New Age Islam Edit Bureau
06 September 2016
The World Is Apparently Awash In Terror ‘Masterminds’
By Andrew Mitrovica
Practice What You Preach
By Linda S. Heard
The Syrian Setback
By Bikram Vohra
Divide and Rule Policy
By Ramzy Baroud
Why Russia Sees Bahrain As A Partner In The Middle East
By Maria Dubovikova
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
The World Is Apparently Awash In Terror ‘Masterminds’
By Andrew Mitrovica
05 Sep 2016
If you are inclined to believe much of the corporate media, the world is apparently teeming with terrorist “masterminds” – dead or alive.
I was reminded of this media concoction while digesting a spate of hyperbolic stories about the still-disputed killing of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group’s chief spokesman and the group’s alleged No 2, Abu Mohamed al-Adnani, in Syria in late August.
Before and after his reported death, Adnani was repeatedly referred to as a “terrorist mastermind” by the western press. (The White House has expressed doubts about whether Adnani was, in fact, killed in an air strike.)
Here is the London Sunday Times, for example, affixing that recycled moniker in an account of Adnani’s death and ISIL’s subsequent succession plans.
Death of Spokesman Adnani ‘A Major Blow for ISIL’
In its September 4 dispatch, the Sunday Times suggested that Adnani had achieved his vaunted status as a “terrorist mastermind” in large part because he “ran [ISIL’s] external operations group” and “he was also the architect of the group’s ‘lone wolf’ strategy.”
Lone Wolf Attacks
This may be belated news to the Sunday Times, but “lone wolf” attacks were a grisly part of the lethal terrorist handbook long before Adnani and ISIL arrived on the global scene.
In any event, for a “mastermind”, Adnani seemed adept at cribbing from other “masterminds” for the countless ways and means to kill innocent people.
The Sunday Times story, and others like it, prompted me to attempt to answer this question: How many times has a terrorist been described by western media outlets as a “mastermind”?
How many times has a terrorist been described by western media outlets as a ‘mastermind’?
Not surprisingly, a perfunctory database search revealed that “terrorist mastermind” has been employed thousands of times by scores of news organisations to describe all sorts of mostly bad guys doing bad things to good people.
The West’s list of “mastermind” terrorists is long and includes notorious, as well as many more by now obscure and forgotten, “masterminds” who are quickly succeeded by other obscure, soon-to-be forgotten “masterminds”.
This Triggered Another Question: Why?
The phrase “terrorist mastermind” has become part of the cliched vernacular of the coverage of the “war on terror” for several rarely discussed reasons.
First, and perhaps most importantly, the term is designed to ascribe unique, almost other-worldly powers to the West’s latest iteration of the “bad guys”.
The intent, of course, is to create the spectre – wittingly or unwittingly – that the West is facing an existential threat from a legion of virtual “supermen” (and superwomen, for that matter) that requires an equally unique, powerful and commensurate response.
This is the predictable rationale that often accompanies the invocation of draconian “anti-terror laws” by western governments of disparate political persuasions that are engineered, rhetorically speaking, to confront and, ultimately defeat, the terrorist “superman”.
In this context, it is instructive to note that the architect of the US Patriot Act was the reactionary Republican president, George W Bush. The architect of what still amounts to martial law in France, is the reactionary socialist president, Francois Hollande.
Indeed, in the aftermath of the Bastille Day “lone wolf” lorry attack in Nice, Hollande promptly extended – with the approval of the French national assembly – the country’s state of emergency until January 2017, despite rising popular opposition.
The same news organisations will reach for the same refrain to trumpet the killing or capture of a ‘terrorist mastermind’ as either a ‘victory’ in the latest round in the perpetual ‘war on terror’, or as having dealt a debilitating … blow…
The necessary corollary to this is that when a “terrorist mastermind” like Adnani is captured or killed, western media enthusiastically tout it as not only tangible evidence of the effectiveness and potency of the “war on terror”, but also celebrate it as affirmation of the military and legislative tools used to wage it.
