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.
"...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
“Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you can not retain.”
(Persian poet & humanist, born in Shiraz, Iran, c. 1210)
Israel needs to stop being an ideology and start being a nation. A nation of all of its citizens, all with equal national, civil and religious rights.
After 70 years, only partial justice and restoration is possible for the Palestinian people. Whatever constitutional arrangements are arrived at, equality should be the guiding principle at work.
As for Zionism let’s ditch it and move on. 'It’s time to place it in a glass cabinet and put it in a museum in a room marked: ‘Dead Ends & False Messiahs’.
There is no “Judaeo-Christian heritage.”
"The practices under which Jesus was raised in Galilee were anathema to Judaic orthodoxy. One might discern the seedbed of Christianity and the teachings of Jesus within “Galilee of the Gentiles” and why his teachings were regarded with outrage by the Pharisaic priesthood. One can also discern why there has been such a hatred of Christianity and Jesus in the rabbinical teachings of the Talmud and elsewhere.
The phenomenon of such an oddity as “Christian Zionism” is for Zionists and the Orthodox rabbinate (which should not be confounded with Reform Judaism) nothing more than the equivalent of a “shabbez goy,” a Gentile hired by Orthodox Jews to undertake menial tasks on the Sabbath. “Judaeo-Christianity” only exists in the minds of craven Gentiles who embrace delusional creeds, or who wish to further their careers by making the correct noises to the right people.
(Kerry R Bolton, Foreign Policy Journal, May 29, 2018)
"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)
Egypt President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said on Monday that Nelson Mandela's life represented the hope of African people for dignity and independence, saying other African icons also played the same role including late Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser.
In a speech at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, which is held on the sidelines of the 73rd of the United Nations General Assembly "UNGA" in New York, El-Sisi said that there was a true need to solve roots of conflicts and to respect human rights.
"Today's gathering provides a great opportunity to provide our children with better education and to reduce the rate of unemployment among the youth," El-Sisi said. He also stressed the importance of protecting the youth against the danger of extremism and terrorism.
Earlier on Monday, the president met with his Lebanese counterpart Michel Aoun, expressing Egypt's support for the security and stability of all Arab countries and the rejection of foreign interference in their domestic affairs.
Nelson Mandela Peace Summit Declaration:
"We resolve to move beyond words in the promotion of
just, inclusive and non‑discriminatory societies" United Nations, 24-9-2018
Unanimously adopting a political declaration at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, nearly 100 Heads of State and Government, Ministers, Member States and representatives of civil society today committed to redoubling efforts to build a just, peaceful, prosperous, inclusive and fair world, as they paid tribute to the late South African President’s celebrated qualities and service to humanity. Recognizing the period from 2019 to 2028 as the Nelson Mandela Decade of Peace, the Declaration saluted Mr. Mandela for his humility, forgiveness and compassion, acknowledging as well his contribution to the struggle for democracy and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world
By the text, Heads of State and Government and Member States representatives reaffirmed their commitment to uphold the sovereign equality of all States and respect for their territorial integrity and political independence, as well as the duty of Member States to refrain from the threat or use of force.
“We resolve to move beyond words in the promotion of peaceful, just, inclusive and non‑discriminatory societies,” leaders pledged, as they stressed the importance of the equal participation and full involvement of women and youth. They also declared that racism, xenophobia and related intolerance represent the very opposite of the purposes of the United Nations...
Opening the Summit, María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés (Ecuador), President of the General Assembly, said throughout Mr. Mandela’s life he was always guided by the principles that are the bedrock of the United Nations, including the values of peace, solidarity, cooperation and respect for all humans. His legacy, she underscored, represents a light of hope for a world still torn apart by conflict and at the mercy of threats... António Guterres, Secretary‑General of the United Nations, remembered Mr. Mandela as “one of humanity’s great leaders” who embodied the highest values of the United Nations. As a political prisoner, he refused to allow his dignity to be undermined, and as President of his country, he championed women’s rights and its 1996 Constitution, which remains a beacon for human rights and equal opportunity. “Everywhere, he was a champion for peace, forgiveness, humility, compassion, dignity and human rights,” he said.
When US President Donald Trump began his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, he started out in true fashion by touting his own record, saying, “My administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.”
But the bravado backfired, drawing audible laughter from the audience. “I didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s OK,” the ruffled president said.
The crowd’s response highlighted UN members’ opposition to the US president and his attacks on the UN and many of its core missions and institutions.
Last year, before his first speech to the UN, Trump withdrew the US from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This year, his administration pulled funding for the UN organization that offers health care and education to Palestinian refugees, boycotted a UN agreement on migration policy, and withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council.
Such unilateral moves have provoked the ire of UN officials grappling to confront global crises with cooperation among nations.
Earlier this week, former UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon criticized the US health-care system as morally wrong, and advocated for universal health care as a “human right.”
“It’s not easy to understand why such a country like the United States, the most resourceful and richest country in the world, does not introduce universal health coverage,” Ban told The Guardian. “Nobody would understand why almost 30 million people are not covered by insurance.”
Against such a backdrop of criticism and unease, Trump waltzed into the General Assembly on Tuesday to give his own nationalistic speech.
“America is governed by Americans,” he said. “We reject the ideology of globalism and accept the ideology of patriotism.”
Unsurprisingly, his wide-ranging speech was marked by antagonism toward nations around the world, and championed America’s own military might and exceptionalism.
Trump went on to celebrate Saudi Arabia’s US-supported war on Yemen, which has produced catastrophic casualties. His saber-rattling against Iran and his promise further to undermine Venezuelan sovereignty point to future conflicts on the horizon... When discussing the Middle East, he made clear his administration’s ardent support for Israel’s war on Palestine.
Trump exacerbated tensions in the Middle East this year when moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The move was denounced throughout the world, and resulted in massive protests in Gaza and the West Bank in which more than 50 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces. Trump’s disdain for the International Criminal Court was also on full display at the UN.
“The United States will provide no support and recognition for the International Criminal Court. As far as we are concerned the ICC has no legitimacy or authority,” Trump said. “We will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable body.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged the members of the United Nations on Thursday to work toward a political solution to the conflict with Israel, calling the United States too "biased" to serve as a lone mediator.
Abbas said economic and humanitarian support in the occupied West Bank and Gaza cannot be a substitute for a political situation to the conflict with Israel. He also stated that the Trump administration has undermined the two-state solution.
Abbas called on U.S. President Donald Trump to rescind his decisions recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and cutting aid to the Palestinians, which he said had undermined the two-state solution to the Middle East conflict. "Jerusalem is not for sale," Abbas said to applause as he began his speech at the annual U.N. General Assembly. "The Palestinian people's rights are not up for bargaining."
He said Palestinians would never reject negotiation, but that "it's really ironic that the American administration still talks about what they call the 'deal of the century.'" "What is left for this administration to give to the Palestinian people?" he asked. "What is left as a political solution?"
"With all of these decisions, this administration has reneged on all previous U.S. commitments, and has undermined the two-state solution," Abbas said. "I renew my call to President Trump to rescind his decisions and decrees regarding Jerusalem, refugees and settlements."
Abbas said the U.S. has "reneged on its agreements," and for that reason, Palestine cannot uphold their end of the deal. "The U.S. cannot be a mediator alone because it is too biased toward Israel," he said, adding that Washington could join the quartet of states working toward a solution.
Abbas said the Palestinian people would not resort to violence despite broken promises by the U.S. and Israel. He said, "We are not redundant. Why are we treated as redundant people who should be gotten rid of?"
Palestinian Authority (PA) chief negotiator Saeb Erekat (on Thursday evening) accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of “victimizing the criminal” following the Prime Minister’s speech at the UN General Assembly.
“Netanyahu’s speech is a combination of old and well-known talking points that conclude on victimizing the criminal and blaming the victim.
His speech further exposes Israel’s systematic denial of our right to exist, to live in freedom and to celebrate our national identity,” said Erekat in a statement.
“The reality on the ground in occupied Palestine is a manifestation of what Israel is: a colonial- apartheid state.
Despite the oppression, racism and daily violence, the proud and resilient people of Palestine will continue to remain steadfast and to believe in the achievement of our inalienable rights, to live in freedom and in dignity,” he continued.
“For the Israeli government, not only the issues of Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugees are off the table, but also Palestine's very existence,” concluded Erekat’s statement.
In his speech, Netanyahu blasted PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas for opposing the Jewish people to have a right to their own state and for asserting that the Nationality Law approved by the Knesset proves that Israel is a racist, apartheid state.
“President Abbas, you proudly pay Palestinian terrorists who murder Jews. In fact, the more they slay, the more you pay. That’s in their law too. And you condemn Israel’s morality? You call Israel racist?”
“This is not the way to peace. This is not the way to achieve the peace we all want and need and to which Israel remain committed. This body should not be applauding the head of a regime that pays terrorists. The UN should condemn such a despicable policy,” said the Prime Minister... The Nationality Law states that Israel is the Jewish people's nation state.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed that Iran has a secret “atomic warehouse” in Tehran, which has contained as much as whopping 300 tons of “nuclear-related material.”
" What I am about to say has not been shared publicly before...I am disclosing for the first time that Iran has another secret facility in Tehran." Netanyahu showed a photo of the "innocent looking compound" in Tehran, while naming the street that it is located on.
Israeli leader claimed that that the Iranians have been trying to vacate the warehouse after Tel Aviv’s raid on the “archive” and urged nations with satellite capabilities to keep close eye on the location, as such activity might grow after his statement.
