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M i d e a s t    Newsstand

Month: December, 2015

The Most Important Article You Will Read About Muslims and the Presidential Race – Omar Alnatour/HuffPo

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There are currently 16 hopeful candidates running for president and the majority of them have expressed an animosity towards Muslims. The result of their hatred being displayed across the media and rallies nationwide has played a significant role in fueling unjustified hatred towards Muslims. A recent poll shows that 55 percent of all Americans favor banning Muslims from entering the United States, 40 percent of conservative Americans believe that the entire religion of Islam should be banned in the United States, and 72 percent of conservative Americans believe a Muslim should never be allowed to be president.

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Erdoğan, Salman and the Coming ‘Sunni’ War for Oil – F. William Engdahl/New Eastern Outlook

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We’re about to be plunged into a new oil war in the Middle East, this one with a possible nuclear dimension. Wars for control of oil have been instigated for more than a century since the dawn of the petroleum era around the time of the First World War. This war for control of oil, however, promises to be of a scale that will change world politics in a spectacular and highly destructive manner. It is on one level, a Saudi war to redraw the national borders of the infamous Anglo-French Sykes-Picot carve-up of the bankrupt Ottoman Turkish Empire of 1916. This new war has as its foolish goal bringing the oil fields and pipeline routes of Iraq and Syria, and perhaps more of the region, under direct Saudi control, with Qatar and Erdogan’s Turkey as Riyadh’s partners in crime. Unfortunately, as in all wars, there will be no winners.

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The Coming Saudi Crack-up? – Daniel Lazare/Consortiumnews

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Exclusive: President Obama, like generations of Western leaders, has coddled the oil-rich Saudi monarchy by tolerating its reactionary politics, its financing of radical Islam and its military support for Sunni jihadist terrorism. But the spoiled Saudi leaders may finally be going too far, as Daniel Lazare describes.

Is the Saudi monarchy coming apart at the seams? Scholars and journalists have long predicted the kingdom’s demise, but this time the forecasts may finally prove correct.

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The melody of our exile: Yemen

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Greece recognises the state of Palestine – Al Jazeera English

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Greek parliament votes in Palestine for state recognition in a session attended by Palestinian President Abbas.

The Greek parliament voted in a resolution recognising the state of Palestine on Tuesday making it the latest European legislative body to recognise Palestine statehood.

The voting took place during a special parliamentary session attended by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president,  and Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister.

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Bashar al-Assad: The Democratically Elected President of Syria – Steven MacMillan/New Eastern Outlook

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“Butcher”; “thug”; “dictator”; “murderer”; “savage”; “tyrant”; “oppressor”; “despot”. These are just some of the words that many in the Western world associate with the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, after four years of incessant and hypnotic war propaganda. Democratically elected leader of a sovereign country however, is not a narrative the propagandists want to be circulated. The 2014 election in Syria is an event that the ‘Ministry of Truth’ in the West desperately wants to be memory-holed, as it runs in stark contrast to the narrative they are still trying to inculcate in the minds of the public.

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IDF Lies About Kuntar Murder Flow in Abundance – Richard Silverstein/Tikun-Olam

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The capture of Samir Kuntar, 1979

Yesterday, Israel murdered Samir Kuntar, a Hezbollah militant involved with a terror attack that killed three Israeli civilians in 1979.  Until he was freed in a prisoner exchange in 2008, he’d been the longest-serving security prisoner in Israeli jails.

In the years following the original attack, Kuntar became the embodiment of the bloodthirsty terrorist, supposedly personally bashing in the head of a little girl with a rifle butt.  At least this is the story they told.  But this narrative, like so many spun by Israeli military-intelligence circles, and lapped up so eagerly by an adoring Israeli media, is largely fiction.

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Why the Israeli Occupation is Failing – Vijay Prashad/CounterPunch

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Everything is known of the everyday indignities of living under the Israeli occupation: the checkpoints, the separation wall, the embargo, the settlers, the IDF raids…

Much has been written about individual acts of violence and inconvenience. The fundamental immobility of the Palestinians is not often underlined. Palestinians in Gaza are cut off from this in the West Bank, who are themselves not allowed into Israel proper. The seminars I attend rely upon Skype to link intellectuals, whose academic freedom is violated systematically by Israel. Gaza is in a spectacular form of isolation. But the West Bank is also caged in.

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Military to Military: US Intelligence Sharing in the Syrian War · Seymour Hersh/London Review of Books

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Barack Obama’s repeated insistence that Bashar al-Assad must leave office – and that there are ‘moderate’ rebel groups in Syria capable of defeating him – has in recent years provoked quiet dissent, and even overt opposition, among some of the most senior officers on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff. Their criticism has focused on what they see as the administration’s fixation on Assad’s primary ally, Vladimir Putin. In their view, Obama is captive to Cold War thinking about Russia and China, and hasn’t adjusted his stance on Syria to the fact both countries share Washington’s anxiety about the spread of terrorism in and beyond Syria; like Washington, they believe that Islamic State must be stopped.

