Juan Cole: Pictures Don’t Lie: Refuting #There Was No Palestine – Juan Cole – Truthdig

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From the land that has been fought over for 1000s of years……some say there is no Palestine only Israel……of course that would be the followers of Israel…..but Palestine is a place and should be a reality……


Juan Cole: Pictures Don’t Lie: Refuting #There Was No Palestine – Juan Cole – Truthdig.

Are We Still Paying For Sykes-Picot?

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Inkwell Institute

Middle East Desk

Note:  I wrote this post about a month and got distracted from my main interests, the Middle East, by the situation in Ukraine……I hope to rectify my oversight this week.

On another note….this is my 6,666th post…..The Highway To Hell!

Good Morning………Today’s lecture is about the formation of the Middle East as we know it today……

Sykes-Picot?  What the hell?

The Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 was a secret agreement between Great Britain and France regarding the division of territory in the Middle East after the downfall of the Ottoman Empire. Although Russia did not sign the treaty, they acknowledged and accepted the terms of Sykes-Picot, which allocated to them parts of a defeated empire. Sykes-Picot is named for its negotiators who were French diplomat in Beirut, Francois Georges Picot and senior British diplomat, Sir Mark Sykes. It is important to note that the Sykes-Picot Agreement was independent from and did not account for any mandates from the League of Nations. The territory partitions described in the Sykes-Picot Agreement were later reaffirmed and ratified at the inter – Allied San Remo conference in April of 1920, which further resulted in mandates from the League of Nations in July of 1922.

The Sykes-Picot Agreement, signed on 16 May 1916, partitioned the Ottoman Empire into different zones of control or zones of influence for Great Britain, France, Russia and an Allied Powers or International Zone stretching from Haifa to Gaza. Great Britain was allocated the areas of Mesopotamia (southern Iraq), modern day Jordan, modern day Kuwait, north coast of modern day Saudi Arabia and an area around Haifa which allowed them access to the sea port. France was to control modern day Syria, modern day Lebanon, northern Iraq and Mosul, Armenia and parts of central-southern Turkey.

Once the war was over the empires set about setting up what is today’s modern Middle East countries…..BTW, in the Arab world T.E. Lawrence is NOT the hero or well admired person that the West thinks he is……you see he knew about this agreement but yet he continued to lie to the Arabs bout their chances of home rule….on a side note….the borders of the Middle East we designed by Gertrude Bell (a little trivia for you)……

This is how the Middle East was divided up…….

Basically it was empires dividing up the old Ottoman empire for their benefit….in other words to expand their dwindling empires at home…..a land grab.

I say a land grab because during all the bureaucratic negotiations no Arab was included….just the 3 major powers of the day….England, France and Russia, although Russia was excluded after the 1917 revolution…..so it came down to the “Big Two” to divide the conquered land among themselves….

Then there was the “international zone” or as we shall call it, by its name, Palestine…..

Following the outbreak of World War I, Zionism was first discussed at a British Cabinet level on 9 November 1914, four days after Britain’s declaration of war on the Ottoman Empire. At a Cabinet meeting David Lloyd George, Chancellor of the Exchequer, “referred to the ultimate destiny of Palestine.”  Lloyd George’s law firm Lloyd George, Roberts and Co had been engaged a decade before by the Zionists to work on the British Uganda Programme.  In a discussion after the meeting with fellow ZionistHerbert Samuel, who had a seat in the Cabinet as President of the Local Government Board, Lloyd George assured him that “he was very keen to see a Jewish state established in Palestine.” Samuel then outlined the Zionist position more fully in a conversation with Foreign Secretary Edward Grey. He spoke of Zionist aspirations for the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish state, and of the importance of its geographical position to the British Empire. Samuel’s memoirs state: “I mentioned that two things would be essential—that the state should be neutralized, since it could not be large enough to defend itself, and that the free access of Christian pilgrims should be guaranteed. … I also said it would be a great advantage if the remainder of Syria were annexed by France, as it would be far better for the state to have a European power as neighbour than the Turk”  The same evening, Prime Minister H. H. Asquith announced that the dismemberment of the Turkish Empire had become a war aim in a speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet.

