Archive

Author Archive

Turkish Pres. Erdogan says Women not Equal to Men: “Their System is Different.”

November 26th, 2014 No comments

Euronews | —

“The Turkish President has triggered fresh controversy, declaring in a speech that women are not equal to men.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan also criticised the feminist movement, claiming they do not accept or understand the concept of motherhood.

He spoke at a global justice and women’s summit in Istanbul.

An English translation of his speech at the event said: “You cannot make an equality between men and women; they are not equal. They are of a different nature. Their system is different. ”

Euronews: “Turkish President sparks row by saying women are not equal to men”

Go to Source

Categories: Arab Blogs Tags:

What if it was Russia and China invading and Bombing? The Blindness of MSM and Washington

November 26th, 2014 No comments

By Tom Engelhardt (Tomdispatch.com) | –

Let’s play a game, the kind that makes no sense on this single-superpower planet of ours. For a moment, do your best to suspend disbelief and imagine that there’s another superpower, great power, or even regional power somewhere that, between 2001 and 2003, launched two major wars in the Greater Middle East. We’re talking about full-scale invasions, long-term occupations, and nation-building programs, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq.

In both countries, that power quickly succeeded in its stated objective of “regime change,” only to find itself mired in deadly conflicts with modestly armed minority insurgencies that it simply couldn’t win. In each country, to the tune of billions and billions of dollars, it built up a humongous army and allied “security” forces, poured money into “reconstruction” projects (most of which proved disasters of corruption and incompetence), and spent trillions of dollars of national treasure.

Having imagined that, ask yourself: How well did all of that turn out for this other power?  In Afghanistan, a recent news story highlights something of what was accomplished.  Though that country took slot 175 out of 177 on Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index, though its security forces continue to suffer grievous casualties, and though parts of the country are falling to a strengthening Taliban insurgency, it has for some years proudly held a firm grip on one record: Afghanistan is the leading narco-state on planet Earth.

In 2013, it upped its opium poppy cultivation by 36%, its opium production by almost 50%, and drug profits soared. Preliminary figures for this year, recently released by the U.N., indicate that opium cultivation has risen by another 7% and opium production by 17%, both to historic highs, as Afghanistan itself has become “one of the world’s most addicted societies.”

Meanwhile, where there once was Iraq (171st on that index of kleptocracies), there is now a Shiite government in Baghdad defended by a collapsed army and sectarian militias, a de facto Kurdish state to the north, and, in the third of the country in-between, a newly proclaimed “caliphate” run by a terror movement so brutal it’s establishing records for pure bloodiness.  It’s headed by men whose West Point was a military prison run by that same great power and its bloodthirstiness is funded in part by captured oil fields and refineries.

In other words, after 13 years of doing its damnedest, on one side of the Greater Middle East this power has somehow overseen the rise of the dominant narco-state on the planet with monopoly control over 80%-90% of the global opium supply and 75% of the heroin. On the other side of the region, it’s been complicit in the creation of the first terrorist mini-oil state in history, a post-al-Qaeda triumph of extreme jihadism.

A Fraudulent Election and a Collapsed Army

Though I have no doubt that the fantasy of relocating Washington’s deeds to Beijing, Moscow, Tehran, or any other capital crumbled paragraphs ago, take a moment for one more experiment.  If this had been the work of any other power we thought less well of than we do of ourselves, imagine the blazing headlines right now.  Conjure up — and it shouldn’t be hard — what the usual war hawks would be spouting in Congress, what the usual suspects on the Sunday morning talk shows might be saying, and what stories cable news networks from CNN to Fox would be carrying.

You know perfectly well that the denunciations of such global behavior would be blistering, that the assorted pundits and talking heads would be excoriating, that the fear and hysteria over that heroin and those terrorists crossing our border would be somewhere in the stratosphere.  You would hear words like “evil” and “barbaric.”  It would be implied, or stated outright, that this avalanche of disaster was no happenstance but planned by that same grim power with its hand on the trigger these last 13 years, in part to harm the interests of the United States.  We would never hear the end of it.

Instead, the recent reports about Afghanistan’s bumper crop of opium poppies slipped by in the media like a ship on a dark ocean.  No blame was laid, no responsibility mentioned.  There were neither blazing headlines, nor angry jeremiads, nor blistering comments — none of the things that would have been commonplace if the Russians, the Chinese, or the Iranians had been responsible.

