Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Proxy war in Syria

The nature of the conflict in Syria now is very clear, from an IR point of view. It is a proxy war, pure and simple: or pure and complicated.

The Berri clan in Syria

The Berri clan in Syria is unrelated to the Birris of South Lebanon.  They are Sunnis although some sectarian Syrian opposition sites and Saudi sites are referring to them as Shi`ites.  I asked a keen observer of the Syrian situation to explain to me the recent controversy.  He wrote:

"Berri is a large clan of tens of thousands. Many of its elders are staunch regime supporters. They are also the equivalent of the Hermel families living in Dahiyeh: they include many poor who are associated with crime and drugs and thuggery. Many of them are in Syrian prisons or wanted by the law. Their elders (they include an MP) were known for attacking demonstrations in their areas and beating protesters, as well as recruiting and financing thugs. But these are, of course, a small section of a very large family.

The immediate cause of the execution is unclear, what we know is that the FSA attacked the Madafa of the Berri family where a head of the family was present, he was taken along with the rest and shot.

The FSA says that it was the result of the Berris reneging on an alleged agreement to remain neutral in exchange for not being targeted. The FSA claims that the Berris reneged and arranged attacks against them, costing them many soldiers yesterday.

Do not quote me if you post."

Bander has NOT been assassinated

I beg you. Stop sending me links and emails to tell me about the assassination of Bandar. The story started with a website funded by the Syrian regime.  The Syrian regime propaganda also fabricated a story that Shaykh `Ar`ur was kidnapped.  If I want to expose the lies of both sides on Syria, I would not have time to eat, read, or swim.

This guy wants to kill

Amer sent me this:  "
"On the language and tone of the Syrian activists nowadays (this is from a discussion among 'moderates'):
Aksam Barakat أنا اللذي لا استطيع ان انظر. الى نقطة دم ! سوف اقتل من قتل او ساعد او او دفع لقتل ابناء وطني و ساقتله بيدي هاتين من غير سلاح ، و ساغرز أصابعي بقلبه و انتزع كبده و أكله هذه هي عقوبة من يتعدى على انسان وطني ، و من يفكر بغير ذلك هو خائن للثورة
3 minutes ago via mobile · "
It Says: (I, who can't look at a drop of blood!  I will kill whoever killed or helped in killing or pushed for killing the sons of my homeland , I will kill with my own hands without weapons, and I will stick my fingers in his heart and remove his liver and eat it.  This is the punishment against whoever transgresses against a patriotic person, and whoever thinks otherwise is a traitor of the revolution).

What will be left of Syria?

What will be left of Syria?

Maura Connelly, the US ambassador in Lebanon, is a fan of homophobia

Please write to US ambassador in Lebanon and express your outrage at her endorsement of homephobia and racism.  Connelly is known as a staunch supporter of MTV station in Beirut and she is unusually paid a special visit to the station to demonstrate her support.  MTV is known as a right-wing racist station and has recently been vomiting hate and incitement against gays in Lebanon.

women and children first?

"According to a recent study by two Swedish economists, that brand of gallantry is not only dead, it was buried at sea long ago.  Keen to test humanity's capacity for selflessness in times of scarcity and duress, the students of the "dismal science" reviewed survival data for some of history's worst shipwrecks.  What they found was that women and children were only half as likely as crew members and captains to survive maritime disasters.  Instead of "women and children first" and "the captain must go down with the ship," the rallying cry seemed to be "every man for himself," the authors wrote."

The best insight from Paul Wolfowitz: Syria is NOT Iraq. Repeat. Syria is NOT Iraq, news to the contrary notwithstanding. He added that Tartus is not Honolulu

"I think Iraq and Syria are almost completely different situations,” said Wolfowitz in response to a question about the mistakes from Iraq’s post-war period." (thanks Laure)

New York Times correspondents and Arabic

When New York Times lists Arabic as one of the languages of its correspondents, it only means that this person has taken either a semester or two of Arabic.  My understanding is that now the "best" Arabic learner of the Times is someone who took one year of Arabic.  So that person may be able to order a Falafil sandwich in Arabic, but not more.

racist attacks in Israel

"An attacker stabbed three Eritrean men in a southern Tel Aviv video store on Tuesday in what police said they were initially treating as a racist attack.  "All three people that were stabbed were taken to hospital with light to moderate injuries," police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told AFP." (thanks Sultan)

The strange case of Mahdi Al-Harati and his struggle in Libya and Syria

Yesterday, the New York Times had this passage:  "Not all foreign fighters are jihadists, either. One Libyan-Irish fighter, Mahdi al-Harati, who helped lead the battle for Tripoli, Libya, organized a group of volunteers for Syria, noted Thomas Pierret, a lecturer in contemporary Syrian Islam at the University of Edinburgh. “He is not a jihadi; he sees himself as a Libyan revolutionary there to help the Syrian revolution,” Mr. Pierret said."  I posted this passage and commented on it.  But who is this Mahdi Al-Harati who--we are told by Mr. Pierret--is not a Jihadi and what is he doing in Syria.  Well, I received some information from a source who does not want to be identified at all:

"You criticise the fact that the writer says that "Not all foreign fighters are jihadists” you are right to do so but he may be hinting toward the fact that some are directly US / NATO sponsored and wants to make a distinction but is unable to say it clearly!  This guy, Mahdi al-Harati, is...! He masqueraded as a pro Palestinian activist and was on board the Mavi Marmara (the Gaza flotilla attack 2010)...It was these early boat journeys that were the impetuous for the larger flotillas that occurred later but were stopped from reaching their destination. While I am not so naive as to think that that these journeys were not susceptible to being penetrated by agents working for Israel /US it really does grate on me that a person... I believe at the time of the Mavi Marmara this guy may...  

With reference to your story about Libyan-Irish fighter, Mahdi al-Harati you must read this article from an Irish newspaper from 2011. The paper is a “tabloid” but in Ireland this paper is noted for its good reporting on Irish crime issues. I picked out the most relevant passage from the story


“A GANG of Irish traveller thieves are in the middle of a holy war - after liberating €200,000 cash destined for Libyan rebels ............Astonished officers made contact with Mahdi al-Harati who told them that he had travelled to France, the United States and Qatar the previous month and that representatives of an American intelligence agency had given him a significant amount of money to help in the efforts to defeat Gaddafi.”

Further to this here is a recent story 28/ 07/ 2012 from last week which comes from an Irish “broadsheet” The Irish Times
Syrian minds focused on likely outcome at Aleppo
“Another local man, who gives his name as Abu Mahmoud, is part of a brigade established about three months ago and led by a Libyan-born naturalised Irish citizen Mehdi al-Harati..........Mehdi al-Harati’s brigade, known as Liwa al-Umma (Banner of the Nation), is separate to the FSA and its units are scattered throughout the country............ Liwa al-Umma is made up of more than 6,000 men, 90 per cent of whom are Syrian. The rest are mostly Libyans and other Arabs, including several who live in Ireland.”

Glossary of terms used in the first story you may not understand:
Travellers (An indigenous Irish group equivalent to Bedouins in the Middle East)
“hot press” (the cupboard / storage area usually with some shelving where the water tank is located which provides hot water for the house, it’s the warmest and driest place in an Irish home, Ireland is a damp country LOL)
“Garda” & “Gardai” (Irish language official name for Irish Police Service and police officers)".

a new military government for Syria

"But Western diplomats are taking the council less seriously, since it lacks credibility in Syria, and are shifting their focus to the FSA and internal groups."  The FSA now wants half of the new government to be from military ranks.

