ThereAreNoSunglasses

American Resistance To Empire

Roger Waters to Dionne Warwick–“Israeli…society lacks basic belief in equal human value”

Roger Waters to Dionne Warwick:

“You Are Showing Yourself to be Profoundly Ignorant of What Has Happened in Palestine Since 1947″
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Roger Waters, what a stand up guy! Or really I should say this is a good man!

Dionne Warwick called me out by name in asserting she’d play Tel Aviv. Here’s what she misunderstands

inger and U.N. global ambassador Dionne Warwick recently released an interesting if puzzling statement asserting that she would, and I quote, “never fall victim to the hard pressures of Roger Waters, from Pink Floyd, or other political people who have their views on politics in Israel.”

“Waters’ political views are of no concern,” I assume she means to her, the statement read. “Art,” she added, “has no boundaries.”
Until today, I have not publicly commented on Ms. Warwick’s Tel Aviv concert or reached out to her privately. But given her implicit invitation, I will comment now.
First, in my view, Dionne Warwick is a truly great singer. Secondly, I doubt not that she is deeply committed to her family and her fans.
But, ultimately, this whole conversation is not about her, her gig in Tel Aviv, or even her conception of boundaries and art, though I will touch on that conception later. This is about human rights and, more specifically, this is about the dystopia that can develop, as it has in Israel, when society lacks basic belief in equal human value, when it strays from the ability to feel empathy for our brothers and sisters of different faiths, nationalities, creeds or colors.
It strikes me as deeply disingenuous of Ms. Warwick to try to cast herself as a potential victim here. The victims are the occupied people of Palestine with no right to vote and the unequal Palestinian citizens of Israel, including Bedouin Israeli citizens of the village of al-Araqib, which has now been bulldozed 83 times by order of the Israeli government.
I believe you mean well, Ms. Warwick, but you are showing yourself to be profoundly ignorant of what has happened in Palestine since 1947, and I am sorry but you are wrong, art does know boundaries. In fact, it is an absolute responsibility of artists to stand up for human rights – social, political and religious – on behalf of all our brothers and sisters who are being oppressed, whoever and wherever they may be on the surface of this small planet.
Forgive me, Ms. Warwick, but I have done a little research, and know that you crossed the picket line to play Sun City at the height of the anti-apartheid movement. In those days, Little Steven, Bruce Springsteen and 50 or so other musicians protested against the vicious, racist oppression of the indigenous peoples of South Africa. Those artists allowed their art to cross boundaries, but for the purpose of political action. They released a record that struck a chord across the world. That record, “I Ain’t Gonna play Sun City,” showed the tremendous support of musicians all over the world for the anti-apartheid effort.
Those artists helped win that battle, and we, in the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, will win this one against the similarly racist and colonialist policies of the Israeli government of occupation. We will continue to press forward in favor of equal rights for all the peoples of the Holy Land. Just as musicians weren’t going to play Sun City, increasingly we’re not going to play Tel Aviv. There is no place today in this world for another racist, apartheid regime.
As I’m sure you know, Lauryn Hill canceled her gig in Tel Aviv last week. She did not explicitly cite Israeli oppression of Palestinians as her reason for canceling, but the subtext of her actions is clear and we thank her for her principled stand.
Dionne, I am of your generation. I remember the road to Montgomery, I remember Selma, I remember the struggles against the Jim Crow laws here. Sadly, we are still fighting those battles, whether here in the USA in Ferguson or Baltimore, or in Gaza or the Negev, wherever the oppressed need us to raise our voices unafraid. We need to stand shoulder to shoulder with them, our brothers and sisters, until true equality and justice are won.
Remember, “Operation Protective Edge,” the Israeli bombing of Gaza last summer, resulted in the deaths of over 2,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians, including more than 500 Palestinian children. It is hard for us over here to imagine what it is like to be exiled, disenfranchised, imprisoned, rendered homeless and then slaughtered, with no place to flee. Hopefully, in the end, love will triumph. But love will not triumph unless we stand up to such injustice and fight it tooth and nail, together.
Dionne, your words indicate that part of you is set on going through with your concert. I am appealing to another part of you, to implore that other part to join us. We will welcome you. It is more than likely that you harbor reservations in your heart about what Israel is doing to the Palestinians, that when you see a mother’s child in ruins you wonder what if that child were mine? It is not too late to hear those reservations, to listen to that other voice, to value freedom and equality for all over the value you place on your concert in Tel Aviv.
When global pressure finally forces Israel to end its occupation, when the apartheid wall comes down, when justice is served to Palestinian refugees and all people there are free and equal, I will gladly join you in concert in the Holy Land, cross all the boundaries and share our music with all the people.

