Monday, October 24, 2016

Once a month: Bashshar and sovereignty

Once a month, the Syrian regimes remembers the sovereignty of Syria--rhetorically.  

Bernie's endorsement of Hillary

His endorsement confirmed the distrust that many in the left have felt about him all along, and it registers as one of the greatest betrayals to progressive ideals.  

Banning liquor in Iraq

Those who ruled that US occupation is religiously permissible are the same people who ruled that liquor is religiously impermissible.

No one can save the sects in Iraq like the US occupiers

"The official emphasized the need for the US-led coalition’s close involvement in Mosul, especially after the experience of the recapture of Falluja, Ramadi and Tikrit, IS-held cities where refugees and local Sunnis suffered at the hands of Shi’ite militias." (thanks Basim)

Adonis and Nobel

Adonis contacted the Nobel Literature Committee and offered to receive the prize on behalf of Bob Dylan.

Al-Arabiyya lifts my post about Bob Dylan without mentioning the source

So I received a tape of Bob Dylan talking about Um Kulthum.  I asked readers to render it into a web link on Sound Cloud.  A reader took care of that and I posted it.  Al-Arabiyya posted it without mentioning the source.  But hey: if Saudi princes are willing the steal the wealth of the people, stealing a story won't be too much for them.

How the US Ignited the Lebanese Civil War (8)

My weekly article in Al-Akhbar: "How the US Ignited the Lebanese Civil War: Arms to the Phalanges And Ahrar from US, Israel, Spain, Germany, Italy, Belgium and France".

What is said about ISIS in Mosul: why is it not said about Al-Qa`idah and its allies in East Aleppo? They are morally superior?

Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth)
ISIS endangers civilians by attacking from populated areas, preventing civilians fleeing Hawija, outskirts of Mosul.

Warning to Syrian workers in Lebanon

Here, in this banner from Zgharta-Ehdin in north Lebanon (under the influence of Syrian regime ally, Sulayman Franjiyyah--a close friend of Bashshar Al-Asad), it is announced: "It is demanded that all Syrian workers who reside in Ehidin area should leave by 31/10/2016".  It should be explained that Sulyaman Franjiyyah loves Bashshar Al-Asad but hates Syrian people.

The New York Times celebrates female voting in Saudi Arabia

Calm down. Women and men vote in North Korea.  I don't see you cheering their voting. Cuba has more females in its legislature than the US. How come you don't cheer that knowing that Cuban legislatures is far more serious than the legislatures of Gulf regimes and Syria and Jordan combined.

When the sleazy media of Saudi princes mocks Jill Stein of the Green Party (Al-Arabiyya)

"The US Presidential candidate for the Green Party, Jill Stein, has tweeted that a planned Qatari-Turkish "US-backed" pipeline in Syria explains "so much" about the conflict, referencing a widely discredited conspiracy theory that appears to defend the regime of Bashar al-Assad."  When did Jill Stein defend the regime of Bashshar Al-Asad? She never did. Her vice-president spoke in a language which appeared apologetic of the lousy regime, but Jill Stein consistently distanced herself from views which are apologetic of the regime.  Also, Al-Arabiyya and other media of Saudi princes--which were founded on grotesque Jewish conspiracy theories and on anti-Semitism--are hardly the arbiters about journalism and conspiracy theories.  These are the same media which promote the view that Obama is a secret Shi`ite.

Who are the Arabs who want the US to be more--NOT LESS--engaged in the Middle East?

Notice how casually the Western media conflate Arab public opinion with the opinions of Arab rulers and pundits are Gulf-funded think tanks.  They speak about Arab disappointment with Obama for not "engaging" in the region (and engagement is another name for US wars and invasions) when the people of the region have had enough of US engagements for decades.  But those correspondents they speak either to the entourage of the Gulf rulers or to pundits are Gulf-funded think tanks and they take their opinions are representatives of Arab public opinion.  Oh, they also speak to Syrian exile oppositions leaders who are part of Qatari-supported or Saudi-supported organizations.   Look at this passage in the Times: "Here in the region, the United States is seen as disengaging under President Obama, who beyond fighting the Islamic State has been reluctant to be drawn into the swirling forces shaping the Middle East."  Here in the region? Where in the region? Tel Aviv and Riyadh?

The Nation magazine declared her a "progressive" candidate

"How mega-donors helped raise $1 billion for Hillary Clinton"

The Washington consensus

The worst policy options are those which are favored by the Washington consensus: whether about Syria or about Hillary.  

Eggplant Fries

You are looking at the greatest invention since the hummus.  This is actually Eggplant Fries, which is the speciality of a Lebanese-owned restaurant in Pacific Grove, near Monterey, California. The name of the restaurant is Jeninni.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Newsweek on Saudi Arabia

Does not the coverage of Saudi Arabia in most mainstream Western media reads like the press releases of Saudi embassies around the world?

Hillary buys into the "reforms" of Bashshar

In her leaked remarks, Hillary basically subscribes to the notion that the Syrian people would have been fine with Bashshar had he enacted "reforms" early in the uprising.  Of course, supporters of the Syrian "revolution" don't dare attack Hillary for arguments sympathetic to Bashshar.

