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
“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)
"The post-September 11 era in the US has heralded in a new age of ideology whose discourse and world views have served not only to accommodate such extremist views as those held by Sharon, but also to provide him with a platform and an influence that were unthinkable only a year ago.
Thus while the American President is busy devising a new Manichean universe of absolute good and absolute evil, pronouncing policy on the basis of a simplistic polarization of the world, and unilaterally defining the terms while categorizing state and non-state actors accordingly, Sharon’s Israel has maneuvered itself into a position of even greater power on the world stage provided explicitly by the US."
"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)
Unlike most of my interviews, this one is not directly about current political concerns. It rather explores ‘peace’ in its manifold identity. The interview was conducted by Miguel Mendoça a couple of months ago for a book project consisting of such interviews from a variety of persons whose life and work touches on the theme of peace.
The interaction made me realize how little thought I have given to peacefulness as a personal trait and peace as the core of benevolent political arrangements, whether local or planetary and how their interaction may be understood.
Q: What have been some of your most peaceful moments? A: What comes to me most immediately on this particular day as a response are recollections of when I’ve had strong feelings of being in love. I associate love with peacefulness, as well as with turmoil and self-doubt.
These positive feelings of peace are usually in relation to the loved one, and less frequently as experiences of cosmic awe, or of encounters with the wonders of nature, or the beauty of art, and even by way of meditating on an emancipatory collective destiny for the human species...
In this regard, I’ve more and more academically rejected the common polarity of war and peace...
I have written to the effect that for most of the peoples of the world the opposite of war is not peace but justice. Because such a large proportion of humanity lives under some form of oppression, and not only political repression, but more commonly under the stresses of poverty, disease, and ecological deterioration, or through enduring some kind of personal trauma.
In all these instances, what counts for peace is something that will liberate the experience of a person from those feelings of injustice and suffering, and a form of closure, whether by the removal of the cause, its transcendence, or its Stoical acceptance as a condition of life that was my reality. Another type of association with peace is learning to nurture the experience of living in the present, neither yearning for the future, or being overly nostalgic for the past.
Lao Tzu put it well long ago: “If you are depressed you are living in the past, if you are anxious you are living in the future, if you are at peace, you are living in the present.”
Q: What does peace feel like? A: Peace is the feeling of being in love, without specifying the object of that love. It could be a person, or nature, or the cosmos, or it could be myself I suppose. Or any kind of live or inanimate object. It could be an animal, a work of art, a piece of music. The potential of love is as limitless as the universe itself.
And I think that’s the deepest meaning for me, of what peace, or an experiential immersion in peace, signifies. And it has a stronger resonance for me than, for instance, a formal meditation experience. Or being in a sacred place..
Q: How do you pursue peace in your personal and professional relationships? A: I don’t self-consciously pursue peace in my relationships, whether professional or personal. It would be more in keeping with my temperament I suppose, to say that I seek harmony, or mutual respect and social compatibility...
I tried my best to convey to students the understanding that learning should be fun and should not be hierarchically organized even in formal educational contexts, but that learning should always be experienced horizontally rather than vertically.
A good teacher also learns from the student, and this should be acknowledged, and even discussed. I’m more comfortable thinking of teaching and learning along these lines..
If you closely watch mainstream media’s treatment of policy debates, you will notice that networks in the West rely almost exclusively on military/ist experts, either retired intelligence officials or generals, or sometimes diplomats and think tank professionals.
Persons who are self-consciously peace-oriented are almost never invited to present their views to the general public... You will, therefore, almost never find a Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, or Naomi Klein invited to comment on controversial foreign policy issues by a mainstream media outlet.
Q: How do you contribute to world peace? A: I can claim a number of contributions, but all have an uncertain and often frustrating character on the unfolding of world history. Put in perspective, my ‘contributions’ can be most accurately seen as well-intentioned failures rather than policy successes.
I’ve worked over the years to oppose the militarist premises of American foreign policy, both as an intellectual and activist/advocate.
This started for me with the Vietnam War in the mid-60s, lasting until the mid-70s, and persisted as a central concern long after Vietnam. I continued opposing military interventions around the world, especially by the United States. For some years I concentrated all my efforts on opposing external intervention by the U.S., pushed by Israel and later Saudi Arabia, to reverse the 1979 outcome of the Iran revolution.
I testified before congressional committees and in many other public events, to explain the grounds of my opposition to militarist approaches to the foreign policy being pursued by my own country, the US., seeking governmental support for my views, which was rarely forthcoming.
I tried to identify the elements of what might not qualify as perfect peace but produced conditions that seemed capable of producing a more peaceful, less militarized world. And I published work in this spirit, including two books in the 1970s, one called A Study of Future Worlds, and the other called This Endangered Planet: Prospects and Proposals for Human Survival....
I’ve been quite active in anti-apartheid political engagements, especially with respect to South Africa and Israel..
Q: What is the relationship between peace and love? A: As I indicated at the beginning of our conversation, my first response was that real peace is indistinguishable from real love.
You can’t have real love without real peace, although the terrain of love can induce turmoil if the love is not shared or is somehow resisted, or a misunderstanding of reality arouses feelings of distrust and jealousy. When you have real love, you almost necessarily have real peace. And so, to some extent, there is a twinning, so to speak, of peace and love, that needs to be understood unsentimentally.
It’s not a matter of a kind of sentimental or highly romanticized sense of love, but a deep affirmation of otherness and selfhood that implies a willingness or even a desire to share that reality with others, and in some fuller sense to share it with all others, including building organic mutual connections with nonhuman others, with nature and the cosmos. I’m thinking of inspirational mystics, where monks or poets, are the great teachers of love, and for this reason the great teachers of peace. I think that most political leaders of today are the products of the denial of love and peace, as far as I can tell.
They will use the language of peace, even love, instrumentally when it serves their purposes, but I would contend that they lack compassion, even empathy... And without compassion you cannot have genuine love or peace.
Wikipedia info: Richard Anderson Falk (born November 13, 1930) is an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on "the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967."
Syria, whose economy went through a tough year in 2020 due to continued war, U.S. sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic, braces for a worse year ahead as there's little hope that the economic conditions will get better soon. It is true that the security situation in Syria has improved in 2020, but its economic situation has taken a free fall.
In addition to the civil war, U.S. sanctions and the pandemic, the deteriorating situation in neighboring Lebanon, hit by both the August explosions in Beirut Port and the coronavirus, also made things worse for Syria.
Lebanon's economy worsened due to the two huge blasts in Beirut in early August and the pandemic, which forced the Lebanese banks to impose tight controls on money withdrawals and transfers abroad.
This severely impacted the Syrian economy, as most Syrian merchants have had bank accounts in Lebanon. When the Lebanese banks began imposing accounts freeze, the economic situation in Syria quickly deteriorated.
In November, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that Lebanon's freezing billions of U.S. dollars in deposits held by Syrian businessmen was the main cause behind Syria's deepening economic crisis.
Assad estimated that Syrians hold between 20 to 42 billion U.S. dollars in Lebanon's banks. "This figure for an economy like Syria is terrifying," the Syrian leader said.
