Saddam's Death, 112 (jan-febr 2018)
attempt to destroy political holism in the middle east

See also: Page 111: jan 2018-part 2 and Page 113: febr-2018-part-2
Israel & The Temple Revolution & Unesco & the Temple

Regime Change in Iraq - Overview 2002/2003
Trump & the Pisces Messiah - Kennedy Speech 1961 - Eisenhower's Social Gospel
"I Have, I Rule and I will Destroy" - Iran & the dialogue of civilizations
Netanyahu & Infantilization of Israel
Jesus & Pophet Muhammed: "Be a stranger in the world" - Ideological Warfare Center
Jewish fundamentalism in the State of Palestine - Palestinian Martyrs and Jewish Heroes
The Balfour Declaration - Trump's move on Jerusalem (2017)
Abbas & Trump's "slap of the century"
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)

"The national security of America and the security of the world could be attained if the American leaders [..] become rational, if America disengages itself from its evil alliance with Zionism, which has been scheming to exploit the world and plunge it in blood and darkness, by using America and some Western countries.
What the American peoples need mostly is someone who tells them the truth, courageously and honestly as it is.
They don’t need fanfares and cheerleaders, if they want to take a lesson from the (sept. 11) event so as to reach a real awakening, in spite of the enormity of the event that hit America.
But the world, including the rulers of America, should say all this to the American peoples, so as to have the courage to tell the truth and act according to what is right and not what to is wrong and unjust, to undertake their responsibilities in fairness and justice, and by recourse to reason..."

Saddam Hussein, INA 15-9-2002

"The despot thinks he is just as God... What a nadir and mean fate!
The despot, as represented in this age, in our day, imagines he can enslave the people..
But they were born free. They were freed by God’s will through prophets and messengers, to be slaves only to Him and not to anyone of the people." Saddam Hussein, Iraq Daily 4-3-2003

A person with a God Complex may refuse to admit the possibility of their error or failure, even in the face of irrefutable evidence, intractable problems or difficult or impossible tasks.
The person is also highly dogmatic in their views, meaning the person speaks of their personal opinions as though they are unquestionably correct.
Someone with a god complex may exhibit no regard for the conventions and demands of society, and may request special consideration or privileges.

"That is the issue that will continue in this country... It is the eternal struggle between these two principles -- right and wrong -- throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time, and will ever continue to struggle.
The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings." Abraham Lincoln (October 15, 1858 Debate at Alton, Illinois)

"Happy day, when, all appetites controlled, all poisons subdued, all matter subjected, mind, all conquering mind, shall live and move the monarch of the world. Glorious consummation! Hail fall of Fury! Reign of Reason, all hail!" Abraham Lincoln (February 22, 1842 Temperance Address)

"...To be a human being among human beings, and remain one forever, no matter what misfortunes befall, not to become depressed, and not to falter - this is what life is, herein lies its task." Fyodor Dostoevsky (to his brother Mikhail, Dec. 22, 1849)

All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.
Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly.
“Do not therefore do injustice to yourselves. Remember one day you will meet Allah and answer your deeds. So beware, do not astray from the path of righteousness after I am gone." Prophet Muhammad, Last Sermon

According to the Qur’an, arrogance is a sin

"You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers [to be] the Jews and those who associate others with Allah ; and you will find the nearest of them in affection to the believers those who say, "We are Christians." That is because [..] they are not arrogant." Quran Al-Maidah, 5-82

“Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you can not retain.”

Saadi Shirazi
(Persian poet & humanist, born in Shiraz, Iran, c. 1210)

Page Index

"Holism is the most fundamental discovery of 20th century science. It is a discovery of every science from astrophysics to quantum physics to environmental science to psychology to anthropology.
It is the discovery that the entire universe is an integral whole, and that the basic organizational principle of the universe is the field principle: the universe consists of fields within fields, levels of wholeness and integration that mirror in fundamental ways, and integrate with, the ultimate, cosmic whole...."
"For many thinkers and religious teachers throughout this history, holism was the dominant thought, and the harmony that it implies has most often been understood to encompass cosmic, civilizational, and personal dimensions. Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Lord Krishna, Lao Tzu, and Confucius all give us visions of transformative harmony, a transformative harmony that derives from a deep relation to the holism of the cosmos."

About political holism

Political holism is based on the recognition that "we" are all members of a single whole. There's no "they," even though "we" are not all alike. Because "we" are all part of the whole, and therefore interdependent, we benefit from cooperating with each other. Political holism is a way of thinking about human cultures and nations as interdependent.
Political holists search for solutions other than war to settle international disagreements. Their model of the world is one in which cooperation and negotiation, even with the enemy, even with the weak, promotes political stability more than warfare.
In an overpopulated world with planet-wide environmental problems, the development of weapons of mass destruction has rendered war obsolete as an effective means to resolve disputes.

Political dualists consider political holists unpatriotic for questioning the necessity to defeat "them." In times of impending war, political dualists tend to measure patriotism by the intensity of one's hostility to the country's immediate enemy.
Naturally, they would view as disloyalty any suggestion that the enemy is not evil, any call for cooperation with the enemy, any criticism of one's own country.
To political dualists, cooperation with the enemy means capitulation, relinquishment of the nation's position of dominance.
At its extreme, political dualism is essentially tribalism. (Betty Craige, 16-8-1997)

Desmond Tutu & Ubuntu

"A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed."
"We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World.
When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity." (Ubuntu info)

Erykah Badu: 'I'm not antisemitic' but 'I saw something good in Hitler'
Maria Puente, The Jerusalem Post, January 25 2018

hitler's paintings

R&B singer Erykah Badu was trending Wednesday and not in a good way: She suggested in an interview that maybe Hitler wasn't all bad, in part because he was a "wonderful painter".
She said this in a long interview with Vulture published Wednesday, in which she talked about many subjects, including her 2008 visit to Israel where she said she supported the Palestinian cause and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, despite his alleged antisemitism.
"I’m OK with anything I had to say about Louis Farrakhan," she told her interlocutor, David Marchese.
"But I’m not an anti-Semitic person. I don’t even know what anti-Semitic was before I was called it. I’m a humanist. I see good in everybody. I saw something good in Hitler."

Apparently stupified, Marchese responded: "Come again?"
"Yeah, I did. Hitler was a wonderful painter," Badu said.
"No, he wasn't!" Marchese snapped back. Even if he were, he said, what does that have to do with whether there's any "good" in him?
Then Badu, 46, went off on a convoluted explanation of her views, which suggested that since Hitler supposedly had a terrible childhood, she could empathize with an abused child. "I guess it’s just the Pisces in me," she said. [Born 26-2-1971: Sun in Pisces, Moon in Pisces...]

Marchese said "going down the route of 'Hitler was a child once, too' is maybe turning the idea of empathy into an empty abstraction."
"Maybe so," Badu said. "It doesn’t test my limits — I can see this clearly. I don’t care if the whole group says something, I’m going to be honest. I know I don’t have the most popular opinion sometimes."

Badu also had some sympathetic words for Bill Cosby, and never mind the dozens of allegations that he drugged and/or raped women going back to the mid-1960s.
"I love Bill Cosby," she said. "I love what he’s done for the world. But if he’s sick, why would I be angry with him? The people who got hurt, I feel so bad for them. I want them to feel better, too. But sick people do evil things; hurt people hurt people..."

In Judaism Satan is an agent of God

In Christianity, Satan is an enemy of God, an opposing force, and something very bad. In Christianity, Satan has a level of power that is considered almost equal to that of God.
However, in Judaism Satan is an agent of God, created by God for a specific purpose, and something very good. Satan is simply an agent of God, just as all the other angels are simply agents of God.
If we take a look at Isaiah 45:7, we see that Hashem [God] is the creator of everything, as the text says, “bringing forth light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil, I am God who does all these things.”
In the Jewish bible, everything is under the jurisdiction of God and under His power – all forces, even evil forces. Everything comes from God, He created everything, good and evil.
That being the case, Satan is not a rival of God, he is a messenger of God and unable to do anything outside of God’s will.

In contrast to Christian literature, where Satan is understood to be an evil force, the enemy of God, in Jewish literature, he is seen as a blessing to the Jewish people. Why?
Let’s consider for a moment what Satan means. As mentioned before, the word Satan not only means an adversary, but a stumbling block or an obstacle.
What exactly is an obstacle? It is something which is put in our path requiring us to overcome it. Obstacles in this life give us opportunities to stretch our muscles and to grow...
This evil inclination, or Satan, provides friction. Can you imagine a world with no friction, no resistance? Think about a car, how does it go? It is the friction between the tires and the road that allow the car to make progress, to go forward. Now, to the tires the friction is not necessarily a positive thing, the friction slowly destroys the tire, and yet without the friction, the tire is worthless.
If there is no resistance to overcome, we have no environment for growth. When we come up against an obstacle, either we crash into it and fall (definitely a negative experience – the evil inclination) or you have to climb over it, and by climbing over these obstacles in life, we develop our spiritual muscles, so to speak. If we never exercise our muscles, we atrophy.
So these forces in the world, these experiences, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable, are positive and important.

To reiterate, in the Jewish bible, everything was created by God, both good and evil and everything is under G-d’s control.
In Judaism Satan is an agent of God, who provides opportunities for us to grow, to respond to our passions and desires by producing things of value in this world and to become stronger spiritual people. opens itself to the questions and concerns of our readership, provides answers from Rabbis around the globe, and seeks to further the Jewish education of the Jews who are asking for more.

Haley: Abbas lacks 'courage and the will' to seek 'real peace'
By Max Greenwood, The Hill, 25-1-2018

Extensively documented, relying mostly on Zionist, British, and Israeli sources, 'Might over Right' makes a crucial contribution to the growing effort to challenge the simplistic and reductive accounts in media and scholarship in the West, one of the principal causes of the perpetuation of the conflict.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, delivered on Thursday a scathing rebuke of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, saying that he lacks the "courage and the will" to strive for a lasting peace deal with the Israelis.
Speaking at a U.N. Security Council meeting, Haley assailed Abbas for abandoning the landmark Oslo Accord and turning his back on the prospect of U.S.-brokered peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.
She said that Abbas had "insulted" President Trump and advanced wild conspiracy theories in a speech before the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Central Council earlier this month.
"In his speech, President Abbas declared the landmark Oslo Peace Accords dead," Haley said. "He rejected any American role in peace talks. He insulted the American president. He called for suspending recognition of Israel. He invoked an ugly and fictional past, reaching back to the 17th century, to paint Israel as a colonialist project engineered by European powers."

Haley's remarks underscored deepening tensions between Washington and Ramallah, as well as the increasing difficulty that Trump faces in his stated mission to mediate a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Those tensions soared in December, after Trump formally recognized [a united] Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move that reversed decades of U.S. policy and prompted anger throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds.
The Trump administration has sought in recent weeks to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table with the Israelis, threatening steep aid cuts if Ramallah continued to reject the U.S. as a mediator for talks.
Earlier this month, the State Department announced that it would withhold $65 million in funding to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, the organization charged with assisting Palestinian refugees. That amounts to more than half of a planned $125 million tranche of funding to the agency.
Speaking alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, Trump suggested that more funding cuts for the Palestinians could come soon if they do not return to peace talks.
"That money is on the table and that money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace," Trump said.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Abbas, told CNN on Thursday, however, that the Palestinians would not recognize the U.S. as a mediator in any negotiations with Israel. "If Jerusalem is off the table, then America is off the table as well," he said.

Syria managed to retain its sovereignty,
says Russia's UN ambassador
TASS Russian News Agency, January 25, 2018

Syria has remained a sovereign state, and a peace settlement of the conflict under UN auspices has begun, Russian UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya told a session of the UN Security Council on Thursday.
"Due to a decisive role of the Russian Aerospace Troops, the government forces have cleansed the country of gunmen from the terrorist group IS [Islamic State, outlawed in Russia]," the Russian permanent representative said.
"Syria has kept its sovereignty as a state, conditions have been created for the return of refugees and internally displaced persons, a political settlement of the crisis has begun under UN auspices," he went on to say.
The Russian diplomat said the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, due in Russia’s Sochi on January 29-30, will contribute to the settlement. Nebenzya said Moscow expects the forum to "give a new impetus to the Geneva process".
Around 1,500 participants representing various Syrian political forces are expected to take part in the event. The forum will focus on the development of a new Syrian constitution and holding of a UN-supported election based on it.

Syrian Opposition to Boycott National Dialogue Congress in Sochi
Sputnik News, 27-1-2018

Syria’s main opposition group, the Syrian Negotiation Commission, will skip this month’s National Dialogue Congress in the Russian city of Sochi, the opposition's umbrella organization, the High Negotiations Committee, said Saturday.
The Sochi peace conference is scheduled for January 30. Russia has invited more than 1,500 representatives of the Syrian society to take part in the event. The United Nations and several regional and international organizations have been offered observer roles.
The goal of the gathering is to bring together opposition and pro-government forces as well as representatives of Syria's numerous ethnic and religious groups. The congress lets the participators discuss their vision of Syria's future in a bid to advance the peace process.
Meanwhile, UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said that he had inquired about UN presence at the peace conference with UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Moscow said it expects the UN chief to respond positively to observer role at the congress.

