Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Helping People Help Themselves

"People trust us because we don't use the people as customers or voters."
"Every failure of the system proves the idea of the anarchists to be true."
"They [refugees in dire need]  are living organisms: Kids go to school, some wee born in the squat, we've had weddings inside."
Tasos Sagris, 45, Void Network anarchist group, Athens, Greece

"We decided to do something in Athens about the refugee crisis. We had a full summer of experience under our belts and felt that refugees needed a safe space when they get to Athens, especially as the weather gets worse. From Athens, they still have a long journey ahead of them."
"The act of squatting in this building was a message to the government: It is failing everywhere and we are putting a spotlight on it."
"We are anti-authoritarians. We reject the assistance of the state, NGOs, charities and businesses."
"This is a project by the people. We believe that these are the key principles of self-organisation, and we want to take the struggle into our own hands."
Mimi, 34, anarchist, squat member
Greek anarchists provide a shelter for refugees at an abandoned government building in Athens [Sorin Furcoi/AL Jazeera)

Greeks may be living in parlous economic times, as one of the European Union's most financially troubled states, forced to live in a kind of austerity that harms Greek pride leading the population to wonder whether they'd be further ahead out of the EU, yet the country is also challenged with a huge influx of refugees and migrants from the Middle East and North Africa, and is doing what it can to cope. Even so, there are some among its citizens who are critical of what the state provides for the refugees.

State-run refugee camps are cramped and crowded, holding over 60,000 migrants and asylum seekers. They are seen to be hugely inadequate, so much so that human rights groups have condemned the camps, characterizing them as squalid and unsafe. A situation which has led Greek's anarchists to take action of their own. And that action has resulted in the anarchists responding to the plight of the refugees by providing food and shelter.

Shelter that has arisen out of their propensity to defy the norms of civil law by occupying buildings no longer in use and transforming them into squats that they now operate as abodes for refugees, alongside catering to their own needs. Refugees who are grateful for the generous space they are given and the dignity they are afforded by the privacy and concern for their well-being that the anarchists have devoted themselves to.

Austerity policies forced upon Greece by global circumstances whose recession in 2008 left the country in worse shape than many of its EU counterparts has left a government with scarce resources, where dwindling social benefits offered to citizens fail their needs. In that failing many citizens no longer have faith in their government. And so, the ranks of the anarchist class have swelled as people decide to take matters concerning them into their own hands.

Among concerns they have is the well-being of people worse off than they happen to be. Social activism perhaps serves as a restorative balm for people who discover that their dreams and aspirations have been compromised by circumstances beyond their control. And what they can control, they are dedicated to. Citizen action has now resulted in "self-managing social centers" cropping up across the country supported through private donations, from the proceeds of concerts, exhibitions and bars open to the public.

Some 250 of these "self-managing social centers" have now been established across Greece. Some of those involved have focused their attention on the provision of food and medicine handouts to alleviate poverty and the collapse of public services. Leftists and anarchists have found common cause in focusing on housing refugees which Greece became host to in 2015 since the European Union and the Balkan nations tightened their borders, leaving refugees stranded.

Even volunteers' duties at Notara are divided up according to anarchist principles and everyone participates in the work [Sorin Furcoi/AL Jazeera]

But living in 15 buildings, abandoned and now under the charge of anarchists in a burst of citizen action, the role of the anarchists has changed in reflection of what the times require. And at the present time Greeks have developed a deep distrust of authority, mostly thanks to the austerity imposed on the country wracked with debt to international creditors.

So in Athens, the centre of much of the anarchists' attention, in the bohemian neighbourhood of Exarchia squats have bee developed. Police do raid some of those squats operated by anarchists in Thesaloniki, on the Isle of Lesbos and in Athens, but not destructively, stopping short of a full crackdown, reflecting the Syriza party of leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's values.

The anarchists contend their squats are badly needed as a humane alternative to the state-operated camps. One of the Exarchia squats, a former state secondary school abandoned as a result of structural problems, is home now to 240 refugees from Syria. A chicken coop has been established on the roof. The squats become self-organized communities independent from any state enterprise and nongovernmental organizations.

Notara 'is far more organised than the camps run by the government', say volunteers [Sorin Furcoi/AL Jazeera]

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Working for the UN; Life is Cheap

"I couldn't hear her voice [on released cellphone]."
"I just heard lots of men talking in the background, not just a few but many, a group of men talking."
Elizabeth Catalan, Swedish-Chilean, sister of Zaida Catalan

"What we hope for now is an independent international criminal investigation."
"We can't depend on the Congolese government to do it."
John Sharp, American citizen, father of Michael Sharp
Zaida Catalan and Michael Sharp were kidnapped with their interpreter Betu Tshintela on 12 March. The bodies of all three were found two weeks later.
Zaida Catalan and Michael Sharp were kidnapped with their interpreter Betu Tshintela on 12 March. The bodies of all three were found two weeks later. Photograph: TT News Agency/AFP/Getty Images and Human Rights Watch

"Our colleagues in the DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo] have seen the video and we are utterly horrified at what appears to be the killing of Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalán."
UN human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani

"Our police and soldiers are accused of being implicated in the assassination of the two UN experts. That is not the case. "
"The images speak for themselves. It is not our soldiers that we see in the video executing the two UN workers but the terrorists of the Kamuina Nsapu militia."
Government spokesman Lambert Mende
People are inspired to become cogs in the wheel of human rights justice. And the United Nations appears only too pleased to take on these people eager to do their part to make the world a better place by holding corrupt governments accountable and hoping to be able to protect vulnerable civilians through their actions and the revelations they alert the world to. People like American Michael Sharp and Swedish-Chilean Zaida Catalan, both contract investigators in their mid-30s, neither of whom had received adequate training.

They travelled with interpreter Betu Tshintela, driver Isaac Kabuayi and two motorbike drivers into a remote area of Democratic Republic of Congo on March 12, close to a remote village south of Kananga to investigate violence and human rights violations attributed to the Congolese army and local militias. They were determined to find who was responsible for a massacre in the DRC. And Zaida Catalan was one determined person "Exciting development. I can maybe nail this bastard. Damn!", she wrote in her diary.

Which was not quite what happened. A cellphone video was made available through the auspices of the Congolese government and shared with authorities at the United Nations. It showed the two UN investigators barefoot among a circle of armed men; the two forced onto the ground with Mr. Sharp arguing. Shots are fired and Mr. Sharp is the first to be hit. A screaming Ms. Catalan attempts to run away, and she is then twice shot. At some point she is beheaded. When their bodies are finally discovered in a shallow grave she is headless.

They have become two more UN-dedicated figures working for humanitarian reasons and losing their lives because they were untrained, unprepared and in the wrong place at the right time, investigating local corrupt authorities who had no wish to be investigated. Two months after their deaths the United Nations put together a panel to investigate why two of their investigators were placed in such a compromised situation, and paid the ultimate price for it in their innocent zeal.

