Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sunni monarchs back YouTube hate preachers: Anti-Shia propaganda threatens a sectarian civil war which will engulf the entire Muslim world

    Tuesday, December 31, 2013   No comments
Anti-Shia hate propaganda spread by Sunni religious figures sponsored by, or based in, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, is creating the ingredients for a sectarian civil war engulfing the entire Muslim world. Iraq and Syria have seen the most violence, with the majority of the 766 civilian fatalities in Iraq this month being Shia pilgrims killed by suicide bombers from the al-Qa'ida umbrella group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis). The anti-Shia hostility of this organisation, now operating from Baghdad to Beirut, is so extreme that last month it had to apologise for beheading one of its own wounded fighters in Aleppo – because he was mistakenly believed to have muttered the name of Shia saints as he lay on a stretcher.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Glenn Greenwald: U.S., British Media Are 'Devoted Servants' To Government

    Monday, December 30, 2013   No comments
Journalist Glenn Greenwald did not hold back Friday in criticizing the media during a speech about his work with Edward Snowden.

Greenwald, who reported on the National Security Agency's secret domestic surveillance programs with the help of documents leaked by the former NSA contractor, spoke to the Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg, Germany, via satellite from Brazil. According to Russia Today, he denounced journalists in the United States and Britain, accusing them of failing to challenge those in political power and of discrediting anyone who dared to do so.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Al Qaeda-linked Yusuf Al Qadi and Osama Khoutub, who are among suspects in a major graft probe, has reportedly fled Turkey after the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) blocked a police raid on Wednesday as İstanbul police didn't comply with orders of prosecutors to detain several suspects in the second leg of the investigation

    Thursday, December 26, 2013   No comments
Gulen and Erdogan now at odds

The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office has ordered the detention of 30 suspects, including a number of deputies and businessmen. The İstanbul Police Department, which saw an extensive purge of its top officers over the last week, has not complied with the order, however.

News reports suggest that when the list of 30 suspects leaked to media on Wednesday, some of the suspects took precautionary measures to avoid any allegation in case of a police raid to their houses and offices.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Home Secretary: revoked the British citizenship of 20 people this year to prevent the return of dual-nationals who have gone to fight in Syria

    Monday, December 23, 2013   No comments
Secret use of citizenship-stripping powers has been dramatically stepped up as Theresa May moves to prevent the return of dual-nationals who have gone to fight in Syria.

The Home Secretary has so far revoked the British citizenship of 20 people this year – more than in her previous two- and-a-half years combined.

She has removed the citizenship of 37 people since May 2010, according to figures collated by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Critics warned the practice could leave individuals at risk of torture and ill-treatment in their home countries.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

AKP corruption probe: Turkey's recent past is filled with political parties that were swept to power thanks to their promises to root out corruption in the country but which disappeared from the political scene due to claims of corruption and fraud in their own ranks

    Sunday, December 22, 2013   No comments
Corruption, a large and troublesome problem for Turkey, led to the demise of several governments in the past and analysts warn that the same fate might await the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), some of whose members have been targeted as part of a major bribery and fraud operation along with dozens of businessmen and bureaucrats, unless the party proves itself “clean.”
Turkey's recent past is filled with political parties that were swept to power thanks to their promises to root out corruption in the country but which disappeared from the political scene due to claims of corruption and fraud in their own ranks.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Masked Army: Jihadist Group Expands Rapidly in Syria

    Thursday, December 19, 2013   No comments
The sender was unidentified, but the young engineer knew who the email was from as soon as he opened the attachment. Beneath a picture of the brutally mutilated corpse of Muhannad Halaibna, a civil rights activist known throughout the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, was a single sentence: "Are you sad now about your friend?"

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Up to 11,000 Foreign Fighters in Syria; Steep Rise Among Western Europeans

    Wednesday, December 18, 2013   No comments
The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation offers its latest assessment of how many foreigners are fighting in Syria's civil war, which countries they hail from, and other key data.

