Category Archives: Middle East & North Africa

Ukraine and Gaza: Spot the difference in the value of civilian lives killed by war

Lindsey German writes for Stop the War:

‘The fear Channel 4 journalist Jon Snow’s expressed on Twitter has turned out to be all too prophetic: “Awful danger that the shooting down of flight MH17 will provide cover for an intensification of Israel’s ground war in Gaza”. Yet the coverage of both events in the western media shows a quite shocking disproportion of standards between the two. While new Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond argued the case for more sanctions on Russia as a result of the shooting, David Cameron, writing in the Sunday Times, went even further:

“This is a direct result of Russia destabilising a sovereign state, violating its territorial integrity, backing thuggish militias and training and arming them. We must turn this moment of outrage into a moment of action.”

The wording is uncannily reminiscent of Tony Blair’s call for action after 9/11, which has created much of the horror we are now seeing in the world. The media refer to Putin as a ‘terrorist’, there are calls to brand the Ukrainian separatist organisations as terrorist, and there are demands from the Dutch and other governments to take even stronger strong action against Russia.

It is hardly worth recording that attitudes to Israeli bombing and ground invasion are completely different in tone, let alone in trying to apply serious sanctions to a government which has repeatedly attacked Palestinians and who used the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish students on the West Bank to launch another attack on Gaza. When Philip Hammond was asked, by the BBC’s Andrew Marr, whether Israel was acting disproportionately in Gaza, he three times refused to answer, but blamed Hamas.’

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Remember when the U.S. shot down Iran Air Flight 655?

US Weaponizes Nearly Every Major World Conflict

Abby Martin reports on the militant group ISIS seizing 52 US-made heavy artillery cannons, going over several other examples of US weapons playing a role in almost every major global conflict.’ (Breaking the Set)

Chilcot inquiry: Blair and Straw to get warning letters ahead of publication of report into Iraq invasion

Mark Leftly reports for The Independent:

‘Sir John Chilcot, chair of the public inquiry into the 2003 invasion of Iraq, is poised to send formal letters to those whose conduct he criticises in his final report.

The then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, are among those expected to be sent what are known as “Salmon” or “Maxwellisation” letters in the coming weeks. Anyone criticised in public inquiries is entitled to see and challenge extracts related to them before publication. The letters are named after Lord Salmon, who held a public ethics inquiry in the 1970s, and the late newspaper baron Robert Maxwell, who challenged the way criticisms of his dealings were handled in a public report.’

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Gaza: Israel’s $4 billion gas grab

Nafeez Ahmed writes for The Ecologist:

‘Israel’s defence minister is on record confirming that military plans to uproot Hamas’ are about securing control of Gaza’s gas reserves. The conquest of Gaza is accelerating. Israel has now launched its ground invasion… Last Tuesday, Israeli defence minister and former Israeli Defence Force (IDF) chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon announced that Operation Protective Edge marks the beginning of a protracted assault on Hamas. The operation “won’t end in just a few days”, he said, adding that “we are preparing to expand the operation by all means standing at our disposal so as to continue striking Hamas.”

The following morning, he went on: “We continue with strikes that draw a very heavy price from Hamas. We are destroying weapons, terror infrastructures, command and control systems, Hamas institutions, regime buildings, the houses of terrorists, and killing terrorists of various ranks of command … The campaign against Hamas will expand in the coming days, and the price the organization will pay will be very heavy.” But in 2007, a year before Operation Cast Lead, Ya’alon’s concerns focused on the 1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas discovered in 2000 off the Gaza coast, valued at $4 billion.

Ya’alon dismissed the notion that “Gaza gas can be a key driver of an economically more viable Palestinian state” as “misguided”. The problem, he said is that “Proceeds of a Palestinian gas sale to Israel would likely not trickle down to help an impoverished Palestinian public. Rather, based on Israel’s past experience, the proceeds will likely serve to fund further terror attacks against Israel … A gas transaction with the Palestinian Authority will, by definition, involve Hamas. Hamas will either benefit from the royalties or it will sabotage the project and launch attacks against Fatah, the gas installations, Israel – or all three … It is clear that without an overall military operation to uproot Hamas control of Gaza, no drilling work can take place without the consent of the radical Islamic movement.”‘

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Israel Bombs Gaza’s Only Rehab Hospital: Staff Forced to Evacuate Paralyzed Patients After Shelling

‘Al-Wafa Hospital, the only rehabilitation hospital in Gaza and the West Bank, was shelled by Israel on Thursday. At the time of the attack, the hospital was filled with patients who were paralyzed, unconscious and unable to move. We speak with the hospital’s executive director, Basman Alashi, who says the hospital received a warning call ahead of the assault. “I don’t understand why they hit us,” Alashi says. “We’ve been in this place since 1996, we are known to the Israeli government.” Alashi says no one was injured but the building was heavily damaged.’ (Democracy Now!)

