"The Department of Defense and others have noted that between 2006 and 2010, climate-change-fueled droughts killed off 70 percent of Syrian farmers’ livestock, driving hundreds of thousands of economic refugees into crowded cities. Faced with scarce resources, the many protesting food shortages were polarized against President Bashar al-Assad’s authoritarianism and pushed toward religious extremists who were, as Juan Cole put it, “everything the state was not” — distributing water, food and oil that Assad had failed to."

The War on Climate Change

Anthropocene or Capitalocene
"That's a rubbish decision for which John McDonnell bears a considerable responsibility. The unity of the cabinet (which doesn't exist) has been placed higher than maximising our ability to prevent a war. That is an abdication of conscience. This is one reason why I'm not in the Labour Party."  
Via John Rees
 “Capitalism and the ‘war on terror’ not only help to sustain one another but they have this in common: they worship success but are nourished by failure.” (David Keen, Endless War?, 2006)
"Our way of life"

RAF to Look for Any Unbombed Bits of Syria

DAVID Cameron has called on Britain to flatten the last remaining bumpy bits of Syria.
Making his case for British airstrikes against ISIS, the prime minister told the House of Commons there was an outside lavatory 15 miles from Aleppo that still has its roof attached.
He added: “It stands there, being a toilet, brazenly defying our values. If not now, when?”
The prime minster then listed seven other small buildings across Syria that remain structurally sound, including a newsagent, a car wash and a fruit kiosk that could be sheltering up 20,000 ISIS maniacs.
He added: “We have learned the lessons of Iraq. Too many buildings were left standing in Iraq. And it was in those buildings that ISIS was formed.
“We will only bring peace to the Middle East when all the buildings have been destroyed and everyone has to stand around in the street.”
Meanwhile, Cameron has not ruled out sending troops to Syria to jump up and down on any small bits of the country still sticking out of the ground in a campaign codenamed ‘Operation Snooker Table.
Source: thedailymash

The Threat is Already Inside
And nine other truths about terrorism that nobody wants to hear

Good arguments, and facts, by a defender of the system
Note: Foreign Policy calls Hamas and Hizbullah "terrorist organizations".

My comment on Paul Rogers's recent article

"Its ambitious aim was to cause the overthrow of the 'near enemy' regimes in the Middle East and southwest Asia, replacing them with 'proper' Islamist regimes; to see Zionism destroyed..." Do you have figures and evidence of any attacks on Israel's interests? Are they of any significance? More importantly, you too either has fallen in a trap or that is just your way of working withing the frame work of defending the system, trying to make it better. You are speaking about "the same mistakes being made." They are not mistakes and only an apologist for the state terrorism of the Western regimes would call them mistakes. Occupations, invasions, support of dictators in the Middle East and outside the Middle East, imposed economic policies, support of Israel's state terrorism, support of the so-called Islamist liberals as long as they maintain the status quo of "the free market" and dependency, the struggle of the regional powers for their interets and the interests of the big powers, decades of humiliation and social dislocation... are not mistakes, but a function of the sytem regionally and internationally. In short, unfortunately, you are ignoring that and that is what I call the liberal defence of muder not mistakes.

My interview with Richard Seyrmour

I think this incident is full of metaphor, allegory, images, parabols, etc when put into the context of occupation, ethnic cleansing, rape, plunder, and all other barbaric acts of a state.
Tel Aviv, Israel: "a sex worker, who worked 12-hour shifts and slept with up to 30 men a day, hanged herself. Three hours after her body was found, the brothel went back to work." 
Source: Haaretz.com, 22 August 2015.

Isis: In a borderless world, the days when we could fight foreign wars and be safe at home may be long gone

Robert Fisk, author of The Great War for Civilization.

Graham E. Fuller is a former vice-chair of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA, Adjunct Professor at Simon Fraser University, and author of numerous books on the Middle East and Islamic movements. His first novel, “Breaking Faith: A Novel of Espionage and an American’s Crisis of Conscience in Pakistan,” will be out in March 2015.

A photo by Everyday Egypt

A defender of barbarism

Here is how that paper defended the barbaric action of the British state

"We resist evil by not being swept away by the surface of things, by stopping ourselves and beginning to think—that is, by reaching another dimension than the horizon of everyday life."
Hannah Arendt
"Why Do Some Islamist Groups Seem Sadistic, Even Evil?"

