Saddam's Death, 40
attempt to destroy political holism in the middle east

See also: Page 39: june 2014 and page 41: july 2014
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was born April 28, 1937 and died December 30, 2006. He was the fifth President of Iraq, holding that position from July 16, 1979 until 9 April 2003. He was one of the leading members of the revolutionary Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, and afterward, the Baghdad-based Ba’ath Party and its regional organization Ba’ath Party, Iraq Region, which advocated ba’athism, an ideological marriage of Arab nationalism with Arab socialism. (Patricia Ramos, july 2013)

"Zionism [..] has transformed into an imperialistic claw used against the Arab nation. Zionism has partnered wit imperialism and participated in its economic and political plans. Moreover, it relies on its unfounded, historical belief for the purpose of destroying the Arab nation... This means maintaining the weak state of the Arab nation...
Zionism regards unity of Arabs as contradictory to its existence. Therefore, Zionism's line of defense is based on the principle that the Arab nation must be broken....
It is necessary for Zionism to revive all the old historical frictions that took place in the path of nationhood, so it can use them [..] to break up the fabric of Arab nations." (The Saddam's tapes, 1978-2001, page 67)

Sharon to Knesset panel: Iraq is our greatest threat
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that Iraq "is the greatest danger facing Israel." Asked by Labor Party MK Ophir Pines-Paz and Shas MK Yitzhak Cohen if Israel plans to attack Iraq if Baghdad attacks Israel, Sharon said that "we don't know for certain if the U.S. will attack Iraq. Iraq is a great danger. It could be said it is the greatest danger. We aren't intervening in U.S. decisions." But he said that "strategic coordination between Israel and the U.S. has reached unprecedented dimensions." (Ha'aretz 13-8-2002)

antiwar protests 2002

"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)


The ethnic cleansing of Arab Sunnis, Christians and minorities has created a new breed of Iraqis – the Neo-Baathists or Neo-Saddamists.
Although we may have disagreed with it previously, we defend Baathism because under Baathism we were protected – Baathism is secular, left-wing and socialist which is how Iraqi society should be.
Under Baathism there was no ethnic cleansing or targeting of Arab Sunnis, we lived side-by-side in peace with our Shiite, Christian, Sabaean, Yazidi, Kurdish brothers and sisters.
Anbar has become a symbol for Neo-Baathism with many Anbaris still holding the previous Iraqi flag with the 3 stars and the Kufi font.... The 3 stars on the previous Iraqi flag represent: Baathism: Unity, Freedom and Socialism. (Sarah Chronicle 5-5-2013)

“I call on you not to hate because hate does not leave space for a person to be fair
and it makes you blind and closes all doors of thinking.”
Saddam Hussein, farewell letter 2006

Index Page

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)

"We must become bigger than we have been: more courageous, greater in spirit, larger in outlook. We must become members of a new race, overcoming petty prejudice, owing our ultimate allegiance not to nations but to our fellow men within the human community." Haile Selassie

“Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned.., until there are no longer first-class and second class citizens of any nation..., until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes.., until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race...., until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained..." Haile Selassie 6-10-1963

Ahmed Maher: Rules Of Law Are Universal

If we are going to fight terrorism, we have to fight it in all of its forms, whoever the perpetrators are, and in a way compatible with international law. These are the lessons that have to be learned, the most important of which is that double-standards don't work. They're in the interest of no one.
If you have a rule of law you apply it to everybody, then you have a safer world. If you have a rule of law that you apply according to your whims, or according to whether A or B is your friend, or you dislike C, or you don't sympathise with E, then you will create chaos. We have learned that rules of law are universal. (Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, Al-Ahram Weekly, sept. 2002)

Vladmir Putin: The 21st century world is globalized and interdependent. Therefore, no state or group of countries can unilaterally tackle major international problems and any attempts to build a separate “oasis of stability and security” are doomed to failure.
In order to meet numerous challenges and threats we have to stop trying to impose development models on other countries. This approach has repeatedly proven its ineffectiveness. It does not just fail to facilitate conflict resolution, but leads to instability and chaos in international affairs. Today, it is especially important to consolidate the international community’s efforts to ensure equal and indivisible security, as well as to resolve disputes trough the application of international law and with the central coordinating role of the UN. (Itar-TASS, 13-7-2014)

Edward Said: "No common purpose"

Underlying most of the findings in the much cited 2002 UNDP Arab Human Development Report is the extraordinary lack of coordination between Arab countries....
It's always the same thing, factionalism, disunity, the absence of a common purpose for which in the end ordinary people pay the price in suffering, blood and endless destruction. Even on the level of social structure, it is almost a commonplace that Arabs as a group fight among themselves more than they do for a common purpose.
We are individualists, it is said by way of justification, ignoring the fact that such disunity and internal disorganisation in the end damages our very existence as a people. (Al-Ahram Weekly 2002)

Saddam Hussein: "Life requires dealing with progressive ideas and methods"

Those who are incapable of innovation are the people who imitate and copy others, and in our society there are two types of imitators: One type that imitates the old and they are the reactionaries and right-wingers, and another type that copies from the new, and borrow the experiences and solutions of other nations...
But we have the capacity to innovate and to produce creative and advanced solutions, and life requires dealing with progressive ideas and methods.
The problems of our modern society, that we have to deal with, are profoundly different from the problems that were faced during the early Islamic era… (speech by Saddam Hussein, 8/11/1977)

Sectarian monster reawakened in Iraq
Ramzy Baroud, Arab News (Saudi Arabia), 17 June 2014

When Bush led his war on Iraq in order to fight Al-Qaeda, the group simply didn’t exist in that country; the war however, brought Al-Qaeda to Iraq.
A mix of hubris and ignorance of the facts — and lack of understanding of Iraq’s history — allowed the Bush administration to sustain that horrible war.

The Americans toyed with Iraq in numerous ways. They dissolved the army, dismissed all government institutions, attempted to restructure a new society based on the recommendations of Pentagon and CIA analysts in Washington D.C. and Virginia. They oppressed the Sunni Muslims, empowered Shiites and fed the flame of sectarianism with no regard to the consequences.
When things didn’t go as planned, they tried to empower some Shiite groups over others, and armed some Sunni groups to fight the Iraqi resistance to the war, which was mostly made of Sunni fighters.
And the consequences were most bloody. Iraq’s civil war of 2006-07 claimed tens of thousands to be added to the ever-growing toll caused by the war adventure. No sham elections were enough to remedy the situation, no torture technique was enough to suppress the rebellion, and no fiddling with the sectarian or ethnic demographics of the country was enough to create the coveted “stability.”

In December 2011, the Americans ran away from the Iraq inferno, leaving behind a fight that was not yet settled. What is going on in Iraq right now is an integral part of the US-infused mayhem. It should be telling enough that the leader of ISIL, Abu Baker Al-Baghdadi is an Iraqi from Samarra, who fought against the Americans and was himself held and tortured in the largest US prison in Iraq, Camp Bucca for five years.
It would not be precise to make the claim that ISIL started in the dungeon of a US prison in Iraq. The ISIL story would need to be examined in greater depth since it is as stretched as the current geography of the conflict, and as mysterious as the masked characters who are blowing people up with no mercy and beheading with no regard to the upright values of the religion they purport to represent. But there can be no denial that the US ignorant orchestration of the mass oppression of Iraqis, and Sunnis in particular during the 2003 war until their much-touted withdrawal was a major factor in ISIL formation, and the horrendous levels of violence the extremist group utilizes.
It is unclear whether ISIL will be able to hold onto the territories it gained or sustain itself in a battle that involves Baghdad, Iran and the US. But a few things should be clear:
The systematic political marginalization of Iraq’s Sunni communities is both senseless and unsustainable. A new political and social contract is needed to re-order the mess created by the US invasion and other foreign intervention in Iraq...

Who are Iraq’s Sunni Arabs and What did we Do to them?
By Juan Cole | Jun. 18, 2014

The two great branches of Islam coexist in Iraq across linguistic and ethnic groups. There are Sunni Arabs and Shiite Arabs, Sunni Kurds and (a tiny minority of) Shiite Kurds. Arabs are a linguistic group, speaking a Semitic language. Kurds speak and Indo-European language related to English.

The elite of Iraq was Sunni since the medieval period, though there were always significant Shiite movements. In the course of the late 18th and the nineteenth centuries, under Ottoman rule, the tribes of the south of Iraq gradually converted to Shiite Islam. This may have been a form of protest against Ottoman oppression....
The elites of Mosul and Baghdad, however, tied to patronage from the Ottoman Sultan, resisted this conversion movement and remained Sunnis, recognizing the four Orthodox Caliphs...
When the British took Iraq during World War I they mainly turned to the Sunni elites as partners in building a new “Mandate” or colony recognized by the League of Nations. When the Iraqis revolted in 1920 against the prospect of British colonialism, desiring independent statehood instead, the British brought in Faisal as king. He was the son of Sharif Hussein of Mecca, and a Sunni... Faisal lacked roots in Iraq, and turned, in order to rule the country, to the Sunni mercantile and bureaucratic elites of Baghdad and Mosul....
Although the Shiites were a majority in Iraq, Sunnis predominated in positions of power and wealth throughout the twentieth century. When the Baath Party, a secular, socialist and nationalist movement, came to power in 1968, it was dominated by Sunnis from the area north of Baghdad... The high generals, bureaucrats, entrepreneurs and politicians were Sunni...

The regime suppressed any political religious group from entering the Iraqi political arena. At the same time, Iraqi secular Shiite individuals were incorporated into the regime and many occupied high political positions in both the government and the army..
After the Gulf War of 1990-91 when the US and allies pushed Iraq back out of Kuwait, the (religious) Shiites of south Iraq rose up. The US had urged them to do so...

The US overthrew Saddam Hussein of the Baath Party in 2003 in alliance with Shiite groups primarily. Those (religious) Shiite groups wanted revenge on the disproportionately Sunni Baath Party. They carried out a program of “de-Baathification,” in which they fired tens of thousands of Sunni Arabs from their government jobs as bureaucrats and even teachers. They hired Shiite clients instead. The Neocons hated the state-owned industries, and closed them down as inefficient without putting anything in their place.
The Bush administration backed (religious) Shiite supremacism and debaathification to the hilt. Its proponents likened it to de-Nazification after WW II in Germany, but actually former Nazis below the top level in Germany typically kept their jobs...
In the new Iraq, Sunni high status was turned upside down. The Sunnis were made unemployed, or given menial jobs, while the goodies went to the members of Shiite religious parties....

In 2010, the Sunnis united behind the Iraqiya Party of ex-Baathist Ayad Allawi, which became of the largest single party in parliament, with 91 seats. But Allawi could not find Shiite or Kurdish allies to bring his total up to 51% and so could only have headed a minority government open to being toppled at any time by a vote of no confidence. In contrast Nouri al-Maliki of the Da’wa Party put together, with Iran’s help, a Shiite majority and allied with the Kurds for a super-majority...
From 2011 when there was a ‘Sunni Arab Spring’ in Iraq, with urban youth demonstrations and demands for an end to discrimination, the al-Maliki government heavy-handedly repressed it. If it instead had accommodated those moderate young people in their demands, it might have avoided losing the Sunni areas to religious extremists....

The protestors were demanding:
* The cancelation of the law that was initiated by the U.S. occupation forces banning the Baath party from the Iraqi political arena and permitting their reentry into public life.
* The cancelation of the same law that dissolved the Iraqi army and prohibited members of the previous Baath party from being employed by the government.
* The improvement of the economic, social and environmental conditions.
* Stop taking orders from the Iranian government... (Prof. Hani Fakhouri Ph.D)

Sunni Iraqis had been in the 20th century cosmopolitan and often modernists. Many were liberals yearning for democracy. From 1968 they turned to more of a Soviet model, a strongly secular one.
They have turned in desperation to rural fundamentalists who want a medieval caliphate only because of the vast reversal in their fortunes resulting from the Bush invasion and occupation, and the unfair policies of the Shiite government, which has turned them from an elite into an underclass. They are capable, trained, educated people. They aren’t going to put up with that, and if turning to al-Qaeda is the only way to avoid that fate, they are often willing now to do it.

ISIS and the the Baathists’ conflict
Rabih Barakat, As-Safir, 18-6-2014

Although ISIS plays a key role in the areas under the control of the armed factions, this does not negate the fact that the most prominent officers within the movement are part of the remnants of the former Iraqi army, i.e., former Baathists turned Salafists.
Former Iraqi army officers form the backbone of the majority of factions fighting in Iraq. Some have preserved their Baathist tendencies, at least in terms of organizational loyalty, while others have severed all links with the party and are working under the umbrella of other groups. But both camps have joined the ranks of groups opposing the state.

However, in light of the Iraqi government's de-Baathification policy, many former Baathists have sought refuge in the ranks of the local grassroots groups. Some groups raised the banner of “Salafist jihadists,” such as ISIS, Ansar al-Sunna and the Islamic Army. Other groups operated under the umbrella of “moderate Islam,” such as the Mujahideen Army and the 1920 Revolution Brigade.
The Naqshbandi Army preserved the Baathist leadership in what its supporters describe as working within a Sufi framework. The Naqshbandi Order is the largest Sufi order and is spread in Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Kurdistan, and the rest of the countries of northern Iraq. The Naqshbandi Army is led by former Iraqi vice president under Saddam Hussein, Izzat al-Duri, and was established in 2007.

The affiliation with local grassroots groups, in the sectarian sense, is closely related to the collapse of the Baath Party, both Iraqi and Syrian, and to the collapse of the state and its institutions.
Iraq's Baath Party managed to bring together the Sunni Arab minority in the country, and non-Islamic forces within the predominant Shiite population, especially following the growth of the Shiite tide after the revolution in Iran.
Things were similar, to a large extent, in Syria, as its Baath Party served as a refuge for opponents of Sunni Islam. This included secular Sunnis and minorities alike, especially after the expansion of the phenomenon of the Muslim Brotherhood in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The de-Baathification at the level of the state institutions in Iraq pushed the remnants of the party toward sectarian affiliations and intransigence more than it did in Syria.
In Iraq, the sectarian affiliations have been more prominent due to the collapse of the state. The legacy of the Baath Party continued to prevail for some time in Iraq, especially in the center and north or among Sunni Arabs. However, with the dismantling of the state, those Baathists joined the ranks of other groups.
Today, the widening scope of war in the pan-Arab world suggests that the Baathists’ conflict is not over yet.

Ahmad Chalabi, Who Conned America Into War,
Now Aims To Lead Iraq
Aram Roston, BuzzFeed, 21-6-2014

Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi politician who peddled falsehoods to persuade the United States to invade Iraq, is now attempting to take over as Iraq’s prime minister, Iraqi and American sources say.

Before the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, Chalabi, a failed banker and former mathematician who lived in exile, became notorious for his influence in Washington among neoconservatives. Funded by the U.S. government itself, Chalabi’s group lobbied the successive American administrations to topple Saddam Hussein, pitching false stories about Hussein’s purported ties to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
When the U.S. invaded, Chalabi’s neoconservative allies in the administration of President George W. Bush thought Chalabi would sweep into power like an Iraqi Charles de Gaulle. But the Bush administration never put him in charge of Iraq. And as the extent of his ties to Iran became clear, many of his American allies divorced themselves from him.

Chalabi, like others, has been maneuvering to topple Maliki for years, though he hasn’t ever managed to come close in elections. If Chalabi has a chance now, the reason has little to do with him or democracy in Iraq. It’s about Maliki.
In April, Maliki’s political party won a large plurality, which would give the prime minister a third term in office. But Maliki is despised by Sunnis, Kurds, and even many of his fellow Shiites. And the recent invasion, led by the Islamist group ISIS but joined by other Sunni factions, has undercut his main appeal. As a former American official put it, “Maliki ran on a security platform, and the security platform has blown up in Mosul,” a city seized by Sunni militants.

To become prime minister, Chalabi would have to win a vote in the Iraqi parliament, which is divided largely along tribal, ethnic, and religious lines.
It will be a challenge for Chalabi to persuade Sunni factions that he can ease their frustrations. After all, he was the inventor of “de-Baathification.” Patterned on “de-Nazification,” this was a process used after the American invasion to keep Sunnis, out of government. Not only did Chalabi invent the word, but he was the man put in charge of the process.
Now, Chalabi is reportedly ready to disavow de-Baathification...

Allawi: US policy toward Iraq 'without a compass'
Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Al-Monitor, 26-6-2014

BAGHDAD — Ayad Allawi, the former Iraqi prime minister and leader of the Iraqi Nationalist ("Wataniya") Party, blamed the Iraqi government for policies that have allowed it to be "defeated by a bunch of dwarfs and killers as it sought outsiders’ help," instead of drawing on the "strength from its honorable people, from the tribes, army officers, dignitaries and politicians."
Allawi, in an interview with Al-Monitor said that protests in Anbar province "have been met with repression and intimidation instead of [the government] adopting some of their demands by dealing with them morally and through a national dialogue." He described the protests as "initially peaceful, constitutional."
Allawi said, "The valiant Iraqi army has nothing to fight for. This brave army has lost its identity and its role. It doesn’t know whether it is fighting for the country or fighting for the sect or for the person or for the party."

