The ISIS imbroglio lays bare the embarrassing truth of US policy in the Middle East: that it is controlled by Saudi Arabia and Israel, for their own benefits, and not for that of the US.
Obama’s campaign against ISIS is incoherent because it is not controlled by, nor carried out for the interests of, the US.
King Abdullah: Islamic State’ rise could have been prevented
In Syria, the grotto of nativity was decorated with photos of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the security of the homeland. Syria Free Press, 25-12-2013
Who are the major fighting forces in Syria who have for years been holding the line against ISIS?
Answer: the Syrian army, Hezbollah troops from Lebanon, and Iranians, backed by Putin’s Russia.
It has been Assad, Hezbollah, Iran and Russia that have been resisting this “network of death.”
Had it not been for Assad, Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia, the network of death Obama, rightly excoriated from that U.N. podium, might by now be establishing its caliphate, not in Raqqa but Damascus.
New York, SANA – The UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution No. 2178 which calls for stopping the flow of foreign fighters across the borders to all the countries of the world, particularly to Syria and Iraq.
The resolution condemned extremism which creates a suitable atmosphere for terrorism and terrorist acts by the terrorist foreign fighters, calling for disarming all foreign fighters and halting all the terrorist acts or the participation in the armed conflict.
The resolution underlined the necessity of not linking terrorism with any specific religion or nationality, stressing that the states are responsible for preventing the movement of terrorists or the terrorist organizations through adopting effective measures to control the borders and with regard to the identity cards or the travel documents.
The resolution affirmed the importance of the direct implementation of all of its provisions, particularly with regard to the foreign fighters who are linked to so-called the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and to Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist organizations or groups.
Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari said that Syria has been a pioneer in its call for combating terrorism and in fighting it on the ground while others realized its danger very late....
He added that Syria has been combating terrorism which is represented in the ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations and other organizations like the Islamic Front, which regrettably hasn’t been enlisted by the committee of the resolution No. 1267, due to the objection of certain countries who are members of the committee....
He added that the delegation of the Syrian Arab republic believes that the United Nations is the main political forum to coordinate and enhance the international efforts which aim to eliminate the danger of terrorism which threatens the international peace and security, the stability of the countries and the wealth of the nations.
Flashback 2013: Dubious relation with the Islamic Front
Geneva, (SANA delegate) - On the U.S. attempt of bringing the armed factions of 'the Islamic Front' and others to broaden the coalition and make them join the negotiation table, Presidential Political and Media Advisor Dr. Bouthina Shaaban said:
"That reflects their dubious relation with these sides that perpetrate acts of killing, mutilating kidnapping, in addition to sabotaging state institutions."
A statement posted online said Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam, Suqour al-Sham, Liwa al-Tawhid, Liwa al-Haqq, Ansar al-Sham and the Kurdish Islamic Front had agreed to a "gradual merger". It said the new Islamic Front will be an "independent political, military and social formation" to topple the Assad regime and build an Islamic state. (BBC, 22-11-2013)
Islamic Front Charter
The foreign fighters are brethren
First, the charter calls for an Islamic state and the implementation of sharia, though it does not define exactly what that means.
The IF is firmly against secularism, human legislation (i.e., it believes that laws come from God, not from people), civil government, and a Kurdish breakaway state. ...
Destruction of the StateThe IF's number-one goal is "the toppling of the regime," which includes "bringing an end to its legislative, executive, and judicial authority along with its military and security institutions...
Lastly, the charter supports the presence of foreign fighters in the Syrian rebellion: "These are brethren who have supported us in the struggle, and their support is appreciated and they are thanked for it. We are required to ensure their safety." Therefore, the IF is unlikely to turn on these fighters or eject them from Syria when the conflict ends. (Washington Institute)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that all states should implement UNSC resolutions on counter-terrorism, highlighting the need for holding accountable those who are responsible for supporting terrorists in Syria and Iraq.
The Russian Foreign Minister called for making the United Nations the forum which represents all the organizations with their efforts, to find the major problems in the region and to touch upon the old conflicts, on top of which, the Arab-Israeli conflict, as the Palestinian issue has not been solved for decades.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that ISIS is not an internal terrorist group rather it is a cross-border organization that derives its components from the ideological cover which is represented by extremist fatwas and the cancelation of the other.
The United States is pursuing the same failed policy in Syria as it did in Iraq, and that is creating a “political vacuum” by removing “major power holders,” says a political commentator.
WSJ, April 1, 2010: Syria's President Assad meets Sen. Kerry in Damascus.
John Kerry: "President Al-Assad and I had a very positive discussion on the formidable challenges facing this region and we found agreement on a number of ways in which both of us and other countries can contribute significantly to changing the dynamics that exist today..."
US policy makers are pursuing the same policy in Syria, he said. They are trying “to take the major power holders out of position of influence and we are going to have anarchy and we are going to have ISIS and it just gets worse.”
If that foreign policy succeeds in Syria, Siraj noted, it would create a “political vacuum” in which extremist groups will freely thrive. “They are not necessarily the best people you want to have as a neighbor.”
Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that the US will provide the so-called moderate militants fighting against the Syrian government with $40 million in urgent aid.
“The people of the region are very critical of what John Kerry is doing,” because ultimately they know the US is “supplying insurgents” to divide the Muslim community, Siraj said.
“It seems that the US is playing a kind of foreign policy where it picks who it wants to support, while simultaneously picking those it doesn’t want to support...”
The emir of Qatar has denied accusations that his country funds extremist groups in Syria, while stressing the Gulf state's commitment to the U.S.-led campaign against Islamic State jihadists.
"We don't fund extremists." ... "But there are differences. There are differences that some countries and some people (believe) that any group which comes from Islamic background are terrorists. And we don't accept that."
Qatar has been accused of funding Islamist groups in Syria, as well as Egypt's banned Muslim Brotherhood, following Arab Spring uprisings. But the gas-rich emirate, home to a major U.S. military base, is now taking part in Washington's campaign against the Islamic State group, which has seized swaths of Iraq and Syria.
The emir confirmed this participation. "We've been asked by our American friends if we can join, and we did," he said.
But he insisted that beyond defeating extremist movements in Syria, the long-term aim should be to punish the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
"The main cause of all this is the regime in Syria, and this regime should be punished," he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that any step taken to combat terrorism on the international level, including the use for force, must comply with international law and receive the approval of the relevant countries.
In a press conference held on Friday on the sideline of the UN General Assembly meeting, Lavrov affirmed the need to coordinate with the Syrian government regarding counterterrorism, even if this comes late, because excluding the Syrian government from counterterrorism efforts in its territories violates international law and reduces the effectiveness of any steps in this regard.
Lavrov said that holding the Syrian leadership responsible for what is happening is wrong, oversimplifies matters, and lacks professionalism, noting that the Syrian government had always voiced readiness to hold talks with the “opposition” to reach a solution for the crisis, but this so-called opposition always rejected any dialogue or solution.
Earlier, Lavrov discussed on Friday with representatives of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) means of finding a political solution to the crisis in Syria.
The Syrians, Iranians and Russians do not fundamentally trust Washington or its intentions. The suspicion is that the US is on another one of its regime-change missions, displaying its usual rogue-state behavior by violating the territorial integrity of a sovereign state under false pretenses, and that it will shortly revert to targeting the Syrian government.
While they can see clear gains from the current level of US intervention – as distasteful as they find it - they are watching carefully as events unfold....
All understand that Washington has just assumed a risky public posture and that many, many things can go wrong.
As Moscow-based political analyst Vladimir Frolov noted to the Washington Post: “The United States has underestimated the complexity of the situation before, so let’s just wait until they run into problems.”
The idea that US military engagement could continue for the long-term is unlikely given the myriad things that can go wrong fast. Obama is going to be reluctant to have his last two years in office defined by the hazardous Syrian conflict – after all, he was to be the president who extracted America from unessential wars.
But the most compelling reason that this Coalition will not pass the first hurdle is that its key members have entirely different ambitions and strategic targets.
Over a decade ago, these US-engineered coalitions were wealthier, less-burdened and shared common goals. Today, many of the coalition members face domestic economic and political uncertainties – and several states are directly responsible for giving rise to ISIL.
How can the Coalition fight ISIL and support it, all at once?
What’s missing is a formula, a strategy, a unified worldview that can be equally as determined as the ideological adversary it faces.
Down the road, we will discover that the only coalition able and willing to fight extremism does indeed come from inside the region, but importantly, from within the conflict zone itself: Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran. For starters, they are utterly vested in the outcome of their efforts – and would lead with political solutions alongside military ones.
