Adonis Diaries

Archive for the ‘cities/geography’ Category

Cases of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya…

Are secular and national concepts anathema to Arab/Islamic spirit?

The successive “freer election” processes in the Arab/Islamic States that overturned dictator regimes are bringing in to power Islamic political parties, with almost landslides. 

In Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt, where parliamentary elections have proceeded, the Islamic “Muslim Brotherhood” parties called “Party of Justice”, in emulation of the Turkish Islamic party in power, have captured no less than 40% of the votes. 

In Egypt, even the ultra-conservative Islam (the Wahhabi Saudi Arabia brand of extreme obscurantism) has come second to the “Muslim Brotherhood” party with about 25% of the votes…

The election laws and procedures are very complicated, favoring the political parties with heavy financial funding from foreign States such as Saudi Monarchy/ Arab Gulf Emirate States/USA..

.The Islamic parties are the best organized and have invested in rural areas for decades: Such as local schools, health services (dispensaries, hospitals…), social services for the poorer communities..

.Basically, filling the vacuum that regimes failed to cover and care for…

Religions in all States have the basic power of rallying the poorer classes and downtrodden around mythical concept that play on the hope of better life, if Not on earth, at least in heaven.

Islam is one of the religion that through daily praying practices assemble millions in specific location. These assemblies are perfect for propagating coded orders to elect specific candidates

Excuses of this Zionist  Roger Cohen  for Israel’s successive preemptive wars on Gaza

Glenn Greenwald posted this news:

New York Times columnist Roger Cohen  is explaining why he has always been and still is “a Zionist”.

He wrote the crucial paragraph that gives the vital context for the Israeli attack on Gaza.

Any discussion that excludes these facts is inherently unreliable:

New York Times columnist Roger Cohen - explaining why he has always been and still is "a Zionist" - writes the crucial paragraph that gives the vital context for the Israeli attack on Gaza. Any discussion that excludes these facts is inherently unreliable:
Note: And that generated a counter reaction of a Messianic Islamic fundamentalist movements in Daesh, Nusra, Qaeda… claiming the same land area as Israel, a land we call it “Greater Syria” or the Levant and Iraq.

A fourth round of genocide committed on Gaza civilians

Mnd you this article was Posted on August 17, 2014 (and written on July 25, 2014)

Israel/Gaza conflict: Questions and Answers

Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike in Al Shejaeiya neighbourhood during a military operation in eastern Gaza City, 22 July 2014.

Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike in Al Shejaiya (Shuja3iya) neighbourhood in eastern Gaza City during a military operation in eastern Gaza City, 22 July 2014. © EPA1.

What does Amnesty International think of the resolution passed by the UN Human Rights Council on 23 July? What should happen next?

Amnesty International welcomes resolution S-21/1 to establish a commission of inquiry and notes that the wording allows the commission to investigate violations of international law by all parties to the current conflict.

The commission of inquiry represents an important opportunity to break the cycle of persistent impunity for crimes under international law in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

In order to be effective the commission of inquiry must be thorough, independent and impartial, and look into violations by any party to the conflict.

It must be adequately resourced and have unrestricted access to all relevant areas.

Amnesty International urges all states – including all EU member states, who abstained on the resolution – to cooperate with the commission as required.

2. What are the key obligations of the parties to the conflict during the hostilities under international humanitarian law?

During an armed conflict, all parties – whether state or non-state armed forces – must respect international humanitarian law, which aims to protect civilians by regulating the conduct of all sides in hostilities.

States also continue to have an obligation to respect international human rights law during a conflict.

Under international humanitarian law, all sides in an armed conflict must distinguish between military targets and civilians and civilian structures, and direct attacks only at the former.

Deliberate attacks on civilians or civilian objects – such as homes, medical facilities, schools, governmental buildings – that are not being used for military purposes are prohibited and are war crimes.

Indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks (where the likely number of civilian casualties or damage to civilian property outweighs the anticipated military advantage to be gained) are also prohibited.

(Netanyahu told Biden a week ago that he is Not concerned about Palestinian civilians. Hundreds of Palestinians died and were injured for this indiscriminate attacks of Israel planes)

All sides must take necessary precautions in attack to minimize harm to civilians and civilian objects. This includes giving civilians effective warnings ahead of attacks, and cancelling or suspending an attack if it becomes apparent that the target is civilian or that the attack would be disproportionate.

They also must take all feasible precautions to protect civilians under their control from the effects of attacks.

For example, warring parties should avoid endangering civilians by storing ammunition in, and launching attacks from, populated civilian areas.

3. What are the different patterns of violations by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip that Amnesty International has identified since Israel launched Operation “Protective Edge” on 8 July 2014? 

Israeli forces have carried out attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians, using precision weaponry such as drone-fired missiles, as well as munitions such as artillery, which cannot be precisely targeted, on very densely populated residential areas, such as Shuja’iyyeh.

They have also directly attacked thousands of homes. Israel appears to consider the homes of people associated with Hamas to be legitimate military targets, a stance that does not conform to international humanitarian law.

Several medical facilities and non-military governmental buildings across the Gaza Strip have also been destroyed or damaged.

(In this current round, Israel bombed all the roads that lead to the 2 hospitals in Gaza City and north of Gaza. European States funds all the hospitals in Gaza. 35,000 took refuge in the 43 UNRWA schools)

The UN has reported that one of its schools sheltering displaced people in the al-Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza was shelled by Israeli forces on at least two occasions.

Another such school sheltering displaced families in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza was struck on 24 July, killing at least 15 civilians and injuring many others, and the UN has called for an immediate investigation.

Although the Israeli authorities claim to be warning civilians in Gaza, a consistent pattern has emerged that their actions do not constitute an “effective warning” under international humanitarian law.

Israeli attacks have also caused mass displacement of Palestinian civilians within the Gaza Strip.

4. What is Amnesty International’s position on the firing of indiscriminate rockets and mortars from the Gaza Strip by Palestinian armed groups?

Do other actions of Palestinian armed groups in Gaza since 8 July 2014 violate international humanitarian law?

According to the Israeli army, Hamas’ military wing and other Palestinian armed groups fired over 1,700 rockets into Israel from 8 to 18 July, and scores of rockets continue to be fired every day.

(Mind you that in 2014 the rockets were puny and Not precise. Still, Israel attacked by land and totally destroyed Gaza infrastructures)

(Three civilians in Israel have been killed, a few civilian properties in Israel have been damaged, compared to over 1,500 Palestinians killed and 3 fold injured).

International humanitarian law prohibits the use of weapons that are by nature indiscriminate. The rockets fired from Gaza into Israel cannot be aimed exactly at their objective and their use violates international humanitarian law.

The firing of indiscriminate rockets and mortars also endangers Palestinian civilians inside the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank ?.

Statements by some leaders of Palestinian armed groups also indicate that they have no qualms about launching attacks against civilians and that they in fact carry out such attacks intending to kill and injure Israeli civilians.

Attacks that directly target civilians and indiscriminate attacks that kill or injure civilians constitute war crimes.

5. When the Israeli military has warned residents of a specific area in the Gaza Strip to evacuate the area, does that fulfil its obligations to protect civilians under international humanitarian law?

Effective advance warning to civilians is only one of the prescribed precautions in attack aimed at minimizing harm to civilians.

When Israeli forces have given warning in many cases key elements of effective warning have been missing, including timeliness, informing civilians where it is safe to flee, and providing safe passage and sufficient time to flee before an attack.

There also have been reports of lethal strikes launched too soon after a warning to spare civilians.

In any event, issuing a warning does not absolve an attacking force of its obligations to spare civilians, including by taking all other necessary precautions to minimize civilian casualties and damage to civilian structures.

Israel’s continuing military blockade on the Gaza Strip and the closure of the Rafah crossing by the Egyptian authorities since the hostilities began mean that civilians in Gaza cannot flee to neighbouring countries.

6. The Israeli authorities claim that Hamas and Palestinian armed groups use Palestinian civilians in Gaza as “human shields”. Does Amnesty International have any evidence that this has occurred during the current hostilities? 

Amnesty International is monitoring and investigating such reports, but does not have evidence at this point that Palestinian civilians have been intentionally used by Hamas or Palestinian armed groups during the current hostilities to “shield” specific locations or military personnel or equipment from Israeli attacks.

In previous conflicts Amnesty International has documented that Palestinian armed groups have stored munitions in and fired indiscriminate rockets from residential areas in the Gaza Strip in violation of international humanitarian law. Reports have also emerged during the current conflict of Hamas urging residents to ignore Israeli warnings to evacuate.

