Link – Yemen – Analysis

“The Houthis were advancing and no one was paying attention,” explained Abdul-Ghani al-Iryani, a Yemeni political analyst and opposition activist, by phone.

Yemen’s central government has never been strong or exercised full control over the country. Sheikhs, or tribal leaders, fill that void, as they’ve done for centuries, by arbitrating disputes, providing essential services like water, and enforcing customary law. Saleh had kept some semblance of control over the nation by pitting the sheikhs who could threaten his authority against one another, while making alliances with local leaders through an intricate patronage system. For decades, Saleh exhibited a genius for staying in power, but his style of rule never addressed Yemen’s fundamental problems, including poverty, conflicts over water resources, and a lack of basic services and education. He ignited resentment that flared into violence. Even before the Arab Spring, Western writers wondered whether Yemen was “the next Afghanistan” and pronounced it “on the brink of chaos.” – 1/26/2015.

FTAC – On Monotheist Assembly

“We can proceed from the assumption that Judaism and Islam, while certainly differing in a number of fundamental perspectives and priorities — are, as religious communities, not in conflict.” In the main part, Christians, Jews, and Muslims and others are not naturally in conflict. There’s no cause but what may be amplified — or provoked! – in content of imagination and mind. However, legal, social, and political histories evolving after Hillel the Elder, a jurist who may have laid the foundation for a universalized access to Judaism, belie the assumption. Denial is sweet, but like sugar poured on a wound, may add to injury, and all have been injured on the monotheist merry-go-round that follows from Hillel’s outlook and the adaptation of Judaism to restive populations.

The Jews, not to separate myself too much, are a deeply rooted ethnolinguistic people, indigenous and inherent or joined, brought together beneath the umbrella of a common outlook about humanity. That it works may be born out by what has followed, and now we’re here and perhaps again — all sharing a common basis in faith: God — restive.

I don’t wish to drown in theology — it’s too soon — but may suggest being careful about assumptions that have deeply illiberal — enslaving — political consequences. What is here today is “back there” already. Looking forward may be part of a good assembling.

The source for the bounce:

Berman, Howard A.  “Jews and Muslims: A Call for Reconciliation.”  The American Council for Judaism.  Summer 2007.

A conciliatory stance may diminish the want of conflict and contribute to a character in conversation that eventually enables a clarified and frank reappraisal of ideas, instructions, and principles bound in with legacies in faith.  That conversation must and will be had, but whether today is its day is another matter.

And then on, I droned —

Setting aside the problems posed by inherently despotic leaders — they have their hidden stories and the concept of “malignant narcissism” may cover their intellectual disposition and layout — the psychologies of followers and readers differ also. Those are large areas for discussion, but Facebook threads challenge us to distill and compress as much as possible . . . .

Hillel’s statement to a man ambivalent about conversion sets out a standard perhaps implicit either in the Torah or the study of it: “That which is distasteful to thee, do not do to another. That is the whole of Torah. All of the rest is commentary. Now go and study.”

Would that would be all there was to it.

Similarly, when Muhammad says, “One scholar is more powerful against the devil than one thousand worshipers,” he too invokes a universal observation, value, and yearning where language and its treasures have flourished.

We’re all fine with that, or should be.

What happens next becomes history where differences become loud.

In the Jewish way, none of the prophets are close to God or treated as if gods. Moses is shy; he’s dependent on Aaron for advice; and when the waters are parted, it’s not Moses who does it. It’s God. When God sets out to “prove” (test) Abraham, we’re not told whether the test is of obedience or conscience, and we are left to note and argue an awful lot of evidence and subsequent story whether or not Abraham “passes” or “fails” this particular — and many of us believe dumb galunk that would sacrificed his own son without asking God a few questions fails by miles. And so it goes with differences in apprehension, conversational style, and the informing of conscience through language.

On the other side of Jewish liberalism and western “classical liberalism” . . . we miss a lot, which for me starts with the language traditions behind “7,000 living languages” (approximate current estimate) and adding in the ecological and social exigencies of living in large numbers elsewhere on the planet. “Illiberal assumptions” may account for social organization and political peace where imposed even if we don’t much like (and shouldn’t).

Talk and time may work miracles, and as we have that time now, let’s together — Christian, Jewish, and Muslim — set aside complaints and foibles and have a good look around as well as into (my fave) “conflict, culture, language, and psychology” — and see if we cannot produce a better world than that in which we find ourselves.

