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How the Nazi regime won over the Zionist Arabs?

A man takes a selfie in front of the Tel Aviv Municipality on Rabin Square, which was lit up with the flag of United Arab Emirates after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE, on August 13, 2020. (Oren Ziv)

A man takes a selfie in front of the Tel Aviv Municipality on Rabin Square, which was lit up with the flag of United Arab Emirates after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE, on August 13, 2020. (Oren Ziv)

Bibi’s digital warriors take on Arabia: How Israel won over the Gulf states

Israel has been using a web of social media accounts to produce a more favorable image among Arabs in the Gulf. With the UAE agreement, it seems these efforts are bearing fruit.

By Katie Wachsberger 

On August 13, Israel and the United Arab Emirates signed a historic deal to normalize relations between the two countries. Under the agreement, which was brokered by U.S. President Donald Trump, Israel will suspend its annexation of parts of the West Bank. On Twitter, Trump called the agreement a “HUGE breakthrough,” and a “historic peace agreement between our two GREAT friends.”

The peace deal is the culmination of years of warming ties between Israel and the Gulf (or Khaleej in Arabic) countries, buttressed by a demonstrable shift in Arab public opinion. While the deal immediately came under attack for disregarding Palestinians’ aspirations for self-determination, it was also welcomed enthusiastically by many social media influencers from around the GCC.

Over the past decade, as the rise of Iran’s regional influence has been countered by the growing power of the Gulf states, Israel has been using a web of Arabic-speaking social media accounts to spread pro-Israel propaganda in order to win over the hearts and minds of Khaleejis and neutralize the perceived threat of the Islamic Republic. Now, with a peace deal on the horizon, it seems those efforts have borne fruit.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has historically played a significant role in Israel’s relations with the Khaleej. Initiated in the 1990s following the Oslo Accords, annulled in the early 2000s during the Second Intifada (partly as a result of mass popular protests in some Khaleeji countries), recalled in the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, and covertly re-established throughout the 2000s and 2010s, Netanyahu’s government has recently been successful in warming ties with the nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council — specifically the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and to a lesser extent, Oman and Qatar.

Already in the late 2000s, the Israeli government began utilizing social media to spread hasbara, its national propaganda efforts. Since 2008, for example, Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has been promoting short “informational” videos on YouTube. Two years later, it established virtual Egyptian and Jordanian embassies on Twitter, “dedicated to strengthening diplomatic relations, economic growth and friendship” between Israel and the two nations. These accounts focus exclusively on social, cultural, technological, and economic content, steering clear of sensitive political issues such as Palestinian rights, which are known to foster discontent among the Jordanian and Egyptian populations.

Similar tactics and social media tools have since been adopted by internal security entities, attempting to influence the Palestinian population’s negative perception of military occupation to one of partnership and closeness.

In the years following his return to the premiership in 2009, Netanyahu hired a group of young, ex-soldiers from the IDF’s communications unit, “Dover Tzahal” — including his eldest son, Yair — to lead the administration’s efforts in creating a strong social media presence. Equipped with an elite unit of tech-savvy digital warriors, the Israeli government was ready to take on the Arab blogosphere and begin producing a more favorable image of Israel.

Following the Arab Spring, the Israeli government established several more Arabic-language accounts — such as “Israel in Arabic” on Twitter and “Israel Speaks Arabic” on Facebook, which has nearly two million followers from the region — reaching beyond Israel’s formal allies. Officials such as IDF Spokesperson Avichay Adraee, the prime minister’s Arabic media spokesperson Ofir Gendleman, and even Netanyahu himself, began posting in Arabic between 2011 and 2012.

These accounts work together, retweeting one another’s posts, sharing information and followers, and engaging extensively with people throughout the region. They post discussions and polls, videos that directly address the people of the region, and references to Arab culture and Islam. They portray Israel as a progressive, tolerant, resourceful, and peaceful nation. Over the past several years they have come to focus more on technological advancement in realms that interest the Arab world, such as in agritech and medicine. There is also a significant focus on women’s rights and gender representation in the Israeli government and military, creating an image that marginalizes the violence of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

The seemingly benign facade of Israel’s cultural, technological, and social achievements can be intriguing for some Arabic-speaking social media users, many of whom have had little to no insight into the nature of Israeli society.

President Donald Trump, joined by White House senior staff members, delivers a statement announcing the agreement of full normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

President Donald Trump, joined by White House senior staff members, delivers a statement announcing the agreement of full normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Joyce N. Boghosian/White House)

“Sometimes it’s just about curiosity,” explained Kareem Abdulaziz, a Lebanese consultant born and raised in the UAE who has been following Netanyahu’s Arabic account on Twitter for several years. “My whole life I’ve heard these shadowy explanations of what Israel has done to the Arabs, how Israel is the devil, why we should never talk to Israelis. The whole topic is so taboo that suddenly the opportunity to peak into the black box is impossible to resist.”

Another popular tool is the portrayal of Arabic culture in different Israeli contexts, seeking to foster familiarity and the appearance of sympathy and interest among Israelis toward Arabic music, language, and art. This also includes the manipulation of the Mizrahi narrative, erasing the establishment’s history of oppressing Jews who arrived to Israel from Middle Eastern and Muslim countries due to their Arabic identity and culture, while focusing exclusively on the fraternity and shared experiences of Mizrahi Jews and Arabs in the region. 

“They think that I will be more sympathetic to Israel if I see that many Israelis are actually from an Arab background or from Islamic countries,” explained Mansour Benani, a student at Penn State originally from Rabat who follows several official Israeli Arabic accounts on Twitter. “But the truth is this can actually fuel antisemitic tendencies toward Jewish communities that have remained [in Arab and Muslim countries]. We have several such communities in Morocco who often try to disassociate themselves from Zionism.”

By demonstrating the Zionist sentiments of Jews who remained in these countries — which Benani claims is commonly believed among Moroccan residents to be the reason for their discrimination in Muslim countries following the 1967 war — these accounts further alienate Arab audiences. “They are saying, there is no difference between Judaism and Israel, and that even Jews from the Middle East have typically supported Israel. It justifies disdain for the Jews, which often originates from the rejection of Israel’s violent treatment of Palestinians.”

As Israel tightens its control over Palestinians in the occupied territories, and as Arab leaders’ strategic interests increasingly marginalize the occupation’s significance, some of these social media accounts have increasingly adopted overtly political messaging. This increasingly aggressive discourse attacks the Palestinians’ handling of the conflict, claims they have repeatedly rejected any peace initiative offered by Israel, portrays resistance as illegitimate terrorism, and exaggerates Palestinian ties with Iran and Qatar. This more recent addition to the accounts’ repertoire — specifically as it pertains to the portrayal of Iran as a malicious regional influencer — signifies shifting attention toward the Gulf.

As such, the government established the “Israel in the Khaleej” account in 2013. The Khaleeji social and cultural environment has been immensely impacted by social media’s facilitation of exposure to global communities, discourse, and trends, all of which led to the account’s rapid growth. Israel in the Khaleej is deemed by Israeli officials one of the MFA’s most successful social media outreach campaigns, and was branded a “virtual embassy” in 2018. “We can see more and more of our followers who credit our content with having changed their perceptions and attitudes towards Israel,” claims the account’s founder, Yonatan Gonen.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presents files on Iran's nuclear program in a press conference at the Kirya government headquarters in Tel Aviv, on April 30, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presents files on Iran’s nuclear program in a press conference at the Kirya government headquarters in Tel Aviv, on April 30, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

In recent years, there has been a notable increase in engagement on all of Israel’s official Arabic accounts’ with the Gulf. The Israeli government’s Twitter and YouTube channels have published videos of Gulf citizens speaking favorably about Israel, news of visits by GCC nationals, official Khaleeji statements regarding normalization of relations (which are often neglected in mainstream Gulf media), and messages from Israeli citizens to different Gulf states.

The political posts also often touch on shared strategic concerns or interests, specifically as they pertain to Khaleeji foreign policy, such as combating Iran’s nuclear advancements and curbing the spread of Islamic extremism (often equated with Palestinian resistance movements). They also highlight Netanyahu’s access to and cooperation with U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, which is attractive to many Gulfies who favor Trump’s aggressive policies regarding Iran.

While the perceived Iranian threat was the catalyst and leading cause of Israel’s diplomatic ambitions in the Gulf, it is not the only uniting factor. In 2011, the Arab Spring brought Israel and the Gulf countries closer, as uprisings demonstrated the power of popular sentiments and their ability to topple authoritarian regimes. 

The protests were equally threatening to Israel’s government — primarily interested in maintaining the status quo in which regional threats are neutralized — and to the Gulf regimes, which found the prospects of mass political movements to be both directly and indirectly threatening. The shared perceived threat of Islamist movements developing out of popular resistance is utilized by these official accounts to portray Palestinian national aspirations as dangerous, corrupt, and radical.

As such, posts often attack radical Islamic ideology, drawing a distinction between so-called “good Arabs” and “bad Arabs,” the former referring to compliant and productive citizens, while the latter to supporters of Islamist movements or “terror” organizations (including Palestinian militant groups). 

In one Tweet, for example, Israel’s army spokesperson Adraee asks followers how they would want to be remembered: as “respected and successful” like Egyptian football star Mohammed Salah and Syrian sports journalist Mustafa Agha, or “as the cowardly terrorist Ahmad Jarrar,” who was accused of killing an Israeli settler and was shot dead by the Israeli army. These statements echo a common discourse heard in the UAE and Saudi Arabic, which expresses caution regarding radical Islamist trends.

