Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"So predictable: Saudi regime media now lauds Muqtada, the astronaut"

"Iraq’s Shiite cleric and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr’s visits to Saudi Arabia and the UAE have changed a few hearts and opened outlets. Muqtada al-Sadr’s steps may seem small to some but they resemble the steps of American astronaut Neil Armstrong in the sense that they are huge for Arabs and Muslims at this difficult time." (thanks Basim)

A DC think tank doubles as a lobbying form and doubles as a brokering institute and doubles as a Zionist recipient of Gulf money

"And by the way, I don't 'broker' meetings. The Washington Institute, like other research organisations/think-tanks, regularly arranges meetings... that bring together all sorts of people, from all range of governments and backgrounds, in a wide variety of formats....Satloff opened his note by thanking the UAE ambassador for "the generous new year's gift"*, without specifying what he had been given."  Yes, sure and no string attached. I always remember that.

*Responding to the reference to the "generous new year's gift, Satloff said that the policies of WINEP prevent any member of the staff from receiving any gift from a foreign government worth more than $20.  So I can only speculate that the gift must have been either a happy meal from McDonald or a box of Kleenex tissues.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Oh, the US Department of State's Annual Report on Religious Freedom found this evidence of anti-Semitism in Syria

"Government-controlled radio and television programming continued to disseminate anti-Semitic news articles and cartoons. SANA frequently reported on the “Zionist enemy” and accused the opposition of serving “the Zionist project.” The government repeated its claim a “Zionist conspiracy” was responsible for the country’s conflict. In April SANA reported on “al-Quds Cultural Day” in Damascus, a monthly event to address the “Judaization” of Jerusalem and “resistance against the Zionist project.”"

Islamism came to Sudan with direct US support to combat the powerful Sudanese Communist Party

The Islamism of Ja`far Numayri was a direct product of his alliance with the US and Saudi camp in the region. Today, a Salafi considered the late Fatimah Ahmad Ibrahim, the Sudanese communist feminist and struggler, as an infidel due to her Marxism.

The farce: it is called the US Department of State Annual Report on Religious freedoms around the world

In Israeli occupation state, the US government found this evidence of religious persecution: "The Waqf continued to restrict non-Muslims from entering the Dome of the Rock shrine and the Al-Aqsa Mosque and prohibited individuals from wearing non-Muslim religious symbols on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif."   In Lebanon, the report strains to find evidence of religious persecution so it included silliest material. Also, the report clearly relies on statements and allegations of Lebanese Forces. Worse, it gave bogus numbers of sectarian distribution of the population: "Statistics Lebanon estimates 36.8 percent of the population is Christian." This firm is owned by a Lebanese Forces affiliate and the numbers it provides only fit into the narrative of the right-wing sectarian agenda.  This percentage of Christians in Lebanon is just ridiculous. It is probably less than 30%.  And look at this statement: "In their monthly meeting in February Maronite bishops expressed concern over what they said was discrimination against Christians in terms of access to public offices and state financial resources."  Discrimination against Christians in access to public offices? Where and when?  Also, where did the report find this gem: "In September Hizballah announced a boycott of the Hajj and threatened to expel any party members who traveled to Mecca." Expelling members for visiting Mecca? Is this for real, when the brother of Hizbullah deputy-secretary general, Na`im Qasim, runs a company which organizes Hajj tours.  The report also found evidence of anti-Semitism: "The Jewish Community Council reported continued acts of vandalism against the Jewish cemetery in Beirut during the year. Construction rubble and trash were also thrown into the cemetery. The council complained to the security forces but stated they took no action."  Excuse me: but there is trash in most cemeteries in Lebanon. Would that also mean anti-Islam and anti-Christianity?  And this is the section about Syria: " The Alawite-led government and allied, mostly foreign, Shia militia allies killed, arrested, and physically abused Sunnis and members of targeted religious minority groups, and intentionally destroyed their property, according to numerous reports".  Wait: did the Syrian government go after them because they are Sunni? Is the Alawite-led government ever reluctant to arrest and torture and persecute someone who is Alawi if they revolt against the regime and take up arms?  But this is my favorite section: "According to human rights groups and religious communities, the government continued to monitor and control sermons and to close mosques between prayers. It also continued to monitor and limit the activities of all religious groups, including scrutinizing their fundraising and discouraging proselytizing." So the US urges Saudi and Qatari and Jordanian regimes to monitor sermons and watch mosques but is displeased when that happens by the Syrian regime?  Also, I hate to bother the US government, but does the FBI monitor mosque sermons in the US?  They would not do that, would they, given that the US is the land of the free and home of the brave? Here, the US report criticizes the Syrian government for this evidence of religious persecution: "Throughout the year, Hassoun called for combating “takfiri (Muslims who kill other Muslims who do not follow the same belief structure) mentality” and called for support of the army and leadership, according to the official state news agency. In meetings with Islamic scholars in June, President Bashar al-Asad stated the religious establishment should spread a “correct” understanding of religion."  And here the US government found evidence of sectarianism by the Syrian regime: "Media and academic experts said the government continued to portray the armed resistance in sectarian terms, saying opposition protesters and fighters were associated with “extreme Islamist factions” and terrorists seeking to eliminate the country’s religious minority groups and its secular approach to governance. For instance, the official state news agency, Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), reported on the government’s fight against “takfiri terrorist organizations” throughout the year. In a September interview with AFP, President Asad said “most of the militants belong to extremist groups, such as [ISIS], [JAN], [Ahrar al-Sham], and others…every terrorist is an enemy.” According to international media reports, leaders from a number of minority religious groups, such as representatives of the Catholic and Orthodox Christian communities as well as prominent Druze activists, stated the government had their support because it was their protector against violent Sunni extremists."  I also noticed that the report in the sections on Qatar and Saudi Arabia gave specific examples of anti-Semitism in the press but gave not one example of anti-Shi`ism (far more abundant) in the Qatari and Saudi press.  But the hilarious part of the report is this: when pro-US regimes attack extremist ideologies and organizations it is praised, but when Syrian regime does it, it is criticized as evidence of sectarianism. Notice that the report does not care for insults and offenses against atheists.  They don't count for the Christian government of the US.

