Adonis Diaries

Archive for April 2018

Israel Defends ISIS And Attacks Syria Near Golan Heights

AL KOM , Syria – Israel has attacked Syria with a missile strike targeting a position held by the Syrian Arab Army in al-Kom, a town near the occupied Golan Heights in  Syria.

This comes  as the government forces crackdown on ISIS and related jihadi groups in the area.

Israel’s history of supporting ISIS has been documented  by Atlanticist press as well. “Israel ‘giving secret aid to Syrian rebels’, report says.

Direct funding, food, fuel and medical supplies allegedly provided by Israeli state to keep Isis and Iranian-allied forces in neighbouring civil war at bay “, according to the report covered by the Independent.

Today’s strikes represent what could be moves of desperation on the part of the Zionist entity, and generally are meant to test the geopolitical waters.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War. A ceasefire was signed on June 11th 1967, and the Golan Heights came under Israeli military administration. Israel has been illegally occupying the Golan Heights since 1967.

Israel is positioning herself as anti-Russian party in that part of the world, this is clear to anybody with a bit of intelligence. And as far as I know, the US foreign policies are influenced to a certain extent by the Zionist and Extremist Evangelical Zionists lobby in US.

Israel keeps attacking Russia’s ally Syria, over, and over, and that is not an act of friendliness to Russia by Israel.

Their so called “we are defending ourselves against the terrorist Hezbollah” is a distortion of the reality. It is Israel who is supporting the terrorists in Syria, and it is Israel who has been committing acts of aggression against Syria.

I think Russia should give Syria the weapons she needs to effectively defend herself from any and all aggressors.

The ISIS Files: When Terrorists Run City Hall

Note: Read the original article below for the many pictures

  April 4, 2018

MOSUL, Iraq — Weeks after the militants seized the city, as fighters roamed the streets and religious extremists rewrote the laws, an order rang out from the loudspeakers of local mosques.

Public servants, the speakers blared, were to report to their former offices.

To make sure every government worker got the message, the militants followed up with phone calls to supervisors. When one tried to beg off, citing a back injury, he was told: “If you don’t show up, we’ll come and break your back ourselves.”

RUKMINI CALLIMACHI, a New York Times foreign correspondent, has covered ISIS since 2014. She has tracked the group’s rise around the world from their encrypted, online chatrooms to on-the-ground reporting on four continents. Her new audio series, Caliphate, launches later this month.

The phone call reached Muhammad Nasser Hamoud, a 19-year veteran of the Iraqi Directorate of Agriculture, behind the locked gate of his home, where he was hiding with his family.

Terrified but unsure what else to do, he and his colleagues trudged back to their six-story office complex decorated with posters of seed hybrids.

They arrived to find chairs lined up in neat rows, as if for a lecture.

The commander who strode in sat facing the room, his leg splayed out so that everyone could see the pistol holstered to his thigh. For a moment, the only sounds were the hurried prayers of the civil servants mumbling under their breath.

Their fears proved unfounded.

Though he spoke in a menacing tone, the commander had a surprisingly tame request: Resume your jobs immediately, he told them. A sign-in sheet would be placed at the entrance to each department. Those who failed to show up would be punished.

Muhammad Nasser Hamoud worked at the agriculture ministry under ISIS. He was instructed to list properties owned by non-Sunnis and sieze them for redistribution. Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

Meetings like this one occurred throughout the territory controlled by the Islamic State in 2014. Soon municipal employees were back fixing potholes, painting crosswalks, repairing power lines and overseeing payroll.

“We had no choice but to go back to work,” said Mr. Hamoud. “We did the same job as before. Except we were now serving a terrorist group.”

The disheveled fighters who burst out of the desert more than three years ago founded a state that was acknowledged by no one except themselves.

And yet for nearly three years, the Islamic State controlled a stretch of land that at one point was the size of Britain, with a population estimated at 12 million people.

At its peak, it included a 100-mile coastline in Libya, a section of Nigeria’s lawless forests and a city in the Philippines, as well as colonies in at least 13 other countries. By far the largest city under their rule was Mosul.

How Far ISIS Spread Across Iraq and
Syria and Where It’s Still Holding On

Since declaring a caliphate in 2014, the Islamic State has controlled large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. But after the group retreated from Mosul and Raqqa in 2017, it lost nearly all of its territory.

Nearly all of that territory has now been lost, but what the militants left behind helps answer the troubling question of their longevity:

How did a group whose spectacles of violence galvanized the world against it hold onto so much land for so long?

Part of the answer can be found in more than 15,000 pages of internal Islamic State documents I recovered during five trips to Iraq over more than a year.

The documents were pulled from the drawers of the desks behind which the militants once sat, from the shelves of their police stations, from the floors of their courts, from the lockers of their training camps and from the homes of their emirs, including this record detailing the jailing of a 14-year-old boy for goofing around during prayer.

This arrest record was for one of three boys who were accused of fooling around during prayer.

The ticket book was recovered in early 2017 north of Mosul in the town of Tel Kaif, in a house that ISIS had turned into a police station.

B Ibrahim Muhammad Khalil, who was 14, was arrested at 3 p.m. on Dec. 21, 2015, by an ISIS police officer who booked him on charges of “laughing during prayer.”

C “You are requested to transport the prisoner described above to … the Ministry of the Hisba, Nineveh Province, Tel Kaif Sector … as soon as possible, and hand over the prisoner and all the reports, observations and documents related to him as well as his belongings and personal possessions.”

Reason for arrest: D “The propagation of virtue and prevention of vice.”

A little more than a decade later, after seizing huge tracts of Iraq and Syria, the militants tried a different tactic.

They built their state on the back of the one that existed before, absorbing the administrative know-how of its hundreds of government cadres. An examination of how the group governed reveals a pattern of collaboration between the militants and the civilians under their yoke.

One of the keys to their success was their diversified revenue stream.

The group drew its income from so many strands of the economy that airstrikes alone were not enough to cripple it.

Ledgers, receipt books and monthly budgets describe how the militants monetized every inch of territory they conquered, taxing every bushel of wheat, every liter of sheep’s milk and every watermelon sold at markets they controlled.

From agriculture alone, they reaped hundreds of millions of dollars. Contrary to popular perception, the group was self-financed, not dependent on external donors.

More surprisingly, the documents provide further evidence that the tax revenue the Islamic State earned far outstripped income from oil sales. It was daily commerce and agriculture — not petroleum — that powered the economy of the caliphate.

The United States-led coalition, trying to eject the Islamic State from the region, tried in vain to strangle the group by bombing its oil installations. It’s much harder to bomb a barley field.

It was not until last summer that the militants abandoned Mosul, after a battle so intense that it was compared to the worst combat of World War II.

While the militants’ state eventually crumbled, its blueprint remains for others to use.

“We dismiss the Islamic State as savage. It is savage. We dismiss it as barbaric. It is barbaric. But at the same time these people realized the need to maintain institutions,” said Fawaz A. Gerges, author of “ISIS: A History.”

“The Islamic State’s capacity to govern is really as dangerous as their combatants,” he said.

Land for the Taking

The day after the meeting, Mr. Hamoud, a Sunni, returned to work and found that his department was now staffed 100 percent by Sunnis, the sect of Islam practiced by the militants. The Shia and Christian colleagues who previously shared his office had all fled.

For a while, Mr. Hamoud and the employees he supervised at the agriculture department went on much as they had before. Even the stationery they used was the same, though they were instructed to use a marker to cover up the Iraqi government’s logo.

The New York Times is working to make the trove of ISIS documents publicly available to researchers, scholars, Iraqi officials and anyone else looking to better understand the Islamic State.

But the long-bearded men who now oversaw Mr. Hamoud’s department had come with a plan, and they slowly began to enact it.

For generations, jihadists had dreamed of establishing a caliphate.

Osama bin Laden frequently spoke of it and his affiliates experimented with governing in the dunes of Mali, in the badlands of Yemen and in pockets of Iraq. Their goal was to recreate the society that existed over a millennium ago during the time of the Prophet Muhammad.

