Showing posts with label Law and Society. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Law and Society. Show all posts

September 19, 2016

The Barrel Bomb Conundrum

    Monday, September 19, 2016   No comments
Barrel bombs don't do this, U.S. and British bombs do.
by Craig Murray*

Virtually every mainstream media article or broadcast on the United States aerial massacre of Syrian government troops, manages to work in a reference to barrel bombs as though this in some way justifies or mitigates the US action.

It is a fascinating example of a propaganda meme. Barrel bombs are being used by Syrian government forces, though on a pretty small scale. They are an improvised weapon made by packing conventional explosive into a beer barrel. They are simply an amateur version of a conventional weapon, and they are far less “effective” – meaning devastating – than the professionally made munitions the UK and US are dropping on Syria, or supplying to the Saudis to kill tens of thousands of civilians in Yemen, or to Israel to drop on children in Gaza.

If a bomb were to drop near me, I would much prefer it to be a barrel bomb as it would be less likely to kill me than the UK and US manufactured professional variety. If however my guts were to be eviscerated by flying hunks of white hot metal, I would not particularly care what kind of bomb it was. The blanket media use of “barrel bomb” as though it represents something uniquely inhumane is a fascinating example of propaganda, especially set beside the repeated ludicrous claims that British bombs do not kill civilians.

It is of course only part of the media distortion around the Syria debacle. Western intervention is aimed at supporting various Saudi backed jihadist militias to take over the country, irrespective of the fact that they commit appalling atrocities. These the media label “democratic forces”. At the same time, we are attacking other Saudi controlled jihadists on the grounds that they are controlled by the wrong kind of Saudi. You see, chopping off the heads of dissidents and gays is OK if you are one of the Saudis who directly controls the Saudi oil resources. It is not OK if you do it freelance and are one of the Saudis who is merely acting at the covert behest of the other Saudis who control the Saudi oil resources.

I do hope that is clear.
_________________

* Craig Murray, Vauntie Cybernat, Former Ambassador, Human Rights Activist

January 8, 2016

Journalism and media in Islamic societies in conflict zones

    Friday, January 08, 2016   No comments


al-Sharq al-Awasat coverage
Journalism in Arab countries: With the increased violence and potential for sectarian war in the Middle East, one would think that the media and journalists would pay more attention to details, facts, and the language they use to report about the death and destruction in that part of the world. Instead, journalist and the media in general sided with their benefactors or religious/ethnic community, betraying the profession and their duty to objectively inform the public.

Al-Sharq al-Awsat, which wanted to be the New York Times of the Arab world showed its true identity: the mouth piece of the rulers of Saudi Arabia. Aljazeera, whose funders wanted it to be the BBC of the Arab world, resigned to its limited true function: serving the Qatari ruling family and its political allies—the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey. Alarabiya has become the Fox News of the GCC ruling families. Alahram serves Sisi… and the list goes on. 

Here is an example of the kind of headlines the “professional” journalists at al-Sharq al-Awsat ran recently:

September 2, 2015

U.S. - Saudi Arabia bizarre alliance is becoming a burden on the United States

    Wednesday, September 02, 2015   No comments






Saudi war on Yemen: total destruction
On Friday May 8, President Obama announced that he was to meet with the Saudi King, Salman, ahead of the Camp David summit with the GCC rulers. On May 11, a day before the summit, the King cancelled his appearance altogether, a move widely characterized as a snub to the President. On Friday July 17, the White House said that King Salman requested that President Barack Obama meet with Adel al-Jubeir, the foreign minister, despite the fact that the President does not ordinarily meet with foreign officials who are not heads of state. Nevertheless, the President obliged. On August 28, the White House revealed that King Salman would be meeting with President Obama in Washington next Friday, September 4. The Saudi rulers are nervous, but they are blaming the uncertainty they face at home on other countries. The President should restate what he has already said in public: the threats to the Gulf States rulers are internal and of their own making.

July 30, 2015

Beyond terrorism: Sousse attack, economic development, fair trade, and dignity

    Thursday, July 30, 2015   No comments
by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*


The intent of those who planned and carried out the recent terrorist attack in Tunisia and the reactions to it, both underscore the idiosyncratic connections between economic development and terrorism. Importantly, the attack ought to remind us of the global nature and imperatives, not only of ISIL’s brand of terrorism, but also of economic development. Both problems, terrorism and lack of economic development in the Global South, must be confronted cooperatively, because European countries were indeed involved, directly and indirectly, in creating the kind of conditions that weaken their southern neighbors’ economies, which in turn have created the kind of environment most suitable for terrorism.


