United States levied sanctions against an agency within Turkey's Ministry of National Defence, along with several agency officials, on Monday over the country's acquisition and activation of a Russian-made S-400 missile defence system. The sanctions, required under a 2017 law that aims to limit Russia's military influence, were lighter than had been feared, but Erdogan noted that they had never before been used against a fellow member of Nato.
"Sanctions are imposed on our country, a Nato member. What kind of an alliance is this?" Erdogan asked during a televised speech in Ankara. "This decision is an open attack on our sovereignty."
Washington had already punished Ankara in July by barring it from developing parts for and acquiring America's next-generation F-35 fighter jets.
The State Department said the sanctions "are not intended to undermine the military capabilities or combat readiness of Turkey... but rather to impose costs on Russia in response to its wide range of malign activities". [...]
Since the S-400 defence system has the ability to "learn" flight patterns and other data about aircraft flying overhead, Washington views a Nato ally buying the Russian defence system as a security threat and had previously asked Ankara to pull out of the deal.
It also has concerns over Turkey providing funds to the Russian defence industry via the purchase.
The sanctions are only the latest manifestation of a series of rifts between the two countries, with the Nato allies also in disagreement over Syria, Libya and the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Libertarian educator Tom Woods famously quipped that “no matter who you vote for you end up with John McCain.” Unfortunately Woods was proven right for about the thousandth time this past week, as Washington again showed us that it is all about war.
First, we learned that if Joe Biden ends up in the White House next month he intends to put a deep state member of the military-industrial complex in charge of the Pentagon. General Lloyd Austin will be only the second Defense Secretary in decades to require a special Senate waiver to serve in that position. Gen. James Mattis under President Trump also needed a waiver, as he had been out of the military less than the required seven years before becoming Defense Secretary.
But the revolving door between active military service and civilian leadership of the Pentagon is perhaps less troubling than the revolving door between the military-industrial complex and leadership of the Defense Department.
As the first African-American to take charge of the Pentagon, the Austin pick is celebrated as a great victory for “diversity.” However, if we move beyond the color of a person’s skin, Biden’s selection is not all that diverse. Gen. Austin was head of the US Central Command under an Obama Administration that launched a brutal war on Libya under false pretenses and pursued a regime-change policy in Syria that involved arming and training jihadists.
Upon retirement, as is all too common with military leaders, he cashed in on his service with a position on the board of military contractor Raytheon.
Austin will be “business as usual” for Washington’s warmongers and the military contractors who make a fortune inventing endless conflicts overseas. [...]
Time after time, the “peace” candidate usually wins the election. But no matter how sick the American people are of endless war, the war machine finds a way to keep chugging along. What will it take to return to a policy of peace and prosperity?
[Israeli] Defense Minister Benny Gantz told a Saudi-owned newspaper that Palestinians should have an independent "entity" with territorial continuity and that there is room in Jerusalem for a Palestinian capital, but reiterated that Israel "won't go back to the 1967 borders" and "Jerusalem must stay united."
“Palestinians deserve an entity to live in independently,” Gantz told Asharq al-Awsat in an interview published on Thursday, adding that they can call it “a state, or an empire, or however they like.” Regarding the borders of a future Palestinian state, Gantz emphasized that “Israel needs the Jordan Valley for its defense needs,” but that Israel would not need to annex all of the valley, which constitutes about 30 percent of the West Bank's area. He added that the area Israel would eventually annex can be agreed upon in negotiations and include several “strategic” points, so as to still allow for Palestinian territorial continuity....
Calling for renewed negotiations with the Palestinian leadership and finding solutions to all core issues, Gantz said “As soon as we agree on security issues, the political solution will be much easier,” and will pave the way to cooperation in multiple fields. Palestinians, he asserted, should adapt to a “new, modern” discourse.
The holiday of Hanukkah has its origins in ancient times but Hellenism is still very much with us. While many people consider the leftists in Israel the Hellenists of today, in my view, the term more fittingly describes the Jews of the Diaspora who have the ability to move to Israel, but prefer to identify with the foreign country and foreign culture where they live.
