Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Anti-US component of the uprising in Egypt

The US media don't report that the protests in Egypt today (and previously) have a strong anti-US component.  Many signs in the protests are directed at the US and its perceived support for Morsi.  In the interviews on the streets today, especially on New TV, many protesters directed their anger at the US for its embrace of Morsi, in return for security cooperation with Israel.  People here still think that Arabs are too dumb to notice what is happening.

Wait: so Syria is the backyard of Qatar? So is it the backyward of Hizbullah too?

"“Syria is their backyard, and they have their own interests they are pursing,” said one administration official."  So does the administration then accept such an argument from Hizbullah?

Chomsky: On Objectivity and subjectivity in US media

From Joerg in Berlin:  ""(In the US you) get an impression that everything is free and open
because there are debates that are visible: the Democrats are debating the Republicans, and the press does its share of condemning. But what people don’t see — and the seeming openness of the debate conceals it — is that it is all within a very narrow framework. And you can’t go even a millimetre outside that framework. In fact, it is even taught in journalism schools here as the concept of ‘objectivity’ — that means describing honestly what’s going on inside that framework and if there
is something outside, then no, that is subjective. (...) During the 2012 presidential elections, the two countries that were mentioned way more than anyone else in all debates were Israel and Iran. And Iran was described as the greatest threat to world peace. And that’s what’s repeated in the media all the time. There is an obvious question that no journalist would ask: who thinks so? They don’t think so in India; they don’t think so in the Arab world, they don’t think so in South America. The only countries to think so are the United States and England. But that you can’t report."

humans and sub humans

"The truly scary thing about all of this is that we're living in an age where some very strange decisions are being made about who deserves rights, and who doesn't. Someone shooting at an American soldier in Afghanistan (or who is even alleged to have done so) isn't really a soldier, and therefore isn't really protected by the Geneva Conventions, and therefore can be whisked away for life to some extralegal detention center. We can kill some Americans by drone attacks without trial because they'd ceased to have rights once they become enemy combatants, a determination made not collectively but by some Star Chamber somewhere. Some people apparently get the full human-rights coverage; some people on the other end aren't really 100 percent people, so they don't."

Jordanians worry about U.S. plots

"A US defence official has told AFP that Washington has expanded its military presence in the country to 1,000 troops. "Jordanians do not feel comfortable about the presence of US troops, weapons and equipment in the kingdom," analyst Oraib Rintawi, who runs the Al-Quds Centre for Political Studies, told AFP. "For Jordanians, the US military presence is linked to plots and conspiracies against their neighbours, which would impact the country itself." "

half of mosques and Muslim centres in Britain have been subjected to Islamophobic attacks since 9/11

"Around half of mosques and Muslim centres in Britain have been subjected to Islamophobic attacks since 9/11, academics have warned as the far-right English Defence League prepares to march to the south-London scene of Drummer Lee Rigby's murder." "Meanwhile, research by The Independent shows Islamophobic attacks spreading across Britain, with mosques being set alight and Muslims targeted at home in the past month." (thanks Amir)

Jimmy Carter (whose life inspiration has been--by his own admission--the Nazi anti-Semitic, Anwar Sadat) comes to the defense of his racist friend

"Carter said he remembers that the n-word was used "quite frequently" when racial segregation was the "law of the land" throughout the country, not just the South, where Deen is from and resides."

Security Cooperation: Muslim Brotherhood and Israel

"A Palestinian from the Gaza Strip who vanished while visiting Egypt this month is under arrest in Israel for alleged security offences, his family and his Israeli lawyer said on Sunday."

Patrick Cockburn no Syria

From Christian:  I thought you might be interested in this article from Patrick Cockburn about the media coverage in Syria, look what he had to say about AJ Arabic:

"But at the very time I was in the town, Al Jazeera Arabic was reporting fighting there between the Syrian army and the opposition. Smoke was supposedly rising from Tal Kalakh as the rebels fought to defend their stronghold. Fortunately, this appears to have been fantasy and, during the several hours I was in the town, there was no shooting, no sign that fighting had taken place and no smoke."

"And he continues with regards of government and opposition media:

"Back in the Christian quarter of the Old City of Damascus, where I am staying, there was an explosion near my hotel on Thursday. I went to the scene and what occurred next shows that there can be no replacement for unbiased eyewitness reporting. State television was claiming that it was a suicide bomb, possibly directed at the Greek Orthodox Church or a Shia hospital that is even closer. Four people had been killed.
I could see a small indentation in the pavement which looked to me very much like the impact of a mortar bomb. There was little blood in the immediate vicinity, though there was about 10 yards away. While I was looking around, a second mortar bomb came down on top of a house, killing a woman.
The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, so often used as a source by foreign journalists, later said that its own investigations showed the explosion to have been from a bomb left in the street. In fact, for once, it was possible to know definitively what had happened, because the Shia hospital has CCTV that showed the mortar bomb in the air just before it landed – outlined for a split-second against the white shirt of a passer-by who was killed by the blast. What had probably happened was part of the usual random shelling by mortars from rebels in the nearby district of Jobar."

a milestone in the history of the Arab world

"Palestine's ambassador Munir Ghannam, Palestine's ambassador said that the initiative of HH the Father Emir in the transfer of power to HH Sheikh Tamim was a "milestone" in the history of governance in the Arab world in a civilized manner unlike the traditional way, which he added does not respect the will of the people."  He added that the birth of Saeb Erekat is another milestone in the history of governance in the Arab world. (thanks Basim)

From Jadaliyya on Egypt

"As someone who has studied discourse for eleven years, the anti-Brotherhood, anti-Morsi propaganda is unlike anything I have ever seen, primarily because news reporters and organizations–rather than political figures–seem to spearhead the propaganda efforts. The lack of objectivity in Egyptian news is perhaps unsurprising, given the reality that many Egyptian journalists perceive themselves more as political activists than as watchdogs, and other research suggesting that Egyptian journalism suffers from an overall lack of professionalism. The opposition’s propaganda machine–aided by a plethora of private television networks and newspapers owned by Mubarak-friendly businessmen like Ahmad Bahgat, Salah Diab, and Mohamed al-Amin–has successfully manufactured discourses designed to designate the Brotherhood and Morsi as lacking in basic integrity and unworthy of political participation. To be sure, Islamist media, having begun in recent years to discuss politics on otherwise exclusively religious satellite television channels, dish out their own fair share of propaganda. Their political impact, however, pales in comparison with independent news outlets that are devoted to political news reportage, have greater reach, can boast well known commentators, and that proclaim the goal of covering political affairs in an objective manner.
Relatively greater levels of professionalism at some news outlets (and by a handful of television news personalities) notwithstanding, the anti-Brotherhood bias in independent Egyptian news media is obvious and overwhelming. As part of a pre-reading of Egyptian news broadcasts designed to develop a coding scheme for an upcoming research project, I watched the 25 March 2013 episode of OnTv’s From Anew. The program featured nine consecutive anti-Islamist guests over a period of about seventy-five minutes. Such blatant imbalance is not uncommon. Frequently, talk shows–such as OnTv’s Respectable People and From Anew, and CBC’s From the Capital and As Clear as the Sun–invite multiple guests, all of the same anti-Islamist persuasion, for lengthy discussions of political events. Other programs, such as Wael Al-Ibrashi’s The 10 p.m. Show on the Dream Network and Ibrahim Isa’s From Cairo on the al-Qahira wa-al-Nas network, I would argue, have blatantly one-sided slants, as evidenced by their story ideation, guest selection, and interview questioning processes. One of the few independent news stations in Egypt that consistently tries to provide some balance and debate is Al Jazeera Live Egypt. Because the channel usually features the Brotherhood perspective alongside that of the opposition, critics often call it “Al Jazeera Muslim Brotherhood.” " (thanks Yusuf)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saeb Erekat confirms that he is still the top PA buffoon and that no one shines in the job more than he does