Al-Monitor: You suggested a road map to resolve the current crisis. What is this map?
Allawi: The essence of the goals are an inclusive political process without discrimination, quotas, exclusion or elimination — except for terrorists and those who steal public money; then achieving national reconciliation immediately; then building the institutions of a state that is professional and able to perform its duties away from regionalism, starting with internal security, the armed forces and the judiciary and its institutions.
The mechanisms are about the leaders coming together and agreeing on forming a national unity government...
The basis of the solution is only political. When the political climate changes into a unified climate for society without discrimination, exclusion or intimidation, then this climate will repel terrorism...

Al-Monitor: Honestly speaking, do you think that Iraq is heading to partition? If this was a genuine possibility, who exactly is pushing for partition today?
Allawi: Frankly, Iraq has been socially partitioned, and administratively, in some of its areas. It seems to me that the conspiracy has continued and deepened. … Those pushing for partition are those who Lebanonized Iraq (by having quotas) and then Syrianized Iraq (through militias and terrorism).

Al-Monitor: Who do you think is the political figure that can lead (the country out of the) the crisis?
Allawi: Any figure who is committed to the road map and who is part of a working team and in full partnership. If we want to save the country, “going it alone,” as is now the case, should be completely eliminated.

Al-Monitor: According to your information, how do you describe the collapse of the Iraqi army in Mosul and other cities? Do you think this army can recover? What do think of the recent proliferation of militias?
Allawi: The valiant Iraqi army has nothing to fight for. This brave army has lost its identity and its role... Is it a tool in the internal conflict or a tool to protect the homeland? In my humble opinion, this is why the army was reluctant or failed to fight.

A person's dignity, honor and reputation are primary, to be protected at all costs.
Honor (or shame) is collective, pertaining to the entire family or group.
All behavior must create a good impression on others.
Loyalty to family takes precedence over personal needs and desires.

Arabs are generous, humanitarian, polite, and loyal.
Arabs are a clearly defined cultural group and perceive themselves as members of the Arab Nation.
Arabs have been victimized and exploited by the West.
Indiscriminate imitation of Western culture will have a corrupting influence on Arab society...
Arabs are misunderstood and wrongly characterized. Many Westerners do not distinguish between Arabs and Muslims. (

Iraqi PM Maliki facing rival Shi’ite bids for premiership
Asharq Al-Awsat, 28-6-2014

Baghdad—The Shi’ite-led Iraqi National Alliance has put forward two alternative candidates to embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, who is seeking to secure a controversial third term in office. Maliki’s State of Law coalition, which won the greatest number of seats in April’s elections, is a prominent member of the Shi’ite electoral coalition, but the Sadrist Movement and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) are refusing to back Maliki as the National Alliance’s candidate.
The National Alliance has put forward Adel Abdul Mahdi and Ahmed Chalabi as candidates for the post [of prime minister],” Sadrist Al-Ahrar bloc spokesman Jawad Al-Jubouri told Asharq Al-Awsat. “We feel that both [Chalabi and Abdul Mahdi] are accepted by the National Alliance and other political blocs.”
“We recognize how difficult the situation is, but we need to work out a patriotic solution owing to the extremely critical circumstances the country is going through,” Jubouri said.

Adel Abdul Mahdi served as Iraqi Vice President between 2005–2011 and is a member of ISCI, led by Ammar Al-Hakim. While Ahmed Chalabi is a controversial figure within Iraqi politics, particularly over his role in the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. He served as interim Oil Minister in 2005 and led the de-Ba’athification campaign following the toppling of the Saddam Hussein regime.

A world void of any wisdom - Iraqis are hostages
By Ahmad Hussein, Ahmad Wadi - April 26, 2013

Previous Vice-President Adel Abdul Mahdi considered on April 25 (2013), that the Iraqi Government “has failed” on the level of politics, security and services. He qualified the different categories of citizens as “hostages” to violence, vengeance and hatred as a result to this failure.
“We all have become hostages, required to be wise in a world void of any wisdom. The Sunnis are hostages; they cannot support the policies of authorities that weaken them in their regions and threaten them in other regions. The Shias are also hostages. They stand helpless before daily killings and menacing threats while they find themselves unable to discuss failing policies related to their security, politics and services..."
“Fighting terrorism can be done by winning over and protecting Shias, Sunnis and all the people”, he added. “Some invest in the same tactics adopted by terroristic groups to mobilize their followers, but this only resulted in turning us all into hostages to terrorism, angriness and chaos, for which we pay twice: once when we commit them and once when we back out”, he noted.

Abdul Mahdi advised that “we should stand up to terrorism through unified national mobilization and through a firm political, economic, administrative, social and regional line; not only through security measures”.
“When blood is shed, we all become hostages of violence, vengeance and hatred”, he carried on to say, warning that “the country is at grave risk..."

We should fight criminals, not Baathists

Of course we worry about Shiite Baathists and Sunni Baathists and Kurdish Baathists. There were thousands of Kurdish Baathists. Of course, that was a party that dominated Iraq, all its parts, all its institutions - it had Kurds, Shiite, Sunnis, so it’s not against Sunnis. It will be a big mistake if we have policies against Sunnis. More than that we will commit a big mistake if we consider any Baathists an enemy. That’s why in the constitution we specify ‘Saddam loyalists’ and in the constitution there is an article that having been a Baathist is not a crime. …
So maybe people can go to extremes but as leadership we should continue the good line, the correct line and not to go and fight any Baathist or Sunni or Shiite or Kurds. We should fight criminals where they are Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, Islamists, secularists, Baathists, whatever they are. (Christian Science Monitor,16-9-2009)

Relations with Arabs are a duty.

For Iraq, the relations with Arabs are not a luxury. In fact they are a duty. Iraq would not deserve the name if it gave up its Arabism. It should maintain its Arabism not only because it belongs to the Arab world but because Arabism provides this country with the elements of life, power and survival as well.
From there, Iraq should also be aware of this role, defend it and remove any obstacles, whether real or false, that may hinder its progress. This is in the best interest of both Iraq and the Arab world. (Majalla 25-5-2009)

Arabism is the universal identity of all Arabs

Arabism is the universal identity of all Arabs — Muslims, Christians, Copts, and those of other religions.
The return to Egypt of Nasserite discourse (of President Gamal Abdel Nasser) is an expression of the Arab nation’s spirit and the Arab peoples’ goal of ridding themselves of foreign domination, confronting Israeli occupation, and rebuilding their economies on a sound footing to preserve the Arab peoples’ dignity and reject the humiliation imposed by foreign financial institutions.
The facts have revealed that Islamist organizations consider their true enemy to be Arabism, which is the universal identity of the Arab peoples and represents their aspirations to freedom, progress and unity. (Talal Salman, As-Safir Newspaper 3-7-2013)

"We should always know that Arabism is an identity not a membership. Arabism is an identity given by history not a certificate given by an organization. Arabism is an honor that characterizes Arab peoples not a stigma carried by some pseudo-Arabs on the Arab or world political stage. ...
The last thing in Arabism is race. Arabism is a question of civilization, a question of common interests, common will and common religions. It is about the things which bring about all the different nationalities which live in this place. The strength of this Arabism lies in its diversity not in its isolation and not in its one colordness...
Arabism has been accused for decades of chauvinism. This is not true. If there are chauvinistic individuals, this doesn’t mean that Arabism is chauvinistic. It is a condition of civilization. (Bashar al-Assad's speech, Uruknet, 10-1-2012)

Russian Jets and Experts Sent to Iraq to Aid Army
By Rod Nordland, New York Times, june 29, 2014

BAGHDAD — Iraqi government officials said Sunday that Russian experts had arrived in Iraq to help the army get 12 Russian warplanes into the fight against Sunni extremists, while the extremists declared their leader the caliph, or absolute ruler, of all jihadi organizations worldwide.

“In the coming three or four days the aircraft will be in service to support our forces in the fight” against the insurgents of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, said Gen. Anwar Hama Ameen, the commander of the Iraqi Air Force, referring to five SU-25 aircraft that were flown into Iraq aboard Russian cargo planes Saturday night, and two more expected later Sunday.
General Ameen said they would soon see action again. “We have pilots who have long experience in this plane and of course we have the help of the Russian friends and the experts who came with these aircraft to prepare them,” he said. “This will produce a very strong punishment against the terrorists in the coming days.”

Iraqi news media called the arrival of the Russian equipment a warning to the Obama administration over its reluctance to grant an Iraqi government request to begin air strikes against the insurgents. Iraq has virtually no air force and until the arrival of the Russian planes, no jet fighter aircraft in the country.
The quick Russian delivery also underscores the complexity of the Iraqi developments, where the United States finds itself allied with Russia and Iran fighting to preserve Iraq’s central government even as the three countries are on the opposite side of the civil war in Syria, where ISIS is also fighting to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Iran and Iraq have also discussed returning as many as 20 aircraft that Saddam’s regime flew to Iran for safety before the 1991 Gulf War with the United States and other allies after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Iran later refused to return the outdated jet fighters, claiming they were reparations for Iraq’s aggression in the 1980 to 1989 Iran-Iraq war. ( 29-6-2014)

Also on Sunday, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria released a 34-minute audio recording of a speech by its official spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, who said that the insurgency’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was now the world’s caliph and as such had declared all other jihadi organizations void and under his direct control, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremists’ online presence. The audio speech was released on an ISIS-linked Twitter feed, the group said.
ISIS’ bombastic announcement of its hegemony over the world’s Islamic extremists was little more than a propaganda ploy, but it was indicative of its growing ambitions.
A caliphate is a Muslim empire that in theory encompasses all Muslims worldwide, and is a term used to describe empires like that of the Ottomans in Turkey in the 15th to 20th centuries, as well as those that did rule much of the civilized world in the early days of Islam.

ISIS jihadists declare ‘Islamic caliphate’
Al Arabiya News, Sunday, 29 June 2014

In an audio recording distributed online, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) declared its chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “the caliph” and “leader for Muslims everywhere.”
"The Shura [council] of the Islamic State met and discussed this issue [of the caliphate] ... The Islamic State decided to establish an Islamic caliphate and to designate a caliph for the state of the Muslims," said ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani. "The jihadist cleric Baghdadi was designated the caliph of the Muslims," said Adnani. Baghdadi "has accepted this allegiance and has thus become the leader for Muslims everywhere."
"The words 'Iraq' and 'the Levant' have been removed from the name of the Islamic State in official papers and documents," Adnani said, describing the caliphate as "the dream in all the Muslims’ hearts" and "the hope of all jihadists."

A caliph is someone claiming authority over Muslims, and the area ruled by a caliph is called a caliphate. The word caliph comes from the Arabic "khalifa," which means a successor. The first caliphs were the heirs to Muhammad, the founder of Islam. The caliphs were not prophets with theological authority, but they were heirs to Muhammad's political authority and shaped Islam in many ways.
At the beginning, the caliphate was an important religious office as Muslims tried to continue to follow the "straight path," or sharia, after the death of Muhammad. The caliph had religious credibility because he was elected by the faithful, and his precedents would prove critical to the future of Islam. This changed with the emergence of political dynasties, when the office of the caliphate was more about power than piety.
The caliphate ended with the Ottoman loss in WWI, and much of the Ottoman Empire was divided among the French and British. (Michael Brenner)

Pan-Islamism versus Pan-Arabism
Christian Porth, Al-Jazeera, 4-2-2008

As the Ottoman Empire began to lose its hold on the Middle East to European powers, the concept of Arab unity was resurrected by two competing ideologies: Pan-Arabism and pan-Islamism.

Pan-Arabism appeared most publicly during the struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1916-1918. Sheriff Hussein ibn Ali of Mecca, who with British support rose up against Ankara, was the first to advocate a framework of pan-Arabism with his desire for a united Arab state spanning from Aleppo to Aden.
At the beginning of the 20th century, pan-Arabism came to permeate much of the Arab world with the goals of unity of the Arab peoples and fight against colonialism.
George Antonius's 1938 work The Arab Awakening argues that the earliest manifestations of this ideology were predominantly the work of Lebanese and Syrian intellectuals. Michel Aflaq and Salah ad-Din al-Bitar, the former a prominent Syrian intellectual and the latter a Syrian politician, were two of the foremost pan-Arabists of the early 20th century.
In the 1940's Aflaq and al-Bitar founded the Baath or 'renaissance' party which represented the pinnacle of intellectual triumph for the pan-Arab movement.
Because the Baath movement was secular in nature, Aflaq paid lip service to Islam but in actuality relegated it to a historical force without a contemporary role.

In stark contrast to calls for pan-Arabism through greater Westernisation, modernisation and secularisation, pan-Islamism arose almost concurrently as an alternative to those concerned by the increasingly secular language and nature of pan-Arab discourse.
A young graduate of Dar al-Ulum University in Cairo, Hassan al-Banna, took it upon himself to promote a return to traditional Islamic principles among the children and adults he taught. He believed that Islam had lost its social relevance because of the twin corroding effects of Westernisation and secularism and felt that the Islamic scholars at Al-Azhar University had failed to oppose the marginalisation of Islam within Egyptian society.
Al-Banna decided that the only appropriate response was to organise and in March, 1928, along with six employees of the Suez Canal Company, he founded the Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian city of Ismailia.
Originally founded to promote an Islamic revival, the Muslim Brotherhood quickly became a political force - first in Egypt and then throughout much of the Middle East.

Who is responsible for the catastrophes in the Middle East?
Bill van Auken, World Socialist Website, 30 June 2014

“The United States of America is not responsible for what happened in Libya, nor is it responsible for what is happening in Iraq today,” Secretary of State John Kerry declared at a Cairo news conference held in the midst of his recent crisis tour of the Middle East...
Kerry’s statement merely made official the steady drumbeat from the political establishment and the media since the situation in Iraq turned into a complete debacle: “The US bears no responsibility.”

What are the crimes for which Kerry and so many others in the ruling establishment insist Washington bears no responsibility?
The description that they used for their own actions at the time was “shock and awe,” the unleashing of colossal destructive force upon a society already shattered by a decade of sadistic US sanctions. Killing hundreds of thousands of people and turning millions into refugees, the US war and occupation destroyed every institution of Iraqi society, while Washington deliberately fomented sectarian divisions as a means of overcoming Iraqi nationalism. The country’s deposed ruler, Saddam Hussein, was tried by a drumhead court and unceremoniously executed....
In Libya and now in Syria, the Obama administration abandoned the “war on terrorism” pretext for an equally cynical and fraudulent justification for regime-change: “human rights.” In Libya, the US and NATO heavily bombed the country while organizing and arming Islamist-led militias in a sectarian war that destroyed all of the existing governmental and social structures. As in Iraq, it ended its war with the brutal murder of the country’s secular leader, Muammar Gaddafi.
Washington is carrying out a similar war for regime-change in Syria, backing Sunni Islamist and sectarian militias that are led by ISIS, the same force that has overrun much of Iraq. The US hopes to end this war with the assassination of a third secular Arab head of state, Bashar al-Assad.

Flashback: The devils game
Robert Dreyfuss 2005

For half a century the United States and many of its allies saw what I call the “Islamic right” as convenient partners in the Cold War.
In the decades before 9/11, hard-core activists and organizations among Muslim fundamentalists on the far right were often viewed as allies for two reasons, because they were seen a fierce anti-communists and because they opposed secular nationalists such as Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, Iran’s Mohammed Mossadegh.

By the end of the 1950s, rather than allying itself with the secular forces of progress in the Middle East and the Arab world, the United States found itself in league with Saudi Arabia’s Islamist legions.
Choosing Saudi Arabia over Nasser’s Egypt was probably the single biggest mistake the United States has ever made in the Middle East.

A second big mistake … occurred in the 1970s, when, at the height of the Cold War and the struggle for control of the Middle East, the United States either supported or acquiesced in the rapid growth of Islamic right in countries from Egypt to Afghanistan. In Egypt, Anwar Sadat brought the Muslim Brotherhood back to Egypt. In Syria, the United States, Israel, and Jordan supported the Muslim Brotherhood in a civil war against Syria. And … Israel quietly backed Ahmed Yassin and the Muslim Brotherhood in the West Bank and Gaza, leading to the establishment of Hamas.

Still another major mistake was the fantasy that Islam would penetrate the USSR and unravel the Soviet Union in Asia. It led to America’s support for the jihadists in Afghanistan.... The Afghan jihad spawned civil war in Afghanistan in the late 1980s, gave rise to the Taliban, and got Osama bin Laden started on building Al Qaeda.

Would the Islamic right have existed without U.S. support? Of course. ... But there is no question that the virulence of the movement that we now confront — and which confronts many of the countries in the region, too, from Algeria to India and beyond—would have been significantly less had the United States made other choices...

Iraqi tribal leaders warn of ISIL's treachery
By Mohammed al-Qaisi, Al-Shorfa, 30-6-2014

Iraqi tribal chiefs are warning Iraq's Sunni tribes not to trust the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL). The group, which employs tactics used by terrorists, prefers to operate alone, they said, pointing to the way it has turned on its own allies in neighbouring Syria.

