New Age Islam Edit Bureau
1 February 2016
ISIS Supporters in the Delivery Room!
By Turki Al-Dakhil
Why the Syria Talks Remind Me of The
By Marwan Bishara
Kurds in Turkey: Caught In The
By David Lepeska
Western Powers Shamefully Kowtow To
By Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor
Where Is The West's Compassion And
Condemnation Following Terror Attacks In Middle East?
By Eva Bartlett
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
31 January 2016
We should be thankful that the Friday’s
terrorist attack on Imam Rida mosque – located in the Mahasen neighbourhood of
al-Ahsa region in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia – failed to achieve what
it was intended for. If the attack had gone according to plan, the loss of
lives and damages would have been far worse.
The Board of Senior Ulema condemned the
attack and said that remaining silent in the wake of such heinous crimes are
not an option. The late King Abdullah once said: “He who remains silent over
these (terrorist) people’s acts is one of them.” Some of those who remain
silent are in fact supporters of ISIS and are waiting to be born.
ISIS is trying to incite strife between
Shiites and Sunnis in Saudi Arabia
ISIS wants to force Shiites in Saudi Arabia
away from their homeland by targeting them and pushing them to join certain
elements outside of the country. However, it will not succeed at doing so.
It will not succeed because the Saudi
Arabia will defend its land by standing against the enemy and its
organizations. In 2001, the al-Qaeda strategy was to exploit Saudis and use
them for marginal roles in the Sept. 11 terror attacks with the aim of harming
Creating The Divide
Today, the ISIS is doing the same by trying
to incite strife between Shiite and Sunni Saudis. They are trying to create
rift between Shiites and the Saudi state.
When Juhayman al-Otaybi’s group stormed the
Grand Mosque in 1979, Islamic scholar Mohammad Nasiruddin al-Albani condemned
the attack against worshippers. “This is a crime even if carried out in the
desert, let alone in the house of God.”
In the year 1994, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi,
the intellectual godfather of al-Qaeda, authorized for terror groups to target
mosques and worshipers. In other words, they have targeted everything Islam
seeks to protect, the self, faith, dignity, intelligence and resources.
What caliphate do they speak of? Which
doctrine do they defend? “May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded?”
Turki Al-Dakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He
began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the
Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily
Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio
correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He
proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news
channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya
talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab
and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also
owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in
Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad
Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and
advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.
31 Jan 2016
On the day the Geneva talks on Syria were
set to begin, France announced it intends to hold a new round of Oslo talks on
Palestine. The Oslo Process has gone on for almost a quarter of a century but
Palestine remains under Israel occupation.
Will the Syria peace talks face a similar
fate - long on talk, short on peace?
My crystal ball isn't responding with its
usual clarity, but what is becoming clear is an eerie resemblance between the
forces, dynamics and diplomatic jargon that characterise both Geneva and Oslo.
There are similarities and differences but
when it comes to the scope of the violence and the ineffectiveness of
diplomacy, the similarities are all too shocking even before the Geneva talks
Like Israel, the Assad regime has
imprisoned, tortured, starved, killed, and bombed neighbourhoods, but the
barrel-bombing of towns is Bashar al-Assad's ingenuity and should be trademarked
Since the peaceful Syrian uprising began in
2011, the regime in Damascus has grabbed more than a page from Israel's
occupation manuals. He labeled the peace demonstrators foreign-backed
terrorists. He even called them "germs" (leading to cries of
solidarity between Syria's "germs" and Libya's "rats").
It's perhaps coincidental that the Assad
dictatorship has been in control of Syria since a year after Israel occupied
the rest of Palestine in 1967, but it's been no less tragic.
Like Israelis who "shoot and
cry", Assad & co. also bomb and lament. Their cynicism has proven
without bounds as they pride themselves on killing "terrorists" as
they destroy a whole nation, and in the case of Assad, it's his own people.
A quarter of a million Syrians have already
died in Assad's war, which also resulted in the displacement and exodus of half
of its population. In four years, Assad forces killed more people than Israel
killed Palestinians in four decades.