Those elusive boots-on-the-ground that everyone is seeking? They live it. Pit that group against Obama’s Coalition-of-the-Clueless any day and you know which side would win handily.
The question is, can this Coalition stomach a solution it is working so hard to avoid?
Will it partner with vital regional players that were foes only a few months ago? It is doubtful. That would require a worldview shift that Washington is still too irrational to embrace.
Press TV 13-8-2012: interview with Mohammad Marandi,
professor at the University of Tehran.
Press TV: Professor Marandi [..], do you think that the majority of people realize what is going on in Syria?
Marandi: Well, obviously the media has been completely one-sided and every massacre that were taking place in Syria before even any evidence being provided, the Western media would immediately blame the [Syrian] government. ...
Not only is the Western media completely biased and providing a one sided story but they are also helping atrocities being carried out by blaming the [Syrian] government for things they have no information about and for, basically, keeping silent about atrocities carried out by the opponents of the government.
"There is no chosen people on this earth"
Amy DePaul interviews Seyed Mohammad Marandi
Guernica: In an interview with Matt Lauer of NBC, you mentioned President Ahmadinejad being mistranslated on some of the things he has said about Israel. How was he mistranslated?
Seyed Mohammad Marandi: President Ahmadinejad said that the Zionist state of Israel should no longer exist as a political entity. This has always been the policy of successive Iranian governments such as those of President Khatami and President Rafsanjani.
In general, Iranians believe that all Palestinians have the right to return home and that there is no chosen people on this earth, whether Jewish, Muslim, Christian.
Iran had the same policy towards apartheid South Africa...
Guernica: What’s the most important point you’d like Americans to know about Iran?
Seyed Mohammad Marandi: Americans should know that Iranians are just as decent, human and rational as other human beings. Sadly, the mainstream media in the U.S. regularly fails to recognize and reflect this.
France has demanded that Ansar Al-Sharia in Libya be designated a terrorist organisation by the UN Security Council. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius made the demand yesterday at the special meeting on Libya organised by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the sidelines of the General Assembly meeting.
Last month French President François Hollande called for UN intervention in Libya. Without it, the president said, “terrorism will spread across the region”.
Two weeks ago, France’s Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Libya had become a “hub for terrorist groups” and that France had to act “mobilise the international community” to deal with the issue.
Rival Palestinian groups, Fatah and Hamas, reached an agreement to hand over the administration of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian national unity government, representatives of both factions have announced.
After two days of talks under the auspices of Cairo, the two sides reached a breakthrough deal to give the Palestinian national unity government, led by Mahmoud Abbas, full control of the Gaza Strip.
The agreement covers aspects of “political partnership, [administration of] border crossings, reconstruction of Gaza and the [payment of] salaries to Gaza’s civil workers,” the head of the Hamas delegation Musa Abu-Marzuq told reporters during a joint press conference with his Fatah counterpart Azzam Al-Ahmad. The talks tackled all issues and obstacles that hampered the implementation of the reconciliation agreement, he added.
The two sides agreed to “remove all the obstacles before the national unity government and form a committee comprised of all Palestinian parties to implement the agreement,” the Fatah official added.
Another contentious issue is the control of Gaza’s border crossings, which according to Abu-Marzuq, would be shared between the national unity government and the UN. He said: “The United Nations will come to an agreement with Israel and the unity government on how to run the crossings.”
Under the deal a 3,000-strong security force affiliated with the Palestinian Authority would be merged with Gaza’s security services to oversee the enclave’s border crossings.
The leader of al-Qaida's Syria affiliate, Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, has called on Lebanon's Sunnis to defect from the army.
"Sunnis, take your sons away from the army that serves your enemy, and make them join the ranks of the jihadists," al-Jolani, who heads al-Nusra Front in Syria, said in an audio recording on Sunday.
Sunni extremists perceive Lebanon's army as being controlled by Shiite Hizbullah, which has sent thousands of fighters into Syria to support President Bashar Assad's troops...
Last month, the Lebanese army fought pitched battles in the border town of Arsal with al-Nusra and Islamic State jihadists who streamed in from Syria. The jihadists withdrew after a truce, but took with them police and military troops as hostages, three of whom were later executed.
Al-Golani also warned that his group would "use all possible means" to fight back against airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition and warned that the conflict would reach Western countries joining the alliance.
The U.S. views al-Nusra Front, as a terrorist group, but Syrian rebels have long seen it as a potent ally against both the IS -- which is the main target of the coalition -- and Assad's forces.
In the 25-minute audio recording, al-Golani portrayed the U.S.-led coalition as a "Crusader alliance" against Sunnis and vowed to fight back.
"We will use all that we have to defend the people of Syria...from the Crusader alliance," al-Golani said. "And we will use all possible means to achieve this end," he said, without offering more details.
He went on to warn Western countries against taking part in the alliance in words that echoed those of the late founder of al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden.
"This is what will cause the battle to be transported to the hearts of your own homes; because Muslims will not stand idly by and watch Muslims be bombed and killed in their countries, while you are safe on your countries. The price of war will not be paid by your leaders alone. You will pay the biggest price," he said.
Flashback 24-9-2013. Aleppo: Statement by 11 brigades,
read by Abdel Aziz Salamah, commander of the al-Tawheed brigade,
providing a brief explanation of their views on unity and the external opposition.
1. All Signatories call for all civilian and armed groups to unite under a clear Islamic framework, established on shariah, the sole source of legislation;
2. All signatories are not represented by, and do not recognize, Syrian exile groups, specifically the SNC and the proposed government;
Signatories to the statement are: ◦Jabhat al-Nusra - Islamic Ahrar al-Sham Movement -al-Tawheed Brigade - al-Islam Brigade - Suqour al-Sham Brigades - al-Fajr al-Islamiyah Movement - al-Nur al-Islamiyah Movement - Noureddin al-Zenki Battalions - Fastaqim Kama Ummirat Gathering - 19th Division - al-Ansar Brigade.
Syria is satisfied with the airstrikes that the United States has been carrying out against the Islamic State (IS), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the country's Foreign Minister Walid Moualem said in an interview with Associated Press (AP).
"Until today, we are satisfied. As long as they [the United States] are aiming at ISIS locations in Syria and in Iraq, we are satisfied," Moualem said Monday, as quoted by AP.
Syria's foreign minister admitted that the United States does not inform Syria of every strike before it happens, "but it's OK".
"We are fighting ISIS, they are fighting ISIS," Moualem said, noting that he considers the IS and all Islamist groups fighting in Syria to be essentially on the same side and saying they should all be targeted. "Without doubt, because they have the same ideology. They have the same extremist ideology."
On September 10, US President Barack Obama unveiled his strategy to defeat the IS, an extremist group which has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012. Obama's plan stipulated, forming an international anti-IS coalition, providing equipment and training to Kurdish and Iraqi forces, as well as Syria's moderate opposition, and conducting airstrikes against IS positions in Syria, while simultaneously continuing airstrikes in Iraq.
Damascus, SANA-Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Armed forces, Minister of Defense Fahd Jasem al-Freij, accompanied by a number of officers, toured Monday the Worker city of Adra and Adra al-Balad in Damascus countryside, conveying the amity and congratulations of President Bashar al-Assad to the armed forces who restored security and stability to the city.
During the tour, General Freij listened to an explanation by the field commanders on the conditions of the military operations carried out by the Syrian Army who eliminated the armed terrorist organizations that terrified the safe civilians and perpetrated acts of sabotage, kidnapping and killing in the region.
He inspected the works being implemented by the engineering units to clean the city from mines and explosives planted by the terrorists.
He affirmed that the military leadership is proud of the heroism of the army members; hailing the high moral spirit the soldiers are enjoying in sacrificing their souls for the sake of the Homeland.
General Freij stressed that the Syrian Army is capable of carrying out its duties in different conditions to defeat the terrorist conspiracy to which Syria is exposed
“ISIS (Islamic State) must be defeated. But to defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war," Netanyahu said at the UN headquarters in New York. "Iran's nuclear military capabilities must be fully dismantled," he added.
As for Tehran's recent “charm offensive” for the West, its true purpose is to see the international sanctions lifted "and remove the obstacles to Iran's path to the [nuclear] bomb," the prime minister stressed.
Netanyahu called Iran's concern about the spread of terrorism – earlier voiced by President Hassan Rouhani, from the same lectern – “one of history's greatest displays of doubletalk.”
He also slammed the countries, which now fully back US-led airstrikes against ISIS, but used to criticize Israel for their war against Hamas in Palestine. The PM stressed that Islamic radicals from ISIS and Hamas share the same task “of imposing militant Islam on the world.”
“Hamas’s immediate goal is to destroy Israel, but it has a broader objective. When it comes to its ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS, and ISIS is Hamas,” he said.
