Saturday 20 September 2014

Her name is Tune

Listen to Nagham reading her poems

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 23.22.38
Two awe-inspiring poems by child poet Nagham Sami El-Yaziji(her names means Tune)
Translation (by Nahida Exiled)
Peace be with you, mercy and blessings
I am poet Nagham Sami El-Yazji
From Gaza,
But my native city is Yaffa
God willing, we will return to Yaffa
* * *
First poem (recited in Palestinian dialect)
I am eight
EIGHT years of bombing and destruction,
Fear and dispossession
I survived three wars
THREE wars
Each is more horrific than the previous
* * *
Is there a little girl, in this entire universe
who ever lived three wars, in such a brief age?
I was asleep, in the arms of mama and baba
Safe, tranquil and serene
Suddenly, they bombed our home
Our home is destroyed
My family were martyred
Mama died
Baba died
* * *
At night, who will embrace me when I hear the bombing?
Who will buy me Ramadan’s lantern?
Who will buy me Eid clothes?
* * *
I don’t want anything from you
I don’t want food, clothes or toys
All I want is safety, tranquility and peace
I want my family
I want my home, my beautiful memories
I want to sleep in serenity, wake up in serenity and play free
O world
Is that too much to ask?
Is that too much for me, a Palestinian child, to ask?
Nagham reads her second poem in Classical arabic
I am Naghamu
I am a child
The nectar of my dreams infuses my lungs with life
Love runs in my veins
I embroider my tears in my heart
A dress of sorrow
Swathing me with light of dawn
I am a child
I am Naghamu
* * *
People say, my name is a tune
People say, I am a song, soft and delightful
They didn’t know that phosphorus bombs have ignited our calm nights
They didn’t know that the bombing has created my first revolution
The revolution of my exiled father
The revolution of my childless grandmother
The revolution of our budding childhood
The revolution of our traumatised home
The revolution of our usurped neighbourhood
The revolution of our parched blood
* * *
What is my name?
What is the meaning of my name?
The relevance of my name?
When a nightmare is crushing my lungs
Without food, without a home, without a name
Without hope, without love, without a dream
* * *
What is my sin?
What is my sin? answer me
I, what did I… do?
What did I do?
* * *
Did I commit a crime for loving this universe, O mama?
Is my crime that I fell in love with this universe for a moment, mama?
I don’t adore it any more
How can I adore it without mama, without Muna, without Huda, without Rami?
I am Naghamu
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Assad to UN Envoy: There Won’t Be Geneva III, Talks with Opp. Only in Damascus

Local Editor

Assad-Staffan de Mistura Well-informed Western sources reported that the Syrian President Bashar al-assad told UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura that there will be no  Geneva III, asserting that Damascus will be the only place to host any talks with the opposition forces if they decide to hold negotiations.

The sources added that Staffan de Mistura did not launch any initiative during his visit to Damascus in the shade of the US insistence on holding Geneva III and the Russian rejection for the "wasting-time" conferences.

Source: Al-Manar Website
20-09-2014 - 18:13 Last updated 20-09-2014 - 8:13

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Iraq and Syria: “Coalition of the Guilty”, ISIS and the Project for a New Middle East

The US is creating an alliance to end the pandemonium in Iraq and Syria. What America has assembled is a “coalition of the guilty”, the same players that created the forces menacing Iraq and Syria, and hides America’s role creating the disorder.
On September 15, 2014, a conference took place in France about the violence in Iraq. The forthright aim of the Paris conference was to convene a broad coalition to tackle the crisis in Iraq. Just as important, because of the cross-border nature of the crisis, the fighting in Syria was also part of the discussions in Paris.
This whole coalition-building process is a disingenuous deception. Two of the major regional players, which are at the forefront of fighting the cross-border insurgencies in Syria and Iraq, did not even attend the gathering. Syria was not present at the conference, because it was not invited. The Iranians were not present in Paris either.
The best thing that the world can do is to prevent the governments in Washington, Paris, and London from get involved any further in the debacle.
Were the above governments not the very same authorities that helped form, train, arm, and finance the same groups inside Syria that they now say they want to fight there and in Iraq?
Were the head choppers, cannibals, rapists, and criminals that are trying to fragment Iraq and Syria—whatever you want to call them: Al-Qaeda/Al-Nusra/ISIL/ISIS/DAISH/IS/DI—not trained by the US and its allies in places like Jordan and Turkey?

Terror Made in the USA

For the most part, the whole world knows that the occupiers of Mosul and the ridiculous pseudo-caliphate that they have carved out with blood and bullets in northwestern Iraq and northeastern Syria are the same anti-government forces that are fighting inside both Syria and Iraq. These fighters are the same foreign-supported forces that the US, Britain, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Israel have been propping up against the Syrians since 2011 as part of their bid for regime change in Damascus.
But they say that the US and its cohorts are now at war with these same fighters in Iraq. Yet, they still support them in Syria!
How can you claim to fight them in Iraq, but support them in Syria? Which is it? Do you support them or oppose them?
Iraqi President Faud Masum (L) listens while French President Francois Hollande speaks during the International Conference on Peace and Security in Iraq at the Quai d’Orsay on September 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (AFP Photo / Brendan Smialowski)
Iraqi President Faud Masum (L) listens while French President Francois Hollande speaks during the International Conference on Peace and Security in Iraq at the Quai d’Orsay on September 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (AFP Photo / Brendan Smialowski)
They point out that Washington and a “coalition of the willing” are mobilizing and preparing to bomb these fighters inside Syria. Is that so?
It is odd, but when these ISIL fighters announced the creation of their pseudo-caliphate in Mosul, the US took the opportunity to publicly announce that it was going to deliver half a billion US dollars worth of aid to the insurgency inside Syria. Who do you think the money was for?
The aid was for ISIL! Intended or not, whatever US “aid” is sent to Syria it will end up in their hands.
It is no mere coincidence that the ISIL fighters have US and Israeli arms either.

