Archive for the ‘middle-east’ Tag

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Jon Stewart “It was the State Of The Union address the Republicans wanted, delivered by leader they wish they had.  And, Netanyahu wasted no time explaining why there was no time to waste.”

Benjamin Netanyahu speaking before Congress March 3, 2015 “That’s why this deal is so bad.  It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb, it paves Iran’s path to the bomb….Iran’s breakout time would be very short, about a year by US assessment, even shorter by Israel’s.”

Stewart “Well of course, the Jewish assessment will be a little shorter, we like to cut a little off at the tip.  But, holy bleep, one year.  Bibi, if Iran’s that close, why didn’t you bring your urgent warning about Iran going nuclear sooner?  Oh wait, you did.  Apparently time was also running out 19 years ago.”

Benjamin Netanyahu speaking before CongressJuly 10, 1996 “The most dangerous of these regimes is Iran…If this regime, or it’s despotic neighbor Iraq, were to acquire nuclear weapons, this could presage catastrophic consequences…Only the United States can lead this vital international effort to stop the nuclearization of terrorists states….Time is running out.  We have to act.”

…..

Stewart “But, this brings up the difficult issue.  What many in our government love about Netanyahu is his conviction and his certainty.”

Netanyahu to Congress March 3, 2015 “In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut,and Sana.”

Stewart “We have to act.  Look how Iran has expanded it’s power since the fall of Saddam Hussein and the destabilization of the region.  I mean, what kind of an idiot wouldn’t have seen that coming in 2002?  Oh Shalom.”

Netanyahu September 12, 2002 “If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region….The reverberations of what happens with the collapse of Saddam’s regime could very well create an implosion in a neighboring regime like Iran.”

Stewart “Or, the opposite.”

http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/13ry42/bibi-s-big-adventures

 

 

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: President Obama stands accused of political correctness for his unwillingness to accuse groups like ISIS of Islamic extremism, choosing a more generic term, violent extremism. His critics say you cannot fight an enemy that you will not name. Even his supporters feel that his approach is to professorial.

But far from being a scholar concerned with describing the phenomenon accurately, the president is actually deliberately choosing not to emphasize ISIS’ religious dimension for political and strategic reasons. After all, what would the practical consequences be of describing ISIS as Islamic? Would the West drop more bombs on it? No.

But it would make many Muslims feel that their religion had been unfairly maligned and it would dishearten Muslim leaders who have continually denounced ISIS as a group that does not represent Islam.

But Graeme Wood writes in a much discussed cover-essay in the “Atlantic” this month, “The Islamic State is Islamic — very Islamic.” Wood’s essays is an intelligent and detailed account of the ideology that animates the Islamic State. These are not secular people with rational goals, he argues, they really do believe in their religious ideology.

But Wood’s essay reminds me of some of the breathless tracks written during the Cold War that pointed out that the communists really, really believed in communism. Of course, many ISIS leaders do believe their ideology. The real question is, why has this ideology sprung up at this moment and why is it attractive to a group, a tiny group of Muslim men these days?

Wood describes ISIS as having revived traditions that have been dormant for hundreds of years. Exactly. ISIS has rediscovered, even reinvented, a version of Islam for its own purposes today.

Wood is much taken by the Princeton academic, Bernard Haykel, who claims that people want to turn a blind eye to the ideology of ISIS for political reasons.

Quote, “People want to absolve Islam,” Wood quote Haykel as saying. “It’s this Islam is a religion of peace mantra, as if there is such a thing as Islam,” he says. “It is what Muslims do,” end quote.

Right, there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world and perhaps 30,000 members of ISIS. And yet Haykel feels that it is what 0.0019 percent of what Muslims do that defines the religion.

Who is being political, I wonder.

“An Ideology succeeds when it replaces some other set of ideas that has failed,” says Professor Sheri Berman at Barnard College.

And across the Middle East, the ideas that have failed are Pan Arabism, Republicanism, nascent efforts at democracy, economic liberalism and secularism. The regimes espousing these principles have morphed into dictatorships producing economic stagnation and social backwardness. In some cases the nation itself has collapsed as a project. It is in the face of this failure that groups like ISIS can say Islam is the answer.

