Wednesday, August 16, 2017

عودة إلى ما قاله فورد

عودة إلى ما قاله فورد

A GOOD PIECE

سلامة كيلة

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لم أستطع ألا أعلق على تصريح السفير الأميركي السابق في دمشق، روبرت فورد، في مقابلة صحيفة الشرق الأوسط معه، والتي يصل بها إلى ما نشر اليأس بين السوريين، حين قال ببقاء بشار الأسد. هذه هي النتيجة التي أراد أن يوصلها، عن قصد، كما أراد أن يوصل رسائل مهمة حين ذهب، في عزّ توسع الثورة السورية إلى حماة برفقة السفير الفرنسي.
بقاء الأسد مستحيل في كل الأحوال، وهذا ما يطيل الصراع، حيث لم تستطعروسيا، بكل جبروتها، أن توصل مقاومي النظام الذين صنعوا ثورة عظيمة إلى هذه النتيجة. وسيبقي بقاء الأسد الصراع قائماً، ولن يفيد هنا كل جبروت قوة روسيا، واستخدامها أحدث الأسلحة. بالتالي، ربما أن فورد يكمل ما بدأه حين زار حماة، أي التشويش على الثورة، ودفع الشعب السوري إلى حالة اليأس.

ما استرعى الانتباه في تصريح فورد قوله إن زيارته حماة جرى تفسيرها خطأً، حيث فُسّرت دعماً للثورة، وبالتالي استخدمها النظام لتشويه الثورة، ودليلاً على أنها مدعومة أميركياً. ومن جهة أخرى، فهمها من "الثوار" المعارضة دعماً أميركياً لهم، وهذا ما أطلق الأوهام حول "الدعم الأميركي". ويحاول فورد في تصريحه أن يقول إنه تصرّف كأنه ساذج، ومن تلقاء ذاته، أي من دون طلب من الإدارة في واشنطن. وبالتالي، كان الأمر "مصادفة"، لكنه فُهم خطأ من الطرفين: النظام والمعارضة. ولا شك أن في هذا الحديث عن السذاجة سذاجة، حيث لا يقوم سفير أميركي بخطوة من هذا القبيل بشكل عشوائي، وبلا قرار من الإدارة في واشنطن، ومن ثم بلا هدف تريده هذه الإدارة.

بالتالي، يمكن القول إن تصريح فورد يوضّح اللعب الأميركي منذ بدء الثورة السورية. هكذا بالضبط. وهو اللعب الذي لا يزال قائماً، فما أشار إليه السفير السابق لم يكن نتاج خطأ في الفهم، ولا نتيجة سذاجة، بل كانت الإدارة الأميركية تهدف إلى أن يُفهم موقفها على الشكل الذي أورده. أي أن يستغلّ النظام الأمر من أجل تشويه الثورة، وإلصاقها بـ "المؤامرة الأميركية"، ويكون لديه مستمسك واضح هو "دعم أميركا الثورة"، حيث زار السفير الأميركي الشعب الثائر و"دعمه". وأميركا تريد ذلك، بالضبط لأنها تريد تشويه الثورة، وتقديم المبرّرات للنظام لكي يسحقها، حتى وإنْ كانت التهمة هي الدعم الأميركي لها. فقد أرعبها توسّع الثورة من تونس إلى مصر واليمن والبحرين وليبيا وبلدان أخرى كان يمكن أن يتطور الحراك فيها، وكانت تحتاج من يسحقها، بعد أن فشلت مناورتها في تونس ومصر، حتى عملت على تحقيق تغيير سريع لكي تنطفئ.
بهذا كانت أميركا تقدِّم للنظام السوري ورقة مهمة، يمكن أن يستغلها ضد الثورة. تمثلت المسألة الأخرى في دفع المعارضة وراء أوهامٍ تجعلها تزيد في تخريب الثورة، حيث تعمل انطلاقاً من أنها تُدعم من أميركا، وتتصرّف على هذا الأساس، وتلقي التصريحات، وتزيد في المطالبات، بما يعزّز اتهام النظام لها بأنها "عميلة" لأميركا. وهذا فعلاً ما حدث، والمعارضة تعلي الصوت داعيةً أميركا إلى التدخل العسكري، ومراهنة على دورها بدل المراهنة على الشعب، وفهم أن الارتباط بأميركا يعني حصولها على رفض شعبي، وتخويف فئاتٍ شعبيةٍ هي مع الثورة.

