Monday, August 31, 2015

Zionism in Britain - an article by Prof. Evan Jones

Evan Jones is a retired political economist from the University of Sydney. He taught at Sydney University from 1973-2006. He has been writing on bank malpractice against small business and the family farmer for over a decade.

His latest article on Zionism in Britain can be read by clicking here.

Uri Avnery's latest article

URI AVNERY is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. I am a regular reader of his articles. His latest article - Israel's aborted strike on Iran - can be read by clicking here.

John Wight's article on current Migration Crisis

"There is much the ancient world can teach us. One of the key lessons is that mass migration – motivated by war, societal collapse, and/or extreme poverty – is capable of destroying even the most powerful of empires," says John Wight.

He says, "The scenes of desperate humanity we are currently witnessing at the Channel port of Calais and in Macedonia are the product of a world underpinned by greed and might is right. It cannot last on this basis. What’s more, it doesn’t deserve to."

You can read his views about the current migration crisis by clicking here.

Egypt's kangaroo court sentences 3 Al Jazeera reporters to 3 years in prison

As we all know expecting justice in a kangaroo court is simply stupid. Under General Sisi, the neo-Pharaoh of Egypt, the country's courts have become kangaroo courts. So, we are not surprised with the latest court verdict with respect to Al Jazeera journalists.

The court sentenced the Canadian Mohammed Fahmy, Australian Peter Greste and Egyptian Baher Mohammed on Saturday, reigniting international criticism over the long-running case and highlighting authorities' crackdown on journalists.

I criticize strongly the court decision and demand that Sisi release them immediately.

As noted by the Associated Press, evidence presented at the trial ventured into the absurd, including music videos and footage of animals, which defense lawyers and even the judge dismissed as irrelevant. Third party observers say no evidence proved the charges, and critics described the case as politically motivated.
Besides the "false news" charge, Judge Hassan Farid said in his ruling that he sentenced the men because they had not registered with the country's journalist syndicate, brought in equipment without security officials' approval and used central Cairo's Marriott hotel as a broadcasting point without permission.
Greste was deported to Australia in February and sentenced Saturday in absentia.
The three are now seeking a pardon from President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who has personally expressed regret over the long-running trial and the damage it has done to Egypt's international reputation. If a pardon is not granted, they will appeal once the full verdict is released in the next 30 days.
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who represented Fahmy on Saturday, said she and Canadian Ambassador Troy Lulashnyk would be meeting with Egyptian officials to press for a presidential pardon.
In an interview Sunday with the BBC, Clooney urged President Sissi to issue a pardon "that would apply to all journalists, not just those who are foreign."
She said it was ironic that "the conviction was for tarnishing Egypt's reputation when the thing that the international community condemns Egypt for is this case and similar cases. This is what's tarnishing Egypt's image. I do think that he (Sissi) is aware of that and he has a way to fix it."
"I think we all know what's at stake," she added. "It's media freedom in Egypt and in the region. This is a case that's going to set a precedent one way or another. And it's also about the integrity of the judicial process."
The case began in December 2013, when Egyptian security forces raided the hotel suite used by Al-Jazeera at the time to report from Egypt. Authorities arrested Fahmy, Greste and Mohammed, later charging them with allegedly being part of the Muslim Brotherhood, which authorities have declared a terrorist organization, and airing falsified footage intended to damage national security.
The three were convicted on June 23, 2014, with Greste and Fahmy sentenced to seven years in prison and Mohammed to 10 years for being found with a spent bullet casing. That ruling was later overturned on appeal by Egypt's Court of Cassation, which said the initial proceedings were marred by violations of the defendants' rights, but a retrial was ordered.
Two other British journalists for Al-Jazeera were also sentenced to 10 years in that original trial but managed to leave the country beforehand and could not file an appeal.
The arrests came in the wake of the military's ouster that summer of the Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, after mass protests against his rule. Since then, Egypt has cracked down on his supporters, and accused the three journalists of being Brotherhood mouthpieces. Al-Jazeera and the journalists have denied the allegations.
At the time of the arrests, Qatar and Egypt were at odds over Doha's support of Islamist groups and the Brotherhood. In the time since, Qatar, which funds Al-Jazeera, has expelled some Brotherhood members and made overtures toward easing tensions with Egypt, though the Qatari government continues to support some Islamists in the region.

The Iranian 5th Columnists in the West

Professor Muhammad Sahimi of the USC, Los Angeles, is a serious researcher - not only in chemical engineering sciences but also on many matters relating to Iran where he was born. He is an author of many books and articles - scientific and non-scientific. I had the pleasure of working with him in the 1980s.

Prof. Sahimi's articles on Iran has appeared in many newspapers and e-journals around the globe. Here below is his latest piece, which I share in full.