Additionally, these accounts criticize Palestinian resistance, demonize efforts to fight against the occupation, and play into authoritarian regimes’ fear of popular movements that challenge the political status quo or support radical ideological currents. Using hashtags such as “Hamas is your Nakba” and “Not Awda (return) but Fawda (chaos),” official Israeli accounts portray uprisings and protests as violent and goaded by Hamas or supported by Iran.

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, in the East Room of the White House to unveil details of the Trump administration’s Middle East plan. (Shealah Craighead/White House)

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, in the East Room of the White House to unveil details of the Trump administration’s Middle East plan. (Shealah Craighead/White House)

In the late 2010s, prominent international Jewish organizations aligned with Netanyahu’s pro-occupation policies also jumped on the bandwagon. The American Jewish Committee’s Arabic Twitter account, created less than a year ago, now enjoys nearly 60,000 followers. Generally less political in their messaging than the Israeli accounts, the popularity of these organizations in many Arab countries demonstrates a growing interest in Judaism. It also highlights their role as a bridge for Arab nations interested in developing ties with Israel. The AJC, for example, has been a significant facilitator of relations between the UAE and Israel, using its alleged political neutrality as to connect UAE officials with Zionist communities that support the current Israeli administration in the West and in Israel.

Alongside official accounts, individual supporters of Israel’s pro-occupation policies who post in Arabic have also amassed significant following on Twitter. Edy Cohen, an academic specializing in the Arab world and former advisor to the Prime Minister’s Office, has a significant media presence with over 260,000 followers on Twitter. Cohen has become an extremely popular source of information about Israeli politics, and his persona has become a topic of criticism and debate among Arabic social media users region-wide. 

Guy Maayan, a Likud member and journalist with the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation who regulalry posts in Arabic on his Twitter account, is especially vocal on Palestinian issues. He features Palestinians who reject the prospects of living under Palestinian sovereignty, while defending the Israeli government’s policies in the occupied territories. Mordechai Kedar, a right-wing academic and commentator, uses his account almost exclusively for engaging with the Palestinian issue, often claiming that popular support for Palestinian rights is an emotional trend that lacks logic and reason. 

These independent accounts cooperate with official Israeli social media posts by retweeting and spreading explicitly political content. Many of them reach out to Khaleeji audiences, emphasizing issues that unite Israeli and Gulf political interests. There has also been an increase in posts about alleged animosity that Palestinians harbor toward the Khaleej, claiming that Palestinians have been irresponsible and ungrateful, manipulating the region (and especially the Gulf) through their claims of being victims of occupation. Such statements are often reposted enthusiastically by the Israeli accounts mentioned above. 

Accordingly, there has been a steady increase of pro-Israel accounts in the GCC, particularly in Saudi Arabia, which simultaneously praise Israeli achievements and policies while condemning Palestinian efforts to resist the occupation. The arguments used by pro-Zionist Arabic social media accounts to justify their dwindling support for Palestine include Israel’s success in technological advancements and combatting terror, the corrupt and impotent nature of Palestinian resistance, and the Palestinians’ failure to accept previous peace agreements. 

These classic hasbara arguments demonstrate the effectiveness of Israel’s outreach campaigns in the region and their success in adapting these tactics to the Arabic-speaking target audience. Such accounts, especially in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, use hashtags such as “Palestine is not my problem” or “yes to normalization,” and have run various campaigns over recent months that rally anti-Palestinian sentiments among Gulf citizens. This is done by showing Palestinians living in luxury or highlighting ordinary aspects of Palestinian life in an attempt to discredit claims of oppression and injustice. 

Nadim Nashif, the executive director of 7amleh, The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, explained that the rise of Israel’s Arabic social media presence seeks to show the high quality of life in Israel and the opportunities that await the Arab world once relations are completely normalized. “This phenomenon goes to show that relations with the Arab world are becoming stronger and that interest in the Palestinian cause is decreasing,” explained Nashif.

Saudi prince Al-Walid bin Talal seen upon his arrival at the Muqata'a Compound during an official visit to the West Bank city of Ramallah on March 4, 2014. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Saudi prince Al-Walid bin Talal seen upon his arrival at the Muqata’a Compound during an official visit to the West Bank city of Ramallah on March 4, 2014. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Indeed, this anti-Palestinian rhetoric is gradually taking hold in popular discourse outside of social media, with more Khaleejis posting uninhibitedly about their support for Israel as well as their wariness of the conflict with the Palestinians. Known popularly as “Arab Zionists,” they are gaining more legitimacy to speak freely about their pro-Israel views.

These voices are not exempt from internal criticism, and in some countries support for engaging with Israel still leads to ostracization (as is the case in Kuwait, for example). But in countries where official engagement with Israel is becoming increasingly visible, such as in the UAE, popular discourse is following suit. 

“This is not only because of the fact that people here maintain a herd mentality, supporting what the government supports,” explained a social entrepreneur from Dubai who asked to remain anonymous given the critical nature of his statements regarding Emirati social norms, which could hurt his reputation among colleagues and peers. “It’s also because this has become an accepted way of speaking among Emiratis. Supporting Israel is no longer considered strange, it has become something you hear from time to time.” Indeed, as the interviewee suggested, the increased popularity of pro-Israel discourse can be traced to tendencies among citizens to adopt their government’s stances, as well as the official decision to remove education about the Palestinian issue from school curricula. Social media allows these sentiments to spread and become normalized.

Additionally, the Qatar embargo (enforced by the Saudi, UAE, Bahrain, Egyptian bloc in 2017 as a rejection of Qatari support for Islamic movements) has influenced the decline of pro-Palestine awareness and discourse, as Al-Jazeera (currently blocked in the UAE and Saudi Arabic) used to present the harsh reality of the Israeli occupation in a way that is no longer widely available to Khaleejis. 

As such, few prominent Emirati intellectuals who vocally reject normalization with Israel are often subjected to criticism by other UAE nationals, facing resistance when advocating for a solution to the Palestinian issue before the establishment of diplomatic ties.

Expressing resistance to normalization is becoming increasingly dangerous in countries like the UAE, where the government may detain or even torture citizens who criticize authorities. Since the agreement was announced on Thursday, UAE authorities have made it clear that rejecting the government’s new policy on Israel will bring trouble to objectors. The Gulf nations have restrictions on residents’ ability to critique political entities and decisions, which has allowed pro-Israel discourse among Khaleejis to grow with little scrutiny.

As a result, Palestinian social media users are posting more frequently about Khaleeji relations with Israel, condemning their neighbors for abandoning the cause. “This normalization between Netanyahu and the Gulf has been attempted for years, and one of the methods used is incitement against Palestinians and fueling of tensions between Palestinians and Gulfies,” explained Sulaiman Khatib, a Palestinian social activist and co-founder of Combatants for Peace, an anti-occupation organization founded by ex- Israeli soldiers and former Palestinian armed fighters. “They definitely use Gulf voices to play up this conflict. However, I do trust the people of the Gulf that they will stand, as they have historically, with Palestine at the end of the day.”

Thousands of Israeli and Palestinian protesters take part in a demonstration in Rabin Square against the government's annexation plan, Tel Aviv, June 6, 2020. (Oren Ziv)

Thousands of Israeli and Palestinian protesters take part in a demonstration in Rabin Square against the government’s annexation plan, Tel Aviv, June 6, 2020. (Oren Ziv)

As the pro-occupation camp achieves success in fostering popular support for normalization with Israel, Israeli voices that reject the status quo and struggle to end the occupation have been slow to catch up in the struggle for influence over the Arab blogosphere, and have yet to establish a presence in Khaleeji discourse on both official and popular levels. Peace organizations and people-to-people initiatives in Israel have translated few of their materials to Arabic, let alone created an active presence in Arabic conventional media or social media.

“Khaleeji nationals have no idea that there are Israelis and Palestinians working together,” asserted Aisha al-Ghamdi, a Riyadh-based advocate for Saudi women’s rights. “People are convinced that showing interest in Israel inherently requires them to abandon the Palestinian cause, or to look down on Palestinians. This is the case on the web, it is very black and white.”

“The Israeli left has focused its outreach in the U.S. and Europe for several reasons,” explains Achiya Schatz, former director of communications at Breaking the Silence, an Israeli organization of veteran IDF soldiers working to expose the everyday reality of the occupation. “The Palestinians are doing advocacy work in the Arab world, they know the playing field much better than us, and can make their own strategic decisions about what is needed to influence public opinion there. Secondly, the lack of diplomatic ties has made such a task challenging and seemingly irrelevant. Thirdly, the authoritarian nature of the Gulf regimes create obvious challenges for us, a camp that focuses on the importance of human rights.”

It is true that public sentiment and policies in Europe and the U.S. have historically had the most significant influence on the conflict in terms of foreign intervention. However, the incentive of commercial and political cooperation with the GCC is becoming increasingly desirable for Israeli leadership. Netanyahu’s administration has been adamantly striving toward partnership with Khaleeji nations, and has now proven that the realization of these ties is not conditional on a peace agreement with the Palestinians. These nations’ diplomatic decisions have an increasingly significant effect on the conflict’s development, and will continue to play a role determining the nature of any future agreement with the Palestinians, as the normalization of ties becomes a reality.

