Archive for July, 2013


Posted in ANALYSIS with tags on July 29, 2013 by aelag

Sadly, the Gibraltar Government’s comments that the events of the weekend have seen the Spanish Government resort to tactics first “engineered under the fascist dictatorship of General Franco in the 1960s” are totally accurate. Such an approach could not be envisaged being taken in any other European democracy. Indeed it would prompt a call in that country for a Parliamentary Committee to investigate such behaviour by an elected government. Parliamentary committee? In Spain? you must be out of your mind. A PC in Spain would take forever  and nobody would attend such a ridiculous, in their view, forum. I can only add that our neighbours, Spain,  is what  it is and  we  know that the Leopard……………………….

The Spanish police and sinister para military police , la Guardia Civil, are as disgusting  and fascist as when they were allowed all manner of ” liberties” during the Franco era.

The fact that they are in the E U does not make them truly Europeans upholding European values.


Gazan suffering treated as side show to Egyptian ‘main stage act’ – Opinion – Al Jazeera English

Posted in ANALYSIS, Current Affairs, THE WAY OF THE WORLD on July 19, 2013 by aelag

Gazan suffering treated as side show to Egyptian ‘main stage act’ – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.


Posted in ANALYSIS, analysis, Current Affairs, Democracy, Passing Comments, REFLECTIONS, THE WAY OF THE WORLD, UNDERSTANDING HISTORY on July 14, 2013 by aelag


Sunday 30 June 2013
Britain’s problems with a veto on Syria go right back to Yalta
It was then that the ‘big five’ were granted such power.
America’s Amazons at the UN have a habit of talking tough. Jean (Security Council actions are a “mugging”) Kirkpatrick, and Madeleine (the price of 500,000 dead Iraqi children “is worth it”) Albright, always packed a punch. And now we have Obama’s latest Boudicea, Susan Rice, pitching into George W. Bush’s old nemesis, the United Nations.
Where Bush threatened the UN with the irrelevance of the old League of Nations – without realising that the US had fatally weakened the League by refusing to join it – Rice has been condemning the UN Security Council’s inaction on Syria as “a moral and strategic disgrace”, without appreciating that it was Democrat President Franklin D. Roosevelt who insisted on the future UN’s veto powers during the great Allied World War II conference at Yalta.

The UN donkey is fed few carrots and beaten with many sticks, but there’s a growing habit of blaming the animal’s inherent weakness on the veto, which allows any permanent member to destroy the proposals of anyone else. Hence Russia’s veto over US and EU military action in Syria has somehow turned the veto itself into a Russian invention. Of course, Madame Rice’s outrage did not include any mention of the ‘moral and strategic disgrace’ of America’s 41 vetoes at the Security Council to ‘protect’ Israel and allow it to continue its occupation, land theft and colonisation of the Palestinian West Bank. Nope, it’s all about Syria – and those Russkies are to blame.

Now years ago, in Beirut, I picked up a battered, second-hand 1950 edition of Robert E. Sherwood’s Roosevelt and Hopkins: an intimate history and – only now that I’ve had it leather-bound by my favourite Lebanese book-binder – have I read it all, through the night, at one ‘go’, and what a cracker it is. Sherwood, who was the president’s speechwriter in World War II, used the private papers of Harry Hopkins, Roosevelt’s chief diplomatic advisor, to provide what remains one of the best accounts of the Big Three summit at Yalta, when Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin met to decide the future of the post-war world.

Today, we think of Yalta as the final sell-out of Poland’s independence to Stalin (Churchill had in fact already done this most dishonourable deal in Moscow) but in January 1945, Hitler’s armies were still fighting and the UN still existed only on paper. And it was the future UN, the voting powers of the Soviet Union and the veto in the proposed Security Council – the US, the UK, Russia and China (France was an afterthought) – which occupied an important part of the summit. And Churchill, the essential imperialist, was all for the power of veto at the Security Council.

“Indeed,” Sherwood writes, “the British had been heartily in favour of the veto as a means of preventing any encroachments on their own imperial interests. The United States had favoured it as a form of insurance against the commitment of the United Nations (Security) Council of American forces to action in all sorts of possible wars in all parts of the world.” In other words, Churchill did not want the UN sending military missions to India or other British ‘possessions’, while Roosevelt didn’t want US forces involved in unpopular – or unwinnable – wars on someone else’s behalf.