And unlike the Israeli leaders who never
accepted foreign forces, not even US forces or air forces were ever allowed to
deploy in Israeli controlled areas, Assad has evidently been trigger happy that
Iran, Hezbollah and Russia have all accepted his invitation to deploy.
Together, they helped destroy the country in order to save the regime.
For these and other sinister reasons, Assad
has lost all legitimacy, even as a sovereign dictator. For all practical
purposes, he, his forces and his allies are behaving like an illegal occupying
force, or worse.
The Geneva talks come against the backdrop
of US failure in Iraq and Russian and Iranian military interventions that are
tipping the balance of power in favour of the Assad regime.
Like In Diplomacy
Diplomatic processes compare and contrast
depending on a number of variables, but in essence, diplomacy is a reflection
of balance (or imbalance) of power. (And when it comes to the Middle East, you
could add the balance of bullsh*t - a powerful diplomatic tool that the
Israelis and Assad often use.)
The Madrid and later the Oslo "peace
process" started against the backdrop of the Soviet Union's loss of the
Cold War and Moscow's realignment with Washington's policies, which favoured
The Geneva talks come against the backdrop
of US failure in Iraq and
Russian and Iranian military interventions that are tipping the balance
of power in favour of the Assad regime.
and its realignment with Moscow made it possible to pass UN Security
Council Resolution 2254 that frames these talks in favour of the Assad regime.
Like the Oslo process, the sponsors of the
Geneva talks say there should be no preconditions for the Syria talks.
For the Palestinians, that basically meant
continued Jewish settlement expansion on their land, continued occupation and
the incarceration of thousands of political prisoners etc. For Syrians, it
means continued bombardment, and imprisonment under Assad's rule.
In reality, however, there are
preconditions. Like the Palestinians, the Syrian opposition must denounce and
renounce "terrorism" if they are to join the talks, but the regime is
invited as a legitimate partner in the these talks despite its continued
"terrorism" in the form of aerial bombardment and the starvation of
For the Syrians like the Palestinians, the
objectives of the talks have been blurred and the road to achieve them marred
with ambiguity and this only serves the Israeli and Syrian regimes.
In that way, the end of all occupation and
the establishment of a Palestinian state were omitted from the Oslo process.
And for Syrians, neither 2254 nor the official invitation to the Geneva talks,
mention the need for Assad to go.
Indeed, like in Palestine where the PLO was
forced to share power with the Israeli occupation until it acquiesces to
Israeli dictates and accepts restrictions on its sovereignty, the Syrian
opposition is now expected to share power with Assad in some form of
"unity government", instead of the original understanding agreed upon
in Geneva-1, that stipulates a transitional ruling body with executive powers
An overview of the room where UN mediator
Staffan de Mistura and the Syrian ambassador to the UN opened the Syrian peace
talks at the UN headquarters in Geneva [Reuters]
In both cases, the ultimate objective of
the talks is neither freedom nor justice, but rather "combating
As with the condition and objectives of the
talks, there are also increasing similarities in the diplomatic jargon.
Proximity talks, no preconditions, moderate
(and not-so-moderate) representation, Washington guarantees, multi-track
discussions, simultaneous meetings, flexible framework, etc., might be familiar
concepts in international diplomacy, but in Palestine and Syria, these are only
meant to avoid pressuring the Israelis or the Assads to do the right thing:
Even the role of the envoys is no less
eerie. Unlike his predecessors, Kofi Annan and Lakhdar Brahimi, Staffan de
Mistura is already behaving like a crossway between a scheming Dennis Ross and
a bombastic Tony Blair.
Learning the Right Lessons
Why the impatience? Why not wait until the
process gets underway to pass judgments? The same questions were also asked
when the Oslo process began.
Since it's power that ultimately determines
the outcome of diplomacy, unless the imbalance of power behind the Syria talks
is rectified, Geneva, like Oslo, is doomed to fail.
By adopting a similar approach to Syria,
one assumes the US and Russia have failed to learn the lessons of Oslo; a
failed process that lasted over two decades and achieved more of the same
failures and violence.
perhaps they did learn the lessons, albeit the wrong lessons. Long
diplomatic processes, like proxy wars, are indispensable tools for prolonging
their hegemony over the Middle East region.
