MENA, MENA, Tekel, Parsin (Middle East, North Africa & other Geopolitical Hotspots) 2018

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Daniel reads the words "MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN" and interprets them for the king: "MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; TEKEL, you have been weighed ... and found wanting;" and "PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians. Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed in purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made… that he should rank third in the kingdom; [and] that very night Belshazzar the Chaldean (Babylonian) king was killed, and Darius the Mede received the kingdom."[3]

Yemen, Israel, Syria, Iran and Iraq and more

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 17 January 2018 05:51 (four months ago) Permalink

U.S. officials tried to help the Saudis improve their targeting. They eventually expanded a “no strike” list to include thirty-three thousand targets. “We broadened and broadened and broadened that list over time as the Saudis kept striking things that we would have thought they wouldn’t strike,” Konyndyk told me. The State Department sent an expert, Larry Lewis, to Saudi Arabia. When a civilian target was hit, Lewis wanted to help the Saudis implement ways of investigating the incident, to “avoid the same kind of thing happening again,” he said. Lower-ranking Saudis seemed pained by the casualties. “There was definitely a feeling that, of course we want to protect civilians, you know, we’re good Muslims,” Lewis said. The Saudi leadership was less concerned; as Lewis put it, from the rank of lieutenant colonel upward “there was less pressure for change.”

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 17 January 2018 05:55 (four months ago) Permalink

Some 60,000 African migrants entered Israel prior to the construction of a barrier on its southern border with the Sinai in 2012. Israel, which considers them economic migrants, not refugees from persecution, until now has encouraged the Africans to leave by handing them cash — generally about $3,500 — and a plane ticket. About 20,000 have taken the offer, leaving nearly 40,000 in Israel, most living freely.

This month, Netanyahu said those who do not take the deportation offer face jail. Rwanda and Uganda reportedly are the likeliest destinations for deportees, though both governments deny it.

Plans to bring a first-ever group of Ugandan Jews to Israel on a Birthright trip are in jeopardy following the recent deportation of a member of their community.

The group of 40 Ugandans had been scheduled to arrive in Israel in late May on the free 10-day trip available to young Jewish adults from around the world. But Birthright officials are now concerned the group may be turned away upon arrival, just as 31-year-old Yehudah Kimani was, because the immigration authorities do not consider them Jewish...In late December, Kimani, who hails from Kenya but lived for a year among the Abayudaya while converting, was detained upon entering Israel and deported the following morning, even though he had a valid tourist visa.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 17 January 2018 06:02 (four months ago) Permalink

Meanwhile in Afghanistan

The huge spike in airstrikes is the product of new rules of engagement, adopted as part of a strategy that President Trump announced in August. U.S. forces can now strike Taliban targets at will, whereas under the Obama administration they were restricted to defending Afghan forces under imminent attack.

“U.S. strategy is so military-centric. Even 100,000 troops couldn’t finish the Taliban, and ever since those days, they have been zealously confident,” said Borhan Osman, senior analyst for Afghanistan at the International Crisis Group. “The U.S. is misreading Taliban psychology. Their whole fight is about saying, ‘We were a legitimate government and you toppled us and installed a puppet government.’ This new U.S. strategy will only make them more willing to fight.”

U.S. military leaders acknowledge that the Taliban controls or contests nearly half of Afghanistan’s districts — a number that has slowly crept higher through the past year,

curmudgeon, Thursday, 18 January 2018 04:19 (four months ago) Permalink


Syria crisis: Why Turkey is poised to attack Kurdish enclave Afrin
Syria 'ready to down Turkish jets attacking Kurds Afrin'
Turkey targets Kurdish forces in Afrin: The short, medium and long story

Am I a bad person for hoping this provides a major distraction to the Trump administration from its North Korea plans?

Sanpaku, Thursday, 18 January 2018 22:26 (four months ago) Permalink

You're not. Also because as far as distractions go, this one actually *means* something, instead of the 'my dad has a bigger car than your dad' USA-North Korea stupidity.

Fact of the matter is Trump's not spoken out on any of this. Obv for one, he doesn't even know where the hell Syria is, let alone have a plan or idea about it. The US army has handled things on their own pretty well actually, for once showing at least a hint of loyalty to the Kurds who helped push back ISIS.

The interesting thing is: will America budge when Erdogan puts things to the test? Am I a bad person for hoping your buffoon president will stick to his guns and fend off Turkey in this one? Slim chance, but it's one of the instances I find myself hoping Trump's narcissism actually brings something good to the table.

♫ very clever with maracas.jpg ♫ (Le Bateau Ivre), Thursday, 18 January 2018 23:04 (four months ago) Permalink

I guess this is not on Fox & Friends...

Plans for the operation were believed to have accelerated when US officials said earlier this month that it would help the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance, which is dominated by the YPG, build a new "border security force" to prevent the return of IS.

Some 25,000 pro-Turkey fighters have joined the offensive, rebel commander Maj Yasser Abdul Rahim told Reuters. It is not clear how many Turkish soldiers are on the ground.

