Friday, January 31, 2014

It is--how shall I say--like Nixon in China or Iran-Contra? or like past US alliances with the Syrian regime?

"“The Syrian regime is as Machiavellian as they come, and there is little it won’t do to hold on to power,” said an American counterterrorism official. “If the regime could strike a tactical accord with an enemy faction to achieve its larger strategic goals, it probably would.”"

The standard propaganda line in the New York Times

"Yet even the Syrian government has disappointed Mr. Putin recently, with its officials acting belligerent and unaccommodating at peace talks in Switzerland, against a surprisingly unified and professional performance by rebel opposition groups."  The funny thing is that even in Saudi and Qatari propaganda outlets in Arabic, those claims about the brilliant performance of the Syrian opposition in Geneva are not being made.  I guess you have to not know Arabic and not to have watched the press conferences to believe those ridiculous claims.  And who were the rebel groups represented in Geneval aside from the gang of Dr. Engineer General Musician Plumber Painter Lawyer Dentist Salim Idriss?

That will certainly not reach the ICC

"United Nations officials described a spiraling conflict, with the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels disarmed and rival Christian gunmen going on retaliatory rampages. “Muslim civilians are now extremely vulnerable,” the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, warned this week."

American right-wingers for Bashshar?

Quietly, the Heritage Foundation hosted a group of a pro-Bashshar Christian delegation form Syria this week.

US aid to Syrian rebels

"The resumption of Western supplies is partly a reward to the Syrian opposition for participation in peace talks over the past week in Switzerland".  What Reuters and other media have not reported is that US aid for the first time is being delivered from the north, i.e. to Islamist fanatical groups like the Islamic Front in order to win them over, so to speak.

So does the CIA break into a network without authorization?

"Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) noted that the CIA is banned from domestic spying and searches of Americans inside the United States but asked CIA Director John Brennan if he could assure the committee that it does not engage in such operations.

“I can assure the committee that the CIA follows the letter and the spirit of the law in terms of what CIA’s authorities are,” Brennan said in a carefully worded reply.

Wyden, who works closely with Udall on intelligence matters, asked Brennan whether the CIA abides by a separate anti-hacking statute that makes it a crime to break into a network without authorization. “I would have to look into what that act actually calls for and its applicability to CIA’s authorities,” Brennan said."

If he were a Muslim in the Middle East, this would have been a front page story around the world

"A woman and her daughter were bludgeoned to death in their Queens home by the woman’s live-in boyfriend, who called 911 and confessed that he had “killed them because they are witches,” law enforcement officials said on Wednesday."

This article should be classified within the category of articles in American journalism history under the title of "but the slaves are happy"

"“SodaStream is my hope, to enable me to get married, to get everything,” says the former chicken worker, as the sun rises over the littered street. Then he steps on the bus to go to work."  (White Supremacist press under apartheid used to publish such articles).

The journalism of Anne Barnard: the Syrian delegation in Geneva is said to have performed splendidly: source? the Syrian delegation itself

This whole article is a laughable account (for anyone who followed the performance of the Syrian opposition delegation in Geneva) about the great performance of the Syrian delegation there. Look how Ms. Barnard substantiates her argument:  "“We surprised ourselves,” Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American consultant to the coalition, said Tuesday...“For the first time, the regime had to sit down and hear the demands of the people,” said Rafif Jouejati, a coalition spokeswoman."  I read the article and then learned about crudity of propaganda what I knew not before.  But according to here the Syrian delegation won the game because Syrian foreign minister went over the time limit in his speech (as if this is an unusual offense in Arab speech making).  She also cites the able correspondent of As-Safir, Muhammad Ballut, but if she knows Arabic she would have cited his front page article in which he declared that the Syrian regime delegation will return victoriously.  Facts, Ms. Barnard. Simple facts. 

Anne Barnard on the performance of the Syrian opposition in Geneva (versus the account in the Washington Post): when the propaganda is too crude even by WP's standards

Anne Barnard:  "Louay Safi, an opposition spokesman, was tested when a representative of the state-run SANA news agency asserted that in a government-blockaded area “there are no civilians, only terrorists,” and asked if efforts to get food there aimed to “save the terrorists.”  “Two good questions, and I thank you for them,” Mr. Safi said, before calmly answering."

Liz Sly (who is no less an advocate of the Syrian rebels than Barnard):  "“Shame on you,” a correspondent for an opposition television station screamed at a journalist for the state-controlled media, who wore a button bearing Assad’s portrait pinned to his lapel. “You are wearing the picture of a murderer.” “And you are a terrorist,” the journalist yelled back, an exchange that summed up the essence of the divide."

Palestinian natives are now settlers

""Palestinians and their supporters who have been campaigning for Palestinian rights to settle in the area around Maale Adumim do not see it that way."" (thanks Michael)

scandanavian miracle

"as with Norway and Denmark, the Swedish right is on the rise. A spokesman for the Sweden Democrats (currently at an all-time high of close to 10% in the polls) insisted to me that immigrants were "more prone to violence". I pointed out that Sweden was one of the most bloodthirsty nations on earth for much of the last millennium."

rape in Sweden

"In 2010, Swedish police recorded the highest number of offences - about 63 per 100,000 inhabitants - of any force in Europe. That was the second highest in the world after Lesotho. "According to rape crisis advocates in Sweden, one-third of Swedish women have been sexually assaulted by the time they leave their teens."