"Mr. Erekat said in a statement. “Settlement activity in and around occupied East Jerusalem is one of the main reasons why the two-state solution is disappearing, as without East Jerusalem there will be no Palestinian state.” He called on world leaders to “hold Israel accountable.”"

If this hatred was directed agaisnt Jews, it would be a front page story in all US media and they would have made two movie-of-the week about it

"But in a country that is 90 percent Buddhist and where anti-Muslim sermons and hate speech appear to have fueled rampaging lynch mobs, the award to Ooredoo drew fury.
On the Facebook page where the government announcement was posted, critical comments quickly accumulated. “Why? Why? Why Muslim company omg,” said one. “Say no to Ooredoo,” said another."

Middle East journalism of the Times

"Correction: June 27, 2013
An earlier version of this article misstated the year that Sheik Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani, the new prime minister and interior minister, became the minister of internal affairs under the previous emir, and erroneously attributed a distinction to Hessa Sultan al-Jaber, the minister of communication and information technology. Sheik Abdullah had been minister of state for internal affairs since February 2005, not 1995, and Ms. Jaber is not in fact the first woman in a Qatari cabinet; another woman was named to the cabinet in 2003."  So if this was wrong with the article, what was right?

audacity of US media

"Russian TV Builds a Pedestal for Him".  Just as you built a pedestal for every thug who ever defected from a regime that is hostile to the US.  But Snowden is no thug.

Kerry went to Shimon Peres so that he can talk to the PA puppet. What a disgrace

"Mr. Kerry then went to the residence of Israel’s president, Shimon Peres. Mr. Peres’s job is mainly ceremonial, but he has connections with the Palestinian leadership".

New York Times celebrates a huge strategic victory for the rebels

You know what it is?  I am not making this up: it is a checkpoint manned by border guards (Hajjanah) and not even soldiers.  Let the New York Times speak:  "The assertions, if confirmed, would represent a rare military victory for the insurgency..."  With this, the Times can now again assert that Bashshar would be gone by next week.

The lies of Rice

"Susan Rice Downplays Impact Of Snowden Leaks". Maybe if you stop freaking out and making a worldwide fuss we may believe you.

James Zogby speaks

If you are bored and the phone book is not close buy to read, and you are compelled to read what James Zogby writes, I will spare you the agonizing effort.  I have made a concise summary of his articles.  Here they are:  "I have no opinions.  None whatsoever.  My business is with the entourage of the UAE ruling families.  Whatever they wish, I say.  I am a mere puppet for UAE government.  Read my articles with the same respect and dignity that you read press releases of UAE embassy in Washington, DC."

Al-Afif Al-Akhdar: update

I have received news that he attempted suicide but failed.  Anyone can confirm?  I was planning on writing a long obituary on him.

The Ahmad Al-Asir Phenomenon

My weekly article for Al-Akhbar:  "The Ahmad Al-Asir Phenomenon"

Obama in a Kenyan newspaper

From Buush, Angry Arab's correspondent in Kenya:  "And, does President Obama want to side with assorted anti-Assad fighters among whom are al-Qaeda militias? President Bush will forever be identified with the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which war was waged on the false prospectus of ridding Baghdad of weapons of mass destruction. President Obama will forever be remembered for the drone killings of innocent Afghan and Pakistani civilians in the vain adventure to defeat the Taliban and al-Qaeda. A demonstrator protesting President Obama’s visit to Berlin carried a banner that compared him to Martin Luther King. It read: King: I have a Dream. Obama: I have a Drone. What, I ask, is the difference between Presidents Bush and Obama? Obama the candidate’s doctrine was engagement where President Bush’s was pre-emption."

And the award for the most stupid comment on the Palestinian cause goes to...

"Mohammed Assaf is the Palestinian Gandhi the world has been looking for."  Who has been looking for Ghandhi? You and Netanyahu?  Who is this person anyway?  And somebody told me that she is bashing Leila Khaled in crude and vulgar language.  Is she trying to win the Sadat award for services to Zionism?

priorities of US domestic intelligence

From a reader: ""Aware that Occupy was overwhelmingly peaceful, the federally funded Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC), one of 77 coordination centers known generically as “fusion centers,” was busy monitoring Occupy Boston daily.  As the investigative journalist Michael Isikoff recently reported, they were not only tracking Occupy-related Facebook pages and websites but “writing reports on the movement’s potential impact on ‘commercial and financial sector assets.’”
It was in this period that the FBI received the second of two Russian police warnings about the extremist Islamist activities of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the future Boston Marathon bomber.  That city’s police commissioner later testified that the federal authorities did not pass any information at all about the Tsarnaev brothers on to him, though there’s no point in letting the Boston police off the hook either.  The ACLU has uncovered documents showing that, during the same period, they were paying close attention to the internal workings of…Code Pink and Veterans for Peace.""

Hariri media and Ahmad Al-Asir

This Hariri propagandist, Faris Khashsan, wrote a tribute to Ahmad Al-Asir a few weeks ago but then removed it from his site when the clashes in Abra occurred. (thanks "Ibn Rushd")

Robert Fisk already misses the Emir of Qatar. Fisk is a lousy caricature of a foreign correspondent

"Who would have expected al-Jazeera to appear on British TV screens? Or Qatar Airways, the only airline where I once sat next to an Arab noble with a hooded eagle on his arm in business class? Or an Emir owning large bits of London?" (thanks Basim)

Israel's dirty hands, everywhere: US in Africa

"But the US government's motivation for investing such a large sum in Feed the Future isn't entirely altruistic." "As USAID head Rajiv Shah indicated at the official unveiling of Feed the Future in 2010, the agency could advocate on companies' behalf to make investment easier in partner countries." "In 2011, for example, PepsiCo partnered with USAID under the Feed the Future rubric to employ farmers in Ethiopia to grow chickpeas for domestic consumption, as well as for export for use in Sabra hummus. (PepsiCo co-owns the Sabra brand with the Israeli company Strauss Group Ltd.)"