NO to Iran, NO to Baathism, NO to Arab Nationalism, NO to the Syrian Arab Army

The High Negotiations Committee (HNC), led by Nasr al-Hariri, is an umbrella body which was created to represent the Syrian opposition in the planned Geneva peace talks in 2016. The HNC was founded in December 2015 at a conference held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. At the end of the conference, a joint statement was issued to confirm the formation of "a High Negotiations Committee for the Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (HNC), with its headquarters in Riyadh.
Main principle: Seeking to overthrow the Assad regime with all its symbols and pillars, dismantling its security apparatus and bodies and holding perpetrators of crimes against the Syrian people to account. The coalition will do everything in its power to reach the goal of overthrowing the Assad regime and bring victory to the revolution.

The HNC has faced criticism from Russia because it includes groups like Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam. Its transition plan in September 2016 was also criticized by the opposition Kurdish National Council and the Assyrian Democratic Organization due to it not addressing minority ethnic groups in Syria. The Kurdish National Council withdrew from the HNC on 29 March 2017 in protest to the latter's opposition to federalism and human rights for Kurds in Syria.

Act now on Iran, Saudi Arabia tells UN
Arab News, Saturday 27 January 2018

Saudi Arabia has told the UN Security Council that any recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will only increase tension in the Middle East, weakening hopes of reaching a comprehensive and lasting two-state solution.
In the Kingdom’s speech on Thursday during an open debate on “the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question,” Riyadh’s ambassador to the UN, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, also urged the UN to take a firm stance on Iran and show that the international community would not tolerate the terrorist practices destabilizing international and regional peace. “It is also time to deal seriously with Hezbollah and detect its terrorist operations in Syria, Lebanon and other parts of the world,” he said...
He warned that Iran continued to blatantly interfere in the internal affairs of Arab countries, including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, spreading and supporting terrorism.
Iran was the main supporter of the terrorist Hezbollah group and supported the Houthi rebels in Yemen, smuggling missiles that were targeted against Saudi Arabia. About 90 missiles had been launched against Saudi cities.
He said Saudi Arabia has sought to unite the Syrian opposition and encourage it to speak with one voice.
Al-Mouallimi said the suffering in Syria would continue while the country’s ruling regime, backed by Iran’s military and Hezbollah terrorist forces, worked to destroy the Syrian people.

Saudi Arabia sentences human rights activists to prison
Reuters, 27-1-2018

A Saudi court has sentenced human rights activists Mohammad al-Otaibi and Abdullah al-Attawi to 14 and seven years in prison respectively, rights group Amnesty International reported on Thursday. The Saudi activists had faced charges including setting up an independent organisation and making statements harmful to the kingdom.
Amnesty said Otaibi and Attawi were the first human rights defenders sentenced under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.
Otaibi was arrested at Doha airport and deported from Qatar to Saudi Arabia in May after he tried to fly with his wife to Norway where he had been granted political asylum.
Amnesty said the list of charges against them included setting up an organisation before receiving authorization, spreading chaos, inciting public opinion and publishing statements harmful to the kingdom and its institutions.
“The harsh sentencing of Mohammad al-Otaibi and Abdullah al-Attawi, who should never have been prosecuted in the first place, confirms our fears that the new leadership of Mohamed Bin Salman is determined to silence civil society and human rights defenders in the Kingdom,” Amnesty’s Middle East director Samah Hadid said in a statement.
Crown Prince Mohammed has taken power in Western-allied Saudi Arabia, pushing a reform agenda aimed at weaning the country off oil wealth and introducing social changes.
Since the 2011 Arab Spring, Saudi authorities have stepped up efforts to curb dissent with tough new cybercrime laws, sentencing offenders to prison terms for online posts deemed insulting to the kingdom or threatening to public order.
An absolute monarchy, Saudi Arabia bans political parties and public forms of protest and has sentenced members of a civil rights organisation who campaigned for a constitutional monarchy to decades in prison.

Saudi Arabia: Authorities continue
systematic targeting of human rights defenders
Gulf Center for Human Rights, 26-1-2018

The Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) condemns in the strongest terms the authorities in Saudi Arabia for continuing to systematically target human rights defenders.
We believe that it is a shame that a member state of the UN Human Rights Council has imprisoned two just and courageous human rights defenders for setting up a human rights organisation that operates peacefully according to local and international laws. GCHR calls upon the UN and its member states to remove Saudi Arabia from the Human Rights Council because its presence on this body is a travesty.
GCHR calls on the authorities in Saudi Arabia to: Immediately and unconditionally revoke the sentences against Mohammed Abdullah Al-Otaibi and Abdullah Madhi Al-Attawi and drop all charges against them; and immediately release Mohammed Abdullah Al-Otaibi, as well as all human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia whose detention relates only to the peaceful and legitimate work in the promotion and protection of human rights.

Background: Mohammad al-Otaibi and Abdullah al-Attawi were brought to trial before the SCC in October 2016.
They were presented with a list of charges that include, among other things, “participating in setting up an organization and announcing it before getting an authorization”, “dividing national unity, spreading chaos and inciting public opinion by preparing, drafting and publishing statements that are harmful to the reputation of the Kingdom and its judicial and security institutions”, and “publishing information about their interrogations despite signing pledges to refrain from doing so. (

Life Slowly Returns to Aleppo, Shattered By Syrian Civil War
By Bassem Mroue, AINA News, 27-1-2018

ALEPPO, Syria (AP) -- Aleppo's largest square was packed with people of all ages: young men performing a folk dance, children playing, others buying ice cream, popcorn, peanuts and salted pumpkin seeds. A giant sign spelled out in colorful English letters, "I love Aleppo."
The scene in Saadallah al-Jabiri Square on a recent day was very different from what it was during nearly four years of war that wrecked Syria's largest city: Rebel sniper fire and shelling -- and a triple car bombing that killed dozens -- had made it a no-go zone. For years, the square stood near the front line dividing the government-held western half of Aleppo from the rebel-held eastern half.
Thirteen months after government forces captured the east and crushed the rebels, improvements are coming to Aleppo -- but only slowly. The guns are silent, allowing life to return to the streets. Water and electricity networks are better.
The devastation of Aleppo was so great, the civilian flight was so big and the political division was so deep that residents find it difficult to imagine it could ever return to what it was. Eastern Aleppo remains in ruins. Its streets have been cleared of rubble but there's been little rebuilding of the blocks of destroyed or badly damaged buildings.

With a prewar population of 2.3 million, Aleppo not only was Syria's largest city but also its commercial center. More than that, it had a culture all of its own within Syria. Aleppans take enormous pride in their own accent of Syrian Arabic and their city's famed cuisine of roast meats and mezze appetizers. Its history spans millennia, and tourists were drawn by its historic citadel, Ummayad Mosque and covered bazaar.
But it became one of the most vicious battlegrounds of Syria's still ongoing war. In July 2012, rebels stormed eastern parts of the city, where they were welcomed by many of its poorer residents.
In 2016, government forces backed by Russian airstrikes surrounded the enclave... In December 2016, the rebels surrendered. They were sent to opposition territory elsewhere..

Most of the factories in Aleppo's 15 industrial districts are still closed, damaged either by looting or from bombardment by government forces. Despite the relative peace, insurgents on Aleppo's western outskirts fire shells occasionally. That has slowed the return of production at Lairamoun, an industrial district only few hundred meters (yards) from rebel positions.
Ghassan Nazi, owner of a textile factory in Lairamoun, said that once the rebels are pushed back, he will reopen his business. Touring the now-silent factory, he said it was used as a prison by an Islamist rebel faction called the Badr Martyrs. He said he's suffered some $5 million in losses.
He blames "neighboring countries" that he said plotted to destroy Aleppo as an economic engine. He didn't identify the countries but many government supporters use the phrase to refer to opposition-backer Turkey. "They simply want to turn us from producers to consumers," he said.

In western Aleppo, where damage was lighter, there's a feeling of liberation from life under warfare. Power comes several hours a day and will soon run around the clock. Sand berms that were set up on many streets have been removed, and security checkpoints have been pulled from the heart of the city to its entrances, freeing traffic.
Im el-Nour, a 51-year-old woman who drives a taxi -- the only female cab driver in the city, she says -- has seen a boost in work. She can now operate in the east, where conservative women call her for their errands to avoid riding with a male driver. El-Nour also works as a DJ at women-only parties or weddings, which have become more frequent now with the relative peace.
Between her two jobs, el-Nour -- who is divorced and whose son was killed while fighting in Assad's army -- makes more than $100 a month, a bit more than a typical civil servant. "Aleppo will again become the jewel of the Middle East," she boasted.

The Dirty War on Syria
by Professor Tim Anderson, Global Research, 13-6-2017

In the Dirty War on Syria, western culture in general abandoned its better traditions of reason, the maintenance of ethical principle and the search for independent evidence at times of conflict; in favour of its worst traditions: the ‘imperial prerogative’ for intervention, backed by deep racial prejudice and poor reflection on the histories of their own cultures.

That weakness was reinforced by a ferocious campaign of war propaganda. After the demonisation of Syrian leader Bashar al Assad began, a virtual information blockade was constructed against anything which might undermine the wartime storyline. Very few sensible western perspectives on Syria emerged after 2011, as critical voices were effectively blacklisted.
In that context I came to write my book. It is a defence of Syria, not primarily addressed to those who are immersed the western myths but to others who engage with them. This is therefore a resource book and a contribution to the history of the Syrian conflict.
The western stories have become self-indulgent and I believe it is wasteful to indulge them too much. Best, I think, to speak of current events as they are, then address the smokescreens later. I do not ignore the western myths, in fact this book documents many of them.

Western mythology relies on the idea of imperial prerogatives, asking what must ‘we’ do about the problems of another people; an approach which has no basis in international law or human rights.
The next steps involve a series of fabrications about the pretexts, character and events of the war. The first pretext over Syria was that the NATO states and the Gulf monarchies were supporting a secular and democratic revolution.
When that seemed implausible the second story was that they were saving the oppressed majority ‘Sunni Muslim’ population from a sectarian ‘Alawite regime’.
Then, when sectarian atrocities by anti-government forces attracted greater public attention, the pretext became a claim that there was a shadow war: ‘moderate rebels’ were said to be actually fighting the extremist groups. Western intervention was therefore needed to bolster these ‘moderate rebels’ against the ‘new’ extremist group that had mysteriously arisen and posed a threat to the world. That was the ‘B’ story. No doubt Hollywood will make movies based on this meta-script, for years to come.

However this book leads with the ‘A’ story. Proxy armies of Islamists, armed by US regional allies (mainly Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey), infiltrate a political reform movement and snipe at police and civilians. They blame this on the government and spark an insurrection, seeking the overthrow of the Syrian government and its secular-pluralist state.
This follows the openly declared ambition of the US to create a ‘New Middle East’, subordinating every country of the region, by reform, unilateral disarmament or direct overthrow. Syria was next in line, after Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
In Syria, the proxy armies would come from the combined forces of the Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi fanatics. Despite occasional power struggles between these groups and their sponsors, they share much the same Salafist ideology, opposing secular or nationalist regimes and seeking the establishment of a religious state.
However in Syria Washington’s Islamists confronted a disciplined national army which did not disintegrate along religious lines, despite many provocations. The Syrian state also had strong allies in Russia and Iran. Syria was not to be Libya Take Two...

In a hoped-for ‘end game’ the big powers sought overthrow of the Syrian state or, failing that, the creation of a dysfunctional state or dismembering into sectarian statelets, thus breaking the axis of independent regional states.
That axis comprises Hezbollah in south Lebanon and the Palestinian resistance, alongside Syria and Iran, the only states in the region without US military bases.
More recently Iraq – still traumatised from western invasion, massacres and occupation – has begun to align itself with this axis. Russia too has begun to play an important counter-weight role. Recent history and conduct demonstrate that neither Russia nor Iran harbour any imperial ambitions...

From the point of view of the ‘Axis of Resistance’, defeat of the dirty war on Syria means that the region can begin closing ranks against the big powers. Syria’s successful resistance would mean the beginning of the end for Washington’s ‘New Middle East’.

Wikipedia info: The term Axis of Resistance was used by the Libyan daily newspaper Al-Zahf Al-Akhdar in response to American president George W. Bush's claim that Iran, Iraq and North Korea formed an "axis of evil." In an article titled "Axis of evil or axis of resistance," the paper wrote in 2002 that "the only common denominator among Iran, Iraq and North Korea is their resistance to US hegemony."

