Saddam's Death, 64
attempt to destroy political holism in the middle east

See also: Page 63: januar 2016 and Page 65: februar 2016
also Page 41: Israel & The Gaza War and The Temple Revolution
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

Washington 2009: Joe 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.
Standing in the foyer of the CIA agency's headquarters in Langley, Virginia. before the wall of 89 stars representing the CIA staff who have died in the line of duty, Mr Joe 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." (Tim Shipman, Telegraph, 20-2-2009)

"There is only one antidote against propaganda, and that is a relevant sense of history and a strong collective memory. When we remember the lessons from the past, and when we remember what happened even a few days ago, then the job of the propagandists and their warmongering bosses, becomes much more difficult." (Paul de Rooij, PalestineChronicle 1-4-2003)

"Zionism [..] has transformed into an imperialistic claw used against the Arab nation. Zionism has partnered wit imperialism and participated in its economic and political plans. Moreover, it relies on its unfounded, historical belief for the purpose of destroying the Arab nation... This means maintaining the weak state of the Arab nation...
Zionism regards unity of Arabs as contradictory to its existence. Therefore, Zionism's line of defense is based on the principle that the Arab nation must be broken....
It is necessary for Zionism to revive all the old historical frictions that took place in the path of nationhood, so it can use them [..] to break up the fabric of Arab nations." (The Saddam's tapes, 1978-2001, page 67)

"A lot of rulers today still view principled people, who persist in defending their noble and just causes and who refuse to compromise at the expense of their peoples, their nations, the honour of their cause, their integrity and their principles, as a burden on them.
The policy of the United States still finds in this kind of genuine, honest and loyal people an obstacle before their evil and futile ambitions towards the world and humanity at large..." Saddam Hoessein, Oath and Speech, INA 17-10-2002

Page Index

"The West creates enemies; in the past it was the communism then it became Islam, and then it became Saddam Hussein for a different reason. Now, they want to create a new enemy represented by Bashar. That's why they say that the problem is the president so he has to leave. That is why we have to focus of the real problem, not to waste our time listening to what they say." (Bashar al-Assad, 9-11-2012)

"Syria is the heart of the Middle East. Everybody knows that. If the Middle East is sick, the whole world will be unstable. In 1991, when we started the peace process, we had a lot of hope. Now, after over 20 years, things are not at square one; they’re much below that square.

So the policy should be to help peace in the region, to fight terrorism, to promote secularism, to support this area economically, to help upgrade the mind and society like you did in your country. That is the supposed mission of the United States, not to launch wars. Launching war doesn’t make you a great power." (Bashar Al-Assad, 26-1-2015)

President Bashar, 'Le Figaro' interview 3-9-2013:

"How can the parliamentarians convince the French public that their country is secular, yet at the same time it supports extremism and sectarianism in other parts of the world? How can France advocate for democracy but yet one of its closest allies – Saudi Arabia – is still living in medieval times?"
"My message to the French Parliamentarians is: go back to the principles of the French Revolution that the whole world is proud of: Liberty, Justice, Equality."

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)

"We must become bigger than we have been: more courageous, greater in spirit, larger in outlook. We must become members of a new race, overcoming petty prejudice, owing our ultimate allegiance not to nations but to our fellow men within the human community." Haile Selassie

“Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned.., until there are no longer first-class and second class citizens of any nation..., until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes.., until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race...., until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained..." Haile Selassie 6-10-1963

Albert Schweitzer: "We Are All Guilty Of Inhumanity"

What really matters is that we should all of us realize that we are guilty of inhumanity. The horror of this realization should shake us out of our lethargy so that we can direct our hopes and our intentions to the coming of an era in which war will have no place.
This hope and this will can have but one aim: to attain, through a change in spirit, that superior reason which will dissuade us from misusing the power at our disposal.
Kant, in his essay on "Perpetual Peace", which appeared in 1795, and in other publications in which he touches upon the problem of peace, states his belief that peace will come only with the increasing authority of an international code of law, in accordance with which an international court of arbitration would settle disputes between nations.
This authority, he maintains, should be based entirely on the increasing respect which in time, and for purely practical motives, men will hold for the law as such. (Albert Schweitzer, Nobel Lecture, 4-11-1954)

"Here in the United States, we're united by a fundamental principle: we're all created equal and every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law. We believe that no matter who you are, if you work hard and play by the rules, you deserve the chance to follow your dreams and pursue your happiness. That's America's promise." Barack Obama, Huffington Post, 11-3-2013

Israel's Education Ministry: Don't promote humanism
By Uzi Baruch, Arutz Sheva, 31-12-2015

Noted Israeli authors have joined leftist politicians in outrage over the Education Ministry's decision to to disqualify a novel depicting a romance between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man from being taught in Israeli high schools. Dorit Rabinyan's "Gader Haya" (known in English as "Borderlife") was rejected out of fear the book would promote assimilation.

Dorit Rabinyan, author of the acclaimed PERSIAN BRIDES and STRAND OF A THOUSAND PEARLS returns in BORDERLIFE with a momentous novel, sensitive in its details and enthralling at its peaks.
She tells a story crisscrossed by blades of physical and emotional border lines and courageously marks the deceit in the separation between you and I, between us and them. (RightsDesk)

In Humanism of the Other, Emmanuel Levinas argues that it is not only possible but of the highest exigency to understand one's humanity through the humanity of others.
Based in a new appreciation for ethics, and taking new distances from the phenomenology of Hegel, Heidegger, Husserl,and Merleau-Ponty, the idealism of Plato and Kant, and the skepticism of Nietzsche and Blanchot, Levinas rehabilitates humanism and restores its promises. (University of Illinois Press).
Dorit Rabinyan's "Gader Haya" (known in English as "Borderlife") was rejected by Israel's Education Ministry because of the need to maintain "the identity and heritage of students in every sector" and the belief that "intimate relations between Jews and non-Jews threatens the separate identity."
Concern that "young people of adolescent age don't have the systemic view that includes considerations involving maintaing the identity of people and the significance of assimilation" was also cited as a reason for the novel's disqualification.

"I am so outraged!", A.B Yehoshua told Walla! News. "This is an excellent book that should be a best-seller and read by many people. It describes thing with sensitivity and truthfulness and this rejection seems absurd to me and unacceptable."
Novelist Haim Be'er also slammed the move, alluding to it as a political ploy by Education Minister Naftali Bennett to regain the trust of Jewish Home voters following his comments about the Duma suspects.
"I must say from my knowledge of the Am Oved [publishing house] he did the book a huge favor," Be'er asserted. "Tomorrow, God willing, Am Oved's book merchants will take the out the books that haven't been sold and it will become a bestseller." ... "I'm jealous Dorit Rabinyan won what I didn't win; let them disqualify me," Be'er added sarcastically.
In a more straightforward reaction, poet Natan Zach simply blasted the Education Minister as "a moron. What can you do against morons? Morons are the majority. We are the minority."

Moron: a foolish or stupid person - a person having an intelligence quotient of between 50 and 70, able to work under supervision.

Ya'alon: In choice between Iran and ISIS, I prefer ISIS
YNet News, 19-1-2016

Speaking at the Institute for National Security Studies' (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon sought to clarify that "Iran is our main enemy, after I heard voices saying different things."
The defense minister was likely referring to comments made by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot at the conference on Monday, who declared that "there are opportunities in the nuclear agreement with Iran. Hezbollah - that is the most serious threat."
Tehran, he said, "is a rogue regime with designs on a regional hegemony. Hezbollah is Iran's proxy, with the ability to declare war. Iran currently has terror infrastructure in place in five continents: Asia, Africa, Europe and both in South and North America."
The nuclear agreement signed between the Islamic Republic and world powers, the defense minister said, "pushed back the clock from three months to one year. If Iran feels economically secure, it can breakout and produce a bomb even faster."

Ya'alon doesn't put much stock in the Russians' ability to retake Syria from jihadists - including ISIS - who took over large swaths of land. "The Russians thought they'd get to the Euphrates River in three months," he said, noting the Russian army is not reaching its goals and failing to achieve much in the Golan Heights.
"There are achievements in the fighting against ISIS - led by the US," Ya'alon said. "ISIS is suffering serious defeats in Iraq and Syria."

KSA: Iran has a record of spreading sedition,
unrest and chaos in the region
Saudi Gazette, RIYADH – Jan 20, 2016

An official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated on Tuesday that since the revolution of 1979, Iran has established a record of spreading sedition, unrest and chaos in the region, in an effort to undermine the region’s security and stability.
“This was also in complete disregard for international law, agreements, treaties, and moral principles. On the other hand, the Kingdom has maintained a policy of restraint in spite of having suffered – as have other neighboring countries – the consequences of Iran’s continued aggressive policies,” the source said in a long statement, carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

The source said that Iranian policy is based primarily on the preamble of Iranian constitution and the directive of Ayatollah Khomeini, which is based on the idea of exporting revolution...
The statement noted that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has prepared a fact sheet to illustrate Iran’s aggressive policies over the last 35 years, and it categorically refutes the persistent lies spread by the Tehran regime, including the foreign minister’s article in The New York Times and his message to the UN secretary general.
Meanwhile, Adel Al-Jubeir, minister of foreign affairs, blamed Iran for its negative role in the region. Addressing a joint press conference with his French Counterpart Laurent Fabius here on Tuesday, Al-Jubeir said that Iran is blatantly interfering in the affairs of the region...

Bashar al-Assad: "My message to the French Parliamentarians is: go back to the principles of the French Revolution that the whole world is proud of: Liberty, Justice, Equality."

Ayatollah Khamenei & The Islamic Revolution
Speech delivered on January 9, 2016 (

If we compare the Revolution with other historic events that have happened in our country and in other parts of world, we will realize that the Revolution is unparalleled. It will take too long to compare the Islamic Revolution with other great revolutions. But we can compare the Revolution with other historic events that have taken place in our country.

For example, one may compare the Islamic Revolution to the movement for nationalization of oil, which was a historic event in our country: the people stepped into the arena, the people were present, which is why it is known as a national movement among political activists.
What were the demands of the movement for nationalization of oil? The demands were minimal. They were not after economic independence. They were not after political independence. They were not after total independence. Our oil was in the hands of the English. The demand of the movement for nationalization of the oil industry was to take away the privilege from the English. We wanted to have control over our own oil resources. This was not an extravagant demand. Of course, it was important, but it would not lead to total independence of the country.
During that movement, the people stepped into the arena just like they did during the Revolution and certain events took place, but the movement did not last more than two, three years. The movement was alive for only two, three years. The enemy managed to suppress the movement and put an end to it. After the movement had been suppressed, the terms of the contract with the English were made even worse for Iran.

The goal of the Islamic Revolution was not just to nationalize the oil industry. The Islamic Revolution was after total independence: political independence, economic independence, cultural independence. The Islamic Revolution started with these slogans and it was not comparable with the movement for nationalization of the oil industry.

Now let us compare the Islamic Revolution with the Constitutional Movement. The Constitutional Movement was a very important event in our country, but what were the demands of that movement? The demand was to limit the absolute power of the tyrannical monarchs. The monarch was to stay in power and rule, but his absolute power would be limited in certain ways. For example, a parliament was to be established. This was the demand of the Constitutional Movement.
Many people stepped into the arena.., but the enemy suppressed the movement and controlled it. The movement was essentially stomped out.
After the Constitutional Movement was suppressed, tyranny was strengthened. That is to say, fifteen years after the signing of the constitution, Reza Khan came to power, a man whose tyranny was not comparable to anybody who ruled before him. He was oppressive and abusive and a servant of foreigners. The English were in control of everything.

What about the Islamic Revolution? The Islamic Revolution was not after limiting the power of monarchs. It demanded an end to monarchy. It challenged the concept of monarchy.
It is the people who own their country. Why would a monarch be allowed to dominate the people of a country? Why would the people have to carry out his orders? Basically, the Revolution put an end to monarchy. It destroyed the concept of absolute monarchy.

The famous French Revolution, which is known as the Great French Revolution, was a genuine revolution, a comprehensive revolution with the presence of the people. The French Revolution finally achieved victory after those bitter events, but it barely lasted for fifteen years.
The French Revolution was against monarchy, yet less than fifteen years later, Napoleon started his monarchy with absolute powers. Later on, the revolution was completely forgotten. The same people who had been overthrown and the same family who had been deposed by the revolution returned to power and restarted their rule...
It is very important that a revolution manages to survive, keep itself alive and confront its enemies and defeat them...

Now I would like to discuss the issue of elections.
Elections are one of the main issues in our country. In fact, elections give the Iranian nation more energy...
When a person feels this sense of responsibility, he plays his role in safeguarding the Revolution. The presence of the people is one of the factors that disappoints the enemy. This is why I emphasize and insist that everybody should take part in our elections.
I have repeatedly said that even those who do not agree with the Islamic Republic should take part in our elections in order to safeguard the country and raise its status...

