Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I have my own red lines about Ferguson

If Obama continues to sanction the use of force on peaceful protesters, I may have to resort to NATO military intervention to keep the peace, just as NATO kept the peace in Libya.  Is this not a quintessential American policy?

Palestinian poet, Samih Qasim, is dead

Palestinian poet, Samih Qasim is dead.  He would have been far better known had he not lived in the age of Mahmud Darwish.

A most rare picture: Nasrallah, `Imad Mughniyyah, and Qasim Sulaymani

What do we know about Prince `Abdul-`Aziz bin Fahd: who was ambushed in Paris

I am hearing that the ambush in Paris aimed at kidnapping and not armed robbery but I have not confirmed that.  The Prince is the most powerful among the sons of Fahd by virtue of his wealth. The King has clipped his political wings as he was removed from the Council of Ministers, which was at the insistence of his father.  Fahd was at a fortune teller long time ago when the prince as a child. The fortune teller told him that `Abdul-`Aziz (`Azzuz is the pet name) is a good omen for him and will bring him good fortune. The super-superstitious king decided to keep the prince at his side, even at formal functions at Buckingham Palace, to the consternation of British protocol officials. The prince as a result did not get much of an education and you can review his Arabic tweets for that.  He was known for partying and jet setting.  He was an addict of the TV show, Baywatch, and developed an obsession with the actress Yasmeen Bleeth.  He spent a fortune (far more than what the Saudi government spent on Gaza) on Bleeth in the hope of romancing her.  In recent year, the prince changed ways and became a religious nut: he has been sponsoring a variety of TV Salafite channels that agitated for the Syrian Jihadi cause.  Enjoy him, please. He is one of US closest allies in the region.

Don't look for Al-Arabiyyah TV to cover this story

Don't wait for Al-Arabiyyah to cover the story of the armed ambush of the convoy of Prince `Abdul-`Aziz bin Fahd.  The prince has a big say at the station of his maternal uncle.

This is how Al-Riyadh newspaper coverd the story of the ambush of Prince `Abdul-`Aziz Bin Fahd

"Paris: a Saudi tourist was victim of armed robbery".

Prince `Abdul-`Aziz bin Fahd: look for dirty Lebanese hands

"Dès leur arrivée, leurs intermédiaires libanais ou égyptiens amènent jusqu'à eux toutes sortes de solliciteurs, bijoutiers, marchands de tapis ou agents immobiliers. »" (thanks "Ibn Rushd")

Who was the Saudi Prince who was ambushed in Paris?

According to Mujtahidd it was none other than Prince `Abdul-`Aziz bin Fahd. (thanks Pierre)

Smoking a joint versus committing terrorism in Saudi Arabia

In the Saudi kingdom of horrors, a man will be executed if he was caught smoking a joint. But a terrorist with Al-Qa`idah or ISIS, will receive a free pick up truck and a six month special vacation from the rehabilitation program centers of the Ministry of Interior. #Mothers_of_ISIS

Who is afraid of rape in Syria?

From a Western reporter who does not want to be identified: ""Residents take to the streets, begging the FSA to remain in their villages, save their lives, and protect them from ISIS’s signature mass murder, torture, and brutal rape."
please do not thank me or attribute to me.  now allegations of rape go down well but in reality residents of northern Syria are more likely to seek help from ISIS to protect themselves from the FSA's murder, torture and rape of course this was written by Fred Hoff not Dadem"

Nicholas Blanford's secret sources in Hizbullah: don't tell anyone

"said the Hezbollah veteran, using a slur for Shiites popular with Sunni jihadis. He requested anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media." (thanks Basim)

Lies and fabrications of Nicholas Blanford: what is new, right?

