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 U.N.’s announcement of a two month truce between the Saudi-led coalition and Yemen’s Houthi rebels is welcome news, especially prior to the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan this weekend.
The terms of the truce include the following: The parties will halt all offensive military air, ground, and maritime operations inside Yemen and across its borders. The Saudis will allow fuel ships to enter into Hodeidah ports (no fuel has reached Hodeidah since January 2022). The Saudis will allow commercial flights to operate in and out of Sana’a airport, which has been effectively inoperable since 2015.
U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg also announced that he would oversee additional talks to open roads in Taiz and other governorates in Yemen. Observers will now be watching to see if both sides maintain the ceasefire and if the Saudis allow ships to enter Hodeidah port and planes to fly in and out of Sana’a.
On March 26, following their successful attack on Aramco oil facilities near Jeddah, the Houthis announced a unilateral ceasefire on trans-border attacks as well as ground operations inside Yemen. They said that if the Saudis lifted their blockade on Houthi-controlled air and seaports, the ceasefire would continue.
The Saudis responded with their own ceasefire announcement on March 29, to correspond with the inter-Yemeni talks they coordinated in Riyadh. The Houthis had refused to join the talks because they were being held in Saudi Arabia, but had said they would be willing to join talks held in a neutral country, such as Kuwait or Oman. This general atmosphere of detente appears to have contributed to the U.N.’s success in pushing for the two-month truce...
Previous ceasefires have broken down because neither side had adequate incentives to maintain them. The difference this time may be that the Houthis have demonstrated a consistent ability to damage Saudi energy infrastructure and the Saudis have concluded that even with additional U.S. provided Patriot anti-missile systems, the risk to their economy is too great...
Additional pressure on the Saudis to maintain the ceasefire may have come from the recent announcement from members of the U.S. Congress that they would reintroduce a War Powers Resolution to end U.S. support for Saudi military actions in Yemen. Without the assistance of U.S. military contractors, two thirds of the Saudi Air Force would be unable to fly.
General Kenneth F. McKenzie on Friday handed over the leadership of the US Central Command (CENTCOM) to General Michael "Erik" Kurilla who has previously labeled Iran as “the number one destabilizing factor in the Middle East right now,” at a time when indirect talks between Iran and the US to restore the 2015 nuclear deal have reached their final stage.
Mission: USCENTCOM directs and enables military operations and activities with allies and partners to increase regional security and stability in support of enduring U.S. interests. (Centcom website)
Kurilla took over the position of CENTCOM Commander during a ceremony in Tampa, Florida. He was nominated by US President Joe Biden in January, and was confirmed to the position a month later, during a hearing at a Senate Armed Service Committee.
The CENTCOM commander oversees US military missions in the Middle East, central, and southern Asia. The main theatres Kurilla is expected to be dealing with are Afghanistan, Yemen, and the continuous efforts against Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria. During the hearing in early February, Kurilla asserted his stance against allowing Iranian influence to expand across the region, and stressed upon the need to prevent them from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
He added that he will work towards exposing Iranian hostilities and holding them accountable for attacks carried out by regional Iranian proxies, likely referring to attacks against US bases in Iraq and Houthi attacks targeting Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Kurilla also stated that the US should assist the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the repatriation of foreign ISIS-linked detainees currently held in camps in northeastern Syria, adding that his main concern is the indoctrination taking place at al-Hol camp. When asked about the importance of the partnership with the Kurds, Kurilla stated that the Kurds are “an incredibly capable reliable partner.”
What Kurilla said at his Feb. 8 confirmation hearing
Rachael Riley | The Fayetteville Observer
During the hearing, Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, said CENTCOM’s geographic area of responsibility stretches across the Middle East from northeast Africa to Central and South Asia.
“Perhaps the most pressing is Iran’s malign influence in the region,” Reed said. “The United States’ latest round of indirect negotiations to return to the joint comprehensive plan of action has seen progress, but Iran’s ongoing nuclear development threatens to derail any agreement.”
Reed said Iranian-linked groups liked the Houthis also waged rocket attacks in the region, including attacks against bases with a U.S. military presence in Iraq and Syria. Kurilla agreed that Iran is a “destabilizing factor" with Iranian proxies and military groups firing rockets at the American embassy or firing at troops in Syria, or the Iranian-backed Houthis firing missiles into the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
“It is a big concern that Iranian-aligned groups that are operating inside of Iraq and inside of Syria are going after our service members,” he said. “I will always protect our people, and I would take action against them if they took action against us.”
Kurilla said Iran also has cyber capabilities and that he thinks hardening the cyber defense of partners and allies in the region is needed.... Asked about China and its interests in the Middle East, Kurilla said 18 of 21 countries have signed strategic agreements with China, and that China has increased its spending in the Middle East.
“We have to expose their predatory practices where they treat every country as a client or a customer, whereas we deal in relationships, and we are partners and allies,” Kurilla said.
He said China having a base south of Yemen across the Gulf of Arden , creates a “strategic chokepoint” where China can maintain vessels while overseas. Kurilla said his concern is that China could continue its expansion into the CENTCOM area of authority..
In written answers to advance policy questions, Kurilla told the Senate Armed Services Committee today he will, if confirmed, work to deter China and Russia, as well as continue to focus on threats emanating from the Middle East.
“President Biden’s 2021 Interim National Security Strategic Guidance amplifies the focus on China as the pacing challenge and Russia as a disruptor, as well as the global challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change,” he said.
“If confirmed, I will evaluate the implications of the forthcoming 2022 National Defense Strategy for the USCENTCOM AOR,” Kurilla continued.
“Advancing U.S. interests in the CENTCOM region requires active engagement with Central Asian partners. Given advanced Chinese and Russian influence, durable partnerships that benefit our mutual security assume increased importance.” (Inside defense)
CENTCOM is one of seven regional combatant commands the US deploys around the globe to deter enemies and nurture friends.
Inserted like a tectonic plate between Europe and Africa in 1983, CENTCOM’s area of responsibility (AOR) would prove one of the most politically unstable regions on the planet. Only a few weeks before the invitation, the command had completed its harrowing pullout from Afghanistan, the latest of a long series of wars and skirmishes. More challenges were already awaiting. But it moved ahead with the symposium, which was intended to welcome Israel to CENTCOM as a regional partner.
