Monday, February 1, 2016

ISIS Supporters In The Delivery Room!: New Age Islam's Selection,1 February 2016

New Age Islam Edit Bureau
1 February 2016
ISIS Supporters in the Delivery Room!
By Turki Al-Dakhil
Why the Syria Talks Remind Me of The Oslo Process
By Marwan Bishara
Kurds in Turkey: Caught In The Crossfire
By David Lepeska
Western Powers Shamefully Kowtow To Iran
By Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor
Where Is The West's Compassion And Condemnation Following Terror Attacks In Middle East?
By Eva Bartlett
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
ISIS Supporters in the Delivery Room!
By Turki Al-Dakhil
31 January 2016
We should be thankful that the Friday’s terrorist attack on Imam Rida mosque – located in the Mahasen neighbourhood of al-Ahsa region in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia – failed to achieve what it was intended for. If the attack had gone according to plan, the loss of lives and damages would have been far worse.
The Board of Senior Ulema condemned the attack and said that remaining silent in the wake of such heinous crimes are not an option. The late King Abdullah once said: “He who remains silent over these (terrorist) people’s acts is one of them.” Some of those who remain silent are in fact supporters of ISIS and are waiting to be born.
ISIS is trying to incite strife between Shiites and Sunnis in Saudi Arabia
ISIS wants to force Shiites in Saudi Arabia away from their homeland by targeting them and pushing them to join certain elements outside of the country. However, it will not succeed at doing so.
It will not succeed because the Saudi Arabia will defend its land by standing against the enemy and its organizations. In 2001, the al-Qaeda strategy was to exploit Saudis and use them for marginal roles in the Sept. 11 terror attacks with the aim of harming Saudi-American relations.
Creating The Divide
Today, the ISIS is doing the same by trying to incite strife between Shiite and Sunni Saudis. They are trying to create rift between Shiites and the Saudi state.
When Juhayman al-Otaybi’s group stormed the Grand Mosque in 1979, Islamic scholar Mohammad Nasiruddin al-Albani condemned the attack against worshippers. “This is a crime even if carried out in the desert, let alone in the house of God.”
In the year 1994, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, the intellectual godfather of al-Qaeda, authorized for terror groups to target mosques and worshipers. In other words, they have targeted everything Islam seeks to protect, the self, faith, dignity, intelligence and resources.
What caliphate do they speak of? Which doctrine do they defend? “May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded?”
Turki Al-Dakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.
Why the Syria Talks Remind Me of The Oslo Process
By Marwan Bishara
31 Jan 2016
On the day the Geneva talks on Syria were set to begin, France announced it intends to hold a new round of Oslo talks on Palestine. The Oslo Process has gone on for almost a quarter of a century but Palestine remains under Israel occupation.
Will the Syria peace talks face a similar fate - long on talk, short on peace?
My crystal ball isn't responding with its usual clarity, but what is becoming clear is an eerie resemblance between the forces, dynamics and diplomatic jargon that characterise both Geneva and Oslo.
There are similarities and differences but when it comes to the scope of the violence and the ineffectiveness of diplomacy, the similarities are all too shocking even before the Geneva talks get underway.
On Violence
Like Israel, the Assad regime has imprisoned, tortured, starved, killed, and bombed neighbourhoods, but the barrel-bombing of towns is Bashar al-Assad's ingenuity and should be trademarked accordingly.
Since the peaceful Syrian uprising began in 2011, the regime in Damascus has grabbed more than a page from Israel's occupation manuals. He labeled the peace demonstrators foreign-backed terrorists. He even called them "germs" (leading to cries of solidarity between Syria's "germs" and Libya's "rats").
It's perhaps coincidental that the Assad dictatorship has been in control of Syria since a year after Israel occupied the rest of Palestine in 1967, but it's been no less tragic.
Like Israelis who "shoot and cry", Assad & co. also bomb and lament. Their cynicism has proven without bounds as they pride themselves on killing "terrorists" as they destroy a whole nation, and in the case of Assad, it's his own people. 
