Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was born April 28, 1937 and died December 30, 2006. He was the fifth President of Iraq, holding that position from July 16, 1979 until 9 April 2003. He was one of the leading members of the revolutionary Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, and afterward, the Baghdad-based Ba’ath Party and its regional organization Ba’ath Party, Iraq Region, which advocated ba’athism, an ideological marriage of Arab nationalism with Arab socialism. (Patricia Ramos, july 2013)
"The national security of America and the security of the world could be attained if the American leaders [..] become rational, if America disengages itself from its evil alliance with Zionism, which has been scheming to exploit the world and plunge it in blood and darkness, by using America and some Western countries. What the American peoples need mostly is someone who tells them the truth, courageously and honestly as it is.
They don’t need fanfares and cheerleaders, if they want to take a lesson from the (sept. 11) event so as to reach a real awakening, in spite of the enormity of the event that hit America.
But the world, including the rulers of America, should say all this to the American peoples, so as to have the courage to tell the truth and act according to what is right and not what to is wrong and unjust, to undertake their responsibilities in fairness and justice, and by recourse to reason..."
Saddam Hussein, INA 15-9-2002
"The despot thinks he is just as God... What a nadir and mean fate!
The despot, as represented in this age, in our day, imagines he can enslave the people..
But they were born free. They were freed by God’s will through prophets and messengers, to be slaves only to Him and not to anyone of the people." Saddam Hussein, Iraq Daily 4-3-2003
A person with a God Complex may refuse to admit the possibility of their error or failure, even in the face of irrefutable evidence, intractable problems or difficult or impossible tasks.
The person is also highly dogmatic in their views, meaning the person speaks of their personal opinions as though they are unquestionably correct.
Someone with a god complex may exhibit no regard for the conventions and demands of society, and may request special consideration or privileges.
"...To be a human being among human beings, and remain one forever, no matter what misfortunes befall, not to become depressed, and not to falter - this is what life is, herein lies its task." Fyodor Dostoevsky (to his brother Mikhail, Dec. 22, 1849)
“All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly.
“Do not therefore do injustice to yourselves. Remember one day you will meet Allah and answer your deeds. So beware, do not astray from the path of righteousness after I am gone." Prophet Muhammad, Last Sermon
“Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you can not retain.”
(Persian poet & humanist, born in Shiraz, Iran, c. 1210)
Israel needs to stop being an ideology and start being a nation. A nation of all of its citizens, all with equal national, civil and religious rights.
After 70 years, only partial justice and restoration is possible for the Palestinian people. Whatever constitutional arrangements are arrived at, equality should be the guiding principle at work.
As for Zionism let’s ditch it and move on. 'It’s time to place it in a glass cabinet and put it in a museum in a room marked: ‘Dead Ends & False Messiahs’.
There is no “Judaeo-Christian heritage.”
"The practices under which Jesus was raised in Galilee were anathema to Judaic orthodoxy. One might discern the seedbed of Christianity and the teachings of Jesus within “Galilee of the Gentiles” and why his teachings were regarded with outrage by the Pharisaic priesthood. One can also discern why there has been such a hatred of Christianity and Jesus in the rabbinical teachings of the Talmud and elsewhere.
The phenomenon of such an oddity as “Christian Zionism” is for Zionists and the Orthodox rabbinate (which should not be confounded with Reform Judaism) nothing more than the equivalent of a “shabbez goy,” a Gentile hired by Orthodox Jews to undertake menial tasks on the Sabbath. “Judaeo-Christianity” only exists in the minds of craven Gentiles who embrace delusional creeds, or who wish to further their careers by making the correct noises to the right people.
(Kerry R Bolton, Foreign Policy Journal, May 29, 2018)
"Holism is the most fundamental discovery of 20th century science. It is a discovery of every science from astrophysics to quantum physics to environmental science to psychology to anthropology.
It is the discovery that the entire universe is an integral whole, and that the basic organizational principle of the universe is the field principle: the universe consists of fields within fields, levels of wholeness and integration that mirror in fundamental ways, and integrate with, the ultimate, cosmic whole...." "For many thinkers and religious teachers throughout this history, holism was the dominant thought, and the harmony that it implies has most often been understood to encompass cosmic, civilizational, and personal dimensions. Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Lord Krishna, Lao Tzu, and Confucius all give us visions of transformative harmony, a transformative harmony that derives from a deep relation to the holism of the cosmos."
About political holism
Political holism is based on the recognition that "we" are all members of a single whole. There's no "they," even though "we" are not all alike. Because "we" are all part of the whole, and therefore interdependent, we benefit from cooperating with each other. Political holism is a way of thinking about human cultures and nations as interdependent. Political holists search for solutions other than war to settle international disagreements. Their model of the world is one in which cooperation and negotiation, even with the enemy, even with the weak, promotes political stability more than warfare.
In an overpopulated world with planet-wide environmental problems, the development of weapons of mass destruction has rendered war obsolete as an effective means to resolve disputes.
Political dualists consider political holists unpatriotic for questioning the necessity to defeat "them." In times of impending war, political dualists tend to measure patriotism by the intensity of one's hostility to the country's immediate enemy. Naturally, they would view as disloyalty any suggestion that the enemy is not evil, any call for cooperation with the enemy, any criticism of one's own country.
To political dualists, cooperation with the enemy means capitulation, relinquishment of the nation's position of dominance. At its extreme, political dualism is essentially tribalism. (Betty Craige, 16-8-1997)
Desmond Tutu & Ubuntu
"A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed."
"We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World.
When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity." (Ubuntu info)
China, Russia and India agreed on Wednesday to strengthen trilateral coordination and cooperation to bring more stability and positive energy to the volatile international landscape.
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj reached consensus on a wide range of issues for cooperation when they met in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, on Wednesday. The three countries agreed to firmly uphold multilateralism and the international system with the United Nations at the core, as well as the basic norms of international relations including the principle of noninterference in the domestic affairs of other countries, Wang told reporters at a joint news conference with the other two ministers after their meeting.
They agreed to intensify communication and coordination within the multilateral platforms such as the Group of 20, Asia-Europe Meeting, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS-the association of the five major emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa-to ensure the mechanisms develop in the right direction.
While agreeing to oppose unilateralism and protectionism as well as uphold the rules-based multilateral trading system, Wang said the three countries maintain that fair competition and the principle of nondiscrimination should be upheld in the fields of information technology and cyber security.
In terms of regional and international hot spot issues, Wang said the three countries agreed that inclusive dialogue should be the approach to resolving problems.
The three nations support the efforts of the Afghan government and its people in its peace and reconciliation process, and hope the second meeting between Pyongyang and Washington will make new progress in realizing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as well as resolving legitimate concerns of the parties involved, he said.
Regarding the Venezuela situation, the three countries hold that the issue of the South American country should be resolved by its people through constructive dialogue instead of resorting to violence...
“No party has any interest in a disintegrated, torn Syria in which terrorists and foreign intervention are present." Atef Tarawneh, 28-1-2019
The 29th Conference of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union (AIPU) will kick off on Sunday in Amman, under the theme "Jerusalem is the Eternal Capital of the State of Palestine" and with the participation of the heads of 16 Arab parliaments and representatives of other parliaments. The parliamentary session will see the participation of Syrian People's Assembly Speaker Hammoudeh Sabbagh, who confirmed his participation last month along with a delegation of Syrian lawmakers.
Receiving the Arab parliamentary delegations on Saturday, Lower House Speaker Atef Tarawneh said that the wide participation in the conference shows the trust, stature and prestige that Jordan enjoys among the Arab countries, as the Kingdom has always advocated for the unity of the Arab world, according to a press statement, carried by the Jordan News Agency, Petra.
