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The Palestinian Novel from 1948 to the present

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By Ramona Wadi
The Palestinian Novel from 1948 to the present
Book Author(s) : Bashir Abu-Manneh

Published Date :  April 2016
Publisher :             Cambridge University Press
Hardcover :            244 pages
ISBN-13 :                978-1107136526

Bashir Abu-Manneh’s detailed study “The Palestinian novel: From 1948 to the present” (Cambridge University Press, 2016) combines the historical processes of Palestinian memory and postcolonial and literary theory in a manner which brings the various narratives and experiences of Palestinians to the fore.

There is a unifying factor identified by the author – dispossession – which is synonymous with Palestine and comprises the framework for analysing the historical framework and the literary expression within the novels; the latter by utilising the writings of literary theorist Georg Lukács, who argues that historical defeats and their aftermaths disrupted the previous literary forms. As Abu-Manneh states, for Lukács, the novel “is attuned to its multiple social and historical determinations.”

In the case of Palestine, the Nakba, 1967 and Oslo generated a unifying factor in the Palestinian experience despite the visible fragmentation of land and people. The spectrum of Palestinian historical memory is varied, intense and complex, revealing the dynamics of resistance and liberation to be fraught with both internal and external constraints. Indeed, the unifying factor in the Palestinian experience since the Nakba – dispossession – and its various ramifications, including the interpretations of anti-colonial resistance, form the foundations of Abu-Manneh’s treatise.

Dispossession is introduced immediately in the text: “Uneven condition is thus endemic to Palestinian existence, a basic fact of dispossession and exile.” With this statement, the author opens up on a plethora of consequences of political unevenness in which the exiled Palestinians and those living under military occupation embody distinct characteristics with regard to their struggle; characteristics that are all relevant in interpreting the literature chosen by Abu-Manneh for the purpose of this study.

The book discusses the trajectories of the Palestinian novel by expounding upon the works of four authors: Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, Ghassan Kanafani, Emile Habiby and Sahar Khalifeh. While departing from different forms of expression, a common theme in the works discussed is popular mobilisation and self-determination as being inherently connected. Hence, navigation through themes such as dispossession, nostalgia, the moral confrontation “between the occupier and the victim”, historical contradictions, rebellion, memory narratives and social disintegration features prominently.

A strong point in Abu-Manneh’s research is the ability to allow the novel to serve as a reality check with regards to mainstream political narrative versus the underlying realities. Indeed, the book acknowledges the differences in historical narrative between 1948 and1967 but does not fall into the trap of dissociation. Another prevalent theme is the juxtaposition of revolt and the failure of revolt, which is also reminiscent of the current political rhetoric with its focus upon acquiescence. As the author states, “Talk of a political entity or state is already talk of the failure of revolt, is already talk of the will to settle and accommodate to the existing constraints of the Arab world.”

In the Palestinian novel, however, there is the “ebb and flow of historical possibility and its aesthetic mediation.” Through his analysis, Abu-Manneh shows how Jabra’s novels expound upon the role of intellectuals in society which, if isolated, can lead to a restricted interpretation of resistance. For Jabra, change is linked directly to culture, which explains the strong presence of symbolism in his literature, including the notion of sacrifice as an act of liberation. Since Jabra views the intellectual as the catalyst for change, memory and rupture are prevalent constantly and in a constant struggle which can also be interpreted as a form of absence, depending on whether the analysis takes into consideration the different meanings of Palestine depending upon people and personal experience.

By way of contrast, Abu-Manneh shows how Kanafani’s focus on national consciousness and its role in promoting international awareness is imperative to develop the Palestinian national struggle and the internationalist perspective. For Kanafani, literary engagement and dispossession were the instigators for political action which needs to be ingrained in participatory mobilisation. Referring to Kanafani’s novel “Men in the Sun”, Abu-Manneh writes, “The tragedy of losing a homeland is first of all a tragedy for the poor.” There is a sequence between literary narration and events that need to be considered simultaneously for a deeper understanding of Kanafani’s work. It is not just the intellectual, but the entire society, that is “a whole project of social and political transformation.” In turn, Palestinian life is construed by contradiction, struggle and resistance.

The profound psychological manifestations and consequences of colonialism upon Palestinians in Habiby’s novels portray the connection between individual experience and historical events. For Abu-Manneh, collective consciousness after 1948 is imperative to understanding the contradictions in Palestinian struggle and the political constraints leading to decreased solidarity with fellow Palestinians, including collaboration. The theme and reality of disappearance, for example, is reminiscent of “the intolerable existence that causes it.” In this case, historical memory is an integral part of historical consciousness.

Khalifeh, on the other hand, embodies a radical and social critique departing from 1967. According to Abu Manneh, Khalifeh’s work displays the dynamics of how “Palestinian diasporic defeat catches upon with occupied Palestinians.” Her rejection of resistance in her writings is not an aversion to liberation; 1967 sets the foundations for renewed anti-colonial struggle and a continuation of the resistance associated with 1948. Her novels emphasise the importance of participatory self-organisation, which is shackled by the “national oppressor”. Abu-Manneh shows that Khalifeh’s writing is conscious of a number of conditions that need to be addressed, including collective freedom, individual self-emancipation and the many narratives of Palestinian history. Mass consciousness can be achieved by a convergence of the experiences of both intellectuals and the masses. This validates the author’s observation that the “Palestinian ruling class never showed any sign of national solidarity with or sympathy for the rebels.” Defeat, therefore, is as ingrained as resistance.

The literary expression of the authors discussed by Abu-Manneh, as well as the expertise articulated by him, has moved towards a conclusion that is both liberating and delusory, although the latter is embodied by the corruption of leaders who have normalised defeat and allowed its repercussions to become an unwitting expression of Palestinian society under particular circumstances. Consciousness, therefore, is the means of combating political abandonment as well as subservience to colonial and imperialist interests. In the novels which are analysed, reality is clearly depicted while leaving ample space for possibility within remembrance, which is what is needed, in Abu-Manneh’s words, “to actively imagine the transformability of the present again.”

(Source / 13.08.2016)

Written by altahrir

August 13, 2016 at 3:08 pm

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Hey Israel, give Palestinians a sporting chance

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As the Palestinian team arrives in Rio without equipment or a leader, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict plays out on the sporting fields once again

The troubles of the Middle East have followed the Olympic flame to Rio de Janeiro for the Brazilian games.

An early controversy erupted even before the teams reached the Maracana Stadium.

The Lebanese and Israeli delegations clashed when the organisers planned for the two teams to travel together to the opening ceremony, presumably assuming sport would override politics and that, given the chance to mingle, citizens of the two countries would welcome the opportunity.

