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)
An especially dangerous threat to liberty occurs when members of the press collude with government agencies instead of monitoring and exposing the abuses of those agencies. Unfortunately, collusion is an all-too-common pattern in press coverage of the national security state’s activities. The American people then receive official propaganda disguised as honest reporting and analysis.
"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
Joe Biden & Truth - 2009
US Vice President Joe Biden said that the new administration would seek the
unvarnished truth from its spies, whether or not their information supported
the goals of the government.
The Vice President's address was greeted with loud cheers by the several hundred CIA employees who gathered for the swearing in ceremony in the foyer of the Agency's headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
Standing before the wall of 89 stars representing the CIA staff who have died in the line of duty, Mr Biden said:
"We expect you to provide independent analysis, not to engage in group think. We
expect you to tell us the facts as you know them wherever they may lead, not
what you think we want to hear." (Tim Shipman. 20-2-2009)
"We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign
ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid
to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation
that is afraid of its people …
The wave of the future is not the conquest of the world by a single dogmatic creed but the liberation of the diverse energies of free nations and free men. …
Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind." John F.Kennedy
“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)
"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."
"The globalists wants to make the world unipolar in order to move towards a globalist non-polarity, where the elites will become fully international and their residence will be dispersed throughout the entire space of the planet.
Accordingly, for the salvation of people, peoples, and societies, the Great Awakening must begin with multipolarity.
This is not just the salvation of the West itself, and not even the salvation of everyone else from the West, but the salvation of humanity, both Western and non-Western, from the totalitarian dictatorship of the liberal capitalist elites.
And this cannot be done by the people of the West or the people of the East alone. Here it is necessary to act together. The Great Awakening necessitates an internationalization of the peoples’ struggle against the internationalization of the elites. Multipolarity becomes the most important reference point and the key to the strategy of the Great Awakening.
"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 Trump and Biden administrations have relied on the work of a right-wing religious extremist, Adrian Zenz, for their “genocide” accusation against China.
Both President Joe Biden and his Secretary of State Anthony Blinken have endorsed former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s last-minute accusation of “genocide” against the Muslim Uyghur population in China’s Xinjiang province.
But an investigation of published work by the researcher Pompeo relied on to level his genocide allegation reveals a pattern of data abuse and fraudulent assertions that substantially undermines the incendiary charge. The U.S. government’s accusation of genocide against China stems from a single source: a June 2020 paper by Adrian Zenz, a right-wing German researcher affiliated with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and neoconservative Jamestown Foundation in Washington, D.C. Articles by the Associated Press, CNN, and BBC also relied on Zenz’s article to claim that plunging Uyghur birth rates and the application of birth control measures in Uyghur counties of the Xinjiang region were proof of a policy of “demographic genocide.”
While Zenz’s employers describe him as “one of the world’s leading scholars on People’s Republic of China government policies towards the country’s western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang,” he is, in fact, a far-right Christian fundamentalist who has said he is “led by God” against China’s government, deplores homosexuality and gender equality, and has taught exclusively in evangelical theological institutions.
Zenz is an individual with extremely questionable personal views, even ones which push on legal boundaries in many countries. Although people will say that “Ad-Hominem” is not a logical way to challenge one’s views, the extreme nature of some of his beliefs unquestionably call his work into question, as well as the mainstream media’s repeated usage of him, of which they would never consider if it were not for “the anti-China” agenda.
Zenz is a fundamentalist Christian. Whilst religious affiliation does not discredit one, nevertheless the specific nature of his beliefs situate him on the most extreme right of the American evangelical wing bordering on lunacy and outright hysterical.
We headed across to his co-authored book with Marlon L. Sias “Worthy to Escape” with the subheading “Why all believers will not be raptured before the tribulation“.
This as a title is more than enough. Accessing the text on google play books, we found the following: Zenz states that all “other belief systems” to Christianity are “ultimately inspired by Satan” and that “those who reject faith in Jesus will be sentenced to eternal punishment
Yet this only scratches the surface. Zenz’s own professed views on homosexuality are unambiguously hateful, bigoted and completely unacceptable in this modern era. Zenz proceeds to describe homosexuality as “one of the four empires of the beast” and condemns French Philosopher Michael Focult as a “professed homosexual whose writings had a profound impact on the societal acceptance and recognition of homosexuality” condemning this recognition.
The same Zenz believes now that he is on a god given mission against China, as quoted in the Wall Street Journal. This is in line with his promotion of the belief the world is at the “end of times”.
Flashback: A Medieval Crusade, Putin cracks down on NATO, Gaddafi and UN, Pravda, 21-3-2011
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." "It effectively allows intervention in a sovereign state,"
The February meeting of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Defense Ministers, the first since President Biden took power, revealed an antiquated, 75-year-old alliance that, despite its military failures in Afghanistan and Libya, is now turning its military madness toward two more formidable, nuclear-armed enemies: Russia and China.
This theme was emphasized by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in a Washington Post op-ed in advance of the NATO meeting, insisting that "aggressive and coercive behaviors from emboldened strategic competitors such as China and Russia reinforce our belief in collective security.” Using Russia and China to justify more Western military build-up is a key element in the alliance’s new “Strategic Concept,” called NATO 2030: United For a New Era, which is intended to define its role in the world for the next ten years.
NATO seems oblivious to the changing dynamics of today’s world, as if it’s living on a different planet. Its one-sided Reflection Group report cites Russia’s violation of international law in Crimea as a principal cause of deteriorating relations with the West, and insists that Russia must “return to full compliance with international law.”
But it ignores the U.S. and NATO’s far more numerous violations of international law and leading role in the tensions fueling the renewed Cold War:
- Illegal invasions of Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq;
- The broken agreement over NATO expansion into Eastern Europe;
- U.S. withdrawals from important arms control treaties;
- More than 300,000 bombs and missiles dropped on other countries by the United States and its allies since 2001;
- U.S. proxy wars in Libya and Syria, which plunged both countries into chaos, revived Al Qaeda and spawned the Islamic State;
- U.S. management of the 2014 coup in Ukraine, which led to economic collapse, Russian annexation of Crimea and civil war in Eastern Ukraine;.
NATO’s failure to seriously examine its own role in what it euphemistically calls “uncertain times” should therefore be more alarming to Americans and Europeans than its one-sided criticisms of Russia and China, whose contributions to the uncertainty of our times pale by comparison.
In the wake of President Biden’s bombing of eastern Syria, some members of Congress are speaking out and questioning the legality of the move, including Biden’s fellow Democrats. The Biden administration targeted Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada in Syria, Iraqi militias the US claims were responsible for recent rocket attacks on US bases in Iraq, although no evidence has been presented to back up the claim.