In Mosul, what had been called the Directorate of Agriculture was renamed Diwan al-Zera’a, which can be translated as the Ministry of Agriculture. The term “diwan” harks back to the seventh-century rule of one of the earliest caliphs.

ISIS printed new letterhead that showed it had branded at least 14 administrative offices with “diwan,” renaming familiar ones like education and health. Then it opened diwans for things that people had not heard of: something called the hisba, which they soon learned was the feared morality police; another diwan for the pillaging of antiquities; yet another dedicated to “war spoils.”

What began as a cosmetic change in Mr. Hamoud’s office soon turned into a wholesale transformation.

The militants sent female employees home for good and closed the day care center. They shuttered the office’s legal department, saying disputes would now be handled according to God’s law alone.

And they did away with one of the department’s daily duties — checking an apparatus, placed outside, to measure precipitation. Rain, they said, was a gift from Allah — and who were they to measure his gift?

Employees were also told they could no longer shave, and they had to make sure the leg of their trousers did not reach the ankle.

Glossy pamphlets, like the one below, pinpointed the spot on the calf where the hem of the garb worn by the companions of the Prophet around 1,400 years ago was said to have reached.

Eventually, the 57-year-old Hamoud, who wears his hair in a comb-over and prides himself on his professional appearance, stopped buying razors. He took out the slacks he wore to work and asked his wife to trim off 5 centimeters.

But the biggest change came five months into the group’s rule, and it turned the hundreds of employees who had reluctantly returned to work into direct accomplices of the Islamic State. The change involved the very department Mr. Hamoud headed, which was responsible for renting government-owned land to farmers.

To increase revenue, the militants ordered the agriculture department to speed up the process for renting land, streamlining a weekslong application into something that could be accomplished in an afternoon.

That was just the beginning.

It was then that government workers got word that they should begin renting out property that had never belonged to the government. The instructions were laid out in a 27-page manual emblazoned with the phrase “The Caliphate on the Path of Prophecy.” The handbook outlined the group’s plans for seizing property from the religious groups it had expelled and using it as the seed capital of the caliphate.

“Confiscation,” the manual says, will be applied to the property of every single “Shia, apostate, Christian, Nusayri and Yazidi based on a lawful order issued directly by the Ministry of the Judiciary.”

Islamic State members are exclusively Sunni and see themselves as the only true believers. Mr. Hamoud’s office was instructed to make a comprehensive list of the properties owned by non-Sunnis — and to seize them for redistribution.

The confiscation didn’t stop at the land and homes of the families they chased out. An entire ministry was set up to collect and reallocate beds, tables, bookshelves — even the forks the militants took from the houses they seized. They called it the Ministry of War Spoils.

It was housed in a stone-faced building in western Mosul that was hit by an airstrike in the battle to retake the city. The ensuing fire consumed the structure and blackened its walls. But the charred shapes left behind still told a story. Each room served as a warehouse for ordinary household objects: kerosene heaters in one; cooking ranges in another; a jumble of air coolers and water tanks in yet another.

The few papers that did not burn up showed how objects seized from the religious groups they had chased out were offered as rewards to ISIS fighters.

“Please kindly approve the request of the family of the late Brother Durayd Salih Khalaf,” says one letter written on the letterhead of the Islamic State’s Prisoners and Martyrs Affairs Authority. The request was for a stove and a washing machine. A note scribbled at the bottom says: “To be provided with a plasma TV and stove only.”

Another application from the General Telecommunications Authority requested, among other things, clothes hangers.

The Islamic State’s promise of taking care of its own, including free housing for foreign recruits, was one of the draws of the caliphate.

“I’m in Mosul and it’s really the top here,” Kahina el-Hadra, a young Frenchwoman who joined the group in 2015, wrote in an email that year to her secondary school teacher, according to a transcript contained in a report by the Paris Criminal Brigade, which was obtained by The Times.

“I have an apartment that is fully furnished,” Ms. Hadra gushed. “I pay no rent nor even electricity or water lol. It’s the good life! I didn’t buy so much as a single fork.”

When her concerned teacher wrote back that the apartment had probably been stolen from another family, she shot back: “Serves them right, dirty Shia!

Ms. Hadra, according to police records, was the pregnant wife of one of the suicide bombers who blew himself up in the packed Bataclan concert hall during the Paris attacks of 2015.

The Paper Trail

I got into the habit of digging through the trash left behind by terrorists in 2013, when I was reporting on Al Qaeda in Mali.

Locals pointed out buildings the group had occupied in the deserts of Timbuktu. Beneath overturned furniture and in abandoned filing cabinets, I found letters the militants had hand-carried across the dunes that spelled out their vision of jihad.

Those documents revealed the inner workings of Al Qaeda, and years later I wanted to investigate the Islamic State in the same way.

When the “coalition forces?” moved to take Mosul back from the militants in late 2016, I rushed to Iraq. (It was the Iraqi militia 7ashed Sha3bi that reconquered Mosul)

For three weeks, I tried — and failed — to find any documents. Day after day, my team negotiated access to buildings painted with the Islamic State logo, only to find desk drawers jutting out and hard drives ripped out.

Then, the day before my return flight, we met a man who remembered seeing stacks of paper inside the provincial headquarters of the Islamic State’s Ministry of Agriculture in a small village called Omar Khan, 25 miles southeast of the city. The next day we traveled to the town, no more than a speck on the map of the Nineveh Plains, and entered House No. 47.

My heart sank as we pushed open the door and saw the closets flung open — a clear sign that the place had already been cleared.

But on the way out, I stopped at what seemed to be an outhouse. When we opened the door, we saw piles of yellow folders cinched together with twine and stacked on the floor.

We pulled one out, laid it open in the sun — and there was the unmistakable black banner of the Islamic State, the flag they claim was flown by the Prophet himself.

Folder after folder, 273 in all, identified plots of land owned by farmers who belonged to one of the faiths banned by the group. Each yellow sleeve contained the handwritten request of a Sunni applying to confiscate the property.

Doing so involved a step-by-step process, beginning with a report by a surveyor, who mapped the plot, noted important topographical features and researched the property’s ownership. Once it was determined that the land was owned by one of the targeted groups, it was classified as property of the Islamic State. Then a contract was drawn up spelling out that the tenant could neither sublet the land nor modify it without the group’s permission.

The outhouse discovery taught me to stay off the beaten track. I learned to read the landscape for clues, starting with باقية — “baqiya” — the first word of the Islamic State slogan. It can be translated as “will remain,” and marked the buildings the group occupied, invoking its claim that the Islamic State will endure.

Once we confirmed that a building had been occupied by the group, we lifted up the mattresses and pulled back the headboards of beds. We rifled through the closets, opened kitchen cupboards, followed the stairs to the roof and scanned the grounds.

The danger of land mines and booby-traps hung over our team. In one villa, we found a collection of records — but could search only one set of rooms after security forces discovered an unexploded bomb.

Because the buildings were near the front lines, Iraqi security forces nearly always accompanied our team. They led the way and gave permission to take the documents. In time, the troops escorting us became our sources and they, in turn, shared what they found, augmenting our cache by hundreds of records.

The Times asked six analysts to examine portions of the trove, including Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, who maintains his own archive of Islamic State documents and has written a primer on how to identify fraudulent ones; Mara Revkin, a Yale scholar who has made repeated trips to Mosul to study the group’s administration; and a team of analysts at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center who analyzed the records found in Bin Laden’s hide-out in Pakistan.

They deemed the records to be original, based on the markings, logos and stamps, as well as the names of government offices. The terminology and design were consistent with those found on documents issued by the group in other parts of the caliphate, including as far afield as Libya.

As lease after lease was translated back in New York, the same signature inked at the bottom of numerous contracts kept reappearing: “Chief Technical Supervisor, Mahmoud Ismael Salim, Supervisor of Land.”

On my first trip back to Iraq, I showed the leases to a local police officer. He recognized the angular signature and offered to escort me to the home of the ISIS bureaucrat.