“Pushing Back” the Boat People In Asia and In Europe, Symptom of Universal Insanity

By Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Fransiska Nangoy

BANGKOK/JAKARTA (Reuters) – Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia gave no response on Wednesday to a United Nations appeal for them to rescue thousands of migrants, many of them hungry and sick, adrift in boats in Southeast Asian seas.

There were conflicting statements on whether regional governments would continue to push back migrant boats in the face of the UN warning that they risked a “massive humanitarian crisis”.

“Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand have decided not to receive boat people, as far as I am aware,” Major General Werachon Sukhondhapatipak, spokesman for Thailand’s ruling junta, told Reuters.

He declined to comment on the UN refugee agency UNHCR’s appeal on Tuesday for an international search and rescue operation for the many stranded on the seas between Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The UN has said several thousand migrants were abandoned at sea by smugglers following a Thai government crackdown on human trafficking.

Malaysia’s Home Ministry also declined to comment on the U.N. rescue appeal.

The issue would be discussed at a meeting of 15 countries, to be held in Bangkok on May 29, Thai junta spokesman Werachon said.

But the Royal Thai Navy said on Wednesday that its policy was not to send the boats back to sea.

“If they come to Thai waters we must help them and provide food and water,” Rear Admiral Kan Deeubol told Reuters. “For human rights reasons, we will not send them back to sea.”

Earlier this week, a junta spokesman said that a surge in migrants to Indonesia and Malaysia from Bangladesh and Myanmar had been caused by the crackdown and by Thai authorities blocking boats from landing.

Thailand ordered a clean-up of suspected traffickers’ camps last week after 33 bodies, believed to be of migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh, were found in shallow graves near the Malaysian border.

That has made traffickers wary of landing in Thailand, the preferred destination for the region’s people smuggling networks, leading to many migrants being left out at sea.

‘IT’S A POLICY MATTER’

A senior Malaysian maritime official said on Tuesday, after more than 1,000 people arrived on the Malaysian island of Langkawi at the weekend, that any more boats trying to land would be turned back

“We don’t allow them in,” said First Admiral Tan Kok Kwee, northern region head of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency. “It’s a policy matter.”

Indonesia provided food, water and medical supplies to around 500 passengers on a boat off the coast of the northwestern province of Aceh on Monday, before sending the vessel towards Malaysia.

The Indonesian Navy said the passengers of the boat they sent onwards wanted to go to Malaysia, not Indonesia.

A day earlier and also in Aceh, Indonesia rescued nearly 600 migrants from overcrowded wooden boats. Those migrants were brought ashore and remain on Aceh.

The Indonesian policy was to offer food and shelter to refugees and coordinate with international migrant and refugee bodies, Foreign Ministry spokesman Armanatha Nasir told reporters on Wednesday. This it had done with the nearly 600 migrants it rescued on Sunday, he added.

“What we do not do is load them on to the ship and push it to the ocean,” he said.

But advocacy group ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights criticised the Indonesian government for sending the boat back to sea on Monday.

“Towing migrants out to sea and declaring that they aren’t your problem any more is not a solution to the wider regional crisis,” ABHR Chairperson and Malaysian lawmaker Charles Santiago said in a statement.

Many of the arrivals are Rohingya, a stateless Muslim minority from Myanmar described by the United Nations as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.

‘BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS’

An estimated 25,000 Bangladeshis and Rohingya boarded rickety smugglers’ boats in the first three months of this year, twice as many in the same period of 2014, the UNHCR has said.

“When countries such as Thailand implement a push back policy, we find Rohingya bodies washing ashore,” said Sunai Phasuk at Human Rights Watch in Thailand.

“If these three countries move forward with push backs, blood will be on their hands.”

Malaysia’s police chief said that joint work with the Thai police force had helped Malaysian police smash seven syndicates involved in smuggling and trafficking in March and April.

The syndicates operated in northern Malaysia and southern Thailand, Khalid Abu Bakar told reporters on the Thai island of Phuket, where members of the two police forces met this week for annual talks on international crime.

Among 38 people arrested were two Malaysian policemen, he said.