Since July 14 when the Vienna nuclear agreement between Iran and P5+1 – the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany – was announced, its opponents have been waging an all-out war against it. In particular, the same pundits who lied to us to lead the United States to a catastrophic war in Iraq are doing the same again, this time against Iran. But, one opposition group is most interesting because it consists of some of the Iranian exiles living in the United States. I am not talking about the Mujahedin-e Khalgh (MEK) that, up until a few years ago was listed by the United States as a terrorist organization. The MEK is despised by the vast majority of the Iranian people for its collaboration with Iraq during its war with Iran. I am talking about another group of exiles who have been acting as the "post-modern fifth column" of the agreement’s opponents, and have been repeating verbatim the lies, exaggerations, and fabrications uttered by Benjamin Netanyahu and his neoconservatives and Republican allies.
Such Iranian exiles argue that once the economic sanctions are lifted, (1) Iran will receive up to $150 billion (a great exaggeration, as the true number is close to $50 billion) of its frozen assets and will spend it to support its proxies and allies in the region, such as the Lebanese Hezbollah and Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria; (2) Iran will become an even more aggressive expansionist power, beyond the four countries in which it currently has influence, namely, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen, and the agreement only delays, but does not stop Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
After the reform movement led by former President Mohammad Khatami was contained and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005, many political activists that had even been imprisoned by the hardliners moved to the United States. Some of them hoped that they can persuade the George W. Bush administration to confront the Islamic Republic forcefully. Others called for help from the United States to topple the regime in Tehran. The neocons were also looking for some Iranian versions of Ahmed Chalabi, their Iraqi ally prior to invasion of Iraq.
Thus, some of the exiles received fellowships at right-wing institutions, such as National Endowment for Democracy that has played a significant role in inciting "color revolutions" around the globe. Some were given jobs and visiting positions at one of leading lobbies of Israel in the United States, namely, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (here and here), while others worked at the neocons hub, the American Enterprise Institute, and another pillar of Israel lobby, The Foundations for Defense of Democracies (here and here). One of them, Akbar Atri, was even made a member of the right-wing The Committee on the Present Danger. Two of them spoke in a panel organized by the FDC and sponsored by two Iran hawks, former Senators Rick Santorum and Joe Lieberman (Atri supported U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq). Some of them have testified in Congress, urging stronger actions against Iran.
During 2010-2011 Israel’s rhetoric against Iran intensified. Ehud Barak, former Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister, just revealed that Israel almost attacked Iran during that period. In November 2011 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued its controversial report on the status of Iran’s nuclear program, which was used by Israel and its supporters to advocate military attacks on Iran.
Shortly thereafter, a group of 175 Iranian exiles [later expanded to 184] issued a statement in which they essentially repeated Israel’s accusations, claiming that the Iranian government’s "intention of diverting its nuclear program into a military course has entered into a decisive phase," a lie that even the politicized IAEA under its Director-General Yukiya Amano has not claimed. They also demanded "an immediate cessation of all military aspects of the nuclear program [of Iran]," a pure fabrication, as the National Intelligence Estimate of the United States in November 2007 (and reaffirmed in 2009, 2011, and 2012) stated that Iran stopped its nuclear weapon research program [if it ever had one] sometime in 2003.
A large number of signatories from the same group recently issued a statement, opposing the nuclear agreement. Calling the nuclear agreement "appeasing Iran," they declared that they "are sounding the alarm bells before it is too late," eerily similar to what the Israeli and American far right have been espousing.
These exiles often hide behind "defending" human rights of Iranian people. True, these rights are systematically violated by the regime in Tehran. But, why will strengthening the sanctions against Iran and rejecting the Vienna agreement that will surely lead to a war with Iran help the cause of defending human rights in Iran?
The Iranian exiles have also been placing articles in right-wing newspapers and websites, warning about the dangers of rapprochement with Iran and the nuclear deal. For example, Saeed Ghasseminejad who is an associate fellow at the FDC, claimed in an article published on August 17 by Weekly Standards, the mouthpiece of the neocons that every investment in Iran will "flow" to the IRGC, the backbone of Iran’s military. In another article published by New York Daily News on August 16, Ghasseminejad referred to the Vienna agreement as "a raw deal for Iran’s dissidents." He was also quoted by another right-wing outlet, The Tower, saying, "Increased engagement with Iran will lead to worse repression."
Another of the exiles, Mehdi Khalaji who works at the Washington Institute, published an op-ed in the New York Times in which he repeated another claim of the Israel lobby and the neocons, namely, that Iran is an expansionist power, has been so for 400 years and will be even more so after the nuclear agreement. But, the fact is Iran has not attacked a single country for nearly 300 years; Khalaji simply fabricated a "new" history.
Another exile, Djavad Khadem, a minister in the government of Shapour Bakhtiar, the last Prime Minister under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi right before the 1979 Revolution wrote in a piece in November 2014 that, "President Obama appears ready to… misperceiving the Islamic Republic as a stable country in a chaotic region," and threatened that if the President does not tie the nuclear agreement to a "stable Iran" – code words for regime change – then "desperate Iranians would pick up arms to defend their right to exist."
In an opinion piece published by Times of Israel in January 2013, Ghasseminejad protested selection of Chuck Hagel as U.S. Defense Secretary, claiming that "Tehran votes yes to Hagel." In another piece published in June 2013 by the same newspaper, Ghasseminejad repeated verbatim the worn out claim by Netanyahu that Iranian leaders have an "apocalyptic" view of the world. In yet a third article there published in April 2013, Ghasseminejad claimed that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei "continues to pursue a nuclear bomb and recently reiterated that he will not hesitate to destroy Haifa and Tel Aviv," without mentioning that Khamenei made the threat if Israel attacks Iran first. In another piece published by Jewish Chronicles Online, Ghasseminejad mocked Iran’s presidential elections of June 2013, and essentially said about President Hassan Rouhani what Netanyahu said three months later in October 2013 when he said that Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothes. And, in yet another article published in June 2013 by the ultra-right National Post of Canada, Ghasseminejad called for regime change in Tehran, "The only hope for Iran is regime change — which must be the goal of Western foreign policy." This group has also published tens of articles in Farsi in which they argued for and supported the sanctions against Iran, with one of them likening the sanctions to "surgery on cancer."
The exiles have been fierce proponents of the crippling economic sanctions that have disrupted the lives of tens of millions of ordinary Iranians. Atri, for example, said in a June 2012 event at the AEI that "Iranians have paid a high price because of sanctions," but adding that he supports "even the extreme sanctions on Iran’s oil and banking sector." This is while he and his wife lead a luxurious life near Washington. He warned against lifting the sanctions even in exchange for Tehran making major concessions (which Iran has actually made).
Ahmad Batebi, a former political prisoner who was tortured in jail, collaborated with Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, an organization setup specifically by Israel lobby AIPAC for opposing the nuclear deal and made a video that was broadcast by CNN, NBC, and other TV channels. In the video Batebi describes his torture and warns against the nuclear deal.
The exiles also have many websites and "non-profit" organizations through which they espouse their views and those of their benefactors. Atri, for example, founded E-Collaborative for Civic Education, and runs a website Tavaana. It produces books, articles, translations of foreign texts into Farsi, etc. It has a "faculty" that carries out the work with contracts and includes many of the exiles that have supported the sanctions, with at least one of them calling for breaking Iran up, if the Islamic Republic cannot be toppled. It receives funding from the US State Department, National Endowment for Democracy and United States Agency for International Development, among others. Other websites, such as Bamdad Khabar and Khodnevis, are also run by the same type of Iranian exiles.
Interestingly, even some of the neoconservatives are wary about such Iranian exiles. Back in 2006 Kenneth Timmerman who is the director of Foundation for Democracy in Iran complained, "[Former] reformers …. have gotten the lion’s share of the ‘pro-freedom’ moneys from the State Department." Timmerman was probably worried that his piece of the "pie" – funds for the opposition to the Islamic Republic – was shrinking, but the relevant question is, what has been the net useful result of providing so much funding to these exiles, at least as far as the lives of ordinary Iranians are concerned?
This is updated from an earlier version published in the Middle East Eye.