Through its attack on Iraq, ISIL is trying to repeat a pattern it has employed in Syria, Anbar Tribal Council head Sheikh Rafi al-Fahdawi told Mawtani. The group seeks to capture key Iraqi cities then kill tribal and religious leaders and any other armed group that will not subscribe to its rules, he said.
"ISIL is a treacherous organisation which is now trying to impose its control and make inroads" by adopting a series of steps and behaviour patterns, al-Fahdawi said. These are designed to establish control by giving people the impression the group has principles, morals and noble goals so they will co-operate with it, he said, adding that ISIL elements later come back to eliminate local leaders in order to have monopoly of power. "This must become known by all citizens," he added.

"ISIL deceived the people when it distributed a printed statement saying it would not harm members of the Sahwa or the police," Sheikh Ibrahim al-Hassan said. "The people considered this a gesture of goodwill, but a few days later [ISIL] came around to kill them in their homes." "ISIL is not trustworthy, and it is not possible to deal or co-operate with it," he said.
Sheikh Majeed al-Mohammadi, a tribal leader in Fallujah, said some of the city's tribes have fallen into ISIL's trap. Al-Mohammadi cautioned tribes in other cities not to trust ISIL or collaborate with its members...
"ISIL has a bleak history in Syria from which one can deduce lessons," Sheikh Abdullah al-Dulaimi, imam and preacher at the Huteen Mosque in Ramadi, told Mawtani.
Iraqi tribesmen should be wary of ISIL's schemes, he added, stressing the need to support the Iraqi army as that would bolster the tribes' security, dignity and the survival of their families.

We will stand by Isis until Maliki steps down,
says leader of Iraq's biggest tribe
The Telegrapph, 29-6-2014

The leader of Iraq’s biggest tribe has refused to break his military alliance with the Islamist extremist group, Isis, saying he will march a hundred thousand men on Baghdad if Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, does not step down.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Ali Hatem Suleimani distanced himself from Isis’s sectarian massacres but rejected demands that he break with the group and help form a united Sunni-Shia government.
“We can fight Isis and al-Qaeda whenever we want to,” he said. “But now we are fighting for our lands and our tribes. We are not responsible for Isis. Look what has Maliki has done – look at the two million refugees. He has destroyed and killed – and where was the world then?”
Mr Suleimani was speaking in Erbil, capital of Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region, where he and a raft of other Sunni tribal leaders who have joined forces with Isis have been given sanctuary despite being wanted by the Iraqi government.
The Kurds are hoping the tribes will form the nucleus of a deal between the Sunnis and a new Iraqi prime minister, should Mr Maliki step down. He is currently under pressure to do both from factions within his country and from one-time allies like the United States.

Mr Suleimani, whose extended family runs to some three million people, is one of a number of senior tribal leaders in Iraq who wield vast political and military clout. Many command private armies of followers, for whom loyalty to the tribe generally trumps loyalty to central government, and even the late Saddam Hussein generally found it easier to court them rather than confront them.
He said there was still a chance to forge a reunited Iraq, with more autonomy for the Sunni tribal areas, but only if a new constitution were written and a government formed without Mr Maliki. “We demonstrated peacefully for our rights,” he said. “Mr Maliki said, 'these are not Iraqis, these are terrorists’ and he used that pretext to attack Sunni Arabs. We are only defending ourselves.”

Isn’t it time for Arabs to unite?
Linda S. Heard, Arab News (Saudi Arabia), 1-7-2014

On June 22, in reference to the crisis in Iraq, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “When your enemies are fighting each other, don’t strengthen either one of them - weaken both.”
"Every Arab conflict is in Israel’s interest", was expressed by Oded Yinon, an Israeli journalist attached to the Foreign Ministry, in a 1982 paper titled “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen-Eighties”.
Splitting-up the Arab world into bite-sized toothless entities is a staple of neoconservative philosophy. One of the blueprints for rearranging the territorial deckchairs was a document titled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” drawn-up in 1996, by three of George W. Bush’s neocon national security advisers, was designed to benefit Israel’s existential concerns. It advises Israel of the need to destabilize the region so as to “shape its strategic environment” by bringing down Saddam and rolling back Syria....

Bernard-Henri Levy would not have gone to Libya
had “he not been Jewish”, 24-11-2011

French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy said that “it is as a Jew“ that he “participated in the political adventure in Libya,” in the first National Convention organized by the Representative Council of Jewish Organizations of France (CRIF).
“I would not have done if I had not been Jewish,” said the philosopher, before an audience of nearly 900 people, meeting in Paris, adding: “I wore my flag in fidelity to my name and my loyalty to Zionism and Israel.“
Invited to speak on this subject, Bernard-Henri Levy, who published a book its action in Libya, explained the reasons which led to eight months ago to engage in the fight against the regime of Colonel Gaddafi, who was killed Oct. 20 last by the rebels near the NTC.
“I find it sometimes come to be proud to be French “ ”What I did during those few months, I’ve done for many reasons. First as French...“
“I did it for reasons even more important” , he said: “the belief in the universality of human rights (…). I am among those who have always been tempted to stand in support of victims.”
“There is another reason which little has been said, but on which I have yet many extended: that public, which has never let go is that I was Jewish..."
”I would not have done if I had not been Jewish,“ he said. “Like all Jews of the world, I was worried”
”What I have done all these months, I did as a Jew. And like all Jews of the world, I was worried . Despite the legitimate anxiety is an uprising to be welcomed with favor, we were dealing with one of the worst enemies of Israel. “ (Page 17, 2012)

Those of us, who naively imagined the neoconservatives were hiding somewhere burying their heads in shame at their failed ideology, were wrong. They’re back, doing the media rounds and being listened to as though they have a panacea for the violence crippling the Middle East....

It’s beyond time for Arab leaderships to put aside their differences and adopt a common stance to rid the area of the terrorist scourge, which some commentators believe has been deliberately injected to foster instability. Egypt’s new President Abdel Fatah El-Sissi is doing just that. He’s recently been engaged in mending fences with neighbors Algeria and Sudan and has pledged that the Egyptian military will defend Saudi Arabia and Gulf states if called upon to do so. These seeds of unity should be built-upon by all Arab states before the Arab world becomes a mere footnote in tomorrow’s history books.

Why are we joining a jihad to overthrow the Syrian government?
By Patrick J. Buchanan, July 02, 2014

Barack Obama has asked Congress for $500 million to train and arm rebels of the Free Syrian Army who seek to overthrow the government.
Before Congress takes up his proposal, both houses should demand that Obama explain exactly where he gets the constitutional authority to plunge us into what the president himself calls “somebody else’s civil war.” Syria has not attacked us. Syria does not threaten us. Why are we joining a jihad to overthrow the Syrian government?
President Bashar Assad is fighting against the al Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front and the even more extreme and vicious Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
In training and arming the FSA, we are enlisting in a cause where our foremost fighting allies are Islamists, like those who brought down the twin towers, and a Sunni terrorist army that seeks to bring down the government we left behind in Baghdad. What are we doing?
Assad is no angel. But before this uprising Congressmen and secretaries of state regularly visited him in Damascus. “There’s a different leader in Syria now,” cooed Hillary in 2011, “Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.”

Assad, no matter his sins, is the defender of the Christian and Shia minorities in Syria. He has been the most successful Arab ruler in waging war against the terrorist brigades of ISIS and al-Qaida.
Why, then, are we training Syrians to attack his army and arming people to topple his government? Have we not before us, in Libya, an example of what happens when we bring down an autocrat like Gadhafi, and even worse devils are unleashed?
While Assad has battled al-Qaida and ISIS for three years, our NATO ally Turkey has looked the other way as jihadists crossed over into Syria. Our Gulf allies have provided jihadists battling Assad with arms and money.
This weekend ISIS declared a caliphate, the Islamic State, over all lands in Syria and Iraq it now controls. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS war chief, has been declared the new caliph. “The Caliphate Rises,” wails the Wall Street Journal. But who midwifed and breast-fed the ISIS movement that has now proclaimed the new caliphate? Was it not our Turkish and Arab friends?

Congress should block the $500 million for Obama’s wars and tell him his days as imperial president are over.

Al-Zoubi: "We are defending the state, history and existence"
Syrian Arab News Agency, Jul 01, 2013

Information Minister, Omran al-Zoubi, reiterated that the political leadership in Syria is still committed to the political solution which it has called for since the beginning of the crisis in Syria.
"The leadership also believes that the national dialogue is the essence of the political solution," Al-Zoubi said in his speech at the 50th nniversary of establishing al-Thawra newspaper. "The national dialogue among the Syrians has no place for any Saudi, Gulf, Turkish, Lebanese, Jordanian or non-Syrian figures," the Minister added.
He confirmed that " whoever talks in a sectarian or ethnic language at any time with the aim of differentiation or structural independence or for the dissemination of his culture, betrays Syria and the homeland..."

"It is crystal-clear that the ability of the Muslim Brotherhood to present an example for managing the authority and running the state has failed forever," he said, pointing out that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt [..] offered the worst example of their experience in leading a country. Minister al-Zoubi pointed out that the Muslim Brotherhood is distinguished by exceptional ability to devastate the national unity, which was their first victim in Egypt.
Al-Zoubi said that ''The Muslim Brotherhood has long claimed that it hasn't had the chance to be at the helm of power…Well they've had this opportunity for more than 13 years in Turkey and one year in Egypt…they wreaked havoc to what has been built over 50 years ago.''
''Following Syria's experience with the Muslim Brotherhood, we came to realize their ability to dash the national unity example and inability to live with it, whether on the intellectual level or through political practice.'' ...

''When we speak of reconciliation, dialogue and tolerance, we mean all Syrian citizens without exception, but when we talk about national, progressive and leftist powers, this does not include the backward and reactionist powers.''
''We are not defending the regime in the narrow sense that the others are using…We are not defending persons or parties, but we are defending the state, history and existence, '' he added.

President al-Assad: "What is built on a wrong principle will definitely fall"
Syrian Arab News Agency, Jul 04, 2013

Damascus, (SANA) – President Bashar al-Assad has said that what is happening in Egypt is the fall of so-called "political Islam", adding that those who use religion for political interests or for the interests of one group will fall anywhere in the world.
In an interview given to al-Thawra newspaper, President al-Assad said, "You cannot deceive everyone all the time, particularly the Egyptian people who have a civilization dating back to thousands of years, and clear pan-Arab nationalist thought."
The President added that after a year the image has become clear for the Egyptian people and the performance of the Muslim Brotherhood helped them uncover the lies made by the Brotherhood in the beginning of the popular revolution in Egypt."
President al-Assad said the experiment of the Muslim Brotherhood's rule failed even before it started because this kind of rule is not consistent with the nature of the people and the project of the brotherhood is hypocritical, because it actually aims at creating sedition in the Arab world.
The President stressed that sedition cannot last in societies that possess knowledge, adding "this is why from the beginning I said their project is a failure before it began and this is what made the Muslim Brotherhood's experiment fall quickly because it is wrong, and what is built on a wrong principle will definitely fall."

Collective punishment.
By Susan Abulhawa, ICH, July 02, 2014

Since three Israeli settlers went missing from Gush Etzion, a Jewish-only colony in the West Bank, Israel has besieged the 4 million Palestinians who already live under its thumb, storming through towns, ransacking homes and civil institutions, conducting night raids on families, stealing property, kidnapping, injuring, and killing. Warplanes were dispatched to bomb Gaza, again and repeatedly, destroying more homes and institutions and carrying out extrajudicial executions.
Thus far, over 570 Palestinians have been kidnapped and imprisoned. At least 10 Palestinians have been killed, including at least three children, a pregnant woman, and a mentally ill man. Hundreds have been injured, thousands terrorized. Universities and social welfare organizations were ransacked, shut down, their computers and equipment destroyed or stolen, and both private and public documents confiscated from civil institutions.
This wonton thuggery is official state policy conducted by its military and does not include the violence to persons and properties perpetuated by paramilitary Israeli settlers, whose persistent attacks against Palestinian civilians have also escalated in the past weeks.
And now that the settlers are confirmed dead, Israel has vowed to exact revenge. Naftali Bennet, Economy Minister said, "There is no mercy for the murderers of children. This is the time for action, not words."
Benjamin Netanyahu is adamant that Hamas is responsible. The United Nations requested that Israel provide evidence to support their contention, but no evidence has been forthcoming, casting doubt on Israel’s claims...

It does not matter that no one knows who murdered the Israeli settlers. It seems the entire country is calling for Palestinian blood, reminiscent of American southern lynching rallies that went after black men whenever a white person turned up dead.
Israeli violence of the past few weeks is generally accepted and expected. And the terror we know they will unleash on [the Palestinian] people will be, as it always is, cloaked in the legitimacy of uniforms and technological death machines. Israeli violence, no matter how vulgar, is inevitably couched as a heroic, ironic violence...
Three Israeli Jews were killed. It doesn’t matter who did it or what the circumstances were, the entire Palestinian population will be made to suffer...

Susan Abulhawa (born 1970) is a Palestinian-American writer and human rights activist. She currently lives in Yardley, Pennsylvania.

Benjamin Netanyahu: "United against terrorism"
Arutz Sheva, 2-7-2014

Israeli Defense Forces raided the homes of Amar Abu Aisha and Marwan Qawasmeh in the city of Hebron on Monday evening, June 30th into the morning of July 1st. At approximately 12:00 am, soldiers set up explosives in both homes, detonating them after the families were evacuated. Israeli intelligence has accused both men of allegedly kidnapping the settler teens.
"We are united against terrorism firmly and strongly," said Netanyahu, who had not made any reference to the perpetrators in his public speech at the funeral, opting for a more personal and less political tone.

He went on to describe three missions facing Israel currently.
- The first mission, which falls on the IDF and security forces, is "to reach the murderers and all those who cooperated in the abduction. All those who cooperated in the abduction and murder, their blood is on their own heads. We will not be silent and we will not ease up. We will reach them all, even if it takes time."
- The second mission Netanyahu outlined is a meaningful attack on Hamas's infrastructure in Judea and Samaria, which the IDF is already engaged in as part of Operation Brother's Keeper. "We have already arrested hundreds of Hamas activists, destroyed (Hamas-owned) houses and closed institutions, and our hand is outstretched," stated the prime minister.
- The final mission, he concluded, was the need to act against Hamas in Gaza. "Hamas is directly responsible for the firing of rockets into our territory, including in recent hours," said Netanyahu. "If someone thinks to achieve something through terror against us - he will achieve opposite results. Hamas is responsible, Hamas will pay and continue to pay."

Article 33. No persons may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. Pillage is prohibited. Reprisals against persons and their property are prohibited.

Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, collective punishment is a war crime. By collective punishment, the drafters of the Geneva Conventions had in mind the reprisal killings of World War I and World War II. In the First World War, during the Rape of Belgium, the Germans executed Belgian villagers in mass retribution for resistance activity. In World War II, the Germans carried out a form of collective punishment to suppress resistance. Entire villages or towns or districts were held responsible for any resistance activity that occurred in them. The conventions, to counter this, reiterated the principle of individual responsibility.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Commentary to the conventions states that parties to a conflict often would resort to "intimidatory measures to terrorize the population" in hopes of preventing hostile acts, but such practices "strike at guilty and innocent alike. They are opposed to all principles based on humanity and justice."

Amnesty International:
Justice will not be served by Israel seeking revenge
Press TV, 02 July 2014

Amnesty International has lashed out at Israel for its aggression against Palestinians over the case of three Israeli settlers.
The rights group said on Tuesday that Tel Aviv’s ongoing operations against Palestinians in the West Bank are in blatant violation of international humanitarian law.
“Nothing can justify these abductions and murders, which we condemn again. Those responsible must be brought to justice,” said Philip Luther, the Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.
Luther said that the Israeli authorities won’t be able to bring to justice those responsible for the murder of the three settlers through the collective punishment of Palestinians.
“Justice will not be served by Israel seeking revenge by imposing collective punishment, or committing other violations of Palestinians’ rights. Rather, the Israeli authorities must conduct a full, thorough and impartial investigation that leads to the prosecution of those suspected of being responsible in fair trials”, he added.

Iraq Vets Ask: Was It Worth It?
By Kelley Vlahos, The American Conservative, June 27, 2014

American veterans are watching the unfolding disintegration of Iraq less than three years after the U.S. military withdrawal, and are facing the news with complex turns of trepidation, anger and sorrow.

- “I spent ten months in Mosul and when I heard on BBC that it fell, I thought well, that just sucked”, said Jason Hansman, an Army reservist who served in a civil affairs battalion attached to the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division in 2004. “I was hoping to make it a better place,” he told TAC.
- “You serve with some really great people over there—most guys and gals did their best, and they did have individual noble intentions, but the problem is it was war, and war is complete madness, it is a breeding ground of unintended consequences,” said Matthew Hoh, a former Marine Corps captain who commanded a combat engineer company in Tikrit and Anbar—two places now overrun by ISIS—from 2006 to 2007.
“It’s hard to square that, then, when you and everyone was doing their best. You were trying to go in there and treat the Iraqis you met with the utmost respect. But it did not matter, when your individual actions were meaningless to what was going on there,” he told TAC. “The fact that we were there picking winners and losers in someone else’s country it unleashed elements out of our control.”
- ”I have mixed feelings,” said Issac Macias of Chicago, who was 21 when he was deployed to Iraq, in the Chicago Tribune. “Everything we did, all the man-hours we put in. It goes down the drain in a couple of days.” “We are a big country, and I felt like it was a humanitarian mission to stop a tyrant, Saddam Hussein, from killing people with chemicals and torturing...”
- Military writer Alex Horton, who served in Iraq in 2006 with the Third Stryker Brigade, Second Infantry Division, has some advice for his fellow veterans wrestling with their feelings right now:
Iraq veterans should not beat themselves up by attaching their ideas of sacrifice to that broken government we left behind. We did what was asked of us. The American public and its Congress allowed the war to happen, and it was the US military’s job to help Maliki create the security necessary to establish a functional government. The march of Isis to Baghdad shows how spectacularly they have failed.

