Russia’s Role in Preventing the Genocide of the Syrian Christians

Christians faced outward and joined hands in a circle to protect a Muslim group of protesters as they prayed in Egypt. Christians and Muslims in the M.E. are NOT the enemies the western media would have us believe.

journal-neo.org/2021/04/03

Until very recently, the policies of a number of Western states have practically done nothing to put an end to the genocide of Christians in Syria.

It was clear from the onset of the conflict that the fall of the regime of Bashar al-Assad would have inevitably resulted in the complete extermination of Christian and Alawite communities, as disparate groups of the so-called “moderate opposition” were in no position to create a strong government to protect religious minorities.

Western leaders were fully aware of the fact that if their demand about Assad stepping down was fulfilled, this would trigger a new wave of genocide against Christians.

And they were quite willing to see it through and witness the carnage firsthand.

The fact that the problem of Christians was of little concern to Washington is evidenced by the reports published in the American media.

Those demonstrate the reluctance of the United States to let Christian refugees in.

Thus, according to the annual report of the US Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration that was issued in 2015, 97% of all Syrian refugees allowed to enter the US were Muslims, while only 53 Syrian refugees who professed Christianity were allowed to cross the border.

Mind you, by that year a third of the entire Syrian Christian population had already left the country.

The war in Syria has led to a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions.

According to UNHCR, nearly half a million people have perished, and more than a half of the entire population – some 12 million people was forcefully misplaced.

The better part of those people have taken refuge in neighboring countries-Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

About a million people tried to reach Europe, starting the largest exodus since the Second World War! A whole generation of children was born in exile.

Therefore, it is not surprising that one of the principal goals of Russia’s military support to Syria was the liberation from radical Islamists of the territories that were traditionally occupied by Christian communities.

Due to the active steps undertaken by the Russian military attempts at perpetuating genocide against Christians were brought to a screeching halt.

Moreover, conditions were created for refugees to return home and considerable support was provided to enable restoration of peace that Christian communities used to enjoy in Syria.

It was Russia that played a key role in preventing new acts of genocide against the Christian population of northeastern Syria.

Since the very first day of the Syrian conflict, Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church have consistently called on the international community to consolidate its efforts in a bid to provide assistance to the people of Syria.

When it became obvious that one of the most important tasks on the way to peaceful life was the restoration of the destroyed infrastructure, the Russian Orthodox Church managed to rally both Christians and Muslims all across Russia to facilitate this goal.

Thus in August 2013, it sent 1,320,407 dollars to the Patriarch of Antioch that were collected with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill across the churches of the Russian Orthodox Church.

In 2017, on the basis of the Council for Cooperation with Religious Associations under the President of Russia, an Inter-religious working group was established to provide humanitarian assistance to the population of Syria, where both Christian and Muslim communities of Russia were represented.

With the assistance of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations, the Russian center for reconciliation of the warring parties delivered humanitarian aid to Christian settlements in the Homs governorate, and at the request of the Antiochian Orthodox Church – to Christian villages in the governorates of Hama and Idlib. 

With the participation of Russian specialists the monastery of Holy Thecla was brought back to peaceful life in the governorate of Damascus.

In a short period of time, the working group has successfully concluded a number of other humanitarian projects.

The significant role that Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church played in the protection of Christians in Syria is admitted by a number of prominent Western media sources, including The Washington Post.

Reverend Franklin Graham, an influential figure in the West and a son of the popular American preacher Billy Graham, would repeatedly stress the role that Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church played in saving Christians in Syria in his interviews.

However, Moscow would carry on taking consistent diplomatic steps to protect the interests of Christian communities in other parts of the world.

In particular, in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, that is controlled by Azerbaijan these days.

With the active participation of the Russian Orthodox Church, efforts are being made to draw the attention of the international community to the problems of Christian communities in Africa.

Today, it can be safely stated that the painstaking efforts that were undertaken to preserve Syria as one of the founding stones of the Muslim world were not in vain, although initially this country was, as you already know, the cradle of Christian civilization.

And Russia played a major role in saving this example of interreligious harmony from disintegration and subsequent self-destruction, which would trigger similar processes in a number of other states across the Middle East.

Are Zionist Terrorists a Protected Species?

Will Zionists be able to run the beautiful Earth into eternal damnation, or will Gentiles be able to overcome the evil?

It’s as if, over the last few decades, the term Semite has been hi-jacked to exclusively reference people who observe the Jewish faith and even includes white European Jews,  most of whom are unlikely to be able to trace their ancestry back to any of the historically Semitic ethnic, cultural or racial groupings.

Flashback from 2018
In the middle of the last century there was such a thing as Zionist Terrorism but today, criticizing Zionism is considered anti-Semitic.

Given that Zionism is an ideology supported by many non-Semites, you do have to question why challenging this ideology is considered anti-Semitic at all?

According to Wikipedia, Zionismis both ‘an ideology and nationalist movement’ but it is never described as a religion or a peculiar trait of a specific racial group.

Of course that brings me neatly onto the question of how anti-Semitism has become a label that exclusively references people who observe the Jewish faith.

Technically, the term ‘Semite’ references a specific Semitic speaking, ethnic, cultural, racial group that lived throughout the ancient Near East, including the Levant, Mesopotamia, the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa from the third millennium BC.

In fact, according to Britannica, the term ‘Semites’ “came to include Arabs, Akkadians, Canaanites, Hebrews, some Ethiopians, and Aramaean tribes… Mesopotamia, the western coast of the Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Horn of Africa”

It’s as if, over the last few decades, the term Semite has been hi-jacked to exclusively reference people who observe the Jewish faith and even includes white European Jews,  most of whom are unlikely to be able to trace their ancestry back to any of the historically Semitic ethnic, cultural or racial groupings.

This then begs the questions that if most European Zionists are probably not even ethnically, culturally or racially Semitic, how has it become normalized to label any criticism of Zionism as anti-Semitic?

For that matter, as Zionism is effectively an ideology that supports white European colonial occupation of Palestinian Arab lands, why is criticizing white European Zionism considered anti-Semitic whilst the occupation and persecution of people who could actually trace their ethnicity, culture and racial grouping back to Semitic peoples not be considered anti-Semitic?

By the way, there’s also such a thing as Christian Zionism and Zionist Churches.

It turns out that some Christians believe that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land is prophecised in the bible and so some Christians see the Jewish return to Israel as a prerequisite for the second coming of Jesus.

So if Zionist ideology is not an exclusively Jewish doctrine then why is it anti-Semitic to criticize Zionism, or is criticizing Zionism both anti-Semitic and anti-Christian, at the same time, despite the fact that a good proportion of European Jews and Christians are unlikely to have any Semitic ancestry?

Isn’t it time we also recognized the fact that ‘Zionism’ is just white European colonialism and that the ‘State of Israel’ is effectively the last European colonial project, albeit born out of the desire of certain post-war European governments to come up with a solution to ‘the Jewish refugee problem’.

Of course Zionism meant something a little different back then.

British Pathé recently uploaded some historical footage to their youtube channel showing some documented incidents of Zionist terrorism leading up to the Nakba.

According to the British military at that time, the Zionists terrorist “threatened reign of terror” needed to be rooted out of Palestine.