“Coalition of the Guilty” and Regime Change

The US and its “coalition of the willing” is a sick joke. It is comprised of lying and morally bankrupt politicians like French President François Hollande—a socialist who hates the poor in France, according to his former partner Valerie Trierweiler in her 2014 kiss-and-tell book—and the backwards, oppressive Arab petro-dictatorships of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Emirate of Qatar, and the Kingdom of Bahrain.
It is one big sick joke. While they torture, oppress, and kill their own people, the above petro-dictatorships also claim to espouse democratic values for the Syrian people.
Tehran has flatly refused to cooperate with the Pentagon and its anti-ISIL coalition, because the Iranian government knows full well that Washington has orchestrated the rise of the insurgencies inflicting Iraq and Syria.
Walid Al-Muallem, the deputy prime minister and longtime foreign minister of Syria, has even remarked that the US, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and their partners are not fighting terrorism, but using terrorism. According to Foreign Minister Al-Muallem, the countries that are really at the forefront of fighting terrorism are Syria, Iran, Iraq, and the Russian Federation.
Washington knew thatLebanon and Iraq would explode, if a US-led coalition attacked the Syrians. Instead America conducted its own controlled demolition in Iraq by unleashing ISIL across the border, using the crisis to exhaust the local Iraqi forces and to coerce regime change in Baghdad against Nouri Al-Malaki’s government, as an answer to Washington’s clear defeat in Syria after the historic Syrian presidentialelections held on June 3, 2014.
What the US has assembled is a “coalition of the guilty” or what we can call the “coalition of guilt.” These are the same governments, tyrants, and countries that authored the fiascos in Iraq and Syria.
Anyway you look at it; it comes down to this key reality: the so-called Islamic State (IS) is the handiwork of Washington; it has been a tool for US interference and intervention in Syria and Iraq.
The “coalition of the guilt” will not be bombing the IS inside Syria, at least exclusively. The Pentagon will be going after the Syrian government and the national military of the Syrian Arab Republic. Make no mistake about it; US-led airstrikes inside Syria will be against international law and an attack on Syria. The US may bomb the IS fighters in Syria too, but the IS will not be the only target. Washington and its “coalition of the guilty” seek regime change in Damascus and will use the opportunity to change the balance of power inside Syria.
In the wings, Israel, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia are all waiting and salivating for the Pentagon to lead an attack.
An Islamic gunman walks past a pick up truck belonging to the "Raqa Regional Public Service" headed by the Islamic State (IS) group loaded with the wreckage of a Syrian government forces aircraft which was shot down by IS' militants over the Syrian town of Raqa (AFP Photo / Str)
An Islamic gunman walks past a pick up truck belonging to the “Raqa Regional Public Service” headed by the Islamic State (IS) group loaded with the wreckage of a Syrian government forces aircraft which was shot down by IS’ militants over the Syrian town of Raqa (AFP Photo / Str)