330 drone strikes in Pakistan

"The Bureau is today publishing a leaked official document that records details of over 300 drone strikes," "The Bureau estimates that at least 2,371 people died in the time covered by the document (excluding 2007, which is missing from the record), while it records 2,217 deaths in total." (thanks Amir)

Is this not defamatory and may recklessly endanger the lives of the members of this relief organization in Syria??

Anne Barnard today:  "In a striking development on Thursday, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, an organization operating under government auspices and widely accused of favoring pro-government areas..."  Widely accused by whom, Ms. Barnard? Should you not provide evidence to your reckless accusation?  I asked a UN official who works in the Middle East to react to this and she (who does not want to be identified) wrote me this: "Not true about SARC. They have members in detention and over 19 killed. Only SARC HQ in Damascus works under auspices of the regime. But check them on twitter they have a very balanced position accusing both parties of obstructing aid delivery. they tweeted that both parties violated humanitarian law and even added that responsibility is proportional."

Lebanese factions--all Lebanese factions without exception--are not to be trusted politically: they buy and sell

What Ilyas Murr said in Wikileaks is worse than anything said by Antoine Lahd in his long despicable career.  He managed to vomit the worst of sectarian hatred mixed in with the worst of loyalty to Israeli aggression--while holding the portfolio of Minister of Defense of the deformed Lebanese republic.  This week, Murr's father, Michel, held a dinner in honor of his lousy son, and who attended--among others? Muhammad Ra`ad (the head of the Lebanese parliamentary bloc) and the Iranian ambassador.  Disgusting if you ask me.

Hamas versus Hizbullah in Syria

Ghadi Francis is a Lebanese journalist who has a TV show in which she goes on her own to hot spots in Lebanon and Syria.  She is a former SSNP member and her reports are sympathetic to the Syrian regime (she was widely criticized back in 2011 when she wrote in As-Safir that areas under the control of the opposition are like Qandahar, and she was rebuked by Syrian opposition figures and told that the uprising and armed groups are secular and liberal--kid you not).  Her new show is on Yarmuk and while it is biased in favor of the account of the Syrian regime, she has interesting information about the roles of Hamas in Yarmuk and the role of Hizbullah in Syria.

siege and starvation in Zahra' and Nubl: Patrick Cockburn has been the most independent correspondent writing on Syria

"Unnoticed by the outside world, the largest single community currently besieged and on the edge of starvation in Syria lives in two Shia towns west if Aleppo, Zahraa and Nobl, with a combined population 45,000. In this case the besiegers are Sunni rebels who accuse the Shia townspeople of supporting the government of President Bashar al-Assad and are seeking to starve them into submission.

Zahraa and Nubl form an isolated Shia pocket in an area where most of the people are Sunni supporting the rebels. The towns have received no supplies from the outside apart from an occasional delivery by a government helicopter. Raul Rosende, the head of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Syria said: “We are concerned about the situation in Zahraa and Nubl where 45,000 people are under siege.” A few Shia have escaped into Turkey and then crossed back into Kurdish-controlled north-east Syria.

The politics of starvation are complex in Syria and open to manipulation for propaganda purposes. The problem stems primarily from the government forces’ strategy of sealing off areas that have been captured by the armed opposition and not letting people or goods in or out." (thanks Laure)

Human Rights Watch and demolition of buildings in Syria

Human Rights Watch has a new report on demolition of buildings in Syria.  New TV (a progressive news station in Lebanon which is critical of the Syrian regime and sympathizes with the opposition and which was the most courageous station during years of domination by the Syrian intelligence in Lebanon, whose chief put its owner in jail under trumped-up charges of "spying for Israel"--when he is in fact fiercely anti-Israel) yesterday aired a new report about the HRW report. 1) It said that the report using polemical language that one does not associate with HRW.  2) It said that the report deliberately avoided writing about demolition of buildings in Aleppo because there the destruction was at the hands of the armed groups.  The sympathies and biases of HRW are no more a secret.

More Kangaroo court stories: how the German government cleared Gerhard Lehmann from the charge of corrupiton (shown on camera)

"Investigators conceded that the video shown by Nasrallah depicts an individual who could possibly be Lehmann, but they concluded that the footage does not show a transfer of money, and certainly not of thousands of dollars, the source said."

PS The Daily Star is jointly owned by Sa`d Hariri and former prime minister of Qatar--i.e. highest levels of journalism.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The more-than-a-year-old siege of Al-Fu`ah

Can someone run a search to see the extent to which the sieges (by rebels) of the predominantly Shi`ite villages of Fu'ah, Nubul and Zahra' in Syria have been covered in the Western press? Not to mention the siege of the predominantly `Alawite Jabal Muhsin in Tropoli.  There is a high concentration of Western journalists in Lebanon and no one to my knowledge bothered to cover the siege of Jabal Muhsin.

