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Posts Tagged ‘Juan Cole

Responding to President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem announcement.

Hanan Ashrawi, Rashid Khalidi, Shibley Telhami, Juan Cole and Mark Perry respond to President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem announcement.

Telling the truth for 35 years.
Published to help provide the American public with balanced and accurate information concerning U.S. relations with Middle Eastern states.
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What is this  “4th Amendment Exemption Zone”? Two-Thirds of Americans Live in… 

Josh Sager, The Progressive Cynic, posted on January 6, 2014 (and selected as one of today’s posts)

Two-Thirds of Americans Live in the 4th Amendment “Exemption Zone”

Last week, Judge Edward Korman—a Reagan appointee to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York—confirmed that federal authorities can search the electronic devices of any American within 100 miles of any border without the need to obtain a warrant.

The Abidor et al v. Napolitano et al case, which Judge Korman just dismissed in favor of the government, focused upon warrantless searches of laptops without suspicion at the border.

In this case, an American student was stopped at the border after traveling to several Middle Eastern countries and was forced to unlock/surrender his laptop computer.

Despite the fact that nothing illegal was found on the computer, it still took nearly two weeks for Abidor to recover his laptop (which held the only copy of his thesis paper).

While dismissing this case, Judge Korman conceded to the government’s assertion that there is a 100 miles zone inland from every international border where federal authorities to have the ability to search and seize digital devices without warrant or cause—his only caveat to this concession was that

“if suspicionless forensic computer searches at the border threaten to become the norm, then some threshold showing of reasonable suspicion should be required.”

aclu

In short, if you live in or are traveling through the orange-shaded portion of this map, it would be legal for federal authorities to stop you, force you to give them the password for your laptop, and seize your files—no warrant would be needed and there would be no certainty that you would ever recover your files or your digital devices.

Due to the geography of the United States, the 100-mile exemption zone for searches has the potential to circumvent the 4th Amendment protections for a significant majority of the American people.

In addition to the fact that many major population centers lie within 100 miles of the coast, several states are entirely covered by this zone (ex. Florida, Maine, Vermont, and Connecticut).

The Border Exemption

Federal authorities have the ability to search people who wish to enter the United States—this authority is written into federal law and has been confirmed by the Supreme Court.

Border Biometrics

Under the provisions of federal law which outline the powers of border officials (8 USC § 1357), federal agents have the power to perform warrantless searches within a “reasonable distance” of the US border.

The term “reasonable distance” is defined under Attorney General’s regulation 8 CFR § 287.1 as “within 100 air miles from any external boundary of the United States.”

Several Supreme Court cases (ex. Almeida-Sanchez v. US and US v. Montoya De Hernandez) have upheld this “border exemption” to the 4th Amendment as a function of national sovereignty.

In 1979, the Supreme Court decision Torres v. Puerto Rico included a succinct explanation of the justification for the border exemption:

“The authority of the United States to search the baggage of arriving international travelers is based on its inherent sovereign authority to protect its territorial integrity. By reason of that authority, it is entitled to require that whoever seeks entry must establish the right to enter and to bring into the country whatever he may carry.”

In 2008, this exemption zone was expanded by the Supreme Court to include the search of digital devices in addition to physical baggage by the US v. Arnold ruling.

americanprogress

When past case law is synthesized with current federal law, the result is the federal government asserting the right to search the digital devices and vehicles of any American within 100 miles of a border, without having to get a warrant or show reasonable suspicion that the person in question is committing a crime.

Conclusion

Judge Korman’s ruling in Abidor v. Napolitano et al is just the most recent manifestation of creep in the federal government’s ability to circumvent constitutional protections.

By classifying entire states and cities as border zones, federal authorities are able to get around the 4th Amendment in a way that would likely horrify the authors of the Constitution—after all, at the time of this country’s founding, almost everybody lived along the coasts and this 100-mile “exemption zone.”

The search and seizure powers that the government is asserting (and the courts are confirming) create the perfect situation for abuse. It is unlikely that large numbers of random people will have their digital devices seized by the government, but it is highly likely that this power will be used to target those who challenge the status quo.

Theoretically, the federal government could seize the digital devices and data of a reporter like Glenn Greenwald if he was visiting a coastal city like New York for a conference with other reporters or a meeting with sources.

Federal agents could stop Greenwald in his hotel lobby, take his computer, and mine it for information on sources, contacts, and future stories. Because of the border exemption, neither the 4th Amendment protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, nor the 1st Amendment protections on the press would help Greenwald.

In addition to threatening journalist, these searches and seizures are a threat to political activists (ex. people protesting corruption), academics who have ideas that are not popular to those in power (ex. Professor Juan Cole during the War on Iraq) and even political candidates who threaten the already powerful (Joseph McCarthy would have loved these searches).

Shredding-the-Constitution

Unless the courts side with civil rights groups over the national security apparatus, we will wake up one day and face the fact that our constitutional protections are just words on a page that no longer have any real meaning.

Today, the government may claim that the 4th Amendment must be circumvented in these zones for security and expedience, but what about tomorrow?

If it is okay to curtail the 4th Amendment in these zones, then what is stopping the same argument being used to attack the 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments in these zones tomorrow?

Put simply, the assertion that entire cities and states are “exemption zones” for constitutional protections is nothing more than an end-run around the Constitution and something that no honest jurist should support or condone.

The Arab Political Crisis: It isn’t a Matter of Civilization and it isn’t Unique

Hisham Melhem has a piece on what he calls the collapse of Arab civilization.

The piece is riddled with contradictions and fuzzy thinking and with all due respect to Milhem, who is a knowledgeable and experienced correspondent, I am going to disagree with it vehemently.

I think he is arguing that Arabs bear a moral burden for the atrocities being committed in the region, and that they cannot duck it by blaming regional problems on European colonialism or the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Juan Cole posted on Sept. 21, 2014

Let’s take the 22 Arab League members (which include for political reasons non-Arabic-speaking countries like Somalia and Djibouti). There is nothing wrong with their civilization.

