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)
Mehr 8 in the Iranian calendar corresponding with September 30 is considered a significant cultural event for Iranians to commemorate the prominent Iranian poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi.
The land of Iran is the cradle of countless famous people and poets; one of the most famous Iranian poets is Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī, who is known as Mawlānā, Mawlawī and more popularly simply as Rumi.
Rumi was born to native Persian-speaking parents on the Eastern shores of the then Persian Empire on September 30, 1207, in the city of Balkh which is now part of Afghanistan and finally settled in the town of Konya, in what is now Turkey.
Rumi was a charming, wealthy nobleman, a genius theologian, law professor and a brilliant but sober scholar, who in his late thirties met a wandering and holy man by the name of Shams on November 30, 1244, in the streets of Konya.
For months the two mystics lived closely together, and Rumi neglected his disciples and family so that his scandalized entourage forced Shams to leave the town in February 1246.
On December 5, 1247, fanatics in the community took Shams’ life. The body disappeared. Rumi wandered for months – desolate in disbelief that his companion was really gone. One day in Damascus, he realized there was no longer a need to search. Shams was with him, in him. Rumi embodied the Friendship...
Rumi was heartbroken, and his eldest son, Sulṭan Walad, eventually brought Shams back from Syria. The family, however, could not tolerate the close relation of Rumi with Shams, and one night in 1247 Shams disappeared forever.
In the 20th century, it was established that Shams was indeed murdered, not without the knowledge of Rumi’s sons, who hurriedly buried him close to a well that is still extant in Konya.
After Shams was extinguished, Rumi fell into a deep state of grief and gradually out of that pain outpoured nearly 70,000 verses of poetry almost all in Persian that are collected in two epic books.
The first collection is devoted to his mentor Shams named, Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi. It took him 15 years to complete this collection.
After the first collection, he devotes the last ten years of his life to creating Masnavi Ma’navi. A work filled with anecdotes, life lessons, moral stories, stories from all three Abrahamic religions, and popular topics of the day.
Rumi and Shams stayed together for a short time, about 2 years in total, but the impact of their meeting left an everlasting impression on Rumi and his work.
In Rumi's own words, after meeting Shams he was transformed from a bookish, sober scholar to an impassioned seeker of universal truth and love.
His work has an all-embracing universality. A call from an independent soul yearning for true freedom from dogma and hypocrisy.
Rumi believed passionately in the use of music, poetry and dance as a path for reaching God.
For Rumi, music helped devotees to focus their whole being on the divine and to do this so intensely that the soul was both destroyed and resurrected. Rumi encouraged Sama, listening to music and turning or doing the sacred dance.
Upon his death, his followers and his son Sultan Walad founded the Mevlevi Order, also known as the Order of the Whirling Dervishes, famous for the Sufi dance known as the Sama ceremony.
In a ceremony known as Sama, dancers wear long white robes with full skirts. On the dancers’ heads sit tall conical felt hats. The dancers, who fast for many hours before the ceremony, start to turn in rhythmic patterns, using the left foot to propel their bodies around the right foot with their eyes open, but unfocused.
This is sought through abandoning one's nafs, ego or personal desires, by listening to the music, focusing on God, and spinning one's body in repetitive circles, which has been seen as a symbolic imitation of planets in the Solar System orbiting the sun.
TEHRAN – Dina Yulianti Sulaeman,, an Indonesian expert in international relationship and director of the Indonesia Center for Middle East Studies, tells the Tehran Times that Wahhabism “does not encourage rationalist thinking”.
“The doctrines put forward by Wahhabism are purification and takfirism. Such doctrines will lead to division and conflict among the Muslim world,” Yulianti remarks.
The lecturer of the International Relations Program at Universitas Padjadjaran believes that Islamic civilization requires rationality and unity. Following is the text of the interview:
Q: What is your evaluation of some sectarian tensions in West Asia that were sponsored by the West in order to sow the seeds of discord between Shia and Sunni?
A: During the ten years of the Syrian war, the West, assisted by (Persian) Gulf countries, tried to create an image that the Assad regime was a Shia regime that carried out massacres of Sunni civilians.
However, this distorted information was finally revealed. The public is now aware that the ones attacking the Syrian government and its people are takfiri groups affiliated with Al Qaeda and Daesh.
Sectarian issues are only used to mobilize fighters and seek support from Muslims around the world.
Q: Do you think Wahhabism has enough capabilities to lead the Islamic world?
A: Islamic civilization requires rationality and unity. Wahhabism, on the contrary, is very textual and does not encourage rationalist thinking.
