Category Archives: Israel

Letter from Tehran: Trump ‘the bazaari’, by Pepe Escobar

Source: Asia Times

The Iranian Parliament just hosted its annual conference on Palestine and, among the dignitaries – that included Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani – and the 700 foreign guests from more than 50 countries was Asia Times columnist Pepe Escobar.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei speaking at the international conference on Palestine in Tehran. Photo: Asia Times.

he art of the deal, when practiced for 2500 years, does lead to the palace of wisdom. I had hardly set foot in Tehran when a diplomat broke the news: “Trump? We’re not worried. He’s a bazaari”. It’s a Persian language term meaning he is from the merchants class or, more literally, a worker from the bazaar and its use implies that a political accommodation will eventually be reached.

The Iranian government’s response to the Trump administration boils down to a Sun Tzu variant; silence, especially after the Fall of Flynn, who had “put Iran on notice” after it carried out a ballistic missile test, and had pushed the idea of an anti-Iran military alliance comprising Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Jordan. Tehran says the missile test did not infringe the provisions of the Iran nuclear deal and that naval drills from the Strait of Hormuz to the Indian Ocean, which began on Sunday, had been planned well in advance.

I was in Tehran as one of several hundred foreign guests, including a small group of foreign journalists , guests of the Majlis (Parliament) for an annual conference on the Palestine issue.

Not surprisingly, no one from Trump’s circle was among the gathering of parliamentarians from over 50 nations who attended the impressive opening ceremony in a crowded, round conference hall where the center of power in Iran was on display; Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani and Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani.

Khamenei proclaimed that “the existing crises in every part of the region and the Islamic ummah deserve attention”, but insisted that the key issue remains Palestine. The conference, he said, could become “a model for all Muslims and regional nations to gradually harness their differences by relying on their common points”.

Khamenei’s was an important call for Muslim unity. Few in the West know that during the rapid decolonization of the 1940s and 50s, the Muslim world was not torn apart by the vicious Sunni-Shi’ite hatred – later fomented by the Wahhabi/Salafi-jihadi axis. The Wahhabi House of Saud, incidentally, was nowhere to be seen at the conference.

Hefty discussions with Iranian analysts and diplomats revolved on the efficacy of multilateral discussions compared to advancing facts on the ground – ranging from the building of new settlements in the West Bank to the now all but dead and buried Oslo two-state myth.

On Palestine, I asked Naim Qassem, deputy secretary-general of Hezbollah about the Trump administration’s hint of a one-state solution. His answer, in French; “One state means war. Two states means peace under their conditions, which will lead us to war.”

As with most conferences, what matters are the sidelines. Leonid Savin, a Russian geopolitical analyst, claimed that Russian airspace is now all but sealed with multiple deployments of the S-500 missile defense system against anything the US might unleash. Albanian historian Olsi Jazexhi deconstructed the new Balkans powder keg. Muhammad Gul, son of the late, larger-than-life General Hamid Gul, detailed the finer points of Pakistan’s foreign policy and the drive to build the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Pyongyang was also in the house. The North Korean delegate produced an astonishing speech, essentially arguing that Palestine should follow their example, complete with a “credible nuclear deterrent”. Later, in the corridors I saluted the delegation, and they saluted back. No chance of a sideline chat though to go over the unclear points surrounding Kim Jong-nam’s assassination.

Blake Archer Williams, a.k.a. Arash Darya-Bandari, whose pseudonym celebrates the “tyger tyger burning bright” English master, gave me a copy of Creedal Foundations of Waliyic Islam (Lion of Najaf Publishers) – an analysis of how Shi’ite theology led to the theory of velayat-e faqih (the ruling of the jurisprudent) that lies at the heart of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Every time I’m back in Tehran I’m impressed with the surprising number of open avenues for serious intellectual discussion. I was constantly reminded of Jalal Al-e Ahmad, the son of a mullah born in poor south Tehran who later translated Sartre and Camus and wrote the seminal Westoxification (1962).

