Saturday, August 01, 2015

The agony of the Palestinians: reminders

No matter how hard Western governments and their Arab potentates strive to make Arabs forget about the agony of the Palestinians Israeli terrorists manage to remind Arabs regularly about the suffering and agony of the Palestinians.  

Huffington Post Arabic: Ikhwan "light" or heavy Taliban and Al-Qa`idah?

In this feature on Huffington Post Arabic, there is an interview with Taysir `Alluni (former Aljazeera Kabul bureau chief who was convicted with ties to Al-Qa`idah) talks about "statesman"--kid you not--Mullah `Umar and he says this about him: "His favorable qualities are numerous but from my experience with him I say that his personality represented manhood in its most sublime sense".  Welcome to the Arabic version of the Huffington Post.  

Friday, July 31, 2015

The New York Times and its correspondents in occupied Palestine

Why doesn't the New York Times tell us who among its correspondents in occupied Palestine does not have a son or daughhter serving in the Israeli occupation army.

I am back: blog is back

So I was in Beirut for a closed workshop on ISIS and my visit coincided with the trash strike.  So I, the sensitive and delicate creature, was severly affected and was clearly food poisoned there.  All what you hear about the new rules for food preparation is untrue.  I bought a labne container from the state-run COOP in Hamra and the next day it was rotten.  Trash was everywhere.  I also probably should not have purchased dairy desserts from one of my favorite places, Zaatarwazeit.  

PS It hit me. This has been the longest absence from the blog ever since it was launched some 12 years ago this summer.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Huffington Post Arabic: Scandalous

Huffington Post Arabic is managed by the former manager of Aljazeera: so the sensibilities are reflective of the Qatari regime and its allies. It is basically Ikhwan "light".  And Queen Rania? Really? Arab youth are eager to read what Western consultants have written for her?  And the Syrian opposition writer, Hakam Al-Baba is a featured blogger? This sectarian agitator who believes that there should be no assurances to minorities in Syria after the Saudi-Qatari victory there? This is a guy who faulted Al-Julani for his moderation. This is a guy who has defended the worst Jihadi groups in Syria. Welcome to the liberation Huffington Post in Arabic.  

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Traveling

I am traveling within the galaxy. Blogging will be sporadic. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

It is not a big story if it involves Israel

"U.S. authorities arrested four people in Israel and Florida Tuesday, some of whom are believed to be tied to computer hacks of JPMorgan Chase and other financial institutions." "To do this, used bank and brokerage accounts that were opened "using aliases, false and fraudulent passports, and other false identification," the indictment said."

Friday, July 24, 2015

Saudi-Israeli alliance

"Mr Netanyahu has alluded to Saudi concerns in his repeated denunciations of the deal, which he amplified on Wednesday in a speech to the Knesset,"


 

What does UK do for democracy in the Middle East?

"Eleven British personnel are “providing mentoring and advice” to the Saudi National Guard, which is a special arm of the Gulf state’s forces that is tasked with protecting the royal family from potential crises including coups."

Turkish government and Al-Qa`idah

"There is no doubt that ability to move backwards and forwards across the 550-mile long Syrian-Turkish border has been crucial to the growth of the jihadi movements in Syria since 2011. The thousands of foreign volunteers who have flooded into Syria have almost all come from Turkey. Even those unable to speak Turkish or Arabic have had little difficulty in making their way across. In many respects, Turkey has provided a safe sanctuary for Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra, playing a similar role as Pakistan does in support of providing safe haven for the Taliban in Afghanistan." "A Syrian rebel offensive led by Jabhat al-Nusra was allegedly masterminded from an operational headquarters inside Turkey and was the outcome of a closer understanding between Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar." (thanks Amir)

Omar Sharif and Universal Fame

My weekly article in Al-Akhbar: "Omar Sharif and Universal Fame: Between East and West".

Jamal Khashuqji and the Saudi project in the region

Since this propagandist of various Saudi princes is often cited in Western media as an independent Arab voice, I thought I would share this characterization of his about the differences between the Iranian and Saudi projects in the region:
"Either us with our participatory democratic project which includes all, and would build our plurastic Yemen and Syria, or them iwth their narrow sectarian project".    If you were reading this would you not think it is a joke?
هناك، فلا يخف ضغطنا إلا أن نرى منهم استجابة لهذا المشروع، أما غير ذلك فهو الاستمرار في المواجهة الكبرى التي لا تحتمل أنصاف الحلول، فإما نحن بمشروعنا الديموقراطي التشاركي الذي يستوعب الجميع، وبناء شامنا ويمننا التعددي، وإما هم بمشروعهم الطائفي الضيق.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

This is an actual headline in the news site of the TV station of King Fahd's brother-in-law, Al-Arabiyyah

"Security is the UAE’s key to freedom". (thanks Basim)

Watching Saudi war and destruction from atop his roof in Yemen

The 103rd beheading in Saudi Arabia for this year alone

This is the 103rd beheading in Saudi Arabia for this year. For some reason, Western media treat Saudi regime beheading as being more civilized and humane than ISIS beheading.