In March, the first COVID-19 case was reported in Syria, followed by a partial lockdown that affected the already sluggish businesses in the country.
To make things worse, the U.S. imposed several rounds of economic sanctions on Syria in 2020, under the so-called Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, which was signed into law by U.S. President Donald Trump in December 2019 and came into force on June 17, 2020.
A number of Syrian-operated industries, including those related to infrastructure, military maintenance, and energy production, are targeted. The bill also targets individuals and businesses who provide funding or assistance to the Syrian government.
Earlier in December, the U.S. slapped a new round of sanctions on Syria, targeting the Syrian Central Bank and blacklisting several people and entities to further suffocate the Syrian government.
With these crises unfolding, the Syrian pound continued to depreciate while the prices of all items skyrocketed. On top of that, an acute fuel shortage hit Syria, in addition to a rise in bread prices caused by a hike in the price of imported wheat. Economic experts believe that 2020 was the worst year economically for Syria during the decade-long civil war.
assad demonised by the west & the muslim brotherhood
The “linkage” between the Arab Spring and the normalisation of relations between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco and likely more countries to come, was one of main themes of a conference dedicated to the decade by BESA, the right-wing-orientated Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.
“The Arab Spring is the death certificate of Arab nationalism as we knew it in the Levant, and the rise of more dictatorship-like regimes,” Ehud Yaari, Israeli political commentator and analyst, told Middle East Eye.
“The collapse of central capitals like Cairo and Damascus spurred Arab peripheral countries to re-arrange the arena. The capital moved to the UAE, a more modern one, despite its modest size. This is a given of historical dimension not bound to change in the visible future. A whole new nation ball game in the Middle East.”
Wikipedia: The Israel–United Arab Emirates normalization agreement, officially the Abraham Accords Peace Agreement: Treaty of Peace, Diplomatic Relations and Full Normalization Between the United Arab Emirates and the State of Israel, was initially agreed to in a joint statement by the United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on August 13, 2020.
Menachem Klein, political scientist and adviser to Israeli negotiation teams in 2000 and 2003, believes that all normalisation agreements come as a result of the Arab Spring and the “dissolution” of the Arab League.
Once, the Arab League united states against Israel. When governments began attacking their people in 2011, those countries began turning on one another.
In this new constellation, Israel has become another factor in the fine fabric of alliances and rivalries in the Arab world.
Though Yaari and Klein both agree that the Arab Spring and normalisation deals have impacted the Palestinian cause, they do not reach the same conclusion as to how.
“I believe that the normalisation that stemmed from the Arab Spring will impose more restraint on any Israeli government, be it even ultra-right wing. No more annexation, no more Israeli construction plans in the controversial E1 area. Israel has too much to lose,” said Yaari...
Klein does not agree with that conclusion. The most dangerous repercussion of the decade that changed the Middle East is, according to him, the Palestinian issue.
“Since Palestinian nationalism ceased to be an all-Arab issue, and now the Palestinians have been abandoned by Arab countries and in the reality subject to de-facto annexation, it has in fact become an Israeli internal domestic issue,” Klein said. Klein knows of an Israeli military plan to deal with [possible] explosions...
According to this plan carefully crafted over a few years, Israel will take over control of the West Bank and divide it into segments like “greater Nablus”, “greater Jenin”, and so on.
Each divided region will be under the control of a military governor. The Israeli military’s central command, Klein tells MEE, has already practiced the plan. It is more than about controlling riots: this is the plan to dismantle one ruling authority - the Palestinian Authority - and thus smash the political entity of Palestinian nationality.
[Israeli] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday that he hopes Arab Israelis will cast a ballot for him.
“Just as I broke the Palestinian veto on relations with the Arab states, so I am breaking the Arab parties’ veto with the Arab citizens of Israel,” he told the Likud party secretariat, according Hebrew media reports. He was referring to the four normalization deals Israel has announced with Arab countries in recent months.
“I believe in [Zionist leader Ze’ev] Jabotinsky’s doctrine that all rights need to be given to every citizen in the State of Israel. We’re reaching out to Arab voters — vote for us.
Hoping to break the traditional paradigm in elections that has led to gridlock and paralysis after three consecutive elections, Netanyahu told Channel 13 on Friday that the Arab vote had “huge potential.”
“For many, many years the Arab public was outside the mainstream of leadership. Why?” he said. “There’s no reason. People contribute, people work. Let’s go all the way. Be part of the full success story of Israel. That’s what I would like to be exemplified in the election.”
The new messaging marks a shift in tone by Netanyahu, whose Likud has campaigned in the past on unfounded claims of electoral fraud in Arab communities.
He has repeatedly demonized Arab lawmakers in the Knesset and gained global notoriety for attempting to spur his supporters to go vote by warning them on election day 2015 that “Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves.”
A number of Netanyahu’s political rivals hit out at the prime minister following the leaks of his comments to the Likud secretariat. Joint List leader Ayman Odeh accused Netanyahu of insulting Arab voters’ intelligence.
“We already knew that Netanyahu doesn’t believe we’re equal, but his new effort to garner votes also proves that he disparages the intelligence of Arab society. A decade of indifference to crime, inciting violence, fanning hate won’t be erased in an election campaign,” Odeh tweeted.
Taking the opposite tack to his party leader, Joint List MK and Ra’am faction leader Mansour Abbas — whom Netanyahu appears to have formed a quiet alliance with in recent months — welcomed the “change in perception” toward Arab Israeli voters...
In a series of well-timed leaks, Likud’s campaign headquarters insisted that their internal polling showed there was a potential for two Knesset seats of votes for Likud in the Arab sector and that Netanyahu intends to promise Israeli Arabs that they have a key role to play in the new wave of “normalization” between Israel and Arab states.
No one really believes that droves of Arab voters are now going to vote for Likud, or as Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi said on Sunday, “Netanyahu can wear a galabiya and call himself Abu Yair, from now until the election. Whoever believes him, deserves him.”
Benny Gantz: "No Arabs in my future cabinet". "I'm for annexation and the application of Israeli law to the West Bank settlements" YNet News, 16-2-2020
In the last election in 2020, despite unprecedented turnout of nearly 65 percent of the Arab sector, Likud won only a paltry 1.6 percent of that, less than 10,000 votes.
Even if Likud doesn’t gain more Arab votes, the party can still benefit from reducing the hostility between Israeli Arabs and Netanyahu. The hope that they could play a central role in toppling him was certainly one of the main factors motivating Arab turnout in the past three elections.
That failed when the opposition, led by Benny Gantz, did not take advantage of the majority it had, together with Joint List, to form a new government...
Benny Gantz and his colleagues had two opportunities to try to build a coalition with the support of the Joint List following the last two elections – if they had wanted to seriously pursue the option.
Now Netanyahu is stealing from them the banner of “coexistence” with Israel’s Arab minority. It doesn’t matter that this is a totally instrumental ploy, borne of Netanyahu’s struggle for political survival...
This is just the latest stage in a strategic move to divide the Joint List...
Past elections show that Arab Israelis are less inclined to vote if their various parties run separately. That’s a clear incentive for Netanyahu to try to exploit the resentments brewing between the parties and disjoint the Joint List...
Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Hafez underscored Egypt’s determination to support “sincere efforts to preserve the unity of Arab ranks and to reach a reconciliation that will reinvigorate the Arab house...”.
Hafez also stressed the need for “good faith in order to achieve a genuine reconciliation that revives the special qualities of Arab relations, stimulates solidarity and the preservation of joint interests, enshrines the commitment to non-intervention in the domestic affairs of others, combats threats to the security and stability of Arab nations and peoples, and safeguards Arab national security.”
In a press conference after the summit, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan was asked whether diplomatic relations with Qatar would resume. “Yes,” he responded. “What we agreed on was to let bygones be bygones and to restore full diplomatic relations among the [GCC] members with Egypt’s participation.”
Prince Bin Salman, in his keynote address, spoke of the threat that the Iranian nuclear and missile programme poses to Gulf security and the detrimental impact of the close relationship between Tehran and Qatar on the Yemeni crisis.
“We are today in need of unity to counter the threats against our region represented in the Iranian regime’s nuclear programme, its ballistic missiles, and agenda of sabotage adopted by its sectarian proxies,” said Bin Salman. His words suggest that Riyadh expects a shift in Doha’s position towards Iran in the framework of the reconciliation.
Qatari incitement against Quartet members and its position on the Muslim Brotherhood are also core issues.
Saudi Arabia has recently joined Egypt in banning the Muslim Brotherhood, whereas Qatar continues to fund Muslim Brotherhood media outlets in Turkey and shelter Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Doha, some of them wanted on terrorist-related charges in Egypt and in other Quartet states.
Cairo, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain listed 59 individuals and 12 entities, on Thursday June 8, 2017, linked to Qatar on a terrorist list.
In an official joint statement, the four countries reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening all efforts to combat terrorism and to establish security and stability in the region by all means possible at the regional and international levels.
It stressed that these countries will not tolerate the subversive pursuits of some individuals and groups, and any person or country that aids and abets them. The list includes five Libyans who played an escalating role in the division of Libya under Qatari support, since the beginning of the Libyan Civil War that toppled long-time Libyan, leader Muammar Gaddafi: Ali al-Salabi [Qatari Muslim Brotherhood leader, close associate of Qaradawi], Ismail al-Salabi, Belhadj, Mahdi al-Harati and Sadiq Abdul Rahman Ali Ghariani
Ghariana is called Libya's "Mufti of Terrorism," due to his issuance of fatwas inciting fighting and bloodshed in Libya. Al-Qaeda, on several occasions, valued his positions about events in Libya.
He is pursued by the Libyan parliament which held him responsible for the bloodshed in eastern Libya, and the parliament called the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in which Sadiq Abdul Rahman Ali Ghariani was involved in.
Al Ghariani became more prominent after the 2011 Libyan Revolution and, subsequent, civil war due to his widely supported fatwas against Muammar Gaddafi and public opposition to Gaddafi's rule on Al Jazeera. During the Libyan Civil War of 2011, he declared a "jihad" against Muammar Gadhaffi during a televised address. Ghariani was later appointed as the Grand Mufti of Libya in February 2012 by the National Transitional Council.
[Israeli] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised US President Donald Trump’s administration for its Middle East policies on Thursday, as the American leader faced widespread criticism at home after hundreds of his supporters stormed the Capitol building the day before.
“I want to thank President Trump and all of you in the administration for all you have done and are doing for peace. You’ve made a real difference, achieving one breakthrough after another, bringing the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan into the circle of peace. I have no doubt that more Arab and Muslim countries will follow,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister made his remarks alongside US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who stopped in Israel on Wednesday and Thursday following a visit to Sudan, where officials agreed to advance their efforts to normalize ties with Israel... Netanyahu repeated his opposition to the United States rejoining the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as US President-elect Joe Biden has indicated he plans to do if Iran returns to compliance with the accord.
Trump withdrew the US from the agreement in 2018 — at the urging of Netanyahu — reimposing economic sanctions on Iran...
Netanyahu, a staunch and vocal opponent of the JCPOA, warned that returning to the agreement would prompt further nuclear proliferation in the region.
“If we just go back to the JCPOA, what will happen and may already be happening is that many other countries in the Middle East will rush to arm themselves with nuclear weapons. That is a nightmare and that is folly. It should not happen,” Netanyahu said.
The premier thanked Mnuchin for his role in the imposition of economic sanctions on Iran and called for the strategy — known as “maximum pressure” — to continue.
“I also want to commend the maximum pressure campaign on Iran. Under your leadership, the US Treasury has played a crucial role in applying and enforcing sanctions on the Iranian regime,” Netanyahu said.
Israel News | 'I Was Wrong to Join Netanyahu':
Gantz calls for broad anti-Netanyahu coalition Haaretz, 11-1-2021
Defense minister Benny Gantz called on leaders of center-left parties to unite ahead of Israel's March 23 election in order to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – his coalition partner over the past year.
Gantz, addressing the press in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, once again cited the coronavirus crisis as the reason for going into a unity government with Netanyahu, saying: "I shook the hand of the man I vowed to replace... because Israel is at war and I'm its soldier, first and foremost. I was wrong... He cheated me and cheated you."
"I am calling on everyone to unite," he said, naming all major party leaders who spoke out against Netanyahu, apart from Likud renegade Gideon Sa'ar, Yamina's Naftali Bennett and Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List of predominantly Arab parties. "Let's unite and send Bibi home."
"You're going, Bibi, you're going to court," Gantz said, promising to block any attempt for the Likud leader to seek immunity from prosecution in his corruption trial.
Responses from Gantz's potential allies were quick to come, with Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman tweeting: "Gantz, we already had a chance to replace Bibi but you chose to be a reserve prime minister. The only thing you can do now for the country is to announce that you are not running for the next Knesset." Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid, which was formerly part of the Kahol Lavan alliance, seemed to leave the door open, however, tweeting that "every effort will be made to build connections for a sane and liberal government that will change the country."
Eric H. Yoffie served as President of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the congregational arm of the Reform Jewish Movement in North America that represents 1.5 million Reform Jews in 900 synagogues across the United States and Canada, from 1996 to 2012.
The March election in Israel will be the fourth in two years. In the first three, Benjamin Netanyahu did not win a single convincing victory, but he has remained prime minister nonetheless. He has now been in office for more than 11 consecutive years. Most American Jews have little use for Bibi, but they are also skeptical that any challenger can oust him.
Furthermore, the political opposition that is emerging — Saar, Bennett, Huldai, Lapid, Shelah, Nissenkorn, Elkin — is made up of either unknowns or long-time wannabees, and it is not easy to see a future premier among them.
Consider the following two reasons for American Jewish concern.
First: The strongest challenger to Netanyahu is Gideon Sa'ar, who has left Likud to form a new party, "New Hope." On issues of settlements and the Palestinians, Sa'ar could be worse—and potentially much worse—than Bibi.
Sa'ar, a former Knesset member and Likud leader, is a smart, quietly charismatic, professional politician. He has strong support on the Israeli right, including in Likud circles, and is also polling well on the center-left, largely because his chances of beating Bibi are good....
