Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Memoirs of Suzanne Mubarak

The sleazy and opportunistic Egyptian magazine, Rose Al-Yusuf, has published what it claims are memoirs of Suzanne Mubarak.  Having read parts of them, I can state my opinion: they are a hoax.  No mother would write that one of her sons hated the other son.

BDS movement in Lebanon

The BDS movement in Lebanon has been really growing and has become very effective.  It should inspire all BDS movements around the world.  Here is a file about that from Al-Akhbar.

That can only mean that Iraq has sovereignty

"A month after the last American troops left Iraq, the State Department is operating a small fleet of surveillance drones here to help protect the United States Embassy and consulates, as well as American personnel. Some senior Iraqi officials expressed outrage at the program, saying the unarmed aircraft are an affront to Iraqi sovereignty.  The program was described by the department’s diplomatic security branch in a little-noticed section of its most recent annual report and outlined in broad terms in a two-page online prospectus for companies that might bid on a contract to manage the program. It foreshadows a possible expansion of unmanned drone operations into the diplomatic arm of the American government; until now they have been mainly the province of the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency.
American contractors say they have been told that the State Department is considering to field unarmed surveillance drones in the future in a handful of other potentially “high-threat” countries, including Indonesia and Pakistan, and in Afghanistan after the bulk of American troops leave in the next two years. State Department officials say that no decisions have been made beyond the drone operations in Iraq.  The drones are the latest example of the State Department’s efforts to take over functions in Iraq that the military used to perform. Some 5,000 private security contractors now protect the embassy’s 11,000-person staff, for example, and typically drive around in heavily armored military vehicles."

David Kirkpatrick on US displeasure with Egypt

"The decision to give the individuals shelter indicates a new low in the relations between Cairo and Washington, which recently threatened to stop its $1.3 billion in annual aid to the Egyptian military if it failed to take steps toward a democratic transition, including respecting such nongovernmental groups."  Mr. Kirkpatrick, some perspective and historical context is in order here.  You really believe--and state with a straight face--that US is displeased with the Military Council because the US wants a speedy transition to democracy?  Are you kidding me and kidding your leaders? Was the US ever displeased with Sadat or Mubarak over their despotism?  Also, does democracy have to include the ability of foreign governments to fund various groups in a country?  I mean, can the Chinese government just fund groups right and left here in the US?

Flattery of Arab despots

Apparently, the shifty Khalid Mish`al of Hamas has developed a skill of flattering Arab despots.

Child molestation by the Syrian regime

I heard part of the speech of the British foreign minister in which he accused the regime of child molestation.  I mean, when Western governments decide to attack an Arab or Muslim country, all claims are possible.  There is never any need to provide evidence for any claims made against that particular regime.  You can say or claim anything.  I am waiting for a few weeks to start hearing that the Syrian regime also has nuclear weapons and that it has mobile units to make WMDs.  

Queen Elizabeth in New York City?

Wlah is there any Western leader who has not flown to New York City to discuss the Syrian situation? I mean, I know that Western governments have historically been known for their love of the Syrian people, but will the Queen of England also join the debate?


I tell people I know about Syria: my suspicions that the Syrian National Council is dominated by Ikhwan and that it would only serve as a tool of Saudi Arabia and Qatar (and Israel behind them) have been proven right.  I knew all along that this council would really only betray the Syrian people and their justified uprising and that it would basically guarantee that its model of government would be as bad as the Asad regime--if not worse.  

Lies of the Syrian opposition

When will there be an article in the Columbia Journalism Review about the lousy Western media coverage of Syria?  What about the claim that the Syrian "rebels" arrested 3 (just three) members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards who were allegedly participating in the repression in Syria--as if the repressive regime needs advice and help in repression?  Of course, it turned out that the three were none other than those Iranian engineers who were kidnapped in Syria weeks earlier.  Will the lousy Western media ever expose or reveal one lie by the Syrian opposition?  One lie, not two?  And what about their claims that Hizbullah fighters are also participating in the killing?  I mean, if they tomorrow claim that Cuban soldiers were shooting in Syria, I am sure that the Western media would publish the claim and bring a terrorism expert to confirm.  I must confess, I have never seen a worse coverage of Arab affairs like I have seen in the coverage of Syria in the last few months.  It is more blatantly propagandistic than the coverage that led to the American invasion of Iraq.   I mean, at one point, a Lebanese Army truck was passing in a street in Damascus, and Syrian National Council websites and Saudi media published the picture and claimed that Lebanese Army soldiers are also participating in repression in Syria.  The Lebanese Army had to issue a statement to explain what that lone truck was doing in Damascus.  

Gene Sharp trained them on the use of RPGs in Homs

It is hilarious that the same Saudi media that insisted all along that all manifestations of protests in Syria are peaceful now brandish pictures of armed protesters.  And notice that they insist that every armed person is part of the "Free Syrian Army".  This is from the mouthpiece of Prince Salman, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat. 

Niall Ferguson

There are people on the opposite sides that I really enjoy to read.  I really like to read George Will: he is such a terrific writer and an effective columnist.  I also enjoy reading Niall ferguson, ever since I read his book The World's Banker: The History of the House of Rothschil.  I am ready to start reading his new book, Civilization.  Of course, of course.  I disagree with his premises and his conclusions.  

The scandal of the Arab League Monitors

This is a scandal.  It really is and won't be covered because the Western and Arab (Saudi and Qatari-funded) media won't report on it.  Basically, the GCC-led Arab League created an Arab monitoring group in Syria and the idea was supported by the Syrian National Council.  When the report of the group came out against the wishes of the GCC and its Western patrons, it was simply canceled and they simply moved to plan B.  No explanation was given and no attempt to even release and discuss the report.  The report was attacked in Saudi and Qatari media before it was even released, and the staging of the "defector" from the group was part of the propaganda operation.  

apartheid sciences

"The public opinion surveys also tell us, as noted, about those who conduct them. "If elections were to be held now," the pollsters tell us, this party would get this number of seats, and that party would get that number of seats. Then, at the very end of the detailed report about this and that, within the context of the "menu" of Jewish-democratic parties, will come the eternal sentence: "And the Arab parties will receive such and such a number of seats." Because in the eyes of every "educated" Zionist, every single Arab is an Ahmed, or is assumed to be an Ahmed.  It is therefore not clear why so much time and money is being spent. After all, the election results are a forgone conclusion: 110 Knesset seats to the Jewish parties and 10 seats to the Arab parties - is that not so? Here is yet another lesson in the apartheid sciences." (thanks "Ibn Rushd")

Flash: fight on Aljazeera live broadcast

On the widely watched Al-Ittijah Al-Mu`akis on Aljazeera Arabic, a debate between a Lebanese supporter of the Syrian regime and an opponent of the Syrian regime degenerated into yelling at obscenities and then into an actual fight.  The live broadcast was interrupted by the network.  A Youtube moment will soon follow.  Just now.

