Politic?

This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Seizing Opportunistic Influence

"The initial perception in Moscow is that we were making a complete mess of the Middle East, beginning with the invasion of Iraq, and then the invasion of Libya, and our giving [Egyptian president Hosni] Mubarak a push."
"In the Russian reading of all of this, the end result of American action is always to exacerbate the chaos and to empower radical jihadist forces who are hostile to Russian interests as well as to American interests." 
"We ended up tying ourselves in knots in Syria. We committed ourselves unambiguously at first to the prospect that Assad had to step down, but we didn't provide the force that would require him to do that. So our initial policy was pretty much a failure."
"As the conflict has dragged on and our options have looked less and less palatable, we've begun accommodating ourselves to the Russian view."
Jeffrey Mankoff, deputy director, Russia and Eurasia Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C.

"Russia now presents itself to the rest of the world as a preserver of the status quo and a supporter of existing regimes."
"[The Kremlin's support of Assad represents] wanting to ensure that you don't have more Arab Spring-type movements in the Middle East, and then that they don't come home."
"Because of what Russia is doing in Syria, primarily, he [Putin] gets all these meetings, and people see Russia as a major player. [Putin is] using that leverage to force the West to go back to dealing with Russia."
Angela Stent, professor of government and foreign service, Georgetown University
Boris
AP

The abyss of deadly cruelty that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has launched with such huge success on his own people has had not an iota of the restraint of conscience on Russian President Vladimir Putin. The reason is obvious enough; each of these two men believe that expunging any possibility that rebellion can succeed to fully destabilize a nation's administration -- however inept, corrupt and miserable that administration may be -- is not to be countenanced.

In their joint view rebellion is tantamount to terrorism, and they deal with the symptoms coldly and with the efficiency of instinctive murderers.

The unfurling of the banners of dissent and the compulsion of citizens who decry their state of bondage to rebel are extremely perturbing to tyrants so that their move toward supporting one another becomes a common cause; what can derail one administration can impact on the other. And since the United States which had up to the present administration always had a stabilizing effect on those regimes that bordered on tyranny, finding common cause through those nations' oil reserves, suddenly deciding that withdrawal was to become the new U.S. policy, that vacuum begged to be filled.

Where the USSR once had influence equal to and surpassing that of the United States in the Middle East, then receded as the U.S. stepped up its campaign for influence, the tide has now turned in the opposite direction, with Russia eclipsing the U.S. A situation made easy for Vladimir Putin since Barack Obama decided his nation would withdraw its monopolistic power presence, turning over a new leaf, and Mr. Putin determining this opportunity to possess a new leaf of his own would suit his power politics play very well.

At least four incendiary submunitions burn on the ground of a narrow street in the al-Mashhad neighborhood of opposition-held east Aleppo
Malek Tarboush   At least four incendiary submunitions burn on the ground of a narrow street in the al-Mashhad neighborhood of opposition-held east Aleppo

Playing the chess game of influence and power with Washington, Moscow manipulated the Obama administration easily since it was an administration suffering lassitude of disinterest, surrendering its authority to Moscow's burgeoning interest in opening a new front in the Middle East. Leading the U.S. from its original opinion that Bashar al-Assad must, for the sake of humanity, be removed from the presidency, to the point where one feint was bypassed at solving the wretchedness that Syria had become by threats of retaliation, to doing nothing to help Syrian Sunnis withstand the deadly withering attacks by their government.

The Kremlin is not in the business of doing nothing; deploying its bombers and its personnel in Syria it has launched its common cause plan of nomenclature, transforming rebel Syrian Sunni militias into terrorist jihadists, the alteration in descriptive language enabling Moscow to emulate Damascus, utilizing the deadly fury of their bombs to destroy the ambitions of Syrians wishing to mount an effective removal of their mass-murdering president, to install a government of fair and equal judgement. In the process Moscow gained another deep-sea port and Middle East airstrip.

Putin's successful manoeuvring of the Obama administration into reluctantly accepting that the man they wanted removed for the greater good of a reconstituted Syria, could, after all, remain in his position, despite the barrel bombs, the chlorine gas attacks, the deadly, life-stifling sieges, the hatred compelling Shiites to slaughter Sunnis to the tune of a half-million deaths in a five-year span of tribal-sectarian bloodlust, speaks of his exploitative skills. The purpose behind the purging of Syrian Sunnis is to restore a level of stability.

Uprisings and revolutions are not to be countenanced, irrespective of the social and political reasons that generate them, for they are disruptive of continuity and generally represent upheaval in politics and between nation-to-nation relations. Just as Vladimir Putin dealt with the Ukraine uprising by supporting the ethnic Russian rebels and conspiring against the Ukraine regime straining toward the West, by depriving it of Crimea, he has turned the opposing face in relation to Syria; an ally dependent on Russian aid is supported and the rebels consigned to deadly attacks suitable for dealing with terrorists.

