Monday, April 24, 2017

Obama

He said today: "“I am the first to acknowledge that I did not set the world on fire".  Oh, no, you did. But not in the way you think.

BDS is winning, admits top Israeli saboteur

"The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel is winning, a top anti-BDS strategist has conceded." "An entire government department – the Ministry of Strategic Affairs led by Gilad Erdan – is now devoted to combating BDS." (thanks Amir)

AUB honors Sadiq Al-Azm

This is classic. AUB fired Sadiq Al-Azm when he was a popular professor and wrote two books on Kant.  The only reason he was fired was political: he spoke against the American administration and Charles Malik (as he told me the story) was agitating against him and the Americans running the school hated him.  And now after his death, and only after Al-Azm became an anti-leftist, AUB decides to honor him. Such hypocrisy.  

The new Saudi ambassador to US, Khalid bin Salman

I like the account of his studies in Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat (the mouthpiece of Salman and his sons).  It said that he was attending Georgetown for an MA in "security studies" (and degrees in security studies and terrorism studies are--in my opinion--as academically sound as degrees in fried potato studies) and then "he suspended his studies...due to different work tasks".  I kid you not. Let me translate the Saudi Wahhabi language: he failed his classes.

Feud

The (short) TV series, “Feud: Bette and Joan,” is TV at its best. It was quite entertaining. Of course, the entire premise is quite sexist: feuds between women are always highlighted and exaggerated and they make for good TV, but feuds between men--which are far more destructive--are ignored. Jessica Lange's performance was splendid.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Macron

The bad part is that the rightist Macron will now be portrayed as left.  

When Ken Roth attempts humor: it is painful really

Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth)
Trump gave O'Reilly a pass but social media-empowered public felt differently. Guess whom advertisers listened to?
No, who? I give up. Please tell me. Wow. This is so witty and original.  No one beat you to it.  I have to say that since you assumed the throne in 1993 at HRW, your humor has not improved one bit.

What is happening in Saudi Arabia? Another look at the changes yesterday

From an informed Saudi student:  It reads (my translation) from Arabic: "I have quick notes..through which I wish to transmit our views as citizens (subjects) of Salman and his sons:
These comprehensive decisions cover more than one sector and section of the state after the insinuation by Muhammad bin Salman on more than one occasion to the importance of the views of people and citizens as to what is happening regarding decisions including Vision 2030.  And those statements appeared in the official and non official news and appeared more than once in his public meetings on occasions.  it is clear that he is not like other princes in his policies and wants (or wants it to appear as if) he takes public preferences and satisfaction into consideration.
The decisions included restoring the salary increases for civil and military employees which were canceled months ago.  And this text of the royal decree at the behest of Prince Muhammad Bin Salman.  This does not conceal his desperate efforts to attain popularity and reputation among people in the wake of widespread currents of dissatisfaction and opposition in private gatherings against the new austerity policies. And this makes Muhammad bin Salman a hero who listened to the people and responded to their needs.
Changes included the military forces and the commander of the ground troops was replaced by one of the sons of Faysal. And the spokesperson of the Aggression on Yemen, Ahmad Al-`Asiri, was made deputy intelligence chief.  And there was a weird phrase cited in the order to release double salaries for actual soldiers in the front lines in resisting the Yemeni attacks on the South (although we all know that those who do the actual work in the ground troops against the army and popular committees are the mercenaries from South Yemen).
As one looks closely at the new princes appointed one notices two things: 1) they are form the young generation to which Muhammad belongs. 2) he appointed his brothers and nephews in important posts like his brother as ambassador in DC (the same pilot who bombed Syria), and another brother as an official in the sector of energy and his nephew is now deputy (or superintendent) of the Eastern Province (and it is an important province which deals with "deals" and internal home affairs inside the royal family as important as defense and oil for its economic importance).  These appointments are important and significant.
The school year was shorted so that the final exams are given before Ramadan, and thus we now have the longest summer vacation in the history of the kingdom.  And this pleases me as a student of course.
Of course, we are looking at these analysis and decisions in terms of the potential conflict between son of Salman and son of Nayif over seizure of the crown."

UAE media promote a new Islam: the Mike Tyson Islam

Read here

Please know this about Saudi politics

This is the rule: when a prince is replaced by his brother or cousin it is always according to criteria of merit and specialization. 

Kenneth Roth thinks that ISIS is unfairly portrayed in the Western press: he wants better press for ISIS

Syrian paradox: Assad's mass slaughter of civilians grips West less than a few theatrically staged ISIS attacks.