In the past 50 years, Arabic-speakers have gone from being perhaps 80% rural to being 80% urban. (There are still some significantly rural Arab countries like Egypt and Syria but even there the urban-dwellers are a majority).

Even Saudi Arabia, which a century ago had a lot of pastoral nomads, is now as urban as the United States.

They have gone from being largely illiterate to being, especially at the level of 15-30 year-olds largely literate.

The proportion with high school and college educations has skyrocketed. They have access to world news through satellite television.

Civilizationally, the average Arab today is way ahead of her parents and grandparents.

Obviously, the states of the Arab world are undergoing important transitions and some have collapsed. But state collapse is not the same thing as civilizational collapse, nor caused by it (whatever “civilization” is).

Why the states are collapsing is a good question for social science, but it isn’t the moral failing that Milhem makes it out to be, nor is it unique. I’d look at the following:

1. Demography.

The Arab world is full of states that have had relatively high rates of population growth for 150 years. I have a hypothesis that this population boom is related to global warming, which also began in earnest about 150 years ago, and which may have reduced pandemics in the region which we know were common and cyclical in the medieval and early modern period (“plague”).

Tunisia underwent a demographic transition and began leveling off, but most of the rest continue to have high birth rates (Egypt began to level off in 2005 but apparently the instability of the last three years has caused a new baby boom).

High rates of population growth can contribute to instability if there aren’t enough jobs for the waves of young people coming on the job market every year.

Gross Domestic Product is a matter of long division. So if the population grows 3% in a year, and the economy grows 3 percent, the per capita increase in GDP that year zero. Go on like that for decades and you’ll have economic and social stagnation. This is why China’s one-child policy was so smart. You couldn’t have had the post-1980 take-off in the same way if the rate of population growth had been like Egypt’s.

Is it an accident that the two countries that began undergoing a demographic transition in the 1970s, Tunisia and Turkey, are the two more stable ones in the region?

2. Productivity.

Most Arab states were under European colonialism in the 19th and until the mid-20th century. No colonial administration was interested in promoting industrialization (in contrast, e.g., to Meiji Japan, which was independent and cared about Japan’s place in the world).

Arab countries after WW II were mostly agricultural and poor. Some 80% of Iraqis were landless laborers and 2500 families had the best land, and a lion’s share of it, in 1958.

While there has been some state-led industrialization, about half of Syria’s population is still rural. Farming has low rates of productivity gain. And most urban workers are in services, which also aren’t characterized by much increase in productivity. High population growth plus low productivity growth equals economic and social stagnation.

3. The distortions of the oil economies.

Urbanization in Egypt, e.g., may have stalled out since the 1970s because workers that might have gone to labor in factories in Egyptian cities instead went to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE. When and if they returned with savings, they often returned to their villages and opened a shop or other small business. The oil economies of the Gulf also drew off the more enterprising teachers and engineers.

Oil economies have hardened currencies because of the value of their primary commodity, which makes made goods expensive and harms handicrafts, industry and agriculture because export markets like India can’t afford these goods if they are denominated in a hard currency. (This phenomenon is known as the Dutch disease because the Netherlands suffered from it in the early 1970s when its natural gas industry took off).

Also, having small but enormously wealthy and authoritarian states like Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE and Saudi Arabia in the region is destabilizing. They spread money around to support their factions, who then fall to fighting and have the wealth to buy good weapons.

4. Aridity and climate change.

The Arab world lies in a longstanding Arid Zone stretching from Morocco to the Gobi Desert. Much of this region cannot engage in rainfall agriculture and depends on irrigation. But climate change is producing increased aridity over time, with long-term droughts. The collapse of Syria is certainly caused in some important part by climate change. Egypt also has a water crisis, and in villages in Upper Egypt protests over insufficient water were part of the unrest during the 2011 revolution and after.

These sorts of causes have contributed to the difficulties the Arab world faces, not moral or civilizational deterioration. Of course, state collapse can create a social maelstrom in which horrific groups like ISIL can grow up. But they are typically caused by the other factors and attendant instability and displacement. They aren’t the original cause of anything themselves.

Nor are the Arabs alone even in the region. The brutality and disproportionate force deployed by the Israeli army in Gaza is another form of barbarism.

Singling out the Arab world is unfair. Spain came to be ruled from 1936 by a fascist military dictatorship, which lasted into the 1970s. The exemplar of civilization, the country of Goethe and Schelling– Germany– went fascist in the 1930s. Italy likewise had a fascist government from the 1920s, and it was overthrown by an American invasion, not by Italians alone.

Even in the past decade, Italy was demoted by Freedom House from being a first-tier democracy because of the corrupt and authoritarian practices of PM Silvio Berlusconi (journalists working for his media, and he owned a lot of it, were coerced to report positively on him). It is not at all clear that Europe would have ended up democratic, or would have done so quickly after the War, if left to its own devices.

What we think of democratic practices were imposed on Western Europe by the US. (Don’t believe that opinion. It is the way around)

Southeast Asia had its own difficulties transitioning from being agricultural and colonial to being independent, urban and industrial. Indonesia polished off hundreds of thousands of –some say a million– Communists in 1965.

Vietnam was in turmoil for decades and then turned to one-party dictatorship, remaining desperately poor.

Laos and Cambodia were destabilized by the American war in Vietnam. Of the 7.5 million Cambodians in 1975, about 25% were murdered in the Khmer Rouge genocide, i.e. about 1.88 million.

There isn’t any Arab country where a percentage of the population (25%) has been killed, similar to Cambodia.

The Algerian Revolution (1954-1962) cost between 500,000 and 1 million lives in a population of 11 million, but a large proportion of these were killed by French troops.

The Lebanese Civil War (1975-1989) probably killed about 100,000 out of 4 million, or 2.5 percent.

The Iran-Iraq War (1981-1989) probably left 250,000 Iraqis (some say twice that) dead, out of 16 million, with similar numbers of Iranian casualties.