The now well-documented incident showed that only a naive organiser would have failed to assume this would be a non-starter.

The Lebanese delegation head refused to let the Israeli team board the coach and the teams travelled separately. It was ironic that the Israeli sailing team coach complained about this act of discrimination when he must know of the discrimination that Israel practices against Palestinians with the building of roads and towns designed and constructed for Jews only.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict also impacted the start of the games: the six members of the Palestinian team – including 55-year-old dressage rider and German businessman Christian Zimmerman – travelled to the games without their official uniforms and equipment, impounded by Israeli customs.

Before the games began, as Munther Masalmeh, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Olympic Committee told the media, the team’s gear had not cleared customs yet.

“We got one shipment several months ago and we have not been able to bring it in,” he said. “We were forced to travel without our equipment and to buy them instead in Brazil.”

In a further act of interference in the Palestinian Olympic delegation, Israel banned Issam Qishta, the head of the Palestinian delegation, from leaving the Gaza Strip to join the Rio-bound team.

“We do our best to let him leave as soon as possible,” Emmanuel Nahshon, spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry, said.

Playing politics

Israeli interference in Palestinian sporting affairs is nothing new. Recently, Israel bannedseveral players from Gaza’s Ittihad Al-Shejaiya football team from crossing into the West Bank through the Erez border to play the final match of the Palestine football cup against Ahli Al-Khalil from Hebron in the West Bank.

The first leg of the cup final, which took place in Gaza, marked the first visit by Ahli Alkhalil to the Strip in 15 years. However, several players on the West Bank team faced difficultiesentering Gaza. The first leg ended in a goalless draw.

Under apparent pressure from football’s world governing body FIFA, Israel eventually allowed the Gaza players to cross into the West bank for the rearranged second leg which the West Bank team won.

Over the years, FIFA has had to play a key mediation role between the Palestine Football Federation (PFA) and the Israeli Football Federation (IFA). Palestinians believe Israel deliberately hampers their efforts to develop the game, both at club and at a national team level, largely through restrictions of movement within the occupied territories.

Israel also decides which Palestinian players can leave the territories for training or tournaments abroad and which foreign-based Palestinian members of the national team can enter the occupied territories.

Additionally, Israel decides which foreign teams can enter the occupied territories for games or tournaments.

Israel has also targeted individual Palestinian footballers including Gaza-based star Mahmoud Sarsak, who was arrested at the Erez crossing en route to play in a game in the West Bank and was held without charge for three years before embarking on a hunger strike in 2012 to protest his detention. He ended his hunger strike after 90 days in exchange for early release.

Young, aspiring footballers have also been targeted by occupation forces. In January 2014, Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17, were shot by Israeli soldiers as they were walking home from a training session in the Faisal al-Husseini Stadium in al-Ram in the central West Bank.

A month later, the two youngsters learnt that they could never play sport again as a result of their injuries.

Oppression on and off the field

The continued Israeli interference finally led the Palestinian Football Association to table a motion at FIFA’s fifth congress in 2015, asking for Israel’s suspension.

After much huffing and puffing, the PFA chief Jibril Rajoub dropped the motion under pressure from other delegates and with a view to setting up committees to monitor the situation.

“I am here to play football, rather than to play politics. I want to end suffering,” he said at the time.

“I decided to drop the suspension, but it does not mean that I give up the resistance. A lot of colleagues who I respect and I appreciate explained to me how it is painful for them to hear in this family about the issue of suspension.”

As the situation on the ground continues to deteriorate for Palestinian football, Israel’s meddling with the Olympic team is symptomatic of the wider oppressive policies against the Palestinian people, a case of politics impacting every aspect of Palestinian life.

What does Israel gain from upsetting young atheletes? It chooses to incite young Palestinians to hate their occupier, inciting and reminding Palestinians that they are occupied, on a daily basis, something that cannot be tolerated. The free world should heap pressure on Israel through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as a result.

Rather than upset Palestinian athletes and engender hatred, Israel can surely gain more from them focusing on training and competing at the highest possible level.

A state which is looking to coexist with the people with whom it shares a land would find no better starting place to develop this than with sports, music and culture.

(Source / 12.08.2016)

Written by altahrir

August 12, 2016 at 6:47 pm

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Stop living in denial, Israel is an evil state

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Israel may not be Nazi, nor even a fascist state. Yet it is a member of the same terrible family, the family of evil states. Just consider these acts of evil perpetrated by the state.

Israel may not be Nazi, nor even a fascist state. Yet it is a member of the same terrible family, the family of evil states. Just consider these acts of evil perpetrated by the state...

Israel may not be Nazi, nor even a fascist state. Yet it is a member of the same terrible family, the family of evil states. Just consider these acts of evil perpetrated by the state…

By Gideon Levy 

After we have cited nationalism and racism, hatred and contempt for Arab life, the security cult and resistance to the occupation, victimhood and messianism, one more element must be added without which the behaviour of the Israeli occupation regime cannot be explained: Evil. Pure evil. Sadistic evil. Evil for its own sake. Sometimes, it is the only explanation.

Eva Illouz described its signs ‘Evil now’ on Haaretz late last month. Her essay, which challenges the idea of the banality of evil, considers the national group as the source of the evil.

Using philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s concept, she finds a “family resemblance” between the Israeli occupation and history’s evil regimes.

This similarity does not mean that Israel is Nazi, nor even fascist. And yet it is a member of the same terrible family, the family of evil states. It is a depressing and brilliant analysis.

The evil that Illouz attributes to Israel is not banal, it cannot happen anywhere, and it has political and social roots that are deeply embedded in Israeli society. Thus, Illouz joins Zeev Sternhell, who warned in his impressive and resounding essay about the cultural soil out of which fascism is now growing in Israel ‘The birth of fascism’ featured on Haaretz Hebrew edition, July 7.

But alongside these analyses, we must also present a brief history of evil. We must present the instances that combine to create a great and horrific picture, a picture of Israeli evil in the territories, so as to stand up to those who deny the evil.

It is not the case of the individual – Sergeant Elor Azaria, for example, who is being tried for the death of a subdued Palestinian assailant in Hebron – but the conduct of the establishment and the occupation regime that proves the evil.

In fact, the continuation of the occupation proves the evil. Illouz, Sternhell and others provide debatable analyses on its origins, but whatever they are, it can no longer be denied.

One case is like a thousand witnesses: the case of Bilal Kayed. A young man who completed a prison term of 14.5 years – his entire sentence – without a single furlough, without being allowed to at least say goodbye by phone to his dying father; a clear sign of evil.

