Why ‘Israel’ and Saudi Arabia Are United?

Robert Fisk 

Once upon a time, the Saudi head-choppers and ‘Israeli’ occupiers united into an alliance.

Theresa May


When the wealthiest Saudis fall ill, they have been known to fly into Tel Aviv on their private jets for treatment in the Zionist entity’s finest hospitals. And when Saudi and ‘Israeli’ bombers take to the air, you can be sure they’re going to bomb Shia – in Yemen or Syria respectively.

And when King Salman – or rather Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad – points the finger at Iran as the greatest threat to Gulf security, you can be sure that Bibi Netanyahu will be doing exactly and precisely the same thing, replacing “Gulf security”, of course, with “‘Israeli’ security”. But it’s an odd business when the Saudis set the pace of media suppression only to be supported by that beacon of freedom, democracy, human rights and liberty known in song and legend as ‘Israel’.

For if an unwritten alliance really exists between Saudi Arabia and ‘Israel’, then all options – as US presidents and secretary Hillary Clinton used to say – are “on the table”.

Imprisonment without trial, extrajudicial executions, human rights abuses, corruption, military rule – let’s say this at once: all these characteristics belong to “almost all” Arab nations – and to ‘Israel’ in the lands it occupies.

If you ask why ‘Israel’ has never bombed terrorists based in the Middle East – indeed, ask why ‘Israel’ has given hospital treatment to wounded militants from the al-Nusra terrorist group- in other words, al-Qaeda, the perpetrators of 9/11.

Besides, we must not forget that America’s insane President and his weird regime is also part of the Saudi-‘Israeli’ anti-Shiite confederation. Trump’s obscene $350bn arms sales to the Saudis, his fingering of Iran and his hatred of the world’s press and television channels makes him an intimate part of the same alliance.

Indeed, when you look at one of Trump’s saner predecessors – George W Bush, who also hated Iran, kowtowed to the Saudis and actually talked to Tony Blair of bombing Al Jazeera Channel’s headquarters in Qatar, he who made sure the wealthy bin Laden family were flown out of the States after 9/11 – this American-Saudi-‘Israeli’ covenant has a comparatively long history.

Netanyahu wants to close down Al Jazeera’s office in occupied al-Quds. Crown Prince Mohammad wants to close down Al Jazeera’s office in Qatar. Bush actually did bomb Al Jazeera’s offices in Kabul and Baghdad. Theresa May decided to hide a government report on funding terrorism, lest it upset the Saudis – which is precisely the same reason Blair closed down a UK police enquiry into BAE-Saudi bribery 10 years earlier.

And we wonder why we go to war in the Middle East. And we wonder why Daesh [ISIS/ISIL] exists, un-bombed by ‘Israel’, funded by Gulf Arabs, its fellow Sunni Salafists cosseted by our wretched presidents and prime ministers…

Source: The Independent, Edited by website team

11-08-2017 | 15:20

كاتب بريطاني: أثرياء السعودية يطيرون بطائرات خاصة للعلاج في مستشفيات (إسرائيل) الفخمة

نشرت صحيفة “إندبندنت” البريطانية مقالا لمحررها لشؤون الشرق الأوسط، الكاتب البريطاني المعروف روبرت فيسك، تناول خلاله الأزمة الخليجية وتداعياتها الخارجية، كما تناول أيضا قضية غلق قناة “الجزيرة” القطرية.

وقال فيسك، إنه “عندما تطلب السعودية وإسرائيل بغلق قناة “الجزيرة” الفضائية القطرية، فيجب أنها تفعل شيئاً صحيحاً”. و”لكن لا تكن رومانسياً جداً حول هذا الموضوع. فعندما يمرض السعوديون الأثرياء، كان من المعروف أنهم يطيرون إلى تل أبيب على طائراتهم الخاصة لتلقي العلاج في أرقى المستشفيات في إسرائيل. وعندما تقلع المقاتلات السعودية والإسرائيلية إلى الهواء، يمكنك التأكد من أنها سوف تقصف اليمن أو سوريا”.

وأضاف “عندما يشير الملك سلمان — أو بالأحرى ولي العهد السعودي الأمير محمد بن سلمان — بإصبعه على أن إيران هي أكبر تهديد لأمن الخليج، يمكنك أن تتأكد من أن نتنياهو سوف يفعل بالضبط وعلى وجه التحديد نفس الشيء، ولكن يحل محل “أمن الخليج” بطبيعة الحال “الأمن الإسرائيلي”. لكنه عمل غريب عندما يرتبط رفع السعوديون وتيرة قمع وسائل الإعلام بدعم من “منارة الحرية والديمقراطية وحقوق الإنسان” إسرائيل ونتنياهو وحكومته”.