'I only support faithful and revolutionary individuals'

Because we might not be able to gather information about each and every candidate before voting, it appears to me that electoral lists are a good idea.
Personally, when I am voting, I consider the personality of those who have prepared the electoral list. If I come to the conclusion that the list has been prepared by faithful and revolutionary individuals, I trust them and vote for the candidates on their list.
But if I realize that those who have prepared the list do not attach a lot of importance to the issues of the Revolution, to religious issues and to the independence of the country, if I realize that they sympathize with America and other such powers, I disregard their list.
I believe this is a good strategy...

Rouhani enters Iran election row over barred (reformist) candidates
Daily Star, 21-2-1016

Iran's president Hassan Rouhani entered a row over thousands of disqualified election candidates Thursday, taking a barely veiled swipe at a powerful committee that chooses who can run for parliament.
Rouhani's intervention came days after it emerged that only one percent of reformists seeking to become lawmakers had been deemed eligible to contest the ballot on Feb. 26.
Reformists have been largely sidelined since the disputed 2009 re-election of hardline conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In a sign of their discontent, few politicians from the reformist camp stood in Iran's last parliamentary election in 2012. But the movement has regrouped since Rouhani, a moderate cleric, took office in 2013, raising hopes of a comeback.
The vast rejection of reformist candidates Monday, however led to claims next month's vote would not be credible. Rouhani, speaking in Tehran to an audience of provincial governors, appeared to criticize the Guardian Council, the committee that so far has barred around 60 percent of candidates in total.
"It is called the House of the Nation, not the house of one faction," he said to loud applause, implying that not only conservatives should contest the election.
"We must create hope, enthusiasm, competition. If there is one faction and the other (with seven or 10 million people) is not there, they don't need the February 26 elections..." Rouhani added, laughing.

Russian airstrikes are working in Syria
By Liz Sly, Washington Post, January 19, 2016

BEIRUT — Russia’s military intervention in Syria is finally generating gains on the ground for Syrian government forces, tilting the battlefield in favor of President Bashar al-Assad to such an extent that the Obama administration’s quest for a negotiated settlement to the war suddenly looks a lot less likely to succeed.
After 3½ months of relentless airstrikes that have mostly targeted the Western-backed opposition, they have proved sufficient to push beyond doubt any likelihood that Assad will be removed from power... The gains on the ground are also calling into question whether there can be meaningful negotiations to end a conflict Assad and his allies now seem convinced they can win.

“The situation on the ground in Syria is definitely not conducive to negotiations right now,” said Lina Khatib of the Paris-based Arab Reform Initiative think tank.
Russia and the Syrian government are objecting to a U.S.-backed list of opposition delegates drawn up in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh last month that includes representatives of some of the main rebel groups, saying that they won’t negotiate with people they term “terrorists.”
Russia is pushing instead for the inclusion of a group of government-approved opposition figures who have remained loyal to Assad and also of Syria’s Kurds, who are fighting a somewhat different war on their own behalf in northeastern Syria.

With Syrian troops and their allies gaining ground on multiple fronts in the north, the south and the center of the country with the support of Russian airstrikes, there is no longer any reason for Assad to feel pressure to step down, and the United States has pulled back from its insistence that he do so. Nor is there any reason to think that either the government or the Russians will be willing to make concessions, whether before or during negotiations, analysts say.

The Russian intervention got off to a rocky start last October, with initial attempts by Syrian government forces to advance under Russian air cover stalled by an onslaught of dozens of antitank missiles that had been supplied to U.S.-vetted groups by the United States and its Arab allies...
To that extent, the airstrikes have worked. The supply of the missiles has since slowed down, rebel fighters say, as the intensity of the airstrikes has steadily increased. The targeting by Russian warplanes of supply lines from Turkey has impeded access to weapons as well as food and humanitarian supplies, according to the rebels. At the same time, Syrian troops have advanced on several key fronts.

The Mystery of the "Moderate Rebels"
David Bromwich, Huffington Post Blog, 2-10-2015

"Who Is Fighting Whom?"
Such was the question posed by a Times analytic chart at the breaking of the first news of Russian entry into the Syrian war. The US, France, and Britain are said to support "More moderate elements among the rebel forces in Syria."
That is one way of putting it; another way is "less extreme"; and these two phrases recur in the self-portraits of the Islamist commanders who want continued US support and subsidy.
The ambivalence of the Times echoes the ambivalence of US policy:

Both the government and the newspaper that sets the pattern for the mainstream media have taught us that al-Qaeda is the sworn enemy of US interests; that al-Nusra is the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda; and that a pact with either terrorist sect, even for the sake of fighting against ISIS, would be desperate and self-destructive.
But we are urged at the same time to suppose -- the complicated relationships of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and Israel encourage it -- that al-Nusra is perhaps a milder version of al-Qaeda and that both are necessary allies in the titanic struggle to overthrow Assad and defeat ISIS in a single stroke.
The sheer quantity of self-deception that is required to support this fantasy ought to be obvious; but the fantasy will tempt us until our leaders break once and for all with the dreamers of the Third Force.

Libya’s New Government Unveiled, Stuck in Tunisia
Libya Dawn Militia Won't Let 'Unity Government' Back
by Jason Ditz,, January 19, 2016

Libya’s new “unity” Prime Minister Fayez Siraj today unveiled his new unity cabinet at a high-profile UN-backed ceremony in Tunis, the capital city of neighboring Tunisia. The hope was that this unified government would gain some control over the country.
Things aren’t looking good on day one, however, as the “unity government” quickly became a government-in-exile, when they tried to return to Libya and were stopped at the border by the Libyan Dawn militia, who are not going to let them back in.
The cabinet isn’t government of anything without approval from the parliament, which is based in Tobruk, and their inability to even get back into Libya has already lead to two members of the nation’s “presidential council” tendering their resignation just hours after their appointment.
The UN pushed the two parliaments, one based in Tobruk and one in Tripoli, to come to some sort of unity agreement, but neither side appeared particularly on board with the plan, meaning ultimately they have created a government on paper with no more power than any of the other Libyan governments around at any given time.

Libya is now a stateless anarchy
By Prof. Henry Francis B. Espiritu,
Global Research, March 16, 2015

Presently, we cannot call Libya a State, for after US/NATO armed intervention and regime change, practically all Libyan villages, from North to South, are now run by the various tribes that was once united under Gaddafi. Libya is in the state of civil war showing the inevitability of what Hobbes called “the ugly, brutish, nasty and chaotic state of nature” characterizing political anarchy.
In this post-Gaddafi Libya, the anarchic and lawless militias are wrecking havoc in different parts of the country — each fighting each other for supremacy. The so-called “Islamist” Jemaa-Islamiyya and ISIS forces are busy carving out their own respective territories in the once secular and progressive socialist Libya.
Libya is now a stateless anarchy since various tribes and militias are declaring their own sort-of states in various parts of the country.
NATO interventionism and US Hegemony has totally wrecked Libya and Libya as one of the recent casualty of the so-called “Arab Spring” turned out as hell-hole of internecine, civil, regional and tribal wars instead of establishing “democracy” in Libyan soil.

Ayelet Shaked: It’s time for an independent Kurdish state
By Rudaw, 20-1-2016

Israel’s Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked called for the establishment of an independent Kurdistan and regional cooperation between the two states. “It is time to help them,” said Shaked according to Times of Israel.
The justice minister who was speaking at an annual INSS security conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, added: “We must openly call for the establishment of a Kurdish state that separates Iran from Turkey, one which will be friendly towards Israel.

Shaked highlighted shared interests between Israel and Iraqi Kurdistan, particularly in fighting jihadist groups in the region.
Despite close cultural ties and Israel’s sizeable Jewish Kurdish community, there is no official diplomatic relations between the two.
This is not the first time top Israeli officials express support for the creation of a Kurdish state.
In a speech at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies in 2014 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "We need to support the Kurdish aspiration for independence. They deserve it."

Flashback 2011: The Kurdish connection
Guy Bechor, YNet News, 3-8-2011

Rather than securing Mideastern hegemony, Turkey itself may fall apart. This is the case after the Kurdish leadership in the country declared on July 15 the establishment of a democratic Kurdish autonomy in southeastern Turkey, with its capital in Diyarbakir. When Erdogan heard about the declaration he was furious, as the possible future implication of this is Turkey’s collapse.

In Syria, that very same day, we saw another important development. For the first time, a Kurdish liaison committee was established that brings together all the new Kurdish parties in Syria on the basis of the “Kurdish people’s unity.” They demand Kurdish autonomy in the wake of the Assad regime or at least a federation within Syria.
The Syrian Kurds enjoy a particularly sympathetic home front in the Kurdish autonomy in Iraq.
Slowly, the pieces of the Turkish puzzle in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran are connecting into a giant state that will be home to 18 million people. At this time already, the Kurdish region of Iraq is in fact a state with its own flag, leadership and sovereignty....
And another thing: The Kurdish state will be a close ally of Israel, just like South Sudan. The Kurds are close to Israel and view it as a twin sister with a difficult history and non-Arabic identity.

What we see are four states hostile to Israel in one way or another
that will have to fall apart in order to give rise to an ally of Israel.

A gift for Israel
Times of Israel, 10-8-2013

While Turkey, Iraq, and other countries balk at indications of increased Kurdish self-rule, an independent Kurdish state in the Middle East would be a gift for Israel, many Kurdish and Israeli experts believe.
“Kurds are deeply sympathetic to Israel and an independent Kurdistan will be beneficial to Israel,” argued Kurdish journalist Ayub Nuri in July...
With an independent Kurdish state, first of all Israel will have a genuine friend in the region for the first time, and second, Kurdistan will be like a buffer zone in the face of the Turkey, Iran and Iraq.”

Photo Gili Yaari: Israelis show their support for the Kurdish people in a Tel Aviv demonstration. September 2013

Erdogan: No more talks with separatist terror organizations
Akdoğan: "We should provide public order"
Turkish Weekly, January 20, 2016

Ankara will no longer engage in contact with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party(PKK) and will instead “liquidate” all PKK militants through ongoing security operations, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has vowed.

“We know that the only goal of the separatist terror organization is to fulfil the duty it has been tasked with by its master..,” Erdoğan said on Jan. 20.
“So in the coming period, neither the separatist terror organization, nor the party under its control, nor other structures will ever be accepted as counterpart. That affair is over,” he added, addressing a large group of neighborhood and village heads (muhtars) at a regular meeting at his presidential palace in Ankara.
“Their organization, deputies and municipalities will answer to the judiciary for what they have done. We will put the region back on its feet again, along with our nation. We will sit with our nation and our citizens after our security forces have entirely liquidated terrorists in the region, and we will decide what is to be done for a radical solution to this issue.

The government, state agencies, and military never directly cite the name of the PKK in official statements, instead describing it either as “the separatist terrorist organization” or its members as “terrorists.”
A series of judicial investigations have recently been launched against executives of the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) frequently accuse of having organic links with the PKK.

Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan denied claims that the government is conducting secret talks with the imprisoned leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, or any other PKK leaders.
Meetings with the organization [PKK] or İmralı are out of question... Our government continues to embrace our people. Our services and investments continue. The reform process is ongoing. We should provide public order for the security of our people’s life and property. That is how we defeat the terrorist organization’s plans through our security policies..” he said.

Davutoglu: Turkey won’t accept Kurdish inclusion in Syria peace talks
Ahmet Gümüşbaş, Turkish Weekly, January 20, 2016

Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stated that his country would never accept the inclusion of Kurdish groups in upcoming peace talks in Geneva...
We will never accept that YPG is being seen as a legitimate power on the opposition side. We will never allow this to happen because it is a direct threat to Turkey,” Mr. Davutoglu told reporters, adding that the Kurdish militant group is nonetheless deemed as the U.S.’s most effective partner on the battlefield in the campaign against Islamic State.
He further highlighted that Turkey considers Kurdish militants and their political affiliates in Syria as indistinct from the PKK, an outlawed group acknowledged by the European Union and the U.S. as a terrorist organization..."

Concerning the political transition of Syria that is expected to begin following the peace talks next Monday, Davutoglu restated that Mr. Assad must step down “as early as possible.”

Crafty al-Qaida Affiliate Looking to Win US War on IS
U.S. policy is playing right into the group's hands
Jeff Seldin, Voice of America, January 20, 2016

Slowly but surely al-Qaida’s Syria affiliate - Jabhat al Nusra - appears to be positioning itself to emerge as the victor in the U.S.-led war against the Islamic State terror group.
Even more concerning, according to some analysts, is that U.S. policy is playing right into the group's hands with its “excessive” focus on destroying Islamic State while at the same time providing only marginal support to moderate opposition groups.

