Thursday, June 30, 2011


I hate when Israelis speak English they follow every word with "ehhhhhhhhh".  As in: Israel ehhhh is ehhhh justified ehhhh to ehhhhh massacre ehhhhhh Arab ehhhh children ehhhhh.

It is official: House of Saud believes that Israel should monopolize the possession of nuclear weapons in the Middle East

If this lousy royal family made as much noise about Israeli nuclear weapons in the 60s and 70s, maybe the world would have taken notice.  Prince Turki makes it clear here: only Israel should have nuclear weapons in the region. (thanks AK)

The role of my former friend, Usama Ramadani, in the Bin Ali regime

"Dans une note confidentielle que s'est procurée Le Canard enchaîné et adressée au patron de l'ATCE, Oussama Romdhani, elle se félicite d'avoir « œuvré en vue de corriger la perception injuste de la réalité politique tunisienne ».
Mais dans les dernières lignes, l'employée d'Image 7 regrette que tous les journalistes ne jouent pas encore le jeu :
« [Il s'agit] des journalistes spécialisés dans la politique internationale, qui sont globalement de culture marxiste et droit-de-l'hommiste et essaient de présenter encore le régime tunisien comme un pays non démocratique, peu soucieux des droits de l'individu. »" 

He is the one who used to tell me that he wants to reform the regime from the inside.  (thanks Ahmet)

Obama's wars

"The US military has carried out a number of attacks in recent years against top Al-Qaeda militants believed to be hiding in Somalia, but last week's incident appeared to be the first drone strike, the Post said." (thanks Christopher)

Israeli nationalist motives: not a factor here

"The suspect claimed the act was not driven by nationalist motives but because the Palestinian was "staring at his sister.""

Ali Salman hearts the Bahrain royal family

""This dialogue will be successful if there is a principal person from Royal Family like the Crown Prince present in the process. He understands the demand and the opposition sees him as a leader, who could solve this crisis."" (thanks Basim)

The Muslim Brotherhood: the vehicle of the Arab counter-revolution

"Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood says that it welcomes formal contacts with the United States as a way to clarify its institutional vision. But no such contacts have yet been made, a spokesman for the Islamist group said on Thursday.   A senior US official said on Wednesday that the United States had decided to resume formal contacts with the Brotherhood, a step that reflects its growing political weight but is almost certain to upset Israel and its US backers."

Can you imagine the uproar worldwide if this happened in a country that is in conflict with the US? Can you imagine if this happened in Iran?

"The religious police in Saudi Arabia arrested five women on Tuesday for driving in defiance of a ban on women getting behind the wheel in the conservative kingdom, according to activists and local media reports."

A matter of language in the New York Times

"with the brutality of the ruling Assad family".   I, of course, don't object to refer to the Asad rule in Syria as brutal.  It is indeed.  But would any correspondent in the New York Times dare to refer to the ruling Israeli government as brutal?  Ever???  No matter how much killing and massacring Israel is doing?  I will offer a $1000 to any New York Times correspondent who will get away describing an Israeli government as brutal.

shades of foreign intervention

"If MacMaster's act smacks of the Orientalist mentality typical of the old colonialists, Grapel was a soldier in the army of the one remaining settler colonialist country in the world, Israel. The wonder is that with such a background he seems not to have known how unpopular the Israelis are in Egypt, assuming that no Egyptian would suspect his motives in joining the protests.   One sad by-product of the actions of MacMaster and Grapel is that they offer the corrupt regimes of the region, desperate to remain in power, with an opportunity to manufacture fear and xenophobia.  Foreign threats, real or illusory, have always been summoned up as a justification for rallying behind unpopular regimes. It's a tactic that was recently employed in Egypt in the days preceding the overthrow of Mubarak.  Fortunately, the ugly xenophobia directed at foreign journalists covering the uprising, and unleashed no doubt by the security forces, did not last for long.  However, I should point out that in talking about manufacturing xenophobia I am distinguishing between an unjustified fear of foreigners and the legitimate anti-Israeli sentiments emanating from the threat Israel poses to the security of the region. The Israeli threat to Arab national security is something that most Arabs, Egyptians included, take seriously."

quiet submission: US and Saudi women

"As Allison Janney’s C.J. Cregg once fumed on “The West Wing” about Saudi Arabia: “This is a country where women aren’t allowed to drive a car. They’re not allowed to be in the company of any man other than a close relative. They’re required to adhere to a dress code that would make a Maryknoll nun look like Malibu Barbie. They beheaded 121 people last year for robbery, rape and drug trafficking. They have no free press, no elected government, no political parties. And the royal family allows the religious police to travel in groups of six carrying nightsticks, and they freely and publicly beat women. But ‘Brutus is an honorable man.’ Seventeen schoolgirls were forced to burn alive because they weren’t wearing the proper clothing. ... Saudi Arabia, our partners in peace.”    It would have been thrilling if Hillary 2011 had simply channeled Hillary 1995, when, as first lady, she made her bodacious speech in Beijing, declaring that “women’s rights are human rights.”  In her memoir, Hillary wrote that, despite pressure against it, she was determined to give that speech because she was fed up with “the crucial concerns of women” getting sacrificed “to diplomatic, military and trade issues.”  So it was startling on Monday when Saudi women activists, struggling to bring the Arab Spring to the medieval House of Saud by urging women to drive, chided Hillary for her silence.   Clinton’s office responded that the secretary had used “quiet diplomacy” — raising the issue, and more pressing ones, in a call with the Saudi foreign minister on the Day of Driving Dangerously."

Arms for Arab rebels

So Le Figaro revealed that France has been dumping all sorts of weapons on Libyan tribes.  I thought it was funny.  They lecture Lebanese and Palestinians that their struggle (against a most brutal occupation) should adhere strictly to non-violent struggle.  Hizbullah is told to lay down its arm (although Lebanon has no Army although yesterday it received 48 computers from UNIFIL and that should really bolster Lebanese military posture vis-a-vis Israel) and that Lebanon should just welcome Israeli aggression.  Yet, the US supports the violence used not only by Israel but also by Arab regimes against their people, and when the US stumbles on militias (that it often creates) which don't pose a threat to its interests and to Israel's it embraces them and arms, like the Libyan Transitional Council.  So you now support giving arms to Libyan rebels and yet want Lebanon to be unarmed against Israeli aggression?  Who formulate those policies for the US and convince it that they will really be widely and warmly received by Arabs?  How dumb is that?  US dumped most advanced weapons and billions in aid to an international army of Muslim fanatics (who produced Bin Laden and Al-Qa`idah) and yet wants Lebanon to disarm all those who want to defend Lebanon against Israeli aggression?  Go play in the Israeli garden.

Arab liberals

Just one word.  I know that no one--I mean, no one--take seriously those who refer to themselves as Arab liberals (because they all are propagandists for the various Saudi princes.  Take Marwan Mu`ashshir: this is an Arab liberal?  A guy who worked and advised a despot and his son?  He drafted an article today calling for investigation of Bashshar on charges of wars against humanity.  I don't mind any investigation of Bashshar but would that guy (who bragged in his tedious and boring book that no one read despite English and Arabic promotions by US government that he intervened to delete a reference to the right of return in the Saudi Thomas Friedman "peace plan") dare to call for investigation of Israeli war crimes?  Let me just put this questions: those so-called Arab liberals.  Wla (this is Arabic and hard to translate) say something about woman's right to drive cars in Saudi Arabia?  Say one word? ONE WORD.  Do you dare?  Do you dare support a most basic and axiomatic right such as the right to drive?  You talk about liberties?  Wla you believe in the liberties of Saudi princes only.  Qal Arab liberals qal. What a joke.  


The post from yesterday about Zizek and Lady Gaga turned out to be a hoax.  I pointed that out in an update.  Sorry.

