Iran’s definitive account of the Iraq war: Written by a female Iraqi Kurd

Iran’s definitive account of the Iraq war: Written by a female Iraqi Kurd

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

On September 22nd there was a terrible terrorist attack in the Iranian city of Ahvaz which killed 25 innocent people and wounded 70 other people. This was universally reported in the West as having occurred at a “military parade”, when it was actually a parade to commemorate the 1980 start of the Western-backed, Western-funded, Western-armed invasion which used Iraq to try to destroy the democratic 1979 Iranian Revolution.

But none of those accurate adjectives can be said in the West…no, no, no – it was just a no-reason-needed military parade, as if Iran was a warmongering nation prepping its fanatical people for imperialist adventures. (Iran has not invaded a country in well-over 200 years.)

The timing of the attack was obviously (though not primarily) a way to divert the world’s attention from the deadliest conflict of the last quarter of the 20th century. Instead of talking about what disaster and death was heaped on Iran from 1980-1988, it was Iranian “militarism” which was discussed and not anyone else’s.

But ho-hum, more misreporting on Iran. In other news: the sun rose this morning. This is just life for all socialist-inspired democratic revolutions – Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, China, etc., have all had their sufferings ignored, their mistakes amplified and their successes denied. To even raise this point makes one an unthinking “apologist”, an Islamofascist, a totalitarian commie, blah blah blah.

This is the front cover art for the book One Woman’s War: Da (Mother) written by Seyedeh Azam Hosseini. The book cover art copyright is believed to belong to Mazda Publishers.

The tragic event, and the subsequent false histories of the Western media, makes this an appropriate time to bring up what has become the most important literary reference for Iranians regarding the war – a book called Da. “Da” means mother in Kurdish, and not in Farsi. The book was written by a woman whose Iraqi Kurdish family had emigrated to Iran when she was a child.

How could the definitive account on the Iranian view of the Iran-Iraq War have been written by an Iraqi Kurd, and a female to boot?!

You would think Iranians hate Iraqis; you are certain that Iran hates women; and you assume that Iran has a war against the Kurds, just like Iraq, Turkey and Syria. If you assume everyone follows the dictates of capitalism’s identity politics, you likely would predict that this book is a litany of accusations and compiled hatreds towards Iran.

If you assume all these things it’s because you fail to realize that Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution was inspired by socialism, which demands a citizen and a government loudly banish racism from the public sphere. Much like this stoned surfer-dude American idiot who wrote an article titled Whoa. The Soviet Union Got Racial Equality Right Before America?, you are way, way, WAY off. (And when did America get racial equality “right”?)

For a comparison: Can anyone imagine that France’s definitive account on the Algerian War for Independence would come from a non-White? Their most famous work on Algeria is The Stranger by Albert Camus, who was an isolated-from-Algerians pied noir whose refusal to condemn French oppression was selfishly defined by the fact that he cared more for his mother’s comfort than a million dead Algerians. Heaven forbid that Madame Camus would have to relocate back to France, even if that meant ending a war and a 132-year occupation.… Camus’ view of morality is 100% rooted in Western capitalism individualism, after all, which is the reason its popularity still endures today.

But Iran had no problem making Da a huge best-seller despite the author’s Iraqi Kurdish roots; and, somehow, Iranian men took time out of their daily oppression of women to find out their thoughts and feelings on past experiences. The 700-page account of the war was read by everyone, including President Rohani.

The book is a memoir of Seyyedeh (indicating lineage from Prophet Mohammad) Zahra Hoseyni, a teenager who was living with her extremely poor but tight-knit family on the border city of Khorramshahr. The city was the first to be sneak-attacked by the Iraqis, and the massacres and devastation wrought there would be reflected by a Farsi pun on the city’s name: “City of Blood”.

A memoir of the last, worst traditional war in our modern times

The book is not an easy read, as Hoseyni recounts one tragedy after another.

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In short, for those attacked by Iraq the war was one day from hell after another, with each one worse than the next. Hunger, thirst, physical exhaustion, emotional exhaustion, the nightmares of screaming planes, repeatedly watching people go insane with the pain of mourning, every weary pause only giving rise to recent tragic memories, the constant filth and lack of clean water a bombarded people must deal with, actual nightmares when sleep does come, the perpetual sound of war which then makes silent pauses totally strange, and the constant, constant guilt of being alive combined with the knowledge that death from a shell could come at any moment.

So much of the book is something like a horror hallucination of the first few weeks of an unexpected, undeserved war, combined with a recounting of the vast citizen efforts to fight back.

Each according to their abilities, of course: Hoseyni is an young lioness fighting for the cubs of the Iranian nation and Khorramshahr. She accepts responsibility after responsibility, and even refuses to back down to proud & protective Iranian men in her insistence on going to the front to help amid the bullets and bombs. She volunteers as a corpse-washer, which turned out to be a never-ending job, and which is certainly a job few would want. Her beloved father and brother die at the front, but still she endures and gives, gives, gives. Everyone is looking at her and seeing a person with an iron sense of justice, duty and faith.

What I suggest makes this memoir so compelling and successful is that, in Hoseyni’s retelling, she remembers not only that every day was a living hell but that every moment within every day was a living hell. Hoseyni repeatedly talks about the constant abyss of mourning and horror opening up inside her at every moment; seemingly dozens of times a day she is assaulted by an event/tragedy/memory/feeling which could send a normal person to a hospital for weeks of recovery and therapy. It is unlikely that a memoir by a male would admit the incredibly sad emotions which any human would go through in Hoseyni’s situation.

And yet Hoseyni appeared to all as indomitable (even after she is wounded at the front). She simply said a prayer of “Ya Hossain” and rushed towards another difficult task nobody else wanted. She was the model defender of the nation – indeed, Iran’s war “Mother” is not even a “true” Iranian, in non-socialist logic — but the book reveals that she was able to live this ideal even though her feelings were the absolute opposite of proud glory.

Saying a prayer before a difficult task can go a very long way, but it’s this juxtaposition of a public persona of revolutionary steel combined with total inner crumbling which makes the book so compelling. How she could do what she did – when she could not even bring herself to eat, nor sleep, nor mourn day after day after day – is astounding and an inspiration to anyone sanctioned by injustice.

For those who are not just uninterested in religion but who also actively detest religion, I’m sorry to objectively report that a huge part of her strength came from her religious faith – she and her family were pious people who took their title of “Seyed” as a serious injunction to be moral examples. However, the family was also extremely politically aware and active – these were true revolutionaries; they were also so poor as to come from the “correct” class to qualify as a revolutionary, although such prejudices represent antiquated notions about who can or cannot be a socialist.

There is much to learn from the war memoirs from World War I, II, or the Holocaust, but Da is exceptional in that it is from our modern times. When she recounts her rage and disbelief at BBC Radio’s totally misguided coverage of the war, we in 2018 share her shock at “fake news”.

Da should be essential reading to any war hawk advocating invasion in any foreign country which has had a socialist-inspired revolution, because you will be facing a very unique type of people. Whether it be the USSR, China, Vietnam, Korea or Iran, these are societies which cannot be divided into tribes or identities, as they have achieved socialist cultural unity:

“I saw myself as a tree with deep roots, resisting being pulled from the ground. How could I allow myself to be uprooted? Although born in Basra, I felt no attachment to the place. I loved Iran…my love for Khorramshahr overwhelmed all reason and logic.”

The Western capitalist and anti-multicultural societies of continental Europe cannot imagine that an immigrant is capable of ever feeling this way, and thus many there want immigrants expelled or at least segregated.