Meanwhile, the anti-occupation camp is beginning to understand that in order to convince Khaleejis that ties with Israel should not come at the expense of Palestinian rights, it will have to start speaking directly to them. In June, three former Israeli diplomats published an article in The National, expressing their appreciation for Emirati Ambassador to the U.S., Youssef Al Otaiba, after he penned an article in Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth, warning that annexation will “be a serious setback for relations with the Arab world.”

Similarly, a new Twitter account, “A New Voice from Israel,” recently published a short video featuring former members of Knesset speaking in Arabic and rejecting annexation and occupation. This video received widespread attention from young Khaleeji social media users, many of whom expressed surprise at the fact that some Israelis are more interested in realizing the establishment of a Palestinian state than Arab leaders. “It is unfortunate to find Arab voices denouncing normalization under the pretext of cooperation, while we see Israeli voices inside Israel who refuse to annex the West Bank and stand against Zionist racism and promote the establishment of an independent Palestinian state,” tweeted Talal Alkhanfar from Kuwait.

These initiatives are not only young, they are at a disadvantage because they lack the support of official institutions in Israel and the GCC. Yet they engage the silent majority of young Khaleejis who are interested in the potential benefits of relations with Israel and Israelis while remaining adamantly opposed to the violation of Palestinians’ basic human rights. If fostered and expanded, such efforts have the potential to engage many voices in the Gulf looking to move forward and create a truly interconnected region that offers opportunities to all of its residents.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Middle East, ZIO-NAZI, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE0 Comments

Qatar boosts support for Turkey’s regional forays

Doha and Ankara are keen on providing political and military cover for Libya’s GNA.

Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Affairs Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah (C) welcomes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) upon his arrival in Doha, July 2. (AFP)

Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Affairs Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah (C) welcomes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) upon his arrival in Doha, July 2. (AFP)

LONDON – Qatar remains intent on strengthening its security, intelligence and economic relations with Turkey, placing Libya, particularly, in the crosshairs as Ankara presses ahead with an intervention in the support of the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

Qatar’s moves come as an ongoing defiance to its Arab neighbours and at the risk of antagonising the Arab quartet composed of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

The close relations between Ankara and Doha have been strengthened, particularly since a diplomatic crisis with Qatar erupted on June 5, 2017, when the Arab quartet accused the Gulf country of supporting Islamist groups, also backed by Turkey, and having close relations with Iran, with the aim of destabilising the region and threatening the security of neighbouring countries.

On Friday, Qatari Foreign Minister Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani hailed his country’s “strategic relations” with Turkey.

Ties “between Qatar and Turkey are growing day by day, particularly in the fields of economic, investment, commercial, energy and defense cooperation to serve the common interests of our nations,” he wrote on Twitter.

Speaking to Al Jazeera television, Qatar’s Assistant Foreign Minister Lolwah al-Khater, also said that there is a “broad consensus” between Doha and Ankara.

“Both countries support the Libyan Government of National Accord and support the political solution in Libya based on Skhirat Agreement,” Khater said.

One day after his visit to Doha, Erdogan said that his discussions with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani focused on the Libyan file, in the first place, and the Iraqi and Syrian files, in the second place.

He also stressed that Turkey continues to cooperate with the “legitimate Libyan government with resolve and determination”, adding that Defense Minister Khulsi Akar was holding talks with the Turkey-backed GNA in Tripoli to enhance the “existing cooperation with closer coordination.”

Doha and Ankara are keen on providing political and military cover for Libya’s GNA, which is dominated politically and militarily by the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Turkish and Qatari statements confirm earlier reports about Doha’s unconditional support for Turkey’s Islamist agenda for the region and Erdogan’s expansionist plans, even if that means the undermining of security and stability in the Arab region.

Turkish and Qatari statements also confirm Doha’s intention to keep on financing Turkish interventions in Libya, Syria and other countries in the region.

A report by The Arab Weekly on Friday indicated that Erdogan’s short visit to Doha on Thursday was in fact a tax collection mission aimed at making the Qatari emir dig deep into his pockets and come up with the necessary funds for the Eastern Mediterranean project.

Gulf sources also told The Arab Weekly that the Turkish president is pressuring Qatar to finance his military campaigns in Syria and Libya as well as the military show of force he is conducting in the Mediterranean Sea.

Posted in Middle East, Qatar, TurkeyComments Off on Qatar boosts support for Turkey’s regional forays

Qatar, Turkey walk in step on Libya conflict, try to shore up GNA legitimacy

Doha and Ankara ministers fail to mention that a growing number of countries, including Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria, see the Skhirat Agreement as an expired or very insufficient source of political legitimacy for the GNA.

A file picture of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, second left, walkin with the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha, in 2017. (AP)

A file picture of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, second left, walkin with the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha, in 2017. (AP)

London – Recent statement by Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdurrahman al-Thani indicate a consensus has been reached with Ankara on the trajectory the Libyan conflict should take.

 The statements came as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that foreign interference in the North African country’s war has reached “unprecedented levels.”  

 Both Ankara and Doha have made statement to shore up the increasingly-challenged legitimacy of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

The Turkish Anadolu news agency reported on Thursday that Doha weighed in on the Libyan conflict and urged the international community to support the Turkish-backed GNA.

“It has become clear that the only solution to the Libyan crisis is to support the legitimate government,” the Qatari foreign minister said.

Al-Thani added that it is necessary to implement resolutions on the conflict by the United Nations Security Council, the Berlin peace  conference that took place earlier this year and the 2015 Skhirat Agreement, which recognised the GNA as Libya’s government. 

“Some countries initially supported this agreement but then violated it by supporting opposition groups against the government,” Al-Thani said. 

Doha and Ankara ministers fail to mention that a growing number of countries, including Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria, see the Skhirat Agreement as an expired or very insufficient source of political legitimacy for the GNA.

 The UN secretary-general urged Wednesday for key players and their backers to unblock the political stalemate and agree to a ceasefire and peace talks, calling the current situation “gloomy.”

Guterres said that the United Nations political mission in Libya is undertaking de-escalation efforts, “including the creation of a possible demilitarised zone,” to try to reach a negotiated solution and spare lives.

He said between April 1 and June 30 there were at least 102 civilian deaths and 254 civilians wounded in Libya, “a 172% increase compared to the first quarter of 2020.”

Guterres also addressed a high-level meeting of the UN Security Council six months after leaders of 11 world powers and other countries with interests in Libya’s long-running civil war agreed at a conference in Berlin to respect a much-violated UN arms embargo, hold off on military support to the warring parties and push them to reach a full ceasefire.

Guterres decried the failure of the parties to adhere to the Berlin agreement and demand its speedy implementation.

Qatar and Turkey support the GNA in its war against the Libyan National Army (LNA) of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, which is said to be backed by Russia, Egypt and France, among others.

Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan travelled to Qatar for a day of meetings and met with Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the Presidential Communications Directorate said in a statement.

Ankara and Doha have enjoyed close relations, particularly since a diplomatic crisis with Qatar erupted on June 5, 2017, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt accused the Gulf country of supporting Islamist groups, also backed by Turkey, and having close relations with Iran, with the aim of destabilising the region and threatening the security of neighbouring countries.

Qatar’s suspected support for Islamist factions in Libya was pointed out in a sanctions list issued by the Arab Quartet. On the list of the 71 Qatari-linked organisations and individuals were leading players in Libya, including the al-Qaeda-aligned Benghazi Defence Brigades.

Since the 2011 NATO-backed Libyan uprising, Doha has funnelled arms and other support to Libyan militias through radical Ali Muhammed al-Salabi and his brother Ismail, a leader of the Benghazi Defence Brigades.

 The Benghazi Defence Brigades has ties with Ansar al-Sharia, the group behind the 2012 attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of US Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens. Ansar al-Sharia is also suspected of terrorist activities in Tunisia.

Libya has been in turmoil since 2011, when a NATO-led military campaign and a popular uprising toppled longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi, who was later killed. The country has since split between rival administrations in the east and the west, each backed by armed groups and foreign governments.

The LNA launched an offensive trying to take Tripoli in April 2019, and the crisis in the oil-rich country has steadily worsened as foreign backers increasingly intervened despite pledges at the Berlin conference.

The LNA’s offensive is supported by France, Russia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and other key Arab countries. The government in Tripoli is backed by Turkey — which sent troops and mercenaries to protect the capital in January — as well as Italy and Qatar.

Tripoli-based forces with Turkish support gained the upper hand in the war in early June after retaking the capital’s airport, all main entrance and exit points to the city and a string of key towns near Tripoli. They threatened to retake the strategic city of Sirte, which could allow them to gain control of oil fields and facilities in the south that Haftar seized earlier this year as part of his offensive on Tripoli.

Egypt warned that it would intervene militarily if Turkish-backed forces attacked Sirte and the inland Jufra air base.

On Wednesday, Guterres told the Security Council that forces supporting the government are now 25 kilometres (15 miles) west of Sirte, after two previous attempts to gain control of the city.

“The situation on the front lines has been mostly quiet since June 10,” he said.

“However, we are very concerned about the alarming military buildup around the city, and the high level of direct foreign interference in the conflict in violation of the U.N. arms embargo, UN Security Council resolutions, and the commitments made by member states in Berlin.”

