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Ed Webb

Brian Kilmeade on Bill O'Reilly: 'All Terrorists Are Muslims' | Video | Mediaite - 2 views

    Incredible. Almost up there with shouting 'fire' in a crowded theatre.
Ed Webb

Drone warfare's deadly civilian toll: a very personal view | James Jeffrey | Comment is... - 0 views

  • Both Pakistan and Yemen are arguably less stable and more hostile to the west as a result of President Obama's increased reliance on drones. When surveying the poisoned legacy left to the Iraqi people, and what will be left to the Afghan people, it's beyond depressing to hear of the hawks circling around other theatres like Pakistan and Yemen, stoking the flames of interventionism.I fear the folly in which I took part will never end, and society will be irreversibly enmeshed in what George Orwell's 1984 warned of: constant wars against the Other, in order to forge false unity and fealty to the state.
  • in Afghanistan, the linguistic corruption that always attends war meant we'd refer to "hot spots", "multiple pax on the ground" and "prosecuting a target", or "maximising the kill chain".
  • encroachment of drones into the civilian realm is also gaining momentum. President Obama signed a federal law on 14 February 2012, allowing drones for a variety of commercial uses and for police law enforcement. The skies above may never be the same. As with most of America's darker elements, such as its gun culture, there's profit to be made – the market for drones is already valued at $5.9bn and is expected to double in 10 years.
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  • Technological advancements in warfare don't have a good track record in terms of unintended consequences
Ed Webb

Yemen pays price for Saudis' sectarian paranoia | Middle East Eye - 1 views

  • The success of the Houthi insurgency from the north that swept the Yemeni leadership from power, taking over the capital Sanaa, was perversely treated by the Security Council as a military coup justifying the intervention by a Saudi-led coalition. Strange to recall that the 2013 undisguised military coup in Egypt, with much bloodier reprisals against the displaced elected rulers, aroused not a murmur of protest in the halls of the UN. So goes geopolitics in the Middle East.
  • the geopolitical tendency to reduce an incredibly complex national history and interplay of contending forces to a simplistic story of Sunni versus Shia rivalry for the control of the country
  • allows Saudi Arabia to portray the strife in Yemen as another theatre of the wider region proxy war pitting Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies against Iran, which is a guaranteed way of securing US and Israeli backing
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  • not a regional politics based on sectarian priorities, but rather a pathological preoccupation with regime stability in the Saudi monarchy, with anxieties arising whenever political tendencies emerge in the region that elude its control, and are perceived as threatening
  • There is a long experience of division between the north and the south, and this means that any unity government for the whole of Yemen can only be sustained by an iron-fisted dictator like Saleh or through a genuine power-sharing federalist kind of arrangement. Beyond this, the country bears the scars of Ottoman rule intermixed with a British presence in Aden and the surrounding area, vital for colonial priorities of controlling the Suez and the trade routes to the East.Additionally, Yemen remains a composite of tribes that still command the major loyalty of people. The modern European insistence on sovereign states in the Middle East never succeeded in overcoming the primacy of Yemeni tribal identities. Any possibility of political stability requires subsidising Yemen’s tribes as Saudi Arabia did during Saleh’s dictatorship (1990-2012) or creating a multi-coloured quilt of autonomous tribal polities. When geography and tribalism are taken into account recourse to the Shia-Sunni divide or the Riyadh-Tehran rivalry as an explanation of Yemen’s strife-ridden country is a cruel and futile fantasy.
  • What is needed is establishing a political transition sensitive both to the North-South split and the strength of Yemeni tribes coupled with massive economic assistance from outside and the creation of a UN peacekeeping presence tasked with implementation
  • Such a rational path is currently blocked, especially by the intense militancy of the aggressive Saudi leadership of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, and his son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Secretary of Defence, the apparent champion of military intervention
Ed Webb

The World Today - Turkish democracy 'a recipe for Arab world' 06/10/2011 - 0 views

  • STEPHEN KINZER: The foreign minister by his own count has made 60 trips to Syria over the last seven or eight years, since he's been in office. That was enough to convince him that here Turkey and Syria had built a very strong relationship.So when the Syrian government began cracking down on demonstrators, the prime minister and the foreign minister called their friends in Syria and told them don't do this. We have got another idea for you. You've got to do it a different way and essentially the Syrians told them drop dead, we're not interested. We don't want to hear from you. This was a big shock for the Turks. Now they have essentially cut off their ties with Assad. They are fed up with him and I see the situation in Syria developing in a potentially very dangerous way. Syria has become the principle theatre where Iran and Turkey are facing off. Iran is supporting the regime, Turkey is supporting the protesters so that is almost the beginning of a proxy conflict between Turkey and Iran who in the long run are likely to become competitors for regional power anyway. The developments in Syria are most distressing and if there is one situation evolving in the Middle East that has the potential for really explosive trouble, it is what is happening in Syria right now.
Ed Webb

