Saturday, December 31, 2011

The state of Syrian military/intelligence apparatuses: the mafias

I asked an informed Syrians to update me about the status of the Syrian military/intelligence apparatus.  He says: The Army is different in its composition from the security apparatuses>  The critical security apparatuses are led by `Alawite officers while the army is different in its sectarian composition but suffers from the same problems that afflict the security apparatuses in terms of the loyalty of many of its officers to mafias of corruption.  The Syrian Army is certainly not a combat army and has lost much of its preparedness due to the internal Syrian situation especially after the withdrawal from Lebanon.  Most officers were transformed into protectors of corruption and partners with it.  And there local officers (in various provinces who occupy senior administrative positions) who are business agents for Mr. Rami Makhluf in the various provinces.  And most of those officers are educated youths who are very corrupt and are appointed by Hafidh and Rami Makhluf.  And you can imagine the unbelievable number of middle ranking officers who are waiting at the doors of Hafidh and Rami Maklhuf hoping for positions in new appointments.  He tells me that early on protesters were calling for the downfall of the governors (those military officers) in Homs and Hamah and Idlib and in general were involved in across border smuggling with shares for them, and the operations are led by senior Army officers.  And he tells me that the government then arranged for large scale dismissals of the officers of Rami Makhluf and then they brought back into services all the surviving officers who formed the team of Hafidh al-Asad in the 1980s and 1990s at the rank of Liwa> Divisions that are talked about in the army are highly exaggerated and don't extend beyond the defections of conscripted soldiers and some volunteers in the army and internal security forces and most are from extremely religious environments like from rural Hamah and Idlib and Dir`a.  Asnd the middle ranking officers who defected don't possess critical information and don't hold high ranking positions in the army.  The Free Syrian Army is comprised mostly of volunteers who are very extreme in religiosity.   He reports that Syrian security apparatuses (especially Al-Amn Al-Askari and Amn Ad-Dawlah) are infiltrated...Al-Amn AlAskiri is the most dangerous and is run by Hafidh Makhluf, from a to z.  It perpetrates raids and killings en masse and individually in all Syrian cities.  It is responsible for the movement of military detachments and the movement of officers.  The transfer of Asaf Shawkat to the staff command (which does not follow Ministry of Defense but follows Al-Amn directly) was at the suggestion of Muhammad Makhluf, father of Rami and Hafidh.  It was done to take him out of house arrest that he has been under.  Of course, he reto mains insignificant politically.  It is part of the tug of war with the Iranian military team in Syria which works closely with Muhammad Nasif, the strongest security man in Syria.  Al-Amn Al-Askari is the only authority that can interrogate offices and practices carrot and the stick approach with everybody.  I also have information (my informant adds) that Al-Amn Al-Askari is under the control of the Saudis totally, since 2008. The evidence is that all the mosque clerics are appointed by Al-Amn Al-Askari in Syria and the regime was surprised to learn after the eruption of the uprising that most of those clerics are heavily funded by Saudis and were undertaking sectarian campaigns against the regime.  More later. 

New York Times covers Syria

"Tens, and possibly hundreds, of thousands", and even possibly millions and even possibly according to one website whose webmaster was contacted by a neighbor who knew somebody that the New York Times correspondent in Beirut spoke to.  

Tears of Newt

The tears by Newt in his interview were as sincere as the public display of grief in North Korea.  

Cicero is upset

I have received information that the Cicero of the Syrian National Council opposition, who has dazzled the world with his inspiring rhetoric, has suspended his membership in the Syrian National Council because the agreement between Ghalyun and Manna` includes language that could be interpreted as being opposed to foreign intervention.  Cicero of Syria said that the language of the agreement may upset Zionists.  My favorite part is that Cicero of DC insists that he alone speaks on behalf of the Syrian people back home.

another phase in the Israeli-Iranian war?

Some Arab sites are indicating this assassination is part of the Iranian-Israeli war following the assassinations of Iranian professors.

Not in Saudi and Qatari media

"Riot police and protesters are clashing in several Bahraini cities in one of the most widespread days of protest in the Gulf kingdom for months.Black-clad riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets on Saturday to disperse crowds of stone-throwing protesters demanding the government resign." (thanks Rupert)

Not in the New York Times

" Saudi reform advocates have staged several protests since mid-December, 2011, despite a categorical ban on protests issued last March, Human Rights Watch said today. In Riyadh, Buraida, and Qatif, security forces immediately arrested the protesters, who were peacefully protesting the detention without trial of hundreds of people held for long periods in intelligence prisons."

Employment and sexism

Look at the sexist standards employed by this Egyptian channel in its job advertisement. (thanks Farah)


I will be making my first appearance (via Phone) on OTV next Monday evening (Beirut time) on the show of Shirley Al-Murr.  What is it called?

Astrology in A-Hayat: Elliott Abrams (and the Zionist DC correspondent)

The mouthpiece of Prince Khalid Bin Sultan, Al-Hayat, has decided to turn to Elliott Abrams (who never met a war against Arabs/Muslims that he did not wholeheartedly endorse) to make predictions for the Arab world.  I don't blame him as much as I blame the Al-Hayat correspondent who turned to him to offer his astrological predictions for the Arab world.  Where does Al-Hayat and other Saudi media find their correspondents? I know: in the halls of the Lebanese Forces headquarters.  (thanks Rudy)

PR Readers sent me that in fact, Joyce Karam, the Washington, DC correspondent for Al-Hayat, is a graduate of the research arm of the Zionist lobby, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.  Apparently, Karam used to "monitor" Palestinian media for her Zionist bosses there.  Apparently, her work for Zionists of DC endeared her to the hearts of Saudi princes.  Here, Karam advises Zionists on how to improve Israel's image among Arabs (enjoy her words of wisdom please: "I always get asked, “why does Israel rule America?” You try and explain that things are not so black and white. But if you are an average Arab, and you have seen the 1967 war and 1982 war, to you Israel is an enemy. You hear many radio stations still refer to as Israel as the “Zionist Entity.” Ehud Barak is known as the “Minister of War.” There is a lot of work still needed to bridge the gap.  With the Arab Spring, populism is returning to the Arab street. It is a little bit scary. When you look Jordan and Egypt, with the attacks on the Israeli embassy, that populism is steeped in anti-Israel sentiment. In Istanbul, the scene is the same. The Arab Spring, while it may bring a more open political system, brings high anti-Israel populism. Israel must now make peace not only with governments, but with the people.".  But you know what: why bother.  I am yet to find an Arab Zionist who is 1) smart; 2) who can write either good Arabic or good English. Really.  

Iraqi National Day:

Iraqi puppet prime minister, Nuri Al-Maliki, has dedicated an Iraqi national day to celebrate the humiliating withdrawal of US occupation troops from Iraq.  What does that say about the perception of the US? When the US puppet is dedicating a national day to celebrate the withdrawal of US troops.  It will be a different place in Iraq come that day.  Nuri Al-Maliki will soon be talking as if he led the resistance to the American occupation.  Let me make this prediction: you will be hearing more about and from Muqtada As-Sadr and `Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haqq and even the Ba`th party.  

Al-Manna` and Ghalyun

So Haytham Al-Manna' and Burhan Ghalyun signed an agreement to unite the efforts of their organizations.  Some members of the movement that Manna` represents have voiced opposition to the agreement already.  I am most disappointed that Al-Manna` signed that lousy agreement, which says that Arab intervention in Syria is not...intervention.  Is that an endorsement of the Saudi military intervention in Bahrain?  The agreement (in contrast to the lousy statement by the Syrian National Council) spoke of "the liberation" of the Golan heights.  But the word Palestine did not appear and the Zionist enemy (which even appears in the statements by Samir Ja`ja` (Ga`ga` in Egyptian accent) ) was not mentioned.  So the ceiling of the rhetoric of the Syrian National Council is now lover than that of Samir Ja`ja` (Ga`ga` in Egyptian accent).  But this I cant explain and I hope that Al-Manna` (who thus far has been my spokesperson on Syria and on Arab human rights in general--the man has been a most principled fighter for human rights and democracy but from a radical and anti-Zionist perspective) can explain to us how he can reconcile his signature with the article he wrote in As-Safir less than two weeks ago.  What gives?  

Interfering in Syria?

Some of the advocates of the pro-GCC March 14 of Syria (not to be confused with the pro-GCC March 14 of Lebanon) have sent me messages asking me to not interfere in Syrian affairs.  Wla? You want NATO to interfere and you want me to not interfere? Of course, I will interfere in the affairs of every country on earth--and even in the affairs of other planets as well.

Aljazeera English

My interview on Aljazeera English will air at 9:30 AM this morning California Time (in 1:15 minutes from now).  

