Posts tagged ‘ISIS’

January 4, 2017

How We Were Misled About Syria: the role of Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF)

by mkleit

Original is from Tim Hayward wordpress

Source

msf-blames

 

I have unbounded admiration for the doctors who volunteer for the invaluable and often dangerous work of Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF). The question concerns MSF’s policy of ‘bearing witness’. MSF will speak out – even against governments – when it thinks a humanitarian situation could and should be dealt with differently by those it holds responsible.[1] It has done so in Syria.

But if none of MSF’s international doctors have been on the ground in Syria’s war zones since 2015,[2] how can MSF claim to bear witness for what is happening there?

MSF has relayed reports from the rebel-held areas to which, exclusively, its supplies and support have been dispatched. The reports – including allegations of government attacks on hospitals and civilians – come from people working with the permission and protection of such groups as Al Nusra, Isis and other foreign jihadis and mercenaries. These anti-government forces are known to exercise a rule of terror and to be not overly concerned about ordinary citizens’ access to medical attention. That is precisely why the MSF doctors withdrew from the areas under their control.[3] So there is scope to ask who the medics on the ground were, and who they were treating.

 

My question, though, simply concerns the reliability of uncorroborated witness statements coming from potentially compromised sources. For while press statements have been issued from various MSF offices around the world, it appears MSF had no independent access to verifiable information from Syria.

In fact, the public unavailability of detailed or verified information is a matter of record: even John Kirby of the US State Department could only assert that ‘relief agencies that we find credible are levelling these accusations’.[4]

The most prominent relief agency, and visible in all video footage linked to the alleged bombings, is the White Helmets.

It is a matter of record that the White Helmets are funded by the NATO and Gulf states whose avowed aim is regime change in Syria; or-38096it is generally believed that they work closely with terrorist organisations (how else could the Netflix documentary have shown them roaming so freely in a zone where MSF and Western journalists dared not set foot?[5]). Their independence and integrity are widely questioned.[6]

So while MSF has often been cited as an independent source of support for White Helmet testimony, its press statements have in fact merely repeated White Helmet claims![7]

Whether intending it or not, MSF thereby became complicit in purveying a particular narrative that suffused the Western media during the period from 22 September to 22 December 2016.[8] Before September, the media had been perfectly clear that the citizens of eastern Aleppo were being held captive, effectively as human shields, by forces dominated by jihadist terrorists.[9] That changed following the uncompromising statement by Samantha Power to the UN Security Council, in which she invoked the White Helmets as victims and witnesses of Russian and Syrian aggression.[10]

Western governments and media re-designated the terrorist groups as ‘moderate rebels’.[11] Concurrently, anti-government activists like Lina Shamy started tweeting in English, the celebrated twitter account in the name of the child Bana was created, and there followed a flow of ‘famous last webcams’ from purported ordinary civilians voicing fears of impending massacre by the Syrian government.

Those of us in the West who were uncertain about the authenticity of all this social media activity in a zone lacking basic infrastructure, let alone wifi,[12] were coaxed to accept the mainstream narrative because a respected organisation like MSF apparently bore witness to it.[13] Few of us realised that MSF was merely repeating White Helmet testimony, not independently verifying it.

The consistent testimony now coming from the people who have been liberated in eastern Aleppo suggests a quite different story from the one that Netflix and our media have promoted.[14] The Helmets themselves appear to have melted away with the departure from Aleppo of the jihadists and mercenaries. If there were any genuinely independent doctors working with them in Aleppo, they too have yet to be heard from. But most telling, in view of White Helmet claims to have saved some 70,000 lives (or whatever exact number we are invited to believe), is that not a single person interviewed in liberated Aleppo has thanked them.

 

So, in seeking to bear witness against the Syrian government, MSF has made claims on a basis that is uncertain and contested.[15]  By so publicly associating itself with the White Helmets and their narrative it may have risked compromising the reputation it relies on to attract international doctors.

Those of us who deeply appreciate the service to humankind of MSF’s international doctors are left to hope the organisation coordinating their work can be more sure to avoid bearing false witness.[16]

The problem with the false narrative is no trivial one, for it perpetuates a fundamental misrecognition of the causes of the war – and thus of all the casualities the doctors have to deal with.  A false narrative not only gives impunity to the guilty but it supports them in moving ever onwards with their murderous designs. It distracts from the ethical truth, too, that the jihadis and the states supplying them with arms and opportunity are in fundamental breach of the law and morality of just warfare.

