Sunday, March 31, 2013


The language deficiencies of Western correspondents are staggering. They render the Syrian town of Da'il as "Dael".

Anne Barnard's love affair with plausible car bombs in Syria

" Some explosions are near plausible military targets, like the army headquarters adjacent to the engineering campus. But with weapons that are indiscriminate, many of the victims — like those killed in government airstrikes and shelling in rebel-held neighborhoods — have been noncombatants."

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Leaving to Colorado for a family emergency: back in a few days.  Blog may not be updated.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Israel's favorite Arab potentate

" Jordanian authorities should immediately charge or release five Al al-Bayt university students detained since March 12, 2013, after other students alleged they had desecrated a Quran and engaged in “devil worship” . The students, who deny the accusations and have neither been charged nor taken before a judge, were assaulted by a crowd of other students, and their attackers should be brought to justice, Human Rights Watch said."

Le Monde on French role in Africa

From Eric: "In this eight-paragraph summary in Le Monde of recent events in the Central African Republic, we find out only in the third paragraph that the French state has asserted its sovereignty over the country by taking military control over Bangui M'Poko International Airport, and it is only in the fourth paragraph that any mention is made of the airport incident in which French troops opened fire on several cars carrying Indian and Chadian nationals, killing two and wounding nine: "Lundi soir, le ministère de la défense a précisé que les forces françaises chargées de la protection de l'aéroport de Bangui avaient fait feu lundi sur des véhicules qui tentaient d'y pénétrer, tuant deux ressortissants indiens et blessant plusieurs personnes, indiennes et tchadiennes. "Regrettant profondément ce drame", le ministre Jean-Yves Le Drian a demandé une enquête visant à en déterminer les circonstances exactes, a précisé le ministère.""

GCC set to regulate abuse of maids

"A unified GCC system that governs household workers’ recruitment and work would strengthen the position of member states in negotiations with labor-exporting countries, said Saad Nahar Al-Baddah, chairman of the Foreign Recruitment Committee. Among the “recent issues” Al-Baddah indicated are the housemaids on death row after killing their employer.
Sahar Al-Kabi, chairperson of the human resources committee at the Federation of GCC Chambers, said it is necessary for the ministers to form regulatory decisions to tackle the increasing number of issues related to household workers in the region and deal with exporting countries’ attempts to impose their conditions." (thanks Basim)

"Revenge of the migrants' employer?"

"The current prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, who is Sheikh Mujiib’s daughter, has brought back an explicitly secular constitution under which religious politics has no space. It will not have escaped the Saudis’ notice that Bangladesh’s foreign minister likened the Jamaat, a close ally of theirs, to a terrorist organisation in a briefing with diplomats in Dhaka on March 7th. (Her office forwarded it along to journalists the same day.) Meanwhile, Sheikh Hasina’s government is weighing whether it ought to go the whole distance and ban the Jamaat.
Another flight of executions might stand in the way of this age-old migration across the Arabian sea. In 2011 Saudi Arabia publicly beheaded eight Bangladeshis for their alleged involvement in an armed robbery in which an Egyptian security guard was killed. (Never mind that in 2012, a speedy tribunal in Dhaka sentenced five Bangladeshis to death by hanging for the killing of a Saudi diplomat in Dhaka. Even by the principle of an-eye-for-an-eye, Bangladesh’s executions would be judged to fall short.) If, as is widely expected, the entire leadership of the Jamaat is found guilty in the ongoing war-crimes trials in Dhaka, they could be sent to the gallows this year." (thanks Mohammad)

revolutionary organization in Egypt

Comrade Tamim on the need for a revolutionary organization in Egypt. (thanks Yusuf)

Qatar's foreign minister

(thanks Ali)

The Bin Laden Brigade

"There are "hundreds" of Europeans now fighting in Syria, some of whom are with groups linked to al Qaeda, the Home Office told MPs. The British-born jihadis are said to have joined the fight with Jabhat al-Nusra, the country’s most militant al-Qaeda gang. The fighters have come from range of ethnic backgrounds include young Asians, converts to Islam and men from north African backgrounds."

A plot to intimidate the pro-Palestinian activists at UCU failed

"A lengthy legal battle between the University and College Union (UCU) and Ronnie Fraser, a college lecturer and 50 percent of pro-Israel pressure couple Academic Friends of Israel, has ended with a complete victory for UCU. Fraser, represented by lawyer and prominent Engage-nik Anthony Julius, had accused the union of antisemitic harassment, connected with its record of pro-Palestinian activism and advocacy. An employment tribunal dismissed the claim. The tribunal's judgement is detailed, considered, and hilarious." (thanks Amir)

Who is afraid of whom in Jerusalem?

Jamal sent me this:  "Palestinian arrested in Jerusalem today in Jerusalem. Now tell me, who's really in control and who's afraid?"

Ahmad Mu`adh Al-Khatib

The man is not in power yet and yesterday he requested NATO military intervention in Syria.  What will he request if he comes to power?  Will he seek NATO intervention to end the dangers of Facebook and masturbation (two dangers he spent years railing against)?

death by crucifixion

"A Saudi public prosecutor is pushing for the death sentence in the case of a detained Shia cleric from Qatif, local media reported Tuesday. The prosecutor is seeking to apply the punishment of heraba, death by crucifixion, against Sheikh Nemer al-Nemer, a firebrand preacher who was arrested in July 2012 after a car chase in the town of Awwamiya in the Eastern Province." (thanks Michele)

Israel in Lebanon

"Israel has invaded Lebanon three times in the past three decades, and continues to occupy Lebanese land. Israel daily violates Lebanese airspace, maritime borders and land borders. It also continues to deny the internationally recognized right of return to the over 400,000 Palestinian refugees who live in horrible conditions in refugee maps throughout Lebanon. All of this is before we even get to the fact that Israel is a settler colony occupying historic Palestine, one that treats Palestinians and Arabs as less human than their Israeli counterparts.  In short, Israel is responsible for much of the ongoing destruction, death and suffering in Lebanon."

a maid in Saudi Arabia

Saudi human rights activists are circulating this picture of a maid squeezed at the back of a car. (thanks Hani)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The irony about the King of Jordan

It is fair to say that one of the dumbest Arab rulers, the king of Jordan, has the best press in the Western media--all because he speaks unaccented English.

they are both dirty in Syria

“I know that I am going to be killed either by the regime or by the Jabhat. There is no difference, they are both dirty.” (thanks Mirvat)

Israel prepares for a South Syria Army

"In Israel on Monday, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan was reported as saying his country should consider working with Syrians opposed to extremist Islamist battalions to create a “buffer zone” inside Syria to prevent extremists from controlling border areas.
General Golan told the Israel Hayom newspaper that Israel could work with “many hundreds” of Syrian fighters who share “a common interest” in checking the influence of extremists. He did not say whether Israeli troops would be involved, but compared the buffer zone to the border area inside southern Lebanon that Israel occupied for 15 years.
That occupation, however, bred great resentment in Lebanon and led to the rise of the militant group Hezbollah, which fought a guerrilla war against Israeli troops until they withdrew."

PS Notice that the Times reduced the number of years of Israeli occupation.  

So what is David Petraeus up to these days?

"He met not long ago in New York with Fouad Ajami, the Middle East scholar".  You honestly fault Arabs for subscribing to conspiracy theories?