Who are the officials in Yemen? They are the puppets in Saudi Arabia

"Shiite rebels and their allies in Yemen randomly shelled a town outside Aden on Sunday after losing control of some of the port city’s neighborhoods, killing at least 45 people and wounding 120, officials said."  This is hilarious when they attribute information to "officials in Yemen", as if there is a state in Yemen which is above the social and political conflict. THe government in Yemen of which this correspondent speaks is the Hadi Mansur regime.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

John Kerry on why his Gulf Arab allies are superior to Iran

"Iran's military budget is $15 billion, while Gulf states spend $130 billion annually".

ميزانية إيران العسكرية 15 مليار دولار، ودول الخليج تصرف 130 مليار دولار سنوية

McDonald's in Tehran, again

From Fred: "As I constant and devoted visitor to your blog, I feel impelled to offer a slight correct to your post on the projected opening of a McDonald’s franchise in Tehran.

Actually, several years ago—in the early days of S. Mohammad Khatami’s government—a McDonald’s franchise was to be opened at a choice location in North Tehran, where the demographics and socio-political outlook of the population would almost certainly guarantee success.

But just before opening day, the restaurant was surrounded by a very large and militant demonstration of « students » who vowed to block the enterprise. To no one’s surprise, they were successful and the project evaporated.

How do I know this? I was in Tehran at the time."

"Gay hanging in Iran: Atrocities and impersonations"

 "Why does it matter? Because LGBT Iranians shouldn’t be exploited for propaganda. They lead lives seamed by danger, distinguished by courage; they deserve better than to be backgammon pieces, passive tokens stacked and shifted in a great-power political game. LGBT people should speak in their own voices, be masters and heroes of their own lives. That is what the liberation struggle is about.

The fact that nobody — not Tatchell, not Ben Weinthal, not Gay Star News — bothered to ask LGBT Iranian activists or groups what the truth was, or whether they wanted a demonstration, is appalling. But it’s typical. The story of Western engagement with LGBT rights in Iran has been one of occupation and ventriloquism, not freedom. It’s long past time for the sick game to stop."

"How US/UK media circulate disinformation all over the world"

"That the New York Times mindlessly disseminates claims from anonymous officials with great regularity is, at this point, too well-documented to require much discussion. But it is worth observing how damaging it continues to be, because, shockingly, all sorts of self-identified “journalists” — both within the paper and outside of it — continue to equate un-verified assertions from government officials as Proven Truth, even when these officials are too cowardly to attach their names to these claims, as long as papers such as the NYT launder them." "All anyone in government has to do is whisper something in its journalists’ ears, demand anonymity for it, and instruct them to print it. Then they obey. Then other journalists treat it as Truth. Then it becomes fact, all over the world."

British PM's messages to Muslims

"Saudi Arabia is another case in point. Here is a state which doesn’t know the meaning of free speech, which beheads its citizens, tolerates forced marriages, defines political opposition as terrorism, and arranges the persecution of homosexuals (last year a Saudi man was sentenced to three years in jail and 450 lashes after he was caught using Twitter to arrange dates with other men: a married man found engaging in homosexual acts can be stoned to death). Yet David Cameron treats the Saudi Arabia as one of our closest allies." "The contradiction between the prime minister’s support for democracy in Britain and dictators in the Middle East is very dangerous."

Angry residents of a small Texan town have threatened to put pigs’ heads on poles and pour the blood onto land which has been earmarked for a Muslim cemetery

"Angry residents of a small Texan town have threatened to put pigs’ heads on poles and pour the blood onto land which has been earmarked for a Muslim cemetery. The latest manifestation of anti-Islamic sentiment in America surrounds a small plot of undeveloped land 35 miles north-east of Dallas." (thanks Amir)

How to accurately identify House of Saud propagandists

Basim sent me this under the headline:  "Angry Arab's influence on Reuters":  "I think Saudi Arabia would seriously try to get the bomb if Iran did. It's just like India and Pakistan. The Pakistanis said for years they didn't want one, but when India got it, so did they," said Jamal Khashoggi, head of a Saudi news channel owned by a prince. " (thanks Basim)

One of the top clowns of the Middle East region

44444444444444444444

throwing stones as a terrorist crime in Israel

"Israeli parliament passes bill imposing harsh sentences for stone attacks on civilian vehicles, with justice minister calling 20 years in jail a "fitting punishment" for "terrorists"."

