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THE ANGRY ARAB: US Violated Unspoken Rule of Engagement with Iran

When did the USA administrations felt like speaking with the people in ME?

By As`ad AbuKhalil  
Special to Consortium News

Something big and unprecedented has happened in the Middle East after the assassination of one of Iran’s top commanders, Qasim Suleimani.

The U.S. has long assumed that assassinations of major figures in the Iranian “resistance-axis” in the Middle East would bring risk to the U.S. military-intelligence presence in the Middle East.

Western and Arab media reported that the U.S. had prevented Israel in the past from killing Suleimani.  But with the top commander’s death, the Trump administration seems to think a key barrier to U.S. military operations in the Middle East has been removed.

The U.S. and Israel had noticed that Hezbollah and Iran did not retaliate against previous assassinations by Israel (or the U.S.) that took place in Syria (of Imad Mughniyyah, Jihad Mughniyyah, Samir Quntar); or for other attacks on Palestinian and Lebanese commanders in Syria.

The U.S. thus assumed that this assassination would not bring repercussions or harm to U.S. interests.

Iranian reluctance to retaliate has only increased the willingness of Israel and the U.S. to violate the unspoken rules of engagement with Iran in the Arab East.

For many years Israel did perpetrate various assassinations against Iranian scientists and officers in Syria during the on-going war. But Israel and the U.S. avoided targeting leaders or commanders of Iran.

During the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the U.S. and Iran collided directly and indirectly, but avoided engaging in assassinations for fear that this would unleash a series of tit-for-tat.

But the Trump administration has become known for not playing by the book, and for operating often according to the whims and impulses of President Donald Trump.

Different Level of Escalation

The decision to strike at Baghdad airport, however, was a different level of escalation.

In addition to killing Suleimani it also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a key leader of Hashd Forces in Iraq.

Like Suleimani, al-Muhandis was known for waging the long fight against ISIS. (Despite this, the U.S. media only give credit to the U.S. and its clients who barely lifted a finger in the fight against ISIS.)

On the surface of it, the strike was uncharacteristic of Trump.  Here is a man who pledged to pull the U.S. out of the Middle East turmoil — turmoil for which the U.S and Israel bear the primary responsibility.

And yet he seems willing to order a strike that will guarantee intensification of the conflict in the region, and even the deployment of more U.S. forces.

The first term of the Trump administration has revealed the extent to which the U.S. war empire is run by the military-intelligence apparatus. 

There is not much a president — even a popular president like Barack Obama in his second term — can do to change the course of empire.

It is not that Obama wanted to end U.S. wars in the region, but Trump has tried to retreat from Middle East conflicts and yet he has been unable due to pressures not only from the military-intelligence apparatus but also from their war advocates in the U.S. Congress and Western media, D.C. think tanks and the human-rights industry.

The pressures to preserve the war agenda is too powerful on a U.S. president for it to cease in the foreseeable future.  But Trump has managed to start fewer new wars than his predecessors — until this strike.

Trump’s Obama Obsession

Trump in his foreign policy is obsessed with the legacy and image of Obama.  He decided to violate the Iran nuclear agreement (which carried the weight of international law after its adoption by the UN Security Council) largely because he wanted to prove that he is tougher than Obama, and also because he wanted an international agreement that carries his imprint.

Just as Trump relishes putting his name on buildings, hotels, and casinos he wants to put his name on international agreements. His decision, to strike at a convoy carrying perhaps the second most important person in Iran was presumably attached to an intelligence assessment that calculated that Iran is too weakened and too fatigued to strike back directly at the U.S.

Iran faced difficult choices in response to the assassination of Suleimani.  On the one hand, Iran would appear weak and vulnerable if it did not retaliate and that would only invite more direct U.S. and Israeli attacks on Iranian targets.

On the other hand, the decision to respond in a large-scale attack on U.S. military or diplomatic targets in the Middle East would invite an immediate massive U.S. strike inside Iran.

Such an attack has been on the books; the U.S military (and Israel, of course) have been waiting for the right moment for the U.S. to destroy key strategic sites inside Iran.

Furthermore, there is no question that the cruel U.S.-imposed sanctions on Iran have made life difficult for the Iranian people and have limited the choices of the government, and weakened its political legitimacy, especially in the face of vast Gulf-Western attempts to exploit internal dissent and divisions inside Iran. (Not that dissent inside Iran is not real, and not that repression by the regime is not real).

Nonetheless, if the Iranian regime were to open an all-out war against the U.S., this would certainly cause great harm and damage to U.S. and Israeli interests.

Iran Sending Messages

In the last year, however, Iran successfully sent messages to Gulf regimes (through attacks on oil shipping in the Gulf, for which Iran did not claim responsibility, nor did it take responsibility for the pin-point attack on ARAMCO oil installations) that any future conflict would not spare their territories.

That quickly reversed the policy orientations of both Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which suddenly became weary of confrontation with Iran, and both are now negotiating (openly and secretively) with the Iranian government.

Ironically, both the UAE and Saudi Kingdom regimes — which constituted a lobby for war against Iran in Western capitals — are also eager to distance themselves from U.S. military action against Iran.

And Kuwait quickly denied that the U.S. used its territory in the U.S. attack on Baghdad airport, while Qatar dispatched its foreign minister to Iran (officially to offer condolences over the death of Suleimani, but presumably also to distance itself and its territory from the U.S. attack).

The Iranian response was very measured and very specific.  It was purposefully intended to avoid causing U.S. casualties; it was intended more as a message of Iranian missile capabilities and their pin point accuracy. And that message was not lost on Israel.

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbullah, sent a more strident message. He basically implied that it would be left to Iran’s allies to engineer military responses. He also declared a war on the U.S. military presence in the Middle East, although he was at pains to stress that U.S. civilians are to be spared in any attack or retaliation.

Supporters of the Iran resistance axis have been quite angry in the wake of the assassination.  The status of Suleimani in his camp is similar to the status of Nasrallah, although Nasralla, due to his charisma and to his performance and the performance of his party in the July 2006 war, may have attained a higher status.

It would be easy for the Trump administration to ignite a Middle East war by provoking Iran once again, and wrongly assuming that there are no limits to Iranian caution and self-restraint.  But if the U.S. (and Israel with it or behind it) were to start a Middle East war, it will spread far wider and last far longer than the last war in Iraq, which the U.S. is yet to complete.

As’ad AbuKhalil is a Lebanese-American professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus. He is the author of the “Historical Dictionary of Lebanon” (1998), “Bin Laden, Islam and America’s New War on Terrorism (2002), and “The Battle for Saudi Arabia” (2004). He tweets as @asadabukhal

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

Note 1: The US military base in Iraq, Ain Assad, was demolished by the Iranian missiles, and scores of US military personnel were injured and dispatched to Germany and Kuwait. The Netherland decided to vacate its soldiers from this base to Kuwait: They experienced the fright of a lifetime.

Note 2: Hezbollah of Lebanon delivered a final warning to Israel: Any assassination of its members anywhere around the world by Israel, Hezbollah will retaliate. And Hezbollah delivered on its promise and did retaliate on the assassination of 2 of its fighter in Damascus. Israel had vacated all its military bases in the Galilee and the civilians went into shelters for 3 days waiting for the attack.

Note 3: So far, Syrian regime avoided any clear declaration for retaliation on assassinations on its soil or the frequent Israel missiles destroying weapon depots in Syria.

33 years ago: Lebanon reports progress in negotiation with Israel?

Amine Maaluf was spokesman for the Lebanese delegation and reported from Israel town of Netanya.

The agreement was Not signed: Syria put on the pressure of Amine Gemmayel.

Israel ended up withdrawing its troops from south Lebanon, in 2000, without preconditions

Asad Ghsoub shared this link
Pierre Abi Saab

‫#‏أمين_معلوف‬ في الـ 1983
شكراً Asad Abukhalil

Pierre Abi Saab's photo.


Fouad Ajami and his legacy

Funny quote: One Zionist publication called late Fouad Ajami the “genuine Arab hero.”  This Ajami may have been the first Arab Zionist to advocate publicly for his Zionismand opened the door for the US people the “right” to express racism and bigotry toward any “Arabic” person without being confronted in his anti-Arabic-Semitism

The news of Ajami’s death triggered a competition among American journalists: they all wanted to express how much they loved him and admired him.

They all spoke about his “grace” and one Zionist publication called him the “genuine Arab hero.The New York Times and Wall Street Journal were quick to publish glowing obituaries.

Fouad Ajami is not the only Arab Zionist (and I am using the word Zionist here as a description and not as an insult, which it is for all of us anti-Zionists who measure the ideology by its devastating impact on the lives of Palestinians and Arabs and by its blatantly racist discourse) but he may have been the first Arab Zionist to advocate publicly for his Zionism.

Ajami’s career is a political career and not an academic one.

Academic careers in the top US universities are specifically and rigidly structured and designed: those who are not graduates of the “elite US universities” don’t even get short-listed for jobs.

Yet, Fouad Ajami went to school at Eastern Oregon College and received his PhD at the University of Washington, Seattle. It is certain that he is the only graduate of the University of Washington who got an offer from Harvard University (he turned it down).

When Martin Peretz and other Zionists at Harvard were lobbying for the university to hire Ajami, he demurred. He set his own conditions: that he did not want to teach undergraduates. They explained to him that all faculty at Harvard teach undergraduates.