The officer shrugged when asked why a man who had taken part in the group’s organized land theft had not been arrested. His men were overwhelmed investigating those who had fought and killed on behalf of the terrorist group, he said. They didn’t have time to also go after the hundreds of civil servants who had worked in the Islamic State’s administration.

Hours later, the man whose signature appeared on the lease for farmland seized from a Christian priest, on the contract for the orchards taken from a monastery, and on the deed for land stolen from a Shia family allowed us into his modest home.

The only decoration in his living room was a broken clock whose hand trembled between 10:43 and 10:44.

A stooped man with thick glasses, the 63-year-old Salim was visibly nervous. He explained that he had spent years overseeing the provincial office of the government of Iraq’s Directorate of Agriculture, where he reported to Mr. Hamoud, whom we contacted for the first time a few days later.

Mr. Salim acknowledged that it was his signature on the leases. But speaking haltingly, he claimed to have been forcibly conscripted into the bureaucracy of the terrorist state.

“They took our files and started going through them, searching which of the properties belong to Shia, which of them belong to apostates, which of them are people who had left the caliphate,” he said.

He described informants phoning in the addresses of Shias and Christians.

Sunnis who were too poor to pay the rent upfront were offered a sharecropping agreement with the Islamic State, allowing them to take possession of the stolen land in return for one-third of the future harvest.

On busy days, a line snaked around his office building, made up of Sunni farmers, many of them resentful of their treatment at the hands of a Shia-led Iraqi government. In the same compound where we found the stacks of yellow folders, Mr. Salim received men he knew, whose children had played with his. They came to steal the land of other men they all knew — whose children had also grown up alongside theirs.

With the stroke of his pen, farmers lost their ancestors’ cropland, their sons were robbed of their inheritance and the wealth of entire families, built up over generations, was wiped out.

“These are relationships we built over decades, from the time of my father, and my father’s father,” Mr. Salim said, pleading for understanding. “These were my brothers, but we were forced to do it.”

A Clean Sweep

As 2014 blurred into 2015 and Mr. Hamoud and his colleagues helped keep the machinery of government running, Islamic State soldiers set out to remake every aspect of life in the city — starting with the role of women.

Billboards went up showing an image of a woman fully veiled. The militants commandeered a textile factory, which began manufacturing bales of regulation-length female clothing. Soon thousands of niqab sets were delivered to the market, and women who didn’t cover up began to be fined.

Mr. Hamoud, who is known as “Abu Sara,” or Father of Sara, gave in and bought a niqab for his daughter.

As he walked to and from work, Mr. Hamoud began taking side streets to dodge the frequent executions that were being carried out in traffic circles and public squares. In one, a teenage girl accused of adultery was dragged out of a minivan and forced to her knees. Then a stone slab was dropped onto her head. On a bridge, the bodies of people accused of being spies swung from the railing.

But on the same thoroughfares, Mr. Hamoud noticed something that filled him with shame: The streets were visibly cleaner than they had been when the Iraqi government was in charge.

Omar Bilal Younes, a 42-year-old truck driver whose occupation allowed him to crisscross the caliphate, noticed the same improvement. “Garbage collection was No. 1 under ISIS,” he said, flashing a thumbs-up sign.

The street sweepers hadn’t changed. What had was that the militants imposed a discipline that had been lacking, said a half-dozen sanitation employees who worked under ISIS and who were interviewed in three towns after the group was forced out.

“The only thing I could do during the time of government rule is to give a worker a one-day suspension without pay,” said Salim Ali Sultan, who oversaw garbage collection both for the Iraqi government and later for the Islamic State in the northern Iraqi town of Tel Kaif. “Under ISIS, they could be imprisoned.”

Residents also said that their taps were less likely to run dry, the sewers less likely to overflow and potholes fixed more quickly under the militants, even though there were now near-daily airstrikes.

Then one day, residents of Mosul saw earthmovers heading toward a neighborhood called the Industrial Area in the eastern half of the city. Laborers were seen paving a new blacktop road that would eventually run for roughly one mile, connecting two areas of the city and reducing congestion.

The new highway was called “Caliphate Way.”

The new government did not concern itself only with administrative matters. For morality, as for everything else, there was a bureaucracy.

Citizens stopped in the street by the hisba, the morality police, and accused of an offense were ordered to hand over their IDs in return for a “confiscation receipt.” The ID was taken to the group’s office, where residents were forced to appear and face judgment. Religious specialists weighed the crime, filling out a form.

Afterward, the offender was made to sign another form: “I, the undersigned, pledge not to cut or trim my beard again,” said one. “If I do that again, I will be subject to all kinds of punishmentsthat the Hisba Center may take against me.”

The zeal with which the Islamic State policed the population is reflected in the 87 prison transfer records they abandoned in one of their police stations. Citizens were thrown into jail for a litany of obscure crimes, including eyebrow plucking, inappropriate haircuts, raising pigeons, playing dominoes, playing cards, playing music and smoking the hookah.

In early 2016, Mr. Hamoud’s daughter Sara ran out for a quick errand without covering her eyes.

She was spotted by an officer from the morality police. Before she could explain, he smashed his fist into her eye.

From then on, her father forbade her to leave the house, except to drive to the hospital for the appointments that followed the assault, which left her with vision loss, the family said.

With change sweeping the region, residents were forced to make fraught choices, among them: Stay or leave, rebel or accommodate.

Mr. Hamoud decided to try to escape. He and his eldest son, 28-year-old Omar, had set aside over $30,000 to buy a new home. The morning of their planned departure, Omar withdrew all but around $1,000 from the bank account.

Not even two hours later, a unit of masked fighters banged down the family’s front door. One of them was holding the bank slip Omar had signed.

“Try this again and we’ll kill every last one of you,” the militants warned.

The Money Machine

On the western banks of the Tigris River, in a pulverized building, I found an abandoned briefcase.

The documents that spilled out revealed that the briefcase belonged to Yasir Issa Hassan, a young professional whose photo identification shows a balding man with a large, aquiline nose. He was the administrator of the Trade Division inside the Islamic State Ministry of Agriculture.

The group’s outsize ambitions and its robust bureaucracy hinged on its ability to generate funds. Bulging with accounting forms, budget projections and receipts, as well as two CD-ROMs containing spreadsheets, the briefcase shed light on the scope of the organization’s revenue machine and offered a blueprint for how it worked.

The financial reports tallied over $19 million in transactions involving agriculture alone.

The documents describe how it made money at every step in the supply chain: Before a single seed of grain, for example, was sown, the group collected rent for the fields it had confiscated. Then, when the crops were ready to be threshed, it collected a harvest tax.

It did not stop there.

The trucks that transported the grain paid highway tolls. The grain was stored in silos, which the militants controlled, and they made money when the grain was sold to mills, which they also controlled. The mills ground the grain into flour, which the group sold to traders.

Then the bags of flour were loaded onto trucks, which traversed the caliphate, paying more tolls. It was sold to supermarkets and shops, which were also taxed. So were the consumers who bought the finished product.

In a single 24-hour period in 2015, one of the spreadsheets in the briefcase shows, the Islamic State collected $1.9 million from the sale of barley and wheat.

Another table shows that the militants earned over $3 million in three months from gross flour sales in just three locations in Mosul.

The organization appeared intent on making money off every last grain — even crops that were damaged.

On just one day, according to another statement, it took in over $14,000 from wheat described as having been scorched in a bombing, and $2,300 from the sale of spoiled lentils and chickpeas. It also took in over $23,000 from grain that had been scraped off the bottom of a tank, according to one spreadsheet.

The Islamic State’s tax arm reached into every facet of life in Mosul. Households in Iraq were taxed 2,000 dinars per month (less than $2) for garbage collection, 10,000 dinars (about $8) for each 10 amperes of electricity, and another 10,000 for municipal water.

Businesses wishing to install a landline paid a 15,000-dinar (about $12) installation fee to the group’s telecommunications office, followed by a 5,000-dinar monthly maintenance fee.