He added that the APU meets in Amman amidst delicate Arab circumstances and pending issues “that our peoples aspire to solve on the basis of justice and restoration of security and stability to our Arab region”, stressing that achieving such objectives requires scaling up collective Arab efforts and consolidating them with a concrete will to restore the momentum to joint Arab action institutions, of which Arab parliaments represent a key pillar. Tarawneh expressed hope that the conference would strengthen Arab parliamentary cooperation to overcome the challenges facing Arab countries, according to Petra.
He pointed out that the theme of the conference entails Arab parliamentary efforts to restore momentum to the Palestinian cause, stressing that Jordan will continue to exert efforts to support the Palestinians.
Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union(Arab AIPU), founded 21 June 1974, Damascus (Syrian AR). (Previously also referred to as Arab Parliamentary Union) Aims: Strengthen contacts and dialogue among Arab parliaments and Arab parliamentarians in order to coordinate Arab parliamentary activities, uniting them all in common action on various fields and exchanging legislative experience; promote discussion of common Arab causes; enhance democratic concepts and values in Arab countries; coordinate and unify legislation in Arab states; consolidate cooperation among the peoples of the world in the struggle for peace based on justice.
The Blue and White party, led by former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, released its platform for the upcoming elections on Monday morning.
The platform, which was published in Yediot Aharonot, included a pledge to preserve the 'settlement blocs' in Judea and Samaria [occupied West Bank], but did not rule out the possibility that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria [occupied West Bank] will be uprooted.
The concept of a "Palestinian state" did not appear in the platform, but it was written that there will be an effort to seek to realize the political process with the Palestinian Arabs.
The platform states that there will be no unilateral disengagement from Judea and Samaria [occupied West Bank] and that there will be no withdrawal from four strategic areas: the 'settlement blocs, 'the Jordan Valley, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
The terms "two-state solution" and "Palestinian state" are replaced by a call for a "Regional Conference to Promote Separation from the Palestinians."
In addition to party leader Benny Gantz's promise to change the Nationality Law, the Blue and White party plans to enact the "equality law" as a basic law, apart from the National Law or as a remedy for it, in order to emphasize the rights of non-Jewish citizens of Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met at his office in Jerusalem with senior White House adviser and son-in-law to U.S. President Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, Trump Special Representative to International Negotiations Jason D. Greenblatt, and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David M. Friedman (21-6-2017).
The United States will be more isolated in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank after it downgrades its mission to the Palestinians and merges it with its embassy to Israel, according to an official in Ramallah, who claimed "nobody" wants dialogue with Washington now. In October, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the merger in order to improve “efficiency and effectiveness” and said the decision did not represent a change in policy towards the Palestinians. That merger is expected to take place on Monday (march 4, 2019).
But officials in Ramallah say the merger is a continuation of a line of policy decisions that favour Israel over them, moves such as the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem that caused them to cut public contact with their counterparts in Washington in December 2017.
They say the decision to merge the consulate with an embassy under the watch of US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman will damage relations not only with the Palestinians but others too. “It’s a message that we are part of greater Israel,” said a Palestinian official...
“Relations will be really affected. No one wants to talk to them but now nobody wants to talk to them,” the official said. "Not only Arab states, European states. Everyone.”
The official said that representatives to the Palestinians would not engage with the US if it worked out of an embassy to Israel.
Mr Friedman is viewed by Palestinians as a fervent supporter of Israel, having once served as the head of an American organisation that funded projects in the hardline settlement of Beit El in the occupied West Bank.
He was also instrumental in Mr Trump’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem, a contested city where Palestinians seek its eastern sector as its capital of any future sovereign state.
In a statement before the 29th conference of the Arab Parliamentary Union on Sunday, Egypt parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal re-affirmed that the administration of US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel represents a stark violation of international law.
The conference, held on 3 and 4 March in Jordan under the title ‘Jerusalem, The Eternal Capital of the State of Palestine,’ attracted parliamentarians from all over the Arab world.
Abdel-Aal said that the US administration's decision, announced in May 2018, does not have any legal or political impact.
"[East] Jerusalem is a Palestinian city which Israel occupied in 1967 and it represents an integral part of the Palestinian state," said Abdel-Aal, adding that "the occupation of [East] Jerusalem, no matter how long, will never lead to the loss of this occupied city to the Israelis."
"The US administration's decision will never break our will to defend Jerusalem," said Abdel-Aal, adding that "a number of parliamentary committees will be formed to hold tours all over the world to defend the right of Palestinians in having an independent state and having Jerusalem as the unified capital of their state."
Abdel-Aal also condemned the Trump administration’s decision not to give any more money to the UNRWA organisation.
"This administration, which has lost its heart, decided not to give any more money to the UNRWA, which helps Palestinian refugees meet their basic needs," said Abdel-Aal...
Although there are positive signs of reform, just a fifth of Iraqi women are participating in the nation’s workforce, indicating widespread exclusion from economic life, a study by the World Bank has found.
Women’s rights activists are pessimistic about the overall trend. They blame the low rate of employment among Iraqi women on family culture, which often denies them the chance to finish school and enter the workforce.
Many Iraqi women are taken out of school by their parents or by their spouse when they get married. Denied the qualifications needed to find jobs that will give them an independent income, women are unable to exercise their rights... Pakhshan Zangana, Secretary-General of the High Council for Women’s Affairs in Kurdistan Region, told Rudaw English there is very little difference between the Kurdistan Region and Iraq when it comes to women’s employment. Women who do participate in the Kurdistan Region’s workforce are predominantly found in the public sector.
When the new Iraqi cabinet was formed in October last year, it was criticized for not including any women. Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi later appointed a woman to head up the education ministry – although she later resigned following allegations her brother had connections with ISIS. Hanan Fatlawi, head of Will Bloc in the Iraqi parliament, posted a sarcastic tweet on February 27 quipping that Iraqi society “is not patriarchal at all” alongside a photo of an all-male meeting of Iraqi political parties in Baghdad.
Fatlawi is the only woman leading a political party is Iraq. She has criticized “patriarchal” society of Iraq, particularly when it comes of government posts. Iraq’s social conservatism towards women often escalates into harassment and violence. Many female business owners receive threats from extremists. Others have been murdered...
"The U.S. administration came into Iraq: it divided the Iraqi people according to religion, according to their sect, according to their ethnicity. It’s divide and conquer. And now the women are the biggest loser in all of this..."
"Now, by the constitution, there are articles that refer us to the Islamic sharia, when this was not in action in the times of the previous regime.
Under Islamic sharia, women are worth half a man legally and one-quarter of a man socially in a marriage. And we still suffer under this.... Yanar Mohammed)
Yanar Mohammed, whilst not being anti-religion, is a strong believer in secular government. Indeed, Yanar claims that women's equality ‘can only be achieved through secular government because an Islamic government would hurt women’s rights’. WIKIPEDIA
The Revolution and Women in Iraq
by Saddam Hussein, 1981
Education of women is not restricted in our country to the primary stages, nor has women's employment been restricted to minor responsibilities. Iraq's five universities include a large proportion of female students and a number of women have acquired high qualifications in medicine and engineering. Some women are now teaching in the universities. Women in Iraq have also reached high positions in the government and become ministers and directors general. ...
The complete emancipation of women from the ties which held them back in the past, during the ages of despotism and ignorance, is a basic aim of the Party and the Revolution. Women make up one half of society.
Our society will remain backward and in chains unless its women are liberated, enlightened and educated. (Chapter 1)
Strengthening the economic status of women through both legal rights and social conventions is part of the liberation process.
Strengthening and expanding the conditions which prohibit polygamy is also part of that process. The same can be said about limiting divorce with additional restrictions and wider and stricter conditions.
The expansion of education and the provision of equal opportunities for men and women is another move in that direction. More important than anything is the liberation of women through active work and sincere participation in the reconstruction of society... Antifeminist acts and ideas should be extensively condemned by men as well as by women in every section of our people. (Chapter 4).
