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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Once Again NYC’s 100 Worst Landlords list looks like my Bar Mitzvah guest list

barmitzvah gilad.jpg
By Gilad Atzmon
The list of NYC’s 100 worst landlords is, once again, overwhelmingly dominated by Jewish names. Naturally, I  wondered whether this bar mitzvah guest list quality also applies to the list of NYC’s 100 best landlords. If it does, problem solved. We would assume that since Jews are overrepresented in the NYC rental business, they are amongst the best landlords as well as the worst.
A quick search reveals that there is no official NYC best landlord list. The  Yelp search engine offers something that resembles such a list and it doesn’t approximate my bar mitzvah guest list in the least.
Since the demography of the list of NYC 100 worst landlords is obvious, the list raises the following questions:
1.  How is it possible that there are no academic texts that examine this serious anomaly of extreme over-representation of one ethnic group in this gruesome list?
2.  How is it possible that not one social science graduate student has dedicated his/her PhD to the study of the 40 times over-representation of one ethnic group in the shameful list of abusive landlords?  I ask because an over-representation of 1.3 of an ethnic group in crime statistics has justified academic research and even institutional study.
3.  How is it possible that not one cultural studies scholar has attempted to identify the possible cultural conditions that have led to the concentration of one tribe in this horrid list?
4.  And what about American media? Shouldn’t we expect CNN, the NY Times or even to ask the obvious question? What is it about Gilad’s bar mitzvah guests, why are they so horrid to their tenants?
5.  How can we explain the fact that the NYC based Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Jewish anti Zionist outlets such as Mondoweiss that ‘care’  for ‘justice’ and ‘Palestinian rights’ are blind to the abuse that is taking place within their own backyard? I wonder, is Jewish ‘anti’ Zionism there to divert attention from gross wrongdoing elsewhere?
6.  We should all ask ourselves, why are we, you and I, afraid to raise these questions?
 video: NYC’s Public Advocate Letitia James Explains Critera For Worst Landlord List (
Some disturbing videos can be found here and here and here
It is also worth watching and listening to  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s announcement so you grasp how grave the situation is,,,(
 If they want to burn it, you want to read it!
Being in Time – A Post Political Manifesto, , and  here (

Thanks Given–ISIS Defeated; Putin and Assad Meet in Russia

Something to be thankful about today. Leaders of Russia, Syria, Iran, Turkey, and other countries are now converging in Sochi, Russia. The hope is to convene a conference that will lead to a political settlement in Syria now that ISIS has been defeated. Take a look at the following video showing Assad’s rather triumphant arrival on November 21. Watch as he meets not only Vladimir Putin but also some of the Russian military leaders who did so much to make this moment possible. The video was posted by Inessa Sinchougova, who also supplies the English subtitles:
From Sinchougova’s post at Fort Russ:
Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad in Sochi on 21st November 2017. The last time Assad visited Russia was at the beginning of the Russian campaign in Syria in 2015.
According to the Syrian president, in two years of the Russian campaign the successes achieved have been evident and many residents of the country were able to return to their homes. He noted that thanks to Russia, Syria was saved as a state.
The Chief of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, Valeri Gerasimov, said conditions have been created for the return of refugees to Syria, during the trilateral meeting with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts in Sochi. “The main thing is that the sovereignty, the territorial integrity of the country has been preserved, the civil war was stopped, conditions were created for the restoration of peaceful life and refugees’ return,” said Gerasimov.
President Putin similarly told his Czech counterpart, Milos Zeman, that “over 98% of the territory of Syria is under the control of Syrian government troops, during their meeting in Sochi. Zeman congratulated Russia for its role in the outcome in Syria, saying: “you have won in Syria, because he [Assad] now controls almost the entire Syrian territory.”
The Russian military campaign in Syria began in late 2015, by invitation of the Syrian government. Meanwhile, the Western coalition was carrying out military activity there almost two whole years beforehand, illegally. Under the guise of fighting ISIS, they were simultaneously targeting Assad’s government forces, as well as letting ISIS spread like wildfire.
The Sochi conference is aimed at reaching a working agreement between Russia, Iran, and Turkey that will lead to peace in Syria. The West and its allies, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia, seem to be doing everything possible to upset the apple cart. The New York Times published a cranky report yesterday complaining that the supposedly noble endeavors of UN envoy Staffan de Mistura “have now been overshadowed by Russia’s actions” while at the same time portraying Assad as “a war criminal.”
Meanwhile, SouthFront has posted a report saying that Hezbollah forces are now on high combat alert in case of an attack by Israel. Here is an excerpt from their report:
The situation in the Middle East is developing. The expected conflict between the resistance axis, primarily Hezbollah, and the Saudi-Israeli block is the current center of attention.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Iran wants to deploy its troops in Syria on a permanent basis “with the declared intent of using Syria as a base from which to destroy Israel” and threatened that if Tel Aviv fails to receive the international support, it is ready to act “alone.” “Iran will not get nuclear weapons. It will not turn Syria into a military base against Israel,” he said.
Deputy Chairman of Hezbollah’s Executive Council Sheikh Nabil Qaouq said his group is ready for any military scenario amid indications that Saudi Arabia is pushing the Israeli regime to launch a new military operation against Lebanon. He said “The resistance movement is prepared to confront anything. It is fully capable of securing victories and repelling any aggressor.” Hezbollah troops have been brought to the highest combat-readiness level, according to media reports.
Speaking to the Saudi newspaper Elaph, Israel’s military chief Gen Gadi Eisenkot called Iran the “biggest threat to the region” and said Israel is ready to share intelligence with “moderate” Arab states like Saudi Arabia in order to “deal with” Tehran.
The statement was followed on November 19 by an emergency meeting in Cairo between Saudi Arabia and other Arab foreign ministers, calling for a united front to counter Iran and Hezbollah. The emergency Arab foreign ministers’ meeting was convened at the request of Saudi Arabia with support from the UAE, Bahrain, and Kuwait to discuss means of confronting Iran. In a declaration after the meeting, the Arab League accused Hezbollah of “supporting terrorism and extremist groups in Arab countries with advanced weapons and ballistic missiles.”
In a post on November 17 I noted that “Israel is throwing a temper tantrum over the presence of Iranian troops in Syria,” and this is probably not surprising–for Israel and the US both are watching six long years of regime change efforts go up in smoke. This alone has the potential for making the situation volatile in the extreme, and it’s not hard to imagine some sort of “incident” being deliberately provoked, possibly by Israel or Saudi Arabia, aimed at drawing the US into a war with Iran.
The officials meeting in Sochi doubtless are taking note of all this, though–at least outwardly–they don’t seem too perturbed about it. You can go here to read a Kremlin press release on a joint statement by Putin, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, and President Recep Erdogan of Turkey, that was released yesterday.
“The main pillars of ISIS have been destroyed,” Iranian President Rouhani observed—while Putin pretty much said the same thing in so many words: “Large-scale military operations against terrorist gangs in Syria are coming to an end.”
Hopefully they will come to an end…permanently…and peace will prevail in Syria.
One final thing…at a press briefing on November 20, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders asked reporters to preface their questions by saying what they are thankful for. You can go here to watch a video of the briefing. Some expressed thanks for their families, for their jobs, their colleagues, one or two expressed thanks for the First Amendment, and one expressed thanks to his wife “for saying yes on the fourth request.” But interestingly enough, not a single one expressed thanks for the defeat of ISIS, and perhaps even more significantly, no one expressed thanks that we have avoided a war with Russia.