As well as trafficking, Malaysian police believe the syndicates were involved in forging UNHCR documents, he said.

(Additional reporting by Fransiska Nangoy in JAKARTA and Apichai Thornoi in PHUKET, Thailand; Writing by Simon Webb; Editing by Nick Macfie and Alex Richardson)

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Milliband’s “Truth-Bomb”

[SEE: Latest Med “Boat People” Tragedy Resulting From Anti-Libyan U.N. Sec. Council Res. 1973 ; The Obscenity of Humanitarian Warfare]

Nigel Farage: David Cameron ‘directly caused’ Libyan migrant crisis

“Ukip leader says Britain should offer refuge to Christians from Libya, as up to 700 die in latest disaster at sea.”

Cameron hits back after Labour suggests he is responsible for migrant deaths

“Prime minister says Miliband’s comments about failures of post-conflict plans in Libya are ill-judged, as Labour says Tories have manufactured the row.”

branded“shameful and absolutely unacceptable” by Number 10.

Miliband riles Tories with ‘bombing Libya led to migrant crisis’ claim

Russia-Today


Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband arrives at a campaign event in Ipswich, eastern England April 22, 2015 (Reuters / Darren Staples)

Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband arrives at a campaign event in Ipswich, eastern England April 22, 2015 (Reuters / Darren Staples)

Ed Miliband’s claims that David Cameron and other European leaders failed Libya and in part contributed to the migrant boat catastrophe in which 800 people drowned were branded “shameful and absolutely unacceptable” by Number 10.

The Labour leader, who has not yet given the speech, plans to say world leaders have not supported Libya in the wake of coalition airstrikes, which contributed to the downfall of Colonel Gaddafi, leading to growing numbers of migrants dying in the Mediterranean.

Despite having voted in favor of military action against Libya, Miliband will say there were “failures in post-conflict planning.” He will say the refugee situation could have been anticipated.

“In Libya, Labour supported military action to avoid the slaughter Gaddafi threatened in Benghazi,” Miliband will say.

“But since the action, the failure of post-conflict planning has become obvious. David Cameron was wrong to assume that Libya’s political culture and institutions could be left to evolve and transform on their own.”

“The tragedy is that this could have been anticipated. It should have been avoided. And Britain could have played its part in ensuring the international community stood by the people of Libya in practice rather than standing behind the unfounded hopes of potential progress only in principle.”

His comments echo those of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who said on Monday that EU leaders were responsible for the deaths of the migrants, suggesting airstrikes had de-stabilized the country and forced more migrants to flee.

The airstrikes carried out in 2011 by a UN-authorized coalition of France, the UK and the US saw Colonel Gaddafi’s regime collapse. The country has since been plagued by political insecurity, with no single functioning government.

Since the toppling of Gaddafi, a civil war between tribal militias throughout the country has ensued.

The Conservatives responded with anger, with Environment Secretary Liz Truss saying the remarks should be withdrawn. She said Miliband’s comments were not the way current affairs should be discussed.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander, however, said the speech was not intended to create public argument, blaming Number 10 for fabricating the row.

Alexander insisted “the state of Libya is a failure for postwar conflict-planning for which the international community faces responsibility.

“I don’t think anyone disputes that we are witnessing a situation where Libya is perilously close to becoming a completely failed state on the southern shores of the Mediterranean. That is not a matter of dispute; that is simply a matter of fact,” he said.

Miliband will make a rare foray into foreign affairs in a speech at Chatham House on Friday, which is unusual for any politician during election campaign season.

He is expected to say that Cameron’s discourse on an EU referendum has given the world the impression the UK is slowly isolating itself from international affairs.

Using Yemeni Battle Ground To Settle “Schism” Within Islam

[Saudi “Decisive Storm” is a religious “ethnic cleansing” operation, meant to either eliminate the troublesome Shia minority on the Arabian Peninsula, or to excommunicate all Shiites from the House of Islam.  There is extreme danger that the Saudi coalition has bigger plans than just housecleaning in Yemen, going way beyond the political contest with Iran. ultimately mutating into a Wahhabi holy war to eliminate the “schism” within Islam (by slaughtering all of the “kfirs/disbelievers”).  