“Jabhat al Nusra has weakened the moderate opposition and penetrated other Sunni opposition groups in Syria so thoroughly that it is poised to benefit most from the destruction of ISIS and the fall or transition of the Assad regime,” says the Institute for the Study of War in a report Wednesday.

The report goes on to warn that unless the U.S. finds a way to change course, the result could be exchanging one terrorist-led proto-state for another.
“The likeliest outcome of the current strategy in Syria, if it succeeds, is the de facto establishment and ultimate declaration of a Jabhat al Nusra emirate in Syria,” the report said, serving as “a central node in the global al-Qaida network” to export violence to the West.
The group has the same objective and the same ultimate end state as the Islamic State,” said ISW analyst and report co-author Jennifer Cafarella.
But unlike Islamic State, which has sought to impose its caliphate, the report’s authors argue Jabhat al Nusra has managed to intertwine itself with the Syrian population and embed itself within key opposition groups.

Defence ministers meet in Paris to review anti-ISIS strategy
"Disturbed by the Russian bombing"
Middle East Online, 20-1-2016

PARIS - The defence ministers of seven countries leading the battle against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria will meet in Paris on Wednesday to review their strategy and boost their resources.
Co-hosted by the French and US defence ministers, Jean-Yves Le Drian and Ash Carter, the meeting will be attended by their Australian, British, Dutch, German and Italian counterparts.

Russia, a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has not been invited.. Moscow's air campaign has been criticised for focusing on the moderate opposition to Assad.
"I'm increasingly disturbed by the Russian bombing," British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told reporters in Paris. "We've had estimates of several hundred civilians killed now through the use of unguided munitions in civilian areas, clearly aimed at opposition groups that are fighting Assad, and that I deplore," he added.

ISIS has seen some setbacks, losing around a quarter of its self-proclaimed caliphate, including the Iraqi city of Ramadi to US-backed local forces last month. But the coalition faces major challenges, particularly the lack of ground forces willing to fight ISIS in Syria, since most groups are focused on toppling Assad.
Carter has repeatedly urged other countries in the approximately 60-member coalition to step up their participation, particularly Arab and Gulf countries that are more focused on fighting rebels in Yemen.

West ignoring grave threat from IS in Libya, Israeli terror experts warn
By Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, January 21, 2016

Libya is the only country besides Syria and Iraq where IS controls a large territory and controls government infrastructure, including a power plant, port, and economical ports,” said Reuven Erlich, a former senior officer in military intelligence and currently the head of the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC).
“We think that IS’s establishment in Libya poses a grave threat and it needs to be taken very seriously by Europe and the US.”

For over 40 years, Gaddafi promoted economic democracy and used the nationalized oil wealth to sustain progressive social welfare programs for all Libyans.
One group that has suffered immensely from NATO’s bombing campaign is the nation’s women... The United Nations Human Rights Council praised Gaddafi for his promotion of women’s rights.
Nowadays, the new “democratic” Libyan regime is clamping down on women’s rights. The new ruling tribes are tied to traditions that are strongly patriarchal. Extremist Islamic forces see gender equality as a Western perversion. (Global Research, 19-10-2014)
Several researchers at ITIC, which operates under the Israel Intelligence and Heritage Commemorations Center, spent a full year examining IS’s activity in Libya, and this week are publishing their worrying conclusions in a 175-paper report, entitled “ISIS in Libya: a Major Regional and International Threat.”
“So far, there hasn’t been an effective response by the international community,” Erlich told The Times of Israel. “The American and European strategy focuses on IS’s infrastructure in Syria and Iraq. But it all but ignores Libya. Libya is not just another country. It’s a country where IS rules over territory — the only place besides Iraq and Syria where it actually rules over parts of land – and therefore the US and Europe would be well advised to pay more attention to this issue and compose a strategy relating to Libya. Otherwise, the problem will soon find itself in their backyard.”

There has been the “occasional targeted killing of a terrorist,” but by and large in Libya, Erlich lamented, the Americans and the Europeans “have no comprehensive strategy regarding the combat against IS. And that’s a problem that should not be ignored.”

Since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the country has been in a perpetual state of civil war, making it fertile ground for the infiltration of a terrorist group such as IS...
“The branch of ISIS in Libya exploited the lack of a functioning government and the absence of international intervention to establish itself in the region around Sirte and from there to aspire to spread throughout Libya,” according to the ITIC report.
“The establishment of ISIS in Libya increases the chaos and anarchy already plaguing the country, making it difficult to stabilize a central government,” the 175-page report reads.
Outside the country, IS’s primary target is Tunisia, due to its relative weakness, and also because it has symbolic value as the birthplace of the Arab Spring, according to the researchers. In the future, however, IS may increase its support for jihadist organizations in sub-Saharan Africa, such as Niger, Chad, Mali and Sudan, the report warns.
The Libyan branch of IS also has close ties with Nigeria’s jihadist Boko Haram and with Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, the group’s franchise in the Sinai Peninsula. Through Libya’s 1,115 kilometer-long border with Egypt, the local IS fighters may also smuggle weapons into the country, which may make their way to Gaza, the researchers posit.

Flashback: The Philosophy of War
Film Depicts Bernard-Henri Lévy's Role in Libya
By Mathieu von Rohr, Spiegel 4-4-2012

What does this man in a suit and open-collared shirt want from me? That seems to be the question that Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, leader of the Libyan rebels, was asking himself the first time he sat across from the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy.
The surreal scene took place on March 5, 2011 in Benghazi, only hours before the Libyan National Transitional Council was officially constituted, and two weeks before French fighter jets began bombing Libyan tanks....

Next to Abdul-Jalil, the Frenchman looks as out of place as a well-dressed philosopher with long, wavy hair can look in a war zone. The Libyan looks skeptical. He has no idea who this man is. "Mr. Abdul-Jalil," Lévy says solemnly, speaking French. "I am no politician. I am no man of action. I am merely a writer. But like you, I believe that it is better to act than to speak." "Give me five minutes!" Lévy replies. Then he continues in English: "Since my arrival, I have recognized that we can provide you with three things," which he then proceeds to list: First, a no-fly zone, and second, the bombardment of the airports in Sabha and Sirt, and of then Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's bunker in Tripoli. Third, Lévy says, Gadhafi can no longer be accepted as Libya's representative internationally, which Abdul-Jalil and his Transitional Council will do in the future.

I have a friend in France

Abdul-Jalil listens motionlessly. Lévy is improvising the speech of his life. "Now, I have a friend -- in France," he says. "Who is Mr. Sarkozy. I'm not a partisan of Sarkozy, but we are friends. Personal friends. We will take the plane tomorrow, we are in Paris Monday morning and President Sarkozy will receive you and with all the others -- or your representatives -- at Palais de l'Élysée. This is the first step toward recognition. France will be the first country to officially receive the head of your council."

Roussel, the photographer who filmed the scene, still finds it spellbinding today. "That was the decisive moment when I realized that something unbelievable was happening in front of me. So I started filming." He laughs. "What a monumental bluff," he says. "He had to have a lot of guts to make such an offer without having spoken with Sarkozy first. I still remember what I said to Bernard afterwards: And what do we do now? He replied: That's easy. Now we call Sarkozy."

The president asked for some time to think about it. After two hours, he called back to announce that he would receive Abdul-Jalil in Paris. Things went very quickly after that. The Libyans came to the Elysée Palace, and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé was furious because he was only told about the meeting afterwards. France recognized the Transitional Council as Libya's government and convinced the Americans and the British to follow suit.
On March 19, hardly 48 hours after the United Nations Security Council had adopted its resolution on Libya, French jets attacked Gadhafi's tanks. A philosopher in a white Dior shirt had led the West into war. ....

More than a year after Lévy's first visit to Benghazi, Libya still isn't a proper country. Levy refuses to allow pessimists to diminish his campaign. A year ago, when he was sitting with Abdul-Jalil, he didn't know how his bet would turn out, he says. "Today I am happy and worried, but mostly happy. I believe deeply that I was right. In fact, I don't have a shadow of a doubt that I was."

Bernard-Henri Levy would not have gone to Libya
had “he not been Jewish”, a friend of 'the victims', 24-11-2011

French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy said that “it is as a Jew“ that he “participated in the political adventure in Libya,” in the first National Convention organized by the Representative Council of Jewish Organizations of France (CRIF).
“I would not have done if I had not been Jewish,” said the philosopher, before an audience of nearly 900 people, meeting in Paris, adding: “I wore my flag in fidelity to my name and my loyalty to Zionism and Israel.“

Invited to speak on this subject, Bernard-Henri Levy, who published a book its action in Libya, explained the reasons which led to eight months ago to engage in the fight against the regime of Colonel Gaddafi, who was killed Oct. 20 last by the rebels near the NTC.
“I find it sometimes come to be proud to be French “ ”What I did during those few months, I’ve done for many reasons. First as French...“
“I did it for reasons even more important” , he said: “the belief in the universality of human rights (…). I am among those who have always been tempted to stand in support of victims.”

"We were dealing with one of the worst enemies of Israel"

“There is another reason which little has been said, but on which I have yet many extended: that public, which has never let go is that I was Jewish..."
”I would not have done if I had not been Jewish,“ he said. “Like all Jews of the world, I was worried”
”What I have done all these months, I did as a Jew. And like all Jews of the world, I was worried . Despite the legitimate anxiety is an uprising to be welcomed with favor, we were dealing with one of the worst enemies of Israel. “ (RTL France 2012 - Translation: extremeprejudiceusa)

Tunisian protests reach the capital
Tunisia's economy has been hard hit by political instability
The New Arab, 22 January, 2016

Demonstrators in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia and in other parts of the country took to the streets in fresh protests over unemployment and poverty, as the government warned from "infiltrators".
Several young people burnt a security checkpoint on Thursday evening and setup roadblocks with burning tyres on the main road in Hay al-Tadamon (al-Tadamon neighbourhood) in the capital. Hay al-Tadamon is one of the largest neighbourhoods in the city with a high rate of unemployed youths and has seen so much activity during the Tunisian revolution.
The Tunisian government warned in a statement that "terrorist groups" could exploit the state of chaos to infiltrate the protesters and carry out attacks.

Protests and clashes with security forces started in Kasserine following the death on Saturday of an unemployed man who was electrocuted atop a power pole near the governor's office...
"It's as if we were back in 2010-2011," Al-Shuruk newspaper wrote, referring to the revolution that overthrew dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Despite the success of Tunisia's political transition in the past five years, the authorities have failed to resolve the problems of social exclusion and regional disparities.
President Beji Caid Essebsi has acknowledged his government had "inherited a very difficult situation" with "700,000 unemployed and 250,000 of them young people who have degrees".
Tunisia's economy has been hard hit by political instability combined with militant attacks that have hobbled its vital tourism sector.

De Mistura: Riyadh is obstructing Syria talks in Geneva
Syrian Arab News Agency, 22 January 2016

Washington, SANA – The United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura criticized Saudi Arabia for undermining the efforts of reaching a political solution for the crisis in Syria.
“Riyadh is complicating his efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the Syrian conflict by trying to tightly control which opposition groups will be allowed to participate in the negotiations,” Foreign policy Magazine quoted de Mistura as saying.
In his confidential January 18 briefing to the UN Security Council, which was obtained exclusively by Foreign Policy, de Mistura complained to the council that the Saudi-backed coalition and its “sponsors insist on the primacy and exclusivity of their role as ‘THE’ opposition delegation.”
He added that “Parties disagree not only on substance, but what concerns me is that they also question that the UN could or should exercise its discretion in ‘finalizing’ the opposition list.”
The diplomat appealed to the United States, Russia, and other key powers to back his troubled mediation efforts, saying he will not invite specific opposition groups to upcoming peace talks in Geneva unless the main outside players in the Syrian conflict all sign off on the list, according to Foreign Policy.
Council diplomats and other observers say that de Mistura’s remarks were aimed at prodding the United States to apply pressure on the Saudis to back down and allow a larger slate of opposition figures to participate in the talks

Saudi-Arabia: We don't accept the concept of 'Loyal Opposition'

In parliamentary systems of government, the term loyal opposition is a term applied collectively to the opposition parties in the legislature to indicate that the non-governing parties may oppose the actions of the sitting cabinet while remaining loyal to the source of the government's power.
The phrase is derived from John Hobhouse's use in 1826 in a debate in the British parliament of the term His Majesty's Loyal Opposition. It is intended to illustrate that Members of Parliament in a country's legislature may oppose the policies of the incumbent government, while maintaining deference to the higher authority of the state and the larger framework within which democracy operates. (Wikipedia info)

One Belt, One Road: China Extends a Helping Hand to the Mideast
Sputniks News, 22-1-2015

Chinese President Xi Jinping is visiting Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran as part of a five-day trip, which has seen Beijing ink billion-dollar deals and boost ties in the Middle East at a time when Washington's presence in the oil-rich region is becoming less pronounced.
Xi's tour is largely focused on economic and energy cooperation with the Arab world, the South China Morning Post noted. But "it is also a mission to forge closer political, diplomatic and military ties with countries and to promote China's image and influence as a global power, resembling what the Middle Kingdom was 2,000 years ago," the newspaper asserted.