Abadi: Citizens Are Equal
All Iraqis are citizens of the first degree
National Iraqi News Agency, 27/01/2018

BAGHDAD / NINA / - Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said there were those who wanted us not to win, but the steadfastness and the will of the Iraqis and their unity wasted it and achieved victory and liberated our territories.
"In Iraq there is great freedom for the media and the press, and we want to preserve that," he said in a speech at the inauguration of 'Baghdad, capital of Arab media'.
He added, "We want the media to exercise the control unit and the freedom of media cannot be exploited to spread corruption and harm the media itself,"
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi stressed that citizens are equal: "Citizens are equal and the state does not look at their affiliations and beliefs, and all Iraqis are citizens of the first degree," Abadi said.
Abadi said that the mythic state (Daesh) wanted to raise the banner of expansion and terrorism, but we got rid of it and we defeat it in Iraq.
"The misuse of power and the post is also corruption," he added. "We have to stand with the weak and the oppressed and we are all responsible for fighting corruption.
He said, "The media and the press are primarily responsible to present the truth and show the bright side of it, because some want to erase it absolutely".
Abadi praised the martyrs and the wounded of the media and all those who gave their lives to convey the truth.

On July 12, 2017 the Council of Arab Information Ministers chose the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, as the Capital of Arab Media for 2018.
This decision came at the conclusion of the 48th ordinary session of the Council of Arab Information Ministers which was held at the headquarter of the General Secretariat of the Arab League in Cairo and which was chaired by Tunisia.
The Capital of Arab Media is to raise the efficiency of media and media professionals in the Arab countries through training and workshops as well as discussions and dialogue on a range of issues.
Last year, the Executive Council of Arab Information Ministers chose Jerusalem as the Arab Media Capital for 2017, before the Council announced in November of the same year that the city itself would be a permanent capital of Arab media in support of the Palestinian cause. (Middle East Monitor)

Iraqi PM Abadi on elections, corruption and Kurdistan
By Turki Aldakhil, Al-Arabiya, 29-1-2018

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has insisted that the general elections will go ahead as planned, calling it a “constitutional commitment” that should be fulfilled.
Abadi, speaking on the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for May, “regardless of the results, our goal is to form a professional team” away from the quota system, which defines the ethnic representation in the Iraqi governance system.
In an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya’s General Manager Turki al-Dakhil, the prime minister said the political process should rely “on the basis of citizenship,” pointing to the ongoing political change happening in Iraq, and how its influencing Iraqis to reject the “sectarian logic”.
Abadi also spoke of his relationship with his predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki, and the impact it had on the Islamic Dawa party.
He said during the interview that the recent differences between the Dawa Party was because of al-Maliki’s refusal of Abadi running for elections on the party’s list, resulting with the party being left of the list of those participating in the upcoming vote. “The majority of the Dawa Party supported me, but Maliki wanted the party to be with him,” Abadi said.

On the topic of corruption, the Iraqi leader said that the biggest challenge in the coming period lies in tackling the “waste of resources, poor planning and seizing the state’s money”. “Corruption is costing billions of dollars to Iraq,” Abadi said. “Corrupt individuals want the state to remain weak to ensure their survival.”
Speaking of the Kurdistan region, the prime minister explained that “the government is required to pay salaries to the Kurdistan region,” and that “the technical committees are working on it.” But at the same time, he questioned where the oil revenues of the region are being allocated, saying: “We asked about the fate of the oil revenues in Kurdistan and couldn’t find an answer.”
On the war against ISIS, Abadi said that Iraq today is stronger after its recent victories against the extremist group, “which attempted to eliminate the minorities in Iraq and divide the people.” “In order to prevail we must tolerate, and ensure the return of minorities and clans.”

Flashback: Dawa party confirms standing by the Syrian people
against the domination of Baath Party. Nina News, 31-08-2012

Baghdad / NINA /--Islamic Dawa party headed by prime minister Nuri al-Maliki confirmed standing by the Syrian people in its legitimate struggle for freedom and achieving full rights in choosing their representatives away from a one-party ruling and the dominance of the fascist tyrannical Baath Party.

WIKIPEDIA Info: Al-Dawa was formed in 1957 by a group of Shi'ite leaders... Their aim was to create a party and a movement which would promote Islamic values and ethics, political awareness, combat secularism, and create an Islamic state in Iraq. This came at a time when politics in Iraq was dominated by secularist Arab nationalist and socialist ideas. Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr emerged as the leading member.
Al-Dawa gained strength in the 1970s. It waged an armed insurgency against the Iraqi government which initiated a crackdown on Shi'a political activism, driven in part by the secular nature of the Ba'thist ideology and in part by their view of a politicized Shi'a as a threat to the stability of the regime.

Dawa supported the Islamic Revolution in Iran.. Despite this cooperation, al-Sadr's and Khomenei's visions of an Islamic Republic differed sharply in certain respects. While Khomeini argued the power of the state should rest with the ulema (Muslim scholars), al-Dawa supported the notion of power resting with the ummah, or in other words, the people.

Step forward’ from Geneva talks
Syrian democratic party praises Sochi Congress
By Al-Masdar News Desk, 30/01/2018

Leader of the Law–Citizenship–Rights Movement political party, Haytham Manna, praised the opportunity for all involved parties to finally hold direct talks at the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi on Monday.
Manna stressed that, “Any breakthrough that can be carried out for the sake of strengthening the political solution, we view as a move forward.” He went on to say that the congress is “a step forward that was not implemented in Geneva”, for it has given the opportunity for all involved parties to communicate face-to-face. Manna said, “We sit in front of each other, arguing with each other, shouting at each other, talking well with each other, talking frankly.”
The Law–Citizenship–Rights Movement (QMH) is a democratic political party founded in 2015 in northern Syria.
The Syrian National Dialogue Congress is taking place between January 29 and 30. Around 1,600 delegates representing the entire spectrum of Syria’s political, civil and ethno-confessional forces have been invited to participate in the congress.
More than 1,300 people from Syria are reportedly attending the congress, including representatives of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party and the National Progressive Front.
Representatives of the internal opposition from Damascus are reportedly also in attendance. Some 300 members of the external opposition are reportedly participating, including the ‘Moscow Platform’ and ‘Astana Platform.’ A special group of the so-called ‘reconciled’ illegal armed groups has also been invited to the congress.

A far more nuanced approach to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad
Geoffrey Aronson, Al-Monitor, June 24, 2014

In the foreign policy arena, a re-empowered Egyptian presidency is moving beyond both the somnambulant legacy of the later years of the regime of deposed President Hosni Mubarak and the abbreviated and contentious era of deposed President Mohammed Morsi. Nowhere is this new look in Egypt’s foreign activism more evident than on Syria.
Days before Sisi’s election, a delegation of Syrian opposition figures assembled in Cairo at the invitation of Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy.
Syrian opposition figures are scattered throughout the region, but in Cairo the only permanent resident for many months has been Haytham Maleh, a peripheral player in the Syrian scene.
Haitham Maleh, an opposition figure with close connections to the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and founding member of the executive committee of the Syrian National Council, has called for murdering president Bashar al-Assad, his British wife and three children. Maleh wants the al-Assad family murdered the same way Muammar Gaddafi was.

Those invited to Cairo, however, included former National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces leader Moaz al-Khatib, writer and activist Haytham Manna, economist Aref Dalila, former Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi and film producer Jamal Suliman. These figures are not represented among the exiles of the Syrian National Coalition and their interests set them apart from the organization and its sponsors.
None are close to the Muslim Brotherhood and all advocate a far more nuanced approach to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad based on political engagement, an idea shunned by the “official” opposition but which has grown in importance over the last year.

Haytham Manna, 8-10-2011: "It is no secret to anyone that America absolutely does not want to support a revolution which seeks secular democratic change in the Arab world."

1-6-2013: A number of opposition groups in Syria are now trying to distance themselves from the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, which they say has lost credibility at home. The Coalition’s ex president Moaz al-Khatib has said in an interview with The Independent that he resigned from his post because the Coalition has become “a puppet in the hands of Saudi Arabia and Qatar”. For his defiance, he has since been subject to fierce attacks from the Brotherhood and its allies.... (Voice of Russia)

Ex-Opposition Leader Admits Mistake about
Syrian Gov't, Says Assad Fighting Terrorists
FARS News, 20-11-2014

TEHRAN (FNA)- Former President of the National Coalition for Syrian Opposition Forces Moaz Al-Khatib confessed that his opposition to the Damascus government has been a grave mistake, saying that President Bashar Al-Assad has been fighting against the terrorists.
"I acknowledge that I have made a mistake in the past as I imagined that the western and Arab countries as well as Turkey wanted to help Syria and its people," Turkish news website Ulusal quoted Khatib as saying on his account on a social network.
He wrote that the so-called Friends of Syria are actually the enemies of Syria and terrorists are cooperating with them to destroy Syria.
"I have come to the conclusion that the Syrian government is fighting against the terrorists; it is paying salary to its employees in different parts, supplies electricity and do things that show it is thinking of the people," Khatib said.

Saddam penned a romantic novel
Shafaq News (Iraq), Friday, 26 January 2018

Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s former dictator, penned the 204-page book “Zabiba and the King” using the generic Arabic pen name “He Who Writes,” the Irish Sun reported.
The story, which takes place in Saddam’s hometown, Tikrit, centers on the ruler of medieval Iraq and a beautiful commoner named Zabiba, who’s married to a cruel and unloving husband who forces himself on her against her will.
The story — which became required reading for Iraqi schoolchildren — is believed to be an allegory for the United States’ invasion of Iraq, with Zabiba symbolizing the Iraqi people, her husband symbolizing the United States and the ruler symbolizing Saddam.
The book, available online in English for about $11, was a bestseller in Iraq and was even turned into a musical, the outlet reported.

'King' Saddam musical to hit stage
By Philip Smucker, The Telegraph, 14 Aug 2001

saddam hussein 2001

THE novel apparently written by Saddam Hussein, Zabibah and the King, is to be turned into a patriotic musical in the largest production in modern Iraqi theatre.
The allegorical romance, which glorifies both Saddam and the Iraqi people, will be put to song and dance in the Iraqi National Theatre, a state-run newspaper, Al-Mawed, said.
"This is an epic teaching to love one's homeland, despite all danger," said the paper.
The story, set in the ancient Kingdom of Babylon, unveils a love triangle featuring a cruel husband, thought by Iraqi literary scholars to represent America; a brave wife, a kind of "Everywoman", representing the Iraqi people; and the insecure king, a thin disguise for Saddam.
Iraqi literary scholars say the tale reveals a "softer and more sensitive" side to the dictator.
In the story, the king confesses to feeling isolated, conspired against and out of touch with his people. Only through the insight of his lover, Zabibah, does the king come to understand his own mandate. From the moment ‘Arab meets Zabiba, he is drawn to her simplicity, beauty, and wisdom.
He begins to visit her hut and later invites her to his palace. The two fall into platonic love: they have long talks about life and death, nature and God, and the management of the kingdom. Zabiba, it turns out, is even wiser than the king, persuading him to believe in one God, Allah, and thwarting a succession of devious plots against him.
Then, one night, Zabiba’s own husband attacks and rapes her. The rape is part of a wider plot involving Hezkel and others in his gang. Zabiba, who realizes the magnitude of the conspiracy, rushes to the palace to warn the king of an impending rebellion. The king, in turn, vows to take revenge and save Zabiba’s honor.

The novel, set in what is now northern Iraq centuries before Christ, describes Iraq as the cradle of civilization, the place where Adam and Eve settled after they ''came down from heaven.'' (Indeed, a garden with a gnarled apple tree in southeastern Iraq is advertised as the site of the Garden of Eden).
The novel primarily pays tribute to Zabibah (said to represent the Iraqi people), who is shown on the cover in a flowing one-shoulder blue satin gown, her long brown tresses blowing in the breeze. Doves encircle her. Behind her stand the arches of ancient Babylon.
Struck by her wisdom and intelligence, the king carries on long conversations with her -- about God, politics, love, family, loyalty, betrayal and the will of the people.

The Revolution and Women in Iraq
by Saddam Hussein, 1981

Education of women is not restricted in our country to the primary stages, nor has women's employment been restricted to minor responsibilities. Iraq's five universities include a large proportion of female students and a number of women have acquired high qualifications in medicine and engineering. Some women are now teaching in the universities. Women in Iraq have also reached high positions in the government and become ministers and directors general. ...
The complete emancipation of women from the ties which held them back in the past, during the ages of despotism and ignorance, is a basic aim of the Party and the Revolution. Our society will remain backward and in chains unless its women are liberated, enlightened and educated. (Chapter 1)

Strengthening the economic status of women through both legal rights and social conventions is part of the liberation process.
Strengthening and expanding the conditions which prohibit polygamy is also part of that process. The same can be said about limiting divorce with additional restrictions and wider and stricter conditions.
The expansion of education and the provision of equal opportunities for men and women is another move in that direction. More important than anything is the liberation of women through active work and sincere participation in the reconstruction of society...
Antifeminist acts and ideas should be extensively condemned by men as well as by women in every section of our people. (Chapter 4).