This annoying Chinese dissident

So this guy is upset because NYU did not provide him with lifetime employment and residence for him and for his wife because he fled China?  And yet the press is sympathetic to him.  It is easy in the US to be sympathetic to a dissident provided he is from an enemy country.

Hollywood and Nazis

"On page after page, he shows studio bosses, many of them Jewish immigrants, cutting films scene by scene to suit Nazi officials; producing material that could be seamlessly repurposed in Nazi propaganda films; and, according to one document, helping to finance the manufacture of German armaments." "There's a whole myth that Warner Brothers were crusaders against fascism," Mr. Urwand said. "But they were the first to try to appease the Nazis in 1933." "In June 1939 Metro-Goldwyn Mayer treated 10 Nazi newspaper editors to a "good-will tour" of its studio in Los Angeles. Mr. Urwand also found a December 1938 report by an American commercial attaché suggesting that MGM was financing German armaments production as part of a deal to circumvent restrictions on repatriating movie profits." (thanks Amir)

Why Bahrain hosts the Fifth Fleet

"A lower criminal court in Bahrain, headed by a member of the ruling family, has sentenced a 17-year-old boy to a year in jail for insulting the Gulf island's king on Twitter."

What is a revolution

I encountered this definition of revolution in `Abdullah Al-`Alayli's:  Indispensable Introductory Remarks for the Understanding  of Arab History (Arabic).  He says that a revolution is "distrust of the highest ideal when it forms and becomes a violent act."  But what about a society with no high ideal?


When I lived in Washington, DC (off and on) until 1993, all academics of the Middle East boycotted WINEP, the research arm of the Israeli lobby.  Only fanatical Zionist academics participated in its affairs, and they were mostly Israelis or Israeli wannabees. Today, it has become a venue for the rite of passage, or a necessary stepping stone, for ambitious academics of the Middle East who want to win the approval of the Zionist lobby (in and out of government).

Change (what change) in Qatar

About the change (on top) in Qatar, I thought of this line of poetry from the Abbasid poet, Du`bul Al-Khuza`i:
(A Caliph who died and was not mourned, and another rose and was not celebrated)
خليفة مات لم يحزن له أحدُ, وآخر قامَ لم يفرح به أحدُ
The following line of the poem goes:
(This one passed and the bitterness of misfortune followed him, and this one rose and with him rose distress and misfortune)
فمرّ هذا ومرّ الشؤم يتبعه وقام هذا فقام الويل والنكدُ

How the armed goons of Lebanese Rightist (March 14) MP, Nadim Gemayyel, attacked a feminist gathering in Beirut

From Sean, a former instructor at AUB:  "So last night I was present at what Nadim Gemayel (whose inherited seat in parliament is unconstitutional) is dishonestly calling an attack on his convoy. 

This is what actually happened:
and [Nasawiyya's own account]:
But this is what Gemayel is claiming:
And now I'm making a running collection of all the press accounts, which are either lazy or flat out lying, or both:
Now Lebanon:
L'Orient le Jour
Daily Star:
And the funny thing is that of all the dozens of eye witnesses last night, the media is so far only paying attention to Gemayel's account even though he was one of the only people who wasn't even there. He was too busy finishing his dinner to bother coming outside, while the Jaysh and Darak blocked off the road and waited for him to finish before "saving" him from feminists whom his bodyguards had threatened with guns. He claims they were attacked with tomatoes. Ya reit. I didn't see a single one, but there aren't enough tomatoes in the world for what this guy deserves."

And the dumbest comment on foreign affairs goes to....

"There is somewhat of a common denominator between former consultant for the National Security Agency (NSA) Edward Snowden, who "blew the whistle" on violations committed by the United States in spying on the American people and on countries like China or Russia, and Sunni cleric Ahmed Al-Assir, who "blew the whistle" on Hezbollah's hegemony over Lebanon through weapons and fear-mongering, making of himself a phenomenon he put an end to by himself."

Friday, June 28, 2013

Syrian Observatory explains a bombing

""According to preliminary reports, four people were killed and several others wounded," said the Britain-based Observatory. "The bombing took place close to the Ihsan charity, which is Shiite," watchdog director Rami Abdel Rahman told Agence France Presse." (thanks Basim)

US military in Africa

"Nevertheless, with some 4,000-5,000 personnel on the ground at any given time, the United States now has more troops in Africa than at any point since its Somalia intervention two decades ago." "There are two main reasons behind the build up: to counter al Qaeda and other militant groups, and to win influence in a continent that could become an increasingly important destination for American trade and investment as China's presence grows in Africa." "Others worry U.S. military clout may ultimately be used to seize resources."

Stealth invasion of Syria?

"Arguably, today the U.S. military is more involved than ever overseas, on a global basis, carrying out missions that extend well beyond classic military competencies. The Pentagon and the White House call the approach "building partner capacity" -- and it is the new religion for the global use of our military forces, becoming central to military doctrine. This model is stealthy, not public. It involves military training and equipping of the forces of other countries and smaller military deployments but in a significantly larger list of countries about the globe. Syria, which sounds like a case study for American reluctance, is actually a case in point. Rather than invade with ground forces or fly an air cap -- the thing Barno argues against -- official U.S. policy for a very long time was to supply humanitarian assistance and "non-lethal" equipment (like communications gear) to the rebels. Two weeks ago, the White House announced that it would begin supplying the rebels with small arms."

General Dempsey drew a clear distinction between praiseworthy cyberterrorism and blameworthy cyberterrorism

"General Dempsey’s speech drew a clear distinction between the nation’s two major efforts in cyberspace. The military’s role is in defending computer networks and, if so ordered by the president, carrying out offensive attacks."

When cyberterrorism is not cyberterroism

"The Times story included details of the Olympic Games operation, including the cooperation of Israeli intelligence and the way the virus was introduced to an Iranian nuclear facility. It described meetings in the White House Situation Room and was based on interviews with "current and former American, European and Israeli officials involved in the program." " (thanks Amir)

That lousy Lebanese Army

The Lebanese Army in an official statement said that the pictures of the dead detainee show that he was "beaten but not mutilated" in the prisons of the Lebanese Ministry of Defense. I am not making this up.