However, these calls may have been motivated by a desire to minimize panic and displacement, in any case, such statements are not the same as directing specific civilians to remain in their homes as “human shields” for fighters, munitions, or military equipment.

Under international humanitarian law even if “human shields” are being used Israel’s obligations to protect these civilians would still apply. (Human shields is what Israel practice at a wide scale)

7. There are reports that Israeli forces have used flechettes in the current military operation in the Gaza Strip. What is Amnesty International’s position on the use of flechettes? Has the Israeli military used flechettes in Gaza before? 

Flechettes are 3.5cm-long steel darts, sharply pointed at the front, with four fins at the rear. Between 5,000 and 8,000 of these darts are packed into shells which are generally fired from tanks. The shells explode in the air and scatter the flechettes in a conical pattern over an area about 300m by 100m.

Flechettes are designed to be used against massed infantry attacks or squads of troops in the open, and obviously pose a very high risk to civilians when fired in densely populated residential areas.

Local human rights groups have reported cases in which civilians in Gaza have been killed and injured by flechette shells. Amnesty International has not yet been able to verify particular cases during the current hostilities, but has previously documented Israeli forces’ use of flechette rounds, for example during Operation “Cast Lead”, resulting in the killing of civilians, including children.

Flechettes are not specifically prohibited by international humanitarian law per se, however, they should never be used in densely populated areas.

8. What is Amnesty International calling on the international community to do at this point?

All states (particularly key suppliers, for example USA for Israel) must suspend all transfers of weapons, munitions and other military equipment and technology to all sides until there is no longer a substantial risk that such items will be used for serious violations of international humanitarian law or serious human rights abuses.

The suspension should include all indirect exports via other countries, the transfer of military components and technologies and any brokering, financial or logistical activities that would facilitate such transfers.

States should use the 2009 report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict and the upcoming report of the commission of inquiry mandated this week by the Human Rights Council as a basis to exercise universal jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute crimes under international law before their national courts.

Lebanon and Palestine: Same and Different(Part 1)

Posted on April 29, 2009

Brief ancient history:

Lebanon is a recognized State by the UN in 1943. The Lebanese State got its fictitious “independence” from France who withdrew its troops in 1946 (2 years before the State of Israel was recognized by the UN).

Palestine was partitioned in 1947 between Palestinians and the minority Jews (barely 40% but allocated 55% of the land of Palestine).

Currently, all of Palestine is under occupation by this Zionist State called Israel.

Lebanon and Palestine were throughout antiquity under the domination of neighboring Empires such as in Egypt, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq (Mesopotamia). 

The people in the two tiny stretches of coastal lands on the Eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea were mainly mariners, traders, middlemen among Empires, and skilled artisans. (They were united under the Seleucid dynasty, an officer of Alexander army)

Under the nominal or explicit domination of Empires, Lebanon and Palestine had autonomous administration of their society as City-States that were highly democratic within the city limits as Athens emulated in the 7th century BC. 

The famous City-States from north to south are Ugarite, Tripoli, Jubail (Byblos), Saida, Sour (Tyr), Akka (Acre and Haifa), and Askelan. 

The City-State of Jubail (inventors of the alphabet) built Saida; Saida built Sour and dominated the sea routes; and Sour built Akka and relayed Saida in sea domination and expanding the trading posts to Spain. 

These City-States were the masters of the sea and traded with all Empires, and build trading towns: they have resisted many overwhelming sieges, sometimes for years, and occasionally managed Not to be entered and devastated.

Every empire that conquered Syria resumed its drive by dominating Lebanon and Palestine. 

In general, when more than one empire co-existed at the same period and when the empire in Egypt was powerful enough then it governed the southern half of Palestine while the other empire governed the upper half, including Lebanon. 

The strip of Gaza to Yafa was mostly under Egyptian cultural influence.

The coastal strip from north actual Syria to the Sinai was called Canaan. Then, the upper stretch to Akka was called Phoenicia or even Saida (in reference for the main City-State).

The Sea People, called Philistines and probably coming from the Adriatic Sea, destroyed Greece fleet, devastated many coastal cities, and conquered Egypt before they were driven out and settle in Gaza and the southern part of Canaan, called Palestine ever since.

Moses (this mythical story) arrived with an amalgam of nomadic tribes and his successors attempted to occupy part of south Palestine.  These tribes worshiped Yahweh/Yahwa, thus, yahoud and Jews for the Latin people

These tribes under Moses reverted to worshiping the all encompassing God of the Land called El., except a few tribes such as Judea and Benjamin.  During the Roman Empire, and most of the empires that dominated Syria, the district of Tyr administered the upper half of Palestine, including Galilee.

Modern History:

 In the beginning of the 20th century, the military in Turkey deposed the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and started policies focused on Turk Nationhood.  Many in Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine immigrated to Egypt. 

During the First World War famine fell on Lebanon along with a devastating wave of locust; they immigrated to the USA, Brazil, Latin America, and many were dropped in Africa by unethical ship captains who claimed that they reached the Americas.

After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War, Britain had mandate over Palestine and Iraq; France had mandate over Lebanon and Syria.

Consequently, the bilingual Palestinians spoke English, and their counterpart in Lebanon spoke French.

In 1930, Haifa grabbed the center of trades and many Lebanese flocked to Haifa and Palestine.  The reverse wave occurred when the State of Israel was recognized by a majority of one vote at the UN in 1948.  Lebanon received Palestinian refugees who were installed in camps on the ground that their stay is temporary! and will return under the UN resolution 194

In one chapter of “World Adrift” Amine Maaluf said “The western powers are now paying the price for failing to apply their values in the colonies” 

The European colonial powers of Britain, France, Germany, and the  Netherlands had no intentions of spreading their moral values to those they considered Not worthy of their pearls and gems.

The indigents were to be enslaved, exploited, and humiliated;

The indigents who adopted the western values of equality, liberty, and democracy were persecuted and harassed and imprisoned;

The colonial administrators negotiated with the conservative conformists who were ready to strike deals and cohabit with lesser human rights. 

Dictators in Europe maybe abhorred after their defeat, but the colonial powers readily accept dictators in underdeveloped States to facilitate the embezzling businesses.

Human values had different quality and flavors according to the whims and interest of the exploiting colonial powers. 

Britain used astute diplomatic policies to subjugate their colonies more frequently than France did; but France of the French Revolution had No patience negotiating and communicating with their colonial people and never skipped an occasion to stat its true purpose for domination.and exhibiting arrogant military posturing.

 The colonial powers installed infrastructures that were appropriate for exploitation of the colonies; they established the required administrations for smooth and efficient exploitation.

The other administrative offices for legislation and justices were carbon copies of the ones in their homeland, but these codes could be disposed off and trampled at the first occasion that short sighted interest called for swift and immediate actions.

Contemporary history:

Current Lebanon was created by France during its mandate period and cut out from Syria; it is now a recognized State by the UN since 1943.  Palestine was divided but the Zionist movement conquered the allocated portion for the Palestinians by the UN in 1948. through a detailed pre-planned attack drawn in 1935. 

The Palestinians are now located in the West Bank of the Jordan River and in Gaza where Israel has built 150 Jewish-only colonies and increasing every year. 

The Palestinians who fled their towns and villages in the State of Israel are refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.  And they spread throughout the 5 continents. The UN resolution 193 demands the repatriation of these Palestinians to their hometowns but Israel has been rebuffing that resolution since 1948.

Lebanon suffered many civil wars and calamities for Not being capable or unwilling of absorbing the Palestinian refugees.

Israel has waged four devastating wars against the State of Lebanon on flimsy pretexts based on the Palestinian resistance trying to regain their rights for a homeland.

And three more pre-emptive wars against after the withdrawal of the PLO in 1982.

Note: More detailed facts of the daily business trades between Lebanon and Palestine in Part 2. The implantation of Israel was mainly meant to break down daily trades, and One market, and prevent daily communication among the One people in One Nation: Syria.

“Orientalism” with a twist

Posted on December 13, 2012

Note: Currently, Lebanon is bankrupt: State, Banks , Central Bank and public institutions. The port of Beirut was blown down by an electromagnetic pulse missiles that only the superpower own.

For much of its contemporary history, Beirut has been characterized as the Paris of the Middle East, a cosmopolitan metropolis that misfortune has placed in the middle of a region hostile to the civilized pleasures of material excess, free-flowing alcohol and exposed female skin.

(Kind of the adjacent States, including Israel, refuse to agree for Lebanon to be like a neutral Switzerland!)

Beirut’s Parisian charm has tended to become less apparent during periods of mass sectarian slaughter during the 13 years of civil war that displaced mixed religious people in towns into cantons of similar religious sects.