PS Here is the video.

Obama and Ross

"Apparently, a short while after Ross left his position in the Obama administration, the White House made an unusual request to install a secure phone line in Ross' office at the Washington Institute. The secure line is known in Israel as a "red phone", which could be used to discuss confidential information without the risk of wiretapping." (thanks Tarek)

The Agenda of the Syrian National Council

"Haitham Maleh, a member of the executive committee of the Syrian National Council, told The Daily Telegraph that Mr Assad had forfeited any chance of a peaceful exit from Syria as a result of his regime's brutal crackdown on protesters.  The former judge, who has spent decades in Syrian prisons for his human rights activism, predicted that Mr Assad, his wife and three children would be killed in revenge for his failure to respond positively to peaceful demands for change.  "Assad and his family will be killed in Syria, their next steps will be very bloody," he said. "Two months ago we offered him the option to leave us alone and go but instead he went for the blood of his people. The end for him will be that he is killed like Gaddafi."" 

Western media should note

That when they report on attacks on "suspected thugs of the regime" by some protesters, it could simply be a reference to sectarian attacks on `Alawites.  

This major crash is yet to be covered in the New York Times

"The Heron TP drone is also known locally as the Eitan. It has a wingspan of 86 feet, making it the size of a Boeing 737 passenger jet. It is the largest unmanned aircraft in Israel's military arsenal. No injuries were reported in the accident. Israel's military is understood to be launching an investigation into the crash.  The drone figures to be featured prominently in any potential Israeli operation against Iran and its expanding nuclear program."  If this was a crash of an Iranian missiles, it would be featured on the front page of all US newspapers.  Saudi media also ignored the "incident". (thanks John)

Threats to secularism in Tunisia

"The insults were furious. “Infidel!” and “Apostate!” the religious protesters shouted at the two men who had come to the courthouse to show their support for a television director on trial on charges of blasphemy. Fists, then a head butt followed."  Yes, Shadid is right: this conflict will intensify but the other side (the secularists) are not passive and not taking it on the chin.  They are fighting back and defiantly.  Salafites are being mocked in the popular cultures of Egypt and Tunisia.  


So Arab and Western media carried a story about the execution of Husayn Harmush (the former leader of the Free Syrian Army gangs).  Yet, none of the stories that I looked at had any source besides "opposition activist".  

Saudi propaganda hearts Israel

I knew that Saudi government would feel very uncomfortable about Saudi hackers targeting Israel.  I knew that they would do something to respond to it, especially that Israeli media expressed alarm about the phenomenon.  So what does the House of Saud do?  A Saudi regime newspaper, Al-Madinah, comes up with an article (unsubstantiated) that "a Saudi hacker" got into the personal email account of Bashshar Al-Asad.  There was no confirmation by anyone but it indicated the direction of Saudi hostilities.

Military justice in the US

"The Haditha case also fits another pattern: Many cases involving civilian deaths arise during the chaos of combat or shortly afterward, when fighters’ emotions are running high; they can later argue that they feared they were still under attack and shot in self-defense.   In those so-called fog-of-war cases, the military and its justice system have repeatedly shown an unwillingness to second-guess the decisions made by fighters who said they believed they were in danger, specialists say.  “There is a surprising pattern of acquittals,” said Eugene R. Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School. “I think there is an unwillingness in some cases of military personnel to convict their fellow soldiers in the battle space.”  The limited data available suggests that even when the military has tried to prosecute troops for murder or manslaughter in a combat zone, the acquittal rate has been significantly higher than it is in the civilian context.  Over the last 10 years, the Army has court-martialed 43 people on murder or manslaughter charges in cases that occurred in Iraq or Afghanistan and that included both civilian victims and detainees. Twenty-eight were convicted and 15 acquitted.  That acquittal rate is more than twice as high as it is in civilian criminal cases, said Stephen A. Saltzburg, a law professor at George Washington University. But, he said, the gap is not surprising, given the chaos of combat.  “Those considerations mean there’s more likely to be a reasonable doubt, when you’re trying to figure out what happened,” he said.  The Marine Corps did not offer a detailed breakdown of its court-martial numbers, and even the numbers provided by the Army offer only a limited window into unlawful killings in the war zones. For example, they do not cover cases involving a lesser charge like negligent homicide, or those punished with administrative reprimands.  Some cases that have received prominent attention have never led to charges.  For example, in 2008 the military did not bring charges against two Marines who commanded a unit accused of firing indiscriminately at cars and bystanders along a 10-mile stretch in Afghanistan, killing 19 people and wounding 50. The shootings began after a suicide bomber attacked the unit, and the Marines said they were being shot at and had fired to defend themselves as their convoy fled.  By contrast, the justice system has been more likely to hand down convictions and lengthy sentences for killings detached from the chaos of combat."