When Ajami was being pursued by Harvard back in the 1990s, Mohsin Mahdi (one of the first Arabs to get tenure at Harvard) was outraged. I was in Mahdi’s office at the time, and he was (in his own quiet way) fuming at the very idea. He gave me a clip from The Harvard Crimson in which an “unnamed” professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard was quoted as saying that Ajami’s reputation is political and not academic. Mahdi told me that it was him, but insisted that his identity not be revealed.

It is not that Ajami was despised by Arabs but here is somebody who got anointed by US establishment media as the foremost Arab expert (after Bernard Lewis) while his colleagues in Middle Eastern studies never held him in high esteem.

But Ajami, and this may be surprising to American readers, was never really known among Arabs the way Bernard Lewis was known through his translated works. Ajami was more of an American phenomenon, the product of American Zionism.

Ajami was quite known and deeply despised by Arabs in the US.

In fact, when Ajami started to spew his hate and contempt for Arabs in the US media, many were shocked and expressed disbelief that one of their own would take those positions. (I was one of the shocked listeners)because his generalized rambling didn’t make sense to me)

I remember once at a dinner with Arab students in the DC area, a Kuwaiti student shared his theory about Ajami. He said that it is not possible for an Arab to take such extreme Zionist positions and that Ajami must have a secret plan.

“What plan are you talking about?” I asked him. He said that Ajami is carefully working his way up the American establishment hierarchy and then, he finished the sentence. I asked, “and then what? liberate Palestine?”

There is a reason for why Ajami rose in prominence in the media and foreign policy establishment. His first job was at Princeton where he got to befriend Bernard Lewis.

But even Lewis could not secure him a tenured job at the Department of Politics. His second job was at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (he succeeded Majid Khadduri who lobbied for his former student, Elie Salem of AUB).

Ajami’s first book, The Arab Predicament was a hit, but he never was able to go beyond it. The verbally gifted man spoke and wrote in a flowery language that captivated the attention of American viewers and readers.

His book spoke about poetry and translated Arabic poems and discourse to English language readers. There were very few original insights in the book, as Hanna Batatu always told me, but it was a useful book in Middle East studies classes.

Ajami’s later books were not imitations of, but more like caricatures of the original. The flowery language got old and repetitive, and the policy recommendation became more and more pronounced and provocative.

The Zionists loved Ajami and he became a sought-after media guest and congressional and government expert. This is a man who once told a congressional committee that the “Sunnis are homicidal and the Shia are suicidal.” (It is turning that homocidal and suicidal go hand in hand, by force of repetitive habit?)

I was watching the event on C-Span and I was struck that everyone in the room laughed. If one is to replace the word “Jewish” with “Arab” in all the rhetoric and analysis of Ajami, one would rightly be accused and condemned as an anti-Semitic.

But Ajami’s name and accent served him well. He was “one of them” but testifying to their brutality, “atavism” and “culture of terrorism.”

Ajami was willing to express views that Westerners were, at that time, reluctant to say publicly.

He gave a respectable cast to the racist discourse about Arabs and shared inside views about “their culture.” Ajami was incapable of speaking for a few minutes without reminding viewers that he is a proud American — he would always preface his remarks by, “We Americans.” Ajami is like the one Jewish person who gets invited to anti-Semitic conferences to attest the views about Jews held by anti-Semites.

But the usefulness of Ajami waned after September 11, 2001.

There were many imitators and racism against Arabs and Muslims became quite widely acceptable in polite and impolite companies. There were also many Arab and Arab-American imitators in the US and in Europe.

They wanted to achieve prominence by bashing Arabs. Bassam Tibi played that role in Germany, others played similar roles in Western countries. But the limits on discourse against Arabs were lifted and the ability to capture attention by resorting to extreme positions stopped working because extremism (against Arabs and Muslims) became part of the mainstream (the liberal and conservative mainstream).

The director of the right-wing Hoover Institution described Ajami as “one of the most brilliant Middle East scholars of our times” and all media later copied that title. None of them wondered whether the conservative director had the qualifications to assess the status of Middle East studies and its scholars.

But the criteria are political and ever since the first Gulf war, Ajami became a politician writing advice and instructions to policy-makers. The era of the Bush administration changed Ajami: even his flowery language was gone. He started to speak and write like Republican consultants and vulgar neo-conservative pundits.

Nuance was never Ajami’s forte. Ajami’s cheerleading role in the Bush administration earned him high honors in the Bush White House who bestowed one of the highest honors a president can bestow on a citizen. After all, Ajami predicted that Arabs would greet the American invasion and occupation of Iraq “with joy.”

There is no accountability in punditry. Witness how all those who were wrong about Iraq in 2003 have risen again and are dispensing advice and knowledge about the country in US media.

Ajami was unrepentant: in his last column for the Wall Street Journal, he singled out Obama and Maliki for criticisms. They alone were responsible for the mess in Iraq. America was, of course, blameless.

Ajami left a harmful legacy for Arabs.

He charted a new course in Middle East analysis in the US (and the West in general): people should not be shy about expressing bigotry and hostility to Arabs anymore. The field is wide open.

He also left many questions unanswered with his death. His bitterness toward Arabs and his need (in every statement and every interview) to remind people that he was an American spoke of a psychological condition.

We will never know why somebody would have such deep contempt and hatred for his people and the culture in which he was born. His avowed Zionism was only an expression of that condition.

Dr. As’ad AbuKhalil is a professor of Political Science at California State University, Stanislaus, a lecturer and the author of The Angry Arab News Service. He tweets @asadabukhalil.

Involved with the CIA? Rumors, Evidences, and As3ad Abu Khalil  

I think that even actual agents to States’ intelligence services have no access to evidences of other agents until many years of operations.

Relying on facts and evidences to pointing fingers can become a full time investigation process that only deep pocket people and organizations can afford to launch such investigation. Or buy State secrets.

The government itself divulges intelligence secrets for internal power struggle, like uncovering the identity of this field female operative because her husband of a reporter confronted the Bush Jr. administration with nasty lies.

Or this French humorist Dieudonne who admitted to be an Israeli agent since 2002 and was asked by the Mossad to lambaste the Jews and Israeli settlers in order for the Mossad to gather information on the various French “anti-Semite” groups and…

The US troops admitted that it is not the known resistance figures that scare the hell out of them in occupied territories, but rather the unknown fighters who blend in the social fabrics like air and never express thier opinions.

Do you think it makes a difference if you get engaged as an agent to foreign powers for financial, political or ideological reasons?

Is it “good” to be an agent if you think that the regime of your country needs to be changed with a little help from outside?

Hussain  Abdul-Hussain, Washington Bureau Chief of Kuwaiti newspaper Alrai, posted this December 29, 2013

“Angry Arab” As3ad AbuKhalil: Involved with or CIA operative?

New evidence proves old rumors

Note: I attached the Debunking claims at the end of this article for the reader to make his own mind if interested in that personality or the subject matter.

As’ad Abu Khalil has been living in the USA for the last 3 decades, and teaches at universities in California and keeps the blog “Angry Arab”, and publishes articles in the Lebanese dailies Al-Akhbar and Al Safir.

He announced this Feb. 2, 2014 on the channel Al Mayadeen that he appointed the lawyer Nizar Saghieh to track the libels in Lebanon and will hire a female lawyer in the USA.

The debunking article is an excellent read for how people rely on flimsy data base companies.

Hussain  Abdul-Hussain posted in Now:

“As’ad AbuKhalil has worked for the CIA.

That’s not a mischief nor is it something dishonorable; the agency is a huge bureaucracy and it often commissions different tasks from different experts, and AbuKhalil identifies as someone who knows about the Middle East.

Washington is a small town and these types of activities are difficult to conceal.

Yet due to non-disclosure protocols, no one who has seen AbuKhalil at any CIA function can share this information publicly without risk of legal action.

Even so, many in Washington have long seen or heard rumors of AbuKhalil’s attendance at Langley-sponsored events. And AbuKhalil routinely posted about his trips to Washington on his frequently updated blog – but he rarely shared what kind of activity he was engaged in during these trips.


So whenever AbuKhalil lobbed accusations against anyone he disagreed with, those familiar with his activities in Washington knew he was a hypocrite.

But only until today was evidence finally uncovered after Syrian activist Ahed al-Hendi, while perusing through public records on the Internet, discovered that AbuKhalil had been paid by the CIA.

Although AbuKhalil’s position as a “host” may not be senior enough or even relevant to the work of the agency, the fact that he has been cleared to work at Langley, has actually done so, and has managed to hide it all these years, tells us something about his character.

AbuKhalil – the staunch anti-imperialist, anti-White Man freedom fighter – quickly realized that this revelation would be a damaging one. He swiftly contacted al-Hendi in an attempt to nip the problem in its bud.

“You are endangering my life with your distortions and lies. You can go to jail for something like that and I will sue you and drag you to court,” AbuKhalil wrote via email. “I will give you till tomorrow otherwise I will notify my lawyer and Facebook […] My lawyer says you have an hour.”

Notice AbuKhalil, who has long insisted that he is the most transparent man on the planet and would post anything that he would get his hands on, makes no effort to explain why public records indicate he was paid by the CIA.

Instead, AbuKhalil sounded scared for his life, perhaps because during the craze of the Global War on Terror, he was consulted on Islamist movements, judging by his book on the subject.