Regarding the Qur'an in UK

It is exciting news and it only proves what we have known all along: that the copy of the Qur'an read today is pretty much the same copy that was produced in the era of `Uthman, although Orientalists tried very hard to either discover variations or to exaggerate the impact of diacritical marks in the reading of the Qur'an (like Patricia Crone).  But what is missing from the news is this: how did a Qur'an from Arabia wound up in the UK? The answer is simple. There was an Iraqi priest who was hired in the 20th century to either steal or buy at cheap prices old Arabic manuscripts and books. Sadly, Philip Hitti did the same for the Princeton collection.  Those stolen objects and manuscripts need to be returned to the region although no government there dares call for their return. Nasser's regime, to its credit, used to bring up the issue with Western governments.

Syrian rebels and their "artillary of hell"

This improvised shell (using cylinders of gas) are called "artillery of hell", and are a staple of the indiscriminate shelling by Syrian rebels.  How much accuracy do you think that they have?  Yesterday, in response to advances by Syrian regime troops in Zabadani, Syrian rebels started to shell the hell out of rif Idlib.  How come those shells are not as infamous as barrel bombs (which have been used to Western media acclaim) by Lebanese Army against Nahr Al-Barid refugee camp in 2007.  

The Brave Andrew Hammond

Former Middle East correspondent for Reuters, wrote this article about his experience covering Saudi Arabia for Reuters.  His name was mentioned in Saudi cables of Wikileaks.  I asked him to write the article and he wrote it in Arabic.  A rare correspondent.

The Independent and Guardian on Syria

When it comes to covering Syria, The Independent and Guardian are as bad as Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat.

Rose Troup Buchanan caught in a big lie in The Independent: Bashshar's new Qur'an?

"Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has ordered the release of a new “revised” version of the Koran in order to correct “distortion” and “misleading” lessons, state television reports." This is an outright lie and fabrication circulated by Rose Troup Buchanan's friends in the propaganda offices of Syrian rebels.  The actual story according to the official announcement is that the revision is in the print and calligraphy of the letters.  See that you can say anything about Syria provided it is damaging about one side.

PS: Here is the official statement on the matter. Too bad that Rose only reports what she hears from the propaganda of GCC rebels in Syria and Istanbul.

PPS: Patrick Cockburn is a pleasant exception. One brave journalist who does not follow the Western conventional wisdom.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

McDonald's In Iran

Now that there is news that McDonald's may be opening in Iran, does that not yet again foil the stupid theory of Thomas Friedman that two countries with McDonald's restaurants in them can't possibly go to war?

Early history of Islam

Furthermore, the control of most of Arabia by House of Saud--especially of Hijaz--prevented any archeological digging in Mecca or Medina (not withstanding the digging that they permitted over the house of Khadijah to build the new Hilton Hotel and Casino in Mecca). We would have learned so much about the early history of Islam had those Wahhai reactionaries allowed it.

On Patricia Crone, again

I received this from a colleague in France:
"I rather agree with your interpretation in general, though not in detail. I was a student of Patricia Crone’s when she was young, though I didn’t follow her career later.

She was a brilliant historian, with all the advantages and disadvantages that that implies. Brilliant interpretation, but a lack of common sense.

A couple of years after the publication of “Hagarism”, she told me that even she didn’t believe it. It was a raspberry blown against traditional interpretations of the origins of Islam. That was characteristic of her work: in “Meccan Trade” she blew a raspberry on Meccan trade under Quraysh, but failed to come up with a characterisation of what it really was.

The other fundamental point is that in the time that I knew her, she had never visited Arab/Muslim countries, only Jerusalem. She may have visited later, but not in the formative years, when I knew her. It was all an intellectual construct.

I should say that in my field, the traditional story of the origins of Islam is not that far from being true. My material doesn’t speak of the origins of Islam, but what happened subsequently is conform with the description."

Patricia Crone

I have been re-reading her since her death: to be critical of her approach and conclusions (and her harsh judgment on matters Islamic) is not to maintain in everything she wrote. Of course, not. I certainly agree with her that Islamic history as written by Muslim is woefully one-sided and one-dimensional and a prisoner of one body of materials. 

So who kilss Palestinians? Not Israel, according to the New York Times

This is a new trend now: New York Times will now blame all bombings in Gaza on "extremists" in order to absolve Israel from crimes it has been committing non-stop since the 1930s.  " A series of explosions destroyed several vehicles belonging to officials of the militant Islamist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad on Sunday, the latest in a series of attacks in Gaza attributed to extremists who have aligned themselves with the Islamic State."  Attributed? By Israeli propagandists like you?