Municipal offices charged for marriage licenses and birth certificates.

But perhaps the most lucrative tax was a religious tax known as zakat, which is considered one of the five pillars of Islam. It is calculated at 2.5 percent of an individual’s assets, and up to 10 percent for agricultural production, according to Ms. Revkin, the Yale researcher. While some of these fees had been charged by the Iraqi and Syrian governments, the mandatory asset tax was a new development.

Ordinarily in Islamic practice, the zakat is a tithe used to help the poor. In the Islamic State’s interpretation, an act of charity became a mandatory payment, and while some of the funds collected were used to help needy families, the Ministry of Zakat and Charities acted more like a version of the Internal Revenue Service.

Most accounts of how the Islamic State became the richest terrorist group in the world focus on its black-market oil sales, which at one point brought in as much as $2 million per week, according to some estimates.

Yet records recovered in Syria by Mr. Tamimi and analyzed by Ms. Revkin show that the ratio of money earned from taxes versus oil stood at 6:1.

Despite hundreds of airstrikes that left the caliphate pocked with craters, the group’s economy continued to function, fed by streams of revenue that could not be bombed under international norms: the civilians under their rule, their commercial activity and the dirt under their feet.

According to estimates from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the land that the militants seized was Iraq’s most fertile, and at the group’s height, the fields that were harvested accounted for 40% of the country’s annual wheat production and more than half of its barley crop.

In Syria, the group at one point controlled as much as 80%  of the country’s cotton crop, according to a study by the Paris-based Center for the Analysis of Terrorism.

It all added up to astonishing sums, as much as $800 million in annual tax revenue, according to the study.

Still, the group’s ambition of running a state meant it also had large bills.

On a single day in the summer of 2016, the owner of the briefcase handed over $150,000 to one of the group’s accountants to pay for the transport of wheat from one town to another, according to one financial report.

In a two-week period the same year, he paid over $16,000 to the Islamic State trade division in the Dijlah district and $14,000 to the one in Kirkuk. He gave an $8,400 cash advance to the group’s Hawija office, $16,800 to the land department and $8,400 to the Islamic State province straddling the Euphrates River.

Tax collection continued until the very end. At least 100 documents

labeled “Daily Gross Revenue” that showed incoming cash were dated November 2016, a month after the start of the coalition’s push to take back the city.

Even as tanks were rolling in and taking surrounding neighborhoods, the trade division continued to make money, pocketing $70,000 in a single sale.

After ISIS

One day in late 2016, a flier decorated with the Iraqi flag floated down onto the Hamoud family’s home.

The agricultural department official and his extended family were hunkered down inside the living room, sitting elbow-to-elbow on an L-shaped couch, he recalls. By then, the militants had banned both cellphones and satellite dishes. They were cut off from the world.

The flier was one of millions dropped over Mosul warning the population to take cover. The military assault was about to begin.

“Could this really be happening?” Mr. Hamoud wondered. Then he used a lighter to incinerate the flier.

The fighters whose plans of building a state had been met with ridicule proved surprisingly good at it.

It took nine months to wrest Mosul from the militants’ grip, a slog that one senior American general said was the most difficult battle he had witnessed in 35 years.

Since then, the militants have lost all but 3% of the territory in Iraq and Syria they once held. (The USA keeping ISIS safe in these remaining zones in order to disturb the Syrian and Iraqi trade union on the eastern front)

But they clung so tightly to their caliphate that block after city block was leveled during the battle to take back cities and towns. Thousands of people have lost their homes. New mass graves are being discovered every month. One of them contains the remains of four of Mr. Hamoud’s cousins.

His daughter Sara now wears thick glasses to correct her vision, which has been blurry since the day she was punched by the hisba. Even through her compromised eyesight, she can see the mountain of trash rising in the empty lot across from her family’s home.

Few have anything good to say about their old rulers — unless prodded to talk about the services they provided.

“We have to be honest,” Mr. Hamoud said. “It was much cleaner under ISIS.”

Though the militants are gone, reminders of the Islamic State and their particular style of governance remain.

In the northern town of Tel Kaif, for example, residents recall how the militants conscripted a committee of electrical engineers to fix an overloaded power grid. They installed new circuit breakers, and for the first time, residents who had been accustomed to at most six hours of electricity a day could now reliably turn on lights.

In early 2017, Iraqi soldiers reclaimed the town, and were welcomed as heroes. But then they disconnected the Islamic State circuit breakers — and the power failures resumed.

“If the government was to go back to the system that ISIS put in place, we would go so far as to kiss their foreheads,” Mr. Younes, the truck driver, said at the time.

Within a few months, the government did just that.

The irony that it had taken a terrorist group to fix one of the town’s longstanding grievances was not lost on its citizens.

“Although they were not recognized as a state or a country,” said one shopkeeper, Ahmed Ramzi Salim, “they acted like one.”

Reporting was contributed by Falih Hassan from Baghdad; Alaa Mohammed from Mosul; Muhammad Nashat Mahmud, Mohammed Sardar Jasim from Erbil; and Abduljabbar Yousif, Runa Sandvik and Paul Moon from New York.

Produced by Craig Allen, David Furst, Eric Nagourney, Meghan Petersen and Andrew Rossback. Document photography by Tony Cenicola. Map by Tim Wallace and Jugal Patel.

Over more than a year, The Times recovered more than 15,000 pages of Islamic State documents. They reveal the inner workings of a complex system of government.

We unearthed thousands of internal documents that help explain how the Islamic State stayed in power so long.

The New York Times worked with outside experts to verify their authenticity, and a team of journalists spent 15 months translating and analyzing them page by page.

Individually, each piece of paper documents a single, routine interaction: A land transfer between neighbors. The sale of a ton of wheat. A fine for improper dress.

But taken together, the documents in the trove reveal the inner workings of a complex system of government. They show that the group, if only for a finite amount of time, realized its dream: to establish its own state, a theocracy they considered a caliphate, run according to their strict interpretation of Islam.

The world knows the Islamic State for its brutality, but the militants did not rule by the sword alone. They wielded power through two complementary tools: brutality and bureaucracy.

ISIS built a state of administrative efficiency that collected taxes and picked up the garbage. It ran a marriage office that oversaw medical examinations to ensure that couples could have children. It issued birth certificates — printed on Islamic State stationery — to babies born under the caliphate’s black flag. It even ran its own D.M.V.

The documents and interviews with dozens of people who lived under their rule show that the group at times offered better services and proved itself more capable than the government it had replaced.

They also suggest that the militants learned from mistakes the United States made in 2003 after it invaded Iraq, including the decision to purge members of Saddam Hussein’s ruling party from their positions and bar them from future employment. That decree succeeded in erasing the Baathist state, but also gutted the country’s civil institutions, creating the power vacuum that groups like ISIS rushed to fill.

The famous late Lebanese composer: Zaki Nassif

 This a photo of the late leader Antoun Saadeh who founded the secular Syrian National Social Party in 1936

ماذا يقول الملحن والشاعر زكي ناصيف عن انتمائه القومي في المقابلة مع الكاتب محمد أبي سمرا؟؟؟ .
يقول : “انتميت إلى العقيدة القوميّة حينما كانت هذه العقيدة قبلة أنظار المتعلّمين من أبناء الريف، وما زلت ثابت الإيمان بها.

فالانتماء الى الحزب السوري القوميّ الاجتماعي ليس انتماءً عابراً، انما هو انتماء يستمرّ العمر كلّه.
فالعضو لا يصير عضواً بنّاءً وفاعلاً في أمّته وبلده ومجتمعه إلا إذا أحسّ بأهميّة الأرض وقيمتها المادّيّة والروحيّة،
وبدون هذا الإحساس يظلّ الفرد متخبطاً ،وضائعاً.
تحية عز لروح شاعرنا الرفيق زكي ناصيف الذي لحَّن نشيد الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي .
سورية لك السلامسورية انت الهدى
سورية لك السلام …سورية نحن الفدى .