Saudis kill another 36 civilians inside Yemen

Saudi bombers and fighter planes have been bombing inside Yemen for last few months. As I have noted earlier, many unarmed civilians have died as a result of such air strikes conducted by Saudi pilots. The Saudi actions are viewed by many as criminal, deserving severe condemnation. The Saudi response, however, has been one of utter defiance - something that we have seen many times with the Israeli government in its orgy of violence directed against the Palestinians in Gaza.

The Saudi government either denies that civilians have died from its heavy-handed approach to weaken Houthi control inside Yemen or that the casualties of air strikes were all part of a collateral damage. Israeli government has mastered that art of deception and defiance and now Saudis are seemingly repeating those mantras as if those nonchalant utterings could sanitize their crimes. No, they don't.

Here below is the latest casualty figures from Yemen, as reported by Reuters.

An air strike by warplanes from a Saudi-led coalition, which said it targeted a bomb-making factory, killed 36 civilians working at a bottling plant in the northern Yemeni province of Hajjah on Sunday, residents said.
In another air raid on the capital Sanaa, residents said four civilians were killed when a bomb hit their house near a military base in the south of the city.
The attacks were the latest in an air campaign launched in March by an alliance made up mainly of Gulf Arab states in support of the exiled government in its fight against Houthi forces allied to Iran.
"The process of recovering the bodies is finished now. The corpses of 36 workers, many of them burnt or in pieces, were pulled out after an air strike hit the plant this morning," resident Issa Ahmed told Reuters by phone from the site in Hajjah.
Coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri denied the strike had hit a civilian target, saying it was a location used by the Houthis to make improvised explosive devices and to train African migrants whom they had forced to take up arms.
"We got very accurate information about this position and attacked it. It is not a bottling factory," he said.
He accused the Houthis of using African migrants, stuck in Yemen after arriving by sea before the war in the hope of crossing the Saudi border and finding work in the oil producer, as cannon fodder in dangerous border operations.
Human rights group Amnesty International said in a report this month that the coalition bombing campaign had left a "bloody trail of civilian death" which could amount to war crimes.

Mass Exodus in recent weeks - who's to blame?

People in vulnerable territories are on the move again. In recent years, it started with the Rohingyas of Myanmar who have been rightfully described as the world's most persecuted people in our planet. Now add to that list, the Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, North Africans and sub-Saharan Africans, let alone the Hispanics from Central and South America.

Most of the migrants coming to Europe are victims of wars raging in their home countries which have made it impossible for them to survive and raise a family. Consider, e.g., latest report of death of some 71 Syrians who suffocated to death in a truck while moving into Austria. They were trying to escape Bashar al-Asad's killing fields only to be killed by criminal traffickers. We have seen similar episodes with the Rohingya migrants whose mass graves were found in the jungles of Thailand and Malaysia.

But many other migrants, esp. the Hispanics coming to the USA, are economic migrants.

Justin Raymondo of the has written an article on the subject in which he asks, "As thousands of refugees wash up on the shores of Europe – over 107,000 in the last month – it is a scene of horror and misery untold... They come from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, and throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Is it a coincidence that these are all countries that have been attacked by the United States in its endless “war on terrorism”?"

You can read his views by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Pakistani generals ensured no resistance to US Abbottabad raid

The greatest casualty during war is the truth. And that is what happened with the Abbottobad raid that killed OBL.

In a 10,000 word  investigative report, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh has made startling revelations about the May 2, Abbottabad raid, which killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, claiming that the raid was planned by the Americans with full knowledge and cooperation of the Pakistan Army and ISI, then headed by General Kayani and General Pasha.

Writing for the London Review of Books, Hersh claims, “The most blatant lie was that Pakistan’s two most senior military leaders – General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of Army Staff, and General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, Director General of the ISI – were never informed of the US mission.”

“This spring I contacted Durrani and told him in detail what I had learned about the Laden’s presence in Abbottabad, and that after his killing the US betrayed promises with Kayani and Pasha and went back on the promise that the killing would not be revealed for about 10 days and would then be claimed as a result of a drone strike.”

Hersh also claimed in the report that bin Laden had been a prisoner of the ISI at the Abbottabad compound since 2006; that Kayani and Pasha knew of the raid in advance and had made sure that the two helicopters delivering the US Seals to Abbottabad could cross Pakistani airspace without triggering any alarms; that the CIA did not learn of bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011, but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the US, and that, while Obama did order the raid and the Seal team did carry it out, many other aspects of the administration’s account were false.

Seymour Hersh also claims that Osama’s body was never buried in the sea. He also says there was no Islamic scholar to lead the last funeral prayers of Osama. Hersh claims that a Pakistani ISI officer had walked into the US Embassy in Islamabad and revealed the presence of Osama in Abbottabad and had claimed a reward of $25 million. “The informant and his family were smuggled out of Pakistan and relocated in the Washington area. He is now a consultant for the CIA,” he claims.

You can read more details by clicking here.

Monday, August 24, 2015

What are the neocons cooking these days?

What are the neocons cooking these days? David Bromwich has written an article, which is worth reading: "The Neoconservatives, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Republicans Game the System." It has appeared in the

Here are some excerpts from the beginning paragraphs:

“We’re going to push and push until some larger force makes us stop.”

