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Selling lies and delusions | Middle East Monitor

Many argue that the Islamic State (IS) wouldn’t have taken northeast Syria as a safe haven if Washington had taken action to resolve the situation militarily with the Syrian regime in the early days of the Syrian crisis, before the threat of IS and Al-Nusra Front and the militant factions that adopted their school of thought spread; is this an accurate assumption? More importantly, is the door still open for an American “military resolution” that eliminates IS and overthrows the “tyrant”, as claimed by some who have outdone themselves in promoting delusions and believing the lies they told themselves?

We have two “fresh” examples of American military intervention in the Arab region, the first in Iraq and the second in Libya. What were the results of American military intervention and why do some assume that Syria would face a different fate if the military intervention is repeated for the third time in 10 years? [Read more]

Yemen’s Arab winter | Middle East Eye

Three and half years since popular uprisings swept the Middle East, bringing hundreds of thousands to the streets in protest, nearly as many again have now perished in civil war and sectarian strife, and millions of Arabs are on the move. From Tripoli to Cairo, governments are in crisis. Lacking popular support, they are unable to manage the corrupt and divided states they inherited. Coups are commonplace. Countries are being dismembered. As borders disappear, all pre-existing politics slide into irrelevancy.

Yemen, the poorest and youngest Arab Spring nation, appears to have fared better than some of its neighbours. In 2012, after mass protests and with the country nearing civil war, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had ruled Yemen for 33 years, agreed to stand down, handing power to his deputy, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, in exchange for immunity. Hadi, along with Saleh’s ruling party and a coalition of Islamists, set about “resolving the revolution through politics.” A national dialogue conference was held and a new constitution paved the way for elections and federalism. In the west, Yemen was chalked up as a success story. A “triumph of diplomacy,” it had escaped Syria’s awful fate. But in recent weeks cracks have appeared in the façade, revealing a nation divided. All the timetables, revised budgets and talk of progress in Sana’a mask a troublesome reality: the uprising has done grievous damage to the country’s already fragile social fabric. Today, rather than walking the path to democracy, Yemen looks like a country on the verge of collapse. [Read more]

Syrians build health care network in Turkey | Al Jazeera

On a dusty, shadeless hilltop in the Turkish border town of Kilis, Syrian mothers, toddlers, and elderly cram into a makeshift medical centre housed in an abandoned bakery. Some 500 patients will seek treatment here today, though officially the centre does not exist.

Known as Syria Polyclinic 1, the facility is part of an informal network of medical centres that have cropped up in Kilis to treat the nearly 80,000 Syrian refugees that now reside in and around the town.

“Over the last two years, [the number of Syrian refugees] has [reached] nearly the same as the number of Turks here in Kilis,” Dr Mohammed Assaf, general director at Syria Polyclinic 1, told Al Jazeera. “The [Turkish] state hospital and clinics cannot cope.” [Read more]

Punish Saudis who misbehave abroad | Al Arabiya

Two Kuwaiti lawmakers have called for revoking the passports of any Kuwaiti who harms the country’s reputation abroad amid embarrassing reports about Kuwaiti travelers making a nuisance and a spectacle of themselves in public.

In a news item appearing in a Gulf paper, Nabeel al-Fadl was quoted as saying that the interior minister should look seriously at those Kuwaitis tarnishing the country’s image abroad. Another member of parliament, Abdul Hamid Dashti, also called for a debate on this subject. [Read more]

Abbott on Iraq: ‘Doing nothing means leaving millions exposed to death’ | The Guardian

Tony Abbott has laid out the case for Australian military involvement in Iraq, telling parliament that a failure to act “means leaving millions of people exposed to death, forced conversion and ethnic cleansing”.

The prime minister said Australia had no intention to commit combat troops on the ground but was “not inclined to stand by in the face of preventable genocide either”.

Underlining the risks posed to Iraqis by the militant group known as Islamic State (Isis), Abbott said it was right for Australia to do what it prudently and proportionately could to “alleviate this suffering, to prevent its spread and to deal with its perpetrators”. [Read more]

To Beat ISIS, Focus on Syria | New York Times

The battlefield successes of ISIS in Iraq, and renewed American military action there, have turned attention back to Syria. It was there that ISIS originally ramped up its appeal while fighting against the Syrian government. Today, ISIS is headquartered in Syria and uses Syrian territory to regroup and resupply.

In Western capitals there is now a renewed debate about how to deal with Syria’s brutal ruler, Bashar al-Assad. The policy options being discussed have largely been boiled down to a binary choice: jump into bed with Mr. Assad to defeat ISIS, or double down on the halfhearted existing policy of building a strong Sunni opposition. [Read more]

The Syria canard: There is nothing to be done | Washington Post

The same voices who refused to recognize the growing threat of ISIS before it took root in Syria and Iraq now claim we have no viable options for confronting a fundamental threat to the United States and its allies. I suppose we could commit civilizational suicide and simply give up defending ourselves and our allies. There are, thankfully, a range of actions we can take.

We begin by recognizing the nature of the threat and the impossibility of “containing” the Islamic State, which the president seems to be talking about when he promises to “roll back,” but not destroy it. [Read more]


Related Articles – Michael’s Blog

A 33-year-old woman from Indiana faces decades in prison after she sought medical attention at a hospital as she was bleeding from a premature delivery. The case is just the latest example illustrating the real-world consequences of the harsh state laws that essentially criminalize pregnancy.