The Revolution and Women in Iraq was published in 1981 by the Translation and Foreign Languages Publishing House-Baghdad. Rusty Shackleford: "For the people who havn't read `Zabiba and the king` It might come as a surprise, but Saddam always believed in feminism and emancipation of the women."
Former US president Jimmy Carter said he doesn’t think Israeli-Palestinian peace is possible as long as Benjamin Netanyahu is prime minister, since Netanyahu isn’t interested in peace.
The 94-year-old, who is currently on a trip to Israel marking 40 years since the signing of the Israel-Egypt peace accord he brokered, said he’s “not sure” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wants an agreement either. The comments were made in an interview with Israeli journalist Tali Lipkin Shahak...
Taking an apparent jab at US President Donald Trump, he added: “And you don’t have a trusted mediator who can bridge the gap and secure the step-by-step small concessions that are necessary for accommodation.”
Carter said that Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner had sought his advice on the administration’s long-awaited peace plan.
“I have talked to President Trump’s son-in-law about the Middle East and urged him to be aggressive and flexible as well, and to reach out to the Palestinians as well as to the Israelis and the Arab leaders,” he said in the interview. “And he promised me that he would, but I’m not sure that’s been done.”
In his interview, Carter also touched on his thoughts about the peace negotiations he oversaw, commenting that “in the 13 days that we had available, I think we did the best we could.”
The treaty saw Israel remove all its military and civilian presence from the Sinai Peninsula and return it to Egypt, after the territory was conquered during the 1967 Six Day War. But a second part of the Camp David accords, relating to peace between Israel and all its Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians, was never implemented.
“I have always felt that if had I been reelected president, that I could have used my influence to implement both parts of the Camp David accords, but I went out of office and I tried to use my influence then, but president [Ronald] Reagan didn’t have any interest in peace in the Middle East,” Carter said.
The Central Elections Committee decided on Wednesday evening to accept the petition of the Likud and Otzma Yehudit parties and disqualified members of the Balad party from running for the 21st Knesset.
During the hearing, Attorney Itamar Ben Gvir argued in favor of the disqualification of the Balad party and presented a wealth of evidence indicating the party’s support for terrorism and the negation of Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.
17 of the committee members voted in favor of disqualifying Balad and 10 voted against. Representatives of the Blue and White party joined the right-wing parties and voted in favor of disqualifying the party. The decision was made against the opinion of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who recommended not to disqualify the party's candidacy for the Knesset... The Ra’am-Balad party responded angrily to the Central Election Committee's decision.
"The decision to disqualify the Ra’am-Balad list is a political, racist and populist decision aimed at harming the political representation of Arab citizens.
It is clear to us thata panel made up of racist parties that do not want to see Arabs in the Knesset will act to disqualify us. The Ra’am-Balad list is a list that presents a democratic platform and works to promote full equality of rights for all citizens."
"We will work to abolish the authority of the Elections Committee to disqualify lists and candidates, and we will submit a bill on this matter. We will consider filing a petition to the Supreme Court following the decision. It is already clear that there is no legal basis for disqualifying the list, and all the arguments raised in the disqualification requests are not new and were discussed in the past in the Supreme Court and rejected," the party said.
Dr. Dana Blander asserts that Israel's Central Elections Committee is no different than the various Knesset parliamentary committees and is subject to political bias.
As a result, even though its chair is a Supreme Court Justice, its decisions are tainted by partisan interests, and its make-up is inappropriate for the administrative and quasi-judicial functions it performs. This is why there needs to be a basic change in its structure, composition, and working methods.
Balad (a Hebrew acronym for the National Democratic Assembly) was established prior to the elections for the 14th Knesset in 1996. In political terms, Balad is at the far left of the spectrum of Israeli parties, and it champions turning the State of Israel into a "state of all of its citizens."
Balad also supports an Israeli withdrawal from all of the contested territories, advocates granting the right of return to Palestinians in order to solve the refugee problem, and is in favor of the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
The party also works to preserve the national, cultural, and ethnic uniqueness of the Arab minority in Israel, supports the repeal of recognition of the Zionist institutions of the State of Israel, and demands recognition of Israeli Arabs as a national minority. Balad also advocates separation of religion and state in Israel. (IDI info)
Ra'am-Balad is a joint electoral list of two parties: Ra'am and Balad. The two were part of the four-strong alliance of The Joint List which competed in the 2015 elections. Towards the 2019 elections internal conflicts disbanded The Joint List. Just before the deadline for submitting the lists, Ra'am and Balad agreed to run together, mainly in order to minimize the risk of failing to pass the electoral threshold. (IDI info)
Itamar Ben-Gvir, left, with Baruch Marzel, seated on far right and Michael Ben-Ari, standing, outside a police station in Jerusalem in 2010. (Times of Israel)
The chairman of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, Michael Ben Ari, received approval to run for the Knesset from the Central Elections Committee on Wednesday.
Prior to deliberations, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit submitted his opinion to the comittee, stating he was in favor of disqualifying Ben Ari from running for Knesset on the grounds of incitement to racism. Petitioners against Ben Ari included MKs Tamar Zandberg and Esawi Freige from Meretz and Stav Shaffir from the Labor Party.
Zandberg called the decision to approve Ben Ari "embarrassing" and promised her party would petition the High Court. "Moshe Kahlon should take down the photo of Menachem Begin from his billboards in light of his decision to skirt the vote and grant the Kahanists an entry ticket to the Knesset," Zandberg said.
Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman also condemned the decision, writing: "Two racists who seek to execute Kahane's doctrine – who was denunciated from the parliamentary arena – return under the sponsorship of Netanyahu and the blessing of the rest of the right."
MK Yair Lapid, Benny Gantz's ally in the Kahol Lavan political alliance, attacked Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, accusing him of allowing a gang of violent racists to run for Knesset by deciding to absent from the vote. “This is not the sane right, it is not the right at all. If [Menachem] Begin could he would peel himself off Kahlon’s billboards out of shame,” Lapid said.
Rabbi Gilad Kariv, the director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, said the elections committee “has provided a tailwind for racism and incitement, and has failed embarrassingly in implementing the Basic Law for the Knesset.” Ben Ari spoke last, denying that he was racist.
In 2012, the U.S. government refused to issue Ben Ari an entry visa on the grounds that he belongs to a "terrorist organization."
Though the consulate did not specify what group he is suspected of belonging to, Ben Ari said he presumed it is Kach, Rabbi Meir Kahane's former far-right political party that both Israel and America now deem a banned terrorist organization.
"The banding together by the nations of the world against Israel is
the guarantee that their time of destruction is near.." Meir Kahane
The intellectual authors of the Nov. 4, 1995 assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, were the "Jabotinsky's Princes," most prominently Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon, whose rise to power was the direct result of that murder.
The story is graphically detailed in a book by Michael Karpin and Ina Friedman, Murder in the Name of God: The Plot To Kill Yitzhak Rabin (New York: Metropolitan Books, 1998), which was reviewed by Michele Steinberg in EIR, March 8, 2002.
The authors provide an extensively researched report on the network of rabbis who control the Jewish terrorists, and who pronounced a religious death sentence on Oslo peacemaker Rabin...
"As loudspeakers blasted patriotic songs, the crowd began working itself up to a frenzy even before any of the scheduled speakers had begun.... Wild young men in yellow Kach T-shirts carried Meir Kahane's son, Benyamin, on their shoulders.... Supporters of the Likud set Rabin's portrait on fire..."
Aipac 21-3-2016: Trump denounced Obama by saying that “Obama may be the worst thing that ever happened to Israel...” The United Nations? Even worse..."
US President Donald Trump on Friday blasted Democrats and accused them of becoming an “anti-Israel” and “anti-Jewish” party, after the House of Representatives passed a broad resolution that called out bigotry of all kinds without directly condemning Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) over her anti-Israel remarks.
Speaking from the White House lawn before departing for Alabama, the president called Thursday’s House vote a “disgrace.”