This battle of ideologies can be seen vividly in the life of one man, Islam Yaken, profiled brilliantly by the “New York Times'” Mona El- Naggar. Yaken, a middle class fitness trainer from Cairo who’s interested mostly in making money and meeting girls. “But his dreams began to crash into Egypt’s depressed economy and political turmoil,” the article notes. He couldn’t get a good job and began dreaming about leaving Egypt.

Questioning his life choices Yaken became drawn to a very different ideology, a version of Islam that is rigorous and militant. Yaken, now 22, fights for the Islamic State in Syria. During the last Ramadan season, he tweeted a photograph of a decapitated corpse. His post read, “Surely the holiday wouldn’t be complete without a picture with one of the dog’s corpses.”

Islam Yaken is now a true believer. But the question surely is, how did he get here and what were the forces that helped carry him along? Calling him Islamic doesn’t really help you understand any of that.

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Bill Maher “New rule, when it comes to being baited into going to war, America has to try a little harder to not be so bleeping easy!  Just a few months ago, polls showed Americans were sick of war.  They’d had enough.  They were anxious to stay out of the Middle-East.  Then they saw two beheadings and overnight they were like, oh war, we can’t stay mad at you.  You know, conservatives love to vilify anyone who doesn’t want to immediately throw down as appeasers, but when you’re dealing with terrorists who’s aim is to bait us into overreaction, and you oblige them, aren’t you the appeaser?”

 

 

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Saudi Arabia cautiously welcomed Monday a deal reached between world powers and Iran, describing it as a possible initial step toward reaching a comprehensive solution for Tehran’s nuclear program.

The statement by the Saudi Cabinet was the first official reaction from the kingdom to Sunday’s deal. Saudi Arabia, the Gulf’s main political power, has previously expressed unease about U.S. outreach to Iran, and Gulf countries generally view any normalizing of ties between Tehran and the West as a direct threat to their own stability.

The Cabinet statement, released by the official Saudi Press Agency, said that if there is “goodwill” then a comprehensive solution would also entail a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, a reference to Israel’s presumed arsenal.

“If there is goodwill, then this agreement could be an initial step toward reaching a comprehensive solution for Iran’s nuclear program if that leads to the removal of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, from the Middle East and Arab Gulf,” the Saudi government said.

The government added that it hopes the agreement is succeeded by “important steps” that ensure the rights of all countries in the region to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have already issued statements welcoming the nuclear deal.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/saudi-iran-nuclear-deal-step-21002574

Posted November 26, 2013 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: But first, here is my take. If you’re trying to decide what to think about the deal struck between the major powers and Iran, here’s a suggestion. Imagine what would have happened if there had been no deal.

In fact, one doesn’t have to use much imagination. In 2003, Iran approached the United States with an offer to talk about its nuclear program. The Bush administration rejected the offer because it believed that the Iranian regime was weak, had been battered by sanctions, and would either capitulate or collapse if Washington just stayed tough.

So there was no deal. What was the result? Iran had 164 centrifuges operating in 2003. Today, it has 19,000. Had the Geneva talks with Iran broken down, Iran would have continued expanding its nuclear program.

Yes they are now under tough sanctions but they were under sanctions then as well. And yet, the number of centrifuges grew exponentially. Despite all the sanctions, keep in mind, the costs of a nuclear program are small for an oil rich country like Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has been opposed to a deal. But is it in Israel’s interest that Iran’s program keep growing in size and scope?

That’s a strategy that assumes that either Iran is heading for collapse, or that a military strike will take place that would permanently destroy Iran’s entire nuclear program and it wouldn’t get rebuilt. This seems more like wishful thinking than strategy. The agreement that the major powers have gotten in Geneva essentially freezes Iran’s program for six months and rolls back some key aspects of it while a permanent deal is negotiated.

In return, Iran gets about $7 billion of sanctions relief, a fraction of what is in place against it. The main sanctions against its oil and banking sectors stay fully in place.

