Adonis Diaries

Archive for January 16th, 2018

It is a well known fact in Middle-East: Israel funded terrorist ISIS and Al Nusra for years

Report Confirms Israel Has Been Secretly Funding Syrian Rebels For Years

The revelation may also explain why ISIS has rarely if ever launched attacks against Israeli citizens or on Israel territory.

In this Thursday, April 6, 2017 photo made in Israeli controlled Golan Heights, Israeli military medics assist wounded Syrians. Seven wounded Syrians crossed into Israeli controlled Heights Thursday night have received immediate treatment and were hospitalized later on. They are the latest group of Syrian fighters receiving free medical care through an Israeli military program operating since 2013. (AP/Dusan Vranic)

Earlier, when discussing why the Syrian “rebels” fighting Assad are in “turmoil”, we said that as a result of the ongoing Qatar crisis the various Saudi and Qatari supply chains supporting the rebels, both in terms of weapons and funding, had dried up due to the diplomatic fallout involving Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

“Together with Turkey and the United States, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been major sponsors of the insurgency, arming an array of groups that have been fighting to topple Syria’s Iran-backed president.”

We concluded that “the rebellion against Assad now seems moot, which is why the most likely outcome is a continued phase-out of support for forces fighting the Syria government until eventually, the situation reverts back to its pre-2011 “status quo.”

That, however, may have been premature as it was missing a key piece of data, one which was just revealed by the WSJ and which many had suspected.

According to the Journal, Israel and Saudi Arabia have been aligned from the onset of the Syrian conflict, “with Israel supplying Syrian rebels near its border with cash as well as food, fuel, and medical supplies for years, a secret engagement in the enemy country’s civil war aimed at carving out a buffer zone populated by friendly forces.”

The Israeli army is in regular communication with rebel groups and its assistance includes undisclosed payments to commanders that help pay salaries of fighters and buy ammunition and weapons, according to interviews with about half a dozen Syrian fighters.

Israel has established a military unit that oversees the support in Syria—a country that it has been in a state of war with for decades—and set aside a specific budget for the aid, said one person familiar with the Israeli operation. (Actually, Syria never engaged Israel in a war since 1973. Israel tried several pre-emptive wars on Lebanon since then)

This news comes as a major surprise because while it was well known that Israel has provided medical help for Syrian civilians and fighters inside its own borders in the past, with the IDF retaliating to occasional stray rockets in the restive border region with reprisals, it was previously thought that the Israeli authorities largely stay out of the complicated six-year-old conflict next door. (Israel launched many attacks on Syrian targets, on account of destroying weapon warehouses)

That now appears to have been dead wrong.

“Israel stood by our side in a heroic way,” said Moatasem al-Golani, spokesman for the rebel group Fursan al-Joulan, or Knights of the Golan. “We wouldn’t have survived without Israel’s assistance.”

Al-Joulan is the main rebel group coordinating with Israel, according to fighters.

It told the WSJ that Israel’s support began as early as 2013 under former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, with the goal of creating a ‘buffer zone’ free of radical militants such as Isis and Iranian-allied forces along Israel’s border.

A special Israeli army unit was created to oversee the costly aid operation, the WSJ reported, which gives Fursan al-Joulan – Knights of the Golan – an estimated $5,000 (£3,900) a month. The group of around 400 fighters receives no direct support from Western rebel backers and is not affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, the official rebel umbrella organisation.

The Journal also reports that Israel may be funding up to 4 other rebel groups which have Western backing. The groups use the cash to pay fighters and buy ammunition.

In total, there are roughly 800 rebel fighters across more than a dozen villages in this area, where thousands of civilians live, fighters said. Many of the rebels and civilians in this area rely on some level of support from Israel, they added.

“Most people want to cooperate with Israel,” said a fighter with rebel group Liwaa Ousoud al-Rahman, also fighting on the Golan.

The alliance reportedly began after wounded Fursan al-Joulan fighters made their way to the border and begged Israeli soldiers for medical assistance.

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office did not respond to the Journal’s requests for comment, the Israel Defence Forces said in a statement that it is “committed to securing the borders of Israel and preventing the establishment of terror cells and hostile forces… in addition to providing humanitarian aid to the Syrians living in the area.”