PS By the way, the report lied when it said that access to the Wailing Wall is open to all. A Palestinian under occupation told me that access for Arabs was revoked ten years ago.

Monday, August 14, 2017

"Women living in countries w/ more traditional gender roles are MORE likely to major in mathematics & statistics, not less"

Martin Chulov discovered a miracle in Syria: a man who started medical school at age 12 or 13

Martin Chulov--and the whole coverage of the Guardian of Syria--deserves an award for the most undistinguished mainstream ill-informed Western media coverage of the Arab world.  Look at this sentence in Chulov's article: "“I worked as a doctor in Arsal at the Central hospital and at the Islamic hospital,” said Dr Hassan Ammar, 24."  So he was a medical doctor at age 19, which means that he must have started medical school at age 12 or 13 especially if you count years of residency.   (thanks Suheil)

Who is Jamal Abdul-Nassar?

"Throughout Egypt, posters of al-Sisi wearing dark glasses abound, which is reminiscent of Gamal Abdel Nassar".

The Saudi ambassador in the US wears a US flag on his lapel--how patriotic of him

Wait: US media still call Idlib "liberated areas"

From Angry Arab's correspondent in Turkey: "For NYT, Al Qaeda has just taken control of Idilb, of course not right after jihadi coalition lead by Al Qaeda's Syria branch, captured the city from Syrian army in 2015, thanks to US backing."

The UAE grill

"Hundreds of men swept up in the hunt for al-Qaida militants have disappeared into a secret network of prisons in southern Yemen where abuse is routine and torture extreme — including the "grill," in which the victim is tied to a spit like a roast and spun in a circle of fire, an Associated Press investigation has found."

When Mattis treated to destroy the people of North Korea

From Kim: "Imagine if an Arab country or Iran where to threaten Israel with the "destruction of its people" There would be cries of genocide and Holocaust from Western MSM. Yet not one peep to that tune when an American Secretary of Defense threatens the genocide of the North Korean people."

Jamal Khashoggi is allowed to resume his...praise of the Saudi regime

اعود للكتابة والتغريد، الشكر لمعالي وزير الاعلام لمساعيه الطيبة والشكر والولاء متصلان لسمو ولي العهد لا كُسر في عهده قلمٌ حر ولا سكت مغرد .

Look how absurd.  Saudi regime advocate, Jamal Khashoggi, expresses his gratitude to the Saudi minister of information for allowing him to resume his services in praise of the Saudi regime and its crimes.  

The human rights poseur is at it again

Saudis should investigate whether their forces are using excessive force in besieged Shia town and let people flee.

When he talks about Russian and Syrian repression, he always uses the word "slaughter".  But for Saudi regime, he uses "excessive force", as if he is talking about killing and massacres by his beloved Israel.  

Corruption and the Syrian regime

It is rather amazing that corruption of the Syrian armed forces increased during this on-going war.  I hear that Hizbullah sometimes appoints commanders to certain units just to prevent looting by Syrian regime forces.