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Links – On Iran’s War by Proxy

In an interview that was broadcasted on Lebanon’s Murr TV that was translated into English by MEMRI, Ahmed Al Asaad, the chairman of the Lebanese Option Party and a member of the Shiite community, declared: “The Iranian regime still believes that things are like they were in the Middle Ages; it sponsors militias, here, there and everywhere, and these militias exert pressure from within on their countries. In this primitive manner, Iran tries to gain a foothold there.”


Kais, Roi.  “Hezbollah faces internal criticism in Lebanon: Senior Lebanese officials say Nasrallah is dragging the country into another war in Israel; ‘Hezbollah has no right to implicate the Lebanese people in a battle with Israel,’ says leader of March 14 Alliance.”  Ynet News, January 28, 2015.

Mumford, Andrew.  Proxy Warfare.  Wiley (2013).  (I haven’t read this volume yet, but have read a portion via the Google project that has put book data online.  That didn’t show up on the latest search, so it may soon be a volume incoming for the library).

While the mainstream media has focused solely on Hamas and Israel in the current ongoing war, there has been less attention given to the major role that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been playing in ratcheting up the conflict with its military assistance to Hamas fighters, including Iranian-built Fajr 5 and M-75 with ranges of approximately 75 kilometers. – 7/29/2014.

The Houthis are trying to take advantage of Hezbollah’s experience, and the Houthi-affiliated Al-Maseera Channel broadcasts from Beirut’s southern suburbs with technical support from the Lebanese Shiite party. Recently, relations between the two sides have grown deeper. This comes amid repeated accusations from the Yemeni state that Iran is supporting the Houthis, and after the United States put in place new sanctions in August 2013 against some Lebanese who were accused of providing funds to the Houthis in Yemen. The Houthis usually do not deny this strong link with Hezbollah, which is reinforced by common factors between the two sides, such as their presence in the same regional alliance with Iran at the political level. In addition, both groups have armed militias to support their political positions, which they use when necessary. Yet, for the Houthis, the militia is their most prominent — if not exclusive — tool and not the exception, as is the case with Hezbollah. – 11/19/2014. – September / October 2013. – 10/8/2014

In his resignation letter, Prime Minister Khaled Bahah said the cabinet did not want to be dragged into an “unconstructive political maze”.

Earlier this week, Houthi gunmen fired on Mr Bahah’s convoy and then laid siege to the presidential palace, where he was staying.

Then on Wednesday the home of President Hadi was shelled, shattering a ceasefire that had been agreed only hours earlier. – 1/22/2015.

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Links – Daesh – In The Guardian on Recruitment and Religion; Elsewhere: on Programmatic Savagery


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As part of research involving in-depth interviews with Isis members for a book about the organisation, American analyst Michael Weiss and I have identified half a dozen categories of Isis members according to the factors that drew them to the group. In at least two of those categories, religion more than anything else has been the driving force. But these two demographic components – long-standing takfiris (radicals who adhere to teachings that declare fellow Muslims as infidels) and young zealots – are more central for Isis than other members because they formulate the group’s identity and ensure its resilience. In addition, the appeal of Isis outside its conflict zones tends to be primarily ideologically driven. – 1/24/2015.

The seeds of today’s brutality were perhaps sown long ago in a 2006 book called “The Management of Savagery,” wrote expert Lawrence Wright in the New Yorker. The book, written by a radical Islamist thinker named Abu Bakr Naji, details patterns of “abominable savagery” witnessed in both the Islamic State and its earlier incarnations. According to this English translation, it calls for an “administration of savagery” and a merciless campaign to polarize the population, attract adherents and establish a pure Sunni caliphate. “We must make this battle very violent, such that death is a heartbeat away, so that the two groups will realize that entering this battle will frequently lead to death,” the book says. – 8/12/2014.

Related on BackChannels: – 10/1/2013.

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Links – Tehran Connection – Argentinian Prosecutor’s Death May Be Linked to Washington Policy


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LONDON — The United States pressed Argentina to end its investigation of Iranian complicity in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in which nearly 100 people were killed. 

Western diplomatic sources said the administration of President Barack Obama urged Argentina on several occasions to either stop or limit the investigation into the bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association in Buenos Aires. The sources said the U.S. appeals marked one of the demands by Iran for a reconciliation with Washington, Middle East Newsline reported.

“Argentina had hard evidence against at least one Iranian leader, which prevented him from traveling abroad,” a source said. – 1/23/2015.

Earlier this month Nisman filed a criminal complaint in an Argentine court, alleging that President Cristina Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman had crafted a secret agreement with Iran to let the terrorists off the hook in exchange for Iranian oil largess and Iranian purchases of Argentine grain. – 1/25/2015.