According to Wiki, Zionist terrorism by Jewish paramilitary groups, like the Irgun, initially trained by the British Military during the 1st world war (which is why they often had possession of British weapons and uniforms), started back in the early 1920’s and even targeted British authorities and United Nations personnel, as well as Palestinian Arab fighters and civilians.

The aim of the Zionist terrorists was to gain control over land, immigration and, essentially, over Palestine. As well as attacks on personnel and civilians, they attacked domestic and commercial properties, government buildings and infrastructure.

1946. British military searches uncover hidden Zionist weapons stores containing British and German weapons.

Irgun militants started bombing Palestinian Arab civilian targets in 1938, while at the same time the British Mandatory authorities were working to disarm Palestinian Arabs and promising them that the British authorities would be imposing significant limits on Jewish immigration. No effort was made to disarm the Zionist militias.

The Haganah and Irgun Zionist militias only suspended terrorist activities against the British when Britain declared war against Nazi Germany in 1939.

However, other Zionist terrorist groups, like the Lehi, actually continued attacking the British throughout the 2nd world war.

At the same time the British were now training and equipping a new Zionist unit – the Palmach – to respond to any German offensive in the region.

The Irgun then resumed attacks on British soldiers and policemen immediately after the war was over. The Haganah and the Palmach militias would also actively join the Jewish Resistance Movement for a period of time.

Wiki lists a sequence of Zionist terrorist attackscommitted by the Irgun, Haganah and Lehi militias between June 1924 and September 1948…

  • June 30, 1924. Dutch Jew Jacob Israël de Haan was assassinated by Avraham Tehomi on the orders of Haganah leader Yitzhak Ben-Zvi for his anti-Zionist political activities and contacts with Arab leaders.
  • 1937–1939 During the later stages of the 1936-1939 Arab Revolt in Mandatory Palestine The Irgun conducted a campaign of violence against Palestinian Arab civilians resulting in the deaths of at least 250.
  • July 15, 1938. A bomb left in the vegetable market in Jerusalem by the Irgun injured 28.
  • July 25, 1938. The Irgun threw a bomb into the melon market in Haifa resulting in 49 deaths.
  • November 6, 1944. Lehi assassinated British minister Lord Moyne in Cairo, Kingdom of Egypt. The action was condemned by the Yishuv at the time, but the bodies of the assassins were brought home from Egypt in 1975 to a state funeral and burial on Mount Herzl.
  • 1944–1945. The killings of several suspected collaborators with the Haganah and the British mandate government during the Hunting Season.
  • Letter bombs sent to British officials, including foreign minister Ernst Bevin, by Lehi.
  • July 26, 1946. The bombing of British administrative headquarters at the King David Hotel, killing 91 people — 28 British, 41 Arab, 17 Jewish and 5 others. Around 45 people were injured. In the literature about the practice and history of terrorism, it has been called one of the most lethal terrorist attacks of the 20th century.
  • Railways and British military airfields were attacked several times.
    Workers clearing a train wreck on a railway line after explosives were detonated on a stationary freight train by Zionist terror groups
  • October 31, 1946. The bombing by the Irgun of the British Embassy in Rome. Nearly half the building was destroyed and 3 people were injured.
  • April 16, 1947. An Irgun bomb placed at the Colonial Office in London failed to detonate.
  • The woman arrested for planting the bomb, alias “Esther,” was identified as a Jewess claiming French nationality by the Scotland Yard unit investigating Jewish terrorist activities. The attack was linked to the 1946 Rome embassy bombing.
    1946. Bombing of Tel Aviv Area Security Office by Zionist groups in which several people died.
  • 14 June 1947. The Reuters office in Tel Aviv was raided by “Jewish terrorists.”
  • July 25, 1947. The Sergeants affair: When death sentences were passed on two Irgun members, the Irgun kidnapped Sgt. Clifford Martin and Sgt. Mervyn Paice and threatened to kill them in retaliation if the sentences were carried out. When the threat was ignored, the hostages were killed. Afterwards, their bodies were taken to an orange grove and left hanging by the neck from trees. An improvised explosive device was set. This went off when one of the bodies was cut down, seriously wounding a British officer.The bodies of Sgts Clifford Martin & Mervyn Paice, left hanging by their necks in an orange grove.
  • December 1947 – March 1948. Numerous attacks on Palestinian Arabs in the context of civil war after the vote of the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine.
  • 1947 Letter bombs sent to the Truman White House by Lehi.
  • January 5–6, 1948. The Semiramis Hotel bombing, carried out by the Haganah (or, according to some sources, Irgun) resulted in the deaths of 24 to 26 people.
  • April 1948. The Deir Yassin massacre carried out by the Irgun and Lehi, killed between 107 and 120 Palestinian villagers, the estimate generally accepted by scholars.
  • September 17, 1948 Lehi assassination of the United Nations mediator Folke Bernadotte, whom Lehi accused of a pro-Arab stance during the cease-fire negotiations.

 

In February 1947, the British announced their withdrawal from Palestine, passing arbitration over to the United Nations and leaving a powder keg behind. However, unlike the Palestinians, who had effectively been disarmed by the British, the Zionist malitias were, by now, well trained and well equipped, thanks to the British military.

As the UN voted in favour of the partition of Palestine on 30 November 1947, they effectively lit the powder keg and war ensued.

Jewish militias immediately launched various terrorist attacks. Over the coming months we would see a spree of bombing attacks by Zionist terrorists. A car bomb killed 20 people in Damascus, a lorry bomb in Jaffa’s Town Hall targeted the headquarters of the paramilitary Najjada and killed 15 people, the Semiramis Hotel in Jerusalem was bombed killing 24 people, a barrel bomb was rolled into a large group of civilians waiting for a bus at the Jaffa Gate and killed about 16 people, Ramla market was bombed killing 7 people and a garage in Haifa was bombed killing a further 30 people.

Then, in April, the terrorists moved to control the territory and committed numerous atrocities. Arabs in Tiberias, Safed, Haifa, Jaffa, Beisan and Acre and also in neighbouring villages were forced to flee their homes and during the Battle for Jerusalem most Arab villages along the Tel Aviv / Jerusalem corridor were completely destroyed.

Whichever side of the fence you sit on over the question of partition or who you believe should control Palestine, what no one can deny is the fact Zionism is not a religion, it does not represent any specific ethnic or cultural group, it is not an exclusively Jewish ideology and for many Zionist, it advocates ongoing terrorism, occupation and subjugation of an indigenous Semitic population.

So, the question we must all ask ourselves today is, why has Zionist terrorism been brushed under the carpet and how has Zionism morphed into a protected ideology, of which any criticism is instantly denounced as anti-Semitism?

The Zionist Plan for the Middle East

“The war on Iraq, the 2006 war on Lebanon, the 2011 war on Libya, the ongoing wars on Syria and Iraq, the war on Yemen, the process of regime change in Egypt, must be understood in relation to the Zionist Plan for the Middle East. Aside from a divided Iraq, which the Biden Plan also calls for, the Yinon Plan calls for a divided Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria.”