According to the charges being filed against her, Purvi Patel attempted to end her pregnancy last year by taking pills that she bought online from Hong Kong. The pills didn’t work, and Patel eventually delivered a premature baby at home. When she went to an emergency room to seek treatment after giving birth, the staff asked why she didn’t have an infant with her. She said her baby appeared to be dead, and she had wrapped it in a bag and placed it in a dumpster. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog

Hashmat Moslih recently wrote an opinion piece noting that the concept of human rights faces huge challenges in a culturally diverse global setting. He states: “It is impossible to develop a harmonised human rights philosophy that is not circular. At the heart of the issue of human rights runs the issue of justice and at the heart of justice runs the issue of happiness and it is argued that happiness is attained through acquiring a good life and a good life is one that insures everyone’s well-being. But how do we define well-being?”

There are many definitions of well-being, grounded in various cultural, religious, and historical contexts. Furthermore, as Moslih notes, there are contested views about what constitute fundamental rights, and whether we can ever consider these non-ideological. For example, there is by no means an international consensus about whether sexual and reproductive rights can be considered universal. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog

As it becomes increasingly clear that the West has no stomach for war with Russia over Ukraine, Ukraine must constantly remind Western politicians and their voters that it was former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign an association agreement with the European Union that sent Ukrainians onto the streets in protest in November 2013.

Ukrainians rejected the oligarchic kleptocracy that they shared with Russia for 23 years. Ukrainians want free elections, human rights and transparency that don’t exist in Russia. Ukrainians are Europeans and want to live in Europe, not post-Soviet hell. [Read more]


Related Articles – Michael’s Blog

The US government’s complicity in the Israeli siege of Gaza is no secret. Israel has the eleventh largest military in the world, which is in large part due to US military aid of over $3 billion annually. What remains in the shadows, however, is the alarming extent to which United States corporations profit from the Israeli war machine.

A prime example is Honeywell International Inc. Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade, a Canadian group, has documented a long-lasting and profitable economic relationship between Honeywell and the Israeli military, with many of their collaborations traceable directly to war crimes committed by the IDF. The 2010 attack in the waters outside Gaza against the “Freedom Flotilla,” in which 9 activists were killed in an attempt to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza through the Israeli blockade, was perpetrated by a Sa’ar V Corvette, built by another US company, Northrop-Grumman. Yet that ship was armed by Honeywell-built torpedoes. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog

An Islamist-allied militia group in control of Libya’s capital now guards the U.S. Embassy and its residential compound, a commander said Sunday, as onlookers toured the abandoned homes of diplomats who fled the country more than a month ago.

An Associated Press journalist saw holes left by small-arms and rocket fire dotting the residential compound, reminders of weeks of violence between rival militias over control of Tripoli that sparked the evacuation.

The breach of a deserted U.S. diplomatic post — including images of men earlier swimming in the compound’s algae-filled pools – likely will reinvigorate debate in the U.S. over its role in Libya, more than three years after supporting rebels who toppled dictator Muammar Qadhafi. It also comes less than two weeks before the two-year anniversary of the slaying of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog

More Americans than ever believe the economy is rigged in favor of Wall Street and big business and their enablers in Washington. We’re five years into a so-called recovery that’s been a bonanza for the rich but a bust for the middle class. “The game is rigged and the American people know that. They get it right down to their toes,” says Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Which is fueling a new populism on both the left and the right. While still far apart, neo-populists on both sides are bending toward one another and against the establishment.

Who made the following comments? (Hint: Not Warren, and not Bernie Sanders.)

A. We “cannot be the party of fat cats, rich people, and Wall Street.”

B. “The rich and powerful, those who walk the corridors of power, are getting fat and happy…”

C. “If you come to Washington and serve in Congress, there should be a lifetime ban on lobbying.”

D. “Washington promoted moral hazard by protecting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which privatized profits and socialized losses.”

E. “When you had the chance to stand up for Americans’ privacy, did you?”

F. “The people who wake up at night thinking of which new country they want to bomb, which new country they want to be involved in, they don’t like restraint. They don’t like reluctance to go to war.” [Read more] – Michael’s Blog

In Britain, malaise is afoot. After news hit that a gang of Pakistani men sexually abused 1,400 girls in one northern town—the fifth such group of Pakistani or Muslim heritage to materialize in just four years—one question lingers: are grooming rings endemic within certain cultures?

These rings—groups of men who befriend and establish emotional connections with children as a precursor to sexual abuse and/or trafficking—aren’t only rife in the UK. In Australia, a group of Muslim youths were convicted of gang raping a series of teenagers. Two years later, in the same country, four Pakistani brothers and their Nepalese friend were found guilty of sexually abusing nearly 20 women. Three of those siblings were already in jail for rape by the time the trial came around. And in the US, 30 men from Somalia, a predominantly Muslim country, were tried for recruiting young girls across three states and trafficking them for sex. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog

Police in Columbus, Indiana, are investigating three acts of vandalism against local churches that unfolded Saturday night — a series of crimes that constitute an apparent first in the city.

But it’s the messages that were spray painted on the buildings that have some wondering if the acts were pranks or part of a more serious and pointed effort to deliver a message to Christian leaders and parishioners, according to WTHR-TV.

Consider the message painted on Saint Bartholomew’s Catholic Church. It read, “Infidels!” and included a Koranic reference: “Qur’an 3:151.” [Read more] – Michael’s Blog

Most antiquities scholars think that the New Testament gospels are “mythologized history.”  In other words, they think that around the start of the first century a controversial Jewish rabbi named Yeshua ben Yosef gathered a following and his life and teachings provided the seed that grew into Christianity.

At the same time, these scholars acknowledge that many Bible stories like the virgin birth, miracles, resurrection, and women at the tomb borrow and rework mythic themes that were common in the Ancient Near East, much the way that screenwriters base new movies on old familiar tropes or plot elements. In this view, a “historical Jesus” became mythologized. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog


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