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
"No petit bourgeois politics"
Saddam Hussein and his ideologists sought to fuse a connection between the ancient Babylonian and Assyrian civilizations in Iraq to Arab nationalism by claiming that the Babylonians and ancient Assyrians are the ancestors of the Arabs. Thus, Saddam Hussein and his supporters claim that there is no conflict between Mesopotamian heritage and Arab nationalism. Saddam Hussein based his political views and ideology upon the views of Michel Aflaq, Ba'athism's key founder. Saddam was also an avid reader of topics on moral and material forces in international politics. His government was critical of orthodox Marxism, opposing the orthodox Marxist concepts of class conflict, the dictatorship of the proletariat and atheism; it opposed Marxism–Leninism's claim that non-Marxist–Leninist parties are automatically bourgeois in nature, claiming that the Ba'ath Party was a popular revolutionary movement and the people rejected petit bourgeois politics. (Wikipedia info)
"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)
Choseness is what binds Zionists together.
To be chosen is to see oneself as an exceptional creation. It entails blindness to otherness. It is a form of impunity. To be chosen often involves a near or total lack of empathy. Such lack is often defined in terms of acute narcissism and psychopathy....
I know well that Zionism was born to emancipate Diaspora Jews from their exceptionalist cultural traits and to make them ‘people like all other people.’
Like an early Zionist, I would have liked to see Jews liberate themselves from the choseness prison, but I accept that such a shift can not occur in the form of a collective or political movement. The escape from choseness to the ordinary must be an individual struggle, a surrender to self-contempt that eventually matures into a genuine search for peace and harmony with the universe, with the soil and with one’s neighbours. (Gilad Atzmon, 24-6-2019)
Eva Illouz, 53, was born in Morocco and grew up in Sarcelles, near Paris. She is a professor of sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She researches the relationship between emotions, economy and communication and has written several books including "Why Love Hurts:
Illouz: Where you see human beings, Israelis see enemies. In front of enemies, you close ranks, you unite in fear for your life, and you do not ponder about the fragility of the other. It is difficult to have compassion for a population seen as as threatening the heart of your society.
Israel has a split, schizophrenic self-awareness: It cultivates its strength and yet cannot stop seeing itself as weak and threatened.
Illouz: I think Israelis have lost what we can call a "humanitarian sensibility," the capacity to identify with the suffering of a distant other. In Israel, there has been a change in perception of the "Palestinian other." The Palestinian has become a true enemy in the perception of Israelis, in the sense that "they are there" and "we are here." They ceased having a face and even a name.
Illouz: Israel is a colonial military power, a militarized society and a democracy all folded into one. The army, for example, controls the Palestinians through a wide network of colonial tools, such as checkpoints, military courts (governed by a legal system different from the Israeli system), the arbitrary granting of work permits, house demolitions and economic sanctions.
It is a militarized civil society because almost every family has a father, son or brother in the army and because the military plays an enormous role in the ordinary mentality of ordinary Israelis and is crucial in both political decisions and in the public sphere.
Illouz: The nature of Israeli leadership has changed. The messianic right has progressively gained power in Israel. It used to be marginal and illegitimate; it is now increasingly mainstream. This radical right sits in Parliament, controls budgets and has changed the nature of discourse. Many Israelis do not understand the radical nature of the right in Israel. It successfully disguises itself as "patriotic" or "Jewish."
Illouz: Entire generations have been raised with the territories, with Israel being a colonial power. They do not know anything else. You have the settlements which are highly ideological. They expanded and entered Israeli mainstream political life. Settlements were strengthened by systematic government policies... There are entire segments of the population that have never met a secular person and have been educated religiously...
The reality we are faced with in Israel is that we must choose between liberalism and Jewishness, and if we choose Jewishness, we are condemned to become a religious Sparta which will not be sustainable.
Illouz: Israel started as a modern nation. It derived its legitimacy from the fact that it had democratic institutions. But it was also building highly anti-modern institutions in wanting to create a Jewish democracy by giving power to rabbis, in creating deep ethnic inequalities between different ethnic groups such Jews of Arab countries vs. Jews of European descent; Arabs vs. Jews; Jews vs. non-Jews. It thus blocked universalist thinking... We are at the point where it has become clear that Jewishness has hijacked democracy and its contents.
Illouz: The right-left divide is no longer important. There is something more urgent right now: the defense of democracy. The voice of the extreme right is much louder and clearer than it was before. That's what's new: a racist right that is not ashamed of itself, that persecutes dissenters and even people who dare express compassion for the other side. The real danger to Israel and its sustainability comes from within.
Illouz: We don't know how it feels to live in a peaceful society, devoted exclusively to culture, education and improving the living conditions of everyone. People don't make a connection between the bad living conditions they have and the amount of resources invested in the settlements and in the army. In psychology, they call it dissociation. Israeli society has become very insensitive. Not only to the suffering of others, but also to its own suffering.
"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)
In a landmark ruling, Israeli regulatory authorities announced on Sunday that they are shutting down an evangelical Christian television station for not disclosing in its license application that its true agenda was missionizing Jews. Shelanu (Hebrew for “Ours,” as in “Jesus is all of ours”), a new channel set up by God TV – one of the largest Christian broadcasting networks in the world – in partnership with the Israeli Messianic community, had been broadcasting on cable television since the end of April.
It is very rare for the council to take a channel off the air, and it is the first time a Christian channel broadcast in Israel is being shut down.
Council Chairman Asher Biton noted in a letter that Christian programming aimed at Jews is a “complicated and sensitive matter” and, therefore, the broadcasters should have been more upfront about the nature of the new channel.
It is not necessarily against the law to broadcast Christian programs to a Jewish audience in Israel. It is, however, against the law to proselytize to individuals under age 18 without the consent of their parents.
Overnight, the video message that had caused the storm was taken down and God TV issued a clarification: The network had no intention of trying to convert Jews to Christianity.., it merely wanted them to accept Jesus as their messiah.
God TV was founded in the United Kingdom 25 years ago by two South African expats – Rory and Wendy Alec. In 2002, the network moved its broadcast uplink to Israel, and from there began to expand around the world. Today, it broadcasts in 200 countries and claims to reach 250 million homes around the world.
Ideologies are pre-set forms of thinking that shape people’s worldviews and, supposedly, help to order and simplify reality.
Ideologies can be very seductive. In part this is because they free their adherents from the hard work of critical thinking.
Because ideologies distort reality, they are particularly unsuited for those aspiring to power as well as their devoted supporters. History is full of examples of politically powerful ideologies that underscore this fact: fascism, communism, various military cults and even the ideology of democracy as manipulated by corrupt elites, who play the Pied Piper to the masses.
Yet there is still one more ideology out there which, even now, wreaks havoc... That ideology is religion in its various institutional manifestations.
I want to emphasize that I am not referring to personal religious convictions, by which life is made to appear understandable and meaningful.
What I am referring to are religious ideologies that are institutionalized in bureaucracies that can project power much as do secular institutions of authority.
Religious ideologies so institutionalized see themselves as possessed of God-given truth while playing the game of power amidst human competitors.... Since 1948 Judaism has succumbed to the same fate as other world religions entangling themselves in politics.
Despite all the rationalizations, propaganda and self-deception, it is clear that institutional Judaism is now firmly melded to the deeply discriminatory and particularly brutal political ideology of Zionism. The fate of Judaism and an Israeli “national home” are thoroughly intertwined..
As long as Judaism persists in identifying itself in terms of the Israeli state and Zionist ideology, the ethical underpinnings of the religion are left behind in the wreckage of an evolving “Jewish empire.”
Anarchism & anti-clericalism in the Holy Books
They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah (by obeying them in things which they made lawful or unlawful according to their own desires without being ordered by Allah), and (they also took as their Lord) Messiah, son of Maryam (Mary), while they (Jews and Christians) were commanded [in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)) to worship none but One Ilah (God - Allah). Exalted is He above whatever they associate with Him. (Quran, Al-Tawba 31)
"But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.
"Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. (Matthew 23:9)
An Egyptian misdemeanour court sentenced on Saturday controversial Egyptian belly dancer Sama El-Masry to three years in prison and a EGP 300,000 fine after she was convicted of “inciting debauchery and immorality.”
El-Masry, detained in April, was found guilty of inciting immorality via social media through posting what authorities had described as indecent photos and videos of herself. The prosecutor-general’s office said earlier it received a number of complaints from citizens over El-Masry’s posts.
The controversial belly dancer, who had previously released videos online mocking the Muslim Brotherhood group during the one-year rule of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, claimed that members of the outlawed group were the ones who reported her to the prosecution over her political views.
Several female influencers in Egypt have been accused of “inciting debauchery” since the country introduced a new cybercrime law in 2018, which allowed the government to censor online posts and monitor communication. Entessar el-Saeed, a women rights lawyer and head of the Cairo Center for Development and Law, told Reuters: “Our conservative society is struggling with technological changes which have created a completely different environment and mindsets.”
Video Press News Agency, 9 jan. 2015
During the rule of Morsi, Egyptian controversial belly dancer and anti-Islamist activist Sama al-Masry was well-known for her repeatedly anti-Islamists music videos which poked fun at the leaders of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood Group.
Enraged pro-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators set fire into al-Masry’s car in 2014 vowing to exact revenge from her weekly comedy show which being aired on her private television channel dubbed “Feloul” which means “Remnants”.
“I’m receiving threatens from them (Muslim Brotherhood) everyday, because of my TV show, but I will not stop it, I will squash their thoughts,” she said
In one of her Video clips that went viral she sent a message to American President Barack Obama, accusing him of meddling in Egypt’s affairs and siding with Muslim Brotherhood.
“Hey Obama, Your Father, Mother and all the other people, you should listen; our army is very strong,” al-Masry sang.
She said that Obama asked Mubarak in 2011 to step down immediately saying: “Mubarak should leave now and now is now”, but he did not adopt the same position against Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi in 2012.
A senior settlement leader is reaching out to Evangelical Christians in the US, urging them to lobby the White House to back an expanded version of the sovereignty plan being drawn up by the Israeli government in coordination with the US. Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council, spoke with the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), lauding President Donald Trump, while also emphasizing his disagreement with parts of the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan, which endorses the establishment of a Palestinian state covering some 70% of Judea and Samaria.