Since we raided the atomic archive, they've been busy cleaning out the atomic warehouse. Just last month they removed 15 kilograms of radioactive material. You know what they did with it? They took it out and they spread it around Tehran in an effort to hide the evidence. He urged Tehran residents to go and get a Geiger counter “from Amazon” to check for radiation in the city.
The warehouse allegedly houses “15 ship containers,” which can contain some 300 tons of of “nuclear-related material,” according to Netanyahu.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Saturday rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s allegations of a new “secret atomic warehouse” near Tehran, branding it the latest “nonsense” claim regarding the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program in a string of “wrong” claims dating back to 1992.
“He’s just trying to find a smokescreen,” Zarif told CBS’s “Face the Nation” in an excerpt from an interview released Saturday night.
“He’s been making allegations about Iran since 1992,” said a smiling Zarif. “In 1992, according to him, we were supposed to have finished making a bomb in about five years. In 1996 still five years. So he’s been on the record — even testifying before Congress — that Iran is just about to make a nuclear weapon.” Zarif rejected all of Netanyahu’s claims.
“The previous allegations that Netanyahu made have been investigated by the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] and have been rejected,” Zarif said. “He’s been wrong about the previous [allegations] and he’s wrong about this one… They are nonsense.”
Chabad emmisary Rabbi Levi Shemtov visited the White House with a set of four species (four plants mentioned in the Torah, Leviticus 23:40) and lets dozens of Jewish advisers and officials to bless over them on the Sukkot holiday.
The Jewish daughter of President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump-Kushner, blessed the Four Species under the guidance of Rabbi Shemtov, who has been accompanying the Kushners since Trump was elected President and began working as senior advisers in the White House. On Yom Kippur media photographers filmed Ivanka strolling to synagogue...
Ivanka was photographed with her 7-year-old daughter Arbella and two-year-old son Theodor... Kushner and 4-year-old Joseph arrived at the synagogue about an hour earlier....
Rabbi Levi Shemtov, the rabbi in charge of the National Hanukkah Menorah lighting, used the ceremony, to criticize the Obama administration's decision to allow the United Nations to pass a resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and portions of Jerusalem as illegal.
Levi Shemtov, executive vice president of American Friends of Lubavitch, turned an Obama administration official's speech about "fighting darkness with light" on its head, evoking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and urging Jews not to despair about the "darkness" cast by the United Nations vote.
Shemtov spoke after remarks by Adam Szubin, the Obama administration's representative at the event...
"Secretary Szubin spoke before of fighting darkness with light," Shemtov said. "I remember those words being spoken to a particular man by the Rebbe [Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson] many many years ago..."
"That man was Benjamin Netanyahu, and he was at the time the ambassador to the United Nations."
"The Rebbe told him you are working in a place where there is great grief and darkness, but remember that in that place of darkness, you can only counter it by lighting a candle..."
"So as I know that some of us are so sad at what happened there with regard to Israel," Shemtov said. "We must remember that [..] when we create light, the darkness dissipates." The event included the lighting of the 30-foot menorah, as well as songs, men dressed as Maccabees standing as ceremonial guards..
Rabbi Levi Shemtov is the founder and spiritual leader of TheSHUL of the Nation’s Capital.
He is also the Executive Vice President of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) and serves the daily governmental and diplomatic needs of the international Chabad-Lubavitch movement, the world's largest and fastest growing Jewish network of educational and social service institutions, with over 3,500 centers in 49 states and over 80 countries.
He maintains close relationships with numerous members of the United States Congress, senior Administration officials and leaders in the international community, including a number of heads of state and government. (www.capitol.org)
After a whirlwind week, Trump team members poured into the Kushner residence to celebrate Shabbat Friday evening as the First Daughter and her husband finally relaxed.
Wilbur Ross and his wife Hilary Geary Ross came. President Trump's Strategic Communications Director Hope Hicks, Ivanka's unofficial adviser Dina Habib Powell also came. Former president of Goldman Sachs and top economic policy adviser Gary Cohn, Department of the Treasury pick Steve Mnuchin and his partner Louise Linton all entered the Kushner home to enjoy Shabbat festivities.
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner's home was in a frenzy earlier in the day on Friday afternoon, as people worked to get the house ready for Shabbat.
A florist, a rabbi, caterers and a glam squad were pictured entering the couple's new D.C. home. Rabbi Levi Shemtov, the Rabbi of the Kushners was also present Friday afternoon.
Ivanka Trump: "I'm a very traditional person"
The Chabad synagogue where the Kushner’s are members is located just blocks from Ivanka and Jared’s new home. It’s called TheShul... In Orthodox synagogues, by tradition, men and women are separated by a wall divider during prayer services.
Ivanka converted to Orthodox Judaism before she married Jared Kushner in 2009.
She told Vogue in an interview: "We’re pretty observant, more than some, less than others... I am very modern, but I’m also a very traditional person.."
Restoration of the Bet Hamikdash
Mashiach shall restore the Temple (Bet Hamikdash) in Jerusalem. This refers to the third Bet Hamikdash that will stand forever, in fulfillment of the Divine prophecy of Ezekiel 37:26-28: “I shall give My Sanctuary in their midst forever... The nations shall know that I am G‑d who sanctifies Israel, when My Sanctuary shall be in the midst of them forever.”
Ingathering of the Exiles of Israel
Through Mashiach shall be effected the ingathering of all the exiles of Israel.
Deuteronomy 30:3-4: “G‑d, your G‑d, shall bring back your captivity… and He will return and gather you from all the nations whither G‑d, your G‑d, has scattered you... This Divine promise of the return and restoration of Israel is unconditional. It will occur even if the people should not want to return:
“As I live, says the Lord G‑d, I shall surely rule over them with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with fury poured out.. I shall pass you under the rod and bring you into the covenant…
You shall know that I am G‑d when I bring you to the earth of Israel, to the land about which I raised My hand to give it to your fathers.” (Ezekiel 20:32-37, 40-42)
The Messianic era will mark the end of evil and sin:
Zechariah 13:2: “It shall be in that day… thatI shall cut off the names of the idols from the earth and they shall no longer be remembered; and I shall also remove from the earth the [false] prophets and the spirit of impurity.”
Isaiah 60:21: “Your people shall all be righteous, they shall inherit the land forever…”
The sole preoccupation of the whole world will be to know G‑d.
Mashiach shall mend the whole world so that all shall serve G‑d in unity..
Isaiah 2:2-3 and Michah 4:1-2: “…The mountain of G‑d’s House shall be established at the top of the mountains and it shall be raised above the hills, and all the nations shall stream to it.
Many peoples shall go and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of G‑d, to the House of the G‑d of Jacob...
Blissful Utopia: End to Disease and Death
The wondrous events and conditions of the Messianic era will completely overshadow all and any miracles that happened before then, even those associated with the exodus from Egypt...
Our longing for the Messianic era is not for the sake of dominating the world, to rule over the heathens, or to be exalted by the nations... It is, rather, to have relief from the powers that presently do not allow us to be preoccupied with Torah and mitzvot properly. The sole preoccupation of the whole world will be to know G‑d. The Israelites will be great sages: they will know things that are presently concealed, and will achieve knowledge of their Creator to the utmost capacity of human beings...
“Israel is becoming one of the most ignorant countries in the world,” Gideon Levy - Haaretz correspondent - says.
“Someone said it’s better to keep the people ignorant … The young generation know nothing about nothing.
Try to talk here with young people – they’ve no idea. The most basic things – ask them who was Ben Gurion, ask them who was Moshe Dayan. Ask them what is the ‘Green Line’. Ask them where is Jenin. Nothing. Even before the brainwashing, the ignorance – part of what they know is totally wrong.”
Talk to the average young Israeli and a European waiter will speak better English, Levy claims. Knowledge of the Holocaust and foreign travel for a young Israeli “will be mainly an experience of a trip with their high school to Auschwitz, where you are being told that power is the only thing which you should possess – military power, that’s the only guarantee, nothing else but military power; and that Israel has the right to do whatever it wants after the Holocaust. These are the lessons. But this is nothing to do with knowledge.”
Yes, there is “a narrow level of brilliant intellectuals”, but a recent survey suggested half of Israeli youth receive a Third World education.
We – and here I am included in Levy’s generation – came into the world after “very dramatic events”. The Second World War...“There was some historical luggage on our shoulders.. Today it is more empty, finally, in terms of historical events. Even in this region. What is happening here? Nothing – more of the same. Fifty years of occupation, nothing basically changed.
We are in the very same framework … sure, more settlements, sure, more brutality and sure, less of a feeling that it’s temporary. It’s very clear now that it’s not going to be temporary. This is part and parcel of Israel.”
"Israel is very nationalistic and very right wing and very religious – much more than you think – and the Israeli government is a very good reflection of the Israeli people.
And Netanyahu’s the best presenter of Israel. He is by far too educated for Israel – but in his views, this is Israel. Power, power and power – maintaining the status quo for ever, not believing in the Arabs at all. Not believing in any kind of settlement with the Arabs, ever. And living only on our sword, a total state of war.”
Relations with the US are easy. “I’m not sure people are aware now how much Netanyahu dictates American policy. Anything that is decided now – UNRWA [the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine], all the cuts – it comes from Israel. Trump couldn’t care less. You think he knew what UNRWA was before? Racism is now politically correct.” So where did it all go wrong? “First of all, in 1967, that’s the greatest sin. It all starts there. And if you want, you can say 1948 – because 1948 never stopped in 1948... We could really have opened a new chapter...."
