Archive | May 28th, 2014

India better than ‘other’ Asians for I$raHell, says diplomat


Indians understand I$raHell, linguistically and legally, better than unnamed rival, says Jadeep Sarkar

Times of Israel

Jadeep Sarkar, the Indian ambassador to Israel, believes that Israel should strengthen its relationship with India. As Asia becomes an important Israeli trading partner, a competition of sorts is heating up between India and China, the two Asian giants, for Israeli technology. Israelis see China as the default destination for business deals in the region, but, according to Sarkar, it may be time to consider his country.

“India has been a stable democracy for decades and an effective court system,” Sarkar told the Times of Israel. “We have a large population of technically qualified people who speak English. And there is a comfort level among Israelis in India, many of whom come to visit our country. There’s no reason our two countries should not be able to prosper together.”

In other words, India is all the things that China is not.

Sarkar skillfully avoided saying so blatantly. As a diplomat, Sarkar, in response to a question on the matter, avoided directly comparing his country to China, instead touting India’s advantages. Those perks are significant, as many Israeli businesspeople who work in China can attest. Language barriers can be considerable, and finding a translator who is fluent in both English and Mandarin, largely spoken and understood in China’s industrialized regions, can be challenging. Business culture can also be an issue, and often Israelis have to get used to a whole new way of doing things, say those who have worked in China.

Even more challenging is ensuring that intellectual property is secured, say experts. Enforcement of intellectual property laws in China is very weak, and even if an Israeli company is able to get a judgement against a Chinese company for patent violation, “the penalties are ridiculously low, and often consist of just a fine,” said Zvi Shalgo, chairman of the PTL Group and chairman of the Israeli Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. The Chinese government has in recent years done more to enforce laws already on the books and to pass new ones, he added, but ensuring that intellectual property is protected is still a challenge.

For many Israeli companies, it’s worth putting up with language, culture and legal challenges to do business in China, because the opportunities are so great. But the opportunities in India are just as good, if not better, according to Sarkar. Those opportunities are a lot easier to take advantage of, because Indians and Israelis “largely speak the same language” culturally, legally, and linguistically.

The Indian market is just as big, and hungry, as the Chinese market. “We have many things you lack,” said Sarkar. “India has plenty of manpower, producing 500,000 scientists, engineers and tech workers each year. We have a huge domestic market, with a very large young population that are hungry to get ahead and join the middle class. And India is a great gateway to southeast Asia, Africa, Latin America and to many countries Israel does not have diplomatic or business relations with.”

Israel can do a lot for India as well, Sarkar said. “The Israeli system is exceptional in that it brings together technology and entrepreneurship. You have a wonderful tech incubation system in your universities. Israeli innovation and technology can help solve many of our country’s problems. This is a business relationship that is win-win.”

As Sarkar pointed out, India is already very familiar to many Israelis who have visited there on their post-army “freedom flings.” With so much in common, why hasn’t the business relationship between the two countries blossomed as it has with China? Actually, the two already do a lot of business, mostly in defense and agricultural technology, said Sarkar.

Sarkar would like to see more activity in high-tech fields, including networks, mobile technology, biotech and other hot areas. That deals in those areas have not been as large is the fault of both countries, he said. India has not been as aggressive in understanding what Israel can do, and Israel has not seen India as a place for tech partnership,” said Sarkar. That needs to change, for the benefit of both our countries.”

To help with that process, an organization called India Cyber Connect, led by Vishal Dharmadhikari, is spearheading cooperation in cybersecurity between India and Israel. “Cybersecurity is a good place to launch a more serious tech relationship between Israel and India,” Dharmadhikari said. “With cloud usage growing in India and around the world, more and better security protocols need to be implemented. Israel is a world center of cybersecurity, and I believe that many tech companies in India will benefit from Israeli technology in this area.”

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Investigators divided on terror motives in Brussels Jewish Museum shooting



Belgium, France tighten security in wake of attacks; Brussels Jewish Museum gunman still at large; Israeli victims to be buried in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.


Belgium and France have heightened security around Jewish sites, following attacks on Jews in both countries.

On Saturday a lone gunman entered Brussels’ Jewish museum with a Kalashnikov assault rifle and opened fire, killing three people, including two Israeli tourists. A fourth victim died on Monday, according to museum officials who spoke with CNN.

The gunman is still at large.

On Sunday, assailants jumped two Jewish men outside of a Synagogue in town of Creteil, near Paris, beating them with brass knuckles.

There were no fatalities.

Emanuel and Mira Riva, the Israeli couple killed in Brussels, are slated to be buried at Tel Aviv’s Kiryat Shaul cemetery at 5 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon.

Several Belgian Jewish communal leaders are expected to attend the funeral.

An Israeli official said Emmanuel Riva had formerly worked for Nativ, a government agency that played a covert role in fostering Jewish immigration from the former Soviet Union.

Government officials and Jewish bodies in Belgium and France have indicated that there has been a marked increase in security around Jewish sites since the attacks, with a heavy police presence around synagogues, community centers and schools.

Many Jewish leaders have called on European nations to do more in combating anti-Semitism while several prominent Israeli politicians, including the prime minister, have linked the attacks to what they say is increasing delegitimization of the Jewish state on the continent.