CENTCOM’s boundaries encompass the Middle East from Egypt to Iran inclusively, much of Central Asia, and Pakistan in South Asia. The seas adjoining this landmass also fall in large part within CENTCOM’s AOR, which accounts for the admirals at the symposium. Until five months before, Israel had been the only country in the Middle East not covered by CENTCOM.
Regarded by Washington as an awkward fit for its all-Muslim neighborhood, Israel was instead placed within the sphere of European Command (EUCOM). The Israeli military thus routinely interacted with its NATO counterparts. However, toward the end of the Trump administration, the Pentagon concluded that hostility toward Israel was waning in the Middle East as exemplified by the Abraham Accords, enabling the country’s shift to its proper geographical slot.
“The realignment,” declared a CENTCOM statement, “offers opportunities to deepen operational collaboration between the IDF and CENTCOM’s many partners in the region.”
Idit Silman, the chairwoman of the Israeli government, abruptly announced her resignation from the coalition Wednesday morning, leaving it with 60 lawmakers and effectively ending its majority in the Knesset.
The announcement caught Prime Minister Naftali Bennett by surprise, who was unable to reach Silman by phone following the announcement.
In a resignation letter to the prime minister she said that some coalition partners "are unwilling to make compromises." Ending the government's slender, 10-month majority, she said "the time has come to form a national, Jewish and Zionist government"...
In the wake of the news, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said, "I was very excited to hear MK Idit Silman's statement and I congratulate her on behalf of the masses of the people of Israel who wished for this moment. Idit, you are proving that what guides you is a concern for the Jewish identity of the State of Israel and the Land of Israel, and I welcome you back home to the national camp."
He further called "on everyone who is elected by the national camp to join Idit and return home to us. You will be received with all due respect and with open arms."
According to a senior coalition member, Silman agreed with people close to former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be part of the Likud list in the next election.
Silman's defection brings to end the coalition's narrow majority, which has weathered several storms in almost a year in power. Without 61 MKs, the coalition government is unable to advance any legislation in the Knesset without support by opposition members.
In light of Silman's resignation, Meretz lawmakers Mossi Raz and Esawi Freige have called on the Arab-majority Joint List to join the coalition in order to block the potential formation of a right-wing government. The chairman of the Joint List, Ayman Odeh, outright rejected any prospect of joining the Bennett-led government to keep the coalition afloat: "At the time, we recommended Gantz and Lapid in order to overthrow the Netanyahu, and we will not be a lifeline for Bennett and Shaked. This is a bad government."
Likud chairman and opposition whip Yariv Levin welcomed Silman's decision and called on "everyone who is elected by right-wing voters to follow the path she has paved and do the same."
Levin added he "wholeheartedly and deeply appreciates MK Silman who this morning did the right thing, the Zionist act... In her move, Silman saves the State of Israel from a dangerous and unprecedented process of deeply harming the Jewish character of the state and the foundations of its existence."
Yesterday, Israeli premier Naftali Bennett’s razor-thin coalition majority crumbled as coalition whip Idit Silman, also from Bennett’s Yamina (“Rightwards”) party, defected, leaving the coalition at 60 members out of the 120-seat parliament.
“I can no longer bear the damage to values and causes that are essential and right”, Silman wrote in her resignation letter to Bennett, adding that she “will not abet the harming of the Jewish identity of the State of Israel and the people of Israel.”
But what is the danger to “Jewish identity” from a government headed by the most right-wing, Jewish supremacist and religious fundamentalist premier in Israel’s history?
We are being told it’s about matzos. Health minister Nitzan Horowitz (from the left-Zionist Meretz party) has instructed hospitals to allow patients to have leavened bread with them – in accordance with a High Court of Justice ruling on the matter.
Leavened bread is not kosher during the Jewish holiday of Passover, and that was the source of the recent spat between Silman and Horowitz, where Silman said the instruction crossed a “red line”, although even Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana (also from Yamina) pointed out that the order has been in place since 2020 and that “nothing has changed”. There is of course more going on behind the scenes.
Since the government, based on the singular value of “just not Netanyahu,” was sworn in last June, Netanyahu’s Likud has been waiting for an opportunity to poach lawmakers to their side. They have been mocking the government for joining forces with Palestinian lawmakers (although the United Arab List is a conservative Islamist party, and although Netanyahu came up with the idea of joining up with them first).
They campaigned for Silman’s defection and camped in front of her house. They knew her weakness.
Silman is a Jewish religious fundamentalist who donates together with her husband Shmulik to the anti-abortion organization Efrat. Shmulik is a Netanyahu supporter who has expressed support for raising funds to assist Netanyahu in his ongoing corruption trials...
MK Idit Silman traveled to Jerusalem to meet with Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Tzfat, and his wife Rebbetzin Tova... Silman and Rabbi Eliyahu have maintained close ties in recent months and Rabbi Eliyahu also played a part in convincing Silman to break with her party, depriving the government of its Knesset majority. (Arutz Sheva, 7-4-2022)
Following MK Idit Silman's decision to leave the coalition, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Tzfat, was asked to comment on the decision and its aftermath.
"In my eyes she is a great person. The Yamina party promised its voters that it would be a right-wing party, that it would not partner with left-wingers, that it would not crown [Yesh Atid chairman Yair] Lapid as prime minister, and many other promises too.
They broke all these promises. They partnered with the most left-wing of the Left, they are freezing construction in the settlements, and they are destroying the Chief Rabbinate. They are causing terrible harm to the kosher supervision system and also to the conversion system. They are encouraging our enemies and those who hate us."
"They are doing immense damage to the Jewish People. This government is also causing harm to religious education; they are appointing a whole roster of left-wing judges; now they even want to bring hametz [leavened bread] into the hospitals on Passover..."
If this is what happens under Bennett's leadership, then what will happen under Lapid? This isn't "ten degrees more to the right than Netanyahu" [as Bennett promised his government would be]. It's a hundred degrees more to the left...
I have no doubt that this was a very difficult decision for Idit Silman to make, and a very brave decision. But it was the right decision to make.
Anyone who is religious, who is moral, all the Torah scholars in that party should learn what it means to be honest and upright and trustworthy, and also what it means to do 'teshuvah', to repent for one's misdeeds..