Captain Hoh is obviously averse to reengagement in Iraq. "I can’t imagine anyone in my family serving in a system so broken,” he said. “We just shake our heads and say this is unbelievable, that history really does repeat itself.”

US Sends Green Berets to Northern Iraq Jul 03, 2014 | by Richard Sisk

Special Forces advisors have set up an operations center in northern Iraq as part of the expanding U.S. political and military effort to keep Iraq from splintering against attacks by Islamic extremists, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday.
In recent days, a small team of advisors opened up a Joint Operations Center (JOC) in Irbil, capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government, Hagel said at a Pentagon briefing with Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Irbil mission will complement the JOC already in operation in Baghdad in assessing the capability and will of the Iraqi national security forces to combat militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant who have swept across large swaths of western and northern Iraq against little opposition.

President Obama has authorized 300 troops for the advisory mission and about 200 are now on the ground, Hagel said. "None will perform combat missions," he said.
About 550 additional troops have the separate mission of protecting the U.S. Embassy and U.S. facilities at the Baghdad airport with the goal of "providing our diplomats time and space" to press for the formation of a unity government in Iraq, Hagel said.
The troops at the airport arrived earlier this week with Apache attack helicopters and small surveillance drones to protect U.S. facilities at the airport should an evacuation be ordered.
Obama, Hagel and Dempsey have repeatedly said that the use of force by the U.S., including airstrikes, would not be considered unless Iraq first made progress on an inclusive government representative of the Shia, Sunni and Kurd communities.
Dempsey also would not rule out military cooperation with Iran to keep Iraq from partitioning into Shia, Sunni and Kurdish regions. Dempsey said Iran already was flying unmanned surveillance drones over Iraq, and there also have been reports that advisors and possibly some combatants from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have arrived in Iraq in support of the Shia government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
"We're not cooperating with Iran now," Dempsey said. "It's not impossible that in the future we would have reason to do so."

The number of ISIL fighters has been estimated at 10,000 at most, and yet the Iraqi forces melted away at their advance as troops threw away weapons and discarded uniforms.
Mistrust of the central government was likely a factor in the failure of the Iraqi forces, Dempsey said. "They didn't collapse in the face of a fight," Dempsey said. "They collapsed in the face of a future that didn't hold out any hope for them."
The U.S. has moved the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush into the Persian Gulf, and has numerous other air assets in the region, but Dempsey stressed that there had been no decisions as yet on the feasibility of airstrikes against ISIL.
"We may get to that point," Dempsey said of airstrikes. "I'm suggesting to you that we're not there yet." If airstrikes were ordered, "that's going to be a tough challenge" because of the intermingling of ISIL fighters with Sunni tribes that have supported them, Dempsey said.
U.S. pilots probably would attempt not to hit the tribal fighters to send the message that a unified Iraq was in their best interests, Dempsey said. "It matters for the future of Iraq," he said.

Flashback: Dempsey Backs Away from Obama’s Threat
to Intervene in Syria, by John Glaser, 30-8-2012

Martin Dempsey 17-2-2012
The top general of America’s military on Thursday backed away from President Obama’s threats to intervene militarily in Syria...

Chairman of the Joint Chief’s of Staff General Martin Dempsey stressed while on a trip to London that direct military action in Syria, even simply no-fly zones, might be beyond the US and NATO’s capabilities and counter to their interests....
He said frequent comparison of the Syrian situation with that in Libya, where a “no-fly zone” was imposed following a United Nations resolution, is at best a source of “amusement.”

As far as forcibly ousting the Assad regime, Dempsey said, such a move would be far too destabilizing. He said a failed state in Syria would be the worst-case scenario and warned against allowing armed extreme jihadists and rebels with ties to al-Qaeda to increase their influence...

Frank Sinatra
General Martin E. Dempsey, USA (born March 14, 1952) is the 18th and current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dempsey is currently the highest ranking military officer in all of the United States Armed Forces.

Dempsey attended John S. Burke Catholic High School in Goshen, New York, and views himself as Irish American. He has a Master's degree in literature from Duke University, where he wrote a thesis on the Irish poet W B Yeats. He received a commission as an Armor officer upon graduation from the United States Military Academy in 1974. Fan of the New York Yankees and Frank Sinatra.

Once you attempt legislation upon religious grounds,
you open the way for every kind of intolerance and religious persecution.
William Butler Yeats

President Al-Assad: the Warrior against Terrorism
Dr. Mohammad Abdo Al-Ibrahim, Syria Times, 04 July 2014

Terrorism has never been a Syrian Phenomenon...
Syria has faced and defeated a frenzy terrorist phenomenon by Moslem Brotherhood gangs by the end of the seventies and beginning of the eighties of the last century. Actually some of those who supported such a frenzy phenomenon are themselves the same now who support the ongoing terrorism against Syrians...
Syria, a secular country under the only secular leadership in this part of the world, once more has been the target of terrorism. This very terrorism under many forms: occupation, threats, sanctions, derailed the ambitious plans of reforms and modernization...
Here comes the historic role and leadership of the Syrian Army and its Supreme Commander, President Bashar Hafez Al-Assad.

On the issue of terrorism, President Assad renewed condemnation of terrorism saying that all Arab countries condemned what happened on September 11, out of many motivations "the moral one, we as Arabs, with all our religions, reject terrorism'', secondly for '' human motivations, '' we are the largest people in the world who can feel what it means when a certain people are exposed to terrorism, ''We have been exposed to terrorism with the form presented now, and to the Israeli form of terrorism,'' and to terrorism through its meaning of occupation, oppression and killing throughout history. "Arabs have always been against terrorism, and are the first to combat terrorism,''

Bashar Assad: “The terrorist person is someone who always wants a cover to take as a pretext for his acts. And therefore the terrorist would always choose the extremist rather than the moderate because it is easier to deceive the extremist than to deceive the moderate.
So, the moderate person will be able to uncover this terrorist person and not fall as his prey. This is the most important factor that enabled Syria to control and end terrorism in the 1980s. The way we were able to overcome terrorism in our country is by giving support and increasing the moderate voices that are traditionally present in the country.
We do not encourage extremism because we think it is far removed from the moderate and real text of Islam. Therefore, the conclusion we can arrive at it is that moderation is the enemy of terrorism...
The war against terrorism is an ideological war... And therefore, I have always emphasized the importance of supporting moderation because it is the moderate voices that can combat terrorism....”

Iran envoy offers security assistance to Lebanon
Marlene Khalifeh, As-Safir, 01-07-2014

The new Iranian ambassador in Lebanon, Mohammad Fathali, renewed, through As-Safir, Iran’s permanent offer to the Lebanese army and all Lebanese security services without exception that his country is willing to provide them with the weapons, equipment and training that is required by technicians and specialists to fight terrorism.
Fathali told As-Safir in his first press interview since coming to Lebanon a month ago, “Since the first moment, we have declared our readiness to cooperate fully with the military at the highest levels and with all Lebanese [security] organs. We have announced this intention to the Lebanese side and we have put no conditions for this cooperation...”
He indicated that “the Islamic Republic of Iran has a long experience in the field of counterterrorism.” He also pointed out that “the fight against terrorism is a collective action. And states must come together in this area. What ISIS and other terrorist organizations in the region are doing not only serves the Zionist entity but also ignites strife and infighting among Muslims.”

The Syrian file

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, 8-5-2013: "What is happening in Syria is a positive element for Israel... [It can mean] Syria's exit from this radical axis, from the axis that doesn't recognize the State of Israel..."
"Iran, Syria and Lebanon do not want any negotiation with Israel since Assad is there..." "Assad is a very negative element in the Middle East and the sooner he is getting out the better."

On how Iran approaches the Syrian file, he said, “This falls under our fixed principles. Syria belongs to the fabric of the resistance. Comparing how former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dealt with Syria and how current President Hassan Rouhani is dealing with this country reveals no differences. Dr. [Ahmadinejad] applied the fixed principles and ideals. And so is Rouhani. Perhaps [different] Iranian presidents see Iran’s internal affairs [differently], but there is complete consensus of views in relation to the principles and foundations of Iranian foreign policy.”

"We have solid principles that any party, regardless of its sect, that confronts the usurping and occupying Zionist enemy will get Iranian support. In the explicit words of the highest Iranian marja [reference], the Zionist entity is a cancerous tumor. And of course there is a humanitarian and Islamic duty to support any party that is trying to confront this tumor.”

Regarding what happened with the dialogue with Saudi Arabia and Iran’s conditions for its success, Fathla said, “We believe that we share ties of respect and good neighborliness, and Saudi Arabia comes in this framework. The contacts are ongoing. And [Iran’s] leaders and officials believe that there should be a comprehensive view for all the countries in the region. Relations with Saudi Arabia are part of this general framework. Our relations with them exist. And we hope that all the countries of the Middle East and of the Persian Gulf can cooperate in a sound way to uproot terrorist organizations like ISIS.

Iranian Lawmaker: US Not Sincere in Fighting Terrorism
FARS News Agency, 5-7-2014

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Iranian legislator underlined that Washington is not sincere in its claims about war on terrorism, specially in the region, and rejected Tehran's cooperation with the US in combat against terrorists in Iraq.
"The Americans on one hand support the terrorists and on the other hand speaks of fighting these terrorists," member of the parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Mohammad Esmayeeli told FNA on Saturday.
The Americans have shown a double-standard behavior towards the terrorists, he said, adding that the US is not sincere in fighting terrorism. He dismissed any cooperation with the US in fighting the terrorist groups in Iraq, and said the Islamic Republic will act upon its interests in Iraq and will help the country's government in combat against the terrorists if demanded by Baghdad.

In relevant remarks on Wednesday, Iran's Judiciary Chief Sadeq Amoli Larijani lashed out at the US and other western states for their double-standard policies on terrorism in and out of Iraq.
"These countries call themselves as advocates of human rights, but they have brought human rights to a slaughterhouse, how can one believe that the Americans are advocates of human rights while they support the terrorists," Amoil Larijani said, addressing high-ranking judiciary officials in Tehran.
Amoli Larijani underlined that the events in the Middle-East indicate that the West doesn’t care for human rights and democracy at all.

Israel does not want just peace
Rejectionism is embedded in Israel's most primal beliefs.
By Gideon Levy, Haaretz, Jul. 4, 2014

Israel does not want peace. There is nothing I have ever written that I would be happier to be proved wrong about. But the evidence is piling up. In fact,it can be said that Israel has never wanted peace – a JUST peace, that is, one based on a just compromise for both sides.
It’s true that the routine greeting in Hebrew is Shalom (peace) – shalom when one leaves and shalom when one arrives. And, at the drop of a hat, almost every Israeli will say he wants peace, of course he does. But he’s not referring to the kind of peace that will bring about the justice without which there is no peace and there will be no peace.
Israelis want peace, not justice, certainly not anything based on universal values.

The single most overwhelming item of evidence of Israel’s rejection of JUST peace is, of course, the settlements project. From the dawn of its existence, there has never been a more reliable or more precise litmus test for Israel’s true intentions than this particular enterprise. In plain words: The builders of settlements want to consolidate the occupation, and those who want to consolidate the occupation do not want peace. That’s the whole story in a nutshell...

But the settlements were only a touchstone of Israel’s intentions. Its rejectionism is embedded far more deeply – in its DNA, its bloodstream, its raison d’être, its most primal beliefs.
There, at the deepest level, lies the concept that this land is destined for the Jews alone. There, at the deepest level, is entrenched the value of “am sgula” – God’s “treasured people” – and “God chose us.”
In practice, this is translated to mean that, in this land, Jews are allowed to do what is forbidden to others. That is the point of departure, and there is no way to get from there to a just peace...

Disconnected from reality, the majority of Israelis pursue their regular way of life. In their mind’s eye the world is always against them, and the areas of occupation on their doorstep are beyond their realm of interest. Anyone who dares criticize the occupation policy is branded an anti-Semite, every act of resistance is perceived as an existential threat.
All international opposition to the occupation is read as the “delegitimizing” of Israel and as a provocation to the country’s very existence. The world’s seven billion people – most of whom are against the occupation – are wrong, and six million Israeli Jews – most of whom support the occupation – are right. That’s the reality in the eyes of the average Israeli...

This, then, is the gloomy picture. It contains not a ray of hope. The change will not happen on its own, from within Israeli society, as long as that society continues to behave as it does. The Palestinians have made more than one mistake, but their mistakes are marginal. Basic justice is on their side, and basic rejectionism is the Israelis’ purview.

Jabotinsky & Zionist morality

Either Zionism is moral and just, or it is immoral and unjust. But that is a question that we should have settled before we became Zionists.
Actually we have settled that question, and in the affirmative.
We hold that Zionism is moral and just. And since it is moral and just, justice must be done, no matter whether Joseph or Simon or Ivan or Achmet agree with it or not.
There is no other morality. (Zeev Jabotinsky, The Iron Wall, 1923)

Ze'ev Jabotinsky will be inscribed in the annals of the history of the Jewish People as a distinguished politician, journalist and philosopher; a visionary and inspirational leader who fought unceasingly and passionately for the establishment of the State of Israel and the return of the Jewish People. The Jabotinsky Institute

"I concede with sorrow that the baseless fanaticism of our people is in part to be blamed for the awakening of Arab distrust." Sigmund Freud, 26-2-1930

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas:
Respect for international law and human rights
Haaretz, 7-7-2014

Twenty-six years have passed since the Palestine Liberation Organization officially endorsed the two-state solution. In a painful and historic decision, Palestine recognized the State of Israel based on pre-1967 territory, conceding over 78 percent of Palestinian land. Rather than seize this opportunity for peace, the current Israeli government has chosen to use the peace process as a smoke screen for more colonization and oppression. We still wish to believe that our Israeli neighbors do not expect the Palestinian people to live under a system of apartheid. The desire of a peace- and freedom-loving nation for independence can’t be eliminated by force.
Palestine’s vision of peace is clear, and grounded firmly in principles of international law. This is because we believe that no just and lasting peace can be achieved without respecting the rights of everyone, including both Palestinians and Israelis. In accordance with these principles, the sovereignty of the states of Palestine and Israel, as bound by the 1967 international border, must be respected; and the rights of Palestinian refugees must be honored in accordance with United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194.

Negotiation serves as a powerful tool for peace, but negotiations must have a stated goal and known parameters. At least in relation to Palestine, the government of Israel does not share the same goals and parameters as the rest of the world. It is time for the world to accept that the policies of the current government of Israel are not consistent with the two-state solution.
Many of our friends remind us of the wise words of late President Kennedy: “We cannot negotiate with those who say, ‘What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable.’” Negotiations will be meaningless as long as Israel continues to entrench its occupation and to change the demography of our country in order to impose new facts on the ground.
We ask that the international community stop hiding behind calls for “resumption of talks,” without holding the Israeli government accountable to its obligations.... The attitude of the international community toward the Israeli government must be related to its respect for international law and human rights.

We hold that Zionism is moral and just. And since it is moral and just, justice must be done... There is no other morality. (Zeev Jabotinsky, The Iron Wall, 1923)

A road to nowhere
Faisal Al Yafai, The National UAE, July 7, 2014

Israel today is a two-tier society, which dispenses justice to some and creates injustice for others, based purely on race and religion. It is a problem created and maintained by politics...
It is a culture that allows racist attacks and open incitement against Palestinians. A legal and political culture that privileges Israeli Jews over Muslims and Christians. A culture that privileges Israeli troops regardless of behaviour; a system that has made extortion a tool of politics...
Writing about this in Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, the journalist Gideon Levy lays the blame squarely on the prime minister. It is Mr Netanyahu, he writes, who has offered nothing but “incitement, scaremongering and supremacy over Arabs”.

The problem goes beyond one prime minister, however. Mr Netanyahu is merely the most successful exponent of a politics that goes back to the rise of the right in the 1990s. In the aftermath of Oslo, Israeli right-wingers recognised that, if they wanted to continue to hold on to Palestinian land, they would need democratic support for such an extreme position.
The narrow nationalism that politicians of the right have expounded since has been deliberately engineered to cultivate extreme positions among Israelis, so that democracy would always put the possibility of peace beyond reach...
It is that sort of narrow nationalism that has come to define Israel’s right-wing. Indeed, it defines Israel’s politics today, because the centre has shifted over the past two decades.

Politicians like Mr Netanyahu are leading Israel down a road to nowhere. Under his leadership, the country that today’s teenagers will inherit is growing darker by the day.