Washington and company are the problem, not the solution

The US needs to be called out for fostering the IS or, more appropriately, the “un-Islamic State (uIS).” The vast majority of Muslims view Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the self-declared Caliph “lavish-wristwatch” Ibrahim, and his enterprise as an abomination formed by heretics and mercenaries that many argue cannot possibly be Muslims. Neither is there anything state-like about the “uIS.”
US-led airstrikes—which will absolutely need boots on the ground to select and monitor targets—are not needed. Have not the US and its allies done enough damage in Iraq and its region? Has not enough blood been spilt?
There is a much easier way to stop the “uIS” than what Washington is proposing.
If Washington, London, Paris, and all the usual suspects want to put a stop to the violence, the last thing they need to do is get involved any further in either Iraq or Syria. Their “coalition of the guilty” is a part of the problem and not a part of the solution; they want no actual solutions, aside from establishing a series of vassal states in Syria and Iraq.
Make no mistake about it, the US and this “coalition of the guilty” have blood on their hands and have been participating as belligerents in all the fighting from its inception.
For approximately a decade, Iraqi officials have been blaming the Saudi regime—the sword-wielding, head chopping oil barons of Najd that pretend to be pious Muslims by day and cocaine snorting, prostitute loving, alcoholics by night—for exporting terrorists into Iraq. In March, just a few months ago, the Iraqi government told the semi-official France 24 network that the Saudi and Qatari regimes were at war with Iraq and using the insurgents in Syria to attack Iraq and using their media networks to support and justify the insurgencies. Nor is it a secret that Turkish security forces openly coordinatewith these insurrectionary fighters and their commanders.
It has to be repeated again that there is a much easier way to put an end to this gory farce.
Instead of digging themselves deeper in Iraq and Syria, the US and company literally need to disengage as “belligerents.”
The self-proclaimed IS will fall apart once the US and its allies stop supplying the insurgents with weaponry and end their hostilities towards Damascus.
Moreover, the US and its comical “coalition of the guilty” must end the financing of terrorism by halting their not-so-covert robbery operations, which have involved the theft of oil and other materials by these fighters from Iraq and Syria via Turkey. Despite theclaims by the New York Times in a September 13, 2004 article by David E. Sanger and Julie Hirschfeld Davis that Turkey is wheeling and dealing in the black market with the insurgents on its own, and that the US government has desperately tried to get Ankara to stop doing business with the insurgents, it is unlikely that the Turkish government could go on doing business with the insurgents without acquiescence from the US and the EU.
The uIS’s pseudo-caliphate has become a multi-billion dollar business enterprise, because Washington has allowed it to become one and facilitated its business transactions via Turkey. Who can believe that the US government and its EU partners that are so sanctions gung-ho and have exerted themselves in all types of ways to block the trade and financial transactions of their enemies and rivals, cannot do the same thing for the millions and billions of US dollars and euro worth of oil that have been stolen from both Syria and Iraq?
Opposition fighters advancing as they capture a Syrian government forces position in the village of Khan Arnabeh, near the eastern border crossing of Quneitra with Israel in the Golan Heights. (AFP Photo / HO / Ahrar Al-Sham)
Terrorists advancing as they capture a Syrian government forces position in the village of Khan Arnabeh, near the eastern border crossing of Quneitra with Israel in the Golan Heights. (AFP Photo / HO / Ahrar Al-Sham)
At the minimum, the US government is looking the other way. It is not too hard to find who is buying such large amounts of oil. Jana Hybaskova, the European Union’s own representative to Iraq, has openly accused EU members of buying oil from the very same killers and rapists that Brussels has declared as perpetrators of crimes against humanity.
Hey, wait a minute the European Union exponents say. Do not blame the European Union for its shady dealings. That self-perceived apex of human civilization, the EU, needs new energy input or supplies—even if stolen and illegal—since it is sanctioning Iran and Russia, the hydrocarbon energy superpower next door, for what the European Commission, US government, and NATO incongruously declare was an invasion of East Ukraine that never even happened!

Arsonists don’t extinguish their own fires

America and its coalition should halt and desist. The same collective or corrupt governments that have unleashed the horrors in Iraq and Syria are now standing in the limelight and saying that they will come to the rescue. They can only make things worse, and they are in the process of making things worse by planting the seeds that will germinate into future regional crises.
Taking every opportunity to make the violence and crisis worse, the US and its “coalition of the guilty” are arming the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) instead of just sending arms to the Iraqi government in Baghdad for distribution inside Iraq. The motives behind this move are insidious. The US and its “coalition of the guilty” are sending weapons to the KRG with the insight that the same weapons that they are delivering to the Iraqi Kurds will eventually be pointed against the Iraqi federal government in Baghdad when the Kurdistan Regional Government makes its bid for independence, which will effectively partition Iraq.
No wonder Ankara has revived its vision for an Israeli-style security buffer zone inside northern Syria, and even (re)expanded it to include northern Iraq. The talk about Turkey controlling Syrian Kurdistan and Iraqi Kurdistan through a de facto or de jure confederation may not just be President Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman pipedreams.
When it comes down to it, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and his killers are just the foot soldiers. The real pyromaniacs who sit in their offices and palaces in Washington, London, Paris, Doha, Ankara, and Riyadh are the ones that need to be stopped. Arsonists cannot become firefighters sent to put out the fires that they themselves have started, because they usually have an interest in seeing their fires consume the places they have set ablaze. In this case the US and its allies are the arsonists that have an interest in seeing Iraq and Syria fragmented by the fire that the “coalition of the guilty”set alight to create a “New Middle East.”
America and its “coalition of the guilty” are pretending to fight terrorism in an elaborately staged performance for the public. When in reality, all along they have been the forces driving the butchery and terror inside Syria and Iraq. It has been Washington and its“coalition of the guilty” that have been waging a war against the Syrian and Iraqi people through the plethora of insurgent franchises that have carved niches for themselves in Syria and Iraq.
The Iraqi and Syrian militaries and peoples have been making headway against the foreign-backed insurgencies and their reign of terror. They can finish the job themselves without US-led airstrikes. What they really need is for the US and its guilty allies to show some honesty by genuinely ending their support for the insurgencies in Syria and Iraq and to stop fueling sectarian hatred between Arabs and Kurds, Muslims and Christians, and Shiites and Sunnis. Once America’s coalition of the guilty ends its own role as the real and main belligerents in the region the cross-border crisis in Iraq and Syria will be locally quarantined and defused with time.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Targeting Syria and Then Iran?