Or perhaps AbuKhalil’s other employers, like pro-Hezbollah Beirut newspaper Al-Akhbar, knew of such links and were happy to see one of them bash their rivals at Langley.

As for what work AbuKhalil did for the CIA, no one can be sure due to non-disclosure protocol and the fear of legal suit. But thanks to al-Hendi, we now have proof that the Lebanese-American professor has worked with the CIA, no matter how small his involvement.

What AbuKhalil did for the CIA is his business.

But what is our business is to show that the man who swears on his honor about his anti-Americanism, and continuously bashes others for being pro-America, clearly has a few skeletons in his closet.

If you are a US citizen, working for the government, including the CIA, is an honorable task.

Indeed, Americans are required to recite the pledge of allegiance, and this entails doing whatever it takes to defend the homeland. But the problem with AbuKhalil is that his apparent insecurity about being an American citizen has led him on frequent anti-American crusades.

Maybe it is the Lebanese political culture that has forced AbuKhalil to perfect his trademark ad hominem attacks that blast people’s characters instead of their ideas.

Perhaps the only way a man of AbuKhalil’s intellect to be heard is to propagate offensive and populist rhetoric while carrying out his punditry gigs.

AbuKhalil’s academic credentials are weak anyways.

The sheer amount of time he must spend away from his professorial duties on blogs, social media, and TV appearances make many wonder whether his scholarly work is even diligent or credible.

For those who meet him, AbuKhalil seems like a humble guy. Yet for someone with his background and position, he should know better.

AbuKhalil should be more respectful when making his points, and he should do them without slandering others.

No one cares whether AbuKhalil actually worked, or still works, for the CIA.

No one cares about his social background or preferences.

No one cares who sends him his paychecks or why.

What many care about is for him to stop his populism and stop spewing unsubstantiated claims about the character and integrity of those he disagrees with.

(Abu Khalil made it a point of attacking the Wahhabi Saudi Arabia monarchy for buying off many media outlet in order to promote its policies)


The next post is the “Debunking of the claim that As’ad AbuKhalil worked for the CIA”

Benjamin Doherty submitted to The Electronic Intifada this Dec. 30, 2013:

“Allegations disseminated by the website Now that California State University Stanislaus professor As’ad AbuKhalil worked for the CIA are based on nothing more than information harvested from Internet spam sites and web forums.

AbuKhalil is also the author of the widely-read blog The Angry Arab News Service where he has frequently been harshly critical of both the Syrian regime and opposition.

This post will demonstrate that the information on which basis it is claimed AbuKhalil worked for the CIA lacks any element of credibility or reliability whatsoever.

AbuKhalil has forcefully denied the claims.

The allegation

In a 29 December article in Arabic on the website Now, Ahed al-Hendi, identified as as a “Syrian opposition activist,” alleges that AbuKhalil worked as a “doorman” or “host” for the CIA:

Washington – It is naive to believe that the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has no doorman. More important is that one of the “doormen” at the headquarters of this agency formerly was an “Angry” Arab of California and “resister” As’ad AbuKhalil. This is no silly joke, mere accusation, or secret or classified information, but information provided by American firms that specialize in collating public records about individuals, companies and organizations.

The website LexisNexis is the world’s biggest database of legal documents, public records about individuals and companies, and this information is provided to the public. When searched for As’ad AbuKhalil, the site reveals that he worked during an unspecified period for the Central Intelligence Agency, as a host. The agency’s phone number on the website belongs to the agency’s public affairs office.

This information comes in the context of the website’s presentation of the positions a person held based on his Social Security Number, and it appears that AbuKhalil worked as a professor at the University of California [sic] with the same Social Security Number, which eliminates any doubt about a similarity of names.

Al-Hendi’s article is accompanied by this tightly cropped screenshot purporting to support its allegations:


Evidence presented by Ahed Al-Hendi in Now.

This is the only part of the article that sets out the “evidence” regarding AbuKhalil. Taking his own claims to be true, al-Hendi engages in speculations about AbuKhalil’s motives and tries to explain AbuKhalil’s alleged position of “host” – which on its face makes little sense. Why would the CIA hire AbuKhalil as a “host” or “doorman?”

Al-Hendi’s claims are laundered in an article by a writer called Hussain Abdul-Hussain, identified as the “Washington Bureau Chief of Kuwaiti newspaper Alrai” in an article on the English version of the Now website, headlined “‘Angry Arab’ or CIA operative?”.


The two Now articles containing these allegations have been quickly and credulously disseminated by numerous journalists concerned with Syria, individuals affiliated with the human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and pro-Israel and pro-Syria-opposition activists. These include:

Yet had any of these individuals enthusiastically disseminating these claims conducted some basic due diligence, they would have discovered that al-Hendi’s “evidence” holds no water and should in fact be treated not just as a “silly joke” but as a sloppy attempt at defamation.

The facts

As noted, the “evidence” produced by Ahed al-Hendi is a screenshot of result 16 and 17 apparently from LexisNexis Public Records, a database product marketed to law enforcement, federal and state government agencies, corporations and media organizations. A disclaimer on the product information page states (emphasis added):

Due to the nature of the origin of public record information, the public records and commercially available data sources used in reports may contain errors. Source data is sometimes reported or entered inaccurately, processed poorly or incorrectly, and is generally not free from defect. This product or service aggregates and reports data, as provided by the public records and commercially available data sources, and is not the source of the data, nor is it a comprehensive compilation of the data. Before relying on any data, it should be independently verified.

There is no indication that al-Hendi made any attempt to independently verify the information he reports.

The disclaimer means that LexisNexis does not produce the data itself, it merely aggregates the data from potentially thousands of sources, “including public, private, regulated and derived data.”

LexisNexis is not the original or sole source for the data they sell through their public records database product, and the data they publish can be found from another source who has licensed or sold it to LexisNexis.

Furthermore, in this context, “public data” does not necessarily indicate government data or official data but any data from any publicly accessible source including web sites and internet search engines.

A LexisNexis sales presentation mentions that the company partners with Zoominfo, a firm that produces data about job histories based on information scraped from web sites.

The Electronic Intifada could not reproduce the search on LexisNexis itself because it did not have access to the specific database product to which al-Hendi apparently refers.

However, searching Google for the exact details about As’ad AbuKhalil contained in the LexisNexis search result shown in the al-Hendi article revealed only one relevant link: to Zoominfo.

While the Zoominfo link is now dead, Internet caches still show the information the page previously contained.

There are no other public sources for the alleged CIA employment history of As’ad AbuKhalil.


A screenshot from a cached search result from Zoominfo identifying As’ad AbuKhalil with an employment history as “host” at the Central Intelligence Agency. This page has been removed from the Zoominfo site.

The details on the Zoominfo page match the LexisNexis data cited by al-Hendi precisely: name, job title, employer name, PO Box and city. Only the ZIP (postal) codes differ between Zoominfo and LexisNexis.

The web references for this information cited by Zoominfo are two dead links:

1. One is “Abdullah the Butcher,” a name apparently referring to a Canadian professional wrestler, on the domain It is not clear why a used car dealer near Buffalo, NY should be considered a reliable source about As’ad AbuKhalil’s employment history.

The link itself no longer exists, but Zoominfo maintains a cache of the source, which was generated on 28 January 2008:

Hezbollah’s big challenge (Abdullah The Butcher)

Asia Times – so they can be all swayed (by checkbook?) by King Abdullah. As’ad AbuKhalil, host of the CIA) asset, former Iraqi interim prime minister and “Butcher Continue reading

Egypt Today – Many citizens still haven t bought into the government s line. As butcher Mohamed Abdullah El-Farrargy teases, the best rumor he has heard to date is the one that claims the government will fairly compensate retailers for their losses and buy up Continue reading

Tags: abdullah the butcher   May 24th 2007 Added to Abdullah The Butcher

This block of text is mostly unreadable nonsense and appears to be the mashed up parts of at least two different articles.

2. The other content on the page has no apparent connection to anything related to As’ad Abukhalil or the Canadian professional wrestler “Abdullah the Butcher.”

The quoted text is a chopped up version of a 19 April 2007 Asia Times article by Pepe Escobar that contains this sentence:

As’ad AbuKhalil, host of the Angry Arab website, always stresses that the Lebanese civil war never ended.

Three paragraphs later, Escobar writes:

Officials in Damascus are more than happy to remind anyone that Hariri was also very close to former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) asset, former Iraqi interim prime minister and “Butcher of Fallujah”, Iyad Allawi, Not to mention that he was the facilitator of a $20 billion arms deal between the Russians and the House of Saud.

These two separate sentences were combined by whatever created the “Abdullah the Butcher” page on to read as the nonsensical phrase:

As’ad AbuKhalil, host of the CIA) asset, former Iraqi interim prime minister and “Butcher”

This collection of randomly collated keywords forms the substance of Zoominfo’s reference supporting the “fact” that As’ad Abukhalil worked as a “host” for the CIA.

The second Zoominfo reference for the claim is an accurate quote from an unmangled version of the same Pepe Escobar article posted on, a web forum site that no longer exists.

As’ad AbuKhalil, host of the Angry Arab website, always stresses that the Lebanese civil war never ended.

Zoominfo thinks the reference was dated 2003, even though the Escobar article was not published until 2007.

It is strange that both references originate from the same Pepe Escobar article but the original Pepe Escobar article itself is not cited as a reference, even though Asia Times should be recognized as a more authoritative source in general compared to user-generated content on an internet forum and search engine spam.