Zakaria Hamad
When 30 British citizens vacationing in the city of Sousse, Tunisia, were killed along with three Irish, two Germans, one Belgian, one Portuguese, and one Russian, the Foreign Office ordered all but essential travelers to leave that country immediately. Habib Essid, Tunisia’s Prime Minister, said that his government would help to evacuate approximately 3,000 Britons, but told Tunisia’s parliament that he was “dismayed by the advice from the Foreign Office.” The Tunisian government said the UK “was damaging the country’s economy,” which is heavily reliant on tourism, and may end up inadvertently fueling poverty and therefore terrorism. Oliver Miles, a former UK ambassador to Libya and Greece “found the [UK]’s response puzzling.” Other commentators and international affairs analysts contended that Britain was “wrong to bring tourists home” because it would weaken the only true emerging democracy in that part of the world.

July 14, 2015

Iran P5+1 nuclear deal: Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action -- page 1 (full text)

    Tuesday, July 14, 2015   No comments
Comment:

After 12 years of negotiations, Iran was able to ink an agreement with the world's powerful nations to end harsh regimes of sanctions, some of which go as far back as 35 years ago. The document, now known as the  Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is substantively extensive and qualitatively meticulous. It reveals for the first time the deep sanctions, restrictions, and isolation imposed on Iran since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979. It also reveals the limited nature of the nuclear program Iran has built. Ultimately, this agreement has become more about legitimizing Iran's political order and less about nuclear weapons. Iran, after years of isolation, emerges as a regional power in a region in dire need for stability. This document shows that Iran leveraged a bomb it did not have to relieve itself of sanctions it did not deserve.

--Ahmed E. Souaiaia
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Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action



Vienna, 14 July 2015







PREFACE

The E3/EU+3 (China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) and the Islamic Republic of Iran welcome this historic Joint

November 16, 2014

Iran’s emerging institutional power and its effect on negotiations with the United States

    Sunday, November 16, 2014   No comments



On the eve of the Republicans’ takeover of the U.S. Senate and increased control of the House, the Wall Street Journal revealed, on the authority of anonymous sources, that President Obama had sent “secret letter” to the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran took its time confirming it had received such a letter. The official confirmation ultimately came from the secretary general of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), Ali Shamkhani.

August 10, 2014

I know why I’m obsessed with Jews, but why are you?

    Sunday, August 10, 2014   No comments
by David Palumbo-Liu*

Knowing how public I’ve been in support of the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against the state of Israel, a Jewish colleague came up to me on campus one day to talk. “I know why Im obsessed with Jews,” he said, “But why are you?”  I could hear both puzzlement and pain in his voice. 

It was clear at that moment that there were two kinds of “obsession” at work in his imagination.  For him, a Jew should properly - perhaps obsessively - care about their fellow Jews.  But my friend couldn’t help but wonder why I, as a non-Jew, would also “obsess so much” about his people, especially from a critical perspective. 

My reply was pretty automatic: “I’m not obsessed with Jews,” I said, “I’m concerned about the Palestinians.”

I know and like this person a lot. In essence I don’t think his political position is much different to mine, except in terms of tactics. I think he trusts me too.  But his statement revealed an important and discouraging assumption:  one is naturally drawn to care about one’s own people, and it is unexpected - even odd - that someone from outside one’s group should care as much. 

August 8, 2014

The paradoxical nature of religious and ethnic states and the genocidal impulses

    Friday, August 08, 2014   No comments

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*
 
The Arab Spring that freed some of the peoples of the Middle East from state imposed fear produced an existential challenge for increasingly heterogeneous communities, forcing people to define the nature of the state and the character of the country where they live. It is true that self-rule and self-determination require a sense of self. However, building stable countries in the new Middle East is tied to the peoples’ level of awareness of the genocidal impulse espoused by certain social groups amongst them. 

The old Middle East was built on an artificial foundation imposed by Western colonial and protective powers in the form of superficial liberal thought, imported Marxist ideas, petty ethnic identities, niggling tribal structures, and a variety of downwardly managed and imposed ideas. The regimes and political forces of the pre- and post-colonial periods exerted virtual monopoly on governing institutions in most Arab countries. During the second half of the twentieth century, Islamists, like the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates, began to challenge nationalist, monarchical, and clannish regimes arguing that Islamism provides a more inclusive political ideology for the peoples of the Middle East than alien ideas or narrow Arabism.