Anthony Lewis and the first amdendment

Lest you think that I was too generous in my words about him.  I am aware of his political failings:
"In his final book, “Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment,” published in 2008, Mr. Lewis wrote that he was inclined to relax some of the most stringent First Amendment protections “in an age when words have inspired acts of mass murder and terrorism.” In particular, he said he might reconsider the conventional view that there was only one justification for making incitement a crime: the likelihood of imminent violence.
Mr. Lewis wrote that there was “genuinely dangerous” speech that did not meet the imminence requirement. “I think we should be able to punish speech that urges terrorist violence to an audience, some of whose members are ready to act on the urging,” Mr. Lewis wrote. “That is imminence enough.”
Much as he loved and admired the press, Mr. Lewis considered the courts to be the bedrock institution of American freedom.
“His lifelong faith in judges dominates his legal thinking,” Mr. Frankel said. “No matter how mistaken or craven” a court might be, he added, Mr. Lewis saw the judiciary “as the ultimate safeguard of our democracy.”"

Saudi-Qatari conflict and Syria

"What’s happening here, in part, is that Saudi Arabia and Qatar are conducting a decades-old battle for influence, using their contacts in the Syrian opposition as proxies. The two wealthy Gulf nations use their media outlets — al-Arabiya for Saudi Arabia and al-Jazeera for Qatar — to promote their different agendas. It’s a ruinous rivalry, reminiscent of the way Arab regimes once sponsored feuding warlords in Lebanon." (thanks Sultan)

How Western media covered the injurity of Riyad Al-As`ad

The propaganda purpose of Western media coverage of Syria has reached a mythical proportion.  It does not in any offer an improvement over the Qatari and Saudi media coverage of Syria.  When an assistant to the driver of a deputy to the clerk of a ministry defects, it receives headline coverage in Western media.  And yesterday, the commander of the Free Syrian Army was hit by a bomb under his seat while visiting Syria and there was not a single headline in the Western media. In fact, it is mentioned in passing in the New York Times.

When the Syrian armed rebels shell indiscriminately

Look how casually the Western media report the indiscriminate shelling by Free Syrian Army gangs.  Can you imagine the uproar and international reaction is those shells were sent by the regime (which is not above doing the same crimes of course)?  And do you notice that the UN withdrew its staff after the Sheraton was hit without identifying the culprits?  Can you imagine the reaction of the UN Secretary General if those shells were lobbed by the regime?  I mean, how ridiculous has the Western media coverage of Syria become?

236 days on hunger strike, yet no crocodile tears from western 'human rights' groupies

from a reader:  ""Palestinian prisoner Samer al Issawi is near death, according to doctors, after spending 236 days without food to challenge the Israeli policy of 'administrative detention', in which Palestinians are imprisoned for extended periods without trial."
Palestinians to Obama: Releasing Prisoners at Israeli Jails Requirement of Peace

The [Conservative/Liberal] racism that fuels the 'war on terror'

"Many Americans can (a) say that they oppose the targeted killings of Americans on foreign soil while simultaneously (b) supporting the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen because, for them, the term "Americans" doesn't include people like Anwar al-Awlaki. "Americans" means their aunts and uncles, their nice neighbors down the street, and anyone else who looks like them, who looks and seems "American". They don't think those people - Americans - should be killed without charges by the US government if they travel on vacation to Paris or go to study for a semester in London. But the concept of "Americans" most definitely does not include people with foreign and Muslim-ish names like "Anwar al-Awlaki" who wear the white robes of a Muslim imam and spend time in a place like Yemen." "I am suggesting that the belief that Muslims are somehow less American, or even less human, is widespread, and is a substantial factor in explaining the discrepancy I began by identifying." "This ugly mindset is not the only factor that leads the US public to support more than a decade of US killing and rights abridgments aimed primarily at Muslims, including their fellow citizens, but it is certainly a significant one."

women in magazines

"One curious thing about popular culture is that men's magazines and women's magazines often follow the same general formula. Men's magazines are mostly based around heavily eroticized images of women. And women's magazines are also based around heavily eroticized images of women." "The reason images in men's magazines often look like images in women's magazines is that, despite the different audiences, they are both doing more or less the same thing. They are making women sexual objects, and serving them up to satisfy, or more likely to provoke, the desires of their readers."

General Allen: U.S. troops will stay in Afghanistan

"Speaking in Washington, Allen said he had never been asked to produce a report on the so-called "zero option" – the suggestion that no American troops would remain after the 2014 deadline, floated by one White House adviser in January." "Speculation on the size of the force ranges from about 6,000 through to 20,000. Allen offered Obama various options about force size before retiring last month. He ruled out a full pullout, an option the White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes had said in January was on the table." "Sometimes this comes as a surprise when I say this: that on January 1 2015, there's still going to be fighting in Afghanistan," Allen said." (thanks Amir)


Blogging develops within the blogger to assume the cast of an OCD form. 

within hours, the Turkish alliance with Israel has been reactivated

"The prospect of a reconciliation between Turkey and Israel has paved the way for closer co-operation on Syria and removed a big obstacle to collaboration over the development of strategic energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean, officials on both sides say...." (thanks Nu`man)

the other side of the Syrian "revolution"

"Each evening, Ali Jamal and other men in this border town grab their Kalashnikov assault rifles, jump on their motorbikes and ride across the irrigation canal into Syria to protect their homes.
The enemies are Sunni rebel "terrorists," he says, who target Jamal and his neighbors because they are Shiite Muslims.
"Imagine, these people used to be our neighbors," said the 40-year-old farmer, perplexed by the transformation. "Now they want to kidnap and kill us."
Tensions gripping the villages along the border here between northeastern Lebanon and Syria illustrate the increasingly sectarian nature of the 2-year-old Syrian conflict and the risks it poses for the entire region.
The predominant narrative of the Syrian war is that of a tyrannical government largely run by members of a Shiite sect, the Alawites, brutalizing a people yearning for freedom.
However, in the largely Shiite towns and villages of Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, people who have fled Syria tell a different story. They speak of an "ethnic cleansing" campaign carried out by rebels intent on creating an Islamic state run by Syria's Sunni majority.
In the face of rebel attacks, Shiites in dozens of villages just inside Syria have fled here to a part of Lebanon dominated by the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, the villagers and Hezbollah representatives say. Those who have been displaced credit Hezbollah, which is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S., with providing shelter and security." (thanks Khelil)

Tunisian preacher wants a girl stoned for topless photo

From Adam: Following the age-old tradition of intrepreting "God's Law" to be whatever you want it to be.  " “According to God’s law, she deserves 80 to 100 lashes, but what she committed is worth much more than that. She deserves to be stoned to death and she must be quarantined because what she did is an epidemic.”
“She is like someone suffering from a serious and contagious illness and she must be secluded and treated,” he added."

"Syria: A photoshopped "revolution""

"Syria: A photoshopped "revolution" " (thanks Mohammad)

Muslim Sink in Tennessee: oh, no

'Building managers and legislative staffers have sought to reassure some concerned Tennessee lawmakers that recent renovations at the state Capitol did not install special facilities for Muslims to wash their feet before praying. “I confirmed with the facility administrator for the State Capitol Complex that the floor-level sink installed in the men’s restroom outside the House Chamber is for housekeeping use,” Legislative Administration Director Connie Ridley wrote in an email. “It is, in layman’s terms, a mop sink.”' (thanks Devan)

justice in the US

It is an odd kind of democracy when the status of marriage is decided by nine judges. 

King of Jordan

Are you aware how mocked the King of Jordan is in Arab summit? Are you aware how noticeable he is by his insignificance? He sits there nodding his head never have anything to say and then read from a text that has the phraseology of a UN translation from Chinese.