US should not meddle in the affairs of other countries if it really abides by the principle of sovereignty, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday at a news conference on the results of his participation in the week of high-level meetings as part of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly. When a reporter asked him whose speech - US President Donald Trump’s or UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’s - he liked more, Lavrov answered he supported the Secretary General "who firmly stands for the sovereignty of every country in the world".
"I support this [stance] very strongly," he said.
He mentioned Trump’s speech, too: "If the US is committed to sovereignty as the fundamental principle, it shouldn’t meddle in other countries’ affairs then," Lavrov said.
In his recent address to the 39th session of the Human Rights Council, SRSG and UNSMIL head Ghassan Salame, said that UNSMIL has pushed for concrete and balanced steps to build (non-militia based) state security institutions in Libya.
He said that UNSMIL had encouraged the Libyan authorities to revise the Tripoli security arrangements and undo what he called the “intolerable and unsustainable status quo”.
It will be recalled that the 2015 Skhirat Libyan Political Agreement stipulates that the heavy weapons that were used in Tripoli’s militia fighting should be stored outside all urban centres. It also stipulates for the formation of non-militia based army and police.
However, the weak Faiez Serraj administration which depends on Tripoli militias to prop it up, has been unable to reform militias into an accountable army and police.
This failure has been a major bone of contention between the Serraj-led Presidency Council and Government of National Accord on the one hand, and the eastern-based authorities in the form of the House of Representatives and Khalifa Hafter and his Libyan National Army. It is one of the main reasons why the eastern-based authorities have refused to recognize the Serraj Government of National Accord.
It has also been a major reason for Libya’s whole political process stalling, with Libya stuck in its current transitional stage.
fayez - gangs - haftar
Salame went on to say that Libya’s security cannot remain with the armed groups (militias) which continue violating international humanitarian law and human rights while using foreign mercenaries, especially in the the south of Libya.
He reported that this month’s Tripoli militia clashes resulted in 120 dead, 400 injured, 5.000 displaced and increased abductions and looting that underline the consequences of Libya’s lawlessness. He said that the long-enjoyed impunity of Libya’s militias must be challenged and all grave violations punished.
He also pointed out the resurgence of ISIS in Libya, as terror attacks rise, noting that 57 people have been killed in 14 attacks since the start of the year... It is not clear if now Serraj will have the courage to reform Tripoli’s militias. It is also not clear if he can and whether they will give up their huge power and influence.
The latest Tripoli militia fighting has also puts Faiez Serraj’s position as head of the Presidency Council in question with the House of Representatives and the High State Council at least now talking about reforming the Presidency Council. It has become more unlikely that Serraj will remain as its head.
Russia will continue the fight against terrorism in Syria, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated.
"The fight against terrorist organizations in Syria goes on, and we should continue this fight," the spokesman told journalists.
In reply to the question about Iran’s missile strike on Syria, he noted: "As for the illegitimate presence of foreign troops and foreign armed forces in Syria, Russia’s position on this has been quite clear."
On Monday morning, Iran launched multiple missiles into eastern Syria, targeting militants allegedly involved in the September 22 attack on a military parade in Ahvaz, which killed at least 29 and injured about 60 people.
Moscow repeatedly stated that it stands against illegitimate foreign intervention in Syrian military operations
Seven drones and six precision-strike ballistic missiles have been used on terrorist targets in the Abu Kamal region of eastern Syria in response to the September 22 attack in Ahvaz, southwestern Iran, according to state media.
The domestically-made drone, the so-called Saeqeh was used by the IRGC during the attack on the command center of the Daesh* terrorists in Syria. The Fars News agency has posted the video of the drone attack on its website and the footage has also emerged on social media.
Some of the drones were the Saeqeh model (Thunderbolt) which is an unmanned Simorgh (Phoenix) class aerial vehicle and has the capability of simultaneously hitting four targets with smart missiles that have pinpoint precision-strike capability at long distances.
The Simorgh drone is a version of the US Sentinel RQ-170 spy drone that has been updated to include reconnaissance, surveillance, combat and bombing capabilities.
Last month's shooting in the Iranian city of Ahvaz killed 24 people and was claimed by the Daesh* terrorist group.
Minister of Education Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), demanded that Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman act forcefully against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
"I expect Minister Liberman to attack Hamas, not me. Liberman's policy vis-a-vis Hamas is weak and leftist. He pulls the whole government to the left. Hamas has become more brazen every day," Bennett said.
"From the first moment, I determined that launchers of incendiary kites should be shot, and Liberman instead exhibits restraint and conveys weakness....’"
"In the past few days Hamas terrorists have been firing Molotov cocktails at the residents of the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip... It's time for a right-wing iron policy."
Yesterday, Liberman said in an interview with Yediot Aharonot that Bennett represents the “messianic and zealous” Right...
"The next elections will be marked by a struggle between a messianic and zealous Right and a sovereign and responsible right-wing state that I represent," Liberman said.
"Naftali Bennett has started his election campaign. He does not talk at all about education.
He is willing to sacrifice education and security in order to earn one [Knesset] seat. It’s fortunate that he doesn’t blame me for global warming.”
Avigdor Lieberman, born Evet Lvovich Liberman, 5 July 1958, is a Soviet-born Israeli politician who served as the Defense Minister of Israel.
He served as Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2009 to 2012, and again from 2013 to 2015. He has also served as member of the Knesset and as Deputy Prime Minister of Israel.
He is the founder and leader of the secular-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, whose electoral base are overwhelmingly Russian-speaking immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
The party describes itself as "a national movement with the clear vision to follow in the bold path of Zev Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism.
As a result of the arrival in Israel during the 1990s of more than one million Russian-speaking immigrants, Yisrael Beiteinu has regularly played the 'king-maker' role in Israel's coalition governments. (Wikipedia info)
Syrians living in the occupied Golan Heights have expressed excitement about the imminent opening of the border crossing with their home country. Salman Fakhreddin, a Golan activist, told Arab News that different groups in the area had been waiting for years to be able to travel.
“Apple farmers will be able to sell their products in Syria for much better rates than they are getting now because the market has been flooded with apples.”
Fakhreddin also noted that students could finish their university studies in Syria, which had provided scholarships for Golani students.
The UN Disengagement Observer Force, (UNDOF) has begun to slowly return to the border between the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Syria.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman welcomed the return of the UNDOF soldiers and indicated that Israel would welcome the reopening of the border posts.
“UNDOF troops have started working and patrolling, with IDF assistance. This shows that we are ready to open the crossing as it was before. The ball is now in Syria’s court,” Liberman said. The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) was established on May 31, 1974 by Security Council resolution 350 (1974), following the agreed disengagement of the Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan.
The Russian Ministry of Defence said yesterday that the Syrian government is also ready to reopen the Quneitra border crossing with Israel.
“The border crossing is ready for opening and for launching operations. This comes due to a great effort carried out by the Armed Forces of the Syrian Arab Republic with the assistance of the Russian Aerospace Forces,” said Lieutenant General Sergei Kuralenko, deputy commander of Russian forces in Syria.
The Syrian government regained control of the Quneitra crossing on 26 July as part of a settlement agreement that led to the armed opposition groups leaving the area. (Middle East Monitor, October 3, 2018)
On Tuesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Moscow had finalized the delivery of 49 units of S-300 air defense systems to Syria.
The decision to boost the security of Russian troops on the ground follows an accidental downing of an Il-20 aircraft on September 20.
Sergei Shoigu has said that the Syrian army will spend the next three months learning how to use the complexes.
The defense minister has said that Moscow will take a number of measures to boost the safety of its troops in Syria, including the deliveries of the S-300 systems. This comes in the wake of the crash of an Il-20 military plane off the coast of Syria, which Russia believes Israel was responsible for.
Shiite politician Adil Abdul Mahdi has been appointed prime minister by new Iraqi president Barham Saleh, bringing to a close months of gridlock in Iraqi politics...
Adil Abdul Mahdi is a member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq or ISCI (formerly the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq) and is the first post-2003 prime minister not to be from the largely lay fundamentalist Shiite party, the Da`wa (The Islamic Call Party).
Abdul Aziz al-Hakim played a leading role in the 'Safar Intifada' in Iraq in 1977 and was imprisoned by the Iraqi government in 1972, 1977 and 1979. He went into exile in Iran in 1980, where he was a founding member in 1982 of Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). With the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in 2003 with the US-led invasion, Al-Hakim and SCIRI returned to Iraq. (Wikipedia info)
The Da`wa was founded in the late 1950s, it is said, to combat the attractions of Communism and Baath Arab nationalist socialism for Shiite young people. Its leaders tried to imagine a Shiite paradise, with an emphasis on social justice, to oppose the Marxists’ Workers Paradise. Some of its leaders were clerics, but it was a largely lay party and even its clerical ideologues envisaged some sort of elected government.
The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq was founded in Tehran in 1982 at the suggestion of Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, the clerical Leader of Iran.
It is controversial, but Adel Abdul Mahdi is said by Aljazeera to have been one of the founding members in Tehran. As a young man he favored secular, socialist and Arab nationalist ideas... At some point Abdul Mahdi swung to the religious right... ISCI says it has given up its Khomeinism, and now functions as a religious-right party in a parliamentary framework instead of pushing for rule by ayatollah. Abdul Mahdi is despite his party allegiance a pragmatist and is not an Iran cat’s paw. But his government will inevitably have warm relations with Iran, and where they can, the Iraqis will buck the Trump administration in its push to isolate and boycott Iran. For one thing, Iraq is broke and can’t afford to boycott Iran, one of its bigger trade partners that has provided it with electricity in some provinces and offered use of its roads and ports.