Israel and Syria have technically been in a state of warfare for decades. Syria controls around one-third of the Golan Heights border, and Israel occupies the rest.

Israel has been providing Syrian rebels with cash and supplies in a secret engagement to carve out a friendly buffer zone.

Israel has been providing Syrian rebels with cash and supplies in a secret engagement to carve out a friendly buffer zone.

In recent years, Israeli air strikes in Syrian territory have aimed to prevent weapons smuggling to Iranian-allied Hezbollah, which fights alongside the Assad government. Hezbollah, like Iran, is committed to the destruction of the Jewish state.

Ironically, while Assad has in the past claimed – correctly it now turns out – that Israel supports rebel groups which his government refers to as terrorists, elements of the opposition have accused Israel of helping to keep the regime in power.

The biggest irony, of course, is that virtually for the entire duration of the Syrian conflict, Israel and Saudi Arabia were aligned on the same side against the Assad regime; it also means that one can add Israel to the ungodly proxy war in Syria alongside Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the US, Europe and most Arab states across from Iran, Turkey, Russia and, increasingly, China.

Today’s revelation may also explain why ISIS has rarely if ever launched attacks against Israeli citizens or on Israel territory.

Courtesy of the WSJ, here is a chronology of Israeli involvement in the Syrian proxy war:

  • 2011: Syrian uprising against Iran-backed President Bashar al-Assad begins.
  • 2012: Syrian rebel group the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, which has a presence in the divided Golan Heights near Israel’s border, forms and later declares allegiance to Islamic State. It then joins with other groups to form the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army, an offshoot of Islamic State.
  • 2013: Israel acknowledges it is treating Syrians wounded in the war in hospitals near the border. Secretly, the military begins to build a relationship with rebel commanders on the Syrian side of the Golan and starts sending aid.
  • January 2015: An alleged Israeli airstrike kills Hezbollah militants and a general in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps near Quneitra province in the Golan Heights. Israel later says the militants were planning to attack Israelis.
  • June 2015: Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon says Israel is helping Syrian rebels with medical treatment in return for assurances they won’t attack the Druse—a religious minority group that straddles the Israeli and Syrian sides of the Golan.
  • September 2015: Russia enters the war on the side of the Assad regime, tipping the balance of power in favor of the Iran-backed President.
  • December 2015: Lebanese Hezbollah militant Samir Kuntar dies in an Israeli airstrike in Damascus suburb. Israeli officials later said he was planning attacks against Israel from the Syrian side of the Golan.
  • 2016: Israel secretly sets up an army unit and budget to manage the relationship with rebels and civilians on the Golan Heights, say people familiar with the policy.
  • November 2016: An Israeli airstrike kills 4 Khalid ibn al-Walid militants in Syrian Golan after Israeli soldiers come under fire.
  • March 2017: Israeli warplanes carry out airstrikes inside Syria, drawing fire from antiaircraft missiles in the most intense military exchange between the two countries since the start of the Syrian conflict.
  • June 2017: Syrian rebels say they have been receiving cash from Israel for the past four years that they use to help pay salaries of fighters and buy ammunition and weapons.

Note: Syria has started to shoot down Israel warplanes. Any warplane crossing the Lebanese airspace is considered to be targeting Syria.

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Re-designing: opportunity to reframe problems and solution
Excellent read
Note: I consider this article as an extended version of how Human Factors engineers and practitioners must approach problems and experiments, and focusing on the health, safety and ease of use of any product or service.

The wider determinants of health developed by Public Health England show that in fact, things like someone’s education, their job, who their friends are, how they get on with family, and where they live can actually determine how long they will live – even if they’re using the same doctor as someone living down the road but who is likely to live 10 years longer.

In the last two decades, design has been demonstrating a refreshing approach to addressing such complex problems. This is because design provides the opportunity to re-frame problems and solutions.

It explores ways of doing things that haven’t been tried before, to address problems that haven’t been well understood before.

But in this age of complexity and multiple dependencies, problems are constantly and rapidly changing too, and so must solutions. We need to move away from the romantic notion that a solution – whether it’s a service, product or policy – needs to go through a one-off and well-polished design process, beyond which it will continue to be relevant forevermore.

Reality is very different.

So we’re making the case here that as designers, we have a mission to build the capabilities of non-designers who work within the organisations that are transforming our future.

