With all the upheaval in the skies and on the ground, here is one person's opinion on why the U.S. is fighting beside Iran in Iraq and against it in Yemen. Putin tells Iran that an immediate ceasefire is needed in Yemen. All the while...negotiators from six world powers (the P5+1) are attempting to strike a deal with Iran to restrict its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief. As Iran nuclear talks 'enter endgame' in Switzerland...China and Russia say they will show up tomorrow. Keeping things cloaked in intrigue: the US accuses Israel of spying on nuclear talks with Iran and Putin says Western spies plot against Russia before polls, blurs the picture further.
How can we get a less hyperbolic assessment of the state of the world? Certainly not from daily journalism. News is about things that happen, not things that don’t happen. We never see a reporter saying to the camera, “Here we are, live from a country where a war has not broken out”—or a city that has not been bombed, or a school that has not been shot up. As long as violence has not vanished from the world, there will always be enough incidents to fill the evening news. And since the human mind estimates probability by the ease with which it can recall examples, newsreaders will always perceive that they live in dangerous times.
Forty maps that explain the Middle East. Includes sections on Middle East history, the region today, Israel-Palestine, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and oil, Iraq and Libya, and "points of light." [more inside]
On Oct. 11, provided the government shutdown doesn’t interfere, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C., will open an exhibit titled “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage.” On display will be some of the rarest of the materials that were salvaged from the flooded basement of the Mukhabarat, Saddam Hussein’s dreaded intelligence service. All told, the collection contains an estimated 2,700 books and tens of thousands of documents that once belonged to the Jews of Baghdad, who, until they began to flee for Israel in the wake of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, constituted one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world, dating back more than 2,500 years. - In the chaos of the 2003 war, remnants of a once-thriving Jewish past were saved (or stolen?) by America. Where do they belong? [more inside]
Since the end of March, the Wall Street Journal's new Middle East Real Time blog has written about Turkey's "unstoppable" export boom in soap operas, Saudi Arabia's "life after jihad" rehab program, the persistence of obviously fraudulent bomb detectors across Iraq, YouTube branding discussions among Syrian rebel factions, a rising media star Sunni cleric in Lebanon, a post-revolutionary Cairo arts festival, and attempts to overcome conservative objections and change the Saudi Thursday-Friday weekend to match the rest of the business world. Previous non-paywalled WSJ Real Time blogs include Korea, China, Canada, India, Brussels, Emerging Europe, Japan.
Syria Options Go From Bad To Worse
As reports have surfaced of possible use of sarin gas in the Syrian civil war, calls by long-time proponents of U.S. intervention on behalf of the anti-Assad rebels have grown to a fever pitch. These same voices, both at home and abroad, have evoked the administration’s previously stated “red line” on use of chemical weapons. But even assuming that reports of WMD usage in Syria turn out to be true, the Obama Administration’s position may be far more nuanced than previously thought.[more inside]
The Sabich is a popular Israeli pita sandwich based on the traditional Babylonian-Jewish Shabbat morning meal. It it is usually seasoned with Amba, the mango pickle condiment of Indian Origin which the Baghdadi Jewish community of India brought to Baghdad (along with Sambusak, a variant of the Simosa). [more inside]
“I had reached the point of no return. You finally get fed up … I finally wanted to speak the truth.”
Last year, the unofficial Dean of the White House Press Corps, Helen Thomas, spoke about the State of Israel on camera. (Previously) Her replies: "Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine," and that the Jews "can go home" to "Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else," sparked media outrage, prompted her to issue an apology and retire. After months of being out of the the public spotlight, she has now given her first long-form interview, which will appear in the April issue of Playboy Magazine. In it, she explains what she meant, tells us how she would like to be remembered and expands upon her positions regarding Israel, Jewish political influence, Presidents Bush and Obama, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Suicide bombers from Lebanon, the West Bank, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Chechnya have two things in common: they are Muslim and they live under occupation. University of Chicago Professor Dr. Robert A. Pape, who has assembled a comprehensive database of every (or nearly every) suicide bombing since 1980, has been the most prominent proponent of the view that it is occupation, not religion, that is the single most important motivating factor for suicide bombers... more than 95% of suicide bombers come from countries under occupation... Pape and his colleagues at the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism, ask What Makes Chechen Women So Dangerous? -Via The Washington Note
Forty years on. After a quick buildup, the Six Day War started 40 years ago today and reshaped the Middle East. At the time, Israel's quick win looked like a triumph, but after 40 years the war is still being fought and it looks like it may have been a pyrrhic victory.