"For the people who havn't read `Zabiba and the king` It might come as a surprise, but Saddam always believed in feminism and emancipation of the women." (Jawa Report, anti-Jihad website)

Syria opposition rejects Sochi constitution plan
Al-Jazeera, 30-1-2018

Participants of a Russia-hosted conference for peace in Syria have agreed to set up a commission to rewrite the war-torn country's constitution.
Staffan de Mistura, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, said on Tuesday that delegates at the two-day conference at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, agreed to include both government and opposition officials in the 150-member committee.
De Mistura said the final agreement on the committee would be reached in the UN-led diplomatic process in Geneva based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254 - which serves as a framework for political transition in Syria.
But the fate of President Bashar al-Assad, a key sticking point that has repeatedly caused ongoing negotiations to fail, was not mentioned in the final statement.

Transitional: A government without popular support

Syria's major opposition groups, who boycotted the event, rejected the proposal.
The main opposition bloc - the Syrian Negotiation Commission (SNC) - accused Assad and Russia, Syria's principal ally, of continuing to use military might and showing no interest in entering into honest negotiations. "We reject the establishment of any constitutional commission at this stage," said Maya Alrahibi, spokeswoman for the SNC.
Instead, the bloc wants the government and the opposition to set up a transitional governing body first, she told Al Jazeera.
"During this transitional stage inside Syria, a constitutional commission can be set up consisting of members selected to represent all of the Syrian people," she said.

Read also: Syria’s dirty secret is that Assad could win in a fair election
The revolution in Syria is far from finished, writes Faisal Al Yafai. But the opposition must understand that if they cannot provide a vision of life after Assad, then millions of Syrians will vote for him. Faisal Al Yafai, The National (UAE), 12-5-2014

Syrian National Dialogue Congress participants adopt statement on country's future. The Syrian people shall determine the future of their country through the ballot box
TASS Russian News Agency, January 31, 2018

Participants of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Russia’s Sochi on Tuesday adopted a 12-point statement outlining the Syrians’ view on their country’s future.
The document says that Syria should preserve its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and its future can be determined only by the people of Syria in elections. The Syrians also requested the UN Secretary General to assist in organizing the work of the constitutional committee, whose mandate will be outlined as part of the Geneva reconciliation process.

-- The participants of the congress have expressed their respect and full commitment for the "sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and unity" of Syria in the first point of the 12-point document: "In this regard no part of the national territory shall be ceded. The people of Syria remain committed to the recovery of the occupied Syrian Golan by all lawful means in accordance with the UN Charter and international law," the document reads.
-- The second point stresses "respect of and full commitment to Syria’s national sovereign equality and rights regarding non-intervention." "Syria shall take its full role in the international community and the region, including as part of the Arab world, in conformity with the UN Charter, and its purposes and principles," it says.
-- In line with the third provision of the final statement, only the people of Syria can decide on their country’s future: "The Syrian people alone shall determine the future of their country by democratic means, through the ballot box, and shall have the exclusive right to choose their own political, economic and social system without external pressure or interference...
-- The participants of the congress believe that Syria should be "a democratic and non-sectarian state based on political pluralism and equal citizenship irrespective of religion, ethnicity and gender."
It should also ensure "full respect for and protection of the rule of law, the separation of powers, judicial independence, the full equality of all citizens, the cultural diversity of the Syrian society, and public freedoms, including freedom of belief...

syria, elections 2012, 2014, 2016

-- Under the seventh point, Syria should have a "strong, unified, meritocratic and national army that carries out its duties in accordance with the constitution and the highest standards." The use of force shall be the exclusive prerogative of competent state institutions," the document reads.
-- In the eighth point, the participants of the congress have declared their "unqualified rejection of terrorism, fanaticism, extremism and sectarianism in all its forms and to tackle conditions conducive to their spread."
- The tenth point notes the "high value placed on Syria’s society and national identity, its history of diversity and the contributions and values that all religions, civilizations and traditions have brought to Syria, including the coexistence among its various components, along with the protection of the national cultural heritage of the nation and its diverse cultures."

Rouhani says Iran must learn from 1979 revolution
Middle East Online, 31-1-2018

TEHRAN - President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that Iran must listen to protesters behind a recent wave of unrest, hinting that it risked another revolution if their demands are ignored.

The culture of light: The Lion and Sun was the ancient symbol of kingship in Persia. When the Shah would be seated on the throne, he symbolised the lion, with the sun symbol behind his back. The last Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi carried the title Aryamehr (Light of the Aryans), which was another connotation for the sun.

In a speech marking the 39th anniversary of the uprising, Rouhani also warned foreign powers that Iran's people would "forever safeguard the Islamic republic".
"As long as people love the culture of Islam and love their Iran and safeguard their national unity, no superpower can change the path of this nation," he said, taking a jab at the United States.
But he said that popular support was at risk if his fellow elites did not listen to protests that have swept the country in recent weeks, and heed the lessons of the 1979 revolution that toppled shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
"All officials of the country should have a listening ear for people's demands and wishes," Rouhani said... "The previous regime thought monarchical rule would last forever, but it lost everything for this very reason -- that it did not hear the criticism of the people," he added, flanked by Khomeini's grandson, Hassan Khomeini, a prominent reformist [born: 23-7-1972: Sun in Leo, Moon in Sagitarius - both FIRE-signs...].

Days of angry protests hit dozens of towns and cities over the new year, leaving at least 25 people dead and hundreds in detention.
Recent days have also seen unprecedented protests by a handful of women, posing in public without their headscarves to show their rejection of mandatory Islamic clothing rules.
Rouhani has allied himself with reformists and called for greater civil liberties, including the release of political prisoners, but has achieved little against an entrenched conservative elite that sees protests as subversive attacks orchestrated by foreign enemies.
The shah's regime "did not hear the voice of reformers, advisors, scholars, elites, and the educated," said Rouhani. "It only heard the voice of revolution... and by then, it was too late."
His comments echoed the sharp criticism a day earlier from jailed reformist Mehdi Karroubi, who has been under house arrest for the past seven years for leading protests in 2009. Karroubi lashed out at Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in an open letter, saying major reforms were needed "before it is too late".

On systematic ignorance during Islamic awakening
Mohammed Al Shaikh, Al-Arabiya, 1 February 2018

Saudi Islamic scholar Safar al-Hawali said in a lecture that when poisonous gas was used against the Afghans, it cleared like a cloud and the winds then directed it towards the infidels’ path, adding that the wind was the God’s soldier.
Safar al-Hawali was a master of Sahwa (Islamic awakening) as he significantly contributed to establishing it and lecturing about its ideas.
This example and other stories which create faith in myths and legends are what distinguished the Sahwa rhetoric the most during that phase...
Sahwaists, whether they belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood or the Sururi Movement, knew that this was the best way to control people who cannot read and who are not well-educated.
They made them more ignorant, unreasonable and illogical and fought all modern cultural phenomena and philosophy that encourage modern reasonable thinking...
They destroy reason, oppose development, bet on ignorance and myths and cherish ignorance. They were never ashamed of opposing science, philosophy and logic and slamming those who act upon them.
A Salafist once said: He who adopts logic is a non-believer. Those who echo these statements do not know that all the technological products they use today are actually the result of reasonable and logical thought.
Sahwa collapsed in Saudi Arabia. Most important reason is the rationality that relies on discussions which spread thanks to the telecommunications revolution. Criticism is widely shared across the world.
Going back to this ignorant phase of believing myths will be almost impossible if not totally impossible.

Safar al-Hawali (born in 1950) is a Saudi Muslim scholar known for his pro-terrorism fatwas and endorsment of the 9-11 attacks. He came to prominence in 1991, as a leader of the Sahwah movement which opposed the presence of US troops on the Arabian peninsula. He was one of Osama bin Laden's favorite scholars.

"Sahwa is a Saudi term that refers to all political Islam movements whose major umbrella is the Muslim Brotherhood. The feeling that the chapter of Sahwa has ended once and for all has been growing ever since Saudi crown prince Muhammad bin Salman made his promise to destroy extremists...” Al-Arabiya info

Don’t be fooled by the comforting rhetoric coming from Saudi Arabia’s crown prince
By Rosie Bsheer, Washington Post, November 8, 2017

Attacks on extreme religion sound positive to people of all political stripes in the West, promising political liberalization and evoking the language of the “war on terror.”
But it is the second half of Mohammad’s statement... His decision to single out the 1979 Iranian Revolution as the turning point in Saudi politics signals trouble for the region. It indicates his plans to escalate the conflict with Iran and its proxies as a way to shore up global backing, after having failed to rally support at home.
That President Donald Trump, the leader of the so-called free world, has endorsed the Saudi regime’s domestic crackdown, anti-Iran escalation and threat of war against Lebanon has only emboldened Mohammad.
Even as Western governments and media outlets sing his praises, the young crown prince is viewed domestically as an incompetent and corrupt ruler who hides behind liberalism, tolerance and anti-corruption rhetoric.

Muhammad bin Salman: What occurred during the past thirty years
was not Saudi Arabia. It was the Iranian Revolution
Basheer Nafi, Middle East Eye, 7 November 2017

In a recent interview with the Guardian, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman confirmed his decision to return the country to moderate Islam.
The prince insisted that the conservative, extremist trend was a recent phenomenon in the Kingdom and that it went back to just 30 years ago. He added that it was born out of the climate created by the Iranian revolution.
Bin Salman did not hesitate to note that the kingdom's former leaders failed to address the phenomenon and that he was determined to put an end to it.
He said: "What occurred during the past thirty years was not Saudi Arabia. What happened in the region was not the Middle East. In the wake of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, there emerged some people who wanted to copy that model in other countries. Saudi Arabia was one of those countries.
"We did not even know how to tackle it, and the problem spread across the entire world. Now is the time to get rid of it once and for all."
Bin Salman added: "We are simply going back to what we used to follow, moderate Islam, the Islam that is open to the world and to other religions …
We shall not waste thirty more years of our life in confronting extremists. We shall destroy them, now and immediately."

Importing the Muslim Brotherhood, or:
The creation of the “Sahwa” in Saudi Arabia
Mike Kelvington, Havok Journal, April 27, 2017

The jihadist movement, Jarret Brachman states, offers nothing more than empty rhetoric and wanton bloodshed. It is a bankrupt ideology that, like numerous historical precedents, will eventually collapse under its own internal contradictions.
The world cannot simply wait for that to happen, however: the world must, and can, accelerate the process of triumph over the global jihadist movement.” By Paul Kamolnick, 23-10-2008

After nationalist regimes sought to crack down on Muslim Brotherhood activity in their countries, members fled these countries and emigrated to Saudi Arabia.
While disorganized at first, the exiled and fleeing members of the Brotherhood found a new purpose through an odd partnership with the Saudi government under the leadership of Prince Faysal.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, because of the “Arab cold war,” Faysal recruited some of these Islamist activists to combat Nasser by wielding its previous experience in spreading anti-Nasser propaganda.
At the time, despite the previous King’s reservations about allowing the Brotherhood to organize within the Kingdom, Faysal saw communism and the “progressive” influence of the Soviet Union as a greater threat than Islamists and brought them in to positions of great influence.
By 1962, the Brotherhood were the proponent for Faysal’s propaganda machine, which he empowered and mobilized through newspapers, magazines, and radio to “denounce the ‘ungodliness’ of [Nasser’s] secular government and to use Islam as a weapon against it,” under the guise of “Islamic solidarity.”
In addition to external threats to Saudi Arabia, Faysal also directed the Brotherhood to conduct counter-messaging within the Kingdom, to combat radicals within their borders who adhered to Arab nationalism, communism, and other leftist ideologies...

From 1957, when Riyadh University began, the Brotherhood utilized the faculty on campuses to establish a “stronghold” in the Kingdom..
They essentially endowed the responsibility of raising and indoctrinating the new generation with an “Islamic culture” largely defined by the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, under the guise of the Sahwa.
In 1981 a Muslim Brotherhood member of the King Abd al-Aziz University, Abdullah Azzam, was leading the Services Bureau in the fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan and layed the groundwork for the idea that would later become the terrorist organization, Al-Qaeda.
It was during his time as a professor that he would first cross paths with a student named Osama bin Laden, who was largely influenced by Abdullah Azzam and Muhammad Qutb’s teachings during their required Islamic culture course while working on an economics degree.

The entrenchment of Muslim Brotherhood ideologues such as Muhammad Qutb and Abdullah Azzam touches on the extreme nature of the education system in Saudi Arabia, especially after Faysal became king in 1964 and the 1969 death of Mufti Muhammad ibn Ibrahim, the leading member of the ulema attempting to restrict much of the more radical activities beginning to creep into Saudi campuses and society.
In 1970, led by the Egyptian Brother Manna’ al-Qattan, the Saudi government adopted an education publication, which in large part was still in circulation well into the 21st century, known as Educational Policy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
This guide (a Salafist mixture of ultra-conservative Wahhabbism and Jihadist Sawha-ism) formalized much of the work the Islamists already established on campuses and in classrooms...

