Thursday, May 31, 2012

Revolutionaries of Syria

So an organization called "Revolutionaries of Syria--Rif of Aleppo" (one of many names used by the armed gangs under the umbrella of Free Syrian Army) sent a release to Al-Jazeera and claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of Lebanese pilgrims and released their pictures.  Look at them: those are the ages of fighters?  And the official spokesperson of the group is so dripping with sectarianism in every word he spoke.  Those folks are a disgrace to any revolution.  What a shame.  

UAE-Saudi conflict

I notice that Western media treat the GCC as a monolith filled with harmony.  They rarely report on frictions and conflicts between the countries.  Read here about the UAE-Saudi conflict.

Me, old regime?

""I am fed up with being labeled 'old regime,'" Shafiq said at a news conference in his campaign headquarters in Cairo. "All Egyptians are part of the old regime."" (thanks Basim)

"Homophobic Israeli quackery"

""Many observant Jews are struggling with same-sex attraction (SSA), with few resources to help them. One courageous group is offering a special workshop next month for men who face this challenge."" (Asa who sent me the link suggested the title).

Look at this absurd headline: the Israeli lost but he was declared a winner

"Despite loss, Israeli chess grandmaster wins fans".  (thanks Mouin)

Those children don't count

"Coinciding with International Children's Day on 1 June, figures released by the Palestinian Ministry of Information show that 1,456 Palestinian children have been shot dead by Israelis since the Aqsa Uprising started in late 2000. The ministry pointed out that all Palestinian children are still subjected to constant abuse and attacks by Israeli occupation forces and illegal Jewish settlers across the occupied Palestinian territories. Dozens have been arrested by Israel in a campaign of harassment in the occupied West Bank".

Zionism is always racism II: "Sudanese housekeeper nearly 'lynched' in Eilat"

"Abdullah Abuya, 40, from Darfur, is lying beaten and injured in his house in Eilat, after he was allegedly attacked by seven young guests at the Club Hotel where he works.  "It happened last Saturday," Abuya told Ynet on Tuesday. "At 7 pm I was asked to deliver towels and soap to one of the rooms. While I was in the hallway, two men stopped me and asked me to give them the towels. I told them that they were reserved for other guests, and that they can call the front desk and ask for whatever they needed.  "In response, the two attacked me with their fists," Abuya recalled, adding that after he fell on the floor, "five of their friends joined them and they all beat me together. I yelled, and the security guard came to my help, but he was one and they were many. They lifted me and tried to throw me out of the window. I tried to resist, and then another security guard came and they managed to stop them.  According to Abuya, many hotel guest witnessed the attack, which lasted more than 10 minutes, but did nothing to stop the assailants.  Police officers who arrived at the scene detained two of the attackers for questioning. During the investigation, the two claimed that they acted in self defense after the hotel employee attacked them. They were both released under restricting conditions." 

Jihadi allies of the West

"According to Mustapha and other Lebanese affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, the main armed rebel group in Syria, some 300 Lebanese Sunnis from the northern Bekaa Valley area alone have taken up arms against the Assad regime in the past year. Most of them have joined FSA brigades in the area of Homs, Syria’s third-largest city.  The Lebanese recruits are not the only non-Syrians to volunteer for the struggle against the Assad regime, the FSA volunteers say. Other foreign fighters include Jordanians, Tunisians, Algerians, and Saudis."  In fact, the Libyans may be the biggest contingent.

PS I have to register a word of caution.  The article is by Nicholas Blanford, whose credibility (after the Time magazine fiasco interview with suspects of the Hariri court and after interviews with Hizbullah "fighters") is very low.

"Saudi Auction Sells Suicide Bombers for Syria"

"Activists have released video footage showing alleged potential suicide bombers being presented at an auction in western Saudi Arabia before being shipped off to Syria."

Repression in the UAE

"The United Arab Emirates have intensified their effort to quell political dissent, with 15 men now being detained by the security forces, according to human rights groups and family members.
All but two are members of Al Islah Reform and Social Guidance Association, which holds beliefs similar to those of the Muslim Brotherhood, the mainstream Islamic organization. The men have called for a more democratic political system in the country, a group of seven principalities ruled by hereditary emirs.  Christopher Davidson, a lecturer at Durham University in Britain who is an expert on Gulf issues, said the Emirates were following the example of Bahrain, which has cracked down harshly on dissidents. Leaders of the Emirates are “emboldened” by the Bahrain government’s actions against protesters “and the lack of any significant condemnation of the Bahrain regime by the international community,” he said.
“The U.A.E. authorities want to govern over a nonpolitical country and a depoliticized population,” he said. “They want to be guardians of an economy that makes money for everyone.”  One stick that the U.A.E. government is using against dissidents is the threat of taking away their citizenship. In December, a group of seven Emiratis, all of whom are members of Al Islah, were stripped of their citizenship. They were arrested in March when they refused to seek out alternative nationalities, their families say. A court ruling on the authorities’ actions is imminent.

Haytham Al-Malih pleads with the White Man

"The West must now recognize..." It is funny that earlier in the article he spoke about the "international community" but then slipped.  

Qatar versus Lebanon: fears of the Qatari royal family

Tomorrow, Lebanon's national soccer team will face Qatar's national soccer team in Beirut.  But there will be no spectators: Lebanese governments banned them.  Why? Apparently, the Qatari government knew that the Lebanese spectators will chant against the Qatari royal family and it threatened to expel all Lebanese from Qatar if such chants were allowed.  The Lebanese government acted accordingly.

Zionism is always racism

"An Israeli lawmaker who called African migrants a “cancer” during a 23 May demonstration in Tel Aviv that turned into a violent anti-African pogrom, has doubled down on her racist incitement by apologizing for likening African migrants in Israel to human beings." (thanks Electronic Ali)

The fraud known as J Street

Here is the test for you: if you find one criticism of Likud by Feinstein in her long career, you shall get a blender from me.  If this is the choice by J street, it should merge with AIPAC to save money.  "This week, J Street is expected to land one of its biggest names when it announces its endorsement of Senator Dianne Feinstein, the veteran Democrat from California who is chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, an important forum for Middle East intelligence."  And here are the goals of the group:  "group’s moderate positions — it supports increased diplomacy, a two-state Israeli solution and continued aid to the Palestinian Authority".  Does the Israeli Likud government disagree with any of those goals?

Excessive force? That term is used when Western governments and organizations basically call on Israel to use force against Palestinians but moderately

"The Amnesty International 2012 annual report was released on Wednesday, detailing the violation of human rights worldwide.  The report is highly critical of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, charging that the Israel Defense Forces frequently uses excessive, sometimes lethal, force against demonstrators in the West Bank and civilians in Gaza. The IDF this year has killed 55 civilians in the West Bank and Gaza, including 11 children, the report said."

"Defection" of Hazem Shihabi

This is rather comical.  US and Western media want to make it a big story.  Look at the funny way in which the LA Times report the story: it is called defection by a high ranking diplomat.  Hazem is the son of former Syrian chief-of-staff, Hikmat Ash-Shihabi (a major figure in the regime of Hafidh Al-Asad).  He resigned his post in 1998, and was part of the team that was put on the payroll of Rafiq Hariri (the others were `Abdul-Halim Khaddam, and Ghazi Kan`an).  Hazem lives in the US has been very close to the Syrian regime embassy and often speaks on behalf of the Syrian regime (he is a radiologist in Newport Beach and Rafiq Hariri used to come and undergo medical tests there).  He lives in the US and has an honorary title: as an honorary consult-general.  He says that his resignation (not defection, you idiots) came as a result of pressures from Syrian opposition groups (most of the Syrians in the US are now in favor of the opposition--my own estimation) and by CAIR (the Islamist pro-Saudi American organization).  By the way, Hikmat Shihabi returned to Syria in 2010 to stand with the regime but kept a low profile.  