The Arab-Israeli Wars, most of them Israeli pre-emptive wars, horrible as they were, were relatively low-casualty affairs as wars go– with casualties on the Arab side in the tens of thousands. Tunisia wasn’t involved in a war after WWII.

The US invasion and occupation of Iraq, which destabilized that country, resulted in excess mortality of between 200,000 and a million, in a population of 30 million since 2003 (and despite Melhem, I think we know whose fault this latter was).

One could also compare to Africa.

I won’t go into the massive destabilization and loss of life in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, whose destabilization began with Belgian policy that killed half the population. Over 5 million have died because of instability (and related disease) in DRC since 1995.

The fact is that European colonialism and neocolonialism has had a demonstrably destabilizing effect on the region. But Milhem is right that there are lots of other contributing causes. They aren’t, however, the ones he points to. Population growth, the shape of the economy, and resource-poverty (especially in water, which he mentions with regard to Yemen but only as a jeremiad) are all implicated.

Melhem’s piece stands in a very long tradition. After the fall of Baghdad in 1258 to the Buddhist and animist Mongol armies, many Muslim intellectuals concluded that God was angry at the Muslims for having become decadent, and so delivered them into the hands of the infidels from the East for punishment.

But the Mongol invasions were not a moral failing of the people of Iran and Iraq. They resulted in some important part from the sophistication of Mongol warfare.

Don’t beat yourself up so much, Hisham.

By the way, some of this is explained in my new book:

The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East

 

Meet the Muslims who sacrificed themselves to save Jews and fight Nazis in World War II
Given recent history, it’s a story that deserves retelling.

Note: For over a century, Muslems were ignored and dehumanized. It got worse after the Soviet troops vacated Afghanistan in 1989. Since then, Muslems were viewed by the west as “terrorists”. Obama is trying to say “Muslems are not representative of ISIS or Daesh since these extremist factions have no religion. This is the same mantra for all religions: the terrorists are the “black sheep“.

The following article is basically trying to wrap Muslems as forming an entity, regardless of their various initial nationalities they are from.

Michael Wolfe published this September 8, 2014

Britain issues a stamp to commemorate Khan. (Courtesy of the Royal Mail)

Noor Inayat Khan led a very unusual life. She was born in 1914 to an Indian Sufi mystic of noble lineage and an American half-sister of Perry Baker, often credited with introducing yoga into America.

As a child, she and her parents escaped the chaos of revolutionary Moscow in a carriage belonging to Tolstoy’s son. Raised in Paris in a mansion filled with her father’s students and devotees, Khan became a virtuoso of the harp and the veena, dressed in Western clothes, graduated from the Sorbonne and published a book of children’s tales — all before she was 25.

One year later, in May 1940, the Germans occupied Paris. Khan, her mother, and a younger brother and sister fled like millions of others, catching the last boat from Bordeaux to England, where she immediately joined the British war effort. In 1942, she was recruited by Churchill’s elite Special Operations Executive (SOE) to work in Paris as a wireless operator. Her clandestine efforts supported the French Underground as England prepared for the D-Day invasions. Among SOE agents, the wireless operator had the most dangerous job of all, because the occupation authorities were skilled at tracking their signals. The average survival time for a Resistance telegrapher in Paris was about six weeks.

Khan’s service continued from June 1943 until her capture and arrest by the Gestapo in October. Her amazing life and eventual murder in Germany’s Dachau prison camp in September 1944 are the focus of a PBS film I co-produced that is airing this week. In researching her story, I came across quite a number of other Muslims who bravely served the Allied cause — and sometimes made the ultimate sacrifice. History is rich with examples of their daring heroism and split-second decisions that helped defeat the Nazis.

Behic Erkin, the Turkish ambassador in Paris, provided citizenship papers and passports to thousands of Jews (many with only distant claims to Turkish connections) and arranged their evacuation by rail across Europe. One fateful day, Necdet Kent, the Turkish consul-general in Marseille, stymied the shipment of 80 Turkish Jews to Germany by forcing his way onto a train bearing them to their likely death and arranging for their return, unharmed, to France.

Abdol-Hossein Sardari used his position at the Iranian consulate in Paris to help thousands of Jews evade Nazi capture. Later dubbed the Iranian Schindler, he convinced the occupying Germans that Iranians were Aryans and that the Jews of Iran had been Iranian since the days of Cyrus the Great — and, therefore, should not be persecuted. Then he issued hundreds of Iranian passports to non-Iranian Jews and saved their lives.

Ahmed Somia, the Tunisian co-director of the French Muslim Hospital outside Paris, organized weapon caches, facilitated Resistance radio transmissions, treated wounded Resistance fighters, and helped save many downed U.S. and British pilots by hiding them in fake T.B. wards where Gestapo and French gendarmes feared to go.

Khan was posthumously decorated with the highest British and French civilian and military honors, but so were other Muslims, including standout heroes among the 2.5 million British Indian troops fighting Axis forces around the globe.

In this largest volunteer army in recorded history, Muslims (roughly one-third of the force), like Hindus and Buddhists, played prominent roles.

In a letter to President Roosevelt during the war, Churchill pointed out that Muslim soldiers were providing “the main army elements on which we [the British] must rely for the immediate fighting.”

In 1944-45, the French Army of Africa, joined to de Gaulle’s Free French Forces, was expanded to 260,000 men, of whom 50% were North African, the great majority being Muslim, while another substantial group were Senegalese Muslim riflemen. These forces invaded Italy and helped liberate southern France.

According to American historian Juan Cole, fighting these dark-skinned Africans in “Aryan” Europe, and losing to them, dismayed many German soldiers steeped in trumped-up theories of racial inferiority.

Eastern Europe offered more examples.

In the Balkans, for instance, only 200 Jews lived in Albania before WWII. Yet by war’s end, almost 2,000 Jews lived in the country, because so many had fled Greece, Austria and other locations in Europe to take shelter there among the predominantly Muslim population, which hid and protected them.