Saddam Hussein: Secular and a friend of Palestine
Question: "Do you have evidence that they have collaborated with the Al-Qaeda or are part of the whole terrorist network... ? Condoleeza Rice (national security advisor in the Bush administration): "The case with Iraq has to do with the weapons of mass destruction they're acquiring, the threat that they are to the region... I would not be in the least surprised if they are supporting Al-Qaeda..." (august 2002)
More on the history of the Supreme Council: Khomeini had led a revolution against the king or shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in 1978-79. Clerics then gradually took over Iran. Khomeini called on the Iraqi Shiites, 60% of the population, to rise up against the Baathist, secular, socialist, Arab nationalist government.
Saddam Hussein, who came to power in a putsch that year, outlawed the Da’wa Party in response. Thousands of Iraqi Shiites were deported to Iran or fled for fear of being executed if they had been activists. Those thousands of Iraqi expatriates in Iran were the initial constituency for the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
The United Nations' top court has issued an interim order that requests the United States to lift sanctions linked to humanitarian goods and civil aviation imposed against Iran - a move welcomed by Tehran.
"On humanitarian grounds, the US must remove by means of its choosing any impediment to the free exportation to Iran of goods involving humanitarian concerns," the International Court of Justice (ICJ) said in its ruling on Wednesday. The ICJ's rulings are binding, but it has no power to enforce them.
"The decision proved once again that the Islamic Republic is right and the US sanctions against people and citizens of our country are illegal and cruel," Iran's foreign ministry said in a statement.
Tehran had urged the ICJ, also known as the World Court, to order Washington to suspend the sanctions temporarily while it hears Iran's case in full, a process that could take years.
justice without power
Al Jazeera's Zein Basravi, reporting from Tehran, said that in essence, the ICJ decision is not exactly what the Iranians wanted, nor is it what the Americans wanted. Iranians would have wanted a "complete lifting of all of the sanctions." "They [ICJ judges] talked about parts and equipment for civil aviation - which has been a source of a lot of strife in Iran," he said.
According to Luciano Zaccara, a researcher specialised in Iranian politics at Qatar University, the ICJ ruling is "great news" for the nuclear deal. "For sure it can contribute to make things easier for the EU to implement the vehicle for payments and transactions that can make the deal to survive," Zaccara told Al Jazeera.
"But I am not quite sure that Trump administration will change anything on their policy towards Iran because of this decision ... They will not recognise the jurisdiction of the ICJ on US foreign policy."
The United States said Wednesday it was terminating a 1955 treaty reached with then ally Iran after Tehran cited it in an international court ruling against Washington's sanctions policy. "I'm announcing that the U.S. is terminating the 1955 Treaty of Amity with Iran...," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters at the State Department.
"Iran is attempting to interfere with the sovereign rights of the United States to take the lawful actions necessary to protect our national security, and Iran is abusing the ICJ for political and propaganda purposes," he said, referring to the International Court of Justice.
The treaty, which was signed in Tehran, established consular and economic relations between the U.S. and Iran. It entered into force in 1957 after being ratified that same year.
Earlier Wednesday, the U.N.'s top court ordered the U.S. to lift sanctions on Iran that might hurt imports of humanitarian goods or services or adversely affect the safety of civil aviation. Pompeo said the U.S. is "disappointed that the court failed to recognize that it has no jurisdiction to issue any order relating to these sanctions measures with the United States, which is doing its work on Iran to protect its own essential security interests."
Pompeo also blamed Iran on Wednesday for threats to American missions in Iraq. "Iran is the origin of the current threat to Americans in Iraq," he told reporters. "Our intelligence in this regard is solid. We can see the hand of the Ayatollah and his henchmen supporting these attacks on the United States."
US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has called on the public to avoid reading news from Russian media outlets, specifically the RT broadcaster and Sputnik news agency.
"I encourage everybody, if you are reading something… and it suddenly takes you to RT and Sputnik, be aware. I mean, those are state-sponsored news outlets. They're not independent," the Washington Examiner quoted Nielsen as saying at a cybersecurity summit in Washington.
The remark comes after a year of persistent pressure on Russian media in the United States, during which time US lawmakers and intelligence community claimed that the Russian outlets may have been involved in Moscow’s alleged attempts to influence the 2016 US presidential election.
The media, as well as Russian authorities, have repeatedly refuted the allegations as unsubstantiated. In November, the US Department of Justice ordered the RT broadcaster's branch in the United States RT America to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
At the same time, many other media outlets, including BBC, China's CCTV, France 24, and Deutsche Welle were not registered as such. Later that month, RT's accreditation to the US Congress was revoked.
"Freedom of expression is one of our most precious rights. It underpins every other freedom and provides a foundation for human dignity. Free, pluralistic and independent media is essential for its exercise. Ban Ki-moon, 3-5-2012
Israelis have an extremely positive view of US President Donald Trump and his administration, and are largely isolated in this outlook in the international community, a survey by the Pew Research Center shows.
The poll of America’s standing in 25 countries, published Monday, shows 82 percent of Jewish Israelis have confidence in Trump’s handling of global affairs (69% among Israelis overall) while 94% of Jewish Israelis have a favorable view of the US in general (83% overall).
Israeli approval of the US and its president was not widely shared in other countries surveyed, where ratings were generally at historic lows: Views of Washington are dim — and falling — in many nations which are key allies of the US, including Germany (30% favorability), Canada (39%) and France (38%). The UK was evenly split at 50%.
Israeli appreciation for the US actually went up over the past year, from 81% in 2016 and 2017. Pollsters noted that respondents on the political right were generally far more enthusiastic than those on the left, with the divide in Israel (94% to 57%) being the largest between countries polled.
While, as noted above, 69% of Israelis trust Trump’s handling of international relations, the number is far above the median of all 25 nations, which stands at 27%.
President Bashar Assad told a little-known Kuwaiti newspaper that Syria has reached a “major understanding” with Arab states after years of hostility over the country’s civil war.
The interview in the Al-Shahed newspaper, published Wednesday, was Assad’s first with a Gulf newspaper since the war began in 2011.
Assad doesn’t name the Arab countries but says Arab and Western delegations have begun visiting Syria to prepare for the reopening of diplomatic and other missions. Soon the civil war will be over, Assad told the paper’s publisher, allowing Syria to resume its pivotal role in the region.
Syria’s membership in the 22-member Arab League was suspended in the early days of the war and Arab countries later imposed economic sanctions after they failed to mediate an end to the war.
The interview comes on the heels of a surprisingly warm meeting between the Syrian foreign minister and his Bahraini counterpart on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday. The meeting turned heads because it featured hugs between the two ministers. Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, the Bahraini foreign minister, later told Saudi-run Al-Arabiya TV that it was not the first meeting with “my brother” the Syrian minister. But he said it was an unplanned meeting, while other planned ones weren’t caught on camera.
Al Khalifa said the meeting came at a time of serious Arab efforts to “reclaim” a role in resolving the Syrian crisis.
“This meeting comes at this period that is witnessing positive transformations toward having an effective Arab role in the Syrian issue,” Al Khalifa said in the Sunday interview with Al-Arabiya. “Syria is an Arab country. Its people are Arabs and what happens there concerns us before any other nation. It is not correct that regional and international countries are looking into the Syrian issue and not us.”
Al Khalifa seemed to recognize that the Syrian government is here to stay. “The Syrian government is the Syrian government,” he said. “We work with states — even if we disagree with them — and not with those who bring down those states.”
Assad praises Kuwait’s position regarding Syria in the interview with Al-Shahed, calling its leader “a problem solver.”
The growing phenomenon of terrorism has spread throughout countries and societies under different names and extremist slogans, in an unprecedented phenomenon, thus threatening security and stability and targeting the lives of innocent people. The State of Kuwait is aware of the danger of terrorism and its evil motives, and stands united in solidarity with the international community in fighting terrorism in all its forms and working to dry its sources to eradicate this dangerous phenomenon.
We look forward, with hope and anticipation, to overcoming the recent developments in our region and to create an atmosphere for resolving the unfortunate differences and bridging the rift with dialog and communication. Regarding the relationship with Iran, at the time, we recognize the importance of establishing a constructive dialog between our countries and the Islamic Republic of Iran, and for the success and the continuity of this dialog we underline that it should be based on the principles of international law governing relations among nations, which provides for the respect of state sovereignty, good neighboring, and non-interference in internal affairs.
If it is our destiny to bear responsibility in these difficult conditions in the region, we will deal with our surroundings and with the world in its Arabic and Islamic dimensions and its regional and international framework.
We remain committed to our usual moderate approach as a bridge of peace and love for the good of humanity and human progress.
The priority of security issues, economic and financial reforms, and confronting the scourge of corruption does not mean forgetting the other ills that our nation suffers and the chronic diseases that impair our society.
On the top of that comes the need to develop and increase interest in youth, to listen to them, to share with them, to teach them about moderation, to lead them away from extremism, to educate them to accept the differences and other opinions, and to promote the spirit of cooperation and teamwork. We must open the doors for young people and find true jobs for the tens of thousands that enter the labor market every year.
