Category: History

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A tank operated by Saudi-led forces fires at a position of Yemeni fighters in the Labanat area, between Yemen's northern provinces of al-Jawf and Marib on December 5, 2015. (Reuters photo)
A tank operated by Saudi-led forces fires at a position of Yemeni fighters in the Labanat area, between Yemen’s northern provinces of al-Jawf and Marib on December 5, 2015. (Reuters photo)

A new report says mercenaries and military advisers from the infamous US security firm, formerly known as Blackwater, are replacing UAE troops in the Saudi war in Yemen.   

The Beirut-based al-Akhbar newspaper said on Thursday UAE forces are being gradually replaced by recruits from the US-based private military contractor, which now goes by the name, Acamedi.

The move came after the UAE evacuated some of its military sites in Yemen following its failures in several operations, the Lebanese daily added.

According to al-Akhbar, UAE’s move to involve the private military contractor in the Yemen conflict has raised objections among some members of the Saudi-led coalition.

On Wednesday, Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah news website said the commander-in-chief of Blackwater mercenaries in the country was killed in the al-Omari district of Ta’izz Province.


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Blackwater: Shadow Army

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Among the many scholars, diplomats, and political figures who warned of such consequences was a then-Illinois state senator named Barack Obama, who noted that a U.S. invasion of Iraq would “only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al-Qaeda” and other like-minded extremists.

The US and the Rise of ISIS   byStephen Zunes


Interesting that Obama be  credited with  such  foresight and yet be as responsible for said invasions and fanning of  flames  as his predecessor.  I do not see that he himself took his words to heart.  The  leanings towards Interventionist  Foreign Policy has  continued  under the  Obama administration.  It is obvious  that those who have  always believed in this  interventionist viewpoint would continue to do so.  Expecting them to change  is naive.  Unless of  course it is a  change  on the campaign trail, where  politicians will promise all kinds of   things that they  never  intend to  honor.  So I  fail to see how using Obama as an example  of the  voice of  reason could be  considered unbiased , let alone  honest.   When his  every move in the  middle east  has been quite the opposite.  All one need do is look to Yemen and the work that has been allowed, one could dare say  encouraged  by the  Obama administration.  The  Yemeni people are  being  killed with  cluster  bombs  used  by the  Saudi’s with the  US’ blessings.    The  poisoned gas  that was  used by the pro Assad  forces  which then turned out to be a fabrication  meant  to cover up the  fact that US  and  coalition backed anti-Assad  forces were  indeed the  ones  responsible  for the  poisoned gases that  had  been  unleashed  on the  civilian population of  Syria. 

It is ironic, then, that most of those who went ahead and supported the invasion of Iraq anyway are now trying to blame him for the rise of ISIS. These include Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, who was among the minority of Congressional Democrats to vote for war authorization. In an August 2014 interview in The Atlantic, she claimed that Obama’s refusal to get the United States more heavily involved in the Syrian civil war “left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.”

The US and the Rise of ISIS   byStephen Zunes


The  long  drawn out conflict in Syria  surgical strikes, bombings, supplies of  weaponry , ammunition and  death  peddling are at the  heart  of  US strategies there.  A sovereign people who’s legitimately  elected  President  has been  deemed  unworthy by forces that  have  neither  been asked  for their  opinion , nor have they the  authority to intervene, morally  or  otherwise.  How  can one  write  about the  criminal  Interventionist  Foreign Policy that  has  been a  staple of  the  US for the  last two decades blaming the  neo-cons , scholars, legislators and  politicians that have beat  the  drum  for the last  20 years  or so and  not refer to Obama in the  same light as  Bush? 

The Russians were invited  by  the  legitimate   government  of  Syria.  Their campaign has  brought to  light  the  kind  of  cruel  cat  and  mouse  game  the  Obama  administration  has  been  playing  with the Syrian  peoples  lives.  Dealing  death and  destruction while  doing  next  to  nothing  to  correct the problem  the US caused.  Yet  the  Russians  are viewed as evil and double dealing.  I suppose that  would  be  a  direct  correlation to the  first  article  listed  here.  The  US dealing  out  terror, perpetrating  terrorist acts dealing  horrific  pain and  loss to a civilian  population and calling it  democracy.  While  Russia has  made  great  strides is  winning  back all the  lost  territory from the  Islamic  State.  Only those  who choose to  lie to themselves can legitimately  look at the  events  that have  taken place in  Syria  during the  last   3 months  or  so and  believe   the  propaganda.  The US  now  deals in Terror  not  democracy abroad and anyone  who follows  suit calling it  an  honorable pursuit is  guilty  of Terror as well.