In the introduction to his Orientalism, the late US/Palestinian author Edward Said notes repercussions of civil conflict in Lebanon on the European consciousness:

“On a visit to Beirut during the terrible civil war of 1975-1976 a French journalist wrote regretfully of the gutted downtown area that ‘it had once seemed to belong to the Orient of Chateaubriand and Nerval [18th- and 19th-century French Romantic writers] ‘.

This journalist was right about the place, especially so far as a European was concerned. The Orient was almost a European invention, and had been since antiquity a place of romance, exotic beings, haunting memories and landscapes, remarkable experiences.” (See link in note 2)

Belen Fernandez published in AlJazeera on Nov. 6, 2012 “Orientalism with a surgical twist: Beirut”


The ‘New York Times’ advertised Beirut as number 1 out of 44 ideal travel destinations in 2009 [Reuters]Can the representation of Beirut as a “Middle Eastern Paris brimming with wealth” function on behalf of imperialism?
“The civil war may indeed have upset a regional landscape constructed over time by European scholars, poets, travelers and other self-appointed authorities, who, as late Edward Said argues, helped institutionalize Eurocentric prejudice, deny agency to the actual inhabitants of the romanticized exotic lands and thus facilitate imperial and colonial conquest.

The civil war did not, however, halt Orientalist traditions – made quite clear in manuscripts like From Beirut to Jerusalem, unleashed to wide acclaim in 1989 by former New York Times Beirut bureau chief Thomas Friedman.

According to Friedman’s account, civil war-era Lebanon was populated by “buxom, Cleopatra-eyed Lebanese girls“, whose presence threw invading Israeli soldiers for a loop:”

This was not the Sinai, filled with cross-eyed Bedouins and shoeless Egyptian soldiers“.

That such caricatures were permitted to pass as insight, exposes the delusional nature of Friedman’s subsequent complaint that “a toxic political correctness infected the academic field of Middle Eastern studies“.

Paris revisited In recent years, Beirut has reclaimed its image as the Paris of the Middle East, outfitted with expanded shopping opportunities and a spiffy new downtown erected on the former dividing line between the Muslim and Christian halves of the city.

A spate of Times articles about Beirut’s various amenities offers such trivia as that “In a city of many faiths – Christian, Sunni, Shia, Druze – at least one religion is universally practiced: sun worship“.

The New York Times has dutifully taken on the role of PR firm for the resurgent Lebanese capital, advertising it as number 1 out of 44 ideal travel destinations in 2009.

Given that the specified temples of worship are high-end beach clubs where “hordes of heliophiles absorb ultraviolet rays and cultivate their bronzed exteriors”, it would seem that said religion is Not so universal after all– either from an economic perspective or one that recognises the incompatibility of certain prominent faiths with public bronzed exterior cultivation.

On the new Zaitunay Bay waterfront promenade, a “luxury playground” where “tablecloths gleam white and bottles of wine sweat in silver coolers”, the Times observes that the boardwalk planks, “a nod to maritime authenticity, present a design flaw perhaps foreseeable in this city:

Women with Louis Vuitton handbags are forever extracting their spike heels from the cracks”.

Additional sights at Zaitunay Bay, itself described as “Lebanon’s latest effort to recapture the prewar 1960s – when Brigitte Bardot was a regular and Beirut was a fashionable port of call”, include an Iraqi immigrant in “leather miniskirt, thigh-high boots and a fur vest and whose fire-engine-red lipstick and long yellow hair” would have appeared out-of-place in her native land but “were right at home in Beirut”.

In other Beirut-centric dispatches, the Times raves about gay nightlife and restaurants offering beef and duck flown in from France.

The point of taking issue with such idealised odes to money and fashion is Not to deny the affluence that exists in the city or the comparatively liberal nature of its society.

However, the marketing of a Beirut brand of “joie de vivre“, so blatantly equated with material wealth becomes morally problematic when we acknowledge the glaring economic disparity in the country, visible in the capital itself.

Consider, for example, the aesthetic differences between the refurbished downtown and the overcrowded and neglected Palestinian refugee camps and primarily Shia southern suburbs.

In these areas, recent infrastructure projects have included the rampant flattening of apartment blocks by the Israeli air force in 2006.

Needless to say, less sanitary aspects of life in Lebanon – such as the enslaved status of many migrants employed in the domestic help sector – have no place in the portrait of Beirut as a paradise of wealth, where tantalising opportunities await foreign visitors and their pocketbooks.

Cleopatra on Botox Three decades after Thomas Friedman discovered buxom Cleopatra in Lebanon, another Western voyager by the name of David J Constable has confirmed that the women still “look like Cleopatra”, and that they have acquired new methods for enhancing their appearances – becoming in the process veritable ambulatory showcases for “tucks, lifts, firming, lipo, implants, grafting, tightening, otoplasty, mammoplasty, rhinoplasty and many other physical manipulations”.

A member of the Royal Geographical Society, Constable approaches his anthropological subjects with Orientalist vigour, compiling his findings in a Huffington Post report entitled “Boobs, Botox, and the Babes of Beirut“.

Constable dispatch begins with the curious hypothesis:“For a largely “Arab “country it’s a bizarre thing that in Lebanon (Beirut specifically), women care more about their appearance than men. Males lead a rather sullied existence, priming their closely cut mini-beards and, from my own observations, eating rather a lot.

The formula in Lebanon’s capital for women is fashion-forward, from their choice of cloth to the decisions they make surgically.”

Non-experts on Arab grooming habits might of course be surprised to deduce that men usually spend hours preening in front of the mirror while women mope about in filth.

Undeterred, Constable rumbles on: “Muslim, Christian and Druze women in Beirut dress surprisingly skimpy. There are vests and silks and bikinis and cashmere and come-hither off-the-shoulder numbers.

Constable warns of occasional inauspicious outcomes among operated females: “Some look as if a drunken Picasso has drawn a face on to a balloon”.

In the very least, Picasso’s inebriated doodles attest to the European role in literally shaping the Orient.

Indeed, in 2006, the Israelis were presumably just as pleased as they’d been in 1982:  They discovered that not all Arabs were cross-eyed Bedouins, and Lebanon is still inhabited by bikini-clad plastic surgery recipients (and their slovenly overeating menfolk).

Field notes The Orient’s existence as a spectacle for the Westerner to behold and interpret is meanwhile made especially clear during Constable’s expedition to a nightclub “to witness the dolls and their dates myself”.

A power outage interrupts the exotic display but is fortunately resolved:“The lights slowly raise and the permafixed smiles return.

The waxed, toned limbs of party women begin to pop and gyrate again.They’re back on show, electrified so their surgical enhancements, botoxed-brows and designer names can bounce off my eyes, competing in a variety of silk-cut blouses, Louboutin heels and over-night handbags.

At another rooftop bar, Constable surmises that “there are benefits to marrying/dating/having sex with a plastic surgeon, since surely No one can afford to spend that much of their own cash on reconstructive surgery and blow-me-up operations”. Case closed.

As with the New York Times‘ fixation with Beirut glamour, the effect of essays like Constable’s is to reduce the Lebanese to a superficial existence in which personal concerns are limited to inflating one’s lips and breasts and not getting one’s designer heels stuck in boardwalk planks.

Never mind that many Lebanese are faced with more pressing preoccupations, such as a southern neighbour with a penchant for massacring civilians, upending infrastructure and saturating portions of the country with unexploded cluster bombs to serve as post-conflict population control.

Some may argue that the Times Constable approach is less detrimental than other reductionist portrayals of the country, such as Lebanon equals terrorist den.

These reductionist statements helps propagate an ethnic stereotype that has been exploited to justify more than one imperial project in the Arab/Muslim world.

The representation of Beirut as a Middle Eastern Paris brimming with wealth and cleavage – a place the West can relate to on account of its fervent materialism – can also function on behalf of imperialism, eliminating as it does all context legitimizing other aspects of Lebanon’s identity, like resistance to Israeli regional designs.

Note 1: Belen Fernandez is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Workreleased by Verso in 2011.She is a member of the Jacobin Magazine editorial board, and her articles have appeared in the London Review of Books blogAl Akhbar English and many other publications.The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Note 2https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2008/10/12/culture-and-resistance-by-edward-w-said/

Note 3: I think Miss Lebanon of 2012 is the one on the far left, the tall blonde one?

In two parts: biographies and speeches 

Posted on June 3, 2009

Hezbollah and Nasrallah

Hassan Nasr Allah (Nasrallah) is currently the Secretary General of Hezbollah.  He was born in August 31, 1960 in the poorest section of East Beirut called Nabaa

Hassan was the eldest among 9 offspring and his father supported this vast family selling vegetable. Hassan refrained from playing soccer with the neighboring kids or joining them for a swim; he was deeply religious and admired greatly Imam Moussa Sadr who gave the Muslim Shia sect sense of their pride and potentials in the Lebanese fabrics. 