This is exactly what a Hellenist is – as Webster’s Dictionary states: “A person living in Hellenist times who was Greek in language, outlook, and way of life, but was not Greek in ancestry, like a Hellenist Jew.”
This description fits the American Jew, or English, Canadian , South Afrcan and Australian Jew of today. American Jews for example strive to be just like the Gentiles of American, loving football, the movies, the New York Times, American fashions and fads, and American ambitions, just like the Hellenists did in the time of the Greeks.
Under Greek rule, the Jewish Hellenists shaved off their beards, dressed in the latest style of tunics from Athens, and flocked to bawdy Greek theaters, concerts, brothels and pubs. They cheered alongside the Greeks at sporting events held in the nude, even extending their foreskins to hide the holy mark of their circumcisions so they would look like everyone else at the baths. When Yehuda Maccabee shouted, “Follow me,” in the battle for the Hebrew sovereignty in the Land of Israel, the Jewish Hellenists stayed home.
The phenomena isn’t restricted to secular-Jews, or to Reform-Jews, to Progressive-Liberal-Universalist-Jews, or to whatever hyphenated identity they chose to call themselves. Many of the Orthodox Jews in America are Hellenists too.. They see themselves as Americans, not as Israelites...
Although celebrated as heroes who saved Jewish practice and Torah law from suppression and abrogation by the Syrian Greeks, the Maccabees are portrayed in the First Book of Maccabees as religious zealots, murdering coreligionists who had chosen the path of Hellenism.
The Role of Hellenism
Central to any assessment of the Maccabees is an evaluation of the role of Hellenism, an ideology whose universalistic outlook was based on Greek ideas and athletic prowess. Following in the footsteps of Alexander the Great, Hellenism became a political tool used by the Syrian Greeks to consolidate their power among the wealthy bourgeoisie. In turn, the aristocratic elites who embraced Hellenism gained access to the social and economic perquisites flowing to citizens of a Greek polis, including the right to mint coins, to take part in international Hellenistic events, and to receive protection from the city’s founding ruler.
But Hellenism encompassed more than a pragmatic relationship between the ruler and local economic elites; it also represented an "enlightened" worldview considered by many to be the way of the future.
Nations who shut themselves off and did not confront the challenge of Hellenism were falling by the wayside. Because it was viewed as the wave of the future, the pressure to acculturate to Hellenism was quite intense in Judea.
Therefore, the people of Judea had to decide whether the universalistic focus of Hellenism constituted a danger to their ancestral religion and its God or whether it simply represented a more modern and "progressive" way of life that could be merged with Jewish practice.
The Jewish Hellenists chose the reform path; they wanted to move beyond separatism and assimilate the positive aspects of Greek culture into Judaism.
As First Maccabees recounts, "In those days there emerged in Israel lawless men [Jewish Hellenists] who persuaded many, saying, ‘Let us go and make a covenant with the nations that are around us; for since we separated ourselves from them, many evils have come upon us’" (I Maccabees 1:11).
When evaluating the Maccabees’ role, one must ask whether the Hellenist Jews, deemed apostates by the Maccabees and their supporters, had the right to assimilate their Jewish observance to the surrounding Greek culture. The Maccabees answered with a resounding "no".
The candidates in the upcoming elections include three people, heading three separate factions, who will actively try to infuse the country's politics and education with religious ideology - the newly independent Gideon Sa’ar, Yamina leader Naftali Bennett, and Jewish Home chair Rafi Peretz.
And for liberal and secular Israelis, all three are very bad news.
Through their policies, the three - who have all served as education minister - made Israel’s education system more religious, closed-off, nationalistic and conservative than ever before. They are responsible for the systematic attempt to impose an Orthodox Jewish identity on Israel’s students, and are guilty of continuously exploiting the education system for political gain.
Gideon Sa’ar led the "The Heritage and Culture of Israel" program, which forced students to develop a religious identity by coercing them into studying the weekly Torah portion and reading essays on the "connection of the people of Israel to the Land of Israel" - all while expressing contempt for the secular spiritual world... Sa’ar still claims the national education system lacks sufficient Jewish content... Naftali Bennett's contribution to the religionization of the education system cannot be overstated. During his time, the religious program "Israeli Jewish Culture" was launched and the activities of religious associations in schools prospered, which led to the privatization of values education and its transfer to religious bodies.