According to Netanyahu, the 50-day operation in Gaza this summer, which saw 2,100 Palestinians – mainly civilians – killed and some 18,000 homes destroyed, was Israel’s war against “global militant Islam.” ...
He refuted claims by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who accused Israel of conducting a “war of genocide” in Gaza in his UN address at the weekend.
The PM also blasted the UN Human Right Council, which sends “a clear message to terrorists to use civilians as human shields” by condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza. The Human Right Council “turns the war upside down” and is deserved to be called the “Terrorist Rights Council,” he stressed.
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has slammed remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his address at the United Nations. PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi released a statement calling Netanyahu’s address misleading.
She said that the Israeli premier manipulated facts when he compared the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas with the ISIL terrorist group.
"Netanyahu's speech at the UN was a blatant manipulation of facts and attempted at misleading the audience through a combination of hate language, slander and argument of obfuscation," Ashrawi said.
During his speech, Netanyahu likened Israel’s deadly war on the beleaguered Gaza Strip to US-led airstrikes against the ISIL militants in Iraq and Syria.
“Obviously Netanyahu has lost touch with reality, particularly in refusing to acknowledge the fact of the occupation itself or the actions of the Israeli army of occupation in committing massacres and war crimes,” the PLO official said.
“The UN podium would have been the most appropriate place for Netanyahu to announce his acceptance of all relevant UN resolutions and his adherence to international law and universal human rights.”
Flashback 2010: Obama &
The Totalitarian Single Party Likud State
Obama: Not only Likudniks can be pro-IsraeliWASHINGTON – US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Sunday that there are elements among the Jewish community in the United States who believe that being pro-Israeli meant agreeing with the Likud's stances.
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNet news, 26-2-2008
In a closed meeting with Jewish leaders in Cleveland, the leading Democratic presidential candidate said, "I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you're anti-Israel and that can't be the measure of our friendship with Israel."
PEACE AND SECURITY
chapter of the Likud Party Platform
Settlements: The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria [West Bank] and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting.
Self-Rule: The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan River. The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state. Thus, for example, in matters of foreign affairs, security, immigration and ecology, their activity shall be limited in accordance with imperatives of Israel's existence, security and national needs.
Jerusalem: Jerusalem is the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel. The government will flatly reject Palestinian proposals to divide Jerusalem, including the plan to divide the city.
The Jordan River as a Permanent Border: The Jordan Valley and the territories that dominate it shall be under Israeli sovereignty. The Jordan River will be the permanent eastern border of the State of Israel.
Israel is effectively a single-party state
By Yitzhak Laor - Haaretz, 26-11-2010
The totalitarianism gaining the upper hand in our lives has to do with the fact that there is no real difference between 'center-left' and parties on the extreme right.
The disappearance of Meretz and the racist ignoring of the Arab public of voters and its representatives in the Knesset are underlining even further how close Israel is to being a single-party state.
Beyond minuscule differences of opinion among the political parties, we are in effect ruled by a single party, the State Party, with its branches: Likud-Mizrahi (Jews of Middle Eastern descent ), Likud-Russian, Likud-career officers and Labor, Likud-ultra-Orthodox and Likud in its two "authentic" embodiments: Kadima and Likud...
Israeli democracy is a military dictatorship of more than 43 years beyond the Green Line...
Uri Avnery - The Original Sin, 27/11/2010
Thanks to the massive support of the Zionist leadership, the “national-religious” camp grew in Israel at a dizzying pace...The source of all this evil is, of course, the original sin of the State of Israel: the non-separation between state and religion, based on the non-separation between nation and religion.
There are now three religious educational systems – the national-religious, the “independent” one of the Orthodox, and “el-Hama’ayan (“to the source”) of Shas. All three are financed by the state at least 100%, if not much more. The differences between them are small, compared to their similarities.
All teach their pupils the history of the Jewish people only (based, of course, on the religious myths), nothing about the history of the world, of other peoples, not to mention other religions. The Koran and the New Testament are the kernel of evil and not to be touched.
The typical alumni of these systems know that the Jews are the chosen (and vastly superior) people, that all Goyim are vicious anti-Semites, that God promised us this country and that no one else has a right to one square inch of its land.
Yom Kippur, only days away, and not a ripple of soul-searching, a crease of the brow, even an afterthought about the infliction of death and the evil it represents.
A good start to the Jewish New Year, one that makes a mockery of the piety of observance, the supposed agony and anguish over thoughts and deeds that violate the teachings of Torah and its declarations for social justice, again, all in all, the blasphemous worship of God, itself an oxymoron only possible when truth is suppressed and POWER transforms humans into little gods themselves...
Israel is a textbook case of Adorno et al, “The Authoritarian Personality,” wherein ethnocentrism leads to repression, reactionary social values, not least, a fascistic social structure.
The Authoritarian Personality Type
According to Adorno's theory, the elements of the Authoritarian personality type are:
- Blind allegiance to conventional beliefs about right and wrong
- Respect for submission to acknowledged authority
- Belief in aggression toward those who do not subscribe to conventional thinking, or who are different
- A negative view of people in general
- A need for strong leadership which displays uncompromising power
- A belief in simple answers and polemics.
- Resistance to creative, dangerous ideas. A black and white worldview.
- A tendency to project one's own feelings of inadequacy, rage and fear onto a scapegoated group
- A preoccupation with violence and sex (www.psychologistworld.com)
The sudden reversion of Washington to a 'war on terror' pretext for intervention in Syria has confused western audiences. For three years they watched 'humanitarian intervention' stories, which poured contempt on the Syrian President's assertion that he was fighting foreign backed terrorists. Now the US claims to be leading the fight against those same terrorists.
But what do Syrians think, and why do they continue to support a man the western powers have claimed is constantly attacking and terrorising 'his own people'?
To understand this we must consider the huge gap between the western caricature of Bashar al Assad the 'brutal dictator' and the popular and urbane figure within Syria.
If we believed most western media reports we would think President Assad has launched repeated and indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas, including the gassing of children. We might also think he heads an 'Alawi regime', where a 12% minority represses a Sunni Muslim majority, crushing a popular 'revolution' which, only recently, has been 'hijacked' by extremists.
The central problem with these portrayals is Bashar's great popularity at home. The fact that there is popular dissatisfaction with corruption and cronyism, and that an authoritarian state maintains a type of personality cult, does not negate the man's genuine popularity. His strong win in Syria's first multi-candidate elections in June dismayed his regional enemies, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey; but it did not stop their aggression.
Syrians saw things differently. Bashar was thought to maintain his father's pluralist and nationalist tradition, while modernising and holding out the promise of political reform.Opinion polls in Syria had shown major dissatisfaction with corruption and political cronyism, mixed views on the economy but strong satisfaction with stability, women's rights and the country's independent foreign policy.
The political reform rallies of 2011 - countered by pro-government rallies and quickly overshadowed by violent insurrection - were not necessarily anti Bashar.
The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and other sectarian Islamist groups did hate him, along with the secular state. Yet even these enemies, in their better moments, recognised the man's popularity. In late 2011 a Doha Debates poll (created by the Qatari monarchy, a major backer of the Muslim Brotherhood) showed 55% of Syrians wanted Assad to stay.
Armed Islamists went further. In 2012 Reuters, the UK Guardian and Time magazine reported three 'Free Syrian Army' (FSA) leaders in Aleppo saying the Syrian President had about '70 percent' support; or that the local people, 'all of them, are loyal to the criminal Bashar, they inform on us'; or that they are 'all informers ... they hate us. They blame us for the destruction'. All three FSA groups were Islamists on good terms with al Qaeda.
None of these revelations changed the western media reliance on Muslim Brotherhood-aligned sources, 'activists' or 'moderate rebels'. They relied, in particular, on the UK-based Rami Abdul Rahman, who calls himself the 'Syrian Observatory of Human Rights'. Such sources kept 'Bashar the Monster' alive, outside Syria.
Central to the Bashar myth are two closely related stories: that of the 'moderate rebel' and the story that conjures 'Assad loyalists' or 'regime forces' in place of a large, dedicated national army, with broad popular support. To understand the Bashar myth we have to consider the Syrian Arab Army.
At over half a million, the Army is so large that most Syrian communities have strong family links, including with those fallen in the war. There are regular ceremonies for families of these 'martyrs', with thousands proudly displaying photos of their loved ones. Further, most of the several million Syrians, displaced by the conflict, have not left the country but rather have moved to other parts under Army protection.
This is not really explicable if the Army were indeed engaged in 'indiscriminate' attacks on civilians. A repressive army invokes fear and loathing in a population, yet in Damascus one can see that people do not cower as they pass through the many army road blocks, set up to protect against 'rebel' car bombs...