“Greater Israel”: The Zionist Plan for the Middle East – The Infamous “Oded Yinon Plan”. Introduction by Michel Chossudovsky

By Israel Shahak – Global Research

Global Research Editor’s Note

The following document pertaining to the formation of “Greater Israel” constitutes the cornerstone of powerful Zionist factions within the current Netanyahu government,  the Likud party, as well as within the Israeli military and intelligence establishment. (article first published by Global Research on April 29, 2013).

In recent developments, President Donald Trump has confirmed his support of Israel’s illegal settlements and his opposition to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which confirms the illegality of the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.  

According to the founding father of Zionism Theodore Herzl, “the area of the Jewish State stretches: “From the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates.” 

According to Rabbi Fischmann,  “The Promised Land extends from the River of Egypt up to the Euphrates, it includes parts of Syria and Lebanon.”

When viewed in the current context, the war on Iraq, the 2006 war on Lebanon, the 2011 war on Libya, the ongoing wars on Syria and Iraq, the war on Yemen, the process of regime change in Egypt, must be understood in relation to the Zionist Plan for the Middle East. 

The latter consists in weakening and eventually fracturing neighboring Arab states as part of an Israeli expansionist project. 

Bear in mind this design is not strictly a Zionist Plan, it is an integral part of US foreign policy, namely Washington’s intent to fracture and balkanize the Middle East.

“Greater Israel” consists in an area extending from the Nile Valley to the Euphrates. According to Stephen Lendman, “A near-century ago, the World Zionist Organization’s plan for a Jewish state included:

• historic Palestine;

• South Lebanon up to Sidon and the Litani River;

• Syria’s Golan Heights, Hauran Plain and Deraa; and

• control of the Hijaz Railway from Deraa to Amman, Jordan as well as the Gulf of Aqaba.

Zionist Jew waiting for the Palestinians to be cleared out.

Some Zionists wanted more – land from the Nile in the West to the Euphrates in the East, comprising Palestine, Lebanon, Western Syria and Southern Turkey.”

The Zionist project supports the Jewish settlement movement. More broadly it involves a policy of excluding Palestinians from Palestine leading to the eventual annexation of both the West Bank and Gaza to the State of Israel.

Greater Israel would create a number of proxy States. It would include parts of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the Sinai, as well as parts of  Iraq and Saudi Arabia. (See map).

According to Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya in a 2011 Global Research article,   The Yinon Plan was a continuation of Britain’s colonial design in the Middle East:

“[The Yinon plan] is an Israeli strategic plan to ensure Israeli regional superiority. It insists and stipulates that Israel must reconfigure its geo-political environment through the balkanization of the surrounding Arab states into smaller and weaker states.

Israeli strategists viewed Iraq as their biggest strategic challenge from an Arab state. This is why Iraq was outlined as the centerpiece to the balkanization of the Middle East and the Arab World.

In Iraq, on the basis of the concepts of the Yinon Plan, Israeli strategists have called for the division of Iraq into a Kurdish state and two Arab states, one for Shiite Muslims and the other for Sunni Muslims.

The first step towards establishing this was a war between Iraq and Iran, which the Yinon Plan discusses.

The Atlantic, in 2008, and the U.S. military’s Armed Forces Journal, in 2006, both published widely circulated maps that closely followed the outline of the Yinon Plan.

Aside from a divided Iraq, which the Biden Plan also calls for, the Yinon Plan calls for a divided Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria.

The partitioning of Iran, Turkey, Somalia, and Pakistan also all fall into line with these views.

The Yinon Plan also calls for dissolution in North Africa and forecasts it as starting from Egypt and then spilling over into Sudan, Libya, and the rest of the region.

Greater Israel” requires the breaking up of the existing Arab states into small states.

“The plan operates on two essential premises. To survive, Israel must 1) become an imperial regional power, and 2) must effect the division of the whole area into small states by the dissolution of all existing Arab states.

Small here will depend on the ethnic or sectarian composition of each state. Consequently, the Zionist hope is that sectarian-based states become Israel’s satellites and, ironically, its source of moral legitimation… 

This is not a new idea, nor does it surface for the first time in Zionist strategic thinking. Indeed, fragmenting all Arab states into smaller units has been a recurrent theme.” (Yinon Plan, see below)

Viewed in this context, the war on Syria and Iraq is part of  a process of Israeli territorial expansion.

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, September 06, 2015, updated April 1, 2017

Israeli ‘sex tourism’ is the fruit of normalization with the UAE

Nobody enjoys Israeli tourists. They think they can do whatever they want…because Israelis are not properly raised in occupied Palestine. They are a menace everywhere and defile everything and everybody. Like a disease.

Israel yesterday officially opened its embassy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), its Foreign Ministry announced.

The controversial move comes after the UAE and Israel agreed to establish full diplomatic, cultural and commercial relations following the signing of the Abraham Accords on 15 September at the White House.

Since then Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco have all agreed to establish ties with Israel in deals brokered by the administration of former US President Donald Trump.

The Palestinians condemned the agreements as a “stab in the back”.

Israel tourist behaviour in UAE ‘shameful’—
A new development is that the tourist advertisements and posters about Dubai conceal a dark reality, represented by gangs of Israeli men who set out for the new holiday destination with prostitution in mind. They fill their pockets with thousands of dollars and with little or no conscience spend their time in the UAE moving from one woman to another.

The newspaper quoted sources stating that some Israeli visitors were: “Cooking inside their hotel rooms in violation of the laws of administration, stealing towels and other items from their rooms and holding inappropriate parties.”

“The UAE is very accessible to the Israeli visitors now,” the travel expert noted, urging that Arabic-speaking Israelis must “respect the hotel workers.” She warned: “Things would end badly if this behaviour continued.”

Over 50,000 Israelis were reported to have visited the UAE since the joint normalisation pact between the two countries, signed on 15 September.—

The Israeli Foreign Ministry claimed the new embassy “will advance the range of relations between the countries in all areas and expand ties with the Emirati government, economic bodies and the private sector, academia, media and more.”

Israel’s government regards Jerusalem as its capital, although that is not recognized by most of the international community. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Most countries have their embassies in Tel Aviv.

The Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi will be operating from “temporary offices” until locating a permanent facility, the statement said.

READ: Israel tourist behaviour in UAE ‘shameful’

The mission will “expand the ties with the Emirati government, financial bodies and the private sector, universities, the media and more,” it added.

Israel and the UAE have already signed treaties on direct flights and visa-free travel, along with accords on investment protection, science and technology.

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi welcomed the move, saying the embassy would “enable the expansion of bilateral relations between Israel and the Emirates for a swift and maximal implementation of the potential in these ties.”

Ashkenazi also thanked the UAE “heir to the throne, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, and my colleague and friend, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, for their leadership and hospitality towards our representatives.”

“Israel” seeks ban on film documenting its crimes in Jenin

Do not let the destroyer come into your houses! Do not read their words, do not take their shekels, do not join them; for all who go to them will not achieve life in the World to Come. Prevent your sons and daughters from entering their tents and reading their newspapers, which are full of heresy. They have called themselves “Zionists” in order to catch Jewish souls in their nets. ~(Divrei Simcha, letter 2) 

Most of the refugees living here came from Haifa in the Nakba of 1947-8

October 28, 2020

The Lod District Court in Israel on Monday banned the screening of a documentary about Israel’s brutal 2002 campaign in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

‘Jenin, Jenin’ can no longer be aired in Israel after an Israeli soldier who was depicted in the footage stealing from an elderly Palestinian filed a lawsuit against the film.