The Economist on Syria

The Economist on Syria is indistinguishable from all other Western media.  Its reporter in Beirut gets all her clues and contacts from the Hariri press office.  She uses language of the Free Syrian Army in her articles:  "the rebels having tactically slipped away".  Tactically slipped away?  That is the language of the Free Syrian Army: they never get kicked out from an area without using such language.  What does tactically slipped away mean? That they tactically could stay but chose instead to tactically slip away? This is like the military communiques of the ruling party in Syria vis-a-vis its humiliating defeats in the wars with Israel.

Al-Qa`idah reporter to the rescue

Syria must be a big story for Aljazeera.  It recalled its Al-Qa`idah sympathizer reporter, Ahmad Zaydan, from Pakistan to cover Aleppo.

Top Syria diplomat defect

Yesterday, I went to the Washington Post World section.  I was greeted with a big headline: "Top Syria diplomat defects."  I kid you not.  I immediately thought that this must be the foreign minister, as the headline implied.  I clicked on the headline to find that it was about the defection of the charger d'affaires. 

Barry Obama seeks the advice of top Iran expert

"Several months ago, President Obama invited me to the Oval Office to discuss his Iran strategy."  So we now know that Barry Obama really seeks the opinion of top Iran scholars like this guy.  Good to know.

Egyptian presidency

According to Egyptian presidency, the stories in the Israeli press about exchanges of letters between Mursi and Peres are fabricated.

Al-Arabiyyah on Lebanese hostages in Syria

Yesterday, Al-Arabiyyah interviewed the Free Syrian Army hostage taker, Abu Ibrahim.  He told her that the Lebanese hostages are "guests".  The lousy anchor told him: oh, that means they are in good conditions?  So hostages are not hostages if they are "well-treated"?  Can you imagine how famous those hostages would be if they are held by goons of the regime?  Can you imagine if they were Western hostages? 

Monday, July 30, 2012


I am not making this up.  John Bolton has found Iraqi WMDs in...Syria and wants the US to move to secure them. (thanks Laure)

Activists on Skype

Of course, the word "activist" in Syria has no meaning anymore. There is an armed conflict.  Activists have either been killed by the regime, or imprisoned, or they have been marginalized by the armed conflict.  And when Western media refer to "an activist" reached via Skype, they are under obligation to tell readers how this contact was reached. They should tell readers that in all cases the names and contacts have been provided by the exile opposition and that their account is understandably the official exile opposition account.  It is not that MacFarquhar and his colleagues are dialing people at random using the Idlib Phone Book.  WHo are you kidding really?

Propaganda in the New York Times

"A broad fatwa issued via Ahrar al-Sham against all Alawites was so widely condemned by other fighters that it was later diluted to focus on government figures". Of course, MacFarquhar like almost Western reporters who write on Syria, believes whatever he is told by his opposition contacts.  Nothing is ever questioned.  Look at the silly remark above.  I mean, what does he expect "Rami" to tell him?  That yes, we are very sectarian and we hate `Alawites and we cheer when we kill Alawites qua Alawites?  If MacFarquhar knows any Arabic he would have surfed the Arabic Syrian opposition groups on FB and seen for himself the blatant anti-`Alawite bigotry.  Who are you kidding (outside of the ill-informed Western readership, that is).

Here, the New York Times tell you that Al-Qa`idah in Syria is more moderate, unlike Al-Qa`idah in Iraq

It is getting comical in this piece by Neil MacFarquhar:  "Abu al-Khatab, in his late 20s, said he was a former fighter for Al Qaeda in Iraq before he joined Ahrar al-Sham. “I agree with Al Qaeda on certain things and disagree on others,” he said. “Suicide bombings should only be against the security forces, not civilians, for example.”"  So let me get this straight: Al-Qa`idah is good if it fights against enemies of the US, and it is bad if it fights against US and its clients in the region? Is that the real criterion here?  With Neil MacFarquhar, I expect to read this one day: Abu Al-Khattab, although active in Al-Qa`idah, is a secular feminist who enjoys his single-malt whiskey.  (Comrade Joseph once explained to me what single-malt whiskey is but I don't remember). 

Why Syria is heading towards a vicious civil war, like Lebanon

I said this on Facebook the other day: that one of the ways I can predict that Syria is heading towards civil war is the way young Syrians fight and clash on FB (including on my wall).  It is very much like the vicious fights among Lebanese.  All that is missing from Western media because they really are under the impression that there is no one who support Bashshar in Syria except `Alawites.  The situation is far more complicated--to the benefit and survival--thus far--of the regime.

Mr. `Ar`ur

By the way, I could be mistaken--I never am, of course--but is this the first time that `Ar`ur has been mentioned in the New York Times?  This is a highly influential fanatic nut in the Syrian uprising and now he makes a passing appearance?  "Ahrar al-Sham in particular enjoys the support of Sheik Adnan al-Arour, a Sunni Muslim media star in exile, who blasts Shiites and Alawites on his television show and on what appears to be his authentic Twitter account. “We buy weapons from the donations and savings of the Wahhabi children,” said one recent Twitter posting, referring to the Islamic sect prominent in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, “and not from the Americans like the Shiites of Iraq did."  And why not mention that he is hosted by a TV station owned by Prince `Abdul-`Aziz bin Fahd?

NATO secularism

"Some Syrians who seek a more secular revolution blame the lack of Western support for driving the rebellion into the arms of the extremists".  So if only NATO would bomb Syria there would be more secularism as in the Islamist state of new Libya?  Where do you get those people?

Lincoln Brigade in Syria? I would have released the pigs from barn, if this is true

"Not all foreign fighters are jihadists, either. One Libyan-Irish fighter, Mahdi al-Harati, who helped lead the battle for Tripoli, Libya, organized a group of volunteers for Syria, noted Thomas Pierret, a lecturer in contemporary Syrian Islam at the University of Edinburgh. “He is not a jihadi; he sees himself as a Libyan revolutionary there to help the Syrian revolution,” Mr. Pierret said."  Wait. This is new. So like the Lincoln Brigade, there are progressive Arab fighters among the foreign fighters?  This is the biggest joke of the day.  As for the confirmation by Mr. Pierret: Well, Pierret and I clash on an academic list regularly and I am not unfair to him if I say that he never ever finds any fault with the Free Syrian Army and I characterize his position as one of a cheerleader.  So please, Mr. MacFarquhar. Try something else in your effort to peddle the agenda of the FSA. Thanks.


"What began as a largely peaceful, secular protest movement in March 2011".  This sentence is of course false on more than one count.  The Syrian people did protest spontaneously against the repressive regime and NOT at the behest of BHI as stupid Syrian regime media keep saying these days.  But there were various trends at play. There were peaceful trend and there were armed trends and from the very beginning.  The notion that only after months of repression, suddenly arms appeared is just not sensical.  Furthermore, the Syrian regime seems to have repressed far more ruthlessly those secular and leftist elements in the uprising early on: they put away any member of the Communist Action Party that they could find just as they shot Husayn `Uwaydat (a promising leftist organizer/cadre).  Also, even in the beginning: it is not that it was a secular movement and then suddenly it became religious and Salafi out of the blue. The trends (religious and secular) co-existed before the religious-Salafi trend totally overwhelmed other trends on the ground.  Syria is not a monolith.  I once gave a paper on Leftist Trends in the Syrian Opposition in a graduate course on Syrian Politics and Society at Georgetown University taught by the great late Hanna Batatu.  After I finished, Batatu looked at me and said: but you talked as if the Syrian people act as one people.  He then asked me: when did the Syrians act in one voice in all cities and towns in the contemporary history of Syria?  I fumbled.

