Tag Archives: Syria

this day in the yesteryear: Six-Day War Begins (1967)


Six-Day War Begins (1967)

After a period of relative calm, border incidents between Israel and Syria, Egypt, and Jordan increased during the early 1960s. Palestinian guerrilla attacks on Israel from bases in Syria led to increased hostility between the two countries. After Egypt signed a defense treaty with Jordan, Israel launched a preemptive air strike against the three Arab states, capturing the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank, Old City of Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. How many were killed in the fighting? More… Discuss

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Read the words of an Orthodox bishop kidnapped in Syria nearly two years ago :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)


Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, the Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, who was kidnapped near the Turkish border April 22, 2013. Courtesy of Aid to the Church in Need.

 Aleppo, Syria, Mar 15, 2015 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On April 22, 2013, both the Greek and Syriac Orthodox archbishops of Aleppo, Boulos Yazigi and Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, were kidnapped in Syria near the Turkish border. Their driver, Deacon Fatha’ Allah Kabboud, was killed.

Today, 23 months later, the bishops remain missing – though for some time it has been rumored that only one of them is still alive.

The bishops were abducted on their way back from the Turkish border, where they were negotiating the release of two priests, Fathers Michael Kayyal and Maher Mahfouz, who had themselves been kidnapped in February 2013.

Archbishop Ibrahim and Archbishop Yazigi are only two of the multitude of victims of the Syrian civil war, which today is entering its fifth year.

The war has claimed the lives of more than 220,000 people. There are 3.9 million Syrian refugees in nearby countries, most of them in Turkey and Lebanon, and an additional 8 million Syrian people are believed to have been internally displaced by the war.

On March 15, 2011, demonstrations sprang up in Syria protesting the rule of Bashar al-Assad, the nation’s president and leader of its Ba’ath Party. The next month, the Syrian army began to deploy to put down the uprisings, firing on protesters.

Since then, the violence has morphed into a civil war which is being fought among the Syrian regime and a number of rebel groups: the rebels include moderates, such as the Free Syrian Army; Islamists such as al-Nusra Front and Islamic State; and Kurdish separatists.

Only about a week before his kidnapping, two years into the war, Archbishop Ibrahim had told BBC Arabic that Syrian Christians are in the same situation as their Muslim neighbors: “There is no persecution of Christians and there is no single plan to kill Christians. Everyone respects Christians. Bullets are random and not targeting the Christians because they are Christians.”

Archbishop Ibrahim had written a book in Arabic in 2006 called “Accepting the Other.” At that time, before the start of the war, Syrians of different religions lived together in peace.

An excerpt of this work, focused on “the dialogue of life,” was translated into English for Aid to the Church in Need and appears below thanks to that international Catholic charity, which has pledged $2.8 million in emergency aid for the Christians of Syria:

The plurality of religions and faiths does not foment an inter-religious conflict due to the fact that the common denominator of its teachings, heritages and ethics affirms the oneness of God and the multiplicity and integrity of its people.

Whenever Christians and Muslims approach the sources of divine teaching, they may feel that their common heritage is part and parcel of the universal belief of the relationship between man (the weak) and the Creator (the mighty). Christians say we have one God and Muslim say there is no God but God.

From this understanding of our common heritages derived the concept of the “Dialogue of Life” – to which we owe our peaceful coexistence and the flourishing of our communities. However, even given the rich ethno-religious diversity of our communal tapestry, it is not at all like the concept of multiculturalism that is emerging in Western society.

The “Dialogue of life” is a rather simple, spontaneous, and natural way of life – a sort of coexistence sustained by the values of solidarity, humanity, impartiality and accepting the other unconditionally. Some may argue that our “Dialogue of Life” draws on the principles outlined in the Geneva Convention. Not so, our “Dialogue” has its own unwritten codes, whose values far predate this relatively new Western concept of dialogue and coexistence.

via Read the words of an Orthodox bishop kidnapped in Syria nearly two years ago :: Catholic News Agency (CNA).

From CNA: A modern-day St Francis? Archbishop works to rebuild Syrian Church amid destruction


.- A four-year civil war in Syria has left a mounting death toll and displaced millions of persons, but one bishop is staying to rebuild the Church in Aleppo, in the northwest corner of the country.

“The Church is living,” Melkite Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo told CNA earlier this month. “Here, I am building, I am restoring, I am maintaining a lively Church in which every stone is a human being and who can be a witness, a testimony to the world.”

“I wondered if I am not copying St. Francis when he was working to rebuild the Church. It was crazy, nobody thought that he would succeed,” the archbishop noted. “And he succeeded because the Lord was with him.”

The four-year Syrian conflict being fought among the Assad regime and various rebel factions has devastated the country. More than 3.9 million refugees have fled to surrounding countries, and around 8 million Syrians are believed to have been internally displaced. The war’s death toll is currently around 220,000.

Outside countries and entities have taken advantage of the civil war, profiting from it through the arms trade or waiting for Syria to collapse so to move in and take power in the vacuum. Pope Francis has spoken out against the arms trade here and has been criticized for it, Archbishop Jeanbart noted.

Aleppo endured a terrible two-month siege by rebel forces last year. Its infrastructure has been devastated, and its residents endure great poverty.

Those who chose to stay face a myriad of challenges. Houses, businesses, schools, and hospitals have been damaged or destroyed in the war, leaving fathers without work, families without shelter, the sick without medical care, and children without education.

Thus it is an uphill battle to convince residents to stay and not re-settle elsewhere, Archbishop Jeanbart admitted. Syrians see the U.S. on television and think it a “paradise,” and want to move there. He has to convince them of the unseen difficulties that such a move might bring.

Words are not enough to convince people, however. The Church must act to help Christians who stay so once peace comes – and it will, the archbishop maintains – a stable Christian community is in place and Christians can have a seat at the peace negotiations.

“We want that we may have our rights,” he said. “We want that everybody may feel comfortable in the country.”

“What we want to do, and what I am looking for,” Archbishop Jeanbart said, “is to go to another position, a position looking positively to the future, trying to give them hope that the future of their country may be good, and will be better if they work and if they prepare themselves.”

The Church in Aleppo is working to meet the local needs. It provides thousands of baskets of food to needy families, 1,000 scholarships for students to attend Catholic schools, stipends to almost 500 fathers who have lost their business in the war, heating to houses in the wintertime, rebuilding homes damaged in the war and medical care for the needy since many government hospitals were destroyed in the fighting.

It’s a daunting task for an archbishop in his seventies. He admitted to initially wondering how he could do it.

“But when I began working on it, I felt that I was 50. Like if the Lord is pushing me to go ahead and helping me to realize this mission,” he said.

“I invest myself entirely. I have decided the consecrate the rest of my life to do that.”

Archbishop Jeanbart has been assisted in his efforts to serve the people of Aleppo by the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need. The charity has ensured  a six month supply of medical goods for the city, and paid for repairs and fuel costs at the city’s schools, in addition to the rest of its work throughout Syria.

Archbishop Jeanbart maintained that another reason Christians need to stay in Syria is to be a light to people of other religions, especially Muslims. If the Christians leave, no one will be left to preach the Gospel in Syria.

“Perhaps the time has come to tell these people ‘Come, Christ is waiting for you.’ And many Muslims now, I must say, are wondering where should be their place? Are they in the right place? Are they perhaps supposed to rethink and review their choices? It will be wonderful if I told them we may have the freedom and the freedom of faith which would allow anyone to make his own choice freely.”

Critics of the Church in Syria have accused it of not immediately supporting the rebels in the name of freedom and democracy, the archbishop noted, and this is a false mischaracterization.

Christians are wary of regime change because they have seen what has happened in surrounding countries where fundamentalists took power in the Arab Spring and religious pluralism suffered as a result: there is “a feeling among Christians that they are afraid that the government may change and with the change of the government, they may lose their freedom … they are afraid to lose their freedom to express and to live their Christian life.”

He cited the success of the Islamic State, which in the power vacuum caused by the Syrian civil war has established a caliphate in eastern Syria and western Iraq where “many Christians were killed because they were Christian.”

Christians in Syria are, in fact, supportive of freedom and democracy, he said.

“They want to have a democratic regime where they may have all their freedom and where they may live tranquil but at the same time happy in the country,” he said.

“In any settlement,” he maintained, “the Christian must have the rights to be Christian in this country. And they should not become Muslims because the regime will be Muslim.”

