These are all the Blogs posted on Friday, 25, 2013.
Friday, 25 January 2013
The Western Media Covers Israel Except When It Doesn't
Where's the Coverage? Israel the Only Free Country in the Middle East
Maybe they were too busy bemoaning the state of Israel’s democracy to do any actual reporting, but the mainstream news media completely ignored a report by Freedom House, an independent watchdog group dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world, that rated Israel as the only free country in the Middle East.
Israel remains the region’s only Free country. In recent years, controversies have surrounded proposed laws that threatened freedom of expression and the rights of civil society organizations. In most cases, however, these measures have either been quashed by the government or parliament, or struck down by the Supreme Court.
In other words, Israel’s democracy works. By contrast, both Gaza, under Hamas, and the West Bank, under the Palestinian Authority were rated “Not Free,” as was Jordan. Lebanon and Egypt ranked as merely “Partly Free.”
In a section called “Worst of the Worst,” Freedom House cited three of Israel’s neighbors: Sudan, “ruled by a leadership that has elements of both radical Islamism and a traditional military junta,” Saudi Arabia, “an absolute monarchy with severe social controls,” and Syria, “a dictatorship in the midst of a bloody civil war.”
To look at a map of world freedom, click on this link. You’ll have to enlarge it quite a bit to see the sliver of green freedom that is Israel in the sea of yellow (“partly free”) and purple (“not free”) that is the Middle East and North Africa.
Given the hyper-focus on Israel by the press, one might expect news outlets to at least mention this positive evaluation of the Jewish State. However, although Israeli and Jewish outlets reported the Freedom House study, CAMERA could not locate any mainstream news media that covered it. More embarrassing still, even Egypt’s Daily News wrote:
Egypt is now one of six countries in the Middle East that is classified by Freedom House as “partly free”. Eleven are classed as “not free”, while Israel is the region’s only “free” country.
A newspaper in a country that has only recently been upgraded to “partly free” covered Israel's "free" ranking but news outlets in “free” countries did not. One has to ask, why the hesitancy to report something positive about Israel's democracy? And, as usual… Where’s the coverage?
Maybe it’s just me, but I fail to appreciate the diverse and enriching experience of having a large, wild predatory animal scavenging around school grounds where middle school children, many of them handicapped, are taught or in the park where they play.
After seeing the coyote twice with my own eyes and conferring with neighbors who’d seen it for almost two weeks, I called Nashville's Metro Animal Control and the woman there told me coyotes are not within their purview and in addition, coyotes are impossible to trap – too wily, you see.
And when I called the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to report the danger, I was told to “just clap your hands and it will run away. They’re more afraid of you than you are of it. Coyotes are impossible to trap. They won't go in a trap.”
“But it’s injured,” I said. “It’s limping, but it’s very bold. It doesn’t seem afraid at all. It must be scavenging around the playground for bits of food the children drop.”
“Yes,” said the woman from TWRA, “it was probably shot by hunters. It will heal up in a few days and be gone. They only live about three years and then die of heartworms.”
“It’s been there for two weeks already. And what about pets? It definitely can’t chase rabbits. Won’t it kill cats or small dogs?”
“That is the pet owners’ responsibility. It is up to them to keep their cats indoors and their dogs on a leash. A dog running free is just an open invitation to a hungry coyote.”
“But what about the children at the school?”
“Coyotes are all over. This is the third call I’ve received this morning just like this.”
“Just like this.”
So there we are. Metro Animal Control said it’s not their problem and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said we’re on our own. Could I shoot it myself? I wondered. A quick google, informed me that one can shoot coyotes legally, just not within the city limits, where any discharge of a firearm is forbidden. Unfortunately, that’s where the unwanted and dangerous coyotes are.
Next, I contacted Animal Pros wildlife removal service. The man there told me that coyotes can surely be trapped and he didn’t know why both the state and the county had informed me otherwise. He told me, “By law, after trapping, the animal would have to be euthanized,” however. Better than its having mauled a child, I thought. Another quick google and it was confirmed to me that coyote trapping is standard industry procedure for private animal removal companies across the nation.
Then I called Miss Grey at J T Moore Middle School and she told me school officials had been told the same thing by Animal Control and TWRA and so they would have to consider using a private agency to trap it – now they know it can be done, that is. She seemed quite relieved.
The question is, why would both the county and the state inform those officials responsible for the welfare of our children that there is nothing to be done about a dangerous wild animal on school grounds? Or perhaps the question is not why they did it, but rather how did ease and confidence of lying to the public they are pledged to serve first begin? One would expect to be lied to by bureaucrats in say, Soviet Russia, but here in the United States this comes as a small shock. We used to be able to depend on the advice we received from the county agent – they were the experts on land use and wildlife – solid, neighborly types who gave practical advice of the kind predicated by, “You know what I’d do about this is...”
The woman at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency had obviously been directed to lie to the public. I thought about phoning back to find out who gave the directive, but does it really matter?
It is the little things which gradually chip away at the public trust in government.
Man charged with rape as Bullfinch inquiry continues
It is Day 7 of the trial at the Old Bailey of 9 specimens from Oxford. According to the live blog from the Oxford Mail Girl 1 has continued to give her evidence. Meanwhile Operation Bullfinch, the inquiry into the abuse of these and other girls continues with further arrests. From the Oxford Mail.
CHILD sex exploitation police have charged a man with rape and sexual assault as part of the Operation Bullfinch investigation.
Sameer Tasib, of Wilkins Road, Oxford, will appear at Oxford Crown Court on February 11 for a plea and directions hearing. The 22-year-old was charged in November but police only released the information yesterday.
Nine men are currently on trial at the Old Bailey in London accused of involvement in an alleged child sex ring in Oxford.
Meanwhile, four men aged between 19 and 35 answered police bail yesterday and were released on bail until February 26.
Smokers, I have found, are inclined to disbelieve just how unpleasant others find their habit. Since they themselves can’t or don’t detect the lingering smell of stale smoke in rooms, in corridors, on clothes, even in books (my second-hand copy of Father Coplestone’s study of Nietzsche is a smoke-filled room in itself), they think that non-smokers exaggerate when they complain of it. They don’t believe that the smoke that gets in your eyes stings, or that it rasps the throat, or that it destroys pleasure in food. The late Christopher Hitchens, an inveterate smoker, told a self-congratulatory anecdote about how he was bravely determined to strike a blow for freedom by breaking the law in New York. Determined to smoke a cigarette in a restaurant, he asked the people at the next table whether they minded if he lit up. It was characteristic of smokers’ egotism, and perhaps that of the author also, that he thought his question a neutral one, such that a reply to the effect that they did not mind meant that they really did not mind. When a guest in my house asks if I mind if he smokes, of course I always say that I do not and make light of my own distaste.
My mother smoked cigarettes until she was 48 years old, and when she was 70 the emphysema which they had given her became manifest and restricted her activity for the rest of her life. My father smoked an evil-smelling pipe, to which I cannot pay better tribute than the last words of James I’s famous Counterblaste to Tobacco of 1604:
… lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the nose, harmfull to the
braine, dangerous to the lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume
thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit
that is botomlesse.
Smokers, in throwing away the butts of their cigarettes, treat the world not as their oyster but as their ashtray. Whenever I see a smoker toss his cigarette end into the gutter, as unthinkingly as a cow relieves itself in a field, I feel a surge of anger or despair at his implicit assumption that the world is there for his convenience.
I am no friend to smoking, therefore; but even I feel a certain unease about the zealotry of the anti-smokers. The problem is that, in the modern world (though perhaps it was always so), a good cause is turned into rent-seeking, and generally into rent-finding as well.
Examination of the legal proceedings in the United States against the tobacco companies persuaded me that the real tort in the case was, in effect, the transfer of the profits of the tobacco companies from the shareholders to the trial lawyers. The last thing that anyone wanted to do was drive the milch-cow, the tobacco companies, into bankruptcy, or simply to close them down so that they could be sued no more. Governments, which had been deriving large revenues from the tobacco companies’ products for many years in spite of knowledge of the effects of smoking, were at least as responsible for any harm done by tobacco as the companies. No doubt the tobacco companies lied in a disgraceful fashion about the harmfulness of their products, but I have never met anyone who believed their lies; and although no longer young, I grew up knowing that smoking was bad for you in the same way that I knew that the world was round and the Battle of Hastings was in 1066. As to the supposed impossibility of giving up smoking once started because of the addictiveness of nicotine, this was clearly nonsense; what millions of people (including my mother) have done cannot be impossible.
The transformation of a good cause into a bureaucratico-commercial opportunity was illustrated by a little item in the British Medical Journal for January 5, 2013. It was headed ‘Anti-smoking campaign uses images of cancerous tumors on cigarettes,’ and describes how the British government is to spend public money on a series of commercials in which cancers are seen, with startling realism, to be growing in cigarettes as they are smoked. A bizarre comment by a public health doctor perfectly captured the pathology – if I may be allowed a medical metaphor – of modern egalitarianism. He is reported to have said ‘[we] urge caution that the approach may benefit some more than others…’ This seems to imply that it would be better, which is to say more socially just, to save no one from the harmful effect of cigarettes than to save only some. Would a surgeon be justified in refusing to treat a cancer patient on the grounds that there were people with the same cancer undiagnosed in the general population, and that his operation would save only one among all the sufferers from cancer?
However, it was not this that really caught my eye, but rather the information that smokers are to be simultaneously encouraged ’to collect “quit kits” – practical tools and advice to help smokers quit smoking – which are available free of charge from more than 8200 pharmacies across England.’
The question I want to ask is why should such advice and equipment be provided free of charge to people who are prepared to pay $9.60 or more per packet of cigarettes? If they can afford the cigarettes, surely they can afford what will supposedly replace them? Why, then, should these things be provided at public rather than at private expense? It is not implausible, indeed, that having to pay for these things would make them more effective when taken up.
Let us, however, assume the opposite for the sake of argument. Let us suppose that, as a result of their being free of charge, more people take up the ‘kits’ and as a result of doing so stop smoking than would have been the case had they had to pay for them (this is also plausible). What then is the justification?
