Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Exposed in French press: how French diplomacy awarded la legion d’honneur the for Muhammad bin Nayif

"La remise de la légion d’honneur au prince héritier saoudien, un débat plié en moins de six heures."

Worthless Transparency International Reports on corruption

Those reports are really worthless. They are based on public opinion polls (and those polls are contracted to different firms in every country--and in Lebanon it was conducted by Statistics Lebanon which has no credibility in polls whatsoever).  Furthermore, when you judge corruption on the basis of public opinion polls, certainly the more open countries like Lebanon will score higher on corruption index than closed societies like Oman or Saudi Arabia, where people are afraid to express their perceptions freely.  Also, the last report excluded Gulf regimes.  Did they fund the study, I wonder?

Saudi regime is only guilty of inattentiveness

"Unfortunately, the effort to interdict financial flows from Saudi Arabia weakened substantially after 2011, when parts of North Africa and the Middle East became engulfed in the so-called Arab Spring. The chaos that ensued fueled the spread of radical Sunnism – a trend to which Saudi inattentiveness surely contributed. " (thanks Basim)

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Transparency International and judging corruption in the Arab world

Notice that for pure political reasons aligned with US foreign policy interests, Gulf regimes usually get good marks and the reason is that they exclude from the judgement the fact that ruling families help themselves to the wealth of the nation.  Corruption for TI is basically whether there is corruption in the bureaucracy but not in the state itself.  

When I really really want to concentrate, I wear this hat. It really helps.

"The Isolator is a bizarre helmet invented in 1925 that was used to help increase focus and concentration by rendering the wearer deaf, piping them full of oxygen, and limiting their vision to a tiny horizontal slit. The Isolator was invented by Hugo Gernsback, editor of Science and Invention magazine, member of “The American Physical Society,” and one of the pioneers of science fiction."

Syrian rebels hit a hospital but there is no outcry and no campaign and no headlines: it is mentioned--if at all--in passing

"Rebel fighters launched an assault in Syria's divided northern city of Aleppo on Tuesday and fired rockets on a hospital".

a massacre (of sheep) in Beirut

This is how Sa`d Hariri was met when he entered a Beiruti quarter.

What is Huffington Post Arabic really about? Promoting the interests of all Arab regimes except one

Basically, the Moroccan blogger on Huffington Post Arabic promotes the Moroccan King, and the Jordanian blogger promotes the Jordanian King, etc.

Saudi media propagandists want all Arab journalists who don't follow the Saudi line to be fired

Jamal Khashuji is only one of many Saudi regime journalists who want all Arab journalists who don't follow the line of Saudi regime to be fired.

"Only successful people can afford a CV of failure"

"I’m sure this was aimed at a small group of his students, to demonstrate that even successful professors get papers rejected by academic journals, but I suspect that the overwhelmingly positive reaction the CV has received in academic circles and on social media tells us more about our idealised view of success than the reality.
Those who are most successful have an understandable interest in emphasising that they got there through old-fashioned grit, persevering in the face of failure, never letting setbacks beat them down. Quite frankly, it’s a far more attractive way to package success than sharing a story of how it just happened to fall in your lap or how your innate abilities are so brilliant that they effortlessly propelled you to the top. Our favourite success story goes: sure, I may have some natural advantages, but I’m essentially like you, I just worked really hard to get where I am."

War crimes by both sides in Syria: both bomb hospitals.

So today, there will not be an international campaign.  There won't be cries by Western media and human rights organizations.  I visited the page of HRW director to see if he would say one word about the bombing of a children hospital today by moderate Syrian rebels, and he had nothing about it. He was busy defending the case of the Pakistani doctor who worked for the CIA and gave fake vaccinations in order to obtain information for the CIA.  There is no crime that the Syrian regime commits that Syrian rebels don't commit (with the exception of air bombardment but only because rebels don't have planes yet), and there is no crime that Syrian rebels commit that Syrian regime would not commit.  

Monday, May 02, 2016

Michael Moore's new movie, "Where to Invade Next"

From comrade Joseph Massad: "In his recent mediocre film “Where to invade next,” Michael Moore visits Tunisia and interviews Rached Ghannushi. Moore asks Ghannushi about his party stepping down from power voluntarily when they did not have to. Ghannushi responds by saying “power is not everything in life” and that “peace [silm] is preferable to power.” The last sentence however is translated in the film as “PRAYER comes before power.” Then Moore asks him if he requires “women to cover their heads here?." Ghannushi explains that this is a matter of “personal choice” and not public policy and that it is none of the State’s business. Ghannushi added that if his wife were to consult him on the matter, he would recommend she cover her head.” The last sentence  is translated in the film as “I personally tell my wife to cover her head."