Syrian Civil war
A Syrian man carries his son to a field hospital after airstrikes hit Aleppo  Getty Images

So it is perfectly legitimate to target the White Helmets group dedicated to rescuing civilians from Russian air strikes in eastern Aleppo, just as flying over Aleppo to release chemical agents to target any Syrians hapless enough to live where the rebel militias control neighbourhoods passes muster with Mr. Putin. If, after all, hospitals and schools in Aleppo can be considered useful targets to deliver a message of surrender or die; live and continue to be violated by a conscienceless regime, then what's wrong with dealing death to civilians, fifty percent of whom turn out to be children?

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Civilization? What Civilization?

"We are living on the last of the aid, and the last of the vegetables that came from the countryside. There is no milk, no cheese, nothing."
"None of us have cooking fuel ... so we make bonfires outside."
Om Majed KaMran, 58, Aleppo

"We will continue to defend our people in Aleppo and our existence. We will not surrender. We will repel them."
"Aleppo will remain free of Assad, his sectarian militias, and thugs."
Nour el-Din el-Zinki, insurgent group, Aleppo

"American officials -- they say something in the morning and they do the opposite in the evening.  We cannot take them at their word, to be frank."
"We don't listen to their statements, we don't care about it, we don't believe it."
Bashar al-Assad, Damascus

"This has been a tremendous success for Russia across the board -- I don't see why they would want to bring this [their aid to Assad in destroying Aleppo while slaughtering Sunni Syrians] to a close."
"Not only in fighting terrorism, killing Russian jihadis, and re-establishing a role in the Middle East, but sticking a finger in the eye of Washington."
David Schenker, director, Program on Arab Politics, Washington Institute
Two men sit on an old couch looking at the rubble around them.
The aftermath of an airstrike near Aleppo on the weekend. (AFP)

Bunker-busting bombs flown by the Syrian airforce and reinforced by Russia's airforce are being deployed in civilian areas in rebel-held Aleppo. Bunker-busters would be most useful in areas where people attempt to shelter themselves in subterranean havens like bomb shelters. The bombs' notable capability in destroying reinforced underground chambers hugely useful as measure to destroy an enemies' defences, and useful to the Assad regime in directly targeting civilian enclaves, in a new version of a burnt-earth policy of total destruction.

It appears that fully 50 percent of the victims of the vicious bombardment that was initiated on Wednesday in an all-out attack have been children already suffering deprivation resulting from months of siege. As Syrian and Russian jets continue to blast Aleppo preparatory to a ground assault, the Syrian rebel volunteer civil defence White Helmets has mobilized all their resources to rescue whomever they can from the hellfire and the rubble, and in the process have themselves become targets of regime attacks. Of their four action centres, three have been destroyed.

"The White Helmets are completely exhausted. Aleppo is being burned", civil defence volunteer Ammar al-Selmo despaired. "I have not seen in my life such bombardment. It is very, very intense", Ibrahim Alhaj, a Syrian Civil Defence member stated. And to complete the picture of a people whose existence is being obliterated as the world watches and the United Nations twists its hands in hapless inadequacy to yet another demonstration of grand-scale atrocities, Abdulkafi Al-Hamdo, a teacher in Aleppo said "This means welcome to hell. We expect extermination."

The bombardment has identified in its focus its clear and unequivocal intentions, targeting residential areas, infrastructure and civil defence centres for a complete sweep of whatever is left of the residents' and the rebels' defences and desire to surmount this grim threat to their existence. There is little mystery to the purpose, while a Syrian military official confirmed the continuation of airstrikes and shelling until the operation is prepared to expand into a planned ground invasion of the Aleppo districts held by the rebels.
Airstrikes on Aleppo have causing widespread destruction that has overwhelmed rescue teams
Airstrikes on Aleppo have causing widespread destruction that has overwhelmed rescue teams Photograph: Thaer Mohammed/AFP/Getty Images

Leaflets were dropped by the military over the city, urging regime opposition members' surrender; to take advantage of an limited-time-offer amnesty for fighters agreeing to surrender their arms. "The belt is getting tighter around you. Surrender now or you will meet your inevitable destiny". The leaflet came complete with a photograph of a bearded militant lying dead, a rocket-propelled grenade beside him.

A prolongation of the most recently-failed ceasefire is out of the question, since Assad 'doesn't trust the Americans'. As though he imagines himself loftily trustworthy in any index of human empathetic conviction, as though he cares for the welfare of the population of Syria beyond those who cravenly support him in his lust for continued power and pathology of vengeance he exerts toward those who have the criminal audacity to question his divine right to rule and to ruin.

Just as the Syrian regime feels itself to be beyond reproach for its belief that it is emulating the Israeli military when it rains leaflets beforehand, down on areas it plans to assault, to warn residents to remain clear of targeted areas, the Syrian military equates that effort to save civilian lives with its extended warning to Syrian rebels complete with gruesome retribution striking "paid" for daring to offend the Syrian Shiite Alawite regime by contesting its legitimacy. The Israeli leaflets offer life, the Syrian ones, death.