The judge said Israeli soldier Nissim Magnaji had been “sent to defend his country and found himself accused of a crime he did not commit”.

The court ordered director Mohammed Bakri to pay damages to Magnaji of 175,000 shekels ($55,000) as well as 50,000 shekels ($15,936) of court expenses.

In her ruling, judge Halit Silash went on to say some of the representation in the video was untrue.

Colin Powell kiss on Make a GIF

The then US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, moved quickly. Speaking from — ironically — the King David Hotel in Jerusalem where Zionist terrorists had planted a bomb and killed 91 people in 1946, he said that he saw “no evidence” of a massacre

Bakri, a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, told the AFP news agency the decision was “unfair” and that the judge had acted on instructions “from above”.

“I intend to appeal the verdict because it is unfair, it is neutering my truth,” Bakri told the Walla News website.

Objecting to the court’s ruling, the chairman of the Balad faction in the Joint List party, Member of the Israeli Knesset Mtanes Shehadeh, was quoted by the Times of Israel saying: “It’s not the film that should be shelved, but the occupation and its crimes.”

The documentary shows footage and eyewitness accounts of the massacre committed by the Israeli occupation forces in the Palestinian refugee camp of Jenin in 2002.

 Hundreds of Palestinians, including women, children, and the elderly, were killed in the rampage that unfolded over a two-week period in a refugee camp, according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) investigation.

Some 23 Israeli soldiers were killed at the time.

The flattening of Jenin - Israel's “war crime” | Leaders | The Economist

The massacre Israel denies
Slaughter in Jenin

By Alan Maass | April 19, 2002 | Page 16

“IT IS the end of life.” That’s how one dazed man described the carnage and destruction as he fled from the Jenin refugee camp that Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers turned into a slaughterhouse.

Hundreds of Palestinians are dead. Some were executed by the IDF in groups of a half dozen or so, according to several accounts from refugees. Whole families died in the rubble of collapsed buildings, flattened without warning by Israeli bulldozers. Still others were wounded by Israeli gunfire and might have survived if an ambulance could have reached them.

But the IDF barred ambulances from Jenin. So people like 17-year-old Munir Washai suffered in agony for hours–until they bled to death.

Estimates of the deaths range as high as 500–but no one will ever know for sure. That’s because Israeli forces began burying some of the victims in mass graves and transporting other corpses into Israel to disposed of them.

After first issuing an injunction to stop this blatant cover-up, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled over the weekend that the IDF could do whatever it wanted with the bodies of its victims–in order to guarantee sanitary conditions in the wrecked refugee camp.

Meanwhile, for those who survived, any meaningful life that they had in Jenin has been ended, too. Much of the refugee camp–a half-square-mile area that was home to 15,000 people–has been reduced to heaps of twisted metal and broken concrete.

The assault on Jenin began with missile strikes–fired from U.S.-supplied Apache helicopter gunships. Then the tanks and bulldozers moved in, crashing down narrow streets and alleyways and crushing anything in their paths.

Israeli forces destroyed basic services, like sewage and electricity. As a result, doctors reported last weekend a new and ghastly surge of cases of intestinal diseases in newborns–because mothers were forced to feed their babies with powdered milk mixed with sewage from the streets, after the water was cut off.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces rounded up hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinians for “questioning.” The standard procedure was to force the detained to strip to their underwear at gunpoint, handcuff and blindfold them and savagely beat them.

Israeli forces kept Jenin sealed off for close to two weeks as they carried out their slaughter, then tried to hide the evidence. And no wonder. As one Israeli officer told Israel’s mainstream Ha’aretz newspaper, “When the world sees the pictures of what we have done there, it will do us immense damage.”

But not when it comes to Israel’s best friend–the U.S. government. On the first day of his “peace” mission, Secretary of State Colin Powell traveled by helicopter to view the destruction caused by a Palestinian suicide bombing in Jerusalem–but didn’t ask his hosts to show him the far greater destruction 50 miles to the north in Jenin.

And even as reports of the Jenin slaughter were emerging, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer declared: “The president believes that Ariel Sharon is a man of peace.” Tens of thousands of Palestinians from Jenin and many more throughout the Occupied Territories know the truth–that Sharon is a war criminal.

But they won’t surrender. They have shown that they will keep resisting Israel’s terror, no matter what the cost. As Reuven Pedatzur, a defense analyst for Ha’aretz, warned: “For [Palestinians], what happened in Jenin will be a historic turning point–and this was our doing, not theirs.”

We can’t leave Palestinians to fight alone. We have to build the struggle in this country to cut off the economic, military and political support that the U.S. government gives to Israel.

We want justice for Palestine!

Palestine in 2020: Reflections on a turbulent year

 

People already living precarious and insecure lives were and continue to be more vulnerable to infection.

[Over 80 percent of the population in Gaza relies on international assistance to survive, and cases of disease and malnutrition are on the rise. More than 50 percent of the population is unemployed, and 90 percent of businesses closed as a result of the blockade. Hospitals are out of up to 40 percent of needed supplies and medicine. Approximately 96 percent of water is undrinkable. And electricity is only available for approximately four hours per day. Gaza contains the refugees from the 1948 Zionist terrorism and expulsion and the 1967 terrorism and expulsion. The Zionists kill and harass fisherman, farmers and children.
Prevailing systems of inequality, oppression and other forms of domination exasperated the situation and, in many cases, rendered them systems of co-morbidity. The rest of the Palestinians live in villages under menacing occupation.]

In Palestine, the lockdowns, curfews and inability to travel were not new.

The pandemic simply added another layer of precarity to the lives of Palestinians under Israel’s military occupation. 

But Covid-19 was not the only thing that happened this year in Palestine.

Rather, it became the backdrop for Israel’s accelerated territorial expansion and the political normalisation of its settler colonial project.

Christianity meltdown in its own birthplace? Western churches ignore multiple warnings – Redress Information & Analysis

“We are still suffering because of one political declaration from a Western Empire, based on a twisted theological premise. Even some churches and few Christian leaders supported the establishment of the colonial state in our land, and totally ignored – even dehumanized – the nation, our people that had already existed here for centuries and paid the price for atrocities committed in Europe.”

The year started with the Trump administration’s ‘Deal of the Century’, or officially “Vision for Peace, Prosperity and a Brighter Future for Israel and the Palestinian People“.

The ‘peace plan’ effectively proposed encasing Palestinians in the West Bank in a series of Bantustans (excluding Area C – 60 percent of the land) with Israel holding on to its illegal settlements.

Gaza, meanwhile, would be maintained as a besieged enclave while the rights of Palestinians in exile, including those of refugees, would be forsaken.

In exchange they would be granted some economic incentives to “boost” the Palestinian economy.

The Palestinian leadership outright refused it, with President Mahmoud Abbas declaring “a thousand times no”.

Just another white man’s occupation

Other reactions were rather muted, including many EU states who simply declared their commitment to the two-state solution, whilst the UK considered it a “serious proposal“.