Posted in Middle East, Qatar, TurkeyComments Off on Qatar, Turkey walk in step on Libya conflict, try to shore up GNA legitimacy

‘Caesar’ evidence for atrocities in Syria: what does justice require?

Cartoon Movement

Photo by shosh.org.uk

By: Tim Hayward

The photos brought to public attention in January 2014 by the anonymous witness codenamed ‘Caesar’ show corpses, thousands in number, deceased from violent causes, some bearing signs of torture and many having suffered starvation and neglect.[1] The dead are said to be victims of Syrian state detention facilities, but it is now known that many were not, and it is still not known for sure how many of them were.[2] If the atrocity of the crimes to which the photos attest is in no doubt, the question of who perpetrated them is less clear-cut. Yet Western reports have unequivocally blamed the ‘Assad regime’. A counter-hypothesis, hardly considered in public discussions, is that many of the bodies were of civilians captured by Jaish al-Islam (JAI) after taking control of Douma in December 2012. JAI are known to have starved their captives while using them as slave labourers, which they did on a scale monumental enough to create the extraordinary network of deep and impressively engineered tunnels that we now see had been built across the area under their control.[3] Nevertheless, a Qatari-sponsored prosecution team vouched for the Caesar evidence as being ‘capable of being believed’ – in a court of law – to show ‘systematic torture and killing of detained persons by the agents of the Syrian government.’[4] The Western media’s subsequent dissemination of the prosecutors’ interpretation of the images – unchallenged – caused it to be widely believed in the ‘court of public opinion’. Despite significant unsettled and unsettling questions, then, a particular account of what the images show has exercised considerable influence over people’s default assumptions about accountability for atrocities in Syria.

1-188

It is the influence of this specific interpretation of evidence that will be reflected on here, and without prejudice as to what may be established about occurrences in Syrian detention on other bases.[5] Questions about the Caesar evidence point up concerns about the extent to which the dissemination of inaccurate information might have distorted the written historical record of our times and how it may have practically influenced real decisions and events. It matters to get at the truth about the photos for those reasons, as well as for the sake of families whose loved ones have disappeared, but there is also a further reason. This concerns a use made of Caesar’s testimony that may affect the future course of history too. It is the promotion by Western prosecutors of judicial innovation in the pursuit of accountability for atrocity crimes. The purpose of this article is to set out how and why that is a concern, and fundamentally one about justice.

To situate the discussion it will be worth briefly outlining the contrasting kinds of reception the Caesar testimony has received – affirmative versus sceptical – and then also pointing to a much less noticed reception, one of significant silence. For there is an identifiable group of usually vocal critics of the Syrian president and government that has refrained from mentioning the name Caesar. This in itself could be somewhat revealing about what intelligence that group accepts as authoritative. But it also throws into relief the distinctive commitments of another group who, by contrast, have made considerable use of the Caesar name. It is they who have, for instance, provided the impetus behind successful lobbying for the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act in the United States. Less spectacular, but of potentially more enduring international significance, is dissemination of Caesar’s narrative in a wider campaign aimed at creating increasingly flexible mechanisms for international criminal prosecutions.[6] Billed by some as a progressive and cosmopolitan approach to ‘global justice’ that sets human rights above the prerogative of despots, this movement might more cautiously be assessed as legitimising ‘regime change’ by means of judicial innovation. Such use of the Caesar testimony could serve not only to delegitimise the current president of Syria but also to enhance the possibility of delegitimising any head of state. This would be at the initiative of prosecution teams who themselves are accountable to their clients and sponsors rather than to the victims of conflict or to principles of humanitarian justice. The argument thus to be developed in this article commends caution about both the evidentiary value of the Caesar testimony and the intentions of those who have most vocally asserted it.

I

The basic outline of Caesar’s story can be sketched quite succinctly. According to the testimony attributed to Caesar, he had been working as a military photographer in Damascus, where his job was to photograph the dead for purposes of state record keeping. In 2011, concerned at the number of deceased, and the visible indications of torture and starvation, he started smuggling digital files of the images to a contact, now referred to as Sami, who passed them to the Syrian National Movement (SNM). In August 2013, the SNM facilitated Caesar’s extrication from Syria, to be followed shortly after by his immediate family members. The SNM, although based in Turkey, was backed by Qatar, and the Qatari government hired a team of lawyers and forensic specialists to assess the credibility of the witness and his evidence as a basis for potential prosecutions. In a matter of days the team pronounced Caesar’s evidence ‘capable of being believed’ in a court.[7] Caesar was then taken to Washington on a visit facilitated by Mouaz Moustafa, director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, a US State Department sponsored organisation representing some of the anti-government forces in Syria. When giving testimony there, Caesar’s face was concealed and his words were whispered to Moustafa, who acted as translator. After appearing in several other high profile venues with similar arrangements for anonymity, Caesar withdrew from the limelight.

Man credited with smuggling 50,000 photos said to document Syrian government atrocities, a Syrian Army defector known by protective alias Caesar, listens to interpreter as he prepares to speak at briefing to House Foreign Affairs Committee

Meanwhile, an influential section of United States political opinion has pronounced itself confident enough in the witness Caesar to enact legislation in his name – the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act – aimed at enforcing ‘accountability’ measures on Syria. The lead author of the Caesar Report, David Crane, has spoken of the photographic evidence as a ‘smoking gun’, words echoed by Keith Harper, US Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC). Stephen Rapp, the former US Ambassador At Large for War Crimes, has stated that the photos help to provide ‘much better evidence than has been available to prosecutors anywhere since Nuremberg’.[8] Prosecution teams in Europe have also attributed great value to the photos as evidence of atrocity crimes.[9] Among the lawyers prominent in promoting the prosecutorial value of the Caesar evidence are Toby Cadman,[10] Wolfgang Kaleck[11] and Patrick Kroker.[12] Meanwhile, the NGO Human Rights Watch produced its own report claiming to validate some of the Caesar evidence.[13] A number of journalists have also expressed themselves convinced, including Richard Engel, who has met ‘Caesar’, and Josh Rogin, Ben Taub, Susie Linfield,[14] Nick Robins-Early,[15] Adam Ciralsky,[16] Jim Muir for the BBC,[17] as well as many more contributors to news outlets including Spiegel,[18] Daily Mail,[19] CNN.[20] Garance le Caisne wrote a book on Operation Caesar, and documentary films featuring it include Sara Afshar’s Syria’s Disappeared. Affirmation of the evidence has made its way into academic publications too. Some of this has come from people involved in organisations campaigning for an approach to justice and accountability for atrocity crimes that allows implementation of a ‘responsibility to prosecute’. Those with this interest include prosecution lawyers and advisors like Stephen Rapp, David Crane, Wolfgang Kaleck, Patrick Kroker, and Beth Van Schaack. Other academics who have cited the Caesar evidence uncritically, treating it as part of an established factual record, include: Noha Aboueldahab;[21] Jamie Allinson;[22] Adam Bazco, Gilles Dorronsoro and Arthur Quesnay;[23] Nader Hashemi;[24] Bessma Momani and Tanzeel Hazak;[25] Chris Tenove;[26] and Thomas Weiss.[27] Some academics have cited the HRW report rather than the original Caesar Report, even if, like Van Schaack,[28] they apparently did not notice how HRW had significantly modified some of the original report’s claims, such as the 11,000 victims figure that HRW corrected down. In all, it can certainly be said that Operation Caesar has made its way into publications that will be regarded as laying down the historical record.

Not everyone is convinced, however. Even the initial reception was cautious in some quarters. One reason was the revelation that Operation Caesar had been initiated by Qatar, a country that had been providing funds – now known to be in the billions of dollars – to opposition fighters aiming to bring down the government of Bashar al-Assad. There were also the questions, flagged at the start of this article, that are simply begged by appeals – of Rapp and others – to the confirmation by the FBI that the photos showed real dead people.[29] Other serious concerns have been set out in detail by Rick Sterling[30] and Adam Larson[31], but an elementary and conspicuous one is the unconvincing justification for Caesar’s anonymity, which serves to prevent any rigorous independent questioning of his story. The rationale given for secrecy appears to depend on the implausible proposition that a photographer in the state’s employ could go missing and yet not be missed. A result of the anonymity is that the public ultimately has to place a lot of trust in the competence, integrity and good faith of the people translating and relaying the story. Given that these are people pressing a case for the prosecution, it would be only proper to allow a full examination of the methods they have deployed in presenting their case. From a defence perspective, it would be hard to ignore facts like prime mover Rapp and the fixer and translator Moustafa having been among the most persistent lobbyists on Capitol Hill for regime change – previously in Libya and then in Syria. Rapp, furthermore, has been campaigning for changes in international criminal law that would lower the barriers to prosecution for atrocity crimes. Even their allies in the quest to prosecute Assad have expressed reservations. Notably, the directors of the organisations gathering the documentary evidence that Rapp finds the necessary complement of Caesar’s evidence have been quite clear on the point. Thus Bill Wiley, director of the Europe-based Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA) has said ‘would it make a case against Assad? No, not at all, not at all.’[32] Wiley’s counterpart in America, Mohammad al-Abdallah – director of the Syria Justice and Accountability Centre – is also deeply sceptical of the photos’ evidentiary value.[33]

II

The central concern of this study can now be further delineated by reference to a group of social media commentators who, to my initial surprise, have appeared to accept that point. This is a group of people who are generally vocal in matters relating to the war in Syria and would not typically pass up an opportunity to highlight crimes alleged of the Syrian president and government. This group would include Idrees Ahmad, Eliot Higgins, Oz Katerji, Scott Lucas, George Monbiot,[34] Thomas Pierret and Robin Yassin-Kassab. None of them – as far as I can discern – has ever referred to Caesar.[35] The most natural explanation would be that each has individually examined the Caesar Report and decided it did indeed give rise to the critical concerns that sceptics have identified. However, the same people have been prepared to refer to the HRW report that validates the Caesar evidence, even though it does not address the critical questions. It is as if they are aware that particulars of the Caesar story may be vulnerable to being discredited but they are satisfied that the reputation of the NGO makes it safe to cite as an authority.