Daesh Defeat in Iraq and Syria Means Beginning of the End for Saudi Arabia and israel

Saudi ISIS 7ab74After years of suffering and violence, Iraq and Syria now seem to be rid of Daesh, sometimes referred to as ISIS or ISIL, thanks mainly to the efforts of Iran. On Tuesday, November 21, Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani sent Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei a congratulatory message on Daesh’s defeat in these countries, and thanked him for his leadership.
Although his own work with the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) was key to this victory, Major General Soleimani also praised the armed forces of Syria and Iraq, their governments and people, in their determination to expel foreign terrorists from their countries.
While this is a great victory for peace in these war-torn countries, it is not news that is welcomed in every corner of the world. When one looks at Daesh’s founding and financing, one sees why some nations are bitterly disappointed with Major General Soleimani’s news.
A senior employee of the Dutch Justice Ministry’s National Cyber Security Center, Yasmina Haifi, ‘tweeted’ the following in August, 2014: “ISIS (Daesh) has nothing to do with Islam. It’s part of a plan by Zionists who are deliberately trying to blacken Islam’s name.”
The following month, a research scholar at Harvard University, Garikai Chengu, said that Daesh “is made-in-the-USA, an instrument of terror designed to divide and conquer the oil-rich Middle East and to counter Iran’s growing influence in the region.”
And herein we have the answer to many questions: the U.S. desperately wants to ‘counter Iran’s growing influence in the region’.
For decades, Israel was the Middle East’s strongest nation. Relying on $4 billion annually from the United States, it violated international law and human rights with complete impunity; it oppressed the Palestinians and stole their land, assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists, and practiced its particularly brutal version of apartheid within its ever-expanding, illegal borders.
Yet with hapless U.S. support, it slowly overstepped its bounds. Urging the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised the U.S. Congress that ‘enormous benefits’ would accrue if Saddam Hussein were overthrown. In the power vacuum that that immoral and illegal invasion caused, Iran stepped in and built new ties with Iraq, which the U.S. and Israel had not anticipated.
When Israel decided that Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad must go, so that a weaker government that would bow to Israel’s demands could be installed, it didn’t anticipate Iranian and Russian support for Syria. The U.S. accommodated Israel’s demands by calling for ‘regime change’ in Syria, and supported, with arms and training, what it called ‘moderate rebels’, who were, in actuality, brutal foreign forces with no respect for human dignity, or human life. The suffering these U.S.-supported terrorists caused is beyond description.
With Iran’s influence demonstrated in Syria, to the point that U.S.-supported forces were defeated, Israel looked to block Iran’s growing geopolitical strength, by supporting the drive for Kurdish independence in northern Iraq. This, too, failed.
Perhaps the biggest tactical mistake that apartheid Israel and the oligarchy known as the United States made was underestimating the IRGC. U.S. forces quickly vanquished Iraq a decade ago; Syrian forces, on their own, would have been no match for the terrorists being supported by the U.S. Without this powerful assistance, it’s likely that Daesh would have overrun Syria, and it, like Libya and Iraq, would be in ruins, leaving Israel hegemony with little competition in the Middle East. That racist nation would then have been able to annex all of Palestine, completing the genocide it began in 1948, and which has continued to this day.
Alas for Israel, this was not meant to be! Iran, a nation that believes in self-determination and peace (Iran has not invaded another country since 1798), came to the assistance of its ally, Syria. Thus, Daesh, and Israel’s dreams for uncontested power in the Middle East, were destroyed.
Political affiliations can be unusual. It has now been reported that Israel and Saudi Arabia have been in contact to determine how best to confront Iran. Israel and Saudi Arabia have two of the most dismal human rights records in the entire Middle East; Israel is a brutal occupier, and Saudi Arabia is slaughtering Yemenis, including men, women and children, even as this is written. In Saudi Arabia, a decree was issued in September of this year, allowing women to drive; this new law is to be implemented by June 24, 2018. This very basic right is revolutionary in the oppressive nation of Saudi Arabia. In July, when this writer visited Iran, he saw as many women driving as men. Women cannot vote in Saudi Arabia; women in Iran have had that right since 1963.
It is not surprising that two nations with no interest in human rights would become allied to try to hold onto their fading power. Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for the Middle East and the rest of the world, there are many factors weighing against them:
  • The U.S. government is in complete disarray. While the money flow to Israel continues unabated, the current government seems unable to formulate any cohesive policy on almost anything, foreign or domestic. This is a good thing, since its policies in the past have always supported brutal dictators against the human rights of the majority.
  • Israel’s isolation from the world community continues to increase. The Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement continues to negatively impact Israel’s economy, academics, athletics and reputation. The alarm that the BDS movement has caused in Israel and the United States is evidence of its strength.
  • Russian power leans toward Iran, and away from Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Russian officials are scheduled to meet with officials from Turkey and Iran on November 22, to discuss Syria. The U.S. has not been invited. Russia’s and Iran’s leaders apparently see no reason to involve the U.S.; the situation simply doesn’t concern the U.S. Relations between the U.S. and Russia today are at their worst point since the end of the Cold War.
  • The strength of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. In numbers, strategic ability and experience, the IRGC has no peer in the Middle East. Israel has nuclear weapons, but it is unlikely that any of its allies, including the United States, would support their use in a war with Iran. And while Israeli society may be slowly imploding under the weight of its own injustices, even Israel’s leaders must recognize that the use of nuclear weapons would cause a murder-suicide of historic proportions: they may destroy their target nation, but there are too many other nations that are nuclear-armed that would retaliate in kind. A nuclear attack on any other nation by Israel would mean the end of Israel. That fact hardly escapes its leaders.
  • Saudi Arabia’s leaders will not formally ally with Israel unless there is a final peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, assuring an independent Palestinian state. Israel has no interest in accomplishing this, which will hamper its ability to work with Saudi Arabia. Even if Saudi Arabia’s leaders drop that requirement, which is not unlikely, the other issues mentioned herein are too big for Israel and Saudi Arabia to overcome.
With decreasing interference from the U.S., Syria and Iraq will rebuild, supported by Iran and Russia. U.S.-supported terrorists have been defeated there; people have begun to return to their homes, and in time, they will return to a degree of normalcy. Israel’s next move to re-establish hegemony on the international stage is anyone’s guess, but much of the world has grown tired of its barbarity and violation of international law. As its power and influence fade, and Iran’s grows, the Middle East can hope for a more peaceful future.

