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Ed Webb

Translation project offers Israelis look into Palestinian literature - 0 views

  • Only 0.4% of Israeli Jews under the age of 70 can read the stories in the original Arabic language, he says. He also points to the fact that according to Israel’s National Library, less than 1% of all literature translated into Hebrew was written in Arabic, and 90% of the translators were Jews
  • The stories of “Amputated Tongue," which all deal in various ways with language deprivation, is written by 57 Palestinian writers from Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and abroad. The impressive compilation of contemporary Palestinian prose was translated into Hebrew according to a unique model by 36 translators, where one Arab and one Jewish translator collaborated. One-third of them were Palestinians. The short stories by some of the best Palestinian writers provide Israeli readers with more than a glimpse of entire lives lived in this land, and of this land.
  • The project lasted three years. Its goal was to give a voice to Palestinian Arabic society in the hostile climate created by Israel’s right-wing regime that views Arabic as an enemy language — as made abundantly clear in the 2018 Nationality Law, which downgraded the status of Arabic as an official language. The anthology targeted those few Israelis who want to know more about Palestinians but have had little exposure to them until now.
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  • The first story in the compilation is by Gaza resident Sama Hassan, titled “No." It tells the story of a woman whose husband repeatedly rapes her, sometimes until she is bleeding, but she cannot utter the word “No." “… Over and over he cut into her flesh, which grew increasingly tough until she emitted a groan of pain. … You are nothing but the family’s property, was the first grating thought. Hands and womb, hands and womb." I told Burbara that the story had shocked me. I put the book aside and could not continue reading for a few days. “We put ‘No’ first on purpose,” she explained. “We wanted readers to feel and tell themselves, ‘Wow, what is she telling us? How will we learn more about the women in Gaza who are not heard.’”
  • Given the nationalistic climate in Israel, with a prime minister who incites hatred of Arabs, I asked Burbara how many Jewish Israelis she thought would read the book. “That is the million-dollar question,” she answered. “But I believe that if you start to drip water on a stone, it digs into its surface and leaves a mark. 'Amputated Tongue' is the first rain that will drip onto the Israeli stone and dig into it deeper and deeper.”
Ed Webb

Israel's war on the Arabic language - AJE News - 1 views

  • A survey, publicised at a conference at Tel Aviv University in December, found that while 17 percent of Jewish citizens claimed to understand Arabic, that figure fell to just 1 percent when they were asked to read a book
  • those with a working knowledge of Arabic were mostly elderly Jewish immigrants born in Arab countries - a generation rapidly dying off
  • half of Israeli Jews with a western heritage wanted Arabic scrapped as an official language, while the figure rose even higher - to 60 percent - among Jews whose families originated from Arab countries
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  • Israel's Jewish schools barely teach Arabic, he observed, and students choosing it do so chiefly as a qualification for entering Israeli military intelligence.
  • When the head of Israel Railways was questioned in 2012 on why station stops were announced in Hebrew and English only, he replied that adding Arabic would "make the train ride noisy".
  • According to a survey, one in four Palestinian citizens struggle to read Hebrew. Farah, of Mossawa, noted that even when public bodies such as the transport ministry included Arabic, it was often so poorly translated from Hebrew that the information was unintelligible.
  • In February it was revealed that Tel Aviv University had barred Palestinian staff in its tuition department from speaking Arabic to students. The policy was reversed after threats of legal action.
  • Jewish and Palestinian parents in Jaffa staged a protest, accusing the Tel Aviv municipality of breaking promises to include Arabic signs and respect Muslim and Christian holidays at the city's first public bilingual school
  • Sawsan Zaher, a lawyer with Adalah, said the 2002 ruling had been a high point for recognition of Arabic in Israel, with the more liberal court of the time stating that it was vital to the dignity of the Palestinian minority that Arabic be used in public spaces in mixed cities. "In recent years Adalah has been very cautious about bringing more such cases to the courts," she told Al Jazeera. "Given the shift to the right in the intervening years, we are worried that the advances made in language rights then might be reversed by the current court."
Ian Mandell

BBC News - Taliban detainee 'met Bin Laden this year' - 0 views

  • Taliban detainee in Pakistan claims to have information about Osama Bin Laden's whereabouts in January or February of this year.
  • His claims cannot be verified but a leading American expert says his account should be investigated.
  • The sheikh doesn't stay in any one place. That guy came from Ghazni, so I think that's where the sheikh was."
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  • he province of Ghazni in eastern Afghanistan has an increasingly strong Taliban presence. Large parts of the province are no-go areas for coalition and Afghan forces.
  • BBC.adverts.show("button"); Programmes Have Your Say In Pictures Country Profiles Special Reports Related BBC sites Sport Weather On This Day Editors' Blog BBC World Service Languages Urdu Hindi Bengali Pashto Nepali Tamil Sinhala More Page last updated at 01:28 GMT, Friday, 4 December 2009 E-mail this to a friend Printable version Taliban detainee 'met Bin Laden this year'
Ed Webb

Americans, Put Away Your Quills - By Nathan J. Brown | The Middle East Channel - 0 views

