Monday, September 22, 2014

Hexagonite Attack on Syria

In 1956, Egypt was a victim of a tripartite invasion by Israel, UK, and France.  Now, the US is leading the armies of the potentates of Bahrain, UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Jordan in a hexagonite attack on Syria.  The US has a proven record: when it attacks a menace, it replaces him with a worse menace.  Always.

Syrian wars of proxy

My latest blog post for Al-Akhbar English: "Syrian wars of proxy".

Turkey and ISIS

"The Turkish government is denying any deal with the hostage-takers, making it unclear why Isis, notorious for its cruelty and ruthlessness, should hand over its Turkish prisoners on Saturday without a quid pro quo. Hailed in Ankara as a triumph for Turkey, the freeing of the diplomats seized when Mosul fell to Isis on 10 June raises fresh questions about the relationship between the Turkish government and Isis."

massacres of indigenous people

"In the Gulf War, the Second ACR played the role of chief scouts for the US Seventh Corps. A retired ACR commander proudly told a television interviewer that the Second ACR had been formed in the 1830s to fight the Seminoles, and that it had its first great victory when it finally defeated those Indians in the Florida Everglades in 1836. The Second ACR in the vanguard of the ground assault on Iraq thus symbolized the continuity of US war victories and the source of the nation’s militarism: the Iraq War was just another Indian war in the US military tradition."

the combined wealth of the world's billionaires increased by 12 percent to $7.3 trillion

""A new survey shows that 155 new billionaires were minted this year, pushing the total population to a record 2,325 – a 7 percent increase from 2013." "Nevertheless, the combined wealth of the world's billionaires increased by 12 percent to $7.3 trillion, higher than the combined market capitalization of all the companies that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average."" (thanks Amir)

Huthis and Shi`ism

The Saudi and Qatari Wahhabi media are purposefully confusing the issues about the religious affiliation of the Huthis: they are purposefully confusing Huthism with Zaydism and with Jardism and with Shi`ite twelvers.  Huthis are Zaydis but it is a political movement with its own agenda.  It is not part of the Shi`ite twelvers religiously.  It is also not the same as Jarudism.  But for the bigoted Wahhabi media, they all are the same. 

English and Arabic versions of Saudi media

The English version of Saudi media is often totally different from the Arabic version. The English version of websites of newspapers and TV news stations are intended for public consumption by Western diplomats and journalists. 

Hamza Al-Shimali: I want US cash, and I want it now--for my moderation

"A great deal remains uncertain about the Nusra Front’s ultimate aims inside Syria. Hamza al-Shimali, the head of the American-backed rebel group the Hazm Movement, said that he and his allies did not trust the Nusra Front. He said he feared that one day he would have to fight the Nusra Front in addition to the Syrian government and the Islamic State."

Presidential elections in Afghanistan: the joke of the 21st century

"Afghanistan’s American and other international supporters have made a democratic transfer of power a precondition for the continuance of extensive foreign aid programs to the country." WHAT? Condition for continuance of foreign aid? When did Afghanistan ever had a decent presidential election under US occupation? The last one which brought Karzai? Or this one?  What do you say about a presidential election where the two sides agreed to keep the results secret? 

Dalai Lama: if sleep is the highest form of mediation, according to him, why does he not sleep more?

""If we remain indifferent to what is happening around us, it is wrong," the Dalai Lama said. "The spiritual people can show the world that it can be a happy family [despite] the different faiths." " (thanks Basim)

fuzzy thinking

"The piece is riddled with contradictions and fuzzy thinking".

Zionist love affair with Gulf regimes

"It's worth a mention in passing that Ross's article also appears on the Washington Institute website where an introduction actually describes the Gulf monarchies as "non-Islamist actors". There is no sensible definition by which any of the Gulf monarchies can be described as "non-Islamist". All have Islamist features".

Muhammad `Afif talks to Anne Barnard

So the newly appointed director of media affairs for Hizbullah, Muhammad `Afif, spoke to Anne Barnard.  But he did not say anything newsworthy. So what did Ms. Barnard do? She talked to someone who claims that he used to be an interpreter for Hizbullah and who now works for Al-Mayadin, and the whole article is basically based on the views, opinions, and observations of that guy and not on `Afif. 

Kamel Wazne

Only in the articles of Ms. Barnard you read this: "said Kamel Wazne, an analyst who studies Hezbollah and American politics." In Lebanese media, Wazne is appropriately identified as an economic analyst. 