Anthony Lewis: an old fashioned liberal

I am not on the same side politically with Anthony Lewis: he was a liberal after all. But he was a true and sincere liberal: the old fashioned type.  He was humane and analytical but not as courageous as he should have been, especially on Palestine.  Of course, compared to Friedman and Kristoff, he is very courageous.  What I respect about him is that he genuinely listened to the natives and did not insert himself into stories (like Geraldo and Kristoff) and would have despised the antics of Kristoff when he takes off to "liberate" native women from their oppressors.  Finally, I respected that he grew on the job and became less enamored with the media orthodoxy, when most people become more enamored with the orthodoxy on the job.  On Palestine, he developed and mature but as if he had a built-in restraint that prevented him from going all the way. 

Ethical Criteria of the Syrian exile opposition

It is rather amusing.  According to the standards of the Syrian exile opposition (and their groupies in the Western media), a Syrian officer is a war criminal and corrupt thief who deserves to be executed.  But if he were to defect, within minutes he is transformed into a national hero who deserves honor and is a candidate for the revolutionary transitional government.  Are you kidding me?

So what do Shi`ite Twelvers think of `Alawites: agaisnt the misconeptions of the Arabic and Western media

I have been troubled by the many misconceptions about `Alawites in Western and Arab media: they all assume, for example, that Hizbullah's alliance with the Asad regime is purely sectarian, thereby forgetting the old conflict (on many levels) between Shi`ites and `Alawites.  And those ill-informed writers don't seem to explain the strong past alliance between Hamas and the same Syrian regime.  So I have been discussing this with a brilliant colleague who is my unofficial academic adviser on Shi`ite religious and historical matters.  So I asked him to elaborate on the differences between Shi`ite Twelvers and `Alawites. Unfortunately, he does not want to be quoted by name although he allows me to cite:

"There is a long history to the Twelver-Alawite question. I will try to sum it up without burdening you with theological minutia.
Within the body of Imami Shiism there existed, from very early times, what we may now term – though with obvious bias – ‘moderate’ and ‘extremist’ tendencies, mostly centered on the view of the status of the Imams. The ‘moderate’ tendency managed to gain the upper hand and eliminate certain groups of the extremist tendency from the pale of Imami Shiism, thus defining ‘orthodoxy’ within Imami Shiism. The eliminated groups, usually termed ‘ghulat’, are the intellectual ancestors of the Alawites of greater Syria. We find categorical formulas denouncing them as non-believers (kuffar) in the writings of the fathers of ‘orthodox’ Twelver Shiism during its formative period in the 10-11th century (e.g. Saduq, Mufid, Murtada and Tusi….).
Things continued to be like this for a long time, especially as anti-Shii dynasties came to power in greater Syria (Ayyubids, Mamluks and then Ottomans) whereas the Shia of Mesopotamia and Persia fared better under their ruling dynasties (Ilkhanids then Safavids). The rift between the two Shia groups grew wider with time due to the lack of communication.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, there was a ‘rediscovery’ of these forgotten Shia, i.e. the Alawites. Certain scholars in Najaf are responsible for that, probably due to some Alawites appearing in the holy city as students, after a long time of absence. From thereon, relations were revived, and correspondence between ‘orthodox’ Twelver scholars and Alawite religious scholars commenced, especially around the turn of the century (the main name from the Alawite side is Sulayman al-Ahmad, father of the renowned poet Badawi al-Jabal). Things developed further as the senior authorities in Najaf decided that they want to invest more in trying to ‘correct’ the beliefs of these forgotten Shia; the most important figure here is the Lebanese cleric Habib Aal-Ibrahim, whose progenyin Lebanon now go by the surname al-Muhajir. Thus, a new era in the Alawite-Twelver connection was inaugurated. After the Iranian revolution, and especially in the last two decades, there has been an influx of Twelver clerics into the Alawite community, spreading ‘orthodox’ Twelver teachings and practices.
From the standpoint of ‘orthodox’ Twelvers, the Alawites are Twelver Shiites who were led astray by the unfortunate circumstances of isolation and oppression for prolonged times. In a way, they view them as people who need be restored to the pale of true faith and delivered from ignorance. In this, ‘orthodox’ Twelver Shiites are ignoring the fact that Alawites are the intellectual heirs of a tradition within Shiism which is as old as the ‘orthodox’ tradition, it is neither a novelty nor a result of ignorance and isolation.
Many religiously educated Alawites protested this condescending attitude towards them. But part of the problem, I believe, has to do with the ambiguity of the Alawite representation of their creed. Probably due to oppression, a general sense of severe caution overwhelms any conversation on the matter, in addition to the unfortunate fact that many of the Alawites know not the basic points of doctrine. So whatever the majority believes and does is always open to question regarding its integrity as a reflection of what the Alawite creed dictates.
On the level of their status, this condescending attitude might have been a blessing. It is what enabled a cleric like Musa al-Sadr to judge Alawites as Muslims, on the grounds that the practices and beliefs of their masses – as far as it may be from both Sunnism and ‘orthodox’ Shiism - are due to ignorance. In that he relied on what their leading authorities asserted as their true beliefs. It is a delicate balance: technically speaking, an ‘orthodox’ Twelver jurist has to go by what the representatives of this sect tell him; if they renounce views that are the most problematic, both doctrinally (the divinity of Ali) and practically (the omission of ritual prayer and fasting), then the jurist must abide by the verdict that they are Muslims, regardless of other relatively minor objections. Having said all this, Musa al-Sadr must have been aware of the situation, and must have exploited the technicality in order to achieve political aims. If we go by the book, most ‘orthodox’ Twelver clerics would still judge the Alawites, based on the beliefs and practices of their masses, as non-believers (kuffar). 
If we want to reconstruct the theological narrative of the religious Alawites, it must be based on symmetrically biased terms. Instead of ‘extremist’ and ‘moderate’ Shiis, as used by ‘orthodox’ Twelvers, Alawites would use terms such as ‘full-fledged’ and ‘short-comers’ in reference to themselves and Twelvers, respectively.
This explains most of the story. Alawites, following their intellectual ancestors, believe that the practices of ‘orthodox’ Twelvers are too influenced by Sunni Islam; so much so that ‘orthodox’ Twelver Shīʿism has lost the distinctive character of being a shia, namely the veneration of the Imams. In underestimating the Imams’ status, ‘orthodox’ Twelvers have come short of their real religious significance. Equally condescending terms are used on the Alawite side to denote Twelvers and their ilk, such as the ‘poor’ the ‘weak’ believers. Twelvers, for Alawites, are definitely much more accepted than Sunnis, but their creed suffers serious deviations that need be fixed. Alawites and Twelvers are both far from fully accepting each other.
Whether Alawites consider themselves Muslims is a thornier question. As a matter of principle, I believe no one should be denied a religious label s/he is adopting, regardless of the person’s divergence from that label’s mainstream dictates. To address the particular case of Alawites, they do consider themselves Muslims. However, they are more keen on distancing themselves from Sunni beliefs than on asserting their Muslim identity, which leaves the impression that they repudiate Islam itself. Any assertion of theirs that seems otherwise is in fact saying that they are not Muslims if by Muslims one means Sunni Islam. Alawites, therefore, believe themselves to be the true Muslims. In this they are unlike, for example, Bahai’s who consider Islam to have become obsolete following the new call of Bahaullah and the advent of new age and religion."

