Iran Protests, Dec 30, 2017 – chanting slogans against Khamenei in Tehran University – NCRI
Demonstrators were reportedly heard yelling slogans like “The people are begging, the clerics act like God”. Protests have even been held in Qom, a holy city home to powerful clerics.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-42519054 – 12/30/2017
Other demonstrators chanted “leave Syria, think about us” in videos posted online. Iran is a key provider of military support to the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
Twenty-one hours ago:
One theme emerging from the protests: faith in President Trump’s determination to battle back dictatorships and groom democracies.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly taken aim at Iran, denouncing its government as a “fanatical regime” and accusing it of violating an international agreement aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear program, refusing to certify its compliance with the deal.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert also addressed the protests.
“The United States strongly condemns the arrest of peaceful protesters. We urge all nations to publicly support the Iranian people and their demands for basic rights and an end to corruption,” she said in a statement.
While the Laws of War may apply to contested space and recognize the division between the “occupier” and the “occupied” — and the “stronger” and the “weaker” for that matter — there’s something now absurd about the preoccupation with an occupation that treats the “occupied” better than their own leaders.
The law and the thinking behind it have become absurd as the conflict becomes redefined. I think I’ve done my part to harp on the Soviet / post-Soviet engineering of the conflict and get in the way of the memorization of political cant and disinformation that keeps the darned thing — and the Arab apartheid of the Palestinians and related exploitation of the main base by the leadership elite — cycling.
Maybe the cadre who most genuinely care about the Palestinian main base are figuring out the true history of the conflict — that would be a better preoccupation than the one to which too many have been and are still indoctrinated.
It’s Russia that has used its power to keep the Palestinian leaders in loot and the Palestinian main base bereft. If the phrase “free will and determination” of Palestinians is to have any meaning at all, then the same must displace the kind of power (and repressive political methods) represented by both the PLO and Hamas. Otherwise, the population hasn’t any free will — only camps and containers to keep them suspended and held powerless by their own interlocutors.
BackChannels has practically produced a constructive module on this topic:
It wold take multiple acts of willful ignorance to deny what the Soviet Union did in its day to contribute to the political abuse, channeling, and repression of what have become today’s Palestinians locked into camps, patronized (if part of what the Soviet picked up in relationships after the Nazis were defeated) or preserved to act as “human shields” in wars provoked by leaders who happily steal funds intended for their development and welfare.
Killed: 144 (minimum as reports vary)
Predominant Age: 12-16.
Pakistan’s Black Date appears set in myriad videos — news reports, memorials, reenactments.
What is too little?
What is too much?
And what has one to add to so heinous a crime — some “big men” armed to the teeth creeping through a cemetery to climb over a wall and enter a sanctuary for decent education with the sole purpose of butchering children in their studies?
These are my three select — a day-after news report; a reenactment with a song (English in subtitles); and a children’s memorial:
The prompt: opprobrium for much of President Trump’s other actions and utterances with glowing exception for announcing the moving of the American Embassy to Jerusalem.
Trump has to respond to internal personal as well as external political pressures. He has to make decisions with those two universes somewhat in balance.
The “Jerusalem Declaration” sense a message to (you know what I’m going to say — fill it in), and the timing is right as Israel is somewhat surrounded by PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, and Russia (which has military stationed about eight miles from the Golan).
The West has symbolically re-planted its flag at the Israeli bridgehead with what used to be more predictable despotic “eastern” dictatorships or “politically absolute” governments (some of them, of course, plainly hideous).
Russo-Iranian imperial aggression in the middle east has pushed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia westward, and the same has focused the remaining liberal states of EU / NATO (so perhaps not Turkey or Hungary or Poland) on resistance to extremist and tyrannous politics). The President’s move in Jerusalem nudges the other side to back off or up its game. We hope that Moscow axis will “hold” where it is and reconsider its ambitions and the means now applied — including election meddling and real fake news — toward achieving them.
— 33 —
In the same conversation, Arafat confided:
There are 250,000 Palestinians living in the US. 8,000 of them are university lecturers. Palestinians are highly educated people. Our level of education is higher than the Israelis’.22
May I be so bold as to suggest: the high proportion of American university lecturers among the long-suffering Palestinian people is a factor which needs much more attention from analysts of the Middle East. It may explain a lot.
Under the Soviet and Arab pressure, the PLO was internationally recognized as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” (imagine al-Qaeda being recognized today as the sole legitimate representative of the world’s Muslims).
Stroilov, Pavel. Behind the Desert Storm: A Secret Archive Stolen From the Kremlin that Sheds New Light on the Arab Revolutions in the Middle East (p. 45). Price World Publishing. Kindle Edition, 2011,
If a secret gets out but no one hears it or reads about it, does it count?
The key is in the “if no one”.