ويقول فيسك بسخرية “لذلك دعونا نعرض باختصار آخر مظاهر التسامح الإسرائيلي تجاه حرية التعبير التي نؤيدها جميعا ونعززها ونحبها ونعشقها ونعتبرها حجر الزاوية لديمقراطيتنا وما إلى ذلك، وما إلى ذلك، وما إلى ذلك. خلال هذا الأسبوع، كشف أيوب كارا، وزير الاتصالات الإسرائيلي، عن خطط لسحب تصاريح صحفيي “الجزيرة”، وإغلاق مكتبها في القدس، ووقفها من محطات البث التي تقدم خدمات الكابلات والأقمار الصناعية المحلية”.

ويضيف “اتهم نتنياهو منذ وقت طويل قناة “الجزيرة” بالتحريض على العنف في القدس، وخاصة في تقاريرها عن عمليات القتل الأخيرة في القدس، ولكن كل صحفي أجنبي في “إسرائيل” وخارجها تجرأ على انتقاد الدولة في وقت أو آخر اتهم بالتحريض وكذلك معاداة السامية وغيرها من “الأكاذيب”.

ويقول فيسك “لقد وجدت أنا شخصيا أن تقارير “الجزيرة” من إسرائيل مثيرة للشفقة جداً، لقد كانت تتودد وتبجل بوضوح عندما ظهرت مذيعتها القطرية التي أعربت للمتحدث باسم الحكومة الإسرائيلية على الهواء عن تعازي قناتها في وفاة أرييل شارون، وهو المسؤول عن مذبحة صبرا وشاتيلا التي وقعت في عام 1982 والتي أدت إلى مقتل 1700 فلسطيني”.

ويتابع فيسك في مقاله “مع ذلك اتخذ أيوب كارا نفس موقف زملائه العرب. وقال إن على “إسرائيل” أن تتخذ خطوات ضد “وسائل الإعلام التي تتهمها جميع الدول العربية تقريباً بتأييد الإرهاب”. “إذا كان هناك تحالف غير مكتوب بين المملكة العربية السعودية وإسرائيل، فإن جميع الخيارات — كما قال الرئيس الأمريكي وهيلاري كلينتون — كانت على الطاولة”. “فالسجن دون محاكمة والإعدام خارج نطاق القانون وانتهاكات حقوق الإنسان والفساد والحكم العسكري — كل هذه الخصائص تنتمي إلى “جميع” الدول العربية تقريبا — وإسرائيل في الأراضي التي تحتلها”.

ويضيف “أما بالنسبة لكونها “مؤيدة للإرهاب” (أقتبس من الوزير الإسرائيلي كارا مرة أخرى)، يجب أن نسأل أولا لماذا صدر العرب الخليجيون مقاتليهم وأموالهم إلى الإسلاميين الأكثر شراسة في الشرق الأوسط. ثم نسأل لماذا لم تقصف “إسرائيل” هذه المخلوقات الخبيثة نفسها، بل نسأل لماذا أعطت “إسرائيل” العلاج بالمستشفيات للمقاتلين الجرحى من “جبهة النصرة” أي تنظيم “القاعدة”.

ويتابع فيسك “كما يجب ألا ننسى أن الرئيس الأمريكي ونظامه الغريب هو أيضا جزء من الكونفيدرالية السعودية — الإسرائيلية المناهضة للشيعة. ترامب أبرم صفقات مبيعات أسلحة بـ350 مليار دولار للسعوديين، وموقفه من إيران وكراهيته للصحافة والتلفزيون في العالم يجعله جزءاً حميما من نفس التحالف.

ويضيف “لكن لا يزال هناك إسرائيليون شرفاء يطالبون بدولة للفلسطينيين. وهناك سعوديات متعلمات جيداً يعترضن على “الوهابية المظلمة” التي تأسست عليها مملكتهن، وهناك الملايين من الأميركيين من البحر إلى البحر، الذين لا يعتقدون أن إيران عدوهم ولا السعودية صديقتهم. ولكن المشكلة اليوم في كل من الشرق والغرب هي أن حكوماتنا ليست أصدقائنا. هم مضطهدينا أو أسيادنا، ويقمعون الحقيقة وحلفاء للظالم”.