Irony of the US

Don't you like it when you hear right-wing Christian fundamentalist nuts in the US, like George W. Bush, complain about the lack of Arab secular progressives? 

Peter Harling

"“You have secular people and very moderate Islamists who join Salafi groups because they have the weapons and the money. There tends to be more Salafi guys in the way the groups portray themselves than in the groups on the ground.”"  I mean, if those Western analysts who serve as cheerleaders for the Free Syrian Army see Bin Laden himself fighting with the Free Syrian Army, they will find a way to dismiss his role.  They would say: that may look like Bin Laden, but it is his brother, Bob Bin Laden, and he is very secular and progressive.  So according to Mr. Harling, it does not matter how many Salafis are there because among those Salafis there are communists and anarchists and femnists fighting among them but they do that only because they have more weapons.  Thanks Mr. Harling. I feel now I understand the situation better. 

The Prophet's Flag? or Al-Qa`idah's?

"The groups demanded to raise the prophet’s banner — solid black with “There is no god but God.”"  Somebody needs to tell the New York Times that what it calls the "prophet"s banner" is none other than the flag of Al-Qa`idah.  What an informed paper.

Tell me more about the selection process

"United States intelligence officials have helped select the recipients, according to American officials."  I mean, really.  Not one paper has mocked this standard reference to the role of US intelligence agencies.  But did the CIA not play the same role in Pakistan during the war on the Soviets in Afghanistan?  (Oh, Bin Laden was deemed to be OK by the CIA, by the way).  So now, they stand at the border and they meet people?  So somebody comes an the CIA hand asks: who are you? The man answers: Abu Mahmud.  CIA man asks: Are you good guys or bad guys?  Abu Mahmud: good guys, naturlich. 

How to read the New York Times

When I read the long articles in the New York Times these days, I realize that you have to basically look for one sentence that basically is the most important one in the whole article. The sentence is usually standing by itself and in passing.  Like this one today:  "The conflict in Syria has increasingly drawn in foreign powers."  Notice that those sentences stand alone and are not part of a paragraph.

Syria: Shameful Performance of Western Media

My latest blog post for Al-Akhbar English on the shameful performance of Western media toward the Syrian conflict.

Commander-in-chief of the Lebanese Army

"Kahwagi also said the Lebanese Army would continue to confront Israel until the liberation of the occupied Shebaa Farms, Kfar Shouba and Northern part of the village of Ghajar.“Confrontation will continue with this enemy to foil its criminal plans and until the liberation of the last grain of sand of our occupied land in Shebaa Farms, Kfar Shouba Hills and the Northern part of Ghajar,” he said.
The Army commander also vowed to face up to Israel “with all the powers available” in the event the Jewish state threatened border villages “under the pretext of the presence of gunmen here or there.”
He said the Army would "stand by the people" in their resistance to block Israeli ambitions in Lebanon’s natural wealth – be it within its territorial waters or the exclusive economic zone."   Is that why the defense of Lebanon in 2006 was left in the hands of volunteers while the Lebanese Army napped?  (thanks Basim)

On Asalah

Angry Arab correspondent on Bahrain sent me this about Syrian singer, Asalah (see post from yesterday):
"About Asala - The woman has Bahraini citizenship. The question is why. As far as I know, she hasn't lived in Bahrain. According to Bahrain's (unfair) citizenship law, if you are arab you have to have been living in Bahrain for 10 years to be eligible to apply for citzenship. But the law isn't applied and Bahraini citizenship is given out left and right to people who don't reside in Bahrain. These people are from tribes related to the royal family, friends of the royal family, mercenaries hired from areas known to be hostile to shia, etc. Meanwhile, husbands of bahraini women and their children are not eligible for citizenship. There are also ppl who have been living in Bahrain for decades who haven't gotten citizenship. At least one Bahraini family has had their citizenship taken away from them. Also Bahrainis of persian origin who have been living in Bahrain for 100+ years have only recently received citizenship.

Unless Asala is married to a bahraini, or has lived in bahrain for more than 10 years, then she must have friends in high places to have gotten citizenship. So her worship of the bahraini King isn't surprising. Her hypocrisy is disgusting though".

`Umar Sulayman

On the mysterious (?) death of `Umar Sulayman.  (thanks Yusuf)

Thierry Meyssan: in Tishrin

Do you know that Meyssan writes a regular column for Tishrin newspaper?  Munaf Tlas must have recruited him for the job.  He was a specialist in cultivating ties with conspiracy nuts and right-wingers in France.

The prince has analyzed

"Saudi Interior Minister Prince Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz on Monday described prominent Shiite cleric Nimr Nimr, detained in the kingdom's Eastern Province, as mentally ill.  "Nimr Nimr is someone who stirs sedition... The way he speaks reflects a mental deficiency and imbalance," Prince Ahmed said at a press conference, according to a report by state news agency SPA."

Some information on Naji `Allush

The write knew him from the Fath movement.

MTV (the station that is facored by US embassy in Lebanon) is responsible for the homophoebia campaign in Lebanon

This is the only TV station in Lebanon that received an official visit from the US ambassador in Lebanon to show support for its editorial policy.  "MTV’s report was written in a highly inflammatory language designed to stir up anti-gay feelings.  It called the men 'shozoz', a highly derogatory term in Arabic roughly translated to ‘perverts’ in English, and alleged the cinema was a ‘safe haven’ for prostitution and debauchery."  (Shuzuz is deviance in English).

Syria: the sinister word

"Ibn Rushd" sent me this:  "From the gal who wrote the infamous glowing profile of Asma El Assad in Vogue :
"Syria. The name itself sounded sinister, like syringe, or hiss."

Saeb Erekat: the official PA's chief buffoon

The buffoon has spoken yet again:  "I have not heard any Israeli official speak about cultural superiority."  No, you have.   But you are too stupid to notice.  You are someone who would not notice an Israeli insult even if it hit you on the face--with a shoe.  An adviser to Arafat told me once that Israelis often mocked and ridiculed Erekat to his face during negotiations but that he would not even notice. 

An Israeli political scientist explains why Israel loves Romney

"He is very suspicious of the Arab world."

ِA report on the Syrian opposition

"whenever we asked, "If Israel offered weapons or help, would you take it?" the answer was almost always, "definitely"!"  I should mention that the Zionist writer of this report knows Arabic (he appeared with me once on Aljazeera and spoke Arabic).  I say that because I know someone will write to me and say that there was a misunderstanding or that the question was not clear.  Go play in the garden.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

This is not the first pro-Western JIHAD

Laure sent me this:  "It seems the Antakya area is becoming a magnet for foreign jihadis, who are flocking into Turkey to fight a holy war in Syria. One Turkish truck driver said he passed through the Bab al-Hawa border post on Wednesday night and spotted four foreign fighters with guns and rough Arabic accents, leading him to believe they were Pakistani, Afghan or possibly Chechen."