Still early in Obama’s first term, more than one commentator remarked that Obama hadn’t “changed much of substance from the late Bush practices.” And it gets worse for the Democrats who guard their reputation as liberals so well. Follow this condemnation: “Republicans are right about the fact that while it was Bush officials who led the way in implementing these radical and lawless policies, most of the country’s institutions — particularly the Democratic Party leadership and the media — acquiesced to it, endorsed it, and enabled it. And they still do.” (My emphasis) Further, “ ‘much of the other half of the country, the one that once opposed those policies – Democrats, Obama supporters — are now reciting the same lines, adopting the same mentality, because doing so is necessary to justify what Obama is doing,” namely spreading terror.

The US’ Language of Terror and a History of Preemptive Aggression

Democrat or Republican a War  Criminal is  still a War  Criminal and there is  no amount of  white washing (no racial pun intended, for all you race-baiters out there) that can extricate  Obama’s guilt and  responsibility from the  crimes  perpetrated  against  humanity  in the name  of  greed and power.

Desert Rose




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The US’ Language of Terror and a History of Preemptive Aggression

US President Barack Obama speaks about counter-terrorism and the United States fight against Isis during an address to the nation from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Sunday, December 7, 2015. (Reuters)

Following the recent horrific and brutal San Bernardino slaying, President Obama took to the Oval Office and reminded Americans, “our nation has been at war with terrorists since al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11.” He also reminded us “we have no evidence that the killers were directed by a terrorist organization overseas, or that they were part of a broader conspiracy here at home.” Nevertheless, his thesis held, we have no choice but to increase war efforts, even though the United States “cannot identify every would-be mass shooter, whether that individual is motivated by ISIL or some other hateful ideology.” We cannot do anything to totally prevent the problem of terror, therefore, we “will continue to hunt down terrorist plotters in any country where it is necessary,” whether a country agrees to it or not, according to recent and historic US foreign policy.

But what motivates the United States to take such seemingly irrational and “uncivilized” courses of violence? Profits it seems. Stoking the flames of war abroad will not only benefit terrorist efforts universally, that is, for all sides using terror, but it will also benefit the wealthy-corporate class. Executive Vice President of Boeing, for instance, Bruce Tanner, raves that “ ‘conflicts would lead to increased sales for their company.’ “ Indeed, “with the ISIS threat growing, there are more countries interested in buying Oshkosh-made M-ATV armored vehicles.” Accordingly, business is booming for Western-war profiteers. Which was further illustrated when the war “contractors also celebrated the fact that the defense sector was recently granted a $607 billion budget by the government.” Thus, there remains a distinct correlation between “terrorism” and Western profits; “Glenn Greenwald pointed out stock prices for weapons manufacturers sharply increased just after the terrorist attacks in Paris last month.”

The propaganda campaign that’s been wrought through political rhetoric and mass-corporatized media, which is the US’ political machine for the most wealthy amongst us, has done great work to keep the public in a constant state of fear and paranoia. Indeed, “more voters than ever think terrorists have the advantage over the United States and its allies.” Indeed, a striking “forty-six percent of 1,000 likely voters…thought terrorists were winning, while only 26% believed the United States and its allies” have “the upper hand.” Thus, whatever Washington’s doing, it’s clearly working, the public’ absolutely terrorized by the prospects of terror. Yet for some of the greatest hand wringers, those most “civilized people,” for them, Americas centuries old “terrorist” question remains a pesky and “sour subject.” How to deal with the “confident savages,” continues to perplex even the most hawkish of our leaders. Moreover, the threat of global anti-imperialism seems to be growing within as well as without the US. For example, “a disturbing number of young Americans” are “joining ISIS.” It seems, that Americans cannot escape even our own “savagery.” Whether it’s violence from a white-supremacist terrorist, like Dylan Roof or Timothy McVeigh, or one of the “confident savages” the world over, it’s clear, that the West, without question, is in the business of producing terror and terrorism, evidently.

Lets look at a portion of the record.

Still early in Obama’s first term, more than one commentator remarked that Obama hadn’t “changed much of substance from the late Bush practices.” And it gets worse for the Democrats who guard their reputation as liberals so well. Follow this condemnation: “Republicans are right about the fact that while it was Bush officials who led the way in implementing these radical and lawless policies, most of the country’s institutions — particularly the Democratic Party leadership and the media — acquiesced to it, endorsed it, and enabled it. And they still do.” (My emphasis) Further, “ ‘much of the other half of the country, the one that once opposed those policies – Democrats, Obama supporters — are now reciting the same lines, adopting the same mentality, because doing so is necessary to justify what Obama is doing,” namely spreading terror.

