Archive | August 9th, 2016

Obama Prepares to Reinforce the Militarized Police Occupation of Black America

NOVANEWS

By Glen Ford

Black activists confronted police terror on the cops’ own turf, July 20, with actions at the Washington, DC, lobbying offices of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association headquarters in New York City. In stark defiance of demands that they stand down in the wake of the killings of eight police officers in Baton Rouge and Dallas, Black Youth Project 100 and Black Lives Matter took the struggle to the very doorsteps of police political power: their unions, the bargaining and lobbying powerhouses that have erected interlocking legal walls of impunity around cops, making them the most protected “class” in the nation.

Protesters rejected the official mythology, that cops risk life and limb to “protect” the community. “They are not at risk. Police officers are the threat,” wrote BYP 100’s New York City chairperson Rahel Mekdim Teka. “Police do not keep us safe. Police do not protect us. They are the danger that keeps Black people unsafe.” Demonstrators at the two protest sites demanded action to “defund the police, and fund black futures.”

It is now common for protesters to demand that police funding be redirected to community social needs. This demand rejects the legitimacy of the armed occupation of Black communities, and makes a claim to control of the allocation of resources in those communities — a step towards self-determination.

President Obama, however, has diametrically opposite plans for these communities. According to the Reuters news agency, Obama is preparing to reverse his decision to ban the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars in armored vehicles, battlefield weapons and riot gear to local police departments. The president reportedly agreed to review the restrictions after meeting with leaders of the Fraternal Order of Police and the National Association of Police Organizations.

Obama’s short-lived retreat from the federal government’s frenzied militarization of local police, announced with great fanfare in May of 2015, was his sole substantial concession to the movement that swept the nation after the rebellion in Ferguson, Missouri. The sight of armored vehicles and battle-ready cops on the streets of American cities was an international embarrassment for the United States — bad “optics” for the First Black President’s legacy. However, the sad truth is that Obama is responsible for the biggest escalation in the history of the one-sided war against Black America.

A recent study show that, under the Pentagon’s 1033 program, enacted in 1997, the value of military weapons, gear and equipment transferred to local cops did not exceed $34 million annually until 2010, the second year of the Obama administration, when it nearly tripled to more than $91 million. By 2014, the year that Michael Brown was shot down — and when the full Congress, including 32 members of the Congressional Black Caucus, rejected a bill that would have shut down the 1033 program — Obama was sending three quarters of a billion dollars, more than $787 million a year, in battlefield weaponry to local police departments. In other words, President Obama oversaw a 24-fold (2,400%) increase in the militarization of local police between 2008 and 2014. Even with the scale-back announced in 2015, Obama still managed to transfer a $459 million arsenal to the cops — 14 times as much weapons of terror and death than President Bush gifted to the local police at his high point year of 2008.

This was not simply a “surge” in militarization of the police; Obama escalated the war against Black and brown communities by several orders of magnitude. Based on these numbers, Obama is the biggest domestic war hawk in the history of the United States — bigger than Bush, Clinton and all his predecessors since the genesis of the Black mass incarceration regime in the late Sixties.

No wonder all it took was a conversation with two police organizations, this month, to put Obama back on the urban warpath. His return to full combat domestic mode is not an exaggerated response to the death of eight cops in Baton Rouge and Dallas — that was only an excuse to reinstate his original Order of Battle. Obama came into office with the intention of vastly reinforcing the two-generations-long siege of Black America, but was temporarily chastened by the emergence of a resistance movement during his second term. Now he’s preparing to double-down on the strategy by setting a new bar for the politicians that will follow him into the Oval Office: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Such is the legacy of the First Black President.

What separates the current era of mass Black incarceration, and all of its attendant police atrocities, from the period before the 1960s, is that the “New Jim Crow” has been financed and directed by the federal government. In previous eras, mass incarceration was a state affair. However, since passage of the Law Enforcement Assistance Act of 1968, the feds have made suppression of Black people a national priority, directing, coordinating and financing a vast expansion and militarization of local police, as well as a seven-fold increase in per-capital prison capacity.

The Obama administration marks a new stage in the street war against Black and brown people — a war he escalated before the emergence of a new Black movement, rather than in response to it. Activists should dismiss, out of hand, the Obama administration’s propaganda about “community policing,” a catch-all for finessing an ever deeper police presence in Black communities. When Obama was earmarking $163 million for US Justice Department “community policing” projects in 2015, he was simultaneously budgeting more than half a billion dollars for militarization of the police. Conclusion: Obama is willing to invest limited funds in cultivating more snitches, but he’s really gung-ho about outfitting the cops with tanks, machine guns and grenade launchers.

In light of such stark realities, there can be no pause in mobilizing Black America and its allies for the clashes to come. Clinton or Trump will surely build on Obama’s lethal legacy. Black people must draw on our own legacy of resistance, with the clear understanding that self-determination is the ultimate goal of the struggle. Self-determination — which is the purpose and fruit of democracy — requires the ultimate expulsion of occupying forces from Black communities. It is Black people’s — and allpeople’s — right to achieve self-determination by any means necessary. The choice of the means is the stuff of politics. It is critical that the full range of self-determinationist politics be thoroughly explored by the emerging Black movement with all deliberate speed, especially in light of Obama’s planned escalation of the war of occupation in Black America.

The next venue in that discussion is August 13 and 14, in Philadelphia, when the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations holds a conference on a National Black Political Agenda for Self-Determination. One of the proposed Agenda points demands “the immediate withdrawal of all domestic military occupation forces from Black communities.” This is a democratic demand that “assumes the ability of Black people to mobilize for our own security and to redefine the role of the police so that it no longer functions as an agency imposed on us from the outside.”

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Palestine: Nazi Apartheid War on Water

NOVANEWS
Apartheid Israel’s War on Water

By: Sumaya Awad  

Construction equipment rolls through Ramallah, Palestine, on April 29, 2011. (Photo: Michael Rose)Construction equipment rolls through Ramallah, Palestine, on April 29, 2011. (Photo: Michael Rose)

London is known the world over for its rainy weather, so most people would be shocked to find out that Ramallah, one of the largest cities in the West Bank, actually receives more annual rainfall. So why during the month of June did Palestinians face some of the harshest water shortages in decades?