Assad scorning what he terms as American inconstancy as though the United States administration and its military have negotiated poorly with his blameless administration, represents a mind-boggling mental challenge in and of itself. Is he complaining that the U.S. administration that warned of consequences to follow should the "red line" of chemical weapons be used, never followed through when Assad ordered their use, killing hundreds of Syrian civilians, turning the other way rather than making good on their threat?

While the United Nations declares criminal acts on a grand scale by a brutal totalitarian regime, no one powerful nation and no group of confederate nations would pledge to confront the barbarians to protect a people whose ruler loses no opportunities to slaughter, a clique of grimly conscienceless nations like Russia, Iran and Lebanon have become deadly co-predators with no opposition. Five years of civil war with each year of the odious Assad destroying 100,000 lives represents a monumental toll, growing still, of lives lost, with no end in sight.
A Syrian man looks at a heavily damaged building following air strikes on rebel-held eastern areas of Aleppo.
 A Syrian man looks at a heavily damaged building following air strikes on rebel-held eastern areas of Aleppo. (AFP:Karam Al-Masri)

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Rejecting Liberal Democracy for Islamist Theology

"We don't know his particular ideology or what his inspiration was or whether he was directed or whether he was inspired."
U.S. law enforcement official

"Man, it was crazy. The only way I could describe it was like a scene in a movie."
"I was just driving along and shots rang out and I didn't know what to do."
Mosetta Noregula, bystander, New York takedown

"The dad and him would always be together at the shack [family takeout chicken restaurant], just them two."
"They never hired people; it was just the father and the son all the time."
Joshua Sanchez, 24, Elizabeth, New Jersey neighbour
Rahami arrest
Ahmad Khan Rahami arrested after a shootout with police Credit: Ed Murray/Barcroft Images
Father and son, united in their belief that they were discriminated against, as Afghan refugees, living in New Jersey for the past dozen years. Citing having been told by one person that Muslims are trouble-makers in America, that they don't belong in the United States, as proof-positive that they were victims of Islamophobia. Muslims everywhere seem to revel in their status as victims. "Islamophobia" is the social pathology that they claim they suffer under.

And of course that has little to do with the ongoing blight of Islamist terrorism freighting the non-Muslim and Muslim world alike.
Mohammad Rahami
Mohammad Rahami (centre) speaks with the FBI outside of his home Credit: Justin Lane/EPA
But it was Mohammad Rahami, the father of Ahmad Khan Rahami who first alerted police back in 2014 that it was his impression that his son was a terrorist, and an FBI investigation that was subsequently conducted, gave the younger man a clean bill of health. The father's warning effectively unheeded. "Two years ago I go to the FBI because my son was doing really bad, OK? But they check almost two months, they say, ‘He’s OK, he’s clean, he’s not a terrorist.’ I say OK. Now they say he is a terrorist. I say OK." 

The family operated a 24-hour fried-chicken shop. Neighbours took to complaining to city authorities about the noisy groups gathering at the shop after midnight, leading the city to pass an ordinance to make it illegal for the restaurant to host a rowdy crowd in the small hours of the morning, disturbing the community, but the family chose to ignore the order, Predictably, this too was viewed by them as harassment occasioned by prejudice against Muslims.

It seemed fairly obvious that the family experienced difficulties in adjusting to a different culture and a new way of life predicated on another society's values, even those as slight as respecting their neighbours' right to object to loud disturbances at night. The complaints continued and the family continued to ignore municipal orders, gaining a reputation within the community as "outcasts" who preferred to maintain a separation between themselves and others -- perfectly within their rights.

And despite which, a generally accepting attitude by other residents appeared to be the norm, with few people interviewed being critical of the family aside from their standoffishness.  But just as others claimed not to have seen it coming when someone familiar suddenly began changing appearance to affect a full beard and traditional Muslim clothing, increasing the tenor of their adherence to the faith, so too on this occasion were expressions of disbelief recounted.

But the shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bomb that exploded on Saturday night at the Chelsea neighbourhood in Manhattan where 29 people were wounded, spoke volumes of Ahmad Khan Rahami's intention. There does not appear to be any question that this man was responsible for setting that and another bomb a few blocks away that failed to detonate. According to authorities the "suspect" was seen "as clear as day" planting the bombs, on a surveillance video.

He has been charged with attempting to kill five police officers, when he began firing after Capt. James Sarnicki, responding to a report that a man was sleeping at a bar entrance, only to recognize him as the man on a recently-issued wanted poster as a dangerous fugitive. When the Linden Police Department officer ordered Rahami to show his hands, he pulled a handgun and shot the officer, striking him in his bulletproof vest.