He spent the summer of 1965 at Harvard seminars organized by Henry Kissinger and “supported” by the CIA. He pivoted to Shi’ism only toward the end of his life. It was his analysis that paved the way for sociologist Ali Shariati to cross-pollinate anti-colonialism with the Shi’ite concept of resistance against injustice and produce a revolutionary ideology capable of politicizing the Iranian middle classes, leading to the Islamic Revolution.

That was the background for serious discussions on how Iran (resistance against injustice), China (remixed Confucianism) and Russia (Eurasianism) are offering post-Enlightenment alternatives that transcend Western liberal democracy.

But in the end it was all inevitably down to the overarching anti-intellectual ghost in the room; Donald Trump (and that was even before he got a letter from Ahmadinejad).

So I did what I usually do before leaving Tehran; I hit the bazaar, via a fabulous attached mosque – to get reacquainted with the art of the deal, the Persian way.

That led me to Mahmoud Asgari, lodged in the Sameyi passage of the Tajrish bazaar and a serious discussion on the finer points of pre-WWI Sistan-Baluchistan tribal rugs from Zahedan. The end result was – what else – a win-win sale, bypassing the US dollar. And then, the clincher: “When you call your friend Trump, tell him to come here and I’ll give him the best deal”.

Pepe Escobar wrote his The Roving Eye column for Asia Times from 2000-2015. His books include Globalistan (2007), Red Zone Blues (2007), Obama does Globalistan (2009), Empire of Chaos (2014) and 2030 (2015).

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

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How narratives killed the Syrian people, by Sharmine Narwani

Source: RT

© Majed Jaber / Reuters
© Majed Jaber / Reuters

On March 23, 2011, at the very start of what we now call the ‘Syrian conflict,’ two young men – Sa’er Yahya Merhej and Habeel Anis Dayoub – were gunned down in the southern Syrian city of Daraa.

Merhej and Dayoub were neither civilians, nor were they in opposition to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. They were two regular soldiers in the ranks of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

Shot by unknown gunmen, Merhej and Dayoub were the first of eighty-eight soldiers killed throughout Syria in the first month of this conflict– in Daraa, Latakia, Douma, Banyas, Homs, Moadamiyah, Idlib, Harasta, Suweida, Talkalakh and the suburbs of Damascus.

According to the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, the combined death toll for Syrian government forces was 2,569 by March 2012, the first year of the conflict. At that time, the UN’s total casualty count for all victims of political violence in Syria was 5,000.

These numbers paint an entirely different picture of events in Syria. This was decidedly not the conflict we were reading about in our headlines – if anything, the ‘parity’ in deaths on both sides even suggests that the government used ‘proportionate’ force in thwarting the violence.

But Merhej and Dayoub’s deaths were ignored. Not a single Western media headline told their story – or that of the other dead soldiers. These deaths simply didn’t line up with the Western ‘narrative’ of the Arab uprisings and did not conform to the policy objectives of Western governments.

For American policymakers, the “Arab Spring” provided a unique opportunity to unseat the governments of adversary states in the Middle East. Syria, the most important Arab member of the Iran-led ‘Resistance Axis,’ was target number one.

To create regime-change in Syria, the themes of the “Arab Spring” needed to be employed opportunistically – and so Syrians needed to die.

The “dictator” simply had to “kill his own people” – and the rest would follow.

How words kill

Four key narratives were spun ad nauseam in every mainstream Western media outlet, beginning in March 2011 and gaining steam in the coming months.

– The Dictator is killing his “own people.”

– The protests are “peaceful.”

– The opposition is “unarmed.”

– This is a “popular revolution.”

Continue reading How narratives killed the Syrian people, by Sharmine Narwani

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THE REAL COALITION AGAINST DAESH IS THE “4+1”: RUSSIA, SYRIA, IRAN, IRAQ PLUS HEZBOLLAH, by Pepe Escobar

Source: Katehon

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When Palestinians defend themselves by throwing stones, they’re called terrorists, while Israel threatens Palestinians’ life on a daily basis and is considered innocent. Moreover, U.S. politicians have said many times that Israel has the right to defend itself; do you think they want to imply that the people of Palestine do not have the right to defend themselves?