Turkey's military said it had hit 45 targets on Sunday, as part of its campaign.

It earlier said dozens of air strikes had taken out 153 targets belonging to Kurdish militants.

curmudgeon, Monday, 22 January 2018 20:42 (four months ago) Permalink

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, said Turkish troops “will take no step back” and expressed frustration with US calls for restraint, accusing the US of arming Kurdish terrorist groups. Mr Erdogan also said that Russia had given its backing to the operation.

Both Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state, and Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, said they were concerned over the fighting.

There are a number of British and other Western volunteers fighting with Kurdish forces in northern Syria, raising the prospect that Western citizens might kill Turkish troops or be killed by them.

The involvement of Western citizens in the fighting against Turkish forces would likely add more strain to the already-fraught relationship between Turkey and the rest of Nato.

curmudgeon, Monday, 22 January 2018 20:45 (four months ago) Permalink

expressed frustration with US calls for restraint

This fucking guy.

♫ very clever with maracas.jpg ♫ (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 22 January 2018 20:54 (four months ago) Permalink

If Turkey keeps ignoring US calls for restraint, will Pentagon suggest more forceful action by US? Kurds may get dumped by US again.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 23 January 2018 21:44 (four months ago) Permalink

There's no way US will stand up against Turkey by using force. Too much 'at stake'. Of course the Kurds will get dumped again. "No friends but the mountains."

♫ very clever with maracas.jpg ♫ (Le Bateau Ivre), Tuesday, 23 January 2018 21:48 (four months ago) Permalink

Seeing Pence and Netanyaho galloping hand in hand in the Knesset yesterday, while MP's protesting Pence's presence there were hauled away, made me vomit.

♫ very clever with maracas.jpg ♫ (Le Bateau Ivre), Tuesday, 23 January 2018 21:49 (four months ago) Permalink

Israel and Egypt working together:

The jihadists in Egypt’s Northern Sinai had killed hundreds of soldiers and police officers, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, briefly seized a major town and begun setting up armed checkpoints to claim territory. In late 2015, they brought down a Russian passenger jet.

Egypt appeared unable to stop them, so Israel, alarmed at the threat just over the border, took action.

For more than two years, unmarked Israeli drones, helicopters and jets have carried out a covert air campaign, conducting more than 100 airstrikes inside Egypt, frequently more than once a week — and all with the approval of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The remarkable cooperation marks a new stage in the evolution of their singularly fraught relationship. Once enemies in three wars, then antagonists in an uneasy peace, Egypt and Israel are now secret allies in a covert war against a common foe.

curmudgeon, Monday, 5 February 2018 16:51 (three months ago) Permalink

This Israeli action is still in the news too. They want to send the mostly Sudanese and Eritrean men to Rwanda or Uganda:

Israel has started handing out notices to 20,000 male African migrants giving them two months to leave the country or risk being thrown in jail.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is offering the migrants, most of whom are from Sudan and Eritrea, $3,500 and a plane ticket to what it says is a safe destination in another country in sub-Saharan Africa.

The fate of some 37,000 Africans in Israel is posing a moral dilemma for a state founded as haven for Jews from persecution and a national home. The right-wing government is under pressure from its nationalist voter base to expel the migrants, while others are calling for them to be taken in.

curmudgeon, Monday, 5 February 2018 16:56 (three months ago) Permalink

to this, add today's news about Israel, Syria, Iran, Russia:

JERUSALEM — Israel’s military said that one of its F-16 fighter jets crashed early Saturday in northern Israel after coming under heavy Syrian antiaircraft fire and after Israel had shot down an Iranian drone that penetrated Israeli airspace from Syria.

The events appeared to be Israel’s first direct engagement with Iranian forces across the increasingly volatile boundary in the Golan Heights, risking a new escalation in Syria’s multifaceted seven-year war in the area.

Early assessments suggested that the Israeli F-16 had been hit by Syrian antiaircraft fire, according to a military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, though he added that nothing had been officially confirmed.

...This appeared to be the first time in decades, probably since the early 1980s, that an Israeli jet was downed under enemy fire. In the past, Syria has claimed, falsely, that it had shot down Israeli aircraft.

The jet crash represented a severe blow to Israel’s prestige and could mark a major change after years in which Israel has acted against targets in Syria with relative impunity.

The Israeli military said in statement that it “sees the Iranian attack and the Syrian response as a severe and irregular violation of Israeli sovereignty,” and added that it was “fully prepared for further action.”

After the initial assault on the drone launching facilities, Israel said later Saturday that it had attacked 12 additional targets, including three aerial defense batteries and four Iranian targets “that are part of Iran’s military establishment in Syria.”

Iran, along with Russia — which had helped propped up the government of President Bashar al- Assad in Syria — on Saturday denied any role in shooting down the Israeli jet.

...Israel seized the strategic plateau from Syria in the 1967 war and fought off an invasion there in 1973. Though the area remained quiet for decades, it has become a growing flash point throughout Syria’s war.