The United States will maintain its military presence in Iraq and Syria to fight the continued threat of Islamic State (ISIS) and Iran-backed proxies, while it is keen to expand cooperation with its regional allies to deter the threat posed by Iran, the “leading source of instability in the Middle East,” a US department of defense official said on Tuesday.
The deputy assistant secretary for defense for the Middle East, Dana Stroul, identified Iran as a persistent threat to regional security and stability in a talk at the Wilson Center, a US-based think-tank. Stroul stated that Iran’s use of violent proxies, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), its ballistic missile program, and incidents of maritime aggression remain a security challenge.
She added that ISIS also continued to constitute a security threat, despite no longer holding territory in Iraq and Syria, and that US forces remain in northeast Syria (Rojava) to work with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) against the militant group. Stroul added that these US troops in Syria “experience on a very regular basis threats from Iran and Iran-backed proxies,” referring to the attacks carried out against them over the past years.
Stroul stated that Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin reaffirmed the commitment of the US to maintain US troops in Iraq and Syria... “Regional security and stability” remains a priority to the US Department of Defense who is looking to expand its cooperation with regional allies to deter the threat posed by Iran, while also welcoming efforts by the US State Department to engage in diplomacy, likely alluding to the ongoing indirect nuclear talks between the US and Iran. No change in policy will be seen with regards to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as US sanctions on Syria are to remain in place, and no plans of a normalization of ties are on the horizon.
Taqi ad-Din Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah (22 January 1263 – 26 September 1328) was an Islamic scholar, theologian and logician. He lived during the troubled times of the Mongol invasions, much of the time in Damascus.
He was a member of the school founded by Ahmad ibn Hanbal and is considered by his followers, along with Ibn Qudamah, as one of the two most significant proponents of Hanbalism.
The Hanbali school was seen as the most traditional school out of the four legal systems (Hanafi, Maliki and Shafii) because it was "suspicious of the Hellenist disciplines of philosophy and speculative theology."
Ibn Taymiyyah sought the return of Sunni Islam to what he viewed as earlier interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, and he is considered to have had considerable influence in contemporary Wahhabism, Salafism, and Jihadism.
The militant organization Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant used a fatwa of Ibn Taymiyyah to justify the burning alive of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh.
Ibn Taymiyya's fatwa on Alawites as "more infidel than Christians and Jews" has been recited by Muslim Brotherhood affiliated scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi and the Syrian rebel Islamist leader of Jaysh al-Islam Zahran Alloush.
Yemen's president announced Thursday he is handing his powers to a new leadership council, in a major shake-up within Yemen’s anti-Houthi coalition, welcomed by Saudi Arabia.
"I irreversibly delegate to this presidential leadership council my full powers," President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi said in a televised statement early Thursday, the final day of Yemen talks held in the Saudi capital under the auspices of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
The new leadership council, made up of a chairman and seven deputy chairmen, will be led by Rashad Al-Alimi. Deputy chairmen include the leader of southern separatist group, the Southern Transitional Council, Aidarous al-Zubaidi.
Saudi Arabia, which welcomed the move, urged the Presidential Leadership Council to embark on negotiations with the Houthis “under the auspices of the UN....”
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, met the council members and said he hoped for a "new page" in Yemen..The crown prince “also expressed hope that the next stage would be different, noting the determination and optimism of all.”
Hadi's government has been locked in conflict with Iran-backed Houthi rebels who control the capital Sana’a amid their continuing revolt, which triggered a Saudi-led intervention in 2015.
A United Nations-brokered truce that took effect on Saturday has offered a glimmer of hope in the conflict which has caused what the UN describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis...
Houthi representatives condemned the creation of the Council. On Twitter, spokesman Mohammed Abdu Salam called it “a desperate attempt to rearrange the ranks of the mercenaries.”
It is not yet clear if the Houthis will respond by breaking the two-month ceasefire and returning to the battlefield as soon as possible, or will conclude that they should come to the negotiating table now, before this newly formed coalition threatens their current hold on territory.
The U.S. role is crucial. The Biden administration should make clear to the Saudis, who oversaw the creation of the Council, that they must continue to adhere to the terms of the Ramadan ceasefire, including by allowing flights into Sanaa airport, which have not yet resumed, and fuel ships to reach Hodeidah. This could help to convince the Houthis that negotiating offers a more productive path forward than violence.
The United States also needs to make clear to the Saudis and the newly formed Council that Congress intends to pass a Yemen War Powers Resolution, which would end all U.S. military support for the Saudis. This, more than any other factor, may help incentivize the Saudis and the Council to uphold the ceasefire and push for negotiations rather than a resumption of fighting.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Salman, on Thursday met with the newly-formed Yemen's Presidential Council headed by Rashad Al-Alimi.
According to the Saudi official news agency, SPA, bin Salman voiced hope that the new Council will move Yemen from the state of war to the state of peace and development.
Early on Thursday, Yemeni President, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, delegated his powers to a new Presidential Council to lead the country's transitional period.
The new Presidential Council is made of seven deputy chairmen, including Aidarous Al-Zubaidi, head of the Southern Transitional Council and backed by the United Arab Emirates.
Yemen has been engulfed by violence and instability since 2014, when Iran-aligned Houthi rebels captured much of the country, including the capital, Sana'a.
Who is Rashad Al Alimi?
Dr. Rashad Muhammad Al-Alimi was born in 1954 in a village in Taiz Governorate in the south of the country. He was first educated by his father, Judge Muhammad bin Ali Al-Alimi, and then completed his secondary education in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a.
Al-Alimi joined the Nasserist Organization Party in Yemen in the early stages of his youth. The party supports Sharia law and sees socialism as being compatible with Islam.
Al-Alimi obtained his bachelor’s degree in military sciences from the College of Police and Military Sciences in Kuwait in 1975. He returned to his country and worked at the Police College. He continued his studies at the College of Arts at Sana’a University and obtained his university degree in 1977. He then obtained his MA and PhD degrees in Sociology from Ain Shams University in Egypt in 1988... In May 2008, he became Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior for Defense and Security Affairs. In the same year, he took the position of Minister of Local Administration.
In 2011, Al-Alimi was injured in the explosion of the Al-Nahdain Mosque in the presidential house, which targeted the late Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and other leaders in the country as they were conducting Friday prayers, but he recovered from his injury. after treatment in Saudi Arabia and Germany. He became an adviser to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi in 2014.
The Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC), the country’s largest opposition body, has shook up its membership this week and passed a number of reforms.
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Ethan Goldrich met with Salem Al-Meslet, 10-3-2022
On Sunday, Salem al-Meslat, the head of the SOC, announced the expulsion of 14 members from the SOC and the changing of the governors of several provinces in Syria. A few days later, al-Meslat dissolved four blocs within the SOC, reassigning two of their leaders as independent members while leaving the remaining two out of the opposition body.
“We were seeking to revive the [SOC] through the amendments of the system, and prove that reform is not impossible,” al-Meslat said during a press conference on Friday.
Sources within the SOC told The New Arab's Arabic-language service that in general, there is a sense of growing factionalism within the opposition body. Divisions are exacerbated by a mounting frustration over the lack of effectiveness of the SOC. The SOC has faced heavy criticism in recent years for not helping ordinary Syrians and not progressing negotiations with the regime. It has largely lost the confidence of even opposition-aligned Syrians who see the SOC as out of touch with the situation in Syria.
In addition to passing reforms, the SOC leadership is also seeking to weaken the influence of its Muslim Brotherhood (MB) wing, according to Ayman Abd al-Nour, a Syrian political analyst and president of Syrian Christians for Peace.
The MB bloc of the SOC has traditionally enjoyed Ankara’s support, but with the recent rapprochement between Ankara, Abu Dhabi and now Riyadh, Turkey is looking to downplay the Islamist role in the SOC.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin via telephone on Saturday, according to Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
During their call, the two discussed the ongoing situations in Ukraine and Yemen, with the crown prince reaffirming the Kingdom’s support in finding a political solution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
According to a Kremlin statement, Putin and the crown prince “gave a positive assessment” of joint work in the OPEC+ format.
OPEC cut its forecast for growth in world oil demand in 2022 on April 12, citing the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rising inflation as crude prices soar and the resurgence of the omicron coronavirus variant in China.
Military operation in Ukraine
Moscow views eliminating Ukrainian nationalist battalions
as priority task, says Kremlin
MOSCOW, April 15. TASS News Agency
Moscow views eliminating nationalist battalions in Ukraine as a top priority task, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday.
"The main task is to liberate [Ukraine] from these nationalist battalions after all. The operation continues and the tasks that have been set are well known. They must and will be accomplished. There must be no doubts about that," the Russian presidential spokesman said.
As Peskov pointed out, "peaceful life is returning where nationalist battalions do not take civilians hostage and where these nationalist battalions do not open fire on social facilities and houses."
"However, in those places where nationalist battalions are engaged in what I spoke about, there is fierce struggle and all of them must be eliminated there," the Kremlin press secretary said.
It appears that the West doesn’t want peace in Ukraine
By Timur Fomenko, from RT.com, Friday, Apr 15, 2022
Rather than pursuing a truce, the US and allies are doing all they can to turn the Ukraine conflict into a proxy war against Russia.
As Moscow gears up for a new offensive to secure the Donbass region, it should be abundantly clear that the Western powers are not seeking to resolve the conflict or secure peace, but to escalate it and transform it into a fully-fledged proxy war against Russia.
Apart from its own invasions, bombings, coups, and regime change attempts imposed on countries around the world, one of America’s preferred methods of confronting its adversaries is to ‘wage war by proxy’ against them, that is, to support the war of a group or country against a rival without militarily engaging themselves.
The history of the Cold War is littered with such examples, such as America’s backing of the Mujahideen against the Soviets in Afghanistan, its assistance to Saddam Hussein against Iran in the Iran-Iraq War, or, on a more contemporary note, its failed attempt to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad via local rebels. Proxy wars allow the US to minimize its own losses by having someone else die for its aims while also procuring geopolitical gain by undermining rival states, at the same time maximizing profits for the military-industrial complex by keeping the arms flowing.
After spending the first month of the Russia-Ukraine conflict calling for Russia to withdraw, it is now increasingly apparent that the US and its allies have changed course and are set on an ambition to drag out the conflict to impose as much damage on Moscow as possible.. '
Although it was, of course, Moscow that made the choice to initiate the conflict in the first place, it has always been abundantly clear that the US viewed the situation in absolutist terms. Washington opposed any kind of prior compromise between Russia and Ukraine that may have helped avoid hostilities, which encouraged Zelensky’s overconfidence in refusing to negotiate.
The same situation is panning out now. Washington does not want the war to end in a swift settlement whereby Ukraine makes concessions to Russia, because the ideal outcome is to ensure Moscow takes as much damage as possible, which means that a war of increasing escalation is in fact in the US’ interests.
A call that took place on Friday between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reflected a desire by the Saudi leadership to advance rapprochement with China, in response to attempts by the administration of US President Joe Biden to pressure Riyadh into limiting cooperation with Beijing.
During the call, the Saudi crown prince described China as an important comprehensive strategic partner of Saudi Arabia, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.
“Saudi Arabia attaches great importance to China’s status and to the development of its relations with China, and firmly adheres to the one-China principle,” the Saudi crown prince noted.
The phone call came hours after nearly three dozen House Democrats pushed the Biden administration to get tougher with Saudi Arabia, calling it a bad strategic partner over Riyadh’s refusal to help ease the world’s oil supply crunch during Russia’s Ukraine invasion.
Over the last few months, tight oil supply and rising oil prices that are driving inflation have led the Biden administration to try to improve its relationship with Saudi Arabia.
Blinken and other US diplomats and military leaders have called on Saudi officials and emphasized US defensive support for the kingdom against cross-border missile attacks on Saudi oil sites and other targets by Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen.
However, there are no signs the US overtures have assuaged Saudi Arabia, and the kingdom has refused to make the drastic increases in oil pumping that the US hopes for...
Observers commented on the developments, saying that what was stated by the Saudi crown prince regarding “strengthening communication and coordination with China in international and regional affairs” carries a direct response to Washington, which wants Riyadh to side with the West against Russia.
Churches in Jerusalem are up in arms against Jewish "radicals" who are settling in the Christian Quarter and threatening a fragile religious balance in the ancient City.
"We have a major problem here," said Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilus III in Jerusalem's Old City, which is split into historic Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Armenian quarters.
"Jerusalem also has her Christian character, and that is what is threatened," he told AFP, as Christian worshippers readied for Easter celebrations.