  • constitution writing is a supremely political process. It is not carried out by philosopher kings but pushed through by real political forces playing a gritty political game. Despite what some of us may dimly remember from junior high school U.S. History, our process was no different. Constitutional kibitzing rarely finds an enthusiastic audience. After the initial election in the various Arab countries, the constitution will be the first test of the new balance of political forces -- and it will be the first real opportunity for them to discover not simply how to compete, but how to cooperate. Even more important than the text they produce, the patterns of interaction they establish as they draft will produce lasting patterns for politics. They need to keep their eyes on each other -- and that is precisely what they will do.
  • The U.S. experience, rich as it is, is very idiosyncratic. From a constitutional perspective, the United States is a marsupial: exotic and sometimes even cuddly, but also a product of a completely different evolutionary path.
  • Tunisia received its first constitution when France was an empire and Germany was not yet a state. Egypt has a long and rich tradition of constitutional experiments dating back almost as long. Much of that heritage is deeply troubled to be sure, but most Arab societies are full of people who already speak their own constitutional language
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  • Tunisians debating the country's identity -- so far the biggest hot button issue in constitutional debates -- are hardly likely to pull in foreign consultants to draft language. The Egyptian committee of one hundred people is unlikely to want to be seen as allowing outsiders to vet their work in a political context in which "foreign agendas" are the topic of daily denunciations in the press.
  • If the United States can overcome its own phobia of international law, it will find these documents a promising source of values and of language that Arabs have already accepted in theory.
  • The Egyptian military shows definite signs of attempting to shoehorn in a permanent constitutional role for itself and an exemption from civilian oversight. We likely cannot make them change their minds, but we can communicate publicly to Egyptians that they are doing so without our blessing.
Ed Webb

Flame and Stuxnet Cousin Targets Lebanese Bank Customers, Carries Mysterious Payload | ... - 0 views

  • Gauss marks the first time that apparently nation-state-created malware has been found stealing banking credentials, something that is commonly seen in malware distributed by criminal hacking groups.
  • Gauss appears to have been created sometime in mid-2011 and was first deployed in September or October of last year, around the same time that DuQu was uncovered by researchers in Hungary. DuQu was an espionage tool discovered on machines in Iran, Sudan, and other countries around August 2011 and was designed to steal documents and other data from machines. Stuxnet and DuQu appeared to have been built on the same framework, using identical parts and using similar techniques. Flame and Stuxnet also shared a component, and now Flame and Gauss have been found to be using similar code as well.
  • Extrapolating from the number of infected Kaspersky customers, they speculate that there may be as many as tens of thousands of other victims infected with Gauss. By comparison, Stuxnet infected more than 100,000 machines, primarily in Iran. DuQu infected an estimated 50 machines, but was not geographically focused. Flame is estimated to have infected about 1,000 machines in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East.
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  • Kaspersky suggests that “white” in the file name may refer to Lebanon, a name said to be derived from the Semitic root letters “lbn,” which are also the root letters for “white.” Although in Arabic — a Semitic language — white is “abayd,” in Hebrew — also a Semitic language — the word for white is “lavan,” which comes from the root letters “lbn.”
  • Like Flame, Gauss is modular, so that new functionality can be swapped in and out, depending on the needs of the attackers. To date, only a few modules have been uncovered — these are designed to steal browser cookies and passwords, harvest system configuration data including information about the BIOS and CMOS RAM, infect USB sticks, enumerate the content of drives and folders, and to steal banking credentials as well as account information for social networking accounts, e-mail and instant messaging.
  • Gauss also installs a custom font called Palida Narrow, the purpose of which is not known. The use of a custom font designed by the malware authors is reminiscent of DuQu, which used a font called Dexter fabricated by its creators to exploit victim machines. Kaspersky has found no malicious code in the Palida Narrow font files and has no idea why it’s in the code, though the font contains Western, Baltic and Turkish symbols.
  • the USB module appears to be aimed at bridging an airgap and getting the payload onto systems that are not connected to the internet, as it had been used previously to get Stuxnet onto industrial control systems in Iran that were not connected to the internet. As noted, the payload is only unleashed on systems that have a specific configuration. That specific configuration is currently unknown, but Schoewenberg says it has to do with paths and files that are on the system. This suggests that the attackers have extensive knowledge about what is on the target system they are seeking.
Ed Webb

Israel's army and schools work hand in hand, say teachers - 2 views

  • officers from a military intelligence unit called Telem design much of the Arabic language curriculum
  • “The military are part and parcel of the education system. The goal of Arabic teaching is to educate the children to be useful components in the military system, to train them to become intelligence officers.”
  • Mendel said Arabic was taught “without sentiment”, an aim established in the state’s earliest years.“The fear was that, if students had a good relationship with the language and saw Arabs as potential friends, they might cross over to the other side and they would be of no use to the Israeli security system. That was the reason the field of Arabic studies was made free of Arabs.”
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  • many fear that the situation will only get worse under the new education minister, Naftali Bennett, who heads Jewish Home, the settler movement’s far-right party
  • Nearly 300 schools have been encouraged to join an IDF-education ministry programme called “Path of Values”, whose official goal is to “strengthen the ties and cooperation between schools and the army”.
  • “Militarism is in every aspect of our society, so it is not surprising it is prominent in schools too,” said Amit Shilo, an activist with New Profile, an organisation opposed to the influence of the army on Israeli public life.“We are taught violence is the first and best solution to every problem, and that it is the way to solve our conflict with our neighbours.”
  • Each school is now graded annually by the education ministry not only on its academic excellence but also on the draft rate among pupils and the percentages qualifying for elite units, especially in combat or intelligence roles.
  • Zeev Dagani, head teacher of a leading Tel Aviv school who opted out of the programme at its launch in 2010, faced death threats and was called before a parliamentary committee to explain his actions.
  • Adam Verete, a Jewish philosophy teacher at a school in Tivon, near Haifa, was sacked last year after he hosted a class debate on whether the IDF could justifiably claim to be the world’s most moral army.
  • Revital, an Arabic language teacher, said the army’s lesson plans were popular with pupils. “I don’t approve of them, but the students like them. They celebrate and laugh when they kill the terrorists.”Revital said she had been disciplined for speaking her mind in class and was now much more cautious.“You end up hesitating before saying anything that isn’t what everyone else is saying. I find myself hesitating a lot more than I did 20 years ago. There is a lot more fascism and racism around in the wider society,” she said.
  • “You have to watch yourself because the pupils are getting more nationalistic, more religious all the time. The society, the media and the education system are all moving to the right.”A 2010 survey found that 56 per cent of Jewish pupils believed their fellow Palestinian citizens should be stripped of the vote, and 21 per cent thought it was legitimate to call out “Death to the Arabs”.
Ed Webb