Bob Dylan's embrace of Israel's war crimes

"Already in 1971, Scaduto wrote, “Dylan’s enthusiasm for the militant Jewish organization has brought down the wrath of some in the radical movement.” Scaduto detailed this just four years after the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Syria’s Golan Heights and Egypt’s Sinai had begun: “To many young radicals, including Jewish kids, Israel is simply another one of those fascist states propped up by a fascist American Government, and Dylan’s fervent support of Israel and his over-publicized contacts with the JDL are to them a further indication that he has sold out to the political right he condemned.” " (thanks Amir)

U.S. complicity in war crimes

" “The continuing civilian carnage caused by the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition in Yemen is horrifying,” Lieu wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Salon. “It appears that either the Saudi coalition is intentionally targeting civilians or they are not distinguishing between civilians and military targets. Both would be war crimes,” he stressed." "Despite internal concerns about complicity in war crimes, large U.S. weapons sales to Saudi Arabia continued."

The resort to human shields argument

Notice that US and Israel only use the argument that "they are hiding behind human shields" about enemies of Israel only and about ISIS but they don't even use the argument about Al-Qa`idah in Syria (and its allies and variants).  

Fact Checker of the Times

This is one of the lousiest jobs in US journalism.  Forget about the political bias in favor of Hillary, the checker can't get to admit that Trump can be right in some attacks on Hillary, like her leaving a mess in Syria and Libya.

Candidate Clump

"After careful analysis of Mr. Trump’s inconstancy on the Middle East and other matters, I have come to suspect that he is actually five guys sharing a single, oversized orange wig. Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton presents herself as the pitiless goddess of air strikes, drone warfare, and dead tyrants. But, at heart, the two candidates faithfully reflect the narratives, prejudices, and conventional policy approaches of the nation they propose to lead. This gives them so much in common that it is more efficient to discuss them together than separately. So, I will refer to Candidates Clinton and Trump as one gender-fluid person: “Candidate Clump.” Candidate Clump is on the payroll of the Israel Lobby’s major donors, wants to isolate Iran, and loves sanctions and other forms of economic warfare more than trade and investment. Clump was for the invasion of Iraq before heshe was against it. Heshe is more interested in poking at the Middle East than in understanding it. Clump thinks terrorism is a function of theology rather than a violent response by misfits to humiliation and social marginalization. Heshe is convinced that bombing is the best antidote to what heshe imagines is a religious onslaught. Heshe is not fond of Egypt and wishes Saudi Arabia would go away. When elected, President Clump will give Israel whatever is must have to fend off political tantrums by it. In short, the next president will concentrate on keeping the lid on the explosive mess the last few presidents have made of the Middle East and America’s position in it, not on defusing or dismantling the mess."

Has Reuters been purchased by the Saudi regime? Their report on Iranian supplies to Huthis

Brian Whitaker has rightly expressed skepticism about this Reuters story about Iranian arming of Huthis. But the funny part is that the method of documentation reminds me of the methods of Nicholas Blanford (the hagiographer of Rafiq Hariri) when he writes about Hizbullah and cites unnamed member of the party who basically tell him: yes, we are terrorists. Yes, we deserve to be bombed.  Yes, Israel should take us out.  Yes, everything that Israel says about it is true--and they exclusively tell him all that using name like "Abu Potato".  Similarly, this report from Reuters cites an Iranian diplomat: so the Iranian diplomat exclusively told Reuters that "yes, we are terrible and we are violating international norms by smuggling weapons into Yemen.  But then again: we remember when Saudi regime complained about a Reuters correspondent, and then Reuters management simply relocated that correspondent because he was too knowledgeable and asked too many questions.

Treasury Department now classifies organizations and individuals as terrorist jointly with the Saudi government

"Action Includes Joint Designations by the United States and Saudi Arabia".  Will they also behead convicts jointly?

Syrian rebels propaganda

Rebels of Ahrar Ash-Sham and Nusrah Front and Jaysh Al-Fath have been posting those signs in Idlib and elsewhere. The sign reads: "Beware of Secularists".  Who remembers when Western journalists were writing that Syrian rebels are exclusively secularists and feminists and hippies and democrats?  I do.

CORRECTION: Look how much Bill Clinton knows about Lebanese politics

"Lebanon has taken in over one million refugees (its total population does not exceed five million), and it has not had a president since 2014 because the Muslim-controlled Parliament has blocked a Christian from taking the post.Lebanese law requires the president to be a Maronite Christian."  And the funny part is that US media treat Bill like he is some foreign policy expert. (thanks Marc)

PS The Daily Star of Lebanon deleted this section of the speech by Clinton and only celebrated that: Bill Clinton praises Lebanon.

PPS Marc corrects me. The sectarian reference to Lebanon was not in the text of Clinton's speech but in the text of the right-wing nutty Breitbart news.