The answer is as simple as it is outrageous. Since 1967, when it first occupied the West Bank, Israel has seized control of almost all the major water resources there. Annual quotas on the Palestinian consumption of water are strictly enforced, and attempts by Palestinians to develop their own water infrastructure have been thwarted by the Israeli military.

In 2011 alone, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) destroyed 89 water structures. The only source of underground water in the West Bank is the Mountain Aquifer, of which Israel controls 80 percent. Palestinians are also not permitted to draw water from the Jordan River.

The destruction of Palestinians buildings — whether homes, outdoor bathrooms, cisterns or other rainwater gathering structures — is often justified by the Israeli army on grounds that they are “weak infrastructure.” The other usual pretext for demolition is the lack of building permits — permits that the Israeli government makes near impossible for Palestinians to obtain.

So while Palestinian towns and villages in the West Bank struggle to find adequate water resources for their parched communities, Jewish-only settlements right next door live well hydrated on occupied land using appropriated water sources.

To quantify this, Palestinians consume 70 liters of water per capita per day on average, according to a report from Amnesty International. In some areas, the figure is as low as 20 liters per day, well below the 100 liters per capita recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). By contrast, Israelis consume up to 300 liters per capita per day.

***

Such staggering inequality in water consumption is not only indicative of the discrimination in resource distribution, but of the apartheid laws on which the Israeli state is built.

Lush gardens, swimming pools and green lawns sit only a couple miles from completely dry villages, where Palestinians receive water once a week, or once every few weeks, if at all. Put more vividly, 450,000 Israeli settlers use more water than the 2.3 million Palestinians living in the West Bank combined. As a result, Palestinians are forced to spend as much as a quarter of their income on water tanks from private businesses.

Aside from the daily incursions, house demolitions and raids that Palestinians in the West Bank endure, the restrictions on the mobility of people and goods make it difficult for Palestinians to develop water sanitation infrastructure of their own or to use naturally built water infrastructure, such as caves.

Consider the Palestinian town of Susya, for example, in the West Bank not far from Hebron, which used to use water cisterns and caves to gather rainwater to use for irrigation. In 1999 and 2000, Israeli troops raided the village, attempted to expel its inhabitants, sealed off the caves and destroyed the cisterns. These demolitions are part of the Israeli plan to terrorize inhabitants and force them to move elsewhere, allowing Israeli forces to use the land for more illegal settlements.

The system of permits designed by the Israeli state to restrict access to water, sanitation and infrastructure is an added obstacle to the creation and maintenance of any sustainable water systems.

While the village of Susya fights a daily battle to obtain barrels of water from nearby cities, often enduring hour-long waits at checkpoints and spending large sums of money on poor quality water, the nearby settlement Shadmot Mechola, according to the Amnesty International report, advertises on its website “breathtaking tours of Amaryllis bulbs hot houses, tours of dairy farms, vineyards and orchards, (and) tours of farms in the Jordan Valley who specialize in crops of vegetables, fruits, flowers and spices for export in hot dry climate.”

The site fails, of course, to note that these crops grow on occupied land fed by water stolen from Palestinian villages while Palestinians only a few miles away struggle to get by on approximately five gallons of water a week.

***

During the month of June — which was also the month of Ramadan this year, during which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset — the national Israeli water company Mekorot restricted water distribution to certain areas of the West Bank. Residents in these areas were forced to live on less than half their normal water allocations.

Shaher Eshtieh, the mayor of Salfit, which is one of the villages affected by the water crisis, told Aljazeera:

We’ve never seen anything like this; we are in full crisis mode, working around the clock to help our people, but we are doing this on our own…We’ve continuously reached out to the Palestinian government, the prime minister even, but they’ve been no help, and the Israelis are denying there is a problem.

For the past three days, my house has had a bit of water, just enough for drinking and cooking — not cleaning or anything — but before that, we were without any water at all for more than a week…It would be hard to live without water under normal circumstances, but during Ramadan we are all fasting and it’s so hot, this is miserable.

Other areas in the West Bank had to wait 40 days before receiving half their weekly quota from Mekorot.

When crises like these hit, Palestinians are forced to buy water from private companies. Given the conditions of rampant unemployment and poverty in Palestinian communities due to years of economic strangulation by Israel’s occupation, many residents simply don’t have the extra money to purchase water from private companies.

If forced to buy water for high prices in order to feed cattle and avoid the myriad of illnesses that result from poor hydration or contaminated water, many residents find themselves in debt.

Israeli control of Palestinian water allocations is in line with its ongoing occupation of Palestinian land. The Israeli apartheid state flourishes and expands in partbecause of its appropriation of water resources, land and coastal territory.

***

As the water crisis in the West Bank has become more dire, so has the situation in Gaza, the largest open-air prison in the world today.

Ever since Israel’s blockade of Gaza began in 2007, the Mediterranean Sea has been deemed off limits to Gaza’s residents. This leaves the coastal aquifer as Gaza’s main water source. Ninety-six percent of the water provided by the aquifer, however, is deemed unfit for human consumption.

According to Abeer Abu Shawish:

The over-extraction of this aquifer and the intrusion of seawater, coupled with the infiltration of agricultural fertilizers and untreated sewage, have all resulted in levels of chloride and nitrates up to three times the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended standards.

According to the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA), 45 percent of the water processed in desalination plants is also contaminated. The PWA itself is billions of dollars in debt because it’s had to resort to buying water tanks from large businesses, more often than not Israeli businesses, in order to supply water to local residents. Left with choosing between spending exorbitant amounts of money on water tanks from private businesses or consuming contaminated water, most of 1.8 million residents in Gaza choose the latter.

Most of Gaza’s water-related infrastructure was destroyed during Israel’s brutal assault of 2012, which took the lives of more than 1,000 Palestinians.

Though many attempts to rebuild the water infrastructure have been launched both by Gaza’s residents and international aid organizations, most have been halted due to lack of equipment. Restrictions on material goods entering the strip have curtailed any real effort to rebuild cities after the 2008, 2012 and 2014 wars on Gaza.

Most equipment and materials required to rebuild infrastructure are labeled as “dual-use items” and are thus forbidden from entering Gaza. Dual-use items are items with both civilian and military uses. Such restrictions are nothing new in Israel’s war against the Palestinians. In 2009, items such as chocolate, toys and, of all things, coriander were prohibited from entering Gaza because they were deemed “luxury items.”