IRGC warns Saudi Arabia it must 'control' media 'provoking our youth' | Amwaj.media - 0 views

  • The commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has warned the Saudi royal family that it will “pay the price” unless it reins in the media outlets it allegedly funds. The warning comes as Tehran accuses foreign-based Persian-language networks—and especially the TV channel Iran International—of spreading fake news and inciting unrest.
  • the IRGC-linked Tasnim News Agency reported hours after his speech that the main target was Iran International. Tasnim maintained that there is "no doubt" that London-based Iran International "is linked to the crown prince," referring to Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (MbS). Tasnim also named Dubai-based Al-Arabiya and Al-Hadath as other news networks funded by the Kingdom and targeted by Salami in his speech.
  • MP Mohammad Ali Naqdali—the secretary of the parliament’s legal and judicial commission—urged Iranian authorities on Oct. 8 to file a complaint against Iran International with the UK media regulator, Ofcom. The lawmaker called on the foreign ministry and judiciary to complain about Iran International over its alleged role in "encouraging further protests” in Iran. Naqdali also criticized other Persian-language outlets based in the UK, describing them as "lie-producing factories."
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  • Tehran has previously lodged a complaint against Iran International over its programming, but Ofcom ruled that the London-based television network had not broken any rules.
  • British newspaper The Guardian reported in Oct. 2018 that Iran International had financial ties to MbS. The Guardian charged that the TV network was "being funded through a secretive offshore entity and a company whose director is a Saudi Arabian businessman with close links to the Saudi crown prince." A month later, Iran International issued a statement denying any links to any governments, including Saudi Arabia, and insisted that it "does not advocate any movement or party or government." Some of Iran International's high-profile staff have stirred controversy for often expressing opinions on social media that may be in contravention of the outlet's editorial guidelines.
  • Iranian authorities have long taken issued with foreign-based Persian-language news networks, accusing them of being tasked with attacking the Islamic Republic. Salami's warning to the Saudi royal family comes as Tehran and Riyadh are working toward mending relations and re-establishing diplomatic ties. The IRGC commander's apparent criticism of Saudi media indicates that it will be brought up in the anticipated next round of talks between the two sides in Iraq.
Ed Webb

"Arabian Street Artists" Bomb Homeland: Why We Hacked an Award-Winning Series | Heba Amin - 1 views

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Ed Webb

Parents protest as dream of bilingual education in Israel turns sour | Middle East Eye - 0 views

  • Hand in Hand operates four bilingual schools across Israel and two kindergartens. Jaffa’s primary school classes are the most recent addition.The idea of children from different cultural backgrounds learning together and speaking each other’s language may seem uncontroversial. But it has prompted a fierce backlash from right-wing Jewish groups in Israel.In late 2014 Hand in Hand’s flagship school in Jerusalem was torched by activists from Lehava, an organisation that opposes integration between Jewish and Palestinian citizens. Graffiti daubed on the walls read “Death to the Arabs” and “There can be no coexistence with cancer”.Three of the group’s members were jailed last year. In January Israel’s high court increased the sentences of two brothers involved in the arson attack.Although Lehava is a fringe group, it draws on ideas that have found favour with much larger numbers of Israeli Jews, especially over the past 15 years as the country has lurched to the right.A survey by the Pew polling organisation this month found that half of Israeli Jews wanted Arabs expelled from the state, and 79 percent believed Jews should have more rights than their Palestinian compatriots.
  • 1,350 children are currently in bilingual education, out of a total Israeli school population of some 1.5 million children.
  • The Jaffa parents argue that their coastal city of 50,000 residents, which is incorporated into the Tel Aviv municipal area, is the natural location for a bilingual school.A third of Jaffa’s residents are Palestinian, reflecting the fact that, before Israel’s creation in 1948, it was Palestine’s commercial centre.Although Israelis mostly live in separate communities, based on their ethnicity, Jaffa is one of half a dozen urban areas where Jewish and Palestinian citizens live close to each other.
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  • Within days of the bilingual first-grade classes opening last year, parents hit a crisis when school administrators refused to let the children take off the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha.When the parents rebelled and kept their children home, the management “flipped out”, said Ronel. “Now the trust has gone and we are demanding that they make commitments in writing that things will be different.”
  • Ronel, an Israeli Jewish journalist, said he had long been pessimistic about the region’s future and had contemplated leaving Israel with his family, taking advantage of his wife’s German passport. But that changed once his daughter, Ruth, began at the bilingual kindergarten.“I have become evangelical about it,” he said. “I see how her knowledge of Palestinian identity and the Arabic language has made her own identity much stronger.”He said knowing the other side was essential to strengthening Israelis’ sense of security and reducing their fears. “This is the model for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict too. I am sure this is what a solution will look like.”
  • bilingual schools are proving particularly popular in Israel’s mixed cities. Next year Hand in Hand will open the first bilingual elementary school in Haifa, Israel’s third largest city, following the success of a bilingual kindergarten there
  • Far-right Jewish religious groups, ideologically close to the settlers, have set up seminaries and exclusive housing areas in Jaffa and other mixed cities. “They are going the other way: they want even deeper segregation,” said Dichter.Hassan Agbaria, principal of the only bilingual school in a Palestinian community in Israel, located in the northern town of Kafr Karia, said there were problems in more rural areas too. This month the gated Jewish community of Katzir, close to his school, refused to allow Hand in Hand organisers in for a parents’ registration meeting, accusing the group of “political activity”.“It is a big psychological hurdle for some of them,” he told MEE. “Some think you must be crazy to send your young children into an Arab community every day.”
Ed Webb