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Homeland Is Not A Series – Arabian Street Artists/Field of Vision

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In what has become known as “The Homeland Incident,” The Arabian Street Artists engineered a graffiti hack on the show Homeland by placing subversive messages written in Arabic on set. Homeland is not a Series is a message from the artists themselves.

I Helped Create ISIS – Vincent Emanuele/Information Clearing House

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After 14 years of War on Terror the West is great at fomenting barbarism and creating failed states.

For the last several years, people around the world have asked, “Where did ISIS come from?” Explanations vary, but largely focus on geopolitical (U.S. hegemony), religious (Sunni-Shia), ideological (Wahhabism) or ecological (climate refugees) origins. Many commentators and even former military officials correctly suggest that the war in Iraq is primarily responsible for unleashing the forces we now know as ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, etc. Here, hopefully I can add some useful reflections and anecdotes.

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Week Eleven of the Russian Intervention in Syria: a step back from the brink? – The Saker

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This has been an amazing week. While last week I concluded that “The only way to avoid a war is to finally give up, even if that is initially denied publicly, on the “Assad must go” policy”. Now it is true that various US officials, including Kerry, did make statements about the fact that Assad need not go right now, that a “transition” was important or that “the institutions of the state” had to be preserved, but of course what I, and many others really meant, was that the US needed to fundamentally change its policy towards the Syrian conflict. Furthermore, since Turkey committed an act of war against Russia under the “umbrella” of the US and NATO, this also created a fantastically dangerous situation in which a rogue state like Turkey could have the impression of impunity because of its membership in NATO. Here again, what was needed was not just a positive statement, but a fundamental change in US policy.

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Roger Waters Talks to Italian Journalist About ISIS And War (Subtitled)

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After 2,000 years, Christians disappearing from Gaza

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GAZA CITY — Dim lighting and candles softly illuminate decorative tapestries as the smell of incense fills the air and the harmonic sound of hundreds singing in unison drifts onto a busy street next to an overflowing church on a wet and windy Sunday morning.

Despite the packed pews at Gaza’s Church of St. Porphyrius just weeks before Christmas, Christianity is not booming here. Rather, the worshipers at the 1,600-year-old shrine believe they may be the last group of Christians in Gaza, where they have lived and prayed since the birth of Jesus.

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FULL Democratic Debate – ABC/December 19, 2015

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After the spring, when our dreams were hijacked – Lamis Andoni/Al Jazeera English

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From hope to despair – a journey through the early days of the Arab Spring to today.

It felt like a dream come true: people asserting their power to defeat the tyrants of the Arab world. There would be no more fear, no more subservience, they said.

But now, five years on, it feels more like a nightmare – and one that refuses to end.

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One Nation Under Allah – Suhail A. Khan/Foreign Policy

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Long before Donald Trump’s demonizing of Muslims, the Founding Fathers debated whether Islam should be defended.

As American Muslims find themselves at the center of a heated debate over religious freedom, it’s important to remember that our nation’s founders contemplated these very issues since before the creation of the United States.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” So begins the preamble of the Declaration of Independence, adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation.

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Jews Expose the Zionist Islamophobia Campaign – Elly Bulkin, Donna Nevel/Alternet

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The people bankrolling illegal Israeli expansionism in the occupied West Bank are the same people fomenting anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S.

You don’t have to get more than a minute into Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West (2007) to begin to see how inextricably it ties Islamophobia to hardline Israeli policies [1]. Despite its initial disclaimer, the film demonizes all Muslims, and through explicit statements and rapid-fire images, makes clear the filmmaker’s view that there is a direct connection between Nazis and both Palestinians and Muslims.

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Palestinians will liberate themselves!!! – Gilad Atzmon

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Micro News from Syria

by Taxi

I currently live in the south of Lebanon, in a farmhouse situated on a green Levantean hill.  My gardener is a 26 year old Syrian who lives with his family in a separate cottage on the property.  His wife is 20 and they have three children, the youngest being 4 months old.  They both hail from a small town that’s a good 40 minutes drive from Raqqa, ISIS’s capital in Syria.  Their town is under ISIS occupation, part of the swath of landmass under control of the terrorist army.  My gardener gets regular news from his town via a cellphone network of brothers, sisters and cousins scattered inside and outside their town and who are all in constant touch with each other with news and updates of the great and the small.  They are in constant circulation of their family, their friends and their neighbors’ news.  They are Micro Media messengers.  They are the purest form of media.  They cannot afford to lie or exaggerate to each other lest they cause unnecessary grief or danger to their loved ones.  I am privy to these microcosmic stories and I would like to share with you my general impression of them.

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Pakistan Surprised to Be Included in Saudi-Led Alliance It Never Heard Of – Robert MackeyThe New York Times

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Officials in Pakistan said Wednesday that they had not been consulted by anyone in Saudi Arabia before their nation was described as a founding member of a new, 34-country “Islamic military alliance” to fight terrorism announced late Monday night by the Saudi defense minister.

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A People’s History of Churchillian Madness – Elliot Murphy/CounterPunch

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London.