The doctrines put forward by Wahhabism are purification and takfirism. Such doctrines will lead to division and conflict among the Muslim world. So, how is it possible for such a teaching to be the leader of the Islamic world?
Q: How can Muslim states agree on a mechanism to consolidate Islamic unity?
A: There are two conditions needed to create Islamic unity; first, it needs awareness about the importance of unity. The Muslims must realize that without unity, they continue to be marginalized and hegemonized by external forces.
Second, it is necessary to carry out internal dialogue to understand each other and resolve issues that are a source of division among Muslims.
Q: Don’t you think that Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban will turn into a new epicenter for export of terrorism?
A: It depends on the ability of the Taliban regime to fulfill its promises to the international community, including promoting unity and inclusiveness among the Afghan nation and rejecting terrorism and violence under the name of religion.
Q: Why are Muslim states trying to ignore or marginalize each other while European states succeeded to build a bloc?
A: If we look more closely, the European Union is not that united. The Covid-19 pandemic has proven that rich EU countries are selfish and refuse to help poorer European countries.
Servian president Aleksandar Vucic once criticized this selfish attitude by saying, "European solidarity does not exist… that was a fairy tale. The only country that can help us in this hard situation is the People's Republic of China. To the rest of them, thanks for nothing."
When we talk about divisions and conflicts in the Islamic world, we need to consider two factors. First, the spreading of takfirism, and second, the Western powers which in various ways, including by using the Muslims hands themselves, try to pit Muslims against each other.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) recently said that they started the spread of Wahhabism against the Soviets during the Cold War at the request of the United States.
Well, did Wahhabism not once again come to the fore with the radical terrorist acts witnessed on 9/11? To answer that, it would be useful to take a brief look at the history of this belief.
Abd al-Wahhab: Mysterious personality
"The Quran is our constitution": Brigades & battalions in Aleppo & its countryside under the umbrella of the FSA, Free Syrian Army reject to accept the coalition created by the US and vows to establish an Islamist state.
Wahhabism takes its name from the Islamic scholar Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab who was born in 1699 in Najd, located in the middle of Saudi Arabia. He traveled to various cities including Mecca and Medina and stayed in Basra for many years, where the East Indian companies were highly active. He went to Iran to study Aristotelian philosophy and met with the Ismaili missionary al-Makrami.
Returning to his hometown later, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab revealed the reformist ideas that he had acquired during his travels. He formed a new sect by mixing the ideas of the Hanbali school, one of the four sects of Sunnism, with those of Islamic scholar Ibn Taymiyyah and his own. He made an alliance with the Prince of Diriyah Muhammad bin Saud Al Muqrin and came under his protection.
Protestantism of Islam
With the reforms made during and after the reign of Elizabeth I, when the foundations of Protestantism were laid in Britain, the belief in intercession, praying for the dead, invoking the saints and giving importance to holy relics were opposed. The Wahhabism founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab became the Protestantism of Islam.
According to this belief, it was shirk (the unpardonable sin of idolatry or polytheism) to seek intercession from the spirits of the prophets, to visit the graves of saints and pray by means of them, to build tombs over graves and to value the relics left by the Prophet Muhammad and saints. Those who did these things and did not pray were considered infidels.
After Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the Saud family assumed the leadership of Wahhabism. They established their own state in Central Arabia. Since the Sunnis and Shiites were considered infidels according to their beliefs, they started to commit massacres by attacking other Muslims during the reign of Muhammad bin Saud Al Muqrin's son, Abdulaziz bin Muhammad Al Saud.
At that time, the Ottoman Empire was preoccupied with its own internal problems and threats from Russia and Europe. The empire’s dominance over Arabian lands was weakened. Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, son of Abdulaziz bin Muhammad Al Saud, took advantage of this and captured Mecca and Medina. They destroyed the graves and tombs and prevented Muslims from carrying out their pilgrimage.
Finally, the Albanian-Ottoman Governor of Egypt Muhammad Ali Pasha sent his son Ibrahim to confront the Wahhabis upon Sultan Mahmud II’s order. Ibrahim Pasha recaptured Mecca and Medina, and the Wahhabis retreated to Najd. However, Ibrahim Pasha was determined to eradicate this issue and put a seal on it. He marched on Najd and captured the Saudi capital of Diriyah.
The British Empire had been following the radical movement closely from the very beginning. The Protestants of Islam, the Wahhabis, were a potential ally for the British against the Sunni Ottomans.