Why Are We Helping Saudi Arabia Destroy Yemen?

November 21, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – The Saudi clown prince Mohammad Bin Salman is an impulsive tyrant. But what accounts for his urge to purge the country of any potential competing power center Why does he run a such an activist foreign policy? The answer might be Iran. Not Iran the country, but Iran the system.
Since the U.S. war on Iraq the sclerotic Saudi Arabia continuously lost standing in its region. The Iranian model gained ground. A decade later the authoritarian Arab systems were challenged by the so called “Arab spring”. While the movements in the various countries -as far as they were genuine- have failed, they were a warning sign for things to come.
Saudi Arabia reacted to the challenges by moving away from a sedate, consensual run family business towards a centrally controlled, supercharged tyranny. The move allows for more flexible and faster reactions to any future challenge. But it also increases the chance of making mistakes. To understand why this endeavor is likely to fail one needs look at the traditional economic and social system that is the fabric of the country. The fate of the Hariri dynasty is an example for it.
Since Salman climbed the throne he has moved to eliminate all competition to his rule. The religious establishment was purged of any opposition. Its police arm was reigned in. First crown prince Murqrin was removed and then crown prince Nayef. They were replaced with Salman’s inexperienced son. Economic and military powers were concentrated in his hands. During the recent night of the long knives powerful family members and business people were detained. The Wall Street Journal reports of a second arrest wave. More higher ups have been incarcerated. This round includes senior military commanders and very wealthy business people.
As the prison for the arrested VIPs, the Ritz-Carlton hotel, is fully booked, the next door Mariott is now put to use. Qualified staff was hired to handle the prisoners:
As many as 17 people detained in the anti-corruption campaign have required medical treatment for abuse by their captors, according to a doctor from the nearest hospital and an American official tracking the situation.