About six weeks ago, Kayed was getting ready for his release. A representative of the Shin Bet security service – one of the greatest agencies of evil in Israel – even showed him a photograph of the home his family had built for him to stir him up even more ahead of his release.

And then, as his family waited impatiently for him at the crossing point and Kayed grew ever more excited in his cell, he was informed that he was being thrown into administrative detention for at least another six months, without trial and without explanation.

Since then, he has been on hunger strike. He is cuffed to his bed. His family is not allowed to see him. Prison guards never leave his room and the lights are not turned out for a moment. Evil.

Only evil can explain the state’s conduct toward Kayed – only an evil state acts this way. The arbitrary announcement, at the last moment, of a senseless detention is abuse, and the way he has been treated since then is also abuse.

Only evil can explain the detention last week of another young man, Hiran Jaradat, whose brother Arif, who had Down syndrome, was killed in June and whose father died two days ago. He is under arrest for “incitement on Facebook” and was not released to attend his father’s funeral. Evil.

The continuation of the detention of poet Darin Tatur – evil. The destruction of the tiny swimming pool that the residents of Khirbet Tana in the northern West Bank had built for themselves – evil. The confiscation of water tanks from a community of shepherds in the Jordan Valley in the July heat – evil.

A great many of the decisions of the occupation regime that decides the fates of individuals, families, communities, villages and cities cannot be explained without evil. The list is as long as the occupation. The extortion of sick people from Gaza to enlist them as collaborators, the blockades on cities and towns for weeks, the Gaza blockade, the demolition of homes – all evil.

Banal or not, its existence must be acknowledged and it must be recognized as one of the most influential values in Israel. Yes, there is an evil regime at work in Israel, and therefore it is an evil state.

(Source / 10.08.2016)

Written by altahrir

August 10, 2016 at 7:47 pm

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Opinion: Aleppo and Mosul – A Tale of Two Cities

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In 1859, the celebrated British author Charles Dickens wrote ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, a famous novel whose events took place in Paris and London during and in the aftermath of the French revolution, and dealt with the plight of the French peasantry under the old nobility.

Before that date, however, two Middle Eastern cities with glorious history were part of the realm of the Hamdanids (890 AD – 1004 AD). The Banu Hamdans were descendants of the prominent tribe of Taghlib, who hail from the mother tribe Rabi’a bin Nizar bin Adnan (Adnan being the progenitor of the ‘Northern Arabs’). Their achievements in defence of Arab lands especially those of Sayf Al-Dawla, the governor of Aleppo, was glorified by the great Arab poet Al-Mutanabbi. A contemporary of Sayf Al-Dawla was his cousin Nasser Al-Dawla, the governor of Mosul.

However, Aleppo and Mosul, the largest second metropolises of Syria and Iraq respectively, the most beautiful, most culturally diverse, and socially sophisticated, are now in deep trouble. Aleppo is suffering a war of starvation and mass murder carried out by Bashar Al-Assad’s regime, Russia’s air force and Iran’s sectarian militias; and is threatened with one of the worst forced population exchange in the modern history of the Middle East since the Palestinian ‘nakbah’ in 1948. Mosul’s fate does look less tragic if ‘liberating’ it of ISIS is left to the sectarian ‘People’s Mobilization’ militia whose true identity became apparent after the massacres it committed in Al-Muqdadiyah and Al-Fallujah as well as other Sunni towns in Iraq.

It is not a coincidence that these two bastions of ‘Arabism’ are facing such a peril; nor is it surprising that the devastating storm blowing in the Middle East since 2003 is changing the demographic fabric of the region along with redrawing its maps and reapportioning foreign influence there. The two aforementioned cities share a demographic identity that best embody an unwanted status quo. A status quo that must be replaced as part of the new ‘plan’ designed for the region by the rising international and regional powers. Both Aleppo and Mosul have a Sunni Arab majority along with sizeable Christian and non-Christian, Arab and non-Arab minorities, within the two cities and in their surrounding areas, all living in peace and harmony for centuries.

What John Brennan, the Director of CIA, said the other day expressing his pessimism about the future of Syria, and his interesting insinuation to the possibility of partition is nothing but an admission of efforts being made by more than one side toward partitioning Iraq, and possibly, Turkey too; as well as preparing the ground for an independent Kurdish state that many within Syria and Iraq think its declaration is merely a matter of time. Indeed, the recent disturbances in Turkey, the repercussions of which may not end soon, confirm the dynamics of instability and change; more so as the international community stayed silent for too long as Syrian and Iraqi territories were being transformed into a mega-camp that attracts, gathers and trains radical Sunni groups as a prerequisite for the implementation and then justification of the new ‘plan’.

Today, Russia and the Al-Assad regime – which Russia insists it is not keen to keep in power – are working in tandem, with Iran’s military efforts, to create a new and dangerous demographic status quo in Syria, the high cost of which would be paid by the Sunni Arab majority. The first step on this route started in the city of Homs and its environs with well prepared and executed ethnic/sectarian cleansing aiming at strongly connecting the capital Damascus with the Syrian coastal region (with an Alawite majority) and Shi’ite-dominated Lebanon through Hezbollah, and then was completed by bolstering the defences in greater Damascus and its countryside.

Now, after uprooting and evicting around 13 million Syrians most of whom are Sunni Arabs, Al-Assad is cooperating with Moscow and Tehran, against a background of total international silence, in securing the expulsion of around 300 to 400 thousands from the besieged Opposition-controlled neighbourhoods of Aleppo, as they did to populations of the Aleppo countryside.

In Iraq too, following the ‘liberation’ of Al-Fallujah from ISIS, efforts are now gathering pace to liberate Mosul, which the extremist terrorist organization has turned into a major stronghold, rivalling its ‘capital’ the city of Al-Raqqah in Syria. Also in Mosul the international community does not seem to discount the possibility of a disastrous exodus from a city inhabited by around 1.5 million inhabitants. And as is the case with Al-Assad who would not have been able to achieve anything in Aleppo without strategic Russia air and Iranian land support, the Iraqi premier Dr Haider Abadi is so politically weak that on his own he can do nothing.

Thus, neither Abadi nor his senior cabinet members can decide anything in Iraq where Iran enjoys both immense military strength and a virtual American ‘carte blanche’ after the JCPOA, not forgetting the Kurdish Peshmerga militia which is now a fully-fledged army in a de facto independent ‘Iraqi Kurdistan’. Dr Abadi is too week to prevent the ‘People’s Mobilization’ militia from fighting in Mosul, and to decide the future of Mosul after ridding it of ISIS as well as a high percentage of its own people, when the time comes to draw the map of northern Iraq and define the relationship of the Kurds of Iraq with their brethren in northern Syria.