It is utilitarian. The cost of providing the kits will be more than offset by the savings on healthcare of the people who give up smoking and thereby become healthier. The public expenditure is therefore economically rational.
However, if an economically utilitarian argument is used to justify such public expenditure it must take into account all relevant factors. For example, smoking is now overwhelmingly concentrated among the poorest, least skilled and least productive sector of the population. If smokers work at all, it is in the sector of the economy that requires least training. By dying before retirement age, a smoker who works makes room for an unemployed person who would otherwise be in receipt of social security. (Unemployment is concentrated in the same sector of society as smokers.) Moreover, by dying early, a smoker, having paid an enormous amount of excise tax throughout his life, saves the economy the trouble of paying him a pension for many years. It is therefore far from certain that, from the purely economic point of view, we should be discouraging smoking by the smoking classes: and this quite apart from the fact that the tobacco industry provides employment for many.
These are very unpleasant arguments: but he who lives by utility dies by utility. If the utilitarian shies away from the arguments on the grounds that they are too distasteful to be considered, and turns instead to deontology – that it is obligatory to save human life wherever possible – then they are surely more effective ways of preventing deaths from smoking than by providing free kits at 8200 pharmacies, for example by outright prohibition. Whatever the difficulties and drawbacks of such prohibition, it would almost certainly save lives; and therefore, from the deontological point of view, would be obligatory.
Irrespective of the practical effects of providing such kits free of charge at public expense, there is the psychological and cultural effect of doing so, an effect that is intangible no doubt but important (for, as Einstein pointed, not everything that is measurable is important and not everything that is important is measurable). What providing such kits free of charge tells the population, at bottom, is ‘Indulge yourself and others will take care of the consequences.’
The ‘others’ are an alliance of government and corporate interests. Telling people to indulge themselves and let others take, or at least pay, for the consequences is the way to groom them for life not in a liberal society, a society of individual actors who assume responsibility for their acts, but in a corporatist one, precisely the society that we have. Whether it can or ever will be any different, I have not the faintest idea. It has been different in the past, but the past is another country where they do things differently.
Was Israel Behind the Rumored Fordow Nuclear Enrichment Explosion in Iran?
Fordow uranium enrichment site
Photograph: Digital Globe/Reuters
According to Reza Kahlili, ex-CIA spy inside Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, his sources informed him that the underground Fordow uranium enrichment facility may have been destroyed on Monday in a massive explosion. In a stunning WorldNetDaily (WND) report, “Sabotage! Key Iranian nuclear facility hit?” Kahlili reveals elements of this important development:
An explosion deep within Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility has destroyed much of the installation and trapped about 240 personnel deep underground, according to a former intelligence officer of the Islamic regime.
The previously secret nuclear site has become a center for Iran’s nuclear activity because of the 2,700 centrifuges enriching uranium to the 20-percent level. A further enrichment to weapons grade would take only weeks, experts say.
The level of enrichment has been a major concern to Israeli officials, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly has warned about the 20-percent enriched stockpile.
The explosion occurred Monday, the day before Israeli elections
Here are the details from as yet unconfirmed reports from Kahlili:
According to a source in the security forces protecting Fordow, an explosion on Monday at 11:30 a.m. Tehran time rocked the site, which is buried deep under a mountain and immune not only to airstrikes but to most bunker-buster bombs. The report of the blast came [via a former official ]with the Islamic regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and National Security,
The blast shook facilities within a radius of three miles. Security forces have enforced a no-traffic radius of 15 miles, and the Tehran-Qom highway was shut down for several hours after the blast, the source said. As of Wednesday afternoon, rescue workers had failed to reach the trapped personnel.
The site, about 300 feet under a mountain, had two elevators which now are out of commission. One elevator descended about 240 feet and was used to reach centrifuge chambers. The other went to the bottom to carry heavy equipment and transfer uranium hexafluoride. One emergency staircase reaches the bottom of the site and another one was not complete. The source said the emergency exit southwest of the site is unreachable.
The regime believes the blast was sabotage and the explosives could have reached the area disguised as equipment or in the uranium hexafluoride stock transferred to the site, the source said. The explosion occurred at the third centrifuge chambers, with the high-grade enriched uranium reserves below them.
The information was passed on to U.S. officials but has not been verified or denied by the regime or other sources within the regime.
Though the news of the explosion has not been independently verified, other sources previously have provided WND with information on plans for covert operations against Iran’s nuclear facilities as an option before going to war. The hope is to avoid a larger-scale conflict. Israel, the U.S. and other allies already have concluded the Islamic regime has crossed red lines in its quest for nuclear weapons, other sources have said.
We posted on Monday Kahlili’s report that an alleged Iranian mole inside Mossad had tipped off the Intelligence arm of the Supreme Leader that Israel and others in the West were seeking to sabotage the Islamic regime’s uranium enrichment program. That prior report came in the wake of a deferral of negotiations by Iran given IAEA demands to obtain information on nuclear trigger testing at the Parchin research facility. Previously, there had been reports of US plans to attack Iranian civilain power facilities including those near Fordow.
If this latest report is independently confirmed it would mark a stunning setback in Iran’s timetable for completion of uranium enrichment to produce sufficient fissile materials to build several nuclear devices. US analysts had predicted that Iran would not achieve that objective until 2014. That assessment was before the unconfirmed destruction of the Fordow enrichment facility near Qom. Could PM Netanyahu have commissioned the covert action against the Fordow enrichment facility prior to his dramatic ‘crossing red lines’ speech before the UN General assembly in September 2012? Conduct of such special ops requires significant intelligence, planning and deployment of assets with the assurance that it could succeed. Or could the explosion at Fordow be self-inflicted, meaning the equivalent of an unforeseen ‘industrial accident’? Even if US and Israeli intelligence can evaluate confirmed reports, we may not know the outcome for weeks or months. As in the case of Israel’s dramatic IAF attack that destroyed the Syrian nuclear bomb factory on the banks of the Euphrates River in September 2007, Israel will remain mum. The US and others might disclose this stunning development.. It would be a possible setback to Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons poised to provide a nuclear umbrella to threaten Israel, US and Sunni antagonists in the Gulf region.
Clashes Turn Deadly After Iraqi Forces Open Fire on Protesters
By DURAID ADNAN
BAGHDAD – At least four protesters and two soldiers were shot dead on Friday in clashes that started after Iraqi Army forces opened fire on demonstrators who had pelted them with rocks on the outskirts of Falluja. It was the first time that one of the anti-government protests that have been seething in Iraq for more than a month have led to deadly confrontation between the protesters, who are mostly Sunni opponents of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and government forces.
A security source said one clash started when protesters began attacking the government forces with rocks at a checkpoint near a main highway. The forces opened fire, angering demonstrators who responded by burning army vehicles and two cars belonging to a lawmaker from the mainly Sunni Iraqiya bloc and to a local politician from Anbar Province where Falluja is located. A medical source in Falluja, west of Baghdad, said a civilian was killed and about 40 people were wounded.
Later, unidentified gunmen shot dead two soldiers and wounded one at an army checkpoint south of Falluja in apparent retaliation, and gunmen kidnapped three soldiers, a police source said.
The Iraqi Defense Ministry later broadcast a statement saying it would investigate and punish those responsible for the gunfire, while compensating the people who were harmed.
Sectarian unrest and political tension have been worsening since December, when security forces loyal to Mr. Maliki, a Shiite, raided the home of the country’s Sunni finance minister.
The raid revived accusations by Sunnis and others that Mr. Maliki and his political bloc were seeking to monopolize power before provincial elections in April. Mr. Maliki, who became prime minister during the American-led military occupation of Iraq, has denied the accusations and rejected demands to resign.
Protests have been seething since then, mostly intensifying on Fridays when the week’s largest communal prayer sessions are held, inspiring what are now known as “No Retreat Fridays.” There were also demonstrations in Ninevah, Salahuddin, Diyala and Kirkuk provinces calling for government reforms.
“The army must get out of Anbar now and leave it to the police forces, because the people are very angry about the direct gunfire from the army toward the peaceful protesters,” said a local religious leader, Imam Ahmed Deri, who was at the demonstration in Falluja.
“We will continue protesting and this will give us more strength to face any kind of force,” he added, while warning about the potential for retaliation from protesters angered over the shooting. “We will do our best to keep it peaceful.”
One of the protesters, Muhammed Abdula, said: “This army is not wanted here anymore. We will not allow them in anymore, we are peaceful protesters. The army must protect us, not attack us. Is this the democracy that Maliki talks about? We give them words and they give us gunfire?”
In Nineveh, thousands of protesters called on the government to step down.
“Today we protest in Mosul, tomorrow we take the streets of Baghdad,” they shouted.
But in Baghdad, in Firdous Square, where the Americans orchestrated the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue in 2003, hundreds gathered to support Mr. Maliki’s government and to demand that efforts be made to prevent the return of Baathist leaders to power.