The whole narrative across the West is framed by the multiple ramifications of the Israel lobby – with fuel to the fire constantly added by Zionists and American, French and British Zio-cons. They control key media outlets and always employ the same crude tactics to discredit critics; ANY criticism of Israel – which is usually directed to the framework of an apartheid state, and the state’s internal and foreign policy – is blasted as “anti-Semitic”. Criticism of Zionism has never had and will never have anything to do with anti-Semitism. Arguably the best deconstruction of this myth is available in the book aptly titled “Deconstructing Zionism”, edited by Gianni Vattimo and Michael Marder (Bloomsbury, 2014). A subplot of the myth is the “Israel has the right to defend itself” meme – which turns reality around to justify any repressive or frankly fascist Israeli attack. On top of it, Palestinians are not considered equal citizens to Israelis (the notorious, perennial Golda Meir maxim “there are no Palestinians”) and the Israeli elite overwhelmingly regards Arabs as inferior beings.

Many argue that the Zionist regime has been planted in the region to sow discord and keep regional countries busy with internal conflicts? What is your take on that? What is your understanding of the establishment of the Zionist regime?

Israel is essentially a European – and later American – aircraft carrier parked in the most sensitive area of Southwest Asia – what the West calls “the Middle East – to divide and rule Arabs, sow perpetual chaos, and expand its (never defined) borders to the benefit of a myth, the notion of Eretz Israel (“Greater Israel”). Such an entity obviously can survive only if it faces “threats” and is perpetually surrounded by “enemies” (the narrative of “tiny” and “defenseless” Israel surrounded by brutes.) “Threats” and “enemies” essentially comprise the Palestinians; previously all Arabs, and then, narrowing down to Iraq (destroyed by the US invasion/occupation) and Syria (being destroyed by a NATO/GCC alliance as we speak); and finally Iran, because of the Islamic revolution; the fact that Iran’s foreign policy is independent; and that Iran is the de facto major power in the region. The fact that Israel and the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia have a shady alliance with plenty of convergence in their foreign policy is all we need to know about the Israeli power play in the region.

Continue reading THE REAL COALITION AGAINST DAESH IS THE “4+1”: RUSSIA, SYRIA, IRAN, IRAQ PLUS HEZBOLLAH, by Pepe Escobar

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‘Moderate Rebels’ Terrorize Syrian Civilians, by Eva Bartlett

Source: In Gaza

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Saed Mutanus al-Khashoof, from the Christian village of Sadad but living in al-Zahra’a, killed in today’s terrorist explosions. (via Homs News Network)

Original Title: “SAVE OUR SOULS. PROTECT OUR CHILDREN AND WOMEN. LEAVE US SURVIVE IN PEACE.”-WORDS OF A TERRORIZED AL-ZAHRA’A RESIDENT”

The terror-ravaged neighbourhood of al-Zahra’a, in Homs, has again mercilessly been hit by western&saudi-backed terrorists’ bombings. Local journalists put the number of murdered at 57 now, some hours after the double-vehicle bombing earlier today.

Russia Today reports:

“The explosions at a traffic light at al-Siteen Street in the al-Zahra neighborhood happened within minutes of each other, witnesses said. …Witnesses said at least one of the two blasts was triggered by a suicide bomber driving a car.

A follow-up bombing after an initial blast is a common terrorist tactic, which allows them to hit first responders, who rush to help victims….”

Al-Zahra’a has been repeatedly targeted by western-backed terrorists, with almost no condemnation from the same leaders who cried for Paris.