Friday, December 30, 2011

Arab League monitors

My latest blog post on Arab League monitors.

Mustafa Abdul-NATO

Abdul-NATO was on Al-Arabiyya (the news station of King Fahd's brother-in-law).  He said that protesters against his regime don't represent the Libyan people and that they are fifth columnists and "infiltrators".  The able interviewer, Hasan Mu`awwad, interrupted him to note that his speech sounds awfully similar to that of the former regime (of which he was a member, mind you).  

Havel as advocate for Israeli war crimes

Have was a big advocate for Israeli war crimes. (thanks Pierre)

racism Israeli society

"For months many Israelis shrugged off the mosque burnings, the uprooted Palestinian olive trees and even the death threats against Jewish leftists. But when young settlers this month vandalized army bases and stoned Israeli soldiers, the question of Jewish terrorism turned into a national emergency."

Tony Blair for hire, again

""They could start in Kazakhstan, by far the most open place. Mr Nazarbayev spends fortunes on having Western public-relations firms, lobbyists and a former British prime minister, Tony Blair, burnish his image."" (thanks Raed)

The ground zero mosque clown-Imam is back

"A prominent American-Muslim cleric is calling for the institution of a "sacred month" during which Muslims, Jews and Christians cease all hostilities and pilgrim to Israel.  In an exclusive interview with Anglo File in Jerusalem this week, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf - known for his controversial plan to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero in New York - said the idea takes its cue from the traditional pilgrimage to Mecca."          

Artists for Israeli war crimes

RJ sent me this:  "I thought this story might be of interest: The NYC-based group Artists 4 Israel came to my college, Haverford College, last month under the name Defend The Future Tour. The DTF Tour (yep, they actually use that abbreviation to make it sound cool to college kids) has a stated mission along the lines of ending partisan bickering and censorship, and they were invited to campus to paint a mural. In reality, they used that mural as cover to distribute inflammatory pro-Israel and anti-Arab materials. And that's just the start. I've posted about my experiences with Artists 4 Israel here:  and . Any help in spreading the word about these guys would be greatly appreciated."

Coverage of Syria

I was thinking about the propagandistic nature of Western media coverage of Syria.  That the media disregard their own journalistic standards in the coverage: the extent to which they allow exaggerations and unfounded rumors to be printed and such.  And then I thought: I have seen this coverage before, only in one case, in the case of covering the Green potato revolution.

Abu Mazen: I am no Antoine Lahd

So Abu Mazen is denying that he want to be another Antoine Lahd.  I am no Antoine Lahd, he asserts. I agree. You are dumber than Lahd. (thanks "Ibn Rushd")


We can easily say that the case of an Arab uprising where the West intervened heavily and militarily produced the worst results.  There is not a single Arab who looks at Libya with admiration these days.  What is the lesson?  Too obvious, no?

I call on NATO to intervene in Turkey: wait, Turkey is a member. Never mind

"The Turkish military said Thursday that it had accidently killed at least 35 Turkish cigarette smugglers in airstrikes after mistaking them for separatist fighters in the Kurdish border region with Iraq, infuriating many of Turkey’s long-oppressed Kurds. Most of the dead were between 17 and 20 years old."

Haytham Al-Manna`

This courageous fighter for human rights is a model opposition figure, by my standards.  This courageous Syrian dissident is a model dissident, by my standards.  He has been largely ignored by the New York Times because he is fiercely opposed to Israel and foreign intervention in Syria.  He has been ignored although his brother has been killed by Syrian troops.  Today, the New York Times discovered him but only because he criticized the lousy head of the Arab monitoring team.

Iyad Allawi

Iyad Allawi (the former puppet prime minister/car bomber/embezzler-in-Yemen/Saddam's henchman) had an article in the New York Times.  What he says in the US (about the US) is diametrically opposed to what he says in Arabic where he now (in his criticisms of US occupation) sounds like a resistance fighter against US occupation.  In English he begs the US to stay: in Arabic, he blames all problems on the US occupation.  

Prince Turki about Bin Laden

"To Prince Turki, OBL appeared as “a very shy person, very self-effacing, extremely sparse
in his words and generally a do-gooder, someone who brought financial and medical and other support to the Afghan mujahidin.”" (thanks Nabeel)

It is about democracy, damn it

"“The agreement reinforces the strong and enduring relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia,” Joshua R. Earnest, the White House’s deputy press secretary, said in a statement issued in Hawaii, where Mr. Obama is on vacation."

What about Israel?

"At the time, there was a vigorous debate, with some lawmakers arguing that such a huge arms package would threaten the military position of Israel. Mr. Shapiro, speaking at a State Department briefing, said the administration was satisfied that the sale of the F-15s would not diminish “Israel’s qualitative military edge.”"

I must admit. I was wrong about US intentions: the US sends a strong message of support for democracy in the Middle East

"“This sale will send a strong message to countries in the region that the United States is committed to stability in the gulf and the broader Middle East,” said Andrew J. Shapiro, the assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs. “It will enhance Saudi Arabia’s ability to deter and defend against external threats to its sovereignty.”"

American "democracy-building" groups in Egypt

Forget about the rest of the story, just read this:  "Security forces shut down three American-financed democracy-building groups".  How I like this "democracy-building" groups terminology.  So they just build democracy? How sweet.  And did those Republican and Democratic groups build democracy during the long obscene and sleazy honeymoon between the US and the Sadat/Mubarak regime?  Also, I have one last question: is the Mossad a "democracy-building" group in the Middle East? Just curious.  Finally, imagine if Egypt were to fund a group in the US to "build democracy" here.  How would the US react? Finally (ii): how come the US did not object to the Israeli crackdown on funding by US groups in Israel in the areas of human rights and democracy?

Have you read that Israel has been bombing and killing Palestinians??

I looked at the Times this morning to see if they covered the Israeli bombing of Palestinians.  I did not find anything on the subject but I found this instead.

PS There is one item that is slated in tomorrow's edition.  It identifies the Palestinian victim as "militant" because Ethan Bronner has a gadget in which he examines dead Palestinian bodies and can identify whether the body is for a militant or not.

Al-Arabiyya TV

I swear this is true: there was this morning a Saudi reporter for the House of Saud speaking extensively on Al-Arabiyya (news station of King Fahd's brother-in-law) on how the new Arab democracies should work on formulating new constitutions and how they should establish modern states.  I kid you not.  

(Some elements of) Syrian opposition: Ba`thist tactics

So an Israeli propaganda paper claimed that it interviewed two young opposition Syrians in the US.  A Syrian opposition website, Al-Haqiqah, identified one of the two people.  That person, Muhammad Al-`Abdallah, was furious and denied that he ever talked to the paper and named another Syrian opposition person in the US, `Ahd Al-Hindi, of being the one who talked to the Israeli paper.  Al-Hindi fired back and basically accused the other of being an agent of Israel.  Here is what he wrote.  If Syrian opposition persons are starting to accuse one another of working for Israel, can you imagine if those folks were to come to power? They will start their rule along the lines of the Ba`th.  (thanks Khodor)

Tariq Mitri: the case of an Arab intellectual

Full disclosure: Former Lebanese Minister of Culture, Tariq Mitri, is suing me (under lousy Lebanese laws as his case would not have made it to court here in the US) in Beirut for my regular criticisms of him in Al-Akhbar.  Now the post:  just in case Mitri thinks that he is intimidating me with his suit, I should say: how much I despise this man but he is not a lone phenomenon.  He represents a trend among some Arab intellectuals who serve as tools for lousy repressive regime and oil barrels.  Mitri was barely known: he used to write on Christian Zionism and was a secular leftist in his youth.  He then became part of the entourage of one of the most corrupt and incompetent politicians in Lebanon: former Minister Elias Murr, who was installed in power by Syrian intelligence in Lebanon as a favor to his father, Michel Al-Murr, who for years rendered services to Syrian intelligence in Lebanon.  Al-Murr (junior) then begged Emile Lahhud (his father-in-law) to make him minister.  He was made minister and was a fierce defender of pro-Syrian policies of Lahhud, and of resistance to Israel.  But the Hariri family wanted to dominate the Lahhud cabinet so they went shopping to buy ministers in the cabinet, including among those who were loyal to Lahhud.  Of course, I am not in any way suggesting that Mitri was bought off, but suddenly--overnight--Mitri changed his tune and switched from Lahhud's side to his enemies' side.  Just like that.  He became a part of the entourage of Fu'ad Sanyurah (who in turn is a member of the entourage of Hariri family, which in turn is part of the entourage of House of Saud).  Mitri now flies to Saudi Arabia to "lecture" at cultural events for Saudi princes.  Such is the career of an Arab intellectual.  Mitri was so distraught over the death of Prince Sultan that he flew immediately to offer condolences to the House of Saud.  