A Saudi propagandist on the Syrian regime

""It is a regime that exhausted the Americans in Iraq and caused the killing of 3,000 U.S. troops and more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians as a result of its support to al-Qaeda and the jihadists who used to come from all over the Arab world to Damascus, where they got trained before heading to Iraq to die in suicide attacks.""  When Saudi propagandists write in Arabic, they are writing for Western audiences.  This is why they are keen on translating their own words into English. (thanks Karim)

"Beirut death of Nepalese migrant worker Lila - video"

"Lila Aacharya left Nepal hoping to make a better life for her two young daughters. Two months later her body was flown home. Lila's case exposes the toll of human trafficking - from her attempt to escape the poverty of her village in the Himalayan foothills to her exploitation and death as a domestic worker in an upmarket apartment in Beirut".  (thanks Raed)

crimes against women

"If you are already sufficiently appalled knowing there’ve been 12 despicable “honour killings” in Canada since 2002, don’t read any further. This is only the tip of a nightmarish iceberg, I’m afraid.  For some reason, the term honour killings seems to be reserved for murders committed by male family members against daughters or sisters in South Asian or Middle Eastern communities. These unimaginable crimes have been receiving much high-profile notoriety in the Canadian media, as they surely deserve. All Canadians must now know of the tragic murder of 16-year old Aqsa Parvez of Mississauga, strangled to death three years ago by her brother and father.  But I’m confident that not one in a million is aware that in Ontario alone, from 2002 until only 2007 (the latest data), 212 women have been killed by their partners. That’s 42 every year, compared with 12 so-called honour killings in all of Canada in the past eight years. Women killed by partners are known as domestic homicides, and, unless especially gruesome, are barely worth a mention in the media. Maybe there's just too many of them to be newsworthy.  The data comes from the Ontario Domestic Violence Death Review Committee, which I didn’t even know existed until it was recently cited in the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' Monitor. I’ve never come across these figures anywhere else." (thanks Laleh)

Delegitimizing the illegitimate

"The University of Pennsylvania will be breaking all precedents about legitimizing and mainstreaming anti-Israel activism on prominent college campuses this week -- and crossing a new red line -- by hosting a conference, called PennBDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), which openly states that its intention is to train people and organize communities to try to dismantle Israel economically -- and, if conference participant Omar Barghouti's book, "BDS: Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions," is any indication, otherwise, as well. The conference is scheduled to take place Feb. 3-5.  A Google search of "PennBDS Conference" yields over 1000 entries, including a apologistic article from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency [JTA] saying that Penn is trying to "distance" itself from the conference, and that Penn's President, Amy Gutmann says she, "does not support the conference...or support its aims."" (thanks Reem)

Sources of Aljazeera

The website of the lousy Qatari regime news propaganda channel has a report on the Free Syrian gangs and they cite Christian Science Monitor which cites an "expert" at WINEP.

Transformation of the Syrian conflict

Comrade Bassam on the transformation of conflict in Syria. 

Karl Marx's desk

I asked a guy at the British Museum in London: can I see the desk that Karl Marx worked on at the British museum?  He said: it is not available for public display.  

Monday, January 30, 2012

Syrian National Council Flash news

Flash. Syrian National Council issued a statement in which they expressed gratitude for the safe arrival of Prince Sattam to Riyahd last night.  Civil state and democracy and House of Saud and Wahhabiyyah will spread under their rule.  The Syrian people deserve better. Neither the Asad regime nor the Syrian National Council.

Iran's battle

Comrade Amer writes about Iran's battle and "our battle"

National Potato Council

""The National Potato Council, which had opposed the attempts to limit the serving of potatoes, said that it was pleased with the new rules but that it still had some concerns."

Rewarding the loyal Moroccan potentate

"The European Parliament's committee for International Trade last week gave the green light to a new agriculture agreement that will ease restrictions on the importation of fruit and vegetables from Morocco.
But it has emerged that the single biggest beneficiary of the deal will be the King of Morocco, who is head of one of the three largest agricultural producers in the north African country and lays claim to 12,000 hectares of the nation's most fertile farmland.  Human rights groups have warned that royal estates covered with polytunnels stretch across swathes of the Dahkla region of the Western Sahara, the former Spanish colony annexed by Morocco in 1975." (thanks Laleh)

From the cruel and racist state of Lebanon

"Two Sudanese men who survived this weekend’s building collapse in Ashrafieh are in General Security custody because of their immigration status." (thanks Marc)

Thomas Friedman on average

"In the past, workers with average skills, doing an average job, could earn an average lifestyle. But, today, average is officially over. Being average just won’t earn you what it used to."  And how do you categorize yourself, Mr. Friedman?  Because we see you as well below average.  (thanks Nikolai)

Uncovered Jordan

Uncovered protests in Jordan.

Adonis in the Guardian

There are problems in the articles. She said that he "embraced" colloquial Arabic in his journal, which is patently untrue.  He clashed with Yusuf Al-Khal over this and he writes in classical Arabic, always.  I don't know where she got this from.  Also, his position against the Syrian regime are not as categorical as he claims in the interview: I have not read any clear call for the resignation of Bashshar Al-Asad.  Thirdly, it is not true that he has not been in Syria in two years because it is "dangerous".  He has been going to Syria since 1976 and edited the cultural supplement of the regime's mouthpiece AFTER the Syrian army sent its troops to Lebanon in 1976 to crush the PLO and its ally, the Lebanese National Movement.  But here is an excerpt from his interview:  "Yet he is against both armed uprising and foreign intervention. "Guns can't resolve these problems. If everyone took up arms, there'd be civil war." Outside military intervention has "destroyed Arab countries, from Iraq to Libya". As for its humanitarian rationale, "it's not true – it's to colonise. If westerners really want to defend Arab human rights, they have to start by defending the rights of the Palestinians."  Calls for intervention from within Arab countries "are wrong; it doesn't make sense. How can you build the foundations of the state with the help of the same people who colonised these countries before?" At a talk this month in the House of Poetry in Paris, he held up a photograph published in al-Quds of some US soldiers in Iraq apparently desecrating the dead. "American soldiers pissed on Iraqi corpses," he says indignantly. "So these are the same people they want to call in to liberate Arabs, and piss on the living?""

Lebanonese Hotel

"Complications in Lebanon are no less than in any other country, you just think your country is special, and complicated in a special way. The problem is square and simple: Lebanon is a racist, sectarian, selfish, hypocrite, fake, and pretentious country..." (thanks Niqula)

Syrian National Council

The utterly pathetic Syrian National Council places an ad of its official poster of gratitude to Saudi King in the mouthpiece of Prince Khalid bin Sultan, Al-Hayat.  The fact that this comes a week after a meeting between Ghalyun and Saud Al-Faysal, and week after news in the British press that both Qatar and Saudi Arabia funds the lousy Syrian National Council is a mere coincidence.