Xi's tour first brought him to Saudi Arabia, China's largest oil supplier, earlier this week. The Chinese president and King Salman agreed to foster energy cooperation between the two countries... In addition, China announced that it plans to finalize "a comprehensive free trade agreement" with the Gulf Cooperation Council later this year...
Xi later traveled to Egypt. China's state-run news agency Xinhua described the ties between the two countries as a "comprehensive strategic partnership." Incidentally, the same formula was applied with regard to China's relations with the oil kingdom and Iran.
The two-day visit of the Chinese president to the North African nation produced more than 20 agreements covering civil aviation, electricity, higher education, science, media, banking and trade.
The Chinese president said that Beijing plans to invest as much as $15 billion in Egypt's economy as both countries agreed to promote cooperation under Xi's signature foreign policy initiative, known as the One Belt, One Road.
Ahead of his visit to the Islamic Republic, Xi noted that Beijing wants "to strengthen strategic cooperation with Iran." He also announced plans to provide humanitarian aid to Syria, Libya, Yemen, Lebanon and Jordan amounting to almost $35 million in 2016.

A new economic paradigm emerges - CLSA investors forum

At the heart of One Belt, One Road lies the creation of an economic land belt that includes countries on the original Silk Road through Central Asia, West Asia, the Middle East and Europe, as well as a maritime road that links China’s port facilities with the African coast, pushing up through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean.
The project aims to redirect the country’s domestic overcapacity and capital for regional infrastructure development to improve trade and relations with Asean, Central Asian and European countries.

Work together for a bright future
of China-Iran relations: President Xi
Tehran, Jan 22, 2016, Islamic Republic News Agency

Publishing an article prior to his upcoming visit to Tehran, President Xi voiced China readiness 'to join hands with Iran to renew the Silk Road spirit and create an ever better future for China-Iran relations.'
The article, titled 'Work Together for a Bright Future of China-Iran Relations' was translated into Persian and published on Thursday by the Iranian newspaper Iran.

'This will be my first trip to Iran, yet like many other Chinese, I do not feel like a stranger in your ancient and beautiful country, thanks to the Silk Road that linked our two great nations for centuries and to the many legendary stories recorded in history books of our friendly exchanges.
Over 2,000 years ago during the West Han Dynasty in China, the Chinese envoy Zhang Qian's deputy came to Iran and received warm welcome. Seven centuries later during the Tang and Song dynasties, many Iranians came to China's Xi'an and Guangzhou to study, practice medicine and do business. In the 13th century, the famous Iranian poet Saadi wrote about his unforgettable travel to Kashgar, Xinjiang. In the 15th century, a renowned Chinese navigator Zheng He from the Ming Dynasty led seven maritime expeditions, which took him to Hormuz in southern Iran three times...
It almost seemed that our two countries were just a camel-ride or a boat trip away from each other. Indeed, the thousand-mile-long land and maritime silk roads made it possible for two ancient civilizations and peoples to embrace and befriend each other. As Saadi wrote, those that are far away and are of times long past deserve to be cherished more.

In history, China and Iran made important contribution to opening the Silk Road and promoting exchanges between Eastern and Western civilizations. The China-Iran friendly exchanges in the 45 years of our diplomatic relations have continued to embody the Silk Road spirit of peace, cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit.
Since the inception of our diplomatic ties in 1971, the China-Iran relationship has stood the test of international changes and maintained a momentum of sound and steady development. We have given each other mutual understanding and mutual trust in good times and bad...
Frequent contacts and exchanges between leaders of our two countries play a major role in guiding the growth of our bilateral relations...
In 2013, I put forward the proposal of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which received positive response from Iran....
Our development strategies are highly compatible, which creates huge potential for cooperation. Cooperation between China and Iran under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative may focus on the following areas:

-- Enhancing political mutual trust to cement the foundation for cooperation. Mutual trust ensures success while distrust spells failure. This is true for state-to-state relations as well as interpersonal relationship.
-- Pursuing win-win outcomes and common prosperity. After more than 30 years of reform and opening up, the Chinese economy has undergone a historic transformation, now ranking the second in the world... China will work to synergize its development strategy with that of Iran and deepen win-win cooperation..
-- Promoting connectivity and expanding practical cooperation. Connectivity is the artery of the Belt and Road Initiative. In building connectivity, we should give priority to Asian countries and start with transportation infrastructure...
-- Upholding openness and inclusiveness and encouraging inter-civilization exchange.

The Chinese people often say, the value of friendship lies in heart-to-heart communication. A Persian proverb also goes, there is telepathy between hearts. Different countries, nations and civilizations should carry out exchanges and mutual learning and live in harmony with each other.

The long distance between Beijing and Tehran is no obstacle to the interaction or cooperation between China and Iran, nor to the friendship and exchanges between our peoples. China is ready to join hands with Iran to renew the Silk Road spirit and create an ever better future for China-Iran relations.

Khamenei: "They (the US) never behave in a sincere manner"
Ahl al-Bayt News Agency, January 24, 2016

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (spiritual leader Iran), met Saturday afternoon with Xi Jinping, the President of the People’s Republic of China, and his accompanying delegation. President Hassan Rouhani (political leader) was also present at the meeting.
Khamenei described the statements of the President of the People’s Republic of China about the necessity to revive the silk road and to develop relations among the countries located on this route as a completely reasonable and acceptable idea, further saying: “The Islamic Republic of Iran will never forget China’s cooperation during the time of sanctions.”

[Khamenei] stated that American policies towards Iran are worse and more hostile than those of other western countries. He added: “These hostile policies have caused the people of Iran and the officials of our country to look for developing relations with independent countries.” ...
He described the American claim – the so-called formation of “the coalition to fight against terrorism” – as a deception, stating: “The Americans have the same outlook on all issues and they never behave in a sincere manner.”

President Xi Jinping expressed elation at travelling to Iran and thanked the government and people of Iran for their friendly and genuine feelings....
He said: “Some superpowers are trying to create a monopoly and to impose the law of the jungle where “you are either with us or with our enemy”.., but the progress of emerging economies has taken away the monopoly of power from their hands and it has created a suitable environment for the ideas and policies of independent governments.”
Xi Jinping pointed to the numerous privileges that Iran enjoys in terms of geography, manpower and energy, saying: “Iran and China’s economy complement each other. On this trip, we have reached an agreement about formulating a plan for a 25-year strategic cooperation and we are ready to increase and deepen our cooperation in cultural, educational, technological, military and security areas as strategic partners.”

Ahl al-Bayt is a phrase meaning, literally, "People of the House" or "Family of the House". Within the Islamic tradition, the term refers to the family of the Islamic prophet Muhammad."
The term ahl al-bayt (the people of the house) is used in the Qur'an as a term of respect for wives, referring to Abraham's wife Sarah (Q. 11:73), for example, and to the Prophet Muhammad's wives, who are declared to be purified by divine act: "God's wish is to remove uncleanness from you" (Q. 33:32-33)."

US ‘remains concerned’ about Iranian activities in other countries
The National (UAE), January 24, 2016

RIYADH // The United States remains concerned about Iranian activities in other countries, secretary of state John Kerry said on Saturday as he sought to reassure Arab Gulf allies over the lifting of economic sanctions against Iran.
Mr Kerry highlighted Iran’s “support for terrorist groups like Hizbollah” after meeting his Saudi counterpart Adel Al Jubeir and other GCC foreign ministers in Riyadh, including the UAE’s Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed.
Mr Al Jubeir said he did not see a “coming together” of the US and Iran.
“Overall I think the United States is very aware of the danger of Iran’s mischief and nefarious activities ... I don’t believe the United States is under any illusion as to what type of government Iran is”, Mr Al Jubeir said.
Iran remains the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism,” he said, adding that Arab states are ready “to confront” Iran’s interference.

A senior State Department official earlier told journalists that “lessening tensions is an important objective”.

Saudi cleric Aidh al-Qarni. He is on the United States do not fly list
and was barred entry in 2012 and 2015 to attend a convention in Chicago

Al-Jubeir: We are the victims of terrorism
By Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeur, New York Times, 19-1-2016

THE world is watching Iran for signs of change, hoping it will evolve from a rogue revolutionary state into a respectable member of the international community.
But Iran, rather than confronting the isolation it has created for itself, opts to obscure its dangerous sectarian and expansionist policies, as well as its support for terrorism, by leveling unsubstantiated charges against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Iranian government’s behavior has been consistent since the 1979 revolution. The constitution that Iran adopted states the objective of exporting the revolution. As a consequence, Iran has supported violent extremist groups, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen and sectarian militias in Iraq.
Hezbollah, Iran’s surrogate, tries to control Lebanon and wages war against the Syrian opposition — and in the process helps the Islamic State flourish.
It is clear why Iran wants Bashar al-Assad of Syria to remain in power: In its 2014 report on terrorism, the State Department wrote that Iran views Syria “as a crucial causeway to its weapons supply route to Hezbollah.”
The report also noted, citing United Nations data, that Iran provided arms, financing and training “to support the Assad regime...”
In an outlandish lie, Iran maligns and offends all Saudis by saying that my nation, home of the two holy mosques, brainwashes people to spread extremism.
We are not the country designated a state sponsor of terrorism; Iran is. We are not the nation under international sanctions for supporting terrorism; Iran is. We are not the nation whose officials are on terrorism lists; Iran is.
Saudi Arabia has been a victim of terrorism, often at the hands of Iran’s allies. Our country is on the front line of fighting terrorism, working closely with our allies.
The real question is whether Iran wants to live by the rules of the international system, or remain a revolutionary state committed to expansion and to defiance of international law.

Saudi King Salman: "a political opportunist"
BY: Adam Kredo, Washington Free Bacon (neoconservative website), 26-1-2015

Throughout his public career in government, Salman has embraced radical Muslim clerics and has been tied to the funding of radical groups in Afghanistan, as well as an organization found to be plotting attacks against America, according to various reports and information provided by David Weinberg, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (neoconservative think tank).
Salman has been reported to be responsible for sending millions of dollars to the radical mujahedeen that waged jihad in Afghanistan in the 1980s, according to Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who is now director of the Brookings Intelligence Project. “In the early years of the war this private Saudi funding was critical to the war effort,” according to Riedel. “At its peak, Salman was providing $25 million a month to the mujahedeen. He was also active in raising money for the Bosnian Muslims in the war with Serbia.”
Salman also has reached out to hardline preachers, including 'awakening'-cleric Safar Hawali, a one-time mentor of Osama bin Laden who has called for non-Muslims to be expelled from Saudi Arabia. Al-Hawali was named as a "theologian of terror" in an October 2004 petition to the UN signed by 2,500 Muslim intellectuals. Hawali was invited to the First Meeting of the Saudi National Meeting For Intellectual Dialogue held in June 2003 but declined to attend in protest against the inclusion of `deviants` (non-Wahhabi religious leaders) at the meeting.
While crown prince, Salman also made a point of phoning Aidh Abdullah al-Qarni, a Saudi author currently on the U.S. Terrorist Screening Center’s No Fly List...
“Salman’s background funding mujahedeen abroad and embracing hateful clerics suggests that he is at best a political opportunist who will tolerate continued religious extremism, even if he does not hold such views himself.”

Opportunism is the policy and practice of taking selfish advantage of circumstances – with little regard for principles, or with what the consequences are for others.
Opportunist actions are expedient actions guided primarily by self-interested motives. The term can be applied to individual humans and living organisms, groups, organizations, styles, behaviours, and trends. (Wikipedia info)

Saudis Bankroll CIA Backing of Syrian Rebels
US Saw Scheme as Way to Channel Saudi Aid to Potential Allies
by Jason Ditz,, January 23, 2016

While it’s no secret that the CIA has had a “covert” program supplying weapons to Syrian rebels for years, and it’s likewise no secret that Saudi Arabia has been throwing large sums of money and arms at rebel factions, it’s only now being understood how closely linked those two schemes were.
The administration is said to have seen the plan as a way to get control over the Saudi arms smuggling into Syria, fearing the Saudis would be willing to send arms to factions the US wouldn’t see as allies. This largely didn’t work, of course, meaning the US-Saudi arms ended up more or less everywhere.
The Saudis, meanwhile, saw letting the US in on their arms scheme as both a rubber stamp for continuing the program, and as a way to oblige the US to let them be involved in the final settlement talks on the Syrian War, and back Sunni Islamist factions.