A “CIA” post office box?

Zoominfo and LexisNexis agree on the PO Box number and city but not the ZIP code.

Zoominfo says that As’ad Abukhalil worked for the CIA that used the PO Box 12727 in Arlington, Virginia 22209. LexisNexis data says that As’ad Abukhalil worked for the CIA at the same PO Box and city but in the 22219 ZIP code.

Public records searches for the two addresses reveal that the PO Box in the 22209 ZIP code (the one Zoominfo lists) has been used by the Central Intelligence Agency for employment and recruiting and also for the Undergraduate Scholar Program, a scholarship for graduating high school students who either have a disability or belong to a minority ethnic group.

Zoominfo also lists 3,753 other alleged employees of the CIA, all operating out of this one PO Box, including people with job titles like “honorary vice president,” “certified master chef,” “director of the Global Jihad Unit,” “spymaster,” “head smacker,” “spook,” “007,” and even “ghost.”

According to Zoominfo, the CIA employs or has employed the famed Russian-Canadian professional concert accordionist Alexander Sevastian. He was only one of a number of accordionists allegedly employed by the CIA.

Meanwhile, searching for the address provided in the LexisNexis results posted on Now (with ZIP code 22219, a special ZIP code only used for post office boxes) can reveal that this address is not linked to the Central Intelligence Agency at all but rather:

If the exact address with the ZIP+4 is searched, only one result turns up: Sean Dennehy, a CIA employee, who is not “Chief Technology Officer” (as this link says) but rather the Chief of Intellipedia Development for the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence.

It is not clear if Dennehy holds this position today. Other databases do not list this post office box for Dennehy.

LexisNexis aggregates data from a multitude of sources and attempts to make connections that might be hard to see because their sources have errors and inconsistencies.

Zoominfo is one very likely source of the data published by LexisNexis and quoted by Now, and the only source that I could find in the public record that identifies As’ad Abukhalil as a “host” at the CIA.

When the details of either source are scrutinized at all, it is abundantly clear that these sources cannot be taken at face value. They must, as LexisNexis cautions and Now failed to do, be independently verified.

Zoominfo is widely recognized as riddled with bugs

Zoominfo produces its data by scraping web sites and making connections among data points about who someone is, what companies they work for and when they worked for them.

However, this is a highly inaccurate process, especially when the input is faulty (such as the case with data from “Abdullah the Butcher”).

There are several easy ways to find posts about Zoominfo’s bad data (just search “Zoominfo false scrape” in Google) but one that illustrates the point very well is “Leads, Leads, Leads” by Laura Atkins, the founder of anti-spam consultancy Word to the Wise. In a 2012 post, she writes:

I have to admit, I’m actually surprised at just how totally inaccurate the data about me is. I’m not that hard to find. Zoominfo has 6 listings I can clearly identify as me. In those 6 listings:

  • Not a single listing gets my contact information correct.
  • Not a single listing gets my employer correct.
  • Three of the listings identify me as working for different companies.
  • I’ve never worked for any of those companies.
  • One of the “companies” is a non-profit I volunteer with.
  • One of the companies is a blog written by a colleague.
  • One of those companies is a now defunct magazine that published an interview with me.

But the failure in data collection is not just in the area of collecting personal data. Their corporate information is even worse. Zoominfo has linked me with four companies. In those 4 listings:

  • Zoominfo incorrectly identifies The Minnesota Companion Rabbit Society as headquartered in Virginia.
  • Zoominfo incorrectly identifies Spamtacular as located in California.
  • Zoominfo identifies Context Magazine as a viable company.
  • Zoominfo identifies me as the “founding partner” of a company called Word.

Total strikeout for Zoominfo.

In 2010, a Republican party candidate for US Senate in Delaware, was accused of lying about her educational credentials. The data appeared on LinkedIn and Zoominfo, but on Zoominfo it was marked as “user verified,” meaning that someone claiming to be Christine O’Donnell had entered or approved the information on the site. This led some bloggers to recognize that absolutely anyone could post fraudulent information on Zoominfo by impersonating someone else.

Yousef Munayyer noticed that a Zoominfo search for journalist Glenn Greenwald shows that Greenwald has served as the Governor of Illinois. There has never been any person named Greenwald who served as the Governor of Illinois!

In Australia, allegations of corruption against Supreme Court of Queensland Justice Henry George Fryberg published on the site Haig Report have led to Justice Fryberg being identified on Zoominfo as holding the position of “corrupt parasite” at the Supreme Court of Queensland.

Hussain Abdul-Hussain, author of the English Now article, is identified in Zoominfo as a writer for Jewish Ideas Daily, a web site that has been praised by John Podhoretz, the intemperate editor of far-right Commentary magazine. However, this is false.

Ahed al-Hendi, the author of the Arabic Now article that originally published the false story about As’ad AbuKhalil, is revealed by Zoominfo to work for, a group whose advisory board includes ardently pro-Israel Canadian member of parliament Irwin Cotler and Jewish Agency for Israel chairman Natan Sharansky. The leaders of, David Keyes and Nir Boms, have both served in the Israeli army and worked for or advised the Israeli government.

This is one case where Zoominfo turns out to be rather accurate. The website lists al-Hendi as one of its “Experts.”

Vendetta journalism

After the Now articles were published, people gloated about the irony of an anti-imperialist writer working for the CIA. Even people who likely realized that the evidence was very weak defended the defamation as a kind of justice or revenge for AbuKhalil’s writings and opinions.

Even Hussain Abdul-Hussain, who wrote the English article for Now, appears to acknowledge that the falsehoods he spread are intended to achieve not the dissemination of truth or facts but a kind of lesson for AbuKhalil:

What many care about is for him to stop his populism and stop spewing unsubstantiated claims about the character and integrity of those he disagrees with.

It is hard to understand how so many professionals could have so little respect for truth or accuracy and yet expect AbuKhalil or anyone else to take lessons in ethics from them.

Those same journalists and human rights advocates cannot evaluate the quality of their own evidence and will abandon those same ethics to fulfill a petty, emotional need for revenge against someone with whose views they disagree.

Ali Abunimah assisted with translation.

British Ambassador Addresses the Lebanese: On Independence Day

I can sympathize with Tom Fletcher, and the good previous recent British ambassadors to Lebanon, and I feel that the negatives responses to the ambassadors reflect a state of mind of the Lebanese who feel down on their luck and totally hopeless to undertake serious reforms to their political and social structure since their independence in 1943, or as the French mandated troops vacated in 1946.

Lebanon is not a usual country: a deformed version of a nation, at best. It is a place where people don’t agree on the definition of statehood and nationhood, and a place where sectarian divisions have constituted a bonanza for foreign intervention.

In the last 40 years, Lebanon had not enjoyed a stable situation that is promising. Currently, we have no Parliament: it extended its tenure for another 2 years and never has met since. We have no government in the last 6 months and the designated “Prime Minister” is sitting tight, waiting for political movements to reach a consensus on a government to form.

In the meantime, the Syrian refugees are flooding in Lebanon and their number has reached about 50% of our population.

Lebanon is also a place crying out for an identity. While some do see marks of history, geography, and culture and recognize Lebanon as it is – an Arab country, no less Arab than other countries – others think that they have been misplaced in the Middle East, that they belong to Europe.

But first, here an example of the counter-responses to the ambassador speech.

As’ad AbuKhalil posted this Nov. 25, 2013 on his blog Angry Corner:

Some ultra-Lebanese nationalists developed a variety of forms and motifs of nationalism that stress the (imagined) relationship between Lebanon and Europe, which consider Lebanon the least in its priorities.

Some Lebanese think that donning Western clothes and faking an American or a French accent is sufficient to place them squarely among the White Man of Europe.

Some really bought into that. Those Lebanese (represented by An-Nahar newspaper, among others) are more than eager to prostrate at the mere sight of a white man in their midst.

Some even think that they themselves are white. It is for this reason that European and American diplomats in Lebanon act more arrogantly and more condescendingly than perhaps in other places.

It was in this context that the British ambassador in Lebanon addressed the Lebanese people on the anniversary of Lebanese independence. He lectured, preached, hectored, sermonized, and moralized to the Lebanese people. He even bragged about the role of the UK in Lebanon’s independence.

Thereby insulting the intelligence of the Lebanese people (and his own) by pretending that British policies (whether in Palestine – lest he thinks we forgot – or in Lebanon itself) were motivated by anything other than greed, colonial interest, care for Israeli occupation, and competition between the colonial powers themselves.

Of course, the ambassador prefaces his remarks by a perfunctory dosage of flattery – the substance of which he must have heard from the Lebanese themselves – or those upper-class Lebanese who attend embassy functions in Beirut. He even praises the hospitality of the Lebanese people, which is inferior to the hospitality that the UK accorded to the Zionist project. Talk about hospitality.

And while the ambassador expresses admiration for the Lebanese, he also shares their frustration. He tells the Lebanese that he is frustrated with them.

But what does Tom think that we feel toward his government? He thinks that the Balfour Declaration, the divisions of the spoils of the region in Sykes-Picot, and the subservience of his country to US war designs in the region are relics of the ancient past?

It is not frustration that characterizes our feelings toward his government’s record in the region but deep anger and antipathy. If one should feel frustrated it is us.

What does he think we think about his government plot against Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1956 or his government’s role in the civil war in Lebanon in 1958 on the side of Chamoun and the right-wing fascistic elements?