ISIS in Raqqah

Johansson (thanks Mondo)

Do you notice that sieges imposed by glorious Syrian rebels don't get attention of Western media and don't lead to Western NGO's protestations?

"Louay al-Safi told reporters at the end of a morning session of talks in Geneva that Free Syrian Army fighters are willing to relieve pressure on the Shi'ite Muslim villages of Nubl, al-Zahra and al-Foua."

PS Fu'ah has been under siege for more than a year, if I am not mistaken.

Health care in Bahrain

"Bahrain's medical system has yet to recover from this politicisation. Doctors detained in 2011 who have returned to work say that it is still not safe for those wounded in clashes with police in ongoing unrest to seek treatment at a public hospital, or even at some private clinics. According to a doctor working in Salmaniya, a patient who shows signs of protest-related wounds—burns to the hands or birdshot to the body—will be interrogated by a hospital security guard, often before a nurse or doctor has seen him."

Israel threats to Lebanese civilans: something that the Beirut (or Jerusalem) bureaus of New York Times and Washington Post don't know about

""Israel accused Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas on Wednesday of putting "thousands" of bases in residential buildings and said it would destroy these in a future conflict, even at the cost of civilian lives. The unusually explicit threat by air force chief Major-General Amir Eshel appeared to be part of an effort by Israeli officials to prepare world opinion for high civilian casualties in any new confrontation with Hezbollah in Lebanon."" (thanks Basim)

Israeli murder of Palestinians never stops

""Eyewitnesses denied the Israeli claims, and confirmed Mubarak was working, and did not carry a weapon of any sort. The slain Palestinian was a flagger directing traffic while repairs were being conducted on the road.""

Finally the media realized that there is Al-Qa`idah in Lebanon: but they won't tell you that it was brought to you by...the "pro-West March 14 movement"

""Residents say al Qaeda is already calling the shots in some Tripoli neighborhoods and areas of the northern province of Akkar and the Bekaa Valley. Black and white flags associated with its uncompromising Islamist agenda openly fly from the streets and balconies of some Tripoli districts."" (thanks Amir)

Howard Dean

The clown is clowning again.

Salutations to the indefatigable efforts of comrade Electronic Ali for leading the campaign against Oxfam

"Scarlett Johansson is ending her relationship with a humanitarian group after being criticized over her support for an Israeli company that operates in the West Bank.

A statement released by Johansson's spokesman Wednesday said the 29-year-old actress has "a fundamental difference of opinion" with Oxfam International because the humanitarian group opposes all trade from Israeli settlements, saying they are illegal and deny Palestinian rights.

"Scarlett Johansson has respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam after eight years," the statement said. "She and Oxfam have a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. She is very proud of her accomplishments and fundraising efforts during her tenure with Oxfam."" (thanks Michele)

Business history

""U.S. and British intelligence agencies, worried that Iran’s new regime was becoming aligned with Soviet Russia, arranged the overthrow of the prime minister and installed a pro-West shah as head of the government. The shah quickly restored BP’s Iranian assets, but they were seized again in the 1979 revolution."" (thanks Regan)

In the trial of Morsi

In the trial of Morsi, the government basically said that the overthrow of the Mubarak regime is tantamount to "bringing down the Egyptian state".  In other news, supports of Egyptian "revolution" cheer Sisi and his regime.

Shi`ites in Sisi republic

Shi`ites from India were banned from Sisi's republic.

Sectarianism and Hariri media

"Hostile rhetoric towards the Shi‛a is common, even in secular circles. Sectarianism is present in the discourse of the mainstream Sunni media that is related to the al-­‐Mustaqbal
movement and the Hariri clan."

US AID prohibits any money for events held under the name Shahid (martyr) in Palestine

Flirting with Disaster

The art of flirting with Sisi, litarally.  (thanks Houssam)

"Checkpoint" is based on the oppression and discrimination Jasiri X witnessed firsthand during his recent trip to Palestine"

 (thanks Shawna)

50 ways to celebrate the Jordanian King's brithday

Kid you not: this website suggests 13 different ways to celebrate the King's Birthday.  Let me add suggestion number 14: put him in the trunk of a car and send him out of the country for good.

On AlMayadin TV

The interview that Mounzer Sleiman of Al-Mayadin conducted with me will air this next Sunday on February 2nd at 11:00PM Beirut/occupied Jerusalem Time, which is 4:00PM Washington, DC Time.  Only if you don't care, that is.

Crown Prince of Jordan at George Washington University

As the Crown Prince of Jordan gets in to George Washington University, as I heard from Jordanians, you need to know that the Jordanian government is increasing repression on the campuses of Jordanian universities and elevating the "security" status of campus police.  (thanks Ahmad)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Aljazeera on Syria

"the Qatari-owned pan-Arab news channel that the government despises for its sympathetic stance on the insurgency..." Sympathetic stance? Are you kidding me? Aljazeera is now well beyond the sympathetic stance.  It has for long been more in the business of agitation and mobilization and almost recruitment.  If only you know Arabic to watch it. If only you can watch the language of the channel that you are describing. 