“We cannot stand up for Congressional authorization before military strikes only when there is a Republican president,” said Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA). “The administration should have sought Congressional authorization here. We need to work to extricate from the Middle East, not escalate.”
Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) said Biden’s bombing was unconstitutional. “Offensive military action without congressional approval is not constitutional absent extraordinary circumstances,” he said. “Congress must be fully briefed on this matter expeditiously.”
While many Republicans applauded Biden’s airstrike, some spoke out against it, including Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).
“I condemn meddling in Syria’s civil war. I also condemn attacking a sovereign nation without authority,” Senator Paul wrote on Twitter. “What authority does @POTUS have to strike Syria?”
Iraq’s government denied any involvement in Thursday’s US airstrikes in eastern Syria that targeted Iraqi militias. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Iraq helped develop intelligence for the bombing, but Iraq’s Ministry of Defense denied that claim.
In a statement, Iraq’s Ministry of Defense said it was “surprised by the statements of the US Secretary of Defense about the participation of Iraqi intelligence regarding an exchange of intelligence information with Iraq to target Syrian territories.”
Kataib Hezbollah has denied any involvement in recent attacks on US bases, and so far, the Biden administration hasn’t presented any evidence to prove they were responsible. Attacks on the US in Iraq are also blamed on Iran since they support some of Iraq’s Shia militias, but again, no evidence has tied Iran to recent attacks.
In announcing Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate on Friday, Hillary Clinton gets a bridge-builder – a man deeply motivated by his Catholic faith to seek social and racial justice as well as political common ground...
In a May interview, with sun streaming through his Senate office windows and Celtic music cheerily piping from his computer, Senator Kaine emphasized the need to give Americans “a pep talk.” He also spoke at length about the role of faith in his public life.. Working for justice: Kaine’s commitment to social and racial justice was forged in a foundational experience as a young missionary in Honduras.
When he returned from Honduras, he finished his law degree and dedicated himself to public service, helping the disadvantaged as a civil rights lawyer...
An Arabic Prayer for Divine Mercy
Psalm 50 in Arabic
Compassion for the afflicted:: Honduras accentuated in him a desire to help the downtrodden and an affinity with Latin Americans... The world needs more “islands of mercy” – in the poorest barrio, in churches, and in government – Kaine wrote in his 2015 op-ed, reflecting on a return trip to his school in Honduras and on waves of migrant children flooding America’s southern border the year before. The phrase quotes a pastoral letter by Pope Francis that calls for “islands of mercy in the midst of a sea of indifference.”
That humanitarian concern and other faith-infused ideas profoundly influence Kaine’s approach to national security..
Two weeks prior to the elections, Yamina MK Naftali Bennett is sure he will be the next prime minister, replacing Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has served in the position since 2009.
In an interview with Israel Hayom, Bennett slammed his political rivals: "I feel as if they drew a target on my back. For several months already,
[New Hope chair Gideon] Sa'ar has been been publishing anonymous messages against me. Netanyahu has been doing it for a few years already. [Religious Zionism chair MK Bezalel] Smotrich started a campaign against me.
Gideon has run an anonymous and illegal campaign against us for some time already. Only when we caught him red-handed did he admit to it, and then he remembered to call for a ceasefire. Even now, members of his party continue their attacks against us."
"From the start of the campaign, Smotrich has said that we don't have any more values, that we'll sit with Arabs and leftists and Hitler-lovers. I think that's not serious. It's disappointing to see a campaign which is entirely based on attacking us."
Bennett emphasized that he will not sit together with Yesh Atid Chairman MK Yair Lapid.
"Lapid is a leftist. I won't be a partner in forming a leftist government. I am looking at his policies throughout the years, at his attacks against settlers during the expulsion from Gush Katif, at his statements that 'the money is buried between Itamar and Yitzhar.' When it comes down to it, Lapid is there on the Left. I will form the government. We will replace Netanyahu only from the Right, not from the Left."
"If I win 15 seats, I will be prime minister," he promised. "There's a feeling among some of the nationalist public that Israel won't exist on the day after Netanyahu. He has managed to imprint this, but it's not true. Immediately after Passover, we will shake Netanyahu's hand, say, 'thank you very much,' and replace him."
Yamina chairman MK Naftali Bennett was asked in an interview with Israel Hayom whether he would support granting rights to LGBT people and replied:
"I respect every person, I think the state should grant civil rights. But I am a religious person, who cannot change the Halakha (Jewish law)."
The Torah is the primary source for Jewish views on homosexuality.
It states that: "[A man] shall not lie with another man as [he would] with a woman, it is a to'eva" (Leviticus 18:22). The term to'eva is usually translated as "abomination".
However, because the word is used twice in regards to homosexuality, its second use has been understood by the Talmud to be a contraction of the words to'eh hu va, meaning "He is deviating from what is natural."
According to the rabbis, the prohibition is a part of the Noachide Laws, and thus applies to Gentiles as well as Jews.
Homosexuality and Orthodox Judaism
Sexual intercourse between two men is forbidden by the Torah, as stated above, and is a capital offense. The Torah prohibition of Lo tikrevu legalot ervah ("You shall not come close to another person for the purpose of committing a sexual crime") forbids all other sexual acts which can lead to intercourse, and prescribes the punishment of lashes.
However, under Judaism, it is very difficult to get a conviction that would lead to this prescribed punishment (and, in any case, modern instances of this are not judged). The severity of the punishment indicates the seriousness with which the act is seen.
Homosexual acts between women (lesbianism) were forbidden by the rabbis on the basis of "Do not follow the ways of Egypt where you once lived, nor of Canaan, where I will be bringing you. Do not follow [any] of their customs." (Leviticus 18:3).
The oral law (Sifra there, 8:8) explains that what is meant is sexual customs and that one of those was the marriage of women to each other, as well as a man to a woman and her daughter. The Talmud follows this view, forbidding lesbianism. Like all Rabbinical prohibitions, violation can incur lashes. Female homosexuality is regarded as less serious than male homosexuality.
The Orthodox Jewish position generally holds that homosexual attraction is not inherently sinful, though it is regarded as unnatural.
However, someone who has had homosexual intercourse is seen to have allowed their "unnatural attractions" to get the better of them, and it is thus believed that they would be held accountable by God for their actions.
If he does teshuva (repentance), i.e. he ceases his forbidden actions, regrets what he has done, apologizes to God, and makes a binding resolution never to repeat those actions, he is seen to be forgiven by God (in a similar manner to the other capital crimes, except murder).
Pope Francis arrived at the ancient Iraqi city of Ur on Saturday to hold a historic interreligious meeting on the second day of his landmark visit to the country.