After which he fled, shooting all the while at passing vehicles. As other police officers chased the man that reports still speak of as the "suspect", he was shot several times, even as he shot at the police (as a perpetrator of terrorism). Yet another instance where the intake of refugees and immigrants from wartorn countries who have not been adequately screened for potential adaptability to Western mores, has become problematical.

Just as, hard on the heels of the latest reports on this man who preferred jihadist terrorism over living the American way of life, the government of the United States has revealed erroneously granting citizenship to over 800 immigrants from 'countries of concern to national security' with pending deportation orders against them. Homeland Security's Inspector General John Roth's auditors clarified that all the mistakenly granted citizenships went to failed claimants from "special interest countries" presenting a national security concern to the U.S.

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Being Very Careful: Avoid Mentioning Muslim, Islam or Terrorism in Any Run-On Sentence

"We're going to be very careful and patient to get to the full truth here."
"We have more work to do to be able to say what kind of motivation was behind this. Was it a political motivation? A personal motivation? What was it?"
"We do not know that yet."
"Whoever placed these bombs, we will find them and they will be brought to justice."
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
An unverified picture on Twitter reportedly shows the moment the suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami is arrested
An unverified picture on Twitter reportedly shows the moment the suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami is arrested

Caution is laudable. On the other hand, when disparate hints click into place, the answers seem more or less clear enough. And now that the suspect has been apprehended, certainly not willingly or peacefully, his identity and connection to the bomb that shook up a Manhattan neighbourhood, an improvised pressure-cooker device with a cellphone attached, belonging to Ahmad Khan Rahami's father, investigators didn't have to wrack their brains to figure out 'who' their suspect was.

It is, they declare by their caution, the 'why' that eludes them. And that too defies rational belief.

And that's just too coy, in fact, given the additional evidence that has swiftly surfaced, with those who know the 29-year-old personally mentioning to investigators that he had travelled, as an ethnic Afghan, to Afghanistan and to Pakistan. It would appear that the imperatives that drive Afghanis and Pakistanis to commit to the sacred obligation to hate non-Muslims and engage in jihad in devotion to Islam, communicated itself to this man and he embraced it.

The outward manifestations of his exposure to the deep roots of Islamism while in Afghanistan and Pakistan upon his return to the United States were his beard and his affectation of traditional Muslim clothing, declaring his newfound allegiance to the religiously fanatical obligations imposed upon him by birth, custom and religious devotion. The interior manifestation of which was his keen facility in assembling explosive devices and his determination to plant them in areas where he deduced they would produce the most harm.

A wanted poster for Ahmad Khan Rahami released by the FBI

Good fortune was obviously not with him in his plans. The explosive devices he left to do their work -- though described as 'sophisticated' compared with the similar types used by the Boston bomber brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev -- failed to perform as they were meant to, and that was a most fortunate failure for those who were injured as the first device went off, wounding 29 people, but killing no one, as was the designed intention.

Mr. Rahami, inspired by fundamentalist Islamism, was certainly serious about establishing his credentials as a bone fide jihadist. He is now viewed as having been extremely ambitious, in fact, since it is not only the Chelsea bomb that he has been implicated in, but the pipe bomb that exploded in Seaside Park, New Jersey, causing a charity race meant to benefit Marines to be cancelled. Although no one had been injured, there was no way to tell whether other such devices were in the near vicinity.
Local TV images as the suspicious devices goes off 
Local TV images show the explosion as the suspicious device goes off  Credit: Universal News And Sport
Five explosive devices discovered in a rubbish bin at a train station on Sunday night are also being attributed to this man's zealous intention to please a jealous god. There are those who will find it in themselves to claim that Ahmad Khan Rahami was the victim of discrimination, so it is little wonder that the Afghan-born man was angry and resentful. It appears his older brother Qasim may be as well, having left the U.S. for Afghanistan.

Qasim had been involved in an altercation with police in New Jersey. Rahami and his father, five years earlier sought a law suit against the city of Linden, claiming discrimination when a number of court cases ensued as a result of complaints of noise disturbances at the family's chicken takeout restaurant. Local residents, they had claimed, abused them by their racist comments such as "Muslims don't belong here".

Obviously, the logical next step in response to such an aggravating bit of bigotry was to proceed to prove their neighbours' contention right, after all. 

It was also obviously quite unfair, with more than a  hint of racial discrimination when police arrested him for unlawful possession of a weapon and domestic violence for attempting to stab  his sister, in 2014. In the end, he wasn't charged, likely because his sister withdrew charges. So he was wounded in a shoot-out with police, as a suspect in this bombing after he was spotted sleeping in the doorway of a local bar, and then hospitalized for surgery.

And FBI investigators will deploy themselves in a search for others involved in this terrorist attack since it seems that the scenario does call for the involvement of others. "No way he did this all by himself. The odds of this one person acting alone is infinitesimally small. Normally the way this works, you have a cell doing logistics, bomb-making and assembly, and an operational one", according to Mike Rogers, former chairman of the House intelligence committee. 

