Monthly Archives: November 2017

The Commander: Fawzi al-Qawuqji

Fawzi al-Qawuqji was supposed to have a promising future as a military man in the ranks of the Ottoman army.

Born in the Lebanese city of Tripoli in 1890, he trained to become an army officer at the War College in Istanbul, then fought during the First World War on the Iraqi and Palestinian fronts against the British forces.

But his career came to a halt with the subsequent collapse of the Ottoman army and the retreat to Anatolia. In the coming years, the young officer turned insurgent. He led the Syrian Revolt in 1925 against the French troops – despite accepting a military role at the Syrian Legion, a new army created by the French mandate.

In 1936, he led Palestinian soldiers against British troops. And in 1948 he famously led the Arab Liberation Army in the Arab-Israeli war of 1948.

The socialisation of the Egyptian economy in favour of the military clique accelerates

التعقيب على مشاريع الجيش و المزارع السمكية و اثرها على الاقتصاد .

Posted by Emad Elwakil on Sunday, 19 November 2017

Egypt’s military plunder the state’s assets to start new businesses, in a wide variety of sectors, which are both not profitable and drive existing, normally operating, private sector entrepreneurs into the wall.

 

The KRG now backs a united Iraq

Following my earlier post about Iraq coming together under Abadi, Nerchivan Barzani issued a declaration through a government spokesman supporting a united Iraq: “We respect the interpretation of the Supreme Court for Article 1 of the Constitution. At the same time, we affirm our belief that this should be the basis for initiating a comprehensive national dialogue to resolve disputes by applying all constitutional articles’.

Iraq coming back from the brink of annihilation is a geopolitical miracle, although the ground for this success story was laid in Astana and the snowballing cooperation by regional powers over Syria. Progress will continue to be made in unifying by Abadi, partly because of his new national credibility, and partly because everybody now wants a united Iraq and nobody is playing funny games behind the backs of others (not even – right now- in regard to Iraq at least – the US).

The collapse of the Hariri “mansion”

Madawi al-Rasheed writes about the uneasy post-civil war truce between the ‘mansions’ of the various sectarian leaders in Lebanon, in an allusion to the familial structures of medieval Italian city states, and the explosive potential of the mysterious departure to Saudi Arabia and subsequent resignation from the post of Lebanese Prime Minister of the Sunni leader, Saad el-Hariri.

“Today the famous central “Solidaire” area is a dying hub of finance and entertainment beyond the means of most Lebanese. The Solidaire Park is a legacy of the vision of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri (Saad’s father) who represented the Sunnis in Lebanon, as a dual national of both Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, while at the same time nurturing his Saudi Arabian interests. Under post-civil war reconstruction efforts, he emerged as a financial tycoon who, in the neoliberal vein, wiped out small traders and businessmen in favour of global capitalism.

With his assassination in 2005, his son Saad became the face of Sunni power in Lebanon, albeit that this power declined in the face of the rise of Hezbollah. Money earned in Saudi Arabia was translated into philanthropy in Lebanon. Patron-client relations became the core of the Sunni za’amat, leadership, like other sectarian leadership.

Saudi Arabia seems to have lost its historical importance in Lebanon as Iran consolidated its presence there. So the last card Saudi Arabia can play to snub Iran was to summon Saad Hariri, its man in Beirut, to Riyadh where he surprisingly and unexpectedly read his resignation letter on the same night that Mohammed bin Salman started his anti-corruption purge.” Read full article here.

Mass arrests: Replay of Egypt Sept. 1981 in Saudi Arabia

His tool is the new “anti-corruption committee” as Mohamed bin Salman (MbS) arrests Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, removing him from his post as leader of the National Guard; something he has been itching to do since launching the Yemen War for the sole purpose of consolidating his power over the country’s armed forces.

The new committee puts itself above and beyond the law, it is “exempt from laws, regulations, instructions, orders and decisions while the committee shall perform the following tasks: … the investigation issuance of arrest warrants, travel ban, disclosure and freezing of accounts and portfolios, tracking of funds, assets, and preventing their remittance or transfer by persons and entities who ever they might be. The committee has the right to take any precautionary measures it sees, until they are referred to the investigating authorities or judicial bodies”.

MbS also arrests 10 other princes, as well media moghuls Al-Walid Bin Talal (Rotana), Walid Al Brahim (MBC) and Saleh Kamel (ART), whilst freezing their assets. This puts MbS at the head of all of the Saudi media outlets. His arrest of Bakr bin Laden, and his recall of Saad el-Hariri from Lebanon (the Bin Laden group and Saudi Oger being the Kingdom’s two largest contractors)would appear to be part of MbS’s massive wealth grab. Hariri’s explanation that he is fear for his life in Lebanon, and cannot go back, is cover for the fact that he is under house arrest in Riyadh.

All this follows the arrests of many intellectuals, writers and activists as a pre-emptive measure to hinder potential opposition to new secularisation policies.  While this early phase of arrests was purely political, the quality of wealth grab clearly evident in this second phase points to failure of Riyadh’s Plan A in that regard: the invasion and absorption of Qatar. It would appear that all these arrests have been organised for MbS by operatives of his adviser and confidante, Mohamed bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi, whom he is relying on as an outside force unconnected to Saudi society and therefore not subject to any pressures to resist the crown Prince’s orders.

These events are an ominous replay of September 1981, when Anwar el-Sadat ordered a highly unpopular roundup of more than 1500 people, including many Islamic Jihad members in Egypt, but also the Coptic Pope and other Coptic clergy, intellectuals and activists of all ideological stripes, who were protesting the manner of his headlong peace deal with Israel.

Consuming the world: a hotter, wetter more violent US – and not so gradually

US Climate Science Report

Wuebbles, D.J., D.W. Fahey, K.A. Hibbard, D.J. Dokken, B.C. Stewart, and T.K. Maycock (eds.). U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA

The climate of the United States is strongly connected to the changing global climate. The statements below highlight past, current, and projected climate changes for the United States and the globe.

Global annually averaged surface air temperature has increased by about 1.8°F (1.0°C) over the last 115 years (1901–2016). This period is now the warmest in the history of modern civilization. The last few years have also seen record-breaking, climate-related weather extremes, and the last three years have been the warmest years on record for the globe. These trends are expected to continue over climate timescales.

This assessment concludes, based on extensive evidence, that it is extremely likely that human activi­ties, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.

In addition to warming, many other aspects of global climate are changing, primarily in response to hu­man activities. Thousands of studies conducted by researchers around the world have document­ed changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; diminishing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea levels; ocean acidification; and increasing atmospheric water vapor.

For example, global average sea level has risen by about 7–8 inches since 1900, with almost half (about 3 inches) of that rise occurring since 1993. Human-caused climate change has made a substan­tial contribution to this rise since 1900, contributing to a rate of rise that is greater than during any preceding century in at least 2,800 years. Global sea level rise has already affected the United States; the incidence of daily tidal flooding is accelerating in more than 25 Atlantic and Gulf Coast cities.

Global average sea levels are expected to continue to rise—by at least several inches in the next 15 years and by 1–4 feet by 2100. A rise of as much as 8 feet by 2100 cannot be ruled out. Sea level rise will be higher than the global average on the East and Gulf Coasts of the United States.

Changes in the characteristics of extreme events are particularly important for human safety, infrastruc­ture, agriculture, water quality and quantity, and natural ecosystems. Heavy rainfall is increasing in intensity and frequency across the United States and globally and is expected to continue to in­crease. The largest observed changes in the United States have occurred in the Northeast.