ويضيف “يريد نتانياهو إغلاق مكتب “الجزيرة” في القدس. وولي العهد السعودي الأمير محمد بن سلمان يريد إغلاق مكتب “الجزيرة” في قطر. بوش فعلا قصف مكاتب “الجزيرة” في كابول وبغداد. وقررت تيريزا ماي إخفاء تقرير حكومي عن تمويل “الإرهاب”، خشية أن يزعج السعوديين — وهذا هو بالضبط السبب الذي أخفاه بلير في تحقيق أجرته الشرطة البريطانية بشأن الرشوة المزعومة من قبل السعودية قبل عشر سنوات”.

“سبوتنيك”

This Is The Real Story Behind The Crisis Unfolding In Qatar

Only Shakespeare’s plays could come close to describing such treachery – the comedies, that is

By Robert Fisk

June 11, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –

The Qatar crisis proves two things: the continued infantilisation of the Arab states, and the total collapse of the Sunni Muslim unity supposedly created by Donald Trump’s preposterous attendance at the Saudi summit two weeks ago.

After promising to fight to the death against Shia Iranian “terror,” Saudi Arabia and its closest chums have now ganged up on one of the wealthiest of their neighbours, Qatar, for being a fountainhead of “terror”. Only Shakespeare’s plays could come close to describing such treachery. Shakespeare’s comedies, of course.

For, truly, there is something vastly fantastical about this charade. Qatar’s citizens have certainly contributed to Isis. But so have Saudi Arabia’s citizens.

No Qataris flew the 9/11 planes into New York and Washington. All but four of the 19 killers were Saudi. Bin Laden was not a Qatari. He was a Saudi.

But Bin Laden favoured Qatar’s al-Jazeera channel with his personal broadcasts, and it was al-Jazeera who tried to give spurious morality to the al-Qaeda/Jabhat al-Nusrah desperadoes of Syria by allowing their leader hours of free airtime to explain what a moderate, peace-loving group they all were.

Saudi Arabia cuts ties with Qatar over terror links

First, let’s just get rid of the hysterically funny bits of this story. I see that Yemen is breaking air links with Qatar. Quite a shock for the poor Qatari Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, since Yemen – under constant bombardment by his former Saudi and Emirati chums – doesn’t have a single serviceable airliner left with which to create, let alone break, an air link.

The Maldives have also broken relations with Qatar. To be sure, this has nothing to do with the recent promise of a Saudi five-year loan facility of $300m to the Maldives, the proposal of a Saudi property company to invest $100m in a family resort in the Maldives and a promise by Saudi Islamic scholars to spend $100,000 on 10 “world class” mosques in the Maldives.

And let us not mention the rather large number of Isis and other Islamist cultists who arrived to fight for Isis in Iraq and Syria from – well, the Maldives.

Now the Qatari Emir hasn’t enough troops to defend his little country should the Saudis decide to request that he ask their army to enter Qatar to restore stability – as the Saudis persuaded the King of Bahrain to do back in 2011. But Sheikh Tamim no doubt hopes that the massive US military air base in Qatar will deter such Saudi generosity.

When I asked his father, Sheikh Hamad (later uncharitably deposed by Tamim) why he didn’t kick the Americans out of Qatar, he replied:

“Because if I did, my Arab brothers would invade me.”

Like father, like son, I suppose. God Bless America.

All this started – so we are supposed to believe – with an alleged hacking of the Qatar News Agency, which produced some uncomplimentary but distressingly truthful remarks by Qatar’s Emir about the need to maintain a relationship with Iran.

Qatar denied the veracity of the story. The Saudis decided it was true and broadcast the contents on their own normally staid (and immensely boring) state television network. The upstart Emir, so went the message, had gone too far this time. The Saudis decided policy in the Gulf, not miniscule Qatar. Wasn’t that what Donald Trump’s visit proved?

But the Saudis had other problems to worry about. Kuwait, far from cutting relations with Qatar, is now acting as a peacemaker between Qatar and the Saudis and Emiratis. The emirate of Dubai is quite close to Iran, has tens of thousands of Iranian expatriates, and is hardly following Abu Dhabi’s example of anti-Qatari wrath.

Oman was even staging joint naval manoeuvres with Iran a couple of months ago. Pakistan long ago declined to send its army to help the Saudis in Yemen, because the Saudis asked for only Sunni and no Shia soldiers; the Pakistani army was understandably outraged to realise that Saudi Arabia was trying to sectarianise its military personnel.