After difficult travels, spies like Jesuit Gifford Palgrave, Wilfrid S. Blunt and British East India Company officer Lewis Pelly from the British Royal Geographical Society managed to contact the Saudis and sign alliance agreements... Ibn Saud, who captured Mecca and Medina with British support, was proclaimed king of Saudi Arabia in 1926.
After the establishment of the state, Britain, as it did in most of the places it occupied, pulled itself into the background and transferred its influence in Arabia to the United States. Thus, Saudi Arabia, which is said to finance radical Islamists, became America's permanent ally...
China and Russia have strengthened their political, economic and military relations this year, despite their uneasy history in the past, as both countries say they resent what they call growing pressure from the West.
So far this year, the two have held a series of military exercises and issued joint diplomatic statements aimed at Western countries.
On November 27, for example, an essay by both countries’ ambassadors to Washington protested the upcoming U.S.-led Summit for Democracy for creating divisions in the world. Neither Russia nor China appeared on the list of 110 invitees.
Russia depends on China’s massive industrial economy for oil and gas exports as environmental rules in the European Union complicate energy imports there, said Vassily Kashin, senior fellow at the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He said two-way relations were at their strongest since the 1950s.
“Most importantly, we have a common position concerning the global order, which is that we don’t like the U.S. global order, so this close partnership is based on common opposition to the U.S.-led global order,” Kashin said.
Western democracies from the United States to Australia and throughout Europe have strengthened their own ties this year at a time of concern about China’s policies.
Western governments have signaled opposition to Beijing’s aggressive language on Taiwan, its crackdown on dissenters in Hong Kong and its policies targeting a Muslim minority in China's Xinjiang region.
The Kremlin on Tuesday criticized the United States for announcing a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Olympics in Beijing, saying the Games should be "free of politics."
U.S. President Joe Biden's administration announced Monday that it will not send any U.S. diplomatic or official governmental representatives to the Games kicking off in February in a rebuke of China's human rights record. "Our position is that the Olympic Games should be free of politics," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
He said that it was positive, however, that participants were not impacted by the decision.
"What's most important in the Olympics is that the athletes are not affected," Peskov said.
Washington spent months wrangling over what position to take on the Games hosted by a country it accuses of "genocide" against Uyghur Muslims in the north-western Xinjiang region.
The move drew fiery opposition from Beijing...
Before we begin, a few basic facts, all easily verifiable with google:
- There are nearly 24000 mosques in XinJiang, of which 4,000+ were built in the last 10 years. In comparison, there are 2,769 in the USA.
- XinJiang borders 4 Muslim majority countries: Kazakhastan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Pakistan, all of which are a bus ride away for residents of XinJiang. According to every available source of data, there has been no significant number of refugees from Xinjiang region... The World Bank does not list any of these countries as significant host countries of refugees, and neither does worlddata.inf...
- The official name of the province has always been and remains today Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. If a genocide was planned, or if the intention was to suppress/erase Uyghur culture, the name of the province would have been changed to just XinJiang at least a decade ago.
- All of the world’s Muslim majority countries have come forth to applaud and commend Beijing’s humane and effective efforts at de-radicalisation through education, poverty eradication, and economic integration. .
The Mujahideen fighters and Al Qaeda were creations of the USA, fundamentalist right-wing jihadists funded by the CIA since the late 70s to 1. destroy the socialist Afghan government, 2. set a trap for the USSR which could not abide by a fundamentalist theocracy on its borders, 3. destabilise the oil rich region, and 4. ultimately, to block China’s epic development project, the Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to connect Asia and Europe through Afghanistan. Decades later [..] a new use for these fanatic tools of Washington was found: to destabilise another region crucial to the Belt and Road Initiative, Xin-Jiang.
The National Endowment for Democracy, a regime-change arm of the CIA, in accordance with DAESH forces in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, have been promoting Uyghur separatism and Islamic fundamentalism, training jihadists, recruiting vulnerable XinJiang citizens to their fundamentalism.
Uyghur terrorists have carried out 2000+ terrorist attacks since the 1990s which has victimised Uyghur and Han alike.
In response, the Communist Party of China has been dealing with the serious problem through education and poverty alleviation, the exact opposite of how the USA has responded to terrorism — dropping bombs on Middle Eastern countries, and conducting torture in places like Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay...
There is exactly zero evidence for 1 million Uyghurs in “concentration camps”, nor of any “cultural erasure”, “human rights violations”, “torture”, and even less the unbelievably brazen allegations of “genocide”...
The UN never made this announcement. It was the “opinion” of 1 US representative, based on the admitted “guesses” of a “humanitarian watch group” called ”Chinese Human Rights Defenders” based in Washington. The number “1 million” was extrapolated from the percentage of people attending the vocational schools in a single village in one part of XinJiang....