David Addington, the legal adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, made that declaration to Jack Goldsmith of the Office of Legal Counsel in the months after September 11, 2001. Goldsmith would later recall that Cheney and Addington were the first people he had ever met of a certain kind: “Cheney is not subtle, and he has never hidden the ball. The amazing thing is that he does what he says. Relentlessness is a quality I saw in him and Addington that I never saw before in my life.”

You can read the full text by clicking here.

Reporting on War

“Honest war correspondents and photographers who try to cover wars effectively are about to become suspect spies if a new Pentagon manual, “Law of War,” is accepted by U.S. military commanders”, writes veteran war correspondent Don North.

[Note: The manual does contain a disclaimer about its possible limits: “The views in this manual do not necessarily reflect the views of … the US government.” The manual was issued by the office of Stephen W. Preston, general counsel for the Pentagon and former chief attorney for the CIA. After six years overseeing the Obama administration’s legal policy with respect to lethal drone attacks as well as the raid that killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the current war against the Islamic State, Preston resigned from the Pentagon in June following publication of the manual.]

“Reporting on military operations can be very similar to collecting intelligence or even spying,” the manual says, calling on journalists to “act openly and with the permission of relevant authorities.” The manual notes that governments “may need to censor journalists’ work or take other security measures so that journalists do not reveal sensitive information to the enemy.”

The manual’s new language reflects a long-term growing hostility within the U.S. military toward unencumbered reporting about battlefield operations as well as a deepening interest in “information warfare,” the idea that control over what the public gets to hear and see is an important way of ensuring continued popular support for a conflict at home and undermining the enemy abroad.

But allowing this manual to stand as guidance for commanders, government lawyers and leaders of foreign nations would severely damage press freedoms, not only for Americans but internationally. It would drastically inhibit the news media ability to cover future wars honestly and keep the public informed, which is after all what both U.S. government officials and journalists say they want.

In the United States, the hostility toward unwanted or unapproved reporting – whether from RT, Al-Jazeera or WikiLeaks – has merged with more classification of information and greater delays in releasing material sought through Freedom of Information channels.

Despite President Obama’s pledge to make his administration one of the most transparent in history, press freedom watchdogs have continually slammed his administration as one of the least transparent and criticized its aggressive prosecution of leakers, including Army Pvt. Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning for releasing evidence of apparent war crimes in the Iraq and Afghan wars. Manning received a 35-year prison sentence and is currently facing possible solitary confinement for alleged prison infractions.

Reporters Without Borders published an open letter to Secretary Carter calling on him to revise “dangerous language” of the Pentagon manual that suggests journalists can become “unprivileged belligerents,” akin to spies or saboteurs.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists in a critique of the manual writes, “By giving approval for the military to detain journalists on vague national security grounds, the manual is sending a disturbing message to dictatorships and democracies alike. The same accusations and threats to national security are routinely used to put journalists behind bars in nations like China, Ethiopia, Vietnam and Russia to name just a few.”

Public attention to the new Pentagon manual came at an awkward time for U.S. government officials. Secretary of State John Kerry was recently in Hanoi lecturing the Vietnamese to let up on oppressed journalists and release bloggers from jail.

In Iran, the U.S. government has protested the trial of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian on spying charges and has marshaled international support behind demands for his release. United Nations human rights advocates called on Tehran to release Rezaian, declaring: “Journalists must be protected, not harassed, detained or prosecuted.”

So, the new “law of war” manual suggests that we are seeing another case of American double standards, lecturing the world about principles that the U.S. government chooses to ignore when its own perceived interests are seen as endangered.

The reality is that the U.S. military has often taken questionable action against journalists, particularly Arab journalists working for U.S. or third country agencies. AP photographer, Bilal Hussein, whose photo of insurgents firing on Marines in Fallujah in 2004 earned him a Pulitzer Prize, was detained by the U.S. Marines and held two years without charges, evidence or explanation.

Al-Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Haj was detained in 2001 while covering a U.S. offensive against the Taliban in Afghanistan. U.S. military forces accused the Sudanese cameraman of being a financial courier for armed groups but never produced evidence to support the claims. Al-Haj was held for six years at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Prior to releasing him, according to his lawyer, U.S. military officials tried to compel al-Haj to spy on Al-Jazeera as a condition of his release.

In its 6,000-plus footnotes, the manual ignores these two cases. Instead it suggests its own perspective on how journalists covering conflicts should operate: “To avoid being mistaken for spies, journalists should act openly and with the permission of relevant authorities” – advice that is both impractical and problematic.

Critiquing the manual, Don North asks, “For instance, how would the U.S. military respond if “the permission of relevant authorities” came from a battlefield adversary? Would that be taken as prime facie evidence that the reporter was collaborating with the enemy?” “Plus, in any war that I’ve covered from Vietnam to Iraq, I have never gone looking for “relevant authorities” in the fog of battle, as finding one would be as unlikely as it would be risky. Indeed, the more likely result if such a person was found would be for the reporter to be detained and prevented from doing his or her job rather than receiving some permission slip. Such naïve advice suggests the editors of this manual have had little experience in combat situations,” North comments.

You can read the full article of Don North by clicking here.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Why Congress Must Support the Nuclear Agreement With Iran? - an article by Akbar Ganji and Richard Falk

Here is an article on nuclear deal on Iran by Akbar Ganji and Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories that got posted in the Huffington Post.

They write, "What should have been an occasion of diplomatic rejoicing has turned into an ugly partisan struggle over whether or not the international agreement negotiated with Iran will or will not be approved by the United States Government. The extremely troublesome obstruction to the agreement is centered in the U.S. Congress where anti-Obama Republicans are teaming up with pro-Netanyahu Democrats to create uncertainty as to whether the arrangments negotiated with such persistence by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council together with Germany will be undermined by this unprecedented leverage being exerted by Israel on the internal governmental processes in America. It should be appreciated that the agreement has been unanimously endorsed by a positive vote of all 15 members of the Security Council, a rarity in UN politics for an issue of this geopolitical magnitude."