Mohammed Bin Salman; A Prince Who Should Not Become A King » Deep State Radio... - 0 views

  • In a meeting with current and former U.S officials in Washington during his last visit in the Spring, crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman said that he was interested in spending up to a hundred million dollars to arm the “Lebanese Forces”, the civil war Christian militia turned political party to transform it from a political adversary of Hezbollah into a lethal enemy. According to a participant in the meeting, the crown prince found no interest in this scheme either in Washington or in Beirut. Contrary to its name, this political party does not have an armed wing and its leadership has disavowed publicly the use of force.
  • The Qatar crisis demonstrated clearly that the new younger leaders in the Gulf see politics as a zero sum game, that they  are more willing  than their more measured and cautious fathers, to double down and burn the last bridge.
  • No Arab country could match Iran’s Shi’a foreign legions, with sectarian legions of their own. Mohammed Bin Salman is very aware of this predicament, and of the embarrassing limits of Saudi military power.
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  • In his short tenure, Mohammed Bin Salman has blazed a trail of bold and bloody moves domestically and regionally that were norm busting, counterintuitive and precedent breaking. While every Saudi monarch since 1932 had interfered in Yemen’s domestic affairs politically, militarily and often aggressively, only Muhammed Bin Salman as the leader of the wealthiest Arab country waged a war to destroy the already weak and fractured economy and infrastructure of the poorest Arab country. His air war soon turned into a rampage of indiscriminate bombings and blockades amounting to possible war crimes, creating the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. Save the Children organization has estimated that 85,000 children might have died of malnutrition and starvation since the bombings began in 2015.
  • Saudi Arabia has had border disputes with Yemen and most of her smaller Gulf neighbors for many years. On occasions it tried to use coercive methods mostly employing tribes to settle these disputes the most famous of which was the Buraimi Oasis dispute of the 1940’s and 50’s, involving Saudi Arabia, Oman and what is now the UAE. But ever since the formation of the Gulf Cooperation Council in 1981 to coordinate economic, political and potentially military policies, disputes were expected to be resolved amicably among member states; Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. The grouping never amounted to an alliance and now it is in tatters because of political, personal and ideological tensions involving mainly Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE vs. Qatar.
  • The man who condemned civilians in Yemen to a slow death, blockaded neighboring Qatar, cracked down harshly on peaceful activists at home, ordered the brutal killing and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi abroad, and engaged in a brazen shakedown of other Saudi royals, was in the process of trying to add to his list of depredations, the resumption of armed conflict in Lebanon.
  • Mohammed Bin Salman has trapped himself in a war in Yemen that he cannot win, but he has already lost his campaign against Qatar.
  • the case can be made that Mohammed Bin Salman’s war in Yemen made the Houthis more dependent on Iran and gave Iran and Hezbollah a military foothold on the Arabian Peninsula that did not exist before the war. The blockade of Qatar led to improved political, economic and trade relations between Doha and Tehran, and increased Turkey’s military profile in the Gulf for the first time since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago.
  • Much has been written about Mohammed Bin Salman as a ‘reformer’, but most of the focus was on the ‘historic’ decision to allow women to drive, (a decision any new ruler was expected to take) to open up movie theatres, and to allow men and women for the first time to watch together sport competitions. The crown prince was praised because he wanted to diversify the ‘one crop economy’ and make it less dependent on hydrocarbon production, through greater foreign investment, an issue the Saudi elites have been discussing for years. At best these measures are necessary for any nation to survive let alone thrive in the modern world. But there was not a single serious decision to politically empower the population, or to open the public sphere even very slightly
  • the short reign of Mohammed Bin Salman has been more despotic than previous rulers. No former Saudi Monarch has amassed the executive powers, political, military and economic that the crown prince has concentrated in his hands except for the founder of the ruling dynasty King Abdul-Aziz  Al Saud. His brief tenure has been marked by periodic campaigns of repression. Long before the murder of Khashoggi, scores of writers, intellectuals and clerics were arrested for daring to object to the crown prince’s decisions. Many are still languishing in jails with no formal charges. Even some of the women activists who pushed hard for years to lift the ban on women driving, were incarcerated on trumped up charges of ‘treason’. Women are allowed to drive now – but the crown prince would like them to think that this is because of his magnanimity, and not their struggle- but they are still subject to the misogynistic and atavistic female guardianship system, which treat adult women regardless of their high education and accomplishments as legal minors.
  • Jamal Khashoggi is the last of a long trail of Arab journalists and men of letters murdered by their governments at home and abroad. But he was the first one to have a reputable, international medium, the Washington Post that published his columns in English and Arabic, which was one of the reasons that enraged the crown prince. Jamal, was the first journalist millions of people all over the world watched walking his last steps toward his violent death
Ed Webb

The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer: Turning Qatar into an Island: Saudi cuts off... - 0 views