"There must be a cultural revolution in Israel. Its political leaders and military officers must begin raising the next generation, at least, on humanist values, and foster a tolerant public discourse. Without these, the Jewish tribe will not be worthy of its own state." (Haaretz Editorial 7-7-2014)

Benyamin Netanyahu in 1978:
"The stumbling block to the road for peace
is this demand for a PLO state"

A familiar figure features in a YouTube video. It’s a 28-year-old economic consultant whose appearance, expression and political opinions match Likud chief Binyamin Netanyahu’s in every way. The only difference is the name: Ben Nitay.
During a leadership debate with Shimon Peres in the run-up to the 1996 election, Netanyahu was asked whether his application to change his name meant he had wished to stay in America. “Not for a single moment,” Netanyahu replied
The 10-minute clip, filmed in 1978 as part of a local Boston TV debate show called The Advocate, presents the future PM as a “witness” as to whether the United States should support the creation of a Palestinian state.

Asked whether the issue of self-determination is at the heart of the Middle East conflict, Netanyahu (Ben Nitay) replied, “No, I don’t believe it is. The real core of the conflict is the unfortunate Arab refusal to accept the State of Israel… For 20 years the Arabs had both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and if self-determination, as they now say, is the core of the conflict, they could have easily established a Palestinian state, but they didn’t… What we’re talking about here is not the attempt to build the state but to destroy one.
“Nobody wants peace more than Israel,” he said. “But the stumbling block to the road for peace is this demand for a PLO state which will mean more war… more violence in the Middle East, and I sincerely believe that if this demand is abandoned, we can have real and genuine peace.”

After being quizzed by members of the studio audience, Netanyahu concluded: “I think the US should oppose the creation of a Palestinian state, for several reasons, the first being that it is unjust to demand the creation of a 22nd Arab state and a second Palestinian state at the expense of the only Jewish state… I believe we should fight for our survival... (source)

The PLO - founded in 1964 - was considered by the United States and Israel to be a terrorist organization until the Madrid Conference in 1991. In 1993, the PLO recognized Israel's right to exist in peace, accepted UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, and rejected "violence and terrorism.
Hamas was founded in 1987 - during the First Intifada - as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. HAMAS has publicly expressed a willingness to accept a long-term cessation of hostilities if Israel agrees to a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.

Iraqi Sunni tribal rebels advancing on Baghdad, says spokesman
Spokesman for the “Iraqi Tribal Rebels” denies ISIS connection
Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat, 6-7-2014

A leading Sunni tribal chief, Sheik Abu Ali al-Jubbouri says he misses former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who favored his sect. (NPR, 25-6-2014)

Anti-government Iraqi Sunni tribes are marching on Baghdad with the objective of toppling Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and forming a national “salvation” government, a tribal spokesman told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Abu Abed Al-Naimi, spokesman for the “Iraqi Tribal Rebels,” said: “Our aim is to topple Maliki’s government, end Iran’s intervention [in Iraq] and form a salvation government.” “Several sides, including Iraqi military officers in Baghdad, are supporting us and are prepared to join our fighters once we enter the capital,” he added.

Naimi’s comments come after embattled Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki refused to give up his quest for a controversial third term in office.
“I will never give up my candidacy for the post of prime minister. I will remain a soldier, defending the interests of Iraq and its people,” he said in a statement on Friday in response to an earlier offer by Sunni rival Osama Al-Nujaifi to facilitate the establishment of a new government. Nujaifi, leader of the Mutahidoun coalition, had said that he would agree not to seek another term of Speaker of Parliament if Maliki agreed not to seek another term in office.

The Iraqi Tribal Rebels is a shadowy coalition of Iraqi Sunni Arab tribes, mostly present in the Sunni-majority provinces of Anbar, Diyala, Karbala, Nineveh, Salah Al-Din and Kirkuk, where dissatisfaction towards the policies of the Maliki government have peaked. Observers are unclear over the precise nature of the relationship between Iraq’s anti-government Sunni Arab tribes and Sunni militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) which last week announced the establishment of an Islamic caliphate comprising territory in eastern Syria and western Iraq.
While both sides oppose the Mailki government, which Iraq’s Sunnis claim has pursued a policy of sectarianism, it is not clear whether Sunni tribesman are fighting directly alongside ISIS against the government or are exploiting the presence of the Islamist militant group to launch a separate insurgency.

“We are Iraqis and we side with our people, whether they are Shi’ites, Sunnis—whether Arabs, Kurds or Turkmen—and Christians. We do not wish to establish sectarian rule like Maliki and his group did,” Naimi told Asharq Al-Awsat. “We will seek to eliminate ISIS after we realize our goals of getting rid of Maliki,” the Iraqi Tribal Rebels spokesman added.

Iraqi deputy PM: "Unjust decisions and laws put in place during
the days of the occupation became a sword hanging on the necks of the people."
Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Al-Monitor, 4-7-2014

BAGHDAD — Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq, head of the al-Arabiya Coalition, has said that a political solution is the only way to unite the positions of Shiites and Sunni tribes and isolate armed groups.
In an interview with Al-Monitor, Mutlaq said it had been a mistake to accept the post of deputy prime minister within the context of partisan and sectarian agreements. He affirmed that the policies of oppression and marginalization from which the Sunnis suffered are what pushed them to call for their own region.

- Al-Monitor: The surprising agreement among Sunni forces to enter parliament in a single coalition drew the attention of observers. How did that happen?
- Mutlaq: We do not believe in any alliances that are built on sectarian, ethnic or doctrinal bases. The primary foundation of our alliance is nationalism and public interest as well as achieving the demands of citizens.
We exerted as much effort as possible prior to the elections to find a cross-sectarian national front, yet other forces were — and still are — insistent on dividing the people of a single nation into various groups, sects and races. Our final alliance was based on the importance of consensus and implementing the demands of the provinces that held sit-ins and demanded the preservation of their residents' dignity.

- Al-Monitor: Do you have a vision for a way out of the crisis Iraq is experiencing? You stress a political solution, but can a terrorist group like the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham [ISIS, now calling itself the Islamic State] be confronted through politics alone?
- Mutlaq: A political solution can unite the positions of Shiites and Sunni tribes. This will provide a chance to first isolate armed groups and then fight them and expel them easily, as happened in previous years when the authentic Iraqi tribes came together and expelled al-Qaeda overnight. Moreover, a political solution can contribute to lifting the injustice from large segments of Iraqi society and restoring their rights, which they lost as a result of unjust decisions and laws put in place during the days of the occupation. [These decisions and laws] became a sword hanging on the necks of the people, and canceling these laws will necessarily lead to unifying Iraqi society and strengthening national unity again.

- Al-Monitor: How do you view the demands for a Sunni region? Do you believe they can be realized? If they were realized, how do you see the future of Iraq? Do you think that Iraq is headed toward division?
- Mutlaq: Sunni forces, including both political and popular forces, do not think that they can impose a demand for establishing a region on a sectarian basis. [The Sunni forces] are an outspoken advocate for the unity of Iraq. Were it not for the policies of oppression, marginalization, displacement, unjustified arrests and the looting of rights — which were an inherent feature of the era of the current government — these voices would not have raised this demand.

- Al-Monitor: There is talk about Sunni extremist organizations, as well as other nonextremist ones and tribal organizations. If it is true, how can one make distinctions between ISIS and the rest of the factions on the ground? Do you think this is possible? And how?
- Mutlaq: Extremism exists in Iraq and is not limited to one sect alone. Yet, the faulty policies are what isolated the government from the people in Sunni regions and provinces and allowed armed groups to enter to try and fill the vacuum. As for how to separate ISIS and other terrorist organizations from the tribes and angered people, this lies in fulfilling the demands of the masses in these provinces. I don't think that [achieving these demands] is difficult or impossible...

Saleh al-Mutlaq 2012: "It should be noted that Maliki would not have been appointed as prime minister had it not been for US [intervention] in the first place and Iranian [intervention] in the second. All previous facts indicated that Maliki did not have any chance to renew his mandate. All parties were against him in taking over the post of prime minister. However he was appointed to the post by Iran, and the US then approved this appointment because it served its interests. (Al-Monitor, 17-1-2012)

Tehran warns Iraq's Kurdish leaders against separatism,
and criticises US for doing ‘nothing concrete to fight against terrorism.’
Middle East Online, 6-7-2014

TEHRAN - Iran said on Sunday it supports Nuri al-Maliki's bid to stay on as Iraq's premier, but that it is ready to back any other candidate chosen by the Iraqi parliament.
Maliki's "State of Law coalition won first place in the last legislative elections... (and) any decision that is taken in Iraq and has the support of parliament has Iran's backing," said Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.
"If Mr Maliki is chosen as prime minister, we will work hard together. If another person is chosen by parliament, the Islamic Republic of Iran will also support them. It's an internal affair for Iraq
," he said.

Shiite-dominated Iran has said it is willing to provide Iraq advice and military assistance in the fight with Sunni insurgents who have now declared an Islamic caliphate. The Islamic State (IS) militants overran large chunks of Iraqi territory last month and have declared there own caliphate.
The militant offensive, which led Iraqi troops to abandon their posts, has emboldened Kurdish leaders to press for independence of their autonomous northern region.
Tehran opposes a breakup of Iraq, denouncing it as an Israeli plot.
"We will never allow (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu's dreams about the disintegration of Iraq and the region to come true," Amir-Abdollahian said on Sunday. He added that Iran had warned Iraq's Kurdish leaders against separatism, saying it was "in nobody's interest".
Amir-Abdollahian also criticised the United States for doing "nothing concrete to fight against terrorism". In addition, he said the "role of Saudi Arabia in the events of the region, including Syria and Iraq, is not positive."

Flashback 2011: The Kurdish connection
Guy Bechor, YNet News, 3-8-2011

Rather than securing Mideastern hegemony, Turkey itself may fall apart. This is the case after the Kurdish leadership in the country declared on July 15 the establishment of a democratic Kurdish autonomy in southeastern Turkey, with its capital in Diyarbakir. When Erdogan heard about the declaration he was furious, as the possible future implication of this is Turkey’s collapse.

In Syria, that very same day, we saw another important development. For the first time, a Kurdish liaison committee was established that brings together all the new Kurdish parties in Syria on the basis of the “Kurdish people’s unity.” They demand Kurdish autonomy in the wake of the Assad regime or at least a federation within Syria.
The Syrian Kurds enjoy a particularly sympathetic home front in the Kurdish autonomy in Iraq. Slowly, the pieces of the Turkish puzzle in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran are connecting into a giant state that will be home to 18 million people. At this time already, the Kurdish region of Iraq is in fact a state with its own flag, leadership and sovereignty.

If the two million Palestinians in Judea and Samaria deserve a state, why shouldn’t there be a state for the 18 million Kurds? We can now understand the kind of dilemma faced by the four above-mentioned states – Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey – with the notion of a unilaterally declared Palestinian state. They realize that if today the Palestinians do it, the clear implication is that tomorrow the Kurds may have a UN majority. Suddenly these states understand: If they screw Israel, they screw themselves too.
And another thing: The Kurdish state will be a close ally of Israel, just like South Sudan. The Kurds are close to Israel and view it as a twin sister with a difficult history and non-Arabic identity.
What we see are four states hostile to Israel in one way or another that will have to fall apart in order to give rise to an ally of Israel.

A gift for Israel
Times of Israel, 10-8-2013

While Turkey, Iraq, and other countries balk at indications of increased Kurdish self-rule, an independent Kurdish state in the Middle East would be a gift for Israel, many Kurdish and Israeli experts believe.
“Kurds are deeply sympathetic to Israel and an independent Kurdistan will be beneficial to Israel,” argued Kurdish journalist Ayub Nuri in July. “It will create a balance of power. Right now, Israel is one country against many. But with an independent Kurdish state, first of all Israel will have a genuine friend in the region for the first time, and second, Kurdistan will be like a buffer zone in the face of the Turkey, Iran and Iraq.”
The Kurds are the world’s largest stateless nation, numbering well over 30 million spread across Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq, according to figures in the CIA Factbook, though exact population numbers are hard to pin down...
America, after investing so much blood and treasure into keeping the Iraqi state together after Saddam’s downfall, is not interested in seeing it fracture along ethnic lines. The Americans “want to keep the political map of the region as it is,” noted Saadi. On this issue, Israeli interests run counter to the current American position.

Photo Gili Yaari: Israelis show their support for the Kurdish people in a Tel Aviv demonstration. September 2013

Sisi against Iraqi Kurd secession
Iraqi Kurds' move would be a disaster for the region
Middle East Online, 7-7-2014

CAIRO - Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned the independence of Iraq's Kurdish region would be "catastrophic" and cause the Middle East to splinter along ethnic and religious lines, newspapers reported Monday.
A Sunni militant offensive that drove soldiers out of northern Iraq last month has emboldened leaders of the country's three-province Kurdish region to push for an independence referendum. But Sisi said such a move would be a disaster for the region...
The move is part of a "terrible plot" that was aimed at "redrawing the region on religious and ethnic grounds," he said in the remarks published on Monday.

The president of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, Massud Barzani, asked its parliament on Thursday to start organising a referendum on the long-held dream of independence. The Kurdistan region has long been at odds with Iraq's federal government over numerous issues, especially what Kurdish politicians say are delayed and insufficient budget payments to the region this year.

Anbar tribes reject ISIL loyalty bid, vow to fight
Al-Shorfa, 2014-07-08

The Anbar tribal council on Tuesday (July 8th) said it has rejected a call from the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) for them to swear allegiance to the group. Instead, the tribes have decided to continue to fight ISIL, it said.
"The council held an emergency meeting attended by 45 tribal chiefs representing Anbar after ISIL distributed flyers last night calling on them to swear allegiance and support it," council head Sheikh Rafih al-Fahdawi told Al-Shorfa. The flyers threatened to kill those who refuse, he added.

The council has unanimously voted to refuse swearing allegiance to ISIL or dealing or co-operating with the group. The army command in Anbar told the tribes it would provide them with protection and the weapons necessary to defend themselves, he said.

Saddam Hussein, Iraq Daily 4-3-2003: "The despot thinks he is just as God.., capable of ordering everything to be as he wants it to be. What a nadir and mean fate! The despot, as represented in this age, in our day, imagines he can enslave the people, confiscate their decision, and legitimate freedom and choices given that they were born free. People were indeed freed by God’s will through prophets and messengers, to be slaves only to Him and not to anyone of the people."

Al-Anbar province & Tribal Military Councils
Turkish Weekly, 24-6-2014

Al-Anbar province, which constitutes the western part of Iraq along much of the Syrian border, is one of the places where tribal traditions have been quite strong. Fallujah, the biggest city of the province, has a tribal society with the tribe playing an important role in the decision-making process of the individuals and it works as a bloc vote. This sociological aspect of tribalism has played a crucial role in the balance of politics and security in the city....
The Tribal Military Councils are a new set of actors who were created by Al-Anbar’s anti-Maliki tribes...

The Tribal Revolutionary Military Councils were established in several Sunni provinces as a reaction to the Maliki government’s violent break up of the widespread demonstrations. Many members of these groups often blame Maliki’s suppression of these protests as a reason for their decision to go a more militant route. Their members are generally resistance groups of the American invasion, or ex-bureaucrats and military officers of the Baath era. One of the most active military councils was founded in Al-Anbar province during the unrest in the beginning of 2014 under the name of the Military Council of Anbar Tribal Revolutionaries (MCATR).

One of the most influential and powerful organization of this type is the General Military Council for Iraqi Revolutionaries, whose stronghold is Mosul. The group is associated with the Muslim Scholars’ Association a group that consists of Sunni scholars and is led by Sheikh Harith Sulayman al-Dhari, a prominent Sunni scholar who is accused of terrorism by the Maliki government.
He said to Al Jazeera that “Iraq’s Sunnis feel marginalized because [of] policies in Iraq… He [Maliki] adopted a policy of marginalization and exclusion and used all forms of cruelty at his disposal against the Sunnis.” The Association rejects sectarianism and terrorism, has organized joint Sunni-Shiite prayers and was fiercely against the American invasion.
Spokesman for the General Military Council of the Iraqi Revolutionaries Muzhir al Qaisi told BBC that Mosul was too big a city for ISIS to have taken alone and that his council is stronger than ISIS. He also differentiates his council from ISIS as follows: “we are organized, we fight with rules, with the Geneva Convention, those are barbarians.”

"Baath" and "Naqshbandi" Militants wage assassinations campaign
against leaders of ISIL organization in Diyala
Shafaq News, Wednesday, 09 July 2014

A security source in Diyala province reported on Wednesday, that the elements of the outlawed Baath party and the "Naqshbandi", organization began a campaign of assassinations against the princes and the leaders of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant “ISIL” organization in areas that they have joint control in the province.
The source said in an interview with "Shafaq News", that “ armed factions linked to the former Baath Party, and the other belonging to the "Naqshbandi" organization began waging a war of assassinations against leaders of ISIL organization in Diyala. He added that ISIL organization has lost in two weeks two leaders and a number of their companions and assistants, it seems that these armed factions have a hand in it.

An official source said last Sunday to “Shafaq News" that there are signs of fighting between armed factions because of disagreements on the interest and the management of the so-called Islamic state of al-Saadia.
Tikrit, Mosul cities and a number of regions in Kirkuk, Diyala, Anbar and Salahuddin are still controlled by ISIL organization and its allies since the tenth of current June.