Nepalese maid in Lebanon

A Nepalese maid in Lebanon kills herself by hanging.  (thanks Raed)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Syrian National Council issues an official letter of gratitude to the Saudi King

A real revolution or a real revolutionary group does not express gratitude to Saudi King.  You expect me to support those?  Are you really kidding me?  Look at the language and look at the clerical organizations who also signed this lousy document.  (thanks E.)

A different perspective on the problem of Boko Haram

"All of this seems well beyond the capabilities of a small cult known mainly for its views on secular education. Boko Haram in Hausa, the main language of the north, means “Western learning is forbidden”. The frequency and sophistication of the violence has led many, especially in America, to suggest that the group is getting support from international terrorist networks. Algeria’s branch of al-Qaeda and, more improbably, Somalia’s Shabab have been mentioned. Nigeria’s government, keen to win lucrative grants as a front-line ally in the West’s “global war on terror”, has encouraged such explanations.  Religious and political leaders in the mainly Muslim north, however, see things differently. To them, the internationally connected, ferociously active Islamist fringe group described by officials is largely an imaginary bogeyman. They say there are some genuine religious fanatics in the north but suggest Boko Haram has been co-opted into a murky mix of criminal opportunists and disgruntled political operators. “It’s something like a Bermuda triangle.” says Kashim Shettima, the governor of Borno State, where the group originates. “Boko Haram has become a franchise that anyone can buy into.”  Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s president, seems in two minds. He has claimed that Boko Haram and its sympathisers have infiltrated all branches of the government, including the army and police. “Some continue to dip their hands and eat with you, and you won’t even know the person who will point a gun at you or plant a bomb behind your house,” he told a church congregation in Abuja.
The president, a Christian who is unpopular in the Muslim north, is following the advice of his top security men baying for blood. He has put much of the north under a state of emergency. He appears ready to give the armed forces and police a free hand to run large-scale operations. And he is set to spend an astonishing 20% of the federal budget on security this year.  Some fear that such measures may make matters worse. Already deployed in parts of the north, troops are seen by locals as occupiers. Their high-handed, sometimes violent behaviour stokes rebellious feelings. A backlash is already happening."

And this from a British conservative

"Consider these stark facts.
Adjusted for inflation, the income of the average American male has essentially flatlined since the 1970s, according to figures from the Census Bureau. The income of the bottom quarter of U.S. families has actually fallen. It’s been a different story for the rich. According to recent work by Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez, the share of total income going to the top 1 percent of families has more than doubled since 1979, from below 10 percent to a peak of nearly 24 percent in 2007. (It has since fallen, but not by much.) The share going to the super-rich—the top 0.01 percent—has risen by a factor of seven.  Americans used to be proud of their country’s reputation as a meritocracy, where anyone could aspire to get to the top with the right combination of inspiration and perspiration. It’s no longer true. Social mobility has been sliding in the United States. A poor kid in America now has about the same chance of becoming a rich grown-up as in socially rigid England. It looks like Downton Abbey has come to downtown U.S.A.  Left-of-center economists like Paul Krugman and Jeffrey Sachs explain this phenomenon with the following story. Financial deregulation by Ronald Reagan ushered in an era of rampant greed in finance; meanwhile, Republicans ruthlessly hacked back New Deal and Great Society social programs to finance tax cuts for their Wall Street cronies.  To make their point, liberals point to European countries like Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands, where the rich have not been getting richer and social mobility remains high. Conclusion? America needs European-style policies like the ones listed by Krugman in a recent column: “more nutritional aid for low-income mothers-to-be and young children…[improved]?public schools…aid to low-income college students…[and] a universal health care system.” And how would that all be paid for? You guessed right: higher taxes on the rich." 

armed with the ideas of Gene Sharp only (and weapons)

Free Syrian Saudi pro-Salafite Army

Inequality is good

BBC News held a debate on capitalism, from Davos I think. They invited three experts (all of whom are enthusiastic supporters of capitalism, of course) and one of them said: that inequality is good. That it is a good motivator.  

Lobbyists of principle

"Lobbyists for the Egyptian government in Washington have ended their contracts with the country because of growing tensions after a raid by Egyptian authorities on several American nonprofit organizations."  Those are lobbyists of principle indeed. All their years of service to the dictatorial regime of Mubarak did not bother them or cause them a crisis of "conscience."

House of Saud's columnist finds a hero in Tunisia

"During the visit made by the author of this article to Tunisia at the beginning of the week, it was truly striking to hear what Tunisians were saying about the man whom Davos had warmly welcomed last year, the highly qualified Governor of the Central Bank and former economic expert at the World Bank, Mustapha Nabli. They were saying that a fierce campaign was being waged against him because he is the only non-Islamist in government."  No, there is a campaign against him because was the architect of Bin `Ali's economic policies which led to the uprising.  How convenient.  (thanks Ahmet)

Prince Turki on "Jewish wealth"

""With our brain power, and Jewish wealth,” he says, “we can do wonders."" (thanks Basim)

Herzilya festival to celebrate Israeli war crimes

"The Palestinian Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) condemned on Thursday the participation of Arab figures from Egypt, Jordan and Qatar in the 12th annual Herzliya conference.
The Herzliya conference is considered the most important annual event for Israel's military intelligence as it is concerned mainly with the promotion of Israeli "national security," and thus forms a major threat to the Palestinian cause, the committee said in a statement Thursday.  The Herzliya conference will be held between 31 January and 2 February under the name “In the Eye of Storms: Israel and the Middle East."  Al-Quds Al-Arabi, a London-based Arabic daily, reported on Thursday that among participants in the conference are Riad al-Khoury, a Jordanian economist, Salman al-Sheikh of the Doha-based Brookings Institute, Sherif al-Diwany, chairman of Marsad (Observatory) Inc. in Egypt, and Saeb Erekat, former chief Palestinian negotiator.  The BNC called on Arab figures participating in the conference to withdraw."  And there is a Lebanese Zionist likudnik but no one has ever heard of him. (thanks Khalid)

Bullshit PhD

Jordanian media are ecstatic: a Jordanian specializes in the speeches of King PlayStation of Jordan. (thanks Jasser)

Berlitz is training Israelis in hacking: can you imagine if they were doing that for Arab hackers?