Invariably, the same news organisations will reach for the same refrain to trumpet the killing or capture of a “terrorist mastermind” as either a “victory” in the latest round in the perpetual “war on terror”, or as having dealt a debilitating, verging on fatal, blow to the structure and hierarchy of the terror group du jour.
On cue, the Sunday Times claimed that Adnani’s death “was the greatest blow to date to the organisation”. Quoting one member of the ubiquitous, quote-friendly cadre of western “security experts”, the Sunday Times insisted that given Adnani’s “expertise and longevity … [he] is not likely to prove easy for [ISIL] to replace”.
No One Is Irreplaceable
The stubborn reality is that “terrorist masterminds” resemble rabbits in a big field: Once you bag one, another one quickly pops up to swap places with its departed brethren. No one, particularly in the precarious world of terrorism, is indispensable or irreplaceable.
This inconvenient truth is buried in the Sunday Times story and it is delivered by another, arguably, wiser “security expert” who resists the easy temptation to elevate Adnani to “mastermind” ranking.
“Adnani’s killing is another mile marker on the road to nowhere,” the Sunday Times quoted retired US Lieutenant-General Daniel Bolger, who led troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We kill leaders. They kill villagers over there and our fellow citizens over here. A war of attrition is an ugly thing.”
Ironically, a leaked 2009 CIA report supports Bolger’s blunt assessment. The secret study into the efficacy of the West’s High Value Target (HVT) strategy found that while occasionally upsetting and demoralising, “Insurgent groups’ succession planning, breadth and depth of military and political competence, and ability to elevate promising commanders through their ranks contribute to their resilience to HVT operations”.
Simply put, when top-tier terrorists like Adnani get killed, they get replaced in a never-ending, tit-for-tat cycle of violence.
Wars, wherever they’re fought, whenever they’re fought, for whatever reasons they’re fought, are myth-making exercises. In the so-called “war on terror”, there are few true “masterminds”, but there are many killers.
Practice What You Preach
By Linda S. Heard
6 September 2016
It is about time that the US got off its high horse on human rights and understood that taking other nations to task on their human rights record is akin to throwing stones in glass houses. The latest recipient of the seemingly obligatory lecture is China.
The US president is just one of China’s guests out of many arriving to attend the G20 Summit. Firstly, his delegation headed by Susan Rice was miffed because they didn’t get a requested moving staircase and had to disembark from their plane using a different exit, which meant poor Obama had to walk a few steps to the Red carpet.
According to the Guardian newspaper, there was a row between members of the president’s retinue and Chinese officials with one filmed saying, “This is our country; this is our airport.”
Secondly, rather than use diplomacy and respect to win over his Chinese hosts, the “Leader of the Free World” so called threatened China not to engage in “muscle flexing” in the South China Sea and he emphasized his nation’s unwavering support for human rights. “China opposes any other country interfering in its internal affairs in the name of human rights issues,” retorted President Xi Jinping, echoing the stance the stance of Cuba’s President Raul Castro during Obama’s first official visit to the island where his reception at the airport was also classed as a snub.
Acting more like a schoolteacher than someone seeking to mend bridges, Obama proudly revealed that he had “spoken frankly” to Castro on the topic of human rights, free expression and democracy. At a press conference, the Cuban president lashed out criticizing Guantanamo Bay, which is a major stain on America’s own human rights record. “We defend human rights. In our view, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and indivisible, interdependent and universal,” said Castro. Actually, we find it inconceivable that a government does not defend and ensure the right to health care, education, social security with provision and development, equal pay and the rights of children. We oppose political manipulation and double standard in the approach to human rights.”
Here’s the problem. The US uses human rights a tool with which to bash other countries that don’t conform to touted western values and human rights agencies based in the US, not to mention the UN secretariat, follow Washington’s line. Human Rights Watch, in particular, has been accused of being a revolving door for the CIA and the State Department. The tribe has now ganged-up against Saudi Arabia for the Kingdom’s intervention in Yemen to protect its borders and to return the legitimate president to that stricken country.
Moreover, there are differences in what constitutes human rights. Prime among all others is the right to life, which the Obama administration has abused with its drone program that’s killed hundreds, if not thousands of civilians.
