“Selmiyyeh, selmiyyeh” — “peaceful, peaceful” — was one of the Tunisian revolution’s most contagious slogans. It was chanted in Egypt, where in some remarkable cases protesters defused state violence simply by telling policemen to calm down and not be scared. In both countries, largely nonviolent demonstrations and strikes succeeded in splitting the military high command from the ruling family and its cronies, and civil war was avoided. In both countries, state institutions proved themselves stronger than the regimes that had hijacked them. Although protesters unashamedly fought back (with rocks, not guns) when attacked, the success of their largely peaceful mass movements seemed an Arab vindication of Gandhian nonviolent resistance strategies. But then came the much more difficult uprisings in Bahrain, Libya, and Syria.
Even after at least 1,300 deaths and more than 10,000 detentions, according to human rights groups, “selmiyyeh” still resounds on Syrian streets. It’s obvious why protest organizers want to keep it that way. Controlling the big guns and fielding the best-trained fighters, the regime would emerge victorious from any pitched battle. Oppositional violence, moreover, would alienate those constituencies the uprising is working so hard to win over: the upper-middle class, religious minorities, the stability-firsters. It would push the uprising off the moral high ground and thereby relieve international pressure against the regime. It would also serve regime propaganda, which against all evidence portrays the unarmed protesters as highly organized groups of armed infiltrators and Salafi terrorists. Continue reading “Selmiyyeh?”
From his weekly perch at CNN, Fareed Zakaria, speculated last Sunday (or the Sunday before) whether George Bush could take credit for the events that were unfolding in Tunisia, whether this was the late fruit of the neoconservative project to bring ‘democracy’ to the Middle East.
It is quite extraordinary watching Zakaria – a Muslim born and raised in India, and scion of a leading political family – mimic with such facility the language of America’s ruling classes, and show scarce a trace of empathy for the world’s oppressed, despite his propinquity to them by reason of history and geography. He does have a bias for India, but here too he only shows a concern for India’s strategic interests, not the interests of its subjugated classes, minorities and ethnicities. This I offer only as an aside about how easy it is for members of the upper classes in countries like India, Pakistan or Egypt to slip into an American skin whenever that dissimulation offers greater personal advantages.
As a cover for deepening US control over the Middle East – here is the latest civilizing mission for you – the neoconservatives in the Bush administration argued that the Islamic world produces ‘terrorists’ because it lives under autocracies. To solve the ‘terrorist’ problem, therefore, the US would have to bring democracy to the Middle East. This demagoguery only reveals the bankruptcy of America’s political class. It is a shame when the President of the United States and his neoconservative puppet-masters peddle such absurdities without being greeted by squeals of laughter – and shouted down as hypocritical, as farcical.
Who has been the leading ally and sponsor these past decades of nearly all the despotisms in the Middle East – those of royal pedigree and others seeking to become royalties?
Regardless, the real plan of United States failed miserably. It was dispatched to its grave by a people’s resistance in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Israel-Turkey relations may survive the Flotilla flap, but lets see if they can survive this. Kurtlar Vadisi is the immensely popular Turkish series which was first turned into a Rambo-style big budget film attacking the US occupation of Iraq (at a time when relations between the US and Turkey were otherwise cordial). In the forthcoming film, the same Turkish team infiltrates Israel (or Palestine, as the film’s hero insists on calling it) to exact revenge for the flotilla murder. Here’s the trailer:
AlJazeeraEnglish — 18 June 2010 — Turkey’s popularity in the Middle East has soared following its denunciation of Israel’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla last month. Turkish flags and posters of Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, have been prominent in demonstrations around the world protesting the Israeli attack. In the Gaza Strip, a growing number of newborn babies have been named after Erdogan. Meanwhile Turkey says it will not send its ambassador back to Israel unless it receives a formal apology for the attack, that left nine people, mostly Turks, dead.
Al Jazeera’s Rula Amin reports on Turkey’s rising popularity in the region.
First excerpt: “Israel’s bloody interception of the Mavi Marmara and its motley crew was crass — another example of the counterproductive use of force — but nothing about it could justify the Turkish prime minister’s outrageous statement that the world now perceives “the swastika and the Star of David together (italics mine).”
Why does he speak of the “motley crew” on the Mavi Marmara? First, is ‘crew’ the appropriate word for the humanitarian activists on a ship bringing relief to people under blockade. ‘Crew’ has unpleasant connotations. Let us consult the Oxford English dictionary. Originally, it meant “an augmentation or reinforcement of a military force.” Now, by extension, it means “Any organized or associated force, band, or body of armed men.”
In addition, why is this a ‘motley’ crew? Does he mean heterogeneous? In fact, most were Turkish. Why then are they “motley?” The word has a bad odor. The OED concurs. Consider two entries in the OED. Entry one: “Of a thing or collection of things: composed of elements of diverse or varied character, form, appearance, etc. Freq. with implication of poor design or organization (italics added).” And entry two: Of a gathering or group of people: consisting of people of diverse or varied appearance, character, etc.; miscellaneous. Freq. depreciative (italics in the original).
linktv—11 June 2010 — (Mosaic Intelligence Report: June 11, 2010) Turkey votes against UN sanctions on Iran. Erdogan is a hero in the Arab world. Did Turkey abandon its EU dreams? And why is it looking towards the East?
channelled French-Russian philosopher Alexandre Kojève’s idiosyncratic reading of Hegel to
 Kojève, from whom Fukuyama borrowed the notion of ‘end of history’, was a major influence on Bloom.
As international outrage spreads at the Israeli elite commando attack on an unarmed humanitarian convey in the middle of the night on international waters, Israel is desperately trying to rebrand the incident as one of self-defence. It is nothing new for Israel, and other aggressing powers, to smear their victims as perpetrators. Afterall, unjustifiable murder is too jarring to stomach.
Yet, Amnesty International released a statement about Israel’s excessive use of force, further stating that Israel’s version of events begs credibility. Former Archbishop Desmond Tutu proclaimed the actions of Israel as “completely inexcusable”. According to Craig Murray, specialist on maritime law, “To attack a foreign flagged vessel in international waters is illegal.”
Deported activists tell a horrifying story of the use of electric shock, live ammunition, smoke bombs, gas canisters, beatings, and seizure of all evidence on cameras. Greek activist Michalis Grigoropoulos said, “They took us hostage, pointing guns at our heads…There was absolutely nothing we could do.” A Turkish woman, with her 1 year old baby, recalls “The ship turned into a lake of blood.”
Israeli-Arab Knesset member Hanin Zoabi, who was on board, demanded an international inquiry: “It was clear from size of force that boarded ship that purpose was not to stop sail, but to cause largest number of fatalities to prevent future initiatives.” In contradiction of the carefully managed public relations campaign, a top Israeli Navy commander brags to the Jerusalem Post that “We boarded the ship and were attacked as if it was a war.” The names of the 10-19 dead, 60-80 injured, and hundreds detained have yet to be released.