“We want to have our rights and to live as free Christians in our country,” he said.

Tags: Syrian Civil War, Aid to the Church in Need, Aleppo, Melkite Archdiocese of Aleppo, Archbishop Jeanbart

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Pope John Paul II Visits Mosque (2001)


Pope John Paul II Visits Mosque (2001)

When Pope John Paul II visited Syria’s Umayyad Mosque, where the head of John the Baptist—a holy figure in both Christianity and Islam—is said to be interred, he became the first Catholic Pope to enter and pray in an Islamic mosque. The address he delivered there, promoting peace between Muslims and Christians, reflected his ongoing ecumenical efforts, which included meeting with religious leaders from other faiths and denominations. While in Syria, the pope aroused controversy by kissing what? More… Discuss

picture of the day: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart



Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, regarded by many as the greatest musical genius of all time, was born in Salzburg, Austria, on January 27, 1756, the son of violinist and composer Leopold Mozart. The young Mozart began composing minuets at age 5 and, with his older sister Marianne, gave concerts in Munich and Vienna from age 6. At 13, Mozart became director of concerts for the archbishop of Salzburg and in 1782 he married Constanze Weber against her father’s wishes. Although Mozart gave piano concerts throughout Europe and composed more than 600 works, including 40 symphonies, he and his wife were plagued by debt. When Mozart died in 1791, probably of heart disease, he was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave. It was not until his works were published, in many cases near the end of the 19th century, that Mozart’s genius became widely recognized.

Image: Library of Congress

– See more at: http://www.historynet.com/picture-of-the-day#sthash.9MD846f9.dpuf

this pressed: Suspected member of Islamic State group arrested in Germany-info24.us


Suspected member of Islamic State group arrested in Germany

By Info on January 11, 2015 News

BERLIN – German prosecutors say they have arrested a suspected member of the Islamic State group.

The federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement late Saturday that a 24-year-old man identified as Nils D. was arrested in Dinslaken in western Germany and his apartment was raided.

The suspect allegedly traveled to Syria in October in 2013 where he joined IS fighters. He returned to Germany in November 2014.

A local prosecutor in Duesseldorf had opened a separate terror investigation against the man in early 2014, but federal prosecutors said there was no indication that he was planning any concrete attacks. They also said his arrest was not related to the terror attacks in Paris.

via Suspected member of Islamic State group arrested in Germany.

Bosnian indicted over recruiting militants for Syria and Iraq


Bosnian indicted over recruiting militants for Syria and Iraq

By Info on December 31, 2014 worldNews

SARAJEVO (Reuters) – A Bosnian court indicted a Muslim priest on Wednesday for recruiting people to fight for the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, using a new law aimed at stopping people traveling to fight alongside militants in the Middle East.

Husein Bosnic, known as an unofficial leader of the ultra-conservative Salafi movement in Bosnia, was arrested in September along with four other men who were later released but who had their passports confiscated.

The indictment accused Bosnic of urging members of his community to join Islamic State militants, saying he had “publicly encouraged others to join terrorist organizations during 2013 and 2014, consciously and from a position of religious authority.”

It was the first use of a law adopted in April which sets jail terms of up to 10 years for financing terrorist activities and recruiting and fighting abroad.

Bosnic, who is in custody, was not available to comment on the indictment. He has not yet been required to enter a plea.

Police say up to 180 Bosnians, including women and children, have left for Syria over the past three years, of whom more than 50 returned to Bosnia while more than 20 were killed.

via Bosnian indicted over recruiting militants for Syria and Iraq.

Today’s Birthday: Simon Wiesenthal (1908)


Today’s Birthday

Simon Wiesenthal (1908)

One of just a few hundred Galician Jews to have survived the Nazi death machine that was Hitler‘s Final Solution, Wiesenthal devoted his remaining years to tracking down fugitive Nazi war criminals and bringing them to justice. “Many times I was thinking,” he told his biographer, “that everything in life has a price, so to stay alive must also have a price. And my price was always that, if I lived, I must be deputy for many people who are not alive.” How many of

History of Art: Gemma Augustea: Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna – the story about this marvelous low-relief cameo


Gemma Augustea (detail) Kunsthistoriches Museum Vienna

Gemma Augustea (detail) Kunsthistoriches Museum Vienna (Click to enlarge)

The Gemma Augustea (Latin, Gem of Augustus) is a low-relief cameo engraved gem cut from a double-layered Arabian onyx stone. It is commonly agreed that the gem cutter who created the Gemma Augustea was either Dioscurides or one of his disciples, in the second or third decade of the 1st century AD.

Creation and characteristics

The Gemma Augustea is a low-relief cameo engraved gem cut from a double-layered Arabian onyx stone.[1] One layer is white, while the other is bluish-brown. The painstaking method by which the stone was cut allowed minute detail with sharp contrast between the images and background, also allowing for a great deal of shadow play. The size of the gem also made for easier manipulation and a grander scene. It stands 7½ inches tall with a width of 9 inches and an average thickness of ½ inch.

It is commonly agreed that the gem cutter who created Gemma Augustea was either Dioscurides or one of his disciples. Dioscurides was Caesar Augustus’ favorite gem cutter, and his work and copies of it are seen from all over the ancient Roman world. The gem is “set” as though in the period c. AD 10–20, although some scholars believe it to have been created decades later because of their interpretation of the scene.

If Dioscurides, or cutters following his example, made it, the gemma was probably made in the court of Caesar Augustus. At some time in antiquity it moved to Byzantium, perhaps after Constantine I had officially moved the capital of the empire there. Augustus, though fully accepting and encouraging cult worship of the emperor outside Rome and Italy, especially in more distant provinces with traditions of deified rulers, did not allow himself to be worshiped as a god inside Rome. If this gem was made during his lifetime (he died in AD 14), it would perhaps have been made as a gift to a respected family in a Roman province or client kingdom. Alternatively, if the gem was made after Augustus’ death, the identity of one or more of the portraits may be different from the usual identification. Another viewpoint is that the gem does portray Augustus as a god in his lifetime, but was cut specifically for a close friend or relative in the inner court circle. Similar issues arise with other Imperial cameos such as the Blacas Cameo in the British Museum.

The whereabouts of the gemma is undocumented, though it still remained relatively intact and was probably always above ground, until 1246 when it is recorded in the treasury of the Basilica of St. Sernin, Toulouse. In 1533, Francis I of France appropriated it and moved it to Paris, where it disappears from records around 1590. Not long thereafter it was sold for 12,000 ducats to Rudolph II, Holy Roman Emperor. During the 17th century, it was set in German gold. This setting shows that the gem must have been damaged, the upper left side being broken with at least one other figure missing, probably before Rudolph II bought it, but definitely before 1700. The gem is now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.[2]

Interpretations of the figures and scenes

 

Gemma Augustea, with reference numbers.

Upper tier

The throned figure, #1 in the numbered illustration, is usually taken to be Augustus, although in some interpretations, it could represent a later Roman ruler. Figure #3 is the most readily identifiable, having characteristics held by no other. The woman is Oikoumene – the personification of the inhabited world. This inhabited or civilized world is either that of the early Roman Empire, or more likely the Mediterranean world conquered by Alexander the Great.[3] She wears upon her head a mural crown and veil. She is crowning figure #1 with the corona civica of oak leaves – used to commend someone for saving the life of a Roman citizen. In this grand scale depiction, however, it is given to figure #1 because he saved a multitude of Roman citizens.

Figure #5 and #6 seem to be closely related. Figure #5 is Oceanus or Neptune whose significance is often seen as one balancing the scene across from #4 and #7, and also an important onlooker, as he represents the realm of water. Below him is a reclined personification of either Gaia or Italia Turrita. The scholars who see Gaia link her with the cornucopia and the children surrounding her, who may represent seasons. It might be odd that Gaia holds the horn of plenty when it seems as if the horn is not presently producing anything. This supports an argument that she is not Gaia, but Italia, for historically there was famine at the scene’s event. Also, she wears a bulla, a locket of some sort, around her neck, which, again, would seem odd for Gaia to wear. Either way, the children represent seasons, probably summer and fall, as one of them carries ears of corn.