The Fiasco In Iraq That Turns Into Our Iraqi "Victory"
It had to happen, of course.The Iraqi Army, which is now controlled by a Shi'te regime that has no intention of sharing control of that army, which has been built up, and supplied with all sorts of weaponry, by the same Americans who prate about "the Iraqi people" as they do about "the Syrian people" (as in: "the Syrian people want freedom"). Whether it was Maliki, or some other Shi'ite in power, the Shi'ites are not going to give the Sunnis what the Sunnis think they deserve. And the Sunnis, even those who would not use a phrase such as "Rafidite dogs," will never acquiesce to their new, and inferior, station, will never regard being dominated by Shi'a as anything other than unnatural. And that is why perpetual war -- it could be low-level war, but it will be war -- between members of the two sects in Iraq always was inevitable. Once the Americans removed Saddam Hussein, his sons, and his collaborators, power necessarily shifted to the Shi'a, who constitute at leastr 60^ of the population, that is more than three times the number of Sunni Arabs. And though the Kurds are mostly Sunni, they suffered from Saddam Hussein's regime (with 182,000 murdered), and are unlikely to come to the aid of Sunni Arabs. Nor are they likely to accept rule by Shi'ite Arabs, or dictates as to what they can do with the oil of Kirkuk and Mosul. The violence in the Qur'an, and Hadith, and Sira, are what mold the minds of Muslims. You will not find a mosque khutba that contains such words as "goodness" and "mercy" and "charity" and so on, as you would at any Christian service. The tone is different, the lessons are different. Why not recognize that, and recognize that despotism, or violent anarchy, are the poles between which Muslim lands are likely to swing. There is not a Muslim Burke or Bagehot, not a Musliim Constitution that commands full legitimacy other than the Shari'a. Recognize this, build policies upon that recognition, put Islam, and its adherents, in their proper place, and regard them with the permanent suspicion and hostility that their ideology, and the adherents and defenders of that ideology, deserve. And keep them from acquiring weaponry that can do non-Muslims harm, and keep them out, or keep their numbers down as low as possible, in the non-Muslim world. And to keep the Camp of Islam off-base, do nothing to discourage the pre-existing fissures -- sectarian, ethnic, economic, and at times cultural (the contempt felt by northern Arabs for the Arabs of the Gulf) -- within that Camp. Finally, by unapologetically, and on every occasion, showing that you know what Islam is all about, and by writing and speaking aloud about all the ways that Islam explains the many failures, political, economic, social, intellectual, and moral, of Islam, you will ensure that these views are heard and, in being angrily rejected, are brought to the attention of Musliims everywhere. And some of them will have to listen, and quietly, to themselves, in demoralized fashion concede the truth of what has been said.
That's all you need do. Only this and nothing more.
Fitzgerald: In Iraq, Is What's To Come Still Unsure? [April 2010]
In Iraq, Is What's To Come Still Unsure?
by Hugh Fitzgerald (April 2010)
In 2005 Iraq held the first genuine election in the more than eighty years of its history. Until 1932 the British troops remained in Iraq, creating a country, of sorts, out of three former Ottoman vilayets – Mosul (dominated by Kurds), Baghad (dominated by Sunni Arabs), and Basra (dominated by Shi’a Arabs), under a monarch, King Feisal, a Sunni and, what’s more, a Hashemite, whose imposition led to a revolt by the Shi’a, a revolt put down, expensively, by the British. When they left, they did so only after receiving assurances that nothing bad would happen to the indigenous Christians of Iraq. Within a few months of their departure, one hundred thousand Assyrians were massacred by Muslims. One writer, William Saroyan, a survivor of the Muslim massacres (by Turks and Kurds) of Christian Armenians, even wrote a book about it. He undercounted; the title of his book was “70,000 Assyrians.” The monarchy remained in place, though the real power was always to be found in the hands of some plotter or strongman. There was Rashid Ali, who was pro-Nazi and whom the British, with help from Jewish volunteers from Mandatory Palestine, managed to overthrow. But mostly, beginning in the 1930s, and then all through the 1940s, and into the 1950s, there was the man formulaically described by the Western press as “strong man” Nuri es-Said.
In 1958 there was Colonel Qassem’s coup against the ancien regime. Nasser and Naguib – the “colonels” – had overthrown fat Farouk. Why should not Colonel Qassem, who whatever his faults was famously incorruptible, do the same? Once Nasser became primus inter pares, he had the Egyptain government seize the property of all those non-Muslims who had, along with the Copts, been the mainstay of the Egyptian economy. There were in Egypt Greeks (Cavafy was born in Alexandria), Italians (Ungaretti was born in Alexandria), and Jews (both those who whose families had lived for centuries in Egypt and those who had arrived more recently from Europe). When Nasser seized their property, and booted them all out, or created the conditions that forced them to leave, he did so in a nationalist guise. But that seizure could also be seen as a kind of delayed balloon-payment, after years of no payment, under the British, of the Jizyah that the Shari’a demanded. No Egyptian Muslims found the seizure objectionable, none worried about what would happen when those who were not hampered either by hatred of bid’a (innovation) or inshallah-fatalism were removed from the scene, and though, among a certain tiny class of Egyptians there may be some nostalgia for Yacoubian-Building cosmopolitanism, there has been no understanding of how Islam, unchained, always and everywhere leads to the suppression, and the driving out, of non-Muslims (if they can get out), and has led, all over the Middle East, from Cairo to Beirut to Baghdad, to ever-growing Islamization, and an environment ever more hostile to cultural development and to the kind of “diversity” that is not merely a cover for affirmative action and illegal immigration (as in the United States) but that makes sense. And, though it took a while for the reforms instituted by Lord Cromer, who had arrived in 1882 in order to bring a semblance of honesty and efficiency to the Egyptian Civil Service, were undone, the Egyptian governments, from Nasser to Sadat to Mubarak, apparently had enough time to do so.
In Iraq, the economic activity in Baghdad under the British – when the city was one-third Jewish, the second Jewish city in Asia – slowly came undone once the British left. Great Britian was never a colonial power in Iraq; there were no British colonists, and the British were present, aside from wartime – when they freed the Middle East, including the Arabs and Kurds, from the Turks, and later, during World War II, helped overthrow the pro-Nazi Rashid Ali and keep the oil of Iraq from being used by the Germans – the British were in Iraq for all of a decade, from 1922 to 1932. That was the period of nation-constructing, and Iraq was constructed out of three former Ottoman vilayets: Mosul (chiefly Kurdish), Baghdad (chiefly Sunni Arab, because the vilayet of Baghdad included western Iraq as well), and Basra (chiefly Shi’a Arab). They established a monarchy, and placed on that throne a Sunni Arab, the Hashemiate Feisal, whose older brother was similarly given a kingdom by the British – or rather, an emirate that would later promote itself to being a Kingdom – that is, the Emirate of Transjordan. Those who put their faith in the local Arabs were disappointed; Gertrude Bell, who established a Department of Antiquities, killed herself – a little more dramatic an end than the motorcycle accident that killed T. E. Lawrence, who had also been greatly disappointed, at the end, in the Arabs. This theme of disappointment is a continuing one in the history of Infidel relations with Muslims and Arabs: the stories of vast efforts being made to somehow civilize peoples and lands where Islam dominates, and to delude oneself into thinking there was, or could be, a commonality of long-term interest, and of worldviews, between the advanced West and the world of Islam, a primitive world kept permanently primitive by the effect of Islam on the minds of its adherents. It is a continuing theme in the twentieth century, and now, it seems, the Americans have had the baton of disappointment passed to them, and they are headed, in Iraq and then a little later in Afghanistan and Pakistan, for – one hopes – the finish line, so that after taking a rest, and thinking things over, they will recognize the beside-the-pointness, or rather pointlessness, of their efforts.
When the British left Iraq, having suppressed, for the sake of the old Sunni elite in Baghdad, and for the sake of the Sunni Arab monarchy, a revolt by the Shi’a, they expected that all the money they had spent in this place, called by Winston Churchill an “ungrateful volcano,” would possibly pay off. They asked for, and received, assurances, from the local Arabs that they would not harm the Assyrians in northern Iraq. And indeed, the Muslim Arabs did not harm the Christian Assyrians at first, and waited a good six months before starting to massacre them.
The 1930s passed, and the war came, and the pro-Nazi Rashid Ali staged a coup, a coup then undone by the British, with considerable help – never publicly recognized, from Palestinian Jewish volunteers who, in Iraq as in Syria, and as in Egypt, volunteered for the most suicidal missions. In Iraq, it was Jabotinsky’s deputy and likely successor, David Raziel, who died trying to ensure that the oilfields of Iraq did not fall into German hands. The war ended, and the “strongman” of Iraq, the man who starting in the 1920s, and right up until his death, was the main power in Iraq, an inveterate schemer and plotter, Nuri es-Said, made sure the monarchy survived, and that he himself, and those who collaborated with him, did very well.
In 1958, colonel Qassem overthrew the monarchy. Feisal, the Prince Regent, was killed. And more important, Nuri es-Said, who had tried to escape from Baghdad dressed as a woman, was found, killed, and his naked body dragged through the streets of Baghdad so that the populace could hit it with shoes, or mutlilate it, or simply, if they were feeling lazy, just enjoy the spectacle. Such things have happened many times before during Arab regime changes, and no doubt will happen many times in the future.
The plotter Qassem –an honest man, by Iraqi standards – was, in turn, later killed by other plotters, and his dead body, in his office, put on display on Iraqi television. It was a new technology, but put to a good old use in Baghdad. A few more regimes followed, and the “Ba’athists” finally came to power, and the apotheosis of that Ba’athism was to be found in a Sunni Arab from Tikrit, like “strongman” Niru es-Said an inveterate plotter, and one who, when he didn’t succeed the first time, took heed of the old adage, and tried, and tried again.
Saddam Hussein began his rule by calling a meeting of the faithful, and then reading out, haltingly, reluctantly, the names of those who had apparently all along been traitors to the cause, and one by one, they were taken away, taken out of the hall, never to be seen again. Occasionally he, Saddam Hussein, would wipe a ready tear from his eye. It was a moving spectacle. But, with all the “traitors” – that is, any potential rivals or enemies – proleptically eliminated, Saddam Hussein could at long last bring to Iraq his verison of Il Buon Governo, a Government both wise and just. And apparently he succeeded, because whenever he held an election he would get 99.9% of the vote. But Saddam Hussein never received 100% of the vote, as candidates are said to do, for example, in North Korea, no doubt because he reasoned that such a result would have raised eyebrows, someone in the outside world might have suspected something. And that would never do.
Saddam Hussein has often been described as a “Ba’athist.” This is to take the ideology of Ba’athism too seriously. Ba’athism needs to be understood differently. It was the creation of two members of a minority: a Christian Arab from Damascus named Michel Aflaq, and an associate who was a Shi’a Arab, from Syria. Both wanted to find a political something that would give their own groups the possibility of participating in political life. Michel Aflaq knew that if Islam were to define Arab political life, then there would be no place for Christians such as himself. So he concocted this “Ba’athism” which was to be open to all, Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, and also to Christians, all of whom would embrace a local cult of Arabism (which in turn would lead to pan-Arabism), and this Ba’athism was “secular” in the sense that women would not be subject to quite as many restraints as, say, the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia insisted upon, and the whole thing was mainly a question of The Party, and Party organization, and Party meetings. The most important part was this, the emulation of the models provided by the Communists in the Soviet Union and the Nazis in Germany.