But how do our US maintainers of civilization ensure that “the masses of people” do not become inquisitive, or perhaps, dangerously, informed? Well one way is to continue the policies of secrecy and “public security,” which Bush II’s “thugs” did so well, as has been well documented by many intellectuals and scholars, Glenn Greenwald not an exception. Thus, he relay’s, that Obama’s programs were “inherited from Mr. Bush” II, “ they were “literally just Bush [II] redux.” In fact, “Mr. Obama’s Justice Department…’told an appeals court that the Bush administration was right to invoke “state secrets’ to shut down a lawsuit by former C.I.A. detainees who say a Boeing subsidiary helped fly them to places where they were tortured.’ ” It seems that secrecy would serve Obama’s Washington no less than it did his predecessors.

Another War on Terror

Twenty years before Bush II declared a “War on Terror,” says Chomsky, “the Reagan administration came into office announcing that a primary concern of US foreign policy would be a ‘war on terror.’ ” Apparently, back then, the threat to Washington policy was little different. Reagan administration moderate, George Shultz, said that the “terrorists” are “ ‘depraved opponents of civilization itself,’ “ who wish for “ ‘a return to barbarism in the modern age.’ ” But, as currently, the domestic problem had to be addressed as well, we had to exercise “the ‘cancer,’ “ which was “ ‘right here in our land mass.’ ” Obama thus echoes Reagan era ideology in his most recent address to the world when he said, we’re “confronted by a cancer that has no immediate cure.”

Others reacting to US war with terror, however, is not a new phenomenon. In fact, Woodrow Wilson was echoed by Reaganites when they proclaimed a war against the “barbarians” of the day in the Philippines saying that, in ‘our interest,” the USA “must march forward’ ” and n provocations are to be tolerated. Decades later, “the Reagan–Shultz doctrine held that the UN Charter entitles the US to resort to force in ‘self-defense against future attack.’ ” Bush I followed similar doctrine. His Washington argued its right to pre-emptive violence and terror as it “justified the invasion of Panama,” for instance, because the US must, through its own powers, must have the right to “defend our interests and our people.” (my emphasis) However, this approach to terror is nothing new for the USA, “the doctrine of preemptive strike has much earlier origins.” Looking back to another example, president Bill Clinton’s administration followed its duty to the imperialist hegemon. His “Strategic Command also advocated ‘preemptive response,’ with nuclear weapons if deemed appropriate.” Moreover, looking back forty years prior, “President Eisenhower and his staff discussed what he called the ‘campaign of hatred against us’ in the Arab world, ‘not by the governments but by the people.’ ” Chomsky reminds us, however soberly, that “they do not ‘hate us,’ but rather policies of the US government, something quite different,” indeed. By the time we reach BUSH II era policy on barbarism, Colin Powell’s State Department had declared Cuba a “terrorist state.”

Looking back again to the “terror” policies into the 60’s, President John F. Kennedy, “ordered his staff to subject Cubans to the ‘terrors of the earth.’ ” Obviously, he was addressing the “barbarians” of the day, the “terrorists” off the coast of Florida, who were, by virtue of existing in “successful defiance of the US,” being “a negation of our whole hemispheric policy of almost a century and a half,” who must therefor be subjected to the “terrors of the earth.” Thus, it was John F. Kennedy who, quite astutely, however unwittingly, named the real terrorists, us. We were ordered to deliver the terrors, not “them.”

Like much of the world today, evidently, the “uncivilized,” had refused to adhere to the “principle of subordination to US will.” Under JFK’s Washington, Cuba refused to affirm a subordinate place, and when “a US-backed South African invasion was coming close to conquering newly independent Angola, Cuba sent troops on its own initiative, scarcely even notifying Russia, and beat back the invaders” who’re being funded by US tax payers. Thus, what would follow for years was, as Chomsky notes, “some of the worst terrorist attacks against Cuba, with no slight US role.”