But the old tricks of divide and conquer, Balkanisation or the political segregation of Lebanonization will not work in socialist-inspired nations. The author recounts how Saddam Hussein tried exactly that – telling Iranian Arabs to join their Arab brother – but only the most reactionary fell for such a stupid worldview.

Hoseyni talks about the MKO/MEK terrorist group (and I am only talking about them because Western nations and their propaganda outlets keep pushing them back into the spotlight): stealing corpses to inflate their body counts for propaganda purposes, attacking people who disagreed with them at public debates, working as spies for Iraq and giving them coordinates of places to bomb, attacking ardent revolutionaries and then literally rubbing salt or pepper in their wounds out of sadism. The idea that the MKO isn’t detested by 100% of Iranians, and that they have a zero percent chance of ever being rehabilitated – much less being democratically elected into power – is totally, totally absurd to Iranians. Again, why would anyone even talk about them anymore? Oh yes, because they are propped by the West, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

She also talks about what an exceptionally politically-open society Iran was in the early days of the Revolution, and few non-Iranians know that much of this remains true today. Parliament was open to anyone to come observe and even shout disruptions, Khomeini held public audiences for two hours twice a week and received anyone and everyone, elected representatives were easily accessible and lived the common, poor lives of a nation under war. All of this is in stark contrast to the leaders of seemingly every Arab nation not named “Algeria”, and it also shows the democratic bonafides, the more-than-majority support, of the Iranian Islamic Revolution: you can shudder at the word “Islamic” all you want, but the revolution was democratic in the truest sense of the word and no matter in what country that word is uttered.

Western culture is full of ‘war porn’, but Iran is not titillated by such things

“The fall of Khorramshahr and the things I had experienced in the past weeks had made me more aware of how people suffered.”

Such are the types of wisdoms Hoseyni tosses off, but there is no doubt that they are not false cliches for her, nor for millions of other Iranians.

It reminds me of a major problem with America and the West: they are so war-crazy, and yet everything they know about it – to anyone under 85 – is totally fictitious, video-game-like nonsense.

The American view of war is truly one constant cliche, where glory appears to be a feeling to run after but which Hoseyni proves it is actually the result of living through unwanted horrors and tragedies.

It’s true that the younger generation of Iranians has little memory of the sacrifices, bombardments and war rationing, but the way Iran and the US remember their war martyrs is so very different.

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Can you name one famous American solider who died in Iraq or Afghanistan? All I can think of is Pat Tillman, and that’s only because he was also an American football player (and who was killed by friendly fire). However, Iran is full of portraits and memorials to dead soldiers and even dead teenagers…one cannot even make a comparison of the psychological/emotional/human gravity of war in the minds of the average Iranian versus the average American.

My point is that, for all their fighting, ever since Vietnam Americans have essentially been hero-worshipping an empty solider’s uniform. Unless we are talking about rural Americans from their lower class, most Americans really have no personal/psychological connection to actual war, unlike Iranians.

Such people, like the 4-F Trump, grow enraged at taking anyone knee during the National Anthem to protest the undeniable mass incarceration/mass murder/mass oppression of an ethnic minority, but there is no truly human element present – their honouring is phony and faceless.

Say what you will about Iran, but you cannot say that.

Furthermore, Iranian martyrdom – where death is assured – is far, far different from the power-trip fantasies and motivations of the American solider and the American chickenhawk playing Call of Duty video games.

For Iran war is not a glory, but a horror, and whatever sacrifices the nation must make due to the Western Cold war…at least it is better than the Hot War. Befuddled Western “analysts” of Iran cannot imagine this type of logic playing such a large part in Iranian policymaking because they have zero experiences and comprehension of any war which is not just on a two-dimensional screen.

Iran fights in places like Syria, Iraq an Afghanistan because their allies, cousins and cultural-cousins are being attacked, and also because justice itself is being attacked; America fights wars because it seems like fun, because they have such neat toys to play with, and they fight without gallantry and without esteem from the locals they claim to be “fighting with”. America massacres and plunders; Iran’s forces are far closer to Mao’s Long March injunction that soldiers should not take even a pin from locals they were trying to liberate from fascism.

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Thirty years after the end of Iran’s “War of Sacred Defense” Iran’s “military parades” are attacked, but the world still doesn’t really comprehend exactly what the West is attacking in Iran. Da is an unsparing account of a civilian Islamic socialist revolutionary in wartime – reading this memoir would certainly help Westerners understand what they remain up against as they keep trying to implode Iran’s socialist-inspired democracy.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

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Dr. Saïd Bouamama: “Bouteflika Symbolizes the Freezing of Several Trends and It Does Not Make It Possible To Build Anything”

“Why was there so much support for the creation of Israel as a state and then? It is simply because this state serves as a bridgehead for all interventions, all strategies of interference, and so on. And so, we should not consider the fight as being only between Palestinians and Israelis. In fact, in confronting Israel, the Palestinians – and that is why it is a central cause in the anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggle – clash with the entire imperialist camp.”

Said-Bouamama_4c0a6.jpgSaïd Bouamama is a sociologist, activist and political Algerian residing in France. A doctor in socio-economics, he has written mainly on topics related to immigration, such as discrimination and racism.

Mohsen Abdelmoumen: What is your reading of the geopolitical situation that prevails in Syria at the moment?

Dr. Saïd Bouamama: The situation in Syria is at first a situation of failure of imperialism. In fact, what is happening in Syria has been an attempt to destabilize the Syrian state by supporting jihadist groups. We think what we want from Bashar al-Assad, but he has made a great service to mankind by stopping this destabilization and this attempt to balkanize Syria. Because in reality, it is a balkanization. If we look at all the last wars, what I call the new colonial wars, what is left? Iraq is cut in pieces, Afghanistan is a complete chaos, in Somalia, it is the slaughter, and Sudan is cut in two. In reality, there is such competition today between great powers that, in order to continue to make profits, it is necessary to destabilize states that may be states of resistance or states that do not accept the rules imposed by a number of large countries. This is what happened in Syria whose stake was first of all the control of the region and the access to the regional geostrategy, that is to say, the control of the oil resources of the region.

How do you explain that the Trump Administration threatens to strike at the positions of the Syrian Army, Iran, and Russia even though in reality, those who are encircled in Idlib are for the most part terrorists of Al Nosra and Daesh? Saving Idlib, isn’t that saving al-Nosra and Daech? Does the US want to save the imperialist soldiers al-Nusra and Daesh?

I think we need to become lucid and stop being naive. There is no consistent fight against terrorism on the part of the United States. In reality, they fight it when it suits them and they support it when it suits them. And it’s not new. It must be remembered that the first great advances of the so-called jihadist groups were in Afghanistan, and the pretext for supporting them was to oppose the Soviet Union. We must not forget that whenever the interest of the United States requires destabilization, they let these groups do. They are only fought when the interest of the United States is in question, and therefore there is not a consistent fight of the United States against them. There is a fight at a time, in pieces, and a support at other times. It’s important to keep in mind that the United States does not have a coherent policy, they know only the politics of their economic interest, even in destroying countries and provoking the massacre of the populations, and if it is necessary for that by supporting terrorist groups, well, they do it. Unfortunately, it was done before Syria and if we are not able to immunize, it will be done again elsewhere.

I interviewed Noam Chomsky a few years ago and he told me verbatim that Syria was going to be divided into several areas. There is currently a US redeployment in northern Syria. Do not you think there is a risk of total confrontation, especially between the United States and Russia?