Marwan Bishara is the senior political analyst at Al Jazeera.
Kurds in Turkey: Caught In The Crossfire
Early one morning in Diyarbakir last
October, Halil Tuzuner, a 31-year-old construction worker, was on his roof
tending to his pigeons when a bullet from a Turkish military assault team on
the street below pierced his back and took his life. His stunned, pregnant wife
Hulya found him minutes later.
Soon after, the newly-widowed
mother-of-three gathered her young sons and moved to new lodgings on the edge
of central Diyarbakir - or Sur, as the old city is known - and did her best to
"It's so difficult", the
25-year-old said during a recent interview, sitting on the carpeted floor of
her modest new home as her sons clambered all over her, and her now
one-month-old daughter slept in the next room. "You can't understand how
difficult it is without him. I haven't even been able to go to the cemetery to
For two months now, the heart of
Diyarbakir, a city of a million people and the de facto Kurdish capital of
Turkey, has been under 24-hour curfew and near-constant military assault. Some
20,000 people have fled, 1,500 shops have closed or been destroyed, and 10,000
people have been put out of work, according to local estimates.
Both Sides to Blame
Those who remain face limited water and
electricity and are largely trapped in their homes due to regular blasts and
the rat-tat-tat of gunfire. Hulya has barely left the house in months.
Thankfully, Halil's older brother, Aziz, who has three children and lives
nearby, has been helping her, caring for his brother's kids as if they were as
his own. Like Hulya, he's tired of the fighting between the Turkish state and
Despite their frustrations, young Kurdish
fighters need to stop declaring self-rule and commandeering urban districts,
while the PKK would be wise to stop bombing police stations. And with no
elections on the horizon, Turkey's leaders should stop politicising the Kurdish
conflict, pull back in the southeast and resume peace talks.
"Both sides are just playing for their
own nationalism, and both have their reasons," he said. "They might
be right, they might be wrong - but both sides are killing people. And we, the
people who live here, are in the middle of it. The minute we stop moving, we
There have been a lot of targets in cities
across the region. Turkey's Human Rights Association says nearly 200 civilians
have been killed, including 33 children. Ankara says since December 2015, it
has killed more than 600 fighters from the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK,
which Turkey, the United States, and the European Union have labelled a
More than 100,000 people have been
displaced, and entire neighbourhoods destroyed. Recent images out of Sur,
Cizre, and Silopi invoke the devastation of neighbouring Syria. It all started
last August, when Kurdish activists declared autonomous zones in cities across
Ankara responded with a harsh crackdown,
prompting young militants linked to the PKK to secure central urban districts,
digging trenches, building makeshift barricades and commandeering shops and
apartments to defend territory they see as under self-rule.
The Turkish state turned the screws,
implementing 24-hour curfews and dispatching tanks, urban assault vehicles and
waves of troops to root them out, street by street. "You will be annihilated
in those houses, those buildings, those ditches which you have dug,"
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said recently, warning that military operations
would continue until the area had been "cleansed" of
Reminiscent Of The Past
Turkey and the PKK have fought an
off-and-on war since 1984, and in that time, no government had made as much
progress towards peace as that of Erdogan's Justice and Development Party
But after two years of negotiations, the
violence resumed last July, when Kurdish militants assassinated two policeman
days after a bombing in Suruc killed 33 people who had come to help rebuild the
besieged Syrian Kurdish city of Kobane.
Now, the two sides seem farther apart than
they've been in decades. Kemal Oyman has been repairing watches in Sur for 35
years, and has never seen violence like this in Diyarbakir. "Both sides
are to blame," says the 68-year-old. "I hope it will get better
But chances of the situation improving are
slim. Last Wednesday, Turkey extended the curfew to five new neighbourhoods in
Sur, after which dozens of families were seen lugging their belongings through
the old city's massive, UNESCO-listed stone walls, heading for safer ground.