YouTube - Angry Birds Peace Treaty - 0 views

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    Language warning
Ed Webb

US-Arab disconnect: Revolutions restate region's priorities by Ramzy Baroud* - 0 views

  • the language spoken by the US and that by Arab dictators is largely absent from the lexicon of oppressed, ordinary Arabs aspiring for their long-denied basic rights. Arabs are not unified by the narratives of al-Qaeda or the US. They are united by other factors that often escape Western commentators and officials. Aside from shared histories, religions, language and a collective sense of belonging, they also have in common their experiences of oppression, alienation, injustice and inequality.
  • the al-Qaeda model never captured the imagination of mainstream Arab society. Arab revolutions didn’t challenge Arab society’s perception of al-Qaeda, for the latter had barely occupied even a tiny space of the collective Arab imagination.
Ed Webb

Secretary Pompeo's Speech in Cairo: POMED Experts Respond - POMED - 0 views

  • Pompeo delivered a speech that lacked any overarching policy message. Pompeo did spell out what this administration sees as the main problems in the region: the Islamic Republic of Iran, radical Islamist terrorism, and even the policies of the Obama administration. But he failed to outline a coherent vision, strategy, or policy approach for addressing these problems
  • To many, Pompeo confirmed widespread fears that the Trump administration simply lacks seriousness of purpose in the Middle East. The speech strongly resembled the rhetoric of many of the region’s own authoritarian regimes—full of bluster, hyperbolic language, attacks on political rivals, and boasts of the administration’s tremendous policy successes that felt divorced from reality
  • The Trump administration played up Pompeo’s remarks as a big deal, but a clear policy roadmap and announcements of any new initiatives were missing. The language on Syria, the most newsworthy topic, did little to end confusion over U.S. policy. The speech’s vacuity likely is because President Trump is simply not interested in the Middle East, and is known to make sudden foreign policy declarations on Twitter. Pompeo seemingly had little policy substance to work with and probably didn’t want to get out ahead of his boss
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  • Pompeo’s speech was not a statement of foreign policy strategy, but rather a rambling screed dominated by distortions, falsehoods, and outright lies. His claims fall into three categories: (1) gratuitous potshots at former President Barack Obama; (2) dubious defenses of the Trump administration’s reckless foreign policy decisions, such as withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran; and (3) misrepresentations of the administration’s policies. Let’s be clear: this was a political stump speech, not a statesman’s address
  • aside from several authoritarian regimes who profess unbridled support for Trump but do little to advance U.S. interests, the United States has never before been more alone
  • Pompeo’s small and homogenous audience of elites reflects the very limited and narrow relationship the United States has chosen to have with the societies in the region
  • rather than speak sternly and honestly to the Egyptian regime, for all of the Egyptian people to hear, he praised al-Sisi for his tolerance and progress despite the totalitarian direction the Egyptian president has taken the country since he led the coup in 2013
Ed Webb

