Category Archives: Tunisia

The Old “Arab Israelis Have It So Good” Argument

Malla: Well, I did some research on this and it seems the Mizrahi had a more realistic opinion about Arabs and non Whites in general, while the Ashkenazim (and maybe Sephardics), especially during the early days of Israel, had a more idealistic opinion of the Third World. But the Mizrahi themselves are non-Whites. If Arabs and non-Whites then so are Mizrahis because Mizrahis are just Arabs. Besides, many Ashkenazis came with socialistic ideas of kibbutz farming and hippieness, while the Mizrahi were more realistic.

Check this interesting video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f80NnYflDU8

Check out the Ashkenazi/Mizrahi couple at 6:52. So it seems more Mizrahi (Middle Eastern Jews) are more right wing and support predatory violent behavior towards Arabs and Palestinians, while the Ashkenazis (Euro Jews) vote more left and are friendlier to Arabs (idealistic mindset). I do not know how the Sephardics and Ethiopians Jews vote.

Besides, Israel has a massive poverty rate, one of the highest in OECD countries. No wonder they get pissed by migrants from Africa taking way their jobs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SSd0rgTc1E

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPuQwFX2J2A

But Israel has an overall high standard of living. Arabs in Israel, in spite of whatever racism they face, have a higher standard of living and social freedoms than most other Arab countries. Only Tunisia and Christian-dominated Lebanon come close in social freedom, and the Gulf states are the only ones who have more income among Arabs.

This is similar to the case in Rhodesia and South Africa where the Blacks had a higher standard of living than Blacks in the rest of the African continent. Or Singapore, where the Indians and Malays have a higher standard of living than Malaysia and definitely (much, much, much) higher standard of living than India thanks to the huge Chinese population. Singapore’s quality of life is comparable to other Chinese majority developed places like Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. One may ask that if Anglo-Celts and other Northern Euros never came to Australia would such an Australia (Australia full of only aborigines) be so developed as it is today or it would be more like Papua New Guinea.

It’s pretty bad to compare the surrounding Arabs with New Guineans and Aborigines. The whole Arab World is built up to Hell. They’re all modern countries over there. I have seen photos of Libya before the war, and it looks like Miami. I saw a recent photo of Casablanca, and it looked like LA. I have seen photos of the rest of the region, even war-torn Syria and Iraq, and they look like regular modern countries. There’s not a lot of difference between in the ordinary street scene between Amman, Beirut, Damascus or even Cairo and Tel Aviv. It all looks the same, like any modern built-up country.

There is none of the horrible poverty you see in India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Latin America or Black Africa.

Arabs will not tolerate that sort of abject shantytown type poverty. They are basically socialist people who don’t care about money too much and believe that everyone should be well taken care of. Social safety nets are ordinary things in every Arab country. There’s no debate about this sort of thing. They are not individualists. They are collectivists. And they don’t think rich people are better than poor people. They are not particularly greedy, and they have a “We are all part of one village” mindset wherever they live.

Semi-feudalism came late to the Arab World via the Ottomans, and it never worked well. There were landed gentry and fellahin, or landless peasants. Nasser was the man who confiscated the land from the land barons and gave it to the landless peasants. If you went around the whole Arab World back then, even in say Yemen, there was a portrait of Nasser on every wall. Now in Western or Latin American culture, doing that is called Communism, and everyone hates it. But the Arabs love this sort of thing.

Baath nationalist parties came in in Syria and Iraq around 1960, a revolutionary socialist state arose in Libya in 1969, and another one was birthed in Algeria in 1964. Land was confiscated from feudal latifundiaists in all of these place and distributed to the peasants. The governments were all officially socialist, secularization was enforced even at gunpoint if it took that, huge safety nets were set up, and the state even got involved in quite a few of the larger industries and became a major employer. All of this was wildly popular all over the region.

US style radical individualism and Libertarian free market capitalism is totally anathema to all of those societies. For one thing, it goes against Islam, as Islam is a socialist religion. In feudal times, large Arab landowners enlisted the help of the local imams in interpreting parts of the Koran where it said, “Some are rich, and some are poor, and that’s all just fine” or something to that effect, but it never worked well. It ended up turning the local imams into hated figures like the priests of Catholic Church in the West and Latin America who always sided with the rich against the people.

So this whole idea that the Israeli Arabs have it good for having some extra money falls flat on Arab and even Arab Israeli ears. Standard of living is not number one on their list of the most important things in life.

If the Arabs are all so jealous of Israel, why are the non-oil Arabs are not jealous of the oil Arabs? Typical Jews to reduce everything down to money. Arabs don’t care that much about money. They don’t revolve their whole lives around money or sit around hating Jews for having more skyscrapers. That’s not important to your average Arab.

I have never in my life heard one Arab tell me they were jealous of Israel.

In Palestine, White European racist fascists invaded the region, started wars with everyone around them, and, being high IQ, produced a developed economy. So what? These jerks get brownie points because they are rich? I’m supposed to love them because they’re rich and hate those Arabs because they’re poor?

The commenter is an Indian, that’s why he thinks that way. We are socialists here; we don’t think like this. Actually I think the more money someone has, the worse of a person he tends to be, but that’s just me.

All of these arguments were used by the South Africans who practiced a very similar White settler-colonial project far after this stuff went out of style.

Arabs in Israel are not happy people. They’re angry, and they have no loyalty to the state at all. The Jewish fascists say the Arabs are traitors, and the Jews are actually correct on that score. Indeed they have no loyalty to the state and do not even see themselves as Israelis.

The similarities between Israel and apartheid South Africa are striking. It’s notable that Israel was long one of South Africa’s strongest allies, and towards the end, it was one of their only allies. Arab Israelis are are institutionally treated as second class citizens in exactly the same way the Blacks were under apartheid. 

Were those Blacks happier on their South African Nigger Plantation because they had a higher standard of living? They were not, but this was the argument that was used to show that they were happy Negroes toiling away cheerfully in the sun for their beloved White slavemasters. Similarly, South Africa moved into the neighborhood and in a matter of time, like Israel, it was soon also embroiled in wars with most if not all of its neighbors. Similarly, South Africa, like Israel, had zero friends in the region.

Blacks in South Africa and Arabs in Israel don’t want money and stuff. White Gentiles and Jews only care about money, and they don’t care about humans, so they think everyone else feels that way too. But they don’t. People want to be free, even if being free means not having as much stuff. Stuff doesn’t make people happy. You can keep giving your slave the latest gadgetry in his slave quarters, but he’s still not a free man.

Same with South Africa. Hey look, these White European racist fascists came in here and built up the region and made a big economy because they have higher IQ’s! So what. I am supposed to like them more because they are rich and hate those Africans because they are poor? I realize this is Indian thinking, but we socialists do not think that way.

Arabs have more political rights in all of the Arab World. In the Arab World, they are not systematically discriminated against due to their religion or ethnicity.

I would argue that those Arabs in Israel do not want all of those social freedoms. Freedom to do what?

And what social freedoms do they have there that they do not have in the rest of the region? How are the social freedoms of Arab Israeli Christians better than those of Arab Christians in Lebanon or Syria? Someone needs to clue me.

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Some Little-Known Truths about Arabs

Lin writes:

To Pranav:

…To me, (Sunni) Islam is basically an Arab/pan-Arab civilizational push, or it’s just a veneer over Arabized power. Let me recollect what I posted here before:

1) Arabic is said to be language of Paradise.

2) Arabs are said to be a superior race.

Superiority of the race of Arabs over non-Arabs

3) Though faggotry is condemned, large % of Arab/Muslims are closet fags as long as the closet is tightly shut and doesn’t embarrass the establishment.

4) The strictest sect of Islam, the Wahhabi Saudis, allied with the British and French kufirs during WW1 to topple the Ottoman Turk Caliphate, treason of the worst kind I must say, yet they consider themselves guardians of Islam. What a farce and shame.

I personally don’t think the Sunni Arabs have much of an economic future (Persians could be an exception that their Shiite Islam is more flexible, like they allowed sex change). I also foresee an Euro/Mediterranean Jihad One, after which the Middle East will be further fragmented…

Most of this is correct.

Sunni Islam is indeed an Arab or Pan-Arab civilizational project, and it is also a thin veneer over Arabized power. In addition, it is a vehicle for Arab supremacy.