Unsurprisingly, Ba’athism took hold only in two places: Syria and Iraq. And in both places this could be explained by the peculiar needs of the two countries. In Syria, 70% of the population was Sunni Arab. But there was a large Christian population (including Arabs and Armenians), and a minority, the Alawites, who had been one of the groups favored by the French, constituting some of the "Troupes Speciales” that the French intelligently employed to watch, and police, the Sunni Arabs (other Troupes Speciales were Druse and Armenians). In the end the Alawites, did so well, as a military caste and class, that they gradually became the officers corps in the Syrian army and air force, and eventually, an Air Force officer named Hafez al-Assad seized power, and ruled over a Syria which was an Alawite despotism, but that despotism was provided with the camouflage of Ba’athism. Theoretically, all who were members of the Ba’ath Party could be among the rulers, but the real power always remained with the Alawite officers. One thing did trouble them, and troubles them still. That is, the Alawites constitute only 12% of the population. And they tend to live apart from others, in Alawite villages. And the Alawites, because of their syncretisim – in Alawite villages you can see pictures of Mary everywhere – are distrusted by the Sunni Arabs, are not regarded as true Muslims. And it was important to the Alawites to be validated, as real Muslims, by means of a declaration, issued by Iranian clerics a few years ago, declaring that the Alawites were indeed real, albeit Shi’a (like the Iranians issuing the fatwa) Muslims. That is unlikely to satisfy the Sunni Arabs of Syria whose most extreme members, the Muslim Brotherhood, conducted attacks against the Alawites – around 1980, they wiped out an entire graduating classs of Alawites at a ceremony – and were then put down by tanks, and by Alawite-officered forces in Hama who told their men to shoot to kill anyone who shouted “Allahu Akbar.”
In Iraq, Ba’athism was used to disguise a different sort of despotism. This was not that of the Alawites, but of the Sunni Arabs who had always held power, but whose percentage of the population kept going steadily down. This happened for several reasons. First, the Shi’a in the south, being poorer, had the consolation of larger families than the Sunnis (the better off always tend to limit family size). And, what is also not recognized, the Shi’a were better at proselytizing among the Sunnis than the Sunnis were among the Shi’a, and some tribes that were split between Sunni and Shi’a members saw the numbers of the latter increase. By the time of Saddam Hussein, the Sunni Arabs constituted 20% of the population. It is true that the Kurds in Iraq are largely Sunni, but their ethnic identity works against any solidarity with Sunni Arabs, especially since Saddam Huseein and his Sunni Arabs massacred 182,000 Kurds.
As stated earlier, Ba’athism should chiefly to be thought of not as a real ideology, but as an organizational structure, a Party with cells down to the local level. It was based on an envious emuliation of the Nazis, of the Communists. Indeed, Saddam Hussein had a fondness for Joseph Stalin, and collected books about him. And all the while a small group of Sunni Arabs, with the odd Kurd or even Christian (Tariq Aziz) as useful window-dressing, ran Iraq, of, by, and for other Sunni Arabs. Shi’a Arabs could join the Ba’ath Party. Iyad Allawi was once a member of the Ba’ath Party, but that had little effect on the distribution of wealth and power – which is what politics is all about in the Arab and Muslim world, as it is in so many other places. – allocated and arrogated to themselves that power, and that money.
When, in the confusion following the attacks 9/11/2001, a mood of “do, do, something” came upon Bush and his Administration, they thought not only of Afghanistan, the immediate haven of Al Qaeda, but of other aggressive regimes. And they thought of Iraq, and Saddam Hussein, and the fact that Saddam Hussein was said to be busily working on weapons of mass destruction – even on a nuclear project. He was not. He had been stopped in his tracks, back in 1980, by the Israeli bombing of the Osirak reactor. While it is now fashionable to claim that there is no point to bombing Natanz or other sites where the Islamic Republic of Iran is racing to complete its own nuclear project, because “they’ll just rebuild it,” the evidence from Iraq suggests that a regime, once attacked by an attacker who gives every sign of being willing to attack, if necessary, again, will not necessarily resume efforts right away.
The Bush Administration made a number of calculations in its Iraq venture. The first was that Saddam Hussein was a “threat to the world” because he was supposedly busy acquiring, or attempting to produce, nuclear weapons and, possibly, biological weapons too. The Americans never understood that for Saddam Hussein, the main threat remained Iran, and Saddam Hussein, like a frog that puffs up in order to frighten off potential predators, Saddam Hussein was denying, as unconvincingly as he could, that he had a nuclear weapons project, not in order to get away with such a project, but to make the Islamic Republic of Iran think that he had such a project, and they’d better not attack him. The American government thought then, and apparently still thinks, that other regimes or states, are chiefly thinking of the Americans. They simply overlooked, did not quite grasp, that Iran was the intended audience, and the efforts to prevent thorough inspections were undertaken not because Saddam Hussein had such weapons and weapons projects, but because he hadn’t, and he did not want Iran -- -- a country with three times the population of Iraq, and with a military that had not suffered, as his had, from the Gulf War defeat – to attempt to get its revenge for the war that he, Saddam Hussein, had started by attacking Iran in 1980.
The second miscalculation, or misunderstanding, was the reliance on those who were described, and thought of, wrongly I’m afraid, as “Iraqi exiles.” Such people as Ahmad Chalabi, Rend al-Rahim, Kanan Makiya, had been out of Iraq for a long time, and thus their assurances that “the Iraqi people” (who do not exist) would greet the American soldiers as liberators or, as Bernard Lewis, to his eternal embarrassment, predicted, the celebration of the American liberation of Iraq “would make Kabul [where delirious crowds had welcomed the American overthrow of the Taliban] seem like a Sunday-School picnic.” But that was not the main problem. The main problem was that all of these “Iraqi esxiles” were Shi’a. There were no Sunnis in exile, and – more tellingly – three were no Iraqi Chrsistians, among those attempting to persuade Bush and Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz – that an invasion of Iraq and an overthrow of Saddam Hussein would be easy, would be a good thing. Impliedly, all Iraqis – “the Iraqi people” – would be “liberated,” and that Iraqi people would then willingly have “freedom” brought to “moms and dads” and, what’s more, turn out to be a natural ally, a loyal ally of the United States, for all that it had done for them in removing, as no one else in the world could or would, the monstrous regime of Saddam Hussein. The inveiglement, by such plausible people as Chalabi, was not hard. Bush, for example, was quoted in one book as asking, after the invasion, with some puzzlement, about what this business of “Sunnis and Shi’a” was all about since he, Bush, thought that “they are all Muslims, arent’ they?” And Wolfowitz, who had been a weapons systems analyst, and had been severely criticized by Richard Pipes, who had served with Wolfowitz on Team Be (appointed to review estimates of Soviet military strength), in an interview in The Boston Sunday Globe, revealed himself as someone lacking in a knowledge of, and appreciation for, the influence of culture, of history, on men. For Wolfowitz, as for Bush, and as for Obama too, People Are The Same The Whole World Over and Want The Same Things. This naïve notion relieved them of the responsibility of studying Islam, and of how well or ill Islam fit with the requirements of advanced Western democracies, and of figuring out what pre-existing fissures might be found in Islam, not to be deplored but to be intelligently exploited. And no one at the top thought to ask Iraqi Christians what they thought of replacing Saddam Hussein. It was assumed that since Saddam Hussein was a monster – he was that – then he must have been equally antipathetic to all decent Iraqis. But some decent Iraqis, including the Assyrians and Chaldeans, knowing just how indecent most of the other Iraqis were, and being among those who, in general, were protected by Saddam Hussein or, more exactly, knew that he, Saddam Hussein, would hold in check the Shi’a Arabs who most threatened them, and that because the center of the political opposition to Saddam Hussein was to be found in Shi’a mosques, Saddam Hussein could be, and was described -- wrongly but understandably, as “secular." What this meant in practice was that he was fine with the notion of Sunni Arab women going off to Great Britain to study chemistry and biology, and come back to serve their country, that is his regime, as one of them did, promoting biological warfare, and earning the sobriquet “Dr. Germ.”
The Bush Administration assumed that the election of 2005 brought genuine democracy into existence in Iraq, that is an election in which voters – including women -- could not only vote but find that their votes would be counted. The purple thumbs many proudly held up were taken to mean that the Bush Administration’s effort to “bring freedom” to “ordinary moms and dads” in the Middle East had been validated. True, there was violence, from both Al Qaeda in Iraq, headed by Al-Zarqawi, a “Palestinian” from Al-Zarqa in Jordan, who despised the Shi’a as “Rafidite dogs” and was determined to make sure that they, and their American supporters, were brought low, and there was violence, too, from Shi’a, some working for Al-Sadr and some for the Iranians, and some for other Shi’a groups, and some on their own, to make life unpleasant and dangerous for Sunni Arabs so that they would leave Baghdad, and that is exactly what many Sunni did. But at least there were elections.
At no time did any commentators in the United States suggest that elections were only one part of advanced Western democracies, that mere balloting was not enough, that the enshrinement of individual rights,– essentially, what is in the American constitutional system guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, but especially iin the First Amendment (the Establishment Clause, the Free Exercise Clause, the Freedom of Speech) and, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (which applies to the states) and has been, through the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, applied to the Federal government as well, was the most important thing. At no time, nowhere in the press, on the radio, on television, did any commentator, any reporter, any columnist, point out that in Islam, political legitimacy is located not in the expressed will of the People, but in the will expressed by Allah and written down in the Qur’an. Political theory was ignored. Islam, a Total Belief-System, was ignored, even though nothing matters, in Muslim countries, as much as what Islam inculcates, what are in the texts,and what the tenets, and what attitudes and atmospherics are the natural result of those texts and those tenets.
