Saddam's Death, Page 28
attempt to destroy political holism in the middle east

See also: Page 27: july 2013


The Arabic Dream

"Nasser, as the activist leader of Pan-Arabism, became an idealized model for Saddam Hussein. At age 20, inspired by Nasser, Saddam joined the Arab Ba'th socialist Party in Iraq and quickly impressed party officials with his dedication. Two years later, in 1956, apparently emulating Nasser, Iraqi Army General Qassem led a coup which ousted the monarchy. But unlike Nasser, Qassem did not pursue the path of socialism and turned against the Ba'th party. ... Saddam went to Egypt to study law, rising to leadership ranks in the Egyptian Ba'th Party. He returned to Iraq after 1963 when Qassem was ousted by the Ba'ths and was elected to the National Command.
Michel Aflaq, the ideological father of the Ba'th party, admired young Hussein, declaring the Iraqi Ba'th party the finest in the world.... (Dr. Jerrold M. Post)

"Gamal Abdel-Nasser continues to inhabit Egypt because, like Bonaparte, he is the representative of an age of certain national glory, despite the mistakes and the military debacle. But there is more to it than this. Above all, he symbolises for Egyptians the expression of their independent national will. It is this that remains. It is in this that we must seek our project for the future" (Liberating Nasser's legacy, Al-Ahram Weekly 2000)






Saddam began rebuilding the ruins of ancient Babylon. Saddam put up a large mural of himself next to Nebuchadrezzar at the entrance to the ruins. And echoing Nebuchadrezzar's practice, Saddam had his own name inscribed on the bricks used in the reconstruction. The inscriptions are reported to read: "This was built by Saddam Hussein, son of Nebuchadnezzar, to glorify Iraq"

Babylon

An ancient Semitic city in the Euphrates valley, which after 2250 B.C., as the capital of Babylonia, became a center of world commerce and of the arts and sciences, its life marked by luxury and magnificence. The city in which they built the Tower of Babel, its location coincides approximately with that of the modern city of Baghdad - now the center of a vast agricultural community. The Babylonians attached great importance to the motions of the planets, accurately fixed their orbits and worked out tables of the phases of the Moon, whereby eclipses could be correctly predicted. Their great astrological work, "The Illumination of Bel," was compiled within the period of 2100-1900 B.C..
Babylon is generally conceded to have been the cradle of astrology. It was overthrown in 539 A.D., by Xerxes, the Persian. (www.astrologyweekly.com/)


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)


Zie ook: Gilad Atzmon & Het tribalisme

Bashar al-Assad: What is happening in Syria
is the complete opposite to the concept of jihad
By The Syrian Observer, 5-7-2013

President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview o the local newspaper al-Thawra, in which he claimed that his opponents have “used up all their tools” and failed to overthrow his regime.

Interviewer: During this difficult time of crisis, it has often been said that Syria can accommodate everyone, but in reality it has not embraced all of its citizens. What has led us to this point?

President Assad: We often view nations as a group of people occupying a certain territory; whereas in fact a nation is about a sense of belonging and of culture which both ultimately form a collective identity. With a strong sense of belonging, we can ensure a united country that includes everyone. When the colonial powers left Syria, it was not to liberate the country but to reoccupy it through other means.
One of their core strategies was to divide and conquer. By division, I do not mean redrawing national borders but rather fragmentation of identity, which is far more dangerous.
When we live in the same territory but have different identities, we are already a divided country because each group isolates itself from the rest. When this happens, it is right to say that the country does not accommodate everyone.
In this context colonialism has been successful in creating separatist groups that consider their ideologies and values as solely and legitimately representing the country and hence rejecting all other groups. This success has not happened overnight, but rather during several stages. ....

The rifts we have witnessed in modern history have come with the emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood and the negative role they have played after the independence of many Arab countries like Syria. They created the first split between Pan-Arabism and Islam, working hard to form a country for Islamists and another for nationalists.
These attempts continued when colonist powers in Lebanon attempted to create a country for Muslims and another for Christians. The implications of the Muslim Brotherhood have transpired, the most dangerous of which is the presence of Al Qaeda which was generously supported by the West on the back of the Islamic revolution in Iran. ....
The more schism in a country, the less it is able to accommodate its entire people. On the contrary, Syria is still accommodating to all Syrians due to people’s ability to grasp these realities and reject this strife hence preventing it from materializing. Syria remains for all Syrians as long as we can prevent these pockets of extremisms from spreading.

Interviewer: Mr President. You first stated that what is happening in Syria is not a revolution... What made you say that it was not a revolution from the inception?

President Assad: From a historical perspective, any genuine revolution is purely internal and cannot be linked externally by any means, as manifested by the Russian, French and even the Iranian revolutions. Real revolutions are intrinsic, spontaneous, and are led by intellectual and ideological elites. What occurred in Syria since the outset of the crisis was flagrant external interference. There were attempts to hide this, but it has become absolutely clear.
Secondly, the real revolution of 1963 was a revolution that empowered the country, society and human values. It promoted science and knowledge by building thousands of schools, it brought light to the Urban and rural areas of Syria by building electricity lines and networks, it strengthened the economy by providing job opportunities according to competencies. It supported the wider foundations of society including farmers, labourers and skilled-workers. ...
Revolutions are about building countries and societies, not about destroying them; so how can we call what is happening in Syria a revolution? Attempts to package the events on the ground as a part of a revolution have been futile from the beginning. ....

Interviewer: Nonetheless Mr President, do you agree that the concepts and forms of revolutions have changed significantly from previous examples such as the Russian or French Revolution? Is it not possible to consider what is happening in Syria a revolution according to different concepts? Is it necessary for all revolutions in history to follow the same methods and paths?

President Assad: Everything in the world changes however, there are fundamental human principles that should remain constant. Religions do not change, although they deal with change. Principles do not change, however mechanisms need to be adjusted to keep up with time. If for the sake of argument we are to accept the notion that the concept of revolutions change, which would then make what is happening in Syria a revolution, we should then accept that the Israeli acts against Palestinians constitute an Israeli revolution against Palestinian oppression, or that the American invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan was a revolution. To accept the fact that conditions and circumstances are perpetuated or altered should not mean that principles are fundamentally undermined.
The West and all its propaganda have always attempted to realign the facts upside down to serve their agenda. Rights become wrongs and wrongs become rights that then legitimize their political practices. If they do that, it doesn’t mean that we should sleepwalk with them.

Interviewer: Despite this, Mr President, some outside Syria and even inside Syria have called it – and still do – a revolution. This is a real controversy that needs clarification.

President Assad: To correct your question, even the western media and statements by western officials hostile to Syria could not ignore that it was not a revolution. The term “revolution’s is no longer used. They have now shifted towards discussing terrorism, adopting the American notion of differentiating between ‘good terrorists’ and ‘bad terrorists.’ ...
There are of course those who refuse to see the reality because it serves their own agendas. Some embrace the same doctrines as the terrorists - the takfiri extremist ideology, so it is expected that they would believe this to be a revolution. There are others who suffer from ignorance and lack of judgement, who see through their eyes yet have a mental blackout. These groups bear little significance and are gradually shrinking...

Interviewer: With regards to the external factors, it is well known that there are foreign fighters in Syria, possibly up to tens of thousands according to Western estimates. Mr President, why has Syria turned into a land for Jihad, and how has that transpired in such a short period of time?

President Assad: Syria has not turned into a land for Jihad. Jihad usually denotes benevolence; it is about construction, development, defending the country and the messages advocated in religion relating to virtuousness, justice and equality. What is happening in Syria is the complete opposite to the concept of jihad; Syria has turned into a land for terrorism.
This is due to several reasons. Chaos is a fertile environment for terrorism to breed. When the state was weakened in Afghanistan, terrorism flourished. The same happened in Iraq after the invasion. As they attempted to weaken Syria, the ensuing chaos transformed into terrorism. ...

Interviewer: Mr President going back to your definition of jihad in its true meaning, we find unfortunately that the more prevalent form is based on fighting and killing. What can be done about this?

President Assad: The solution is to seek guidance from the Quran where the clear words of God resonate. Islam is a religion of mercy and forgiveness; the word “mercy” is cited tens of times in the Quran.
Islam came to promote human values, enshrine mercy and love, and prevent killing. Did the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) not say in the Hadith al-Sharif: “The demise of the universe is easier for God to condone than the wrongful killing of a believer?” The Quran and the Hadith are both clear in promoting love, forgiveness, justice and humanity. Those who claim to emulate the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) should remember his behaviour as a human being before and after he became a prophet, they will find that his message was primarily based on human morals and principals. ...
If we go back to the Quran, the Hadith and the life and conduct of the Prophet, we will see the complete opposite of what these terrorists are practicing.
...

In a previous interview, I discussed the role of religious clerics.... The majority of those who emanated from mosques at the beginning chanting “Allah Akbar” did so to incite chaos and hatred whilst knowing nothing of religion. Others attended mosques to protest and chant “Allah Akbar” but in reality they did not know how to pray.
On the other hand, the religious institutions have existed for decades and they have been empowered and supported as far back as the1980’s during the Muslim Brotherhood crisis. The crisis at that time highlighted the importance of nurturing religious belief correctly since many Syrians were misled due to misguided religious awareness.
The Muslim Brotherhood exploited the weaknesses in religious clerics and in society propagating themselves as strengthening religion in society against an “atheist” state fighting religion. Consequently, and based on the above, I believe that on the backdrop of this crisis, we need to embrace religion and religious institutions, and certainly not the opposite. ...

Interviewer: There were attempts before and during the crisis to draw Syria into this sectarian tension. More than two years into the crisis, they have been utilizing the example of Hezbollah to bolster the notion that it came to defend a certain sect. What is your view on this?

President Assad: They have used all methods in this region: direct and indirect occupation, threats, intimidation, as well attempts to breach our national security and culture. They have tried everything and Syria continues to be a source of hindrance to their objectives. Recent events in Arab countries were seen as an opportunity to strike Syria and undermine and weaken the axis of resistance in the region.
The core of their objective now is redefine who is an enemy and who is an ally; Israel becomes the invisible enemy, even an ally for some, whilst the resistance becomes the enemy. Instead of representing a movement and an actor against Israeli occupation, the attempt is to project the resistance as the enemy, transforming it from a resistance movement to sectarian movement....

Interviewer: Mr President, despite what you have said, there are some in the opposition, most notably those who are outside Syria, who insist that a sectarian struggle is the core issue and that the government has engineered it to augment its own benefits.

President Assad: If the government creates sectarian strife in Syria, it would then be leading the country towards division. Our battles across all of Syria are principally to safeguard the country’s demographic diversity and unity, which essentially discredits this notion. Sectarian strife conspicuously negates the interest of the government. The government has an interest in keeping Syria united, strong and prosperous. A sectarian approach would result in us losing the battle not winning it. A government would be ignorant to adopt such a strategy and the Syrian government is certainly not. If a government works for the best interests of the nation, it does its best to ensure society’s unity and consequently ensures its own strength. ..

Interviewer: But these accusations that the government created a sectarian struggle, are not only from those bearing an extremist ideology but also from intellectuals who claim to be secularists.

President Assad: This is regrettably true. Most of the sectarian discourse today is not only by takfiri extremists, but also by those who claim to be secular. There are two groups that advocate sectarianism: the first regard themselves as secular - we have repeatedly stated that secularism is not against religions but rather a form of freedom of confession. The other group are ignorant people who claim to be religious without understanding the essence of religion.
The common element between the first group, which claims to be cultured and secular, and the second – which claims to understand the true essence of religion is ignorance; ignorance of religion leads to sectarianism...

Interviewer: Taking into consideration these distorted concepts and perverse practices in our society from beheading and slaughtering to sectarianism and fragmentation, are we beginning to see the defeat of Arab Nationalism to the hands of fanaticism and takfiri ideology?