Quite a number of Syrians have criticised President Assad to me, but not in the manner of the western media. They say they wanted him to be as firm as his father. Many in Syria regard him as too soft, leading to the name 'Mr Soft Heart'. Soldiers in Damascus told me there is an Army order to make special efforts to capture alive any Syrian combatant. This is controversial, as many regard them as traitors, no less guilty than foreign terrorists.
|Omar Farouq Brigade|
Has the Army committed abuses? Probably, but mainly against the armed groups. There is some evidence of execution of foreign terrorists. That is certainly a crime, but probably has a fair degree of popular support in Syria, at the moment. The main constraint on such abuses seems to be the army order from 'Mr Soft Heart', to save the lives of Syrian rebels.
However, despite the repeated claims by sectarian Islamists and their western backers, there is no convincing evidence that the Syrian Army has deliberately bombed and gassed civilians. Nor would there be a motive for it. Nor does the behaviour of people on the streets support it. Most Syrians do not blame their army for the horrendous violence of this war, but rather the foreign backed terrorists.
Tim Anderson is a Senior Lecturer in Political Economy at the University of Sydney. He has researched the Syrian conflict since 2011 and visited Syria in December 2013.
- Rudaw: At the moment more than 300,000 people have fled Kobane. In the last week alone, the IS captured many surrounding villages. Why didn’t the Syrian air force target the IS there?
- Ali Haidar: Kobane is a Syrian city, which lies very close to the Turkish border. We have a standoff with the Turkish government and this is why our air force could not fly there close to their borders. There are no Syrian government decisions to overlook border cities. This is just a military issue; our army cannot reach there.
- Rudaw: Does this mean that you think the Turkish anti-aircraft guns will target your planes if you fly too close to the Turkish borders?
- Ali Haidar: Yes, we do. The Turkish and Israeli militaries so far have downed two Syrian aircraft. They have shelled our troops in the past, accusing us of crossing their borders, which is not true. The real reason was for them to aid the opposition groups.... Turkey has been aggressive from the start. Turkey is to a great extent responsible for what has happened in Syria....
According to the UN resolution, the Turkish government should halt its support for the terrorist groups in Syria. It should close all its borders or monitor it to stop the entry of fighters into the Syrian war.
- Rudaw: What is the position of the Syrian government about the US-led airstrikes on IS bases inside Syria?
- Ali Haidar: We fully supported the Security Council’s resolution at the time which strongly condemned the IS atrocities. We support any international effort to destroy terrorist groups such as the IS and al-Nusrah Front. But our conditions must be taken into consideration....
What we so far have seen is this: the airstrikes have been in coordination with the Syrian government and with our prior knowledge. The coalition countries have respected the Syrian requests. Indeed, attacking the terrorists is also in the interest of the Syrian government...
- Rudaw: Russia said the attacks were not lawful. Even the Iranian president criticized Syria for allowing the attacks to take place. How do you regard these comments?
- Ali Haidar: I understand the Iranian and Russian positions... What Iran and Russia have said is that full coordination has not taken place with the international community. Surely, the coalition on the international level should also represent the UN’s Security Council.
- Rudaw: How do you regard the Saudi airstrikes on the IS bases in Syria, considering the fact that Saudi Arabia has condemned Syrian government’s actions in the past?
- Ali Haidar: As far as we are concerned, we are dealing with the Security Council’s resolution against terror. We are not against either Saudis, nor the Turks or Qataris, or Jordanians for that matter, to join the attacks on IS. These countries were the reason the IS was formed originally. If they now join the attacks on IS, then it’s a good thing....
- Rudaw: What is your position regarding the decision by the US government and its allies to aid the Syrian moderate opposition with $500 million? They have announced that there will be training camps for the Free Syrian Army in Saudi Arabia.
- Ali Haidar: What the US is trying to do is to replace a terrorist group with another terrorist group. We don’t differentiate between terrorist organizations and the so-called moderate organizations because they have one thing in common, which is the killing.
At the moment an international coalition is attacking the terrorist organizations and we are benefitted by it. But this should not be done at the expense of the Syrian interests....
The sovereignty of both Iraq and Syria should be respected. We support any efforts that strengthens national sovereignty.
Resolution 2170 (UN 15-8-2014)The Security Council, “Reaffirming the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the Republic of Iraq and Syrian Arab Republic, and reaffirming further the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,
“Stressing that terrorism can only be defeated by a sustained and comprehensive approach involving the active participation and collaboration of all States, and international and regional organizations to impede, impair, isolate and incapacitate the terrorist threat... Demands that ISIL, ANF and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaida cease all violence and terrorist acts, and disarm and disband with immediate effect;
Calls upon all Member States to take national measures to suppress the flow of foreign terrorist fighters to, and bring to justice, in accordance with applicable international law, foreign terrorist fighters of, ISIL, ANF and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaida...
Reaffirms its decision that States shall prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale, or transfer to ISIL, ANF and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaida from their territories or by their nationals outside their territories...
Scores of villages in northern Syria have fallen to the ISIS Jihadis, and an exodus of some 160,000 terrified Syrian Kurds fled to the border with Turkey.
Turkey should be most alarmed by ISIS gains just south of its borders and accusations that Ankara had a role in the group’s meteoric rise. ISIS fighters have become a Frankenstein monster completely outside of anyone’s control. Already some Turks, although it is difficult to gauge how many, openly share their view that ISIS is more genuinely Islamic than Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Many believe that Ankara supported and continues to support ISIS, along with various other Islamist groups in Syria, in order to both overthrow the Assad regime and destroy the Kurdish push for autonomy in Rojava (Western, or Syrian, Kurdistan).
Reports emerged of Jihadis receiving free medical care in Turkish hospitals all along the Syrian border, of weapons and supplies being transferred to them from Turkey, of ISIS selling its smuggled oil more freely in Turkey than anywhere else, and even of Turkish special forces secretly embedded with Jihadi groups in Syria.
When ten Arab countries signed onto an anti-ISIS coalition in Jedda recently, Turkish representatives present at the meeting refused to join... They still have yet to officially designate ISIS a “terrorist group.”
There are good reasons as to why Turkey is now finally turning against ISIS, however. If it were definitively proven that they supported ISIS, this would cost the NATO member country a lot of friends. Indeed, all of Turkey’s hard earned credentials as a respectable, democratic and investment-friendly member of the world community would go up in smoke. This is why Turkish leaders recently started making a bit more clear in their rhetoric that they stand against ISIS and its barbarism.
Unfortunately, Turkey may stop supporting ISIS only to keep arming Jabhat al-Nusra and other less prominent, but equally radical, Jihadis – so long as they are willing to fight Assad and the PKK. Turkey will tell us “These are not the Jihadis we’re looking for.”
The time has thus come for Turkey to show the world more clearly which side of this fight it supports.
David Romano has been a Rudaw columnist since 2010. He is the Thomas G. Strong Professor of Middle East Politics at Missouri State University
Qamishli, Syria – In collaboration with the Inter-Faith Forum and Mashuq al-Khaznawi Foundation, MAV Organization for Human Rights held a three-day workshop on peaceful coexistence in the city of Qamishlo (Qamishli), northeastern Syria.
The workshop highlighted the importance of tolerance and democracy as well as the negative impacts of extremism and armament on the Syrian society.
One of the city’s religious leaders, Mullah Abdullah, presided as host at the workshop. Moreover, attendees visited the Syriac Orthodox church and met clergymen there for better understanding of Christianity.
Speaking to ARA News, Mahmoud Omar, member of board of trustees at MAV, pointed out the importance of their work in such a diverse society where “the role of civic society organizations is to reinforce the concepts of coexistence, equity, justice and acceptance.”
The MAV organization was established after the Qamishlo incidents in 2004 (In March 2004, during a chaotic soccer match, a riot started when some people started praising Saddam Hussein).
TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi voiced concern about the growing number of wars in the world, and said the problem of terrorism cannot be resolved through war and military action.
Today in the world, war is chosen as a way to fight terrorists while the fact is that terrorism can not be eradicated by war, Qashqavi said in the Southern city of Shiraz on Wednesday, citing the need for the religious leaders to bring about reconciliation.
In relevant remarks on Saturday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian underlined the necessity for settling the regional issues through a pragmatic outlook. Self-centered measures against terrorism would cost the region and the world dearly.
"The regional issues and developments should be settled realistically and if the realities of the region are not considered, terrorism will not be uprooted," Amir Abdollahian said in a meeting with a top Lithuanian foreign ministry official, Ina Marčiulionytė, in Tehran.