Figure #10 is the eagle of Jupiter. The eagle could be showing that figure #1 is seated in the role of Jupiter. Seated next to figure #1 is Roma. The helmeted goddess holds a spear in her right arm while her left hand lightly touches the hilt of her sword, probably showing that Rome was always prepared for war. Besides showing her feet resting upon the armor of the conquered, Roma seems to look admiringly towards figure #1. Though there might be a dispute as to who #1 is, it is often said that the image of Roma strongly resembles Livia, Augustus’ long-lived wife. Not only was she his wife, but from a previous marriage, the mother of Tiberius. The reason for the cutting of this gem is also called into question when it is noted that Roma was not worshiped inside Rome till around the rule of Hadrian. Thus the gem might have been custom cut for a friend in the provinces.

Figure #4 is Victoria driving the chariot that holds the descending figure #7. She is obviously the deliverer of the victorious but not necessarily there for celebration, as it seems she might be impatiently urging figure #7 on to his next campaign. In associating Victoria with the chariot, it is necessary to analyze some historical importance relating to the chariot and the horses around it. The two foreshortened horses in front of the chariot are part of the chariot team, whereas the single horse to the side cannot be, and might belong to figure #8. Historically, a victory chariot was driven by four horses forming a quadriga, not the mere two represented on the gemma, a bigae. This might show that figure #7 is not a triumphator.

Lower tier: erection of tropaion

 

The lower register

 

Key to lower register

 

A fully erected tropaion with shackled and adorsed seated male and female Sarmatian captives (the right-hand female with head resting on hand, possibly a representation of the defeated “Sarmatia”) tied to base. Dupondius from reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, AD 161-180

The lower scene, in which the figures are less readily identifiable, depicts the erection of a tropaion. In some interpretations of the scene, all the lower figures are by design anonymous. Other interpretations attribute definite real or mythological persons to the figures. At left, the seated male and female figures (combined in #11) are either Celts or Germans, as is apparent from their clothing and hair styles, including the man’s beard, and represent prisoners of war, symbolizing the Roman victory. The man is bound with his hands behind his back, and both are apparently about to be tied to the base of the as yet half-erected tropaion (figure #19_, a trophy of war displayed upon winning a battle, usually fixed into the ground at the position of the “turning-point” of the battle in favour of the victors. The trophy consists of a wooden cross, designed to support human clothing. A helmet is placed on top, and the breastplate and weaponry of the enemy is placed upon it. In the scene, four young men are raising the trophy into a vertical position. Figure #18 is the least identifiable, but his helmet has led some to believe that he may be a Macedonian soldier of King Rhoemetalces[disambiguation needed], who helped Tiberius in Pannonia.
Figure #15 is often identified as a personification of the god Mars with his armor and flowing cape. Although figures #16 and #17 seem less important, they look very much alike and may represent the constellation Gemini. Gemini is the more difficult constellation to pick out, and it might represent the hidden identity of figure #8. Two others, however, are more obvious. Figure #20 is a shield with a large scorpion emblazoned upon it. Tiberius was born in November, and thus might be represented with such an item. Figure #9 shows Augustus’ favorite sign, the Capricorn. Although Augustus might have been conceived during December, he claimed the Capricorn as his constellation. The sun or moon, which were necessary to show the full power of a constellation, is seen behind the sign. Mars is represented by figure (#15), andthus at least three signs of the Zodiac are evident.

Figure #13 is probably Diana, identified with the moon, although some commentators believe her to be a mere auxiliary troop with #14. Diana holds spears in her left hand and her right hand seems to rest on the head of the man in figure #12, but not gripping his hair as supposed by many. Another identifying feature of Diana is her bountiful hair, bound up for the hunt, and her hunting clothes. Figure #14 might be an auxiliary, but more likely he personifies Mercurius (Mercury/Hermes), identified by his rimmed hat. Mercurius seems to be dragging the female in figure #12 by her hair towards the tropaion. The scene is clearly complex. Many interpretations insist that the ‘auxiliaries’ are dragging the barbarian prisoners to join their kindred in being bound to the trophy. However, there are indications that this might not be the case at all. First, the man on his knees is begging for mercy from Diana, who does look down on him. That same man wears around his neck a torque, suggesting him to be a Celt or German. It may be significant that Diana has her back turned to the observer and possibly the scene itself. She is the only one as such, and perhaps to contrast the celebration of victory in battle, she shows instead mercy to one pleading for his life. In addition, since the man is a leader, it makes for better propaganda that he should beg for mercy before a Roman goddess. Mercurius might not be dragging the woman to be bound to the trophy, but might be bringing her to kneel before Diana to beg for mercy as well. She shows the sign of a truce by placing her hand upon her chest. Perhaps Diana and Mercurius are sheltering them, perhaps offering them salvation in the final moments of victory. Whatever the case, the couple in #12 are not comparable to the despairing couple in #11, with whom they appear both to balance and contrast; balance by having barbarians on the right and left, literally balancing the composition, and contrast as one couple being doomed to be bound at the trophy, and the other begging for what looks like a chance of mercy.

Overall scene

 

A different view

The upper and lower scenes take place at different times, and are basically cause and effect. The lower scene takes place at the northern frontiers, just after a battle won by the Romans, who erect a victory trophy. Gathered prisoners of war are waiting for their punishment in grief or begging for mercy at the hands of assisting gods. The triumph on the battlefield precedes the triumph on the upper plate.

The upper scene is a fusion of Rome, Olympus, and the world of cities. Augustus is conspicuously above the birth sign he claimed, while the eagle personifying him as Jupiter sits below. He ended many years of internal strife for Rome and will forever wear the oak crown. In his right hand he holds a lituus – his augury stick in which he reads the signs and declares wars to be just. He faces Roma, representing all he united and saved from civil bloodshed. He sits equal to Roma, personifying a god. His feet lay upon armor, which could be identified with the newly conquered barbarians, or it may depict the descent of the Julian family from Mars through his human children Romulus and Remus. Unlike all the other figures, except for #7 and #8, the depiction of Augustus is considered to be an actual portrait because of the iris seen in his eye. Tiberius, Augustus’ adopted son, recently having fought in the north, comes back momentarily – for Victoria anxiously urges that he continue on to fight new battles and receive his triumph.

There are problems with this interpretation, however. The chariot is not one of victory. It would be unusual for a two-horse chariot to be used for the triumph. Also, Tiberius wears the toga. The toga represents civility and peace, not war. Perhaps this is a way to hand the victory to Augustus’ auguries. Tiberius steps down from the chariot, doing obeisance to Augustus, giving his adoptive parent the triumph and victory. If all this is true, then figure #8 could still be one of two persons, Drusus or Germanicus. By this age, Drusus was probably already dead, having fallen from his horse and suffered irreparable injuries. It could be, then, a representation of Drusus, and his memory, since he was fondly regarded by almost all. Since he is clad in fighting garb, the helmet probably beside him under the chariot, and coincidentally standing next to a horse, this could very well be Drusus. In addition, there are three constellations relating to the three portraits. Drusus would claim Gemini, though the Gemini is quite covert. If the portrait represented Drusus as alive, however, the gem would have been made about the same time as the Ara Pacis and the Altar of Augustus, sometime before 9 B.C., the year of Drusus’ death.

Others, though, think that Figure #8 is Germanicus, son of Drusus.[4] If the gem was commissioned no earlier than A.D. 12 and referred to Tiberius’ triumph over the Germans and the Pannonians, it would stand to reason that Germanicus, born in 13 B.C., was old enough to don gear and prepare for war, years after his father’s death. Germanicus was also looked upon quite fondly by Augustus and others. The dispute carries on.

Gemma Augustea is a beautiful work of art that seems to be based on dramatic Hellenistic compositions. The refined style of execution was more common in the late Augustan or earlier Tiberian age, though more likely Augustan. It is said that the image of Augustus as Jupiter is linked to future Roman triumphs by Horace in his Odes:

He’ll be brave who trusts himself to perfidious foes,
and he will crush the Carthaginians in a second war
who has tamely felt the chains upon his fettered
wrists and has stood in fear of death.
Such a one, not knowing how to live life secure,
has mixed peace with war.
O mighty Carthage, you rise
all the higher upon Italian ruins!
Tis said he set aside his wife’s chaste kisses and his
little children, as one bereft of civil rights,
and sternly bent his manly gaze upon the ground
till he should strengthen the Senate’s wavering purpose
by advice ne’er given before,
and amid sorrowing friends should hurry forth a glorious exile.
Full well he knew what the barbarian torturer was making
ready for him; and yet he pushed aside the kinsmen
who blocked his path and the people who would halt his going
with no less unconcern than if some case in court
had been decided, and he were leaving the tedious
business of his clients, speeding to Venafran fields,
or to Lacedaemonian Tarentum.