Oh, this is so sweet: the president of AUB dares to comment on foreign policy

Dr. Fadlo Khuri (@DrFadloKhuri)
Bracing piece on the West's failure to address the Syrian disaster by @ABarnardNYT Opinion | Syria Changed the World nyti.ms/2pJOkUa

Do you think that he would dare post an article in which it calls for the US to invade and attack Israel? If only he sheds tears for Palestinians assuming you believe his tears about Syrian victims.

When a Western correspondent in Beirut feigns humanitarian concern for Arab victims: the case of Anne Barnard

Look at this distasteful article by Ms. Barnard.  Notice that she invoked the clearly racist terminology of "Muslims-versus-Muslims".  This racist terminology was borrowed from Apartheid South Africa when the regime talked about "blacks-killing-blacks", as if Muslims are killing other Muslims for being Muslims or as if when "Muslims-are-killing-Muslims" the Western governments are not involved. There is no case of civil war or conflict in the Middle East in which Western governments are not directly involved in arming or abetting or inciting or funding one side against another, and in perpetuating the conflict. Name one conflict in the last fifty years in which US/Israel were not directly involved.  Just one.  But it is rather classic that Ms. Barnard basically is lamenting that the US did not invade and occupy Syria.  Because she can't be complaining about US not intervening in Syria; US intervened in Syria and bombed and funded and armed rebel groups but it was not to the tune that Ms. Barnard and other Western correspondents in Beirut wanted.  Notice that their only concern about Trump's bombing (as much as they cheered it) was that it was not more massive bombing. Those are the correspondents who are not happy unless the US invades and attacks massively.  Of course, the motives of Ms. Barnard and others can't be humanitarian: can you imagine her daring to call for US to intervene militarily to attack Saudi Arabia? Ms. Barnard covered the last Israeli war on Gaza, and she never wrote an article in which she lamented the lack of Western intervention against Israel.  Also, notice that her article did not mention Palestinians once. Not once.   Western correspondents are only allow to cry and emote over cases when the one side is approved by Western governments.  So the tears have to be authorized before hand.  Also, look at this delicious quotation by a White Man: "“We’ve thrown values by the wayside, but also not been able to act in our own interests, because we let things go too long,” said Joost Hiltermann, a Dutch citizen who is the Middle East director for the International Crisis Group." What are "our values" here exactly? Are those the values of conquest and war and destruction and occupation?  What values? And I like how Westerners act as if US reluctance to invade and attack Syria is the only glaring exception to US promotion of democracy and human rights throughout. They make it sound as if the US is promoting democracy and human rights in Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Oman and that Syria is the only exception to US democracy rule and that US needs to invade and occupy Syria in order for the Middle Eat regional order of democracy to complete.  I mean, if you are someone form another planet, the scenario seems benevolent enough.  Finally, has there been a regime change in which the US has been able to replace a lousy regime by a regime more lousy than the past one?  Ever? The US in fact achieves miracles by arranging for a worse regime to always replace a brutal and lousy regime. It never fails.  But Ms. Barnard was saying that Western governments upheld humanitarian values since WWII and for that reason she wants US to invade and occupy Syria to uphold those values.

For the umpteenth time, Yasin Hajj Saleh is not a leftist and he denounces leftism and leftists regularly IN ARABIC

I don't know why recently Western media (including The Intercept) have been referring to Yassin Has Saleh as "a leftist"--as in this reference in the Times: " said the Syrian dissident Yassin al-Haj Saleh, a secular leftist".  The man never ever talks about himself being a leftist and he denounces leftists and leftism regularly in Arabic.  In Arabic he always identifies as a liberal (in the Arab sense of being an Arab liberal, which usually means identification with the goals of Gulf regimes in the region).  Also, Mr. Saleh writes in Al-Hayat (the mouthpiece of Prince Khalid Bin Sultan).  The paper does not allow leftists to publish, only "Arab liberals", where they can have full freedoms to denounce leftists and leftism.  I think that Western media want to accord him more legitimacy and they know that the word "liberal" is tainted in the Arab context and thus prefer to label him as a leftist.  He is a former leftist, just as many of the writers in the Arab oil and gas media are former leftists.  Big difference.

What happened in Saudi Arabia to trigger the series of Royal decrees and appointments

It is not easy for Saudis to communicate with the outside world but some still do using What'sup and Signal for their high levels of encryption--I am told.  Young Saudis have become experts in such matters of communication and follow the tweets of Snowden very closely.  Anyway, this is the what I gathered from my Saudi contacts:  there was a lot of government anxiety and nervousness in the three days prior to the announcements yesterday.  Saudi police was everywhere in Riyadh and helicopters were hovering over the city in anticipation of protests or demonstrations.  They were afraid that public anger over the dire economic situation would spill over into the streets, and that women would launch protests.  The MBC News program by Dawud Shiryan a week ago indicated the levels of public dissatisfaction.  There have been many layoffs in companies and even Saudi newspapers (mouthpieces of Princes really) like Al-Hayat, suffered financial problems which is why the offices are being moved from London to Beirut.  The firing of the Minister of Information was due to two matters: 1) young Saudis posted a video of him on Youtube in which they said he seemed drunk; 2) it was punishment because a Jordanian critic of Saudi regime was hosted on a Saudi regime channel (Al-Ikhbariyyah).  The Minister of who will be investigated was fingered by young Saudis on Twitter. In Saudi regime, criticisms of non-royal ministers have become allowed (but not in foreign affairs).