February 15, 2014

Breaking the Cycle: Could Iranian and U.S. officials overcome their mutual distrust?

    Saturday, February 15, 2014   No comments


Breaking the Cycle: Could Iranian and U.S. officials overcome their mutual distrust?


Rafsanjani and Khatami
After inking an interim agreement at the end of 2013, Iran and the P5+1 must now finalize a final nuclear agreement within six months. If they fail, U.S. and Iran will relive the cycle of mutual hostility in which the two countries have been entangled for more than three decades. Both parties seem eager to break that vicious cycle this time around. Iran has its own reasons: no actual interest in building nuclear weapons and strong interest in finding new markets and opportunities for its emerging economy. Western powers claim that the devastating effects of the harsh economic sanctions and the election of moderate Iranian president, Hasan Rouhani, are the main reasons for optimism. Let’s examine both reasons in the context of historical facts.

February 1, 2014

Iran Nuclear Deal: What’s at stake?

    Saturday, February 01, 2014   No comments
by Jacob Havel
As Iran and the United States move closer to the end of a six month agreement, uncertainty remains concerning possible structures of a long term deal. The current agreement, under which Iran has ceased much of its enrichment activity and the U.S. has alleviated a small number of economic sanctions, was initially received as a hopeful demonstration of cooperation and good faith. However, with the looming possibility of new sanctions from the U.S. legislature as well as conservative forces in Iran such as Ayatollah Khamenei restating a firm commitment to nuclear freedom, the deal now appears to be little more than a freeze.  Both sides appear to be using the six month time period to assess which chips they will throw into the pot when talks resume.

November 24, 2013

Full Text of Iran-Powers Nuclear Deal

    Sunday, November 24, 2013   No comments
Geneva, 24 November 2013


Preamble

The goal for these negotiations is to reach a mutually-agreed long-term comprehensive solution that would ensure Iran's nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful. Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek or develop any nuclear weapons. This comprehensive solution would build on these initial measures and result in a final step for a period to be agreed upon and the resolution of concerns. This comprehensive solution would enable Iran to fully enjoy its right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under the relevant articles of the NPT in conformity with its obligations therein. This comprehensive solution would involve a mutually defined enrichment programme with practical limits and transparency measures to ensure the peaceful nature of the programme. This comprehensive solution would constitute an integrated whole where nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. This comprehensive solution would involve a reciprocal, step-bystep process, and would produce the comprehensive lifting of all UN Security Council sanctions, as well as multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran's nuclear programme.
 

October 15, 2013

A Moroccan view on Catalan independence: Madrid's continued support for the independence movement in the Western Sahara is hypocritical when compared with their attitude towards independence movements closer to home

    Tuesday, October 15, 2013   No comments
by Hassan Masiky*
Sahara

Behind Spain’s European veil is a country struggling to deal with its painful history. Catalonians’ quest for independence exposes Spaniards’ agony over Franco’s legacy and the destructive historical ramifications of the dictator’s actions in Europe and North Africa. For Moroccans, Madrid’s opposition to Catalans’ rights to self-determination while Spain supports the same rights for the Western Sahara represents an example of Spain’s’ political hypocrisy and dual personality.

October 1, 2013

Syria's Kurds, hopes and fears: The civil war in Syria has put great strains on the country's Kurdish population. The Syrian Kurds' most powerful politician, Saleh Muslim Mohammad, talks to Vicken Cheterian about their position and future

    Tuesday, October 01, 2013   No comments
by Vicken Cheterian*
Saleh Muslim Mohammad is the head of the Partiya Yekitiya Demokrat (Democratic Union Party / PYD) and the most powerful politician among the Syrian Kurds. The party - founded in 2003, and closely linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a longstanding armed campaign in the Kurdish-majority regions of eastern Turkey - itself has a well-disciplined fighting force of several thousands among the Kurds of northern Syria. During a recent visit to Geneva to meet international organisations, I ask him for his assessment of the Kurds' situation in light of Syria's evolving war.