As for the Security Council, it seemed content to leave the investigation of the deaths in the capable hands of the very nation where corruption and violence has swallowed billions in a failed UN plan to usher in stability. Ms. Catalan and Mr. Sharp were focusing on the role of the Congolese government in the chaos and deaths she was investigating. Debate has arisen once again over the responsibility of the United Nations to protect people it hires for the investigation of wrongdoing; people they have a moral obligation to prepare for the job they're undertaking.

The two investigators were part of a panel of six experts whom the Security Council authorized to investigate rapes, massacres and the exploitation of vast natural resources in the Congo. In pursuit of answers to the questions consuming them, they travelled to places considered no-go zones for United Nations employees. Little training was given the independent contractors as investigators, and nor did they have health insurance, or guidance on best practices in operating in such hostile environments.

According to the Congolese government, their release of the video had a distinct purpose; to prove that it was militia fighters, not its soldiers, who were responsible for the murders. Ms. Catalan had been scrutinizing a government official for his possible role in inciting violence last year in the Congolese region of Kasai. Clement Kanku, minister of development, more latterly dismissed, held close connections with the area militia fighters and Ms. Catalan was in possession of a recorded conversation linking Mr. Kanku to mayhem in the region.

The fact that she had this evidence against him was known to Mr. Kanku. When it became known that something horrible had happened to the two investigators it took four days for the United Nations to deploy its forces from other areas of the country to begin a search.

This composite image made from photos on their respective Facebook pages shows UN workers Michael Sharp, left, and Zaida Catalan. The two are among six people missing from Congo's Kasai region since March 12, 2017.

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Monday, May 29, 2017

The Janus Faces of Islam

"Some may claim that this attack [Manchester bombing] was motivated by Islamic teachings. This could not be further from the truth. Islam is a religion of peace. The Qur'an - the holy book of Islam -- makes it clear that such attacks against innocent civilians have no basis within society and religion...."
"The actions of these terrorists are in no way reflective of the teaching of Islam. Ironically, these attacks took place just days before the start of Ramadan [attack against Egyptian Copts], a month where Muslims across the world practice discipline and engage in acts of charity and social welfare."
"This demonstrates how ISIL has gone completely against the fundamental teachings of Islam. If we fall victim to creating a xenophobic atmosphere, we will only be contributing to the hatred rampant in the world."
Excerpts from Letters to the Editor
ISIL terrorist release this among other photos of mass execution of Iraqi civilians in areas they have captured.
ISIL terrorist release this among other photos of mass execution of Iraqi civilians in areas they have captured.

Ahmadiyya Muslims are considered by mainstream Muslims, Sunni and Shia, to be apostates, not true Muslims, an offence to Islam. They, along with other minority sect Muslims, are persecuted and threatened. In countries like Pakistan it is a criminal offence for Ahmadiyya to describe themselves as Muslims; they are forbidden from entering mosques and they remain endangered, attempting to worship as Muslims.

Yet, in the West, every time there is an Islamist terrorist attack that takes place in France, Belgium, Britain, Spain or the United States, a swell of suspicion mounts as it logically would, against a religion whose adherents insist it is peaceful, but whom other exponents of its more questionable tenets give testimony through acts of grim atrocities that it is anything but a religion of peace. Islam's history is that of an ideology gaining territory by violent conquest.

And that violent conquest is a basic tenet written in its very most sacred texts, the Koran and the Sunnahs, repeating the very words and sentiments through an oral and written tradition as expressed by the Prophet Mohammad, as was dictated to him by god. The imperative to engage in jihad as a sacred trust is inviolable, an unrelenting prescription for piety among the faithful.

And those who take up the scimitar or the AK-47 to fulfill their obligations as ordained become jihadists whom those targeted view as terrorists.

For their troubles in identifying the jihadists as grim bearers of death, sowing fear and discord, sending innocents to the Grim Reaper well before their natural time, in the process of achieving martyrdom for themselves, those intoning the unforgiving descriptives of "Islamist terror", or "Islamic jihadists", or "Islamofascists" are righteously branded as intolerant, irreligious bigots, racists of the first water, named for  helpful swift identification as "Islamophobes".

Since no one enjoys being cast in the role of bigotry or racism, the nomenclature serves to silence many. And among the citizens of the West who take pride in being Muslim and practise the Ahmidiyya form of Islam, letters to the editor of newspapers crop up unvaryingly chastising society for its Islamophobia in viewing Muslims as terrorists when in reality Islam is a religion of peace and its faithful are innocent of foul deeds.

"The actions of these terrorists are in no way reflective of the teaching of Islam", they rebuke piously.

As for the actors themselves, when they spring into action, they intone the mantra "Allahu Akbar!" to give emphasis to their martyrdom-mass slaughtering enterprise. A phrase that is completely divorced from Islam, needless to say, since it has nothing to do with religion; we have that on the best authority, over and over and over again.

And as long as Muslims refuse to confront the reality of Islam's demands to the faithful of jihadist obligations, they are destined to continue pleading for 'understanding' of their religion of peace.
That peaceful religion that views all non-Muslims as expendable.

While the jihadists go on to foster through their acts of barbarous atrocities among non-Muslims ever greater public and private rejection of the tenets of such a religion enjoining the faithful to such reprehensible acts of sinister terrorism and mass slaughter. Is the recognition of Islam's dysfunction Islamophobic? So be it.

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Social Welfare, Society's Contract and Jihad

"It is an easy way for a terrorist to move forward and finance their activities at the expense of the taxpayer."
"All you have got to do is get yourself into university and then off you go."
"Often, they have no intention of turning up [to the academic courses signed up for, and paid on the public dime]."
David Videcette, former Metropolitan police detective, London

"The British system makes funds readily available to jihadist students without checks on them."
"There needs to be an inquiry."
Prof. Anthony Glees, director, Buckingham University Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies
Salman Abedi
Salman Abedi received thousands of pounds in student loans -- The Telegraph
They are popularly portrayed in the liberal press as "mad", "insane", 'lunatics", for who else would claim to be doing God's work by slaughtering innocent people? Well, perhaps people who have been exposed to a violent ideology calling itself a religion, from cradle to grave. From the time they are impressionable young children to that time when they are old enough to respond subconsciously to the ingrained need to identify with the creed that has instructed you that killing is part of your world view through your religion's sacred dictates, the indelible impression is made.

And these religion-impassioned adherents of Islam, the religion of peace, where peace reins wherever Islam does, and war is regent wherever Islam is absent, recognize their sacred duty as martyrs whose mission is to slaughter and by so doing instill the kind of fear that demands Islam be recognized as the only solution whereby that fear can be alleviated. The language of Islam includes deceit and manipulation as tools of conquest.

When in the West, make use of the Western conception of societal welfare and the language that accompanies it to acquire legitimization. And so, those who have migrated, those who have been born in the West and whose exposure to the Western way of life, incapable of dislodging the Islamic way of life consumed from cradle forward, learn to exploit what is available to them as part of the larger society, while remaining aloof from it, and using those benefits to attain their own ends.