So Blanford makes this claim that Hizbullah lowered the age of fighter from 18 to 16.  What is his evidence? It gets flimsy as usual:  "showed a slim youth with a mop of dark hair who looked even younger than his 16 years".  Because this guy is notorious for his lies and fabrications on all matters related to Hizbullah (look at his typical methods of documentation: "According to people close to Hezbollah and Shiite residents of the northern Bekaa Valley"), I in fact read this yesterday, and sent inquiries to my sources in Lebanon to check. The first thing that people told me is this: Al-Akhbar and As-Safir have much closer relationship with Hizbullah but how come the military branch of Hizbullah instead of divulging secrets and information to allies in the media, they always seem to chose this hostile Western correspondent whose only known in Beirut for his hagiography of Rafiq Hariri (I am told he is working on a second edition because the first edition contained the earlier theory of Hariri family which did not accuse Hizbullah of responsibility).  So I asked my sources in Lebanon and here what I was told on this matter: Training age in Hizbullah was and remains 16 years of age.  Fighting age was and remains 18, with permission from parents.  They added another condition: that an only child won't be allowed to fight, even with parents' permission.  And the party, is always strict in its rules. In the militias of Lebanese and Palestinian organizations during the war, there were cases of fighters below the age of 16 even.  Hizbullah does have its own scouts and Blanford is never a stickler for facts. But wait: he here pretends that he understands Arabic so well that he carried a conversation in Arabic to his readers: "“They were only 10 meters from us, yelling ‘we are coming to kill you, O Rafideen’,” said the Hezbollah veteran".  Oh, yeah? Only they never use the word Rafideen but Rafidah.  This man's reportage is an anthology of lies and fabrications. 

lies about ISIS

From a Western correspondent in the Middle East who is afraid of being labeled as an ISIS sympathizer:  "in reality there does not seem to be evidence that 700 people were killed, as far as actual sources from derezor can confirm, 1,200 members were detained and only 100 are confirmed killed
i am very skeptical about all accounts of ISIS killing children, enslaving women, raping etc, especially when there is no evidence
there's no reason to invent things about them, they're brutal enough, but because of that people are willing to believe anything and everything about them
they are briefly brutal when they enter a place and kill people who in their logic deserve it, and this salutary use of violence suffices to establish control and then violence in isis controlled areas decreases dramatically".

Israeli universities are accomplicies in the crimes in Gaza

"Almost every Israeli university is bolstering its complicity in this horror by rewarding students who took part in the attack on Gaza, including those who might have participated in war crimes. These benefits are not only practical; they also serve to glorify and elevate those who took part in the massacre, further cementing the cherished role of the military in Israeli society, especially among its youth."

The Vatican wants war

" "The Vatican has been increasingly showing support for military intervention in Iraq, given that Christians are being directly targeted because of their faith." "

Lashes for Saudi woman who called morality police liars

"A Saudi Arabian judge has upheld a sentence of a month in prison and 50 lashes for a businesswoman convicted of insulting members of the morality police during an argument, the local al-Medina newspaper reported on Sunday." (thanks Amir)

Purely on merit: a Saudi-Egyptian bid wins

A Saudi-Egyptian engineering alliance wins a bide for the Suez Canal. (thanks Yusuf)

The Jewish Chronicle is forced to apologize for running an ad for *humanitarian aid* in Gaza

"The Jewish Chronicle, a British newspaper, has apologized for running an advertisement for a charity raising funds for the crisis in Gaza.

The weekly paper said running the ad for the Disasters Emergency Committee's Gaza Crisis Appeal was "meant as a purely humanitarian gesture," BBC reported. "

A new trend in counting casualties in Gaza

From Krim: "This is part of a new trend in Western MSM to play down Gaza casualty figures. And if they get away with doing it in Gaza they will probably try to do it somewhere else tomorrow.

"Caution needed with Gaza casualty figures"

"So there were 226 members of armed groups killed, and another 709 men who were civilians. Among civilians, three times as many men were killed as women, while three times as many civilian men were killed as fighters.
...
Nonetheless, the proportion of civilian men over 18 killed seems high and it is not immediately obvious why."

This reminds me of how the US government classifies every military age man it kills as an insurgent or terrorist."

