Sunday, September 21, 2014

What is brilliance for the Westerner? III

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

What is brilliance II

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

what is considered brilliant?

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

An Arab view about China

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

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

Banned in China?

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

Qatar and ISIS

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

That the US created ISIS

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

Western gifts to Arabs

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

Why the disinformation and lies about ISIS are benefiting ISIS

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

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

Michelle Goldberg on the Salaita case

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

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

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

By Khalid Albaih

Authentic Al-Qai`dah

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

Saudi regime: origin of the problem

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

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

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

The Huthis

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

the race to inherit Fouad Ajami's role

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

Saturday, September 20, 2014

British Hostage, John Cantlie: something odd about his video

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

Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi declares all-out war

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

American bombs never kill civilians

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

Failings and shortcomings of Western correspondents in Beirut

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

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

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

Israeli occupation forces destroy water networks & launch assault on farmers

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

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

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

Zionist Jewish American organizations and the Islamophobia campaign

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

Israeli occupation forces destroy water networks & launch assault on farmers

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

Washington is populated by enough disingenuous, misinformation-spreading hucksters

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

My review of the IPhone

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

Friday, September 19, 2014

Hizbullah in the Face of Tornadoes

My weekly article in Al-Akhbar: "Hizbullah in the Face of Tornadoes".

Al-Lidd airport, Palestine: 1939

This is a first: an article in Foreign Policy links to an Arabic website which has a reputation lower than the National Inquirer in the US

"Armed men posing with severed heads".  How can you continue reading when the link is to the sleazy Hariri yellow journalism website really?

Since 9/11 the US has launched 94,000 air strikes: most against Iraq and Afghanistan, but also Libya, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia

"Forget the sobering fact that the western-backed Saudi regime has beheaded dozens in public in recent months, including for "sorcery", or that British troops infamously had themselves photographed with the severed heads of guerrillas during the Malayan war in the 1950s." "Since 9/11 the US has launched 94,000 air strikes: most against Iraq and Afghanistan, but also Libya, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians in the process."

The American empire

"The U.S. military used a camera as a torture device at Abu Grahib. To add further humiliation to detainees who were already put in cages, urinated on, stripped naked then stacked in macabre human pyramids, their photos were taken during these degrading acts."

Alan Dershowitz and his defense of Israel

If Israel were to kill one million Palestinians, I can see Derwhowitz defending the action. I can see him arguing: yes, they killed one million but they did not kill six. That is a sign of the humanity of the state.

Zionist dirty tricks

""Hardly anyone in Israel can speak 4,000-year-old Aramaic. Now, the Israeli decision to recognise "Aramean" as a distinct nationality in the country's population register is fuelling the ire of Israeli Arab leaders, who accuse the government of inventing a category of peoplehood to "divide and rule" the Arab minority."" (thanks Amir)

Ben Hubbard justifies alliances with Al-Qa`idah

Ben Hubbard justifies the alliance between the "moderate" rebel groups and Al-Qa`idah (which is part of the US coalition against ISIS):  "And some acknowledge that battlefield necessity has put them in the trenches with the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate".

Please, I beg you: don't be judgmental

Please, please. Don't be judgmental. According to the New York Times, the man to the right (a rebel leader, Sheikh Tawfiq Shahabuddin) is secular, moderate, liberal, feminist and thoroughly vetted by the CIA.  

Syrian rebels: vaccinates with poision:

So I read in the Free Syrian Army Times that the Syrian rebels will investigate the matter of spoiled vaccines.  Can you first report to us first about the results of previous investigations by the rebels of cases of war crimes? And then you can report back to me.  This is like American investigations in Iraq and Afghanistan of causes of helicopter crashes (always mechanical of course).

ISIS and the US role

This is an audio of the Boston radio program that I participated in about ISIS and the American role.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

On radio shortly: talking about ISIS and Saudi Arabia and US wars

I will be on the radio shortly with Patrick Cockburn and John Mearsheimer.

Hani Fahs is dead: Shi`ite Wahhabism

Lebanese Shi`ite cleric, Hani Fahs, is dead.  He is of course being praised in Hariri and Saudi media because he was an employee of those media.  I have said before that there is no man who switched political positions in a lifetime than this man and `Adil-`Abdul-Mahdi of Iraq (but I maintain that the latter genuinely changed positions from Fato to Maoist to Islamist etc).  Hani Fahs was first a follower of the As`ad reactionary family, and then became a supporter of Fath, and then became a supporter of Musa As-Sadr, and then became a follower of Khuymani and worked in Iran in the early years of the revolution, and then became close to Hizbullah, and then became close, again, to Amal Movement, and after 2005 became close to, or loyal to, Hariri family and Saudi regime.  That in Lebanon is being praised because the ultimate destination was the House of Saud.  I had written an article about him two years ago. 