— Horace, Odes III 5

today’s holiday: St. Modesto’s Day (2014)


St. Modesto’s Day (2014)

St. Modesto is the patron saint of farmers in Greece. His feast day is celebrated with various rituals in honor of farm animals. In Lemnos, kollyva (cooked wheat berries) and holy water are mixed with their fodder, while in Lesbos, the holy water is sprinkled on the fields to ward off locusts and disease. For horses and oxen, December 18 is a day of rest. The Eastern Orthodox Church reserves this day to commemorate St. Modestus, who was patriarch of Jerusalem from 631 to 634. He is known for a sermon he preached on the bodily Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven. More… Discuss

Today’s holiday: St. Barbara’s Day


St. Barbara’s Day

Scholars doubt that St. Barbara existed as more than a legend that emerged during the 2nd century. In parts of France, Germany, and Syria, St. Barbara’s Day is considered the beginning of the Christmas season. In southern France, it is customary to set out dishes holding grains of wheat soaked in water on sunny window sills. If the “St. Barbara’s grain” grows quickly, it means a good year for crops. There is a similar custom in Germany and the Czech and Slovak republics with cherry branches. In Syria, St. Barbara’s Day is for feasting and bringing food to the poor. More… Discuss

this pressed: Putin in Turkey Amid Syria Differences (Him and Pope Francis!)


Putin in Turkey Amid Syria Differences

Putin will be welcomed at Erdogan‘s new mega-palace that has drawn the ire of Turkish opposition parties, environmentalists and activists who say the 1,000-room complex is too costly and extravagant and went ahead despite a court ruling. Putin is the second foreign dignitary to receive an official welcome at the palace, after Pope Francis who visited on Friday.

01/12/2014 13:21 by: ABC News: Top

via Putin in Turkey Amid Syria Differences.

quotation: The most happy marriage I can imagine to myself would be the union of a deaf man to a blind woman. Samuel Taylor Coleridge


The most happy marriage I can imagine to myself would be the union of a deaf man to a blind woman.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) Discuss

this pressed: Apostolic Journey of Pope Francis to Turkey (28-30 November 2014)


Apostolic Journey of Pope Francis to Turkey (28-30 November 2014).

this pressed: France: Police Arrest 2 Over Jihadi Propaganda.


France: Police Arrest 2 Over Jihadi Propaganda.

Hundreds of French extremists have joined fighters for the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, including young teenagers and families, some from Muslim families and some who are converts. The French government is particularly concerned that extremists will return and stage attacks at home, and is trying to stop them from traveling in the first place.

via France: Police Arrest 2 Over Jihadi Propaganda..

this pressed: Flash – Turkey’s Erdogan attacks US ‘impertinence’ on Syria – France 24


AFP/File | US-led air strikes have prevented Islamic State militants from capturing the Syrian border town of Kobane

26 November 2014 – 14H45

Turkey‘s Erdogan attacks US ‘impertinence’ on Syria

inShare

ISTANBUL (AFP) –

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday slammed US “impertinence” on the Syrian conflict, exposing the extent of strains between Washington and Ankara days after his key meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden.

Ties between the the US and Turkey have soured in recent months over the reluctance of Turkish leaders to intervene militarily in the US-led campaign against the Islamic State jihadists, who have taken control of swathes of Iraq and Syria.

In an indication of the tensions that remain between the two NATO allies, Erdogan accused the US of being “impertinent” for pressuring it to help save the besieged Syrian town of Kobane, which is within sight of the Turkish border.

“Why is somebody coming to this region from 12,000 kilometres (7,000 miles) away?” Erdogan said during an address to a group of businessmen in Ankara, in a clear reference to the US.

“I want you to know that we are against impertinence, recklessness and endless demands,” he said.

Biden had personally stung Erdogan last month by suggesting his policies in supporting Islamist rebel forces in Syria had helped encourage the rise of the IS militant group, a slight that prompted Erdogan to warn his relationship with the US number two could be “history”.

Washington is pressing Ankara for the use of the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey by US jets launching assaults on IS.

via Flash – Turkey’s Erdogan attacks US ‘impertinence’ on Syria – France 24.

this pressed: URGENT – Holder pushes countries on terrorism laws | Politics – WYFF Home


English: Official portrait of United States At...

English: Official portrait of United States Attorney General Eric Holder Español: Retrato oficial de Fiscal General de los Estados Unidos Eric Holder (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(CNN) — President Barack Obama’s administration is pushing other countries to overhaul their laws to make it easier to prosecute fighters who return after being involved in terrorism. Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday that the Justice Department has dispatched lawyers to 14 countries — four in the Balkan region and 10 in North Africa and the Middle East — to work with policymakers there. “These personnel will provide critical assistance to our allies in order to help prosecute those who return from the Syrian region bent on committing acts of terrorism,” Holder said at press conference Thursday.

via URGENT – Holder pushes countries on terrorism laws | Politics – WYFF Home.

Veni Vidi Vici


Veni Vidi Vici

Before Julius Caesar was made dictator for life, he engaged in a civil war with his rival Pompey. Caesar started the war by crossing the Rubicon River into Italy, reportedly uttering the words Iacta alea est—”the die is cast.” Pompey fled and was eventually killed after Caesar pursued him to Egypt. From Egypt, Caesar went to Syria and Pontus, where in 47 BCE he defeated Pharnaces II with such ease that he reported his victory with the words Veni, vidi, vici—meaning what? More… Discuss

FBI: Three Denver girls may have tried to join ISIS (+video) – CSMonitor.com


Recommended: How much do you know about the Islamic State?

A US official said the girls were headed toward Turkey en route to Syria and that investigators were now reviewing evidence, including the girls’ computers.

FBI: Three Denver girls may have tried to join ISIS (+video) – CSMonitor.com.

Two of Islamic State’s captured jets destroyed, Syria says|AP, Reuters|Globe and Mail|EUZICASA|


Smoke and flames rise after an explosion in the Syrian town of Kobani on Oct. 20, 2014. (BULENT KILIC/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Two of Islamic State‘s captured jets destroyed, Syria says Associated Press and Reuters Published Wednesday, Oct. 22 2014, 5:05 AM EDT Last updated Wednesday, Oct. 22 2014, 9:56 AM EDT

Two of Islamic State’s captured jets destroyed, Syria says

FOCUS – ‘These are children, not terrorists,’ say Belgian parents of Syria jihadists – France 24


to Friday at 7.45 am Paris time.

FOCUS

FOCUS

Syria

jihad

Belgium

Latest update : 2014-01-31

‘These are children, not terrorists,’ say Belgian parents of Syria jihadists

inShare1

This week, two French teenagers were arrested trying to reach Syria to join fighting against President Bashar al-Assad. Three men from Paris went on trial on Thursday on similar charges. Now Belgian parents tell France 24 about losing their children to jihad.

It is a situation not unique to France. Young people from all across Europe have travelled to Syria to join the ‘Holy War’ against Assad, often leaving without warning, their parents unaware to their sons’ and daughters’ plans to become soldiers in a foreign land.

In Belgium, an estimated 300 citizens have left their country for the Syrian battlegrounds. Many parents believe their children, young and impressionable, have been manipulated into taking up the jihadist cause.

Gathered in front of the European Parliament in Brussels, a group of mothers with children in Syria have staged a protest to press the authorities into tackling the problem.

They are making a stand against what they claim is a lack of action by the authorities.

“We’re the parents of jihad fighters, of terrorists. People are afraid of them, of us. But we’re not the ones who’ve sent our children over there,” says Veronique, one of several protesters wearing masks they say symbolise “misunderstanding”.

“Our children were tricked into this,” says another. “They didn’t go to Syria of their own free will. I mean: it’s not normal, that a kid who had no problems finds himself over there, that’s not normal. These are children, Belgian children… They’re not terrorists!”

via FOCUS – ‘These are children, not terrorists,’ say Belgian parents of Syria jihadists – France 24.

this pressed: BBC News – Iraq approves Australian anti-Islamic State forces


Islamic State has waged a brutal campaign to seize territory, displacing many thousands

Kurds are desperate for help, but Turkey is refusing to renege on its long-standing enmity

“We have reached an agreement for a legal framework and now it will be a matter for our military when our special forces will be deployed,” Ms Bishop said at the end of a two-day trip to Baghdad.