Many world leaders are irate about the attitude of Israel and her friends (the 'Amen Corner' in the Capitol Hill). Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond observed: "Israel wants a permanent state of stand-off and I don't believe that's in the interests of the region. I don't believe it's in our interest."

Israel has used all the influence at its disposal to block approval, mobilizing rich ultra-Zionist donors in the U.S. to create a war chest of $20 milion and relying on AIPAC (American-Israel Public Affairs Committee) to twist enough legislative arms to override an expected Obama veto if the agreement is turned down by a majority in the two houses of Congress. This drive has been led by the ever belligerent Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
The authors opine, "A rejection of the agreement will raise serious questions about the capacity of this country to pursue a foreign policy that reflects its best interests and dominant values. It will also raise doubts about whether it is capable of constructive leadership in the Middle East and the world... For over 22 years Netanyahu has been "making" nuclear bombs for Iran, continuously claiming that Iran is only a short time away from having the bomb. The predictions have turned out to be false and inflammatory, but his desire and appetite for war with Iran seems only to have increased over time."

They conclude: "Moving forward from the agreement it is important to appreciate that peace is a common value envisioned and shared by Jews, Muslims, and Christians:
"They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore" (Isaiah 2:4).
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God"(Matthew 5:9).
"Making peace is the best" (an-Nissa 128) and "O, you who believe! Fulfill the promises and covenants made [by you]" (al-Maidah 1).
For too long these shared values, deeply embedded in the worldviews of these civilizational perspectives, have been ignored, even repudiated. The nuclear agreement with Iran creates the opportunity to move the flow of history in better directions. Such an opportunity must not be lost. If lost, the United States and Israel would be morally, politically, and legally responsible for whatever harm befalls the region and the world."

A lesson in justice

Ali Ibn Abi Talib (radiyallahu anhu) was the 4th caliph of the Muslim world. During his caliphate, his armor had gone missing. One day, while  walking through the market place, he recognized his armor in the possession of a Jewish person who lived in the territory.

He went up to the Jew and said, “This is my armor.” The Jew retorted, “Bring witnesses to prove it. Alternatively file a law suit!”

Ali (radiyallahu anhu) proceeded to the judge - Qazi (Qadi) Shuraih (also spelled as Shurayh) and laid a charge of theft against the Jew. Here is some information about the judge.

Shuraih ibn al-Hârith ibn Qays ibn al-Jahm al-Kindî accepted Islam in Yemen during the lifetime of Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) though he never met him. During the reign of Abû Bakr al-Siddîq (radiyallahu anhu), he relocated to Kufah in Iraq.
"Umar appointed him to be the judge of Kufah and he was very young at the time. Abû Nu`aym relates from Umm Dâwûd al-Wâbishiyyah that “people took their disputes before Shuraih at a time when he still had no beard (i.e., he was young and poor).”
It is said that he spent sixty years in that office. He also served as judge in Basra for a year. He succeeded Abdullah ibn Mas'ood (radiyallahu anhu) as the Qadi of Kufa. He was well known throughout the country for his intelligence and keen sense of judgment. He was regarded as a model judge. Ali used to call him iiAqd-ul-Arabi, that is the most judicious of all the judges of Arabia.
Shuraih was known for his extensive knowledge of Islamic law and respected for his good judgment. The caliphs showed deference to him. He retired from office only a year before his death, and he is supposed to have lived to the age of 108 or 110. It is related that, "Ali assembled the people in the public square, saying: 'I am going to leave you, so assemble in the public square.' The people came and began to petition him with their questions until they were finished and no one remained but Shuraih, who sat upon his knees and began to ask him. `Ali said: “Go, for indeed you are the most knowledgeable of Arabs in matters of judicial verdicts.” [Hilyah al-Awliyâ’ (4/134)]

Once a woman came to `Alî (radiyallahu anhu) with a case against her husband in a matter of divorce. After she presented her case to him, `Alî turned to Shuraih and said: “Judge between them.” Shuraih said: “O Commander of the Faithful! (Should I presume to do so) while you are right here?” `Alî (radiyallahu anhu) repeated: “Judge between them.”

Shurayh was renowned for his impeccable sense of justice and for holding all people equal before the law.

About Shuraih's appointment as a judge, it is related that Umar (radiyallahu anhu) purchased a horse on approval, and gave it to somebody to try it. The horse got hurt in the ride, and Umar wanted to return it, but the owner refused to take it back. In the dispute that arose as a consequence, Shuraih was chosen as the arbitrator. He gave the verdict that if the horse was ridden with the permission of the owner it could be returned; otherwise not. Umar said that that was the right decision and at once appointed Shuraih as the Qadi of Kufa.

The case of Ali (radiyallahu anhu) came before the Qazi. Both plaintiff and defendant presented themselves before the Qazi.

Qazi Shurayh (rah), without being overawed by the presence of Ameerul  Mu’mineen, Ali (radiyallahu anhu), seated himself with the stature that the occasion demanded. Calmly, without any trace of discomfort or panic, he commenced proceedings. He asked the Jew, “Does the armor belong to Hazrat  Ali (radiyallahu anhu)?” The Jew flatly denied it.

Thereupon the Qazi turned to Hazrat Ali (radiyallahu anhu) and calmly requested, “Bring your witnesses to support your claim.”

Hazrat Ali (radiyallahu anhu) produced two witnesses. One was his son and the other was his freed slave, whose  name was Qambar. In his opinion, the evidence of these two was in accordance
to Islamic law.

However Qazi Shurayh (rah) addressed Hazrat Ali (radiyallahu anhu), to bring another witness in place of his son. The evidence of your slave, seeing he was freed is accepted.”

Hazrat Ali  (radiyallahu anhu) replied, “I have no other witness.” Due to the lack of  sufficient evidence – a second acceptable witness – Qazi Shurayh (rah) dismissed the case acting according to the Islamic Shariah and not according to his personal reliance on the truthfulness of Hazrat Ali (radiyallahu anhu).