Since ICSR published its first estimate in April, the issue of foreign fighters in Syria has become a major concern for Western governments. More reports have emerged since, though few have accurately gauged the full extent and evolution of the phenomenon.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Zarqawi’s Cubs: Extremist Syrian faction touts training camp for boys

    Tuesday, December 17, 2013   No comments
By Joby Warrick
At first glance, the training camp appears no different from the many others shown in propaganda videos posted by al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. Hooded recruits in camouflage shoot at targets or march in formation under the black flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

But look closer and the “fighters” appear quite small. The tallest are barely chest-high to their instructors, and the shorter ones wear ill-fitting uniforms and appear to struggle under the weight of their weapons. A photo of the recruits without their hoods confirms that all of them are young boys.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Turkey admits export of rifles to Syria ‘for sports’; 47 tons of weaponry

    Monday, December 16, 2013   No comments
No weapons intended for war have been exported to Syria in 2013, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz has said, while acknowledging that weapons “without military uses” for use in sports activities have been exported to Syria, indirectly acknowledging a recent report by daily Hürriyet.
....
47 tons of weaponry

Iraqi Deputy PM Hussain al-Shahristani welcomes recent deals between Turkey and the KRG, but stresses that Baghdad 'shouldn’t be marginalized'

    Monday, December 16, 2013   No comments
Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani has welcomed recent agreements between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurdish administration on oil and natural gas exports to Turkey, provided that the central government in Baghdad is not marginalized in any such agreements.

“We support and seek to increase our oil and future natural gas exports to Turkey,” al-Shahristani told Anadolu Agency in an interview. “This is something that we seek to achieve.”

However, al-Shahristani stressed that the quantities of Iraqi oil exported to Turkey must be known to the central government, oil must be sold at international market prices, and revenues from oil sales must be channeled to the account of the Iraq Development Fund in New York, in line with previous U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Pope Francis says trickle-down economics do not help the poor, says he is not a Marxist, but defends criticism of capitalism

    Monday, December 16, 2013   No comments
"Never be afraid of tenderness"
In this exclusive interview, Pope Francis speaks about Christmas, hunger in the world, the suffering of children, the reform of the Roman Curia, women cardinals, the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), and the upcoming visit to the Holy Land
 ...

"The ideology of Marxism is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don't feel offended," Francis was quoted as saying. Defending his criticism of the "trickle-down" theory of economics, he added: "There was the promise that once the glass had become full it would overflow and the poor would benefit. But what happens is that when it's full to the brim, the glass magically grows, and thus nothing ever comes out for the poor ... I repeat: I did not talk as a specialist but according to the social doctrine of the church. And this does not mean being a Marxist."
...

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Radical Islamists embedded among the rebels in Syria are reportedly targeting foreign journalists for abduction

    Sunday, December 15, 2013   No comments
Radical Islamists embedded among the rebels in Syria are reportedly targeting foreign journalists for abduction. Instead of holding them for ransom, however, they use them as trump cards in their power struggles with more moderate rebel groups.

It was Sept. 16. The two Spaniards had almost made it to safety. Journalists Javiar Espinosa and Ricardo García, as well as their escorts, fighters with the Free Syrian Army, were hardly 15 minutes by car from the Turkish border when they were stopped at the last checkpoint within Syrian territory and abducted.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Free Syrian Army Gen. Salim Idris fled to Qatar through Turkey, U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal

    Thursday, December 12, 2013   No comments

Salim Idris
The top Western-backed Syrian rebel commander fled the country after Islamist militant fighters ran him out of his headquarters, U.S. officials said.
Free Syrian Army Gen. Salim Idris flew to the Qatari capital of Doha Sunday after fleeing to Turkey, the officials told the Wall Street Journal.

"He fled as a result of the Islamic Front taking over his headquarters," a senior U.S. official said.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

U.S., Britain suspend aid to north Syria after Islamists seize weapons store

    Wednesday, December 11, 2013   No comments
Nusra fighters transporting weapons and munitions
The United States and Britain suspended non-lethal aid to northern Syria after Islamist fighters seized Western-backed rebel weapons warehouses, highlighting fears that supplies could end up in the wrong hands and the general chaos engulfing the nation.