The former Egyptian security chief, Habib el-Adli, said by one of his advisers and a former Egyptian interior minister to be advising Prince Mohammed, earned a reputation for brutality and torture under President Hosni Mubarak.
After the torture reports spread due to employees of local hospitals, a medical unit was established in the Ritz itself.
My assertion in earlier pieces, that one motive of the arrest wave was to fleece the prisoners, has been confirmed. The arrested rich people are pressed into “plea deals” in which they give up their assets in exchange for better treatment and some restricted kind of freedom. The aim is to “recover” up to $800 billion in so called “corruption” money. Thousands of domestic and international accounts have been blocked by the central bank of Saudi Arabia. They will eventually be confiscated. But Saudi billionaires have long been looking for ways to park their money outside of the country. The accounts which were blocked are likely small change compared to their total holdings in this or that tax haven. Historically the recoveries of such assets is problematic:
Asset recovery programs never really go quite to plan. They are beset by obstacles — most often in the form of wealth squirreled away offshore and political infighting over wealth seized onshore.
Most likely, Saudi Arabia will obtain a sliver of these assets — say in the tens of billions of dollars — a useful, but temporary, gain. What happens after that depends on how Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman re-sets relations with business.
The financial success of the MbS raids will be small. The financial damage he causes with his jihad against his own family members will be significant. It ruins his plans for attracting foreign investment:
“Half my Rolodex is in the Ritz right now. And they want me to invest there now? No way,” said one senior investor. “The wall of money that was going to deploy into the kingdom is falling apart.”
One can not steal money from some people and then expect other people to trust assurances that such could never happen to them. MbS’s big plans for Neom, a $500 billion artificial city financed by foreign investors, will fall apart.
To accuse princes and high officials of “corruption” is a fancy excuse. “Corruption” is how business is done in Saudi Arabia. It is tightly connected to the traditional ruling system. The king and his son are trying to change both:
Foreign investors tend to enter the Saudi market via partnerships with established business franchises or princes as they seek to exploit their domestic clout to navigate a complicated bureaucratic landscape.
The same goes for any state tender. To contract for building a road or public housing a company will have to find a prince or high official with the necessary clout. To get a tender signed it will have to promise, or pay upfront, a share of the expected profits. When the job is finishes it will need to come back to its protector to get its bill paid. No money will flow for the delivered work unless another bribe is handed over. Contracts are calculated with 40% on top to compensate for these necessary lubricants.
The systems works. The Saudi State has enough money to compensate for such distribution. The system is only problematic when a contractor delivers shoddy work, but can still bribe his patron into accepting it. Drainage man-hole covers in Saudi streets without the necessary drainage tunnels below them are a well known and despised phenomenon.
Rafic Hariri, the father of the Lebanese premier minister Saad Hariri, built a construction empire in Saudi Arabia by paying the right people. He knew how to work within the  system. He was also a capable manager who ran his business, Saudi Oger, well. He was also the Saudis man in Lebanon and did his best to fulfill that role.
His son Saad never got a grip on the business site. By 2012, seven years after Rafic Hariri had been assassinated, the family business in Saudi Arabia ran into trouble:
Almost a year ago, the Saudis began keeping an eye on Hariri’s company, which reeked of corruption. Several high-ranking officials – some close to Saad Hariri – were accused of theft and extortion. But Hariri could not find a solution to the crisis, nor was he able to restore the confidence that the company lost in the market.
So he began a major pruning operation, laying off lower-level employees without any indication of objections to their job performance. The dismissals did not even spare Saudi nationals, leading to widespread dissent.

The Saudis once treated the company with care, providing it with contracts in the region’s biggest oil economy. Now, the company is suffering from internal disputes and theft. It became closer to a scrapyard for the Kingdom.
Saad Hariri had the wrong contacts, bribed the wrong people and delivered shoddy work which made his company an easy target. He also failed to be a reliable Saudi asset in Lebanon. There the Shia Hizbullah gained in standing while the Sunnis, led by Hariri, lost political ground.
The Hariri company took up large loans to finance its giant construction projects for the Saudi government. But by 2014 oil prices had fallen and the Kingdom simply stopped paying its bills. It is said to own $9 billion to the Hariri enterprises. Other Saudi constructions companies, like the Bin Laden group, also had troublesome times. But they were bailed out by the Saudi government with fresh loans and new contracts.
No new contracts were issued to Hariri. No new bank loans were available to him and his bills were not paid. The Saudis demanded control over Lebanon but Hariri could not deliver. In July, after 39 mostly successful years, Saudi Oger went out of business. The Hariri family is practically bankrupt.
Hariri’s two youngest children, 16 and 12 years old, are kept hostage in Saudi Arabia. After the recent trip to Paris his wife also returned to Riyadh. The French President Macron had intervened and Hariri was allowed to leave Saudi Arabia. But Macron failed (intentionally?) to free him from Saudi influence. Hariri’s financial means and his family are under control of the Saudi tyrant. He is not free in any of his political, business and personal decisions.
Hariri is pressed to now drive a political hardline against Hizbullah in Lebanon. He knows that this can not be successful but his mischievous Saudi minder, the Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer, does not understand this. His boss, MbS, believes that the whole world can and should be run the same way he wants to run his country.
Bloomberg’s Erik Schatzker has long observed how business is done in Saudi Arabia. He had portrait the Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. His recent observations at a nightly desert picnic explains how the wider al Saud family used to run the country:
It was almost midnight when the prince held a Majlis, a traditional Bedouin ceremony in which tribesmen come to pay their respects and ask for charity. A line of men in white robes and red-and-white Arab headdresses stretched into the darkness. One by one they approached, removing their sandals, bowing and handing him pieces of paper. Some recited poetry. The prince scribbled on each cover sheet and put the papers on a stack.
Saudi Arabia used to run on such patronage:
Saudi society is divided by tribe, region, sect, degree (or nature of religiosity), and class.Although these various groups are only rarely organized in formal structures outside of the state, many developed special connections with specific state bodies, turning the sprawling state apparatus into constituencies of sorts.