President Assad: Arab identity is endangered by three factors: firstly, an absolute deviation towards the West, secondly, the inclination towards extremism and thirdly, the performance of successive Arab governments which has led some to shift away from the core of Arab nationalism. These three deadly threats have dealt severe blows to Pan-Arabism, but Arab nationalism is still alive and this can be felt in the popular mood. Pan-Arabism will not collapse because it is deeply rooted in our Arab identity.

Interviewer:Mr President, The Syrian government announced its intention to attend the Geneva talks with no pre-conditions. Will we talk to the Muslim Brotherhood?

President Assad: We deal with all parties. In fact, we engaged with the Muslim Brotherhood after they were defeated in Syria in 1982. We believe that dialogue is the method to direct parties onto the right track and national position. If we are to discuss Islam, they should refer back to the correct Islam for all Syrians.
This dialogue has never stopped, and there have been several attempts, but every time we realize that the Muslim Brotherhood have not abandoned their hypocrisy. Their main concern remains power and ruling rather than religion or the interests of the country. We engage with them as individuals and not as a political party, since our constitution and legislations ban political parties based on religious ideology.

This should not be understood as being anti-religion; on the contrary, we support religion. Religion is a calling, a higher calling to teach the word of God and should be elevated to a much higher level than ruling people’s daily lives. Religion is for all humanity and not exclusive to a certain group; it has a higher purpose than the details and nuances of our human lives which encompass wrongdoings, sins, perversities and whims. Religion should not be reduced to a political party. Religion augments moral values, which in turn reinforces politics, parties, the economy and prosperity. It is for these reasons that we do not recognise them as a political party....
As I mentioned earlier though, we have engaged with individuals within the Brotherhood and they have returned to Syria. They maintain their religious beliefs, which we respect, and have contributed to building the country rather than destroying it. ...

Interviewer: Our state institutions are being vandalised and destroyed. Some perceive that these manifestations are the beginning of the collapse of the Syrian state.

President Assad: Their objective was to destroy our infrastructure, undermine our security, drain our economy and create chaos that would all lead to a failed state; none of this has materialised. ....
All countermeasures have been deployed against us including the use of economic, military and psychological warfare. The only thing they have not tried is direct intervention, which is beyond their means for various reasons; as I have said before, starting a war is different to ending it. No one can end a war, and no one knows where it will end. This has critical and dangerous bearings, which is why there is a lot of reluctance on the part of many countries. If we have overcome all of these stages with a high level of public awareness and solidarity; there is nothing we should fear. That’s why I am not worried.

Tunisian opposition politician Mohamed Brahmi shot dead
Thousands take to streets in Tunis
Albawaba News, July 25th, 2013

Tunisian opposition politician Mohamed Brahmi (part of the secular coalition Popular Front) was shot dead outside his home in Tunis on Thursday in the second such assassination this year, setting off mass protests against the Islamist-led government in the capital and elsewhere.
"He was shot in front of his house when he was with his disabled daughter," Mohamed Nabki, a member of Brahmi's secular, nationalist Popular Party, told Reuters. "The killers fled on a motorbike."
Brahmi was a vocal critic of the ruling coalition led by the Islamist Ennahda party and a member of the Constituent Assembly charged with drafting a new constitution for the North African nation, which is split between Islamists and their opponents.

Thousands of people protested outside the Interior Ministry in the capital, Tunis, after the killing.
"Tunisia is free, Brotherhood out!" angry demonstrators shouted, referring to the Muslim Brotherhood-linked al-Nahda movement which heads the country's ruling coalition.
Tunisia's political transition since the revolt that toppled Ben Ali has been relatively peaceful, with the Islamist Ennahda party sharing power with smaller secular parties. But the Egyptian army's overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi on July 3 following mass protests against him has energised the anti-Islamist opposition in Tunisia.

The Popular Front, or the Popular Front for the realization of the objectives of the revolution, is a leftist electoral alliance in Tunisia, made up of twelve political parties and numerous independents.
The coalition was formed in October 2012, bringing together 12 mainly left wing Tunisian parties including the Democratic Patriots' Movement, with the Workers' Party, Green Tunisia, the Movement of Socialist Democrats (which has left), the Tunisian Ba'ath Movement and Party of the Democratic Arab Vanguard, two different parties of the Iraqi branche of Ba'ath Party, and other Progressive parties. The Movement is strongly anti-Islamist.
The 48-year-old coordinator of the Popular Front coalition, Chokri Belaid, was killed by an unknown gunman on 6 February 2013.


Tunisia: Ennahdha Party:
Statement on Assassination of Mohamed Brahmi
IkhwanWeb, July 25, 2013

Rached Ghannouchi: The Ennahdha Party
- Considers this assassination to be a dangerous crime targeting the revolution and national unity...
- Strongly condemns this crime...
- Calls on all Tunisians to preserve their national unity, solidarity, and restraint...

Rached Ghannouchi says he doesn’t want an Islamic state in Tunisia.
The leader of the North African country’s largest political party defends it against accusations
that it poses a threat to secularism in the birthplace of the Arab Spring
Robert Fisk, Independent 24-10-2012

Ghannouchi 2012
“I don’t believe Tunisians want to change Islam but they want to be modern while being Muslims. Islam is a modern religion, We don’t need any surgery on Islam to make it modern. From the beginning, Islam was a pluralistic religion. From the beginning, Islam believed in freedom of religion and conscience, in the legitimacy of the state in a contract between the citizens and the state.”

Mr Ghannouchi insisted that the Salafis are not flocking to Ennahda’s banner. “It’s not Islamic enough for them,” he said...
“The Salafists had organised big demonstrations to demand the inclusion of sharia, and at the same time the secular elites felt threatened by these calls.”
“I was afraid that sharia was being preached about as anti-women’s rights, anti-human rights, anti-equality and anti-freedom. I was trying to convince [the Salafis] that constitutions are based not on what divides people but what unites them. So if there’s a lack of clarity on the issue of sharia, if there is a division around it, then it shouldn’t be let out. I was trying to convince them that the revolution had provided them with freedom. They used to be in prison, but now they have freedom to operate in society and through community organisations, in the mosques and by setting up charities and associations.”
“We also tried to convince them that the situation was very fragile and if they pushed things to the limit, things could collapse. I reminded them that the Islamists in Algeria [the Islamic Salvation Front] got 80 per cent of the votes – but that they lost everything because they didn’t read the balance of power correctly.”

Al Nusrah Front and Ansar al Khilafah seize town near Aleppo,
execute Syrian soldiers & civilians
By Bill Roggio, Long war journal, July 27, 2013

The Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, and an allied jihadist group known as the Ansar al Khilafah have both claimed credit for taking control of a town near the city of Aleppo and killing more than 100 soldiers. Both groups have conducted joint operations in the past.
"Activists from the town of Khan al Asal have confirmed to the Syrian Observatory that more than 150 regime forces were killed by the rebels who took over the town of Khan al Asal on the 22nd and 23rd of July," the Syrian watchdog reported on its Facebook page. "About 51 of the casualties were summarily executed by the rebels, they include about 30 officers and line officers."
Footage of the aftermath of the massacre was published on YouTube. The bodies of dozens of men are seen in various locations in the town. Some appear to have been executed. Heavily armed men chant "Allahu Akbar" ("Allah is greatest") at the end of the video.

Meanwhile, the Al Nusrah Front has also claimed to have "liberated" the town of Khan al Asal, in a detailed statement that was released on jihadist forums on July 23. The statement was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group. Several images of the aftermath of the assault were released with the statement; one was nearly identical to a scene in the video published by Ansar al Khilafah.

Background on Ansar al Khilafah

Homs 2013
The Ansar al Khilafah in Aleppo was formed in December 2012. A video on the formation of the group was released on YouTube, showing a commander surrounded by scores of heavily armed fighters, and children with several black banners of jihad flying among the crowd. The group's commander pledged to impose sharia and establish a caliphate.
"We will work with the sincere people of our Ummah (Muslim community) to establish the Islamic Khilafah State," the commander vowed. He said the group pledged to bring down the "wicked plan: the plan of a Democratic state."
The Aleppo group is made up of five brigades: Ansar al Shariah, Abdullah Ibn Al Zubeir, the Men of Allah, the Martyr Mustafa Abdul Razzaq, and the Swords of the Most Compassionate. A US intelligence official told The Long War Journal in December 2012 that the groups are local units that are part of the Al Nusrah Front.

One month later, in January 2013, a branch of Ansar al Khilafah was formed in Homs. In a video released on YouTube, a commander reads a short statement from a laptop that announces the formation of the group. Heavily armed fighters surround the commander as the black flag of jihad waves in the background.
"We have an absolute belief in the obligation of implementing the sharia [Islamic law] in all aspects of life, and the institutions of the State and resumption of the Islamic way of life," the Homs commander states.


Cairo clashes
Vouce of Russia, July 27, 2013

Saturday (July 27), Egypt continues to count the number of victims of mass clashes between the supporters of the new government and its opponents. The clashes began at the end of the week. By the morning of July 27, according to some data, 20 people were killed in Cairo. According to other data, the number of victims exceeded 120 people, and more than a thousand were injured.

According to Egyptian newspapers, approximately 30 million Egyptians responded to the call of the army and took to the streets to support the new government in its fight against terrorism. The unrest flared up after the Islamist movement Muslim Brotherhood began to organize counter-manifestations in support of President Mohamed Morsi ousted in early July. ...
Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said that “there is no use in the Brothers’ rallies in Cairo and there will never be any, and Egypt will never turn back”. The interim President Adly Mansour called on the supporters of the "Brothers" to go home..: “We can’t accept the attacks on the public property. The state has to enforce its sovereignty.”

Meanwhile, a special Constitutional Commission has started working in Cairo, which is to once again rewrite the basic law of the country, or “Morsi’s Constitution”, within a month. The Parliament controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood approved it in November 2012.
Liberal and secular politicians hope to include in the new law a provision prohibiting the activity of radical Islamist parties, and also to prohibit political propaganda in mosques.
In fact, at issue is Egypt’s return to a slightly modified version of former President Hosni Mubarak’s Constitution adopted in 1971. It also prohibited activities of radical Islamists in the country, such as the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

NSF mourns deaths, says 'can't help'
but blame the Muslim Brotherhood
Ahram Online , Sunday 28 Jul 2013

The National Salvation Front (NSF), which was the main Egyptian opposition coalition under Morsi, said that they "can’t help" but blame and condemn the Muslim Brotherhood for the deaths.
According to the NSF, the Brotherhood “has gathered its supporters in Rabaa Al-Adawiya [sit-in in Cairo's Nasr City] for a month now and claims that confronting the armed forces and the police, attacking private and governmental institutions, and endangering the lives of the Egyptian citizens is jihad for God, and they will receive martyrdom if they [die] in these attacks.”
The NSF has also accused the Brotherhood of adopting an “inciting hostility approach” by exaggerating the numbers of deaths and injuries during the clashes. The Brotherhood, as described by the NSF, is seeking to “increase the conflicts, and cause more innocent Egyptian casualties.”

The NSF has urged for the immediate formation of an independent judicial commission to investigate the facts of the attacks, including investigation of the official statement by the Minister of Interior on Saturday along with the statements of the witnesses and injured.
“Based on reports of the committee, all those responsible must be held accountable, including the minister of interior, if it is proven that the security forces were involved in excessive use of force against protesters,” NSF declared. ...

Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said on Saturday that the Muslim Brotherhood is “purposefully causing a crisis”, denying that the police opened fire on pro-Morsi demonstrators. ...
The Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which deposed President Morsi hails, has claimed that the police used live ammunition in an attempt to disperse the nearly month-long sit-in, which started on 28 June and has become open-ended since Morsi's ouster on 3 July.
The Brotherhood stated that they would continue to protest until Morsi is reinstated despite the rising death toll, refusing to acknowledge the army's roadmap, which was declared after Morsi's overthrow.