"Self-Centered methods and moves against terrorism outside the framework of the international law are damaging and will incur costs on the region and the international system," he added.
Amir Abdollahian underlined the necessity for respecting sovereignty of states, and said, "Fighting terrorists and simultaneously weakening governments is unacceptable and therefore, I am not optimistic about the measures and results of the plans of the anti-terrorism coalition which has been formed against the ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant)."
In 2013 Western backed FSA worked toghether with ISIS in Northern Syria
Flashback 2011: US media in praise of lynching
Russia Today, October 26, 2011
The mainstream US media has reacted to Muammar Gaddafi's brutal lynching with a tidal wave of cheers and approval, trumpeting the Colonel’s death as the start of a new era for Libya.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led the triumphant celebrations of Gaddafi’s death with her immortal line, “We came, we saw, he died!” - words which are sure to be remembered far beyond America’s shores.
“It cost us a trillion dollars to get Saddam and a billion dollars to get Gaddafi,” remarked television host Bill Maher. “And Libya says they’re going to pay back the billion that we spent, too. So it’s going to end up being sort of free for nothing,” cheered the host of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show.
Senator Lindsey Graham gave it to us straight: “Let’s get in on the ground, there is a lot of money to be made in the future in Libya, there is a lot of oil to be produced,” he said.
“Boy, I tell you, these Arab dictators – they’re not very original. Just like Saddam Hussein, caught him in a hole,” sneered Bill Maher.
Although many Libyans would argue whether he was really so bad, considering what Gaddafi did for the country’s social welfare and women’s rights, in the eyes of the US media, he was the ultimate evil.
“It is a demonization, every step of the way, against Gaddafi. In the media today always one man, one leader of a country, becomes a justification for destroying an entire country,” acknowledged Sara Flounders, member of the Workers World Party.
For a few days, the media savored the bloody images of Gaddafi’s killing and laughed at similarities between his capture in a ditch and that of Saddam Hussein.
MOSCOW, October - Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulates Muslims in Russia who have begun celebrating Eid al-Adha, an important Muslim holiday honoring sacrifice and the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, the Kremlin press service announced on Saturday.
Worshipers gathered at the Moscow Cathedral Mosque on Saturday, where Mufti sheikh Ravil Gaynutdin, Chairman of the Russian Muftis Council, is expected to preach followed by a festive prayer.
"For centuries, this feast, filled with light and good feelings, is bringing people closer together, praising societal ideals of goodness and mercy, fostering respect for religious precepts and traditions," President Putin said in a statement.
It is gratifying that the Muslim community in Russia is actively involved in public life, developing extensive charitable, educational activities, paying relentless attention to strengthening family values, and makes a significant contribution to the maintenance of inter-religious and inter-ethnic harmony, Putin said according to the Kremlin press service.
Adnan Afyouni, Damascus's top (Sunni) cleric, used his sermon in the Nuaman bin Bashir mosque in Damascus to criticise the international community for backing an uprising against Assad that began in 2011.
"Eid is associated with happiness in the life of the Muslim nation," he said. "But Eid has not entered our homes because the West and its Arab collaborators decided to make our country a battlefield... and implement interests and agendas," he said.
"We pledge to God almighty to protect our country from a great conspiracy that targets its role and presence and resilience," he said.
"We pledge to keep the country from being turned into a war zone, torn apart and divided," he said, referring to "plans drawn up at the White House and carried out today in north and east Syria."
TEHRAN (FNA)- When Joe Biden gets candid, he really lets rip. The US vice president, speaking at the John F. Kennedy Jr Forum at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, on Thursday told his audience – point blank – that America’s Sunni allies are responsible for funding and arming Al Qaeda-type extremists in Syria.
And he named names: Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, specifically. Others – like Qatar – are undoubtedly complicit too, but Biden’s comments were made off-the-cuff during the question and answer period following his prepared statement. Biden said Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar took time to realize the threat ISIS posed to them...
Of course, much of what Biden said has been suspected for years by Syria watchers, but to acknowledge this outright during the early days of President Barack Obama’s much-vaunted ISIL-busting Coalition – featuring these very same Sunni Arab partners – is a jaw-dropping concession.
But that’s not all. Biden also managed to fundamentally undermine his administration’s efforts to train and arm “moderate” Syrian rebels today, by claiming there is no “moderate middle (in Syria) because the moderate middle are made up of shopkeepers, not soldiers.”
- Question: In retrospect do you believe the United States should have acted earlier in Syria, and if not why is now the right moment?
- Biden: The answer is ‘no’ for 2 reasons. One, the idea of identifying a moderate middle has been a chase America has been engaged in for a long time. We Americans think in every country in transition there is a Thomas Jefferson hiding beside some rock – or a James Madison beyond one sand dune.
The fact of the matter is the ability to identify a moderate middle in Syria was – there was no moderate middle because the moderate middle are made up of shopkeepers, not soldiers – they are made up of people who in fact have ordinary elements of the middle class of that country...
What my constant cry was that our biggest problem is our allies – our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria....
What were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do?
They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except that the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world...
Now you think I’m exaggerating – take a look.... We could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them....
Shira Schoenberg: Biden, in his speech, said the U.S. must counter the threat of ISIS not with boots on the ground, but by building a coalition and supporting opposition forces in Syria as well as Iraqi efforts to reestablish democracy and defend their territory.
"We recognize outside military intervention won't be enough; societies have to solve their own problems," Biden said. (masslive.com 2-10-2014)
BAGHDAD – Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has called upon the prime minister to create a national security force that doesn't promote sectarianism at a time of heightened tensions between ethnic and religious groups.
The national guard, proposed by Iraq's new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, should be a force of "patriotism and purity" to help pull the country out of the crisis, the reclusive al-Sistani said in his Friday sermon delivered by his spokesman Abdul Mehdi Karbalaie in the city of Karbala.
Al-Sistani called upon al-Abadi to select a defense and interior minister following the Islamic Eid al-Adha holiday next week.
"The United States should work closely with Russia, China, India, Iran, Syria – as well as the GCC countries – in defeating the Islamic State. The United States should be supporting the BRICS initiatives, including the Chinese promotion of the New Silk Road of Eurasian development," Jef Steinberg, senior editor of Executive Intelligence Review, told RIA Novosti.
"Biden's identification of the Saudis and other Gulf allies along with NATO member Turkey in promoting the Islamic State, the al Nusra Front and other jihadists is a belated but welcome admission. He is clearly correct in his warning.
I hope that this is a reflection of a larger about-face in US policy," Steinberg claimed, commenting on Joe Biden's speech at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government Thursday.
Steinberg called Biden's remarks "the first truthful statements since the outset of the Syria conflict." However, he expressed doubt that they will entail positive changes in Obama's foreign policy in the short term.
The expert criticized a number of Obama administration's steps as being conducive to the rise of jihadists in the Middle East.
"Yes, the US has tolerated Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE, Kuwait and Qatar promotion of radical jihadists in their zeal to overthrow Assad," Steinberg stated.
"President Obama … opened the floodgates in August 2011 by demanding that President Bashar al-Assad step down. This was not only a total violation of Syrian sovereignty. It was an unprecedented statement for any US President to call for the removal by force of a foreign head of state who was legitimately elected by a vote of his people. The US has not been innocent in the arming of the very Syrian rebels who we are now fighting as radical jihadists."
"President Obama has in the past been an ardent supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is why the US was so lax in recognizing the danger of the Sunni jihadists until the problem had gotten totally out of control," Steinberg added.
MOSCOW– Russian former diplomat and expert in the affairs of the Middle East region Vyacheslav Matuzov said that there are suspicious groups among the Syrian opposition. In an interview with the 'Russia Today' TV, he added that there are gunmen among protesters and they sabotaged public properties in addition to army and police posts, indicating that the US had been encouraging the Muslim Brotherhood party to create chaos in Syria since the 1980s.
"Russia will not support any side that tries to provoke sedition in Syria… Most of the Syrian people support their government," he added. He said that the US violated the international law when its President asked a President of an independent country and member of the UN to step down. (ChamPress, 06-09-2011)
"From the beginning of the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011, Syria has been the scene of a proxy war involving regional powers: Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar all wanted to topple Assad, but they competed with each other as regional rivals, too. At various points, all three nations provided Sunni rebel groups with money and weapons that ended up in the hands of extremists." David Ignatius, Washington Post 2-10-2014
Mosul governor Atheel al-Nujaifi, Iraq july 2014
Iraq’s President Fuad Masum has said that Iran, a key partner of Baghdad and the Kurds, should be invited to join the international coalition fighting the Islamic State (IS.) In a wide-ranging exclusive interview with Rudaw, Masum said that Iran can play a role in the battle against IS and noted that the Islamic Republic supported the Kurdistan Region to ward off an IS threat.