So basically, the US is now aligned with Al-Qa`idah in two places: Syria and Yemen

"Local militias backed by Saudi Arabia, special forces from the United Arab Emirates and al Qaeda militants all fought on the same side this week to wrest back control over most of Yemen’s second city, Aden, from pro-Iranian Houthi rebels, according to local residents and Houthi forces." "Meanwhile, Saudi-backed militias are spearheading efforts to roll back Houthi gains and reinstate the government that the rebels drove into exile in neighboring Saudi Arabia. But they have turned to Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, for help, according to local residents and a senior Western diplomat. This puts the U.S.-allied Gulf kingdom on the same side as one of the world’s most notorious extremist groups."

Basically, NATO destroyed Libya

"Libya’s decimation was the inevitable result of the removal of its government, and the removal of its government was the express goal of the US-NATO war. To build support for the military offensive, American officials lied about the humanitarian threat posed by Qaddafi; to execute it, they empowered and armed an opposition coalition they knew was rife with al-Qaeda allies and other reactionary forces."

The indiginous Syrian "revolution"

"Thousands of foreign fighters have rushed from Western and Arab countries to join the ranks of the Islamic State (IS) group, with many choosing Raqqa as their new home in a move to build their burgeoning state. But while the new recruits detail a utopian existence in the caliphate, sharing pictures of abundances of food and luxury on social media, locals say the migrants are occupying the city and treat their hosts as second-class citizens."

America's awards for nuke tests

"That’s right, if you were involved in a nuclear test in the latter half of the 20th century you may have received a colorful slip of paper certifying that you had been there." (thanks Amir)

The "Jewish Quarter" TV serial

As you know, most Western journalists in the Middle East don't have a command of Arabic although they hire a bevy of local staffers who speak the language (and most of those are also past or future workers in Saudi and Qatari media, so their politics is always to the right of Muhammad bin Salman--just in case).  When the Jewish Quarter TV serial started airing in Ramadan, the Western media could not see any TV serial except this one. You can even google to see that of all the TV serials, only this one got coverage.  They heard that the serial has a "good" portrayal of Arab Jews, contrary to Western Zionist depiction of Arabs as anti-Semitic.  But it was very clear that that they didn't watch the show: Al-Akhbar TV critic, Zaynab Hawi, tells me that the show actually was more complex and while it avoided any anti-Jewish references, it was firmly anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli.  None of the Western writers noticed that.  I didn't watch the serial so I am relying on her.  Yet, Liberation (the neo liberation which should not be confused with the old Liberation), the French publication decided that the show is in fact anti-Semitic.

As if Israel abides by laws (local or international) and as if Palestine was occupied by law

"Palestinians entangled in lawsuits to claim ownership of properties grabbed by the state of Israel have found a new sidekick in their legal battle: The Ottomans or rather, the archives of the now-defunct empire, which once ruled present-day Israel, Palestine and much of the Middle East for centuries.

Turkey opened the Ottoman land registry archives to Palestinian litigants so that Israel "can't tell Palestinians this land is not yours," said Kudret Bülbül, the head of a Turkish agency overseeing the process."

ISIS and its wars

ISIS specifically targeted leftists in the bombing in Turkey. But leftists around the world have no support and no regime sponsor. Those will be the most forgotten victims and Western powers will not convene special meetings about their plight, and no one will lobby the White House on their behalf. 

Mr. Cameron: would you like some fries with your order?

"Mr. Cameron called on his country’s Muslims to work with the government to “condemn conspiracy theories,” reject violence and speak more forcefully “to challenge and defeat” the extremist misinterpretation of Islam, which he called “a religion of peace.”  While extremists “self-identify” with Islam, Mr. Cameron said, “we need to challenge them and need the help of Muslim scholars to help defeat them, and Muslim communities and scholars to say they’re wrong.”"  On conspiracy theories: would he call on American non-Muslims for their strong propensity to conspiracy theory on UFOs, Kennedy assassination, and the Trilateral Commission?

This picture is evidence that the US promotes democracy in the Middle East

Embedded image permalink

Monday, July 20, 2015

Greek Defense Minister: another right-wing anti-Semite supports Israel

"Kammenos said the “Greek people are very close to the people in Israel,” adding that military bilateral relations are good, and that both countries will continue to build on them through joint training. Terror - ism and jihad, he added, are not just in the Middle East, but are also present in the Balkans and Europe.

Greece is within range of Iranian missiles, he added. “If one Iranian missile makes its way to the Mediterranean, this could be the end of states in this region,” the Greek defense minister said. "