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oberg-6

 

 

[1] The background for this founding principle – of témoignage (‘bearing witness’) – is cited on their website: ‘Hundreds of thousands of people died in the Biafran war because of a deliberate government policy. On their return from the region, a group of young French doctors were frustrated and outraged by the inability of the Red Cross to say publicly what had happened.’ https://www.msf.org.uk/advocacy-and-temoignage

[2] MSF Voice from the Field in Syria: Dr. Nathalie Roberts https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61cmnPLk6uE

[3] Dr Nathalie Roberts has described how in the earlier days of the war in Syria, MSF had followed its usual working procedures in opposition-held areas but with the arrival of Islamic State group that became impossible: “they were not allowing all the patients to access the hospital”, they then started appropriating MSF supplies and even kidnapping MSF staff. They could not continue to work in a place where the occupying groups would not allow the doctors to do their medical job. (Dr Roberts interviewed on 13 March 2015) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oQVUssxK-U

[4] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/us-spokesperson-loses-temper-with-rt-journalist-over-syria-bombing-questions-a7423146.html

[5] I personally first became curious about the White Helmets from viewing the Netflix documentary (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wj4ncIEDxw), and the question I mention in the text here is the one I simply could not get past. I was therefore not surprised to find that others had already offered powerful critiques of the organisation.

I also had trouble imagining how people working in such desperate conditions would have the leisure to keep up with the latest Western craze of the Mannequin Challenge, and also the insensitivity to do a facsimile rescue for the purpose. The video of this PR own goal was quickly removed by the White Helmets’ promoters but remains available elsewhere at time of writing, e.g.:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zgl271A6LgQ

A discussion of it is here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8bIupYSZeU

[6] The critical sources now on the internet are far too numerous to mention, but indicative examples include:
https://www.rt.com/op-edge/361957-syria-white-helmets-un/
http://21stcenturywire.com/2016/12/10/exclusive-president-raed-salehs-terrorist-connections-within-white-helmet-leadership/
https://janoberg.exposure.co/humans-in-liberated-aleppo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmFFvu5H4f4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_bObdZhqyE
http://21stcenturywire.com/2016/09/23/exclusive-the-real-syria-civil-defence-expose-natos-white-helmets-as-terrorist-linked-imposters/

[7] The spokespersons bearing MSF witness to the public are quite numerous and remote from Syria. They seldom make explicit the source of their information, but when they do we find it is the White Helmets.

Sam Taylor, for instance, who is Syria communications coordinator for MSF and is based in Jordan, uncritically reproduced White Helmets material: ‘The civil defense, also known as the White Helmets, said the hospital and adjacent buildings were struck in four consecutive airstrikes.’ ‘Video posted by the White Helmets showed lifeless bodies, including children, being pulled from a building and loaded into ambulances amid screams and wailing. Distraught rescue workers tried to keep away onlookers, apparently fearing more bombs.’ http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/airstikes-aleppo-hospital-1.3556632

Taylor does mention another authority: ‘Shortly after midday Thursday, new airstrikes in rebel-held areas killed at least 20 people in two neighbourhoods, the Syrian Civil Defense and the Observatory said.’ By ‘Observatory’, he presumably means the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Although this sounds like an independent organisation, it is in fact a single individual named Rami Abdulrahman (sometimes referred to as Rami Abdul Rahman) living in Coventry in the UK; and he is presumably as independent as one can expect from an opposition exile whose small network of informants in Syria consists largely of anti-government activists.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/10/world/middleeast/the-man-behind-the-casualty-figures-in-syria.html

Certainly, he is no more directly a witness than is MSF’s spokesperson. Needless to say, the Observatory’s credibility and independence is disputed: http://russia-insider.com/en/media-criticism/man-behind-vaunted-syrian-observatory-human-rights-shown-all-his-full-absurdity; http://landdestroyer.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/syrian-ngos-working-directly-with.html; http://journal-neo.org/2015/12/12/the-syrian-observatory-for-human-rights-is-a-tool-of-western-propaganda/

Despite this lack of verified independent evidence, Taylor was prepared to state on behalf of MSF that a hospital attack ‘was deliberate’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebrpj689Ib8. While the basis for the accusation is not given, the cumulative effect of this sort of public statement is evident.