Bennett even said that learning Judaism was more important than studying mathematics and science, and he called secular parents who worked to educate their children "auto-antisemitic.” Rafi Peretz vocally supported conversion therapy and spoke out against the inclusion of women in combat roles in the IDF, and actually managed to bring religious coercion to new levels.
The tenures of the three as education ministers have led to the discrimination against state education. Recent data even show that students in religious state schools receive a 30% larger budget than students in regular state schools...
All three have proven to be both ideologues and capable of executing those ideologies.
If one of them does take the helm of our ship of state we are likely to see an extreme conservative approach spread into all areas of life in Israel.
A destabilising civil war erupted in Syria in 2011. Now, nearly ten years later, the future still looks bleak, and a local journalist says the chaos will only end if foreign intervention stops and western sanctions are lifted.
For Haider Mustafa, a Syrian journalist and editor-in-chief of the Cham Times Media Network, the outbreak of mass protests in Syria was a total surprise. "The situation in Syria was better than in other countries of the region", says Mustafa, recalling the days before the revolution.
"The Syrian people were not that interested in politics. They did not embrace the logic of revolution. Nor did they want to change the so-called regime. Quite the opposite was true: the government enjoyed widespread support in the streets of Syria".
Bashar al-Assad, who in 2010 marked his tenth anniversary in power, was viewed as a reformer in Syria.
During his first years in office, he opened many schools and universities, established a stock exchange and permitted competition in banking and trade.
Former Ambassador of India in Damascus V.P. Haran confirmed that the Syrian war started not as result of an uprising against the Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad, but was instigated from the outside, Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (DWN) reported.
According to Haran, external forces played a key role in fueling the Syrian conflict. The opposition in the country had supporters, including al-Qaeda and the Gulf States, which contributed to the destabilization of the country.
According to the diplomat, the Syrian economy was doing well at that time and the average growth rate was more than 5 percent. The unemployment rate reached 8 percent, but unemployed Syrians could find work in the Gulf States. All in all life in Syria was very peaceful, Haram explained.
Haran argued that Bashar al-Assad has always been a popular leader and therefore he is still in power. There is no adequate internal opposition and many of the problems in Syria come from foreign sources that are trying to get rid of the inconvenient regime, the ambassador explained, reminding that 67 percent of the entire Arab world had chosen Assad as the most popular Arab person voted in 2009.
President Bashar Al-Assad: personality of the year 2009, according to CNN Arabic Internet Edition, with a 67 percent of all the votes, in less than a month of a free click-and-vote-for opinion poll.
Earlier, on May 19, 2009, President Bashar Al-Assad was voted for as the most popular Arab Leader, according to a major survey of public opinion in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), released by the Brookings Institution and Zogby International.
The Arab Spring
The largely fragmented and leaderless oppostion, did not stand a chance against the organised apparatus of the Syrian government headed by Assad. That is, until the eruption of the Arab Spring, when Mustafa says "the unthinkable happened".
"Very quickly Syria found itself on a battlefield", recalls the journalist...
"Religion and the sectarian factors were used as a means of aggravation, people were easily incited and manipulated and that only led to more violence", explains Mustafa.
As protests showed no signs of abating, reports of foreign fighters and extremists, who started to engulf Syria in a bid to put an end to the government of President Assad, surfaced.
"We felt that the Wahabi extremists, who entered our country, stole the revolution, and pushed Syria into chaos and instability", Mustafa explains.
And what they also felt, says the journalist, was that foreign powers who interfered in the conflict had also contributed to the mess and insecurity in Syrian society.
To end that mess, Syrians would first need to overcome the divisions that have been splitting the country.
A 2018 poll found that 65 percent of those quizzed were eager to put aside their differences to give unity a chance.
Unity, however, will not be able to solve the country's other problems. In 2018, the UN estimated the destruction wrought in Syria to be $120 billion and that it would take years to rebuild the war-torn state.
When Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi was toppled, people took revenge on those they saw as his supporters -- including the entire town of Tawergha, whose 40,000 residents were forced to flee.