The United States said Wednesday it was quitting an international accord related to the top UN court after the Palestinians challenged the US move of its Israel embassy to Jerusalem.
It was the latest attack on the international justice system by the administration of President Donald Trump, who last month at the United Nations virulently rejected the authority of the International Criminal Court.
Mr Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, said the United States was pulling out of a protocol concerning the separate International Court of Justice in The Hague, which considers disputes between nations.
"This is in connection with a case brought by the so-called state of Palestine naming the United States as a defendant, challenging our move of our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," he told reporters at the White House.
Mr Bolton said the United States was leaving the 1961 Optional Protocol and Dispute Resolution to the Vienna Convention, which establishes the International Court of Justice as the "compulsory jurisdiction" for disputes unless nations decide to settle them elsewhere.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell scorched President Donald Trump on Sunday for placing himself ― rather than the American people ― at the center of the nation.
“My favorite three words in our Constitution are the first three words: ‘We the People,’” Powell said on Fareed Zakaria’s “GPS” on Sunday.
“But recently, it’s become ‘Me the President’ as opposed to ‘We the People.’ And you see things that should not be happening.”
Powell criticized Trump for “insulting everybody,” from world leaders to blacks to immigrants to women, and for calling the media the “enemy of the people.”
“How can a president of the United States get up and say that the media is the enemy of Americans? Hasn’t he read the First Amendment? You’re not supposed to like everything the press says or what anyone says in the First Amendment, that’s why we have a First Amendment, to protect that kind of speech,” Powell said.
As for immigration, “the world is watching” and it’s appalled that the Trump administration is separating migrant mothers and children, Powell warned.
“They can’t believe that we’re making such an effort to cease immigration coming into the country. It’s what’s kept us alive,” he said. “How can we be walking away from this model?”
Moscow calls on Washington to hark back to diplomatic culture, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said, addressing the Dialogue of Civilizations Public Forum.
"We call on the United States to remember diplomatic culture and start following the universal rules of conduct on the international stage, enshrined in the United Nations Charter," the senior Russian diplomat said.
The United States’ drive for world domination undermines the fundamental principles of settling conflicts in the Middle East, he said.
He said there were no signs the list of world problems was getting shorter.
"The vicious practice of intervention in the internal affairs, the use of force and wide use of unilateral economic restrictions - all this breeds mutual distrust, worsens the risk of spontaneous conflicts and undermines the fundamental principles of Middle East settlement.
"It looks like Washington has unequivocally opted for the language of ultimatums even in relations with its closest partners."
At the same time, as Bogdanov said, "the select few" have failed to resolve the main international problems and provide an adequate response to such threats as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
"On the contrary, the wish to dictate views to others has sparked an outbreak of violence and turned the Middle East into a stronghold of different terrorist groups," Bogdanov said
The Turkey-backed National Liberation Front (NLF) “has started pulling out its heavy weapons from the zone”, the rebel coalition’s spokesman Naji Mustafa told AFP.
The buffer zone, agreed last month between rebel backer Ankara and government ally Moscow, aims to separate regime fighters from the myriad rebel and jihadist forces of the Idlib region.
The accord, reached on September 17, aims to stave off a massive regime assault on the last major rebel bastion by creating a 15 to 20-kilometre (nine to 12-mile) buffer zone ringing the area. All rebels in the demilitarised zone must withdraw heavy arms by October 10, and radical groups must leave by October 15.
The NLF is the main Turkey-backed rebel alliance in the Idlib region, but jihadist heavyweight Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) holds most of the province.
Fighting erupted on Friday between Ankara-backed rebels and HTS jihadist hardliners near the planned demilitarisation zone, a monitor said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighting first began between HTS, led by former Al-Qaeda fighters, and Nour al-Din al-Zinki rebels in the town of Kafr Halab.
The Britain-based Observatory said HTS had taken two towns, including Kafr Halab.
The National Front for Liberation (Jabhat al-Wataniya lil-Tahrir) is a Syrian rebel coalition.
The group was formed by 11 rebel factions in northwestern Syria in May 2018. The formation receives major support from Turkey.
Initially between 28 May and 1 August 2018, Colonel Fadlallah al-Haji of the Sham Legion was appointed as the group's overall commander, Lieutenant Colonel Suhaib Leoush of the Free Idlib Army as its deputy commander, and Major Muhammad Mansour of the Army of Victory as its chief of staff.
On 1 August, Ahmad Sarhan ("Abu Satif") of the Suqour al-Sham Brigades and Walid al-Mushayil ("Abu Hashim") of Jaysh al-Ahrar were named as the group's new first and second deputy commanders, respectively, while Walid al-Mushayil ("Abu Hashim") of Ahrar al-Sham was appointed chief of staff. (Wikipedia info)
Druze people in the town of Majdal Shams in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights took part in a rally on Saturday, to celebrate the progress of the Syrian Civil war and profess their support for President Bashar al-Assad. Carrying both Syrian flags and the traditional five-coloured Druze flag, the small crowd of Arab Druze gathered near the ceasefire line, where they used megaphones to shout across to Syrian soldiers on the other side of the security fence.
The Syrian side of the Golan heights had been under militant control since 2014, but was retaken by government forces in August.
Nikki Haley will leave her post at the United Nations after two years often spent serving as the face of US foreign policy, a role traditionally played by the secretary of state.
Throughout her tenure, Haley has rebuked Iran, scolded Palestinians and defended Israel, all while pushing President Donald Trump's "America first" agenda.
with danny danon - powell (iraq 2003) - praying in jerusalem
Here are the key moments during Haley's tenure that generated headlines during the past two years.
Rejecting Salam Fayyad because he is Palestinian.
A few weeks after her appointment, Haley blocked the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as UN envoy to Libya. The reason? He is Palestinian.
"The United States does not currently recognise a Palestinian state or support the signal this appointment would send within the United Nations," she said in a statement in February 2017.
Haley went on to slam the UN, calling it "unfairly biased in favour of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel". Haley had made her criticism of the UN over Israel known during her confirmation hearing in the US senate in early 2017, as well.
"Nowhere has the UN’s failure been more consistent and more outrageous than in its bias against our close ally Israel," she said at the time.
Denouncing 'blind' UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon
The routine, annual renewal of UN peacekeepers in Lebanon (UNIFIL) hardly ever makes the news. But in the summer of 2017, the force came under repeated criticism from Haley, who threatened to halt its renewal if it didn't do more to combat Hezbollah. She called UNIFIL commander Major General Michael Beary "blind" to what is happening in Lebanon...
Alleged chemical attacks in Syria (2017 and 2018)
Despite his professed scepticism towards military interventions, Trump ordered two sets of strikes against Syrian government targets in 2017 and 2018, respectively, over accusations of chemical weapon use.
On both occasions, Haley led the charge against President Bashar al-Assad and his Iranian and Russian backers at the UN.
In April 2017, Haley displayed photos of dead children, alleged victims of the chemical attack in Syria, at the Security Council chamber.
A year later, after a supposed chemical attack in Ghouta near Damascus, Haley did not bring photos of victims, but she said: "The monster who was responsible for these attacks has no conscience to be shocked by pictures of dead children… The Russian regime, whose hands are also covered in the blood of Syrian children, cannot be shamed by pictures of its victims." Damascus and Russia deny using chemical weapons and accuse the United States of backing hardline rebels that they describe as "terrorists".
'The US will be taking names'
Before the UN General Assembly moved to overwhelmingly denounce Washington's decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Haley warned foreign nations - via Twitter - against voting for the resolution.
"At the UN we're always asked to do more & give more. So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American people, where to locate OUR embassy, we don't expect those we've helped to target us." Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) December 19, 2017
Her Twitter diplomacy failed. Only nine countries, including the US itself, Israel and four tiny islands in the Pacific, sided with Washington.
Leaving meeting as Palestinians speak
After Israeli forces killed dozens of peaceful Palestinian protesters in a single day in Gaza in May, Haley praised Israel for showing "restrain". The protests coincided with the US embassy move to Jerusalem, but Haley dismissed the link between the two sets of events. When the Palestinian delegation began to speak, Haley left the Security Council chamber.
We will build a coalition to push back against Iran
In December 2017, Haley presented pieces of shrapnel and weapon fragments as evidence that Iran was illegally supplying Yemen's Houthi rebels with ballistic missiles.
"You will see us build a coalition to really push back against Iran and what they're doing," Haley told a news conference at the time, as a charred, rusty cylinder that she said was from an Iranian missile fired by the Houthis on Saudi Arabia.
Tehran dismissed the presentation as a distraction from the US-backed Saudi abuses in Yemen.
"These accusations seek also to cover up for the Saudi war crimes in Yemen, with US complicity, and divert international and regional attention from the stalemate war of aggression against the Yemenis," the Iranian mission to the UN said in a statement at the time. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted a photo of Haley side by side with former secretary of state Colin Powell making the case for the invasion of Iraq at the United Nations.
On Tuesday, the New York Times appeared to bemoan Haley's departure, describing her on Twitter as a "moderate Republican voice":
Nikki Haley, ambassador to the United Nations, has resigned, leaving the administration with one less moderate Republican voice — NYT Politics (@nytpolitics) October 9, 2018
Flashback 2016: Nikki Haley backs Ted Cruz
By Hasan Khan, CNN, March 17, 2016
After first backing Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's presidential bid, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Thursday that she is now hoping for Ted Cruz to stop her party's front-runner Donald Trump.
