Sunday, November 29, 2015

My Baby Shot Me Down!

Iran shoots at "Iraqi Sunnis" and "Syrian Sunnis" with U.S. sponsorship (Al-Watan, Saudi Arabia, March 18, 2015) So long as this impression, as erroneous at it is, lingers in the imagination of so many Sunnis worldwide, IS/Daesh cannot be defeated.

DDGD November 28, 2015

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Today’s Post is brought to you by…  The Mutual Outing Society: Transparency & Deniability. One way or another, our real motives will be exposed but without jeopardizing our ability to distance ourselves from them.

The Delirica  

Should members of the EU end up reviewing their open borders policy on account of the Paris Attacks, the terrorists win. But what kind of states would allow few dozen disgruntled kids to tear down the fabric of a continent? Organized crime have long benefitted from the open borders policy and it has had far more dangerous and deadly impact on the people than any amount of terrorist attacks, ever, and yet few calls have been made to close down borders for this reason. The sensationalist nature of terrorist acts should not distract from the fact of its far more limited impact on our lives when compared with that of “ordinary” crime. Greater cooperation between police forces across borders and boundaries, better information sharing between the various intelligence services and better integration and developments policies of migrants and their communities would go a long way in tackling the basic challenges involved than retrenchment beyond national borders.

Trying to reduce the GOP current malaise to the Trump Phenomenon is a form of denial. Resurgent xenophobia, populism, fearmongering, catering to prejudice, a rejection of science, continuous attempts at inserting faith into politics in a highly pluralistic country, and lack of concern for the weak and vulnerable classes... all these are problems that plague the Republican Party as a whole, and not just Mr. Trump. The GOP’s current identity crisis is an existential affair and cannot be addressed with a thorough review of its current principles. Only people willing to undertake such a task can emerge as legitimate and trustworthy leaders down the road. In the meantime, the Party will continue to be represented by this motley crew of clownish contenders.

Our real battle today is with different manifestations of fascism in Russia, in Iran, in Saudi Arabia, and states and societies far beyond. It’s with a return to a dangerous marriage between religion and politics, and the populist policies needed to make the marriage work; it’s with atavistic tendencies that keep reasserting themselves at every corner, and with autocratic rule by corrupt political and socioeconomic elites. And if in the background, different “consortiums” scattered around the world fought over resources, such as oil and natural gas, the fact of it does not make them the sole or primary movers and instigators of these trends. They simply do what comes naturally to them: take advantage of the opportunities made available to them. But yes, their intervention does complicate the struggle and impedes resolution.  

The Daily Delirynth
“So, do you have any recurrent dreams?” “I want to be Caliph instead of the Caliph.”
Purdogan: Turkey’s True Goals in Syria are Much More Than Just Oil and Money. Apparently “The true goal Ankara is pursuing in Syria is becoming a regional power and the country that rules the Sunni Muslim world.” So, it’s all about the pursuit of that imperial impulse embedded in the DNA of all states. Nothing’s surprising here really. After all, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, China, India, etc. etc. all have similar ambitions. With nuclear power being leveraged as part of this pursuit as well this makes for a very dangerous world. Ours is not a clash of civilization, but a series of interconnected interest-based conflicts pitting different power elites and their ambitions, both legitimate and illegitimate, against each other. Imperialism didn’t just go global, it has always been global. 

The twist involving Erdogan is that he seems to be dreaming of becoming, like the Franco-Belgian comic book character, Iznogoud, “Caliph instead of the Caliph,” and not just a Sultan. After all, Muslims can make do with having dozens of Sultans if need be, but there could only be one Caliph, and we already have a self-proclaimed one: IS/Daesh’s leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. So, it’s really a case of Caliph envy.

And Erdogan seems to have his acolytes, as a number of Chechen rebels declared last Thursday their willingness to act on his behalf should he, the leader of the Muslims, command them to do so.   

Meanwhile Putin still behaves like a scorned lover: Putin, citing national security, signs Turkey sanctions decree. “unspecified Turkish imports would be outlawed, and Turkish firms and nationals have their economic activities halted or curbed.”