Channel 4 News anchor Jon Snow tears into Israeli PM’s chief spokesperson Mark Regev

NBC News Reverses Decision, Will Put Ayman Mohyeldin Back in Gaza

Matt Wilstein writes for Mediate:

‘On Thursday, NBC News reportedly pulled correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin out of the Gaza Strip citing “security concerns.” Meanwhile, NBC News correspondent Richard Engel was allowed to stay in the region. But now, it appears the network has reversed its decision and will be sending the reporter back to Gaza to continue his coverage as soon as possible.’

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CNN Removes Reporter Diana Magnay From Israel-Gaza After ‘Scum’ Tweet

Michael Calderone reports for The Huffington Post:

‘CNN has removed correspondent Diana Magnay from covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after she tweeted that Israelis who were cheering the bombing of Gaza, and who had allegedly threatened her, were “scum.”

“After being threatened and harassed before and during a liveshot, Diana reacted angrily on Twitter,” a CNN spokeswoman said in a statement to The Huffington Post. “She deeply regrets the language used, which was aimed directly at those who had been targeting our crew,” the spokeswoman continued. “She certainly meant no offense to anyone beyond that group, and she and CNN apologize for any offense that may have been taken.”

The spokeswoman said Magnay has been assigned to Moscow.’

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57 Years Ago: U.S. and Britain Approved Use of Islamic Extremists to Topple Syrian Government

From Washington’s Blog:

http://heavyeditorial.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/territorial_control_of_the_isis-svg.png?w=640&h=489‘BBC reports that – in 1957 – the British and American leaders approved the use of Islamic extremists and false flag attacks to topple the Syrian government:

Nearly 50 years before the war in Iraq, Britain and America sought a secretive “regime change” in another Arab country… by planning the invasion of Syria and the assassination of leading figures.

Newly discovered documents show how in 1957 [former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom] Harold Macmillan and President Dwight Eisenhower approved a CIA-MI6 plan to stage fake border incidents as an excuse for an invasion by Syria’s pro-western neighbours, and then to “eliminate” the most influential triumvirate in Damascus.

Although historians know that intelligence services had sought to topple the Syrian regime in the autumn of 1957, this is the first time any document has been found showing that the assassination of three leading figures was at the heart of the scheme. In the document drawn up by a top secret and high-level working group that met in Washington in September 1957, Mr Macmillan and President Eisenhower were left in no doubt about the need to assassinate the top men in Damascus.

Mr Macmillan ordered the plan withheld even from British chiefs of staff, because of their tendency “to chatter”.

Driving the call for action was the CIA’s Middle East chief Kermit Roosevelt, grandson of former president Theodore Roosevelt.

Kermit Roosevelt had a proven track record in this sort of thing.  According to the New York Times, he was the leader of the CIA’s coup in Iran in 1953, which – as subsequently admitted by the CIA – used false flag terror to topple the democratically elected leader or Iran.’

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‘Water war’ threatens Syria lifeline

Danya Chudacoff writes for Al Jazeera:

‘When severe water cuts began to hit Aleppo province in early May, residents started referring to a “water war” being waged at the expense of civilians. Images of beleaguered women and children drinking from open channels and carrying jerry cans of untreated groundwater only confirmed that the suffering across northern Syria had taken a turn for the worse. However, lost in the daily reports was a far more pernicious crisis coming to a head: a record six-metre drop in Lake Assad, the reservoir of Syria’s largest hydroelectric dam and the main source of water for drinking and irrigation to about five million people.