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Milad Deeb

زكي ناصيف يا عبق اﻻرض وروحها
يا صوتا اضاء منارة و ﻻ يزال يضيء ولن يضيع شعاع لحنك وكلماتك وامالك كما هي احﻻمنا وسنعمل دائما لحفظ هذا التراث وسوريانا التي عشقناها واهملناها احيانا فوقعنا في ضياع مؤقت ولكننا سننهض كالجبابرة لتعويض واعادة ما فقدناه لنبني مجد سورية من جديد …

Quel investisseur souhaiterait réellement vivre au Liban quand les libanais le quittent?

Et l’article 49 du budget 2018

Note 1: Les citoyens Libanais n’ont aucune idee’ des projets que le gouvernement a demander a Cedre 4 pour assurer les fonds, bien que le PM a confirme’ que tous les parties politiques ont contribue.

Note 2: L’ article 49 devrait permettre aux etrangers qui acquiert un appartement au Liban, un permis de séjour provisoire pour le mari, la femme et les enfants mineurs. 

Par François El Bacha – 20 avril 2018

Le Président de la République a officiellement pris position en défaveur de cet article du projet 49 de loi après approbation par le gouvernement.

Obligé constitutionnellement parlant à signer cette loi – y compris l’objet de ses critiques – le chef de l’état a invité les députés à réexaminer l’article 49.

Le Patriarche Maronite, Bechara el Raï ira même jusqu’à aborder la question lors de son sermon dominical, lors du dimanche 16 avril 2018: « Les libanais sont inquiétés par l’approbation de l’Article 49 qui accorde à tout arabe ou étranger qui acquiert un appartement au Liban, un permis de séjour provisoire pour le mari, la femme et les enfants mineurs au détriment des citoyens libanais«

Le prélat maronite appelle jusqu’à annuler l’article, objet de la polémique.

Face à ces critiques, le Premier Ministre, quant-à-lui favorable à cet article, expliquait devant les conférenciers de CEDRE, la semaine dernière, que ces mesures visent à attirer les investisseurs étrangers à l’image des pratiques déjà mises en place dans différents pays dont la Grèce ou Chypre qui accordent des facilités de séjours à tous ceux qui y investissent.

À priori, le chef du gouvernement a bien raison.

Il convient d’accorder à des personnes qui achètent des biens immobiliers au Liban d’avoir le droit d’y séjourner et d’en jouir aux conditions évidentes qu’elles ne soient pas impliquées dans des affaires illégales.

Cependant, il y a tout de même quelques éléments troublants qu’il convient de signaler: Des investisseurs étrangers souhaitant vivre dans un pays plus connu actuellement par l’intermédiaire de la presse internationale pour ses pollutions aériennes, ses crises aux ordures, ses plages souillées, son manque d’électricité ou d’eau, sa présence de réfugiés qu’ils soient palestiniens ou syriens, pour ne citer que ces problèmes, cela sera chose extrêmement rare à la vue de prix de l’immobiliers excessifs par rapport à cela.

La pollution  serait à l’origine de 6000 cas de cancers par an au Liban, de l’aveu même des autorités publiques.

Quel investisseur souhaiterait mettre la vie de sa famille en danger? Et n’évoquons pas encore la politique, la sécurité ou plutôt l’insécurité même si la situation sur ce volet s’est quelque peu amélioré.

À se demander si derrière l’article 49 de ce projet budgétaire, ne se trouve pas des motifs tout autre et face à cela nous manquons encore de visibilité pour le comprendre.

Le Liban est en effet un pays en faillite moral au final parce que l’état n’assume plus les tâches essentielles qu’il doit assurer à ses concitoyens.

Un étranger en plus n’aurait aucun intérêt à y résider. Un tel investissement serait par conséquent considéré comme étant un mauvais investissement

Le Liban est dans une spirale de crise immobilière, non seulement pour des raisons politiques mais on a tort de l’oublier, aussi pour des raisons économiques et environnementales graves.

Le Liban est un des pays parmi les plus touchés en Méditerranée par ces questions, sur un fond de crise de gouvernance politique et un défaut de transparence des institutions publiques qu’il convient d’arranger.

Avant même de mettre en place des mesures visant à permettre aux étrangers de résider au Liban, peut-être faudrait-il assurer aux Libanais les droits les plus élémentaires  pour y résider eux-aussi, comme le rendre attractif déjà pour les libanais qui peinent à y trouver un emploi en regard de leurs compétences et qui doivent choisir le chemin de l’exil économique notamment dans les pays du Golfe ou en Occident.

Ce drainage de notre matière grise est beaucoup plus importante en terme économique que le fait quelques étrangers puissent acheter des appartements au Liban.

Et pendant ce temps-là, les libanais eux quittent le Liban Preuve en est, beaucoup de ressortissants libanais résidant ou non au Liban, ont entamé une véritable course vers l’acquisition d’une nouvelle nationalité en raison de la dévaluation de la nationalité libanaise avec des difficultés pour l’obtention de visa, aux permis de résidence à l’étranger ou encore à des restrictions d’ordre professionnelles.

93% des libanais ayant fait une telle demande auraient contribué à des fonds gouvernementaux de pays étrangers, des fonds ainsi qui auraient pu contribuer plutôt à notre économie et qui nous ont échappé sur un fond de difficulté économiques, et 7% via l’achat de biens immobiliers alors que notre secteur immobilier est lui en crise profonde et durable.

Il convient également d’assurer un cadre de vie agréable, loin d’une mer polluée où on n’ose même plus y mettre un orteil, par les eaux usées déversées sans contrôle, par les ordures qu’on y jette à Costa Brava ou Bourj Hammoud, loin d’une pollution des eaux et de l’air, en assurant les droits aujourd’hui considérés comme élémentaires à l’eau, à l’électricité 24h sur 24.

Evidemment notre chauvinisme désigne le Liban comme l’un des plus beaux pays au Monde et Beyrouth comme l’une des 7 plus belles villes au Monde où il fait bon vivre en dépit des rapports alarmistes concernant la qualité de vie.

Nous devons aussi affronter la réalité des choses qui est souvent tout autre que celle de la vitrine qu’on expose et pour laquelle nous ne dupons plus personne.

Il convient simplement d’assurer, à la veille des prochaines élections législatives du 6 mai prochain qui désignera le Parlement en charge d’examiner ce projet de loi budgétaire, à ce que la population libanaise jouisse d’un véritable état au service de ses citoyens et non d’un état qui continue à prendre des mesures plus illogiques les unes que les autres, parfois même au détriment des intérêts de son peuple.

Note 3: Si les Libanais n’ont pas le pouvoir d’achat d’apartements et qui quitte leur pays, on peut conclure que l’article 49 essay de remplir le vide par des etrangers riches qui pourront acheter tous ces proprietes vacantes and totally overpriced. Apparently, many Israelis with dual nationalities are attempting to reside in Lebanon. 

Lire la suite:

Not a priority to Lebanon Parliament: What the citizens want and badly need

ضمن إطار عمل المركز اللبناني للدراسات في تقييم أداء مجلس النوّاب اللبناني وأداء أعضائه،  يقوم المركز بنشر سلسلة من المقالات تتناول مجموعة من القضايا التي تعرقل العملية التشريعية. وتستند هذه المقالات إلى حد كبير الى كتاب سيصدر قريباً عن المركز يشرح الأداء البرلماني، وهو من تأليف سامي عطاالله ونايلة جعجع.

سامي عطاالله, المدير التنفيذي للمركز اللبناني للدراسات Share

April 2018

مجلس النوّاب اللبناني: حاجات المواطنين لا تشكّل أولويّة لدى النوّاب 

تتناول هذه المقالة مدى معالجة التشريعات المقترحة والقوانين التي تم تمريرها في المجلس النيابي، أولويات المواطنين خلال السنوات التسع الماضية.