Now, almost a decade after militia forces rampaged through the town, torching homes, destroying buildings and leaving farms in ruins, the people of Tawergha are coming home.
Around a third of the original population of the town have returned...
Tawergha, about 200 kilometres (125 miles) east of the capital Tripoli, is close to the port city of Misrata.
At the end of the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted and killed Gadhafi, Tawergha endured brutal reprisal attacks by fighters from Misrata. Militias from Misrata were key in defeating Gadhafi, and seeing Tawergha as the enemy, they laid siege to the town, pounding it with artillery.
Most of the town's population was violently displaced, according to Human Rights Watch, which denounced what it called "collective punishment" and a "possible crime against humanity".
For several years, militias blocked people from returning. The people were banished, living in grim destitution in basic shelters on a windswept desert plain.
But after a reconciliation deal -- backed by the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) -- was signed between the former bitter enemies in 2018, people slowly began to go back to the town.
But political tensions between the rival administrations that emerged in the chaos after Gadhafi’s death are delaying the disbursement of compensation to residents to rebuild their lives. <
The "absence of a (central) government" is responsible for this, said Tawergha's mayor Abdelrahman Shakshak. Jobs must be created and homes rebuilt, but the government is busy with "conflicts and divisions", he added. "Stability will not return unless there is a strong and united state."
British journalist Andrew Gilligan visited Tawergha in September 2011 and found it virtually emptied of its inhabitants, who numbered around 30,000 before the war.
He reported that the Misrata Brigade, a semi-autonomous unit of the anti-Gaddafi National Liberation Army, had engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing in response to the town's alleged support of Gaddafi during the siege on their city.
Many slogans he saw painted in and around Tawergha, as well as the accounts of anti-Gaddafi fighters and commanders whom he quoted, made reference to the dark pigmentation of many Tawergha citizens, with one sign referring to the Misrata Brigade as "the brigade for purging slaves [and] black skin".
His report, published by The Sunday Telegraph on 11 September, quoted Ibrahim al-Halbous a brigade commander as saying, "Tawergha no longer exists, only Misrata" and another as asserting that the town's former residents will only return "over our dead bodies".
Flashback: Israel Resilience leader Benny Gantz and Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid appeared for the first time together. "Today we are changing the face of Israel,” Gantz said, "we put our egos aside…" "Instead of extremism, we want dignity..." The Times of Israel, 21 February 2019
The Knesset dissolved at midnight, triggering automatic elections in exactly 90 days’ time, on March 23, 2021. It will be the fourth snap election in less than two years.
The general consensus is that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has won the day. By enticing rival Benny Gantz into a unity government after three indecisive elections, Netanyahu shattered his opponent’s broad center-left alliance and then spent the months since wriggling his way out of their rotation agreement.
Gantz has emphatically lost.... Once seen as the “most fitting” candidate for prime minister by some 40% of the country, Gantz couldn’t muster more than 4% in a Monday poll by Channel 12 that asked the same question... The right has grown in the polls compared to last year. Parties that self-identify as right-wing (including the Haredi factions) now account for roughly 80 Knesset seats.
Yet the anti-Netanyahu camp has grown too. The divide over Netanyahu no longer tracks the left-right divide. And the main beneficiary of that trend is Netanyahu’s most powerful right-wing challenger, Gideon Sa’ar.
US Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday said an order requiring goods made in Israeli-controlled areas of the West Bank to be labeled as “Made in Israel” has come into effect. The policy shift was announced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in November following an unprecedented visit to a West Bank settlement, where he visited a winery. It’s unclear whether the incoming Biden administration will uphold the order. Since 1995, US policy has required products made in the West Bank and Gaza to be labeled as such.
With Pompeo’s newly announced rules, which he said were “consistent with our reality-based foreign policy approach,” all producers within areas where Israel exercises authority — most notably Area C under the Oslo Accords – will be required to mark goods as Israeli-made. The announcement indicated that the policy would also cover goods made in Palestinian villages within Area C, where Israel exercises both civilian and security control. Roughly 150,000 Palestinians are believed to live in Area C, which includes all Israeli settlements and covers about 60 percent of the West Bank’s land area.... The Palestinians have strongly condemned the US shift on settlement labeling.'b>
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