The pontiff is in Iraq to encourage Christians to return home after years of persecution and violence.
The visit is Pope Frances's first international trip since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic – and the first-ever papal visit to Iraq. Located near the city of Nasiriyah, in modern-day Dhi Qar governorate, in southern Iraq, Ur is believed to be the birthplace of Abraham – who is revered by all Abrahamic faiths.
Alongside Christians, those taking part include Muslims, and religious minorities, including Yazidis and Sabeans.
The interfaith meeting began with a reading of passages from the Bible, followed by Quranic verses from the Sura of Abraham.
The most senior Iraqi official at the event is Abdel Ghani Al Assadi, governor of Dhi Qar. No senior Iraqi political leaders are attending in order to keep the event a religious rather than political meeting.
Abraham was born and raised in Ur of the Chaldees, which is in modern Iraq, near Nasiriyah in the southeastern part of the country. Joshua 24:2 says that Abraham and his father worshiped idols.
We can make some educated guesses about their religion by looking at the history and religious artifacts from that period.
Ur of the Chaldees was an ancient city that flourished until about 300 BC.
The great ziggurat of Ur was built by Ur-Nammu around 2100 BC and was dedicated to Nanna, the moon god. The moon [Nanna, Allah, Mary, mother of Jesus..etc] was worshiped as the power that controlled the heavens and the life cycle on earth.
To the Chaldeans, the phases of the moon represented the natural cycle of birth, growth, decay, and death and also set the measurement of their yearly calendar. Among the pantheon of Mesopotamian gods, Nanna was supreme, because he was the source of fertility for crops, herds, and families. Prayers and offerings were offered to the moon to invoke its blessing.
When God (the God of Ezra & Joshua) called Abraham in Genesis 12:1, He told Abraham to leave his country, his kindred, and his father’s house. Everything familiar was to be left behind, and that included his [Moon] religion.
The Ziggurat (or Great Ziggurat) of Ur is a Neo-Sumerian ziggurat in what was the city of Ur near Nasiriyah, in present-day Dhi Qar Province, Iraq.
The structure was built during the Early Bronze Age (21st century BCE) but had crumbled to ruins by the 6th century BCE of the Neo-Babylonian period, when it was restored by King Nabonidus.
Its remains were excavated in the 1920s and 1930s by Sir Leonard Woolley. Under Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, they were encased by a partial reconstruction of the façade and the monumental staircase.
The ziggurat was a piece in a temple complex that served as an administrative center for the city, and which was a shrine of the moon god Nanna, the patron deity of Ur.
"So we stand unshaken, clear in our mind and vision as to truth against falsehood, the colour black, which represents darkness, wickedness and aberration, as opposed to the colour white which represents truth, justice, fairness, purity, virtue, adherence to principle and defending these principles against those who abandoned them..., blind in both heart and conscience." Saddam Hussein, 16-11-2002
Speaking at a conference hosted by Makor Rishon, Dore Gold, the former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and former advisor to prime ministers Netanyahu and Sharon, blasted the Yesha Council (the umbrella organization representing Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria) for its opposition to the Trump plan.
Gold, who currently serves as President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and advised the Trump administration in its drafting of its Middle East peace plan, said that Israel “could have secured for future generations a wonderful map that would have protected the country.”
The former ambassador mused that if Trump had won reelection, Israel would likely now have official diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia.
“We’d have diplomatic ties with the Saudis. Back during the Second Intifada, the Saudis funded 50-70% of Hamas’ budget. Today that’s down to 0%.
Now it is Iran supplying Hamas with the missiles they’re launching. That means that it is our [Israel and Saudi Arabia’s] mutual foe who is responsible for the improvement in relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.”
Regarding the change in administrations in the White House, Gold said that while the Trump administration was the most supportive of Israel on many core issues, the Biden administration’s opposition to the Hague probe of Israel “has been wonderful”.
“President Trump was the friendliest on issues that are important to use: the settlements, Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and even the possibility of annexing the Jordan Valley.”
“Biden is coming from a different direction, though he was a hawkish Democrat when he was a senator, and was also a supporter of Israel.
His administration’s behavior on the issue of the ICC probe has been wonderful.” Gold excoriated the International Criminal Court over its decision to probe Israel for alleged “war crimes”...
Senior Chabad Lubavitch rabbi in Israel, Rabbi Tuvia Blau, joined other Chabad figures in calling on the community not to vote for MK Bezalel Smotrich's Religious Zionism party, but to throw their support behind the Ashkenazic-haredi United Torah Judaism (UTJ).
netanyahu - kushner as chabadnik - trump & chabad 2018
"All the efforts to present an image of Chabad as 'liberal' and 'advanced,' while making nice to every secular in the name of 'loving your fellow Jew' have created chaos, which prevents, among other things, the appropriate modesty...for their wives and daughters," he said. "The Rebbe is the only one who sets the Chabad path, and the plot to turn the Chabad movement into a 'modern and open' 'State of Tel Aviv' is ruined by those who listen to the Rebbe's holy instructions to vote for the UTJ party in the elections."
Rabbi Blau also detailed the disadvantages that the Religious Zionism party presents for the Chabad voter: "A haredi list is not one in which the number two spot is [filled by] a woman, when there is a complete prohibition to vote for a party in which there is a woman. In addition, according to how she conducts herself, as they have publicized, she is far from being considered 'haredi.'"
"A haredi list is not one in which the candidates announce that the State of Israel 'is the beginning of our redemption,' when the Rebbe said that a statement such as this causes bloodshed and delays the Redemption. A haredi party is not one in which candidates promise to enlist yeshiva students [in the IDF = army]....when the Rebbe expressed his holy opinion very sharply, against enlisting yeshiva students.
"A haredi list is not one in which its candidates require National Service for girls, when the Rebbe expressed his holy opinion very sharply, against National Service for girls." [..]
"And most importantly, a real Chabad hasid who is connected to the Rebbe knows that it is a privilege and an obligation to fulfill the Rebbe's holy directives..." <
UTJ, he said, "has consistently opposed in the Knesset giving up any part of the Land of Israel... Everyone knows that UTJ is an integral part of what is called 'the right wing bloc.'
United Torah Judaism (Yahadut HaTorah) is a joint list made up of the ultra-Orthodox parties Agudat Israel and Degel HaTorah.
These two parties have run together since the elections for the 13th Knesset in 1992. United Torah Judaism (UTJ) promotes the interests of the Haredi community in Israel in the areas of education and welfare and regarding specific issues such as army service. It works to preserve the religious character of the State of Israel.