Given this worrying picture, one cannot but point out to a very important and negative factor, without which the conspiracy of uprooting and displacement would have been difficult to carry out. This factor is the presence of extremist foreign fighting groups that are alien to the fabric of the Arab east, but have come from all over the world declaring “support” (i.e. Nusra) of the people of Syria, or “fighting the infidels”, and claiming the founding of “The Islamic State” in Iraq. Incidentally, the main loser from what these groups have thus caused or achieved are the Arab Sunni Muslims of the region.

The announcement made by ‘Abu Mohammad Al-Jawlani’, a senior figure in Al-Nusra Front that his group has severed its links with Al-Qaeda and formed an unattached new organization called “Fateh Ash-Sham” only confirmed what it sought to dispel. ‘Al-Jawlani’ confirmed in his announcement all that was being said about Al-Qaeda being there in Syria, with all its discourse, slogans, objectives and infringements which do not conform with an all-encompassing, pluralistic, national Syrian state.

This meant he unwittingly was giving credence to claims long made by Moscow and others in western capitals that defeating the Syrian revolt was not only justified but also necessary, more so, after recent terrorist attacks in Europe and America in the age of ‘Islamophobia’!

(Source / 10.08.2016)

 

Written by altahrir

August 10, 2016 at 1:21 pm

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The media’s role in Yemen’s 500 days of war

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Media in Yemen

The war in Yemen is now 500 days old. That’s almost a year and a half of brutal war that is still raging. A war that has been immensely devastating and where now, according to the UN, the sheer scale of the humanitarian catastrophe and current numbers are not only astounding, but “they are also – simply stated – beyond the humanitarian community’s current capacity to respond”. A war that despite the violent deaths of thousands of civilians in what may amount to war crimes, the use of banned cluster munitions, and the worsening strife of millions of innocent civilians, remains almost invisible in the international media.

The UN estimates that 82% of the population is in need of some form of humanitarian assistance. That is 21.2 million people and almost double the number of those needing humanitarian aid in Syria. Within that 82%, 14.4 million people are unable to meet their food needs, 19.4 million lack clean water and sanitation, and 14.1 million are without adequate healthcare. There’s also at least 2.7 million internally displaced people (IDP) who often fled from one dangerous zone to one that is only less so due to the lack of and access to completely safe zones – there are recorded incidents where even IDP camps and refugees fleeing war were bombed as well.

A media conspiracy or business as usual?

Such horrific realities, solid statistics, and no less than 10 states openly involved in the war – yet Yemen is still underreported in the international media. One may, even if for a fleeting moment, entertain the possibility of an invisible and deliberate attempt at an information blackout. Especially so when realising that the heavyweight party in the conflict is a coalition of states with vast resources and who historically have strictly state-controlled media in their respective counties.

But as much as a wild theory of a sinister conspiracy is entertaining, total media control at a grand and global scale is neither possible, nor can the scant coverage of Yemen be attributed to such. The truth is, there are many reasons why Yemen is not prominently featured or making enough headlines. Those range from the level of interest of individual media outlets in the subject matter, to availability of credible information and enough comprehension of the ongoing conflict to report on it.

More importantly, since most of media have individually distinct slants, are subject-focused, region-centric, and profit-driven, reporting is to a degree influenced by value and return from investing in a story. To international media, the Yemen topic admittedly doesn’t register much on any scale.

Moreover, in a fast-paced society, the media understands that most people have a short attention span and hence each outlet will generally attune content to its own customer’s interests. In doing so, they will not highlight or delve into too much detail on a topic that is of little interest to their audience.

Yemen is a small and distant country, where poverty and turmoil are rampant, and a ripple impact of whatever has remotely transpired there has no bearing or repercussions at an audience’s home, hence it is unlikely to capture local attention anyway. Furthermore, the conflict in Yemen is complex and confusing, and covering it on general premise of educating audience on global events is still challenging and risky. It is challenging to report on it without access to the country or proper and credible sources on the ground, and risky because it could unintentionally misinform an audience with below-bar reporting and on issues that are of lesser interest to the audience to begin with.

There’s also a risk of stepping on the toes of parties who are involved in conflict or their global partners who may include local governments or businesses in the media’s headquarters. The Saudi-led coalition not only don’t like the slightest hint of negative reporting of its role in the conflict, but view it as a grave trespass on their own ‘private’ affairs. They will take personal offence and pursue to discredit, slander, and punish any who may have crossed a line by publicly criticising their actions in Yemen.

The worst part isn’t the scant reporting though; it’s the distorted reality projected by the media when they do bother to relay the news. If and when the media covers Yemen, the tendency to offer summaries to explain the war and using one-liners to describe the warring parties in their reports end up overly simplifying a complex conflict. One that has often been erroneously described as a war between an Iranian backed militia, which led a coup d’état and hijacked the state, and a Saudi-led coalition backing a popular national government to retake control of the state. A description that is not only wrong and far from the actual realities on the ground, but also subtly creates many false perceptions such as a heavy Iranian involvement and presence in Yemen. And despite minimal involvement, the mere mention of Iran then drags the discussion into a geopolitical and sectarian context, whereby bringing other prominent, regional players and states into the mix, with the spotlight gradually shifting to Hezbollah, Iraq, and Syria.

Eclipsed by Syria

The media’s extensive coverage of the tragedies and woes of Syria’s war has not only eclipsed Yemen, it has also led many whom have been desensitised by it to inadvertently belittle and dismiss that of Yemen’s war. The UN reported that 6,400 people have been killed and over 31,000 injured in Yemen, numbers that understandably seem low when compared to Syria’s war casualties. However, an off-handed comparison and contrasting of numbers in two column,s without understanding the source and limitations of the data is not only gravely erroneous, but is also cruelly dehumanising in treating the dead as mere digits.

As far as the integrity and range of the empirical data goes, the actual number of deaths in Yemen are “likely much higher” than the UN reported (6,400) given that those figures are only from records of functioning health facilities. There are few such facilities to begin with and deaths are often not reported to them. Additionally, the 6,400 figure excludes indirect causalities such as the UNICEF’s estimated 10,000 children under five-years-old who died from preventable diseases due to the collapse of the country’s health system during the past year of conflict.

