Δευτέρα, 22 Ιανουαρίου 2018

The Times History of the World

Απίθανο βιβλίο, τεράστιο και πολύ βαρύ. Κάθε σελίδα είναι είτε ένας μεγάλος χάρτης με μικρά κείμενα, είτε ένα μεγάλο κειμενο με μικρούς χάρτες. Δεν υπάρχει ΚΑΜΙΑ σελίδα χωρίς χάρτες. Το χαρτί είναι πολυτελείας και οι χάρτες τρομεροί. Κάθε ιστορική περίοδος περιγραφεται συνοπτικά σε λίγες σελίδες.

Καινούργιο κάνει περίπου 100 λίρες (συν μεταφορικά), και μεταχειρισμένο 30 περίπου λίρες συν μεταφορικά. Πραγματικά αξίζει τα λεφτά του.

The Times History of the World”
https://www.amazon.co.uk/TIMES-HISTORY-WORLD-HISTORICAL-1999-05-03/dp/B01FGN3PGQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1516277556&sr=8-1&keywords=the+times+history+of+the+world+the+ultimate+work+of+historical+reference


Πέμπτη, 4 Ιανουαρίου 2018

Τουρκία - Σουδάν (Ιανουάριος 2018)

Μεγάλη ανησυχία έχει προκαλέσει στην Αίγυπτο, την Σαουδική Αραβία και τα Ηνωμένα Αραβικά Εμιράτα η στρατιωτική συνεργασία Τουρκίας-Σουδάν. Στο Σουδάν κυβερνά η Μουσουλμανική Αδελφότητα, και μάλλον η Τουρκία θα φτιάξει εκεί την τρίτη στρατιωτική της βάση στο εξωτερικό, και με την βάση της στην Σομαλία θα έχει μεγάλη επιρροή στην Κόκκινη Θάλασσα.

Οι τρεις χώρες φοβούνται ότι η Τουρκία με αυτήν την βάση θα υποστηρίζει ακόμη περισσότερο την Μουσουλμανική Αδελφότητα στην Αίγυπτο, τους Houthis στην Υεμένη, και το Κατάρ στον Περσικό Κόλπο.