Anthony Shadid

On the Syrian conflict, Anthony Shadid stood above and apart from the rest of American correspondents in the Middle East.  He was (in private communication with me) even frustrated with the reliance on the same Washington, DC-based "Syria experts" and always tried to cultivate different more independent voices.

Georgia State Senate really hearts Israeli occupation

"Israel has many well-wishers in Congress, and on some matters — such as how best to pressure Iran not to develop nuclear weapons — those U.S. legislators are closer to Israel’s position than to the Obama administration’s.

Another example: Congress passed a law ordering the State Department to allow U.S. citizens born in Israel to list their birthplace on their passports as “Jerusalem, Israel,” even though successive U.S. presidents have refused to recognize Jerusalem as part of Israel, believing that the status of the city must be decided in negotiations. Last year, a federal appeals court ruled that the law unconstitutionally infringed on the president’s authority to recognize foreign states.
Congress was pushing the constitutional envelope with the passport bill, but no one would dispute that it has some say over foreign affairs. But where did the Georgia state Senate get the idea that it could pronounce on issues of Middle East diplomacy? That body recently adopted Resolution 739, subtitled: “To commend the Nation of Israel for its cordial and mutually beneficial relationship with the United States and with the State of Georgia; and for other purposes.”

The “other purposes” include the declaration of a Georgia foreign policy that is at odds with that of the United States. The Georgia Senate declares that “Israel is neither an attacking force nor an occupier of the lands of others, and that peace can be afforded the region only through a whole and united Israel.” For good measure, the resolution makes it clear that a “whole and united Israel” includes Jerusalem and the West Bank. So much for the two-state solution the Obama administration is promoting." (thanks Electronic Ali)

US weapons to good Jihadi Islamists

"Light arms supplied by the United States are flowing to "moderate" Syrian rebel factions in the south of the country and U.S. funding for months of further deliveries has been approved by Congress, according U.S. and European security officials. The weapons, most of which are moving to non-Islamist Syrian rebels via Jordan, include a variety of small arms, as well as some more powerful weapons, such as anti-tank rockets."

people behind bars in the US

"About 2.4 million people live behind bars in America — the highest number in the world."

Patriot of Ukraine group (they call them "liberals" in the US press)

"Also prominent in the demonstrations are paramilitaries from the Patriot of Ukraine group, the former paramilitary wing of Svoboda. Its thugs are featured on photos from recent protests, armed with chains and bricks and sporting fascist symbols on their shields."

combating terrorism?

"Called "Psychology A New Kind of SIGDEV" (Signals Development), the presentation includes a section that spells out "Broad real-time monitoring of online activity" of YouTube videos, URLs "liked" on Facebook, and Blogspot/Blogger visits. The monitoring program is called "Squeaky Dolphin." "

You're effectively working for NSA

"Intelligence agencies collect so much data from the app that "you'll be able to clone Google's database" of global searches for directions, according to a top-secret N.S.A. report from 2007. "It effectively means that anyone using Google Maps on a smartphone is working in support of a G.C.H.Q. system," a secret 2008 report by the British agency says."

Abe Foxman has a new defintion of anti-Semitism

"The head of a New York-based group that combats anti-Semitism says the way the U.S. is treating a convicted Jewish-American spy verges on anti-Semitism." (thanks Amir)

New York Times is outraged: US strikes only killed "some civilians" in Afghanistan but not more

"There is no dispute that American airstrikes on Jan. 15 did hit Wazghar, a few hours’ drive west of Kabul in a valley controlled by the Taliban, and that some civilians were killed there. The American-led coalition put the number at two, and said the airstrikes were called in after a force of Afghan commandos and their American advisers were pinned down by heavy Taliban fire from the village and were unable to retreat."

Free speech in the US Congress

""Legislation that targets the American Studies Association over its decision to boycott Israel passed its first test today: a vote in the New York Senate. The bill, introduced by Democratic Senator Jeff Klein, the co-leader of the body, passed by a vote of 56-4.

The measure prohibits colleges and universities from spending taxpayer funds on academic groups that support boycotting Israel.  While the measure applies to any academic organization that boycotts countries where the New York Board of Regents has chartered a school, the focus is on Israel.  A companion bill is currently being considered in the Assembly.  If it passes there–48 lawmakers are co-sponsors of it–it will be up to Governor Andrew Cuomo to either sign the bill or veto it."" (thanks Nikolai)

Gates on Bush

"Gates reported Bush was not going to do a surprise attack but he worried the president, who was “very pro-Israel . . . might just decide to let the Israelis take care of the reactor.”

Three days later, Gates urged Bush to tell Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, “if Israel went forward on its own militarily, he would be putting Israel’s entire relationship with the United States at risk.” Bush talked to Olmert on July 13, who said the reactor “represented an existential threat to Israel [and] that it could not trust diplomacy to fix,” Gates said.