- Rudaw: Your country is a part of an international coalition against the Islamic State (IS.) How effective do you think US President Barack Obama’s strategy is for destroying IS?
- Fuad Masum: IS is not a short-term issue. You can strike them militarily in Iraq and Syria and cripple them so they can no longer do what they are doing now, but this isn’t going to eliminate the problem.
IS is an underground organization and might have many branches. Therefore, a detailed investigation is required in order to understand and find out where and how they are operating.
- Rudaw: After the American invasion of Iraq, the US accused Iran of being a destabilizing factor in Iraq. Now things have changed, and Iran and America are fighting alongside each other in Iraq against a common enemy. Do you believe that Iran and America have common interests in Iraq?
- Fuad Masum: Iran and the US need to reconsider their policies and reach a solution because the problems aren’t going to remain American-Iranian issues: they will grow.
Currently Iran’s policy aims to solve all of its own problems. The United States also realizes that Iran is a powerful state in the region and doesn’t want to stay enemies.
When I met the US Secretary of State (John Kerry), he said that his government doesn’t want to create problems for Iran and that it’s not (America’s) job to change the regime in Iran. But there is one matter between them: the nuclear issue. If we reach an agreement on this issue, there won’t be any problems between the US and Iran.
- Rudaw: In the Paris meeting about IS, I believe you told reporters that Iran should have been invited. Do you believe Iranian participation is necessary?
- Fuad Masum: Iran holds its own weight in the region and has to be taken seriously. This isn’t about signing an agreement to have Iran withdraw from Syria or something along those lines. Now that IS is being targeted in Syria, this is necessary. As we have said, no borders has remained between Iraq and Syria. No matter how hard IS is hit, they can get to Syria one way or another. They can’t be allowed to go to Syria to regroup, to take a break and then come back.
- Rudaw: When IS advanced toward Erbil, the US interfered. Before then, IS had taken Mosul and parts of Syria but the US did not intervene. Does this mean that Kurdistan holds a special place in US foreign policy because of its pro-western, secular nature?
- Fuad Masum: The Kurdistan Region in Iraq is seen as a prototype. The region has been stable and took in many refugees. This region must be protected — that’s why they acted quickly. Iran acted quickly as well. When IS advanced towards Erbil, Iran helped the Kurdistan Region.
- Rudaw: Since Saudi Arabia joined the coalition against IS, there are reports that Saudi-Iraqi relations are improving. Do you believe that Iraq can have good relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran at the same time?
- Fuad Masum: Iraq must look at each country differently. Iraq doesn’t view Saudi Arabia through an Iranian lens. Iraq has shared interests with Iran and Saudi Arabia. Therefore, no one’s interests should be met at the expense of the other. Saudi is ready to normalize its relations with Iraq.
Saudi Arabia’s ultraconservative brand of Islam is again in the sights of critics who say it underpins the extremist ideology of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis). But in the country itself, the open soul-searching about the role of Wahhabi Islam is noticeably absent.
Some of the features of Isis ideology, such as its hatred of Shia Muslims and application of strict punishments such as limb amputations, are shared with the purist Salafi thought that defines Saudi Wahhabism.
Isis has explicitly referenced early Wahhabi teachers, such as Mohammed ibn Abdulwahhab, to justify its destruction of Shia shrines and Christian churches as it cuts a swath through Iraq and Syria. Thousands of Saudi nationals have been recruited to its ranks.
What is sacred is man
Turning to education, Dr Hassoun said, "Let us teach our school pupils that what is sacred in the world is man" since man "is the creation of the creator".
(European parlement, 15-1-2008)
Mr Qassim and others point to a tendency within the Saudi establishment to blame the rise of Isis on the Muslim Brotherhood... Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates supported the overthrow of the Brotherhood in Egypt last year, and Riyadh banned the organisation earlier this year...
But Isis’s ultra-violence against religious minorities is also viewed by political analysts and critics as an amplification of Wahhabi hatred for the Shia branch of Islam. Anti-Shia discrimination remains widespread in Saudi Arabia, despite the king’s efforts over the past decade to foster more tolerant interpretations of Islam and to appoint some local Shia to the country’s advisory council.
'Iran Daily' on Monday criticizing the stand of radicals in the Majlis against the government of President Hassan Rouhani, pointed out that the people expect the Majlis speaker not to allow radicals to obstruct the government’s activities and impeach ministers over unimportant issues.
The English-language daily was referring to the radicals in the Majlis who have launched a smear campaign against President Rouhani's government since he took office in August 2013 by dragging his ministers to the legislative chamber for grilling and impeaching.
These elements will not give in and will continue their hostile attitude as long as they are in the Majlis. They are actually revealing their true colors to the people. Such measures, though troublesome for the government, will at the end of the day backfire and lead to the ousting of radicals from the parliament in the next elections, believes the daily in its Opinion column.
Grilling or impeaching ministers has nothing to do with their performances. Radicals are taking their revenge from the president and they just aim to throw a wrench in the work of the government.
If President Rouhani turns Iran into a global power, these lawmakers will again try to undermine the government, wrote the paper, adding that since the government is not from their league, extremists prefer its failure. They only seek to secure their own political gains rather than national interests....
The government should not budge on its stances and yield to the radicals’ unreasonable demands. President Rouhani has public support, therefore he should not allow radicals to impose their will on the country, for which the nation has already paid the price, suggested the paper.
A Syrian NGO helps women make Syria a colorful place to live, most recently with an initiative to paint the walls of a cemetery in the town of Nabek.
Since the conflict began in Syria over three years ago, Syrian women have demonstrated exceptional creativity and resilience. Often left as the sole caregivers and breadwinners for the families after their husbands are killed, captured or otherwise separated from them, they have had to take on new responsibilities while dealing with the scars left by war.
One group, the Syrian Women’s Forum for Peace, is focused on empowering women to play a constructive role in efforts towards peace building. The Damascus-based NGO was founded by Mouna Ghanem, who explained why and how they are helping women make Syria a colorful place to live, most recently with an initiative to paint the walls of a cemetery in the town of Nabek.
Ghanem: Our programs officer is a very powerful woman and a director of a Nabek municipality. She insisted that as an opposition member, she still had a right to work for the government. She stood by her political beliefs and didn’t resign. Our ideology is that state institutions are owned by the people, not by a political regime.
When you live in a war, you have to put a lot of effort into survival, to get out of feelings of frustration and depression. Despite the death and destruction in Syria, we are trying to bring our people a message of hope. You can’t live without hope, which is why our women choose to bring color to the people of Nabek.
There are women from all backgrounds in our group. We have a very conservative woman in our group, who wears a hijab, who runs our events, and she is fully supported by all women. We are going to commemorate our second-year anniversary by bringing women together to sing about their country, love and peace. We will sing songs from all around Syria so that we represent a unified Syria.
We teach a lot of different things. I taught a course based off of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and [Elif Shafak's] novel The 40 Rules of Love.
A high-profile Thursday speech at Harvard’s Kennedy School landed Vice President Joe Biden in some hot water, as he offered unusually frank comments on the rise of ISIS and other Islamist factions in Syria.
During the speech, Biden said Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates “poured hundreds of millions of dollars” into the Syrian rebellion, and started a “proxy Sunni-Shia war” in the region. He declared the nations America’s “biggest problem” in Syria.
Which didn’t sit well with those nations, not so much because they didn’t mention the US doing the exact same thing, but because the truth isn’t the sort of thing you say publicly.
Biden, needless to say, ended up having to make apology phone calls, with both Turkey and the UAE reporting Biden called to apologize for the “implication they supported militants,” even though they both clearly supported militants.
Flashback 2011: The Syrian National Council
By: Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, ChamPress, 30-11-2011
The Arab League coupled with a proxy group called the "Syrian National Council" (SNC) that is the creation of a tactical alliance between the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, Washington, NATO, Israel, and the Persian Gulf’s petro-monarchs is being used within the framework of false pretences of humanitarianism for a plan to oust President Bashar Al-Assad from power and install a new client government in Damascus.
Libya was suspended from the Arab League before NATO started its war. The League was used to give cover to the Pentagon and NATO for their war and regime change agenda against Qaddafi. It is Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that have helped hijack the League.
The GCC is comprised of the Gulf petro-sheikhdoms of the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. None of these countries are model states, let alone democracies. Their foreign-installed leaders have betrayed the Palestinians, helped attack Iraq, support Israel against Lebanon, demolished Libya, and now they conspire against Syria and its regional allies.