“While Trump is the best president ever for Israel, the Jewish State can’t go against the command of God,” said Dagan, regarding the provision in the Trump peace plan for an Israeli withdrawal from much of Judea and Samaria [occupied West-Bank] if a final status agreement is reached with the Palestinian Authority.
“The Land of Israel is a gift from the Holy One to the people of Israel...,” Dagan told CBN News.
“It’s not just a promise of prophecy and the prophets it’s also a command. We have no right to relinquish one centimeter of the Land of Israel....,” Dagan said.
In monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, creator deity, and principal object of faith.
God is usually conceived as being omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (all-present) and as having an eternal and necessary existence. These attributes are used either in way of analogy or are taken literally.
Some religions describe God without reference to gender, while others or their translations use terminology that is gender-specific and gender-biased.
God has been conceived as either personal or impersonal.
In theism, God is the creator and sustainer of the universe, while in deism, God is the creator, but not the sustainer, of the universe.
In pantheism, God is the universe itself. In atheism, there is an absence of belief in God. In agnosticism, the existence of God is deemed unknown or unknowable.
God has also been conceived as the source of all moral obligation, and the "greatest conceivable existent". Many notable philosophers have developed arguments for and against the existence of God.
Monotheists refer to their gods using names prescribed by their respective religions, with some of these names referring to certain cultural ideas about their god's identity and attributes.
In the ancient Egyptian era of Atenism, possibly the earliest recorded monotheistic religion, this deity was called Aten, premised on being the one "true" Supreme Being and creator of the universe.
In the Hebrew Bible and Judaism, Elohim, Adonai, YHWH and other names are used as the names of God. Yahweh and Jehovah, possible vocalizations of YHWH, are used in Christianity.
In the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, God, coexisting in three "persons", is called the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
In Islam, the name Allah is used, while Muslims also have a multitude of titular names for God.
In Hinduism, Brahman is often considered a monistic concept of God. In Chinese religion, Shangdi is conceived as the progenitor (first ancestor) of the universe, intrinsic to it and constantly bringing order to it.
Other religions have names for the concept of God, including Baha in the Bahá'í Faith, Waheguru in Sikhism, Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa in Balinese Hinduism, and Ahura Mazda in Zoroastrianism.
Nina is one of the names of Goddess “Inana”, representing fertility, beauty and love to the ancient people of Mesopotamia.
Together with the moon god Nanna or Suen (Sin in Akkadian, patron deity of UR), and the sun god Utu (Shamash in Akkadian), Inana/Ishtar is the third figure in a triad deifying and personalizing the Moon, the Sun, and Venus: Moon (wisdom: Virgin Mother), Sun (justice) and Venus (life force: Eartly, Sensual Mother).
The Goddess appeared for the first time in the lands of “Sumer” 5,000 years ago. She was symbolized in cuneiform writing by an octagon star that referred to the planet Venus. The Sumerians called her “Aynata”. She was the patron deity of URUK.
In those ancient times, society was matriarchal.
This reflected the fact that survival depended on two main pillars; food and reproduction. Women’s physical bodies were seen as symbols of these needs, with the religious power of a strong female leader filtering through into all aspects of society – including the political and economic spheres.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today waded into the Turkish debate over whether to turn the historic Hagia Sophia museum back into a mosque.
“The United States views a change in the status of the Hagia Sophia as diminishing the legacy of this remarkable building and its unsurpassed ability — so rare in the modern world — to serve humanity as a much-needed bridge between those of differing faith traditions and cultures,” said Pompeo.
“We seek to continue to work with the government of Turkey on a broad range of issues of mutual interest, including the preservation of religious and cultural sites.”
Pompeo praised Turkey’s “outstanding” administration of the Hagia Sophia as a museum for nearly a century, allowing it to remain “accessible to all.” Pompeo’s statement comes the day before Turkey’s Council of State — the country’s highest administrative court — reviews a request to undo the historic building’s status as a museum.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office has hinted that the Turkish government could endorse reverting the Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
Hagia Sophia is the former Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral, later an Ottoman imperial mosque and now a museum (Ayasofya Müzesi) in Istanbul, Turkey. It is famous for its large dome. Built in AD 537, during the reign of Justinian, it was the world's largest building and an engineering marvel of its time. It is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have "changed the history of architecture".
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sophia ("wisdom") is a central idea in Hellenistic philosophy and religion, Platonism, Gnosticism, and Christian theology.
Originally carrying a meaning of "cleverness, skill", the later meaning of the term, close to the meaning of Phronesis ("wisdom, intelligence"), was significantly shaped by the term philosophy ("love of wisdom") as used by Plato.
In the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, the feminine personification of divine wisdom as Holy Wisdom (Hagía Sophía) can refer either to Jesus Christ the Word of God (as in the dedication of the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople) or to the Holy Spirit.
The expression Hagia Sophia itself is not found in the New Testament, even though passages in the Pauline epistles equate Christ with the "wisdom of God".
In the theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Holy Wisdom is understood as the Divine Logos who became incarnate as Jesus. In the Liturgy of the Orthodox Church, the exclamation Sophia! or in English Wisdom! will be proclaimed by the deacon or priest at certain moments, especially before the reading of scripture, to draw the congregation's attention to sacred teaching. In Russian Orthodox mysticism, Sophia became increasingly indistinguishable from the person of Mary, the mother of Jesus (rather than Christ), to the point of the implication of Mary as a "fourth person of the Trinity".
In Gnosticism, Sophia is a feminine figure, analogous to the soul, but also simultaneously one of the emanations of the Monad (The One, The Absolute). Gnostics held that she was the syzygy of Jesus (i.e. the Bride of Christ) and was the Holy Spirit of the Trinity.
Sophia is Shakti in Sanskrit, the powerful Hindu personification of feminine wisdom, and the personal and collective linking soul as atman, realized in the transcendent state of samadhi (Gnosis).
She is the compassionate boddhisatva (Avalokiteshvara) in Buddhism, returning to light the path to nirvana (Gnosis); personified by the deity Guanyin.
She is both Mother Mary, in her ascendant form, and Mary Magdalene, as the Earthly companion of the Christ potential in Christian Gnosticism. In Jungian psychology, she is the unifying power (“individuation”) of both the feminine and masculine archetypes, anima and animus, and of the lower self of the psyche with the higher spiritual self (Gnosis).
Al-Aqsa & Church of St. Mary of Justinian
(Temple Mount, Jerusalem)
The Church of St. Mary was a Byzantine church that was built in Jerusalem during the reign of Justinian and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The church was located on the Temple Mount.
Byzantine historian Procopius wrote that the church was built in 560 AD and burned down by the Persians in 614. Later after the Muslim conquest of the Holy Land, this church eventually was converted into what is the present day Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque was built 20 years after the Dome of the Rock, which was built in 691-692 by Khalif Abd El Malik (the name "Omar Mosque" is therefore false). He left the structure as it was, a typical Byzantine "basilica" structure with a row of pillars on either side of the rectangular "ship" in the center. All he added was an onion-like dome on top of the building to make it look like a mosque. He named it El-Aqsa, so it would sound like the one mentioned in the Koran.
The English poet and writer, Oscar Wilde says that, “Beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible”.
Civilizations have always used cosmetics for centuries in religious rituals to enhance beauty and to promote good health though not always recognizable compared to today’s advanced products. Cosmetics usage throughout history can be indicative of a civilization’s practical concerns, such as protection from the sun or conventions of beauty.
Cosmetics were an integral part of Egyptian hygiene and health. Men and women in Egypt use scented oils and ointments to clean and soften their skin and mask body odor. The love for the red color by Phoenician is evident from the great number of powders of this color, probably used to give color to the cheeks or lips.
Cosmetics became common to all classes of people at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
Undoubtly makeup is essential in most women’s life because it has an impact on the course of their daily lives and wearing make-up increases self-confidence, as it is fun for most women. Cosmetics today are the woman's permanent friend.
The view of every woman on make-up differs as some of them cannot go out of the house unless their makeup is complete and some of them do not give makeup a great importance, but there is no doubt that it is in the bag of every woman.
Syria Times interviewed Wael, the owner of a Cosmetics shop.
He said that, “a little kohl and powder on the cheeks will not harm, but a woman who does not wear make-up must know that a man, no matter how much he confesses his love to her, for her natural beauty, does not really prefer a woman with a pale face, because she will lose the balance of her attractiveness in front of him, and he will inevitably be attracted to the another woman who knows how she brings out her beauty and femininity and captivates his heart in a smart way”.
Despite the war years that Syria has gone through Syrian women who are classified as the third most beautiful in the world, do not hesitate to buy cosmetics to show their beauty and femininity.
When speaking about his vision for Middle East peace, Trump used terminology from the real estate world.
For him it was about two sides of a business transaction carrying out negotiating ploys, threatening to walk away only to come back and agree on some glossy building façade that would have the Trump name pasted across it in gold lettering. The president's premise was simple. The Saudis and Qataris would throw money at the Palestinians, who would revel in their good fortune and agree to surrender all their demands and rush to sign on the dotted line. In Trump world, money can buy everything. If there is not enough of it on offer, one can always add gold bars to the pile to incentivize those who are still holding back.
But now, as he is fighting what may be the final battle of his political life, Israel's annexation of parts of the West Bank is last thing on Trump's mind.
With coronavirus cases breaking daily records, the president is beginning to realize he is culpable for America's lack of preparedness to contain the virus and sees not only Democrats but even members of his own party outraged at his administration's mishandling of the crisis.
The social uprising that followed the murder of George Floyd is still growing and taking on different forms of protests – all critical of the president.
The man who had always boasted about being a winner may perhaps for the first time be facing a resounding defeat, if the opinion polls are to be believed.
Trump is cognizant of his evangelical supporters' desire to see the annexation carried out and that some of his rich Jewish donors' generosity depends on its implementation, but his attention is limited to his re-election campaign.
Israeli annexation was expected to begin yesterday (1-7-2020) according to a deadline set by Netanyahu.