The rebel Free Syrian Army fighting President Bashar al-Assad said the U.S. and British moves were rushed and mistaken. "We hope our friends will rethink and wait for a few days when things will be clearer," FSA spokesman Louay Meqdad said.

Saudi Arabia migrant expulsions: 'They beat us. I want to warn others not to go'

    Wednesday, December 11, 2013   No comments
Abdulla Shahmola trudges up the road leading from Addis Ababa airport to the outskirts of the city, his battered black suitcase balanced precariously on his head. Weariness and relief are etched into his delicate features as he heaves his heavy bag to the floor. "I have so many possessions that I had to leave behind in Saudi Arabia – a television, a bed, a fridge," he laments, adding that he is thankful to be back in Ethiopia.

Abdulla is one of hundreds of men, women and children steadily streaming from the airport cargo terminal, where up to 20 flights have been arriving daily from Jeddah and Riyadh since 13 November. A kilometre's walk from the hastily erected transit centre, which has been processing some 7,000 returning migrants each day, a small crowd, held back by federal police officers in blue military fatigues, waits anxiously for a glimpse of a loved one.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Whose sarin: The Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin

    Monday, December 09, 2013   No comments
Seymour M. Hersh
Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

With Iran, Obama can end America’s long war for the Middle East

    Sunday, December 08, 2013   No comments

President Obama calling President Rouhani

By Andrew J. Bacevich, Boston University

Andrew J. Bacevich is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University and the author of “Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country.”
What Jimmy Carter began, Barack Obama is ending. Washington is bringing down the curtain on its 30-plus-year military effort to pull the Islamic world into conformity with American interests and expectations. It’s about time.
Back in 1980, when his promulgation of the Carter Doctrine launched that effort, Carter acted with only a vague understanding of what might follow. Yet circumstance — the overthrow of the shah in Iran, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan — compelled him to act. Or more accurately, the domestic political uproar triggered by those events compelled the president, facing a tough reelection campaign, to make a show of doing something. What ensued was the long-term militarization of U.S. policy throughout the region.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Mass murder in the Middle East is funded by our friends the Saudis

    Saturday, December 07, 2013   No comments
Shi`a victims of suicide attacks
World View: Everyone knows where al-Qa'ida gets its money, but while the violence is sectarian, the West does nothing
Donors in Saudi Arabia have notoriously played a pivotal role in creating and maintaining Sunni jihadist groups over the past 30 years. But, for all the supposed determination of the United States and its allies since 9/11 to fight "the war on terror", they have showed astonishing restraint when it comes to pressuring Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies to turn off the financial tap that keeps the jihadists in business.
Compare two US pronouncements stressing the significance of these donations and basing their conclusions on the best intelligence available to the US government. The first is in the 9/11 Commission Report which found that Osama bin Laden did not fund al-Qa'ida because from 1994 he had little money of his own but relied on his ties to wealthy Saudi individuals established during the Afghan war in the 1980s. Quoting, among other sources, a CIA analytic report dated 14 November 2002, the commission concluded that "al-Qa'ida appears to have relied on a core group of financial facilitators who raised money from a variety of donors and other fund-raisers primarily in the Gulf countries and particularly in Saudi Arabia".

Seven years pass after the CIA report was written during which the US invades Iraq fighting, among others, the newly established Iraq franchise of al-Qa'ida, and becomes engaged in a bloody war in Afghanistan with the resurgent Taliban. American drones are fired at supposed al-Qa'ida-linked targets located everywhere from Waziristan in north-west Pakistan to the hill villages of Yemen. But during this time Washington can manage no more than a few gentle reproofs to Saudi Arabia on its promotion of fanatical and sectarian Sunni militancy outside its own borders.


read more >>

Friday, December 6, 2013

Don’t Sanitize Nelson Mandela: He’s Honored Now, But Was Hated Then: If we turn the late South African leader into a nonthreatening moral icon, we’ll forget a key lesson from his life: America isn’t always a force for freedom

    Friday, December 06, 2013   No comments
Now that he’s dead, and can cause no more trouble, Nelson Mandela is being mourned across the ideological spectrum as a saint. But not long ago, in Washington’s highest circles, he was considered an enemy of the United States. Unless we remember why, we won’t truly honor his legacy.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Syrian rebels consider joining forces with regime troops to fight al-Qa’ida

    Thursday, December 05, 2013   No comments

The spectre is looming of a second Syrian civil war with the head of the opposition’s official forces declaring that he is prepared to join regime troops in the future to drive out al-Qa’ida-linked extremists who have taken over swathes of rebel-held territories.