Israel has conducted hundreds of airstrikes in Syria during the war, largely targeting what it says are advanced weapons stores or convoys taking weapons to Hezbollah in neighboring Lebanon, but sometimes reportedly hitting Syrian government facilities involved in weapons development.

Syria’s government has always said that it would respond at a proper time and place, and it has occasionally returned fire with antiaircraft guns and missiles.

Karl Malone, Saturday, 10 February 2018 17:42 (three months ago) Permalink

I read that stuff before bed last night and dreamt that Israel had killed Nasrallah with a missile. Feel like one of the potential catastrophic wars that are potentially in the offing is going to start soon (well, remembering the Syrian Civil War has already been a catastrophic years long war).

khat person (jim in vancouver), Sunday, 11 February 2018 02:41 (three months ago) Permalink

Israel is trying as well diplomatically to get Russia to restrain Iran. Doesn't seem to be working.

curmudgeon, Sunday, 11 February 2018 06:39 (three months ago) Permalink

Did Israel clear its recent bombing missions in Syria with Russia?

curmudgeon, Monday, 12 February 2018 22:17 (three months ago) Permalink

So Russia and Russian fighters have been supporting Syria and Iran, but for now Russia is being quiet about the retaliatory strikes by both Israel and the US. They must see them as one-off actions that will not impact their influence

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 13 February 2018 22:01 (three months ago) Permalink

i was thinking that they're likely concerned about escalation as well. things are going pretty tony for them in Syria and it has cost them a significant investment. w/ the sanctions, etc, they are likely v extended and cannot start taking on more conflagration. remember when the turkey stuff went down they ended up not making a huge deal out of it either (as i remember - someone else's recollection may be different). the alternative is that israel is liaisoning about the strikes at least in aggregate and russia is giving the thumbs up.

Mordy, Tuesday, 13 February 2018 22:10 (three months ago) Permalink

When Israel boasted that it took out half of Syria's air defenses the other day, I saw a semi-conservative tweeter say "why didn't Obama do that when Syria used chemical weapons," although the tweeter then acknowledged that this still wouldn't have totally weakened Assad back then and necessarily changed things completely for the non-Isis (US supported) rebels then

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 13 February 2018 22:52 (three months ago) Permalink

i hadn't heard that boast! tbh i didn't follow it v closely so i didn't realize the campaign was so extensive. i do think iran would like to establish a front with israel from syria but i don't think they can afford to press it. w/ discontent at home, slowly recovering economy, these years of investment in syria, whatever amount they' re actually spending in yemen... i do wonder how extended they are too. it's so hard to measure the stability of these closed regimes but you'd have to think they are pretty thin and can't really afford to now pick a direct fight w/ israel.

Mordy, Tuesday, 13 February 2018 22:55 (three months ago) Permalink

Israel estimates that it destroyed nearly half of Syria’s air defense system in a retaliatory air force sortie after one of its F-16 fighter jets was shot down by a Syrian missile, according to a military assessment provided to local news media Sunday.

The fighting broke out Saturday after an Iranian drone, launched from a site controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, flew into Israeli airspace.

Israel said it hit eight Syrian army targets and four Iranian sites in Syria, including an Iranian command trailer at the so-called T4 base, near the ancient city of Palmyra, from which the drone was launched early Saturday. Israeli Apache helicopters downed the drone, and four F-16 jets were dispatched into Syrian territory to bomb the site from which it was launched.

One Israeli F-16 was hit by Syrian fire as it returned to Israel from the mission, leading to the massive Israeli retaliation.

The deputy commander of Israel’s air force, Brig. Gen. Tomer Bar, said Saturday that Israel’s aerial reprisal was “the biggest and most significant attack the air force has conducted against Syrian air defenses” since the 1982 Lebanon War....

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 13 February 2018 23:07 (three months ago) Permalink

Kommersant is reporting that the attempt to seize the air base was unsanctioned and that the Russian mercs were under the command of a local businessman who wanted to capture nearby oil fields.

There is apparently footage of the bombing raid and it was pretty clear they had no air support, either from Russia or Syria. The story goes that they took out a lot of US and Kurdish soldiers and the US called in air strikes to maintain hold of the base.

I wouldn’t bet against this kind of thing happening again. Russia has done something similar to the US in Iraq and pulled most of their soldiers out - with private contractors filling the void in return for a cut of oil revenue. The controls are so weak, you’re probably going to get mercenaries fighting against each other at some point.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Wednesday, 14 February 2018 18:39 (three months ago) Permalink

Good piece by Nataliya Valilyeva on the (officially) five Russians who were killed by the US airstrike:

They were working for Wagner, the biggest private contractor / mercenary company - essentially Russia's answer to Blackwater.