The TOW anti-tank missiles and Chinese anti-aircraft missiles that ended up in the control of various rebel factions, including ISIS and other Islamists, were provided by and large through the CIA program, and sourced and paid for by the Saudis.

Jihadist training camps in Iraq and Syria

Since the beginning of 2012, a total of 51 camps have been identified as being operational at some point in time, according to data compiled by The Long War Journal. Of those camps, 38 are located in Syria and 13 in Iraq.
The Islamic State has operated 27 camps (15 in Syria and 12 in Iraq). Al Qaeda’s Al Nusrah Front has operated 10 camps in Syria. Various allied jihadist groups, including Ansar al Islam, Jaish al Muhajireen wal Ansar, and Junud al Sham, have operated 14 camps (13 in Syria and one in Iraq).

Russia, US agree to have 2 rebel delegations at Syria peace talks
By GPD|Veterans Today, January 24, 2016

Moscow and Washington are close to reaching a compromise on the participants of the Syria peace talks set to start next week. Two separate Syrian opposition delegations are expected to be invited to the negotiations in Geneva, according to media reports.

Washington supports the participation of the Saudi-backed Islamist militia Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) – something Moscow has strongly objected to.
Russia insists that political figures it deems more moderate, such as Qadri Jamil, a former Syrian deputy prime minister, and Saleh Muslim, co-head of the Syrian Kurdish group PYD, should join the negotiations, Kommersant daily reported Saturday.

A compromise has allegedly now been reached, however, with Moscow agreeing to the presence of Jaysh al-Islam at the talks. In return, Washington will not object to a separate Syrian opposition delegation being invited, Bloomberg reports, citing three Western and UN diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy for Syria, is now likely to send invitations to two opposition groups – one proposed by Washington, another recommended by Moscow.

U.S. Piles Pressure on Syria Opposition to Attend Talks
Naharnet Newsdesk, 25-1-2016

Syria's [Saudi-backed] opposition coalition is to decide whether to attend peace talks in Geneva, following a tense meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, a member told AFP on Monday.
The member of the so-called 'High Negotiations Committee' said Kerry applied "pressure" during a weekend meeting in Saudi Arabia, warning the opposition risked "losing friends" if they failed to attend the talks. Fuad Aliko said the Committee would meet Tuesday to make a final decision on whether to attend the Geneva talks.
The Saturday meeting with Kerry was "neither comfortable, nor positive", said Aliko, a member of the Committee's designated delegation for the talks.
Kerry told the Committee's chief Riad Hijab that they risked "losing friends", Aliko said. "This talk means a halt to political and military support to the opposition," he added.

The High Negotiations Committee, a coalition of opposition bodies formed last year in Riyadh, insists it should send a sole opposition delegation to the talks. But the Committee excludes Syria's main Kurdish force and other opposition figures, and Russia has branded some of its components as "terrorist" organizations.
Moscow reportedly wants to see excluded members allowed to participate in the talks either as part of the Committee's delegation or in a second opposition delegation.
Aliko said Kerry applied "pressure" during the Saturday talks.. "He tried with all his efforts to insist on the necessity of us attending, saying we'd be able to do whatever we want there, but he was not able to reassure us that we are going into negotiations, rather than nothing more than a dialogue," he said.

Control over Rabi'a area eliminates terrorists in Lattakia countryside
Mehr News Agency, Mon 25 January 2016

LATTAKIA, Jan. 25 (MNA) – The General Command of the Syrian Army and Armed Forces said that army units, in cooperation with popular defense groups, established control over Rabi'a area in the northern countryside of Lattakia province on Sunday following a series of successful operations that resulted in establishing control over 18 towns and villages.
In a statement, the General Command said this was achieved after eliminating large numbers of terrorists while others fled towards the Turkish borders as their ranks suffered a complete breakdown.
The statement pointed out that the significance of this achievement lies in the fact that Rabi'a area was one of the biggest gathering points and a nexus for transportation for terrorists in the area, therefore establishing control over it cut off terrorists' supply lines and restricted their movement.
The General Command said that establishing control over Rabi'a area forms a springboard for eliminating the remaining terrorist groups in Lattakia's countryside, concluding by asserting commitment to continue fighting terrorism and calling on all those who were involved in bearing arms against the state to abandon their weapons and resolve their legal status...

The rise of the Al-Islah Party in Yemen
Al-Masdar News, 25-1-2016

The Muslim Brotherhood linked Al-Islah Party is on the rise in Yemen. Al-Islah is taking advantage of the instability to amass as much political control as possible. The party has positioned themselves as an important player in the war forming its own militias and playing a dominate role in the so called “Popular Resistance.”
Its strength has been growing in cities such as Taiz, Aden, Beihan, Ab Dali and Marib. Taiz in particular is now under effective occupation by Al-Islah’s Islamist militias.
The Aden based government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi has been unable or unwilling to effectively respond to the danger posed by Al-Islah.
Hadi seems set on attempting to appease the group to garner its cooperation. Hadi is desperate for manpower and seems more often than not to be delegating power to Al-Islah and counting on them to bolster his forces.
One of Al-Islah’s leading figures Major General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar has emerged as one of Hadi’s top field commanders. Gen. Mohsen is a close friend and ally of Saudi Prince Nayef. Hadi’s government has also announced this week that they will start incorporating Al-Islah fighters into their official army.

In addition to its growing influence within Yemen, Al-Islah’s regional support is expanding. Qatar and Turkey see the party as their ideological partner and are assisting the groups actives. The Saudis are providing aid and coordinating their air operations with the party...
Hadi is in danger of becoming nothing more than a figure head of Al-Islah. A day may even come when Al-Islah decides to make a power grab for themselves and simply remove Hadi. This is extremely worrying given the groups connections to Al-Qaeda and extremist figures such as Abdul al-Zindani.

Al-Islah (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

The Yemeni Congregation for Reform, frequently called al-Islah, is a Yemeni Islamist party founded in 1990. The first article of Islah basic law defines it as "a popular political organization that seeks reform of all aspects of life on the basis of islamic principles and teachings".
Islah is more of a loose coalition of tribal and religious elements than a political party. Its origins are in the Islamic Front, a Muslim Brotherhood affiliated militia funded by Saudi Arabia to combat the Marxist National Democratic Front.
Islah has long been identified as a client of Saudi Arabia. In its official website, Islah summarizes its foreign policy agenda; one of five major goals is "strengthening our country’s relations with sister Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council."
Islah differs from most other Arab Islamists. The party combines tribal influences along with those of the Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood and more radical Wahhabi groups. Given its origin as an alliance, Islah's ideology remains vague and its political platform ambiguous. Islah could be best described as a conservative party that promotes tribal and religious values.

The party is a part of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is considered a terrorist organization by the governments of Bahrain, Egypt, Russia, Syria, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

Russian participation in fighting terrorism in Syria
led to significant changes on the ground, Lavrov says
Syrian Arab News Agency, 26 January 2016

Moscow, SANA- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called on Tuesday for the implementation of the UN Security Council’s resolutions on fighting terrorism, asserting that Russia’s participation in fighting terrorism in Syria led to “the adoption of significant resolutions by the Security Council.
Lavrov said, in a press conference, that the missions of the Russian air force, upon request of the Syrian government, led to significant changes on the Syrian ground in fighting terrorism.
Regional and international parties have finally realized the need for abandoning pre-conditions for launching the intra-Syrian talks, He added.
The Russian Minister reiterated that the obstinacy of the Syrian opposition which refuses to sit to the negotiating table is absolutely unacceptable.
Lavrov rejected any attempt to marginalize some parties of the Syrian opposition in the upcoming Geneva talks, saying this will be a flagrant violation of the UN Security council’s resolution No. 2254

The Myth of an Anti-ISIS Grand Coalition
The U.S. must lead efforts to resolve the crisis in Syria
Institute for the Study of War 2016 (Kimberley Kagan)

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute defined American strategic objectives in Iraq and Syria...
- Any American strategy must take urgent measures to strengthen Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi. The collapse of the Abadi government and return of his predecessor Nuri al Maliki would be disastrous for the fight against ISIS.
- The Salafi-jihadi militant base in Syria poses a threat to the U.S., but the U.S. must not simply attack it because that would put the U.S. at war with many Sunnis who must be incorporated into a future, post-Assad inclusive government.

first you support them - if they don't obey, you kill them

- Assad is the icon of atrocities, regime brutality, and sectarianism to Sunni populations in Syria and throughout the region. His actions have fueled the rise of violent Islamists, particularly ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra. U.S. strategy must ensure that none of these three actors control all or part of Syria while supporting the development of an alternative, inclusive Syrian state over time.
- Iran, Russia, Turkey and Saudi-Arabia are not our friends... So, the U.S. must lead efforts to resolve the crisis in Syria.

- Iran and Russia both seek to reduce and eliminate U.S. influence in the Middle East and are not pursuing strategies that will ultimately defeat al Qaeda and ISIS in Syria or Iraq.
- Turkey’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups, some linked to al Qaeda, stem from the ruling party’s intent to reestablish itself as an independent, Muslim, regional power.
- Saudi Arabia’s objectives remain shaped by perceived existential threats from Iran and a growing succession crisis, causing key divergences, especially over support to Salafi-jihadi groups.
- ISIS and al Qaeda interact with Chinese, Iranian, and Russian policies and endanger the international systems on which American safety depends. The US cannot rely heavily on international partners, although the US must lead and support partners such as NATO.

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 Parry, Consortium News 2014:
A Family Business of Perpetual War

"Neoconservative pundit 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.
This extraordinary husband-and-wife duo makes quite a one-two punch for the Military-Industrial Complex, an inside-outside team that creates the need for more military spending, applies political pressure to ensure higher appropriations, and watches as thankful weapons manufacturers lavish grants on like-minded hawkish Washington think tanks."

Lavrov: Policy of restraining Russia continues, high time to drop it
Russia Today, 26 Jan, 2016

“The policy of restraining Russia continues, though it is high time to drop this policy and file it in the historical archives,” Sergey Lavrov told a media briefing in Moscow.
The Russian foreign minister agreed that relations between Moscow and the west would never be the same again.
“Our western colleagues say sometimes that there will be no more ‘business as usual’ with Russia – and I’m confident that statement is absolutely correct,” Lavrov said.
“There will be no more business as usual after they attempted to impose agreements on us respecting the interests of either the European Union or the US in the first place, trying to convince us that they will not damage our interests,” he said. “That’s over now.”
Moscow is ready for “close, constructive cooperation” with its western partners, yet solely and only on an equal and mutually beneficial basis, “without interference into each other’s internal affairs, with respect for the principal interests of each side,” Lavrov said.

Let's Get Realpolitik: German Politician Welcomes Russia's Role in Syria
Sputnik News, 26-1-2016

Russia's participation in the war in Syria should be welcomed, because it is vital to bringing an end to the conflict in the Middle East, according to Christian Democratic Union (CDU) deputy chairman Armin Laschet.
In his interview with the German television channel Das Erste on Monday, Laschet, a deputy chairman of Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU, suggested that it's time for the West to return to a policy of realpolitik (politics based on practical and material factors rather than on theoretical or ethical objectives)...
"How dependent are we on Mr. Putin, if we want to resolve the conflict in Syria? That's life," the politician added. "Russia is an important power, and therefore it is good that Mr. Putin is involved in the Syrian conflict. Without him, nothing will get done."
"We cannot engage in politics only with those people who everyone likes. We need to engage in politics with those who are there. And the war in Syria will end only if Russia, the US, the EU, Saudi Arabia and Iran work together..."

Lavrov: Some states want to change Syrian regime
even at the cost of humanitarian disaster
TASS, Russian News Agency, January 26, 2016

There should be no preconditions for the beginning of the inter-Syrian negotiations and the humanitarian aspect should become the central issue for discussion, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said an annual news conference on Tuesday.
"We always proceed on the basis that there should be no preconditions for the beginning of the negotiations, and humanitarian aspects must be among the central issues discussed at the negotiations between the government and the opposition," he said.
"We will encourage in every way the so-called local pacification until a complete ceasefire is announced." "We are in favour of the ceasefire, the same as the United States," the minister said.

"But some countries of the [Persian] Gulf say: "We will be ready to give a command to cease fire to those led by us only if we feel that the political process has started and the prospect of Bashar Assad’s resignation exists."
So, you can make your own conclusion on who is really concerned about the suffering of civilians, and who wants to change the regime in Syria at all costs, even at the cost of the humanitarian disaster aggravation."

On Sunday, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported that Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke in a telephone conversation for involvement in the Syrian political process of the International Syria Support Group, Russia, the US and UN. The telephone conversation was initiated by the US side, the ministry said.
"They paid special attention to the need to form a truly representational delegation of the opposition and to have the agenda comply with requirements of the UN Security Council’s resolution 2254, including fighting the Islamic State and other terrorist groups, as well as respect for the right of Syrians to determine themselves the future of their country."