Despite the pomp and ceremony describing the deal as ground-breaking, this was not a new formula for “peace”.

In fact, the ‘Deal of the Century’ was merely a culmination of US foreign policy which has consistently trampled on fundamental Palestinian rights in favour of maintaining Israeli domination.

Read more: The day after annexation: Israel, Palestine
and the one-state reality

A few months later the deal seemed to dissipate, not because of a lack of support from the international community but rather (as many Palestinians pointed out) because it presented nothing new – already reflecting the de facto reality on the ground. 

Later in the summer, Israel threatened to pass legislation that would enable the de jure annexation of large swathes of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank on 1 July.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shrewdly created a huge crescendo leading up to the date and many in the international community, particularly EU states, rushed to provide statements of “concern” and “condemnation,” whilst simultaneously offering no consequences should the annexation go ahead.

For its part, the Palestinian Authority responded by “halting” security coordination with Israel.  

The 1st of July came and went without annexation and the international community breathed a sigh of relief, declaring it a win for the international legal regime and for Palestinian rights.

Yet the reality of both the de jure and de facto annexation of Palestinian land, from East Jerusalem to Israeli settlements, were ignored.

“Look! Shoot faster! I am in a rush to move in.”

Since then, Netanyahu has continuously reiterated his intentions to annex more and more of the West Bank.

All the while Israeli policies of disOne day after the UN vote to partition Palestine, Menachem Begin, the commander of the Irgun and Israel’s future Prime Minister between 1977-1983, proclaimed: “The Partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized …. Jerusalem was and will for ever be our capital.

Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And for Ever.” (Iron Wall p. 25)possession and territorial expansion continued apace.

We will establish ourselves in Palestine whether you like it or not…You can hasten our arrival or you can equally retard it. It is however better for you to help us so as to avoid our constructive powers being turned into a destructive power which will overthrow the world. -Chaim Weizmann

2020 saw the highest number of home demolitions in more than four years, with nearly 900 Palestinians displaced.

At the same time, Israel approved over 12,000 West Bank settler homes, the highest on record for eight years.

The early political theatrics of the ‘Deal of the Century’ continued into the year when a series of normalisation agreements with various Arab states, including the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, were announced.

These agreements by the signatory regimes were dubbed as historic.

Yet, official and unofficial Arab normalisation with Israel, and the undermining of the Palestinian cause, has been ongoing for decades.  

Egypt was the first Arab country to normalise in 1979 in return for the Sinai Peninsula, which Israel had captured in 1967.

Jordan followed suit in 1995 and in return got substantial economic aid and diplomatic support from the West.

Read more: Israel normalisation deals reflect the rupture between repressive regimes and Arab societies

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have held increasingly frequent meetings with Israeli officials and experts over the last decade regarding security technology, most of which has been used to spy on political opposition and activists.

 Similarly, Morocco has had relations with Israel dating back to the 1950s, including arms deals and Israeli training for Moroccan security forces and intelligence agents. 

It is therefore unsurprising that these countries should officialise long standing relations. What is worrying is that the agreements include weapons deals and security collaboration, a boon for authoritarianism.

Whilst a renewed era of human rights abuses looms across the region, the internal situation is equally challenging for Palestinians, who are increasingly fragmented socially, geographically, and politically.

Such divides were acutely accentuated under Covid-19, with increased restrictions on movement for different categories of Identity Card holders and an increasing gap between the wealthy and the poor.  

Official and unofficial Arab normalisation with Israel, and the undermining of the Palestinian cause, has been ongoing for decades

The Palestinian leadership has proved impotent amidst the external political manoeuvres of this year, with a strategy limited to rhetorical outrage and holding out for a Joe Biden victory in US presidential elections.

The Palestinian leadership’s impotence has also been coupled with increasing authoritarianism, as was demonstrated with the arrest and interrogation of an activist who criticized the resumption of Palestinian Authority (PA) security coordination with Israel. 

The election of Biden to the White House presents the prospect of returning to “normal” and “business as usual” in terms of US foreign policy, and his team have already expressed the desire to return to the prior framework of peace process negotiations.

Meanwhile, they have also stated that they will not be reversing several landmark policy changes under the Trump administration, including moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, and US-backed normalisation deals with Arab states.

Read more: Palestine’s olive harvest marred by rising
Israeli settler violence

Biden, who has described himself as a Zionist, has a mainstream establishment US foreign policy perspective on the Middle East, which includes a pro-Israel stance.

Indeed, as vice-president in the Obama administration he oversaw the largest military aid package in US history – $38 billion – to Israel. 

This does not bode well for Palestinian rights. Biden has promised to reverse Trump’s huge aid cuts to Palestinians, meaning US money will flow back into the coffers of the Palestinian Authority.

But this model of an “economic peace” is antithetical to Palestinian liberation, coercing the Palestinian leadership into political surrender via economic incentives.

The reality of 2020 and its challenges, from global and regional political shifts to internal stagnation, have rendered it even more difficult to imagine Palestinian liberation.

Yet the pandemic also presents us with a “portal” and an opportunity to be hopeful, as Arundhati Roy wrote earlier this year: “We can choose to walk through [the portal], dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us.

Or, we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”

This will necessitate conversations on radical change, and Palestinians have no choice but to abandon the “dead ideas” that have long been a smoke screen for the continued colonization of Palestine.

SOURCE

Erdogan calls on Muslim countries to unite and confront Israel

The heroic story of Ertugrul Ghazi, the father of Osman (Uthman) who founded the Ottoman Empire. Why Every Muslim Should Watch Dirilis: Ertugrul (it’s on Netflix right now)  – Islamic History

Turkish president tells OIC leaders that Israel must be held accountable for the killing of Palestinians in Gaza Strip.

Istanbul, Turkey – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on Muslim leaders to unite and confront Israel, days after scores of Palestinians were killed by Israeli snipers as they marked 70 years of Israeli occupation.

Speaking at an extraordinary summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Friday, Erdogan said Israel should be held accountable over the killings which drew widespread international condemnation and triggered a wave of protests from Asia, through the Middle East, to North Africa.

“To take action for Palestinians massacred by Israeli bandits is to show the whole world that humanity is not dead,” Erdogan told the group of Muslim leaders gathered in Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul.

The Turkish president described Israel’s killing of Palestinians as “thuggery, atrocity and state terror,” and said the US’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would inevitably haunt it.

Istanbul, Turkey – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on Muslim leaders to unite and confront Israel, days after scores of Palestinians were killed by Israeli snipers as they marked 70 years of Israeli occupation.

Speaking at an extraordinary summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Friday, Erdogan said Israel should be held accountable over the killings which drew widespread international condemnation and triggered a wave of protests from Asia, through the Middle East, to North Africa.

“To take action for Palestinians massacred by Israeli bandits is to show the whole world that humanity is not dead,” Erdogan told the group of Muslim leaders gathered in Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul.

The Turkish president described Israel’s killing of Palestinians as “thuggery, atrocity and state terror,” and said the US’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would inevitably haunt it.