As for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, he remains wary of naming the situation for what it obviously was: "information suggests it may be foreign-related, but we’ll see where it goes", is as far as he would commit himself. The 'suspect' has been charged with five counts of attempted murder of a police officer, and is being held on $5.2-million bail while he remains in hospital.

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Staring Terrorism in the Face

"[Curse] Obama the crusader."
"I am going up to our lord, the Prophet Muhammad."
Nashat Melhem, Palestinian Muslim, Israeli Citizen

"We were very close when that happened [January attack in Tel Aviv]. We actually heard the gunfire in our apartment. Our daughter walked by right before it happened. It was pretty chilling to know it happened right where she was."
"People the very next day got back to living, actually living, not just acting that way. Sadly, it's the reality [deadly Palestinian Arab attacks on Israelis] of what's been going on here forever."
Tania Suares, 46, English tutor, Tel Aviv

"I'm trying to do something that depicts the environment we live in here. This is something you see happening around the world now [Islamist terrorist attacks]."
"People think you can deal with terrorism just by killing people [the perpetrators]. It doesn't work that way."
Ronny Douek, Israeli philanthropist, exhibit sponsor
The site of an attack in Tel Aviv on Jan. 1. On Monday, a guerrilla art exhibition projected scenes from the attack on giant screens over Dizengoff Square, near where the shootings took place. Credit Jack Guez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Nashat Melhem was a man with a purpose. His purpose was to join the 'resistance' that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas constantly urges upon Palestinians in the West Bank and within Israel. Gazans require no urgent message from the PA to enlist them in the 'resistance' against the Israeli 'oppressor' doing its utmost to prevent violent attacks against its citizens, since Hamas does a creditable job at inspiring its terrorist-inclined citizens to become involved when the opportunities arise.

Because everyone seems to want to be involved in one way or another, either by admiring and elevating in esteem those with the 'courage' to attack helpless civilians and thus gain the prestige attached to the act, to portray themselves as martyrs for the common cause, to have streets or squares or buildings named in their honour; to have their names emblazoned on an honour roll, to have a generous stipend apportioned to their families in recognition of their noble sacrifice.

Nashat Melham was one such man. Shooting up a pub, a cafe and a sushi restaurant, creating a tumult of fear and despair, killing the manager of the pub, Alon Bakal, and Simta and Shimon Ruimi. He wasn't quite done with his murder spree that day, later killing a cab driver he had hailed to escape the scene of the carnage he had left behind, and Amin Shaban, an Arab Israeli also died at his hands. No comfort whatever to their families was to be found in his own death in a shootout with authorities a week later.

His cellphone had an audio message that his action had the purpose of delivering a message "so the Jews understand who they've been involved with, those sons of bitches". Now, that mobile phone message can be heard, and the visage of the murderer seen reproduced on a huge outdoor screen as part of a guerrilla art exhibition in Tel Aviv. A horribly evocative-of-tragedy exhibit to elicit a visceral reaction from passersby as they view three videos projected onto a billboard.

The first of the videos shows the attacker, the second the response of security forces in the aftermath of  his deadly attack, with the third showing the bar he had shot up -- only now it is being used for the purpose for which it was designed, to bring people together in a social atmosphere of spontaneously relaxed comfort and companionship.

The display is staged a few blocks down from Dizengoff Street where the atrocity occurred back on January 1. Its locale is Dizengoff Square, and the intention of the presentation is to show the depravity of the murderer, the ensuing chaos, despite which life continues. It is Mr. Douek's intention to make people think, to move the country toward preventing alienation by its Arab citizens, to avoid such separation and violence.

But he must realize, surely, that it takes two to prevent misunderstandings and resentment; equal efforts to succeed.

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The Ideological Islamist Quagmire of Afghanistan

"The Taliban tied their bodies to tanks and dragged them for about ten kilometers." 
"His son is now saying 'I will take revenge'. That is not something that he can do on his own."
"He may kill one or two Taliban, and they may kill one or two on the government side But I see him meeting the same fate as his father."
Abdul Baqi Hashemi, member, Faryab provincial council, Kabul

"I wish I was killed and not my father -- the Taliban really feared him."
"I will take revenge for his death. I will not stop until I have brought their heads to the bazaar in Qaisar."
Said Muhammad, Afghanistan 

"There will be an investigation to see whether his son [son of Abdul Basir] had any involvement on his killing."
Nizamuddin Qaisari, district police chief

Civil war often tears families apart, with sons, brothers, fathers fighting for the opposite ideology of the other. In Afghanistan this is no different. A long-time military commander -- loyal to the government of Afghanistan through his allegiance to a warlord, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, currently Afghanistan's vice-president -- vowed to kill his son who had given his allegiance to the Taliban. Similarly, the son pledged that he was committed to killing his father, an enemy of the Taliban.