Their ethos of self-pity that legitimizes their drive to revenge and terror is not a sign of lunacy, but one of visceral entitlement to persuade the unaware non-Muslim enablers of jihad to sympathize with their victimized state, offering them understanding and material and psychological support. While  happy to accord the title of 'racist' or 'Islamophobic' to any whose vision is clear enough to peer through the obfuscating veil of normalcy.

The welfare system in Britain and elsewhere throughout Europe that manifests itself in support for those who clearly cannot and will not assimilate toward Western social, cultural and legal status, endows the evil in their midst with generous living allowances, lest they strain themselves seeking the wherewithal to be self-supporting, even while they plot against the state that supports their right to freedom of thought and expression.

In so doing, supporting the belief of Islamists that they have the right to freedom of action, as demanded by the Koran and by the Islamist Hadiths enjoining the faithful to jihad. British taxpayer-funded student loans and benefits generously supported the Libyan Manchester bomber, enabling him to forward his plans to murder ordinary Brits in Salman Abedi's drive to martyr himself for the greater glory of Islam.

Even while he was overseas taking training in bomb-making he was receiving thousands of pounds as his personal entitlement under the British welfare system. Police, looking into Abedi's finances; how a man who had never been gainfully employed had more than sufficient funds to fly back and forth from Britain to Libya, to rent various addresses, to pay for the bomb-making equipment he planned to use to demonstrate his loyalty to Islam, have produced some uncomfortable truths.

British jihadists of which there are an estimated tens of thousands, are readily able to manipulate the welfare system along with the student loans system in Britain for the financing they require. Jihadists enrolling in university courses are not interested in becoming educated, but in collecting student loans. At least seven thousand pounds was given Abedi from the Student Loans Company when he had registered for a business administration degree in 2015 at Salford University.

Police teams have been searching the Fallowfield home of Salman Abedi for clues
Police teams have been searching the Fallowfield home of Salman Abedi for clues -- Getty Images

Another $12,000 came his way in 2016 for a new academic year. That he had already dropped out of the course, seemed immaterial. The university has 'declined' the invitation to explain whether it had informed the Student Loans Company that they should have ended funding for Abedi. And the Department for Work and Pensions too abstained from the invitation to explain whether Abedi had received benefits, inclusive of housing and income support.

He had rented a house to live in in south Manchester. And that was followed by the rental of two other properties where he could stay when he wasn't travelling back and forth to Libya, Syria and elsewhere to touch his ancestral roots and the legacy of his religion.

Abedi transferred his brother Hashim, above, £2,500 before the attack. Hashim is said to have known about the attack a month before
Abedi transferred his brother Hashim, above, £2,500 before the attack. Hashim is said to have known about the attack a month before -- Mail Onli

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Friday, May 26, 2017

The Victimization of Islamofascists

"He did what he did in revenge, and in love for Islam."
"I think he saw children -- Muslim children -- dying everywhere and wanted revenge. He saw the explosives America drops on children in Syria, and he wanted revenge. Whether he got that is between him and God."
"But still, I never thought my brother would ever do this one day. Looking at how he was with us, we didn't expect him to do what he did."
Jamona Abedi, Tripoli, Libya
Salman Abedi become increasingly violent over the course of the past year
Salman Abedi become increasingly violent over the course of the past year -- The Telegraph News
No sentiments expressed deploring the horrible act of mass murder that her brother perpetrated on innocent people, many of them children. Just a defence of what he had done; that he was so furious over purported Western hostility and violence against Islam, resulting in Muslim children dying that he consigned himself to martyrdom whose purpose would be incomplete in currying favour with Allah, without sacrificing as many kuffars as possible in the attack that no one could possibly be prepared for.

The logic behind the cultural victimhood of Muslims at the hands of the West defeats intelligence. No thoughts, and no comparison to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Muslim Sunni Syrians at the command of the Syrian regime, but a stunning insistence that it is the West that is responsible for the deaths of Muslim children. The civil war in Syria has resulted in tens of thousands of Syrian families fleeing their country of birth, and attempting the hugely dangerous sea and land crossings to escape to Europe, and tragically dying in huge numbers, in the process.

Yet the nonsensical blame of outsiders for all the ills that Muslims themselves perpetrate on one another go unnoticed. Her brother, explained Jamona Abedi, had become increasingly violent in his attitudes in lock-step with his mounting anger over Muslims being under attack in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. In suggesting that the early April bombing of a Syrian military base by the U.S. being the catalyst that drove her brother to his deadly act, it is abundantly clear that reality eludes.

Salmon Abedi was born to violent Islamofascism. The entire household was steeped in connections to Islamist jihad, with father Ramadan a vital member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, banned in the U.K. In typical fashion, as he was growing into his teens and young adulthood Salman Abedi partied, drank, used pot. Until father Ramadan uprooted his family in 2011 for a return to Libya, to fight. Ramadan and 16-year-old Salman fought in Islamist groups against Gadhafi.

Yet when the revolution  was completed, Gadhafi murdered and chaos broke out all over Libya with competing tribal militias fighting one another over the spoils of command and looting, the family returned to Britain.  By 2012 friends of Salman attempted to alert authorities about their friend's growing militarism. Soon he immersed himself in fundamentalist Islam, wore Islamic dress, prayed in the street, reciting Qur'anic verses.

On May 17 he was in Tripoli, bidding au revoir to his parents before returning to Britain. Four days later he undertook the Manchester Arena attack after buying a knapsack and withdrawing cash from his bank account. He had rented a flat in Manchester, which he left about 7 p.m. and three-and-a-half hours later detonated his sophisticated bomb, slaughtering 22 people and  traumatizing the future of another hundred innocents.

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Betraying Confidence

"If that's something that we did [U.S. Intelligence leaking classified British intelligence on the latest jihadist atrocity in Manchester], I think that's a real problem."
"If we gave up information that has interfered in any way with their investigation because it tipped off people in Britain -- perhaps associates of this person that we identified as the bomber -- then that's a real problem and they have every right to be furious."
Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat, House Intelligence Committee, U.S.

"Historically, and nearly philosophically, the U.S. and U.K. intel services follow different paths."
"The U.S. have adopted a 'zero-risk' approach meaning that the U.S. services have a much shorter trigger when it comes to stop an ongoing operation. The U.K. services play it totally differently."
"Having a U.S. leak when the situation has developed in the U.K. is nothing new."
European security official
How differently?
"The bomber had been reported to intelligence services two years ago] because [it was] thought he was involved in extremism and terrorism."
"People in the [Manchester Libyan community] community expressed concerns about the way this man [Salman Abedi, jihadi suicide bomber] was behaving and reported it in the right way using the right channels."
"They did not hear anything since [from police or intelligence services]."
Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive, Ramadhan Foundation
Police seal off Lindy Road in Manchester, England, on Thursday as the investigation into Monday night's attack continues. Greater Manchester Police are treating the explosion at an Ariana Grande concert as a terrorist attack and have confirmed at least 22 fatalities.  Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

U.S. authorities have stated that Manchester resident Abedi had been known to them. French and British intelligence services both were in possession of information that the man had been in Syria, and France's interior minister said also that Abedi had "proven" links with ISIL. The man's behaviour and his subsequent leap into history as the perpetrator of a heinous atrocity that took the lives of twenty-two innocents, and wounding up to one hundred more attending a concert in Manchester didn't spring out of the blue.