Hariri Tribunal

I rarely comment on this silly exercise. Comrade Omar Nashabe of Al-Akhbar has written extensively on all the problems that mar the process of this potato court. Where do you begin? The first German investigator Mellis who gave political interviews right and left and never hid his political agenda? The fact that the Western press has UNIFORMLY covered up the corruption of the case? Did any US newspaper report that the second-in-command of the court went around offering sales of tapes of interviews with key witnesses and New TV obtained them and aired them? That what we heard from those tapes show beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was a most unprofessional and corrupt proceeding, even in comparison to the corrupt justice system in Lebanon? That the Hariri family were allowed to control the entire affair and to provide witnesses some of whom turned out to be false witnesses? That we have a tape in which Hariri and his aides are feeding and influencing the testimony of the worst false witness in the case, Muhammad Zuhayr As-Siddiq? That the meetings with the tribunal's people were clearly (from the tapes of New TV) chit chat sessions? American traffic courts are run more professionally. Or the negotiations between the court and the Hariri family to delay the release of the four generals? Or the arrest of the four generals for purely political reasons?? One of the four generals talked about how he got an offer for cooperation if he fingered Syria. And what about those Wikileaks documents that show court's higher ups taking instructions from US diplomats? And about an investigation that started with a premise and ruled out any ally of the US from the suspects' list? And what about the shift in targeting from Syria to Hizbullah following shifts in US and Saudi foreign policies? What about the timing? All this time and just as the cabinet in Lebanon was forming, they release the report and leak the names? All this is a coincidence? And was one Israeli official ever questioned (although I believe that Rafiq Hariri was a good friend of Israel and its interests in Lebanon and for that I never mourned him but I did mourn the innocent civilians who died there--car bombs are nasty, man). And what about the series of resignations from the court? And what about the way in which the court officially refused to address legal concerns of the four generals? Do you have doubts that the court is run from the Near East section of the State Department? Who are you fooling? Today, they leaked that they will accuse Syria and Hizbullah, but why not Venezuela and Cuba? Why not point the finger at every enemy of the US and Israel? Why not Hamas too? You think anyone is taking the court seriously? Look at public opinion polls in Lebanon, even among Sunnis. Hasan Nasrallah did an excellent job in discrediting the court in Lebanese and Arab eyes. This is a joke, really. So they leaked the name of four Hizbullah members (supplied by ISRAEL NO DOUBT). What is next? Will Sa`d Hariri take his supporters to the southern suburbs to arrest the accused? What will the "international community"--how I hate that word which is used to hide not so sneakily the heavy handed US role in international affairs--do? What can they do? Freeze the assets of Hasan Nasrallah in the US and Europe? Or will they ban him from traveling with his grand kids to Disney Land? As we say in Lebanon, go play in the garden. Israel killed more than 1300 civilians in the July war on Lebanon in 2006, and you want me to spend sleepless nights wondering who killed a man who did so much to cause destruction and discord in Lebanon? I don't care to know who killed Hariri and Sa`d Hariri is not the first creature to lose his father. I lost my father but never brought Lebanon to the brink of civil war. Take down all the pictures and statues of Rafiq Hariri and move his grave site to Sidon--to the Garbage Mountain there.

PS It bothers me how submissive the mainstream US press is to the dictates of US government. I don't recall reading one negative article about Hariri in any US newspaper. Not one. I can't recall reading one in the British press--and I am not talking about Robert Fisk who is an unreliable weaver of tales and peddler of Hariri press office releases.

The US ambassador in Lebanon

The US ambassador in Lebanon is aghast.  She could not believe that Hasan Nasrallah had accused the US embassy in Beirut of espionage.  The US ambassador in Beirut read an angry statement yesterday.  Basically, she wants all to know: the US government does not engage in espionage in Lebanon.  US activities in Lebanon are devoted to charity work--nothing else.  It it time that people know that.  But espionage? US? No way.  Nasrallah was way off here.

Speaking Arabic

Yesterday, the French ambassador read a statement in Arabic with a North African accent.  All Russian diplomats who deal with the Middle East speak Arabic fluently.  The former Chinese ambassador to Lebanon was a woman who had a PhD in Arabic literature.  The British ambassador in Beirut speaks Arabic.  This is the most powerful and richest (used to be) country in the world.  We spent billions on the foreign service. Why can't this country produce Arabic speaking diplomats?  Jeffrey Feltman's Arabic does not exceed five words that he uses when the cameras are around to give impression that he can speak the language.  It has not been this way.  US diplomats in the region used to speak Arabic: Richard P Parker's Arabic was outstanding: I was able to talk to him about Arabic grammar.  Richard Murphy did interviews in Arabic and his Arabic had a nice Aleppo accent (he told me that unlike the rest, he did not study in Shimlan--there is an interesting book about "they spies school" in Shimlan).  And the US ambassador in Beirut today can't speak Arabic either.

Voice of NATO

Aljazeera lost Arab public support but it won NATO approval.  Hurrah.

Aljazeeera: worse than Al-Arabiyya and Fox News

So yesterday, I tuned in to Aljazeera main evening (Arab world time) newscast.  It started with a sensational headline: "In Syria, tanks are shelling in cities and towns" or words to that effect but it did include "tanks shelling" (قصف بالدبابات).   So I listened to the newscast and there was nothing about shelling but it reported that Syrian troops with tanks entered certain cities and towns.  So I read other newspapers and found other references to the shelling by tanks.  In Aljazeera's account, the source was "legal activists" (ناشطون حقوقيّون) which is a common source in news and reports on Syria and Western (and its subservient arm in the Saudi and Qatari media).   What is a legal activist? Someone who runs in the streets with law books?  Anyway, in other media, the source is the same but the account puts the casualty at 4 to 6 people.  Now that made me more supicious: the lies that are spread by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and published and used in the Western (and Saudi and Qatari) media has been so vast that I have become very suspicious--in the same way that I am suspicious about the accounts in Syrian TV propaganda outlets although I am now convinced that Muslim Brotherhood and its echo chambers have surpassed the regime in their lies and fabrications.  So how could the shelling by tanks result in the death of 4 to 6 people in one demonstration? Hell, a machine gun could cause more deaths.  Don't get me wrong: this is not about politics and I am fully aware that the Asad regime is capable of committing such atrocities and worse ones were committed in Hamah in 1982 or in Lebanon against the Left and PLO in 1976 (or even against civilian areas of East Beirut in 1978 but there the Israeli militias (known as the Lebanese Forces) were responsible for the instigation of all clashes and wars there at the behest of Israel).  So clearly some one is lying.  I was able to trace the origin of the story to one guy: ONE GUY who lives in...CAIRO.  `Ammar Al-Qurbi (a Syrian dissident) who is a very good and effective speaker on behalf of the Syrian opposition and I don't even know his political affiliations.  I know that he identifies himself, and is identified by the media, as "legal activist".   So you see how one person can start a story that becomes a top headline for Aljazeera.  Aljazeera is now worse than Al-Arabiyya (the news station of King Fahd's brother-in-law) and Fox News, and I mean that literally.  It is discrediting its own coverage of Syria by being so sensation, unreliable, and propagandistic.  It does not even try to cover another point of view: not on Syria and not on any other issue.  It would not, for example, the pro-Bashshar demonstrations.  You want to know how bad Aljazeera has become: yesterday, I kid you not, it said that "tomorrow it is expected that massive demonstrations will turn out in Aleppo".  I kid you not.  It said: "it is expected" (من المتوقّع).  That means that Aljazeera's propaganda impulse allows it to cover events BEFORE THEY EVEN HAPPEN.  Yet, I have not heard of massive demonstrations in Aleppo.  So an event that did not take place was covered a day in advance.  Aljazeera on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood is trying to hijack a popular protest movement in Syria, and in that it is alienating potential secular supporters of the movements.  And Aljazeera is now totally discredited in the eyes of Arab public opinion and people are mocking its coverage on the internet.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Another shift in the military balance of the Middle East

The lousy Lebanese Army received 48 (old) computers (with Windows 64).  This is expected to change the military balance in the Middle East and to defend Lebanon against Israeli attacks.

NBN and Syrian regime

NBN provides the most crude and vulgar propaganda on behalf of the Syrian regime.

To Aljazeera

You can win the approval of NATO but you lose Arab public support.  

What if the Syrian regime asks for "help" from the Iranian regime?

"King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain asked for help from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in mid-March to end demonstrations against the governing Sunni elite. Most Bahrainis are Shiite."

Don't trust the Turkish government

A year ago, I was in Beirut.  There was such a wide mood of support for the Turkish government.  Some thought that Sultan `Abdul-Hamid is coming back to liberate Palestine.  I warned against such support and pointed out that there are tons of secret agreements between Israel and Turkey that are still binding.   I wrote that here too.  Now we see that Turkey is doing its best to restore its honeymoon relations with Israel.  (thanks David)

Zizek and Gaga (no, not Samir Ja`ja`)

"Lady Gaga has struck up a strong friendship with mysterious Marxist Slavoj Zizek, dubbed "the world's hippest philosopher."  In the midst of her rift with long-term boyfriend Luc Carl, eyebrows were raised over Gaga's decision to spend a lot of time with the 62-year-old, bearded, postmodern theorist and pal of Julian Assange while she was touring the UK and US this spring." (thanks William)

PS Sorry.  I am told that this is a hoax.