Erdogan's Ottoman dream causes storm in Red Sea”, Ιανουάριος 2018
The Gulf-Egypt axis now has another reason to question Turkey's ambitions in the region: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the first leg of his late-December Africa tour, went to Sudan to ask if Ankara could lease Suakin Island. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir agreed to Erdogan’s request.
Erdogan adamantly rejects claims that Turkey is scheming to build a military base at Suakin. But the island, which once served as an Ottoman forward outpost in the Red Sea, could easily assume military features that would provide Turkey with a third military base abroad, in addition to those in Qatar and Somalia.
During his visit to Sudan, Erdogan signed 13 agreements covering a new airport for the capital Khartoum, a free-trade zone in Port Sudan, a port and shipyards for military and civilian ships in the Red Sea, grain silos at various locations, a university, a hospital and power stations. The countries are targeting an annual trade volume between them of $10 billion, up from the current $500 million.
The two countries induced panic in the Arab world when, in addition to Turkey gaining temporary control of Suakin Island, the two countries' chiefs of staff agreed to develop military cooperation. While explaining why he is paying so much attention to this island that the Sudanese call “the gate to Africa,” Erdogan used the metaphor of “reincarnation,” which reinvigorated the fear of Turks in the region.
Suakin lost its stature and fell into ruin when Port Sudan was built 30 miles to the north between 1905 and 1909. But Erdogan accused Western countries of turning Suakin into a “ghost island.”
“They razed it to the ground. … This is in their nature,” Erdogan said Dec. 25 during a speech at Khartoum University. “Your razing of this place is like us shaving our beards. We will rebuild and reconstruct it in such a way that, like a shaved beard, it will regrow much more abundant."
Erdogan has this plan in mind: If the island is handed over to Turkey, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism will restore the Ottoman relics there, including a 300-room caravanserai, or inn. TIKA has been operating on the island since 2011 and already has restored the Hanafi and Shafi mosques. When the entire restoration project is completed, Turkish citizens traveling to Mecca for the Islamic pilgrimage of umrah will be able to fly to Sudan to visit historical sites and then go to Jeddah by boat, thus reanimating an Ottoman base and the ancient umrah route.
Whether the island will become a military base is open to speculation, but the port project for military and civilian ships and the accord of military cooperation are enough to raise eyebrows, especially in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Egypt fears that Sudan, empowered by Turkish support, might become even more strident in its claim to the disputed Halayeb triangle on the Red Sea coast. Egypt had posted soldiers at Halayeb in the 1990s to block Sudanese aspirations. Moreover, Egypt has been upset with Sudan's support of Ethiopia in an argument over the Renaissance Dam on the NileEgyptians fear that a Turkish military alliance with Sudan could actually upset the power balance in the region.
Egypt is also worried about a powerful country like Turkey, which supports the Muslim Brotherhood, having direct access to a neighboring country. Egypt exiled leaders of the Sunni Islamist organization, which supported the previous administration.
Egyptian journalist Imadeddin Adib wrote about Egypt’s concerns in his Al Watan column Dec. 27: “Bashir [al-Assad] is playing with fire in return for dollars. Sudan — with its Turkey madness, with Iranian plots and the Ethiopian scheme to deny water to Egypt, and Qatar’s financial gimmicks — is violating geographic and historic realities against Egypt. Sudan is offering its ports and borders for dispatching of guns and terrorists to Egypt and serving the goals of the Qatar-Turkey alliance to restore the Muslim Brotherhood to power.”
Saudis fear that a base in Sudan controlled by Turkey — which is cooperating with Iran — could become a springboard of support for the Qatar- and Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Sudan, despite its promise to remain neutral, gives the impression that it is supporting Qatar in its conflict with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. A partnership with Turkey is considered a concrete indicator of the change in Sudan’s axis.
Arab media gave wide coverage to statements that the 13 agreements between Sudan and Turkey — worth $650 million — were actually financed by Qatar. In November, Qatar had announced plans to develop a port with Sudan on the Red Sea.
Simultaneously with Erdogan’s Africa tour, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim went to Saudi Arabia to try to balance the developments in the Red Sea and dispel concerns. But it didn’t work. Although the Saudi leadership kept silent, comments in the media they control revealed their concerns.
Mohammed Abu Talib, a writer for Saudi newspaper Okaz, reminded readers that Sudan was saved from sanctions thanks to the Saudis. He accused Sudan of serving Turkey’s expansion aspirations.
Turkey is blatantly seeking expansion in the region and using its influence, especially against Egypt and Gulf countries. The most dangerous aspect of this visit was handing over to Erdogan Suakin Island, which faces Jeddah and which he sees as the symbol of the Ottoman Empire,” Abu Talib wrote.
The Gulf News commented, “Iran can use the new Turkish base in Sudan to ship more weapons to Houthis. Turkey, by using the new military facility, could send more soldiers to Qatar or intervene more in Egypt by manipulating the Muslim Brotherhood. This no doubt will worry Jordan as much as Egypt. With Turkish and Sudanese provocations, Sudanese aspirations for Halayeb [the disputed area] can be reignited.”
Egyptian daily Al Akhbar also wrote that Sudanese deals with Turkey signal changes in Sudan's axis in a way that will worry regional countries.
The website of Al Arabia TV carried an incendiary comment that said, “The Ottoman presence in Suakin is associated with massacres of Sudanese."
The last thing Arabs want is to witness a resurrection of Ottoman heritage on Red Sea shores. Arabs already take Erdogan’s inflammatory speeches very seriously.
How justified are their concerns? Is there really a resurrection of Ottomans? Erdogan has established a pattern of loudly recalling Ottoman forefathers, claiming Ottoman relics and referring to the Ottoman heritage when speaking about the Middle East and Africa. He sees Africa as a region of opportunities and believes that he has more right than anybody else to be there. “More dangerous than a shark smelling blood are the imperialists who smell oil,” Erdogan said during his Sudan visit, while repeating that the Ottomans had no imperialist past.
Erdogan also believes he can compensate in Africa for isolation elsewhere. It is true that this is the region where Turkey’s image has eroded the least. His most recent tour to Sudan, Chad and Tunisia was his fifth visit to Africa since he became president in 2014. He also signed a military accord with Tunisia to train Tunisian soldiers in Turkey and also to invest in the defense field.
Since Turkey declared 2005 "The Year of Africa,” it increased its number of embassies in the continent from 12 to 38. It has a sizable military presence in Somalia, where it just opened a base in September. The base, which cost about $50 million to build, now houses 200 Turkish troops and has a military academy that will train Somali officers.
Turkey also sent its first military detachment to a base near Qatar's capital of Doha in June. So far, there are no more than 100 soldiers at a base that can accommodate 5,000. Troop strength is expected to reach 3,000.
In sum, Erdogan's approach to building African relations by bringing up history and religion is the core concern for Arabs. Turkey could benefit more by basing its relations on joint interests instead of reviving unpleasant past experiences. Erdogan is making the mistake of becoming a party to regional conflicts as he tries to build new bridges in the region. Also, he prefers to forge personal relations instead of solid, institutional relations, making one wonder about the sustainability of Turkey’s ambitious Africa plans.



Η Ιρανική Άνοιξη

Αυτός είναι ο χάρτης της Αραβικής Άνοιξης. Στις χωρες που ανατράπηκαν τα φιλοΣαουδαραβικά καθεστώτα (Τυνησία, Αίγυπτος) το Ιράν έπαιξε καθοριστικό ρόλο μαζί με το Κατάρ.

Χάρτης Αραβική Άνοιξη 2011




Και φυσικά μαζί με το Σουδάν, το Ιράν και το Κατάρ, καθοριστικό ρόλο έπαιξε και η Μουσουλμανική Αδελφότητα της Αιγύπτου, η οποία αποτελεί τον πυρήνα της Σουνιτικής Μουσουλμανικής Αδελφότητας, από την δεκαετία του 1920 ακόμα, όταν την δημιούργησαν οι Ναζί και οι Φασίστες για να χτυπήσουν τους Βρετανούς που ήλεγχαν την Αίγυπτο. Ιδρυτής ήταν ο Αιγύπτιος θαυμαστής του Χίτλερ Hassan al Banna (1928). Και όπως έχω ξαναγράψει το 1936-1939 ο Μουσολίνι και ο Χίτλερ, ενδεχομένως και με την βοήθεια του Στάλιν, οργάνωσαν την Αραβική Άνοιξη της Παλαιστίνης, την οποία είχαν υπό τον έλεγχο τους οι Βρετανοί. Βλέπε “Η Συμμαχία του Χίτλερ με την Μουσουλμανική Αδελφότητα”.

Βλέπε και “1936-1939 Arab Revolt in Palestine”

Όπως βλέπετε στον χάρτη της Αραβικής Άνοιξης, στην χώρα που καταπνίγηκε η Αραβική Άνοιξη, το Μπαχρέιν, την Άνοιξη έκαναν οι Ιρανοί. Στις τρεις χώρες που έγινε εμφύλιος, Λιβύη, Υεμένη και Συρία, το Ιράν πήρε μέρος ως επιτιθέμενο στις δύο (Λιβύη, Υεμένη), ενώ εναντίον του Ιράν ήταν μόνο η μία (Συρία).

