Introducing Tanqeed

Tanqeed is an experiment in critical reflection. It is a quarterly e-zine that publishes long form journalism and essays that analyze contemporary Pakistan and South Asia. Four issues appear per year, including essays, reporting and multimedia work published in-between each issue. It aims to dissect a range of issues without falling into a narrative of hopelessness. And it is developing a conversation that is multi-lingual: Tanqeed’s issues are published in English and Urdu.

Tanqeed boasts a great stable of writers including novelist Mohamed Hanif and Pulse co-editor Muhammad Idrees Ahmad. Tanqeed is currently appealing for funds. Donations of five or ten dollars (or more, of course) will be gratefully received. You can donate here.

The West is Wrong on Syria

by Razan Zaitouneh

Human rights lawyer Razan Zaitouneh bemoans the West’s indifference to Assad’s crimes, its focus on chemical weapons but not on the starving children in the areas besieged by Assadist forces, and its failure to arm the Free Army. This was first published at The Damascus Bureau.

Why does the West insist on dealing with our dead and injured as if they were less valuable than a Westerner – and as if our casualties don’t even deserve respect or compassion?

After the chemical massacre in Syria’s two Ghoutas, we believed that the world would, at last, take our interests into account in one way or another. We did not believe that, upon seeing hundreds of dead children, the international community would act only in favour of its narrow interests.

The chemical massacre was a milestone, not only in the Syrian revolution, but also in the Syrians’ consciousness and minds.

I witnessed the massacre myself. I saw the bodies of men, women and children in the streets. I heard the mothers screaming when they found the bodies of their children among the dead

As a human rights activist who has always believed in the humanitarian principles of the United Nations, I can talk for hours about the psychological breakdown and the amount of humiliation I felt after the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 2118. This resolution implies that Bashar al-Assad will continue to rule Syria for at least one more year, with the international community’s acquiescence. The resolution also reveals the lie we have all been living regarding the human rights principles that have not been applied, not even in form, in Syria.  If this is how I have been affected, how does the ordinary Syrian citizen, who has never believed our misleading slogans about human unity and equality, feel after suffering such discrimination and injustice?

The world goes further in disrespecting the sufferings of the Syrians by awarding the Nobel Peace Prize this year to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. This award shows the West has exchanged its moral ethical obligations for the legal ones.

Meanwhile Assad, the real criminal, is free because no one cares.

Continue reading “The West is Wrong on Syria”

Top Five Worst Arguments Against US Airstrikes in Syria

By Malik Little

People like Robin Yassin-Kassab make good arguments against U.S. airstrikes on the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria; the problem is that hardly anyone else is making them. Instead, we usually hear some variation of the following five.

5. Hypocrisy.

The U.S. crossed President Obama’s “red line” in the 1980s by aiding and abetting Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons in the 1980s, first against Iran during the Iran-Iraq war and then against Iraq’s restive Kurdish population. The U.S. crossed Obama’s “red line” again during its invasion and occupation of Iraq by using white phosphorus during an assault on rebel-held Fallujah. Before that, the U.S. used Agent Orange, napalm, and white phosphorus in Viet Nam. Based on this extremely brief history of U.S. chemical weapons usage, the U.S. is in no position morally to punish the Syrian regime for crossing a “red line” although it is in this position militarily.

Anti-interventionists who build their case on U.S. hypocrisy operate under the illusion that non-hypocritical military powers exist or that wars are exercises in morality. They don’t and they aren’t.

Waiting for a militarily powerful state founded and led by Santa Claus or a modern-day Gandhi to arise is not an acceptable course of action in the face of the clear and present danger of continued chemical weapons use by the Assad regime.

4. Non-violent alternatives, non-military options.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow talked up sanctions, negotiations, arms embargos, war crimes tribunals, stepped up humanitarian aid to refugees, and all manner of embarrassingly ineffectual schemes given that the Syrian people exhausted non-military options over two years ago. For those that don’t know, their peaceful protests were met with gunfire, the torture and mutilation of children, rape on a mass scale, shelling, airstrikes, Scud missiles, and sarin gas attacks by the Assad regime that have killed over 100,000 people, forced two million to flee to neighboring countries, displaced five million internally, and led seven million to need humanitarian assistance – all in a country of a little more than 20 million.