"The Berlitz class, a sort of Arabic-for-hackers 101, includes the alphabet and recognition of key words such as “Ministry of Interior Affairs,” “national bank” and “government,” one teacher told Maariv. "This will save us time locating government companies, banks and enemy country government bodies," the student said.  Mira Mines, a top Berlitz executive, was quoted in the report as saying that the school was glad to take part in the national effort and "help hackers deter anti-Israeli elements from attacking Israel in the future.""

Can you imagine the uproar if he were a Muslim cleric?

"Soon after he began running for Congress in 2009, Michael G. Grimm, a Staten Island Republican, needed to convince party leaders in Washington that he could raise enough money to become a viable candidate. Seeking help, he turned to an unlikely source: followers of an Orthodox rabbi and mystic from Israel." (thanks Shadi)

Rami Abdur-Rahman

Even after it was revealed that there was no person by the name of Rami Adbur-Rahman at the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, Western media continue to quote him widely.  Just google his name.  Western media (like in Iraq in 2003) are intent on being part of a propaganda campaign and journalistic standards are first to go.

The casino in Jordan

"The trip to Jordan by a group of United States congressmen was supposed to be a chance for them to meet the newly crowned King Abdullah II. But their tour guide had a more complicated agenda.  The guide was Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate who helped underwrite trips to the Middle East to win support for Israel in Congress. On this occasion in 1999, as the lawmakers enjoyed a reception at the Royal Palace in Amman, Mr. Adelson and an aide retreated to a private room with the king.  There, the king listened politely as Mr. Adelson sat on a sofa and paged through his proposal for a gambling resort on the Jordan-Israel border to be called the Red Sea Kingdom.  “This was shortly after his father, King Hussein, died, and he was grateful to me,” Mr. Adelson explained later in court testimony, recalling that he had lent his plane when the ailing monarch sought treatment in the United States. “So they remembered.”  The proposal never went anywhere..."  Oh, no. It got somewhere.  There was a casino scandal later and many in Jordan suspect the royal family and mysterious investors of being involved.

Partners in crime in Yemen

"The State Department has announced that Yemen's embattled president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, will have diplomatic immunity while he visits the United States this week for medical treatment.  The immunity is being granted to Saleh as it would to any foreign head of state, the State Department said in a statement, and will last "until a new Yemeni president is sworn in following elections on February 21." Saleh is due to arrive in the country any day to seek treatment at a New York hospital for injuries suffered during a June attack on his presidential compound by anti-regime forces."  The US Department of State added that Saleh would also be fighting terrorists while in the US.  (thanks Mariela)

Friday, January 27, 2012

End of UK university tour

So I return today to the US after finishing my UK university tour. I wish to thank my local hosts in all of the cities that I visited.  You have all made the tour easier and less stressful. Regards to all.  

Flash. Stop the presses.

This is an actual headline in Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat (mouthpiece of Prince Salman): "Prince Sattam arrives in Riyadh today."

daily crimes of Israel

"An injured Palestinian construction worker screams in pain after an Israeli army driver drove a trailer hooked to a tractor over his legs, as he tried to block him when Israeli forces stopped workers on January 25, 2012 from building a house in al-Dirat village, south of Yatta in the southern Bank town Hebron region. The Israeli forces were seizing the equipment and trailer from the construction workers as the site falls in the occupied zone C in which Israel prevents Palestinians from building on their land. AFP PHOTO / HAZEM BADER".  (thanks AK)

racist justifications in Israel

"Recently, Israel's railway officials attributed the absence of announcements in Arabic to a desire to keep rides as quiet as possible and minimize the nuisance to passengers, inconvenienced enough by Hebrew and English announcements."

The tricks and lies of MEMRI

The lies and tricks of this lousy propaganda outfit have been exposed before.  It goes well beyond lousy and inaccurate translations.  Look at this clip (I normally don't like to this Israeli propaganda shop).  This salute is quite common in Lebanese political rallies (including by Jumblat's Progressive Socialist Party and most famously by the Phalanges).  Yet, this propaganda outfit would not air clip of the Phalanges--the true Nazis in salute and in ideology.  (thanks "Ibn Rushd")


Al-Quds Al-Arabi has at least two articles daily covering protests and turmoil in Jordan and yet Western media barely write anything on Jordan because they subscribe to the myth according to which Jordanian King should be treated like an elected democrat simply because he and his ancestors have been such loyal clients to the West.

The lowest standards for Al-Arabiyyah

This is another low for one of the most unprofessional and politically sleazy channels in the Arab world. Al-Arabiyyah, the news channel of King Fahd's brother-in-law, airs an interview with a Bahraini citizens when he is being held and forced to talk to the correspond of the station by surrounding Bahraini police. (thanks B.)

Michel Sulayman

My weekly article in Al-Akhbar: "Michel Sulayman and Sovereignty".

Exclusive in Al-Akhbar: sexual harassment in Lebanese parliament

Ghassan Saud writes in Al-Akhbar about sexual harassment by Lebanese MPs.  This is a first in the Arabic press.  

Exclusive from Al-Akhbar English: Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