Despite a huge effort by the US and its allies, Islamic State militants are continuing to rule over large parts of Iraq and Syria.

In recent weeks, the group has carried out a wave of suicide attacks, and has fended off attacks by Iraq’s armed forces.

Militants are also embroiled in fighting with Kurdish forces in the northern Syrian town of Kobane.

BBC News – Iraq approves Australian anti-Islamic State forces.

this pressed- for the record: BBC News – Syria: Kobane siege death toll ‘passes 500’


At least 553 people are said to have died in a month of fighting for Kobane, the Kurdish town just inside Syria under Islamic State (IS) attack.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based Syrian opposition body which monitors the conflict, counted 298 IS fighters among the dead.

via BBC News – Syria: Kobane siege death toll ‘passes 500’.

word: tacit


tacit 

Definition: (adjective) Implied by or inferred from actions or statements.
Synonyms: understood, silent
Usage: Management has given its tacit approval to the plan. Discuss.

From Democracy Now: After U.S. Sanctions & Wars Tore Iraq Apart, Can American-Led Strikes Be Expected to Save It?


After U.S. Sanctions & Wars Tore Iraq Apart, Can American-Led Strikes Be Expected to Save It?


Flood of Syrian Refugees Crossing into Turkey

In just the past few days, well over 100,000 Syrians have fled into Turkey, and many tens of thousands more may soon follow. The recent influx—the largest in such a short period since the start of Syria’s civil war more than three years ago—is being driven by Islamic State advances in the heavily Kurdish area of Kobane, also known as Ayn al-Arab. The surge is straining resources already stretched to the limit by the 1.3 million Syrian refugees that had made their way into Turkey prior to this. More… Discuss

From EUROPARL: Nigel Farage: Stop playing wargames with Putin – Video source: EbS (European Parliament)


Nigel Farage: Stop playing wargames with Putin

from Democracy Now: Will Iraq or Syria Survive? UN Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on Sectarian War & the Disastrous ’03 Invasion


Will Iraq or Syria Survive?  UN Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on Sectarian War and the Disastrous 03' Invasion.

Will Iraq or Syria Survive? UN Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on Sectarian War and the Disastrous 03′ Invasion. (click to access program)

As a Sunni militancy overtakes large parts of Iraq, former U.N.-Arab League special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi joins us to discuss the escalating Iraqi conflict, the long-term impact of the 2003 U.S. invasion, and the crisis in neighboring Syria. A former Algerian freedom fighter who went on to become Algeria’s foreign minister, Brahimi has been deeply involved in Middle Eastern diplomacy for decades. He has worked on many of the world’s major conflicts from Afghanistan and Iraq to South Africa. Brahimi resigned as the U.N.-Arab League special envoy for Syria last month after a lengthy effort that failed to bring about peace talks between the Syrian government and rebel groups. On the legacy of the U.S. invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq, Brahimi says: “The biggest mistake was to invade. I am tempted to say that every time there was a [U.S.] choice between something right and something wrong, not very often the right option was taken.” On Syria, Brahimi says the conflict is “an infected wound … if not treated properly, it will spread — and this is what is happening.”
 

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Sunni militants have seized part of Iraq’s largest oil refinery located in the northern Iraqi city of Baiji. The militants reportedly now control three-quarters of the refinery complex. Meanwhile, Shiite families are leaving the city of Baquba in droves out of fear the militants from ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, will soon seize the city. Baquba is located just 40 miles from Baghdad. Many analysts say the fighting in Iraq has become a proxy war between the Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and Shiite-led Iran. On Tuesday, Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, vowed on live television to protect Shiite shrines in Iraq. Rouhani said many Iranians have already signed up to go to Iraq to fight. This came as Iraq’s Shiite-led Cabinet accused Saudi Arabia of promoting genocide in Iraq by backing Sunni militants.

In Washington, President Obama is scheduled to meet today with the four top congressional leaders. There are conflicting reports of his plan of action. The Wall Street Journal reports Obama has decided against immediate airstrikes in Iraq, but The New York Times reports Obama is considering what the paper described as a “targeted, highly selective campaign” of airstrikes. One official told the Times the campaign would most likely use drones and could last for a prolonged period.

Joining us to discuss the situation in Iraq and across the wider region is Lakhdar Brahimi, who resigned his post last month as the United Nations-Arab League special envoy for Syria. Brahimi has been deeply involved in Middle Eastern diplomacy for decades. He’s a former Algerian freedom fighter who went on to become Algeria’s foreign minister. As a diplomat, he has worked on many of the world’s biggest conflicts, from Afghanistan and Iraq, from Haiti to South Africa. He’s a member of the Elders, a group of retired statesmen formed in July 2007 at the initiative of Nelson Mandela; it was originally chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, now by Kofi Annan.

Democracy Now!’s Nermeen Shaikh and I interviewed Lakhdar Brahimi on Tuesday. He’s in Paris, France. I started by asking him to respond to what’s happening in Iraq right now.

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI: Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham have invaded and taken control of the second-largest city in Iraq, which is absolutely extraordinary. That is the city of Mosul. I understand that they went down also and took a part—or, you know, maybe they are still there—of the city of Tikrit, the birthplace of Saddam Hussein, and that they were marching on Baghdad, and they have been stopped somewhere. And I doubt very much that they will enter Baghdad in any significant manner. But this indicates the fragility of the state of Iraq that has been created by the Americans after they invaded the country in 2003. It’s really extraordinary that the state, as important and as rich, as a matter of fact, as Iraq, cannot protect the second-largest city in the country.

It also vindicates what the secretary-general of the United Nations and myself have been saying for months, years even. And that is that the situation in Syria is like an infected wound: If it is not treated properly, it will spread. And this is what is happening. You know, the secretary-general has very often warned that if Syria is not attended to properly, then most, if not all, of its neighbors were in danger. And this is one of the neighbors of Syria.

Of course, it had—it has its own problems. And this latest development is an addendum, something that has come on top of the problems that were there. Those problems were that the country was more and more divided along sectarian lines, and the corruption was rife, and the government was not capable—has not been capable of re-establishing services, like water, electricity, sewages and so on, at the level they existed under Saddam, when the country was under extremely severe sanctions.

So, this is where we are. Syria is—you know, there is fighting there. There is killing. There is—bombardments are taking place. And people are—you know, there is no development taking place, and people are leaving their homes, their villages, their cities, either remaining inside the country as internally displaced people or going to neighboring countries like Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, in particular. And quite a few of them have gone to Iraq, actually.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Ambassador Brahimi, you mentioned the complicity of the United States invasion of 2003 in the present situation in Iraq.

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI: Yes.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: I want to turn to comments made by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair over the weekend. He said, in fact, the 2003 invasion of Iraq was not responsible for the violent insurgency now engulfing the country. He was speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. Let’s just go to a clip.

TONY BLAIR: So my point is very simple: Even if you left Saddam in place in 2003, then, when 2011 happened and you had the Arab revolutions going through Tunisia and Libya and Yemen and Bahrain and Egypt and Syria, you would have still had a major problem in Iraq. Indeed, you can see what happens when you leave the dictator in place, as has happened with Assad now. But if you say to me, would I prefer a situation where we’d left Saddam in place in 2003—do I think the region would be safer, more stable, if we’d done that—my answer to that is unhesitatingly no.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Ambassador Brahimi, that was former British Prime Minister Tony Blair speaking over the weekend.

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI: Yes.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Could you respond to the comments he made about the 2003 invasion?

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI: You know, the situation in Iraq was extremely bad, and definitely it was called the “Republic of Fear” with reason. You know, you cannot justify post facto an invasion that was absolutely horrible. I mean, first of all, it was unjustified. Second—I mean, it was built on a lie. You know, the weapons of mass destructions were just in the imagination of some people who wanted to invade Iraq. Second, things have—I mean, justifications were invented after—democracy, getting rid of a dictator, and I don’t know what. That very dictator, when he was just as a dictator as he was in 2003, was a very good friend of the United States and of Britain when he was fighting Iran in the ’80s. But let’s, you know, forget about that for the moment. So, the invasion was absolutely horrible.

And this—you know, it has—I mean, let’s talk about what is—what is important to talk about now: terrorism. There was no terrorism. There were no terrorists in Iraq in those days. Terrorism was sucked in, brought in, by—as a direct consequence of the invasion. And it flourished, first of all, in Iraq, and then it went to Syria, and now it is back in Iraq. So, to say that 2003 had nothing to do with what is happening now is a little bit an—I don’t know—overstatement, understatement. Certainly not reality.