Monday, March 25, 2013

When the King of Jordan Lets his hair down

My latest blog post for Al-Akhbar English:  "When the King of Jordan Lets his hair down".



You think your life is difficult?

On Qatar

Some people tell me that I don't criticize Qatar enough.  This guy in a Hamas website says that I am obsessed with criticizing Qatar. Which is which, damn it.

a brilliant classified idea

So as I was driving to work, I was listening to Fox News. They interviewed a Zionist from the Hoover Institution at Stanford.  He was talking about what Obama can do in the Middle East.  He recommended "classified" operations and policies in Syria.  That was hilarious.  So the man has brilliant ideas for US Middle East policies but they are classified.  So his brilliant and knowledge are classified. 

Iraq: before and after

Many Arabs have been circulating this picture on the anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq.

US will educate Syrians

" American promises to help shape a stable democracy in Syria have been met with skepticism by some Iraqi officials. In an interview late in 2012, Sheikh Humam Hamoudi, the chairman of the Iraqi Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, recalled a visit in September from A. Elizabeth Jones, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs. “What she said was that they would educate the Syrians on how to be a democracy,” Mr. Hamoudi said, adding with a hint of sarcasm, “just like what happened in Iraq.”"

Lebanese politicians on Facebook

It is revealed that Lebanese politicians pay for increasing the numbers of friends on Facebook and even pay for "likes" on Facebook. 

Mossad agent hanged self in suicide-proof cell after passing intel to Hezbollah

"In the process he came in contact with Hezbollah supporters, Spiegel said, and while trying to convince them to work for Mossad, disastrously spilled highly sensitive information.
This included the names of Lebanese nationals Ziad al-Homsi and Mustafa Ali Awadeh, who were arrested in May 2009 on charges of spying for Israel and later sentenced to several years of hard labour.
The report said Israeli security authorities had told Zygier after his arrest that they wanted to make an example of him and demanded a prison sentence of at least 10 years."

US-Israel badly surprised by the cost of "war against Hezbollah"

"Indeed, the records of the United States and Israel suggest that both countries tend to underestimate the prospective costs of the wars they enter. Washington paid fewer costs than expected during the Gulf War but faced a far higher bill than anticipated in Korea, Vietnam, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and the second war against Iraq. Israel suffered less in the 1967 Six-Day War than expected but was badly surprised by the costs of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1982 Lebanon war, and the 2006 war against Hezbollah."


"USAID's new development approach incorporates best practices used by other agencies, Shad said. He pointed to Peace Corps, which engages young volunteers to implement development projects, and to the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which mobilizes private capital to help solve development challenges. Another example is the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which conditions aid on a country's willingness to govern justly, promote a free market economy [by letting U.S. corporations easy access to developing worlds' natural resources] and invest in its people."

four new Israeli warships

"Lebanon -- with whom Israel has never settled its maritime boundary -- has declared that a portion of the Leviathan field falls into a 330-square-mile area that both countries claim as part of their protected economic zones. This dispute, along with Hezbollah's threat to attack Israeli gas platforms, has increased the burden on Israel's small navy. Until recently, the Israeli navy's primary strategic focus was on coastal defense and maintaining a blockade of Gaza. To equip the fleet for the protection of offshore gas rigs, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz have approved a plan to procure four new warships. Israel has also worked to expand political, military, and economic cooperation with other local stakeholders, particularly Cyprus. Since Cyprus signed a maritime border agreement with Israel in 2010, it has become the second main beneficiary of the gas boom. The island straddles Israel's most likely gas export route to European markets."

Given how much NATO loves Muslims, why is there no intervention in Burma?

"Photos and videos coming out of the central Burmese town of Meikhtila show rioting and attacks against Muslim-owned businesses, in the country's worst communal violence since last year's clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in the eastern part of the country."

The new propaganda is liberal

"Edward Said described this wired state in Culture and Imperialism as taking imperialism where navies could never reach. It is the ultimate means of social control because it is voluntary, addictive and shrouded in illusions of personal freedom." "Hollywood has returned to its cold war role, led by liberals. Ben Affleck's Oscar-winning Argo is the first feature film so integrated into the propaganda system that its subliminal warning of Iran's "threat" is offered as Obama is preparing, yet again, to attack Iran. That Affleck's "true story" of good-guys-vbad- Muslims is as much a fabrication as Obama's justification for his war plans is lost in PR-managed plaudits. As the independent critic Andrew O'Hehir points out, Argo is "a propaganda movie in the truest sense, one that claims to be innocent of all ideology". That is, it debases the art of film-making to reflect an image of the power it serves."

General McChrystal on suicide bombing

"The tactics that we developed do work, but they don't produce decisive effects absent other, complementary activities. We did an awful lot of capturing and killing in Iraq for several years before it started to have a real effect, and that came only when we were partnered with an effective counterinsurgency approach. Just the strike part of it can never do more than keep an enemy at bay. And although to the United States, a drone strike seems to have very little risk and very little pain, at the receiving end, it feels like war. Americans have got to understand that. If we were to use our technological capabilities carelessly -- I don't think we do, but there's always the danger that you will -- then we should not be upset when someone responds with their equivalent, which is a suicide bomb in Central Park, because that's what they can respond with." (thanks Amir)

Israel bombs a position for Syrian rebels

Amid all the sympathy and fake support for Syria's rebels, Israeli fighter jets bombed a position for the armed rebels near Golan yesterday.  How come there was not one voice of criticism in the West?

Why Israel and Turkey should be friends

" "I can think of a thousand reasons why Turkey and Israel should be friends; I cannot find one reason why they shouldn't be friends," Peres said in an interview with CNN Turk."

From Zainab Al-Khawaja in jail

This is a letter that Zainab Al Khawaja wrote from prison two days ago. (thanks Rosie)

irony about Syria

"Secretary of State John Kerry pressed Iraq on Sunday to do more to halt Iranian arms shipments through its airspace; he did so even as the most recent military cargo flight from Qatar for the rebels landed at Esenboga early Sunday night."

Of course, Karl Marx was right

"Tensions between economic classes in the U.S. are clearly on the rise. Society has been perceived as split between the “99%” (the regular folk, struggling to get by) and the “1%” (the connected and privileged superrich getting richer every day). In a Pew Research Center poll released last year, two-thirds of the respondents believed the U.S. suffered from “strong” or “very strong” conflict between rich and poor, a significant 19-percentage-point increase from 2009, ranking it as the No. 1 division in society.
The heightened conflict has dominated American politics. The partisan battle over how to fix the nation’s budget deficit has been, to a great degree, a class struggle. Whenever President Barack Obama talks of raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans to close the budget gap, conservatives scream he is launching a “class war” against the affluent. Yet the Republicans are engaged in some class struggle of their own. The GOP’s plan for fiscal health effectively hoists the burden of adjustment onto the middle and poorer economic classes through cuts to social services. Obama based a big part of his re-election campaign on characterizing the Republicans as insensitive to the working classes. GOP nominee Mitt Romney, the President charged, had only a “one-point plan” for the U.S. economy — “to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules.”
Amid the rhetoric, though, there are signs that this new American classism has shifted the debate over the nation’s economic policy. Trickle-down economics, which insists that the success of the 1% will benefit the 99%, has come under heavy scrutiny. David Madland, a director at the Center for American Progress, a Washington-based think tank, believes that the 2012 presidential campaign has brought about a renewed focus on rebuilding the middle class, and a search for a different economic agenda to achieve that goal. “The whole way of thinking about the economy is being turned on its head,” he says. “I sense a fundamental shift taking place.” (thanks Jinan)

The `Alawite conference in Cairo

Did people even see picture of this small gathering in Cairo? They were merely the entourage of Rif`Aat Al-Asad and were spirited in by Saudi intelligence.  Notice that this article makes no mention of Rif`at Al-Asad whatsoever:  "Another group of Syrian dissidents in exile, many of them Alawites — the same minority as Mr. Assad, his family and his inner circle — held a rare public gathering in Cairo to try to persuade more Alawites in Syria to abandon the government. One of the meeting’s aims was to dispel the widely held notion that Syrian Alawites, who make up roughly 13 percent of the Syrian population, all march in lock step with Mr. Assad.
Alawites at the conference said that the mainly Sunni opposition coalition had failed to reassure Alawites that they would be safe if Mr. Assad fell, and had done little to persuade Syria’s neighbors to shelter Alawites who decided to flee, several participants said."