Flirting With Armageddon

Obama took to the airwaves yesterday, oh so coincidentally, on the eve of September 11, to roll out his latest “smart war.”  And it comes, oh so coincidentally, just before Congressional midterms when every member of Congress fears like the plague to be painted as a dove, just as happened in 2002 before Bush II took us to war.
Whatever role ISIS plays in this, Syria is certainly the target.  It is telling that when it comes to money, Obama is asking Congress only for funding to train the Syrian “moderate rebels” in that bastion of Sunni moderation, Saudi Arabia.
The rationales that Obama is peddling make no sense.  If the barbarity of beheading were the actual trigger of this latest onslaught on the Middle East, then the U.S. would not be sending our “moderate” trainees to Saudi Arabia where beheading is a well respected national past time – far more popular than allowing women to drive automobiles.
And if the barbarity that has motivated Obama were the wanton taking of American life, then we would be training Jewish “moderates” to overthrow the Apartheid State of Israel.  For let us remember that the IDF bulldozed the American Rachel Corrie into the ground when she stood in the way of the destruction of Palestinian housing.  And it was Israel that killed the American citizen living in Turkey, Furkan Dogan, who was on the Mavi Marmara in the Gaza Flotilla.  And it was Israel that tried to blow the USS Liberty out of the water killing 34 American sailors and wounding 171.
No, it is not the beheadings nor the loss of American life that move Obama.  Syria is now to be bombed.   That is an act of war.  In fact arming rebels to overthrow a government is an act of war but there will be no declaration of war – just a vote to supply the funds for the mythical “moderate” rebels.
We are told that only ISIS leaders will be targeted in Syria.  But Syria has not approved bombing its territory so it does not believe that story.  And let us suppose that U.S. planes are overhead when Assad’s forces are attacking “moderate” rebels that the U.S. is arming and training.  Is it credible that there will be no bombing of the Syrian forces?
And ISIS remains a mysterious entity, springing up out of nowhere and carrying arms that are supplied by American and Saudi agencies.   In Iran as was reported in the NYT yesterday on the front page, the great majority of “the street” believes  it is an American/Israeli/Saudi creation.  It may be true that ISIS has got out of control and that Saudi Arabia now fears it, but that could also be another fiction.  All we know for sure is that Syria and Iraq are to be bombed again.  And also that ISIS emerged only after our invasion, bombing and continuing presence in Iraq.
Syria of course was on the list of targets that General Wesley Clarke revealed to us that there was a hit list in the Middle East and North Africa of seven countries, “starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.”  And miraculously the schedule has been modified only slightly perhaps because Assad has put up such fierce resistance.
And other lies are in the air. 

Obama tells us that there will be not “boots on the ground,” but he also admits that he has sent over a thousand additional troops to Iraq.  Are they barefoot?  In fact the lies will only grow more intense and be repeated more frequently in the days to come as the war propaganda machine swings into ever higher gear.
As far as the election of 2008 goes, Obama promised peace, and Hillary war.  But so far Obama has been in perfect synch with his hawkish adversary who has been especially keen to assault Syria.  The election debate was a sham.
So we may expect Syria to be targeted and Iran next.  But Iran is supported by Russia already under attack in its West via Ukraine.  Can Russia allow Iran to be the next target?  Can Iran allow Syria to fall to the U.S. Empire?  It is quite clear where this is going.  The dream of the U.S. Empire to dominate the Eurasian land mass is  being implemented: Damascus, Tehran, Moscow  and finally Beijing unless nuclear war breaks out first.  Obama and the rest of the imperial elite are flirting with Armageddon.
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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Yemeni president accuses Houthis of coup attempt

Yemeni security forces supporting Houthi anti-government protesters gesture during a funeral procession and an anti-government protest in Sanaa on September 12, 2014. (Photo: AFP-Mohammed Huwais)
Published Saturday, September 20, 2014
Thursday was a pivotal night in the history of the Yemeni crisis. Sanaa fell into the hands of the Houthis, also known as Ansar Allah (supporters of God) more than a month after they entered the city peacefully. The Houthis were able to control the north of the capital, the international airport and the air base. They also gained control of all the military and security posts along the northern entrance to the city.
Sanaa – It is the beginning of a new phase marking a fundamental change in Yemen, in terms of the balance of power, the internal rules of engagement and the regional alliances in that part of the world. Sanaa is finally in the hands of the Houthis. This development came as a culmination of a long-term tactic adopted by the Houthis, who waged six wars with the Yemeni authorities before entering Sanaa peacefully with a set of demands and settling in the capital until the other side crossed certain “red lines.”
The reaction of the Yemeni regime was as fiery as the event itself. Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi described what happened as a “coup attempt” while the Republican Guard were battling the Houthis only hundreds of meters away from the president’s house. Hadi apparently has not realized yet that the goal of the Houthis is not to take power because they don’t want to repeat the experience of the Brotherhood. They want to become an influential party in the internal Yemeni system until no government can rule without their consent. The rest is details that have more to do with certain regional conflicts.

This coincided with the failure of the United Nations special envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, yesterday in convincing the leader of Ansar Allah, Abdel Malik al-Houthi, to sign a peace agreement with the Yemeni government.
A source close to the mediation committee told the German news agency, Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA), that Houthi refused to sign the agreement but authorized his office director and member of the political bureau of Ansar Allah group, Mohammed al-Bakhiti, to sign it. Bakhiti told DPA that negotiations are ongoing. There has been no agreement on any step but “we cannot say the agreement has definitively failed either.”
Clashes kill 40
All day yesterday, armed clashes continued in Thalatheen Street, Siteen Street, Shamlan district, the area surrounding the government-run TV building, the headquarters of the First Armored Division camp and Iman University. Presidential guards blocked the main bridge connecting Siteen Street to Mathbah after it was destroyed by a shell. The bridge is not far at all from President Hadi’s home. Armed clashes also came close to General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar’s home in the Mathbah area.
Yesterday evening, Houthi rebels renewed their shelling of the government-run TV station after they had shelled it Thursday evening. The army’s Fourth Brigade, charged with protecting the radio and TV stations, responded heavily to the source of fire.
Yemeni TV reported that the shelling targeted the power lines causing a power outage in the TV building, pointing out that the station is working on a small generator to continue broadcasting. A statement indicated there was significant damage to the TV station’s building and equipment, saying images of the damage will be broadcast in upcoming news bulletins.
Residents of Thalateen Street and al-Khaneq in the Shamlan district appealed to the Red Cross to enter the area and pick up some of the corpses lying around as the number of casualties reached 40. They asked both sides of the conflict, the army and the Houthis, to allow a humanitarian grace period so people could either leave or stock up on food supplies.
According to the news, a number of people, including children, were killed in the residential neighborhoods adjacent to the northwestern Siteen Street as a result of the shelling between both sides. The Civil Aviation and Meteorology Authority announced late Thursday evening that Arab and foreign airline companies decided to suspend their flights to Sanaa. It pointed out that the duration of the suspension was set at 24 hours in light of the developments in the capital.