Anne Barnard on Shi`ism

Anne Barnard never studied the Middle East and that shows in particular when she delves into religious issues of the region.  Look at this passage:  "Hezbollah supporters argue that only it, along with Mr. Assad and Iran, can be counted on to fight extremists, in part because they are Shiites, and vulnerable as a minority Muslim sect. Pro-government fighters from the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiism that forms Mr. Assad’s base, are also increasingly rallying around Shiite identity, using Shiite religious symbols and slogans alongside Syrian flags."  First, Hizbullah never ever used such a blatant sectarian language.  They don't even use words like Sunni and Shi`ites. But here is the deal: Western correspondents in Beirut all rely on stringers and handlers who are Syrian supporters of the Free Syrian Army: some (as in the Times and Post) write for the paper now but their political affiliations are never revealed to the readers (especially the interpreters).  As a result, people like Barnard simply produce the polemical accusations that are carried on the pages of Syrian exile opposition, and she even carries their polemical tricks when they can't find something sectarianly damning in the rhetoric of Hizbullah so they attribute sectarian language to "supporters of Hizbullah" which is exactly what Barnard did above. She would never ever be allowed to attribute racist discourse to unidentifiable "supporters of Israel", for example.  Also, Barnard is quite ignorant of the deep religious differences between Shi`ite twelvers and `Alawites and always confuse the two together thinking that they are the same.  And what are the Shi`ite religious symbols, Ms. Barnard? Tell me how you can identify it?   Was it she who once wrote about "Shi`ite flags"? Oh, no: that was Liz Sly in the Washington Post. 

Lebanese racism

This is from Ashrafiyyah (a Phalanges stronghold). It says: "Depart, Depart o Syrian.  Beware: the Syrian is your enemy. Your enemy".

Sunday, September 21, 2014

What is brilliance for the Westerner? III

It is when the native assures the Westerner that Western colonialism, wars and intervention in the native lands have nothing to do with the problems faced by the natives.  It is when the Westerner hear the native absolve him of his war crimes.  The funny part? That kind of simpleton native believes that he is brilliant and mouths off and makes a fool of himself regularly. 

What is brilliance II

Brilliance is the racism of the Westerner that a native can express, in his own words ostensibly, without making the Westerner sound racist himself.

what is considered brilliant?

Any native who is willing to say what a Westerner says is considered brilliant by a Westerner.  The native who plays that role is too dumb to notice that the Westerner is actually praising himself, and not the native. 

An Arab view about China

I asked a brilliant Arab graduate student from a Gulf country who studies Asian affairs about his view about Chinese reticence in global affairs. He wrote this:  "Deng's 24 character advice exercises a role here, but there are strong pressures now internally for the state to assert itself (military, Han nationalists, corporate interests) that are pushing the state in new directions. However, the Chinese elite understand a few things: (1) they have too many internal economic and social challenges to get too assertive especially given the current administration's campaign to push for deeper economic reforms/transparency that will be painful (although regional conflicts particularly with Japan are very useful,) (2) they understand very well that while they want to hedge against the US military (and they are spending considerable amounts with almost yearly 12% increases) but at the same time want to keep the current status quo where they are free riders (why take on more responsibilities quickly - like defending the SLOCs which might alienate different countries - when the US can pay for it?) (3) the Chinese lack so far effective power projection capabilities on a global basis - they are developing a blue water navy and first-class airforce - but these are focused on strengthening China's hand in East Asia where its direct national interests like Taiwan, the South China Sea and East China Sea territories lie, and (4) they are deeply influenced by what they see as the US-experience of empire. They are, given many variables including have a Muslim population and their dependency on oil, worried about getting involved in 'hot regions'. To explain the fourth point, I'll give you an example: there are growing voices amongst Chinese academics and scholars for China to get involved in Iraq to defend their oil interests and investments against ISIS, but the elite will not countenance such a thing because they see the region as a graveyard. Another peripheral point I could add is that the Chinese ave been accustomed for the last three decades in playing a 'quiet' diplomatic role, and its only now that they are getting socialized into a more larger and activist role - a process that will take a while.

I wouldnt say the Chinese arent asserting themselves - they are working to erode the US security order (their recent energy deal with Russia or their attempt to aggravate tensions between Korea and Japan are good examples of this). However, this is done very slowly so as to not aggravate an already very anti-China US establishment and jeoprodize their most significant relationship (the one with Washington.) "

Banned in China?

I got an email that my blog is not available in China anymore: any confirmation?

Qatar and ISIS

"Last month, Gerd Müller, the German international development minister, implicated Qatar in the rise of Isil. "You have to ask who is arming, who is financing Isil troops. The keyword there is Qatar," he said." "Qatar also hosts the forward headquarters of US Central Command and the al-Udeid military airbase, serving as the hub for all American air operations in the region."