General Salim Idris, the commander of the Free Syrian Army warned that in particular Isis (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham), with thousands of foreign fighters in its ranks, was “very dangerous for the future of Syria” and needs to be confronted before it becomes even more powerful.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Study: Muslim job candidates may face discrimination in Republican states

    Tuesday, December 03, 2013   No comments
A new study by Carnegie Mellon University found that in the most Republican states in the country, employers may be less likely to interview job candidates whose social networking profiles indicate that the applicants are Muslim.

As part of a social experiment, the researchers created four fictitious job candidates – each with a unique name that most likely points to someone who is male, U.S. born and Caucasian. The candidates had identical resumes. The researchers also created social network profiles for each of the candidates that revealed either his sexual orientation or whether he was a Muslim or Christian. All other information, including the profile photograph used for each candidate, was the same. The resumes, which did not mention the candidates’ online profile, were then sent out to more than 4,000 employers nationwide with job openings.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Algerian daily al-Shorouq: “The Algerian security services have conducted a careful investigation into the networks which recruit Salafis to fight against Houthis in Yemen”

    Monday, December 02, 2013   No comments
The investigations have been carried out after three people were killed in Wadi al-Souf region in Yemen, it reported.

“There is information showing that certain sides in an Arab country recruit forces in Algeria and pay them huge sums of money up to $8,000 to use them in different conflicts,” the newspaper said.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Free Syrian Army began as a simple group of fighters battling Assad. But Ruth Sherlock, in Antakya, finds their mission is now making millions from bribery and extortion

    Sunday, December 01, 2013   No comments
The Free Syrian Army commander leant against the door of his four-wheel drive BMW X5 with tinted windows and watched as his men waded through the river on the Syrian border moving the barrels of smuggled petroleum to Turkey.
Feeling the smooth wedge of American bank notes he had just been given in exchange, he was suddenly proud of everything he had become.
In three short years he had risen from peasant to war lord: from a seller of cigarettes on the street of a provincial village to the ruler of a province, with a rebel group to man his checkpoints and control these lucrative smuggling routes.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dissenting deputy sent to disciplinary board resigns from ruling AKP

    Saturday, November 30, 2013   No comments
İdris Bal
The ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Kütahya Deputy İdris Bal, who drew attention for his dissenting statements on several issues,  announced his resignation from his party on Nov. 30.

Bal was sent last week to the AKP’s Joint Disciplinary Board with the request of definite expulsion from both the party and the parliamentary group after he expressed views contrary to those of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the latest test prep schools row.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Disillusionment Grows Among Syrian Opposition as Fighting Drags On

    Friday, November 29, 2013   No comments
DAMASCUS, Syria — In a terrace cafe within earshot of army artillery, a 28-year-old graduate student wept as she confessed that she had stopped planning antigovernment protests and delivering medical supplies to rebel-held towns.

Khaled, 33, a former protester who fled Damascus after being tortured and fired from his bank post, quit his job in Turkey with the exile opposition, disillusioned and saying that he wished the uprising “had never happened.”

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Row between Turkish government and Gülen heats up with new document

    Thursday, November 28, 2013   No comments
The row between followers of the Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen’s movement of and the Turkish government took another dimension after a daily revealed Nov. 28 that a decision from the National Security Council (MGK) recommending an action plan against the Gülen movement be signed by the government in 2004.

Government officials, however, wasted no time in making statements about the MGK decision and said it has never been enforced.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Turkish protesters: “Erdoğan, withdraw your al-Qaeda from Rojava”

    Monday, November 25, 2013   No comments
The Peace and Democracy Party’s (BDP) meeting in Istanbul’s Asian side district of Kadıköy in support of Syria’s Kurdish region Rojava turned violent on Nov. 24 because of the police’s move against a banner on a building.