Just about no one in the mainstream excoriates or blames Washington for the 13 years leading up to this.  In fact, to the extent that Washington is blamed at all for the rise of the Islamic State, the focus has been on the Obama administration’s decision not to stay longer in Iraq in 2011 and do even more of the same.  (Hence, President Obama’s recent decision to extend the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan through at least 2015.)

All in all, we’ve experienced a remarkable performance here when it comes to not connecting the dots or feeling the need to assign responsibility or accountability for what’s happened in these years.  In some fashion, we Americans continue to see ourselves, as we have since 9/11, as victims, not destabilizers, of the world we inhabit.

To add to this spectacle, the Obama administration spent endless weeks helping engineer a fraudulent Afghan presidential election — funded in part by the opium trade — into a new, extra-constitutional form of government.  The actual vote count in that election is now, by mutual agreement of the two presidential candidates, never to be revealed.  All of this took place, in part, simply to have an Afghan president in place who could ink a new bilateral security agreement that would leave U.S. troops and bases there for a further decade.  If another country had meddled with an election in this fashion, can you imagine the headlines and commentary?  While reported here, all of this again passed by without significant comment.

When it comes to a path “forward” in Iraq, it’s been ever deeper into Iraq War 3.0.  Since a limited, “humanitarian” bombing campaign began in August, the Obama administration and the Pentagon have been on the up escalator: more air strikes, more advisers, more weaponry, more money.

Two and a half weeks ago, the president doubled the corps of American advisers (plus assorted other U.S. personnel) there to 3,000-plus.  Last week, the news came in that they were being hustled into the country faster than expected — specifically into dangerous, war-torn al-Anbar Province — to retrain the American-created, now thoroughly sectarian Iraqi army, reportedly in a state of remarkable disarray.

In the meantime, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, the Pentagon, and the White House continue to struggle over whether American boots can be put on the ground in a combat capacity, and if so, how many and in what roles in a “war” that essentially may have no legal basis in the American system of government. (Shades of Afghanistan!)  Of course, much of this internecine struggle in Washington is likely to be obviated the first time U.S. advisers are attacked in Anbar Province or elsewhere and boots end up hitting the ground fast, weapons firing.

Vietnamizing Iraq, Iraqicizing Vietnam

In the meantime, think about what we would have said if the Russians had acted as Washington did in Afghanistan, or if the Chinese had pursued an Iraq-like path in a country of their choosing for the third time with the same army, the same “unified” government, the same drones and weaponry, and in key cases, the same personnel!  (Or, if you want to make the task easier for yourself, just check out U.S. commentary these last months on Ukraine.)

For those of a certain age, the escalatory path the Obama administration has set us on in Iraq has a certain resonance and so, not surprisingly, at the edges of our world, familiar words like “quagmire” are again rising.  And who could deny that there’s something eerily familiar about it all?  Keep in mind that it took less than three years for the Kennedy administration to transition from the first several hundred American advisers it sent to Vietnam to work with the South Vietnamese Army in 1961 to 16,000 armed “advisers” in November 1963 when the president was assassinated.

The Obama administration seems to be in the grips of a similar escalatory fever and on a somewhat similar schedule, even if ahead of the Vietnam timetable when it comes to loosing air power over Iraq and Syria.  However, the comparison is, in a sense, unfair to the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. After all, they were in the dark; they didn’t have a “Vietnam” to refer to.

For a more accurate equivalent, you would have to conjure up a Vietnam scenario that couldn’t have happened.  You would have to imagine that, in May 1975, at the time of the Mayaguez Incident (in which the Cambodians seized an American ship), just two weeks after the South Vietnamese capital Saigon fell, or perhaps even more appropriately in terms of the dual chronologies of the two wars, in December 1978 when the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia, President Gerald Ford had decided to send thousands of American troops back into Vietnam.

Inconceivable as that was then, only such an absurd scenario could catch the true eeriness of the escalatory path of our third Iraq war.

Four More Years!  Four More Years!

Try to imagine the reaction here, if the Russians were suddenly to send their military back into conflict-ridden Afghanistan to refight the lost war of the 1980s more effectively, bringing old Red Army commanders out of retirement to do so.

As it happens, the present war in Iraq and Syria is so unnervingly déjà vu all over again that an equivalency of any sort is next to impossible to conjure up.  However, since in the American imagination terrorism has taken over the bogeyman-like role that Communism once filled, the new Islamic State might in one sense at least be considered the equivalent of the North Vietnamese (and the rebel National Liberation Front, or Vietcong, in South Vietnam).  There is, for instance, some similarity in the inflamed fantasies Washington has attached to each: in the way both were conjured up here as larger-than-life phenomena capable of spreading across the globe.  (Look up “domino theory” on the meaning of a Communist victory in South Vietnam if you doubt me.)