September 27, 2013

Harsh Qatari Labor Conditions Move Center Stage As FIFA Debates World Cup

    Friday, September 27, 2013   No comments
By James M. Dorsey*
Controversy over conditions for unskilled and semi-skilled workers in Qatar involved in the construction of World Cup-related infrastructure as well as for flight attendants of Qatar Airways, the 2022 tournament’s likely official carrier, has moved center stage as world soccer body FIFA prepares to debate next week the Gulf state’s hosting of the 2022 soccer tournament.

September 18, 2013

Doha debate reveals gulf between locals, its elite and expatriates

    Wednesday, September 18, 2013   No comments
by Sarah El-Richani*

Recent commentaries by Qatari citizens and journalists both in the local and social media reveal a polity eager to engage critically and openly on the manner in which its ruling elite are managing the country’s immense oil and gas revenues. Concerns voiced reveal a divide between the largely conservative population and the local elite’s ambitious plans for the emirate of Qatar.

August 28, 2013

Mass slaughter of civilian Kurds in Syria ignites heavy clashes and mass exodus

    Wednesday, August 28, 2013   No comments
by Rozh Ahmad*
 
Kurdish civilians escaping for their lives in Syria
The al-Qaeda linked “Jabhat al-Nusra” (al-Nusra Front) in Syria, has been held responsible for having instigated a sectarian racist war against civilian Kurds in Syria’s northern Kurdish region, the outcomes of which recently led to the massacre of hundreds of Kurdish women and children, “some of whom were raped and beheaded by jihadists”, says Syrian opposition officials, witnesses and victims.
Human rights activists in Syria’s Kurdish region have confirmed that 450 Kurdish civilians, “mostly women and children, were slaughtered indiscriminately inside their homes at the hands of jihadists of the al-Nusra Front in Tal Abyad, Tal Hassil and Tal A’ran areas of Syrian Kurdistan from July 28 – August 2, 2013.”

August 27, 2013

Attack on Syria,multilateral approach to resolving this crisis remains a crucial instrument

    Tuesday, August 27, 2013   No comments
by Henelito A. Sevilla, Jr.* 

Recent gas attack to a civilian population in the suburbs of Syria that led to the death of hundreds of Syrian was undeniably a crime against humanity and merits an international intervention. The attack was the “largest mass killing of the Syrian Civil War” and the “most deadliest chemical weapons attack” in the region since former President Saddam Hussien used poison gas to kill thousands of Kurds during the Halabja massacre on March 16, 1988 in Southern Kurdistan, Iraq.

July 16, 2013

Between the two camps, Egypt's media outlets have chosen to take sides in the ongoing tragic split

    Tuesday, July 16, 2013   No comments
by Ahmed Magdy Youssef*
 
Egypt's last two weeks’ incessant events not only gripped the minds and hearts of the Egyptians, but they captured the interest of the national and international media as well.

For many Egyptians, mostly those who filled public squares across the country to demand Mr. Morsi's removal and early presidential elections, the military's intervention on July 3 was inevitable to save the most heavily populated Arab country from slipping into a civil war.

March 3, 2013

Women’s plight in Afghanistan

    Sunday, March 03, 2013   No comments
by Rooh-ul-Amin*

The killing of women’s affairs director in eastern Laghman province on Monday is a reminder to us all, that, how violence against women is making deep inroads in our society and how much numb we have become to respond to such oft-repeated cruel incidents. It is not the first ever incident of this nature where a woman has been killed rather it is the latest in the series of such heinous acts. 

Where the wars of the past three or more decades have brought economic challenges and illiteracy to this dilapidated part of the world, they have also brought some cultural and social evils upon us. Intolerance towards women has become widespread. If women step outside their houses they are considered to be immoral. If they do job in offices they are considered not worth marriage. And if a woman loses her husband and being left as widowed and eventually a beggar, she is considered to be a prostitute. 

February 24, 2013

What does Iran want from the P5+1?

    Sunday, February 24, 2013   No comments

And what do the P5+1 want from Iran?

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*
Iran and the P5+1 group (United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany) are to resume negotiations in Almaty, Kazakhstan on February 26. Their last meeting was eight-month ago in Moscow. That meeting did not produce a breakthrough and that was expected because, in part, the U.S. was not prepared to offer anything of significance at a time when the president was facing re-election. With Obama re-elected and a new national security team being put in place, both sides must feel that they can make some progress. Otherwise there would be no reason to try again. That much was signaled by the new Secretary of State John Kerry who encouraged Iran two days ago (on Friday) to make a serious offer and promised that “the international community is ready to respond”. So what can Iran offer? Or more importantly, what can’t Iran offer?

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