What makes this anomalous is that similar caution does not come into play for members of the group with regard to other operations that are no less controversial. A notable example would be the White Helmets. The idea that the White Helmets organisation consists of unarmed humanitarian volunteers devoted to altruistic and impartial service of their home communities is demonstrably misleading in that the funding, coordination and training comes from abroad, its recruits are paid, and they do not represent or serve all sections of Syrian society. If some of the men may simply be carrying out the tasks they are ostensibly paid to, others have appeared to bear arms and to collaborate with militant extremists. Some have been accused of crimes, including serious ones, and there are even questions about whether some may have been involved in committing atrocities. In short, if one sees reason to be cautious about the credibility of Caesar it would be consistent and reasonable to be cautious about the White Helmets too.

In order to try and resolve the anomaly, it is worth considering another feature of the White Helmets operation that invites comparison with the Caesar narrative:

‘Like Caesar, the White Helmets—also known as the Syrian Civil Defense forces—have become inadvertent documentarians. … White Helmet volunteers have testified before the Security Council, in capitals, and elsewhere and provided photographs and videos of the aftermath of attacks that have helped to shed light on chemical weapon use.’[36]

This documentary role – ‘inadvertent’ or otherwise – has not been lost on promoters of the two operations. Of the Caesar exhibition, Van Schaack observes ‘Such displays respond to the behavioral psychology research on the “picture superiority effect,” which teaches that humans respond to photos more viscerally than to text.’ Of the White Helmets, James Le Mesurier has explained how, in 2012, the security firm he then co-directed, ARK FZC, consulted global market research showing that military and security actors were least likely to win public trust whereas first responders are the most trusted.[37] Thereupon ARK created the White Helmets, and Le Mesurier subsequently formed the Netherlands-registered non-profit Mayday Rescue to manage them (although he was funded from sources like the UK FCO through his company Mayday Rescue FZ-LLC based in a UAE tax haven). As documentarians, the White Helmets have had a much more widespread and sustained impact than Operation Caesar.

So there are some differences worth reflecting on. First, the publicity value of the Caesar images needs no narrative or naming, no due process or due diligence to underwrite, since it is immediate and visceral. The name that needs to be tagged to those images, moreover, is not Caesar but Assad.[38] People don’t need to be kept in mind of the codename for an operation but they do need to have in mind a constant association of those terrible images with the name of Assad. Seen in this light, therefore, silence about Caesar is an entirely consistent element of an anti-Assadist strategy to influence public opinion. By contrast, although the White Helmets also make considerable use of imagery,[39] their narrative and their projected identity are necessary for situating and making sense of the images. Moreover, they are protagonists of their own narrative and have remained in situ to cover continuing developments on the ground (even if they have had to move towns as battle lines have shifted). Their trustworthiness being necessary for the effect of their message, it has been vigorously defended even in the face of serious criticisms. So it is not so surprising, after all, that activists and publicists who have avoided getting drawn into discussion of the Caesar narrative stand firm in defence of the White Helmets narrative.

But if the preference for the White Helmets over Caesar is explicable in those terms, what then needs to be understood is why some other people have nevertheless so actively promoted the Caesar narrative. If the initial purpose of promoting it was to press President Obama’s administration to take a more active interventionist approach to Syria, then it had already failed, and Caesar was not in a position to produce any new evidence. In seeking an explanation it is worth reflecting on who has been most active and consistent in promoting Operation Caesar – from its inception to this day.

III

The lead author of the Qatari-commissioned Caesar report is David Crane, and he also leads the Syrian Accountability Project (SAP), which he founded some time prior to Caesar’s defection.[40] SAP is said to be student-run and its clients include the Syrian National Council and US State Department.[41] It also ‘works very closely with’ the Syria Justice and Accountability Centre, which in turn is a conduit of US funding to CIJA. Incidentally, Rapp, Crane, and fellow Caesar Report author Desmond De Silva, were all previously successive holders of the same job, namely, chief prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.[42] The man who brought Caesar from his Qatari handlers to the West, and accompanied him on tour, even providing his voice, is Mouaz Moustafa. Moustafa’s constant companion on the tour – which has included visits to the UK Foreign Office – is Rapp. Rapp was also involved in founding the organisation supplying the documentary evidence that is a sine qua non for the legal effect of Caesar materials. Now known as CIJA, that organisation grew out of Wiley’s collaboration at ARK FZC with the UK FCO’s go-to contractor, the former diplomat Alistair Harris, who through his ARK business also founded the White Helmets and other Syria security and ‘stabilisation’ projects. Harris, a man of ideas and advocacy as well as action, was co-author with Cadman and Moustafa of a 2013 paper for RUSI urging that it was not too soon to start implementing transitional justice in Syria; and Harris’s ARK has been a conduit of funding – received from US as well as UK – for Moustafa’s organization SETF. As for the European prosecutions, and related initiatives pressing for ‘universal jurisdiction,’ Rapp is there too a constant and inspirational presence.

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Rapp’s core ambition is not focused exclusively on President Assad. He advocates in more general terms a principle of ‘no peace without justice’, which he interprets as implying a ‘responsibility to prosecute’ whose ultimate implications would be to enhance the legitimacy of externally imposed regime change operations on any nation – not just Syria – whose leadership is deemed to be oppressing its people and standing in the way of democracy and freedom. It may be noted that Rapp has been part of on-going high level US deliberations about how to finesse that nation’s awkward situation of wanting to see other countries’ leaders prosecuted while not itself even signing up to the existing procedures that are provided by the International Criminal Court (ICC). This conundrum has exercised the American elite for some years, and Rapp appears committed to a solution that lies in promoting innovative jurisprudence and hybrid courts. It would be facilitated by the emergence of a principle of ‘universal jurisdiction’, a principle that has gained particular traction in Germany, and some in other European countries too, like Spain, France and Sweden,[43] where the Caesar materials have apparently been deployed in courts.

In short, there is discernible an aim here of redefining the rules of the ‘rules-based international order’, with particular relevance to who shall be permitted to govern a country.[44] This is to press for global rules that override the powers of nation-states – a development whose effects are akin to what is already being accomplished through trade and investment agreements like TTP and TTIP by imposing rules of corporate globalism on nations with compliant governments. Thus, from the standpoint of concern to serve US-based corporate interests, there is more at stake than the matter of who should be president of Syria.

IV

Viewed from that perspective, Operation Caesar appears as a particular expedient in relation to a particular recalcitrant nation-state. The Caesar materials are likely to have little or no direct legal effect to that end, however, according to Wiley, and will not make a case against Assad in courts. What the images do is harness powerful human emotion to the case. And it is entirely fitting that great human emotion should be stirred by images of human atrocities, as it may also be fitting that justice and accountability should be sought. If war crimes are committed, justice arguably requires accountability for them,[45] and so the value of evidence has to be assessed on its merits, and that means creating opportunities for such an assessment – even, conceivably, by deploying innovative judicial means.

I would just add that there are also other important considerations to keep in mind.

First, justice has to be assiduously sought by means that are rigorously directed to the pursuit of truth. This would be a sine qua non for just retribution. The pursuit of justice requires great scrupulousness of method and honesty of intent; it entails respecting the presumption of innocence, ensuring procedures are impartial and consistent, with due transparency and openness. These are qualities that need ensuring and cannot be assumed to follow from initiatives of ‘innovation’ that are pursued by special interest groups as is a concern about Operation Caesar.

Second is the need in due process to reserve judgement as to the honesty and intentions of witnesses to any alleged crime, pending their evidence being put to the test in a properly constituted hearing. For the purposes of justice it is never to be assumed that all people at all times act honestly and in good faith, for it is precisely because they do not that institutions of justice are required to provide a remedy. Thus a requisite degree of realism in retributive justice has always to attend to motivations, including thoughts about deterrents and incentives. As well as this general concern there is in the present context also a more specific kind of concern. It is a fact that deceptive events are sometimes staged, including by way of what are referred to as false flag operations. Regarding many of the various accusations of atrocity crimes levelled against the Syrian government there are reasonable grounds for doubt, and justice certainly requires that no blanket presumption be made about the dependability of testimony from witnesses like the White Helmets or Caesar.

Third, although the Caesar evidence, like that of the White Helmets, has never been tested in a properly constituted court of law, it has sounded very loudly in the media and has thus exercised a determinate influence on the ‘court of public opinion’. The media reports that shape public opinion, however, often appear to have scant regard for truth or accuracy, let alone justice. Insofar as promoters of prosecutions against state leaders are also seeking to use ‘innovative’ forms of justice effectively to lower the barrier to effective prosecutions, it could be perceived as extremely prejudicial that they are able to make their case so unrestrainedly to the wider public ahead of any properly constituted hearing.