Speaking to Army Radio, however, the country’s Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis said annexation “will certainly happen in July”, but it has to be done in partnership with the US, adding it “will only happen after a declaration by [US President Donald] Trump”. (Palestine Chronicle)
Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said in a June 30 interview on Russia Today TV that the "collusion" between the US and Israel must be exposed, that the US will lose its "control" of the world within five years, and that Russia, China, and Europe are on the rise.
Shaath also said that the Palestinians will and are ready to confront any “Israeli annexation of Palestinian land” by any means possible. He elaborated that the Palestinians have thus far opted for peaceful economic and diplomatic measures, but that they have the right to use military force, as well.
"Russia, which is [our] friend and ally, is now rising and growing. Our friend China is an economic, military, and political giant. Europe is growing. Despite Brexit, Europe is still one bloc, and it is friendly towards us. We must not surrender to despair when confronting America and Israel,” he added.
The senior adviser further said, "We will confront [Israeli annexation] using all available means..."
WASHINGTON – A report published Wednesday stating that President Donald Trump regrets following the political advice of his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, has revived Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hopes of gaining U.S. support for widespread Israeli annexation in the West Bank.
The story on Axios described Trump as being disappointed with Kushner’s advice, particularly on the issue of criminal justice reform. Kushner led a major initiative on the matter in 2018, which won strong bipartisan support in Congress and was aimed at improving Trump’s standing with Black voters.
According to Axios, Trump thinks in retrospect that listening to Kushner on this issue was a mistake and is planning to “stick closer to his own instincts” ahead of the November election.
The report came out the same day that Netanyahu had promised his voters would be the starting point of the annexation process: July 1. There was no progress on annexation on Wednesday, but the possibility of Kushner losing some of his influence within the White House could have an impact on the subject in the next few weeks while the Trump administration finalizes its position....
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed Friday the importance of the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, saying the Syrian problem can be solved "exclusively by encouraging dialogue between Syrians themselves."
He said Russia would welcome an active Arab role in promoting the Syrian settlement.
During talks with Speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives Aguila Saleh, Lavrov welcomed moves towards re-establishing Libya’s diplomatic presence in Damascus. He pointed out that the return of Arab states to Damascus would advance the Syrian settlement.
“I know that this issue is being discussed in the League of Arab States ... That would be facilitated by the restoration of the Arab states' presence in Damascus. That process has already begun. I know that you plan to take steps in that direction, too. We welcome that," Lavrov said.
The Russian Minister said his country supports the return of Syria to its normal position, inside the “Arab family”...
Syria’s membership in the Arab League was suspended in November 2011.
Libya Observer, 4-7-2020: Chairman of the Presidential Council, Fayez Sarraj (GNA government), held talks with Turkey’s Defense Minister, Hulusi Akar, and Chief of the General Staff, Yaşar Güler, in Tripoli on Friday.
The talks dealt with the latest developments in Libya, as well as the military and security cooperation between both countries and ways of boosting it. The two sides also reviewed programs for building Libya’s security and defense capabilities within the framework of the deal signed between the two countries last November.
Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that work between Turkey and Libya's legitimate government must continue very seriously and decisively.
Tunisian President Kais Saied does not miss any opportunity to point out that he is the “one and only President”.
On Friday, the Tunisian President met with Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi and Prime Minister Elias Fakhfakh. A statement on the Tunisian Presidency’s Facebook website stated that the President of the Republic stressed that “the head of state is the symbol of its unity, the guarantor of its independence and continuity, and the one responsible for respecting the constitution.” The meeting came after the uproar caused by a leak from the meeting of the Shura Council of Ghannouchi’s Ennahda Movement Party, which was held last Saturday and Sunday, and in which Ghannouchi mocked President Kais Saied’s knowledge of what was happening in Libya, in light of the latter’s comments during his visit to Paris about the difference between “permanent legitimacy” and “temporary legitimacy” that were interpreted as Saied questioning the international legitimacy of the Libyan Government of National Accord which is an ally of the Islamists and Turkey.
During his recent visit to Paris Kais Saied had said that it was necessary to reach a ceasefire in Libya and to renew the Libyan authorities’ legitimacy through free elections.
“The existing authority in Libya is based on international legitimacy, and it is a temporary legitimacy that cannot continue and should be replaced by a new legitimacy, a legitimacy stemming from the will of the Libyan people,” Saied said.
The upshot of this view is that the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli would be stripped of its so-called international legitimacy.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah stated on Monday that foreign meddling in Arab internal affairs were playing a destabilizing role through supporting armed terrorist militias and stoking sectarian and ethnic divisions.
Speaking before an Arab-Chinese ministerial virtual meeting, he stressed that such meddling demands a “serious stance” from the international community. Saudi Arabia underscores the unity and sovereignty of Arab territories, he added, saying that Riyadh does not interfere in their internal affairs and opposes anything that destabilizes the region.
Moreover, Prince Faisal remarked that Arab-Chinese cooperation was growing stronger, noting that it is based on each side “respecting international law, the sovereignty and independence of nations and resolving conflicts through peaceful means.”
Prince Faisal hailed Beijing for its support to the Palestinian people’s rights, the 2002 Arab peace initiative and two-state solution.
China Daily, 6-7-2020: China stands ready to promote the comprehensive strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Y said...
Noting that China highly appreciates Saudi Arabia's support for China's legitimate position on issues related to Hong Kong and Xinjiang, Wang said that some people in the world always pretend to be a teacher, frequently tell other countries what to do and violently interfere in China's internal affairs in the name of human rights, for the real purpose of messing up Hong Kong and Xin Jiang, and impeding China's development process.
Stressing that non-interference in internal affairs is the basic principle of international relations, Wang said that China firmly opposes the politicalization of human rights issues, and interference in other countries' internal affairs with the excuse of human rights. It is aimed at safeguarding not only China's own legitimate rights and interests, but also the basic principle of international relations, and is in the common interests of all developing nations including Saudi Arabia, Wang added.
Syrian tribes stand by the Syrian Army
Syrian Arab News Agency, 6 July 2020
Syrian tribes’ dignitaries and “the gathering of One Syria” in Qamishli affirmed their support for the Syrian Arab Army against terrorism and the US, Turkish occupation, calling on all tribes and citizens in Syrian Al-Jazeera to resist the US, Turkish occupation of their territories.
In a statement during a meeting on Monday, the tribes stressed their standing by the leadership and the army firmly and rejecting all forms of US blockade and terrorist racism against the Syrian citizens.
They said that the US blockade will not affect their adherence to their national principles represented by the Syrian sovereignty over all territory under their national flag.
The dignitaries called on Syrian Al-jazeera tribes to resist the occupation...
The Libyan National Army (LNA) has vowed to fight Turkey’s military presence in Libya “in every possible way”.
Speaking to local press, LNA’s media official Brigadier Khaled Al Mahjoub described Ankara’s presence in the country as an “occupation”, adding that the army and the parliament will fight this occupation “in every possible way”.
Al Mahjoub’s remarks came following an attack on Turkey’s Hawk air defense systems in Libya’s al-Watiya Air Base on Sunday. LNA has claimed responsibility for the attack. Ankara established a military foothold in Libya after signing a security agreement with the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) last year.
As part of the agreement, Turkish troops as well as Ankara-backed Syrian mercenaries were deployed to support GNA in an effort fight LNA in western Libya.
Agnes Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, has concluded in a new report that the Trump administration’s killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport on January 3 was unlawful. Callamard has the responsibility to report on killings by drone. Anna Germoni of the Italian TPI.it site interviewed Callamard...
Callamard admitted that there could be circumstances when such killings were justified, if it really was a matter of self defense:
“Killing in self-defense is allowed as a last resort, to protect one’s own life or that of others. The United States would have to demonstrate that it encountered an imminent threat to lives and that, in order to protect those lives, there was no other choice than to use lethal force. So far, no such justification has been demonstrated.”
President Trump initially announced that Soleimani had been coming to Iraq to kill Americans. But the then Iraqi prime minister, Adil Abdulmahdi, said it was he who invited Soleimani to Baghdad, since he was trying to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Soleimani came on a commercial flight and checked through security with his diplomatic passport. Trump never provided a shred of evidence for his allegation. When the Pentagon did up its own report on the incident, it did not include the charge that Soleimani had intended to kill Americans.
Germoni pressed Callamard on this issue, and she answered:
“As for the legality of the U.S. strike against General Soleimani, the information made available by the U.S. authorities does not, in my view, allow us to say that the murder was legal under international law...
“The justifications put forward by the United States have largely focused on Soleimani’s past activities and the serious crimes for which he is held responsible. And there is much evidence linking Soleimani to serious human rights violations in Iran, Syria, Iraq and other countries.
But under international law his past involvement in human rights violations or acts of terror is not enough to make his murder lawful..." Callamard concludes that not only was Soleimani’s killing unlawful, it set a very bad precedent. Trump was acting as judge, jury and executioner and arbitrarily killing someone he didn’t like the looks of.
Syria and Iran on Wednesday signed a comprehensive military agreement to strengthen military and security cooperation at various fields of work of the armed forces in the two friendly countries.
The agreement was signed after a number of meetings and work sessions held by the two sides, headed by Defense Minister Ali Abdullah Ayoub, and Chief of General Staff of Iranian Armed Force, Mohammad Hossein Bagheri.
The Syrian-Iranian relationship is a firm strategic relationship, Ayoub said in a joint press conference...
At the same time, Bagheri said, “We (Iran) will strengthen Syria’s air defense systems in order to strengthen military cooperation between the two countries.”
In regards to the situation in northwestern Syria, Bagheri said, “Turkey has been a little late in fulfilling its commitments on the eve of the withdrawal of terrorist groups from Syria.”
“Turkey needs to know that its security problems can be resolved through negotiations and understanding with the Syrian side, not through a military presence on Syrian soil,” he continued.
“The people and countries of the region do not welcome the presence of the United States, and our response to the gossip of the United States continues,” he said. “The signed agreement raises our will to work together to counter US pressure,” Bagheri concluded.
Iran began providing Syria with advisory military assistance after numerous countries, at the head of them the US and its Western and regional allies, started funding and arming militants and terrorists with the aim of deposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
The maximum pressure campaign against Iran is “one of the best things the Trump administration has done,” said former senator Joe Lieberman in an interview with Al Arabiya, breaking with the current Democratic leadership’s condemnation of the campaign.