Χάρτης Αραβική Άνοιξη



Στις δύο χώρες που δέχτηκαν μεταρρυθμίσεις για να μην ξεσηκωθεί η Μουσουλμανική Αδελφότητα, το Μαρόκο και την Ιορδανία, το Ιράν πήρε μέρος και στις δύο ως επιτιθέμενο, αφού και οι δύο ήταν σύμμαχοι των Σαουδαράβων.

Από όλες τις χώρες που είχαν Αραβική Άνοιξη, μόνο σε μία ήταν το Ιράν αμυνόμενο, στην Συρία. Σε όλες τις άλλες χώρες το Ιράν πήρε μέρος μαζί με το Κατάρ, το Σουδάν και την Μουσουλμανική Αδελφότητα ως επιτιθέμενο.

Οι Σαουδάραβες έχασαν τους συμμάχους τους στην  Αίγυπτο, στην Τυνησία και στην Υεμένη, ή είδαν τους συμμάχους τους να αποδυναμώνονται (Ιορδανία, Μαρόκο, Μπαχρέιν). Ποιος ωφελήθηκε λοιπόν από την Αραβική Άνοιξη? Η Σαουδική Αραβία ή το Ιράν? Οι Σαουδάραβες ήταν αμυνόμενοι σε όλες τις χώρες που έγινε Αραβική Άνοιξη, με την εξαίρεση της Συρίας όπου ήταν οι επιτιθέμενοι.

Η Χουριέτ, όπως και οι Έλληνες δημοσιογράφοι, γράφει ότι ο Ντόναλντ Τράμπ κάνει Αραβική Άνοιξη στο Ιράν, και γράφει η Χουριέτ ότι ο Τραμπ κάνει λάθος που θεωρεί τους Ιρανούς κουτούς. Γιατί, συνεχίζει το άρθρο, οι Ιρανοί θυμούνται το πραξικόπημα που έγινε με την υποστήριξη των Βρετανών και των Αμερικανών το 1953 εναντίον του Μόζαντεκ (φιλοσοβιετιός), ο οποίος ήθελε να κρατικοποιήσει τις δυτικές εταιρείες ενέργειας στο Ιράν. Σαν να διαβάζεις Χρυσή Αυγή και ΚΚΕ δεν είναι η Χουριέτ?

Από τότε που τα βρήκαν η Τουρκία και το Ιράν δεν ξέρεις αν διαβάζεις τους Σιίτες της Χρυσής Αυγής ή τους Τουρκαρέους του ΚΚΕ. Για το άρθρο της Χουριέτ βλέπε Why is the US wrong and what is really happening in Iran?”, Ιανουάριος 2017

Αυτό που λέει βέβαια η Χουριέτ για το πραξικόπημα του 1953 στο Ιράν ισχύει, μόνο που τότε το στρατιωτικό καθεστώς του Ιράν ήταν κώλος και βρακί με το ΝΑΤΟ, αφού το Ιράν ήταν ο βασικός σύμμαχος του ΝΑΤΟ στον Περσικό. Ενώ τώρα το στρατιωτικό καθεστώς του Ιράν εξοπλίζεται από την Ρωσία και την Κίνα, και εκπαιδεύει στην τρομοκρατία την Χεζμπολάχ, η οποία μέχρι και τον πόλεμο της Συρίας, εκπαίδευε στην τρομοκρατία την Al Qaeda, σε μία ανίερη συμμαχία Σουνιτών-Σιιτών, εναντίον των ΗΠΑ στο Αφγανιστάν, και εναντίον της Γαλλίας στην Βόρεια Αφρική. Βλέπε “Οι Αρχιτέκτονες της Al-Qaeda και του ISIS

Το άρθρο της Χουριέτ όμως γράφει και κάτι άλλο πολύ σημαντικό, το οποίο φυσικά κανένας Έλληνας δημοσιογράφος δεν θα αναφέρει. Οι διαμαρτυρίες στο Ιράν, γράφει το άρθρο, δίνουν την ευκαιρία στον πρόεδρο του Ιράν τον Ρουχανί, να βάλει στο περιθώριο τους πιο σκληρούς Ισλαμιστές. Σκέφτείτε ότι η Σαουδική Αραβία προσπαθεί λίγο να εκμοντερνιστεί. Βλέπετε πόσο δύσκολο είναι για τους αριστερούς, τους Αδελφούς Μουσουλμάνους, τις φεμινίστριες και τους λοιπούς δικαιωματιστές στην Ευρώπη και τις ΗΠΑ να υποστηστηρίζουν την Μουσουλμανική Αδελφότητα λόγων των σκληρών Ισλαμικών θέσεων της.

Οι Ιρανοί, γράφει η Χουριέτ, θα χρησιμοποιήσουν τις διαμαρτυρίες για να κάνουν κάποιες μεταρρυθμίσεις, που σημαίνει ότι θα διευκολύνουν και τους συμμάχους τους στην Ευρώπη, την Κίνα και τις ΗΠΑ. Να πω εγώ ότι ήδη τον προηγούμενο μήνα οι Ιρανοί είπαν ότι οι γυναίκες δεν θα φυλακίζονται αν δεν τηρούν τον Ισλαμικό κώδικα ενδυμασίας, μαντίλες κλπ. Βλέπε Al Monitor “Iranian women no longer face jail for dress code violations”, Δεκέμβριος 2017