That the US created ISIS

Regarding this article: it is NOT ONLY in Iraq or Iran that people think that the CIA created ISIS. This is a widely held belief among Arabs and Muslims

Western gifts to Arabs

"The militant group Islamic State released a slick and disturbing new propaganda film, "Flames of War," narrated entirely in English and featuring an Islamic State fighter who speaks with an American or Canadian accent." (thanks Amir)

Why the disinformation and lies about ISIS are benefiting ISIS

There is a lot of lies and disinformation being spread by Gulf intelligence services about ISIS and their deeds (and they are being readily recyled by Western and Eastern media).  I saw this being promoted by director of HRW yesterday.  I maintain that the article, which contains lies and exaggerations, are actually helping the propaganda of ISIS. The ISIS are terrorist enough and we don't need to lie and exaggerate to show that they are bad. But there is no evidence that they cancelled classes in history or geography for example.  Those are made up.  In fact, ISIS closely monitors the inaccurate coverage and then rebuts them carefully on twitter and then makes the point that all coverage of its crimes and excesses are lies

A specialized Egyptian military team diffuse a bomb with a stick tied to a kitchen knife

Michelle Goldberg on the Salaita case

I never met Michelle Goldberg but we communicated extensively after Sep. 11 on stories that she was writing.  I have to say that her piece in the Nation astonished me: as if she was deliberately misconstruing the words of Salaita: "then it’s hard to see how you can simultaneously claim that Salaita, a professor who has tweeted, “Zionists: transforming ‘anti-Semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948,” deserves a place in the classroom."  Now this may not be the most elegant way that Salaita could express her point, but why does Goldberge believe that it has no place in the classroom?  If he complains that the Zionists made something as horrible as anti-Semitism "honorable" it does not mean that he is describing anti-Semitism as honorable by his standard. It is quite obvious.  What did Goldberg understand from it? Furthermore, why did Goldberg ignore that on the very same day, Salaita also tweeted this: "
Steven Salaita   @stevesalaita 
@mikehesselmial My stand is fundamentally one of acknowledging and countering the horror of antisemitism.  8:20 PM - 19 Jul 2014 ". This account tells the full story, unlike the really unfair account of Goldberg.  And is Goldberg serious in equating the one tweet by Salaita (which she distorts) to the public and categorical call by Hirsi Ali to "destroy" Islam? 

" US Key Man in Syria Worked Closely with ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusra"

Key US man in Syria works closely with ISIS and Nusrah. But he is moderate.

By Khalid Albaih

Authentic Al-Qai`dah

Check out the coverage of Al-Arabiyya (the news station of King Fahd's brother-in-law) and other Saudi media about `Irsal in Lebanon: they don't even try to disguise their sympathies for Nusrah Front: you see, those media are for the real authentic Al-Qa`idah and not for the fake versions. Let us call them the authentic terrorists.

Saudi regime: origin of the problem

  Saudi Wahhabi scientists examine an egg to verify that it has the word God on it.  Kid you not. (thanks Joe) 

Blame us, please: just don't blame Saudi regime

This is now the trend in Saudi media, especially in the English language versions: blame us, and attack us. We are at fault. We are backward.  The West is innocent.  Western bombs don't kill and its soldiers when they invade liberate.  Do whatever you want just don't blame Western wars and policies or Saudi regime.  The rest of this discourse is rhetorical jargon with no social science value whatever.

The Huthis

If the Huthis were clients of Saudi Arabia, their storming of San`a would have been reported like an event comparable to the storming of the Bastille. 

the race to inherit Fouad Ajami's role

It was expected.  A number of Lebanese journalists who work in Gulf regime media, especially those who write in English, are racing to inherit the role of Fouad Ajami's role.  I have only one sentence to all of them: at least Ajami was verbally gifted.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

British Hostage, John Cantlie: something odd about his video

He said in the video: "I may live or die".  But the ISIS Arabic translation says something different. It says: "I may get killed or live".  Why the discrepancy?

Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi declares all-out war

This kooky caliph has a terrible speaking style: the voice and the tone is jarring.  He thinks he is reciting the Qur'an when he speaks.  Maybe he equates his words with holy words.  But the talk is rather defensive.  He is denying takfiring the people of Syria (or Levant as Obama likes to say these days).  But he insists on takfiring Shi`ites and `Alawites.

American bombs never kill civilians

"A senior State Department official said Sunday that the Iraqi air force’s “targeting is not nearly as precise as ours, and they’ve made some real mistakes.”"

Failings and shortcomings of Western correspondents in Beirut

Yesterday, New TV aired footage of throngs chanting allegiance to ISIS in Tripoli, North Lebanon. Western reporters were describing the militias in Tripoli as "pro-Western" simply because they were part of March 14. They were, as ISIS belongs to the "pro-West" March 14 movement in Lebanon.  And as the ISIS and Nusrah (they now want us to forget that Nusrah is also Al-Qa`idah) built up their presence in Lebanon in `Irsal and other places, no Western correspondents bothered to report on that phenomenon. They were simply referring to the military presence in `Irsal as Syrian "refugees".  Notice how they write about `Irsal now without any background or explanation or apologies about omission in coverage.