Water, then, becomes a weapon Israel uses to enforce collective punishment on the Palestinian people.

***

Israel is not alone in using water as a tool to exploit and oppress. Flint, Michigan, and St. Joseph, Louisiana, are two examples of American cities facing water contamination at the hands of the local governments, forcing residents to buy bottled water and water tanks from private companies.

Unlike Israeli officials’ denial of the water crisis, St. Joseph Mayor Edward Brown responded to the water contamination in his city — albeit only after the town received media attention — by simply stating, “”We are aware of the problem, and we are working to solve it.”

It’s not likely that any change will happen soon in these downtrodden Americans towns, though. It’s been well over six months since Flint’s crisis made national news, and still people are having to continue to use store bought water for their basic necessities.

The struggle against Israel’s control of water and its restrictions on permits and equipment to build safe water infrastructure are directly linked to the ongoing project of Israeli usurpation of Palestinian land and its oppression of millions of Palestinians, both within Israel proper and in the West Bank and Gaza.

An end to Israeli occupation and apartheid is part and parcel of demanding an end to these horrific methods of punishment. As the struggle for water continues in Palestine, activists in the US should seek to link the struggle for life’s most fundamental liquid in Palestine and the US.

One of the most direct ways to do so is to forge links between the movement for boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) to secure basic Palestinian rights with those communities in the US fighting for access to the same life-essential resource of water.

The BDS campaign, launched in 2005 in response to a call by the Palestinian civil society, is growing stronger with new campaigns being launched on college campuses across the country. The most recent pushback by state legislatures across the US has proven that the BDS campaign is a real threat to Apartheid Israel.

It is also direct proof of the fact that activism works and that mobilizing students and organizing campaigns has a very real effect on political outcomes. Come September, as new BDS campaigns are launched and old ones continue, it is crucial to help build these campaigns and show support and solidarity with these ongoing efforts.

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PCHR Follows up with Concern Ab-A$$ Excessive Use of Force by Security Services in the West Bank

NOVANEWS

 

The West Bank witnessed a number of security incidents in which force was excessively used and a number of civilians were arrested in Tulkarm and Jenin. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) follows up with concern these developments in the two cities and stresses the significance of fulfilling the legal and international standards in dealing with civilians in all circumstances and under any charges brought against them. PCHR calls upon the Attorney General to follow up the file of the detainees and to comply with the legal procedures. Moreover, PCHR highlights that security services’ duty is to ban the possession of firearms and maintain the security of civilians within the boundaries of the law with a strict commitment to the relevant international standards, especially the 1979 Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials.

At approximately 02:00, today, security services surrounded a house belonging to the family of Ra’ef Fat’hi Rashid Mansour (32) in the southern neighborhood of Kufor Qaleel village, southeast of Nablus, in order to arrest him. A number of the neighborhood residents immediately gathered and threw stones at the police officers who opened fire in response. As a result, a number of civilians were wounded, including a child.

On 04 August 2016, the security officers suppressed a protest in front of the Electricity Company in al-Yamoun village that was organized against the power outages in the village. The Company contacted the police after some young men threw stones at the Company. As a result, a large force of security services arrived and started beating all who were present in the street with clubs. The security services arrested 5 civilians on grounds of the incident.

On 01 August 2016, the security services launched arrest campaign against 10 members of Fateh movement in Tulkarm under the pretext they spitted curses at the Palestinian Prime Minister and Ministry of Local Government on Facebook because of the repeated power outages in the city. Following the arrests, some members of Fateh movement went out to the streets, set fire to tires and opened fire in the air, due to which other civilians were arrested too. A state of tension has prevailed in the city because of the arrests against Fateh members in spite of attempts to contain the situation and the Palestinian President’s personal intervention.

In the same context, on 05 August 2016, security officers pepper-sprayed the face of Ibrahim Khreisha, Secretary-General of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), after which he was transported to Tulkarm Hospital. The incident occurred while security officers were attempting to arrest Mohammed Araj, a Fateh member. Meanwhile, some civilians, including Khreisha  who was around, intervened to stop the arrest. Khreisha explained that he was attacked after he said to the security officers, “If you want to arrest him, we have no problem, but why you are beating him?” Khreisha added that Araj was beaten while being arrested.

PCHR stresses that security services’ duty is to keep the security and safety of civilians and companies and highlights the significance of eliminating the state of possessing and using firearms during protests. Therefore, PCHR underscores the importance of the security services’ commitment to the principles of proportionality and lawfulness when using force. In addition, PCHR condemns the excessive and random use of force, and:

  1. Calls upon the Attorney General to investigate the incidents in Tulkarm and Jenin, to stop the breaches committed by security services and to prosecute those who are responsible for them; and
  2. Calls upon the Prime Minister, who holds the position of Minister of Interior as well, to fulfill his duties to guarantee security services committement to the law and dignity of civilians and to apply the law within the international standards relevant to the use of force.

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Save the Life of Belal Kayed,Administrative Detainee on Hunger Strike

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PCHR Calls upon International Community to Save Life of Belal Kayed, Administrative Detainee on Hunger Strike

الوصف: 122102454

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is concerned over the life of Belal Kayed, an administrative detainee in Nazi camp on a hunger strike for about two months and holds the Nazi regime accountable for his life. Furthermore, PCHR calls upon the international community to pressurize the Nazi Gestapo to release Belal, who has been placed under administrative detention though he finished his imprisonment sentence (14 and a half years) in the Nazi camp.

Belal Kayed (35), from northern Asirah village in Nablus, has been on a hunger strike for 53 consecutive days since 15 June 2016 in protest against the administrative detention under which he has been placed without charges or trial. Besides, although Bilal has served his 14 and a half years of imprisonment, after which the Nazi regime should have released him on 13 June 2016, Nazi Gestaop  issued an administrative detention order against Belal on the same day and directly placed him in solitary confinement. As a result, Belal started a hunger strike.

Bilal is currently receiving medical treatment in Barzilai Hospital, to which he was admitted on 17 July 2016 due to the deterioration of his health condition. According to human rights organizations, Belal’s hands and legs were tied to the bed all the time, but the Nazi soldiers release him only when he wants to go to the bathroom. Moreover, the Nazi forces placed Belal under strict observation by guards, a camera and bugging device. Although his health is seriously deteriorating, Belal is still refusing the medical examinations, vitamins and food supplements. He rather drinks takes water, salt and sugar. Belal suffers from severe pain in his head, stomach, heart, chest and kidneys and does not take any medicine and pain relievers.