Al-`Afif Al-Akhdar is dead

Al-`Afif Al-Akhdar is dead.  This Tunisian thinker fought in the Algerian revolution and later was a leader in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the early seventies before breaking with Leninism altogether.  (He served as chief of indoctrination in the schools of DFLP in Jordan).  He was the first Arab writer to introduce the anarchist and Marxist critiques of Leninism and Marxism-Leninism.  I have to admit that he had an influence on me.  He established network of "majalis" (councils or societies) in Beirut during the war and popularized leftist/anrachist/Marxist/ critiques of the Arab left.  I used to be an avid reader of his in my youth, especially his first translation of the Communist Manifesto from German, and in which he wrote long essays about Islamic history.  He published another important book titled Sultat Al-Majalis (Power of the Councils) I should write more about him soon.  Yet, in the 1990s, the man underwent horrible transformation and became an advocate of the Bin Ali dictatorship and even of GCC countries but was banned from Gulf media after he attacked Wahhabiyyah once on Al-Jazira.  He became basically a lousy Arab liberal.  There is a lousy book about him by a man who has not read a word of Marxism: the Saudi propagandist, Shakir Nabulsi who calls himself a liberal.  (Nabulsi has a book on the genius of the colloquial poetry of Prince Khalid Al-Faysal).  I will be writing more about this man: most people (East and West) have never heard of him. 

Look at this Western standard reference to change in Qatar: they treat the abdication of an absloute ruler in favor of his unelected son as evidnece of reform

"Other reasons may have prompted Hamad to resign. Now 61, he has long championed reform elsewhere in the Arab world, to the point of generously funding revolutions in Libya and Syria. But he stood out ever less comfortably for failing to practise at home what he preached abroad."  So according to this logic, the abdication by a head of a dynasty to his son is reform?

Sunnis versus Shi`ites in the Economist

More lousy coverage of the Middle East from the Economist.  Look at this piece about the Sunni-Shi`ite conflict: 1) it is absolutely not true--not even time wise--that the lynching of Shi`ites in Egypt is related to what happened in `Abra, near Sidon.  2) the article misses a major element of the story: the doctrinal Wahhabi hatred of Shi`ites and the fact the Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been pursuing a blatant policies of anti-Shi`itism.  3) the notion that "mainstream" Sunni clerics have avoided endorsing the anti-Shi`ite rhetoric is so wrong unless you count the Senior Clerics of Saudi Arabia and Yusuf Qaradawi was marginal.

Syrian Observatory counts the dead in Syria: let us cook the numbers again

"In its breakdown, the group said the dead included 36,661 civilians, including 8,000 women and children; 13,539 rebel fighters; and 2,015 defectors from government forces. Among pro-government forces, the group said 25,407 regular soldiers had been killed along with 17,311 members of militias and pro-government units including some listed as informers for the government."  So the Syrian regime uses fighter jets and scud missiles to bomb rebels and yet manages to suffer more casualties than the rebels?  How does that work? That can only be explained by the pattern established by the rebels: they tend to categorize their own casualties as civilians, not that I believe those estimates: not by the UN, nor by the Observatory, nor by the regime, and nor by the rebels.  No one really knows but I think there is an exaggeration in the claims.

Cyberattacks worldwide

The US government (along with Israel) will have a very hard time convincing the world that cyber attacks should be treated as a crime by any government or group, unless perpetrated by the US or Israeli government.  I mean, really.

The suspension of the workd of Golos in Russia: how the New York Times reported the case

Look how the Times reported the story:  It does not say that Golos used to get funding from the US government, for potato's sake.  How would the US Justice Department treat a US "watchdog group" if it was receiving funding from the Russian government?

Logic on Syria

.@abuaardvark: Current move to arm rebels comes uncomfortably close to but does not cross direct US involvement. #SyriaDebate

Angry Arab response: So does that apply to Russia and Iran? They can provide arms to the regime without being directly involved? 

Darwin and Afghani

Clearly, Jamal Ad-Din Al-Afghani did not understand Darwin.  He wrote that according to Darwin a fly could evolve into an elephant.

The first Arab socialist: Shibli Shimayyil

I have been re-reading him.  Shibli Shimayyil was the first Arabic promoter of Darwin in the Arab world (and possibly among Muslims worldwide).  He also was the first socialist and he even wrote about anarchists.  Yet, he represented the crisis of Arab intellectuals: 1) he supported the British colonization of Egypt and spoke about its contributions; 2) he fiercely opposed equality between men and women and spoke about the size of the skull and the weight of the brain.

ِA prisoner dies from torture at Lebanese Ministry of Defense

A Lebanese detainee dies from torture at the hands of Lebanese soldiers.

Journalism at the school of House of Saud

Look at this story that has been a leading item on the news website of Al-Arabiyya, the news station of King Fahd's brother-in-law, under the influence of the King's son, `Azzuz.  It says that two explosives target a "convoy that could possible be for Hizbullah."  That is the actual language in the headline.  And the picture showing a massive explosion is not even from the actual explosion scene which was barely visible.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lebanese Army: incompetent and unqualified as ever

I never was a fan of the Lebanese Army: embrace of the Army bothers me much more than attacks on the Army.  Not only due to its history of never confronting Israeli occupation and aggression, but it has a history of war on civilians and refugee camps.  And from the military point of view: look at the scene in Abra: for me the incompetence of the Lebanese Army shows everywhere: the fact that the gang leaders all fled; the size and scale of destruction; the ratio of death and injury between the Army and its foes; the slow pace of the operation all point to typical Lebanese Army operation.  That is why I did not need to investigate to know whether this was a purely Lebanese Army operation.  It was.  The incompetence gave it away.

Not for the faint-hearted: Syrian "revolutionaries" in action

Videos showing brutality of Syrian regime goons have been transmitted all over Western media, over and over again. Yet, videos of crimes of Syrian "revolutionaries" are rarely posted in Western media.

The US Executive Branch

"Executive Branch leaders have killed, wounded and made homeless well over 20 million human beings in the last 50 years, mostly civilians."

Do you doubt that they have pure democratic impulses?

"The men at the diwaniya said one large Kuwaiti family planned to equip 28 mujahideen in Syria, estimating the cost at 700 dinars per fighter. Smaller families sponsor two or three, while a member of one of Kuwait's powerful merchant families donated 250,000 dinars."

Finally: the Syrian people have an independent and sovereign media voice

"Rozana is financed by Canal France International, a French media support agency funded by France's foreign ministry and Danish media non-profit organization International Media Support. The French embassy in Syria is also providing money. France, which backs the rebels in its former colony and has demanded President Bashar al-Assad's removal, has channeled non-lethal military equipment as well as medical aid throughout Syria almost since the uprising began more than two years ago."

News of Libyan democracy

"Musrati's death is only the latest in a succession of murders of military personnel since the revolution."

The peaceful Utopia established by NATO in Libya

"Loud explosions and gunfire rocked Tripoli's southern neighborhoods - the second day of violence in the battle-scarred city. Armed groups made up of former rebel fighters from different parts of the country have grown in power and ambition nearly two years after Gaddafi was ousted and the government has struggled to impose its authority over them." (thanks Amir)

UAE Repression

"(UAE) state security officers have subjected detainees to systematic mistreatment, including torture, say hand-written letters from detainees smuggled out of jails, Alkarama, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch said today. The groups obtained 22 statements written by some of the 94 people on trial for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government. The mistreatment described in the letters is consistent with other allegations of torture at UAE state security facilities, and indicates that torture is a systematic practice at these facilities."