Each attempted on occasion to make good their threats, but neither succeeded. In the end, extended tribal members brought father and son, Abdul Basir the government loyalist militia commander, and his son Said Muhammad, who had sworn allegiance to the Taliban, together. They decided they would put aside their differences, and Muhammad, the son, left the Taliban ostensibly to fight on the government side, alongside his father. That took place in mid-August.

Abdul Basir, left, an Afghan government militia fighter, and his son Said Muhammad, a former Taliban militant, after they made peace and before Mr. Basir was killed. Credit Hassan Serdash
Several weeks later, on September 7, father and son with ten other fighters fell into an insurgent trap close to where they lived in the Qaisar District in northern Afghanistan. The Taliban managed to kill Abdul Basir, along with five of his men, in a numerically unequal fight which went on for hours; the loyalist militia was quite simply outnumbered by the Taliban, determined to kill the ferocious military chief who had fought them for so long. His son, however, escaped the ambush.

The bodies of the six men were brought back to their home base. The dead commander had taken seven bullet wounds, one or more of which took his life. The following day several thousand men from the district attended the ceremonies for the final prayer before burying the commander. But because of threats from the Taliban warning that anyone who took part in the funeral would not be permitted to return back to the village of Zyaratgah, the original home of Abdul Basir and his family from which he had been ousted by the Taliban, they left before the burial and the prayer.

Said Muhammad described the battle he and his father were engaged in, a dozen men against, he said, fully 500 Taliban fighters. He spoke of grenades being thrown and a furious fight that took place, with hours of siege. He managed heroically to escape, crawling through the lines and throwing back grenades. And now, he meant to avenge his father's death. He has been contradicted by the area police chief who reduced the number of Taliban from 500 to 200 in the telling, still outnumbering the smaller number of loyalists led by Abdul Basir.

Suspicion lingers in the air, where the son's loyalties really remain, a suspicion that the district police chief seems determined to clarify.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Turkey, a Blight Among Nations

"When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race."
"In their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact."
"[Theirs is a deliberate] campaign of race extermination."
Henry Morgenthau, American ambassador, Ottoman Empire, 1915
A picture released by the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute dated 1915 purportedly shows soldiers standing over skulls of victims from the Armenian village of Sheyxalan in the Mush valley, on the Caucasus front during the First World War. Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their forebears were killed in a 1915-16 genocide by Turkey's former Ottoman Empire. Turkey says 500,000 died and ascribes the toll to fighting and starvation during World War I.
A picture released by the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute dated 1915 shows soldiers standing over skulls of victims from the Armenian village of Sheyxalan in the Mush valley, on the Caucasus front during the First World War. Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images
"The brutal treatment of the deportees, most of whom were made to walk to their destinations, made it apparent that the deportations were mainly intended as death marches. Moreover, the policy of deportation surgically removed the Armenians from the rest of society and disposed of great masses of people with little or no destruction of property."
Armenian National Institute, Washington, D.C.

Armenian genocide is 'fact of history and nothing to do with election' Armenia says up to 1.5 million of its people were killed during World War I by forces belonging to Turkey's former Ottoman Empire
"I decided to present his data [papers of Talaat Pasha, one of the Young Turks in charge of the Ottoman Empire, published by a Turkish journalist in 2011], as the official view of the Armenian Genocide according to Ottoman records... It has a column showing the Armenian population of different provinces in 1914 according to official Ottoman statistics, and it has a column that has been generated from the returns to the 1917 survey. Most of these missing Armenians were probably killed."

Raffi Sarkissian, co-chairman, Armenian Genocide Centenary Commemoration Committee. 
In April of 1914 the-then government of Turkey suspicious of Armenian allegiance, arrested two hundred Armenian community leaders in Istanbul. Their arrest went on to imprisonment but not for a very prolonged stay; they were mostly put out of commission when they were executed as traitors to Turkey. Echoes of that event can be seen in the mass arrests that have taken place in Turkey of those considered by Turkish authorities to be loyal to Methullah Gulen whom President Recep Tayyip Erdogan views as a threat to his Islamist rule of the country.

In this modern era, a month ago a failed attempt at a coup instigated the ruthless crackdown on the followers of Gulen who was once a supporter of Erdogan until he became disenchanted with the virulent Islamist tack he was leading the country into. Mr. Gulen's disavowal of Erdogan's politics enraged the president of Turkey who views the self-exile as plotting against him, convincing himself that tens of thousands of civil servants of all stripes including police, military, justices, journalists are all attempting to undermine his authority.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is planning to make Arabic-alphabet Ottoman language compulsory in high schoolsRecep Tayyip Erdogan  Photo: AFP

When the world's attention was diverted from an obscure corner of the world by the horrifying events of the First World War, Turkey felt free to dispose of its Armenian citizens by force-marching hundreds of thousands of men, women and children of all ages out of the country's borders, disowning them, leaving them to die of privation, illness and starvation in the process, and killing those who did not; an estimated total of one and a half million Armenians losing their lives. Turkey insists nothing of the kind occurred.