Moreover, raw comparison of Syria’s final tally to that of Yemen’s in order to get a sense of the devastation and without taking into consideration parameters such as timeframe, context, and locale-unique elements, is both unrealistic and unfair. Syria’s war started in 2011 and is almost five times the period of that in Yemen which started in 2015. Beyond the variance of the time period of the war, the scale and complexity of the conflict, the number and nature of warring parties and the local dynamics that are unique to Syria are all contributing factors to the exponentially higher casualty rates when compared to Yemen.

There are many reasons why the Syrian conflict is dominating headlines and extensively covered by the media. The sheer scale of devastation, regional politics, threat of terror groups such as al-Qaeda and Isis are but a few of those. Moreover, though there are many shared roots and common traits between the various conflicts in the region, to inherently establish Syria’s as the control example and litmus test to gauge the rest, is overly simplistic and bordering on the imbecilic. Moreover, such an approach by the media not only overshadows other conflicts, but also leads the public to subconsciously downplay those others as lesser conflicts. No matter the size of the humanitarian catastrophe, they will still pale in comparison to Syria.

Just three weeks into the war in Yemen, having witnessed first-hand how the war was conducted, I warned that if it continued in the same manner it will soon lead to a Syrian scenario on steroids. Four months later, the UN announced that Yemen was already on the brink of famine. The head of the International Red Cross who visited Yemen at the time added that the five months of war in Yemen has already wrought destruction similar to that seen in Syria after five years.

But the potent statements made by officials at the highest of levels and the predicted sum of fears becoming a reality didn’t capture the media’s attention beyond fleeting reports that were often buried in the back pages. A picture of a drowned Syrian child washing ashore received far more media coverage in a week than Yemen did in a year. The global community’s reaction as well as that of individual states to Alyn Kurdi was immediate and immense. The thousands of children that died in Yemen were neither highlighted as much, nor garnered sympathetic reactions such as those that did when countries opened their doors for Syrian refugees.

I remember when a friend back then cynically remarked, “Perhaps the only way the West will pay attention to our strife is when bodies of our dead children wash up on their shores.”

It was a sentiment that was echoed by many in Yemen’s social media sphere at the time. Many whom, though sorry for Syria’s plight, were also angry that theirs was ignored. Many to whom a media conspiracy in the past was far-fetched, now wondered if the disproportionate coverage of Syria was circumstantial and unintentional, or rather an attempt to overwhelm the public with Syria’s woes just to divert attention away from the catastrophe that is Yemen.

The propaganda

There’s a staggering amount of misinformation, propaganda, and parachute journalism that makes it hard for the general public to decipher basic truths let alone form an overall opinion of the protracted and increasingly confusing conflict. The following are a few examples of false or skewed statements, propagated by the main parties of the conflict, in an attempt to influence and shape the public opinion.

  • The war in Yemen is going well and according to plan; the goals set at the campaign’s onset were achieved.

The war is not going well and has been facing mounting criticism from the international community and the UN, who have repeatedly highlighted the catastrophic impact of war and called for a political solution to end the conflict. There was no real plan or end game per se; more a set of actions decided at the time to be necessary and for myriad of reasons. The main goals of the Saudi-led coalition – that being destroying the military capacity of the Houthis and Saleh forces, pushing them out of cities including the capital Sana’a, and reinstating the Yemeni government currently in exile – have yet to be achieved despite declaring the military campaign successful and over in April 2015.

  • The war in Yemen is only hurting the Houthis.

According to President Hadi, Houthis are a small minority that only represents 10% of Sa’ada. Sa’ada is the Houthis’ home governorate and one of 21 in Yemen. The population in Sa’ada is roughly 800,000. However, the war is not just in Sa’ada, it is across Yemen and in other governorates too. The coalition’s airstrikes targeted roads, bridges, hospitals and critical infrastructure, while imposing a nationwide blockade. This campaign collectively punished and starved a poor nation that is heavily dependent on imports. This is a war that devastated the whole nation and now more than 80% of Yemen’s population need humanitarian aid. That is about 21.5 million people hurting, not just 80,000 Houthis.

  •  Iran is heavily involved in Yemen, providing extensive political, financial, and military support, and the Iranian army and intelligence officers are currently on the ground and fighting alongside Houthis.

The Saudi-led coalition and Yemeni government have been monotonously stressing the disastrous impact of Iran’s involvement and meddling in Yemen and claiming to possess solid evidence of such. A claim that has been widely echoed by their affiliates and media whom have additionally and repeatedly announced the killing and arresting Iranians in several locations across Yemen over the course of war. Unfortunately, not once was any solid evidence provided to back-up those statements and claims ever shared publicly. In the case of announcements declaring successful uncovering of Iranians operating in Yemen, the public was promised the release of names and pictures as soon as an investigation was completed. But after a few weeks of waiting, nothing was forthcoming except a similar announcement of yet another group of Iranians who were killed or captured. And just like the first group, the release of names and pictures would be ‘pending investigation’. Even now, there are merely vague reports of instances of Iranian groups in Yemen, but still no specific details, names, pictures, or proof.

This is why in most of interviews I did over the past year with international media, I was always asked, often with apparent scepticism, the question of Iranian presence inside Yemen. To which I would always stress the fact that there’s still no proof and that the shadow of Iran in Yemen is far bigger than the actual footprint. To drive this point home I would add that myself and many others on the ground, bearing witness to the war first-hand since the onset, are currently fairly confident that ‘there are more UFOs in Yemen than there are Iranians’.

  • The Yemeni government is legally legitimate, is representative of Yemen’s political factions, enjoys popular local support and has many loyalists on the ground.

There is a whole debate surrounding the ‘borrowed legitimacy’ of the Yemeni government and President Hadi. The disagreement revolves around the stature, duration, and interpretation of several consecutive agreements that were signed prior to the war. Agreements where, although the newest superseded the oldest, didn’t technically negate the predecessor but rather built upon them. Generally speaking, and without getting into the legal details, the agreements were essentially a deal between the opposing parties to form a temporary partnership government where power would be shared by the various signatories. The validity of the agreement and the legitimacy of the interim government created from it, is hence derived from the consensus and buy-in of the signatories.

Unfortunately, that consensus no longer exists, neither does a partnership government where the various parties are represented, nor is the buy-in from the original signatories to the agreements still present. Moreover, and to make matters worse, where there were a handful of parties who had entered into the signed agreements before the war, there are now more parties and factions due to the conflict. They neither recognise agreements previously signed nor agree to a partnership with the other factions.