Syrian regime propaganda

The ultra-Syrian nationalism filling Syrian regime TV is just nauseating.  It only reminds me of ultra-Lebanese nationalism.  You would not know that the ruling doctrine of the lousy Syrian regime is Arab natoinalism.  

Thursday, December 29, 2011

On Aljazeera English

For those who give a damn, I will appear on Aljazeera English this Saturday (early morning California time) to speak about Syria on "Inside Syria". 

Qaradawi mediates between US and Taliban

"Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a Doha-based Islamist scholar who once called on his followers to back jihadist groups in Jammu and Kashmir, has emerged as a key mediator in secret talks between the U.S. and the Taliban, government sources have told The Hindu." (thanks Ahmet)

Blair wants West to support and fund "Google types"

"One was "what I would call liberal democratic elements, what I would call the sort of Google types who were initially out in Tahrir Square, the up and coming, aspiring kind of middle class people who want the same types of things we want, the freedoms we want."  Mr. Blair: Is the Saudi King and Husni Mubarak and Bahraini King and Jordanian King also "Google types"? Thanks for the answer. (thanks Raed)

PS I really think that we have been unfair to Mr. Blair all along.  We really have underestimated how dumb he really is.

Is the New York Times kidding?

Look at this long piece about the mansion of one of the lousy sons of Libyan dictator, Qadhdhafi.  Is the Times suggesting that it compares the to the palaces of Saudi princes or UAE sheikhs?  Are you serious?

New York Times can't wait any longer

Look at this headline.  The New York Times (and Israel) can't wait.  They want Iran bombed now.

Militias of thugs for the American occupation

That is your liberation, o Afghan people:  "President Hamid Karzai has taken steps to disband a little-known, irregular police force financed by the American military with members in at least four northern provinces. Some members of the force are former militiamen and thugs known as much for extorting money from ordinary citizens as for intimidating insurgents and upholding the law."

Propaganda for the occupiers

"Until this week, a little-noticed part of the United States’ war effort here included teaching Afghan officials the art of public relations — mainly, how to give news conferences — at an American-financed government information center.
But on Wednesday, as word spread that the American military and civilian advisers had been abruptly pulled from the center this week, both American and Afghan officials broke a cardinal rule of public relations: They could not get their stories straight.
The Americans said that it was time for Afghan officialdom to deliver news on its own, and that the move had been planned for some time as part of the broader drawdown slowly under way. The Afghans said the Americans were annoyed over a news conference on Saturday that featured criticism of civilian deaths in NATO raids."

US Rewards Qatar (and the Taliban)

"In a statement issued late Tuesday, Mr. Karzai reiterated his preference that a proposed Taliban peace mission be opened in Saudi Arabia or Turkey. But if the United States insisted that it be in Qatar, then “we are agreed,” he said in remarks to the Kuwaiti news media, according to the statement from his office."

Salafi currents in Eygpt

As-Safir writer, Qasim Qasir, writes about the history of Salafi organizations in Egypt.

Hamas: defending the Syrian regime

The sectarian agenda of the Ikhwan Syrian opposition (and their liberal lackeys) were exposed this week.  For months, we heard from those groups fierce criticisms of Hizbullah for its lousy defense of the lousy Syrian regime.  But when Hamas came out this week in support and praise of the Syrian regime, there was silence on the part of the Syrian Ikhwan opposition.  Not a word of criticisms was uttered: only words of justification and explanation.  Why? Because this opposition is blatantly sectarian and they are tools of Saudi Arabia. Pure and simple.  You want me to support such reactionaries? You must be kidding me.   

Training journalists at AUB: Ms. Abu Fadil

You have to read this most fluff piece about Nayla Tuwayni by the director of a journalism center at AUB.  I can't believe how ridiculous it is.  It lacks the basic journalistic standards that students should be learning. She is clearly enamored with the person and with the right-wing publication.  She does not mention that Tuwayni has been widely criticized NOT for being non-traditional but for NOT doing her job: not in parliament nor in the paper.  She does not tell you that she does not write her lousy articles in An-Nahar (which no one bothers to read), and she does not tell you that she does not actually run the paper.  Insiders tell me that Marwan Hamadi and his brother actually run the paper now.  Tuwayni is merely a visitor.  She cites Tuwaynis as saying that the paper gets 30% of the ad revenue in Lebanon but she does not tell you that this was (illegally in the US) arranged by the shady deals of the late Antoine Shuwayri who rewarded the right-wing sectarian Christian paper by trying to place a monopoly on advertisement in the media in favor of right-wing publication.  This trainer of journalism does not tell you any of that.  She casually labels As-Safir as "pro-Syrian" when the paper is much more than that and it has been publishing many articles against the Syrian regime.  As-Safir is more anti-Israel than it is "pro-Syrian" but Abu Fadil is writing for a Zionist audience and only believes in one category: pro- or anti-Syrian.  Such are the complexities of politics for her.  She does not tell you that Tuwayni is constantly mocked in the Lebanese media not because she is a woman but because she does not attend to her job as an MP (she was tagged on the Hariri sectarian list).  She tells you that she marries a Shi`ite (the horrors of horror) but does not tell you that the paper is noted for its sectarian Christian stances and its bigotry against Muslims (and Shi`ites in particular).  Most importantly, she does not tell you that An-Nahar is now irrelevant.  

foreign domestic workers in Lebanon

Another foreign maid dead in Lebanon.  An Ethiopian maid, 20, "fell" from the balcony of the home where she works and dies.  Lebanese police never bothers to investigate.  Human Rights Watch called on the...Syrian government to investigate.


Boycott Armen Van Buuren in Lebanon. (thanks As`ad--not me)

Middle East stringers

I have received a message from a person who worked for Western journalists in the Middle East.  He confirms that they often rely on rumors and that shady men and crooks often run into them and introduce themselves as senior members of this organization or that and that the reporters are often duped.  

Israeli propaganda

Don't you like it when an Israeli propaganda paper stumbles (or invents) agreeable Arabs (one or two) and then have them parrot the Zionist line and then take them as representative of Arab public opinion.  You want a manifestation of Arab public opinion?  Watch the Egypt's gas pipe line to Israel.  How do I hate thee: let me count the ways.

This is now a regular feature: Ron Paul grovels to Israel

"But he said that he viewed Israel as “one of our most important friends in the world” and that he supports Israel right to attack Iran in self-defense.  “I do not believe we should be Israel’s master but, rather, her friend. We should not be dictating her policies and announcing her negotiating positions before talks with her neighbors have even begun.”"

Prince Turki Al-Faysal: I am perfect

Read the line of poetry that he cites.  He says that attacks by his enemies is evidence that he is perfect.

The Salah Jadid's Democratic Ba`th Party

Comrade Kamal knows about Syrian matters.  He tells me that it is not true that the dissident Democratic Ba`th Party of Salah Jadid (and his supporters) is sectarian and adds that the party suffered a great deal under the repression of the Asad regime.

US ambassador in Lebanon and MTV

US Ambassador in Lebanon, Maura Connelly made a point of visiting, with cameras in toe, the studios of Lebanese TV station, MTV.  It was unprecedented.  Here is a station that is known for extreme sectarian Christian views (airing reports about the dangers of Christian selling lands to Muslims), and for blatant racism: airing reports against all Asian and African workers in Lebanon and agitating for years against poor Syrian workers in the country.  Ms. Connelly should have explained the visit: was it the racism or the sectarianism that impressed her about the station?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Salah Jadid's party

After I posted on the Salah Jadid's party, I received a message from a former minister in the Salah Jadid's government in the 1960s and he cautions me against praise for the party (despite my opposition to the Ba`th--in practice and ideology).  He tells me that the party carries a sectarian agenda.

PS The leader of the group categorically rejected the accusation and shared with me personal details about the repression that members of the party went through, especially after 1982 due to their effort in forming the oppositional At-Tajammu` Al-Watani Ad-Dimuqrati.