Middle East expert Steffen Hertog has aptly described how the Saudi state emerged in the oil era: leading princes carved out structures they could dominate; state institutions worked in silos and coordinated poorly; and networks of beneficiaries, contractors, and influence brokers populated various bureaucracies. The Saudi state expanded rapidly into an uncoordinated group of what Hertog goes so far as to call “fiefdoms.”
High up princes take care of lower ranking ones. Each has common folks, clans or whole tribes he is supposed to take care of. Obedience is bought by controlling the “social” spending that trickles down through this pyramid. The princes make their money by having their fingers in, or “taxing”, all kind of state businesses. It is this money that sponsors their luxurious life as well as the benefits they distribute to lower folks. This was never seen as corruption as it is understood in the west. For decades these tribute payments were simply owned to the princes. They had a birth-right to them.
MbS “corruption” ride is destroying that system without him having a replacement. Saudi Arabia has been run as a family business. Decisions in recent decades were taken by consensus. Every part of the family was allowed to have its cash generating fiefdom and patronage network. The rule of King Salman and his activist son are trying to change that. They want to concentrate all business and all decisions in one hand. But what will replace the old system?
Mohammad bin Salman’s view of the world is that of Louis XIV – “L’etat, c’est moi” – I am the state. In his own view MbS is not just a crown prince or the future king of the state of Saudi Arabia. He, and he alone, is Saudi Arabia. He is the state. He let this view known in an interviewwith the Economist in January 2016:
[W]e have clear programmes over the next five years. We announced some of them, and the rest we will announce in the near future. In addition to this, my debt-to-GDP is only 5%. So I have all points of strength, and I have the opportunities to increase our non-oil revenues in many sectors, and I have a global economic network.
As I remarked at that time:
The young dude not only thinks he owns the country, he actually thinks he is the country. He has debt-to-GDP, he has ten million jobs in reserve, he has all women of Saudi Arabia as productive factor and he has scary population growth.
Does the guy understand that such an attitude guarantees that he personally will be held responsible for everything that will inevitably go wrong with his country?
Saudi Arabia and its state apparatus have for decades been build on an informal but elaborate system of personal relations and patronage. MbS expects that he can take out one part of the system, the princes and businessmen, and the rest will follow from that. That he will be the one to control it all.
That is a doubtful endeavor. The ministries and local administrations are used to do their business under tutelage. Eliminating the leadership caste that controlled them will not turn them into corruption free technocracies. Seeing the exemplary punishments MbS hands out at the Ritz the bureaucracies will stop working. They will delay any decisions out of fear until they have the okay from the very top.
Ten-thousands of tribal and clan leaders are bound to and depend on the patronage system. The hundreds of people who sought audience with Alwaleed bin Talal at the desert picnic will turn whereto? Who will take up their issues with higher authorities? Who will provide them with hand outs and the “trickle down” money they depend on?
Another target of Mohammed bin Salman’s activities have been the religious authorities. Some critical sheiks have been incarcerated, others are held incommunicado. The Salman “revolution from the top” extends into their judiciary role:
Historically, Saudi leaders have propounded the view that the sharia is the country’s highest law and the overall legal system operates within its bounds.

the domination of the religious establishment in law is ending. The king and crown prince are clearly favoring (and fostering) religious figures who repudiate some long-standing official views.
Bin Salman is purging the religious establishment, the military, the competing members of the families, the business people and the bureaucracy. He wants to run the state on his own. He demands the right to review any decision in the legal, business and foreign policy realm. He has authority to punish people responsible for decisions he dislikes. Under his system any personal initiatives will become extinct.
The country is too big for one person to control. MbS can not take all decisions by himself. No large system can work like that. The people will soon become unhappy with his centralized and unresponsive control.
That centralization does not work well is already visible in his failing foreign policy. MbS wants to be seen as the indisputable “leader of the Islamic world”. His hate for everything Iran originates there. The Iranian system of a participatory and democratic Islamic state is a living alternative to the autocratic model he wants to implement in Saudi Arabia. The western model of a “liberal democracy” does not adapt well to the historic social models that are prevalent in the Middle East. But the Iranian system is genuine and fits the local culture. It is the sole competition he fears. It must be destroyed by any means.
But all his attempts to counter Iran (even where it was not involved) have been unsuccessful. Saudi interventions in Yemen, Qatar, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon have been disastrous. Over the weekend the Arab League delivered the usual criticism of Iran but decided on nothing else. Half of the Arab League states, including the powerful Egypt, are not willing to follow the aggressive Saudi course. Mohammed bin Salman’s grand scheme of using Israel and the U.S. to fight Iran in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iran itself is unraveling.
The Saudi response to the competition of the Iranian system is a move towards more authoritarian rule. This is hoped to allow for more agile policies and responses. But the move breaks the traditional ruling system. It removes the sensible impediments to impulsive foreign policies. It creates the conditions for its very failure.


Syrian government forces have liberated a large area from ISIS on the western bank of the Euphrates. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) Tiger Forces have captured the villages of Ajrama, al-Safsafah, Ksu Umm Saba, al-Jahlah, al-Dwair, Wadi Abu Jasim, Surat al-Kshma, Subaykhan, Gharbiyah, Suwaydan Shamiyah, Dabyan, Musallakhah and the nearby points, according to pro-government sources.
Now, the Tiger Forces are developing momentum in order to link up with their counterparts advancing from the direction of al-Bukamal.
The ISIS-linked news agency Amaq claimed that at least 7 SAA soldiers, a battle tank and a bulldozer were destroyed during ISIS counter-attacks in the area. However, the terrorist group was not able to stop the SAA advance.
In southwestern Aleppo, an intense fighting was reported between the SAA and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) in the villages of Rajm Sawan, Hajara and al-Rashadiyah. Pro-government sources speculated that this was a start of the widely expected the SAA operation to establish control over the Abu al-Duhur Airbase. No official confirmation of these claims are available yet. It’s unlikely that the SAA and its allies launch any significant military operation in southwestern Aleppo before the full liberation of the western bank of the Euphrates from ISIS.
In northern Hama, ISIS cells expanded their control in the so-called opposition-held area and captured the villages of al-Judaydah, Madabah, Abu Khanadiq and the nearby points.
The Syrian Military Intelligence has seized a large shipment of weapons en route to the militant-held part of the Eastern Ghouta region, near Damascus.
The shipment included 15 Soviet Malyutka and its Iranian copy, Raad, anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) as well as 3 Soviet-made Konkurs ATGMs, 2 Russian-made Metis-M ATGMs and a French-made MILAN ATGM. 3 disassembled Soviet-made R-60 air-to-air missiles, dozens of US-made M72 LAW, Soviet-made RPG-22, RPG-26, and Czechoslovakian-made RPG-75 anti-tank rockets were also captured.
Additionally, the seized shipment included explosive belts, mines, explosive materials and a huge amount of drugs like marijuana and Captagon tablets.
On November 22, the presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey met in the Russian city of Sochi to discuss the situation in Syria.
According to the joint declaration, “the three presidents expressed support to the intra-Syrian dialog with the participation of representatives from all segments of the country’s society” and “urged representatives of the Syrian government and opposition speaking in favor of sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian state to take constructive part in the Syrian National Dialog Congress in Sochi in the near future.” The sides also discussed the de-escalation zones and other important issues of the conflict.
The meeting has clearly shown the new reality appearing in the Middle East, which the US-Israeli-Saudi block will have to accept.
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لقاء سوتشي .. هل هو لوضع شروط الاستسلام المشرف لأردوغان؟؟