"The circumstances are unprecedented. The gauntlet thrown down to Russia is unprecedented. So naturally the reaction is in line with this threat," Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, said hours before the decree was published… But aides to Putin say he is incandescent that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has yet to apologize for the Nov. 24 incident…

But Vladdie the Incandescent doesn’t seem to be interested in apologies as he signed the sanctions decree while Erdogan was busy offering what seemed like an apology:

"We are truly saddened by this incident," Erdogan said. "We wish it hadn't happened as such, but unfortunately such a thing has happened. I hope that something like this doesn't occur again."… But, "If we allow our sovereign rights to be violated . . . then the territory would no longer be our territory…”

In the meantime, and in response to the internally-led outing of its connection with IS/Daesh, 3 Turkish officials arrested over interception of Syria-bound arms, and Iran’s Press TV was all too happy to report it.

Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin / Source: Foreign Policy
The Kremlin’s Holy Warrior “The spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church has blessed Vladimir Putin’s Syrian intervention as a sacred crusade. Jihadis in Syria happen to agree.” Indeed they do. Yes, it’s the 21st Century, and we still insist on speaking in terms of “Holy Wars.”

Today, Chaplin is considered the unofficial leader of Russia’s increasingly visible and at times violent Orthodox Christian radical activists, who have attacked gay rights activists and vandalized “blasphemous” art exhibitions in Moscow. He has an apparently insatiable appetite for the spotlight and a knack for provocative rhetoric. In 2012, his willingness to speak to journalists made him the church’s de facto point man on the prosecution of the feminist punk rockers, Pussy Riot. In one interview, he alleged Pussy Riot’s infamous protest in Moscow’s largest cathedral was symbolic of the “satanic rage” that he said the country’s opposition forces had unleashed against the Orthodox Church. That same year, as the Kremlin geared up to introduce a law banning American families from adopting Russian children, Chaplin justified the law by saying children brought up in the United States would be unable to receive a “true Christian upbringing” and would be barred entry to “the Kingdom of God.”

Just like with all other Holy Warriors, no matter the specific faith, human rights are anathematic to him. This is fascism on the rise.   

UmReeka: GOP rhetoric on Muslims seen as having little cost. In electoral terms perhaps, but not in connection to its longer term impact on the domestic scene, nor in its geopolitical implications. Something is rotten in the state of GOP, and it stinks to high heaven.

Trump reframes claim that Muslims cheered 9/11. Reframed prejudice is still prejudice. Worse! Trump is now blaming Muslims all around the world. But the ugly reality about popular global reaction to 9/11 is that people around the world and from all different backgrounds cheered, including our good allies in Europe. Forget about official reactions and those made by the most respected intellectuals, because even in the most democratic of societies, these are rarely good measures for gauging popular sentiments. 

U.S. Urges Turkey to Seal Border “A bigger Turkish border deployment would close off key transit routes for ISIS fighters in Syria, U.S. officials say.” The U.S. can urge, but why should Turkey comply? An administration that is publicly committed to charting an exit from the region, and still found reluctant to consider this commitment for all the mayhem taking place is not in a position to ensure compliance.

After resigning Pentagon post, former official talks Syria, and says she has no ideas why a No-Fly Zone was not created.

Source: imgfave.
The Pumaga: Is Syria the beginning of the end of Putinism? “Granted, Putin’s capacity to trouble the waters is huge. But Russia’s ability to rival the United States as a world power and dominate events in the Middle East is not.” What people like Colbert King, the author of this article, miss is the costs involved in letting someone like Putin trouble the waters unchallenged. Because the costs will not be borne out by Putin and the Russians alone. The United States, EU and their allies all over the world will not be spared the consequences. Moreover, Putin is not the only player on the scene interested in troubling waters, and his ability to get away with so much for so many years, or to give that impression, will encourage others to do the same.  

The Faqihnameh: Head of the Strategic Research Center at the Expediency Council Ali Akbar Velayati said on Thursday that the Islamic Republic of Iran is to continue support to Syrian government and nation till their final victory. Ah, the endless pursuit of final victories that bequeaths nothing but cemeteries and more reasons to hate. Way to go Akbar, you and colleagues are on the right track to enter history from the anus, and dies somewhere in the lower intestines.