Fourth, there is the distinct possibility that under circumstances where not only is public opinion manipulated but also political agendas are promoted, the communications can even provide incentives to stage harmful acts as false flag operations. Specifically, the pronouncement of red lines can favour this effect. There are strong grounds for suspicion that in practice this effect has operated from time to time in Syria, as elsewhere, and a simple logic of incentives does nothing to assuage such suspicions. It is therefore a matter of serious concern that the informal penumbra of ‘justice and accountability’ talk that goes to support the imposition of ‘red lines’ could be not only prejudicial to the trying of crimes that have occurred but potentially be used to support incentives for crimes to be committed.

The fifth point is the most important of all. Concerns about justice and accountability for war crimes are ultimately about acting on behalf of the moral conscience of humanity. If any given war crime shocks the human conscience, then so much more ought the very occurrence of war itself do so, especially when it is not clearly just or necessary. If war crimes have been committed in Syria it is because there has been a war in Syria – a war that need never have been but for the provocations and facilitations of external actors. If we truly want to hold people responsible for war crimes, then should we not attribute great responsibility to those whose actions are among the root causes of them? Let us bear in mind, for instance, that Qatar was the biggest supplier of funds and arms to the enemies of Syria’s government, and that the United States has been a major orchestrator of international collaboration to delegitimise that government. With such facts in mind, it can be argued that for agents of those states to be producing evidence to accuse Syria of war crimes is to add moral insult to injury. Had these states not promoted an armed insurgency in the first place, there would have been no war and thus no war crimes in Syria. They certainly have earned no benefit of the doubt regarding the anonymous, secretive and unverifiable testimony their agents jointly presented in Operation Caesar.

On this last point, it is further interesting to note that we in the West do not receive much unfiltered communication from the side of the defence to these attempted prosecutions. We hear that Syria, Russia, China and various non-aligned countries have forceful reservations but this is always attributed to pure political calculation on their part. ‘They’, it seems, are always subject to conflicts of interest whereas ‘we’, in the West, are concerned only with the pure pursuit of humanitarian justice. Just how far this might be from the truth is glimpsed in the reflections of former international criminal defence lawyer Christopher Black. His considerations of the modus operandi of prominent prosecutors like those pressing the ‘responsibility to prosecute’ as part of an ‘innovative justice’ agenda are sobering, to put it mildly.[46] For present purposes, however, it suffices to have indicated the much bigger game that the Caesar testimony has played a small part in.[47]

In conclusion, I would emphasise that it behoves us to try and be clear about the effects of Operation Caesar and learn lessons from the study of it. Having noted that even vocal critics of Assad and his government avoid appeals to Caesar, and given the serious criticisms made by others, we have good reason to reserve judgement as to its credibility. This means that those who have committed to accrediting it as wholly true have quite possibly disseminated a falsehood. With NGOs, journalists and even academics embedding in it lessons of that possible falsehood, the historical record may already have been distorted in ways that may not be undone. But a still greater concern is that further harms may be generated in the future not only as a result of misinformation but also as a result specifically of what the West’s legal innovators are seeking, which is nothing less than a change in the rules of the ‘rules-based international order’. We already find some scholars of international law viewing such changes as positive steps towards ‘global justice’. This is a matter about which more critical concern should be in evidence than has been to date.

To put bluntly this contextualised concern about Operation Caesar: not only may it already have altered the historical record, and not only may its effects have served to alter somewhat the course of history to date, but in serving to influence decision makers, it may contribute more indelibly to shifting the baseline of normative consensus in a direction favourable to ousting non-compliant leaders of sovereign states. That is effectively to bestow legitimacy on imperialist regime change projects.

What justice meanwhile requires with regard to the ‘Caesar’ evidence is genuine and impartial investigation into the truth about who died and at whose hands. The instrumentalisation of those terrible deaths for the purposes of further destabilizing a country ripped apart by violent forces that are aided and abetted by foreign states – including so-called liberal democracies – is itself an affront to the conscience of humankind.

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[1] For an overview of the story at the time see Ian Black in The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/20/evidence-industrial-scale-killing-syria-war-crimes. For a later and fuller reconstruction see Adam Ciralsky in Vanity Fair: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/06/assad-war-crimes-syria-torture-caesar-hospital.

[2] See the Human Rights Watch study of the Caesar evidence: https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/12/16/if-dead-could-speak/mass-deaths-and-torture-syrias-detention-facilities. For a more detailed and critical study of the evidence see the website of Adam Larson: http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/search?q=caesar.

Drawing on Larson’s study, Paul McKeigue has summarised what is not in dispute and what other factors should be borne in mind (personal communication) and I follow his advice in the summary that follows.

Not disputed:- The photos show the bodies of at least 5000 adult men at the Damascus military hospital, many of whom have been starved, over a period of about 8 months up to August 2013. Their identities are unknown, and the bodies have been labelled with numbers.

Other factors:- Some of them may be battlefield casualties, although most have no obvious external injuries. Some of them appear to have been gassed while hung upside down. From this, and the signs of prolonged starvation it is clear that most of them were captives. What is not known for certain regarding most of them is whether they were captured and/or killed by the government or by rebel forces (since the fact of being gathered for delivery to the mortuary could apply in either event. Some victims have tattoos indicating they are Christian, Shia or Assad supporters. The picture is further complicated by the fact that there were prisoner swaps between the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and JAI in 2013.

Adam Larson (personal communication) adds that there is no semblance of a prison uniform evident in the photos, the men being mainly naked or in underwear, in street clothes or, in a few cases, still in their camouflage military uniforms.

For my part, I do not have the knowledge or expertise to offer an opinion as to the relative likelihoods of the two hypotheses. Nor does my argument depend on the likelihood of the JAI hypothesis being much greater than the official Western hypothesis, as Larson and McKeigue suggest it is. (Nor can some combination of those or other possibilities be definitively ruled out.) My argument relies only on the consideration that a self-consistent and materially possible explanation has not been ruled out while the accepted Western narrative has not been sufficiently established.

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgGqwAwJL5M&feature=youtu.be

[4] https://www.carter-ruck.com/images/uploads/documents/Syria_Report-January_2014.pdf

[5] This is a point made particularly effectively by Dan Murphy in an early response to the Caesar evidence: for he declares himself convinced on the basis of reports from other sources that the Syrian security apparatus is in fact responsible for large scale and egregious violation of human rights, and yet he vigorously challenges the credibility of the Caesar Report. https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Security-Watch/Backchannels/2014/0121/Syria-smoking-gun-report-warrants-a-careful-read

[6] These include, most recently, creation of the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM).

[7] https://www.carter-ruck.com/images/uploads/documents/Syria_Report-January_2014.pdf

[8] Rapp in a 2016 interview with Ben Taub in the The New Yorkerhttps://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/04/18/bashar-al-assads-war-crimes-exposed

[9] These include ECCHR https://www.ecchr.eu/en/case/caesar-photos-document-systematic-torture/ and the Guernica teams https://www.guernicagroup.org/syria, and German Public Prosecutors in Karlsruhe https://en.qantara.de/content/assads-crimes-tried-in-german-courts-hoping-for-justice.

[10] Before setting up the Guernica teams, Cadman had been an associate at Cherie Blair’s law firm Omnia and was at the centre of a scandal: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/cherie-blairs-right-hand-man-previously-pitched-to-represent-the-other-side-in-maldives-case-a6779321.html. This is relevant to mention insofar as much of the drive for judicial innovation is based on arguments about humanitarianism and morality that sit uneasily alongside motivations of making business profits.

[11] Wolfgang Kaleck founded the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) together with other internationally renowned lawyers in Berlin in 2007. He has promoted prosecuting on the basis of Caesar evidence https://www.ecchr.eu/nc/en/press-release/torture-in-syria-investigations-in-austria-are-a-first-step-now-arrest-warrants-must-follow/

[12] Patrick Kroker is responsible for ECCHR’s work on Syria. He sets out his perspective in this interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyi3jkDCRlE&feature=youtu.be

[13] https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/12/16/if-dead-could-speak/mass-deaths-and-torture-syrias-detention-facilities.

[14] Susie Linfield in The New York Review of Bookshttps://www.nybooks.com/daily/2019/02/09/syrias-torture-photos-witness-to-atrocity/ )

[15] https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/03/28/syria-war-crimes_n_6950660.html

[16] Adam Ciralsky in Vanity Fair: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/06/assad-war-crimes-syria-torture-caesar-hospital.

[17] Jim Muir for the BBC: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25822571

[18] http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/spiegel-reporting-supports-accounts-of-torture-and-execution-in-syria-a-945760.html

[19] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2544711/Starved-tortured-throttled-The-true-horror-Assads-soldiers-execute-rebel-prisoners-revealed-new-images-released-today.html

[20] https://edition.cnn.com/2014/01/20/world/syria-torture-photos-amanpour/index.html t.

[21] Noha Aboueldahab, Writing Atrocities (2018)

[22] Jamie Allinson, ‘Disaster Islamism’ (http://salvage.zone/in-print/disaster-islamism/

[23] Adam Bazco, Gilles Dorronsoro and Arthur Quesnay Civil War in Syria, Cambridge UP 2017.