From Qatif, Saudi Arabia

A reader in Qatif, Saudi Arabia, sent me this:  I insist on posting because there is barely anything on Qatif in the Western or Arabic press, and their youtube clips don't get circulated around the world as clips by Syrian Ikhwan opposition:  "Some 6-7 detainies from Qatif were released last night after months in jails () but this afternoon forces stormed into the angry town, Al-Awameyah (
) where Nimr Al-Nimr is still challenging them (  )

Ron Paul's support for Israel

A reader, Zim, sent me this:  "Ron Paul actually openly supported Israel's bombing of the Osirak reactor in Iraq in 1981, when he was in congress, and refused to vote to condemn it.  i don't think even ronald reagan openly supported it
PAUL: In many ways, we treat Israel as a stepchild. We do not give them responsibility that they deserve. We undermine their national sovereignty. We don't let them design their own peace treaties with their neighbors. And then we turn around and say that, when you want to do that or you want to defend your borders, they have to check it out with us.   I think Israel would be a lot safer. I made the point earlier. We give three times as much money to the Arabs. Why do we arm their enemies? So if you care about Israel, you should be against all the weapons that go to the Arab nations.
And I just don't see any purpose in not treating Israel in an adult fashion. I think they'd be a lot better off.
I think they, one time in the '80s, took care of a nuclear reactor in Iraq. I stood up and defended Israel for this. Nobody else did at that time.
But we need to recognize they deserve their sovereignty, just as we deserve our sovereignty."

Qatari role

So Qatar hosts the Taliban and pretends it also hosts the "Arab spring." (thanks Nabeel)


I like Counterpunch and regard it as a courageous (and pioneering) media site.  But such pro-Saudi/UAE propaganda by an established UAE propagandist does not belong there:  "Not surprisingly, the highest satisfaction rates come in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This has historically been the case, and despite the new sets of issues being raised it appears that nothing has diminished the sense in both of these Gulf countries that things are on the “right track”."  (thanks Basim)

Qatar decrees

"A group of single doctors and architects have urged for an explanation on a decree that banned bachelors from living in residential areas in Doha.
"We are aware of the municipal decisions to relocate single company workers to new areas outside the residential neighbourhoods, but we do not know whether the ban applies to us as well," doctors and architects said, local daily Al Sharq reported on Wednesday.
The inquiry followed a decision by the municipality to cut off electricity supply to force them out of the residences where they are living, they said.
"They have put stickers on our houses asking us to vacate the houses, but we thought that it was not a blanket ban that included everyone, even government employees, and that the decision to relocate bachelors was confined to company workers and labourers," they said."                                 

Why the US won't allow democracy in Egypt

"The United States is engaged in secret talks with Egypt's ruling military council geared at ensuring that the country's democratically elected regime will maintain its peace treaty with Israel, top Egyptian opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei said on Tuesday." (thanks Laleh)

Bombing in Tyre

For the 3rd time, an explosion in Tyre against a restaurant that serve alcohol.  Historically, alcohol was always available in Tyre and drunkards were part of the social landscape of the city.  I have called upon the drunkards in Lebanon to demonstrate in defiance against the repressive agendas of Muslim and Christian religious authorities.  

Arab monitors in Syria

Read this article on Arab monitors in the New York Times.  The entire article is basically about how they are prevented from doing their job (on their 1st day of the job, of course) while the head of the team deny what the New York Times is saying.  Let me be clear: I am with the organized opposition on this: we can't have faith in the mission which include members from various Arab tyrannies and which is mandated by the lousy League of Arab Tyrannies.  I do believe that the mission can't be expected to do the job of monitoring or even documenting human rights violations by the lousy regime.  Of course, I part with the organized Syrian opposition that the alternative is NATO bombs.  But what is curious about this article is that there was no similar effort by the Times to discredit the Bahrain ROYAL commission on the first day of its job.  And in the case of Bahrain, the Times always made a point of carrying and representing the views of the Bahraini government.  When it comes to covering Syria, only propaganda is permitted in the Western and Arab (Saudi and Qatari-dominated).

Israel's religious kooks

Israel's religious kooks either receive good press or they receive no coverage whatsoever.  I was wondering when the New York Times will decide to cover the war going on in Israel between the racist religious kooks and the secular racist kooks (both sides agree on occupation and racism and the need for more war crimes).  The mother of the eight-year old is veiled (she wears the hijab, in other words) but the New York Times don't show that in the picture.  If she was a Muslim woman, they would have forgotten about the original story and and would have focused on the veiled woman.  And then the NYT makes an effort to belittle the significance of religious fanaticism:  "Certainly, Israel’s coalition politics have allowed the ultra-Orthodox parties to wield disproportionate power beyond the roughly 10 percent of the population they currently represent." 10%?  That is a small number?  Wahhabis among Arabs are probably around 1%.

Haaretz propaganda

"Except for a bit of editing the story in the LA Times and the Telegraph are identical but were published seventeen days apart. The writer, Ruth Sherlock, is: "a freelance journalist and an intern for" or whatever.  The LA Times seems to believe that such news deserves publishing even weeks beyond it sales date. The editors probably kept it canned so they could publish something over the holidays without having to leave their homes.  The story itself is, by the way, fishy. It is clearly written to hype the success in Libya and to plant grueling tales about Syria." (thanks Helena)

Salafi reform in Saudi Arabia

"RIYADH: Crown Prince Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior, opened a symposium on “Salafism: A Shariah approach and a national demand,” organized by the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University here Tuesday and commended its objectives.
Prince Naif said Saudi Arabia would continue to follow the Salafist ideology and denounced those who create doubts about this moderate Islamic ideology and link it with terrorism and extremism." (thanks Ahmet)

PS Seated next to Nayif, is the chief Muftititi of Saudi Arabia. (Al-Riyadh newspaper)

The false "monitor" on Arabiyya TV

I recommend that you all read this piece: it is about the yet another embarrassing episode in which a man claiming to be an Arab monitor was put on the air on the news station of King Fahd's brother-in-law, Al-Arabiyya, and he railed against the Syrian regime and kept saying that "the Jews did not do this".   Of course, it quickly turned out that the man was an impostor and that he was not a monitor.  So the mouthpiece of Prince Salman (Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat), contacted the director of Al-Arabiyyah (who used to editor the mouthpiece of Prince Salman before directing the mouthpiece of King Fahd's brother-in-law--talk about journalistic standards here) to explain what happened.  Read the details and see the extent to which those propaganda outlets have no journalistic standards whatsoever and see how closely the propaganda outlets of House of Saud coordinate with some elements of the Syrian opposition to get the propaganda story out.  Notice that the pro-Saudi director of the pro-Saudi Syrian Monitor for Human Rights is also cited (he is the only source on Syria for Nada Bakri--or so it seems to me).

The Salah Jadid's Ba`th Party: against the Syrian regime and foreign intervention

I have been receiving statements from the remnants of the Salah Jadid's Ba`th Party, known as

حزب البعث الديمقراطي الاشتراكي العربي
المكتب السياسي القومي
 So it calls itself: The Democratic Socialist Arab Ba`th Party--the National Politburo
and it is part of the Coordinating committees of the opposition.  It takes a very strong stance against foreign intervention while staunchly opposing the regime.  The regime is very brutal against this organization particularly because it has `Alawite support.  The Syrian regime has been most savage against those in the opposition who are 
Here is the text (if anyone feels like translating):