يُتوَقَّع من النوّاب، عند انتخابهم، أن يشرّعوا القوانين الّتي تعالج شواغل الناس وحاجاتهم. وقد دقّق المركز اللبناني للدراسات في مدى اضطلاع البرلمان اللبناني بهذه المهمّة على امتداد السنوات التسع الماضية، ليستنتج أنّ قلّة قليلة من القوانين الّتي أقرّت تتّصل بشكل مباشر بأولويّات الناس. وباختصار، فإنّ نوّابنا يجهلون شواغل المواطنين ولا يبالون بالتركيز في عملهم التشريعي على حاجات المواطن في الجلسات النيابيّة.

ولتحديد حجم الجهود الّتي بذلها أو يبذلها البرلمان اللبناني لتلبية احتياجات المواطنين، طلبنا أوّلاً من عيّنةٍ تمثيليّة من 2,496  مواطناً لبنانياً ترتيب أولويّاتهم، ومن ثمّ قارنّاها باحتياجات الناس الّتي حدّدها النوّاب الـ65– الّذين وافقوا على التحاور معنا – بحسب اعتقادهم.

وقد استنتجنا أنّ أولويّات النوّاب لا تتناسب بشكل جيّد مع أولويّات المواطنين.

من أصل 35 مسألة طُرحَت على المواطنين، ست من أصل سبع  مسائل كانت اجتماعيّة – اقتصاديّة بطبيعتها. على سبيل المثال، تصّدرت الزيادات في أسعار السلع قائمة الشواغل لدى 21% من المواطنين، تلاها البطالة لدى 11% منهم، فتكاليف الصحّة والتعليّم لدى 8%، وإمدادات الكهرباء والمياه لدى 7%، ثمّ الإرهاب لدى 6%، ومعالجة النفايات الصلبة لدى 6%، وزيادة الفقر لدى 5%.

غير أنّ للنوّاب مجموعة مختلفة من الأولويّات، حيث أن ثلاثة فقط من أصل سبعة شواغل مذكورة تطابقت مع أولويّات المواطنين: فـ13% من النوّاب على سبيل المثال ذكروا أنّ البطالة تشكل شاغل الناس الأوّل، وأعطى 6% المركز الخامس للزيادات في الأسعار، كما صنّف 5% تكاليف الصحّة والتعليم في المرتبة السابعة في قائمة الشواغل. ولكن، عند النظر إلى حدّة المسائل عوضًا عن ترتيب الأولويّات، تزداد الفجوة اتّساعًا. ففي حين شدّد 58% من المواطنين على التحدّيات الاجتماعيّة-الاقتصاديّة من قبيل البطالة، وارتفاع الأسعار، والصحّة، والتعليم، والكهرباء، والمياه، كأولويات،

فإنّ 30% فقط من النوّاب شاركوهم هذه الهموم.

إن عدم تطابق قائمة شواغل النوّاب مع شواغل المواطنين يشير الى أنّ النواب لا يعالجون فعليًّا أولويّات الناس، وإن عن غير قصد. ولتحليل ذلك، استعرض المركز اللبناني للدراسات القوانين الـ352 الّتي  أقرّت بين حزيران 2009 ونيسان 2017، لينظر في كيفيّة معالجة شواغل الناس. لسوء الحظّ، لم ترقَ القوانين الّتي أقرّها البرلمان خلال السنوات الثمانية الماضية إلى مستوى التصدّي لأولويّات الناس.

ليست البطالة وارتفاع الأسعار والفقر بقضايا يمكن معالجتها في قانون محدّد أو سلسلة من التشريعات. وعليه، فقد حصرنا عملنا بالأولويات المتبقّية الّتي تُعتَبَر قطاعيّةً بطبيعتها: أي الصحّة، والتعليم، والكهرباء. فواحد وثلاثون قانونًا فقط من أصل الـ352 الّتي تمّ اختيارها عالجت هذه الشواغل، أي 9% من إجمالي القوانين التي تم إقرارها. وتتضمّن هذه القوانين القروض الموافق عليها لإنشاء وتنفيذ مشاريع  في مجال التطوير التربوي، ولتنظيم الأقساط المدرسيّة للمدارس الخاصّة، ولمشاريع المياه في كافّة أنحاء البلاد، إضافةً إلى قانون منع التدخين. ولكن، خمسة فقط من أصل القوانين الـ31 اقترحها النوّاب، والقوانين الستّة والعشرون المتبّقية، فقد تم وضعها إما من قبل الوزارات (ومجموعها خمسة) أو أدرجت ضمن اتّفاقيّات قروض (واحدة وعشرين) مع منظّمات من قبيل الصندوق الكويتي للتنمية الاقتصاديّة، والبنك الإسلامي للتنمية، وبنك الاستثمار الأوروبي، والصندوق العربي للإنماء الاقتصادي والاجتماعي، والبنك الدولي، وغيرها.

ويمكن أن يُعزى السبب في تقاعس البرلمان إلى أنّ الفرقاء السياسيّين مختلفون بشأن كيفيّة التصدّي للتحديات الّتي تواجه المواطنين. وبعبارة أخرى، فهم قد يتناقشون في هذه القضايا من دون أن يتّفقوا على أفضل السبل للمضيّ قدمًا. ولهذه الغاية، قمنا بقياس تواتر ذكر أولويّات الناس من قبل النوّاب. واكتشفنا للأسف أنّ شواغل الناس ليست في بال البرلمانيّين الّذين نادرًا ما يناقشون هذه القضايا. فخلال الجلسات السبع والثلاثين الّتي عُقِدَت خلال هذه الفترة على سبيل المثال، ذُكِر ارتفاع الأسعار تسعين مرّة، والبطالة ستّين مرّة، وإدارة النفايات ثماني وثمانين مرّة، والفقر واحد وثمانين مرّة. وبعبارة أخرى، فقد أتى مجموع النوّاب الّذين حضروا جميع الجلسات على ذكر كلّ من هذه القضايا من مرّة إلى ثلاث مرّات. وعند قياس عدد المرّات الّتي ذُكرت فيها هذه القضايا في البرلمان مقارنةً بالقضايا الأخرى، يتبيّن أن تواترها شكّل 7% مقارنةً بالشواغل الأخرى مثل الحرب مع إسرائيل، والإصلاح القضائي، والجرائم، والقضايا الأمنيّة، والطائفيّة، بين جملة أمور أخرى. وبمعنى آخر، فإنّ الشواغل الأساسيّة للمواطنين نادرًا ما نوقشت.

وما يزيد الطين بلّة هو أنّ النوّاب يطرحون على ما يبدو القضايا الاجتماعيّة الاقتصاديّة خلال جلسات منح الثقة الّتي تُبَثُّ مباشرةً عبر شاشات التلفزة، في حين أنّهم يتجاهلونها بشكل عام خلال الجلسات التشريعيّة، أي في أكثر المناسبات أهميّةً بالنسبة إلى هذه القضايا. لنأخذ مثل البطالة، الّتي صادف نصف عدد المرّات الّتي ذُكرت فيها خلال جلسات منح الثقة. وحتّى عندما تُذكر البطالة خلال الجلسات التشريعيّة، يُشار إليها كشاغل وطني يتطلب حلولا من دون أن تُقترح بالضرورة أي استراتيجيّات عمليّة للتصدّي لها.

لكنّ جذورمشكلة عجز النوّاب عن التعامل مع التحديات التي تواجهها البلاد تضرب في العمق: فهم يجهلون المعلومات الأساسيّة بشأن الاقتصاد ورفاه الناس. فلنأخذ البطالة على سبيل المثال. 37% فقط من النوّاب الّذين قابلناهم يعرفون المعدّل (أي إجابة بين 15% و25% اعتُبِرت صحيحة). ولا يقلّ عن ذلك سوءًا أن 40% من النوّاب يعتقدون أنّ معدّل البطالة يفوق الـ25%، وهذا لو صحّ لكان مقلقًا للغاية، سيّما على ضوء ندرة الجهود الّتي يبذلها النوّاب لمعالجة البطالة الفعليّة. إلى ذلك، فمن أصل النوّاب السّتة والعشرين الّذين اعتقدوا أنّ معدّل البطالة يفوق هذه النسبة، ستّة فقط كلّفوا أنفسهم بتحديدها كأحد الأولويات الأساسيّة في البلد.