Major Mike Kelvington is an MPA candidate at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs

"We are tired of a two-headed administration"
Assyrian Woman Speaks At Syria Peace Conference in Sochi
By Bar Daisan, AINA News, 2018-01-31

Sochi, Russia (AINA) -- Antonetta Ardish, an Assyrian woman from Hasakah - Syria, represented the Assyrian and Armenian people of the city and spoke on behalf various organizations at the Syrian Peace Conference in Sochi.
Ardish stressed the demand for unity of the country and denounced the current situation of a second administrative structure, created by the Kurdish PYD in northern Syria, which parallels the Syrian government institutions.
The effect is that there are two city councils (governement and YPD) that recruit -- even by force - young people to the military, two tax systems, and two security organizations for the region. This puts undue pressure on the people living in the region.

In an interview with Le Vif/L'Express in Belgium, the Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church highlighted the same problem, saying "a number of Christians who live in the north-east of the country, which is under the rule of Kurds, are also in a difficult situation because of the unilateral management of these regions by the local powers.
These Christian communities are also under pressure concerning military service and school education. For example, Kurds try to impose their school programs in our private schools."
The Patriarch also said "we believe in a unified Syria with both a strong government and a strong army to protect us all. Kurds are a small minority in the north-east of the country. Even in Qamishly and Hasakah, two big cities in the region, they only constitute a minority: merely 30% of the population. This is why we do not believe there is a future for a federal state in Syria."

The following is a translation of Antonette Ardish's speech from Arabic:
"Good evening. Firstly, I salute Syria, the friendly Russian people and its government. We are glad that the Syrian parties are gathered here. We are representatives of the city of Al-Hasakah and speak on behalf of the Assyrians and Armenians as well as their churches, political parties and organizations. We are supporting Syria's territorial integrity, its independent sovereignty and decision-making..."
"Let us speak in the language of the people of Cezire [the Al-Hasakah governorate]: We, the Syrians from Cezire, want Syrian Arab Republic rule over the entire territory of Syria. We are tired of the two-headed administration. We want only one government which all the community components agree on. Thank you."

Putin and Erdogan hail results of Syrian National Dialogue Congress
TASS Russian News Agency, January 31, 2018

Russian and Turkish Presidents, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said in a phone conversation on Wednesday they were satisfied by the results of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi and stressed the importance of fulfilling the agreements, the Kremlin’s press service said.
"The heads of state welcomed the outcome of the January 30 Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi. They stressed the importance of implementing the agreements reached, which are aimed at the effective progress of the Syrian political settlement based on the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2254," the statement said.
Putin and Erdogan also discussed further coordination of Russian-Turkish efforts on ensuring sustained operation of Syria's de-escalation zones and also cooperation in the "Astana format," the press service said. During the conversation, the sides also exchanged views on vital issues of the successfully developing bilateral trade and economic cooperation.

SNC opposition will work with Sochi proposal under U.N. auspices
Reuters, 2-2-2018

Tawheed in Arabic means attributing Oneness to Allaah and describing Him as being One and Unique, with no partner or peer in His Essence and Attributes. The Arabs say waahid, ahad and waheed, all meaning one. Whoever does not acknowledge Allaah in these terms and does not describe Him as being One with no partner or associate does not believe in Tawheed.

Syria’s [Saudi backed] opposition will cooperate with proposals made at a Russia-hosted conference this week to rewrite the country’s constitution as long as the process remains under U.N. auspices, the chief opposition negotiator said on Thursday.
Participants at Tuesday’s meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in Russia - which is a powerful supporter of President Bashar al-Assad - agreed to set up a committee to change the Syrian constitution, and called for democratic elections.
The main Syrian opposition negotiating group had boycotted the gathering, while the United States, Britain and France also stayed away because of what they said was the Syrian government’s refusal to properly engage.
However, chief opposition negotiator Nasr Hariri said the Syrian Negotiation Commission would “work positively” with the proposed committee because responsibility for setting it up had been handed to the U.N. Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura.
“If the constitutional committee is set up... within the U.N. process in Geneva, strictly consistent with U.N. resolution 2254, yes we will continue to work with the U.N. process in this regard,” he told a news conference.

Damascus welcomed the results of the Sochi meeting:
“The final statement of the conference confirmed the consensus of Syrians on ... preserving the sovereignty and unity of Syrian territory and people, and the exclusive right of the Syrian people to choose their own political and economic system,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Four years of on-off United Nations-mediated peace talks have yielded little progress toward ending the seven-year war, but De Mistura has pressed ahead with efforts for a political solution.
Staffan de Mistura said on Tuesday the constitutional committee agreed in Sochi “will become a reality in Geneva”, where most of the U.N.-led Syria peace talks have been held. De Mistura also said he would decide the criteria for committee members and select about 50 people - from government, opposition and independent groups.

A Spiritual Revolution: Tawheed & Holism

The major ideologue of the Iranian Islamic revolution, Ali Shariati (d. 1977 ), popularized tawhid for Shiis. He stressed the purpose of human existence as agreement or trust between God and creation, whereby human beings are responsible for caring for all of creation with tawhid as the foundation for social action; for the rejection of legal, class, social, political, racial, national, territorial, genetic, and economic distinctions; and for the requirement for all believers to work for justice.
Tawhid is, therefore, designed to transform a religion that justifies and accepts the status quo into a religion of awareness and social activism.

Ali Shariati: "What I have in mind (when I use the term Yawheed) is a world-view.
So what I intend by the world view of Tawheed is perceiving the entire universe as a unity, instead of dividing it into this world and the thereafter, the physical and the metaphysical, substance and meaning, matter and spirit.
It means percieving the whole of existence as a single form, a single, living and concious organism, possessing one will, intelligence, feeling and aim....
There are many people who believe in Tawheed, but only as a "religious-philosophical" theory: God is one, not more than one - that is all..
But I understand Tawheed as a world-view, just as I see shirk (polytheism) also from the same standpoint, that is, a world-view that regards the universe as an incoherent combination, full of division, contradiction and incongruity, possessing conflicting and independent poles, diverging movements, and disparate and disconnected essences, desires, caluculations, criteria, aims and wills...

Ali Shariati Mazinani (23 November 1933 – 18 June 1977) was an Iranian revolutionary and sociologist who focused on the sociology of religion. He is held as one of the most influential Iranian intellectuals of the 20th century and has been called the "ideologue of the Iranian Revolution", although his ideas ended up not forming the basis of the Islamic Republic. (Wikipedia info)

In power-based [authoritarian] Islam, tawhid signifies a monotheistic belief in which God is regarded as an omnipotent being who cultivates a master-slave relationship with believers.
Fear is the defining characteristic of this belief, which links the most powerful to the most powerless in a relationship of obedience. People have no "rights" in this system; all that exists is their "duty".

"We fail if armed groups are allowed to mobilise the youth"
The slow death of al-Qaeda in Algeria
Middle East Eye, Thursday 1 February 2018

Bilel Kobi, the special envoy of Abdelmalek Droukdel [the "emir" of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb], and Bashir Ben Neji, emir of a group in Tunisia, were shot dead by the Tunisian military in January.
In Algeria this week, Abu Rouaha al-Qassantini - real name Adel Seghiri - was killed by the Algerian army in Jijel, about 400km from Algiers.
He was the propaganda chief of AQIM (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), creator of the "al-Andalus" magazine and mastermind of the propaganda forum "Ifriquya al-Islamiyah" (Islamic Africa), which acted as message board between groups in the region and al-Qaeda in the Middle East.

By law, Algerian military officials are forbidden to speak to the media and Middle East Eye is unable to quote them by name. But all those who spoke have said the fight against al-Qaeda and its allies, after several years of setback, has swung decisively in the favour of the Algerian state.
AQIM has failed to carry out major attacks in Algeria for several months. The Algerian army says it eliminates an average of 200 militants each year and armed groups are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their numbers.
According to a retired Algerian major general, the state is "reaping the benefits of an anti-terrorism policy it has been pursuing for more than 20 years".
"This terrorism, we have always understood as both a security problem but also psychological, economic and cultural," he said. Military operations, he said, were being run in tandem with efforts to marginalise armed groups' influence on the population.
As a result, "an almost complete absence of support inside" is now manifest.
This was evident in 2015, when Madani Merzag, the former "emir" of a group known as the Islamic Salvation Army, a group notorious in the 1990s for a series of massacres, tried to form a political party. His attempt was roundly rejected by Algerians.
"There is no a secret recipe," said the retired general.
"Eliminating a terrorist is not a victory if, at the same time, a recruit rises to take their place." "We fail if [armed groups] are allowed to mobilise the youth. Draining terrorist financing can be an endless thing if you do not target their support networks.

Poll: Lowest number of Labor MKs ever elected to the Knesset
David Rosenberg, Arutz Sheva, 02/02/2018

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud government would be easily reelected if new elections were held today, a new poll shows, giving Netanyahu his fifth term as premier.
The poll, published by the Hebrew daily Yisrael Hayom, shows the six coalition factions making a net gain of 3 seats over their present 66 mandates, and a net gain of 2 over the 67 they won in the 2015 election. A minimum of 61 seats are required to form a coalition government.
According to the poll, the Likud would retain the 30 seats it won in 2015 – a decline of 1 mandate from the previous Geocartography poll, which in January showed the party winning 31 seats.
The Jewish Home party, led by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, would become the second largest coalition faction with 12 seats, compared to the 8 it currently holds. Last month’s poll showed the party also with 12 seats.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party, which campaigned in 2015 as a “center” or “center-right” faction, would fall from 10 seats to 7 according to the latest poll, a decline of 1 mandate since last month’s poll.
Among the haredi parties, United Torah Judaism would gain one seat, rising to seven mandates – identical to last month’s poll – while Shas would fall from seven to five seats – one seat better than the party’s performance in January’s poll.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party would win eight seats if elections were held today...

The four opposition parties would lose a net total of two seats according to the poll, winning a combined 51 mandates.
The Zionist Union, a joint list of the Labor and Hatnua parties, would fall from 24 mandates to just 13, similar to last month’s poll results. That would result in the lowest number of Labor MKs ever elected to the Knesset, with a delegation of just 11 members. Two of the 13 Zionist Union MKs would come from the Hatnua faction.
Former Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party would rise to a record high of 24, compared to its present 11 seats.
The far-left Meretz faction would gain one seat if new elections were held today, rising to six mandates, while the predominantly Arab Joint List party would plummet to just eight mandates. The Joint List party won 13 seats in 2015, but has declined in strength according to recent polls.

Latest Iran poll suggests Trump rhetoric benefits hard-liners
Barbara Slavin, Al-Monitor, February 2, 2018

More than two-thirds of Iranians are dissatisfied with their country's economic situation and most blame corruption and mismanagement, according to the first major poll of Iranian public opinion conducted since large-scale demonstrations broke out in late December.
Economic slogans predominated during the protests, which spread to more than 100 provincial cities and towns, although chants against Iran’s leaders and Islamic system were also prevalent.
A near-unanimous 96% of those surveyed in the new poll said the current government should do more to combat financial and bureaucratic corruption, while about 16% said Iran needs fundamental political change.
The telephone survey of 1,002 Iranians, by the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM) and, was conducted Jan. 16-24, only a few days after the demonstrations subsided. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1%.

When the protests erupted, some in the West saw the beginning of a new revolution that would overturn Iran's theocratic system. However, the new poll suggests change could just as well head in another direction — toward more hard-line policies.
Indeed, the survey shows that Qasem Soleimani — the head of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and a man under US sanctions — remains the most popular figure among regime stalwarts. According to the poll, he is gaining in popularity with an 83% approval rating now compared to 73% two years ago.
President Hassan Rouhani, meanwhile, has seen a noticeable slide, from 82% approval two years ago to just over 65% now. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's numbers have also gone south, with 68% approval now versus 78% in 2016.

As in previous surveys, Iranians are most concerned about the economy and are clearly disappointed with the lack of tangible benefits from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Asked to state the most serious challenge Iran faces from among a list of economic, political and societal woes, a plurality of 40% chose unemployment. More than 85% said that subsidies for gasoline and other necessities should not be cut as the government had planned. Parliament has since rejected the cuts and the budget for the new fiscal year that begins in March is being revised.
Iranians also shared deep anxiety about environmental degradation, with more than 94% saying that climate change is a serious problem. Lack of water has become a major issue in Iran and has forced many farmers to abandon their land and move to provincial cities, which were a center of unrest during the recent protests.
Continuing a trend that began before US President Donald Trump's election, fewer Iranians expressed support for the nuclear deal negotiated by his predecessor..
Most ominously, 67% said the "JCPOA experience shows that it is not worthwhile for Iran to make concessions, because Iran cannot have confidence that if it makes a concession world powers will honor their side of an agreement."
When the nuclear agreement was reached, many Iranians hoped it would presage an overall improvement in bilateral relations with the United States, which have been strained since the 1979 Islamic revolution. That has not happened.

Among foreign nations, Germany, with nearly 62% approval, is Iranians' favorite, followed by Russia (58%), France (56%) and China (54%). Only 18% had a favorable view of the United States, a sharp drop from 31% in August 2015. Even views of the American people, traditionally high in Iran, have slumped from 53% in January 2016 to just shy of 41% now.