“One anti-Semitic tragedy on the heels of another underscores the very real dangers for Jews today in the heart of Europe, even as we recognize that the governments stand steadfastly against any such manifestations,” David Harris, American Jewish Committee executive director, said in a statement that expressed a sentiment held by many Jewish groups.

“Clearly, far more still needs to be done – from beefing up security at Jewish institutions to stronger intelligence-gathering, from tougher judicial action to, in the longer term, better education in the school systems for fostering a climate of mutual respect,” he said.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also condemned the attack on Monday, saying through a spokesman that he “reiterates his strong condemnation of all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and trusts that Belgian authorities will do everything possible to bring the perpetrator or perpetrators of this crime to justice swiftly.”

French President Francois Hollande likewise attributed the violence to bigotry, saying that “the anti-Semitic nature of the act – a shooting with intent to kill in the Jewish Museum of Brussels – cannot be denied.”

Pope Francis, in Tel Aviv on Sunday, condemned the attack in Brussels, where about half of Belgium’s 42,000-strong Jewish community lives.

“With a deeply saddened heart, I think of all of those who lost their lives in yesterday’s savage attack in Brussels,” he said. “In renewing my deep sorrow for this criminal act of anti-Semitic hatred, I commend to our merciful God the victims and pray for the healing of those wounded.”

While many have attributed the attack to anti-Semitism, including senior Belgian political figures, investigators have yet to conclusively determine the shooter’s motives.

“From the images we have seen, we can deduce that the perpetrator probably acted alone and was well prepared,” said Ine Van Wymersch, a spokeswoman for the Brussels prosecutor’s office.

“It’s still too early to confirm whether it’s a terrorist or an anti-Semitic attack; all lines of investigation are still open,” she told a news conference.

But later, a police statement said that authorities were treating the incident as a terror attack. Given the circumstances surrounding the attack, local investigators have decided to pass the case on to investigators from the national government.

The gunman was “cold-blooded and very determined,” officials said on Monday, leading some security experts to suggest he may have been a hit man rather than an anti-Semitic “lone wolf.”

“The footage shows an individual who acts in cold blood and is very determined,” said Van Wymersch, adding that she was handing the case to federal investigators, a mark of its severity.

“The identity and nationality of the victims is an additional reason to hand the case to the federal level,” she said.

Prosecutors said they were investigating all scenarios and would not speculate on the identity or motive of the gunman.

But some terrorism and security experts said the way in which the assailant carried out the killings suggested planning and execution by a specialist.

Edwin Bakker, professor at the Centre for Terrorism and Counterterrorism at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, said the gunman’s calm manner indicated he had experience.

He added that no organization had claimed responsibility for the attack, suggesting it was not an act of terrorism.

“People use the word terrorism very quickly but when I saw the images I thought this is a hit man,” Bakker said.

Other analysts dismissed the notion that this was some kind of contract killing, saying the daylight attack indicated it was more likely a random attack on Jews.

“I don’t think a professional hit man would have done it this way. It was a guy who was deranged, who had been planning on doing something like this and did it,” said Robert Ayers, a former US intelligence officer.

Rolf Tophoven, an analyst at the Institute of Crisis Prevention in Essen, Germany, drew a parallel with the killing of two US airmen at Frankfurt Airport in 2011 by a young Kosovo Albanian Muslim who had been radicalized online.

“We call this leaderless jihad, people who radicalize themselves on the Internet,” said Tophoven, laying out the “lone wolf” scenario. “It would be the story of the autonomous terrorist whom nobody had on their radar screens, whom nobody knew.”

Belgian Jewish leaders who spoke to The Jerusalem Post said that it was impossible at the moment to identify the killer either as an Islamic extremist or as a native anti-Semite, but said that both scenarios were equally possible.

According to Tel Aviv University anti-Semitism researcher, Prof. Dina Porat, who spoke with the Post on Sunday, until this weekend violence was not a major part of the Belgian Jewish landscape, but other forms of anti-Semitic expression have been on the rise.

“In Belgium,” she said, “the case was more of bad atmosphere, harassment, incitement [and] threats.”

According to a report put out by Kantor and her colleagues at the university’s Kantor Center recently, the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents worldwide in 2013 occurred in France, with 116 distinct incidents counted.

According to research by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 77 percent of Jews polled across the continent did not bother reporting abuse or harassment, indicating that the rate of attacks may be higher than the official figures.

Aliya from France has rapidly grown over the past year, with 854 new immigrants arriving in the first two months of 2014, the Jewish Agency for Israel announced in March.

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India’s Nazi new foreign minister a strong fan of I$raHell


India Nazi Sushma Swaraj, the first woman to hold the post, has called the Zo-Nazi  state ‘a reliable partner’ and admires Golda Meir

Times of Israel

shma Swaraj, India’s newly appointed foreign minister, has in the past publicly defended Israel against naysayers, and is said to be a strong admirer of the late Israeli prime minister Golda Meir.

Swaraj, 62, the first woman to receive the foreign affairs ministerial portfolio, called Israel “a reliable partner” in 2008, according to the Economic Times. The statement arose in the context of criticizing the left-wing parties’ opposition to the Israel-India diplomatic relationship. Swaraj came to Israel’s defense and asserted that the government recognized the significance of ties with the Jewish state as well.

Swaraj also served as chairwoman of the Indo-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group from 2006 to 2009.

