Monday, October 20, 2014

Israel is so desperate for American celebrities

....that they think that Paul Anka is cool.  If only they can get Barry Manilow the nation would be in celebration.

Sadiq Jalal Al-Azm: when he thinks he is providing intelligent propaganda to the US/Israel

"'Russia-Iran-Hezbollah axis could arise allying itself with ISIL'"  And this from the same man who has been providing apologetic about the takfiri groups for two years straight.

"Mundane racism in Haifa"

From Eyal in 1948 Palestine:
"(No crisis, no massacre or beating or anything dramatic, just a bit of mundane everyday racism.)


As you probably know, the largest segments of Israeli population which are exempted from military service are the Palestinian Arabs (not including the Druze) and the ultra-orthodox Jews (the 'Haredim').

Last week I visited my home town of Haifa for the annual film festival there. I was walking along the main street next to where my screenings were held, and there were two businesses looking for employees. The first was a corner kiosk, and the other was a 'Sandwich bar'. So, they both required that candidates be "post military service". Now, this is not uncommon in Israel, and is basically illegal: An employer cannot ask you about your military service, and the courts have upheld that requiring any sort of military service background is discriminatory.
That has not made the practice go away:

"Help wanted: Post military service; energetic and hard-working; with experience in sales; preference for those with computer and editing software know-how"

While the Israeli military is involved in arms sales, I'm guessing that's not the kind of sales experience the kiosk was after.

Now, one could argue that what they really meant is someone over 21 - since military service is officially mandatory, it's a half-passable excuse (if you're willing to excuse ignoring the ~35% of the population which doesn't get drafted at all). The other place makes things clearer:

"Employees wanted for the Carmel Sandwich Bar; post/pre military service only; for details please leave your contact information."

So, post/pre military service. Here we don't have the age excuse, or any kind of experience which one could claim is related to military service.
That is, almost explicitly, you need to be from the kind of people who get drafted into the military. The only remaining question is whether their racism is more anti-Arab or anti-Haredi, or both.

Sometimes even being a low-pay wage-slave is considered too much of a privilege for you."

"Despite years of diplomacy and a CIA operation"

"Despite years of diplomacy and a CIA operation to vet and train moderate rebels, the U.S. finds itself without a credible partner on the ground in Syria"

US Navy: protecting freedoms around the world

"Bahrain, where the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet is based, quelled the 2011 protests" (thanks Amir)

Walid Phares: his true story and role in the Lebanese Forces militia

American right-wing Lebanese, Walid Phares, was a Middle East adviser to Mitt Romney.  At that time, some media pointed out to his past role in the leadership of the Lebanese militia, Lebanese Forces.  He has been maintaining that the person with that name in the Lebanese Forces is not his, and that the name are similar.  Of course, I have said repeatedly that this claim of his is a flat-out lie.  I was looking into my archives yesterday, and stumbled upon this Zionist publication from 1992, in which he tells his life story.  By the way, not the notion that he was kidnapped by the Lebanese Phalanges militia because he called openly for an alliance with Israel is another flat-out lie because the Phalanges were also aligned with Israel. But I guess that in speaking to the Zionist publication he felt the need to appear as a brave Zionist in Lebanon.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

George Cloony after attending too many Lebanese dinner and lunch invitations
Lebanese are circulating this picture of George Clooney ostensibly after attending too many Lebanese feasts.

A protester in Hong Kong was beaten: New York Times outraged

This paper is more outraged about the beating of one protester than about the hundreds of Palestinian children slaughtered by the Israeli terrorist army.

How the Israeli state inflates the number of Jews in its census

"Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics does not record as emigrants anyone who returns to visit within a year." What a bogus measure. 

Teaching of Hebrew at US universities

There can't be any academic or scholarly purpose for the justification of teaching Hebrew at many US universities and colleges. I just don't get the reason for teaching a language that is spoken by less than 7 million around the world, while the languages spoken by hundreds of millions (Urdu, for example, or Punjabi or Dari ) are rarely taught at the same universities. The reason why Hebrew is being taught is purely a silly "counter-balance" to the teaching of Arabic--a language spoken by some 350 million people. College administrators are too afraid in the poisoned climate of the US to offer Arabic without Hebrew anymore.

