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Showing posts from June, 2016

No need to redraw a New Map of the Middle East

 On May 16, 1916, representatives of Great Britain and France signed an agreement that had been negotiated by Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot to divide up the Middle East into British and French spheres of influence after the end of the Great War and the destruction of the Ottoman Empire. The Sykes-Picot Agreement, now 100 years old, has been denounced ever since for perpetuating a supposedly artificial division of the Middle East into unpopular nation states whose existence only fuels conflicts. Many now suggest that it is time to discard Sykes-Picot in order to solve the region’s myriad problems. As my Council on Foreign Relations colleagues, Steven A. Cook and Amr T. Leheta, suggest, this attributes rather too much influence to a treaty that was never actually implemented. In practice, Britain never ceded France all of the influence that Sykes-Picot had promised, and the actual boundaries of the modern Middle East were determined in a series of diplomatic conferences betwee

The crisis of Muslim nationalisms

Nationalism was a Western construct mainly designed and driven by the rise of the mercantile/trader classes. As an idea, it was a revolt against the feudal mindset and the traditional influence of the aristocratic sections who dominated Europe in alliance with the church. The American and French revolutions in the 18th century were both prompted by the growing number of men and women sandwiched between powerful aristocrats and the downtrodden. This section would eventually rise as a separate and distinct class, described by Karl Marx as the bourgeoise and/or the middle-class. The architects of both revolutions rejected colonialism, monarchism and political aspects of religion as central signifiers of a people’s identity. Instead, to express their growing political ambitions triggered by their economic successes, the architects of nationalism began to construct notions of identity based on shared political and economic interests, languages and cultural memories. To American and Fren

Blowback Just in Time to Shape US Imperialism's Presidential Elections

The carnage in Orlando is blowback from U.S.-backed jihadist wars, yet Hillary Clinton, a key player in U.S. sponsorship of jihadists, seeks to profit politically from the horror. So does Donald Trump. “The fear that blowback unleashes has historically given the ruling class breathing room to further its anti-worker, pro-capital agenda.” Blowback is a right-wing wind, and “always ‘trumps’ the material interests of poor and working people in the US.” “The Democratic Party has continued its desperate attempt to push those afraid of Trump toward the Clinton agenda of endless warfare and domestic surveillance.” Fifty were shot dead and fifty plus more wounded at a night club in Orlando on June 11th. The nightclub, known to the community as an LGBTQ space, became the most gruesome example of US imperialist blowback to date. ISIS dubiously took credit for the shooting after word spread about the attacker's religious and national roots. Of course, blowback has never opened the e

Constructing Visions of "Perpetual Peace": An Interview With Noam Chomsky

Through its commitment to militarism and global imperialism, the elite class that controls the United States is risking global catastrophe. In his new book Who Rules the World?, Noam Chomsky examines US policies from the drone assassination program to nuclear weapons, from Iraq and Afghanistan to Israel and Palestine, to show the workings and consequences of undemocratic imperial power. Order the book today by making a donation to support Truthout! "Who rules the world?" This is one of those perennial questions. In the past, it has been empires or dominant states that dictated the course of history. The United States was able singlehandedly to influence developments and outcomes economically, politically and ideologically in much of the world throughout the post-war era. Although we are now witnessing the end of "Pax Americana," the US remains the most powerful and destructive imperial state in the history of the world. However, states are not abstract entities or

What we really need to reject is Islamophobia-phobia

In a large and growing segment of American society, fear of being tagged “racist” about Muslims (though Islam is not a race) provides a much more direct threat to your livelihood than radical Islam. Former police officer Daniel Gilroy told Florida Today that he repeatedly raised red flags about Omar Mateen when both men worked at the same security firm, but his employer did nothing because Mateen was a Muslim. The pattern is familiar. Before the Islamist attack that left 14 dead in San Bernardino last December, neighbor Aaron Elswick told ABC 7 News in Los Angeles that shooter Syed Farook was “kind of suspicious” and “wanted to report it” but “didn’t want to profile” him. Before Army Maj. Nidal Hasan murdered 13 people at Ft. Hood in 2009, “He made his views known, and he was very vocal, he had extremely radical jihadist views,” Lt. Col. Val Finnell told Finnell took health-services classes with Hasan, who said, “I’m a Muslim first, and I hold the Shariah, the Islamic

The new Great Game in Central Asia

THE recent India-Iran-Afghanistan agreement to develop a trade route from Chabahar to Central Asia has been portrayed by Indian commentators as having changed the historical ‘Great Game’ for control of the connection between South and Central Asia through Afghanistan. It has been claimed that the agreement will end India’s ‘isolation’ from Central Asia and Pakistan’s ‘stranglehold’ over Afghanistan and create a ‘new security paradigm’ and a ‘geopolitical shift’. But the Great Game has already changed. It is being played on a wider canvas with different players and rules. The power contest in Asia is now mainly between China and America, and, to a lesser extent, between America and Russia — with India, Pakistan, Iran and others in subsidiary roles. In this context, the strategic and economic implications of the tripartite agreement are likely to be limited. Chabahar port has been on the drawing board for many years. Its main purpose was and will remain to expand Iran’s oil and other t

Letter from Jerusalem

Once again I fear violence and bloodshed. How ironical that our holiest month should witness a clash between the Muslims and Jews. How unfortunate that we who have lived in Jerusalem for decades should be barred from visiting the holiest of the holy sites during this month just because we are Muslims. You were lucky to sit amidst cedars and olive trees breathing the sacredness of a divine presence inside the Holy City of Jerusalem when you came last year, a week before fasting began. You and I sat on a bench looking straight at the grandeur of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the actual site where Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) prayed before ascending to Heaven. The sun was setting, a gentle breeze made the evening more beauteous. You looked heavenwards to see the blue of the sky turn into a riot of colours creating a rhapsody that sent shivers of spirituality down our spines. Yes, you and I sat, silently absorbing its divinity in every fibre of our mortal being. We wanted to take in the totality of the mean