AMY GOODMAN: Ambassador Brahimi, Paul Bremer, the first head of the so-called coalitional—Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, one of the first things he did in that role was to sign the Coalition Provisional Authority Orders 1 and 2, completely dismantling Iraq’s government and military. During your tenure as U.N. special envoy for Iraq, you referred to Bremer as, quote, “the dictator of Iraq.” Writing in The Wall Street Journal over the weekend in the wake of the present violence that’s engulfing Iraq, Bremer said, quote, “It is time for both American political parties to cease their ritualistic incantations of ‘no boots on the ground,’ which is not the same as ‘no combat forces.’ Of course Americans are reluctant to re-engage in Iraq. Yet it is President Obama’s unhappy duty to educate them about the risks to our interests posed by the unfolding drama in Iraq.” Can you elaborate, Ambassador Brahimi, on your comments about Paul Bremer being dictator of Iraq and what that meant for Iraq?

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI: You know, I was just repeating something that he said himself. I think he said—and he has written, I think, in his memoirs—that nobody in the history of Iraq had as much power as he had. For my money, that is equivalent to being a dictator. And he was doing everything he wanted.

And you have mentioned, you know, the dissolution of the army. Every American who knew anything about Iraq, and there were quite a few, many of them in government—former ambassadors, people who know Arabic, who know the country, who know the region—they were all unanimous: Don’t touch the army. There are definitely, you know, 10, 15, 100, 1,000 officers that have, you know, blood on their hands, that are corrupt, that should be taken off the army. But keep the army. This is the backbone of the country, and it is going to cooperate with you. And as a matter of fact, a lot of people, including in the military, were already talking to some of the Iraqi militaries to see how they can come back and reorganize themselves and work with the occupying power. But Mr. Bremer—and he was saying that he was under instructions from the secretary of state for defense, Mr. Rumsfeld—said, “No, no, no. We will dissolve the army.” And they went ahead and did it. I think that—you know, I don’t think there is any, any, any argument that that was a mistake then.

Should—what should the Americans do today? I fully understand the hesitation of President Obama to send foreign troops in, American troops into Iraq again. As a principle, foreign troops meddling in an internal situation like this is not a very good idea. I also hear that there is a possibility that they will be talking to Iran, and I’m sure that they will be talking to other neighbors of Iraq, chief of them—amongst them, Saudi Arabia, to see what needs to be done to help Iraq solve its problems and perhaps stop these terrorist organizations from making more progress. But be careful that this help from outside does not make things worse. I think that it’s—you know, there is a lot of sectarianism in Iraq. I don’t think there is a secret—that’s a secret or anybody ignores that fact or says it doesn’t exist. So, please, if you help face this ISIS, that’s great, but make sure that you don’t make things worse by making—by supporting more sectarianism, not less sectarianism.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Ambassador Brahimi, on the question of sectarianism, there have been several reports that suggest that in the initial days of the Iraq invasion in 2003, there were some neoconservative members of the Bush administration that actively fostered sectarianism between Sunnis, Shias and Kurds as a way of—as a policy of kind of divide and rule. Could you comment on that?

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI: I have told my American friends several times, of course, I am not privy to what was taking place in the Pentagon, where responsibility lied for Iraq. President Bush had given full, total responsibility to the Pentagon over Iraq. What was discussed there and what they did there, I don’t know. But as somebody from the region just looking at what was actually taking place, it was extremely hard not to believe that sectarianism was being promoted and that the people that were being put in charge were—I mean, of course the Kurdish region was given to Kurds 100 percent, and no—the rest of the Iraqis had no part in it. But in the rest of Iraq, the impression one had was that the people that were preferred by the occupying powers were the most sectarian Shia and the most pro-Iranian Shia, so, you know, that Iran—that Iraq is now very, very close to Iran. Again, from the point of view of somebody who looks at things from outside, I have absolutely no knowledge of what went on in the high spheres of power in Washington. The impression we had is that these people were put in charge either out of total ignorance—and that is extremely difficult to accept—or intentionally. But the fact is, you know, that the system that was established was very sectarian.

AMY GOODMAN: Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi. He resigned his post last month as United Nations-Arab League special envoy for Syria. We’ll be back with him in a moment.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue our conversation with Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi. He resigned as U.N.-Arab League special envoy to Syria last month. Democracy Now!’s Nermeen Shaikh and I interviewed him yesterday. He’s in Paris, France. I asked him what the gravest error of the U.S. was in its 2003 invasion of Iraq.

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI: The biggest mistake was to invade Iraq. Having invaded Iraq, you know, I would be probably very, very unfair, but I am tempted to say that every time there was a choice between something right and something wrong, not very often the right option was taken.

If you want one instance of what was wrong, it’s probably the dissolution of the army, because the army was the backbone of the country, because the army was nonsectarian. You know, the majority of the soldiers were Shia. And I think in the officer corps—it would be very interesting to take a look back—you would find that there were a lot of Shia in it. Saddam was not—you know, I mean, didn’t care about who was Sunni or who was Shia. What he cared for is who was with him and who was not, you know, who would—whom he considers as loyal 1,000 percent and whom he does not. You know, I asked some American friends, couple of times—I don’t know if you remember that deck of cards with Saddam being the ace of spades. Out of those 54 bad guys in Iraq, I used to ask my American friends whether they knew how many Shia were in that deck of cards. One of them said zero. One of them said four or five. Actually, the number of Shia in that deck of cards was 35.

During the war, I mean, Saddam was terribly unfair. Although a lot of Shia were fighting in the ranks of army of their country against Shia Iran, I think he was extremely suspicious of the Shia, because they were Shia. And he has killed a lot of religious leaders, a lot of—so, you know, there was—there was that, but nothing like what existed after that and what exists today.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Ambassador Brahimi, you’ve suggested that sectarianism was excarcerbated following the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the U.S.

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI: Yeah, sure.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: One of the other effects, which you mentioned earlier, was the spread of terrorism, and in particular, of suicide attacks in Iraq, which prior to 2003 were unprecedented. In other words, neither Iraq nor Afghanistan nor Pakistan nor Syria had ever witnessed suicide attacks before 9/11 occurred and, subsequent to that, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. So could you talk about some of the implications of that, what the effects of that have been, and how you think that phenomenon, which is now so widespread, should be dealt with?

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI: It did not exist in Iraq. And, you know, this al-Qaeda did not exist at all. It had no dormant cell in Iraq. It was brought in after the invasion as a way of people coming to fight a crusader, a power, invading a sister Muslim country. That is when al-Qaeda came in and started to recruit Iraqis and to bring in non-Iraqis. The ancestor of ISIS was created as a direct consequence of the invasion of Iraq, nothing else. And, you know, it developed and so on, and you remember 2005, 2006, 2007 were absolutely horrible years in Iraq, when civil war was really taking place, with the Americans at the receiving end themselves. And, of course, they destroyed Fallujah completely; the Americans destroyed the city of Fallujah completely.

Car bombs and so on did exist before, but it did no exist in Iraq, and al-Qaeda had absolutely no presence in Iraq before the invasion. It really became a reality as a direct consequence of the invasion in 2003 and developed from there. And what you see today there is the son or the grandson of what happened in—I mean, you know, I’m sure some of your viewers may remember the name of Zarqawi, a Jordanian, very, very cruel man who was one of the leaders of the al-Qaeda in Iraq in those years, 2005, 2006. So, this is it. Al-Qaeda and what—the terrorist organizations that exist today in—as far as Iraq is concerned, and Syria, as a matter of fact, their origin is definitely post-2003.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: I want to turn to comments made by the former U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford. He resigned from his position in May. He was speaking to Christiane Amanpour on CNN earlier this month.

ROBERT FORD: I was no longer in a position where I felt I could defend the American policy. We have been unable to address either the root causes of the conflict, in terms of the fighting on the ground and the balance on the ground, and we have a growing extremism threat. And there really is nothing we can point to that’s been very successful in our policy, except the removal of about 93 percent of some of Assad’s chemical materials. But now he’s using chlorine gas against his opponents, in contravention of the Syrian government’s agreement in 2013 to abide by the Chemical Weapons Convention. The regime simply has no credibility, and our policy is not addressing the Syrian crisis as it needs to.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: That was Robert Ford, the former U.S. ambassador to Syria. Ambassador Brahimi, could you comment on what he said and also what you see the flaws with U.S. policy vis-à-vis Syria being today?

