The Islamic State

August 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

VICE News reporter Medyan Dairieh spent three weeks embedded with the Islamic State, gaining unprecedented access to the group in Iraq and Syria as the first and only journalist to document its inner workings. Once you watch the film you’ll understand why my friend Faisal al Yafai calls them “a cancer of the Middle East politics and society“.

The Islamic State, a hardline Sunni jihadist group that formerly had ties to al Qaeda, has conquered large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the group has announced its intention to reestablish the caliphate and has declared its leader, the shadowy Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as the caliph.

The lightning advances the Islamic State made across Syria and Iraq in June shocked the world. But it’s not just the group’s military victories that have garnered attention — it’s also the pace with which its members have begun to carve out a viable state.

Flush with cash and US weapons seized during its advances in Iraq, the Islamic State’s expansion shows no sign of slowing down. In the first week of August alone, Islamic State fighters have taken over new areas in northern Iraq, encroaching on Kurdish territory and sending Christians and other minorities fleeing as reports of massacres emerged.

Dr. Mads Gilbert on BBC Hardtalk to discuss Gaza

August 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

The Hamas/Israeli ceasefire in Gaza has allowed Palestinians time to assess the cost of the Israeli offensive both in human lives and damage to buildings and facilities. HARDtalk speaks to Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor just back from Gaza where he works as a volunteer at the main Al-Shifa Hospital. He is also an outspoken political activist on behalf of the Palestinian cause. Does this interfere with his work as a medic and humanitarian?

A Letter To The Arabs

August 5, 2014 § Leave a comment

According to TV sources, the child was killed shortly after the video was uploaded.

A Letter To The Arabs

We are doing fine in Gaza,
Tell us how are YOU doing?
We are doing fine in Gaza,
What about you?
Our martyrs under the rubble
Our children in tents
Asking about you
Where are you?
We are doing fine in Gaza
Tell us how are YOU doing?
The sea is behind us
But we are fighting.
Our enemy is before us
We are still fighting.
We have enough arms
Food, and peace initiatives
We thank you for your support
Our souls, our wounds, our homes,
our faces, our blood, our eyes, our coffins
protect us
from your promises
from your talk.
We are doing fine in Gaza
Tell us how are YOU doing?

Rula Jebreal gives her employer NBC a scolding for its pro-Israel coverage

July 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

More on it here. UPDATE: RJ continues to kick ass in this followup with Chris Hayes.

“Because of AIPAC, and because of the money behind it, and because of Sheldon Adelson, and because of all of us in the media. We are ridiculous. We are disgustingly biased when it comes to this issue,” Jebreal said.

“Look at how many airtime Netanyahu and his folks have on air on a daily basis. Andrea Mitchell and others,” she continued, referring to the MSNBC stalwart whose show airs right before Farrow’s afternoon program. “I never see one Palestinian being interviewed on theses same issues.”

Voices from North Waziristan

June 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

Mahvish Ahmad of the indispensable Tanqeed interviews refugees in Bannu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, displaced from North Waziristan after the launch of the Pakistani Army’s Operation Zarb-e-Azb. Note that these voices go unheard in the Pakistani media and the nationalist and liberal intelligentsia has been cheering on this “war on terror”.

What Realism wrought in Syria

June 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

Some weeks back, I debated the renowned political scientist Steve Walt of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government on Chris Lydon’s excellent Radio Open Source. The debate happened at 3am my time, so I wasn’t as coherent and articulate as I’d have liked to be, and I didn’t get enough time to challenge some of Steve’s statements. I recently wrote the following piece for The National in which I critique what I think is wrong with political Realism, an approach that in most cases I tend to agree with.

Four months after the Syrian regime gassed the neighborhoods of Eastern Ghouta, Ryan Crocker, the blue-eyed scion of the US foreign policy establishment, offered sobering advice. “It is time to consider a future for Syria without Assad’s ouster,” wrote he in an op-ed for the New York Times, “because it is overwhelmingly likely that is what the future will be.”

It is overwhelmingly likely that this is what the future will be, but it is only because there is a readiness in the US foreign policy establishment to consider a future for Syria without Assad’s ouster. The readiness is based on false choices and flawed assumptions. It is undergirded by the intellectual dogmas of realism.

Realism is making a triumphant return after a decade of disasters wrought by neoconservatism. Realists had warned about the folly of invading Iraq and predicted dire consequences. They were proved right. Realism had also served as a useful check on imperial over-reach during the Cold War. As an analytical aid, it is sober, conscious of the limits of power, and leery of what the American sociologist C. Wright Mills called “military metaphysics” – the preference for resolving political problems through military means.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Israel’s drone dealers

May 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

Al Jazeera’s People & Power investigates how Israeli drone technology – first tried and tested in Gaza – came to be used by the US and its allies in Afghanistan and elsewhere. It features our brilliant friend Chris Wood from the

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