Balfour requires much more than an apology to be forgiven – if ever: It requires a restoration of justice.

The UK will not reach a historic reconciliation with all the Arabs before the extinction of the Balfour Declaration and all of its ramifications.

His first advice to the Lebanese is that we should ignore advice from outsiders, and he included himself among them. But that is pure flippancy: If Tom truly wishes that we ignore his advice, why did he bother to write this long letter?

Furthermore, not all outsiders are alike: Some have truly assisted Lebanon in its struggle against occupation and for independence, and others (like his government) sponsored the occupation and brutalization of Lebanon.

The rest of Tom’s advice is akin to the psycho-babble of American talk show hosts and guests. Renewing marriage vows? What does that mean?

And is Britain about to renew marriage vows with Scotland or is it heading for divorce?

Does the US seek advice from the Lebanese ambassador in London? And why do I get the feeling that if the Lebanese ambassador in London were to draft a letter similar to Tom’s, she would be deported at once.

Finally, if Tom and his government like the Lebanese so much, why do the visa requirements make it virtually impossible for any Lebanese to visit the UK unless they are among the rich and powerful of Lebanon?

Maybe Tom’s letter is addressed to the political and economic elite of Lebanon, as it is doubtful that Tom ever wines and dines with average Lebanese, or with poor Lebanese (outside of those who work in the kitchen of his embassy).

Nevertheless, I will take the advice of Tom to heart: I will ignore letter.

I exchanged a few lines with Tom on Twitter, and he said in response to my critique that he was merely expressing his views. I answered by saying that he would never dare criticize, say, the government and society of Saudi Arabia.

I dared him to have his colleague in Riyadh draft such a letter to the Saudi people. He answered by sending me the routine human rights evaluation of Saudi Arabia (which is part of an annual global assessment that the UK and US do but without any policy implication).

Tom must have known that does not suffice, and that his government and all of its ambassadors are required to adhere to the highest norms of prostration and subservience in dealing with the House of Saud. Too bad, Tom, that Lebanon has not extracted its oil and gas yet. I bet you that you would have not drafted your letter in that case.

Note 1: Other critics brought forth the advanced ancient civilization of Lebanon and the Levant region (Syria and Palestine), and this is reason enough to refuse advises from a British ambassador.

Fact is very few Lebanese are engaged in researching this ancient civilization, and fewer who care of the past.

Note 2: This is a sample article on advanced ancient civilization

Is Israel’s Bombing of Syria just a matter of Domestic Politics? Is all wars fundamentally within internal politics struggles? 

On January 30, 2013, Israel stroke twice inside Syria, and reportedly hit a convoy of anti-aircraft weapons heading to Lebanon according to Israeli and western news agencies. According to Syrian state media, the Israeli strike targeted a military research facility.

After the news broke, many questions were raised:

What was the target of the Israeli attack?

Was the strike in Syrian or Lebanese territory?

Did a strike even happen? Was this the start of a regional war?

As is usually the case with attention-grabbing events in Syria, multiple interests groups inside the country quickly proclaimed the strike as a vindication of their respective positions.

But as days turned to weeks, it seemed the Israeli strike had less to do with events inside Syria and more to do with domestic Israeli politics

Yazan al-Saadi posted on Mar 18, 2013 in Muftah:

A sign showing the distances to Damascus and a cut out of a soldier are seen at an army post from the 1967 war at Mt. Bental in the Golan Heights, overlooking Syria. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

A sign showing the distances to Damascus and a cut out of a soldier are seen at an army post from the 1967 war at Mt. Bental in the Golan Heights, overlooking Syria. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The Strike Vindicates All

There were several narratives that emerged from inside Syria about the strike.

For those who found themselves, willingly or unwillingly, aligned with the Syrian regime, the strike was perceived as another indicator of a sophisticated conspiracy to declaw the Syrian state and thereby weaken resistance toward Israel.

That the strike was met with only muted outrage from many in the Syrian opposition, as well as countries inside and outside the region, seemed to substantiate this logic (declaw the Syrian state).

For those who opposed the Syrian government, the regime’s failure to respond to the attacks – beyond the usual wearisome claims about waiting for an appropriate “time and place” to act against Israel – demonstrated its inherent weakness and unwillingness to match flowery rhetoric with action.

Prominent commentator and academic As’ad AbuKhalil perfectly encapsulated this view in a blog post for Al-Akhbar English:

And the Syrian regime, despite its pathetic lack of a response to past acts of Israeli aggression against Syria, is now in a more difficult position. If it does not act in response to Israeli aggression, it will be quite embarrassing for the regime to justify the use of fighter jets and helicopter gunships in its internal conflict (for purposes of regime preservation), but not for defending Syrian territory against Israeli attacks. The Syrian army, which has by and large remained loyal to the regime, could face major defections in protest against this regime reluctance. But if the regime responds to Israeli attacks, Israel can inflict severe damage to the military power of the regime, which is needed to protect the regime. Either way, the regime could suffer, although it would change the contours of the conflict if it were to respond against Israel in a major way.

Interestingly enough, this position was echoed by Elliot Abrams, an American diplomat and extreme ally of Israel, who recently wrote about the attack and compared it to a previous Israeli strike on Syrian territory in 2007.

Abrams noted:

The Israeli assessment of Syria’s likely reaction was correct. The Israelis believed that if (they and we) spoke about the strike, Assad might be forced to react to this humiliation by trying to attack Israel. If, however, we all shut up, he might do nothing—nothing at all. He might try to hide the fact that anything had happened. And with every day that passed, the possibility that he would acknowledge the event and fight back diminished. That had been the Israeli theory, and the Israelis knew their man.

Indeed, the Syrian regime did not respond militarily to the recent strike, just as it failed to respond in 2007. This lack of an armed response is quite incredible when one remembers how quickly the Syrian military was able to shoot down Turkish planes in June 2012.

This begs the question:

Is the powerful security and military apparatus in Syria truly for the benefit of confronting imperialism and Zionism, or, as AbuKhalil suggests, simply a tool for regime preservation? The answer, of course, depends on where you stand on the conflict inside Syria.

For those opposed to the Assad regime, the lack of a Syrian response to the usual Israeli belligerence continues the pattern of non-confrontation, and provides further evidence that the regime’s rhetoric of resisting Zionism and western imperialism is illusory. Consequently, for the Syrian opposition, the attack was counter-productive and in fact shored up more nationalist support for the Syrian regime.

For those who support the Assad regime view that the Israeli attack was as confirmation of a conspiracy to weaken the ‘resistance axis’, and justify the lack of a Syrian response to the strike as a matter of political pragmatism.

An Israeli Affair

At first blush, events inside Syria may seem to explain the Israeli strike. After all, with the on-going instability inside the country, the time appears ripe for Israel to attack a government that has historically claimed to oppose the Israeli state.

While this explanation is convenient, other issues are clearly at play. Since its inception in 1970, the Assad regime’s relationship with Israel has gone from full-blown war to détente. The Israelis feel comfortable with the regime, and understand how it functions.

Alteration of the Syrian government, by contrast, offers new challenges and uncertainties. While a new Syrian government may not embrace resistance as before, it may also challenge the Israelis more aggressively. It is a risk the Israeli government is not willing to take, especially given the region’s recent volatility.

Even if Israel was interested in weakening the Syrian regime, bombing a government arms convoy seems unlikely to dent the regime’s capabilities, nor does it otherwise justify the risks associated with military action. There must be more to the story. The timing of the strike may offer a clue as to the real motivations behind the attack.

Israeli Elections

Eight days prior to the strike, the Israeli legislative elections concluded with the ultra-right wing Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu coalition, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, eking out a bitter victory.

Despite winning the majority of parliamentary seats, Netanyahu’s party suffered losses, particularly due to the surprising growth of Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid party, which came in second with 19 seats.

Among the Western press, Lapid is presented as a foil to the ultra-right wing Netanyahu. For many Western media outlets, the aggressiveness and racism from Netanyahu and other right wing Israeli politicians has become increasingly troubling.

Dubbed the ‘Israeli center,’ the very photogenic Lapid leads a party that is supposedly representative of Israel’s secular center. Lapid and his party are, however, nothing short of a chimera or as the Israeli historian, Tom Segev, called him, “a kind of anti-Orthodox Likud lite.”

Shortly after parliamentary elections concluded, tensions surfaced between Netanyahu and Lapid over controlling positions in the new coalition government. The prime minister position was a particular source of dispute, causing tensions and delays.

The Israeli strike on Syria, and sensational prophesies about a chemical weapons response from the Syrian regime, seemed to work in favor of Netanyahu and his right-wing allies.

For Netanyahu and his peers, the strike offered another opportunity to demonstrate their ‘toughness’ to the Israeli public. As any observer of Israeli politics knows, war and adventurous military strikes are common tools used by Israeli leaders to streamline and shore up popular support. Indeed the bet appears to have paid off, as the new Israeli cabinet remains dominated by the right-wing.

The strike on Syria is no different.

It did not harm the Syrian regime’s military capabilities. It did not help the armed opposition groups fighting against the regime. It was not comprehensive, or followed by more strikes. It was, however, driven by domestic Israeli politics.

Conclusion: The Need for Patient Analysis

Admittedly, like most things relating to Syria these days, it is hard to have much confidence about analysis on the Israeli strike. While thoughtful critique should continue, it is important to recognize this fact and to take time to reflect critically on events before passing judgment.