“I was thrilled when the Trump administration withdrew from the agreement and began the maximum pressure campaign, which has weakened the regime,” said Lieberman, who was the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2000 and served as a US Senator for the state of Connecticut for 24 years.
Trump’s maximum pressure campaign is moving in the right direction, which is “to change the regime in Tehran,” he added.
Lieberman said Biden – his Senate colleague and friend for many years - would be wrong to renegotiate the 2015 nuclear agreement.... Iran has been negotiating a 25-year “strategic accord” with China... The two countries represent major threats to the US, according to Lieberman, who said China challenges the US economically and diplomatically, while Iran is an “extremist, terrorist regime” that is “decidedly anti-American.” “The coming together of China and Iran in an agreement is problematic to our relations with China,” he added.
Joe Lieberman was one of the Senate's strongest advocates for the war in Iraq. He is also a supporter of the U.S.-Israel relationship.
Lieberman retired from the Senate in 2012. Following his retirement from the Senate, Lieberman became senior counsel of the white collar criminal defense and investigations practice at Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, a law firm in New York City whose notable clients include Donald Trump.
In March 2013, it was announced that Lieberman would be joining the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank as co-chairman of their American Internationalism Project. In August 2015, Lieberman became chairman of the advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI).
An admirer of 'The Rebbe'
As leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, Schneerson ('The Rebbe') took an insular Hasidic group and transformed it into one of the most influential movements in religious world Jewry, with an international network of over 3,000 educational and social centers.
Lieberman describes himself as an "observant" Jew. Observant, as opposed to Orthodox, because he doesn't follow the strict Orthodox code. He is an admirer of the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson. He has said of Schneerson, "I was impressed by this man, by his obvious spirituality, by his soaring intellect, by the extent to which he was involved in the world."
In a speech last week, Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef issued an all-out attack on Reform Judaism, describing it as “fake” and “falsified”...
It was the latest in a long list of attacks by Israel’s Sephardi chief rabbi and halachic authority against one of the largest Jewish movements in the world.
As a chief rabbi in the Jewish state, Yosef’s role should be in opening up Judaism and making it available and welcoming to any Jew who is interested in participating in the Jewish experience.
The attacks on Reform Jews is another stage in the Orthodox world’s assault on progressive Jews. This plays out not just in speeches like the one Yosef gave last week, but also in government policies, which continue to discriminate against pluralistic Jews at the Western Wall, in conversions and when it comes to marriage, divorce and other life cycle events in Israel.
Sadly, matters of religion and state in this country continue to be held hostage by ultra-Orthodox radicals who refuse to accept that not every Jew will look like them or practice Judaism the same way that they do. Some 400,000 Israelis, overwhelmingly from the former Soviet Union and their children, are of Jewish ancestry but are not considered Jewish according to Jewish law.
The year is 2020 and they still cannot get married in the State of Israel, not have an option of public transportation and reforms in the country’s kashrut system are slow in coming. It is time that all this changes.
A few months ago when, a Supreme Court ruling ordered the State of Israel to recognize Reform and Conservative rabbis serving in rural communities, the Chief Rabbis declared a war against the court ruling, demonizing Reform Judaism as "destroyers, terrorists, God’s enemies, evil" and worse... Israel's leaders were silent then....
The overwhelming majority of Israelis want to see its founding promises of "freedom of religion and conscience" and "equality regardless of religion" fully realized. They shudder from the mere thought that [..] Israel will turn into a theocracy.
It is not the civil laws and institutions of democracy which need to be banished, but rather the Chief Rabbinate. It is time to reconsider the need for it. It is clear to all in Israel that the Rabbinate turned into a payoff to the ultra-Orthodox parties. There is no parallel to the institution of the Chief Rabbinate in any Diaspora community, and it has no precedent in history. It was invented by the Ottoman Empire, kept by its heirs (the British Mandate over Palestine), and became a convenient trading card in the hands of Israeli governments.
Al-Zawiya Security Director, Brigadier-General Ali al-Lafi, announced he had a meeting yesterday, Tuesday, with the new Head of the Criminal Investigation Department and the Director of Investigation in the city to discuss several important files, including combating terrorist extremism, corruption, and crimes in the city. The new head of Criminal Investigation, is however Captain” Muhammad Salem Bahroun, nicknamed “Al-Far” (or literally “The Mouse”) an ISIS-linked militianmen wanted by the Prosecutor General. This proves once more that the GNA has no respect for professional institutions...
“The meeting also discussed the file of terrorist crimes and organizations,” said the statement with complete disregard to the fact that Al-Far was among those wanted for cooperating with ISIS-affiliated members before the terrorist organization collapsed in Sabratha.
The statement said that the Zawiyah Security Director valued what he called the “effective” and important role of the Criminal Investigation Department, headed by Al-Far, in combating crime and terrorism, and stressed the need to intensify efforts to monitor, raid, and deracinate all corruption, smuggling, and narcotics dens..
Muhammad Salem Bahroun, also known as Al-Faar or “The Mouse” (The Rat), led militia connected to the Islamic State terrorist group. Bahroun was awarded the rank of first lieutenant as a grade without studying at the Police Academy.
In addition to Mohamed Bahroun’s association with smuggling and organized crime gangs, he is number 6 on the wanted list of the General Prosecutor since October 2017 in a case related to support and link to the Islamic State.
This case, known as (131 of 2017) goes back to the arrest of a group of the Islamic State. Bahroun refused to surrender himself to the Public Prosecution in Tripoli, according to a letter issued through the Director of Zawiya Security Directorate, Ali Al-Lafi, who is loyal to this group.
Military police in the Libyan city of Benghazi have detained a terrorist named Mohamed Sobhi, who holds Egyptian citizenship and is a former officer of the Islamic State (IS) in the al-Naqleya district.
Sobhi was an officer in a militia led by IS terrorist leader Muhammad Salem Bahroun, also known as “al-Faar” (the rat), the source added.
Sobhi detailed how Bahroun recruited hundreds of African immigrants from Chad and Sudan, and convinced fighters from the Boko Haram terrorist organization to fight alongside IS against the Libyan army.
Sobhi further confessed how his leader Bahroun kidnapped dozens of Libyan women from their families on Omar al-Mukhtar Street in al-Zawiya city...
The newspaper reported that Bahroun’s militia supports Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, alongside armed groups in Zawiya city such as gangs engaged in smuggling and human trafficking. Through forged documents Bahroun was appointed as commander of the First Security Support Force of Zawiya Security Directorate and to police at the rank of first lieutenant and captain, the source added.
One of the most dangerous fuel smugglers and human traffickers in Zawiya, Bahroun’s hefty crime record includes the rape, assault and kidnapping of women, the recruit of migrants for terrorism purposes, and smuggling.
The possibility of the creation of a ‘‘demilitarized zone’’ in Libya was raised by the UN yesterday. The demilitarized zone would be created between the area east of Misrata and west of Sirte to keep apart forces and foreign allies of the GNA government in Tripoli and local and foreign forces aligned to Khalifa Hafter.
The new initiative was reported yesterday by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres during his remarks to the Security Council on the latest situation in Libya:
"Excellencies, Time is not on our side in Libya. The conflict has entered a new phase with foreign interference reaching unprecedented levels, including in the delivery of sophisticated equipment and the number of mercenaries involved in the fighting.
Since my Acting Special Representative last updated the Security Council on 19 May, we have witnessed the retreat of the Libyan National Army’s frontlines in Tripoli, the take-over by Government of National Accord of Al-Wutiya airbase, Tarhouna and Bani Walid.
GNA units, with significant external support, continued their advance eastward, and are now 25 km west of Sirte, after two previous attempts to gain control of the city. The situation on the frontlines has been mostly quiet since 10 June.
However, we are very concerned about the alarming military build-up around Sirte, and the high-level of direct foreign interference in the conflict in violation of the UN arms embargo, UN Security Council resolutions, and the commitments made by Member States in Berlin. In addition, on Sunday, 5 July, unidentified air force planes launched an attack on Al-Wutiya airbase.
In this gloomy context, all opportunities to unblock the political stalemate must be seized. De-escalation efforts, including the creation of a possible demilitarized zone, are being undertaken by UNSMIL to reach a negotiated solution and spare lives..."
"The current discussions focus on areas of convergence, including: the departure of foreign mercenaries; solid counter-terrorism cooperation between military and security institutions across the country; disarmament and demobilization of armed groups throughout Libya; and modalities for a possible ceasefire mechanism that would reflect the new reality on the ground."
"As tensions simmer in central Libya, the United Nations has continued to engage with the parties to prevent the conflict from spreading to Libya’s Oil Crescent region, from which the country derives sixty percent of its oil resources.
The current blockade has already cost over six billion dollars in lost revenues, damaged oil infrastructure and created the conditions for an historically high budget deficit of over 50 per cent of Libya’s GDP."
Chinese Ambassador to Jordan Pan Weifang on Thursday said the ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) was an “important success” that will further boost the cooperation and strategic partnership between China and the countries of the region.
Weifang, who was speaking during a press conference held at the Chinese embassy in Amman, praised the Kingdom’s “positive contribution and efforts to ensure the success of the conference”.
“Chinese-Arab ties have had several opportunities to ensure further development and comprehensive advancement since China became the second strategic partner for the Arab world last year,” the ambassador told the press.
The ninth ministerial meeting of the forum was co-chaired by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Ayman Safadi and Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi and attended by foreign ministers of Arab League member states and the league’s secretary general.
According to the envoy, China is “committed” to continuing to support Arab states by providing anti-epidemic supplies, sharing experience and sending expert teams to Arab countries. The ambassador also reiterated China’s stance in support of Palestinians’ rights to freedom and independence, expressing an international position that rejects Israel’s plan to annex occupied Palestinian lands in violation of international law.
The US State Department voiced its displeasure on Friday with a decision by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to convert Istanbul's historic Hagia Sophia back into a mosque after it was made a museum in 1934.
“We are disappointed by the decision by the Government of Turkey to change the status of the Hagia Sophia. This building is an important part of the 'Historic Sites of Istanbul' UNESCO World Heritage Site," a State Department representative said on Friday.