The next day, Bush said he was impressed with Olmert’s “steadfastness” and, according to Gates, was “unwilling to preempt the prime minister through a diplomatic initiative or even to put much pressure on him.” He also noted there were others, including Vice President Dick Cheney, who supported Israel doing whatever it wanted.

Writes Gates, “By not confronting Olmert, Bush effectively came down on Cheney’s side. By not giving the Israelis a red light, he gave them a green one” and on Sept. 6, 2007, the Israelis destroyed the reactor. "

Lebanese media (which receives susbidies from Michel Murr) still insists that Elias Murr is president of Interpol

From Ali: "In case it is changed by the time you read it, here it is "The meeting was held at Metn MP Michel Murr’s residence in Rabieh to honor his son, Elias Murr, after his election as the new president of Interpol, and the organization’s Secretary-General Ronald Nobel.""

Qaradawi on Saudi Arabia

""It's surprising that the Saudi government gave billions of dollars to support the (anti-Mursi) coup and the coup leaders and those who are far from God and Islam," Qaradawi, one of the most influential Sunni Muslim clerics in the Middle East, told Reuters in an interview conducted by email. "These rulers hate Saudi Arabia and its ruling regime. They do not believe in sharia," he added, referring to strict Islamic law applied in Saudi Arabia." (thanks Basim)

What is left out of the dispatches of Anne Barnard in the New York Times

Yesterday, Anne Barnard wrote a long article in which she expressed her great amusement to scenes of supporters of the Syrian exile opposition hounding and yelling obscenities at officials of the Syrian regime in Geneva.  As always in the Syria coverage in the Times (and the Post) you only get half of the picture only--or even less.  She does not tell you, that supporters of the Syrian regime are also hounding officials of the exile Syrian opposition (but with no obscenities in this link).  In this link, a journalist who is supportive of the Syrian regime, merely asked questions to the head of the Syrian opposition delegation, and his response? He called on "security" to come and remove her merely because she was asking him (rather politely) questions that he did not like to answer.   Kid you not.  This segment aired yesterday on New TV in Lebanon. 

Field Marshals in Arab politics

 From Khaled:  "The rank of a Field-Marshal is only awarded for exceptional performance of a general, as in winning battles!
In peacetime, the rank is rarely awarded.

But the "rank inflation" as my father used to call it in the 1960s, came from Egypt, and infected the Syrian Army upon unity with Egypt.

"Rank inflation" has serious adverse effect of creating a top-heavy armies and complicating the chain of commands, in addition to reducing the quality of army command at all levels and creating a non-functional expansion of the officer ranks.

It is not clear whether the Syrian army gave up this practice, although there are signs that its operational officer corps seem to have become more professional and specialized, no doubt due to the tens of thousands of Soviet and Russian instructors who were deployed in Syria over the last five decades.

One notes that even Hafith Al-Assad did not promote himself beyond the rank of a full General ( عماد / فريق أول). President Bashar Al-Assad is a Marshal, as one notes in a photograph below [above]. "

Sisi media newspaper of Egypt publishes what it says is a document about a plan to sabotage Egypt--no less--during the anniversary of the "revolution"--revolution, my potato--and the plan was led by Ahmad Al-Ja`bari, who had been dead since December 2012.  (thanks Hossam)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

So the UN sent an investigation team to Qatar (and Qatar allowed it in) because an American couple were put on trial in Qatar

"It came against the backdrop of heightened publicity over perceived flaws in a number of prominent cases involving foreigners, most notably an American couple accused of starving their adopted African daughter to death in order to sell her organs."

What is moral of this story?

"My young Yemeni friend, Abdo, who attends high school in Bensonhurst, told me that he played soccer after school almost every day. “Usually,” he volunteered, “the teams are Arabs against Russians.”

I was surprised that among teenage American boys, longstanding ethnic, political and cultural forces, even antagonisms, continued to define the divisions among them.

When I asked him why the teams were segregated this way, he explained, “It lets us call out plays to our teammates without the other side figuring out what we are doing.”"

Yarmouk Camp

My latest blog post for Al-Akhbar English on Yarmouk Camp.

The Washington Post's article on the rise of the left in Latin America

So the Washington Post noted the rise of the left but then gleefully added:  "But in other countries, particularly in Central America, Washington continues to wield enormous influence. In Honduras, locals still refer to the U.S. diplomatic mission as “The Embassy,” as if it were the only one in the country."  Is this for real?


School email down.  Blogging delayed.  

Bashshar and Iran

I am told by a knowledgeable source that at one point when the Syrian rebels advanced toward Damascus, Bashshar expressed a willingness to step down but that the Iranian regime did not let him and pressured Hizbullah to intervene on his behalf.  I don't know if this is true because the impression that I have is that Bashshar is very stubborn and does not seem to be the type who would step down voluntarily.  But who knows?

Hamas in Syria

A Hizbullah fighter came from Syria and told that his groups captured some rebels and one of them was a Hamas fighter that he himself had trained in the past.