Ultra-Orthodox Candidates Elected as Israel’s Chief Rabbis
By Jodi Rudoren, New York Times, July 24, 2013

JERUSALEM — In a victory for the ultra-Orthodox political parties that were shut out of Israel’s governing coalition this year, two candidates they backed were elected as Israel’s chief rabbis on Wednesday, defeating a rabbi who had promised, in an unusually aggressive campaign, to transform the troubled rabbinate.
Rabbi David Lau, 47, the chief rabbi of Modi’in, a large bedroom community between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, was elected for the Ashkenazim (Jews of European descent), and Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, 61, the head of a yeshiva and an author of 40 books on Jewish law, for the Sephardim (Jews of Middle Eastern origin).
The Rabbis were elected to 10-year terms in the $100,000-a-year job. They will rotate leadership of Israel’s rabbinical courts, which control marriage, divorce and adoption for the nation’s six million Jews. The rabbinate also oversees the supervision of kosher food, conversion and other aspects of daily life here, and it is condemned by many critics as a corrupt patronage farm. (Rabbi Lau will replace Yona Metzger, who is under house arrest on suspicion of fraud, bribery and embezzlement.)
The rabbis were chosen not by a popular vote of the citizenry but by 150 mayors, rabbis, ministers, judges, lawmakers and electors handpicked by politicians who met for three hours on Wednesday afternoon at a Jerusalem hotel.

What is the Chief Rabbinate?

The Chief Rabbinate is the supreme religious authority for the Jewish people in Israel, and is in charge of administering all religious arrangements. Two rabbis stand at the head of the Rabbinate: an Ashkenazi rabbi and a Sephardi rabbi. Each one represents different traditions and rituals.
The Ultra-Orthodox establishment has strict control of all religious rituals and many aspects of ddaily life: Birth, marriage and divorce; death and funerals; conversion to Judaism; kosher certifications and supervision of Israeli Rabbinical courts

"Israelis unwilling to liberate their heritage from the rabbis"

The fact that two sons of former chief rabbis won the position shows that nepotism is the real victor, Haaretz’s Anshel Pfeffer writes, which perfectly fits the grotesque nature of the institution.
“There is no hope for the Chief Rabbinate of Israel,” he writes. “Not as long as it is joined at the hip to politics, and not as long as Israelis are unwilling to liberate their Jewish heritage from the rabbis.… With Yosef and Lau, the Chief Rabbinate will remain nepotistic, superfluous, gray, corrupt and irrelevant to Israeli society, free to bully the people who need its services. Until the people rise up and demand that it be abolished, this is the rabbinate we deserve.” (timesofisrael.com)

Does Israel Need A Chief Rabbi?
Uri Regev, Hiddush 25-09-2012

A few months ago when, a Supreme Court ruling ordered the State of Israel to recognize Reform and Conservative rabbis serving in rural communities, the Chief Rabbis declared a war against the court ruling, demonizing Reform Judaism as "destroyers, terrorists, God’s enemies, evil" and worse. Israel's leaders were silent then....

The overwhelming majority of Israelis want to see its founding promises of "freedom of religion and conscience" and "equality regardless of religion" fully realized. They shudder from the mere thought that [..] Israel will turn into a theocracy.
It is not the civil laws and institutions of democracy which need to be banished, but rather the Chief Rabbinate. It is time to reconsider the need for it.
It is clear to all in Israel that the Rabbinate turned into a payoff to the ultra-Orthodox parties. There is no parallel to the institution of the Chief Rabbinate in any Diaspora community, and it has no precedent in history. It was invented by the Ottoman Empire, kept by its heirs (the British Mandate over Palestine), and became a convenient trading card in the hands of Israeli governments.

Hiddush strives to get the political establishment in Israel and the Diaspora to stop ignoring problems of religious freedom and equality in shouldering the civic burden, and to force them to deal with these challenges.
The Declaration of Independence promised Israeli citizens freedom of religion and conscience. But in the state’s 61 years this promise has been realized to a very partial extent. As a result, democracy and the safeguarding of human rights have been severely undermined. There is no other enlightened democracy in the world where freedom of religion and freedom from religion are in a worse state than in Israel.
The religious legislation that exists in Israel, particularly in the area of marital status, exists elsewhere only in radical Muslim countries. Hiddush statement 2011


Is a just and righteous world
an antisemitic world?
John Robertson, Your Middle East, 30-7-2013

Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch;
And He will reign as king and act wisely
And do justice and righteousness in the land.
Jeremiah 23

If the "peace process" is to have any chance to succeed, Israel has to stop - COMPLETELY - its ongoing colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. (And in a truly just and righteous world - a world that actually abided by…what do you call it? Oh, yeah, international law - it would uproot every Jewish settlement, including the massive settlements blocs, from the West Bank and bring all those settlers inside the 1967 borders.....)
But there's no way Kerry/Obama can insist on halting the settlement/colonization enterprise, because they know that the Republican-dominated House of Representatives - as well as a large portion of the US Senate - would stand by it.
Remember, this is the same US Congress that only a few years ago practically led Netanyahu into its august halls on the back of a donkey and strewing palm fronds and hosannas in his path. And the Israel lobby, AIPAC, CUFI, the Washington Post editorial board, the Council on Foreign Relations (well, Elliott Abrams for sure) would scream bloody murderer and label Obama, Kerry, et al. anti-Semites, mullah-lovers, new-Holocaust mongers . . . any and every of the multitude of awful names and characterizations that people have come up with for people perceived not to "stand with Israel."

Kerry's peace talks are a charade. If he's lucky, the participants will close their talks with an announcement of some new "principles" or "understandings" for future discussion. Smiles, handshakes, expressions of gratitude and hope all around. But the beat(-down) for the Palestinians will go on. And the settlers will continue to grab their land.

John Robertson is a history Professor at Central Michigan University, an authority on the history and cultures of the Middle East. His book, Iraq: A Brief History, is about to be published by OneWorld Publications.

Egyptian Backlash against Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi’s
Call for foreign Intervention in Egypt
Posted on 07/29/2013 by Juan Cole

Muslim ‘televangelist’ Yusuf Qaradawi has provoked fury in many quarters of Egypt with his recent fatwas and statements on that country. Qaradawi is an Egyptian member of the Muslim Brotherhood who took refuge in Qatar and became a Qatari citizen during the period when the Brotherhood was banned in his country of birth. ...
Qaradawi is close Muhammad Morsi, the deposed president of Egypt... In a letter to a number of international bodies, Qaradawi called for the Arab League, the UN, and the African Union, among others, to “take a stance” toward the deposing of Morsi and “to come to Egypt and see what is happening” there.
He also said, “I call on Muslim throughout the world in every place, in Indonesia, Malysia, Nigeria . . . India, Somalia, Iraq, Iran . . . and in every country of the work, I call upon them to be shuhada’ [witnesses or martyrs].” Many observers interpreted this last statement as a call for volunteers to go fight in Egypt as jihadis seeking martyrdom. ...
He also slammed the Saudi royal family for supporting the new government.

Egyptians and many others are certainly taking the letter as a call to vigilanteism against Egypt, and they are furious. Muhammad Fathi writing in the Youth edition of al-Ahram, Egypt’s newspaper of record, slammed Qaradawi for being more loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood than to Egypt, for urging foreign interference in his own country, and for giving fatwas or legal opinions widely viewed as outside the mainstream and idiosyncratic.


Muslim World Needs Zero
Tolerance for Militant Jihadists
By: Fahad Nazer for Al-Monitor, July 28, 2013

Muslims are in dire need of a paradigm shift: They must re-evaluate the centrality of the doctrine of "jihad" in Islam, and consider its militant variant as more than a source of tension with the West. Militant jihad — as opposed to its spiritual variant — must be seen as posing an existential threat to Muslim civilization.

Extremists readily declare Muslims with whom they disagree over doctrinal — or even political — issues to be "unbelievers," and enjoin their followers to defend "true" Muslims against these "collaborators" who are assisting the West in its onslaught against Islam. This call to arms resonates when it is framed in the context of ongoing political conflicts in which Muslims are portrayed as being besieged by the "enemies of God."
One can see this phenomenon most clearly in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Contrary to their rhetoric, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Somalia's al-Shabab, the different variants of Ansar al-Sharia and a host of other militant groups, including Hezbollah, have not engaged in a war against the West: Their victims have overwhelmingly been other Muslims.

A 2010 study by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point confirmed what many of us Muslims knew all along: 85% of al-Qaeda’s victims between 2004 and 2008 lived in Muslim-majority nations. A more recent study by the RAND Corporation similarly found that about 98% of al-Qaeda's attacks between 1998 and 2011 were "part of an insurgency where operatives tried to overthrow a local government or secede from it — and were not in the West."

The ruthless terrorist attacks in places as varied as Baghdad, Peshawar, Sanaa, Algiers, Kandahar, Riyadh, Amman, Mogadishu and Timbuktu show the dubious nature of the militants’ claims. Both Sunni and Shiite militants who have jumped into the fray in Syria have characterized their brutal attacks against Muslims of the opposing sect as "jihad."

Militants have eroded not only any semblance of peace and stability, but have injected an insidious sectarianism that has seriously weakened social fabrics. It is no wonder that nations where militants have established a foothold and continue to contest state legitimacy find themselves topping the lists of failed states year after year.

Oddly enough, the country most often singled out as the main "exporter" of militant Islam across the globe — Saudi Arabia — seems to appreciate the danger that this politicized jihad poses to Muslims more than most. ...
Saudi authorities suspended hundreds of mosque imams and school teachers who espoused militant views. They also apprehended militant sympathizers and put hundreds of them through rehabilitation programs that aim for the renouncement of their violent views. They have even revised their school curriculum, and tried to more narrowly define and limit the concept of jihad: when Muslims can wage it and who can declare it. Mosque imams have also been warned not to deliver politically charged sermons.

Fahad Nazer is a political analyst with JTG, Inc and a former political analyst at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, DC.

On its 68th anniversary, the Syrian Army
continues upholding its values and principles
Syrian Arab News Agency, Jul 31, 2013

Damascus, (SANA) – In its current battle against terrorists and those who support it, the Syrian Army continues to uphold the values and principles it championed since it was established in 1945, defending the homeland and protecting it from plots seeking to undermine the Syrian state and its independence. ...

Throughout the years, the Syrian Army embodied the values of national unity and reflected the diversity of Syrian society, embracing the heroic principle of martyrdom and making it an integral part of the Syrian soldier's mentality.
With the passage of time, the Syrian Army became a part of the masses, connected to the people it defends against external and internal threats.

The Syrian Army's history is marked by honorable battles fought to protect Arab lands, from defending Palestine in 1948, to protecting Lebanon's unity and independence in 1976, to confronting the Israeli enemy in Lebanon in 1982.
Today, the soldiers of the Syrian Army continue to follow in the footsteps of their comrades who came before them, defending the country from terrorists and showing utmost readiness and capabilities to foil aggressive acts against Syria.


Haidar inspects destruction caused by terrorists
to al-Khalidiye neighborhood in Homs
SANA, Jul 31, 2013

Homs, (SANA) – State Minister for National Reconciliation Affairs Ali Haidar and Homs Governor Talal al-Barazi on Wednesday inspected the massive destruction caused by terrorists in al-Khalidiye neighborhood in Homs city.
Haidar said the destruction caused by terrorists is clear proof of their blind hatred which masquerades as religious to wreak havoc in cities, spreading death and devastation, stressing the need to document these acts to serve as a reminder.
Haidar said the neighborhood can be rebuilt, but what is more important is rebuilding people and embracing national reconciliation, affirming that the government approved steps to help affected people when they return to their homes and neighborhoods.
He asserted that the Syrian Army which restored security and stability to al-Khalidiye is capable of eliminating terrorists in other cities and areas, and that a people with an army like the Syrian Army must emerge victorious.