As the first female in that – and many other — political positions in India, Swaraj is said to look to Meir for inspiration. Like Swaraj, Meir had served as foreign minister under prime minister David Ben Gurion in 1956.

Swaraj boasts a long list of accomplishments in her 30-odd-year political career: At the age of 25, she became the youngest cabinet member India has ever voted into parliament; she was also the first female chief minister of Delhi and the first female political spokesperson.

Swaraj’s appointment, along with the election of Narendra Modi as India’s new prime minister, bodes well for Israel’s increasingly warm ties with its South Asian ally.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a congratulatory phone call to Modi following his victory in India’s national elections 10 days ago.

During the call, Netanyahu expressed his admiration for Indian democracy and the two leaders agreed to deepen cooperation between the two countries, according to a Reuters report.

Modi, who heads the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), “has long courted political and trade links with the state of Israel,” according to the International Business Times.

Modi had previously visited Israel as chief minister of Gurajat province, a position he held since 2001. During the trip, he suggested that, “as the possible next prime minister, he could make history by journeying to the Jewish state,” the report read.

“Modi’s ties to Israel, which BJP officials strongly endorse, has turned into a financial bonanza for the western Indian province of Gujarat, where he has served as chief minister for the past 13 years,” the report said.

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Zionist Murdered in Brussels Worked for Mossad

emanuel and miriam rivaMiriam and Emanuel Riva, murdered in Brussels by an unknown gunman

An Israeli source confirms a rumor that has circulated in Israeli media circles, that one of the Israelis murdered at the Jewish museum in Brussels worked for the Mossad.  Emanuel and Miriam Riva were both accountants.  He worked for an Israeli government agency called Nativ.  It works among Jews from the eastern bloc and encourages them to make aliyah.  During the Cold War, when Israel worked clandestinely to bring Jews from the Soviet Union to Israel, Nativ had a direct pipeline to Israeli intelligence.  Miriam Riva worked for the Mossad.  As far as my source knows, neither of them was an agent.  So it appears that they were not targeted because of her involvement with the Mossad (though that still remains a possibility).

Channel 10 news earlier reported that they worked in government service in Germany for six years.  The phrase “government service” in Hebrew can sometimes be a euphemism for spy work.  In her case, the phrase fits, but only in the sense that she most likely worked for Israel’s overseas spy service in a capacity.

There is no news yet about the identity of the attacker.  Neither neo-Nazis or Islamists have taken responsibility.  Though clearly that has not stopped Bibi Netanyahu from getting on his high horse and blaming European Israel-haters for the crime.  Bibi’s response is typically nasty, mean-spirited and ideologically-motivated, when it should be thoughtful and out-reaching:

Mr Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, seized on the arrival of Pope Francis in the Holy Land to criticise European reaction as too muted – while blaming the incident on “constant incitement” against Israel by “elements in the Middle East and Europe”.

Speaking on his arrival in Israel, the Pope referred to the attack as “this criminal act of anti-Semitic hatred.”

…”There are elements in Europe that rush to condemn the construction of a flat in Jerusalem but do not rush to condemn – or offer only weak condemnations of – the murder of Jews here or in Europe itself and, even worse, welcome unity with a terrorist element such as Hamas, which calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. We oppose such hypocrisy, we protest against it.”

…”I am very disturbed by the growing anti-Semitism in Europe. There must be zero tolerance for anti-Semitism toward Jews and their state.”

In a typical conflation of anti-Semitism with anti-Israelism, he makes those who condemn Israel’s illegal policies of Occupation and land theft into accessories to Jew-murder.  We must not let him get away with such nonsense.

The truth is that (and I say this without knowing the particulars of the killings) there are people out there who are just deranged enough and just outraged enough to perpetrate murder as a response to Israel’s bloodletting in the Middle East.  Killings of Diaspora Jews (or even Israeli Jewish civilians) are no more justified than Israel’s killings.  But hatred breeds hatred and killing breeds killing.  No matter what any Israel supporter may say about this, Bibi clearly hates Arabs (as his father did before him) and his policies led to the deaths of several thousand Palestinian civilians.  All the killings have to stop, not just those of Jews.

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Six UN members abducted in Syria: foreign ministry


the National

Eleven people, including six members of a UN chemical weapons fact-finding mission, have been abducted by armed groups in Syria, said the foreign ministry.

The ministry said the abductions occurred in the countryside around Hama in central Syria on Tuesday.

It blamed rebels fighting to topple president Bashar Assad, accusing them of committing “terrorist crimes” against the United Nations staff and the UN Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The OPCW, which monitors the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and oversees the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, sent a team to Syria this month to investigate claims that chlorine had been used in the region of Hama.

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As Syria’s war rages, this cradle of civilisation is plundered


the National

Last week, a prominent Arab archaeologist sent me a web­link to a doubly-depressing story from the Hasakeh region of north-east Syria. Bordering Turkey and Iraq, it’s long been one of the poorest areas in the country and now, with control of the area being contested by several of the factions engaged in Syria’s brutal civil war, its 1.7 million people, or those who haven’t already fled across the border, are among those most in need of humanitarian assistance.