(thanx to wikipedia for the above piece)

Yes, you read it correctly……there was a plan or at least a serious thought of taking Palestine and making it a Jewish state.

Fast forward to today……all the violence and discontent in the Middle East can be traced back to the end of WW1 and the Sykes-Picot Agreement…..there was No Arab involvement in the decisions to make countries out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire…..there were no considerations for tribal loyalties or ethnic problems or cultural difference….nothing was considered other than who gets what and where….

Because of this secret agreement…..we are still paying for the pact and its impact on the Middle East.

Iraq Will Escalate?


Inkwell Institute

Middle East Desk

Iraq has all but slipped from America’s collected memory…..out of sight….out of mind……but Iraq is far from being that shining example of democracy in the Middle East……and was not that the promise?

Violence is running rampant……elections are upcoming and NO one knows what the results will bring………but other than that what is happening in Iraq….I mean now that Americans have forgotten everything that had happened………

However, political divisions, in combination with a weak state and high unemployment, make Iraq one of the most unstable countries in the Middle East. The country remains deeply scarred by the brutal civil war (2006-08) that has poisoned relations between Iraq’s religious communities for generations to come.

The central government in the capital Baghdad is now dominated by the Shiite Arab majority (about 60% of total pop.), and many Sunni Arabs – who formed the backbone of Saddam Hussein’s regime – feel marginalized.

Iraq’s Kurdish minority, on the other hand, enjoys a strong autonomy in the north of the country, with its own government and security forces. The Kurds are at odds with the central government over the division of oil profits and the final status of mixed Arab-Kurdish territories.

There is still no consensus on what the post-Saddam Iraq should look like. Most Kurds advocate a federal state (and many wouldn’t mind seceding from the Arabs altogether if given a chance), joined by some Sunnis who want autonomy from the Shiite-led central government. Many Shiite politicians living in oil-rich provinces could also live without the interference from Baghdad. On the other side of the debate are the nationalists, both Sunni and Shiites, who advocate a unified Iraq with a strong central government.

Al Qaeda-linked Sunni extremists continue with regular attacks against government targets and Shiites. The potential for economic development is huge, but violence remains endemic, and many Iraqis fear the return of civil war and a possible partition of the country.  (thanx to ask.com)

And those are the finer points.

While the situation in Iraq is spiraling quickly…..the major issue that could the most trouble is Kurdistan…….

Kurdistan Pas News Agency quoted the head of the Goran Movement, Nawshirwan Mustafa, as confirming that Barzani had told him that he would seek to announce an independent state of Kurdistan within two years. The contentious claims have created controversy across Iraq ahead of the country’s third parliamentary elections, scheduled for the end of April.

A senior Kurdish political figure, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the reports on Wednesday. The source affirmed that during a meeting at the Goran Movement’s Suleimaniya-based headquarters, Mustafa had said that a potential independent Kurdish state “was discussed as an option

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Iraqiya bloc MP Talal Hassan Al-Zoubai said: “Iraq today is closer to a confederation rather than a federal government.”

“A federal government cannot order the [Kurdistan] region to do anything . . . the problem is that the Iraqi constitution gives precedence to the regions and the provinces over the central government—a thing which made Iraqi Kurdistan develop on all levels so that it became more significant than the center,” he continued. “Iraq today is made up of regions, the Kurds being most powerful on all levels, including the Peshmerga’s military strength, economy and investment.”

And there is the rub…….Kurdistan….that will be more contentious than the rise of ISIS…….this could spell the end of a “free and democratic” Iraq.

Well done, America.


Some Successes In Syria

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It is time for the world to move on……..the missing plane went down in the Indian Ocean with all hands on board……they are presumed dead…..now stop letting the vultures that pretend to be experts hawk their perspective trades….their ‘analysis’ is nothing but a promo of their services……..time to let the families deal with their losses……media…MOVE ON!