Trump Versus Hillary

The craziness of Trump is obscuring the dangers of Hillary Clinton--especially to world peace.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

My Chris Wallace story

My Chris Wallace's story (who was the only decent moderator of all those presidential debates we have seen in recent years).  As you know, Mike Wallace (his father) was very interested in the Middle East.  He tells in his memoirs that he had met the late Fayez Sayigh back in the late 1950s and they became good friends, and Sayigh opened his eyes to the Palestinian problem.  So Chris Wallace, when he was with ABC News back in 1993, came to interview me at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC, in the wake of the first World Trade Center bombing to analyze `Umar `Abdul-Rahman.  So I talked in the interview about the kooky cleric and his speeches and sermons.  We finished the interview and he then asked me to pose for the camera while I am pretending to listen through headphones to tapes of the Shaykh.  I of course refused.  And he was furious with me and said that the show can't go on without it.  I said: Fine by me. I can't act. You want me to act and you should hire an actor for the shot.  He insisted and I--as stubborn as I am--refused.  He then relented and asked me to walk with him on the street and that we talk while they shoot us for a scene.  I also refused and said I can't act.  But he said: you won't act, just talk to me as we talk. I think I agreed to that one but I am not sure.  

FIXED Link: Bob Dylan on Um Kulthum

Here is the recording of Bob Dylan talking about Um Kulthum.

Sheikh Mo: Ruler of Dubai being his sleazy self

A Brief History of Time

Hawkin's book, A Brief History of Time deserves a Nobel Prize for literature. Serious.  

Bassam Haddad on Syria

This is a new article on Syria by Bassam Haddad.  I don't agree with it in full, but he raises interesting points.  I wish he treated both sides (which he deals with) with equal derision.

women in Saudi Arabia; this Saudi regime network explains that it is all a misunderstanding

"Despite popular beliefs, many women in Saudi Arabia drive their cars in order to run errands and get from place to place. The government simply does not issue any licenses to women, who mostly rely on personal male drivers or relatives to get around." (thanks Basim)

Ben Hubbard is ecstatic: he almost declares Saudi regime as the epitome of virtuous rule

OK: regarding the execution of the prince. We don't know the circumstances of the execution. There is certainly more to the story than what was announced.  There is no way the story is as declared: that he was executed because he committed murder.  King Salman in his early years committed murder in Riyadh. Murder by a royal does not get you killed.  Also, Hubbard consistently relies on what is being tweeted by Saudis on Twitter as a measure of Saudi public opinion. Someone needs to tell him that tweeting disagreements with the royal family on Twitter can get you lashes and long sentences.  There should always be a disclaimer toward that effect.  Of course, as usual, Hubbard only interviews fans of the royal regime.

Meritocracy at the New York Times

"Mr. Sulzberger, the son of Arthur Sulzberger Jr., who took over as publisher in 1992, was one of three candidates, all cousins...By all accounts, the competition for the job was cordial. The cousins have known one another since childhood and their families are friendly. They grew up together professionally, met in glass-walled meeting rooms to discuss strategy and proceeded through the selection process with mutual respect."

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Wait: King Abdullah of Jordan in the PBS Frontline's documentary about ISIS

I forgot to mention. In the Frontline documentary about ISIS, there is a reference to the Jordanian pilot who was set on fire by ISIS.  And then the documentary shows footage of King Abdullah of Jordan pushing parachuters off a military plane.  The narrator (the producer and star of the documentary) then says that this was during Jordanian participation in the war on ISIS. But when did that happen? When did Jordan send parachuters behind ISIS lines to fight? The footage is old exercise training footage that was aired before.  

Iraqi government leaflets against ISIS: so non-secular

Bob Dylan and Um Kulthum

Does anyone know how to transform an audio into a weblink? I have a recording of Bob Dylan talking about Um Kulthum and playing a song by her.

Civilians everywhere

I worry about civilians of Palestine, and civilians in East Aleppo and West Aleppo, and Damascus and Ghutah and Mosul and everywhere where US or Russian or regime or rebel bombs are falling anywhere in the region.  

Saudi and Qatari regime media

Both Saudi and Qatari regime media started even before the beginning of the battle of Mosul to raise a hue and cry over the Sunnis of Mosul and the fear of Shi`ite militias.  But they seem to have quieted down.  They must have received US orders.

When US read that "moderate rebels" pushed ISIS from Dabiq, it means US special forces are the "moderate Syrian rebels"

"A few dozen U.S. Special Operations forces also are in northern Syria assisting the rebels. Dorrian declined to say whether they had played any direct role in the Dabiq conquest, citing operational security."

The apartheid and terrorist state of Israel

"It is generally illegal for Palestinian civilians to own any type of firearm, including hunting rifles. Ownership can bring a prison sentence. In contrast, Jewish settlers in the West Bank are granted permits and carry weapons openly."

What? Crusaders?

"Muslims were known as Saracens, a racialized term that referred to Arabs or dark-skinned Crusaders."

Ken Roth does not object to US appeasement of Saudi regime: he just does not think it should go too far

Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth)
Allaying Saudi concerns over Iran deal is no reason for US to keep fueling its coalition attacks on Yemen civilians.