When Muslims are under attack, it is not news

"Looting and mob violence mainly targeting predominantly Muslim neighborhoods of Bangui have intensified in the past week despite the presence of a French intervention force and thousands of African peacekeepers." (thanks Amir)

US Military Brass: liberators of Muslim women

"Brig. Gen. Bryan T. Roberts publicly warned his troops at Fort Jackson, S.C., last spring that he and the Army had “zero tolerance for sexual harassment and sexual assault.” Here’s what the Army didn’t tell the soldiers: At the time, Roberts himself was under investigation by the military over allegations that he physically assaulted one of his mistresses on multiple occasions."

Field Marshal of Bahrain

And Bahrain's tyranny has its Field Marshal. Kid you not.

AIPAC and one of its own

"Just two weeks ago, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee was going after Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) for not backing a controversial Iran sanctions bill. But a Monday report reveals the powerful lobbying group has quietly reversed course and is now defending its otherwise fierce pro-Israel ally.

The Washington Free Beacon first reported earlier this month that AIPAC was urging key supporters in South Florida to demand that Wasserman Schultz explain why she isn't supporting the sanctions bill pushed by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). AIPAC has been lobbying hard for the measure, despite warnings from the White House and foreign policy experts that it could upset a delicate, six-month agreement between Iran and six negotiating countries to curtail Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for relief from some existing sanctions.

HuffPost  reported Jan. 15 that Wasserman Schultz, also the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, spoke forcefully against the bill in a private meeting at the White House with about four dozen House Democrats.

But in a Jan. 24 letter obtained Monday by the Washington Free Beacon, AIPAC’s Southeastern states director, Mark Kleinman, issued a strong defense of Wasserman Schultz. The letter also claims the HuffPost story was "inaccurate," but doesn't say why."

Fahmi Huwaydi

Fahmi Huwaydi wrote: "If a passerby looked at Egypt last Saturday, he would have thought that it was celebrating the return of the Mubarak regime more than commemorating 25th of January".

PS Fahmi Huwaydi is probably one of the most widely read Arab columnist today.

Oxfam and donors

Between a Hollywood celebrity and an occupied and repressed people in developing countries, Western human rights organizations--not only Oxfam--choose celebrities any day.

"Burmese bin Laden" swears he's a good guy

""Wirathu and his followers in the grassroots nationalist Buddhist group he leads, known as the 969 Movement, believe that Myanmar is under threat from what they claim is a dangerous, rapidly growing Muslim population. (The country is about 90 percent Buddhist.) They blame this growth on illegal immigration from Bangladesh and high birthrates. During his virulent anti-Islam sermons, Wirathu often describes Muslims as tireless proselytisers looking to take over Buddhist land with force or money, and displays graphic images of Buddhists killed by Muslims in southern Thailand and other areas of the world."" (thanks Regan)

I bet he has Hollywood groupies.

The weather woman of New TV of Lebanon: before the arrival of ISIS to Lebanon and after

(On top is the picture of the current weather woman of New TV, and at bottom is the new version after the arrival of ISIS). (thanks Amal)

touting Syrian officials in Sitzwerland

This is one of the silliest articles I have read on Syria all week.  Ms. Barnard is jubilant that some members of the Syrian opposition in Switzerland has be touting Syrian officials in Geneva.  She says:  "New encounters — some cordial, some not".  Ms. Barnard is celebrating the fact that some opposition folks are hounding Syrian officials but she does not tell you: 1) that the hounding includes yelling obscenities at them. 2) Syrian regime reporters, just like Syrian opposition reporters, also hound and tout Syrian opposition figures.  It is not a one way streak.  3) This is not the first time this has happened--as she claims--and it has happened in Cairo.  4) She does not tell you that the Syrian opposition "reporters"--as she calls them--have also yelled obscenities and beat up and spat on representatives of the internal Syrian opposition of the coordination committee (people like Haytham Al-Manna`).  5) Would the New York Times cover with amusement when leftist activists in the US hound officials of the US government, and would the paper write about them in admiration?  Hardly.  6) The article is filled with stories by one side only without any verification or substantiation by the other side.  Look at this story here:  "An opposition member said that when he approached a former girlfriend, a state media journalist, no one was near, but she shushed him, he said, as if they were being recorded."  I mean, is there anything that Ms. Barnard does not believe if told to her by March 14 of Syria or Lebanon? Fore sure, her reporting from Lebanon thus far revealed not an iota of skepticism toward March 14 of Syria and Lebanon.  7) Regarding this passage:  "So for them to sit across from Haitham al-Maleh, an opposition delegate in his 80s who is a former political prisoner, is “historic,” the journalist said, “as if people from the Stalinist system suddenly sat down with Solzhenitsyn or Sakharov.”"  Did you forget to tell readers that this fellow is a pro-Saudi Ikhwan Islamist, or is that not convenient for the propaganda cause?   8) Most importantly: she (and others in the Western press) have failed to report what even supporters of the opposition have complained about: the representative of the Syrian opposition in the negotiations came across as extremely incompetent and inarticulate especially in comparison with the trained spokepeople and propagandists and officials of the Syrian regime.  Many in the opposition wondered why people like Burhan Ghalyun, for example, was not asked to head the delegation and to speak to the press.  If you are studying the Middle East and rely on the New York Times for your daily knowledge of the region, I truly feel sorry for you. 