Among Kurds in Diyarbakir, the consensus
seems to be that, rather than undermining the militants and muting anti-Turkey
sentiment among Kurds, Ankara's recent operations in the southeast have
"Everything changed with this kind of
operations, especially among the people in these neighbourhoods," said veteran
Kurdish journalist Vecdi Erbay. "Now there's more anger. Also, these
fighters getting killed, and their bodies in the street, just lying there, for
days - this is something people won't forget."
On such instance is the death of Mesut
Seviktek, whose dead body laid on a Sur street for three weeks, inspiring his
brother Ihsan - as well as his mother and sister - to go on a 20-day hunger
strike. Finally, the state allowed the family to collect Seviktek's body and
bury him. Ihsan's eldest son, a 14-year-old, recently left home to join the
fighting, following in the footsteps of two of Ihsan's younger brothers.
"I have six children and eleven
younger sisters and brothers, and if all of them made the same decision. I
would support them because all of them are slaves here," says Ihsan, a
42-year-old shopkeeper. "We never know when or how we will die, but at
least this way it is honourable. We won't fall on our knees for the AKP
Negotiations, No More
The militants' tactics seem to have had a
similar impact on Turkey's leaders. Erdogan has said the state would
"bring the whole world down" on those who seek autonomy, and that
from now on, neither the PKK nor any related political party would be accepted
as a negotiating partner. "That affair is over," he told a group of
village heads visiting his presidential palace.
Ankara's determination to beat back the
Kurds has given the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group room to
operate, resulting in at least three major attacks over the past seven months.
Consider the way Erdogan focused on the PKK in the speech he delivered just
after the January 12 attack in Istanbul. Or how he all but dismissed
pro-Kurdish politician and activist Leyla Zana's recent request for a
This will enable its military, security,
and intelligence bodies to focus on the greater threat, ISIL, and the root
issue, Syria. Otherwise, the divide will only deepen, spurring another generation
to take up the gun against Ankara.
Somehow, Ihsan Seviktek can still see the
two sides sitting down again. "This war mentality belongs to the AKP
government, not the Turkish people," he said. "That's why I have
hope, because I know there are millions and millions of people in this country
that want peace, not war."
David Lepeska is a freelance journalist based in Istanbul. His work
focuses on Turkey and the Middle East.
Western Powers Shamefully Kowtow To Iran
1 January 2016
Iran’s treasury is overflowing. President
Hassan Rowhani, touring European capitals on a shopping spree, is being treated
like royalty. Italy was so keen not to offend the sensitivities of their guest
that white panels were placed around ancient statues in a museum and was
rewarded for its hospitality with deals totalling over $18 billion. French
government welcomed Rowhani promising a new beginning in relations prior to the
mutual signing of 20 lucrative agreements worth billions.
They say money talks. This time it is
shouting out loud, trumping Europe’s so-called values and its tried and trusted
friends. Forgotten is Iran’s shocking human rights record along with its
proxies, aggression towards Saudi Arabia and Gulf states; concerns regarding
its partnership with the Syrian regime conveniently shelved. Ignored are the
Ayatollah Khamenei’s chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”.
Glossed over are its repression of the Iranian people and its relegation of
minorities, such as the Ahwazi Arabs, to third class citizen status.
It was left to ordinary citizens who took
to the streets of Paris and Rome as well as children in the bombed-out Syrian
city of Aleppo to vent their anger at Rowhani’s grand European tour. “Ask Iran
to stop killing us in our country” read the children’s posters. But Italy and
France had more important priorities. This was not the moment for
finger-wagging in their view when the Iranian President was poised to sign on a
whole host of dollar illuminated dotted lines.
It is as if we have woken up to find
ourselves in a parallel universe where everything we hold dear has been
reversed. Iran signed up to abandoning a nuclear weapons program it had binned
in 2009 according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, and is promptly
welcomed into the international community fold like a long lost favorite son
flush with a bonanza of up to $100 billion and the opening of doors to oil, gas
and trade deals.
As if the sight of European heads of state
curry favoring the representative of a country considered enemy state few
months ago is not humiliating enough, the United States is accepting Iran’s
retorts with a virtual “Thank you, Sir!”
Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry
have robbed the American people of their pride
First we hear that Iran detained 10 U.S.
naval personnel whose vessel “accidentally” strayed into Iranian waters. They
were made to kneel with their hands behind their heads on the deck of their own
ship before being paraded on Iranian State TV to offer apologies. Quite a
propaganda coup for Iranian authorities and the hordes of anti-Western hard
liners! And even as Iran was milking their captives’ humiliation for all its
worth, the White House assured Americans thus: “We do not see this as hostile
intent. They have been well treated.”
And now we read the headlines. “Iran warned
U.S. warship to leave waters near the Strait of Hormuz” is followed by a report
beginning, “Iran navy warned a U.S. warship on Wednesday to leave waters in the
Sea of Oman near an area where the Islamic Republic was performing military
drills.” The U.S. vessel beat a hasty retreat even though it was in
international waters and was later accused by Iran’s fleet commander of spying
on Iran’s activities.
The question now for Saudi Arabia and Gulf
states, which have been assured by President Barack Obama that their security
is paramount, is how can the U.S. cooperate with us against Iranian designs
when its own navy appears all at sea and its Commander-in-Chief hails the new
détente and makes excuses for Iran’s behaviour?
How much pride is the most powerful
country, with the strongest military on earth, willing to swallow and why is
Obama doing his utmost to keep the ayatollahs pleased? It is hard to believe
that the U.S. that has always flexed its muscles to save a single American
citizen is now making prisoner swap deals to release seven dual nationals.
A top Iranian commander reportedly
disclosed that an amount of $1.7 billion was paid in exchange for their
freedom. The State Department issued a statement to the effect the amount was
paid in relation to a pre-1979 case related to a sale of military equipment
plus $1.3 billion in negotiated interest. That is a pretext to cover America’s
long-held policy of not paying rogue states or terrorists to avoid encouraging
further trouble. But when the payment was purportedly due in the 1970s, only a
simpleton would forget to ask “why now?”
It is little wonder Rowhani’s smile is wide
these days when billions are pouring in courtesy of the Obama administration
that initiated the sanctions-lifting and the unfreezing of Iranian assets, a
hefty portion of which will be spent on bolstering Iran’s military capability
and militias on Arab lands.
Iran’s policies towards the West and its
meddling in the affairs of Arab states remain unchanged. Its leaders’ rhetoric
may have softened temporarily as they are desperate to revitalize their
country’s aviation industry with new airplanes and spare parts, not to mention
securing buyers for its oil and other commodities. They must be chuckling
seeing the haste with which major European states are racing to re-open their
embassies in Tehran while showering the Iranians with praise and invitations
for state visits.
The Upper Hand
Let us face it, Iran has gained the upper
hand merely because it has agreed to more intrusive IAEA monitoring for a
10-year period and has put a percentage of its centrifuges to bed. Obama and
Secretary of State John Kerry have robbed the American people of their pride.
They have diminished the international standing of their great nation that not
so long ago inspired respect and instilled fear in the hearts of its enemies.
Obama has been widely accused of leading
from behind on foreign policy. Not so today! He is the one who is being led and
if GCC member states fail to recognize how the Obama administration is
wittingly or unwittingly altering the regional order, I am afraid we may be
being led toward disaster.
It seems an age ago since the Muslim world
was excited hearing Obama’s promises made during a visit to Cairo University in
2009. He called for a new beginning between the United States and Muslims. He
pledged to give Iraq to the Iraqis whereas it is a de facto province of Iran.
He pledged to pursue a Palestinian state with patience and dedication, which
has now been scrubbed off his “to-do” list.
He later stepped back from rescuing the
Syrian people and played his part in toppling of Muammar Qaddafi before
abandoning that country to armed militias and terrorists. He is now complicit
in furthering Iran’s territorial and ideological ambitions.
I can only respectfully ask GCC heads of
states to take a long hard look at the big picture and take decisions
accordingly. If America continues to bend to Tehran’s diktats perhaps it is
time to re-evaluate our relationship with Washington. A friend who plays both
sides is no friend at all.