1 is correct. They do speak Arabic in Paradise, and the only true Qurans are those written in Arabic, for God transmitted the Quran to Mohammad in Arabic. There are many translations of the Quran into all sorts of languages, but many Muslims consider them to be nearly illegitimate, as the only proper Quran is the one written in Arabic.

2 is also correct. If you go to Islamic sites on the web, you will see articles along the lines that Arabs are a superior to non-Arabs. No doubt all of these sites were written by Arabs, but nevertheless, Islam is a sort of an Arab Supremacist religion.

3 is true, but some Islamic countries tolerate it more than others.

4 is sadly true, and it is quite a blight on the Saudis’ claim to be the ultimate in hardline Islamists. Instead they seem traitors to the umma.

I personally don’t think the Sunni Arabs have much of an economic future (Persians could be an exception that their Shiite Islam is more flexible, like they allowed sex change).

I do not know what to say about this. The Sunni Arabs are definitely sitting on a lake of oil and gas that isn’t going away soon. Some of the Gulf countries have started to branch out away from an oil rentier economy. Dubai is now an international port city, one of the largest on Earth.

About the rest of the Sunni Arab states, I do not know what to say. Iraq, Syria, and Libya appear to be failed states right now, and Yemen is turning into one awful fast. There is some violence in Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan and Lebanon, but state structures appear to be largely intact. Palestine is a war zone and increasingly so is the Sinai.

Indeed the Shia do not appear to be going on jihad now or anytime soon. They do not believe in offensive jihad like the Sunnis do, and Shiism is quite a bit more progressive than Sunnism. Like Catholicism with its Pope, Shiism has its clergy. As the Pope and Vatican continue to update Catholicism to keep up with a changing world, the Ayatollahs and clergy in Lebanon and Iran do the same with Islam. The clergy in the latter two lands are surprisingly progressive, but those in Iraq, not so much. I know little about the Houthi Shia in Yemen.

The only people involved in the global jihad right now are radical Sunnis. The Shia, instead of being involved in this project, are victims of it, as global jihadists see the Shia as heretics to be killed on sight if not exterminated altogether. So the Shia, like the Arab Christians, are literally fighting for their lives against global jihad and are much more victimized by it than the Christian West is. Almost all terrorism in the world today is committed by Sunnis. In fact, the Shia are responsible for little terrorism outside of attacks on Israelis outside of Israel. There is some state terrorism being practiced by the Shia Iraqi state against Iraqi Sunnis.

I also foresee an Euro/Mediterranean Jihad One, after which the Middle East will be further fragmented…

I have no idea if this is going to occur, but it seems like it already is at a low to high variable level, right? Surely the Tunisian, Libyan, Egyptian, Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian parts of the Mediterranean are heating up, and a few are out and out jihad war zones right now. Turkey is increasingly starting to resemble the beginnings of a war zone. Terrorism in Europe is at a fairly low level, but the few attacks have been spectacular and there is a steady drumbeat of low level attacks happening in the background.

Comments along with your own predictions are welcomed.

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Tolerance for Male Homosexuality in the Muslim World

Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Gulf countries tolerate it well, and it is said to be epidemic in places like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. There is also quite of bit of it in Syria, Egypt and Morocco.

It is not tolerated at all in Iran, Iraq, or Shia Lebanon, as Shia Islam is much more condemning of male homosexuality than Sunni Islam.

It is not that Sunni Islam necessarily is more tolerant of male homosexuality but that there is more variation in the Sunni world.

Palestine is not tolerant of male homosexuality at all, as gay men are frequently killed there. They are also commonly killed in Iraq and Iran. Syria used to be relatively more tolerant, but the parts of Syria taken over Islamists are very intolerant of gay men to the point where they are murdering them.

I have no data on male homosexuality in Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Jordan or Sunni Lebanon.

I also know nothing about it in the Muslim Sahel, Horn of Africa and West Africa.

I know nothing about male homosexuality in Muslim Europe such as Bosnia and Albania, although I assume it is more tolerated there than elsewhere.

Turkey is a mixed bag, as there is said to be a lot of male homosexuality, but it is also officially not tolerated. Sort of a don’t ask, don’t tell thing.

I know nothing of male homosexuality in the Caucasus, Muslim Russia, the Stans, India and Xinjiang.

I do not know what it was like before, but a lot of gay men are being murdered now in Bangladesh. I think there have been 30-40 such murders in the past couple of years. Gay rights advocates rather than gay men in general have been targeted.

I also know nothing about male homosexuality in Muslim Thailand, Muslim Burma, Muslim Cambodia, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and the Southern Philippines. Male homosexuality is pretty well tolerated in Thailand and the Philippines, but I am not sure how ok it is in the Muslim parts of those nations.

Admittedly I am not the best person to ask about the situation for male homosexuality and gay men in the Muslim World.

Any further information would be interesting.

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Homosexuality in the Muslim World: An Overview

Looking at a video like that, one might get the impression that Muslims are routinely murdered in the Muslim World. Whether or not Muslims think that is what should be done or not, the death penalty for homosexuality is rarely carried out in the Muslim World, with some notable exceptions in the Levant and Mesopotamia, where the killings are extrajudicial murders and not state executions. These areas for whatever reason (probably cultural) have the worst homophobia and anti-gay violence in the Muslim World.

Even among radical Muslims like the Taliban in Afghanistan, sex with men and teenage boys is very common. Homosexuality is quite common in Pakistan, especially in the radicalized West, but no one does much about it. There have possibly been 5-6,000  executions of gay men in Iran, but the last hanging I saw was supposedly for two men who were convicted of raping teenage boys, not simple homosexuality.

In Iraq, things have been pretty bad for gays since 2001. Before 2001, Saddam did not care about them much one way or the other. The Shia militias have been murdering many gays, and ISIS of course also murders homosexuals.

Gays are killed in ISIS-controlled areas of Syria. Government persecution of gays by the Syrian state is off and on. Some gays are arrested and tortured or beaten by the state, but this is not common. In recent years, Syria has taken a hands off approach to homosexuals, sort of a see no evil, hear no evil/don’t ask, don’t tell approach. The state does not approve of gays, but they pretty much leave them alone recently. There is actually a gay hookup application being used by Syrian gays, and there are quite a few men on there. It would be trivial for the state to go after users of the app, but they have not done so. There are even 25 accounts in ISIS-controlled Raqqa!

I read an account by a gay man who went to Syria with his male lover ~15 years ago. They visited a coastal city, and the man said that he and his partner were propositioned everywhere – even by taxi drivers. They took a stroll along the beach and said that the social scene was all male, and a lot of the men seemed to be coming onto them. He described Syria as a gay paradise.

There are quite a few gays among Syrian refugees in Lebanon. They are ostracized from the rest of the refugee community and live in fear, residing communally with other gay men in crowded apartments in Beirut.

Homosexuality is rampant in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait at least. Traditionally not much has been done about it. A gay man took a trip to Kuwait recently and described it as a gay paradise. He met all sorts of Kuwaiti men who seemed to figure out he was gay via gaydar and propositioned him. He went to the beach at midnight and saw a number of gay couples having sex there by the moonlight.

There are even actual gay bars in Saudi Arabia, but they are not labeled as such. The authorities know what they are, but they don’t do anything. Also in Saudi Arabia men often walk around holding hands or with their arms around each other, so it’s easy for gay men to do this too and get away with it. A Kuwaiti friend of mine told, “All Saudi men are gay.” I asked her to elaborate and she said, “Well, at least 50%.” She also said that most of them were married, and the homosexuality was more properly seen as bisexuality. She also said it caused a lot of problems for married Saudi women who did not appreciate this behavior.

Ostentatious homosexuality is persecuted. A wedding party for two gay men was recently broken up by authorities. In addition, ~40 gay men have been arrested recently for crimes such as marrying other men, dressing like women in public and posting a gay flag on their balcony. The prosecutor has recommended the death penalty for all of these men. So you can see that Saudi Arabia has a don’t ask, don’t tell mindset about homosexuality.

Opportunistic lesbianism or bisexuality is very common among put-upon Saudi princesses or sheikhas. A lot of these women are miserable due to male chauvinism and try to allay their sorrows via pills, booze and lesbian affairs. Nothing is done to these women at all. There are separate boys and girls high schools, and there are problems with epidemic opportunistic lesbianism or bisexuality in girls’ schools. It is getting to be such a problem that it is interfering with girls’ education via problems like drama, breakdowns, crying and fights over lesbian romances.