Under the watch of the  Islamic State group – formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – levels in Lake Assad have dropped so low that pumps used to funnel water east and west are either entirely out of commission or functioning at significantly reduced levels. The shortages compel residents in Aleppo and Al Raqqa to draw water from unreliable sources, which can pose serious health risks. The primary reason behind the drop appears to be a dramatic spike in electricity generation at the Euphrates Dam in al-Tabqa, which has been forced to work at alarmingly high rates.’

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Isis Marches Further Into Syria Tipping the Balance of Power in the Civil War

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

Syrian rebels with tank.

‘Isis fighters have captured much of eastern Syria in the past few days while international attention has been focused on the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. Using tanks and artillery seized in Iraq, it has taken almost all of oil-rich Deir Ezzor province and is battling to crush the resistance of the Syrian Kurds.

Isis is establishing dominance over the opposition to Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad, as other rebel groups flee or pledge allegiance to the caliphate declared by the Isis leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, after the capture of Mosul on 10 June. On Monday, the jihadists took over the rebel held half of Deir Ezzor on the Euphrates river, raising their black flag over the city and executing the rebel commander from Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qa’ida affiliate that was previously in control.

The recent Isis advances in Syria, following victories in Iraq last month, are altering the balance of power in the whole region. The opposition military forces not aligned with the Syrian government or Isis are being squeezed out of existence, making obsolete the US, British, Saudi and Turkish policy of backing groups hostile to both Assad and Isis.’

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Aleppo’s fall could prove turning point

Sophie Cousins reports for DW:

‘Aleppo, formerly Syria’s commercial hub, has been the target of the conflict’s most vicious air campaign, with government barrel bombs – oil drums packed with hundreds of kilograms of explosives and metal fragments – killing thousands in the rebel-held areas this year.Fears of a siege by government forces have risen after the army made dramatic gains in the last two weeks, taking the Sheikh Naijar industrial zone in the northeast.

…Yezid Sayigh, senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, said the recapture of Aleppo would constitute a shift in the conflict. “The retaking of Aleppo would represent a big blow in terms of morale and political significance,” he told DW. “For the regime to reassert effective control of the city is a big signal of its ability to turn the tide and fight its way back. It doesn’t represent a major military prize, but a political one.”‘

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Assad begins third 7-Year term in Syria, vows to look after its people

Hwaida Saad and Alan Cowell report for The New York Times:

‘Feted by supporters, whom he hailed as the victors of his country’s brutal civil war, a triumphant President Bashar al-Assad was sworn in on Wednesday for a third seven-year term after an election that was widely seen as a gesture of calculated defiance toward the United States and others in the West and in the Arab world seeking his ouster.

With his right hand on the Quran, the holy book of Islam, Mr. Assad took the oath at the People’s Palace overlooking Damascus, the capital. But even as he prepared for a new term, rebels offered a counterpoint, firing five mortar shells into Damascus and killing four people. Two shells landed near the central Umayyad Square, the official news agency SANA said.’

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Why Opposing the Israel Lobby Is No Longer Political Suicide

Phyllis Bennis writes for The Nation:

Palestinian woman‘[...] Something is different this time. And not only that the assault is different, and worse. The difference is the political environment in which this attack is happening, especially the political environment here in the United States. For those of us who’ve been working on changing US policy in the Middle East for decades, the bad news is in front of us every day: that policy hasn’t changed, and billions of dollars in aid money and uncritical political, diplomatic and military support for Israel remains constant.

But there is some good news. It’s only obvious when you can back up for a moment to look past the daily bad-news reality. The good news is that the discourse has shifted dramatically—in mainstream news coverage, punditry, pop culture and more. It’s much better than ever. They don’t get it right, still, but things are changing. Twelve years ago, during the siege of Yasir Arafat’s compound in Ramallah and the surrounding of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, we didn’t hear many Palestinian voices in the mainstream press. In 2006, during Israel’s attack on Gaza,The New York Times and NPR didn’t send their reporters to the Khan Younis refugee camp or to Gaza City.

But the coverage had already begun to shift during Cast Lead, the three-week Israeli war against Gaza in 2008–09, and we realized then how much the media changes reflected the overall discourse shift. Despite Israeli efforts to exclude the international press, Al Jazeera and other Arabic channels were broadcasting live out of Gaza. The Times had a terrific young stringer, Taghreed el-Khodary, filing hour by hour. Israel probably wouldn’t have allowed her into the Strip, but they couldn’t stop her, she was already there—born and raised in Gaza and living with her family.’