This man was known for erratic, problematic, worrying behaviour. Authorities received repeated warnings from concerned citizens, among them fellow Muslims, people from the Manchester Libyan community, Muslims who worshipped in the same mosque his father and the entire Abedi family attended, that there was a great deal not quite right with this man with his extremist mind-set and disturbing pronouncements.

On at least five occasions, it is now known, authorities had been informed that Abedi posed a danger, well before the Monday night attack in Manchester. Authorities, in fact, would have had records going back  five years previous to that infamous attack. Which would indicate that from the age of 17 forward, first as a youth embroiled in fundamentalist Islamism, then as a 22-year-old, the trajectory took this individual from troubling community member to jihadi-inspired mass murderer.

Counter-terrorism agencies were in possession of information that Salman Abedi had informed friends that "being a suicide bomber was OK", leading them to contact the anti-terrorism hotline operated by the government. So much for no one noticing among close acquaintances, nor caring about what they heard and doing nothing to deter the man from his ultimate goal. They did their part as concerned and loyal British citizens; the professional intelligence agents opted on their part, to do nothing, it would appear.

Granted, there are thousands of similar-appearing Muslims who have subscribed to the lethal brand of Islam that Islamic State now exemplifies. Granted, police pick up an average of one individual daily on suspicion of links to terrorism. Granted, it takes dozens of personnel to adequately track one suspect and there simply are not enough bodies to go around to do the job. And the British can be rather squeamish about hindering people from going about their lives without firm evidence that an attack is imminent.

But that number of concerned contacts about aberrant behaviour, and no forestalling reaction? Particularly if all those other intelligence services had similar intelligence pointing to the potential of this individual creating a danger for the public? Reassure the public by all means that such attacks are rare and unlikely and that life should go on as normal; not to relinquish the freedom to enjoy oneself and attend such events with its mass attendees creating a perfect opportunity for a determined jihadist to plan a successful mass atrocity.

The burden on the economy and on the overall social contract would be too much to bear, obviously. To exercise extreme caution at all times would be to submit to the sinister plans of the jihadists to inspire fear through causing worry about terrorist atrocities, not all of which authorities are capable of disarming before they occur. Yet the general apprehension that simmers on low burn in the subconscious of people who go about their daily lives is indeed a surrender to terrorism's dreadful impact.
Manchester Evening News -- We Stand Together

And it isn't helped one iota to know that this terrorist was well known to intelligence services. Not only known and perhaps covertly tracked, but reported repeatedly by members of the public who had some manner of social contact with the man and who were disturbed enough by his behaviour to do what once might have been unthinkable in a close-knit community; reveal the extent of their concerns to authority figures. Which discloses two things: most of that community has invested its future in Britain; and they have now good reason to doubt how seriously threats are taken.

Two personal friends of this man were so concerned they individually contacted the police counter-terrorism hotline five years earlier -- and once again last year. "They had been worried that 'he was supporting terrorism' and had said that 'being a suicide bomber was OK'," a source communicated to the BBC. Abedi had been banned from Didsbury mosque after confronting its Imam who had delivered an anti-extremist sermon, recounted 49-year-old Akram Ramadan of the Libyan community.

Mr. Ramadan understood that Abedi's name had been on a "watch list", as a result of the mosque reporting him for his extremist views to the authorities. The Didsbury mosque contacted the Home Office's Prevent anti-radicalization program. Even members of Abedi's own family had contacted British police to inform them he was 'dangerous', according to a U.S. official who felt the information hadn't been acted on.

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Trump and the Arab Peace Initiative

"Despite their frustration with Israeli behaviour regarding the Palestinians, the Gulf states recognize that Israel is a strong, advanced country with a military that could act against their common foes and that has intelligence capabilities that could mesh very well with the needs and capabilities of Gulf agencies."
Jason Isaacson, associate executive director, American Jewish Committee

"This younger generation [of Gulf State leaders] sees Israel much more in terms of practical alliances."
"So suddenly Israel is not seen in that one-dimensional term of being the occupier of Palestinian land, but rather as a potential partner against the greater evil, if you will, which is Iran."
Stephen A. Seche, executive vice-president, Arab Gulf States Institute, Washington

Suddenly -- as sudden as the change in administration of the United States of America -- Saudi Arabia is happily basking in the limelight of American trust and friendship again. In gratitude to the man who swiftly reversed the collapse of U.S. support and allegiance with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during President Obama's eight years in the White House, on impossibly short notice, the House of Saud pulled out all the stops to demonstrate their blissful satisfaction, welcoming U.S. President Donald Trump as though he were the mountain moving to Mohammad.

President Trump, it seems, feels that the Arab Peace Initiative which the Kingdom had devised as a prod to solve the Israeli-Palestinian impasse, signed by the 22 members of the Arab League in 2002 seems the likeliest solution to settling disagreements, leading to a peace agreement and a two-state solution. This is a warmed-up, cooled-down, re-warmed and rejected 'plan for peace'. Calling on Israel to withdraw to 1967 lines before it had gained the opportunity to reunite Jerusalem after yet another combined Arab military attack which failed.

In exchange for peace between the Arab states and Israel, a Palestinian state would be established in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. East Jerusalem -- the Old City of Jerusalem, the jewel in Israel's crown of its immemorial heritage, where its ancient Temples of Solomon stood and the Ark of the Covenant was venerated holding the original tablets of the Ten Commandments  -- according to the Arab League plan, to be handed over once again to Islamic stewardship (as it was when Jordan assumed that unauthorized role and Jews were not permitted entry).
Fate of Ark of the Covenant Revealed in Hebrew Text
This bas-relief image showing the Ark of the Covenant being carried is from the Auch Cathedral in France. A newly translated Hebrew text claims to reveal the locations of treasures from King Solomon's Temple and discusses the fate of the Ark itself.  Credit: Photo by I. Vassil

Also part of the onus of conditions to be met by Israel was a "just" solution to the issue of Palestinian refugees -- the original 700,000 of whom were said to have fled when Israel declared itself statehood after the UN's offer of Partition -- now grown to over six million declaring themselves Palestinian "refugees". That "just" solution has always been seen as inviting the "refugees" to return to Israel, their presence to obviously overwhelm in sheer numbers the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.

Nothing in the Arab League peace plan addresses the forgotten issue of the 800,000 Arab Jews who were summarily expelled, their properties confiscated from Arab lands when the State of Israel came into being. No compensation for them, no just solution considered, no invitation for them to return and retake possession of all that had been taken from them. The issue of the Jewishness of Jerusalem as the centre of life for ancient Israelites has its counterpart in the second most sacred place of Islam's heritage, Medina.