It is very common for homosexuals to be killed in Palestine. Happens all the time. In fact, a number of Palestinian gay men have asked for and been given asylum in Israel on account of being gay.

Homosexuality goes on in Lebanon, and not much is done about it. However, in the South, Hezbollah has a tendency to beat up gay men if they hear about them, but they don’t kill them. There are occasional arrests and imprisonments. A woman was recently sentenced to one year in prison for lesbianism.

In Egypt, male homosexuality is very common from Cairo all the way down to the south. I read a blog post by a gay man who went there, and he was amazed at how much homosexuality there was. In the South, river boatmen on the Nile propositioned him. He also met a gay male couple in Egypt who lived together quietly. Nobody much cared. Most people seemed to know about it, but there was a don’t ask, don’t tell mindset going on.

However, the Egyptian state does not approve of ostentatious homosexuality. A raucous gay party on a large boat in the Nile was recently broken up by authorities. A number of the participants were sentenced to up to four years in prison. ~20% of young Egyptian men engage in opportunistic homosexuality, mostly because women are not available. Most of them play the male role and hence do not consider themselves gay. A few men play the female role and are labeled as gay.

All of the above is from the Mubarak era; I have no idea what things are like now.

I have no information about homosexuality in Libya, Tunisia or Algeria. However, homosexuality has traditionally been very common in Morocco. Western gay expats, including a number of men of letters such as William S. Burroughs and Paul Bowles, lived there for years. Bowles lived in Morocco for most of his life. Both men frequently had sex with gay teenage boys and young men in the cities. However, some of his neighbors found out about this behavior and got angry at Burroughs. I have read reports that said that ~20% of young single Moroccan men engage in opportunistic homosexuality which takes the same form as the Egyptian model above.

I have no information about homosexuality in Muslim Africa in the Sahel, the Horn or to the south.

Homosexuality is supposedly very common in Turkey. Western men sentenced to time in Turkish prisons have said things like, “All Turkish men are gay.” I doubt if that is accurate, but male homosexuality may be common there.

I have no information on homosexuality in Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo, the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Muslim Russia, Muslim Ukraine, the Stans or Xinjiang in China.

I also have no information on homosexuality in Muslim Burma, Muslim India, the Muslim South in Thailand, the Muslim South in the Philippines or Indonesia.

In addition, I have no information about homosexuality among Muslim communities in the West.

Any information on homosexuality in these Muslim nations and communities would be welcome.

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An Analysis of the Iraqi Resistance Part 5 –

I have decided to publish my most recent work, An Analysis of the Iraqi Resistance, on my blog. Previously, this piece was used for the research for “An Insiders Look at the Iraqi Resistance” a major piece that appeared on the Islamist website Jihadunspun.com (JUS got the copyright but I did the research). That long-running top-billed piece is now down, but it is still archived on Alexa here . Note that this material is copyrighted and all reproduction for profit is forbidden under copyright laws.

For information about reprinting or purchasing one-time rights to this work, email me. This article is an in-depth analysis of the Iraqi resistance and is continuously being revised. It is presently 58 pages long in total. It lists all known Iraqi resistance groups who have ever fought in Iraq since the fall of Baghdad until about 2005 and includes a brief description and analysis of each group. There are separate sections covering Size, Tendencies, Motivations, Structure, Foreign Assistance, Foreign Fighters, Regional Characteristics, Regions, Cities or Towns Controlled by the Resistance, Major Attacks and List of Groups by Tendency.

The article was intended to be a political science-type analysis of the Iraqi Resistance, and I tried not to take sides one way or the other. I used a tremendous amount of source material, mostly publicly available news reports from the Internet. Obviously, in an area like this you are dealing with a ton of disinformation along with the real deal, so I spent a lot of time trying to sort out the disinfo from the relative truth.

The problem is that one cannot simply discount sources of information such as Israeli and US intelligence, US military reports, reporting from the resistance itself, Islamist websites, etc. Of course these sources are loaded with disinfo and false analysis, but they also tend to have a lot of truth mixed in as well. In writing a piece like this, you pull together all the sources and get sort of a “Gestalt” view of the situation. When you examine all the sources at once in toto, you can kind of sort out the disinfo from the more factual material. Admittedly it’s a hit or miss game, but that’s about as good as we can do source-wise in the inherently hazy subject area of an underground guerrilla war.

Interviews with resistance cadre by the mainstream Western media were given particular prominence in this piece.

FOREIGN FIGHTERS

Foreign Fighters: In Summer 2003, there were some reports that Syrians were said to often outnumber locals in those carrying out attacks in various locales, including Fallujah, Ramadi, Baghdad, Baqubah, Balad, Tikrit and Mosul. However, these reports are contradicted by reports in 11-03 indicating most fighters in most parts of Iraq have been Iraqis. Most of the foreign fighters in the post-major combat phase (after 5-1-03) have been Syrians and Lebanese, and many of the rest are Jordanians, Yemenis, Palestinians, Kuwaitis, Saudis and North Africans – often Egyptians and Algerians.

In 12-03, Syrians were still fairly common amongst fighters in Husaybah, near the Syrian border. After the major battle in Fallujah from April-May 04, a group of 50-100 largely Syrian Sunni extreme fundamentalist fighters seemed to have control over part of Fallujah’s Jolan District.

Many of these could better be described as Arab nationalists than Islamists, and a number of them were not even particularly religious. Dozens of Arab fighters have come from France and hundreds from Europe. In addition to the nations above, others came from Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Bangladesh, Qatar, Sudan, Somalia, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. Saudi dissident leaders stated that 5,000 Saudi jihadis were present in Baghdad alone in 11-03. US intelligence believed there were up to 15,000 Saudis alone in Iraq in 9-03. Saudis reportedly played a role in the suicide bombings of the ICRC and Baghdad Hotel.

A Palestinian, born in Iraq, a resident of the Al Jihad neighborhood of Baghdad, carried out the suicide car bomb attack on the upscale restaurant in the Karrada District of Baghdad on New Year’s Eve, 2003. In 11-03, the Jordanian and US governments said that they had identified at least 120 Jordanians in the Sunni Triangle fighting US forces. There were reports from Israeli intelligence that 100’s of Kuwaiti (anti-Kuwaiti regime) Islamists were heading into Iraq in 11-03. These reports were verified by Iraqi sources with AQ connections and former Iraqi military officers in Basra, who said AQ was using the Safwan Crossing because it was the easiest one to get across.

Other areas on the Kuwait-Iraq border were also being used. Before the war, the Kuwait-Iraq border was protected by an extensive fence built by the Kuwaitis. During the 2003 US invasion, US forces smashed through the wall in 9 places. In these 9 locations, crossing the border into Iraq is a simple, low-risk stroll.

These sources also said that AQ was also using the wide-open Saudi-Iraqi border. The porous Saudi-Iraq border has no fences at all and there are many Bedouin guides in that area who will ferry anyone across the border, no questions asked, for only $200. After crossing into Iraq from Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, AQ jihadis usually headed to Zubayr or Abu Al-Khasib, towns south of Basra with a substantial Sunni population.

Zubayr in particular was a popular destination due to a high concentration of Sunni Islamists. According to US and Israeli intelligence, Iran filtered in about 11,000-12,000 Iranian fighters to the Shia South, mostly Revolutionary Guards, during the Karbala pilgrimage in Spring 2003. However, this group has so far, for the most part, merely been working to gain influence in the region peacefully, at least for now. They have been involved in only a very few armed actions. They may be stockpiling arms in the South, along with other Iraqi Shia armed groupings, in case they need them later. A number of Iranian fighters have been captured in the guerrilla war phase. Their ideology and political affiliation are unknown.

However, one of the suicide attackers in the 12-11 bombing of the US base in Ramadi caused 15 US casualties was a Lebanese Palestinian member of Hezbollah splinter faction. In 2-04, Iraqi puppet authorities said that about 500 Hezbollah had come into Iraq in 2003, almost all going to the South, but for the most part they were just engaging in political work and not armed activity. However, the source also said that “scores” of Hezbollah had come to Iraq since mid-December. These Hezbollah were heading to northern Iraq to work with AAI. Hezbollah operatives were said to be providing training and guidance to AAI members; few had participated in attacks.