ISIL assassinates former allies: Anbar
Al-Shorfa, 9-7-2014

Anbar province on Wednesday (July 9th) accused the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) of killing the leaders of armed factions that fought alongside it but refused to swear allegiance to ISIL chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his "caliphate".
The security authorities have information about assassinations of "leaders of armed factions that refused to swear allegiance to ISIL", provincial council media advisor Khalil al-Alwani told Al-Shorfa. Over the past few days, members of these factions have been killed in Anbar, Ninawa, Baghdad and Salaheddine provinces, he said.
"This is a proof that ISIL is rejected by armed factions that have recently appeared in the country," al-Alwani said. Other reports indicate that some of these armed factions have abandoned ISIL battlefields, he said.

Tribal Revolutionaries spokesman Raad Abdul Sattar Suleiman:
"The important thing is to save Iraq from the Iranians"
Asharq Al-Awsat, 9-7-2014

Iraqi Tribal Revolutionaries spokesman Sheikh Raad Abdul Sattar Suleiman, a senior member of the Dulaim tribe —which has over 3 million members in Iraq— told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Iraqis are prepared to accept help from any party in order to defeat the gang that is ruling Iraq. We are Iraqis. We can change Maliki and his rule, and we will change the whole political process in Iraq.”
As for the relations between the Iraqi Tribal Revolutionaries and ISIS, Suleiman acknowledged that “there is coordination,” contradicting previous statements from the tribal coalition that it is not affiliated to the militant group...
“We told them [ISIS], via intermediaries, that the time was not right for the announcement of a caliphate and that our aim is to enter Baghdad and cleanse it from this government. We asked their leaders to inform [ISIS leader] Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi that only after this has been achieved will we declare him as caliph . . . But at this time, we do not support the caliphate as we have yet to enter Baghdad. That is our next objective.”
“We will not fight ISIS over minor details, such as the caliphate and so on... The important thing is to save Iraq from the Iranians,” he added.

The Dulaim tribe is composed of more than 1000 clans, found mostly in Iraq and Syria. The Dulaimis had a big role in founding the modern Iraqi state. They contributed to the stability in political and economic situation and the emergence of institutions of the modern state from army and police and other services especially during the monarchy period and during the rule of president Abdul Salam Arif Al-Jumaili. During the Saddam era the Dulaimis formed 10% to 20% of the Iraqi army (Iraqi Republican Guard).

Dulaim is the largest tribe in Anbar province, which formed the nucleus of the resistance\insurgency against U.S. forces in Iraq. The events of the war and the bombing of Fallujah and targeting the Sunnis in Baghdad and Basra and many other reasons pushed the Sunni Dulaimi clans to carry weapons against Iraqi government and U.S. forces in Iraq.
Sheikh Ali Hatim Al-Suleiman is the leader of the Dulaim tribe. (Wikipedia info)

Western-backed opposition elects new president
Al-Arabya 9-7-2014

Syria's Western-backed opposition National Coalition elected Hadi al-Bahra, chief negotiator at the Geneva peace talks, as its new president following a three-day meeting in Istanbul, the coalition said on Wednesday.
Bahra, a U.S-trained industrial engineer, will replace Ahmad Jarba, who has served the maximum two six-month terms. Like Jarba, Bahra has close ties to Saudi Arabia.
(El-Bahra was born in Damascus in 1959, and spent most of his adult life in Saudi Arabia, where he managed several hospitals and businesses.)
"Hadi al-Bahra wins coalition presidency by 62 votes," a post on the Coalition's Facebook page said on Wednesday.

While designated as the main body representing the opposition by the United States and other key powers, the National Coalition has little power inside Syria where disparate militant groups outside its control hold ground.

Social affairs minister: Government cares
that humanitarian relief file remains apolitical
Syrian Arab News Agency, 10-7-2014

Damascus, SANA-Minster of Social Affairs Kinda al-Shammat said the government is keenly interested that the humanitarian relief file not be politicized and retains its humanitarian and social dimensions.
Al-Shammat was speaking during a meeting on Thursday of the Higher Relief Committee which she chairs.
Some countries with professed enmity to Syria are trying to push for UN Security Council resolutions that encroach on the Syrian sovereignty, added al-Shammat, citing a recent incident in Yarmouk refugee camp where armed groups hampered aid deliveries.
The minister also pointed to grave transgressions by terrorists in al-Raqqa city where terrorists run amok.

EU Sanctions Target Humanitarian Aid
Dr. Franklin Lamb,, 7-7-2014

(DAMASCUS, Syria) - Last month, half-heartedly and without unanimity among its 28 member states, the European Union levied yet more sanctions on Syrian officials.
Passed under pressure from the usual suspects (the US, France, Britain, and the international Zionist lobby), the EU measure targets 12 government ministers, none of whom wields or holds police authority of any type.
Not a single one of these individuals has any capacity or wherewithal—or even any interest—in committing “serious human rights violations,” as the measure accuses them of having carried out. It is a charge that amounts to defamation of character and which the EU made without offering a scintilla of evidence...
The measure puts the officials under an EU travel ban and asset freeze, and it also raises to 191 the number of Syrian government employees, along with 53 companies, now being targeted by EU sanctions.

The impact of EU and western sanctions on the Syrian economy has been severe—this is well known. Heavy fighting has damaged or destroyed economic infrastructure, significantly impeding normal access to sources of income for average Syrians. In addition, internal distribution and supply networks have been disrupted if not destroyed; currency depreciation has devastated purchasing power; and the heavy US, EU and Arab League sanctions have hampered imports and exports. Even the import of items not subject to the sanctions has been restricted by the sanctions on financial transactions, while tourism revenue, for example, has all but disappeared.

The ministers targeted tend to be technocrats, specialists in their field of work; they are not major government policy makers. Some are involved in humanitarian work, and some of them are ministers whose efforts in this regard have made them quite popular with Syrian people, both at home and abroad. One of these is Kinda al-Shammat, who heads Syria’s Ministry of Social Affairs.

Minister Shammat works closely with the U.N. and other aid agencies operating on the ground in Syria, her efforts facilitating the delivery of assistance to millions of internally displaced Syrians. The UN has hundreds of aid workers working with the Syrian government through her. She has never been involved in “serious human rights violations,” but she is a well-known human rights advocate.
Ms. Shammat holds a PhD in Private Law from the University of Damascus, where she teaches, and she has also worked with the Syrian Commission for Family Affairs, the General Union of Syrian Women, and the UN Development Fund. In the latter capacity she served as a legal expert in family affairs and violence against women, and in 2012 she was also a member of the committee that amended the Syrian constitution.

Ms. Shammat first came to this observer’s attention for her continued dedication to getting aid to Palestinian refugees trapped inside Yarmouk camp during the current crisis.
She survived an assassination attempt by rebels opposed to her views on women rights, and some suggest that she became a target for al-Qaeda types last year when Damascus University banned the wearing of total full face veils. It was a decision she openly welcomed at the time, saying that it was in line with the Syrian belief in moderation. “We in Syria have never gone to the extreme left or the extreme right,” she told Al-Arabiya TV.
Kinda al-Shammat is surely one of the last officials, in Syria or anywhere else, who would warrant EU sanctions against her, and it is deeply egregious that she should be targeted, along with her colleagues, without any proof of wrongdoing.

Some have pointed to the curious timing of this latest round of sanctions, so soon after the presidential election, and have suggested that in reality it is a form of collective punishment of the Syrian people — for daring to vote the wrong way, or in a way disapproved of by the EU and the rest of the West.
The EU has spoken piously of “Cultural Heritage—our debt to the past, our promise to the future,” and claims that it seeks to “promote culture as a catalyst for creativity,” but its actions last month belie this. If it truly seeks to implement its claimed humanitarian values, the EU should work to open the paths of these Syrian officials, not close them...
Syria and her hardworking public servants will survive these gratuitous political sanctions, but the sanctions likely will remain an indelible stain on the EU and its claimed humanitarian principles for a long time to come.

Dr. Franklin Lamb is Director of the Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace, Beirut-Washington DC, Board Member of The Sabra Shatila Foundation, and a volunteer with the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign, Lebanon. Lamb has been a Professor of International Law at Northwestern College of Law in Oregon. He earned his Law Degree at Boston University and his LLM, M.Phil, and PhD degrees at the London School of Economics.

Life under ISIL caliphate: Sports are banned, but Iraqis persist
By Khalid al-Taie, Mawtani, 11-7-2014

The Iraqi Ministry of Sports and Youth is organising a mass rally at Baghdad's Al-Shaab International Stadium on July 13th to send the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) a message of defiance and rejection of ISIL's ban on watching football, officials told Mawtani.
The rally will bring Iraqis together to watch the final match of the FIFA World Cup in defiance of an ISIL "ruling" that prohibits them from playing the sport or watching it on television, they said.
ISIL and al-Qaeda have committed outrageous crimes against athletes and sports fans and are attempting to eradicate sports in areas they claim to control, observers said, adding that these attempts go against Islam and the Iraqis' long history of love of football and sports in general.

"Iraqis are the Asia Champions in football, and our national team, known as the Lions of the Two Rivers, are Iraq's international symbol and our sports ambassadors," said Alaa Shaker, 30, a resident of Baghdad. "This man called al-Baghdadi does not know what he is talking about and is unaware of the extent to which Iraqis are attached to life, sports and art," he added. "We are the ancestors of a civilization."
Shaker said the best proof of the Iraqis' rejection of ISIL's ideas, and in particular its ban on football, is the increasing number of Iraqis who are following the World Cup in Brazil, even in areas seized by the group.
"Men, women and children of all ages are following the games in homes, cafes and public squares," he said. "It is an innocent pleasure that we are used to in Iraq, and we will not give it up."

ISIL's ban on watching the World Cup or practicing sports is part of its criminal and oppressive stifling of freedoms, abuse of public rights and promotion of backwardness and barbarism, said Falah al-Alousy, chairman of Salam al-Rafidain, an organisation concerned with the welfare of women and children.
Baghdad religious scholar Sheikh Mohammed al-Mansouri refuted the ISIL edict prohibiting the watching or playing of football matches. "The concepts and rulings the terrorists come up with are all non-existent in our faith," he said. "They are simply gimmicks they created to accomplish their goal of controlling people's fates and the destiny of the country on the pretext of applying the teachings of God and his sharia, but Islam has nothing to do with them."
Al-Mansouri called on Iraqis, especially youth, to avoid being misled by the fatwas issued by groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIL. These people speak nothing but falsehood, he said, and their rulings and actions deviate from the right path of Islam and do not appeal to reason or logic.

The purpose of the July 13th gathering in Baghdad "is to deliver a message of defiance and rejection of the terrorist ISIL rulings, and to emphasise the unity and national solidarity among all components of Iraqi society", said ministry spokeswoman Assifa Musa.
Sports are an effective way to fight extremist ideologies, she said, which is why ISIL and other "terrorist groups" prohibit them, particularly for women.

ISIL issues ‘10 commandments’ for Islamic rule
Daily News 13-6-2014

Militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have set rules for those living under their control in the province of Nineveh. The group, which has made clear that it intends to create a new Caliphate, published the document two days after taking the provincial capital Mosul. Arabic-speaking reporter Jenan Moussa translated the document. A redacted version is as follows:

1) People, you tried secular rulings (Republic, Baathist, Safavid) and they gave you pain. Now is time for the Islamic state...
2) For those asking “Who are you?”: We are soldiers of Islam and have taken on our responsibility to bring back the glory of the Islamic Caliphate.
3) Money we took from the Safavid (Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki) government is now public. Only Imam of Muslims can spend it. The hand of anyone who steals will be cut.
4) We ask all Muslims to be on time for prayers in the mosques.
5) We warn tribal leaders and sheikhs not to work with the government and be traitors.
6) No drugs, no alcohol and no cigarettes are allowed.
7) For the police, soldiers and other infidel institutions: You can repent. We have opened special places that will allow you to repent.
8) Gatherings, carrying flags (other than that of the Islamic state) and carrying guns are not allowed. God ordered us to stay united.
9) Our position on shrines and graves is clear. Simply, all will be destroyed.
10) For women: Dress decently and wear wide clothes. Only go out if necessary.

Over 300 Killed in Iraq Security Ops and Militant Attacks
by Margaret Griffis, July 12, 2014

The Sunni political bloc has nominated Salim al-Jabouri to be the next parliamentary speaker, but they and the Kurds still insist they will not continue to cooperate if the Shi’ites pick Nouri al-Maliki for premier again. It appeared that Sunnis and Kurds were not going to reveal their choices until the Shi’ites disclosed their selection, but backing off that stance is a good sign that the lawmakers are moving past bickering.
The three top posts each go to one of the three largest ethnic or religious groups in the country. The Sunnis pick the speaker. The Shi’ites pick the prime minister, and the Kurds get to select the president.

Iraq is deploying about 4,000 newly trained "volunteers" to Ramadi to reinforce troops already there. That most of them will be Shi’ites could further inflame sectarian tensions in the predominantly Sunni province. It may be more prudent to encourage Sunni militias, but many Sunnis have said they will not consider fighting unless Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki steps down. Many others admit they prefer the rebels to Maliki.

Iraq headed for chaos unless politicians unite, U.N. says

The U.N. special envoy to Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, said the country could plunge into chaos if parliament fails to move forward on a government in the next session now set for Sunday. He also urged lawmakers to turn up, after fewer than a third attended the first session when Sunnis and Kurds walked out after Shi'ites failed to nominate a premier to replace Maliki.
With politics in Baghdad paralyzed, and Maliki continuing in a caretaker role, the fighting raged on. The death toll rose to 30 on Saturday from a suicide bomb attack on Friday at a Kurdish-controlled checkpoint in Kirkuk province, where families fleeing violence in Tikrit and other areas overrun by militants last month were waiting to pass.
Maliki's opponents accuse him of ruling for the Shi'ite majority at the expense of the Sunni and Kurdish minorities, and want him to step aside. But he shows no sign of quitting. His State of Law coalition is the biggest group in the Shi'ite National Alliance bloc. ((Reuters 13-7-2013

Osama al-Nujaifi: Iraq’s crisis won’t be resolved by fighting
By Abigail Hauslohner, Washington Post 13-7-2014

- Q. The government is currently fighting Sunni militants in the north. But I’ve heard some Sunnis refer to what is happening as a “revolution.” How do you describe what’s happening?
- Nujaifi: Yes, it is a revolution. But at the same time, the terrorists are taking advantage of it. It’s a revolution that started a year and a half ago, as peaceful demonstrations. [The government] didn’t deal with it according to the constitution. Instead, they faced it with force. So it turned into a military movement.
But it wasn’t as broad as we see now. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) [which now calls itself the Islamic State] took advantage of the gap between the government and the people, and they invaded and occupied Iraqi cities.
ISIS controls important military areas, but the wider geographical area is in the hands of tribes and armed groups who are rebelling against the government, and who before that were fighting the Americans.
We need to differentiate between these groups and the terrorists. We need to face ISIS militarily. But these other groups should be dealt with politically.

- Q. Six years ago, U.S. forces helped launch the Sahwa — the Awakening Movement — that got Sunni tribes to fight back against al-Qaeda. What is the state of the Sahwa today?
- Nujaifi: It’s not active. These days, it is finished, after all that has happened. There are some areas of Anbar province that the tribes control. They're not rebels or Sahwa, but they protect certain areas, and they don’t let the army or the Islamic State enter. Haditha, Garma and Abul Fahed in Ramadi — these are examples.

- Q. What caused the Sahwa to collapse?
- Nujaifi: The government didn’t deal with it properly. They didn’t pay their salaries or arm them. On the contrary, they were arresting them, and charged them with being terrorists. Thousands of them are in jail, and they killed many of them, too. Some were killed by bombs when they went to collect their salaries. The government dealt with it in a sectarian manner. They didn't want armed groups among the Sunnis.

- Q. How can the government retake Mosul, Tikrit and other areas under the control of the insurgents?
- Nujaifi: There is no military solution for this crisis. It needs to be a political solution. We have to convince the Iraqi Sunnis in these provinces to cooperate with a new government. You need a political solution first, and you need to isolate the terrorists. You have to distinguish between the terrorists and the citizens, and also between the armed groups.

- Q. Can you comment on fighting between the Islamic State and other Sunni groups?
- Nujaifi: It is a very positive thing, and we hope it expands. And it’s very important. We have to work politically to unify the efforts to get rid of ISIS.

Mosul - Iraq: One Month On
By : Ma'ad Fayad, Asharq Al-Awsat, 14-7-2014

One month after the fall of Iraq’s second-largest city to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its allies, inhabitants of Mosul say the militants have a limited presence in the city and may be preparing to pull out of the area.
Civil rights activist Ghanim Al-Abed, a former spokesman for protesters against the central government in the city, said the presence of ISIS in Mosul had had a mixed impact.
The first side was positive, he said, as there were no longer any raids in the city by government security forces. “Mosul residents hardly feel the presence of ISIS in the streets, even at the checkpoints which used to belong to the Iraqi army,” he added. The second, negative side, was represented by the absence of services and the non-payment of salaries for state employees.
He added that the Naqshbandi Army had a larger presence in the city and may be preparing to assume control.