Αυτό όμως δεν είναι Ιρανική Άνοιξη. Ούτε στην Ουκρανία ήταν Άνοιξη. Οι Ουκρανοί ξεσηκώθηκαν εναντίον των Ρώσων επειδή οι Ρώσοι προσπάθησαν να τους παρακάμψουν με τους Nord Stream και South Stream. Εκτός από τα 2 δις δολάρια που θα χάσουν οι Ουκρανοί από προμήθειες για το Ρωσικό αέριο που στέλνουν στην Ευρώπη μέσω Ουκρανίας, θα χάσουν και το γεωπολιτικό τους εκτόπισμα, αφού δεν θα τους χρειάζονται πλέον οι Ευρωπαίοι και οι Ρώσοι. Αυτός είναι ο λόγος που ξεσηκώθηκαν οι Ουκρανοί εναντίον των Ρώσων, και απειλούν ότι θα φέρνουν αέριο στην Ευρώπη μέσω Τουρκίας και Γεωργίας από την Μέση Ανατολή και την Κασπία. Βλέπε “White Stream Pipeline”

Χάρτης White Stream Pipeline



Αν οι Αμερικανοί πάνε σε πόλεμο με το Ιράν θα κάνουν αυτό που έκαναν στο Ιράκ. Στο Ιράκ οι Αμερικανοί χτύπησαν την Σουνιτική μειοψηφία του Σαντάμ, η οποία καταπίεζε τους Σιίτες του Ιράκ, αλλά και τους Κούρδους του Ιράκ. Οι ΗΠΑ θεωρούσαν τους Κούρδους και τους Άραβες Σιίτες του Ιράκ φυσικούς τους συμμάχους.

Οι Αμερικανοί με τους Ιρανούς συνεργάστηκαν στενά, και ακόμη συνεργάζονται στο Ιράκ, εναντίον του ISIS, των ανθρώπων του Σαντάμ δηλαδή. Ακόμη και τώρα, με τον Τραμπ στην εξουσία, οι Αμερικανοί συνεργάζονται με το Ιράν στο Ιράκ εναντίον του κοινού εχθρού τους, που δεν είναι άλλος από τους Σουνίτες του Ιράκ, αλλά σκοτώνονται και μεταξύ τους για το ποιος θα έχει μεγαλύτερη επιρροή στους Σιίτες του Ιράκ και στους Κούρδους του Ιράκ, για το ποιος δηλαδή θα ελέγχει το Ιράκ. Για το αν θα το ελέγχουν οι ΗΠΑ, ή για το αν θα το ελέγχει το Ιράν και κατ’ επέκταση η Κίνα.

Ο Τραμπ πολύ πριν την προεκλογική του εκστρατεία έλεγε ότι οι ΗΠΑ έδωσαν δισεκατομμύρια (περίπου 1 τρις) στο Ιράκ, και τον έλεγχο πήρε τελικά η Κίνα.

Εικόνα Τουιτ Τραμπ





Ακόμη και στα σύνορα Λιβάνου-Συρίας οι Ιρανοί και οι ΗΠΑ συνεργάζονται εναντίον του ISIS. Βλέπε Newsweek U.S. AND IRAN WORK TOGETHER AGAINST ISIS, THIS TIME IN LEBANON”, Αύγουστος 2017

Ο λόγος που οι Ιρανοί δεν συνεργάστηκαν με τους Αμερικανούς εναντίον του ISIS στην Συρία, ήταν φυσικά ότι ο ISIS στην Συρία υποστηριζόταν από τον Άσαντ, προκειμένου να χτυπάει στην Συρία την Μουσουλμανική Αδελφότητα, η οποία υποστηριζόταν από την Τουρκία και το Κατάρ, και είχε και τις ευλογίες της Γαλλίας, της Βρετανίας και των ΗΠΑ. Και φυσικά ο ISIS χτυπούσε και τους Κούρδους της Συρίας, κάτι θετικό για την Τουρκία, και δημιουργούσε διχόνοια ανάμεσα στην Τουρκία και τις ΗΠΑ σε σχέση με τον ISIS και τους Κούρδους.

Αν θέλεις να κάνεις Ιρανική Άνοιξη χρησιμοποιείς τους Κούρδους και τους Αζέρους του Ιράν, οι οποίοι αποτελούν το 30% περίπου του πληθυσμού του Ιράν. Οι Αζέροι είναι Σιίτες σοσιαλιστές, και οι Ιρανοί ξεσηκώνουν στο Αζερμπαϊτζάν τους Ισλαμιστές, και οι Αζέροι συνεργάζονται με τους Ισραηλινούς εναντίον του Ιράν. Οι Αζέροι δίνουν πετρέλαιο στο Ισραήλ και οι Ισραηλινοί δίνουν όλα στους Αζέρους. Αν και τώρα τα βρήκαν κάπως οι Ιρανοί με τους Αζέρους, και οι Ισραηλινοί προσέγγισαν τον μεγάλο αντίπαλο των Αζέρων, την Αρμενία.

 Και υπάρχει στο Ιράν και το 6% των Lurs, το 2% των Baloch και το 2% των Αράβων του Ιράν.

Εικόνα Demographics of Iran



Βλέπετε μάλιστα ότι ολόκληρο το βορειοδυτικό τμήμα του Ιράν αποτελείται από Αζέρους (πράσινο) και από Κούρδους (καφέ), και σε έναν ενδεχόμενο παγκόσμιο πόλεμο, αν η Τουρκία είναι αντίπαλος των ΗΠΑ, οι ΗΠΑ θα μπορούσαν να προσπαθήσουν να ενώσουν το Κουρδιστάν με το Αζερμπαϊτζάν, και την Κασπία Θάλασσα και την Μεσόγειο. Όταν λέω οι ΗΠΑ εννοώ και οι Βρετανοί και οι Γάλλοι αν είναι με τους Αμερικανούς, γιατί η Ανατολική Μεσόγειος ενδιαφέρει πολύ περισσότερο τους Βρετανούς, τους Γάλλους και τους Ιταλούς, παρά τους Αμερικανούς, τους οποίους ενδιαφέρει πολύ περισσότερο ο Ειρηνικός και ο Ινδικός Ωκεανός παρά η Μεσόγειος.