للأسف، نجحت أميركا في "خطتها"، واستطاعت أن تقدِّم للنظام ورقة مهمة ضد ثورة الشعب السوري، سواء بإظهار أنها مع الثورة، أو في إظهار تبعية المعارضة لها، فقد كانت تريد أن تسحق الثورة، لا أن تنتصر هذه الثورة، وكانت عبر، ما فعل سفيرها، تحرّض من أجل أن تتأكد مصداقية النظام في اعتبار الثورة "مؤامرة". .. ونجحت نتيجة غباء المعارضة التي صدَّقت أن أميركا يمكن أن تكون مع الثورة.

الحصاد- السعودية.. جدل الوساطة مع إيران

"ما وراء الخبر"-ماذا تحمل زيارة رئيس الأركان الإيراني لأنقرة؟

The Guardian view on Donald Trump: beyond the moral pale

The US president has gone even further than before in condoning the racist right. He must pay the price, at home and abroad

A GREAT GUARDIAN EDITORIAL

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In his angry and undignified press conference on Tuesday night, Donald Trump deliberately and shockingly crossed the line that separates the acceptable and the unacceptable in the conduct of an elected democratic leader in a multiracial society. Mr Trump must now face the consequences of this momentous and inexcusable decision. Those consequences should include the way that the leaders of multiracial European nations, including Britain, conduct their dealings with the US president from this moment on.
On Saturday, Mr Trump had already equivocated between America’s white racists and its anti-racists, after clashes in Charlottesville in which an anti-racist protester was killed by a car driven by a neo-Nazi activist. Mr Trump’s evasions drew widespread and instant condemnation, not least from within his own party. On Monday, he then read out a statement, clearly written by others, that sought to repair the damage. But the very next day, speaking with his own voice, he trashed his own retraction.
Mr Trump not only reasserted his view that the white supremacists and their opponents in the Charlottesville clashes were morally equivalent. He went further. He said that there were good people on both sides, thus implicitly lending at least partial presidential approval to a far-right rally in which swastikas were displayed, Nazi salutes made and antisemitic chants shouted. He also went out of his way to side with the supremacists against the removal of a statue of the Confederate general Robert E Lee – the ostensible cause of last weekend’s clashes – suggesting this could presage similar action against memorials to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson since both were slave-owners. Mr Trump’s petulant and narcissistic demeanour made it clear that he is more outraged by criticism and with the American press than he is with his country’s racists and its neo-Nazis. He clearly cannot help himself. But that is no excuse.
This is therefore a moment at which America and the world need to display the moral clarity of which the US president is so embarrassingly incapable. There are not “many sides” to the arguments that came to the boil in Charlottesville and since. There is a right side and a wrong side. Racism, antisemitism, white supremacism and Nazism, new or old, are wrong. A leader who cannot bring himself to say this clearly and unequivocally is not just clueless. He also forfeits his claim to moral authority and much of his right to be respected as leader. Yet that is where Mr Trump has put himself.
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The question facing America in the wake of these events is how to get through to 2020 with its values, institutions and social decencies intact. America has plenty of resources to show that it is a better country than Mr Trump makes it appear. It will surely succeed. The most important test is for moderate Republicans. They must find the right way to turn away from Mr Trump before the next election. If they do not, they will lose, and they will deserve to lose.
There are some signs that moderate and independent Republicans grasp this. The two former Presidents Bushissued a strong statement against racial bigotry, antisemitism and hatred on Wednesday. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell did the same, stating “there are no good neo-Nazis”. House speaker Paul Ryan retweeted Mr McConnell’s remarks, and issued one of his own which said there can be no moral ambiguity about “repulsive” white supremacism and bigotry. Many other important Republicans made similar statements. Very few of them, however, called out Mr Trump by name. With all members of the house facing election in 15 months’ time – and a small cluster of off-year contests in November this year – Republicans will face many more demanding tests of their resolve well before 2020.
But Mr Trump’s behaviour poses questions for multiracial European nations as well. Politicians on this side of the Atlantic must show moral clarity themselves. British leaders responded well to Mr Trump’s remarks. Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Vince Cable led the way on Wednesday. Others swelled the chorus, not least the communities secretary Sajid Javid with a “Neo-Nazis: bad. Anti-Nazis: good” tweet. Words, though, are not enough. Mr Trump is still US president, so governments must deal with him. But there is no place for special courtesies now. Mrs May was wrong to offer Mr Trump a state visit. This country does not want it. The Queen does not need it. It must not go ahead. We will all be better off without it, and Mrs May should now say so.