- بيان -
" لا للتدخّل العسكري الخارجي في سورية "
ارتفعت في الآونة الأخيرة وتيرة الجدل حول الاستنجاد بالخارج عسكريّاً بحجة إيقاف النزف الراهن في الجسد السوري نتيجةَ الحل الأمني الإجرامي الذي اعتمده النظام لقمع الانتفاضة الشعبية التي انطلقت من أجل الحرية والديمقراطية والكرامة وضدّ الاستبداد والفساد. وتضاربت الآراء حول التطورات الأخيرة وما رافقها من ردود الأفعال ، وبروز مجموعات متطرّفة مسلحة خارج الانتفاضة لها أجنداتها الخاصة ، ونشاط زمر الإجرام المحترف طمعاً بالمال ، فضلا عن جنوح البعض الى محاولة عسكرة الانتفاضة ، وما حدث داخل الجيش من انشقاقات والتحاقها بالانتفاضة ، أو انخراطها في/ الجيش السوري الحر / .
وبالرغم من الألم الذي يعتصر قلوب الوطنيين وجميع الشرفاء من أبناء شعبنا بسبب هذا الجرح النازف في جسد الوطن ، ومع إدراكنا الكامل لهول وفظاعة الويلات التي يعانيها الشعب جراء ممارسات النظام الوحشية، ومع تأكيدنا أن هذا النظام المستبد هو الذي يتحمل مسؤولية الأزمة التي أوصل البلاد اليها بسلوكه القمعي ونهجه السياسي والاقتصادي والاجتماعي ...الخ وكذلك مسؤولية سفك الدماء وإثارة النعرات الطائفية دون أن نتجاهل مسؤولية بعض الجهات الظلامية المتعصبة التي تصب بممارساتها وتصريحاتها الزيت على نار الفتنة... رغم ذلك كله، نرى أنّ المستنجد بالخارج عسكريّاً هو كالمستجير من الرمضاء بالنار، وذلك للأسباب التالية :
1- لأننا في المبدأ ضد أي تدخل خارجي في الشؤون الداخلية لأي شعب من الشعوب.
٢- لأنّ الدول المرشّحة للقيام بالتدخّل العسكري هي من دول الناتو وبعضها احتلّت بلداننا واستعمرتها سنين طويلة وشاركت في جريمة تقسيمها ونهبها، ولها مخططاتها الخاصة في تأبيد التجزئة والتخلّف في وطننا العربي ، والاستمرار في السيطرة على ثرواته. ولا نعتقد أن تُقدِم هذه الدول في يوم من الأيام على خطوة خطيرة من هذا القبيل لوجه الله ، أو انتصاراً للحرية والديمقراطية. ولو كانت هذه الدول كذلك لما شاهدنا الشعب الفلسطيني المظلوم ، وصاحب أعدل قضية في العالم رازحا تحت الاحتلال الإسرائيلي، ومشرّداً في أصقاع العالم منذ عام ١٩٤٨ ، ولما شاهدنا ملايين الإفريقيين الذين سحقتهم النزاعات والصراعات الداخلية في القرن الماضي ، ولا ملايين الكمبوديين الذين ذهبوا أيضاً ضحيّة صراعات مشابهة، وبالتالي لا توجد دولة أجنبية تضحٌي بأبنائها لنجدة مظلوم . وإذا ما حصل التدخل العسكري الأجنبي في بلادنا فسوف ندفع الثمن غالياً على حساب استقلالنا ووحدتنا وكرامتنا وانتمائنا وهوّيتنا ، وسلامة قضايانا القومية ... وإذا كان البعض يقدّمون ما جرى في جمهوريات الاتحاد اليوغسلافي السابق من تدخّلات لوقف النزف هناك كبراهين على صوابية مطالبتهم بالتدخّل العسكري في سورية... فإنهم يتغافلون عن الدوافع الحقيقية لذاك التدخّل ، والتي استهدفت تمزيق يوغسلافيا وفقاً لأجندات خاصة ، وحسابات استراتيجية تتعلق باستكمال تصفية المعسكر الاشتراكي في أوربا ، وكيفية مواجهة روسيا مستقبلاً بهدف إخضاع كافة دول أوربا للهيمنة الأمريكية ، والتحكّم بالترسانة النووية الروسية ثمّ السعي لتفكيكها لاحقاً.
٢ - إنّ تدخّل الناتو العسكري سواء جوّاً أم برّاً سيؤدّي حتماً الى تدمير البنية العسكرية والاقتصادية في سورية ، ومن مفرداته : تدمير كافة مطارات سورية ، وطيرانها، وكافة صواريخها ووسائط الدفاع الجوّي الأخرى ، ومعظم السلاح المدرّع ، ومعامل التصنيع الحربي ، ومصافي النفط وآباره ، والجسور والسكك الحديدية ، والمرافئ البحرية ، ومن المحتمل استخدام اليورانيوم المنضب كما حدث في العراق ، ولن يكون الهدف الأساسي إسقاط النظام المستبدّ بقدر ما سيكون تدمير سورية شعبا ودولة خدمة للتحالف الإمبريالي - الصهيوني ، وقد لا يقل البديل السياسي الذي سيفرضه أقلّ شراسة وظلماً من هذا النظام المتهالك الذي أصبح على وشك السقوط بدون هذا التدخّل العسكري الذي يسعى إليه البعض اليائس ، أو الجاهل بمخاطره ، أو المنطلق من ردّ الفعل تجاه قمع النظام وبطشه دون اكتراث بالآثار المدمّرة الهائلة التي ستنجم عن التدخل العسكري الخارجي ، وكثيراً ما نجد مثل هذه الطروحات على وسائل الإعلام المختلفة وصفحات الفيسبوك ....الخ
٣ - إنّ هذا التدخّل – في حال وقوعه - سيقود سورية الى حرب أهلية ، وسيمزّق نسيجها الوطني بحجّة حماية الأقليات. ويقيناً إنّ الدول الغربية المتدخّلة هي التي ستشجّع تلك الأقليات على المطالبة بالانفصال عن جسد سورية ، وقد ابتدأ البعض ممّن لهم اتصالات بدوائر غربية بنشر جرثومة ضرورة إيجاد كانتونات تحت مسميات ( فيدراليات ) بهدف زرع هذه الأفكار الخطيرة والمدانة في عقول شرائح متعصّبة جاهلة من أجل التقاط هذه الأفكار الغريبة ، وتسويقها في الداخل السوري .
4 - إنّ الدمار والخراب ، والخسائر بالأرواح ستكون أكبر أضعافاً مضاعفة من حجمها في حال استمرار النضال السلمي ، ولن تقارن – إذا وقع المحظور .. لا سمح الله - بما جرى في ليبيا ، إضافة إلى عوامل أخرى تزيد من هول الكارثة كصغر مساحة سورية نسبيا، والتركيبة الاجتماعية المعقدة فيها طائفيا ومذهبيا وقوميا واثنيا .
وأخيرا نؤكد قناعتنا الراسخة بأن شعبنا السوري ، بقواه الوطنية الحية وطاقات شبابه الخلاقة، قادر على مواصلة انتفاضته المجيدة بصبر وثبات ، وابتكار الأساليب النضالية الكفيلة بتحقيق هدفه المركزي المتمثل بالتغيير الوطني الديمقراطي عبر اسقاط نظام الفساد والاستبداد والتسلط الأمني بكافة رموزه ومرتكزاته وأنّ انتصار قضية شعبنا في الحرية والكرامة، وبناء دولته المدنية ، المقاومة قولاً وفعلاً ذات النظام الديمقراطي التعددي يتطلب منا جميعا المحافظة على سلمية الانتفاضة والعمل على توسيع رقعتها لتشمل كافة شرائح المجتمع وفئاته، والنضال لدحر الدعوات الطائفية من كل صنف ولون، ، والتمسك بتطبيق بنود المبادرة العربية بنزاهة وشفافية للحيلولة دون التدخل العسكر ي الخارجي، والمحافظة على وحدة سورية أرضاً وشعباً .
وفي سياق التطورات الأخيرة في سورية ومضاعفاتها فإنّنا نستنكر بشدّة التفجيرين الإرهابيين الأخيرين في دمشق ، وندين بقوة الجهة التي تقف وراءهما أيّاً كانت ...
النصر لانتفاضة شعبنا السوري الباسلة، والمجد والخلود لشهدائه الأبرار.
في : ٢٨/ 12 / 2011 المكتب السياسي القومي لحزب
البعث الديمقراطي الاشتراكي العربي

alienating my readers: blogging on Syria

"As’ad AbuKhalil, the author of the very popular Angry Arab blog, has refused to support the institutional elements of the Syrian opposition, alienating many longtime readers. But even he issues a constant streamof criticism against the regime itself."  Alienating readers?  I am not doing my job right if I don't alienate my readers.  The last thing I want to do is the give my readers--whoever they are--what they want. But let me add this to the observation by Elias.  Yes, he is right: there has been a shift in blogging on Syria from support of the regime to opposition.  There were some who were apologists for the regime who became opponents.  But I would add that based on Arabic writings on Syria: the other side (staunch support for the regime) is well represented but in the Arabic language.  I argue with people in the opposition side this all the time: that they refuse to believe that there are Syrians who genuinely support the regime and who are not shabbihah or mukhabarat or henchmen for the regime.  I see those people on my Facebook daily: if I write against the regime, they are quick to respond and defend the regime, just as the opponents of the regime are quick to respond whenever I attack the Syrian National Council.  It is fallacious to think that the regime does not have bases of support--still.   I still maintain that the sign of that (among others) is the fact that not a single person has defected from the government or from the diplomatic circle (I know, someone will mention that there was a a deputy to the assistant mayor of a little town near Dir`a etc).  It is also partly due to the calculation made by those people that the regime is not falling yet--or not any day soon.  The Syrian crisis is a very long crisis--even if the regime falls.  Just think that there is Lebanon: half of Lebanon will provide shelter for the ancien regime from which it can fight for power or seek revenge.  The notion that Lebanon won't be drawn into this--after the Hariri family declared open war on the Syrian regime--is folly.

The New York Times orders the Arab League

There was an editorial in the New York Times from a few days ago.  I don't really like to link to them but it was about the Arab League mission in Syria.  The tone of the editorial really bothered me.  In it, the Zionist--whoever he/she was--writer basically orders the mission to do this and that.  It made me wonder: on what basis does the New York Times think that it has any credibility on Arab issues?   Does it think that its long record on racism and bigotry against Arabs and its unconditional endorsement of Israeli war crimes qualify it to pontificate on Arab issues?