In fact, the US project, at this stage, is part of a long process of destabilizing all states with an economic size, a geographical area, and oil and gas wealth or strategic minerals to balkanize them, to cut them into several pieces, because it’s easier to maintain domination in chaos. And so, we had a number of wars before. With Syria, it is the same project today, but there are other countries and, in particular, there is the will to balkanize Iran. Let us not forget that the United States has not given up on destabilizing Iran. But Iran, in terms of the balance of power, is another matter and the United States is extremely cautious. Russia has understood this very well and has made agreements. Russia is not naïve and understood if it continued to let this balkanization, it could be balkanized itself, this is the big project of the United States – and so Russia has understood very well that its interest was to stop this process.

Before the Chechen sector enters the game?

Exactly, and that is why we have such strong support from Russia to Syria and that agreements with Iran exist.

The Russians regard Syria and Iran as strategic depths.

Exactly. It’s like it’s an inside front. And the Russians are right. Every decline before the balkanization offensive is, in the long term, the danger of war with Russia which is increasing. And whenever there is a failure of this project of balkanization, it is the danger of war that recedes. And today, the good news is that they did not succeed in Syria. And so, it makes them a bit more cautious, but of course, they do not give up.

Do not you think that Algeria is another target of imperialism, especially US and Israeli?

Of course, it is a target and we can even say that if Syria had been defeated, Algeria would be the next target country. There is Iran and then Algeria. There are not thousands of other countries that have this geographical area and this economic depth, so Algeria is on the line of fire. Besides, there is a man to listen to, even if he is an idiot, it is Bernard-Henri Lévy. He often comes to unveil the strategies of imperialism because he wants to strut. This man has nevertheless declared publicly that Algeria actually means three countries and that it was necessary to separate South, North, and Kabylia, in three countries. We can see that behind this, there are spaces, places called think tanks in which they think about different types of divisions, and in Algeria, there is actually a cutting plan. If Algerians stop being patriots and to defend the integrity of the territory, excuses will be found to intervene.

According to you, are our revolutions, Algerians, and Africans, completed? Do not you think that we need a second wind to our revolutions to complete the struggle of our ancestors?

It is absolutely necessary. First, we must not feel guilty. We’ve come from so far. We must not underestimate what was the colonization of Algeria and what was slavery for the countries of sub-Saharan Africa. That is to say that the work is immense to recover from such a trauma. We must not say “we are zero”, etc. On the other hand, it is clear that the emancipatory project that led to independence was a project that required going much further than what we have done today. Issues as important as the issues of economic development, the distribution of wealth, the involvement of people in decisions, are still tasks ahead and so, yes, there is a need for a second wind. We also know that independence has given birth to a whole series of parasites, people who take advantage of the state apparatus to divert income, etc. and so there is indeed a need to refocus the process on those who have actually done it, those who have an interest in leading Algeria to real independence.

That is to say, if I understand you correctly, the sincere Algerian patriots who can find themselves among the young, within the population and the healthy vital forces of the nation?

Absolutely. And the matter of youth is, of course, an essential issue. When a part of the youth turns to the jihadists, we can not pretend that it is not important. This means that we have failed on a number of things and we must resume the fight. You know, young people just want to build their future. It is when the future becomes unthinkable when they can no longer imagine it, that they turn to the past and that charlatans can come to divert their legitimate anger. And so, yes, there is a need to take this breath and there is a need to recover the dynamics of the first two decades of independence. Remember the atmosphere when young people graduated from university in the years 1974-1975. It was full of hope for the future, it was the idea of building the country, it was the idea of agrarian reform and going to see the farmers, etc. We have to find that breath that has been lost notably because of parasites who have hijacked the process.

Do not you think that there is a real danger due to the various separatist movements in Algeria? Should the political and economic elite not be self-critical and remain alert to the geopolitical challenges that lie in wait for us? Can Algeria, according to you, go towards a gradual positive change well controlled without being afraid? Second question: has the red and black decade not vaccinated us against Islamist terrorists?

On the first question, yes, there are real dangers with the separatist movements, which nevertheless remain extremely minor, including in Kabylia.

And in Ghardaia.

Yes. In fact, one of the reasons for the development of these movements is that we have been shy about the issue of identity. Today, things are catching up, the Amazigh language is recognized, etc. but it took too long for it and when a right claim is not taken into account, charlatans can come to pick up the frustration. Algeria is pluricultural and multilingual and it is a wealth. There is no reason to consider this as a weakness, therefore, it must be accepted and pull the rug from under the feet to all who would like to exploit this issue.

On the side of the elites, there is no secret, all those who are attached, whatever their political and economic opinions, to the territorial integrity of Algeria and to true independence, must have in mind that this can only be done if there is a minimum of economic redistribution. That is to say that if there is no economic redistribution, if poverty sets in if people are in misery, charlatans can come again instrumentalize. That’s why our youth, even the one who listened to charlatans, is first and foremost a victim because in reality, if it had could think about her future, it would never have listened to these thugs.

You talk about the 1990s. Today, when we talk about the presence of Algerians at Daesh, they are very minor in comparison with the other peoples of the Maghreb.

Absolutely.

How do you analyze this? Have not we been vaccinated by the red decade?

Unfortunately, you are never totally vaccinated. But this has developed real resistance mechanisms and you must know that people who, at first, were able to listen to charlatans, turned away when they saw what this project of society was. There have been entire regions where huge votes have gone in favor of charlatans and which today do not want to hear about these people. So, we can see that it was a popular experience and, yes, there are antibodies in Algeria, stronger than in other countries, because there was this tragedy. We paid a high price for it. But be careful, as long as the causes are untreated, the disease can always come back and we return to the previous question about the distribution of economic wealth.

The fifth term of President Bouteflika is evoked. Do not you think that the time has come to accompany a process of renewal of the entire political class in Algeria, even at the level of “the opposition”, because, for me, the crisis is not only at the level of power, but also at the level of “the opposition”? Should the fifth term not be abandoned to inject new blood into Algeria and vaccinate the country against various risks, both internal and external? Should we not abandon this alternative of an additional term of the current president and go towards a change piloted – why not – by the army which remains the most structured force in Algeria? What is your opinion on this subject?

In any case, I am completely opposed to the idea of a fifth term. Today, Bouteflika symbolizes the freezing of several trends and it does not make it possible to build anything. I also think that there is a gap between the entire political class and the civil part of the nation. We must succeed in bringing to the political class all these young union activists, these doctors, all this generation that was born after. We must pass the baton on the basis, always, of territorial integrity and economic independence. It is time for a new generation to emerge.

President Bouteflika is very sick, very tired and he should give way to someone else.It’s common sense. What is your opinion about that?

Absolutely. It is an absolute necessity and we must also question the image we give to our own people and other peoples by keeping a sick president at all costs.

To say that we are against a fifth term is not to be unpatriotic or anti-national, on the contrary, we serve our country. Do not you think that those who are against a fifth term are the real patriots?

Absolutely. I think being a patriot today means being against the fifth term. Of course.

There is a country whose people are legally killed, it is Palestine. Do not you think that Israel, in addition to being a rogue state, is reaping all the benefits of the problems associated with the various US strategies to balkanize the Arab-Muslim region?

Of course. Why was there so much support for the creation of Israel as a state and then? It is simply because this state serves as a bridgehead for all interventions, all strategies of interference, and so on. And so, we should not consider the fight as being only between Palestinians and Israelis. In fact, in confronting Israel, the Palestinians – and that is why it is a central cause in the anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggle – clash with the entire imperialist camp. And Israel is not isolated, because precisely, there is this support. In reality, let’s imagine that tomorrow there is a democratic and secular Palestinian state, where Muslims, Christians, atheists live together, the end of Israel would mean that the whole imperialist strategy has failed. Israel is a tool of the great powers and of course benefits from imperialist strategies.