Israeli lies exposed, Again

"Maybe this is interesting: Israel undertook big efforts to make everybody believe that the video which showed the assassination of Mohammed ad-Durrah in 2000 was staged by Palestinians and a French TV team.  But Wednesday a court in Paris ruled again that this was a diffamation of the camera team." (thanks Joerg)

Series of Angry Arab's interviews on Syrian war: a "comrade"?

This is an interview with a comrade who wishes to remain anonymous:
"1) How do you characterize what is happening in Syria? to what extent it is a revolution and to what extent it is not?
The original demonstrations that erupted among the Deraa peasantry were, by all appearances spontaneous, their proximal cause being the maltreatment by regime goons of children who scribbled anti regime graffiti. The unrest has been brewing for a while, coming at the confluence of several factors including a bulging population with high youth unemployment, severe drought that disrupted the agrarian strata, neoliberal policies that favored a pro-regime compradore class and so on. The demonstrations spread nation-wide and seemed in the beginning to have a semblance of trans-sectarian support, notwithstanding obvious hesitations among minorities. They also seem to have garnered the support many educated youth and elements of the middle class. Still, even at this early phase, the regime continued to carry significant support among the populace, evidenced by counter demonstrations and rallies. At first, there was no revolutionary agenda to the protests. The militarization of the protests happened in stages, first in the Rastan-Hums area (which has a large cadre of Sunni staff officers) and then to the North and East. I would say that the militarization process was encouraged and later guided by outside forces, notably Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, explicitly supported by the US and European/NATO actors. The influx of Jihadis followed, a la Afghan model of the 1980s, and sponsored by the aforementioned countries. Old habits die hard…
Do the protests, and the intense bloodshed that followed and continues to this date, amount to a revolution? So far, and this may surprise or even dismay some of your readers, I would say no. This conclusion is made in the context that even if the regime is deposed, you will not have a profound change in the class structure of society, nor the prominence of the military and its centrality as an institution, nor a dramatically different economic policy that would deviate from the neoliberal tendencies of the recent past. This does not mean that the uprising was lacking in a revolutionary potential, but it was not realized. The chances of its realization now are, to my mind, very small.
The discussion on whether the current upheaval is an uprising or a rebellion versus a revolution is more than semantics, for it foretells the shape of the regime that would follow. Politically, my anticipation is that there would be lip service to a democratic future, but chances are that there would be an authoritarian regime in place that is in structural continuity with this one. In short, unlike what had happened in other revolutions of the past, such as the French, Russian and the Chinese, the basic building blocs of the current regime and their power relation would not change. What would ensue is a game of musical chairs of one nexus of power being displaced in favored of another.
2) How do you explain the resilience of the regime, especially that you, among my friends, always have been suspicious of Western media predictions of an imminent fall of the regime.
The cartoonish representation of the regime as an isolated tyrant versus the people should be pushed aside in favor of a broader and more deeply rooted power base that encompasses a wide swath of society that benefits from (the regime’s) continuation versus those that do not. The regime garners support from different groups, including the minorities and some of the Sunnis. It also has the support of the key urban classes of Damascus and Aleppo, especially among the upper/middle upper classes. One has to remember that the authoritarianism of Hafiz Al-Asad was popular in the early seventies precisely because of the chaos of the fifties and sixties and the promise it presented (to the merchant groups in particular) of stability. The current chaos, like the previous one, reflects a historic failure of the Syrian polity to come up with a consensus on a common political “form” structure. The current regime capitalizes on this chronic instability to present itself as the sole guarantor of continued Syrian state.
3) To what extent the uprising in Syria was spontaneous and to what extent it was not? I answered that to some extent under the first question. Undoubtedly, it is a mixture of both. There is no denying the intense and legitimate internal grievances that led to the uprising. However, the conflict could not have been militarized and propagated for so long without intervention by outside powers, now true on both sides of the civil war. This intervention can only be seen in the context of the regional and international jousting for hegemony in the region. The more interesting aspect of this intervention is that by Western powers and their local actors. If Syria follows the fate of Libya, then the Mediterranean will become a veritable NATO pond. It will also invigorate the quest to control Energy sources in Asia and corner China, which is a key aim of the series of oil wars we have witnessed in Western Asia over the last decades.
4) What do you think Saudi Arabia and Qatar want from Syria?
There is more than one cause for the intervention. The failure of the American invasion of Iraq left these countries vulnerable to political challenges from their own populations, and from Iran. The Syria intervention is a pre-emptive strike to turn the political crisis those regimes face into a Sunni-Shiaa sectarian fight. Their efforts are in line with the overall American/NATO policy of maintaining control over the Middle East. That policy, embedded in the Project for New American Century, remains embedded in American policies even while it has faced difficulties with the failure of the Iraq intervention. Thus, both Qatar and Saudi Arabia are bit players in a larger scheme of things.
5) What will the impact of Hizbullah’s announced intervention be? In Lebanon and in Syria.
Hizballah has been placed in a difficult position. I do not believe it went into the conflict willingly, but rather under pressure from the emerging situation on the ground, with the Syrian opposition actively seeking to cut its land route  to Damascus as a prelude to its own isolation and destruction. The armed wing of the Syrian opposition has been totally subservient with the Gulfies and their American/NATO sponsors, and as such its threat to Hizballah is existential. Where Hizballah is at a disadvantage is in its own sectarian grounding. It has helped it enormously during the resistance phase of its existence (1985-2000), but it has become a liability. At heart, it renders it unable to formulate a trans-sectarian narrative. It is also hampered by its own reluctance to identify with any class dimensions of its struggle, hence its inability to forge alliances in Lebanon outside the traditional sectarian ones. With that in mind, Hizballah remains far truer to its base in Lebanon and to the aspiration of the people of the region for an anti-colonial regime than anything on offer by its enemies.
6) Are we now witnessing a great historical transformation in our region?  Are you looking forward to the outcome?
This is the most important question of the bunch, and the saddest to answer. The end of the cold war ushered a breakdown in the post World War Two Arab order, occasioned by the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the split in the Arab League, the “forced” invitation of foreign troops and the subsequent 1991 Iraq War. At the time, I formed the opinion that the classical Sykes Picot arrangement could only be maintained by the force of Arms of the Americans and NATO allies. It is quite possible that similar to Yugoslavia in 1990s, many Arab countries may suffer divisions or at least internal re-ordering. Sudan and Iraq have already gone this way, and Syria may follow suite. It is a very fluid situation.
I have been of the opinion that the Arab spring has been exploited by Western powers and their local allies as means of better integrating the Arab world into the world capitalist order. What you see is the dismantling of one Arab state after the other, followed by its take over by compradore elites (prominently featuring Muslim Brotherhood types) that are more extreme in their allegiance to neoliberal economics than even their counterparts in the West are. The sad part of my response is that whereas previously the colonial designs on the Arab world were met with an intellectual and nationalistic response, galvanized around the issue of Palestine, no such response is currently coherent. Things may change, of course, but it is a very dangerous moment. I remain convinced that the prime responsibility of the Arab intelligentsia is dual: to resist imperialism and internal despotism. The two were related then, and remain so today.