Greatest Achievement for the Free Syian Army

Akram, the Angry Arab correspondent in Syria, sent me this:
"GOD IS GREAT!!!! The Free Syrian Army has achieved a strategic victory when a Japanese journalist who covers its activities converted to Islam "on the hands of Mamdouh Jolha Battalion activating in Al-Turkman Mountain" (Arabic)."

Tlas family and the French far right

""Tout général qu’il était, Manaf Tlass s’occupait en particulier de cet étrange attelage autour du Réseau Voltaire de Thierry Meyssan ainsi financé par Damas, et du site InfoSyrie.fr, « agence de réinformation » créée l’an dernier par Frédéric Chatillon, un ancien dirigeant du GUD d’extrême droite, le « prestataire de service » de la dernière campagne de Marine Le Pen.""

Syrian flag and bigotry toward Alawites

Murad sent me this: 
I would like to point out 2 things:

1) For Akram from Syria, he (and other readers) should be reminded that the so-called "independence flag" was actually adopted in the 1930's, well before independence. Syrian state TV is actually more correct when it describes it as the "French occupation flag", because that is what it really is. Also, the current flag of Syria is not the Baathist flag. It is the United Arab Republic flag. Just a fundamental history lesson.

2) This is old, but it related to your series about bigotry against Alawites. I am sure you heard of Joshua Landis, who is supposed to be a really good "Syria expert" and someone who I used to respect. Here is what he said after the Syrian Army uprooted the terrorists from Midan in Damascus (he has an unfinished sentence in there, but the point should still be understandable):

The Midan is a downtown Damascus neighborhood that FSA had taken under its control on Thursday. Government troops now claim that they have The soldiers we made this video seem to all be Alawites based on their accents. Those that speak all pronounce the “qaff” in the manner of the coast. They stick out in the Midan, the heart of Sunni middle-class and religiously conservative, old Damascus. Older Damascenes used to speak of the Alawites who came to Damascus with the Baathist takeover in the 1960s as “muwaffidiin” or alien interlopers. Today, they undoubtedly seem more alien than ever

This is a renowned "Syria expert"! Since he announced he has a book on the way over the subject, he has been becoming more and more bigoted and narrow-minded.

Use the above as desired."

Mishel Kilu

In his article in the mouthpiece of Prince Salman and his sons, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat, Mishale Kilu promises in his first point of his program to "guarantee" the tranquility of the border "with the Zionist enemy".  So Kilu promises to basically follow the Ba`thist policies.  (thanks "Ibn Rushd")

Syrian singer Asalah

I am a big fan of Syrian singer Asalah.  I was never bothered by her stance against the Syrian regime in the last year (only).  But her statement here undermines her credibility entirely: she says that she supports Gulf regimes.  Enough said.  (thanks Nu`man)

Deceptions and lies of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood

Syrian opposition figure, Michel Kilu, writes about the deception of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

PS I have never been a fan of Kilu, mind you.  He writes as a right-winger in Prince Salman's mouthpiece, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat, and writes as a progressive in As-Safir.

The lies of Najib Sawiris

Here is an account of the convenient political transformation of Najib Sawiris.  (thanks Yusuf)

Arabs are posting this picture all day on FB

I don't know what "heat" means here and Israeli Air Force bombs well beyond Palestine. 

Zionists for military intervention in Syria...

on Aljazeera English website.  Not surprising, of course.  (thanks Christian)

BHL and Syria

One of the most offensive and repugnant elements of Syrian regime media is the notion that BHL or another Zionist is orchestrating the Arab uprising.  This stupid notion insults all those brave and independent Arabs who defied the oppressive regimes to protest against tyranny.   Some of the most stupid utterances about international relations I hear and read from Lebanese pro-Syrian regime types.

terrorists and freedom fighters

When Islamist fighters infiltrated into US-occupied Iraq, they were consistently referred to as "terrorists" in the Western press.  But when Islamist fighters (often the same people) infiltrate into Syria, they are referred to as revolutionaries.  And you wonder why it is not easy to take seriously Western media. 

Bahrain sent its royal reformers to UK

"A DRUNK Arab prince was threatened with 50,000-volt Tasers by gun cops after trying to storm the flight deck of a British Airways jet. The billionaire, 28 — who was sozzled by 10am — had jumped up from his 2,700 pounds [$4200] First Class seat to complain to the captain about "poor" service before the Boeing 777 took off from Heathrow to Bahrain. Crew members called armed cops, who pointed stun guns at the prince after he refused to calm down.  The royal — said to be a close relative of Bahrain's King Hamed bin Isa Al Khalifa — was hauled off Flight BA125 and taken to the West London airport's police station. The prince had his DNA, mugshot and fingerprints taken before being released on bail.  A passenger said: "We were terrified when the armed police came on and started pointing Tasers at him." A BA spokesman confirmed a customer "was off-loaded from the London to Bahrain service" and appeared to be "intoxicated". Scotland Yard said a man was arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly."

Western Media Coverage of the Syria war

I really believe that someone should write a book about Western media coverage of Syria in the last year.  I wish I have the time to write it but I don't. But if someone is interested, I have ideas.  This is one of the lowest moments of Western journalism since I stepped foot on US soil in 1983.

Syrian "revolutionaries" post a threat to an American journalist

I heard from a well-known American journalist who sent me a an official FB page containing threats against him by Syrian "revolutionaries".  He does not want to be named for fear of jeopardizing his work in Syria. 

Israeli ignorance

David sent me this:  "
This is David again; I saw this headline (originally reported by Reuters) in Haaretz which irked me to no end:
"Iranian-Hindi shipping firm faces collapse due to sanctions"

I am of Indian origin (albeit I don't really identify myself with this non-state; there are several states within India which expressed a desire to secede as you probably know), but to state that a country or its residents is "Hindi"???  This reminds me of my American friends who sometimes mistake the Hindi language for This is not a typo and when an Israeli news agency mis-labels a sovereign state as one of the many languages spoken in India it reflects a very deep and real ignorance that Israelis have of the world.  But, then again, this is nothing new within the Zionist entity; if one can deny the existence of Palestinians, once can definitely change the name of a country.

The name of the shipping company is 'Irano-Hind'; I guess they put two and two together and arrived at eight.  Good E'en."

Saudi censorship of a cross

A reader sent me this:  "Hi As'ad, thought you'd find this interesting. I recently watched an interview with Madonna that MBC recently aired in which they blurred her necklace. Below is the interview without the blurring, revealing what mbc found to be so offensive: a cross.  Perhaps it was Ramadan sensitivity".

US recipe for Syria

Bob sent me this:  "As you said, the US does not want to change the regime. They only want to get rid a hated non-compliant dictator while keeping compliant dictators. So what's the solution? keeping the Baath, Mukhabarat and the regime intact and do away with Bashar."

Dinars in Syria

A source sent me this:  "Dinars in Syria? Are they really this clueless? and he has been reporting from there for a while (very propagandistic by the way, imagine that you were tasked with writing a propaganda piece for the FSA, would you have come up with anything more than this?)

 "They Shabiha don't want the regime. They don't want the revolution either. They simply want to destroy the country," he said candidly, sitting in an FSA cell. He said a colonel from airforce intelligence, Abdul Latif, had recruited him. Latif told him he was fighting against a "terrorist group" and offered him a salary of 20,000 dinars a month ($300)."