In fact, the professional politico in or around Russian studies knows of, say, the Mitrokhin Archive, Ion Mihai Pacepa, the volumes listed in the “Russian Section” of this blog, and doubtless Russian as well plus an enormous “much else”.
The public at large?
Perhaps not so much.
For that, Pavel Stroilov proves easily read, delightfully illuminating, and reliably provocative.
Here’s where he begins:
This book, I am proud to say, proceeds from a grand theft aggravated by high treason.
To be more precise, it concludes a whole series of crimes—and puts a stop to it.
I have stolen these secrets from Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet dictator, a Nobel Peace Prize winner. I covertly copied thousands of secret Politburo documents from the Gorbachev Foundation Archive, and then smuggled them out of Russia.
Who among the enthused for liberal democracy would not be charmed?
And here within the virtual pages of the Kindle edition, the past catches up with the present:
Comrades and Ayatollahs
…The movement continues in the right direction: the resistance to imperialist forces. Very important roles belong to Syria and even to Iran. In this sense, Iran is our ally, even though we are very different.
Mikhail Gorbachev to Hafez Assad, 28 April 1990
BackChannels joyously recommends reading “Pavel” to Cold War beginners, and, as may be glimpsed from more critical reviews cited, as a way on to the bridge between Cold War history and today Middle East conflicts.
Radchenko, Sergey. “Behind the Desert Storm: A Secret Archive Stolen from the Kremlin That Sheds New Light on the Arab Revolutions in the Middle East by Pavel Stroilov (review). Journal of Cold War Studies, pp. 266-268, 14:4, Fall 2012:
Devoid of any scholarly analysis, the book is full of nonsense, some of it derived from far-fetched interpretations of Stroilov’s source material and some borrowed from popular conspiracy theories. Fortunately, Stroilov is relatively brief with his own comments. Most of the book is made up of verbatim transcripts of documents, including memoranda of Gorbachev’s conversations with foreign leaders, Politburo transcripts, and various enlightening notes penned by Gorbachev’s chief foreign policy aide, Anatolii Chernyaev, and by other officials. Although excerpted and often cited out of context, these documents offer an interesting glimpse into the dynamic of Gorbachev’s policymaking and disclose hitherto unknown aspects of Soviet diplomacy during the first Gulf War.
The prompt was the familiar — too familiar — and now cliche threat: the whole Muslims world will now unify against the “Little” and “Great” Satan that would be Israel and the United States were it not that Moscow, Damascus, and Tehran have consistently and with enthusiasm proven themselves cruel and evil to the Believers fervent or moderate:
Unless directed by Moscow — the PLO was once its projects; Hezbollah and Hamas remain its clients; Assad and Khamenei remain its fellows in dictatorship — the “Jerusalem Move” may well divide Islam.
The “Palestinian Cause” isn’t what it was when cobbled together by the Soviet Union and pressed into the minds of the unknowing or leaders venal enough to inspire jealousy and leverage it into greater power for themselves — and what sadistic and tyrannical selves they proved to be.
The Palestinian popular charges of corruption leveled at Mahmoud Abbas and the Hamas leadership as well — and their reputations for growing wealthy off funding intended for Palestinian development — may also turn support away from old Soviet Moscow’s pernicious designs. (Note: the Soviet Union will have been dissolved 26 years this coming December 25).
For Noor Dahri and other devout Muslims knowledgeable in the interpretation of the Qur’an, the “Jerusalem Decision” may call for choosing between Moscow’s tired incitements and manipulations of the Muslim community and a renewed message in scripture.
No journalists in Gaza — no matter how senior — would even think of criticizing the leaders of Hamas, and in the Palestinian Authority (PA), criticism of any kind against President Mahmoud Abbas, or exposure of corruption in the PA, could result in the journalist’s arrest.
“We all known there’s terrible corruption in the PA,” a senior veteran journalist from Ramallah, the seat of the PA in the West Bank, told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “We know hundreds of stories about senior PA officials and about Abbas’ sons, but we can’t publish them or even talk openly about them.”
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — A gated community of villas with well-tended flower gardens near the West Bank town of Ramallah may help explain why Palestinians almost universally believe there is corruption in the government of President Mahmoud Abbas.
The secluded “Diplomatic Compound,” built for senior Palestinian Authority officials on subsidized land, is one of the symbols of what many Palestinians think is wrong with their leaders — that they are cut off from the people and award themselves special privileges.
I think there’s more to the story as Moscow and Tehran crowd Israel with military presence beyond Hezbollah alone. In essence, te Cold War’s tension is back in place, and this time — and at this time — it appears the United States has chosen to assert western power with a move certain to be opposed but with uncertain cohesion in the Russo-Arab and Russo-Iranian spheres of control and influence. What Washington may have just done with Jerusalem stands counter to Moscow’s assertions of power in Syria and Ukraine. We have more or less planted a flag forward and now will see some return from the Russo-Iranian axis.