Medina was a place where ancient Jewish tribes had long been settled. When Mohammad was exiled from Mecca and approached the Jews of Medina to forsake Judaism for what he informed them was God's final iteration of Monotheistic piety and convert to Islam, the Jews refused. In response, Mohammad assembled his army of new-adaptees to Islam and besieged the Jewish tribes, slaughtering many, banishing many others.

Is the Kingdom prepared to exchange Medina for Jerusalem, the latter of which is declared the third most holy site for Islam? Where Islamic rulers, after conquering the city from the Christians who held it and who lived among the Jews who never left the ancient city, built their Islamic structures signifying conquest over the ruins of the second destroyed and looted (by the Romans) Temple of Solomon as though this symbolic act transformed the nature and the presence of a city ordained to Israel to one consecrated to Islam.

Under Jewish stewardship of Jerusalem, all faiths now have access to their sacred places of worship. Israeli authorities have sacrificed the right for Jews to pray at the Temple Mount to salve Muslim rage at any Jewish presence. Under Islamic rule of Mecca and Medina -- and Jerusalem, if the Arab League had its way -- only Muslims are permitted to enter those sacred precincts; non-Muslims are strictly forbidden entry.

Even as Saudi Arabia has been busy crassly destroying some of the ancient monuments held to be sacred to Islam to make room for luxurious new hotels and shopping malls.

When the Arab proposal was first announced in 2002, Israel saw no merit in it. The Arab world from the inception of Israel's renewal as a Jewish state to the present has always viewed Israel as an interloper in the Arab world, an aggressor, an usurper of Palestinian 'rights'. For the Koran states unequivocally that land once consecrated to Islam must never be permitted to fall into the hands of non-Muslims.

As for Israel's rights, there are none, but those the Arab world is now prepared, grudgingly, to permit Israel to assume, under Arab conditions.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Under Siege

"[What little is known to this date about Abedi] seems to fit into a pattern that has been seen in a number of places. A second-generation immigrant, often from a Muslim country, who cannot reconcile  his new life and that of his family with their lives in their country of origin and is somehow driven to violence."
"It also points, I believe, to the necessity for Canada and other Western countries to be concerned about -- and do more about -- the effective integration of newcomers. Better to do more before violent crimes occur."
Richard Fadden, former National Security Adviser, Harper Government

"Like many ISIS adherents, he's a young man, born and raised in Europe to immigrant or refugee parents. We've seen a lot of that in recent months and years in attacks from Belgium to France, and from Germany to Russia."
"There's obviously also a process of radicalization going on. We'll find out more as the investigation continues, but it would be surprising if he hadn't had some level of interaction, in person or online, with other radicals and terrorists."
"A suicide bomb is kind of a gold standard in terrorism, common across the globe and especially in the conflict zones of Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. Thousands occur each year."
"And yet, for those able and willing, a suicide bombing provides a  huge amount of error and mayhem, precisely as we've seen in Manchester."
Professor Alex Wilner, Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University, Ottawa
An image of what is believed to be the detonator, released by the New York Times
An image of what is believed to be the detonator, released by the New York Times.

The level of sophistication of this bomb used by Salman Abedi to detonate himself in the entrance hall of the 21,000-seat Manchester Arena to kill twenty-two people, children and adults alike, attending a pop concert, was of a type that no novice could produce. Accordingly, British intelligence feels that the bomb-maker is out there somewhere -- despite that Abedi had been to Libya and taken jihadi training there -- and planning yet another devastating attack. Spurring Prime Minister Theresa May to increase the nation's threat level advisory.

The internal threats that Europe reels under are the product of having absorbed millions of Muslims from North Africa and the Middle East over the years, under the mistaken belief that all these immigrants and refugees and asylum seekers would be so grateful to have the opportunity to live in countries where no conflict reigns, where the citizens are not considered to be disposable fodder by their dictators--  that they would happily assimilate and grasp at European values, respecting its laws and becoming model citizens.

What wasn't taken into account is that Islam is not merely a religion, but also an ideology, a total and complete way of life dictating to its faithful how they must live every second of their lives and dedicate and re-dedicate themselves in prayer to Allah five times each day. Islam, which encompasses every vestige of social, political and legal focus for Muslims also requires of the faithful that they remain true to the precepts of Islamist expansion through jihad to achieve religious and political conquest.

Muslims living in the West are nurtured on the concept of grievance, that they are victimized, sinned against by the non-Muslim world, which constantly discriminates against Islam and engages in actions meant to subvert the sacred nature of Islam through Islamophobia. The idee fixe of victimization and vengeance lingers in the subconscious and the consciousness of Muslims acting as a spur to incite to reaction to perceived slurs against Islam.

This cultural/religious/social contract serves to prepare young Muslim men in particular to yearn to extract revenge from the perpetrators of ill-will against Islam, to indulge in the covert activities that will lead to the support of violent jihad or the perpetration of it at their own hands. At the very same time, Muslims living in the West, and witnessing the reaction of non-Muslims to continual Muslim assaults, are swift to declare that terrorism has 'nothing to do' with Islam or with religion; it is a perversion of the Islam they know and love.

And the Liberal, socialized West is quick to respond by its own declaration of faith in the innocence of Islam. Exquisite care is taken not to harm the delicate feelings of Muslims by connecting Islam with terrorism even while violent jihad, a vital construct of Islamic hegemonic prosetylization reflects concisely Islam's instructions to the faithful. The latest violent eruption of hate and malevolence is doomed, like those before it, to be repeated against the innocence of the West which does its utmost to pay heed to the Muslim voices that assure that violence is not Islam's way.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Omniscient Authority

"There is a growing realization among your Arab neighbours that they have common cause with you in the threat posed by Iran."
"What's happened with Iran has brought many other parts of the Middle East towards [sic] Israel."
"I had a meeting this morning with President Abbas and can tell you that the Palestinians are ready to reach for peace. I know you've heard it before, I am telling you, that's what I do, that they are ready to reach for peace. And by meeting with my very good friend, Benjamin, [I can say that] that he is reaching for peace, he loves peace, he loves people, he especially loves the Israeli people. Benjamin Netanyahu wants peace. Making peace will not be easy. But with determination, compromise, and the belief that peace is possible, Israelis and Palestinians can make a deal."
U.S. President Donald Trump, Jerusalem, Israel
Jerusalem Post -- Trump and entourage; Netanyahu and entourage, before the Wailing Wall

President Trump was pleased to inform Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel that his august presence in the Middle East has paved the way for a final and lasting peace not only in the Middle East, but finally, between Israel and the Palestinians because at long last a master negotiator was present, and his very presence cast a great luminous light of peace and reconciliation over all belligerent parties to make of them a benevolent cast more than willing to set aside the petty differences that made them adversaries over the years.