Police and protesters became involved in reciprocal attacks when police officers removed a banner reading “[Turkish Prime Minister] Erdoğan withdraw your Al-Qaeda from Rojava” from a building on the way of rally.

Almost 80 percent of protesters detained as part of the Gezi Park protests were Alevis, according to daily Milliyet citing a report by Turkish security and intelligence authorities

    Monday, November 25, 2013   No comments
The daily reported that the authorities have prepared a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the anti-governmental protests spread across the country over summer, using detainees as samples.

More than 5,500 demonstrations or activities were staged within the framework of the country-wide movement dubbed “Gezi protests” that were prolonged for 112 days after being kindled in Taksim Gezi Park at the end of May, according to the analysis reported by daily Milliyet columnist Tolga Şardan Nov. 25.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

P5+1 & Iran agree landmark nuclear deal at Geneva talks

    Sunday, November 24, 2013   No comments
Iran and six major powers agreed early Sunday on a historic deal that freezes key parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for temporary relief on some economic sanctions.

The agreement, sealed at a 3 a.m. signing ceremony in Geneva’s Palace of Nations, requires Iran to halt or scale back parts of its nuclear infrastructure, the first such pause in more than a decade.





 

President Obama Makes a Statement on Iran


Friday, November 22, 2013

Turkey's Ruling AKP moves to expel dissenting deputy

    Friday, November 22, 2013   No comments
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has launched the required procedural process for expelling a deputy who openly expressed views contrary to those of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about plans for closing down test prep schools.

AKP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Ahmet Aydın, speaking to Anadolu Agency on Nov. 21, said deputy İdris Bal had been sent to the Joint Disciplinary Board of the party, with request of definite expulsion from both the party and the parliamentary group. The request came as a result of Bal's "remarks that have been published in the press and which have been against party policies.”

Saudi's internal power struggle sends ripples across international borders: Post-coup Egypt is only the start of Saudi Arabia's problems abroad, and the root cause may be old-fashioned courtly manoeuvring

    Friday, November 22, 2013   No comments
The year is not ending on a high note for three men in the Saudi dynasty whose fingerprints were all over the military coup in Egypt – Prince Bandar, the current intelligence chief; Prince Muqrin, the intelligence chief he replaced, and an aspiring crown prince; and Khalid al-Tuwaijri, president of the royal court and the king's gatekeeper.

Bandar has become the target of rare criticism in the Saudi press. It is obliquely expressed, but it is unmistakably there. When the well-connected Saudi writer and journalist Jamal Khashoggi wrote in Al Hayat about "local and world intelligence men" no longer being able to change history, establish states or make new leaders, many of his readers understood that he was aiming that at Bandar.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once famous in Washington for his cigars, parties and charm, is now Saudi Arabia’s point man, fighting Iran in Syria and denouncing the Obama administration

    Wednesday, November 20, 2013   No comments
When the prince was the ambassador he was the toast of Washington, and plenty of toasts there were. Bandar bin Sultan smoked fine cigars and drank finer Cognac. For almost 30 years as Saudi Arabia’s regal messenger, lobbyist, and envoy, he told amazing stories about politicians and potentates, some of which, surprisingly, were true. Washington journalists loved him. Nobody had better access to more powerful people in higher places, or came with so much money, so quietly and massively distributed, to help out his friends.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif asking the world: “would you back down” from a step toward shaping your own destiney rather than letting others decide for you?

    Tuesday, November 19, 2013   No comments
Zarif asks the world: Would you back down from your right?


Monday, November 18, 2013

Amnesty slams Qatar migrant worker exploitation: Qatar’s construction sector rife with abuse, with workers employed on multi-million dollar projects suffering serious exploitation

    Monday, November 18, 2013   No comments
Construction companies in Qatar, which is experiencing a massive building boom ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, are involved in widespread abuse of migrant workers, according to Amnesty International.