On the other hand, over a hundred prisoners declared lately new steps and hunger strikes to support Belal Kayed; 65 of them remained on hunger strike, including Ahmed Sa’dat, Secretary-General of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) serving 30-year imprisonment sentence. These prisoners on hunger strikes are subjected to arbitrary measures by the Prison Service, including solitary confinement, denial of family visits and raids on cells.

About 750 Palestinians, including 3 PLC members, are placed under administrative detention in the Nazi camp. The administrative detention allows that Palestinians are detained for unlimited period without any charges against them. This measure is based on confidential information and upon an order from the Nazi Military Commander according to Military Order (1651). Nazi Gestapo has been applying this measure since the Nazi illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967 as a collective punishment that is prohibited internationally according to the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949. The government used administrative detention in a clear violation of the law to place thousands of prisoners under the longest period possible of detention without charges or evidences against them.

PCHR is concerned over the life of Belal Kayed and other hunger strikers in the Nazi camp, and:

  1. Holds the Nazi regime fully accountable for the life of Kayed and other hunger strikers in the Nazi camp;
  2. Calls upon the international community to immediately intervene to put an end to the administrative detention policy and applying it arbitrarily and illegally against Palestinian prisoners; and
  3. Calls for conjugating local and international efforts to support the Palestinian prisoners and their demands to live freely and in dignity.

 

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Syria War Report: Al Qaeda Breaks Aleppo Siege

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Alep guerre

 On August 6, the Jaish al-Fatah operation room seized the Ramouseh Artillery Base and the Ramouseh Neighborhood from the pro-government forces, de-facto, breaking the Aleppo siege and setting up a siege on the government-controlled areas of western Aleppo. However, the govt. forces are still able to supply the area via the Castello Highway. The first aid convoy arrived western Aleppo last night.

Thus far, the jihadists are in control of a major part of the Ramouseh Neighborhood. However, the Syrian army is still holding the Cement Plan there. The Jaish al-Fatah is also in full control of the Ramouseh Artillery Base after the Syrian army and Hezbollah have withdrawn from the base’s Airforce Technical College. Jaish al-Fatah is also in control of about 80% of the 1070 Apartment Project. On August 8, Jaish al-Fatah announced further operations in Aleppo in order to seize the whole city.

Recently, Liwa al-Quds units that had been deployed in the area between the Castello Highway and Handarat camp have arrived to southwestern Aleppo in order to assist the pro-government forces there. Reports say that the Syrian army’s Tiger Forces led by Col. Suheil al-Hassan are still in northern Aleppo. Maj. Gen. Zaid Saleh who led the Rep. Guard during Layramoun battle has reportedly replaced Maj. Gen. Adib Mohamad as head of Aleppo Security Committee.

Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba (HHN) has announced that it had sent some 2,000 fighters in order to assist the Syrian army in the battle for Aleppo. The HSN is an Iraqi Shia paramilitary that receives training, arms and assistance in military planning from Iran. Pro-militant sources disseminate reports that the Syrian army has deployed up to 100 battle tanks and 400 BMP vehicles for operations in Aleppo city. Jaish al-Fatah’s manpower is estimated as 10,000 including 2,500 fighters of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (former Jabhat Al Nusra).

There are reports that the jihadists have reopened the Alramousa road and set a supply line to eastern Aleppo and some photos of alleged food delivers to the area have appeared. However, the modern tactical situation does not allow them to deliver significant supplies there because the Syrian army is holding a fire control of the road. The siege has been lifted, partially. The Jaish al-Fatah will need to push the pro-government forces from the 3000 Apartment Project and even further in order to deliver supplies to eastern Aleppo.

Local sources report that the joint jihadi forces have concentrated a high number of experienced infantry in southwestern Aleppo. Furthermore, the urban fighting does not allow Syria and Russia to use their advantage in the air power. These facts indicate that the pro-government forces will not be able to take upper hand in the ongoing clashes, easily. The result of the battle will mostly depend on developments on the ground.

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US-Turkey Relations in Jeopardy?

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Putin and Erdogan Meeting in St. Petersburg Scheduled for August 9

 
Putin - Erdogan, RIA Novosti

According to Tass, both leaders will discuss “views on how, at what pace and in what sequence” to restore normalized bilateral relations – ruptured after Turkey downed a Russian warplane in Syrian airspace last November.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said prior to last year’s incident, “(w)ork was underway on an entire range of issues related to trade, economic and investment cooperation…”

Both leaders will “exchange views on regional problems” – notably Syria. At stake for Turkey is restoration of trade. Billions of dollars were lost after Russia imposed sanctions in response to Ankara’s hostile act.

“This will be a historic visit, a new beginning,” Erdogan claimed.

“At the talks with my friend Vladimir, I believe a new page in bilateral relations will be opened. Our countries have a lot to do together.”

“Without Russia’s participation, it’s impossible to find a solution to the Syrian problem. Only in partnership with Russia will we be able to settle the crisis in Syria.”

Throughout the conflict, Turkey partnered with Obama’s war, serving as a safe haven and launching pad for ISIS and other terrorist fighters to cross freely into Syria, providing them with arms and munitions, profiting from selling stolen Syrian and Iraqi oil.

In return for normalizing ties, Putin demands Erdogan to reverse his current policies. He wants his support for terrorist fighters ravaging Syria ended.

He’s capitalizing on strained relations between Ankara and Washington over the disruptive July 15 events, Erdogan’s coup d’etat power grab blamed on cleric Fethullah Gulen living in America, a longtime CIA asset, Turkey suggesting possible US involvement in what happened.

Russia’s intervention in Syria last September at the behest of its government changed things dramatically on the ground. At the same time, Turkey’s support for terrorist fighters indispensably aids Washington’s regional imperial agenda.

Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel from occupied Golan, and Turkey border Syria – Turkish territory bordering its entire northern area, a key launching pad for conflict. Eliminating it would be a major step toward resolution. An opening exists.

Putin seeks to capitalize on it despite knowing the risk of dealing with an international outlaw at war with his own people, systematically eliminating opponents, consolidating hardline rule – his promises meaningless unless proved otherwise.

In the interest of hoped for restoration of regional peace and stability, it’s a gamble well worth taking.