Syrian regime investigation of Hula

I just watched the press conference by the Syrian official who investigated the Hula massacre.  The man could barely read Arabic in a country where toddlers have excellent command of Arabic, and nothing he said meant anything substantive.  Nothing.  It was mere denial and generalization without any concrete evidence.  

Will the US press report on the racist festivals in Israel?

"An Israeli citizen of Ethiopian origin was assaulted Wednesday evening in Tel Aviv during a demonstration calling for the deportation of African immigrants, just a week following the violent protest in Hatikva neighborhood."

Shame on the New York Times: disgrace of journalism

The New York Times published an op-ed piece by none other than Haytham Al-Malih, the liberal Syrian dissident days after he publicly told the mouthpiece of Prince Salman (Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat) that he supported the kidnapping of innocent Lebanese pilgrim and that he urged the kidnappers to not release them.  One question to the Times: would it EVER dare publish an editorial on any topic by somebody who advocated the kidnapping of innocent Jews? Ever?

Libyan fighters and kidnappers in Dir`a

Firas Ash-Shufi, correspondent of Al-Akhbar wrote this piece about the boiling anger in Suwayda' (against the armed gangs of the Free Syrian Army).  He told he watched videos of the murders by those Salafite gangs.  He told me that Jordanian intelligence is very active in smuggling fighters and that there are tens of Libyan volunteers (mercenaries?) among the fighters.  They almost instigated a fight with the Druzes of Suwayda' (most of whom still support the regime despite please by Walid Jumblat whose popularity in the area is akin to my popularity among Saudi princes) when they kidnapped Druzes, and then the Druzes kidnapped a large number of Sunnis from the area.  High level intervention ended the tense moment and hostages were freed.  Those deeds of the armed Syrian groups are never mentioned in the Western press.

Some Questions on the Houla Massacre...and Beyond

My latest blog post for Al-Akhbar English:  "Some Questions on the Houla Massacre...and Beyond"

Arabian War Games

The author of this book, Arabian War Games: Cataclysmic Wars Redraw The Map of the Middle East (iuniverse), is Ali Al-Shihabi.  Ali (a Saudi citizen) and I were friends at IC at age 14 but Ali left Lebanon shortly after the breakout of the Lebanese civil war in 1975.  I remember that we used to have heated political discussions then: he would defend the conservative Saudi government and I would--well, you know where Angry Arab stands, and you can extrapolate that on the past.  We both shared deep interest in politics back then and out disagreements (unusually for me) never became acrimonious.  We have not seen each other since except once in the 1980s when I moved to Washington, DC to pursue my PhD.  Ali studied in the US and then founded an investment bank in Dubai (and he sits on the board of the MBC broadcasting network).  He recently sent me a copy of his book, and I only promised him a fair reading although he expected that I would trash it.  As I started reading it, I was pleasantly surprised: 1) Ali has maintained his deep interest in politics despite his chosen career; 2) he maintains a healthy hostility to Zionism and to Israel and is very well-informed about Israeli crimes and designs; 3) he is familiar with the progressive literature against Israel and Zionism.  As I finished the book, I have this to say.  1) The book is certainly refreshingly original in its approach and scope: it is unique in its approach.  To imagine "cataclysmic" wars in the year 2013 (I wish he chose a year farther in the future) and to weave in the various conflicts of the region, is new.  2) Ali is an interesting story-teller and the book reads (in some parts) as a thriller.  3) I wish that Ali used less idiomatic American expressions in US and Israeli leadership meetings (and please, enough with "gentlemen" as an opening word for all statements made.)  And US officials call Netanyahu "Bibi" not Benjamin.    4) While the scenarios are rather interesting if a bit far-fetched, I would have suggested some tinkering with the plot if I had read the draft.  I think that the notion that Iran would advance to create an empire and that Israel would create an empire with little local resistance or international (in the case of the Iranian advance) is very unconvincing.  Ali has Iran advancing and taking over Bahrain, Kuwait, and parts of Saudi Arabia without much of an American response--so much so that Saudi Arabia had to resort to Pakistan's help.  The portrayal of the US leadership deliberations are rather unrealistic: the US would have responded much more strongly and much more forcefully. If the occupation of Kuwait by Saddam led to such a massive US response, one can only imagine the US response in the event of an all-out Iranian assault on the Gulf.  Also, even in the case of an Israeli advance (where the size of Israel is increased four times and where the Arabs in Israel are expelled), the US would have responded differently: especially during an Iranian assault.  5) Here is a major weakness in the scenario: why would Israel choose to begin its massive war at a time when Iran is attacking Arab countries?  Would it not be wise for Israel to let Arab public opinion build up against Iran and just watch the developments from afar?  6) The portrayal of Israel leadership is very realistic and Ali's fear from Zionist schemes to ethnically cleanse Arabs inside Israel is legitimate.  But his portrayal of Iranian leadership is less persuasive: there is less rationality to their debates than one expects. After all, and despite all the religious rhetoric and propaganda, the regime (even during Khumayni's days when he accepted the cease-fire with Saddam) reveals itself to be rational and primarily concerned with its survival.  7) the book portrays the Shi`ites of the region as fifth columnists ready at any moment to follow Iran's orders.  That is not quite the case, of course.  8) the portrayal of Hizbullah and its behavior is true about Hizbullah of the 1980s when the party was a mere tool of Iran.  Hasan Nasrallah is now probably more respected by the Supreme Leader than Ahmadinejad and his opinion probably carries more weight with him.  The notion that the Party would just follow without question an order from Iran without considering its own calculation is fallacious espeically if the order may bring about the downfall of the party.   In fact, Nasrallah spoke to that recently and said that Iran basically allows Hizbullah (i.e. Nasrallah) to determine its own course of action.  And the reference to Na'im Qasim as some powerful leader in the party is quite untrue.  He is probably the weakest among the men in the leadership.  And he basically (for his scenario) disregards the resistance powers of the party in the face of an all-out Israeli invasion.  9) The portrayal of the Saudi King in handling the crisis (and why is he still alive in 2013?) is very incompatible what our perception of the King as an illiterate and simple-minded man.  At least, Ali did not invoke a role for Khalid bin Sultan, and that saved the day (or the reading).  And US involvement in Saudi decision making is minimized.  10) I like that the author worked hard to keep information in the book pretty accurate and he is very knowledgeable about military affairs.  11) I think that the Mossad is far less capable and successful than what is portrayed in the book.  12) The Afterwards included some political observations and I wish that section was larger.  I agree with him that the peace process should be disregarded but I disagree with his solution: that Jordan would join in a federation with a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza (and with an association with Israel's Arab minority).  No solution that allows the Zionist entity to remain on the land of Palestine is acceptable by me, of course.  His other political conclusions constitute a warning to Gulf states that the West would control their affairs (they don't already?) if they don't take matters into their own hands and create a unified Gulf state (including Yemen).  The author also has an in passing reference to the status of Shi`ites in the Gulf, although the constant references to them as "mobs" in the scenario can be seen as offensive.  It is a good read: I recommend it, political and methodological disagreements notwithstanding.   Finally, there are three trends in Saudi elite opinion:  one holds that Israel is and will always be the main threat and danger; a second opinion (reflected by Prince Salman's media) holds that Iran is the main threat and danger; while a third view holds that both Israel and Iran are the main threat and danger. Ali adheres to the last view. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hula or Huli

A resident in the area today told me that the people of Hula pronounce it more as "Huli".  