This means they are equipped with the problem-solving mindset to constantly interrogate, improve and innovate as realities quickly evolve, and things that worked yesterday soon become obsolete.

Urgency for prevention and early intervention: There is a sense of urgency to pre-empt problems before they happen in order to save time, resource and often even lives.

The recent NHS Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) demonstrate this urgency. With an ever-increasing population, public services are at breaking point. (It has already broken down)

But since two-thirds of deaths among those under 75 are a result of preventable illness, there is a growing recognition that keeping as many people as possible healthy is the most sustainable investment.

This is where a lot of the STP plans are focusing their energy. Because design offers a lens into the future and a provocation for possible realities, it provides those committed to prevention and early intervention with the ability to understand future problems and to design solutions that can forestall them.

Systemic complexity: We can no longer think of products, services and policies outside of the systems they exist within and interact with.

For example, we worked with the Healthy London Partnership on a deep dive to understand the root causes of childhood obesity and to try out new ways of addressing this chronic challenge.

Our insight revealed that a one-pronged approach will never do.

We need to create positive and synchronised triggers at different points in the system: we need behavioural nudges that change the habits of individuals, we need social movements that influence and inspire whole communities, we need levers that transform physical obesogenic environments, and we also need legislation and regulation such as the Sugary Drink Tax to reduce temptation.

Design invites diverse people across the system to confront problems collaboratively, by creating solutions that leverage the collective power of everyone’s experience, expertise, resource and authority.

Ongoing transformation: In a time of austerity, we just can’t afford to keep slowly chipping away at the problem through little tweaks and tricks in the hope that it will one day disappear. We need to completely and continuously re-imagine how things might work better.

When working with a national charity, we realised that funding for children’s centres was at risk, and that they were struggling to reach diverse families. This meant we needed to completely transform the service, into one where children’s centres can go (literally ‘in a box’) into the homes of those who most need them, for a ninth of the cost and nine times the reach.

A design approach to problem-solving offered staff the opportunity to experiment with transformational ideas at a small and safe scale, fail quickly, learn fast and build confidence in the direction of travel.

What capabilities

Organisations need to develop a number of problem-solving capabilities to future-proof their solutions. In a recent Touchpoint article, my colleagues Jocelyn Bailey and Cat Drew argue that these capabilities are presumably less about skill and more about mindset and culture. Armed with the right mindset, organisations can then develop (and even invent) the unique skills, methods and tools to solve all types of diverse problems. This mindset is characterised by:

Deep human understandingthe approach invites curiosity and determination to explore what lies beneath people’s actions, decisions and perceptions.

Reframing challengesthe insight revealed through deep human understanding can help reframe the challenge to get to the bottom of the hidden root causes, rather than the visible symptoms.

Working with othersa design approach to problem-solving is humble. We admit that we don’t know it all, and we invite others who have experienced the problem in different ways or who are experts in related issues across the system, to come on board and shape the journey.

Learning by doingthe only way to test innovation is to give it a go. Design is a process of solving problems through doing, learning, improving and scaling. Starting small and imperfect can mitigate the risks of failure, and with every iterative cycle and every improved version, more investment and scale can be justified.

image: https://www.uscreates.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/uscreates_prototyping-1024×683.jpg

There are various ways that organisations can build the problem-solving capabilities of their workforce. Last year, I wrote an article with Joyce Yee in the Service Design Impact Report that reviewed different design capability models that the public sector draws on. There is not a one-size-fits-all model, and each presents its own benefits:

Structured trainingthis varies from one-day workshops to bootcamps. These are best for beginners who would like a taster of the mindset to assess whether it provides potential for the nature of their organisation’s challenges.

Experiential learningin other words, learning on the job. Often this takes the form of design experts facilitating a series of problem-solving sprints within an organisation, based on a real challenge. Staff are invited to shadow the process, reflect on learning, and experience the benefits first-hand.

Coachingthis model is suited for more experienced organisations who have potentially benefited from structured training and/or experiential learning. They would be keen to lead the problem-solving process themselves, with the support of a design coach for strategic guidance, alignment, and constructive provocation.

Internal disruption: a popular example of this is the lab model, where an organisation invests in an innovation team embedded within, with a role to create and grow a movement and a culture that embraces a design mindset to problem-solving.