Read also

"A divided Europe will not necessarily replicate the horrors of the early 20th century. History will rhyme, however, at the intersection of several trends running in parallel. The splintering of Europe overlays the erosion of central authority within the Sykes-Picot borders in the Middle East — borders that the Europeans created to divide the region and tighten their colonial grip. With those territories in prolonged conflict, the weakening of those regimes and the radical ideologies borne out of power vacuums will risk drawing a minority of European Muslims into battle while driving migrants into the heart of Europe, accelerating Europe's path toward fragmentation."

The Fear of the Other Europe

"This morning when I awoke I made the mistake of turning on the television "news". Two of the world's worst murderous thugs, Barack Obama and Francois Hollande were opining about their partnership to destroy Daesh/ISIL and how they would protect our freedoms by bombing the Middle East into rubble and removing Bashar al-Assad from power, and the utter hypocrisy of their verbal nonsense was too much for me. They continue to up the massive military ante which puts all western citizens at increasing risk in their own countries while systematically stripping away our freedoms, and straight faced they expect us to sop up such blatant drivel. Before the rise in my gorge caused me to lose my breakfast I turned it off, which is what I have been doing consistently since the Paris attack and whenever these so-called leaders of the "free" western countries are pontificating publicly, which is far too often. The television networks must be noticing a precipitous drop in the number of viewers during their "news" performances, at least I hope so, though I have my doubts due to the rise of base ignorance, racism, militarism and bigotry among the general population. Watching television "news", (low quality theatre of the absurd), unless it is about local stories, is a complete waste of time. Thank goodness for the web!" 
Peter K. Vickers, Facebook, 24 November 2015

"This is the Worst Time for Society to Go on Pscyhopathic Autopilot
Frankie Boyle

My comment: 
1. Boyle mixed up Camus and Sartre. Camus actually opposed the independence of Algeria. "As far as Algeria is concerned, national independence is a formula driven by nothing other than passion. There has never yet been an Algerian nation. The Jews, the Turks, Greeks, Italians, or Berbers would be as entitled to claim the leadership of this potential nation. As things stand, the Arabs do not comprise the whole of Algeria … The French of Algeria are also natives, in the strong sense of the word. Moreover, a purely Arab Algeria could not achieve that economic independence without which political independence is nothing but an illusion." (cited by Said, 1993 p 179).
2. Boyle has fallen in the mainstream discourse of "mistakes" made in the foreign policy. History has shown many times that those "mistakes" are a pattern and part and parcel of the functioning of the system domesctically and internationally.
Turkey: the long good read


After Kemal

Atif, 14 years old. Stonemasonry worker in Shaq Al-Thüban area south of Cairo, he takes a salary that varies between 10 to 15 EGP per day. 
Atif is cutting stones since he was almost 8, he was seriously injured more than once like hundreds of other children who are doing this dangerous job.
Source: Everyday Egypt on Facebook

September 11 and the Functions of the ‘War on Terror’

I wrote this article on 11 September 2006

9/11 saw thousands of innocent people killed in cold blood by an act of terrorism. Yet the impulse to retaliate has already shown us why a ‘war on terror' cannot be won. "Why would other people," asks David Kean, "not feel similar emotions and impulses when they are attacked, when their innocent people are bombed or shot in the name of somebody else's ‘justice'?"
In the words of Shylock, in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice,
"He hath disgraced me ... laughed at my losses ... scorned my nation, and what's his reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? ... If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?" (The Merchant of Venice, Act 3, Scene 1)
The article in full 

"Whenever the West is attacked and our innocents are killed, we usually wipe the memory bank. Thus, when reporters told us that the 129 dead in Paris represented the worst atrocity in France since the Second World War, they failed to mention the 1961 Paris massacre of up to 200 Algerians participating in an illegal march against France’s savage colonial war in Algeria. Most were murdered by the French police, many were tortured in the Palais des Sports and their bodies thrown into the Seine. The French only admit 40 dead. The police officer in charge was Maurice Papon, who worked for Petain’s collaborationist Vichy police in the Second World War, deporting more than a thousand Jews to their deaths." 

Robert Fisk, the Independent, 17 November 2015

Read also

France Returns to the State of Exception
Gilbert Achcar

Human rights?