Reagan’s Terror

Another staggering example of US’ monopoly on terrorizing the world over was illustrated in a 1987 UN resolution, which condemned “terrorism in the strongest terms,” and which called “on all nations to combat the plague,” which “passed 153–2,” the US and Israel, accordingly, the loan wolves, or hawks rather, voted against it. For how could the US, which funded and “recruited radical Islamists from many countries and organized them into a military and terrorist force that Reagan anointed ‘the moral equivalent of the founding fathers,’ ” vote against our own policy? We don’t and we didn’t. In fact, we’ve “ ‘supported every possible anti-democratic government in the Arab–Islamic world.’ ” However, long after Reagan’s rule, the war came home, and thus, Americans “were subjected, on home soil, to atrocities of the kind that are all too familiar elsewhere.”

What was it, then, that the US-Israel partnership took issue with? They simply couldn’t allow their subject states, or any “other” state, for that matter, “the right to self-determination, freedom, and independence, as derived from the Charter of the United Nations…particularly peoples under colonial and racist regimes and foreign occupation,” which for US-Israel, cannot be true, not for those who’s interests “must march forward,” for “the self-anointed ‘enlightened states’ will serve as global enforcers.”

Thus, for any thing, it’s clear, whether a state or non-state faction, if it contests US power and hegemony, which includes capitalist wont’s of “free trade,” neo-liberal policies and unimpeded access, surveillance, and control — whether, it be an individual, a group, or state — it shall, invariably, present an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” and therefor, constitutes terrorism, and thus, it follows, however illogically, that we must, “eradicate the plague” of anti-imperialist terror stemming from the “uncivilized” corners of the planet. Accordingly, we must “eradicate” “ ‘the evil scourge of terrorism.’ ”

But what has the propaganda and the non-transparency wrought for contemporary Washington? Well, for one, it’s brought the politically left and right of our country together forcing many to face our country’s internal contradictions. In other words, if relatively little’s changed in terms of war policy over the centuries, then many democrats, and republicans alike, have been forced to admit that while they stand fundamentally opposed on certain issues, the end result of global hegemony and effective internal population control remains intact, however deadly and oppressive the means may be. Indeed, “now that it’s not just an unpopular Republican President but also a highly charismatic and popular Democratic President advocating and defending these core Bush/Cheney policies, they do become the political consensus of the United States.”

Nevertheless, Obama reassured us this week that the US is “cooperating with Muslim-majority countries — and with our Muslim communities here at home.” Thus, to ensure the safety and “security” of Muslims everywhere, he’s “ordered the Departments of State and Homeland Security to review the visa (waiver) program,” which is certain to follow with more stringent controls on Muslims and many others who don’t fit the label “ordinary American.” Furthermore, Obama “will urge high-tech and law enforcement leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology,” what that means I shutter to think. He goes on, “we should put in place stronger screening for those who come to America without a visa.” And Congress “should go ahead and vote to authorize the continued use of military force” against the “thugs and killers,” who’re “part of a cult of death.” Nevertheless, he maintains, that “we are on the right side of history,” and may we “never forget what makes us exceptional.”

Thus, accordingly, if it’s US’ policy to fund and depend upon known terror-sponsoring states, such as, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, then it follows that the US policy would also be, to counter any movement or policy designed to limit Washington’s “enemies.” The inferences, should one be willing to follow them are, that the US, empirically, and through its own admissions, is perhaps, the greatest “threat to world peace,” as the world believes; however, and perhaps even more sobering, the United States of America is also the largest supporter of terrorism in the world. There’s little argument against that fact if one applies universal determinations to what constitutes “Terrorism.”

Thus, said Chomsky, rather soberly in 2003, “we basically have two choices. Either history is bunk, including current history, and we can march forward with confidence that the global enforcer will drive evil from the world much as the President’s speech writers declare, plagiarizing ancient epics and children’s tales. Or we can subject the doctrines of the proclaimed grand new era to scrutiny, drawing rational conclusions, perhaps gaining some sense of the emerging reality.”

What is it, then, that we must ask ourselves if we’re to honestly address the moral consequences of our actions? Why is it invariably the case that what others do is “terror,” but what we do is not? I’ll leave you with these final thoughts from Chomsky. “If an action is right for us, it is right for others; and if wrong for others, it is wrong for us. Those who reject that standard can be ignored in any discussion of appropriateness of action, of right or wrong.” Thus, just as he’d advised in 2003, “we can approach these questions with the rational standards we apply to others, or we can dismiss the historical and contemporary record on some grounds or other.”