Watered by the Khabur river, Hasakeh has seen the birth of some of the earliest civilisations in the region. Indeed, one site, Hamoukar, is considered by some archaeologists to be the oldest city in the world. Dozens of important sites, dating from the Stone Age onwards, have been identified, though few have yet been extensively studied.

There’s no scope for investigations now into what this region has to offer in terms of discovering the origins of agriculture and early urban society. Such studies require a peaceful environment – and that is absent.

The first depressing part of the story is that many sites are being severely damaged by illegal digging, searching for items that can be sold into the underground market for antiquities. Supplies of such artefacts grow dramatically in areas of conflict where the maintenance of law and order breaks down. Local inhabitants, desperate for income, plunder sites, destroying evidence of past civilisations in the search for goods they can sell on to unscrupulous dealers who then put them into the illicit market. Those dealers are often linked with gangs of thugs, thieves and bandits who are themselves to a considerable degree responsible for the level of insecurity that permits the unauthorised digging to take place.

In Hasakeh, such plundering is now apparently widespread. One site that is being affected is that of Tell Ajaja, an important centre during the neo-Assyrian period, around 3,000 years ago. Pictures surfacing on the internet, if authentic, indicate that a number of major discoveries have been made, including large statues and bas-reliefs. If properly excavated and studied, they could yield much valuable information on this early phase of Syrian history. Instead, that opportunity to gain knowledge is being lost.

And the second part of this depressing story? One of the videos recently posted on the internet shows some of the statues being smashed to rubble by gangs from the ultra-fundamentalist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), one of the armed groups competing for supremacy in Hasakeh. Lacking in historical knowledge and indoctrinated by a perverted view of Islam, ISIL’s followers are either unaware that some of the great Islamic civilisations produced art of this type, and did so within the framework of a society where tolerance for the views of others was an essential part of life, or, perhaps more likely, they simply don’t care, glorying in their ignorance.

What lunacy is this? Although the representation of humans may be a controversial topic in some Islamic societies, these statues predate the coming of Islam by 1,500 years or more. They’re not in breach of anything, just like the great statues of Buddha from Bamiyan that were blown to pieces by the ignorant, uncultured Taliban. Instead, they represent important elements of the way in which civilisation has developed, not just since the early 7th century AD, when Islam was revealed, but for millennia before that.

I regret the plundering of Hasakeh’s ancient archaeological sites, because of the loss of knowledge that represents. I can, however, understand the economic imperatives that lead its people to destroy the evidence of their past to survive in a difficult present.

As for the actions of ISIL in reducing these important artefacts of the history of Hasakeh to rubble, I should, I suppose, not be too surprised. Many of the members of the ISIL gangs will be foreign extremists to whom the history of the area means nothing. They are led by evil men who think nothing of slaughtering the innocent just because they have a different set of beliefs, even within Islam.

They care nothing for culture, history or heritage, or even for the basic principles of humanity to be found in all of the world’s religions. They are little better than ignorant and ravening beasts – and many would argue that they are, in fact, much worse. How sad that Hasakeh, a cradle of civilisation, should today be a centre of their ignorance and inhumanity.

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U.S. Wars in the Middle East: Imperialism and the Battle for Water



Global Research

Water is to the twenty-first century what oil was to the twentieth century: the commodity that determines the wealth and stability of nations.

People who think that the West’s interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria are only about oil are mistaken. Broadly speaking, Western interest in the Middle East is becoming increasingly about a commodity more precious than oil, namely water.

According to the U.S.-based Center for Public Integrity, Western nations stand to make up to a US$1 trillion from privatizing, purifying and distributing water in a region where water often sells for far more than oil.

Although over two thirds of our planet is water, we face an acute shortage. This scarcity flies in the face of our natural assumptions. The problem is that 97 percent is salt water. Great for fish, not so good for humans. Of the world’s fresh water, only one percent is available for drinking, with the remaining two percent trapped in glaciers and ice.

Put differently: if all the water on earth was represented by an 11-litre jug, the freshwater would fill a single cup, and we can only access the last drop.

Nature has decreed that the supply of water is fixed; all the while, demand is rising as the world’s population increases and enriches itself. By 2030, climate change, population growth, pollution and urbanization will compound, such that the demand for water globally is estimated to outstrip supply by forty percent.

Increasingly, for water to be useful, it needs to be mined, processed, packaged, and transported, just like gold, coal, gas or oil. Unlike oil, there are no substitutes, alternatives or stopgaps for water.

There have been three waves of resource-driven imperialism in the modern era.

A quest for gold fueled the first wave. Old-fashioned colonialists, regal and unembarrassed, rode in on horseback, brutally took control of American territories, sent in ostrich-plumed governors, minted coins with the Queen’s head on them, and gazed proudly over natives toiling away in perilous mine-shafts. An unprecedented kidnapping of millions of Africans ensued, so as to replace the indigenous Americans that had initially been exterminated by their European conquerors. This coincided with white pioneers brutally conquering Southern Africa, also in search of gold.

The second wave of imperialism has been driven by an unquenchable, post-industrial thirst for oil.

Modern petro-imperialism, the key aspect of which is the U.S. military’s transformation into a global oil-protection armed force, puts up a democratic facade, emphasizes freedom of the seas (or pipeline routes), and seeks to secure, protect, drill, and ship oil, not to administer everyday affairs. Nevertheless, the means by which the U.S. is centering its foreign policy around oil is hardly new in spirit, albeit unprecedented in scope.