President al-Assad salutes Syrian army on Army Day
SANA, Aug 01, 2013


Rami Kzaour - We are your men, O Bashar
Damascus, (SANA)_President Bashar al-Assad expressed confidence in victory over the aggression targeting Syria thanks to the sacrifices and heroism of the Syrian army.
Addressing the Syrian army and armed forces on the occasion of the 68 anniversary of the Army Foundation Day in a speech published by Jaysh al-Shaab (Army of the People) magazine, President al-Assad saluted the Syrian army ''who is protecting the homeland's dignity and honor,'' lauding its unequalled valor in confronting terrorism.
President al-Assad emphasized the army's role in safeguarding the cultural identity of the Arab nation and Syria, hailing the mutual bond of confidence between the army and people in what constituted ''the secret of our legendary steadfastness.''

"You have shown the whole world that pressure and conspiracies, no matter how tough and varied, will only make you even more determined to confront challenges, and emphasized that there are sacred principles in Syria based on the interests of the Syrian people and their national and pan-Arab goals," President al-Assad said.
''Had we in Syria not been confident of victory, we would not have been able to remain steadfast and resist the agression for over two years,'' President al-Assad affirmed.

Gen. Fahd Jassem al-Freij: "Syria
is fighting terrorism on behalf of the entire world"
SANA, Aug 01, 2013

Damascus, (SANA)- Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Armed Forces and Minister of Defense, Gen. Fahd Jassem al-Freij, extended a salute to the members of the Syrian Arab Army.
He noted that the power of the Syrian army has always been and continues to be the top preoccupation of Syria's enemies who are seeking to target this army.
He added that the Syrian army has carried the pan-Arab responsibility on its shoulder for decades, which did not appeal to the enemies "to whom we say: Our army will continue to teach lessons in patriotism, and no one will be able to break it."
"Syria is not only engaged in a war against terrorism and terrorists, but it is in confrontation with Arab and regional ruling systems and is fighting terrorism on behalf of the entire world," the Minister said.

President Bashar al-Assad visited Daraya in Damascus countryside, inspecting a unit of the armed forces tasked with protecting the citizens and restoring security and stability to the area. He appreciated the heroism and sacrifices of the Syrian army soldiers which preserved the homeland, saying "Without you, there were no universities, schools, bread or water… without you, Syria was a matter of refugees, perhaps abroad… without you, we all were slaves for the states which want us to bow." (SANA 2013)

Back to the Future
By: Vali Nasr for Al-Monitor, July 31 - 2013

The overthrow of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has laid bare the truth hiding in plain sight — the struggle in the Middle East is no longer between dictatorship and democracy, but Islamism (especially Islamic extremism) and its detractors. ... The new, albeit unspoken strategy for the Middle East that is no longer rooted in being on the right side of history by promoting democracy, but in containing Islamism.

The military’s narrative in Egypt today is that it had to step in to fight the scourge of “terrorism.” The coup leader, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, pays lip service to restoring democracy, but his aim is to sideline, and if need be, dismantle the Muslim Brotherhood....
Events in Egypt no longer look removed from what is happening in Syria. As Egypt vilifies the Brotherhood, it will become easier for Syria to dismiss its own Brotherhood-influenced opposition. The Syrian Brotherhood is even more hard-line than its Egyptian counterpart and thus even easier to cast as extremist. ...

The Kremlin has always dismissed talk of democracy in the Arab world as naive, seeing it as an opening for an Islamist power grab that would jeopardize Western and Russian interests alike. Islamist governments in Tunis and Cairo, the surprising popularity of Salafism and the proliferation of violent extremism in Libya or Syria have only confirmed Russia’s worst expectations of the Arab Spring. ..
President Vladimir Putin sees Syria through the prism of Chechnya — a violent jihadi insurrection that has to be put down at all cost. Just as Russia defeated Islamic radicalism in Chechnya, Assad could do the same in Syria.
Putin has lost no opportunity to remind US officials who visit him that the case for ditching Assad is Western folly. He argues that Syria is not about to become a democracy, but a bastion of Islamic extremism if Assad falls. The West is foolishly supporting the very menace that it has been fighting for more than a decade.
Washington does not like to acknowledge it, but it has been slowly but surely moving in Putin’s direction. ... In private, the administration also admittedly fears that if it helps topple Assad, extremists will take over.

The Russian position is that if the goal is the rout of extremists, then Assad is best positioned to do the job. Washington is not ready to admit that, but by buying into the same argument in Egypt and standing back for Assad to defeat the opposition, it could signal that it is open to embracing a future for the Middle East in its past. First Egypt, then Syria, will be back in the corner of the containment of Islamism strategy...

Vali Nasr is the dean of the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and a contributor at Bloomberg View. He is the author of The Dispensable Nation, Forces of Fortune and The Shia Revival.

Flashback: Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda Are Not Allies
By Daniel Benjamin, New York Times, September 30, 2002

As the Bush administration works to strengthen support for a war against Iraq, it is sowing a dangerous confusion about the relationship between Al Qaeda and the regime of Saddam Hussein. Arguing, as the president did last week, that the two are ''equally as bad, equally as evil and equally as destructive'' -- and that ''you can't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror'' -- reinforces widely held misunderstandings about the extraordinary danger of the new religious terrorism.

Iraq and Al Qaeda are not obvious allies. In fact, they are natural enemies. A central tenet of Al Qaeda's jihadist ideology is that secular Muslim rulers and their regimes have oppressed the believers and plunged Islam into a historic crisis. Hence, a paramount goal of Islamist revolutionaries for almost half a century has been the destruction of the regimes of such leaders as Presidents Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar el-Sadat and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, President Hafez al-Assad of Syria, the military government in Algeria and even the Saudi royal family.

To contemporary jihadists, Saddam Hussein is another in a line of dangerous secularists, an enemy of the faith who refuses to rule by Shariah and has habitually murdered Sunni and Shiite religious leaders in Iraq who might oppose his regime.


Iraq: The most important measure is to create unity.
Iranian Diplomacy, 2-8-2013

After the capture of Saddam Hussein and the occupation of American soldiers in Iraq, the Ba'ath Party was banned. Ba'ath is unity by "rebirth" or "renaissance" and the party's ideology is translated "Unity, Freedom, and Socialism." Unity is the call for union for all Arab people. Freedom is the call for freedom from Western interests and influence.

The slogan "Unity, liberty, socialism" is the key tenet in Ba'athist thought. Unity stood for the creation of an independent, strong Arab Nation. Liberty did not mean liberal democracy, but rather freedom from colonial oppression, freedom of speech and intra-party democracy. The last tenet, 'socialism', did not mean socialism as it is defined in the West, but rather a unique form of Arab socialism. According to Ba'athist thought, socialism had originated under the rule of Muhammad. (Wikipedia)


An interview with Nazem Dabbagh, a representative of Kurdistan Province in the Iranian Parliament and an expert on Iraqi affairs

- The explosion of 8 vehicles in Baghdad shows that the security situation in this city is worsening day by day and during the last month more than 700 people have lost their lives due to these bombings. What are the reasons, in your opinion, behind this insecurity?

- There are numerous reasons for the recent insecurities in Iraq. One of them is related to the political problems of this country. You see, political competitions in Iraq are not yet correctly solved and different groups have not learnt that they should not sacrifice national interests for their personal and party interests.

The existing differences and rifts between the Iraqi groups and officials have led to problems in maintaining security. Therefore, in my opinion, lack of unity between the security forces in Iraq is one of the important issues in this regard. Unfortunately, the political factions and competitions have impacted the security forces and partisanship has had negative effects on the situation of Iraq’s intelligence organizations. Furthermore, the crisis in Syria has also impacted the security in this country.

- You mentioned the issue of Syria and that it is one of the roots of the violence in Iraq. How has this crisis impacted the situation in Iraq?

- The political, military, and security conditions of the region are intertwined and when there is insecurity in any of Iraq’s neighboring countries, it will certainly affect the security conditions in Iraq as well. Nevertheless, as the crisis in Syria intensifies, it can be expected that the insecurity and violence would increase in the entire region. What is obvious is that following the crisis and the civil war in Syria, radical groups, the al-Qaeda, have found a good opportunity to be present in the scene. By founding a group called the Islamic State of Iraq and attempting to link it to Syria, al-Qaeda intends to rule over this region. They have close relations with the al-Nusra front in Iraq and act based on the same goals and motivations in both Iraq and Syria.

- What measures has the government of Iraq taken to prevent the spread of this insecurity?

- The government of Iraq has attempted to separate itself from the crisis in Syria and prevent the spread of this crisis into Iraq. Nevertheless, it has not been very successful in this regard. ...

In my opinion, one of the necessary and important measures which should be taken is to create unity and set aside personal and partisan interests. If this happens and the political forces unite over national principles and interests, then the security forces will also be united. The security forces in Iraq must see each other as colleagues and not rivals. ...

- Therefore, is the problem rooted in Iraq’s political officials?

- Yes. These issues and the recent events in Iraq show that the political and security officials have not been able to solve the problems and establish security. As I mentioned before, there are no problems among the people. These problems and differences exist between the officials.

- What measures should the Iraqi officials take to reduce the violence?

- The most important measure is to create unity. Discord is the most important problem in Iraq today. A look at the political scene in Iraq shows that everyone pursues his own interests. On this basis, we cannot hope to solve the basic problems of the country, especially in the area of security issues.


"Democracy consolidates relations among people,
and its main strength is respect."
Saddam Hussein, in: 'On democracy'

The question of democracy is an extremely complicated one. It needs your great concern.”

"Pay attention to citizens’ demands and grievances and do not feel weary or bored by the persistence of these demands, because if you save a wronged person, partially or totally, you will be doing a great service to the people and the principles of your Party. The sense of injustice is a serious thing. There is nothing more dangerous than a human being who feels he is wronged, because he will turn into a huge explosive force when he feels that no one in the State or in society is on his side to redress the injustice."

Mohamed ElBaradei: "A constitution
that forbids them from speaking in God's name"
Nada Hussein Rashwan, Al-Ahram 4 Aug 2013

In his first local television interview as Vice President for Foreign Affairs, Mohamed ElBaradei told private satellite channel Al-Hayat Saturday evening that there was international recognition that the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi by the military following nationwide protests was necessary. He renewed calls to supporters of the deposed president to re-integrate in the new political order.

ElBaradei explained that his priority was to communicate to international actors that the 30 June actions were "not a new revolution but a correction of the 25 January revolution" against the Mubarak regime. ...
ElBaradei reiterated his insistence on ending the current political impasse through a political solution, while pointing out that if the Muslim Brotherhood refuses to cooperate and insists on escalation, violence may be a feared inevitable consequence.

"My priority within the next 48 hours is to find a way to lessen the tension and decrease violence," he said....
"I would love for the [Muslim Brotherhood's political wing] FJP and [Salafist] Nour party to continue as political actors and be part of the 50 member committee amending the constitution, but it is unacceptable that Nour party rejects a woman as culture minister," he said. "I support their right to be part of the political process, but within a constitution that forbids them from speaking in God's name."

Speaking about the post-Morsi political process, Elbaradei said the battle lies ahead for the liberal opposition camp - mainly the umbrella group the National Salvation Front of which he is a leading figure –in amending the constitution and competing in the elections, the main components of the military-enforced post-Morsi roadmap: "The NSF has to continue with its work, the real battle lies in the constitution and the elections ahead," he said.

“Let there be no compulsion in religion.”
"The Messenger’s duty is but to proclaim the Message"
Islam Today Net

One of the fundamental truths established by the sacred texts is that no one can be compelled to accept Islam. [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 256] It is the duty of Muslims to establish the proof of Islam to the people so that truth can be made clear from falsehood. After that, whoever wishes to accept Islam may do so and whoever wishes to continue upon unbelief may do so. No one should be threatened or harmed in any way if he does not wish to accept Islam.