Christians in Qusayr

""We're too frightened to talk," her daughter Rim explained, before mustering the courage to continue. "Last summer Salafists came to Qusayr, foreigners. They stirred the local rebels against us," she says. Soon, an outright campaign against the Christians in Qusayr took shape. "They sermonized on Fridays in the mosques that it was a sacred duty to drive us away," she says. "We were constantly accused of working for the regime. And Christians had to pay bribes to the jihadists repeatedly in order to avoid getting killed."

US rewarding Israelii spying

"The espionage incidents have done little to slow the billions of dollars in money and weapons from the United States to Israel. Since Pollard's arrest, Israel has received more than $60 billion in U.S. aid, mostly in the form of military assistance, according to the Congressional Research Service. The U.S. has supplied Israel with Patriot missiles, helped pay for an anti-missile defense program and provided sensitive radar equipment to track Iranian missile threats.
Just on Friday, Obama said he was releasing an additional $70 million in military aid, a previously announced move that appeared timed to upstage Romney's trip, and he spoke of America's "unshakable commitment to Israel." The money will go to help Israel expand production of a short-range rocket defense system.
Some CIA officials still bristle over the disappearance of a Syrian scientist who during the Bush administration was the CIA's only spy inside Syria's military program to develop chemical and biological weapons. The scientist was providing the agency with extraordinary information about pathogens used in the program, former U.S. officials said about the previously unknown intelligence operation.
At the time, there was pressure to share information about weapons of mass destruction, and the CIA provided its intelligence to Israel. A former official with direct knowledge of the case said details about Syria's program were published in the media. Although the CIA never formally concluded that Israel was responsible, CIA officials complained to Israel about their belief that Israelis were leaking the information to pressure Syria to abandon the program. The Syrians pieced together who had access to the sensitive information and eventually identified the scientist as a traitor.
Before he disappeared and was presumed killed, the scientist told his CIA handler that Syrian Military Intelligence was focusing on him."

Is this the source of the Syrian engineer in Canada?

Is this how the fabrication started?  (thanks Ghassan)

flags of Syria

Akram sent me this:  "Washington Post published a photo of a demonstrator holding Syria's independence flag. The comment is:

Holding up the the first flag of the Baath Party regime, adopted by the Revolutionary Command Council, Syrians protest in the Shaar neighborhood of Aleppo during the funeral of a man allegedly killed in the bombardment of Sukari on July 27, 2012.
It seems Washington post thinks Syria hasn't existed before Baa'th party.".

NYT assistant managing editor

A. sent me this:  "I go on Twitter to check on Aleppo, and I stumble upon the account of the NYT assistant managing editor (more powerful than any of the names you usually critique) and he is like a bat-shit crazy zionist. His tweets is about finding the Aleppo Codex as an invaluable piece of Jewish history, he is flattering the "stunning backdrop" of the Romney Jerusalem speech.  These are the people in power." 

The decline of the Guardian newspaper

Christina sent me this:  "
The Guardian is making a big deal of obtaining this 'interview' with a 'captured Shabiha member', flagging it up gleefully on its front page:

Given that we have no clue a) who this man is (he may well be a 'rebel' posing as a solider) and b) whether this interview was obtained under extreme duress, its release is surely deeply troubling from the press ethics point of view. After all, Press TV lost its UK licence for broadcasting an interview obtained under duress (some of us doubted if that was the real reason, but that's another story). 

All part and parcel of the dramatic decline in the Guardians' journalistic standards.

In the meantime, the once excellent Brian Whitaker is offering us links to gossipy stories about an 'Arab prince' (no nationality needed - he's just a generic 'Arab') from the notorious Murdoch owned tabloid, The Sun:
The Guardian's Middle East 'coverage' is now interesting not for what it can tell you about the Middle East, but for what it can tell you about 'elite' thinking in the UK.


An Austrian newspaper photoshop a picture on Syria: all is permitted in the Syria propaganda story

(thanks AJ)

Is this a call for murder of a French journalist?

Syrian "revolutionaries" in Aleppo have posted this message publicly.  If this was posted by regime supporters, Western governments and the UN Security Council would have issued warnings and threats.  I should copy before they erase it:
"France24، هو في سوريا اليوم 29/072012 لتغطية الأخبار في حلب وإدلب | مهم |. النشطاء والثوار يجب أن نكون حذرين منه للغاية ، ومنعه من التصوير في أماكن الناشطين الحساسة.
صور الحائط
Important | | Shadi Shalala Lebanese media correspondent has the French citizenship , works for Channel France24, a supporter of the Syrian regime arrived in Syria today 29/072012 to cover for the news in Aleppo and Idleb . Activists and revolutionaries have to be very careful and prevent him from filming in FSA and activists' sensitive places .Please spread the word
بواسطة: British Syrians & Friends in Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution". (thanks Amer)

Look whose feelings are hurt

This Israeli newspaper is hurt:  "Arabs protest Israel's participation in Olympics:  Arab nations use Olympic opening ceremony to showcase Israel in negative light; Al-Jazeera commentators say 'Israel doesn't deserve it' as Israeli delegation enters stadium".  But of course, you can never read anything about Arab culture or politics in Zionist media without counting the mistakes and errors: such is the level if ignorance of Israeli orientalists.  The commentator did not say that "Israel does not deserve it".  He said: these are the ones who shall not be named.  But it is high time that Israel knows how much it is hated by Arabs.  From the inception of Zionism in the lands of Palestine, Zionists hoped that its paid Arab collaborators would qualify to speak for all Arabs.  

House of Saud and Syrian "revolution"

Saudi princes have decided to donate what amounts to their weekly bills at Western casinos and brothels to the cause of the Syrian "revolution".   If this is not sacrifice, what is?  (thanks Basim)

Naji `Allush dead

One of the most active and prolific Palestinian intellectuals/activists, Naji `Allush, is dead.  He may not be known to people in the West but all those who care about Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation should know of `Allush, regardless whether one agrees with his views or not.  He was a steadfast Arab nationalist who struggle and experiences varied over time.  He was in a few Palestinian organizations, and was close to a few.  He founded his own political organization that was close to Libya.  `Allush devoted his entire life to Palestine and his writings were pioneering in his understanding of the Zionist threat and in writing against anti-Semitic views of Israel and Zionism.  I should be writing a longer article on him.

Free Syrian Army: the hostage takers

If one of the Lebanese hostages held by the Free Syrian Army has an American citizenship he would he entitled to sue the US government (which provides material aid too the Free Syrian Army).
Akram, the Angry Arab correspondent in Syria, sent me this:
"Abbas, the preacher, said effusively, “First, I want to say that we are not hostages, but guests of a really great man—his name is Hajji Abu Ibrahim.”

Awad, the travel agent, said, “As God is my witness and I repeat it three times, I have never seen such a man as this, and this experience has opened my eyes about the revolution in Syria. When I go home I want to help support its revolution.”

When it came time for Zagheeb to speak, he said that he was so moved by the hospitality he had received that he hoped for nothing more than to return to Azaz one day with his wife and children

When I asked if they wanted to return to their homes, they all nodded eagerly, but said little more.

Abbas, Awad, Zagheeb are three of the eleven Lebanese "guests" of the Free Syrian Army".

Saturday, July 28, 2012

the war crimes of the Free Syrian Army gangs are always mentioned in one sentence--and in passing

"Mr. Pillay also cited a growing number of reports of atrocities by opposition fighters, including the torture or execution of prisoners."