“Democrats have become an anti-Israel party. They’ve become an anti-Jewish party,” Trump said, according to Fox News. “I think the vote was a disgrace.” Trump added that most lawmakers would agree that the resolution, which did not mention Omar name, was a disgrace “if you get an honest answer.”
The resolution originally condemned anti-Semitism but was rewritten and its final draft was expanded Thursday afternoon to condemn all forms of bigotry, including white supremacy.
Ilhan Omar recently came under fire after she suggested on Twitter that Republicans were attacking her at the behest of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC. This week she caused another uproar when, at a public event, she appeared to refer to domestic support for Israel as “allegiance to a foreign country”.
Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar ripped former President Barack Obama in an interview published Friday, belittling his “pretty face” and saying his agenda of hope and change was an illusion.
She cited the “caging of kids” at the Mexican border and the “droning of countries around the world” on Obama’s watch — and argued that he wasn’t much different from President Trump
“We can’t be only upset with Trump,” the freshman firebrand told Politico Magazine. “His policies are bad, but many of the people who came before him also had really bad policies. They just were more polished than he was,” Omar said.
“And that’s not what we should be looking for anymore. We don’t want anybody to get away with murder because they are polished. We want to recognize the actual policies that are behind the pretty face and the smile.”
The explosive comments about a man lionized by Democrats were only the latest in a series of incendiary statements that have put the national spotlight on Omar, a Somali-American Muslim who spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya after her family fled the violence in their homeland...
Iraq will not be a military base for a foreign government to attack neighbouring states, the country’s President, Barham Salih, said on Wednesday.
US occupation forces, Baghdad 2003
US President Donald Trump infuriated Iraqi politicians last month by saying that an American presence was needed in Iraq to watch Iran. Washington has around 5,200 troops in Iraq at the request of Baghdad government but their mission is to help combat the threat of ISIS.
“Iraq has often served as a conflict arena for neighbouring country’s interests," Mr Salih said during the sixth annual Sulaimani Forum. Iraq is an ally of both the US and Iran, and its politics are often dominated by efforts to balance relations with the two bitter enemies.
“We don’t want to be part of these conflicts. Iraq is still not a very stable country, and putting an extra political burden on it is unacceptable,” he said. “Do not burden Iraq with your own conflicts,” the president warned.
“Everyone must respect Iraq’s sovereignty,” Mr Salih said during a panel talk at The American University of Iraq. “The victory we achieved against ISIS is important but we must not underestimate the dangers that ISIS still pose. We achieved a military victory and ended the Caliphate but ISIS pockets remain,” Mr Salih warned.
The president added that Iraq was about to undergo major economic transformations, and will begin to emerge from crises," referring to "progress in the field of security and economy and relative political calm."
“From Basra to Baghdad to Sulaymaniyah, Iraqis share the same ambition to live a dignified life with a good government that provides basic services, operates with transparency,” Mr Salih said.
Meanwhile, on a separate panel, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said, that corruption is pervasive in all levels in Iraq. "Only two countries in the world are more corrupt than Iraq," she told the audience...
Turkish-Egyptian ties remain stagnant
Egypt under Sisi prevented Turkey from establishing
the “Sunni bloc” it desired in the Middle East. Semih Idiz, Al-Monitor, 8-3-2019
Prospects for improved relations between Ankara and Cairo appear dimmer than ever following the recent executions of nine men in Egypt for alleged involvement in the assassination of chief prosecutor Hisham Barakat in 2015.
Those executed were reportedly members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has close links to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP).
During a live interview with CNN Turk on Feb. 23, Erdogan condemned the executions and vowed never to speak with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
“I am answering those who ask why Tayyip Erdogan does not meet with Sisi, because there are mediators who come to us from time to time. I will never talk to someone like him,” Erdogan said.
“To start with, he has to declare a general amnesty and release all those in prison,” he added, referring to the scores of Muslim Brotherhood members or supporters incarcerated in Egypt. “If he doesn’t release them we will never talk to Sisi.”
Erdogan also accused the West of turning a blind eye to human rights violations in Egypt, although it rarely missed an opportunity to criticize Turkey in this regard.
During the now all-but-forgotten 'Arab Spring', Ankara was confident its close ties with the Muslim Brotherhood would secure its entry to the Middle East as a game-changing power.
Ankara’s reliance on Arab streets to force undemocratic [secular] regimes to be toppled one by one, and replaced by elected Islamist governments, proved to be the historically flawed premise on which its dreams in the Middle East foundered.
Its mistaken assumptions came to a head with the coup in Egypt. After Morsi’s electoral victory in 2012, Ankara invested most of its regional expectations in Egypt. Egypt, however, ended up being the country that ended these flawed expectations.
While the Egyptian coup dealt the first blow to these expectations, the second blow came when most of the region’s Sunni Arab regimes, starting with Saudi Arabia, supported Sisi’s takeover. The third blow came with the banning of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group by many Arab states, with a few exceptions, like Qatar.
Ankara’s misconceptions have now come home to roost. Turkey is more isolated in the Middle East than it ever was in the past due to its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that most Arab leaders consider to be an existential threat.
This support has also left Ankara facing accusations of backing terrorism. Cairo repeated this accusation in its response to Erdogan’s remarks about Sisi.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said in a statement that Erdogan had shown his hatred for Egypt. He added that Erdogan also “expressed his continued embrace of the terrorist Brotherhood group.”
In an effort to turn the tables on Ankara, Hafez said Turkey has 70,000 political prisoners in addition to imprisoning 175 Turkish journalists. Additionally, around 130,000 government employees have been fired over alleged links to the 2016 coup attempt.
"This narrative illustrates the lack of credibility of what the Turkish president is promoting," Hafez said.
According to political science professor Ilter Turan, from Istanbul’s Bilgi University, Egypt under Sisi prevented Turkey from establishing the “Sunni bloc” it desired in the Middle East. “Erdogan is finding it hard to come to terms with this,” Turan told Al-Monitor...
Underlining that Turkey has no chance of influencing events in Egypt, Turan said, “It is not clear what Turkey has gained from its current policy, but it is evident what it has lost.”
Bilateral ties and situation in Syria topped the agenda at Sergey Lavrov’s talks with high-level officials in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
Russia’s top diplomat just completed his four-day Gulf tour, visiting Kuwait City and Abu Dhabi. Syria was mentioned on many occasions during Lavrov’s Gulf tour, and virtually everywhere journalists were asking the same question: what’s the view of each country on the possibility of Damascus re-joining the Arab League. Foreign Minister of Kuwait Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah, when asked about the matter, was quite optimistic:
“We are calling for Syria’s return to normal life, for Syria’s return into the Arab family. We will be welcoming that and we will be happy if it happens. We welcome Syrians’ participation in political process, in solving the problems which are present, in overcoming the chaos of the past 8 years in their country. Syria plays key role in the region when it comes to security and stability.”
According to UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the country is taking steps to resume dialogue with Damascus, with re-opening of the embassy in an attempt to counter the growing influence of Tehran and Ankara in the war-torn country.
“We in UAE aim for the increase of the Arab countries’ role on the Syrian track. It has to be a political role, a role in restoring security and stability. We didn’t like Damascus’ domestic policies. But today we see the growing influence of Turkey and Iran, and the absence of the Arab nations’ role. We feel that such situation is unacceptable, so, together with our Russian and other colleagues we look for ways to overcome the crisis, to make steps forward, and to make Syria a part of the Arab family, a part of the region.”
Syria was one of the founding members of the Arab League – a regional club currently comprised of 21 nations with a total combined GDP of $6.48 billion. In 2011 Syria’s membership in the League was revoked.
Turkey-Russia joint patrols in Syria's Idlib
will be important step for lasting ceasefire, minister says Daily Sabah, 8-3-2019
Joint patrols carried out by Turkey and Russia in Syria's [rebel-controlled] Idlib will be an important step for the continuation of the ceasefire and ensuring stability, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Friday.