نارام سرجون

لايلتقي الزعماء الكبار الا عندما تتعب الجغرافيا من خطوطها القديمة وتمل من تضاريسها وجبالها التي تقف كالتماثيل الاسطورية والنحت العظيم الالهي على بوابات القارات وشبابيكها وشرفاتها .. وتصبح الجغرافيا جاهزة للولادة القيصرية لتنجب خطوطا جديدة وثيابا جديدة وتتبادل التماثيل الالهية للقارات بين الخطوط الجديدة ..

لاأستطيع أن أوقف فضولي من أن يلح في السؤال عما دار بين الزعيمين الكبيرين السوري والروسي في لقاء سوتشي وأي خطوط في الجغرافيا ستتحرك بعد هذا اللقاء الذي جمع الرجلين .. لأن مادار بينهما هو الذي قرر جدول اعمال النقاش في القمة الثلاثية التي تلت ذلك في اليوم التالي مع روحاني واردوغان .. فهل حمل بوتين رسالة في منتهى الحساسية من اردوغان الى الأسد وتلقى رسالة جوابية منه؟ .. البعض يظن أن اردوغان قدم عروضا سخية بشان المعارضة السورية واسكاتها وتحويلها الى مكاتب اعلامية محدودة النشاط في استانبول مقابل طلبات جشعة تخص الأكراد السوريين لأن اردوغان يريد أن تنتهي الطموحات الكردية بنوع من الألم والندم للجمهور الكردي لتكون درسا قاسيا للأجيال القادمة كي لاتكرر خطيئة التمرد وايقاظ المشاعر الكردية في تركيا والمنطقة .. ويقال ان اروغان طلب ان يعطى دور الشرطي والحق في ضرب كل تحرك كردي داخل الاراضي السورية تحت غطاء من الحكومة السورية واقامة مكاتب تنسيق أمني مشتركة .. وذهب خيال البعض الآخر أن بوتين رتب لهذه الزيارة للقاء أول سري بين أردوغان والأسد ..

ولكن كل هذا يصب في تكهنات وارهاصات وأحلام تركية وبعضها قادم من مكاتب اردوغان الدعائية .. لأن الأسد لايمكن أن يلتقي أردوغان ولن يسمح بكسر هذ الخط الاحمر لأن اردوغان هو الذي كان يحاربنا منذ ست سنوات وهو الذي في عنقه دماء عشرات آلاف السوريين وفواجع العائلات والايتام وفي عنقه دماء المنازل المهدمة والجريحة في كل المدن السورية .. وهو في الضمير السوري بمثابة نتنياهو الشمال .. فعندما يلتقي الأسد نتياهو يمكن لخيال أردوغان أن يتصور لقاء يجمعه بالأسد ..

ولكن هناك حقيقة مزعجة جدا لاردوغان لم يعد ممكنا تجاهلها وهي أن مابيننا وبين اردوغان من نزاع “جغرافي” انكمش كثيرا لأنه لم يبق بيننا وبينه سوى ادلب بعد أن تم انتزاع حلب وريفها من أشداقه وتم تجريده من داعش التي كان يمدها بالدعم والمال والسلاح والمقاتلين المهاجرين من أنحاء العالم لتتمدد حتى البوكمال .. حيث حول تركيا الى محطة الضخ الأولى لداعش التي كانت تضخ مئات المقاتلين يوميا باتجاه الاراضي السورية .. ولم يعد لأردوغان في الداخل السوري أي شيء الا ادلب بعد أن كان موجودا في حمص وحماة وجبال اللاذقية .. وهو الذي كان يحارب في سورية بلحمه ودمه مستندا الى دعم العربان والاميريكيين والاوروبيين .. ووجد انه بعد أن اجتاح بجيوش داعش والنصرة والجيش الحر ثلاثة ارباع سورية فانه انكمش في عام واحد الى مدينة ادلب فقط .. وانه تقيأ كل ماابتلعه وبقيت ادلب في حوصلته التي أبلغه الروس والايرانيون والسوريون أنه سيتقيأها ايضا بنفس الطريقة المهينة والمؤلمة التي تقيأ فيها حلب .. وأن مصير من بقي في ادلب هو ذات مصير داعش ..مالم يتم حل الامر بالتفاوض ..