Is it too much to expect Western correspondents to know the languages of the country that they are covering?

"I was traveling with my translator..."  Was there a chef, bodyguard, and stringers?

Declan Walsh reports from Aleppo on Syria: so much better than Anne Barnard and Liz Sly in Beirut

This article is so much more balanced and even-handed (in the sense that it sees war criminals on both sides, and not in the sense that it absolves any side from war crimes) than the articles by Western correspondents crowded in Beirut.  Is it because he is reporting from the ground in Syria and not from nice apartments in Hamra street or Jumayzah?  It is possible. This is what is key in any balanced reporting on Syria: 1) it should show that there is support for both sides among the Syrians, whether we like it or not; 2) that both sides are war criminals and deceivers. 3) that there are civilians on both sides of the divide who are being shelled indiscriminately.  That is all.

How Palestinian children are seen by Israeli occupiers

"“They don’t see a small girl,” Ms. Michaeli added. “They think of them as terrorists.”"

little girls in Israeli jails

"“Mom, I didn’t even cry once!” Dima boasted upon being released on Sunday after serving about half of her four-and-a-half-month sentence.  “Not even for us?” asked her mother, Sabha, 47.  “Only under the covers,” she replied. “At night.”"

Another low for Diaa Hadid: she reports on the menstruation of a 12-year old girl

In this article and I would not even cite the passage.  Can you imagine if the girl in question was an Israeli? Can you imagine the uproar?  

From my own standpoint, Naz Shah does not belong to our pro-Palestine cause

I have been looking at her record.  I do believe that we in the pro-Palestine community should hold the highest standards in stemming out and excluding any anti-Semitic views or expressions from our movement.  Palestine cause is based on justice and humanity and thus anti-Semitism is intrinsically incompatible with the movement.  Now Shah got in trouble for posting a map which had been posted by Norman Finkelstein.  But Herzl and other early Zionists considered other locations besides Palestine for statehood for Jewish people. So the consideration of a Jewish state in a location other than Palestine is part of the early Zionist history.  But I asked a British comrade if there is more, and he wrote: "During the 2014  war on Gaza she posted to Facebook a link to an article condemning the war which had a poll asking if readers agree or disagree. The poll was running in favour of "disagree" (the website had been under cyber attack) and she posted it saying "the Jews are rallying" to the poll."  That last comment by her is very problematic and can't be supported or justified and reveal an anti-Jewish mentality.  

Livingstone and his claims about pro-Zionist Nazi policies

""The Haavara agreement lasted from 1933 until the start of the second world war, but the British Labour endorsement of Zionist colonialism began before the 1920’s and has continued to this day. So why is Ken Livingstone and his ilk keen to drag out Zionist collusion with elements in the Nazi regime yet never broach the subject of the British Labour party’s actual facilitation of the Zionist colonial project in the same period?  It wasn’t the Nazis who issued the Balfour Declaration – it was Great Britain. Nazis didn’t have 20,000 soldiers in Palestine in the 1930s, the British did. It wasn’t Nazi Stormtroopers that proudly walked round with smashed Palestinian brains in their tobacco tins, it was Tommy. It wasn’t the Nazis that denied and crushed the Palestinian request for representative democracy in the 1930s, it was Great Britain. When Palestine was ethnically cleansed it happened under British Labour party watch, not Nazis. These are facts Livingstone and his wing of the British Labour Party could do well to note if they are to avoid accusations of anti-Semitism because let’s face it, the only truth Zionists have (or most likely, appropriated) is that some in the anti-Zionist movement are nothing but anti-Semites. A truth Ken Livingstone has provided credence to over the last week."" (thanks Nu`man)

PS I disagree with the author here: allying with the Nazis and braking the Jewish boycott of Nazi Germany was not a minor episode.  

Of course, Ken Livingstone is right: Hitler pursued a pro-Zionist policies while committing to his genocidal anti-Semitic crimes

Of course, the Nazi regime pursued pro-Zionist policies. That is in the historical record.  The academic literature on the matter leaves no doubt, and it shows that German Middle East experts were arguing against the pro-Zionist policies of the regime, while the top echelons of the German government insisted on the pro-Zionist policies. I have summed up the situation here.   In one speech from 1920, Hitler said: "Jews should seek their human rights in their own state in Palestine, where they belong" (p. 28 in Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question).  In the mind of many Nazis, Zionism and anti-Semitism go hand in hand, just as Zionism and anti-Semitism go hand in hand in the minds of many evangelical Christians.  