Under United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 passed on December 18, a transitional government should be formed in Syria and work on the new constitution should begin within six months after the beginning of the talks. The new constitution should be followed by free and fair elections no later than within 18 months.
The document also envisages that the ceasefire should come into effect immediately after the Syrian government and opposition begin the implementation of the process of political reforms.

Netanyahu Says Ban 'Encouraging Terror' after U.N. Chief Slams Occupation
by Naharnet Newsdesk, 26-1-2016

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday accused the U.N. chief of "encouraging terror" after Ban Ki-moon spoke of Palestinian frustration at Israel's occupation and said it was natural to resist.
"The comments of the U.N. Secretary General encourage terror," Netanyahu said in a statement. "There is no justification for terror."
Earlier, Ban told the U.N. Security Council of the "profound sense of alienation and despair, driving some Palestinians -– especially young people" in the upsurge of attacks on Israelis since the start of October.
"Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process," he said. "As oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism."
Ban condemned the Palestinian attacks, but said Israeli settlement building cast doubt on Israel's commitment to the goal of an independent Palestine alongside Israel.
"Continued settlement activities are an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community," he said. "They rightly raise fundamental questions about Israel's commitment to a two-state solution."

The Limits of Jihadi Nihilism
By Graham E. Fuller, Consortium News, 26-1-2016

The immoral and cynical exploitation of religion (a constant of human history) is ultimately about power and intimidation.
Political violence has always existed. But what are its “natural limits?” We know about the negative legacies of colonialism and the impact of countless Western invasions and wars... We understand that the sources of political, economic and social desperation and rage still exist....
But not even the most militant political vision can justify the wanton killing of civilians simply for the sake of spectacle and show of power.
Most moral ideas almost anywhere, religious or non-religious, can be pushed to levels of blind fanaticism that discredit the original moral concept. Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, yes, all do it....

In large parts of the Muslim world today, it is dangerous for your health to speak out on issues of moral limits in implementing political Islam.
As long as the Middle East is caught in domestic struggles and foreign wars, a high degree of religious, political and moral bravery is required to speak up, and risk assassination...

Muslims and other observers may differ on which elements of terrorism or political violence are more justifiable than others. But the wanton acts of the Boko Haram, ISIS, Al Qaeda branches, and Taliban rogue groups (among others) have to rank near the top of the list for outright moral condemnation, whatever one’s views of politics...
Sadly, we are going to witness many more horrors from these murderous jihadi groups even as these movements move towards the point of self-collapse. The clock would seem to be running out on them, their level of social acceptance exhausted; they have stretched their “principles” to the breaking point.

FLASHBACK 2012-2014: Egyptian jihadist groups:
A threat to domestic, regional security?
Sarah El-Rashidi, Ahram Online 5-6-2012

Since the fall of the Mubarak regime and the rise of political Islamism following the electoral victories of the Muslim Brotherhood, a new potential menace has resurfaced in the security vacuum – the rise of extremist jihadist groups. These groups embrace an extreme Salafist interpretation of Islam, which accepts violence as a legitimate means of realising their demands. ...
For decades, former president Hosni Mubarak and his National Democratic Party (NDP) asserted its legitimacy via the Islamist threat, forewarning of what has now become the political face of post-revolution Egypt: an Islamist political landslide and the rise of extreme jihadist Islamist groups.

Observers believe there are two principal jihadist movements in Egypt, both based in Sinai but with countrywide influence: Takfir Wal Hijra and Salafist jihadism, whose adherents are known as Salafist jihadists. Both factions adhere to an extreme Salafist interpretation of Islam, following Al-Qaeda’s philosophy and goal of re-establishing an Islamic Caliphate.

"The jihadists and groups who declare society apostate have infiltrated the tribes, taken up arms and threatened the structure of social custom," declared Ahmed El-Eiba from the Azazna tribe, an activist from Sinai...
El-Eiba explained how the Libyan uprising had served to create a vibrant arms market. Weapons are purchased for personal use, or to accumulate an arsenal, such as in Syria or in larger operations that would alter regional security balances.

Political Islam is back
Syria Today, august 2012

In Syria, the Brotherhood was banned in 1963, 18 years after it was established, when a coup brought the Ba’ath Party to power. “Syria is not an Islamic country,” Syrian analyst Eiad Wannous explained; thus, “all religious parties and assembly were banned.” ...
Many members were exiled or killed when the army besieged Hama, then a Brotherhood stronghold... Until 2000, millions of public school students were taught to chant against the organisation as an agent and criminal tool of “imperialism, Zionism, and backwardness.” While some say the Muslim Brotherhood’s chances of realising any political power in a future Syria are slim, others believe its arrival to the Egyptian presidency raises this possibility. ...
Seven years before the Syrian uprising started, the Brotherhood published on its website a detailed political project for a “future Syria” aimed at establishing a “modern Islamic state”... But although the phrase “Islamic state” does not appear in its new proposal for Syria, this has not alleviated everyone’s fears. Many Syrians remain wary of the Muslim Brotherhood due to the memory of assassinations of prominent officers and public servants in the late seventies and early eighties, and a massacre at the Aleppo Artillery School in 1979...

The Muslim Brotherhood promotes conservative social norms
Farid Zahran, Daily News Egypt 5-12-2012

The Muslim Brotherhood is an extremist Sunni organisation, whose ideology is rooted in the writings of Sayyid Qutb, Al-Mawdudi and Ibn Timia, whose underpinnings are not shared by other sects of Sunni Islam.
The Brotherhood’s ideology is one that promotes conservative social norms that run contrary to the lifestyle enjoyed by many in Egypt’s upper and middle classes.

Murdering Assad more Noble than Killing an Israeli
alarabiya 27-2-2012

Saudi cleric Aaed al-Qarni is claiming that killing President Bashar Assad would be a more noble deed than killing an Israeli person.
Saudi newspaper Sabah quoted al-Qarni as saying that Assad deserves to die for heresy, referring to him as "Basharon," in a jab alluding to former Zionist Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The Muslim cleric claimed that the Golan Heights will not be freed until Assad's "treacherous" regime falls.
Al-Qarni also proposed holding a Syrian referendum, instead of that on the constitution, on the best way to kill Assad. The options he proposed included death by hanging and slaughter. ... He called on Syrian soldiers to defect and slammed the ruling Ba'ath party. Qarni also attacked Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah describing him as "the sinful."

Al Qaeda leader urges support for ousting Syria's Assad
AlertNet 13-9-2012

DUBAI, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri has called on all Muslims to back the rebels in Syria...
Speaking on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Zawahri criticised Muslim governments in the Middle East and in Asia for failing to pursue the cause of political Islam.
Zawahri said the United States was propping up Assad because it feared the rise of another Islamist regime to threaten its ally Israel.
"Supporting jihad in Syria to establish a Muslim state is a basic step towards Jerusalem, and thus America is giving the secular Baathist regime one chance after another for fear that a government is established in Syria that would threaten Israel," he said. ...

Their ideology does not make of the homeland a first priority
By Abdel Latif el-Menawy, Al-Arabya, 27-1-2013

A few months after coming to power, the new rulers managed to undermine all the people’s dreams and nothing will stand in their way, for they are determined to seize control on all the state legislative and executive powers... They drafted a constitution that guarantees that they remain in power and they threatened to hunt down all forms of opposition through the deformed laws they will pass...
It is a big mistake to assume that the new rulers will offer any concessions or give precedence to the nation over the group, for their ideology does not make of the homeland a first priority....

Assad: "They want to see political Islam dominate Syria.
We want to preserve secularism"
By: Kadri Gursel, Al-Monitor, 8-3-2013

[According to Bashar al-Assad:] "The Syrian crisis has become an existential struggle for Erdogan and Emir of Qatar. If Syria wins, they will lose in their country. There is also an ideological dimension of this affair. They want to see political Islam dominate Syria. We want to preserve secularism."
Assad also said, “Turkey has the most influence on the situation in my country. Most weapons and terrorists come via Turkey. Twenty-five percent of our land border with Turkey is under the control of the PKK, and 75 % of it is under Al Qaeda.”

President al-Assad: "The project of the brotherhood is hypocritical,
because it actually aims at creating sedition in the Arab world"
Syrian Arab News Agency, Jul 04, 2013

Damascus, (SANA) – President Bashar al-Assad has said that those who use religion for political interests or for the interests of one group will fall anywhere in the world.
In an interview given to al-Thawra newspaper, President al-Assad said, "You cannot deceive everyone all the time, particularly the Egyptian people who have a civilization dating back to thousands of years, and clear pan-Arab nationalist thought."
President al-Assad said the experiment of the Muslim Brotherhood's rule failed even before it started because this kind of rule is not consistent with the nature of the people and the project of the brotherhood is hypocritical, because it actually aims at creating sedition in the Arab world. The President stressed that sedition cannot last in societies that possess knowledge...

President al-Assad to scholars:
"The plague which hits the Islamic world is the plague of political Islam"
Syrian Arab News Agency, April 24, 2014

Damascus, SANA, President Bashar al-Assad said Wednesday clergymen and scholars have pivotal role in consolidating true concepts against wrong terms, because the most dangerous attempts which target the region and Islamic world are the West attempts to strike ideology and faith in society through gradual change in terms.
President al-Assad said an example on the west's attempt to change the terms is to separate Arabism with its human and civilized concept, aiming at creating a state of destabilization on the social and political levels.
The President affirmed that the plague which hits the Islamic world is the plague of political Islam, adding that its collapse has returned Islam to its normal role, namely, Dawah (inviting for true Islam).

President al-Assad said combating terrorism and extremism won’t be only through condemnation or refutation, but through consolidating principles of true Islam and innovating the religious mentality by using brain, logic and dialogue which is open to the other, based on conviction, not intimidation.

World Should Not Be Ruled by ‘Law of the Jungle’: Chirac
Arab News, 23-7-2003

French President Jacques Chirac, accepting a Malaysian peace award for his opposition to the US-led war on Iraq, said yesterday the world should not be ruled by the “law of the jungle”.
Chirac was speaking after being presented with the inaugural Kuala Lumpur World Peace Award by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who was also a strong opponent of the war.
“We can’t agree any longer on the law of the strongest, on the law of the jungle,” Chirac said through an official translator. “What we need is an international structure, an international mechanism, that can do away with unilateralism and bring about multilateralism.”
All countries should be able to make their voices heard so that none felt sidelined, marginalized or humiliated, he said.“That undoubtedly is going to be the foundation of peace in the world.”
Chirac said the United Nations “may not be a perfect organization. It could be better structured, modernized, brought up to date, but it is an unavoidable organization.”

Qaradawi calls on Sisi to quit
Middle East Monitor, 27 January 2016

Head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi has called on the Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi to quit, Quds Press reported yesterday.
In a televised speech delivered on the fifth anniversary of January 25 Revolution, Al-Qaradawi described Al-Sisi as a “hypocrite” and a “liar”, calling on Egyptians to “stand against his oppression”.
“Everything in Egypt became corrupt and bad… This is the result of the counter-revolution which destroyed Egypt and everything is getting worse… What shall the Egyptians do? Egypt is losing billions of pounds every day,” Al-Qaradawi said.

Addressing Al-Sisi and his aides, he said: “Bless the country and quit. Bless the people on the earth in order to be blessed with heaven. Leave Egypt to its own people and leave the other countries to live as they want… Leave these countries to cooperate with each other.”
He encouraged the Egyptian youth to “rise up and do not feel desperate. Do not surrender to these oppressors. God willing they will fall. The truth will become clear and justice will prevail. Good will overcome evil.”

Muslim Brotherhood: Victory for the Revolution
Ikhwanweb, 26-1-2016

The oppressors and the despots have not learnt the lesson at all. There is no way for Egyptians to live free and dignified except by ousting those tyrants, those heinous criminals and murderers.
All of us, Egyptians, must rise… for your trampled dignity, your spilled blood and plundered resources. We will not betray the blood of our martyrs, nor cower or hesitate before reclaiming our democratic rights and our beloved Egypt – free, dignified and thriving.
These traitorous criminals should know that the blood of our martyrs is dearer than our very souls, and that the hour of retribution will soon arrive. No criminals will escape punishment. The tyrants' oppression is a measure of their fear of the revolutionaries' coming victory and the punishment that await the traitors. (The Anti-Coup Pro-Legitimacy National in Beni Suef, Monday – January 25, 2016)

Yusuf al-Qaradawi (born 9 September 1926) is a controversial Egyptian Islamic theologian. He is best known for his programme, ash-Shariah wal-Hayat ("Shariah and Life"), broadcast on Al Jazeera. Some of al-Qaradawi's views have been controversial in the West: he was refused an entry visa to the United Kingdom in 2008, and barred from entering France in 2012.
Al-Qaradawi has described Shi'ites as heretics ("mubtadi'oun"). Fellow member of International union of Muslim Scholars, Mohammad Salim Al-Awa criticized Qaradawi for promoting divisions among Muslims. Qaradawi accused what he called "heretical" Shias of "invading" Sunni countries.