The shameful attempts of the media to protect Boeing makes me feel dirty………..Let me slip into something more comfortable…..international situations…………

Crimea…..Ukraine…….Russia…….and all those interesting places in the world…….but while you were on Google maps checking out the Indian Ocean……more has been going on Syria.

Yes, their CWs are being destroyed as we speak…….refugees are still suffering……and the civil war rages on.  The US and its allies have been pumping assets into the region with the hope of ousting Assad….so how are we doing so far?

As the title implies….there have been successes in Syria….unfortunately they are not related to the US in any way…………SAY WHAT?

Syrian forces, backed by Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, are in full control of Yabroud after clearing out rebels holed up in the strategic Syrian town for months, Syrian state media and opposition activists have reported.

Capturing Yabroud, the last major rebel bastion near the Lebanese border north of Damascus, will help President Bashar al-Assad secure the land route linking his Mediterranean coastal stronghold with the capital Damascus, and choke off a cross-border rebel supply line from Lebanon.

“The Syrian army is now in full control of the town of Yabroud in Damascus [province] and are now combing through the city and dismantling the roadside bombs planted by terrorists,”

Not too bad right?  The Syrian army is just cleaning out around the capital, right?

Syrian soldiers have raised the national flag on the battlements of a 900-year-old Crusader castle after a three-month siege that ended on Thursday when rebel fighters fled.

The recapture of Crac des Chevaliers, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a real and symbolic victory over divided rebel factions.

The army has also wrested back control of most of al-Hosn, the town below the hilltop castle, which was surrounded by Syrian troops for weeks until many rebels moved out on Thursday morning and the army moved in, according to residents.

“The Syrian Arab Army raised the national flag on al-Hosn Castle in Homs province after eliminating the terrorists holed up in it,” Syrian state television said.

The Syrian army is having more and more successes…..how can that be?  The US and the West are pumping aid into the region…..what is becoming of all this aid and why is it not helping?

My answer is an easy one….too many factions feeding on the aid cake……..there is not a central command to coordinate campaigns against Assad’s forces….too many groups with a personal agenda….Syria is beginning to look a lot like the Balkans in WW2……….as long as the opposition is fighting each other then Assad forces will have more and more successes and the US aid will be squandered away…..and in the end….Assad will survive.

Maybe Rocks Would Be More Effective?


From the Ukraine we take a hard left and head south by southwest (not a Hitchcock movie)!

Yes, I am a geek when it comes to international relations, especially dealing with the Middle East.  Whenever people hear the term “Middle East” they immediately think of Israel and its conflict with the Palestinians and its neighbors…..the country of Israel is so important to the US that we sink $429 million into their scheme for a system to intercept incoming missiles, Iron Dome is its code name.

“The Iron Dome system is capable of intercepting and destroying short-range rockets, and mortar and artillery shells, and is an invaluable component of Israeli missile defense,” the statement reads. “During Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, Iron Dome was credited with saving countless Israeli lives, and was called a ‘game-changer’ by many Israeli policy-makers.”

The agreement, concluded last Wednesday, “ensures continued US funding for procurement of Iron Dome systems and interceptors, and provides for significant co-production opportunities for US industry. Under the terms of the agreement, $429 million will be transferred immediately to Israel to support Iron Dome procurement.”

Iron Dome is this magic bullet that will protect Israel from rocket attacks from their enemies, which are many in the region……but what is it exactly?

The system is designed to counter short-range rockets and 155 mm artillery shells with a range of up to 70 kilometers. According to its manufacturer, Iron Dome will operate day and night, under adverse weather conditions, and can respond to multiple threats simultaneously.

Iron Dome has three central parts:

  • Detection & Tracking Radar: the radar system is built by Elta, an Israeli defense company and subsidiary of the Israel Aerospace Industry, as well as the IDF.
  • Battle Management & Weapon Control (BMC): the control center is built by mPrest Systems, an Israeli software company, for Rafael
  • Missile Firing Unit: the unit launches the Tamir interceptor missile, equipped with electro-optic sensors and several steering fins for high maneuverability. The missile is built by Rafael.