I wrote about this in January 2016 for Russia Today:

“On December 12, 2015, terrorists car-bombed, then suicide-bombed, the al-Zahra’a neighborhood of Homs, Syria, killing at least 16 civilians and injuring over 50, according to initial reports from Syrian State media (later updates noted 20 dead and over 100 injured). The deaths and destruction from the initial car-bombing—near the Ahli Hospital—was made worse since the terrorists set off their bomb next to a natural gas delivery truck. Later, a terrorist returned to the scene and detonated his explosive vest among rescuers who had come to help the injured.

This pattern repeated itself on December 28, 2015, in al-Zahra’a, where a car bomb followed by a suicide bomb, killed up to 30 civilians, and injured over 100, according to Syrian state media initial reports. Again, on January 26, terrorists car and suicide bombed al-Zahra’a, killing at least 24 and injuring over 100, many critically-so, according to Syrian state media.

The al-Zahra’a district of Homs had been terror-bombed many times prior to the December 12 attacks, as have other areas of Homs, including the Ekrama district, which suffered a school bombing on October 1, 2014. There, terrorists car and suicide-bombed next to the school, killed 45 people, mostly children and women, according to al-Masdar News. Video footage showed terrified, maimed and dead children being carried away from the school….”

Tragically, on the same day as this latest terror act by NATO’s mercenaries in al-Zahra’a, the Damascus residential district of Sayyida Zeinab suffered three terrorist bombings.

Continue reading ‘Moderate Rebels’ Terrorize Syrian Civilians, by Eva Bartlett

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Towards a reversal of the situation in the Near East, by Thierry Meyssan

Source: Voltaire Network

The days of the « Arab Spring » are almost over. As of now, the White House and the Kremlin are redesigning the contours of the « Greater Middle East ». However, their agreement, which was concluded before the Russian military intervention in Syria, could still be modified by the changes in the balance of power. There is no proof that Moscow will accept the stabilisation of Syria or ignore the partition of Turkey and Saudi Arabia which are soon to begin. In any event, the coming upheaval will modify the status quo which has been in place for the last five years. Most of the powers implicated are therefore scrambling to change sides before the other players.

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Whatever its home country, the Press is currently too occupied with analysing the position of its own State in the Near East conflict to take any note of the ongoing global negotiations between the White House and the Kremlin [1]. As a result, it is misinterpreting certain secondary events. In order to clarify the current diplomatic agitation, we have to revisit the USA-Russian agreement of last September.

The public part of this agreement was formulated by Russia in a document distributed on the 29th September at the UN Security Council [2]. It indicates that in order to re-establish peace and stability in North Africa and the Near East, it is essential – and sufficient –

(1) to apply the resolutions of the Security Council – which notably implies the retreat of Israël to its 1967 borders – and

(2) to combat terrorist ideology – in other words, to fight the Muslim Brotherhood, created by the United Kingdom and supported by Turkey, and the Wahhabism propagated by Saudi Arabia.

It had originally been planned that Russia should call for the adoption of a resolution to this end during the Security Council meeting of the 30th September. However, the United States opposed this initiative less than one hour beforehand [3]. Sergey Lavrov therefore presided over the talks without mentioning his project. This major event can only be interpreted as a tactical disagreement which must not block a strategic agreement.

On the 20th October, at the Kremlin, President Vladimir Putin received his Syrian counterpart, Bachar el-Assad, in the presence of his Ministers for Defence and Foreign Affairs, the General Secretary of the Russian Council for National Security and the head of the secret services. The meeting concerned the application of the Russia-US plan, including the agreement of the Geneva Communiqué of 30th June 2012 [4]. President el-Assad pointed out that he was following the instructions of this Communiqué, and in particular, that he had integrated into his government the opposition parties who had requested participation, as required by the description in the Communiqué of a Transitional Governing Body.

Continue reading Towards a reversal of the situation in the Near East, by Thierry Meyssan

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Israel’s IDF Forces Kill Hebron Peace Activist, Hashem Azzeh

Source: Global Research

Hashem Azzeh with his young daughter (date unknown)
Hashem Azzeh with his young daughter (date unknown)

Hashem Azzeh was the Israeli government’s worst nightmare.