Mujtahid already mentioned that UAE is funding a blitz of propaganda on behalf of Muhammad bin Salman

"Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the ambitious, impatient 30-year-old grandson of King Salman ..." (thanks Basim)

When an Israeli terrorist soldiers want to comment about academic literature

This terrorist Israeli soldier who brags about being part of the Israeli occupation army, and of sneaking into Lebanon with a Canadian passport claims this in his book PumpkinFlowers" (which was rarely revised in US) that :“My intention here is not to get bogged down in historical explanation. I would rather suggest the title of a comprehensive history of these years of the Lebanon 'security zone' in the 1990s, for those interested in background, and continue Avi's story uninterrupted; unfortunately no such history has been written." (p. 19).  In fact, Mundhir Jabir of the Lebanese University published an encyclopedic account of the "security zone", and I had reviewed it for the Journal of Palestine Studies. (thanks James)

Flash: read all about it. SkyNews obtained from the neutral Free Syrian Army "documents" which prove beyond the ISIS collaboration with Syrian regime

The propaganda campaign of Syrian rebels have intensified in recent days.  Whenever the situation on the battle field don't go for the Syrian rebels, the propaganda campaign (through the complaint Western media) only intensify.  Take this story of the captured documents "proving" the collaboration between ISIS and Syrian regime. The story is now carried all over Western media (just google it).  So look at the most damning of the document shown here.  In fact, the translation is selective--assuming that this is authentic.  But the full translation actually says: "to prepare and ship some of them for Qalamun for the needs of the brothers to them to bombard the fortresses of Rafidah and Nusayris (perforative words for Shi`ites and `Alawites)".  That is what it says.

Sudanese artist, Khalid AlBahih on Obama


Don't you like it when the Pentagon investigates itself by itself and finds itself always innocent of war crimes? This is military justice at its best really

"Pentagon: 2015 strike on Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan was not a war crime"

Do you know that US is supporting a Syrian rebel group whose leader had killed his sister in an honor killing?

The Nur Id-Din Zanaki group, was led by Shaykh Tawfiq Shihab Ad-Din, who had killed his sister in an honor killing before the war.  The group has been supported by US, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

ِAnne Barnard claims that Nusrah Front has a minor presence in Aleppo

"Opposition groups and their international allies, as well as civil society organizations, say that while the Nusra Front has a small presence in Aleppo, it is a minor force compared to other insurgent groups."  So I asked a Western correspondent who has been covering Syria from Syria and from elsewhere in the region, and he/she wrote: "nusra is a major force. they sent a lot of reinforcements into east aleppo city before the cessation took hold and then as fighting escalated in past weeks they sent more reinforcements  of course there are many other groups that dont seem to object to nusra, like the ikhwanji turkish backed faylaq sham and a variety of other groups".

PS He/she later wrote: "yeah just confirmed from inside there, nusra is the dominant force. though fa'istakim is still a player, and they were sort of among the moderates even though they took money from 'ar'ur and others. i dont know how you can possibly classify all these groups".

The menace of barrel bombs: look for the Zionist pioneers of terrorism

So who pioneered the use of barrel bombs? You guessed it: the Zionist terror gangs

Chapter 7 of "The Case for Palestine: An International Law Perspective"  (originally published in 1990 as "Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice") p. 59:


"When they attacked Arab towns, Haganah units used barrels filed with explosives, a device that had been developed by the Irgun.(32) As explained by Leo Heiman, a Haganah officer, they sent these barrel bombs "crashing into the walls and doorways of Arab houses" to encourage the residents to flee. The bombs "exploded with a furious sound like an erupting volcano, sending up sheets of flame and pillars of nauseating smoke." Then the Haganah personnel brought up jeeps with loudspeakers which broadcast tape-recorded horror sounds. "These included shrieks, wails, and anguished moans of Arab women, the wail of sirens and clang of fire-alarm bells, interrupted by a sepulchral voice calling out in Arabic: 'Save your souls, all ye faithful! Flee for your lives! The Jews are using poison gas and atomic weapons. Run for your lives in the name of Allah'"(33)

(32) R. D. Wilson, Cordon and Search: With 6th Airborne Division in Palestine (1949),
 pp. 144–147.

(33) Leo Heiman, All's Fair . . .," Marine Corps Gazette (June 1964), p. 37, at p. 39."