"My hope and prayer is that Sen. Cruz can come through so that he can push through and really get to where he needs to go ... we do want a strong leader. We do want somebody that's conservative," she said, according to the video published by The State newspaper in Columbia...
• America’s security is significantly enhanced by a strong Israel. Israel has been, is, and always will be the Middle East bulwark in defense of the West. Our American-Israeli alliance is something to celebrate.
• A Cruz administration will on day one recognize Jerusalem as the eternal, undivided capital of Israel and the US embassy will be moved to Israel’s capital city.
• A President Cruz will immediately reassess US policy towards the Palestinian Authority. Not one penny of American tax dollars should go to an organization that incites hatred against Jews and seeks to partner with the terrorist group Hamas.
• We should move to defund the United Nations if it continues its anti-Israel bias and withdraw federal funding from any American university that boycotts Israel.
East Jerusalem’s Palestinians are facing a vicious onslaught as Israel begins to implement a series of measures aimed primarily at limiting their presence in the city and its environs, and weakening their position as residents. Israel’s Jerusalem mayor, Nir Barkat, this week announced plans to shut down and expel UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, from East Jerusalem. Furthermore, he said Israel would take over responsibility for schooling more than 1,800 Palestinian students from UNRWA. The agency runs seven schools in the Arab part of the city.
The plans, which were rejected by UNRWA, would also see the Jerusalem municipality take over buildings and offices belonging to the UN agency in East Jerusalem.
Barkat, known for his open hostility to the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, who make up about 40 percent of the city’s total population, is also planning to strip more than 18,000 Palestinians living in Shuafat camp in Jerusalem of their refugee status. The municipality will also confiscate the land on which the camp is located. UNRWA leased the land from the Jordanian authorities in 1965.
While expelling UNRWA from East Jerusalem is in violation of treaties signed between Israel and the UN, the Israeli authorities have been emboldened by recent anti-Palestinian measures taken by the Trump administration.
Israel has been adopting and executing plans to dilute East Jerusalem’s demographic character for years, but it is now accelerating such plans openly and brazenly. Since US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the far-right Israeli government has moved to end all of its obligations under the Oslo Accords.
Jerusalem, in particular, has seen a number of steps taken to detach it completely from the West Bank. US attempts to defund UNRWA and change the definition of Palestinian refugees are also controversial moves that have encouraged Israel to sever the agency’s ties to East Jerusalem.
By stripping the Shuafat residents of their refugee status, Israel is creating new facts on the ground; denying those refugees their inalienable right to return or be compensated. What will eventually happen to them remains unclear.
Similarly, and despite international outcry, Israel is about to tear down the Palestinian community of Khan Al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem.
Amnesty International has described plans to relocate the village’s 270 residents as a “war crime.” The small village is one of more than 20 that Israel plans to raze to the ground in order to expand the area of Greater Jerusalem. Once finished, Greater Jerusalem will occupy about one-fifth of the total area of the West Bank.
More importantly, it will physically separate the northern West Bank from the southern part, making it impossible for a viable Palestinian state to emerge.
Unfortunately, Arab and Muslim nations have done little to support East Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents. ]
Rhetoric and verbal expressions of solidarity won’t stop Israeli bulldozers from tearing down Palestinian villages and changing the demographics of East Jerusalem.
Moreover, Arab leaders have little influence over the White House. But, to be fair, even America’s allies have not been able to affect the US position....
If missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is found to be murdered, it will harm not only Saudi Arabia's relations with Turkey but also Riyadh's relations with the world, two Turkish senior ruling party members told Al Jazeera.
The already sensitive relations between the two regional rivals have suffered a new blow after Khashoggi disappeared during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, entered the consulate on October 2 to obtain some documents required for his forthcoming wedding, but never came out, Turkish authorities and his friends say. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded that Saudi Arabia explain what happened to Khashoggi, whom he called a "friend". Yasin Aktay, an adviser to Erdogan and also a friend of Khashoggi's, told Al Jazeera that they were trying to keep the hope that the dissident writer was still alive. "And thus we are hoping that our relations with Saudi Arabia gets affected as minimum as possible," Aktay said... "If he is really murdered, it is not only Saudi-Turkish relations that will suffer, but the world's relations with Saudi Arabia will get significantly harmed..."
Ankara and Riyadh have been at odds on various regional issues in recent times. Riyadh backed the 2013 coup led by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt against Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Morsi. Ankara staunchly opposed it.
khashoggi: pro-Iranian MB in Egypt: bad - anti-Iranian MB in Syria: good
The moment of truth in Syria has now approached and the Brotherhood should be ready for it. Many important things have happened and will happen in coming days for the Brotherhood. Saudi Arabia has finally embraced the [Syrian] Muslim Brotherhood; it does not matter how and why that happened, but what is important is that it will strongly help both the kingdom and the Brotherhood to reach their goal to overthrow the [Assad] regime and - this is very important – to be committed to a steady alliance through re-drawing a new Eastern Arab world without Iran. The Muslim Brotherhood vowed this, in the meetings that recently took place in Jeddah.
It is no secret that the Brotherhood in Syria does not agree with their comrades in Egypt who stated that they have enough problems and challenges. Saudi Arabia and many other countries have raised concerns about the Brotherhood’s pragmatism. Mursi’s government stance is no longer convincing; they only want to support the Syrian revolution through speeches and promises, without having to translate it on the ground through a full partnership with an active alliance seeking to overthrow the regime.The Morsi government wants to leave the door open to Iran...
Jamal Khashoggi is a Saudi journalist, columnist, author, and general manager of the upcoming Al Arab News Channel. He previously served as a media aide to Prince Turki al Faisal while he was Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States.
The US said Wednesday it will refuse any post-war reconstruction assistance to Syria if Iran is present, expanding the rationale for US involvement in the conflict. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed an aggressive push to counter Iran across the Middle East and said that Syria was a decisive battleground.
“The onus for expelling Iran from the country falls on the Syrian government, which bears responsibility for its presence there,” Pompeo told the Jewish Institute for National Security of America. “If Syria doesn’t ensure the total withdrawal of Iranian-backed troops, it will not receive one single dollar from the US for reconstruction,” Pompeo said...
Pompeo acknowledged that Assad was stronger thanks to Iranian and Russian help and said that, with Daesh “beaten into a shadow of its former self,” new priorities had emerged.
“Defeating Daesh, which was once our primary focus, continues to be a priority. But it will now be joined by two other mutually reinforcing objectives,” Pompeo said.
“These include a peaceful political resolution to the Syrian conflict and the removal of all Iranian and Iranian-backed forces from Syria.”
I“Iran has seen instability in Syria as a golden opportunity to tip the regional balance of power in its favor,” Pompeo said. He warned that Iran, a sworn foe of Israel, would open a new front against the Jewish state if it remained in Syria...
Pompeo: "They are murderers..."
"For the previous eight years, we had an administration that showed more respect to the leaders of Iran than to the people of Israel. President Obama thought he could somehow hug Iran’s leaders into behaving well and rejoining the community of nations.
But those leaders aren’t from a Disney movie. They’re real. They are murderers and funders of terrorism.. Their goals include profiting off the misery of their own people and wiping Israel off the face of the Earth.
By and large, I think the American people understand the threat that Iran poses. It’s why they opposed the deal that the previous administration made by a margin of two to one, and it’s why they sent to our country a very different kind of president in 2016. Mike Pompeo, US-Department of State,10-10-2018
Right Web Info: "The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) is a right-wing, “pro-Israel” advocacy organization that promotes "strategic cooperation" between the United States and Israel on everything from missile defense and mutual security strategies to terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the Iranian nuclear enrichment program. Described by observers as a core think tank of the so-called “Israel Lobby,” JINSA has claimed to be "the most influential group on the issue of U.S.-Israel military relations."
Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is pumping tens of millions of dollars more into Republican Party coffers in an 11th-hour push to save their congressional majorities, Politico reported Thursday, citing two senior Republicans familiar with the donation.
The contributions were made to a pair of GOP super PACs tied to congressional Republicans, Senate Leadership Fund and Congressional Leadership Fund, according to the report. They are expected to be reported in public filings with the Federal Election Commission by October 15.
The figures would almost certainly make Adelson, a close ally of President Donald Trump, the biggest GOP donor of the 2018 election cycle.
Even before his most recent contributions, the 85-year-old mogul and his wife Miriam had given $25 million to the Senate super PAC and $30 million to the House super PAC. A recent New York Times report claimed that the Adelsons had given $55 million in the last few months to groups working to ensure Republican control of the House and Senate after the midterm elections.
The donations make them the “biggest spenders on federal elections in all of American politics,” the September report said.
Adelson, a major giver to Jewish and pro-Israel causes, was among the biggest givers to Trump’s campaign and his inauguration.
On Nov. 13, the Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page was given over to Mark Dubowitz and Reuel Marc Gerecht of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).
What is this FDD? Answer: A War Party think tank that in 2011, according to Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss website and Eli Clifton of Salon, took in $19 million from five rabidly pro-Israel givers.
Home Depot’s Bernard Marcus gave $10.7 million, hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer $3.6 million. Sheldon Adelson, the Vegas-Macau casino kingpin, chipped in $1.5 million.
Last week, Adelson and media mogul Haim Saban spoke of plans to dump hundreds of millions into the presidential campaigns of 2016.
What does the pair want from our next president? According to the Washington Post’s Phil Rucker and Tom Hamburger, action on Iran.