Zionists are freaking out, worldwide

"Glasgow City Council expresses doubts over reports of 'cancelled' conference due to Palestinian flag waving". (thanks K)

Egypt on Tuesday urged U.S. authorities to exercise restraint

""Egypt on Tuesday urged U.S. authorities to exercise restraint in dealing with racially charged demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo. – echoing language Washington used to caution Egypt as it cracked down on Islamist protesters last year. It is unusual for Egypt to criticise such a major donor, and it was not immediately clear why the government would have taken such a step." " (thanks David)

What did Hillary say about Al-Qa`idah?

Arabs are widely circulating this video of Hillary in which she talks (rather candidly) about the establishment of Al-Qa`idah and fellow Jihadis and the US complicity.  But the Arabic video mistranslates the word "fund" (to mean found). 

Four men were executed in Najran, Saudi Arabia, after being convicted of drug possession: propagandists of Saudi princes in DC would not tweet on that

Writers in the barns of Saudi princes feign outrage at the practices of ISIS when ISIS is nothing but an offspring of the Saudi Kingdom of horrors.  ISIS is teaching the Wahhabi textbook (that lousy book by Muhammad Ibn `Abdul-Wahab titled Risalat At-Tawhid) but the writers of Saudi princes in the West who are paid to beautify the image of the kingdom and to pretend that the Saudi media are opposed to fanaticism would not mention this. 
"Human rights organization Amnesty International claimed the case brought against the men -- two pairs of brothers from the same extended family -- was based on false confessions obtained during torture. The London-based organization also noted an increase in the number of executions in Saudi Arabia, which it called "disturbing." The 17 executions over the past two weeks compares to 17 in the prior six months, and 79 in all of 2013."

Destruction in Gaza

"Robert Serry, the United Nation's most senior official for the Middle East, told the UN security council on Monday that "the volume of reconstruction will be about three times" what it was after the 2008 09 Gaza conflict. The scale of destruction and corresponding humanitarian needs were unprecedented, he said."

Washington Think Tanks are a class act

""A Washington thinktank has issued an apology after telling the human rights group Amnesty International to suck it on Twitter."" (thanks Regan)

PS When I came to Georgetown in 1983, CSIS was affiliated with the University.  But the University then appointed a special commission to assess the academic stature and production of the Center and concluded that it does not warrant any academic affiliation.

To Have a black president is the worst thing to happen to blacks in the US

Having an African-American president has been the worst development for African-Americans in the US. For many reasons: 1) it basically made many whites feel that racism is now dead, and that the very election of ONE African-American person to the presidency is all what is needed to wash away all the sins of the republic against African-Americans, and should in itself force African-Americans to just forget about slavery and racism and to stop whining and complaining.  2) this black president has been desperate to show that he is not really black from day one, and has avoided every opportunity to speak against racism.  And in that one speech that he gave about race (not about racism) he manages to please whites because he makes the issue of racism a mere misunderstanding and he lays the blame on both sides. Man/Woman: this is a man who said that his grandmother's fears of black men was justified.  3) the election of this black president will now end the little motive in the political process to address grievances of African-Americans.  4) this particular African-American has basically spent his entire time in the White House trying to prove to white Americans that he is above and beyond race.  5) This African-American president has been using violence indiscriminately in various parts of Africa and Asia, and thus the idea of violence by white cops against blacks in Missouri would not in any way disturb him.  He would in fact be hypocritical to feign outrage.

If you apply the Syrian model on the US

All Western correspondents who write on Syria (perhaps with the exception of one, Patrick Cockburn) resort to the same cliched narrative about Syria: that the peaceful protesters transformed (as in transformers) into Islamist Jihadi rebels when they were repressed by the regime.  Would those correspondents find such a scenario logical if applied in Ferguson?

American National Coalition and Ferguson

What if the protesters in Ferguson were to form an opposition council, named American National Coalition. And what if they were to seek funding and arming from enemies of the US, like North Korea, Al-Qa`idah, and Cuba.  And what if they were to invite the Russian ambassador to Ferguson, who then engaged in agitation on the ground?  And what if the American National Coalition were to invite foreign troops into the US against the government?  How would the US government and people handle such a development?  This scenario is derived, of course, from Syria, where the US ambassador agitated among the protesters. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

U.S. military aid to Israel exceeds $100 billion

"U.S. military aid to Israel exceeds $100 billion"

Israel is secular but...

