Adonis Diaries

Archive for September 5th, 2014

 A different take on the slaughtered US journalists


There’s now two American journalists killed by the Islamic State ISIS.

People will probably be upset by the following words as callous. I don’t want to blame victims for their death, but their paths seem dangerously similar.

Both were freelancers. Both hopped around war zones.

Neither understood the languages of the places they covered. Neither knew those places well.

Tributes to them talk about how they were dedicated to telling the stories of people.

But if they were so dedicated to these individuals, why didn’t they stick around in the places they covered?

Why didn’t they live in these places rather than have “stints” in Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria?

Why didn’t the deaths of far more experienced journalists and local reporters forewarn them?

And why didn’t the news outlets that published their materials give them a contract?

The Global Post had a rather suspect article titled “Here’s what James Foley meant to us.”

The outlet didn’t even sign the guy after he won an award.

And why do we focus on these people? Because they’re American?

Are the 190,000 Syrians killed not worth us knowing their names?

I feel bad for the people who knew them, and if I ever fall victim to their fate then these words may prove to haunt me.

But if we truly abhor the group that killed them, and feel bad for what has happened to these journalists, then let us not glorify them any further. They aren’t “the story.” So many freelancers were just lucky: many went to places they could not locate on a map

  • Note 1: So many didn’t even know the country, or knew the borders of the country or much of its history and culture.

    Lucky because those who assisted them were worth more than gold and barely got a hint of appreciation from the foreign journals
    We all have seen scores of people being slain like sheep and beheaded. But for such method to be applied on US citizens?
    Close combat is not appreciated by US military: the enemy must die by drones and airplanes in order to safeguard the illusion of not “really killing”
    Note 2: The Sotloff family appointed a lawyer claiming to be ready to dialogue with Abu Bakr on religion and Coran and he barely can speak Arabic.

Modern means. Slick production… ISIS forging its archaic Caliphat-hood

Iraqi expert on Isis, Hisham Alhashimi, said:

Abu Bakr Baghdadi wants to bring the US Americans into a war with him so he will prove that what was written in the Quran and the prophecies that (Christians) will fight against the Muslims. He wants to prove that he is the leader of Muslims.

Having the Americans bomb him is not at odds with spreading the caliphate. ISIS dream is a real jihad against the Crusaders.”

Baghdadi does not fear the Arab world’s armies.

He has tapped into the ruins of a body politic across much of the Arab world that has spectacularly failed to share power or respond to the will of the street.

He knows from his time in Iraq, both in US prisons and on the battlefields that to be realistically confronted, the US, or another power, will need to ally with local backers.

 in The Guardian, Wednesday 3 September 2014

What next for Islamic State, the would-be caliphate?

Isis is making very modern military and media advances, but its existence is rooted in religion and old sectarian divides
A Shia militia fighter holds a gun

A Shia militia fighter holds a gun near a graffito that says ‘Amerli‘ in Arabic (city  in Iraq that was freed lately from Daesh). Photograph: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images

The world’s most potent terror group is also its most savvy.

In its 18 month existence, Islamic State (Isis) has imposed its old world view of Islam using very modern means. Slick production, an eye for a camera angle and high definition horror have done just as much to showcase the group – and further its aims – as its rampage across Iraq and Syria.

Almost every move Isis has made has been chronicled in some form, either through shaky hand held mobile phones that have captured battle scenes Blair Witch style, or by applying more sophisticated Hollywood production values.

An hour-long chronology of barbarism that the group posted online in June featured an opening sequence copied straight from the 2009 film about the Iraq war, The Hurt Locker.

Isis may eschew much of the modern world, but it certainly studies its enemy.

And, in what is the biggest punt of its short and bloody life, the group appears to have gambled that it can call the bluff of its most formidable foe.

On extremist web forums and within the organisation, debate is raging about how the US will respond to the beheading of two of its citizens, and what Britain and Europe may do if its nationals are harmed.

A growing school of though is that the gruesome, highly public, deaths of James Foley and Stephen Sotloff (an Israeli/US), have done what three blood-soaked years in Syria and Iraq had previously failed to do: galvanized war-weary western leaders and their deeply skeptical publics to a common and fast growing enemy that may eventually point its turrets their way.

Advocates of toning down the brazen violence say that while such tactics have a strong terror shock value among communities they want to conquer, they also stir sleeping giants.

And if Isis is to continue its quest for dominance, having superpowers collectively enraged so soon might not help further such goals.

The group has enormous momentum at the moment:

1. militarily it is manoeuvering on three fronts at once – something far beyond the Iraqi, or Syrian armies.

2. It is collecting large numbers of Sunnis on both sides of the now redundant border. Some are joining out of coercion, others from fear and a smaller number from a conviction that the jihadis share their values and are acting out pre-ordained prophecies.

Whatever their motivation, Iraq’s Sunni minority shares a common sense of being estranged from any semblance of a political process ever since Saddam Hussein was ousted in Iraq and Shia Islamic Iran established itself as a post-occupation power.

Syria’s Sunni majority, especially in the north and east, has been partly subservient to a Shia-aligned Alawite regime for more than three decades longer. Together they make a formidable support base.

Supporters in favour of a less confrontational approach say that Isis needs this stunning progress to continue if it is to make good its goal of re-establishing a caliphate across ancient Islamic lands.