First, he was Palestinian. Second, he was educated, a medical doctor. Third, he was a leader in his community. Which brings us to his next offense, he was a peace activist. Finally, and perhaps most aggravating for the Israeli state, he adamantly refused to be forced from his home in Hebron’s Old City – though the IDF and Israeli settlers, who lived in houses perched right above his, never tired of using intimidation and violence to try and push Hashem and his young family from their home.

IDF soldiers are a constant presence in the Old City, providing cover for the approximately 500 Israeli settlers who lord over and terrorize the tens of thousands of Palestinians who live in this part of Hebron.

Today, October 21, those soldiers killed Hashem Azzeh.

Hashem was not someone who could be cowed or silenced by fear. Even after being sentenced by the IDF to house arrest for several years, a punishment that caused him to lose his medical job with the UN, Hashem did not stop advocating for the liberation of his people.

He managed a psychological support group for members of his community, encouraging them to speak about the trauma that was a part of their daily lives. Together with his wife, Nisreen, he created a social enterprise for Hebron’s young Palestinian women, helping them to learn skills and earn money to support themselves and their families.

Continue reading Israel’s IDF Forces Kill Hebron Peace Activist, Hashem Azzeh

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Israel, the Media and the Anatomy of a Sick Society, by Eric Draitser

Source: Counterpunch

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The video of 13 year old Palestinian Ahmed Manasrah bleeding to death on the pavement of an East Jerusalem neighborhood has been described as “shocking,” “disturbing,” and “painful to watch.” The callous verbal abuse and insults from Israelis watching the child writhe in agony are variously characterized as “heartless” and “cruel”; and indeed they are. “Die you son of a whore. Die! Die!” the Israeli onlookers can be heard shouting in the video which has since gone viral on social media.

While there has been much discussion of this video, and other similar incidents involving the extrajudicial executions of Palestinian youths accused by Israel of having stabbed Israelis (the veracity of some of these claims is disputed), there is decidedly little examination of the sociological implications. Specifically, it has become taboo to interrogate just what sort of ideological and psychological conclusions can be drawn about Israelis society – a society where such behavior is not an outlier; where, rather than being an anomaly, it is indicative of a significant, if not mainstream, attitude. Such undeniably barbaric treatment is not simple hate, and cannot be explained away or justified. But that is precisely what the corporate media does.

Suffice to say that there are many political analysts, activists, and others who are timid about outright condemnations of Israeli society and Israeli attitudes. They are, with much justification, fearful of being demonized as anti-Semitic, terrified that rather than open dialogue and critical examination, they will have their arguments twisted and portrayed as hateful and racist. While such accusations are sometimes warranted – as in the case of fascist bigots and neo-Nazis for whom “Jew” is synonymous with “evil” – more often than not these are willfully deceptive deflections designed to shield Israeli society from the criticism that it so clearly deserves.

Continue reading Israel, the Media and the Anatomy of a Sick Society, by Eric Draitser

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Lebanon – What if it Fell?, by Andre Vltchek

Source: Counterpunch

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Beirut is burning; it is hurt, angry and uncertain about its own future.

Ambulances are howling. Hundreds are injured. Rubber bullets are flying and so is live ammunition.

A Revolution? A rebellion?

Who are those men, stripped from their waist up, muscular, throwing stones at the security forces in the center of Beirut? Are they genuine revolutionaries? Are they there in order to reclaim so badly discredited “Arab Spring”?

Or did they come here in a show of force, because the West is paying them? If the Lebanese state collapses, ISIL could move in, and occupy at least a substantial part of Lebanon. That would suit the West’s interests, and those of Turkey, as well as the Gulf States.

Or Israel could take advantage of the vacuum, and invade Lebanon, once again. Or both ISIL and Israel.

[Please click below to continue reading] Continue reading Lebanon – What if it Fell?, by Andre Vltchek

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