Sources in Pakistan claim that the Taliban, al-Qaeda (International Islamic Front), Hezb-e-Islami, and HUM (Pakistani Kashmiri fighters) all sent fighters to Iraq, with most of them coming after major combat ended. Two Taliban guerrilas were apprehended in 9-03 coming over the Iranian border into Iraq northeast of Khanaquin through the Kurdish mountains. Another Afghan was caught trying to plant a roadside bomb near the Dura Power Plant in Baghdad in 2-04.

By 1-04, indigenous Iraqi groups were employing smugglers to ferry foreign fighters across the Jordanian, Syrian and Saudi Arabian borders into Iraq. Once inside Iraq, foreign fighters are often transported to Ramadi or Fallujah, 2 of the hubs of the foreign fighter network in Iraq. A 3-29-04 interview with a Blackwater USA (the mercenary firm that lost 4 employees in the famous mutilation-burning attack in Fallujah 2 days later) mercenary based near Fallujah said that many of the attacks around Fallujah had turned out to be Jordanians, Syrians, Iranians, and Chechens.
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Foreign Fighters During And Before Major Combat (March 19-May 1): Many foreign fighters came before and during major combat. An attempt was made to put them under central command towards the end of major combat. By the fall of Baghdad, the central command of the Arab mujahedin stated there were 8,000 foreign fighters in Baghdad alone. They took heavy casualties in the fighting, and many just went home after Baghdad fell. But in the postwar phase, they seem to be coming in again.

A large number of Palestinians came during major combat, about 1,500-2,000 (according to sources in the camp below) or 4,000+ (according to Newsweek), mostly from a splinter Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades faction aligned with Syria and located in the Ein Al Hilweh Refugee Camp in southern Lebanon. The leader of this faction is reportedly named Colonel Munir Maqdah. About 30-40 more Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades fighters came from just one town in the West Bank. Hamas and Islamic Jihad each sent factions of ~300 fighters. Islamic Jihad’s fighters came through Lebanon.

Fighters from Romania (Communists) and Vietnam (Communists), Indonesia (Islamists), Russia (mixed ideology – Communists, nationalists, Islamists), Dagestan (8,000 Islamists) and Malaysia (Islamists) reportedly announced plans to go fight in Iraq during the major combat phase, but none of them seem to have made it. Hezbollah sent about ~800 fighters, and they continued to trickle in long after major combat ended.

One source claimed that Lashkar-E-Toiba (LET), a Pakistani/Kashmiri group active in Kashmir, participated in the major combat phase. LET cadre in Saudi Arabia (LET purportedly maintains a Saudi presence) claim the group sent a number of fighters, possibly 100-200, during the major combat phase, and suffered casualties.
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Al Qaeda (AQ) Foreign Fighters: AQ has had an open presence in Iraq only recently. In the couple months before the war, when conflict seemed inevitable, small groupings of AQ were allowed by the Iraqi state to form cells in Baghdad, but told to stay clear of Saddam’s regime. They were allowed in on the basis that war seemed inevitable and anyone who wanted to fight the Americans was basically welcome. This group numbered only 30-40. They fought during the war and remained afterwards, when they were apparently reinforced by others. Many of the AQ who came to Iraq during and after major combat may have come in via Iran, either across the border east of Baghdad, or to the north through the Kurdish areas.

A few others supposedly came across the Turkish border into the Kurdish zone. Some may have crossed the Saudi and more recently the Kuwaiti borders. Few, if any, appear to have crossed the Syrian or Jordanian borders. The number of AQ currently in Iraq is very controversial, with estimates ranging from 300-15,000+. AQ sources in Iraq said there were 4,500 foreign jihadis in Iraq in 11-03, most of them from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen and the other Gulf countries. It seems certain that there were at least 100’s of AQ fighters in Iraq as of 12-03. In a 12-03 interview, MA cadre said there were at least 150 AQ in Iraq, with almost of them coming after the fall of Baghdad.

They moved around the country regularly. “One or two” of them might participate in an operation with a local resistance group before moving on to another part of Iraq. MA cadre acknowledged that “1 or 2” AQ cadre had participated in “a few” MA attacks before moving on. In 12-03, sources in Pakistan said that AQ was pulling out 1/3 of its 1,000-man force out of Afghanistan and directing them to Iraq. That would mean ~350 more AQ heading to Iraq. The whole question of AQ’s role in the Iraq War or the guerrila war that followed is poorly understood, probably due to the shadowy nature of the group.

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Manufacturing Consent: What Good Is Freedom If No One Uses It?

SHI writes:

You do realize that Russia isn’t free in any sense of the word. That makes any comparison with the current situation in the West totally pointless.

Maybe the Russians have always preferred it that way but for last three centuries, that entire expanse of land called Russia has settled for nothing but one strongman dictator after another. From the autocratic Tsars to tyrannical leaders like Stalin, Khrushchev and Putin now, if you’re a child growing up in Russia, you have not known freedom the way a Western child does. There are exceptions though, Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin broke away from Russian iron man traditions and tried to be benign leaders but their short-lived experiments failed.

There is no disputing the fact that Vlad the Putin is the biggest autocratic tyrant at the moment, not very different from Gaddafi, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, Assad or Pinochet. This man oppresses his own people. Given a choice, most Russians would want to escape their country but they can’t as the State still puts a restriction on emigration. If you were born in Russia, you simply can’t defect to another country unless you’re married to a person over there. That is why the Russian mail order bride business has always been booming.

Why do you think the Polish, Lithuanian, Romanian and Hungarian people like to distance themselves so much from Russia? Not only are their countries most active NATO members but the people themselves are anti-Russia. Why do you think Ukrainians want to escape the shadow of Russia to merge with Western Europe and the Schengen region? While Britain can’t wait to escape from EU as the overall sentiment over there favors Brexit, the former countries of the Soviet Bloc can’t wait to join the Western Hemisphere.

Thing is, people in the West take their freedoms for granted. They simply have no concept of what it feels like to raise your child in a tyrannical, dictatorial regime. There are things like internet censorship, forced incarcerations and murders that you take as “normal”.

Maybe the recent US elections seem like a complete joke when you find that your Final 2 happen to be Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. But that’s a problem that can be fixed within four years. If you were born in Russia, you don’t have that choice in the first place. You have to put up with your autocratic government day in and day out. And so will your children.

It might sound cliched but the US is indeed a free society. Just check the annual rankings of Freedom House. There are other freedom indices including the UK-based Democracy index, Canada-based Fraser Institute’s “Index of Freedom in the World” and Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters without Borders. Countries like China, Russia and Islamic countries are consistently scoring “not free” in every independent assessment each year the rankings are prepared. Just check this year’s Freedom House map, no one really emigrates to any country that isn’t marked “blue”.

Let us take this apart one by one.

You do realize that Russia isn’t free in any sense of the word. That makes any comparison with the current situation in the West totally pointless.

Russia is far freer than we are. There is a huge dissident media, mostly funded by the West. There are large dissident websites that are very popular, and there are a number of dissident newspapers, radio stations and even TV from outside. You can buy dissident newspapers anywhere you want in Moscow. Dissidents are quoted every single day in the Russian media.

How many large dissident websites do we have? How many dissident newspapers are there in the US? How many dissident newsmagazines? How many dissident radio stations? One, Pacifica, and no one listens to it. How frequently are dissidents quoted in the US media. Never.

Maybe the Russians have always preferred it that way but for last three centuries, that entire expanse of land called Russia has settled for nothing but one strongman dictator after another.

Yes, they like it that way.

From the autocratic Tsars to tyrannical leaders like Stalin, Khrushchev and Putin now, if you’re a child growing up in Russia, you have not known freedom the way a Western child does.

It is far freer under Putin than it ever was under Communism.

There are exceptions though, Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin broke away from Russian iron man traditions and tried to be benign leaders but their short-lived experiments failed.

Yeltsin looted the country. The Communist Parliament was blocking all of his free market reforms, so he dissolved Parliament by decree and when they refused to accept his decree, he called out and the military and he attacked his own Parliament with tanks and guns. 600 people died, including a lot of legislators. That would be like Obama calling out the US military to open fire with tanks and guns on Congress and killing a bunch of Congressmen. Hell, even Putin hasn’t done that.