In terms of wider public representation, it only exists by virtue of the unintended diversity of the current government members. Although cabinet members are considered public figures and come from range of backgrounds, they do not necessarily represent political parties they’re affiliated with, the constituencies of their own home regions or even opinions of groups with whom they may share a similar ideology. Members of the government were not publicly nominated nor voted into office by local constituencies. They were chosen and appointed by the President, mostly on premise of previously being a public figure where they can loyally serve his goals. The current Prime Minister for instance, is from the GPC party, one of the main and arguably the biggest parties in Yemen. But to claim he represents the GPC would be ludicrous. He was one of a handful of GPC members who fled Yemen to join the government in exile where he declared his own renegade faction of GPC loyal to the President.

Naturally, the local GPC party’s leadership officially expelled him from the party, and was he branded a traitor by the majority of members.

The dismal performance of the current government, a series of catastrophic missteps, excluding the main parties that were supposed to jointly create cabinet, failing to include or represent the other factions, and the failure to govern or deliver the most basic of services in areas presumed to be under their own full control, have all ultimately exposed the government’s incompetence. The government’s rapidly evaporating influence and clout led to a steep drop of public confidence in it. The exceedingly diminished local support is one of the main reasons why the government that was chased out of the country, is finding it increasingly challenging to return and operate from within their own territories. It mostly remains in exile, despite claiming control of 80% of Yemen.

  • There are two side to the current conflict.

The portrayal of the current conflict as being between two main groups, with the Yemeni government on one side and the Houthis on the other, does not compute when one takes a quick skim through the vastly divergent statements of the groups in the alleged two camps. That is because the fact is, the war was never two sided and groups were neither united nor had a common vision. They were more of temporary marriages of convenience against common foes and where uneasy partnerships were heavily dependent on the existence of a mutual threat. The individual parties had their own independent agendas, and more often than not publicly shared a different view from that of their partners on a number of issues other than that of eliminating their common enemy.

Such volatile and ad hoc partnerships run a high risk of unravelling as quickly as they formed as soon as the common enemy which sustained them disappeared. This is exactly what repeatedly happened on several battle fronts and regions in Yemen. The unusual alliance between the Southern resistance, al-Qaeda, other extremist groups, government-backed and coalition forces to fight the Houthis and Saleh out of Aden, fell apart as soon as they pushed their common foe out of the city, and factions turned against each other for Aden’s control.

There are now more parties and factions than when the war started, which means more divergent views and versions of any given event or story. The challenge of sorting through this wide array is further complicated by the lack of access to tenable and timely information due to the general absence of independent media or sources on the ground. And there’s only so much that a handful of credible sources, be it local voices or the few foreign journalists that pay short visits to Yemen, can do to keep track of and decipher the continuously changing landscape, let alone coherently relay enough detail of on-ground realities to highlight the complexity of the situation to the rest of the world.

The noise – ‘If you can’t convince them, you might as well confuse them’

A generally sensible story will often only get so far when most mediums carrying it have their own interests in certain parts of a story and not the entirety of it, and where covering or highlighting Yemen is irregular at best. Moreover, a story surviving the distortion of being editorially watered down or politically corrected, can easily be lost in the midst of the tens of other stories telling a different version of same; versions that are likely sensational, louder, and have been aggressively pushed out by resourceful parties with vested interests ensuring widest public reach. With the amount of media outlets, though reach will mostly contribute to spread and not create a general consensus, the many versions will still confuse the public.

Let’s use the experience of tuning in and listening to a radio channel as an example – some may bear with a little static noise when tuning in to a channel to listen to a specific or random program, some may attempt to fine tune, but having failed to find it audible and clear enough to one’s own liking, most people would eventually switch-off due to too much static or too many voices jumbled by interference of several channels with different frequencies now crossing over.

The noise from competing versions of Yemeni facts and stories may briefly amuse and attract the public’s attention. Nevertheless, the continued clamour and contradictory information will inevitably dull the interest of all but the most keen in getting down to the bottom of the story. Parties with a stake in the conflict and whom understand the public’s short attention span, having failed to kill a story or convince people of their own version of it, may easily resort to alternatively bombarding the public with conflicting reports. In doing so, even if it is not a complete success in driving away the public’s interest in a story, the parties will have at least confused enough people and hindered a general consensus where a public backlash and other ramifications would’ve been probable.

Press freedom and freedom of expression

The Arab world, a turbulent region dominated by police states and monarchies, is not exactly renowned for democracy or protection of public freedoms. Hence, it is not surprising when Arab states are usually at the bottom end of the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index: out of 180 countries, Yemen is globally ranked at 170, and Saudi Arabia leading a coalition of mainly Gulf monarchies, is ranked at 165.

In Yemen, while the constitution and laws did provide for freedom of expression, the regime limited that right in practice by instilling invisible red lines that were enforced extra-judicially. The way it worked was to subtly make everyone understand not to cross certain lines or touch a set of taboo topics (even if legally or constitutionally allowed to), for if you did it would be at one’s own peril. Rendering the parameters set within official laws irrelevant and where taboos and indivisible lines continuously shifted, the extent of one’s freedom of expression was directly proportional to one’s own clout or the power of influential people backing or protecting that person.

Pre-2011, the regime and Yemen’s traditional powers had common interests and were to varying degrees, partners. A freedom of expression allowing the crossing of lines may spark a domino effect where it would be inevitably harmful to the many. Consequently, protecting against mutually assured destruction, the elite were more or less united in quelling whoever would rock the boat. Post-2012 however, with that partnership broken and the unwritten contract voided, the traditional leaders and members of regime were swinging punches at each other and so were their people who included opinion makers, journalists, and their affiliated media outlets.

A report by Human Rights Watch on state of press freedom pre and post regime change in 2012 found that:

“While Yemenis generally enjoy greater freedom of expression since Hadi replaced Ali Abdullah Saleh as president in February 2012 after three decades of rule, this newfound freedom has been tempered by a rising incidence of threats and violence against the media. In the past, Yemeni journalists faced harassment from government security forces, but they now face threats from other quarters too, including supporters of the former government, Houthi rebels, southern secessionists and religious conservatives.”

But describing the public cacophony of divergent views and opinions as a “newfound freedom” is a bit misleading. These were voices coming from the recent state and party controlled media and where most owed allegiances to one or more of the many local powers. In a turmoil that highly polarised and split the nation, even the few previously and relatively independent voices had varying degrees of slant favouring one side of the conflict or another.

This wasn’t a case of the shackles coming off and newfound freedoms emerging, it was one where opposing factions loosened chains on their own affiliates and just enough for them to attack their opponents in what was essentially a propaganda pit fight.