Pablo Marco Blanco, MSF’s Operations Manager for the Middle East in Barcelona, effectively endorsed the accusation, while admitting that the basis of the information was unconfirmed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XI5KMAvfYDU.

Similar communications came from Muskilda Zancada, ‘MSF head of mission in Syria’ in Barcelona. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4s9uEp6Ujs). Zancada also stated that ‘civilians are targeted’ http://www.msf.org/en/article/syria-update-airstrike-al-quds-hospital. Paul McPhun, Executive Director MSF Australia, speaking from Australia (10 October 2016) likewise makes categorial statements about targeted bombings in Aleppo, but without indicating the source of his knowledge.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHyPtcG5a6M

It is even possible that the accusations are true. Yet it is also possible that they are not. The fallibility of MSF sources has been illustrated by how Teresa Sancristoval, Head of MSF’s Emergency Unit for Aleppo, was clearly being fed her information in Barcelona from people with an oppositional stance towards the Syrian Government because they were ‘afraid of the retaliations they can suffer’ http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/article/east-aleppo-ceasefire-fails-shelling-resumes-and-hope-fades (see note 7).

While I have no doubt that all MSF statements are made from a standpoint of agonised human sympathy, and in good faith, they take on a life of their own when picked up by the media and disseminated for further purposes.

In the end it is clear that what matters from the humanitarian point of view is that the bombing should stop. When MSF call for all sides to stop, they can claim to speak for humankind. When they complain of ‘targeted and indiscriminate bombing by the Syrian and Russian armed forces’ (http://www.msf.org/en/article/syria-crisis-update-28-november-2016) they create unnecessary controversy: if bombing both targeted and indiscriminate is to stop on the government side, that is as much as to say – from the government’s perspective – that it should simply allow the ISIS and Al Nusra terrorists free rein over the people and sovereign territory that it has a duty to defend. MSF do not want to say exactly this, I assume, but my point is that the organisation seems not to have a firm enough grip on its communications policy or a sufficiently coherent approach to defining its extra-medical mission.

[8] MSF statements from Syria condemning the Syrian and Russian governments have been demonstrably lacking in certainty or detail. For instance, in relaying reports of attacks on hospitals around Aleppo in May they note that ‘one was the MSF-supported al Sakhour hospital in Aleppo city, which was forced to suspend activities after being bombed at least twice on consecutive days.’ (https://www.msf.org.uk/country/syria) An inexact statement like this – being equivocal as to whether the number of bombings was two, three, or some other number – may or may not be true; it cannot claim to have been properly verified, since a verification would make clear whether or not a third or further bombings had occurred.

MSF uncritically accepted the veracity of the ‘famous last webcams’ coming out of besieged eastern Aleppo. As late as 14 December 2014 MSF wrote on their own website: ‘Whatever hope remained is rapidly dissipating. People are terrified, almost certain that their own deaths are near. Messages in which they say goodbye to their love ones are proliferating.’ http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/article/east-aleppo-ceasefire-fails-shelling-resumes-and-hope-fades ]

MSF do not appear to have known as much as one might hope or expect about the doctors they supported in terrorist-held Aleppo and whose words they relay to the public. The doctors communicating from terrorist-held Aleppo whose testimony the MSF publicly cited just prior to the liberation of Aleppo were apparently not looking forward to the end of the siege, and MSF even believed that their forebodings were shared by the ordinary people of Aleppo: ‘Like the rest of the population, “doctors are terrified and losing hope,” says Teresa Sancristoval, Head of MSF’s Emergency Unit for Aleppo. “They are afraid of the retaliations they can suffer. For the last two days, our exchanges have been more about goodbye messages and requests for evacuation than anything else. They feel abandoned to their fate and with no way out.”’ http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/article/east-aleppo-ceasefire-fails-shelling-resumes-and-hope-fades

[9] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/02/us-syria-policy-tatters-moderate-rebels-disband