Second is the right to shelter. A November 2015 report published by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development asserts that 565,000 Americans ¬— a quarter of them children — were living on the streets or in cars, shelters or subsidized transitional housing. New Mexico evicted homeless people from tented encampments.
Third is the right to food. Tens of US cities in 28 states have criminalized the kind-hearted who feed the homeless. A chef in Texas who’s been giving free food to the homeless for 10 years was fined $2,000 for her charitable endeavour.
Fourth is the right to live in dignity and safety. The US certainly cannot pat itself on the back on this score when police and the justice system are skewed in favour of Caucasians. African Americans get longer sentences for committing the same crime as their white counterparts, are regularly stopped and searched by police officers while a growing toll of unarmed black Americans have been gunned down or mercilessly beaten.
Fifth is the right to medical treatment. As of September, 2015, 33 million Americans were without health insurance.
Shockingly in one of the world’s richest countries 47 million Americans were living under the poverty line, according to the US Census Bureau. I happened to catch a recently aired documentary suggesting 20 million Americans were subsisting on less than two or three dollars a day, many living throughout their lives in shacks without electricity and running water just miles away from Washington D.C.
Yes, Americans do have the right to vote but how’s that working for them when they end up being forced to choose between a woman investigated by the FBI and a bigoted multiple bankrupt who claims, rightly as it happens, that the system is rigged. And they do enjoy the right of protest.
They can flood the streets, chanting slogans and waving banners but, again, what good does that ever do them? They failed to stop the Vietnam War or the invasion of Iraq. The police are still shooting first and asking questions later when confronted with an African American they judge suspicious. And in Wall Street it’s business as usual.
It’s up to every sovereign country to prioritize human rights based on religious, cultural, economic and security concerns. Looking-in from the outside through a western idealistic prism when one’s own homeland doesn’t practice what it preaches is nothing but arrogance and hypocrisy and, more, if the intended goal is to persuade a leadership to mend its ways then such interference is likely to have the opposite effect.
The Syrian Setback
By Bikram Vohra
6 September 2016
Four simultaneous car bomb and suicide attacks by Daesh in the regime-controlled territory in Syria — also patrolled by Kurds — is a major setback.
The loss of 48 lives and scores wounded is tragic in itself and it puts the clock back on the possibility of any initiative for a cease-fire and also underscores the dangers of urban warfare.
When terrorists use towns and cities to infiltrate and the citizenry becomes their armor it is almost impossible to reach a state of failsafe. Somebody will always get through and trigger mayhem.
This bleak, black Monday the smoke rises above the cities of Tartus, Hasakah, Homs and Saburra near Damascus. That Daesh was supposed to have been ‘dismantled’ from this area is evidently not true. Clearly, there are still pockets of resistance and between car bombs and suicide bombers, it seems these pockets are not insignificant and are still being nourished by support lines.
While the immediate response will be to sanitize the townships even further this is also a hazardous business because suspicion can be a very corrosive exercise. It not only creates fear and loathing in a citizenry already under bombardment but makes for a schism between them and the jackbooted military invading their privacy.
Regrettably, there is no other way out. Syria, already buckling at its knees cannot afford a series of such attacks because they would feed another surge of migrants and this time Turkey has its own problems, Greece has locked its doors and Germany’s Angela Merkel is far too into shock after her defeat in the election in Mecklenberg-Pomerania in what was obviously an anti-immigration vote pattern on her own turf.
Although she expressed brave words on the sidelines of the G20 meet in Beijing that there would be no change in Germany’s policy on immigration it stands to reason that this loss will put brakes on any influx.
The satisfaction over mop-up ops on Daesh camps on the Syria-Turkey border was negated by the Monday bombings. It is indeed regrettable that every time one feels the militants are on the back foot, they manage to engage in destruction.
In the new strategy, it becomes necessary to consider isolating the supply lines and following the money trail simultaneously.
The problem inherent in this is that the levels of disaffection even in government ranks are also tangible and predicated to the impasse between Washington and Moscow.