Invisible lines defined a virtual battlefield where the fighting of opposing factions with guns on the ground was mirrored in the media by legions of journalists, analysts, and commentators. This is why though many are now able to openly criticize more factions, they generally avoid criticising their own and to varying degrees, their allies. Naturally, as reflected in Human Rights Watch’s report, they gained more enemies and were now susceptible to more attacks from more than one faction.

In such a hostile environment, journalists, activists, and opinion leaders who affiliated with foes were detained and/or forcibly disappeared. Independent voices were marginalised and systematically silenced through nationalistic campaigns that used the preservation of security and social stability as justification to unify messaging and hash out dissidents, on the premise that in emergency state of war an internal united front was a priority over independent voices that may highlight incite or inadvertently split ranks.

Factions that allowed open criticism of foes, also quickly cracked down on their own loyalists who, whether for sake of objectivity or genuine attempt at constructive criticism, made the deadly mistake of crossing lines during turbulent times where a faction’s positive image is to be maintained at all costs.

The silver lining 

The traditional media adopting unilateral views of their own respective parties and biased reporting not only failed in manufacturing consent and shaping public opinion, it also destroyed the credibility of individual outlets. For the people of Yemen and others whom had a keen interest in following the latest developments, especially the current war and its drastic updates, no matter how blind or ignorant they may have initially been, eventually caught on to the often deliberately distorted reporting.

The public, that in the past had assumed media reports generally held a certain level of slant but that the facts that were reported remained somewhat solid, naively presuming the media does not outright lie, were soon sceptically reviewing and individually taking each point within any given report with a pinch of salt.

The more reports that the public scrutinised, dissecting every bit of a story and verifying for themselves, the less faith they had in traditional media and official statements. A few days into the war and at the height of reporting on Yemen, many were glued to major media outlets like Al Arabiya TV for latest updates but soon realised coverage was disturbingly skewed to the point where wild claims and fake footage was shamelessly used.

The false reporting went unchecked and continued on the premise that the ends justified the means. Pan Arab channels like Al Arabiya, being Saudi controlled, were repurposed and used as propaganda podiums. Journalistic integrity no longer mattered and where facts were supposed to be reported, content was carefully crafted and sensationalised with the sole goal of tilting public opinion in favour of the Saudi-led coalition.

This is not to say that the local media did not also use similar modus operandi: both pro-Houthi and pro-Saudi Yemeni outlets heavily employed propaganda too and the agenda-laced reporting could not be relied upon for facts either. Ironically many, including people inside Yemen witnessing the war first hand, turned to international media for news, reasoning that such outlets would have a higher bar of integrity in reporting. But because international media scantily covered Yemen, and since most lacked access and relied on secondhand information, quite a few times got facts wrong, missed key issues, and with reporting that was often watered down, these sources were again not the best of reference for information.

A week into the war, the general lack of factual reporting was so bad I Tweeted:

“THE FIRST CASUALTY OF YEMEN WAR IS TRUTH. AMOUNT OF MISINFORMATION MIXED WITH PROPAGANDA & TOPPED OFF BY PARACHUTE JOURNALISM IS INSANE!”

The demand for alternative sources was both high and at times life-critical. Many took to the social media to cross-check facts and find people online who may be able to corroborate or provide more data on any given story or report.

Curiously enough, many of those who sought alternative sources online were actually residing in Yemen, but due to movement restrictions and other reasons where the war had pinned them down, they took to the virtual sphere for information and latest updates. By virtue of being on the ground and in publicly sharing and exchanging information on social media platforms such as Twitter, the people inadvertently became citizen investigative journalists, slowly building their own networks of reliable sources: a virtual web of contacts who they both fed on for credible and timely information as well as contributed to.

Where and when social media increasingly became the more reliable source for news as well as political views and analysis for Yemenis themselves, it was not long until the international media noticed the relative diversity of these new voices compared to the traditional and usual media figures.

The new Yemeni voices were on the ground, offered real and timely information from various parts of Yemen, and though not all free of bias, still provided a rich pool of local sources to draw facts and opinions from, which could lead to a better understanding and reporting of Yemen. Which is why many international NGOs and foreign press outlets have ever since utilised and incorporated the input of the non-traditional voices to offer an alternative version of Yemeni stories. Stories that were previously and up to recently, otherwise dominated by the mostly bipolar rhetoric of the main warring factions.

Yes, Yemenis are smarter today and no longer taking reporting at face value, but now they are also overly-suspicious of most Yemen-related media reports. Yes, there are new voices and sources of information, but the momentum and impact of these are not yet strong enough to affect a major change in public perspective.

Yes, there’s a relative freedom of expression on social media, but although the political factions have to varying degrees tolerated this, there were cases where they brutally cracked down on opinion makers. Yes, the monopoly of traditional media has been broken, but so too was the public’s trust in the many outlets which peddled misinformation.

No faction won the propaganda war. Neither did any side win the actual war, nor the hearts and minds of the people of Yemen.

(Source / 09.08.2016)

Written by altahrir

August 9, 2016 at 9:26 pm

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Analysis: Israel’s double standard on the use of human shields

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Zionist Merkava tank

An Israeli soldier walks past a Merkava tank after returning from the Gaza Strip during the 2014 war in the Palestinian enclave