7) What is Turkey’s agenda in Syria and beyond?
The collapse of a political Arab project, signaled by the 1990 gulf war and the split in the Arab league at the time, ushered a period of political vacuum that has been filled to some extent by the historic duo of Iran and Turkey. Turkey’s entry was not spontaneous, but actively encouraged by the Americans as means of having a heavy weight Sunni power that can act synergistically with Israel to maintain American interests in the region. Egypt would have been the Arab candidate for such a role, but Egypt has been a failed state since Sadat’s time. Chances are Egypt would not make a come back any time soon.
What is Turkey’s agenda? Turkey seeks to reestablish an economic and social zone of interest the echoes that of the Ottoman Empire, yet well integrated into the world capitalist economy. With the emergence of Muslim Brotherhood sponsored regimes in the Arab world, it may have a shot at it. However, Turkey is a medium sized country that is not big enough, like China, the EU or the US, to establish an independent project. It will be an important but subordinate deputy to the big league players of the world. Libya was a case in point. When the Turks voiced opposition to the NATO intervention in Libya, they suddenly were made to realize that their investments in the country in excess of $30 billion were at stake. Overnight they made a complete turnaround in their position.

8) Is class analysis useful in analyzing Syrian conflict?
It is an important component in understanding the internal dynamics of the many Arab conflicts, including the Syrian one, although it is not the sole factor at work. I think there is an interplay between the internal contradictions of class and the external interventions, much as we have seen before in Iraq.  It provides an important layer in a multi layered situation, but absent its recognition no serious analysis of what is going on can take place. "

Rafiq Hariri Professor

"Previously he was the Rafiq Hariri Professor of International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard." (thanks "Ibn Rushd")

Nasser? Nasser did not establish bases for the US and did not normalize with Israel

"The outgoing emir, who grew up in the Pan-Arab era of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, once described himself to me as a “Nasserist.” He described his Prime Minister HBJ as a “Sadatist” — or admirer of the pragmatic, pro-Western Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who succeeded Nasser and made peace with Israel.""

When will Arab government use this language in speaking to the US?

"Ecuador will not accept pressures or threats from anyone, and it does not traffic in its values or allow them to be subjugated to mercantile interests," government spokesman Fernando Alvarado said at a news conference." (thanks Christian)

Lebanese Army abuses a prisoner

Lebanese Army soldiers and officers (watch till the end of the video) abuse a prisoner of the Asir gang. (thanks Ahmad)

A Fisherwoman from South Lebanon

Read her story.

HRW's office in Beirut

I have argued for over a year now that the Beirut office of Human Rights Watch is a mere arm of the March 14 movement in Lebanon and that its statements now reads (curiously) very much like some of the press releases of the Hariri press office (its director in Beirut, however, denied that he was invited to sit on meetings of March 14 secretariat).  But this report still gets my attention: it deals in bulk with an arm of the Lebanese government that is directly funded, equipped, managed, and armed (extra judicially) by the US and Saudi intelligence services.  Yet, not a word is said about the sponsors.  Not a word.  And the entire report spares the director and the ultimate decision maker of the force, Ashraf Rifi (a man who is part of the entourage of the Hariri family, and has close ties with the Saudi intelligence service, and who sits on the board of  Prince Nayif's University of Security Studies.

Further evidence of the moral bankruptcy of Human Rights Watch

Here is a report by Human Rights Watch about the lynching of Shi`ites in Egypt.  1) Do you think that Human Rights Watch would have had the same lukewarm reaction if the victims were Jewish? 2) Notice that the the report makes no mention of the Saudi and Qatari roles in sponsoring the Islamist groups in Egypt, especially that the Salafite discourse against Shi`ites is imported wholesale from Saudi Wahhabi clerics and that the House of Saud government funds those Salafis.  Imagine if a pro-Iranian group in the Middle East were to lynch members of a minority sect: would HRW not make a mention of Iran, the sponsoring state in that case?  Human Rights Watch more and more reflects the biases, weaknesses, soft spots, and contradictions and lies of US foreign policy.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fee Syrian Army works for a Fee? No way

"But Khalid al-Eid did say that his men were “paid $1,300 a month and we got an extra $1,000 if we carried out an operation”. He described how he would make Youtube films – “sometimes they show us firing when there was nothing to shoot at” – which would later be shown on al-Arabiya and al-Jazeera satellite television..."" (thanks Nu`man)

Khaled Hroub and GCC propaganda

Khaled Hroub, in the service of GCC countries's propaganda and writing in a UAE newspaper, solves one of their problem: he has a plant to rescue all Shi`ites from Hizbullah while acknowledging that some are only loyal to Iran.

Burthan Ghalyun and the Qatari dynasty

That the Unelected Emir of Qatar transferred power to his unelected son is an "eloquent lesson" in "Arab spring" for Burhan Ghalyun. (thanks Ahmad)

Whenever Western colonialism enters, tribes rise

"Using the old definition of tribal land from the French colonial era, before the Syrian republic and its socialist laws that smashed feudal property, each tribe is now claiming ownership of the fields that lie in its wajeh (tribal territory). As the Syrian regime has crumbled, society in the desert east has fallen back on the tribes."

What does US law say about rebellion and overthrow of government?

From a reader:  "U.S. Code: Title 18: Crimes: Chapter 115: Subversive activities, § 2383. Rebellion or insurrection

"Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States."
U.S. Code: Title 18: Crimes: Chapter 115: Subversive activities, §2384. Seditious conspiracy

"If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both."

U.S. Code: Title 18: Crimes: Chapter 115: Subversive activities, § 2385. Advocating overthrow of Government

"Whoever knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States or the government of any State, Territory, District or Possession thereof, or the government of any political subdivision therein, by force or violence, or by the assassination of any officer of any such government; ...Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction."

prejudice against Black Americans significantly predicted voting patterns

"What roles do race, racial identity, and racial prejudice play in our politics? Data now suggest that, despite hopes to the contrary, race and politics remain intertwined. Indeed, prejudice against Black Americans significantly predicted voting patterns in the 2008 general election [4]–[6] and continues to shape individuals' policy attitudes [6], [7]."