Wait: this human rights poseur has been saying all along that the Syrian regime never fights Al-Qa`idah?

Favorite place to put Syrian displaced--Idlib province--is increasingly caught in warfare between Al-Qaeda and Assad

In the very first paragraph of its report, HRW justifies Saudi regime crimes against civilians in Awamiyyah

"Saudi security forces have surrounded and sealed off the predominantly Shia town of Awamiya in July 2017 as they confronted an armed group hiding in a historic neighborhood slated for demolition, Human Rights Watch said today." (thanks Basim)

There is no way that the Saudi regime will allow Prince `Abdul-`Azizi bin Fahd to maintain his public dissent

Prince `Abdul-`Aziz bin Fahd continues to challenge the King and his son Twitter.  I am told that he is writing from France and not from inside the Kingdom.  But this role of his is galvanizing the Islamist opposition within the Kingdom, and his criticisms--first of MbZ and then of the policies of the Kingdom will sting.  I expect something will be done about that.

U.S. Cable: Philippines has $1T untapped mineral wealth

"Based on incomplete data and unconfirmed reports, the Philippines may have untapped mineral wealth worth between US$ 840 billion and US$ 1 trillion. (The U.S. Geological Survey hopes soon to conduct a more comprehensive survey of minerals, with funding from the GRP.) A special advisor on the GRP-MILF Peace Process in the Office of the President recently described Mindanao in particular as "a treasure trove" of mineral resources, including gold, copper, nickel, manganese, chromite, silver, lead, zinc, and iron ore. According to data from the GRP Mines and Geosciences Bureau, up to 70 per cent of the Philippines' mineral resources may be in Mindanao." (thanks Amir)

A member of the Political Leadership of the Syrian National Coalition defects...back to the Syrian regime

Bassam Al-Malik, who was a member of the political committee of the Syrian National Coalition and the PR head in Cairo defected back to the Syrian regime accusing US and Gulf regimes of conspiracies against Syria.  What will happen to Liz Sly when she reads this?

Yes, while the Saudi King is the idol of US liberals and conservatives.

I think if the far right idolizes the Saudi King they would become mainstream for the US press. From WP: "Syria’s Assad has become an unexpected icon of the far right in America".

Sunday, August 13, 2017

You know who comes up with those silly gimmicks for Gulf rulers? US and EU PR firms

Mark this: Richard Spencer (white supremacist leader) is a huge fan of the articles on ISIS by Graeme Wood in the Atlantic

"Spencer began by complimenting my reporting for this magazine on the Islamic State. “Your articles on isis have been popular on the alt-right,” he told me."  No wonder, the difference between Wood and Spencer as far as Islamophobia is concerned is that one is "respectable" and the other is not--by DC standards. 

PS As you remember, Wood (no expert on Islam) has made himself (or made by the Zionist Atlantic Monthly) an expert on Islam. His method of reporting: find those "experts" on Islam who reinforce your Islamophoboic views and market them as a new thesis.  Oh, he is now a professor at Yale University's Political Science department with a BA under his belt.

Liz Sly exploits the Nazi riot in Charlottesville for propaganda purposes

Leave it to Liz Sly to bring the Syria story, and her propaganda effort on behalf of Syrian Jihadi rebels, into the racist riot in Charlottesville.   She found a picture on the FB page of a racist for Bashshar Al-Asad thus she found her story.  She is so excited.  What an embarrassment to journalism that this person is considered a journalist.

According to the Senate Democratic Leader: a Palestinian summer camp is posting an existential threat to Israel

Read all about it.  A new threat to Israeli occupation and aggression.

Washington Post about Muslim refugees in Germany being anti-Semitic

Look at this long story: the evidence for the claim about an anti-Semitic problem of the Syrian refugees is one person.  This is what is called documentation.  This is exactly the same tactics that anti-Semitic rhetoric is all about: when you take one Jewish person as an example for world Jewry.  Here, one Muslim person represents not only all Syrian refugees but all of Islam.

You know who annoys me the most in the US culture? 60s leftists (Todd Gitlin) who became reactionaries but still speak for 60s radicals

It really repulses me that Todd Gitlin is still chosen by US media to speak on behalf of the left (because they know that he can use "the credibility of his past" to bestow legitimacy on the right today.  This is like when the Washington Post picks Kathy Young to bash feminism--in the name of some weird bizarre notions of feminism.  Look what Gitlin said: "some charges were valid, even if it was people like D’Souza who made them."  Worse, look at at his sociological evidence for his claim that the left is a threat to freedom of speech on college campuses: " I saw an anti-Murray demonstrator at Columbia later that month holding a sign saying “NO FREE SPEECH.” "  Of course, he says not a word about the biggest threat to freedom of speech on US college campuses: the Zionist threat.  If Todd Gitlin is Left, please count me as a non-leftist.