Sons of...Zayid

"But foreign workers now have cause to be nervous for their futures as the oil-rich emirate cuts costs and responds to the youth-driven protests of the Arab spring by tackling unemployment among nationals.
Government bodies and state-linked enterprises in Abu Dhabi are cutting expatriate staff on orders from the "highest levels" of government, employees have been told.  Expatriates have lost jobs at departments such as local government, urban planning and the executive council secretariat, people aware of the matter say. The redundancies aim to consolidate public finances and boost the number of working nationals.  Hiring more nationals may not, some say, necessarily cut costs greatly but this year's uprisings across the Arab world have created a sense of urgency behind "emiratisation", the policy of promoting national employment in Gulf Arab states.  "Security is paramount for this country," says Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a politics lecturer at UAE University. "Unemployment has been a big part of the Arab uprisings and the government doesn't want to take any chances.""  Yes, `Abdul-Khaliq.  It is about security.  But not security of the people.  It is about the security of the regime that serves US/Israeli interests. 

Al-Manar Media

This is incredible.  Look at this lousy analysis on Al-Manar's website.  You would think that Qadhdhafi is more popular than Nasser.  (thanks Paula)

People want the downfall of the field marshal

This has been the chant in Tahrir Square in the last two days: The People want the downfall of the Field Marshall (It rhymes in Arabic: الشعب يريد إسقاط المشير). 

Peace now supports occupation forever

Look at this lousy statement by Peace Now:  "Let there be no doubt: the organizers of the flotilla are seeking to provoke a confrontation with Israel. In doing so they are playing a dangerous game. None of us knows what the consequences of their actions will be."

Back to Tahrir Square

Comrade Hossam provides continuous and reliable coverage from Tahrir square.

`Abdul-Halim Khaddam

This is one of the ugliest and most corrupt elements of the Asad regime (read about what Saudi Arabia felt about him in Ghazi Qusaybi's book The Accompanying Minister (Al-Wazir Al-Murafiq)).  Now, of course, Khaddam is on the payroll of Hariri/Saudi apparatus (and lives in a Hariri-owned place in Paris) and writes propaganda for both.  (Of course, unlike what the Syrian regime would like us to believe, he was not--is not--the only corrupt element of the regime).  So Khaddam has a new silly book about the Iranian conspiracy.  Al-Arabiyyah is having a full promotion of the book and they brought in a columnist for the Hariri rag, Al-Mustaqbal, to applaud.  This is amusing TV.

How Aljazeera covered Syria and Bahrain: a contrast

Someone has to verify that this is indeed accurate and not manufactured.  (thanks Hassan)

Hillary praises Saudi reforms

"At least five Saudi women have been arrested after defying the kingdom's ban on women drivers, an activist has said."

Uneasy lies his brain

""Jordan's top national interests will be in danger if the Palestinian Authority declares statehood unilaterally – especially in everything related to the issue of refugees, water, Jerusalem, and the borders," the UAE-based al-Bayan quoted a Jordanian state official as saying."

Class factor in attitudes to Syrian protests

There is a class element in the attitudes of some Syrians (who support the regime) against the protesters.  They are seen as riffraffs and are mocked as "Abu Shahhata" (Father of slippers). 

Al-Quds Al-`Arabi

Somebody should tell this to `Abdul-Bari `Atwan: his correspondent in Beirut is a lousy peddler of Hariri propaganda who receives his marching orders from Hariri press office.  Today, he printed on the front page of Al-Quds Al-`Arabi a ridiculous story about Palestinian fighters in Beirut, which only serves to whip up fear and hostility against Palestinians in Lebanon.  It is rather shameful.  Not even the Phalanges' website carried that fabricated story.

Decline of Aljazeera

"In February, Al Jazeera dropped its top-rated talk shows, including “The Opposite Direction,” “Without Borders,” “From Washington,” “In Depth, ” and even “Shari’a and Life,” which was hosted by the popular and controversial Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qardawi. These shows used to cover taboo topics and give a platform to guest speakers who bluntly criticized U.S. war policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the undemocratic policies of Arab regimes.   Arab journalists were shocked by Al Jazeera’s decisions, and some even wondered whether the news outlet could maintain its popularity.   The channel’s director general, Waddah Khanfar defended the changes, saying Al Jazeera had to stay competitive by providing continuous live coverage of the Arab uprisings.  Al Jazeera’s motto, “the opinion and other opinion,” which appeared under its logo for the past 16 years, was replaced with a new one: “Continuous Coverage.” " (thanks Mohammad)

Home demolition in the Zionist entity

"A Committee of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) passed a first draft of a law that will require that Palestinians whose homes are destroyed by Israeli forces pay the Israeli government for the demolition costs."

Shi`ite clerical authorities in Lebanon joins Sunni clerical authorities in opposing a ban on violence against women

Not to be outdone, the Shi`ite head of the clerical authority in Lebanon joins the Sunni clerical establishment in opposing a ban on violence again women in marriage.  How disgusting.  

Ahmad Zaki Yamani

As you know, the Saudi government--inspired by Wahhabi nuttiness--destroys all historical sites in the kingdom, especially those relating to Islam in Mecca and Medina.  Ahmad Zaki Yamani (who is now a fierce critic of the House of Saud and of Wahhabi--although he is a few decades late in that regard) owns a historic house in Mecca and the government is trying to steal it, presumably to destroy it and to build a hotel or brothel or casino--all for the cause of Islam, of course.

An ode to Israeli colonial settlements in the New York Times

"Farming was the core of the settlers’ lives here. They provided 10 percent of Israel’s agricultural output and 65 percent of its organic greenhouse vegetables, exporting $25 million worth of produce annually. Many of those settlers remain in transitional housing inside Israel and in West Bank settlements. The failure of the Israeli government to resettle them properly has been yet one more argument offered in Israel against settler withdrawals for a Palestinian state."

Samir Ja`ja` (Ga`ga` in Egyptian accent) and the Arab peoples

I am not making this up.  The headline of L'Orient-Le Jour is that Ja`ja` (Ga`ga` in Egyptian accent) expresses sympathy for the "suffering Arab peoples." (thanks "Ibn Rushd")

Standards of Saudi media

Read this article in the mouthpiece of Prince Salman and his sons (Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat) on Syria and notice the documentation and citations.  But hell: why should I mock Saudi media when I read in major US newspaper articles with a guy in Washington, DC or another in Maryland as the source of "eyewitness" reports.  

A new Pan-Arab paper to be launched

It cracks me up that Western media refer to the two mouthpieces of two Saudi princes in London (Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat and Al-Hayat) as "pan-Arab".  Why not pan-Saudi to be more accurate.  And since Prince Turki is back in the kingdom, we may expect a new "pan-Arab" Saudi paper to be launched from London.

Prince Turki bin `Abdul-`Aziz and his return to Saudi Arabia

This is a story that is worthy of an investigation.  Sudayri Seven refers to the seven sons of King `Abdul-`Aziz who formed a strong faction that ruled Saudi Arabia after the assassination of the lousy nut, King Faysal (they include the powerful full brothers, like Fahd, Sultan, Nayif, Salman, `Abdul-Rahman and Ahmad who are sons of Hussah Bin As-Sudayri (one of many wives of `Abdul-`Aziz), hence the name).  But the Sudayris broke with one of their own: Prince Turki who had to leave the Kingdom more than 25 years ago after his marriage to Hind Al-Fasi.  We are still not clear about the opposition to Fasi by the rest of the Sudayris but the speculation is that the Princes felt that Fasi (and especially her brother) scandalized the family (yes, the royal family is weary of scandals and is protective of its image.  Brother of Hind, if you remember, bought a mansion in the US and put statues in the garden and painted their genitals).  So Turki lived in silence in Cairo (and even traveled to Boston where he held traffic in the 80s often around Harvard Square).   Ten years ago, a son of Turki gave an interview that was critical of Saudi government.  He was immediately drugged and kidnapped and he even managed to send a message to Aljazeera about his ordeal.  He was never heard from again, and he remains in Saudi Arabia.  Prince Turki returned two weeks ago to Saudi Arabia for the first time in decades.  He was greeted by the de facto ruler, Prince Nayif.  And when Sultan left the kingdom to die in the US, Prince Turki was at the airport to bid him farewell.  But here is the twist: Prince Turki returned only days after the death of his wife, Hind Al-Fasi.  That is not all: I can report to you that brother of Hind Al-Fasi is accusing the House of Saud of murdering his sister.  He says that there is foul play involved.  He was looking for a law firm in London to take up his case.  Will one law firm dare?