The defendant in the meantime was observing the entire proceeding with full attention - the high degree of justice where the leader of the Muslim world could lose a case in the face of a just ruling. On leaving the courtroom, he watched intently to see the reaction of Hazrat Ali (radiyallahu anhu). There was not the slightest bit of  annoyance on the face of Hazrat Ali (radiyallahu anhu). Not a word of displeasure regarding the verdict was uttered.

He, being overwhelmed by Ali's  sterling character and the judgment addressed Hazrat Ali (radiyallahu anhu) thus: "The reality of the situation has become quite clear to me, your religion is certainly a true one, and your attitude is its effect on you.” He continued, “Here, take it; the armor, in deed, belonged  to you! And I herewith proclaim that 'I bear witness, there is none worthy of worship besides Allah and Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) is his servant and messenger."

Hazrat Ali (radiyallahu anhu) said, “I, in turn present this armor to you as gift!”

The defendant remained in close association with Ali until he was martyred in a battlefield.

Here is another story on this theme of justice.

It was not something normal for the people of Kufa, when they saw their Caliph Ali (r) rushing out of his home towards the pulpit of Masjid e Kufa, in a manner never witnessed by them before. His cloak was scrubbing the ground and he was running desperately.  Then as he reached the pulpit, he said: "I have got the news that one of my soldiers has snatched an anklet from a Jewish woman. If anyone who listens to this news and dies of grief, his death will be righteous."

Such a man was Ali ibn Abu Talib (r), who could not tolerate injustice done even to the woman who belonged to the non-Muslims. He was prepared to be dragged without shirt on a bed of thorny cactus but not to usurp a single grain out of the mouth of an ant. One of the uniqueness of the character of Ali (r) was his adherence and firmness on the principles of Justice.

Justice when it is not administered in a society results into oppression. Injustice is nothing but oppression.

A dangerous sermon

Today while browsing the internet, I came across a very disturbing sermon, delivered nearly a year ago. Its web-link is provided here.

Several times in the past, I have voiced my serious concern about the hate provocateurs in our world who are no less criminals or terrorists than others who commit crimes and need to  be treated as such.

However, our powerful western leaders have not been fair in their treatment of this cancerous problem. In their knee-jerk paranoia they have been all agog about the problem coming from the world of Muslims, sometimes even violating the very legal precept 'innocent until proven otherwise', which has hitherto earned respect around the globe, by going after loners who were guilty at best of entertaining harmful intent but never acted on those impulses. Even the desire to migrate to ISIS/L controlled territories has been treated as a capital offense.

But when it comes to Julius Streichers within the non-Muslim community they have been quite nonchalant. And this attitude is a serious flawed one epitomizing double-standards and cannot be condoned at all.

Either we apply the same justice for all or we don't target anyone for his or her race or religion. That is what fairness means.

Sadly, our western society complains about inequality across the globe but sets its worst standards and examples when it chooses to ignore its own criminals. With that sickening attitude chicken can only come home to roost!

Associated Press Document by George Jahn on Iran a ‘Crude’ Forgery

The report below is from Jason Deitz who writes for

Former IAEA Official: AP Doc on Iran a ‘Crude’ Forgery

Likens Doc to 'Niger Letter' Ahead of 2003 US Invasion of Iraq

by Jason Ditz, August 21, 2015
The Associated Press track record on Iran is getting worse and worse. After Tuesday’s debacle with a litany of false claims from George Jahn, the AP attempted to save face Wednesday by publishing a transcript of the agreement between Iran and the IAEA on which the allegations were based.
Jahn’s claims and the documentdidn’t perfectly square in the first place, but the real blow here is that a former top IAEA official, Tariq Rauf, has pointed out a number of glaring errors in the document, labeling it a “crude” forgery attempting to derail the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran.
Rauf, a Canadian who serves as director of the Arms Control program for the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, offered anannotated version of the AP’s putative transcript, pointing out among other things that in the second paragraph the transcript actually got Iran’s name wrong, incorrectly labeling them the “Islamic State of Iran.”
That’s more than a minor typo from the Iranian perspective, as the nation refers to itself as the “Islamic Republic of Iran,” and in later cases when they are simply called “Iran,” the preferred shortened version in official documents would be the Islamic Republic.
Ironically they correctly called it the Islamic Republic of Iran at the end, but in the same sentence the IAEA incorrectly identified the title of its own official, calling Tero Varjoranta the “Deputy Director General for Safeguards” as opposed to the “head of the department of safeguards.”
There were other technical errors in the document. An IAEA sample kit contains six swipes, and the text purports that there will be seven samples collected, a figure Rauf suggested was likely arbitrary. The addition of two other swipes outside Parchin, which again is huge, made even less sense, since the whole document is supposed to be about Parchin in the first place.
A lot of the other language just reads wrong, according to Rauf, with a lot of the language inappropriate for an IAEA official document, or referring to things in ways that are not standard IAEA language. The inclusion of a promised visit of the IAEA Director General as a “dignitary guest” likewise made no sense, with Rauf noting he’s “not a tourist” and only goes to countries when there are technical problems to be resolved.
Rauf likens the forgery to “Niger Letter” forgery that emerged ahead of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, and which US officials used as primary evidence for their bogus claims of an active Iraqi nuclear weapons program.

Myanmar denies rights to an ex-Rohingya MP to run in the election

Rohingya people of Myanmar are the worst persecuted people in our planet. They are denied citizenship in the land in which they and their forefathers have lived since time immemorial. They are depicted as outsiders from nearby Bangladesh and are referred as the "Bengalis" to deny their rights inside the racist Myanmar. They can't vote in spite of having their own reps in all previous elections not only competing but also getting elected. Now one of five lawmakers from Myanmar's Muslim Rohingya minority who has sat in the country's national and regional parliaments since 2010 has been barred from contesting the upcoming Nov. 8 national election.

The outrageous act by the racist Myanmar regime deserve our condemnation. 