Immediately, the Supreme Security Committee headed by the Yemeni president, called on the Houthi rebels to withdraw from the army and security posts they seized and to show commitment to law and order, otherwise army forces will exercise their duty to protect citizens and public peace and to take deterrent measures against Houthi fighters.
Ansar Allah said through its official spokesperson, Mohammed Abdel Salam, that the developments in some areas in Sanaa are “meant to protect peaceful protestors, ensure that the situation does not slip out of hand and that the bloody incidents on the Airport Street and in the vicinity of the cabinet building are not repeated and to deter ISIS-style takfiri groups that were brought in by certain centers of power to create chaos, undermine people’s faith in the victory of their revolution and divert this revolution from its just goals.”
For the first time since the Houthi military escalation around the capital and in its northwestern suburb, President Hadi broke his silence accusing the rebels of a coup attempt to overthrow the government. He said, during a meeting with the ambassadors of the 10 countries that sponsored the Gulf initiative, that Houthi fighters are escalating militarily in the capital and its suburbs to blow up the situation. They targeted a number of security and military installations and tried to storm the government-run TV building. Hadi pointed out that “what happened proves that the slogans which the Houthis initially raised calling for popular demands were nothing but a smokescreen. Today, the truth about their hidden intentions was revealed.” He added: “These forces want to blow up the situation and this is what we tried to avoid time and again because we realized the risks and economic repercussions for the country and the deep impact on social peace.”
Bakhiti told Al-Akhbar that there are no new developments in the negotiations between Ansar Allah and the UN special envoy to Yemen Benomar. He stressed: “It seems we have not reached a final agreement yet.”
Commenting on the Houthi’s military escalation in Sanaa, Bakhiti said that the demands of the group were clear and out in the open. Besides, we declared that “killing protesters is a red line. But the government with its stupidity did not respond to these demands.” He added that what is happening now is fighting between the Muslim Brotherhood and the bloody terrorist groups affiliated with it on one hand and Ansar Allah on the other. He pointed out that the fighting in the Shamlan district “broke out after members of al-Islah Party stormed more than 30 houses in Shamlan and arrested their owners under the pretext that they are spying for us.”
In response to Hadi’s speech, Bakhiti accused parties within the government of trying to derail the negotiations as the presidency has failed to respond to the people’s demands.

In his view, the president’s decision to change two members of the negotiations committee, Dr. Abdel Karim al-Eryani and Abdel Qader Hilal, after reaching a final agreement to end the crisis is evidence of the growing influence and impact of the camp around President Hadi impeding a political settlement. After three days of talks held between the UN special envoy and Houthi in northern Yemen’s Saada province, Benomar returned to Sanaa without signing an agreement to end the crisis.
Benomar expressed his deep regret for the deterioration of the situation in Sanaa to the point of using weapons as efforts are ongoing to reach a peaceful solution to the crisis. He stressed the need to stop all acts of violence immediately and for everyone to act wisely.
Benomar said upon his return to Sanaa from Saada province yesterday evening that talks were conducted with Houthi in the past couple of days. The first round lasted three hours on Wednesday and the second round on Thursday lasted about seven hours until the late hour of the night.
He added: “We tried to bridge the gap between all the parties and we agreed on a host of issues that could create a foundation for an agreement based on the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference. He called for an immediate end to all acts of violence, hoping that all the parties would act wisely in a way that would serve the country’s higher interests.
The National Alignment urges a call to arms
The National Alignment body in Yemen asked President Hadi to “declare a call to arms and open the door to recruitment to protect Sanna.”
The body called in a statement yesterday on the Yemeni president to “exercise his constitutional and legal responsibility to protect citizens and their private and public property.” They asked him to “quickly support the military forces by declaring a call to arms, opening voluntary recruitment to protect the capital Sanaa and its residents, lift the armed siege of the capital and end the public carrying of arms and everything that disturbs citizens’ public tranquility.”
The statement stressed the need to “extend national authority and sovereignty on all Yemeni soil, especially in the provinces of Saada and Omran al-Jawf in the north.” The statement also called for “bringing the displaced and the refugees back to their homes and compensating them fairly for the damages they sustained, implementing the National Dialogue Conference outcomes, announcing a timetable for implementing these outcomes and forming a national unity government based on standards of competence and integrity.”
(Anadolu Agency)
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Fear of a Caliphate

ISIS Wins Again

Now that Barack Obama the dove has metamorphized into Barack Obama the hawk, the President and his people are more than usually in over their heads.