A quarter of a million Syrians have already died in Assad's war, which also resulted in the displacement and exodus of half of its population. In four years, Assad forces killed more people than Israel killed Palestinians in four decades.
And unlike the Israeli leaders who never accepted foreign forces, not even US forces or air forces were ever allowed to deploy in Israeli controlled areas, Assad has evidently been trigger happy that Iran, Hezbollah and Russia have all accepted his invitation to deploy. Together, they helped destroy the country in order to save the regime.
For these and other sinister reasons, Assad has lost all legitimacy, even as a sovereign dictator. For all practical purposes, he, his forces and his allies are behaving like an illegal occupying force, or worse.
The Geneva talks come against the backdrop of US failure in Iraq and Russian and Iranian military interventions that are tipping the balance of power in favour of the Assad regime.
Like In Diplomacy
Diplomatic processes compare and contrast depending on a number of variables, but in essence, diplomacy is a reflection of balance (or imbalance) of power. (And when it comes to the Middle East, you could add the balance of bullsh*t - a powerful diplomatic tool that the Israelis and Assad often use.)
The Madrid and later the Oslo "peace process" started against the backdrop of the Soviet Union's loss of the Cold War and Moscow's realignment with Washington's policies, which favoured Israel.
The Geneva talks come against the backdrop of US  failure in Iraq  and  Russian and Iranian military interventions that are tipping the balance of power in favour of the Assad regime.
Washington's   complicity   and its realignment with Moscow made it possible to pass UN Security Council Resolution 2254 that frames these talks in favour of the Assad regime.
Like the Oslo process, the sponsors of the Geneva talks say there should be no preconditions for the Syria talks.
For the Palestinians, that basically meant continued Jewish settlement expansion on their land, continued occupation and the incarceration of thousands of political prisoners etc. For Syrians, it means continued bombardment, and imprisonment under Assad's rule.
In reality, however, there are preconditions. Like the Palestinians, the Syrian opposition must denounce and renounce "terrorism" if they are to join the talks, but the regime is invited as a legitimate partner in the these talks despite its continued "terrorism" in the form of aerial bombardment and the starvation of whole communities.
For the Syrians like the Palestinians, the objectives of the talks have been blurred and the road to achieve them marred with ambiguity and this only serves the Israeli and Syrian regimes.
In that way, the end of all occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state were omitted from the Oslo process. And for Syrians, neither 2254 nor the official invitation to the Geneva talks, mention the need for Assad to go.
Indeed, like in Palestine where the PLO was forced to share power with the Israeli occupation until it acquiesces to Israeli dictates and accepts restrictions on its sovereignty, the Syrian opposition is now expected to share power with Assad in some form of "unity government", instead of the original understanding agreed upon in Geneva-1, that stipulates a transitional ruling body with executive powers without Assad.
An overview of the room where UN mediator Staffan de Mistura and the Syrian ambassador to the UN opened the Syrian peace talks at the UN headquarters in Geneva [Reuters]
In both cases, the ultimate objective of the talks is neither freedom nor justice, but rather "combating terrorism".
As with the condition and objectives of the talks, there are also increasing similarities in the diplomatic jargon.
Proximity talks, no preconditions, moderate (and not-so-moderate) representation, Washington guarantees, multi-track discussions, simultaneous meetings, flexible framework, etc., might be familiar concepts in international diplomacy, but in Palestine and Syria, these are only meant to avoid pressuring the Israelis or the Assads to do the right thing: leave.
Even the role of the envoys is no less eerie. Unlike his predecessors, Kofi Annan and Lakhdar Brahimi, Staffan de Mistura is already behaving like a crossway between a scheming Dennis Ross and a bombastic Tony Blair.
Learning the Right Lessons
Why the impatience? Why not wait until the process gets underway to pass judgments? The same questions were also asked when the Oslo process began.
Since it's power that ultimately determines the outcome of diplomacy, unless the imbalance of power behind the Syria talks is rectified, Geneva, like Oslo, is doomed to fail.
By adopting a similar approach to Syria, one assumes the US and Russia have failed to learn the lessons of Oslo; a failed process that lasted over two decades and achieved more of the same failures and violence.