Akar's comments came as Turkish and Russian forces officially started their joint patrols in Syria's Idlib province.
Speaking at Anadolu Agency's Editor's Desk, the minister also announced the lifting of all airspace restrictions in Idlib and Afrin as of March 8. He responded to concerns that Turkey was in direct contact with the Assad regime, saying Ankara was only holding talks with Russia and occasionally with Iran when needed.
On the topic of the proposed safe zone, Akar said it was final that the Turkish military would be deployed to the area along the Syrian border.
The Turkish military began their patrols around the Aleppo-Damascus Highway (M-4 Highway), yesterday, after a violent week inside the Idlib Governorate. According to opposition activists via social media, the Turkish military began their patrols across the Idlib buffer zone on Friday; they would patrol across several important areas, including the town of Saraqib. (Al-Masdar News, 9-3-2019)
Germany will not follow Britain’s lead in declaring Iran-backed Hezbollah a terrorist organisation, a senior official was quoted as saying on Friday, a decision that may fuel tensions with Saudi Arabia and the United States.
Minister of State Niels Annen told weekly news magazine Der Spiegel that the Shi’ite Muslim Islamist movement remained a relevant factor in Lebanese society and the European Union had already added its military wing to a list of proscribed groups in 2013.
Saudi Arabia, the United States and Israel have pressured allies to ban Hezbollah in its entirety. Britain last month said it would ban all wings of Hezbollah for destabilising the Middle East.
Iran and Hezbollah, founded in 1982 by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, are big players in the Syria war allied with President Bashar al-Assad...
Annen, who spoke to Spiegel after a visit to Lebanon, said Germany was interested in Lebanese stability and Britain’s decision would have no direct impact on the position of Germany or the European Union.
Annen rejected U.S. criticism his nation was doing too little to combat Iran’s influence in the region and said Berlin’s foreign policy remained focused on finding political solutions even in tough situations.
ALEPPO, Syria - On the domed roof of a historical market in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, architect Bassel al-Daher moves between workers painstakingly working to erase the scars of war.
Men wearing vests and helmets repair parts of the roof still bearing visible traces of the four-year-long battle for the former rebel stronghold. They cover its charred surface with a fresh coat of white paint as part of a wider effort to rehabilitate the Saqatiya market, or souk in Arabic.
Located in the old quarters of Syria's second city, the market dates back to the Ottoman period.
"I feel like I'm redrawing history by restoring this souk," says Daher, 42, one of six architects overseeing its revival as the country's conflict marks its eighth year next week. "For me, it's the project of a lifetime." The Saqatiya souk covers an area of more than 1,500 square metres and used to house more than 50 shops before Syria's conflict landed in Aleppo in 2012.
The celebrated citadel, a jewel of medieval architecture whose surrounding wall was damaged by a blast in July 2015, is visible from the market's roof. The Umayyad mosque, an ancient site that dates back to the 11th century, is within walking distance. Clashes in April 2013 reduced the mosque's minaret to an unrecognisable pile of blocks. UNESCO estimates that as much as 60 percent of the Old City was severely damaged.
Restoration works began on November 1 after Syrian authorities signed a partnership agreement with the Aga Khan Foundation in Syria.
Renovations are expected to be completed in July, according to Daher. Workers are focusing on erasing all "signs of war" from the market and correct old construction violations. "The broader aim is to bring merchants back to their shops," he says.
Saqatiya market is one of around 37 souks surrounding the Aleppo citadel, the oldest of their kind in the world. For centuries, they were the commercial heart of the ancient city and served as a key trading hub between the East and the West, says Alaa al-Sayyed, a historian and specialist on the Old City.
The expert, who is also overseeing the restoration, says "they are more than 2,000 years old." Over two millennia, they have weathered numerous earthquakes and conquests, but "every time they were rebuilt," he says.
The Russian and Turkish forces met in the northern city of ‘Azaz on Sunday to discuss the reopening of the imperative Aleppo-Gaziantep Highway.
According to a military source in Aleppo city, the Russian and Turkish delegations discussed removing all of the rebel checkpoints across the Aleppo-Gaziantep Highway in order to allow their forces to begin patrolling the area. By removing the rebel checkpoints along the Aleppo-Gaziantep Highway, the Russian and Turkish forces could start to regulate traffic and preserve the security of the people driving through this roadway.
Furthermore, the Turkish forces met with the opposition forces in northern Aleppo to discuss having them to remove their checkpoints and barriers around the highway.
In turn, the Russian military agreed to remove their mines and checkpoints along the roadway from Aleppo to Tal Rifa’at. If the Aleppo-Gaziantep Highway is reopened, this would be a major boost for the Syrian economy because it will allow residents to once again resume trade and commerce in Turkey.
At a conference in Brussels Lebanon will present the same plan it presented two years ago to alleviate its refugee burden. The plan aims to help 1.5 million Lebanese, 1.5 million Syrian refugees and more than 208,000 Palestinian refugees.
“After eight years of war, Syrian refugees have become increasingly exhausted, and 70 percent of them are in poverty,” Nasser Yassin, director of research at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, said.
Nadim Munla, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s adviser on refugees, said the country “can no longer bear the burden of the crisis. It’s no longer a humanitarian crisis. It’s now threatening Lebanon’s growth and stability.” George Ghali, executive director of the ALEF human rights organization in Lebanon, said: “The resettlement program for Syrian refugees in Western countries lost some momentum in recent years … This clearly reflects the international community’s attempt to evade its responsibilities toward host countries.”
“The Syrian regime’s allies and the international community must pressure it to facilitate the return process through a number of measures to reflect its good intentions,” said Lebanese Minister of Social Affairs Richard Kouyoumjian. He added that “90 percent of the refugees in Lebanon want to go back. We’d agreed on technical coordination with Syria to facilitate the journey of those wishing to return.”
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said: “The refugees need to be assured that they’ll have a safe, secure and decent return. They’ve voiced concerns about five main areas, including safety, housing, access to services, legal issues and job opportunities.”
He added: “The commission is working in Syria to remove obstacles hampering refugees’ return, through a number of measures such as reconstructing schools and providing basic humanitarian assistance to allow reintegration.”
Grandi said: “The Syrian government has a significant role in ensuring suitable conditions.” He added that “165,000 refugees have already returned to their country.”
It’s happened before in Israeli elections: A minor party, in the right place at the right time, becomes the party of choice for those who are sick and tired of the status quo.
And if two new polls are accurate, 2019’s protest darling for the April 9 election appears to be Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut — a party whose platform is a grab bag of disparate elements that range from out-of-the-box to the extremist fringe. In Zehut, Feiglin combines libertarian, extreme free-market sentiments with a religious settler ethos: A vision you could call “a biblical Wild West in the Middle East,” one that believes the state should not use its power to “impose values, viewpoints and lifestyle on society and the individuals that comprise it.”
He aspires to strip government down to its barest bones and calls for a flat tax, in classic libertarian style. But while he doesn’t like big government, Feiglin does believe in one fearless leader: God.
The recently launched Zehut platform opens with the declaration that “It is not possible to repair the seemingly simple and practical problems of the State of Israel without leadership that believes in the G-d of Israel and turns to Him.”
Zehut leaders express confidence that when Israelis “adopt their true identity and stop seeing themselves as an occupying force in their own country, the rest of the world will leave the conflict behind and accept our legal sovereignty.”
The most potentially incendiary — and logistically complicated — part of Feiglin’s platform involves Jerusalem.
His party advocates moving the entire Israeli government complex from the western part of the city to the east, placing the Knesset and Supreme Court inside “the Old City in the areas adjacent to the Temple Mount,” which the party calls “the beating heart of the entire nation.”