Daily corrections for Ms. Anne Barnard

"Correction: January 28, 2014

An earlier version of this article misstated the age of Adnan Hadad and misidentified his radio station. He is 29, not 24, and his station is Radio Hara, not Radio al-Kul.
Correction: January 28, 2014

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misquoted Mr. Hadad. He said he hoped that his opponents — not the rebels —   had changed their minds after coming face to face with how they are seen by the rest of the world."

Anne Barnard's contetion

Repeatedly over the last year (and more), Anne Barnard has been consistently writing that the Syrian regime always refers to ALL opposition in Syria as terrorists.  I gave up pointing out that this in fact is blatantly untrue--to put it politely.  Just the other day, Faysal Muqdad in Geneva went out of his way to say that the lousy regime makes distinctions between different strands of the opposition, and he specifically said that not all opposition groups are terrorists.  I know that Anne Barnard does not know Arabic but he said that specifically. Of course, the regime has never been hospitable of any opposition except what he terms the "loyal" opposition, but respect for facts and truths is really totally disregarded in the propaganda dispatches on Syria that I read in the New York Times.   It is now considered bad for the cause of the opposition to report the government side in the Syrian conflict.   Whether you like it or not, there are some in Syria who still support the regime, just as there are some who support the opposition and just as there are some who hate both sides.  But Western correspondents are not in the business of covering the news on Syria:  You should read the twitter's accounts of Western correspondents in the Middle East: they read like the news bulletin of the Free Syrian Army. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Correction: the first Arab Field Marshal

I received a correction that the first Arab Field Marshal rank was bestowed not on `Abdul-Hakim `Amir, as I posted below, but on Husni Az-Za`im.

Obama's lie exposed

"Obama was caught in a flagrant lie after news of the NSA engaging in industrial espionage.  In his Jan. 17 speech he said:  "We do not collect intelligence to provide a competitive advantage to U.S. companies or U.S. commercial sectors."" (thanks Joe)

For a sophisticated and nuanced analysis of international affairs, I always turn to this man

"President Bashar al-Assad of Syria is a monster. "  And Saddam was a Ghul.  And Mubarak is a zombie. 

Field Marshal Sisi

One of the sins of the Nasserist regime is the introduction of the rank of Mushir (Field Marshal) which was bestowed on one of the worst military leaders of all time, `Abdul-Hakim `Amir.  Today, Sisi (who does not deserve one medal on his chest) became a Field Marshal.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

US ambassador in Lebanon

US ambassador in Lebanon flies to Riyadh to discuss the formation of of the new Lebanese government.  In other news, both US and Saudi government stressed that they don't interfere in internal Lebanese affairs.

All because the puppet cricized US bombing of Afghan civilians: I am starting to sympathize with the puppet

"“The bill prohibits the obligation or expenditure by the United States government, of funds appropriated in this or any other act, for the direct personal benefit of the President of Afghanistan,” appropriators wrote, an unprecedented move that President Obama signed into law last week."

Sisi: reincarnation of Mubarak

"President Adly Mansour, in a statement, compared the current struggle to the crackdown on an Islamist insurgency by Mubarak in the 1990s."

shooting by police in Kiev verus coverage of shooting by police in Cairo

"Two protesters have been killed by gunfire".  Notice they don't say that they died in "battle" as they say about Cairo shooting.

raped by village elders and other men as a punishment for falling in love with a Muslim

"India’s Supreme Court ordered an investigation Friday into the case of a young tribal woman who reported having been gang-raped by village elders and other men as a punishment for falling in love with a Muslim."


News is never made at Davos despite the many TV reports and newspaper articles.  But they have to justify the exorbitant cost of attendance to their readers by providing long silly articles and reports devoid of news value.

Zionist-Wahhabi honeymoon

"Kerry pushed back against the accusation, voiced prominently at Davos by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal, that the United States is retreating from its responsibilities in the Middle East."

I have never seen anything like this: the Washington Post on how anti-Semitism in France is driving Jews to leave for Israel

"Merran, who wears a skullcap, said he was accosted on the subway by French Arabs. His sister was cursed with an anti-Semitic slur on a public street. The fact that he wanted to be home on Friday afternoons for the Jewish Sabbath was frowned upon at the bank."  If those are grounds for leaving France--if this is true, of course--than millions of Muslims should be leaving Western countries.  Or why not tell readers about what Israel AND Israeli people do to Arabs and blacks there?

Why the US should spy on the world, according to the senator from California

"“I think a lot of the privacy people don’t understand that we still occupy the role of Great Satan,” she said in a recent television interview, referring to hostility toward the United States among Islamist extremists. "

Kerry's fresh new ideas: invisible occupation

"Other ideas floated by the Allen team include an “invisible” Israeli presence at the border crossings to Jordan..."

Liz Sly: the humor of the day from Geneva

"In one possible sign of the government’s misgivings about the talks, the most senior members of its delegation stayed away from Saturday’s sessions. Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem, the head of the delegation, as well as Zoubi, Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad and presidential adviser Bouthaina Shaaban, did not attend. The government delegation was headed by Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar al-Jaafari.

