Monday, December 22, 2014

Two stories on Egypt that only solidify the US reputation as the protector of human rights in the Arab world

Story I:  "Egyptian security forces have detained nearly 10,000 people suspected of being militants, rioters and others wanted in violent attacks over the past 12 months in a crackdown that a senior Interior Ministry official said Saturday was aimed at those trying to curtail Egypt’s development."

Story II: " Egypt received 10 Apache helicopters from the United States in the past week, security officials said Saturday, a sign that tensions between the longtime allies are easing as they confront Islamist extremism across the region."  Draw your own conclusions.

Protest in Kenya

The Kenyan people are at least more vigilant about protecting their freedoms than Westerners and Arabs.

Superpower's desire for freedom for the Cuban people

"Premature ecstasy over a perceived triumph of justice thus ignores the possibility that the U.S. has simply determined it’s easier to cajole Cuba into the neoliberal fold with a foot in the door. It’s safe to speculate that a portion of American business is salivating at the prospect of a Berlin Wall moment or a return of the prerevolutionary golden age of corporate-friendly dictatorship." "Since crass discussion of business interests isn’t the best way to win public support, the U.S. has euphemized its financial ambitions in Cuba into a desire for freedom for the Cuban people."

The new Canada

"The truth is that they’re each part of a larger scheme, one that has animated a good portion of Canadian politics for the past decade or so. It is a strategy to galvanize a political base (in a time of austerity and economic uncertainty) through fear, thereby dividing the citizenry along racial and religious lines to create the kind of political playing field most advantageous to the Tories. Canada is experiencing around seven percent unemployment and wage stagnation, with high joblessness projected in the future. Focusing on immigration and homegrown terrorism is a short cut to jolting their political base into outrage and action."

Anti-Muslim hooligans

"PEGIDA's connections to the hooligan community are also noteworthy. For instance, the police have identified some of the protestors as members of "Fist of the East," a Dresden hooligan group in the right-wing extremist camp. Members of "Hooligans Elbflorenz (Florence on the Elbe, a nickname for Dresden)," which the Dresden Regional Court has classified as a criminal organization, have also been spotted. Activists with the group have reportedly been in contact with the banned far-right extremist fellowship known as "Skinheads Sächsische Schweiz." " (thanks Amir)

Between the Chinese government and the US government I, of course, believe the Chinese government

"China condemns cyberattacks, but says no proof North Korea hacked Sony"

How can the Harvard Corporation not stand for occupation?

"Top Harvard University officials have stepped in after campus food services administrators agreed to remove the SodaStream label from equipment in their dining halls and not to make any new purchases from the company.

The decision to boycott SodaStream came after a series of meetings with faculty and concerned students to discuss the implications of using a product manufactured in an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.

But now Harvard University Dining Services is reconsidering its decision on the grounds that it should not have taken “political” factors into account. This flatly contradicts a decision in another recent case — that administrators did not contest — to boycott a company whose chair made anti-gay comments.

The university administration’s intervention in the SodaStream case is in keeping with other openly pro-Israel positions taken by Harvard President Drew G. Faust and Provost Alan Garber."

The good old days of the secular "Syrian revolution"

  Mr. `Ar`ur sitting between the commanders of the joint leadership of the military councils of the "revolution".  Compared to the current leaders of the "revolution", `Ar`ur is like Voltaire now.

New York Times on torture

The New York Times calls for the prosecution of the American torturers and their replacement with Israeli torturers.

The end of electoral appeal in the Arab world

My latest blog post for Al-Akhbar English: "The end of electoral appeal in the Arab world"

Human Rights Watch praises Jordan for executing 11 people

"“With these executions, Jordan loses its standing as a rare progressive voice on the death penalty in the region,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director. "  A rare progressive voice on the death penalty in the region?  Does Sarah think that there is one Arab out there who consider Jordan a progressive voice on anything at all?  What do you do.  Regimes that are allies of Israel and US get praised by human rights organizations even when they execute 11 people in one spectacle.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

This is hilairous: This Israeli center calls a writer anti-Semitic because he has an Arabic name not knowing that he is a Jewish Zionist