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Be Wary of Stories Quoting One “Israeli Official”

Joshua Keating writes for Slate:

‘This morning, a number of outlets including the BBC, AFP, and Reuters quoted claims by an unnamed Israel official who said that the Israeli government and Hamas had agreed to a ceasefire due to take effect tomorrow morning. The reports were quickly denied by both Hamas and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman though there are apparently ongoing talks facilitated by the Egyptian government in Cairo.

It’s not unusual for conflict statements to come out of a government during combat and high-pressure negotiations. The quick reversal struck me only because the New York Times led its front page this morning with an article declaring that a ground invasion of Gaza is “increasingly likely” according to a “senior Israeli military official.” The official “spoke on the condition of anonymity under military protocol” and “said that his assessment was based on “the signals I get””.’

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Report: Hamas, Islamic Jihad offer 10-year truce

Ma’an reports:

Hamas and Islamic Jihad have submitted a list of 10 demands to Egypt to establish a 10-year truce with Israel, the Hebrew-language daily Maariv reported Wednesday. Maariv quoted a “high-profile” Palestinian source as confirming that Hamas and Islamic Jihad were willing to sign a truce if their 10 conditions were met.

The first demand, according to Maariv, is the withdrawal of Israeli military tanks from the border fence area to a distance that enables Gaza farmers to access their fields and tend them freely. In addition, Israel must free all Palestinian prisoners detained after the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the southern West Bank including those who were freed as part of Gilad Shalit prisoner swap. This precondition also includes softening procedures against all prisoners in Israeli custody.’

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US Taxes Pay for Israeli War Crimes

Ida Audeh writes for Antiwar:

With numbing regularity, Israel bombs the Gaza Strip, home to 1.8 million Palestinians, from the air, land, and sea, and the excuse is always the same: Hamas “terrorists” don’t accept Israel’s “right to exist.” The specific trigger this time: the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers.

Hamas has publicly stated that it was not responsible for the deaths, and the claim is credible. Increasingly isolated, it had just concluded reconciliation talks with Fatah, a popular move with the Palestinian public, which it was not likely to jeopardize.

Bombing Gaza is convenient for Israel for many reasons: It ends further progress on Palestinian unity talks. It ends focus on the failure of the Kerry peace talks during which Israel continued to announce illegal settlement construction. It reminds all Palestinians that they will suffer a similar fate if they have the temerity to defy Israel. And it unites Israelis like nothing else.’

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Senate panel votes to double U.S. funding for Israel’s Iron Dome system

Donna Cassata reports for the Associated Press:

‘Congress is showing tangible support for longtime ally Israel as Gaza militants fire rockets, backing a measure that would double the amount of money for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.

The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee approved a defense spending bill on Tuesday that would provide $621.6 million for Israeli missile defense, including $351 million for the Iron Dome system that intercepts short-range rockets and mortars. In the latest hostilities between Israel and Hamas, Iron Dome has been successful in shooting down rockets and preventing Israeli deaths.

“It works,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the subcommittee.’

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Israel’s far-right spreads from the fringes

Bettina Marx writes for DW:

Demonstrators have gathered in Jerusalem’s city center, close to the former border between east and west. They carry Israeli flags and signs, and shout “Mavet la aravim” (Death to Arabs). They flag down taxi drivers, so they can check if they are Jews or Palestinians. The atmosphere is tense. Many Palestinian taxi drivers from occupied East Jerusalem work in the city. One young protester shouts an invective at Palestinians, while another replies: “Give it to them.”

The uproar was sparked by the deaths of three Israeli yeshiva students who were kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank. Their bodies were discovered buried beneath a pile of rubble near Hebron at the end of June. Hamas has been blamed for the deaths, although the group denies responsibility. Speaking at the youths’ funeral, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “A deep and wide chasm separates us from our enemies. They sanctify death; we sanctify life. They sanctify cruelty, and we sanctify mercy. That is the secret and the foundation of our unity.”‘

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After Palestinian Unity Deal, Did Israel Spark Violence to Prevent a New “Peace Offensive”?