The report below is from the Asian Review.
     Shwe Maung, speaking to the Nikkei Asian Review on Sunday, said he had received an official notice from the government's election commission that he was not eligible to run in the election - even though he holds a seat in national parliament. He said he would appeal the decision take by the district election sub-commission in Maungdaw, a Rohingya-majority district in northern Rakhine state, bordering Bangladesh.
     "I have seven days to appeal and perhaps tomorrow I will make the appeal at the Rakhine state regional electoral commission," said Shwe Maung, who was elected in 2010 as a lawmaker in Myanmar's lower house, representing the Union Solidarity and Development Party, the military-backed ruling party that recently saw the purge of its erstwhile leader, Shwe Mann, the current speaker of parliament.
     Shwe Maung said that the local election commission, which is part of the national Union Election Commission, said he was deemed ineligible to contest the election as his parents were not citizens of Myanmar.
     Shwe Maung disputes this, saying that both his parents received national identity cards in 1952, four years after the country, then known as Burma, won its independence from Britain.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

War and its profiteers

Who benefits from war? In the last three decades, I have tried to find the answer to this perennial question. All my research work has pointed to the merchants of war, or those who are affiliated with the merchandizing of weapons that kill.

War was at one time a matter of necessity much like life and death. Somewhere down in that equation greed crept in and became more important as a driving force than all other causes. So, emperors arose and empires were born. With the ascendancy of the merchant class since at least the time of Columbus and Vasco Da Gama, it gradually became a major player in empire making and breaking. Let’s fast forward to our time with nation states. Coming in the aftermath of the Second World War, the United Nations was founded 70 years ago in 1945 with the sole objective of saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war and bringing peace in our world. The other objectives are to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.

But far from stopping the curse of war and bringing peace among the nations, the offices of the UN have sometimes been abused by its powerful veto-wielding Security Council members to create the messy world we now live in.

Non-state actors or groups like the makers and traders of war machines, and lobbyists for the cause of war have emerged as the major beneficiaries of war. However, it is often difficult to separate such groups from the state authorities where they function. By tying their knots with those in power, these profiteers of war have been able to influence governments to the extent that it is seen as a win-win proposition for not only the makers and merchants of weapons, but also the very government under whose authority they operate. It is an industry that employs people at various levels, thereby creating job markets for locals, which is always good for politicians that are mindful of the impact of economics on the general population. The heavier the purse or the wallet of ordinary Janes and Joes, the more stable the government or higher the popularity rating of the political leader where people are well fed.

Arms trade is a big business which often involves bribes and commissions paid out to both the buyers and sellers, and those involved in this trade from monarchs to military rulers, from elected politicians to rebels, from agents to lobbyists all benefit from such transactions.

The only victims or losers of war have always been those who got killed or suffered. But since their sufferings rarely matter in this deadly chess game, the merchandizing of war has remained the most important and profitable business in our world. And there is so much to make in this trading! Just look at the weapons bought by the Middle Eastern countries last year.

Military spending in the Middle East reached almost $200 billion in 2014, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks arms sales. That represents a jump of 57% since 2005. Some of the largest increases have been among U.S. allies buying big-ticket items from American weapons makers. That includes Iraq and Saudi Arabia ($90 billion in U.S. weapons deals from October 2010 to October 2014), which, by the way, haven’t fared so well against smaller, less well-armed opponents. Those countries have seen increases in their arms purchases of 286% and 112%, respectively, since 2005.

What would be the Middle East today if those tens of billions of dollars now spent on buying killing machines were instead spent on education, health care and improving the lives of ordinary citizens?

All across the region – from Yemen to Syria to IraqU.S. arms are fueling conflicts and turning the living into the dead.  Still the merchants of war and death remain unsatiated. They desire war over peace. They desire more bloodshed and death.

In recent days, the pro-Israeli war hawks, the Likudniks within Capitol Hill that seat in armchairs and are more commonly referred to as the ‘war party’ inside the USA have been very vocal against the nuclear deal with Iran, which still needs ratification by all parties. They are breathing fire. Hostility towards Iran is rampant and the op-ed pages are ablaze with ‘existential threat’ from this country against ‘poor’ Israel, which, by the way, is the 4th largest military power in our time. Apparently, the peace deal with Iran will not help their cause of war, which could have otherwise brought tens of billions of dollars into their coffers.

Remember Judith Miller of the New York Times who epitomized yellow journalism by propagating lies about the existence of the never-to-be-found WMDs in Iraq? Today’s war party needs another Judith Miller for preparing the case against Iran. Apparently, it has found its newer messenger in George Jahn of AP to do the ‘Judith Miller yellow journalism’. (Consider, for instance, all the latest fuss about George Jahn's yellow journalistic piece in an AP exclusive.)

Our generation needs to be on guard against such yellow journalists and their evil ploys to bring unnecessary war and hostility into our world. Otherwise, we shall never be able to get rid of the curse of perennial war that threatens not only our generation but also our posterity.

No one probably understood the power of the ‘war party’ better than President Dwight Eisenhower. On January 17, 1961, President Eisenhower gave the nation a dire warning about what he described as a threat to democratic government. He called it the military-industrial complex, a formidable union of defense contractors and the armed forces.

Eisenhower was no ordinary man. He was a retired five-star Army general, the man who led the allies on the D-Day. He made the remarks in his farewell speech from the White House after completing two terms in office. It was just days before the new president, John F. Kennedy, would be sworn in. He famously said, "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist."

Since then, the phrase has become a rallying cry for opponents of military expansion. Eisenhower was worried about the costs of an arms race with the Soviet Union, and the resources it would take from other areas — such as building hospitals and schools. Eisenhower also spoke as someone who had seen the horror and lingering sadness of war, saying that "we must learn how to compose differences not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose."

In his remarks, Eisenhower also explained how the situation had developed: "Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of ploughshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions."

He also said, "The jet plane that roars overhead costs three quarters of a million dollars. That’s more than a man will make in his lifetime. What world can afford this kind of thing for long?"