This verse is decisive in establishing that each person has the right to make his or her own choice about embracing Islam. There is other equally decisive evidence in the Qur’an, among which are the following verses:
Allah says: “If it had been your Lord’s will, all of the people on Earth would have believed. Would you then compel the people so to have them believe?” [Sûrah Yûnus: 99]
Allah says: “So if they dispute with you, say ‘I have submitted my whole self to Allah, and so have those who follow me.’ And say to the People of the Scripture and to the unlearned: ‘Do you also submit yourselves?’ If they do, then they are on right guidance. But if they turn away, your duty is only to convey the Message. And in Allah’s sight are all of His servants.” [Sûrah Âl `Imrân: 20] Allah says: “The Messenger’s duty is but to proclaim the Message.” [Sûrah al-Mâ’idah: 99]


Adnan al-Araour: militias "have transformed
the country into Afghanistan"
Syria Breaking News, 31-7-2013

In a television show, broadcast on July 31, the spiritual leader of the Free Syrian Army, Sheikh Adnan al-Arour, said he was forced (by whom?) to take up arms against Bashar al-Assad while the military way leads nowhere. He lamented that the "noble revolution" has become a "butchery" and concluded that he no longer identifies with it. (Voltaire Network 5-8-2013)

Islamic preacher, Adnan al-Araour has launched an attack against the armed militias in Syria, saying they "have transformed the country into Afghanistan," al-Araour also criticized the states which support the militants, saying that he had never called for armed operations.
Al-Araour, in a videotape circulated by the social networking websites said:
"Thank God, I was one of the first advocates of non-arming, but thus, fate occurred, I did not advocate demonstration, but this as Allah destined it to be and we can’t help it”.
In reference to the Arab parties that supported militants since the beginning of the crisis in Syria, Araour said: "I called my supporting brothers from here, but they did not respond, and I asked God to guide them and fend their evil off the country.”
Araour added: "These supporters do not understand anything about military, and they are the main reason behind the problem, because each one was seeking to form a party of his own or a battalion which supports nothing but itself. These battalions will cause problems later. What to do if they do not understand?

Al-Araour is known for issuing dozens of Takfirist Fatwas that call for the killing of Syrian Arab Army members and civilians who support the Syrian government, as well as most of his speeches stir the issue of sectarian strife between the spectra of the Syrian people.


Iran gets new president, vows 'constructive' foreign relations
By Yeganeh Torbati, NBC News 8/3/2013

DUBAI (Reuters) - Hassan Rouhani took office as Iran's president on Saturday promising "constructive interaction with the world".
"Moderation does not mean deviating from principles and it is not conservatism in the face of change and development. Moderation ... is an active and patient approach in society in order to be distant from the abyss of extremism," Rouhani said in a short speech after becoming president.
"In the international arena we will also take new steps to promote the Iranian nation towards securing national interests and removing sanctions. Although there are many limitations, the future is bright and promising," he said. "The orientation of the government is Iran's economic salvation, constructive interaction with the world, and a restoration of morality."

Shortly after the swearing-in as the new president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani gave the new list of minister to the speaker of Iranian parliament Ali Larijani. The list, which first would have to be approved by the Iranian parliament first, includes information about the new ministers, new programs of their ministries, and also various proposals of Rouhani's new cabinet.

Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance:
Ali Jannati (Former Ambassador of Iran in Kuwait)
"Intellectual matters are not hereditary"

Ali Jannati for culture minister, an influential post which oversees domestic and foreign press in Iran and vets cinema, theatre, literature and other arts. Jannati has served as ambassador to Kuwait and his father is Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, a hardline cleric.
During Ahmadinejad's presidency, press freedoms were curtailed, newspapers shut down, and this year about a dozen journalists were arrested in a crackdown on the press.
In an interview with the reformist Bahar newspaper this week, Jannati sought to distance himself from his father's views and indicated he would support more freedom for artists.

"Intellectual matters are not hereditary," Jannati said, according to Bahar. "I am hopeful that given my views on the fields of music, art, and film, the cultural and artistic atmosphere in the country will soften so that artists can breathe more easily."

Iran Should Seek Détente with Arabs
Iran Review, April 29, 2011, Interview with Ali Jannati

- Q: Tension has been escalating between Iran and member states of the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council recently. They have been charging Iran of interfering with internal affairs of Bahrain. What does this exactly mean?
- A: The only support offered by the Islamic Republic of Iran for recent uprisings has been through mass media. Iran has done its best to support popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen because it believes that people should be allowed to determine their own fate.
It is not acceptable in the modern world to have lifelong dictators in these countries.... Therefore, people have risen to establish democracy and participate in determination of their fate. The Islamic Republic of Iran has been supporting popular uprisings in all countries in line with its basic principles. Bahrain is no exception to that rule and Iran has taken the same media approach to it as other countries.

- Q: What Arab countries do to curb Iran’s influence?
- A: Even when we had good relations with these countries, including under Mr. Khatami when Iran worked toward détente, both ruling elements and part of the elite were striving in two directions.
Firstly, they tried to introduce Iran the region’s black sheep because of its non-Arab nature and claimed that Tehran was averse to Arab states. In fact, since the victory of the Islamic Revolution, Iran’s main policy has been expansion of ties with all Muslim countries.
Secondly, they banked on Shia-Sunni dichotomy and used Sunni clerics to this end. A major example is Saudi Arabia where Wahhabi and Salafi clerics are against Iran and the Iranian nation. One of their clerics recently announced that Iranians were Zoroastrians!

- Q: What policy should Iran adopt in the face of such actions?
- A: We must work toward détente. They are our neighbors and according to the old adage that “you shall not fight with your neighbor,” tension with them will not be good.
Throughout the post-revolution era, all Iranian governments have shared the willingness to have cordial ties with our neighbors. We have, therefore, been persistently following the policy of détente.


“Constructive interaction on equal footing and based on mutual respect and common interests will be the basis of our foreign relations with the other countries...” “I frankly say that if you want a proper response, speak [..] with the language of respect.” Hassan Rohani, 4-8-2013

In Egypt, Sen. McCain calls Morsi ouster a 'coup'
Sarah Lynch, for USA TODAY, August 6, 2013

CAIRO – Two U.S. senators met with the Egyptian military Tuesday and urged it to release jailed members of the Muslim Brotherhood whose government the military deposed in what one called a "coup."
Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham arrived here on behalf of President Obama to persuade Egypt's leaders to hold talks with the former Brotherhood government on scheduling new elections.
"In democracy, you sit down and talk to each other," Graham said, adding that it is impossible to speak with someone when they are in jail. McCain labeled the July 3 overthrow a "coup" – a narrative rejected by a large chunk of the population who rose up against Brotherhood member and President Mohammed Morsi before Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi forced Morsi out and put him under house arrest. Graham called the action "a transition of power not by the ballot box." (The Obama administration has refused to label the action a coup.)

"The statement he made does not help very much," Mustapha Al Sayyid, professor of political science at Cairo University and the American University in Cairo, said of McCain's comment. "I think if he will act as a mediator, he should refrain from making statements that will be offensive to one of the parties."

Boycott Egyptian Media
Muslim Brotherhood - IkhwanWeb, 7-8-2013

Based on an analysis of Egyptian media performance after the traitorous military coup against constitutional legitimacy, and out of a belief in the right of the Egyptian people to knowledge and their right to access information and accurate news which would enable them to take an honest and appropriate political stance about the situation arising from the coup, the Media Professors Against the Coup Front (MPACT) urges the Egyptian people to boycott state-controlled and hostile private print and broadcast media for the following reasons:

- 1. Egyptian media bow stupidly to military putschists’ calls for a mandate to fight violence and terrorism – a strategic mistake unprecedented in the history of the Egyptian state.
- 2. Egyptian media practice the ugliest forms of psychological warfare against the Egyptian people by adopting methods of deception, obfuscation, instigation and deliberate distortion of the protesting anti-coup people's revolution in Rabaa Al-Adaweya and all public squares in Egypt.
- 3. Egyptian media use systematic methods to infuse the spirit of hatred against the people rising in revolution for dignity, for freedom and for the gains of the January 25 (2011) Revolution.
- 4. Egyptian media incite mass murder by focusing on calls to break up peaceful sit-ins by force, based on a single perspective of events and on false information from official sources that reflect the point of view of the putschists alone.
- 5. The putschists’ media lack the simplest rules of professionalism which require commitment to accuracy, honesty, fairness, objectivity, balance and pluralism of opinions.
- 6. Egyptian media promote utter lies and baseless rumors that does not in any way reflect the reality of the peaceful sit-ins ... This is contrary to the ethics of professional media work that require accuracy to ensure societal stability.
- 7. Egyptian media strives to blur and twist the truth, thus replicating the role of media during the January 25 Revolution, ignoring the public's right to honest, faithful and balanced reporting and accurate information...
- 8. Egyptian media strive [..] to marginalize and repel all political forces’ attempts and initiatives aimed to stop the bloodshed and return all parties to the negotiating table...
- 9. Egyptian media ignores the right of professional media fellowship, and does not see the confiscation of media freedoms, closure of newspapers or gagging and imprisonment of journalists... Indeed, the discourse of journalists and political talk shows reflects a sort of vengeance, a spirit of revenge...
- 10. Egyptian media undermine the gains of the January 25 Revolution and support the return of the police state and the use by State Security apparatus of heavy-handed tactics in dealing with the Egyptian people...

MPACT, therefore, holds that Egyptian print and broadcast, state-owned and private are no longer patriotic national institutions, since they work against the interests of the country...
MPACT, therefore, calls on the masses of the Egyptian people to boycott Egyptian media until media professionals wake up and return to their senses and duty, and commit to the values, ethics and conscience of truly professional media.
In conclusion, we affirm that we are monitoring, analyzing and documenting all the crimes committed by the putschists’ media, with sounds, pictures, videos and texts, referenced to relevant media sources, personalities and journalists.

These documented crimes will be presented, together with names and facts, to relevant courts of justice to take legal action against the perpetrators, in time.


John McCain: The whole world is a battlefield
Swathi Nallapa, Policymic june 2013


supporting Islamists in Syria
Senator John McCain is nothing if not consistent. From his vociferous and unyielding support of the Iraq war, to subsequent calls for military intervention in Iran, Georgia, Libya, and now Syria, Senator McCain is arguably the most pro-war politician in Washington. ...
In recent years Senator McCain [..] has thrown caution out the window as he consistently urges the U.S. to take military action all over the globe. In fact, as his Republican colleague Senator Rand Paul poignantly put it, McCain seems to think "the whole world is a battlefield."

From an utter disregard of legality during the 1999 bombing of Serbia, to his push for preemptive bomb strikes in Iran a decade later, it seems as though Senator McCain is always leading some ragtag band of war hawks into yet another military entanglement.
To add insult to injury, Senator McCain is entirely unwilling to accept shortcomings and failings in his hawkish military strategies. When asked in 2008 about previous comments by the Bush administration suggesting that we leave troops in Iraq for 50 years, McCain callously responded, "Make it a hundred."
For nearly every international conflict since 1983, Senator McCain's response has been to urge the U.S. to exercise military force...

Thanks to decades of war mongering by Senator John McCain and other powerful leaders in Washington, President Obama, like others before him, is starting to feel as though military action is the only viable solution to international conflict. ...

The “peace talks” illusion
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Russia Today 9-8-2013

The main purpose of the so-called peace process has been to serve as a theatrical distraction. Initially, the Israeli-Palestinian talks were used to keep the Palestinian people and Arabs at bay. The peace talks and negotiations acquired another dimension with time, when they became a convenient tool for distracting the international public and influencing global public opinion by presenting Israel as a reasonable entity willing to make concessions for peace and security.

On the latter point mentioned above, on the concept of “Israeli concessions” to the Palestinians, there is a catch. Israeli concessions only exist in theoretical terms if Israel’s illicit fancies are considered legitimate. In reality, there are no Israeli concessions, especially when international law is the measuring stick to evaluate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Tel Aviv unlawfully claims the entire West Bank, which it has no legal entitlement to under international law, as its own territory. Israeli leaders present the attenuation of their territorial claims on the West Bank, which they have been busy annexing during the bogus peace talks, as some type of concession to the Palestinians.
The so-called “Israeli settlements” in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are categorically rejected by the United Nations as illegal. They are a brazen violation of international law. Israel’s settlements in the West Bank have unanimously been identified as a war crime under the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court by all of the International Criminal Court’s judges. The US is also an accomplice in this, because Washington has prevented international action from being taken against Israel.
A spade should be called a spade: these Israeli settlements in the West Bank are nothing more than Israeli colonies.