Look at the blatant racism in the language of this Israeli newspaper

"The US State Department on Tuesday published its annual Trafficking in Persons report, ranking Israel in the same category as Pakistan and Rwanda.  According to the report findings, "The Government of Israel does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking.""  Zionists are aghast that Israel is put in the same category with nigger nations.  What is the Hebrew word for nigger which is used casually to refer to Ethiopian Jews in Israel?  (thanks Farah)

PS Gregg reminds me the word is kushi (כושי‎) in Hebrew.

Dennis Kucinich in Damascus

I wrote about this in Arabic on Facebook and I need to write about it in English.  The propaganda of the Syrian regime and the propaganda of its allies on Lebanon can't be more wrong about the significance of the visit by Kucinich to Damascus and his meeting with Bashshar.  Kucinich is a dissident leftist in the House of Representatives and does not speak for the administration and his trip in no way reflect a shift in the attitude of the regime--unlike the silly interpretations peddled by supporters of the Syrian regime.  Kucinich is a staunch advocate of the Palestinians and follows Lebanese politics closely (I reported when he called me two years ago to discuss Lebanon and to tell me about his meeting with Fu'ad Sanyurah).   But Bashshar is always eager to win favor with the US: if I send a student to Damascus, I bet Bashshar would find three hours of time to discuss anything with him/her.

To Buthayna Sha`ban: on the collateral damage

I am still pissed at the interview with Skynews that was conducted with Buthayna Sha`ban.  I posted it yesterday.  She referred to the innocent civilians killed by regime soldiers as "collateral damage", very much the way the US dismisses the scores of civilians who are killed by its bombs and rockets in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Yemen and many other places.  Here is an intellectual recruited by the Asad regime and is standing by it in those times.  But when she lends propaganda help to the regime in its killing of its citizens she becomes part of the killing apparatus of the regime.  This is another low of the Asad regime and its lousy propaganda.  "Collateral damage" was invented to dismiss and justify the murder of brown people by the White Man.  Now we see it used to dismiss the killing of civilians by the Syrian regime.  Sha`ban achieved a record of baseness of the Syrian regime, and when the regime falls she will be made to account for this terrorist language.  

Against Syrian regime propaganda

This is an amusing video song about the propaganda of the Asad regime. (thanks Laure)

Silencing the margin

Comrade Amer writes about "when the revolution closes its gates".  

Anti-`Alawite sectarianism

Some asked me to post the words by Yasine Hajj Saleh on his Facebook wall that I felt were anti-Sectarian against Adonis (his family is Isma`ili).   I never defend Adonis but I have to defend those who are unfairly accused of sectarianism.  Here is accusing Adonis, without any evidence whatsoever, of bias against Sunni Islam.  The insinuation can be easily received by the sectarian base of the lousy Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, which Hajj Saleh in a recent article in Al-Hayat made part of a safe and moderate Islamism.  Here is what he wrote:

برايي المشكلة في صلب تفكير أدونيس، وليس في موقفه من الانتفاضة أو في رأيه السياسي اليوم. الرجل يعتبر المشكلة في القرآن وفي" الإسلام، ويفسر التاريخ تفسيرا ثقافويا أحادي الجانب. في نظره المشكلة في ذهنيتنا، أما هياكل السلطة و...الثروة، وأما النظام ...السياسي والاجتماعي القائم، فهو نتاج لهذه الذهنية. والذهنية يكونها النص الديني، والإسلامي تحديدا، وبتحديد أكبر الإسلام السني. فهو يدافع عن الإسلام الشيعي دوما. وتفكيره طائفي منهجيا وسياسيا في آن. أستطيع إثبات ذلك بسهولة من شواهد من عمله،"

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sectarianism and Syrian opposition

I spoke before about the anti-`Alawite bigotry in Lebanon and Syria: i speak about it as a phenomenon before and after the rise of the Ba`th Asad faction.  There should be no excuse to it, at all.  One does not justify anti-Semitism and one should not justify anti-`Alawite sectarianism.  I spoke about the lousy open letter that Adonis wrote to Bashshar in As-Safir.  I have written enough for people to know that I am not a fan of Adonis.  But a reader sent me what Syrian dissident, Yasin Hajj Salih, recently wrote about Adonis on his Facebook page and it is blatantly sectarian and implicitly referred to the Isma`ili faith of Adonis' family.  

Latest propaganda ploy by Buthayna Sha`ban: Syrian regime propaganda learning from US propaganda

She is talking about the Syrian people who were killed by the Syrian regime:  "When you have a violent atmosphere, collateral damage happens."" (thanks Flan)

ICC: The International Court for the Prosecution of Black and Brown People by the White Man

This court is much worse than we had assumed.  It is far worse than the International Court of Justice which at least dared to rule against the US during the Cold War.  This ICC should have been seen for what it is the moment the US decided to support it, provided the US does not ratify the ICC treaty.  In other words, the US (Democratic and Republican) position is that ICC is a great idea provided the US is exempted from its jurisdiction.  The US does not believe that its war crimes are worthy of any punishment.  I say this because I heard that tool of the US, ICC's prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who receives his marching orders from DC.  He was railing about war crimes by Qadhdhafi in the last few months.  Let me ask a simple question: has the Libyan dictator committed more crimes than the US has in Iraq and Afghanistan?  This is why this kangaroo court will never be taken seriously by black and brown people, as much as the White Man loves it.

If Muslim or Christian Arabs did that on Jewish homes, this would be covered in specials on TV and on front pages of newspapers in the US

"Unknown persons sprayed racial slurs and a Star of David on a Palestinian home in the West Bank village of Beitilu. The vandals wrote among other things: Mohammed is dead. Police are searching for the culprits."

House of Saud really hates Egyptian Uprising

The first story on the website of Al-Arabiyyah (the news station of King Fahd's brother-in-law) is a report on a kooky Kuwaiti cleric who opposes the ouster of Mubarak and does not consider the victims of the Egyptian uprising to be "martyrs."  

King PlayStation: Uneasy lies his head

King PlayStation and his wife used to take an annual trip this time of the year to California and drive on his motorcycle along the 49-mile drive in San Francisco area.  Not this year.  He and his wife are too nervous and too insecure to visit, I guess.  Tweet this, Queen Rania.  

US invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban: and now the US won't leave Afghanistan unless the Taliban comes back to power

"U.S. officials met three times this spring with Mohammed Tayeb Agha, an aide to Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, and have pushed to take Taliban leaders off a United Nations blacklist, a move that would make it easier for them to travel abroad."

Israel prepares to kill

"Senior officials in Jerusalem said Monday that Israel has received information that organizers of the Gaza flotilla may be bringing chemical substances on the ships to use against Israeli soldiers to prevent them from boarding the ships."  Don't you like "received information"?  Sounds very reliable to me.  In fact, I received information that organizers of the Gaza flotilla may be bringing nuclear weapons with them.

David Mamet

Comrade Laleh sent me this:  "hasn't transformed that much. he was alsways always fanatically Zionist,
which is usually a better index of how progressive someone is than their view on global warming."

Zionism is racism, always

"Israel has over 100 preschools and schools with a majority of Ethiopian students, a new report by the Knesset Research Center revealed.  The report will be submitted to the Knesset's Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs on Tuesday, as it debated the integration of Ethiopian children in schools."

Morocco censorship in Dubai

Private sources confirm this to me: that Morocco pressured Dubai's polygamous potentates to fire a correspondent who cared to cover protests in Morocco.

Zionism is racism and bigotry and prejudice

"The Interior Ministry is refusing citizenship and new immigrant status to a homosexual married to a Jewish new immigrant, despite the law's stipulation that the child, grandchild and partner of a Jew are entitled to Jewish immigrant rights. Joshua Goldberg and Bayardo Alvarez, both American citizens, immigrated to Israel two weeks ago. Goldberg, who is Jewish, received an Israeli identity card and immigrant certificate on arrival, under the Law of Return. Alvarez, despite exerting much pressure on the ministry, was granted only temporary residence." (thanks Sarah)

Yesterday, Ethan Bronner justified Israeli killing of civilians, and today it is the turn of Isabel Kershner

It was a "confrontation" between two armies, apparently:  "The flotilla is likely to be followed with keen international interest after a previous one 13 months ago ended in bloodshed when Israeli naval commandos intercepted the six-boat flotilla in international waters, setting off a confrontation on a large Turkish vessel that left nine activists dead and many others injured, including seven Israeli soldiers."  Oh, did you cry over the injury of Israeli soldiers, Ms. Kershner?