What’s left of Frantz Fanon’s message?

Unfortunately, Fanon’s message has been largely forgotten. Fanon said: “pay attention to the emergence of business managers of the West in the newly independent countries”, that is to say, people who will do the work the West did before with its army. It tends to be forgotten. The message of hope is that, on Frantz Fanon, in particular, we see his name come back while he had completely disappeared. A new generation rediscovers Fanon, unfortunately after several decades of forgetfulness, and we see more and more Fanon quoted and more and more young people take back his image. There is a return to Fanon and this is good news.

What prompted you to write your book “Manuel stratégique de l’Afrique“?

What prompted me to write this book was the tiredness of the wars that followed each other. And in “wars”, I put the black decade in Algeria until the French intervention in Mali. The question was “what is happening on this continent?” and the need to answer all the theories that were given to us, which were culturalist theories, that is to say we were told the war in Algeria as an opposition between Muslims and military, elsewhere we were told that it was tribes that were fighting each other. All of this seemed completely wrong to me in relation to the realities. So I went to look at what was common in all these wars. Of course, I had intuitions and I actually came across the confirmation of my intuitions. All these wars have one thing in common: the economic challenge. Whether in Algeria, we must have in mind the interests of the major powers for Algerian oil and gas, whether it is in the Congo with these wars that do not end and the wealth of the Congo. In fact, the African continent is the richest continent and the continent where we still make discoveries of ores and oil in the sea offshore, and it is, therefore, an enormous challenge for the great powers and there are wars to control the spaces of raw materials. In addition, the great fear of Western countries was the emergence of new countries like China, India or Brazil that trade with African countries and trade with more egalitarian rules and with less domination. And, indeed, it is the direct interest of the great imperialist powers that is at stake. When Algeria makes a contract with China for the construction of roads, etc., you imagine that those who used to consider Algeria as their market are not happy. When it is the Congo that has a contract, Belgium cannot be happy. And so, there are these two factors that combine and explain the African drama, because it’s a real drama. From Algiers to the Congo, there have been dozens of wars since independence, and I have only spoken of wars since independence, I did not talk about wars of independence. I just reported the ones from 1960 until today. All these wars are the same.

Why did you choose the Investing’action editions of our friend Michel Collon? Have other publishers refused to publish your book? Is your book disturbing? Have you been censored?

No, I have not been censored. I did not even think of presenting this book to other publishers for the simple reason that I know very well where we are today in many publishing houses on anti-imperialist issues. This project was born following a number of articles that I wrote on the news and where, while talking with Michel, he told me: “But Saïd, you do not realize, you told us about Algeria, you told us about Congo, you told us about this and that, when do you make us an overall book?” This is how this book was made. Quite frankly, I do not see major publishers taking it back today. It is unimaginable in the French-speaking world. It is different in other countries, for example in England.

Or in the United States.

Yes, in the United States, it would be different, but in the French-speaking world, it is clear that publishing houses today are closed on these issues.

What the committed, anti-imperialist, intellectual that you are, can say to the anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist resistance fighters?

That we must never despair of peoples. There are times when we believe that things are over, there are times when we despair of seeing failures, but in reality, as long as oppression exists, resistance exists, and we are sometimes surprised that two years after our despair, well, there is an offensive in a country we did not think at all. I think we came out of the recoil period. We must not underestimate what happened in Syria, which is the end of this process of decline; we must not underestimate the resistance in Latin America, Venezuela, Nicaragua, etc.

In Cuba.

In Cuba, yes. All this points to one thing: since the collapse of the Soviet Union, we were going from recoil to recoil, people were losing, losing, losing. And there, there is a stop. Of course, we have retreated so much that we have trouble to learn the facts. But if we combine all this, if we look at the struggles in all countries, we see a youth that mobilizes, etc. So, yes, in the short term, at a year or two, there is no immediate change, but we see that people are beginning to learn from this period of twenty-five years of decline. And today, we have breakpoints. For example, they eliminated Gbagbo, but look at the number of protesters demanding that Gbagbo come back. It was unimaginable a few years ago. And so, we can see that something is moving in anti-imperialism and I think we are entering a new mobilization sequence. That’s for the southern countries. For here, it’s to us to be up to it, to live up to the challenge and to make known the struggles that will develop.

Do not you think that we need a global anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist front that will be decisive in the struggles ahead?

My previous book, just before the last one, is a book called “La Tricontinentale : les peuples du Tiers-Monde à l’assaut du ciel “. Why did I write this book? Because the tri-continental conference in Cuba in 1965-1966 was the moment in which there was a unity of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and that at the same time, all the progressive movements in Europe were in support of the Tricontinental. It was the moment when we were furthest, I think, in this movement. If I wrote this book, it’s because I think it’s time to find that kind of dynamic.

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Looking to the Past, not ISIS, for the True Meaning of Islam

Emir Abdelkader, 19th century Muslim humanist and sheikh

[Ed. note – British journalist Robert Fisk has published an interesting historical retrospect on Abdelkader ibn Muhieddine, or Emir Abdelkader, an Algerian Muslim leader of the 19th century who fought against French imperialism and was a great champion of human rights–of all people. Abdelkader intervened at one point to save a community of Christians in Damascus, Syria, where he spent a portion of his life, and while Fisk doesn’t bother to point it out, his act of saving Syrian Christians is something he shares in common with the present-day leader of Syria, Bashar Assad.

I thought it timely to post such an article since we’ve just seen a deranged individual arrested in Portland, Oregon after allegedly stabbing three people, killing two of them, while spouting hatred for Muslims–a man whose last name is “Christian” no less. So you’ll see a lengthy excerpt from Fisk’s essay on Abdelkader, along with a link to the original article, and just below that I’m also tossing in a video of a group of Syrians, including about 3,000 students, taking a walking tour of Aleppo’s recently-liberated historic areas. A Syrian woman you’ll see interviewed in the video, Anushka Arakelyan, says she hopes that the city will one day be “the same as it was before the war.”

“There are no nationalities here. All people love each other; all live together, rejoice together, cry together and wait together,” she added.

“Aleppo will be the same as it was before the war. We hope and wait,” Arakelyan said.

“As one Russian song says, we hope and wait, and we will wait and hope,” she added.

“We love Aleppo very much. Aleppo is a very good city, very hospitable city. I’m very happy to live here. Here, there are no nationalities. All people love each other; all live together, rejoice together, cry together and wait together,” she concluded. (Uprooted Palestinians )

It would seem, from this lady’s remarkable words, that there are plenty of Muslims who today carry on in the spirit of Abdelkader, and that therefore we don’t have to look to the past to find “the true meaning of Islam”–plenty of examples we can point to in the present. ]

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We must look to the past, not Isis, for the true meaning of Islam

By Robert Fisk

After the Manchester massacre… yes, and after Nice and Paris, Mosul and Abu Ghraib and 7/7 and the Haditha massacre – remember those 28 civilians, including children, killed by US Marines, four more than Manchester but no minute’s silence for them? And of course 9/11…

Counterbalancing cruelty is no response, of course. Just a reminder. As long as we bomb the Middle East instead of seeking justice there, we too will be attacked. But what we must concentrate upon, according to the monstrous Trump, is terror, terror, terror, terror, terror. And fear. And security. Which we will not have while we are promoting death in the Muslim world and selling weapons to its dictators. Believe in “terror” and Isis wins. Believe in justice and Isis is defeated.