The message to Israel in particular was that the Trump administration guarantees that the Islamic Republic of Iran will never attain a nuclear weapon, guaranteed. That being the case, as Iran remains the main irritant causing instability in the region Israel would do well to partner with its Arab neighbours in confronting the Islamic Republic. As though for the past 70 years and long before, Arab and Muslim nations hadn't one thing in common; hatred for the presence of Jews. As though the Arab League membership wasn't constantly at one another's throats. As though when expedience demands they will bow but when the situation changes, so do the attitudes.

Saudi Arabia's relaxation of its traditional hostility to Israel owes entirely to the fact that after a stream of conflicts from the combined armies of the Arab League led to humiliating failure where Israeli military skills outmatched those of the invading Muslim nations had them 'respecting' the Jewish state's conflict skills and fearing the consequences of continued violent hostilities. But if those formidable fighting skills could be turned against Aryan (non-Arab) Iran, it would be all to the good. The enemy of Sunni Islam threatens not only Arab primacy, but Jewish existence.

This is the juncture where the enemy of my enemy transforms the enemy capable of withstanding the onslaught of the enemy harbouring grandiose schemes of elevating its prominence, dominance and threat level to conquest heights, makes a friend whose resources of survival can be acceptable as long as it makes gains for the entire Arab world. And Prime Minister Netanyahu recognizes his nation's opportunity to influence its former adversaries in the mutual battle against a common enemy.

Yet that is a separate issue from the divisive one of mutual cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians simply for the reason that the Palestinians have gained the impression that much is owed them, and it is Israel that must make all the concessions, none required by the Palestinians. And there is this about the culture of the Arab Middle East; concessions are ultimately viewed as symptoms of weakness.

The greater the concessions the weaker those making them and the more demands can be made of them, until there is nothing left to demand and the command goes to the partner in the conversation who made demands that were agreed to by a reasonable wish to achieve peace. Peace to one negotiator is characterized by a cessation of violent acts against its people by perpetrators incited by its 'partner for peace'. While peace to the partner for peace is deciphered as having succeeded in obtaining all demands, leaving nothing whatever for the whimpering loser to collect and slink off with.

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In Mao's Blessed Memory

"There once were many churches in Changsha, but many were knocked down."
"Mao was a son of Changsha. And emperor. The most successful man in China. So he's a great asset to Hunan and Changsha."
"Belief in the party has died, and everything today turns on advantage and disadvantage."
"Under such conditions, people don't care about anything, really. Mao is fine. Christianity is fine. It's all kind of irrelevant."
Tan Hecheng, author, The Killing Wind, Changsha, China
Christian Theme Park

Blueprint of Xingsha Ecological Park, with the Xingsha Church in the middle of the park.: So far the largest Christian theme park in Southern China.(Representational Photo)

The Xingsha Protestant Church is being newly constructed within a park in Changsha, China. When completed the church will have a height of 80 meters. And atop the church will be a large cross. "Going for Christianity in a big way damages our nation's ideological security" Zhao Danyang posted on the website Red Morality Think Tank. And a controversy was born. And then suddenly it was gone as officials took charge.

Only in China would news reports disappear from the Internet. And as far as the capital of Hunan Province, Changsha residents are concerned, there is nothing perturbing them with the juxtaposition of Christianity and Communism. The Communist state had done its best to suppress all religion up to Mao's death and beyond. But it does officially recognize Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Taoism and Islam.

An estimated 60 million Protestants stubbornly linger in a nation of 1.4-billion souls. And in Changsha, official Protestant churches have roughly 100,000 members. Changsha is not just any ordinary Chinese city. It is where Mao Zedong was brought up, attended school, and the first stirrings of revolutionary Communism entered his awareness. It is where he organized student and worker strikes, shaping a peasant movement later to take China by storm.

His personal belief was set; the Chinese must prevail, become assertive about their futures. And in the process discard the imperialists and missionaries. Christianity, after all, is not an indigenous religion of China. China is ancient, its heritage rich and diverse, its culture and values set long before Christian missionaries challenged traditional Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism for adherents. Christianity's mission to convert as many Chinese as possible took place at a time when Chinese strength was in the descent. The religion did not reflect the region's culture; it was entirely alien.

When, much later, Communism (yet another import) as a state ideology was embraced, it was the enemy of all religion, the 'opium of the masses', and a campaign to tarnish and destroy religion in China took place as it did in Russia. The Chinese Cultural Revolution was a brutal, socially destructive upheaval that destroyed the cultural heritage of the nation and demolished places of religious worship. Since Mao's death in 1976, the country has undergone a massive change while retaining a version of Communist rule, tinctured with capitalism.

Now, the city where Mao remains venerated, is hosting the construction of a church whose height far outstrips a nearby monument to Mao, and it is this that has occasioned mumblings of resentment where worshippers of Mao's memory railed with outrage against the size and symbolism of a church that their hero at one time decried as foreign to China's heritage and offensive to its new ideology of Communism. One can hardly blame them, but this is a new, more tolerant China in many ways.

But Mao Zedong is China's most famous and favoured son whose wisdom and charisma brought immense change to China while incidentally causing the country to turn inward upon itself, devouring itself in a cataclysmic miasma of accusation and violence where millions died as the nation restructured itself ideologically. The memorial to Mao, the sculpture depicting him as a young man, stands 32 meters tall, 15 kilometers west of where the new church stands at 80 meters in height.

An insult to his hallowed memory.

A 32-metre (105 feet) statue of late Chairman Mao Zedong in his youth is seen under construction in Changsha, Hunan province, China: New statue of Chairman Mao surprises China
A 32-metre (105 feet) statue of late Chairman Mao Zedong in his youth is seen under construction in 
Changsha, Hunan province, China Photo: REUTERS

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Monday, May 22, 2017

America: The Prodigal Sun

"This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life and decent people, all in the name of religion, people that want to protect life and want to protect their religion. This is a battle between good and evil."
"That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds."
U.S. President Donald J. Trump, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

"This administration is committed to a 180-degree reversal of the Obama policy on Iran." 
"They see the Iranian threat as fundamentally linked to the nature and behavior of the regime and its revolutionary and expansionist ideology."
Mark Dubowitz, chief executive, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Washington

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, center, President Trump and others during a sword dance Saturday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

This new American president does nothing that previous American presidents newly installed in the White House have always done. Their first courtesy travels outside their nation have been to near neighbours as though to emphasize the diplomatic, social and trade relationships inherent in that neighbourliness. Instead, this new president put Canada and Mexico on notice that he is personally hugely dissatisfied with the trade relationship between all three in the North American Free Trade Agreement that served all three nations well, and integrated their economies.

While they're left confused and stewing in the wake of a man whose attention span and volatile attitudinal changes leave heads spinning everywhere, the new president decided in a whirlwind tour of the Middle East, the Vatican and Europe. Saudi Arabia is accustomed to other nations grovelling to it, but in this instance it was giant billboards with portraits of Donald Trump and fawning newspaper coverage of the First Lady that ingratiated the Kingdom to the American president; a billionaire-to-billionaire type of mutual admiration.