The problem is that he is an ideological right-winger on all matters related to settlements. Sa'ar actually believes in a Jewish state from the Jordan to the sea, and would likely be more supportive than Bibi has ever been of the right wing’s vision of a single state in Eretz Israel.
Sa'ar’s one-state credentials are disturbingly comprehensive. He began his political career as an activist for the pro-settler Tehiya party. He has warned American Jews against a two-state solution and has spoken openly of his intention to annex territory.
His political platform rejects withdrawals of any kind, and the number two on his party list is Zeev Elkin, an unbending settler and Land of Israel extremist who was chairman of the Likud bureau, which is the Likud’s ideological body.
Second: Whatever the election results, the most likely scenario is that Haredi political strength will increase, perhaps significantly.
If Bibi manages to be tasked wih forming a government, he will give the ultra-Orthodox parties whatever they ask, no matter the price. But if Saar forms the government, he almost certainly will do the same. It is possible that a government could be formed without the Haredim, but it is not likely, and Sa'ar, like Bibi, appears intent on including them.
Sa'ar was once seen as demonstratively secular and was a prominent presence in the Tel Aviv singles scene. Today, he is usually defined as "newly Orthodox" or "traditionally oriented." Both Sa'ar and Elkin appear committed to developing close political ties with the ultra-Orthodox parties; and these ties will likely translate into massive giveaways on every issue of consequence to the aging, corrupt, barely-Zionist Haredi establishment.
There are about one million Haredim, who constitute 11-12 percent of the Israeli population. Haredim receive enormous sums of money for a separatist ultra-Orthodox school system. Their young people overwhelming avoid military service and national service, creating a national security burden that others must bear. Their rate of male employment is a fraction of what it is in the general Israeli population..
And they insist on laws that govern and restrict Jewish marriage, conversion and what's open and operates on Shabbat, leading to anger and resentment among all other Jews in Israel.
US President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Bill Burns, who played a leading role in negotiating the Iran nuclear deal, as the director of the CIA.
Burns - who has held various posts, including deputy secretary of state, in his 33 years in the US foreign service - is an outspoken proponent of diplomacy.
"Bill Burns is an exemplary diplomat with decades of experience on the world stage keeping our people and our country safe and secure," Biden said in a statement announcing Burns' nomination on Monday.
It is an unusual choice to pick a diplomat, not a spy, to lead the intelligence agency. But Burns comes without the baggage of previous CIA controversies, including the use of torture in the years after the 9/11 attacks. Biden said Burns shares his "profound belief that intelligence must be apolitical".
"During his 33 years as a career diplomat, Bill dealt first-hand with many of the thorniest global challenges we face - from great power competition to nuclear proliferation," Biden said in a video posted on Twitter later on Monday.
"He approached those complex issues with honesty, integrity and skill. That's exactly how he'll head the CIA."
Burns retired from government service late in 2014, months before the Iran nuclear deal was finalised. But he played an instrumental role in negotiating the agreement.
In 2013, Burns and Jake Sullivan - who was appointed as Biden's national security adviser in November - led secret talks with Iranian officials in Oman, which laid the foundation for the nuclear agreement.
He also helped negotiate the draft of a 2013 interim deal that preceded and inspired the final pact, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The pact saw Iran scale back its nuclear programme in exchange for lifting sanctions against its economy.
President Donald Trump nixed the deal in 2018...
Late in 2019, Bill Burns wrote a lengthy column for the Atlantic magazine, calling for a new diplomatic path in the Middle East where Washington world "recalibrate" its relationships with the region.
He slammed Trump's proposal for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which would allow Israel to retain all of its West Bank settlements. Trump's "talk of a 'deal of the century' to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict camouflaged a methodical tilt toward the Israeli right, all but obliterating any vestigial hope of a two-state solution," Burns wrote. "Never has American diplomacy given away so many negotiating cards so fast for so little."
On Wednesday, Joe Biden announced that he will nominate Samantha Power to head the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
Power served as ambassador to the UN for President Obama from 2013 to 2017. Before that, she worked on Obama’s National Security Council, where she played an instrumental role in pushing for US intervention in Libya in 2011.
Power argued in favor of US intervention in Libya under the guise of protecting human rights and preventing genocide. She was joined in her crusade by then-Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Susan Rice, who served as the UN ambassador at the time.
Reports from 2011 say the pressure from Power, Rice, and Clinton is what led Obama to intervene militarily in Libya, even though his other top advisors were against it. Then-Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates would later say that in a “51 to 49” decision, Obama decided to bomb Libya.
The US-NATO intervention in Libya that led to the brutal murder of former Libyan ruler Moammar Gaddafi was an absolute disaster. Destabilizing Libya turned the country into a haven for al-Qaeda-linked militants, resulted in targeted killings of black Africans, sparked a refugee crisis in North Africa, and even led to the creation of slave markets. For her efforts in convincing Obama to destroy Libya, Power was promoted. As the US ambassador to the UN, Power advocated for US intervention in Syria and stood by as the Obama administration backed the Saudis in their war against Yemen’s Houthis.
In her memoir that was published in 2019 Power defended her decision to intervene in Libya and argued that more intervention in Syria could have prevented some of the war’s atrocities.
Initially skeptical of intervention in Libya’s civil war, the President reportedly bowed to pressure from a triumvirate of women in his administration: Hillary Clinton, National Security Council director of “multilateral affairs” Samantha Power, and UN ambassador Susan Rice.
Yet the President imposed some conditions, according to the New York Times: “The president had a caveat, though. The American involvement in military action in Libya should be limited — no ground troops — and finite. ‘Days, not weeks,’ a senior White House official recalled him saying.”
Years, not weeks, is more like it – that’s how fast we’re sliding down the slippery slope into a full-bore campaign of “regime change” in Libya. And that will be just fine with the three Vengeful Valkyries of the US State Department. ...
Obama's Women Advisers Pushed War Against Libya
Robert Dreyfuss March 19, 2011
We’d like to think that women in power would somehow be less pro-war, but in the Obama administration at least it appears that the bellicosity is worst among Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Power.
All three are liberal interventionists, and all three seem to believe that when the United States exercises military force it has some profound, moral, life-saving character to it. Far from it. Unless President Obama’s better instincts manage to reign in his warrior women—and happily, there’s a chance of that—the United States could find itself engaged in open war in Libya, and soon. The troika pushed Obama into accepting the demands of neoconservatives, such as Joe Lieberman, John McCain and The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol, along with various other liberal interventionists outside the administration, such as John Kerry.
In 2011 United States Ambassador to the United Nation Susan Rice made clear that the United States and the international community saw only one choice for Gaddafi and his aides: step down from power or face significant consequences.
Together with National Security Council figure Samantha Power, who already supported military intervention, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who came to support it, the three overcame internal opposition from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, security advisor Thomas Donilon, and counterterrorism advisor John Brennan, and the administration backed U.N. action to impose the no-fly zone and authorize other military actions as necessary.
In Norse mythology, a valkyrie is one of a host of female figures who decide which soldiers die in battle and which live.