The US media cheered wildly. Not one single outlet failed to cheer. They had an election and the West sent over moneybags guys with literal suitcases full of illegal money for the campaign. These guys were photographed walking down the street carrying literal boxes of money. They flooded the campaign with illegal money and he won. 100% of the US media cheered for this. Yeltsin sold out the country to the US. He sold the whole place for 10 cents on the dollar to a bunch of Jews in the UK, the US and Israel and bankers in the US, UK and Frankfurt. They looted the whole country bare until there was nothing left to steal. Why do you think Putin came in. The Yeltsin supporters now have 1% support in the population.

87% of the population loves Putin. The opposition is miniscule.

Yeltsin was NOT a Democrat. He was way worse than Putin. Things are much freer under Putin than they were under Yeltsin.

There is no disputing the fact that Vlad the Putin is the biggest autocratic tyrant at the moment, not very different from Gaddafi, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, Assad or Pinochet.

Those are actual dictatorships. And they also killed a lot of people. Putin has hardly killed anyone. Putin does not have a dictatorship. There are free elections, however most media is state media, and the state media is biased for Putin, but how is this different from the West? Putin wins all the elections because the dissidents are all seen as traitors.

This man oppresses his own people.

How can you oppress people with 87% support?

Given a choice, most Russians would want to escape their country but they can’t as the State still puts a restriction on emigration.

My understanding is that you can walk out of that place anytime you wish. Anyone can leave, it’s just that most do not want to. If 87% support the President, why would they all want to leave?

Why do you think the Polish, Lithuanian, Romanian and Hungarian people like to distance themselves so much from Russia?

Because they were formerly under the thumb of the USSR which more or less forced Communism on them. They got rid of Communism, and they have been mad at Russia ever since, although the Hungarian leader is pretty pro-Russian. They’re all just drinking the Koolaid.

Of those countries listed, only Poland and Lithuania are Russia-haters, and the Lithuanians are Nazis. They have statues of Nazis up all over the country. All of their big heroes are Nazis.

The Poles are simply insane. They hate Russia far more than they hate Nazis. The Nazis war on Poland killed 10 million Poles. The Soviets killed 275,000 Poles. So the Poles hate Russians. The Poles are insane.

Not only are their countries most active NATO members but the people themselves are anti-Russia.

Everyone in the West is anti-Russia because of the brainwash. There is not one single dissident pro-Russia media outlet anywhere in the West. With anti-Russian propaganda on every media outlet, how do you expect people to think?

However, most Hungarians are particularly anti-Russia because they elected a pro-Russian leader. Most Romanians don’t care about Russia.

Why do you think Ukrainians want to escape the shadow of Russia to merge with Western Europe and the Schengen region?

Because they hate Russia.

But they didn’t even want to join the EU. The EU supporters never had more than 35%. Ukraine was split between pro-EU and pro-Russia factions until the Nazi coup. After the coup, all of the pro-Russian parties were outlawed and a number of their legislators were murdered. The leader of the biggest pro-Russia party, the Party of Regions, fled to Russia after the regime tried to kill him by setting his house on fire, but they set his neighbor’s house on fire instead. Before the coup, the country was badly split between pro-Russian and pro-EU factions.

The Ukies think they will join the EU and get rich. But they are poor because all of their leaders have been stealing from them since Independence, not because they are close to Russia. They won’t get rich by joining the EU.

While Britain can’t wait to escape from EU as the overall sentiment over there favors Brexit, the former countries of the Soviet Bloc can’t wait to join the Western Hemisphere.

They’ve all already joined, not that it’s done them much good. The Greeks want out too.

Thing is, people in the West take their freedoms for granted.

What freedoms? If you have no dissident press, you have no free press. If you have no dissident press, you have no freedom of speech. If you have no dissident politicians, you do not have a free politics. Russians are far freer than any Western country.

They simply have no concept of what it feels like to raise your child in a tyrannical, dictatorial regime.

Yes but that’s not Putin.

There are things like internet censorship, forced incarcerations and murders that you take as “normal”.

There is no Internet censorship in Russia. The Russian-language web is flooded with dissident sites, all paid for by the West.

Hardly any dissidents go to jail in Russia. They might arrest a few from time to time, but dissidents are quoted in the Russian media every single day. Most of them are free to yap along all they wish.

Yes, there have been a few killings of dissidents, but Putin was not involved in the most recent notorious one outside the Kremlin. There have been a few killings of journalists, but there were many more killings of dissidents under Yeltsin than under Putin. Yeltsin had many of his opponents killed.

Maybe the recent US elections seem like a complete joke when you find that your Final 2 happen to be Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. But that’s a problem that can be fixed within four years.

No dissident politician ever runs in the US, or at least one never gets very far. Trump is very interesting in that he is an actual US dissident politician who has made it into the final round. I cannot remember the last time that happened, but it was probably Kennedy, and he was murdered by the Deep State who run the US. See what happens to dissident politicians in the US? See what happens when the American people elect a dissident? The Deep State kills them. That’s why few politicians go against the Deep State and the System because they are afraid of getting the “Kennedy treatment.”

If you were born in Russia, you don’t have that choice in the first place.

Actually elections in Russia are quite fair other than the media issues. The worst dissidents you could possibly imagine run against Putin. I mean almost out and out traitors. We never have any dissidents like that running for President. Putin wins overwhelmingly because the population thinks the Opposition are traitors.

You have to put up with your autocratic government day in and day out. And so will your children.

Sure, but this is how they like it. I know Russians, and they tell me they are fine with the system.

It might sound cliched but the US is indeed a free society.

It isn’t. There is no dissident press, so there’s no freedom of the press. Because there’s no free press, there’s no freedom of speech. There are no or almost no dissident politicians, so we don’t have free politics, although Trump is changing that.

Just check the annual rankings of Freedom House.

You realize that Freedom House is run by the reactionary Reaganite Republican nuts, and their joke indexes are worthless, right?

There are other freedom indices including the UK-based Democracy index, Canada-based Fraser Institute’s “Index of Freedom in the World” and Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters without Borders.

Like I said, what good is some abstract freedom of press if you have no dissident media? What good is freedom of the press if there is no dissident media to voice it in? What good is free politics if there are few if any dissident politicians? You might as well be living in a dictatorship. Freedoms are no good if you can’t use them or if nobody ever uses them. When everyone goes along with the program automatically, you’re no different than North Korea.

Countries like China, Russia and Islamic countries are consistently scoring “not free” in every independent assessment each year the rankings are prepared.

I would agree that China is not free, however, there are many political protests. There are 100 political protests every single day in China. The authorities just let almost all of them go on, and they don’t do anything about it. There is no free press though, I agree.

Islamic countries are not free because they can’t handle freedom, and they do better under dictatorships. Look what happens when they try to do democracy in the Arab World. It doesn’t work. Malaysia is a pretty free country, and Pakistan does have dissident political parties that regularly get 15% of the vote. There is a large dissident political party in Turkey, though they are under siege. Lebanon is a free country, as is Tunisia. Algeria is free.

Yemen is such a free country that a dissident movement just overthrew the government by force! You can’t get much freer than that. In Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, dissidents are armed to the teeth and are threatening to overthrow the government. You can’t get much freer than that in a sense anyway! The Iraqi Parliament is split; Sadr’s party and the Sunni parties are very much dissident parties.

Just check this year’s Freedom House map, no one really emigrates to any country that isn’t marked “blue”.

This is not true. There is a lot of immigration to China from all over the world. There is also a lot of immigration to Russia from Ukraine and the former Soviet states to the south and east. Under Ghaddafi there was huge immigration from Sub-Saharan Africa. Egypt was the same – mass immigration from Black Africa to Egypt. There is huge immigration to the Gulf nations from all over the world to work. Before the crash, many Colombians had immigrated to Venezuela for a better life. There is huge immigration of Central Americans to Mexico.

Just check this year’s Freedom House map, no one really emigrates to any country that isn’t marked “blue”.

That map must be some sort of a joke. Venezuela is the freest country in Latin America. The opposition has many media unbelievably outlets, and they all resemble Fox News X10. They tell constant lies, and they have regularly called for assassinating the President. They continue to do so now, and now all of the Opposition press is agitating for a coup. Could you imagine if the US had huge media outlets that told the most vicious lies on a regular basis and regularly called for the assassination of Obama, and now were screaming for the US military to stage a military coup and overthrow Obama to put in a military dictatorship? Venezuela is a 10X freer than the US.