The ISIS Ambassador to Turkey - Homeland Security Today - 1 views

  • the ISIS military and weapons training and the ISIS “obligatory shariah training” in which new male recruits are taught the ISIS takfir ideology, an ideology that justifies use of violence against those considered heretics or unbelievers, including against fellow Muslims.
  • Abu Mansour explains the format and nature of intake forms that were filled out at the ISIS reception area. “It was a form about experience, countries you visited, etc. I don’t remember it very well, but it was very detailed,” he explains. He further continues, “There were several people who came with higher education. We wrote his discipline, his studies, his languages. These things were recorded on my forms.” According to Abu Mansour, job placements occurred after another intake took place inside the training camps. “At those places, there were very trusted people running the ISIS offices of recruiting, so if you say you’re an engineer, they put you to that kind of job. It was an office of human resources management,” he states, adding, “but of course different, because in ours we also had, ‘I want to be a martyr.’
  • According to Abu Mansour, the numbers of would-be “martyrs” went down as the Caliphate was in fact established. “It started to go down as Raqqa stabilized. [Then,] most came simply to live. It was a small ratio of those who came to martyr themselves.” Adhering to his uncanny ability to remember exact recruiting figures, he explains, “Before 2014, 50 percent came to martyr themselves. Then it went under 20 percent.”
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  • “There were some agreements and understandings between the Turkish intelligence and ISIS emni about the border gates, for the people who got injured,” Abu Mansour continues. “I had direct meeting with the MIT [the Turkish National Intelligence Organization], many meetings with them.”
  • The benefit to Turkey, according to Abu Mansour, was that “we are in the border area and Turkey wants to control its borders – to control Northern Syria. Actually they had ambitions not only for controlling the Kurds. They wanted all the north, from Kessab (the most northern point of Syria) to Mosul.”
  • When he mentions meeting Turkish government officials in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, we suddenly upgrade him in our minds to an ISIS ambassador, which is indeed how he was functioning. “I passed the borders and they let me pass. [At the border,] the Turks always sent me a car and I’m protected. A team of two to three people from our side were with me. I was in charge of our team most of the time.”
  • we learn that his “diplomatic” reach on behalf of ISIS extended even to the president of Turkey himself. “I was about to meet him but I did not. One of his intelligence officers said Erdogan wants to see you privately but it didn’t happen.”
  • “There were teams. Some represent the Turkish intel, some represent the Turkish Army. There were teams from 3-5 different groups. Most meetings were in Turkey in military posts or their offices. It depended on the issue. Sometimes we meet each week. It depends on what was going on. Most of the meetings were close to the borders, some in Ankara, some in Gaziantep.”
  • In our meetings, we talked about re-establishing the Ottoman Empire. This was the vision of Turkey.
  • “I cannot say that this is the vision of the whole Turkish government. Many are against interfering to bring this project to reality. They say we will try to defeat the PKK and Kurds. We are afraid of the union between Kurds and that they may make a Kurdish state, but they also expanded to Aleppo,” he adds regarding Turkish aspirations inside Syria.
  • “It’s a big benefit to Dawlah, as they could protect our back. Approximately 300 km of our border is with them. Turkey is considered a road for us for medications, food – so many things enter in the name of aid. The gates were open.”
  • “No one can accuse the Turkish government that they gave us weapons, because we got weapons from different sources. Actually, we didn’t need to get weapons from Turkey,” he explains, noting that the Free Syrian Army soldiers would trade their weapons for a pack of cigarettes. “Anti-government Syrian people provided us with weapons; many mafias and groups traded weapons to us.”
  • “We negotiated to send our fighters to the hospitals [in Turkey]. There was facilitation – they didn’t look at the passports of those coming for treatment. It was always an open gate. If we had an ambulance we could cross without question. We could cross [into Turkey] at many places. They don’t ask about official identities. We just have to let them know.”
  • “Dawlah [ISIS] paid for the treatments, but some Turkish public hospitals took these fighters for free. It was not only for our fighters but also for the victims of bombings. I don’t know how many were treated in Turkey, but it was routine,” Abu Mansour explains, adding that it was not his area, so he doesn’t have the figures on that. “I just know this agreement to open the gates for our wounded and that there were ambulances sent for them. It was a ‘state-to-state’ agreement regarding our wounded. I negotiated these agreements. For the wounded, medical and other supplies to pass, and I negotiated about water also, the Euphrates.”
  • “Actually, we [Syria] had an agreement with Turkey for 400 cubic meters per second [of water] into Syria. After the revolution, they started to decrease the quantity of water to 150 cubic meters per second. After our negotiations [in 2014] it returned to 400. We needed it for electrical power and as a vital source of living. Even water we cannot keep it, it passes to Iraq also,” he explains. “But the importance of water [cannot be understated]. We don’t need to generate electricity through the dams. We could have another source [i.e. petrol], but we need water for farming. There are three dams. The biggest is Tabqa dam. Actually, at 150 cubic meters, we could generate some electricity, but if the level of the lake reached 5 meters it would not work.”
  • When asked what ISIS gave in return for water, he answers, “There is the most important benefit – their country will be safe and stable.” We ask if he means that ISIS agreed not to attack inside Turkey.“In negotiations I could not say I would attack Turkey. This is the language of gangs, but I would say we will try to keep Turkey from the field battle, we will not see Turkey as an enemy. They understood what we are talking about. We said many times, ‘You are not our enemy and not our friend.’”
  • “Most of the Syrian oil was going to Turkey, and just small amounts went to the Bashar regime.”
  • “We didn’t ask ransom for the consul employees, we asked for our prisoners. MIT knows their names.” For the consul employees, “approximately 500 prisoners were released from Turkey, and they came back to Dawlah,”
  • “[In 2014,] they opened some legal gates under the eye of Turkish intel that our people went in and out through,” Abu Mansour explains. “But, entry into Syria was easier than return to Turkey. Turkey controlled the movements.”
  • “Turkey wanted us to move 10 km back from the borders so the danger from Turkey is removed. They wanted it to be under control of Turkey and no aviation above it. This was for an area 60 km long and 10 km wide.”
  • Abu Mansour’s journey started in Morocco when he was a young man and where he first watched the 9/11 events from afar and suddenly began to feel that if he wasn’t with them, as U.S. President Bush stated, he was against them – that Muslims in the world needed to unite and resist dictators and world powers, like the U.S.-led coalition that invaded foreign countries. “After I heard George Bush say it’s you are with us or against us – when I heard that [and saw his invasion of Iraq] I searched for who stands up for the Muslims.”
  • We were searching for the identity of Muslims, to protect Muslims and to be freed to do our Islamic duties. There was no desire to fight, no tendency to kill or revenge, just to free ourselves from dictators. I use the weapon to prevent harm by others and all that is taken by force should be regained by force,” he explains. “All these government regimes, we were forced to follow, we didn’t chose them.”
Ed Webb