John McCain has a strategy for Afghanistan and the US press is very impressed

This is what is considered a strategy?  Every military strategy for John McCain (on every country on earth) only means: more US troops and more bombs dropped.  

White Supremacy on the March

It is not only the racism, anti-Semitism, and bigotry and now violence of the White Supremacists which are offensive, but also the rush of the two US parties exploit the situation to clean their records and to attempt to pose as enemies of racism when both parties have been beneficiaries of White Supremacies since their inception.  The campaigns by Reagan and later by Clinton were clear political movements which aimed to woo white voters on the basis of resentment and offensives to blacks and minorities.  The blatant wing of the White Supremacist movement in the US is a manifestation of the work of the two parties who mobilized white voters against minorities and women: witness how both Reagan and Clinton led racist campaigns against welfare recipients.  As for Obama, he will be remembered as the president who condemned white racism far less than any recent white president.  You can look it up.  White media loved Obama's speeches on race only because he managed to fill his rhetoric with nuances which intended to absolve whites (and his white grandmother in particular) from responsibility.  It is quite jarring now that the test of one's opposition to racism is merely the ability to offer a statement against the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville.  In other words, Trump is an extension of Reagan and Clinton--and even of Obama.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fatimah Ahmad Ibrahim is dead

The great Sudanese communist struggler, Fatimah Ahmad Ibrahim, is dead.  She was the first elected women to parliament in the Arab world.  She was for years a member of the Sudanese Communist Party's Central Committee.

A rule in the NYT: every Israeli crime, every repression, every massacre has to be justified in the same sentence

"Challenged by hostile forces on most of its fronts, Israel is already pretty much walled in."

In the New York Times, and in the Western press, this guy is considered an insightful foreign policy analyst

I bet that commentaries in North Korean press are less childish and less dumb than Thomas Friedman's: "Instead we should be telling Kim Jong-un: “Hey, pal, not impressed with your nuclear toys, been there, done that with the Soviet Union. Time is on our side — and now the whole world is asking why you won’t accept our credible peace proposal. So have fun with your firecrackers! Don’t even think about lobbing one near us, or we might just shut off all the lights in your pathetic failing state. We can do that — just like we can make your rockets blow up or go off course. Have you noticed? And when your people get tired of eating potatoes every night, give us a call: 202-456-1414. Ask for Donald.”" Does he have friends who can tell him how annoying and unintelligent he sounds?

Sherif Mansour (on behalf of the Committee to Protect Some Journalists) in the New York Times

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has chosen some strange, decidedly undemocratic bedfellows and sent a worrying message about its commitment to a free press."   This is such a racist and ignorant argument.  It is the argument which was peddled by Thomas Friedman in his lousy book, From Beirut To Jerusalem: that Israel was a peaceful and democratic state but that the Arab neighbored infested it and polluted it.  As if Israel was not originally and always bad in itself, racist in itself, and repressive in itself. This is a state which jailed poets from early on.  A state which sent women to jail for speeches about Palestine, where colors of the Palestinian flags were banned, where the v-sign was considered illegal.

An Israeli prison called Gaza

"It is a cliche to call Gaza an open-air prison, but to many people it feels not only as if there is no way out, but also that the walls are closing in. Gaza is just 24 miles long on the coastline — less than the length of a marathon. At its narrowest it is just four miles, an hour’s walk.  The enclave is surrounded by Israeli perimeter fence, bristling with cameras, watch towers and remote-controlled machine guns. On the Egyptian border, once ­honey­combed with Hamas smuggling tunnels, there is now a broad buffer zone, scraped clean by bulldozers, as forbidding as a no man’s land. And the sea? Gaza fishermen are blocked by Israeli gunboats and forbidden to venture beyond six miles. For young people, the sea that once brought relief is now so polluted by untreated human waste that the Health Ministry has warned bathers to stay away."

