Adonis Diaries

Archive for April 23rd, 2015

Maintaining an autonomous foreign policy comes with the steepest of prices: Case of Syria in last 4 decades

Syria during the reign of late Hafiz Assad undertook a consistent strategy to master the autonomy in its foreign policies, against all odds.

Before Hafez Assad military coup in 1972, Syria witnessed a succession of coups.

The people in Damascus knew that a coup is being prepared when the Saudis left the country: The monarchy in Saudi Arabia was the financial deep pocket for every military coup.

It is documented that the first monarch Ibn Saud wrote in his testament to his descendants:

1. Egypt is the head of the Arab World. Decapitate Egypt.

2. Syria is the heart of the Arab World: Plunge a dagger in this heart

3. Syria must never link with Iraq.

Obey these orders and the monarchy will survive and strive. (Yemen was still under British dominion)

Hafez was able to sustain this strategy after the death of the Arab Leader Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1970,  whom no Arabic leader could circumvent without terrible repercussions to his regime.

In order for an autonomous Syria to bear fruit, it was necessary and indispensable to focus on the moot flank which was Lebanon: Lebanon was the main hub for all kinds of undercover foreign machinations to destabilize the Middle-East.

After the death of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Lebanon was wide open to the preparation of all kinds of foreign plans to wreck havoc in the Orient.

By 1972, the Palestinian Organization Fateh of Yasser Arafat was the powerbroker in Lebanese politics and matched the Lebanese army military might. Fateh was ousted from Jordan and they settled in the Arkoub region in south Lebanon before they moved their headquarters to Beirut.

Arafat feared Hafez most and he did his best to find a balance between satisfying Hafez dictate and keep the flow of financial and political supports from Saudi Arabia, Iraq of Saddam and Egypt.

All the political manoeuvring of Hafez to firmly bring Arafat under his wing failed. Hafez then created a parallel military Palestinian wing (The thunderstorm) under the umbrella of Fateh (Al Sa3ikat) and used this branch to squeeze Arafat for political concessions.

It is related that most of the Palestinian heavy weapons were stashed in Sa3ikat warehouses, and that is why Arafat could not kill the emerging civil war in Lebanon swiftly and in its bud.

Direct interference in Lebanon was becoming an urgent matter and the USA provided the Green Light to Hafez to control Lebanon for over 3 decades.

The funny part is that Hafez never asked any financial aid or support from the successive US governments in order to maintain his autonomy.

In order to safeguard Syria from foreign interventions, particularly military wars that he is not prepared for, Hafez obliged the Turkish government to hand over the Kurdish/Turkish resistance leader Abdullah Ocalan. He managed not to let the US get involve in Syria internal affairs and negotiate better term for the distribution of the Euphrates River.

The successor of Hafiz, his son Bashar opted to try an alternative policy of openness to the western nations since 2001. The globalization process was very tempting to allow many close relatives to the family of Assad to monopolize many State institutions and trafficking.

Soon the Syrian regime was under heavy pressures from the USA and France to support their foreign policies.

During Hafiz, Syria played skilfully the political navigation of regional game of influences between the rising Khomeini Iranian Islamic State and the neighboring Arabic States.

Thus, Hafiz allowed that Hezbollah remains the main resistance force in Lebanon against the Israeli occupier while sustaining the standing political power of Nabih Berry (current Parliament chief), leader of the Shi3a AMAL militia.

When the western powers, backed by Turkey, decided to destabilize Syria, Iran was already firmly implanted in Syria and Lebanon and had managed to organize and finance a powerful resistance movement in south Lebanon and in the Bekaa valley.

It is thanks to Iran and Hezbollah, backed by Russia and China, that the regime in Syria was able to withstand the onslaught of the civil war for the 5th year.

The irony is Israel failed to take advantage politically in this period.

Instead of opening political negotiations, Israel kept opting for pre-emptive wars in Lebanon and Gaza and failed miserably, while the resistance forces increased its firepower and political standing.

A page of rage that sublimate the feeling of hopelessness in this region

This moment of total awareness that permits you to fill all your rage in a single page

Sabine Choucair shared this link on April5, 2015

Raphaël Khouri and Baz Joan – you nailed it

'That awkward moment when you realise you can fit all your rage onto one page.</p><br />
<p>NOTE: Please forgive me. In the page of rage manifesto I wrote for The Outpost, I forgot to include the sentence: Because fuck the NGOs and non-profits stealing money in the name of the people they profess to "empower" and work for, like women, gayz, Syrians, Palestinians, artists. These oppressed minority groups sound so good when you ask money from funders, don't they?'
Raphaël Khouri with Baz Joan at the outpost magazine, Beirut

That awkward moment when you realise you can fit all your rage onto one page.

NOTE: In the page of rage manifesto I wrote for The Outpost, I forgot to include the sentence:

Because fuck the NGOs and non-profits stealing money in the name of the people they profess to “empower” and work for, like women, gay,  Syrians, Palestinians, artists.