As Cole wrote elsewhere, commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day: “While a few Muslims did support the Axis, out of resentment of Western colonialism and hopes that the rise of an alternative power center would aid their quest for independence, they were tiny in their numbers compared to the Muslims who not just supported the Allies… but actively fought on their behalf.
Games – Click Here for More!

One of the jobs of documentary film is to rescue stories that fall out of the history books.

Khan’s account, and others like it, seems at odds with the history of the modern Middle East, whose combatants — whether Arab, Turkish, Iranian or Israeli — may want for their own reasons to bury stories about Muslim-Jewish collaboration.

But these tales should be remembered and honored. It is my sincere hope that with the story of Noor Inayat Khan, we have done just that.

“Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story” will air on PBS stations nationwide on Tuesday, September 9th. Viewers should check their local listings.

(Michael Wolfe is a poet and the co-founder of Unity Productions Foundation. His latest film is “Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story.” He is also author of “The Hadj: An American’s Pilgrimage to Mecca.”

Three and a half years ago, the world was riveted by massive crowds of youths mobilizing in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to demand an end to Egypt’s dreary police state. We watched transfixed as a movement first ignited in Tunisia spread from one part of Egypt to another, and then from country to country across the region.

Before it was over, 4 presidents-for-life had been toppled and the region’s remaining dictators were unsettled.

Some 42 months later, in most of the Middle East and North Africa, the bright hopes for more personal liberties and an end to political and economic stagnation championed by those young people have been dashed.

Instead, some Arab countries have seen counterrevolutions, while others are engulfed in internecine conflicts and civil wars, creating Mad Max-like scenes of postapocalyptic horror.

But keep one thing in mind: The rebellions of the last three years were led by Arab millennials, by young people who have decades left to come into their own. Don’t count them out yet.

Given the short span of time since Tahrir Square, it is far too soon to predict where these massive movements will end. During the “Prague Spring” of 1968,  a young dissident playwright, Vaclav Havel, took to the airwaves on Radio Free Czechoslovakia and made a name for himself as Soviet tanks approached. But then, after a Russian invasion crushed the uprising, Havel had to seek work in a brewery, forbidden to stage his plays.

That wasn’t the end of the story, however. Two decades later, after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Havel became the first president of the Czech Republic.

Or consider the French Revolution: Three and a half years after the storming of the Bastille, the country was facing a pro-royalist uprising in the Vendee, south of the Loire Valley, a conflict that ultimately left more than 100,000 (and possibly as many as 450,000) people dead.

And let’s remember that a decade passed between the Boston Tea Party and the American victory in the Revolutionary War.

There are, of course, plenty of reasons for pessimism in the medium-term in the Middle East. But when it comes to youth revolutions, it’s a pretty good bet that most of their truest accomplishments will come decades later.

The young Arabs who made the recent revolutions are, in fact, distinctive: substantially more urban, literate, media-savvy and wired than their parents and grandparents. They are also somewhat less religiously observant, though still deeply polarized between nationalists and devotees of political Islam.

And keep in mind that the median age of the 370 million Arabs on this planet is only 24, about half that of graying Japan or Germany. While India and Indonesia also have big youth populations, Arab youth suffer disproportionately from the low rates of investment in their countries and staggeringly high unemployment rates. They are primed for action.

Analysts have tended to focus on the politics of the Arab youth revolutions and so have missed the more important, longer-term story of a generational shift in values, attitudes and mobilizing tactics.

The youth movements were, in part, intended to provoke the holding of genuine, transparent elections, and yet the millennials were too young to stand for office when they happened. This ensured that actual politics would remain dominated by older Arab baby boomers, many of whom are far more interested in political Islam or praetorian authoritarianism.

The first wave of writing about the revolutions of 2011 discounted or ignored religion because the youth movements were predominantly secular and either liberal or leftist in approach. When those rebellions provoked elections in which Muslim fundamentalists did well, a second round of books lamented a supposed “Islamic Winter.”

Yet, in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has been ousted (albeit through a reassertion of power by the military).

In Libya, Muslim fundamentalist candidates could not get a majority in parliament in 2012.

Even in Tunisia, where the religious right formed the first postrevolution government, it was able to rule only in coalition with secularists and leftists.

As they wait their time, many of the millennial activists who briefly turned the Arab world upside down and provoked so many changes are putting their energies into nongovernmental organizations, thousands of which have flowered, barely noticed. Others continue to coordinate with labor unions to promote the welfare of the working classes.

In this way, they are learning valuable organizational skills that — count on it — will one day be applied to politics.

Their dislike of nepotism, narrow cliques and ethnic or sectarian rule has already had a lasting effect on the politics of the Arab world.

And two or three decades from now, the twentysomethings of Tahrir Square and the Casbah in Tunis and Martyrs’ Square in Tripoli will, like the Havels of the Middle East, come to power as politicians.

We haven’t heard the last of the Middle East’s millennial generation.

Juan Cole is director of the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Michigan and the author of “The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East.” A longer version of this piece appears on tomdispatch.com.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

 

 

Iraqi Government Losing Control of Border Crossings and Syria extending a hand by bombing towns on the Syrian/Iraqi borders that fell in ISIS (Da3esh) control.

ISIS fighters captured the border crossing at Qaim on Friday. Over the weekend, the group appeared to be trying to seize the remaining Iraqi government controlled border crossings with Syria and Jordan. RELATED ARTICLE »

Sources: Caerus AssociatesLong War JournalInstitute for the Study of War

ISIS partial or complete control   Contested    Recent fighting

Al Waleed There were unconfirmed reports that government forces had fled. Frightened police officers, reached by telephone, said that the army had already left and that the police scattered when militants arrived. Qaim ISIS captured this crossing on Friday. Bukamal, on the Syrian side, was also out of government control, with groups including the Free Syrian Army and Al Nusra Front maintaining a strong presence. Rabia Kurdish forces secured this crossing following the fall of Mosul. Yaroubia, on the Syrian side, is controlled by Kurdish forces of a different political affiliation.