Another Lebanese genius

This is a regular feature.  An-Nahar and other Lebanonese right-wing silly media in Lebanon, regularly carry news of "discovery" of a cure for cancer by Lebanese geniuses.  Here is another quack who claims that he has "discovered" a cure.

apologists for the Syrian regime

What do I think about those individuals who have been apologists for the lousy Syrian regime and are now posing as supporters of the Syrian opposition?  I mean, they are not bad as that guy who served as minister of injustice for Qadhdhafi for years, before posing as leader of democratic Libya, but still.  

A response to the Syrian opposition supporter

Sam responded to a comment posted yesterday from a supporter of the Syrian opposition: "I follow your blog and have never emailed you my views, but the comment by the Syrian opposition supporter really annoyed me:

"The reason the people did not react with the Syrian revolution in the same way they did with Egypt and Tunisia is not related to NATO. The reader assumes reading your reason that March 15th protests start in Daraa , march 18th they demand NATO to interfere. You know very well that the requests for foreign intervention did not come early on, but required months of brutal , savage repression for a peaceful protests. Plus it took over 6 months for the opposition to agree on something and before that the revolution was going without it."

I don't understand these kinds of comments. For decades many have rightly claimed that Middle East problems are partly due to Western interference. Now, we have government suppression of protests, we call on these very same Western powers to intervene. It makes my stomach churn.

As for his comment about Syria supporting Hezbollah for sectarian reasons, I sense that he is trying to frame the conflict in sectarian (and bigoted) terms. The Asad regime does not support Hezbollah for sectarian reasons (the regime has essentially supported every side of the Lebanese political spectrum at one point or another). Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they support Hezbollah for noble reasons - of course this is not the case.

Sure Syria has a crappy dictatorship, there is no doubt about that. The regime is purely self-interested and is responsible for disgusting human rights abuses. I originally had great sympathy for the opposition movement in the country, but too much has happened since then and I now find myself not supporting them at all. We had the racist chants, sectarian killings and calls for foreign intervention. Not to mention the manipulations carried out by Saudi Arabia and the heavy involvement of the reactionary muslim brotherhood."

sexiness and non-sexiness of Arab uprisings

Comrade Laure sent me this comment in reaction to the post from yesterday:  "I have been thinking too about why the Syrian uprising was not as sexy as Egypt's or Tunisia. That's how I feel about it anyway and I find it very hard to explain it to myself. I did not react to Syria with the same enthusiasm I reacted to Tunisia or Egypt and I am not a fan of Bashar or the regime in any way (and I do take human rights seriously!!). As your comrade Laleh rightly said, that started way before talks about NATO started (although that was definitely a turning point). The reactions and positions of those you consider to be your opponents (or enemies) was a major determinant here. In Lebanon, the gap between the two camps started being defined when the first demonstration was called in support of the Syrian people and many, I among them, could not join when we saw March 14 hypocrites among our ranks, let alone Khaled Daher and Hezb el-Tahrir. Let's not lie to ourselves and admit that even our support to Egypt and Tunisia was not purely principled but also opportunistic, besides genuinely supporting and hoping for the freedom of the Egyptian and Tunisian people, many at some level enjoyed seeing friends of the US and Israel fall. The US stance on Syria could not be ignored here, hearing Clinton and Obama talk about toppling the regime, no matter how much you hate it, makes you want to support this criminal regime out of anger, just by remembering how the US administration is no less criminal everywhere around the world. Some did take this position on the ground of Syrian support to Hezbollah but for some like me who do not believe the Syrian regime did much to the Palestinians (rather played a negative role) would still think that if the battle is between the US and the regime, then yes, let the regime win but again between the regime and the people, only sadistic people would side with the regime. The confusion for me remains, despite the obvious urgent question of human rights and people's lives. The Syrian chapter of the revolutions is sad. Other components were significant in positioning oneself, like the developments in Libya, the rise of Islamism, the results of the Egyptian and Tunisian elections, the GCC role and the counter revolution, all happening while the Syrian chapter is still unfolding. In a nutshell, there are hypocrites on both sides and joining the camp of "neither the regime nor the opposition" is so not sexy!!!"

`Sa'ib Ahl-Al-Haqq versus Muqtada As-Sadr

This has been very interesting.  Muqtada As-Sadr has issued a very strong statement agaisnt `Sa'ib Ahl-Al-Haqq, which has prided itself in being a (Shi`ite) resistance movement against US occupation.  They have been issuing statements in the last two years or more claiming responsibility for various attacks on US occupation troops, and they have been sending me their political literature and seem upset by my criticisms of Shi`ite clergy, especially the lousy Sistani (the cleric of occupation).  They have even answered several political questions that I posed to them.  But they failed to dispel the impression that I have that they are a sectarian organization (in both composition and ideology).  Yesterday, As-Sadir denounced them in strong terms after they announced that they would enter the political process.  I was thinking about As-Sadr's reaction and asked people.  It seems that As-Sadr is worried about them: that they may try to enjoy the fruits of the humiliating withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.  And apparently most of the people from the `Asa'ib are defectors from Jaysh Al-Mahdi. Iraq after withdrawal of US troops will be such a different place. You may not recognize it.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Israel's dirty bombs in Sudan

Are you aware that Israel has bombed Sudan at least four times in the last few years? And not a word from the lousy Sudanese dictator who is now favored by the West. (thanks Steve)

Interpreters of Occupation

These are the only Iraqis that Western media express sympathy for.

This is reform in Saudi Arabia--according to the Western press

"Women in Saudi Arabia won a small but promising victory this year. No, they aren't being allowed to drive; that's still forbidden. Most of the time, they still can't work, travel or even open bank accounts without the approval of a male guardian. But they do have this: Saudi women can now buy lingerie in stores from female salesclerks, instead of the sometimes leering men who used to staff the counters. If this modest wave of liberalization continues, they may even get fitting rooms."

Grand and glorious collaboration

"The reconfiguration was not restricted to the Ramallah muqata alone. The PA is now redesigning its administrative buildings throughout the West Bank and pursuing a much broader spatial transformation. As Israel solidified a system of fragmented Palestinian bantustans – surrounded by a growing network of Jewish colonies that are linked together by Jewish-only roads – the PA began transforming the spatial and physical territoriality of cantons like Ramallah by constructing new buildings and the infrastructure of a “modern state.”
An official involved in the project of rebuilding the muqata in Ramallah describes it as the PA’s attempt to build an image of “grandeur that creates the impression that we have a state.” Explaining their rationale, he continues: “We can look, act, believe, and walk like a proper state. Alongside building the institutions and economic policies for a state, we can also build the pillars of state, including a presidential palace.”" (thanks Dana) 

What the Western press does not covered about the Zionist usurping entity

"A shy 8-year-old schoolgirl has unwittingly found herself on the front line of Israel's latest religious war.  
Naama Margolese is a ponytailed, bespectacled second-grader who is afraid of walking to her religious Jewish girls school for fear of ultra-Orthodox extremists who have spat on her and called her a whore for dressing ``immodestly.''   Her plight has drawn new attention to the simmering issue of religious coercion in Israel, and the increasing brazenness of extremists in the insular ultra-Orthodox Jewish community." (thanks Sajida)

The orphaned uprisings

The Bahraini and Saudi uprising (as limited as the one in Saudi Arabia has been) are the orphaned uprisings in the Arab world.  They are the lest covered uprising.  They are totally ignored in the Arabic press and their Youtube footage are largely ignored by Arab and Western media (unlike Youtube footage by Syrian opposition, for example, which get circulated widely on Arab and Western media).   If Arab governments and Western governments are guilty of selective championing of Arab uprisings, Arab youths should be categorical in supporting the overthrow of all Arab regimes without exception, while insisting on exclusion of NATO or other outside intervention.  

Lebanese guests on Syrian regime TV

There has been an array of Lebanese guests on Syrian regime TV.  They tend to me the most vulgar and crude propagandists of the Syrian regime.  Their racism and disregard for Syrian lives are not in any way less than the racism of March 14 Hariri groupies.  Both sides are willing and eager to exploit Syrian people's sufferings for their own ends.  They are always faulting the Syrian regime for its alleged mercifulness: implying that the regime should kill more people.  Yet, they champion "reform" by the regime but fail to tell us where are those reforms by the regime.  I know, I know. Committees are being formed.