The Gaza Strip has been transformed into a large concentration camp for millions of people who are deprived of their most basic rights to travel, education, work and medical treatment.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatar’s Emir

/blockquote>

‘Collective punishment’

On Monday, as the United States went ahead with the controversial relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem, 62 Palestinians, including five children, were killed and more than 2,700 wounded as the Israeli army fired live ammunition and tear gas at protesters who had assembled hundreds of metres from a 1949 armistice line between Gaza and Israel.

The protesters in the besieged enclave had gathered for Nakba Day – a commemoration of the events of 1948 when Zionist paramilitaries ethnically cleansed Palestinian cities and towns. About 750,000 people were forcibly expelled from historical Palestine.

Several heads of state attended the Istanbul summit, but Saudi Arabia, the host of the 57-member OIC, sent only a senior foreign ministry official. Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE also sent lower-level ministers.

Speaking at the conference, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said the Palestinian cause had “become a symbol for oppressed peoples everywhere” and condemned Israel for the “brutal massacre” of peaceful demonstrators.

“Who among us does not know the declared siege forced on the Gaza Strip and the collective punishment against its population?” the emir said.

“The Gaza Strip has been transformed into a large concentration camp for millions of people who are deprived of their most basic rights to travel, education, work and medical treatment.

“When their sons take arms they are called terrorists, and when they stage peaceful demonstrations, they are called extremists, and are shot dead with live ammunition.”

‘US part of the problem’

For his part, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said the US had become “part of the problem and not the solution” and called the relocation of the embassy “an act of aggression against the Islamic nation, against Muslims and Christians”.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II urged the adoption of urgent measures to back “the resistance of Palestinians”, while Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for economic and political measures against the US and Israel.

Late on Friday, the OIC issued a final communique calling on the United Nations to launch an international investigation into the killings in Gaza, the creation of an international protection force for Palestinians, and for the OIC to place economic restrictions on any countries, companies or individuals who recognise Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem.

Protesters waved Palestinian flags and carried a variety of colourful placards and banners [Faisal Edroos/Al Jazeera]

Thousands protest in solidarity with Palestine

Earlier in the day, Erdogan told a raucous crowd of more than 10,000 people in Istanbul’s Yenikapi fairground that the Muslim world had to unite and “pull themselves back together”.

“Muslims are way too busy fighting and disagreeing with themselves, and shy away when confronted by their enemies,” he told the audience.

“Since 1947, Israel has been free to do what it likes in this region. They do whatever they feel like. But this reality can be undone … if we unite.” 

Earlier this week, Turkey recalled its envoys to Israel and the US following the killings of Palestinians and the relocation of Washington’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

 

‘Drunk on power and boredom’: Israeli ex-soldiers detail abuses

Looking for amusement, his unit handwrote bogus VIP permits for the Palestinians who crossed regularly. They were legally meaningless but added some fun to the long hours in the sun.

Humiliation is the aim. A brave people, coward Occupation.

In a controversial new photographic exhibition in Tel Aviv, Israeli former soldiers detail abuses they saw – and perpetrated

Gaza Terrorist Fighter Assassinated by Zionist Entity

These are the people fighting to get their land back from the terrorist children of the terrorist Irgun. Israel is nothing but the legitimization of Zionist terrorism which has continued unabated for over 70 years.

The Occupation of Palestine. The Zionists stole their homes and land.

“We have to wait and see if “strongman” Netanyahu follows the killing of Bahaa Abu Al-Ata with another major offensive. If Hamas doesn’t respond, it will lose face amongst the Palestinians. If it does, a major military attack with devastating potential is the possible outcome. Netanyahu, it seems, is ready to do anything to boost his popularity and maintain his grip on power in Israel.”

The 42-year-old was killed in an Israeli air raid on his home in Gaza that also killed his wife.

Bahaa Abu al-Ata, a commander of the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad, has been assassinated in an Israeli air raid targeting his home in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The attack in the early hours of Tuesday also killed the 42-year-old’s wife. Medics and local sources told Al Jazeera that the raid in Gaza’s Shejaiya neighbourhood also wounded two of his children who are receiving medical treatment in the city’s al-Shifa hospital.

Later on Tuesday, large crowds gathered outside Gaza’s main hospital to participate in Abu al-Ata’s funeral procession.

During the 2014 Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, Abu al-Ata had survived an assassination attempt when he was a deputy commander to Daniel Mansour, commander of al-Quds Brigades in northern Gaza, the sources said.

Overall, more than 2,250 Palestinians, including nearly 1,500 civilians, were killed and a further 11,000 were wounded in the July-August 2014 war, according to Palestinian and United Nations estimates. On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and six civilians died.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alleged that Abu al-Ata was “in the midst of plotting additional attacks these very days”, without elaborating.

“He was a ticking bomb,” he added.

Meanwhile, Islamic Jihad promised to avenge Abu al-Ata’s killing. A barrage of rockets was fired towards Israel after his assassination was confirmed.

“Our inevitable retaliation will rock the Zionist entity,” the group said, referring to Israel.

According to political analyst Zulfiqar Swirgo, the assassination operation was not a new policy but an urgent necessity to rescue the Israeli Prime Minister. “The developments and escalations might put Netanyahu in trouble, but this depends on the level of response from the Palestinians, Iranians and Syrians. He has become a dangerous mafia thug.”

Israel uses fake people, stories to promote Jewish immigration, over and over

Nothing is real about the Israel narrative from beginning to end. Once one identifies the Zionist behavior to the Nazi behavior,  which is all to obvious, it all becomes clear. Hitler was right:
“While the Zionists try to make the rest of the World believe that the national consciousness of the Jew finds its satisfaction in the creation of a Palestinian state, the Jews again slyly dupe the dumb Goyim. It doesn’t even enter their heads to build up a Jewish state in Palestine for the purpose of living there; all they want is a central organization for their international world swindler, endowed with its own sovereign rights and removed from the intervention of other states: a haven for convicted scoundrels and a university for budding crooks.

November 1, 2019 

Israel has made a lot of effort to persuade Jews from Europe and the US to migrate in order to maintain the demographic superiority of Jewish citizens in the state which was the purpose of the holocaust and why only Zionists can hold the narrative. Their criminal state depends on it.

Fabricated immigrant stories and quotes along with stock images of people were posted on Twitter by the Israeli Immigrant Integration Ministry to encourage Jews relocate to the occupation state.

An investigation undertaken by the Times of Israel failed to find any of the supposed immigrants quoted on its social media accounts.

Following an inquiry, many of the fake posts – using the now defunct hashtag AliyahStory -encouraging Jews to make “aliyah” – the move to Israel – were deleted and the ministry confirmed yesterday that all of the people quoted were made up.

Israeli news outlet Arutz Sheva noted that in one case, it confirmed that the image was a real person, who was not an immigrant and never made the quote attributed to him.

According to the ministry’s Twitter feed, a Tanya Lipworth from Chicago could never imagine that she would fulfill the Zionist dream and make “Aliyah a reality”.

However, there is no record on the internet of a Tanya Lipworth existing.

“I grew up in a Jewish home, Jewish school, but could never imagine that I would fulfill the #Zionist dream. I realised after spending a year in #Israel after studying that making Aliyah could become a reality,” says Tanya Lipworth from Chicago, USA.