Syrian energy and potential

Sometimes in the late 1990s, I ran into a high ranking Palestinian leader in Damascus.  And he lived through the experiences of Jordan and then Lebanon.  He told me over lunch: there is such high level of energies and potential among the Syrian people, and they would be unleashed once the country is free.

Zionist lies and fabrications: they are as good in propaganda as the Ba`th Party

"Did Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office distribute a fake anti-flotilla video? This is exactly what some American bloggers have been claiming, after probing a video that was uploaded to YouTube on Sunday.  The video, nearly three minutes long, featured a young man who called himself Marc and claimed to be a gay and human rights activist. The man recounted a story in which he asked the organizers of the upcoming Gaza flotilla to join their mission, and claimed that his request was allegedly denied on the grounds that participation of the gay and lesbian group with which he was affiliated would not serve the flotilla’s “interests.”"  (thanks Yazan)

praying for the master

Libyan NATO rebels praying in Benghazi.  (thanks Mirvat) (AP)

columnists for Saudi princes

It was cute last week when editor-in-chief of Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat (mouthpiece of Prince Salman and his sons) said that he is friends with a columnist at Al-Hayat (mouthpiece of Prince Khalid bin Bribe bin Sultan).  It made me wonder: what do those people talk about when they meet? So does a columnist for a Saudi prince brags about his prince when he meets a columnist for another Saudi prince? Does one say to the other: I love your prince, but my prince is even better? It must be quite fun to show them talk about their respective prince/master.

Fun TV

Yesterday, OTV in Lebanon hosted a debate between pro-Syrian politician, Nasir Qandil, and MP from the Hariri bloc, a Bin Ladenite Salafi by the name of Khalid Dahir, who may have been involved in the massacre of SSNP members in Halba in 2008.  At one point, the host and Qandil pressured Dahir to state that he supports freedom in Saudi Arabia: he was going on about how Hariri bloc supports uprisings in Syria and elsewhere, so they pressed him to state that he is for freedom in Saudi Arabia.  He was so embarrassed and awkward and nervous, and started to sweat on camera.  He did not expect that to happen (all Hariri MPs are subjected to PR training that entail training for TV appearances, and they receive research materials before they go on TV).  He blurted several incomprehensible things: he would say: but they have freedom in Saudi Arabia.  "Freedom is present in Saudi Arabia," he said.  He then said: but they have free medical care in Saudi Arabia.  It was quite a show.  Watch the rerun if you can.

It is most hilarious: orders to columnists in Saudi publication

It has been most amusing:  writers and columnists in Saudi publications are obviously under strict orders to not write on any subject except Syria.  No exaggeration at all. Check all Saudi and Hariri newspapers and websites: only Syria, no other subject is mentioned.  Very funny.   A columnist in the mouthpieces of princes is someone without an independent mind and without dignity.  By definition.

The Samiramis Opposition gathering

I was rather skeptical, if not outright opposed, about the Syrian opposition conference in Samiramis Hotel in Damascus.   I thought that the event would be used to attain legitimacy by the regime, and that the very convening of the conference would be exploited to prove the democratic impulse of the lousy regime.  But I must say that I was impressed with the statement and speeches and that they really tried to not compromise on the goals although I felt that they should have stated categorically that they aim at the overthrow of the regime.  I am sure that a large numbers of the attendees were working for the mukhabrat but the final statement indicated that that they resisted pressures from regime.  Syrian opposition on the outside (read, Muslim Brotherhood) rejected the conference but not for the same reasons that I rejected it: they want to control everything, before and after the overthrow of the regime.  The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood would replace the Ba`thist monopoly of power with a Saudi monopoly of power.  But if I was asked my opinion by the opposition inside Syria, I would have advised that the meeting should not have taken place unless key important conditions have been met by the regime.  Thus far, the regime has only gave promises and typical Ba`thist style committees to study the feasibility of forming committees to study whether the formation of committees is desirable at this stage.  This is Ba`thist reform.

Monday, June 27, 2011

This is reform that impresses the hell out of Washington, DC

"Kuwait will put on trial two citizens for criticising Gulf Arab ruling families on social media site Twitter, a security official said on Monday." (thanks Farah)

US funding of Arab dictatorships

"Officially, the U.S. does not pay other governments for rights to military bases. The logic is straightforward: funneling money to the treasuries of foreign dictators cannot form the foundation of genuine strategic alliances. Yet, to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while staring down the mullahs in Iran, over the last decade the Pentagon has come to rely in an unprecedented way on a web of bases across the Middle East. And a NEWSWEEK investigation of Pentagon contracting practices in Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, and Bahrain has uncovered more than $14 billion paid mostly in sole-source contracts to companies controlled by ruling families across the Persian Gulf. The revelation raises a fundamental question: are U.S. taxpayer dollars enriching the ruling potentates of friendly regimes just as the youthful protesters and the Arab Spring have brought a new push for democracy across the region?
Take a look at Abu Dhabi. The wealthiest of the United Arab Emirates, it hosts a U.S. Air Force base at Al Dhafra, which is a vital refueling hub in the region. As is the case in most Gulf states, Abu Dhabi is ruled by a single family that dominates both government and business. Here it is the Nahyan family, and the emir is 63-year-old Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is known for his interest in camel racing, is worth $15 billion, and controls the country’s national oil company, ADNOC. As it turns out, every drop of fuel America buys for its planes at Al Dhafra—more than 200 million gallons a year, costing $5.2 billion since 2005—is purchased from the Al Nahyan–-controlled ADNOC." (thanks anonymous)

Zizek visits Israel: he is now an expert on the Middle East too

"He proceeded to say that Zionism is not the worst evil in the world...After establishing the deep-rooted vitality of antisemitism, he mentioned that he has no patience for those who excuse Arab antisemitism; that even the most oppressed and poor Palestinian should not be tolerated for being antisemitic."  What do you suggest that we do with the most oppressed and poor Palestinians who express anti-Semitic views?  Kill them? Occupy them again? Double occupy them? (thanks Wardeh)

Lies of Amr Musa

Now Amr Musa is claiming that he approved the sale of Gas to Israel in order to help...the Palestinians.

This will have long term repercussions on Arab/Muslim relations with Jews: how Zionists are always linked to peddlers of hate against Islam

For people who oppose anti-Semitism, like me, it is clear that Israel and Western Zionists are harming not only the future of Arab/Muslim relations with Jewish people (after the liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea), but they are proving that anti-Islam hate in the West is always linked to Zionists (including Christian Zionists).  It is not a conspiracy theory to maintain that hatred of Islam has at least ties to Zionists.  "Prominent Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali has warned that the current Arab uprisings may pose new threats for Islamic extremism to extend its influence not only through overt violence, but also through nonviolent political means.  The first of five Speaker of Truth award honorees at the pro-Israel Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET)’s annual Rays of Light in the Darkness Dinner in Washington on Wednesday night, the Somali-born Ali argued in a live video speech that “The threat of radical Islam to all of us, particularly Israel and America, is not just a military threat. It’s more insidious than that.”" (thanks Nir)

Bahrain Update

Here is the account of my diligent correspondent:  "I thought I would update you on what is going on in Bahrain.  Last wednesday was a horrible depressing day. 21 of Bahrain's most prominent political activists were sentenced.  They were charged with plotting to overthrow the Bahraini government by force with the help of the foreign country (i.e. Iran - I don't understand why they just don't say it).  These activists represented huge segments of Bahraini society.  Among those sentenced to life were Hasan Mushaima and Abdul Wahab Hussain (head of Al Haq and Al Wafa respectively- part of the anti-monarchist coalition), Abdul Jalil Al Singace (head of Al Haq's human rights office), Saeed Al Shihabi (part of Bahrain Freedom movement based in london - sentenced in absentia - wasn't informed of trial against him) and Abdul Hadi AlKhawaja (human rights activist).  Ali AbdelEmam, blogger and founder of Bahrain Online (online political forum) was sentenced to 15 years in absentia.  He is in hiding.  Ibrahim Sharif, head of Waad, was sentenced to 5 years.  There were numerous protests after the sentences and I expect even more protests next week once the sentences for the doctors are handed down.
Of course, all of this is happening before the national dialogue which is to start next week.  Dialogue isn't the best way to describe it actually.  I would call it more of a conference.. 300 people were invited.  No one representing the anti-monarchists (a huge segment of the Bahraini population was invited).  I believe the labor unions got only one invite or none.  The United Barbars Alliance is invited as well as expat groups.  The torturer Adel Flaifel will be invited also.  In this video, he calls for arming the sunnis of Bahrain:   (see minute 3:09 I believe).  Al Wefaq issued a statement saying that the dialogue is not serious but then said that it hasn't made a decision whether it will participate or not. Waad has apparently decided to participate and many Waad members are resigning because they are against the dialogue.  The government apparently has no preconditions.  But of course it is ridden with preconditions.  First of all - the government is issuing the invites so of course it is deciding who will participate or not. As I said before, the anti-monarchist opposition groups are not invited and neither is anyone from the February 14 Youth Movement. Topics off the table include the resignation of the Prime Minister, a key demand of the protestors.  The real dialogue taking place is between the royal family and their supporters.  Last week, the King personally visited the homes of prominent families that are loyal to the monarchy. I wonder what they talked about?  This blog discusses the national dialogue in detail: "

No foreign policy goals for Egyptian uprising?