Here is a piece detailing this false claim: "No, the UN did not report China has ‘massive internment camps’ for Uighur Muslims Media outlets falsely claimed the UN reported China is holding a million Uighurs in camps. The claim is based on unsourced allegations by an American commission member, US-funded outfits, and a shadowy government-funded opposition group. (By Ben Norton and Ajit Singh, GrayZone 2018)
What does exist, what China has never hidden, are vocational schools and education and career training centers for common criminals as well as individuals infected with extremist fundamentalism with known connection to Turkic separatism and ISIS/DAESH.
There is exactly zero evidence for the she-said he-said tales of detainees “forced to drink alcohol and eat pork” under “harsh conditions”.
In fact, the Communist Party’s peaceful, humane, effective and sustainable solution to violent fundamentalist extremism, the three pronged approach of education, inclusion, and poverty alleviation, has been applauded by foreign Muslim leaders as a shining example for the entire world to learn from and follow...
The vast majority of Uyghurs are perfectly happy to be part of China, especially with recent drastic rises in standard of living, employment, and wages. It is only a tiny percentage of extremists in Xin Jiang with ties to Daesh, funded by the CIA like the Mujahideen, and indoctrinated by Wahhabi Jihadism, who are agitating for independence and the establishment of “East Turkistan”.
The Syrian war is a central element of China’s foreign fighters problem because of the presence of the Turkestan Islamic Party, a Uyghur jihadist organization with a foothold in Idlib province near the border with Turkey (Mathieu Duchatel 2019)
Here is a good article on Wikipedia on the true status of Muslims in today’s China: Islam in China:
“Information about the status of Muslims in today’s China. As can be seen Muslims in China have great latitude in the practice of their religion. The problem is not Islam or the freedom to practice it, but as elsewhere the perversion of Islam by forces with ulterior non-religious motives.
In Xinjiang this is the promotion of separatism among the Uighur minority. Separatist Uighurs, who are a minority within a minority, use Salafi jihadism as a cover for their attempt to dismember China and set up a US sponsored East Turkistan.
Jihadist-Salafism is a transnational religious-political ideology based on a belief in “physical” jihadism and the Salafi movement of returning to what adherents believe to be true Sunni Islam. Salafism is used as a cover for Uighur separatism and as a tool to recruit young Uighurs to terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and IS.
It has been reported in the Western media that there is a settlement of upwards of 16,000 Uighurs in the Idlib Governorate of Syria, that last stronghold of the Syrian “opposition.” These overseas Uighurs and their supporters in Xinjiang represent a clear and present danger to all Chinese people regardless of their ethnic identity or religious affiliation..." (Dr. Dennis Etler)
CHINA’S RESPONSE: EDUCATION
Mejit Mahmut, principal of the Kashgar Vocational Education and Training Center: “People here have been infected by extremist thoughts”. “The government wants to save and educate them.."
Senior officials, including Shohrat Zakir, Xinjiang’s governor and the region’s most senior Uighur, dismissed what they called “slanderous lies”...
Speaking in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, Shohrat Zakir said the centres had been “extremely effective” in reducing extremism by teaching residents about the law and helping them learn Mandarin.
“As time goes by, the people in the education training mechanism will be fewer and fewer,” he said.
Shohrat Zakir said he could not say exactly how many people were in the facilities. “One million people, this number is rather frightening. One million people in the education mechanism — that’s not realistic. That’s purely a rumour,” he said, stressing they were temporary educational facilities.
BEIJING, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- Washington's announcement of a so-called "diplomatic boycott" of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games in the name of protecting human rights in Xinjiang is another example of America's "lying diplomacy." Whenever the White House feels the need to sugarcoat its geopolitical intentions, it resorts to distortion and fabrication.
Think of the faked videos about Syria by U.S.-funded White Helmets, or the small vial of "washing powder" with which Washington paved its way to invading Iraq.
In recent years, Washington has intensified its China-smearing campaign by manufacturing and peddling all kinds of lies.
This week, the U.S. House of Representatives is reportedly set to join the Senate in passing an ill-founded Xinjiang-related bill. And in July last year, the U.S. embassy and consulates in China posted photoshopped pictures on social media to frame China for "forced labor."
However, none of those stand the scrutiny of facts. Xinjiang has witnessed remarkable progress in recent years. Thanks to counterterrorism and de-radicalization measures taken by the Chinese government in accordance with law, there has been no terrorist incident in Xinjiang for many years. The Uygur population in Xinjiang has doubled to more than 12 million over the past 40 years, while the gross domestic product there has surged by more than 200 times in the past six-plus decades. Absolute poverty has been eliminated. Jobs in the cotton industry are well-paid and competitive.