And the Bush Administration, and its loyalists, caught up in a messianic sentimentalism about “people,” who all want “freedom” (no, they don’t – many people hate mental and other kinds of freedom, and yearn to be told what to do, especially if at every step they are told they must be mentally submissive, must be “slaves of Allah”) ignored both the nature of Islam, and the tendentious parti-pris of those “Iraqi exiles” who turned out to be “Shi’a exiles” who had so misled them and, in some cases mislead themselves about what Iraq was like. Indeed, Kanan Makiya has in recent years been sounding a note of disappointed puzzlement, as if he could not have foreseen what Iraq would turn out to be like. That, I suspect, is because although he describes himself as secular, or even a freethinker, he remains defensive about Islam when he thinks it is being subject to criticism by non-Muslims (mentioning how fond he was of his pious grandmother, for example), and in his writing on the Arab silence about the massacre of the Kurds, something he finds both shameful (true) and inexplicable (untrue), he can’t quite relate this indifference to the fact that Islam is, and remains, a natural vehicle for Arab supremacism.
In any case, the 2005 voting in Iraq was cause for satisfaction in Washington. Iraqis had bravely defied Al Qaeda, bravely gone out to have their thumbs empurpled, and to cast their votes. It didn’t matter that most Sunni Arabs abstained. Nor did it matter that this was not an election with a proud and independent citizenry casting its votes, as depicted in one of those stirring City-Hall murals (“Democracy”) that were painted with such passion by WPA artists, all over America. No, these were not citizens but members of groups, being told by their clerics, or their tribal chiefs, how to vote either for one of their own, or for someone who was most likely to imitate or sympathize with one of their own.
After that election, the increase in violence in Iraq led some to worry that “the mission” would not be accomplished. Exactly what that mission was, and whether its goals made any sense, were never clearly elucidated, indeed not discussed at all, so that one had to simply figure out more or less what might be meant. What was clear, however, was the reason that the goals of the two-trillion dollar effort in Iraq were not discussed. Had they been, had the attempt been made, their doubtfulness, their confusion, even their idiocy, would have then been apparent. For a year, for two, there were two related developments that suppressed Al Qaeda in Iraq. The first was the overreaching by Al Qaeda in Iraq, often but not always by non-Iraqi Arabs, in which they attacked Sunni tribesmen for being insufficiently loyal and fanatic in their faith. And this, in turn, led a number of leaders of Sunni Arab tribes to recognize that they did not want to the authority of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and if they wished to resist, they would need weapons, and money, from the Americans. And the Americans, recognizing that they had the possibillty of enrolling “the Anbar tribes,” in the war against Al Qaeda, lavished money, lavished arms, and congratulated themselves on their cleverness. It was an obvious strategy to employ, if the goal was limited to effacing Al Qaeda in Iraq.
And this aid to the tribesmen who belonged to the “Awakening” was not accompanied by much thought as to what would then happen later on, what – once Al Qaeda in Iraq had been dealt with -- those Sunni Arabs would want, or demand, as their payoff, from the Shi’a-dominated government of Iraq, or from the Americans. It’s true, the Awakening did damage Al Qaeda in Iraq, though it was not put out of commission altogether. And “the surge” as claimed, “worked” – but only insofar as “the surge” was meant to tamp down inter-communal violence in Baghdad. But what else did this mean? What kind of “success” was achieved? What constituted “success” beyond that diminishment in violence, sufficient to have allowed elections to be held? The Americans had trained, and armed, hundreds of thousands of “Iraqi” troops. But how many of those troops thought of themselves as “Iraqi” and how many would, in a minute, side with the Shi’a, or the Sunni Arabs, or with the Kurds, against the Sunni Arabs, the Shi’a Arabs, or the Kurds, respectively? The Americans had no special sympathy for one group or another, and yet had been in various parts of Iraq inveigled, by one locally-dominant group or another, to do its bidding. What would happen when the Americans left? Would those well-armed lions now lie down with the lambs? And who were those lambs?
If any group of people in Iraq deserved the title of “lambs” it was the Christians, the Assyrians and the Chaldeans. They constituted less than 5% of the population of Iraq in 2003, but one-third of its professional, educated classes. And now half of them have left Iraq, and for good. That means that a great many engineers, teachers, and others in the middle classes have gone, not to be replaced. In the south, they left because those they contemptuously describe as “the turbans” were killing Christians, not merely those who sold liquor but others too. And in Baghdad, and in the north, their Muslim enemies are Sunni Arabs and Kurds. In the south and in Baghdad, they are now subject to “the Turbans” as they call the Shi’a. They cannot feel secure anywhere. As one of them desperately begged, “we don’t want our rights, we only want to stay alive.” It doesn’t seem like much to ask, but for non-Muslims in a Muslim sea, it can feel like quite a bold demand. It does not appear that either the Bush, or the Obama Administrations, have felt keenly the imperilment of the Christians, and what will happen to the half-million who are still in Iraq, and what might happen to them, as happened to the Assyrians in 1932 when the British pulled out.
Now it is April 2010. Last month the long-awaited elections in Iraq took place. The Americans are pulling back, the Americans are leaving, Iraq will now be completely in the hands of Iraqis. But which Iraqis? The Shi’a who now control the government, and the most important ministries? The Shi’a Arabs in alliance with the Kurds? The Sunnis in alliance with the Kurds? The Sunnis in alliance with Shi’a who are “secular” and therefore more alarmed about sectarian Sunni parties? Who, what, where?
Iyad Allawi is said to be the “victor.” What this means is that in a Parliament with several hundred seats, the party of Allawi has won 81 seats, while the runner-up, the Party of Law the party of Nuri Al-Maliki, won 79 seats. What do we know about Allawi? That he is Shi’a in origin, but that he won the support of Sunni Arabs because he is not as narrowly sectarian as the Party of Law or the party of those who follow Al-Hakim, or Moqtada Al-Sadr, or any of the other strictly Shi’a parties based in the region south of Baghdad. What helps Iyad Allawi with the Sunni voters is that he was once a member of the Ba’ath Party, though he then had a falling out with Saddam Hussein, whose agents tried to kill him. This is good fro him in two ways. One, it suggests that he was willing before to join a regime that was favorable to the Sunnis. And it is in his favor that he is regarded as a tough guy, a “strongman,” for Iraq has known only such people, is used to them, and those hungry for stability find the perception, the reputation, of being tough desirable. This reputation depends on two things. One is his his ability to fight back against his attackers, sent to London by Saddam Hussein, and to survive the severe wounds he endured, and re-enter the political fray. And, furthermore, when he was briefly Prime Minister, so it is rumored, Iyad Allawi is said to have personally killed several people. In Iraq, among the masses, that sort of thing goes over well.
So will he be able to win, and to rule? It is hard to see how. No matter what one thinks of him, he is still the “Sunni candidate” even if not Sunni, and the Shi’a, even those who are least interested in Islam and therefore least concerned with the power of the Shi’a qua Shi’a, outcome, it is said, was “inconclusive." Iyad Allawi, the leader of a party that pitched its appeal to the non-sectarian, in fact was preferred by Sunni Arabs, who saw the “secular” Allawi, of Shi’a origin, as their best hope to stand up for Sunni interests. In Iraq, the long-awaited “real” election of 2010 took place. Iyad Allawi’s group has a narrow lead – two seats – over one of the Shi’a groups, that led by the current leader, Al-Maliki. Iyad Allawi is Shi’a, but he is the candidate who has attracted the most support from Sunni Arabs, because he is perceived by them to be the least “sectarian” – meaning, the one who is least inclined to promote the interests of the Shi’a, to make sure that the Shi’a do not have to yield any of the power they have acquired since the American military upended the previous regime.
Even if Allawi were somehow to win the support of more Shi’a who are willing to give the Sunnis a role in the government, which means a role in the distribution of wealth and power, it is hard to see how he will be able to change the makeup of ministries, to allocate more money to Sunnis, more power to Sunnis, and not infuriate most of the Shi’a Arabs who can point, indignantly, to the entire past history of modern Iraq, when they were kept down, their growth – literally and figuratively –was stunted, they constituted the perennially poor and the wretched. The oil of Iraq is under Shi’a-populated lands, and under Kurdish-populated lands. The Sunnis have no oil, no resrouces, of their own. They can be spoilers. They can appeal to Sunni Arabs elsewhere to boycott Iraq diplomatically and economically. They can make it harder for the Shi’a to govern. But if you were Shi’a, and you were aware of what the Shi’a had endured at the hands of the Sunnis, would you care that much to be accepted by the Sunni Arabs? If the price of that acceptance is to yield to the Sunni Arabs who will never acquiesce in their loss of power, isn’t that a price too high? And how much damage can the Sunni Arabs of Iraq do to the Shi’a, now that so many of them have been, over the past seven years, forced out of Baghdad? How much damage can they do if the oil revenues are controlled by a Shi’a-run government? Would Allawi dare to re-allocate resources so as to seem to be rewarding, with the wealth generated by “Shi’a oil,” the Sunnis, rewarding them for their intransigence, their aggression, their assumption that, no matter what their numbers, they have a divine right to rule over the Shi’a who, in their view, are not orthodox, not full-fledged, Muslims.
History, and demographics, and Islam itself, are the three factors that will determine the future of Iraq.
By history I mean the history of Iraq in Arab and Muslim history. Baghdad, is one of the most important cities in the history of Islam, one of the two centers, with Cairo, of Muslim Arab civilization. It is the place where much of Muslim history, of the kind Muslims like to exaggerate and like to recall, was made. They are history-haunted, which is not surprising since for them there is no movement, no real history, outside of Islam, and the glory days of Islamic history lie in the past, and in large part on the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad, destroyed when Hulegu Khan invaded in 1258. The Mongol invasion is still discussed.
By demographics I mean that the Sunni Arabs, who were put in position to rule by the British, with an old Sunni elite dominating in Baghdad from the 1920s on, though they remain convinced that they constitute over 40% of the Iraqi population (they like to use, one military man told me, the figure “42%”), the Shi’a have in recent decades had larger families, and what’s more, have even managed to successfully proselytize, so that now the Sunni Arabs constitute 19% of the population, less than 1/3 that of the Shi’a Arabs. They have owed their power to their control of the military, their dominance of the officer corps; their position is akin to that of the Alawite military caste that controls Syria, despite the fact that Alwaites constitute 12% of the Syrian population.