On 21 February 2011, he talked about the protests in Libya and issued a fatwa against Muammar Gaddafi:
“...To the officers and the soldiers who are able to kill Muammar Gaddafi, to whoever among them is able to shoot him with a bullet and to free the country and [God’s] servants from him, I issue this fatwa (uftî): Do it! That man wants to exterminate the people (sha‘b). As for me, I protect the people (sha‘b) and I issue this fatwa:
Whoever among them is able to shoot him with a bullet and to free us from his evil, to free Libya and its great people from the evil of this man and from the danger of him, let him do so!'

Yusuf Al-Qaradawi and Political Opportunism
By As'ad AbuKhalil, Al-Akhbar 28-3-2012

Qaradawi fled Egypt when Nasser figured out that he could not allow the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) to remain as a fifth column inside Egypt. It was no secret that while Nasser was aligned with the socialist camp, the MB served as a tool of the US and Gulf regime during the Cold War...
Gulf regimes (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE primarily) opened their borders and universities and ministries to the Islamists. They filled top posts in government, particularly in education, awqaf (religious endowment), and even in policy making. Sudanese Islamists were instrumental in drafting the constitutions of several Gulf states.

Qaradawi was hosted in Qatar and he taught at its university. But unlike most Islamists in exile, he established a close relationship with the Emir. Qaradawi was a key ingredient in the formation of Al Jazeera, and he even helped staff the network with many Islamists from several Arab countries.
Qaradawi has been noted for his political cowardice: not only for his subservience (like all other Islamists in the GCC countries) to the ruler, but for strictly adhering to the foreign policies of the ruler. Qaradawi never ever criticized Bashar Assad and even showered him with praise, until the Emir decided to break with the Assad regime. Qaradawi was also favorable in his views on Iran until the year when Qatar changed course.

Genocide scholar blasts Israel's 'racist' teaching of the Holocaust
By Ofer Aderet, Haaretz, Jan. 27, 2016

The cover of a new book by historian and genocide scholar Prof. Yair Auron features a drawing of five different-colored patches: red for political prisoners; black for asocial and work-shy prisoners; pink for homosexuals; brown for Gypsies; and purple for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Only one color is missing – the yellow patch for Jews. The book’s title, “The Non-Jewish Victims of the Nazi Regime,” explains why.

Auron, 70, professor emeritus at the Open University, specializes in genocide studies and has devoted the past few decades to a politically charged and sensitive issue: the attempt to introduce into the Israeli education system a recognition of the suffering of other peoples who were decimated, both in the Holocaust and other historical circumstances.
His thesis is clear: Israel prefers to avoid, repress and minimize the suffering of other peoples in the Holocaust and other circumstances, to perpetuate victimization and isolationism.
“It must be asked if, in Israel in 2016, instead of also shaping Holocaust commemoration through humanist and democratic values, it is [..] fostering racism and xenophobia,” Auron told Haaretz in an interview marking the book’s publication. “Ignoring the non-Jewish victims is perhaps the most concrete manifestation of this trend,” he added.

“When a student tells me the Holocaust is unique, I ask him why and he says, ‘Because.’ When I ask whether he knows any other examples that might perhaps be compared to it, he doesn’t. We’ve checked – most students don’t know about the genocides in Rwanda or Armenia,” he said.
“The Holocaust has unique elements [..], but there are also unique elements to other genocides. In Israel, most scholars relate to the Holocaust as being in a category of its own. The Holocaust on one side, far away, and genocide on another.
I believe that the Holocaust should be studied within the category of genocide. It is a case of genocide with unique elements,” Auron said.

A series of 12 books published under the title “Genocide,” initiated by Auron, was published over the past few years by the Open University. . The series examines the murder of Native Americans, the “cultural genocide” in Tibet (as Auron puts it), the murder of the Armenians by the Turks, and of the Gypsies by the Nazis.
“You won’t find any of these in the Israeli education system, which is a political system that doesn’t want to expose its students to the genocides of other peoples,” Auron said. “Officially, the system won’t acknowledge it – but the subject is taboo,” he added.
“I think that in Israel, victims of genocide anywhere should be commemorated – Rwanda, Cambodia, the Armenians… memorials should perhaps be established at Yad Vashem for them. That does not reduce the Holocaust; it magnifies it,” he said.

Humanism is a rational philosophy informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion.
Affirming the dignity of each human being, it supports the maximization of individual liberty and opportunity consonant with social and planetary responsibility. It advocates the extension of participatory democracy and the expansion of the open society, standing for human rights and social justice.
Free of supernaturalism, it recognizes human beings as a part of nature and holds that values-be they religious, ethical, social, or political-have their source in human experience and culture.
Humanism thus derives the goals of life from human need and interest rather than from theological or ideological abstractions, and asserts that humanity must take responsibility for its own destiny. (American Humanist Association)

Bogdanov meets a delegation of the 'loyal' opposition
Syrian Arab News Agency, 29 January 2016

Moscow, SANA – Russian President’s Special Representative for the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov met a delegation of the Syrian national opposition in Moscow...
The national opposition delegation said during their meeting with Bogdanov that they were dissatisfied with the list of the “Syrian opposition” delegation to Geneva talks. They added that they were treated unfairly having been excluded from representation to the talks.
The delegation included Elian Masaad (Secretary of the National Conference Party/A Secular Syria/ and official spokesman for the Syrian National Work Committee), Barwin Ibrahim (leader of the Syrian Youth for Development Party), sheikh Nawaf al-Milhem (General Secretary of the People’s Party and representative of the Syrian tribes) and Tareq al-Ahmad (member of the leadership of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party).

In a statement to SANA correspondent in Moscow, Nawaf al-Milhem described the meeting with Bogdanov as “constructive”.
“We stress that those who were imposed by the outside don’t represent the vision of the Syrians or their aspirations to be the decision maker in determining Syria’s destiny,” said al-Milhem.
We hope to see them in the local and parliamentary elections where they will know who has the largest representation inside Syria,” he added.

Flashback: Syrian clans committed to their national line
Al-Manar, 20-6-2015

Leaders of Syrian clans affirmed their absolute rejection of any project that aspires to “cut off their Arab roots”, reiterating their unwavering adherence to their country, state and national unity.
Syria clansIn a statement they issued following statements by Jordan’s King Abdullah II about arming the Syrian clans, the clan leaders said they were outraged by the King’s statement, SANA reported.
“We received with utmost surprise your statement in which you offered to arm the Syrian tribes,” said the statement addressing the King of Jordan.
The clan leaders lashed out at Jordan’s role in facilitating the entry of terrorists into Syria and providing them with weapons, indicating that the US project seeks to fragment the countries of the region, especially Syria and Iraq.
In a press conference in Damascus after delivering the statement, Sheikh Nawaf al-Milhem, chief of Anza tribe, affirmed that the loyalty of the tribes will remain staunch and unwavering... Al-Milhem stressed that Syrian clans are committed to their national line”.

The rebels of Aleppo, fighting for the destruction of the secular nation state (YouTube video 2015)

The Muslim Brotherhood has fully supported Tawhid since its inception. Opposition sources confirm that there is full coordination between Tawhid and the Brotherhood. These sources considered Tawhid a key factor in the convergence between political Islam represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, which is backed by Turkey and Qatar, and Salafist Islam, which is backed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. (Al-Monitor, 22-10-2013)

Islamic University of Madinah hosts conference against disunity, factionalism
Saudi Gazette, Jan 29, 2016

A CONFERENCE to promote national unity kicked off at the King Saud Conference Hall of the Islamic University of Madinah.. The theme of the conference is “Achieving unity and leaving off partisanship and disunity is a legal obligation and national requirement”.
Professor Ibrahim Bin Ali Al-Ubaid, acting president of the university, welcomed the guests. In his speech on the occasion, Al-Ubaid stressed the significance of the Islamic Unity and its achievement. He also underlined the need to cast off disunity and partisanship.
The conference aims to unite Muslims and work together to avoid anything that might lead to disunity and factionalism, Al-Ubaid said...
He explained the need for unity and the danger of disunity and factionalism, outlining the causes of deviation in understanding the concept of community and unity. He also emphasized the importance of enhancing national unity...

Indirect peace talks began in Geneva
Josh Wood, The National, January 30, 2016

Indirect peace talks aimed at resolving Syria’s five-year conflict began on Friday in Geneva.
The first meeting took place between UN special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura and a government delegation headed by the country’s ambassador to the UN, Bashar Ja’afari.

The Saudi-backed opposition group had said it would not participate in the talks without an end to the bombardment of civilians by Russian and government forces and a lifting of sieges in rebel-held areas. But later in the day a senior member of the delegation said it would attend talks after all.
The delegate said the Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee (HNC) – the body created by the main opposition coalition to represent them at talks – would send “about 30, 35 people” to the talks.
Looking to strengthen their hand, the HNC looked to narrow the definition of “opposition”, insisting that they would not participate if there was a third side present.
This was a jab at moderate, secular opposition members who have a much different vision of Syria than many of the main opposition grouping. But more so, it was a statement against any participation of the PYD.

Non-HNC opposition figures were in Geneva on Friday, but they were invited to the talks only as advisers... These figures included Haytham Manna, a long-standing opposition member who is co-chair of the political wing of a Kurdish-Arab alliance.
The most powerful Kurdish faction in Syria, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), was not in Geneva, however, having not been invited to the talks in the first place.
The PYD’s militia controls large amounts of territory in north-east Syria and has been a formidable fighting force against ISIL. But many rebels have long accused the group of supporting the Syrian government, which it has avoided confronting.
Turkey considers the PYD part of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a group that Ankara is at war with at home, and said it would withdraw its support for the talks if the PYD was included.

Killer of Russian pilot: Turkey needs to give us anti-aircraft weapons
By Rudaw, 29-1-2016

Alparslan Celik, the Turkish citizen who gunned down the Russian pilot Oleg Peskov, after his warplane was shot down by the Turkish air force last November 24, said Thursday that he doesn't fear the Russians who are on a manhunt to either capture or kill him in Syria.
"I have no such fear [of being killed]. We will continue our fight to the last person, the last breath, [and] the last drop of blood," Celik told the Dogan news agency...
Celik admitted to receiving support from the Turks but argued that it isn't enough, saying the lack of anti-aircraft weaponry in particular is a major weakness on his side since his forces have been routinely bombarded by the Russian air force, whose intervention on the side of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has bolstered that regime and seen its opponents pummeled by multiple air strikes.
Celik complained that his forces need more than basic weapons in light of this four month old Russian intervention.
"We are not equipped with the weapons to counter their high-tech devices. But they [our weapons] are certainly coming from the Turkish state... What we are asking from the Turkish state is to provide us with air defense weapons..."

Erdogan condemns calls for autonomy
By Rudaw, 29-1-2016

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned calls for autonomy in Turkey's Kurdish-majority southeast.
"It should be known that we will bring the whole world down on those who seek to establish a state within a state under the name of autonomy and self-governance," the Turkish president said in a speech given on Thursday in the Turkish capital Ankara to supporters of his goal to change the Turkish constitution.
"What do we say? One flag", Erdogan declared, according to Hurriyet Daily News, before going on to point out that the Turkish flag is red in honour of the various soldiers who have died preserving Turkey's territorial integrity.

The Pied Piper of Zion
Uri Avnery, 30/01/2016

"Can the blind lead the blind?
Will they not both fall into a pit?" Luke 6:39

HAMELIN, a small town in Germany, was infested with rats. In their despair, the burghers called upon a rat-catcher and promised him a thousand guilders for liberating them from this plague. The rat-catcher took his pipe and played such a sweet melody that all the rats came out of their holes and joined him. He marched them to the Weser river, where they all drowned.
Once freed from this plague, the burghers saw no reason to pay. So the piper took out his pipe again and produced an even sweeter melody. The enchanted children of the town gathered around him and he marched them straight down to the river, where they all drowned.

Binyamin Netanyahu is our pied piper. Enchanted by his melodies, the people of Israel are marching behind him towards the river.
Those burghers who are aware of what is happening are looking on. They don't know what to do. How to save the children?
THE ISRAELI Peace Camp is in despair. No savior is in sight. Many just sit in front of their TV set and wring their hands. Among the rest a debate is going on...
The size and power of the right wing is growing. Almost daily, obnoxious new laws are proposed and enacted, some of them with an unmistakable fascist flavor.
The Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has surrounded himself with a bunch of male and female rowdies mainly from his Likud party, compared to whom he is a liberal. The main opposition party, the "Zionist Camp" (alias Labor), could be called Likud B.