These oppressed minority groups sound so good when you ask money from funders, don’t they?


Fibonacci numbers? How wonderful

Mathematics is not just solving for x, it’s also figuring out why

So why do we learn mathematics? Essentially, for 3 reasons: calculation, application, and inspiration.

0:27 Mathematics is the science of patterns, and we study it to learn how to think logically, critically and creatively, but too much of the mathematics that we learn in school is not effectively motivated, and when our students ask, “Why are we learning this?” then they often hear that they’ll need it in an upcoming math class or on a future test.

But wouldn’t it be great if every once in a while we did mathematics simply because it was fun or beautiful or because it excited the mind?

Now, I know many people have not had the opportunity to see how this can happen, so let me give you a quick example with my favorite collection of numbers, the Fibonacci numbers.

1:12 These numbers can be appreciated in many different ways. From the standpoint of calculation, they’re as easy to understand as one plus one, which is two. Then one plus two is three, two plus three is five, three plus five is eight, and so on.

Indeed, the person we call Fibonacci was actually named Leonardo of Pisa, and these numbers appear in his book “Liber Abaci,” which taught the Western world the methods of arithmetic that we use today.

In terms of applications, Fibonacci numbers appear in nature surprisingly often. The number of petals on a flower is typically a Fibonacci number, or the number of spirals on a sunflower or a pineapple tends to be a Fibonacci number as well.

1:59 In fact, there are many more applications of Fibonacci numbers, but what I find most inspirational about them are the beautiful number patterns they display.

Let me show you one of my favorites. Suppose you like to square numbers, and frankly, who doesn’t? (Laughter)

2:15 Let’s look at the squares of the first few Fibonacci numbers.

So one squared is one, two squared is four, three squared is nine, five squared is 25, and so on.

Now, it’s no surprise that when you add consecutive Fibonacci numbers, you get the next Fibonacci number. Right? That’s how they’re created. But you wouldn’t expect anything special to happen when you add the squares together. But check this out. One plus one gives us two, and one plus four gives us five. And four plus nine is 13, nine plus 25 is 34, and yes, the pattern continues.

2:53 In fact, here’s another one.

Suppose you wanted to look at adding the squares of the first few Fibonacci numbers. Let’s see what we get there. So one plus one plus four is six. Add nine to that, we get 15. Add 25, we get 40. Add 64, we get 104. Now look at those numbers. Those are not Fibonacci numbers, but if you look at them closely, you’ll see the Fibonacci numbers buried inside of them.

3:21 Do you see it? I’ll show it to you. Six is two times three, 15 is three times five, 40 is five times eight, two, three, five, eight, who do we appreciate?


3:35 Now, as much fun as it is to discover these patterns, it’s even more satisfying to understand why they are true.

Let’s look at that last equation. Why should the squares of one, one, two, three, five and eight add up to eight times 13? I’ll show you by drawing a simple picture. We’ll start with a one-by-one square and next to that put another one-by-one square. Together, they form a one-by-two rectangle. Beneath that, I’ll put a two-by-two square, and next to that, a three-by-three square, beneath that, a five-by-five square, and then an eight-by-eight square, creating one giant rectangle, right?

4:17 Now let me ask you a simple question: what is the area of the rectangle? Well, on the one hand, it’s the sum of the areas of the squares inside it, right? Just as we created it.

It’s one squared plus one squared plus two squared plus three squared plus five squared plus eight squared. Right? That’s the area.

On the other hand, because it’s a rectangle, the area is equal to its height times its base, and the height is clearly eight, and the base is five plus eight, which is the next Fibonacci number, 13. Right?

So the area is also eight times 13. Since we’ve correctly calculated the area two different ways, they have to be the same number, and that’s why the squares of one, one, two, three, five and eight add up to eight times 13.

5:09 Now, if we continue this process, we’ll generate rectangles of the form 13 by 21, 21 by 34, and so on.

5:18 Now check this out. If you divide 13 by 8, you get 1.625. And if you divide the larger number by the smaller number, then these ratios get closer and closer to about 1.618, known to many people as the Golden Ratio, a number which has fascinated mathematicians, scientists and artists for centuries.

5:41 Now, I show all this to you because, like so much of mathematics, there’s a beautiful side to it that I fear does not get enough attention in our schools. We spend lots of time learning about calculation, but let’s not forget about application, including, perhaps, the most important application of all, learning how to think.

6:02 If I could summarize this in one sentence, it would be this: Mathematics is not just solving for x, it’s also figuring out why.

The magic of Fibonacci numbers
Math is logical, functional and just … awesome.
Mathemagician Arthur Benjamin explores hidden properties of that weird and wonderful set of numbers, the Fibonacci series. (And reminds you that mathematics can be inspiring, too!)
TED · 43,696 Shares · Nov




April 2015

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