Turkey's leaders have a propensity to reach extremes in their denials; to even make mention of the genocide is forbidden by law. Those Armenians whose lives were forfeit were merely deportees. That they left Turkey by foot, with no provisions and no mechanical aids to their progress led them to they fall victim to unfortunate circumstances, and these were complex events that led to their unfortunate mass death, having nothing whatever to do with a Turkish plan for extermination.

That the Turks are Muslim and Armenians Christians is one of the complex circumstances of two ethnic groups living together under Ottoman rule. The Armenians have much in common with Jews; tending to be better educated and more financially well off than their Muslim counterparts. They also found much in common with Russia and at the time of the First World War, Turkey aligned itself with Germany. Turkey saw its Armenian population as a "wartime measure of military security" seeking a solution.

That solution was a forced death march through deportation. Massacres took place on the way with countless Armenians unable to defend themselves, simply shot while others became a helpless mass of famished humanity. And so, Armenians who for three millennia inhabited the highlands of their heritage lands, were forced to find a new home for those who survived. A small enclave was formed, Russian Armenia, by those who managed to evade the deportation proceedings. Late in 1920 the region was recognized under the Soviets as the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic.

With the collapse of the USSR, the Armenian enclave was renamed to the Republic of Armenia. Armenian activists have long been involved in insisting that governments give recognition to their plight, acknowledging that they had experienced genocide before Nazi Germany undertook the systematic obliteration of European Jewry, Hitler reasoning that no one remembered or cared about the Armenian genocide, leaving him free to achieve his goal of freeing Europe from any Jewish presence.

Turkey's skill and determination in denying equality and the division of Turkey's geography to non-Turks is legendary. Its incessant quarrels with Greece over Cypress more than adequately describing Turkey's scorn for its neighbours. Recep Tayyip Erdogan's renewal of Turkey's blisteringly violent war with Kurds, the world's largest ethnic group whom European colonialist politics cheated of their own homeland, speaks volumes of Turkey's incapacity as a Muslim quasi-democracy bordering Europe to ever become a stalwart of human rights.

© Ruptly
© Ruptly
Turkish authorities accuse Kurdish militants of detonating a car bomb in the city of Van in the southeast of Turkey. 48 people injured, no fatalities confirmed.The blast took place around 200 meters from the city’s provisional governor’s office. No group has claimed responsibility for the assault.

Up to the present, 28 nations have chosen to recognize the Armenian genocide, sending Turkey into vicious spasms of rage. Those nations who have the courage to recognize the reality of history and Turkey's place in it have been threatened and slandered by Turkey. That Pope Francis has also chosen to speak of the Armenian suffering as a genocide simply confirms for Islamist Erdogan that the Christian and non-Islamic world is an enemy of both Islam and Turkey.

A Turkish army tank drives towards to the border in Karkamis on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 25, 2016. © Umit Bektas

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Circumstantially Compelling Murder Most Foul

"At first, we though they had a breakdown or something. Or mom went for a walk by the river. She had a weak ankle and dad would never leave her.
"We thought we would find them -- their [SUV] was missing. Maybe they were stopped, someone tied them up. That there would be a ransom note or something."
"Waiting is very difficult. It will be a relief to have it over."
"I'm convinced that [Vader] did it. It's just a question of ... I don't know what the judge thinks."
Bret McCann, Alberta


Bret McCann speaks to media outside court on Thursday after the guilty verdict was delivered in Edmonton. Bret McCann speaks to media outside court on Thursday after the guilty verdict was delivered in Edmonton. (CBC)
"I love you. I did not do this. I didn't have anything to do with this. I don't know what they or, or, or, what they're trying to f---in' dream up for fickin' -- what they're trying to do."
"But I did not do this, Mom."
Travis Vader to his mother
All the evidence gathered, albeit compelling, is of a circumstantial nature, relating to the mysterious disappearance of Lyle and Marie McCann, both in their late 70s, and avid RV campers.. They disappeared in July of 2010. They were driving their recreational vehicle with the intention of vacationing south of Chilliwack, British Columbia. They set out on their journey and that was the last anyone heard from them again. Missing, presumed dead, their bodies never found.

But their possessions were found. Their recreational vehicle was found, abandoned, not all that far from where they set off from, and it had been set on fire. The SUV they were pulling was found in the possession of a 44-year-old down-and-outer, accused a year later, of their deaths. He has insisted on his innocence. RCMP were alerted, two days after the couple left for their trip, to a campsite two hours from the McCanns' home, that a RV was afire.