Regarding foreign policy and security, United Torah Judaism is a centrist party, which determines its positions based on religious concerns more than security concerns or diplomatic considerations. The party does tend to support the right-wing camp, because that camp tends to have a more conservative outlook on religious issues.
Ya'akov Asher (born 2 July 1965) is an Israeli Haredi rabbi and politician.
MK Yakov Asher (United Torah Judaism), who heads the Knesset's Coalition, Law, and Justice Committee, has said that his proposal to change the Racism Law to include haredim has met with support from the Likud party.
This proposal, he added, would be a condition for the haredi parties entering the next coalition.
"There was agreement from the Likud for my bill to amend the Racism Law so that it includes the word 'haredim' as well," Asher told Kol Hai Radio. "It was placed on the Knesset's table a few months ago, but there was no active legislation in this government."
"This amendment will be our condition for [joining] the next government, so that there will be deterrence for people like [MK Avigdor] Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu), so they know that they may sit in prison for their statements."
On Saturday, Avigdor Liberman promised that he "will send the haredim, together with Netanyahu, in one wheelbarrow to a garbage dump."
"In an attempt to gain another quarter of a Knesset seat [based on] blind hatred of religion and haredim, Liberman is willing to use any expression possible, no matter how low. It's time to put an end to the incitement against the haredi community, which in the past year has reached worrisome heights," Yakov Asher said.
Housing Minister Yakov Litzman (UTJ) responded: "The temptation to hate and the urge to incite which motivate Evet Liberman have caused him to cross the line into a discourse of sewage and despicable words...."
Turkey and Egypt have had their first diplomatic contact since breaking off relations in 2013, according to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
“We have had contacts both at the level of intelligence and foreign ministries with Egypt. Diplomatic-level contacts have started,” Turkey’s state-run Anadolu state news agency quoted Cavusoglu as saying on Friday.
Anadolu also quoted Cavusoglu as saying that a lack of trust was normal at the early stages of talks, and that neither side put forward preconditions.
“For this reason, negotiations are taking place and continuing under a certain strategy, road map,” he said. Ties between Egypt and Turkey deteriorated after a military coup spearheaded by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi removed the Ankara-backed President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
Turkey and Egypt then expelled each others’ ambassadors and downgraded their relations.
Erdogan has repeatedly referred to el-Sisi as a “putchist president” he holds responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians. But the Turkish leader has said little about el-Sisi of late while toning down his language on a range of international affairs.
Cavusoglu said on Friday that Turkey was also ready to improve relations with the United Arab Emirates – one of its biggest regional rivals – as well as Saudi Arabia.
“We have been seeing more positive messages lately from Abu Dhabi,” he said.
Turkey’s relations with Saudi Arabia deteriorated sharply after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Riyadh’s Istanbul consulate in 2018.
A group of 16 countries, including Iran, Russia and China, are reportedly pushing to create a coalition at the United Nations to counter the use or threat of force and unilateral sanctions by the West.
The coalition, known as “Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations,” also includes Syria, Palestine, North Korea, Venezuela and Cuba as member states.
Other founding members of the group are Algeria, Angola, Belarus, Bolivia, Cambodia, Eritrea, Laos, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Viewed by Reuters, a concept note for the group said the imposition of coercive measures and withdrawal from global agreements were signs of growing unilateralism.
“The world is seeing a growing resort to unilateralism, marked by isolationist and arbitrary actions, including the imposition of unilateral coercive measures or the withdrawal from landmark agreements and multilateral institutions, as well as by attempts to undermine critical efforts to tackle common and global challenges,” it added.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has opened two more sections of a pipeline carrying Persian Gulf water to arid regions deep into the Iranian Plateau.
Rouhani used a video conference call on Sunday to roll out the extensions on the pipeline which brings desalinated sea water to the central province of Yazd where Iran’s sprawling iron mills and other key industries are located. A first phase of the project had been opened in November when water from the Persian Gulf reached Sirjan in southeastern Kerman province.
Water is now pumped from Sirjan to copper smelters in Sarcheshme, the hub of Iran’s copper industry, and then to the Chadormalu mining complex, the largest iron ore producer in the Middle East located near Ardakan.
The massive project has been financed by private investment and loans from Iran’s sovereign wealth fund.
Rouhani hailed the transfer of Persian Gulf water to central and eastern Iran as a historic achievement and a huge endeavor which would positively affect the social and economic development in Iran.
“This project has always been a dream for all authorities in the country,” said the Iranian president as he vowed that Iran’s share of taking water from the Persian Gulf for desalination purposes would increase massively in the upcoming years.
The European Union is standing firm on sanctions against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and will not support reconstruction for the war-torn country until the dictator in Damascus steps aside.
“There will be no end to sanctions, no normalizations and no support for reconstruction until a political transition is underway,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s top foreign affairs official, said Tuesday at a European Parliament debate marking the 10th anniversary of Syria’s unresolved civil war.
Borrell doubled down on the EU’s stance that providing international reconstruction aid to Syrian territory under Assad’s control would vindicate the dictator’s “crushing” of the country’s 2011 uprising and “pursuing a war until the whole country gets on its knees.”
The EU’s policy, initially spearheaded by the United States, seeks to isolate Assad until free and fair elections are held in Syria, as called for by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254.
The top diplomat said the EU is prepared to provide "substantial support" for Syria's reconstruction once elections are held, according to the political process outlined in Resolution 2254.. Borrell's comments came the same day as the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) top diplomat called for the Damascus regime to be restored to the Arab League, and for “joint action” with its regime and private sector to help the country return “to normal.”
Speaking alongside Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Dubai Tuesday, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE's foreign minister, said that Washington’s pressure on its allies and partners to withhold reconstruction money for Syria “make[s] matters difficult.” The UAE opened its first diplomatic mission in Damascus in 2018 for the first time since Assad’s regime was ousted from the Arab League in 2011.
Ahrar al-Sham is not designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, the United Nations, or the European Union.
Since December 2015, the UN Security Council has been trying to assemble a list of terrorist groups in Syria. Syria, Iraq, Russia, Lebanon, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates support classifying Ahrar al-Sham as a terrorist group, but they have not been able to achieve a unanimous consensus...
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Western powers to throw their support behind Turkey in Syria in an op-ed published in Bloomberg on Monday. Erdogan presented Turkey as a stabilizing force in Syria despite the fact that Ankara played a crucial role in fueling the war in its early stages in 2011 by training and sheltering the opposition group known as the Free Syrian Army.
Throughout the war, Turkey has backed various groups in Syria, including militias aligned with al-Qaeda affiliates.
friends of turkey in aleppo - syria - 2013
In 2020, Turkey sent thousands of fighters into Idlib province to halt a Syrian government offensive to retake the territory. Idlib is currently controlled mostly by Hayat Tahir al-Sham (HTS), an al-Qaeda affiliate formerly known as al-Nusra Front.