The resignation of Mu`adh Al-Khatib: how the New York Times is unreliable in reporting on Syria

This is such a second hand article about the Syrian opposition.  The lack of language skills among New York Times correspondents (I know that the New York Times, aware of the Anne Barnard's lack of Arabic, has appointed an American who studied Arabic as her deputy) shines through.  1) No, the resignation of Al-Khatib was not a protest at Saudi intervention, as was said in the article, but against Qatari intervention, as most Arabic sources reported already.  2) the article did not mention that Al-Khatib said that he reached his decision after seeking Gods intercession (Istikharah in Arabic) in his decision.  Look how Western media are at pains to conceal the clerical kooky background of Al-Khatib--a man who devoted his entire career to supporting Al-Asad dynasty and to warning of the dangers of Facebook and masturbation and admiring Saddam Husayn for "scaring Jews".  3) The article did not mention that whole section of the leadership of the Syrian National Coalition has also resigned in protest against the domination of the Muslim Brotherhood.  Do people remember early on in the Syrian uprising when I spoke about the domination of the Muslim Brotherhood, people were saying that the Muslim Brotherhood is merely a 10% of the exile opposition? Who was lying then, and now?

Jordanian royal lies

"The director of cargo for Jordanian International Air Cargo, Muhammad Jubour, insisted on March 7 that his firm had no knowledge of any flights to or from Croatia.
“This is all lies,” he said. “We never did any such thing.”
A regional air traffic official who has been researching the flights confirmed the flight data, and offered an explanation. “Jordanian International Air Cargo,” the official said, “is a front company for Jordan’s air force.”
After being informed of the air-traffic control and transponder data that showed the plane’s routes, Mr. Jubour, from the cargo company, claimed that his firm did not own any Ilyushin cargo planes.
Asked why his employer’s Web site still displayed images of two Ilyushin-76MFs and text claiming they were part of the company fleet, Mr. Jubour had no immediate reply. That night the company’s Web site was taken down."

Lies about Syria in the Western media

What this article really reveals is that Western media were deliberately or ignorantly spreading the notion that Syrian rebels were desperate for arms and ammunition and that they were getting no external support whatsoever when tons (literally, tons) of shipments were arriving to them from as early as 2012.

Saudi-Zionist alliance: Bernard Lewis interviewed in the mouthpiece of Prince Salman

This is funny.  Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat, the mouthpiece of Prince Salman, interviews Bernard Lewis (in English by the way and not in Arabic, and I have never ever heard that Lewis gave an interview in Arabic) and treats him as a friend of the Arabs and Muslims.  But this is my favorite part of the interview:
*Through your long confrontations with the Middle East, professionally and culturally, who is your favorite contemporary writer in the Arab world?
-Rifa`ah Al-Tahtawi*

* من خلال مواجهاتك الطويلة مع الشرق الأوسط مهنيا وثقافيا، من هو كاتبك المعاصر المفضل في العالم العربي؟
 - رفاعة الطهطاوي

PS * Tahtawi died in 1873.

Media of Saudi princes

This is the media of Saudi princes: The mouthpiece of Prince Salman reports on its front page that the Saudi King went on a car ride. Kid you not. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

rumors about Syria

So the opposition spread a rumor that Bashshar was killed today, so the regime spread rumors that Riyad Al-As`ad of the FSA was killed today.  Lies and counter-lies.

Hitto rejected as an American: ha ha ha

This is hilarious: so the US-funded and US-trained armed gangs in Syria reject Hitto as a transitional prime minister because of his American appointment and citizenship.

Killing an Iraq story in the Washington Post

"The Washington Post killed my assigned piece for its Outlook section this weekend which mainly covered media failures re: Iraq and the current refusal to come to grips with that (the subject of my latest book)--yet they ran this misleading, cherry-picking, piece by Paul Farhi claiming the media "didn't fail."  I love the line about the Post in March 2003 carrying some skeptical pieces just days before the war started: "Perhaps it was too late by then. But this doesn’t sound like failure."

Here's my rejected piece.  I see that the Post is now defending killing the article because it didn't offer sufficient "broader analytical points or insights."  I'll let you consider if that's true and why they might have rejected it. "

war crimes by both sides in Syria

"In a report in March to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic accused both sides of targeting medical care as part of their military strategy. “Medical personnel and hospitals have been deliberately targeted and are treated by parties to the conflict as military objectives,” the report said.
The 10-page report documented a litany of abuses by government forces and rebels: Treatment has been denied on sectarian grounds. Hospitals and clinics have been attacked. The government and rebels have limited care in medical facilities to their own supporters. Doctors and nurses have been forced to accept the bodies of executed opposition fighters and to register them as deceased patients...
Doctors Without Borders has also documented how both sides have devastated health care across the battered nation. “Providing medical care was transformed into an act of resistance, a crime, and medical structures became military targets,” it said in a report this month."

Blueprint of the new Syria

"o why and how did this happen in Raqqa? Put simply, it’s because the regime had diluted its forces here, deploying them to other parts of the country, and because the forces aligned against Assad were mainly Islamists, largely outside the broad umbrella of the more secular, loosely organized, and in some cases poorly disciplined Free Syrian Army (FSA).
The offensive was spearheaded by Jabhat al-Nusra (which the U.S considers a terrorist group with ties to al-Qaeda), the Salafist Ahrar al-Sham brigade and Jabhat al-Wahda al-Tahrir al-Islamiya (a grouping of some two dozen battalions)–all non-FSA groups who prefer the term Mujahedin (holy warriors) to revolutionaries, the label many FSA use to describe themselves.
A special unit of Ahrar al-Sham called Liwa Omana al Raqqa (or the Brigade of Security for Raqqa) was tasked with securing government installations after they fell, protecting public and private property and maintaining services to the city.  The unit was specifically formed with this aim, according to its commander, Abu Tayf, a history graduate who used to work in real estate. “We had sleeper cells inside the city for a long time. When we entered the city, they rose and implemented the plan,” he says. “The project was devised a long time ago.”
There are also spray-painted messages around the city warning against theft. “A thief’s hand will be cut. Signed Jabhat al-Nusra” is plastered in many places, including outside the Real Estate Bank, which like the other banks in the city, is guarded by Nusra.
Several commanders of various Islamist units said they prevented some FSA units from entering the city, either during or after the battle, because they feared they might be more interested in looting than fighting. In at least one instance, an FSA unit was turned away by force, after an exchange of gunfire. “We did not forbid the free army, we forbade people who we suspected wanted to cause trouble in the city,” says Dr. Samer, “emir” of Jabhat al-Wahda al-Tahrir al-Islamiya who formerly went by the nom de guerre Abu Hakam. “I’m talking about certain individuals or battalions, but we don’t forbid people from Jihad.”