“We understand the Turkish Government remains committed to maintaining access to the Hagia Sophia for all visitors, and look forward to hearing its plans for continued stewardship of the Hagia Sophia to ensure it remains accessible without impediment for all," they added.
Hagia Sophia was originally constructed as an Orthodox Christian church in 537 by the Roman Emperor Justinian.
It became a mosque when the Turkish Ottoman Emperor Mehmet II captured Constantinople in 1453 and remained a Muslim center of worship until 1931, when it was closed for three years by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the secularizing founder of modern Turkey. It reopened in 1934 as a museum.
Earlier on Friday, Erdogan signed a decree rescinding the 1934 decision and making the domed structure a Muslim house of worship once again.
"Anything which is more than our necessity is poison. It may be power, wealth, hunger, ego, greed, laziness, love, ambition, hate or anything." Jalal ad-Din Rumi
It may win President Erdogan a few Islamist friends, but turning Istanbul’s former Orthodox Christian cathedral, Hagia Sophia, into a mosque shows total disregard for a fragile religious balance and a key cultural destination.
Turkey’s decision to convert the famed Hagia Sophia – the nation’s most-visited tourist site – into a mosque has brought Islamist ideology to the doorstep of Europe in one chilling decree.
The former Orthodox Christian cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site, attracted more than 3.7 million visitors last year. But those numbers will plummet from now on, as tourists steer clear of what will be an active mosque, with most preferring a little less controversy when looking to immerse the family in a foreign culture.
Not only will visitors from abroad be puzzled by the move, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s push to annul the site’s museum status has not gone down well in neighboring Athens, or even in the USA... Lina Mendoni, Culture Minister for Greece, home to millions of Orthodox Church followers, lambasted Erdogan, telling the BBC, “It takes his country back six centuries.”
Nicholas Danforth, a historian and a fellow at the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute, told Al-Monitor, “As a museum, the Hagia Sophia symbolized the idea of there being common artistic and cultural values that transcended religion to unite humanity. Its conversion into a mosque is an all too appropriate symbol for the rise of right-wing nationalism and religious chauvinism around the world today.”
"The principles of Tawheed (God is not a tribal idol, but a God for all people) and Brotherhood (all people are equal) lay the foundation of the Islamic social order." (Masudul Alam Choudhury)
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, said Erdogan was seeking to bait him into a debate over whether the Hagia Sophia should be opened to Muslim prayer when in fact one of its wings has effectively been so for several years....
Acting Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Libya, Stephanie Williams, and Speaker of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR), Aqilah Saleh have welcomed the announcement of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) to lift the force majeure on oil, stressing the necessity to avoid any obstacles in oil flow, as it belongs to all Libyans; and urged that revenues expenditures be managed in a transparent and professional manner.
The two parties discussed during a meeting held yesterday in Geneva, the revival of political dialogue, the recent initiative for a cease-fire, and the need to intensify efforts to find a comprehensive political solution to the Libyan crisis.
According to a statement by the UN mission, Williams welcomed the position of Aqilah Saleh, in support of an immediate and lasting ceasefire, especially in Sirte.
Both also called on foreign actors to stop their negative interferences in Libya, facilitate and support the political process in order to prevent a new humanitarian and economic catastrophe in Sirte and the Oil Crescent, according to the statement.
On Friday, the NOC announced that the force majeure would be lifted from all oil exports from Libya, allowing the "KRITI Bastion" oil tanker to load the first shipment from El Sidra port following the resumption of oil operations.
Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) said on Saturday it would maintain a blockade on oil production and exports...
LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari said in an online statement that the country's oil fields and ports are "closed until the orders of the Libyan people are implemented", laying out conditions to lift the blockade.
Under existing arrangements backed by the UN, oil is produced and exported by the NOC with revenues flowing to the Central Bank of Libya. Both institutions are based in Tripoli... Mismari demanded that revenue should flow into a new bank account outside Libya to be distributed between regions. It should not fund GNA "terrorists and mercenaries".
UNSMIL condemned today what it chose to refer to as the ‘‘clashes’’ that took place in the western Tripoli suburb of Janzur between militias that are officially recognized by the Faiez Serraj-led (GNA) government.
In its statement, UNSMIL said that it is ‘‘deeply concerned at the recent clashes that took place between criminal elements, including armed groups members, in Janzour, a civilian-populated neighbourhood in Tripoli. These clashes frightened local residents and resulted in a number of casualties. The clashes underscore the need for the GNA to move swiftly on effective and coordinated Security Sector Reform and Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration efforts’’, the UNSMIL statement concluded.
What the UNSMIL statement chose not to mention, however, was that 10 people were killed and the bodies of dead militiamen were desecrated, stripped naked, hung up in front of their homes and paraded across Janzur. Their homes were also burnt. The photos of their desecrated naked corpses have been widely circulating on social media. The ‘‘clashes’’ on 8 and 9 July were assassinations between state-paid and recognized militias, part of the Fathi Bashagha Ministry of Interior, fighting over the control of diesel distribution and petrol stations in the area.
The clashes involved one of the Janzur militias, the Fursan Janzur (Janzur Knights) and the Fakar family militia following an altercation a couple of days earlier at a petrol station. The Fakars killed the brother of the commander of the Fursan Knights, who in turn exacted revenge on the Fakars.
Diesel is hard to come by throughout Tripoli. Gangs and militias have taken over its distribution. It is a lucrative business.
In broader terms, the incident further highlights Libya’s malaise. Sources say that only a month ago the two militias were fighting on the same battle front against the Khalifa Hafter forces. However, now that the spectre of Hafter has subsided, Tripoli’s militias have once again turned to face-off one another over territory, power, and slices of what they can extract out of Libya’s rentier state The clashes demonstrate the continuing lack of security in the capital, with power still wielded by the militias.
The Tripoli government heaped praise on its militias during its battle against Hafter, referring to them not as militias but as the ‘‘Supporting Forces’’.
One of the purported grievances of Hafter and his Libyan National Army has been Tripoli and western Libya’s militias and their monopolistic hold on the internationally recognized government.
The continued existence, if not increased enriching and empowering, of Libya’s militias has prohibited the formation of the Libyan state, and specifically, has prevented the weak Libyan state from acquiring a legitimate monopoly on the use of force. Hafter may have been interested in gaining power purely for personal gain – but the Tripoli government is propped up by, and at the mercy of all the militias in the western region.
Libya cannot become a fully functioning state if its government of the day does not enjoy the power to enforce its decisions. It must have a monopoly on the use of force – and this cannot happen if there are militias contesting this monopoly.
Libya's Tobruk based parliament [HOR] has passed a motion authorising Egypt to intervene militarily if needed to safeguard the "national security" of both countries in light of what it termed a Turkish "occupation".
In its statement late Monday evening, the parliament said Libya and Egypt should work together "to guarantee the occupier's defeat and preserve our shared national security". The legislature backs military commander Khalifa Haftar, who fought a year-long and ultimately unsuccessful campaign to seize the western capital Tripoli from the United Nations-recognised GNA government.
Haftar launched an offensive in April 2019 to seize the capital, but the GNA took advantage of Turkish military support including drones to re-impose its control over Libya's northwest.
Haftar is supported by neighbouring Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, while the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli has the backing of their regional rivals Turkey and Qatar.
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi warned last month that Egypt could send troops into Libya...
El-Sisi explained that any intervention in Libya by Egyptian forces "would be led by the Libyan tribes," and stressed that "we only aspire for stability in Libya."
Egypt's deputy parliament speaker said in a statement on Tuesday that Egyptian MPs value the Libyan parliament's decision to authorise Cairo to intervene militarily if needed to safeguard "the national security" of both countries in the face of what it termed a Turkish "occupation."
"This is a historic decision aimed at allowing the Egyptian armed forces to stand up to Turkish aggression, and we MPs pledge that the Egyptian leadership and people are ready to defend Libya and will never let their Libyan brothers down," said Soliman Wahdan, who is also chairman of the Wafd party. [..]
"I would like to raise attention to the important role of the Libyan tribes in supporting their national army and standing up to any foreign aggression," said Wahdan, arguing that "the freely elected and internationally recognised Libyan parliament's decision provides a legitimate reason for Egypt to help the Libyan people."
"In the name of all Egyptian MPs, we support the Egyptian armed forces taking all the measures necessary to preserve the national security of Egypt and neighbouring Libya from any aggression," he added.
Libyan sheikhs and elders will meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on Thursday to discuss Cairo’s role in the Libyan settlement, Sheikh Senussi al-Haleeq, the deputy chairman of the Supreme Council of Libyan Sheikhs and Elders, told Sputnik.
“Tomorrow, a high-level delegation under the leadership [of the council’s] sheikhs and elders at the level of Libya from [the country’s] east, west, southeast and southwest will leave to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi to discuss and confirm demands of the Libyan parliament,” the deputy chairman said in an interview.
“First of all, we, as the Supreme Council of Libyan Tribes, support the [eastern] Libyan parliament and the Libyan National Army, as well as the unity of Libya and its national reconciliation.
We back a ceasefire … and the initiative, put forward by Aguila Saleh to form a new presidential council. … In regard with the House of Representative’s invitation to the Egyptian government, we undoubtedly support it. … We ask that there will be an Arab interference, not only Egypt’s, as the Libyan issue is the issue of the Arab world, not only of Libya and Egypt, for example,” the deputy chairman said, asking the joint Arab intervention in Libya.
Flashback 2015: Representatives from Libyan tribes have set up a Supreme Council of Tribes. The decision was made at a Conference of Libya Tribes and Cities. Held in Soloug, south of Benghazi, it was attended by some 2,000 members of different tribes from across the country. (opemam, 8-10-2015)
Tunisian Foreign Minister Noureddine Erray on Monday welcomed Algerian Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum during their meeting in Tunis, Tunisia, to discuss increasing Tunisia and Algeria’s contact with the Libyan side and international players with the aim of reaching a true dialogue that will guarantee Libya’s stability and prosperity.
Sabri Boukadoum stated that the Libyan issue “has nothing to do with oil or economic interests.”
He stressed the determination of the two countries’ leaderships to work towards a political settlement in Libya, far from foreign interference and narrow and contradictory agendas.
“It can be asserted that Tunisia and Algeria are the only two states that have no agenda in Libya,” said Tunisian Foreign Minister Noureddine Erray.