The system’s radar is developed and manufactured by IAI’s ELTA division and referred to as ELM-2084. It detects the rocket’s launch and tracks its trajectory. Then, the BMC calculates the expected hit point according to the reported data, and uses this information to determine whether the target constitutes a threat to a designated area; only in this case an interceptor missile is fired to detonate and destroy the rocket before it reaches the expected impact area.

Now that you are well aware of the scope of this weapon……maybe we should see how well t does work…..

A barrage of at least 70 rockets was fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel on Wednesday evening. There were no casualties.

The IDF’s Iron Dome system successfully intercepted three rockets, and area residents have been called to stay within protected areas.

Intercepted 3 out of 70?  That is less than 10% of the incoming rockets were intercepted.  We, meaning America, spent $429 million to help develop a system that has less than 10% success rate……..now there is money well spent…..maybe they should hire a bunch of slingers and let them hurdle rocks at the incoming rockets……bet the success rate would be better and it would cost the US a whole less money…….whatcha think?

Is Syria Still There?


You bet your butt it is still there and as horrific as usual…the latest reports are not optimistic…..

As the Syrian civil war enters its fourth year, millions of children are at risk amid harrowing conditions caused by the collapse of the country’s health care system, a report from the Save the Children charity warns.

  • More than 10,000 children have died in the violence, but “it is not just the bullets and the shells that are killing and maiming children,” the report warns. Save the Children’s research revealed almost medieval health conditions in cities such as Aleppo, where there were 2,500 doctors before the war but fewer than 40 now, reports the New York Times. The group found that thousands of children are dying from diseases that could either have been treated or easily prevented under normal conditions.
  • Some 200,000 Syrians are believed to have died from chronic illnesses since the start of the conflict because of a lack of treatment, compared to an estimated 140,000 killed by violence, Reuters finds. Vaccination coverage has fallen sharply and diseases such as measles and meningitis are spreading along with polio, which has now infected an estimated 80,000 Syrian children.
  • The nightmarish consequences of the health system’s collapse include newborns dying in incubators amid power cuts, children having limbs amputated due to a lack of equipment for proper treatment, and patients being knocked out with metal bars because of a shortage of anesthetic, the report found.
  • Amnesty International, meanwhile, accuses the Syrian regime of using “starvation of civilians as a weapon of war,” the BBC reports. Around 20,000 refugees are trapped in a besieged camp in Damascus and at least 60% are suffering from malnutrition, the group warns.
  • In some rare good news to emerge from Syria, a group of Greek Orthodox nuns kidnapped by rebels in December have been released, according to another BBC report. The 13 nuns, who worked in a convent orphanage, say they were mostly well treated by their captors.

So yes Syria is still raging out of control it is that it is not important enough for the media to care……………

I heard the press secretary say that situations in Syria were showing some signs of growing success…..I’m kinda guessing that this was not what he was speaking of…..

Syria will miss a major deadline next week in the program to destroy its chemical weapons production facilities, sources at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said on Thursday.

Syria declared 12 production facilities to the OPCW and has until March 15 to destroy them under a deal agreed with the United States and Russia. Damascus has already missed several deadlines laid out in the agreement.

“That will definitely be missed,” said an official involved in discussions with Syria, referring to the March 15 deadline.

These are the weapons that the whole world was soooooo concerned with 6 months ago….now….not so much.

But that is the way of things….the media tells us all what is important and when……DEMAND better!

The Reductio ad Absurdum of Iran Containment | Jahandad Memarian

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My final thought of the day…….we have been playing the containment game with Iran since 1979….but what has the impact been?

If you are not sure then maybe this article will help your understanding and settle some of the confusion around the Iran situation……

The Reductio ad Absurdum of Iran Containment | Jahandad Memarian.

Could Annexation Help The Process?

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Before I begin my day of writing I just wanted to ask…..since the news is as boring as watching curling…..could the media be manipulating the news and its reports so that it does not interfere with the coverage of the Sochi Olympics?  Just asking.