— Misrad Haklita (@MisradHaklita) January 6, 2019

“The thing about life in #Israel after making #Aliyah is that I realized is how to keep in contact with family and friends back home,” Carla Weinberg from Toronto is reported to have said.

Another alleged immigrant, Misrad Haklita was quoted saying: “Modern technology has made it easier to keep in touch! We love our Friday FaceTime!”

According to The Times of Israel, most of the names do appear on Facebook but do not appear to belong to anyone living in Israel.

Oops, Hollywood Jewish director steps in the scene while camera is rolling.

Jason Pearlman, a former spokesman for Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, said: “If it is the case that this is a genuine ministry account, and the photos and names are fabricated, it is nothing short of horrendous.”

“To use stock images to illustrate classrooms or meetings is one thing, but at a time when Israel’s credibility is constantly attacked on social media, to make people up is nothing short of idiotic.”

Israel has made a lot of effort to persuade Jews from Europe and the US to migrate in order to maintain the demographic superiority of Jewish citizens in the state.

Although 20 per cent of the Israeli population are Palestinians, Israel has consistently denied those who were ethnically-cleansed from Palestine since 1948, along with their descendants, their legal right of return to their homeland.

According to internal Jewish Agency figures, immigration to Israel rose by more than a quarter in the first half of 2019, fueled almost entirely by a continued surge in Jewish immigrants from Russia.

My holiday in the ‘axis of evil’

[Admin: My first pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Palestine was to make sure I got to see the Al-Asqa and the Dome of the Rock while they’re still  standing. I traveled everywhere while I could. I continue visiting. You have to catch Palestine between Israeli attacks. I’ve yet to see any action but a few times the actions came between my visits. Like, by a matter of days. You can feel it in the air, beneath the surface of your feet…it’s always eminent. For those who like to live life on the edge I would recommend visiting occupied Palestine! Otherwise, it is the saddest place on earth. I was not laughing.]

March 2008

Dom Joly, Syria

“Nobody ever believes me, but these really are the great destinations you should be going to right now and, in a way, we’ve got George Bush to thank.”

…before doing his best to look friendly out in the desert

Syria

Past and present: A Syrian girl uses head and mobile at the same time

Citadel, Aleppo, Syria

Tourist-free tourism: Dom visits the citadel of Aleppo in Syria…

Holidays in the Axis of Evil. It might not sound like your cup of tea but these are currently the ‘hot’ destinations in the Joly household.

I’ve recently been to both Syria and Iran and, say what you like about the foreign policies of Damascus and Tehran, you won’t find a Starbucks, a Gap or a hen party fighting in the street in either of them.

Syria is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I arrived in Damascus, a bustling, exciting city, and spent a wonderful evening wandering the ancient streets and eating in the hidden courtyard of an old Arab house that had been turned into a restaurant.

The following day I headed north and climbed all over the fortifications of the beautiful Crusader castle of Krak Des Chevaliers, totally untroubled by anybody else. The man who issued tickets at the gate was fast asleep and seemed shocked to see a visitor. I found my way through the complicated sets of steps and turrets until I was at the very top, overlooking the surrounding countryside just as the Crusaders would have done 600 or so years ago.

Further north, I wandered the impressive Roman colonnades of Apamea without a single other person in sight. News, however, travelled fast to a local village that there was a ‘tourist’, and a solitary man eventually appeared and offered his services as a ‘guide’. I politely declined and he sauntered off to sit on a distant rock and observe this curious alien creature.

Arriving in Aleppo late at night, I found a bed at the famous Baron Hotel, a place where Lawrence of Arabia once laid his weary head. I necked a couple of stiff gin and tonics at the bar (Syria is not a dry country – the beer there is some of the finest I have tasted and can also, weirdly, be used to wash your hair should you forget your shampoo) and chatted to the barman, Georges, who remembered times when the hotel was full of tourists. He was sad that it was now not what it was and I nodded sympathetically, although secretly I was delighted to be pretty much the only guest, as I was treated like royalty.

Aleppo is a magical city with a beautiful citadel towering above it and a magnificent souk that you can get lost in for hours. Everyone was incredibly friendly and pleased to see me. I lost count of the number of times I was ushered into little shops and had sweet cups of tea pressed into my hands. Whatever the differences of our respective governments, it seems this is of little interest on the Syrian street.

I ended my journey there in Palmyra, an extraordinary town in the middle of the desert. It was once the base of Queen Zenobia, the Syrian equivalent of Boadicea – she fought the Romans to a standstill before they finally overran the place. I stayed in the Zenobia Hotel, right in the middle of the ruins surrounding the town.

Palmyra is breathtaking – a ruined castle sits on a hill overlooking the whole town and there must be three or four square miles of Roman ruins, amphitheatres, colonnades, bath houses and temples. As usual, I had the place to myself – there was talk of a couple of Italian tourists in town but I never saw them.

I think the only time I ever felt remotely threatened was completely my fault. Someone in Palmyra had told me about this salt lake a couple of miles outside town. I decided to pay it a visit and drove out there in my Land Cruiser.

Citadel, Aleppo, Syria

Yellow fever: Brightly coloured mosque domes in Aleppo

When I got there I couldn’t resist trying a bit of ‘desert’ driving and was happily roaring about the place when I heard gunfire. I stopped the car and got out slowly. From my left I could see a man holding an AK-47 running towards me from a tiny hut I hadn’t noticed before. I was terrified. Had I stumbled on some secret military base?

It turned out that the man was paid to look after the salt lake – from what, I never quite got to the bottom of – and he was not impressed with my off-roading all over his charge. He’d fired several warning shots over my vehicle in protest and was now keen to remonstrate.

Fortunately, like most things in Syria, it went better than I could have hoped. I apologised for using his salt lake as a racetrack and he soon relaxed. I don’t think he got many visitors and he appreciated the company. He scuttled off to his little hut and brought back three cold beers which we shared in the shade of my vehicle.

He then saw me staring at his rifle and handed it over to me for inspection. Within a couple of minutes I was firing the thing at our empty beer bottles that my new friend was hurling into the air. You don’t get this type of experience in Magaluf…

We parted the best of friends and I gave him a Pussycat Dolls CD that I happened to have in the car. He seemed more interested in the front cover than the music but I hope it gave him pleasure.

This unusually friendly attitude towards visitors isn’t just found in Syria. A couple of weeks ago I was in Tehran and had the time of my life. Iran really is a ‘dry’ country and I presumed it would be a difficult place to enjoy myself in. Far from it. The Iranians are incredibly hospitable and, without giving away too much, they are also keen home-brewers and so ‘refreshments’ were never a problem.

At first sight, Tehran is not an overly attractive city, although it lies right beneath a huge mountain range and the snowcapped peaks give it a beautiful setting. I was here to go skiing but spent a day wandering around and quickly fell in love with the place.

The Central Bazaar is a hive of industry and a godsend for people-watchers such as me. I took a seat in a coffee shop and watched as porters carrying huge bales of the black cloth used to make the all-encompassing burkas worn by many Iranian women fought their way through the crowds of shoppers.

Tehran, Iran

The Great Satan: Anti-USA messages in the Iranian capital Tehran

A stranger suddenly loomed in front of me and grabbed my hand: ‘Thank you for coming here, thank you… ‘ He was beaming with pleasure and walked on as if it was his job to thank personally every tourist who visited his city.