Pakistan’s former army commander, General Raheel Sharif, is rumoured to be on the brink of resigning as head of the Saudi-sponsored Muslim alliance to fight “terror”.

Five things to know about Qatar’s first 2022 World Cup stadium

President-Field Marshal al-Sissi of Egypt has been roaring against Qatar for its support of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood – and Qatar does indeed support the now-banned group which Sissi falsely claims is part of Isis – but significantly Egypt, though the recipient of Saudi millions, also does not intend to supply its own troops to bolster the Saudis in its catastrophic Yemen war.

Besides, Sissi needs his Egyptian soldiers at home to fight off Isis attacks and maintain, along with Israel, the siege of the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

But if we look a bit further down the road, it’s not difficult to see what really worries the Saudis. Qatar also maintains quiet links with the Assad regime. It helped secure the release of Syrian Christian nuns in Jabhat al-Nusrah hands and has helped release Lebanese soldiers from Isis hands in western Syria. When the nuns emerged from captivity, they thanked both Bashar al-Assad and Qatar.

And there are growing suspicions in the Gulf that Qatar has much larger ambitions: to fund the rebuilding of post-war Syria. Even if Assad remained as president, Syria’s debt to Qatar would place the nation under Qatari economic control.

And this would give tiny Qatar two golden rewards. It would give it a land empire to match its al-Jazeera media empire. And it would extend its largesse to the Syrian territories, which many oil companies would like to use as a pipeline route from the Gulf to Europe via Turkey, or via tankers from the Syrian port of Lattakia.

For Europeans, such a route would reduce the chances of Russian oil blackmail, and make sea-going oil routes less vulnerable if vessels did not have to move through the Gulf of Hormuz.

So rich pickings for Qatar – or for Saudi Arabia, of course, if the assumptions about US power of the two emirs, Hamad and Tamim, prove worthless. A Saudi military force in Qatar would allow Riyadh to gobble up all the liquid gas in the emirate.

But surely the peace-loving “anti-terror” Saudis – let’s forget the head-chopping for a moment – would never contemplate such a fate for an Arab brother.

So let’s hope that for the moment, the routes of Qatar Airways are the only parts of the Qatari body politics to get chopped off.

This article was first published by The Independent

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

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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. ]

***

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.

***

Trump Meets the New Leader of the Secular World, Pope Francis

Photo by thierry ehrmann | CC BY 2.0

After two days lecturing a collection of head-choppers, dictators, torturers and land thieves, Donald Trump at last met a good guy on Wednesday. Pope Francis didn’t ask for a $100bn (£77.2bn) arms deal for the Vatican. He wouldn’t go to war with Iran. He didn’t take the Sunni Muslim side against the Shia Muslim side in the next Middle East conflict. He didn’t talk about Palestinian “terror”. And he looked, most of the time, grim, unsmiling, even suspicious.

So he should have been. Trump’s broad, inane smile on confronting the Holy Father might have been more appropriate for the first of the Borgias, Alexander VI, whose 15th century womanising, corruption and enthusiasm for war would match Trump’s curriculum vitae rather well. But the poor man’s pope, who last year suggested that Trump wasn’t much of a Christian because he wanted to build walls, didn’t seem to be very happy to see the man who called him “disgraceful” for questioning his faith. “One offers peace through dialogue, the other security of arms,” one of Francis’ advisers said of the visit. Which pretty much sums it up.

It was indeed an odd sight to see the head of the Catholic church – whose anti-war, anti-corruption, anti-violence and pro-environment beliefs must surely now represent the secular world – greeting the present if very temporary leader of the secular world, whose policies are most surely not those of the Western people he would claim to represent. For more and more, the Good Old Pope is coming to represent what the Trumps and Mays will not say: that the West has a moral duty to end its wars in the Middle East, to stop selling weapons to the killers of the Middle East and to treat the people of the Middle East with justice and dignity.

No wonder the 29 minutes which the insane president and the sane pope spent together – Francis himself suggesting that they both keep away from the microphones – remain secret. Until, I suppose, Trump starts twittering again. They supposedly chatted about climate change, immigration, even arms sales. O fly upon the wall, speak up. And they talked, we are told, about “interreligious dialogue” and the need to protect Christians in the Middle East. They shared, we were finally informed, “a commitment to life, and freedom of speech and conscience” – which is more than most of Trump’s other hosts would have approved of these past two days.