On Hula: this is insanity: can it get more crazier than this, and more dumb?

This is what a Western reporter is posting on Twitter (and it was circulated by Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashuqji--I am told):  "Exclusive Houla: Lots of people report killers had Shia slogans written on their foreheads. ‪#C4news".   Did they also chant "Long Live Ali Ibn Talib" on the way out?  Can the propaganda be less dumb so that we don't laugh at it?  

Sectarian agenda of An-Nahar

I have often written against the sectarian right-wing racist (anti-Syrian and anti-Palestinian people) newspaper, An-Nahar.  I don't have to write about it anymore: it is almost dead.  No one reads it and no one talks about it.  They don't have columnists who are widely read anymore.  It is yet another pro-Lebanese Forces, pro-Hariri mouthpiece.  But Lebanon is on the verge of civil war and An-Nahar is busy about the danger of translations of the Bible that try to appease Muslim religious doctrine. Kid you not.  (thanks "Ibn Rushd")

Was their a strike in Damascus yesterday?

Yesterday, I woke up to the news in Qatari and Saudi media that shops in Damascus, particularly in Suq Al-Hamidiyyah, were closed in observance of a strike that was called in solidarity with Hula victims.  But I was suspicious because the Al-Arabiyyah (news station of King Fahd's brother-in-law) showed shops that were clearly not in Suq Al-Hamidiyyah and the sun looked pre-8:00 AM.  So I went to Facebook and asked my readers in Syria whether there was a strike in Damascus and in Suq Al-Hamidiyyah.  Out of the tens of answers, I can distill those answers:
1) Yes, there was a strike.
2) No, there was no strike and shops were open as normal.
3) Most of shop owners came from rural Damascus (Rif) where the armed groups are strong and they were threatened if they opened and had to comply, but later the Syrian Army came and told them to open.
4) A known observer in Syria, having read the various responses, wrote to me and said: Well, they were forced to close early on by the armed gangs of the Free Syrian Army who threatened to kill their families, and were later forced by the Syrian Army to re-open their shops.  

Why no mass rallies in Syria

"Some try to explain the absence of mass rallies by claiming that the tyrannical nature of the government prevents them, but this will not wash. In Egypt, the police, army and security forces under President Mubarak were far stronger than those under Assad in Syria today, yet they still could not prevent huge popular protests.  There has been nothing like that in Syria, for the reality is that the opposition does not represent the will of the people. Instead, it is a largely Islamist force that wants to end Assad’s attachment to secular rule, under which — for all the regime’s other failings — the rights of religious minorities are respected."  I think that the point of the absence of mass rallies is valid, and it should be pointed out that there were mass rallies in Hamah and Homs in the early months of the uprising.  One need to explain their absence in recent months and that requires an assessment of the performance of the armed opposition.  Not all opposition to Asad is Islamist although it is fair to say that the Islamist forces (from Ikhwan to the Bin Ladenites) have basically hijacked the movement and steered it in another direction which alienated and scared not only secular Syrians but religious minorities as well.  We should also point out that the armed Islamist forces of the opposition have already engaged in a large number of sectarian killings to increase the fear of minorities.

Gulf and oil propaganda in the Western press

Look at this piece about Qatari education in the BBC website.  It reads as if it was a paid propaganda piece for the Qatari government.  (thanks Mohammad)

Western-approved Jihad (or Jeeeeeeehad)

Basim sent me this:  "Whereas the Saudi/Qatari media regularly invent stories of Hizbullah or IRGC soldiers operating in Syira (tales reprised by the Western media), here a Lebanese openly brags about joining the FSA. Can you imagine the outcry if this guy was from from Hizbullah and felt compelled to fight for the regime? (the Security Council would probably meet in emegency session):
"QAA, Lebanon: Khaled had crossed the border from Syria less than an hour earlier, using routes controlled by armed Syrian rebels to reach the frontier from his base in Homs. Hidden inside a temporary two-room safe house in a remote area near Qaa, Khaled explained why he, a Sunni Lebanese from a village in the Bekaa Valley, had volunteered a year ago to join the Free Syrian Army, the main armed group fighting to overthrow the regime of President Bashar Assad.  “Today there is a need for jihad in Syria, a jihad for righteousness. It is a religious duty to help our Muslim brothers in Syria,” he says, his portly frame sitting on the edge of a narrow bed. In his late 40s and sporting a thick beard and wearing a black turban, Khaled is one of an estimated 300 Lebanese from the Bekaa Valley who have joined the revolt against the Assad regime.""

A double-agent Pakistani doctor?

"A Pakistani doctor who helped the United States find Osama bin Laden was imprisoned for aiding militants and not for his links to the CIA, as Pakistani officials had said, according to a court document."

Le pen

Adam sent me this:  "Marine Le Pen's goons have been circulating a leaflet with arabic letters in the city of Henin-Beaumont, where she competes against Jean-Luc Melenchon for the parliamentary elections. The leaflet first quotes Melenchon saying "No future for France without Maghreb's arabs and berbers" and then says to vote for Melenchon in a very bad Arabic. Just imagine if the letters were in hebrew and the quote about the Jewish community. The national front would already have been banned and Marine Le Pen would be invisible."

House of Saud wants the bomb

"Former senior U.S. diplomat Dennis Ross confirmed for the first time on Tuesday night that Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has explicitly warned the U.S. that if Iran obtains nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia will seek to do so as well. “If they get nuclear weapons, we will get nuclear weapons,” Abdullah told Ross during a meeting between the two in April 2009. Ross said he responded to the King’s assertion with a lengthy appeal against nuclear proliferation, but after hearing him out, the king responded by repeating the same line: “If they get nuclear weapons, we will get nuclear weapons.”"  (thanks Stanley)

CIA gambit

"As an intelligence operation, it must have seemed like pure genius: Recruit a Pakistani doctor to collect blood samples that could identify Osama bin Laden’s family, under cover of an ongoing vaccination program. But as an ethical matter, it was something else.  The CIA’s vaccination gambit put at risk something very precious — the integrity of public health programs in Pakistan and around the globe. It also added to the dangers facing nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in a world that’s increasingly hostile to U.S. aid organizations.  What’s gotten attention in America is the plight of Dr. Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani physician who helped the CIA through his vaccination campaign in the tribal areas and the nearby province where bin Laden was hiding. The doctor was sentenced last week to 33 years in prison for treason, prompting indignant protests from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  U.S. officials shouldn’t treat the Afridi case simply as outrageous behavior by Pakistan. They’re right that the doctor’s actions weren’t treasonous: He was seeking information about terrorist leaders who were Pakistan’s enemies. I hope he’ll be released, but in any event Afridi and his handlers should reckon with the moral consequences of what they did.  Here’s the painful truth: Some people may die because they don’t get vaccinations, suspecting that immunization is part of a CIA plot. The rate of polio infection is rising in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, in part because people believe conspiracy theories about vaccination. If the spread can’t be reversed in these three countries, warns a recent World Health Organization report, “polio eradication will fail.”
Among the organizations concerned is Save the Children, the biggest foreign-aid agency in Pakistan. According to the New York Times, Afridi told Pakistani authorities he was first contacted by the CIA through Save the Children, a claim that the organization denies. The Times reported that, after Afridi’s arrest last July, the NGO’s staff had been monitored by Pakistani intelligence and shipment of its medical supplies had been held at the border. A spokesman said Tuesday that the group hasn’t had any problems in recent months.  The potential danger for health workers was outlined in a Feb. 21 letter to CIA Director David Petraeus from Samuel A. Worthington, the president of an alliance of 200 NGOs that operate abroad. He warned: “Since reports of the CIA campaign first surfaced last summer, we have seen a continued erosion of U.S. NGOs’ ability to deliver critical humanitarian programs in Pakistan as well as an uptick in targeted violence against humanitarian workers. I fear the CIA’s activities in Pakistan and the perception that U.S. NGOs have ties with intelligence efforts may have contributed to these alarming developments.”  CIA spokesman Preston Golson, queried for this article, said he couldn’t comment on “any possible operational activity.” But he noted: “The agency is receptive to the views of the NGO community, and met with community representatives for a full and frank exchange on their concerns.”"