[10] As Stephen Cohen has pointed out, the sea change came with the breakdown of negotiations between Obama and Putin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPp8eKBjcyA&t=974s

The view was then forcefully asserted against Obama by Samantha Power.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/22/syria-obama-us-president-putin-russia

In her speech to UN Security Council she singled out the White Helmets as victims and witnesses of Russian and Syrian attacks. She declared: ‘This is not the day, this is not the time to blame all sides, to draw false equivalencies. It is not the time to say that “airstrikes took place,” or “civilians were killed.” It is time to say who is carrying out those airstrikes, and who is killing civilians.’ https://usun.state.gov/remarks/7453
[11] Some insights into the unreliability of the mainstream narrative have occasionally been heard from within mainstream media outlets.

For instance:
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-aleppo-iraq-mosul-isis-middle-east-conflict-assad-war-everything-youve-read-could-be-wrong-a7451656.html
http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/12/time-judge-assads-aleppo-campaign-standards-set-mosul/
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/aleppo-falls-to-syrian-regime-bashar-al-assad-rebels-uk-government-more-than-one-story-robert-fisk-a7471576.html
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1B2xFqfEgY (‘Tulsi Gabbard tells the truth about Syria’ on CNN)
Carla Ortiz Speaks about her Experience in Aleppo and The Little Syrian Girl
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAE3WawgOX0&feature=share

Criticisms have of course been extensive in the Russian media. Since promoters of the Western narrative do not regard the Russia Today (RT) channel as a reliable source, I mention just a couple of interviews that they might concede have some credibility – one from a Church of England clergyman and one from a former UK ambassador to Syria:
‘Consistent stories of brutality at the hands of the Syrian rebels’ – Rev. Andrew Ashdown
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8iM_eY2viQ

US effectively siding with Al-Qaeda in desire to get rid of Assad – former UK ambassador to Syria
https://www.rt.com/news/345636-us-siding-al-qaeda-ford/

[12] Common sense scepticism on this point is supported by the first hand testimony of Carla Ortiz about trying to get internet connections in Aleppo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=il7I1FTRSwY.

[13] I have seen MSF cited as a source to discredit the account of Syria given to the UN by Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uap0GwBYdBA
In fact, I was first prompted to do the research that led to writing this blog because a respected and well-informed friend on Facebook invoked MSF as a refutation of Bartlett’s claims. I believe it has since become clear that events have entirely vindicated Bartlett.

[14] Some examples of interviews with newly liberated citizens in Aleppo:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjPpREHEF1Y
https://www.facebook.com/vanessa.beeley/posts/10155907018683868
https://www.sott.net/article/337545-East-Aleppo-Diaries-Testimony-from-Hanano-Shatters-Corporate-Fake-News
https://janoberg.exposure.co/humans-in-liberated-aleppo
https://www.sott.net/article/338019-Bolivian-actress-Carla-Ortiz-exposes-what-went-wrong-with-Western-media-coverage-of-Syrian-conflict

[15] Stronger criticism of MSF than I am making is found in Miri Wood’s ‘Guide to Understanding How ‘Unhospitals’ Cannot Be Bombed’ http://www.syrianews.cc/guide-understanding-unhospitals-cannot-bombed/ ; MSF’s relationship with the Syrian Government is known to be an uneasy one: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/12161437/Medecins-Sans-Frontieres-run-by-French-intelligence-says-Assad-regime.html

[16] MSF takes a certain pride in fostering debate and allowing some plurality of political views to be aired within the organisation: it does not attempt, as ICRC does, to hold a single public line. (Rony Brauman, ‘Médecins Sans Frontières and the ICRC: matters of principle’, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 888, 31 December 2012: https://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/article/review-2012/irrc-888-brauman.htm)

Yet the public hears MSF-branded messages and thinks they represent the honest and considered position of a respected organisation. They are encouraged to do so by the fact that press releases and comments are issued by the organisation and not as independent opinions of particular members.