“Saban said that fundamentalist Iranians represent a real threat. If necessary to defend Israel, and as a last resort, he added, ‘I would bomb the living daylights out of the sons of bitches.'”... This billionaires boys club wants to buy U.S. foreign policy and a U.S. war on Iran. And the propagandists of FDD are paid to produce that war, in which they will not be doing the fighting and dying.
Was this what America voted for on Nov. 4? Is this what the Grand Old Party has to offer — endless war?
A senior Russian official has dismissed the Israeli regime’s demand that Iran be forced out of Syria, saying that the issue is none of Tel Aviv’s business as it is Syria’s sovereign right to authorize Iranian forces on its soil.
“Syria is a member of the United Nations,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said, adding that the Arab country “has equal rights” over its self-determination with Russia, the US and any other member of the UN.
“This is a sovereign country led by a legitimate government. It can agree on cooperation with any other country, including Iran, Russia, Israel,” he noted in an interview with the Israeli TV channel i24NEWS released Thursday night.
“They asked us and the Iranians to be there. The Iranians have said repeatedly on many levels that Syria asked them to help them in the fight against terrorists, and when Mr. Assad tells them that their mission is accomplished and they are no longer needed, they will leave Syria, just like us.”
Over the past few years, Israel has frequently attacked military targets inside Syria...
In the latest Israeli airstrikes on Syria a few weeks ago, a Russian Il-20 plane was mistakenly shot down by Syrian air defenses in Latakia Province, northwestern Syria. Moscow blamed Tel Aviv for the incident, which killed all 15 people on board, saying the Israeli warplanes had deliberately “created a dangerous situation” that led to the crash.
In his interview with i24NEWS, Bogdanov underlined that the Israeli pilots’ fault in that incident totally changed the rules of the game.
“The rules of the game were violated when Israeli pilots used a Russian aircraft for cover, knowing how it threatened the Russian crew,” he noted. “You can imagine what would have happened if 15 Israeli officers had been killed through our fault,” he said.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Bogdanov mocked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s theatrical performance at the United Nations, in which he used placards with satellite pictures to make claims about a secret atomic warehouse in Tehran.
“It’s naive to think that only one country and only one secret service knows something that nobody else knows," Bogdanov told i24NEWS...
“It’s the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is supposed to check this. It is a professional and serious organisation. It has authority and legitimacy," he said, adding that the IAEA can inspect any site at any time under the agreement it has with Iran.
"To tell the whole world they have something, and show pictures..., maybe it’s intended to score points and for internal consumption," Bogdanov noted.
“Speaking seriously... Israel should have taken a different approach...; they shouldn't work with what we call ‘megaphone diplomacy’..."
Syrian President Bashar Al Assad has signed into law a new bill expanding the powers of a government ministry overseeing religious affairs and limiting the term of the country's top Muslim cleric.
The draft had been amended by parliament this month after sparking controversy among Syrians at home and abroad. The new legislation grants additional powers to the ministry of religious endowments, or "waqf", which already oversees Islamic affairs in Syria.
Specifically, the waqf minister will have a role in naming the next mufti.
The mufti had previously been appointed by the president, as was the case with current mufti Ahmed Badreddin Hassoun, appointed by Mr Al Assad in 2004. The new law also sets the mufti's term, previously unlimited, at a renewable period of three years.
western backed (ultra-right-wing) 'islamic revolution': a fragmented state controlled by local sharia-councils
The waqf minister will now oversee religious schools, head the Council on Islamic Jurisprudence, and regulate religious programming on media outlets.
The new law also stipulates that Muslim imams are not allowed to travel outside of Syria or attend any conference even inside the country without the waqf minister's permission. It forbids preachers and religious instructors from "stoking sectarian strife" or "taking advantage of religious platforms for political purposes."
The legislation had sparked controversy this month, with many saying it was state overreach into religious affairs. Others said it was a way to regulate religious discourse in order to "fight extremism."
In a recent television interview, current waqf minister Mohammad Abdulsattar Al Sayyed described it as a "huge achievement".
"This is the first time there's a law that issues controls and standards for religious work and conditions for appointing imams and preachers," he said.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani asserted [on Sunday] that national interests and security are more important than JCPOA, adding "we are the winners politically, and no one doubts that the United States has failed because it has violated international obligations." Speaking at a ceremony marking beginning of the new academic year, Rouhani said the "ceremony means respecting science, knowledge, research and technology, and the addressee of this respect are our dear professors and students."
Stressing that university can be the origin of development and the symbol of authority, President Hassan Rouhani said, “university has a very important role in scientific, cultural and social acceptability of the young generation."
Rouhani referred to the recent hearing of Iran case in The Hague, saying, “some of Iranian lawyers in this hearing were graduated from University of Tehran."
He also said, “if today, a manager is subject to criticism, we have to consider it a criticism towards the university, because these managers have been trained in these universities."
On the role of hope in the country and the society, Rouhani said, “the reason for our achievements in the current Iranian government was hope of future and people’s views about the future."
Rouhani speeching at a girl's high school in Tehran
Iran will make use of its intelligent individuals, elites and considerable capacities to strengthen the country’s international position day by day, Iranian president said here on Sunday.
‘Today, the Iranian nation with the help of high-powered youths has targeted high peaks of science and knowledge,’ Hassan Rouhani said at the opening ceremony of the ninth round of student parliament in Iran.
Student parliament in Iran is aimed at growing up the youth to manage the country and be responsible for the social activities, the president said.
The Iranian president also attended a ceremony held this morning in Tehran to mark the start of university academic year. Addressing the ceremony, the president said that universities can be the origin of development.
He added that universities play an important role in developing science and culture and bringing up the young generation to be accountable in society.
He further said that today ceremony is to show respect for science, research and technology.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Saturday that Turkish universities welcome a wide range of views, except views supporting terrorism and violence.
"There is a place in our universities for any view, no matter how rigid they are, as long as they are not involved in violence and do not bless terrorism," Erdoğan told a ceremony ushering in the new school year at Erciyes University in the central Kayseri province.
Erdoğan said over the last 16 years Turkey has taken major steps not only in the areas of the economy, health, and infrastructure, but also in liberalizing universities.
"We know very well that Turkish universities are enjoying the most liberal, independent, and powerful era in their history," he added. Erdoğan said no civilized country can allow terrorism to take root at universities, adding: "Because spreading terrorist propaganda cannot be considered freedom of thought in any democratic country in the world."
He added that Turkey places importance on reflecting social differentiation at universities since they have to carry a universal identity...
A border crossing between enemy nations Syria and Israel reopened on Monday — four years after it closed as UN observers fled the area due to fierce fighting in the Syrian civil war. The move marked a formal recognition by Israel that [Syrian] President Bashar Assad has returned to govern in southern Syria, after he defeated rebel groups in the area earlier this summer.
The Syrian flag was raised at the Quneitra crossing, and as it reopened, the United Nations peacekeeping force UNDOF sent a number of white trucks from Syria to the Israeli side of the border. “The opening of the crossing symbolizes the return of the enforcement of the 1974 disengagement agreement [between Israel and Syria],” Maj. Nehemia Berkey, the Israeli liaison to UNDOF, told reporters.
“The crossing was closed in 2014 after hostile forces took over the area and has remained closed at the request of the other side ever since,” he said. “We expect [UNDOF] to again enforce the buffer zone and keep away hostile forces.”
UN observers and local notables from the Druze community, the predominant population in the area, gathered near the crossing. “It is a day of victory,” Youssef Jarbou, a Druze leader, told the Syrian Al-Ikhbariya TV from Quneitra. Syrian forces recaptured the Quneitra area in July...
Also on Monday, a crossing between Syria and Jordan was opened for the first time in three years, promising to restore trade and movement between the two countries that had halted because of the war.
At the Naseeb crossing between Syria and Jordan, dozens of private cars lined up to cross from Jordan. Security personnel and dogs searched the vehicles.
Naseeb’s reopening could bring major financial relief to Assad’s government by restoring a much-needed gateway for Syrian exports to Arab countries. The resumption of commercial trade through the crossing will also be a diplomatic victory for Assad, whose government has been isolated from its Arab neighbors since the war began in 2011. Arab countries have boycotted the Syrian government since the early days of the war, freezing its membership in the 22-member state Arab League.
The recapture of Naseeb marked a major victory for Assad’s forces, which have been on a winning streak since 2015 when Russia threw its military weight behind Damascus. The victory in southern Syria signaled the return of his forces to Daraa province where the uprising against him began seven years ago.
The decision made by the Arab League (AL) to suspend Syria will lead to division in Syria and across the Arab world, a political analyst tells Press TV.
Professor Daoud Khairallah of Georgetown University, Washington, said in an interview with Press TV on Saturday that the Arab League is seeking to “create more discord within Syria, encouraging certain parts against others.” The Arab organization wants to “promote some kind of confessional sectarian strife inside the Syrian society,” Khairallah added.
On Saturday, the Arab League announced the suspension of Syria and called for sanctions to be imposed on the country.
“The decision of the Arab League is basically against the charter and is in violation of the express provisions of the charter,” Khairallah said.
“Article 8 of the charter of the Arab League prohibits any member country from interfering in the internal affairs [of other member states] especially with respect to regime change or form of government change,” the political analyst further explained.