It isn’t just that their past and present enemies in Iraq and Syria – Iran and the Assad government – are now also their de facto allies; or that those “Syrian moderates,” who haven’t exactly panned out in past iterations of American meddling, are now, again, their great Islamic hope.

They are so confused by the situation they helped bring about that, at first, they couldn’t even decide what to call their enemy.  Nor could they figure out whether to call this latest phase of the Bush-Obama perpetual Middle Eastern war a “war” or something that public opinion might find more congenial.

They were inclined, at first, to follow the example of their fascism-friendly Ukrainian protégés, by calling it an “anti-terror operation” – supplemented by some adjective like “heightened” that would imply that it would be more or less permanent.   In the end, they settled on “war.”

From Obama’s point of view, it is emphatically not a war of choice; not his choice, anyway.

Candidate Obama famously used that expression to disparage George Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq.  He still takes credit for winding Bush’s ruinous adventure down, even as he is starting it up again.
His point was that the Iraq War was Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s choice in the sense that they had no compelling reason to start it.

To be sure, they had grandiose, and patently unrealistic, geopolitical objectives in mind, but basically they, and the neocons they empowered, just wanted to overthrow the Iraqi government and to take that country over.  And so, there it was; and still is.

Obama, on the other hand, didn’t want this war.  The man is a god-awful President, but he isn’t stupid.

However, with an election in the offing, and with Republicans, right-wing Democrats, and the usual gaggle of pundits calling for blood — along with Hillary Clinton – he had no choice.

Resisting the pressure would take courage.  That is therefore out of the question.

Obama had no choice, but then neither did the warmongers and their acquiescent colleagues in the Senate and the House.  They too were reacting, predictably, to events not of their making.

The Islamic State (IS), or whatever we call it, chose to bring this war on – or, rather, to bring the United States back into a war that it started, lost many times over, and still never really quit.

Obama and his crew don’t want to call the IS by the name it now uses.   They favor the names it used to go by after it broke away from Al Qaida – ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) or ISIL (the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant).

They are said to think that if the old names prevail, it will diminish IS’s global reach, reducing it to a regional power.  Seriously.

Could this be what Obama’s publicists mean by a “strategy”?  Perhaps; nothing amazes anymore.

In any case, on the principle that even “bad guys” get to be called what they want, I propose we stick with IS.  If this gets Obama’s goat, then so much the better.

Why would the IS choose to have America rain murder and destruction down upon it, and upon the people it purports to fight for?

Maybe because something like that worked out well for Al Qaida, and because Osama Bin Laden is their spiritual guide.

On 9/11, Al Qaida caused some three thousand people to die in New York, Washington and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

But the harm it did on that day was almost trivial compared to the harm America went on to do to itself.   The reaction to 9/11 changed the country for the worse – in countless ways.  The process continues to this day, some thirteen years on.

To inflict so much harm, Al Qaida had to stage a spectacular assault on some of the citadels of American imperialism.

All the IS had to do was behead two American journalists — and, later, one British aid worker.   As best we know, they didn’t even have to capture their victims; others turned them over to the IS – either because the IS forced them or because the original captors realized that the chances of collecting ransoms were dim.

It was a stroke of genius.  At almost no cost, the IS got the fear factor in the West back up to dizzying heights.
Fear had gone dormant in recent years; war-weariness had taken over.  The military-industrial-national security state complex in America and elsewhere could hardly stand for that.

But it might have had to, had the IS not come to the rescue.  With just a few strokes of the sword, happy days are here again – for our “warriors” and the death merchants who arm them on the taxpayer’s dime, and forjihadis eager to get America and its vassals whole-heartedly back into the fray.

If there were a Nobel Prize for military strategy – specifically, for how weak non-state actors can prevail in “asymmetrical” wars against mighty juggernauts — it should go to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the IS’s leader (or, at least, its public face).

He is certainly more deserving of a prize than the Nobel Peace laureate who now leads – or is the public face of – the forces fighting the IS.

Al-Baghdadi must have a keen grasp of the thoroughgoing befuddlement of America’s political class and its media flacks; he certainly knows what buttons to push.

There was no way he, or anyone else, could make it “rational” for America to recommit all the troops and resources it soon will.  But where rationality fails, there is always irrationality.  As a true believer, Al-Baghdadi is no stranger to that; as they say, “it takes one to know one.”

The man is zealous, benighted, and vile, but he knows what he is doing.

He is also quite the ironist.

Saudi Arabia, America’s favorite country in the Middle East – except, of course, for Israel — is the beheading capital of the world.  And, according to The New York Times, in a story other corporate media squelched, the “moderate” Free Syrian Army, the announced beneficiary of Obama’s largesse, recently undertook some beheadings of its own.
It is far from obvious too that, as an occupying force, the behavior of the IS, horrendous as it is, is any more odious than the IDF’s, the Israel Defense Forces’.  Israeli propagandists and American pundits call the IDF “the most moral army in the world.”  Only ardent Zionists believe them; the rest of the world knows better.

Unlike many Western leaders, the IS didn’t get where it is by being ignorant and dumb.  Coming out of nowhere, the IS now rules large swathes of Syria and Iraq — because its leaders figured out how to leverage their otherwise feeble power.

Its military prowess is, no doubt, considerable, but it has prevailed mainly thanks to uprisings in aggrieved Sunni communities.