What was merely a quarter million dollars in his time now costs close to quarter of a billion, a thousand fold increase in price tag, which is beyond the reach of anyone making in a lifetime unless one is Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and the super-rich few. [Note: F-22 Raptor fighter plane costs $350 million a piece. The B-2 Spirit costs $2.4 billion. It is hard to detect via infrared, acoustic, electromagnetic, visual or radar signals. This stealth capability makes it able to attack enemy targets with less fear of retaliation. The B-2 bomber was so costly that Congress cut its initial 1987 purchase order from 132 to 21. (A 2008 crash leaves the current number at 20.) In use since 1993, the B-2 has been deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan.  See the link here for the 10 most expensive war planes.]

Fast forward to our time: the situation has simply worsened! What President Eisenhower feared has become a reality in our time. Eisenhower's warning has not made our leaders any wiser.

Pentagon loves the ‘war party’, or so it seems. But I am told that the former secretary Gates was a true Eisenhower pupil who said, "Does the number of warships we have, and are building, really put America at risk, when the U.S. battle fleet is larger than the next 13 navies combined — 11 of which are our partners and allies? Is it a dire threat that by 2020, the United States will have only 20 times more advanced stealth fighters than China? These are the kinds of questions Eisenhower asked as commander-in-chief. They are the kinds of questions I believe he would ask today."

Gates has also discussed the difficulty of cutting military spending: "What it takes is the political will and willingness, as Eisenhower possessed, to make hard choices — choices that will displease powerful people both inside the Pentagon, and out."

Do we have or better yet, will we ever have leaders in the White House with those combinations that Eisenhower possessed? Or, shall we be played like pawns in this chess game of unending wars and sufferings?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Rakhines upset with citizenship verification for the Rohingya - what next?

It is not difficult to guess caustic impact of propaganda on a society that lives in a closed society. Myanmar has been a closed society since the military takeover more than half a century ago. Over the decades supremacy of the majority Burman race and hatred against each of the minority ethnic/ religious groups have been the main diet fed by the military regime. It was the old colonial strategy - divide and rule, which really worked in Burma. No one was immune from its toxic and deadly embrace, even the Nobel laureate Suu Kyi, who is now viewed as a joke around the globe for her silence on genocidal activities directed against the persecuted Rohingya since 2012.


The Rohingyas of Myanmar are denied all rights. They have no citizenship in their homeland. They are treated as outsiders from Bangladesh and termed ‘Bengalis’ in spite of their objections. Under the pretext of verifying their citizenship, the Myanmar government has taken away their ID cards, and many are forced to live in concentration camp-like IDP camps under horrifying conditions since the genocidal activities of 2012 were unleashed against them to totally annihilate them. Past nationality verification schemes in the state have been controversial, with local officials, often accompanied by police, requesting that families register as “Bengali” or be disqualified from the process, and have been widely criticized across the globe.


The citizenship verification process, a largely ill-defined scheme that involves non-nationals providing proof of Burma-born ancestry, has led to several disputes with protesting Rakhines in northern Arakan State. The ongoing citizenship verification drive follows the government’s decision to invalidate the temporary identification documents known as “white cards” earlier this year, disenfranchising up to 800,000 people nationwide. Most holders of the now defunct form of identification are Rohingya, a persecuted Muslim minority who are known as the worst persecuted people in our time.


The verification process has caused disquiet among the racist local Arakanese Buddhists or Rakhines. They claim falsely that immigration officials are overly accommodating of unwarranted claims of Rohingya minorities.


Persons may be able to apply for naturalized citizenship by providing “conclusive evidence” that he/she or his/her parents resided in Burma prior to January 4, 1948—the date of Burma’s independence. The Myanmar law outlines two additional categories of citizens: associate citizens and naturalized citizens. Persons may be eligible under the former category if they qualified for citizenship under the previous 1948 citizenship law.


According to government directives, Rohingya applicants can apply for citizenship and a national registration card if they can prove the required background, with proper documentation, in accordance with the 1982 act.


The Buddhist population who for long has been transformed into a willing partner in crimes against the Rohingya people does not like such measures that would one day grant the rights of voting to Rohingyas. They want them to be wiped out of the map, or forced to leave the Buddhist majority Myanmar, esp. its Rakhine state where the Rohingya comprise just below 50% of the population. Their loss or elimination is considered as a gain for the Rakhine Buddhists. So, the fascist Buddhist groups like the Arakan National Party (ANP), a major political party advocating for the interests of ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, are adamantly against any restoration or so-called concession of rights to the affected Rohingya people.


Even under international pressure and condemnation, nothing has changed in this den of intolerance!


You can read the latest story about citizenship verification process by clicking here.


As already noted, the situation is dire for the Rohingya and they need international help to stop their extinction.


Last May, the Peoples Under Threat index, produced by London-based Minority Rights Group International (MRG), ranked Burma as the eighth most dangerous country in the world for some ethnic and religious minorities, citing armed conflict in the country’s northeast and violence against Rohingya and other Muslims as urgent indicators of future peril.

The annual assessment is intended as an “early warning tool,” which identifies people and groups most at risk of genocide, mass killing or violent repression. While the purpose of the index is to assess and prevent future threats, “mass killing is already underway” in states that top the list, the report said. Burma shared the distinction of top 10 with Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan—the top three—settling at No.8 between Pakistan and South Sudan.

In light of a refugee crisis unfolding in the Andaman Sea, MRG’s morbid prediction probably already came true. Thousands of people from Burma are believed to be floating on rickety boats, abandoned by human traffickers and pushed away by authorities of three other ASEAN nations, in what Human Rights Watch has referred to as a “game of human ping pong.” The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimated that as many as 8,000 people are at risk of dying on the boats, while about 1,000 are believed to have already died since 2014.

David Mathieson, senior Burma researcher for Human Rights Watch, agreed that the negligence of the Burmese government and all other relevant authorities would be tantamount to murder.

“In regards to Rohingya and Bangladeshi boat people, any government that orders pushbacks that result in large scale death is the perpetrator of a mass killing, knowing that a failure to give sanctuary will likely result in death,” Mathieson said.