Zehut aspires to build a synagogue on the Temple Mount and give authority over the site to the Chief Rabbinate, in order “to regulate the ascent and prayer of the Jews on the Mount within the framework of Jewish law.” When it comes to foreign policy, Zehut says Israel “must use technological means to eliminate the enemy’s leaders and thereby create real deterrence. This is according to the Jewish principle: ‘He who comes to kill you, kill him first.’”
Feiglin website: The Essential Question: Is Israel a State of Jews – or a Jewish State?
Until now Israel has been a state of the Jews. It is vital to our future to transform Israel into a Jewish state. Israel’s elected officials must lead the country with policies based exclusively on Jewish identity, values and ethics.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has arrived in Baghdad on a trip that is aimed at solidifying strategic ties despite US efforts to keep the two neighbors apart and curb Iran's influence in the region.
The trip, described as "historic and noble" by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, has been viewed by experts as Iran's response to US President Donald Trump's snap trip to Iraq in December.
Trump slipped into Iraq on Christmas and spent most of his short visit outlining how he wanted to keep US troops in the Arab country in order to "watch" Iran with which Iraq shares a 1,400-kilometer-long border.
The unannounced visit drew fire from Iraqi officials and regional leaders, including President Rouhani, who said the secret visit - as if to a US state - undermined Baghdad’s sovereignty.
Unlike Trump, who had to land in a military base in the dark of the night with no Iraqi officials on hand to welcome him, Rouhani touched down in Baghdad in broad daylight and was received by high-ranking authorities.
donald trump in iraq
Reacting to Trump's secret visit, Rouhani asserted that flying into Iraq under the cover of darkness meant "defeat" for the US in Iraq and asked the US president why he did not opt for an "open and official visit" instead.
The Iranian president told reporters in Tehran before departure on Monday that ties between Iran and Iraq were nothing like the relations between Baghdad and the “occupying” American forces.
“The US is despised in the region; the bombs they dropped on the people of Iraq, Syria and other countries are not forgettable and at the same time, Iran’s brotherhood towards countries of the region will always be remembered,” he said...
Rouhani told reporters on Monday morning that the trip was aimed at enhancing security cooperation while also focusing on trade, roads and environment to broaden the close relationship.
Iran is currently Iraq's top trade partner, with an annual turnover of about $13 billion, which they hope to increase to $20 billion. Some 5 million religious tourists generate nearly $5 billion a year as Iraqis and Iranians visit Shia holy sites in both countries. Foodstuff, livestock, construction material and plastic products constitute the bulk of Iran’s exports to Iraq.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, Baghdad 2019
As economic interdependence is growing between Iran and Iraq, private companies are being given the pivotal role to nurture increasingly powerful and mutually beneficial relations between the two important neighbors.
A delegation of 32 business people is tagging along as President Hassan Rouhani is currently visiting Iraq to shore up ebullient trade partnership against US subterfuge.
The private sector provides the wiggle room for both countries to navigate the complex maze of US sanctions imposed on Iran after President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic in May. For their run-of-the-mill maintenance, Iraqis depend on Iranian companies for everything from food to machinery, to electricity, natural gas, fruits and vegetables.
Iraq’s infrastructure has been destroyed in 30 years of wars, mostly after the US invasion which saw the bulk of the highly-skilled human force leave the country.
Iran offers an invaluable pool of human capital, services and resources which are literally within a walking distance from the Iraqi border.
Hence, choking such a vital source is as much damaging - if not worse - to Iraq as it is to Iran, explaining President Barham Salih’s declaration that Iraq’s interests lie in maintaining very good relations with Iran.
“I deliberately repeat this sentence several times. We Iraqis have an interest in strengthening these relations with Iran, and we must see them as a main issue among all our regional relationships,” he said Monday, with Rouhani on his side.
The leaders of the two countries oversaw the signing of several trade deals on oil, trade, health, and a railway linking the southern Iraqi oil city of Basra and the Iranian border town of Shalamcheh... Banking issues are a top priority of Rouhani’s visit, with Hosseini saying they had been ironed out and trade exchanges had improved and stabilized.
Last month, Iran’s Central Bank governor Abdulnaser Hemmati and his Iraqi counterpart signed an agreement to develop a payment mechanism for euro and dinar-based transactions to facilitate banking between the two countries.
Likud officials are reporting that during a Monday meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argued in favor of continuing to allow funding to be transferred to Hamas, arguing that it is the best way to keep the Palestinians divided.
This seems to fall neatly into the category of Israeli policies that have fairly obviously been in place, but which officials don’t publicly talk about. With the election looming, Netanyahu is increasingly frank about his efforts to undercut Palestinian statehood, and his conviction that Israeli is not a state for all of its people, but only for Jews.
Netanyahu explained that, in the past, the PA transferred the millions of dollars to Hamas in Gaza. He argued that it was better for Israel to serve as the pipeline to ensure the funds don’t go to terrorism. “Now that we are supervising, we know it’s going to humanitarian causes,” the source said, paraphrasing Netanyahu.
The prime minister also said that whoever is against a Palestinian state should be for transferring the funds to Gaza, because maintaining a separation between the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza helps prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. (Jerusalem Post, 12-3-2019)
qatar-qaradawi 2012, muslim brotherhood suporters
Indeed, Netanyahu argued in this case that those opposed to Palestinian statehood should be in favor of continuing to fund Hamas, as it keeps them and the Palestinian Authority divided. This division is often cited by Israel as a reason Palestine can’t exist. Palestinian division is not something Israel just sort of favors, but rather something that’s been pursued as formal policy for decades.
Indeed, the early groundwork in founding Hamas was heavily lain by Israel themselves, with an eye toward splitting the Palestinians along secularist and Islamist lines.
This is a major reason why every international attempt at Palestinian unity, and talk of a Hamas-Fatah rapprochement with free elections in the occupied territories is met with Israeli opposition. It’s not, as officials would claim, that Hamas is untrustworthy. Rather, it is that if Hamas is part of a united Palestine, they aren’t doing the job Israel created them for.
It is said that Hamas was created by Israel. Is that true? Uri Avnery: Israel did not "create" Hamas, but it certainly helped it along in its initial stages.
During the first 20 years of the occupation, the Israeli leadership saw the PLO as its chief enemy. That's why it favored Palestinian organizations that, it was thought, could undermine the PLO. One example of this was Ariel Sharon's ludicrous attempt to set up Arab "village leagues" that would act as agents of the occupation.
The Israeli intelligence community, which in the last 60 years has failed almost every time in forecasting events in the Arab world, also failed this time. They believed that the emergence of an Islamic organization would weaken the secular PLO. (Gush Shalom, 1-3-2008)
Gantz: "We won’t allow Iran to become a regional power"
Blue and White party chairman Benny Gantz avoided endorsing a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians in a meeting with European envoys, and expressed hardline views toward Iran and the Gaza Strip.
Gantz met with European Union ambassadors in Israel “to hear his vision on EU-IL relations, Israel’s security and regional issues,” the EU’s Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret tweeted. In his conversation with the EU ambassadors, Gantz did not explicitly endorse a two-state solution, but indicated that both Israelis and Palestinians “are here to stay” and that an arrangement needs to be found, a participant in the meeting told The Times of Israel.
The candidate for prime minister also said that regarding Iran, he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are “on the same page.”
“We won’t allow Iran to become a regional power, we will continue supporting the sidelining of its negative impact and of its efforts to undermine regional stability, and we will prevent it from developing nuclear military capabilities,” Gantz said. “Israel cannot allow a nuclear Iran. If we can use diplomacy we will do so, but I won’t rule out other options.”
He also expressed similar views to Netanyahu on the fate of the Gaza Strip and its rulers..
“Hamas is a gang holding two million people hostage,” he said. “Do you think if they have a maritime port, all they import will be orange juice? That they want economic development? The responsibility for the future of Gaza is in the hands of Hamas, not Israel.”
Military officers, both in and out of uniform, have played an outsized role in every aspect of Israeli life...