Saddam's eldest daughter Raghad on most wanted list
Al-Jazeera, 4-2-2018

The Iraqi government has placed the name of late Saddam Hussein's daughter, Raghad, on the most wanted list, together with 59 other individuals. The 60 people are wanted on suspicion of belonging to the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), al-Qaeda or the Baath Party.
The list, seen by AFP, includes the name of Saddam's daughter, Raghad, who lives in Jordan.
It also features 28 suspected ISIL fighters, 12 from Al-Qaeda and 20 from the Baath party, giving details of the roles they allegedly play in their organisations, the alleged crimes of which they are suspected, and, in most cases, photographs.
The name of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIL, is absent from the list. A senior security official contacted by AFP declined to explain why.
"These are the terrorists most wanted by the judicial authorities and the security services," the official said. "This is the first time we publish these names which, until now, were secret.

Daily Sabah (Turkey), 22-12-2016: Speaking in a CNN interview, 48-year-old Raghad Hussein blamed the U.S. for the chaos that unraveled in Iraq, saying Daesh and other groups would not have been able to enter had her father still been alive.
"People (who consider him a dictator) are free to use whatever labels they want but for me he is a hero, courageous, nationalistic, a symbol to millions of people," Raghad said.
She said most of the media coverage about the Hussein family is made up. "Yes, there was brutality, sometimes a lot of it and I can't support brutality. But Iraq is a country that is difficult to rule and it's only now that people are realizing it," she said.

In Turkey, soaring support for Syrian offensive and rising anti-Americanism
By Erin Cunningham, Washington Post, 4-2-2018

Since the offensive began last month in the Afrin enclave just over the border, Turkish media and public opinion have rallied around the government, stirring nationalist sentiment and giving a boost to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is up for reelection by next year.
On newsstands, headlines have blared support, and imams in mosques throughout the country have prayed for a military victory. Authorities have detained hundreds of people — including doctors and writers — for criticizing the assault. Even opposition leaders have fallen in line.
Erdogan has deftly framed the Afrin battle as an extension of Turkey’s war with Kurdish insurgents at home, tapping into years of public anger with the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which is linked to the Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.
In waging what has been dubbed “Operation Olive Branch,” he is also exploiting a surge of anti-Americanism among Turks, arising in part from U.S. military support for the Syrian Kurds. The Syrian Kurdish militia, called the YPG, or People’s Protection Units, has been a crucial American ally in the campaign to oust the Islamic State from Syria.
Since the operation began, public opinion polls have shown a large majority of Turks supporting the offensive. One poll, conducted by Turkey’s MAK research company and cited widely by pro-government media, said 82 percent of respondents believed that the operation will succeed. Ninety percent said the United States is “behind” the PKK and YPG.
That broad distrust of the United States comes at a time when, Turkish commentators say, relations between the two longtime allies have sunk to their lowest point since Turkey joined NATO in 1952.

The Turkish offensive, including air and ground operations, aims to establish a buffer zone inside northern Syria enforced by Turkish-backed forces. The YPG was initially formed to protect Kurdish populations amid the chaos of the Syrian civil war.
In a phone call with Erdogan on Jan. 24, President Trump urged Turkey to “de-escalate, limit its military actions, and avoid civilian casualties,” according to a White House account. Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of the U.S. Central Command, told CNN recently that withdrawing from Manbij was “not something we’re looking into.”

Turkish Opposition Calls for Contacts With Damascus
Sputnik News, 5-2-2018

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the Turkish main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) on Sunday called on the country’s authorities to re-establish contacts with Damascus for ensuring peace and stabilization of the situation in Syria amid the ongoing Turkish military operation in Afrin.
"Those in power are trying to represent the Turkish Armed Forces’ operation in Afrin as a solution taken by their [ruling] party. But it is a fight for Turkey, not for them.
They must immediately contact the Syrian government in order to guarantee the territorial integrity of Syria and stop the bloodshed," Kilicdaroglu said at his party’s congress after he was re-elected as the party’s president.
This time Kilicdaroglu reiterated his stance, as he has already expressed his readiness to establish direct contacts with the Syrian government on January 29.

Explaining its decision to start the Turkish military offensive in Kurdish-dominated Afrin, Ankara asserted that the advance was aimed at clearing the country's border with Syria from the terrorist presence, referring to the Kurdish formations operating in the area.
Turkish operation was primarily targeting the People's Protection Units (YPG), consisting a part of the opposition Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). the latter is designated as a terrorist organization in Turkey.
Damascus has expressed its opposition to the Turkish operation, saying that such actions violated Syrian sovereignty.
A few months before the offensive, in November, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that he did not rule out future cooperation with Damascus against the Kurdish authorities in northern Syria. However, no corresponding talks or meeting have been announced so far.

Turkish Opposition: "The whole Arab Spring is an American conspiracy"
Mustafa Akyol, Al-Monitor, March 14, 2013

On March 8 (2013), four deputies from Turkey's main opposition People's Republican Party (CHP) visited Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad in his headquarters in Damascus.
After an apparently warm meeting, they smiled together to cameras, in a pose that starkly contrasted with the tension between the Syrian regime and the Turkish government led by the Justice and Development Party (AKP)...

In fact, this was only one of the many expressions of pro-Assad views by prominent CHP members. On March 6, Ümit Özgümüş, a CHP deputy from Adana, a southern province, gave a speech in the Turkish Parliament passionately objecting to the AKP view that the "Assad regime kills its own people."
This, he argued, was "a lie just like the lie that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq." He then went on to praise "the resistance of the Syrian people against imperialism" — echoing the common view in the Turkish left that the whole Arab Spring is an American conspiracy, which aims at establishing "moderate Islam" at the expense of secular regimes.

Ryabkov: US negative stance towards settling crisis in Syria
proves its unwillingness to achieve positive outcomes
Syrian Arab News Agency, 5 February 2018

Moscow, SANA - Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, stressed that the US negative stance towards the efforts of solving the crisis in Syria, the latest of which the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi, poses evidence on Washington’s unwillingness to work for achieving positive outcomes in this regard.
In an interview with Russian the Izvestia newspaper, Ryabkov answered a question on the participation of the American side in the efforts of settling the crisis in Syria by saying that “the US side had been invited to attend the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi on Jan. 30th, but they sent a delegate to the Congress, not as an observer and this is their business.”
“We along with other participants in the Congress reached somehow good outcomes, and this is what bothered Washington,” he added.
Ryabkov affirmed that despite the US stance, “we don’t cut off communications with it, and dialogue with the Americans on Syria is very intensive as we will continue to explain to them the essence of what is taking place, and we will try to push them to a more objective interaction according to Security Council’s resolution no. 2254 and the joint Russian-US statement on Syria which had been approved by the Russian and US presidents in Da Nang.”
He indicated that members of the Constitutional Committee which was approved at Sochi Congress were specified in general.
On Jan. 30th, participants in the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi agreed on establishing a Constitutional Committee that embraces 150 persons.

I Helped Sell the False Choice of War Once. It’s Happening Again.
Lawrence Wilkerson, New York Times, 5-2-2018

"We are the Death Merchant of the World." Col. Lawrence Wilkerson is tired of “the corporate interests that we go abroad to slay monsters for.." (Geopolitics, 18-1-2017)

Fifteen years ago this week, Colin Powell, then the secretary of state, spoke at the United Nations to sell pre-emptive war with Iraq.
As his chief of staff, I helped Secretary Powell paint a clear picture that war was the only choice, that when “we confront a regime that harbors ambitions for regional domination, hides weapons of mass destruction and provides haven and active support for terrorists, we are not confronting the past, we are confronting the present. And unless we act, we are confronting an even more frightening future.”
Polls later that day and week demonstrated he did convince many Americans... The secretary’s gravitas was a significant part of the two-year-long effort by the Bush administration to get Americans on the war wagon.

This should not be forgotten, since the Trump administration is using much the same playbook to create a false impression that war is the only way to address the threats posed by Iran.
Just over a month ago, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said that the administration had “undeniable” evidence that Iran was not complying with Security Council resolutions regarding its ballistic missile program and Yemen. Just like Mr. Powell, Ms. Haley showed satellite images and other physical evidence available only to the United States intelligence community to prove her case. But the evidence fell significantly short...

As I look back at our lock-step march toward war with Iraq, I realize that it didn’t seem to matter to us that we used shoddy or cherry-picked intelligence; that it was unrealistic to argue that the war would “pay for itself,” rather than cost trillions of dollars; that we might be hopelessly naïve in thinking that the war would lead to democracy instead of pushing the region into a downward spiral.
The sole purpose of our actions was to sell the American people on the case for war with Iraq.
Polls show that we did. Mr. Trump and his team are trying to do it again. If we’re not careful, they’ll succeed.

The rise of the Arab neoconservatives
by Eldar Mamedov, Lobe Log, February 5, 2018

Recent years have seen a rise of what could be described as Arab neoconservatives: ambitious leaders such as the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed.
Their distinctive feature is a heavy reliance on military power to re-shape the political map of the Middle East in their favor, with the overarching aim of pushing back against Iran, a policy they share with the original, American neoconservatives.

Yet their track record is not any more successful than that of their American counterparts in places like Iraq. The war in Yemen, conceived as a week-long cakewalk by then Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in 2014, has turned into a bloody quagmire, with no end in sight, let alone anything that could be remotely construed as a Saudi victory.
Attempts by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to isolate Qatar have pushed the tiny emirate closer to Turkey and Iran, their regional adversaries. Heavy-handed Saudi efforts to meddle in Lebanon strengthened Hezbollah, Riyadh’s Shiite enemy, by providing it an opportunity to hone its nationalist credentials.
The net result of these policies is that Iran, far from being isolated in the region, is actually becoming stronger.
As experience suggests, however, the Arab neoconservatives and their American backers are more likely to double down on their policies rather than change the approach. This is especially so since they feel emboldened by the Trump administration in Washington, which is fast becoming neoconned itself.

One of the ways they are doing so is by pressuring the European Union (EU) into joining their efforts to push back against Iran on its missile program and regional policies.

Even if the EU shares some of the American, Israeli, and Saudi concerns regarding Iran, it should strongly resist this pressure, both collectively and at the level of the member states.
EU citizens did not elect their governments to please Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Mohammad bin Salman.
The Global Strategy, endorsed by all 28 member states, stresses the balanced engagement with Iran and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as a cornerstone of the EU vision for the Persian Gulf region.
The current Iranian government has repeatedly shown its willingness to engage in regional diplomacy based on principles that are not far apart from those embraced by the EU, namely emphasizing the legitimate interests and collective security of all regional states.
The experience of the nuclear deal with Iran (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) showed that there is space for diplomacy with Iran.
Yet this window of opportunity will not remain open forever. The lack of the expected benefits from the JCPOA has contributed to the pessimistic outlook Iranians have regarding their future...

Weakening and ultimately removing the moderates from the Iranian political scene may well be the game plan for American and Arab neoconservatives.
The consequence of such a development, however, would be an unacceptable risk of more turmoil and wars in the Middle East, with direct implications for the security of Europe. This is another reason why EU should resist the pressure to join the anti-Iranian front.

Eldar Mamedov has served as a political adviser for the social-democrats in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (EP) and is in charge of the EP delegations for inter-parliamentary relations with Iran, Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula, and Mashreq.

Iraqi President Stresses need to enhance security cooperation with Syria
Syrian Arab News Agency, 7 February 2018

Baghdad, SANA – Iraqi President Fuad Masoum stressed the need to enhance joint security cooperation between Syria and Iraq and expand coordination in the war against terrorism.
Masoum made his remarks while meeting Syria’s Interir Minister Major General Mohammad al-Shaar (born into a Sunni family in Latakia Governorate ) and the accompanying delegation visiting Iraq.
In turn, al-Shaar stressed the importance of upgrading mutual cooperation to higher levels, particularly in fighting terrorism.
Earlier, al-Shaar met his Iraqi counterpart Qasim al-Araji (a senior member of the pro-Iranian Badr Organization) as the two sides agreed to revive agreements signed between the Syrian and Iraqi Interior ministries, including the activation of the joint higher committee formed according to the memo of understanding, in addition to exchanging information and eliminating clandestine terrorist cells and combating organized crime.
They also stressed the importance of strengthening border controls and cooperation across borders and reopening al-Qaem border crossing in order to promote trade movement.
Minister al-Shaar also met Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari with the latter expressing high appreciation for victories achieved by Syria in its war on terrorism.