The `Alawite opposition meeting in Cairo

By the way, did the Western media inform you that the so-called `Alawite opposition meeting in Cairo is nothing but a small gathering for the entourage of Rif`at Al-Asad and at the behest of Saudi intelligence.

Lebanese genius: Ilyas Rahbani

This man is quite typical in Lebanon: I wrote about him before, how he has been bragging about two honorary doctorates that he had been "awarded" from two universities in Spain and US (both are now defunct because they sold unaccredited degrees over the internet).  Here, he talks about his own music: how it is celebrated in the US as being on the same level with Chopin and Liszt.  And yesterday, I watched him on New TV: he was bragging, as usual, about his music and about his service as a judge on a Lebanese TV musical talent show.  He said that even the New York Times had written about his great wisdom and musical genius and capabilities as a judge in musical talent.  Of course, being trained in the art of debunking Lebanonese lies and fabrications, I went to the New York Times archives and found one reference indeed to his role there from 2004:  "Mr. Hasan, seeing the intifada and no prospect of work, moved to Dubai, where he had a cousin, and got a job singing at the Dubai Marine Hotel - "Five star," Mr. Daqrouq said. There, the famous Lebanese composer Elias Rahbani, an organizer of "Super Star," heard Mr. Hasan and encouraged him to enter the contest."  Lebanese lies made me the Angry Arab that I am.

Funding the Jordanian royal family

Questions about funding the Jordanian royal family.  (thanks Yusuf)

Chemical attack in Khan Al-`Asal

"In short the kind of device that conventional armies would not be interested in, but a militia group might just be. The area it hit, Khan al-Assal, has been in government hands since 17 March in an area where control often changes hands rapidly between the rebels and the Syrian Army.  All sources we have spoken to say there is a pattern of victims suffering a variety of respiratory complaints from mild breathing difficulty, through fainting and vomiting to loss of consciousness and death. In most cases there were no signs of any conventional blast injuries in terms of external lacerations, burns or fractures, they say. Quite simply, one medical source connected to the hospital in Khan al-Assal said he has never seen anything like it.  Let me stress again this is a war. All sides tell lies. I do not say any of this is credible or otherwise. But I do say that whatever Syria told the UN, the UN certainly found it credible enough to investigate. It is the most detailed account yet of what the Syrians believe happened." (thanks Samer)

Jihadi mercenaries

I wonder why kooky Jihadi mercenaries are not rushing to fight to defend Muslims in Burma? The oil and gas money and orders have not arrived?

King PlayStation of Jordan

From KhelilBeyond the WINEP Zionist who published his piece in the WSJ on March 20, their foreign policy columnist (of course, a Likudnik) just two days prior also took to backing King Playstation:

Finally, I'd like to hear Mr. Obama tell Jordan's King Abdullah that the U.S. will back the Hashemite kingdom to the hilt.
Right now, the king is dealing with a long-running financial crisis, the influx of more than 300,000 refugees from Syria, diminishing political support from tribal sheiks, and an assertive Muslim Brotherhood that smells political blood. If the king falls, the U.S. loses an ally, the Arab world loses a moderate, Israel loses a secure border, and a contest for power erupts in which all the outcomes are bad. U.S. assistance to Jordan came to $736 million last year. It's cheap at five times the price

Burma pogroms

From Abdallah: It should be noted that some of the less "sophisticated" news sources, like NBC, have been calling the pogroms "Buddhist-Muslim violence", "sectarian unrest", and "clashes" (in reference to last year's pogrom, "that left hundreds of people dead and more than 100,000 displaced — almost all of them Muslim").
Americans cannot comprehend that Buddhists have been the perpetrators of violence (in various contexts) in Southeast Asia for centuries."

Please don't think that Obama fooled Arabs by a silly speech in Cairo five years ago (thanks Mirvat)

How cute: now Israel also wants to liberate Syria

"Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page Saturday that Israel and Turkey, which border Syria, need to communicate with each other over the Syrian crisis. "The fact that the crisis in Syria intensifies from moment to moment was the main consideration in my view," Netanyahu wrote."

Turkey violated its own promises about Gaza blockade

"Israel did not commit to ending its Gaza blockade as part of reconciliation with Turkey and could clamp down even harder on the Palestinian enclave if security is threatened, Israeli officials said on Sunday."

Syria chemical weapons: finger pointed at jihadists

"However a senior source close to the Syrian Army has given Channel 4 News the first clear account of what he claims is believed to have occurred on Tuesday. He is a trusted and hitherto reliable source who does not wish to be identified. The Syrian military is said to believe that a home-made locally-manufactured rocket was fired, containing a form of chlorine known as CL17, easily available as a swimming pool cleaner. They claim that the warhead contained a quantity of the gas, dissolved in saline solution. The source said that the town of Khan al-Assal has been in government control since March 13 but - like so much of the area - has been much fought over and parts of the area change hands with relative frequency. Rebel Sunni groups with al-Qaeda sympathies have been attacking the town, where the population is predominantly Shia. The military's version of events is that the home-made rocket was fired at a military checkpoint situated at the entrance to the town. The immediate effects were to induce vomiting, fainting, suffocation and seizures among those in the immediate area. A second source - a medic at the local civilian hospital - said that he personally witnessed Syrian army helping those wounded and dealing with fatalities at the scene. That Syrian soldiers were among the reported 26 deaths has not been disputed by either side."

US sacrifices for the Iraqi people

From a reader:  "Kerry added that he warned Maliki that some members of Congress are beginning to question how Iraq, after receiving so much American help [invading Iraq & slaughtering its people], could be working against the United States now." "The official would not say how the United States is certain the planes are carrying weapons for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an Iranian ally, but repeatedly asserted that is the case. "We know," the contents, the official said."

untapped wealth in Afghanistan

"Protected by armed guards, they spent three months drilling test holes into the snowcapped peaks, as curious goat- and sheepherders looked on. "We hit copper damn near everywhere," said Robert Miller, a Colorado-based mining executive recruited by the Pentagon to help advise Afghan authorities on how to develop the country's natural resources. "It's a very encouraging finding." Studies have found that Afghanistan, one of the world's poorest and most war-torn countries, sits atop hydrocarbon and mineral deposits that could be worth more than a trillion dollars. The Afghan government and its U.S. backers are counting on this largely untapped wealth — including oil, gas, copper, iron, gold and lithium — to bring in cash and create jobs as international assistance begins to wind down." (thanks Amir)

Suspension rates in Canada's largest city

"Aboriginal and black students disproportionately suspended in Toronto public schools"