In a blatant act of hypocrisy, the unelected despots of these petro-sheikhdoms have announced that Qaddafi’s regime was “illegitimate” and now are making similar statements about Syria...
The situation in Syria is complicated, because there are several competing trends of opposition. This includes the opposition forces in Syria, which range from government lackeys to individuals that genuinely want reform.
Aside from the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, what most of the internal opposition has in common is that they are against violence, any form of foreign intervention, and want reform instead of regime change.
It is this opposition that forms the Syrian National Coordination Committee (SNCC), which critics calls a regime appendage.
Outside of Syria, Washington and its allies have done everything to co-opt the SNCC or silence the voices of the SNCC and other internal opposition forces that are against foreign intervention and the use of violence.
When a delegation of the SNCC arrived in Cairo to hold talks with the Arab League, it was immediately attacked and beaten by a mixed crowd of "SNC" supporters that were waiting for them.
The Arab League too has opted to recognize the "SNC", which is not popular internally in Syria. In reality, the "SNC" is controlled by the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and several Salafist groups.
Some of the people listed as "SNC" members were also not consulted before they were added and play no real role in the organization. In this regard, the Muslim Brotherhood is being promoted as the alternative to President Bashar Al-Assad by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the GCC..
Mr Biden said that the Obama administration would seek the unvarnished truth from its spies, whether or not their information supported the goals of the government.
The Vice President's address was greeted with loud cheers by the several hundred CIA employees who gathered for the swearing in ceremony in the foyer of the Agency's headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
Standing before the wall of 89 stars representing the CIA staff who have died in the line of duty, Mr Biden said:
"We expect you to provide independent analysis, not to engage in group think. We expect you to tell us the facts as you know them wherever they may lead, not what you think we want to hear."
In a televised interview on September 25, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour confronted the emir of Qatar about allegations that his country is not a true ally of the United States. Doha hosts America’s largest military base in the Middle East, and at the same time allows private fundraising for American adversaries Al Qaeda and ISIS. The 34-four-year-old emir replied to Amanpour: “I'm not in a camp against another camp. … I have my own way of thinking.”
Why does Qatar support the Muslim Brotherhood?
qaradawi-hillary clinton-syrian national council
Qatar supported Muslim Brotherhood organizations in countries across the region during the Arab uprisings in 2011, believing they represented the wave of the future. From Qatar’s perspective, being at the front end of this trend would showcase the country’s supposedly progressive leadership.
Backing the Brotherhood represented a continuation of a strategy that was already in place. Doha had hosted Egyptian and, later, Syrian Brotherhood members for decades, including the maverick Egyptian cleric Yusuf al Qaradawi who has lived in Qatar since the 1960s. Qatar had also provided Brotherhood personalities an important means for disseminating their views via the state-funded media channel, Al Jazeera, since the mid-1990s.
In Qatar, there is a total dearth of Islamist activism. The Islamist politics that Doha has championed in the broader region are illegal in Qatar.
Politics in Qatar are reserved for an elite circle of ruling family members and their appointees. An elected municipal council advises on local services, but the establishment of a legislative parliament, called for in the new 2004 constitution, has been delayed multiple times.
Political parties and associations are forbidden. The most remote forms of political expression by Qataris with regard to their own government are not tolerated. A Qatari poet, for instance, was sentence to life imprisonment in 2012 (reduced to 15 years in 2013) for verses that offended political sensibilities.
In this context, it is easy to understand that Qatar calibrates its support for political Islamists according to the extent they are perceived as a strategic asset. Despite the dramatic fall of the Brotherhood in Egypt, the group still maintains important pockets of support across the region. Qatar is not likely to abandon the group anytime soon.
Why has Qatar funded terrorists in Syria and Iraq?
Qatar is believed to have directly supported some of the most radical groups fighting in the Syrian war through much of 2013. This may have included Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front. Doha would have adopted this approach in order to advance its foreign policy goal of defeating the Assad regime.
Qatar likely adjusts the level and nature of support for groups like the Nusra Front based on strategic calculations, just like it does in its relationship with the Brotherhood. Late last year, it seems that Doha assessed the political price of backing radical groups in Syria, in defiance of Riyadh (which had just modified its own Syria policy) and Washington, and determined that it was too high.
However, the wealthy state still tolerates private fundraising for Al Qaeda, ISIS, and other radical organizations. In some cases, Doha encourages the private financing of extremist groups by inviting their prominent supporters to speak in Qatar. By outsourcing its foreign policy to middlemen fundraising for and financing the Syrian opposition, Qatar removes the liability of directly meddling in Syrian affairs, as detailed in a recent investigative report.
Allowing local fundraising for groups operating in Syria and Iraq may also help direct Qatari citizen political inclinations outside the country and bolster the government’s so-called Islamist credentials both at home and abroad.
libya 2012-john kerry-al aroor 2011
How bad is Qatar's involvement with terrorists?
According to the U.S. Treasury, a number of terrorist financiers have been operating in Qatar. Qatari citizen Abd al Rahman al Nuaymi has served as an interlocutor between Qatari donors and leaders of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI, later renamed ISIS)... Nuaymi is also one of several of Qatar-based, Al Qaeda financiers sanctioned by Treasury in recent years. According to some reporting, U.S. officials believe the largest share of private donations supporting ISIS and Al Qaeda–linked groups now comes from Qatar rather than Saudi Arabia.
There has been support among the royal family for radical Islamist groups, including ISIS’s predecessor network and Al Qaeda. According to The New York Times, one royal family member, Abdul Karim al Thani, operated a safe house for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi...
Another royal family member, Shaykh Abdullah bin Khalid al-Thani, sheltered on his farm other al-Qaeda members including Khalid Shaykh Mohammad, and welcomed Osama bin Laden there twice... Khalid Shaykh Mohammad eventually became the mastermind behind September 11.
Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham published a joint statement in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday entitled, “To defeat Islamic State, Remove Assad.”
They charged the Obama administration with having “no effective policy to remove Bashar Assad from power and end the conflict in Syria.”
John McCain and the Caliph
by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 18 August 2014
In May 2013, Senator John McCain made his way illegally to near Idleb in Syria via Turkey to meet with leaders of the "armed opposition". His trip was not made public until his return to Washington.
In photographs released at that time, one noticed the presence of Mohammad Nour, a spokesman for the Northern Storm Brigade (of the Al-Nosra Front, that is to say, al-Qaeda in Syria), and we also see Ibrahim al-Badri (also known as Abu Du’a and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi).
Asked about his proximity to al-Qaeda kidnappers, the Senator claimed not to know Mohammad Nour who would have invited himself into this photo. The object of his illegal trip to Syria was to meet the chiefs of staff of the Free Syrian Army.
According to him, the organization was composed "exclusively of Syrians" fighting for "their freedom" against the "Alouite dictatorship” (sic).
Back from the surprise trip, John McCain claimed that all those responsible for the Free Syrian Army were "moderates who can be trusted" (sic).
The statement insisted that the campaign in Iraq and Syria could not be successful without “embedding US military advisers with our foreign partners as they head into combat,” and that Washington must act to “militarily degrade the Assad regime, upgrade the moderate opposition, change the momentum of the conflict and create conditions for a political solution.”
The two senators acknowledged that “these would not be minor military operations,” but argued that failing to act would only “postpone the problem.”
Similarly, Leon Panetta, who served as both CIA director and defense secretary under Obama, deepened his public attack on the administration’s Iraq-Syria policy Tuesday, condemning the US president for ruling out the deployment of American ground troops.
McCain supported the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. In a late October 2001 Wall Street Journal op-ed piece he wrote, "America is under attack by a depraved, malevolent force that opposes our every interest and hates every value we hold dear." He advocated an overwhelming, not incremental, approach against the Taliban in Afghanistan, including the use of ground forces, saying, "War is a miserable business. Let's get on with it."
In February 2000, McCain said "As long as Saddam Hussein is in power, I am convinced that he will pose a threat to our security." McCain supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the U.S. decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein.
McCain & Libya: During the 2011 Libyan civil war, McCain called for the removal of Gaddafi from power, due to Gaddafi having "'American blood on his hands' from the 1988 Lockerbie bombing." In April 2011, he became the 'highest-profile Western politician' to visit the rebels in Libya, urging Washington to consider a ground attack that aims for the absolute removal of Gaddafi. He later said the airpower policy that Obama had pursued should be the model for American actions against other countries in the region. (Wikipedia info)
Thursday, April 19th, 2012 WASHINGTON: U.S. Senators
Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT)
released the following statement on Syria:
Lindsey Graham Website 2012
“It is time for the Obama Administration to acknowledge what is obvious and indisputable in Syria: the Annan Plan has failed. Bashar al-Assad has not abided, and will not abide.. The only way to stop Assad’s campaign of slaughter is for the United States to take tangible steps with our friends and allies to help the Syrian opposition change the military balance of power on the ground...