The patriarch charged that hardline Jewish settlers, known for trying to take over properties of Palestinian families, are also waging a campaign for control of Christian-owned lands. "Those radicals are driven by their ideology," Theophilus III said. "Their ideology is the syndrome of messianism when they claim 'we want to redeem the Holy Land from the profanes'."
The nationalist settler group Ateret Cohanim has worked to "Judaise" east Jerusalem - a Palestinian sector illegally annexed by Israel according to the UN - by purchasing real estate through front companies and then moving Jewish settlers in.
Since 2005, the group and the Orthodox church have been engaged in a complex legal wrangle over ownership of an Old City hostel at the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Christian Quarter.
The dispute took a fresh turn on March 27, when settlers took over part of the Petra Hotel by "breaking and entering", according to the Greek Orthodox Church.
Theophilus III said the Israeli government "promised us that they will try their best to deal with this issue, and put pressure on those radical groups to get out". But, after more than two weeks, the settlers are still there, he said. "It seems that the state doesn't have the power or the will to (put pressure) on those people," he added.
The churches have voiced alarm about the trend, as well as acts of vandalism and anti-Christian aggression, arguing the problem extends beyond the ancient heart of Jerusalem...
Human rights violations, violence, forced disappearances, and murder have been a daily occurrence in Libya, without any accountability in most cases. Hundreds of activists, human rights campaigners, and lawyers, including women, have been killed or disappeared without a trace. Since the NATO-backed rebels took over the country in 2011, Libya has been unstable...
The situation is particularly worse in big cities like the capital Tripoli and Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city and the cradle of its 2011 revolt.
Against that background, it was not unusual for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to call in a March 25 news brief on the Libyan authorities to stop the crackdown on “civil society in Libya, where arbitrary arrests and a campaign of social media vilification” are taking place.
UN Human Rights spokesperson Liz Throssell said, “Seven men, aged between 19 and 29, were arbitrarily arrested” by ISA in Tripoli between November 2021 and last month. She also pointed out the fact that ISA has “posted videos of the seven men on Facebook,” in which they confess to being “atheist, areligious, secular and feminists.”
It's been a very long time since the dangerous charge of atheism and apostasy was used against anyone in the religiously conservative country. Such accusations are almost unheard of in Libya.
Both the UN and Amnesty believe the charges against the seven individuals are fabricated, used to silence human rights defenders and muzzle dissent in an increasingly oppressive Libya.
A Tripoli-based preacher told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that this is maybe the first time such “dangerous accusations are made against any Libyan.” He believes this can only be understood in the context of “the entire society" becoming more conservative and even extreme.
He said that this is because “conservative religious preachers” are dominating social media platforms and the airwaves. He pointed at Libya’s “notorious mufti,” referring to Mufti Sadiq al-Ghariani, who lives in Turkey, has his own TV channel and controls Libya’s Fetwa House.
Despite being dismissed as a mufti years ago, Ghariani is still referred to as a mufti and exercises huge influence over Libya’s different religious groups including armed militias.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani has repeated the Gulf nation’s rejection of Israel’s violence in occupied Jerusalem. It follows a series of provocative actions against Palestinians in the West Bank and at Al-Aqsa mosque during the month of Ramadan.
His comments came after the fourth meeting of the Arab Ministerial Committee in Charge of International Action to Confront Illegal Israeli Policies and Measures in the Occupied City of Jerusalem which was held in Amman.
The committee includes Qatar, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria.
"We stress the need to end repeated attacks that demonstrate impunity of occupation without accountability and a double standard in applying international law,” tweeted Sheikh Mohammed.
The meeting came as Israeli settlers and occupation forces (IOF) continue to raid the Al Aqsa mosque in occupied Jerusalem, attacking Palestinians and preventing them from entering the holy site.
The move is seen as a provocative measure to stop Palestinians from entering the place of worship during Ramadan. Such acts are typically carried out towards the end of the holy month on an annual basis.
At the meeting in Amman, Sheikh Mohammed said the attacks are “the latest addition to the repeated violations of the sanctity of the mosque” and “a provocation to the feelings of millions of Muslims around the world.”
Sheikh Mohammed renewed Qatar’s “rejection of all escalatory measures taken by the Israeli occupation forces” and called for the need to calm the situation. He reiterated the Gulf state’s “firm and supportive position on the Palestinian cause and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, foremost of which is the establishment of an independent state on his homeland, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
Israeli riot police stormed the Al-Aqsa compound last week during which at least 158 Palestinians were wounded and hundreds were detained...
The U.S. pushed an enormous amount of weapons into Syria. Those weapons did not end up with the 'moderate rebels' the U.S. propaganda had elevated but in the hands the most ideological committed and most brutal actors on the ground:
Although the Obama administration claimed that the weapons funneled to Syria were intended for "moderate rebels," they ultimately ended up in the hands of a jihadi-dominated insurgency.
Just one month after the Benghazi attack, the New York Times reported that "hard-line Islamic jihadists," including groups "with ties or affiliations with Al Qaeda," have received "the lion’s share of the arms shipped to the Syrian opposition.
In a repeat of that 'strategy' the U.S. is currently pushing an enormous amount of weapons as well as mercenaries into Ukraine.
The bigger stuff it delivers is not of much concern. But the huge amount of small arms and small ammunition, the anti-tank weapons and the handheld anti-air systems are of serious, long term danger. These fit into a car trunk and can easily be smuggled across boarders.
As I explained previously the rightwing ideology that is nurtured in Ukraine will become a danger primarily to European countries but also beyond...
If there is a lesson to learn from Syria it is that the most ideological committed and most brutal people on the ground will not only proliferate their ideology into other countries. They are also the groups which inevitably end up holding the most dangerous weapons. They will give some to those groups in other countries which have the same ideology. The fascist groups in Ukraine are not a Russian propaganda invention or just 'nationalist'. Back in 2018 even the NATO lobbyists at the Atlantic Council called them a dangerous threat:
"Since the beginning of 2018, far-right groups such as the Azov-affiliated National Militia, Right Sector, Karpatska Sich, and others have attacked Roma groups several times, as well as anti-fascist demonstrations, city council meetings, an event hosted by Amnesty International, art exhibitions, LGBT events, and environmental activists.