The regions of predominantly Shias in south Lebanon and in the Bekaa Valley were neglected in the budgets for infrastructure by the central government since the independence in 1943.  

The Imam of the Mosque where Hassan prayed in Nabaa was Mohammad Fadlallah who is presently the highest Imam of the Shia in Lebanon.

At the age of 14, Hassan moved with his family to their home village Bazourieh in south Lebanon. He aided Sheikh Ali Shams el Deen opening a small library of religious manuscripts and Hassan started teaching religion in the village and then finished his high school in Tyr.  

By the age of 15 Hassan joined the “AMAL” movement of Imam Moussa Sadr and was quickly appointed officer of the Bekaa district and then a member of the politburo. 

Sheikh Muhammad Ghrawi facilitated to Nasrallah higher religious learning in Najaf (Iraq). 

Nasrallah met in Najaf with Abbas Moussawi (later the first Secretary General of Hezbollah).  By 1978, and after two years spent in Najaf, Nasrallah returned to Lebanon. 

A couple of months later Imam Moussa Sadr disappeared after a visit to Libya in August 1978 (Believed assassinated by Gaddafi?).

In 1979, Khomeini came to power in Iran and the Shah went to exile. 

The geopolitical condition in the Middle East changed drastically. Iran was now against the USA interests in the region, supported the Palestinian cause, and was the first State to officially allow the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to open and embassy in Tehran.  

Israel invaded Lebanon in June 1982; the operation was baptized “Peace in Galilee”. 

Israel put siege to Beirut for two months and Yasser Arafat and 11,000 Palestinian fighters left to Tunisia. 

The Lebanese President of the Republic Elias Sarkis invited Nabih Berri (leader of AMAL) to join Walid Jumblatt (Druze leader) and Bashir Gemayel (leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces) to form a national rescue team.

Many AMAL cadres quit Nabih Berri such as Abbas Moussawi, Sobhi Toufaily, Hussein Moussawi, Ibraheem Amin Sayyed, Naeem Qassem, and Nasrallah. 

They created Hezbollah and blew up the US Marines and French barracks in Beirut in 1983. Nasrallah had said that Hezbollah was the consequence of Israel entering Beirut in 1982.

Hezbollah postponed declaring its formation until 1985 after Israel assassinated one of Hezbollah’s leaders Sheikh Ragheb Harb. The Iranian leaders Ali Mohtashami was then the spiritual father of the Party and Muhammad Akhtari the military father.

Hassan Nasr Allah learned from Ragheb Harb the famous dictum “The word is taking a stand and shaking hands is acknowledgement of assent” and thus Harb never shook hands with any Israeli army officers who were trying hard to win Ragheb over to supporting the Israeli occupation of south Lebanon.

In 1987, Nasrallah was appointed member of the highest legislative order in Hezbollah and chairman of the executive branch.  I

n 1989, Nasrallah resumed his religious studies in Qom (Iran) and returned in a hurry to Lebanon when military skirmishes with the AMAL movement spread. 

The AMAL party was executing the orders of the Syrian regime to entering the Palestinian camps and disarming the Palestinians of any heavy arsenal. 

Hezbollah followed the policies of Iran to leave the Palestinian out of harm.  After many months of fighting both parties settled out their differences as Syria and Iran reached a compromise.

Israel assassinated Hezbollah leader Abbas Moussawi in 1992.  

Nasrallah was the closest aid to Moussawi and had extensive contacts with the base, and studied in Qom. 

Hassan Nasrallah replaced Moussawi as Secretary General; he was only 32 of age.  Nasr Allah said: “A movement that witnesses its leader falling martyr can never be defeated”. Hezbollah evolved into a qualitative phase in organization and political acumen.

Israel invaded Lebanon in July 1993 for 7 days under the code name “Settling Accounts” and then re-invaded in 1996 under Shimon Peres (Nobel Peace prize winner! Go figure, he and Menachem Begin the terrorist with Egypt Sadat before him)

This operation of total destruction lasted for 17 days under the name “Grapes of Wrath” and shelled a UN compound in Qana where civilians had taken refuge and over 100 died and 300 were gravely injured.  

Hadi, the eldest son of Nasrallah, fell martyr during a resistance operation in September 1997; twas the night before Nasrallah was to deliver a major speech and he insisted on speaking and said: “In Hezbollah we do not save our children for the future; we honor them when they fight in the front lines against our enemy Israel; we stand tall when they fall martyrs”

Israel had to retreat from all of Lebanon, with the exception of Shebaa Farms and the hills of Kfarshouba in May 24, 2000 without pre-conditions or negotiations. 

The “Arabs” recognized Hezbollah as the main resistance movement that vanquished Israel and acclaimed Nasrallah as the Hero of liberation. 

In the large town of Bint Jbeil Nasrallah delivered the Victory Speech and offered the liberation in the name of all the Lebanese.  Nasr Allah said: “Israel has nuclear arsenals and owns the most lethal air force in the region.  Israel is still much weaker than the spider web” (It was a reference of a spider web on a cave that saved the Prophet Muhammad from being caught by the Quraish tribe of Mecca persecutors while fleeing to Yathreb)

Israel bombarded the villages in south Lebanon in 2003 and then raided Beirut in 2005. 

Israel re-invaded Lebanon in July 2006 for 33 days and failed to achieve any of its proclaimed objectives.  

Nasrallah was recognized as the most charismatic and powerful resistance leader in the Arab and Muslim World.  Nasr Allah played the catalyst for the Shia in Lebanon to participate in projecting the living messages in the symbolism of the Koran verses, and thus be capable of assimilating and accepting changing social and environmental conditions.

According to the famous journalist Seymour Hersh, these “leaders” of Cheney, Elliott Abrams, and Bandar Bin Sultan conspired to finance and whisk the members of Fatah El Islam (Qaeda affiliated) into the refugee camp of Nahr Al Bared with the purpose of destabilizing Lebanon and starting civil war between the Muslim Shias and Sunnis, and thus immersing Hezbollah into a potential civil war.

It didn’t work because the Lebanese army was hurt in its pride after many soldiers were executed by severing their heads in the summer of 2007. 

The Lebanese army lost over 160 soldiers and many hundreds were severely injured but the Muslim extremism objectives were defeated after 6 months of engagement in the camp. 

Deputy Bahiya Hariri (sister of late Rafic Hariri) acknowledged that she contributed substantially in financing extremist Palestinian groups in the refugee camps.

 The Israelis take very seriously Nasrallah promises and threats. 

The Lebanese Government of Seniora PM failed to understand that “A word is a commitment”

Nasrallah had said that Hezbollah will never turn its arms internally except when coerced to relinquish its arms; especially its secured communication lines, the most potent arm it had during the war in 2006. 

In May 5, 2008 Seniora PM Government, with No Shia minister representatives in the cabinet, executed a plan to dismantle Hezbollah secure communication network. 

Hassan Nasrallah delivered a speech demanding the government to retract its decision. 

By May 7, the AMAL militias confronted the security forces of the Mustaqbal (Hariri clan) movement in Beirut and quickly closed down those arm caches intended to start civil disturbances.

The AMAL forces were controlled by cadres of Hezbollah in order for the confrontation not to degenerate into sectarian infighting. For example, the rioters saved the huge pictures of late Rafic Hariri PM and removed the pictures of Saad Hariri and Seniora PM. 

Israel admitted that its patient work of infiltrating Hezbollah for two years vanished within a couple of hours. Over 20 Lebanese agents spying for Israel have been apprehended.   Nasrallah is demanding that the traitors be hanged. Israel spy bunkers in Beirut were closed

 Hezbollah has joined the Parliament since 1992 and has increased the number of its Deputies; it has cabinet ministers since the year 2000.  

Lebanon is getting ready for Parliamentary election in June 7, 2009 and all the indications point to victory of the opposition headed by Hezbollah, AMAL, and the movement (Tayyar) of Change and Reforms of current President General Michel Aoun. 

Note:  The biographical sections were extracted from the recent Arabic/Lebanese book “Shock and Steadfastness” (Sadmah wa Sumoud”) by Karim Bakradounyi

Extracted from my diary, and written on November 24, 2006

Posted on October 23, 2008

It is a sunny and clear day. I think that it is important to first review the study prepared by Mark Perry and Alistair Crook for the British Forum of Confrontations on the July war between Israel and the Lebanese Resistance of Hezbollah.