Criminal Asad battalions

I saw a military man announces his defection on Saudi media.  He said: "I hereby announce my defection from the criminal Asad battalions".  So what were you doing in the criminal battalions?  

Defection of a broadcaster in Syria

From Akram:  "O'ola Abbas, a Syrian news broadcaster in "Al-Ikbaryyia Assouryia", a state-owned TV station, attacked last month. A'abbas defected and issued a statement on this issue (Arabic).

Her motivations are unclear: she could have been paid for or she simply and sincerely defected. The lesson to be learned from this short and insignificant story is the following:

would she be there at the time of attack, she wouldn't have the chance to defect 20 days later. The FSA gangs would slaughter her as a, female, Alawite and Shabyiha".

Notice that protests in Saudi Arabia are called Shi`ite protests but protests in Syria are not called Sunni protests

"State media said the protesters were instigating riots and were detained Friday for setting tires on fire. Witnesses told Agence France-Presse that security forces had opened fire on the protesters, wounding several. The Saudi Press Agency reported that there were no casualties.  Though Saudi Arabia has not had mass protests on the same scale as other countries engulfed the Arab Spring, the Shiite protest movement has persisted in the east, growing more intense after a prominent Shiite cleric critical of the government was injured and arrested."  

Free Syrian Army antics

Free Syrian Army gangs kidnap people and then they free them for whatever reason and claim that they actually freed them from other captors.  If you followed the lies of the Free Syrian Army about the kidnapping of Lebanese pilgrims (a story that got no coverage whatsoever in the Western media), you know what I am talking about.

Will Zionists ever learn how much Arabs hate Israel?

My favorite Zionist delusion is the notion that the Arab people don't hate Israel but that the Arab governments incite the people to hate Israel, when it is the other way round.  "London 2012 organising committee officials erected a makeshift curtain to split the two halves of a training gym at the ExCeL centre on Friday afternoon to placate the Lebanese team, which was refusing to train at the same time as the Israelis."

This guy has lost his marbles

""There's an international plot against Gulf states in particular and Arab countries in general ... This is pre-planned to take over our fortunes," Khalfan told reporters at a gathering late on Wednesday marking the Muslim holy month of Ramadan." (thanks Basim)

Those who can't be named

This Arab broadcaster said this about the Israeli Olympic team arrival:  "those who can't be named". (thanks Hamza)

Jamal Khashuqji

I have written about Jamal Khashuqji before.  But he has an interesting piece on the classism of Arab ruling republican regimes.  He argues that there is contempt for the poor among the ruling elites. But one can only ask him: so it does not apply to the classism and contempt of the poor by the ruling Arab oil and gas regimes?

Aljazeera deeply hurt

Comrade Amer is right.  Aljazeera has been deeply hurt by the propaganda work it has been spewing in the last many months.   But Aljazeera was hurt further by the introduction of Al-Mayadin TV station: it has surprised people by its professional delivery of news.  Amer thinks that there may be recent slight adjustment in the coverage of Aljazeera: inviting me to speak on Syria on Aljazeera (for the first time ever) is another indication.  We shall see.  Repressive tolerance, most likely.

Hoax peddled

After Canadian media (and even Free Syrian Army) exposed the lies of this woman who pretends that she is active in the Free Syrian Army, Al-Arabiyya decides to pick up the story and present it as a top story today.  

Saudi revolt

IT reads: The people wants the downfall of the House of Saud.

Arabs have a new hero

Facebook is filled with his picture. He is Taqi Murabit, the Tunisian swimmer who refused to swim due to the participation of an Israeli swimmer. 

Syrian regime TV: a menu of nausea

I watched the morning news on Syrian regime TV.  How easily they lie.  They invent think tanks in Washington that don't exist.  They claimed that the Pentagon said that most fighters in Syria are Al-Qa`idah.  They have become more crude and more vulgar in propaganda than a months or so ago: competing with the crude and vulgar propaganda of the other side.  They still have people who insults Arabs (of the Gulf) as "`urban" (meant pejoratively).  They insult every Arab man and woman who dared to protest by stating that BHL is the man orchestrating the Arab uprisings.  They offend my eyes by airing footage of military exercises by an Army that--like the Lebanese Army--defines bravery by shooting and firing at civilians.  The Syrian-on-the-streets seem all depressed and nervous now. It is a different picture from even a months ago.  

Thanking the king of Saudi Arabia

Those alleged Syrian protesters thanks Saudi Arabia's "king, government, and people".  A revolution that is inspired by a Saudi King is no revolution.

Fear Factor in east Saudi Arabia

The fear factor is gone in East Saudi Arabia.  One of the protesters there called me yesterday, and what impressed me: 1) the most advanced technological expertise; 2) the sheer bravery of protesters there.  They are vocal in calling for the downfall of the royal family.  You talk to an activist there and you know that he will be in jail the next week.

Propaganda of the Free Syrian Army

This requires an article since no one is really talking about it.  First, do you notice the extremely irritating heavy religious rhetoric in everything that is vomited by the media apparatus of the this shop? I mean, I have not heard such heavy religious propaganda since Bin Laden's speeches. Secondly, how easy for them to lie: they lie more than Fath's military communiques in the 1970s and 1960s and more than Saddam's regime in 2003.  Today, Al-Arabiyyah hosted a spokesperson of the FSA to talk about Aleppo: he spoke about heavy fighting.  The anchor asked him about the number of dead on his side: he said that there were no casualties in their ranks just "civilians".  She seemed skeptical so she asked again.  He said: oh, just seven victims on our side.  She then asked him about casualties in the Syrian Army.  He said: in the hundreds.  She seemed skeptical again (and she--Najwa Qasim is not a professional journalist by any means she is one of the most crude propagandists for that channel whose respect for truth and journalistic ethics is tantamount to Obama's respect for Palestinian rights) and asked him: in the hundreds?  He said: yes, from what we saw.  Third, another spokesperson said that certain residential areas were bombarded heavily and that as a result a family "was slaughtered with a knife".  She asked him: why a knife?  He said: they are brutal.  Fourthly, she interviewed a spokesperson of the "revolution" in Damascus.  She asked him about developments in Damascus, he went on to speak about developments in Dayr Az-Zur.  She had to tell him that they have their own men in Dayr Az-Zur.  He went on to speak about various things and she was disappointed.  She concluded the broadcast by saying that there is no fighting in Damascus, when her own guests spoke about heavy fighting still going on in the city.  And remember this: those professional liars ARE THE SOURCES FOR MOST IF NOT ALL WESTERN MEDIA REPORTS ON SYRIA.

The most circulated video by Arabs since yesterday

So the broadcaster of Abu Dhabi TV was announcing the various national teams at the opening ceremony of the Olympics, and when they announced the Israeli team, he just went silent.  Arabs loved it and it has been circulating widely on Facebook and email and twitter.  It seems it is now showing for copyright infringement.  Try this link.

Friday, July 27, 2012


I have followed the Olympics only once in my life: in 1972, at age 12.  

"The dangerous man"

My weekly article for Al-Akhbar:  "Habib Shartuni: 'The dangerous man' is returning".

From Sharif Husayn to his son, Faysal during the "Arab revolt"

"إلى هذا الحدّ تصل بك القحّة يا فيصل"؟ ."
(To this degree, your insolence has reached, O Faysal).