Sexiness or non-sexisness of the Syrian uprising

A Syrian opposition supporter sent me this (he wishes to remain anonymous):  "The reason the people did not react with the Syrian revolution in the same way they did with Egypt and Tunisia is not related to NATO.  The reader assumes reading your reason that March 15th protests start in Daraa , march 18th they demand NATO to interfere.  You know very well that the requests for foreign intervention did not come early on, but required months of brutal , savage repression for a peaceful protests. Plus it took over 6 months for the opposition to agree on something and before that the revolution was going without it.
Arabs from March 15th did not feel the same way about Syrian revolution and that has nothing to do with NATO or more accurately months before the whole talk about NATO. The reasons are as follows:

1) People were burned out , they could not keep up and Tunis and Egypt were exciting but when it became replicated in Yemen , Bahrain , Libya ...etc people had enough "revolutions"  
2) People viewed Syria differently due to its ambiguous role in the region: Regime talks big against Israel , supports Hizbullah but every person who knows regime well knows that this stance is untrue. Syria was never allowed to do more than bark and their support for Hizbullah is sectarian and to allow the regime to remain in power by giving it this fake credibility. There are so many things over the past 40 years that shows how the regime helped Israel/US directly that this whole notion of "mumana'a" is just as credible as Obama's progressive credentials ( a PR campaign that has no basis in reality). US opposes Syria now because there is NO REASON for regime to be hiding anymore, and the regime can not get out of the closet and support openly US/Israel because doing that means the end of its "populous" stance. Regime is caught in catch 22 it tries to continue to appease Israel but Israel and US want none of it, they want more. 
3) Because of reason 2 , Arab "progressives" and especially Lebanese have taken a unprincipled stance against the revolution : crying conspiracy , belittling it , belittling the casualties, exaggerating the media role, and keeping a blind eye on regime crimes and absurd lies ...etc so in short they played a negative role for those arabs that were neutral. At the end of the day Syrians must rely on themselves only, they don't need NATO or arab hypocrites support."

Not in the US press: US attacks the Yemeni...protesters

The Saudi newspaper, Al-Watan, mouthpiece of Prince Khalid Al-Faysal, cites the US ambassador in Yemen in attacking the Yemeni protesters describing them as non-peaceful.  Non-peaceful? Is that a condition for the US in Syria or in Iran?  The paper also complains about Iranian financial intervention in Yemen.  (As is known, Saudi Arabia is opposed categorically to financial intervention in the affairs of nations).  (thanks anonymous)

US and its favored dictators

"The United States has found itself in a sometimes awkward position as the unrest in the Arab world has swept through Yemen. The administration conducts extensive counterterrorism operations with the Saleh government on suspected Qaeda cells. It was unclear whether the United States was Mr. Saleh’s first choice for a destination, and as officials weighed his request, some worried that he might stop in other countries and seek support for some kind of effort to stay in power."

Sexy uprising II

Comrade Laleh reminded me that I did not continue with my post about sexy uprisings--so to speak.  Yemen was ignored because Arab media are the ones who have played a part in whipping up support for Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings. But I would argue that by the time the Libyan NATO revolt occurred, Aljazeera Arabic has crossed the boundary of acceptability and credibility.  Its mobilization and agitation was no more seen as cute or credible but is seen as tied to a sinister Western and Zionist agenda.  Linking the internal revolt with NATO agenda began with Libya.  And then Syrian National Council followed suit. That could not attract support (not in the Arab world for sure).  Bahrain was not only ignored: but only covered from standpoint of sectarian conflict.  Yemen did attract some support but the GCC and West succeeded in obscuring the reality of oppression and repression by the lousy Yemeni regime.  This is why any big move or bombing the gas pipeline to Israel by Egyptian youths still manage to generate excitement among Arab youths.

Shari`ah is coming; Shari`ah is coming--to a theater next to you

"Former "Saturday Night Live" actress Victoria Jackson, working on confidential information she as a web talk show host has special clearance to obtain, has claimed that the United States is being overtaken by radical Muslims bent on bringing the nation under Sharia law.
"I just went to a briefing in Washington DC, across the street from the Capitol, at the Longworth building at 8:30 am two days ago and it changed my life," Jackson said last week on her web show, "Politichicks." "For six hours, I saw pictures and names and dates and facts and Islamic law books and Korans, Surahs for six hours and they proved to me... that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated our highest positions in government and this is serious.""  This woman who was never funny is now even less funny.

Ron Paul

This should be made clear. Ron Paul should not be supported by Arabs or by supporters of the Palestinians.  He may have said things against Israel (although his spokesperson yesterday asserted to the New York Times that he is a "friend" of Israel), but he is a racist and a reactionary and a homophoebe. This is another example that we can't apply one litmus test only to candidates and people.  A critic of Israel who hates blacks and gays (or who hates Jews for that matter and I don't know if Paul is anti-Semitic or not) is not a friend we need in the pro-Palestinian community.

Thus spoke Al-`Ar`ur

Shaykh `Adnan Al-`Ar`ur (the kooky Syrian cleric based in Saudi Arabia and who commands "some" support among "some" of the protesters in Syria--this is a question for you: who is more known in Syria? `Ar`ur or Gene Sharp?) here threatens to "cut off" the tongues of anyone in the Syrian National Council who does not call for international intervention in Syria.

The Tunisian president

My latest blog spot for Al-Akhbar English on the Tunisian president.

Sexy uprisings

I must say that I have been thinking as to why the Yemeni and Syrian and Libyan and Bahraini uprisings did not get the wide Arab support that the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings received.  There is very little wide Arab youth support for the Arab uprisings outside of Egypt and Tunisia.  The Syrian uprising (outside of the Fath circles among young Palestinians--I would not include the racists of March 14 in Lebanon who are accustomed to exploiting Syrian pain and suffering) did not generate much support on the popular level.  I was wondering as to why.   Partly, it has to do with blatant demands for NATO intervention: that really discredits a movement.  It was unthinkable for the Egyptian and Tunisian youths to call for NATO intervention.  Yet, the Syrian uprising has the most support among American academics--even among leftist academics: it is partly because it is an uprising that is directed against a regime not favored by Washington, DC.  But you would think that the leftist academics would know better.  Don't get me wrong: the lousy Syrian regime deserves only scorn and opposition but the Syrian National Council is not a better version than the lousy NATO council in Libya. Of course, the Syrian uprising should not be equated with the Syrian National Council, but I am afraid that the council with GCC help has succeeded in hijacking the uprising, and the lousy Syrian regime has kept in jail those who could present an alternative (radical leftists and Arab nationalists).  Selectivity in cheering bothers me.

Gene Sharp in Syria

I really don't hear anymore the notion of peaceful, non-violent uprising in Syria anymore...except in Hariri and Saudi media.  Here is a description of Homs in the New York Times today:  "They also spoke of an intensifying war in some neighborhoods, pitting defecting soldiers and other armed government opponents against the security forces and the army. Soldiers surrounded neighborhoods, tanks patrolling the streets. The residents, holed up in bathrooms or lower floors, could not say where most of the firing was coming from.  The fighting was concentrated in the Bab Amr neighborhood."  This is why I was surprised (a bit more than surprised) to read an account with a Gene Sharp bent in Jadaliyya--of all places (and written by a Now Hariri columnist).  It reads like the press releases of Hariri MPs in Beirut.  More, it makes this claim about the uprising:  "Consolidating national affiliations over narrow and primordial loyalties, with declarations of solidarity among towns and cities subjected to successive war crimes, and restoring the political, emotional, and social fabric that has been systematically fragmented by despotism."  Let me get this straight: so the sectarian kidnappings and torture between both sides in Homs serve to reinforce national loyalties?  I read this piece and learned what I knew not before about the operations of Hariri media and propaganda.  

Arab monitor on Al-Arabiyya

Yesterday, the news station of King Fahd's brother-in-law, Al-Arabiyya was blasting the news non-stop. It said that an Arab monitor appeared via phone on Al-Arabiyya and blasted the lousy Syrian regime.  And they kept airing the report in which the monitor kept attacking the Syrian regime and accused it of genocide and kept saying "even the Jews did not do that."  Within hours, the Arab League had to react and said that there was no monitor with that name (mustashar Mahjub) and that that report was fake and no monitor spoke to Al-Arabiyya.  Al-Arabiyya did what it does whenever it is caught with its pants down: it stopped airing the reports and erased any reference to it from its news site. Welcome to the standards of Saudi media.

A hint to Western reporters in the Middle East

If a man approaches you and introduces himself to you as a "security official in Hizbullah", it is certain that he is not in any way affiliated with the security apparatus of Hizbullah.  