Frequently and you cite two cases? Is this journalism?

"Death sentences have rarely been carried out in blasphemy cases, but that is in part because such allegations have frequently led to deadly vigilante attacks on the accused or their lawyers."

Is the Saudi regime supporting Al-Qa`idah in Yemen against the Huthis?

I am just noticing that Saudi media are quite clear in their support for Al-Qa`idah against the Huthis in the Saudi royal media coverage of the clashes. They even refer to Al-Qa`idah as "the tribes" as a camouflage.

book piracy in the Arab world

"Creating a digital file from a printed book by scanning each page, by contrast, is a nightmare."  Ha ha. The Economist does not know about the patience and diligence of Arabs who are copying thousands of books daily and making them available for free to Arabs around the world. This is why the UN figures about book reading based on book purchases is just silly.  All the young Arabs I know read digital books (in PDF forms) on the internet. There are applications that make those books available.  Now there are some problems; I was reading one of those books (on Zionism by `Abdul-Wahab Al-Masiri) on the plane recently and once I reached the end I was horrified to discover that whoever scanned the books did not bother to scan the section of endnotes and bibliography. The horror.

PS I posted this in Arabic on Facebook and an Arabic reader sent me this comment (my translation): "For the last two weeks I have been transferring a book to PDF and just finished. Say hi to the Economist". ha ha

What democracy mean to the US

"That's because "democracy" in U.S. discourse means: "serving U.S. interests" and "obeying U.S. dictates," regardless how how the leaders gain and maintain power. Conversely, "tyranny" means "opposing the U.S. agenda" and "refusing U.S. commands," no matter how fair and free the elections are that empower the government. The most tyrannical regimes are celebrated as long as they remain subservient, while the most popular and democratic governments are condemned as despots to the extent that they exercise independence."

That does not offend Samantha Power

"Saudi Arabia, a member of the UN's Human Rights Council and a close ally of America in the war against the Islamist fighters, is itself routinely carrying out the practice of beheading. Since January of this year, 59 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia"

US soldiers slaughtered 500 unarmed old men, women and children in the Vietnamese village of My Lai. Yet the Pentagon website refers only to the "My Lai Incident

"Between 2 and 3 million Indochinese - in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia - were killed. War crimes - such as the My Lai massacre - were common. In 1968, US soldiers slaughtered 500 unarmed old men, women and children in the Vietnamese village of My Lai. Yet the Pentagon website refers only to the "My Lai Incident," despite the fact that it is customarily referred to as a massacre." (thanks Amir)

Christians in Pakistan: the Washington Post

I am sure that plight of Christians in Pakistan is not rosy, just as the plight of Muslims and Christians in the Jewish state of Israel. But if Western media truly care about Christians, how come we don't see an article about a community that fare even worse than the Christians of Pakistan, i.e., the Christians of Israel, whose churches were destroyed (or turned into restaurants and nightclubs) and whose lands have been confiscated and whose religious services have been harassed by the Israeli state and who rights trampled upon and whose men and women and children been shot by the state of Israel repeatedly over the years (unlike the isolated cases of shooting mentioned in the silly Post article).  Or better yet, why not an article about the flight of Iraqi Christians caused by the American invasion of the country?

From Karzai to Ghani

I never thought an American puppet would receive the fawning coverage that was bestowed on Hamid Karzai--yes we still remember even if the coverage turned negative in his last two years in office.  Look at this article here about the reform agenda of Ghani.  To me, the presence of the man standing to his right in the picture (Abdul-Rashid Dustum, his first vice-president) suffices.