In an exclusive column, Jewish journalist Damian Pachter – who first reported on the death of the special prosecutor – recounts the intimidation, the sleepless nights, the agent who stalked him and his ultimate decision to head for Israel.

Pachter, Damian.  “Why I fled Argentina after breaking the story of Alberto Nisman’s death.”  Haaretz, January 25, 2015.

I knew Alberto Nisman from years researching Hezbollah activities in South America for my book Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God. The idea that he would commit suicide just as the investigation into the 1994 attack is finally making headway simply does not comport with the man and his years-long, dogged commitment to bringing the perpetrators of this horrific act of terrorism to justice. After Nisman filed his complaint last week, Kirchner’s administration insisted that the charges “have no foundation,” but neither those charges nor the sudden, suspicious death of the prosecutor who brought them would be the first time the case was marred by political corruption and illegal activities at the highest levels. – Matthew Levitt – 1/22/2015.

In which world would you wish to live?  The one of state mafia loaded strong with every criminal method of manipulation imaginable (to list a few: constituent infantilization, pandering, patronage; bribery, intimidation, jailing, murder; libel, slander, and theft; pervasive lying, nepotism, and secrecy) — or some other dragged out into the sun for a good look?

The Alberto Nisman murder story — it appears as I type that the state is changing its story — may accompany the sea monster surfacing of a new global fascism, the same that this blog has been suggesting with “Putin-Assad-Khamenei”, “Putin-Orban”, “Putin-Erdogan” — submitted to search engines, each pair will produce some cogent and interesting coverage — as well as the blog’s psych-lite approach to “malignant narcissism” and it’s weaving with what has been observed in relation to bipolar and narcissistic personality disorders and their extension into leadership and political psychology.

Additional Links

Mohsen Rabbani, an Iranian mullah and a former cultural attaché in Argentina, is a leading figure in spreading Islam in Latin America, particularly in Brazil. Rabbani, while in the service at the Iranian embassy in Buenos Aires, was involved in the planning and implementation of the deadly terrorist attack on the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) Jewish cultural center of 1994 that resulted in 85 dead and more than 150 injured. Rabbani’s involvement in the bombing was persistently denied by Iranian authorities. In 2007, however, Interpol finally decided to issue a Red Notice for Rabbani, which is an arrest warrant with a view to extradite. – 6/24/2011. – Current.

The man directly responsible for this cell-building operation in Argentina was the cultural attache of the Iranian embassy in Buenos Aires, Mohsen Rabbani. His job was supposedly to provide cultural and religious information. His real job, however — like that of the Iranian ambassador to Syria in 1983, Ali-Akbar Mohtashemi — was building the local terror network.
A Shiite cleric, Rabbani gave a 1991 speech in a Buenos Aires convention hall before an audience of about 100 Argentinean right-wing advocates and Shiite Muslims. The front row was reserved for officials of the Iranian embassy, who beamed as Rabbani declared in schoolboy Spanish, “Israel must disappear from the face of the earth. – 10/16/2011.

The “second row seat to history” gets a little bit incestuous digging out quotations quoting other quotations, so here BackChannels may rest on the Alberto Nisman murder mystery.

One more thing . . .

Argentina president Cristina Kirchner reversed her government’s position on the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, saying now that his death was not a suicide.

The reversal comes as evidence gathered by Nisman proving that the government covered up Iranian involvement in the 1994 suicide bombing of a Jewish community center was released on Thursday. Kirchner is saying that Nisman was killed to discredit her government and that the prosecutor was “misled” by people posing as intelligence agents who fed him wrong information. – 1/23/2015.

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Link – On Pakistan’s Troubled Dream

The country’s founding father Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s August 11, 1947 speech is mentioned and quoted so liberally among the moderate circles that it has become something of a cliché.

However, what is not often related is how a federal secretary arbitrarily decided to censor it before its release. It proves that even as early as 1947 there were souls who desperately wanted to give the country a religious character.

Pitafi, Farrukh Khan.  “How Do We Reinvent Pakistan’s National Dream?”  Dawn, January 26, 2015.

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Link – Yarmouk – Word of Torture and Execution – Regime and Opposition Blamed


A man from the Yarmouk camp tortured to death in regime prisons. Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic battalions executed a man in the Yarmouk camp in the charge of insulting “Allah” – 1/25/2015.

What began in 2011 as an effort to hold a government accountable and to expand administrative power to the people, i.e., a true people’s revolution, has become by design, and one may think Putin-Assad-Khamenei for this, a civil war defined on both sides by despotic and sadistic personalities.  Neither side appears to have an off button, or a noble humanitarian switch, for that matter, and between them, Yarmouk Camp has been played like a poker chip.

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