Anne Barnard is back covering Syria from Beirut: the propaganda pitch is even higher about "moderate terrorists"

"Insurgents of all stripes, except for the Islamic State group, say the Syrian government appears to be stepping up its attacks on them ahead of the threatened American air campaign. Pro-government and antigovernment analysts say Mr. Assad has an interest in eliminating the more moderate rebels, to make sure his forces are the only ones left to benefit on the ground from any weakening of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS." The first version of this article, if I am not mistaken as I remember it from yesterday, claimed that ISIS has said that the Syrian regime has not stepped it attacks on it.  Now the new version by Barnard claims that insurgents "of all stripes" claimed that the Syrian regime stepped up attacks, leaving the impression (less strident than the previous propaganda version) that ISIS has actually said that the regime has stepped it attacks.  Now ISIS has not said anything on the matter, and I doubt that if asked, ISIS would say that, no, the regime has not stepped it attacks on it, as Barnard reports from her Ahrar Sham fighters (Saudi and American controlled).  Of course, those Saudi-American-run are going to claim to Barnard (who always report what FSA or those new favored rebels have to say without any questions or qualifications or investigation or verification) are going to claim that the regime is in cahoots with ISIS in order to receive yet more cash and arms.  Now, if Barnard knows Arabic she does not) only recently the same Syrian rebel media and oil and gas Arab media were reporting that the regime did step up attacks on ISIS but then accused the regime of killing Sunnis.  Oh, wait: as I reread the passage further, I realize that Barnard did not change the text as I read it further.  Here she says that sentence: "But Islamic State activists in Homs said on Wednesday that there had been no recent government airstrikes against the group". When did ISIS say that? You are telling me that ISIS made a statement in which it said: that the Syrian regime is not attacking us? are you kidding here, Ms. Barnard? Do you really believe everything that those rebels tell you? What did ISIS also say: that yes, we in ISIS are in cahoots with the regime?  How credible is this reportage?  But who cares as Ms. Barnard tells us that this rebel groups is--surprise, surprise--is yet another MODERATE group: "The Faith in God Brigade in Talbiseh is probably one of the most moderate forces left on the battlefield".  A moderate group with a name like Faith In God?  Why not add: this is a secular group named Faith in God?  Add more to the credibility of the article while you are at it.  Wait: I was wrong. Ms. Barnard does actually marshals evidence that this group is in fact moderate: "Before the war, Mr. Abu Nouh, 29, was an Internet technician. In the early days of the uprising, he wore his hair long, kept a poster of the heavy metal band Iron Maiden in his house, and watched American movies like “Fight Club” with civilian activists and asked them to bring him vodka from Damascus along with medical supplies and computer equipment." Long hair and vodka? If that is not a sign of Arab moderation nothing is.  And since the beginning of the Syrian uprising, I always identify when a Syrian rebel is lying: when the claim that they are independently funded from "Syrian exiles". Here is an example yet again: "The brigade in Talbiseh has refused to join with more extreme groups like the Islamic State or the Nusra Front, the Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda, Mr. Abu Nouh said. He said the brigade raised money mainly from Syrian émigrés in Persian Gulf states who have local relatives."  I bet. Was the TOW missiles also bought by Syrian emigres as well?  By the end of the article, Ms. Barnard seems to change her mind about the moderation of this group:  "And while they are more moderate than the Islamic State, the brigade’s Sunni fighters nonetheless express sectarian hatred toward the minority Alawite sect that forms Mr. Assad’s base. Mr. Abu Nouh shrugged at the news that 18 civilians were wounded in pro-government neighborhoods on Wednesday, saying, “They are Alawites.”" Did you mean to say, Ms. Barnard, that those are moderate terrorists? 

South Africa Supreme Court

After a months long court battle BDS South Africa (BDS-SA) won a “precedent-setting” freedom of expression court case last Thursday, September 11. In October 2012 BDS-SA along with the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA) purchased advertisements on billboards across South Africa. Not unlike what occurred when the Boston transit authority pulled Ads Against Apartheid’s “One Word” subway ads with no warning, South Africa’s Con­ti­nen­tal Out­door Media removed two BDS South Africa ads prior to their contractual expiration date without giving any notice to BDS-SA or the PSA." (thanks Peter)

No change to Gaza blockade since ceasefire

"There have been no changes to restrictions on Gaza's crossings since a ceasefire agreement went into effect at the end of August, a Palestinian official said Wednesday."