The third wave of imperialist wars is currently being fought over nature’s most valuable commodity: water.

Prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, CIA analysts reported on a prediction of a new theater of war: hydrological warfare, “in which rivers, lakes and aquifers become national security assets to be fought over, or controlled”. These predictions became realized in quick succession, beginning with the recent wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria. It is now clear that the age of hydro-imperialism is upon us.

On April 17, 2003, in Iraq, the American company Bechtel received a no-bid reconstruction contract from U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for US$100 billion; thus, making it the largest Iraq reconstruction contract. Therefore, the most lucrative Iraq reconstruction contract was not used to repair oil facilities, build schools and hospitals, or to repair bombarded infrastructure: it was used to source, process, and distribute water.

The secretive, opaque and no-bid nature of the water contract award process is made even worse by one incredible fact. Bechtel has botched many of its previous projects.

In California, Bechtel installed one of the nuclear power plant reactors backwards. In Boston, what promised to be a US$2.5 billion job for an infamous “Big Dig” project became the most expensive in U.S. history costing US$14.6 billion. The tunnel project was plagued by charges of poor execution, corruption, criminal arrests, and even four deaths.

In Bolivia, Bechtel`s record is one of privatizing water by inflating prices by 35 percent.  The inflation caused public riots, in which several people died. Bechtel was ousted from the country and tried to sue the Bolivian government for canceling their contract.

Since the turn of the century, Iraq was the first casualty of hydro-imperialism, and Colonel Gaddafi’s assassination marked the second. Libya sits atop a natural resource more valuable than oil: the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer, which is a vast underground reserve of fresh water, estimated to be the largest in the world. Mr. Gaddafi had invested $25 billion into the aquifer, which had the potential to turn a country that is 95 percent desert into an arable oasis. As it now stands, France’s global mega-water companies: Suez, Ondeo, and Saur, control almost half of the world’s $400 billion water market. They are poised to rake in billions of dollars from Libya’s eighth wonder of the world.

Mr. Gaddafi had intended the scheme to be designed by Libyans, constructed by Libyans, for the benefit of the Libyan population. Now it is being redesigned by Frenchmen and women at inflated costs, constructed by French contractors, largely for the benefit of French shareholders. Libyan taxpayers will undoubtably be stuck with the bill and higher water bills.

The most recent case of hydro-imperialism is the war in Syria. Israel has been leading a Western campaign to support Syrian rebels; in part, because its leaders assert that the Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad, poses an existential threat to Israel on the issue of water. Assad has vowed to reclaim the Golan Heights – a strip of land that Israel captured from Syria in the Six Day War of 1967. The Golan Heights provides a staggering 40 percent of Israel’s fresh water.

“Syrian control of half of our water poses more of a threat than Iran with one bomb”, once remarked ex-Israeli intelligence head, Meir Dagan.

Assad has also been reticent to privatize the water industry and expose the population to predatory pricing, thereby preventing the West from tapping into a multi-billion dollar revenue stream.

Mr. Assad`s refusal to play ball on water privatization and his choice to play hardball over the Golan Heights meant that the Syrian President, like Mr. Hussein and Colonel Gaddafi before him, is an obstacle to the West`s hydro-imperialist agenda.

Control of nature`s most precious and increasingly valuable commodity will, for any nation, spell the difference between greatness and decline. Mr. Hussein, Colonel Gaddafi and a defiant Mr. Assad know that all too well.

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The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money


Saudi Arabia is giving $3bn – yes, £2bn, and now let’s have done with exchange rates – to the Pakistani government of Nawaz Sharif. But what is it for? Pakistani journalists have been told not to ask this question. Then, when they persisted, they were told that Saudi generosity towards their fellow Sunni Muslim brothers emerged from the “personal links” between the Prime Minister and the monarchy in Riyadh. Saudi notables have been arriving in Islamabad. Sharif and his army chief of staff have travelled to the Kingdom. Then Islamabad started talking about a “transitional government” for Syria – even though Pakistan had hitherto supported President Bashar al-Assad – because, as journalist Najam Seti wrote from Lahore, “we know only too well that in matters of diplomatic relations there is no such thing as a gift, still less one of this size”.

Now the word in Pakistan is that its government has agreed to supply Saudi Arabia with an arsenal of anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, which will be passed on – despite the usual end-user certificates claiming these weapons will be used only on Saudi soil – to the Salafist rebels in Syria fighting to overthrow the secular, Ba’athist (and yes, ruthless) regime of Bashar al-Assad. The Americans, in other words, will no longer use their rat-run of weapons from Libya to the Syrian insurgents because they no longer see it as in their interest to change the Assad government. Iraq, with its Shia majority, and Qatar – which now loathes and fears Saudi Arabia more than it detests Assad – can no longer be counted on to hold the Shias at bay. So even Bahrain must be enlisted in the Saudi-Salafist cause; his Royal Highness the King of Bahrain needs more Pakistani mercenaries in his army; so Bahrain, too – according to Najam Sethi – is preparing to invest in Pakistan.