So I suspect it’s time to raise the ghost of a man known as the Emir Abdelkader – Muslim, Sufi, sheikh, ferocious warrior, humanist, mystic, protector of his people against Western barbarism, protector of Christians against Muslim barbarism, so brave that the Algerian state insisted his bones were brought home from his beloved Damascus, so noble that Abe Lincoln sent him a pair of Colt pistols and the French gave him the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour. He loved education, he admired the Greek philosophers, he forbade his fighters to destroy books, he worshipped a religion which believed – so he thought – in human rights. But hands up all readers who know the name of Abdelkader.

We should think of him now more than ever.

He was not a “moderate” because he fought back savagely against the French occupation of his land. He was not an extremist because, in his imprisonment at the Chateau d’Amboise, he talked of Christians and Muslims as brothers. He was supported by Victor Hugo and Lord Londonderry and earned the respect of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte (later Napoleon III) and the French state paid him a pension of 100,000 francs. He deserved it.

When the French invaded Algeria, Abdelkader Ibn Muhiedin al-Juzairi (Abdelkader, son of Muhiedin, the Algerian,1808-1883, for those who like obituaries) embarked on a successful guerrilla war against one of the best equipped armies in the Western world – and won. He set up his own state in western Algeria – Muslim but employing Christian and Jewish advisors – and created separate departments (defence, education, etc), which stretched as far as the Moroccan border. It even had its own currency, the “muhamediya”. He made peace with the French – a truce which the French broke by invading his lands yet again. Abdelkader demanded a priest to minister for his French prisoners, even giving them back their freedom when he had no food for them. The French sacked the Algerian towns they captured, a hundred Hadithas to suppress Abdelkader’s resistance. When at last he was defeated, he surrendered in honour – handing over his horse as a warrior – on the promise of exile in Alexandria or Acre. Again the French betrayed him, packing him off to prison in Toulon and then to the interior of France.

Yet in his French exile, he preached peace and brotherhood and studied French and spoke of the wisdom of Plato and Socrates, Aristotle and Ptolemy and Averoes and later wrote a book, Call to the Intelligent, which should be available on every social media platform. He also, by the way, wrote a book on horses which proves he was ever an Arab in the saddle. But his courage was demonstrated yet again in Damascus in 1860 where he lived as an honoured exile. The Christian-Druze civil war in Lebanon had spread to Damascus where the Christian population found themselves surrounded by the Muslim Druze who arrived with Isis-like cruelty, brandishing swords and knives to slaughter their adversaries.

Abdelkader sent his Algerian Muslim guards – his personal militia – to bash their way through the mob and escort more than 10,000 Christians to his estate. And when the crowds with their knives arrived at his door, he greeted them with a speech which is still recited in the Middle East (though utterly ignored these days in the West).

“You pitiful creatures!” he shouted. “Is this the way you honour the Prophet? God punish you! Shame on you, shame! The day will come when you will pay for this … I will not hand over a single Christian. They are my brothers. Get out of here or I’ll set my guards on you.”

Muslim historians claim Abdelkader saved 15,000 Christians, which may be a bit of an exaggeration. But here was a man for Muslims to emulate and Westerners to admire.

His fury was expressed in words which would surely have been used today against the cult-like caliphate executioners of Isis. Of course, the “Christian” West would honour him at the time (although, interestingly, he received a letter of praise from the Muslim leader of wildly independent Chechnya). He was an “interfaith dialogue” man to please Pope Francis.

Abdelkader was invited to Paris. An American town was named after him – Elkader in Clayton County, Iowa, and it’s still there, population 1,273. Founded in the mid-19th century, it was natural to call your home after a man who was, was he not, honouring the Rights of Man of American Independence and the French Revolution? Abdelkader flirted with Freemasonry – most scholars believe he was not taken in – and loved science to such an extent that he accepted an invitation to the opening of the Suez Canal, which was surely an imperial rather than a primarily scientific project. Abdelkader met De Lesseps. He saw himself, one suspects, as Islam’s renaissance man, a man for all seasons, the Muslim for all people, an example rather than a saint, a philosopher rather than a priest.

But of course, Abdelkader’s native Algeria is a neighbour of Libya from where Salman Abedi’s family came, and Abdelkader died in Syria, whose assault by US aircraft – according to Abedi’s sister – was the reason he slaughtered the innocent of Manchester. And so geography contracts and history fades, and Abedi’s crime is, for now, more important than all of Abdelkader’s life and teaching and example. So for Mancunians, whether they tattoo bees onto themselves or merely buy flowers, why not pop into Manchester’s central library in St Peter’s Square and ask for Elsa Marsten’s The Compassionate Warrior or John Kiser’s Commander of the Faithful or, published just a few months ago, Mustapha Sherif’s L’Emir Abdelkader: Apotre de la fraternite?

They are no antidotes for sorrow or mourning. But they prove that Isis does not represent Islam and that a Muslim can earn the honour of the world.

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The Complete History of Nasser, the Icon of Arabism [English Subtitles]

A must see to understand why Syria and its LION are WANTED

 

Islamic State Eyes North Africa: Hot Issue on Global Agenda

Islamic State Eyes North Africa: Hot Issue on Global Agenda
PETER KORZUN | 10.04.2017 | WORLD

Islamic State Eyes North Africa: Hot Issue on Global Agenda

The Islamic State (IS) fighters are trying to flee Mosul. No doubt, the US-supported Iraqi forces will establish control over the city pretty soon. At first, IS militants will leave Iraq for the province of Deir-ez-Zor, Syria, to intensify fighting there. But with Syria no longer a safe haven, they’ll have to move elsewhere looking for weak points, like the countries of Maghreb.

Roughly, 8-11 thousand jihadi fighters come from Maghreb countries. The numbers vary according to different estimates. Some of the militants will lose lives on the battlefield, some will lay down their arms, but a large part will continue the efforts to reach the coveted goal of establishing a caliphate. With the battle experience received in Syria and Iraq, these seasoned fighters will pose a great threat to the stability of their respective homelands.

It has already started. Algeria faces a security challenge. The war against jihadism has turned Algeria into one of Africa’s top military powerhouses. In the past 20 years, Algeria has spent more on its military than all three of its immediate neighbors — Mo­rocco, Libya and Tunisia — com­bined.

Algeria is a country with a 1,200 km coastline. If waves of asylum seekers hit Europe from there, the Old Continent will be in real trouble. Besides, the country is a key supplier of oil and gas to the West. The implications of internal conflict in Algeria could be a real nightmare. Russia helps to prevent it and, thus, save Western Europe.

At least 6 thousand of IS fighters are Tunisians. Some of them hold prominent positions in the IS and the Nusra Front (Jabhat Fatah al-Sham) in Syria. Many Tunisian extremists are affiliated with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which is active in a half-dozen countries across North Africa. Tunisia is at odds over what to do if and when they come home. These fighters would have the capabilities and cultural familiarity to potentially create a formidable and sustained destabilizing force in Tunisia. Meanwhile, Tunisian security forces break up one IS recruiting cell after another.

Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco face threats from the East as well as from the South, where they have to counter the emerging «Sahara-Sahel Front». Islamists from Mali, Niger and Mauritania are regrouping to expand the zone of influence. For instance, Al-Qaeda militants have recently attacked a Malian army post near the border of Burkina Faso.

In North and West Africa, Al Qaeda is on the rise again. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has withstood the chokehold of the Algerian security services, US drones, and the French-led intervention in Mali, to launch a range of attacks in recent years, whether storming a beach resort in Ivory Coast or conducting a low-level insurgency in northern Mali.