‘It is widely thought that the flare-up in Israel and the Occupied Territories began with the kidnapping of three Israeli teens in the West Bank just more than a month ago. But our guests — author Norman Finkelstein and Palestinian political analyst Mouin Rabbani — argue that such a narrative ignores the broader context of decades of occupation, and recent events highlighting the expansionist goals of the Israeli government in the Palestinian land under its control. “Whenever the Palestinians seem like they are trying to reach a settlement of the conflict — which the [Fatah-Hamas] unity government was — at that point Israel does everything it can to provoke a violent reaction, in this case from Hamas, break up the unity government, and then Israel has its pretext,” Finkelstein says. Rabbani and Finkelstein are co-authors of the forthcoming book, “How to Solve the Israel-Palestine Conflict.”‘ (Democracy Now!)

Four out of every five Palestinians killed in Gaza have been civilians, UN reports

Robert Tait reports for The Telegraph:

‘Four out of every five Palestinians killed during Israel’s ongoing military offensive in Gaza have been civilians, including dozens of women and children, the United Nations said Monday.

The statistic was disclosed by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) amid mounting international concern over non-combatant casualties during an operation Israeli officials have said is aimed solely at rooting out militants and stopping rockets being fired into Israel.’

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FM Lieberman: Ending Gaza operation now will only mean more fighting in future

Attila Somfalvi reports for Ynet News:

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Ynet on Monday that Israel must press on with its military operation in the Gaza Strip, or it will find itself in the same situation in the near future.

“If this operation ends now, it is clear to all that it would be just a break before the fourth operation – and that’s not worth a thing,” Lieberman said in an exclusive video interview as Operation Protective Edge went into its seventh day.

Lieberman also alluded to the possibility of an IDF ground incursion into the Gaza Strip, something which senior Israeli officials have long warned could happen if the rocket fire on Israeli communities did not cease.’

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Mainstream Media Manipulates Truth to Fit Pro-Israel Bias

Cypriots File War Crimes Complaint Against Turkey

From the AP:

‘A group of Cypriots on Monday filed a war crimes complaint against Turkey at the International Criminal Court over what they say is its policy of settling Cyprus’ breakaway north with mainland Turks.

Cyprus split into a Turkish-speaking north and an internationally recognized Greek-speaking south in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup that aimed to unite the island with Greece. A Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence is recognized only by Turkey, which maintains 35,000 troops there.’

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America’s Biggest Arms Sale Of 2014 Is To A Country With Fewer Than 300,000 Citizens

Armin Rosen reports for Business Insider:

21430bf6caebadc8b9816559b13f60e2‘Qatar is purchasing $11 billion in Patriot missile batteries and Apache attack helicopters from the United States, according to AFP. It’s the largest single sale of U.S. weaponry in 2014, and it’s to a country with only 278,000 citizens (and about 1.5 million expatriates).

With this purchase, Qatar might be swapping soft power for military might. The gas-rich emirate gambled on the region-wide success of the Muslim Brotherhood in the years after the “Arab Spring” protests. But its strategy toppled with the military coup that removed Mohammed Morsi in Egypt. Qatar’s neighbors also became increasingly suspicious of its support for Islamist movements throughout the Middle East, leading to one of the biggest diplomatic crises in the history of the Gulf monarchies.’

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John Pilger: On Israel, Ukraine and Truth

John Pilger writes for CounterPunch:

‘The other night, I saw George Orwells’s 1984 performed on the London stage. Although crying out for a contemporary interpretation, Orwell’s warning about the future was presented as a period piece: remote, unthreatening, almost reassuring. It was as if Edward Snowden had revealed nothing, Big Brother was not now a digital eavesdropper and Orwell himself had never said, “To be corrupted by totalitarianism, one does not have to live in a totalitarian country.”

Acclaimed by critics, the skilful production was a measure of our cultural and political times. When the lights came up, people were already on their way out. They seemed unmoved, or perhaps other distractions beckoned. “What a mindfuck,” said the young woman, lighting up her phone.

As advanced societies are de-politicised, the changes are both subtle and spectacular. In everyday discourse, political language is turned on its head, as Orwell prophesised in 1984. “Democracy” is now a rhetorical device.  Peace is “perpetual war”. “Global” is imperial. The once hopeful concept of “reform” now means regression, even destruction. “Austerity” is the imposition of extreme capitalism on the poor and the gift of socialism for the rich: an ingenious system under which the majority service the debts of the few.