DNA - 16/08/2017 كتلة الوفاء لبشار الأسد

EXCLUSIVE: UAE sought Gaza war assessment from 'father' of Israel's Iron Dome system

Leaked emails show Yousef Otaiba contacted Uzi Rubin via top pro-Israel analyst, in latest evidence of growing ties between UAE and Israel


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The UAE's top diplomat in America sought a battle damage assessment of Israel's 2012 eight-day war on Gaza from the "father" of Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system, according to leaked emails obtained by Middle East Eye.
Yousef Otaiba was introduced to Uzi Rubin by a senior pro-Israel analyst in Washington, although it was unclear if the two ever met. But the emails, obtained by the GlobalLeaks hacking group, show growing military and diplomatic ties between the Gulf kingdom and Israel.
Robert Satloff, the executive director of a Washington-based pro-Israel think-tank, wrote to Yousef Otaiba on 19 December 2012 to suggest a meeting with Uzi Rubin, a former Israeli brigadier general who led the Israel government's missile defence organisation. Within three days, Rubin and Otaiba were emailing directly.
The exchange came a month after Israel's Operation Pillar of Defence against targets in Gaza, which according to UN figures killed 174 Palestinians, 107 of them civilians including 33 children. There were six Israelis casualties, two of whom were soldiers.
I would be interested in hearing how it did in Gaza recently
- Yousef Otaiba, UAE ambassador
Rubin visited Washington to praise the success of Israel's Iron Dome system in defending against missiles fired from Gaza during the eight-day war. He told a forum of guests: "In strategic terms, the recent conflict was largely a 'push-button' war."  
Satloff, who hosted Rubin, wrote afterwards to Otaiba: "You were on my mind yesterday when I heard a compelling presentation by the father of Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system, Uzi Rubin. 
"He closed his presentation with comments about the applicability of the system to Gulf states facing Iranian missiles. I assume your side has heard from him and his colleagues directly; if that's not the case, I can certainly set something up."  
Otaiba replied "I have not met with Uzi. I would be interested in hearing how it did in Gaza recently. I read the press commentary on its performance but would be interested to hear more specifically."  

'Let me know when you're in DC'

Satloff then sought permission to introduce Rubin to enable a future meeting, to which Otaiba agreed. The communications appeared to quickly pay off - in an email direct to Rubin on 22 December, 2012, Otaiba said: "Let me know when you're next in DC." 
Rubin replied that he had already returned home, and signed off: "Perhaps next time. Regards - Uzi."
Satloff did not deny his email exchange with Otaiba. In an email to the MEE, he said: "I do not know if the people in question ever met but I do not believe the specific meeting to which you refer ever happened.  
"And by the way, I don't 'broker' meetings. The Washington Institute, like other research organisations/think-tanks, regularly arranges meetings... that bring together all sorts of people, from all range of governments and backgrounds, in a wide variety of formats."
The contacts between Otaiba and Rubin are among a number of conversations captured between the diplomat and Satloff, who has long served the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a spinoff of the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) pressure group whose analysts and scholars are almost exclusively pro-Israel. 
Satloff opened his note by thanking the UAE ambassador for "the generous new year's gift", without specifying what he had been given.
In his reply to MEE, Satloff said he did not recall what the gift was. He stated his institute's policy states staff can accept personal gifts from foreign governments worth less than $20.
Israel has trumpeted the Iron Dome system's effectiveness against rockets from Gaza (AFP)

Dinner with the ambassador

Satloff solicited Otaiba in February 2012 for an exclusive dinner, that he can feel free to pay for: "This is a bit presumptuous but would consider hosting our most important lay leaders - our board of directors - for dinner at your home? They (about 15 or so) will be in town for a meeting... on the evening of Tuesday, 6 March."  
Sensing opportunity, Otaiba replied: "That's a great idea. Happy to host such a powerful group on such a critical topic. My only request is we keep it off the record and discreet."  
WINEP's board includes such figures as Peter Lowy, the executive director of Westfield and son of Australian billionaire and right-wing Israel supporter Frank Lowy
It also includes its founder, Barbi Weinberg, a former AIPAC vice president. Weinberg, along with AIPAC's then-deputy director of research Martin Indyk, helped create WINEP as a separate entity in the 1980s to offer distance for their pro-Israeli policy ideas, a recognition of the "image problem" encountered by authoring US policy ideas on AIPAC letterhead. 
After the March 2012 dinner, Satloff wrote to Otaiba to inform him "you earned a houseful of friends last night", and heaped praise on the UAE ambassador for his "striking candour" with WINEP's board, "opening" their "eyes to the real anxiety UAE has re: Iran".  
Otaiba assured Satloff: "I truly enjoyed the conversation. My main message was the alignment of Israel and many of the Arab countries when it comes to Iran." 
Satloff would not disclose who attended the dinner, but told MEE such events with a "broad range of US and foreign officials" are a "regular occurrence" and that to "suggest or imply otherwise underscores the conspiratorial, rather than newsworthy tenor of your inquiry".  
Yousef Otaiba, the UAE's man in Washington (AFP)