"British Arab journalist ‘Adel Darwish wrote in the London daily al-Sharq al-Awsat about Iranian President Ahmadinejad “he only caused damage to his country, which is [going through] a difficult period in [terms of] its foreign [relations]. He also caused severe damage to the Muslims by creating a political-cultural climate in which feelings of hate drown out the Muslims’ noble and humane sentiments.” This criticism, which once again focuses on the damage of this strategy to the Arab or Muslim cause, and not on its inherent ethical problems, was put also forward by others.[31]"

Notice how polite Amnesty International and HRW are about 11 wholesale executions by the Jordanian regime

"Jordan executed 11 men in Suwaqa prison today".  You bet that Western governments will not express concern.

This is how propaganda works: the story by Sam Dagher

So Sam Dagher published this story in the Wall Street Journal which is based on the "hunches" of Syrian opposition people.  So today, all the Syrian exile and rebel opposition websites are circulating the story as: The Wall Street Journal publishes a sensational story, etc.  I mean, they are the origin of the story but then they make it as if it originated with the "respected" Wall Street Journal.

The Sam Dagher story in the Wall Street Journal

A comrade sent me this (she does not want to be identified for some reason):  "What surprises me about in this article, other than it is a he said she said kind of report, and although it is not unlikely that the regime killed Asef Shawkat (although one may argue: why would they kill him in the centre of Damascus and with a bunch of other senior officials and look weak at a very critical period of the crisis), what is interesting is that Sam Dagher is trying to downplay Mounaf Tlas as the source of this "theory" maybe because he knows that he lacks any credibility. This article should be titled: Mounaf Tlas thinks or says that the regime killed Asef Shawkat and it would not have had an effect, instead Sam Dagher wants you to think that this is not the opinion of one man but many, on Twitter he says two dozens believe that including his neighbors maybe in addition to walid Jumblat. Also what does he mean by new revelations? Obviously he cannot use new evidence, because he has none, so he thinks revelations makes sense? انو نزل  الوحي على مناف طلاس بعد سنتين "

PS The Arabic says: "So divine revelation descended on Munaf Tlas two years later"?

It is over: the Syrian regime will fall next week

This guy is certain

Israel among the top ton collaborators with Saudi Arabia in research

The full report.

Earlier Syria scoops by Sam Dagher

"Additionally, the deputy foreign minister of Syria told Dagher that neighbors who might assist the United States in strikes, such as Turkey and Jordan, would also be attacked by Syria." (thanks Michele)

Saturday, December 20, 2014


Who will win tomorrow in Tunisia? Qatar or Saudi Arabia?

The art of Seth Rogen

And let us face it: who can better educate the world about foreign affairs and human rights than Seth Rogen?  

How could you, North Korea?

Will humanity be able to survive without the high art and humor of Seth Rogen? How could you, North Korea?

diet of Gaza

From Marc: "doesnt this sound like the "diet" israel puts gaza on:

In the spring of 1960, US Secretary of State Christian Herter expressed the need to take a "positive position which would call forth a line of action while as adroit and inconspicuous as possible makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.""

Sony and the movie

So Sony first said that everyone got it wrong: that it did not decide to not release the movie, and that movie theaters decided to not run it. Today, Sony said that it has decided to release the movie, although as of yesterday it was denying stories that it did not release. Now we can all enjoy the high art of Seth Rogen.

Notice the word "possibly"

What #Assad & #Syria regime hardliners did to cling to power, possibly killing their own too on July 18, 2012 @WSJ

Have Arab regimes taken over Arabic Wikipedia?

I have been noticing as of late: Arab intelligence services seem to have taken over Arabic Wikipedia. They really control the full text of the entries on issues and personalities that they care about. The entry of Qaboos is clearly written by his media office. Look at this entry of Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahab: it does not even mention the opposition to him by his own brother (who authored the first refutation of Wahhabiyyah ever), and it puts claims of wide travels and education by the illiterate man.  Finally, it claims he was prolific when he actually never authored books or articles by collected Hadith to bolster his kooky Jihadi terrorist cause. 