Monday, December 26, 2011

News station of King Fahd's brother-in-law

Ahmet from Tunisia sent me this:  "Asad, Alarabiya is finding the eccentric fatwas issued by religious kooks in 2011 somehow cute that it merits a report and commentary of 8 minutes in its news hour. It is hard not escape the underlying romanticism of it all. Yes, the professional standards of Aljazeera and Al Arabiya are now close to being at the same level, but the latter knack for gossip and sleaze still dubiously distinguish it. An example, mind you, the other day the Palestinian anchor of Alarabiya Mayssoun Azzam was supposed to ask an Ennahda member about the latest on the formation of the government; her very first question was: Could you confirm to us the news coming out of Tunisia about the marriage of president Moncef Marzouki with the Minister of Woman affairs Sihem Badi? It was nothing but a rumor circulating on Facebook, and was categorically rejected by Marzouki himself."

Protocols of the Elders of Zion

So Lebanese University professor, Bayan Nuwayhid Al-Hut, responds my argument that her writings especially her book on Palestine (Filastin: Al-Qadiyyah. Ash-Sha`b.  Al-Hadarah) have been discredited due to her citations from the trashy anti-Semitic fraud, known as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.  I also mentioned (rightly) that her father was a major promoter and "editor" of the Protocols in Arabic and devoted a lifetime to propularize them.  Al-Hut (and I knew her late husband, Shafiq Al-Hut and admired him a great deal and never once heard him utter anything anti-Semitic), defends her stance and says that she does not necessarily agree with her father on the Protocols but that while it is not proven that they are not authentic, they are not proven to be forgery, she adds.  Of course, we know that the Protocols are a forgery.  There is a big investigative report about them in Encyclopedia Britannica from 1925, and now there are books on them.  But she then continues to cite the Protocols and to argue that Israel went beyond the scenario of the Protocols.  I don't think anyone can ever accuse me of being soft on Israel and its continuing war crimes, but I insist that pro-Palestinian rhetoric should  categorically reject and dismiss the anti-Semitic trash, like the Protocols. 

Ghalyun sounds like a typical Arab politician now

Speaking to the mouthpiece of Prince Salman, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat, Burhan Ghalyun said that his statement to WSJ were mistranslated and that he did not call for severing of ties with Hizbullah and Iran.

Mitch Prothero and his Hizbullah source

I wrote yesterday about Mitch Prothero claim that a Hizbullah security official admitted to him--to him for some reason--that, yes, Hizbullah has been hunting Syrian dissidents in Lebanon.  I expressed total disbelief at that story and noted the trend that some Western journalists have been attributing various unbelievable quotations to Hizbullah "official sources".  I mean, I won't be surprised if Prothero tomorrow quotes a Hizbullah official to the effect that "Hizbullah is a lousy terrorist organization and should be exterminated" or that Hizbullah wants to make peace with Israel.  Prothero (with whom I have communicated in the past), responded angrily and sent me obscene insults.   I don't wish to embarrass him by citing that email since he later apologized to me about his outburst.  He did not want me to cite from our private communications so he agreed to answer a few questions.  I sent him three and he answered them.  I did not say that he is lying: I think that he, like other Western journalists, are duped: either by people who are sent out by Hariri family press office for purposes of deception, or duped by local street thugs who are looking for extra cash or something else. I did not change my view after communicating with Prothero.  I believe that a real Hizbullah security official would not talk to the press: not to Prothero and not to someone else.  That organization is not run like Fath or like Amal movement.  Here are Prothero's answers:

"OK, Mitch: here are the questions:
How do you know that the Hizbullah security person is a Hizbullah security person?
Well they've arrested me a few times (briefly), so it pretty obvious when a guy on a motorbike, carrying a handheld radio, shows up and politely asks me to come with him to a Hizbollah office, where their security guys check out my cameras, mobile phone and passport. That's a good sign. 

But in terms of reporting access, it's taken years for me to meet some of these guys. Frankly it's far harder to get decent access to Hizbollah than it is to the Taliban , Hamas, or even in some cases al Qa'eda type guys. They really don't like to talk to journalists. But the people I do know, I've been introduced by mutual friends who approach them to see if they'd be willing to sit and talk with me. Many refuse. But some do end talking to be a little bit about certain aspects of the Islamic Resistance. And while they do maintain an impressive level of operational security, they're also very well known people in their neighborhoods. There's a particular juice stand in Dahiya where members of the Special Forces unit for Beirut meet up virtually every night -- when they're not off training -- and sit and socialize. Everyone in the neighborhood knows who they are and what they do. They're a secretive organization certainly, but since the 2006 war, it seems like there are an awful lot more of them around the southern suburbs and they maintain a more obvious presence these days then ever before. It is true that sometimes journalists can be tricked by a fixer or source into thinking they're interviewing some insurgent, when in reality it's just some guy. But that happened more in Iraq than here in Lebanon. It's a small country, if I get introduced to some fighter and he's willing to chat -- and again, they hardly reveal the inner most details of the group - it can be readily apparent that he's for real, if only because everyone in the neighborhood knows the guy. Or he's in one of there little offices scattered around Dahiya. These can be in buildings but more often than not it's nothing more than a shipping container with a TV playing al Manar and people making coffee and tea while they boys sit around waiting to be called up or even go out on patrol. So while they were a completely anonymous band of guerillas during the time of the Israeli occupation, today they're about five times as large in terms of manpower and they have to maintain something of a public presence in the areas where they live. In the case of the particular commander I quoted in the piece for FP, I've literally seen him work during funerals and events such as Ashura. He commands about 300 men in two squares and it was obvious he was in charge of a lot of the men running security at the events. I put a lot of effort into making sure the people I talk to are really who they say they are. Even one mistake on something like that would damage my credibility as a journalist and if have any doubts, I don't use the material in a story. I have other ways that I have verified that guys are real, but I also can't say too much as these sources are obviously breaking rules to talk to me and I owe them some protection. It's the worst part of this sort of reporting, at the end of the day, a reader has to look at my body of work my experience in the region and decide if the interview is legit based off my reputation. One mistake like this would ruin me.  
2) Why would a Hizbullah security person talk to you?
I frequently ask myself that same question. And I am always aware that a source like that can have a job-related motive. In the case of one source, he's literally tasked with collecting intelligence in Beirut. By meeting with me and feeding me some small tidbits of information, he's probably learning more about me and other western journalists than I am about him. But while they are literally the most secretive group I've ever encountered, the group is still made up of human beings. Some guys will talk because they think the media paints an unfair picture of them and they're proud of what they do and trust me to be fair. And some people simply like to talk about their jobs, although those types are rare. Still others are people I've known for years and over time they've decided to trust me on some level. I wouldn't go as far to say that I'm 'friends' with some of these guys, but I'll bet a few of them would say that about me. They're also an incredibly confident bunch and most of the guys I speak with withhold a lot of information but only tell me stuff that won't hurt the party. They don't think that any story I write could really hurt them, and they're right. they don't tell me that sort of stuff. Actually to be fair, in the dozens of conversations I've had with military wing fighters over the last five or so years, I can't think of one thing anyone ever told me that would hurt the group. Anything having to do with weapons systems, military capability, strategy etc, they'll never talk about. ever.  
3) in your experience, are Hizbullah cadres and security people mentally impaired and often say things that are wildly damaging to the party line represented by Hasan Nasrallah? 

Well I reject the premise of that question. The quote you take exception with in my last story for FP was not wildly damaging to the party line. The story certainly didn't make them look good, but I doubt very much that Hasan Nasrallah would deny that Hizbollah's internal security is working over time to monitor weapons smugglers sending equipment to Syria or monitoring Salafi Jihadists that might pose a threat to the internal security of not just the party, but Lebanon as a whole. They closely monitor everyone living in their areas particularly foreigners. and if they decided that someone was doing something dangerous from a security standpoint, they'll arrest them. I cant imagine why anyone would think that's damaging to the party and the source who told me that was trying to make the point that Hizbollah is NOT conducting kidnappings or harassment of Syrian dissidents. So he told me what they are doing to give my story some balance, he knew it was going to include the Sunni/Hariri perspective and he wanted the chance to deny it. I gave him that opportunity but as I said in the piece, I'm not sure the math supports his claim.

So are they mentally deranged? Absolutely not. They're the most competent organization I've ever encountered in the Middle East. As I said before, I've never heard someone say anything that went against party policies. Yes some people have broken the rules to talk to me, but even those conversations have been fairly bland and quite often useless for my stories. But as I said above, they're proud of their group and its accomplishments. And if there's a way to show me some of the things they've achieved in the past, such as taking me on a tour of Wadis in the south where they used to mount operations against the Israelis, they see it as harmless as those positions have long been abandoned. But do they invite me to training camps, or take me to operational military areas? not in a million years."