But  perhaps they did learn the lessons, albeit the wrong lessons. Long diplomatic processes, like proxy wars, are indispensable tools for prolonging their hegemony over the Middle East region.
Marwan Bishara is the senior political analyst at Al Jazeera.
Kurds in Turkey: Caught In The Crossfire
By David Lepeska
31 Jan 2016
Early one morning in Diyarbakir last October, Halil Tuzuner, a 31-year-old construction worker, was on his roof tending to his pigeons when a bullet from a Turkish military assault team on the street below pierced his back and took his life. His stunned, pregnant wife Hulya found him minutes later.
Soon after, the newly-widowed mother-of-three gathered her young sons and moved to new lodgings on the edge of central Diyarbakir - or Sur, as the old city is known - and did her best to start over.
"It's so difficult", the 25-year-old said during a recent interview, sitting on the carpeted floor of her modest new home as her sons clambered all over her, and her now one-month-old daughter slept in the next room. "You can't understand how difficult it is without him. I haven't even been able to go to the cemetery to visit him."
For two months now, the heart of Diyarbakir, a city of a million people and the de facto Kurdish capital of Turkey, has been under 24-hour curfew and near-constant military assault. Some 20,000 people have fled, 1,500 shops have closed or been destroyed, and 10,000 people have been put out of work, according to local estimates.
Both Sides to Blame
Those who remain face limited water and electricity and are largely trapped in their homes due to regular blasts and the rat-tat-tat of gunfire. Hulya has barely left the house in months. Thankfully, Halil's older brother, Aziz, who has three children and lives nearby, has been helping her, caring for his brother's kids as if they were as his own. Like Hulya, he's tired of the fighting between the Turkish state and Kurdish militants.
Despite their frustrations, young Kurdish fighters need to stop declaring self-rule and commandeering urban districts, while the PKK would be wise to stop bombing police stations. And with no elections on the horizon, Turkey's leaders should stop politicising the Kurdish conflict, pull back in the southeast and resume peace talks.
"Both sides are just playing for their own nationalism, and both have their reasons," he said. "They might be right, they might be wrong - but both sides are killing people. And we, the people who live here, are in the middle of it. The minute we stop moving, we become targets."
There have been a lot of targets in cities across the region. Turkey's Human Rights Association says nearly 200 civilians have been killed, including 33 children. Ankara says since December 2015, it has killed more than 600 fighters from the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which Turkey, the United States, and the European Union have labelled a terrorist organisation.
More than 100,000 people have been displaced, and entire neighbourhoods destroyed. Recent images out of Sur, Cizre, and Silopi invoke the devastation of neighbouring Syria. It all started last August, when Kurdish activists declared autonomous zones in cities across the southeast.
Ankara responded with a harsh crackdown, prompting young militants linked to the PKK to secure central urban districts, digging trenches, building makeshift barricades and commandeering shops and apartments to defend territory they see as under self-rule.
The Turkish state turned the screws, implementing 24-hour curfews and dispatching tanks, urban assault vehicles and waves of troops to root them out, street by street. "You will be annihilated in those houses, those buildings, those ditches which you have dug," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said recently, warning that military operations would continue until the area had been "cleansed" of "terrorists".
Reminiscent Of The Past
Turkey and the PKK have fought an off-and-on war since 1984, and in that time, no government had made as much progress towards peace as that of Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP).
But after two years of negotiations, the violence resumed last July, when Kurdish militants assassinated two policeman days after a bombing in Suruc killed 33 people who had come to help rebuild the besieged Syrian Kurdish city of Kobane.
Now, the two sides seem farther apart than they've been in decades. Kemal Oyman has been repairing watches in Sur for 35 years, and has never seen violence like this in Diyarbakir. "Both sides are to blame," says the 68-year-old. "I hope it will get better soon."
But chances of the situation improving are slim. Last Wednesday, Turkey extended the curfew to five new neighbourhoods in Sur, after which dozens of families were seen lugging their belongings through the old city's massive, UNESCO-listed stone walls, heading for safer ground.