Bob Dreyfuss, a Nation contributing editor, is an independent investigative journalist who specializes in politics and national security.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani fiercely attacked outgoing US President Donald Trump on Wednesday, declaring that the end of Trump's term marks the end of his political approach.
The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) quoted Rouhani stating: "For the past three years, this terrorist wanted to overthrow the Islamic regime, but in the end, it was him who fell in a shameful and disgraceful way." Rouhani described what is happening in the US as: "Not the end of an administration, but rather the defeat of a political approach, the economic terrorism policy."
He indicated that the US will need many years to return to what it was pre-Trump.
The Iranian leader added: "We have repeatedly said that when the head of the US administration violates the law, the American people will also have their turn, but no one believed us."
In 2018, the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal, which was aimed at preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear arsenal in exchange for economic benefits, while imposing severe sanctions on Tehran to force it to negotiate a new agreement.
The Iranian president affirmed that his country is ready to negotiate with the US on the condition that Joe Biden's administration returns to the 2015 nuclear deal and lifts the sanctions imposed by Trump.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Iran has to effectively see the results of any potential sanctions relief from the United States, not merely a toothless signature, in case Washington decided to return to its obligations under the 2015 nuclear agreement...
It will not do if Mr. Biden suffices to signing” the US’s return to the deal, he said in reference to an expression of willingness on the part of Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, to potentially bring the US back into the JCPOA.
He reminded that not only did Trump’s team restored the sanctions against Iran, but also it imposed new sanctions to complicate the removal of the initial bans.
The foreign minister said Trump took those measures as a means to “destroy” the JCPOA and “deplete it of its [effectual] content.”
The Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, has declared Israel an Apartheid state: B’Tselem declaration::
"A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea:This is apartheid. More than 14 million people,roughly half of them Jews and the other half Palestinians, live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea under a single rule.
The common perceptionin public, political, legal and media discourseis that two separate regimes operateside by side in this area, separated by the Green Line.
One regime, inside the borders of the sovereign State of Israel,is a permanent democracy with a population of about nine million, all Israeli citizens.
The other regime, in the territories Israel took over in 1967, whose final status is supposed to be determined in future negotiations, is a temporary military occupation imposed on some five million Palestinian subjects.
Over time, the distinction between the two regimes has grown divorced from reality. This state of affairs has existed for more than 50 years – twice as long as the State of Israel existed without it.
Hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers now reside in permanent settlements east of the Green Line, living as though they were west of it. East Jerusalem has been officially annexed to Israel’s sovereign territory, and the West Bank has been annexed in practice.
Most importantly, the distinction obfuscates the fact that the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is organized under a single principle:advancing and cementing the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians."
B’Tselem identifies 4 ways in which Israel assures its racial supremacy:
A. Immigration for Jews only. Any Jew from anywhere in the world can immediately immigrate to Israel and gain full citizenship rights. The 6 million Palestinians expelled from their homes and now living in Lebanon, Jordan, and many other countries, are not allowed to return, however.
B. Taking over land for Jews while crowding Palestinians in enclaves.
C. Restriction of Palestinians’ freedom of movement
D. Denial of Palestinians’ right to political participation
They conclude: “A regime that uses laws, practices and organized violence to cement the supremacy of one group over another is an apartheid regime.
Israeli apartheid, which promotes the supremacy of Jews over Palestinians, was not born in one day or of a single speech. It is a process that has gradually grown more institutionalized and explicit, with mechanisms introduced over time in law and practice to promote Jewish supremacy...
B’Tselem says it is taking this step now because Apartheid is actually accelerating and becoming more institutionalized and embedded in law every day...
I explained a couple of years ago:
Apartheid is a Dutch word meaning “apartness” and was used to describe the system of racial segregation deployed by the ruling Afrikaner minority in South Africa 1948-1991.
Article II of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1973) defines it this way:
“The term “the crime of apartheid”, which shall include similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa, shall apply to… inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.”
The respected Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, has now officially reached this conclusion: “[T]he entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is organized under a single principle: advancing and cementing the supremacy of one group—Jews—over another—Palestinians”; “A regime that uses laws, practices and organized violence to cement the supremacy of one group over another is an apartheid regime.”
As a practical-political matter, it is questionable whether denoting Israel an apartheid regime will advance the cause before the broad public. Apartheid in South Africa was extinguished three decades ago. The historical memory of most people is short. True, apartheid is a discrete crime under international law, but Israel has committed so many internationally recognized crimes, such as war crimes and crimes against humanity, that the addition of one more to the bill of indictment won’t make much difference.
It is this writer’s opinion, that the aspect that most manifests its Jewish supremacist character is the worthlessness it attaches to Palestinian life.
As B’Tselem and other major human rights organizations have documented on literally a daily basis, Palestinians are routinely murdered with impunity by private Israeli citizens, civil police, and military personnel. These murders evoke no interest, let alone protest, from the Israeli-Jewish public.
The worthlessness attached to Palestinian life was put vividly on display during the Great March of Return in Gaza.
A UN Commission of Inquiry found that “demonstrators who were hundreds of meters away from the Israeli forces and visibly engaged in civilian activities were intentionally shot. Journalists and health workers who were clearly marked as such were shot, as were children, women, and persons with disabilities”; it also found “reasonable grounds to believe that the Israeli security forces killed and maimed Palestinian demonstrators who did not pose an imminent threat of death or serious injury to others when they were shot.”
Israel’s former Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, declared during the protracted killing spree, “Israeli soldiers did what was necessary. I think all our soldiers deserve a medal.”
With the mainstream media still obsessing about the January 6th “violent coup attempt” at the US Capitol Building, the incoming Biden Administration looks to be chock full of actual purveyors of violent coups. Some of the same politicians and bureaucrats denouncing the ridiculous farce at the Capitol as if it were the equivalent of 9/11 have been involved for decades in planning and executing real coups overseas. In their real coups, many thousands of civilians have died.
Take returning Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, for example. More than anyone else she is the face of the US-led violent coup against a democratically-elected government in Ukraine in 2014. Nuland not only passed out snacks to the coup leaders, she was caught on a phone call actually plotting the coup right down to who would take power once the smoke cleared.
Unlike the fake Capitol “coup,” this was a real overthrow. Unlike the buffalo horn-wearing joke who desecrated the “sacred” Senate chamber, the Ukraine coup had real armed insurrectionists with a real plan to overthrow the government. Eventually, with the help of incoming Assistant Secretary of State Nuland, they succeeded – after thousands of civilians were killed.
(born August 20, 1935) is an American author, physician, and retired politician. A self-described constitutionalist, Paul is a critic of the federal government's fiscal policies, especially the existence of the Federal Reserve and the tax policy, as well as the military–industrial complex, the war on drugs, and the war on terror. (Wikipedia)
OTTAWA, (SANA) – Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization Michel Chossudovsky said that what is happening in Syria is an armed insurrection supported secretly by foreign forces including the United States.
In an article published on the Centre's website, Chossudovsky (professor of economics (emeritus) at the University of Ottawa) said that armed insurgents belonging to Islamist organizations have crossed the border into Syria and that the US State Department has confirmed that it is supporting them.