There is also at least some equivalency in the inability of American leaders and commanders to bring the nature, or even the numbers, of the enemy into sharp focus.  Only recently, for instance, General Dempsey, who has played a crucial role in the launching of this latest war, rushed off on just the sort of “surprise visit” to Baghdad that American officials often made to Saigon to proclaim “progress” or “light at the end of the tunnel” in the Vietnam War.  He met with American Marines at the massive U.S. embassy in that city and offered an assessment that seemed to capture some of Washington’s confusions about the nature of its newest war.

Keep in mind that, at the moment the war was launched, the Islamic State was being portrayed here as a monster movement engorging itself on the region, one that potentially imperiled just about every American interest on the planet.  In Baghdad, Dempsey suddenly insisted that the monster was faltering, that the momentum of battle in Iraq was “starting to turn.”  He then labeled the militants of the Islamic State as “a bunch of midgets running around with a really radical ideology” and concluded that, despite the nature of those formerly giant, now-puny fellows and the changing momentum of the war, it might nonetheless take “years” to win.  On his return to Washington he became more specific, claiming that the war could last up to four years and adding, “This is my third shot at Iraq, and that’s probably a poor choice of words.” Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers recently offered a similar four-year estimate, but tagged an “or more” onto it. (Four more years! Four more years! Or more! Or more!)

Despite their sudden access to crystal balls some 11-and-a-half years after the initial invasion of Iraq, such estimates should be taken with a grain of salt.  They reveal less a serious assessment of the Islamic State than just how shaky America’s top leadership, civilian and military, has become about what the U.S. is capable of achieving in the wake of an era of dismal failure in the Greater Middle East.

In reality, unlike North Vietnam in 1963, the Islamic “State” is a wildly sectarian rebel movement that sits atop what is at best a shaky proto-state (despite recent laughable news reports about claims that it will soon mint gold or silver coins).  It is not popular across the region.  Its growth is bound to be limited both by its extreme ideology and its Sunni sectarianism.  It faces enemies galore.  While its skill in puffing itself up — in Wizard of Oz fashion — to monstrous size and baiting the U.S. into further involvement may be striking, it is neither a goliath nor a “midget.”

General Dempsey can’t know how long (or short) its lifespan in the region may be.  One thing we do know, however: as long as the global giant, the United States, continues to escalate its fight against the Islamic State, it gains a credibility and increasing popularity in the world of jihadism that it would never otherwise garner.  As historian Stephen Kinzer wrote recently of the movement’s followers, “To face the mighty United States on Middle Eastern soil, and if possible to kill an American or die at American hands, is their dream. We are giving them a chance to realize it. Through its impressive mastery of social media, the Islamic State is already using our escalation as a recruiting tool.”

Awaiting Iraq War 4.0

Given all this, it should amaze us how seldom the dismal results of America’s actions in the Greater Middle East are mentioned in this country.  Think of it this way: Washington entered Iraq War 3.0 with a military that, for 13 years, had proven itself incapable of making its way to victory.  It entered the latest battle with an air force that, from the “shock and awe” moment it launched 50 “decapitation” strikes against Saddam Hussein and his top officials and killed none of them but dozens of ordinary Iraqis, has brought none of its engagements to what might be called a positive conclusion.  It entered battle with an interlocking set of 17 intelligence agencies that have eaten the better part of a trillion taxpayer dollars in these years and yet, in an area where the U.S. has fought three wars, still manages to be surprised by just about any development, an area that, in the words of an anonymous American official, remains a “black hole” of information.  It has entered battle with leaders who, under the strain of fast-moving events, make essentially the same decision again and again to ever worse results.

In the end, the American national security machinery seems incapable of dealing with the single thing it was built to destroy in the 9/11 period: Islamic terrorism.  Instead its troops, special ops forces, drones, and intelligence operatives have destabilized and inflamed country after country, while turning a minor phenomenon on the planet into, as recent figures indicate, an increasing force for turmoil across the Greater Middle East and Africa.

Given the history of this last period, even if the Islamic State were to collapse tomorrow under American pressure, there would likely be worse to come.  It might not look like that movement or anything else we’ve experienced thus far, but it will predictably shock American officials yet again.  Whatever it may be, rest assured that there’s a solution for it brewing in Washington and you already know what it is.  Call it Iraq War 4.0.