A religious slaughter of this magnitude will automatically trigger the retaliatory the wrath of the “civilized world” (despite US efforts to profit from this jihad), in order to eliminate the danger to the oil fields of the Middle East, even though it will be called a “humanitarian effort.”  As the world becomes aware of the bloody truth about this Saudi power grab, the diplomatic pressure will build, forcing an end to this lunacy, or at least a pause in the bombing for the evacuation of trapped civilian populations and humanitarian relief to take place (SEE: Groups call for ‘pause’ in Yemen ; Iraqi leader decries Saudis on Yemen role).]

UN slams Saudi airstrikes’ violence on Yemeni civilians

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SANAA

The United Nations’ expert on internally displaced people accused Saudi Arabia on Wednesday of intentionally bombing a camp for people who’d fled Yemen’s violence last week and said airstrikes also had hit hospitals, schools and “other civilian buildings.”

Chaloka Beyani, the U.N.’s rapporteur for internally displaced persons, said at least 25 people had been killed when Saudi aircraft bombed the al Mazraq camp in northern Yemen on March 30, and that another 37, including 12 children, had been injured. He called the attack “a grave violation against some of the most vulnerable of the vulnerable civilians.”

Beyani’s denunciation of the Saudi air campaign, which began March 26, came on the same day that global humanitarian agencies, including the World Health Organization and the International Committee of the Red Cross, said they were preparing for a massive humanitarian crisis in Yemen. In Washington, a coalition of Arab-American groups said they would sue the Obama administration to force it to evacuate Americans trapped in Yemen.

A State Department official said the U.S. government, which is providing logistical support for the Saudi campaign, believes it is too dangerous to risk a military operation to rescue Americans. “There are no current U.S. government-sponsored plans to evacuate private U.S. citizens from Yemen,” the official said. “We encourage all U.S. citizens to shelter in a secure location until they are able to depart safely.”

The World Health Organization said Wednesday that between March 19 and Monday, 643 people had been killed in Yemen’s violence, including 74 children. WHO said another 2,226 people had been injured. Separately, Beyani said at least 311 civilians had been killed.

According to estimates from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the capital, Sanaa, had the highest death toll, with 88 civilians killed. Eighty-five civilians died in Aden and 43 have been killed in al Dhale. The U.N. office estimated that of 37 public buildings bombed around the country, five were hospitals.

Beyani warned that “the picture on the ground is extremely bleak” as fighting intensifies between Houthi rebels and the government, whose president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, fled to Saudi Arabia two weeks ago.

“Humanitarian responses must be stepped up as a matter of urgency,” Beyani said, predicting that thousands more people are likely to flee their homes as the fighting worsens. Already, the U.N. estimates, 100,000 people have been displaced and 14 of Yemen’s 22 provinces have seen fighting or bombing raids.

Fighting is most intense in Aden, Sanaa, Sadah and Dhale, the U.N. said.

Sitara Jabeen, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, told McClatchy that the agency has secured clearance from the Saudi-led coalition to fly in humanitarian supplies. Jabeen said that two flights, one carrying 16 tons of medical supplies from Amman, Jordan, and the other carrying 32 tons of water and sanitation and medical supplies from Liege, Belgium, had been cleared to arrive at Sanaa’s airport.

Separately, Jabeen said a Red Cross medical team of five arrived in Aden late Wednesday after a 12-hour journey by sea from Djibouti. She said the ICRC now has more than 250 national and international staff working in Yemen, she said.

Paul Garwood, a WHO spokesman, told McClatchy that the agency was providing health kits for 240,000 people throughout the country and enough trauma supplies for 400 operations at 18 hospitals throughout the country. The supplies included 11,000 bags of blood and intravenous fluids.

While the United States did not launch an evacuation of its citizens, other countries did, among them India, which rescued 232 people from 26 countries, including an unspecified number of Americans.

Hannah Allam in Washington contributed to this report.

Zarocostas is a McClatchy special correspondent.

What Was The True Mission In Iraq, To Create Chaos Or To Contain It?

Accusations Emerge That the U.S. Is Aiding ISIS – The Latest “Conspiracy Theory” Circulating in Iraq

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My belief is, we will, in fact be greeted as liberators.

– Dick Cheney on NBC’s Meet the Press, March 16, 2003

But that enmity for the United States circulates beyond the militias that once fought U.S. soldiers, surfacing also in parliamentary debates and Iraqi media reports and even at the highest ranks of the national armed forces that the United States is aiding.

“Everybody knows that the Americans are dropping supplies to Daesh,” said Brig. Gen. Abed al-Maliki, a senior Iraqi army commander based in the city of Samarra, about 80 miles north of Baghdad, using another term for the Islamic State.