"Egypt has dropped plans to seek loans from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, Finance Minister Samir Radwan has said.  The move comes after the planned deficit in the 2011-12 budget was revised down from 11% to 8.6% of GDP, Mr Radwan told Reuters news agency.  An adviser told AFP news agency the decision had been partly a response to the "pressure of public opinion".  Many of those who took part in Egypt's uprising denounced the role of the IMF."

The new Egypt: Amr Mousa keeps underlining his anti-Israel credentials

"Potential presidential candidate Amr Moussa on Sunday defended his decision to approve natural gas exports to Israel while he was foreign minister during the reign of former president Hosni Mubarak.
Moussa described the decision as “a political trick.”  An Egyptian newspaper recently revealed that in 1993, Moussa signed a document, addressed to the petroleum minister, approving the sale of gas to Israel.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Moussa said the move was intended to bolster the position of Arab negotiators after the 1991 Madrid Conference. He said approving gas exports was a gesture to show Israel what benefits it could reap from peace with Arabs.  Peace negotiations between Arabs and Israelis started in Madrid in 1991 but were not successful, pushing Palestinians to enter into secret negotiations with Israel in Oslo.  Moussa said Egyptian diplomacy played a key role in the Madrid Conference and the ensuing negotiations.  He added that his decision was "a political trick that involved no concessions to Israel." He said it was meant to lead to Israeli concessions for the Palestinians in particular and the Arabs in general.
Moussa criticized the Egyptian Foreign Ministry for leaking out this document and called for the entire dossier to be revealed to the public, so people learn about his real position on the matter."  (thanks "Ibn Rushd")

Don't believe all that you see on Youtube (unless it is believed and approved by Hillary and Obama)

"I was in Tehran earlier this year and failed to see any demonstrations in the centre of the city, though there were plenty of riot police standing about. I was therefore amazed to find a dramatic video on YouTube dated, so far as I recall, 27 February, showing a violent demonstration. Then I noticed the protesters in the video were wearing only shirts though it was wet and freezing in Tehran and the men I could see in the streets were in jackets. Presumably somebody had redated a video shot in the summer of 2009 when there were prolonged riots." (thanks Nu`man)

Musa Kusa in Qatar

Qatar wants to compete with Saudi Arabia as the last refuge of deposed Arab potentates.  (thanks Laleh)

Reform in Saudi Arabia: beheading maids

"The story of the maids rarely receives attention, except when a new shocking incident reveals once again the problems many of them face. Last weekend a 54-year-old Indonesian maid was beheaded by sword for killing her female boss with a cleaver. Ruyati binti Sapubi had, an Islamic court heard, endured years of abuse before finally attacking her "madam", as the maids call their employers, when denied permission to return home.   Another Indonesian maid also faces execution for killing her boss whom she alleges tried to rape her. Other recent incidents include a Sri Lankan maid who had nails driven into her legs and arms by her employers, and another who was scalded with a hot iron.  Every year, thousands of the maids run away from their employers in Saudi Arabia.   Often physically or mentally scarred, they find themselves in a legal limbo. In Saudi Arabia, the consent of employers or "sponsors" is needed before any worker can leave the country." (thanks Mohammad)

Tom MacMaster's "friend" created another bogus identity

"Tom MacMaster, the US graduate student behind the Gay Girl in Damascus blog hoax, has been accused of creating another fake Arab female online identity to defend his own reputation online.  The Guardian has seen screengrabs of the IP data, emailed by one of the site's hosts Adam Horowitz, that show the post originated from the address  comment on the website Mondoweiss under the name "Miriam Umm Ibni", mounting a spirited defence of MacMaster's conduct in posing as "Amina", a lesbian Syrian woman, was traced by fellow users to the same IP address in Edinburgh that he used for the Amina hoax.   Journalists, bloggers and web users unmasked MacMaster earlier this month as the unlikely hoaxer behind the Amina blog, in part after its posts were traced to the address.   In an email, later posted on the site, MacMaster acknowledged that "Miriam Umm Ibni" was a fake identity, but denied being behind it, saying a "friend of mine who would really like to remain nameless" had posted the comment in his defence. It came from the same IP address because she had been staying with  his wife and him, he wrote." (thanks Khodor)

Aljazeera and Israeli propaganda

"Avidar's group also encourages Israeli officials and pundits to work more closely with Arabic-language media, particularly television networks such as Al Jazeera, and use websites and social media to directly appeal to the new generation of democratically minded Arabs."

Humor of the day: Israel wants to win Arab minds and hearts (I bet it will be as successful as Bush's campaign)

"Proponents of an Arab world campaign say the next priority is the launch of an Arabic-language news channel, which they bill as an Israeli version of Al Jazeera or CNN Arabic. Years ago, the Israel Broadcasting Authority, the nation's public television provider, beamed such a channel throughout the Mideast, but over the years the channel lost funding and focus, Edelstein said. Unfortunately, he added, Israel lost interest in the channel just as satellite television exploded in the Arab world.   Now the IBA is developing a plan to spend more than $30 million to double its Arabic-language programming to eight hours a day and next year launch a new satellite that can beam its signals to the entire region, Gendelman said.  "We are certain it will have a huge viewership in the Arab world," he said. "Israel is an obsession. Even if just for the curiosity, people will watch it.""

Gas to Israel

Al-Masri Al-Yawm published the documents related to the sale of Egyptian gas to Israel.

The article in the Sunday Times about armed people in Syria

Let us be clear that the Syrian regime, its Muslim Brotherhood-led opposition (not the whole opposition), and the Western media which are willing to print and publish and post anything about Syria provided its damaging to the regime and as long as it is consistent with NATO goals in the Middle East.  I mean, not a word is printed about Palestinian struggle against Israel without having to interview every witness by a team of psychiatrists and journalists before Western media accept their verdict.  On Syria (somebody has to write an article about the unprofessional standards of Western (and Aljazeera, to be sure) media in covering Syria for the Columbia Journalism Review), the press has been reckless, casual, unprofessional, and thoroughly unreliable.  Any image on Youtube would do the job.  In fact, in the last issue of Time Magazine there is an article saying that all those who demonstrated in favor of Bashshar in Syria have been paid by the regime.  It has gotten to that point of pure propaganda.  This quality of Western coverage has only facilitated the propaganda of the Syrian regime because now it has come to dismiss the Western coverage of brutal repression by the regime.  A Syrian emailed me today saying that many in Syria are now more likely to disbelieve Western (and Aljazeera) coverage than the coverage of the lying Syrian regime.  So the article of the Sunday Times last Sunday: why was this not mentioned in other media?  Only one person was able to verify the obvious? That there are indeed armed protesters in Syria?  Or is there a conspiracy of silence in order to facilitate the Western agenda in the region?

Ethan Bronner: he only counts rockets from one side, he only count the dead from one side

I mean, is there a more crude and vulgar and blatant and racist propagandist than this man:  "Two and a half years ago, when Israel invaded Gaza to stop Hamas from shooting rockets at Israeli communities — about 8,000 had been fired — the Israeli military barred reporters from entering Gaza..."  Do you care to tell us how many rockets and bombs were dropped on Palestinians from Israel in the same period? Or does that not matter because to you those Palestinians are inferior humans?  The racism of Zionists is so unmasked.

Ethan Bronner: as usual, defending Israeli killing of civilians

" facing resistance, killed nine people aboard."

This really says it all: how Western media, governments, and most people support Israeli crimes against civilians

"There is almost no opposition in Israel to the firing of live ammunition to keep out the Palestinian border demonstrators, unarmed or not."