22 basic suggested readings on the Middle East from history professor and informed commenter on Middle Eastern affairs Juan Cole.
I Know I'm Not Alone: 10 minute embedded video interview of Michael Franti regarding his jaunt to Iraq (and Palestine/Israel), originally broadcast on CBC's The Hour.
A Powerful Lobby The Middle East scholar Martin Kramer takes on the various writers, sites, that proclaim that the American invasion of Iraq is but one more indication of the Jewish/Israeli Lobby influence in America. One of the nuttiest passages in "The Israel Lobby," the co-production of professors Stephen Walt (Harvard) and John Mearsheimer (University of Chicago), occurs in the very first footnote. (It's in the full version, on the website of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.)... and, in addtion addresses our involvement in Iraq, caused, claim some, by "Jewish/Israeli interests." [more]
Seeing Only Evil: An Interview with Retired CIA Agent Robert Baer, Author of See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War Against Terrorism.
Iraqi Indicted for Proposal to Open Talks With Israel Bringing democracy to the Middle East--let freedom ring. "A court of Iraq's interim government has brought criminal charges against a prominent politician for attending an antiterrorism conference in Israel and publicly suggesting that Iraq should open talks with Israel. The indictment and arrest warrant, based on a 1969 law promulgated by the Baath Party that bars Iraqis from having contacts with enemy states, are likely to anger the United States government, which has sponsored Iraq's new courts and is a close ally of Israel." So it goes...
The French Pro-Nuclear Proliferation Lobby "...I have no hesitation in saying that we must consider giving the Arab side a large enough force, including a large enough nuclear force, to persuade Israel that it cannot simply do whatever it wants. That is the policy my country (France) pursued in the 1970s when it gave Iraq a nuclear force..." -- Paul-Marie Couteaux, Member of the European Parliament
Anybody see this coming? The United States has asked Israel to check the possibility of pumping oil from Iraq to the oil refineries in Haifa. The request came in a telegram last week from a senior Pentagon official to a top Foreign Ministry official in Jerusalem.
What if Saddam does have these weapons of mass-destruction? Hussein's senior bodyguard has fled to Israel with details of Iraq's secret arsenal. His revelations have supported US President George W. Bush's claim there is enough evidence from UN inspectors to justify going to war.
America Can Persuade Israel to Make a Just Peace An op-ed piece by former president Jimmy Carter that is going to get a lot of play in the media. Unfortunately, Mr. Carter seems to suggest a rather easy solution: give back the Palestinian lands and have the Palestinians recognize Israel's right to exist. Put the pressure on Israel by withhold financial aid till they do as we bid. Problem: Palestinians being subsidized by Iraq, Iran, EU and Syria. What about pressure on them? And: Palelstinian issues still in need of resolving: capital and Right of Return....with this left out, we are still not going to get peace. Does Carter simplify or is he on target? reg reqd.
Middle East war predictions "..what we are witnessing looks like joint preparations by the Palestinian Authority, Syria, its Lebanese client, Iraq, and Iran, for war on a regional scale, against both Israel and U.S. interests. I fear we may face a major, sudden, external assault on Israel, meant to precede U.S. action against the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, and indeed prevent the U.S. from going there by enmiring it in the defence of Israel. [From The Ottowa Citizen, lead link in today's Wall Street Journal Best of the Web]
Saddam stokes war with suicide bomber cash. "The hall was packed and the intake of breath was audible as a special announcement was made to the war widows of the West Bank - Saddam Hussein would pay $US25,000 ($47,000) to the family of each suicide bomber as an enticement for others to volunteer for martyrdom in the name of the Palestinian people."
Terror and Liberalism I have found this piece in The American Prospect to be one of the most balenced pieces I have yet come across. It considers all aspects of the terrorist groups--Israel, American policy, poverty, Iraq, fundamentalisim, history of the area, westernization, etc and finds the rights and wrongs in each, offering finally a way to cope with things in the future while at the same time dealing with present needs. In other words, it avoids the overly simplistic formulas offered by so many stalwarts of the far Right or far Left.
Iraq may have financed attacks... Title says it all. Go read.
U.S. sending Patriot missles to Israel Iraq moves troops close to Syrian border and announces it is a military exercise. The U.S. moves Patriot missle outfit to Israel with some troops and announces it is a military exercise. My trainer told me that sometimes you can overdo the exercising.