Among Kurds in Diyarbakir, the consensus seems to be that, rather than undermining the militants and muting anti-Turkey sentiment among Kurds, Ankara's recent operations in the southeast have inflamed it.
"Everything changed with this kind of operations, especially among the people in these neighbourhoods," said veteran Kurdish journalist Vecdi Erbay. "Now there's more anger. Also, these fighters getting killed, and their bodies in the street, just lying there, for days - this is something people won't forget."
On such instance is the death of Mesut Seviktek, whose dead body laid on a Sur street for three weeks, inspiring his brother Ihsan - as well as his mother and sister - to go on a 20-day hunger strike. Finally, the state allowed the family to collect Seviktek's body and bury him. Ihsan's eldest son, a 14-year-old, recently left home to join the fighting, following in the footsteps of two of Ihsan's younger brothers.
"I have six children and eleven younger sisters and brothers, and if all of them made the same decision. I would support them because all of them are slaves here," says Ihsan, a 42-year-old shopkeeper. "We never know when or how we will die, but at least this way it is honourable. We won't fall on our knees for the AKP government."
Negotiations, No More
The militants' tactics seem to have had a similar impact on Turkey's leaders. Erdogan has said the state would "bring the whole world down" on those who seek autonomy, and that from now on, neither the PKK nor any related political party would be accepted as a negotiating partner. "That affair is over," he told a group of village heads visiting his presidential palace.
Ankara's determination to beat back the Kurds has given the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group room to operate, resulting in at least three major attacks over the past seven months. Consider the way Erdogan focused on the PKK in the speech he delivered just after the January 12 attack in Istanbul. Or how he all but dismissed pro-Kurdish politician and activist Leyla Zana's recent request for a one-on-one meeting.
Despite their frustrations, young Kurdish fighters need to stop declaring self-rule and commandeering urban districts, while the PKK would be wise to stop bombing police stations. And with no elections on the horizon, Turkey's leaders should stop politicising the Kurdish conflict, pull back in the southeast and resume peace talks.
This will enable its military, security, and intelligence bodies to focus on the greater threat, ISIL, and the root issue, Syria. Otherwise, the divide will only deepen, spurring another generation to take up the gun against Ankara.
Somehow, Ihsan Seviktek can still see the two sides sitting down again. "This war mentality belongs to the AKP government, not the Turkish people," he said. "That's why I have hope, because I know there are millions and millions of people in this country that want peace, not war."
David Lepeska is a freelance journalist based in Istanbul. His work focuses on Turkey and the Middle East.
Western Powers Shamefully Kowtow To Iran
By Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor
1 January 2016
Iran’s treasury is overflowing. President Hassan Rowhani, touring European capitals on a shopping spree, is being treated like royalty. Italy was so keen not to offend the sensitivities of their guest that white panels were placed around ancient statues in a museum and was rewarded for its hospitality with deals totalling over $18 billion. French government welcomed Rowhani promising a new beginning in relations prior to the mutual signing of 20 lucrative agreements worth billions.
They say money talks. This time it is shouting out loud, trumping Europe’s so-called values and its tried and trusted friends. Forgotten is Iran’s shocking human rights record along with its proxies, aggression towards Saudi Arabia and Gulf states; concerns regarding its partnership with the Syrian regime conveniently shelved. Ignored are the Ayatollah Khamenei’s chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”. Glossed over are its repression of the Iranian people and its relegation of minorities, such as the Ahwazi Arabs, to third class citizen status.
It was left to ordinary citizens who took to the streets of Paris and Rome as well as children in the bombed-out Syrian city of Aleppo to vent their anger at Rowhani’s grand European tour. “Ask Iran to stop killing us in our country” read the children’s posters. But Italy and France had more important priorities. This was not the moment for finger-wagging in their view when the Iranian President was poised to sign on a whole host of dollar illuminated dotted lines.