Another Lebanese genius

"Lebanese national Ibrahim Beitieh wins award for Best Public Prosecutor for 2012 in California, USA."   So I looked for evidence of this in the California media, and Ruba found this.  

Kidnappers of innocent people

I don't understand the cult around the gangs of the Free Syrian Army: like the Syrian regime army, the Free Syrian Army has a record now of kidnapping innocent people and holding them for ransom or whatever.  There is no qualitative difference between the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian regime army: both are specialized in attacking civilians and disregarding civilian lives.  Both should be excluded from the new Syria.

Libyans killed

So did anybody in the press account for the feverish propaganda lies and fabrications that preceded NATO intervention in Libya? What happened to the 100,000 civilians killed by Qadhdhafi's bombs?  What happened to the stories of mercenary armies?  What happened to the story of that woman who claimed she was raped and then fled to Qatar before she was deported again?  When Western governments plan or plot action against a developing country, Western media basically rent their pages and screens to Western governments to plant whatever propaganda stories they wish.  We see that over and over again.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Syrian regime censorship

Just to show you the standards of the Syrian regime.  Today, I learned that Ghassan Sa`ud, a writer in Al-Akhbar, has been banned from entering Syria although he is one of the few writers who supports the regime.

The candidate of the US (and counter-revolution) in Egypt

"But there was hope, he added: “The Egyptian people, contrary to the accusations, are obedient.”"

US in Bahrain

"Anti-government protesters chanted against Washington for the planned [arms] shipments, even though U.S. official say they do not include crowd control weapons. Hard-line government supporters, meanwhile, blasted the U.S. for its remarks about rights issues."  This lousy story makes it sound as if the US is neutral in Bahrain.  (thanks Basim)

Leon Panetta tells Pakistani what treason is

"The CIA secretly recruited the Pakistani doctor during the hunt for Osama bin Laden. He set up a fake vaccination programme, going from door to door in the northern town of Abbottabad, seeking a DNA sample from the house in which Americans suspected the al-Qaeda leader was living. On May 23rd Dr Afridi was sentenced in Pakistan, without a lawyer and under a hasty system of tribal justice, to 33 years in jail for treason.
Behind the scenes, Americans scrabbled but failed to reach a deal to free Dr Afridi from Pakistani custody. His activities were discovered by Pakistan’s spies after the American special-forces operation a year ago that killed bin Laden. Leon Panetta, America’s defence secretary, insisted Dr Afridi “was not in any way treasonous towards Pakistan”.
Working for a foreign intelligence agency is a crime in many places, including America. Pakistanis feel justified in punishing Dr Afridi. Although bin Laden was clearly an enemy of Pakistan, too, the American operation that killed him is seen as a national humiliation. The collapse in relations it sparked endures today (see article) .
Not only Pakistani nationalists are angry at the CIA for using Dr Afridi. It has also damaged the credibility of vaccination programmes in Pakistan, including the one against polio. NGOs condemn the ploy. The CIA is unrepentant."

Mubarak trial

" Why are Mubarak and other high-ranking former government members being tried in ordinary civilian courts while political activists are being tried in military courts?"

Zionist tools

I usually avoid mentioning those types: those handful of Arabs who do tours and gigs for Zionist entertainment.  I tell Arabs that they should be ignored.  Of course, Saudi media now take orders from Zionist handlers in the US--yes, I believe that and please call me conspiratorial--I mean that.  So someone called Noona Darwish was on Al-Arabiyya (the news station of King Fahd's brother-in-law) but she was interviewed by one of the few able journalists there, Hasan Mu`awwad.  He grilled her and it was a Zionist fiasco.  Her Arabic is halting, and he would ask her questions about things she said in her books and she would not be able to answer and clearly revealed that she did not write a word that is attributed to her (like the Cicero of Damascus: her English is atrocious but we are led to believe that he writes long articles for the New Republic).  She would make claims about Islam and she would not be able to back them up.  Mu`awwad would ask her for reference and she would hold a book to the camera but would not be able to even read from it or cite what she wants to say from it.  It was rather a comedy.  I don't think that Zionists had this in mind when they put her on the network.  I must say that Mu`awwad seemed very pleased to mock her for the entire show and expose her for what she is.  Ha.

Liberal Syrian opposition

Haytham Al-Malih, a liberal Syrian figure tells the mouthpiece of Prince Salman, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat, that he approves of the kidnapping of Lebanese pilgrims and that he told captors to not release them.  You want me to support those types?  You must be kidding me.

Saudi media invent news and the Guardian and others carry it

So Al-Arabiyya (the site of the news station of King Fahd's brother-in-law) invented one of its regular stories about major admission by a commander of Al-Quds Force of the IRG in which he talks about "presence" in Syria.  Such stories are daily in the website and they provide materials for jokes on Arabic twitter.  They often have commanders of the IRG saying wild things like: yes, we are terrorists and Iran should be bombed, etc.  The headline of the story did not even match the actual words attributed to him.  So the Guardian carried the story and Brian Whitaker circulated it on Twitter.  Then, Saudi media (like this mouthpiece of Prince Salman, Ash-Sharq Al-Aswat) publish stories attributing the story to the Guardian.  I love how how those incestuous propaganda outlets work when there is a propaganda fever in Western capitals.

Yet another anonymous Syrian opposition "leader" speaks to an Israeli newspaper

"The opposition leader, a former senior officer in the Syrian Army, spoke to Haaretz on conditions of anonymity. “I personally have no problem speaking to Israelis,” he said, “but our countries are still officially at war, and there are too many people who would try to use an interview to an Israeli paper to harm the opposition.”" But this time I was able to reveal his identity.  It is this guy.  