In the arts, hostility to political truth-telling is an article of bourgeois faith.  “Picasso’s red period,” says an Observer headline, “and why politics don’t make good art.” Consider this in a newspaper that promoted the bloodbath in Iraq as a liberal crusade. Picasso’s lifelong opposition to fascism is a footnote, just as Orwell’s radicalism has faded from the prize that appropriated his name.

A few years ago, Terry Eagleton, then professor of English literature at Manchester University, reckoned that “for the first time in two centuries, there is no eminent British poet, playwright or novelist prepared to question the foundations of the western way of life”. No Shelley speaks for the poor, no Blake for utopian dreams, no Byron damns the corruption of the ruling class, no Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin reveal the moral disaster of capitalism. William Morris, Oscar Wilde, HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw have no equivalents today. Harold Pinter was the last to raise his voice.  Among the insistent voices of consumer- feminism, none echoes Virginia Woolf, who described “the arts of dominating other people … of ruling, of killing, of acquiring land and capital”.’

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Israel ready to help Jordan fend off Iraq insurgents, minister says

Dan Williams reports for Reuters:

‘Israel is ready to meet any Jordanian request to help fight off Islamist insurgents who have overrun part of neighboring Iraq, an Israeli minister said on Friday, although he believed Jordan was capable of defending itself.

Jordan is one of two Arab countries – along with Egypt – to have full peace treaties with Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday praised Amman’s stability while echoing Western powers in pledging support to safeguard it.

Asked to elaborate on the statement, Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said potential Israeli assistance could include sending troops or arms, though he saw that as unlikely. “We have an interest in ensuring that Jordan does not fall to, or be penetrated by, groups like Al-Qaida or Hamas or ISIS,” he told Reuters.’

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ISIS destroying Shiite mosques, holy sites in seized territory

From the Associated Press:

‘Images posted online show that Islamic extremists have destroyed at least 10 ancient shrines and Shiite mosques in territory they have seized in northern Iraq in recent weeks.

The photographs, on a website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremist group, document the destruction in the city of Mosul and the town of Tal Afar. Some of the photos show bulldozers plowing through walls, while others show explosives demolishing the buildings in a cloud of smoke and rubble.

Residents from both Mosul and Tal Afar confirmed the destruction of the sites. Sunni extremists consider Shiites Muslims heretics, and the veneration of saints apostasy.’

What Life In Iraq Was Like Under Saddam Hussein

Wael Al-Sallami writes for Quora:

Chart‘I’m an Iraqi citizen and was just shy of four months old when the Iran-Iraq war ended. At three, I survived Gulf War I and then lived through the economic sanctions for the next 12 or so years. At age 15, I witnessed Gulf War II and spent my teenage years struggling through its aftermath. So needless to say, I spent my early years during Saddam’s worst days; that is, when he turned from America’s favorite ally to its sworn enemy. But was it really safer back then? Did America really help? Or was it actually worse before 2003? Personally, I think those are all misguided questions and here is why:

Iraq was a wealthy nation throughout the ’70s and ’80s, despite the fact that it underwent an eight-year long war with its neighboring nation, Iran. The graph closely follows the timeline I gave in Iraq: Did the west encourage Saddam Hussein to attack and invade Iran in 1980? If so, how did they do it?. A decline is recorded around 1980 (the beginning of Iraq’s war with Iran), followed by a steady recovery starting 1982, and coinciding with America’s very public financial and political support for Iraq. Coming out of the war, Iraq needed a lot of capital to rebuild its damaged infrastructure. However, Kuwait was lowering oil prices in a successful attempt to harm Iraq’s economy. Saddam tried negotiating with Kuwait on several occasions, but to no avail — Kuwait didn’t back down. So he decided to “take back” Kuwait.

Historically, Kuwait was a part of Iraq, and Saddam used this fact to cover up his blood-thirst. The results were devastating for Kuwait, a much smaller country with a fraction of Iraq’s population. Responding to Kuwait’s call for help, the U.S. attacked Iraq in turn and the latter failed to defend itself against the former’s military might. This explains the sharp decline around 1990 in the graph. Fortunately for Saddam, however, the American troops backed down without capturing him and ending it all. The U.S. then sought to enforce economic sanctions on Iraq, thereby sentencing Iraqis to a slow death. In the meantime, Saddam went on building lavish palaces for himself.’

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