By all accounts, the IS is not well loved in the territories it has conquered – quite the contrary, it is feared and despised.   But it knows how to mobilize popular discontent, and how to take advantage of it.
It is not just in the West that IS fanatics are regarded as barbarians at the gate.  Everyone loathes them; reportedly, even Al Qaida.

Unfortunately, though, for many hard-pressed Sunnis in Syria and Iraq, they are the only game in town.  And so, for the time being, they support them.  Have they entered into a Faustian bargain they will come to regret?  Time will tell.

The IS says that it wants to establish a caliphate.  No doubt, its leaders really do.

But the important thing is that it makes sense for them to say that establishing a caliphate is their objective.  This is yet another way for them to affect Western public opinion to their advantage.

“Caliphate” has become the favorite scare word of modern day Islamophobes.  Thanks to their influence, the mere use of the word can be almost as upsetting to ill-informed Westerners as videos of beheadings.

How bizarre – to be OK with Obama’s drones and Netanyahu’s massacres, but mention “caliphate,” an antiquated notion of mainly theological significance for the past thousand years, and up go the hackles!

That would be the hackles of people who haven’t the slightest idea what a caliphate is.

The time to define terms and go back to basics is evidently long past due.
  • *
Nowadays, the word “state” is sometimes used loosely to designate any of the many political structures that govern independent political entities.

However, in most contexts, including this one, it is best to use the term more restrictively – to refer to political regimes in which supreme authority is concentrated into a single institutional nexus.

When the great German social theorist Max Weber declared that states exercise a monopoly over the means of legitimate – that is, considered to be legitimate – violence, he was referring to states in this more restricted sense.
The state form of political organization is therefore the exception, not the rule. Throughout history, political authority relations have been diffuse.  Feudal societies didn’t have states (except in the looser sense of the term), and neither did more ancient social formations.

Indeed, with only a few minor exceptions (or, rather, anticipations), the state is a creature of the modern era.
States came into being in tandem with and largely because of the rise of capitalism.  This was not a coincidence; the state, specifically, the nation state, was, at the time of its emergence, a functional requirement of capitalist development.

Capitalist economies join together vast numbers of people who live apart and who are strangers to one another.  They do not, and cannot possibly, trust one another well enough to interact through exchange relations — unless they are brought together under the aegis of a common political and legal framework.

States also facilitate interactions between the discrete economic units they help to construct – mainly, but not only, through trade.   The role of trade in the rise of capitalism and in the politics of the era in which the state form of political organization took hold can hardly be exaggerated.

Emerging capitalism needed states.  But states will not function well if they are experienced as arbitrary concoctions.  To flourish, they must arise, or seem to arise, out of the natural order of things – like the integral communities of earlier periods, but on a far larger scale.

To best discharge their mission, they therefore need to become nation states.
The nation too is a modern development.

It is now widely understood that nations are “imagined communities” – socially constructed, more or less deliberately, to take the place of the solidarities that capitalism disrupts.

Since nations didn’t exit, it was necessary to invent them.

In early modern Europe and, later, nearly everywhere else, the raw materials for doing so were readily at hand.
Physical contiguity was important; for constructing a sense of nationality, it helps if the lands in which potential members of the same nation live comprise an integral geographical whole.  In the collective consciousness of a nation, co-nationals inhabit the same space.

It was important too that co-nationals shared, or thought they shared, a common history; and that they exhibit identifiable cultural affinities.

It also helps if the dialects they speak are mutually intelligible.  Then one or another dialect can more easily become the basis for a nation’s official language.  Constructing a national language is an important task in nation building.
These are not necessary or sufficient conditions.  But the general pattern is robust.

Typically too, members of the same nation share, or once shared, common religious beliefs and practices.
This was very nearly all that members of the Jewish nation, as nineteenth century Jewish nationalists conceived it, had in common — though efforts were made, and are still made, to support claims of common descent.  Simply sharing a religion was evidently not enough.

The reason why is not entirely clear – especially inasmuch as some religious sects meet the criteria for nationhood better than most bona fide national groups do.

The Amish are a case in point: they lived on contiguous territories, first in Europe, then in North America (until population growth and land scarcity necessitated a kind of “diaspora”); they speak a common language, the middle-German dialect called Pennsylvania Dutch; and they share a common history and culture.

But no one, the Amish least of all, would speak of an Amish nation.  Among religions, the Jewish case is an anomaly; and but for the rise of Zionism – a political movement that assumes Jewish nationhood – the idea, born in the age of German Romanticism, might well have disappeared long ago.

If it had, the Jewish people today would be what they have been for the past two thousand years: co-religionists.
In the nineteenth century, as European imperialists brought the Islamic world into the capitalist fold, Western notions of political organization took root in historically Muslim areas as well.

But because Islamic theology has a pronounced theocratic strain, and because, within its framework, a Muslim’s first loyalty is to the entire community of the Muslim faithful, the ummah, nationalist ideas had a hard time becoming established in Muslim lands.

However, as the Muslim world modernized – and secularized – nationalism eventually took root there too.

By that time, though, most Muslims were living in areas that were either incorporated into the Ottoman Empire or ruled by British, French, Dutch or Russian imperial powers.

By that time too, there were more nations in the Middle East (and other dominated parts of the world) than were ever likely to have their own states.   This has been a problem ever since.