Trump duly handed over a bunch of books by Martin Luther King which he hoped Pope Francis would enjoy – whether he had read them himself remains a mystery – and the Pope gave Trump some of his own writings on the environment. “Well, I’ll be reading them,” said the US President. A likely story.

When the Pope emerged from his private meeting with Trump, he was smiling in a relieved, almost charming way – like a man who had just left the dentist’s chair – and his joke with the veiled Melania about Croatian cookies, if not quite understood, showed that even a distressed pontiff can retain a sense of humor amid spiritual darkness. Trump thought it all “a great honor”. Not for the Pope, one imagines.

And there was the inevitable send-off from Trump, the kind he probably gave to all the greedy kings and criminals of the Middle East. “I won’t forget what you said,” he told Pope Francis as he left. O but he will, reader, he will.

Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared. 

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Why The U.S. Really Attacked Syrian Militia Convoy

Exclusive: For the Pentagon to suggest that this was a sideshow to Washington’s battle against Isis was to stretch the truth beyond credibility

By Robert Fisk

May 19, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – According to the Syrians, the US destroyed not one but four T-62 tanks and a Shilka ZSU-23-4 Soviet-made radar-guided anti-aircraft vehicle manned by both Shia Iraqi militiamen loyal to Damascus and a unit of armed Iranians who were travelling in pick-up trucks to establish positions – on the instructions of the Syrian army – in the desert west of al-Tanf. Their intention – to set up strongpoints in the vast and largely empty land in advance of the American-trained forces – was an attempt by the Syrian government to keep open the route between Iraq and Syria now that the ISIS-held Syrian city of Raqqa far to the north has been almost surrounded by largely Kurdish fighters loyal to Washington.

Six of the pro-Syrian militiamen were killed in the American air strike and 25 wounded – it is unclear whether the casualties were Iraqi or Iranian – but forces under the command of the Syrian army intend to continue their reconnaissance missions towards al-Tanf. Anti-aircraft gunners aboard one of the pick-up trucks accompanying the pro-Syrian units that were attacked, opened fire on the US jets and, according to the Syrians, forced the American aircraft to fly higher.

At this point, Syrian air defence units north-east of Damascus prepared to fire Soviet-made S-200 Angara ground-to-air missiles (an older version of the S-300 which the Russians have since delivered to the Syrian military) at the Americans – but the US jets had by then left Syrian airspace. One of the five T-62 tanks attacked by the Americans was undamaged.

Nonetheless, the brief action in the Syrian desert was of great importance. The Syrians were obviously trying to test America’s resolve to move its anti-Assad militia forces deeper into the south-east of the country – and the US was prepared, albeit on a small scale, to show that it was prepared to press on. But the Syrian-Iraqi frontier town of al-Tanf may turn out to be a key strategic point in the struggle of the Assad government to regain its national territory and keep open its border to Iraq and, by extension, to Iran. It lies only 30 miles from Iraq – but because the Jordanian-Syrian-Iraqi borders join immediately to the south – al-Tanf also lies the same distance from Jordan – where the American-trained militia are based.

Although US jets were involved in Thursday’s air strikes, the forces on the ground comprised largely proxy fighters – belonging to both the American-trained ‘rebel’ opposition and to the Syrian military. If US personnel were accompanying the ‘rebel’ forces, then they were lucky that neither the Russians nor Syrian Army personnel were present on the other side. For the Pentagon to suggest that this was a sideshow to Washington’s battle against Isis was to stretch the truth beyond credibility in the Middle East. Cutting Syria off from Iraq – and thus from Iran – appears to be a far more immediate operational aim of US forces in Syria than the elimination of the Sunni “Caliphate” cult that Washington claims to be its principal enemy in the Middle East.

This article was first published by The Independent

See also

Int’l coalition’s attack on Syrian military site exposes its fake claims of fighting terrorism; The attack, which took place at 16:30 pm on Thursday, left a number of people dead, in addition to causing material damage, the source said.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

 

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Donald of Arabia: Trump in the Middle East

Not since Ibn Batuta, travelled the Middle East in the 14th century has anyone set out with higher ambitions that Donald Trump. Batuta, a Moroccan Muslim traveller and scholar, had a few things in common with Trump. He reached what is now Saudi Arabia. He went to Jerusalem. He even had a keen eye for nubile ladies – there were a few wives, not to mention a Greek slave girl to be groped. But there the parallels end. For Ibn Batuta was sane.