It looks like there is pressure within the Duma to start properly regulating the contractors:

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Friday, 16 February 2018 10:10 (three months ago) Permalink

U.N. security council report on Yemen that was released the other day is grim reading

khat person (jim in vancouver), Friday, 16 February 2018 17:39 (three months ago) Permalink


curmudgeon, Tuesday, 20 February 2018 06:03 (three months ago) Permalink

Why more Iranians don't use "Ultrasurf" to access the internet

China, the world’s biggest Internet censor, objects to the development of programs that can circumvent its repressive censorship. Obama administration officials admitted that State Department funding decisions in such matters are based, at least in part, on the department’s desire to keep the Chinese from “go[ing] ballistic.” Now similar concerns for Chinese sensitivities appear to be shaping the Trump administration’s response to the Iranian people’s protests for freedom.

Iranians have been using UltraSurf to circumvent the mullahs’ censors, but recently the number of Iranian users has exploded to about 2 million, with daily hits on the website numbering about 1 billion. That’s the good news. The bad news is that because of the lack of funding from State, UltraSurf’s servers are in danger of crashing for lack of capacity to meet the exploding Iranian demand. Too many Iranians have joined the people in other closed societies who are trying to use the software.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 20 February 2018 06:09 (three months ago) Permalink

More on Iran from a kinda neo-con, sometime moderate W. Post columnist Jackson Diehl

Iranians are still nationalists: More than 70 percent still favor developing missiles and a nuclear capacity. Only 16 percent told the pollsters that “Iran’s political system needs to undergo fundamental change.” Yet far fewer support the regime’s foreign adventures. Forty-two percent say “the government should spend less money in places like Syria and Iraq.” A plurality say Iran should negotiate with other countries rather than try to become a regional hegemon. And though 75 percent say the nuclear deal has not improved living conditions, 55 percent still favor it.

What this tells us is that one of the best ways to counter Iran’s interventions in Iraq, Yemen and Syria is to ally with the large bloc of Iranians who oppose them. In part that means helping Iranians find out what their government is up to; the news that it was planning to cut food subsidies while increasing spending on the Revolutionary Guard was one of the triggers of the protests.

Only a tiny number of Iranians — 8 percent, according to the new poll — get information from foreign radio broadcasts, but more than 60 percent depend on the Internet or apps such as Telegram. The United States could do a lot more to help people get around the regime’s attempts to block these channels.
...Rather than pursue such strategies, Trump seems intent on voiding the nuclear deal by May, basically on the grounds that it was negotiated by President Barack Obama. The pact is far from perfect, as I have argued before. For now, though, it has helped to open a rift between the regime and its public and created a potent new source of pressure on Tehran’s foreign adventures. If Trump kills it, expect some quiet celebrations in Tehran.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 20 February 2018 18:18 (three months ago) Permalink

Attacks by forces loyal to the Syrian government have killed more than 100 people in a rebel-held Damascus suburb, aid agencies and monitoring groups said Tuesday, calling it one of the bloodiest 24-hour periods in Syria’s seven-year war.

People cowered in their basements and doctors worked around the clock as warplanes pounded the cluster of towns and villages east of Damascus known as Ghouta, which government forces have surrounded for the past four years.

Even by the standards of Ghouta, the opposition’s isolated last bastion outside the capital, the latest assault has been brutal. Just last month, government warplanes killed at least 210 people and sent hundreds fleeing to what remained of the hospitals.

In the latest attack, hospitals appeared to be the target. More than five of them were hit on Monday, according to the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM). The France-based charity put the toll of the strikes on Monday at 97 dead and more than 500 injured.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 20 February 2018 18:55 (three months ago) Permalink

Assad is brutal, and nothing will happen to him.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 21 February 2018 15:03 (three months ago) Permalink

Meanwhile, in another part of Syria--

Turkey warned on Wednesday that pro-Damascus forces would face “serious consequences” for entering Syria’s Afrin region to help Kurdish fighters repel a Turkish offensive.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 21 February 2018 15:08 (three months ago) Permalink

x-post: Got forbid anything happened to him. That would mean regime change.

Frederik B, Wednesday, 21 February 2018 17:43 (three months ago) Permalink

given that apart from ypg the opposition are all takfiri jihadists there really isn't a "good" outcome to this horrible war

khat person (jim in vancouver), Wednesday, 21 February 2018 17:48 (three months ago) Permalink

Of the 5 listed in this article, Faylaq al-Rahman: The Faylaq al-Rahman organization, or al-Rahman Legion, is also based in Eastern Ghouta, looks like the least bad

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 21 February 2018 19:40 (three months ago) Permalink

there really isn't a "good" outcome to this horrible war

Considering the near-certainty that whoever wins on the battlefield will indulge in mass reprisal murders, even the outcome of "peace" won't bring much peace. As a practical matter, the fact that all sides understand the inevitability of reprisals means there is every motivation to fight on to complete exhaustion. The winners will rule over rubble, but at least they will be alive, and by now that's all this war is about: survival.