There are no Israeli concessions, just demands

It is comical to hear US Secretary of State John Kerry ask for both Israel and the PA to make “reasonable compromises.” To put it bluntly, it has actually been the Palestinians which have made the real compromises and then, on top of it, have been the ones that have been forced by both the US government and Israel into gradually making more and more concessions. In addition to the recognition of the approximate 80% of Palestine that is demarcated within Israel’s 1967 borders by Palestinian officials, about 60% or more of the West Bank’s territorial space is occupied by Israeli settlements/colonies. ...
Israel does not want a genuine negotiated settlement with the Palestinians. It merely wants them to be what can best be referred to as “Fourth Worlders.” In fact, establishing more settlements/colonies in the West Bank has become a national priority for Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.
Aside from annexing the best land in the West Bank, Tel Aviv wants to dictate its terms for the creation of a 'Palestinian Bantustan' that will be comprised of several disconnected enclaves essentially controlled by Israel via proxies and will lack any real legitimacy, any real political independence, and any real economic capabilities.

Whatever the reasons are behind the renewal of the futile talks between Tel Aviv and the PA, the US government and Israel are not interested in a just resolution. Neither the talks nor the negotiators nor the US government, as a broker, are genuine. The Obama Administration is merely pursuing its own interests in the wider Middle East. ...
While the destitute Palestinian people undergo territorial disposition, the sham peace talks have served as nothing more than a smokescreen for Tel Aviv to systematically colonize what is left of the Palestinian homeland as Israeli Lebensraum or “living space.” There is no other way to phrase it.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is sociologist, award-winning author, and noted geopolitical analyst.


“The Messiah’s donkey”
Excerps from the book 'Sharon: The Life of a Leader'
by Gilad Sharon,
Tablet 1-11-2011

My father [Ariel Sharon], from the moment he was appointed minister of agriculture in 1977, always did his utmost to aid the kibbutzim and farming villages, especially the ones far from the center of the country. ..
My father’s other role in Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s government was as chairman of the Ministerial Committee on Settlements. In this role he put Likud policy and his own beliefs into practice. He founded many dozens of settlements in Judea, Samaria, the Gaza Strip, Galilee, the Golan Heights, the Negev, and in the Arava. ...

My father began to consolidate his thoughts on the matter of settlement in Judea and Samaria during his service as Yitzhak Rabin’s adviser. He believed that Israel could not under any circumstances afford to return to the June 4, 1967, lines. ...
The plan that my father drafted and brought before the government for approval offered solutions to several problems—Israel’s lack of depth along the coastal plain, its vulnerable eastern front, and the safeguarding of Jerusalem. ...
My father’s plan called for fortifying the hills to the west of the Jordan Valley with additional settlements, building a cross-Samaria road that would be protected by settlements and serve in a time of need as emergency routes for troops heading to the eastern front. ...
The third element of his plan was Jerusalem. The question was how to secure Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Jewish people... The solution my father presented was a ring of Jewish settlements around the city.

On Oct. 2, 1977, the Cabinet authorized the plan, putting it into motion. My father and his aide Uri Bar-On, a brigadier general in the reserves who was also a close friend, began surveying the terrain, mountain by mountain, hill by hill. ...
During the following four years my father spearheaded the effort to found 64 new settlements in Judea and Samaria.

But the rise of the Likud to power and the fact of his service in government were not enough to get the project off the ground. They needed people willing to settle the land, too. These were found in the form of the Gush Emunim loyalists. These God-fearing religious nationalists felt that settling in the biblical land of Israel was a commandment of supreme importance. Years later, my father would remark with a smile that they viewed him as “the Messiah’s donkey,” the man who would help them realize their ideals and faith.

Between Sharia and International Law
Elham Aminzadeh: Iran's top female politician
I24 News, 13-8-2013

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has appointed Elham Aminzadeh as Vice President for Legal Affairs - the first female to occupy the position in Iran’s history. Aminzadeh is a law and public policy professor at Tehran University. Like Rouhani, Aminzadeh earned her Ph.D from the Glasgow University in Scotland.

The political role of women in Iran has been a touchy subject for years. Women in Iran were granted the right to vote only in 1963. Since then, they have held several high-ranking positions in public offices, serving as ministers and ambassadors. Since then, the progress of women's rights in Iran has been unsteady.
In 1976, the first Iranian Minister for Women’s Affairs, Mahnaz Afkhami, was appointed. When the Islamic revolution broke in 1979, she was accused of corruption and blasphemy for her feminist stances. Afkhami has lived in exile ever since.
Surprisingly, the Islamic revolution in 1979 did later promote many women in power. Masoumeh Ebtekar served as the first female vice president of Iran, following her prominent role as the spokesperson of the students responsible for the US Embassy hostage crisis in 1979. She is currently a city councilwoman of Tehran.
Following her trail, an array of female journalists, activists and scientists, such as Tahereh Saffarzadeh, Azam Taleghani, Fatemeh Haghighatjou, Elaheh Koulaei and Fatemeh Javadi, served as parliament members, publicly addressing women’s rights under Muslim rule.
Despite their inspiring efforts, there are currently only nine women in the Iranian parliament, out of a total of 290 parliamentarians.

Elham Aminzadeh: "Sanctions undermine the economic rights
of all the people" - Tehran Times 2013

Imposing unilateral sanctions on various institutions and individuals has become a new method to apply pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran But this pressure is completely inconsistent with the original philosophy of sanctions as a tool for punishing countries that have failed to meet their international obligations.

The entity that most obviously deserves to have international sanctions imposed on it is the Zionist regime, which has committed numerous offences, including human rights violations and crimes against humanity. However, under the influence of the United States and its allies, the United Nations has always turned a blind eye to all the atrocities committed by the Israelis. And instead they are hypocritically imposing harsher sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran over its peaceful nuclear program....
The sanctions, which supposedly only target the Iranian government and certain citizens, have actually undermined the economic rights of all the Iranian people.

Aminzadeh: Iran (religious) charter transcends UN charter
53rd United Nations Commission for the Status of Women
1-04-2009, Report by Celia Michonik

In one of the sessions, Dr. Elham Aminzadeh, the official representative of Iran gave a statement under the subtitle " In the name of G-d, the Compassionate, the Merciful"...
On the subject of women's rights under Islamic law, Dr. Aminzadeh asserted that the Islamic Republic of Iran believes in gender equity for establishing an appropriate and adequate status for women. She maintained that Iran achieves this goal by adopting a charter which places emphasis on the areas of "Morality, justice and security" as inspired by the religious ethics of her nation.

"Regarding the respectable and responsible status of women in the glorious Quran we find that every great man had powerful women besides him. The wives of Adam and Ibrahim and the mothers of Moses and Jesus are held in great reverence." (30-9-2009)

In her opinion the document "transcends the approach of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)". Her statement bared no reference to the practices of honor killings and stoning of women that are widely prevalent in Iran. She also maintained that the problem of HIV/ AIDS was almost non-existent in Iran and has inflicted less than 1% of the population of which only 6% are women.

Sharia Law: Iran’s constitution, adopted in 1979 after the revolution that overthrew Shah Reza Pahlavi, mandates that the legal code adhere to Sharia law, the Islamic moral code based on the Koran. Article IV of that constitution states: “all civil, penal, financial, economic, administrative, cultural, military, political, and other laws and regulations must be based on Islamic criteria.”
Sharia has an Old Testament flavor, providing, for example, for public lashings for certain offenses, and death by stoning for women convicted of adultery. (Today in Iran)

186 nations have ratified CEDAW,
the U.S. has failed to do so

The Treaty for the Rights of Women, officially known as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), is a pragmatic international agreement addressing the rights of women and girls.
In countries that have ratified CEDAW, women have partnered with their governments to improve the status of women and girls, and as a result have changed laws and policies to create greater safety and opportunity for women and their families....
The treaty was passed by the UN General Assembly on December 18, 1979, and was signed by President Carter on behalf of the United States in 1980. While 186 nations have ratified CEDAW, unfortunately, the U.S. has failed to do so and is keeping company with known human rights violators including Sudan, Somalia, and Iran.
In the United States, the CEDAW treaty has been voted on favorably twice on a bipartisan basis by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but the CEDAW treaty has never been brought to the Senate floor for a vote.

The Convention defines discrimination against women as "...any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field."

Elham Aminzadeh: The Fundamental Human Rights
in the Situations of Occupation and Economic Sanctions
Faculty of Law and Political Science, University of Tehran, 2008

The protection of fundamental human rights at the time of war or peace is an obligation that should be observed at anytime by the states and international organizations. After the Second World War, the non-peaceful situations such as occupation and economic sanctions have occurred numerously, which in some cases lasted for more than a decade. Unfortunately, the laws governing these situations are not implemented properly, and therefore fundamental human rights of people, especially their life, integrity and security, have been violated....

[Our] study is based primarily on the conventional and customary international legal rules.

Egypt declares nationwide state of emergency
PressTV Aug 14, 2013

Egypt has declared a month-long state of emergency across the country after violent clashes between security forces and thousands of supporters of the ousted president, Mohammed Morsi.
The nationwide curfew began on Wednesday at 4:00 pm local time (14:00 GMT), the office of the interim president announced in a statement on state TV. The Egyptian state TV announced earlier that the protesters were evacuated from their camps in Rabaa al-Adawiya camp and al-Nahda Square by the security forces. ... Police reportedly used tear gas, armored cars and bulldozers to disperse Morsi supporters.

Egypt has plunged into unrelenting string of violence since General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the head of the Egyptian army pushed aside the first democratically elected president and declared chief Justice of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mansour, as the interim president.
On August 12, the Anti-Coup Pro-Democracy Alliance called on people to hold nationwide rallies to counter the military clampdown on their sit-ins.

Anti-Coup Alliance Statement
Ikhanweb (Muslim Brotherhood), August 14,2013

For the first since the January 25 Revolution, military forces forcibly broke up a workers’ demonstration in Suez, physically assaulting workers protesting peacefully, and detaining a number of them in unprecedented action that confirms the putschists’ complete rejection of the January 25 Revolution’s principles and their determination to restore repressive practices of past eras of oppression and injustice. ...
We emphasize that our revolution is getting stronger, day after day, with new national, patriotic and revolutionary groups and movements joining our sit-ins. The people’s anger has reached unprecedented proportions.
We urge all free Egyptians in the streets and public squares of Egypt to continue their revolt, and we assure them of ultimate victory, soon. We vow to persevere in our peaceful protests. We will defeat the bloody coup with our non-violent persistence. We will restore full, uncompromised legitimacy, and invalidate all the bloody coup’s actions and effects.

Anti-Coup, Pro-Legitimacy National Alliance
Cairo: August 13, 2013


Egypt PM Beblawi: The Morsi sit-ins had to be dispersed
Ahram online, 14 Aug 2013

Egypt's interim premier, Hazem El-Beblawi, addressed the Egyptian nation Wednesday evening in what he called "a word from the heart," describing the decision to disperse the two main sit-ins held by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo and Giza as a difficult one.
"As a government, we respect the right of peaceful protesting. But in all countries of the world those, rights are respected as long as there is a respect for others' rights, and this is achieved through a state of law," said El-Beblawi.
"As a state, we reached a level in which we can not accept this method of protesting. Still we gave a chance for reconciliation, and even for international meditation, in order to have democracy in the future. But there was no respect for the right of peaceful protest," said El-Beblawi, adding that Pro-Morsi protesters abused this right by blocking roads and attacking people.
"We respected the feelings of the Egyptians in Ramadan and Eid, but then the state had to intervene in order to restore the security of Egyptians," said El-Beblawi. "The dispersing of the sit-ins had to happen," he added. ....
El-Beblawi further stated that the interim government was moving forward in the roadmap and wishes to accomplish the drafting of a constitution that would brings about a state that was neither religious nor military-based.