 

 

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Al Qaeda Strikes Back: Aleppo Remains the Focal Point Of The War On Syria

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Aleppo

On Thursday I judged that the U.S. supported al-Qaeda attack in southwest Aleppo was failing. “Despite the failure of their main thrust, al-Qaeda and its allies launched a third phase attack towards Ramouseh district a few hundred meters further north. A tactical mistake as the attackers failed to build a decisive Schwerpunkt. … Local fighting still continues on the front lines but the government positions seem secured and the attacking force is slowly getting ground down.”

That judgement was premature.

The Jihadis retreated after their first three attacks but renewed their efforts with fresh troops on the next day. This time they concentrated on one focal point. Another frontal assault throughout Friday failed, but a fifth major strike followed in the darkness of Friday night.

A total of five vehicle borne suicide bombs broke the defense line of the Syrian government forces and Jihadi forces stormed into the wide area of the Artillery Academy. The compound is a hard to observe mixture of small open fields, garages, office and quarter buildings.

The sparsely manned defense lines were overwhelmed or circumvented. By Saturday night most of the academy was in the hand of the Jihadis. A small corridor to the Jihadi held east-Aleppo was opened but is not secured.

The Syrian government forces are bringing up reserves and additional forces. A counterattack is likely to follow soon. The battle for Aleppo is now the strategic Schwerpunkt, the focal point of the fight for north-Syria if not of the whole war.

According to earlier reports by the Guardian journalist ChulovVice News and Dutch TV, east-Aleppo is essentially empty. The population has long fled to government held areas. Spookstad,  ghost-town, is the title of the Dutch TV documentary from there. “Western” media now laud the Islamists for lifting the siege the Syrian government held over the area. But the new Jihaid corridor in south-west Aleppo is cutting off 1.5 million people in government held west-Aleppo. Now these are under siege with the besieging forces having promised to slaughter many of them. This is somewhat recurrence of the situation in 2013 when west-Aleppo, to little attention of the media, was also cut off from all resupplies by “moderate rebel” forces.

The “western” think-tank and media fanboys of al-Qaeda are celebrating the breaking the siege of east-Aleppo while a much bigger siege is created against a much larger population. Their cheer-leading for al-Qaeda is literarily indistinguishable from al-Qaeda’s own propaganda.

The Russian air force was heavily engaged, but not very visible in the defense of the Artillery Academy. Its main focus are the supply lines of the Jihadists. But efforts in the logistic depth of the theater always take some time to show significant effects on the front lines. What was regrettably missing was direct helicopter support for the defenders. Russia has a number of excellent front line helicopters in Syria. But there was arguably reason not to use them. Last Monday a Russian helicopter was shot down some 40 kilometers south of Aleppo and all crew and passengers were killed. The Russians believe that the helicopter was taken down my a man portable air defense missile (MANPAD) delivered to Jihadis either by or with the knowledge of the U.S. They fear that the attackers of Aleppo have a significant number of these weapons.

The breaking of a corridor towards east-Aleppo was announced as only the first part of a plan to conquer and occupy all of Aleppo. More than 5,000 attackers took part in the first phase. There are rumors – unconfirmed – that an additional 10,000 attackers have been activated and are on the march towards the city.

The whole attack on Aleppo was planned since at least April. U.S. Secretary of State Kerry prevented Russian reactions against the preparations and build up by holding out a possible cessation of hostilities and a political solution of the conflict. At the same time the U.S. and its allies delivered new weapons and equipment to al-Qaeda in Syria and its aligned forces. Videos from the Jihadi front lines show every fighter in well kept uniforms and armored vests with plenty of weapons and ammunition available.

The current attack on Aleppo is only one part of a larger U.S. plan to bring Syria (as well as Russia and Iran) to its knees. We do not yet know all the plan’s phases, parameters and aims. We also do not know the responses the other side has prepared to counter them. All observers (including me) should keep that in mind when judging the day-to-day changes of the situation.

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Euro-American Colonialism: Racist Terrorism

Caribbean_general_map

Although much discourse currently abounds about what constitutes threats to citizen security, there is a shortage of analysis about Euro-American colonialism as racist terrorism – for profit.  It is remarkable too, that there are disclaimers in historical accounts that represent Danish colonialism as “mild” when there was nothing hesitant about the application of over two centuries of racist Danish colonial terrorism in the Virgin Islands.

Moreover, while the USA currently wages wars, ostensibly against terrorism [a nameless, faceless enemy] and claims to be deploying democracy as a foreign policy, this narrative is a cover-up.  In reality, USA occupation and aggression entails extraordinary human rights violations, which are normalised as governance of places like the Virgin Islands.

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Rothschild Francis, Civil Rights Activist, St. Thomas

There is no doubt that the cruel conspiracy of enslavement, enacted among Europeans, Arabs and Africans, unleashed raw, racist terrorism on over 40 million Africans, at home and in the Diaspora.

Denmark, the 7th largest European coloniser, maintained colonies for almost two centuries. The extent of injustice meted out to the majority class before and after the USA purchase of the Virgin Islands and its people – an illegal and immoral transaction with Denmark, propelled Rothschild Francis, icon from St. Thomas, to become  a passionate social justice activist.

Rothschild Francis was a civil rights leader in the Virgin Islands after the 1917 transfer from Danish to United States sovereignty. His foray into politics was born from a need to address the causes of the economic, social and political disparities that created undue hardships for Virgin Islanders (http://stthomassource.com/content/news/local-news/2013/10/11/analysis-rothschild-francis-and-fight-democracy-part-1).

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Street Mural, Frederickstead, St. Croix

Despite the fact that Africans won their emancipation from Danish enslavement in 1848, the Danish and United States of American government authorities illegally entered into a transaction of sale of the Virgin Islands for the lucrative sum of $25 million in gold.

Today Virgin Islanders cynically say that this was the most expensive real estate transaction ever; the islands’ budget is still supported by the Federal government, nearly a century after Transfer. This  ongoing investment demonstrates that the strategic value of the so-called Territory [a term that rattles peoples’ nerves] is even more important than the current settler colonials might care to admit.  The terrorist dimension of this Transfer was that “Custody claims by both the United States and Denmark not only caused fragmentation of the records but denied Virgin Islanders access to their collective memory”

(http://americanarchivist.org/doi/pdf/10.17723/aarc.64.1.h6k872252u2gr377).

