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Links February 21-27

February 27th, 2015 No comments


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On Libya’s descent into chaos and war

February 27th, 2015 No comments

Sharif Abdel Kouddous reports: 

A cold wind whips across Tripoli’s landmark Martyrs’ Square as a few hundred protesters gather after sunset prayers. Posters of those killed in the fighting are plastered across the front of a stage outfitted with large loudspeakers. A man carrying a plastic box half-filled with cash is collecting donations for Libya Dawn amid makeshift stands selling popcorn and hot tea.

The United Nations is not popular here. A large banner strung between two palm trees bears the face of UN special envoy Bernardino León crossed out in red atop the words, “Sorry, we don’t need you.” Onstage, a woman is leading the crowd in chants of “Death to Hifter!” and “No dialogue, freedom to the revolutionaries!”

The demonstrations, which have been taking place on a weekly basis since last summer, when Libya Dawn took control of the capital, offer a glimpse into the enormous hurdles standing in the way of a negotiated solution to the conflict.

The UN is seeking to broker a ceasefire and strike a deal for a unified government, distant goals that still fall well short of ending the overall crisis. This month, UN negotiators for the first time held separate meetings with delegates from both sides in the southern town of Ghadames. Yet the eastern parliament this week voted to suspend its participation in the talks. Meanwhile, hardliners among the armed groups still have not joined the talks, believing they can gain more from fighting.

One cause of the growing conflict can be traced to some fateful early decisions: after the fall of the Qaddafi regime, post-revolution governments placed all civilians who had taken up arms on the state payroll, after which the number ballooned from 60,000 in 2011 to more than 200,000 a year later. The government wage bill is now almost three times what it was in 2010.

The militias operated nominally under the authority of the state but were actually loyal to their own commanders. As they began to battle one another over turf and resources, state salaries continued to be paid to fighters on all sides—a Kafkaesque cycle, in which the wealth of the country has been being drained to fund the internal conflict.

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UN laments IS statue ‘war crimes’

February 27th, 2015 No comments

The reported destruction of historic artefacts in Iraq by Islamic State militants is a war crime, the head of the UN agency for culture says.
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Leonard Nimoy on the Arab-Israeli conflict

February 27th, 2015 No comments
Here is the stance of Leonard Nimoy on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

PS In no way do I endorse his stance, of course.

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PM defends spies over ‘Jihadi John’

February 27th, 2015 No comments

The UK prime minister defends the security services against criticisms they failed to stop the man known as “Jihadi John” from joining Islamic State in Syria.
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What is happening in Saudi Arabia?

February 27th, 2015 No comments
This is a very informative interview (a first) with Mujtahid.

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AUB and Malcolm X

February 27th, 2015 No comments
“When Malcolm traveled from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon, Malik tried to arrange for Malcolm to speak at the American University of Beirut, where Malik was teaching. After the university’s President refused, calling Malcolm an “enemy of America” and “anti-American,” Malcolm spoke instead at the Sudanese Cultural Center in Beirut. ” (thanks Basim)

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A writer in Jordan is being tried for publishing what "clashes with principles of freedom, human rights, and values of the nation"–I am not making this up

February 27th, 2015 No comments
???? ?? ?????? ?? ????? ?????? ????? ??????? ???? ?????””

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Widow wants ‘Jihadi John’ alive

February 27th, 2015 No comments

The widow of a UK aid worker killed by “Jihadi John”, the masked IS militant identified as a man from London, tells the BBC she wants him caught alive.
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Iraq minorities ‘wipeout threat’

February 27th, 2015 No comments

Iraqi minority groups are subject to a “systematic strategy” by IS to drive them out of the country, human rights groups warn.
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