Qatar’s construction sector is rife with unacceptable working conditions for migrant labourers, according to a report released by Amnesty International on Sunday.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Israel, Saudi Arabia cooperating to plan possible Iran attack: Convinced that Iran is tricking the world over nuclear weapons, Israel and Saudi Arabia may work together to curb its ambitions

    Sunday, November 17, 2013   No comments
ONCE they were sworn enemies. Now Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency is working with Saudi officials on contingency plans for a possible attack on Iran if its nuclear programme is not significantly curbed in a deal that could be signed in Geneva this week.

Both the Israeli and Saudi governments are convinced that the international talks to place limits on Tehran’s military nuclear development amount to appeasement and will do little to slow its development of a nuclear warhead.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Riots in Saudi Arabia: ‘The Kingdom expels the same people it exploited’

    Friday, November 15, 2013   No comments
Tensions have been simmering in Saudi Arabia over the past week. Hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrant workers have risen up against the ruling authorities, giving rise to scenes of rioting that the country has rarely seen.

The workers have been rioting over the recent wave of migrant expulsions from Saudi Arabia, which they claim is completely unjust, given the widespread exploitation many migrants have suffered at the hands of their Saudi patrons.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Qatar loses clout amid fading Arab Spring

    Thursday, November 14, 2013   No comments
The gas-rich Persian Gulf state, which is slightly smaller than Connecticut, wanted to host world-class sporting events; to build a network of top-tier universities and museums; and to push, tweak and manipulate regional politics to reshape the Arab world to its liking.

At the moment, that last priority isn’t going so well.

If 2011 was the tiny state’s year for victory laps — its flag flying high alongside the Libyan rebels, as the revolution there raged with Qatari support; its satellite channel Al Jazeera praised among Egyptian protesters in Tahrir Square; and everybody wanting a bag full of Qatari cash — 2013 has been a year for losses.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Syrian Refugees Sell Organs to Survive: In the shadow of the Syrian civil war, a growing number of refugees are surviving in Lebanon by illegally selling their own organs

    Wednesday, November 13, 2013   No comments
The young man, who called himself Raïd, wasn't doing well. He climbed into the backseat of the car, in pain, careful not to touch any corners. He was exhausted and dizzy. A large bandage looped around his stomach, caked with blood. Despite that, the 19-year-old Syrian wanted to tell his story.

Seven months ago, he fled the embattled city of Aleppo, in Syria, to Lebanon with his parents and six siblings. The family quickly ran out of money in the capital, Beirut. Raïd heard from a relative that the solution could be to sell one of his kidneys, and then he spoke to a bull-necked man, now sitting in the passenger seat, smoking and drinking a beer.

Monday, November 11, 2013

McCain: 'Vive la France' for blocking Iran nuclear deal

    Monday, November 11, 2013   No comments
US Senator John McCain joined a chorus of conservative American approval of France on Sunday, lavishing praise on Paris for blocking "a bad nuclear agreement with Iran". "Vive la France!" he tweeted.
Conservative US leaders, fond of finger-pointing at France in recent years, lavished praise on Paris Sunday for blocking an agreement between Western powers and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Former Prime Minister criticises the dominance of private-school educated elite in “upper echelons” of British public life

    Sunday, November 10, 2013   No comments
The dominance of a private-school educated elite and well-heeled middle class in the “upper echelons” of public life in Britain is “truly shocking”, Sir John Major has said.
The former Conservative Prime Minister said he was appalled that “every single sphere of British influence” in society is dominated by men and women who went to private school or who are from the “affluent middle class”
More than half of the Cabinet, including David Cameron, the Prime Minister, George Osborne, the Chancellor, and Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, are thought to have gone to private school and are independently very wealthy.
In the speech to Tory party grassroots activists on Friday evening, Sir John - who went to a grammar school in south London and left with three O-Levels - said: “In every single sphere of British influence, the upper echelons of power in 2013 are held overwhelmingly by the privately educated or the affluent middle class. To me from my background, I find that truly shocking.”
Sir John blamed this “collapse in social mobility” on Labour, which despite Ed Miliband’s “absurd mantra to be the one-nation party they left a Victorian divide between stagnation and aspiration”.

read more >>

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Where Allah Rocks: Indonesia's Tolerant Take on Islam

    Thursday, November 07, 2013   No comments
By Erich Follath
The Southeast Asian island nation of Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population, which practices an open-minded, gentle version of Islam in urban areas. But elsewhere Islamists are beginning to encroach.
Joko Widodo is a strange character, a superstar in his country and a figure of growing importance in Asian politics. He is also a mixture of many things that don't ordinarily mix.