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI: I was very, very surprised when I heard him say that he left because he couldn’t support the American policy anymore. Very, very surprised that—you know, of course, I’m not familiar with what was going on inside the government and what discussions he had with the secretary of state and others before he left, but the impression I had was that he left because he reached retirement age and he was tired of dealing with a very, very difficult problem in Syria. That was understandable. This is—this is something, you know, very surprising to me, what he said about him not capable of supporting the U.S. policy anymore. Again, the view in the region was that he was making the policy, or at least he was taking a very, very important part in making that policy.

You know, what was wrong with American policy, I think every single party that dealt with Syria over the last three years have made mistakes. The United States, like everybody else, misjudged the meaning and the—you know, what was happening and, you know, where things were going. You know, mistakes were made in Tunisia, when everybody thought that, you know, President Ben Ali was so strong, so well organized, that these demonstrations are going to last two days, three days, three or two weeks, and then they will be over and the men will be there. He left after less than a month. Mubarak in Egypt—you know, Egypt is a stable country, a very well-organized country. Their police was tremendously strong and well equipped. They will manage to—you know, to ride this storm. And to be fair, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, they took quite a while. They were telling those young people, I mean, “Go home. You know, you are going to be killed for nothing. The regime is not going to fall.” This is—this was—so, everybody made a mistake there. So when the—you know, and Libya, Libya, the country, you know, everybody thought that Libya would fall in a matter of days. It took several months and several billion dollars spent by the Americans, the French, the British and others in bombarding and destroying the country. And, by the way, look at the results: They are not great.

When the turn of Syria came, I think, understandably, everybody said, “Ah, OK, you know, this is now the trend. People—I mean, this regime resist one month, three weeks, six months. So this will be the case in Syria.” So I think that the Americans, like everybody else, thought that the regime was going to fall, and everybody started talking about the day after. And people were afraid that they would not be ready for the day after, that the regime will fall, and we will not be ready how to help the country rebuild and so on and so forth. It has taken maybe almost three years, three, four years, before people started to realize that this was different. And by the way, the Russians were the first who said this—Syria is not going to follow suit to what happened in Tunisia and Egypt; the regime is not going to fall. And nobody listened to them. I think if we had, perhaps it would have been better for all of us.

AMY GOODMAN: Why did you quit as former U.N. and Arab League envoy for Syria?

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI: You know, I wanted to quit one year before I did, because in these kind of jobs, you come and try a few ideas and then move on. This is not a 9:00 to 5:00 job that you do for years and years. That is one reason.

The second reason is that, you know, we organized that conference in Montreux, Switzerland, and we moved from there to what we thought was going to be negotiations between the opposition and the government. And that was a failure, mainly because of the government. And then the government announced that they were organizing presidential elections, meaning that they were going a totally different way from what we were discussing in Geneva. So I think it was the normal thing for me to do.

I have tried this working with the Russians and the Americans. Together, the three of us have organized the Geneva II Conference. I led those discussions, two rounds of discussions in Geneva. That has taken us nowhere. I think it is time to tell the Syrian people we are not delivering, and we—I apologize to them for that, but also to tell everybody else, “Please be careful. This is—this is a very, very bad, very complicated, very dangerous situation, and you have got to pay more attention to it.” I hope that, you know, they will pay a little bit more attention and that they will help the secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, who is really devoting a great deal of attention to Syria. I hope that he will be helped to do a better job than I have been able to do until the end of May.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Ambassador Brahimi, you’ve also suggested, in an interview you gave to the German news magazine Der Spiegel earlier this month, that the situation in Syria is so much worse than it was in Afghanistan in 1999 when you resigned your U.N. position there. Could you explain why you think that’s the case?

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI: You know, in Afghanistan, there was a, yeah, civil war, but the factions in Afghanistan were not over-armed the way the parties that are involved in Syria are. There was—you know, nobody had the aviation that the Syrian government has or the tanks and the artillery that they have. It was, you know, this horrible war, low-intensity civil war. And, you know, the Afghans were, in their way, much better organized and also much more open in their discussions with us. For example, we never had, in all those wars of civil war—you know, after the Russians left, anyway, that’s the part I know—we never had any problem going for the vaccination in spring. All the factions knew that teams from the United Nations were going to go all over the country and vaccinate kids. And that happened. It hasn’t been that easy in Syria.

You know, the Russians had destroyed quite a little bit of the country, and the Afghans, very early on, before the Taliban, destroyed Kabul when the Russians left. But after that, there wasn’t that kind of destruction that you see in Syria now. Homs—friends who went to Homs recently told me that it looks like the pictures we see of Berlin in 1945. So the level of destruction is absolutely horrible. You know, when I arrived on the scene in ’97, with the years of Russians and the—of the internal civil war between the factions, there was something like five million refugees from Afghanistan. In three years only, in Syria, we have two million and a half refugees, six or seven million internally displaced. And by next year, if things continue the way they are, we are going to have four million refugees—population being about the same, 23 million in Syria, maybe 25 or 26 [million] in Afghanistan. So, the level of violence and destruction is much higher in Syria than it was in Afghanistan.

AMY GOODMAN: Lakhdar Brahimi, who resigned his post last month as United Nations-Arab League special envoy for Syria. We’ll be back with him in a minute.

this pressed from USA Today: Report: Britain IDs man in video of Foley’s death


Report: Britain IDs man in video of Foley’s death.

Refugee Numbers Highest Since World War II (51, 000, 000 people forced to leave their homes: shame on the world leaders and ONU!)


Refugee Numbers Highest Since
World War II

The number of refugees worldwide has risen to levels not seen since World War II. There are an estimated 51.2 million people now displaced from their homes by conflict and persecution. Of these, 6.3 million have been living in “protracted” refugee situations, meaning they have been refugees for years, even decades. The surge in refugees is straining available resources and destabilizing some of the countries to which they have fled. More… Discuss

this pressed: The Iraq-ISIS Conflict in Maps, Photos and Video – NYTimes.com


 

Excepts from the article: Growing Humanitarian Crisis Published June 12 TweetThe United Nations estimates that at least 500,000 Iraqis were displaced by the takeover of Mosul. Food supplies are low and there is limited fresh water and little electricity. An additional 430,000 people were displaced by fighting In Anbar Province, which insurgents have controlled for more than six months.

The Iraq-ISIS Conflict in Maps, Photos and Video – NYTimes.com.

Insurgents Take Second Iraqi City


Insurgents Take Second Iraqi City

Insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), an offshoot of al-Qaeda several thousand fighters strong that controls considerable territory in eastern Syria and western and central Iraq, have attacked cities around western and northern Iraq this week and taken two of them, Mosul and Tikrit. As many as 500,000 people fled Mosul after the city was attacked. Even security forces reportedly fled. But government leaders have vowed to repel the militants. More… Discuss

news: Cancer in Refugee Camps


Cancer in Refugee Camps

Historically, combating infectious diseases and malnutrition have been the primary concerns of health workers in refugee camps. Unfortunately, this leaves those refugees with equally deadly but non-communicative and expensive-to-treat diseases, like cancer, with few treatment options. This is a growing problem, say researchers, as refugees today remain displaced for substantially longer periods than in the past and the numbers of those displaced have swelled considerably in recent years. Between 2010 and 2012, the UNHCR Exceptional Care Committee, which funds costly medical care for refugees, approved and funded just half of the applications from refugees in Jordan with cancer. More… Discuss

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WORD: mawkish


mawkish

Definition: (adjective) Excessively and objectionably sentimental.
Synonyms: bathetic, hokey, maudlin, schmaltzy, sentimental, mushy, drippy
Usage: His pathos is often exaggerated until it passes into mawkish sentimentality. Discuss.
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Polio Is Global Public Health Emergency


Polio Is Global Public Health Emergency

Recent gains in the fight against polio are at risk of being undone if the international community does not take swift action, says the World Health Organization (WHO). This year is currently on track to see a greater number of polio cases worldwide than last year, with Pakistan, Syria, and Cameroon posing the greatest threat of exporting the virus to other countries, having already spread it to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Equatorial Guinea respectively. The WHO is therefore recommending emergency measures to curtail the spread, including having affected countries vaccinate people planning to travel abroad prior to their departure. More… Discuss