What’s more, he said, during some of the fiercest fighting around Samarra last year, U.S. Special Operations forces dropped behind enemy lines to assist Islamic State militants.

“They came in with parachutes, and they were helping to bomb the city,” he said.

U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State, he contended, are probably just a cover for efforts to support the group.

“It’s just a show,” he said, sitting in the city’s army command headquarters. “If the Americans want to finish something, they will finish it. If they wanted to liberate Iraq, they could.”

– From the Washington Post article, In Fight for Tikrit, U.S. Finds Enemies on Both Sides of the Battle Lines, March 27, 2015

How do you know your foreign policy is a complete and total destructive nightmare? When the country you supposedly “liberated” not only turns into a horrific war zone, but all sides fighting accuse you of helping the enemy. This seems to be precisely what is happening in Iraq at the moment.

Just last week, I was shocked to read in the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. military was preparing to coordinate action against ISIS in Tikrit, alongside Iranian backed militias. I highlighted this in the post, Can’t Make This Up – U.S. Providing Aid in Fight Against ISIS in Iraq Alongside Iranian Troops. Here’s the key excerpt:

The U.S. has started providing Iraq with aerial intelligence in the stalled battle to oust Islamic State from Tikrit, drawing the American military into closer coordination with Iranian-backed militias spearheading the offensive. 

Military officials said they aren’t working directly with Iran. But the intelligence will be used to help some 20,000 Iranian-backed Shiite militia fighters who make up the bulk of the force that has been struggling for weeks to retake the strategic city.

Incredibly, only a few days later, we learn from the Washington Post that one of the most popular “conspiracy theories” circulating in Iraq at the moment is that the U.S. is directly supplying and aiding ISIS in Iraq. Significantly, these accusations aren’t just emerging from random corners of the internet, but from senior military figures within the Iraqi army. Can’t make this up indeed.

From the Washington Post:

 As American forces open another front of battle in Iraq, they find themselves on the same side as an array of armed groups that not only consider the United States an enemy but also accuse it of actively supporting Islamic State militants.

Since the U.S.-led coalition planes launched their first airstrikes in the Islamic State-held city of Tikrit on Wednesday night, threats and accusations from ­Shiite militias who were leading the battle there have grown. Several of the Iranian-backed groups accused coalition aircraft of bombing a headquarters for pro-government fighters in the city on Friday, promising retribution.

The claim was the latest in a long string of accusations leveled at the United States since its first airstrikes against the Islamic State in August. Rumors of coalition planes dropping weapons supplies to Islamic State militants and attacking pro-government fighters are now widely held beliefs in a country where conspiracy theories are rife.

But that enmity for the United States circulates beyond the militias that once fought U.S. soldiers, surfacing also in parliamentary debates and Iraqi media reports and even at the highest ranks of the national armed forces that the United States is aiding.

“Everybody knows that the Americans are dropping supplies to Daesh,” said Brig. Gen. Abed al-Maliki, a senior Iraqi army commander based in the city of Samarra, about 80 miles north of Baghdad, using another term for the Islamic State. 

What’s more, he said, during some of the fiercest fighting around Samarra last year, U.S. Special Operations forces dropped behind enemy lines to assist Islamic State militants.

“They came in with parachutes, and they were helping to bomb the city,” he said.

U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State, he contended, are probably just a cover for efforts to support the group.

“It’s just a show,” he said, sitting in the city’s army command headquarters. “If the Americans want to finish something, they will finish it. If they wanted to liberate Iraq, they could.”

When such accusations appear in the Iraqi media, they are normally accompanied by an image from an Islamic State video from Kobane in Syria last year, showing the militants displaying a load of weapons accidently dropped from a U.S. plane — an incident the United States acknowledged.

Whoops, sorry, our mistake! At this point, who doesn’t have access to hundreds of millions of U.S. weaponry?

Visiting U.S. officials are left to fend off questions about whether they support the group. The topic was the first to be broached in questions when Gen. John Allen, special envoy for the coalition to counter the Islamic State, met with Iraqi journalists in January.

The theories are stoked by U.S. involvement in the wider region, where Sunni states such as Saudi Arabia are battling for influence against Shiite Iran. While the United States has backed the same side as Saudi Arabia in conflicts in Syria and Yemen, in Iraq it finds itself on the other side of the battle.