The Opposition has taken over Congress and stages constant demonstrations/riots in the streets. And recently the Opposition is armed and has started assassinating government officials.

Venezuela has the fairest elections on Earth.

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“Problems” and “Solutions”

Discuss Severaid’s quote and my examples given below, agreeing, disagreeing or expanding on the notion.

The chief cause of problems is solutions

– Eric Sevareid

I think this guy is onto something.

Examples:

War on Terror – Solution was all out war on “terrorism” – really just disobedient Muslim states and some international guerrilla/terrorist groups.

The “solution” did not solve the problem at all, and in fact it made it much worse and introduced quite a few new problems.

The “solution” to the “Muslim terrorism problem” did nothing to alleviate the problem, and the problem only expanded massively, in the process destroying much of the secular Muslim world and replacing it with ultra-radical, armed and ultraviolent fundamentalists. Several new failed states were created out of functioning but authoritarian secular regimes.

A wild Sunni-Shia war took off with no end in sight. A new Saudi-Iran conflict expanded to include all of the Sunni world against Iran and some Shia groups.

The policy was incoherent – in places (Palestine, Iraq, Syria, and Libya) secular nationalists were overthrown and replaced with radical fundamentalist regimes (Iraq, Palestine) or failed states teeming with armed fundamentalist actors (Yemen, Somalia, Palestine, Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Mali). In other places, fundamentalist regimes were overthrown and secular nationalists were put in (Egypt).

We alternately attacked and supported radical groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS. An awful Russia-Turkey conflict took off on the Middle east with the US and NATO siding with Al Qaeda and ISIS supporting Turks. The US attacked and armed fundamentalists to attack Shia Iranian, Hezbollah and Houthi armies waging all out war on Al Qaeda and ISIS. In Yemen we actively attacked the Shia who were fighting Al Qaeda while supporting Al Qaeda and fundamentalist Sunnis with intel and weaponry.

Some Kurds were called terrorists and support was given to those attacking them. Other Kurds were supported in their fight against ISIS. In actuality, all of these Kurd represented the same entity. There really is no difference between the PKK, the YPG and the rulers of the Kurdish region. Meanwhile, Kurds fighting for independence were supported in Iran and Syria and attacked in Turkey though they were all the same entity.

Billions of US dollars and thousands of US lives were wasted for essentially no reason with no results or actually a worsened situation. Russia, one of the most effective actors in the war against Al Qaeda and ISIS, was declared an enemy and attacks on them by our allies were cheered on.

A horrible refugee crisis was created in Europe.

Muslim populations in the West were substantially radicalized.

Instead of ending Islamic terrorism, Islamic terrorist, conventional and guerrilla attacks absolutely exploded in the Middle East and to a lesser extent in Europe, Canada, Australia and the US. It also exploded in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon, Thailand, the Philippines and of course Syria and Iraq. There was considerable fighting and terrorism in Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Morocco and Jordan. The Palestinians ended up much better armed than before and the conflict exploded into all out war on a few occasions.

Terrorism and guerrilla war exploded in Mali, Nigeria, Cameroon, Somalia and Kenya with some new attacks in Niger, Mauritania, Chad and Uganda. Somalia took a turn for the worse as a huge Al Qaeda force set up shop there and the country turned into the worst failed state ever with nothing even resembling a state left and the nation furthermore split off into three separate de facto nations.

The “solution” failed completely and simply ended up creating a whole new set of problems that were vastly worse than the original problem for the which the solution was directed.

Technology: Technology itself could be regarded as a lousy fix to many problems.

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Slavery in the Muslim World: The Tradition Is Not Yet Dead

From here.

Bottom line is, yes, slavery has been present in the Islamic World from Day One. In fact, one can make a case that slavery was an inherent and even emblematic aspect of Islam since its inception. It only left the Muslim World due to pressure from the West when the West emancipated its own slaves in the late 1800’s. Officially, most of the Muslim World dumped theirs. Yet the practice continued. Saudi Arabia only outlawed slavery in 1962. An advertisement for a castrated Black slave for sale recently appeared in a Saudi publication. Mauritania only outlawed slavery a few years ago, and the ban is hardly enforced.

As societies collapsed, the peculiar institution experienced a recrudescence. Libyan ports now export many slaves destined for Europe. Syrian teenage girls in Jordanian refugee camps are trafficked to brothels in Amman and sold to visiting Gulf men for $140-175 for a “temporary marriage.” In Northern Nigeria, even before Boko Haram kidnapped scores of teenage Christian girls, Muslim men had been importing concubine slave girls from the north to serve as “fifth wives.” The abuse and rape of female domestics in the Gulf who are little more than slaves of their owners has been documented for years.

Worst of all is the migrant labor scam that the Gulf states have been running for decades involving workers from South Asia, especially Pakistan and India,  and Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines. For all intents and purposes, work which is tied to contracts with the employer is little more than slavery, let’s face it. Gulf employers of these men have referred to them as slaves. They are housed in the most miserable conditions in a very wealthy country and worked to exhaustion and sometimes to death in ferocious heat with little protection or rest. A number of deaths have occurred to poor working conditions. Some poor countries to the east have forbidden their workers from going to the Gulf to work. There has been a bit of a crackdown, but it was mostly fake. Kuwait gave its “slaves” rights recently, but the Emir has not yet signed the bill. Qatar is worried about its reputation as the Olympics are coming soon, but its response instead of cleaning up its act has been to cover the whole mess up and beat up and detain the protesters. Any progress elsewhere in the Gulf has been frozen in recent years. Instead we get the predictable fake backlash whereby the Gulf states say that critics of their Slave System are “Islamophobes.”

The progress for serious progressive change for alleviating remaining vestiges of slavery in the Arab World seem dim at the moment as the region undergoes a retrenchment, a backlash and a hardening of reaction.

The link between Islam and slavery goes back from the start, so ISIS is not doing anything new. The fact that the formal Muslim states of the world continue to refuse to clean up their mess is most discouraging, but it too may be blamed on tradition.

“Spoils of war,” snaps Dabiq, the English-language journal of Islamic State (IS). The reference is to thousands of Yazidi women the group forced into sex slavery after taking their mountain, Sinjar, in August last year. Far from being a perversion, it claims that forced concubinage is a religious practice sanctified by the Koran.

In a chapter called Women, the Koran sanctions the marriage of up to four wives, or “those that your right hands possess”. Literalists, like those behind the Dabiq article, have interpreted these words as meaning “captured in battle”.

Its purported female author, Umm Sumayyah, celebrated the revival of Islam’s slave-markets and even proffered the hope that Michelle Obama, the wife of America’s president, might soon be sold there. “I and those with me at home prostrated to Allah in gratitude on the day the first slave-girl entered our home,” she wrote. Sympathizers have done the same, most notably the allied Nigerian militant group, Boko Haram, which last year kidnapped an entire girls’ school in Chibok.

Religious preachers have responded with a chorus of protests. “The re-introduction of slavery is forbidden in Islam. It was abolished by universal consensus,” declared an open letter sent by 140 Muslim scholars to IS’s “caliph”, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, earlier this year. “You have taken women as concubines and thus revived…corruption and lewdness on the earth.”

But while IS’s embrace of outright slavery has been singled out for censure, religious and political leaders have been more circumspect about other “slave-like” conditions prevalent across the region. IS’s targeting of an entire sect for kidnapping, killing and sex trafficking, and its bragging, are exceptional; forced labor for sexual and other forms of exploitation is not.

From Morocco, where thousands of children work as petites bonnes, or maids, to the Syrian refugee camps in Jordan where girls are forced into prostitution, to the unsanctioned rape and abuse of domestics in the Gulf, aid workers say servitude is rife.

Scholars are sharply divided over how much cultural mores are to blame. Apologists say that, in a concession to the age, the Prophet Muhammad tolerated slavery, but—according to a prominent American theologian trained in Salafi seminaries, Yasir Qadhi—he did so grudgingly and advocated abolition.