The New York Times can't get its story straight: anti-Semitism in Germany

I shelved this article planning to write a commentary on it today but was glad to see the folks at Mondoweiss beat me to it.  It is really amazing: "Three weeks ago the New York Times stunned its readers with a frontpage story proclaiming, “Europe’s Anti-Semitism Comes out of the Shadows.” From the immigrant enclaves of the Parisian suburbs to the drizzly bureaucratic city of Brussels to the industrial heartland of Germany, Europe’s old demon returned this summer. The story contained numerous references to German anti-Semitism. “Gas the Jews!” yelled marchers at a pro-Palestinian protest in Germany, the story said. And a long section on “Anxiety in Germany” included this lesson from an attempted firebombing of a synagogue in Wupperthal: “For Jews in Germany, especially for us, this has very, very deep meaning,” said Artour Gourari, a local businessman and synagogue member. “Synagogues are burning again in Germany in the night.” OK, now fasten your neckbolts tight. Because today the New York Times has a story, on an inside page, about Jews leaving Israel for… Germany: “In Exodus From Israel to Germany, a Young Nation’s Fissures Show.” Germany sure seems like a different place than the last article". 

PS Let me give some background: many of the Western correspondents of US papers are lazy and often they do stories that were previously done in the Economist magazine.  This is one of them. I mean, the second story in the Times about Israeli leaving for Germany.

Who will win in Kobane (`Ayn Al-`Arab)?

Ali, the Angry Arab's chief correspondent in Turkey, sent me this commentary:

"Kobane: A win-win for US. Nobody still puts finger on this obvious fact, but really what have IS, Turkey or Syrian Kurds gained from IS surprise attack on Kobane except US, that has been carrying out its political agenda under the motto of what Obama said “degrading and destroying IS”… 
Firstly, IS would get nothing if it completely captures besieged Kurdish town. Kobane has no strategic value, when we compare IS other potential target before it started Kobane campaign on 15th of September: The first potential target was obviously Azaz town, a bordering town to Turkey, located northern Aleppo and has been the crucial supply line for other armed groups that active in the northern Syria. IS was at the gate of Azaz. The second potential target was Deir ez-Zor’s airport that has been used as a crucial base for supplying Syrian army troops in the besieged city. IS has been attacking to capture this airport but with smaller numbers compared to Kobane attack. The third was northern Hasakah, where Kurds controlling oilfields with de facto assistance of Syrian army presence in the city. Contrary these three potential targets, Kobane has no oilfields, has no supply line and IS already has two border crossings in this region. First, Jarablus a few kilometers on the west of Kobane and Tall Abiad on the east. But as reported, IS attacked Kobane with at least 3 thousands of supported with artilleries, tanks, armored vehicles, anti-aircraft guns mounted pick-up trucks. And because of the instant resistance of Kurdish YPG militias and US air strikes, it would pay a very heavy price for non-significant town even if captures completely.

Secondly, what Turkey got, when western media outlets are full of comments that Turkey was behind IS attack on Kobane? Erdoğan is now being portrayed as the ‘monster behind IS’ and a sudden Kurdish uprising hits Turkey and endangers so-called peace process. And now PKK linked PYD in Syria has direct contact with Washington, which should be a nightmare for Ankara.
Thirdly Syrian Kurds, -they are now considering themselves as ‘winner’ since US recognized them- watching Kobane the capital of their Rojava becaming a ruin, while most of the civilians fled to Turkey.
The only winner is US, believe it or not… Since, with the Kobane, it legitimizes its operation against IS on both international and regional levels, found a very strategic ‘partner’ that is Turkey’s Kurds, and know feels free to dictate its position to PYD… Before the attack on Kobane, Reuters revealed that US considered arming Syria’s Kurdish groups but with a precondition “break your alliance with Assad” And those demands are not new of course, as Foreign Policy revealed Washington has been pushing Kurds to adapt this policy for over two years
Now the dreams of US are fulfilled thanks to IS. The outcome of PYD-US talks are still vague, but as US intensifies its air campaign on IS targets in and around Kobane, one thing is obvious, what US brought to table was accepted or at least partly accepted by PYD delegation. Note that right after this direct talk, PYD leader Saleh Muslim went Iraqi Kurdistan and attended a meeting with Barzani and Barzani backed Syrian Kurdish politicians. In this meeting PYD promised ‘a power sharing’ with Barzani backed groups on the administration of Rojava

So in my opinion, it will be just disappointment for those leftist expecting gain for the peoples of Middle East when Kurds beaten IS with the help of US.