"In November, rumours emerged that Rami Abdulrahman was a pseudonym of SOHR’s founder. Many who doubted SOHR’s credibility cried “smoking gun.” When a professional-looking letter published last week by a rival group, claiming to speak on behalf of SOHR, accused Abdulrahman of falsifying his name and hijacking SOHR’s identity, suspicions turned into certainty.   The politically motivated debate about SOHR clouded a much needed examination of all the facts involved. A closer look at these facts suggests that the pseudonym issue is the least significant element of the controversy. More than anything else, the row between the two rival groups laying claim over SOHR seems to reflect a wider political feud brewing between the two main Syrian opposition camps: the Syrian National Council (SNC) and the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria (NCB), both increasingly at odds with each other over the call for foreign intervention....The moving force behind the rival group (www.syriahr.org) who issued a letter attacking Abdulrahman’s group (www.syriahr.com) is a London-based Syrian exile and medical doctor named Mousab Azzawi.  The smear campaign launched by Azzawi seemed to have undertones of classism.  Abudlrahman was depicted in the letter as someone who is “unable to communicate professionally in English language [sic.],” has a “very modest level of education,” and whose “primary profession is installing satellite dishes” but happened to help out with posting Arabic articles for the Azzawi-led site. Despite these “humble” credentials, Abdulrahman was linked to Rifaat Assad, exiled uncle of Syrian President Bashar Assad and a current dissident widely resented by pro- and anti-regime forces alike. Most damaging in the letter, perhaps, was the revelation of Abdulrahman’s real name – Ossama Suleiman.  But, apart from using a pseudonym, Abdulrahman denied these charges well before the letter surfaced. As far as his name was concerned, Abdulrahman appeared last November on a London-based Arabic satellite channel al-Hiwar showing what he said was his British passport and Syrian ID papers with his real name, Ossama Suleiman, to the cameras. He did so after a critical article on an opposition website had disclosed the name. He also denied any links to Rifaat. Abdulrahman says that as a longtime opposition activist who organized  emonstrations at the Syrian Embassy in London, he has always preferred to use a nom-de-guerre, something he points out is common among political leaders...In a phone interview with Al-Akhbar, Azzawi said he is a consultant pathologist who lectures at two universities, though he preferred not to name them. The General Medical Council (GMC) register shows that although a Mousab Azzawi with an MD from a Syrian university is licensed to practice medicine in the UK as of 2009, he is not on the specialist register. The GMC press office told Al-Akhbar that while the National Health Service (NHS) requires all its consultants to be on the specialist register apart from locum work: “the term ‘consultant’ isn’t in itself protected, and could, hypothetically, be used differently by private providers.” Azzawi said he practiced as a consultant pathologist privately, and did some locum work for the NHS.  While disputing the personal identity and political connections of Abdulrahman, Azzawi himself seems to have offered misleading information about his credentials. While he identifies himself in the English version of the letter as a medical doctor and human rights activist, he signed an earlier Arabic version of the letter as a member of Amnesty International. Amnesty membership is open to anyone, and being a member is a far cry from being an active persona grata in the human rights organization, something most English readers are likely aware of."   Asa did an excellent investigative work here.  

UAE and Human Rights: it is cute when US clients violate them

"Human Rights Watch accused the United Arab Emirates of cracking down on freedom of expression, during a news conference on Wednesday which was disrupted by men who claimed to be UAE officials and demanded the rights group end its presentation."

Bastions of human rights

"The countries have put the issue on the agenda of the next meeting of the organization’s Executive Board, from Feb. 27 to March 10, the diplomats said. They include Qatar, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the Arab League; Kuwait; the United Arab Emirates; Djibouti; Chile; South Korea; Japan; the United States; and European countries including France, Britain, Germany and Austria." Yeah. I mean who can better defend human rights than Qatar and UAE and Kuwait.  They sure offer lessons on human rights and democracy. 

The Muslim Brotherhood practices discrimination against women. No way. Really? How could that be? The Brotherhood of all people?

"As the Muslim Brotherhood strives to project the image of a moderate and democratic political organization, a book featuring the angry account of a former member has hit the market.  "The Memoirs of a Former Sister: My Story with the Muslim Brotherhood" is the testimony of Intissar Abdel Moneim, an Alexandria-based novelist and author. With a compelling style and sharp language, the book takes the reader on a journey exploring the internal politics of the 83-year-old organization, placing special emphasis on discrimination against female members.  Throughout her work, Abdel Moneim decries the sisters’ internalization of oppression as women are socialized in a way that compels them to accept male dominance within the organization — and the household.
Early in the book, Abdel Moneim condemns what could be interpreted as the Brotherhood’s exploitation of the permissibility of polygamy in Islam.  “One of the areas where the Brothers have exploited the idea of blind obedience and submission is polygamy,” she writes, adding that a brother would take second and third wives for no valid reason. “When the [first] wife complains, a session is held for her where other sisters would remind her of the importance of obedience, patience and submission to God’s will and to [the husband]’s will,” she writes.  To understand the roots of the subjugation of women, Abdel Moneim unpacks the writings of Hassan al-Banna, the group’s late founder. Here, the author summons her courage and puts forth a vehement critique of the group’s canonized leader, who is rarely questioned, even by the most vocal ex-brothers.  Banna's teachings sought to limit women to "catering to their husbands' desires and to reproduction," Abdel Moneim writes.   The book dismisses Banna's dictum that there is no need to invest heavily in girls' education and that women should be trained only to serve as housewives and mothers. Abdel Moneim feels that this sentiment is contradictory to true Islam." (thanks Ahmet)

They do the dying AND the killing

""More aggressive robotry development could lead to deploying far fewer U.S. military personnel to other countries, achieving greater national security at a much lower cost and most importantly, greatly reduced casualties," aerospace pioneer Simon Ramo, who helped develop the intercontinental ballistic missile, wrote in his new book, "Let Robots Do the Dying.""

I can see Israel sinking and an Israeli military official saying: this is really is strategically beneficial for Israel

""The changes in Syria bear strategic benefits for Israel," former Military Intelligence Chief and Head of the Institute for National Security Studies Amos Yadlin said Thursday, at a seminar held at Tel Aviv University.  Yadlin said that "For many years defense and political officials recommended that Israel strike a peace deal with Syria, even if it entailed paying a heavy price. The justification was to pull it out of the radical Syria-Iran axis."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Muslim Brotherhood wants to do business

""Over the last few months the Egyptian investment bank EFG-Hermes organized sit-downs between Al-Shater and 14 major investment managers from Europe, the United States and Africa. Al-Shater used the opportunity to reassure investors that the new government shares their goals.  “I believe the meeting dismissed some investors’ concerns about an extreme economic policy,” said Wael Ziada, an official with EFG.  The Brotherhood wants continuity. Al-Shater’s relationship with EFG-Hermes has raised some eyebrows, since the investment bank was partially owned by deposed President Hosni Mubarak’s son Gamal. But the businessmen in the Brotherhood do not seem concerned by this connection, and they are not at all hasty to jettison the Mubaraks’ economic legacy...."" (thanks Nu`man)

NATO regime in Syria

"The moral authority of Libya's new government was called into question by two international aid groups yesterday as confidence begins to falter that the National Transitional Council, backed by Western governments in last year's civil war, can deliver on its promises to deliver freedom and democracy.  Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) brought an abrupt halt to its operations in the Libyan town of Misrata after being asked by officials to treat torture victims, in some cases to allow members of the country's new leadership to abuse the prisoners again.  The move came as Amnesty International said it has collected evidence that Gaddafi supporters had been tortured to death in makeshift detention centres."