(Actually, the main objective of Israel was to completely destroy all Lebanon infrastructure, bridges, “refineries”, highways, and Dahiyat in south Beirut. That’s what Israel did)

The bogus study came to the conclusion that Hezbollah won the war and was successful in penetrating the Israeli strategy, its cycle of decision making in the chain of command, intelligence gathering, and military maneuvering.

Though Hassan Nasrallah, (General Secretary of Hezbollah), warned Israel in many public speeches that Hezbollah is about to capture Israeli soldiers in exchange of the release of the Lebanese prisoners, still Israel was taken by complete surprise at the bold attack: mainly Israel supposed that this maneuver will not take place during summer when the “Arab” States from the Gulf and the Muslim Lebanese Shia emigrants flock to Lebanon for vacation.

The Hezbollah operation was easily carried out, and the later videos demonstrated that fact.

The incompetence of the Israeli commander, who failed to follow the military procedures, resulted in two tanks being destroyed in a minefield and many Israeli soldiers died. This unwarranted Israeli military error forced Olmert PM to escalate the confrontation into a full-fledged war, ahead of schedule set by the USA Bush Jr. for late autumn.

Though the vicious surprised escalation by Israel took Hezbollah by surprise it managed within minutes to mobilize its forces and the rocket officers.  The study estimated that Hezbollah has 600 rocket depots hidden 40 meters deep in mountains south of the Litany River.

The Hezbollah political officers had no knowledge of the locations of the depots for security reasons, even a field commander knew about the location of only three depots within his field of operation.

All the varied Israeli sources of military intelligence failed to accurately locate the rocket sites, as well as locating the leaders of Hezbollah, since Not a single one was killed; even Abu Jaafar, the southern military commander of Hezbollah did not die as Israel proclaimed on June 28.

Israel was flabbergasted by the total adherence of the Hezbollah militants by the war truth, 33 days later, a fact that confirmed the effective communication among Hezbollah bases after the methodical Israeli aerial bombardments for over 30 days and nights.

Hezbollah was also very successful in counter thwarting the Israeli espionage operations in Lebanon: it captured 16 spies before the war, many more during the war, and leaked erroneous information to the Israelis about the rocket sites which resulted in civilian casualties and worldwide uproar for the Qana massacre.

(The same town that witnessed the massacre of 110 civilians massed in the UN compound in 1996)

Israel lost as many soldiers and officers as Hezbollah did, or about 180.

The Hezbollah Nasr brigade in the south, strong of 3,000 fighters, did not need to be replenished neither in fighters or supplies during the whole period of the war.

The cause of continuous wavering of the Israeli military command to start the land invasion was due mainly to the disastrous previous small skirmishes that proved that the Hezbollah fighters were steadfast in holding on to their towns and villages and will not retreat.

When Israel called up the reserves sooner than expected on June 21, the US military strategist surmised that the Israeli army is in great trouble and is no longer doing well as hoped.

On June 21, Ehud Olmert PM urgently demanded from the US ammunition supplies which confirmed that Israel’s air depots have been depleted within the first week of its air strikes, and that Israel is in deep trouble.

The environs of the towns of Maroun El Ras and Bent Jbeil, by the border, did not fall in the hands of Israel for the duration of the war, even after Israel called up an additional 15,000 soldiers and the Golani brigade to dislodge the tenacious fighters.

The Merkava tank was defenseless against the second generation of anti tank missiles used by Hezbollah and which were fabricated in 1973.

At the same time, the “Khyber One” rockets which targeted the airbase in Afula, deep inside Israel, could not be intercepted.

Finally, the US hurriedly worked out a UN truth, at the instigation of Israel on August 10, because the Zionist soldiers, deep in south Lebanon, feared encirclement, total defeat, and surrender.

The consequences of this defeat, as stated by the study, were disastrous to both Israeli image of an undefeated State and the US foreign policies.

First, when US diplomats and politicians tried to be in touch with Jordan, Egypt, or Saudi Arabia after the war they realized that nobody in these pro American States dared respond to their calls;

Second, the US realized that its air superiority in a war against Iran is susceptible to be a failure in order to snatch any quick victory;

Third, the popularity of Hassan Nasrallah has become overwhelming in all the Arab and Muslim World, a fact that pursuing the accusations of terrorism will ridicule the US administration and sap any remnants of its credibility;

Fourth, the strategy adopted by Hezbollah discredited the complete political affiliation of the Arab regimes with the US policies in order to gain a few irrelevant advantages;

Fifth, the US is already unable to contemplate a coalition of the Arab and Muslim States in anticipation of an invasion of Iran, simply because these States can no longer afford to look as US stooges toward their people;

Sixth, any attempt by Israel to disable the Iranian nuclear plants will instigate a retaliation toward Israel nuclear plants and further weakening of the American presence in the Arab Gulf States as well as the fall of many pro American Arab States in a domino fashion. (A few days ago, an air-air missile fell by Israel Nuclear site of Dimona, and the Dome of patriotes failed to intercept it.)

Seventh, Israel is going to need, at least 15 years, to rebuild its military and intelligence capabilities in order to regain the image of undefeated army. Israel lost all its spying bunkers (labelled security services in Beirut) in 2008 by a 3-day cleaning up by Hezbollah.

Eight, the position of Iran in Iraq has drastically increased and the Shiaa might soon start an offensive against the US and British troops, their previous allies;

Ninth, the position of Syria in Lebanon has strengthened which is a defeat to the French program since it would be impossible from now on to form a government in Lebanon that antagonizes Syria.

The previous consequences of the study are conjectures so far.

Let us review what happened since after the July war.

First, George W. Bush administration was defeated grandly in the House and the Senate.

This administration has voiced readiness to consider alternative solutions to the Iraqi quagmire.  This administration will view world politics from a different perspective, except in the Greater Middle East. 

It seems that the Bush government is expressing its bitterness in our region. The Bush administration is the cause that the unity governments in Palestine and Lebanon are being postponed weeks after weeks at the detriment of our security and economic development.

Second, Britain has already decided to hand over the civil administration in Basra by the end of the year and has plans to retreat from Iraq altogether: Britain and the European States are vigorously seeking open and direct negotiations with Iran and Syria for a political resolution in Iraq

Third, Pakistan has reached a truth in the provinces bordering Afghanistan and is no longer willing to pursue the US maddening demands to fighting terrorism.

Fourth, Bush is facing serious hurdles meeting with “Arab” leaders. The Iraqi Prime Minister Maleki is not sincerely willing to meet Bush for the time being after Moqtada Sadr threatened to quit the government and the Chamber of deputies if he did, because the recent onslaught of the US forces in Sadr City in Baghdad.

Fifth, Saudi Kingdom is diversifying its military hardware by purchasing for over $1, 5 billions from Britain and Europe. Vice President Cheney visited Saudi Arabia to pressure it to purchase military hardware from the US.

Sixth, the US is about to transfer its major military bases from Qatar to another Gulf State after Qatar was actively flaunting the US plans in the region and openly voicing its concerns in the UN.

Seven, China has publicly announced that it will continue to aid Pakistan with its nuclear programs; China is implicitly behind the Iranian peaceful nuclear program and that is why the US is feeling impotent in setting up an economic effective embargo or contemplating any military alternative.

Eight, a recent survey by a European agency showed that Israel is considered the worst racist and apartheid State.

Nine, the US and Israel are trying hopelessly to start a civil war in Lebanon by effectively assassinating the Maronite Minister Pierre Gemayel Jr. Jordan King Abdullah is warning of imminent civil wars in Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq. Bush is coming to Amman to meet Iraq Maliki PM and, most probably, to put the final touches to the execution of the civil war in Lebanon.

Ten, the foreign visitors to Lebanon are flocking to the south to witness the complete destruction of 30 towns and villages; they are carrying back video, pictures and interviews with the southern residents after shedding bitter tears at the view of these cataclysmic scenes. Hopefully a renewed awareness in the US and Europe of the main task of this mercenary State of Israel will expand.

Eleven, the parliamentary election in Bahrain, 70% of the population being of Shia sect, allowed the Shia and leftist movement to win big.

Twelve, Israel Olmert PM has finally agreed to a truth with Hamas in order to put a stop to the “Al Qassam” rockets directed to the kibbutz Sderot closest to Gaza.

Thirteen, Iranian Prime Minister has promised to help the US in Iraq if the US forces vacate completely this country.

Note: With the advent of Donald Trump, many “Arabic” States, especially those pseudo-State in the Gulf have officially recognized Israel.