PS: Note that the mainstream media limitless hypocrisy. First, Salamiyya town located eastern Hama has been under IS attack but there is not a single report about the situation in the town. UN special envoy says ‘Kobane would be another Srebrenitsa’ but what is waiting us if IS captures this town, that is full of ‘Kuffar’ (The population of the town are composed of Alawites, Shiites, Ismailis and twelvers). Secondly, this is not first IS attack on Kurdish populated areas. IS and its allies then –considered as moderates- attacked Kurdish towns in 2013, but YPG’s women fighters are not posing from the front pages, or nobody was talking about Turkey’s role then. Instead media outlets were talking about ‘hidden alliance between Assad and Syria’s Kurds’. "

What's new. Hizbullah commanders divulge secrets to Nicholas Blanford simply because they know he is an advocate of the Hariri family and thus can be trusted

"Since Hezbollah intervened in Syria in earnest around two years ago to defend the regime of President Bashar Assad, the party is estimated to have lost several hundred fighters, perhaps close to 1,000, including veteran combatants and commanders

“We are in a regional war now, so the casualty rate is still acceptable,” said Abu Khalil, a veteran Hezbollah fighter who has served multiple combat tours in Syria. " (thanks Basim)

Alaa Aswany: a propagandist for Sisi

"In the last two years alone, terrorists in Egypt have killed more than 400 Egyptian police officers and soldiers." Tell us how many Egyptian civilians have the Egyptian police and army terrorists killed in the last two years alone.

An expert on Russia in the New York Times

"“He loves you and me and everybody else looking at him and trying to figure him out,” said Nina L. Khrushcheva, a professor of international affairs at the New School in New York and the great-granddaughter of Nikita S. Khrushchev. “He’s an exhibitionist.” She added, “He pushes the envelope all the time, and he gets away with it.”"  This expert has a degree in literature and is not a professor in international affairs, and she is cited only because she is the great-granddaughter of Nikita Khruschchev.  Somebody needs to tell those Western media that the communist regime fell and their desire to needle communist leaders of the past is silly.  Not to mention: look at the deep insights of Ms. Nina.

Hariri tribunal

I don't recommend that the silly Hariri tribunal (a mere tool in the hands of US and Israel to exert pressures on Lebanon at Lebanese taxpayers expense) be covered in the media but this week we had a revelation: that members of the security detail of Rafiq Hariri all carried special laissez passez from none other than Rustum Ghazalah, the head of Syrian intelligence chief in Lebanon.  This in itself exposes the hollow claims of the Hariri family and its paid advocates in international media about how Hariri was a brave crusader against the Syrian regime--but in secret, while continuing to heap praise on the regime to the last days of his life, in public.  A member of the security detail said it was "natural" to carry a laissez passez from Ghazalah.

document had “probably” come from Israel

"David Albright... said that document had “probably” come from Israel."

Ethnic cleansing

""Over the next few years, Israel plans to forcibly expel and relocate approximately 27,000 Palestinian Bedouins from Area C of the West Bank to make way for Israeli settlements."" (thanks Regan)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Meet the author

A concise version of the answers I gave to readers' questions for Al-Akhbar English.

Sykes-Picto Borders

My weekly article in Al-Akhbar: "Sykes-Picot borders: why should we remain attached to them"?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Iranian officials and Western education

War on Terror?

"Only 4 Percent Of Drone Victims In Pakistan Identified As Al Qaeda Members"

Israeli terrorists strike again

"Bahha Samier Bader, 13 years old, was playing football with his friends when Israeli soldiers invaded Beit Liqyia and opened fire at random at residents and their homes. A live round fired by Israeli soldiers hit Bahha. Medical sources announced that Bahha arrived at the Ramallah medical center after sustaining critical wounds and died shortly after."