David Mamet's transformation

"For all Mr Mamet’s skill with words, this is a tedious and simplistic rant (government bad; unhampered individuals good, and so on). Economics and politics are reduced to caricatures, with no room for nuance (“the Israelis would like to live in peace within their borders; the Arabs would like to kill them all”). Social policy is reduced to banalities (affirmative action is against the Constitution; “the Liberal Arts University has had it”). And, of course, global warming is a myth."

The plots of the Muslim Brotherhood

"Many fear that the Brothers have struck a tacit deal with the army, whose supreme council is still running the country."

Since US media don't write about protests in Jordan and Morocco

"The rulers of Morocco and Jordan, kingdoms with no oil wealth and close ties to the West, have long seen fit to defend their dynasties by leaving room for mild dissent, letting loyalist parties play politics and ever promising that this game will some day be real. But in both countries repeated feints at reform since their relatively young kings took power a decade ago have not much changed the underlying rules. Muhammad VI of Morocco and Abdullah II of Jordan still hire and fire prime ministers, command national armies and tolerate little criticism of themselves, much in the way of their grandfathers. Morocco’s constitution holds the person of the king, also known as Commander of the Faithful, to be sacred and inviolate."

Syrian regime TV

I keep monitoring Syrian regime TV.  They are in la la land.  Yesterday, they hosted for a long time an "activist" from the campaign to make the "Biggest" Syrian flag.  The regime is borrowing ideas from the worst elements of Lebanonese culture.  I like also how stupid their propaganda is: the news ticker in the bottom of the screen cites people who have never heard of (like the Indian Journalist x) and they would say things that benefit the regime.  

Nur Ad-Din Al-Atasi: a democrat?

I like how history is now being rewritten by everybody, to fit the new American political agenda.  This is very true among those aligned with the US in the region, especially if they were opposed to US in the past.  Pro-Saudi advocates now claim that the reactionary fanatic, King Faysal (a truly evil man in every way, and I define evil non-religiously), fought `Abdun-Nasser on democratic principles.  Nasser's shoes had less reaction and despotism than the entire head count of the House of Saud.   Yasin Hajj Salih claimed in his lousy editorial in the New York Times weeks ago that when he was a communist, he was fighting for democracy.   Everybody now claims that he was fighting for democracy, even Joe Stalin says that now.  It is quite absurd if you think about it.  Me? I never ever fought for democracy, never.  It was never my thing.  So there is this article by Muhammad `Ali Atasi (a writer who expresses his support for democracy in Syria in the racist anti-Syrian (people) rag, An-Nahar).  Do you notice that when Arabs are allowed to write in the New York Times about their countries that the spoken rules are that Israel is not mentioned?  This is a deliberate propaganda ploy by Zionists to deny that Israel is a factor in our politics in the region, in the sense that it lends support to the despotic order.  But what struck me about the piece (aside from the boring analogy of the cologne bottle) is that he referred to his father almost as a democratic crusader.  Now, I don't hold children responsible for crimes of their father or mothers unless they bring them up in defense, as Atasi did today.  Nur Ad-Din Al-Atasi was a president of Syria in a Ba`thist regime led by Salah Jadid.  The feud between the faction of Al-Atasi and that of Hafidh Al-Asad was not about democracy at all.  In fact, the Jadid faction was in charge when the Golan was lost in 1967 (of course, the lousy Hafidh Al-Asad was in charge and does bear responsibility for the defeat too).  One thing is true: the Salah Jadid regime was not corrupt, and Atasi is right that his father and the rest of the regime did not own any wealth whatsoever.  I can even add that they were principled bunch, unlike the Asad gang in power.  But please let us not pretend that Atasi was fighting for democracy and freedom.  In fact, when Asad launched his coup he received support from the merchants and others because they were hoping that the closed and despotic structure of the Jadid regime would be dismantled.  I also give credit to the Jadid regime on one thing: they were really truly secularists and even expressed atheist beliefs (remember that famous article in the magazine of the Syrian Army which triggered protests throughout Syria)?   And also notice in this article (and this is a ploy by all secular allies of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood), that the Brotherhood is not mentioned at all.  Not one word.  Or even the religious and fundamentalist and Salafite trends in Syria.  What am I saying? That there is not, there was not, a good faction of the Syrian (or Iraqi) Ba`th party.  They were all despotic and incompetent and did a lousy job in fighting Israel.  

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I was right about Saqi and Jefferson's writings: praise be to me

Minutes after expressing my doubts about the reasons for publishing of Jefferson's writings in Arabic by Saqi books, Yaman sent me this regarding the collection of writings by Thomas Jefferson in Arabic.  The question I have is this: will Saqi Books also publish Jefferson's Notes on Virginia?  Will they translate into Arabic what Jefferson said about blacks:  "advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind. It is not against experience to suppose, that different species of the same genus, or varieties of the same species, may possess different qualifications. Will not a lover of natural history then, one who views the gradations in all the races of animals with the eye of philosophy, excuse an effort to keep those in the department of man as distinct as nature has formed them? This unfortunate difference of colour, and perhaps of faculty, is a powerful obstacle to the emancipation of these people. Many of their advocates, while they wish to vindicate the liberty of human nature, are anxious also to preserve its dignity and beauty. Some of these, embarrassed by the question `What further is to be done with them?' join themselves in opposition with those who are actuated by sordid avarice only. Among the Romans emancipation required but one effort. The slave, when made free, might mix with, without staining the blood of his master. But with us a second is necessary, unknown to history. When freed, he is to be removed beyond the reach of mixture."  Or would that be offensive to the purpose of promoting Jefferson?  

`Abdul-`Aziz bin Fahd

This is very significant.  A royal decree was issued in Saudi Arabia to relieve Prince `Abdul-`Aziz bin Fahd of his responsibilities "according to his wish".  This is unprecedented.    

Amr Musa

I feel that the Egyptian people are not likely to forgive Musa for his long years of service and subservience to the Mubarak regime.  

Subsidized books

I was going through the various books at Saqi Books, and then you see a finely produced book of writing by Thomas Jefferson.  It was translated by two people (not one), and the translation is excellent.  Now there is no market in the Arab world for Jefferson, but I come across such works in Arab publishing houses.   Are you saying that I am saying that these are subsidized books?  Is that what I am saying?  

Irfan Nidham Ad-Din

In his massive book about his experience with Saudi media (MBC (King Fahd's brother-in-law); Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat (mouthpiece of Prince Salman); Al-Hayat (mouthpiece of Prince Khalid bin Bribe bin Sultan), Nidham Ad-Din admitted that he often could not sleep and had nightmares: that there were too many tabooes, restrictions, and censorship rules that he would never know when he may have offended the Saudi royal family.  And he is still a pathetic advocate of House of Saud, mind you.  He said that he offered Shafiq Al-Hut in his last years to write a column for Al-Hayat or Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat, and Shafiq told him that he is not in the mood to observe the various Saudi rules and restrictions.  He refused although he needed the money, he said.

Beheading maids in Saudi Arabia

"Indonesia will prohibit its citizens from working as domestic servants in Saudi Arabia after the beheading of a maid convicted of murdering her Saudi employer last week.  As the AFP is reporting, the suspension will take effect Aug. 1 and remain in place until the Saudi government agrees to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to protect Indonesian workers' rights, officials said. "We will set up a special task force whose job is to make sure there are no Indonesian workers heading for Saudi when the moratorium is in place," Indonesian Labor Ministry spokeswoman Dita Indah Sari is quoted by the BBC as saying. "We do not want to see any illegal recruitments during this period."" 

Justice in UAE

Two Saudis receive a two-months sentence for raping an under age girl.  I bet they won't serve a day in jail.

Research assistance at Princeton

I have received information on this a week ago but we need to verify it.  "PACBI has recently learned of an academic job announcement that highlights the nefarious connections between Princeton University and Israel.  In this particular case, Princeton academics are being asked to assist the Israeli state in advising the Pakistani military."  (thanks Christopher)

PS This may be a hoax.  A colleague at Princeton sent me this:  "I don't think Princeton ever advertises for student positions, and if it were, all open positions must be, must be, posted on the Princeton jobs site
 I did not find that position on the site.  I seriously doubt that is credible information.