The latest example of the effort to spin military leadership into political gold is the creation of “Blue and White,” a coalition headed by a former chief of staff, Benny Gantz, who retired from the military in 2015.
Gantz is winning public support less because of his political program, which in Gantz’s case is on the right side of anodyne, than of what he represents: the responsible stewardship of Israel’s military prowess in its never-ending battle against the Arabs... Though they are increasingly fewer in number, there are Israelis who still favor a retreat from the West Bank and the creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. On this, Blue and White is definitely not their party.
Indeed, one party leader described the movement as the new Likud. Bottom line: a vote for Gantz is not a vote against the program of the long-ruling Likud, but merely against Netanyahu’s leadership of it.
Joining Gantz are two other ex-chiefs of staff in the military troika at the head of the new faction, Gabi Ashkenazi and Moshe Ya’alon. Ya’alon was an undisguised opponent of Secretary of State John Kerry’s negotiating effort, calling Kerry “delusional.” Ashkenazi’s sympathies are less hard-edged. In Israel today, this translates into support for what used to be viewed as a right-wing national security agenda.
Earlier this week, Gantz led a train of ex-military, intelligence, and security leaders, including former Mossad and Shabak (internal security) bosses, and the three other ex-chiefs of staff on the party list, to the Golan Heights.
“We will increase the settlement of the Golan in a way that shows the world clearly—we will not come down from the Golan; the opposite — it will be developed and [its population] doubled,” Gantz said.
The Syrian government has lashed out at Senator Lindsey Graham, who said that the Golan Heights should remain Israel’s territory while taking a tour of the disputed region with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Monday.
“These statements [by Senator Lindsay Graham] show the arrogant mentality of the US administration, and that it views regional issues with Zionist eyes in a way which serves Israeli interests”, SANA quoted an unnamed official in the Syrian Foreign Ministry as saying.
The official went on to say that Graham’s remarks showed his ignorance of history and geography, as well as demonstrated Washington’s disregard for international law.
“All United Nations resolutions – particularly Security Council Resolution 497, adopted unanimously on 17 December 1981, affirm the legal status of the Syrian Golan as occupied territory, and declares Israel’s annexation of it as null and void”, the insider added... Israel seized the Golan Heights from neighbouring Syria following the 1967 Six-Day War, but it was in 1981 when Tel Aviv formally passed legislation annexing the area.
The law, however, failed to receive international support: the decision was slammed by the United Nations as illegal, the United States refused to recognise it as well.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan slammed Wednesday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his remarks on social media targeting himself, saying that Turkey will resume its efforts to secure the rights of the Palestinian people and the status of Jerusalem.
"Instead of preventing the oppression of Muslims, Israel's prime minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] is targeting me as a sort of 'investment' for the upcoming elections (on April 9).
"We will continue our fight for the rights of Palestinians and the administration of Jerusalem in line with the weight it carries for the Muslim world until our last breath," he added.
The complex — and mostly sour — relations between the longtime Turkish and Israeli leaders were once again strained as Netanyahu called Erdoğan a "dictator" in a tweet on his official account Tuesday.
Earlier on Wednesday, Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalın said Netanyahu attacked Erdoğan for "exposing the Israeli leader's racist remarks toward Arabs and Muslims."
"The apartheid state he leads occupies Palestinian lands, kills women, children, and imprisons Palestinians in their own land," Kalın said. "Lies and pressure will not hide your crimes," he added.
Al-Monitor speaks with Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani about Iraqi Kurdistan's relationship with Baghdad, trade with Iran and why Turkey must negotiate with the PKK.
- Al-Monitor: Iran is a very influential player in Iraq, would you agree?
- Barzani: For sure Iran has an important role in Iraq. Relations between Iran and Iraq cannot be reduced to simple bilateral ties. Iran and Iraq have a very long common border. Relations between the two countries are complex and multilayered.
There are religious dynamics, social dynamics and trade. Around 45% of Iraq’s electricity comes from Iran. Trade between Iran and Iraq is about $11 billion.
- Al-Monitor: What do you do when the president of the United States tells you to stop that trade? Doesn’t that place you in a very awkward position? Is the KRG formulating its own policy on this or is it coordinating with Baghdad?
- Barzani: There is a great deal of cooperation with Baghdad on this issue. Baghdad says there needs to be certain exemptions on certain items, for instance on the electrical supply and the natural gas that is purchased from Iran. The formula for this is that payments for these services should be made in Iraqi dinars rather than in dollars. Iran has agreed to this formula. And we consider the decisions made by Baghdad to be binding in this regard.
- Al-Monitor: Your other big, important neighbor is Turkey and they too were fiercely opposed to the referendum.
Turkey seems to be much more active militarily here now, attacking the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) with airstrikes and causing civilian deaths... As future president, are you interested in trying to help revive peace talks between Turkey and the PKK?
- Barzani: I have always said this very openly and explicitly, the PKK is providing the pretext for Turkish intervention. We cannot accept that the Kurdistan region is used as a safe haven for such groups to operate against our neighbors. So we need to recognize Turkey’s legitimate security concerns. However, this situation has persisted for quite some time. It's clear that a purely military solution will not provide a lasting solution. At the end of the day, there needs to be dialogue.
- Al-Monitor: And you continue to believe that dialogue, peace talks have to happen with this group, the PKK? Because President Erdogan appears to have ruled out any further talks with them and talks of engaging with other “non-terrorist” Kurds.
- Barzani: If the aim is to resolve this issue fully, this groups need to be engaged.
- Al-Monitor: But in the meantime the Americans are trying, supposedly, to separate the PKK from their partners in Syria, the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and its political arm, the Democratic Union Party (PYD). They are trying to get both of these Syrian Kurdish groups to disavow and sever all ties with the PKK leadership in the Qandil Mountains and to persuade the Turks that they can get along with the Kurds in Syria and all live together happily ever after. Is this realistic?
- Barzani: I don’t believe so. The Kurdish forces currently dominating northeastern Syria have strong links and ties with the PKK and all their instructions, orders are being given by Qandil.
- Al-Monitor: What is your advice to the Syrian Kurds? Should they be talking to the Syrian regime?
- Barzani: I believe the Kurds of Syria should try to find a solution within the framework of a united Syria. They should be engaging in dialogue and negotiations with the regime.
- Al-Monitor: They should ignore the Americans who are telling them not to do that?
- Barzani: It's not a matter of ignoring the Americans. The Americans said their presence in Syria was related to defeating the Islamic State. That was the original purpose for their intervention. The reality is that the regime is still there and that the Kurds of Syria should be talking with the regime in order to gain certain rights.
- Al-Monitor: Is President Bashar al-Assad prepared to give them any rights? The PYD and YPG leaders I spoke to say no.
- Barzani: Currently the regime feels that it has the upper hand, but the reality is that there is still a lot of instability in Syria. The minute the government regains sovereignty over all of Syria there will be more stability and the regime will feel confident enough to give the Kurds their rights. The regime will need to deal with the reality that the Kurds are there, that they exist and they have power, they control territories and they have to find the way to solve their problems with the Kurds.
- Al-Monitor: Given the level of distrust between the sides, who can be the guarantor of any deal between the Kurds and the regime? Is there a role for you to play?
- Barzani: For us to a lesser extent, we are ready to step up to the plate. But this role can be played even more effectively by the Russians. It's important for all of us to have a stable neighbor such as Syria, but it's especially important for Russia. They are very clear on this point. Their strategy is geared toward securing a stable Syria. They can be key players in negotiating a settlement between the Kurds and the regime.
- Al-Monitor: The Russians are becoming rather influential players here in Iraqi Kurdistan, as well with Rosneft buying a majority stake in the oil pipeline to Turkey.
- Barzani: In economic terms, we do enjoy good relations with the Russians and they have invested a substantial sum of money here and they will continue to do so, OK? We are in the process of expanding ties.
- Al-Monitor: And the Americans aren’t upset?