But what about the Kurds? Aren’t they mostly Sunni? And doesn’t that mean that they would identify with the Sunni Arabs. No. In his excellent book “The Multiple Identities of the Middle East,” Bernard Lewis notes the tug of various identities – in the main, those of religion or sect within religion, and those of ethnic identity, as opposed to the tug, or claim to loyalty, of the nation-state that is a product of the non-Muslim, and therefore alien, West. For the Kurds, so mistreated by the Arabs, their Kurdish identity – not always, but mostly – is likely to take precedence over the sectarian tug of Shi’a or Sunni Islam. And since the latest mass-murdering of Kurds was ordered by the Sunni Arab Saddam Hussein, and carried out by his military, under the direction of Sunni Arab generals, it is unlikely that the Kurds – they too being history-haunted – are likely to support the Sunni Arabs in any contest over power with the Shi’a Arabs. The forced arabization of lands the Kurds consider their own was based not only on destroying whole Kurdish villages, but in moving into those villages, as a replacement population, Arabs – and these Arabs tended to be Sunni, not Shi’a. In Mosul and Kirkuk, both of which the Kurds consider their cities, the chief rivalry is with Sunni Arabs. That is one more reason why Kurds are most likely to side with the Shi’a. Finally, the Shi’a themselves do not need the oil under the Kurdish-ruled regions. They might not care very much if the Sunni Arabs, their historic tormentors, were to lose Mosul and Kirkuk. They don’t need that oil, for in the south they have their own oil. Given the way that the Middle Eastern kaleidoscope can be shaken to give entirely new alliances – think of Lebanon, where the Shi’a were once on the bottom, and now they threaten not only the Christians but the Sunni merchant class as well, and what’s even stranger, though they are dangerous to the wellbeing of the Lebanese Christians, the Alwaite regime in Syria, which within Syria protects the Christians out of reasons of self-interest, in Lebanon supports the current worst enemy of the Christians, the Shi’a Hezbollah.
Finally, however, there is Islam itself. By Islam itself I do not mean only what is in the texts. I don’t mean what the tenets – the rules – of Islam are. I mean as well the set of attitudes that arise naturally in a Muslim, even if he has not necessarily gone to mosque, or read the Qur’an closely. I mean the atmospherics of Muslim states, of societies, even of communities and families living in the West but adhering to Islam. The attitudes that Islam engenders are those of deep and permanent hostility to non-Muslims, and a belief that Islam itself must be defended at all costs, and that includes lying about the faith in order to protect it from criticism. Since Islam is a politics and a geopolitics, indeed was probably fashioned, beginning about 1400 years ago, out of stories and personages appropriated from both Christianity and Judaism, with an admixture of pre-Islamic pagan Arab lore, as a fighting faith a faith that could both justify, and promote, conquest by the Arabs, who already had over many years been filtering out of the Arabian Peninsula, and living, in their own colonies, among the much more advanced Christians and Jews of the Middle East. This was not a “new, and improved” faith, consisting of unfamiilar doctrines. It included comfortable hints of the faiths of those it conquered, and presented itself not as something new, but as the original faith, the one that those practicing Judaism and Christianity had fallen away from, had misunderstood, had received wrongly, had been too ungrateful – “kufr” meaning ingratitude – to receive as Muhammad had received the Message from God, and as Muslims had received, in turn, the Message brought by Muhammad, the Messenger of God.
In the texts of Islam – Qur’an, Hadith, Sira – aggression and violence and deceit are everywhere. Muhammd is not a gentle Jesus, meek and mild, He was a warrior. He took part in 78 battle campaigns, 77 of them offensive. He believed in, he urged his followers to participate in, slaying the Unbelievers, telling them only to do so during certain months and not during others. It is not possible to be raised in a world suffused with Islam and not be affected by these atmospherics of violence and aggression. And we have confirmation from many articulate apostates – Magdi Allam, Ibn Warraq, Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ali Sina, Nonie Darwish, and many others – that this is so.
The whole Iraq folly has been punctuated by solemn discussions about this or that strategy. In Baghdad, would “the surge" work? What were, according to the lawgivers of Fort Leavenworth, the Five Basic Facts to Lean about Every Insurgency? Were Ahmad Chalabi, Moqtada Al-Sadr, Ayatollah Al-Sistani potentially agents of influence for Iran, or were they Iraqi nationalists, or did they despise the Islamic Republic of Iran for other reasons? What would Talebani do to Barzani, or vice-versa, in Kurdistan? Would the Turks intervene on behalf of the Turcomans, or just to teach the Kurds a lesson? What would happen to the Christians in Basra? In Baghdad? In Mosul? Would the Sunnis participate in this election? Would the Shi’a? Which Shi’a were likely to come out on top? Would Al-Jaafari make a comeback? What about Al-Hakim? Could Moqtada Al-Sadr be a kingmaker? And why did anyone listen to Juan Cole, when real Iraqis knew how little he knew about Iraq. And who cared what Noah Feldman claimed he did in poractically writing the Iraqi Constitution? Hey, and whatever happened to that intelligent bastard, Adnan Pachachi, who five years ago was constantly being quoted as some kind of Grand Old Man of Iraqi politics, since no one else could play that role?
But never was the outcome in Iraq, and the way it would somehow make the whole hideous expense worth it, discussed. It was not discussed by those who opposed the Iraq venture, and regretted the American presence. Their opposition was that of appeasers, who thought we were “making ourselves hated around the world.” Nor was it discussed by those enthusiasts for the war who could only discuss this or that tactic –the American outreach to, and financing of, the Sons of Iraq and the Awakening, the surge that was said to have worked and put everything “back on track.”
All that is the fog of war, or rather the smog of war-commentary. The only things one need to keep firmly in mind are these: the Sunnis will never acquiesce in the loss of their power, and their wealth, and their status. The Shi’a will never give up the power, and wealth, and status, that the American invasion made inevitable. The Kurds will never give up, having tasted autonomy, their dream of an autonomous region amounting almost to, or possibly becoming, an independent Kurdistan. And the possibility of political compromise in Iraq, which to outside Infidels appears the sensible and obvious course, is small, because those who have been followers of Islam recognize a world of Victor and Vanquished, not a world where differences are split, and enemies make permanent peace, instead of making hudnas with those enemies so as to bide, and buy, one's time.
It is not necessary to know the name, or even the sect, or the ethnicity, of those who will in the next few months take control of Iraq. All one needs to know is that the Sunnis cannot ever regain their position, that the Shi'a and Kurds have control of all of the oil and do not need the Sunnis to remain in the same nation-state with them, and can do quite well without those oil-less Sunnis attempting again to arrogate power and wealth to themselves. And one knows that the co-religioinists of the Sunni Arabs in Iraq will view with dismay, and even horror, the rise and dominance of the Shi'a, and are unlikely to refrain from trying to undo all of the unforeseen consequences of the American invasion.
It is possible, now that American forces will be pulling out, that at long last other developments may yet allow a kind of victory in Iraq to be achieved, not through American actions but through American inaction, not through the American presence but through the American absence. Let the Muslims in Iraq behave as I am sure they will behave, and let Muslims in the immediate neighborhood behave as I am sure they will behave, and let the Shi'a and Sunnis outside of the immediate neighborhood also be affected, and that will help the Camp of Islam to divide and demoralize itself. And the expensive lesson -- a two-trillion dollar lesson - in the wisdom of Kutuzovshchina will, one hopes, be learned by those who have rushed about polypragmonically, when they might have done as well, or rather done far better, by leaving Iraq (if they had felt the need, based on incorrect information and inadequate analysis, to enter it at all)-as of February 2004, when everything that was to come was set inexorably in motion, by the killing or capture of Saddam Hussein, of his two sons, and of fifty or so (of the fifty-two sought) main figures in his regime.
The worst way to make sure that Egypt "keeps the peace" -- a peace its Muslim-Brotherhood ruler, Mohamed Morsi, clearly despises, and that most Egyptians think should be broken whenever the Arab side feels strong enough to go to war -- t he worst thing the American government can do is to continue to send advanced weaponry to Egypt. It should not have sent the F-16s. It should never have gotten itself into a situation of doing the bidding of Egypt's military, and sending, over the past few decades, more than $50 billion in military aid, and another ten or twenty billion in economic aid.
Had it not done so, the corrupt Egyptian military, and corrupt Mubarak, and his grasping courtiers, would not have had so much money, easily diverted, to be corrupt about, and that, in turn, would have led to a population less maddened by the visible signs of that corruption, and the general tone of the opposition, growing slowly, might have been less excitable, hysterical, and even, in one of its strands, given to seeking "Islam as the solution."
Egypt "kept the peace" because its militay rulers were keenly aware, despite the later mythologizing about a great Egyptian "victory" in 1973, that they had suffered a colossal defeat -- Bernard Lewis in his "Notes On A Century" points out that for months after the Yom Kippur War, the Egyptians made no secret of the scale of their defeat, and only later did they re-work the narrative to turn it into a face-saving "victory." And that defeat would have been even greater had Kissiner not threatened the Israeli government to hold back Ariel Sharon, whose forces had surrounded and could have destroyed the Egyptian Third Army, from acting. And many of those military officers also remembered what had happened to the Egyptian miiltary in June 1967, and some remembered what had happened in 1956. In other words, they were more inclined toward "peace" because they had themselves experienced the war, and even those who took part in dedications of such things as the "1973 War Victory Bridge" knew better. And some, of course, were more Egyptian nationalists, immunte to the siren-song of pan-Islamism, and disabused, by Nasser's collapse, of the siren-song of pan-Arabism (which is not hostile to, but merely a subset of, pan-Islamism).
If Egypt has no American F-16s and no American advanced weaponry, it will keep the peace -- that is, not go to war -- with Israel. And how. In other words, unable to make war, the Egyptians will adapt, and it might even be the case that the only possible ideology that can save overpopulated, permanently impoverished Egypt from complete disaster, Taha Hussain's Pharaonism (q. v.), will come into vogue at long last.
So How Did Hillary's Term As Secretary Of State Work Out?