The Pakistani doctor who is hailed as a hero in the US Congress

I have been thinking about the case of the Pakistani doctor who is hailed in US Congress for aiding the US government by giving Pakistanis ineffective medicine to obtain DNA data from the Bin Laden household .  So I asked a friend who is a professor at the Harvard medical school about his opinion on the matter especially that he has been on various committees investigating ethical violations at major US medical centers.  He wrote me this (I cite with his permission):
"Are you kidding me? He would lose his medical license, his hospital admission and privileges, would be expelled from all medical organizations, and prosecuted and most likely jailed for a number of years.
So what did he do to deserve such a fate in the US?
He violated three major rules relating to medical practice: He conducted medical services under false pretenses, claiming to be who he is not. He gave an ineffective medicine (one shot of the Hepatitis B vaccine instead of three, thus giving his subjects false sense of security), and he violated his subjects privacy (in the US, the HIPPA rules), by sharing their information with a third party (the CIA) without the patients' knowledge or approval. This is aside from the issue of being a spy or that he and his organization has violated Pakistani laws regarding NGO function etc.
To my mind, it is sobering that the CIA went that low on this operation, abusing . But what is new?
Re the doctor, it is a grave scandal of utmost seriousness, and one that has not been addressed by the medical organs (New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, JAMA etc). But remember, the NEJM did not write anything about the issue of torture until mid 2004, and thereafter rather sparingly, considering the gravity of the situation (you can access the NEJM website at and search under torture. There are 42 publications over the last 10 yrs, maybe half relate to the terror wars [including correspondence]). Also, no doctor or medical staffer has ever faced disciplinary action because of involvement in torture related to the recent wars. So, you have a curious yet not surprising discrepancy of two different sets of policy practices applied within versus outside the US. The WHO should have been up in arms about it, but the criticism to my mind has been tepid."

Easy target: on the hypocrisy of Nasrallah

This is an easy target, especially when the writer has not one original idea or insight.  I mean, how brave it is to criticize Nasrallah on Aljazeera.  He thinks that he stumbled on some fresh idea, when Jeffrey Feltman has been saying the same thing for the last many months.  I don't understand what is new here, and Feltman should ask for royalties.  Is Nasrallah inconsistent?  Of course, he is, just as Qatar supports uprising in Syria but not Bahrain or Oman, or just as the US supports uprising in Syria but not in Egypt or Bahrain.  I mean, it is rather sad that the author thinks that he has something new here.  All sides in the Lebanese conflict are inconsistent and hypocritical given their regional alliances but notice that the author did not dare utter one word about the March 14 coalition (the rivals of Nasrallah in Lebanon): they support uprising in Syria but not in Bahrain or Egypt (when it was ruled by Mubarak, their ally)?  

Nasser: against peace with Israel

Yemen unity anniversary

Comrade Fawwaz on Yemeni unity anniversary.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Osman III

John Young:Othman (Osman) III (1699-1757) Sultan 1754-57, from A Series of Portraits of the Emperors of Turkey, 1808
Of all the Ottoman Sultans, Osman III was the most photogenic in my opinion.

Al-Hakim Bi Amr-il-Lah

He became caliph at age 11.  I am no fan of the man and he was very eccentric but he had a bad press by historians.  No need to get into it: no time.  

The West and the Rest

I have admitted to my secret pleasure of reading and enjoying the writings of Nial Ferguson, despite his conservative bent and his hostility to Arabs and Muslims, and his fanatic devotion to Israeli militarism.  But his last book, Civilization: The West and the Rest" is a shoddy piece of work that qualifies as a weak polemics against progressive ideas and movements.  Ferguson is a terrific writer who has an amazing ability to handle so much data without allowing the text or the narrative to be overwhelmed with it (just consult his book The World's Banker: The History of the House of Rothschild).  He is even careless in the book: his attack on the French Revolution is, well, silly.  Look how he talks about the guillotine for example.  He says that the Revolution's adoption of the guillotine was "a characteristically rationalist solution to the problem of how most efficiently to terminate a human life". (p. 152)  He is here extrapolating the Nazi calculations and mindset on the French Revolution.  This reference by Ferguson so disregards the fact.  The French Revolutionary Assembly in fact debated for months about the death penalty and only reached a conclusion (in favor) after agreeing to look for humane AND egalitarian methods of execution.  Prior to the guillotine, notables were killed with an ax, while the commoners were executed with most savage methods (wheels, hanging, burning at the stake, etc).  The Guillotine was NOT invented to allow for efficiency of execution as Furguson falsely claims but to make killing more humane and less painful--from the standpoint of those who debated the issue at the time.  He then talks about the violence of the French revolution but bizarrely ads the casualties of the Napoleonic wars to his count (p. 155).  French revolution was not as violent as is often assumed and its casualty figures (a few thousands) should be compared not to the American "Revolution" as Ferguson does, but to the American Civil War.  

PS You have to read the propaganda piece on Jerusalem in this book on page 93.  For him, Jerusalem was "liberated" by Israeli occupation forces and talks about how Israel is even threatened by Saudi Arabia.  When people invoke their Zionism advocacy in their writings (like Lewis and Ajami and others) they lose it completely and forget about the scientific method or even basic logic.

Carter is not bothered by electoral fraud having been a champion of Sadat, the anti-Semitic unrepentant Nazi dictator

""I don't think the mistakes and errors and improprieties that we have witnessed in the last few days will have a negative impact on the runoff," he told reporters. However, he stressed that his center is only able to make a "limited" judgment on the elections because of the limits on their mission."

Human Rights Watch plagiarizes from New York Times

Look at this passage: it has been used in Neir MacFarquhar's articles on the Hula massacre.  Human Rights Watch could not even notice how offensive to `Alawites and Shi`ites this passage is:  "All of the witnesses stated the armed men were pro-government, but they did not know whether they were members of the Syrian army or a pro-government militia, locally referred to as shabeeha. Houla’s towns, overwhelmingly Sunni, are surrounded by Alawite and Shia villages, and sectarian tensions have been high since last year."

Meet Ms. Nonoo

"After months of requests, Nonoo, 47, had finally consented to a one-on-one interview, the only one she granted to The Post during the writing of this article. Conditions: The interview could last only 30 minutes; a representative from Qorvis, a Washington lobbying and public relations firm, had to be in the room; and questions about her husband and two sons would not be allowed. The clock started ticking." (thanks Abdallah)

Iran sanctions

"In fact, a careful reading of the legislative text of the sanctions shows that the sanctions have very little to do with Iran's nuclear program and everything to do with regime change. For instance, the U.S. sanctions can only be lifted after the president certifies to Congress:

that the government of Iran has: (1) released all political prisoners and detainees; (2) ceased its practices of violence and abuse of Iranian citizens engaging in peaceful political activity; (3) conducted a transparent investigation into the killings and abuse of peaceful political activists in Iran and prosecuted those responsible; and (4) made progress toward establishing an independent judiciary.

Just in case those conditions are insufficiently implausible, the president has to certify further that "the government of Iran has ceased supporting acts of international terrorism and no longer satisfies certain requirements for designation as a state sponsor of terrorism; and [that] Iran has ceased the pursuit, acquisition, and development of nuclear, biological, chemical, and ballistic weapons."

Many U.S. allies, such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, could not satisfy all these conditions. So even if Tehran were to stop all uranium enrichment and dump all of its centrifuges into the Gulf and shutter its nuclear program entirely, Iran would still continue to be sanctioned by the U.S.

The irony of it all is that Iran is not currently doing anything that violates its legal right to develop nuclear technology. Even by agreeing to talks about suspending its 20% enrichment, Iran is showing a sign of good faith that it is not legally obligated to do.

Under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) – to which Iran is a signatory – it is not illegal for a member state to have a nuclear weapons capability – or a "nuclear option." If a nation has a well-developed civilian nuclear sector – which, of course, the NPT actually encourages – it, essentially, already has a pretty solid nuclear weapons capability.

Like Iran, Argentina, Brazil, and Japan also maintain a "nuclear option." They, too, could break out of the NPT and make a nuclear device in a few months. And like Iran, Argentina and Brazil also do not permit full "Additional Protocol" IAEA inspections."