- Barzani: Our ties with Russia are in the private sector. They are ready to invest and it's of benefit to us.
- Al-Monitor: Getting back to Syria, some of the Kurdish officials I spoke to in Syria agreed with you, saying their relationship with the Americans had been beneficial, but that, at this point, the benefits were beginning to be outweighed by the costs.
- Barzani: Yes, the problem derives from the fact that the United States has never been very clear about its strategy, its policy in Syria. And this is why the Kurds will probably not wait for too long and they recognize the American presence for what it is, a temporary one.
- Al-Monitor: The fear, though, is that once the Americans pull out, Turkey will intervene militarily against the YPG in Syria. This may have consequences for the KRG, too, with a fresh influx of Syrian Kurdish refugees fleeing Turkish forces.
- Barzani: Turkey’s security concerns are legitimate and need to be taken very seriously. But having a large Turkish military presence in that region will not provide any solutions. I believe our Kurdish brothers in Syria have behaved negatively toward Turkey.
If you look at the background, at the start, Turkish policy was not anti-Kurd in Syria. Their concern was about the PKK and, sadly, our Kurdish brothers in Syria did not hesitate to provoke Turkey on this particular issue.
The Turks were prepared to open the border crossing with the PYD, but on the sole condition that they remove the PKK flag, that was back in 2014.
And get this, even when we, the KRG, were not enjoying good relations with the PYD [and its former co-chair] Saleh Muslim, the Turks offered to mediate between us and the PYD to improve our ties..
In response the PYD did the opposite and went to every extreme to provoke the Turks.
US forces based in Kuwait have recently received new equipment that will significantly upgrade their ability to respond to any threats to the region, experts told Al-Mashareq.
Kuwait’s strategic location makes it a gateway to the Gulf and a deterrent to potential threats from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The equipment, known as the Enduring Equipment Sets (E2S), gives these forces the upper hand in the event of an attack or emergency situation as it maximises warfighting capabilities, the experts said.
"E2S gives us the ability to execute our day to day mission sets, thus retaining pre-positioned stocks to deter malign regional actors who might consider launching an attack on our partners as well," said Lt. Col. Jack Joubert, the logistics officer for the US Forces based in Kuwait.
In early March, thousands of pieces of large equipment, including tanks, armoured fighting vehicles and Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles for the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, arrived in Kuwait.
With this significant increase in specialised military vehicles, the US Army's Task Force Spartan is now better equipped to support its military partners in the Gulf and Middle East.
Task Force Spartan maintains a US military presence in the Middle East and Gulf through Operation Spartan Shield that seeks to strengthen regional defence relationships.
"The new logistical support received by US forces stationed in military bases in Kuwait represents a paradigm shift for the US military presence in Kuwait and the region," said Kuwait Army Infantry officer Lt. Col. Nasser Rashed.
The new equipment "provides an enormous strategic reserve for combat squads in the event of engagement, ensuring they would not deplete their main stockpile", said Rashed.
Strengthening the capabilities of US forces in Kuwait and providing them with new equipment improves Gulf security as well as that of Kuwait, said Col. Rashid Mohammed al-Marri, formerly of the Dubai Police Anti-Narcotics Department. Thousands of troops from various US military units are stationed at several bases in Kuwait, al-Marri said..
Increasing the capability of US military units stationed in Kuwait "sends a strong message from the US to anyone who contemplates threatening the security of the Gulf by land, sea or air", said military expert Abdul Karim Ahmed. By having E2S delivered to US forces stationed in the region, this demonstrates the commitment of the US to the region.
Syria on Friday accused donors who pledged aid to help its citizens displaced by the country's eight-year war of "hypocrisy" as they continue to impose sanctions on the regime.
International donors -- led by the European Union -- meeting on Thursday in Brussels pledged nearly $7 billion in aid for 2019 for civilians caught up in the conflict.
But European powers stressed progress on a UN-led peace process must come before they release funds to rebuild Syria -- though they no longer insist President Bashar al-Assad must go.
"The hypocrisy of the discourse of the officials of some countries taking part in the Brussels conference is both laughable and angering," a source at the foreign ministry said. EU sanctions have deprived "the European Union of any credibility when it speaks about helping Syrians and alleviating their suffering," state news agency SANA quoted the source as saying.
The source criticised what it called the "deliberate and systematic politicisation of the humanitarian issue and attempts to use it through conferences like these to continue to exert pressure on Syria and compound the crisis." It slammed the conference for not inviting the Damascus government, calling it the "main concerned party" in the matter.
Since late 2011, the 28-member bloc has imposed sanctions on 277 Syrian officials including Damascus ministers over their role in the "violent repression" of civilians.
It has frozen the assets of some 72 entities and introduced an embargo on Syrian oil, investment restrictions and a freeze on Syrian central bank assets within the European Union.
The United States has also imposed a flurry of sanctions against Syrian officials, and had worked to hamper oil shipping to Syria. Damascus says the sanctions have contributed to a fuel crisis in the country, which on Friday marked the eighth anniversary of its civil war.
No official representatives of Syria were invited to the conference.
Germany, France and the Netherlands are forthright in defending a policy of withholding reconstruction money until a transition away from Assad is underway.
But Italy, Austria and Hungary, all fierce critics of European immigration policy, favour talking to Syrian authorities to allow millions of refugees to go home. (euractiv.com, 14-3-2019)
UN Special Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame’s meeting last week with former speaker of the Tripoli-based High Council of State (HCS) Abdel-Rahman Al-Sweihli raises numerous questions...
The Salame-Sweihli meeting is all the more curious given Sweihli’s repute as the godfather of the Islamist militias in western Libya..
Al-Sweilih was the head of the Misrata militias. Misrata’s militias were a crucial component in the downfall of Gaddafi and are still one of the two most relevant military forces in the country. Many Misratan leaders back the Islamists in Congress.
To shouts of 'Allahu akbar', and with the sounds of assault rifle fire in the background, Misrata rebels manhandle the profusely bleeding Gaddafi across a patch of wasteland.. (october 2011)
Analysts observed that the meeting also coincided with a large exodus of militia members with their families from Tripoli’s Mitiga airport to Turkey during the past two weeks, against the backdrop of the LNA’s success in securing the south and its looming advance towards Tripoli in response to mounting popular calls for the army to free the capital from the tyranny of the militias.
Analysts believe that the meeting between the UN special representative and Sweihli, who is close to Qatar, was meant to reassure the fleeing militia members that Sweihli and other leaders of militant Islamism are still present, strong and influential.
Political analyst Gamal Shalof was surprised by the meeting between Salame and Sweihli. “Is it a bid to force us to accept a new reality on the ground in advance of the National Conference?”
“Salame insists on giving Sweihli a role despite the fact that he has no official capacity, planting him and his aide in the forthcoming process,” Shalof said.
HCS President Khaled Al-Mishri’s meeting with the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, in Doha on Monday 4 March was another event that conveyed messages at a time when the LNA is readying for operations to secure control over the rest of Libyan territory, including the capital.
Its main message was that Qatar is still in the picture and ready to lend a hand to radical Islamist groups and their militias in western Libya..
According to Libyan press reports, the Libyan chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood held a meeting in Qatar attended by the former mufti Al-Ghariani, Ali Al-Salabi and other Islamist leaders in order to discuss the situation back home and to finalise a proposal to be put to the National Conference.
Analysts hold that the proposal is consistent with the views and methods of the Islamist movement which will use whatever means come to hand when elections fail to bring it to power.
Meanwhile, Libya’s neighbours are continuing their efforts to promote the restoration of stability and security in Libya.
Cairo last week hosted a meeting of the foreign ministers of Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia..
In a joint press conference following their meeting, the three foreign ministers reaffirmed their countries’ commitment to supporting Libya at this precarious phase in its history, to helping the Libyan people in their quest to build an independent state with unified national institutions, and to promoting national reconciliation so as to revive security and stability throughout the country.
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