It seems Washington’s choosing to continue the recreation of ancient myths and children’s tails. In response to the San Bernardino tragedy, Obama said that, “we will succeed in this mission…we are on the right side of history. We were founded upon a belief in human dignity…equal in the eyes of God and equal in the eyes of the law…let’s make sure we never forget what makes us exceptional…freedom is more powerful than fear…God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.” Lastly, as the United States draws on every aspect of American power,” and as “we march forward,” especially in repayment for our investors and profiteers, and to wittingly beholden the “barbarians” of the world, a sour subject indeed, although terrifying to say the least, we continue to sew the ancient tails, and they continue thusly, evidently.


Russell Webster

Russell Webster is a student of philosophy, a freelance journalist, social critique, and activist who supports #BlackLivesMatter movement. Twitter: @russellwebster


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National Catholic Reporter

The US and the Rise of ISIS

Isis fighters parade in a commandeered Iraqi security forces armoured vehicle in Mosul. (Photograph: AP)

The rise of ISIS (also known as Daesh, ISIL, or the “Islamic State”) is a direct consequence of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. While there are a number of other contributing factors as well, that fateful decision is paramount.

Had Congress not authorized President George W. Bush the authority to illegally invade a country on the far side of the world that was no threat to us, and to fund the occupation and bloody counter-insurgency war that followed, the reign of terror ISIS has imposed upon large swathes of Syria and Iraq and the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, the Sinai, and elsewhere would never have happened.

Among the many scholars, diplomats, and political figures who warned of such consequences was a then-Illinois state senator named Barack Obama, who noted that a U.S. invasion of Iraq would “only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda” and other like-minded extremists.

It is ironic, then, that most of those who went ahead and supported the invasion of Iraq anyway are now trying to blame him for the rise of ISIS. These include Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, who was among the minority of Congressional Democrats to vote for war authorization. In an August 2014 interview in The Atlantic, she claimed that Obama’s refusal to get the United States more heavily involved in the Syrian civil war “left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.”

There are serious questions as to whether providing additional military support to some of the motley and disorganized local Syrian militias labeled “moderates” by Washington could have done much to prevent the takeover of parts of Syria by ISIS. It is a powerful organized force led by experienced veterans of the former Iraqi Army under Saddam Hussein and flush with advanced American weaponry captured from the new U.S.-organized army.


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Why the Gulf States, the Kurds, the Turks, the Sunnis, and the Shia Won’t Fight America’s War

President Barack Obama addresses the nation from the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, Sunday night, Dec. 6, 2016. In a rare Oval Office address, Obama vowed the United States would overcome a terror threat that has entered a “new phase” as he sought to reassure Americans shaken by recent attacks in Paris and California. (Photo: Saul Loeb, AP)

In the many strategies proposed to defeat the Islamic State (IS) by presidential candidates, policymakers, and media pundits alike across the American political spectrum, one common element stands out: someone else should really do it. The United States will send in planes, advisers, and special ops guys, but it would be best — and this varies depending on which pseudo-strategist you cite — if the Arabs, Kurds, Turks, Sunnis, and/or Shias would please step in soon and get America off the hook.

The idea of seeing other-than-American boots on the ground, like Washington’s recently deep-sixed scheme to create some “moderate” Syrian rebels out of whole cloth, is attractive on paper. Let someone else fight America’s wars for American goals. Put an Arab face on the conflict, or if not that at least a Kurdish one (since, though they may not be Arabs, they’re close enough in an American calculus). Let the U.S. focus on its “bloodless” use of air power and covert ops. Somebody else, Washington’s top brains repeatedly suggest, should put their feet on the embattled, contested ground of Syria and Iraq. Why, the U.S. might even gift them with nice, new boots as a thank-you.

Is this, however, a realistic strategy for winning America’s war(s) in the Middle East?

The Great Champions of the Grand Strategy

Recently, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton openly called for the U.S. to round up some Arab allies, Kurds, and Iraqi Sunnis to drive the Islamic State’s fighters out of Iraq and Syria. On the same day that Clinton made her proposal, Bernie Sanders called for “destroying” the Islamic State, but suggested that it “must be done primarily by Muslim nations.” It’s doubtful he meant Indonesia or Malaysia.

Among the Republican contenders, Marco Rubio proposed that the U.S. “provide arms directly to Sunni tribal and Kurdish forces.” Ted Cruz threw his support behind arming the Kurds, while Donald Trump appeared to favor more violence in the region by whoever might be willing to jump in.

The Pentagon has long been in favor of arming both the Kurds and whatever Sunni tribal groups it could round up in Iraq or Syria. Variouspundits across the political spectrum say much the same.

They may all mean well, but their plans are guaranteed to fail. Here’s why, group by group.