"... What you call the ‘predominance of human rights’ is an ideological phenomenon that certainly is of symptomatic value, but is not enough to change social structures. There are even ways of using it that hide the varieties of racism that are now developing, paradoxically by way of a ‘humanitarian’ or ‘philanthropic’ discourse that serves to keep populations or categories of individuals in the condition of recipients of help rather than as bearers of equal rights. Differences or incapacities are presented as essential properties, though they are in fact the result of historical conditions and of relations of domination." Étienne Babilbar
Interrogation under torture was widespread. Many of the men were anally raped, using knives, broken bottles, rifle barrels, snakes and scorpions. A favourite technique was to hold a man upside down, his head in a bucket of water, while sand was rammed into his rectum with a stick. Women were gang-raped by the guards. People were mauled by dogs and electrocuted. The British devised a special tool which they used for first crushing and then ripping off testicles. They used pliers to mutilate women's breasts. They cut off inmates' ears and fingers and gouged out their eyes. They dragged people behind Land Rovers until their bodies disintegrated. Men were rolled up in barbed wire and kicked around the compound.

"I'm so sick of seeing the endless debate about "if you care about Paris you don't care about Beirut/Metrojet/now Nigeria" et cetera. The reality is this: Paris, like any American city, is in the first-world protected zone. 

Ever since WWII the overall consensus strategy on the part of everyone in the ruling elite of the global North, from the most far-right capitalist to the most left-wing Politburo member, has been to export conflict from the North into all kinds of global peripheries. We EXPECT to see violence in Beirut because we put it there. Our security states protect us from the blowback of whatever neocolonialist policies we might care to pursue on those peripheries. So what if we fail at nation-building? We'll never have to "fight them over here," not really. (The attached map, although badly out of date, expresses some of this concept.)

So of course when there's a terrorist attack in a core northern city like Paris or New York we're shocked, bereaved, and upset. We've lived our whole lives in a bubble in which violence is always declining and foreign-policy issues are remote and academic. The faux-leftist argument that we should feel equally sad about people dying in Beirut is hollow and hypocritical because it substitutes moral righteousness for actually asking WHY it is that we feel so shocked.

If someone told you that 129 people were killed in car accidents in Paris the other day, you'd shrug your shoulders. In fact millions of people die every day and you don't give a shit. Everyone dies. But those concrete deaths represent a brief puncturing of the bubble of security that surrounds us and makes our lives as we know them possible. It accomplishes what the terrorists want us to believe: that this bubble is a sham, as much propaganda and hubris as reality.

The solution isn't pretending like you're oh so distraught when a bus full of Russians or Bangladeshis falls off a cliff. It's pursuing a politics in which Western elites--that's the people who govern us--have to take responsibility for the violence they displace onto other people. And that means acknowledging that the bubble they've created was created ON OUR BEHALF."

Greg Afigenov, Facebook, 17 November 2015
In War

For OpenDemocracy, Étienne Balibar writes in response to the Paris attacks about how populations on 'both shores' of the Mediterranean are taken hostage—and Europe has a nearly irreplaceable function.

"Yes, we are at war. Or rather, henceforth, we are all in war. We deal blows, and we take blows in turn. We are in mourning, suffering the consequences of these terrible events, in the sad knowledge that others will occur. Each person killed is irreplaceable.
But which war are we talking about? It is not an easy war to define because it is formed of various types which have been pushed together over time and which today appear inextricable. Wars between states (even a pseudo state like 'ISIS'). National and international civil wars. Wars of 'civilisation' (or something that sees itself as such). Wars of interest and of imperialist patronage. Wars of religions and sects (or justified as such). This is the great stasis or ‘split city’ of the twenty first century, which we will one day compare to its distant parallels (if indeed we escape intact): the Peloponnesian War; the Thirty Years War; or, more recently, the “European civil war” that raged from 1914 to 1945…
In part an outcome of the US offensive in the Middle East (both before and after 9/11), the war has intensified following the offensives in which Russia and France are now playing a major role, each with their own objectives. The war is also rooted in the ferocious rivalry between those states who all aspire to regional hegemony: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, even Egypt, and in some ways Israel – the only nuclear power of the group at the moment. In a violent collective abreaction, it speeds up all the unsettled affairs of colonisation and empire: oppressed minorities, the creation of arbitrary borders, expropriated mineral resources, disputed areas of influence, gigantic arms contracts. As we just saw, the war seeks, and occasionally finds, support among populations of the ‘other side’. 

Worse still, perhaps, is that it reactivates ancient 'theological hatreds' : the schisms within Islam, the clash between monotheisms and their secular substitutes. Let us be clear, no religious war is ever caused by the religion itself: there are always undercurrents of oppression, conflicts of power, economic strategies, excessive wealth, and excessive poverty. But when the 'code' of religion (or of 'counter-religion') is involvedthe cruelty that follows can exceed all limits, since the enemy has become anathema.  