His forces continue to assault and murder Syrians who attempt to protest peacefully... Assad has escalated the violence, killing at least one thousand additional Syrians and displacing thousands more from their homes.
“These are the realities in Syria today, and by refusing to recognize them, the international community is only enabling Assad to continue killing... Assad’s campaign of violence will continue, as it has for more than a year now, until the military balance inside the country shifts against him.
“Changing the military balance inside Syria requires the United States, in close coordination with our Turkish, Arab and other allies, to provide the Syrian opposition with the help they are pleading for to defend themselves. This can include training and equipping the Syrian opposition with weapons, providing them with tactical intelligence, and using airpower to target Assad’s command-and-control and help the Syrian opposition to create safe zones inside Syria.
Secretaty of Defense Chuck Hagel, answering McCain:
Our goal is regime change
"As we pursue this program, the United States will continue to press for a political resolution to the Syrian conflict resulting in the end of the Assad regime.”
“Assad has lost all legitimacy to govern, and has created the conditions that allowed ISIL and other terrorist groups to gain ground and terrorize and slaughter the Syrian population. ” (CNS News, 16-9-2014)
Turkey’s active participation in the US-led coalition against the Islamic State group (IS) is looking less and less likely. It is increasingly evident that Ankara’s priority remains taking out Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.
This priority, however, is at odds with the mission of the anti-IS coalition as defined in the Jeddah Communiqué signed Sept. 11 by the Gulf Cooperation Council states, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and the United States. The communiqué only mentions a resolve to destroy IS.
When asked if degrading the Assad regime was one of Turkey’s conditions, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu responded flatly, “Of course, because we believe that if Assad stays in Damascus with this brutal policy, if [IS] goes, another radical organization may come in.”
Erdogan and Davutoglu want a no-fly zone and buffer zone on the Syrian side of the Turkish border for the estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey. Analysts, however, point out that IS has no aircraft and maintain that Ankara’s insistence on a no-fly zone has the Syrian regime in mind.
Despite its efforts, Ankara has failed so far to get the United States to accept the Syrian regime as the priority target in Syria and to get Washington’s support for a no-fly zone and buffer zone.
Asked about Davutoglu’s remarks to CNN during her daily press briefing, US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Oct. 6, “Our position hasn’t changed. Our focus is on [IS].”
Libya’s Islamist militant group Jaish Al-Islam has called on residents in the eastern port city of Derna to support the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), sources and local eyewitnesses have told Asharq Al-Awsat.
This development, which is likely to stoke fears that Libya’s ongoing fragmentation may make it a safe haven for violent militant groups, comes as Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thani prepares to visit Cairo on Tuesday to discuss the fight against militant groups in the region with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
Eyewitnesses and local sources told Asharq Al-Awsat Jaish Al-Islam held a large rally in the city’s Sahaba Square under the banner ‘The caliphate following the Prophetic way’ on Sunday in front of hundreds of residents.
During the rally, two speakers appeared on the stage, which was covered in ISIS flags, and called on the crowd to abandon the “infidel ideas and principles” underlying the modern Libyan state and join what they referred to as the “Islamic state” or the “caliphate” by swearing allegiance to ISIS and to Jaish Al-Islam’s leaders.
Last Friday, the same group held a military parade through the streets of the city, long seen as a hotbed for recruiting Islamist fighters, and which was completely abandoned by the army since Islamist militant groups took over. They have also bolstered their presence in the city by forming two local security bodies, an “Islamic police force” and a “municipal Islamic guard.”
Since the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, various interim Libyan governments have struggled to establish security and the rule of law in the country, which lacks a functioning police and army while being awash with military weapons.
Forced to rely on a patchwork of revolutionary militias, Libya’s government has been unable to prevent the outbreak of fighting between different factions, with different militias with varying ideological and regional loyalties fighting it out for control of key areas and resources.
Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thani, who heads the interim government currently based in Tobruk, travels to Cairo on Tuesday to meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to discuss the fight against Islamist militant groups in the region and general security matters.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says his administration is committed to the promises it made to the academic community during his 2013 presidential election campaign. Rouhani made the remarks while addressing the inauguration ceremony of the new academic year of Iranian universities.
Rouhani cautioned about turning universities into “political clubs”, stating however that universities should be places were opinions should be freely presented: “All should realize that this is a university, not a political club, nor a center for the activity of political parties. However, everyone is entitled to participating in socio-political issues,” he stated.
“The basis of Islam is that everyone is honest, sincere, and innocent unless proven otherwise,” he said. “We should allow people express themselves liberally.”
Rouhani said during the past one year his administration has tried to establish a calm atmosphere in universities while allowing different groups present their political ideas.
He went on to say that Islamization of human sciences never means chopping off parts of the human knowledge that relate to humanities.
“We might have some criticism with regards to humanities when they do not correspond to our Islamic teachings. However, we should criticize those parts rather than ruling them entirely out. Our mistake is that we want to scrap out some parts of science,” Rouhani stated. Even if some have certain critical points to offer about human sciences, they should put forward fresh words and more precise ideas instead of trying to cross out certain parts of sciences, he added.
Elsewhere in his address, President Rouhani called for cooperation between Iranian and foreign academic bodies.
“Interaction with world does not merely mean interaction in the political scene; rather, we should interact with the world in economic, scientific, and technological issues, as well.”
Averroes (1126-1198): "Have no fear searching for truth in sciences. Truth cannot contradict truth; sciences is in accord with God’s revelations. God has nothing to fear when you use your rational intelligence to discovering the universe and the causes of phenomenon. How unjust is the one raising obstacles between man and science: Science is the road to perfection. Opposing learning and applying science is contrasting with God’s purpose, since the divine project is to realizing such perfection”
The greatest catastrophe to befall Islam and the Muslims is the catastrophe that has conscripted the Nation against reason from our earliest history.
The consummate refusal of rationality and the war against enlightenment has locked all doors and windows against any attempts at illumination.
The problem is not merely a war against AVERROES (Ibn Rushd) and the burning of his books, nor is it merely the expulsion of other prominent proponents of reason; Arab Islamic history has built up an entire culture at odds with rationality.
Our culture has ended up stamped with this mustering against reason – not only lining up against specialists but inducing all students to hate reason, abhor thinking and imagine that this is what the Islamic religion demands of them.
The emotions of the entire Muslim Nation have been conscripted to this cause. It is directed not against the Muʽtazila school or any specific sects or tendencies that support the role of reason in the interests both of religious and mundane affairs, rather it is directed against the rationalist orientation in toto, down to its last detail.
Generations have now been raised abhorring reason, wary of thinking, fearful of rationality, harbouring hatred against rational thinkers and warring against them.
Averroes had a great impact on Christian Europe: he has been described as the "founding father of secular thought in Western Europe".
Jonathan Shaw, who retired as Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff in 2012, told The Telegraph that Qatar and Saudi Arabia were primarily responsible for the rise of the extremist Islam that inspires Isil terrorists.
"This is a time bomb that, under the guise of education, Wahhabi Salafism is igniting under the world really. And it is funded by Saudi and Qatari money and that must stop," said Gen Shaw. "And the question then is 'does bombing people over there really tackle that?' I don't think so. I'd far rather see a much stronger handle on the ideological battle rather than the physical battle."
Gen Shaw, 57, retired from the Army after a 31-year career... As Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff, he specialised in counter-terrorism and security policy.
All this has made him acutely aware of the limitations of what force can achieve. He believes that Isil can only be defeated by political and ideological means. Western air strikes in Iraq and Syria will, in his view, achieve nothing except temporary tactical success.
When it comes to waging that ideological struggle, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are pivotal.
"The root problem is that those two countries are the only two countries in the world where Wahhabi Salafism is the state religion – and Isil is a violent expression of Wahabist Salafism," said Gen Shaw. "The primary threat of Isil is not to us in the West: it's to Saudi Arabia and also to the other Gulf states."
The British and American air campaign would not "stop the support of people in Qatar and Saudi Arabia for this kind of activity," added Gen Shaw. "It's missing the point. It might, if it works, solve the immediate tactical problem.
The Western campaign is not addressing the fundamental problem of Wahhabi Salafism as a culture and a creed, which has got out of control and is still the ideological basis of Isil – and which will continue to exist even if we stop their advance in Iraq."
"I just have a horrible feeling that we're making things worse. We're entering into this in a way we just don't understand," said Gen Shaw. "I'm against the principle of us attacking without a clear political plan."