There simply is no non-violent way to stop such a heinously violent regime.

Continue reading “Top Five Worst Arguments Against US Airstrikes in Syria”

Tales in a Kabul Restaurant

by Kathy Kelly

Afghan children
Twelve children killed in the Kunar province, April 2013 (Photo credit: Namatullah Karyab for The New York Times)

May 21, 2013 – Kabul–Since 2009, Voices for Creative Nonviolence has maintained a grim record we call the “The Afghan Atrocities Update” which gives the dates, locations, numbers and names of Afghan civilians killed by NATO forces.  Even with details culled from news reports, these data can’t help but merge into one large statistic, something about terrible pain that’s worth caring about but that is happening very far away.

It’s one thing to chronicle sparse details about these U.S. led NATO attacks. It’s quite another to sit across from Afghan men as they try, having broken down in tears, to regain sufficient composure to finish telling us their stories.  Last night, at a restaurant in Kabul, I and two friends from the Afghan Peace Volunteers met with five Pashtun men from Afghanistan’s northern and eastern provinces. The men had agreed to tell us about their experiences living in areas affected by regular drone attacks, aerial bombings and night raids.  Each of them noted that they also fear Taliban threats and attacks. “What can we do,” they asked, “when both sides are targeting us?”

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‘Google Capitalism’; Indian surrender; and Spanish accountability in January TaxCast

A significant ruling against Dell in Spain, India shelves rules that would have tackled corporate tax abuse until 2016, the EU threatens to blacklist Switzerland and we take a look at ‘Google Capitalism.’

The Tax Justice Network‘s latest TaxCast is out. Hosted  by Naomi Fowler, each 15 minute podcast follows the latest news relating to tax evasion, tax avoidance and the shadow banking system. The show features discussions with experts in the field to help analyse the top stories each month.

Clive Bell Is a Fathead

by George Bernard Shaw, The New Republic, 21 February 1922

[In his article, The Creed of an Aesthete (in our issue of January 25th), Mr. Clive Bell said: “Mr. Bernard Shaw … is not an artist, much less an aesthete … he is a didactic.” He referred to Mr. Shaw’s rejection of the Darwinian theory because, by depriving Beauty, Intelligence, Honor of their divine origin and purpose, this theory deprives them of their value. To Mr. Bell’s mind, Mr. Shaw feels that “if Life be a mere purposeless accident, the finest things in it must appear to everyone worthless.” The sooner Mr. Shaw knows that this is not so, the better, says Mr. Bell, and proceeds to explain his own creed: “always life will be worth living by those who find in it things which make them feel to the limit of their capacity.” “The advantage of being an aesthete,” he declares, “is that one is able to appreciate the significance of all that comes to one through the senses: one feels things as ends instead of worrying about them as means. … Whatever is precious and beautiful in life is precious and beautiful irrespective of beginning and end.”]

As will be seen in the above article, my friend Clive Bell is a fathead and a voluptuary. This a very comfortable sort of person to be, and very friendly and easy and pleasant to talk to. Bell is a brainy man out of training. So much the better for his friends; for men in training are irritable, dangerous, and apt to hit harder than they know. No fear of that from Clive. The layer of fat on his brain makes him incapable of following up his own meaning; but it makes him good company.

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Palestine: State of play

Our friend Tony Karon joins Rashid Khalidi, Peter Beinart and Ethan Bronner on Al Jazeera’s Empire.

The dawn of a Palestinian state has been a long time coming. After 65 years of dispossession, 45 years of occupation, and 20 years of failed peace attempts, on Thursday Palestine took one step closer to joining the community of nations. With a final vote of 138 to 9, an overwhelming majority of nations at the UN General Assembly voted to recognise Palestine as a non-member state. This upgrade puts Palestine on par with the Vatican, and also could allow Palestinian claims to be filed in the International Criminal Court. This recognition came just days after another in the long line of catastrophes Palestinians have faced. Under a brutal Israeli bombardment of Gaza, nearly 200 Palestinians were killed and hundreds more were wounded. Empire asks: Must the Palestinian dream of a state be Israel’s nightmare? And what does the path to a just solution look like?