International human rights groups have sounded the alarm. After the March 8 attacks, Amnesty International warned that “Ukraine is sinking into a chaos of uncontrolled violence posed by radical groups and their total impunity." (Josh Cohen, june 2018)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Moscow will invariably support the United Nations, because it regards the organization as a universal institution.
"Russia as one of the founders of the United Nations and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has always supported this universal organization. We believe that it is not just universal, but unique in a sense. There is no other organization like it in the international community," Putin said at a meeting with visiting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday.
"We support in every possible way the principles on which the organization was founded and we are going to do so in the future," Putin said. The Russian leader said Moscow is puzzled whenever it hears statements by some countries about a rules-based world order.
"It’s a bit strange for us to hear statements by some of our colleagues when they talk about a world order based on rules," Putin said. "We believe that the main rule is the United Nations Charter and other documents that are passed by that organization, rather than some papers that are written by someone to suit their own purposes or ensure their own interests." "We also look with astonishment at some of the statements by our colleagues that someone in the world is exceptional or claims exclusive rights, because the Charter of the United Nations states that all participants in international communication are equal to each other, regardless of power, size or their geographic location," the president said. "I think that this is akin to what is written and stated in the Bible: all people are equal..
He said it was "puzzling to hear ideas that someone seeks some exclusivity."
"We live in a complex world. Therefore, we are based on the fact that there is what there really is. We work with everyone," the head of state said.
He said "the UN was once created to solve acute crises and went through different stages of its development."
"And quite recently, a few years ago, we heard that it was outdated, that it was no longer needed," Putin said. "That happened at the moments when it prevented someone from achieving their goals on the international stage."
"We have always said that there is no such universal organization as the UN, and we need to value the institutions that were created after World War II to resolve disputes," the president said.
Flashback: New Rules or a Game without Rules.
Putin’s Speech to the Valdai International Discussion Club Sochi, 24 October 2014:
Today’s discussion took place under the theme: New Rules or a Game without Rules. I think that this formula accurately describes the historic turning point we have reached today and the choice we all face.
There is nothing new of course in the idea that the world is changing very fast. I know this is something you have spoken about at the discussions today. It is certainly hard not to notice the dramatic transformations in global politics and the economy, public life, and in industry, information and social technologies.
As we analyze today’s situation, let us not forget history’s lessons. First of all, changes in the world order – and what we are seeing today are events on this scale – have usually been accompanied by if not global war and conflict, then by chains of intensive local-level conflicts. Second, global politics is above all about economic leadership, issues of war and peace, and the humanitarian dimension, including human rights. The world is full of contradictions today. We need to be frank in asking each other if we have a reliable safety net in place.
Sadly, there is no guarantee and no certainty that the current system of global and regional security is able to protect us from upheavals.
This system has become seriously weakened, fragmented and deformed. The international and regional political, economic, and cultural cooperation organizations are also going through difficult times. Yes, many of the mechanisms we have for ensuring the world order were created quite a long time ago now, including and above all in the period immediately following World War II.
Let me stress that the solidity of the system created back then rested not only on the balance of power and the rights of the victor countries, but on the fact that this system’s ‘founding fathers’ had respect for each other, did not try to put the squeeze on others, but attempted to reach agreements.
The main thing is that this system needs to develop, and despite its various shortcomings, needs to at least be capable of keeping the world’s current problems within certain limits and regulating the intensity of the natural competition between countries.
It is my conviction that we could not take this mechanism of checks and balances that we built over the last decades, sometimes with such effort and difficulty, and simply tear it apart without building anything in its place. Otherwise we would be left with no instruments other than brute force.
What we needed to do was to carry out a rational reconstruction and adapt it the new realities in the system of international relations. But the United States, having declared itself the winner of the Cold War, saw no need for this.
Instead of establishing a new balance of power, essential for maintaining order and stability, they took steps that threw the system into sharp and deep imbalance.
We have entered a period of differing interpretations and deliberate silences in world politics. International law has been forced to retreat over and over by the onslaught of legal nihilism. Objectivity and justice have been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Arbitrary interpretations and biased assessments have replaced legal norms.
At the same time, total control of the global mass media has made it possible when desired to portray white as black and black as white.
Abdelhakim Belhaj, a former Islamist fighter, has returned to Libya after years of self-imposed exile in Qatar.
Belhaj arrived in Tripoli on Thursday night and was welcomed by an array of military convoys which accompanied him to his place of residence for protection. The 55-year-old’s return comes amid political turmoil in the country caused by power transition rivalry between Fathi Bashagha and Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh.
The parliament had chosen former interior minister Bashagha by a vote last February. However, the incumbent, Dbeibeh, has rejected the parliament’s moves, saying he will only relinquish power after a national election. Bashagha and Dbeibah, both from Misurata and both candidates for the aborted presidential poll, have the support of rival armed groups in the west.
Belhaj’s surprise return sparked controversy in Libya with many view the move as a sign of escalation since the Islamist fighter is known for being a notorious member the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a terrorist group which has had ties to Al-Qaeda.
In a statement shortly after his arrival to Tripoli this weekend, Belhaj did not disclose the exact reason behind his return, but he noted that Libya is “going through a decisive historical stage in which it faces the dangers of division and the return of wars”.
The Islamist leader, who spent decades of his life fighting for an internationally designated terrorist group, urged Libyan parties to disassociate themselves from “ideological interests”: “I declare my commitment to a peaceful path, and my support for the dialogue efforts led by the U.N. Mission,” he added.
Belhaj, Islamist leaders, McCain & Lindsey Graham
Al-Hamali: Belhaj’s Return to Tripoli Will Revive
Extremist Religious Alliances in Western Libya
Al Marsad News, April 24, 2022
Political analyst Jabir Al-Hamali described the “sudden” return of the former leader of the terrorist Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), Abdul Hakim Belhaj, and Shabaan Hadiya Al-Makani (also known as Abu Ubaida Al-Zawi), as a gift for the extremists, even though there was an arrest warrant issued by the Public Prosecutor against the former.
Al-Hamali, in exclusive statements to Sky News Arabia, said this move represents a major change in the strategy of the extremist movements in Libya, which for the last 4 years have been trying to rebrand themselves and delude the Libyan public into believing that they promote peaceful solutions and the civil status of the state.