Ja`ja` (Ga`ga` in Egyptian accent)

So I mentioned yesterday the lousy statement on Lebanon by the lousy Syrian National Council.  Samir Ja`ja` (Ga`ga` in Egyptian accent) expressed strong support for the statement.  Burhan Ghalyun is now officially an ally of Saudi Arabia and Ja`ja` (Ga`ga` in Egyptian accent).  And you wonder why I would not make peace with the Syrian National Council?

Cowardice of Bashshar

Finally, Syrian media has received orders to start attacking Saudi Arabia.  I can report to you this: the criticisms are rather mild which only proves my theory: that the regime still hopes for a deal under the table.  

When the GCC visits an Uprising: lessons for Arab opposition

Look at the Arab League (GCC) proposal for Syria: it is a typical GCC initiative that seeks to preserve a regime but only change its face.  They did the same in Yemen and wished to do the same in Egypt.  It is a lesson for dumb (or worse) Arab opposition groups who throw their lots with Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries. We now know from British press that the Syrian National Council is now officially receiving Saudi funding.  You expect progressives to support clients of GCC countries and refer to them as revolutionaries?  Are you kidding me?  Does that not vindicate all our suspicions about the lousy outfit known as the Syrian National Council?

Memory lane

One of the students at University of Nottingham tonight, Husayn Khalidi, is the grandson of Walid Khalidi who was my teacher at the American University of Beirut.  I am delighted that Husayn's politics are closer to my politics than to his grandfather's.

PS Husayn: please make Hamzah contact me via email tonight regarding arrangements of travel for tomorrow.  

Flash. Exclusive. The King of Jordan has dignity.

"A Jordanian political activist was sentenced on Thursday to two years in prison for undermining King Abdullah II's dignity, after he set alight a picture of the monarch this month.  "The [military] state security court sentenced Uday Abu Issa, 18, to two years in jail. He has been found guilty of undermining the king's dignity," a judicial official said."

That lousy Wifaq opposition group in Bahrain

The Bahraini people are suffering from oppression, and this lousy group is relying on the services of Ahmad Chalabi:  "Jawad Fairooz, secretary general of Wefaq and a former member of Parliament in Bahrain, acknowledged that there had been contacts with Mr. Chalabi. “Mr Chalabi has helped us with contacts in Washington like other people have done and we thank them,” Mr. Fairooz said. "

Zionist logic about Arab monarchist dictatorships

"Of the possible sources of legitimacy -- such as democracy, religion, monarchic succession, or the creation of great prosperity -- they had none. "  He forgot to add Israel. Their alliance with Israel gives them great legitimacy, right?  (thanks Nabeel)

GCC alliance

"Certain regional pressures may also apply against states wishing to reform, as the US political science professor As'ad AbuKhalil noted. AbuKhalil, who was invited to meet the emir of Qatar, subsequently wrotethat the latter informed him that political advances in one Gulf state couldn't exceed political advances in another. Today, Bahrain's parliament is almost devoid of opposition voices after the main opposition party decided to boycott post-crackdown elections, bringing the once-vibrant parliament in line with its Gulf peers." (thanks Sultan)

Dumb and Dumber

grand mufti al-sheikh


It was explained to me that the reason why University of Leeds required security is that I was considered a "controversial speaker".  What is controversial about me, damn it? 

Women wearing Hijabs

You notice it. Women wearing Hijabs in the UK walk much more confidently than women wearing Hijabs in the US.  

The Lebanese Upper class: a reason for having a bloody revolution in Lebanon

Tell that bar owner: your idea of fun, is so disgusting like all your ideas of fun.  "A bar in the neighborhood of Gemmayzeh has canceled an event, originally scheduled for this Friday, which invited guests to dress up as migrant domestic workers for the chance to win $100.  Event details encouraged bar-goers to, “this Friday night, be Sinkara or Milenga ... be Soumatra or Domma ... create your own maid costume, speak like them and look like a Philippino [sic], Bengladish [sic], Sri Lanka [sic] or any maid you want and definitely win 100 U.S. dollars in cash.”  The details of the event were originally posted late Tuesday evening on the bar’s Facebook group. A Lebanese organization, the Anti-Racism Movement, then reposted the event on its blog, which soon drew much online criticism. The owner of the bar then removed all details of the event.  Speaking to The Daily Star Wednesday, the owner denied that the event was in any way racist. “You just put on a costume, it was supposed to be for fun. Some people misunderstood it and thought it was racist.” (thanks Raed)

The US/Israeli conspiracy

Comrade Bassam Haddad is right: it is not a conspiracy anymore because it is out in the open.  But just notice: the comprehensive systems of sanctions and isolation being simultaneously imposed on Syria and Iran.  I mean, are there fools out there who really believe that US motives are about democracy and respect for the Syrian and Iranian populations?  There is a whole plot out there by US/Israel and some fools even think that the plot is about their "liberation."  

Lousy Syrian National Council

The lousy Syrian National Council issued a silly proclamation to the Lebanese people. In it, it said not one word about the abuse of Syrian workers in Lebanon.  Who wrote this silly piece? Propagandists of Mini-Hariri? It has their tone and language.  

The spoiled brats of Arab rulers

So the son of the Mauritanian president shot his Moroccan girlfriend. 

Plagiarism on Al-Manar TV

Al-Manar had to admit that it aired and published plagiarized reports on CIA operations in Lebanon.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Press freedoms around the world

Something is wrong with some of the ranking: when it comes to the Middle East, you can always expect major screw ups. I mean, who can agree with them that press "freedoms" in Saudi Arabia are better than in Egypt? Even under Mubarak, for potato's sake.  Were those who did the classification smoking something illegal?  And was the chart brought to you by Saudi Airlines?

PS US ranked 47.  