Citizens' right to freedom of religious belief is fully guaranteed as well. There are more than 24,000 mosques in the region, over 10 times the number in the United States...
Fortunately, more and more people have started to sober up to America's "lying diplomacy." In fact, China's policy and position on Xinjiang have received support from more than 80 countries, including the vast Muslim nations, at the 46th session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council earlier this year..
Qatar Energy yesterday said it had signed a long-term sale and purchase agreement with China's S&T International for Natural Gas Trading, to supply the latter one million tonnes of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) for 15 years. The 15-year supply agreement will go into effect in late 2022. Qatar's Minister of State for Energy Affairs and Deputy Chairman of Qatar Energy, Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi said the agreement marked an "expansion of our customer base in the People's Republic of China, which can count on Qatar as a trusted and reliable energy partner."
"We are pleased to welcome S&T into our family of long-term LNG customers and we are excited to work with them to help fulfil their long-term LNG requirements," Al-Kaabi added.
Under the agreement, the LNG cargoes will be delivered via Qatar's fleet of LNG vessels, adding that S&T would receive the LNG shipments primarily at the Tangshan LNG Receiving Terminal.
The deal comes two days after the announcement of a similar agreement between Qatar Energy and GuangDong Group to supply China with about one million tonnes of liquefied gas per annum for a period of ten years, starting from early 2024.
US President Joe Biden hosted a two-day virtual ‘Summit for Democracy’ on Thursday and Friday, sparking consternation from countries not invited to the gathering, and questions from officials in Russia and China about what gives the US the right to define whether a nation is democratic or not. The recently concluded ‘Summit for Democracy’ was an attempt to “thwart democracy under the pretext of democracy,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement published Saturday.
The international gathering, which did not include officials from China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Syria, Serbia, Turkey, Hungary and other countries, served to “incite division and confrontation, and divert attention from [America’s] internal problems,” and as an attempt to “preserve [Washington’s] hegemony over the world,” according to Beijing.
Accusing Washington of seeking to impose its political system and values on others, the Foreign Ministry said that US pressure on nations to institute “so-called ‘democratic reforms’” abuse unilateral sanctions and incite colour revolutions, had caused “disastrous consequences” for nations around the world.
“Democracy has become a ‘weapon of mass destruction’ used by the United States to interfere in other countries’ affairs... Since 2001, the wars and military operations waged by the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, caused millions of injuries, and displaced tens of millions of people.
Unfortunately, the statement noted, Washington continues to try to “divide the world into ‘democratic’ and ‘non-democratic’ camps based on its criteria.” Such efforts, Beijing warned, “will only bring greater turmoil and disaster to the world, and face strong condemnation and opposition from the international community.”
Suggesting that democracy is the right of the people of all countries, the foreign ministry said that the US could not claim to serve as a “beacon of democracy” for others, and that “American-style democracy is full of malaises.”
“Problems like money [in] politics, identify politics, partisanship, political polarization, social division, racial tension, and [the] wealth gap are getting worse. The American-style democracy is a money-based game for the rich. Ninety-one percent of congressional elections are won by candidates with greater financial support. It is ‘one person one vote’ in name, but ‘rule of the minority elite’ in reality.
The general public are wooed when their votes are wanted but get ignored once the election is over,” the ministry alleged.
In newly released interview excerpts Saturday, former United States president Donald Trump offered more startlingly frank views on Israel’s leadership during his time in office, a day after he was quoted in an astounding assault on ex-premier Benjamin Netanyahu.
In the latest taped comments broadcast by Channel 12, Trump said he believed Netanyahu “did not want to make peace. Never did”; claimed he prevented the Israeli leader from annexing West Bank land (“I got angry and I stopped it”); offered his favorable opinion on Defense Minister Benny Gantz (“I think [he] wanted to make a deal… if he won, I think it would be a lot easier”); and his evolving view on the Israel-Palestinian conflict: “I [had] thought the Palestinians were impossible, and the Israelis would do anything to make peace and a deal. I found that not to be true”.
Speaking to journalist Barak Ravid earlier this year for an upcoming book, the ex-president commented on his efforts to mediate between Jerusalem and Ramallah, and his feeling as time went on that Netanyahu wasn’t truly interested in reaching a settlement.