The Imperialist Origins of Saudi Arabia

By Yanis Iqbal / April 22nd, 2021

Note: I posted many articles on the Saudi monarchy and the history of the Arabian Peninsula. This is one of the exhaustive research papers

Why Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, a Sunni absolute monarchy, is enthusiastically supported by the West, and promoted as a global promoter of “democracy” and a peaceful entity in the region? This question is rarely asked.

The apparent mismatch between liberal democracy and religious fundamentalism is hastily airbrushed when the matter is about oil trade and arms deals.

This attitude is not an expression of mere hypocrisy on the part of the West; it is deeply rooted in a historical process, whereby the Arabian Peninsula was propped up by major powers as an outpost of imperialist interests and a bulwark against revolutionary ideologies.

Creating the Kingdom

Sheikh Mohammed Ibn Abdul Wahhab, the founder of Wahhabism, was an 18th century peasant who left date palm cultivation and cattle grazing to preach locally, calling for a return to the pure beliefs of the seventh century “authenticity”.

He denounced the worship of holy places and shrines as denying the “unity of the One God”. He insisted singularly on beatings that led to inhumane practices: thieves should be amputated and criminals executed in public.

Religious leaders in the region objected when he began to perform what he preached and the local chief in Uyayna asked him to leave.

Wahhab fled to Deraiya in 1744, where he made a pact with Mohammad Ibn Saud, the leader of the Najd tribes and the founder of the dynasty that currently rules Saudi monarchy today.

Wahhab’s daughter became one of Ibn Saud’s wives. Ibn Saud utilized Wahhab’s spiritual fervor to ideologically discipline the tribes before hurling them into a battle against the Ottoman Empire.

Wahhab considered the Sultan in Istanbul as undeserving of any right to be the Caliph of Islam and preached the virtues of a permanent jihad against Islamic modernizers and infidels.

Lamenting the demise of the former greatness of Islamic civilization, he wished to remove all bidah (innovations/heresies), which he regarded as heretical to the original meaning of Islam.

Basing himself on the Sunnah (customary practices of the Prophet Muhammad) and the Hadiths (accounts, collections of reports, sayings and deeds of the Prophet), he wished to purge the Islamic world of what he viewed as the degenerative practices introduced into the Islamic world by the Ottoman Turks and their associates.

In 1801, Ibn Saud’s army attacked the Shia holy city of Karbala, massacring thousands and destroying revered Shiite shrines. They also razed shrines in Mecca and Medina, erasing centuries of Islamic architecture because of the Wahhabist belief that these treasures represented idol worship.

The Ottomans retaliated, occupied Hijaz and took charge of Mecca and Medina.

(Actually, it was the army of Egypt Muhammad Ali, at the insistence and persistence of the Ottoman Sultan Muhammad 4, and led by his son Ibrahim Pasha, later labelled the “Little Napoleon” by the French, that Ibrahim army entered Deraiya and erased it around 1820. Ibrahim took all his time to progress slowly and rally the tribes before advancing surely and determinately. It is after Ibrahim retreated from the peninsula, and after the British captured Aden in Yemen, that the British resumed their weapon and financial support to the Wahhabis).

The Ibn Saud-Wahhab alliance remained in the interior, with the full support of the British in weapons and money, until the Ottomans collapsed after World War I.

By 1926, the al-Saud clan – led by their new patriarch Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud – and their fanatical Wahhabi allies – the Ikhwan, or “Brotherhood” – once again seized control of the holiest cities in Islam, as well as important trading ports on the western coast of the peninsula. 

Like the initial advances of the 1700s, it was a campaign defined by bloodshed, forced conversions, enslavement, and the enforcement of the strict and eccentric laws of Wahhabism. 

It was also a campaign that was grounded in an alliance between Abdul Aziz and the British Empire. A 1915 treaty turned the lands under Abdul Aziz’s control into a British protectorate, ensuring military support against rival warlords and uniting the two against the Ottomans.

The intimate relationship between British imperialists and Abdul Aziz continued even after the dismantlement of the Ottoman empire, reflected in their close cooperation in the war against Sharif Hussein of Mecca, the Guardian of the Holy Cities, the chief of the clan of Hashem and directly descended from the Prophet.

Hussein had contributed the most to the Ottoman Empire’s defeat by switching allegiances and leading the “Arab Revolt” in June 1916 which removed the Turkish presence from Aqaba.

He was convinced to alter his position after Henry McMahon, the British High Commissioner in Egypt, made him believe that a unified Arab country from Gaza to the Persian Gulf would be established with the defeat of the Turks.

The letters exchanged between Hussain and McMahon are known as the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence. As soon as the war ended, Hussein wanted the British to fulfill their war-time promises.

The British, however, wanted Sharif to accept the division of the Arab world between the British and the French (Sykes-Picot agreement, two Jewish administrators) and the implementation of the Balfour Declaration, which guaranteed “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine through a process of colonization done by European Jews. 

These demands were laid out in the Anglo-Hijaz Treaty – written by the British – which Hussein refused to sign.

In 1924, the British unleashed Ibn Saud against Hussein. Lord Curzon hailed this as the “final kick” against Hussein.

Meanwhile, the Ikhwan grew increasingly angry about Abdul Aziz’s accommodation with the imperial powers that financed him. They disliked his lavish lifestyle, his family’s relations with the West, the relative leniency toward the Shia sect on the coastal region of the Gulf.

The Shia were actually being savagely repressed, but the desired rate of execution in forcible conversion and deportation were Not to the level expected by the Ekhiwan.

The introduction of new technologies (the telegraph, for example, was viewed as being of satanic origin).

Consequently, the Ikhwan began to openly rebel in 1927, shortly after Abdul Aziz signed another treaty with the British which recognized his “complete and absolute” rule of the twin kingdoms of Hijaz and of Najd and their dependencies.

The Ikhwani insurgents, after conquering the various regions of Arabia, began to attack the British and French protectorates of Transjordan, Syria and Iraq in order to subject them to Wahhabi doctrines.

They came into direct conflict with imperialist interests in the Middle East. After some three years of fighting, Abdul Aziz – with military assistance from the British Empire – defeated the rebellion and executed the leaders. 

(It was the same deal as done during the initial Nazi regime as the German army demanded that Hitler militias be dismantled, the militia that brought him to power. Hitler personally got engaged in arresting his own leaders in what is known as Cristal Night)

In 1932, Ibn Saud confirmed his conquests by crowning himself as king of a new state, named after himself and his family: Saudi Arabia.

The suppression of the Ikhwan revolt did not in any way signify the weakening of Wahhabi fundamentalism. Threatened by Islamic radicalism, the royal family co-opted the Ikhwan movement by incorporating its local leaders into the Saudi state apparatuses.

This laid the foundations for the backward ideology of the state: unity of religion and loyalty to one family, making Saudi Arabia the only state in the world that was titled as the property of a single dynasty.

Cozying Up to USA

In 1933, Abdul Aziz had to face a severe financial crisis because his main source of income, taxation of the hajj (Muslim pilgrimage), had been undermined by the world slump.

(Actually, the Wahhabis were intent on destroying the Kaaba (shrine) and forbid Islamic pilgrimage as anathema to their ideology, but Saud was reminded of the wealth he could generate from the Hajj seasons)

For £50,000 in gold he gave an oil concession to Standard Oil of California (SOCAL). The deal between Abdul Aziz and SOCAL provided crucial funds for the fledgling king to consolidate his precarious rule.

Indeed, at the time, his rule was so tenuous that Britain had more control over the House of Saud than the House of Saud had over their own recently conquered dependencies. 

SOCAL gave Abdul Aziz a $28 million dollar loan, and paid an annual payment of $2.8 million in exchange for oil exploration rights throughout the 1930s. SOCAL later merged with three other US firms (Esso, Texaco, Mobil) to form the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO).

This began exploration in eastern Arabia, and in 1938 production of Saudi Arabian oil commenced. The developing political economy of Saudi Kingdom quickly became linked to ARAMCO and its American backers, as the company built labor camps, corporate towns, roads, railways, ports, and other infrastructure necessary for the production and export of oil. 

These infrastructural projects tapped into subsidies from the US government that ran into the tens of millions of dollars.

During the Second World War, the role of Saudi monarchy as a reliable partner of a nascent American empire was strengthened. In 1943, Washington decided that “the defense of Saudi Arabia is vital to the defense of the United States” and lend-lease aid was provided: a US military mission arrived to train Abdul Aziz’s army and the United States Air Force (USAF) began construction of an airfield at Dhahran, near the oil wells.

These arrangement were to give the US a position independent of the British bases at Cairo and Abadan (port in Iran.