He explained that this return revives extremist religious alliances represented by the Muslim Brotherhood movement led by Qatar-based Ali al-Sallabi and his armed wing led by Abdul Hakim Belhaj, in addition to the extremist wing led by Sadiq al-Gharyani, along with the leaders of the remnants of the Shura Councils of Benghazi and Derna—who fled from the eastern region after Libyan National Army (LNA) expelled from Derna and Benghazi. All of these extremist elements, argues al-Hamali, have formed a new political alliance with the interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid al-Dbaiba.
INFO: Abdul Hamid Dbeibah was Ankara's favourite figure: "Turkey can play a fundamental role in helping the Libyans achieve their objectives", he said in statements to the Turkish Anadolu Agency. The new prime minister has an Islamist orientation, very close to the Muslim Brotherhood. His city of origin, Misrata, located in the north of the country, is the epicentre of the Islamist militias, vital to the GNA's goal of holding Tripoli until the arrival of Syrian mercenaries from Turkey. (Atalayar News, 9-2-2021) Habib Lassoued (Tunesian writer): "He is driven by personal ambition and is supported by a few people who see themselves able to interfere with the country's best interests and believe they can continue to do so indefinitely." (31-3-2022)
Dbeibah has secured the allegiance of powerful military factions in Tripoli, though divisions among the armed groups who wield power on the streets mean a credible rival could potentially turn other forces there against him.
"Dbeibah has shown a willingness to work with anyone through short-lived arrangements. He doesn't have an ideology and he tells each community or faction what it wants to hear," said Jalel Harchaoui of the Global Initiative organisation. (Middle East Monitor, 9-2-2022)
"Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, a wealthy construction tycoon from the “revolutionary” city of Misuratah, is a poster child of political opportunism. He and his entire family are wealthy economic elites who have successfully played all political allegiances and managed to survive and prosper through a period of extraordinary change. They prospered under Gadhafi, flipped to support the revolutionaries in 2011, and then skillfully navigated the vagaries of post-Gadhafi Libyan politics." (New Lines Magazine, 30-6-2021)
"Dabaiba is unwilling to step down. If Dabaiba is determined to remain in power, he can draw on the support of key militias and his control over the Central Bank of Libya... (Tarek Megerisi, 16-2-2022)
Spokesman for the Commander-in-Chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Major General Ahmed Al-Mismari stated that Prime Minister, Abdel-Hamid Dbaiba’s failure to cede power threatened the return of an armed conflict in Libya.
In statements to Al-Bayan newspaper, Al-Mismari confirmed that they are, “trying as much as possible to maintain the ceasefire, despite the blockage facing the 5+5 Joint Military Commission (JMC). The situation in Libya is a very dangerous, as the militias are continuing to loot public money on Dbaiba’s orders.”
He indicated that there is more of a security crisis, than a political one. “The criminal militias concentrated in western Libya control the institutions, and do not want to lose their gains. They want to benefit from the generosity of Dbaiba, who deliberately wastes public money, and exploits oil revenues in a flagrant form of corruption. Dbaiba supports these militias, and gives them high-ranking positions, especially in the diplomatic corps,” he explained.
Al-Mismari added that the PM is empowering the militias... “Western Libya is likely to explode at any moment due to the presence of militias and weapons there,” he warned.
The Spokesman stressed that “the control of terrorist groups over the political decision in the country, affects the work of the LNA in its war on terrorism. The situation in southwestern Libya is dependent on gangs and militias, who do not want to lose control over financial and power centers in Tripoli.”
Turkey hopes that a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky will take place in the next few days, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Wednesday following consultations on the West's military assistance to Kiev held at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
"We hope that despite some difficulties, the two leaders will be able to meet in the coming days thanks to the proposals of our president [Recep Tayyip Erdogan]," the Turkish defense ministry quoted him as saying. According to Akar, "Turkey continues to contribute, to do everything necessary, including playing a mediating role, so that the humanitarian situation in Ukraine does not deteriorate and a cease-fire is reached as soon as possible."
Ankara regularly expresses its desire to host a meeting between Putin and Zelensky, but Moscow has repeatedly responded to such proposals by explaining that Putin has never refused in principle to meet with Zelensky, but that a text of the document on Ukraine needs to be prepared.
Tensions escalated along the line of contact in Donbass on February 17. The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics reported the heaviest shelling by the Ukrainian Armed Forces in months.
On February 24, in response to a request by the heads of the Donbass republics, Putin made a decision to carry out a special military operation in Ukraine.The DPR and LPR started an operation to liberate their territories, which are under Kiev's control
A comedic actor who rose to the country’s highest office in 2019, Volodymyr Zelensky was virtually unknown to the average American, except perhaps as a bit player in the Trump impeachment theater. But when Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Zelensky was suddenly transformed to an A-list celebrity in US media.
American news consumers were bombarded with images of a man who appeared overcome by the tragic events, possibly in over his head, but ultimately sympathetic. It didn’t take long for that image to evolve into the khaki-clad, tireless hero governing over a scrappy little democracy and single-handedly staving off the barbarians of autocracy from the east.
But beyond that carefully crafted Western media image is something much more complicated and less flattering.
Zelensky was elected by 73 percent of the vote on a promise to pursue peace while the rest of his platform was vague. On the eve of the invasion, however, his approval rating had sunk to 31 percent due to the pursuit of deeply unpopular policies.
Ukrainian academic, Olga Baysha, author of Democracy, Populism, and Neoliberalism in Ukraine, has studied Zelensky’s rise to power and how he has wielded that power since becoming president.
In the interview below, Baysha discusses Zelensky’s embrace of neoliberalism and increasing authoritarianism, how his actions contributed to the current war; his counterproductive and self-absorbed leadership throughout the war, the complex cultural and political views and identities of Ukrainians, the partnership between neoliberals and the radical right during and after Maidan, and whether a Russian takeover of the entire Donbass region might be less popular among the local population than it would have been in 2014"
Olga-B: Ukraine is a complex and divided country with its far east and far west holding diametrically different views on all socially significant issues. Since the declaration of Ukraine’s independence in 1991, two ideas of national identity have been competing in Ukraine: “ethnic Ukrainian” versus “eastern Slavic.”
The ethnic Ukrainian national idea, based on the notion that Ukrainian culture, language, and ethnicity-centered history should be the dominant integrating forces in the Ukrainian nation-state, has been much more popular in the west of Ukraine.