"But a Times analysis of major trafficking cases since 2000 suggests that Israelis have played a disproportionate role. That is in part because of religious strictures regarding death and desecration that have kept deceased donation rates so low that some patients feel they must turn elsewhere."

Many Israelis are secular but.. (how much is "many"?)

"Although many Israelis are secular, even nonreligious Jews grasp for the faith’s instructions at the end of life."

Churchill's racism

"Underlying Churchill’s refusal to alleviate the famine was sheer racial contempt. “Starvation of anyhow underfed Bengalis is less serious than that of sturdy Greeks,” he said, and those who worked with him knew well his tirades about the “foul race” of Hindus. In the postwar years he railed against the Labour government for granting India its independence...Churchill’s commitment to Zionism was based on his belief that the Jews were a “higher grade race” than the Arabs they were supplanting."

Even this far right Israeli is talking about Israeli racism against Arabs (something American liberals deny)

"there is a great deal that Jewish Israelis can and must do to marginalize, and if possible to suppress, the foul anti-Arab voices that have been heard in Israel these past two months."

When Israel kidnaps Palestinians

"Israeli soldiers invade, on Monday at dawn, dozens of Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank, and occupied Jerusalem, ransacked homes while interrogating families, and kidnapped at least six Palestinians."

shouted epithets of hatred toward Arabs including "death to the Arabs." They sang a song that urges, "May your village burn down." "

"Protesters, many of them young men wearing black shirts, denounced Malka, who was born Jewish and converted to Islam before the wedding, as a "traitor against the Jewish state," and shouted epithets of hatred toward Arabs including "death to the Arabs." They sang a song that urges, "May your village burn down." "

Gaza a "water and environmental disaster area"

" "Because of the Israeli bombardment of the infrastructure, there is a lack of water across the Gaza Strip," he said. Most residents suffered water shortages even before the war, but now Monzer Shoblak, an official from the local water board, said war damage meant that Gaza was pumping 50 percent less water. Shoblak's water authority declared Gaza a "water and environmental disaster area." "

Obama is the greatest enemy to press freedom

"It's hard to fathom how the president who started with the press fluffing his pillows has ended up trying to suffocate the press with those pillows. How can he use the Espionage Act to throw reporters and whistle-blowers in jail even as he defends the intelligence operatives who "tortured some folks," and coddles his C.I.A. chief, John Brennan, who spied on the Senate and then lied to the senators he spied on about it?" "They don't want to believe that Obama wants to crack down on the press and whistle-blowers. But he does. He's the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation." " (thanks Amir)

Candid talk about Syrian moderate rebel groups

"This coming together of old rivals and enemies in opposition to Isis is happening in Iraq, but not yet in Syria where the US, Europeans, Turks, Saudis and Qataris continue with their old bankrupt policy. This is to get rid of or least weaken President Bashar al-Assad by backing a moderate military opposition that is supposedly going to fight both Mr Assad and Isis. Unfortunately, this group scarcely exists except as a propaganda slogan and a consumer of subsidies from the Gulf. Isis dominates the Syrian opposition and that domination grew greater last week as it captured the towns of Turkmen Bareh and Akhtarin, 30 miles from Aleppo." (thanks Basim)