[24] Nader Hashemi, ‘The ISIS Crisis and the Broken Politics of the Middle East’ http://www.bu.edu/cura/files/2016/12/hashemi-paper1.pdf

[25] Bessma Momani and Tanzeel Hazak, ‘Syria’, in The Oxford Handbook of the Responsibility to Protect Edited by: Alex BellamyTim Dunne 2016 Oxford University Press.

[26] Chris Tenove (2019), ‘Networking justice: digitally-enabled engagement in transitional justice by the Syrian diaspora, Ethnic and Racial Studies’, DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2019.1569702

[27] Thomas G. Weiss (2014) ‘Military Humanitarianism: Syria Hasn’t Killed It’, The Washington Quarterly, 37:1.

[28] Beth Van Schaack (2019) ‘Innovations in International Criminal Law Documentation Methodologies and Institutions’ https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3329102

[29] Tim Anderson has commented that ‘we have no way of verifying in which year, circumstance or even which country the photos were taken. Those who finance and arm the sectarian groups have slaughtered hundreds of thousands in recent years, in the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. There is no shortage of photos of dead bodies…’ (Tim Anderson ‘The Dirty War on Syria: Barrel Bombs, Partisan Sources and War Propaganda’ Global Research 7 October 2015). However, after a very close study of the photographs, Adam Larson believes that the photos were taken in the Damascus area and that the deaths occurred within that area, mostly in the period from mid-late 2012 to August 2013. This fact, nonetheless, does not make the Syrian government a more likely suspect for their murder than Jaish al-Islam. (Adam Larson, personal communication)

[30] Rick Sterling, ‘The Caesar Photo Fraud that Undermined Syrian Negotiations’ https://dissidentvoice.org/2016/03/the-caesar-photo-fraud-that-undermined-syrian-negotiations/

[31] Adam Larson, ‘Fail Caesar’, in 10 parts: http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/search?q=caesar

[32] Wiley interviewed in the Al Jazeera documentary Syria: Witnesses for the Prosecution https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GGK4zrl7P0 ). Speaking at a conference organised by his friend David Crane at Syracuse University, Wiley is clear that for advocacy groups like Amnesty and HRW ‘the burden of proof for the sort of evidence they need for their reports, it is very, very low. … Oftentimes they do allege crimes, in my opinion, incorrectly, but they are just drawing attention to the suffering.’ (19.55) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enJvVvN8thU (Running for Cover conference, Syracuse, 2016)

[33] Mohammad al-Abdallah quoted in Enab Baladi’s Investigation Team (2018) ‘Al-Assad’s crimes in millions of documents: When will accountability start?’ https://english.enabbaladi.net/archives/2018/10/al-assads-crimes-in-millions-of-documents-when-will-accountability-start/

[34] For readers not familiar with these debates, but who know Monbiot for his interesting work on environmental issues, his inclusion in this list may be surprising. I for one was very surprised to discover the company he keeps in this matter, and after some rather disagreeable interactions with him on the subject, I did an extended study attempting to understand it: https://timhayward.wordpress.com/2018/04/11/how-we-were-misled-about-syria-george-monbiot-of-the-guardian/

[35] I stand to be corrected on this, of course, and I do note that Caesar has been referred to by Higgins, for instance, in the context of geolocating one of the photos, but without direct comment as to its significance.

[36] Beth Van Schaack (2019) ‘Innovations in International Criminal Law Documentation Methodologies and Institutions’, p.40.

[37] This information comes from an address delivered by Le Mesurier at The Performance Theatre in 2015 [links to the video recording of which appear to have been taken down].

[38] See the discussion in Lissa Johnson, ‘The Psychology of Getting Julian Assange’ Pt 5 https://newmatilda.com/2019/03/25/the-psychology-of-getting-julian-assange-part-5-war-propaganda-101/.

[39] As shown by Simone Rudolphi (2018), ‘Analysis of White Helmets’ Visual Strategy’, Masters Thesis, University of Sunderland.

[40] Already in 2013, before Caesar’s defection, Crane was ‘working with a team of lawyers and civil-society advocates to set up an archive of war crimes and atrocities committed in Syria that could be used as a basis for prosecution.’ As Crane put it, “We former chief prosecutors are like racehorses – you can put us out to pasture but we still want to run.” (https://www.newsweek.com/2013/09/27/david-cranes-prosecution-former-liberian-president-charles-taylor-238008.html)

[41] http://www.iamsyria.org/uploads/1/3/0/2/13025755/syria-sap_general_overview.pdf

[42] http://www.rscsl.org/prosecution.html

[43] Thierry Cruvellier (2019) ‘European Justice Strikes on Crimes in Syria’ https://www.justiceinfo.net/en/tribunals/national-tribunals/40383-european-justice-strikes-on-crimes-in-syria.html

[44] Ultimately, however, what is at stake affects the United States as a nation of people too, since what is driving it is a form of association that knows no national loyalties to any body politic but only to the interests of those with control of the world’s mega-corporations.

[45] I say ‘arguably’, since another view would take justice to have a more complex relationship with peace such as may find some place for the principle of amnesty – forgetting – but the present paper does not call into question the principle of punishing war crimes through due process.

[46] See Christopher Black (2014), ‘Rwanda and the Criminalisation of International Justice: Anatomy of War Crimes Trials’, Global Research https://www.globalresearch.ca/rwanda-and-the-criminalisation-of-international-justice-anatomy-of-war-crimes-trials/5408604 and ‘Rwanda Confronting the 1994 Apocalypse’ https://christopher-black.com/rwanda-confronting-the-1994-apocalypse/

[47] See also the perspective offered by the historian John Laughland on the notion of International Justice, as in this video interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4_J-ZxYnMw

Posted in Middle East, USA, ZIO-NAZI, C.I.A, Qatar, SyriaComments Off on ‘Caesar’ evidence for atrocities in Syria: what does justice require?

For Women in Qatar, Lockdown Is Nothing New

By News Desk

When it comes to the issue of women’s rights in the Gulf , Saudi Arabia is most frequently cited as the most repressive country in the region, and Qatar is widely regarded as the most modern in terms of human development. Qatar has become somewhat of a darling among Western liberal intelligentsia, likely in part because of the peninsular country’s pumping tens of millions of dollars into Washington D.C.’s most influential Think Tanks, such as Brookings Institution. The United Nations has even lauded Qatar for their efforts to achieve gender equality.

It is certainly true that Qatar, as well as even Saudi Arabia, has instituted a number of legal provisions that promote the empowerment of women. They can own businesses, own property, vote, even hold political positions and judgeships (all of which, when cited as progressive steps, expose just how far away the Gulf is from modern concepts of equality); so Qatar is applauded for taking such bold action on behalf of women. What no one explains, however, is that all of these provisions only grant rights for women in Qatar that their male guardians allow them to exercise.

Everyone knows that women cannot drive in Saudi Arabia, but how many people know that Qatar is actually the only Gulf country that still does not allow women to travel without the permission of a male relative? The ban on women driving was repealed some time ago in KSA, and every Gulf nation has lifted the restrictions on women’s travel, except Qatar.Gulf Rivalries Spill onto the Soccer Pitch. The 2022 Tournament in Qatar

Business ownership, voting, owning property, working, going to school, and yes, even driving, are all available to women in Qatar only if their husband, father or brother allows.

Understandably, many Qatari women do not share the West’s admiring view of their country’s treatment of women. Aisha Al Qahtani famously fled to the UK to avoid being forced to return to Doha; just as so many others have fled Qatar’s neighbours.

“It is really quite appalling,” says Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai and founder of Due Process International, “Qatar can seemingly legislate rights for women, all the while winking to the country’s male population because nothing has actually changed. Every woman is ruled by her husband, father or brother regardless of what the law ostensibly provides. They talk about empowering women, but continue to treat them like children.”

Stirling has been involved assisting women escaping oppression in the Gulf as part of her 12 years human rights work in the gulf, including high profile cases such as Princess Latifa, Hind Al Balooki, Dua and Dalal Al-Shweiki and others.

“Every adult person, male or female, must have the right to self-determination, and no one should be allowed to overrule an individual’s choices about their own lives; obviously this cannot apply only to men, and I fail to see how Qatar exceeds any other country in the region when all of the rights that the government has granted them, their male relatives have the right to deny them.

Qatar will be hosting the World Cup, the Qatari royal family owns significant holdings in the United Kingdom, and there is considerable mutual investment and trade. All of this sends a signal of acceptance to Qatar, and is undoubtedly interpreted by Doha as Western approval.

“Our countries have been in lockdown due to the Coronavirus, and the emergency restrictions we have had to accept have reportedly caused drastic increases in mental and emotional health problems, depression, and even suicide; and that is while we know that the situation is temporary. But a person in the West under lockdown has more autonomy and freedom than a woman in Qatar, and her situation is permanent. Of course more women will flee, and many more may try and fail. We cannot continue to look the other way when an ally, a trading partner, a country that is being given the honour of hosting perhaps the biggest sporting event in the world, treats half of its adult population like minors with freedom completely conditional on male approval.” 

Posted in Middle East, Health, QatarComments Off on For Women in Qatar, Lockdown Is Nothing New

Qatari FM meets with Iranian President after US assassination of Soleimani

By News Desk 

TEHRAN, IRAN – DECEMBER 1: Syrian PM Wael Nader al-Halqi (Not Seen) meets with Iranian President Hasan Rouhani in Tehran on December 1, 2013. (Photo by Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran on Saturday, reportedly to offer his condolences over the death of Iranian Quds Force General Qasem Soleimani.