A number of terrorist groups operating in Mali and neighboring areas – Ansar Dine, al-Mourabitoun, the Massina Brigades, the Sahara Emirate – united this February into one organization called Nusrat-ul-Islam. The newly formed group pledged allegiance to Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah, al-Qaida leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri and the leader of al-Qaida’s North African franchise Abu Musab Abdul Wadud.

Al-Qaeda and its affiliates are challenged by the IS. In November 2016, the Islamic State in Greater Sahara was formed, led by Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi.

The IS militants may regroup in the war-torn Libya. This country is probably the weakest link among Maghreb states. Defense officials have said the hardline Sunni Muslim militants are considering moving their headquarters to that country. A US military intervention is an option. According to Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, head of the Pentagon’s Africa Command, «The instability in Libya and North Africa may be the most significant near-term threat to U.S. and allies’ interests on the continent». Russia has been asked to intervene by Libyan political and military leaders.

The armed forces of Maghreb countries are getting prepared. The Moroccan military has just held exercises Flintlock-2017 with the US. Weapons systems, like, for instance, Russian Mi-28N Night Hunter attack helicopters, are procured to make the counterterrorist operations more effective. On March 15th, 2016, King Mohamed VI visited Moscow to sign several important agreements, including the agreement on mutual protection of classified information on military and military-technical matters and the declaration on the fight against international terrorism. Morocco is interested in strengthening its military capabilities with Russian weapons.

Last year, Russia provided Algerian and Tunisian authorities with intelligence and military aid to strengthen counterterrorism efforts. The package included Russian high-resolution satellite imagery of key Algerian border crossings with Tunisia, Libya, Chad and Mali. The imagery has enabled Algerian authorities to thwart several attempts by terrorists and insurgents to infiltrate Algerian borders. Algeria has shared this data with Tunisia.

Russia has close military cooperation with the states of the region. A country with a significant Muslim minority, about 10% of its popula­tion, it has been battling jihadists in the Caucasus for a number of years. It understands the problem and has vast experience to share. Unlike the US and other Western powers, Russia does not accompany its aid with lectures about human rights or political demands pushing for «democra­tic reforms». As Rus­sian armaments have proven themselves on the battlefield, it seems likely that Maghreb governments under terrorist threat will increasingly turn towards Moscow.

Today, Islamists of all kinds, especially the IS, are emerging as a very serious threat for the United States, its NATO allies and Russia. Despite the existing differences on Ukraine and a host of other issues where Russia and the West are on opposite side of the barricades, cooperation on fighting the threat is possible and necessary. After all, the enemy is common and its deadly activities go far beyond the scope of a regional threat.

Russia and the West could coordinate activities in Libya. Sharing intelligence and cooperating in joint special operations against key targets could be a start of a broader process. Russia and the US-led West could launch preliminary talks on the wording of a hypothetical UN Security Council resolution to make it approved if an international effort will be required to keep the region from abyss.

North Africa should not become a divisive issue to complicate the relations between Russia and the West. The situation calls for cooperation and dialogue. The IS will soon become a thing of the past if Russia and the West set aside what divides them and concentrate on what brings them together. This approach will benefit all.

The Western roots of “Middle-Eastern” terrorism

February 14, 2017

By Amir NOUR[1]

The Western roots of “Middle-Eastern” terrorism

Convinced that terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes, is unacceptable and unjustifiable, member States of the United Nations were finally able to adopt, on September 8, 2006, a common approach within the framework of the “United Nations global counter-terrorism strategy ». But, ten years later, the “international community” has yet to agree on a consensus definition of the common enemy, which continues to grow and expand, thus inflicting devastation and untold misery, mainly to the States and the peoples of the Arab and Muslim world.

However, in a bitter irony, and in total defiance of established historical truths, these very victims and their majority religion -Islam- are accused by some of the crime of sponsoring transnational terrorism, hence jeopardizing international peace and security.

But who is really to be held liable for the birth and expansion of the phenomenon of violence in modern times, against the consequences of which a number of visionary thinkers like Malek Bennabi and Eric E. Hobsbawm had yet forewarned the world a century ago already?

The opinions exposed in this paper on this burning topic aren’t expressed by Muslim officials or thinkers. They are those of Westerners, at different levels of authority and moral and political responsibility, representing the obverse and the reverse of the terrorism medal, and pointing out the historical responsibility of some Western governments They are representative of a “politically incorrect” voice whose echo is barely audible in the middle of the media tumult skillfully orchestrated by the new “self-righteous”.

Terrorism, Islam and treason of the clerks

Recently, magistrate Vincent Sizaire, author of the book titled “L’Imposture sécuritaire”, explained[2]that the characterization of terrorism is more about political calculation than legal hermeneutics, since it is necessarily the result of a process of balance of power and political assessment, at the end of which the powers to be tend to apply it in a more or less discretionary manner to a particular criminal rather than another. Sizaire highlights how it is problematic, today, to use the same term to refer to activities undertaken by fanatical and obscurantist groups, and to actions of political opponents of authoritarian regimes.

Therefore, there can obviously be no question for the need to put forward a new definition of this concept, one less equivocal. Indeed, it should be pointed out that, to date, no one definition of terrorism has gained universal acceptance. Alex Schmid and Albert Jongman identify 109 different definitions[3]. The United Nations still can’t find an agreed upon definition among its member States since December 17, 1996, date of adoption by the General Assembly of resolution 51/210, by which it was decided to create a special Committee to develop a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. It’s so controversial a debate that, according to Oliver Libaw, even in the United States -where the “Global War on Terror” was launched in 2001- “it turns out that no one is all that sure just what ‘terrorism’ is”[4].

Thus, the future still looks bright for the famous and often-cited claim that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”[5]. Never mind! For one school of thought in the West, terrorism, barbarity and intolerance are consubstantial to Islam as a religion. Consequently, in the face of the “crazy Muslim zealots” who “see progress as an evil, tolerance as a weakness and pacifism as a sin”, and “call for murder and destruction”, resistance and relentless struggle are to be opposed within a “long Fourth World War”[6], akin to those waged by the “Free World” against fascism and nazism during the First and Second World Wars, and against communism during the third world war, presumably completed with the end of the cold war in 1989.

Nothing seems to shake the certainties of the proponents of this “dominant thought” often described as neoconservative, mainly conveyed by Western and Israeli think tanks, and relayed by their powerful mainstream media. And it would be pointless to remind them, for instance, that in the absence of a comprehensive international convention on terrorism-a result of the lack of a consensus definition that should be distinguished from the legitimate struggle of peoples for self-determination and which should include “State terrorism”- Arab and Muslim States have developed their own legal instruments within their regional groups; that in the 1990s, a country like Algeria fought alone against terrorism -before a suspicious international silence- that cost her more than 200,000 deaths and economic losses estimated at more than $ 30 billion; that 95% of lives lost to “terrorist barbarity” are to be found among Muslims[7]; that the highest official authorities of Islam have condemned without appeal both the ideology and actions of terrorist groups; and that the overwhelming majority of Muslim populations reject terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, as confirmed by statistics provided by Western survey institutes and agencies themselves.

In his time, Julien Benda denounced the “betrayal of the clerks”. More recently, Pascal Boniface pin the “intellectual counterfeiters” who bear a heavy responsibility in “the place occupied by lies in the public debate”. He targets in particular those who tend to equate Islam and terrorism by referring to “fascislamism” and contribute to nurture a neoconservative approach that thrives in the West since the 9/11 attacks.