Τέλος πάντων, με τα σημερινά δεδομένα αυτές οι εξεγέρσεις ενισχύουν τον Ρουχανί έναντι των σκληρών Ισλαμιστών, άσχετα αν ο Τραμπ θέλει να το πιστωθεί για να ενισχύσει το προφίλ του στις ΗΠΑ. Οι Ιρανοί έχουν κλείσει τα social media, και αυτό είναι μεγάλο κέρδος και για τον Ρουχανί και για τους αντιπάλους του σκληρούς Ισλαμιστές, και ανά πάσα στιγμή το επιθυμούν οι Φρουροί της Επαναστάσεως μπορούν να κάνουν μία πολύ πιο σκληρή χούντα.

Να πω ότι οι Ισραηλινοί είχαν φτάσει πριν 3 χρόνια πολύ κοντά στο να δολοφονήσουν τον αρχηγό των Φρουρών της Επαναστάσεως για τις εκτός Ιράν επιχειρήσεις, τον υπεύθυνο δηλαδή για την τρομοκρατία, τα ναρκωτικά, την υποστήριξη οργανώσεων στο εξωτερικό κλπ, (Στρατηγόw Qassem Soleimani), αλλά τους είχαν εμποδίσει οι ΗΠΑ. Φαντάζομαι για να μην υπάρξει όξυνση και δημιουργηθεί πρόβλημα στην συνεργασία ΗΠΑ-Ιράν στο Ιράκ εναντίον του ISIS. Τώρα όμως οι ΗΠΑ έδωσαν στους Ισραηλινούς το πράσινο φως προκειμένου να δολοφονήσουν τον Στρατηγό Soleimani αν καταφέρουν να τον εντοπίσουν ξανά. Βλέπε Haaretz “U.S. Gives Israel Green Light to Assassinate Iranian General Soleimani

Άρθρα

Why is the US wrong and what is really happening in Iran?”, Ιανουάριος 2017
Does U.S. President Donald Trump think Iranians are fools with goldfish memories, who cannot remember the CIA-sponsored coup in their country in 1953?
Does he also think other governments in this ancient part of the world were not alarmed by Trump’s tweet voicing support for Iranian protesters, perhaps with the exception of Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United Arab Emirates?
It is not necessarily because these governments support the regime of mullahs in Iran. And they do not necessarily support Iran’s military involvement in civil unrest in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, or reported weapons support to groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Hashd al-Shaabi.
No. They are worried that the U.S. policy of supporting military coups in Latin America and the Middle East from the 1950s to the 1980s may well be back with Trump, and the same thing may happen to their governments. They will therefore be more likely to take harsh measures to crush every democratic protest in their country, justified by Trump’s open intervention in Iranian affairs.
Perhaps Trump wants to satisfy the most aggressive wing of the Republicans in Congress by referring to the Iran Democracy Act of 2003. But public encouragement of protesters by the U.S. president (and also by the Israeli intelligence minister) only contributes to them ultimately being denounced in Iran as “foreign agents.” It will only damage the demonstrations against price hikes and unemployment at a time when huge budgets are given to the Revolutionary Guards to fight in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Protesters may also be exhausted by living under the strict rules of a theocratic regime in which women are granted little place.
Responsible Americans like Philip Gordon, who was the Middle East coordinator of former U.S. President Barack Obama, have voiced objections to Trump’s words. “High-profile public support from the U.S. government will do more harm than good,” Gordon wrote for the New York Times on Dec. 30, adding that it would be better for Trump to “keep quiet and do nothing.”
Iran was also the stage of widespread protests in 2009 over allegations of irregularities in the re-election of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was closely in line with the country’s “Supreme” religious leader Ali Khamenei. The election of Hassan Rouhani in 2013, with his pledge of ending Iran’s isolation, led to the nuclear deal within the U.N. system, with the approval of the U.S. under Obama.
Trump and his anti-Iran partners in the Middle East may be hoping that protesters are crushed with maximum force, thus triggering more antagonism. But Rouhani is using the protests as an opportunity to weaken Khamenei and his use of the Revolutionary Guards as a foreign policy tool, thus undermining Rouhani’s efforts to secure more integration with the world. That is why he has praised Iranians’ “right to protest,” unlike Khamenei, and says they should see this as an opportunity to reform the system in Iran. It is state TV and state-run agencies – generally under Rouhani’s control - that are extensively reporting the widespread protests, which could certainly prompt envy for opposition groups around the world, including in Turkey.
For Rouhani, the protests could be presenting an opportunity to curb the hardliners in the regime – if of course Trump permits it and restrains himself from commenting too much. Khamenei on the one side (representing the hardliners of the Islamic regime) and Trump on the other side may well be the two biggest obstacles to Iranians who want to live and work in a freer country.
Let me also just add a footnote about the 1953 coup: It was staged by Shah Reza Pahlavi in cooperation with the CIA and the British intelligence agency MI6 in order to protect his chair against Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, who had wanted to nationalize Iran’s oil resources. Pahlavi ended up giving most of Iran’s oil riches to U.S. and U.K. companies, ruling his country under an oppressive, absolutist regime whose misdeeds were ignored by the West. His rule eventually came to an end with the Islamic Revolution in 1979, after which he was forced to escape to the U.S. and died in exile in Egypt the next year.