[Re-posted from March 18, 2009]
Fitzgerald: Will Hillary Begin To Think Outside That Celebrated Box?
Hillary Clinton is apparently uninterested in finding out what it was that her husband did wrong in all his years of entertaining and cajoling Yasir Arafat, and spending or squandering so much time in attempting to "solve" the unsolvable but manageable Arab war on, or more accurately, the Arab and Muslim Jihad against, the Infidel nation-state of Israel. This is understandable. All over Washington there are those who have spent decades trying to find a “solution” for the “Arab-Israeli conflict.” (Latterly, for those intent on reifying “Palestine,” the tendentious new formulation “Israel-Palestine” is used.) These people cannot possibly admit that they have missed the most important thing in the Middle East, the thing that molds the minds of the Arab masses, and even, to a surprising degree, that of even outwardly Westernized and “modern” Arab liberals – and that something, that One Big Thing, is Islam.
If Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk and Aaron Miller and Richard Haas have been busy peace-processing for decades, and if the assorted State Department hacks, the djerijians and the pickerings, as well as all those more sinister fellows, the james-akinses who have been in the pocket of the Saudis whether out of venality or deep, altogether-too-explicable antipathy toward Israel, how can any of them even now, even in 2009, start to study Islam? How can they now start to grasp what it inculcates, and how it explains the behavior, and the attitudes, and the atmospherics, of Arab and Muslim societies? And how can they begin to grasp, they who keep thinking that there is this discrete problem with Israel, and another discrete problem in Iraq, and another in Darfur, and another in Afghanistan and another in Pakistan – how can they begin to see or even seek the Unified Field Theory that underlies all of these examples of political, economic, social disarray, intellectual paralysis, malevolence toward “the Other” -- that “Other” being all Infidels? It would imply that until now all of these people have disastrously missed the point.
Hillary Clinton appears, like her husband and those many "experts" -- indyks, rosses, millers, tutti quanti (with the odd djerijian or brzezinski pontificating from the determinedly anti-Israel sidelines) -- not to be able to begin to recognize the centrality of Islam, the ideology of Islam, and its observable effects on policies, on feigning friendships, and on the minds of men. And its effects can be seen not only on the primitive masses, but even on many of the so-called "liberals" whose "liberalism" is sharply curtailed by the residual effects of being reared within societies suffused with Islam, so that only those who jettison Islam altogether can start to see things steadily, sensibly, and whole. Hillary and the rest are unable to see that the Slow Jihadists of Fatah differ not in their ultimate goals, but only in the realism that tempers the means they choose, and they differ only in matters of timing and tactics from the Fast Jihadists of Hamas.
This is something that is impossible to see for so many whose entire professional lives have been spent on the assumption that "peace-processing" and not its alternative is of value. Its alternative is keeping the peace as it has always been kept, through a policy of determined deterrence by Israel, punctuated necessarily by small and rapid wars. Yet “peace-processing” is not of value. It always and everywhere has led to disastrous concessions on Israel’s part, concessions that have imperiled its security. This has held true ever since the Armistice Agreements of 1949 were violated by so many of the Arab signatories, and the Suez pullout of 1956, which Nasser violated in some cases within 24 hours of the Israeli pullout. It has held true through the various limited agreements with Syria and Egypt, and then the farcical Camp David Accords which Egypt, required only to refrain from hostile propaganda and to try to encourage a new spirit, violated in every significant element. It did so especially after Israel scrupulously fulfilled its side of the bargain, which involved the yielding up of tangible assets -- that is, the entire Sinai, together with its oilfields and three Israeli airbases and tens of billions of dollars -- in 2008 dollars -- in infrastructure put in by Israel.
It would take someone of high intelligence who would be willing to break with the complacencies of the past and to grasp the nature of Islam, and to understand the imperatives of Islam. It would take someone of high intelligence, finally, to grasp that any surrender, anywhere, to Muslim demands does not lead, as it might with other Westerners or even with non-Western non-Muslims, to a similar spirit of compromise and permanent coexistence, but rather to a deep, malevolent triumphalism, a feeling that the strategy of defeat of Israel by steady diplomatic degrees is indeed the way to go. Or as Mahmoud Abbas so sinisterly says, "we have chosen peace as a strategic option." Not real peace, not a permanent peace. Not at all. But "peace" as what he carefully calls a "strategic option."
Hillary Clinton must improve her understanding of Islam and get beyond her husband's misapprehension of the problem. She must begin to recognize the problem of Islam in Western Europe, where the chief weapons of the Jihad (which I have repeatedly and carefully defined here as the "struggle to remove all obstacles to the spread, and then the dominance, of Islam") are not terror, useful as that is, but rather the far more insidious weapons that include the Money Weapon (which pays for mosques, madrasas, propaganda, including subventions to academic "centers," and armies of Western hirelings), campaigns of Da'wa (also made partly possible by that Money Weapon supplied by the rich Arabs, especially in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf statelets), and the most worrisome of all, demographic conquest.
If Hillary Clinton would like to continue the failed and vain policies of the past, there's little to stop her. On the other hand, if she wants to show that she is capable of grasping what neither George Bush, nor her husband, nor the same dismal crew of "experts" did not grasp, and if she would like, furthermore, to help Obama get out of Iraq and Afghanistan -- both terrific economic and military drains -- then she can do so. She can do so in the only way that makes political and geopolitical sense, by beginning to understand that we should be identifying and ruthlessly exploiting the pre-existing fissures within the Camp of Islam, and not spending money trying to rescue Muslim countries from the political or economic or social failures that are a result of Islam itself.
"Democracy" in the Western sense can only appear and be nurtured once Islam has been systematically constrained, as Ataturk did in Turkey. Economic development that does not rely on the manna of oil, or the exploitation, through a hidden Jizyah, of a large non-Muslim population (as in Malaysia), will not come to Muslim countries. For the very nature of Islam, with its inshallah-fatalism, and long reliance on either that manna from Allah or the squeezing of money out of Infidels, militates against that economic development. Yet nowadays those Infidels seem all too willing to supply that Jizyah in the form of endless amounts of foreign aid, to Pakistan, to Egypt, to Jordan, to Iraq for its "reconstruction" and Afghanistan for its "construction" -- without anyone wondering why it is that the rich Arab states and statelets are not asked to support all of the poorer members of the Umma, instead of the Infidels continuing to do so -- thus putting Muslim solidarity, when it is no longer the solidarity based on a shared hostility to, or hatred of, non-Muslims, to the test.
Hillary Clinton can be a mediocre Secretary of State, or something much better. It will depend on whether or not she allows herself the leisure, the mental luxury (for that apparently is what it is, though in fact it should be regarded as not a luxury but a necessity), of taking the time to study, herself, the texts, the tenets, the attitudes, the atmospherics of Islam. She might well start with two or three books by Bat Ye'or, such as The Dhimmi and The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam. She could then proceed from there. And she might find out, along the way, from Majid Khadduri's War and Peace In the Law of Islam, how Muslims are taught to regard treaties, all treaties, made with Infidels.
Hillary Clinton is not dumb. She’s not at the level of Madeline Albright, for example. But she has simply been swimming within a world of hectic activity, where study becomes out-sourced, and so much is allowed not to be questioned, and assumptions made long ago still prevail. Yet those assumptions were made before it became apparent, or should have become apparent, that there is a worldwide problem. That problem can be contained and managed, but it cannot be ignored. It arises from the ideology of Islam itself, which is immutable because the texts -- Qur’an, Hadith, and Sira -- are immutable. It has become dangerous not because of a change in that ideology, but in the means now available to Muslims to act on that ideology in ways they could not have in 1950 or 1940 or 1900.
Hillary Clinton might try starting anew, trying to question the assumptions that are part of the air in so much of Official Washington. She could ask, for example, people on the European Desk at the State Department to make the matter of Islamization in Western Europe a priority, and to report to her more frequently and directly about the security implications -- and the civilizational implications -- of large numbers of Muslims being allowed to settle deep behind what they, those Muslims, are taught to regard as enemy lines, and where Islam itself inculcates permanent hostility to the legal and political institutions of Infidel nation-states.For in such states almost everything is offensive to Believing Muslims, whose Shari’a flatly contradicts the principles, the laws, the customs and manners, of Infidel societies. This is not something to be smilingly waved away, not something that should be ignored or pooh-poohed because of the charms, of all kinds, to be found in this or that quite unrepresentative, even if still defensive-about-Islam, Muslim. Whether that charmer is Huma Abedin, or some Pakistani colleague you have at work who seems so much warmer than your run-of-the-mill American colleagues, or that sweet Arab girl who roomed with a friend of your daughter’s at college, you’ve got to stay relentlessly focused on the ideology of Islam, and not on the personal allure of this or that unrepresentative, or possibly all-too-representative but insufficiently cross-questioned, individual.
All over policy-making Washington, the millers and the indyks and the djerijians like to repeat, as if to make sure that no one dares to question them or dares to suggest that they have overlooked the elephant in the room of Islam, that "everyone knows" what a "Middle East settlement will look like." "Everyone knows," do they? Do these "everyones" also know all about Islam, and what any "settlement" involving loss of Israel control over the "West Bank," its strategic depth, its control of invasion routes from the East, its aquifers, would mean to the attitude of Arabs and Muslims everywhere? Do they grasp the nature of Muslim triumphalism, and the persistence, the permanence, of Jihad?
Does Hillary Clinton herself recognize that this is it for Israel, that after 2000 years between the destruction of the Second Temple, and the resurrection of a Jewish commonwealth, under hellishly difficult conditions, there will be no second chance? Does she possess the historical sense of others -- of Jacques Ellul, or Indro Montanelli or Oriana Fallaci or Magdi Allam -- to grasp the significance of Israel, the poetry and the passion of it? Or is it, to her, merely a pesky little country about which she has to utter a few transparently undeeply-felt phrases of sympathy, in order to garner votes or campaign contributions? Is she capable of rising to this occasion, and to this danger? Is she capable of grasping what the existence of that country means? Is she -- and this just as important, and intimately related -- capable of grasping what the permanent threat of Islam means both for Israel's existence, and for the continued existence of what we think of as the West, through the threat of inexorable islamization in Western Europe?