Children in Israeli military detention

"In September 2009, in response to documentation of the prosecution of children as young as 12 in adult military courts, Israel established a juvenile military court. It is understood that this is the first and only juvenile military court in operation in the world. In fact, it uses the same facilities and court staff as the adult military court." "Each year approximately 700 Palestinian children aged 12 to 17, the great majority of them boys, are arrested, interrogated and detained by Israeli army, police and security agents. In the past 10 years, an estimated 7,000 children have been detained, interrogated, prosecuted and/or imprisoned within the Israeli military justice system – an average of two children each day." (thanks Amir)

The Unending heroic tale of Nicholas Blanford and Hizbullah commanders: Hajj and Roni and the rest

"With Sunni-Shiite tensions higher than ever because of war in neighboring Syria, it didn't take much to spark deadly fighting in the Lebanese city of Sidon. Hezbollah quickly jumped in.  A two-day battle between Lebanese troops and followers of a radical Sunni cleric, one of the most severe in Lebanon since Syria's uprising began, has starkly illustrated its perilous instability. It also brought powerful Hezbollah fighters into the fray, pitting the militant group founded to fight Israel against fellow Lebanese.  Although the Lebanese Army's special forces units spearheaded the assault on a mosque and compound belonging to Sheikh Ahmad Assir, a Salafist cleric who had holed up there with 200 to 300 of his followers, it became evident today that they received some assistance from Hezbollah's battle-hardened fighters. Today we are doing surgery," says Haj, a local commander of Hezbollah forces in an area on the eastern edge of Abra ..." (thanks Basim)

defection in that direction rarey get reported

"A local FSA commander, who said his name was Khalid al-Eid, explained that he had gone over to the government side along with 20 men he led because of general disillusionment with the uprising. A paunchy man in his early thirties with a black beard and a red baseball cap, he appeared self-confident and almost truculent as he talked about his life as an FSA leader.
He said that before the uprising, he “used to work as a policeman during the day-time and in the family perfume shop in the evening”. He seemed assured he would be able to return to his old routine." (thanks Ali)

Anne Barnard defines March 14

"Mr. Hariri’s party is part of the March 14 movement, which seeks to strengthen Lebanese state institutions..." The propaganda is becoming a bit funny.  Why not define March 14 thus: the movement that seeks to establish justice on earth and bring liberty to humanity and end world hunger and bring democracy to every corner in Lebanon and make equality a reality.  For the real work of March 14 on state institutions, read this report.

Anne Barnard knows Sidon

"Mr. Hariri, a former prime minister and scion of a powerful Sidon family..." Barnard does not know that Hariri family is not a powerful Sidon family and that the leadership started with Rafiq Hariri through his money and the support of the Syrian and Saudi regimes.

Why is AJE refraining from naiming that embassy of a Gulf state, I wonder? The answer is found in Doha?

"In the meantime, Assir's whereabouts, along with those of Fadel Shaker and others who fled the mosque compound during the battles, are still unknown - despite rumours of him being in Syria, or in the Ain el Helweh refugee camp, or even at the embassy of a Gulf state." (thanks "Ibn Rushd")

Human Rights Watch office in Beirut: still protecting the propagnda interests of Hariri family and March 14

Look at this lengthy report about human rights abuses by the Lebanese Internal Security Forces.  1) The word Hariri appears not once in the report and it does not say that this government apparatus is a tool for the Hariri family and for Saudi intelligence.  2) the name Ashraf Rifi, who ran the force for years and still wields influence after his retirement appears not once in the report.  Rifi sat for years on the board of the Prince Nayif University for Security Studies.  3) The report minimizes the extent to which the US government for all intents and purposes runs the forces and provides it (outside of the channels of government or the budget) with money and equipment.  4) In the recommendation of the report, HRW basically wishes for more colonial control over Lebanon.  This ostensibly human rights organization wants the US government and European government to interfere more in Lebanese internal affairs and to control aspects of policy and society.

The US government and the internal security forces of Lebanon

"According to the US embassy in Lebanon, all ISF members trained using US funding are
subject to vetting under the Leahy Law and the US government does not train units for whom there is credible information about human rights abuses brought to the embassy’attention through third parties or the embassy’s own investigations."

New York Times' scandalous propagandistic coverage of Qatari potentates

There is something scandalous about the New York Times coverage of Qatari transfer of power from one absolute ruler to another: they rely on the opinion and expertise of a Western PR company that advises the ruler.  Kid you not.  The PR strategic company, BLJ, is cited in the articles yesterday and today.  And notice not one critic of the government of Qatar is cited in the articles, yesterday and today.  Imagine if this was a kingdom or emirate that is not on good terms with the US government.  In that case, only critics of the government would be cited. 

The US and free speech

When it comes to protecting secrets that the US government wants to keep from its own citizens, it acts very much like any other dictatorship around the world.  Look how they go about persecuting--not prosecuting--any government employee who divulges secrets not for any financial benefit for for a moral cause.  One can draw on the arguments in the Nuremberg trials and the calling for objections to government order to justify the behavior of Snowden.

Saudi princes

Has there ever been a funny Saudi prince?  I think genetically it is impossible.

The Jordanian thinker

One of the most hilarious part of silly Western media coverage of the Middle East has to be the way they treat the Jordanian monarch as if he is some kind of a democratic/strategic thinker. 

Emir Tamim of Qatar

I was reading the speech of the new Emir of Qatar--and please stop acting as if the Emir has been elected by his people--and what struck me is the references to GCC.  This signals the direction of the new absolute ruler and that Qatar's foreign policies in the region will become less distinguished from those of Saudi Arabia.  I will write more on this development in Al-Akhbar English next week.

tawakkol Karman

Based on what she has been writing about Qatar in the last few days, she has proven that she is in no way different from any of the paid propagandists of the oil and gas regimes.

lynching of Shi`ites in Egypt

It just occurred to me regarding the news of lynching of four Shi`ites by Salafite mob in a village in Egypt.  Do you think the news coverage in Western (and even in Arab Saudi and Qatari) media would have been the same if the victims were, say, Jewish? It is amazing how little coverage the story received in the press.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

O, Emir

Tawakkol Karman is being ridiculed widely for tweeting a post about the Emir of Qatar in which she compared him to Nasser and his support for liberation movements around the world.

Prince Tamim and Saudi Arabia

Ces derniers années, à mesure que les fidèles de HBJ étaient évincés des postes de pouvoir, le prince héritier a récupéré des dossiers plus sensibles, comme le suivi des contrats d'armement avec la France et les Etats-Unis. C'est lui aussi qui a conduit le dialogue stratégique, en 2010, avec l'Arabie Saoudite, menant à un réchauffement des relations avec le géant wahhabite, que l'interventionnisme tous azimuts de Doha a plus d'une fois agacé. "Les Saoudiens l'apprécient alors qu'ils détestaient HBJ et regardaient avec méfiance son père, fait remarquer la politologue Fatiha Dazi Héni, spécialiste du golfe. Son accession au pouvoir est une bonne nouvelle pour Riyad"." (thanks "Ibn Rushd")

Syria: 'I saw rebels execute my boy for no more than a joke’

Syria: 'I saw rebels execute my boy for no more than a joke

Muslim Brotherhood on lynching of Shi`ites

From Basim: "A spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, also denounced the killings. But in a seeming show of conservative Sunnis' distaste for the sect, he would not refer to the victims as Shiites. In a posting on his Facebook page, Ahmed Aref identified them as "the four dead who have beliefs of their own that are alien to our society.""