On the bomb that killed Shaykh Al-Buti in Syria

Regarding this article, here is my reaction to its author:
1) When you say this, Thomas: “‘Compensation’ for these declarations included a crackdown on women rights activism...” Are you implying that Al-Buti was more reactionary and more misogynistic than the clerics who are on the side of the opposition? Are you implying that Al-Buti was, say, was more reactionary that Ahmad Mu`adh Al-Khatib who spent years railing against Facebook, masturbation, and who hailed Saddam Husayn for “terrifying Jews”? Or do you concede that the clerics of the opposition are in fact more reactionary than Al-Buti, who was influenced by the Nasserist-reformed Al-Azhar where he studied? Also, what crackdown of women rights activism are you talking about? Are you referring to the time when Al-Buti convinced Bashshar to rescind an order to ban niqabs on college campuses in Syria?
2) Your last section is rather confusing and appears to be propagandistic in purpose when you write: “Therefore, regardless of who actually committed Thursday’s bomb attack (those who accuse the regime stress the fact that the attack took place in a heavily guarded neighbourhood, the al-Iman mosque being located a few meters away from the headquarters of the Ba‘th party; they also insist on the fact that bombing a Sunni mosque is an unprecedented pattern of operation on the part of Syrian insurgents (but it has been witnessed in Iraq), the tragic demise of al-Buti means that the regime has now ceased to enjoy any meaningful source of religious legitimacy among the Sunni clergy.” So you are here recycling the standard unfounded, unsubstantiated accusations by the armed opposition (who basically accuse the regime of every crime and bombing in Syria, including bombs that target the regime or even `Alawite neighborhoods) in order to echo the trend of Saudi-Qatari media which insist that every bomb in Syria (especially when children are killed, as was the case in this particular bomb in a mosque which killed scores of people other than Al-Buti) in order to accuse the regime of killing a man who you yourself label as “the last credible ally among Sunni `Ulama’”? Do you see how the paragraph does not cohere unless you are telling readers that the regime is now going on a rampage to kill its “last credible allies”? You need to decide here: either the regime killed him or he was not then the “last credible ally” of the regime. In fact, Thomas: the opposition realized that the attempt to blame the regime for this murder is quite odd and bizarre, so some opposition groups in fact claimed (rather laughably and posthumously) that Al-Buti joined the cause of the opposition (quietly and silently) only days or hours before he was killed (although, of course, there is no evidence of that whatsoever and the cleric remained loyal to Bashshar’s regime to his last days). 
3) What is missing from your piece is that the exile opposition and armed groups have been denouncing Al-Buti and even calling for his murder for long months. The campaigns against Al-Buti have been relentless by various parts of the opposition particularly because he was a “credible”—to use your language—clerical ally of the regime. What is also missing is that Al-Buti recently supported the Fatwa by Mufti Hassun which attempted to monopolize Jihad in Syria by calling on Syrians to join the cause of the Syrian army, which may have sealed his fate.

Buddhist monks versus Muslim clerics

"The notion of Buddhists, especially monks, rampaging through Muslim neighborhoods with weapons is jarring to the outside world."  It is only jarring because your media consistently portray Muslims (laypeople and clerics) in an unfavorable light while you consistently portray Buddhists (lay people and clerics) in a positive light. 

Zionists lobby for the King of Jordan

You have to understand: part of the mission of the Zionist lobby in the US is to lobby for the preservation and the protection of the Jordanian regime. 

Veiled woman can love and can kiss, rumors to the contrary notwithstanding

From Tunisia.  (thanks Ahmad)

Glenn on covering Syria

Is there any particular reason you do not focus on the Syrian situation in great detail? LDoherty
There are all sorts of vital issues I don't write about much or even at all, and that's usually true for several reasons. In general, those include: time constraints, a lack of expertise, ambivalence, the fact that others are saying everything I would want to, a belief I couldn't make an impact, the opportunity costs of focusing on that topic versus other topics, etc.
As for Syria, US involvement there has been relatively minimal. But it's a very complicated case and passions and emotions are very high, so it's the kind of issue I avoid unless and until I'm able to give it the attention it deserves and feel a reason to do so. I've often cited As'ad AbuKhalil as a great source on all matters Middle East and - without adopting all or even most of what he has said - he covers Syria almost every day and does it very well."

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Comic relief: about Morocco's potentate

""In order to scale back military commitments, strengthen indigenous military capabilities, and benefit from the business opportunities Africa poses, the United States would do well to find a local partner that can facilitate all three. A strong candidate to play this role is a staunch US ally, the Kingdom of Morocco: Since Muhammad VI assumed the throne in 1999, the country has worked to establish goodwill, political and economic ties, and a strong security footprint across the continent—both north and south of the Sahara....King Mohammed appears to believe that security in any developing country rests on a combination of military operations, intelligence work and policing on the one hand, and anti-poverty measures, the promotion of religious tolerance and opportunity-boosting political reforms on the other. This is the approach he has employed in his own country since a 2003 triple suicide bombing rattled the kingdom. It was recently consolidated by a new constitution that grants sweeping domestic authorities to an elected chief of government, mandates equal opportunity for women and minorities, and democratizes domestic security by establishing a consultative security council bringing the monarchy and elected officials together."" (thanks Larry)

Flash: Freedom House is worried about repression in the UAE only becausae it tarnishes the image of the pro-US polygamous rulers

"Emirates Crush Dissent at Home, Tarnishing Image Abroad"

"Anti-Muslim pogroms spread in Burma"

"Over the last few decades, the authorities in Burma have trained the population to hate Muslims. Many leaders use derogatory terms for Muslims in public, like "kalar". Recently, things have become even worse with the conflict in Rakhine state and the increasing influence of a powerful monk in Mandalay, Wirathu [Editor’s Note: Wirathu is known for his anti-Islam views. According to several Muslim Burmese activists, he recently visited Meikhtila, where he reportedly criticised the fact that many businesses were owned by Muslims]. We don’t have anyone to turn to for help. Not even Aung San Suu Kyi [Burma’s opposition leader, who after years of house arrest, now has a seat in parliament] will help us, because in Burma, speaking out for Muslims means losing votes." (thanks Carlos)

Israeli ads

I have said it before. If any of the google ads here ever display ads for Israel or Israeli products, please send me link to block forever. thanks

The Zionist who championed the fanatics who now bar him for being Jewish

"The French celebrity philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy was banned from joining the former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to Libya this week because he is Jewish." (thanks Sultan)

Why House of Saud fears the internet

From Basim:  "Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti has criticized the social media website Twitter as a “council of clowns” and a place for those who “unleash unjust, incorrect and wrong tweets.” Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz al-Sheikh made the statements during a speech to Saudi Arabia’s senior religious scholars on Friday, the Saudi-based al-Watan newspaper reported Saturday. The Grand Mufti argued that the most of young people are wasting their time on chatting and using the internet, especially Twitter."

Turkish-Israeli relations

 "The White House - Office of the Press Secretary: "I welcome the call today between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Prime Minister Erdogan. The United States deeply values our close partnerships with both Turkey and Israel, and we attach great importance to the restoration of positive relations between them in order to advance regional peace and security. I am hopeful that today's exchange between the two leaders will enable them to engage in deeper cooperation on this and a range of other challenges and opportunities."

"Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan underlined the importance of strong cooperation and friendship between the Turkish and Jewish nations in a telephone conversation with his Israeli counterpart on Friday, his office said. "Erdogan told (Israeli premier) Benjamin Netanyahu that he valued centuries-long strong friendship and cooperation between the Turkish and Jewish nations," the statement from Erdogan's office said."

Global mercenaries in Syria

From a reader: ""In my unit, there are several people of several different nationalities: Tunisians, Kosovars, and Chechens. We fight shoulder to shoulder with a unit that includes Americans, Frenchmen, Malysians, Romanians, etc."
"There are now an estimated 80,000 Syrian Islamist fighters engaged in battle, as well as approximately 18,000 foreign Islamist militiamen, according to sources. This includes some 2,000 fighters who are members of the Uighur ethnic group, a Muslim minority of Turkic heritage who live mostly in China."

militant Buddhist monks: not all Buddhist monks are peaceful and quiet

From a reader: ""Some local residents told The Irrawaddy that militant Buddhist monks and laymen went on a rampage through the city in Mandalay Division on Friday morning, destroying mosques and what they believed were Muslim-owned properties. "It's as if they are destroying the town. The situation is now out of control," said a Pauk Chaung quarter resident, who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of his safety."