Chairman of the Arab-International Center for Communication, M'aen Bashshour condemned the decision of the Arab League (AL) against Syria, stressing that it contradicts with the AL Charter and the Arab work plan on which Syria agreed... (ChamPress 13-11-2011)
Syria and Iran: the great game
Alastair Crooke, guardian.co.uk, 4 November 2011
This summer a senior Saudi official told John Hannah, Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, that from the outset of the upheaval in Syria, the king has believed that regime change would be highly beneficial to Saudi interests...:
"The king knows that other than the collapse of the Islamic Republic itself, nothing would weaken Iran more than losing Syria." This is today's "great game" – losing Syria. And this is how it is played: set up a hurried transitional council as sole representative of the Syrian people, irrespective of whether it has any real legs inside Syria; feed in armed insurgents from neighbouring states; impose sanctions that will hurt the middle classes; mount a media campaign to denigrate any Syrian efforts at reform; try to instigate divisions within the army and the elite; and ultimately President Assad will fall – so its initiators insist....
Today Europe looks the other way, refusing to consider who Syria's combat-experienced insurgents taking such a toll of Syrian security forces truly are...
Europe and the US think it is OK to "use" precisely those Islamists (including al-Qaida) who absolutely do not believe in western-style democracy in order to bring it about. (The Guardian 2011)
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Russia’s Special Envoy to Syria Alexander Lavrentiev in Riyadh on Monday. During the meeting, they discussed bilateral relations between the kingdom and Russia, and developments in Syria.
The meeting was attended by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and Saudi Minister of State Dr. Musaid al-Aiban.
Encouraged by the state-controlled media, many Saudis have been rallying round their leadership. There is even a popular rumour that what happened in Istanbul is all a plot by Qatar and Turkey to discredit the blameless Saudi kingdom.
But privately, others are now questioning whether the 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the man once hailed as a visionary saviour of Saudi Arabia, has gone too far.
He has pitched his country into a costly and seemingly unwinnable war in Yemen. He is embroiled in a damaging dispute with neighbouring Qatar. He has quarrelled with Canada over human rights, and he has locked up dozens for peaceful protest while alienating many in royal and business circles.
Is this the end of Saudi prince's honeymoon?
The disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has put the spotlight on Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS.
Since he outmanoeuvred his rivals to become Saudi Arabia's de-facto leader in 2015, the 33-year-old has received favourable coverage in international media, with a multitude of reports focused on his economic and social reforms in the conservative kingdom.
However, the Khashoggi case has shifted the focus towards the darker side of Salman's record, one that includes the imprisonment of critics and human rights activists, thousands of civilian deaths in Yemen and a rapid rise of the number of executions since his ascent to power.
The aerial destruction of Yemen
In 2015, Saudi Arabia intervened in the civil war in neighbouring Yemen, launching an aerial campaign targeting the Houthi rebels, who were quickly gaining territory. With logistical support from the US, the Saudi-UAE alliance have now carried out more than 16,000 raids on Houthi-held areas in an attempt to reverse their gains.
Human rights organisations have accused the Saudi-led coalition forces of indiscriminately bombing civilians and hospitals, schools and other infrastructure.
Speaking to Time in April 2018, MBS defended the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, saying: "We don't need to have a new Hezbollah in the Arabian peninsula. This is a red line not only for Saudi Arabia but for the whole world."
The Saad Hariri case
When Hariri travelled to the Saudi capital in November 2017, his phone was confiscated on arrival, and a day later he resigned his post live on a Saudi-owned television channel. It transpired Hariri was summoned to meet both King Salman and MBS a day after his arrival, but was eventually presented with his resignation speech to read on television...
The move sparked outrage in Lebanon over what was publicly perceived as the abduction of a sovereign state's prime minister by another country.
Hariri, 47, ultimately returned to Beirut weeks later after French President Emmanuel Macron's successful mediation efforts, and withdrew his resignation. MBS was seen as one of the key players behind the bizarre episode.
KSA – USA partnership dinner: High-level speakers, including Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Lindsey Graham, James Baker, William Cohen, Cindy Schwarzkopf, daughter of the late General Norman Schwarzkopf, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and Ambassador Khalid bin Salman, delivered stirring remarks commemorating the historic American and Saudi Arabian leaders of the past who further reinforced the foundations of the unshakable alliance between the two nations. Al-Arabiya, 23-3-2018
Imprisoning women's rights activists
Several activists, mostly women but also several men, were arrested earlier this year... The activists are currently still in prison, together with many other human rights activists arrested on other charges.
Speaking to Bloomberg earlier this month, MBS said the arrests were "not about women asking for the right to drive ... It's nothing at all to do with that."
He said some of those arrested had connections with foreign intelligence agencies... "Qatar is one of those countries that recruited some of those people. And some agencies indirectly working with Iran..."
Diplomatic spat with Canada in August.
After Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for the release of the activists and a general improvement of human rights in Saudi Arabia, the kingdom responded by expelling the Canadian ambassador from Riyadh, freezing trade with the Northern American country and ordering all Saudi students based in Canada to return home.
The corruption case
In 2017, Saudi security forces arrested several hundred of the richest people in the country, allegedly in an attempt to combat corruption among the higher echelons of the Saudi bureaucracy.
Those arrested were locked up for weeks in the luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, where some were reportedly physically mistreated.
Speaking in November 2017 after the purge, Saudi King Salman said it was an attempt to tackle corruption and came in response to "exploitation by some of the weak souls who have put their own interests above the public interest, in order to, illicitly, accrue money".
The Qatar blockade
On June 5 2017, four Gulf countries cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed a diplomatic and trade blockade on their neighbour. Saudi Arabia closed its land border with Qatar, effectively turning its neighbour into an island only reachable by air and sea.
The move to cut ties with Qatar was mainly driven by MBS and the UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan...
More than a year later, the blockade against Qatar still stands, with Qatar refusing to give in to the demands made by Saudi Arabia and its three allies.
The number of executions has steeply increased.
Saudi Arabia, the only country in the world that still employs beheading as a form of execution, has been in the five top countries for the number of executions carried out for over a decade.
According to human rights organisations Reprieve and Amnesty International, the number of executions has seen a sharp increase in recent years.
"In the eight months after he was appointed crown prince, 133 people were executed," Reprieve said in March this year.
The disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
On October 2, Saudi journalist and MBS critic Jamal Khashoggi entered Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul to obtain a document certifying his divorce from his ex-wife. He has not been seen since.
Khashoggi, once an adviser to members of the royal family, fell out of favour for his criticism of bin Salman's reform programme.
"As we speak today, there are Saudi intellectuals and journalists jailed," Khashoggi told Al Jazeera in an interview in March. "Now, nobody will dare to speak and criticise the reform ...
It would be much better for him to allow a breathing space for critics, for Saudi intellectuals, Saudi writers, Saudi media to debate."
Mohammed bin Salman is nominal heir and de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s few remaining absolute monarchies. These are countries – all are currently run by men – where the king is head of state and government, controlling all levers of power. He lives surrounded by the trappings of luxurious modernity, from yachts to art masterpieces, but wields power in a system that would have been familiar to a medieval ruler.
This pre-modern political world, where one man has total authority over all others, is the only one Bin Salman has ever lived in and known intimately. “[The crown prince] cannot relate to the world outside Saudi. He was raised in a palace, being told you can do everything you want,” said one Saudi, who asked not to be named. “His biggest issue is that he never accepts mistakes.”
Academically successful, impatient, and a workaholic known to spend 18 hours a day in his office, he has a strong belief in his intellect and the judgment that carried him to power. Bin Salman allowed women to drive, reopened cinemas after decades, and curbed the powers of the much-feared morality police. He also vowed to return the country to “moderate Islam”, restraining the reach of hardline clerics who promote extremism, and to rejuvenate its economy.
But critics say he also struggles to recognise errors, or accept even mild criticism. “People who tried to say no even gently and diplomatically faced consequences,” said one source from Saudi Arabia, who asked not to be named.
"Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty
until proven innocent. I don’t like that’", Donald Trump, 17-10-2018
WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Tuesday criticized rapidly mounting global condemnation of Saudi Arabia over the mystery of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, warning of a rush to judgment and echoing the Saudis’ request for patience.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Trump compared the case of Khashoggi to the allegations of sexual assault leveled against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing.
“I think we have to find out what happened first,” Trump said. “Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I’m concerned.”
The Oval Office interview came not long after Trump spoke Tuesday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He spoke by phone a day earlier with King Salman. After speaking with the king, Trump floated the idea that “rogue killers” may have been responsible for the disappearance.
The president told the AP on Tuesday that that description was informed by his “feeling” from his conversation with Salman and that the king did not use the term. “It sounded to me, maybe these could have been rogue killers,” Trump said.
"Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty
until proven innocent. I don’t like that", Donald Trump, 17-10-2018
douma boy telling the truth
Bashar al Assad has reacted to being called "Animal Assad" by US President Donald Trump with a phrase usually heard in school playgrounds. The Syrian President declared: "What you say is what you are."
Mr Trump had insulted his counterpart in an 8 April tweet following a suspected chemical weapons attack in Douma.
He wrote: "Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price..."
In an interview with Russia Today, Mr Assad said he did not have a nickname or insult for Mr Trump: "This is not my language, so, I cannot use similar language. This is his language. It represents him.
"I think there is a very known principle, that what you say is what you are. So, he wanted to represent what he is, and that's normal." Joint airstrikes on chemical weapons facilities were carried out by the US, UK and France following the alleged poison gas attack.
Mr Assad denied attacking his own people and said the attack would not have been in the government's interest: "They told a story, they told a lie, and the public opinion around the world and in the West didn't buy their story, but they couldn't withdraw... So, they had to do something, even on a smaller scale."
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