Consequences of Sectarian Violence on Baghdad’s Neighborhoods

Baghdad became highly segregated in the years after the American-led invasion of Iraq.

The city’s many mixed neighborhoods hardened into enclaves along religious and ethnic divisions. 

These maps, based on the work of Michael Izady for Columbia University’s Gulf 2000 project, show how the city divided from 2003 to 2009.

KEY Sunni majority Shiite majority Christian majority Mixed areas

2003

Sadr

City

Kadhimiya

Adhamiya

BAGHDAD

Green Zone

Baghdad

Airport

Tigris River

2 MILES

2009

Adhamiya

Huriya

BAGHDAD

Green Zone

Amiriya

Baghdad

Airport

Tigris River

2 MILES

2003: Before the Invasion

Before the American invasion, Baghdad’s major sectarian groups lived mostly side by side in mixed neighborhoods.

The city’s Shiite and Sunni populations were roughly equal, according to Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor and Middle East expert.

2009: Violence Fuels Segregation

Sectarian violence exploded in 2006. Families living in areas where another sect was predominant were threatened with violence if they did not move.

By 2009 Shiites were a majority, with Sunnis reduced to about 10 percent to 15 percent of the population.

• Kadhimiya, a historically Shiite neighborhood, is home to a sacred Shiite shrine.

• Adhamiya, a historically Sunni neighborhood, contains the Abu Hanifa Mosque, a Sunni landmark.

• The Green Zone became the heavily fortified center of American operations during the occupation.

• Sadr City was the center of the insurgent Mahdi Army, led by the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr.

• Huriya was transformed in 2006 when the Mahdi Army pushed out hundreds of families in a brutal spasm of sectarian cleansing.

• More than 8,000 displaced families relocated to Amiriya, the neighborhood where the Sunni Awakening began in Baghdad.

• Adhamiya, a Sunni island in Shiite east Baghdad, was walled and restricted along with other neighborhoods in 2007 for security.

• Neighborhoods east of the Tigris Riverare generally more densely populated than areas to the west.

Source: Dr. M. Izady, Columbia University’s Gulf 2000 project

Battle for the Baiji Oil Refinery

Witnesses reported that Sunni extremists seized Iraq’s largest oil refinery on June 18 after fighting the Iraqi Army for a week, but officials disputed the reports and the situation remains unclear.

Workers were evacuated, and the facility, which provides oil for domestic consumption to 11 Iraqi provinces, including Baghdad, was shut down. RELATED ARTICLE »

Source: Satellite image by NASA

ABOUT 100

MILES TO

MOSUL

ABOUT 50 MILES

TO KIRKUK

Power

plant

1

Tigris

River

Oil refinery

Employee

dormitories

Village

Employee

village

Village

Smoke plume

at 10:30 a.m.

Wednesday.

Baiji

ABOUT 115 MILES

TO BAGHDAD

1 MILE

Encroaching on Baghda

Since seizing Mosul on June 10, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has been attacking towns along the main highway heading south, coming closer and closer to the capital.RELATED ARTICLE »

Sources: Institute for the Study of War,Long War Journal

KEY  Towns attacked  Bomb attacks

ABOUT 140 MILES

TO MOSUL

MILES FROM

CENTRAL BAGHDAD

ABOUT 80 MILES

TO KIRKUK

70

Adhaim

JUNE 15

Samarra

JUNE 11, 13, 17

60

Al-Mutasim

JUNE 14

Dhuluiya

JUNE 12

50

Ishaqi

Muqdadiya

The Iraqi army retook control of Ishaqi and Muqdadiya on June 14. In Muqdadiya, a Shiite militia assisted the government forces.

40

Dujail

JUNE 14

30

Militants took control of several neighborhoods inBaquba on June 16 but were repulsed by security officers after a three-hour gun battle.

Baquba

JUNE 16, 17

Tarmiyah

JUNE 11

20

Falluja and many towns in the western province of Anbar have been under ISIS control for about six months.

Tigris

River

10

At least five bomb attacks occurred in Baghdad, mainly in Shiite areas, in the week after the rebel group took Mosul.

Sadr City

Kadhimiya

Falluja

Bab al-Sheikh

Al-Bab Al-Sharqi

Baghdad

Saidiyah

Ten Years of ISIS Attacks in Iraq

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Sunni militant group that staged a stunning operation to seize Iraq’s second largest city, has been fueling sectarian violence in the region for years. RELATED ARTICLE »

100

80

60

Attacks That Could Be Attributed to ISIS

40

20

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

Mosul

Kirkuk

Baghdad

IRAQ

Basra

2004

51 attacks

 

2005

58 attacks

2006

5 attacks

2007

56 attacks

2008

62 attacks

2009

78 attacks

2010

86 attacks

2011

34 attacks

2012

603 attacks

2013

419 attacks

2004-05 The group emerges as “Al Qaeda in Iraq” following the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Its goal is to provoke a civil war. 2006-07 The group’s February 2006 bombing of one of Iraq’s most revered Shiite shrines ignites sectarian violence across the country. After merging with several other Sunni insurgent groups, it changes its name to the Islamic State of Iraq. 2008-10 I.S.I. claims responsibility for more than 200 attacks, many in densely-populated areas around Baghdad. 2011-12 The group is relatively quiet for most of 2011, but re-emerges after American troops withdraw from Iraq. 2013 Seeing new opportunities for growth, I.S.I. enters Syria’s civil war and changes its name to reflect a new aim of establishing an Islamic religious state spanning Iraq and Syria. Its success in Syria bleeds over the border to Iraq.
Note: Before 2011, less information was available on who was responsible for attacks, so the number of ISIS attacks from 2004 to 2010 may be undercounted.