Speaking on the telephone from Mosul on Saturday, Abed said: “ISIS moved all Iraqi army weapons and vehicles to the area of Jazeera, which is jointly shared by Iraq and Syria. This means they have no intention of remaining in Mosul as their numbers do not allow them to hold the territory or stay for too long, and they have started to withdraw from the left side of Mosul, which is the wider area.”
Abed added: “There are discussions between the Naqshbandi Army and ISIS regarding their [ISIS'] withdrawal via the left side [of the city], in preparation for their [complete] withdrawal from Mosul... The presence of the Naqshbandis is the strongest on the ground and among the people, because they are peaceful and do not have a culture of violence and revenge.”
He also said that ISIS appeared to have learned from its experiences in Syria, where its heavy-handed approach undermined its relationship with local people and other factions.
Abed said: “ISIS did not repeat their mistakes in Syria by exercising pressure on people and forcing them to follow a certain lifestyle. This is because their numbers do not allow them to control a large city of almost two million people who enjoy a moderate Islamic culture.”

This description of life in Mosul under ISIS largely accords with that of Asharq Al-Awsat’s correspondent in the city, who confirmed that life in there was outwardly returning to normal, despite a disruption of government departments, hospitals, schools, universities and markets in the early days after the withdrawal of the Iraqi army and police.
The governor of Nineveh, Atheel Al-Nujaifi, was forced to leave Mosul—the province’s capital—with the fall of the city on June 10. However, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat by phone from the Al-Hamdaniyah district on the city’s outskirts, he echoed many of the inhabitants’ comments.
He said: “ISIS is preparing to withdraw from the [east side] of Mosul and hand it over to the Naqshbandi Army, who are close to the Ba’ath Party which is led by [former Saddam Hussein aide] Izzat Al-Douri.” ...
Nujaifi added: “Mosul will be back under state control within two months with no military intervention, as the people and ISIS do not want any intervention by the armed forces which abandoned the governorate... The Naqshbandis will work on returning the governorate . . . as they are moderates who follow the Sufi order, not Salafists like ISIS.”

ISIS militants have taken some measures to change life in Mosul so that it accords more closely with their interpretations of Islamic norms and laws.... However, in keeping with their attempts to win ‘hearts and minds,’ the group’s members have reportedly avoided destroying mosques, churches, museums, or other monuments. In addition, the organization has not yet banned activities like smoking and playing board games, preferring instead to send its members to coffee shops to ‘advise’ customers against such habits.

"They are moderates who follow the Sufi order"

The Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order (JRTN) was originally composed mainly of groups wishing to restore the old order under the Ba'athist ideology. It is a Sufi Islamic organization with Iraqi and Arab nationalist tendencies. Since the JRTN is led by Saddam's former deputy Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, and contains many former Ba'athists, Arab Nationalism, Arab Socialism, Ba'athism as well as Sufi Islamism and Sunni Islamism have all become an important part of its ideology.
The group's links to both Sufism and its embrace of violence is controversial as many Sufi followers believe Sufism to be strongly opposed to violence. The group has declared itself to be fighting to maintain Iraq's unity, along with its Arab and Islamic character. As such, the group can be seen as pursuing a nationalistic, as opposed to religious, line. (Wikipedia)

Behind the word "Naqshband" stand two ideas: naqsh which means "engraving" and suggests engraving the name of Allah in the heart, and band which means "bond" and indicates the link between the individual and his Creator.
This means that the Naqshbandi follower has to practice his prayers and obligations according to the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (s) and to keep the presence and love of Allah alive in his heart through a personal experience of the link between himself and his Lord. (sufimeditationcenter)

Berri: Israel's actions prove resistance only answer
Daily Star Lebanon, 13-7-2014

BEIRUT: Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon and its aggression against the Palestinian people today prove that the resistance is the only response to such an enemy, Speaker Nabih Berri said Saturday.
“It is as if Israel chooses July as a date for its aggression that only repeats itself," Berri said in a statement, "From the 1982 invasion of the Lebanese capital, to the seven-day war in 1993 in Lebanon where it carried out massacres, and the 2006 war," which began exactly eight years ago, on July 8, 2006.
“ Lebanon proved throughout that 33-day war of massacres and destruction that the only response to such aggression is the resistance, which represents the only weapon for the people to repel the aggressor.”
“In July of this year, the Palestinian resistance resembles the Lebanese resistance in its confrontation with the Zionist aggression. Resistance is merely a result of occupation, aggression and constant threats of using force.”

Berri warned Arabs, the Lebanese and the Palestinians to refrain from being distracted by regional wars and turmoil, saying the region was facing conspiracies to divide it into small states.
“I would like to draw the Arab world's attention to the Palestinian cause and everything that is happening in the region," Berri said. These "wars only serve the interest of the enemy in order to exhaust our capabilities and cause us to neglect the Palestinian cause."

At least 120 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched airstrikes earlier this week on Gaza, in the most serious hostilities between the Jewish state and Hamas since 2012. Israeli says the offensive is aimed at stopping rocket attacks it blames on Hamas. Rocket attacks from Gaza stepped up in frequency after a security crackdown in the occupied West Bank last month in response to the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens.
Future bloc MP Fouad Siniora said the aim of Israel’s aggression was to serve a blow to Palestinian unity, which he noted would ultimately do away with the Palestinian cause. “Therefore, the best way to face such an enemy is to commit to such unity because it is the only guarantee to restoring your rights,” he said.

The slogan of the Mafia has become official Israeli policy
By Gideon Levy, July 13, 2014 "ICH" - "Haaretz"

The goal of Operation Protective Edge is to restore the calm...; the means: killing civilians.
The slogan of the Mafia has become official Israeli policy. Israel sincerely believes that if it kills hundreds of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, quiet will reign. [There is] only one possible purpose for the military operation: death to Arabs, accompanied by the cheering of the masses....
Since the first Lebanon war, more than 30 years ago, the killing of Arabs has become Israel’s primary strategic instrument. The IDF doesn’t wage war against armies, and its main target is civilian populations.Arabs are born only to kill and to be killed, as everyone knows. They have no other goal in life, and Israel kills them.

One must, of course, be outraged by the modus operandi of Hamas: Not only does it aim its rockets at civilian population centers in Israel, not only does it position itself within population centers — it may not have an alternative, given the crowded conditions in the Strip — but it also leaves the Gazan civilian population vulnerable to Israel’s brutal attacks, without seeing to a single siren, shelter or protected space. That is criminal. But the barrages of the Israel Air Force are no less criminal, on account of both the result and the intent...
Retired generals and commentators on active duty compete to make the most monstrous proposal: “If we kill their families, that will frighten them,” explained Maj.Gen. (res.) Oren Shachor, without batting an eyelid. “We must create a situation such that when they come out of their burrows, they won’t recognize Gaza,” others said.

Libya attack destroys ‘90% of Tripoli airport jets’
Al Arabiya News, Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Ninety percent of the planes parked at Libya’s Tripoli International Airport have been destroyed after shelling attacks on the site, government spokesman Ahmed Lamine said on Tuesday.
"The government has studied the possibility to bring international forces to enhance security," he told reporters, according to Reuters news agency,

The United Nations said on Monday it is withdrawing its staff from Libya temporarily because of deteriorating security after rival militias fought over Tripoli International Airport and a renegade general's forces continued to battle Islamist militias in the eastern city of Benghazi.
Tripoli is witnessing one of its worst spasms of violence since the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, as rival militias fight for control of its airport.
On Monday, the capital’s international airport was hit by a salvo of rockets. "Dozens of rockets were fired at the airport," al-Jilani al-Dahech, a security official at the scene, told Agence France Presse, while another source said an aircraft took a direct hit. Several Grad rockets hit the airport, damaging the control tower, Reuters news agency quoted a Libyan official as saying.
Rival militias have been fighting for control of the airport since Sunday.

Libya's neighbours -- Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Niger, Sudan and Tunisia -- issued a call for dialogue on Monday. They agreed at talks near Tunis to set up twin commissions to broker talks and attempt to prevent any spillover of violence.
Delegates underlined the need to "resolve (the problem of) pockets of terrorism in Libya, which are a source of concern for Libya and the countries in the immediate vicinity".
Eastern Libya, particularly its main city Benghazi and the hill town of Derna, have become strongholds of jihadist groups. Renewed clashes between troops and Islamist militia in Benghazi on Monday killed at least seven people and wounded 49, medics said.
The European Union called for the new parliament elected in last month's controversial poll to convene as quickly as possible and form a new government to head off worsening violence.
"The EU trusts that the new parliament will be in a position to embody national consensus and play its role in forming a government with wide political support," it said. (Middle East Online 15-7-2014)

How Bernard-Henri Lévy Started the Libyan War
Ulf Gartzke, March 27th, 2011

This weekend’s Financial Times contains a revealing article detailing French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s recent unilateral decision to grant diplomatic recognition to Libya’s ragtag rebel movement – an important step in his aggressive campaign to push for and lead the ongoing military intervention against Colonel Qaddafi’s government.
In her piece, “Sarko’s Lofty Ambition”, FT Paris Bureau Chief Peggy Hollinger reveals that Bernard-Henri Lévy – usually referred to as “BHL” – called Sarkozy directly from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi to get the President to recognize Libya’s “National Transitional Council”.
According to an unofficial Sarkozy advisor speaking on condition of anonymity: Bernard-Henri rang him from Benghazi to tell him that French flags were everywhere. He told him that if he allowed a bloodbath there the blood would stain the French flag. That really affected him.
After talking to BHL, President Sarkozy decided to unilaterally grant diplomatic recognition to the Libyan rebels and formally receive their representatives at the Elysée (a meeting also attended by BHL). Sarkozy’s impulsive move not only caused considerable tensions with France’s EU partners (particularly in Berlin) but was apparently not even coordinated with his own foreign minister Alain Juppé. In addition, the president’s ruling center-right UMP party was also kept in the dark.

Libyan militants return from Iraq and Syria
to fight ex-general Haftar
Abdul Sattar Hatita, Albawaba July 16th, 2014

Libyan jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq are returning home to fight the breakaway militia led by Khalifa Haftar, who has recently emerged as a serious threat to the country’s Islamists, security and military sources toldAsharq Al-Awsat.
The revelation came after former Libyan officials expressed fears of an expected Islamist onslaught in a bid to take over the capital, Tripoli.
“Islamists have decided to bring the Libyan jihadists they had sent to Syria and Iraq in order to control Tripoli on [Thursday], particularly after they lost in the parliamentary elections,” a security source, who spoke with Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said.
Among the forces expected to take part in the attack are the Brotherhood-affiliated Libya Shield militias—a group of militias based in the city of Misrata—the Al-Qaeda-linked Ansar Al-Sharia and foreign jihadists who came to Libya after the 2011 revolution.
“It is a dangerous situation,” an aide to the former Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said, also speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity. “Both sides [Islamists and Haftar] seem to be preparing for a battle which may continue for a long time.”

Tensions between Haftar and Islamists began in February, when the renegade ex-army officer attempted to organize a coup against Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood-controlled transitional government, pledging to crackdown on Islamists.

The help of the tribes

May 2011: Hundreds of tribal leaders gathered under a giant tent to call for an end to an armed uprising against Col. Muammar Gaddafi and to NATO aerial attacks on his forces. (Voltaire Network)
Amid the continuing violence in the country, another focal point of political power also appears to be forming in the shape of Libya’s tribes. Almost 2,000 tribal leaders met in a conference in the town of Warshefana, south of Tripoli, on Tuesday.

“I feel Libya, indeed, has no other solution apart from the umbrella of the tribe,” the prominent Tunisian activist Sophia Al-Hamami, who attended the meeting, told Asharq Al-Awsat.
She said: “A tribe is like a social contract. It is different from Tunisia, where the social contract has been signed by [political] parties, the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT), the government, and the presidency, among others.”
According to senior Libyan security sources who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, Haftar has been coordinating with the tribes since the start of the year in a bid to build a united front against Islamists.
Haftar seems to have realized that he cannot fight Islamists without the help of the tribes, and a deal for their assistance is believed to have been brokered by former Libyan officials in exile, the source said.

Turkey to Host Conference for Muslim Scholars to Reject 'Caliphate'
by Naharnet Newsdesk, 15-7-2014

Turkey is seeking to host a conference for Muslim scholars in Istanbul during the upcoming days to reject extremism and violence and to safeguard Islam against the so-called "caliphate" that was declared by Sunni militants in Iraq and Syria.

A Turkish envoy held talks with several Muslim scholars and clerics in Beirut to invite them to attend a conference in Istanbul between July 17 and 19, As Safir newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The daily said that the invitations come on behalf of the President of Turkish Religious Affairs, Mohammed Kormaz, in an attempt to bring together Muslim scholars at a conference under the title “World Islamic Scholars Peace, Moderation and Common Sense Initiative.”
Several invitations have been sent to Muslim scholars in Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other countries, the newspaper said.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu are expected to attend the conference.

President Bashar al-Assad: "The majority of those fighting and carrying out terrorist operations on the ground have no political agenda. Some of them have become professional armed robbers, and others, as you know, are takfiri organisations fighting for an extremist Islamic emirate and things of that kind..." (21-1-2014)

Mikdad calls on western countries to abandon support for terrorism
Syrian Arab News Agency, 14/07/2014

Damascus, SANA – Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister Dr. Fayssal Mikdad affirmed that Syria is determined to eliminate the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), calling upon western countries to acknowledge the new reality by joining the battle against terrorism and ending their support for terrorists.
In an interview given to the Guardian on Monday, Mikdad said that the only way to resolve the situation is to work with the Syrian government, noting that several countries are now seeking security cooperation with Damascus, but security cannot be separated from policy.

Deep down, they know that what they did is a grievous crime against the Syrian people,” he said, adding that the belief of some sides back in 2011 that they can undermine the Syrian government within a few weeks resulted in the growth of terrorism in Syria, something which now threatens the security of European countries, and now they’ve come to realize that what is happening in Syria isn’t a revolution but a threat to Europe.

On the allegations that there’s a relation between the Syrian government and ISIS and in response to those who claim that Syria isn’t doing its best to combat groups like it, Mikdad said that the Syrian Army has its priorities, and it will decide what to do next, adding that the situation in general in Syria is improving....
He criticized the support provided to terrorists in Syria by the Al Saud authorities in Saudi Arabia, the Al Thani authorities in Qatar, and the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
On the appointment of Staffan de Mistura as the successor of UN envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, Mikdad said that de Mistura should remain neutral and understand the new reality following the presidential elections in Syria.

On the British policy towards Syria, Mikdad said that the British policy in this regard is foolish, and that it must apologize for supporting armed groups and cooperate with Syria to combat terrorism, adding that it’s up to British Prime Minister David Cameron to stop the British individuals coming to fight in Syria, and that it’s unfortunate that British people are coming to Syria to be killed and to kill Syrians.
He said that the British government adopts extremist opinions on Syria, and that it still believes or rather dreams that its pawns (the Muslim Brotherhood and other violent jihadist takfiri groups) are capable of realizing the change this government wants.
Referring to what the BBC revealed recently about a plan made in 2013 by the British Defense Ministry planned to train 100,000 terrorists and to fight the Syrian army, Mikdad said “we knew that Britain was deeply involved in the attacks and crimes committed in Syria, and we’re confident that more information will surface soon and reveal the depth of the British government’s involvement.”

President Bashar al-Assad sworn in for a new term
Syrian Arab News Agency, 16/07/2014

Damascus, SANA – President Bashar al-Assad was sworn in Wednesday before the members of the People’s Assembly.
Following the swearing in, the President delivered a speech in which he first saluted the Syrian people, calling them “honorable” and “free”.
He reminded how, throughout the crisis in Syria, which is now in its forth year, some have spoken on behalf of the Syrian people repeating the slogan “The People Want.” “Yes, the people did want, the people did make their decision, the people did act,” the President said.
“Years have passed since some chanted for freedom, but you, the Syrians, were the freemen at the time of subordination, and you were the masters at the time of acting,” he added.
He applauded the Syrian people for having practiced democracy at its best by choosing “your constitution, parliament and president. Thus the choice was yours and democracy was of your making.” “They wanted it a revolution, but you have been the real revolutionaries,” he said.

President al-Assad stressed that “The compass has now been rendered clear to many who have missed the vision, being ignorant or else misled, and the ugly faces have been exposed after the mask of ‘freedom’ and ‘revolution’ was dropped.”
The President went on saying that the elections were “our battle to defend the sovereignty, legitimacy, national decision and the people’s dignity,” commending the big participation in the vote as “a referendum in favor of sovereignty against terrorism with all its forms.”
“With your votes, you have toppled the terrorists together with their Syrian agents who have been a cover for them. You also brought down their masters,” the President said...

President al-Assad struck a defiant note by saying that the tougher the conditions the more firm the Syrian people. “We are people who get more defiant by pressures and who face the attempts of humiliation with more pride, dignity and self-confidence,” he added... "We have decided since the first days of aggression to go ahead into balanced tracks; striking terrorism and making local reconciliations to those who want to return to the right path..."
”We are not concerned about those who went out as traitor, agent or corrupter as the country has cleaned itself from those… and they have no place or position here." "Dialogue does not include powers that proved their non-patriotism.."