Zahran `Allush Syrian rebel leaders discuss million of dollars


US media does not notice: the King of Jordan has increased his dictatorial powers

"On April 27 the draft amendments passed the lower house of Parliament by an overwhelming margin. They are sure to sail through the upper house, whose members are handpicked by the king. State-run media says the changes “strengthen the principle of separation of powers,” but this claim is too risibly thin to be called a smokescreen.
It is, in fact, a bizarre instance of greater transparency. The constitutional changes effectively acknowledge that Jordan is an autocracy, not the developing constitutional monarchy that the king markets to Western audiences eager to find a likable, “moderate” ally in the region. Perhaps ‘Abdallah thinks that no one will notice: With civil wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria, and President Barack Obama struggling to patch up relations with the Gulf Arabs while members of Congress (and other nations) call for suspending sales to Saudi Arabia of arms being used to commit war crimes in Yemen, Jordan’s amendments have attracted almost no international attention.
Let’s take further stock of ‘Abdallah’s critical four years. He told Jon Stewart in 2012 that Jordanians were politically immature, but rather than encouraging a vibrant public sphere, he portrayed Jordanians as politically ignorant, not understanding what it means to be positioned to the right, left or center. Jordan has numerous political parties, however; it is just that the regime treats them as a nuisance rather than a resource to be developed. Many parties boycotted the 2013 parliamentary elections as illegitimate because the electoral law and and the boundaries of electoral districts ensure that regions loyal to the royal court are overrepresented in Parliament. A new electoral law passed in March (ahead of the contests slated for 2017) scrapped the controversial one-vote system that significantly disadvantaged the political parties, but failed to address the skewed districting. Jordan’s elected Council of Deputies, the lower house of Parliament, has always been constrained in its freedom of action, as the royally appointed upper house, the Council of Nobles, can veto any of its legislation. The constitutional amendments formally sign away the last of the elected assembly’s nominal prerogatives of note."

What John Kerry said today

This has been all over Arab media today:  Kerry: I agreed with Saudi foreign minister on the return of the Syrian opposition to negotiations after the cease-fire."  I kid you not.  So the two foreign minister decide on behalf of the national and sovereign opposition.

"كيري: اتفقت مع وزير الخارجية السعودي على عودة المعارضة السورية إلى المفاوضات بعد وقف إطلاق النار."

Wael Ghonim: "[May God] Curse your soul, o Bashshar"

As you remember, Wael Ghonim, announced the formation of a new dialogue website which is dedicated to "civilized" and "civic" communication.  He inaugurated the website with an exchange with his idol, Thomas Friedman--kid you not.  For that, I was rather surprised today when I saw that he wrote in Arabic on Twitter "[May God] Curse your soul, o Bashshar".  It is his business of course to express himself in any way possible but I was surprised because he rarely comments on Arab affairs.  He certainly NEVER ever writes a word about Palestine, and he never criticizes Netanyahu, politely or impolitely.  Furthermore, Ghonim was extremely late in criticizing Sisi, and in fact had supported the Egyptian military and assured Egyptians that they had no interest in seizing power, and called on Egyptian to refrain from protesting.  Incidentally, recently Obama said that he favors Arabs like Ghonim (he called him "the google guy") to rule the Arab world.  I am sure Thomas Friedman would not disagree.

PS He decorates his Twitter page with a quotation from...Winston Churchill.  Don't you like it when the natives derives their wisdom from their former colonial masters?  

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashuqji, learning carefully


"This 28-Year-Old Is Running For Congress To Try To Destroy U.S.-Saudi Relations"

"Even the Saudis’ tacit tolerance of Israel, a product of the two countries’ shared anxiety about Iran, can be sacrificed, he argues. “I don’t think anyone in Israel really trusts Saudi Arabia … [and while] America is Israel’s godfather, it doesn’t mean Israel does everything right.”"

An exhaustive investigation by comrade Asa Winstanley: "How Israel lobby manufactured UK Labour Party’s anti-Semitism crisis"

"But an investigation by The Electronic Intifada has found that some of the most prominent stories about anti-Semitism in the party are falsified.
The Electronic Intifada can reveal that a key player in Labour’s “anti-Semitism crisis” covered up his involvement in the Israel lobby.
Most Labour members so accused are in reality being attacked for expressing opinions in favor of Palestinian human rights and particularly for supporting the boycott of Israel.
Labour activists, many of them Jews, have told The Electronic Intifada that false accusations of anti-Semitismare being used as a weapon against Corbyn by the party’s right-wing."

"Defending Israel, PEN says it can’t support ‘cultural boycotts of any kind’ — but it does!"