Roosevelt had “the memory of Woodrow Wilson always alive in him,” Sherwood wrote, which suggests that Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon did not when it came to Vietnam. The ‘concession’ to the Russians was a veto by any member of the Security Council against a proposal of sanctions – or even war – against that same member. In other words, one of the big five could veto a proposal by the others to invade it – and, by extension, its friends or allies. This is precisely the policy Putin has applied to Syria. The Russians accepted that no member of the Council could prevent debate about its own actions.

Stalin was much more interested in obtaining UN General Assembly votes for Ukraine and Byelorussia – both constituent nations within the Soviet Union; these two countries, Stalin had archly reminded Roosevelt, were greater in population and importance than other nations which would be represented at the UN. Roosevelt went waffling on about Brazil, because it was smaller than the USSR but larger than the United States. Stalin, Sherwood remarked, “began to betray signs of impatience and irritability”, so Hopkins scribbled a hasty note to Roosevelt: “Mr President, I think you should try to get this referred to Foreign ministers before there is trouble. Harry.”

Churchill rather smugly pointed out to Stalin and Roosevelt that Britain’s UN veto would also protect its claims to Hong Kong, to which Stalin cunningly replied: “Suppose that Egypt should raise the question of the return of the Suez Canal?” Three years after Stalin’s death, of course, Egypt did just that. On his way back from Yalta, Churchill met the new Syrian president, Shukri Quwatli, who wanted independence from France. The Syrians and the Lebanese, thought Churchill, would “be ready to fight before conceding” a privileged position for France. Now Britain — as well as France – talk of military action in Syria. But they’ve got the results of Yalta to contend with.


Posted in ANALYSIS, Current Affairs, Democracy, Passing Comments, REFLECTIONS, THE WAY OF THE WORLD on July 14, 2013 by aelag


Thursday 4 July 2013
When is a military coup not a military coup? When it happens in Egypt, apparently
Those Western leaders who are telling us Egypt is still on the path to “democracy” have to remember that Morsi was indeed elected in a real, Western-approved election
For the first time in the history of the world, a coup is not a coup. The army take over, depose and imprison the democratically elected president, suspend the constitution, arrest the usual suspects, close down television stations and mass their armour in the streets of the capital. But the word ‘coup’ does not – and cannot – cross the lips of the Blessed Barack Obama. Nor does the hopeless UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon dare to utter such an offensive word. It’s not as if Obama doesn’t know what’s going on. Snipers in Cairo killed 15 Egyptians this week from a rooftop of the very university in which Obama made his ‘reach-out’ speech to the Muslim world in 2009.
Is this reticence because millions of Egyptians demanded just such a coup – they didn’t call it that, of course – and thus became the first massed people in the world to demand a coup prior to the actual coup taking place? Is it because Obama fears that to acknowledge it’s a coup would force the US to impose sanctions on the most important Arab nation at peace with Israel? Or because the men who staged the coup might forever lose their 1.5 billion subvention from the US – rather than suffer a mere delay — if they were told they’d actually carried out a coup.

Now for the kind of historical memory that Obama would enjoy. In that dodgy 2009 speech in Cairo – in which he managed to refer to Palestinian “dislocation” rather than “dispossession” – Obama made the following remarkable comment, which puts the events in Egypt today into a rather interesting perspective. There were some leaders, he said, “who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others…you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.”

Obama did not say this in the aftermath of the coup-that-wasn’t. He uttered these very words in Egypt itself just over four years ago. And it pretty much sums up what Mohamed Morsi did wrong. He treated his Muslim Brotherhood mates as masters rather than servants of the people, showed no interest in protecting Egypt’s Christian minority, and then enraged the Egyptian army by attending a Brotherhood meeting at which Egyptians were asked to join the holy war in Syria to kill Shiites and overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

And there is one salient fact about the events of the last 48 hours in Egypt. No one is happier – no one more satisfied nor more conscious of the correctness of his own national struggle against ‘Islamists’ and ‘terrorists’ — than Assad. The West has been wetting itself to destroy Assad – but does absolutely nothing when the Egyptian army destroys its democratically-elected president for lining up with Assad’s armed Islamist opponents. The army called Morsi’s supporters “terrorists and fools”. Isn’t that just what Bashar calls his enemies? No wonder Assad told us yesterday that no one should use religion to gain power. Hollow laughter here — offstage, of course.