A wildly popular trailer for an Iraqi TV program launched last year that mocked the Islamic State played off that speculation. It showed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi hatching out of an egg after a marriage between characters representing Israel and America.

If this is how Iraqis greet their liberators, I don’t want to be invited to the party they throw for enemies.

Seriously though, it doesn’t even matter if these accusations are true or not. What matter is that Iraq is a total disaster zone, and everyone suffering from the chaos knows full well the U.S. government is responsible. Over the past decade, the clowns running American foreign policy have gone from promising the world that the Iraqis would greet U.S. soldiers as liberators, to all sides accusing the USA of aiding the enemy; whether that enemy be the Iraqi army, Iranian backed militias, or ISIS.

This is not a recipe for success. Unless of course, success is determined by the ability to create as much chaos and death overseas as possible via a divide and conquer strategy in which all combatants attempt to slay each other using weapons purchased from American defense companies. In that case, the Iraq war can be defined as a resounding success.

US Policy Is Driving Force Behind the Call To Jihad

[A very strong case is made that it is US foreign policy which fuels Islamist anger and drives the call to “jihad.”  American policy has been humiliating to every Muslim since 2001, in particular, the policies of torture, secret renditions and drone assassinations, all of which have been designed to destroy the collective psyche of all Muslim males.  

Murder by drone and rendition have demonstrated to every Muslim family that none of them are safe in their beds, or in their homes anymore.  What more reason would a sensible young man need than this, to drive him to take-up arms against the American aggressors?   Yemen hosted a US drone/counter-insurgency base, allegedly used to “hunt al-Qaeda,” which was probably the driving force in Yemen’s destabilization.  The more the US and the Saudis bombed Yemen, the greater grew the unrest of all sectarian derivations. 

The ease of recruitment for ISIS (and the Middle Eastern radicals in general) is a pretty direct measure of the effectiveness of US psychological warfare.  The more we humiliate Muslims, the more jihadis answer the call to battle. 

But, I would argue that that has been the objective of the entire war on terror since its inception…find those who would be jihadis and kill them all.  It doesn’t matter to the Pentagon/CIA that they are feeding the cycle that they have been fighting to stop?  Instead of trying to kill the Muslim world to get all the survivors to “LIKE” us, we should try to disengage long enough for the Arabs to fight among themselves and settle their tribal/religious feuds which we had no right to interfere with, at all.]

Smith College religion professor, historian says US should stay out of Middle East battles

MASS live

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By Diane Lederman | dlederman@repub.com

 

Smith College religion professor Suleiman A. Mourad believes the United States should not be involved in the Middle East. (Diane Lederman/The Republican)

 

NORTHAMPTON – This week, Saudi Arabia took on rebels in Yemen, the latest action in the escalating conflict in the Middle East. It’s a confusing muddle of alliances.

As the New York Times reports the United States is supporting the Saudi campaign to dislodge Iranian-backed Houthi rebels but in Iraq and Syria, the United States is on the same side as Iran in the fight against the Islamic State.

And while some Congress debate whether to send in ground troops, Smith College religion professor Suleiman A. Mourad believes the United States should not be involved.

In fact anger against the United States is fueling the antagonism and serves as a recruiting tool for Isis and other extremists.

Mourad, who also studies jihad, explained some of the roots of the conflict and the reasons he believes that it needs to play out there without United States intervention.

He doesn’t think the warring parties are ready or able to talk to each other nor does he see any diplomat in the United States able to bring the parties to the table.

In fact, he said the United States is hated abroad. A native of Lebanon he returned recently and said the level of animosity between Sunnis and Shia towards the United States was extreme.

Middle Eastern leaders don’t trust or respect the United States.

The wars between Sunnis and the Shia – different sects within the Muslim community with different customs – have both modern and historical roots.
According to the BBC, most of the Muslims are Sunnis – estimates suggest the figure is somewhere between 85 to 90 percent.

Historically, Sunnis consider themselves as the orthodox or traditional form of Islam where the Shia the political faction, according to the BBC.

“There are historical grievances historical reasons that speak to the current grievances,” Mourad said, much in the way slavery here is linked to issue of race in America.

He said at the same time, some Shia are aligned with some Sunnis and vice versa. Also he said Shias in Yemen are different than the Shias of Iran. “They don’t have a common history. There’s much animosity.”

Each political leader has his own agenda and uses the rebel groups to support that just as long they don’t topple their own regime. “Every dictator has interests.”