White House persuades Congress to ease up on Saudi Arabia - 0 views

  • The White House successfully pushed Congress to remove language in the annual defense bill that would have imposed concrete penalties on Saudi Arabia for the war in Yemen and the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
  • “I have been dismayed by how much defense Congress has given the White House to help draft the NDAA,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., who spearheaded the dead Yemen amendment. “It’s another example of Congress outsourcing our own power, our own responsibilities, to the executive branch. This has largely proven to be negotiations with the White House, and we capitulated to every White House and Pentagon demand.” 
  • Khanna’s amendment would have ended US logistical and intelligence support for the Saudi-led coalition as well as blocked spare-part transfers and maintenance for Saudi aircraft. The final bill does include language banning the mid-air refueling of Saudi war planes, but the Trump administration already ended that last year.
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  • “This is a president who has a Saudi Arabia-first foreign policy. This is all on the White House, and Republicans at the end of the day would not fight their own president on this issue.”
  • “The extent to which so many senators spoke for so many months about the need to hold Khashoggi’s killers accountable, only to fold at crunch time, is truly pathetic,” said Rob Berschinski, the senior vice president for policy at Human Rights First.
  • Khanna and anti-war activist groups that he’s worked closely with on Yemen are currently regrouping to chart a new path forward after a major defeat this week. One avenue may be the appropriations process as Congress faces a deadline to fund the government by the end of next week.
Ed Webb

Crossing the river: Black Mauritanians haunted by mass expulsion to Senegal | Middle Ea... - 0 views

  • Thirty years ago Mariame, along with tens of thousands of Black Mauritanians, was violently expelled in what survivors have called a “genocide”. More than 14,000 people now live in a series of dusty refugee camps near the Senegal river that separates the two countries, a matter of kilometres away from their former homes. A similar number live in Mali.
  • after independence, Mauritania embarked on aggressive “Arabisation” policies, securing the racial supremacy of a tiny Arab-Berber elite at the expense of the much larger black population, many of whom it expelled en masse in 1989
  • Ethnic Fulani people, as most here are, have ancient ties to both sides of the river, which throughout the ages has connected, but at other times acted as a barrier between, the riverine communities that live upon its banks.
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  • Fearing the return home, they are now struggling to keep their identity alive, refusing to take on Senegalese citizenship and melt into society, because they see themselves as indigenous to Mauritania, a country which has tried to erase its black population.
  • Offering a respite from the harsh Sahara, the fertile river valley had historically been a meeting point between Arabs, Berbers and Black Africans. Gilded African kingdoms like Takrur and Walo, straddling both banks, sealed its reputation as the “river of gold” described by medieval Arab geographers, its glittering lure proving irresistible to European explorers, traders, and later slave traders. Arab-Berbers, also known as beydanes  - literally "white men" -  were the descendants of local ethnic Berbers conquered by a succession of Arab tribes arriving on camel back from the Arabian peninsula. One of those tribes, the Bani Hassan, gives its name to their language: Hassaniya Arabic.
  • Relations between the riverine communities were mixed. Arab-Berber raiders were known to sweep down from the right bank across the river, carrying back young women, men and children into the desert as slaves. This legacy of slavery still haunts Mauritania to this day.
  • While French colonialism had the impact of opening the river up once again - allowing Arab Berber merchants and clerics to head south and for Black Africans to settle in the north - it also bred tensions.
  • While slavery was officially abolished in 1981, there are an estimated 90,000 enslaved Haratin.
  • A gradual purge of Black Mauritanians from official posts had started at independence but it gathered pace during the 1980s under the rule of military ruler Maaouya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taye, a Pan-Arab nationalist who had strong ties to Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Rising at the same time was the African Liberation Forces of Mauritania (FLAM), a black militant organisation, which in 1986 published the Manifesto of the Black Mauritanian, vowing to destroy the country’s “apartheid” system.
  • The execution of three Fulani army officers following an abortive coup the following year gave authorities the justification needed to present Black Africans in general, and Fulanis in particular, as being enemies of the state.
  • Many Fulanis, whose Islamic heritage stretches back a millennium, were particularly resentful of the way Islam was equated with being Arab.