"This past week the writers’ organization PEN held its World Voices Festival in New York and one of its sponsors/”champions” was the Israeli government. More than 200 writers had urged PEN to give back that money, among them Marilyn Hacker, Junot Diaz, Alice Walker and Richard Ford, citing Israel’s “decades-long denial of basic rights to the Palestinian people, including the frequent targeting of Palestinian writers and journalistsrecord on Palestinian writers.”
But PEN’s director Suzanne Nossel dug in. She told activists that while there are “legitimate concerns” about Israel’s record, she wouldn’t give back the money; and she “asserted that there is a strong reaction against the word ‘boycott.’”
In fact, in March, when the fight began, PEN’s World Voices leaders, Colm Toibin and Jakab Orsos, issued a grandiloquent statement saying PEN is against boycott as a tool.
When confronted with nuanced and complex issues, PEN and PWVF must always fall on the side of maximum protections for free expression. With that guiding principle in mind, PEN does not and cannot subscribe to cultural boycotts of any kind—which impede individual free expression—no matter the cause.
Well, not so fast. Electronic Intifada’s Charlotte Silver reports that Nossel supported a boycott of Iran in 2006:
Writing on Democracy Arsenal, a website that she founded, Nossel suggested a “sports boycott that would exclude soccer-crazed Iran from the World Cup, akin to what was done for apartheid South Africa and [Slobodan] Milosevic’s Serbia.”
And here’s another, more recent example. Last week PEN tweeted that Enrique Iglesias should boycott Azerbaijan because of all the political prisoners in its jails. At the same time a PEN official signed a letter to Enrique Iglesias urging the pop star not to play Azerbaijan because of its human rights record."

Barrel bombs and gas canisters

In the conflict between barrel bombs and gas canisters I refuse to take sides; or I oppose both fiercely. 

Workers' Day

It is embarrassing.  The country in which Labor Day started is the only country in the world that does not celebrate Workers Day.  We call it Labor Day to imply that the work of the billionaires is as important as the work of laborers.  But then again: we fear the virus of communism if we celebrate May 1st.

Saudi regime punishes a Saudi student for her views on religion

"Haifa Alshamrani, 29 and her husband Abdullah, 36, have filed for asylum after a claiming they were threatened by Saudi officials in the UK. Glasgow MP Patrick Grady said his door is “always open” to the couple, who came to Glasgow last year with their two young children. Mrs Alshamrani had been hoping to complete a pre-medical course at Glasgow University, but her scholarship from the Saudi Government was withdrawn.  The family claim it is because Mr Alshamrani refused to help Saudi students in Preston with religious activities, and say they were not told why the funding had been withdrawn. The couple now hope to claim asylum in the UK with their children Mohammed, 10, and Gadah, seven, as they fear persecution when they return to Saudi Arabia. Mrs Alshamrani is an atheist after leaving Wahhabism, an orthodox version of Islam, when she married her agnostic husband.They are concerned their non-religious beliefs will not be tolerated at home."

Saturday, April 30, 2016

FLASH: Huffington Post removed an article after posting it because it was critical of the Qatari regime

Did I not tell you that seems to be some deal between the Qatari regime and Huffington Post especially that the Arabic version of Huffington is a mere crude and vulgar propaganda outlet of the Qatari regime.  Here is the article that was removed.

Corrupt Iraqi politicians are fleeing the country in droves


Syrian regime TV correspondent

That woman should be shamed on an international scale. Taking selfies with dead corpses is a new low among the war journalism of Syrian conflict.

An arrest warrant for Lebanese Maronite priest while Lebanese government and church protects him

"Mansour Labaky se présente comme un défenseur de plus faibles et des opprimés. Oui mais voilà, à l'heure où l'Eglise française est secouée par plusieurs scandales de pédophiles, un mandat d'arrêt vient d'être émis à l'encontre de ce prêtre, qui a dirigé de 1991 à 1998 un orphelinat pour enfants libanais à Douvres-la-Délivrande dans le Calvados, révèle Normandie-actu, confirmant les poursuites annoncées par «La Croix».Aujourd'hui âgé de 76 ans, le prêtre d'origine libanaise fait l'objet d'une enquête ouverte par le parquet de Caen.
L'enquête a été confiée aux gendarmes de la section de recherches de Caen.

Une plainte pour viols et agressions sexuelles sur mineure de moins de 15 ans par personne ayant autorité a été déposée au tribunal de la ville. Deux autres victimes présumées ont dénoncé des faits similaires, sans se constituer encore partie civile. "

Reactionary kooky clerics of the world, unite

Christian and Muslim clerics unite for censorship in Jordan.

Human Rights Watch director calls on the US to let Al-Qa`idah in Syria prevail

Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth)
By fixating on Nusra presence, US invites devastating attacks on Aleppo w/o admitting it.