Greenwald on American injustice

"The Rules of American Justice are quite clear:
(1) If you are a high-ranking government official who commits war crimes, you will receive full-scale immunity, both civil and criminal, and will have the American President demand that all citizens Look Forward, Not Backward.
(2) If you are a low-ranking member of the military, you will receiverelatively trivial punishments in order to protect higher-ranking officials and cast the appearance of accountability.
(3) If you are a victim of American war crimes, you are a non-person with no legal rights or even any entitlement to see the inside of a courtroom.
(4) If you talk publicly about any of these war crimes, you have committed the Gravest Crime — you are guilty of espionage – and will have the full weight of the American criminal justice system come crashing down upon you." (thanks Robert)

Armed gangs of the Syrian National Council

In condemning violence in Syria, the report of the Arab League monitors make it clear: that there are Shabbihah (armed thugs) belonging to the regime and to the Syrian National Council, under different names.  Of course, primary responsibility of the violence falls on the regime itself because it has the primary legal responsibility to protect citizens--from itself or from others.  

Salutations to my comrades at the University of Edinburgh

"After public pressure from students and campaigners The University of Edinburgh has decided to end a proposed a deal with Bahrain’s Ministry of Education.  The deal was announced by The Bahrain News Agency at the beginning of January but The University of Edinburgh came under immediate pressure for going into partnership with an oppressive Government." (thanks Fawzi)

Adelson and Gingrich

"He's a Zionist/neocon/right-wing Israel hawk. Much of Adelson's political activity is devoted to boosting the right-wing Israeli line, both in Israel and the U.S. He donated a posh new headquarters to AIPAC, the Israel lobby in Washington, though he reportedly feuded with the organization over activities he saw as unduly pro-Palestinian. He has given $25 million to Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust memorial organization, and $100 million to Birthright, the organization that takes young American Jews on free trips to Israel to bolster their loyalty to the Jewish state. Adelson opposes a two-state solution or any accommodation of Palestinians. When Gingrich recently stirred controversy by referring to the Palestinians as "an invented people," Adelson praised the remark to a Birthright group, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. In Israel, Adelson started a free daily newspaper known for its relentless drumbeat of support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other right-wing politicians. The paper, Israel Hayom, has been called "the Fox News of Israel." Adelson's millions of dollars in contributions have purchased access to the highest reaches of the GOP -- during the Bush administration, for example, he hosted both President Bush and Vice President Cheney in his home -- and he has used it principally to push for a hard line on Israel." (thanks Basim)

The new Speaker of the Egyptian parliament responds to the speaker of the Israeli occupation Knesset

The new Egyptian speaker wrote this on Twitter:

د/ محمد سعد الكتاتنى (@SaadElKatatny)
1/25/12 10:37 PM
رفضت اليوم تسلم خطاب تهنئة أرسل إلى من "رؤوفين ريفلين" رئيس الكنيست الإسرائيلى يدعونى لزيارة الكيان الصهيونى "إسرائيل"وإلقاء خطبة فى الكنيست
(Today, I refused to receive a letter of congratulation from the speaker of the Israeli knesset, 
Reuven Rivlin, in which she asked me to visit the Zionist entity and to deliver a speech in the Knesset.) (thanks Farah)

Bhutto cult

So the Bhutto cult is now full-fledged, like the Hariri cult in Lebanon.  The Bhuttos wanted a special tribunal for the assassination but the US said no: it did not serve the interests of Israel. (thanks Sultan)

Court of the occupation

This is hilarious:  "Israel’s Supreme Court is the body that provides checks and balances to the country’s executive and legislative powers, upholding constitutional standards. Over the years the court has gained a reputation as one of the most judicially active, human rights-oriented courts in the world."  "Gained a reputation" where? In Zionist circles?  (thanks "Ibn Rushd")

Bob Bashshar Al-Asad

Hafidh Al-Asad junior must be furious with his parents.  His name is now so uncool and will for sure want to change it soon.  I won't be surprised if Hafidh Al-Asad henceforth is known as Bob Al-Asad--anything to distract attention from the legacy of the name.  

Syrian regime and Saudi Arabia

Today, Al-Watan and Tishrin carried criticisms (rather mild) of Saudi Arabia.  This is a first, if my memory serves me correctly.  But it is still very little for a situation when the Syrian regime blames all of its problems on a conspiracy that we all know is led by Saudi Arabia.  The reason remains the same: the Asad regime still hopes for a last minute deal (under the table) with the House of Saud.  Typical.

Syrian National Council

Syrian National Council (just like the NATO transitional council in Libya) were too transparent about their service to GCC-US agendas before they even had the chance to get to power.  In other words, in both cases, we did not have to wait for them to get to power to criticize them and to call for their overthrow.  They created the conditions and justifications for their overthrow already.   Down with the Ba`thist regime in Syria and down with a potential regime run by the Syrian National Council.  My favorite part is this: the Syrian National Council fully adhere to the Syrian Asad regime's policies on the Golan: which has accomplished zero liberation of the territory.  

analogy with Israel

I reject any analogy between whatever the repressive Arab governments do against their own population with Israeli war crimes.  What is the purpose of the comparison or the creation of an artificial scale of repression? It is irrelevant and invoking only aims at preparing the stage for normalization with Israel--to imply that just as Arab governments kill their own people, so does Israel.  Analogy of this sort is rather sinister and should be seen as such.  Israeli crimes against Palestinians and Arabs are unrelated to what Arab governments do: they are only related in that the US and Western governments helped set up oppressive rule in the region to preserve Israeli interests.  This reminds me when the spoiled brats of Sabbah royal family in Kuwait dared to compare the occupation of Kuwait by Saddam's forces (lasting for a few months) to the plight of the Palestinians (of course, the Kuwaiti princes waited out the occupation in the fancy brothels of Europe.  Arab regimes crimes can end with the overthrow of the regime, while the crimes of Israel don't end unless we achieve the dismantlement of Zionism in Palestine and the accomplishment of the demise of Israel. But enough of those analogies for potato's sake.  

Qasim Sulaymani

So Al-Arabiyyah (the news station of King Fahd's brother-in-law), invented a statement by the commander of the Quds Brigade of the Revolutionary Guards, Qasim Sulaymani.  Within a day after the station invented the statement, there were several denials.  Yet, Saudi and Hariri media are full of denunciations of the Sulaymani's invented statements.  So Saudi media invent a story, and then asks Saudi propagandists and tools to respond.  Welcome to the age of Saudi media.   Even the new lousy Aljazeera Arabic does not stoop to this level.