Live from Akram: the many Damscuses

Akram, Angry Arab's correspondent in Syria, wrote me this account:

"For the first time ever, Damascus is Damascuses (or at least, this is what turned out to be the case). And this depends on who tells.

First of all, the heart of the city, the area not being touched by the ongoing fighting. People come and go, filling the streets trying to recover their lives. Stores are open and hawkers raise their voices in an attempt to promote their goods. Vegetables are available and their prices fell sharply while, in contradiction to what the government announces, gasoline is still rare, something that you may discover, right away, by just taking a look at the long queues in front of gas stations. But you can, easily, realize how false is this image of a city full of life, by looking in the eyes of people or by hearing their discussions. Then only, you can detect the amount of anxiety and uncertainty that fills their hearts.

The second Damascus can be seen in the accounts of the displaced people or their relatives. A huge amount of angry of what they describe as brutal practices of the army in the regions that witness combats. You can hear sad stories about indiscriminate shelling, homes that have been stormed and their poor contents that have been destructed, and mass arbitrary arrests of young men. A Palestinian taxi driver who looked exhausted told me that, since the early morning (Thursday), he was trying to evacuate his family from Al-Yarmouk, a large Palestinian refugee camp located South Damascus, until he succeeded by the noon. Another one, a friend, managed to evacuate half of his parents from Al-Sbeineh, a poor quarter to the south of Damascus that is waiting his turn in the "cleaning" campaign carried out by the Syrian army, while the other half preferred to stay at home because they didn't want to be "humiliated". The two men said the military operation succeed only to hit the civilians while gunmen could easily escape waiting for the army to go away before they came back. Increasing tensions are taking place in the regions that received displaced people. In Jaramana, a Damascene suburb, some dislocated people from the stricken city of Douma and who are sheltered in two public schools wrote anti-regime graffiti, something that raised the ire of the residents who are calling for them to be expelled. The same applies on Sahnayia suburb, where some of the displaced people of Al-Tadamoun and Al-Qadam neighborhoods, tried to organize anti-regime demonstrations.

The third Damascus is only seen on TV, in the Ramadan televised series. Damascus of the 19th and the early period of the 20th century, Damascus of the traditional quarters, the gossips of women and their naïve plots, the mannish acts of men with traditional costumes and big mustaches. Or another "modern" Damascus that few know about, Damascus of the villas and large apartments and luxury cars and international restaurants, Damascus of colorful girls and stylish men. The few series that tries to "deal with the situation" are late for at least one year in a manner that makes you laugh loudly.

The fourth Damascus is located in news broadcasts, news tickers and comments of unknown people described as "analysts" (Nasser Qandeel is the brightest star of the Syrian channels) that fill the screen: our brave military forces are still chasing the remnants of terrorists killing and arresting tenths of them, citizens (in this area or that) are grateful to the army for restoring safety and security after the terrorist gangs wreaked havoc in their neighborhoods, the Syrian army is fighting the final battle in Aleppo (earlier in Damascus), the cosmic conspiracy is living its final moments, the BRICS will retaliate, ...

Damascus is no more one Damascus, and it this isn't only because of the sectarian cracks which began to appear on its old face."

Western love affair with Saudi repression

"Still, by sending these two women to London under the guise of progress, Saudi Arabia will indeed be taking a trophy home for once again proving that among its Arab neighbors, when it comes to blatant backwardness, hypocrisy and systemic gender discrimination, it takes home the gold, and then some..Saudi Arabia continues to be the only country in the world to prevent girls from taking part in sport in government schools. Qatar on the other hand is also building a high performance training center aimed to involve women in sport and has boasted a Women's Sport Committee for over a decade. Saudi Arabia still segregates and oppresses women in society, which includes preventing them from playing sports, not providing any state sports infrastructure for women and marginalizing them from participating in public life..""

Watch live: war crimes of the Free Syrian Army

You have to watch this disgusting video.  This man's only crime is that he appeared on Dunya TV (a regime TV).  He was asked for his sect, and he said Sunni: and then he was tormented for being Sunni and appearing on Dunya TV and for mocking `Ar`ur speeches.  At the end, the "revolutionary" of the Free Syrian Army announces that a punishment will be exacted on this person for his crimes.  I have two points: 1) shame on Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for their cowardice and lack of professionalism.  They more than ever that they are mere tools of US foreign policy and of the agendas of their funders; 2) I miss the Sufis, liberals, and leftists who are running the Syrian revolution as we read only months ago.  

Al-Qa`idah in Syria

The correspondent of Al-Quds Al-`Arabi (Qatari-funded) in Jordan (who is very well-informed and very well-connected) writes:  "And the battallion of "Ahl Ash-Sham" is practically the new Syrian version of Al-Qa`idah which according to Jordanian sources is numbered around 6000 fighters, among them Asians and Gulf people and even some Europeans, and there are many Pakistanis and Tunisians and Algerians, and specifically Saudis..."

hostages of the Free Syrian Army

Al-Arabiyyah (news station of King Fahd's brother-in-law) hosted a spokesperson of the FSA and announced with great fanfare that the it has captured more than a 100 of Syrian regime army soldiers.  Within minutes it announced with great fanfare and drama that it has just received a video of the captured soldiers.  All were civilians.  So the anchor (who like Aljazeera anchors) often wants to help the propaganda efforts of the guests.  So he said rather surprised: but those are in civilian clothes and dont seem like soldiers (many did not even fit the image of the thin mal-nutritioned Syrian soldiers).  The FSA guest said something that did not make sense at all, so the anchor interjected and helped him out and said: so they are soldiers but they were in civilian clothes.  Kid you not.  I switched the channel learning more and more about how the Syrian story is covered.

PS. No worries. In a later broadcast they were all made to be Shabbihah (thugs and the term is now increasingly used to refer all `Alawites, including children and women).

Qatar versus Saudi Arabia

I see many signs of growing rift between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.  I know how the Emir of Qatar feels about the House of Saud.  I see the signs of conflict over Syria: Saudi media are now working hard to promote their own version of future Syrian leaders.  The Saudis are pushing what they think is their alternative of the bad version that Qatar is promoting (SNC): they are now pushing for former henchmen of the Syrian regime (Khaddam, Tlas, and Rif`at Al-Asad) because they think that this appeals more to Israel and US who worry about disintegration of the repressive arm of the regime.  Read the text of Munaf Tlas: this was addressed not to the Syrian people but to the US government at the behest of Prince Bandar who is managing the story.

questioning original finding

"But then views began to shift. As time passed, the UN began to question its original findings. On June 27, the Human Rights Council discussed a report prepared by its Syria commission, which concluded that there was insufficient evidence to determine who had committed the massacre." (thanks Sultan)

BHL in Saudi media

Do you know that Al-Arabiyya (the politically sleazy news station of King Fahd's brother-in-law) now treats BHL as an expert on the Arab world?

PS Oh, and he is identified as "the philosopher".
PPS He said that he is not a Zionist but that he is a supporter of Israel.

The heroic deeds of Lebanese security forces

"Security forces, backed by a fire truck, managed to put out the blazing tire fire and reopened the road about two hours later."  I mean, who needs a resistance force in Lebanon when the Lebanese security forces can manage to put the blazing tire fire?  Who? (thanks Basim)

PR sensitivity

Any visit to Auschwitz with the accompaniment of cameras is a visit that does not count.  It is a PR visit advised by a PR firm hired by Abu Mazen to improve his image with US Congress to increase funding for his collaborationist regime.   "An adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited the memorial at the German Nazi death camp of Auschwitz to pay respect to camp victims on Friday."