Monstrous barbarism has raised its head, reinforcing itself through the insanity of its own violence – like ISIS with its decapitations, rapes of enslaved women, and destruction of humanity's cultural treasures. But other, apparently more 'rational' brutalities are breeding too, like Nobel peace prize recipient Obama's 'drone wars', the results of which are now demonstrated to be 9 civilian deaths for each terrorist death."

ETIENNE BALIBAR 16 November 2015

From Beirut to Paris, We Are All Hypocrites

"Ultimately, if we really cared about human lives, our profile pictures would have been photo-shopped with the Syrian flag. With over 200,000 people killed65,000 disappeared, and the growth of a medieval terrorist organisation persecuting minorities, employing girls and women as sex slaves, and carrying out gruesome killings, the Syrian flag would most definitely qualify for an act of solidarity with “crimes against humanity.”
If we really cared about human suffering, our profile pictures would have been shaded with the Palestinian flag where local inhabitants have been kicked out of their lands and have been living under occupation or as refugees since 1948—and whose remaining lands are being annexed by Israeli settlers, in clear violation of international law and causing outrage to few in the world.
Selective grief is indeed hypocritical and disturbing. But the truth of the matter is that we are all hypocrites, we are all selective grievers, and we are all selective sympathisers.
In exposing the hypocrisy of others, our hypocrisy is exposed. In exposing the selective grief of others, our selective grief is laid bare. And in exposing the selective justice in the world, the pervasiveness of selective justice in our societies is revealed.
Halim Shebaya, opendemocracy.net, 16 November 2015

Youssef here is really expressing my plight in Britain. I have been openly told not to express what I think in class. In society in general I have learnt not to offend people by refraining from saying what I think. 

My Censorship, Your Bigotry

"When Arabs or Muslims die in the hands of the selfsame criminal Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) gangs in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, or Lebanon, they are reduced to their lowest common denominator and presumed sectarian denominations, overcoming and camouflaging our humanity. But when French or British or US citizens are murdered, they are raised to their highest common abstractions and become the universal icons of humanity at large.

Why? Are we Muslims not human? Does the murder of one of us not constitute harm to the entire body of humanity?"

Hamid Dabashi
Interviewing Imprisoned ISIS Fighters

ISIS: The Inside Story

حكاية الدولة الإسلامية من الداخل

Are We ISIS?

Madeleine Albright ... I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it. Stated on CBS's 60 Minutes (May 12, 1996) in reply to Lesley Stahl's question "We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?" Albright was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at the time.

Hundreds of Civilians Killed in US-Led Strikes on ISIS

"I don’t much like it when a head of state speaks of the dead as heroes. It usually happens because citizens have been sent to war and not come back, which is rather the case with the victims of the attack on Charlie Hebdo. The attack is part of a war declared on France, but can also be seen in the light of the wars France has got itself involved in: conflicts where its participation isn’t called for, where worse massacres than that at Charlie Hebdo take place every day, several times a day, where our bombardments pile death on death in the hope of saving potentates who feel threatened and are no better than those who threaten them … If Obama had not held Hollande back, he would have gone after Assad in Syria, just as Sarkozy went after Gaddafi in Libya … with the result we’re familiar with." 
Henri Roussel, the 80-year-old founder of Hara-Kiri, the title under which Charlie Hebdo was published before it was forced into a name change

It Didn't Need to be Done
“We attacked a foreign people and treated them like rebels. As you know, it's all right to treat barbarians barbarically. It's the desire to be barbaric that makes governments call their enemies barbarians.” 
― Bertolt Brecht

How to Politicize a Tragedy
"Only when we recognize the war criminals in our midst, will the blood begin to dry."
John Pilger

"ISIS in Paris" by Tariq Ali
On barbarism

"Under these circumstances of social and political disintegration, we should expect a decline in civility in any case, and a growth in barbarism. And yet what has made things worse, what will undoubtedly make them worse in future, is that steady dismantling of the defences which the civilization of the Enlightenment had erected against barbarism... For the worst of it is that we have got used to the inhuman. We have learned to tolerate the intolerable.

"Total war and cold war have brainwashed us into accepting barbarity. Even worse: they have made barbarity seem unimportant, compared to more important matters like making money.

"Barbarity is a by-product of life in a particular social and historical context." Eric Hobsbawm, On History, 2013.
"Those to whom evil is done / do evil in return".
W. H. Auden

Paris Attacks Highlights Western Vulnerability

"What the mass media offers is not popular art, but entertainment which is intended to be consumed like food, forgotten, and replaced by a new dish." W. H. Auden

Global Poverty

The Science of (Not) Ending Global Poverty