  • Mauritania was also now in the business of projecting an exclusively Arab image both at home and abroad, reflected on everything from banknotes to stamps to holiday brochures. It joined the Arab League in 1973. But this masked an uncomfortable demographic reality: Arab-Berbers were a minority. They make up 30 percent of the population today, as do Black Africans.
  • The balance is made up by Haratins, the poor descendants of Black African slaves once owned by the Arab-Berber population. They sit at the foot of the steep socio-economic pyramid despite their number. Black-skinned, but also Arabic-speaking, integrated into the Arab-Berber tribal system while at the same time bearing the brunt of racial discrimination, they occupy a precarious position, caught between the hold of their erstwhile masters and the potential of black solidarity.
  • Mauritania therefore faced an identity crisis by the time of its independence in 1960. Black Africans saw the country’s future as lying in a pluralistic state of Arab-Black unity merged together with neighbouring Black francophone nations Mali and Senegal. But many Arab-Berbers supported a union with Morocco, wanting to exclusively emphasise the country’s Arab character. The country became independent in November 1960 under president Moktar Ould Daddah, an Arab-Berber, who quickly instituted one-party rule and made Arabic the country’s official language.
  • After a catastrophic drought through the 1970s and a costly war in the Western Sahara which ended with a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Polisario Front in 1979, the Mauritanian government took a keen interest in exploiting the Senegal river valley. With 90 percent of the country already desert, the riverine farmland was by then seen as an especially precious commodity. Who owned the farms controlled the food supply.
  • The land grabs only added to a sense of impending doom among the country’s Black population. The Manifesto of the Black Mauritanian observed in 1986: “They aim to break all ties between the inhabitants of the two shores inhabited by the same families, Wolofs in the Lower Valley, Fulani-speakers and Soninke in the Middle Valley, Soninke in Upper Senegal.”
  • An “air bridge” was agreed between the two neighbours, repatriating each other's citizens. Instead of just repatriating Senegalese nationals as agreed, Mauritanian authorities used the opportunity to systematically expel its Black African population. Underlying this move was the idea that Black Africans were not Mauritanian but actually Senegalese.
  • in April 1989, Diop left the country on a plane meant to be repatriating Senegalese back home. It was full of Black Mauritanian policemen like him
  • Mauritanian authorities drew up lists targeting the urban leadership and potential leadership of the black community. Intellectuals, civil servants, businessmen, professionals and students were put onto overcrowded trucks and driven down to the river where they were made to cross by boat.
  • Entire villages were burnt or destroyed by the army. In the four Mauritanian regions abutting the Senegal river 236 villages were either destroyed or abandoned.
  • According to Human Rights Watch, over 50,000 people had been displaced by the end of 1989, as much as eight percent of the country's Black African population, enough to drastically alter the racial politics of the country.
  • Between 1990-91 up to 600 black political prisoners were executed or tortured to death by government forces.
  • Repopulating the abandoned villages, seizing prized cattle and the possessions left by those fleeing the pogroms, were the Haratin, who had earned their share of the spoils by carrying out much of the state’s dirty work - the rape, the torture and the theft
  • The gains they made would go some way to sealing their political allegiance to their erstwhile Arab-Berber masters for years to come, while driving a painful wedge between Mauritania’s two black communities.
  • By the early 90s, a new order had taken shape along the river. Along Mauritania's increasingly militarised river border facing Senegal, Haratins now formed a first line of defence. Opposite, swelling the population of Senegal’s riverside towns, were tens of thousands of bewildered Mauritanian refugees, who only had to look a few hundred metres into the distance to see their homeland. Gone was the dynamic riverine community.
  • A constant source of anxiety has been a lack of job opportunities, owing in part to the limitations placed on refugees, affecting their ability to pay for healthcare and education.
  • many here dream of travelling to find work to support their families. But Senegal, which is responsible for issuing travel documents to the refugees, has yet to produce the machine readable travel documents which became required document for international refugee travel back in 2015
  • Senegalese authorities have pressed the community to accept its nationality. Abdoulaye Diop, and many here, reject this based on principle, as an infringement on their identity. “I am as Mauritanian as the president is, and Mauritania is the place where I know, where I was born and grew up,” Diop said.
  • But according to a survey conducted by the UNHCR last year, of the Mauritanian refugees, 67 percent said they would be willing to become Senegalese.
Ed Webb