He pointed out that the U.S is expanding its contact with Syrian opposition figures who are counting on a regime change in the country, noting that U.S. State Department official Victoria Nuland stated that her country "started to expand contacts with the Syrians, those who are calling for change, both inside and outside the country."
Chossudovsky said that the destabilization of Syria and Lebanon as sovereign countries has been on the agenda of the military alliance between the U.S., the NATO and Israel for at least ten years, noting that former NATO Commander General Wesley Clark said that the action against Syria is part of a military roadmap and that the Pentagon had clearly identified Iraq, Libya, Syria and Lebanon as targets of an intervention by the U.S. and NATO...
He went on to explain that objective of the U.S.-NATO-Israeli alliance against Syria isn't supporting democracy, but rather establishing a political regime that is subservient to Washington, and that media misdirection aims at defaming President al-Assad and more broadly destabilizing Syria as a secular state through secret support of extremist Islamist organizations. ...
The US State Department on Friday accused Russia of a “morally bankrupt” policy in Syria, two days after Turkey intercepted a Syrian passenger jet headed from Moscow to Damascus over suspicions it had military equipment on board.
"No responsible country ought to be aiding and abetting the war machine of the Assad regime and particularly those with responsibilities for global peace and security as UN Security Council members have," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters. Nuland said the US had “grave concern” that Russia is continuing to supply Syrian government forces with material that could be used against rebels struggling to topple President Bashar Assad’s regime...
Nuland said the shipment was “legally correct,” but she added “the policy is morally bankrupt.”
Victoria Nuland was named Department Spokesperson in June 2011.
A career Foreign Service Officer, Ambassador Nuland was Principal Deputy National Security Advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney from 2003-2005.
The Kagan Family - Neoconservative & Pro-Israel
Kimberly Kagan (president of the ISW) is married to Frederick Kagan, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
Kagan's brother is foreign policy analyst Robert Kagan, whose wife is Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.
Robert Kagan is at the Brookings Institution and has also been a foreign policy adviser to John McCain, Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton.
Robert Kagan and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, run a remarkable family business: she has sparked a hot war in Ukraine and helped launch Cold War II with Russia – and he steps in to demand that Congress jack up military spending so America can meet these new security threats."
Interview with Vice-President Dick Cheney
NBC News - MEET THE PRESS 16-3-2003
MR. RUSSERT: How close are we to war?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I think we are still in the final stages of diplomacy, obviously. ...
MR. RUSSERT: What could Saddam Hussein do to stop war?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, the difficulty here is it’s—he’s clearly rejected, up till now, all efforts, time after time after time... He’s always had the option of coming clean, of complying with the resolution, of giving up all of his weapons of mass destruction..., and he has consistently refused.
And if he were to sit here today and say, “OK, now I’ll do it,” I’m not sure anybody would think that had credibility.... He has pursued nuclear weapons for over 20 years. Done absolutely everything he could to try to acquire that capability and if he were to cough up whatever he has in that regard now, even if it was complete and total, we have to assume tomorrow he would be right back in business again.
The US media has shown remarkably little interest in the tape of a telephone call between Victoria Nuland, the State Department’s top official on Europe and Eurasia, and the US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, which was posted on YouTube and became the subject of international controversy...
What coverage has been provided has mainly focused on Ms. Nuland’s use of the decidedly undiplomatic phrase “Fuck the EU” in spelling out Washington’s attitude to the role being played by its European partners in the crisis that has gripped Ukraine for nearly three months...
What the tape makes clear is that Washington is employing methods of international gangsterism, including violence, to effect a political coup aimed at installing a regime that is fully subordinate to US geo-strategic interests....
Nuland personifies the continuity of US foreign policy, from the crimes of the Bush administration to the deepening of these crimes under Obama. She served as a chief foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney... Her husband is Robert Kagan, the right-wing foreign policy pundit who served as the founding chairman of the Project for a New American Century, the neo-conservative Washington think tank that played a key role in the political and ideological preparation for the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, it seems that Russia and the United States are finding it difficult to agree on how to deal with their respective ambitions. This clash of interests is highlighted by the Ukrainian crisis. The provocation in this particular instance, as the leaked recording of a US diplomat, Victoria Nuland, saying "Fuck the EU" suggests, came from Washington.
Washington knows that Ukraine has always been a delicate issue for Moscow.... When Gorbachev agreed the deal on German reunification, the cornerstone of which was that united Germany could remain in Nato, US secretary of state Baker assured him that "there would be no extension of Nato's jurisdiction one inch to the east".
Gorbachev repeated: "Any extension of the zone of Nato is unacceptable." Baker's response: "I agree." One reason Gorbachev has publicly supported Putin on the Crimea is that his trust in the west was so cruelly betrayed.
Hillary Clinton’s greatest billionaire backer has been Haim Saban, a dual United States-Israel citizen and hardline supporter of Israel, who has openly commented, “I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel…"
Saban’s foremost purpose is to aid Israel by increasing American support for the Jewish state...
IIn 2002, he founded the Saban Center for Middle East Policy (which in 2014 dropped the name Saban, though maintaining the connection with him) at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.
The most significant war hawk who happens to be, or at least has been, a bona fide neocon in the Brookings Institution is Robert Kagan of the seemingly omnipresent Kagan clan: father Donald, brother Frederick, sister-in-law Kimberly and wife Victoria Nuland, who, as a leading figure in the US State Department, played a major role in fomenting the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
Kagan was the foreign policy advisor to John McCain in 2008. In recent years, however, Kagan, who joined Brookings in 2010, has tried to distance imself from his neocon past... Instead of 100 percent neoconism, he now espouses something that could be described as neocon-lite.
Dr. Stephen Sniegoski is the author of The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel.
Trump was a new phenomenon in the American political system. He had no experience in political science and was not a theorist; But in terms of behavior, he introduced a political practice called "Trumpism" in the international system, which had the following characteristics:
1. Insist on Unilateralism
The United States, led by Donald Trump, sought to maintain American hegemony in the international arena and to establish an order based on unilateralism.
Trump's campaign slogan had the goal of "restoring America's lost greatness," and Trump sought to humiliate other nations and even White House allies to restore American hegemony.
2. International Controversy Trump was thinking that international law and order was a major obstacle to restoring American greatness, and Trump avoided the restrictions imposed by international law on the United States.
Under Trump, the United States easily withdrew from the Paris Agreement.... He left the UNESCO cultural organization, said goodbye to UN human rights commissions, and withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran. He even ignored UN resolutions in the interests of Israel and moved the US embassy to Jerusalem. Trump proposed the Great Deal of the Century, which sought the annexation of the West Bank to Israel, and unilaterally acknowledged that the Golan Heights belonged to Israel.
3. Disruption of World Trade
Trumpism pursued the discrediting of international trade institutions, even the World Trade Organization, and disrupted the idea of a free trade boom by imposing unilateral tariffs.
The Trump administration, in violation of free trade laws, entered into a full-blown economic war with countries such as China and even its European allies.