This year marked the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, which is almost universally seen in Britain as purely a war against the Nazis and their UK-bound warplanes. Unlike the First World War or the wars in Indochina and Iraq, the Second World War is somewhat unique in that it is likely the only modern war whose reputation has remained pristine throughout the decades, being regarded as the ‘Good War’. But the impetus behind Britain’s involvement was as much imperial as it was defensive. At the end of the 1930s, Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden believed Germany to be a significant threat to their empire, and not Britain’s national security. Some of the ruling class entered the Second World War reluctantly, and contrary to many propaganda cartoons, British elites did nothing to aid the Poles; they did, however, evacuate a segment of the Polish army to deploy in their own objectives in 1940.

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Syria Shatters Pentagon Dream – Pepe Escobar/Strategic Culture Foundation

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No wonder Full Spectrum Dominance practitioners in the Beltway and beyond are consumed by deep denial.

They look at the Syrian chessboard and as power projection goes, they see Russia comfortably settling down, with a serious land and air base, to conduct all sorts of operations across MENA (Middle East-Northern Africa) in the near future. The Pentagon obviously never saw it coming.

And that’s just the beginning. Further on down the road there’s bound to be increased military interaction between Russia, China and Iran across Southwest Asia. The Pentagon qualifies Russia, China and Iran – the key nodes of Eurasia integration – as threats.

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America’s Aid for Israel’s Political ‘Continuum’: A Military Conquest – Clive Hambidge/Middle East Rising

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We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours … When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do will be to scurry round like drugged roaches in a bottle.” (Rafeal Eitan)

A ‘moral articulation’ by successive American administrations as to the primary reason for their unilateral support of 0.001% of the world’s population, namely Israel, is not standing up to international law or American scrutiny. The perpetuated myth of an Israel surrounded by mortal enemies, battling heroically for its democratic rights against all odds fades as the world of right mindedness recognises in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip the daily abuse and horror for Palestinians under illegal occupation in Israel’s ‘battlefield’ to test new weaponry. That abuse, brought into sharp focus by the U.S Department of State in early 2004, is systematic; perpetrated by Israel in 2011 and paid for by U.S tax payers’ dollars in the form of indiscriminate, unwise and illegal aid according to America’s own laws. The reason? Unquestioning support for Israel’s militarised political continuum, where de jure occupation became de factoannexation, and where, according to Special Rapporteur Falk “the unbridled assault upon Palestinian rights” continues.

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How a blond American kid became a huge star in Saudi Arabia – Brian Murphy/The Washington Post

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Say the name Joshua Van Alstine in Saudi Arabia and the likely response is a blank stare.

But mention his Web-born persona, Abu Muteb, and chances are good that you will get a knowing nod or a wry smile for the baby-faced American military brat. He slings Saudi­accented Arabic, wears traditional Arabian robes, mixes comedy and commentary, and may be one of the Arab world’s most improbable celebrities.

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Breaking the Israeli Wall of Denial, One Brick at a Time – Yoav Litvin/CounterPunch

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This past Sunday (December 13th, 2015) the first Haaretz Q conference took place at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. Self-described as “an opportunity to ask and discuss the most pressing questions around Israel today and engage in a new Israeli American discussion about the future”, the conference began with keynote addresses by prominent politicians such as Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Member of Knesset (MK) and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary General Dr. Saeb Erekat. US President Barack Obama was also “in attendance”, addressing the star-struck audience via a short prerecorded welcoming address.

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Military operations in preparation in and around Syria, by Thierry Meyssan

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The Western Press doesn’t have much to say about the military operations in Syria, except to affirm, without the slightest proof, that the Coalition is successfully bombing Daesh jihadists while the Russians continue to kill innocent civilians. It is in fact difficult to form a reasonable idea of the current situation, particularly since each side is readying its weapons in preparation for a wider conflict. Thierry Meyssan describes what is going on.

The silence surrounding the military operations in Iraq and Syria does not mean that the war has ground to a halt, but that the different protagonists are preparing for a new round of hostilities.

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Discriminatory policies risk Israel’s longtime bipartisan U.S. support – Rebecca Vilkomerson/LA Times

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently been trying to mend some fences in Washington — particularly with liberal Democrats. Speaking at the progressive Center for American Progress last month, he put it bluntly: “It’s vital to understand how important it is for me that Israel remain an issue of bipartisan consensus in the United States.”

Unconditional support for Israeli policies used to be the norm in Washington from both parties. But no more. New polling by the Brookings Institution shows how deep the partisan divide has become.

As opinions shift among the Democratic base, U.S. officials increasingly are willing to risk criticizing Israel more bluntly.

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George Carlin on American Conservative Values

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Putin Throws Down the Gauntlet – Mike Whitney/CounterPunch

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Would you be willing to defend your country against a foreign invasion?

That’s all Putin is doing in Syria. He’s just preempting the tidal wave of jihadis that’ll be coming his way once the current fracas is over.  He figures it’s better to exterminate these US-backed maniacs in Syria now than face them in Chechnya, St Petersburg and Moscow sometime in the future.  Can you blame him? After all, if Washington’s strategy works in Syria, then you can bet they’ll try the same thing in Beirut, Tehran and Moscow.

So what choice does Putin have?

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