To put the present escalating disaster in the region in perspective, a final analogy to Vietnam might be in order.  If, in 1975, you had suggested to Americans that, almost four decades later, the U.S. and Vietnam would be de facto allies in a new Asia, no one would have believed you, and yet such is the case today.

The Vietnamese decisively won their war against Washington, though much of their country was destroyed and millions died in the process.  In the U.S., the bitterness and sense of defeat took years to recede.  It’s worth remembering that the first president to launch a war in Iraq in 1990 was convinced that the singularly tonic effect of “victory” there was to “kick the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all.”  Now, all of official Washington seems to have a post-modern, twenty-first-century version of the same syndrome.

In the meantime, the world changed in few of the ways anyone expected.  Communism did not sweep the Third World and has since disappeared except in Vietnam, now a U.S. ally, tiny Cuba, and that wreck of a country, North Korea, as well as the world’s leading state on the “capitalist road,” China.  In other words, none of the inflamed fears of that era panned out.

Whatever the bloody horror, fragmentation, and chaos in the Middle East today, 40 years from now the fears and fantasies that led Washington into such repetitively destructive behavior will look no less foolish than the domino theory does today.  If only, in a final thought experiment, we could simply skip those decades and instantly look back upon the present nightmare from the clearer light of a future day, perhaps the next predictable escalatory steps might be avoided.  But don’t hold your breath, not with Washington chanting “Four more years!,” “Four more years!”

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. His new book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World (Haymarket Books).

[Note: A deep bow to Nick Turse for help on this piece. His thought experiments sparked my imagination. Tom]

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me, and Tom Engelhardt’s latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2014 Tom Engelhardt

Mirrored from Tomdispatch.com

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Here’s a small suggestion as the holidays approach.  If you want to lend a hand to TomDispatch before the year ends, why not make a donation of $100 (or more) for a signed, personalized copy of my new book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. If you’d like to have it signed for a friend this season, go to our donation page, make the necessary contribution, and email me telling me whom to sign it for. As for the rest of you, don’t forget to pick up a copy of the book for yourself or a friend. It’s a great way to spread the word about TomDispatch. By the way, if you want to read an interview Don Hazen and Jan Frel of Alternet did with me on the new book and our ragged old world, click here.

Note as well that there will be no TomDispatch post on Thanksgiving. Tom]

——-

Related video added by Juan Cole:

Brave New Foundation: “Afghanistan War: The Soviet Lesson Not Learned”

Go to Source

Categories: Arab Blogs Tags:

Global Warming brings extreme Floods and Drought: World Bank

November 26th, 2014 No comments

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer (Commondreams.org)

“Even very ambitious mitigation” can’t change the fact that the world has already “locked in” mid-century warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial times, a new report from the World Bank Group finds.

This warming brings increased threats to food and water security and jeopardizes poverty-reduction efforts, the study states.

It “confirms what scientists have been saying—past emissions have set an unavoidable course to warming over the next two decades, which will affect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people the most,” stated Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group.

Titled Turn Down the Heat: Confronting the New Climate Normal (pdf), the report looks at how the regions of Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa will be impacted by more frequent weather extremes including heatwaves and drought. These extremes will be the “new climate normal,” the report states.

It marks the third in a series of reports commissioned by the World Bank Group from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics.

The findings of the new report, the World Bank writes in its foreword, “are alarming.”

With a 2°C rise—which the planet is on track to hit by mid-century—Brazil’s soybean yield could decrease up to 70 percent, while melting glaciers will threaten cities in the region. Melting glaciers threaten Central Asia with torrential flooding as well. Thawing of permafrost in northern Russia threatens to unleash stored methane, contributing to a climate feedback loop. In the Middle East and North Africa, increased overall temperatures and more frequent heatwaves threaten already scarce water resources, a fact that could contribute to further conflict.

Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics and a lead author of the report, added: “Assessing the entire chain of climate impacts—for example, how heat waves trigger crop yield declines and how those trigger health impacts—is key to understanding the risks that climate change poses to development.”

Among the significant findings, Rachel Kyte, World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, explained, is that the greenhouse gas emissions already released into the atmosphere mean that “for next twenty years, the die has been cast.” Because of this, “the investment in resilience and adaptation are fundamental,” she stated.

Kim added: “We cannot continue down the current path of unchecked, growing emissions.” Aggressive mitigation is needed immediately, Kyte stated, to be able to leave the next generation an inhabitable planet.

Outlining some of the steps needed to address the crisis, Kim stated: “World leaders and policy makers should embrace affordable solutions like carbon pricing and policy choices that shift investment to clean public transport, cleaner energy and more energy efficient factories, buildings and appliances.”