Turkey tries not to directly support HTS due to its al-Qaeda affiliation, but there have been instances of Turkish-backed militants fighting alongside HTS, and Ankara is suspected of coordinating with the group.
But Erdogan insists the so-called “moderate rebels” of Syria have been wrongly smeared.
“Unfortunately, the moderate rebels, our local partners, have become the target of a coordinated smear campaign despite their hard work and sacrifice to defeat ISIS and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, another designated terrorist organization,” Erdogan wrote in Bloomberg.
Erdogan said the most “sensible option” in Syria for Western powers is to “throw their weight behind Turkey and become part of the solution in Syria, at minimum cost and with maximum impact.” But one of Erdogan’s conditions for this plan is for the West to cut off support for Kurdish forces in northeast Syria, something the Biden administration would likely never go for.
While he doesn’t outright call for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Erdogan says Turkey and the West must “show the world that there is a democratic and prosperous alternative for Syria’s future.”
TOBRUK--Libya’s new Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah was sworn in Monday to lead the war-torn country’s transition to elections in December, after seven years of chaos and division.
Dbeibah, selected at UN-sponsored talks in February alongside an interim three-member presidency council, took the oath of office in front of a reunited HoR in the eastern city of Tobruk, more than than 1,000 kilometres from the capital Tripoli.
Dbeibah’s swearing-in comes after parliament last week approved his cabinet, in a move hailed by key leaders and foreign powers as “historic.”
His government includes two deputy prime ministers, 26 ministers and six ministers of state, with five posts including the key foreign affairs and justice portfolios handed to women, a first in Libya. “This will be the government of all Libyans,” Dbeibah said after the vote. “Libya is one and united.”
His administration, known as the Government of National Unity is expected to replace both the UN-recognised Government of National Accord, based in Tripoli, and the parallel Thani cabinet headquartered in the east, under the de facto control of forces of Khalifa Haftar. Outgoing GNA head Fayez al-Sarraj has said he is “fully ready to hand over” power as has Thani, while Haftar last month offered “the support of the armed forces for the peace process.”
Dbeibah, 61, a wealthy businessman from the western port city of Misrata, once held posts under Gadhafi but has shown no clear ideological position. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Toronto in engineering and his expertise introduced him to Gadhafi’s inner circle which led him to head a company managing huge construction projects.
Just as expected, the Geneva talks on a new Syrian constitution collapsed in late January. Since then, hopes for a breakthrough in the Syrian crisis have receded into the far distance.
As the tragedy enters its 12th year, however, foreign stakeholders appear to be shifting their positions. They have evidently wearied of that protracted crisis, which would never have grown so complex, intractable and tragic had it not been for their interference to begin with.
Last week, Turkey and Qatar joined Russia in launching what Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu described as a “new trilateral consultation process... to contribute to efforts to reach a lasting political solution” to the conflict in war-torn Syria. Ankara appears to have overcome its Bashar Al-Assad obsession and no longer cares whether he stays or goes.
So, apart from some grumbling for the sake of form, perhaps, it will voice no objections to Syria’s return to the Arab League which Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov believes will have a positive effect on conditions in the Middle East.
Qatar was calculatedly vague on this point. It said there were reasons the Syrian seat in the Arab League was still vacant but that ultimately “this is something for the Syrians to decide.”
Still, to avoid the appearance of a sharp U-turn on the part of the Qatari authorities, the Qatar-based AlJazeera TV hosted former Syrian prime minister Riyad Hijab who reiterated the prediction he made years ago after he defected from the Al-Assad regime: "The phase of change is inevitable and close at hand, and Al-Assad will not be in it.”
Daraa 2011 - Riyad Hijab 2012 & 2016
That Doha served as the venue for this tripartite meeting is ironic. Exactly a decade ago, the Qatari capital cheered the Daraa uprising, hailing it as a “revolution” while omitting all mention of the fact that it was consummately Salafi in identity.
For opponents of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, the policy reversals embodied in the Doha meeting were an occasion to critique Erdogan, whom they reminded of how he had leagued with the Qataris to back the extremists in the Syrian uprising, imagining it was possible to engineer the overthrow of Al-Assad in a matter of weeks or months....
Erdogan’s critics also reminded him of how, on 2 February 2011, the Muslim Brotherhood (whose leaders and media organs are hosted and sponsored by Turkey) seized the opportunity of the 29th anniversary of the Hama Massacre to proclaim a “Day of Rage” in Syria...
Meanwhile, Ankara has been coming under attack from the US and Europe for its interventions and aggressive behaviour in all directions, including Syria.
The EU Parliament’s resolution of 11 March 2021 on the Syrian conflict was unprecedented in the breadth and tone of its censure.
It stated that “Turkey has been intervening directly in Syria since 2016 with a view to occupying the northern parts of the country, predominantly consisting of Syrian Kurdish enclaves, in violation of international law” and called on Turkey “to withdraw its troops from northern Syria which it is illegally occupying outside of any UN mandate”.
The government attack on the city of Hama occurred in the context of mounting tensions between Assad's Baath government and Muslim extremists.
The February 1982 insurrection in Hama actually marked the culmination of a three-year period of violent political unrest in Syria, with attacks by Muslim fundamentalists being met by government reprisals.
The final showdown came in February 1982 in the city of Hama, the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood and a stronghold of Sunni Muslim puritanism.
As 12 000 government troops combed the city for Muslim Brotherhood leaders on 2 February, the latter began a general insurrection in an attempt to capture the city.
During the night of 2-3 February 1982, a group of 150-200 armed men moved into Hamah under the command of Umar Jawad, local head of the organization of the ‘Brothers’, better known by the name of ‘Abu Bakr’. The watchword was to attack the main political officials affiliated to the government, including cadres of the Ba’ath Party, senior administrators and military heads.
Exactions were committed by members of the commando and reference has been made to a dozen Ba’ath cadres assassinated in their homes with their wives and children.
In addition, the liquidation of clerics who had publicly condemned the crimes of the Tali ‘a al-muqatila (‘fighting vanguard’), the armed wing of the Muslim Brothers in Syria, was reported. In all, 90 people were killed. The high command of the Muslim Brotherhood declared in a communiqué that Hamah was regarded as a ‘liberated city’ and urged the population to rise up against the ‘infidels’.
The battle in Hama lasted three weeks as government forces bombarded the city. The number of casualties remains uncertain. Government sympathizers put the number at 3 000, while others put the number at 20,000...