The Gulf Arabs


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Russia Insider 

People Over Profits

Putin Has a Massive Corruption-Fighting Record You’ve Never Heard Of

Mr. Putin is tackling corruption, whereas his predecessor embodied it. But you wouldn’t know it from the Western press

I love Russia, but let’s not sugarcoat things.

After the widespread sociopathy of the 1990s—when people had to break all rules just to feed their families, and it was not unknown even for priests to steal from their flocks—a too-high proportion of the Russian population remains in a state of going through each day with little thought other than how to cheat and defraud its fellow man. Yet it is also a fact that you cannot lock up everyone (Всех не посадишь, as the Russians say) or you would have no country left.

The Kremlin’s solution has been to make conspicuous examples of some, while creating parallel structures to work around corrupt or incompetent state bodies and officials.

Probably the most prominent example of such a structure is the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, commonly known by its Russian initials, SK or SK RF, or less commonly by the acronym, Sledkom.

The SK traces its history to 2007—when authority to make criminal charges was taken away from Russia’s Prosecutor General—and has existed in its current form since early 2011.

Today, the Office of the Prosecutor General is responsible for prosecutions only.  It is the SK that investigates crimes and decides whom to bring to trial and on what charges.

Since it was brought out from under the Prosecutor General and made into an independent body reporting only to the President, the SK has been at the very center of the Kremlin’s anticorruption drive.


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Is This Real Life? Saudi Arabia Executes ‘Wizards’, But Condemns ‘Syrian Human Rights Violations’

A Saudi-proposed UN resolution expresses “outrage” at the worsening violence in Syria (fuelled by Saudi-backed extremists) that has left at least 250,000 dead

18 hours ago  

Obama greets a brave anti-wizard crusader
Obama greets a brave anti-wizard crusader

Close your eyes and think about “defenders of human rights”. What image bubbles up from your subconscious? If you answered “Saudi Arabia”, you probably represent one of the 115 countries that just passed a Saudi-proposed UN resolution condemning “Syrian human rights violations.”

Yes, Saudi Arabia —the oasis of human dignity where Harry Potter fans (widely considered the greatest dangers to world peace) are dealt with accordingly — is leading the fight against Syrian violence caused by Saudi-funded terrorists. Here are the terrible details:

A resolution presented by Saudi Arabia was adopted by a vote of 115 to 15, with 51 abstentions.

China, Iran and Russia were among the countries that voted against the measure that now goes to the full General Assembly.

The resolution expresses “outrage” at the worsening violence that has left at least 250,000 dead and displaced more than 12 million people. It stressed the need for accountability and encouraged the UN Security Council to take action, noting that the International Criminal Court (ICC) could play a role. An attempt last year to refer Syria to the ICC for war crimes was blocked by Russia, Syria’s ally, and China at the Security Council.


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the guardian

Cultural figures and human rights groups call for release of poet facing execution

Individuals and creative organisations join Amnesty International to demand Saudi Arabia overturn Ashraf Fayadh’s conviction for renouncing Islam

Palestinian poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh
Palestinian poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh is facing execution in Saudi Arabia for renouncing Islam, a charge he denies. Photograph: YouTube

Leading international cultural figures have joined human rights campaigners in calling for the release of Ashraf Fayadh, the Palestinian poet and artist facing execution in Saudi Arabia.

Chris Dercon, the director of Tate Modern, British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, historian Simon Schama, playwright David Hare, and Egyptian novelist and commentator Ahdaf Soueif are among the those calling for the death sentence imposed on Fayadh by a Saudi court last week to be overturned.

More than a dozen organisations for artists, writers, musicians and freedom of expression from the UK, North America and Africa – including Index on Censorship, literary association PEN International and the International Association of Art Critics – have also signed a joint statement condemning Fayadh’s conviction for renouncing Islam, a charge which he denies.

The statement, which will be delivered to the Saudi embassy in London on Friday, says: “We believe that all charges against him should have been dropped entirely, and are appalled that Fayadh has instead been sentenced to death for apostasy, simply for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and freedom of belief.”

Amnesty International launched an urgent action on Tuesday to lobby for Fayadh’s release, which denounced his lack of legal representation as a violation of international and Saudi law.

Schama said: “Anyone with a conscience should abhor the sentence and shun those responsible as inhuman.”


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Saudi Arabia executes 100th prisoner in 6 months

AFP Photo / STR
Saudi Arabia has beheaded a Syrian drug trafficker, rocketing the number of this year’s executions in the Kingdom to 100. This figure is already more than the 87 sentenced and put to death in the country during the whole of last year.