But this doesn’t let Obama off the hook. Those Western leaders who are gently telling us that Egypt is still on the path to “democracy”, that this is an “interim” period – like the ‘interim’ Egyptian government concocted by the military – and that millions of Egyptians support the coup that isn’t a coup, have to remember that Morsi was indeed elected in a real, Western-approved election. Sure, he won only 51 per cent — or 52 per cent — of the vote.

But did George W. Bush really win his first presidential election? Morsi certainly won a greater share of the popular vote than David Cameron. We can say that Morsi lost his mandate when he no longer honoured his majority vote by serving the majority of Egyptians. But does that mean that European armies must take over their countries whenever European prime ministers fall below 50 per cent in their public opinion polls? And by the way, are the Muslim Brotherhood to be allowed to participate in the next Egyptian presidential elections? Or will they be banned? And if they participate, what will happen if their candidate wins again?

Israel, however, must be pleased. It knows a coup when it sees one – and it’s now back playing its familiar role as the only ‘democracy’ in the Middle East, and with the kind of neighbours it understands: military rulers. And if Egypt’s wealthy military king-makers are getting a nifty $1.5 billion dollars a year from Washington – albeit postponed — they are certainly not going to tamper with their country’s peace treaty with Israel, however unpopular it remains with the people for whom it supposedly staged the coup-that-wasn’t. Stand by then for the first US delegation to visit the country which has suffered the coup-that-wasn’t. And you’ll know whether they believe there was a coup or not by the chaps they visit on their arrival in Cairo: the army, of course.

Risks of overthrowing democracy in Egypt | democracy, coup, morsi – Emad Mekay – Appeal-Democrat

Posted in ANALYSIS, Current Affairs, THE WAY OF THE WORLD on July 10, 2013 by aelag

Risks of overthrowing democracy in Egypt | democracy, coup, morsi – Emad Mekay – Appeal-Democrat.


Posted in ANALYSIS on July 8, 2013 by aelag

Sería una pena que este tesoro se pierda.

Sergio Barce

Alicia Sisso Raz, cuya familia materna es de Tetuán, pero originaria de Larache y Alcazarquivir, me ha enviado un maravilloso texto sobre la haketía que, en algunos pasajes, rezuma emoción y nostalgia por esa forma de hablar tan propia de los hebreos de Marruecos, y que escuchábamos en las calles de Larache. Me gusta cuando la define como “nuestra lengua de cariño”. Realmente los que no somos hebreos, la recordamos como una forma de hablar divertida y cariñosa, es verdad.

He titulado esta entrada al blog “A los hakitos de Marruecos” porque creo que, en el fondo, este texto de Alicia es eso, un hermoso homenaje a los “hakitos” de Marruecos. Y Alicia me ha pedido que haga mención a la fuente de la que extrae este artículo, y que puede ser muy interesante para los que tengan interés en indagar algo más en la haketía, así que la facilito:…

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The Ben Yehudas of Aramaic – Week’s End – Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper

Posted in Passing Comments, REFLECTIONS, UNDERSTANDING HISTORY on July 8, 2013 by aelag

The Ben Yehudas of Aramaic – Week's End – Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper.

Suroyo TV – Hawi furqoco bi Qameshlo

Posted in UNDERSTANDING HISTORY on July 8, 2013 by aelag

Suroyo TV – Hawi furqoco bi Qameshlo.

Confronting anti-black racism in the Arab world – Opinion – Al Jazeera English

Posted in ANALYSIS, Current Affairs, THE WAY OF THE WORLD on July 8, 2013 by aelag

Confronting anti-black racism in the Arab world – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.

Gibraltar, the Pillars of the Phoenicians

Posted in analysis, REFLECTIONS, UNDERSTANDING HISTORY on July 6, 2013 by aelag

Gibraltar, the Pillars of the Phoenicians.