This airbase became the largest US air position between Germany and Japan, and the one nearest Soviet industrial plants. Washington managed to retain the base only until 1962, when anti-imperialist resistance forced the Saudi monarchy to ask the Americans to leave.

Not until three decades later, following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, were the Americans provided with an opportunity to reoccupy the base.

The relationship between the US and Saudi Kingdom was famously sealed in a 1945 meeting on the Suez Canal between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Abdul-Aziz. The two leaders agreed that the kingdom would supply the US with oil, and the US government would provide the kingdom with security and military assistance.

Over the years, US presidents reiterated their commitments to Saudi monarchy security. The 1947 Truman Doctrine, which stated that the United States would send military aid to countries threatened by Soviet communism, was used to strengthen US – Saudi military ties.

In 1950, President Harry S. Truman told Abdul-Aziz, “No threat to your Kingdom could occur which would not be a matter of immediate concern to the United States”.

This assurance was repeated in the 1957 Eisenhower Doctrine. The 1969 Nixon Doctrine included aid to three strategic American allies in the region – Shah of Iran, Saudi monarchy, and colonial Israel.

After the US-supported ruler in Iran was overthrown and the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter issued his Doctrine as a direct threat to the Soviets, essentially asserting USA’s monopoly over Middle East’s oil.

Carter’s successor, Ronald Reagan, extended this policy in October 1981 with the “Reagan Corollary to the Carter Doctrine”, which proclaimed that the USA would intervene to protect the Saudi rulers.

While the Carter Doctrine focused on threats posted by external forces, the Reagan Corollary promised to secure the kingdom’s internal stability.

Spreading Counter-revolution

The 1960s and 1970s saw the emergence of Saudi petro-nationalism, based upon the rapidly expanding oil industry and the growth of transnational energy corporations.

The petrol bonanza – driven by the western economies’ steady consumption of oil – not only filled the coffers of the Saudi state, but also provided the Saudi state the ability to spread Wahhabi ideology, Not as a minor creed of militant jihad, but as a cultural export to influence the direction of Islam.

(Actually, it was the insurgency of the Ekhwan after the entrance of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and their occupation of the Kaaba in 1977 that convinced the Saudi monarchy to revisit its origin and cow under harsher laws and customs, principally targeting women and exporting millions of their brand of Quran, free, and establishing thousands of Madrassas (religious schools) in the Islamic world)

Oil wealth enabled the Saudi royal family to counter the rival interpretations and denominations of the Islamic world, and spread its influence over the Ummah (the community of the faithful). In other words, the Saudi ruling elite attempted to project itself as the ultimate definer and protector of the Ummah.

The export of Wahhabism to other countries was a part of the post-World War II US-Saudi strategy, wherein the two countries were allies in their opposition to Soviet “godless communism,” with USA focused on communism while the Saudis were more concerned about the “godless” side of the equation.

Wahhabism also served as a counter-revolutionary instrument against Nasserism, Ba’athism, and the Shia radicalism of the Iranian revolution.

Saudi Arabia started an organisation called the World Muslim League in 1962 to “combat the serious plots by which the enemies of Islam are trying to draw Muslims away from their religion and to destroy their unity and brotherhood.”

The main targets were republicanism (Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser Nasserite influence and invasion of Yemen) and communism.

The objective was to push the idea that these anti-monarchical ideologies were shu’ubi (anti-Arab). Saudi Arabia was also a central member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), created in 1969 as a counter-balance to the socialist-oriented Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

Apart from this geopolitical function, OIC was used by Saudi monarchy to undermine its regional adversary, namely Nasserite Egypt.

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 brought shudders into the palaces of the Saudi royal family, and into the US higher establishment. The overthrow of the monarchy of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi announced the creation of an Islamic form of republicanism. 

Iranian Islamic leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini said that Islam and hereditary monarchies were incompatible and he characterized Saudi Arabia as a US agent in the Persian Gulf.

Saudi rulers felt threatened. They denounced Iran’s revolution as an upheaval of heretical Shiites, but to no avail as Islamic republicanism swept the region, from Pakistan to Morocco. 

Ultimately, the Saudis and the West egged on Saddam Hussein to send in the Iraqi army against Iran in 1980 and supported by all the colonial powers, including the Soviet Union, with all kinds of modern weapons and financial infusion from Saudi Monarchy and Kuwait).

That war went on till 1988, with both Iran and Iraq bleeding for the sake of Riyadh and Washington. (Over 400,000 Iraqi soldiers perished and 1.5 million Iranians. A ceasefire was announced as Khomeini felt that this war might resume indefinitely if he comes to die before an end to it)

Iraq, weakened by the lengthy war, turned against its Gulf Arab financiers who were demanding to be repaid, at the USA request. With insufficient support to rebuild Iraq, Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990, threatening Saudi Arabia as well.

The US entered the picture with its full spectrum warfare – bombing Iraq to smithereens and providing Saudi Arabia with the confirmation that the US military would protect it till the end of time.

Once the history of Saudi Arabia is understood, it can be easily concluded that the monarchs of the kingdom willingly entered into a relationship of geo-political servitude to the West.

The kingdom would have had marginal or limited importance in the world if it was not supported wholeheartedly by the British and American empires.

With the significant backing it received by the colonial powers, Saudi Arabia became an international political player. With the help of their enormous oil wealth, the decadent kings and princes of Saudi Arabia have been perpetrating massacres and wars in various countries, such as the bombing of Yemen, the indirect attacks in Syria and Libya.

All this has been allowed to happen by the West, which provides both tacit and explicit support to the House of Saud in its myriad crimes.

As Che Guevara said, “The bestiality of imperialism…knows no limits…has no national boundaries”.

7 charts to back this article

By Silla Brush. March 26, 2021,

A month after Britain voted to leave the European Union, Boris Johnson was asked whether he thought the finance industry would keep its rights to trade freely in the bloc. “I do, I do,” he told reporters. It was never that simple. 

Half a decade later, billions of dollars in assets and thousands of jobs have moved to the continent after the U.K. negotiated a bare-bones trade deal with the EU that largely sidelined finance, giving cities across the bloc the chance to lure firms in flux.

While the two sides may be just about to ink an agreement to cooperate on financial regulation, neither expects the return of business as usual.

European cities like Amsterdam, Dublin, Frankfurt and Paris have each captured some of the shifts so far, although none has emerged as the clear winner yet.

Some of these changes, like share trading volumes, happened overnight. 

In other areas, like jobs, it is more of a slow drift as firms and individuals try to work out which city in the evolving post-Brexit landscape suits them best. 

Dutch Domain

Amsterdam toppled London as Europe’s share trading capital after Brexit

https://www.bloomberg.com/toaster/v2/charts/a587854fe14f47d49369479cae3f7355.html?brand=business&webTheme=light&web=true&hideTitles=true

Source: Cboe Global Markets

Note: Figures reflect average daily value of shares traded

“We will have Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris and Dublin all in the mix to take some part of the financial system,” Mairead McGuinness, the bloc’s commissioner for financial services told journalists in March. “Markets will decide that and are probably best placed to do that.”

The situation remains fluid and the eventual outcome uncertain.

The U.K. and EU are due to sign a memo of understanding at the end of March to cooperate on financial rules, which might smooth the path to greater access for British firms through so-called equivalence rulings in future. 

Some flows might change direction as the U.K. starts to set its own rules outside the single market, while areas key to London’s decades-long dominance as a financial center — including the clearing of trades — have proven sticky so far. 

“I don’t think you can create a financial center,” said Douglas Flint, chairman of U.K. fund manager Standard Life Aberdeen. “The EU’s challenge is one of where do you choose to locate such a center and how do you get other EU competing countries to cede whatever activities they host.”

But if the first three months of 2021 are any indication, Brexit could remake financial centers across Europe in the coming years.

Here’s what has happened so far:

Share Trading

European equity markets opened on Jan. 4 to a once-in-generation, “big bang” shift.

Nearly all of the trading volume in shares of European companies that was handled in in the U.K. bolted to the EU.

London soon lost its crown to Amsterdam as the continent’s top place to buy and sell shares. Trading in Swiss equities, which had been blocked while Britain was a member of the EU, resumed in February, helping to increase business on U.K. platforms.

Britain is now hoping to boost equity markets by making it easier for companies to go public in London.

Amsterdam Rising

Trading in EU shares bolted from London when markets opened in January

https://www.bloomberg.com/toaster/v2/charts/a176eb374a984a20829e4bf5eae2ca43.html?brand=business&webTheme=light&web=true&hideTitles=true

Source: Cboe Global Markets

Swaps Trading

London has long been a global center for interest rate swaps trading, recently beating out New York and cities across Europe and Asia.