Khalaf Ahmad al-Habtoor is a prominent UAE businessman and public figure.
He is Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group - one of the most successful
conglomerates in the Gulf. Al Habtoor is renowned for his knowledge and views on
international political affairs; his philanthropic activity; his efforts to
promote peace; and he has long acted as an unofficial ambassador for his
country abroad. Writing extensively on both local and international politics,
he publishes regular articles in the media and has released a number of books.
Al-Habtoor began his career as an employee of a local UAE construction firm and
in 1970 established his own company, Al Habtoor Engineering. The UAE
Federation, which united the seven emirates under the one flag for the first
time, was founded in 1971 and this inspired him to undertake a series of
innovative construction projects – all of which proved highly successful.
31 January, 2016
Facebook users were not instructed to do
so, but may nonetheless wish to change their profile pictures in solidarity
with the families and friends of victims of recent terrorist attacks.
A great many of the victims were aspiring
university students, others were school teachers, children, infants, parents,
and elderly. Their bodies were torn apart in the acts of violence, many
Most of these innocent victims will go
unnamed, their murders obfuscated, or largely unnoticed, in Western media.
Consider the following cycle of carnage:
On November 12, 2015, a double suicide bomb
ripped through the Bourj al-Barajneh neighbourhood of southern Beirut, killing
45 and injuring 200 more, many critically so. The terrorists attacked just
before 6 pm, on a narrow and crowded residential and commercial street,
ensuring maximum loss of life. More would have been murdered had not a local
man, Adel Termos, tackled an approaching suicide bomber. Termos lost his life
in the blast, but saved countless others with his act of courage.
On December 12, 2015, terrorists
car-bombed, then suicide-bombed, the al-Zahra’a neighbourhood of Homs, Syria,
killing at least 16 civilians and injuring over 50, according to initial
reports from Syrian State media (later updates noted 20 dead and over 100
injured). The deaths and destruction from the initial car-bombing—near the Ahli
Hospital—was made worse since the terrorists set off their bomb next to a
natural gas delivery truck. Later, a terrorist returned to the scene and
detonated his explosive vest among rescuers who had come to help the injured.
This pattern repeated itself on December
28, 2015, in al-Zahra’a, where a car bomb followed by a suicide bomb, killed up
to 30 civilians, and injured over 100, according to Syrian state media initial
reports. Again, on January 26, terrorists car and suicide bombed al-Zahra’a,
killing at least 24 and injuring over 100, many critically-so, according to
Syrian state media.
The al-Zahra’a district of Homs had been
terror-bombed many times prior to the December 12 attacks, as have other areas
of Homs, including the Ekrama district, which suffered a school bombing on
October 1, 2014. There, terrorists car and suicide-bombed next to the school,
killed 45 people, mostly children and women, according to al-Masdar News. Video
footage showed terrified, maimed and dead children being carried away from the
The terror attacks are not limited to Homs.
Over the past 5 years of this foreign war on Syria, Western-backed militants
have committed such acts of terrorism all over Syria. On December 30, 2015,
members of Da’esh (ISIS) triple-bombed Qamishli, north-eastern Syria,
remote-detonating explosives in three restaurants, killing at least 16
civilians. On January 24, 2016 Da’esh again terror-bombed the city, killing at
least three people.
The list of terror attacks in Syria, and
neighbouring Lebanon and Iraq, is an endless and long list. Yet, while the vast
majority of the victims are civilians, their deaths do not merit the same
front-page coverage as similar acts do in the West; the terror attacks do not
merit the same statements of condemnation and outpouring of sorrow issued by
Western leaders when terrorism strikes elsewhere.
Immense Suffering in Beirut and Homs
I paid a visit to Bourj al-Barajneh and
al-Zahara, in November and December 2015, respectively. I witnessed firsthand
their narrow roads with their destroyed buildings and homes, which emanated an
immense suffering that most Western media glossed over.