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Vivaldi – Concerto No. 1 in E Major, OP. 8, RV 269 : The Four Seasons: Spring


[youtube.com/watch?v=-4kTei0XrCs]

Vivaldi – The Four Seasons: Spring

THIS DAY IN THE YESTERYEAR: UK CALLS OFF THE TODDLERS’ TRUCE (1957)


UK Calls Off the Toddlers’ Truce (1957)

Today we are used to turning on the television at any hour of the day or night and having access to countless channels broadcasting all manner of program, but this was not always the case. In television’s early days, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was the UK’s sole public broadcaster; it started out with just one channel, and it cut its feed from 6PM to 7PM to accommodate parents putting their children to bed. What caused the BBC to eventually abandon the so-called Toddlers’ Truce?More… Discuss

 

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Saint of the Day for Friday, February 7th, 2014: St. Mosses


Saint of the Day for Friday, February 7th, 2014: ST. MOSES

Image of St. Moses

St. Moses

Arab hermit and bishop who is called “the Apostle of the Saracens.” He lived in the desert regions of Syria and Egypt, caring for the local nomadic tribes. When the Romans imposed peace upon the … continue reading

More Saints of the Day

 

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NEWS: UN: HALF OF SYRIANS NOW IN URGENT NEED OF AID


UN: Half of Syrians Now in Urgent Need of Aid

The situation in Syria is dire. According to UN estimates, half of the Syrian population is in urgent need of aid. The bloody uprising that began in 2011 has claimed more than 100,000 lives and displaced millions. Some 2.3 million people have fled Syria for neighboring countries, and more than twice this number are displaced within the country. About 9.3 million Syrians, nearly half of whom are children, are now in desperate need of assistance. The UN is appealing to the international community for $6.5 billion (£4 billion), the largest UN appeal for a single cause to date. More… Discuss

 

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POSSIBLE POLIO CASES REPORTED IN WAR-TORN SYRIA


Possible Polio Cases Reported in War-Torn Syria

Intense global eradication efforts over the past quarter century have cut polio incidence by more than 99% and eliminated it in much of the world. Today, it remains endemic in only three countries—Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. However, the ongoing civil war in Syriahas made it impossible to effectively vaccinate much of the population, and now the World Health Organization has received reports of two suspected cases of polio there. Before this possible outbreak, wild poliovirus had not been reported in Syria in 14 years. More… Discuss

 

John Kerry


 

 
 
For the sixteenth-century English politician, see John Kerry (MP).
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John Kerry
John Kerry official Secretary of State portrait.jpg
68th United States Secretary of State
Incumbent
Assumed office
February 1, 2013
President Barack Obama
Deputy William Joseph Burns
Preceded by Hillary Rodham Clinton
United States Senator
from Massachusetts
In office
January 3, 1985 – February 1, 2013
Preceded by Paul Tsongas
Succeeded by Mo Cowan
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
In office
January 6, 2009 – February 1, 2013
Preceded by Joe Biden
Succeeded by Bob Menendez
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
In office
January 4, 2007 – January 3, 2009
Preceded by Olympia Snowe
Succeeded by Mary Landrieu
In office
June 6, 2001 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by Kit Bond
Succeeded by Olympia Snowe
In office
January 3, 2001 – January 20, 2001
Preceded by Kit Bond
Succeeded by Kit Bond
66th Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts
In office
March 6, 1983 – January 2, 1985
Governor Michael Dukakis
Preceded by Thomas O’Neill
Succeeded by Evelyn Murphy
Personal details
Born John Forbes Kerry
December 11, 1943 (age 69)
AuroraColorado, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Julia Thorne (1970–1988)
Teresa Heinz (1995–present)
Children Alexandra
Vanessa
John (Stepson)
André (Stepson)
Christopher (Stepson)
Alma mater Yale University
Boston College
Religion Roman Catholicism
Signature
Website http://state.gov/secretary
Military service
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1966–1978
Rank US-O3 insignia.svg Lieutenant
Unit USS Gridley (DLG-21)
Coastal Squadron 1
Commands PCF-44
PCF-94
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Awards Silver Star ribbon.svg Silver Star
Bronze Star ribbon.svg Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart BAR.svg Purple Heart (3)

John Forbes Kerry (born December 11, 1943) is an American politician who is the 68th and current United States Secretary of State. He served as a United States Senator from Massachusetts from 1985 to 2013, and was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Kerry was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2004 presidential election but lost to incumbent George W. Bush.

The son of an Army Air Corps veteran, Kerry was born in Aurora, Colorado. He attended boarding school inMassachusetts and New Hampshire and went on to graduate from Yale University class of 1966, where he majored inpolitical science and became a member of the Skull and Bones secret society. He enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1966, and during 1968–1969 served an abbreviated four-month tour of duty in South Vietnam as officer-in-charge (OIC) of aSwift Boat. For that service, he was awarded combat medals that include the Silver StarBronze Star, and three Purple Hearts. Securing an early return to the United States, Kerry joined the Vietnam Veterans Against the War in which he served as a nationally recognized spokesman and as an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War. He appeared before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs where he deemed United States war policy in Vietnam to be the cause of “war crimes.”

After receiving his J.D. from Boston College Law School, Kerry worked as an Assistant District Attorney and co-founded a private firm. He served as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts under Michael Dukakis from 1983 to 1985, where he worked on an early forerunner to the national Clean Air Act. He won a tight Democratic primary in 1984 for the U.S. Senate and was sworn in the following January. On the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he led a series of hearingsfrom 1987 to 1989 which were a precursor to the Iran–Contra affair.

In 2002, Kerry voted to authorize the President “to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein“, but warned that the administration should exhaust its diplomatic avenues before launching war. Kerry based his 2004 presidential campaign on opposition to the Iraq War. He and his running mate Senator John Edwards lost the race, finishing 35electoral votes behind the Republican ticket headed by President George W. Bush (just 19 short of the 270 required for election). Subsequently, he established the Keeping America’s Promise PAC.

Kerry became chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2009, and in 2011 he was appointed to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. Having been nominated by President Barack Obama to succeed outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and then confirmed by the U.S. Senate by a vote of 94–3 on January 29, 2013, Kerry assumed the office on February 1, 2013

Syria Govenrnment’s: “No evidence has been shown” they are responsible for attack


http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57601138/strike-on-syria-may-unleash-more-turmoil-u.n-secretary-general-ban-ki-moon-warns/

Syria gov’t: “No evidence has been shown” they are responsible for attack

September 3, 2013, 12:22 AM

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister tells CBS NewsElizabeth Palmer that “armed groups” were behind Damascus attack which killed hundreds, and Washington should put forward credible evidence to prove their case that the Syrian government used chemical weapons.

SYRIAN CRISIS HAS CREATED ONE MILLION CHILD REFUGEES


Syrian Crisis Has Created One Million Child Refugees

As reports emerge of another alleged chemical weaponattack by the Syrian government against its own people, the flood of refugees out of the war-torn country has continued. This week, the one millionth child refugee fledSyria. Another two million children are displaced within the country. The UN High Commissioner for Refugeesworries that an entire generation of Syrian youth is now at risk, as even those that escape physical harm may well suffer psychological trauma as a result of the violence and losses they have endured. The current refugee crisis is the worst in decades, reaching levels not seen since the Rwandan genocideMore… Discuss

 

Glenn Greenwald: Interview on Democracy Now


Glenn Greenwald: As WikiLeaks Reveals Syria Files, Assange Remains in Ecuador Embassy Seeking Asylum

Glenn Greenwald: As WikiLeaks Reveals Syria Files, Assange Remains in Ecuador Embassy Seeking Asylum

War: “What Is Good For”


U.S. General Wesley Clark (Ret.), explains that the Bush Administration planned to take out 7 countries in 5 years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Lybia, Somalia, Sudan, Iran. While that plan was certainly delayed President Obama is carrying out the plan. Lybia was Obama’s war and next up on Obama’s list is Syria.

Latakia


Latakia

Latakia is Syria‘s principal port city and a manufacturing center for nearby agricultural towns and villages. Formerly the ancient Phoenician city of Ramitha, it was rebuilt circa 290 BCE by one of Alexander the Great’s generals and prospered under Roman rule. Byzantines and Arabs fought over it from the 7th to 11th century, and it was captured in 1098 by the Crusaders and in 1188 by Saladin. From the 16th century to WWI, it was part of the Ottoman Empire, after which it fell into whose hands? More… Discuss