The eastern Slavic idea, which envisages the Ukrainian nation as founded on two primary ethnic groups, languages, and cultures — Ukrainian and Russian — has been accepted as normal in the Ukrainian southeast. However, in general, I can agree that most Ukrainians are much more concerned with economic issues, which has always been the case.
As a matter of fact, Ukraine’s independence of 1991 was to a big extent also a matter of economic concerns. Many Ukrainians supported the idea of political divorce from Russia because of an expectation that Ukraine would be better off economically — this is what propagandistic leaflets promised us. This economic hope was not realized. In many ways, the collapse of the Soviet Union radically changed people’s lives for the worse because of Ukraine’s neoliberalization — the marketization of the social sphere and ruination of the Soviet welfare state.
What about neoliberal reforms initiated by Zelensky?
Olga-B: You can judge on their popularity by opinion polls – up to 72% of Ukrainians did not support his land reform, the flagship of Zelensky’s neoliberal program. After his party approved it despite people’s indignation, Zelensky’s rating fell from 73 percent in Spring 2019 to 23 percent in January 2022. The reason is simple: a deep sense of betrayal. In his unofficial election platform — the show “Servant of the People” — Zelesnky-Holoborodko [Holoborodko was Zelensky’s character in the television show – NB] promised that if he could rule the country for just one week, he would “make the teacher live as the president, and the president live as the teacher.”
To put it mildly, this promise was not fulfilled. People realized that they were duped once again—the reforms have been carried out in the interests of not Ukrainians but global capital.
Olga-B: Zelensky’s election promises, made on the fringes of the virtual and the real, were predominantly about Ukraine’s “progress,” understood as “modernization,” “Westernization,” “civilization,” and “normalization.” It is this progressive modernizing discourse that allowed Zelensky to camouflage his plans for neoliberal reforms, launched just three days after the new government came to power.
Throughout the campaign, the idea of “progress” highlighted by Zelensky was never linked to privatization, land sales, budget cuts, etc. Only after Zelensky had consolidated his presidential power by establishing full control over the legislative and executive branches of power did he make it clear that the “normalization” and “civilization” of Ukraine meant the privatization of land and state/public property, the deregulation of labor relations, a reduction of power for trade unions, an increase in utility tariffs, and so on.
Olga-B: I agree with Jodi Dean who argues that democracy is a neoliberal fantasy in a sense that it cannot exist in neoliberal systems of government controlled not by people but by supranational institutions. As mentioned earlier, this became especially evident after the Maidan when foreign ministers were appointed by these institutions to present their interests in Ukraine. However, in his reforming zeal, Zelensky went further....
Zelensky signed a decree obliging all Ukrainian channels to broadcast a single telethon, presenting only one pro-governmental view on the war... Zelensky’s proponents argue that all the arrests and media bans should be written off for military expediency, ignoring the fact that the first media closures happened one year before the Russian invasion.
As for me, Zelensky only uses this war to strengthen dictatorial tendencies within his regime of government, which started being formed right after Zelensky came to power—when he created a party machine to control the parliament and rubber-stamp neoliberal reforms without regard to public mood.
Russian and Israeli foreign ministries have been entangled since Sunday in a Twitter war over a statement by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov comparing Ukraine to the Nazi regime. More accusations were traded between Moscow and Jerusalem this morning.
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has tried to link it to World War II. Russian President Vladimir Putin said, for instance, "The purpose of this operation is to protect people who for eight years now have been facing humiliation and genocide perpetrated by the Kyiv regime. To this end, we will seek to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine."
In an interview May 1 with the Rete Italian television, Lavrov was asked how can Russia accuse Ukraine, with its Jewish President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, of being antisemitic.
"When they say 'What sort of Nazification is this if we are Jews,' well I think that Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it means nothing. … For a long time now we've been hearing the wise Jewish people say that the biggest anti-Semites are the Jews themselves," responded Lavrov.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called Lavrov's statement "unforgivable and scandalous and a horrible historical error.” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said, "Such lies are meant to free the oppressors of the Jews from their responsibility."
The Kremlin reacted to Lapid's statement, accusing him of making “anti-historical statements” that “largely explain why the current Israeli government supports the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv.”
The statement cited “cooperation between Jews and the Nazis” during World War II, giving as example the members of the Judenrat councils formed in several ghettoes, “some of whom are remembered for absolutely monstrous deeds.” The statement read that during World War II, some Jews were forced to participate in crimes, arguing that Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, “does this quite consciously and quite voluntarily.”
In the decades since Adolf Hitler’s death, the Nazi leader’s ancestry has been a subject of rampant speculation and intense controversy.
Some have suggested that his father, Alois, born to an unwed woman named Maria Schickelgruber, was the illegitimate child of Leopold Frankenberger, a young Jewish man whose family employed her as a maid. Others have claimed that Alois’ biological father was also the grandfather of Hitler’s mother, Klara Pözl, making Adolf the product of an incestuous marriage.
To unravel the mystery of the Fuhrer’s roots, the Belgian journalist Jean-Paul Mulders teamed up with Marc Vermeeren, a historian who has written extensively about Hitler and his ancestors. The duo collected saliva samples from 39 of the infamous dictator’s living relatives, including a great-nephew, Alexander Stuart-Houston, who lives in New York, and an Austrian cousin identified only as “Norbert H.” Tests were then conducted to reveal the samples’ principal haplogroups, which are sets of chromosomes that geneticists use to define specific populations.
Writing in the Flemish-language magazine Knack, Mulders reported that the relatives’ most dominant haplogroup, known as E1b1b, is rare in Western Europeans but common among North Africans, and particularly the Berber tribes of Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia. It is also one of the major founding lineages of the Jewish population, present in 18 to 20 percent of Ashkenazi Jews and 8.6 to 30 percent of Sephardic Jews. In other words, .
Since the publication of the Knack article on August 18, 2010, academics have been quick to point out that this does not necessarily mean the man was either Jewish, African or a combination of the two. The E1b1b haplogroup runs in other ethnic groups, for instance, and DNA analysis remains an inexact science. But one thing about this study’s results is certain, as Ronny Decorte, a geneticist interviewed by Knack, remarked: “Hitler would not have been pleased.”
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