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Having garnered immeasurable wealth and prestige from criminal colonial pursuits, it is  scandalous that there has been a rigging of European history, a consensus of forgetting that facilitates the psychotic condition called colonial amnesia. This systematic suppression of colonial memory has disfigured the moral compass of the European Continent.

I have often pondered the contradiction that Europeans pride themselves on being the champions of Christianity yet justified their terrorist practices. Despite all the morality that they set out to bestow on colonised people of colour, it is amazing that no-one was tapping anyone on their enslaving shoulders to remind and restrain each other in the name of said moral responsibility.

What is even more profound was that after the cantankerous enslavement system was routed by rebellious African resistors and their European and mixed race free allies, von Bismark, then German Chancellor, hosted 14 European nations for six months (1884-85) to scramble for Africa.  They all agreed to participate in the dastardly African underdevelopment (Rodney, 1973) with no one recorded as voicing any objection.

Since being employed as an International Fellow at the Flensburg Maritime Museum in Germany to curate an exhibition and write a paper on Danish Colonial Legacy in Flensburg, the Virgin Islands and Ghana from an African Caribbean perspective, I have had to do some serious critical reflection on this psychosis of forgetting, a sort of self-hypnosis, which enables Danes and Germans alike, who have to be considered together because of their entangled histories, to convince themselves to this day, that their Empire days was a project of noble civilisation of backward Africans. The political economy of the carving up of the African Continent is conveniently forgotten.

africa's resources 1000

Even my consciousness that the European refusal to acknowledge the criminality of racist colonial terrorism is a ruse to refuse to recognise reparations responsibility had not prepared me for the bald double unconsciousness regarding colonial memory. This contrived amnesia is a pathology that demands a forensic audit. Such pervasive schizophrenia must mean of course, that there is collusion among all institutions of socialization – home, school, media, popular culture, church, musea, politics -in a word, society, to bury any evidence or remorse. As one participant from a research encounter observed,  “They all put a blanket on the past.”

Describing this rationalisation as repression, Andersen (2013) elaborates that

The initial experiences of colonialism have been screened at different points in time rendering the past in versions very far from the actual historical events themselves. Recently, new claims for reparations for slavery and colonialism in the former Danish West Indies have challenged the existing notions of the colonial past in Denmark. These claims have not resulted in an official Danish politics of regret…as witnessed in other former colonial states. Whereas, a radical break away from the earlier conceptions of the colonial past is demanded, instead new figurations and renarrations have been used to try to incorporate the new challenges to the historical imaginary into the older layers of memory without radically breaking away from it, creating somewhat surprising results that questions (sic) the notions of a uniform global memory and understanding of historical injustices (Andersen, 2013: 1, http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10767-013-9133-z#/page-1).

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Problematic characterisation of the Virgin Islands, decontextualising the production of rum from enslavement

When I presented on these issues at the Flensburg World Cafe, held Thursday (July 28, 2016) at the Flensburger Schifffahrtsmuseum, it was fascinating to marshal the panoramic range of response to the revelations of multilayered colonial realities that I encountered when I visited the Virgin Islands of the United States from June 26-July 7, 2016. I went to find out what people thought about the Flensburg Maritime Museum creating this project as a contribution to the 2017 centennial commemoration of the sale of the Virgin Islands and its people to the United States of America.  It was pointed out sharply that the Danes had no authority to have entered into that transaction, from which it earned $25million (in gold, mind you), and neither did the US – because the enslaved had won their freedom 69 years before that and the free were consigned to colonised status in one fell swoop.  However, they were heartened that the project provided a poignant opportunity for critical reflection on Danish colonial terrorism, which has been practically overwhelmed by the paradoxes of USA occupation.

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The twilight of Danish colonialism is still visible in the enduring ruins of the Whim Estate in St. Croix

This condition of USA settler colonialism is treated with utmost delicacy as critical analysts of this criminality have been psychosocially and socio-economically victimised for speaking out. I imagine this Big Brother response is seen as mandatory since revelations about this dilemma are not congruent with popular propaganda about the USA as the dispenser of development.

People in the VI were also unaware of the branding of Flensburg as Rum City and its enrichment from the resources of sugar and rum, produced from the unremunerated labour of enslaved Africans. Incredibly, those engaged in the rum trade rationalise that they were not as bad as  their peers  doing the human trafficking side of the transatlantic triangle. Like hello? What part of the Marxian theory of the surplus value of labour is not being addressed here? If you traded in rum and sugar, you were complicit in the terrorist system of dehumanisation and torturous production and reproduction that the system entailed. But it seems that for Euro-Americans, the jury is still out on the logic of this argument.

As was also discussed during the World Cafe presentation in Flensburg, the political economy of the annual family-day Rum Regatta celebration has not traditionally been questioned – people just never even wondered where the rum came from!

I called upon the wisdom of Paulo Freire to try to empathise with the wounding that both coloniser and colonised experienced in the Holocaust of Enslavement. Incidentally, I am deliberately reiterating this concept of Holocaust because the word is a catalyst for re-thinking and re-membering that resonates in Denmark-Germany. Besides, Jews did not have a monopoly on the experience of the concept.

Speaking to the liberation of the oppressed, Freire says,

At all stages of their liberation, the oppressed must see themselves as women and men engaged in the ontological and historical vocation of becoming more fully human. Reflection and action become imperative when one does not erroneously attempt to dichotomize the content of humanity from its historical forms (Freire, 1970: 66).  

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The embodiment of African Emancipation: Freedom!

Freire elaborated that

the dialogical character of education as the practice of freedom does not begin when the teacher-student meets with the students teachers in a pedagogical situation, but rather when the former first asks herself or himself what she or he will dialogue with the latter about. And preoccupation with the content of dialogue is really preoccupation with the program content of education (1970: 93).

Freire provides further illumination about the status of colonial amnesia embraced by Europeans who dominated Africans, a condition with which we have to become intimate in order to subvert its morbid persistence.  His answer to his rhetorical question was for me the flashpoint for understanding what the process of repression consists of and the imperative of revolutionary thinking in order to transform the status quo:

Why do the dominant elites not become debilitated when they do not think with the people? Because the latter constitute their antithesis, their very reason for existence. If the elites were to think with the people, the contradiction would be superseded and they could no longer dominate. From the point of view of the dominators in any epoch, correct thinking presupposes the non-thinking of the people (ibid.: 131).