This seemed to be a common thread, a palpable frustration at the lack of visitors and active encouragement whenever I was spotted. Tehran is a city of museums – unvisited museums. I went to the Carpet Museum, a place that had been set up by the late Shah’s wife, and very impressive it was too. The man at the door was so excited to have a visitor that he insisted on giving me a personal tour.

Later that evening I headed off to a little local restaurant that a friend in London had recommended. I ate fesenjan, an amazing lamb stew with walnuts and pomegranates. Visiting the old American Embassy was a particular joy. Plastered all over the walls surrounding it are bombastic phrases such as ‘The United States is too weak to do anything’ and ‘America will face a severe defeat’. Above the entrance was a sign announcing a ‘Great Satan Exhibition’ but they wouldn’t let me in so I’ll have to catch it when it visits the British Museum.

Every Iranian I met was very embarrassed by these signs of the revolution and couldn’t understand why I would be interested in them. I caught sight of a huge ‘Down with the USA’ painted on the side of a whole block of flats but had to really work to persuade my taxi driver to stop and let me photograph it.

I left Tehran the next day and spent three days in the mountains above, skiing to my heart’s content. The pistes are fabulous and I had a wonderful time. The slopes have recently been de-segregated so everyone was skiing together and it was often hard to remember that I was supposed to be in the Axis of Evil.

I flew home longing to see more of Iran, such as the great desert city of Isfahan or the ruins of Persepolis. Nobody ever believes me, but these really are the great destinations you should be going to right now and, in a way, we’ve got George Bush to thank. For my next trip, I hope to visit North Korea or Libya – my wife fancies Italy but it’s not my bag. I think a weekend in Pyongyang or a leisurely couple of days exploring Leptis Magna is just what the doctor ordered. I’ll send you a postcard … if I can find one.

US-Facilitated Arab NATO Fail

Forming the alliance mainly to confront Iran is an absurd and expensive move– because Iran has never posed a threat to any of the Arab states (nor the world)

Image result for NATO arabs

AlwaghtIn 2016, the Wall Street Journal, reported that the US will support an Arabic plan to initiate “Arab NATO”, aimed at confronting what they call the growing Iran influence in the region. Calls for the initiative renewed on Friday, when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hosted a meeting of top Arab diplomats in New York to push forward the plan to establish the NATO-like regional alliance.

The US State Department said in a statement that the participants– foreign ministers from Egypt and Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar– in the meeting had all underlined “the need to confront threats from Iran directed at the region and the United States.”

Image result for Muslim leaders supported by the west

Iraqi Sunni and Shiite Muslim tribal leaders protest against the security accord that would allow US troops to remain in Iraq until 2011.

It is important to remember that in truth, despite all of these differences in opinion and practice, Shia and Sunni Muslims share the main articles of Islamic belief and are considered by all to be brethren in faith. In fact, most Muslims do not distinguish themselves by claiming membership in any particular group, but prefer to call themselves simply, “Muslims.” The said currant division is manufactured by the west. The Sunni leaders supported by France,UK, Israel, US are only interested in keeping their thrones via the western allies.

Despite that fact that on official occasions Americans say that the main aim behind the Arab NATO idea is to deepen the cooperation with the Arab allies in areas like missile defense, military training, counter-terrorism, and other cases, the major drive behind the attempt is to raise a force to hamper the growing weight of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the region.

Donald Trump may boast that he accomplished all of his campaign-time promises and so he is the most successful president to date. But a look at his foreign policy track record to control Iran makes clear that he did not do much but a couple of unilateral measures like scraping the nuclear deal, signed in 2015 between Tehran and the six world powers.

The fact is that Trump’s West Asia policy is running into a firm obstacle of the Iran-led Axis of Resistance. Addressing the challenge, the White House now concentrates on building an anti-Iranian consensus with economic, military, and diplomatic aspects. The Arab NATO initiative to bring the Arab allies under the umbrella of a unified bloc is also definable under this US anti-Tehran strategy.

From another aspect, encouraging the Arab partners to form their own military alliance is linked to Trump’s “America first” policy. Almost every month, Trump picks a fight against the European allies of Washington in NATO asking them to raise their share in the military alliance’s budget. The fights are part of Washington’s push to cut its heavily costly commitments to the international and inter-government treaties.

During his presidential campaign speeches, Trump brazenly said that he wanted the Persian Gulf allies to pay for their protection costs. Therefore, the Arab army is, in fact, an effort by Trump to cut The US costs of securing the Arab allies.

Still, there are additional goals behind the Arab force: Expanding Iranophobia to sell more arms to the regional allies, driving out the Palestinian cause as the Muslim world’s central case, and reducing the sensitivity to the Israeli expansionism by replacing the real enemy of Arabs with the fake one.

The challenges

The plan to create Arab replica of NATO is never new to the US strategy in the region. The US administrations a couple of times took shots to form similar alliances but all of them proved shaky and at the end of the road met their doom. For example, in 2015 Washington formed what was called “Reaction Force” gathering some 40,000 forces from Egypt, Jordan, North Africa, and Persian Gulf Arab states. Its command structure very closely resembled the NATO. The Persian Gulf states funded the effort.

But regional tensions, and mainly the rifts among the member states, made the project a failed one. Moreover, during Trump’s last year trip to Saudi Arabia, dozens of majorly Muslim states convened in Riyadh to form what was called “Islamic NATO.” But the agreement to form it has remained just ink on the paper.

To Saudi Arabia’s frustration, which is representing the US interests in the region and set to head any joint Arab force, even the anti-Yemeni military coalition which took huge money and even bribery in 2015 to form is now falling apart. Washington’s attempt to form a 200,000-troops Arab force for deployment to northern Syria also went nowhere.

mccain-in-syria-2-detail-2

The root cause of the US plans failure rests in the disputes hitting the relations of the Arab states. The crisis rocking the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council is the major one at the present time. In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, along with Egypt, the UAE, and Bahrain, severed diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed a blockade on the small emirate for what it called support for terrorism and teaming up with Iran against them. The crisis remains standing to date.

Following Friday’s meeting with Pompeo and other regional peers, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said that a regional alliance envisioned by the US would not work unless the issue of the Saudi-led blockade on Doha was resolved.

“This gathering is important. But we need to address the challenges among these countries,” he said, adding, “The real challenge facing the US-led alliance is to solve the [Persian] Gulf crisis.”

He also complained that the Persian Gulf crisis remained at a “stalemate” and that the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council was currently in  “a sort of complete paralysis.” 

The Qatari foreign minister further stressed that there had been “no progress” in resolving the dispute with Saudi Arabia.

But forming the alliance mainly to confront Iran is an absurd and expensive move– because Iran has never posed a threat to any of the Arab states– and itself could play as a factor endangering their security. Saudi Arabia and the UAE, both among the world’s top military spenders, are stuck in a four-year war waged against Yemen, the impoverished nation with no organized army. They will very likely find it hard to persuade the smaller states like Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman to come on board a military action against Iran as they have normal ties with the Islamic Republic.

The challenges of a military alliance on the ground are much more than they seem in theory and may remain just a plan on paper.