Yet now we know that Trump thinks he’s touching the three monotheistic religions because he’s going to Riyadh, Jerusalem and then the Vatican (not quite in the Middle East but what’s a hundred miles for a guy like Trump). A few problems, of course. He can’t go to Holy Mecca because Christians are banned and the old king of Saudi Arabia represents a head-chopping Wahabi autocracy some of whose citizens have paid for – and fought alongside – the dreaded Isis which Trump thinks he is fighting.

Then when he goes to Jerusalem, he will meet Benjamin Netanyahu who hardly represents world Jewry and plans to go on thieving Arab lands in the West Bank for Jews, and Jews only, whatever Trump thinks. Then he’ll turn up at the Vatican to confront a man who – great guy though he may be – only represents Roman Catholics and doesn’t much like Trump anyway. Ibn Batuta was away from home for around a quarter of a century. Thank heavens Trump’s cutting that back to three days.

Of course, he’s no more going to be talking to “Islam” in Saudi Arabia than he is “Judaism” in Jerusalem. The Sunni Saudis are going to talk about crushing the “snake” of Shia Iran – and we must remember that Trump is the crackpot who shed crocodile tears over the Sunni babies killed in Syria last month but none for the Shia babies killed in Syria a few days later – and hope they can re-establish real relations between their execution-happy kingdom with the execution-happy US. Trump might just try to read UN rapporteur Ben Emmerson’s latest report on the imprisonment of human rights defenders and the torture of “terror” suspects in Saudi Arabia. No. Forget it.

Anyway, the king is no imam. Any more than Netanyahu is a rabbi. But Jerusalem will be a great gig because Trump will be able to ask Netanyahu for help against Isis without – presumably – realising that Israel bombs only the Syrian army and the Shia Hezbollah in Syria but has never – ever – bombed Isis in Syria. In fact, the Israelis have given medical aid to fighters from Jabhat al-Nusra, which is part of al-Qaeda which (maybe Trump has heard of this) attacked the United States on 9/11. So maybe the Vatican will be a relief.

Of course, Trump might have dropped by Lebanon to meet Patriarch Beshara Rai, a Christian prelate who at least lives in the Middle East and who might have been able to tell Trump a few home truths about Syria. Or, since Trump would be “honoured” to meet the Great Leader of North Korea, he might even have shocked the world by dropping by for a couple of hours with Bashar al-Assad. At least Ibn Batuta got to Damascus.

But no, Trump is searching for “friends and partners” to fight “terrorism” – something which has never, of course, been inflicted on Yemen by Saudi Arabia or on Lebanon and the Palestinians by Israel. Nor will it be mentioned by the boys and girls of CNN, ABC and all the US media titans who will – in the interest of promoting their importance by pretending that their President is not mad – grovellingly follow their crackpot President around the region with all the usual nonsense about “policies” and “key players” and “moderates” (as in “moderate Saudi Arabia”) and all the other fantastical creatures which they inject into their reports.

Oh yes, and Trump also wants to bring “peace” to the Holy Land. And so he will move from the king of head choppers to the thief of Palestinian lands and end up with the poor old Holy Father who is wisely giving the President only a few early-morning minutes before his weekly general audience. Since the Pope described Trump’s views as “not Christian” – an unsaintly thing for Pope Francis to say of a mentally ill man – and Trump called the Pope’s words “disgraceful”, this is not going to be a barrel of laughs.

But then again, the Pope shook the hand of the Sultan of Egypt only a week ago, the equally saintly Field Marshal President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, whose coup overthrew an elected president and who now “disappears” his enemies. Trump should be a piece of cake after that. Ibn Batuta, by the way, got as far as Beijing in his travels but was never “honoured” to meet the “smart cookie” who was ruling in Korea (which did actually exist in the 14th century).

But being a verbose chap, Ibn Batuta did record his homecoming in these words: “I have indeed … attained my desire in this world, which was to travel through the Earth, and I have attained this honour, which no ordinary person has attained.” That’s a real “honour” by the way. But you couldn’t fit Ibn Batuta into a tweet.

Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared. 

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Theresa May wants British people to feel ‘pride’ in the Balfour Declaration

Source

By Robert Fisk

Balfour initiated a policy of British support for Israel which continues to this very day, to the detriment of the occupied Palestinians of the West Bank and the five million Palestinian refugees living largely in warrens of poverty around the Middle East, including Israeli-besieged Gaza. Surely we should apologise

Theresa May told us that Britain will celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration this summer with “pride”. This was predictable. A British prime minister who would fawn to the head-chopping Arab autocrats of the Gulf in the hope of selling them more missiles – and then hold the hand of the insane new anti-Muslim president of the United States – was bound, I suppose, to feel “pride” in the most mendacious, deceitful and hypocritical document in modern British history.

As a woman who has set her heart against immigrants, it was also inevitable that May would display her most venal characteristics to foreigners – to wealthy Arab potentates, and to an American president whose momentary love of Britain might produce a life-saving post-Brexit trade agreement. It was to an audience of British lobbyists for Israel a couple of months ago that she expressed her “pride” in a century-old declaration which created millions of refugees. But to burnish the 1917 document which promised Britain’s support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine but which would ultimately create that very refugee population – refugees being the target of her own anti-immigration policies – is little short of iniquitous.

The Balfour Declaration’s intrinsic lie – that while Britain supported a Jewish homeland, nothing would be done “which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” – is matched today by the equally dishonest response of Balfour’s lamentable successor at the Foreign Office. Boris Johnson wrote quite accurately two years ago that the Balfour Declaration was “bizarre”, a “tragicomically incoherent” document, “an exquisite piece of Foreign Office fudgerama”. But in a subsequent visit to Israel, the profit-hunting Mayor of London suddenly discovered that the Balfour Declaration was “a great thing” that “reflected a great tide of history”. No doubt we shall hear more of this same nonsense from Boris Johnson later this year.

Although the Declaration itself has been parsed, de-semanticised, romanticised, decrypted, decried, cursed and adored for 100 years, its fraud is easy to detect: it made two promises which were fundamentally opposed to each other – and thus one of them, to the Arabs (aka “the existing non-Jewish communities”), would be broken. The descendants of these victims, the Palestinian Arabs, are now threatening to sue the British government over this pernicious piece of paper, a hopeless and childish response to history. The Czechs might equally sue the British for Chamberlain’s Munich agreement, which allowed Hitler to destroy their country. The Palestinians would also like an apology – since the British have always found apologies cheaper than law courts. The British have grown used to apologising – for the British empire, for the slave trade, for the Irish famine. So why not for Balfour? Yes, but…. Theresa May needs the Israelis far more than she needs the Palestinians.

 

Balfour’s 1917 declaration, of course, was an attempt to avoid disaster in the First World War by encouraging the Jews of Russia and America to support the Allies against Germany. Balfour wanted to avoid defeat just as Chamberlain later wanted to avoid war. But – and this is the point – Munich was resolved by the destruction of Hitler. Balfour initiated a policy of British support for Israel which continues to this very day, to the detriment of the occupied Palestinians of the West Bank and the five million Palestinian refugees living largely in warrens of poverty around the Middle East, including Israeli-besieged Gaza.

This is the theme of perhaps the most dramatic centenary account of the Balfour Declaration, to be published this summer by David Cronin (in his book Balfour’s Shadow: A Century of British Support for Zionism and Israel), an Irish journalist and author living in Brussels whose previous investigation of the European Union’s craven support for Israel’s military distinguished him from the work of more emotional (and thus more inaccurate) writers. Cronin has no time for Holocaust deniers or anti-Semites. While rightly dismissing the silly idea that the Palestinian Grand Mufti, Haj Amin al Husseini, inspired the Holocaust of the Jews of Europe, he does not duck Haj Amin’s poisonous alliance with Hitler. Israel’s post-war creation as a nation state, as one Israeli historian observed, may not have been just – but it was legal. And Israel does legally exist within the borders acknowledged by the rest of the world.

There lies the present crisis for us all: for the outrageous right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu is speeding on with the mass colonisation of Arab land in territory which is not part of Israel, and on property which has been stolen from its Arab owners. These owners are the descendants of the “non-Jewish communities” whose rights, according to Balfour, should not be “prejudiced” by “the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. But Balfour’s own prejudice was perfectly clear. The Jewish people would have a “national home” – ie, a nation – in Palestine, while the Arabs, according to his declaration, were mere “communities”. And as Balfour wrote to his successor Curzon two years later, “Zionism … is … of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices [sic] of 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land”.

Cronin’s short book, however, shows just how we have connived in this racism ever since. He outlines the mass British repression of Arabs in the 1930s – including extrajudicial executions and torture by the British army – when the Arabs feared, with good reason, that they would ultimately be dispossessed of their lands by Jewish immigrants. As Arthur Wauchope, the Palestine High Commissioner, would write, “the subject that fills the minds of all Arabs today is … the dread that in time to come they will be a subject race living on sufferance in Palestine, with the Jews dominant in every sphere, land, trade and political life”. How right they were.

Even before Britain’s retreat from Palestine, Attlee and his Cabinet colleagues were discussing a plan which would mean the “ethnic cleansing” of tens of thousands of Palestinians from their land. In 1944, a Labour Party statement had talked thus of Jewish immigration: “Let the Arabs be encouraged to move out as the Jews move in.” By 1948, Labour, now in government, was announcing it had no power to prevent money being channelled from London to Jewish groups who would, within a year, accomplish their own “ethnic cleansing”, a phrase in common usage for this period since Israeli historian Illan Pappe (now, predictably, an exile from his own land) included it in the title of his best-known work.

The massacre of hundreds of Palestinian civilians at Deir Yassin was committed while thousands of British troops were still in the country. Cronin’s investigation of Colonial Office files show that the British military lied about the “cleansing” of Haifa, offering no protection to the Arabs, a policy largely followed across Palestine save for the courage of Major Derek Cooper and his soldiers, whose defence of Arab civilians in Jaffa won him the Military Cross (although David Cronin does not mention this). Cooper, whom I got to know when he was caring for wounded Palestinians in Beirut in 1982, never forgave his own government for its dishonesty at the end of the Palestine Mandate.

Cronin’s value, however, lies in his further research into British support for Israel, its constant arms re-supplies to Israel, its 1956 connivance with the Israelis over Suez – during which Israeli troops massacred in the Gaza camp of Khan Younis, according to a UN report, 275 Palestinian civilians, of whom 140 were refugees from the 1948 catastrophe. Many UN-employed Palestinians, an American military officer noted at the time, “are believed to have been executed by the Israelis”. Britain’s subsequent export of submarines and hundreds of Centurion tanks to Israel was shrugged off with the same weasel-like excuses that British governments have ever since used to sell trillions of dollars of weapons to Israelis and Arabs alike: that if Britain didn’t arm them, others would.

In opposition in 1972, Harold Wilson claimed it was “utterly unreal” to call for an Israeli withdrawal from land occupied in the 1967 war, adding that “Israel’s reaction is natural and proper in refusing to accept the Palestinians as a nation”. When the Palestinians first demanded a secular one-state solution to Palestine, they were denounced by a British diplomat (Anthony Parsons) who said that “a multinational, secular state” would be “wholly incompatible with our attitude toward Israel”. Indeed it would. When the PLO opposed Britain’s Falklands conflict, the Foreign Office haughtily admonished the Palestinians – it was “far removed” from their “legitimate concerns”, it noted – although it chose not to reveal that Argentine air force Skyhawk jets supplied by Israel were used to attack UK forces, and that Israel’s military supplies to Argentina continued during the war.

A year later, Margaret Thatcher, according to a note by Douglas Hurd, included “armed action against military targets of the occupying power” as a definition of “terrorism”. So the Palestinians could not even resist their direct occupiers without being criminals.

On an official visit to Israel in 1986, Thatcher said that she regarded discussion of Jerusalem as “internal politics”. In 2001, Tony Blair’s government granted 90 arms exports licences to Israel for “defensive” weapons – including torpedoes, armoured vehicles, bombs and missiles. There is much, much more of this in Cronin’s book, including Blair’s useless and disgraceful period as “peace” envoy to the Middle East and the growing business contracts between British companies and Israeli arms providers – to the extent that the British army ended up deploying Israeli-made drones in the skies of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Outside the EU, Theresa May’s Britain will maintain its close relations with Israel as a priority; hence May’s stated desire less than a month ago to sign a bilateral free trade agreement with Israel. This coincided with an Israeli attack on Gaza and a Knesset vote to confiscate – ie, steal – yet more lands from Palestinians in the West Bank.

From the day that Herbert Samuel, deputy leader of the Liberal Party and former (Jewish) High Commissioner for Palestine, said in the House of Commons in 1930 that Arabs “do migrate easily”, it seems that Britain has faithfully followed Balfour’s policies. More than 750,000 Palestinians were uprooted in their catastrophe, Cronin writes. Generations of dispossessed would grow up in the camps. Today, there are around five million registered Palestinian refugees. Britain was the midwife of that expulsion.

And this summer, we shall again be exhorted by Theresa May to remember the Balfour Declaration with “pride”.

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