When the British and the French divvied up the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the administrative units they concocted were drawn up with little regard for the national or proto-national aspirations of the subject peoples involved.

They were too “orientalist” to care what the natives wanted, and too shortsighted to take any but their own interests into account.  The consequences of their thoughtless maneuverings are only now falling due.
Also, by that time, nationalism had largely outgrown its original function.  It no longer had much to do with helping capitalist economies flourish.

In the Muslim world, as in other regions of the global South, nationalistic aspirations had more to do with motivating and sustaining resistance to imperial domination.

Often, nationalism became indistinguishable from patriotism, a virtue extolled by political thinkers since even before the dawn of the capitalist era.

In all this time, however, there was never much interest in Muslim quarters in implementing theologically driven notions of a unitary, theocratic political order that would govern the entire Muslim world through the antiquated institutional forms of the seventh and eighth centuries.

Uniting the whole world, or even just the historically Muslim part of it, under the sway of a caliphate was a religious, not a political, ideal — in much the way that, before Zionism, returning to the Promised Land was for Jews.

The caliphates that existed in Islam’s first centuries – before the religion we know today fully coalesced – were not even all that scary.

From the beginning, Muslims were obligated to protect Christians and Jews, even as they accorded them a subaltern status.  Though not religiously required, the spirit of tolerance often spilled over to practitioners of other ancient faiths as well.

Those that had scriptures generally fared better than outright pagans; as did those that could claim to be monotheistic.  Monotheism was not a very demanding requirement in any case, inasmuch as, on that criterion, (trinitarian) Christianity had already set the bar low.

Some of those barely tolerated religious groups survive to this day.  Lately, the Yazidis have been in the news – because Obama claims to have saved some thirty thousand of them from the IS.  In truth, there were far fewer in need of saving than was at first reported, and most of the saving was done by Kurds and Turks.

Other ancient strains of Mesopotamian religiosity melded, often uneasily, into Islam.  Typically, adherents of these faiths retained some of their beliefs and practices, and suffered persecution on that account.  The Alawites in Syria are an example; the Assad family, in power there since 1970 (no thanks, lately, to the United States), is of Alawite origin.

In any case, by the time Islam coalesced into the religion it has become, with distinct Sunni and Shia branches, the idea that the entire community of the faithful should – or even could — be drawn together into a single political entity had become patently unrealistic.

The idea survived as a theological construct, but it had no political meaning.   Caliphates were sometimes still declared.  There was even a caliph in Istanbul at the time that the Ottoman Empire expired.  But, from a political point of view, the office was, for all practical purposes, inert.

Now that the whole word is divided into states, the idea is more unrealistic than ever.

The post-World War I division of the Ottoman Empire’s Mesopotamian provinces into British and French protectorates, and later into states, could now be in jeopardy thanks to the IS.  Parts of Syria and Iraq could splinter apart, and Sunni areas in both countries could merge.

But the chances that the world, or any significant part of it, will soon be taken over by fanatical Muslims intent on imposing sharia (Islamic religious) law – another Islamophobic scare word — is nil.

The prospect that, under the IS’s leadership, the state form of political organization in territories it controls would give way to institutional arrangements that died out more than a thousand years ago is, if anything, even less likely.
These notions are nightmare fantasies, promoted by Israeli propagandists and other fear mongers who prey upon Islamophobically-inclined Westerners.

If a later day caliphate is what IS militants think they want, then they too are living in a fantasy world.

The confusion is evident in the name itself.  A caliphate is not a state, not even an Islamic state, unless “state” is used only in the loosest of senses.

Were the IS to hack out parts of Syria and Iraq in order to establish a new state there, it would be a Sunni state – but only in the sense that it would rule over majority Sunni populations.

No doubt, such a state would enforce religious law, much as the Iranian state does.  It would be a grotesquely brutal and illiberal state.   But, no matter what the IS would call it, it would be a state nevertheless, not a caliphate in anything like the original meaning of the term.

The caliphates of Muslim antiquity operated in a very different world from the present; their institutional arrangements reflected conditions that no longer exist.

This is something even the IS cannot change.  A true caliphate could hardly operate, much less endure, in today’s world.

Does the IS realize this?   It is hard to say on the available evidence.  The evidence only supports what we know as a general rule: that clear thinking and godliness, fanatical godliness especially, don’t mix.

Even more surely, it supports the idea that the IS wants the US again to put “boots on the ground.”  The more in America is, the happier they will be.

The happier many of our Senators and Representatives will be too.   Great minds think alike.

Talk of caliphates serves the IS’s purpose, much as beheadings on You Tube do.  And talk is cheap, and become cheaper.  Since 9/11, the cost of getting America to do itself in has plummeted.

And so, the IS, wins: Obama’s America is off to war again.

Worry about that; not about what the IS says it wants to establish in the region or the world.

The potential for harm resulting from the United States and other Western powers fighting against the IS is greater by many orders of magnitude than any harm that the IS can do in the areas it controls.

And the only way it can harm the United States or other Western countries is the tried and true way: by getting them to harm themselves.

ANDREW LEVINE is a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, the author most recently of THE AMERICAN IDEOLOGY (Routledge) and POLITICAL KEY WORDS (Blackwell) as well as of many other books and articles in political philosophy. His most recent book is In Bad Faith: What’s Wrong With the Opium of the People. He was a Professor (philosophy) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Research Professor (philosophy) at the University of Maryland-College Park.  He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).
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