Arabs and Iranians

Krim sent me this:  "From the blog of Lt Col Rick Francona (he was a NBC military analyst):

"In early 1988, the Defense Intelligence Agency prepared an assessment that concluded Iran would likely emerge victorious if the conflict continued another year. Present Reagan declared that an Iranian victory was unacceptable to American interests - he directed the Department of Defense to take steps to ensure that victory did not happen. The result was a Defense Intelligence Agency effort to provide intelligence information to the Iraqi Directorate of Military Intelligence. I was one of two officers assigned to execute this effort.  The effort was successful. With American intelligence information, along with the Iraqi use of modified Scud (al-Husayn) missiles and chemical weapons, Iraq was able to force the Iranians to accept a cease-fire in August 1988."
I can't believe that there are stupid Arabs and stupid Iranians that still think that America has either of their good in mind."

Zionist hypocrites

As if there have been more people than Zionists who worked for decades to stifle debates and to ban speakers and to veto attendances.   "“Anti-Israeli elements have embarked on a campaign of intellectual terror which rejects everything that academia believes in, meaning dialogue, discussions, research, understanding and freedom of speech,” she said.  “The use of bullying to silence freedom of expression in an academic setting is a very sad development. As the saying goes, ‘There’s none so deaf as those who will not hear.”" (thanks Daniel) 

Anti-Alawite bigotry in BBC

"If that is the case, it is possible the killers were drawn from a string of largely Alawite villages to the south of Houla region. Fearing reprisals, some residents there have apparently been donating blood to help the approximately 300 injured."   So Alawites can't be humanitarian and can't donate blood out of humanitarian impulses?  

Best beaches in the world

I concur with the number 1 beach selection.  Absolutely.

Saudi propaganda in the Guardian

I saw this link on Brian Whitaker's Twitter' page.  But this was borrowed from the Saudi website, Al-Arabiyya (which posts and invents bizarre Iranian claims on regular semi-weekly basis).  And the headline does not go with the alleged statement: it makes it sound like the guy in question admitted a presence of the troops.  1) Why would the Syrian army which is experienced in killing people need the help of the Iranian troops; 2) why would a non-brain damaged commander of the Quds Force admit to such a thing, if true, publicly? 3) Why would the claims on Saudi websites--known for a long record of inventions and fabrications--be relied on for anything? 4) Did you notice that the Guardian writer cited an Israeli expert on Iran?  Would the Guardian ever dare cite an Iranian expert on Israel in articles dealing with Israeli politics?  

Hostages in Syria

No Western attention to Lebanese hostages taken by Free Syrian Army gangs in Syria.  Meanwhile, Amal thugs in Lebanon continue to attack Syrian workers in Lebanon.  

Lebanon on the brink (II)

My latest blog post for Al-Akhbar English:  "Lebanon on the Brink, II"  (French translation).

Zionism is always racism

"Yet for the four years he applied to all five of Israel's medical schools, Hijazi was repeatedly rejected. Officials told him he kept failing the pre-admission personality interview, but the 25-year-old Arab Israeli suspects another reason: He believes that recent changes in the enrollment process are designed to discourage non-Jewish applicants.  "And it works," said Hijazi, 25, who is now pursuing a medical degree in Poland.  High enrollment in medical schools has long been a rare success story for Israel's 1.6 million Arab Israelis, who complain of discrimination by the government in many spheres of their lives.  Nationwide, an estimated 19% of medical school students are Arab, according to a 2009 parliamentary study. The ratio is in line with Israel's Arab population, which is about 20%, and is impressive considering Arabs account for just 9% of the total number of university students and about 6% of government employees.  Arab activists say the rising number of Arabs in medical schools over the last two decades has alarmed Israeli officials and led to an effort to restrict enrollment."

The treaty

"The peace treaty remains a lynchpin of US/Middle East policy and, despite its unpopularity with many Egyptians, was staunchly upheld by President Hosni Mubarak until his overthrow last year in a popular uprising."

BBC lies and fabrications

"Photographer Marco di Lauro said he nearly “fell off his chair” when he saw the image being used, and said he was “astonished” at the failure of the corporation to check their sources.
The picture, which was actually taken on March 27, 2003, shows a young Iraqi child jumping over dozens of white body bags containing skeletons found in a desert south of Baghdad.  It was posted on the BBC news website today under the heading “Syria massacre in Houla condemned as outrage grows”.  The caption states the photograph was provided by an activist and cannot be independently verified, but says it is “believed to show the bodies of children in Houla awaiting burial”.  A BBC spokesman said the image has now been taken down."

Who do I believe on Syria?

I woke up and saw pictures on Facebook from opponents of the Syrian regime showing what is alleged to be closure of shops in Damascus in protest against the Syrian regime.  Yet, on pro-Syrian regime, NBN TV (of the Amal movement), I saw pictures of lively markets.  Where do I go to get the truth in Syria?  Well, I know that I go to the New York Times to sample the latest lies and fabrications.

Hamdin Sabbahi and the educated youth of Egypt

I noticed that Western media did not bother to write about the political significance of the strong showing of leftist Nasserist candidate, Hamdin Sabbahi.  I was looking at the voting behavior in Egypt and it is very significant that he did very well among various parts of Egypt (less so in rural area).  I will have to write something about that this week.  And if you look at the vote some 3/4 of Egyptians voted against the Mubarak regime (and against Israel, of course).  Even Shafiq was speaking against Israel in his campaign. 

Bashshar is still missing

What is amazing about Bashshar Al-Asad is the extent to which he is missing.  He has time to hold long meetings with insignificant Lebanese pro-Syrian regime politicians but has no time to address the Syrian people.  He either does not care or has become politically insignificant--from what I hear.  He has become a puppet of the Russian government which now runs the show.  My mother (who supports the regime) commented to me about the press conference of Jihad Maqdisi (the spokesperson of the Syrian Foreign Ministry): she normally is impressed with the language skills of Maqdisi but told me that he was very unconvincing in his explanations about the Hula massacre and that he failed to provide any evidence.  One Lebanese politician who supports the regime told me in a phone call a few months ago that he could not believe that Bashshar would not bother to address the Syrian people about what is happening.  

Angry Arab's Afro

This is from my 1974 (I was 14 years old).  It may be the only surviving picture of me in Afro.  This was posted by my childhood friend, Amthal Isma`il, on the Facebook group of my high school class at IC in Beirut.  The man from right is Amthal Isma`il, and Basim Qattan (of Washington DC now) is in the middle.   I miss the days when my hair grew upwards in the skies.  

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Syrian army shoot at Lebanese

New TV reports that the defeated Syrian regime army shot and killed or injured Lebanese civilians in Kafar Quq near Rashayyab.

Clients of Russia?

"“The Russians now consider President Assad a liability,” said Dimitri K. Simes, a Russia expert and president of the Center for the National Interest in Washington. “But Putin doesn’t like having his clients removed one after another by the United States, and he considers Assad his client.”"  So Mr. Smies: were Bin Ali, Mubarak, Salih, and Hamad all clients of Russia?  And when Qadhdhafi was overthrown, was he closer to US or to Russia? Enlighten us, please. 