"Israel's war crimes sometimes have to be overlooked"

"Israel's war crimes sometimes have to be overlooked, according to a senior European Union representative."

freedom invasion, according to Western governments only two years ago?

"Several thousand foreign fighters from Europe have joined ISIS in Syria. Many of them traveled from Europe and across Turkey's border to reach Syria." (thanks Amir)

WINEP has a poll about the views of Arabs: and why it is not reliable at all

First of all: how can you trust a survey that is introduced as such: "The polls were conducted in September by a leading commercial survey firm in the Middle East".  Based on WINEP history of unreliable generalization about the region and its bogus methods of research on the region, I have a nagging suspicion that this "leading commercial survey firm" is none other than a Lebanese right-wing March 14 polling firm (and I know the name) and it has (like all Lebanese polling firms) of cooking the numbers and producing results that are favorable to the sponsor.  The numbers don't make sense at all.  In fact, it is laughable.  There are many opinion surveys conducted in Lebanon and there are regular free elections which allows one to make assumptions about public opinion trends and they don't conform to the results of the this survey.  1) there are no surveys in Lebanon which show that Hizbullah standing among Sunnis, for example, are less than 10%.  That has not been backed up by any surveys, published or unpublished that I have seen. Usually it ranges from 20 to 30%.  Look at the results of elections by Sunni candidates who are aligned with Hizbullah.  2) the notion that ISIS has 0% among Sunnis in Lebanon also does not make sense at all.  ISIS has been sheltered, trained, sponsored, and aided in Lebanon ever since the organization started operating in Lebanon.  That also does not make sense. Hell, there have been demonstrations by supporters of ISIS in the Biqa` (`Irsal) and also in Tripoli.  The Asir movement in Sidon is also aligned with ISIS.  I was expecting a higher figure by Sunnis. 3) the figures for support for Hamas by Sunni Arabs are far lower than expected. It seems those numbers were cooked as well. Conclusion, you may disregard this survey entirely.

PS I know from my sources that Western embassies in Lebanon commissioned surveys about Christian attitudes toward Hizbullah and they showed markedly higher support for Hizbullah due to the looming danger of ISIS.

Depression in Iran and Britain

Regarding the silly article in the New York Times which cited figures about depression in Iran (see yesterday), I received this from Robert: "The New York Times details about depression in Iran are wrong. The figures do not refer to depression alone, but to all forms of mental illness including depression - 34% in Tehran and 21-25% in Iran as a whole. In other words, exactly the same as Britain."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

More and more on Vinnell Arabia

From Robert: "According to Kateri Carmola (Private Security Contractors and New Wars: Risk, Law, and Ethics):

"In 1975, Vinnell was a struggling company whose lucrative contracts building military installations in Vietnam were coming to an end. It was saved by a lucrative contract with the Saudi Arabian government to train and advise their National Guard, a force of over 125,000, whose duties include protecting the Saudi royal family from internal coups by its own military. Since then, Vinnell, now 51 percent owned by Saudi backers and 49 percent by Northrup-Grumman, has maintained a team of over 1,000 contractors to train, equip, and advise the National Guard (or SANG). According to its website:

"Vinnell Arabia is the market leader in U.S. military doctrine-based training, logistics, and support services within Saudi Arabia. We provide unparalleled training and simulation services for defense, national security and fire/emergency medical response that fit our customer’s requirements perfectly throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and have done so for over 32 years.