By Ben White

Despite the fact that Israeli officials repeatedly alleged that Palestinian factions used human shields as a matter of policy in summer 2014, there is little to no evidence that the crime of human shields, as defined under international law, was committed by Hamas or other groups. Even if human shields were used, this would not have absolved Israel from responsibility for obeying the law. There is evidence that sufficient precaution was not taken with regards to launching attacks in close proximity to non-combatants — though even the Israeli army itself only claims that 18 percent of rockets were fired “from civilian facilities.” Thus, given Israeli propaganda’s reliance on this trope, the paucity of evidence for Palestinians using human shields is striking.Meanwhile, however, there is reliable, copious documentation of Israeli forces using human shields over many years. As summarized by Israeli NGO B’Tselem, during the Second Intifada, which began in September 2000, “the Israeli military used Palestinian civilians as human shields” as the “implementation of a decision made by senior military authorities.” According to officials, by the time that Israel’s Supreme Court declared the policy unlawful in 2005, the Israeli army had made use of human shield procedures on 1,200 occasions over the preceding five years.Yet despite the court ruling, there have been numerous documented examples of the practice persisting. In November 2006, Israeli soldiers used a Palestinian man as a human shield during a military operation in Bethlehem. In 2007, B’Tselem documented 14 instances of the use of human shields — including two children in Nablus. In October 2007, the now deputy head of the Israeli military, Yair Golan, was subjected to a mere ‘rebuke’ for ordering soldiers to use human shields. (When two soldiers were convicted of using a Palestinian child as a human shield during ‘Operation Cast Lead’, they were sentenced to a three-month suspended sentence and demoted.)This kind of impunity was condemned by the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child in June 2013, citing 14 cases of “Palestinian children” being used as “human shields and informants” from January 2010 to end of March 2013. Yet despite international opprobrium, the examples have continued: in April 2013, Israeli soldiers used a handcuffed Palestinian teenager as a human shield while firing on protesters in the West Bank, while in July 2014, soldiers “force[d] a family member to escort them” during a house raid in Hebron.Indeed, all of the charges made by Israeli spokespersons against Palestinian factions — with little or no supporting evidence beyond creative cartoons or infographics — have their parallels in documented crimes of the Israeli army. Using homes for military operations? The Israeli army occupies and converts Palestinian houses into outposts while the residents are confined to a certain section of the property. Disguising yourself as non-combatants to commit violent attacks? In November 2015, Israeli occupation forces dressed as civilians — including one as a pregnant woman in a wheelchair — during a raid on a Hebron hospital where they shot dead a man in cold blood.Israeli forces have also used human shields during invasions of Gaza. In July 2006, for example, soldiers in Beit Hanoun held six civilians, including two children, “at the entrance to rooms in which the soldiers positioned themselves, for some twelve hours,” during “intense exchanges of gunfire between the soldiers and armed Palestinians.” The Goldstone report also documented incidents during ‘Operation Cast Lead’ in which civilians “were blindfolded and handcuffed as they were forced to enter houses ahead of the Israeli soldiers.” The UN fact-finding mission behind the report concluded that “this practice amounts to the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields,” and that “it would not be difficult to conclude that this was a practice repeatedly adopted…during the military operation in Gaza.”’Operation Protective Edge’ was no exception to the Israeli army’s track record of using Palestinian civilians as human shields. In one account recorded by Defense for Children International – Palestine, Israeli soldiers “repeatedly used” a 17-year-old Palestinian “as a human shield for five days,” forcing him at gunpoint “to search for tunnels,” and subjecting him to physical abuse. The NGO’s executive director, Rifat Kassis, noted how “Israeli officials make generalized accusations [of Hamas fighters using human shields] while Israeli soldiers engage in conduct that amounts to war crimes.”The UN Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict noted “reports of the use of human shields [by Israeli soldiers] in the context of the search operations” on the ground in Gaza. The commission cited one case where Israeli forces were “shooting from behind…naked men, using them as human shields” for hours. The men were “told by the soldiers that they were placed by the window in order to deter Hamas fighters from returning fire.” The commission concluded that “the manner in which the Israeli soldiers forced Palestinian civilians to stand in windows, enter houses/underground areas and/or perform dangerous tasks of a military nature, constitutes a violation of the prohibition against the use of human shields contained in article 28 of Geneva Convention IV, and may amount to a war crime.”

(Source / 08.08.2016)

Written by altahrir

August 8, 2016 at 9:38 pm

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When Militia Turns into Army

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Two days after the leakage of an official ministerial order issued by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, which states that the Shiite militia, known as the Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces), will officially become part of the Iraqi army and will play a similar role as the current Iraqi counter-terror agency, Head of militia Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada Abu Ala al-Waeli said that this militia is formed in link with Velayat-e faqih in Iran (Wilayat al-Faqih) and not to floundering of politicians in Iraq.

This frank announcement summarizes the chaotic and terrifying situation reached by Iraq, which not only has faced the regular Iranian interference in its internal affairs and Tehran’s control over Baghdad’s decisions in the Arab League, but also is experiencing a cloned new Revolutionary Guards that structurally follows the Commander in Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces, while – actually – follow the orders given by Qassem Soleimani, leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Notably, Soleimani is the field leader for the Iraqi Popular Mobilization forces, and he receives orders directly from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Perhaps what is deplorable is that the majorities of Iraqi Shiite militias are loyal to Khamenei rather than to the Iraqi reference Ali al-Sistani.

Inimitable countries that look into the future with insightful vision in order to preserve the society and prevent the risk of civil wars do not allow the establishment of militias despite the purpose of their formation and do not grand armed groups authority over the state powers.

What if these militias were originally sectarian and factional?

Regarding the attempt of Iraqi government to turn the Shiite militia forces, which is the first informal military power formed in Iraq’s modern history since the establishment of the army in 1921, into an official army instead of integrating it with army forces and police, this will ignite a fire that will be very difficult to set off by Iraqis themselves.
This attempt will also contribute in expanding chaos and deepening sectarian division in the country.
Instead of fighting ISIS and extremist Sunni groups, the world will find itself in another fight against extremist Shiite militias, which extremism of course differ in structure.

However, Popular Mobilization forces differ from other militias and are distinguished as they fall under the government’s umbrella, in which they are armed, financed and politically supported.

In addition to that, these militias increase tension and sectarianism in the country and are not controlled by the government.
For instance, when revising the statement issued by leader of the League of the Righteous (Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq) militia Qais Khazali after revoking Bahraini nationality from Issa al-Qassem, the militia’s leader said that his militia is thinking about interfering in Gulf States.

He said back then: “Large part of Resistance factions’ formations believe that their second duty, in addition to the Hashd al-Shaabi, is supporting people in Bahrain, al-Ahsa and Qatif in case the enemy crossed the red lines.”

The real danger facing the whole region is that more than 20 Iraqi armed militias form together the Popular Mobilization, including Badra, Kataib Hezbollah, Saraya al-Khorasani, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and others.

All these militias are officially, religiously and ritually linked to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, which comes in line with Iran’s strategy to empower militias to overcome the state’s official forces aiming at maintaining its interests and power.

Moreover, by Iran dividing the Iraqi army and establishing an equivalent force that dominates the official army in equipment and number, it is allowing itself to continue controlling Iraq politically and militarily.

This is what United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey D. Feltman confirmed in his report, which stated that: “Iran has violated international law by sending weapons to militias in Iraq.”

The world has underestimated calls that warned from ISIS’s terrorism when it was barely found and did not wake up until this terrorist organization has expanded to all continents and is spreading terror.

Popular Mobilization is another copy for ISIS, yet it is hiding its terrorism and brutality.

One day, the world will wake up to witness the expansion of the Hashd al-Shaabi, which follows the path of Iranian Revolutionary Guards militia, Hezbollah and Houthis.

Terrorism will expand even more as long as the world criminalizes Sunni terrorist groups while turning a blind eye for the Shiite terrorist groups.

(Source / 07.08.2016)

Written by altahrir

August 7, 2016 at 8:33 pm

Posted in Opinion others

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