Sam Dagher's previous work on Syria

A reader sent me this: "Zamzam Khalil, 95, refugee Tiberias was eating grass in " did'nt do this" "
Embedded image permalink Older women used to have tattoos on their faces, and Mr. Dagher thought it was from eating grass. What do you say to that?

A response to the Sam Dagher's story in the Wall Street Journal

A well-known Western journalist in the Middle East (who does not wish to be identified) sent me this reaction:
"Any article that begins by quoting Manaf Tlass as a source immediately loses credibility, but then the only thing that discredits one more than quoting Tlass is quoting Walid Jumblatt
I’m curious why they decided to publish this now, its very weird, an article blaming Iran and Hizballah without any evidence or anything new to say about an explosion over two years old. There has to be something to the timing.
Tlass never told me or any of his close friends either story until now and they are surprised by his claims. He’s making up the story about being personally targeted. Also he would not know anything about this stuff, he was cut off from the internal workings of the regime, and he left before it happened. Moreover important insurgent leaders claimed to be behind the attack and western intelligence agencies did not blame the regime but thought it was an insurgent operation.
Shawqat was in fact well liked by many of the local opposition leaders he met at the time, whether in Homs or Reef Dimashq or elsewhere. And some were wondering if he was building his own kingdom. But he was not the only pragmatist in the regime at the time.
While elements in the regime might be cynical enough to do something like this, this article proves nothing and repeats rumor and gossip. It’s a surprise because Dagher is one of the best Western correspondents covering the Middle East and his work on Syria was better than most.
The bombing did not spur more Alawites to support the regime any more than any other incident let alone the nature of the opposition itself, and the nature of Alawites themselves too
The article greatly exaggerates the role of Iran and Hizballah, important as their roles are. Syria is not in the hands of Iran but of course Iran has influence and there are Iranian advisors.
“The killing of two Syrian protesters by regime forces on March 18, 2011, in the city of Deraa, changed everything. It shattered a short period of peaceful marches by mostly Sunni crowds calling for Mr. Assad’s ouster.”
March 18 was the first Friday demonstration in Daraa, so the short period had not started yet, nor had calls for Assad’s ouster really started yet
Also I do not think Faruq Sharaa was put under house arrest."

The journalism of Sam Dagher: the story of Abu Karo

Readers from around the Middle East have been sharing with me samples of the journalistic work of Sam Dagher. I thought it was a spoof, I swear.  I mean, it is possible that Abu Karo was one of the sources of his story in the WSJ yesterday. 

PS Did you notice that most Western journalists and even foreign editor were circulating the story as it it had some damning evidence?

Enemies of the Lebanese people

"The United Nations General assembly passed a resolution on Friday asking Israel to pay over $850 million in damages to Lebanon for the 2006 oil spill that occurred because of an attack by the Israeli air force. The resolution, approved by 170 members of the council, was denied by six members while three members abstained from voting. Israel, the U.S., Canada, Australia, Micronesia and Marshall Islands voted "no" for the resolution,"

Israel's dirty hands in Syria

"Covertly however Israel is a key player in prolonging the depleting war on Syria and the major beneficiary of neutralizing the military of the only immediate Arab neighbor that has so far eluded yielding to the terms dictated by the US-backed Israeli regional force majeure for making peace with the Hebrew state." "Israeli air force and artillery intervened several times to protect the al-Nusra Front's "safe haven" against fire power from Syria, which is still committed to its ceasefire agreement of 1974 with Israel. Last September for example, Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet that was bombing the Front's positions, only three weeks after shooting down a Syrian drone over the area."

But of the total, only $100 million or so has been received by Gaza

"The conference in Cairo had been hailed as a success, with Qatar promising $1 billion, Saudi Arabia $500 million and the United States and the European Union a combined $780 million in various forms of assistance." "But of the total, only $100 million or so has been received, according to U.N. and other officials." "The Arab countries haven't paid anything until now," Mufeed al-Hasayna, the Palestinian housing minister, said this month." (thanks Amir)

Why would the West be bothered when the Turkish military rule didn't bother them

"President Tayyip Erdogan's tightening grip on power is likely to meet little more than symbolic resistance from the West next year, as Turkey's G20 presidency and the fight against Islamic State trump concerns about a slide towards authoritarianism."