Author Naomi Klein and others have argued that further economic growth is incompatible with addressing climate change. Yet the report’s assessment echoes the sentiment of President Obama and other world leaders, with Kim stating: “Action on climate change does not have to come at the expense of economic growth.”

“Our response to the challenge of climate change will define the legacy of our generation,” he continued. “The stakes have never been higher.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Mirrored from Commondreams.org

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

——

Related video added by Juan Cole:

Unavoidable Impact of Climate Change: World Bank Study

Go to Source

Categories: Arab Blogs Tags:

Pope Francis and al-Sisi: Wait, Why Does That Ring a Bell? Or Two, Even?

November 25th, 2014 No comments

The Vatican, yesterday. Leaving aside how this will make Muslim Brotherhood heads explode, note that Pope Francis chose his name after Saint Francis of Assisi. Wait: Assisi?

Don’t tell the Egyptian State media, or they’ll see it as proof positive that he’s chosen by God. And I’m not referring to the Pope here.

And don’t forget, the original St Francis of Assisi actually met  with the Ayyubid Sultan of Egypt, al-Malik al-Kamil, in 1219 during the Crusades.

Fra Angelico’s version:

Go to Source

Categories: Arab News Tags:

The Prince of Wales on Tour

November 25th, 2014 No comments


The Prince of Wales and group at the Pyramids, Giza, Cairo, March 1862 Royal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Prints from first photographed royal tour go on show at Buckingham Palace. Click here to see ten images.

Go to Source

Categories: Arab Blogs Tags:

If Essebsi Wins, I’m Going to Need Better Glasses

November 25th, 2014 No comments

If Beji Caid Essebsi, who got 42% of the vote to Moncef Marouki’s 34% in the first round in Tunisia, wins the December runoff, older folk like me may need better glasses when reading small print in Arabic newspapers.

Consider:

President Essebsi: ?????? ??????

President al-Sisi:    ?????? ??????

See the problem? What a difference a dot makes.
Go to Source

Categories: Arab News Tags:

Iran: US War Hawks go on Offensive after Nuclear Energy Talk Deadlines are Postponed

November 25th, 2014 No comments

by Jim Lobe | (Inter Press Service) | —

Buoyed by the failure of the U.S. and five other powers to reach a comprehensive agreement with Iran over its nuclear programme after a week of intensive talks, pro-Israel and Republican hawks are calling for Washington to ramp up economic pressure on Tehran even while talks continue, and to give Congress a veto on any final accord.

“We have supported the economic sanctions, passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, in addition to sanctions placed on Iran by the international community,” Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte, three of the Republican’s leading hawks, said in a statement released shortly after the announcement in Vienna that the one-year-old interim accord between the so-called P5+1 and Iran will be extended until Jul. 1 while negotiations continue.

“These sanctions have had a negative impact on the Iranian economy and are one of the chief reasons the Iranians are now at the negotiating table,” the three senators went on.

“However, we believe this latest extension of talks should be coupled with increased sanctions and a requirement that any final deal between Iran and the United States be sent to Congress for approval. Every Member of Congress should have the opportunity to review the final deal and vote on this major foreign policy decision.”

Their statement was echoed in part by at least one of the likely Republican candidates for president in 2016.

“From the outcome of this latest round, it also appears that Iran’s leadership remains unwilling to give up their nuclear ambitions,” said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a favourite of pro-Israel neo-conservatives.

“None of this will change in the coming months unless we return to the pressure track that originally brought Iran to the table.”

At the same time, however, senior Democrats expressed disappointment that a more comprehensive agreement had not been reached but defended the decision to extend the Nov. 24, 2013 Joint Programme of Action (JPOA) between the P5+1 — the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China plus Germany – and Iran – an additional seven months, until Jul. 1.

Echoing remarks made earlier by Secretary of State John Kerry, who has held eight meetings with his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, over the past week, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein noted that “Iran has lived up to its obligations under the interim agreement and its nuclear programme has not only been frozen, it has been reversed. Today, Iran is further away from acquiring a nuclear weapon than before negotiations began.

“I urge my colleagues in Washington to be patient, carefully evaluate the progress achieved thus far and provide U.S. negotiators the time and space they need to succeed. A collapse of the talks is counter to U.S. interests and would further destabilise an already-volatile region,” she said in a statement.

The back and forth in Washington came in the wake of Kerry’s statement at the conclusion of intensive talks in Vienna. Hopes for a permanent accord that would limit Iran’s nuclear activities for a period of some years in exchange for the lifting of U.S. and international sanctions against Tehran rose substantially in the course of the week only to fall sharply Sunday when Western negotiators, in particular, spoke for the first time of extending the JPOA instead of concluding a larger agreement.