The execution took place on Monday in the northern region of Jawf. Syrian Ismael al-Tawm smuggled “a large amount of banned amphetamine pills into the kingdom,” the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement, as cited by AFP.

READ MORE: 89 in 5 months: Saudi Arabia continues executions

The man was sentenced to death according to the nation’s strict version of Sharia law, under which such crimes as murder, rape, armed robbery and drug trafficking are punishable by death. Public executions are mostly conducted by decapitating the accused with a sword.

The 100th execution has surpassed the 87 recorded by AFP in 2014, but is still some way below the highest figure of 192, recorded by the human rights group Amnesty International in 1995. The watchdog has been scathing of the Kingdom’s human rights record, saying they “fall far short” of global norms.

“Almost half of the executions carried out so far this year have been for drug-related offences, which don’t fall into a recognized international category of ‘most serious crimes,’ and the use of the death penalty for such offences violates international law,” a statement on Amnesty International’s website read.



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Obama Has Decimated His Own Party Unlike Any Other Modern President

913 lost legislature seats. 11 lost governorships. And a partridge in a pear tree.

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 02: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the Rutgers University-Newark S.I. Newhouse Center for Law and Justice on November 2, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. Obama spoke on the difficulties formerly-incarcerated people face when re-entering society after serving time in prison and new initiatives to help support those going through the process. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama (Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Last week concluded the final election of President Obama’s tenure that didn’t involve replacing him. After seven years in office and as many elections, the Democratic Party has taken a beating worse than the Republican Party took under George W. Bush.

On nearly every level of government, Democrats have lost more seats under Mr. Obama than under any other two-term modern president dating back to Dwight Eisenhower. (This includes the dual presidencies of John F. Kennedy/Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon/Gerald Ford.)

Under Mr. Obama, Democrats have lost 13 net Senate seats, 69 House seats, 11 governorships, a whopping 913 state legislature seats and 30 state legislature chambers, according to analysis from the Washington Post.

That makes Mr. Obama the overseer of the biggest loss in Senate seats, House seats and state legislature seats of any of the past seven two-term presidencies, the second biggest loser of state legislature chambers (Mr. Nixon/Mr. Ford lost 31 to Mr. Obama’s 30) and fourth biggest loser of governorships (tied with Bill Clinton).


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ISIS rooted in Arab Spring, gained momentum due to double standards – Russian Security Service head

© Stringer
Islamic State evolved from the Arab Spring and gained momentum due to the duplicity of certain world powers, the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has told a meeting of top security heads of ex-Soviet states (CIS) in Moscow on Wednesday.

There are world powers that are using Islamic State (IS, former ISIL/ISIS) as a kind of “terror battering ram” to ensure their interests in Asia and Africa, said FSB director Aleksandr Bortnikov. In pursuing their goals with IS, these countries have put the world on the verge of a global religious and civilizational crisis, he added.

The outcome of this global conflict could be disastrous, Bortnikov stressed

READ MORE: FSB chief urges international campaign to discredit ISIS ideology and leaders

Russia’s security agency chief also said that with parts of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan joining Islamic State, there is an imminent threat of the terrorists invading Central Asia.



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Hitler & The Mufti – The Official Transcript (November 28, 1941)

The following is the official record of the conversation between Adolf Hitler and Haj Amin al-Husseini in Berlin. You may note that while the Leader of National Socialist Germany seems to be committed to the battle against world Jewry,  the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem is only concerned with Arab and Palestinian’s interests as one would expect him to be.  In the entire text there is not a single reference to ‘Jew burning’ as Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu suggested yesterday.   

The Grand Mufti began by thanking the Fuhrer for the great honor he had bestowed by receiving him. He wished to seize the opportunity to convey to the Fuhrer of the Greater German Reich, admired by the entireArab world, his thanks for the sympathy which he had always shown for the Arab and especially the Palestinian cause, and to which he had given clear espressos in his public speeches. The Arab countries were firmly convinced that Germany would win the war and that the Arab cause would then prosper: The Arabs were Germany’s natural friends because they had the same enemies as had Germany, namely the English, the Jews, and the Communists. They were therefore prepared to cooperate with Germany with all their hearts and stood ready to participate in the war, not only negatively by the commission of acts of sabotage and the instigation of revolutions, but also positively by the formation of an Arab Legion. The Arabs could he more useful to Germany as allies than might he apparent at first glance, both for geographical reasons and because of the suffering inflicted upon them by the English and the Jews. Furthermore, they had had close relations with all Moslem nations, of which they could make use in behalf of the common cause. The Arab Legion would he quite easy to raise. An appeal by the Mufti to the Arab countries and the prisoners of Arab, Algerian,Tunisian, and Moroccan nationality in Germany would produce a great number of volunteers eager to fight. Of Germany’s victory the Arab world was firmly convinced, not only because the Reich possessed a large army, brave soldiers, and military leaders of genius, but also because the Almighty could never award the victory to an unjust cause.