A is for (Aimless), Wednesday, 21 February 2018 19:58 (three months ago) Permalink

NY Times Editorial Board says Assad and Russia should be charged with war crimes for current attacks on Ghouta

curmudgeon, Thursday, 22 February 2018 16:25 (three months ago) Permalink

I kinda would like to see Assad out of office and facing a war crimes trial, even if Syria would just become Libya like, or requiring a UN presence to try to hold off all the other bad options. Alas, UN has messed up in Congo, and Russia, Iran and current US government would never support such an idea. A chaotic Syria without Assad using an Air Force to drop barrel bombs, might not be perfect, but it might be slightly less worse.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 22 February 2018 17:37 (three months ago) Permalink

There's no reason to think it wouldn't be worse. Libya is now a failed state/nightmare of a country.

khat person (jim in vancouver), Thursday, 22 February 2018 18:04 (three months ago) Permalink

And Syria isn't?

Frederik B, Thursday, 22 February 2018 20:34 (three months ago) Permalink

In Syria if the jihadists are conclusively defeated - I'm no expert on military affairs but with the help of Russia, Iran, Hezbollah they might well be - Assad's government will be able establish control over the country, with a possibility of something similar to the status quo ante prevailing.

khat person (jim in vancouver), Thursday, 22 February 2018 20:40 (three months ago) Permalink

So is an authoritarian state with Assad having an air force that drops barrel bombs, and has support from Russia, Iran, Hezbollah better than Libya? I dunno. Maybe less chaotic I guess, and thanks to Assad's ruthlessness, lots less people around.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 22 February 2018 20:51 (three months ago) Permalink

The benefits of a central authority, no matter that it is despotic, is better than total chaos and lawlessness.

khat person (jim in vancouver), Thursday, 22 February 2018 20:56 (three months ago) Permalink

I also believe, fairly strongly, that if somehow, magically the people rebelling against Assad could gain control over the country, it would be a hellhole.

khat person (jim in vancouver), Thursday, 22 February 2018 20:59 (three months ago) Permalink

Wikipedia says there's been something like 400.000 people killed in the Syrian civil war and 10.000 in the Libya Civil War. Take that with a BIG grain of salt, but still. And not getting rid of Assad means the country could explode all over again. It's not the first uprising they've defeated.

Frederik B, Thursday, 22 February 2018 21:03 (three months ago) Permalink

this study from 2015 had casualties at 20k for the Libyan Civil Wars (2011 and 2014-present) Although Syria is more than 3 times more populous than Libya obviously the war there has just been so much more brutal, with huge atrocities from both sides, most notably government forces deliberate targeting of civilians, and targeting of enemy forces in populated areas in ways sure to kill many civilians - war crimes.

khat person (jim in vancouver), Thursday, 22 February 2018 21:14 (three months ago) Permalink

I also believe, fairly strongly, that if somehow, magically the people rebelling against Assad could gain control over the country, it would be a hellhole.

What do you think Assad turned Aleppo into? What do you think he's doing now to Ghouta?

curmudgeon, Thursday, 22 February 2018 21:38 (three months ago) Permalink

Yeah I'm aware we're talking about the outcome from the end of the conflict. The outcome of the Civil War in Libya that ousted Gaddafi is a failed state and an ongoing war that has no signs of abating. In Syria this war may finally come to a conclusion soon.

khat person (jim in vancouver), Thursday, 22 February 2018 22:01 (three months ago) Permalink

only in the sense that it'll become an occupation. assad is still going to need to ongoingly pacify resistance. the war isn't coming to a true *conclusion* imo any time soon, and this is putting aside that iran may be spoiling for a new war right around the corner w/ israel.

Mordy, Thursday, 22 February 2018 22:04 (three months ago) Permalink

Yes, susceptible to a bunch of hardline nutcases taking over.

Kanye O'er Frae France? (Tom D.), Thursday, 10 May 2018 15:53 (two weeks ago) Permalink

More than 20 killed and 900 injured as Palestinians make major move at Gaza-Israel fence ahead of US Embassy ceremony in Jerusalem, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health

— Breaking News (@BreakingNews) May 14, 2018

Thanks Trump!

lbi's life of limitless european glamour (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 14 May 2018 12:04 (one week ago) Permalink

At least 28 killed by snipers now.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Monday, 14 May 2018 12:08 (one week ago) Permalink


lbi's life of limitless european glamour (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 14 May 2018 12:11 (one week ago) Permalink

Up to 37, including one paramedic treating the wounded.

Not sure the censure from European politicians is going to be any less ambiguous than last month but shooting eight journalists probably won’t go down well with sections of the press.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Monday, 14 May 2018 12:47 (one week ago) Permalink

Also note the very passive "die" in the headline. Palestinians haven't died en masse, they've been shot and killed

— Josie Ensor (@Josiensor) May 14, 2018

lbi's life of limitless european glamour (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 14 May 2018 12:54 (one week ago) Permalink

What a bonehead move from the US, because if and when the embassy is attacked, who are we going to war with? So short sighted. They should have opened up the Israeli embassy in Iran or something.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 14 May 2018 13:37 (one week ago) Permalink

Trumpies are convinced it will be short-term anger and then blow over, and a long-term win for the right-wing. Ugh.

curmudgeon, Monday, 14 May 2018 14:32 (one week ago) Permalink

Huh. Had not been following Iraqi politics, this was news to me:

He portrays himself as an Iraqi nationalist and last year met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, who is staunchly opposed to Iran.