While the Middle East was under the control of such leaders as Saddam Hussein, the militant factions were squelched but as those leaders were toppled the militant groups were able to emerge.
And what makes the modern conflict unprecedented is how widespread the uprisings are. The battle “across the Muslim world is unprecedented.”

He said the modern day Sunni militant movements began in the 1960s-1970s with the ideas of Sayyid Qutb of Egypt and Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi of Pakistan being put into practice.

They believed that Muslims rulers “were in the pockets of the West.:” And he said those militant ideologues were in “pursuit of a great Islam” and urged Muslims to jihad and unity.

Later there was a split where one group wanted a less militant approach and instead advocated for activism. The idea was “to just do activism to take control of the Sunnis. Teach ideas to ultimately unify Islam.”

But with such things as the overthrow of the Shah in Iran and Ayatollah Khomeini becoming the supreme leader and the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, these militants groups realized they had power and could demonstrate that militarism could achieve their goals.

Isis too feels like it has power with the attention it garners with the beheadings of Americans or its connection to attacks in France at Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine in January.

“(In their minds) It puts them on equal footing with the west,” Mourad said. And if “we are equal to the West, we can defeat the West.”

Each regime, meanwhile, in the Middle East has its own agenda but leaders are not able or willing right now to talk about what that is and how to meet their needs. Some take advantage of groups like Isis to push for their respective interests and agendas.

So the wars have to play out until they are willing to talk. Meanwhile he said, “We have no business being (there.)”

He said the Iranians during the overthrow of the Shah said, “America is Satan” and wanted to destroy the country. That hatred has only worsened as the United States has gotten more involved in the battles of the countries in the Middle East.

UN Calling Humanitarian Disaster In Syria A “Situation”

 

UN: Humanitarian situation in Syria dramatically worsened

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UN: Humanitarian situation in Syria dramatically worsened

The United Nations has more than doubled its estimate of Syrians who are living in besieged areas, who risk death by starvation, dehydration and a lack of medical care, to roughly 440,000. The U.N.’s top humanitarian official said that the life expectancy of a Syrian is expected to be 20 years lower than when the conflict started. The U.N. also said that the war, which has recently entered its fifth year, has killed more than 220,000 people. It was also claimed that at least $8.5 billion is needed this year to meet the needs of Syrians.

The Arab uprisings, which euphorically swept across the Middle East and North Africa, attracted Syrians who had lived under the dictatorship of the Assad family since 1970, when Bashar’s father Hafiz Assad seized power. Since then the majority Sunnis were forced to live in a police state that tried to control every movement, organization or business through the use a wide-ranging intelligence service. In March of 2011, Syrians were emboldened enough to raise their voices against the dictatorship. However, the regime’s response was not as peaceful as the protests. And the country was subsequently dragged into a deadly civil war after opposition groups took up arms against the government. The opposition groups have also been divided internally. While moderate opposition groups like the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) were struggling for a democratic Syria where all religious and political groups would be free to exist, radical elements like al-Qaida’s Syrian branch Nusra Front or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) aimed to establish a new Syria, ruled by an extremist religious jurisprudence.

The fate of the country was changed since the war started. United Nations’ top humanitarian official said that the inability of the international community to stop the war means millions of Syrians will continue to suffer. Valerie Amos said the situation has “dramatically worsened.” In just the past month, she noted that the number of Syrians living in what are considered “besieged” areas has doubled, from 212,000 to 440,000. Nearly 5 million Syrians live in hard-to-reach areas. “The inability of this Council, and countries with influence over the different parties at war in Syria, to agree on the elements for a political solution in the country means that the humanitarian consequences will continue to be dire for millions of Syrians,” said Amos. As the world has taken stock this month of Syria on the anniversary of the conflict, Amos pointed out some of the more grim findings: “Today, a Syrian’s life expectancy is estimated to be 20 years less than when the conflict started,” she said. “Unemployment is around 58 percent, up from around 10 percent in 2010; nearly two-thirds of all Syrians are now estimated to be living in extreme poverty.” Amos later told reporters that $8.5 billion is needed this year to address the crisis both in and outside Syria, whose neighbors say they are overwhelmed by millions of refugees. Many aid groups and others in the international community say the divided council has failed the Syrian people on this and other issues. Russia, Syria’s ally, has blocked actions such as an attempted referral of the country’s situation to the International Criminal Court, though some diplomats say they’d like to try again for a referral.

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