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Saudi regime media are really excited about Trump

It says on the wheel: ("The Nuclear Agreement with Iran").

The fragility of American democracy

This recent US election has exposed more than ever the fragility of American democracy.  This is a good thing but I doubt it will diminish the political self-righteousness of US foreign policy.

Trump Doctrine Crystallizes

My weekly article in Al-Akhbar: "Trump Doctrine Crystallizes: Bombs and Missiles First"

There is a civil war in Saudi media

There is a half-declared civil war in Saudi regime media: on the one side are those who are (falsely) called "liberal", and they are mostly right-wing Lebanese and some Saudis who wish to decrease the role of Islam in politics in favor of tighter rule by Saudi royals and who favor a close US-Saudi alliance, and on the other side are the more powerful (and popular) Islamist pro-Turkey (and pro-Ikhwan) camp which voices strong criticisms of Saudi regime media in London.  Look at this hashtag campaign by Islamist Saudis against Al-Hayat (mouthpiece of Prince Khalid bin Sultan) due to criticisms against Erdogan in the paper.   The campaign is titled "Al-Hayat Launches a crusading campaign against Turkey".  This is not a subtle reference to Christians who work in regime paper (I notice that Gulf regime media have added "Christians" as of late to its list of hated groups, which focuses most on Shi`ites and Alawites.
https://twitter.com/hashtag/الحياة_تشن_حملة_صليبية_على_تركيا?src=hash

Friday, April 21, 2017

Mélenchon

I can never expect to see a US presidential candidate (on the left, center or right) making "reflect" or "think" as a campaign slogan. It would never fly in this country.  

Who is more qualified to praise Trump's militarism and aggression than an Obama official?

"“That missile strike certainly had to get Putin’s attention, and it did show we were determined to enforce international norms on chemical weapons,” said Antony J. Blinken, who was deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration. “Equally important was the effort to tie Russia to the use of chemical weapons.”"

2 out of 6 winners of the Man Booker International Prize are Israelis

You honestly believe that of all the world literature, two out of six winners are Israelis based on merit and talent alone? You believe that? Of course, you can factor in the fact that Israeli "literature" (and even gasps and yawns) is instantly translated into English (far more than literature from Latin America and Africa and Asia) but this love and bias for Israel is way out of whack.  You are telling me that 2 out of 6 deserve to be Israelis?

lack of preparedness on foreign policy for US presidents

"The only modern president who rivaled Donald Trump in his lack of preparation for global leadership was Harry Truman. "  You mean not counting Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Lyndon Johnson, and Gerald Ford?

Why I read the New York Times

People ask me why I read the New York Times religiously.  I say: for the same reasons that people in Saudi Arabia read Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat or people in Syria read Tishrin. You need to know what the regime is plotting against you.

Their culture versus "our culture": Economist magazine

"But he is by nature a bully in a culture that admires displays of strength." As opposed to the West, where there is no admiration for displays of strength? In the week when Trump witnessed his popularity rise purely for bombing other countries?

Silly attack on communism in the New Yorker

"he found peasant women sitting there, with “bundles and baskets and big handkerchiefs around their heads,” seated on “benches rubbed dull with waiting.” Long after the Revolution and all its world-changing promises had settled into a grim stasis, waiting was still a Russian specialty." I don't get it. So people don't wait in capitalistic countries?

Is this article by David Ignatius a paid Saudi advertisement?

"But the larger goal, he said, is “spreading happiness” in what has sometimes been a somber country." Or this: "Unlike so many Saudi princes, he wasn’t educated in the West, which may have preserved the raw combative energy that is part of his appeal for young Saudis.".   If someone were to write such propaganda about North Korea, he would have been accused of treason.

David Ignatius is such a propagandist for Arab royals that he cites unpublished Arab regime polls

"Change seems increasingly desired in this young, restless country. A recent Saudi poll found that 85 percent of the public, if forced to choose, would support the government rather than religious authorities on policy matters, said Abdullah al-Hokail, the head of the government’s public opinion center." Are you sure, David, it is not 99%?