Muhammad Fuad Masum (born 1 January 1939) is the current President of Iraq, in office since 24 July 2014. He is a veteran Iraqi Kurdish politician (member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan - PUK), and was elected as President following the 2014 parliamentary election. Masum is the second non-Arab president of Iraq, succeeding Jalal Talabani, also Kurdish, and was a confidant of Talabani. (Wikipedia)

"I have been appointed by the Kurds to this position. But my treatment of all should be the same. I defend everyone – the Kurds, Shiites, Sunnis and Christians. I have interfered wherever there has been a shortage. We inform them whenever we see a constitutional violation and point to them what is wrong. " (27-12-2017)

UNICEF Appeals for $17 Million to Rebuild Iraq Health Facilities
Shafaaq News Iraq, 7-2-2018

The United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF appealed on Wednesday for $17 million to help rebuild Iraq's health facilities, ahead of an international conference to support the country's reconstruction due to convene next week in Kuwait.
The UN agency said up to 750,000 children are still lacking access to health services in the region of Mosul, seven months after Islamic State militants were driven out from the city.
Less than 10 percent of health facilities in Mosul's Nineveh province are functioning, and are "stretched to breaking point", UNICEF said in a statement, adding that rehabilitation of clinics and hospitals is key to allowing displaced people to return home.
Humanitarian organizations say about 2.6 million people are still displaced, two months after Iraq declared victory over the militants who had taken over nearly a third of the country in 2014 and 2015.
The Iraqi government said it needs at least $100 billion in assistance to rebuild homes, businesses and infrastructure including oil and telecommunications facilities.

US needs Turkey to pressure Iran in Syria, former US envoy says
Ragip Soylu, Daily Sabah Turkey, 8-2-2018

Robert Ford, former United States Ambassador to Damascus (2011-2014), told a group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the U.S. administration needs to address Turkey's concerns over the Democratic Union Party (PYD)'s armed wing the People's Protection Units (YPG) to successfully pressure Iran in Syria.
"It is difficult to imagine how we can successfully pressure Iran in Syria without being on the same wavelength as Turkey. Turkey and Iran as historic rivals go back hundreds of years; Turkey is the major Sunni power - if you will - in that part of the world, even more important in some ways than Saudi Arabia."

The Trump administration stated several times that its main objective in the region is to push back against Iranian influence, which is increasingly solidifying its control over Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
Ford said if the Trump administration decided that the priority really should be Iran, than it needed to work with Turkey.
"We need to figure out how to come to some sort of an agreement with Turkey in a manner that meets their concerns about what they perceive as an existential threat emanating from the Kurdish areas of Syria," he told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs...
The former ambassador criticized premature plans to use the U.S. military presence in northeastern Syria as a way to make Iranians leave the country. "It isn't likely the Iranians will leave Syria because we have troops just 350 miles away. It is a mistake to think Russia is going to push them out. Russians won't," he said.

Flashback - U.S. sends ambassador Robert Ford back
to Syria after six week absence
Cami McCormick, 6-12-2011

The Obama administration is sending Ambassador Robert Ford back to Damascus after a six week hiatus amid concerns for his safety. The U.S. envoy to Syria was recalled in October after the State Department accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of launching a "smear campaign" against Ford.
He drew wrath from the government for his visits with opposition figures and his convoy was recently pelted with tomatoes.
Still, with reporters barred from the country, the Obama administration insisted he was their "eyes and ears".
In a statement issued today, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, "we believe his presence in the country is among the most effective ways to send the message that the United States stands with the people of Syria"

Ford's return to Syria comes on the same day Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met in Geneva with Syrian exiles, members of the so-called Syrian National Council and called for a new regime of tolerance. Clinton said she looked forward to hearing their ideas on how a democratic transition would proceed.
"Obviously a democratic transition includes more than removing the Assad regime," she said. ...

Robert Stephen Ford (born 1958) is a retired American diplomat who served as the United States Ambassador to Algeria from 2006 to 2008 and the United States Ambassador to Syria from 2010 to 2014.
Ford played a central role in developing the “extremism threat” scenario including the channeling of military aid to the Al Qaeda affiliated rebels.

Ford was from the outset in the months leading up to the March 2011 insurrection among the key architects involved in the formulation of a US “Terrorist Option” for Syria, including the recruitment and training of death squads in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. (Global Research 6-6-2014)

2011: Islamist protest in Hama
Right Web, July 15, 2011

U.S. ambassador to Syria,Robert Ford, was reportedly received with rose petals and olive branches by citizens of HAMA, a hotbed of Syrian resistance where Assad’s father put down an Islamist (Muslim Brotherhood) uprising 1982.
The American ambassador Robert Ford, had travelled, with the French ambassador Éric Chevallier to the city of Hama in what Robert Ford said was a gesture of solidarity with local protesters there.
Citizens had rallied in the city on 29 July, following Muslim prayers in which a pro-rebel cleric told the congregation "the regime must go".

Hama, an old, well-known nest of Islamists
By Sergei Balmasov, 6 July 2011

Hafez al Assad Speech about Muslim Brotherhood 1982
Hama is an old, well-known nest of Islamists, who hate secular government.
This is a kind of capital for Islamic fundamentalists among the Sunnis in Syria.
It was in Hama that bloody coups were attempted in the past — the deadliest of them took place in February 1982.
Events in 1982 were preceded by an attempt on president Hafez al-Assad's life by the Islamists as well as the bloody attack on Islamic students from the local military academy.
A real rebellion broke out in the city after months of growing instability.
At that time, people were so terrorized by the Muslim Brotherhood that they were afraid to let their children out onto the streets.
However, there was no use of force until the Islamists struck first.
The events that took place then in Hama were terrible. A mobile guillotine was fixed onto a truck and driven around the city. The Islamists used it to destroy anyone who somehow displeased them.

"Let's be clear: The global fight against terrorism can succeed only by ensuring that states do not contribute in any way to the rise of virulent Islamic fundamentalism." Brahma Chellaney, 8-11-2011

Jabhat al-Nusra units remain the main source of instability in Syria,
according to the Russian Defense Ministry
TASS Russian News Agency, 7-2-2018

Terrorists from Jabhat al-Nusra have become a tool in the hands of one or more countries displeased with Moscow’s role in the liberation of Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
"Jabhat al-Nusra units, affiliated with Al-Qaeda remain the main source of instability in Syria, particularly in the Idlib area," the statement reads.
"Members of this terror group, who have been receiving weapons and financial support, seek to disrupt the peace process in de-escalation zones, driving out the moderate opposition’s units," the Russian Defense Ministry added.
According to the statement, all this confirms the concerns that terrorists from the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda have become a servile tool in the hands of one or more technologically developed countries that are dissatisfied with Russia’s leading role in the liberation of Syria from the Islamic State terror group.

"Russian aircraft regularly monitor the de-escalation zone of Idlib, where Turkey has not yet deployed its observation posts under the assumed commitments," Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov stated.
He recalled that after the Syrian army with the assistance of Russia’s aerospace group had regained control of the country’s territory from the Islamic State, the bulk of Russia’s contingent returned home.
"Currently, the main tasks of the Russian forces in Syria are the monitoring of the ceasefire in the de-escalation zones and assisting the Syrian people in returning to a peaceful existence," Konashenkov said.
He added that in the de-escalation zone, Russian military police units were monitoring and enforcing the cessation of hostilities.

Erdogan refuses talks with Assad
By Leith Aboufadel, Al-Masdar, 8/02/2018

BEIRUT, LEBANON – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rejected the recent statement by the head of Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, regarding a potential meeting between Ankara and Damascus.
“What would we talk about with a murderer..?,” Erdogan said in his address to mukhtars— heads of Turkish villages and neighbourhoods—at the presidential complex in Turkey’s capital, Ankara, as quoted by TRT World.
Erdogan has been a staunch opponent of the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad since the advent of the Syria War, which has left both Ankara and Damascus at odds on almost every issue inside the country.
Assad has accused repeatedly Erdogan of being a Muslim Brotherhood supporter and a catalyst for the terrorist groups operating in Syria.
The two presidents have not spoken in years and often rely on Russia to mediate the issues between their nations.

Flashback: Syria welcomes UNSC resolution 2199
on cracking down financing terrorist groups - SANA 13/02/2015

Resolution 2199 completes former resolutions related to fighting terrorism, including resolutions 2170 and 2178, Syria’s Permanent envoy to the UN Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari said...
"Now we have three resolutions over fighting terrorism, and Turkey is still allowing terrorists, particularly from Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra, to cross the joint border with Syria, as Israel assists terrorists in Golan, particularly Jabhat al-Nusra."

Training centers established in Turkey, Saudi, Qatar and Jordan are not for means of peaceful negotiations to find out political solutions but rather are death-making camps for Syrians”, Syria’s UN envoy said... Concluding his statement, Al-Jaafari wondered whether the time has arrived to fight terrorism seriously.

Flashback - Turkey, Erdogan, and the Muslim Brotherhood
By J. Millard Burr, American Center for Democracy, 18-6-2014

Turkey is governed by a leading member of the Ikhwan al-Muslimun — the Muslim Brotherhood.
While it is true that some Brothers, like Ikhwan ideologues Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Hasan al-Turabi, will take up the pen rather than take up arms in the movement to revive the Islamic Caliphate, both Ikhwan intellectual and soldier are equally determined. And so too are the Ikhwan’s politicians, people like Erdogan of Turkey, Ghannouchi of Tunisia and Morsi of Egypt...
Members of the Ikhwan, from its founder Hasan al-Banna to Turkey’s Erdogan, have all been aware that terrorism can be a useful adjunct in the Islamist revolution. It has been used more frequently in that epoch of Arab history that dates from the Muslim world’s rejection of Arab nationalism.
Following the death of Nasser (Arab nationalism’s primary sponsor), in the nineteen-seventies, a plethora of jihadist branches sprang from the Ikhwan tree. Uniformly, the organizations rejected the Ikhwan’s evolutionary philosophy that had been forced on it by Nasser and then by Egypt’s powerful military caste.

"As far as I know, there is no extremism in Syria”
Riad al-Shaqfa, 16-4-2013

Hasan al-Banna - 'Syria Brotherhood' leaders - Riad al-Shaqfa

The Islamist movement came to a boil with the war in Afghanistan. It festered with the American presence in the first war in Iraq and gained strength with the war in the Balkans.
In that war, Muslim Brothers Sudan’s Hassan al-Turabi and Bosnia’s Izetbegovic, together with Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his mentor Islamist politician Necmettin Erbakan (1926-2011) had played a major role.
In the early 1990s, Erbakan and Erdogan served as money launderers and arms purchasers in the Islamist-backed insurgency in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Albania.

In Syria, the Arab Spring that sought to depose the Assad family and its Alawite allies may have started as a spontaneous uprising.
Nonetheless, the movement was soon captured by the Islamist mujahideen, and they have been supported by powerful Ikhwan forces in Kuwait (whose banking system is controlled by Muslim Brothers) and Qatar (whose al-Thani family has allowed the Ikhwan ideologue Yusuf Qaradawi unfettered access to radio and television).
The Syrian Ikhwan, led by Riad al-Shaqfa, keeps a low profile but it can count on Erdogan’s friendship.
The Turkish leader allowed the Brother to hold a press conference in Istanbul where Shaqfa blasted Bashar al-Assad and the whole Assad family. The result was a heightening of tension between Syria and Turkey that has not been lessened to this day.

The American Center for Democracy (ACD) is a Manhattan-based nonprofit that claims to be “exposing and monitoring threats to the national security of the U.S. and Western democracies.”
Although the center has hosted a number of scholars and fellows, it appears to serve primarily as a publishing vehicle for neoconservative writer and activist Rachel Ehrenfeld, its founder and director.
Ehrenfeld, an Israeli-American, is a member of 'the Committee on the Present Danger' and has a doctorate in criminology from the Hebrew University School of Law. (Right Web Info)

Syria: Terrorism eliminated in Hama and Aleppo
Syrian Arab News Agency, 9 February 2018

Damascus, SANA – The General Command of the Army and Armed Forces announced that the Syrian Arab Army, in cooperation with allied forces, liberated a large number of towns, villages, and farms in the countryside of Hama, Idleb, and Aleppo, eliminating a large numbers of the terrorists and destroying their weapons, headquarters, and positions.
The General Command said in a statement on Friday that after a series of successful operations, Syrian Arab Army units destroyed a large number of terrorists, most of them of foreign nationalities, in the countryside of Hama, Aleppo and Idleb, destroying the terrorist organizations’ headquarters, positions, and heavy weapons including car bombs, and seized armored vehicles, tanks, rocket launchers, and large quantities of weapons and ammunition.
The Command said that engineering units are dismantling landmines and explosives planted by the terrorists in the liberated areas.

The statement underlined the strategic importance of this achievement, which lies in the fact that it puts an end to the existence of Daesh (ISIS) terror organization in the provinces of Hama and Aleppo, and eliminates most of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists in the southern countryside of Aleppo, adding that this also secures a number of transport and supply routes between the provinces of Hama and Aleppo and connects the two provinces with al-Badiya desert all the way to the Iraqi border.
The General Command concluded by asserting that the Syrian Arab army is determined to continue its military operations against terrorist organizations until security and stability are restored across Syria.