High-level interactions

Satloff would continue to seek more engagements with his Emirati friend. Since 1996 WINEP has hosted a range of Israeli military and intelligence officers as visiting fellows in its Washington offices, partly to influence Washington's debate on matters including Palestine and Iran.  
Satloff asked Otaiba to consider allowing UAE officials to work at WINEP as visiting fellows, a sign of how closely regarded the Gulf country has become in the eyes of America's hawkish pro-Israel community.
Otaiba had earlier promised Satloff to "look into this one and see how our military folks respond".
In his reply to MEE, Satloff said he had made similar approaches to various governments, hosting Israeli, Jordanian and Turkish officers, and that WINEP had hosted a diplomat from the French foreign ministry as well as US diplomats and other government officials. He added: “Regrettably, we have not yet had the opportunity to host an Emirati officer.”
Otaiba later proposed to help WINEP "find some Emirati and perhaps non-Emirati speakers to discuss MB and radicalisation in the region", referring to the Muslim Brotherhood, whose affiliates have won popular elections in Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey and Kuwait and which the UAE and Israel together demonise as threats.  
We have never solicited or accepted any donation from any UAE source
- Robert Satloff, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Otaiba also wrote Satloff to give WINEP high marks for an article by David Pollock, who wrote a January 2016 piece in "defence of the US-Saudi relationship".  
"I wanted to let you know," wrote Otaiba. "I think the piece [by] David Pollock on Saudi is arguably the best analysis I've seen so far... try to find a way to get it published in a mainstream publication because this piece needs as much exposure as possible!"
By return Satloff lamented trying "all the usual mainstream outlets but were rejected", which he saw as "a sad sign of the times".  
Otaiba, whose Washington connections apparently far exceed think-tanks, then brokered his own offer to help, which Satloff declined: "Not even Politico? I can pull some strings there if needed." 
In his reply to MEE, Satloff wrote: "By longstanding policy, the Washington Institute does not solicit or accept donations from any foreign source - individual, corporation, government or foundation. We rely solely on financial support from American sources. Specifically, we have never solicited or accepted any donation from any UAE source."
Uzi Rubin was in direct contact with Otaiba (screengrab)

UAE and Israel grow closer

The UAE does not have official diplomatic relations with Israel. However, in November 2015, the government of Abu Dhabi allowed Israel to establish a diplomatic office for the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), based in the Emirati capital, though Israeli officials stressed it was to be accredited solely to IRENA, an intergovernmental organisation.   
MEE and Haaretz reported in 2015 that a private jet was flying at least twice a week between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi. A 2012 report by the French Intelligence Online website said AGT International had signed a contract worth $800m to provide Abu Dhabi's Critical National Infrastructure Authority with "surveillance cameras, electronic fences and sensors to monitor strategic infrastructure and oil fields".
The corporate intelligence website described AGT's owner Mati Kochavi as "the Israeli businessman most active in Abu Dhabi".
Politically, convergence on policy matters between the UAE and Israel have led to increased interactions, however, as the Emirates, along with Saudi Arabia, each adopt a more aggressive posture against neighbouring Iran, which Israel also considers a top threat.
Open relations with Israel would also provoke outrage among Palestinian factions, many of whom maintain as a "card" that normalisation of diplomatic ties between Israel and 57 Arab and Muslim countries can only occur after Palestinians are allowed to live free in a state of their own.  
This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

The president of the United States is now a neo-Nazi sympathiser

Donald Trump’s press conference was a grotesque display of empathy for violent racists. At least it united the Republicans in disgust at their president

Richard Wolffe
The Guardian

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Donald Trump the neo-Nazi sympathizer has achieved what Donald Trump the president has singularly failed to do: unite the nation.
An immensely fractured country – riven by race, class, culture and politics – finds itself transfixed by one grotesque display of empathy for violent racists. These are the same violent racists whom White House aides previously called, in remarks that Trump read out loudly and very carefully: “criminals and thugs.”
But that was so Monday. One short day later, the leader of the nation – that daily proclaims its commitment to liberty and justice for all – declared there were “very fine people” in Charlottesville, who simply joined a neo-Nazi rally to protest about a statue.
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What happened at the Charlottesville protests?