This is the vision of Muhammad bin Salman (those posts are not funded by Gulf embassies in DC)

"Among those condemned to death are Mujtaba’a al-Sweikat, who, after attending pro-democracy protests inspired by the Arab Spring in 2011 and 2012, was arrested at an airport in December 2012 as he was leaving the country to visit the campus of Western Michigan University, which he was thinking of attending. Seventeen years old at the time, he was not given a reason for his arrest and has been in prison ever since, convicted without having access to legal representation, according to human rights activists. In a July 22 statement, Western Michigan faculty and administrators said Mr. Sweikat was “subject to sleep deprivations, beatings, cigarette burns, solitary confinement and others forms of torture or suffering.” He was sentenced to death “on the sole basis of a confession extracted by torture,” they added, citing the findings of the U.N. human rights office."

This view is rarely represented in reports by Western correspondents in Beirut

"“Israel caricatures Hizbullah as a terrorist organisation,” says Rifaat Nasrallah, the Christian militia’s leader (and no relation of Hassan). “But the resistance is not some external force that comes to terrorise us. They are part of our society. They attend our weddings and funerals. They take care of me and I take care of them.” Alliances forged in the furnace of Syria’s war may be hard to break."  None of the Western media published about the reception of returning Hizbullah fighters (hostages) into a Christian town in Lebanon last week.

The Crown Prince of Jordan: another brilliant military mind

Who hates Arabs more: a discussion Haaretz

From Eyal: "Yossi Werter, a chief political columnist for Ha'aretz, ridicules Yair  Lapid for his argument in favor of the the Iraqi-Kurdish bid for  secession. Lapid had stated it would be beneficial to have another  Arabic state that's friendly towards Israel. But, this ignorant and
utilitarian racism of Lapid's is not the issue here. Werter points out  that a Kurdish state will not be an Arab state, since Kurds are not  Arabs. But that also isn't the issue. The point is Werter's additional 
comment on Lapid's conflation of Kurds with Arabs. Werter writes: "The  Kurds hate the Arabs even more than the Jews hate the Arabs, and for the  Kurds there is no greater insult than to be called an Arab.""

Lebanese village of Shaqra targeted by Israel for destruction

"I myself have visited Shaqra several times over the past few years and have failed to trip over any rocket launchers, although I have observed a lot of schoolchildren, bakeries, farms, hair salons, a Botox establishment, a colorful entity called “Magic Land,” a pond, and a painting of Che Guevara. Anyway, Magic Land is probably an arms depot."

Israeli weapons company receives funding from the EU

"The European Union is giving millions of dollars of “research” funding to a company that is helping Israel evade an international ban on cluster weapons.” “During its 2006 invasion of Lebanon, Israel fired more than a million cluster munitions into the country. “What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs,” an Israeli army officer told the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz. Those weapons continue to pose a danger to people in Lebanon. Since the 2006 Israeli invasion, according to the US embassy in Beirut, more than 40 people have been killed and 300 injured by unexploded ordnance. Israeli leaders regularly threaten to unleash even greater firepower targeting civilians in a future war on Lebanon."

Saudi regime are killing Saudi citizens, with help from the U.S. & Canada

"Canada is the second largest supplier of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the first being the United States. The tragedy that is befalling Awamiyah is made possible- or at least more lethal- by these massive weapons sales, particularly from the US and Canada."

A foreign government (Israel, naturally) certifies that Gen. McMaster is ideologically qualified for his White House job

""Senior Israeli defense officials told Haaretz on Saturday that the allegations against McMaster concerning Israel are false and baseless. McMaster accompanied Trump to Israel last May, during which he had a three-hour conversation with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Jerusalem. The meeting was described by the Israeli side as excellent." "All on our side who has met McMaster and keeps contact with him are constantly impressed by how pro-Israel he is. The relationship with him is excellent, and we really appreciate him," one of the senior defense officials told Haaretz.""

I just wonder: do sermons in Churches and synagogues are equally monitored in Switzerland

It is clear that this Muslim cleric is a kook but so are many priests, rabbis, ministers, and monks.  If we apply the rational and non-violent standards, many of those merchants of religions would be put out of commission.  

The Emperor, bragging

"He added, "We have many options ..this is our neighbour. We are all over the world and we have troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away." (thanks Amir)

Peter Sluglett on Hanna Batatu

Peter Sluglett died.  I knew him back in the early 1990s when he spent time in DC.  We talked a lot then about Iraq and Arab politics. But we then never spoke again about anything, and had no contact afterwards (for reasons that were not entirely political).  I didn't want to speak about all that if it was not for a colleague who reminded me of a terrible review of Hanna Batatu by Sluglett.  At one point in this review, he says: "I have been told" about Hanna Batatu.  I will say this about Sluglett's famous book on Iraq: that the best part was written by his wife.  Sluglett is one of those people who underwent (convenient) political transformations.