Sources: Global Terrorism Database, National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (attack data); Congressional Research Service; Council on Foreign Relations; Long War Journal; Institute for the Study of War

A Week of Rapid Advances After Taking Mosul

After sweeping across the porous border from Syria to overrun Mosul, insurgents aligned with the jihadist Islamic State in Iraq and Syria continued to press south down the main north-south highway toward Baghdad. RELATED ARTICLE »

Mosul

Area of

detail

Tikrit

June 13

June 10

Mosul captured

Baghdad

IRAQ

Jalawla

Kirkuk

Sadiyah

June 11

Tikrit

captured

Basra

June 12

Dhuluiya captured

June 11-12

Samarra

Tigris R.

About 110 miles

Attacks in

the days after

Mosul captured

30

June 11

Parts of Baiji

captured

20

30

Baghdad

Ishaki   Dujail

June 14

Taji

Lake Tharthar

Falluja

Ramadi

Euphrates R.

After capturing Mosul, Tikrit and parts of a refinery in Baiji, insurgents attackedSamarra, where Shiite militias helped pro-government forces.

Then, they seized Jalawla and Sadiyah but were forced back by government troops backed by Kurdish forces. They continued their moves south by Ishaki and Dujail.

Which Cities Does ISIS Control?

UPDATED JUNE 23

Having occupied crucial sections of Syria over the past year and more recently seizing vast areas of Iraq, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria controls territory greater than many countries and now rivals Al Qaeda as the world’s most powerful jihadist group.

The group seized Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, on June 10. RELATED ARTICLE »

Deir al-ZourRaqqahQaimAl WaleedAnaHadithaHitRawaaFallujaSaadiyahHawijaMosulRamadiBaijiTikritHasakahSamarraKirkukBaqubaTal AfarAzazJalawlaRutbaIRAQSYRIAJORDANTURKEYIRANKUWAITDamascusBaghdadAleppoHamaHomsErbilBasraKarbalaNajaf

ISIS control of cities

Partial or complete

Contested

Attacks since Mosul

Sources: Caerus AssociatesLong War JournalInstitute for the Study of War

What the Militants Want: A Caliphate Across Syria and Iraq

PUBLISHED JUNE 13

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has vowed to establish a caliphate — a unified Islamic government ruled by a caliph, someone considered to be a successor to Muhammad’s political authority — stretching from western Syria across Iraq to the eastern border with Iran.

This map shows the boundaries envisioned by ISIS.

Source: “The Islamic State in Iraq Returns to Diyala” by Jessica Lewis, Institute for the Study of War

TURKEY

Hasakah

Mosul

Erbil

Aleppo

Raqqa

Kirkuk

Deir al-Zour

IRAN

Baiji

SYRIA

Tikrit

Homs

Jalawla

LEBANON

Samarra

Dhuluiya

Damascus

IRAQ

Baghdad

ISRAEL

SAUDI

ARABIA

JORDAN

KUWAIT

Attacks Follow Sectarian Lines

PUBLISHED JUNE 12

The insurgents, originating in Syria, moved through Iraq’s Sunni-dominated north and west, occupying cities and towns surrendered by Iraqi soldiers and police.

They have largely avoided the Kurd-dominated northeast, but have threatened to march on to Baghdad and into the Shiite-dominated areas of the south.

Source: Dr. M. Izady, Columbia University’s Gulf 2000 project

Mosul

Kirkuk

Baiji

Tikrit

Dhuluiyah

Samarra

Ramadi

Baghdad

IRAQ

Falluja

Tigris

Euphrates River

Basra

Predominant group

Sunni Arab

Shiite Arab

Kurd

50 MILES

Iraqi Cities, Then and Now

PUBLISHED JUNE 13

Many of the Iraqi cities that have been attacked and occupied by militants in recent days were also the sites of battles and other major events during the Iraq War.

Mosul

Then: American forces took control of Mosul in April 2003. What followed was a period of relative peace until mid-2004 when periodic insurgent attacks flared, resulting in a large-scale battle in November.
The death toll reached dozens, including a number of Iraqi soldiers who were publicly beheaded. RELATED ARTICLE »
Now: In perhaps the most stunning recent development, Sunni militants drove Iraqi military forces out of Mosul on June 10, forcing a half-million residents to flee the city.
Iraqi soldiers reportedly dropped their weapons and donned civilian clothing to escape ISIS insurgents.
MosulMoises Saman for The New York Times
Falluja

Then: Falluja played a pivotal role in the American invasion of Iraq. It was the site of a number of large-scale battles with insurgents.
In April 2003, it became a hot bed for controversy when American soldiers opened fire on civilians after claiming they had been shot at.
Incessant fighting left the city decimated, leveling a majority of its infrastructure and leaving about half its original population. RELATED ARTICLE »
Now: Sunni militants seized Falluja’s primary municipal buildings on Jan. 3. The takeover came as an early and significant victory for the group, initiating a slew of attacks south of the city.
FallujaMax Becherer for The New York Times
Tikrit

Then: The home of Saddam Hussein, Tikrit became the target of an early American military operation during the Iraq war.
Securing it proved cumbersome, however, as insurgents mounted continued attacks on the city for years afterward.
On Dec. 14, 2003, Hussein was found hiding in an eight-foot deep hole, just south of Tikrit. RELATED ARTICLE »
Now: Tikrit fell to ISIS insurgents on June 11, clearing a path for them to march on to Baiji, home to one of Iraq’s foremost oil-refining operations.
After taking the city in less than a day, militants continued the fight just south, in Samarra.
TikritChang W. Lee/The New York Times
Samarra

Then: Samarra is home to the Askariya shrine, which was bombed in 2006, prompting an extended period of sectarian violence across the country. RELATED ARTICLE »
Now: After an initial attack on June 5, ISIS insurgents have now positioned themselves just miles away from Samarra.
It is unclear whether they are capable of capturing the city in the coming days, but the Shiite shrine makes it a volatile target.
SamarraAyman Oghanna for The New York Times

Video: Iraq’s Factions and Their Goals

PUBLISHED JUNE 13

A look at the goals of of the three main groups in Iraq — Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish — as the country threatens to split apart along sectarian lines.

Growing Humanitarian Crisis

PUBLISHED JUNE 12

The United Nations estimates that at least 500,000 Iraqis were displaced by the takeover of Mosul.