أمّا بالنسبة إلى الفقر، الّذي يُشكّل أحد أهمّ الأولويّات لدى المواطنين، فـ26% فقط من النوّاب  أعطوا الإجابة الصحيحة لنسبة الفقر في البلد، الّتي حدّدناها بين 25% إلى 35%. إلى ذلك، فإنّ 43% من النوّاب يعتقدون أنّ معدّل الفقر أدنى من 25%، ما يعني فعليًّا أنّهم لا يدركون أنّ الفقر يشكّل أحد الشواغل. ويضاف إلى ذلك عدم الاتّساق المقلق في مواقف النوّاب؛ ففي حين اعتقد كثيرون منهم أنّ البطالة مرتفعة جدًّا، فإنّ قلّة منهم اعتبرت أنّ ذلك يؤدّي إلى الفقر.

لا زال ردم الفجوة بين المواطنين وممثليهم المنتخبين بعيد المنال. وفي حين أنّ معظم اللبنانيّين على بيّنة من مدى قلّة كفاءة  المجلس، فإنّ هذه الأرقام تؤكّد على لا مبالاة النوّاب باحتياجات المواطنين ونأيهم عنها. ومع اقتراب موعد الانتخابات، على الناخبين اتخاذ قرارات أفضل يودعونها صناديق الاقتراع لإيصال المرشّحين الذين يسعون الى معالجة قضاياهم في المجلس .

كجزء من هذا المشروع ،أنشأ المركز اللبناني للدراسات بوابة الكترونية توفر معلومات عن البرلمان والنواب الممثلين فيه ، بما في ذلك معلومات عن مواقفهم السياسية وأداءهم كمشرّعين ( ). كما يمكن الإطلاع على أداء البرلمان وأعضائه من خلال الرسوم البيانية المعدة لهذا الغرض :

Tidbits and notes posted on FB and Twitter. Part 189

Note: I take notes of books I read and comment on events and edit sentences that fit my style. I pa attention to researched documentaries and serious links I receive. The page is long and growing like crazy, and the sections I post contains a month-old events that are worth refreshing your memory.

Si la realite’ te semble toujours feerique, j’achete ton imagination

Si la realite’ ne doit etre qu’un tremplin, alors il faut te decider un tremplin a quoi faire?

More than a thousand kinds of pesticides and chemicals sprayed in the environment are carcinogen, mutative and affect the reproductive system (CMR). Many schools and hospitals are located in the vicinity of these polluted environment. And Bayer is King in manufacturing all kinds of these chemicals.

Bayer was a major contributor to Nazi Germany and abused of cheap labor from nearby camps. Within a year, most workers died of famine and malnutrition.

If a few of these chemicals and pesticides could strengthen our immune system against pathogens and traditional illnesses then we could have a debate. Otherwise, why the pharmaceutical companies are still producing these killing agents?

A satisfying bowel movement is the greatest achievement among my daily tasks.

When I am ecstatic I cannot think; when I am morose I cannot think. I have to induce that I think when I am in a lukewarm temperament.

If critics of books are honest, they should comprehend a book was mostly “excreted” during lukewarm mood periods. Thus, psycho-analyzing the author is not valid in these cases.

Tribes were constituted of population over 150 members; consequently, tribes were split naturally to smaller units or clans for adequate communication among the members and remembering names and the family history of each member.

One of the most commonly adopted words in business to describe a collection of people with same shared passions and interests, intellectually or professionally is “tribe” .

But why select “tribe” among all social terminologies for gathering in organized units?

We know that there are syndicates, associations, organizations (profit and for non-profit), collectivism, cooperative, community, gang, cartel, commission, political parties, “circle of friends”, sects, cult, castes, clans, classes of people (privileged, poor, elite…), club, strata, close-knit group, regiment, brigade, division, army, squadron, brotherhood, sisterhood…

There is this army commander of the 14th century (Timor-lane) who kept his army on the march longer (for over 25 years) and crossed more lands than Alexander, Genghis Khan, or Attila and conquered more Empires and was never defeated and slept in his tent, outside city-limits, even in his Capital Samarkand (in current Uzbekistan).

Israel badda tbayyed wejha la Amrica: sawwaded wejha, wa Trump, wa Tellerson, wa Saterfield, wa company. Saudi Kingdom wali al 3ahd matloub yomthol bi ma7kamet bi New York, shakhsiyyan. Hal fawdat badha dabt

Lyrical song: Sick mother, singer Françoise Hardy, wishing to appease her son

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing

Françoise Hardy with her farewell song “so many pretty things” to her son Thomas.
Behind the lyrics of the song, hides a sick mother who wishes to appease her son, so well written, so much.

” even if i have to let go of your hand
Without being able to tell you “see you tomorrow”
Nothing will ever break our links
Even if i have to go further
Cutting Bridges, changing trains
Love is stronger than grief
Love that makes our hearts beat
Will sublimate this pain

Turning lead into gold
You have so many beautiful things to live
You’ll see at the end of the tunnel.

Draw a rainbow
And lilas will bloom
You have so many beautiful things in front of you

Even if i see another shore
Whatever you do, whatever happens to you
I’ll be with you like once before

Even if you go adrift
The State of grace, the strong forces
Come back faster than you think
In the space that binds the sky and the earth
Is hiding the greatest mystery

Like the mist hiding the dawn
There are so many beautiful things you don’t know
The faith that brings down mountains

The White Spring in your soul
Think about it when you fall asleep
Love is stronger than death

In the time that binds heaven and earth
Hides the most beautiful mysteries

Think about it when you fall asleep.
Love is stronger than death.”

This is just for you.

 · See original · 

1 student + 1 petition = staggering

It’s staggering what one person can accomplish these days with the help of the internet.

Take Christine, a UK student at Leeds University. She was shocked when she heard that Syrian students at her school might be expelled and even deported back to the nightmare in Syria because they couldn’t pay their school fees, some because their families had been killed or impoverished.

Christine stepped in and actually saved hundreds of students at dozens of universities from this fate! (And what is the full name of Christine?)

Christine delivering petition

She did it by getting together with some friends and starting a petition on the Avaaz community petitions website. 

The petition was good, sensible, and emotionally compelling. She only sent it to a few friends, but they sent it to more, and it soon blew up on twitter, with over 45,000 people signing!

The Avaaz team helped Christine get the story on TV and in major newspapers, and government ministers pushed schools to waive fees and launched a plan to make sure no student ever faces expulsion because of war back home again.

This stuff is powerful, it’s the next generation of Avaaz, where any one of us can start campaigns in our communities, nations and even globally.

The potential of this to change the world is why our community is now offering up to $10,000 in support of the best petitions started by our members to make the biggest impact possible.

Imagine not only getting thousands of people behind a cause, but also having $10,000 to fund the best way to win – anything from dozens of radio ads to funding a rally to building a giant billboard or float. The new simplified petition site means it takes just a minute to give it a shot, on literally anything you know needs to change:
(Or click here to get started in Arabic)

The students’ victory was a ray of hope for Syrians at a time when their fate is so uncertain — caught between a brutal dictator and the whims of heads of state playing politics. It’s also a powerful reminder that when a small group of committed community campaigners are supported by the amazing Avaaz community there’s no limit to what we can achieve together.

Getting started is simple, and only takes a few minutes.

Then once your petition is up and running, you can watch it spread from friends and family, and into the hands of passionate supporters around the world. The Avaaz community will vote to choose the ten best petition ideas with the potential to dramatically change our communities, cities or countries, and the campaigns get up to $10,000 in financial support to supercharge their call.

Many of our recent victories came from campaigns started by Avaaz members, from giving Syrian students the right to continue their studies abroad, to helping stop a company from abusing migrant workers in Bahrain. All these just took a few minutes to get started — together, the Avaaz community can multiply our impact a thousand times over.

