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MENA Mashup: The Arab Spring, The I/P and ISIS

Dr James Zogby wrote a compelling article recently…

The unravelling of the Arab Spring narrative

Four years ago, Tunisia and the Egypt erupted in broad popular revolts. At first, analysts, Arab and westerners alike, were confounded. When Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria followed, in short order, the upheavals came to be described as the “Arab Spring” — the assumption being that what was occurring in the Middle East would unfold in a manner reminiscent of the rapid transformations that took place in Eastern and Central Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The model envisioned by the term the “Arab Spring” was relatively straightforward. A spark had been ignited in Tunisia that would catch fire across the region bringing fundamental social and political transformation in its wake. It was a simple linear trajectory from dictatorship to democracy. Many experts were certain that this would be the way the Arab Spring would progress. {…}

What we found were universal concern with the continuing war in Syria, concern with the impact that it was having in the broader region (the refugee crisis that is overwhelming Lebanon and Jordan and the growth of sectarian division and radicalism) and fear that Syria might fragment into destabilising sect-based entities. There was no confidence that this conflict would end soon or that way might be found to achieve a negotiated solution to resolve it. In every country but Lebanon, there was rejection of the Assad regime.

There is near universal rejection of ISIL and deep concern about the impact that this movement was having on the region. At the same time, the lack of confidence in the US that we found in our June, 2014 poll and the low favourable ratings Arabs give to US involvement in the region combine to create less than enthusiastic support for a western-led effort to confront ISIL. In fact, only in Egypt and Iraq were slight majorities in favour of a role for the West in this conflict. In Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and UAE majorities were opposed.

After reviewing the results of this study, what emerges is a region deeply conflicted about the developments of the past four years. What had been presented as a simple story-line of progress at the beginning of the Arab Spring has become a troubling tale of more steps backward than forward.

The Middle East Harvests Bitter Imperialist Fruit

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MENA Mashup: The Arab Spring, The I/P and ISIS

Dr James Zogby wrote a compelling article recently…

The unravelling of the Arab Spring narrative

Four years ago, Tunisia and the Egypt erupted in broad popular revolts. At first, analysts, Arab and westerners alike, were confounded. When Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria followed, in short order, the upheavals came to be described as the “Arab Spring” — the assumption being that what was occurring in the Middle East would unfold in a manner reminiscent of the rapid transformations that took place in Eastern and Central Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The model envisioned by the term the “Arab Spring” was relatively straightforward. A spark had been ignited in Tunisia that would catch fire across the region bringing fundamental social and political transformation in its wake. It was a simple linear trajectory from dictatorship to democracy. Many experts were certain that this would be the way the Arab Spring would progress. {…}

What we found were universal concern with the continuing war in Syria, concern with the impact that it was having in the broader region (the refugee crisis that is overwhelming Lebanon and Jordan and the growth of sectarian division and radicalism) and fear that Syria might fragment into destabilising sect-based entities. There was no confidence that this conflict would end soon or that way might be found to achieve a negotiated solution to resolve it. In every country but Lebanon, there was rejection of the Assad regime.

There is near universal rejection of ISIL and deep concern about the impact that this movement was having on the region. At the same time, the lack of confidence in the US that we found in our June, 2014 poll and the low favourable ratings Arabs give to US involvement in the region combine to create less than enthusiastic support for a western-led effort to confront ISIL. In fact, only in Egypt and Iraq were slight majorities in favour of a role for the West in this conflict. In Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and UAE majorities were opposed.

After reviewing the results of this study, what emerges is a region deeply conflicted about the developments of the past four years. What had been presented as a simple story-line of progress at the beginning of the Arab Spring has become a troubling tale of more steps backward than forward.

The Middle East Harvests Bitter Imperialist Fruit

From Bahrain…

http://youtu.be/FJRsOmB3Pxw

Moving along to the I/P…

From MEMO… Palestinians stress their right to respond to Israeli escalation

All Palestinian factions hold Israel responsible for the latest escalation in Gaza and regard it as a violation of the Egypt-brokered ceasefire agreement. The groups met on Thursday to discuss the latest Israeli aggression against the enclave, which led to the killing of Tayseer Al-Semari, a member of the military wing of Hamas.

Speaking on behalf of all factions, Shaikh Khaled Al-Batsh, a senior official of Islamic Jihad, said that they reject the notion that Palestinian blood is a price to be paid by electioneering Israeli politicians. “We will not stand idle in front of this repeated escalation so that Netanyahu can be re-elected,” he stressed.

Al-Batsh called on Egypt to resume talks with Israel and put pressure on the Israeli government to stop its latest aggression. He also urged the international community to assume its responsibilities and stop Israel’s repeated attacks on the Gaza Strip in particular and the Palestinian people in general. The blockade should be lifted, the crossings opened and reconstruction materials allowed in, he insisted.

The Islamic Jihad official added that the Palestinian unity government must also assume its responsibility for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.

So naturally, Bibi… Netanyahu warns against PA, Iran

Hamas says it will uphold ceasefire if Israel does

As Dr. Finkelstein mentioned in this great TRNN clip, Is Israel Unfairly Held to a Higher Standard? There has been 10 major Israeli Operations directed against Gaza in the past 14 yrs alone!

Now, Ali Abunimah wrote recently about the deliberate whitewashing by the Grey Lady…

Two recent stories in The New York Times involve violence against Palestinian and Israeli children. But it is striking how differently the stories are treated based on the identity of the victim.