They discovered no human remains in the ruins of the burnt-out recreational trailer and their green Hyundai SUV being towed along was nowhere to be seen. Then, about a week later, the SUV was found in the brush, a few kilometres north of the burnt-out RV.  The man with numerous run-ins with the law seemed an early suspect. He was known for auto thefts, drugs and weapons offences, and he was perpetually broke.

lyle and marie mccann
The portrait of Lyle and Marie McCann sits at their memorial service in 2011. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

During the trial that followed Crown prosecutors spoke of their theory that high on drugs, Vader came across the elderly couple and attempted to rob them. A confrontation ensued where he killed them. Soon afterward five phone calls and text messages were recorded on the McCanns' cellphone, going to Vader's girlfriend. Witnesses testified that Vader appeared at a friend's house that very afternoon of July 3 driving a Hyundai SUV, with a wad of cash.

En route to their destination the McCanns had stopped at highway store to pick up laundry detergent, cookies and tins of No Name food. All of those things were unloaded from the SUV Vader was driving when he arrived at his sister's home. His DNA was found on the steering wheel, armrest and passenger seat of the SUV; found on the brims of two of Lyle McCann's baseball caps, one of which had a bullet hole in it, stained with drops of Mr. McCann's blood.

Traces of Vader's DNA were found on an empty can of beer in the vehicle and drops of Mrs. McCann's blood were on the tins of No Name food. In a truck that Vader had been driving, a stolen truck, before he took possession of the SUV belonging to the McCanns, keys to the their green SUV were found by the RCMP. The defence lawyer for Mr. Vader said at trial: "The RCMP not only had the opportunity to plant the SUV key in the truck, but, at that time, they also had the means and a strong motive to tie the vehicle to Mr. Vader."

The verdict of guilt of second-degree murder was brought down in a first-ever televised courtroom address by Justice Denny Thomas yesterday. Two counts of second-degree murder, live-streamed. But Justice Thomas cited a law that is no longer in the Criminal Code; it does appear still in the Code, but it was rendered obsolete when the Supreme Court struck it down in 1990 as being unconstitutional.

It appears a retrial will be in order.

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Infiltration, Not Integration

"Generally, some care should be taken by teachers on the language and tone they take when discussing world events and the Islamic faith."
"The core values and central tenets of Islam are immutable and the best counter-narrative to the terrorist ideology of hate."
A Guide for Educators 
issacanada.com
"The CHRC [Canadian Human Rights Commission] and the Red Cross should be more concerned about human rights abuse and actual racial discrimination than pandering to a victim ideology and a contrived phrase like 'Islamophobia' created to stifle conversation. MFT [secular Council for Muslims  Facing Tomorrow] is distressed by the activities of certain organizations claiming to represent Muslims while closely linked to the supremacist Muslim Brotherhood. These organizations are part of the problem and not the solution."
Sohail Raza, co-founder, Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow
CHAIR.CAN (Canadian chapter of the Council for American-Islamic Relations which underwent a name change to the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) to throw off the scent of
Islamism and support of fundamentalist Islam associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, has managed, through strenuous advocacy to convince the Canadian Red Cross and the Canadian Human Rights Commission to fund and support a guide to be used in Canadian classrooms to raise sensitivity to the need to protect Muslim children from discrimination.

CHAIR.CAN promotes the concept of Islamophobia widely based in Canada, resulting, they claim, from innocent Muslims being held in suspicion long after the terrorist strikes in the United States of 9/11 infamy. It fumes over the 'presumption of guilt' by Canadians of their Muslim citizen-counterparts, claiming that discriminatory attitudes and hate crimes targeting Muslims remain a deep and dark problem in the country, unfairly characterizing Muslims as unassimilable and leery of accepting Canadian values and laws.

Real statistics tell a far different story, that out of one thousand hate crimes reported a year after 9/11, 25 percent of hate crimes zeroed in on targeting Jews, 17 percent blacks, 11 percent Muslims, 10 percent South Asians and nine percent LGBT. By 2006, 66 percent of all hate crimes targeted Jews, leaving 11 percent of Muslims the targets of hate crimes. Anti-Semitism won hands down in being the focus of hate crimes.

And yet another reality intervenes; that there are well over one million (from the 2011 census) Muslims now living in Canada, as opposed to a figure of 350,000 for Jews. Making it all the more surprising that CHAIR.CAN was persuasive enough in collaboration with the Islamic Social Services Association to have the CHRC and Red Cross set aside their neutrality as organizations, to aid and abet these Muslim groups, lending them the kind of respectability that their links should deny them.

While they claim that "a very well-documented, anti-Muslim hate wave" flourishes in Canada to target Muslims, the fact is that these groups have brought hate to Canada in supporting issues such as BDS (Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions) against Israel, inciting Muslim activists on university campuses across the country to promote anti-Semitism on fertile ground. A previous collaboration between the RCMP and the same Muslim groups fell through after the publication of a supposedly counter-radicalization handbook.

The handbook, United Against Terrorism, turned out to be an embarrassment to the RCMP, leading them to withdraw their support of its utilization. Recommending as it does, for example, that hardline clerics be consulted, and citing Muslims' right to remain unco-operative with law enforcement. Although the RCMP has withdrawn its support, its name and logo continue to appear on the handbook, giving it the kind of legitimacy that was not intended.

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