A New Islamic State Remains a Danger in Iraq: Chaldean Patriarch
AINA|Asia News, 2018-02-09

The danger of an even scarier Islamic State hangs over Iraq's future. If people "remain homeless and without jobs", this situation "will become fertile ground for new extremism;" this is why it is even more urgent "to support the work of reconstruction", this according to Mar Louis Raphael Sako, the primate of the Chaldean Church who is currently in Rome with other Chaldean bishops for an ad Limina Apostolorum visit with the pope in the Vatican.
"Some Christians have been able to return to their homes because the Church has helped in the process of repairing houses and restarting activities," the prelate told AsiaNews. "However, as crucial as this task is, it belongs to the government. And many Muslims "have not benefited".
"Restoring homes, buildings, infrastructures and activities is essential, but to do so requires a strong government with credible plans, a solid economy, an army and a police force capable of patrolling the territory and overcoming sectarian divisions, which are always a source of complication.."
In the past five years, the patriarch has had to face several challenges. "I have always lived with problems, challenges. First came the Islamic State, then the flight of our people, and next the need to help and support them with housing, food, medicine, schools.
"My work is aimed not only at Christians but includes Yazidis and Muslims in difficulty. Charity has helped a lot to build a new relationship with them and establish a different climate of trust."

Flashback - Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako:
"All the West is motivated by is money and power"
By Gianni Valente, Assyrian News Agency, 2014-10-11

If we are to really get rid of extremist groups once and for all, we have to work on education and training and come up with plans that show how false and monstrous this bloodthirsty ideology really is."
Meanwhile, some in the West have made stereotypical references to a clash of civilizations, portraying Muslims as enemies of the Western civilization.
"The reality is that all the West is motivated by is money and power...

The Americans made a lot of mistakes. The current situation is their fault.
Why replace a regime by something even worse? This is what happened after 2003. The Americans deposed a dictator. But under Saddam Hussein at least we had security and work. And what do we have now? Confusion, anarchy and chaos. The same thing has happened in Libya and Syria.
If you want to change the situation here you have to educate the people in the schools, media and mosques in matters of freedom, democracy and the construction of their own country.
It is impossible to install a democracy on the Western pattern here.
Under the old regime prior to 2003 we had no denominational problems. We were all Iraqis. Now we talk about Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, Arabs and Kurds...
Perhaps in the present context we need in the Middle East a strong leader who is at the same time just and not only looking out for his family or tribe.

Israeli raids hit Iranian targets in Syria
Middle East Online, 9-2-2018

Israel struck a dozen Syrian and Iranian targets inside Syria on Saturday in "large-scale" raids after an Israeli fighter jet crashed under fire from Syrian air defences in a severe increase in tensions, the military said.
Israel's raids came after it intercepted what it said was an Iranian drone entering its airspace from Syria, which it labelled an "attack."
Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus warned that Syria and Iran were "playing with fire," but stressed that his country was not seeking an escalation. "This is the most blatant and severe Iranian violation of Israeli sovereignty in the last years," Conricus told journalists in a phone conference. "That's why our response is as severe as it is."

Syria said its air defences repelled two Israeli raids on its military bases in the centre of the country, hitting more than one warplane during the first. "At dawn, the Zionist enemy carried out a new aggression against one of our military bases in the centre of the country," state news agency SANA reported. "Our air defences repelled it and hit more than one plane."
Iran denounced Israeli "lies" and said Syria had the right to "legitimate self-defence" in response to Israeli air strikes.
"Iran believes Syria has the right to legitimate self-defence. To cover their crimes in the region, Israeli officials are resorting to lies against other countries," foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said.
Iran issued a joint statement alongside the other main allies of the Syrian regime, Russia and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, denying the allegations regarding the drone.
"The statement by the Israeli enemy that it was targeted by a drone which entered the airspace of occupied Palestine, is nothing but lies and allegations," the statement said. It said the Israeli air strikes had targeted drones used in the fight against "terrorist organisations, primarily Daesh", using an alternative name for the Islamic State group.
"Iran does not have a military presence in Syria, and has only sent military advisers at the request of the Syrian government," Ghasemi said.

Al-Manar News:: Shortly before Syria downed an Israeli F16 fighter jet on Saturday, the occupation army claimed that an “Iranian drone” had violated the so-called “Israeli airspace”. Tel Aviv aimed from this move to say that its strikes on military posts in Syria were just “defensive” or that they come in context of “retaliation.”
However, the Command of Syria’s Allies dismissed such claims, stressing that the drone which the Zionist regime was talking about was operating over the Syrian airspace.
Our drone took off from Tifur airport and was carrying out a normal anti-ISIL mission over Syrian Badiyah,” Syria’s Allies Command said in a statement.

Russia called for "restraint" from all parties in Syria, and said it considered risking the lives of Russian soldiers "absolutely unacceptable" following the large-scale Israeli air strikes.
"We strongly call on all sides involved to show restraint and avoid all acts that could lead to complicating the situation further," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.
"It is absolutely unacceptable to create threats to the lives and security of Russian soldiers that are in the Syrian Arab Republic on the invitation of the legal government to assist in the fight against terrorism," it added.
Russia, Iran and Lebanon's Shiite Muslim militant group Hezbollah -- which is backed by Tehran -- all support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war.

Washington Says Israel-Syria Border Incident
Iran's 'Calculated Escalation'
Sputnik News, 11.02.2018

Pentagon spokesman Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway told Sputnik that the United States is concerned about "destabilizing activities" of Iran and supports Israel's right to defend itself.
"Israel is our closest security partner in the region and we fully support Israel’s inherent right to defend itself against threats to its territory and its people. We share the concerns of many throughout the region that Iran’s destabilizing activities that threaten international peace and security, and we seek greater international resolve in countering Iran’s malign activities," Rankine-Galloway said.
The spokesman stressed that the US Defense Department did not take part in this military operation.

Jamil: Israeli Airstrikes Attempt to Prevent Syria From Settlement
Sputnik News, 11-2-2018

The latest Israeli airstrikes on military facilities in Syria is one more attempt of hostile forces to prevent a political solution for the conflict-torn country, Qadri Jamil, the leader of the Moscow platform of the Syrian opposition, said in a statement on Saturday.
"The new Zionist aggression and bombing of Syrian military sites is an extension of the campaign of escalation initiated by the war forces in the US administration, whether directly through the US warplanes bombing of Syrian military sites in Deir al-Zour and the propaganda campaign about chemical weapons, or through the Turkish aggression on Afrin… or through the field escalation carried out by the terrorist Al-Nusra Front," Jamil said.
According to the IDF, during the attack, "multiple anti-aircraft missiles were fired at IAF," and one F16 fighter jet crashed in Israel. An IAF pilot was severely injured and transferred to a hospital. In the second wave of the attack, the Israeli forces struck 12 targets in Syria, including Syrian air defense batteries and Iranian military facilities, the IDF said.
"All of which constitute a single series, in attempts to exploit the emerging situation during the years of the crisis to establish international influence in Syria, and to prevent the political solution that the Allies could impose as a regional and international option through a major military and diplomatic effort, which gained a new momentum after the Intra-Syrian Dialogue Conference [in Sochi, Russia]," Jamil added.
According to Jamil, Syrians will continue searching for the political solution on the basis of the UN resolution 2254, as it is the "way to restore national sovereignty over the entire Syrian territory."

Ron Paul 2017: Iran more dangerous then Isis?

Iran: Syria's Downing of Israeli Warplane Shows End of Hit-and-Run Era
FARS News Agency, 11-2-2018

TEHRAN (FNA)- Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani rejected Israeli claims that the F16 fighter jet downed by the Syrian army was on a mission to target an Iranian drone, stressing that Damascus move contained a vital message to Israel.
"There is an important point in the recent events and in targeting an Israeli fighter jet: the Syrian army showed to the Zionists that the era of hit-and-run has ended," Shamkhani told FNA...
Asked about Israeli officials' claims that they had flown the F16 fighter jet, which was downed by the Syrian army, to intercept an Iranian drone flying over the occupied territories, he said, "It is an irrational claim as no F16 fighter takes off to target a drone."
Shamkhani dismissed the Zionists' claim that they have attacked an Iranian base in Syria [the T-4 airbase], and said, "We play an advisory role in Syria."
In relevant remarks on Saturday, Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Hossein Salami underlined that Iran does not confirm any report by Tel Aviv, including its report on downing an Iranian drone, as Israel is the source of fake news.
"We don’t confirm any news by Israel. If the Syrians confirm, we will confirm too; because the Israelis are liars," General Salami said on Saturday when asked by reporters about Israeli officials' claim about downing an Iranian drone at the border between Syria and the territories occupied by Israel.

Info: The Tiyas Military Airbase, also known as the T-4 Airbase is a Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) base located in the Homs Governorate, north of Tiyas, and west of the ancient city of Palmyra, Syria. The Tiyas Military Airbase is the largest airbase in Syria.

Bennett: Those who act against us pay a price
Arutz Sheva Staff, 11/02/2018

Israeli Minister of Education and member of the Political Security Cabinet Naftali Bennett said this morning, Sunday, that Israel intends to cause as much damage as it can to Iranian forces in Syria if attacked.
Early Saturday morning, an Iranian drone entered Israeli airspace from Syria, remaining in Israel some 90 seconds before the IAF shot it down. In response to the provocation, Israel attacked the drone's command center. During the IAF operation, Syrian surface-to-air missiles downed an Israeli F-16I fighter jet, injuring two pilots who were evacuated to Rambam Hospital in Haifa.
"We decided to hit the head of the octopus, and this symmetry will make it clear that there is a price to those who act against us," Bennett said in an interview on Reshet Bet.
He noted that Israel will not tolerate any provocation. "We will not restrain ourselves over violations of our sovereignty. We maintain our right to act where we need to defend ourselves. We will not wait for our enemy to reach the fence to repel it. We are preventing Iran from establishing itself in Syria."
When asked about Russia's conduct in the incident, Minister Bennett hinted that the Russians could not be relied upon. "I think we'll continue to protect ourselves with our own forces.

Gilad Atzmon: The Jewish Timeline – From Moses to Bibi, 11-2-2018

"I suggest that perhaps the Jewish timeline is a sophisticated blindfolding mechanism that is set to deny Jews the ability to self-reflect, to see reality for what it is, to see the other as an equal human being with equal needs.
Judaic thought has occasionally been aware of itself as a castrating mechanism. The Biblical prophets, for instance, had flashes of such self-reflection. They introduced a timeline, a reason, a logos or shall we say a rationale, but in that they were defeated time after time..."

Former Qaeda leader in Syria ‘welcomes’ Israeli airstrikes
By Dov Lieber, Times of Israel, 11 February 2018

In a rare public expression of support for Israel by a radical Islamist figure in Syria, Saleh Al-Hamwi, one of the founders of Al Qaeda's Nusra Front (now called Jaish al-Fatih), on Saturday welcomed Israeli airstrikes against Syrian and Iranian targets in the country after an Iranian drone infiltrated Israeli airspace, and called on the Jewish state to quickly “uproot” Iran from its northern neighbor.
“We welcome any Israeli aerial or naval bombardment against the [Syrian] regime and Iran in Syria. We urge them to do more. And we say to Israel: Your silence over Iran’s intervention in Syria will turn against you. It’s inevitable. Act with haste to uproot them,” Saleh Al-Hamwi wrote on Twitter.
Hamwi was a founder of the Nusra Front in 2012. In July 2015, the jihadist group said it dismissed him for not falling in line with the group’s internal politics. He is now reportedly affiliated with the hardline Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham.

aleppo 2016 - ahrar al-sham

Defeat of ISIS in Iraq Caused $45.7 Billion in Damage to Infrastructure
By Michael R. Gordon and Isabel Coles, Wall Street Journal, 11-2-2018

The military campaign that defeated Islamic State militants in Iraq has resulted in $45.7 billion in damage to the country’s houses, power plants, schools and other civilian infrastructure, according to a new assessment by experts at the World Bank and the Iraqi government.
The assessment is expected to frame deliberations at a three-day conference this week in Kuwait on how to rebuild Iraq that will be attended that by international investors, aid experts and ranking diplomats..
“Iraq is emerging from a devastating period of conflict and violence,” the study said. “The immediate concern is to restore the productive means of livelihood for millions of people in agriculture, services, and industry.”

Most of the fighting was concentrated in seven predominantly Sunni provinces in northern and western Iraq.
Failure by the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad to reconstruct those areas so that Iraqis displaced by the conflict can return and rebuild their lives could leave them vulnerable to extremist influences and aggravate sectarian tensions.
Last month, the number of Iraqis who have returned home surpassed the number of those who are still displaced. More than two million remain uprooted, however, and many of those who have gone back are living in ruined buildings with limited services.
The damage to the housing sector is $16 billion, while damage to electrical power plants and the power sector is $7 billion, according to the assessment. Damage to the educational sector is assessed at $2.4 billion.
Repairing schools is a priority for a country in which the median age is 20 years old. Most of the schools in Mosul, Ramadi and Fallujah have been damaged or destroyed...
While repairing the war damage is costly, the ultimate cost of getting the seven provinces back on their feet is almost twice the damage figure.
When the costs of improving governance, upgrading oil and gas infrastructure and other “recovery” expenses are factored in, the needs of the largely Sunni areas rise to $88.2 billion, the assessment said.