U.S. AND IRAN WORK TOGETHER AGAINST ISIS, THIS TIME IN LEBANON”, Αύγουστος 2017
Updated | The U.S. and Iran, rival powers in Middle Eastern affairs, are once again working together to combat the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) via local allies, this time in the barrens of the Lebanese-Syrian border. Their unofficial cooperation follows a previous, reluctant understanding in Iraq.
In the latest grouping, the U.S.-backed Lebanese army is set to storm ISIS outposts tucked in the mountains of Ras Baalbek that separate Lebanon from Syria, where a civil war between the government and rebels has allowed jihadists and other militants to threaten regional security. Iran has been a major supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his armed forces, bolstering their ranks with its Lebanese ally, Shiite Muslim militant movement Hezbollah. While considered a terrorist organization by the U.S., Hezbollah has proven an effective force against fighters with both ISIS and Al-Qaeda, and appears poised to join the fight. As a final showdown looms, Lebanon has prepared for a deadly confrontation.
The Lebanese army has repeatedly denied that Hezbollah would participate in the operation. The force reportedly received about $80 million in equipment and training from the U.S. last year, boosting the total in the past decade to nearly $1 billion. The U.S. has been extremely critical of Hezbollah's participation in the Lebanese government, where the group forms one of the largest political parties. President Donald Trump referred to Hezbollah as a "menace" during a press conference late last month with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, another political opponent of Hezbollah. 
Hezbollah, however, has already made a sizable contribution to the upcoming offensive against ISIS. Late last month, the Lebanese fighters teamed up with the Syrian military to launch a dual assault on militants loyal to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, formerly known as the Nusra Front of Al-Qaeda, holed up near the border village of Arsal. The roughly week-long operation ended with a ceasefire and total expulsion of the jihadists into rebel-held territory in northwestern Syria. Following the victory, Hariri said Hezbollah "has accomplished something and what's important is the result," according to LBC News.
In a televised address to his supporters, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said Friday his group would hand over parts of Arsal its fighters were stationed in at the army's request and thanked allies Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Assad and Iran for their support in the battle. Contradicting statements from the Lebanese army and Hariri, Nasrallah said his forces would begin a parallel offensive against ISIS from the Syrian side of the border, using the Arabic-language acronym for the group, Daesh.
"The Lebanese army will be responsible for the operation against Daesh, but the request for American aid is an insult to the Lebanese army," Nasrallah said, according to Lebanon's El Nashra.
"We in Hezbollah are at the service of the Lebanese army while on Lebanese territory," he added. "Meanwhile, Hezbollah and the Syrian army will open a Syrian front against Daesh. Its timing is in the hands of the Lebanese army, and we are ready."
The alignment of U.S. and Iranian tactical interests in Lebanon mimics that in Iraq, where both countries devoted extensive resources to battling ISIS despite significant political differences. After evolving out of Al-Qaeda in Iraq's insurgency against the U.S. military and local Shiite Muslims, ISIS managed to take nearly half the country before spreading into neighboring Syria. The U.S. responded by forming an international coalition to launch airstrikes against the jihadists while at the same time supporting the Iraqi military and Kurdish forces on the ground. Iran stepped in by backing a number of majority-Shiite Muslim militias known collectively as the Popular Mobilization Forces.
As in Lebanon, the sectarian nature of the forces involved in Iraq has sparked concerns as to how the country will be governed post-conflict. The central government in Baghdad continues to hold political power, but recognition of the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces as an official military wing of the state and Kurdish calls for independence in the north have given rise to uncertainties about the nation's stability after more than 14 years of consecutive warfare.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly suggested Iran and the U.S. were cooperating in Lebanon. The two nations reject each other's roles, but their allies are unofficially fighting together against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS).

Iranian women no longer face jail for dress code violations”, Δεκέμβριος 2017
One of the more notorious images that often comes out of Iran is that of chador-clad women with police armbands and male police officers rounding up loosely veiled, and often young, women into minivans to be taken to police stations. These officers, known as Gasht-e Ershad, or Guidance Patrol, roam busy avenues, especially during the summer, and are often seen harassing young couples or groups of women. Now, according to statements by Iranian officials, these scenes are to be no more.
On Dec. 27, Brig. Gen. Hossein Rahimi, head of Greater Tehran police, said, “According to the commander of the NAJA [Law Enforcement Force of the Islamic Republic of Iran], those who do not observe Islamic values and have negligence in this area will no longer be taken to detention centers, a legal case will not be made for them and we will not send them to court; rather, education classes to reform their behavior will be offered.”
Instead of rounding up young women, it appears Iranian police will be sending those who they deem are insufficiently following Islamic norms to a sort of traffic school for hijab and other Islamic values. Rahimi said 121 of these education classes have been held this year, with 7,900 in attendance.
While some Western media outlets focus on the aspect of veiling, it is possible that the term “Islamic values” will be more wide-reaching, as Tehran police are attempting to change their approach toward enforcement of social and religious values. “In addition to promoting security, the police will also be taking social measures to reform the behavior of citizens and reduce infractions and crimes,” Rahimi said. He added that 100 advisory centers have been set up in the capital and, in the last nine months, 62,000 cases were resolved before ever going to court.
The cases mentioned above are likely for minor crimes. Rahimi made clear that the police would not have a soft approach toward more serious crimes. “I should say that under no conditions will we compromise with people who disturb society,” he said.
Rahimi was appointed in August, and it seems clear that authorities in Tehran are trying a new approach to differentiate between the breaking of religious norms and the more serious cases of crime taking place in one of the largest capitals in the world. On Dec. 10, Mohammad Reza Yazdi, commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), announced the formation of a special unit within the IRGC and Basij Organization, which operates under the IRGC. According to Yazdi, this special unit, consisting of IRGC and Basij members, would be assigned to cases of theft and to small-time drug dealers and users, who authorities call “thugs.”
The news about a new approach toward the issue of veiling received a lukewarm response by Iranian media and was largely ignored by conservative media. Reformist Shargh Daily asked whether the statements by Rahimi will usher forth the “end of the Guidance Patrol?” The article itself did not offer a prediction on the question but rather printed Rahimi’s

U.S. Gives Israel Green Light to Assassinate Iranian General Soleimani”



Παρασκευή, 29 Δεκεμβρίου 2017

Η Εξέγερση Εναντίον του Πάπα


Εξέγερση στο εσωτερικό της Καθολικής Εκκλησίας έχει προκαλέσει η ακροαριστερή ατζέντα που ακολουθεί ο Πάπας Φραγκίσκος (Αργεντίνος).