Obama deepens Israeli-American relations

"The U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act increases the value of emergency U.S. weaponry kept in Israel by $200 million, to a total of $1.8 billion. It promotes closer U.S.-Israeli links in energy, water, homeland security, alternative fuel technology and cybersecurity. It also offers a verbal guarantee of Israel maintaining a qualitative military edge over its neighbors."

Pastry chefs

Basim sent me this: "Sheikh al-Masri is a moderate Islamist advocate, who makes a living from a pastry shop he owns in the area of Abi Samra in the northern city of Tripoli. "

Abu Ali al-Shishani: From pastry chef to ‘Islamic State’ emir. He added, in the midst of these events “I told myself that jihad began in Syria so I left Lebanon where I worked as a pastry chef” and headed to Syria."

Tunisian pastry chef Slim Gasmi died on a Syrian battlefield and was lionized with a hashtag: #martyrdomofabuqatada. By the time he was killed in April more than 1,500 miles from home, he had transformed into a warrior with a long beard and a nom de guerre, Abu Qatada, celebrated on a radical jihadist Twitter feed."

Western discourse on Islam: and anti-Semitism

You don't think we notice? That grotesque bigotry against Muslims never gets the same (justified) outrage that anti-Semitism brings?  How would those haters be perceived historically?  And why don't people point out the striking similarity between current Western discourses on Islam and the past Western (and even German) discourses against Jews prior to WWII.   "In the interview, he said: "There's a definite urge - don't you have it? - to say, 'The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order.' What sort of suffering? Not letting them travel. Deportation - further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they're from the Middle East or from Pakistan." "  If he said the same about Jews this man would not be allowed in polite company and he would never be allowed to publish anywhere. 

Yellow journalism mixed with crude propaganda: Sam Dagher in the Wall Street Journal

Let us face it. America's favorite armed gangs in Syria are not doing well at all. Your hero, Gen. Engineer Dr. Salim Idriss is nowhere to be found; the Syrian national coalition can't even meet because of dissent and divisions; what used to be called "rebels and activists" are now basically a variety of Bin Laden's children (Nusrah versus ISIS), and what is left of the Fee Syrian Army often defects in whole units to ISIS as happened in the north just recently.  And there are no more defections from the Syrian regime--not even clerks and photographers--to celebrate in the Western media. So what to do in such cases?  Well, the best thing is to cook a propaganda story and fabricate a fable that only those fabricated it can believe it. Sam Dagher has this article which adheres to the lowest standards of journalism that I have seen (and the standards of journalism on Syria in the Western press are the lowest I have seen in a long time). But look how Dagher documents his story: "Two dozen people, including past and current regime officials, opposition leaders, activists and rebels, and politicians in neighboring countries with ties to Mr. Assad told The Wall Street Journal".  But in fact the two dozen people he mentions are the same people: they are Syrian opposition people and their handlers in the Arab intelligence services.  It is really one source. But the favorite part of the story is that it relies mostly on the account of Munaf Tlas. Mr. Tlas sat on this explosive story for three years and just now remembered it? I mean, who not share it when the oil media were desperate for your stories and inside information although you provided none. And now when nobody talks about Tlasn and when it became clear that all factions of the Syrian rebels are not ready to work with him, he decided to pick a willing cheerleader for the Syrian rebels to tell his story.  Only now? And I like how the revelation came on the 3rd anniversary of the bombing.  But here is my favorite part of the anthology of lies:  "One opposition activist said Mr. Shawkat seemed to be the regime representative most interested in the discussion."  What? Most interested in discussion? All the time when the Syrian war started and up until the time when the bomb exploded and long after Shawkat died, the entire media of the Syrian opposition (armed and unarmed) were talking about Shawkat as the butcher of Damascus and as the worst man in the entire regime.  So Dagher wants us to now forget that we read all those accounts and believe that the Syrian opposition believed that he was a man of moderation and negotiations?  Finally, I need to add one last bit: among Dagher's sources for this article is...Walid Jumblat. Need I say more?