4- Dealing with the media
Trump, in his opinion, sought to defeat the hegemony of the information giant in the United States. Trump ousted the influential media and, during his four years in power, repeatedly called them fake. Fox News remained the only pro-Trump body, engaging in "Trumpism" without regard for rival media.
Trumpism is a failed thinking. This phenomenon appeared at a time when the world is saying goodbye to unilateralism, and cooperation between countries is gradually replacing the global dictatorship of the great powers.
Trump is gone, Trumpism will be gone, and the international system will move toward countering unilateralism and emphasizing multilateral cooperation.
Although former president Donald Trump claims to have avoided starting any new wars, he in fact put the US on a war footing in the greater Middle East, and significantly increased the number of US troops in the region. He tried to strangle Iran economically and assassinated one of its foremost generals by rocket.
What has either accomplished? He at the same time murdered the equivalent of the head of the Iraqi National Guard, deeply endangering American and coalition troops. As a result of Trump’s crazed careening from bombing to bluster, the Biden team has a lot of diplomacy before it.
Turkey is a problem. Israel-Palestine is the mother of all problems, but I seriously doubt that Biden and incoming secretary of state Antony Blinken are going to take on Israel’s far right wing government in any serious way, and anyway that deserves a book, not part of a blog entry.
Today I will take up issues in Iran and the Arab world.
* 1. Biden needs to restore the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, and he knows it. He may not realize how short the window for action is, however, or how dangerous it would be to make extra demands of Iran at this juncture.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) had mothballed 80% of Iran’s civilian nuclear energy program and ensured that it could not be militarized.
* 2. Under Biden, the U.S. should get its remaining 2,500 troops out of Iraq. The Iraqi parliament voted for them to leave, and the US should abide by the rule of law. Moreover, the US forces will never be safe in Iraq after what Trump did to Iraqi military commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, whom he blew away with Soleimani.
* 3. The US needs to end its involvement in the Saudi-UAE war on Yemen. They have helped turn the country into a basket case with 12 million on the brink of starving. It is shameful for the US to be involved in this genocidal activity. In fact, Washington should pressure all sides to come to the negotiating table.
* 4. For the love of God, get out of Syria and stay out. The US has no legitimate reason to have troops in Syria. Its presence there is illegal in international law. The doctrine under which the Obama administration went in and partnered with the Syrian Kurds to defeat ISIL was self-defense. What are we defending ourselves from in Syria in 2021?
Russia went militarily into Syria, so let it be their problem. It is not important to us, and we should spend the money on the Green New Deal domestically instead.
* 5. Biden should put severe pressure on the government of Abdelfattah al-Sisi in Egypt to stop imprisoning people for thinking and doing journalism and staging small protests. Likewise, pressure should be applied to Saudi Arabia to let its own prisoners of conscience go. The Trump administration gave free rein to the worst actors in the Middle East for four years, abdicating leadership and allowing or running interference for bad behavior.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz blasted the incoming Biden administration, warning that its policies vis-a-vis Iran and the Iran nuclear deal could pose an existential threat to the State of Israel.
Speaking with Israel Hayom in an interview published Wednesday, Cruz lamented that the new administration would likely try to appease Tehran, but vowed that the US would remain committed to Israel's security.
"I think the greatest national security threat to Israel that will be posed by the Biden-Harris administration, will be their attempt to reestablish the disastrous Iran nuclear deal," Cruz said, blasting the Obama administration's transfer of billions of dollars to Tehran under the 2015 nuclear deal.
"The Biden Harris administration will set as their top foreign policy objectives, restoring that failed agreement. The single most important national security victory of the last four years was pulling out that disastrous deal."
Cruz said the new administration was leading US policy into a "dangerous chapter" which would empower the Islamist regime in Tehran. The senator lashed out at what he called the “anti-Semitic far-left in the Democratic party”, citing controversial comments by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
• We must make clear to the world that the U.S.-Israel alliance is once again a strategic bedrock for the United States. Not one penny of American tax dollars should go to an organization that incites hatred against Jews
Upon his arrival in Moscow on Tuesday, [Iranian] Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran is seeking to form a six-party bloc in the Caucasus region that would include Iran, Russia, Turkey, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia.
“We are looking to form a six-party cooperation union in the region and it is the most important goal of this regional trip,” Zarif said.
Zarif went to the Republic of Azerbaijan before Russia and is scheduled to travel to Georgia, Armenia, and Turkey as part of his regional tour.
Talking to reporters at Moscow airport, Zarif said that his travel is intended to upgrade cooperation among the six countries and make coordination on other regional issues as well.
Multilateral cooperation in the region has great importance for Iran, he remarked.
In Moscow, Zarif is to consult with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on various issues including the Karabakh situation, the JCPOA, Syria, Afghanistan, and the situation in the Persian Gulf region. Russia brokered a peace deal between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, ending a deadly 44-day war with Armenia over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh from late September through to November 2020.
The Iranian foreign minister praised Russia for ending the war between the two former Soviet republics.
President Vladimir Putin stated that the palace on the outskirts of the city of Gelendzhik on Russia's Black Sea coast, which Alexey Navalny referred to in hist most recent documentary, did not belong either to him or to any of his close relatives.
Putin noted that the topic of his "palace" has been discussed for more than ten years, and documents related to the property should be saved somewhere - registration of land plots, financial transactions, etc.
"Instead of all this, they posted my photo, my butterfly style swimming in a pool, where I have never been to, nor do I have any knowledge of what kind of a pool it was. But I did swam like that. In the Yenisei River in 2016. This is just compilation, video editing," the president said.
Putin added that he does not know some of the people mentioned in the documentary at all. At the same time, he added, he is friends with other people, some of whom have been working in business for a long time, while Putin himself, in his own words, "had no interest in business."
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny is being used by the West to try to destabilise Russia, Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Security Council, said on Tuesday, saying he must be held to account for repeatedly breaking the law.
Navalny was remanded in custody for 30 days last week after returning from Germany where he had been recovering from a nerve agent poisoning. He could face years in jail for parole violations and other legal cases he calls trumped up.
“He (Navalny), this figure, has repeatedly (and) grossly broken Russian legislation, engaging in fraud concerning large amounts (of money). And as a citizen of Russia he must bear responsibility for his illegal activity in line with the law,” Patrushev told the Argumenty i Fakty media outlet.
“The West needs this figure to destabilise the situation in Russia, for social upheaval, strikes and new Maidans,” Patrushev said, in a reference to the 2014 revolution in Ukraine that ousted a Moscow-backed president.
Wikipedia info: Since 2008, Patrushev has been Secretary of the Security Council of Russia, a consultative body of the President that works out his decisions on national security affairs.
After the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, Patrushev was placed on the European Union's list of sanctioned individuals in Russia. In April 2018, the United States imposed sanctions on him and 23 other Russian nationals. According to Patrushev, the 2014 Ukrainian revolution was started by the United States. In June 2019, Patrushev said that Iran "has always been and remains our ally and partner".
Robert Malley, currently the CEO and president of the Brussels-headquartered International Crisis Group, was mentioned last week in the website The Jewish Insider as a possible candidate for the top Iran job in US President Joe Biden’s administration.