Historical truth is, however, always a good place to start.

It is an indisputable fact that the Syrian regime has been part and parcel of the region’s system of control, with other dictatorships and monarchies desperately trying to hold back the wave of people power demanding self-determination and liberty from domestic and foreign oppression.

While Syria relationship with Israel may seem antagonistic, Syria has been a reliable partner for decades, unwilling to enter into any military dispute with Israel. It is a relationship the Israelis covet and are fearful of losing. The strike must be assessed against this backdrop. It is the only way to come as close to the truth as possible.

*Yazan al-Saadi is a staff writer at Muftah.

Media restrictions? 

Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar getting front seat observations…

As’ad AbuKhalil posted on June 20, 2012 under “Media restrictions and Al-Akhbar“:
I am sorry to see Max Blumenthal leave the daily Al-Akhbar.  But I have a few observations:
First, are there people who write for Al-Akhbar that I disagree with? Of course, just as there are people at Al-Akhbar (English and Arabic) who don’t like my views at all.  I know that some can’t stand me.  But I disagree with Max’s reasoning.  
Second, there were people who left Al-Akhbar in the last year, but it is not all about Syria.  There are new media in Lebanon and they are better funded than Al-Akhbar and they are luring journalists right and left, although some did leave on matters of principle.
Third, a few journalists left for media that are less critical of the Syrian regime or for media that are tied to right-wing or Saudi interests of for media that are critical of the Syrian regime but from a Lebanese right-wing and racist perspective.
I am not judgmental, especially if you are a journalist who wants to work in the Middle East.  
There are no perfect or even good alternatives damn it.   I just don’t like Max’s reference to the Nation magazine and support for Stalin.  The example implies that the Nation magazine is now perfect and without any problems.
If Max feels that Al-Akhbar is not courageous enough against the Syrian regime that does that mean that he thinks that the Nation magazine is courageous enough against the Israeli regime, or does he think that one lack of courage is worse than another?
Max, I noticed, did not complain at all about censorship because I believe he has the freedom to write what he wanted.  I believe that this is the strength of Al-Akhbar in relative terms: editorial control is most lax compared to all Arab media and even to Western media.
There are articles in Al-Akhbar Arabic and English that are very critical of the Syrian regime and that call for its overthrow.  
A few of Ibrahim Amin’s articles (including his last one on the topic) are also very critical of the regime, although he does not support its downfall.  But what is the alternative?  
I talk about this with Arab journalists.  There are people I know who left Al-Akhbar and went to work for media with far more restrictions and far more financial entanglements with oil and gas money.  
One has to make a decision for oneself of course.
If Max is unhappy to write alongside people who support the Syrian regime (with whom I disagree of course), how will he feel about writing for, say, Huffington Post where there are apologists for Israeli war crimes?  Or for
In the Huffington Post, Max is writing alongside Abe Foxman, for potato’s sake. Does that bother him? I am not saying that he should leave and I want to read him in both media.
What worries me is that the regime that the US happens to oppose at a particular point becomes worse than any other regime but for political reasons and not purely for human rights reason.  
I mean, support for Syrian regime is considered anathema nowadays, but not support for the Saudi or Bahraini or Jordanian or Mubarak regime.
Al-Akhbar is a work in progress and our efforts can strengthen the project.  It is at least centralized media that I know of and departments are quite independent (sometimes that is good and sometimes that is not but it is not tightly controlled like most Arab media).
Al-Akhbar Arabic and English have published many articles critical of the Syrian regime: just today there is a very strong article against the regime by none other than Salamah Kilah (who was recently arrested and tortured and expelled by the Syrian regime but I have to say that his article is so badly written that it is a mess, but the paper published it to provoke the Syrian regime, which is good).
There are yet things in the paper that I don’t like on Syria or on Lebanon, but what is important (and here is something that Max may not see because he does not read Arabic) is that the paper is pioneering on secularism and on challenging religious authorities (Sunnis and Shi`ite and Christian and even published an article about corruption of Hizbullah clerics).  
The culture section is promoting sexual liberties and homosexual rights: no other Arab media–NONE–dare do that.  If there is a freer and better alternative to Al-Akhbar, I don’t know it because there is none.
I believe that through our efforts we can and should strive to make the paper better and more daring and more critical.  I am staying.
PS And it occurred to me as I was swimming, which is more critical? Al-Akhbar on Syria or the Nation on Israel?  The answer is too obvious for me.

Good or bad? A tribute is a tribute: on late Ghassan Tueni

Ghassan Tueni, a famous Lebanese journalist, the owner of the daily Al Nahar (The Day), a politician, a deputy, a minister, a representative to the UN, a board founder of educational institutions…passed away on Friday June 8, 2012. He was 87 years old. And he was a heavy smoker.
For 10 days now, the daily Al Nahar is publishing tributes by hundreds of people. All the tributes published in Al Nahar and other dailies describe a “freedom loving leader” and very dedicated to freedom of expression and…

Tueni joined the Syria Social National Party (SSNP), the Lebanese branch, early on in his youth while the leader Antoun Saadeh was exiled in Argentina.  When Saadeh returned to Lebanon in 1947, he dismissed Tueni and scores of other leading members for transforming the party into a Lebanese party and not representative of the Syrian people (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Iraq).

Tueni published a scathing diatribe of the 24-hour mock trial that ended in the execution of Saadeh by a government of a pseudo-State that tacitly supported the creation of Israel.

Tueini later rejoined the party after Saadeh was executed and was elected deputy as a member of the SSNP in the 50s.

 Ghassan Tueni was sent to jail several times for his outspoken criticism of the performance of various governments in Lebanon.
Ghassan Tueni knew how to recruit talented journalists with different viewpoints. The journalists views were published complete in the daily, but the editorial line of the paper represented Tueni’s current political positions…
Al-Nahar was a leading Lebanese paper in the 1950s, 60s and 1970s, and contributed in the publishing of many valuable cultural periodicals such as “Fekr” (Research opinion) that canalized the free expressions of many intellectuals…

An-Nahar is no longer such a leading free opinion daily: people still think that it remains “leading” to this day…For example, Israeli scholars of the Arab world still cited Al-Hawadith magazine because they still think that it is as popular was it was back in the 1970s.

Tueni mimicked the successful journalistic formula of the US: the use of weekly supplements, the division into sections, the sensational use of pictures on the front page, and the introduction of technology when newspapers were very old-fashioned in the Arab world.

Tueni was mostly able to sustain the preeminence of his daily in Lebanon thanks to the financial support from Gulf countries and from other Western powers during the Cold War.

An-Nahar and its publishing houses were intensely involved in anti-communist propaganda during the Cold War. A book on the cultural Cold War in the Middle East would have a special section about An-Nahar.

Ghassan Tueni was made famous in the world community when he delivered a speech at the UN demanding “let my people live…” during the 17 year-long civil war.

Ghassan Tueni believed that the civil war was instigated and planned by foreign powers, (superpowers and regional powers), though the Lebanese people know that they were and still are dried branches, ready to burn for failure to reform and change their social/political structure since 1943…

A few people are angry for heaping all the good qualities and attributes on Ghassan Tueni.

As’ad AbuKhalil  posted on his blog Angry Corner on June 14 under “Ghassan Tueni: About the Tributes” (with slight editing):

“It is one thing to see the March 14 (Hariri and Saudi-funded) press in Lebanon paying tributes to Ghassan Tueni. But to see Western media talking about him is to be reminded about the extent of propaganda and its disconnection to reality.

When David Ignatius, for example, writes about Ghassan Tueni and his contribution to Arab media, you have to question if he knows what he’s talking about?

How can someone who does not know the language and culture of a region comment on press in that culture?

What is the value of my comments on Chinese media if I don’t know Chinese? That only shows that those are recycling conventional wisdom and established propaganda clichés.

The New York Times carried a glowing obituary of Tueni and singled him out as the most important Arab journalist. Funny, the New York Times even linked him to the “Arab spring” as if anyone in the new Arab generation followed his writings.

Who in Tunisia or Saudi Arabia knows who Ghassan Tueni is?

Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, for example – whether you like it or not – is known and read throughout the Arab world. Tueni never had that stature outside the Near East region.

Abdul-Bari Atwan is another Arab journalist who is known and read throughout the region, particularly due to his Al Jazeera appearances, but Tueni never enjoyed that kind of acclaim.

Sami Moubayed wrote another glowing tribute and claimed that Tueni was courageous about support for “freedom” – even Saddam spoke about the virtues of generic freedom.

Moubayed spoke about the courage of Tueni when the man was never known for his political courage and made peace with whoever dominated Lebanese politics (his son, Jubran was in fact outspoken against the Syrian regime).

For decades Al Nahar exhibited racist anti-Syrian rhetoric. But Western media don’t know better.

Elias Khoury in Al-Quds Al-Arabi even referred to Tueni as “revolutionary”. Various tributes talked about his love of “freedom”.

Yet, George Hawi (late assassinated communist leader) in his book published by Dar An-Nahar put it best: “Tueni supported freedom only when he was out of power, and only occasionally”.

Tueni is the champion of the counter-revolution in the Arab world. He has been aligned with the conservative Arab regional and international order throughout the decades. His paper was part of the propaganda devices of the US during the Cold War.

The paper was successful and effective in the 1960s up to the eruption of the Lebanese civil war in 1975.