He also noted that the meeting was an opportunity to reaffirm that the Palestinian question remains “a major cause for the Arab nation”.
Erray stressed that Tunisia and Algeria will seriously work to “defend the rights of the Palestinian people and confront all Israeli attempts to undermine international legitimacy”.
Concerning the joint Arab action, the Foreign Minister stressed that Tunisia and Algeria consider that this system needs a deep reform that will enable it to meet the current challenges and deal with the current Arab issues.
A Jordanian court has ruled to “dissolve” the [traditional] Muslim Brotherhood MBG in the country, because it had not corrected its legal status in line with Jordanian law, reported regional media outlets. The decision reportedly came after the organization filed a lawsuit against a breakaway group, the Muslim Brotherhood Society (MBS), and the government’s Department of Lands and Survey.
The now-dissolved organization [MBG] requested that a transfer of real estate and land to the MBS, which was given legal status in 2015, be nullified. However, the court rejected the law suit and said the Brotherhood was dissolved.
According to the Counter Extremism Project, the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan split in 2015, between the “reformists” (MBS and the Islamic Action Front) and the older Muslim Brotherhood Group [MBG]. Since then, the two factions have vied for influence in the country.
The parliamentary party the Islamic Action Front won 10 of the 130 seats in 2016. Members of the MBS ran under the National Congress Party ticket in 2016 but did not win any seats, according to the Counter Extremism Report.
After outbreak of the Arab Spring, Jordanian members of the Brotherhood started eying power in Amman, inspired by Mohammad Morsi’s victory in Egypt.
In January 2013, their leader, Hammam Saed, described Jordan a “state in the Muslim caliphate”.
Three months later, in an interview with The Atlantic, King Abdullah snapped, saying the Brothers were “wolves in sheep’s clothing” and preventing them from coming to power “was our main fight”.
In November 2014, a secret cell of Brotherhood members was discovered, said to be smuggling money and arms to Islamist militants on the West Bank and setting up a military branch inside Jordan aimed at toppling the government. In January 2015, King Abdullah met with a delegation from the Brotherhood, calmly saying that he could no longer tolerate their violence or their official affiliation with the Egyptian mother branch of the Brotherhood.
The group then splintered between a so-called reformist bloc, being the government-licensed Muslim Brotherhood Society (MBS) and the Muslim Brotherhood linked political party 'Islamic Action Front', versus the original Muslim Brotherhood Group (MBG), which was forcefully disbanded.
The MBS leader Abdul Majid Thuneibat said that the Brotherhood “must become Jordanian and fall under Jordanian law”, while Hammam Saed described the breakaway faction as a “coup”.
The MBG headquarters and media office were shut down. Their property was confiscated and transferred to the MBS...
Thunaibat resigned as leader of the MBS in March 2018, and was replaced by Sharaf Qadah, a member of the Doha-based Union of Muslim Scholars, previously led by the Brotherhood ideologue Yusuf al-Qardawi.
Speaking to EER, Sean Yom, a ranking Middle East scholar, said: “The organization is far weaker today than in the past, thanks to internal divisions amplified by state cooptation of moderate factions within the group.”
All hopes to prop up a Brotherhood regime in Damascus have failed, and so have the hopes of maintaining a Brotherhood regime in Cairo.
With Omar al-Bashir out of power in Sudan, their last hopes in the Arab World are currently Libya, Qatar, and Jordan. Though Turkey might be able to maintain a Brotherhood-affiliated government in part of Libya with its own forces and Syrian mercenaries, it seems unlikely Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar can be defeated entirely...
If a deal ever materializes between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the Brotherhood in Doha could be forced out, and will almost certainly head for Amman.
Behind closed doors, the Muslim Brotherhood held a two-day conference in Istanbul on 14-15 September 2019 entitled, “Authenticity and Continuation.” Attended by 500 members, all carefully selected from the organization’s old guard, it was hosted by the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and had notable participation from his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which traces its ideological roots back to the Muslim Brotherhood...
By hosting the conference amidst high tension in the Middle East, the Turkish leader was sending a message to friends and enemies alike, saying that the Brotherhood was still alive, against all odds, still visible to the rest of the world, capable of constantly reinventing itself—and still firmly in the hands of Ankara.
According to the organization’s spokesman, Talaat Fahmi, the conference was organized to prepare for the Brotherhood’s 100th anniversary (due in 2028) and aims at “re-introducing our principles to the world, along with our methodology in all walks of life, in politics, dawa (call to Islam), foreign relations, and international affairs.”
Only two countries remain firmly committed to the Brotherhood’s program, Turkey and Qatar. The first provides them with political cover while Doha provides them with accommodation, allowances, and prime time on Al-Jazeera TV. Against all odds, Erdogan remains committed to this project, says Hilal Khashan, professor of political science at the American University of Beirut (AUB).
He believes that the Arab uprisings are far from over because the preconditions that ignited them have not disappeared...
Ranking Brotherhood figures took turns at the podium, lashing out against Egypt’s government, while praising the group’s founder, Imam Hassan al-Banna.
Prominent speakers included Mohammad Hikmat Walid, leader of the group’s outlawed Syria branch, their ex-general supervisors in Jordan Abdulhamid Thnaibat and Humam Said (whose lecture was entitled “Group Work in the Brotherhood”), and their Palestinian counterpart Mahmud Hussein, now serving on the Brotherhood’s powerful Guidance Office, who presented a working paper entitled, “The Muslim Brotherhood: Reform and Change”
Also present was infamous Tarek al-Zummar, a notorious Egyptian Islamist who was arrested for the 1981 assassination of President Anwar al-Sadat. Having been released in 2011, Al-Zummar now resides in Qatar.
Attendees spent considerable time lashing out against two philosophical books that they saw as threatening to their vision and future conduct.
One was “Al-Islam wa Usul al-Hukum” whose English version was entitled “Islam, a religion not a state.”
The second book “Mustakbal al-Thakafa Fi Misr” (Future of Culture in Egypt) penned by Taha Hussein, widely considered the “Dean of Arabic Literature.” Released in 1938, it has long been on the Brotherhood’s hit list for calling for a modern secular state in Egypt, affiliated with Europe.
Apart from organizing the event, Turkish authorities seemingly did not intervene with what the Brotherhood veterans said and did at the conference...
Turkey's Ministry of Culture and Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) have signed a protocol confirming that Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, recently converted into a mosque, will be preserved as a global heritage site after the change of status, Culture Minister Mehmet Ersoy said on Thursday.
"There is no need to worry, Hagia Sophia will be guarded as it used to. We sign a protocol, which says it will be preserved as a global heritage site in compliance with international standards. Restoration works in the buildings will be accelerated. Foreign tourists will be able to attend Hagia Sophia free of charge," Ersoy told reporters at the protocol signing ceremony.
The Diyanet head, Ali Erbas, added that the Turkish government expects an increased flow of visitors to Hagia Sophia.
"Hagia Sophia is a heritage of the entire humanity, it is one of the best historical and cultural sites, and we feel honoured to preserve it...." Erbas said.
On 10 July, Turkey's top administrative court, the Council of State, annulled a 1934 cabinet decree converting Hagia Sophia into a museum, which means that it can now be used as a mosque. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan immediately signed a relevant decree.
Sudan’s transitional government has been praised for its latest reforms, which decriminalise apostasy, ban female genital mutilation (FGM) and end the requirement for women to get travel permits.
The legislation makes major strides in pushing back against discrimination faced by women and minorities during the 30-year rule of Omar al-Bashir that came to an end in 2019, according to equality advocates.
The anti-torture charity Redress and the Sudan-based African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies said the measures “move Sudan a step closer towards eliminating structural violence against women and minorities”.
Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari announced last week that apostasy, which had been used against religious minorities and was punishable by death, would no longer be an offence. In addition, he said, non-Muslims will be allowed to drink alcohol in private.
Abdulbari called the reforms “a big stride towards establishing one of the foundations for the victorious December revolution’s slogans, which is freedom”.
The reforms follow the abolition in late 2019 of the notorious Public Order Act. Article 152, that included the punishment of 40 lashes for women who wore trousers in public. Ola Diab, the editor of the online Sudanese cultural magazine 500 Words, said the reforms were “great first steps”.
She added that many other laws needed to change, including those that have seen victims of rape prosecuted on adultery charges and women in mixed-sex settings accused of prostitution.
President Abdel Fatah El Sisi said on Thursday that Egypt would not stand idly by in the face of any action in neighbouring Libya that poses a threat to his country’s national security.
Addressing scores of tribal leaders and dignitaries from Libya, the Egyptian leader boasted that his country’s military has the capability to “swiftly and decisively” change the military landscape in Libya... Mr El Sisi spoke after Libya’s parliament in eastern Libya - which Cairo sees as the only legitimately elected body in the country - voted earlier this week to invite the Egyptian military to intervene in Libya if Cairo saw a threat to the security of both nations.
Mr El Sisi on Thursday said he too will have to secure the approval of parliament before his forces can move inside Libya, a foregone conclusion since the chamber has already condemned Turkey’s intervention in Libya in the strongest terms.
Addressing the Libyan tribal leaders on Thursday, he said: “We will not go into Libya unless you ask us to and we will leave when you order us to.”
“The declaration of the Sirte-Jufra line as a red line is essentially a call for peace and an end to the conflict in Libya,” said Mr El Sisi, who was repeatedly interrupted by applause from the Libyan tribesmen.
Tme has come for Libya’s tribes to take
centre stage with the Libyan National Army (LNA) and parliament The Arab Weekly, 17-7-2020
The timing of the tribal delegation’s visit reflects the pertinence of the Egyptian strategy.
On the one hand, Cairo is using this new mechanism to address the international community. The Tripoli government and its Turkish allies deliberately ignored this mechanism because they lacked the right foundation for using it. This is why they rely on militias and extremist figures as a substitute for tribes.
Most of the main, proactive Libyan tribes decided not to side with the GNA and are wary of Ankara’s role and ambitions in Libya. In fact, they look at Turkey’s presence in Libya as a re-enactment of a not so distant past of Ottoman occupation that needs to be expelled from their lands.