The Post-WWI Migrations That Built Yugoslavia and Turkey Have Left a Painful Legacy - N... - 0 views

  • the religious, ethnic and linguistic diversity that characterized their territories in the Middle East and Eastern Europe no longer chimed with the new world order being organized around nation-states
  • Designing measures such as the Greek-Turkish population exchange of 1923, the League of Nations legitimized demographic engineering policies and made migration an intrinsic part of nation-building. With international encouragement, the states with Muslim minorities in the Balkans devised multipronged policies to push out the citizens they saw as undesirable. Turkey became the only destination for Balkan Muslims, even when they were not Turkish.
  • in 1938 Belgrade and Ankara concluded a little-known agreement to transfer 200,000 Yugoslav citizens to Turkey. The transfer did not materialize because of the start of World War II, but the migrations did eventually take place and continued into the 1950s. For both Yugoslavia and Turkey, new states created in the aftermath of World War I, migration was an important part of nation-building.
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  • took as its model another such deal between Turkey and Romania in 1936 as well as the better-known Greek-Turkish population exchange of 1923
  • Forced processes of homogenization are still part of the repertoire of nation-state building, and continue to shape our understanding of world order. Muslim presence in the southeastern periphery of Europe likewise continues to be viewed as problematic and even dangerous: As Piro Rexhepi observed in the book “White Enclosures,” their integration continues to be desirable for security but impossible racially.
  • Focus on religious identity allowed for a formal incorporation of these rather diverse populations into the Turkish national body. The asylum policy and the settlement laws defined migrants as Turks and those “affiliated with Turkish culture” to encompass all the Slav, Albanian and Greek Muslims, making Turkey­­ a safe haven for Muslim minorities fleeing oppressive regimes.
  • Dispossession, expulsions and massacres of diverse Muslim populations were already a grim reality of nation-building in southeastern Europe in the 19th century, when Greece, Montenegro, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria were carved out of Ottoman provinces. In fact, the conquests of Ottoman Europe after 1699 normalized expulsion and compulsory conversion of local Muslims in the lost territories
  • During the Balkan Wars (1912-1913) Serbia, Montenegro, Greece and Bulgaria invaded the remaining Ottoman territories in Europe. Within several months, an estimated 1 million Muslims vanished, murdered and expelled from the regions taken over by these states. The shocking magnitude of the violence, which continued into World War I, made many Muslims wary of their future in the new nation-states and incited migration to the Ottoman Empire, itself in the midst of conflict.
  • 19th-century definitions of South Slavic brotherhood envisioned Slav Muslims as potentially assimilable, distinguishing between “the Turks” as the non-Slavic Ottomans and “our Turks,” that is, Slav Muslims
  • so-called reform also included the vast properties of the Islamic pious endowments. Schools, mosques and Sufi lodges lost the land and incomes that were used to operate educational, religious and community services. Some land appropriations were symbolic: The 15th-century Burmali Mosque that visually defined Skopje’s main thoroughfare was simply torn down
  • In the 1920s, Catholic missionaries working in neighboring Kosovo, a former Ottoman province inhabited by Albanian Muslim and Christian populations and similarly incorporated into Southern Serbia, sent reports of massacres, assassinations, imprisonment and forced labor in a memorandum to the League of Nations, receiving no response.
  • Ivo Andric, an admired novelist and Yugoslav Nobel laureate, was also one of the highest-ranking Yugoslav diplomats in the interwar period. Eager to finalize the population transfer agreement with Turkey, he advised the government in Belgrade that Turkey was not only interested in the small group of ethnic Turks in Yugoslavia but also populations akin to Turks in their “mentality.” Repeating a constant theme in almost all of Andric’s novels, Muslims were described in his diplomatic correspondence as alien to the Balkans. For Andric, they were “Turks leftover in the territories of our Kingdom.”
  • over 2,000 Bosnians were settled along with Greek Muslims in the town of Izmir.
  • Turkish officials, faced with the constant influx of migrants, pursued agreements with the Balkan states that would offset the costs of migrant settlement. The 1934 Balkan Pact included minority clauses that allowed Turkish citizens to sell their properties in their former homelands. Turkish administrators also considered requesting an estimated payment from the Balkan nation-states to match the value of the properties that Balkan Muslims were forced to leave behind.
  • The Turkish Republic saw population growth as beneficial for economic development and national defense in the long term, as it worked to populate its eastern and western borderlands. Moreover, many of Turkey’s early administrators, as migrants and children of migrants themselves, understood these new waves of migration from a personal perspective.
  • Laws barred those speaking languages other than Turkish from settling in groups and limited the “foreign” presence to no more than 10% of a municipality, though the realities of the period frequently made these laws impossible to execute. The locals took on much of the burden of helping newcomers, begrudgingly sharing public resources. At the same time, the immigrants provided necessary manpower and introduced new methods in agriculture and certain industries. While Balkan languages largely disappeared with the following generation, enduring legacies, such as Balkan cuisine and music evoking the most personal memories of exile, acquired a place in the Turkish national heritage.
  • Today, no official recognition of the violent policies of “unmixing” exists, and barely anyone has heard of Yugoslavia’s attempted population transfer of 1939.
  • the international community’s preferred solutions to “ethnic conflicts” in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo remain equally tied to principles of nationalist homogenization and demarcation. A century after the foundation of modern Turkey and the first Yugoslavia, the legacies of that era’s mass migration and state violence persist.
Ed Webb

Appease and enable: The West's disastrous Russia and Turkey policies - POLITICO - 0 views

  • Western powers once again make excuses for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, understanding Turkey’s mysterious “legitimate security concerns,” which often equates to a license to kill. But by appeasing him for the sake of “keeping” the country within NATO, they miss the point that the Turkish leader is not so different from Russian President Vladimir Putin — and that once again, a policy of appeasement simply won’t work. 
  • Turkey has been allowed to indulge in its long-running double game, continuing to play Russia and the West against each other, delivering pre-ordered drones to Kyiv on the one hand, while ignoring sanctions against Moscow and opposing Finland and Sweden’s applications to join NATO on the other. 
  • There are strong similarities between Russian arrogance toward Ukrainians and Turkish high-handedness toward the Kurds.Ankara targets anything that sounds or looks Kurdish — inside or outside the country. And both Erdoğan and Putin see it as their historic missions to “civilize” these “substandard” and finally “non-existing” nations, to invoke their right to self-defense and preventive strikes against Nazis and terrorists respectively, who they say threaten to attack “peace-loving” Russia or Turkey.
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  • This cynical agenda is driven by the fear of losing “NATO partner Turkey” to Russia. In addition, Europeans have been avoiding jeopardizing their economic interests in Turkey and are fearful of placing their refugee deal with Ankara at risk.
  • the systems Erdoğan and Putin have crafted disregard the rule of law and supersede it with one-man rule, as they both have surrounded themselves by oligarchs and yes-men. Both countries are undemocratic, their elections neither free nor fair,  their regimes pushing narratives and pursuing actions that are irredentist, revisionist and bellicose
  • In Turkish-occupied northern Syria, the Kurdish language is banned in official institutions and schools and replaced by Turkish, much like in occupied Ukrainian land, where Russian has ousted the Ukrainian and Turkish Tatar languages.
  • Appeasers fail to understand that Western standards, values and principles are obstacles to the functioning of these regimes
  • they cannot be engaged through values and rules-based approaches but need to be treated as what they are — security threats.
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