Sometimes he behaves like the legendary Kalif Harun al-Rashid, who used to sneak out of his palace in Baghdad at night to mingle, in disguise, with ordinary people and learn what they were thinking. Sometimes he emulates Nelson Mandela, who has charmed people with his optimism and eloquence throughout his life. And sometimes he comes across as a Mick Jagger type, charismatic and assertive, but perhaps a little too self-absorbed.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Turkey, Iran signal thaw in ties amid mutual concern on Syria

    Friday, November 01, 2013   No comments
Turkey and Iran said on Friday they had common concerns about the increasingly sectarian nature of Syria's civil war, signalling a thaw in a key Middle Eastern relationship strained by stark differences over the conflict.
Iran has been a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since the start of the 32-month-old uprising against him, while Turkey has been one of his fiercest critics, supporting the opposition and giving refuge to rebel fighters.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bahrain teargas stockpile plan faces international opposition: Government insists weapon is legal after activists condemn tender for vast quantities of gas and grenades

    Wednesday, October 30, 2013   No comments
Bahrain's government is striking back at an international campaign to prevent it from buying huge amounts of teargas to repress protests in the Gulf island state.

Officials and pro-government media in Manama insist that the use of teargas is within international legal norms.

Activists and human rights watchdogs, however, say the gas is used indiscriminately and lethally against demonstrators.

Pressure to prevent deliveries has been growing since the publication of a leaked document showing that Bahrain is seeking to purchase more teargas canisters than its entire population, of 1.2m.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Islam belongs in people's lives, not in politics, says Karima Bennoune: Author of Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here says the politicised version of Islam peddled by fundamentalists is dangerous and misrepresentative

    Tuesday, October 29, 2013   No comments
Writing a book about Muslim fundamentalism, the subject of Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here, felt like dancing in a minefield, admits Karima Bennoune. The law professor, who describes herself as a secular person of Muslim heritage, set out to capture the voices of those battling fundamentalism on the front lines of countries such as Algeria, Afghanistan, Niger, Russia and Pakistan.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Saudi women filmed defying driving ban in October 26 protest

    Saturday, October 26, 2013   No comments
Activists have begun posting videos of women in Saudi Arabia driving cars, as their one-day campaign to defy a ban on female drivers in the conservative kingdom gets under way.



Thursday, October 24, 2013

What money cannot buy long term: Saudi Arabia’s Image Falters among Middle East Neighbors

    Thursday, October 24, 2013   No comments
Each year, the world is reminded of Saudi Arabia’s influential status as the birthplace of Islam, as hundreds of thousands of Muslims from across the globe make the Hajj, or pilgrimage, to the city of Mecca. Perhaps owing to its pivotal role within the Islamic faith, Saudi Arabia tends to be viewed favorably in countries that are home to large or majority-Muslim populations.

However, a Pew Research Center survey reveals that Saudi Arabia’s standing has slipped substantially among key Middle Eastern publics, including in Lebanon

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Why Did Saudi Arabia Refuse to Join the UN Security Council? The nation seems to be refusing the opportunity to vote on the very issues it’s concerned about

    Wednesday, October 23, 2013   No comments
In an unprecedented move last Friday, Saudi Arabia turned down an offer by the United Nations to sit on the Security Council for two years as a non-permanent member. No country has ever been offered this opportunity and refused to accept.

Why did Saudi Arabia turn down the seat on the Security Council?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Foreign jihadists surpass Afghan-Soviet war, storm Syria in record numbers

    Monday, October 21, 2013   No comments
Foreigners fueled by Islamic fury are rushing to Syria to fight President Bashar Assad at a faster rate than the flow of rebels into Afghanistan in the war against a Soviet-backed regime in the 1980s, analysts say.