"Vinnell’s contract with the SANG best represents the “cozy” relationship between a PMSC and another country. Vinnell contractors are hired directly from the military and the Special Forces, and they maintain a recruiting office at the Special Operations Command in Florida. In the past they have worked for the CIA, leading to speculation that they have served as a “front company,” or at least that they cycle intelligence professionals in and out of their business. According to a career military office who has worked in Saudi Arabia overseeing the Vinnell contract, the relationship is a “win–win” one: “the Saudi government deposits $186 million yearly to the US Treasury; and the money is then used to hire Vinnell.”1 The regular US military also works directly with the regular Saudi military, but Vinnell’s relationship with the SANG, whose members are drawn from a specific tribe that remains loyal to the royal family, sustains a direct American tie with the ruling family, as well as makes money for a US company. The close relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia might make a strong partnership between the country’s respective militaries reasonable, but the specific cozy political relationship between the SANG and the Saudi royal family make it necessary to have this particular training done by contractors.2"

According to David J. Dionisi (American Hiroshima: The Reasons Why and A Call to Strengthen America's Democracy):

"In 1992 the company was acquired by BDM. A joint venture with Saudi Arabia, called Vinnell Arabia, was started in 1995. BDM at the time was owned by the Carlyle Group.


"Senior U.S. former officials who have had leadership postions with Vinnell include former Secretary of State James Baker, former White House budget chief Richard Darman, and former Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci. In 1997, Vinnell was acquired by TRW. TRW was acquired in 2002 by Northrop Grumman Corporation.

"In 2003, Vinnell was awarded a $48 million contract to train the nucleus of a new Iraqi Army. The $48 million figure is significant, as Congress receives notification only if a contract is worth more than $50 million.""

More on Vinnell military base outside of Riyadh

""Vinnell is a joint venture of Northrop Grumman. A spokesman for Northrop said Vinnell is working with Saudi authorities and the State Department on the matter."" (thanks Mick)

I like the subtlety of US covert operations

"In 2006, the C.I.A. set up a gunrunning operation to arm a group of Somali warlords who united under the Washington-friendly name the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counterterrorism. That effort backfired, strengthening the Islamist fighters that the C.I.A. had intervened to defeat."

Reza Aslan

"“I’ve said repeatedly that Bill Maher is not a bigot. I know him. We are friends. We hang out with each other backstage,” he told host Marc Lamont Hill. “He loves having me on the show despite the fact that we disagree on a lot of things.”"  Let me translate: 1) Reza Aslan is not a friend of Bill Maher, at least from his own description.  2) Reza Aslan would really really like to be invited on Maher's show and for that he is willing to declare him a good Muslims. 

Can you tell me more about the Vinnell Arabia American base in Riyadh, please? thanks

"the Vinnell Arabia base in Riyadh".

For knowledge about Islam, I always turn to the New York Times

"Correction: October 15, 2014 

An earlier version of this article misstated the origins of the ritual celebrated at a Shiite shrine. The ritual commemorates the appointment of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib by the Prophet Muhammad as his successor, not the imam’s birth."

Stupid article about Iran

Oh, and Iranians are not allowed to clap:  "Thirty-five years after the Islamic revolution, with the furor and high hopes of that time long since diminished and with an economy seemingly stuck in neutral, life for many, if not most, Iranians has settled into a dreary routine of increasing hopelessness about the future.

According to official statistics, fully 25 percent of the population is suffering from depression. In Tehran, the number is even higher, at 34 percent."  Correct me if I am wrong, but France and Lebanon have higher rates of depression (and of addiction to tranquilizers and anti-depressants.  They make this guy as the product of the unhappiness in Iran when such phenomena are important from the US. Hilarious. 

Can you imagine the international uproar if this were a Muslim cleric in the US? Can you imagine the coverage in the cable channels?

"Rabbi Freundel is accused of placing a hidden camera in a changing area used by women, as well as some men, to disrobe before they enter a ritual bath called a mikvah, according to a person familiar with the allegation who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the case."

Is David Ignatius Al Saud losing his faith in his heroes in the Free Syrian Army? NO way

"The FSA is a ragtag force that must be rebuilt into a real rebel army with a solid command structure."

According to this article in the Washington Post, Jordan was democracy until recently

"Now, the pro-Western monarchy is responding to the rapid rise of the Islamic State in neighboring Syria and Iraq with a tough, recently amended anti-terror law, enacted in June by King Abdullah II, a close U.S. ally. "