AJ + and sexual harassment

I see that AJ + released a short video about Bill O'Reilly and Fox News. It would be nice if AJ + (which has deteriorated over time and has become a crude propaganda tool of the Qatari regime) would release a report about sexual harassment and discrimination in Aljazeera offices.  

North versus South Korea

The military budget of South Korea is four times the size of the military budget of North Korea--not to count US troops in South Korea.

South Korean propaganda apparatus

There is no apparatus which is more responsible for the manufacturing of lies and rumors than the South Korean intelligence apparatus.

Someone should run a regression on this: Virtual media and protests in Arab cities

I think a reverse correlation can be established: if you chart the rise of the social media and the occurrences of demonstrations in Arab cities in the last decade you will find a reverse correlation.  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Mélenchon: what Bernie Sanders is...not


When Israeli intelligence propaganda becomes a trusted objective source on Syrian and Iranian matters

Replying to 
"Israeli military intelligence estimates that Assad has 'between one and three tons' of chemical weapons."

New Yorker on Dubai

Of course, the article is shallow and impressionable and silly. What you expect in Western media about the Arab world.  But Sultan Qassimi protested that the article did not talk about museums in Dubai. You can have Vegas with museums though.  In fact, Vegas has many museums: don't forget the Wayne Newton Museum.  But you can't deny the deep impact that Vegas left on the minds of oil sheikhs--aesthetically speaking.  

The prime minister of Lebanon yesterday got rid of the two extra training wheels. The country could not be prouder


Syrian rebels are always victims--even when they bomb and kill

Western and Arab (gulf and oil) propaganda have managed to always make Syrian rebels as victims and to conflate them with Syrian civilians. So the rebels are victims even when rebels car bombed civilians in buses in Rashidin, Western media and Arab gas and oil media managed to make the rebels as victims by promoting crazy scenarios of the bombing and by peddling one picture of a Syrian "activist-journalist"--whatever that means in journalism schools--crying as to show the rebels and supporters as victims even when they (the rebels) are the perpetrators of bombing. So they can't lose sympathetic media coverage no matter what they do or bomb.

Ken Roth at Human Rights Watch: preparing for a successor

I am told that while Ken Roth has been at the helm of Human Rights Watch since 1993, securing what he calls "pro-Israel" funding, he realized that he can't mock rulers who don't allow for succession to their rule while he remains in control of an ostensible human rights organization.  I have it on good authority that he has prepared his son, Muhammad bin Ken, to take over the organization after him.  Long live peaceful transition to new blood.  

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"Funny: Western media thinks The National is no longer state-owned"

From Basim: "International Media Investments, owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Manchester City, bought The National in November from state-owned Abu Dhabi Media."

Kim in Tyre

In the Tyre area of Lebanon, someone posted this poster of Kim. The title says: "Vanquisher of the Enemies: Abu `Ali Kim".

Of all the human rights problems out there, Kenneth Roth is campaigning for the right-wing candidate in the French election

He has not been bothered by the various support for Israel and Saudi Arabia by French presidents but is bothered by the one socialist candidate who has not even reached power?

Do you know that Kenneth Roth has been leading HRW since 1993? He has ruled longer than Putin and Erdogan

What kind of credibility does Human Rights Watch have when it has been ruled since 1993 iron-fistedly by one man, and one man alone.  All other Western human rights organizations allow for transfer of power in the leadership and the infusion of female leadership except this organization: what kind of message does this send when one man has ruled that organizations for several decades now?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

And US propagandists like you are busy promoting Macron

Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth)
Russia's propagandists are busy promoting Marine Le Pen and Francois Fillon--anyone but Emmanuel Macron. bit.ly/2pLfaKY pic.twitter.com/gN6tgvkuN9

Buffonish King of Jordan posts (on his official site) his training for the liberation of Palestine


Human Rights Watch (the propaganda arm of the US-Israeli wars) does not label US war crimes as war crimes

Here is how Human Rights Watch operates: when it comes to foes of the US (like Russia or Syrian regime), they categorize their actions as war crimes based on youtube and tweets of Syrian rebels.  But when it comes to war crimes by US or Israel, they urge caution and then they say that an investigation is needed.  After they conduct their own investigation, they rule thus: the US (or Saudi regime or Israel), MAY HAVE committed war crimes.  Look at this lousy language of a US war crime: "Serious violations of the laws of war can amount to war crimes. These include deliberately targeting civilians or civilian objects (including mosques), knowingly launching indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks resulting in death or injury to civilians, or being criminally reckless in so doing. The US authorities’ failure to understand the most fundamental aspects of the target and pattern of life around the target raises the question whether officers were criminally reckless in authorizing the attack."