Parallel Universe
It is as if we have woken up to find ourselves in a parallel universe where everything we hold dear has been reversed. Iran signed up to abandoning a nuclear weapons program it had binned in 2009 according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, and is promptly welcomed into the international community fold like a long lost favorite son flush with a bonanza of up to $100 billion and the opening of doors to oil, gas and trade deals.
As if the sight of European heads of state curry favoring the representative of a country considered enemy state few months ago is not humiliating enough, the United States is accepting Iran’s retorts with a virtual “Thank you, Sir!”
Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have robbed the American people of their pride
First we hear that Iran detained 10 U.S. naval personnel whose vessel “accidentally” strayed into Iranian waters. They were made to kneel with their hands behind their heads on the deck of their own ship before being paraded on Iranian State TV to offer apologies. Quite a propaganda coup for Iranian authorities and the hordes of anti-Western hard liners! And even as Iran was milking their captives’ humiliation for all its worth, the White House assured Americans thus: “We do not see this as hostile intent. They have been well treated.”
And now we read the headlines. “Iran warned U.S. warship to leave waters near the Strait of Hormuz” is followed by a report beginning, “Iran navy warned a U.S. warship on Wednesday to leave waters in the Sea of Oman near an area where the Islamic Republic was performing military drills.” The U.S. vessel beat a hasty retreat even though it was in international waters and was later accused by Iran’s fleet commander of spying on Iran’s activities.
The question now for Saudi Arabia and Gulf states, which have been assured by President Barack Obama that their security is paramount, is how can the U.S. cooperate with us against Iranian designs when its own navy appears all at sea and its Commander-in-Chief hails the new d├ętente and makes excuses for Iran’s behaviour?
How much pride is the most powerful country, with the strongest military on earth, willing to swallow and why is Obama doing his utmost to keep the ayatollahs pleased? It is hard to believe that the U.S. that has always flexed its muscles to save a single American citizen is now making prisoner swap deals to release seven dual nationals.
A top Iranian commander reportedly disclosed that an amount of $1.7 billion was paid in exchange for their freedom. The State Department issued a statement to the effect the amount was paid in relation to a pre-1979 case related to a sale of military equipment plus $1.3 billion in negotiated interest. That is a pretext to cover America’s long-held policy of not paying rogue states or terrorists to avoid encouraging further trouble. But when the payment was purportedly due in the 1970s, only a simpleton would forget to ask “why now?”
It is little wonder Rowhani’s smile is wide these days when billions are pouring in courtesy of the Obama administration that initiated the sanctions-lifting and the unfreezing of Iranian assets, a hefty portion of which will be spent on bolstering Iran’s military capability and militias on Arab lands.
Iran’s policies towards the West and its meddling in the affairs of Arab states remain unchanged. Its leaders’ rhetoric may have softened temporarily as they are desperate to revitalize their country’s aviation industry with new airplanes and spare parts, not to mention securing buyers for its oil and other commodities. They must be chuckling seeing the haste with which major European states are racing to re-open their embassies in Tehran while showering the Iranians with praise and invitations for state visits.
The Upper Hand
Let us face it, Iran has gained the upper hand merely because it has agreed to more intrusive IAEA monitoring for a 10-year period and has put a percentage of its centrifuges to bed. Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have robbed the American people of their pride. They have diminished the international standing of their great nation that not so long ago inspired respect and instilled fear in the hearts of its enemies.
Obama has been widely accused of leading from behind on foreign policy. Not so today! He is the one who is being led and if GCC member states fail to recognize how the Obama administration is wittingly or unwittingly altering the regional order, I am afraid we may be being led toward disaster.
It seems an age ago since the Muslim world was excited hearing Obama’s promises made during a visit to Cairo University in 2009. He called for a new beginning between the United States and Muslims. He pledged to give Iraq to the Iraqis whereas it is a de facto province of Iran. He pledged to pursue a Palestinian state with patience and dedication, which has now been scrubbed off his “to-do” list.
He later stepped back from rescuing the Syrian people and played his part in toppling of Muammar Qaddafi before abandoning that country to armed militias and terrorists. He is now complicit in furthering Iran’s territorial and ideological ambitions.