ولذلك فان أغلب الظن أن المباحثات كانت حول تسليم مدينة ادلب للجيش السوري وحلفائه دون قتال في فترة زمنية متفق عليها بعد أن ادرك اردوغان أنه بات وحيدا في المعركة كما اثبتت الوقائع منذ معركة حلب وحتى البوكمال أخيرا .. وهذه النقطة ظلت غامضة وقيل بشأنها بعض التأويلات لكن مانقله مصدر تركي أن الاتفاق السوري التركي المتوقع سيدخل كملحق لاتفاق أضنة الشهير ضمن اطار جديد وتفاصيل أدق تراعى فيه المخاوف التركية بشأن الوجود والنشاط الكردي في الشمال السوري ومحيط عفرين .. ويقال بأن الأتراك عرضوا عملية تغيير ديموغرافي لنقل مكونات عربية وتركمانية الى المناطق الكردية لتشكل حواجز بشرية أمام أي طموحات كردية مستقبلا وسيكون عماد التغييرات مكونا من الجمهور السوري من المهاجرين الى تركيا حيث ستتم تحديد اقاماتهم لاعادتهم الى سورية مقابل مبالغ مالية لتسهيل اعادة استقرارهم ولكن الى المناطق الكردية على أنها مناطق الاستقرار الـ (آمنة) بضمانة روسية تركية ايرانية في نطاق الحل السياسي والمفاوضات طالما أنهم معارضون وان عملية اعمار مناطقهم الاصلية ستتطلب وقتا طويلا بين اعادة الاعمار والاتفاق النهائي الذي قد يتغرق “سنوات” .. مما يعني أن تركيا تريد ان تضمن أمنها (الكردي) الجنوبي لقرن كامل عندما تقوم بتشتيت التجمعات الكردية وتذويبها في منطقة سكانية عالية الكثافة بعناصر غير كردية حيث يتحول الاكراد الى أصغر الاقليات .. أما العملية السياسية فهي التي ستكون فيها مفاوضات حول دور المعارضة والدستور وهذه لن تتدخل فيها تركيا وستترك للمفاوضات السورية السورية كامل الهامش .. وبعبارة أخرى انها ستنفض يدها نهائيا وتنسحب بهدوء من المشهد السياسي السوري ..

هذه الافكار تركية ولكن الجانب السوري لاشك أنه لايجد فيها جاذبية كافية لأن الأتراك سيخلقون مشكلة كردية في سورية لم تكن موجودة .. وان وجدت فانها كانت اقل سخونة وهي سهلة الحل .. وسيكون هناك بهذه الاقتراحات العثمانية توتر كردي عربي .. كما أن تركيا بايجاد مناطق آمنة مؤقتة للسوريين المهاجرين ستترك الدولة السورية وكأنها العدو لهذا الجمهور الذي سيتحول في وطنه الى شعب مخيمات حيث تنتشر قوى لاتخضع تماما للدولة السورية تنتظر (الحل السياسي) وسيكون هناك من يريد بقاء هذه التجمعات او استغلال أوضاعها المؤقتة وماتحمله من بذور فوضى مستقبلا .. علاوة على أنه يتناقض تماما مع دور الدولة في رعاية مواطنيها وتوفير حقهم الكامل الآمن في عودة كاملة الى وطنهم وأراضيهم بغض النظر عن موقفهم السياسي الذي تكفل حريته المطلقة التعهدات الدستورية السورية للدولة الوطنية ولنهج الحكم الوطني في سورية الذي أثبت أنه ملتزم بتعهداته كما أثبتت المصالحات الكثيرة التي ابرمها مع المسلحين الذين ألقوا السلاح ..
لم يعد عندي شك ان احتمالات الحرب في ادلب تتراجع اذا صدقت تعهدات تركيا لروسيا وايران في فترة تنفيذ متفق عليها .. وان عملية الانسحاب الارهابي منها وتفكيك جهاز النصرة أو تأمين نزوله عن الشجرة باتجاه تركيا او غيرها هو محور النقاش الذي كان في سوتشي بين الأسد وبوتين .. وبين بوتين اردوغان وروحاني .. واذا أردت أن أغوص في تعريف لقاءات سوتشي وخاصة بين الأسد وبوتين فهي قمة لوضع شروط الاستسلام (المشرف) لاردوغان ومعارضيه ..

واذا كان أردوغان يريد ان يبيع المعارضة السورية فهذا شأنه لأنه يملكها ملك اليمين وهي وهبت نفسها له .. ولكن ليس من شأنه ولا من حقه ان يبيع الأكراد السوريين أو يشتريهم منا .. لاننا لانزال دولة وطنية يملكها الجميع من مواطنيها بكل انتماءاتهم وهي مسؤولة عن حمايتهم جميعا كواجب عليها .. ونحن نستطيع حل مشاكل وهواجس الأكراد ضمن اطارها الوطني السوري دون الحاجة لخلق صراع معهم كي يطمئن أردوغان وابن اردوغان وابنة أردوغان وجيران اردوغان ..

عندما التقى الأسد وبوتين منذ سنتين انتهت يومها مغامرة الغرب واردوغان في حلب وانتهت حكاية داعش بعدها مباشرة .. واليوم عندما يلتقيان تنتظر جبهة النصرة مصيرها ويتمنى جيش الاسلام أن يعرف اين هو محله في قرارات اللقاء الثاني بين الزعيمين اللذين يرسمان لوحة القوى الجديدة في قلب العالم سورية .. ولايمكن أن يكون هذا اللقاء بين الأسد وبوتين الا اعلانا لشيء قادم سيقرر كل الأحداث وخواتيمها في سنة 2018 .. التي لاشك ستكون السنة الأهم في تاريخ الشرق الأوسط .. فالزعماء الكبار يلتقون عندما يلهث التاريخ مرهقا محاولا الامساك بالثواني المتلاحقة وهو يهرول خلف الأحداث لالتقاط لحظاتها القاطعة كقطع تذكارية في حقيبته الجلدية الضخمة ..

أما اذا اجتمع الصعاليك والنعاج فان الجغرافيا تنظف نعليها بجلودهم وعباءاتهم وعقالاتهم وربطات عنقهم .. وهناك الكثير من القمصان والياقات البيضاء والعباءات والطرابيش العثمانية التي سيمسح بها التاريخ والجغرافيا حذاءيهما وينظفا نعليهما بها .. فهذه هي وظيفة العباءات التي ترتديها النعاج منذ الأزل عقب كل الأحداث العظيمة ..