Στην επίσκεψη του Πάπα Φραγκίσκου στην Πολωνία, το πλήθος υποδέχτηκε όπως πάντα τον Πάπα με ενθουσιασμό, αλλά οι Πολωνοί αξιωματούχοι τον κοιτούσαν με καχυποψία, ακόμη και έχθρα, λόγω των θέσεων του για το μεταναστευτικό (ανοιχτά σύνορα της Ευρώπης με το Ισλάμ κλπ). Οι Πολωνοί είναι από τους πιο θρήσκους Καθολικούς. (βλέπε σχόλιο 1)

Ο επικεφαλής της Καθολικής εκκλησίας της Ουγγαρίας επιτέθηκε στον Πάπα Φραγκίσκο λέγοντας ότι οι Μουσουλμάνοι λαθρομετανάστες που έρχονται στην Ευρώπη είναι εισβολείς που φωνάζουν Αλαχ Ακμπαρ και όχι πρόσφυγες.

Ο αρχιεπίσκοπος της Αυστριακής εκκλησίας, που είναι ο πιθανότερος να διαδεχθεί κάποια στιγμή τον Πάπα Φραγκίσκο, είπε ότι οι Μουσουλμάνοι θεωρούν την Ευρώπη τελειωμένη, και η Ευρώπη πρέπει να σεβαστεί τις Χριστιανικιές της ρίζες.

Church in revolt at pope’s ‘blessing’ of Islam’s expansion in Europe”, Δεκέμβριος 2017
Several leaders in the Catholic Church are openly challenging what they say is Pope Francis’s decision to condone the rapid spread of Islam in Europe.
“[T]hey are not refugees, this is an invasion, they come here with cries of ‘Allahu Akbar’, they want to take over,” said Laszlo Kiss Rigo, head of the Catholic Hungarian southern community.
Rigo “belongs to a growing branch of Catholic leaders who refuse to see the future belonging to Islam in Europe,” Giulio Meotti wrote for Gatestone Institute on Jan. 29.
“They speak in open opposition to Pope Francis, who does not seem too impressed by the collapse of Christianity due to falling birth rates, accompanied by religious apathy and its replacement by Islam.”
Catholic commentators are also questioning what they see as the Church’s “blindness” about the danger Europe is facing. One is the cultural editor of the French magazine Valeurs Actuelles, Laurent Dandrieu:
“Islam has every chance massively to strengthen its presence in Europe with the blessing of the Church. The Church is watching the establishment of millions of Muslims in Europe… and Muslim worship in our continent as an inescapable manifestation of religious freedom. But the civilizational question is simply never asked.”
Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, Archbishop of Vienna who is seen as a top candidate to succeed Francis, has appealed to save Europe’s Christian roots. “Many Muslims want and say that ‘Europe is finished,’ ” he said, before accusing Europe of “forgetting its Christian identity.” He then denounced the possibility of “an Islamic conquest of Europe.”
After a Tunisian national, who arrived among a wave of Arab migrants into Germany, murdered 12 people at a Christmas market in Berlin, the Catholic archbishop of Berlin, Heiner Koch, who was appointed by Pope Francis, also sounded a warning: “Perhaps we focused too much on the radiant image of humanity, on the good. Now in the last year, or perhaps also in recent years, we have seen: No, there is also evil.”
The leader of the Czech Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, also warned about the threat of Islamization. “Muslims in Europe have many more children than Christian families; that is why demographers have been trying to come up with a time when Europe will become Muslim.”
“Europe will pay dearly for having left its spiritual foundations; this is the last period that will not continue for decades when it may still have a chance to do something about it,” Cardinal Vik said. “Unless the Christians wake up, life may be Islamized and Christianity will not have the strength to imprint its character on the life of people, not to say society.”
Cardinal Dominik Duka, Archbishop of Prague and Primate of Bohemia, has also questioned Pope Francis’s “welcoming culture.”
French presidential candidate Francois Fillon, who “doesn’t hide the fact that he’s Catholic,” rose in the polls by vowing to control Islam and immigration: “We’ve got to reduce immigration to its strict minimum,” Fillon said. “Our country is not a sum of communities, it is an identity.”