On Wednesday, the interior minsitry started dispersing the two main pro-Morsi sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque in Nasr City and Al-Nahda Square in Giza. Clashes eruped nationwide leaving at least 149 civilians and, according to the interior ministry, 43 security personnel killed in addition to many more injured.
In addition to clashes at the sit-in venues, confrontations also erupted between pro-Morsi demonstrators and security forces in several governorates around the country. A number of churches and Coptic shops were also torched by Morsi supporters.
Vice President for International Affairs Mohamed ElBaradei resigned following the violence...


ElBaradie’s resignation draws mostly criticism
Ahram Online, Thursday 15 Aug 2013

Egyptian Vice President for Foreign Affairs Mohamed ElBaradei’s decision to resign from his post has drawn a number of mixed reactions from some praising his stance to others condemning the move.

Rebel campaign, which spearheaded the 30 June mass protests that overthrew Morsi from power, issued a statement via Facebook denouncing ElBaradie’s resignation and describing it as an “escape from responsibility”.
“We were hoping that ElBaradie would do his role in explaining the situation to the global public opinion and international community and clarify that Egypt is facing organised terrorism, which highly endangers the Egyptian national security,” the statement read.
In a statement to ElBaradei, Rebel spokesman Mahmoud Badr said “Unfortunately Sir… you have chosen to beautify your international image in front of your friends around the world at the expense of your national image in front of the Egyptian people and of your role [as vice president].”

The National Salvation Front (NSF), the main Egyptian opposition umbrella, said in a statement that they received El-Baradie’s news that he resigned with “lots of sadness.” “We thought, based on his close relationship with the front, that he would confer with us before taking that decision,” the NSF statement read.
Ahmed Darrag, a high ranking leader of the liberal Constitution Party, the party which ElBaradie established, denounced the ex-vice president’s decision and as a response annouced his resignation from ElBaradie’s party. During an interview with Egyptian Al-Hayat TV channel, Darrag said he considered ElBaradie’s move as “an abandonment to his country at a time when Egypt needs him most to pass the current situation.”
The general director of the Constitution Party in the Egyptian governorate of Suez, Sherif Gamal, called on ElBaradie to resign from the party after he resigned from his vice president post.

Meanwhile, Deputy head of Salafist Nour Party Nader Bakkar described ElBaradie’s resignation as “the least he could do.” ... The party’s spokesman Sherif Taha called Elbaradie’s resignation “a step on the right path,” stating that Egypt ‘desperately’ needs national reconciliation.
The April 6 Youth Movement’s Spokesman Khaled El-Masry said the movement “completely understands” ElBaradie’s decision to resign from his post. El-Baradie has “humanitarian biases as well as biases for justice and freedom that contradict bloodshed, especially if it happens while he is in a public post,” El-Masry said in a statement to Al-Ahram Arabic news website.

Plan to overhaul Syria rebels stirs dissent
Saudi Gazette, 14-8-2013


1-8: Ahmad Jarba at the Elysee Palace
A call by Syria’s opposition chief Ahmed Jarba to restructure rebel forces into a National Army has stirred rage among jihadists, and even criticism among his ranks. In an interview Monday, Jarba said the new force was needed to combat elite fighters loyal to Assad’s regime and to form the backbone of a future army. ....
Hadi Al-Bahra, a coalition member close to Jarba, said the plan was to “improve the FSA’s structure, performance, discipline and communication between factions”. He also acknowledged the need to combat “extremist thinking,” an apparent reference to jihadists who want to create an Islamic caliphate.
There needs to be a clear and total rejection of any extremist thinking, and of any action that harms civilians, and any targeting of civilians on the basis of religious or ethnic affiliation,” Bahra said.

Lashing out against the ineffectiveness of the foreign-based National Coalition, many dismiss the proposed new force as an irrelevant project unlikely to bear fruit.
For their part, the jihadists have labelled it a Western plan to turn Syria’s rebels into an anti-Al-Qaeda fighting force similar to the US-funded “Sahwa” Awakening Councils that battled the group in Iraq from 2006. “We stand together to bring down the Sahwa project,” wrote one subscriber on a jihadist Internet forum, describing Jarba and Idriss as “traitors to the Levant and Islam.” ...

Many of the biggest groups aligned with Selim Idriss, groups like Liwa Al-Tawhid, have said they may not share the ideology of the (Al-Qaeda affiliate) Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, but that they are also not interested in fighting them. And groups not aligned with Idriss have already dismissed the idea.
A member of the powerful Islamist Ahrar Al-Sham faction blasted the proposal as a non-starter. Idriss’ “general command has proven itself a failure on the ground,” he told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“Everyone deals with them as a way to get ammunition and weapons, and when things get serious, no one listens to them...”


Putin talks NSA, Syria, Iran, drones in RT interview
Russia Today, June 12, 2013

Vladimir Putin on Syria: ... I will tell you what we are concerned about and why we assumed our current stance. Look at the region as a whole. There’s still unrest in Egypt. There’s no stability in Iraq, and there’s no certainty that it will stay united within its current borders in the future. There’s no stability in Yemen, and Tunisia is far from peaceful. Libya is suffering from clashes between various ethnic and tribal groups. So the region as a whole finds itself in a state of, at the very least, uncertainty and conflicts. And now Syria joined the rest.
In my opinion, this is happening because some people from the outside believe that if the region were to be brought in compliance with a certain idea – an idea that some calls democracy – then peace and stability would ensue. That’s not how it works. You can’t ignore this region’s history, traditions and religious beliefs, and you can’t just interfere.
Look at what happened in Libya. Whether the regime was good or bad, the living standards in the country were the highest in the region. And what do we have now? There’s fighting over resources, incessant clashes between tribes, and no one knows where that might lead.
We are very concerned that if we try the same thing with Syria, the result will be similar. Is the pocket of uncertainty between Afghanistan and Pakistan not enough? No one is controlling that territory, except militants who set up their bases there. Is that what we want? It’s very close to our borders. So this is our primary concern.

Secondly, we are concerned over the future of all ethnic and religious groups living in Syria. We want this country to have lasting peace and security, with the people’s interests and rights guaranteed. So we believe that first of all the Syrian people are to be given an opportunity to decide how their state should be organized, how their lawful rights, interests and security should be ensured. When there is consensus on these issues, systemic change should take place, not vice versa, when you eliminate some forces and try to establish order, and chaos engulfs the country instead. ...
There’s a question our Western counterparts fail to answer. One of the main armed opposition groups – specialists in Arab countries will correct me if I’m wrong – is called the Al-Nusra Front. The US State Department dubbed it a terrorist organization connected with Al-Qaeda. The Al-Nusra itself doesn’t make a secret out of it. So these are the people that will make up Syria’s future government? Our Western counterparts say that it will not happen. “How will you get rid of them, then? Chase them away like flies?” I ask. “No,” they say. So what is going to happen? They say they don’t know.


Ali Tarhouni - Libya: "Where is the army?"
By Michel Cousins, Libya Herald, 14 August 2013

Former Oil Minister Ali Tarhuni this evening called on for a crisis government to be formed to focus entirely on security. ... Leading a group of political activists, academics, tribal leaders and NGO heads who have joined together to form the National Initiative for Saving Libya, he told a press conference at Tripoli’s Mahari Radisson Blu Hotel that, unless security was established throughout the country, it risked becoming a failed state. “We’re getting into a dangerous area now” he later told the Libya Herald. ...
Enough is enough, Tarhouni told the meeting. There is a crisis. “We must have a crisis team running the government,” he insisted. “Without it, we will have no safety.” ...
Rebuilding the army is the key to Libya’s future, he believed. At present, there is no functioning Libyan army which could protect the state and its citizens. Three billion dinars has been spent on the army, he said, but “Where is the army?” in the current crisis, he asked. The reality is that no state can be established without a functioning army, functioning police, proper border guards and, in the case of a petroleum economy, proper petroleum forces to guard the country’s source of wealth.
Without it, “Libya will not be stable” – and without stability, issues such as rights for the Amazigh and other minorities or whether or not Libya should be a federal state (he said he was not in favour) would not see the light of day. Only once there is security could these and other ideas be discussed calmly.


Haifa Wahba: "Save us from blind hatred"
Posted on 08/16/2013 by Juan Cole


hawa beirut (love of beirut)
Within Egypt, and in many other Arab countries, the shocking killings of Black Wednesday have elicited horror in many quarters, but have actually been supported in many others. ...
Those anti-Muslim Brotherhood Egyptians and Arabs who feel little sympathy for the victims typically depict the Brotherhood as a violent cult stockpiling weapons and kidnapping and torturing people. ... These observers are struck not by the body count but by what they call the clear evidence of weapons stockpiles at the sit-ins.

It is true that on Wednesday and Thursday, Muslim Brotherhood cadres did deploy firearms against the police, killing some 50 of them. There was a report of the Brotherhood actually using mortar rounds against a police station in the upper Egyptian city of Asyut. Euronews reports that Brotherhood attackers took over the governorate offices of Giza with firearms and then burned it.
Brotherhood cadres have also burned down at least 12 Coptic Christian churches and attacked 28 others in the past two days, as well as shooting dead at least 3 random Christians. They blame the Copts for supporting the coup against Morsi, though the Copts as a minority of 10% of the population are powerless and hardly conducted the coup....

According to opinion polling, some 57% of Egyptians either felt that the Brotherhood protesters at the sit-ins were terrorists or included terrorists among them. Only about a fifth sympathized with them. Nearly two-thirds wanted the sit-ins broken up “immediately” (though they mostly preferred it be done “peacefully.”) ...
The Tamarrud or Rebellion movement of Mahmoud Badr and others had actually forwarded a memo to the United Nations asking them to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as an international terrorist organization.
It is not only Egypt. The Kuwaiti newspaper al-Siyasa headlined on Thursday after the bloody events, “Egypt breaks up Sit-in of the Brotherhood of Terror,” saying the long-suffering Egyptian people had awaited the end of this nightmare of the Muslim Brotherhood, which had turned city squares into armed camps.
Entertainment stars even got into the action. Asked about the car bomb in a Shiite neighborhood of Beirut that killed 18 on Thursday and the events in Cairo, diva Haifa Wahba expressed anguish at the region’s terrorism problem and asked God to “save us from those cannibals and from blind hatred.”


Back to a purely Arab regional system
Daily News Egypt , August 16, 2013

Morsi’s supporters set up protest camps in Cairo and promised to stay put until the former leader, now in custody, was reinstated. The government ordered them to disperse and, after a number of delays, police backed by troops stormed the camps on Wednesday. The death toll from ensuing clashes, in the capital and across Egypt, has reached nearly 600 people.
But only Qatar, a Brotherhood patron, and Tunisia, whose ruling Ennahda party is affiliated with the the movement, strongly condemned the assault.
“All the Gulf monarchies, except for Qatar, and Jordan fear that the Muslim Brotherhood revolution will be exported to them,” said Khattar Abou Diab, a professor at University of Paris-Sud. “For that reason, they are hoping for a return to the classic situation of a strong power in Egypt, a pivotal country in the Arab world.”
These countries, Saudi Arabia in particular, “have noted with disapproval the growing weight of Turkey and Iran … and their support for the Egyptian regime demonstrates their desire to return to a purely Arab regional system based on more classical lines.” ...

Stephane Lacroix, a professor at the Institute of Political Science in Paris and an expert on the group, said the “Muslim Brotherhood has never been opposed to relations with Shiite Iran while, for the Saudis, that is a red line not only in terms of Sunni orthodoxy but also because or regional politics.”
Lacroix added: “For the Emiratis and Saudis, the Muslim Brotherhood has regional ambitions that could be a danger to the monarchies of the Gulf.

Khattar Abou Diab: the “democratic option in the Arab world has been more or less brought to a halt. What happened in Egypt could give ideas to others in Libya and Tunisia (two fledgling democracies where Islamists are on the rise) and what happened in Egypt could spread to them.”