Old habits are hard to shake, and Saudi Arabia has been long accustomed to being the pet Middle East nation of America. When former President Obama shook his leg at Saudi clinging, preferring Tehran's cranky, nuclear-loving tyrants he pitted majority Sunnis against minority Shias and left traditional allies stunned. His successor appears to be reversing that trend. And calling on Saudi Arabia to rouse itself and its Sunni neighbours to form a Middle East-style NATO capable of facing Islamist terror and routing it.

Fact is, Saudi Arabia has assembled a Sunni coalition and it is humbling Yemen's Houthis in a proxy Saudi-Iran conflict battering the most impoverished of Arab Muslim countries. Fact is also that the Middle East already has its NATO. It's called the Arab League. It also has its Muslim United Nations, called the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which fairly well manages the United Nations, nudging it toward the OIC's point of view as Islam's interestsprevailing above all else.

While decrying the malevolent intent of the Iranian Ayatollahs, of Tehran's aspirations and support of terrorism as long as it expresses Shiite-Muslim interests, a blind eye as usual is turned toward Saudi Arabia's and Qatar's exportation worldwide of fundamentalist, destructive Wahhabist Salafist Islam breeding terrorist enclaves wherever oil wealth has invested in mosques and madrassas throughout North Africa, Europe and North America.

Donald Trump, American President, seems enamoured of Vladimir V. Putin's style of governance; he also assumes an attraction toward sharing intelligence with Russia, as a partner for peace in the world, and as a Utopian dreamscape, that's quite wonderful. On the other hand, naming Iran as the devil and once again courting Saudi Arabia, a proxy chess game appears to be unfolding, with the United States restoring its credentials with Sunni Islam, while Russia has firmly ensconced itself within the bosom of Shiite Islam, consorting with Syria and Iran.

There are so many levels of overlapping interests and confounding turnabouts with this new president who belabours the absurdity that he is the least bit interested in the man-on-the-street in America, putting the population to work again, restoring wealth that never left, and jobs that the man-on-the-street forfeited for the pleasure of buying cheaper products made in China, one's head spins.

So here we have it; no one produces more military hardware than U.S.-based arms-production multinationals, and the trip to Saudi Arabia came with a pricetag in the realm of an estimated $350-billion total of arms sales.

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Jerusalem, Holy Site of Peace and Brotherhood

"How it affects one to be cheated in Jerusalem. [It] looked exactly like arid rocks, the desolation of the land."
"The colour of the whole city is grey and looks at you like a cold grey eye in a cold old man."
Herman Melville, American writer, 1856

"[Jerusalem has] become a pauper village. No landscape exists that is more tiresome to the eye than that which bounds the approaches to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is mournful, dreary, and lifeless. Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes."
"A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds ... a silent mournful expanse ... we never saw a human being on the whole route ... hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country."
"These unpeopled deserts, these rusty mounds of bareness that never, never, never, do shake the glare from their harsh outlines…; that melancholy ruin of Capernaum: this stupid village of Tiberias, slumbering under six funereal palms. … A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action. … We reached [Mount] Tabor safely. … We never saw a human being on the whole route."
Mark Twain, American writer, 1867
INSERT DESCRIPTIONA cartoon from American Publisher in 1872, showing Mark Twain on the trip to the Middle East described in his “Innocents Abroad.”

"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants."
British consul, 1857, Palestine

Three thousand years ago ancient Hebrews saw their leader, King Solomon, build a magnificent Temple in which to worship their god, as a monotheistic people. The City of Jerusalem, where the Temple of Solomon was built was Jewish, the city-seat of the nation of ancient Israel. There were two iterations of that Temple; the first destroyed by the Babylonians, the second by the Romans.Titus, who had led the Roman military in sacking Jerusalem and destroying the Temple, later became emperor inheriting the throne from his father, Emperor Vespasian.

As time went on and centuries passed, Jerusalem, through its connection to Jesus Christ, the Jewish man of gentle wisdom who preached a new faith, became a revered site of Christianity. The Emperor Constantine, (the Great) following his mother Helena's example, became a devout Christian. On his orders the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built in 326 A.D. to memorialize the site of Christ's tomb in Jerusalem, becoming the holiest place in Christendom. Jerusalem became renowned as a centre for Christian scholarship.

The Byzantine Empire defended Jerusalem from Arab Muslim conquest in 636 A.D. but was unable to halt the advance of militant Islam, and Jerusalem became an Arab/Muslim possession. The Crusades that followed succeeded in slaughtering more Jews living in Jerusalem as well as the Christian and Muslim combatants until Saladin, a Muslim Kurd, succeeded in vanquishing the last of the Christian Crusaders in 1187 and once again the Holy Land was consecrated to Islam.

In Islamic law, land once consecrated to Islam must never be permitted to fall into non-Muslim hands. Islam dictates that the European lands, most emphatically in Spain and elsewhere and certainly in the Middle East, where Israel now sits as it did historically, must be returned through combat, to Muslim rule. When the Crusaders were repelled it seemed as though the caliphs ruling from Constantinople became disinterested in Jerusalem and it fell into ruin; conquest and re-conquest established, but like a fertile field ignored, it fell fallow.

For the next thousand years the fabled city was in a state of disuse and decay. And this is how it appeared to Mark Twain one hundred and fifty years ago; a land sterile of people, abandoned and sere; unproductive. And while Muslims claim that Jerusalem represents the third holiest site to Islam there is no mention of Jerusalem whatever in the Koran. Under Muslim rule the city became mostly "grasse, mosse and Weedes" as a British tourist put it in an account dating from 1590.

The empire that reflected Muslim rule neglected Jerusalem entirely; it became a backnote to history of little interest to Islam. By the time Mark Twain visited Jerusalem, impoverished Jews were the main inhabitants of the ancient city. Jerusalem is made mention of 349 times in ancient Jewish scriptures while Zion is mentioned 198 times, whereas there is no mention whatever in the Koran of Jerusalem. The City of Jerusalem had no appearance in the 1964 Palestine Liberation Organization National Covenant.

After the Six-Day War in 1967 when the Israel Defence Forces won the battle to recapture the Old City and gained access to the Temple Mount, the PLO altered its covenant to mention Jerusalem, suddenly appearing politically relevant to its leaders. In an act of diplomatic sensitivity Israel, in the interests of moderation, agreed to allow Jordan to continue administering the Islamic affairs of the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque through the Waqf which it controls.

Despite UNESCO's re-writing of history alongside the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Jerusalem is Israel's undivided capital, the Temple Mount is the most sacred site in Judaism, and claims of ownership entitlement by Arabs and Muslims represents a sacrilegious re-writing of history to closely align with Islamic law declaring land once Islamic must always be Islamic, irrespective of it having been wrenched from other prior claims by Judaism and Christianity.

Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount during Sukkot, October 23, 2016. (Facebook Page: Students for the Temple Mount)

Israel, in the interests of broader cooperation, has agreed to the Waqf's demands that no Jews be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount, which Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary. Jews approaching the Temple Mount are often jeered by Muslims, have rocks thrown at them, and are otherwise harassed. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, speaks of Jewish presence 'defiling' the Noble Sanctuary. Muslims are incited to violence against Israeli Jews for daring to inflict their presence on what Muslims regard as their third holiest site, the first most sacred site in Judaism.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Another Successful Foreign Visit By Erdogan

"We should throw their ambassador the hell out of the United States of America."
"This is the United States of America. This isn’t Turkey, this isn’t a Third World country, and this kind of thing cannot go un-responded to diplomatically."
U.S. Senator (Arizona Republican) John McCain  

"What we saw yesterday -- a violent attack on a peaceful demonstration -- is an affront to DC values and our rights as Americans. I strongly condemn these actions and have been briefed by Chief Newsham on our response."
"The Metropolitan Police Department will continue investigating the incident and will work with federal partners to ensure justice is served."
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser
turkey protest washington DC
A view of a protest that turned violent outside the Turkish embassy in Washington D.C., May 16, 2017. Screenshot via VOA Turkish
"Agents of foreign governments should never be immune from prosecution for felonious behavior."
"To send a clear message that these acts of violence will not be tolerated, I ask that you [Tillerson] immediately look into this matter and bring all appropriate criminal charges before these individuals leave the United States."
Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) chairman, House Foreign Affairs Committee
"The violent response of your security detail to peaceful protesters is wholly unacceptable and, unfortunately, reflective of your government’s treatment of the press, ethnic minority groups and political opponents."
"On May 16, 2017, members of your security detail allegedly broke through police lines and violently attacked a small number of protesters outside of Ambassador Kılıç’s residence, wounding at least nine people. Yesterday’s attack, however, was not a isolated incident. Last year some of your supporters and members of your security detail violently clashed with protesters and members of the media at the Brookings Institution."
"The actions of your staff violate the constitutional protections of freedom of the press and freedom of assembly enjoyed by all Americans. Your staff’s blatant violation of these rights on American soil is an affront to those freedoms, and reflects poorly on your government. We have long supported Turkey as a member of NATO, and a key US ally in the region, and we expect conduct more appropriate to our decade’s long partnership."
"We cannot turn a blind eye to these actions at home, and we urge you to hold accountable those members of your staff who violently attacked peaceful protesters in our nation’s capital."
US Senator John McCain and Senator Dianne Feinstein

Clearly, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has studied very carefully Western etiquette and diplomacy and found it wanting. Not for him, advice on how to make friends and influence people. His position alone and his religious conviction renders him immune to the normal constraints that convince most people they would do well to refrain from unleashing upon critics the full extent of their powerful wrath and malevolent intent to harm those that insufficiently respect his august person and the office he holds.

In Ankara is it possible that any citizens would mount a protest criticizing the baleful autocracy of a man whose corrupt manipulation of a NATO-linked nation, intent on consolidating his power base at the expense of the continued illusion that Turkey is a democratic country viewing all its citizens equally and with the respect due them? Turks know full well that any such engagement in civil unrest would net them a tenure in an overcrowded prison system, already burgeoning with the presence of those Erdogan accuses of loyalty to his political-religious nemesis.

One of the purposes inherent in his trip to Washington to confer with President Donald Trump was to air grievances that Fethullah Gulen remains out of his grasp, living in the United States, to urge Trump to extradite him so he can be tried for crimes against the Turkish state of sedition, seeking to unseat Erdogan and remove his Justice and Development Party from power. Equally fiercely troublesome to Erdogan is the new administration's decision to finally arm the Syrian YPG, the Kurdish fighting group recognized as the single-most effective militia fighting Islamic State.

According to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, a mouthpiece for Erdogan, Brett McGurk, the American envoy to the US-led coalition against Islamic State is "definitely supporting the YPG in Syria", along with Turkey's Kurdish militias, the separatist PKK. President Erdogan would be enormously pleased were his American counterpart to heed his concerns and remove the offending Mr. McGurk, to replace him with someone who views the Kurds as Erdogan does -- terrorists.

Terrorists who fight jihadists roiling the greater Middle East. As opposed to the terrorists posing as presidents who attack and slaughter their own citizens.

It is entirely possible that Mr. Erdogan's argument was sufficiently convincing to Mr. Trump; the two do have, after all, quite a lot in common in their outlook regarding their positions and their very personal entitlements. For Mr. Cavusoglu reports that Mr. Erdogan had been assured once the military operation in Raqqa has succeeded in retaking the city from Islamic State, plans are to return the city to the local Arabs, not the Kurds who consider it a rightful gain reflecting their courage and their sacrifices on behalf of their own populations living there.

recep tayyip erdogan turkey protest washington
Security agents surround Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's vehicle in Washington, DC. Screenshot via Voice of America Turkish
President Trump appears to have felt his meeting with Erdogan went very well. President Trump is particularly amenable to hearing himself praised fulsomely. And Mr. Erdogan was unstinting in his praise knowing full well that like himself, someone like Trump responds well to a show of admiration and respect. Blandishments accomplish much; in return for compliments one responds by offering to agree to at least some of what a petitioner asks for. Mr. Gulen's fate remains unknown. The YPG will know in good time whether their unremitting loyalty to a shared cause with the U.S. will be acknowledged.

And Mr. Trump has not yet responded to the Turkish-style public relations scenario that took place outside the residence of the Turkish Ambassador to the United States, once the state visit between the two Presidents had concluded. The outrage expressed by Americans and their political leaders over this display of goonish arrogance by Turks in another country they happen to be visiting does not resonate well. On the other hand, Mr. Erdogan orchestrated casually what Mr. Trump might himself like to do, if he felt he could, without consequence.

Image: Violent clashes broke out between protesters and supporters of Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan
Violent clashes broke out between protesters and supporters of Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan outside the Turkish ambassador's residence in Washington. VOA

President Erdogan's security guards did not, of their own volition, belligerently confront that group of protesters outside the Turkish Ambassador's residence to express their disgust with Ankara's interventions in Syria and Erdogan's targeting of Kurds, let alone domestic affairs in firing tens of thousands of civil servants, police, military officers, lawyers, journalists and others whom he accuses of having taken part in the summer of 2016 attempt at a putsch. A video has surfaced showing without doubt that Erdogan dispatched his security guards to confront the protesters and violently attack them.

Washington police repeatedly instructed the Turkish president's security guards to stand back and desist, and they simply ignored those orders. It was left to the Washington police to attempt to separate the antagonists and to protect the protesters from the clear violence that was being directed against them by these foreign visitors on a diplomatic mission to impress Americans. The result was that eleven people were injured, nine of them sufficiently seriously to be taken to hospital. And most certainly, an impression was made. And duly noted, throughout the world.

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