Iran’s Army Commander Major General Ataollah Salehi cautioned foreign forces that any inappropriate action in the Persian Gulf will draw a forceful reaction. We protect our turf, we expand our turf, if we can do it and get away with it, it must be legitimate. It’s not imperialism when we do it, it’s imperialism only when it’s done to us.

The rumored loss of General Qassem Soleimani to severe injuries might give the Black-Turbaned Mullahs an equally black-eye, but it won’t alter their strategy.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Says U.S. Using Money and Sex to Infiltrate Iran. “The enemy sets up a network within a nation and inside a country mainly through the two means of money and sexual attractions to change ideals, beliefs and consequently the lifestyle,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in comments posted on his website and broadcast on state television. Now that’s a very un-Wahhabi sentiment! When will be people realize that we are dealing with two faces of the same coin here: that Velayet-e-Faqihism and Wahhabism are not that different? That they both inspire their own brands of Jihadists and terrorists? Why the single-minded focus on one side of the equation? Why agenda does it serve? What ideology?

Iran to Run Tests to Uncover Cause of Abadi's Death in Saudi. Was the pilgrims’ stampede used to cover an assassination? John le Carré would be thrilled.

Cutting ties with Saudi Arabia won't eliminate Isis. Especially after reaching an unenforceable deal with its chief regional rival, Iran, that is no less guilty of committing systematic human rights violations against its own people, including mass executions and arbitrary arrests and that is lending massive support to the greatest terrorist and war criminal of all in Syria: Assad. Long ago, when U.S.-Saudi relations were better, the U.S. had enough leverage to intervene in cases such as Raif’s and the others and secure pardons in a timely manner.

A history of Wahhabism and the hijacking of the Muslim faith. No, neither Wahhabism nor Velayet-e-faqihism represents a hijacking of the Muslim faith. Those who make such arguments are, in effect, adopting a similar ethos. What these movements represent is an atavistic interpretation of Islam that needs to be refuted and rejected by modernizers. Avoiding the pitfall of accusing anyone of hijacking the faith or of heresy and all these dangerous notions that run contrary to freedom of religion is an integral part of the process. Refutation, rejection and modernization work differently as they seek to gradually build a social and legal consensus on the need to redefine certain aspects of the faith pertaining to women’s rights, rights of heresy, academic freedom, among other basic human rights. This does challenge the basic doctrines involved in the two atavistic movements, but it does not deny the basic rights of their followers. It’s their desire and ability to impose their views on others that needs to be challenged and limited.  

What does it all mean? Israel’s Defense Minster seems to have the answer: “Syria is dead, Israel must prepare.” Indeed, “Amos Gilad says Bashar Assad’s grip on his country is failing and it has become ‘a land without rule.’”

And to Israel, preparations mean continuing to hit targets in Syria which serve “as a major transit point for Hezbollah fighters, equipment.” Meanwhile, the Israeli-Russian understanding on managing their areal traffic seems to be holding: Russia plane entered Israel control zone from Syria: minister.  

Elsewhere in Syria, however, Russia seems to have succeeded in closing Syrian airspace to American jets by deploying the S-400 systems. Moreover,

Russian Lieutenant-General Evgeny Buzhinsky, in responding to the incident, revealed that Russia will begin using electronic jamming systems that are based both on the ground and installed on special aircraft. The defensive weapons are aimed at stopping a similar attack in the future.

For its part, UK is forging ahead with plans to get into the booming airstrikes business in Syria: David Cameron to risk Commons vote over Syria airstrikes.

Meanwhile, Syrians keep annoying Russian pilots by being at the right place at the right time and getting killed for it: Russian air strikes kill at least 18 in northwest: Syria monitor.  

Gendrification: Wartime Entrepreneurs: 50 Syrian Women Find A Way To Export Aleppo's Famous Soap To The U.S. And this is one of the best soaps in the world. Syria’s women are behind most enterprises launched by refugees in most neighboring countries.  

Quote of the Day

"I did not detect any great desire for them to come to the United States…You've got these refugee camps that aren't completely full. And all you need is the resources to be able to run them. Why do you need to create something else?" Ben Carson speaking about Syrian Refugees in Jordan

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