With hope and excitement for all we can achieve together,

Pascal, Emily, Oli, David, Emma, Ricken and the whole Avaaz team

More Information

Here’s the original Avaaz petition calling on UK universities to stop expelling Syrian students:

Minister tells universities to defer fees for Syrian students (The Guardian)

Syrian students face fees crisis (BBC)

Syrian students ‘should study at UK universities for free’ (Telegraph)…

Syrian Students In UK Face ‘Deportation, Torture, Death’ As Cannot Pay Tuition Fees (Huffington Post)…

And life resumed its course…
Life had resumed its course, and life keeps going on.
Life extends reasons to cry and reasons to laugh.
Life is a person to take as partner.
Join life’s valse, and it will make you drink the cup, and you think you are about to die…
And life grabs you by the hair and softly lay you a bit further.
Occasionally, life steps on your toes and often times it carries you elegantly in the valse.
You have got to enter life as you join the dance
Do not stop the movement by crying out loud, accusing the others,
By drinking and taking little drug tablets to amortize the choc.
Dance, Valse, cross over the difficulties that life dispatches toward you
To test your metal and to render you stronger, more determined…
 Katherine Pancol in “The yellow eyes of crocodiles
Note: You just need to acquire Job’s patience, until old age forces you to flow with whatever energy you still have?
La vie avait continué après, la vie continue toujours. Elle te donne des raisons de pleurer et des raisons de rire. C'est une personne, la vie, une personne qu'il faut prendre comme partenaire. Entrer dans sa valse, dans ses tourbillons, parfois elle te fait boire la tasse et tu crois que tu vas mourir et puis elle t'attrape par les cheveux et te dépose plus loin. Parfois elle t'écrase les pieds, parfois elle te fait valser. Il faut entrer dans la vie comme on entre dans une danse. Ne pas arrêter le mouvement en pleurant sur soi, en accusant les autres, en buvant, en prenant des petites pilules pour amortir le choc. Valser, valser, valser. Franchir les épreuves qu'elle t'envoie pour te rendre plus forte, plus déterminée.</p><br /> <p>Les yeux jaunes des crocodiles/ Katherine Pancol
La vie avait continué après, la vie continue toujours. Elle te donne des raisons de pleurer et des raisons de rire. C’est une personne, la vie, une personne qu’…il faut prendre comme partenaire. Entrer dans sa valse, dans ses tourbillons, parfois elle te fait boire la tasse et tu crois que tu vas mourir et puis elle t’attrape par les cheveux et te dépose plus loin. Parfois elle t’écrase les pieds, parfois elle te fait valser. Il faut entrer dans la vie comme on entre dans une danse. Ne pas arrêter le mouvement en pleurant sur soi, en accusant les autres, en buvant, en prenant des petites pilules pour amortir le choc. Valser, valser, valser. Franchir les épreuves qu’elle t’envoie pour te rendre plus forte, plus déterminée.
Les yeux jaunes des crocodiles/ Katherine Pancol

Bullying behavior and practices sticking at older age? Case of local “Silent Majority” bowing down to ignominy 

This is a local story that took place in Cornet Chehwan (Lebanon) within a group of Petanque players (Boules), supposedly a club belonging to the municipality.

A regular player, a retired Industrial Engineer PhD who also taught in universities and who pays his property taxes in that municipality, and a better players than many, was denied to participate in the games, for no apparent reasons, after sharing games and laughter for 9 months.

In the first week of April, this engineer walked for 20 minutes at 5 pm to the tent where players gather to play. He has sold his car long time ago and decided to walk instead of driving.

There was exactly 12 players. He registered his name on the board according to regulation to be next, when one group is out for losing.

As the game was over, he stepped in to play. He exercised alone, waiting for the alternative group to form. After 10 minutes, he sensed that there is a sort of veto to play with him. Shadiya kept repeating “Revanche” (meaning we want to play again with the winning team). An old fat man growled:” Yalla, badna nel3ab” (we want to resume playing with the same team).

Disgusted, the engineer returned the cochonet to a lady player and decided to leave.

Cesa, the wife of the municipality chief, was Not there during this event. She suddenly barged in the tent, plausibly following a phone call from her sidekick. She immediately advanced toward the engineer, poison dripping from her face, hit him in the chest with a finger and shouted: “Out of the tent, right now”

Taken aback by this savage hatred, the player replied: “enteh dhareh barra , wleh” (Get out yourself)

A “lawyer” player approached the engineer and said: “Let’s step outside to talk”. The engineer responded: “Let’s talk inside. Is this a municipality club or a private club”? The lawyer replied: “It doesn’t matter. If the players refuse to play with you, you are out of luck”

Who are the players who don’t want to play with the engineer? They all played with him for over 9 months and he was better than most in the game and he was friendly with most and got to know their private lives and their wives.

Or was it the half dozen obeying to Cesa’s grudge (for whatever is this mystery grudge that no one dared to ask her). Did the entire club members got the signals to boycott the engineer?

As far as the engineer knew, the club never sent him any letter or any verbal warning that he is Not welcomed.

Actually, the engineer knows of half a dozens players who suffered bullying practices  (from Cesa and her sidekick and shouldered by 3 players, the yes, yes sort of men) to force them out of the playing group. They never returned, but they didn’t make waves.

The story has a beginning.

At the start of the winter season, the engineer walked as usual to the tent. Shadia insisted on him to stay past 8:30 pm for a last game, so that she gives him a ride home.

The two groups of players were constituted of Cesa, Shadia, and the “lawyer” Hamid. The opposing team was of Walid, Fara7 and the engineer. The engineer, who dislikes being cornered as the designated starter, while the others reserves for themselves the task of playing last, played well and placed good boules near the cochonet. His team members kept hitting his boules (tireur) instead of the adverse boules, and this happened 3 times. Maybe they were tired, but they are Not famous to hit much the correct ball.

It was evident that they were tired and Not fit to hit well.  Coolly and decisively, the engineer told the two players: “Ok, now you discuss between you two and decide who will place his boules first.”

Walid acknowledge that it is best, and did play first, but Fra7 got frustrated and upset and started playing haphazardly to express his annoyance, and ruined the game.

Cesa told the engineer: “Kahrabt al jaww” (You electrified the air). Meaning that the engineer is to blame for this bad game. And Not the person who purposely ruined the game

The next day, the engineer walked to the tent and felt that there is a sort of veto on him to play. Cesa told him: “The next time betkahreb al jaww, you are out. You may only be allowed to watch”. The engineer turned his back on her and didn’t come back for the duration of the winter season, about 3 months.

The mother of this engineer, who is 90 of age and gets sicker during the cold season, needed his close attention and to be near her. It didn’t make sense for the engineer to walk in the cold and back in the cold in order to face players Not willing to share with him the games.

As the weather warmed a little, the engineer started to walk and occasionally entered the tent. He didn’t play and didn’t feel the heart to play with people who lack dignity and crawl to a person, just to be “allowed” to play in tranquility and in total boredom among themselves.

One day, the engineer decided to play a single game, so that he can walk back while there is light to be with his mother. Again, the veto resumed. Hovig told me: We reformed the teams and you are Not in”. I was the only new comers, and the reformed teams were the exactly the same.  The engineer didn’t insist and walked out, feeling sorry for these crawling and groveling men.

The next time, the engineer registered him name on the board. And you know the entire story.

Does anyone of the club members dared to know why Cesa and her sidekick kept this grudge on the engineer? Do those who vetoed him out to play know the deep reasons?,

Can any one of the readers guess what is the problem?

Cesa and Shadia are Not in the official roster of members officially designated to the syndicate od Lebanon Petanque. Who gave Cesa this “power” to rule, decide and kick out players?

What’s wrong with this club? Do the officials of this club care? Anyone cares?

Does any player feels secure to play the next time around, and not be kicked out savagely, at the whim of Cesa?




April 2018

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