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Liberation demands taking a third-eye view of terrorism, an ancient form of emotional intelligence.

Damn! This is not a walk in the park is it? But as my dad used to say back in the  day, “A habit is a cable: you weave a thread of it every day and it soon becomes so strong that you cannot break it.” So this habit of colonial amnesia is deep. It must therefore be traumatic for the dominant class to experience someone like me prodding the skeletons in the closets of history to enflesh themselves and reveal that as Shakespeare declared in Hamlet, via a speech by Marcellus, “something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” The playwright was, clearly, very intimate with the truth about the lies.

Instead of the protracted denials of culpability however, wouldn’t it make more sense, in the interest of healing the breach and providing the elusive  moral responsibility with some space to flourish, to just admit wrongs and seek mechanisms of social transformation?

References

Andersen, A.N. “We Have Reconquered the Islands”: Figurations in Public Memories of Slavery and Colonialism in Denmark 1948–2012, Published online: 7 February 2013 # Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013, (http://americanarchivist.org/doi/pdf/10.17723/aarc.64.1.h6k872252u2gr377).

Freire, P. Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Continuum, New York and London, 1970, (http://www.msu.ac.zw/elearning/material/1335344125freire_pedagogy_of_the_oppresed.pdf).

Hamlet Quotes – Something is rotten in the state of Denmark with explanation,

Mabillard, Amanda. Shakespeare Quick Quotes: Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2010. http://www.shakespeare-online.com//quickquotes/quickquotehamletdenmark.html

World Cafe: http://www.flensburg.de/Kultur-Bildung/Kultureinrichtungen/Schifffahrtsmuseum/Programm

Rodney, W. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Bogle-L’Ouverture Publications, London and Tanzanian Publishing House, Dar-Es-Salaam, 1973.

Posted in USA, EuropeComments Off on Euro-American Colonialism: Racist Terrorism

“Moderates” Fighting Under “Re-Branded” Nusra Means They’re Al Qaeda Too

NOVANEWS
 
Members of al Qaeda's Nusra Front carry their weapons as they sit in a trench near al-Zahra village, north of Aleppo city

The current ongoing offensive in southwest Aleppo is admittedly being headed by designated terrorist organisation and Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Al Nusra under which a milieu of militant groups are fighting. Just before the offensive was launched, and apparently specifically for the occasion, Nusra would announce that it was severing ties with Al Qaeda (with Al Qaeda’s blessing) so as to unite all the armed factions fighting in Syria under one banner.

Despite the attempted re-branding, both the United States and Russia continue to recognise Nusra as a terrorist organisation. The Washington Post would report in its article, Syria’s Jabhat al-Nusra splits from al-Qaeda and changes its name,”  that:

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. described the split from al-Qaeda as “a PR move.” Al-Nusra “would like to create the image of being more moderate,” Clapper said in an appearance at a security conference in Aspen, Colo. “I think they are concerned at being singled out as a target,” particularly by Russian strikes, he said.

Russia was even less ambiguous about the announcement. Russian news agency TASS would report in their article, Russian Foreign Ministry calls Jabhat al-Nusra’s attempts to change image vain,” that:

Attempts of Jabhat al-Nusra to paint itself differently by changing its name are vain, the group remains an illegal terrorist organization, fight against it will continue until it is fully destroyed, a Russian Foreign Ministry commentary said on Friday.

Then clearly, regardless of whatever name Al Nusra is now attempting to call itself, it is still a terrorist organisation, making it illegal to provide it with any form of material support, let alone fight alongside it on the battlefield. Anyone doing so thus makes themselves a legitimate target of anti-terror operations including full-scale combat. It also makes anyone still aiding and abetting subsidiaries of this newly-unified terrorist front a state-sponsor of terror.

Thus, when Syria’s various armed factions, referred to by the US and its allies who provide them weapons, cash, training and sanctuary as “moderates,” organised themselves under Nusra’s banner, they immediately became Al Qaeda affiliates themselves.

What the ongoing Nusra-led assault on Aleppo then represents is the West’s final capitulation in betraying its own narrative regarding “moderate rebels” they are arming and backing amid the ongoing Syrian conflict.

Aleppo Cannot Be Liberated by Those Who First Invaded It 

Beyond the very nature of the admittedly terroristic elements assaulting Aleppo, the notion that this assault is an attempt to “liberate” the city is equally problematic to those attempting to promote it.

Aleppo, the largest city in Syria before the war broke out in 2011, had been spared the worst of the fighting until in 2012 large groups of militants began crossing the border between Turkey and Syria and quite literally invaded the city. Amid the see-sawing battles over the next four years, sections of the city would change hands between government defenders and militant invaders.

That was until several weeks ago the Syrian military encircled militants who had deeply entrenched themselves within the city and began preparing for operations to finally clear their presence from the city.

The current offensive then, represents a replay of the initial invasion that plunged the city into the current state of war, death, human misery and destruction it now suffers under in the first place.

While the Western media attempts to portray militant-held sections of the city as being “liberated,” the current breakthrough in southwest Aleppo has put much larger segments of the city’s population living within government-held areas of the city at increased risk of running out of essential supplies and suffering from violence incurred amid the ongoing fighting.

What the West is basically reduced to is openly cheering on the forces of Al Qaeda it had been attempting to covertly arm and support throughout the conflict under the misnomer of supporting “moderate rebels” all along. It is also reduced to attempting to portray the re-invasion of Aleppo by a designated terrorist organisation as a “liberation.”

As Syrian and Russian airpower work over the emerging militant corridor being established in southwest Aleppo, and as Syrian forces reorganise themselves along the peripheries of the breakthrough, the prospect of foiling this offensive by delivering a severe blow to the now highly concentrated militant forces partaking in the operation may lead to a general collapse of the militants’ fighting capacity across the rest of Idlib province.

But that is only if Turkey has finally begun to cut supply routes across their border with Syria, which is likely an essential ingredient to any genuine restoration of ties between Ankara and Moscow.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on “Moderates” Fighting Under “Re-Branded” Nusra Means They’re Al Qaeda Too

Al-Nusra’s Rebranding is More than Simply A “Name Change”

NOVANEWS
Al-Nusra’s Rebranding is More than Simply A “Name Change”. Al Qaeda Gave its Blessing to the Move
 
Al-Qaeda leak: Secrets of al-Nusra and ISIL fight

On July 28, Jabhat al-Nusra announced it was severing all ties with its parent organization, al-Qaeda, and changing its name to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (Conquest of Syria Front). Al-Qaeda gave its blessing to the move, reflecting an evolution by both organizations in their international strategies and a deep understanding of local Syrian dynamics.