I can only respectfully ask GCC heads of states to take a long hard look at the big picture and take decisions accordingly. If America continues to bend to Tehran’s diktats perhaps it is time to re-evaluate our relationship with Washington. A friend who plays both sides is no friend at all.
Khalaf Ahmad al-Habtoor is a prominent UAE businessman and public figure. He is Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group - one of the most successful conglomerates in the Gulf. Al Habtoor is renowned for his knowledge and views on international political affairs; his philanthropic activity; his efforts to promote peace; and he has long acted as an unofficial ambassador for his country abroad. Writing extensively on both local and international politics, he publishes regular articles in the media and has released a number of books. Al-Habtoor began his career as an employee of a local UAE construction firm and in 1970 established his own company, Al Habtoor Engineering. The UAE Federation, which united the seven emirates under the one flag for the first time, was founded in 1971 and this inspired him to undertake a series of innovative construction projects – all of which proved highly successful.
Where Is The West's Compassion And Condemnation Following Terror Attacks In Middle East?
By Eva Bartlett
31 January, 2016
Facebook users were not instructed to do so, but may nonetheless wish to change their profile pictures in solidarity with the families and friends of victims of recent terrorist attacks.
A great many of the victims were aspiring university students, others were school teachers, children, infants, parents, and elderly. Their bodies were torn apart in the acts of violence, many unidentifiable.
Most of these innocent victims will go unnamed, their murders obfuscated, or largely unnoticed, in Western media.
Consider the following cycle of carnage:
On November 12, 2015, a double suicide bomb ripped through the Bourj al-Barajneh neighbourhood of southern Beirut, killing 45 and injuring 200 more, many critically so. The terrorists attacked just before 6 pm, on a narrow and crowded residential and commercial street, ensuring maximum loss of life. More would have been murdered had not a local man, Adel Termos, tackled an approaching suicide bomber. Termos lost his life in the blast, but saved countless others with his act of courage.
On December 12, 2015, terrorists car-bombed, then suicide-bombed, the al-Zahra’a neighbourhood of Homs, Syria, killing at least 16 civilians and injuring over 50, according to initial reports from Syrian State media (later updates noted 20 dead and over 100 injured). The deaths and destruction from the initial car-bombing—near the Ahli Hospital—was made worse since the terrorists set off their bomb next to a natural gas delivery truck. Later, a terrorist returned to the scene and detonated his explosive vest among rescuers who had come to help the injured.
This pattern repeated itself on December 28, 2015, in al-Zahra’a, where a car bomb followed by a suicide bomb, killed up to 30 civilians, and injured over 100, according to Syrian state media initial reports. Again, on January 26, terrorists car and suicide bombed al-Zahra’a, killing at least 24 and injuring over 100, many critically-so, according to Syrian state media.
The al-Zahra’a district of Homs had been terror-bombed many times prior to the December 12 attacks, as have other areas of Homs, including the Ekrama district, which suffered a school bombing on October 1, 2014. There, terrorists car and suicide-bombed next to the school, killed 45 people, mostly children and women, according to al-Masdar News. Video footage showed terrified, maimed and dead children being carried away from the school.
The terror attacks are not limited to Homs. Over the past 5 years of this foreign war on Syria, Western-backed militants have committed such acts of terrorism all over Syria. On December 30, 2015, members of Da’esh (ISIS) triple-bombed Qamishli, north-eastern Syria, remote-detonating explosives in three restaurants, killing at least 16 civilians. On January 24, 2016 Da’esh again terror-bombed the city, killing at least three people.
The list of terror attacks in Syria, and neighbouring Lebanon and Iraq, is an endless and long list. Yet, while the vast majority of the victims are civilians, their deaths do not merit the same front-page coverage as similar acts do in the West; the terror attacks do not merit the same statements of condemnation and outpouring of sorrow issued by Western leaders when terrorism strikes elsewhere.
Immense Suffering in Beirut and Homs
I paid a visit to Bourj al-Barajneh and al-Zahara, in November and December 2015, respectively. I witnessed firsthand their narrow roads with their destroyed buildings and homes, which emanated an immense suffering that most Western media glossed over.