Food supplies are low and there is limited fresh water and little electricity.

An additional 430,000 people were displaced by fighting In Anbar Province, which insurgents have controlled for more than six months.

Safin Hamed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
An Iraqi family, one of thousands who have fled Mosul for the autonomous Kurdish region, walks past tents at a temporary camp.

Video: Behind the Group That Took Mosul

PUBLISHED JUNE 10

Background on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Islamist group that appears to be in control of the second largest city in Iraq.

 

Iraq’s problems are not timeless. The U.S. is responsible.

With the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS,  faction of Al Qaeda) taking over cities in Iraq one by one, Rosen’s words have proven true. Though, as it turns out, it is the Sunnis going to war against the Shias in power this time around.

(The minority Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq for 3 decades until the US forces displaced him and succumbed to the Iraqi morass for 8 long years, as long as the Iraqi-Iranian war lasted 2 decades ago).

And, while the Sunnis have not quite been “cleansed” from Baghdad, the Shia/Sunni conflict has been unrelenting, and Nouri al-Maliki’s sectarian policies seem to have prompted the most recent rounds of violence. (Even the Kurds are taking advantage of the conflict to secure land.)

How was Rosen able to make such a prescient statement? While critics blame Obama’s policies for the deteriorating situation, Rosen agrees with Nancy Pelosi, who said the current crisis “represents the failed policies that took us down this path 10 years ago.”

Rosen, who was an independent, unembedded reporter in Iraq on and off for two years, writes:

When Baghdad fell, on April 9, 2003, and widespread violence erupted, the primary victims were Iraq’s Sunnis. For Shias, this was justice. “It is the beginning of the separation,” one Shia cleric told me with a smile in the spring of 2003.

Saddam had used Sunni Islam to legitimize his power, building one large Sunni mosque in each Shia city in the south; these mosques were seized by Shias immediately after the regime collapsed. . . .

Some realignment of power was inevitable after Saddam’s removal, and perhaps not even shared opposition to the American occupation could have united Sunnis and Shias. As it happened, the occupation divided Iraqis between those seen as anti-occupation and those seen as pro-occupation.

For Rosen, the seeds of this conflict were planted from the beginning, and “enshrined” by United States’s attempt to democratize Iraq, as sectarian parties failed to win seats:

The American sectarian approach has created the civil war [in Iraq]. We saw Iraqis as Sunnis, Shias, Kurds. We designed a governing council based on a sectarian quota system and ignored Iraqis (not exiled politicians but real Iraqis) who warned us against it.

We decided that the Sunnis were the bad guys and the Shias were the good guys. These problems were not timeless. In many ways they are new, and we are responsible for them. The tens of thousands of cleansed Iraqis, the relatives of those killed by the death squads, the sectarian supporters and militias firmly ensconced in the government and its ministries, the Shia refusal to relinquish their long-awaited control over Iraq, the Kurdish commitment to secession, the Sunni harboring of Salafi jihadists—all militate against anything but full-scale civil war.

Indeed, in 2003, Juan Cole pointed to the U.S. preference for Shias:

In removing the Baath regime and eliminating constraints on Iraqi Islamism, the United States has unleashed a new political force in the Gulf: not the upsurge of civic organization and democratic sentiment fantasized by American neoconservatives, but the aspirations of Iraqi Shiites to build an Islamic republic.

But in the next breath, he makes it clear how unlikely it was that the Shias could remain in control:

To be sure, the dreams of a Shiite Islamic republic in Baghdad may be unrealistic: a plurality of the country is Sunni (wrong data, the Shiaa are the majority, now and then), and some proportion of the 14 million Shiites is secularist.

And even before the United States entered Iraq, John W. Dower, reflecting on the experience of postwar Japan, told us not “expect democracy in Iraq”: “Put simply, one of the reasons the reformist agenda succeeded is that Japan was spared the type of fierce tribal, religious, and political factionalism that exists in countries like Iraq today.” He writes:

I have no doubt that huge numbers of Iraqis would welcome the end of repression and establishment of a democratic society, but any number of considerations make the situation there very different than it was in Japan.

Apart from lacking the moral legitimacy and internal and global support that buttressed its occupation of Japan, the United States is not in the business of nation-building any more—just look at Afghanistan. And we certainly are not in the business of promoting radical democratic reform. Even liberal ideals are anathema in the conservative circles that shape U.S. policy today.

The central tensions in Iraq, sadly, seem nowhere close to being solved. It is just as true now as it was in 2006 when Rosen was writing, and in 2003 when we entered Iraq, that:

The once confident and aggressive Sunnis now see the state as their enemy. They are very afraid. All Iraqis are.

Photograph: James Gordon

How Israel is Losing the Public Relations Battle

As if it is a matter of public relation that could clear up the evidences of apartheid activities and absolve the consistent atrocities committed on the occupied Palestinians…

Juan Cole In Informed Comment posted on July 12 under “Top 5 Reasons Israel is Losing the Public Relations Battle“:

Right wing Israeli officials are concerned about attempts to ‘delegitimize” Israel. They are heavily funding former officials and intellectuals to attempt to combat this perceived trend. (Just perceived?)

It seems obvious that Israel is gradually sinking in the perception of the outside world, and there are concrete reasons for this change.

Most of these reasons derive from the train wreck that is Israeli Occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and the Israeli blockade on the civilians of the Gaza Strip.

Other reasons derive from the hawkishness of the Likud government and its Kadima predecessor. They have nothing to do with anti-Israel sentiments or hatred of Jews: No one is condemning the municipality of Haifa or the administration of Tel Aviv.

The criticisms are pointing at the aggressive expansionist and a trigger-happy government. The criticisms are getting louder and more mainstream, with potentially deleterious effects on Israel’s economy as time goes on.

1. Giving the finger to any “peace process”. Israeli land theft in the Palestinian West Bank has reached epic proportions under PM Binyamin Netanyahu, with settlement populations surging 18%. The right-wing in Israel is so isolated from the real world that they have begun claiming that the Palestinian territories are not even occupied.