Stand with Egypt, King urges Arabs
Saudi Gazette, 17-8-2013


Gaddafi: "We are the enemies of one another"
RIYADH – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Friday called on Arabs to stand together against “attempts to destabilize” Egypt.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its people and government, stood and stands today with its brothers in Egypt against terrorism,” he said in a message read out on Saudi television.

I call on all honest men of Egypt and Arab as well as Muslim nations, Muslim think tank, and honorable scholars to stand as one man and with one heart in the face of attempts to destabilize a country that is at the forefront of Arab and Muslim history,” the King said.
“With hearts full of sadness, we have been watching the events unfolding in our second home country, Egypt. These tumultuous and heart-wrenching events make those who love Egypt and care about its unity and stability feel a lot of pain. Egypt is facing failed attempts by its enemies who want to shake its stability,” King Abdullah said.
“All those who meddle in Egypt’s internal affairs are inflaming strife,” the King said, adding that the North African country faces “a conspiracy of plotters” trying to strike at its unity and stability.

Saudi Arabia “has stood and stands with its Egyptian brothers against terrorism, deviance and sedition, and against those who try to interfere in Egypt’s internal affairs... and its legitimate rights in deterring those tampering with and misleading” its people, King Abdullah said.
“I hope that those who do that return to their senses before it is too late. The Egypt of Islam, Arabism, and its glorious history won’t be affected by such attempts. It will be capable, by the power of Allah, to move to the harbor of safety. When it does that, those who tried to destabilize it will realize they have made a grave mistake,” the King said.


Mustafa Hijazi: "Any sovereign state has the right to defend itself"
Al Arabiya, 17-8-2013

The Egyptian government vowed on Saturday to fight “terrorism and radicalism,” saying Muslim Brotherhood loyalists have engaged in violence and not peaceful protests, a presidential official said in a press conference.
Mustafa Hijazi, who is a political advisor to Egypt’s interim government, urged protesters, who are calling for the re-instatement of deposed President Mohammed Mursi, to “go back to their rational senses.” He said “war has been declared” against Egypt by “extremist forces” to foil the country’s aim of forming a civil state.
He stated that “burning churches, schools, museums, random firing on civilians sitting in their homes, random killing, burning of public and private properties , targeting government edifices and police,” were all forms of “terrorism.”
Egyptians, who “are more united than before,” will be protected from “religious fascism,” he added. “The constitution will be for all Egyptians by all Egyptians,” he said, adding that the government will work to fully implement the roadmap...

The interim government has been widely criticized for the use of violence against Mursi supporters. After security forces gave warnings to Mursi loyalists to clear their sit-ins in two major Cairo squares on Wednesday, more than 600 people were killed in one day. ...
However, Hijazi said these protest camps were not peaceful. He said the protesters used women and children as shields, some had machine guns and snipers maimed security forces from the top of buildings, he added.
While he promised to investigate any violations by the security forces, he defended Egypt’s conduct in dealing with the protests saying that any capital in the world or any sovereign state has the right to defend itself.


Anti-Coup Alliance Statement
IIkhwanWeb (Muslim Brotherhood), 17-8-2013

The coup commanders show more and more vividly just how blood-thirsty, savage and vengeful they are. Not content with the massacres and crimes against humanity they committed during their violent ‘scorched-earth’ crackdown on Rabaa El-Adaweya and Nahda vigils, they executed yet another bloody massacre to be added to record of their brutal criminal history....
General Sisi and his henchmen [..] have the dubious honor of being the first to use the Egyptian armed forces and heavy weapons to kill Egyptians in a historical precedent and a crime against humanity that will not go unpunished by the law.

In another development, the July 3 coup forces used bullets that are forbidden internationally. They kidnapped women who were on their way to participate in peaceful protests on Friday. They continued their unholy practice of violating the sanctity of the dead by mutilating bodies of martyrs. They even attacked the wounded in hospitals, not to mention their attacks on journalists and abduction and targeting of photographers, in an attempt to hide the truth.
The unspeakable massacres those cold-blooded forces committed will be a mark of shame on the forehead of humanity that shows how the coup commanders lost their human senses together with all feelings and values, principles and ethics.
These barbaric atrocities also prove that the coup has been broken, and that the putschists have no alternative but to admit defeat and act accordingly. The will of the people cannot be defeated.

"I saw the bright side"
by Islam Abdel Rahman, 18-8-2013

It was a very horrible night in which I saw two sides of Egypt. A dark side of the police, army and thugs, who kept firing all day on protesters (even the army used helicopters to attack them), and in the night kept chasing people in streets attacking and killing on identity and suspicion.
I also saw a bright side, of young people standing firmly for the cause of freedom and against tyranny even if this cost them their lives, and normal people who answered the call of humanity protecting strangers in trouble and hosting them at their own homes.
Yes it was a terrible experience, but I believe that a noble cause of my life must be to empower the bright side of Egypt to defeat its dark one. (Ikhwanweb-Muslim Brotherhood)


Constitutional Committee to complete task Monday
"We are considering an article prohibiting religious parties"
Egypt Independent, 18-8-2013

Chancellor Ali Awad, rapporteur of the Constitutional Committee, said at a press conference on Sunday that the committee would complete its task by Monday if the members are able to postpone their other commitments to the courts.
On dissolving the Muslim Brotherhood, Awad said this is in the hands of the competent minister, pointing out that the article prohibiting religious associations was not amended. “We are considering an article prohibiting religious parties,” he explained.

“The committee did not decide whether the constitution would be rewritten in full or just amended,” he said. He also said the amendments include several transitional articles. “We took all recommendations into consideration,” he said, declining to disclose whether the Shura Council would be dissolved in the new constitution.

Saudi Gazette Editorial, 19-8-2013
Iraq problems started with war
Narrow-minded political leadership in Baghdad

Nothing reveals the calamitous failure of American adventure in Iraq more than the fact that 10 years after the war, this Arab country remains one of the most unstable and one of the most violent in the world. And nothing reveals the Iraqi leadership's shortsightedness than their move to enlist US help to set things right.
More than 1,000 Iraqis were killed in terror-related attacks in July, the deadliest month since 2008. August looks to be no better. ... People are getting killed in terrorist bombings, internecine strife and security operations. If the Baghdad government has its way, very soon Iraqis may get killed in US drone attacks as well.
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Friday that Iraqi forces need US help to stem the tide of violence. US assistance package, he suggested, could include a limited number of advisers, intelligence analysis and surveillance assets like lethal drones.
Zebari seems to be forgetting that what is happening in Iraq now is only a continuation, in an intensified form, of something that began with the 2003 war and a decade-long occupation. The fact remains that the dark forces, foreign or indigenous, now playing havoc with Iraq's future, are a direct result of the US invasion and the punitive sanctions that preceded it.
After the Sept. 11 attacks, President George W. Bush, in an attempt to drum up support for the war tried to link Saddam Hussein with Al-Qaeda. But Iraq became a “safe haven” for an assortment of terrorist groups only after the invasion. These groups could win Iraqi backing for two reasons: Any people would resent the presence of foreign troops in their country, especially if the occupying forces employ high-handed tactics to enforce their will. By excluding Baathists from military and government services, the occupying authorities polarized the Iraqi society.

Now Washington is trying to present Syrian instability as the core of the problem for Iraq. The fact is even if Syria were to remain an ocean of calm, Iraq would still be unstable and on the boil. The reason is the faulty political deal stitched together by Washington which by effectively excluding Sunnis from all decision-making powers sharpened sectarian divisions. ... [Prime-Minister Maliki] deployed the state security apparatus against his Sunni critics saying they have sympathies with the banned Baath party. ...
Narrow-minded political leadership in Baghdad and reliance on an outside power who was the source of most of Iraq's present ills may make the region more volatile and more explosive.

Flashback: Text of the letter addressed by H.E. Mr. Saddam Hussein,
President of the Republic of Iraq, to the General Assembly
Iraq Watch, September 19, 2002

In a speech that was preceded and accompanied by noisy propaganda [..] the U.S. President has spoken at the General Assembly.
But instead of paying attention to common issues of particular concern to humanity at large, such as security in its large and real sense, the freedom which is linked to true independence, the balanced economic development that would put an end to poverty, or mitigate its fatal impact and establish for a life free of hatred, envy, and chronic and incurable disease, with collective responsibility based on collective solidarity, as well as enhancing development and the precedence of self-denial over selfishness by which greed reigns over man...; instead of all this and other equally important issues, the U.S. president, in a narrow-minded view presented the security problems of his own country, and the sacrifice it has suffered, since the events of September 11. ...

He jumped to the issue of Iraq, without any introduction or acceptable progression. He portrayed this issue as if it were the most dangerous situation, not only for the life, security, and future of the United States, but for the life, future, and security of the whole world.
Along with his generalizations, which implied deliberate insinuations, he presented the utmost distorted statement which reflects his underestimation of the intelligence of the representatives of the countries listening to him, when he talked about the alleged present or future Iraqi nuclear, biological, and chemical threats...
He said that the Iraqi people deserve to have a democratic government along the American style... The U.S. president talked about the importance of applying democracy by the Government of Iraq. He pretended to care for the people of Iraq after he and other presidents before him have killed by the use of weapons, including depleted uranium, and by the blockade which is now more than twelve years old, more than one million and seven hundred thousand innocent Iraqis out of a population of twenty five million citizens.
I wonder how many other peoples of the world will he, and the coming U.S. administrations will kill, if they choose to "care" for other peoples after Iraq?!

When the U.S. administration realized that it was necessary to have an international cover for using force against Iraq [...] it changed the issue and its direct accusations against Iraq by something new. It began to shed crocodile tears on international law, and the necessity to comply with, and implement the resolutions of international legitimacy, alleging that Iraq is not complying with Security Council resolutions, especially concerning the inspectors.
According to the U.S. administration [..] Iraq has the intention or has developed nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and according to the same false allegation it may give such weapons to terrorist organizations that pose a threat to world security.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Our people, and ourselves, from our position of responsibility, have defended the principles and values that you have willingly put down in the UN Charter, and the purposes for which the Security Council was created, i.e. to preserve security and to extablish peace. ...
By the stance we have taken, we have defended the UN Charter, and the principles by which and on which the Security Council was established. We have suffered a lot of harm from the policy of arrogance and aggression adopted by successive U.S. administrations. These administrations have violated the principles of the UN Charter and international law....
What Iraq wants is the respect of the principles of the UN Charter and international law, whether regarding its own interests and sovereignty or those of the other member-states of the United Nations. On this basis, Iraq was, and still is, ready to cooperate with the Security Council and international organizations. However, Iraq rejects any transgression by whosoever at the expense of its rights, sovereignty, security, and independence, that is in contradiction with the principles of the Charter and the international law. ...

The blockade imposed upon Iraq has been in place for more than twelve years now, during which time our assets and oil revenues have been frozen, and we are unable to use them except through an inefficient system already proven to be unfeasible. Substantial amounts of our revenues have been illegitimately seized in a manner tantamount to looting and, therefore, contrary to the meaning of the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter. ....
When their war-planes are detected by Iraqi radars, they bombard our radar units together with any civilian and military installations in the area. Any Iraqi fire opened against their war-planes in our own air-space is considered an "Iraqi aggression" against them, as if their war-planes are flying in US or British airspace.

Therefore, Iraq has been keen to see this issue discussed between the Security Council and Iraq, through the United Nations Secretary General and the representatives of Iraq, with a view to reaching a balanced formula, based on the principles of the Charter and the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, as a comprehensive solution which should bring to an end the cyclone of American accusations and fabricated crises against Iraq.
At the same time this would reassure Iraq with regard to its security, sovereignty, territorial integrity and its right to choosing its own way without interference in accordance with the rules established in the Charter of the United Nations.

Thus Iraq would live in freedom as it is the right of others to live in freedom, in accordance with the Will of God and the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter as well.