The Bourj al-Barajneh tragedy occurred one
day before the November 13 attacks in Paris, yet the latter attack on the
French capital would make headlines for weeks following; Facebook users changed
their profile photos to images of the French flag; world leaders – who were
largely silent on Beirut’s tragedy the day prior, as well as the repeated
terror attacks in Syria – convened in Paris to march in solidarity with the
Western media’s coverage of the Beirut
attack was loaded with sectarian lexicon, essentially relegating those murdered
civilians as belonging to a “Hezbollah stronghold” or a “Shia neighbourhood,”
which to Western readers obscures the fact that – while indeed proudly
supportive of Hezbollah – these are everyday humans who have been targeted by
The Shia/Sunni Lebanese area is also home
to many Christian and Palestinian residents. Visiting in the evening, as when
the November 12 attacks occurred, I saw heavy pedestrian, motorcycle and
automobile traffic along the narrow streets and lanes that host a number of
shops and stalls.
At the site of the second explosion,
residents had erected a memorial and large poster of Adel Termos, the young man
who gave his own life to prevent further loss of lives. On the school door
opposite, a photo of a Rawan Awad, a young teacher who was killed in the
attacks. A local woman pointed to second-story windows, telling me, “the blood
reached the windows up there, flesh, too. The blast was huge.” It was said to
be the biggest explosion in Beirut for years.
Along the memorial were photos of other
victims of these terror attacks: elderly, children, young men and women,
victims of Western-backed terror and Western hypocrisy. Their lives didn’t
merit worldwide sorrow and solidarity.
Adel Termos, the hero who prevented further
loss of lives.
Je Suis… Blind and Deaf
The sting that the Lebanese people felt
when the world’s attention was focused on Paris, the day after the massacre in
Beirut, is a sting that Syrians have known deeply over the past five years.
Take the example of Homs’ al-Zahra’a. Any
Western media reporting that does cover the repeated terrorist bombings of the
neighborhood does so in sectarian and biased lexicon.
The neighbourhood is described as: “an
Alawite” area; a “government-held” area (AP).
But it is not described in terms of its
reality, a district comprising a majority of Alawis, but also significant
numbers of Christians, Sunnis, and Shia, many of whom are Internally Displaced
Syrians who have moved to this “government held” area after fleeing the
terrorists’ violence in their own home areas of Aleppo, Idlib, and elsewhere.
The depiction of al-Zahra’a merely as “an
Alawaite” district is in line with the NATO alliance’s sectarian project in
Syria, a sectarianism which the vast majority of Syrians continue to refuse.
Depicting al-Zahra’a merely as a “government held” area feeds into the Western
narrative of obfuscating on the vast amount of support for the Syrian president,
and further confuses readers as to the civilian suffering at each terrorist
attack in al-Zahra’a.
This human suffering I saw on a December
15, 2015 visit to the neighbourhood, meeting with family members of the dead.
On the second story of what was the shell
of his home, teenager Yousef Abdullah walked me through the ruins of the three
story home housing two families, outside of which the car bombing had occurred
just days prior. It was he who carried out the body of his 17 year old cousin,
Caroline, crushed under rubble on the ground level.
The small clothing shop on ground level
belonged to Anaya Abbas, a 50, killed in the bombing. Her son, Alaa al-Hamwi,
had only days prior returned to see his family. One of the Syrian soldiers
defending the Kuweires airbase against terrorist attacks, the al-Hamwi family
suffered doubly, from worry over their long absent son, and now from the murder
of Anaya Abbas.
Visiting al-Zahra’a one sees a vividly
different face, a tormented face, than that which the corporate media allows.
Many human stories abound, if journalists care to convey them. The sad
hypocrisy is that when terrorist attacks occur on Western soil, these human
stories are conveyed, ad naseum.
Homes opposite the terrorist car bombing
blast in al-Zahra’a, Homs © Eva Bartlett
UN Selective on Terrorism
Syria’s Foreign and Expatriates Ministry
has repeatedly issued letters to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)
requesting that such acts of terrorism in Syria be officially condemned, and
that action be taken against those states supporting, financing, and enabling
terrorism in Syria, namely Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The letters specify
that the terrorism being committed in Syria is not only by Da’esh (ISIS) but
also by other terrorist groups, including “Jebhat al-Nusra, Jaish al-Islam,
al-Jabha al-Islamiya, Jaish al-Fateh, Ahrar al-Cham,” and the so-called “Free
These letters are routinely ignored by UNSC
and the Secretary-General, although they are based on the tenants of UN
resolutions pertaining to terrorism.