“Bibi did not want to make a deal,” he said, using Netanyahu’s nickname. “Even most recently, when we came up with the maps” as part of his administration’s peace plan, Netanyahu’s reaction was “‘Oh this is good, good,’ everything was always great, but he was never… he did not want to make a deal. Trump said he believed that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wanted to make a deal more than Netanyahu: "And I will be honest, I had a great meeting with him... And we spent a lot of time together, talking about many things. And it was almost like a father. I mean, he was so nice, couldn’t have been nicer.”
Trump recalled he then told Netanyahu that “I had a very good meeting with Abbas. We can definitely do a deal.” The Israeli leader’s response? “‘Well, let’s think about it. Let’s not move too fast, you know.’ After he started talking, I said, wait a minute, you don’t want to make a deal. “And he said, ‘Well, uh, uh, uh.’
Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, late leader Moammar Gadhafi's second son and once heir, will run in Libya’s Dec. 24 presidential elections.
The High National Election Commission (HNEC) objected to his application, but a court in the southern city of Sabha reinstated him on Dec. 2, rejecting HNEC’s appeal.
Gadhafi was among 25 others who were disqualified, most of whom have now been readmitted into the crowded race. HNEC’s Resolution 79 cited missing documents and noncompliance with the presidential election law.
Gadhafi is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged crimes against humanity during the uprising of 2011 that toppled his late father. At the time, he had no official role in either the government or the army and security forces.
In 2015, he was tried and sentenced to death by a court in Tripoli heavily criticized by international rights groups. Two years later, he was released after Libya’s parliament passed a general amnesty law from which he and many others benefited. Gadhafi was out of the public view between 2017-2021, prompting speculation about his whereabouts and whether he was even alive. During that time, he was active behind the scenes, meeting supporters and mediating tribal conflicts, particularly in southern Libya.
Yusuf, one of his closest associates (he requested that his family name not be published), told Al-Monitor that the young Gadhafi “was always active, working almost every day.” According to Yusuf, Gadhafi “played a very successful role in reconciling two of Sabah’s biggest tribes” last year.
He also kept in contact with his representative in Europe, Mohammed Abu Ajeila al-Ghadi, who went on to represent him in the UN-led dialogue that elected Libya’s Unity Government Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, whose government gained a vote of confidence on March 10....
Now that he is officially in the race despite the HNEC’s attempts to disqualify him, his close supporters are keeping a watchful eye over what might transpire. Yusuf believes there is a concerted effort by different political actors and “foreign countries” to have him disqualified from the race. Without naming any specific country, Yusuf said, “Many countries do not like him.”
A former US diplomat with strong ties to the Biden administration speaking anonymously told Al-Monitor that “America would not mind” dealing with Libya even if Gadhafi is elected president. “I do not expect Saif to be officially received in Washington,” but dealing with his government would not be a problem, the former diplomat added.
Gadhafi’s close advisers believe Libya’s future is at stake and their man is in the best position to return security and stability. They point to the fact that he has not been involved in any violence in the country since 2011, which, according to Yusuf, makes him “favored by the majority of Libyans.”
Arab League Decries Postponement of Libya’s Elections
Mohamed Emad, Libya Review, 21-12-2021
The Secretary-General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul-Gheit stated in an interview with Sky News Arabia, that the failure to reach a solution to the Libyan crisis was due to “divisions, foreign interference, and the presence of mercenaries in the country.”
Aboul-Gheit added that, “the Libyan scene is going through severe divisions between the east, west, and south of the country and militias. There are very clear interventions by regional parties that have put their forces and influence on the ground. As well as international interference represented by the presence of mercenaries in Libya.”
Aboul-Gheit’s statements come three days before elections were due to take place. Many officials are now confirming the impossibility of holding the elections on their scheduled date of 24 December. They attribute this to the absence of an official final list of candidates, and the continuous differences between political parties over the polls legal basis.
On Monday, 17 candidates called on the High National Elections Commission (HNEC) to provide them with explanations for the reasons why the elections were not held on time.
Last month, Aboul-Gheit stated that the Libyan crisis is of great importance to all the countries of the Mediterranean region, stressing the need to hold the upcoming elections as scheduled.
Bashagha and Maiteeq meet Haftar in Benghazi
By: AbdulkaderAssad, Libya Observer, 21-12-2021
Presidential candidates, Fathi Bashagha who was an Interior Minister of the previous government in Libya, and Ahmed Maiteeq who was a member of the previous Presidential Council - both from Misrata - traveled to Benghazi in eastern Libya and held a meeting with Khalifa Haftar, a current presidential candidate and a long-time self-proclaimed army chief in the eastern region.