But this is merely a reflection of a far larger movie, a Cinemascope picture with a cast of billions – I’m talking about dollars – which is now consuming the Middle East. It’s a story that doesn’t find favour with the mountebank “experts” on the cable channels nor with their White House/Pentagon scriptwriters, nor indeed with our own beloved Home Secretary who still believes that British Muslims will be “radicalised” if they fight in Syria. Sorry, m’deario, but they were already radicalised. THAT’S WHY THEY WENT TO SYRIA.

But the Taliban is no more going to take over Afghanistan than al-Qa’ida is going to rule Syria or Iraq, nor the Muslim Brotherhood Egypt. “Islamism” is not about to turn our beloved Arab and Muslim Middle Eastern world into a caliphate. That’s for The New York Times to believe.

Let’s just take a look across the region. Corruption in Afghanistan is not just legendary. This is a place where governance, law, electoral rules, tribal ritual and military affairs function only with massive bribes. It rivals North Korea in financial dishonesty (according to Transparency International). Remember the Kabul banking scandal that milked $980m (£584m) from the people (from which only $180m – £107m – was ever recovered)?

The Americans funded the Afghan warlords and then the NGOs spread their cash around the country and now, with the US withdrawal imminent – along with that of America’s NATO mercenaries – the Afghan gang bosses are not especially worried about the Taliban. Nor are they particularly concerned about women’s rights. But they are fearful that the dollars will stop flowing. A militia leader with three villas, 10 4x4s and 200 bodyguards has to find money to pay them when the Americans go home. So they will have to turn to drugs, money laundering and weapons smuggling on a massive scale. Pakistan, of course, is there to help.

In Iraq, mafiosi already run the Shia port of Basra and almost the entire oil output of the south of the country. “Institutionalised kleptocracy” was a minister’s definition of al-Maliki’s government; just take a look at my colleaguePatrick Cockburn’s excoriating account of Iraqi corruption last year. In Syria, the rebels’ fiefdom is run by money mobs. That’s why every hostage has a price, every “Free Syrian Army” retreat – and the word “retreat” must also be placed in quotation marks – must be paid for, by the Syrian government or by the Russians or, most frequently, by the Iranians. The Syrian “civil war” is funded by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, by Libya and by Moscow and Tehran and, when it suits them, by the Americans. We’re so caught up in battlefield losses and war crimes and sarin and barrel bombs that we lose sight of the fact that the Syrian bloodbath – much like the Lebanese bloodbath of 1976-1990 – is underwritten by vast amounts of cash from foreign donors.

Just look at Egypt. The story we are supposed to swallow is that a benevolent if slightly despotic army has saved the country from an Islamist takeover. Just how President Mohamed Morsi – whose grasp of practical governance was about as hopeless as that of your average Egyptian general – was going to turn Egypt into a caliphate was anyone’s guess. Of course, our worthless political leaders – Tony Blair in the lead, naturally – are playing the “Islamist” line for the networks. Egypt was on the path to a medieval Muslim dictatorship, only rescued at the last minute by the defence minister-turned presidential candidate General al-Sisi’s belief in a “transitional government to democracy”.

Yes, the “transitional” road to democracy is all the rage these days. But the real counter-revolution in Egypt was not the overthrow of the pathetic Morsi, but what followed: the army’s re-establishment of its massive financial benefits, its shopping malls and real estates and banking, which bring in billions of dollars for the country’s military elite – and whose business dealings are now constitutionally safe from the prying eyes of any democratically-elected Egyptian government, “transitional” or otherwise. And if al-Sisi is elected the next President of Egypt – O Blessed Thought – woe betide anyone who suggests that the army, which is still the recipient of billions from the US, should clean up its multi-million dollar conglomerates.

All this is to say that the Middle East we must confront in the future – and it will be of our making as surely as the mass slaughter of its people have been primarily our responsibility – will not be a set of vicious caliphates, of Iraqistan or Syriastan or Egyptstan. No, there is one international, all-purpose name which we will be able to bestow upon almost all the states of the region, united as they have never been since the demise of the Ottoman Empire.

We will understand its masters all too well. We shall support them. We shall love them. Our Tony will understand them – Catholicism, after all, has its own history of corruption and the Vatican, as we have learned, has its own gangsters. Our enemy is not – Cameron and Hague, please take note – terror, terror, terror. It is money, money, money. Dirty money.

For the name of this brave new world will be Mafiastan.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

Syrians Slap Smelly Shoes In the Faces of Zionism and Modo-Colonialism



In 2012, when Syrians held a referendum and adopted the by far most democratic constitution among Middle Eastern countries, they slapped a smelly shoe into the face of Zionism and Modo-Colonialism. In May 2014, Syrians unite again and extend their arms to slap an even more smelly shoe into the face of Zionism and Modo-Colonialism on June 3, 2014 when they hold the country’s first democratic election.

The old shoes have been worn by Zionism and Modo-Colonialism for years. Just in case that the mere stench is not enough to throw them into convulsions, this time around the people of Syria will make sure that the slap in their faces will be a knock-out blow.

Genuine Reform Comes from Within. In early 2012 the people of Syria adopted a new constitution. The draft had been written with participation of the a broad spectrum of Syrian experts, including those who can be counted to the real, the genuine, Syrian opposition.

An opposition that has now, for more than three years, participated in a political discourse aimed at reform in four consecutive steps.