Jordanian Salafist expert Hassan Abu Haniya, however, questions how much distance the secession will really put between the groups due to their complex ideological, historical and personal links.

Jabhat al-Nusra leader Abu Mohammed al-Golani appeared on camera late last month declaring “the complete cancellation of all operations under the name of Jabhat al-Nusra.” He said the new organization has no affiliation with any external entity.

On July 28, al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, Ahmed Hassan Abu al-Khayr, announced that Jabhat al-Nusra’s leadership had been instructed to “go ahead with what protects the interests of Islam and Muslims and what protects jihad.” Al-Qaeda’s No. 1 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, added, “The brotherhood of Islam … is stronger than any organizational links.”

Yet Abu Haniya noted that Golani’s announcement carried many references to al-Qaeda: Golani was dressed in military fatigues, like the late al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, and used Arabic expressions and references used by the infamous leader.

Besides the framing of the actual announcement, Abu Haniya explained, Jabhat al-Nusra’s decision was backed by major jihadi ideologues such as Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi and Abu Qatada. Maqdisi and Abu Qatada are two influential Jordanian Salafist jihadi clerics with close links to al-Qaeda.

The move also garnered the approval of Saudi Sheikh Abdallah al-Muhaysini, the cleric of Jaish al-Fatah (Army of Conquest). Powerful Syrian rebel factions such as Ahrar al-Sham also applauded Jabhat al-Nusra’s decision, while figures such as Abu Hamza Hamawi, the head of the Salafist Ajnad al-Sham faction, said Jabhat al-Nusra’s decision could facilitate military unity.

In addition, al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, Abu al-Khayr, who blessed the secession, is currently in Syria with the consent of Jabhat al-Nusra. “What does this tell you of the supposed [split] in relations? If there was a real break of the pledge of allegiance between the two organizations, it is supposed to be [according to jihadi practices] condemned by death,” said Abu Haniya. He said the groups’ separation appears to be only tactical.

He added that the decoupling shows al-Qaeda prioritizes its affiliate’s survival. “Al-Qaeda has witnessed several phases since its inception as it went from a local organization [in Afghanistan] to a global organization after the September 2001 coordinated terror attacks on the United States, which was followed by a period of ‘indimaj,’ a period of mixed policies with a focus on both the far and close enemies. Now we are witnessing a return to the primacy of local dynamics,” Abu Haniya stressed.

The expert added that the transformation also indicates al-Qaeda’s move since the Arab Spring to an emphasis on Syria-centered politics.

That move to prioritizing local politics has translated into Jabhat al-Nusra adopting a pragmatic approach to external and internal pressures. On July 13, Russia and the United States discussed forming a Joint Implementation Group to share intelligence, to possibly direct operational cooperation against Jabhat al-Nusra and to keep Russia from targeting jointly designated, and presumably opposition-controlled, areas.

The new US-Russian partnership might have accelerated Jabhat al-Nusra’s departure from al-Qaeda. In his statement, Golani said the Syrian opposition to the regime has to “remove the pretext used by powers, including the US and Russia, to bomb Syrians.”

Internal pressures also might have influenced Jabhat al-Nusra’s leadership decision. In the past year, the group held various discussions toward that goal, with Jabhat al-Nusra member Abu Maria al-Qahtani of Iraq arguing for the “Syrianization” of Jabhat al-Nusra, according to Syrian Islamic sources. “Syrian members of Jabhat al-Nusra who represent the large majority were also in favor of severance of ties with al-Qaeda,” Sheikh Hassan Dgheim, a Syrian cleric who studies Islamic organizations, told Al-Monitor.

Aleppo-based journalist Ahmad Abi Zeid told Al-Monitor many Syrians within Jabhat al-Nusra do not necessarily espouse al-Qaeda’s ideology, but have joined the organization because of the power it projects.

However, Abu Haniya believes the break with al-Qaeda was the result of a simple opportunity-and-threat analysis. “Jabhat al-Nusra felt it was losing popularity, and it affected their relations with other groups. Since the break, the rebel coalition was given new impetus with the Aleppo offensive.” On July 31, rebel groups launched the “Great Battle” (malahem) on Aleppo, which is still underway.

Dynamics marking the fresh Aleppo offensive by a large rebel alliance, including Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, confirm Jabhat al-Nusra’s successful calculation to decouple from al-Qaeda. The separation allowed the new group to consolidate its presence on Syrian soil and form alliances with other rebel groups that previously were hesitant to join forces with them due to the al-Qaeda affiliation.

“The rebranding and fresh victories will add credibility to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. This will certainly have repercussions on factions that were previously afraid of being targeted by cooperating with [al-Qaeda]. Salafist and Islamic factions will definitely perceive this move positively,” Abi Zeid said.

Nonetheless, severing ties with the global jihad movement may also place the organization at a disadvantage. Dgheim underlines that in the past three months, several members of the group defected to join the Islamic State. This phenomenon may indicate a wider dissatisfaction among Jabhat al-Nusra’s hard-liners, specifically its foreign fighters. Abu Haniya, however, disagreed.

“The decision to break ties with al-Qaeda had the approval of foreign leaders within the organization. During the secession announcement, Golani surrounded himself with a Syrian national, Abu Abdullah al-Shami, and a foreign fighter, Ahmad Salama Mabruk, also known as Abu Faraj the Egyptian, which is highly symbolic and shows the prevalence of its foreign affiliation,” Abu Haniya explained, adding that the number of defections to this date has been limited.

Regardless of the repercussion of its name change on the Syrian scene, Jabhat al-Nusra’s decision to rebrand is a clear indicator of al-Qaeda’s repositioning in the Levant. Jabhat Fatah al-Sham’s new coalitions and its view of the Syrian political system and the peace process will reveal the extent of the organization’s pragmatism and whether it is really willing to evolve.

Posted in Middle East, USA, SyriaComments Off on Al-Nusra’s Rebranding is More than Simply A “Name Change”

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