"Burmese monks have often been involved in sectarian violence, with anti-Muslim protests in Mandalay led by the saffron-robed religious leaders last year. Meikhtila is no different."

So what did Australian Defense Forces confirm really?

""An Australian Defence Force spokesperson confirmed Iranian reports that two of its warships had encountered a Royal Australian Air Force reconnaissance aircraft in the Indian Ocean earlier this month, but denied there was a confrontation. "An Australian AP-3C Orion encountered an Iranian frigate during a routine Operation Gateway patrol on 10 March 2013," said a Defence Department spokesperson. The Iranian Navy ships were reportedly heading home after a port visit to Zhangjiagang in China and were nearing Sri Lanka when they were intercepted by the Australian aircraft. The Iranian Fars News Agency claims Iran's 24th fleet, which comprises the support ship Kharg and the frigate Sabalan, forced the aircraft to turn away."" (thanks Amir)

Intellectual intimidation

Glenn Greenwald, perhaps the most courageous US journalist, writes about smearing of Chomsky: "But what is at play here is this destructive dynamic that the more one dissents from political orthodoxies, the more personalized, style-focused and substance-free the attacks become. That's because once someone becomes sufficiently critical of establishment pieties, the goal is not merely to dispute their claims but to silence them. That's accomplished by demonizing the person on personality and style grounds to the point where huge numbers of people decide that nothing they say should even be considered, let alone accepted. It's a sorry and anti-intellectual tactic, to be sure, but a brutally effective one."

Hizbullah's role in Syria

This is the most reliable account of the role of Hizbullah in Syria by publisher of Al-Akhbar, Ibrahim Al-Amin.  The subject is either exaggerated by Hariri-Saudi-Western media or denied by pro-Hizbullah's propaganda. 

Anne Barnard: reporting on Lebanon from Lebanon, this time

Having been reporting on Syria from Lebanon (citing Israeli sources), Anne Barnard (for a change) is today reporting on Lebanon from Lebanon.  An improvement indeed. But read this piece: every reference to unnamed "analyst" (does not) conceal her Hariri media sources.    And she makes no reference to Miqati's growing relations with the House of Saud through Prince Bandar, who now commands March 14 plus Jumblat plus Miqati plus Sulayman (and the latter has been enjoying Saudi and Qatari bribes as of late).   But she also does not tell readers that Miqatri has been (like Hariri) a lackey of Syrian intelligence for years, and that Syrian intelligence intorduced him into the Lebanese political scene.  She also does not mention that he made his fortune through monopolistic contracts with elements in the corrupt Syrian regime.  But by far the funnies part of the article is this:  "General Rifi was a main figure in the Internal Security Forces and whose clout and expertise will be difficult to replace."  How funny is that? I mean, she does not even try to conceal the Hariri media office press releases leaking in every word of this piece.  Expertise and clout? There is no expert in Lebanon except Mr. Rifi?  Is it about clout or about his ties to the House of Saud, especially that he is a board member of the Prince Nayif University for Security and Torture Studies.  Anne Barnard on Lebanon: is either ignorant who does not know any of this, or she knows all this but views her mission as mere propaganda, just as her missing in writing about Syria. In either case, she is not qualified.  Finally, the resignation of Miqati is a Saudi decision, and was delivered by Prince Bandar through Jumblat.

Al-Qaradawi rules that clerics who support the regime should be killed

This same Al-Qaradawi is now shedding crocodile tears about Al-Buti. (thanks Ahmad)

The Palestnian who stood up to Obama in Jerusalem

This picture celebrating the Palestinian student, Rabi` `Id, who interrupted Obama's Zionist rhetoric in Jerusalem to speak about Palestinian rights is widely circulating on Facebook by Arabs and supporters of Palestine.   Rabi` requested my friendship on Facebook yesterday, and I of course accepted and we communicated some yesterday.  I asked him a few questions about the experience and here are some of his answers (I cite with his permissions):  He said that he was not arrested but that they (Israeli security) at first handcuffed him (after they forced him out of the hall) and told him that he was under arrest.  But after some journalists went out and started taking pictures, the chief of security said that he does not want to cause noise especially before the cameras and ordered that he be forced out and released.  He is a political science student at Haifa University and works as a journalist in Arabs 48 website and in the Fasl Al-Maqal publication.  He is active in the Hizb At-Tajammu` Al-Watani ad-Dimuqrati.  He said that he listened to the first 15 to 20 minutes of the speech before speaking out.  I asked him what provoked him most.  He said:  Obama's adoption to the Israeli historical narrative and his justification to the Zionist hegemony in Palestine: that he talks about democracy and justice and then supports a racist Jewish state.  How does he feel as a black man about the segregated Jews-only buses, he wondered.  He told me that he views Obama as a white colonialist man.He said that he has been receiving an avalanche of letters of support and congratulations, in the hundreds, and from all around Arab world and the world at large, and from Palestinians around the world.  He said a small number of Israelis sent support, and some are not Zionist and some are leftist and some he did not know.  HE said that one person clapped for him in the hall and yelled: Free Palestine.  I encouraged him to respond to media interview requests. 

The lies of the Syrian exile opposition: the story of the killing of Al-Buti

I really have not seen liars worse than the Saudi-Qatari branch of the Syrian exile opposition.  They have been for long months calling the cleric Al-Buti a traitor and an apostate and have even issued rulings for his murder and he has been attacked day and night by opposition leaders and supporters.  And yet: when he was killed (along with scores of civilians) by a suicide bomb (clearly by opposition armed gangs), those same enemies of Al-Buti are vomiting the most ridiculous stories and theories about his murder: that he converted to the opposition the night before, that the regime killed him (presumably because he had only days ago supported a ruling that considered Jihad to be only on the side of the regime), or whatever.  I mean, can they at least vomit lies that are less ridiculous?  If this is the quality of their lies before even reaching power, can they imagine the quality of their propaganda once (or if) in power?

Lies of Erdogan

Of course, I never trusted Erdogan and I never trust Islamists (Sunni and Shi`ite alike before the sectarian traders jump in).  Erdogan used to say that he won't resume relations with Israel unless Israel fulfills several conditions including an official apology and an end to the siege of Gaza.  In reality, the Israeli apology was in fact casual and not official according to diplomatic norms (and was not even offered before the cameras), and the siege of Gaza has not even been reduced.  I used to tell people: I believe Turkish rhetoric when the secret military-intelligence agreements between Israel and Turkey are terminated. 

The role of Turkey

In 2010, when I stayed for a few months in Lebanon, I publicly spoke against confidence in the Turkish role in the region.  I also pointed out that there is a clear propaganda campaign by Turkey in Lebanon on behalf of its government. I warned against trust in the Turkish government in the Arab-Israeli conflict.  Supporters of Hizbullah and the Syrian regime were publicly attacking me for my distrust, and saying that I suffer from chronic negativism.  I mention this for history only. 

Emir of Qatar

In 2010, the Emir of Qatar told me that Prince Saudi Faysal is the number one sponsor of sectarian conflict in Lebanon.  Today, I say to the Emir of Qatar: you are now the number one sponsor of sectarian conflict in Lebanon, and in full cooperation with Prince Bandar, and at the behest of the US-Israeli alliance.  No question about it.