This is a sensible deal signed off on by France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China, as well as the United States and Iran. But it is just an interim deal and not a historic rapprochement and that’s why so much of the opposition to it is misplaced.

Washington has many points of disagreement with Tehran, from its opposition to Israel and its support for Hezbollah to its funding of Iraq militias. This is not like Nixon’s opening to China. It’s more like an arms control deal with the Soviet Union, with two wary adversaries trying to find some common ground.

Many countries in the Middle East, from Israel to Saudi Arabia, have legitimate concerns about Iran. But many of these countries have also gotten used to having a permanent enemy against whom they could rail, focusing domestic attention, driving ideological and sectarian divides, garnering support.

The Middle East is undergoing so much change. Perhaps this is one more change. Perhaps Iran will come in from the Cold. For now though, it is just one step, not a seismic shift. But it is a step forward.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1311/24/fzgps.01.html

Posted November 25, 2013 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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Jon Stewart “Maybe it’s just time we went back to where a lot of these problems started.  The original sin, the British man, 100 years ago, drawing a map of a place he’d never been to, filled with people he’d never met, forming new countries with no attention paid to ethnic or religious tensions, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Sir Archibald Mapsalot III.”

Sir Archibald (John Oliver) “Absolute pleasure to be here Jon.  Now, what’s all the bother about?”

Stewart “It’s actually about the Middle East.”

Mapsalot “Oh, what a ghastly place, never been there, don’t want to.  Now, India, there is a land worth subjugating, I tell you.”

Stewart “Archibald, the borders that you drew, after World War I, well, they’ve proven to be a little bit unstable, and somewhat controversial.”

Mapsalot “Really?  Not a problem, let’s just draw them again.”

Stewart “That’s the problem, you’re a little cavalier abut that.”

Mapsalot “Righty, this time I’ll take great care.  A quick scribble on the old globe, I guarantee you before you know it, Bob’s your uncle, it’s gin o’clock.  Let’s take a look.  I see the problem right here, the lines are too squiggly.  As my father once told me, when borders get squiggly, people get squiggly.  What you want is a nice straight line Jon, as straight as you can, like that, lovely.”

Stewart “What you’ve done there is taken some land from Turkey and now you’ve got a Kurdish population there in a disputed zone.”

Mapsalot “A what and a who living in a where, Jon?  This is imperialism boy.  The first rule is don’t over think it.  Second rule, don’t think at all.  Check your brain at the door with your brawley.  The Turks will learn to live with it, and if they don’t, who really cares?  See how easy this is?  Push posh, take out the squiggles, put in the straights, lovely.  There you go, there you go, and we’re done.  I’m parched, time for a naughty sherry, because, if I know Arabs Jon, and believe me, I do not, they like nothing more than alcohol after a good western intervention.”

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-september-4-2013/sir-archibald-mapsalot-iii

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Bill Mahr “I know what you’re up in arms about.  We have now decided, Obama decided, we’re going to arm the rebels in Syria.  Yes!  This is why I voted for Obama in the first place, to carry out McCain’s bad ideas.  We’re getting involved in another war in the Mid-East.  I know your immediate reaction is, that’s a stupid idea.  It didn’t work in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Lebanon, or Somolia, or Libya, but I tell you, this time they’re going to love us.”

 

 

Posted June 18, 2013 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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Bill Maher “The Republicans in the Senate, this week, tried to repeal Obamacare again, get this, for the 36th time, they’ve tried.  At some point it stops really becoming legislating, and it’s more stalking.  And, Obama heard about that, and said he was glad to be in the Middle East, where people are more reasonable.”

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Fareed Zakaria “But, first, here’s my take. Yasser Arafat’s body has been exhumed for investigation, bringing back memories of the unpredictable Palestinian leader and the Middle East in which he operated.

The news broke at a time when a conventional wisdom began to take hold that the Middle East today is much more dangerous, unstable, violent and anti-American than before. So let’s take a look at the facts.

In the 1980s, the newly empowered, radical Islamic Republic of Iran unsettled the region with its promise to spread its revolution elsewhere. Lebanon was in the midst of a bloody civil war that engulfed not only itself but also the Palestinians and Israel.