Neither Kerry nor the parties, who have been exceptionally tight-lipped about the specifics of the negotiations, disclosed what had occurred to change the optimistic tenor of the talks.

Kerry insisted Monday that this latest round had made “real and substantial progress” but that “significant points of disagreement” remain unresolved.

Most analysts believe the gaps involved include the size and scope of Iran’s uranium enrichment programme – specifically, the number of centrifuges it will be permitted to operate — and the number of years the programme will be subject to extraordinary curbs and international inspections.

Kerry appealed to Congress to not to act in a way that could sabotage the extension of the JPOA – under which Iran agreed to partially roll back its nuclear programme in exchange for an easing of some sanctions – or prospects for a successful negotiation.

“I hope they will come to see the wisdom of leaving us the equilibrium for a few months to be able to proceed without sending messages that might be misinterpreted and cause miscalculation,” he said. “We would be fools to walk away.”

The aim, he said, was to reach a broad framework accord by March and then work out the details by the Jul. 1 deadline. The JPOA was agreed last Nov. 24 but the specific details of its implementation were not worked out until the latter half of January.

Whether his appeal for patience will work in the coming months remains to be seen. Republicans, who, with a few exceptions, favoured new sanctions against Iran even after the JPOA was signed, gained nine seats in the Senate and will control both houses in the new Congress when it convenes in January.

If Congress approves new sanctions legislation, as favoured by McCain, Rubio, and other hawks, President Barack Obama could veto it. To sustain the veto, however, he have to keep at least two thirds of the 40-some Democrats in the upper chamber in line.

That could pose a problem given the continuing influence of the Israel lobby within the Democratic Party.

Indeed, the outgoing Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair, Robert Menendez, who reluctantly tabled a sanctions effort earlier this year, asserted Monday that the administration’s efforts “had not succeeded” and suggested that he would support a “two-track approach of diplomacy and pressure” in the coming period.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the leading Israel lobby group, also called Monday for “new bipartisan sanctions legislation to let Tehran know that it will face much more severe pressure if it does not clearly abandon its nuclear weapons program.”

Its message echoed that of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who had reportedly personally lobbied each of the P5+1’s leaders over the weekend, and who, even before the extension was officially announced, expressed relief at the failure to reach a comprehensive accord against which he has been campaigning non-stop over the past year.

“The agreement that Iran was aiming for was very bad indeed,” he told BBC, adding that “the fact that there’s no deal now gives [world powers] the opportunity to continue …to toughen [economic pressures] against Iran.”

The Iran task force of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), co-chaired by Dennis Ross, who held the Iran portfolio at the White House during part of Obama’s first term, said, in addition to increasing economic pressure, Washington should provide weaponry to Israel that would make its threats to attack Iran more credible.

The hard-line neo-conservative Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) said Congress should not only pass new sanctions legislation, but strip Obama’s authority to waive sanctions.

“There’s no point waiting seven months for either another failure or a truly terrible deal,” ECI, which helped fund several Republican Senate campaigns this fall, said.

“Congress should act now to reimpose sanctions and re-establish U.S. red lines that will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. To that end, such legislation must limit the president’s authority to waive sanctions, an authority the president has already signaled a willingness to abuse in his desperate quest for a deal with the mullahs.”

Most Iran specialists here believe that any new sanctions legislation will likely sabotage the talks, fracture the P5+1, and thus undermine the international sanctions regime against Iran, strengthen hard-liners in Tehran who oppose accommodation and favour accelerating the nuclear programme.

“The worst scenario for U.S. interests is one in which Congress overwhelmingly passes new sanctions, Iran resumes its nuclear activities, and international unity unravels,” wrote Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, on the Wall Street Journal website Monday.

“Such an outcome would force the United States to revisit the possibility of another military conflict in the Middle East.”

Such arguments, which the administration is also expected to deploy, could not only keep most Democratic senators in line, but may also persuade some Republicans worried about any new military commitment in the Middle East.

Sen. Bob Corker, who will likely chair the Foreign Relations Committee in the new Congress, issued a cautious statement Monday, suggesting that he was willing to give the administration more time. Tougher sanctions, he said, could be prepared “should negotiations fail.”