The Bourj al-Barajneh tragedy occurred one day before the November 13 attacks in Paris, yet the latter attack on the French capital would make headlines for weeks following; Facebook users changed their profile photos to images of the French flag; world leaders – who were largely silent on Beirut’s tragedy the day prior, as well as the repeated terror attacks in Syria – convened in Paris to march in solidarity with the victims.
Western media’s coverage of the Beirut attack was loaded with sectarian lexicon, essentially relegating those murdered civilians as belonging to a “Hezbollah stronghold” or a “Shia neighbourhood,” which to Western readers obscures the fact that – while indeed proudly supportive of Hezbollah – these are everyday humans who have been targeted by terrorism.
The Shia/Sunni Lebanese area is also home to many Christian and Palestinian residents. Visiting in the evening, as when the November 12 attacks occurred, I saw heavy pedestrian, motorcycle and automobile traffic along the narrow streets and lanes that host a number of shops and stalls.
At the site of the second explosion, residents had erected a memorial and large poster of Adel Termos, the young man who gave his own life to prevent further loss of lives. On the school door opposite, a photo of a Rawan Awad, a young teacher who was killed in the attacks. A local woman pointed to second-story windows, telling me, “the blood reached the windows up there, flesh, too. The blast was huge.” It was said to be the biggest explosion in Beirut for years.
Along the memorial were photos of other victims of these terror attacks: elderly, children, young men and women, victims of Western-backed terror and Western hypocrisy. Their lives didn’t merit worldwide sorrow and solidarity.
Adel Termos, the hero who prevented further loss of lives.
Je Suis… Blind and Deaf
The sting that the Lebanese people felt when the world’s attention was focused on Paris, the day after the massacre in Beirut, is a sting that Syrians have known deeply over the past five years.
Take the example of Homs’ al-Zahra’a. Any Western media reporting that does cover the repeated terrorist bombings of the neighborhood does so in sectarian and biased lexicon.
The neighbourhood is described as: “an Alawite” area; a “government-held” area (AP).
But it is not described in terms of its reality, a district comprising a majority of Alawis, but also significant numbers of Christians, Sunnis, and Shia, many of whom are Internally Displaced Syrians who have moved to this “government held” area after fleeing the terrorists’ violence in their own home areas of Aleppo, Idlib, and elsewhere.
The depiction of al-Zahra’a merely as “an Alawaite” district is in line with the NATO alliance’s sectarian project in Syria, a sectarianism which the vast majority of Syrians continue to refuse. Depicting al-Zahra’a merely as a “government held” area feeds into the Western narrative of obfuscating on the vast amount of support for the Syrian president, and further confuses readers as to the civilian suffering at each terrorist attack in al-Zahra’a.
This human suffering I saw on a December 15, 2015 visit to the neighbourhood, meeting with family members of the dead.
On the second story of what was the shell of his home, teenager Yousef Abdullah walked me through the ruins of the three story home housing two families, outside of which the car bombing had occurred just days prior. It was he who carried out the body of his 17 year old cousin, Caroline, crushed under rubble on the ground level.
The small clothing shop on ground level belonged to Anaya Abbas, a 50, killed in the bombing. Her son, Alaa al-Hamwi, had only days prior returned to see his family. One of the Syrian soldiers defending the Kuweires airbase against terrorist attacks, the al-Hamwi family suffered doubly, from worry over their long absent son, and now from the murder of Anaya Abbas.
Visiting al-Zahra’a one sees a vividly different face, a tormented face, than that which the corporate media allows. Many human stories abound, if journalists care to convey them. The sad hypocrisy is that when terrorist attacks occur on Western soil, these human stories are conveyed, ad naseum.
Homes opposite the terrorist car bombing blast in al-Zahra’a, Homs © Eva Bartlett
UN Selective on Terrorism
Syria’s Foreign and Expatriates Ministry has repeatedly issued letters to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) requesting that such acts of terrorism in Syria be officially condemned, and that action be taken against those states supporting, financing, and enabling terrorism in Syria, namely Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The letters specify that the terrorism being committed in Syria is not only by Da’esh (ISIS) but also by other terrorist groups, including “Jebhat al-Nusra, Jaish al-Islam, al-Jabha al-Islamiya, Jaish al-Fateh, Ahrar al-Cham,” and the so-called “Free Syrian Army”.