Jihadi tools of the West

"We sided with Islamist rebels in Afghanistan, under the name of Mujahideen fighters, and against the same rebels under the names of Taliban and al-Qaeda; we fought against them in Iraq during the 2004 insurgency, and stood at their side as paymasters and allies when they became the "Sunni Awakening" in 2007; we were against them in Mali, Somalia, and Yemen, but allied with them as the courageous militias in Libya; and now in Syria, we are both for them and against them—allies insofar as the they agree with us in attacking the government, but opponents because they want to dominate or kill the moderate rebels to whom we intend to ship arms. We will wage war against them after they help us to win the war against Assad."

Gulf dictators rescue EU's defense industries

From a reader:
" 'The country [UAE] is the fourth-largest defence importer globally and is expected to spend about $52.3 billion on defence and security equipment in the next four years. In comparison, the 2012 spending for defence was about $9.3 billion. This market could be a significant prize for a Western state face with stagnating (or falling) national defence budgets and shrinking demand for home orders for its indigenous defence industries. It hints at, in part, the British government's motivation for a refreshed relationship with its peers in Abu Dhabi."

"France is desperate to secure foreign orders for the Rafale, and Hollande, who was in Qatar to attend a meeting of Western and Arab states that support rebel forces in Syria's 27-month-old civil war, has sought to capitalize on France's close defense and commercial links with the tiny gulf state." "In December, the French Defense Ministry warned Dassault would halt production of the Rafale in 2021 if it did not win any export orders. So Hollande, battling for key defense exports to keep French assembly lines in business amid military spending cutbacks, has a lot riding on the jet in his sales drives in the Persian Gulf."

Ikhwan: in the service of Israel

""Egypt has intensified a crackdown on smuggling tunnels between its volatile Sinai desert and the Gaza Strip, causing a steep hike in petrol and cement prices in the Palestinian territory." "The moves against the tunnels have dashed the hopes of many Palestinians that Mursi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood from which Hamas was born, would significantly ease Egyptian border restrictions on Gaza, which is also subjected to blockade by Israel." (thanks Amir)

Guests of the Ikhwan in Egypt

"A number of US news websites had reported in the past two days that a group of US soldiers will be deployed to Egypt in the near future for a nine-month peacekeeping mission aimed at "curbing riots … if protests and riots reach the point of threatening Israel's security." "

This is what I call a secular and revolutionary leader: give him weapons and cash NOW or his fighters will join Al-Qa`idah

"The leader of Syria's biggest rebel alliance has told Sky News that delays in promised weapons deliveries from abroad is causing dissent and resentment in his ranks that will drive fighters into the ranks of al Qaeda."

Seymour Hersh in 2007: “Jihadis in Lebanon”

From Martin:  "Do you remember Seymour Hersh's piece in the New Yorker, “The Redirection”, in march 2007? There was this part about “Jihadis in Lebanon”.

I think this is important to remember, because:
- it reminds that the Salafist phenomenon in Lebanon begins with March 14th in 2005 according to Hersh, and not as a “sunni reaction” to the events of 2008;
- it reminds that it's not the “syrian war” coming to Lebanon, but a very specific political action specifically created in Lebanon and with a purely lebanese target (Hezbollah); this is not an importation from the Syrian conflict.
- And of course, absolutely all of March 14th declarations today are based on lies. But that's the very obvious part.


The United States has also given clandestine support to the Siniora government, according to the former senior intelligence official and the U.S. government consultant. “We are in a program to enhance the Sunni capability to resist Shiite influence, and we’re spreading the money around as much as we can,” the former senior intelligence official said. The problem was that such money “always gets in more pockets than you think it will,” he said. “In this process, we’re financing a lot of bad guys with some serious potential unintended consequences. We don’t have the ability to determine and get pay vouchers signed by the people we like and avoid the people we don’t like. It’s a very high-risk venture.”

American, European, and Arab officials I spoke to told me that the Siniora government and its allies had allowed some aid to end up in the hands of emerging Sunni radical groups in northern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and around Palestinian refugee camps in the south. These groups, though small, are seen as a buffer to Hezbollah; at the same time, their ideological ties are with Al Qaeda.
During a conversation with me, the former Saudi diplomat accused Nasrallah of attempting “to hijack the state,” but he also objected to the Lebanese and Saudi sponsorship of Sunni jihadists in Lebanon. “Salafis are sick and hateful, and I’m very much against the idea of flirting with them,” he said. “They hate the Shiites, but they hate Americans more. If you try to outsmart them, they will outsmart us. It will be ugly.”
Alastair Crooke, who spent nearly thirty years in MI6, the British intelligence service, and now works for Conflicts Forum, a think tank in Beirut, told me, “The Lebanese government is opening space for these people to come in. It could be very dangerous.” Crooke said that one Sunni extremist group, Fatah al-Islam, had splintered from its pro-Syrian parent group, Fatah al-Intifada, in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, in northern Lebanon. Its membership at the time was less than two hundred. “I was told that within twenty-four hours they were being offered weapons and money by people presenting themselves as representatives of the Lebanese government’s interests—presumably to take on Hezbollah,” Crooke said.

The largest of the groups, Asbat al-Ansar, is situated in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp. Asbat al-Ansar has received arms and supplies from Lebanese internal-security forces and militias associated with the Siniora government.

In 2005, according to a report by the U.S.-based International Crisis Group, Saad Hariri, the Sunni majority leader of the Lebanese parliament and the son of the slain former Prime Minister—Saad inherited more than four billion dollars after his father’s assassination—paid forty-eight thousand dollars in bail for four members of an Islamic militant group from Dinniyeh. The men had been arrested while trying to establish an Islamic mini-state in northern Lebanon. The Crisis Group noted that many of the militants “had trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.”

According to the Crisis Group report, Saad Hariri later used his parliamentary majority to obtain amnesty for twenty-two of the Dinniyeh Islamists, as well as for seven militants suspected of plotting to bomb the Italian and Ukrainian embassies in Beirut, the previous year. (He also arranged a pardon for Samir Geagea, a Maronite Christian militia leader, who had been convicted of four political murders, including the assassination, in 1987, of Prime Minister Rashid Karami.) Hariri described his actions to reporters as humanitarian".