Al-`Ar`ur: I am honored to have been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia

The Syrian sectarian cleric, `Adnan `Ar`ur, says that he was "honored" to have been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia and that prison has been good for his back.  Kid you not.   Oh, he also pledges allegiance to the Saudi ruler.  (thanks Hossein)

Repression of Muslims in Burma: the role of Monks

"Monks who played a vital role in Burma's recent struggle for democracy have been accused of fuelling ethnic tensions in the country by calling on people to shun a Muslim community that has suffered decades of abuse.  In a move that has shocked many observers, some monks' organisations have issued pamphlets telling people not to associate with the Rohingya community, and have blocked humanitarian assistance from reaching them. One leaflet described the Rohingya as "cruel by nature" and claimed it had "plans to exterminate" other ethnic groups." (thanks Ali)

UAE rulers don't think that torture is torture

A source who would know sent me this and he/she does not want to be identified:
"I thought this might be of interest to you: the UAE has only just ratified one of the core human rights treaties, the Convention Against Torture. In addition to the delay, they've also carved themselves a major loophole, so that they can keep using corporal punishment:

"The United Arab Emirates also confirms that the lawful sanctions applicable under national
law, or pain or suffering arising from or associated with or incidental to these lawful sanctions, do not
fall under the concept of “torture” defined in article 1 of this Convention or under the concept of cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment mentioned in this Convention."

If you use this, I would prefer you not to use my name."

"Revealed: producer of propaganda BBC report on Gaza attack has history of fabrication"

"During the question-and-answer session that followed the screening, this reporter cited Martin’s 2002 fabrications, and asked why his new film should be trusted.  In front of the audience, Martin stood by the fabricated Nasrallah quote and promised to email its source to The Electronic Intifada. Weeks later, Martin has failed to make good on this promise, despite follow-up requests over phone and email.
Martin admitted to writing under the name “Sayed Anwar” but claimed an original disclaimer clarifying the use of a pseudonym was mistakenly left out because of a Washington Times editing mistake: “I did use a pseudonym … half the story wasn’t written by me, it was written by a Palestinian … [a disclaimer] was put at the bottom on the story but the sub-editor took off the last paragraph and that statement.”  Martin did not directly respond to a question asking why he never followed through on his public threat to sue Neil Macdonald and CBC, claiming only that he had offered to appear on the channel.  After the question and answer session, Martin approached this reporter and insisted he had only written a single article under the pseudonym: “there was only one [article] where that name was used.”  However, a database search of The Washington Times back issues proved that the pseudonym had been used at least twice, and in both articles there was no disclaimer. The two Washington Times articles under that byline are also preserved on the Internet Archive (the articles are still on the Washington Times website, but with no author named).  Martin also said: “I’d be delighted to talk to The [Electronic] Intifada. By the way I think it’s an excellent website … I try to be balanced.”" (thanks Asa)


For the first time I am invited to speak on Syria on Aljazeera.  I shall appear next Tuesday (morning California time) on Min Washington program to speak on Syria.  I will appear live from San Francisco.

It is a bad sign when Arabs are being hectored and lectures by Aaron David Miller

""can they liberate themselves from the fears, conspiracies and prejudices that also shape so much of their politics and identity?"" By the way, Miller did not study the Middle East and does not know Arabic or Turkish or Persian (he may know some Hebrew).  It is his fanatic Zionism that qualified him to work at the State Department when experienced and seasoned Arabists were being replaced by non-expert Zionists.   And then this Miller borrows from the concepts of honor and shame that he read in Raphael Patai's The Arab Mind--his only source of knowledge on Arabs--to say this:  ""On the other hand, Israel is a source of dishonor and shame—and perhaps secretly a source of admiration too, which makes matters even more complex. How could a tiny country defy the will of the great Arab nation and make itself into the strongest military power and most technologically advanced country in the Middle East? For the Arabs, Israel is one tough and painful look in the mirror."  (thanks Hussam)

Hillary Clinton in Egypt and pseudo news

Egyptian economist, Jalal Amin, and the visit of Hillary to Cairo and pseudo news.

Iftar in an Arab oil country

This is one dish in an Iftar in an Arab oil country.  The dish I think is kabseh.

PS  Mariam sent me this:  "Are you aware that the photo you posted on your blog is an old one? http://bit.ly/LSbr88 and probably not taken during iftar. I have seen it before, so I used google's image search and it's indeed an old photo. http://bit.ly/NMv3ZB.  Google image search or TinEye are great tools if you want to check photo's (and/or for other verifiying purposes)."

`Ali Mamluk

With the appointment of `Ali Mamluk to a key intelligence leading role, Bashshar is opting for the ruthlessness style of his father in the Hama massacre.  The regime having foiled the coup plot orchestrated by the US (Operation Damascus-Aleppo) may have felt emboldened.  But the regime will not secure its rule, no matter what.  Aleppo may be overtaken but there would still be pocked of armed conflicts in various places.  The future of Syria can be read in the history of the Lebanese civil war but this time the war will engulf both countries at once and without a regional hegemon to come and impose his/her version of ruthless and repressive order. 

massacre in Aleppo

Did you see that the US government through the spokesperson of the US Department of State yesterday warned of a future massacre in Aleppo?  So the US can now warn about a massacre in Syria before it actually happens.  Not that the US is in anyway doing anything beyond words and psychological operations?  Not that I want the US to do anything in the Middle East except to butt out and leave the region to its people and end all arms deliveries and electoral bribes.    Not that I feel that the US is credible to speak on the topic of massacres when it has committed massacres and atrocities as recently as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And not that the US has ever cared about massacres when Israel's history is an anthology of massacres against Arabs.  Not that the US has cared about the Syrian people when they were killed and repressed and tortured when Syria was going along the US-led "peace process".  Sometimes I just wish that all US government propagandists would take a vow of silence to avoid insulting our intelligence.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Two wars for Israel, at least

So if you read statements by Israeli terrorist leaders, they basically would like a war on Iran, a war on Syria, and other wars on Hizbullah and Hamas.  Does Israel want a beverage with that?

Syrian refugee in Lebanon

Al-Akhbar published this picture of a Syrian refugee in Wadi Khalid who is seen carrying her Iftar.


Saudi Mufti describes protesters in Qatif as "riff-raffs". (ghawgha')

meet the Syrian exile opposition

""Sieda is the not real decision-maker," complained Khalaf Dawood of the NCB. "He and [predecessor Burhan] Ghalioun are just pawns. The Islamists control the SNC even though there is no democratic basis for that. The Turks and the Saudis are running things and the Americans might be behind them. We don't want to end up swapping one corrupt dictatorship for another."  SNC officials emphasise close co-ordination with the FSA, whose men now receive regular pay through the council. "The SNC want to create a war chest so they can bribe fighters on the ground because that's the only way they can have any leverage on the ground," said the Syrian commentator Malik al-Abdeh.  SNC leaders say they will shortly set up a base on Syrian soil like the Libyan rebels did in Benghazi. The SNC has also built up a database to keep foreign governments informed on the structure and activities of the FSA so weapons and money do not end up in the hands of Salafi or jihadi-type groups."