So is he actually getting Saudi support? "Met" is an ambiguous word there.

a man often referred to in the news media as the Duke of Saxony (tipsy mothra), Monday, 14 May 2018 15:14 (one week ago) Permalink

Candace Owens and Charlie Kirk are at the embassy opening for some fucking reason

officer sonny bonds, lytton pd (mayor jingleberries), Monday, 14 May 2018 15:22 (one week ago) Permalink


Romney criticised the choice of a man who has said all Jews will go to hell to deliver a blessing in Israel. Jeffress is the leader of a Dallas-area Baptist church and a spiritual adviser to Trump. He has been criticised for calling Islam and Mormonism “heresy from the pit of hell” and saying Jews “can’t be saved”. As reported by, he also said Islam is “a religion that promotes paedophilia”.

Romney, a Mormon, wrote on Twitter on Sunday: “Robert Jeffress says ‘you can’t be saved by being a Jew’ and ‘Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell’. He has said the same about Islam. Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States embassy in Jerusalem.”

from the Guardian

curmudgeon, Monday, 14 May 2018 15:50 (one week ago) Permalink

x-post, for what it's worth , Juan Cole on Al-Sadr back in 2017

Inasmuch as he is a hard line Shiite and heads his own hard line militia, the “Peace Brigades,” he might not have come first to mind if you were thinking about Iraqis that the militantly fundamentalist Wahhabi monarchy in Saudi Arabia might invite to the kingdom.

In fact, despite his Shiite fundamentalism, al-Sadr is politically even-handed in ways that might appeal to Riyadh. Although Western analysts have repeatedly pegged him wrongly as a cat’s paw of Iran, in fact al-Sadr is an Iraqi nativist whose movement resents the influence of Iran on Iraqi Shiism.

Al-Sadr has all right relations with Iran and did flee there for studies in 2007 when Gen. David Petraeus tried to have him arrested as a sectarian religious leader responsible for deaths of Sunnis. But he has tended to maintain his independence from Tehran’s ayatollahs.

Al-Sadr opposes the tendency to see the Shiite militias in Iraq as a stand alone force, sort of a National Guard (a line pushed by Iran) and rather wants them absorbed into the regular army.

Al-Sadr opposes Iranian intervention in Syria (and, indeed, all foreign intervention in Syria, including that of Russia).

Last March, al-Sadr called for formal peace talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran, since those two countries are on all but a war footing. Al-Sadr argues that some face to face summits among leaders of the two countries could tamp down sectarian tensions and lead to a new era of good feeling in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia has lost its struggle with Iran over the past 15 years. Iraq went from a Saudi asset under Saddam Hussein to an Iranian asset after the Shiites won the parliamentary elections in 2005 and after.

curmudgeon, Monday, 14 May 2018 15:54 (one week ago) Permalink

52 dead, 2400 wounded. A great day.

Kanye O'er Frae France? (Tom D.), Monday, 14 May 2018 18:00 (one week ago) Permalink

Maybe they'll get a memorial plaque.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 14 May 2018 18:01 (one week ago) Permalink

made even more awful by how normalised it is. BDS seems somewhat dubious to me but I get the sense of helplessness that partly fuels it

ogmor, Monday, 14 May 2018 18:05 (one week ago) Permalink

52 dead, 2400 wounded. A great day.

― Kanye O'er Frae France? (Tom D.), Monday, May 14, 2018 11:00 AM (seven minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

and it's nakba day tomorrow and we can probably expect more of the same

( ͡☉ ͜ʖ ͡☉) (jim in vancouver), Monday, 14 May 2018 18:08 (one week ago) Permalink

To be fair though, they'll just be killing them tomorrow, not actually humiliating them first.

Kanye O'er Frae France? (Tom D.), Monday, 14 May 2018 18:21 (one week ago) Permalink

seems quiet today?

also, bump

sleeve, Tuesday, 15 May 2018 14:15 (one week ago) Permalink

Picking up from the other thread, what makes this situation particularly rife is essentially a state of mutual suicide. On one hand you've got a culture of martyrdom, both in terms of fundamentalism and righteous desperation, depending; obviously "suicide" has been weaponized in this region for a long time. On the other you've got Israel, whose very existence is sort of suicidal, given it exists in the midst of so many who want it gone. Which is ironic, of course, since people who wanted Jews gone is what lead to the creation of Israel. But that's what makes the situation so intractable: two sides in essence embracing different forms of catch-22 suicide/martyrdom predicated on their very existence. Israel's desire/right to exist is intrinsically suicidal. The other side's willingness to die (by suicide, murder, murder by cop, whatever) to achieve its goal is of course also self-defeating. It's so tragic and sad I can see why fundamentalist Christians put their faith in armageddon, which seems at least as plausible as peace.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 15 May 2018 14:17 (one week ago) Permalink

But if the protest is against the existence of a nation, I'm not sure how you are supposed to respond.