“You had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest, and very legally protest – because I don’t know if you know, they had a permit,” Trump helpfully explained to the astonished press corps at Trump Tower. “The other group didn’t have a permit. So I only tell you this: there are two sides to a story.”
Sadly for Trump, there is only one side to the political reaction to his comments: sheer disgust. As an apologist for racist protestors – even though they obtained a precious permit – Trump has magically created a sense of spine in his own Republican party. 
This is something of a biological miracle because people like Marco Rubio, his vanquished former rival – the man he used to deride as little Marco – was previously classified by entomologists as an invertebrate.
“Mr President, you can’t allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame. They support idea which cost nation & world so much pain,” tweeted the Florida senator. “The #WhiteSupremacy groups will see being assigned only 50% of blame as a win. We can not allow this old evil to be resurrected.”
Even in the abbreviated hashtag world of tweets, this counts for something. No doubt, Rubio will return to his spineless state when the next vote comes around. No doubt, he and his fellow Republicans in Washington will later excuse the abuse of a nation as the drunken talk of an otherwise good-hearted man.
But at this moment of testing, there is no excuse for standing on the sidelines in silence. Those who speak out deserve some praise for doing the right thing, if only to remember what the right thing looks like next month, when Congress returns.
So mazeltov to Paul Ryan for siding against the anti-Semites like this: “We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity.”
Of course this country also stands for the statues of Confederate generals. In fact, those statues were themselves erected in a concerted effort to resurrect the old evil that Rubio describes.
There’s a reason why so many of them rose up in the 1920s, a generation or more after the Civil War. This was the era when the KKK was reborn, thanks in no small part to the new media of its day: specifically, the moving picture known as The Birth of a Nation. 
Those statues were the larger-than-life resurrection of the dead and defeated Confederacy at a time when lynchings were the strange fruit of the south, and the civil rights struggle was led by a relatively new group known as the NAACP.
Those Confederate statues had nothing to do with the statues erected to commemorate the slave-owning founding fathers, as Trump argued on Tuesday. 
“So this week it’s Robert E Lee,” complained Trump. “I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”
“You’re changing history,” he added. “You’re changing culture.” 
Never mind that these statues themselves were an effort to change history and change culture. Never mind that the culture they represent was an abomination on America’s history and a moral affront to the values enshrined in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
There is no finer expression of the white supremacist mindset than this kind of cultural defense. The so-called citizens’ councils of the 1950s also argued they were just trying to protect their culture from sliding down the slippery slope of civil rights, integrated schools, voting rights and economic opportunity for minorities.
What drives Donald Trump to such extremes? Yes, we know he has a long history of racism: from his belief in the guilt of the Central Park Five to his announcementspeech riff about Mexican immigrants as rapists. Yes, we know Ivana Trump said he kept a copy of Hitler’s speeches by his bedside. 
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But it would be an omission to leave out the driving force of his candidacy and his presidency: his visceral hatred of Barack Obama. Trump has no clear ideology and no clear purpose to his presidency, other than his obsession with overturning everything Obama stood for. His presidential campaign began with a racist lie about Obama’s birth certificate; his presidency continues to smolder with resentment about the enduring life of Obamacare.
As they say on Scandal, and in too many American homes for too long, you have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have. How it must pain Donald Trump to know that his predecessor was twice as good at everything from inauguration crowds to legislative victories.
Let’s be honest. Trump’s sympathy for neo-Nazis is no more shocking than his pussy-grabbing boasts, his continued profiting from the presidency, his coddling of (and alleged collusion with) the Russians and his obvious obstruction of justice by firing the FBI director.
There is, amid all the random tweets and undisciplined press comments, a remarkable consistency to Donald Trump. He is the very man Hillary Clinton warned us that he would be. 
How he can continue as commander-in-chief of the world’s most diverse military force is something of a mystery. How he can continue as the leader of a big tent Republican party is inconceivable.
Perhaps the civil rights movement itself holds some lessons of what lies ahead: the moment of most violent white-lash is the moment when civil rights takes its biggest steps forward.
When James Meredith enrolled as the first black student at the segregated University of Mississippi in 1962, there were riots from a white mob, quelled only by federal troops. After a year of studies, racial harassment and protection by US marshals, Meredith graduated in a peaceful commencement ceremony.
Four decades later, Meredith returned to see his son graduate with the top honors from the business school at Ole Miss. He said he was far more proud of his son than he was of his own time there.
For his part in changing its culture and its history, the university made an important statement about Meredith, the man it had so roundly abused: it installed a statue of him striding towards its entrance.