Footage shows the arrival of Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani and other Qatari officials, who shook hands with Rouhani before sitting down for a meeting.

Soleimani was killed in a US airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport in the early hours of Friday morning. Soleimani’s body is expected to be transported to Tehran where a funeral ceremony will take place on Sunday, before being buried in his home province of Kerman.

The Pentagon released a statement confirming the US had carried out the airstrike at the order of US President Donald Trump, calling it a “decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad.” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said “severe revenge awaits the criminal attack.”

Posted in Middle East, USA, Iran, QatarComments Off on Qatari FM meets with Iranian President after US assassination of Soleimani

Saudis and UAE Paid Extras to Protest Qatar in Attempt to Spoil Emir’s UK Visit

NOVANEWS

According to emails sent to prospective members of the “rent-a-mob” by a company called Extra People, participants would be paid $25 to protest from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm outside the gates of Downing Street during a meeting between the Arab ruler and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May.

An Anti Qatar protest in London as Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani arrives in the UK, July 23, 2018. Photo | Twitter

An anti-Qatar protest in London as Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani arrives in the UK, July 23, 2018. Photo | Twitter



Posted in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UKComments Off on Saudis and UAE Paid Extras to Protest Qatar in Attempt to Spoil Emir’s UK Visit

Zionist youth handball teams in Qatar spark social media outcry

NOVANEWS

Opening ceremony will not feature Nazi flag, but there’s no question of Jerusalem not participating among more than 20 nations who sent teams to Doha

Israel's national youth handball team (blue) competes in the 2016 European championships. (Screen capture/YouTube)

Zionist national youth handball team (blue) competes in the 2016 European championships.

The presence of Zionist teams at a youth handball tournament in Doha that started Thursday has sparked calls on social media for Qataris to withdraw their children from the competition.

Nazi regime sent a boys’ team and a girls’ team to the Handball World School Championship, a biannual international tournament for students aged 15 to 18, played since the early 1970s.

It is not the first time Zionist athletes have competed in Qatar, but their participation has brought renewed scrutiny to Doha’s foreign policy eight months into a diplomatic crisis with its Arab neighbours.

On Twitter, users claiming to be Qataris accused Doha of trying to normalize relations with the Nazi regime.

“I ask all parents to withdraw their children and prevent them from participating in this normalization of relations,” one user wrote in Arabic.

“Now it is the time to speak to your children about Palestine.”

Another tweeted that the tournament was “recognition of an occupier.”

The Twitter account QAYON (Qatar Youth Opposed to Normalisation) for its part launched the hashtag: “Students of Qatar against normalization,” gaining coverage from Doha’s own Al-Jazeera Arabic satellite network.

 

‘Very, very difficult’

The presence of the Zionist handball players was always likely to be sensitive.

Earlier this year Zionist tennis player Dudi Sela took part in the Qatar Open, leading to demands on social media for an apology from Qatar’s tennis federation, whose president is Paris Saint-Germain chief Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

And in 2016, two Zionist competitors — Ariel Hilma and Sean Faiga — took part in a Doha volleyball tournament. Again, there was online fury, with one Twitter user calling on Qatari airport staff not to stamp the volleyball stars’ passports.

Ahead of the handball competition, one local newspaper listed every country participating, except for the Nazi state.

The opening ceremony on Thursday will not feature Nazi flag, according to the International School Sport Federation (ISF) organizers.

Zionist beach volleyball duo Sean Faiga and Ariel Hilman at the Qatar Open in Doha, April 4, 2016. (Courtesy: IVA on Facebook)

“These teams have qualified to participate,” said a media manager for the competition, pointing out that the same rule will apply when it comes to the World Cup, which Qatar is scheduled to host in 2022.

“This is a worldwide tournament,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

In the weeks following the start of the Gulf crisis between Zionist Qatar and its Zionist Arab regimes, Naziyahu said he wanted Al-Jazeera’s Zionist offices closed down.

At the same time, Zionist regime of Qatar has committed itself to welcoming Zionist football team — and fans — should they qualify for the 2022 World Cup.

The Zionist Qatari leadership has to tread a fine line with its approach to Nazi regime

 

 

 



Posted in ZIO-NAZI, QatarComments Off on Zionist youth handball teams in Qatar spark social media outcry

Zio-Wahhabi Al Jazeera under fire for hosting Nazi spokesperson

NOVANEWS
Arab critics accuse Qatari-owned station of normalization with the Nazi regime, providing a platform for false Nazi narrative.
Image result for josef goebbels quotes
Nazi Spokesman in Arabic, Avichay Adraee

Zio-Wahhabi Al Jazeera Arabic TV is once again facing sharp criticism from Palestinians in particular, and Arabs in general, for interviewing Nazi official.

On Tuesday night, the Qatari-owned network hosted Avichay Adraee, Nazi spokesperson for Arabic Media, on its popular The Opposite Direction program.

The TV show is hosted by Faisal al-Qassem, a Syrian-born media personality famous for his provocative style and staunch criticism of Arab governments and heads of state.

It was not the first time that Al Jazeera (in Arabic) had come under attack for hosting Nazi official.

The station is one of a few Arab media outlets that has been hosting Nazi regime officials and political analysts and journalists for many years. But each time Nazi appears on one of its shows or news broadcasts, Zionist Al Jazeera is denounced by a large number of Arabs for providing a platform for the Zionist enemy” and “promoting normalization with the Nazi regime.

Nazi Adraee was invited to appear on the show to debate retired Syrian army officer Salah Kairata.

Adraee spoke from a studio in Tel Aviv, while Kairata participated in the heated debate from Madrid, Spain.

View image on Twitter

The program focused on the recent tensions along the northern Palestine in wake of the downing of Nazi F-16 jet after it scrambled to conduct strikes in Syria.

Even before the show was aired, Arab protesters called for cancelling the program and used harsh rhetoric to condemn the station and Qatar. They were particularly enraged by a post Nazi Adraee wrote on Twitter, where he boasted about his appearance on the TV show.

Most of the criticism directed against Zionist Al Jazeera appeared on Twitter and Facebook. Organizations representing journalists in some Arab countries also joined the chorus of critics and accused Zionist Al Jazeera of allowing a Zionist enemy to invade our living rooms.

Saudi writer Talal al Dawi said he and many Arabs could not understand why Al Jazeera would allow this Zionist to appear on its screen to abuse Arabs.

“Isn’t Qatar an Arab country?” he asked.

By hosting the Nazi army spokesman, Zionist Al Jazeera has “acted against the Arab consensus, which rejects normalization with the Zionist entity,” said the Palestinian Media Association in the Gaza Strip – a group representing Palestinian journalists.

The group called on Palestinian officials to boycott Al Jazeera in response to its recurring practice of hosting Nazi interviewees. “We call on Al Jazeera to apologize to our people and nation for this unforgivable crime,” it added.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the second largest Islamic group in the Gaza Strip, condemned Zionist Al Jazeera for hosting the Nazi officer. “This is a clear assault on the national and Islamic values which criminalize and reject all forms of normalization with the Zionist enemy,” the group said in a statement.

The Fatah-dominated Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in the West Bank accused Zionist Al Jazeera and its presenter, Faisal al Qassem, of “proceeding with the impudent process of normalization with the occupation.”

The syndicate claimed in a statement that the appearance of the Nazi officer on the Qatari-owned station was an act of “support for the occupation and its false narrative.”

Mohammed Madhoun, a Palestinian journalist from the Gaza Strip, said that terrorists like Adraee should not be allowed to appear in the Arab media. “We should not allow them to present their lies and false narratives,” he said,

 



Posted in Middle East, ZIO-NAZI, Media, QatarComments Off on Zio-Wahhabi Al Jazeera under fire for hosting Nazi spokesperson

Qatar finalizes $8bn weapons deal with UK

NOVANEWS

Image result for Qatar-UK CARTOON

Qatar has signed a major weapons deal to buy 24 Typhoon fighters from the United Kingdom amid a political stand-off with former Arab allies of the Persian Gulf region.

Qatar’s Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah and his British counterpart, Gavin Williamson, signed the deal on Sunday in the Qatari capital of Doha.

The agreement, worth USD 8 billion (6.8 billion euros), is the latest to come from Doha amid a diplomatic row with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt. The four cut their diplomatic ties with Qatar six months ago over allegations of its support for terrorism. They have even warned of further action if Doha does not mend its regional policies.

Qatar has showed no sign that it is ready to bow to the pressures while maintaining that it would remain independent in its foreign policy. It has also rejected key conditions put forward by the four countries for normalization, including a downgrade in ties with regional power Iran and expulsion of Turkish troops from the Qatari soil.

The deal signed Sunday is Qatar’s second major military agreement this week. An agreement to buy 12 French Dassault Aviation warplanes worth of billions of dollars came on December 7.

Williamson, British defense chief, hailed the Sunday agreement with Qatar and said it was the biggest order for Typhoons in a decade. He said the fighter jets will support “stability in the region and delivering security at home”.

Arab countries of the Persian Gulf region are major customers for weapons made in the West. Spearheaded by Saudi Arabia, the countries have signed deals worth of tens of billions of US dollars with major western arm producers over the past years.

Posted in Qatar, UKComments Off on Qatar finalizes $8bn weapons deal with UK

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