Turkish authorities have requested Egyptian opposition channels based in the country to soften their criticism of the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi amid a rapprochement between the two regional powers, sources have told Middle East Eye.
A senior Turkish government official who was briefed about the issue told MEE on Thursday that the heads of Mekameleen and Al-Sharq, two Egyptian satellite TV channels, were told to tone down their criticism of the Egyptian government.
"They were just asked to soften their political criticisms against the Egyptian government and stop personally attacking Sisi," the official said on condition of anonymity.
The official said "there is no need for panic" and allegations that Turkey was going to close down the channels were untrue.
A senior source at Mekameleen TV told MEE the Turkish government had formally requested the channel to "adjust its editorial line in accordance with journalistic professionalism". The source confirmed Turkey did not ask the channels to close down.
Ankara has been at loggerheads with Cairo since the 2013 military coup led by then defence minister Sisi against his democratically elected predecessor, Mohamed Morsi.
Morsi was a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest political movement - now crushed by Sisi. He was backed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had refused to acknowledge Sisi's legitimacy following the coup.
The two regional powers have also sparred over several issues in recent years, including the war in Libya, where they backed rival sides, and maritime disagreements. In recent weeks statements from both sides have hinted at fresh efforts to mend relations through formal diplomatic contacts.
For months before the Iraq War began, I and many others wrote, in print and on-line, about the outrageous lies that were being told by the US government and its media sycophants to bring about this mass-murdering act of aggression.
How did we know they were lies? Not from any secret knowledge or insider info, but simply by reading the mainstream media stories of previous years, especially the ones from the mid-1990s that detailed how Saddam's regime had destroyed its WMD program, and how the US and UK governments always had the evidence for this, and knew there were no Iraqi WMDs throughout the propaganda build-up to the war.
We also read the current news of that time, which detailed how Iraq had completely opened itself to the UN inspectors that the US/UK demanded in early 2003, how these inspections were going forward and finding nothing (or rather, confirming what had been reported and what US/UK leaders had known since the mid-1990s.)
And we read how the UN inspectors were ordered by the US and UK to leave Iraq in March 2003 -- before they had completed their UN-mandated inspection -- because Bush/Cheney and the Pentagon had already decided the attack must begin in mid-March.
The war came.
Thousands upon thousands of innocent people -- whose lives were worth just as much as those of anyone reading these words right now -- were murdered, slaughtered, destroyed. Millions of lives were ruined. Many, many thousands were tortured. Whole nations were destabilized.
The American occupiers recruited, armed and paid local militias of extremists to help them brutally repress the victims of the invasion. Many others were radicalized by their torture in US and UK prisons. The US invasion directly gave rise to ISIS and a whole decade of unimaginable horror and conflict across the region.
Again, all of this was based on demonstrable lies, which many of us called out at the time as lies, using freely available, perfectly "respectable" press reports as the foundation of our opposition to this war crime.
Every single person in power who supported the war in Iraq at that time knew everything we ordinary citizens knew at that time.
So what happened to the perpetrators of this murderous atrocity? Nothing.
What happened to those in power, both in politics and media, who supported this mass murder? Nothing. Absolutely nothing...
Look, I recognize the realities of life. I know we live in a fallen world. I know that we are often faced with choosing what we hope will be the lesser of the evils that confront us.
I don’t demand perfect moral purity in the reeking, blood-choked cesspool of our power systems. But I cannot and I will not forget what these people have done, what they have countenanced, what they have championed....
Moscow supports the idea of forming a widest coalition of countries that stand against unilateral sanctions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Chinese mass media.
According to the Russian top diplomat, any initiatives geared against such an illegitimate instrument as unilateral sanctions "deserve all possible support." "Venezuela came out with an initiative at the United Nations to establish a coalition against unilateral measures of compulsion," the minister recalled.
"By the way, the organization has a special envoy, a special rapporteur on issues of countering unilateral sanctions. The rapporteur voices very balanced, objective attitudes."
"Such initiatives should be encouraged. We must form a maximally wide coalition of countries that would combat this illegal practice," Lavrov stressed
The US sanctions risks need to be alleviated by switching to alternative currencies and moving away from using the dollar, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
"We need to reduce sanctions risks by strengthening our technological independence, by switching to payments in national currencies and in world currencies, alternative to the dollar. We need to move away from the use of Western-controlled international payment systems," Lavrov said in an interview with Chinese media, published by the Russian Foreign Ministry. The minister said the US is aiming to limit the technological development of Russia and China, so the two countries need to strengthen their independence.
"They are promoting their ideologised agenda aimed at maintaining their dominance by holding back the development of other countries. This policy runs counter to the objective trend and, as it was customary to say, is ‘on the wrong side of history.’ The historical process will still take its toll," Lavrov said.
China is a truly strategic partner of Russia and a like-minded country, and their mutually trusting and respectful dialogue should serve as an example to other countries, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said.
"Current Russia-China relations are assessed both by our national leaders and citizens as the best in their entire history. This is a well-deserved and fair assessment," Lavrov told Xinhua..
In his view, to a large extent, the bilateral ties have reached such an unprecedented level thanks to the China-Russia Treaty of Good-neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation signed in July 2001. "The model of interaction between Russia and China is absolutely free from any ideological constraints. It is of an intrinsic nature, not subject to any opportunistic factors nor against any third country," he stressed.
Lavrov noted that the international situation is undergoing profound changes, with new centers of economic, financial and political influence growing stronger.
"However, these objective developments, which are leading to the formation of a truly multipolar and democratic world, are unfortunately being hindered by Western countries, particularly the United States," he said.
In response, Russia and China are promoting a constructive and unifying agenda and hope that the international governance system would be fair and democratic, run smoothly and be based on extensive interaction between countries and their integration initiatives, he noted.
US President Joe Biden vowed that he would not allow China to become the world’s
“leading” country during his first press conference on Thursday. His comments come as US-China tensions are soaring, and the two countries’ relationship is at its lowest point in decades.
"Instead of establishing a new balance of power, essential for maintaining order and stability, the USA took steps that threw the global system into sharp and deep imbalance..." Vladimir Putin 2014
“I see stiff competition with China,” Biden said. “China has an overall goal … to become the leading country in the world, the wealthiest country in the world, and the most powerful country in the world. That’s not going to happen on my watch, because United States is going to continue to grow and expand.”
President Biden spoke of his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who Biden got to know while both leaders were serving as vice presidents. “I spent hours upon hours with him alone with an interpreter,” Biden said. “He is very, very straightforward. Doesn’t have a democratic — with a small ‘D’ — bone in his body.” Using Cold War-style language, Biden framed the situation on the world stage as a battle between democracy and autocracy, and compared Xi to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “He’s one of the guys, like Putin, who thinks that autocracy is the wave of the future and democracy can’t function in an ever — an ever-complex world,” he said.