Repeatedly in the Koran the Prophet calls for the manumission of slaves and release of captives, seeking to alleviate the slave systems run by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Jewish Himyarite kings of Yemen. He freed one slave, a chief’s daughter, by marrying her, and chose Bilal, another slave he had freed, to recite the first call to prayer after his conquest of Mecca. His message was liberation from worldly oppression, says Mr Qadhi  – enslavement to God, not man.

Other scholars insist, however, that IS’s treatment of Yazidis adheres to Islamic tradition. “They are in full compliance with Koranic understanding in its early stages,” says Professor Ehud Toledano, a leading authority on Islamic slavery at Tel Aviv University. Moreover, “what the Prophet has permitted, Muslims cannot forbid.”

The Prophet’s calls to release slaves only spurred a search for fresh stock as the new empire spread, driven by commerce, from sub-Saharan Africa to the Persian Gulf.

To quash a black revolt in the salt mines of southern Iraq, the Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad conscripted Turkish slaves into their army. Within a few generations these formed a power base, and from 1250 to 1517 an entire slave caste, the Mamluks (Arabic for “chattel”), ruled Egypt.

A path to power

Their successors, the Ottoman Turks, perfected the system. After conquering south-eastern Europe in the late 14th century, they imposed the devshirme, or tribute, enslaving the children of the rural poor, on the basis that they were more pagan than Christian, and therefore not subject to the protections Islam gave to People of the Book. Far from resisting this, many parents were happy to deliver their offspring into the white slave elite that ran the empire.

Under this system, enslaved boys climbed the ranks of the army and civil service. Girls entered the harem as concubines to bear sultans. All anticipated, and often earned, power and wealth. Unlike the feudal system of Christian Europe, this one was meritocratic and generated a diverse gene pool. Mehmet II, perhaps the greatest of the Ottoman sultans, who ruled in the 15th century, had the fair skin of his mother, a slave girl from the empire’s north-western reaches.

All this ended because of abolition in the West. After severing the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the 19th century, Western abolitionists turned on the Islamic world’s, and within decades had brought down a system that had administered not just the Ottoman empire but the Sherifian empire of Morocco, the Sultanate of Oman with its colonies on the Swahili-speaking coast and West Africa’s Sokoto Caliphate.

With Western encouragement, Serb and Greek rebels sloughed off devshirme. Fearful of French ambitions, the mufti of Tunis wooed the British by closing his slave-markets in 1846. A few years later, the sultan in Istanbul followed suit.

Some tried to resist, including Morocco’s sultan and the cotton merchants of Egypt, who had imported African slaves to make up the shortages left by the ravages of America’s civil war. But colonial pressure proved unstoppable. Under Britain’s consul-general, Evelyn Baring, Earl of Cromer, Egypt’s legislative assembly dutifully abolished slavery at the end of the 19th century. The Ottoman register for 1906 still lists 194 eunuchs and 500 women in the imperial harem, but two years later they were gone.

For almost a century the Middle East, on paper at least, was free of slaves. “Human beings are born free, and no one has the right to enslave, humiliate, oppress or exploit them,” proclaimed the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam in 1990. Early jihadist groups followed the trend, characterizing themselves as liberation movements and, as such, rejecting slavery.

But though slavery per se may be condemned, observers point to the persistence of servitude. The Global Slavery Index (GSI), whose estimates are computed by an Australian NGO working with Hull University, claims that of 14 states with over 1% of the population enslaved, more than half are Muslim. Prime offenders range from the region’s poorest state, Mauritania, to its richest per head, Qatar.

The criteria and data used by GSI have been criticized, but evidence supports the thrust of its findings. Many Arab states took far longer to criminalize slavery than to ban it. Mauritania, the world’s leading enslaver, did not do so until 2007. Where bans exist, they are rarely enforced. The year after Qatar abolished slavery in 1952, the emir took his slaves to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Government inspections and prosecutions are rarities. “The security chiefs, the judges and the lawyers all belong to the class that historically owned slaves,” says Sarah Mathewson of London-based Anti-Slavery International. “They are part of the problem.”

No labor practice has drawn more international criticism than the kafala system, which ties migrant workers to their employers. This is not slavery as IS imposes it; migrants come voluntarily, drawn by the huge wealth gap between their own countries and the Gulf. But the system “facilitates slavery”, says Nicholas McGeehan, who reports for Human Rights Watch on conditions in the desert camps where most such workers live.

The Gulf’s 2.4m domestic servants are even more vulnerable. Most do not enjoy the least protection under labor laws. Housed and, in some cases, locked in under their employer’s roof, they are prey to sexual exploitation.

Irons and red-hot bars

Again, these workers have come voluntarily; but disquieting echoes persist. Many Gulf nationals can be heard referring to their domestics as malikat (slaves). Since several Asian governments have suspended or banned their female nationals from domestic work in the Gulf out of concern for their welfare, recruitment agencies are turning to parts of Africa, such as Uganda, which once exported female slaves. Some domestic servants are abused with irons and red-hot bars: resonant, says Mr McGeehan, of slave-branding in the past.

Elsewhere in the region, the collapse of law and order provides further cover for a comeback of old practices. Syrian refugee camps in Jordan provide a supply of girls for both the capital’s brothels and for Gulf men trawling websites, which offer short-term marriages for brokerage fees of $140-270 each. Trafficking has soared in Libya’s Mediterranean ports, which under the Ottomans exported sub-Saharan labor to Europe. Long before Boko Haram kidnapped girls, Anti-Slavery International had warned that Nigerian businessmen were buying “fifth wives”—concubines alongside the four wives permitted by Islam—from neighboring Niger.

Gulf states insist they are dealing with the problem. In June Kuwait’s parliament granted domestic servants labor rights, the first Gulf state to do so. It is also the only Gulf state to have opened a refuge for female migrants. Qatar, fearful that reported abuses might upset its hosting of the World Cup in 2022, has promised to improve migrant housing.

And earlier this year Mauritania’s government ordered preachers at Friday prayers to publicize a fatwa by the country’s leading clerics declaring: “Slavery has no legal foundation in sharia law.” Observers fear, though, that this is window-dressing. And Kuwait’s emir has yet to ratify the new labour-rights law.

Rather than stop the abuse, Gulf officials prefer to round on their critics, accusing them of Islamophobia just as their forebears did. Oman and Saudi Arabia have long been closed to Western human-rights groups investigating the treatment of migrants. Now the UAE and Qatar, under pressure after a wave of fatalities among workers building venues for the 2022 World Cup, are keeping them out, too.

Internal protests are even riskier. Over the past two years hundreds of migrant laborers building Abu Dhabi’s Guggenheim and Louvre Museums have been detained, roughed up and deported, says Human Rights Watch, after strikes over unpaid wages. Aminetou Mint Moctar, a rare Mauritanian Arab on the board of SOS Esclaves, a local association campaigning for the rights of haratin, or descendants of black slaves, has received death threats.

Is it too much to hope that the Islamic clerics denouncing slavery might also condemn other instances of forced and abusive labor? Activists and Gulf migrants are doubtful. Even migrants’ own embassies can be strangely mute, not wanting criticism to curb the vital flow of remittances. When Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, visited the UAE this week, his nationals there complained that migrant rights were last on his list. Western governments generally have other priorities. One is simply to defeat IS, whose extreme revival of slavery owes at least something to the region’s persistent and pervasive tolerance of servitude.

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Obama Comes to His Senses on Syria?

From here.

This is very interesting stuff. Read closely.

Here is the face-saving formula used by US Secretary of State Kerry in London today to signal that the United States is finally jettisoning the absurd and Utopian demand that Syrian President Assad’s immediate removal from power be a precondition for negotiating a political settlement for Syria.

Kerry stated: “Our focus remains on destroying ISIL and also on a political settlement with respect to Syria, which we believe cannot be achieved with the long-term presence of Assad,” Mr. Kerry said. “But we’re looking for ways in which to try to find a common ground. Clearly, if you’re going to have a political settlement, which we’ve always argued is the best and only way to resolve Syria, you need to have conversations with people, and you need to find a common ground.” which we’ve always argued is the best and only way to resolve Syria, you need to have conversations with people, and you need to find a common ground.”[i]

If Assad must depart in the long term, this implies that his short-term and medium-term presence is feasible. This opens the space needed for serious diplomacy and negotiations, which Europe is demanding to stop the Syrian civil war, the driving force behind the refugee crisis. It is expected that a number of European nations will soon end economic sanctions against Syria, re-open their shuttered embassies, and begin cooperating with the legal Assad government.