We hold that Zionism is moral and just...
There is no other morality. Zeev Jabotinsky (The Iron Wall, 1923)

In this climate, the idea that only outside pressure can save Israel from itself is comforting. Somebody out there will do the job for us. So let's enjoy the pleasures of democracy while it lasts...
Who is right: those who believe that only the fight inside Israel can save us, or those who put their trust entirely in outside pressure? My answer is: neither. Or, rather, both.
Those who fight inside need all the outside help they can get. All the moral people in all the countries of the world should see it as their duty to help those groups and persons inside Israel who continue to fight for democracy, justice and equality.
If Israel is dear to them, they should come to the aid of these brave groups, morally, politically and materially.

Israel & The Dangerous Ideology of Religion
By Lawrence Davidson, Consortium News, 30-1-2016

Ideologies are pre-set forms of thinking that shape people’s worldviews and, supposedly, help to order and simplify reality.
Ideologies can be very seductive. In part this is because they free their adherents from the hard work of critical thinking.
Because ideologies distort reality, they are particularly unsuited for those aspiring to power as well as their devoted supporters.
History is full of examples of politically powerful ideologies that underscore this fact: fascism, communism, various military cults and even the ideology of democracy as manipulated by corrupt elites, who play the Pied Piper to the masses.
Yet there is still one more ideology out there which, even now, wreaks havoc... That ideology is religion in its various institutional manifestations.
I want to emphasize that I am not referring to personal religious convictions, by which life is made to appear understandable and meaningful.
What I am referring to are religious ideologies that are institutionalized in bureaucracies that can project power much as do secular institutions of authority.
Religious ideologies so institutionalized see themselves as possessed of God-given truth while playing the game of power amidst human competitors.

Since 1948 Judaism has succumbed to the same fate as other world religions entangling themselves in politics.
Despite all the rationalizations, propaganda and self-deception, it is clear that institutional Judaism is now firmly melded to the deeply discriminatory and particularly brutal political ideology of Zionism. The fate of Judaism and an Israeli “national home” are thoroughly intertwined..
For Marc H. Ellis (a Jewish theologian) institutionalized Judaism has been reduced to an adjunct of an expansionist and racist political ideology. He feels that there is no getting around the inherent evil of this situation. No two-state solution or other “progressive” approach can erase it.
As long as Judaism persists in identifying itself in terms of the Israeli state and Zionist ideology, the ethical underpinnings of the religion are left behind in the wreckage of an evolving “Jewish empire.”

A lesson learned here seems to be: if you want to be religious, keep it personal and tolerant, avoid tendencies toward institutionalization beyond the level of local charity and organized good works, and stay clear of political alliances.

Anarchism & anti-clericalism in the Holy Books

They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah (by obeying them in things which they made lawful or unlawful according to their own desires without being ordered by Allah), and (they also took as their Lord) Messiah, son of Maryam (Mary), while they (Jews and Christians) were commanded [in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)) to worship none but One Ilah (God - Allah). Exalted is He above whatever they associate with Him. (Quran, Al-Tawba 31)

"But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. "Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. (Matthew 23:9)

Israel and the Dangers of Ethnic Nationalism
An Interview With Jonathan Cook
by Joseph Cotto, CounterPunch, 4-11-2013

Cook: The idea of ethnic-religious supremacism, which history suggests is latent in many ethnic nationalisms, quickly came to the fore in Zionism...
We in the West see all this as a reaction to Islamism. The reality is we have everything back to front: Zionism, an aggressive ethnic nationalism, fed reactionary forces in the region like political Islam.

Israel needed to ethnically cleanse Palestinians in 1948 to create a Jewish state. It needs separate citizenship and nationality laws, which distinguish between Jews and non-Jews, to sustain a Jewish state.
It needs its own version of the “endless war on terror” – an aggressive policy of oppression and divide and rule faced by Palestinians under its rule – to prevent any future internal challenge to the legitimacy of its Jewishness.
It needs to keep Palestinian refugees festering in camps in neighbouring Arab states to stop a reversal of its Jewishness. And it has had to become an armed and fortified garrison state, largely paid for by the US, to intimidate and bully its neighbours in case they dare to threaten its Jewishness.
Ending that ethnocentrism would alter relations with its neighbours dramatically.

Original Sin: The founders of modern Israel,
were more nationalist than socialist in their ideals.
By Arthur Hertzberg, New York Times, 15-2-1998

Sternhell, Professor of Political Science at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, argues that Israel must give up its commitments to Zionism, to being a ''Jewish state,'' and become the state of all its citizens. This is to be achieved by abolishing every trace of special status for Jews and their religious and cultural heritage.
Sternhell argues that the founders of socialist Zionism in Israel, whose leading political figure was David Ben-Gurion, committed the original sin of being much more nationalist than socialist.
They regarded the Jewish settlers in Palestine before World War I as an elite that was to lead in creating a Jewish majority in the land.
Sternhell is upset, page after page, that [socialist Zionists] did not come to Palestine to transcend Jewish nationalism and create universal socialism....
He believes that the the Arab-Jewish conflict was created by uncompromising Jewish nationalism, which in turn evoked Arab anger. Therefore the way to end the conflict is to put an end to the national, Jewish, Zionist state. Israel must become a liberal, secular state.

Russian Warplanes Target Meeting of Senior Militant Commanders in Idlib
Fars News Agency, 31-1-2016

The venue of a secret meeting of Jeish al-Fatah terrorist group commanders, including the group's senior Mufti (religious leader) who is a Saudi national, was targeted very heavily by the Russian fighter jets in the Northwestern province of Idlib, informed sources announced Tuesday morning.
"Abdullah al-Muhaysini, the Mufti of Jeish al-Fatah, and five other senior commanders of the group were in the meeting held in the village of Jedar Bikfaloun in the Southwestern part of Idlib province," the sources said.
"The Syrian Army's intelligence sources had informed the Russian air force about the hideout of the militants," the sources further added.
Al-Muhaysini is a Saudi terrorist threatening the civilians of the besieged towns of Fuaa and Kafraya in Idlib province many times.

Also on Saturday, the Syrian army continued to push the terrorists back from areas under their control in Idlib province, and destroyed their military positions and strongholds. The army units razed the headquarters of the militants in Kafar Takharim region to the Northwest of Idlib city.
Also, three headquarters of Jeish al-Fatah terrorist group were destroyed in Nahlia village in Ariha region in the Southern countryside of Idlib. The command centers of the terrorist groups and their military equipment and weapons were also destroyed in Tamanna in the Southern countryside of Idlib.

Flashback 2013: Popular Saudi cleric endorses Islamic Front,
calls for cooperation with al Qaeda
By Thomas Joscelyn | LongWarJournal, December 14, 2013

Abdallah Muhammad al Muhaysini, a popular Saudi cleric who has relocated to Syria, has used his highly trafficked social media presence to endorse the new Islamic Front formed by some of the leading Syrian insurgent groups. He called for the Islamist coalition to cooperate with al Qaeda’s two official branches inside Syria.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, or Levant (ISIS), one of two official al Qaeda branches in Syria, has quarreled with other jihadist groups, including the Al Nusrah Front (the other formal al Qaeda branch) and Ahrar al Sham, which is a leading member in the new Islamic Front. These groups frequently coordinate their operations, but ISIS has often proven to be a problematic partner...
Al Muhaysini swiftly proposed that a common sharia court be established, with each of the leading jihadist groups contributing two judges. The court would adjudicate disputes between its members. Al Muhaysini even said that the new court’s rulings should be made public such that Muslims worldwide could read the decisions for themselves.
According to some accounts on Twitter, the Al Nusrah Front and other Syrian jihadist groups endorsed the idea. ISIS reportedly did not.

On Oct. 26, 2013, al Muhaysini announced a new fundraising campaign to finance the jihad in Syria.
In late November, al Muhaysini released a video on YouTube in which he comments on the formation of the new Islamic Front... He noted that “there are large groups still outside the coalition,” including ISIS, Al Nusrah, and several other brigades.
If all of these groups cannot unify their efforts, al Muhaysini said, then they should still recognize there is “enough room in this arena of jihad for all of us” and they should continue to coordinate their efforts without antagonism.

Bashar al-Jaafari warns Kurds to forget about claiming self-rule
By Rudaw, 31-1-2016

GENEVA, Switzerland – The representative of the Syrian regime at peace talks in Geneva told Rudaw that Damascus would show zero tolerance for any claim of federation or autonomy by the country’s Kurdish minority.
Bashar Jaafari, Syria’s UN envoy and its top man at the Geneva peace talks, ruled out the idea of federalism as an option for governing post-war Syria.
“Take the idea of separating Syrian land out of your mind,” he said, adding that “anyone thinking of departing Syria” should be cured of the illusion.
We have said before: our theme for these talks is Syrians in Syria and our precondition is to protect the unity of the land and the Syrian nation,” Jaafari said. “It is to protect sovereignty of Syria. This is very clear and we have this principle in all the 13 decisions discussed by the Security Council.”

Syria’s Kurdish region, or Rojava, has been a de facto autonomous region in the country’s north since 2013, when the Kurdish PYD group that governs it declared self-rule.

Flashback 2011 - Salih Muslim Muhammad, chairman of the PYD:
"Autonomy does not move us Kurds forward" - KurdWatch, 20-10-2011

- KurdWatch: How does the PYD envision the future of Kurds in Syria?
- Salih Muslim Muhammad: We, as the Kurdish Freedom Movement reject the classical understanding of power. We reject classical models like federalism, con-federalism, self-government, and autonomy. Our goal is the formation of a new society, the formation of a free person, a person with free will and free thought.
The question is not whether a county commissioner, a district mayor, or a governor is one of us... It is about culture, institutions, structure, organization, towns and cities. Autonomy does not move us Kurds forward.

- KurdWatch: There are many voices in Syria demanding the fall of President Bashar al-Assad and his regime. What are your demands?
- Salih Muslim Muhammad: We demand a fundamental change to the oppressive system. There are some who hold up the slogan: the fall of the regime. In contrast we demand the fall of the oppressive authoritarian system.
Our problems are not problems of powers. The ruling powers in Damascus come and go. For us Kurds, this isn't so important...

- KurdWatch: Can you imagine working with the Muslim Brotherhood?
- Salih Muslim Muhammad: No. The Muslim Brotherhood does not acknowledge the existence of the Kurds. They have signed an agreement with Turkey that they will deny the existence of the Kurds if they come to power in Syria...

U.S. diplomat Brett McGurk Visits Kurdish, Arab Fighters in Syria
by Naharnet Newsdesk, 31-1-2016

A delegation including senior U.S. diplomat Brett McGurk met with members of a Kurd-Arab alliance fighting the Islamic State jihadist group inside Syria on Saturday, Kurdish sources said Sunday. The visit appeared to be the first by a senior U.S. government official inside Syrian territory.
McGurk, who is U.S. President Barack Obama's envoy to an international coalition fighting IS in Syria and Iraq, was accompanied by French and British officials, the sources told AFP.
One Kurdish source close to the meeting said a "high-level military delegation from the international coalition (against IS)," met Saturday with senior members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance. The source said the talks in the Kurdish town of Kobane covered "military plans" for the fight against IS.

The SDF is an alliance of Syrian Kurds and Arabs who are fighting IS with support from the U.S.-led coalition. It is composed mostly of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), a powerful militia that has proved Syria's most effective force against IS, along with smaller units of Syrian Arab Muslim and Christian fighters.
The meetings come after the YPG's political wing, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), was excluded from new peace talks in Geneva being organized by the U.N.
Despite cooperation between the U.S.-led coalition and the YPG in the fight against IS, the Kurdish militia and its political branch face fierce opposition from neighboring Turkey.
Ankara considers the PYD and YPG to be affiliates of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged an armed insurgency in Turkey, while Syria's opposition accuses them of being too close to the regime in Damascus.

Baghdad and Iraqi Kurds agree to cooperate on economic reform
By Ahmed Rasheed, Reuters, 1-2-2016

A delegation from Iraq's cash-strapped Kurdistan region agreed on Sunday with the government in Baghdad to cooperate on reforms aimed at dealing with an acute economic crisis afflicting them both.
Relations between the two sides have been strained in recent years by ongoing disputes over revenue sharing, the budget and the authority to export oil.
The Kurdish delegation, led by the region's Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, met with Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other senior government officials.
"We think the meeting was positive considering the nature of the problems and contentious issues still lingering between both sides," Abadi's spokesman Saad al-Hadithi said after the talks.

Kurdish officials have warned in recent weeks that their region faces an economic collapse. Kurdistan enjoyed an economic boom in the wake of the United States-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, receiving a share of the revenue from Iraq's rising oil exports.
But Baghdad cut funding to the region in 2014 after the Kurds, in pursuit of economic independence, built their own pipeline to Turkey and began exporting oil without federal government approval.