These letters are routinely ignored by UNSC and the Secretary-General, although they are based on the tenants of UN resolutions pertaining to terrorism.
It its latest letters, following the January 24, 2016 terror-bombings in al-Zahra’a, the Ministry noted the significance of their timing with respect to the upcoming Geneva talks.
Following the December 12, 2015 attacks, the Syrian Ministry sent their standard letters, requesting condemnation of the terrorism. The request was supported by Russia, with their own draft statement, which was rejected at the UNSC.
In the Face of Terror… You’re on Your Own
When the majority of the above-listed terror bombings have been claimed by Da’ish (ISIS), whom the West claims to be fighting, the glaring lack of condemnation of the Homs bombings, and the once-off condemnation of the Beirut bombings, reveals again the blatant hypocrisy of Western leaders.
In his November 13, 2015 address, President Obama, unsurprisingly, made no mention of either Beirut or Syria’s suffering under western-backed terrorists. Instead he called the Paris situation “heartbreaking” and uttered: “…we stand together with them in the fight against terrorism and extremism.”
Not to be outdone, Vice President Biden offered his “deepest condolences” and called the attacks “heartbreaking” “outrageous” and “tragic” and vowed, “We will look out for one another. We will stand together. We will never bow. We will never break. …We will respond. We will overcome. We will endure.”
In his November 21, 2015 address, Biden, in his opening remarks did actually mention the name “Beirut”, and commented, “in the face of terror we stand as one.” Yet, his address focused primarily on Paris—the “simple human acts” carried out by Parisians post Paris attack—and made no other mention of Beirut, nor the “simple human acts” carried out there. Like Beirut residents rushing to donate blood, post-attacks, for example.
Rather than addressing Beirut’s humanity, or even deigning to mention terror attacks carried out on Syrians throughout Syria, Biden used the rest of his address to talk about Syrian refugees and the “rigorous screening”, “fingerprinting” and background checks refugees go through to enter the US. In other words, he used his platform to negate true suffering in Syria, and instead subtly indoctrinate his audience into equating Syrians with terrorism.
Obama issued a proclamation “Honouring the Victims of the Attack in Paris” on November 15, 2015, ordering the US flag to be flown “at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts,”… and so on.
In a search of the website, using key terms like: “Bourj Barajneh”, “Burj al-Barajneh”, “Beirut”, “Zahra”, “Zahraa”, “Homs” + bombing, I came up with just one match, aside from the above-mentioned November 21VP Biden’s uttering of the name “Beirut” before his ode to Paris.
The entry was a Statement by NSC Spokesperson Ned Price, on the day of the Bourj al-Barajneh attacks. Neither Obama, nor Biden, deigned to personally make this statement.
One paragraph, the statement “condemns in the strongest terms today’s horrific terrorist attacks in Beirut, Lebanon that killed dozens and wounded hundreds more. We offer our deepest condolences to the families and other loved ones of those killed and injured in this violence. The United States will stand firm with the Government of Lebanon as it works to bring those responsible for this attack to justice….”
Compare the fiery rhetoric in the Paris statements with this meek Beirut statement. Little sorrow was expressed, nor unwavering solidarity, nor “fighting against extremism.”
Such is Western hypocrisy towards those murdered by Western-supported death squads.
Eva Bartlett is a freelance journalist and rights activist who has lived in the Gaza Strip since late 2008. She was aboard the Dignity, one of five Free Gaza missions to successfully sail to the Strip in 2008. Eva rode in ambulances during the 2008/2009 Israeli attacks on Gaza, and documented from a central Gaza hospital during the November 2012 Israeli attacks. She has worked extensively with Gaza's fishermen and farmers, accompanying them as they come under fire from the Israeli army. She keeps a blog In Gaza.

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