After declaring the establishment of a new caliphate, what to do now is at the behest of the self-styled caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and a tightly-knit military council that makes all the group’s strategic decisions.

(Currently, all the leading chiefs in ISIS are Iraqis. The Syrians and foreigners play secondary roles)

Some who study Isis closely say Baghdadi is aiming for an apocalyptic showdown that he wants to bring on sooner rather than later. Interpretations of Koranic teachings underpin all of what Baghdadi does.

And high on the list of teachings being adhered to by Isis is a 1,400 year old prediction that Muslims and Christians would fight a pre-apocalyptic battle in a place called Dabek. (I never heard of that prediction or who did the prediction)

Since establishing themselves as a force in northern Syria in May 2013, Isis members have focused on small hamlet of 4,000 people some 30 miles south of the Turkish border, called Murj Dabek. This, to many among Isis, is ground zero of the war, a place where ancient prophecies will be thrashed out in an existential battle between the faiths.

(I never heard of that prediction or who did the prediction. Murj Dabek is the battlefield where the Ottoman army crushed and the Mameluke army that ruled Egypt and Syria as the Ottoman Empire decided to expand southward during Salim I in the 16th century)

Baghdadi does not fear the Arab world’s armies. He has tapped into the ruins of a body politic across much of the Arab world that has spectacularly failed to share power or respond to the will of the street. He knows from his time in Iraq, both in US prisons and on the battlefields that to be realistically confronted, the US, or another power will need to ally with local backers.

He also knows, that without an occupying army – and re-occupying central Arabia is something that Barack Obama still seems repulsed by – it will be difficult to splinter the Sunni support base that now stands with him.

“There are military leaders working with him, former Saddam henchmen,” said one former middle-ranking member of Isis who left the group before it changed the face of the Middle East in June with its advances into Mosul and Tikrit.

They were not with us then. They thought we were a bus that they wanted to get to their destination. But now, from what I know of them, they are just as ruthless, just as committed. These people are running the war in places like Tikrit. Even if they part ways, they will help Islamic State win.”

Note: Apparently, the western States have not yet decided to crush ISIS and the social networks used by ISIS have been easily circumvented to spread the message.

Kids Traveling Schools: The hardest of ways

Going to school is a dangerous experience.

Confronting nature’s obstacles are the least of the dangers

The school season is beginning in many countries throughout the world. And reaching schools is not as easy as riding the bus.

It’s important not to forget that, in some parts of the world, school can be a hard-won luxury. Many children throughout the world have to take the most incredible and unimaginable routes in order to receive the education that some of us may take for granted.

This list we collected will show you just how determined some children can be when it comes to getting an education.

According to UNESCO, progress in connecting children to schools has slowed down over the past 5 years. Areas that lack suitable school routes can often flood, making it even harder for kids to commute. Dangerous paths are one of the main reasons why many children decide to quit school.

The solution might seem easy: build roads and bridges, buy buses and hire a driver.

However, the lack of funds and recurring natural disasters in many countries make it difficult to provide children with the solutions they so desperately need.

(h/t: amusingplanet)

5-Hour Journey Into The Mountains On A 1ft Wide Path To Probably The Most Remote School In The World, Gulu, China

Image credits: Sipa Press

School children Climbing On Unsecured Wooden Ladders, Zhang Jiawan Village, Southern China

Image credits: Imaginachina/Rex Features

Kids Traveling To A Boarding School Through The Himalayas, Zanskar, Indian Himalayas

Image credits: Timothy Allen

Pupils Crossing A Damaged Suspension Bridge, Lebak, Indonesia

After the story spread, Indonesia’s largest steel producer, PT Krakatau Steel, built a new bridge, so that the children could cross the river safely. (Image credits: Reuters)

Kids Flying 800m On A Steel Cable 400m Above The Rio Negro River, Colombia

Image credits: Christoph Otto

Pupils Canoeing To School, Riau, Indonesia

Image credits: Nico Fredia

Kids Traveling Through The Forest Across A Tree Root Bridge, India

Source: The Atlantic

A Girl Riding A Bull To School, Myanmar

Image credits: Andrey

Riding a Tuktuk (Auto Rickshaw) To School In Beldanga, India

Image credits: Dilwar Mandal

Crossing a Broken Bridge In The Snow To Get To School In Dujiangyan, Sichuan Province, China

Image credits: Imaginechina / Rex Features

Children Traveling On The Roof Of A Wooden Boat In Pangururan, Indonesia

Image credits: Muhammad Buchari

School Girls Walking Across A Plank On The Wall Of The 16th Century Galle Fort In Sri Lanka

Image credits: Reuters/Vivek Prakash

Pupils Traveling By Boat in Kerala, India

Image credits: Santosh Sugumar

School children Riding A Horse Cart Back From School In Delhi, India

Image credits: Reuters

Students Crossing Ciherang River On A Makeshift Bamboo Raft, Cilangkap Village, Indonesia

Image credits: Reuters/Beawiharta Beawiharta

125-Mile Journey To A Boarding School Through The Mountains, Pili, China

Image credits: unknown

Pupils Walking On A Tightrope 30 Feet Above A River, Padang, Sumatra, Indonesia

Image credits: Panjalu Images / Barcroft Media

Elementary School Students Crossing A River On Inflated Tire Tubes, Rizal Province, Philippines

Image credits: Dennis M. Sabangan / EPA

Image credits: Bullit Marquez /AP





September 2014

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