That is a _hell_ of a way to sweep aside Palestinians' concerns and justify killing a bunch of them in just a few words

― Simon H., Tuesday, May 15, 2018 2:15 PM (four minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

sorry, MENA thread, etc

― Simon H., Tuesday, May 15, 2018 2:18 PM (one minute ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Not at all. Most Palestinians have totally reasonable, justifiable concerns ... as do most Israelis. I just mean it's (the existence of Israel) without question a big part of the calculation on both sides (including external proxy forces like the US and Iran, et al.).

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 15 May 2018 14:19 (one week ago) Permalink

Dr. C, I think the shooting of the protesters is/was disgusting and unnecessary. But that type of shit has been going on for so long and is so unsurprising at this point in the broader micro/macro conflict that I can't see it as uniquely beyond the pale. Rockets, bus bombings, invasions, uprisings, murders, kidnappings, war, calls for peace, calls for violence, weapons from the west, weapons from the rest, tunnels, walls, fundamentalists ... it's a big cynical self-destructive pile of zero-sum/no-sum shit.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 15 May 2018 14:40 (one week ago) Permalink

it's a big cynical self-destructive pile of zero-sum/no-sum shit.

this is not a zero-sum game

obviously DLC (Karl Malone), Tuesday, 15 May 2018 14:43 (one week ago) Permalink

What does victory on either side look like? Two-state solution? Who in the world thinks that is feasible in practice? At best there'd be a neutral sort of shared state with armed oversight, and yeah, that's about as likely as armageddon at this point as well.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 15 May 2018 14:46 (one week ago) Permalink

If someone "wins," everyone loses. If no one "wins," everyone loses.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 15 May 2018 14:47 (one week ago) Permalink

JiC I can understand feeling from a distant enough zoom that it's all so exhausting and just washes together as an equal and opposite cycle of violence situation. i think the value of taking individual incidents seriously as case studies is to cut through that, to permit views of the actual mechanisms by which violence is perpetuated and viable paths forward are refused, and by which actors and in what ways. maybe that's why your post in the other thread rankled me - it felt like it wasn't really based in the circumstances of the embassy move which is what the protesters were protesting, and that (combined w maybe some other values/assumptions) led you to what struck me as a shocking declaration that if a protester can be interpreted as refusing the legitimacy of a state (btw: as regards the occupied territories, the majority of the planet agrees that israel is not the legitimate sovereign there) then what can the state really do but shoot to kill?

but I've been reading/typing all of my shit today on a phone with a hangover so my sincere apologies if I've misread you or committed the kind of rhetorical simplification i myself am griping about.

noel gallaghah's high flying burbbhrbhbbhbburbbb (Doctor Casino), Tuesday, 15 May 2018 14:49 (one week ago) Permalink

I certainly don't see Israel's desire/right to exist as suicidal. For a start, as sleepingbag so charmingly put it, they're always winning.

Kanye O'er Frae France? (Tom D.), Tuesday, 15 May 2018 14:51 (one week ago) Permalink

xpost No, I get that. Shooting protestors is absolutely inexcusable, but it's a state of constant violence, to degrees, that will always tip one way or the other, eventually.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 15 May 2018 14:54 (one week ago) Permalink

xpost That's what makes it such a catch-22. They're always "winning" because they can't lose. To lose means the end of Israel, which would be suicidal.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 15 May 2018 14:55 (one week ago) Permalink

that's how it looks to the israeli right wing, but there are other definitions of israel and other definitions of "winning" and "losing," yes?

noel gallaghah's high flying burbbhrbhbbhbburbbb (Doctor Casino), Tuesday, 15 May 2018 15:00 (one week ago) Permalink

I'd love to hear them. I mean, I think there should be two states, but the idea that that would be a solution I think is naive.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 15 May 2018 15:05 (one week ago) Permalink

I think the shooting of the protesters is/was disgusting and unnecessary. But

The first part is correct. the "But" wasn't needed here. To the extent that "both sides do it", that's a misleading dynamic you should be familiar with from the thread this conversation migrated from. The violence, human costs, and income discrepancy in this conflict have been completely lopsided.

the reason that people here react strongly against the "both sides" argument, yesterday and today, is that in the context of 50+ Palestinians getting murdered by the Israeli military, it comes across as a defense of Israel's massacre of protesters.

i do share your frustrations with the prospects of a peaceful solution in the near-future, but it wasn't that long ago that there were summits and cease fires and nobel peace prizes. it all fell apart, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. and i don't like the ramifications of believing that peace is impossible.

obviously DLC (Karl Malone), Tuesday, 15 May 2018 15:06 (one week ago) Permalink

When the conflict has been going on for literally thousands of years I am less hopeful than you are. And of course it is all tied into the Jewish identity of Israel itself, which I am usually pretty ambivalent about until, say, Iran's guy says a few days ago that the Jews brought the Holocaust on themselves, or just a few months ago Putin blames all sorts of problems on the Jews. It's all tied together in a muddle of history, anti-Semitism, religious fundamentalism, the whole shebang.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 15 May 2018 15:11 (one week ago) Permalink

The conflict hasn't been going on for literally thousands of years.