While it is not my place to tell MSF how to conduct its affairs, I would say that their internal plurality of opinion is not necessarily a virtue: if they cannot agree on certain matters of principle about bearing witness, then the wise option might be simply to refrain, as ICRC do. At any rate, some of their internal philosophical debate strikes this reader as unhelpfully verbose and analytically unclear. More specifically relating to Syria, it is reasonable to believe that the geopolitics of the region and the machinations of its various protagonists are as complex and challenging, in their way, as are the medical emergencies in a war zone. Even the most judicious political analyst would not be much use in dealing with the latter. The people in MSF offices might reflect on whether the converse does not also apply.

We are not in a position to know if Syria or Russia should answer any charges in respect of the conduct of war.  We do know that their enemies must, and, more crucially, that they face the more fundamental charge of having attacked Syria and its people without just cause.

I find a rather bitter irony in the MSF position that they distinguish themselves from the ICRC in not being willing to patch up victims simply in order to make possible further harm to them; for that could be said to be what they are doing by wishing that a sovereign people should not use full lethal force against merciless invaders on its soil.

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November 6, 2016

Islam without Extremists

by mkleit

Once in a while the news are filled about a group of extremist Muslims who slaughter people and commit the most unthinkable crimes under the name of Islam. ISIS is a recent example.

 

leader-islam_53c1843c20577f17

 

If you ask such people that why they are committing such obvious wrong deeds and still consider it the command of the God, they would answer that they are trusting a Muslim scholar and that they receive the commands of the God through him. Based on this trust they consider the scholar’s commands equivalent to the God’s commands and blindly follow the scholar’s instructions to make the God happy.

But does not this method sound too similar to shirk, the exact opposite of Islam’s primary message, which is not following anybody except the God? How did this happen? How did that origin with the most clear message came to this obvious contradictory point?

 

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In the “Belief vs. Trust” article, we show that similarly to all modern religions, in the current understanding of Islam also believing in God is interpreted as trusting a religious package preached by the local religious scholars.

After analyzing the roots of such interpretation in all religions, the article shows that key element that legitimizes the incorporation of trusting scholars into islamic practice is considering Hadith as a pillar of Islam.

The current Islam which is mixed with Hadith has become so complicated that leaves an ordinary Muslim with no solution but seeking the advice of some Hadith experts (or scholars) about “what Islam says”. This blind obedience creates potential for extremism: if the religious scholar is extremist, the blind followers also apply the extremism in the name of religion.

 

isis-you-suck-billboard-620x412

 

Then in the “Islam without Hadith” article, we list the pros and cons of existence of Hadith in the current Islamic practice, and show that by eliminating Hadith not only we do not lose any of the core Islamic values but also we are given the chance to rediscover the Simple Islam, the religion which guides us to nothing but reasonable, beautiful deeds. In Simple Islam, which is free from the complexities of Hadith, there is no space for religious scholars to instruct their blind followers to such unbelievable crimes.

In the “Scope” article, we then revisit some of the controversial topics in Quran, such as slavery and women rights, and observe a Quran very different from what the scholars have been preaching for years.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
Q1: Those are bad scholars. But I am obeying good scholars!
A: Quran warns about blind obedience. Read Section D of Trust article.
Q2: Some extremists claim obeying no scholar and just following Quran!
A: They adopted a particular perverted interpretation of Quran stemmed from Hadith and backed by past scholars. They are essentially obeying those scholar’s viewpoint.
Q3: I read Quran myself. It says “kill the infidels”!
A: Taken out of context! Such verses are about a particular war with the criminals of Mecca. There were refereed to as “Kafir”, which means ungrateful, as they were ungrateful for the gift of the messenger. Quran uses the word “Kafir” sometimes even for Muslims. Mainstream translations offered by scholars however translate “Kafir” as “infidel” causing this confusion.
Q4: Extremists are using perverted Hadiths. There is a huge science of telling which Hadith is reliable. I am obeying good scholars who know this science well!
A: Extremists say the same about you. The bottom line is that both of you blindly obey, and both of you think that your scholar is the right one. Read trust article about blind obedience.
Q5: Why should I trust your article? are you a scholar?
A: Do not trust people. Read their arguments and decide by yourself
Q6: Without Hadith how could we know the details of rituals?
A: Section 4 of the article Islam without Hadith
Q7: Does not Quran itself tell us to follow Hadith?
A: No. Read here.
Q8: Ignoring Hadith is ignoring Muhammad (s.a.a.w.)?
A: No. Read Hadith-less Muhammad.
Q9: Can we understand Quran without Hadith?
A: Yes. Read Quran is understandable without Hadith
Q10: Did not Quran force conversion?
A: No. Islam in Quran means meeting the God with a heart filled with peace. What Muslims did along the history has nothing to do with what Quran describes.