“Privately, I’m told, Obama agreed to — and may have even encouraged — Putin’s increased support for the Assad regime, realizing it’s the only real hope of averting a Sunni-extremist victory. But publicly Obama senses that he can’t endorse this rational move. Thus, Obama, who has become practiced at speaking out of multiple sides of his mouth, joined in bashing Russia – sharing that stage with the usual suspects, including The New York Times’ editorial page.”[ii]

This suggests that Obama’s public posturing in regard to Putin may represent a charade or dog-and-pony show. The same may apply to Obama’s repeated refusals to meet with Putin on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in just over a week’s time. Obama may be using this issue as a way to dupe the warmonger Republican opposition.

Here we have a very interesting situation. Parry is excellent, and his sources are usually CIA, often dissident, anti-neocon CIA, so the referenced source may be US intelligence.

This actually makes a lot of sense. The US, Israel, Europe and the Sunni Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Jordan and Turkey have long been demanding the removal of Assad a precondition for ending the war. This doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Why does Assad have to go? Because so many Syrians love Al Qaeda and ISIS so much, so therefore Assad has no legitimacy? Who is to take his place? The only people who can take his place are Al Qaeda/ISIS types. The FSA types could take his place, but they only represent 10% of the rebels.

Nobody in Syria much likes the opposition. The last poll taken showed that the rebels only had 10% support with another 20% neutral. The jihadis are widely hated by a good 70% of Syrians.

The FSA is not much liked either. They are regarded as pro-US, pro-EU, pro-Israel dupes who will sell out Syria to the US, the West, Israel and the Gulf. In other words, they’re a bunch of traitors who are out to make Syria into one more US Sunni Arab colony like Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain. Most Syrians wouldn’t be too happy to be ruled by a bunch of traitors.

So there’s no one for Assad to negotiate with. Negotiating an end to the war means negotiating with Al Qaeda/ISIS. Good luck with that. The FSA has no legitimacy and no support.

Apparently the US/EU/Israel plan is to replace Assad with some FSA-type Sunni Arab dupe who could be easily controlled by the US/EU/Israel. This is a long-standing plan, hence the long-standing demand that “Assad must go.”

So as you can see, there’s nothing to negotiate. There’s no one to replace Assad. Anyway, in a free and fair election, Assad would win by a mile, so Assad is the choice of the majority of Syrians.

Apparently the US is finally caving on its longstanding demand that Assad must go. Now we say that Assad must go in the longterm. That means apparently that he can stay in the short-term and midterm. This is a very serious cave-in by the US.

The US doesn’t want to defeat ISIS in Syria at all at the moment. Perhaps we want to defeat them in Iraq, but sometimes I even wonder about that. Sure, we bomb them here and there, but it doesn’t amount to much.

I do think that the US might like to defeat ISIS in the longterm, but surely not now. For now, ISIS is very useful to put pressure on Assad. Probable US goals were:

  1. Take out Assad.
  2. Put in government of pro-US, pro-Israel Sunni Arab dupes.
  3. Possibly try to defeat ISIS.

Notice there’s nothing in that list about defeating Al Qaeda and their minions who along with ISIS make up 90% of the Syrian rebels. I have no idea what the US, Israel and the EU want to do with Syrian Al Qaeda. We have been arming and funding them for a long time now. So what happens if we get rid of Assad and put in our dupes? Then what becomes of America’s Al Qaeda buddies? Who knows?

But the US has a longstanding habit of using various forces, arming and funding them and then turning around, selling them out and arming and funding their enemies to wage all-out war on them. We’ve been doing this crap forever. Just ask the Kurds. This bullshit is called “realpolitik.” Ask Henry Kissinger how that’s supposed to work.

Anyway, it looks there is a complete collapse in the US strategy of keeping ISIS alive enough to threaten Assad, arming and funding Al Qaeda and pals, and demanding Assad’s ouster. It looks like the game-changer was Russia entering the Syrian conflict in a huge way.

And apparently Obama has secretly given the go-ahead for Putin to go into Syria on the basis that US policy has collapsed, and Obama realizes that the best policy is to support Assad against the forces of medievalist terrorism.

However, Obama cannot come out and say this. The Republican Party is still full-throated committed to support for Al Qaeda (and even possibly ISIS) and overthrowing Assad with apparently no plan at all to deal with the Holocaust that would follow. The US “free press” is of course 100% committed to the “support Al Qaeda, overthrow Assad” project. Both of these groups just happen to coincidentally be mirroring their Israeli masters who cooked up the “support Al Qaeda, overthrow Assad” project in the first place.

So Obama can’t come out and say he is supporting Russia’s efforts to defeat terrorism and support Assad in Syria because the neocons in Neocon Central (the Republican Party) and the neocon-controlled press will massacre him.

So Obama cleverly gives Putin the go-ahead to go into Syria and do his stuff, while publicly he blasts away at Putin with the usual anti-Russian bluster that the neocons of him. As usual, observed reality as reported in the controlled press is not at all what is really happening behind the scenes. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain…

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Are Arabs Usually in a State of War?

RL: Most people in the region have been living in peacetime most of the time since independence.

Swank: Seems to detail a different picture here…

There has not been a war fought on Moroccan territory. Morocco has been at peace 100% of the time since Independence.

Algeria fought a civil war from 1991-2000.  That is 10 years out of 53.

There has not been a war fought on Tunisian territory. Tunisia has been at peace 100% of the time since Independence.

Libya fought a 4 day border war with Egypt in 1977. There was an on and off war in Chad for 8 years between 1978-1987. There has been civil war since the overthrow of Ghaddafi. That is 12 years of war out of 63 years. Libya has been at peace 93% of the time since Independence.

Egypt was involved in several wars with Israel, but they didn’t last long. The total adds up to maybe 2 years at most. That’s 2 years of war out of 93 years.

Indeed, Palestine has been embroiled war almost all the time since 1947.

Jordan has only fought some wars with Israel. Maybe 2 years of war out of the last 66 years.

Syria fought several wars with Israel, but the combined total only lasted two years. They fought a war with the Muslim Brotherhood that went on perhaps 1 year. There has been a civil war since 2012. That is 6 years of war out of 64 years.

Saudi Arabia has not been in any wars since 1920 that I am aware of. However, there was an internal civil war that lasted a few years recently, but it was a very low level war. Saudi Arabia was briefly targeted in the Gulf War but that was only for a year. That’s 3 years out of 95.

Oman has not been in any wars since 1920 that I am aware of. Oman has been at peace 100% of the time since Independence.

Bahrain has not been in any wars since 1920 that I am aware of. Bahrain has been at peace 100% of the time since Independence.

UAE has not been in any wars since 1920 that I am aware of. UAE has been at peace 100% of the time since Independence.

Qatar has not been in any wars since 1920 that I am aware of. Qatar has been at peace 100% of the time since Independence.

Kuwait has been at war only with Iraq and that was only for a few weeks. That is 1 month out of 95 years.

Yemen did fight a civil war that lasted maybe 8 years. This resulted in a split in the country. There has been an internal war against Al Qaeda for maybe 4 years now. That’s 12 years out of 54.

Iraq fought a brief war with the British in 1941, but it only lasted one month. There was civil war in Mosul in 1959, but it lasted no more than a week. Iraq fought a number of wars with Israel, but those amounted to no more than 2 years. The Iran-Iraq War lasted 8 years. The Gulf War was over in less than a year and was by an internal civil war on 6 months. Iraq has been at war since the Iraq War in 2003, 11 years. Since 1932, Iraq has been at war for 22 years. That is 22 out of 83.

Lebanon fought a few wars against Israel, adding up to no more than 2 years. There was a brief civil war in 1958 lasting no more than one month. There was a major civil war in Lebanon for 15 years, from 1975-1990. Hezbollah fought a 1 month war with Israel in 2006. There was a brief civil war in 2007 with the Lebanese army fought a 4 month civil war against Fatah-al-Islam. In 2008, Hezbollah fought a 1 week war with the government. The Syrian Civil War has spilled over into Lebanon for the last year. Lebanon has been at war for 19 out of 70 years.

Conclusion: Most countries in the Arab World have been at peace most of the time since Independence.

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