The adoption of a new constitution, the adoption of a program toward political reform, presidential, and parliamentary elections. It is when these preconditions for reform with the people of Syria, not Zionism, not modo-colonialism, but the people of Syria as “sovereign” have been fulfilled, that a sovereign people can and will determine how to reform their country and its political system.

Let us for a moment reflect on the term modo-colonialism and why it is that I use it. It is not neo-colonialism, as narrowly defined by the early post-colonial African thinkers. Modo-Colonialism is colonialism here and now, its manifestation within the actuality of an ongoing, living and lived political discourse. It is the “nous” of the philosophers if you will.

It is the fashion of the day; the bloody garments of oppression, subversion, usurpation and right-out murder which it fashions to wear here and now at the ticking heart of history.


Adoption of 2012 Constitution a Slap in the Face of Zionism and Modo-Colonialism.

When the people of Syria adopted the proposed draft resolution in 2012, they shun a light; as if a beacon had been lit in an Arab world where neighbors like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, politically and with regard to human rights, never progressed from the dark ages of medieval tyranny.

No other Arab people and nation have a constitution that guarantees and protects the rights of minorities as well as the rights of women and children as much as the Syrian constitution.

In fact, with regard to enshrining human rights in the constitution, the people of Syria could teach valuable lessons even to Israel, which likes to describe itself as the “only democracy in the Middle East”, or Germany which does not enshrine human rights in its, still intermediate” basic law.

What endowed the adoption of the constitution with the quality of a “slap in the face” of Zionism and Modo-Colonialism was the fact that it was adopted under the hardships which were unleashed against the people and the nation of Syria.

Dumas, photo courtesy of SANA

Let us recall, for a moment, the words of former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumaswho admitted that the war on Syria was planned two years before “The Arab Spring”Dumas stated in a TV interview, that “top British officials” confessed that they were preparing a war on Syria and asked “If I wanted to participate”. Dumas appeared in a TV interview with the French TV Channel LPC, saying:

 “I am going to tell you something. I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business. I met with top British officials, who confessed to me, that they were preparing something in Syria. …This was in Britain not in America. Britain was organizing an invasion of rebels into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer Minister of Foreign Affairs, if I would like to participate. Naturally, I refused, I said I am French, that does not interest me. …This operation goes way back. It was prepared, preconceived and planned… in the region it is important to know that this Syrian regime has a very anti-Israeli stance. …Consequently, everything that moves in the region…- and I have this from a former Israeli Prime Minister who told me ´we will try to get on with our neighbors but those who don´t agree with us will be destroyed. It is a type of politics, a view of history, why not after all. But one should  know about it”.

Everyone who cares can study the constitution and convince him- or herself about how human rights and minority rights, as well as political, participatory rights have been enshrined in its architecture. It has been translated into a number of languagesincluding English.

That said, let me quote a few passages from its preamble, which really turned it into a slap in the face of Zionism and Modo-Colonialism. That includes the faces of Modo-Colonialism’s Vice-Roy’s and Quislings in the Middle East.

“Arab civilization, which is part of human heritage, has faced through its long history great challenges aimed at breaking its will and subjecting it to colonial domination, but has always risen through its own creative abilities to exercise its role in building human civilization.”

“The Syrian Arab Republic is proud of its Arab identity and the fact that its people are an integral part of the Arab nation. The Syrian Arab Republic embodies this belonging in its national and pan-Arab project and the work to support Arab cooperation in order to promote integration and achieve the unity of the Arab nation.”

“The Syrian Arab Republic considers international peace and security a key objective and a strategic choice, and it works on achieving both of them under the International Law and the values of right and justice.”

“The Syrian Arab role has increased on the regional and international levels over the past decades, which has led to achieving human and national aspirations and achievements in all fields and domains. Syria has occupied an important political position as it is the beating heart of Arabism, the forefront of confrontation with the Zionist enemy and the bedrock of resistance against colonial hegemony on the Arab world and its capabilities and wealth. The long struggle and sacrifices of our people for the sake of its independence, progress and national unity has paved the way for building the strong state and promoting cohesion between the people and their Syrian Arab army which is the main guarantor and protector of the homeland’s sovereignty, security, stability and territorial integrity; thus, forming the solid foundation of the people’s struggle for liberating all occupied territories.”

Sportsmanship and The Honorable Thing To Do for A Real Syrian.

All honor and respect belongs to anyone who registered his candidacy for the presidential elections. That includes those who registered their candidacy but failed at gathering the sufficient number of signatures to have their candidacy approved by the Supreme Constitutional Court. Each of these candidates has defied threats against his life and safety and made an unequivocal and implied statement, saying

“I defy your threats, your murderous terrorism on behalf of Zionism and Modo-Colonislism, and I denounce anyone who wants to impose a solution on me and the people of Syria that would deprive us of our constitutionally guaranteed rights.”

Bashar al-Assad

The three candidates who succeeded at gathering the sufficient number of signatures have shown further honor and sportsmanship. This includes candidate Dr. Bashar al-Assad as much as Maher Abdul-Hafiz Hajjar and Dr. Hassan al-Nouri.

Their names will remembered in Syria’s now more than 6.000 year-long history as the first presidential candidates who contested Syria’s first fully democratic presidential elections. Allow me to forecast what history, “Syrian” history will have to report about them.