While he’s taking a similar approach to China as President Trump, the Biden administration has been able to rally its European allies to take action against China.
On Monday, the US, EU, UK, and Canada all announced sanctions on Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on the US’s European and NATO Allies to unite against Beijing in Brussels on Wednesday (24-2)
Libya's eastern administration on Tuesday officially handed over power to a new executive that is meant to unify the war-torn country and steer it towards elections late this year.
The Government of National Unity (GNU), selected through a UN-supported process, is the latest internationally backed bid to end a decade of chaos in the North African nation and unite rival administrations.
Led by interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, the GNU replaces both the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and a parallel cabinet headquartered in the Cyrenaica region... The handover of power took place at the seat of the parallel eastern government, headed until now by Abdallah al-Thani, in Libya's second city Benghazi.
The handover came a week after Fayez al-Sarraj, the outgoing head of the western-based GNA, formally ceded power to the new unity administration. Hussein Attiya al-Gotrani, one of Dbeibah's two deputy premiers, and several ministers who had come from the capital Tripoli, including Interior Minister Khaled Mazen, represented the GNU...
"The period of division is over," Gotrani was quoted by local media as saying. "The Government of National Unity is at the service of all Libyans, whatever their region."
Libya descended into conflict after Moamer Kadhafi was toppled and killed in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011, with an array of forces battling to fill the void.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has signed the 25-year Sino-Iranian comprehensive strategic partnership in a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Wang earlier hailed close relations with Iran, saying the strategic ties between the two countries remain “permanent” regardless of conditions.
He made the remarks in a meeting with Ali Larijani, an advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, in Tehran on Saturday.
China is Iran's leading trade partner and was the biggest buyer of Iranian oil before then U.S. President Donald Trump reimposed sweeping unilateral sanctions in 2018 after abandoning a nuclear agreement with Tehran.
"We believe this document can be very effective in deepening" Iran-China relations, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Said Khatibzadeh said, recalling that the pact had first been proposed during a visit to Tehran by Chinese President Xi Jinping in January 2016.
Xi and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani agreed then to establish a roadmap for "reciprocal investments in the fields of transport, ports, energy, industry and services." The deal forms part of China's trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, a plan to fund infrastructure projects and increase its sway overseas that has been a marquee project for Xi.
As 10 years of protracted conflict in Syria have brought untold suffering to the country and its people, many issues with regard to the current situation in the country warrant deep reflections, said a Chinese envoy on Monday.
Facts have proved time and again that respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity is an international norm that must be upheld, said Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations.
Political solution is the only viable way to address hot-spot issues. Supporting the path of development chosen by the people of every country that suits its national conditions is the fundamental way, he told the Security Council.
Regime change is not an option, nor will it work. Unilateral sanctions can only aggravate the situation. External military interference can only cause greater disasters and serious consequences, he warned. Under the current circumstances, the international community should adopt a holistic approach, integrating the political, security, economic, and humanitarian aspects, so as to jointly promote the early achievement of peace, security, and development, said Zhang.
He called for commitment to the right direction of a political settlement, improving the humanitarian situation, lifting unilateral sanctions and economic blockade, and ending foreign occupation and fighting terrorism.
China calls on all parties in Syria to cooperate with the UN mediation, to jointly promote progress in the work of the Constitutional Committee. The Syrian political process should adhere to the Syrian-led and Syrian-owned principle and the international community should firmly support the Syrian people in exploring their path of development, he said.
The Constitutional Committee should remain independent and free from external interference. The Astana process and related regional countries can play a coordinating and facilitating role. China welcomes the fact that relevant Arab states are positively considering Syria's return to the Arab League. This is conducive to advancing the political process in Syria, which should be encouraged and supported by the international community, he added.
"We must fully leverage the leading role of the Syrian government so as to fundamentally improve the humanitarian situation on the ground," said Zhang.
Given the acute pandemic and food security issues in Syria, targeted relief assistance should be provided with a focus on the humanitarian needs of women, children, and other vulnerable groups.
The international community should support the United Nations in opening the humanitarian delivery route from Damascus to the northwest as soon as possible, which will gradually reduce Syria's reliance on a cross-border mechanism, he said.
“The war in Syria is not only Syria’s war,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday. “Ending it, and the tremendous suffering it continues to cause, is a collective responsibility Today, we must all commit fully to achieving that goal.”
He again called for a political resolution to the conflict and reiterated that there can be no military solution. He added that the country is in a kind of limbo as “the situation continues to drift toward one of no war, no peace.”
“Credible progress” in the work of the Syrian Constitutional Committee is, Guterres said, a critical step toward the implementation of Resolution 22454. This calls for the drafting of a new constitution that will pave the way for free and fair elections, under the auspices of the UN, in which all Syrians, including the diaspora, will have the right to vote....
This could be a foundation on which to build trust, Guterres said, as he again stressed that the fate of the Syrians is not “solely in their hands” given that several foreign armed forces are active in the country.
March 15 marked the 10th anniversary of the start of the war in Syria...
“The massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Syria over the past decade shock the conscience,” he said.
He called on member states to show “generous support” by donating the $10 billion required to provide humanitarian for more than 12 million people in need across Syria and about 6 million refugees in neighboring countries....
“After a decade of war, many Syrians have lost confidence that the international community can help them forge an agreed path out of the conflict,” he said. But he vowed to continue relentlessly to pursue a political settlement to the conflict that creates the necessary conditions for the safe and voluntary return of refugees.
In his former role as high commissioner for refugees, Guterres said he not only witnessed the “dramatic suffering” of Syrian refugees but was also inspired by the “enormous generosity and solidarity” of the Syrian people in years gone by when they welcomed millions refugees from Iraq and Palestine who sought refuge in their country.
April 9, 2013 marks ten years since the fall of Baghdad. Ten years since the invasion.
Since the lives of millions of Iraqis changed forever. It’s difficult to believe. It feels like only yesterday I was sharing day to day activities with the world. I feel obliged today to put my thoughts down on the blog once again, probably for the last time.
In 2003, we were counting our lives in days and weeks. Would we make it to next month? Would we make it through the summer? Some of us did and many of us didn't.
Back in 2003, one year seemed like a lifetime ahead. The idiots said, “Things will improve immediately.” The optimists were giving our occupiers a year, or two… The realists said, “Things won’t improve for at least five years.” And the pessimists? The pessimists said, “It will take ten years. It will take a decade.”
Looking back at the last ten years, what have our occupiers and their Iraqi governments given us in ten years? What have our puppets achieved in this last decade? What have we learned? We learned a lot.