Tueni, far from being a courageous critic of regimes, was aligned with successive regimes in Lebanon.

For example, Al-Nahar, under Tueni, praised President Bishara al-Khoury before belatedly joining the opposition, and it remained faithful to the terrible rule of President Camille Chamoun. It was critical of President Fouad Chehab but only on behalf of the right-wing coalition of the Hilf (“the alliance”) in the 1960s.

An-Nahar was aligned with the regime of Elias Sarkis and Tueni had the most influential political role in the administration of Amin Gemayyel – probably one of the worst and most corrupt administrations in contemporary Lebanese history.

People forgot (or pretended to forget) that Tueni served as the overall coordinator of the Lebanese-Israeli negotiations that produced the still-born May 17 Agreement. The paper never raised its voice against the repression of Amin Gemayyel.

When Ghassan’s son, late Jubran (assassinated), took over the paper, it no longer pretended to adhere to the cloak of journalistic objectivity. It became vulgar and sectarian, and played a partisan role in the Lebanese conflict.

Khouri talked about hiring leftists, but it would be more accurate to say that the Tuenis, father and son, only tolerated leftists after they become ex-leftists.

The ideology of the paper was unmasked even during the times of Ghassan. He said so in the book Sirr Al-Mihnah (“Trade Secret”): The three intellectual and political influences in his life were Charles Malek, Camille Chamoun, and Antoun Saadeh.

Malek and Chamoun inspired him all his life and he adhered to their conservative and right-wing agenda in the paper. His long time editor-in-chief, Louis al-Hajj, spoke of the services that the paper rendered to Pierre Gemayyel (founder of the right-wing Phalanges Party) and even revealed the sectarian mindset of the paper.

Tueni played an important political role in Lebanese politics and society. He promoted conservative and right-wing notions and themes under the guise of a liberal bourgeois framework. But he was always cautious politically and his editorials were only daring in favor of this traditional politician against that traditional politician.

In the Arab Cold War, Tueni’s paper earned tremendous financial benefits due to its stance in favor of the anti-communist coalition (Al-Hayat and An-Nahar were the voices of anti-communism and of the Arab regimes of oil and gas).

While the stature and political significance of the paper declined, it continued to do well financially. However, this was only due to a corrupt monopolistic scheme that its Lebanese Forces’ ally, Antoine Choueiri, arranged whereby most revenues from the ad market would end up at the paper at the expense of all other papers in Lebanon.

Tueni left an already insignificant newspaper. An-Nahar belongs to a bygone era. The arena is now taken over by new outlets and publications. But there is no denying that Tueni was influential a very long time ago”. End of As’ad AbuKhalil  post

Ghassan Tueiny shouldered his responsibilities when his dad died and his elder brother died and had to run a daily in young age.

He had a full-life.

He lost his brother. He lost all his three children, the latest was Jubran, assassinated.

He lost his first wife Nadia. He remarried at the age 70… How many of us can claim that we have a life?

Good or bad, a tribute is a tribute for an engaged and active life. Compassion and passionate occasions were plenty to disseminate and flow around…

Ghassan Tueini knew how to lead people and go the extra mile in sustaining a daily and its employees, train journalists and reporters and maintaining Lebanon a base for freedom of expression when dictatorial regimes all around forced their intellectuals to flee to greener pasture for free opinions…

When death becomes a game? I wish children are initiated to participate in funerals and grow normal as life unfolds.  Death will acquire more values as we learn not to fear it as a taboo…
When the dust will settle in Syria agony? As the dust settle, Syria society will undergo a long and frustrating period of re-educating its youth in the proper moral standing for respecting the Law and human dignity.
How long it takes to re-insert an adolescent of 15 in the fabric of society when he is willing to kill for $50 per person? Is it possible that the hundreds of “insurgents” who massacred babies will desist from repeating terrorist crimes? Can people who kidnapped and received money for their actions Not tend to repeat the lucrative business? ….

The daily Al Akhbar published under “Some Questions on the Houla Massacre…and Beyond” the post of As’ad AbuKhalil (Angry Corner blog) on May 31, 2012, (with slight editing):

“It is not known who perpetrated the Houla massacre. It is certain though that both sides (the army of the Syrian regime and the gangs operating under the banner of the Free Syrian Army) have a record of brutality and disregard for human lives to qualify them to do the job.

What is certain is that Houla was a propaganda blitz that dominated Western media and Arab (Saudi-funded and Qatari-funded) media. Does the “romanticizing” of the so-called “Syrian Revolution” (the deeds of the Free Syrian Army and Syrian National Council and the Muslim Brotherhood deserve the label of revolution?

This label is a reminder of George W. Bush deserving the Nobel Peace Prize as much as Bashar Assad deserves to serve as president of Syria or (terrorist late Israel PM Menahem Begin was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize…) and it clashes with the actual record of the armed groups operating under the umbrella of the FSA.

But it is time that we raise questions and we expose lies surrounding the Syrian uprising. Let us first remember that Western media basically surrender control of their editorial policies to their governments when they decide to go against a developing country.

We remember that few raised questions about the wisdom of forming an army of militant Muslims in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

The cause of what later produced al-Qaeda was championed. I remember Dan Rather in Afghan clothes riding a horse and reporting on the “heroes” of the fight against communism.

Lies and fabrications and exaggerations were the symptom of the coverage of Afghanistan at the time. And when the communist regime fell and was later replaced by the Taliban, there were no demands for accountability and no one asked Dan Rather if he ever met Bin Laden during his media stunt in Afghanistan.

When Western governments were preparing for the invasion of Libya (by the way, you were led to believe that only Qatari forces were on the grounds in Libya given their battle-tested experience), the West’s media yet again published unsubstantiated reports and claims about what was happening in Libya.

The same media that stood silent when all Western leaders groveled before Gaddafi, suddenly woke up to the reality of dictatorship in Libya. All sorts of claims were made: the number of 100,000 dead was thrown about casually (of course, it later proved to be untrue), and reports of foreign mercenary armies were a staple of the coverage (that was also untrue and the reports themselves fueled a racist anti-black campaign by the Libyan fighters after “liberation”).

Whatever happened to that woman who made that claim about being raped by Gaddafi’s soldiers? Why was she deported from Qatar and what became of her? No one asked, and the media turned the page and started another campaign.

It should be mentioned that some decent journalists may feel pressured to toe the line not only by the conventional wisdom of the establishment around them, but also because the regime (whether in Libya or in Syria) is an awful dictatorial regime that does not deserve to last one day longer.

It should be stressed that the well-funded (mostly by Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia) press offices of the exile Syrian opposition constantly and daily feed the Western media a large supply of lies, exaggerations, fabrications, and wild scenarios.

These media offices (like the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – and for everything else that propaganda requires) never have to account for their information or claims.

They provide names of people inside Syria and Western correspondents merely Skype with them. Those are the same names that are provided by the press offices of the Syrian exile opposition merely confirm or reiterate or repeat verbatim whatever is being said by the exile offices.

There have been videos shown on Youtube (the favorite source for Western media on Syria) in which injuries are faked and children are coached to speak about their experiences. All that never makes it into Western media.

Even the obvious lies never get challenged. From very early on, there were many lies spread that have yet to be exposed.

For months, Syrian opposition exile groups insisted that there were no armed opposition groups and they stressed that their movement is purely peaceful (and when pictures of armed men were displayed, they were dismissed as enemy propaganda).

Yet, suddenly and without explanation, the same groups started to brag about and praise the armed opposition groups who ostensibly were leading a purely peaceful revolution.

The propaganda agenda was clearly exhibited with the various statements (especially by exile opposition figures in Western and Saudi media) to the effect that the Syrian regime is being assisted by fighters from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah, and the Mahdi Army.

The sectarian motives were obvious, and no one asked the basic logical questions. Why would an army experienced in shooting at its own people resort to the assistance of Hezbollah fighters who are trained in fighting the Israeli army? What kind of assistance would Hezbollah fighters bring to the picture? And why would the large Syrian Army need additional men?

The notion that the Syrian army would need the Mahdi Army (which is always appropriately described in the Western press as the “rag-tag” army) was not dismissed. The Western media promoted those accusations although the “evidence” that was often talked about on TV never materialized, despite the kidnapping of Iranian civilians in Syria.

It is likely that Russian special forces assisted the Syrian Army in Baba Amr (according to one of my sources) but that is never mentioned in the press because Russia is not a Shia country.

Similarly, the Syrian exile opposition also duped the Western press (and Western audiences in workshops, conferences, and panels) to think that the Syrian uprising is led by liberal peaceful feminists (and they would often name a woman or two), and would insist that the Muslim Brotherhood has nothing to do with the uprising in Syria.

By now we should know better. Various leading figures in the Syrian National Council admitted belatedly that indeed the Muslim Brotherhood is running the show, and only after a year of the uprising did some in the Western press publish articles about the influence and clout of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Al Houla story is still murky. No one knows what happened. We know that there are innocent civilians who were killed. We know that both sides are exchanging accusations and we know that both sides are habitual liars. But we can raise some questions:

1. Why have the Western media ignored stories of kidnappings and killings of civilians by the gangs of Free Syrian Army (which is merely a name used by a variety of gangs and bands coinciding largely with Islamist ideology ( and in some cases labelled Bin Ladenite)?