Dr. Bashar Hafez al-Assad will be remembered as the founding father of Syria’s democracy who succeeded at implementing the most democratic system among Arab nations while the country was under a sustained and vicious attack by a 4th generation, unconventional war that was forced upon it by Zionism and Colonialism.


Maher Abdul-Hafiz Hajjar and Dr. Hassan al-Nouri will be remembered as two honorable Syrians who rose to the occasion, knowing that the circumstances of war would make it unlikely that they would win, but they participated anyways.


They defied personal risks, defied those foreign powers who wanted to denigrate them, and stood up for Syria because it was the right thing to do.

They will have an eternal place in the history of Syria and the history about the birth of Syrian democracy.

All three of them, Dr. Bashar Hafez al-Assad, Maher Abdul-Hafiz Hajjar and Dr. Hassan al-Nouri, will rightfully be remembered as the three founding fathers of Syria’s democracy.


The people of Syria can hardly wait until June 3. Eager to launch those smelly shoes into the faces of Zionism and Modo-Colonialism, they are rallying. They defy Washington’s Ankara’s, Qatar’s, Saudi Arabia’s death squads and take to the streets.

A comparison with a religious proverb that is shared by the Mosaic faith, Christianity and Islam comes to mind.

“Let him who is free of guilt throw the first stone”.

After three years of war forced upon them by Zionism and Modo-Colonialsim, after more than 160.000 lost lives, after the displacement of over 2.5 million, the people’s reply to that proverb is an unequivocal.

“I want to be the first to throw a rotten, smelly shoe in their faces, in fact, I want to rub their noses with it first and slap them until they faint from their own stench.”

Over the last days, the people of Syria have held election rallies throughout Syria. In Tartous, the people rallied, announcing their commitment to elect their president against all odds and honoring the martyrs who have given their lives to bring them to this point in history.

In Damascus, the Kurdish National Movement for Peaceful Change rallied at Omayyad Square under the motto “together, towards a new Syria”.

Another rally was held in Quneitra where people celebrated the election as victory over terrorism. In Sweida, the Teachers Syndicate celebrated a festival in support of the elections and in support of the Syrian Army that made it possible.

In the village of al-Soura al-Saghira people rallied in defiance of threats. Thousands of citizens of al-Dabbousiyeh and neighboring villages in the countryside of Homs took to the streets in support of the elections.Other rallies were held in al-Qabo, al-Insha’at, al-Naisiye, in Talkalkh, al-Slalibeh, Jableh, Kalmako,Qamishli . ….. .. .

All of them, everywhere are ready to cast their vote on June 3 and to throw that smelly rotten shoe right there where it is most well deserved.

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Event for the children of Gaza Saturday May 31st


Support the children of Gaza at an awareness raising and commemorative event
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A powerful event for the suffering children of besieged Gaza
Saturday 31st May 3.30 – 5.30pm
Bristol Palestine Centre and Museum
The Arc, 27 Broad St, BristolAt the beginning of 2009, Israel launched a devastating assault on the civilian population of Gaza, targeting families with children in a barbaric act of ethnic cleansing. The assault left Gaza in ruins, and Israel followed this up with a siege that has prevented the suffering families of Gaza from rebuilding their shattered land, or having enough medical supplies for the sick and injured.

On the night of the 31st of May 2010, a flotilla of humanitarian aid ships, bound for Gaza with building cement and medical supplies, was assaulted on the high seas in an act of war that left nine dead and dozens seriously injured. The aid was stolen. The suffering in Gaza continues.

The BBC, and many other journalists and politicians in Britain and the USA, have deliberately covered up for all this, putting out lies as news and libelling the victims of Israeli assault. Most people in Britain don’t know the shocking story of what’s happened to the children of Gaza, or what happens to aid workers who try to help, because Britain officially supports the murderers and abusers.

But the truth will be told. We will commemorate the slaughtered innocents. And we will stand together to support the victims of crime against humanity, and oppose all those who commit or cover up for those crimes.

Event for the suffering children of Gaza
Saturday 31st May                  Free admission

3.30pm: Operation Cast Lead

Introduction to Gaza
Film: The children of Operation Cast Lead
Live Skype link to Gaza
Candle commemoration for the children of Operation Cast Lead

4.10pm: Operation Sea Breeze

Introduction to the Free Gaza Flotilla and the Mavi Marmara
Talk by a survivor of the assault on the Mavi Marmara
Film: The aid volunteers of Operation Sea Breeze
Candle commemoration for the victims of Operation Sea Breeze

4.50pm: The BBC’s support for crime against humanity

Introduction: British and US lying to protect murderers
Film: Propaganda and the murders on the Mavi Marmara
Book presentation: exposing the propaganda and telling the truth

Conclusion: we will stand together and oppose the murder and abuse of the children of Gaza. One day they will be free.

5.30pm: Palestinian food in the Arc Café

Note: Depending on whether or not we can secure a Skype link to Gaza, and if so, how much our contacts there talk to us, the event may run later than 5.30. Please feel free to come or go at any time during the event.

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Copyright © 2014 Palestinian Museum Centre, All rights reserved.
You receiving this email because you opted when visit the museum, at our website, you member or the Arc Community, or you show an interest at different event.Our mailing address is:

Palestinian Museum Centre

27 Broad Street, Bristol, United Kingdom

Bristol, BS1 2HG

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