ICC and Palestine

""The international criminal court has persistently avoided opening an investigation into alleged war crimes in Gaza as a result of US and other western pressure, former court officials and lawyers claim.
...Some international lawyers argue that by trying to duck an investigation, the ICC is not living up to the ideals expressed in the Rome statute that "the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished".
John Dugard, a professor of international law at the University of Leiden, in the Netherlands, and a longstanding critic of Israel's human rights record, said: "I think the prosecutor could easily exercise jurisdiction. Law is a choice. There are competing legal arguments, but she should look at the preamble to the ICC statute which says the purpose of the court is to prevent impunity."
...There is strong US and Israeli pressure on the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, not to pursue an ICC investigation.
Western pressure on the ICC to stay away from the issue has caused deep rifts within the prosecutor's office....
Luis Moreno Ocampo, who was prosecutor at the time of the Palestinian 2009 declaration, backed Bensouda, saying in an email to the Guardian: "If Palestine wants to accept jurisdiction, it has to submit a new declaration."
But another former official from the ICC prosecutor's office who dealt with the Palestinian declaration strongly disagreed. "They are trying to hiding behind legal jargon to disguise what is a political decision, to rule out competence and not get involved," the official said....
Moreno Ocampo took three years to make a decision on the status of the 2009 Palestinian request for an investigation, during which time he was lobbied by the US and Israel to keep away. According to a book on the ICC published this year, American officials warned the prosecutor that the future of the court was in the balance.
According to the book, Rough Justice: the International Criminal Court in a World of Power Politics, by David Bosco, the Americans suggested that a Palestine investigation "might be too much political weight for the institution to bear. They made clear that proceeding with the case would be a major blow to the institution."
Although the US does not provide funding for the ICC, "Washington's enormous diplomatic, economic and military power can be a huge boon for the court when it periodically deployed in support of the court's work," writes Bosco, an assistant professor of international politics at American University.
In his book, Bosco reports that Israeli officials held several unpublicised meetings with Moreno Ocampo in The Hague, including a dinner at the Israeli ambassador's residence, to lobby against an investigation.
A former ICC official who was involved in the Palestinian dossier said: "It was clear from the beginning that Moreno Ocampo did not want to get involved. He said that the Palestinians were not really willing to launch the investigation, but it was clear they were serious. They sent a delegation with two ministers and supporting lawyers in August 2010 who stayed for two days to discuss their request. But Moreno Ocampo was aware that any involvement would spoil his efforts to get closer to the US."
"There is enormous pressure not to proceed with an investigation. This pressure has been exerted on Fatah and Hamas, but also on the office of the prosecutor," [the French lawyer representing the Palestinians, Gilles]
Devers said. "In both cases, it takes the form of threats to the financial subsidies, to Palestine and to the international criminal court."
Among the biggest contributors to the ICC budget are the UK and France, which have both sought to persuade the Palestinians to forego a war crimes investigation."" (thanks Regan)

At least Sadiq Al-Azm is conceding that he is sect-obsessed

"Like many in Damascus, I found myself beginning, almost unconsciously, to weigh every word according to the religious affiliations of passing acquaintances and close friends alike. "

No, Sadiq Jalal Al-Azm

While you chose silence, there have been many Syrians who were brave and spoke out against the regime and were put in jail for their courage:  "But life flowed routinely on the surface. Talking about the situation publicly was out of the question. Even hinting at it was dangerous. When someone did speak up, others quickly changed the subject. A conspiracy of silence was the order of the day." But not you. Not you at all. You attained your courage as soon as you left Syria. (thanks Max)

Gaza

NYT

Stories about ISIS

It has to be said: not defending the kooks of ISIS but a lot of the stories about ISIS in the Western and especially the Arabic press have proven to be false, and many of them originate from the lacking-in-credibility Syrian Observatory. 

"As Repression Escalates on US Campuses, an Account of My Ordeal With the Israel Lobby and UC": Enter Abe Foxman

"On March 19, Foxman arrived at UCSB for a meeting hosted by Religious Studies professor Richard Hecht and attended by Deans David Marshall and Michael Young and several faculty members. Cynthia Silverman by his side, Foxman demanded that the university take action against me. Some of the meeting participants told me that Foxman requested the meeting at UCSB for the sole purpose of demanding that university officials investigate me for introducing course materials critical of Israeli state policies. In fact, the only agenda item of this meeting was my case. History professor Harold Marcuse, who attended the meeting, later stated: "When the meeting started, Foxman quickly launched into what I would call a rant about what he said was an anti-Semitic email that professor Robinson sent to his class. We then had an open discussion about Foxman's comments and the charges against Robinson. In my recollection, that was the only thing we talked about at the meeting. Nothing else was discussed."" (thanks Talal)

The case against Alan Dershowitz

My latest blog post for Al-Akhbar English:  "The case against Alan Dershowitz".