An estimated 5,000 to 10,000 foreign fighters have come to Syria since the outbreak of the uprising in March 2011.

“This is probably one of the biggest foreign-fighter mobilizations since it became a phenomenon in the 1980s with the Afghan jihad against the Soviets,” said Aaron Y. Zelin, a Washington Institute researcher who studies al Qaeda and Syria.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Sinai Peninsula is both a vacation paradise and a haven for jihadists and gangs of thugs. The military and the police are trying to regain control over the region. But a new class of haughty warlords and a resentful public mean the state's chances are remote

    Sunday, October 20, 2013   No comments

On the day of his departure, warehouse manager Hussein Gilbana packed his five best shirts and pairs of pants into a black suitcase, together with books and photos. He embraced his wife and kissed his five-year-old son, Omar, and his little boy, Assar.

He told the children that he would return soon, and that he would come to get them and take them to a new home as soon as possible. Then he got into his old Fiat and drove away. He was leaving his home in al-Arish, on the Sinai Peninsula, which he had grown to hate.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The forgotten story of Iran Air Flight 655

    Thursday, October 17, 2013   No comments
If you walked into any high school classroom in the United States and asked the students to describe their country's relationship with Iran, you'd probably hear words like "enemy" and "threat," maybe "distrust" and "nuclear." But ask them what the number 655 has to do with it, and you'd be met with silence.

Try the same thing in an Iranian classroom, asking about the United States, and you'd probably hear some of the same words. Mention the number 655, though, it's a safe bet that at least a few of the students would immediately know what you were talking about.

What to Make of Saudi Hand-Wringing: Troubling and uncertain times for Saudi diplomacy

    Thursday, October 17, 2013   No comments
These are troubling and uncertain times for Saudi diplomacy. A string of regional upsets and friction with the United States has cast the kingdom into rocky, uncharted waters. Washington’s support of the Islamist government in Egypt and its response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria elicited outrage and accusations of U.S. unreliability and even betrayal from Riyadh. Then came the slight warming in U.S.-Iranian relations—highlighted by the unprecedented phone call between U.S. President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. That mild rapprochement brought to the fore an old specter: an U.S.-Iranian breakthrough that marginalizes the Gulf states and erodes their long-standing position as beneficiaries of U.S.-Iranian hostility.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

US President Barack Obama reportedly confronted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a "difficult meeting" in May about what Washington saw as indiscriminate support for fighters seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

    Thursday, October 10, 2013   No comments
US President Barack Obama reportedly confronted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a "difficult meeting" in May about what Washington saw as indiscriminate support for fighters seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a sign of disagreement between the two NATO allies over how to respond to the crisis in Syria.
Erdoğan met with Obama during a visit to Washington in May, and the two had talks focusing primarily on Syria. The two leaders projected a united front after the talks despite disagreement over how much the US should intervene to end the Syrian crisis. Turkey has pressed the US for a more aggressive stance to bring down the Assad regime while the Obama administration, partly out of concern over radical Islamist groups within the opposition, has refrained from military action or more active support for the opposition.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

In a SPIEGEL interview, Syrian President Bashar Assad discusses his fight for power, his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and the special expectations he has for Germany

    Wednesday, October 09, 2013   No comments
Editor's note: The following is the version of the interview with Syrian President Bashar Assad that ran in the Monday edition of SPIEGEL. Earlier on Monday, the Syrian state news agency Sana published its own version of the interview. There are minor differences that reflect changes made by our fact-checkers.



Monday, October 7, 2013

Turkish Shias in fear of life on the edge: Sectarian hatred is moving from Syria into the mainstream of Turkey’s political life

    Monday, October 07, 2013   No comments
The poison of sectarian hatred is spreading to Turkey from Syria as a result of the Turkish government giving full support to militant Sunni Muslims in the Syrian civil war.

The Alevi, a long-persecuted Shia sect to which 10-20 million Turks belong, say they feel menaced by the government’s pro-Sunni stance in the Shia-Sunni struggle that is taking place across the Muslim world.

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