March 28, 2016

The Syrian Army, Hezbollah, Iranians, and Russia drove ISIS out of Palmyra

by mkleit

by Robert Fisk

The Independent

9054153.mp4_snapshot_00.46_[2016.03.28_16.51.49]

aerial view of the city of Palmyra

The biggest military defeat that Isis has suffered in more than two years. The recapture of Palmyra, the Roman city of the Empress Zenobia. And we are silent. Yes, folks, the bad guys won, didn’t they? Otherwise, we would all be celebrating, wouldn’t we?

Less than a week after the lost souls of the ‘Islamic Caliphate’ destroyed the lives of more than 30 innocent human beings in Brussels, we should – should we not? – have been clapping our hands at the most crushing military reverse in the history of Isis. But no. As the black masters of execution fled Palmyra this weekend, Messers Obama and Cameron were as silent as the grave to which Isis have dispatched so many of their victims. He who lowered our national flag in honour of the head-chopping king of Arabia (I’m talking about Dave, of course) said not a word.

 

palmyra.mp4_snapshot_04.34_[2016.03.28_16.54.40]

 

As my long-dead colleague on the Sunday Express, John Gordon, used to say, makes you sit up a bit, doesn’t it? Here are the Syrian army, backed, of course, by Vladimir Putin’s Russkies, chucking the clowns of Isis out of town, and we daren’t utter a single word to say well done.

When Palmyra fell last year, we predicted the fall of Bashar al-Assad. We ignored, were silent on, the Syrian army’s big question: why, if the Americans hated Isis so much, didn’t they bomb the suicide convoys that broke through the Syrian army’s front lines? Why didn’t they attack Isis?

 

9054153.mp4_snapshot_02.14_[2016.03.28_16.52.11]

aerial view of the ancient city of Palmyra

“If the Americans wanted to destroy Isis, why didn’t they bomb them when they saw them?” a Syrian army general asked me, after his soldiers’ defeat  His son had been killed defending Homs. His men had been captured and head-chopped in the Roman ruins. The Syrian official in charge of the Roman ruins (of which we cared so much, remember?) was himself beheaded. Isis even put his spectacles back on top of his decapitated head, for fun. And we were silent then.

 

Putin noticed this, and talked about it, and accurately predicted the retaking of Palmyra. His aircraft attacked Isis – as US planes did not – in advance of the Syrian army’s conquest. I could not help but smile when I read that the US command claimed two air strikes against Isis around Palmyra in the days leading up to its recapture by the regime. That really did tell you all you needed to know about the American “war on terror”. They wanted to destroy Isis, but not that much.

9054153.mp4_snapshot_02.00_[2016.03.28_16.51.57]

aerial view of the ancient city of Palmyra

So in the end, it was the Syrian army and its Hizballah chums from Lebanon and the Iranians and the Russians who drove the Isis murderers out of Palmyra, and who may – heavens preserve us from such a success – even storm the Isis Syrian ‘capital’ of Raqqa. I have written many times that the Syrian army will decide the future of Syria. If they grab back Raqqa – and Deir el-Zour, where the Nusrah front destroyed the church of the Armenian genocide and threw the bones of the long-dead 1915 Christian victims into the streets – I promise you we will be silent again.

 

palmyra.mp4_snapshot_06.42_[2016.03.28_16.54.19]

Syrian soldier holding ISIS flag in the city of Palmyra

Aren’t we supposed to be destroying Isis? Forget it. That’s Putin’s job. And Assad’s. Pray for peace, folks. That’s what it’s about, isn’t it? And Geneva. Where is that, exactly?