Jim Lobe’s blog on U.S. foreign policy can be read at Lobelog.com. He can be contacted at ipsnoram@ips.org

Edited by Kitty Stapp

Licensed from Inter Press Service

—–

Related video added by Juan Cole:

AFP: “Iran nuclear deal deadline extended”

Go to Source

Categories: Arab Blogs Tags:

The Ferguson, Mo. Shooting in American History: What to Tell the Children

November 25th, 2014 No comments

By Julian Hipkins III (Zinn Education Project)

In light of the grand jury decision, we share this collection of teaching ideas and resources, originally published by Teaching for Change in August of 2014.

By Julian Hipkins III

As the new school year begins, first and foremost on our minds and in our hearts will be the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Teachers may be faced with students’ anger, frustration, sadness, confusion, and questions. Some students will wonder how this could happen in the United States. For others, unfortunately, police brutality and intimidation are all too familiar.

140816-ferguson-march-2142_3de16bd8b419bdb6b62b23b7af5f73fc.nbcnews-fp-1280-600

Here are a few ideas and resources for the classroom to help students think critically about the events in Ferguson and ways they can be proactive in their own communities. We welcome your additional suggestions.

BPPTenPoints

Police Brutality. The Black Panther Party’s 1966 platform, known as the ten-point program, included the demand: “#7. We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of Black people, other people of color, and all oppressed people inside the United States.” The issue of police brutality in communities of color has a long history and the Panther platform gives an example of how to turn grievances into a clear set of goals for meaningful change. The lesson “‘What We Want, What We Believe’: Teaching with the Black Panthers’ Ten Point Program” by Rethinking Schools editor Wayne Au introduces students to this history and invites them to create their own list of demands.

Credit: Reuters.

Credit: Reuters.

History of Racism. An exploration of U. S. history can help students understand how racism, while not natural, has always played a key role in this country (predating 1776) and how it became embedded in all of our institutions, including the criminal justice system. “The Color Line” is a lesson by Rethinking Schools editor Bill Bigelow (available from the Zinn Education Project) on the origins of racism in the United States and who benefits. Students hopefully will see that if racism is learned and reinforced by laws, it can also be unlearned and dismantled.

International Human Rights. Upon his return from Mecca in 1964, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) stated that he wanted to bring charges against the United States for its treatment of African-Americans. He believed that it was “impossible for the United States government to solve the race problem” and the only way to get the United States to change its racist ways was to bring international pressure. He made the clear distinction between civil rights and human rights.

In an earlier example, on October 23, 1947, the NAACP sent to the U.N. a document titled “An Appeal to the World,” in which the NAACP asked the U.N. to redress human rights violations the United States committed against its African-American citizens. W.E.B. Du Bois, who drafted the NAACP petition with other leading lawyers and scholars, intended to focus attention on the U.S.’s systematic denial of human rights to its African American citizens. They presented in the petition facts about lynching, segregation, and the gross inequalities in education, housing, health care, and voting rights. DuBois stated, “It is not Russia that threatens the United States so much as Mississippi…[I]nternal injustice done to one’s brothers is far more dangerous than the aggression of strangers from abroad.” [Read more about this petition at the University of Chicago Library News.]

Indeed, the U.S. government is quick to condemn human rights violations in other countries, but seldom expects to be accountable to the world for actions within its own borders. A lesson by the Stanford University Liberation Curriculum Project engages students in a discussion about the human rights violations perpetrated against African Americans during the 1950s and 1960s — and can serve as a springboard for looking at human rights today.

On November 11, 2014, Michael Brown’s parents testified at a United Nations Committee Against Torture session in Geneva, Switzerland about the killing of their son. Brown’s father stated, “I would like to see the United States make a commitment to address racial discrimination in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.”

Another lesson that highlights this American exceptionalism is “Whose Terrorism?” by Bill Bigelow of Rethinking Schools. (Posted on the Zinn Education Project website).

New Jim CrowMilitarization of the Police. In The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander describes the militarization of the police, foreshadowing the heavy weaponry used by police in Ferguson. In the section titled “Waging War” in Chapter 2, Alexander states,

The transformation from “community policing” to “military policing,” began in 1981, when President Reagan persuaded Congress to pass the Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement Act, which encouraged the military to give local, state, and federal police access to military bases, intelligence, research, weaponry, and other equipment for drug interdiction.

That legislation carved a huge exception to the Posse Comitatus Act, the Civil War-era law prohibiting the use of military force for policing.

Students and teachers can read this chapter to explore how many police departments “seek and destroy” in some neighborhoods while they “protect and serve” in others.

Illustration: Alain Pilon. (c) Rethinking Schools.

Illustration: Alain Pilon. (c) Rethinking Schools.