President al-Assad said that this day marks the beginning of a new stage, the main distinguishing feature of which is consensus on protecting the homeland and rebuilding it morally, psychologically, and physically, as well as consensus on eliminating terrorism and bringing all those who strayed from the proper path back to the arms of the homeland.
He said that the word “sawa” (together, which was the slogan of his presidential elections campaign) means raising the sense of responsibility in each individual in order to move towards the future, adding “it means that together we will rebuild Syria and build what was destroyed, and that we will continue to strike at terrorism and carry out reconciliations in all areas.”

The President went on to say “Your steadfastness is the one that officially announced the death of what was falsely named the ‘Arab Spring’ and it redirected the compass. Had this spring been real, it would have started from the countries of Arab ignorance. Had it been a people’s revolution to earn freedom, democracy, and justice, it would have started in the most backwards, oppressive, and tyrannical countries, those countries that were behind every calamity that affected this nation.”

President al-Assad saluted the Syrian Army which spared no effort in defense of the homeland, and saluted popular defense groups and all the young men and women who took up arms in defense of the dignity, pride, and honor of their homeland.
“The greatest salute is for our people whose embracing of their sons in the military acted as an incubator for their achievement and a basis for their victories. We won’t forget the faithful members of the heroic Lebanese resistance who stood side by side with our army’s heroes and waged battles of honor together on both sides of the borders,” he said.

“The new stage has begun, and we are ready for it... With you, hand in hand, Syria will remain proud, strong, steadfast, and impregnable to outsiders. We the Syrians will remain an impregnable fortress defending it and its dignity,” he concluded.

President al-Assad names Dr. Najah al-Attar vice president
Syrian Arab News Agency, 19/07/2014

Damascus, SANA – President Bashar al-Assad issued Saturday decree no. 228 naming Dr. Najah al-Attar vice president. Based on the decree, al-Attar will be charged with following up on the implementation of the cultural policy in the framework of the President’s directives.

Al-Attar was born on 10 January, 1933 and raised in Damascus as a member of a Sunni Muslim family. She studied at the University of Damascus, graduating in 1954. She continued higher studies in the United Kingdom, obtaining Diploma in Islamic Studies in 1956 and PhD in Arabic literature from the University of Edinburgh in in 1958. She also received a number of certificates then in international relations and in literary and art criticism.
In 1976, she was appointed as Minister of Culture and served in the post until 2000. In March 2006, she was appointed Vice President.

Asma Assad - Najah al-Attar, vice-president and Buthaina Shaaban, adviser to the president

Demonstration Against the BBC
Posted on July 17, 2014 by friendsofsyria

More than 5,000 protesters blocked the roads outside the BBC’s national headquarters in London today, demanding honest reporting on Gaza.
A letter signed by 45,000 people was handed into the BBC. The letter called for BBC reporting to reflect the reality of Gaza’s siege and occupation...

Dear BBC, Once again Gaza is under massive aerial bombardment from Israeli warplanes and drones, and, once again, the BBC’s reporting of these assaults is entirely devoid of context or background. We would like to remind the BBC that Gaza is under Israeli occupation and siege.
We would like to remind you that Israel is bombing a refugee population – Palestinians who were made refugees when they were forced from their land in1948 in order to create Israel....

When you portray the occupier as the victim, and the occupied as the aggressor, we would like to remind you that resistance to occupation is a right under international law. And we would like you to remember that Israel’s occupation, siege and collective punishment of Gaza is not.

IDF Ground Offensive in Gaza

The first hours of Israel’s Operation Defensive Edge ground phase against Hamas were marked by heavy artillery and air pounding to soften up the terrain as the ground forces went in Thursday night, July 17. The troops advanced in two heads – one north to Jebalya and Beit Lahiya and the other south, where it went into action initially against Khan Younes and Rafah. In its current phase, the IDF ground operation is focusing on southern Gaza, with the potential for expanding into further areas, as and when the government decides, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz told the special cabinet session Friday. (Debkafile, 18-7-2014)

Flynt Leverett/Hillary Mann Leveret:
"A quest to dominate the Middle East "

"As Israel's military kills and injures hundreds of civilians in Gaza people around the world, including in the United States, wonder why official Washington appears so indifferent to even the most graphic instances of "collateral damage". The primary reason is that most American policy elites still believe the United States needs to dominate the Middle East, and that Israeli military assertiveness is instrumentally useful to this end - a mindset the Israel lobby artfully reinforces...
After strategically failed interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and (by proxy) Syria, it is abundantly evident that Washington's quest to dominate the Middle East has not just failed.
This quest has sapped US capacity to shape positive strategic outcomes in the region and, at least in relative terms, weakened the United States as a global player... Yet, US policy elites stick with their hegemonic script. (Al-Jazeera 18-7-2014)

US Senate Unanimously Passes Resolution
Supporting Israeli Assault on Gaza
By Chris Carlson, ICH - IMEMC, 18-7-2014

Following a similar resolution passed last week by the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate voted Thursday night to support Israel’s ongoing invasion of the Gaza Strip.
No dissenting vote was cast, and no mention was made of the hundreds of Palestinian civilians, most of whom are women and children, that have been killed by Israel in the past ten days.
Senate Resolution 498 was authored by Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), with additional support by Ben Cardin (D-MD) and son of former Republican party politician Ron Paul, Rand Paul (R-KY). Paul is urging the Senate to pass his own bill, S. 2265, which would end all U.S. foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority until Hamas is barred from the new Palestinian unity government, among other stipulations.
The resolution was passed on the very same night Israel launched its current ground offensive into the Gaza Strip.

Iraqi opposition forces discuss
political solutions to crisis in Amman meeting
Asharq Al-Awsat,16-7-2014

Iraqi oppositions forces met Wednesday in the Jordanian capital to debate solutions to Iraq’s growing political and security crises, according to sources who attended the conference.
Delegates at the meeting in Amman called for “the unification of efforts and positions towards the events in Iraq” and demanded support for “the revolution of the Iraqi people against injustice” committed by Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki’s government.
The head of the tribal coordination committee, Ra’ad Abdul Sattar Al-Suleiman, said: “All sides attending the meeting have emphasized the unity of Iraq and their rejection of partition.”
He said over 250 Iraqi opposition figures were in attendance at the conference, representing at least 11 opposition factions including anti-government military councils, tribes, and former military and Ba’ath party leaders of the Saddam era.

These groups have been protesting Maliki’s government, which has been widely criticized at home and abroad for policies seen to favor Maliki’s own Shi’ite sect over other sects and ethnic groups.
That political crisis has taken on an extra dimension with the sudden and rapid advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in May. That group has taken control of large swathes of northern Iraq....
A senior figure in the powerful Shammar tribe, Waddah Malik Al-Sadid, indicated that the conference itself “has no ties with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).”
He said the delegates were comprised of those opposed to Maliki and his Iranian backers, and that only Sunni tribes that had not been involved in the post-Saddam political process had been invited to attend. Sadid also stressed that the conference did not intend to “consolidate sectarianism” or promote the “partition of Iraq.”

Baghdad Burning, Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Ten Years On...

April 9, 2013 marks ten years since the fall of Baghdad. Ten years since the invasion. Since the lives of millions of Iraqis changed forever. It’s difficult to believe. It feels like only yesterday I was sharing day to day activities with the world. I feel obliged today to put my thoughts down on the blog once again, probably for the last time.
In 2003, we were counting our lives in days and weeks. Would we make it to next month? Would we make it through the summer? Some of us did and many of us didn't.
Back in 2003, one year seemed like a lifetime ahead. The idiots said, “Things will improve immediately.” The optimists were giving our occupiers a year, or two… The realists said, “Things won’t improve for at least five years.” And the pessimists? The pessimists said, “It will take ten years. It will take a decade.”
Looking back at the last ten years, what have our occupiers and their Iraqi governments given us in ten years? What have our puppets achieved in this last decade? What have we learned?
We learned a lot.

We learned that while life is not fair, death is even less fair- it takes the good people. Even in death you can be unlucky. Lucky ones die a ‘normal’ death… A familiar death of cancer, or a heart-attack, or stroke. Unlucky ones have to be collected in bits and pieces...
We learned that you can be floating on a sea of oil, but your people can be destitute. Your city can be an open sewer; your women and children can be eating out of trash dumps and begging for money in foreign lands.
We learned that justice does not prevail in this day and age. Innocent people are persecuted and executed daily. Some of them in courts, some of them in streets, and some of them in the private torture chambers.
We are learning that corruption is the way to go. You want a passport issued? Pay someone. You want a document ratified? Pay someone. You want someone dead? Pay someone.
We are learning that those amenities we took for granted before 2003, you know- the luxuries – electricity, clean water from faucets, walkable streets, safe schools – are for people who don’t allow occupiers into their country.
We’re learning that the biggest fans of the occupation (you know who you are, you traitors) eventually leave abroad. And where do they go? The USA, most likely, with the UK a close second...
We’re learning that the masks are off. No one is ashamed of the hypocrisy anymore. You can be against one country (like Iran), but empowering them somewhere else (like in Iraq). You can claim to be against religious extremism (like in Afghanistan), but promoting religious extremism somewhere else (like in Iraq and Egypt and Syria).
Those who didn’t know it in 2003 are learning (much too late) that an occupation is not the portal to freedom and democracy. The occupiers do not have your best interests at heart.
We are learning that ignorance is the death of civilized societies and that everyone thinks their particular form of fanaticism is acceptable.
We are learning how easy it is to manipulate populations with their own prejudices and that politics and religion never mix, even if a super-power says they should mix...

Senior Iranian official holds Al-Maliki responsible for army defeat
Middle East Monitor, 17 July 2014

The Chairman of Iran's Expediency Discernment Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani criticised Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and held him responsible for the fall of Mosul to ISIS militants, saying that Al-Maliki is an unpopular figure.
In a statement posted on his official website, Rafsanjani said: "The Iraqi army did not achieve great victories in Iraq because the hearts of the people are not with the government. Militants today are threatening all the achievements that took place in Iraq...."
Rafsanjani warned Al-Maliki of the dangers of autocracy, saying "the various Iraqi communities must be involved in the rule" and stressing that the unity and cohesion of the people with the government will provide ground to resolve the crisis and expel the Islamic State and separatists from Iraq.

Rafsanjani's remarks are the first time a senior Iranian official criticises the policies of exclusion and marginalisation practiced by Al-Maliki's government against the Iraqi people and holds him responsible for the defeats suffered by the army.
Meanwhile, a source in the office of Iraq's top Shia cleric Ali Al-Sistani revealed a new message sent by the latter to Al-Maliki asking him to withdraw his candidacy for the post of prime minister so as not to create an obstacle for other candidates.
The source told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed news website that the letter included a blunt warning to Al-Maliki which said: "Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki your insistence to run for a third term embarrasses us, because if you do not give up and give way to someone else, we will have to mention you by name in a statement and embarrass you as an undesirable person."

Fugitive Iraqi leader warns against third term for Al Maliki
Piotr Zalewski, The National (UAE), July 17, 2014

Tariq Al Hashemi fled Iraq in 2012 after being accused of running a Sunni death squad, a charge he denies. He found refuge in Turkey and was later sentenced to death in absentia by an Iraqi court.
Speaking to The National by phone, Mr Al Hashemi insisted that the crisis gripping Iraq would only grow worse if prime minister Nouri Al Maliki returned for a third term as premier. “Voting for Maliki is a vote for splitting Iraq,” he said, commenting on the efforts to form a new government in Baghdad. “This gentleman has been the main cause of the instability.”

The Sunni politician also stressed that the wider international community shared the blame for Iraq’s descent into chaos. Human rights organisations have documented the deterioration of human rights during Mr Al Maliki’s time in power, he said, “but all those countries that invaded my country in 2003 and talked about respecting human rights, transparency and democratic values, which Iraqis accepted, they did not follow up”.
If the outside world is genuinely committed to Iraq’s stability, he added, it should stop focusing on the Islamic State alone and tackle Shiite extremism as well. “It is one of the eye-catching double standards of the western countries,” he said. “They’re focusing on Sunni terrorism, but there is also Shia terrorism....
“Over the past eight years, we lost hope and democracy in the political process because of the inhuman situation that my people are living in, because of the widespread corruption, because of the loss of opportunities for improving living standards and services,” he said. “If we lose hope in the political process, what is left? What is left is extremism.”

Flashback 2013: Iraq's fugitive Sunni VP Tareq al-Hashemi
officially resigns from his post 31-12-2013

ANKARA,— Exiled Iraqi Sunni vice president Tareq al-Hashemi has announced his official resignation from post and has backed Sunni protesters from the Anbar province against Nouri al-Maliki’s government. Hashemi announced his resignation on his official Facebook page, Basnews reported.
“I have announced my resignation from my post as Iraqi vice president and today and state my support for relatives in Anbar province,” he wrote. “My post doesn’t have any values anymore and Iraq’s political process is stuck in the mud and a man by the name of Nouri Maliki has controlled it,” he added.
In recent days tensions and protests against Maliki have engulfed the western province of Anbar after Iraqi authorities arrested Iraqi Sunni MP Ahmed Alwani and killed his brother on charges of helping Sunni militants.

Hashemi stated last October that Iraqi Premier Nouri al-Maliki has become "not only a danger against the future of the country, but against its unity, as well as the stability of the region". He pointed out that Iraq is witnessing "the worst government in its modern history, characterized with the deterioration of public services, social justice, security and foreign policies".

Iraq: Alusi calls Maliki not to be a tool to divide Iraq
NINA News, 19/07/2014

BAGHDAD / NINA / The head of the Civic Democratic Alliance, Mithal al-Alusi called Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki not to be a regional tool for sectarian division of Iraq and a cause of shedding blood in the country.
He told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / that he call on al-Maliki to realize that intransigence and cling to power means dividing and destroy Iraq, and he has to choose either to go down in history as the leader of the sectarian bloodshed and division or to enter as a national democratic leader who pushed for the peaceful power transferring."
Alusi expressed hope that "al-Maliki not to be an Iranian tool or any other regional tool to divide Iraq." Adding, "I say it for the Sunnis and the Shiites who raise sectarian slogans not to be a tool for implementing Biden's criminal scheme, who is seeking to break up Iraq."

Biden is a self-described Zionist. During the interview conducted by the U.S. Jewish television cable network Shalom TV, Biden said, "I am a Zionist. You don't have to be a Jew to be a Zionist."
He is highly supportive of the state of Israel and views Israel as a strategic ally in the Middle East. He stated that "the Arab nations have known that there is no daylight between us and Israel." Regarding support for Israel within the Democratic Party, Biden has stated that the Democrats' support for Israel "comes from our gut, moves through our heart, and ends up in our head. It's almost genetic." In September 2008, Biden stated "A strong America is a strong Israel. I have a 35-year record of supporting Israel, and Israel's security is enhanced the stronger America is." (WIKIPEDIA info)

Hakim: No negotiations
Shafaq News, 19-7-2013

The Head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, Ammar al-Hakim rejected on Saturday any negotiations with the parties calling for toppling the political process in the country..., referring to the conference that had been held by opponents of the government in Amman.
He stressed that "we cannot sit with those who do not accept us and do not recognize the agreed constitution by the components of the Iraqi people, because the debate will not lead to a result and cannot predict the topics that will be addressed with these parties."

Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (previously the party was known as the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI)) is an Iraqi Shia Islamist Iraqi political party. It was estabilished in Iran in the 1980s. The Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council became one of Iraq's most powerful political parties and was the largest party in the Iraqi Council of Representatives until the 2010 Iraqi elections, where it lost support due to Nuri Al-Maliki's political party rise. Today the party is led by Sayyid Ammar al-Hakim.
Previously ISCI's militia wing was the Badr Brigade... After the departure of Badr Brigade, ISCI created a militia called the Knights of Hope.

The Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution of Iraq was founded in Iran in 1982 during the Iran–Iraq War. The Iranian Islamic revolutionary government arranged for the formation of SCIRI, which was based in exile in Tehran and under the leadership of Mohammad-Baqir al-Hakim.
MB-Al-Hakim declared the primary aim of the council to be the overthrow of the Ba'ath and the establishment of an Islamic government in Iraq. Iranian officials referred to Hakim as the leader of Iraq's future Islamic state...
SCIRI supports the ideologies of Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that Islamic Government must be controlled by the ulema (Islamic scholars).

The party leaders have toned down many of the party's public positions and committed it to democracy and peaceful cooperation.... In a statement released May 11, 2007 SCIRI officials told Reuters the Islamist party would change its name to reflect what they called the changing situation in Iraq, removing the word "Revolution" because that was seen as a reference to overthrowing the Ba'athist government.

The common interest between the United States and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution has been fierce opposition to Saddam Hussein's government.
Over time, that has brought them closer together, most importantly in 1999, when President Clinton formally designated the group as one among seven Iraq opposition group eligible to receive tens of millions of dollars in American funding under the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (a United States Congressional statement of policy calling for regime change in Iraq). (New York Times, 7-5-2003)

William J. Clinton: Statement on Signing the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998
Today (October 31, 1998 ) I am signing into law H.R. 4655, the "Iraq Liberation Act of 1998." This Act makes clear that it is the sense of the Congress that the United States should support those elements of the Iraqi opposition that advocate a very different future for Iraq than the bitter reality of internal repression and external aggression that the current regime in Baghdad now offers. (American presidency project)