The first, from today, is headlined “Israeli Girl Severely Wounded in Firebomb Attack in West Bank.” The second, from November, is headlined “Palestinian Shot by Israeli Troops at Gaza Border.” Both are by Isabel Kershner. {…}

Note how Kershner says the assailants are “believed to be” Palestinians – belief, not evidence. She also names the girl’s father and says he suffered light injuries, and quotes her mother.

The report then provides this, presumably as context:

There has been an uptick in Palestinian attacks against Israelis in recent weeks, including deadly assaults in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The violence has been fanned in part by a dispute over a revered holy site in Jerusalem.

Nowhere does the report state that there has been relentless violence by Israeli occupation forces and settlers against Palestinians.

The mention of a “revered holy site” also suggests the violence is religious and irrational in nature. It also erases the fact that Palestinians are subject to systematic Israeli violence, including ongoing home demolitions, forced displacement and land theft.

The tension over the “revered holy site” – Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque – is the consequence of incursions by Israeli extremists, backed by the government, whose ultimate goal is to destroy it.

Huge surge in Israeli violence

In fact, though you wouldn’t know it from The New York Times, there has been a huge surge in violence against Palestinians.

“Palestinian civilians across the [occupied Palestinian territories] continue to be subject to various threats to their life, physical safety and liberty,” says the United Nations monitoring group OCHA in a year-end summary(pdf!)

This year “witnessed the highest Palestinian casualty toll since 1967, primarily due to hostilities in Gaza,” OCHA adds.

But in the West Bank, too, there was a huge increase in Israeli violence: this year to date 49 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank, almost double the number from last year, OCHA reports.

Ten of those killed in the West Bank were Palestinian children shot with live ammunition by Israeli occupation forces.

A staggering 5,771 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli forces in the West Bank this year, two thousand more than last year.

According to OCHA, Israel carried out an average of 96 “search and arrest” raids every week during the year, up from 75 per week in 2013. These assaults often take the form of night raids on homes, terrorizing entire families and communities.

This huge “uptick” in Israeli violence is invisible to The New York Times.

Israeli forces crush Palestinian protests in West Bank

Interestingly, it seems that the up-coming Israeli elections have become embroiled in corruption probes, from Antiwar…

The campaign for Israel’s March elections is just picking up pace, and a major party, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu, is reeling from announcing of a major bribery and corruption scandal involving a number of top officials. {…}

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing probes of his own, within his party, and Likud’s comptroller has disqualified the PM from running for the Likud leadership because of misuse of party funds.

Netanyahu has been facing internal opposition in Likud from the far-right, and assuming the comptroller’s ruling stands, he may well be finished as a top leader in the party.

Some more reports…

Israel Detains Deputy Minister, Dozens More in Corruption Probe

Avigdor Lieberman: Hard-right Israeli minister’s fate in balance after aides arrested for fraud

Moving along to ISIS…

Interestingly… ISIL seizes massive economic resources

Iraqi officials confirmed on Friday that ISIL has seized massive economic resources in several important Iraqi cities during the last six months. They noted this would enable the organisation to resist efforts to impose economic sanctions on it.

ISIL seized warehouses belonging to the Iraqi ministry of agriculture in the governorates of Kirkuk and Ninawa and took massive amounts of corn, in addition to agriculture tools and pesticides.

Member of the Agriculture Committee in the Iraqi parliament Furat al-Tamimi told Anadolu news agency that his committee had asked the ministry of agriculture to calculate all the damage caused by ISIL in order to know the exact stolen amounts.

Al-Tamimi said that some of the agriculture tools were moved to Syria and sold there. “That earned much money for ISIL, who became immunised against any kind of economic embargo,” he pointed out.

Last week, the ministry of agriculture said that around 1.5 million tonnes of wheat were stolen from farms in Ninawa. Last July, ISIL seized a massive amount of military equipment and controlled several oil wells. This strengthened its economy considerably.

Iraqi oil ministry said that oil smuggling by ISIL was partly responsible for the drop of oil prices in global markets. 95 per cent of the Iraqi economy is dependent on oil.

Based on this information about ISIL resources, an official in the Iraqi ministry of planning Falah Hassan expects that confronting the ISIL economy has become very difficult.

Hassan said that ISIL strengthened its economy in Iraq and Syria and undermining its economic base needs massive security efforts in line with the political efforts, stressing that ISIL has safeguarded itself from any attack that targets its agriculture, oil and military abilities.

So as they state in that clip, over a thousand foreign fighters alone, every month, are flocking to IS, how many billion$ will it cost us, moving forward…?

From NPR… U.S. Strikes Have Killed 1,100 ISIS Fighters And Cost $1 Billion

U.S.-led coalition airstrikes on Syria have killed more than 1,100 Islamic State fighters since the bombings began in September, according to a British-based monitoring group.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on its website Tuesday that it documented the deaths of 1,171 people, with at least 800 others wounded. Most of those killed by the international airstrikes that began Sept. 23 were members of ISIS, the website noted. The number of dead included 52 civilians. {…}

In related news, on Monday the Pentagon announced it had spent more than $1 billion fighting ISIS since the airstrikes began.

“As of Dec. 11, 2014, the total cost of operations related to [ISIS] since kinetic operations started on Aug. 8, 2014, is $1.02 billion and the average daily cost is $8.1 million,” Pentagon spokesman Bill Urban said.

The Pentagon had previously stated the average daily cost to be more than $7 million a day. That number rose because of the number of airstrikes and related costs, a defense official told Agence France-Presse.

In wrapping up, Meet the new crew, same as the old…

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