Thus spoke Al-Buti: more fatwawawa

Bashshar's favorite cleric rules that demonstrations are religiously impermissible.  (thanks Zaki)

Fear and repression in GCC countries (these happen to be US favorite despotic models)

"Many Persian Gulf Arabs are frightened and pessimistic about the uprisings and revolutions that are sweeping the Middle East and are too afraid to speak out against their rulers.  According to a new opinion poll commissioned by the Qatar-based public forum The Doha Debates, that's the current mood among many gulf Arabs.  The online study, conducted by YouGov in June in which over 1,000 respondents were polled in 17 different Arab states, said an increasing number of gulf Arabs view the so-called Arab Spring with pessimism and fear.  And more than more half of those polled in countries in the Arabian Peninsula said they would be be "too scared" to go out in the streets and protest against their leaders."

Reforms in Bahrain:

"Joseph Stalin introduced "the show trial" - secretive military tribunals that bypass the judiciary - during the Great Purge of the 1930s. It appears that Bahrain has taken a chapter straight out of Stalin's textbook, in which verdicts are predetermined and then justified through the use of coerced confessions, obtained through torture and threats against defendents' families. The only new addition to this chapter is that the government of Bahrain has insisted, since the 1980s, on airing these filmed confessions on state TV - often with the defendant apologising to the king. Ayat al Qurmuzi, a poet sentenced to one year's imprisonment for reading a poem critical of the king, had one such confession aired, possibly to pave the way for some kind of royal pardon.   Credible reports from now-free detainees who were held with Ayat have said how a toilet brush was forced into her mouth. All those on trial are "traitors to the state", says the relentless propaganda of hate speech, spewed on state media - a chapter in the Arab Tyrant's manual that could have been written by Goebbels. The media has described protestors as "termites" and Shia as "the evil group"; they have dehumanised "the other", who deserve treatment worse than animals.   Since March, hundreds have shared a similar experience to mine. There are several stages to the ordeal that are particularly distressing for all involved. The first stage is the sudden arrest, in a dawn raid or at a checkpoint, or in some cases, at work, and then they are taken away to an unknown location by unknown forces and for long periods of time. In Ghazi's case, 48 days." (thanks Matthew)

Netanyahu's son

Regarding his established pattern of racism:  "A lawyer for the Netanyahu family, David Shimron, said the comments were those of a "teenager" and were "taken out of context in an attempt to defame the Prime Minister and his family"."  First, notice that this was not a story in the US press.  Secondly, can you imagine the uproar if this was the son of an Arab leader?  I mean, if an Arab--any Arab--even if three years old mispronounces the word Judaism, there would be accusation of anti-Semitism and congressional hearings about the culture of hate among Arab children.  Thirdly, he is referred to as a teenager:  if he is old enough to serve in the terrorist army and to kill civilian Arab, chances are that the is an adult.

Israeli measures

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced yesterday that he plans to toughen the conditions of Palestinian security prisoners in Israel's prisons. "I have decided to change Israel's treatment of terrorists sitting in prison," Netanyahu said during the closing statements at the Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem. "We will give them all that they deserve according to international law, but nothing beyond that."" (thanks Farah)

The new Egypt: really does not heart House of Saud

"The announcement of new rules governing foreign labor in Saudi Arabia has caused consternation about the fate of Egyptian migrant workers there.  The notaqat (zones) program was announced in May by Saudi Labor Minister Adel Fakieh. It divides private sector companies into four categories, according to the number of Saudis employed. In companies where 10 percent or less of the workforce is Saudi, foreign workers who have been with the company for more than six years will not have their contracts renewed. The program excludes workers in domestic service.  Notaqat is a response to increasing unemployment in the kingdom, which currently stands at roughly 15 percent of the country’s 25 million population according to the country’s Labor Ministry website.  The Egyptian media was quick to condemn the policy as an attack on Egyptian migrant workers, who make up one third of the oil-rich kingdom’s total expatriate worker population. Some described it as a political move.   In an opinion piece published in Al-Masry Al-Youm earlier this month, for example, Hassan Nafea suggested that the policy change has political dimensions."

Western racism

Only racism can explain Western leaders are obsessed with one Israeli occupation terrorist, and not care about the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners. (thanks "Ibn Rushd")

Aljazeera is aghast: how could anyone not cheer NATO bombing?

"Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has complained about Al Jazeera coverage over Turkey's Libya policy during a meeting with the emir of Qatar, a Turkish news report published on Sunday said. 
“We are disturbed by Al Jazeera reporting about Turkey. We cannot understand why there is this hostility against Turkey,” Erdoğan said during a Friday meeting with Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, according to the Sabah daily.   Al Jazeera, owned by the state of Qatar through the Qatar Media Corporation and headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has been critical of Turkey's policies in Libya, questioning its failure to offer help to Libyan opposition groups fighting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Erdoğan reportedly told al-Thani that the Al Jazeera reporting could have effects on safety of Turkish investors and workers in Libya." (thanks Sultan)

I mean, do you still doubt that the US invaded Afghanistan to liberate the people (putting aside the racism of the occupiers)?

"And American forces often characterized their Afghan counterparts as drug abusers and thieves who were also incompetent, corrupt and lazy with "repulsive hygiene.""

Aljazeera is covering Egypt

Aljazeera found time now to cover a visit to Tahriri Square by Sen. John MacCain.  I mean, who can be a more anti-Arab Likudnik supporter of the Egyptian uprising than this guy?

this is Zionism

"About 5,400 Palestinian prisoners are now in Israeli prison, of which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have had a bitter taste over the years. It's not a matter of "thousands of murderers," as people like to portray it. Only some have been convicted of murder; some of their acts were particularly horrific. Two hundred and twenty have been imprisoned without trial, and there are also 180 incarcerated minors, among whom are a few dozen children under 16."

Great News from Gaza by Ethan Bronner: It is pretty much like Beverly Hills

"In assessing the condition of the 1.6 million people who live in Gaza, there are issues of where to draw the baseline and — often — what motivates the discussion. It has never been among the world’s poorest places. There is near universal literacy and relatively low infant mortality, and health conditions remain better than across much of the developing world." (thanks Sarah)

Ian Black: really really hearts Israeli propaganda and is willing to air it for free

"Reports from Syrian troublespots have described mysterious bearded men who did not speak Arabic, or others speaking Arabic in the accent of Ahwaz, capital of Iran's Khuzestan province. Others suggest Lebanese Hezbollah militiamen, allies of Syria, have been involved."  Oh, really, Mr. Black.  Were those mysterious creatures anything like those "Iranian Revolutionary Guards--three to be exact" that Israel had claimed it found in South Lebanon in 2006?  Tell us those about them.  Would you say that any beard is evidence of Iran/hizbullah involvement?  Also, when you say "reports from syrian troublespots" what do you mean exactly?  Do you also get "reports from Israeli troublespots" about mysterious bearded men there?  Thanks for the time.  Finally why would a regime that is so steeped in repression and cruelty require extra help? I don't get that.  I mean, the Syrian regime can give lessons in torture and repression and would not need outside help from "mysterious bearded men".

PS "obviously the ian black article is bullshit but its not even likely syrians could recognize an ahwazi arabic dialect. but it can sound a lot like an iraqi dialect and there's plenty of iraqis in syria".  And are they not predominantly Sunnis there anyway?

Portrait of Qadhdhafi

The best portrait of Qadhdhafi that I have read is a chapter in Ghazi Al-Qusaybi's Al-Wazir Al-Murafiq.  Qusaybi (who died recently) was a talented Saudi intellectual with great literary skills.  He received a PhD in sociology in the 1960s and then started a career of serving House of Saud.  He held several ministerial posts and felt strongly about Palestine.  He was mistreated by the royal family and yet he remained loyal.  When you server House of Saud (or any of those lousy governments) you squander your talents and then you lose them.

International Muslim Clerical Cooks

Aljazeera is now hosting the secretary-general of the International `Ulama' Union, which is a clerical organization headed and controlled by Yusuf Qaradawi, who in turn is controlled by Gulf gas and oil.  

Yasin Hajj Salih: arrested

Yasin Hajj Salih is a smart Syrian dissident: I am not a fan of his and he finds it convenient to express support for democracy in racist anti-Syrian (people) publications owned by Hariri family or Saudi royal family.  He was a leftist who became a liberal, but he has a good mind and is an original thinker.  The regime today arrested him and he can't in any way be accused of being part of a fundamentalist Salafi conspiracy but the regime does not discriminate in its oppression.  I see no justification whatsoever for supporting this tyrannical and arrogant regime that is killing people to keep a nasty family in power.  The issue is not the Ba`th party (a mere tool of the ruling family), but about the Asad family.

PS No, I learned that Hajj Salih has been in hiding for weeks now, but that his brother has been arrested.  (Salih wrote an op ed piece for the NYT early durign the Syrian uprising).