Kanye O'er Frae France? (Tom D.), Tuesday, 15 May 2018 15:19 (one week ago) Permalink

Conflict and war there in general.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 15 May 2018 15:21 (one week ago) Permalink

but... "the conflict has been going on for literally thousands of years" is a complete fabrication. as a trope it has had a shockingly long life but this has been debunked a billion times. the conflict has been going on since 1948. it entered a new phase in 1967. people are alive today who were alive when the conflict began going on. many still have the deeds to theirs or their parents' homes expropriated from them in 1948. this is not some ancient intractable force in the soil or in the blood, it's a political problem, perpetuated by political actions in the present. like moving the embassy for example - nothing eternal or thousands-of-years-y about that.

noel gallaghah's high flying burbbhrbhbbhbburbbb (Doctor Casino), Tuesday, 15 May 2018 15:22 (one week ago) Permalink

There's somewhere there hasn't there been war and conflict for thousands of years?

Kanye O'er Frae France? (Tom D.), Tuesday, 15 May 2018 15:23 (one week ago) Permalink

^ Yeah, was gonna say, that's everywhere!

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 15 May 2018 15:24 (one week ago) Permalink


xpoat No, i know. Obviously there was no israeli-palestinian conflict before there was an Israel. But forget for the moment the implication that the only way to end the conflict is to have no Israel again, that whole region has been a muddle of shifting occupation for centuries.

Anyway, not going to solve anything here, I'm going to Costco.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 15 May 2018 15:24 (one week ago) Permalink

LOL. If only it was as simple as going to Costco.

Kanye O'er Frae France? (Tom D.), Tuesday, 15 May 2018 15:25 (one week ago) Permalink

Have you ever been to Costco!?

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 15 May 2018 15:29 (one week ago) Permalink

the other thing is that the "thousands of years" trope, and/or the "it's always been shifting around, over there in that region" trope, implicitly adopts the zionist framework, where what's at stake is an ethnic-religious right to an ancient, immutable homeland, and that homeland's boundaries are exactly coterminous with the recognized boundaries of israel plus the territories occupied since 1967. what a coincidence! again, that's the metanarrative favored by a certain ideology and certain forces which have been dominant for a long time in israeli political culture and essentially since day one in israeli military culture (but certainly since ariel sharon's rise through the ranks).

but for palestinians displaced from their homes or living under occupation, the issue isn't necessarily a religious one at all (though certainly for many it can and has come to seem that way) and certainly not a thousands-of-years one. this is something that started happening to their parents or grandparents and continues to happen to them in the present day. for non-zionist jewish israeli citizens, it can also be something other than thousands-of-years: they, personally, were born there, this is the only home they've known, etc. these are difficult things to reconcile. it's implausible that a solution would leave every person completely satisfied. but we can confront that without throwing our hands up and declaring it's impossible to reconcile and that no solution is possible because man, they've always been fighting over there. the only actors who really need that to be true are extremist factions in israel and in palestine. when those extremists are in power it would be really helpful for the american government, as israel's most crucial supporter, to recognize these distinctions, but it all tends to get washed together and the U.S. media effectively cover for this by falling back on the thousand-year framework.

noel gallaghah's high flying burbbhrbhbbhbburbbb (Doctor Casino), Tuesday, 15 May 2018 15:36 (one week ago) Permalink


WATCH: "This is me being a moralist" - @esglaude, on Gaza #MTPDaily

— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) May 14, 2018

Simon H., Tuesday, 15 May 2018 15:51 (one week ago) Permalink

the shocked silence after he said that - that was gripping. i guess he felt the need to fill the space with something, but he didn't need to apologize for what he said.

obviously DLC (Karl Malone), Tuesday, 15 May 2018 15:59 (one week ago) Permalink

Nikki Haley just did her theatrical walk out when the Palestinian envoy to the UN started to speak.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Tuesday, 15 May 2018 17:33 (one week ago) Permalink

god she blows

obviously DLC (Karl Malone), Tuesday, 15 May 2018 17:35 (one week ago) Permalink

Hamas can turn anything into a weapon of terror.

— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) May 15, 2018

mookieproof, Tuesday, 15 May 2018 17:41 (one week ago) Permalink


Just allow them to have the same weapons you have and they wouldn't need to be this 'inventive'. Level playing field an' all.

lbi's life of limitless european glamour (Le Bateau Ivre), Tuesday, 15 May 2018 18:29 (one week ago) Permalink

worst game of Clue ever

the bhagwanadook (symsymsym), Wednesday, 16 May 2018 06:54 (one week ago) Permalink

A Canadian doctor in Gaza who was recently shot is active on Reddit and talking about the protests, the occupation, treating bullet wounds, and a lot more

Simon H., Wednesday, 16 May 2018 13:50 (one week ago) Permalink

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