March 25, 2016

Stop Wahhabist School to Fight Terrorism

by mkleit
ap_60095752573_custom-a31414021cfeb3c4f67550e5f9c759cbe8cd7fb2-s900-c85

Young man sitting in front of Brussels’ stock exchange building

 

Terrorist attacks in Europe has caused a two-way incitement between Europeans and Muslims, which is a result that terrorist group ISIL is trying to reach as they’ve said after the Charlie Hebdo attacks on the 7th of January 2015: “compel the Crusaders (Europeans) to actively destroy the garrison themselves… Muslims in the West will quickly find themselves between one of two choices, they either apostatize… or they emigrate to the Islamic State and thereby escape persecution from the Crusader governments and citizens”.

The latest attacks on the Belgian capitol Brussels left 35 dead and 270 injured when suicide bombers hit Zaventem airport and Maalbeek metro station on Tuesday morning. Recent reports from Belgian media showed that people involved in the terrorist attacks are Muslims and of Arab background.

Mostly, Europeans would blame the millions of Muslims in Europe (and a lot of them have done so) for being the cause of religious incitement, and by far that’s sort of right, since there’s a minority of Muslims whose taking a big part of inciting against the “Crusaders”.

194f8ecf2e3e74125b119bb7eb4a05fb715f643a

Wahhabism from Saudi Arabia hitting several nations

The Arab – Muslims whom are able to go to Europe and live there (aside of refugees and asylum seekers) can afford the living, where the biggest percentage comes from the GCC countries (Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Emirates). And the ideology that all of these countries share (except Oman and partially Kuwait) is Wahhabism or Salafism. This sect is considered to be the most fanatic, extremist, and inciting amongt all Muslim sects – consider them as the KKK or the Nazis of Islam. This ideology is also the root of many terrorist groups, such as Al-Qaeda (Iraq, Syria, Morocco, Egypt, Afghanistan..) ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and Levant/ Syria and Iraq), Boko Haram (Nigeria), al Nusra Front (Jabhat al Nusra/ Syria), Ahrar al Sham (Syria), Jaysh al Islam (Syria), al Shabab(Somalia), Taliban (Afghanistan, Pakistan) etc…

One might think that abolishing ISIL, the most prominent terrorist group would save the world from terrorism, but no! Such an action wouldn’t do anything, because religious fanaticism is not bound by a group, it’s an idea, and ideas don’t die by bombs and bullets; ideas should be fought by ideas.

In their book, Global Terrorism and New Media, Philip Seib and Dana M. Janbek argue that terrorist groups are teaching younger generations (between 10 and 12 years old) their ideology through boot camps and schools that are in their area of control. This strategy elongates the group’s survival for a longer time. They would teach students how to be hate-filled fighters, as well as how much other sects and religious groups are “sinners and blasphemers”, most evidently the crusaders (Euro-Christians) and the Rawafids (Shiites Muslims, the second biggest sect in Islam). And among this, they would teach them that it’s okay to call them blasphemers and punish them for being from a different sect, where punishment varies from flogging to beheading and public execution.

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These schools of thought are not solely found in areas of terrorist groups, but also in countries like Saudi Arabia. And they’re also expanding to European countries – under Saudi funding – such as France, Belgium, Germany, and Britain; since the mentioned countries have close relations with the Gulf state, as well as big Muslim communities.

When Europeans blame Muslims for this problem, they are partially correct, but they’re mistaken when they blame the refugees for causing the damage. Although some of the latter have took part in the battles in Syria, as many pictures show ex-fighters from extremist factions seeking refuge with the influx to Europe. But the problem is inside Europe itself, where it comes from these school and extremists Salafi-Wahhabi communities that are spreading fanaticism. Thus, they serve as a “shelter” and “sanctuary” for extremists coming from the MENA region and Asia, whether these countries are suffering from turmoil like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Nigeria, or countries that serve as a holder for this thought like Saudi Arabia.

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The only way to protect the EU, is to do what Tunisia has been recently doing by their campaign “tomorrow is better”, where they are re-educating inmates imprisoned for terrorist act by extracting the extremist thought from their heads and planting patriotic and moderate-religious ideology. As for the schools, the government is keeping an eagle’s eye on academic curricula, so that they would not contain topics of incitement and fanaticism.

If such procedures are made, alongside other educational and security ones, not only in  Europe but also in the countries that are being vastly effected by extremist thoughts like Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq and others, we would gradually defeat extremist thoughts and potential terrorism, because it’s not fair nor right to blame millions of people for the acts of a few.