Student Fear and Resilience. One of the toughest challenges for teachers and counselors is to create a safe space for students in an unsafe world. New York teaching-artist Renee Watson used poetry to help her students deal with the very real fear for their own safety. In The Murder of Sean Bell: From Pain to Poetry (Rethinking Schools) she describes this process,

“I’m afraid that one day I’ll be shot by the cops for no reason,” a 7th-grade student blurted out in our class discussion. My teaching partner and I had asked students to call out their hopes and fears. “What do you hope for your community? What is it about your community that makes you afraid?” we asked. I wrote their answers on chart paper and by the end of the discussion, our class list included better schools, more parks, peace, and safer neighborhoods. Our list also included violence, drugs, bullying, and police brutality.

Housing inequality. African-Americans have often been the victims of housing discrimination in Ferguson and countless other towns and cities across the country. The discrimination has occurred through laws and sometimes violence.

Race-Riot-Bldgs-on-fire-2006.75-sm

Tulsa, Oklahoma.

This violence has a long history. For example in 1921, a mob of deputized whites looted and burned to the ground a black neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This included the destruction of 40 square blocks of 1,265 African American homes, including hospitals, schools, and churches, and 150 businesses. By the time the terror ended, 300 African-Americans had been killed. Here is an article and lesson for high school classrooms called “Burning Tulsa: The Legacy of Black Dispossession.”

In “The Making of Ferguson,” Sherrilyn Ifill and Richard Rothstein show that government actions—such as racially explicit zoning, public housing segregation, and federal requirements for white-only suburbs systematically segregated African Americans—and set the stage for the conditions in Ferguson.

In The Case for Reparations, Ta-Nehisi Coates addresses laws such as restrictive covenants in the section titled Making the Second Ghetto. The tactics used to bar African-American from communities are outlined highlighting housing discrimination in Chicago during and following World War II.

For ongoing news and on the ground interviews about Ferguson, follow Democracy Now!, AlJazeera, and Colorlines. For more teaching ideas, see What Happened in Ferguson and Why? from the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility. For more resources and to contribute your own, follow #FergusonSyllabus on twitter, launched by Dr. Marcia Chatelain of Georgetown University.

Mirrored from “Teaching about Ferguson” (Zinn Education Project)

——

Related video added by Juan Cole:

HLN: “Ferguson: Seeking progress after grand jury decision”

Go to Source

Categories: Arab Blogs Tags:

Sen. Lindsey Graham furious GOP House Benghazi Report Shows He Wasted All our Time & Money

November 25th, 2014 No comments

The Young Turks | —

“”Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday blasted a House GOP-led investigation that recently debunked myths about the 2012 Benghazi attack.

“I think the report is full of crap,” Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The House Intelligence Committee released a report on Friday evening, which took two years to compile, that found there was no outright intelligence failure during the attack, there was no delay in the rescue of U.S. personnel and there was no political cover-up by Obama administration officials.

After Graham was asked whether the report exonerates the administration, he initially ignored the question, and then eventually said “no.”
The House Intelligence panel, Graham said, is “doing a lousy job policing their own.” “* The Young Turks hosts John Iadarola (TYT University), Ben Mankiewicz and Steve Oh break it down.”

The Young Turks: “Conspiracy-Debunking Benghazi Report Whips Lindsey Graham Into A Tizzy”

Go to Source

Categories: Arab Blogs Tags:

Tunisia’s Presidential Election: Essebsi, Marzouki into Runoff

November 24th, 2014 No comments

Early indications suggest that thr results of yesterday’s Tunisian Presidential election will see Beji Caid Essebsi of Nidaa Tounes and Moncef Marzouki will face each other in a runoff next month.

There were 27 candidates on the ballot (though five of these had withdrawn after the ballots were printed). Essebsi’s Nidaa Tounes Party won the largest number of seats in last month’s Parliamentary elections; Marzouki is the outgoing incumbent President of the transitional period.

Ennahda, the Islamist Party that won the first round of elections after the revolution and ran second last month, did not field a Presidential candidate. Marzouki is likely to try to win Ennahda votes in the runoff; he is likely to pursue the argument he used in his campaign, that one party should not dominate both the Prime Ministry and Parliament. He has also sought to portray the 87-year-old Essebsi as a symbol of the return of the ancien regime.

Leftist candidate Hamma Hammami ran third.

I should mention that the best campaign slogan, however, certainly  belonged to the only woman candidate in the campaign, judge Kalthoum Kannou:

Yes, She Went There


Go to Source

Categories: Arab News Tags: