— The Erimtan Angle —

Archive for November, 2012

Propaganda: Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Mali

The pan-Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera perpetuates the idea that a global organisation called Al Qaeda does exist and is at war with the West: ‘Al Jazeera has obtained exclusive footage of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Its fighters helped rebels seize the northern half of Mali after a military coup toppled the civilian government in March [2012]. In a video address, the group’s senior commander Abu Musaab Abdulwadood calls for peaceful dialogue in Mali. But then later in the video he says his fighters are preparing for war in the West African country. Al Jazeera‘s Mohammed Vall reports from the SaharaDesert. (28 November 2012)’.

Back in the days prior to 9/11, Abu Musaab Abdulwadood used to head an organisation called Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat [‘al-Jamā‘ah as-Salafiyyah lid-Da‘wah wal-Qiṭāl’], which now carries the much more media-friendly name Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb [‘Tanẓīm al-Qā‘idah fī Bilād al-Maghrib al-Islāmī’].

Propaganda: USAID’s Dr. Rajiv Shah in Turkey

‘Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), travels to Turkey to discuss the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria and assistance for those affected by the crisis, 27 November 2012’.

Inside Story: Climate talks COP18 – More hot air about hot air?

‘Hurricanes, heatwaves, fires, floods and famine. Evidence is growing linking extreme weather to global warming. As yet another round of United Nations climate talks begin, this time in Qatar. But where is all the hot air getting us in dealing with all the hot air? (27 Nov 2012)’.

The Syrian Opposition: Oil and Other Special Interests or the Rise of Moaz al-Khatib

The new head of the Syrian opposition, Moaz al-Khatib is no stranger to the wicked ways of the West, in spite of his position as the imam of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. The Guardian’s Luke Harding and Martin Chulov declare that “his moderation lends him credibility”.[1]  But there is more than meets the eye, Harding and Chulov describe him as “religious moderate, with impeccable revolutionary credentials, and a geologist as well”, but al-Khatib also “studied geophysics [and] spent six years working as an engineer. He is also a member of the Syrian Geological Society and the Syrian Society for Psychological Science, and was president of the Islamic Society of Urbanisation”.[2]  And where did he work as an engineer???  The investigative Voltaire Network‘s Thierry Meyssan explains that Moaz al-Khatib “worked for six years for the al-Furat Petroleum Company (1985-91), a joint-venture between the national company and other foreign enterprises, including the Anglo-Dutch Shell, with whom he has maintained contact”.[3]

What a surprise . . . and oil man is to lead the Syrian opposition, hell-bent on ousting Assad and turning over Syria’s oil proceeds to the highest bidder. Meyssan continues his biographic sketch of al-Khatib as follows: in “1992, he inherited the prestigious charge of preacher at the [Umayyad] mosque [in Damascus] from his father, Sheikh Mohammed Abu al-Faraj al-Khatib. He was rapidly relieved of his functions and forbidden to preach anywhere in Syria. However, this episode did not occur in 2012, and has nothing to do with the present contestation – it happened twenty years ago, under Hafez el-Assad. At that time, Syria was supporting the international intervention to liberate Kuwait, in respect of international law, in order to get rid of their Iraqi rival, and also to forge closer ties with the West. As for the Sheikh, he was opposed to “Desert Storm” for the same religious motives which were proclaimed by [Usamah bin] Laden – with whom he aligned himself – notably the refusal of Western presence on Arab lands, which they consider sacrilegious. This position led him to deliver a number of anti-semitic and anti-Western diatribes. Following that, the Sheikh continued his activity as a religious teacher, notably at the Dutch Institute in Damascus. He made numerous trips abroad, mainly to Holland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Finally, he settled in Qatar. In 2003-04, during the attribution of oil and gas concessions, he returned to Syria as a lobbyist for the Shell group”.[4]

Meyssan concludes his picture of the new Syrian opposition leader thus: Moaz al-Khatib “is a member of the Muslim brotherhood, and declared this quite clearly at the end of his speech of investiture at Doha. According to the usual technique of the Brotherhood, he adapts not only the form, but also the content of his speeches to his audience. Sometimes leaning towards a multi-religious society, sometimes towards the restoration of sharia law. In his writings, he qualifies Jewish people as “enemies of God”, and Shiite Muslims as “rejectionist heretics”, epithets which are the equivalent of a death sentence”.[5]

How this bode for the future of Syria???  What do these facts indicate about the direction of a post-Assad Damascus???  Upon the urging of Washington, the Syrian opposition convened in Doha recently, where the umbrella organisation called the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces was proclaimed and then, the U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Stephen Ford prevailed upon the assembled “revolutionaries” to appoint the supposedly moderate and quite camera-friendly Moaz al-Khatib to head those who to end Assad’s life and rule, in a fashion similar to Qaddafi in Libya.[6]  Robert Ford’s appointment dates back to April 2011,[7] at the very start of the current unrest. The Obama administration judged the appointment prudent at the time, as the position had been left vacant during the Bush years, leaving the U.S. without any way to influence the situation on the ground. And once more, the law of unintended consequences seems to come into play now, in a way somewhat reminiscent of the blowback caused Brzezinski’s actions during the Carter administration.[8]

[1] Luke Harding and Martin Chulov, “Moaz al-Khatib: ex-imam charged with uniting Syria’s opposition” The Guardian (13 November 2012). http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/12/moaz-al-khatib-syria-opposition.

[2] Luke Harding and Martin Chulov, “Moaz al-Khatib: ex-imam charged with uniting Syria’s opposition”.

[3] Thierry Meyssan, “The many faces of Sheikh Ahmad Moaz Al-Khatib” VoltaireNet (23 November 2012). http://www.voltairenet.org/article176707.html.

[4] Thierry Meyssan, “The many faces of Sheikh Ahmad Moaz Al-Khatib”.

[5] Thierry Meyssan, “The many faces of Sheikh Ahmad Moaz Al-Khatib”.

[6] Cfr. Thierry Meyssan, “The many faces of Sheikh Ahmad Moaz Al-Khatib”.

[7] Abby Philips, “Ford in spotlight amid Syria revolt” Politico (25 April 2011). http://www.politico.com/politico44/perm/0411/a_useful_guy_528d2a43-3845-42b3-a9d1-c07b41fbf2fb.html.

[8] Cfr. C. Erimtan, “The War in Afghanistan: The legacy of Zbigniew Brzezinski and the Volatile Situation in Pakistan” Today’s Zaman (07 October 2010). http://tiny.cc/7gsi2.

Egypt Today: Morsi’s Political Course Unsustainable???

‘Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s push for a new constitutional declaration will prove to be unsustainable, an analyst tells Press TV. On Thursday, Morsi issued a new constitutional declaration to expand his powers. The decree opens the way for retrials of officials involved in the clampdown on popular protests that toppled long-standing dictator Hosni Mubarak in early 2011. It also bars courts from challenging Morsi’s decisions. To further discuss the issue, Press TV’s News Analysis has conducted an interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, editor at the Pan-African News Wire, from Detroit, Wafik Moustafa, UK Chairman of Conservative Arab Network, from London, and Nii Akuetteh, an African Policy analyst, from Washington (24 November 2012)’.

President Mohammad Morsi Assumes Full Power in Egypt: A New Pharaoh in the making???

Early last month, the BBC’s Shaimaa Khalil stated that in “the [first] 100 days of his presidency Mohammed Mursi has managed to surprise Egyptians on many occasions. The very fact that he was elected at all was surprising to many. Mr Mursi was propelled to power by the Muslim Brotherhood when their original candidate, business tycoon Khairat al-Shater, was disqualified from the presidential race. This won Mr Mursi titles like “The Accidental President” and “The Spare Wheel”. From the outset there were many doubts about whether he would be able to take charge of a country marred by a collapsing economy and a volatile security situation . . . The country had, for the 18 months before President Mursi was sworn in, been ruled by Egypt’s formidable military. They had a tight grip on power and made sure they continued to do so even after a president was elected. They announced a constitutional declaration just days before the election results. It gave the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) legislative and executive powers including the ability to veto any article in the drafting of the country’s constitution. But last August, Mr Mursi took the nation – and the world – by surprise when he cancelled Scaf’s constitutional declaration and transferred full executive and legislative authority from the military council to himself. He also forced the Defence Minister Hussein Tantawi and his second-in-command Sami Enan into retirement. He appointed Gen Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the former head of military intelligence, and the youngest member of Scaf as defence minister. Mr Mursi then continued his reshuffling of Egypt’s top brass when it was announced that 70 other generals in the Egyptian armed forces were to be retired. This was the president’s first real assertion of power and many argue his biggest achievement to date”.[1]

Another month has now gone by, and now Mursi has performed his most unexpected and shocking manoeuvre, as reported by Reuters: Egypt’s President “has issued a decree that puts his decisions above legal challenge until a new parliament is elected, of being the new Mubarak and hijacking the revolution [on Thursday, 22 November 2012] . . . [this] decision to assume sweeping powers caused fury amongst his opponents and prompted violent clashes in central Cairo and other cities on Friday [, 23 November 2012]. Police fired tear gas near Cairo’s Tahrir Square, heart of the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, where thousands demanded Mursi quit and accused him of launching a “coup”. There were violent protests in Alexandria, Port Said and Suez. Opponents accused Mursi, who has issued a decree that puts his decisions above legal challenge until a new parliament is elected, of being the new Mubarak and hijacking the revolution”.[2]

The BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen opines that the “Muslim Brotherhood, of which President Mursi is a leader, is a cautious organisation. The demonstrations might persuade it to dilute its controversial measures. If that doesn’t happen, then the split in Egypt between political Islamists and the rest will grow deeper and more bitter. President Mursi argues that he has taken exceptional powers to deal with Egypt’s enormous problems. But the scenes on the streets of Cairo, and Egypt’s other major cities, show that the medicine could be making the disease worse. The country has had no political or economic stability since President Mubarak fell in February last year. Creating both should be at the top of the agenda for Mr Mursi. Egypt is close to getting a big loan from the International Monetary Fund – but the accusations that he is turning himself into a new Mubarak will worry Western donors”.[3]  Being the objective BBC journalist that he is, Bowen ends his analysis on this even-handed note: “Mr Mursi was praised as a pragmatist by the Americans after he negotiated the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. But Egyptians who didn’t vote for him – almost half the people who turned out in June’s election – believe he has taken the new, sweeping powers to ram through an Islamist agenda”.[4]

[1] Shaimaa Khalil, “Egypt: President Mursi’s 100 days in power” BBC News (09 October 2012). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19882135.

[2] “Egypt President Mohamed Morsi Seizes New Powers, Called ‘Pharaoh’” Reuters (23 November 2012). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/23/egypt-mohamed-morsi_n_2176978.html?utm_hp_ref=world.

[3] Jeremy Bowen, “Analysis” BBC News (23 November 2012). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20458148.

[4] Jeremy Bowen, “Analysis”.

Sırrı Süreyya Önder Talks about İdris Naim Şahin

While on hunger strike recently, the independent member of parliament (as an affiliate of the Emek Özgürlük ve Demokrasi Bloğu) Sırrı Süreyya Önder wrote a poem about the Minister of the Interior, İdris Naim Şahin, adding that the latter’s presence as a minister constitutes a great hope for the Turkish people . . . if İdris Naim Şahin can become Minister of the Interior today, then now anybody can really achieve any goal in the Republic of Turkey (22 Nov 2012).

Kurbanam kalın kaşına

Taç yakışan başına

Birgün görmesem

Ey İdris Naim

Yanaram ataşına!

The Electronic Intifada on Al Jazeera

The pan-Arab yet strangely “neutral” Al Jazeera speaks to Electronic Intifada‘s Ali Abunimah (20 November 2012).

Now that a ceasefire has been agreed upon, on the Inter Press Service or IPS the Electronic Intifada’s Mohammed Omer reports from Gaza City that “Israel says it has hit 1,450 targets in the Gaza Strip since assassinating Hamas’ most senior military leader in a missile strike on 14 November. The eight-day attack killed 162 Palestinians, including 42 children (a number of them still babies), 11 women and 18 elderly people, the oldest 82 years of age. In all 1,222 have so far been listed as injured, more than half of them women and children. Rockets fired from Gaza have killed five Israelis. Israel’s air strikes have hit several locations in the Gaza Strip. The targets have included civilians’ houses, apartment blocks, most of the security units, the ministry of interior office, the prime minister’s office, police stations, roads and bridges connecting camps, naval forces, and journalists’ offices and media centers. Three journalists have been killed, and eight injured. Israeli leaflets were dropped telling the population to leave their homes all over the northern Gaza Strip: Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun, Atatra and the surrounding locations. Women and children have been heading to schools run by the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) for refuge after fleeing the northern Gaza Strip. Refugees are sleeping on the floor in these buildings”.[1]


[1] Mohammed Omer, “Father and two sons among 162 slain by Israel in Gaza” IPS (22 November 2012).

Gaza November 2012: Ceasefires and Elections

Ceasefire: Egypt Manages the Crisis; More US Arms for Israel

The George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and Professor of International Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut (, USA) ‘Vijay Prashad: Egypt brokers Gaza crisis working with US; Palestinians won’t give up their struggle; There will be no accountability for Israel’s illegal war (21 Nov 2012)’.

Last Thursday, 14 November, Vijay Prashad wrote that “on 14 November, the United Nations Security Council met to discuss Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. As elections in Israel are on the horizon, the Israeli Defense Force conducted an extra-judicial assassination of Hamas’ Ahmad Jabari, who only hours beforehand had received a draft of a permanent truce agreement with Israel (according to Nir Hasson at Haaretz). Jabari’s assassination was followed by a barrage by Israeli aircraft and warships. A few rockets were fired from Gaza, but these have had a negligible impact”.[1]

Prashad goes on that the “war on Gaza is not between two armed forces, even matched, each flying the flag of a country; it is a war between a major military power and a people that it has occupied, whose means of warfare used to be the suicide bomber and has now devolved to the erratic rockets (propelled by sugar and potassium nitrate, a fertilizer, and made deadly by TNT and urea nitrate, another fertilizer). Most of the rockets fired over the past two days have been intercepted by Israel’s sophisticated Iron Dome system. No such luck for the Palestinians, who have faced US-designed F16 jetfighters and Apache helicopters and have no defensive systems”.[2]

Now that the Egypt-brokered ceasefire is in place, it appears hard to determine who the real winners are . . . and the fact that this whole thing was started as part of Bibi’s pre-election drive to galavanise Israeli voters is really quite a disgusting proposition. But, it seems not just Israeli election politics will apparently benefit from this 8-day bombardment in the end . . .

[1] Vijay Prasad, “The Agonies of Susan Rice: Gaza and the Negroponte Doctrine” Jadalyiya (14 November 2012). http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/8419/the-agonies-of-susan-rice_gaza-and-the-negroponte-.

[2] Vijay Prasad, “The Agonies of Susan Rice: Gaza and the Negroponte Doctrine”.

Operation Cast Lead Redux or Bibi’s Election Gambit 2012-13

On Thursday, 15 November, RT reported that ‘Israel’s military operation started on Wednesday [, 14 November] with a strike killing Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari. Since then, reports say, the IDF has struck around 200 targets in Gaza. Furthermore, Israel is threatening to go as far as initiating a ground operation, sparking fears of a repetition of the Cast Lead scenario. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF), which has engaged in a Twitter showdown since the very beginning of the strikes, said it targets only “terror sites”. However, this has been questioned by witnesses on social media who point out that only four people of the 13 so far killed by Israeli airstrikes were Hamas militants, while the rest were civilians, including women and children’.[1]

With Palestinian rockets now targeting Tel Aviv, the firefight between Israeli forces and Hamas appears to be spreading beyond the Gaza Strip where it began some days ago. It is a deadly circumstance for both the Palestinians and Israel notes Fellow Natan Sachs, and there are fears that it could escalate into a ground war (16 November 2012).

Why did Israel attack the Gaza strip???  The above-quoted RT report correctly points out that ‘attack’s timing is under question with a looming Israeli election’.[2]  As reported by AFP and AP, even the Turkish PM remaked upon this coincidence: the “Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of aggressively attacking . . . the Gaza Strip. According to Erdogan, Israel’s strikes were motivated by the Knesset elections scheduled to take place in about two months. Erdogan said he would speak by phone with US President Barack Obama later on Friday [, 16 November] and that Ankara was also seeking talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the prospect of a full Israeli ground invasion”.[3]  Here is Tariq Ali weighing in on the issue on RT.

And here is Abby Martin explaining the back-story to the present conflict.

[1] “Decision bombing? Israel’s ‘election attack’ triggers Gaza war spiral” RT (15 Nov 2012). http://rt.com/news/israel-gaza-strike-election-758/.

[2] “Decision bombing? Israel’s ‘election attack’ triggers Gaza war spiral”.

[3] “Erdogan: Israel striking in Gaza because of elections” AFP/AP (November 2012). http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4306825,00.html.