February 22, 2016

حلب: ما قبل وبعد

by mkleit

لا أقمنا في مكان وإن طاب ولا يمكن المكان الرحيل
كلما رحبت بنا الروض قلنا حلب قصدنا وأنت السبيل
فيك مرعى جيادنا والمطايا وإليها وجيفنا والذميل – أبو الطيب المتنبي

حلب للوارد جنة عدن وهي للغادرين نار سعير والعظيم العظيم يكبر في عينه منها قدر الصغير الصغير – أبو العلاء المعري

نفيت عنك العلة و الظرف و الأدبا”
و إن خلقت لها إن لم تزر حلبا
لو ألف المجد سفرا عن مفاخره
لراح يكتب في عنوانه حلبا” – الأخطل الصغير

 

Source: Reuters, Getty Images

February 19, 2016

Refugees behind the fence

by mkleit

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Photos Reuters for refugees waiting to cross fences on European borders.

February 5, 2016

Refugees facing the cold weather of Greece

by mkleit

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Refugees continue to reach Europe through it’s Greek gate, where a million and a half have reached last year, while the operation become harder due to the cold weather.

All photos above are credited to Alexandros Avramidis, Reuters

January 26, 2016

The Icey Journey to Seek Refuge

by mkleit

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Refugees from Syria and other war-torn countries have a journey different from that of “the death boats”. The slideshow above shows the journey that refugees take while crossing European borders under harsh weather conditions.

The photos belong to Reuters from the Serbian – Macedonian borders (map below of refugees full route since the wave started).

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Route line that refugees have taken from Turkey to Germany

January 4, 2016

Situation in KSA after the Execution of Sheikh al Nimr

by mkleit

Source: unknown

protester-holds-picture-sheikh-nemer-al-nemer-during-rally-coastal-town-qatif-reuters

The situation is quite tense in KSA and in the region, due to the recent development in the political confrontation between Iran & KSA, due to the execution of the cleric Nimer Baqir Al Nimr, who was executed along with others 47 convicted with terrorism charges.

The Saudi authority announced cuts the diplomatic relationships with Iran and evicts Iranian diplomats from KSA within 48 Hours.

Mutable security implications expected in the short term in various locations, including the KSA eastern province, Bahrain and the Yemeni front.
1.    Armed confrontations between the Saudi police and Shiite militant groups in the eastern province.(with a very likely & possibilities of deterioration in the civil unrest condition in these areas).
2.    Armed confrontations between the Bahraini police and Shiite revolts groups in & around the Shiite villages. (Light firearms and improvised Explosive devises are expected to be used by the militant groups).
3.    Wide confrontations between police forces and protesters will be wetness along the areas& village with high Shiite population.
4.    Intensified confrontation between Saudi forces and Ansar Allah (Al Houthi) rabbles along the Saudi Yemeni borders.
5.    Also IS terrorist organization might get involved to benefit from the security & political tense situation by carrying out sectarian attacks against Shiite community to ignite sectarian conflict in the region.

 

November 11, 2015

Photos from Destroyed Neighborhoods in Syria

by mkleit

The following photos are not mine nor do I claim rights to them.

I have shared them in this post to show the amount of destruction caused by all sides of the Syrian crisis; regime, opposition, extremist groups, all are responsible for the chaos and disasters in Syria.

Syrian kid selling merchandises on a table in Der el Zour

Syrian kid selling merchandises on a table in Der el Zour

Syrian kid plays on tricycle in a besieged neighborhood by FSA in Homs

Syrian kid plays on tricycle in a besieged neighborhood by FSA in Homs

Syrian students playing in the courtyard of their school in rebel-controlled Idlib

Syrian students playing in the courtyard of their school in rebel-controlled Idlib

Girls playing in Homs

Girls playing in Homs

Children taking a walk in destroyed neighborhood of Douma, Damascus

Children taking a walk in destroyed neighborhood of Douma, Damascus

Young man riding by a bomb in Douma, Damascus

Young man riding by a bomb in Douma, Damascus

Kids swimming in a crater caused by bombing in Aleppo

Kids swimming in a crater caused by bombing in Aleppo

Girl holding a bag of licorice (unknown area)

Girl holding a bag of licorice (unknown area)

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