Lies of Neil MacFarquhar

In every article on Syria, MacFarquhar inserts this sentence:  "The Syrian government blamed “terrorists,” its catchall phrase for the opposition..."  1) Just yesterday the Syrian government's foreign ministry spokesperson, Jihad Al-Maqdisi, clearly refuted this notion and spoke about "intellectual opposition" to the Syrian regime.  2) While it is true that the lousy Syrian regime Pavlovianly blames acts of violence that it perpetrates on unnamed "armed terrorist gangs", the Free Syrian Army gangs do the same by blaming acts of violence of their own making on `Alawite "armed thugs".  

Burhan Ghalyun: the advocate of kidnapping

Burhan Ghalyun, who was recently ousted from leading the lousy Syrian National Council, initially said that the Lebanese pilgrims were kidnapped by gangs of the Syrian regime.  But when it became clear that gangs of the Free Syrian Army were the party that kidnapped the Lebanese pilgrims, Ghalyun lied again and changed his tune: he said today that the kidnapped were agents of Hizbullah.  So the agents of Hizbullah decided to travel with their wives, and some of those agents are in their 60s, and were from Amal movement?  And you want me to believe this guy and his claims about anything?

PS Of course, lies of the exile Syrian opposition or of the FSA never get exposed in the Western media.  

If Muslims did that

"It appears not everyone “liked” Mark Zuckerberg’s surprise announcement last weekend.Following Zuckerberg’s marriage to his longtime girlfriend Priscilla Chan on Saturday, the 28-year-old Facebook founder and CEO received a letter from Benzi Gopstein, head of the Lehava Organization for the Prevention of Assimilation in the Holy Land that criticized his intermarriage, according to Israel National News.Gopstein, who refers to Zuckerberg in the letter by his Hebrew name, Mordechai, writes that he didn’t “like” Zuckerberg’s wedding announcement on Facebook unlike the over 1.5 million others that did." (thanks Shihadeh)

When US government assassinates

"There are a couple of factors to this, Amy. I think one is, the suggestion that the recommendation of who to have on the assassination list is going to come from other entities. The AP describes it as coming from other agencies, possibly the State Department. But that means it’s coming from people that aren’t the special forces guys on the ground in Yemen. It may mean—and we’ll get back to this, but it may mean that it’s coming from Saudi Arabia. The other thing is, it’s unclear whether these assassination strikes are going to be overseen by the Senate intelligence community or by the armed services committees. In other words, it doesn’t—it’s unclear whether—what kind of oversight there will be. And since the Congress has a very difficult time subpoenaing or getting testimony from the National Security Council, it may mean that there is much less oversight for what’s going on." (thanks Shih-Yu)

Sons of Zayid voted for Amr Musa

Basim sent me this: "
It's nice to see The National take such a random, unbiased sampling of Egyptian popular opinion:    
Yahia Abdelajawad Almutwaili, a 39-year-old Egyptian waiter in Abu Dhabi, said he believed the election would move Egypt forward. "I voted for Ahmed Shafiq four days ago at the embassy," he said. "We need someone to take Egypt forward to democracy and he is the one to do it." 
Many Egyptians expressed a preference for Amr Moussa, the former foreign minister and former secretary general of the Arab League. "Initially, I expected Amr Moussa to win but it's not looking like that at all," said Andrew H, a 29-year-old Egyptian living in Dubai. "He's the most well-rounded person and he has experience outside Egypt so he can communicate with other countries," said Mr H. "He won't make silly decisions either." 
That feeling was echoed by the Abu Dhabi resident Tamer Ahmad, 30. "Amr Moussa is the perfect candidate because he has previous knowledge of the country and I'm 80 per cent sure he will win," he said. 
For Mohammed Elbatanouni, a 30-year-old Egyptian resident in Dubai, the pride of taking part in his country's presidential election was overwhelming. "I voted for Amr Moussa on Thursday and the whole organisation was very impressive." 
"... Amr Moussa knows the country inside out," he said. "He knows how to deal with it internally and externally. He knows Egypt's economy and he's been in action for 20 to 30 years." 
"And although Shafiq was appointed prime minister by Mubarak in the bad days, his work is positive and his plans are good." 
He stood by his vote for Moussa, believing his plan for Egypt would be successful. "He's a guy that has a great plan for the country on how to take it forward. He's not greedy and he just wants to be in charge for one term, which is four years," said Mr Elbatanouni. "Whether it's education, health or the economy, he has the best plan for Egypt.""

How the British milk Arabs

Nu`man sent me this:  "How the British milk Arabs. BAE "won" a contract from the unelected Saudi clan worth £1.9bn. A billion in England is a million million and not as in the USA where it is a thousand million. BAE has said that this has saved 218 British jobs. Each worker in effect has received 8 thousand 715 million 596 thousand 3 hundred and 30 pounds from the Saudi clan to keep him in employment: that is £8,715,596,330."

OK. I was careless in posting this. A billion in the US is a billion there (but in Lebanon where a billion is 5 dollars only). Sorry. But the words are not mine, and some people don't get irony even if it hits them in the face.  Why blame me for the slow-witted among readers out there?

Covering Syria

In a debate on my Facebook about my coverage of Syria, one reader provided this comment (and I don't know if this is true or not and I don't even know what MSM stands for):
"out of 820 posts since Feb, around 190 (<25%) were on Syria's Uprising
65 attacked SNC/FSA/MB
45 attacked MSM Reporting on Syria
10 praised specific opposition figures
30 were about regime media fabrications and lies
35 were uncompromising against the Regime
13 tackled both sides"".  

PS A reader posted this in response to a claim by another reader that 99% of my posts are against the Syrian exile opposition and that only 1% are against the regime.  MSM is a reference to mainstream media I am told.

massacres in Syria

Akram sent me this:  "The "Arab" Syrian Army and the "Free" Syrian Army are exchanging massacres in what seems to be a fevered race concerning who can kill the largest number of Syrians. The match is taking place in the Province of Homs.  
In Al-Houla (Homs), at least 92 civilians, 32 of them were children were killed in an artillery and tank bombing by the the Syrian Army (read here
and you can watch this video and more others)
In another two villages in Homs, Al-Shumaryiah and Teldo, the Free Syrian Army committed a massacre against many families
It's worth to mention that the sole source of information regarding Al-Shumaryiah/Teldo massacres was the Syrian news agency Sana who in turn, turned blind-eye on Al-Houla one.
I'm writing this trying hard (for the first time) not to cry... Children bodies.... more than what I can bear.... "

Festival of racism in Tel Aviv

Finally, the LA Times covers the racism festival in Tel Aviv but look at the picture in the article and look at the caption under it.  And racist crimes against them are now labeled "cold shoulder".  

Let me guess: Karzai is angry and NATO will investigate

"Afghan authorities said Sunday that an airstrike by the U.S.-led NATO coalition killed eight members of a family in eastern Afghanistan.   The coalition said it was aware of the allegation and was investigating the incident late Saturday in Paktia province."

Killing their people by drones

"Iraq is buying unmanned drones from the United States to help protect its southern oil platforms as the OPEC nation ramps up production after the withdrawal of the last American troops, U.S. and Iraqi officials said on Monday."

Hula Massacre

How can I comment on developments in Syria anymore? I simply disbelieve the Syrian regime and the exile Syrian opposition groups: both have a proven record of criminality and massacres and lies and fabrications.  There were people who asked me to write on the case of Zainab Al-Humsi, on whom long articles were written in the Western press and exile opposition propaganda outlets provided vivid accounts of her death, only for Zainab to appear (alive) on Syrian regime TV.  I learned my lesson: don't trust any news on Syria that comes from either the exile opposition media outlets or from the media outlets of the Syrian regime and its allies (Hizbullah or Iran or pro-Syrian regime groups in Lebanon).  Neither of the two sides want truth and both sides want to lie and fabricate to cover up their crimes and to stigmatize the other.  Of course, Western media with very few exceptions simply reproduce propaganda claims by the exile opposition groups.  One of the worst reporters on the Syria matter has been Neil MacFarquhar who even reproduces rumors from his exile opposition sources.  On Hula, MacFarquhar blamed the regime and then added:  "Activists said that much of the slaughter had been carried out by pro-government thugs, or “shabiha,” from the area. Houla is a Sunni Muslim town, while three villages around it are mostly Alawite, the religion of Mr. Assad and whose adherents are the core of his security forces. A fourth village is Shiite Muslim."  So by his account, `Alawites and the minuscule Shi`ite community are to blame.  But if the Army was responsible for the massacre, why would there be a need for the "armed thugs" of the `Alawite and Shi`ite community in the area.  MacFarquhar in his blame (derived from the sectarianism of the exile opposition groups) is now responsible for whatever will befall the innocent `Alawites and Shi`ites in the area.  If the paper carried such blanked condemnation of a minority Jewish community in any Arab country, he would have been fired and ethical committees would have been formed to investigate his professional violations.  His rumor article about the poisoning of Asaf Shawkat should be read in journalism school as example of shoddy journalism or as an example of National Inquirer's methods and style.   Yet, buried in long articles in the New York Times about Hula is this reference:  "Gen. Robert Mood, the head of the United Nations observer mission in Syria, said in a statement that “the killing of innocent children and civilians needs to stop,” but added that the circumstances behind all the deaths remained “unclear.”"  That was left uncommented on and MacFarquhar, in a method that has become familiar on Syria added:  "Saleem Kabani, an activist reached via Skype who said he was in the town, said that government forces had shelled Houla heavily all day Friday, also raking it with machine-gun fire and firing mortar shells."  Of course, the government given its bloody and war criminal record (under Hafidh and now under Bashshar), can easily be responsible for this massacre.  It has no moral scruples or ethical factors that would prevent it from perpetrating such a crime.  But as one friend (Amer), wrote to me about it:  "No version I heard makes sense, the amount of lies makes it impossible to know the truth: bombing? slaughter? army? villages raiding each other? these things cannot happen all at the same time."  So according to exile accounts, the Army shelled the area and then after killing the innocent civilians sent its armed thugs to kill them again?  War crimes are being committed in Syria and the regime remains more responsible because it is the official authority in the land and its mandate includes the promise of protecting the population.  The regime also controls the country although the Secretary-General of the UN now admits that Free Syrian Army gangs control major sections of cities and towns.  There are no independent sources on Syria: all accounts are based on this lying-criminal side or the other.  If the regime is not responsible for the massacre (as it claims), there is evidence that it has committed massacres elsewhere.  And if the Free Syrian Army is not responsible in this crime, it has committed crimes elsewhere.  The Syria conflict is one of the most intense regional-international war that the Middle East has seen in years if not decades, and the duty of all analysts is to provide commentary and analyses that are not tinged with the propaganda interests of this side or the other.  But the Syrian regime denial is made even less credible with the promise of an investigation commission.  When the Ba`thist regime announces the formation of such a commission, you know that it is lying and that it won't tell the truth.  But the Western media are clearly in their coverage, covering up for the Free Syrian Army and its crimes.  This is a group of gangs that are resorting to murder, extortion, and kidnapping.  The kidnapping of Lebanese pilgrims produced not one denunciatory article in the Western press.  Sectarian killing seems to be on the increase and Syrian conflict may increasingly look like the War of the Mountain in 1982-83.  In such wars, there are no clean hands and no innocent sides and no truthful parties.  The conflict in Syria may increasingly look like "war of all against all", and Saudi Arabia and Qatar (and their Western sponsors) have invested in such a scenario.  The Syrian people will continue to suffer and to be killed by both sides to this conflict that was not on their agenda when they launched their early popular and admirable uprising.  

Saturday, May 26, 2012

evidence of fraud mounting in Egypt

Calls for investigations.

Egyptian elections

"In the Islamist stronghold of Alexandria, the two Islamist candidates, Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh and Mohamed Morsi, managed only 37% between them. In areas of the delta long considered to be the Brotherhood's electoral fortresses, their official candidate trailed second, third or even fourth. And in the sprawling, informal Cairo neighbourhood of Imbaba – known as the "Islamic emirate of Imbaba" in the early 1990s, when Egypt's government sent in the army to clear out what they believed had become a state-within-a-state for Islamic militants at the heart of the Egyptian capital – secular nationalist Hamdeen Sabahi romped home to victory. Several contradictory trends are becoming apparent within Egyptian electoral politics, but none of them represent an unreconstructed return to a timeless status quo."

PS Notice that Hamdin Sabahi is not referred to as Nasserist Arab nationalist with a leftist agenda. That is too spooky for the Western press.  

The Afghan occupation puppet wants some respect

"Most of the contentious parts of the pact, which could have seen the obstructive parliament reject the deal, had earlier been removed and dealt with separately, including giving Afghans control of controversial night raids on homes and prisons used to detain insurgents."

rendition project

Joerg from Germany sent me this:  "there is a new website which tries to document CIA renditions. 45 countries are involved:
I found the information here:
"By bringing all the data into one place, The Rendition Project is uncovering the sheer extent of the global network of secret prisons and torture which grew up after September 2001, and the direct and indirect involvement in this by many countries across the world,” stated Dr Sam Raphael, from Kingston University, UK.  During the next months the teams at Kingston University and Kent University will publish the data in a consolidated data base in an open format, and will be adding further analysis thus enabling researchers and lawyers to link precise flight records and other evidence with the cases of individual victims and countries."


"A number of Israeli companies have recently won UN tenders for reconstruction projects in the Gaza Strip, enraging Palestinian contractors who claim they were outbid by the country that destroyed their infrastructure." (thanks John)

racist separation

" Israeli settlers east of the separation barrier in the central West Bank occupy the land most critical for any future final status agreement under a two-state solution. But instead of limiting settlement expansion, critics say the Israeli authorities are setting a dangerous precedent by legalizing new outposts and undermining the law. God gave us this land 3,000 years ago,” an Israeli bus driver said on the way from Jerusalem towards the Israeli settlement of Psagot. “This land is ours. It’s not for the Arabs,” he added, as the bus crossed from Jerusalem into the occupied West Bank, continuing its way through the rocky landscape east of Ramallah." (thanks Fred)

Festival of racism against blacks in Tel Aviv

Israeli media are full of coverage (often apologetic) about the festival of racism against blacks in Tel Aviv, while the New York Times did not bother to cover the story. Did any other US media cover it? 

Zionism is racism, always

"Wednesday’s looting is not the first time Amin has experienced violence since he opened the bar – a tiny, cozy place with pictures of Eritrea on the walls – a few months ago.  He described how a gang of Israeli teenagers burst into the bar two months ago, and then beat him and smashed bottles when he said they were underage and refused to serve them. Amin said he called the police, who photographed his bloody face and said they would try to catch the perpetrators. Since then, he hasn’t heard anything more.  On other occasions, he said, people have punched him as he walked down the street."

why do you call descendants of refugees?

"In a new statement given to The Cable Thursday, a State Department spokesman said that the U.S. government does, in fact, agree with UNRWA that descendants of refugees are also refugees."  He said that descended of refugees should be called tycoons.