A U.S. official in Geneva, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said the failure of the top officials to attend demonstrates “that they do not represent the best interests of the Syrian people, who deserve real negotiations to end the war and the suffering.”  You read this and then you read this in passing:  "the head of the opposition’s delegation, Ahmad al-Jarba, also did not attend."

BDS: here to stay and to spread

"U.S. academics are not in the lead here. Matters are far more developed in Europe, where faculties have fought to divest and boycott Israel and where the European Union is moving toward labeling products from illegal Israeli settlements. But U.S. academics recognize a special mission: Israeli institutions that benefit from the occupation do so with impunity granted by U.S. financial, military and diplomatic support. If the United States underwrites the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lives, then U.S. scholars have a responsibility to call that support to account. That is why the ASA acted. I, for one, am glad it did. "

touching indeed

"Noah Feldman, a constitutional scholar at Harvard Law School, posted a description of the scene in Tunis on Jan. 9 when this “Article 45” was passed: “After the vote, the assembly and audience stood up spontaneously and sang the national anthem. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house — including mine.” "

PS Notice that in this one article, Ignatisu (an advocate of GCC regimes and Jordan) manages to cites two "experts" from the Hariri center at the Atlantic Council.  Two, not one.

price of occupation in Afghanistan

"More than half of Afghan girls and boys suffer damage to their minds and bodies that cannot be undone because they are poorly fed in the crucial first two years of life, doctors and experts say. The revelation raises serious questions about the legacy of more than 10 years of western involvement in Afghanistan."

Sodastream: apartheid stream

"Sodastream, as we will show, is an Israeli company that is based on an illegal settlement, illegal according to Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949). Not only are we concerned with Ms. Johansson's involvement with this firm, but we are equally troubled by how her work erodes Oxfam's credibility as a social justice organization."

US does engage in industiral espionage

""The U.S. National Security Agency is involved in industrial espionage and will grab any intelligence it can get its hands on regardless of its value to national security, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden told a German TV network."


(thanks Amir)

Oxfam would choose a Hollywood celebrity over an occupied people any day, it seems

""In doing so, it [Oxfam] has taken a clear position against Palestinians and their rights and chosen complicity with Israeli occupation and colonization.""

"battles with police" in Egypt

Of course, when civilian protesters were shot at by Syrian regime troops, this was never referred to as "battles with police" in the US media:  "In addition to the six people killed by the bombs, at least eight more civilian protesters were killed in battles with the police, the Health Ministry said, bringing to 14 the total number who died Friday in violence."

Arab masses represented at Davos

"Worries that American power in the Middle East has ebbed have been a major topic of discussion among many of the United States’ historical allies. "  Yes, Israel and Saudi Arabia want more US wars and bombs in the region. 

Why does hostitlity to Israel (but not to Iran or Arabs or Muslims, say) carry special labels in Western media?

"anti-Israel vitriol".   Can one be anti-Israel and respected just as anti-Arabs and anti-Muslims are widely respected in US media and culture, for example?

An Afghan interpreter for the New York Times

Headline:  "Former Interpreter for The Times Is Killed in Afghanistan"
The story:  "Mr. Noori had worked with a number of different news organizations in Helmand and spoke some English." 

Providing context for Israeli murder of Palestinians to justify the murder

The job of the foreign editor of American newspapers is partly to insert "context" for every case of Israeli murder of Palestinians in order to justify the murder.  Look at this story:
The story:  "Palestinian officials said that the Israeli military killed a 20-year-old Gaza man and wounded".
The context: 1) "A spokeswoman for the Israeli military, speaking on the condition of anonymity according to protocol, said that a single shot was fired in each location, after soldiers had used crowd-dispersal techniques, including firing warning shots. She said the Palestinians had “damaged the fence, hurled rocks and rolled burning tires at the soldiers at the scene.” "
                          2) "The shootings capped a week of escalating border violence ".
                          3 ) "There have been several instances of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel over the past two weeks, at one point causing some school cancellations in southern Israel."
                           4) "Avi Issacharoff, an Israeli journalist who specializes in security issues, wrote on the website of The Times of Israel on Friday that smaller militant groups in Gaza have been taking advantage of Hamas’s weakness".

This is how the Washington Post's investigatin refutes claims (proven repeatedly) of civilian deaths by US bombs in Afghanistan

"Western officials and some Afghan have begun to push back. On Jan. 17, after the lead Afghan investigator looking into the airstrikes said at least 14 civilians had been killed, Abdul Basir Salangi, the governor of Parwan Province, where the strikes took place, offered a blunt retort. He said the death toll was in the single digits and those claiming higher deaths tolls were “supporters of the Taliban.”"  Case closed.  All those who claims that civilian lives mean anything are terrorists and should also be droned, according to the Post?

A UAE hashtag spread

This is an actual hashtag spreading in the UAE: it reads "O noble men of Egypt, kill the Ikhwan [the Muslim Brothers]".  Some in Egypt are heeding the call, it seems.