You will be aware that he has previously interned at The Jerusalem Post, a notoriously right-wing Israeli newspaper

"In August, the BBC published an online article questioning the UN's description of Israel's attacks on Gaza as 'indiscriminate'. The BBC's Head of Statistics, Anthony Reuben, spun the Palestinian casualty figures in an attempt to prove that Israel was carrying out targeted attacks only, as claimed by the Israeli government." "But Reuben’s impartiality on the subject of Palestine and Israel is extremely doubtful. You will be aware that he has previously interned at The Jerusalem Post, a notoriously right-wing Israeli newspaper, which is vocal in its support of Israel's occupation."

Israeli occupation forces destroy water networks & launch assault on farmers

"Israeli occupation forces issued on Wednesday a decree banning farmers from irrigating agriculture on their stepped lands in Atov, located in eastern Tubas city in the occupied West Bank, threatening to arrest any citizen who cultivates his or her land."

re: media response to Israel's blackmailing of gay Palestinians

"Second, singling out sexuality suggests that "sexuality" should be the most important priority for Palestinian organizations – including ours – in our struggle against Israeli apartheid, colonization, and dispossession.  It also suggests that sexuality can be singled out from Israeli apartheid, colonization, and dispossession.  This isolation of sexuality as a discrete site of oppression bolsters mainstream LGBT rights discourses which, historically, make this oppression legible only through the frame of purported Palestinian “homophobia” and Israeli “tolerance.”  In this sense, singling out homosexuality strengthens pinkwashing and, in particular, the specific and false pinkwashing narrative of the queer Palestinian who must remain closeted within their community, living in secret, always worried about being outed, and looking to Israel as the all-powerful, all-knowing entity capable of protecting their queer life and rendering it intelligible. Falling prey to this logic only entrenches a false, racist binary that actively frames Palestine and Palestinians as homophobic versus Israel and Israelis as sexually tolerant and liberal."

Zionist Jewish American organizations and the Islamophobia campaign

I have said this before but will say it again for someone who has always cared that the Arab-Israeli conflict should not be allowed to spoil the relations between Arabs and Jews or between Muslims and Jews: the silence of many key Zionist Jewish American organizations toward the blatant anti-Islam campaigns in the US, and the heavy involvement and endorsement by some of those organizations, is so dangerous not only to the future status of Jewish-Arab relations, but even also to the plight of Jews in Arab and Muslims lands. Can't the leaders of those organizations see that? Is that not too obvious? I mean, politically speaking: how dumb is it to be involved in bigoted campaign against 1.7 billion adherents of a faith?

Israeli occupation forces destroy water networks & launch assault on farmers

"Israeli occupation forces issued on Wednesday a decree banning farmers from irrigating agriculture on their stepped lands in Atov, located in eastern Tubas city in the occupied West Bank, threatening to arrest any citizen who cultivates his or her land."

Washington is populated by enough disingenuous, misinformation-spreading hucksters

"Drawing on nine years in the nation's capitol, Klein acknowledges one class of obstacles. "Washington is a cesspool of faux-experts who do bad research (or no research)," he explained, "but retain their standing by dint of affiliations, connections, or charisma." Sweet validation! I've often suspected that official Washington is populated by enough disingenuous, misinformation-spreading hucksters to fill an underground container of organic waste." (thanks Amir)

My review of the IPhone

My review of the new IPhone 6 and IPhone 6 plus. I went to the store yesterday to inspect the new IPhone (my contract does not expire until early November: for those who are outside the US, we can get the IPhone at much lower prices here in the US once we sign a two-year contract with a phone service provider).  The woman at the store told me that there were people who camped outside the store from 2:00AM just to get the first look at the new IPhone.  When I was there in the afternoon, it was not very crowded.  When you see the IPhone 6 Plus: one thing will strike you: it is very big, and I mean very big.  It indeed feels like a mini tablet.  A colleague told me about someone who confused the IPad mini with the 6 plus and tried to make a call on it.  I like the fact that the IPhone is very thin and the design is very pretty and I like the round edges. But the protruding back camera seems a flaw of design.  I don't know why that was necessary, technically speaking.  The resolution of both IPhones was spectacular.  The vividness of the color is better than real colors, I felt. You do notice the better picture resolution for sure.  The problem with IPhone 6 Plus, however, that there is a real danger of slippage in one's hand.  There is little friction and the way it fits in one's hand makes is easy to slip and fall.  For that, I think that one certainly needs a good sturdy case for it (that applies but to a lesser degree to the IPhone 6.  Despite all that, I am leaning towards the IPhone 6 Plus.  I like the big size.  Pictures below.