They claim that the Palestinian rejection of Israel’s right to exist forces them to occupy Palestine (in fact, the PLO recognized Israel as part of the Oslo accords, after which the Israelis royally screwed the Palestinians over).

They distort history and say the most ridiculous things, such as that the League of Nations Mandate awarded to Britain in the 1920s allows them to keep stealing Palestinian land and water without recompensing them!

The brazenness and zombie-like relentlessness of this march onto other people’s land has provoked an increasingly influential international boycott movement, targeting the ‘settler-industrial complex’ that preys on the hapless Palestinians under Israel’s control. 

That is why the Church of England recently endorsed a World Council of Churches-inspired program that brings people to the Occupied Territories to see for themselves what Occupation is doing to the stateless and rights-less Palestinians. The resolution was a major defeat for the Likud, right-wing branches of Zionism.

Likewise, the US Presbyterian Church very nearly adopted a resolution to divest from companies perceived as enabling the Israeli land grab in the West Bank.  As it was, they urged positive investment to help the Palestinian victims of Israeli injustice. These votes are straws in the wind.

As Israel moves formally to incorporate the West Bank into itself, it must offer citizenship to the Palestinians on the land it covets, or else it would perpetuate the new Apartheid.

2. Hypocrisy: Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu keeps threatening to launch a war on Iran and urging the Israelis to sacrifice their young people in order to stop Iran from continuing to enrich uranium (Iran says the enrichment is for peaceful energy purposes and there is no good evidence to the contrary).

Israel itself not only enriched uranium, it made 400 nuclear bombs. There are allegations by an Israeli and American journalist that Israel’s Mossad spy agency has murdered a series of Iranian scientists. (If Iran were alleged to have done something similar at Dimona in Israel, all hell would have broken loose).

And, it now turns out that Benjamin Netanyahu was involved in a spy ring that smuggled nuclear triggers out of the United States to Israel. Israel is alleged routinely to threaten to use its nuclear weapons if it doesn’t get its way, deploying a sort of nuclear blackmail. It is very hard to see why Iran’s population should be reduced to a fourth world standard of living by international sanctions for doing much, much less than Israel has done, or why Netanyahu should be able to smuggle US high-tech out of this country with impunity.

3. Disregard for the rule of law: The Israeli practice of kidnapping Palestinians at will and holding them indefinitely without trial is abhorrent to all civilized persons. (They call it ‘administrative detention in Tel Aviv.) (Over 60% of Palestinian youth have experienced Israel detention centers in order to prevent them from circulating…)

If a Palestinian is suspected of having actually committed a crime, then it should be possible to present evidence for it and to try the person.

Israel took the Palestinian soccer player Mahmoud Sarsak into custody three years ago, and only just released him under severe international pressure. The Israelis say he is an Islamic Jihad terrorist, but clearly have no good evidence for this charge or they would have tried him. Instead, they just put him away, apparently forever. He went on a hunger strike that endangered his life, and provoked widespread protests from the soccer playing lobby. 

Sarsak’s plight also elicited a condemnation from the Austrian senate (Bundesrat). Israeli complaints that criticizing ‘administrative detention’ is ‘anti-Semitic’ and that after all Syria is doing something much worse are absolutely painful to hear.

It is playground ethics: ‘he hit me first,’ ‘you just don’t like me,’ ‘why punish me when other kids have done really bad things?’

The Israelis would benefit from a reading of the Universal declaration of Human Rights and of the US Bill of Rights on issues such as a fair and speedy trial for everyone arrested, and from an acquaintance with the basic international law of Occupations, which rules out most of their practices toward the Palestinians.

Note that when the Bush Jr. administration attempted to make Guantanamo a legal black hole, the US Supreme Court struck it down.

4. Punitive Policies toward non-combatants.  The Israeli blockade on the civilian population of Gaza is evil, creepy and illegal in international law. That is why the international community is pushing back. For instance, UNESCO is establishing a science chair at a university in Gaza.

Israel is still the Occupying authority in Gaza, and is therefore bound by the Geneva Convention of 1949 on the treatment of its subjects. Some 40% of Palestinian families in Gaza are refugees from what is now Israel, expelled by militant members of the Yishuv in 1948, and many of them still live in camps.

The blockade of Gaza has reduced some 56% of them to food insecurity. Israel surrounds the Strip, and destroyed its airport and sea port several times, preventing Gaza from exporting most of what it makes and produces, and limiting imports.

The little Gaza territory of 1.6 million Palestinians suffers severe health as well as mental health damage from these Israeli policies. No Israeli official can explain what future the residents of Gaza might have that is not a kind of Israel-imposed hell.

(And no, they aren’t generic ‘Arabs’ who will melt into the great sea of other ‘Arabs’ as the more racist Israelis might hope.)

Israeli relations with Turkey, long excellent, have been deeply harmed by the blockade and Israel’s attack on a civilian Turkish aid ship that tried to get supplies to the non-combatant population there. Israel refuses to apologize for killing nine aid workers, including an American citizen.

5. Violations of international law: Israel’s occupation policies are pressing Israel into an entire range of illegal and reprehensible behaviors. This is nothing to do with Jews or Israel, it is to do with occupations. 

The Israelis have been arresting minors, sentencing them to harsh terms and fines, and treating them much differently than they would Jewish minors guilty of the same offenses. The British Foreign Office has just condemned these practices.

Israeli policies are no more off-limits to criticism than are Argentinian or Indonesian ones, despite what the country’s remarkably thin-skinned and intolerant partisans often allege.

And, when the chorus of criticism is coming from Anglicans, Presbyterians, the UK Foreign Office, the Austrian Senate, and UNESCCO, that is a pretty wide-set of world institutions not easily pigeon-holed as mere bigots.

Maybe it is time for the Israeli government to reconsider the self-destructive course it is on, which likely will lead to the end of the state some decades hence, as Israeli President Shimon Peres is frantically warning.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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