The meeting was for presidential candidates to bring together their visions for the upcoming stage of the political process after the postponement of elections. The meeting included other candidates like Aref Al-Nayed, Mohammed Muntasser, Al-Sharif Al-Wafi and Abdelmajid Siaf Al-Nasser.
After the meeting that took place at Tebisty Hotel in Benghazi, Bashagha, who once considered Haftar a war criminal and a warlord, said he was generously invited by candidate Haftar to reaffirm unity of national efforts to deal with the developments and to respect the aspirations of 2.5 million Libyans who are awaiting the date of holding presidential and parliamentary elections, adding that national reconciliation is second to none and is a national choice that cannot be ignored
Iranian Christians preparing for Christmas, New Year celebrations
Libyans have reacted with a mix of anger and hopelessness after authorities announced the postponement of a crucial presidential election initially scheduled to take place on Friday.
The electoral commission on Wednesday suggested the vote – aimed at ending a decade of chaos in the country – be pushed back by a month, owing to a lack of preparedness and disagreements between various political forces on the legal basis of the poll.
The electoral board has suggested pushing the vote back by a month to January 24, but given the animosity between the eastern-based parliament and authorities in Tripoli, agreeing on a new date will be far from easy.
Some 2.5 million Libyans had collected their voter cards, out of a population of seven million. But the vote has been made complicated by a deepening rift between the rival leadership that emerged in the country’s east and west following the NATO-backed uprising that removed longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
To start with, there is Speaker Aguila Saleh’s insistence that Libya first proceed with a presidential vote before parliamentary elections can take place. Critics hold that Saleh, who heads the eastern-based House of Representatives and is running for president, views the vote as a winner-take-all contest.
This is a prospect that has unsettled many Tripoli residents, including Ahmed Baiyed, who said the vote could have resulted in a president whose powers would be ambiguous in the absence of a constitution.
“If we don’t have a constitution that identifies what kind of governing system we have, and the powers a president has, how can we vote for a president?”
And then there were disagreements over who should be allowed to run in the election. The three most prominent candidates – Khalifa Haftar, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdul Hamid Dbeibah – were also the three most divisive.
Haftar was unacceptable to many in western Libya after his 2019-20 assault on Tripoli that smashed parts of the capital. Gaddafi, the son of the former ruler, was convicted of war crimes by a Tripoli court and is detested by many of those who fought in the 2011 revolt.
Dbeibah, the interim prime minister, had promised when he was installed to the post that he would not run in an election. His continued work as prime minister in the run-up to the vote led many of his rivals to say he had an unfair advantage.
Members of Congress seek to control President Joe Biden’s Syria policy.
Many legislators are convinced that the US president is ready to make diplomatic compromises with the Bashar Assad regime. According to media reports, the draft 2022 National Defense Authorization Act contains a number of demands for the US administration, aimed at preventing relations between Arab nations and the Assad government from improving and Russia from achieving its diplomatic goals, Izvestia writes.
Syria has never been a foreign policy priority for the US, Alexey Khlebnikov, an expert on the Middle East and Russia’s foreign policy pointed out.
"The new [US] administration does not view the Syrian conflict as a separate important issue, but considers it to be a secondary matter linked to more important goals, including interaction with Iran and efforts to resolve the nuclear deal, relations with Russia and Turkey and the need to ensure the security of US allies in the region," the political analyst emphasized.
Orientalist scholar Andrey Ontikov shares the same position. "Biden and his administration can feel at ease given that the United States maintains a military presence in Syria. Technically, the Americans are not giving up the idea of removing Bashar Assad from power but the Syrian conflict is something more to them than just a fight against Damasus," the expert explained. According to him, the current status quo is likely to suit the US:
"The Americans are comfortable in Syria and the big question is how to get them out of there. It can become a serious headache for Russia," Ontikov noted.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi made a phone call on Saturday to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss the current situation in Libya.
The two sides agreed to intensify joint efforts and coordination to settle the crisis in Libya, achieve the desired aspirations of the Libyan people, combat armed militias and terrorist organizations, and end illegal foreign interference in Libya’s affairs, the Egyptian presidency said in a statement.
El-Sisi told Putin that Egypt is continuing its efforts to facilitate “the current transitional phase and activate the free will of the Libyan people in choosing their leaders and representatives,” presidency spokesman Bassam Radi said.
On Egyptian-Russian relations, Radi said El-Sisi affirmed Cairo’s desire to deepen ties with Moscow at all levels, to build on the current projects that they cooperate in implementing in Egypt, foremost of which are the El Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant and the Russian industrial zone in the Suez Canal Axis.