House of Saud forces assaults `Awamiyyah last night (or early morning Saudi time)

Victim, Salim Abu `Abdullah.

Friday, December 19, 2014

"The CIA Didn’t Just Torture, It Experimented on Human Beings"

"Human experimentation, in contrast, has not been politically refashioned into a legitimate or justifiable enterprise. Therefore, it would behoove us to appreciate the fact that the architects and implementers of black-site torments were authorized at the highest levels of the White House and CIA to experiment on human beings. Reading the report through this lens casts a different light on questions of accountability and impunity."

Israelis: when they try to claim that the handful of Arabs who are not opposed to Israel are "great"

Never mind that Salem does not promote Israel in Arabic, or that he has written anti-Semitic stuff, or that he is published in the mouthpiece of Prince Salman, or that his claim to fame is a plagiarized play.  From Khelil:  "I remember you writing about Ali Salem and how Zionist media are keen to promote him and exaggerate his significance (it would be more accurate to say they invent his significance) all because he traveled to Israel. The Jerusalem Post has found their favorite Egyptian and wants readers to know that this guy’s books are “classics” and cites by way of authority Daniel Pipes’ journal: “Salem has written 25 plays and 15 books, and some of them Egyptian classics, said the article.” Silly "

Nir Rosen

""In it, he argues that the armed opposition has become hopelessly radicalized, while the Assad regime is nonsectarian in nature." “While the Syrian state was not the most attractive one even before the 2011 uprising, it also was not the worst regime in the region,” he writes. “It has strong systems of education, health care and social welfare and compared to most Arab governments it was socially progressive and secular…. It had a solid infrastructure and a relatively effective civil service.” "Rosen also argues against the assumption that Assad presides over an Alawite-dominated regime. “Most of the regime is Sunni, most of its supporters are Sunnis, many [if] not most of its soldiers are Sunni,” he writes. “The regime may be brutal, authoritarian, corrupt and whatever else it is described as, but it should not be seen as representing a sect.” The sectarianism that does exist in Syria, Rosen argues, is preponderantly on the side of the anti-Assad opposition."" So Nir does not believe in the theory that the Sufis and whiskey fans are running the "revolution" anymore?

fair and free elections

"This must be why Republicans demand that Cuba holds “free and fair elections” before any agreement between them. Because the one thing connecting the people the US backed during those 50 years – from Pinochet to the Indonesian military; Saddam when they liked him; the Emir of Kuwait; the Saudi royal family; Assad when they liked him; the Shah of Iran; Marcos in the Philippines; and Bin Laden when they liked him – is you can’t mention their names without thinking the words “free and fair elections”."

Governments don't interfere in the art of Seth Rogen in the West

"The claim that the State Department played an active role in the decision to include the film’s gruesome death scene is likely to cause fury in Pyongyang. Emails between the Sony Entertainment CEO and a security consultant even appear to suggest the U.S. government may support the notion that The Interview would be useful propaganda against the North Korean regime."

Seth Rogen

Seth Rogen to Western civilization, from what I read in the US media, is what Victor Hugo was to French literature.

decades of US plans to kill Castro: Castro won

"Fleming, it is claimed, told Kennedy, that killing Fidel Castro was not simply enough, he had to be thoroughly humiliated." "Other agents studied the possibility of killing Castro while he was diving. Plans were discussed which considered infecting his air supply with a biological agent. But Desmond Fitzgerald, the CIA's former head of Cuban operations said he bought two books on Caribbean mollusks, to find a seashell suitable to hold an explosive device, which would kill the communist leader on the sea bed. Another plan, which seemed similar to one discussed at the Kennedy dinner table involved a CIA campaign describing Castro as the anti-Christ, while a US submarine would light up the sky with starbursts announcing the Second Coming." (thanks Amir)

Will we ever laugh again, in the Western world?

Will we be able to laugh again in the Western world now that Sony censored yet another hilarious art project from Seth Rogen? I doubt it.