The [Jewish] anti-Israel co-head of the radical left-wing group Code Pink, Ariel Gold, supports the appointment of Robert Malley as the next US special representative to Iran. As does columnist Peter Beinart, who no longer believes in a Jewish state; Iranian nuclear deal cheerleader and echo chamber creator Ben Rhodes; and Sen. Bernie Sanders, Democrat from Vermont.
And all that says something. One of the things it says – according to former Israeli officials who over the years have worked with Malley – is that for Israel, this appointment would not be good news. Malley is different, said one former senior Israeli diplomatic official, because he is a progressive “ideologue”.
This is why the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, like Bernie Sanders, are pushing for his appointment. So far, they have not succeeded in landing any top national security position.
“Rob Malley is an extremely knowledgeable expert with great experience in promoting US security through diplomacy rather than war,” Sanders posted on Facebook. “He would be an excellent choice for the role of Iran envoy.”
Malley’s position on Iran is clear: He is a strong advocate of rapprochement with the Islamic Republic. He was opposed last year to the assassination of Iran’s nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, and was opposed as well to former secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s 12 conditions for lifting sanctions on Tehran.
But that is not the only reason why his name currently elicits low grunts of “oy” in the corridors of power in Jerusalem. He was a negotiator at the Camp David talks in 2000, and afterward was a leading voice saying that Yasser Arafat was not to blame for the breakdown of the talks, but rather that he was merely avoiding falling into a trap...
“He [Malley] is best remembered in Israel as the person who let Arafat off the hook,” said one former senior official. “Malley said that Barak’s offer was not serious, and that Arafat was set up by Barak and Clinton. He let off the hook a man who rejected a genuine peace offer, and then initiated a terrorist war [the Second Intifada] responsible for more than a thousand Israeli deaths.” His piece was the counterpoint to Israel’s “narrative” that it offered peace at Camp David, and got a terrorist war in return.
The Palestinian state offered at Camp David was simply not viable
Maps based on the Israeli oral proposals for a Palestinian state were compiled by Faisal Husseini's office and reproduced in various media last November. They do indeed show that the Palestinian state offered at Camp David was simply not viable: it would be cut into three non-contiguous Bantustans to accommodate the annexation of two large Israeli settlement blocs around Jerusalem and on the western part of the West Bank. The Gaza Strip would continue to be separated from the West Bank.
Moreover, Israel wanted to keep a relatively wide security zone on the eastern side of the West Bank, as well as entrust the security of the future Palestinian state's eastern and western borders to a third party - both for an extended period of time. (Sophie Claudet, Jerusalem Quarterly 13, 2001)
Malley is the polar opposite of Trump’s Special Representative to Iran Elliot Abrams, whose only interest was squeezing the economy and whipping up conflict in the hopes of regime change. Malley, on the other hand, has called U.S. Middle East policy “a litany of failed enterprises” requiring “self-reflection” and is a true believer in diplomacy.
Under the Clinton and Obama administrations, Malley helped organize the 2000 Camp David Summit as Special Assistant to President Clinton; acted as Obama’s White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf region; and was the lead negotiator on the White House staff for the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal. When Obama left office, Malley became president of the International Crisis Group, a group formed in 1995 to prevent wars.
During the Trump years, Malley was a fierce critic of Trump’s Iran policy...
Wikipedia: Robert Malley (born 1963) is an American lawyer, political scientist and specialist in conflict resolution, who was the lead negotiator on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Candidates for Libya’s unified executive authority can be submitted in a one-week period starting Thursday, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) announced Thursday.
“Following the decision of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) to adopt a selection mechanism for a temporary executive authority, through a vote conducted on Jan. 19, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya announced today the commencement of a one-week period for the submission of candidacies for the positions of a three-member Presidency Council and of prime minister, closing on Jan. 28,” the UN mission said in a statement.
After the nomination, the UNSMIL will convene the LPDF in Switzerland for the voting process on Feb. 1-5, the statement said.
During the LPDF held in November in Tunisia’s capital Tunis, 75 Libyans representing the social and political spectrum of the Libyan society discussed a political roadmap to achieve lasting peace in war-torn Libya and agreed to hold general elections in the country on Dec. 24, 2021.
Pope Francis is to meet top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani during the first-ever papal visit to Iraq in March, a senior Catholic cleric told AFP on Thursday. Louis Sako, patriarch of Iraq's Chaldean Catholic Church, said it would be a "private visit" between the two religious figures at Sistani's residence in the shrine city of Najaf, "without formalities."
Sako said he hoped the two figures would sign the document on "human fraternity for world peace," an inter-religious text condemning extremism. Pope Francis signed the document with the leading Sunni cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, in February 2019.
Sako said the pope was hoping for endorsement from an influential Shiite cleric like Sistani.
"He would represent the second major part of Islam signing on to this historic document," the cardinal told AFP.
Pope Francis is set to be in Iraq from March 5 to 8 with an ambitious programme that will take round the country.
In Baghdad, he will hold a mass at the Church of Our Lady of Salvation, where a deadly attack in 2010 left dozens of celebrants dead.
He will also travel north to Mosul and the surrounding Nineveh plains, overrun by the Islamic State group in 2014, and the nearby Kurdish regional capital Arbil.
Following his visit to Sistani, he will travel to the ancient city of Ur, where Abraham is said to have been born.
The Pope will hold an inter-religious prayer service there, to be attended by representatives of Iraq's various faiths -- Shiite and Sunni Muslim, Yazidi and Sabean, Sako said.
Abraham was born and raised in Ur of the Chaldees, which is in modern Iraq, near Nasiriyah in the southeastern part of the country. Joshua 24:2 says that Abraham and his father worshiped idols.
We can make some educated guesses about their religion by looking at the history and religious artifacts from that period.
Ur of the Chaldees was an ancient city that flourished until about 300 BC. The great ziggurat of Ur was built by Ur-Nammu around 2100 BC and was dedicated to Nanna, the moon god.
The moon was worshiped as the power that controlled the heavens and the life cycle on earth. To the Chaldeans, the phases of the moon represented the natural cycle of birth, growth, decay, and death and also set the measurement of their yearly calendar. Among the pantheon of Mesopotamian gods, Nanna was supreme, because he was the source of fertility for crops, herds, and families. Prayers and offerings were offered to the moon to invoke its blessing.
When God (the God of Ezra & Joshua) called Abraham in Genesis 12:1, He told Abraham to leave his country, his kindred, and his father’s house. Everything familiar was to be left behind, and that included his [Moon] religion.
The Ziggurat (or Great Ziggurat) of Ur is a Neo-Sumerian ziggurat in what was the city of Ur near Nasiriyah, in present-day Dhi Qar Province, Iraq.
The structure was built during the Early Bronze Age (21st century BCE) but had crumbled to ruins by the 6th century BCE of the Neo-Babylonian period, when it was restored by King Nabonidus.
Its remains were excavated in the 1920s and 1930s by Sir Leonard Woolley. Under Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, they were encased by a partial reconstruction of the façade and the monumental staircase.
The ziggurat was a piece in a temple complex that served as an administrative center for the city, and which was a shrine of the moon god Nanna, the patron deity of Ur.
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