We learned that while life is not fair, death is even less fair- it takes the good people. Even in death you can be unlucky. Lucky ones die a ‘normal’ death… A familiar death of cancer, or a heart-attack, or stroke. Unlucky ones have to be collected in bits and pieces... We learned that you can be floating on a sea of oil, but your people can be destitute. Your city can be an open sewer; your women and children can be eating out of trash dumps and begging for money in foreign lands. We learned that justice does not prevail in this day and age. Innocent people are persecuted and executed daily. Some of them in courts, some of them in streets, and some of them in the private torture chambers. We are learning that corruption is the way to go. You want a passport issued? Pay someone. You want a document ratified? Pay someone. You want someone dead? Pay someone.
We are learning that those amenities we took for granted before 2003, you know- the luxuries – electricity, clean water from faucets, walkable streets, safe schools – are for people who don’t allow occupiers into their country. We’re learning that the biggest fans of the occupation (you know who you are, you traitors) eventually leave abroad. And where do they go? The USA, most likely, with the UK a close second...
We’re learning that the masks are off. No one is ashamed of the hypocrisy anymore. You can be against one country (like Iran), but empowering them somewhere else (like in Iraq). You can claim to be against religious extremism (like in Afghanistan), but promoting religious extremism somewhere else (like in Iraq and Egypt and Syria).
Those who didn’t know it in 2003 are learning (much too late) that an occupation is not the portal to freedom and democracy. The occupiers do not have your best interests at heart.
We are learning that ignorance is the death of civilized societies and that everyone thinks their particular form of fanaticism is acceptable. We are learning how easy it is to manipulate populations with their own prejudices and that politics and religion never mix, even if a super-power says they should mix...
In the past few months, Grayzone journalist Aaron Mate has interviewed two former ambassadors to Syria: former UK Ambassador Peter Ford and former US Ambassador Robert S. Ford. The two ambassadors have a common surname but dramatically different perspectives.
Peter Ford was Ambassador to Bahrain from 1999 to 2003, then Syria from 2003 to 2006. He analyzes and criticizes western aggression against Syria.
- PF describes the crushing economic sanctions: " It’s utterly shocking…The policy has been effective in the sense that Syrian people are suffering every day. There are long queues for bread, long queues for gasoline. The policy of sanctions and denial of assistance for reconstruction has been effective, but what kind of policy is it that tries to immiserate a whole country?"
= PF analyzes the US troops in north eastern Syria: "By their mere presence, they’re preventing the advance of the Syrian government forces. The result is that the Syrian people are denied the great oil and grain wealth of that triangle, the territory. And, so the war over the last year has been more an economic war than a military war…"
- PF describes what the war is and is NOT about: "US policy is NOT about installing in Syria a democratic government, because there is no prospect of that while the US is effectively supporting Islamist fanatics, and while it’s supporting elsewhere in the Middle East regimes like the feudal regime of Saudi Arabia. No, it’s not about democracy. It’s about helping Israel on the one hand and scoring points against Russia on the other..
- PF comments on the role of the White Helmets: "The White Helmets’ role is absolutely crucial, pivotal to the Western effort to undermine Syria through accusations of the use of chemical weapons.. And this is the role of the White Helmets. They produced the phony pictures of phony incidents which constitute the smoking gun.
- PF predicts what may happen ahead: "I think things are likely to get worse, rather than better. What we’ll probably see is simply a continuation of the status quo. The current policies will simply be extended… to prolong the conflict, to prevent Assad gaining military victory, the continuation of economic warfare to try to bring Assad to his knees..."
US Ambassador Robert S. Ford was Ambassador to Syria from the end of 2010 until 2014 when the US terminated diplomatic relations with Syria. He has continued as an unofficial advisor on Syria policy.
- RSF implies the sanctions on Syria are just: "There’s a desperate desire for justice after all the war crimes committed in Syria. And I think getting rid of the sanctions is going to be a much harder battle to fight in the Congress. So, the sanctions have very strong approval in Congress…"
- RSF maintains the initial protests were “almost entirely peaceful”: "In March and April, May into June, the protests were almost entirely peaceful. That’s not to say there was no violence. In the first protest, for example, in Daraa, in which we’re now coming up on the 10-year anniversary, yeah, the protesters did attack the telephone office [Syriatel]... They did attack a court building…
- RSF acknowledges US allies were sending weapons early but claims the US began sending weapons in 2013: "Those countries [Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey] did send in weapons before the Americans… I supported arming factions of the Free Syrian Army as early as the summer of 2012. And it took the president a year to get to a decision."
- RSF claims the Syrian government has primary responsibility for the war and are the “bad guys”:
One side from the beginning was using torture and shooting at innocent people, thousands of arrests. And one side was trying peacefully, for a very large part, to bring about change. And, unfortunately, in this instance, the bad guys won...
- RSF criticizes Turkey: "I’m never going to justify the Turks allowing Salafi jihadists to go into Syria. I think that I’ve already said that that was a bad mistake. And we criticized them at the time of playing with snakes. I’m never going to justify it.
But I have to say, , that in the end, they came in response to what the Assad government was already doing. And so, the principal responsibility … do the Americans have a share of responsibility? Of course, we do. Yeah. It was our anti-tank missiles blowing up Syrian government tanks, and not just a few; I mean, hundreds of them.
- RSF wants to increase humanitarian aid to Syria refugees: Something the Americans could do that would be hugely helpful is to increase humanitarian aid to the Syrian refugees that number some five million, particularly in Lebanon, where their living circumstances are precarious, very precarious, but also in Jordan and Turkey… I’d like to spend less on the military operation and much more on humanitarian aid.
The European Union has announced that officials from the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear deal will meet virtually on Friday to discuss a possible return of the United States to the landmark accord, an initiative welcomed by Washington as “a positive step”.
“Participants will discuss the prospect of a possible return of the United States to the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) and how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the agreement by all sides,” the EU said in statement on Thursday, referring to the deal by its formal name.
Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, in 2018 unilaterally withdrew from the deal, a landmark pact signed in Vienna three years earlier by Iran, China, Russia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the US. Trump also re-imposed punishing US sanctions, prompting Iran, after waiting more than a year, to violate some of the pact’s nuclear restrictions in retaliation.
The punitive measures have crippled life in Iran, hampering the government from importing food, medicine and COVID-19 vaccines.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US welcomed Friday’s meeting as “a positive step”.
“We have been clear for weeks now that we are ready to pursue a return to compliance with our JCPOA commitments consistent with Iran also doing the same,” said Price, adding that Washington was willing to achieve that “through a series of initial mutual steps”.
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