2. Why were there no attempts made at deconstructing the stories spread by the exile Syrian opposition? Initially, they claimed that the Syrian Army killed those civilians by shelling. It was only the other day when the UN stated that less than 20 were killed by the shelling (and the 20 are not a small number and they should be added to the disgraceful list of crimes committed by the regime that should be overthrown and brought to justice), and that most were killed at close range. There were claims of knife attacks but it seems that most were shot.

3. Why was there an attempt to make it as though the Houla massacre was a sectarian crime (by Shia/Alawis against Sunnis) when it is emerging that maybe a third of the victims were Shia?

Were there any sectarian killings going on in the region in the days preceding the massacre? Why has there not been in the Western press any reference to the sectarian kidnappings (by Salafi armed groups in Daraa comprising even some Libyans according to Al-Akhbar correspondent who visited the scene) against Druze in the Suweida region (the Druze, in turn, kidnapped people from Daraa before the matter was resolved and hostages exchanged?

4. Why did the media not notice that the Free Syrian Army, the Syrian National Council, and the Muslim Brotherhood all admitted that they were in touch with the sectarian group that kidnapped the Lebanese Shia pilgrims?

In fact, famed liberal Syrian dissident, Haytham al-Malih, told a newspaper owned by a Saudi prince (Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat) that he supported the kidnapping and called on the kidnappers to not release the pilgrims.

Is it possible to believe the story that was told: “Shia and Alawis who reside in a predominantly Sunni area decided to suddenly turn against the majority and butcher them”?

And how did the surviving victims know the sectarian identity of their killers? Well, according to the Neil MacFarquhar, they bizarrely told them, “we are shabbiha.” They all but left pictures of Bashar Assad behind them.

Another story (wildly circulated on Twitter) has a more bizarre twist: apparently, the killers had “Shia slogans written on their foreheads” (the story was written by a Western reporter and then circulated by Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (who will soon direct a news station owned by the Prince Al-Walid bin Talal).

You can sense that Nazi style bigotry is dominating the coverage and that sectarian armed groups are purposefully fanning the flames of sectarian hatred. Civil war is no more a danger in Syria. It is a matter of a policy eagerly sought by Salafi groups and their sponsors in the Gulf countries.

This does not settle it. We still don’t know what happened in Houla. But a healthy dosage of skepticism is in order in the case of Syria especially as Western governments seems to pushing in the direction of military intervention.

There are many sides of the story. And the Western media persist on covering one side of the story. (Neil MacFarquhar flat-out lied when he claimed twice in the New York Times that Syrian TV does not mention the armed clashes in Syria).

To be sure, both sides can’t be believed and their claims can’t be taken at face value, but it is high time that real investigation of the Syrian story be undertaken by people who are not beholden to governments – East or West.” End of article

Note: You may read my first article as the Syrian uprising started:

One-sided Non-violent revolution: Even in “democratic” systems?

Claiming to be in revolt connote a change in political system.  Any political party claiming to be against a political system is tantalizing to think of as a “revolutionary” party.  For example, an extremist Islamic party abhorring a communist system can claim to be “revolutionary”.  Consequently, being a revolutionary does not necessarily lead to any kind of association with programs targeted to be for the well-being of communities…

It is the social and economic programs, detailed and engaged among communities, that project the necessity for reforms, based on the deficiencies of the current system from recreating and revising programs which are demonstrating to be short of breath for any significant improvement and development.

Apparently, the documentary “How to Start a Revolution” by Ruaridh Arrow was screened at the Zionist Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University.  It comes at a time when Foreign Policy magazine has decided that Gene Sharp “has inspired Arab spring protesters.”

The New York Times decided—without any evidence whatsoever—that Gene Sharp has inspired a non-violent revolution throughout the Arab world. Can anyone claim that governments in any of the revolutions, anywhere, never used and abused of violence against mass demonstrators, marchers, extended sit-ins…?  Do thousands of revolted citizens who were killed, injured, humiliated, rounded up and put in jails, teargazed…didn’t submit to violence?

Can anyone who joined “Occupy Wall Street” protest in the scores of US cities claim that violence was not their daily staple by police forces?  Can we claim that a revolt was non-violent simply because the masses of political disobedience were the only party refraining from using arms, clubs, teargas, camels…?

No, the Arab uprisings have not been non-violent at all: the Egyptian people revolted violently in Suez and other places, and attacked government buildings,offices of Hosni Mubarak’s party. police stations throughout the country, and offices of Hosni Mubarak’s party…

The Libyan uprising degenerated, with NATO intervention, into multiple wars inside Libya, and is turning more vicious after Qadhafi assassination, though the news media refrain from covering this insidious tacit civil war…

In Tunisia, the rebels also attacked government buildings…and the violence has not subsided yet…

In Yemen, the killing and violence from both sides didn’t subside and has turned to an ugly civil war…

What about Bahrain were the Gulf Arab “States” and Western medias are doing their best to not cover the continuing atrocities committed by these self-appointed absolute monarchs…?

In Syria, the situation is now regularly labeled a “civil war.”

Changing a political system is not the same as gradually reforming a system, through unbiased election laws, and unbiased media coverage that usually favor the power-to-be system…Even lukewarm reform demands are confronted with blood and flesh by the system in order to sending “strong messages” that law and order is the sin-qua of any dominant system…

 As’ad AbuKhalil, in his blog “Angry Corner”, wrote on Dec. 2, under “The Delusions of Gene Sharp How to Start a Revolution”:

“Sharp disturbingly has no problem promoting his influence. He starts the movie by talking about the oft-used evidence of the spread of his ideas: that his books have been translated into more than 30 languages. He keeps talking about the translation of one of his books (prominently featured in the film) into Arabic.

This claim is dishonest: Sharp knows that his books were not translated through the initiative of Arab fans. They were translated by his own Einstein Institution, through external funding provided to his organization.

Jamila Raqib (who was featured in the film as his devotee) contacted me a few years ago when the Institution funded the translation of the books. They asked me to supervise the translation process and verify the accuracy. The books were too uninteresting for me, and I turned down the job and I referred them to a friend.

How could Sharp convince himself that the translation of his work into multiple languages is evidence of his influence when he knows that he himself commissioned the translation of his own work?

Politically speaking, Sharp has been working largely in sync with US foreign policy goals. He promoted his non-violent agenda against the communist governments during the Cold War, and his partner (a former US army General) talked about his work under the tutelage of the Republican International Institute.

If Sharp is keen on promoting non-violence, why does he not preach non-violence to the US government which practices more violence than most countries of the world? And why has Sharp preached non-violence to Palestinians but not to Israelis? His project of non-violence seems in the interest of the most violent governments in the world today.”

Can we dismiss the theory of Gene Sharp’s so-called inspiration the non-violent nature of the “Arab spring” uprising? What does the documentary “How to Start A Revolution” say?

AbuKhalil resumes: “It is not easy to finish the movie: there is no story, really. It focuses on Gene Sharp in his old age, in his house in Massachusetts. In the basement of the house works the executive director of his Albert Einstein Institution.  Director Sharp struggles to make his case, and the movie has the feel of a promotional movie of a cult.

The movie could not provide any evidence of Sharp’s influence. Consequently, it invites four men to confirm that Sharp has inspired revolution. One man is from Serbia, and another from Georgia, and one is from Egypt, and the fourth, a Syrian from London.

Each one of the four was tasked with providing a testimonial (clearly under prodding from the interviewer behind the camera) to the effect that “yes, Sharp inspired the revolution”.  That was it. The film was crude in contrasting images of revolutions and protests with a close up of Gene Sharp’s face in his house.

And the movie claimed falsely that governments around the world have been attacking Gene Sharp’s works due to his influence. Sharp himself, without any evidence, claimed that the Russian government set on fire two printing presses because they carried his books. The film claimed that protesters in Iran were convicted on following the instructions of Sharp — and again no evidence was presented.

The second part of the movie focuses on the Egyptian and Syrian cases.

In the Egyptian case, the movie brings in a guy and introduces him to us as “a leader of the Egyptian revolution.” I personally have never heard of the guy, but you had to believe that he is the leader of the revolution. This Egyptian “leader” said: “yes, Sharp inspired the Egyptian revolution”.

The Syrian guy, Ussama Munajjid, was even funnier. He lives in London but the film introduced him as a  “leader” of the Syrian revolution. We saw him in his office uploading footage from cameras that he “had placed” all over the country, as the film alleges. If this guy’s testimonial was not enough, he was flown to Boston to be filmed while listening to Sharp’s advice.

It is not difficult to mock the writings of Sharp. His instructions for revolution are too basic and common-sensical to be credited to Sharp. The film even suggests that he was behind the idea of beating pots and pans in Serbia, when Latin Americans have engaged in this form of protests for decades, long before Sharp’s books were translated (at his own initiative) to Spanish.

Sharp suggests that protesters should wave flags, as if they did not think of that prior to the publication of Sharp’s books!

The message of Sharp in the film is condescending and patronizing, although his firm belief in his own international influence has a tinge of self-delusion. He believes that he — the White Man — alone knows what is the best course of action for people around the world. He preaches to Arabs that they were wrong in insisting on the resignation of the leader: he urges that the downfall of the government be stressed instead, as if Arab popular chants did not aim at that.

Sharp (or his one Egyptian fan in the film) may have not heard of the nine bombings of the Egyptian pipeline to Israel. That was not in any of Sharp’s books.” End of quote




February 2023

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