In today’s complex and rapidly evolving world, organisations need to start thinking differently about how they are future-proofing what they do and how they do it. They need to invest in people, not solutions. By better equipping their people with a problem-solving mindset, they are creating the enablers for ongoing improvement, innovation and future relevance.

 

Joanna is Design Director at Uscreates. She is a social designer, author, speaker and lecturer with over 15 years of practical experience in the UK, the Middle East and the United States. She leads on the development and delivery of service design, user centred innovation, design research, business modelling, communication and digital design projects.

Joanna has worked with over 50 public and third sector organisations – including Nesta, The Healthy London Partnership, the Health Foundation and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust – to help them better understand and address their challenges.

She has expertise across a broad range of social challenges including health and wellbeing, social integration, social action, employment, education and social enterprise. Joanna has a Ph.D. in design for social integration in design for social integration and is an RSA fellow. She is an associate lecturer at the University of the Arts London, Kingston University and Ravensbourne University.

Read more at https://www.uscreates.com/capability-training/#rtyugoxJFYpkkelH.9

The master artist preserving Jerusalem’s history

Jerusalem, occupied West Bank – In his small and cramped studio, Shehab Kawasmi moves carefully around piles of centuries-old photographs, stacks of drawings and thick books.

by 3 Jan 2018
The master artist preserving Jerusalem's history
A realist painter, Kawasmi uses his brush to draw hundreds of historic and religious landmarks in Jerusalem’s Old City, the place where he was born and raised.

“I feel it is my duty as an artist to preserve the history of our city for future generations,” said the Palestinian aritis, who has dedicated his life’s work to depict the rich history of his city.

Born in 1959 in the holy city’s Chain Gate neighbourhood, just a few steps away from al-Aqsa Mosque, the Palestinian painter grew up surrounded by Jerusalem’s numerous monuments.

For him and his friends growing up in the 1960s, these iconic landmarks were their playground, a place of affinity and inspiration.

Drawings of Old Jerusalem from the artist’s book [Al Jazeera]

Ever since his teenage years, the Old City, with its ancient landscape, interlinked souqs and Roman, Christian and Islamic architecture, has always lured Kawasmi to recreate it on canvas.

“I used to draw Jerusalem landmarks for friends and family as gifts, but later on they encouraged me to do it professionally and full time, and this is how I started my Jerusalem collections,” he said.

Kawasmi has so far published a number of books with his creations and has exhibited both at home and abroad.

His vast collection includes drawings of intricate artwork from inside al-Aqsa Mosque, Ottoman architecture, Christian landmarks, churches and ancient archaeological sites.

They are all based on his own observation of the famous landmarks, as well as photographs he has taken of them.

Kawasmi has also assembled a vast collection of old photographs of many of Jerusalem’s historical and religious places dating back to the previous centuries.

His latest book, Kan Yama Kan, or One upon a Time: Jerusalem before a 100 years, has more than 70 black and white realistic drawings depicting the Old City’s history and religious significance.

Drawings of Old Jerusalem from the artist’s book  [Al Jazeera]

Every time the topic turns to Jerusalem, Kawasmi’s face lights up as he describes the Old City’s ancient passageways, many of which outsiders would find puzzling and confusing.

He and other local Palestinians know almost every corner of the city’s narrow lanes, its secret alleys, its Roman caverns, its Christian monasteries and numerous Ottoman and other Islamic landmarks.

“I can never get lost here,” said Kawasmi.

Like every Palestinian from Jerusalem, every corner of it is practically imprinted in my memory since childhood.

“This place represents my entire life – as a child, an adult and as an artist.”

Shehab Kawasmi in his studio [Ali Younes / Al Jazeera]

Kawasmi said the publication of his latest book hit a snag due to the high cost of printing its glossy cover-to-cover content.

But things took a turn for the better when King Abdullah II of Jordan, who is the custodian of the Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, decided to sponsor Kawasmi’s effort after coming to know about it.

“King Abdullah saved this project with his generous donation, and I am so grateful for that,” he said.

Abdullah also purchased 100 copies which he gifted to participating delegations during the Arab League summit held in Jordan’s capital, Amman, in March.

Currently, Kawasmi is working on another book of drawings dedicated specifically to al-Aqsa Mosque and its ancient artwork.


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