  • There’s a cutting-off-the-nose-to-spite-the face aspect to a Saudi plan to turn Qatar into an island by digging a 60-kilometre ocean channel through the two countries’ land border that would accommodate a nuclear waste heap as well as a military base. If implemented, the channel would signal the kingdom’s belief that relations between the world’s only two Wahhabi states will not any time soon return to the projection of Gulf brotherhood that was the dominant theme prior to the United Arab Emirates-Saudi-led imposition in June of last year of a diplomatic and economic boycott of Qatar.
  • The message that notions of Gulf brotherhood are shallow at best is one that will be heard not only in Doha, but also in other capitals in the region
  • the nuclear waste dump and military base would be on the side of the channel that touches the Qatari border and would effectively constitute a Saudi outpost on the newly created island.
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  • The plan, to be funded by private Saudi and Emirati investors and executed by Egyptian firms that helped broaden the Suez Canal, also envisions the construction of five hotels, two ports and a free trade zone.
  • The $750 million project would have the dump ready for when Saudi Arabia inaugurates the first two of its 16 planned nuclear reactors in 2027. Saudi Arabia is reviewing proposals to build the reactors from US, Chinese, French, South Korean contractors and expects to award the projects in December.
  • Qatar’s more liberal Wahhabism of the sea contrasts starkly with the Wahhabism of the land that Prince Mohammed is seeking to reform. The crown prince made waves last year by lifting a ban on women’s driving, granting women the right to attend male sporting events in stadiums, and introducing modern forms of entertainment like, music, cinema and theatre – all long-standing fixtures of Qatari social life and of the ability to reform while maintaining autocratic rule.
  • A traditional Gulf state and a Wahhabi state to boot, Qatari conservatism was everything but a mirror image of Saudi Arabia’s long-standing puritan way of life. Qatar did not have a powerful religious establishment like the one in Saudi Arabia that Prince Mohammed has recently whipped into subservience, nor did it implement absolute gender segregation. Non-Muslims can practice their faith in their own houses of worship and were exempted from bans on alcohol and pork. Qatar became a sponsor of the arts and hosted the controversial state-owned Al Jazeera television network that revolutionized the region’s controlled media landscape and became one of the world’s foremost global English-language broadcasters.
  • Qatari conservatism is likely what Prince Mohammed would like to achieve even if that is something he is unlikely to acknowledge
  • “I consider myself a good Wahhabi and can still be modern, understanding Islam in an open way. We take into account the changes in the world,” Abdelhameed Al Ansari, the then dean of Qatar University’s College of Sharia, a leader of the paradigm shift, told The Wall Street Journal in 2002.
  • if built, the channel would suggest that geopolitical supremacy has replaced ultra-conservative, supremacist religious doctrine as a driver of the king-in-waiting’s policy
Ed Webb

Between British integration and Arab identity: The history of the Moroccan merchants of... - 0 views

  • The Syrian/Lebanese mercantile community of Manchester existed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but they were not the only Arab group in the UK during this period. Moroccan traders formed a very distinct Arab community in Manchester.
  • Moroccan merchants began visiting Britain as early as the sixteenth century, arriving at the port of St. Ives in Cornwall in 1589
  • In the nineteenth century, Moroccan Muslim and Jewish traders began to settle in Manchester on a more permanent basis. In the 1830s Britain and Morocco signed treaties permitting their subjects to travel and trade in each other’s territories.
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  • the words manisheester and rite – after products bearing the insignia of Manchester manufacturer Richard Wright – entered the local vocabulary in Fes, to refer to good quality tea trays and pots.
  • In his book, Reminisces of Manchester, Hayes noted how close-knit the merchants were and how different their style of business was from English merchants. The latter group were initially shocked by the openness and trust between Moroccan merchants and how, if you wanted to discuss business with one of them, you would have to do so in front of all the others.
  • The Manchester City News praises the Moroccan merchants for their honesty and hospitality. It also notes, however, that most of the Moroccan merchants had married black women, purchased as slaves in Morocco, and brought them back to England. 
  • “Taken as a whole, these Moors were a thoughtful, peaceable, kindly and sociable set of men. Mohammedans by faith one could not but admire and respect them for their strict observance of all that their religion enjoined”. 
  • Moroccans were fascinated with England’s public parks, green spaces, and seaside resorts and would often go on hikes and picnics as well as to the cinema and theatre
  • While his parents insisted that their son be exempted from Christian prayers at school, he and other children would celebrate Christmas, exchanging gifts with British children. 
  • He recalls that he was often bullied by other children because of his Moroccan origin and as a result developed a timid character. 
  • Most of this early Moroccan community had returned to Morocco by 1936 when the Lancashire textile trade declined.
  • While the early Moroccan community in Manchester was relatively small and eventually returned to Morocco, they provide an excellent example of how an Arab community integrated into British life at a time before modern conceptions of citizenship and racial equality – with their associated protections – had been established. 
  • By the 1930s when most of the original Manchester Moroccan community had returned to their country of origin, other Arabs – notably Yemenis – were establishing a more permanent presence in Britain’s cities.
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