Divide and Rule Policy
By Ramzy Baroud
6 September 2016
Division within Palestinian society has reached unprecedented levels, becoming a major hurdle on the path of any unified strategy to end Israel’s violent occupation or to rally Palestinians behind a single objective.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman understands this too well. His tactic since his ascension to office last May is centred on investing more in these divisions as a way to break down Palestinian society even further.
Lieberman is an “extremist,” even if compared with the low standards of the Israeli military. His past legacy was rife with violent and racist declarations. His more recent exploits include taking on the late Mahmoud Darwish, Palestine’s most celebrated poet. He went as far as comparing Darwish’s poetry — which advocates the freedom of his people — to Adolf Hitler’s autobiography, “Mein Kampf.”
But, of course, this is not Lieberman’s most outrageous statement. Lieberman’s past provocations are plenty. Fairly recently, in 2015, he threatened to behead with an ax Palestinian citizens of Israel if they are not fully loyal to the “Jewish state,” advocated the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian citizens of Israel, and made a death ultimatum to former Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya.
Outrageous statements aside, Lieberman’s latest ploy, however, is the most outlandish yet. Israel’s defence minister is planning to color-code Palestinian communities in the Occupied West Bank, dividing them into green and red, where green is “good” and red is “bad;” accordingly, the former shall be rewarded for their good behaviour, while the latter collectively punished, even if just one member of that community dares to resist the Israeli Occupation Army.
A version of this plan was attempted nearly 40 years ago, but utterly failed. The fact that such appalling thinking is occurring well into the 21st century without being accompanied by international uproar is baffling. Lieberman’s color-codes will be accompanied by a campaign to resurrect the “Village Leagues,” another failed Israeli experiment to impose an “alternative” Palestinian leadership by “engaging” Palestinian “notables,” not democratically-elected leaders. Lieberman’s solution is to manufacture a leadership, which, like the Village Leagues of the 1970s and 80s, will, most certainly, be regarded as collaborators and traitors by the wider Palestinian society. But what is the “Village Leagues” exactly and will it work this time around?
In October 1978, elected Palestinian mayors, joined by town councilors and various nationalist institutions, began a campaign of mass mobilization under the umbrella of the National Leadership Committee, whose main objective was to challenge the Camp David Treaty — signed between Egypt and Israel — and its political consequences of marginalizing Palestinians.
At the time, the movement was the most elaborate and united network of Palestinians ever assembled in the occupied territories. Israel immediately cracked down on the mayors, union leaders and nationalists of various professional institutions. The national response was insisting on the unity of Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, among Christians and Muslims, and Palestinians at home and in “shattat,” or Diaspora.
The Israeli response was equally firm. Starting July 2, 1980, an assassination campaign against the democratically elected mayors ensued.
Yet, Camp David and the attempts to eliminate the nationalist leaders in the occupied territories, and the increased violence of Jewish extremists in the West Bank inspired mass protests, general strikes and violent confrontations between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces. The Israeli government moved to dismiss elected West Bank mayors, shortly after it established, in November 1981, a “Civilian Administration” to rule the Occupied Territories directly through its military. The military administration was aimed at sidelining any truly representative Palestinian leadership, and further cementing the occupation. Once more, Palestinians responded with a general strike and mass mobilization. Israel has always vied to construct an alternative leadership for Palestinians. These efforts culminated in 1978, when it established the “Village Leagues,” giving its members relatively wide powers, including approving or denying developmental projects in the occupied territories. They were armed and also provided with Israeli military protection.
But that, too, was doomed to fail as the League members were widely regarded as collaborators by Palestinian communities. A few years later, Israel recognized the artificial nature of its creation, and that Palestinians could not be mobilized to embrace Israel’s vision of permanent military occupation and superficial autonomy.
In March 1984, the Israeli government decided to dissolve the “Village Leagues.”
Not that Lieberman is an astute student of history, but what does he hope to achieve from this stratagem, anyway?
The 1976 municipal elections galvanized Palestinians’ energies to achieve unity; they rallied around common ideas and found a unifying platform in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Now, Palestinian discord is unmistakable. Fatah and Hamas’ protracted fight has fundamentally altered the nationalist discourse on Palestine, turning it into a form of political tribalism.