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Wednesday welcomed the meeting between Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
“The US is very pleased Defense Minister Gantz hosted PA President Abbas at his home in Israel. We hope confidence-building measures discussed will accelerate momentum to further advance freedom, security, and prosperity for Palestinians and Israelis alike in 2022,” tweeted Price. Gantz on Tuesday evening (dec 28) hosted the PA chairman at his home in Rosh HaAyin.
The Defense Minister’s office said the two discussed “a number of security and civilian topics. Minister Gantz informed Chairman Abbas of his intention to continue advancing confidence-building measures in economic and civilian areas, as was determined in their previous meeting.”
During the meeting with Abbas, Gantz offered a number of economic benefits for the PA...
The Likud criticized the Gantz-Abbas meeting and said, "Bennett's Israeli-Palestinian government puts Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians back on the agenda. Concessions that are dangerous to Israel's security are only a matter of time. The Bennett-Sa'ar-Lapid government is dangerous to Israel." The Religious Zionist Party said, "For 10 years, the right has succeeded in making Abbas irrelevant and a persona non grata in the world and removing the discourse of dividing the country and establishing a state of terror in the heart of the Land of Israel from the agenda."
"Bennett and his left-wing government bring Oslo back to the table and Abbas to the center of the stage. Bennett, bad for the Jews," the party added.
The meeting was also criticized within the government, with ministers saying that Gantz's behaviors do not contribute to the coalition's stability.
Al-Kadhimi: "the Coalition have fully completed their combat role"
Iraq no longer need the foreign combat forces, senior officer says Shafaq News [Iraq], 2021-12-29
Neither the Peshmarga forces nor the Federal forces require the services of the U.S. and the Global Coalition Combat forces anymore, the Secretary-General of the Peshmerga Ministry, Jabbar Yawar, said on Wednesday.
In a statement to Shafaq News Agency, Yawar said, "the Peshmerga and the Federal forces need the support of the U.S. and Coalition forces in logistics, training, and arming."
"The Federal and Peshmarga forces also need the U.S. aid in consultation and intelligence, in addition to reconnaissance and fighter aircrafts to eradicate the hotspots of ISIS and prevent their expansion." Earlier today, Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, announced the complete withdrawal of the foreign combat forces from Iraq.
Al-Kadhimi tweeted, "the Coalition have fully completed their combat role after transfer of personnel and material outside Iraq. Going forward, their role will be to advise and assist our security forces per the outcome of the Strategic Dialogue." "We thank the leadership of the Coalition, it’s members, our partners and neighbors in combating Daish and reaffirm that our security forces stand ready to defend our people," he said.
iraq - mosul - 2014
The U.S.-led coalition began its mission in 2014 to defeat Islamic State, after the militants took over vast areas of Iraq and neighbouring Syria.
Since the group's military defeat in 2017, Islamic State fighters have been unable to hold territory but are waging a continued low-level insurgency that regularly kills Iraqi soldiers and civilians in remote mountain and desert areas.
The coalition has also come under dozens of rocket and drone attacks by Iran-backed Shi'ite militias that helped defeat the Sunni extremist Islamic State and which say there is no longer a justification for Western forces to be in Iraq.
The U.S. has kept around 2,500 troops in Iraq since 2020...
The ancient bathhouses of Syria's second city Aleppo are filling up again, not because of a revived fad, but due to power cuts that have made hot showers a luxury.
"We mainly rely on electricity to heat water at home, but the electricity is cut off most of the time," said Mohammed Hariri from a crowded bathhouse where he had waited half an hour for his turn. "Here, we take all the time we need showering," the 31-year-old told AFP.
With their marble steam rooms, hexagonal fountains and distinctive domes, Aleppo's bathhouses have for centuries served as a social hub where men come together to wash, listen to music and even eat.
But shortages of water, fuel and electricity across war-torn Syria have also turned them into a refuge for those looking for a long, warm bath during the cold winter.
In Hammam al-Qawwas, one of more than 50 traditional bathhouses in Aleppo's Old City, diesel fuel and firewood are used to power furnaces providing hot water and steam. Under its arched dome, men swaddled in towels sit in one of many side rooms, some singing traditional Arabic tunes as they scoop up hot water from stone basins. In an adjoining area, masseurs use soap and loofahs to scrub clean clients lying flat on the marble floor, as restrictions against the coronavirus pandemic seem a world away.
Many of the structures were severely damaged during several rounds of battles between regime forces and rebels.
Only around 10 have reopened since Aleppo returned to full government control in 2016, according to AFP correspondents...
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