It its latest letters, following the
January 24, 2016 terror-bombings in al-Zahra’a, the Ministry noted the
significance of their timing with respect to the upcoming Geneva talks.
Following the December 12, 2015 attacks,
the Syrian Ministry sent their standard letters, requesting condemnation of the
terrorism. The request was supported by Russia, with their own draft statement,
which was rejected at the UNSC.
In the Face of Terror… You’re on Your Own
When the majority of the above-listed
terror bombings have been claimed by Da’ish (ISIS), whom the West claims to be
fighting, the glaring lack of condemnation of the Homs bombings, and the
once-off condemnation of the Beirut bombings, reveals again the blatant
hypocrisy of Western leaders.
In his November 13, 2015 address, President
Obama, unsurprisingly, made no mention of either Beirut or Syria’s suffering
under western-backed terrorists. Instead he called the Paris situation
“heartbreaking” and uttered: “…we stand together with them in the fight against
terrorism and extremism.”
Not to be outdone, Vice President Biden
offered his “deepest condolences” and called the attacks “heartbreaking”
“outrageous” and “tragic” and vowed, “We will look out for one another. We will
stand together. We will never bow. We will never break. …We will respond. We
will overcome. We will endure.”
In his November 21, 2015 address, Biden, in
his opening remarks did actually mention the name “Beirut”, and commented, “in
the face of terror we stand as one.” Yet, his address focused primarily on
Paris—the “simple human acts” carried out by Parisians post Paris attack—and
made no other mention of Beirut, nor the “simple human acts” carried out there.
Like Beirut residents rushing to donate blood, post-attacks, for example.
Rather than addressing Beirut’s humanity,
or even deigning to mention terror attacks carried out on Syrians throughout
Syria, Biden used the rest of his address to talk about Syrian refugees and the
“rigorous screening”, “fingerprinting” and background checks refugees go
through to enter the US. In other words, he used his platform to negate true
suffering in Syria, and instead subtly indoctrinate his audience into equating
Syrians with terrorism.
Obama issued a proclamation “Honouring the
Victims of the Attack in Paris” on November 15, 2015, ordering the US flag to
be flown “at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and
grounds, at all military posts,”… and so on.
In a search of the Whitehouse.gov website,
using key terms like: “Bourj Barajneh”, “Burj al-Barajneh”, “Beirut”, “Zahra”,
“Zahraa”, “Homs” + bombing, I came up with just one match, aside from the
above-mentioned November 21VP Biden’s uttering of the name “Beirut” before his
ode to Paris.
The entry was a Statement by NSC
Spokesperson Ned Price, on the day of the Bourj al-Barajneh attacks. Neither
Obama, nor Biden, deigned to personally make this statement.
One paragraph, the statement “condemns in
the strongest terms today’s horrific terrorist attacks in Beirut, Lebanon that
killed dozens and wounded hundreds more. We offer our deepest condolences to
the families and other loved ones of those killed and injured in this violence.
The United States will stand firm with the Government of Lebanon as it works to
bring those responsible for this attack to justice….”
Compare the fiery rhetoric in the Paris
statements with this meek Beirut statement. Little sorrow was expressed, nor
unwavering solidarity, nor “fighting against extremism.”
Such is Western hypocrisy towards those murdered
by Western-supported death squads.
Eva Bartlett is a freelance journalist and rights activist who has lived
in the Gaza Strip since late 2008. She was aboard the Dignity, one of five Free
Gaza missions to successfully sail to the Strip in 2008. Eva rode in ambulances
during the 2008/2009 Israeli attacks on Gaza, and documented from a central
Gaza hospital during the November 2012 Israeli attacks. She has worked
extensively with Gaza's fishermen and farmers, accompanying them as they come
under fire from the Israeli army. She keeps a blog In Gaza.