We have already addressed this issue of Islam as a mobilizing and unifying scarecrow in the West[8]. We have reported “a dangerous semantic shift that we constantly observe since the fall of the Berlin Wall: from ‘counter-terrorism’ actions, we jumped to war against ‘Islamic terrorism’, and then to the fight against ‘Islamic extremism’ “. And we have, inevitably, raised the following question: “Are we soon going to abandon superfluous adjectives and hypocritical euphemisms to openly claim the war against Islam itself ?”. Since then, time and events seem to have proved us right…

Responsibility of the West regarding transnational terrorism

Some people believe that radical Islamism and jihadism are not an exclusive “creation” of the West. To think otherwise, they argue, would be to overestimate the Western influence in areas where many other local and international factors have contributed to their development over a long period of time. That is certainly right, and so is the fact that certain misguided policies pursued by Western powers, particularly by Anglo-Saxon countries, have greatly contributed to the emergence and expansion of these phenomena, especially since the iconic events of 9/11 and their disastrous ‘by-products’: the Afghan and Iraqi military expeditions.

Britain’s role

This view is shared by Mark Curtis, who documented in a book[9] the collusion of the United Kingdom with Islamism since the last century. Based on reliable documentation and government archives, he dissects an aspect of British foreign policy, which has remained curiously ignored or deliberately obscured by the mainstream media. This collusion, he says, has “a long history which has contributed not only to the rise of radical Islam itself, but also to that of international terrorism, which the new strategy of national security of the UK Government has designated as the biggest threat to the country”, and that the highest ranking officer of the British army has identified as “the fight of our generation, maybe our Thirty Years’ War”.

Curtis says that the share of responsibility of London in the emergence of the terrorist threat goes well beyond the impact its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have had on a few individuals. The most important fact in this story is, according to him, that the successive labour and conservative governments have, for decades, connived with radical Islamic forces, including terrorist organizations. They have, sometimes, trained and financed them in order to promote specific foreign policy objectives, with a view to desperately preserving what was left of British power and influence internationally, mainly in areas considered as sensitive but where it was no longer possible to impose their will and interests unilaterally or by relying on other local allies.

The role of the United States of America

In his book[10] published in 2005, Robert Dreyfuss meticulously documents the American role in this “Devil’s Game”. Drawing on archival research and interviews with policymakers and officials of the CIA, the Pentagon and the State Department, he analyzes the consequences of “sixty years of misguided efforts” on the part of the United States in order to dominate the economically and strategically vital Middle East region. Dreyfuss argues that America’s historic alliance with the Islamic right is greatly to blame for the emergence of Islamist terrorism. He concludes by stating that “far from promoting democracy and security”, this policy, which continues to this day, “ensures a future of blunders and blowback”.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., nephew of the late U.S. President J.F. Kennedy, also considered the long history of the violent interventions of his country in the region. He explains in a long article[11] in “Politico” magazine why we should look beyond convenient explanations of religion and ideology and examine instead the more complex rationales of history and oil “and how they often point the finger of blame back at our own shores”. He also describes how “over the past seven decades, the Dulles brothers, the Cheney gang, the neocons and their ilk have hijacked that fundamental principle of American idealism and deployed our military and intelligence apparatus to serve the mercantile interests of large corporations and particularly, the petroleum companies and military contractors that have literally made a killing from these conflicts”.

Moreover, a Foreign Policy Journal article[12] tells us that the White House had made the decision to support the armed radical Jihadists in Syria (that would later emerge as ISIL and Jabhat Al-Nusra) despite the warnings of the intelligence agencies, which provided for the advent of the Islamic State. This amazing information was confirmed by former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Lieutenant General Michael Flynn –after he resigned from his post in April 2014, much to everyone’s surprise- who was previously the Director of information for the Center of command of special operations and, in that capacity, had the main mission to hunt down Usama Bin Laden and dismantle Al-Qaeda.

It is worth noting that this piece of information and other related revelations have been reported in a documentary film[13] broadcast by ARTE-TV channel, which explains “how, from Bush to Obama, America has left prosper the blind terror that Daesh took over”. In this film, former members of the intelligence community, representatives of U.S. forces in Iraq, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and terrorism experts trace, with supporting evidence and archives, the thirteen years of “the lost war on terror”.

Last but not least, during the 2016 presidential campaign, the GOP nominee, Donald Trump, said[14]that he meant exactly what he had declared previously in Florida, when he called President Barack Obama the “founder of ISIS”. And when the conservative radio show host, Hugh Hewitt, tried to clarify Trump’s position by saying he understood him to mean “that he (Obama) created the vacuum, he lost the peace”, D. Trump objected, declaring “No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS. I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton”.

France’s role

In his latest book[15], French philosopher Michel Onfray states that “terrorist Islam” was partially created by the bellicose West. Denouncing what he calls “contemporary colonial wars” conducted by some Western countries including France, he argues that Islamic regimes only started to threaten the West once, and only once the latter had indeed threatened them by brutal force.

For his part, Pierre Conesa, former senior official in the Ministry of defense, said[16] that his country “is paying a high price for a war that is not its own”. In this regard, he cites the example of the intervention in Libya where France has “done on its own account what Bush did in Iraq, which is destroying a regime and leaving behind chaos it has no ability to manage”.

In Syria, especially during the period when Laurent Fabius was the head of the Quai d’Orsay, this dubious interventionist policy resulted in total support to the rebels fighting against Al-Assad regime. Believing that the departure of the latter “is only a matter of weeks”, Fabius said in August 2012 “Bashar Al-Assad would not deserve to be on Earth”. And in December of the same year, reacting to Washington’s decision to place Jabhat Al-Nusra on its list of terrorist organizations, he declared: “All Arabs were fiercely against” the American position “because, on the ground, they (the elements of Al-Nusra) do a good job”[17].

In conclusion, we would like to invite the public to ponder the wisdom of a thinker who once said that in the past weapons were manufactured to wage wars, but today wars are manufactured to sell weapons.

Yet unfortunately, it has to be recognized that the rhetoric on the “clash of civilizations”, constantly and tirelessly repeated by some since the end of the cold war and the subsequent disappearance of the “indispensable enemy”, seems to have achieved the objective assigned to it, chiefly by those who benefit from and pull the strings of the perpetuation of conflicts all over the world. This rhetoric has thus produced a dangerous “clash of fundamentalisms’, which is updating the notions of “revenge of God”, “Crusades” and “Jihad”, and adding new ones such as “islamofascism”. The consequence of this dramatic turn of events is illustrated, on the sought and obtained ground of confrontation, by a “clash of barbarities”.

In today’s increasing international turmoil, nobody should be blind to the fact that the biggest danger associated with this change is that since the end of the second world war, the world has entered the age of the “supreme weapon” –the atomic bomb- and other weapons of mass destruction, and that extremists on all sides are promising and fervently promoting a “Cosmic War” for “the triumph of Good over Evil”. For some of them, it is a religious war, the ultimate war prior to the Apocalypse or the end of the world, whose theatre of operations one party sets in “Armageddon” and the other in “Dabiq”, both places situated in the Levant, comprising Syria which is being today put to fire and sword…

Isn’t it insane to believe that our civilized world is unable to find a path other than the one leading toward Mutually Agreed Destruction?