Today is my day in the barrel….the Middle East barrel that is……I have written about the ‘plan’ that Kerry has to bring about a peaceful end of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict…..like I said…..everybody has a plan and none have come even close to ending the violence peacefully……

And then I read something that made me sit back and say…HUH?  It was so unusual for this conflict that I had to read it several times to be sure that I was not hallucinating……

Details of the closed-door negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority suggest the two sides are much closer together than previously indicated, with the two sides just “percentage points” away on land swaps.

Israel is looking to annex 10 percent of the West Bank in the deal, while the PA is said to be favoring a deal that caps the annexations at 3 percent, with land exchanges.

3 percent or 10 percent isn’t as big a difference as it sounds, as either would encompass the vast majority of Israel’s settlements. Some of the settlement blocs south of Jerusalem are apparently agreed to by both sides, while some others are still in dispute.

The suggestion of an independent Palestine including 90 percent of the West Bank is hugely promising, with discussion of them also getting some land in the Negev, bordering the Gaza Strip, as part of the settlement of the refugee issue.

On the other hand, Israel has coalition partners threatening to withdraw and collapse the coalition if they get close to such a deal. The discussion of percentages in the West Bank also didn’t include the question of East Jerusalem, which Palestinians envision as their future capital and which Israel has already annexed outright.

All that took me by surprise and after thinking about it I find the notion a bit ‘outta the box….and being so just may have a chance…..that is if all parties agree and Benji can get past the blood thirsty right wing of Israel………any thoughts or suggestions?

And Then There Is Afghanistan

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Afghanistan?  That pesky war that the media and the public are trying to despartely forget…….We do not hear much about America’s longest war….why is that?  Easy peesy……Americans are near the point of war weary…..they see and hear about the deaths and such but we are suppose to leave Afghanistan by the end of this year….God willing.

Our surrogate, Karzai, is not the most reliable person and even though there is an upcoming election for the country’s president….there is much that he, Karzai, has to answer for….if that is at all possible…..

A new report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) is offering some of the first looks at three years worth of audits of Afghan management of the aid provided by USAID.

Anyone whose paid even cursory attention to Afghanistan’s legendary level of corruption could expect the audits were bad, but they turned out to be so bad that USAID officials tried to keep SIGAR from disclosing them for years,

The report detailed 107 “major risks” to providing aid money directly to the Afghan government, mostly critical and mostly centering around how millions of dollars in cash have a nasty tendency of disappearing in Afghanistan.

This is just one of many indications that corruption is running rampant in the country….a counbtry that bribes are the source of many job opportunities……

And then there is our enemy in Afghanistan….the Taleban.  There have been many reports of Karzai and his government trying to reach ‘secret; deals with the Taleban…….

The latest strain on the tenuous US-Afghanistan relationship: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been secretly negotiating with the Taliban. With no Western involvement, Karzai has been trying to hash out a peace agreement, which, officials say, explains a lot of his recent inexplicable and vexing actions (see: refusing to sign a security deal with the US and freeing dozens of dangerous Taliban detainees). But, sources tell the New York Times, the talks haven’t come to much—there’s not even the beginning of an agreement, and it’s not clear the Taliban was ever serious in the first place. The Taliban reportedly reached out to Karzai in November, right around the time his relationship with his allies started going downhill, and a number of messages have been exchanged since. The lack of progress, however, has many officials thinking the Taliban’s main purpose was to mess with the US-Afghan security deal, and some officials say the communication has died down and any hope for a peace deal is dead. But a Karzai spokesman says the contact with the Taliban continues and has been “very positive.” A Taliban spokesperson tells Bloomberg the Taliban has not reached out to Karzai, but praises Karzai for refusing to sign the deal with the US and says if he continues to refuse, “it will create positive relations with him.”

All the indications that I read and hear is that we are pretty much tied to Afghanistan for the next decade or more……and that means more of our money being funneled to feed the corruption of the government.

Just thought I would let you know……after all…that is…..WHY I AM HERE!

The Coming Bloodbath in Syria | The Fiscal Times

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Syria has slipped from the headlines….but nothing has changed….if anything they have gotten worse…..with the promise of more to come…..

The Coming Bloodbath in Syria | The Fiscal Times.

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