But the City took a hit to its dominance after the EU blocked firms based inside its borders from trading certain benchmark contracts on London-based platforms.

Seeing a rupture in markets between the EU and U.K.,  some banks routed business to Wall Street instead, where both jurisdictions allow trading, although London is still a dominant player when off-facility trading is included.

Swaps Switch

London trading venues see business flee to Wall Street, Europe

https://www.bloomberg.com/toaster/v2/charts/5c14ba829b904848988d28e29940eefd.html?brand=business&webTheme=light&web=true&hideTitles=true

Source: IHS Markit

Note: Market shares for on-venue trading. Off-facility trading isn’t included.

Derivatives Clearing

One key part of the financial market has yet to face much disruption: derivatives clearing.

London Stock Exchange Group Plc’s clearinghouse, LCH, won a decision from the EU that allows it to handle European business through June 2022.

The EU is making clear, though, that it wants the balance of power to shift, drawing more euro-denominated business inside its borders. The Bank of England has already vowed that the U.K. will resist any EU move to force business to relocate.

Clearing Prize

London’s LCH clearinghouse dominates euro interest rate swap marke

thttps://www.bloomberg.com/toaster/v2/charts/8153b5434bdd4c4bac47fead04b5474c.html?brand=business&webTheme=light&web=true&hideTitles=true

Source: Clarus Financial Technology

Note: Market share is for cleared notional business

Investment Banking

Initial public offerings are another area where the Square Mile continues to overshadow its continental rivals.

Listings in the U.K. are firmly on course for a record first quarter, with companies from bootmaker Dr. Martens to Russian discount retailer Fix Price raising a combined $7.2 billion. That’s before the U.K. government’s proposed loosening of listing requirements takes effect.

Lion’s Share

London’s IPO market is on track for a record first quarter

https://www.bloomberg.com/toaster/v2/charts/5918e5c7f799455f98f8b26b82b66a53.html?brand=business&webTheme=light&web=true&hideTitles=true

Source: Bloomberg

Note: Data is for 2021 IPO proceeds through March 24

M&A bankers are also enjoying a bumper year. 

Foreign companies’ acquisitions in the U.K. have nearly tripled this year to $66 billion, a record for that time period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Takeovers of publicly-traded U.K. companies have risen more than sevenfold. This may reflect weakness rather than strength.

British companies have become more vulnerable targets as the valuation gap between local stocks and other major markets widened over the past year.

Jobs and Assets

Finance firms have announced that about 7,600 jobs will move from the U.K. to the bloc, according to a study by consultancy EY.

About 1.3 trillion pounds ($1.8 trillion) of assets are also on the move.

Dublin has attracted the largest absolute numbers of firms of all types relocating to the bloc. Frankfurt and Paris have also been popular among larger firms like universal banks, investment banks and brokerages.

London’s Loss

Thousands of finance jobs have relocated to the EU since Brexit

https://www.bloomberg.com/toaster/v2/charts/dc6ae924d4e44f56a05b842f038a2182.html?brand=business&webTheme=light&web=true&hideTitles=true

Source: EY, Bloomberg estimates

Note: Figures are approximate

Property Prices

While tax changes and a comparatively sluggish U.K. economy have had the biggest impact on property prices, Brexit uncertainty and the migration of Brexit bankers may be exacerbating existing trends in property prices.

Since the U.K. voted to leave the EU, London property prices have increased by 6%, compared to a fifth in Dublin and Amsterdam’s 40% rise.

Home Alone

London property gains trail EU hubs’ since Brexit referendum

https://www.bloomberg.com/toaster/v2/charts/a7474cf6b7c44c1ca02ccbfe368cf0eb.html?brand=business&webTheme=light&web=true&hideTitles=true

Source: Knight Frank research

Note: Prices are for mainstream properties, rebased to 2016

— With assistance by Aoife White, Swetha Gopinath, Ben Scent, Jack Sidders, and Jeremy Diamond

Birth Defects of Iraqis after US invasion

Posted on March 25, 2013

Iraqi Birth Defects Worse than Hiroshima

I watched a documentary on the cable ARTE yesterday on the birth defects suffered by babies in Iraq after the US invasion of 2003. And today Hot Posts is disseminating what Rania Khalek wrote. This is a reblog with minor editing. Rania Khalek posted on March 20, 2013 in her blog “Dispatches from the underclass”

The United States may be finished dropping bombs on Iraq, but Iraqi bodies and babies will be dealing with the consequences for generations to come in the form of birth defects, mysterious illnesses and skyrocketing cancer rates.

Al Jazeera’s Dahr Jamail reports that contamination from U.S. weapons, particularly Depleted Uranium (DU) munitions, has led to an Iraqi health crisis of epic proportions.

Children being born with two heads, children born with only one eye, multiple tumors  disfiguring facial and body deformities, and complex nervous system problems…” are just some of the congenital birth defects being linked to military-related pollution.

In certain Iraqi cities, the health consequences are significantly worse than those seen in the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Japan at the end of WWII.

(Dr Samira Alani/Al Jazeera])

(Dr Samira Alani/Al Jazeera])

The highest rates are in the city of Fallujah, which underwent two massive US bombing campaigns in 2004. Though the U.S. initially denied it, officials later admitted using white phosphorous (like what Israel used on Gaza).

In addition, U.S. and British forces unleashed an estimated 2,000 tons of depleted uranium ammunition in populated Iraqi cities in 2003.

DU, a chemically toxic heavy metal produced in nuclear waste, is used in weapons due to its ability to pierce through armor. That’s why the US and UK were among a handful of nations (France and Israel) who in December refused to sign an international agreement to limit its use, insisting DU is not harmful, science be damned.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s refusal to release details about where DU munitions were fired has made it difficult to clean up.

Today, 14.7% of Fallujah’s babies are born with a birth defect, 14 times the documented rate in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Fallujah’s babies have also experienced heart defects 13 times the European rate and nervous system defects 33 times that of Europe.

That comes on top of a 12-fold rise in childhood cancer rates since 2004.

The male-to-female birth ratio is now 86 boys for every 100 girls, indicating genetic damage that affects males more than females.

(Dr Samira Alani/Al Jazeera)

(Dr Samira Alani/Al Jazeera)

(On a side note, these pictures are rather sanitized compared to other even more difficult to look at images. See here if you can bear it.)

If Fallujah is the Iraqi Hiroshima, then Basra is its Nagasaki.

According to a study published in the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, a professional journal based in the southwestern German city of Heidelberg, there was a 7 fold increase in the number of birth defects in Basra between 1994 and 2003.

According to the Heidelberg study, the concentration of lead in the milk teeth of sick children from Basra was almost 3 times as high as comparable values in areas where there was no fighting.

In addition, never before has such a high rate of neural tube defects (“open back”) been recorded in babies as in Basra, and the rate continues to rise. According to the study, the number of hydrocephalus (“water on the brain”) cases among new-born is 6 times as high in Basra as it is in the United States.

These phenomenon are not isolated to Fallujah and Basra. The overall Iraqi cancer rate has also skyrocketed:

Official Iraqi government statistics show that, prior to the outbreak of the First Gulf War in 1991, the rate of cancer cases in Iraq was 40 out of 100,000 people. By 1995, it had increased to 800 out of 100,000 people, and, by 2005, it had doubled to at least 1,600 out of 100,000 people. Current estimates show the increasing trend continuing.

As Grist’s Susie Cagle points out, “That’s potentially a more than 4,000% increase in the cancer rate, making it more than 500 percent higher than the cancer rate in the U.S.

Dr. Mozghan Savabieasfahani, an environmental toxicologist based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, told Jamail that “These observations collectively suggest an extraordinary public health emergency in Iraq.

Such a crisis requires urgent multifaceted international action to prevent further damage to public

health.”

(Dr. Samira Alani/Al Jazeera)

Instead, the international community, including the nation most responsible for the health crisis is mostly ignoring the problem.

To make matters worse, Iraq’s healthcare system, which was once the envy of the region, is virtually nonexistent due to the mass exodus of Iraq’s medical doctors since 2003.

According to recent estimates, there are currently fewer than 100 psychiatrists and 20,0000 physicians serving a population of 31 million Iraqis.

Dahr Jamail was on Democracy Now this morning discussing the horrific effects of military-related pollution in Iraq:https://www.youtube.com/embed/RNi_1pbSqGY?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en&autohide=2&wmode=transparent

Yanar Mohammad, President of the Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq was also on Democracy Now and addressed the toxic legacy of birth defects in Iraq. (I interviewed Mohammed for a piece I wrote for Muftah about the deterioration of Iraqi women’s rights since the invasion, which you can read here.)


adonis49

adonis49

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