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  1. Algerian researcher in international relations, author of the book “L’Orient et l’Occident à l’heure d’un nouveau Sykes-Picot” (East and West in time of a new Sykes-Picot”, Alem El Afkar, 2014.
  2. In Le MONDE Diplomatique, “Une notion piégée: quand parler de terrorisme ?” (A Tricky notion: When to talk about terrorism?), August 2016.
  3. A. Schmid & A. Jongman, “Political Terrorism“, 1988.
  4. O. Libaw, “How Do You Define Terrorism ?“, ABC News Network, October 11, 2015.
  5. C. Friedersdorf, “Is One Man’s Terrorist Another Man’s Freedom Fighter ?”, The Atlantic, May 16, 2012.
  6. Norman Podhoretz, “World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism”, Doubleday, 2007.
  7. 2015 Global Terrorism Index report shows that terrorist attacks are concentrated in just five countries with a Muslim majority: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria, totalling 78% of all deaths and 57% of all attacks; the West is remarkably safe from terrorism as 2.6% ‘only’ of terrorist deaths occurred there since the beginning of the 21st century (excluding the 3,000 deaths from September 11, 2001, this proportion falls to 0.5%).
  8. In our book “L’Orient et l’Occident…”, op. cit.
  9. M. Curtis, “Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion With Radical Islam“, Serpent’s Tail, 2010.
  10. R. Dreyfuss, “Devil’s Game: How The United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam“, Metropolitan Books, 2005.
  11. http://www.politico.eu/article/why-the-arabs-dont-want-us-in-syria-mideast-conflict-oil-intervention/
  12. B. Hoff, “Rise of Islamic State Was a Willful Decision“, 7 August 2015.
  13. Titled “Du 11 septembre au Califat: l’histoire secrète de Daesh” (From 9/11 to the Caliphate: The Secret History of ISIS), August 30, 2016.
  14. Tal Kopan, “Donald Trump: I meant that Obama founded ISIS, literally”, CNN, August 12, 2016.
  15. M. Onfray, “Penser l’Islam” (Thinking Islam), éditions Bernard Grasset, Paris, 2016.
  16. See: “Les attentats sont la suite logique des bombardements” (Attacks are the logical result of the bombings”, Le Temps, July 16, 2016.
  17. See B. Collombat and J. Monin’s investigation: “Daesh: Autopsie d’un monstre” (ISIS: Autopsy of a Monster), November 20, 2015.

After Aleppo: the State of Syria

Source

The Syrian Arab Army now controls Aleppo, which means that the Syrian government once more is in charge of the main population centres in the country. Opposition armed forces are hemmed in around Damascus and in Idlib, while the Islamic State (IS) still holds the northern city of Raqqa. These forces, including IS, are on the back foot, disorganised, weakened logistically and disoriented. Largely abandoned by their benefactors — the West, the Gulf Arabs and Turkey — these fighters have either moved to great desperation in their violence or to near surrender. A ceasefire brokered on December 30, 2016 holds in most parts of the country. Peace talks are to begin on January 23 in Astana (Kazakhstan). Iran, Russia, the Syrian government, sections of the Syrian opposition, Turkey and the United Nations will have seats at the table. The United States and the Europeans will not be there.

The war will not end in Astana. Extremist groups such as the IS and the al-Qaeda-backed Jabhat Fateh al-Sham continue to hold territory. Frustrated extremists who are unwilling to accede to the new situation have already begun to trek to the IS and the al-Qaeda proxy. For them, there is little to be gained from surrender or reconciliation.

Western miscalculations

For the past five years, the main slogan from the Syrian opposition and its Gulf Arab, Turkish and Western allies was ‘Assad Must Go’. It now turns out that the government of Bashar al-Assad will remain. It appeared, even in 2011, that the fall of Mr. Assad without major Western military intervention was unlikely. The Syrian military was far more disciplined than the Libyan military, which had begun to crumble before the NATO bombing on Libya. There was also far less daylight between the Syrian government and its military than there was between the Egyptian government and its military. Absent massive military force, there was going to be no regime change in Syria.

Direct Western military intervention was curtailed — thanks to the fiasco in Iraq — by the lack of domestic appetite in the West for the use of sufficient numbers of troops to fight in Syria. Regime change in Libya and its disastrous aftermath closed the door for a UN authorisation for war on Syria. By 2012, this meant that the Assad government could not be easily defeated. The policy shifted from direct overthrow to a much more cynical use of power. Covert shipments of arms went to rebels of various stripes to help delegitimise the government. Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups came across the Turkish border and from Iraq as well as from the prisons of the Syrian government. Casualty rates edged upwards, with over half a million dead. The impossible promise of Western bombardment kept the war going in the hope that this would force Mr. Assad to negotiate.

The West miscalculated. On September 22, 2016, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made some off-the-cuff remarks at the Dutch Mission to the United Nations. The tape from that meeting, released by WikiLeaks, reveals the general Western consensus on the Syrian conflict. Mr. Kerry indicated that the U.S. had watched the growth of IS, and had hoped to use it as a bargaining chip against the Assad government. As it turned out, Mr. Assad turned to Iran and Russia for help, which is when the Russians intervened directly in September 2015 — ending any possibility of regime change in Damascus and of an IS capture of Damascus. With Mr. Assad now safe, the Russians have begun to draw down their forces, largely to build confidence towards the Astana meeting.

By 2015, it had become clear to the Turkish government that neither would Mr. Assad’s government fall nor could Turkey protect itself from the detritus of its own making — attacks by the IS inside Turkey and a reopened war with the Kurdish resistance movement. Turkey’s government lashed out at its critics — who had much to be critical about — and sought a rapprochement with Russia for economic and political reasons. This new alignment for Turkey meant that its border — long used to resupply the rebels in northern Syria — had to close, substantially reducing the ability of the extremists in Aleppo. The Syrian government, which had waited four years, then moved with great force. It was the Turkish shift that allowed Mr. Assad to take Aleppo.

On January 5, Iraq’s National Security Adviser met Mr. Assad in Damascus to discuss their mutual fight against the IS, just as Iraqi forces cleared the road from Haditha to al-Qa’im, which is on the Iraq-Syria border. These public meetings, a senior Egyptian military officer informs me, mirror the more private interactions between the militaries of Egypt, Iraq, Algeria and Syria. In November, Egyptian army officers went to Syria to re-establish connections that have frayed over the past few years. Now Egypt is ready to send ‘peacekeepers’ to help manage the ceasefire. Meanwhile, the Syrian and Turkish governments have met secretly in Algeria over the past five months to begin a conversation about the status of the Syrian Kurdish enclave on the Turkish border. Algeria is now openly talking about the restoration of legitimacy to the Assad government.

The end is far

The frustration of the extremists will not produce an easy end to this conflict. Harsh violence is the more expected outlet. Attacks in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — all accused, rightly, of abandoning the uprising — will continue to be a serious problem. Iraq, already accustomed to violence since the illegal U.S. invasion in 2003, saw over 6,000 civilians killed last year alone. It is often strategically targeted against Shia neighbourhoods and religious places in order to deepen the trough of sectarianism. After a spate of attacks in Baghdad, Sunni leader Sheikh Mahdi al-Sumaidaie, the Grand Mufti of Iraq, made a plea on January 5 that echoes across the Arab world: “I confirm that Shias and Sunnis will meet and hold accountable all who betrayed, deceived and burned Iraq.” It was a statement of patriotism out of desperation. This seam of patriotism will be hard for the extremists to rip apart.

North-west of Damascus is Souq Wadi Barada. The al-Fija spring there is a crucial source of water for the capital. Extremist groups have held this source for the past several years and on at least six previous occasions cut off the water supply to Damascus. The fall of Aleppo has led to new fighting in the area, with water now firmly cut off from all but one tank, which the military controls. Damascus faces great hardship. Negotiations are on to let the water flow again. When it does, it will show that reconciliation is possible in these societies.

A version of this essay originally appeared in The Hindu.

Vijay Prashad’s most recent book is No Free Left: The Futures of Indian Communism (New Delhi: LeftWord Books, 2015).

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