In this struggle, the Arabs were striving for the independence and unity of Palestine, Syria and Iraq. They had the fullest confidence in the Fuhrer and looked to his hand for the balm on their wounds which had been inflicted upon them by the enemies of Germany.

The Mufti then mentioned the letter he had received from Germany, which stated that Germany was holding no Arab territories and understood and recognized the aspirations to independence and freedom of the Arabs, just as she supported the elimination of the Jewish national home.


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New York Times


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Credit Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

The claim by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel that a Palestinian persuaded Adolf Hitler to exterminate the Jews of Europe is outrageous.

It is outrageous because the Holocaust is far too terrible a crime to be exploited for political ends, especially in the state linked so closely to the tragedy of the Jewish people. It is outrageous because the only apparent purpose is to demonize the Palestinians and the current leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and to give the impression that their resistance is based solely on a longstanding hatred of the Jews, and not on their occupation by Israel or any other grievance. And it comes at a time of renewed tension in Israel, with a wave of lone-wolf attacks on Jews by knife-wielding Palestinians.

The Israeli prime minister’s assertion before the World Zionist Congress on Tuesday was not the first time he has alleged that Haj Amin al-Husseini, a grand mufti of Jerusalem, Arab nationalist and zealous foe of Zionism, was one of the instigators of the Holocaust. This time, however, Mr. Netanyahu went further and absurdly portrayed Mr. Husseini as the decisive voice in persuading a purportedly wavering Hitler to exterminate the Jews. While it is a fact that Mr. Husseini met with Hitler in 1941 in search of support, only a handful of fringe historians have claimed, with no evidence, that he planted the idea of the “final solution.”

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We’re responsible for Holocaust, not Palestinian mufti – Germany on Netanyahu remarks

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a joint news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany October 21, 2015. © Fabrizio Bensch
Germany has addressed comments made by Benjamin Netanyahu, in which the Israeli leader accused the World War II Palestinian grand mufti of inspiring the Holocaust. Berlin said it must never be forgotten that responsibility lies with Germany.

“All Germans know the history of the murderous race mania of the Nazis that led to the break with civilization that was the Holocaust,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said when asked about Netanyahu’s Tuesday remarks.

“This is taught in German schools for good reason: it must never be forgotten. And I see no reason to change our view of history in any way. We know that responsibility for this crime against humanity is German and very much our own,” he said on Wednesday, as quoted by Reuters.


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by , October 09, 2015

We have just observed the 14th anniversary of “Operation Enduring Freedom,” otherwise known as the war in Afghanistan. It is the longest war in US history, a conflict that never even came close to achieving its stated goal of stabilizing the area and eradicating the Taliban. The US-backed central government in Kabul today has no more control of the country than it did when first established, and the Taliban is on the march, retaking city after city and inching toward the capital with the inevitability of high tide at the beach. And while the pretext for this costly adventure – the capture of Osama bin Laden – has long since been rendered moot, his heirs and legatees not only persist, but they prosper – with our help.

For a long time that help arrived by indirection: the jihadists prospered in reaction to our intervention. As we lurched around Afghanistan, and then Iraq, kicking down doors, slaughtering civilians, and setting up torture chambers from Bagram to Abu Ghraib, we created the conditions for a global insurgency that had once been relatively localized. The classic theory of “blowback” operated with relentless predictability.

But then something else occurred: the so-called “Arab Spring.” You’ll recall that the War Party, in selling the invasion of Iraq to the American public, promised that our intervention would provoke a wave of sympathy throughout the Muslim world, and the Middle East would witness the arising of a movement demanding their version of “democracy” on a regional scale. President George W. Bush made a speech declaring that the US was leading a “global democratic revolution” that would incite a “fire in the mind” of the populace and soon put an end to the Bad Guys.


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cnn – george w bush “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists”

Obama Brags “Al-Qaeda Is Defeated” on Same Day US Death Toll Reaches 2,000 Deaths