Iran and Iraq fought a gruesome war with over 1 million casualties. Hezbollah attacked U.S. armed forces directly, forcing a humiliating withdrawal from Lebanon. A CIA station chief was tortured and killed, and U.S. secrets and interests compromised. And that was just in one decade.

Or consider those days from Israel’s point of view. During the 1980s, Jerusalem faced well-armed regimes in Iraq and Syria, leading members of the so-called rejectionist camp that urged permanent hostilities against Israel. No Arab regime other than Egypt would dare speak openly of peace with Israel. The official charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization called for the destruction of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian state. Arafat’s chief tactic was terrorism against Israelis, Europeans and Americans.

Today the Soviet Union has collapsed, Saddam Hussein is gone, the Syrian regime is tottering. Israel, on the other hand, has grown to become a regional military superpower.

Its defense budget is larger now than that of all its neighbors put together. Its technological advantages put it in another league. The Palestinian Authority affirms Israel’s existence and works with it regularly.

Iran remains a real threat, but it is isolated, sanctioned and contained like few other countries in history. It is also roiled by discontent at home and facing the combined opposition of the secular Arab states, Israel and the Western powers.

Amidst the disorder, there is a broader contest for regional power. Israel has by far the most powerful economy and military, but it lacks political power for obvious reasons. Turkey has economic and military power as well, and it also has growing regional clout.

Egypt, meanwhile, is the natural leader of the Arab world, but at the moment is not in a position to dominate. Its economy is a shambles, its military second rate and under pressure from its people, and its democracy still very fragile.

President Mohamed Morsi’s recent power grab is worrying, but the public opposition to it has been reassuring.

So the Middle East today is mixed, complex region that is changing fast. Grand generalizations about it are likely to be undone by events. But it is a more vibrant, energetic, open, even democratic place than the Middle East of a generation ago.”

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1212/02/fzgps.01.html

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Stewart speaking about the war between Israel and Gaza “This is such a depressing, cyclical status quo. where the untenable underlying conditions are never addressed.  There are no winners here.  Or, to put that a different way…”

Pundit 1.) “Who was the big winner, do you think, here?”

Pundit 2.) “There are two clear winners.”

Pundit 3.) “Who are the losers and who are the winners?”

Stewart “You really miss the election, don’t you?  Is everything about the winners and losers and the horse race?  Even intractable bloodshed is just another chance to see who’s incrementally up or incrementally down.  And, by the way, winners and losers, in what game?  Sandy Land?  Hungry Hungry Hebrews?  Or, maybe it’s the old family favorite, Monotony (A game of momentary respite from implacable historical hatred), where violence is the day to day norm.  It’s a game where angrily flipping over the board is how you start.  And don’t get them started about where you can put up houses.  You can’t put up a house on Baltic Avenue.  I own Baltic Avenue.  Stop calling it Baltic Avenue, it’s called the dark purple territories and it was given to my people before this game was even invented.  Now, get your thimble off my schnauzer.  So, no winners.”

Pundit 4.) “There’s a military side of this, which Israel clearly won.”

Stewart “Oh, yes, Israel clearly won.  Israel’s in great shape now.  There’s no winners!”

Pundit 5.) “Hamas emerges as a big winner from this conflict.”

Pundit 6.) “Hamas is a winner here.”

Stewart “So, Israel won and Hamas won.  Did I say no winners?  I meant two winners.”

Pundit 6.) “President Obama is a winner here.  Netanyahu is a winner here.  Hillary Clinton is a winner here.”

Pundit 7.) “Egypt has definitely emerged as the winner in all this.”

Stewart “Did anyone lose this bleeping thing?  Did anybody lose?  Did anybody actually lose in this bloody conflict that killed over 150 people?

Pundit 8.) “The loser in all this is Mahmoud Abbas.”

Pundit 9.) “Iran is the main loser in this conflict.”

Stewart “So, the only two losers in the war between Israel and Gaza, are people that don’t live in either of those places.  So, the lesson here is that the next time your region descends into a war, you’ve gotta be in it to win it.”