On the other hand, bringing the tribal card to the foreground resets many political equations, as the international community has not recently engaged with the tribes as much as it should have. The world’s major powers with interests in Libya have surrendered to the GNA’s and Ankara’s dubious discourse, while Egypt kept saving the tribal card and waving it from time to time.
It seems that the time has come for Libya’s tribes to take centre stage with the Libyan National Army (LNA) and parliament in order to confirm that Libya and the Libyan people are a much larger and more significant entity than a handful of scattered militia groups in control of decision-making in Tripoli, and that their decisive role cannot be ignored. The GNA, headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, was able to buy the allegiance of some western tribes, but in the end, these tribes do not represent the main body of the traditional tribes in Libya and are now working for themselves anyway.
The Arab Weekly has learned that Cairo is also attempting to bring together elements of the Qaddafi regime who still enjoy an important tribal, political and military influence, and who could impact current balances in Libya and push back further against the GNA if they are able to unite under one political cover.
On Saturday, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Armenia’s Foreign Minister, accused Turkey of playing a destructive role in many countries, saying that Ankara’s interference has led to a significant increase in tensions in the eastern Mediterranean and in the Middle East and North Africa region.
In statements to Sky News Arabia, Zohrab added that Turkey is trying to impose its control and policies over the region, noting that Ankara’s behaviour does not contribute to finding a peaceful solution to any crisis.
He pointed out that Turkey’s policies in recent clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan are not constructive.
The minister said that Turkey not only expressed its unconditional support to Azerbaijan, but also resorted to brazen claims over the South Caucasus, which the Turkish President and his senior officials justify by referring to Turkey’s “historical mission” in the region.
“It is an imperative that third countries refrain from policies that provoke instability or anyhow support Azerbaijan based on kinship, or encourages its illusions regarding the possibility of a military solution to the conflict.”
The latest clashes indirectly pit Turkey against Russia. Turkey backs Azerbaijan, while Russia supports Armenia. .. Turkish pro-government media have been quick to accuse Moscow of encouraging Armenia to attack Azerbaijan, albeit without substantiating the allegation.
"Armenia and Azerbaijan are faced with the challenge of becoming the next spot, like Syria and Libya. The Russian military is already deployed in the region," said Zaur Gasimov, a Russia expert at the University of Bonn.
"The location is very strange," said Gasimov, referring to Azerbaijan’s remote Tovuz region, adding, "Normally fighting occurs in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh.”
The Tovuz region is close to Azerbaijan's crucial South Caucasia pipeline. The SCP channels natural gas to Turkey's TANAP pipeline and is a key component of Ankara's efforts to decrease its dependence on Russian energy.
"Turkey is heavily dependent on Russia for gas supplies," said Mehmet Ogutcu of the London Energy Club policy group. "Turkey is now trying to reduce its intake from Russia," he added.
The Azeri-Turkish partnership could deepen further as a new opportunity arises in 2021, when a major gas deal between Turkey and Russia is up for renewal. "With the contract coming to an end, Turkey will use this opportunity to rebalance its energy relations with Russia," said Ogutcu. Analysts say Ankara's energy diversification efforts play favorably for the U.S. administration.
Washington has been intensively lobbying its European allies to curtail energy cooperation with Russia as part of the Trump administration efforts to curb the Kremlin's economic leverage over Europe.
Turkey and Azerbaijan have entered into an energy cooperation agreement... In November 2019 Turkey and Azerbaijan formally marked the completion of the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) which comprises the longest stretch of the $40 billion Southern Gas Corridor, a series of pipelines that will carry gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to Europe.
Azerbaijan accounts for the largest share of Turkey’s natural gas imports. According to the Azerbaijani energy ministry, more than 27.3 percent of Azerbaijan’s natural gas exports in 2019 went to Turkey.
The agreement was signed by the energy ministers of the two countries in the presence of President Erdoğan and President Aliyev on February 25 in Baku.
While the 14-article agreement was was approved by Azerbaijan’s parliament Milli Majlis on May 31, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan submitted the accord to the Turkish parliament for approval by on June 8.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a territorial and ethnic conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts, which are de facto controlled by the self-declared Republic of Artsakh, but are internationally recognized as de jure part of Azerbaijan. The conflict has its origins in the early 20th century. Under the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin decided to make the Nagorno-Karabakh region an autonomous oblast of Soviet Azerbaijan. The present conflict began in 1988, when the Karabakh Armenians demanded that Karabakh be transferred from Soviet Azerbaijan to Soviet Armenia.
The conflict escalated into a full-scale war in the early 1990s. A ceasefire signed in 1994 provided for two decades of relative stability...
A four-day escalation in April 2016 became the deadliest ceasefire violation to date. Since then, the possibility of resumed major hostilities has greatly increased. 2020: Armenian–Azerbaijani skirmishes began on 12 July 2020 between the Armenian Armed Forces and Azerbaijani Armed Forces. Initial clashes occurred near Movses in Tavush Province of Armenia, and Ağdam in Tovuz District of Azerbaijan at the Armenian–Azerbaijani state border.
Turkey has declared military assistance to Azerbaijan amid the country’s border clashes with Armenia, in the second day of talks with Azeri defense officials in the capital Ankara on July 17.
“Our armed unmanned aerial vehicles, ammunition and missiles with our experience, technology and capabilities are at Azerbaijan’s service,” said İsmail Demir, the head of Presidency of Defense Industries, an affiliate of the Turkish Presidency in a statement.
“We need to show the world that the two brother countries are in full unity. One nation, two states,” Demir wrote on Twitter.. .
He stressed that Turkey will lend new defense systems to Azerbaijan and will work together with Baku for the modernization, maintenance and repair of the country’s defense systems.
The show of support comes a day after Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar met Ramiz Tahirov in Ankara on July 16.
“Armenia will pay for what they have done and be brought to account,” said Akar after the meeting, showing full support to Azerbaijan.
Russia has said on Friday it is prepared to mediate peace talks between ex-Soviet rivals Azerbaijan and Armenia after fighting escalated along their shared border.
President Vladimir Putin and members of Russia's Security Council expressed "extreme concern" over the flare-up in fighting between the South Caucasus countries that erupted last week, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Turkey's Foreign Ministry on Thursday slammed Armenia's attacks on Azerbaijan and the smear campaign against Turkey.
"This hypocritical attitude of Armenia, which has maintained an illegitimate occupation in the territory of Azerbaijan for many years, clearly and obviously reveals who is the main obstacle to the establishment of permanent peace and stability in the South Caucasus," it said in a statement.
The Foreign Ministry said Armenia's foreign policy based on slander will not be beneficial to anyone.
“This approach is a manifestation of a mentality that creates its identity only from a unilateral understanding of history and tries to justify its unlawful aggression,” it said.
It said this faulty attitude of Armenia that triggers aggressive nationalism is sad, but not surprising.
The ministry added that the Armenian authorities should act wisely and learn as soon as possible to be part of solutions instead of problems in the South Caucasus.
The Syrian government has finished preparations for the parliamentary elections due on Sunday as voters are hoping for a change that could resolve the economic hardships in the country.
Over 7,400 polling centers have been prepared across the country for the elections where 1,658 candidates are running for the 250-seat parliament, according to the state news agency SANA.
It’s worth noting that the Syrian government is now in control of around 70 percent of the Syrian territory with ultra-radical rebels in control of the Idlib Province in northwestern Syria and the U.S.-backed Kurdish militia of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) controls areas in northeastern Syria.
Luqman Ahma, the spokesman of the self-declared Kurdish administration in northern and northeastern Syria, said in a press conference Saturday that there will be no polling centers in areas controlled by the Kurdish groups, adding that the Kurdish administration has nothing to do with the parliamentarian elections.
Meanwhile, the streets in Damascus are filled with posters of the candidates, many of whom are already members of the parliament and ran for the elections four years ago.
The new thing this year is the number of young candidates that haven’t been noticed in the previous elections. Still, the footprint of the ruling al-Baath party is expected to be obvious in this election like in the previous ones as more than half of the candidates are members of the al-Baath party.
People on the streets have been divided between those who don’t believe a new parliament will resolve any crisis and others who hoped the new lawmakers can pass laws to soften the sharpness of the economic crisis in the country.
“I hope the new parliament can pass laws to make our lives better. I still believe they can do something because they are supposed to represent us and voice our worries and crisis,” Rula Youssef, a lawyer, told Xinhua.
For his side, Roushdi Ali, a university economics student, a capable parliament and a new government can find solutions and alternatives to ease the difficulties of the sanctions and economic crisis.
“We have a lot of capabilities in our country and we can achieve self-reliance and overcome the crisis but we need capable people who have a clear agenda about making the country better,” he said.
The Syrian state-run media outlets have made several campaigns urging people to take to the polling centers and cast their ballots under several slogans such as “Your Voice is Your Rights.”
Syria's ruling party wins majority
Syria's ruling Baath party and its allies have won a majority in parliamentary elections held across government-held areas of country... President Bashar al-Assad's party and allied candidates on the "National Progressive Front" list took 177 seats out of 250 in Sunday's polls.
Turnout stood at 33 percent, down from 57 percent in 2016, electoral commission head Samer Zamreeq said.
The National Progressive Front is a political alliance of parties in Syria that supports the anti-imperialist and Arab nationalist orientation of the government and accepts the leading role of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, the largest party in the NPF. (Wikipedia)
Tehran’s UN Mission has denounced a Bloomberg article that has praised the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists and encouraged sabotage in the country’s infrastructure, warning against “barbaric” measures that can spark a full range escalation. Alireza Miryousefi, minister and head of media office of Iran’s Mission to the UN, responded to a Bloomberg opinion column written by Eli Lake titled, “Sabotage in Iran Is Preferable to a Deal With Iran”.
In his response published on the American news outlet, Miryousefi said Lake’s column is “one that against all journalistic standards encourages violence, terror and sabotage, and makes a number of factual errors and assumptions.”
He noted that “praising the illegal assassination of nuclear scientists and encouraging sabotage in Iran’s infrastructures amounts to what are inhumane, barbaric acts that promote violence and terrorism. Such measures do nothing less than keeping tensions high, and could ignite a full range escalation.”
Lake’s article argued that recent incidents in Iran, among them the one at Natanz nuclear facility, showed that there were better ways to frustrate what it called the “nuclear ambitions” of the Islamic Republic.