Poland’s problem with this Pope”
Pope Francis will be received by the usual ecstatic crowds when he touches down in Krakow, Poland, this week for a four-day Catholic youth celebration. But look closely at the faces of government officials and bishops in the crowd, and you might see something other than joy in their expressions: wariness, suspicion, anxiety — and in some cases even hostility.
The Catholic Church is good at unity: Polish Catholics are loyal to the successor of St. Peter, whoever he is. But they have a very particular world view that seems to clash with Pope Francis’ reformist streak
When I went to Warsaw in late 2015 to promote the Polish translation of my Francis biography, “The Great Reformer,” I was stunned by the level of suspicion and criticism leveled against him. Much of it was expressed in the kind of language Polish Catholics in the era of John Paul II would have been quick to describe as “disrespectful.” Francis, many told me, was in the process of undoing what the charismatic, authoritarian St. John Paul II had achieved — firm adhesion to traditional doctrine, faithful congregations, and evangelizing fervor.
Francis, I was told, was “causing confusion” with his statements, giving succor to the church’s critics and in general letting down the church. They could not understand why he appeared determined to chip away at the walls they had built with such effort, and at such cost.
Concerned that the English title of my biography would feed already widespread suspicion of Francis, my Krakow-based publisher decided to call the book Prórok, meaning “Prophet.” But the Polish audience wasn’t fooled by the change.
Not only is John Paul II many Poles’ model for what a pope should be, but it has become increasingly obvious that a majority of Polish Catholics see their church — and their culture, because the two are indistinguishable — as beleaguered. Theirs is a mentality forged during long years of resistance to Communism, a legacy now deployed in resistance to secularism, pluralism and modernity in general.
It is a mentality geared toward struggle and defensiveness and one that values unity, conformity and certainty, and that is nervous of contamination.
This kind of thinking may have its strengths — there are legitimate reasons to be proud of the traditions of Polish Catholicism — but its darker side is obvious too. Polish Catholics suffer from a superiority complex, an assumption that their fervent faith (and their magnificent pope) saved the church, and that everything the church has done since, culminating in Francis, is evidence of dangerous backsliding.
* * *
Poland today is an anomaly: 98 percent of its 38 million inhabitants are baptized, and around 40 percent of those are weekly Mass-goers — a figure that soars far above the 15-20 percent typical of Catholics in the rest of Europe. Polish Catholics can be forgiven for thinking that their church has done something right.
Considering its history, this fervor is unsurprising. But it is also dangerously contingent on historical circumstance.
As was the case in Ireland or Quebec before those countries slammed into secularization, in Poland, the nation and the church are intertwined; to be Polish is to be Catholic, and to be Catholic means to be identified with the cause of national liberation. The struggle for freedom in Poland is indistinguishable from that of its saints. St. John Paul II is not just a great church leader, but the architect of his nation’s freedom — a latter-day Moses leading Israel out of Egypt.
The defense of “Catholic Poland” has led the church into what is by modern standards an unhealthily close relationship with President Andrzej Duda’s governing Law and Justice Party, which often makes it hard to work out where the line between church and state is drawn.
The government has been unsparingly anti-immigrant, and it has criticized the European Union — and especially Germany — for pushing an agenda of shared responsibility for the refugee crisis that swept over the Continent. The government’s stance is popular among ordinary Poles, many of whom harbor strong anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment and see a link between immigration and terrorism. A recent survey identified Hungary and Poland as the two European nations most hostile to refugees.
Pope Francis, on the other hand, has called Europe’s willingness to take refugees a test of its principles. God’s mercy — the theme of this week’s World Youth Day in Poland, and the cornerstone of Francis’ teaching — is most evident, he believes, in our willingness to embrace strangers. A Christian takes in the refugee simply because he or she is in need.
Pope Francis strove to set an example by taking in 20 Syrians (all Muslims) into the Vatican, a state of only 1,000 citizens. By that reasoning, Europe should take in 6 million Syrians.
Poland, on the other hand, accepted fewer than 10,000 asylum seekers last year — almost all of whom came from Russia and Ukraine. Although Poland’s bishops have supported Francis’ policy on paper, much of the clergy did so reluctantly.
Another flash point both for the government and bishops has been the Pope’s urgent commitment to combat climate change, an effort which he believes the church should lead. Although Law and Justice politicians are careful to avoid criticizing the pope directly, they publicly dispute the links between carbon emissions and climate change. In a country where mining remains a key industry — Poland is the ninth largest coal producer in the world — Pope Francis’ ecological stance has been critiqued as naive, meddling and “anti-coal.”
But Francis does not show signs of retreating on the issue; he plans to arrive at an event Wednesday on what his official schedule describes as an “ecological tram.”
The main point of tension with Poland’s bishops has been Francis’ attempts to take a more merciful, “pastoral” direction with regards to marriage and family. The topic was the focus of two three-week bishops’ meetings in Rome in 2014 and 2015 that resulted in a significant document called Amoris Laetitia, “The Joy of Love.” While it upholds the indissolubility of marriage, it invites the church to think about how better to integrate and include the divorced and civilly remarried.
For Francis, this way of thinking is about making it easy for those who seek change to attain it – and about welcoming those who have been bruised by rejection. As with his language about gay people, it represents a shift from focussing on how to defend the church from contagion to how to walk with those who are outside it.
His approach won out against fierce opposition from Polish bishops, among others, who saw the document’s proposals as watering down church doctrine, sending mixed messages, and “compromising” with the secular world.
Some Polish bishops have publicly critiqued the document as “ambiguous.” They argue that sections that are unclear should be interpreted according to the teachings of Francis’ predecessors — by which they mean John Paul II’s 1981 teaching document, Familiaris Consortio. In Catholic terms, this amounts to something close to a rebellion: Amoris Laetitia is authoritative magisterial teaching, and should be the dominant point of reference.
There will be two moments after Pope Francis arrives for him to deliberate on these differences in private, first with President Duda, and then in a closed-door session with bishops at Wawel Cathedral. The rest of his visits will be very much in the public eye: In Częstochowa, he will say Mass at the great national shrine of Jasna Gora; in Auschwitz-Birkenau, he will pray silently at the Nazi death camps; and at the Divine Mercy shrine in Krakow, he will hold a Mass at which 1.5 million worshipers are expected.
The connecting theme of his visit will be mercy. At stake is what the word means in our current political and cultural moment — and whether Poland could use a little more of it in order to be faithful to the Gospel, let alone to the Successor of St Peter.