The West Bank and Gaza are divided, not only geographically but geopolitically as well. Fatah, which is already embattled in more ways than one, is falling into further divisions among supporters of its current aging leader, Mahmoud Abbas, and the shunned, albeit ubiquitous Mohammed Dahlan.
More dangerous than all of this is that Israel’s system of punishment or rewards have effectively turned Palestinians into classes: Extremely poor ones, living in Gaza and Area C in the West Bank, and relatively prosperous ones, most of them affiliated with the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.
From Lieberman’s viewpoint, the opportunity must be ripe for refining and re-imposing the “Village Leagues.” Whether it works in its original form or fails, it makes no difference, since the idea is to engender further division amongst Palestinians, sow social chaos, political conflict and, perhaps, duplicate Gaza’s brief civil war in the summer of 2007.
The international community should totally reject such archaic plans and destructive thinking and force Israel to adhere to international law, human rights and respect the democratic choices of the Palestinian people. Those powers that have imposed themselves as “peace brokers” and guardians of international law must understand that Israel is well-qualified to start fires, but almost never capable of putting them down. And Lieberman, of all people must not be given free rein to colour-code Palestinian communities, reward and punish as he pleases. A quick look back at history tells us that Lieberman’s tactics will fail; the question is, however, at what cost?
Why Russia Sees Bahrain as a Partner in the Middle East
By Maria Dubovikova
5 September 2016
The King of Bahrain arrives in Moscow on Monday for his second such visit of 2016. This visit is important considering, in a way, Bahrain is playing the role of the GCC’s ambassador.
Its unique position in the region, its capabilities and role permit the country deliver indirect messages to the Russian government. Russia listens to Bahrain attentively as it knows the value of the messages that are delivered and is interested in building strong ties with Bahrain as it considers the country a door to the Gulf and the wider Middle East.
The visit coincides with the ARMY-2016 international military-technical forum in Moscow, where the Bahraini delegation will reportedly ink a military cooperation agreement with
Russia. Bahrain is interested in Russia’s Mi-8/17 and Mi-26 helicopters as well as in the opening of the regional helicopter service centre. The signing of the cooperation agreement does not guarantee contracts. But the agreement opens up new opportunities for bilateral cooperation. There is no doubt that during his visit, the king will discuss issues of an economic and political nature.
For the Russian side, cooperation with Bahrain is of vital interest. Having avoid-ed severe recession, Russia’s economy is still drastically affected by the deep crisis, the prospects of which are unclear until now. The main medium-term risk for Russia’s economy is the continued slump and lack of investment. The significant loss of investment from Western countries makes an investment from the East warmly welcome. Russia is turning East is search of new markets and allies as its relations with the West have been drastically affected by se-vere tension over many issues on the international agenda and Russia’s newly active foreign policy. While its capacities in terms of investments are quite limited, the Russian market is looked upon warmly by foreign investors. However, it should be admitted that investments are quite risky.
Russia’s strong involvement in the fate of the Middle East and its return to the region make it an important partner
The risk is not the only reason cooperation can be tricky. Russian business is notoriously slow and irresponsive to neither challenges nor to opportunities. Business, political and decision-making circles have little understanding of the way things work in the Middle East and how to cooperate with it. The Bahraini case is not an exception. Thus it is important for Middle Eastern countries and for Bahrain to work on how they are perceived by Russian society and seek out suitable partners.
As for political issues, the common agenda has significantly extended in the past years. Russia’s strong involvement in the fate of the Middle East and its return to the region make it an important partner. The Western policy of imposing its will and its treatment of the Middle East as the third world is no longer acceptable for regional powers. Middle Eastern countries have accumulated enough power to permit them to claim independence on the world stage.
A Point Of Convergence
The Syrian crisis can also become a point of convergence for Middle Eastern powers and Russia, despite the contradictions in positions regarding this issue.
There is no need to expect a breakthrough or any significant agreements to be reached between the two countries during this visit.
Russia-Bahraini relations will witness a strong boost in the near future, as the bilateral agenda is more than positive. There is hope that this positive example will stimulate a further strengthening of ties between the other GCC countries and Russia.
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