Iran has not officially declared whether the incident at the Natanz complex was an accident or an act of sabotage... The Bloomberg article further claimed that one of the recent incidents in Iran appeared to have targeted “an underground research facility for chemical weapons.”
Iran’s UN Mission spokesman refuted the claim, saying the country has been “the biggest victim of chemical weapons attacks in contemporary history” conducted by the regime of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein with “the shameful aid of Western countries”.
“Iran has no program or plans to produce chemical weapons, and the claim made in the opinion piece is not just bizarre, but completely fallacious,” he stressed.
Lake, born in Philadelphia to a Jewish family, is a columnist for the Bloomberg View. He is known for his controversial articles about security matters. His critics say his past sources lacked credibility, "used to manipulate the discourse on national security".
Syria's exiled opposition has called parliamentary polls Sunday in government-held areas of the war-torn country a "farce" as millions abroad and in opposition-held territory are not taking part.
President Bashar al-Assad's Baath party and its allies are expected to take most of parliament's 250 seats in the third such polls to be held since the civil war started nine years ago.
"The regime has not known (real) elections since it seized power 50 years ago," said senior opposition figure Nasr al-Hariri, referring to the date Assad's father Hafez al-Assad became president.
"Everything called an election has been a farce under security and military grip... to form a sham parliament for the regime to use to pass legislation to serve the gang in power," he said.
"All that has changed today is that half the Syrian people have been forced to flee," he told AFP.
Sunday's vote comes as most of Syria's political opposition is in exile, and millions of Syrians living abroad after fleeing the violence are ineligible to vote. Endless rounds of U.N.-sponsored peace talks between the government and the opposition in exile have failed to stop the conflict, and have been overtaken in recent years by a parallel negotiations track led by regime ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey.
The General Assembly of the Syrian Opposition Coalition’s (SOC) (also called SNC or Syrian National Coalition) has elected Syrian Nasr al-Hariri (Daraa; 43) as the new president.
Oqab Yahya (Syrian National Democratic Bloc) and Abdel Hakim Bashar (Kurdish National Council) were re-elected for a second term as vice-presidents.
The election of Nasr al-Hariri as the only consensual candidate comes after his opponent, Haytham Rahma, the representative of the Muslim Brotherhood, withdrew hours before the General Assembly session, in light of talks about pressure on him to do so.
On Sunday the General Assembly discussed and reviewed developments, the internal situation and the challenges facing the Syrian revolution (i.e. Regime Change in Syria)...
The opposition Syrian National Coalition was established in 2012 in Qatar, is headquartered in Istanbul and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood is the biggest organization member.
The SNC was recognized in 2012 by several countries as the legitimate representative of Syria. The Syrian National Coalition is dedicated to ensuring absolute national sovereignty and independence for Syria, overthrowing the regime, dismantling the security forces, and holding responsible parties accountable for crimes against the Syrian people, not engaging in any dialogue or negotiations with the regime...
The Assyrian Democratic Organization which has its headquarters in Zalin (Qamishli) is a member of the Syrian National Coalition.
Naser al-Hariri (Daraa, 23-8-1977) is a former member of the People's Council of Syria from Daraa. He is a cousin of former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri.
On 4 July 2013, Naser al-Hariri joined the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as a representative from the Hauran region of southern Syria. By 2015, he became a secretary-general in the coalition based in Istanbul, Turkey.
In January 2017, he was one of the members of the Syrian opposition delegation that attended the peace talks in Astana. In February 2017 he was appointed as the head of the High Negotiation Committee (his term ended in May 2020).
The HNC has faced criticism from Russia because it includes groups like Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam. The Kurdish National Council withdrew from the HNC on 29 March 2017 in protest to the latter's opposition to federalism and human rights for Kurds in Syria.
At the start of the revolution, we demanded reforms. Then we demanded the fall of the regime. Then, foreign forces were brought in, which now seem more like an occupation force. Iran today has 85,000 to 100,000 fighters. Russia today has air coverage and boots on the ground. There are many other countries that have raised several different flags all around Syria. A comprehensive political solution must include a requirement to remove these foreign forces, primarily Iran, because Iran is a country with a plan...
Limiting Iran’s influence has not been achieved. On the contrary, today, as we see, Iran is in more control over the Syria state, as well as Syrian, security, and military decisions. It strives to stretch its cancerous tentacles into other regions. Stability in Syria has not happened. The political solution in Syria has not happened. If the United States sets its priorities and has the will to deal with the phenomenon of global terrorism, and to deal with the horrible Iranian influences within and outside the region, then it must have a presence.
Nasr al-Hariri expressed solidarity with the Iranian Resistance on June 29, 2016.
In an interview with Simay-e Azadi (Iran opposition satellite television, INTV) he said: “The regime of Velayat-e faqih (absolute clerical rule) has paid billions of dollars to the Bashar al-Assad regime over six years... In my opinion, today the coordination between the Syrian Resistance and the Iranian Resistance is necessary in order to put an end to these criminal acts of the Velayat-e faqih regime.(Saddam's Death, Page 86)
On Monday, Interior Minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA) Fathi Bashagha held a meeting with Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Affairs Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah at the headquarters of the Turkish Ministry of Defense, in Ankara.
During the talks, they discussed a number of regional and international issues of common interest. This is in addition to enhancing bilateral relations between the Libyan and Qatari people. The Qatari Minister appreciated the victories achieved by the GNA’s forces during their battles against the Libyan National Army (LNA).
He noted that Qatar will always provide the GNA with the necessary support until it gains full control over Libya
flashback 2010: gadaffi, a true friend - 2011|2012: gadaffi, the greatest monster on earth
The 'parliament' in Tripoli rejected Tuesday the decision of the Egyptian Parliament to mandate President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to send armed forces to western borders for combat missions, saying it was a direct threat of force against Libya.
Deputy Speaker Jalal Shuwaihdi said in a televised statement that Egyptian Parliament's call for military intervention in Libya isn't directed at national security as Libya doesn't pose threats to Cairo...
"The decision of the Egyptian Parliament is a direct threat of military force against Libya and its national security, in violation of international law.", the statement reads, adding that the Egyptian Parliament's decision was based on an illegitimate request by some individuals who claimed to represent Libyan tribes.
Jalal Shuwaihdi called on the international community to take up its responsibility and issue a public condemnation of Egypt's intended military intervention in Libya.
The Egyptian Parliament approved Monday sending armed forces on combat missions abroad, especially on the western borders...
Libya's House of Representatives and
The Tripoli based Muslim Brotherhood 'parliament'
In 2014 elections to a new House of Representatives were held. The House of Representatives [HOR] (at the moment based in Tobruk) officially became a legislative body on 4 August 2014, following an election on 25 June 2014, replacing the General National Congres From August 2014, GNC is no longer internationally recognized as the legitimate parliament of Libya.
However, politicians from the blocs that lost the elections continued to convene as the General National Congress, claiming that the GNC is the legitimate parliament of Libya. The GNC is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood's Libyan party, the Justice and Construction Party.
Former GNC members met on 25 August 2014 and declared a National Salvation Government with an alternative parliament: The Islamist-led 'Tripoli Parliament'.
Under the terms of the Libyan Political Agreement which was signed on 17 December 2015, a High Council of State (an advisory body) was formed. The High Council of state is able to advise the interim Government of National Accord (GNA) and the House of Representatives (HoR), currently based in Tobruk. The members of the council were nominated by members of the General National Congress.
Chairman of the High Council is Khalid al-Mishri (a Libyan of Turkish origin). He is a member of the Justice and Construction Party, an organisation affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood..
A bill outlawing controversial “gay conversion therapy” passed a preliminary vote in the Knesset on Wednesday, drawing cheers from LGBT rights advocates and angering Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox political allies.
The bill advanced after Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s party supported the legislation, in a move that generated a fresh coalition crisis. The Labor party also broke with the coalition to back the bill.
The opposition-spearheaded motion passed with 42 lawmakers supporting it and 36 objecting.
Gay conversion therapies (based on the assumption that homosexuality is a mental illness), have been strongly criticized by major health organizations.
Though discouraged by the Health Ministry, the practice remains legal in Israel, and is still accepted in some conservative and Orthodox circles. The proposed legislation only bars psychotherapists from performing conversion therapy and doesn’t forbid rabbis from continuing to perform it.
The bill still has to pass three readings and be approved by a Knesset committee before it becomes law.
After the vote results were announced ultra-Orthodox lawmakers were visibly furious.
They shouted at Gantz, “You will not be prime minister,” an apparent threat to topple the government before the defense minister is set to replace Netanyahu as premier in November 2021.
Before the vote, Gantz told his party members via WhatsApp to support the bill" "This is a top-priority moral issue and it’s the right thing to do.”
In a statement, United Torah Judaism said it would no longer cooperate with Benny Gantz. Fellow ultra-Orthodox party Shas decided to boycott all other plenum votes and called on Likud to “come to its senses.”
"And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul..." (1 Samuel 18:1-4)
"And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul." (1 Samuel 20:17)
"O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places. I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: they love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women". (2 Samuel 1:25-26)
Netflix has cancelled production of a TV show after the Turkish government refused to grant a filming licence over the presence of an LGBT character in the script.
Although there were no actual scenes of same-sex intimacy, the row with the government led Netflix executives to decide to cancel the production rather than write out the gay character...
A Netflix spokesperson said that the US company remained "committed to our Turkish members and the creative community in Turkey". Mahir Unal, a spokesman for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development party (AKP), said on Sunday that the government had raised issues with some Netflix scripts. "Do we have to bless everything Netflix makes, find it proper and sanctify it? Is there no subject where we have a right to raise reservations?”
The Netflix row is just the latest chapter in a months-long dispute in Turkey over the question of LGBT rights.. Ali Erbas, head of Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs, declared in one of his sermons that homosexuality "brings illnesses and corrupts generations".
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended Erbas, claiming criticism of him was a “deliberate attack against Islam”. Although homosexuality has never been illegal in Turkey, it is not widely accepted
Polling released by Pew Research in June show that 25 percent of people in Turkey said homosexuality should be accepted by society, while 57 percent said it should not.
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