ولكني ايضا سأجد لدي الشجاعة الكافية لأنافس التاريخ والجغرافيا لأمسح حذائي بعباءات العرب وأنظف نعلي بياقات معارضيهم البيضاء وربطات عنقهم .. وأدعو كل من خاض معنا في هذه الحرب أن يستأذن من التاريخ ان يستعير عباءة من عباءات العرب وياقة بيضاء معارضة وربطة عنق معارضة وطرابيش عثمانية لينظف بها حذاءه ونعله .. وأخص بالذكر رجال الجيش العربي السوري الذين خاضوا هذه الحرب وحققوا المعجزة .. ولاشك أن أحذيتهم التي اغبرت وتعفرت ستتشرف العباءات والياقات البيضاء والطرابيش بتنظيفها وتلميعها قبل ان تدوسها تلك الأحذية وتتابع طريقها نحو انتصارات جديدة ..

   ( الخميس 2017/11/23 SyriaNow)
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‘P is for Palestine’


Reported by Gilad Atzmon
Jews are upset again. The latest kerfuffle is over a kids’ book called ‘P is for Palestine.’
The New York Post reports that a “children’s book titled “P is for Palestine” is infuriating some New York Jewish mothers — who charge that “it’s nothing but anti-Semitic propaganda disguised as a kids’ alphabet book.”
“Omg. Crazy. I’m livid at this,’’ one woman wrote on Facebook. “I can’t believe it’s real and in NYC!”
Another post reads, “You have gall advertising your incredibly politically insensitive book on this site.” I guess that supporting the oppressed is what some Jewish mothers qualify as “insensitivity.”  I wonder how these Jewish mothers would react to my soon to be written – ‘Lexicon of Sex Predators’– I thought I’d name it:  ‘W is for Weinstein.’
Still another Facebook user wrote, “A children’s book on Palestine that doesn’t recognized the state of Israel.. . is very sad.’’ This is a bit of an exaggeration. When we talk about Palestine and Palestinians being abused on a daily basis and on racist grounds, we well know who is behind it. We do acknowledge the role of the Jewish State and Zionism.
Author, Golbarg Bashi, a Pace history professor and former Rutgers Iranian-studies instructor, told an audience at a bookstore reading last Saturday, that she “came up with the idea for this book after I couldn’t find a book about Palestine for children.’’ After the reading, Bashi told The Post, “I love ABC books personally, and I have so many of them at home about all kinds of places — Mexico, United States, Italy, everywhere.”
At least one Jewish parent who attended the reading was supportive of Bashi. Rafael Shimunov, of the group “Jews for Racial and Economic Justice,’’ brought his 7-year-old daughter. He said he did not find the book anti-Semitic. Again, we  manage to squeeze out a ‘kosher stamp’   from a well meaning Jew. Gossip has it that JVP, IJAN and Mondoweiss have decided to form a new activist group called ‘Jews for Alphabet Books’ (JfAB) just to make sure that the opposition to P is for Palestine is dominated by the right (well meaning) people…
Bashi’s detractors claim that she has actually written pro-Palestinian blog posts. As we know, this is considered a crime in the Jewish universe. They point out that she such inflammatory words as, “by all measured historical accounts . . . Israel is a racial and religious apartheid state.”
The book which features colourful illustrations of Palestinian families, associates each letter of the English alphabet with Palestinian culture, for example: “A is for Arabic, my tongue, a language that’s the 4th biggest ever sung!” I  assume that the Jewish mothers protesting the book would prefer something like:  ‘A is for Arabs – people who were invented to throw the Jews to the sea,’ or maybe ‘A is for American President – a democratically elected position available to any candidate who wins the trust of our lobby.’
But some of the phrases and illustrations are clearly anti-Israel as the NYPost claims. For example, “I is for Intifada, Arabic for rising up for what is right, if you are a kid or grownup!” It shows a child on her father’s back standing before barbed wire and flashing peace signs. Peace, as we know by now, is offensive to people who do not like their neighbours.
In the world in which we live, we are all Palestinians. P is for us. Accordingly, I will make sure that I have a copy of P is for Palestine on my book shelf alongside my own ABC book,  A to Zion – The Definitive Israeli Lexicon. 
To Buy P is for Palestine click here
So far though, I can’t find the book on Amazon or anywhere else. You can follow the story here:
And here is the ABC book I compiled with the genius cartoonist Enzo Apicella:

‘Israeli’ Analyst Commenting on Sayyed Nasrallah’s Speech: Kornet Threatens ‘Israel’

23-11-2017 | 12:43
Military affairs commentator in the ‘Israeli’ “Channel 20”, Noam Amir, commented on the latest speech of Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah when he said that Hezbollah transferred Kornet missile to the Palestinian resistance in Gaza, considering that “those missiles threaten the ‘Israeli’ army.”


He further considered that “Kornet has a black history with the ‘Israeli’ army: the first is during the second Lebanon war [July 2006] when attacking the tanks that entered Lebanon and we saw how Hezbollah made those tanks ‘fly’ in the air, and the second incident when Hezbollah opened fire at a military convoy in the Sheb’aa Farms after the assassination of Samir al-Quntar.”
“This missile is very dangerous and advanced; and despite the fact that some heavy artilleries of the ‘Israeli’ army are supplied with a protection from this kind of missile, there is no doubt that this weapon must not reach Gaza, in case they really succeeded in transferring the Kornet to Gaza, then this of course is a failure for us because it shouldn’t have happened,” Amir added.

Source: Hebrew Media, Translated by website team