Près de trois Français sur quatre estiment que l'islam n'est pas compatible avec les valeurs républicaines, selon un sondage Ipsos réalisé pour Le Monde. Un anthropologue décrypte ces chiffres.
Youssef Seddik est philosophe et anthropologue de l'islam. Il est l'auteur de Nous n'avons jamais lu le Coran, éditions de l'Aube (2006) et Le Grand Malentendu, le Coran face à l'Occident, éditions de l'Aube (2010).
LE FIGARO - Quelle réaction vous inspire ce nouveau sondage sur le rejet de l'islam par une majorité de Français?
Youssef SEDDIK - Je pense que les Français ont raison de penser cela. Comment pourrait-il en être autrement puisqu'ils sont travaillés au corps par des siècles de fantasmes, par des faussaires qui maintiennent cette tension depuis le Moyen Âge? L'islam fait peur, l'islam contient en lui un germe agressif, l'islam est intolérant, c'est un fonds de commerce que l'Histoire n'a jamais remis en cause parce qu'il est tout simplement plus commode de relever les trains qui ne sont pas à l'heure.[ah, yes, those crazy medieval fantasms
Le sondage met l'accent sur l'aspect intolérant de l'islam et son incompatibilité avec les valeurs de la société française…
C'est une perception parfaitement erronée. L'islam est un monothéisme comme un autre qui coexiste sans problème avec les autres. Je vis depuis trente ans en France où j'ai élevé quatre enfants qui sont pour l'un patron d'une grande banque, pour les autres en école de commerce et à Normale sup. Notre famille a toujours été extrêmement attachée à la tradition de l'islam sans afficher pour autant une essence islamique particulière. Nous avons traversé trente ans sans le moindre problème avec ça.
Qui sont les faussaires, responsables des clichés que vous dénoncez?
Il y a des recoupements très graves dans le traitement et l'analyse de l'actualité. On le voit bien avec le conflit israélo-palestinien. Depuis le 11 Septembre, le terrorisme est devenu une métonymie pour parler de l'islam. Les médias, la littérature, les intellectuels mais aussi les hommes politiques et les représentants religieux portent la responsabilité de cette cristallisation du rejet. Au lieu de faire la part des choses, ils continuent de commettre des amalgames et de s'inscrire dans des polémiques inutiles. Ils sont complices de l'éternisation de ces clichés.
Quels changements attendez-vous?
Il faut des gens de bonne volonté et de bonne foi. La société française a intérêt, avec 25 millions de musulmans sur le Vieux Continent, à pacifier les choses.[no, it's not up to the French society to make its peace with Islam, but Islam to modify its doctrrines, its inculcated hatred of non-Muslims, and its central duty of Jihad, best defined as "the struggle to ensure that Islam everywhere dominates, and Muslims ultimately rule, everywhere." And invokving "25 million Musliims in Europe" who despite their ideology that makes them immiscible, and a permanent danger, constitutes an ill-concealed threat] Les responsables politiques ne changent pas, alors que le Français moyen et ceux qui éduquent la société, comme les enseignants, tentent de faire la part des choses en différenciant l'appartenance à une religion, un culte, et les actes délictueux d'une minorité d'extrémistes qui sont du ressort de la justice. Tout criminel, musulman, juif ou catholique doit être regardé de manière pénale et non pour ses convictions. Pour moi, c'est le socle d'une pédagogie que les Européens doivent absolument mettre en place, pour la paix de leurs enfants.
Annals Of "My Boy's A Good Boy": Happy-Go-Lucky Nice-As-Can-Be Muslim Would-Be Terrorist
Oregon terror suspect was happy student, classmates say
Published January 25, 2013
PORTLAND, Ore. – College classmates say that an Oregon terrorism suspect was a happy-go-lucky college student who enjoyed drinking and football.
The image described by classmates Friday in the terrorism trial of Mohamed Mohamud is a strong contrast to the man depicted in previous testimony as a hardened, teenage jihadi intent on killing thousands. [idiotic]
Mohamud has been charged with attempting to detonate a bomb at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland in 2010. The bomb was a fake supplied by undercover FBI agents.
Elyssa Ridinger was a freshman in Mohamud's class at Oregon State University in 2009.
She testified that on the morning of the tree lighting, she, Mohamud and their friends went Black Friday shopping and that he was in good spirits.
She says he showed no signs of anti-Western sentiment.
Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad should be given anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to "level the playing field" in their war and ensure that "extremist" groups do not dominate the opposition, a senior member of the Saudi Arabian royal family ...
Many Egyptians Don't Care For American-Supported Morsi, So Is Obama Still On The Right Side Of History?
From the BBC:
Fatal clashes on Egypt uprising anniversary
Egyptian opposition supporters are protesting across the country on the second anniversary of the uprising that swept Hosni Mubarak from power, with five people killed in the city of Suez.
Police clashed with President Mohammed Morsi's opponents in Cairo outside his palace and near Tahrir Square.
Alexandria also saw clashes. In Ismailia, protesters set fire to the HQ of the Muslim Brotherhood's party.
Critics accuse Mr Morsi of betraying the revolution, which he denies.
The president has appealed for calm to end the clashes, in which more than 330 people have been injured nationwide.
On Friday, police fired tear gas to disperse protesters who had tried to cross barbed-wire barriers outside the presidential palace in Cairo, state TV reported. Protesters' tents were also dismantled.
Earlier, some protesters erected checkpoints at the entrances to Tahrir Square to verify the identities of people passing through. Others set up an exhibition of photographs of those killed at various protests over the past two years.
"Our revolution is continuing. We reject the domination of any party over this state. We say no to the Brotherhood state," leftist leader Hamdeen Sabahi told the Reuters news agency, referring to the Islamist movement to which Mr Morsi belongs.
A protester called Hany Ragy told the BBC: "I voted for Morsi because I did not want to see someone from the last regime in power again. But he has not fulfilled his promises. The economy has crumbled."
"I am here to put pressure on the government to enact proper reform."
The roads leading from Tahrir Square to several nearby government buildings and foreign embassies have been blocked by concrete walls since last November.
Demonstrators tried to dismantle one of them on Thursday night, but a new wall was built to block entry to the Cabinet headquarters.
The unrest continued overnight. On Friday, Nile TV reported worsening clashes outside the interior ministry.
The BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Tahrir Square says there are now large numbers of protesters there, but that the violence is restricted to a small corner of it, where teenagers are throwing stones at the parliament building.
People are now applying the same chants to Mr Morsi that they did two years ago for Mr Mubarak, our correspondent adds.
There are reports that opposition supporters have blocked railway lines leading both to the north and south out of Cairo.
Smaller rallies are taking place in other cities, including Alexandria, Ismailia, Suez and Port Said.
Medical sources said five people had been killed by gunfire in Suez.
It was not clear whether the dead were police or civilians.
Earlier state TV showed protesters in the city throwing stones at public buildings as motorcycles carried injured people away. Mena news agency said 12 police were injured in the city.
In Ismailia, witnesses said youths had broken into and ransacked the offices of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, before setting fire to it.
The city's governorate headquarters was later also stormed.
Clashes were reported in at least two locations in Alexandria, with police firing tear gas and protesters burning tyres. At least 10 people were reportedly injured.
"The smoke is black, there is a lot of gas. There are people on the ground because they can't breathe," one demonstrator told AFP.
The Muslim Brotherhood has not officially called for its own street rallies. It plans to mark the revolution by launching charitable and social initiatives.
One of the demonstrators at Tahrir Square, Hanna Abu el-Ghar, told the BBC: "We are protesting against the fact that after two years of the revolution, where we asked for bread, freedom and social justice, none of our dreams have come true."
The liberal opposition accuses Mr Morsi of being autocratic and driving through a new constitution that does not protect adequately freedom of expression or religion.
Ahead of Friday's rally Mohamed ElBaradei, a leading opposition figure, said is a statement: "I call on everyone to take part and go out to every place in Egypt to show that the revolution must be completed."
The government is also being blamed for a deepening economic crisis.
The president has dismissed the opposition's claims as unfair, instead calling for a national dialogue.
Former President Hosni Mubarak is currently in detention at a military hospital. An appeals court recently overturned the 84 year old's life sentence over the deaths of protesters and ordered a retrial.
A paedophile who met his victim on Facebook didn't know it was illegal to have sex with the 13-year-old girl because of his sheltered Muslim upbringing, a court heard. Adil Rashid admitted travelling to Nottingham in July last year and having sex with the teenager who can't be named for legal reasons.
Julia Smart, defending, had told an earlier hearing at Nottingham Crown Court that Rashid, 18, had been educated in a madrassa and had ‘little experience of women’.
The barrister said Rashid had told a psychologist after his arrest that he did not know having sex with a 13-year-old was against the law. In other interviews with psychologists Rashid claimed he had been taught by his madrassa that ‘women are no more worthy than a lollipop that has been dropped on the ground.’ That is the truly worrying bit.
The defendant admitted to police that he had travelled to Nottingham to have sex with the girl knowing she was 13. He also claimed to police that he was initially reluctant to have sex but had been ‘tempted by her’.
Judge Michael Stokes QC told prosecutor Mr Knowles: ‘He must have known it was illegal, unless he was going round with his eyes shut.’
Laban Leake, defending, said psychology and educational reports suggested Rashid had a ‘degree of sexual naivety.’ Mr Leake said: ‘The school he attended, and it is not going too far to say, can be described as a closed community, and on this occasion this was perpetuated by his home life.
The judge told Mr Leake: ‘He's had an unusual education, certainly in terms of the sexual education provided. Comparing women to lollipops is a very curious way of teaching young men about sex.’
The defendant, a student, was sentenced to nine months youth custody suspended for two years. The judge described Rashid as ‘passive and lacking assertiveness’ and sending him to jail might cause him ‘more damage than good’. The birch would do him good but he probably is ripe for prison da’wa. Deportation maybe?
The judge added that although Rashid might not have known having sex with an underage girl was illegal, he did know that such an act was wrong . . . it was made clear to you at the school you attended that having sexual relations with a woman before marriage was contrary to the precepts of Islam.’