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Fair Is Foul And Foul Is Fair In Syria

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Fair Is Foul And Foul Is Fair In Syria

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By Saeed Naqvi

 Like Henry Kissinger, New York Times columnist, Thomas L Friedman, belongs to a growing tribe of strategists who insist that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been overshadowed, indeed overwhelmed, by a much bigger, Shia-Sunni faultline.

 Even though Osama bin Laden, the 9/11 hijackers, Wahabism, Salafism, are all traced to Saudi Arabia, the US, Israel and the West in general have developed a high comfort level with Saudi Arabia regardless. In this framework, the West has placed the Shia world in opposition to it.

 Was it always like this? Consider this recent historical perspective.

 “As we approach the season of the Nobel Peace Prize, I would like to nominate the spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shiites, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, for this year’s medal.” The recommendation came from NYT ace columnist, Friedman. For emphasis, he added: “I’m serious.”

 This was in 2005. Friedman, was “in” with George W. Bush. In ecstatic pieces for the world’s most powerful newspaper, the NYT, he repeatedly described the occupation of Iraq as history’s greatest effort at democratization.

 Americans had come against Saddam Hussain, a tough Baathist and atheist by belief and a manufacturer of weapons of mass destruction. Remember Saddam invoked “Allah” for political mobilization only after the 1992 operation Desert Storm. He had Allah o Akbar inscribed on an otherwise secular emblem as an afterthought.

The eclipse of Saddam brought great relief to Shias in the South – around the holy cities of Najaf, Karbala and oil rich enclaves neighbouring Basra. For the first time the world realized that Shias were an overwhelming majority in all of Iraq.

 A triangular situation had emerged – the occupying Americans, Sunni (plus Kurdish) minority and the Shia majority. The Shias, led by Ayatollah Sistani, played a straight political hand. Once occupation had taken place, he encouraged the occupiers against his tormentor, Saddam Hussain.

 That is when Friedman was moved to write:

“If some kind of democracy takes root here (Iraq), it will also be due in large measure to the instincts and directives of the dominant Iraqi Shiite communal leader, Ayatollah Sistani.”

 “It was Sistani who insisted that the elections not be postponed in the face of the Baathist-fascist insurgency. And it was Sistani who ordered Shiites not to retaliate for the Sunni Baathist and Jihadist attempts to drag them into civil war by attacking Shiite mosques and massacring Shiite civilians.”

 Friedman proceeded to compare the Ayatollah with other icons who helped bring democracy to their respective countries – Nelson Mandela and Mikhail Gorbachev.  The quality of democracy that obtains in Russia, Iraq and South must be left for Friedman to applaud.

 Rightly or wrongly, Friedman extrapolated from his experience in Iraq. This is at a variance from the fraud Bush’s Defence Secretary, Dick Cheney sought to perpetrate on April 9, 2003, when he had the marines pull down Saddam Hussain’s state at Firdous square and attributed the event to a popular uprising.

Friedman zigzagged along shifting convictions, until by August 2015, he began to show the first signs of tolerating something so totally different from Sistani as to take one’s breath away. In a conversation with Barack Obama he appeared to be nodding agreement on a kind of positive ambiguity about the ISIS.

Sudden and exponential growth of the Islamic State was something of a mystery. It is in the nature of the post colonial media that the views of Developing country elites particularly in the Arab world (except allies like Saudi Arabia, other GCC countries and Jordan) never get reflected in the media. How did the elites in Iraq, Oman, Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Iran and other Muslim countries view the IS phenomenon. Without exception, they described it as an American, French, British, Saudi, Qatari and Turkish cooperative effort. I know first hand. Ask the ambassadors in New Delhi.

If this is what they thought, why were they silent? They were not silent, but their protestations were ignored by the global networks. So hopelessly one sided is the global media, that even shining stars of independent journalism like Seymour Hersh and Robert Fisk are killed by a simple trick of being ignored.

 Writing on Donald Trump’s proposed visit to the centres of semitic religions, Riyadh, the Vatican and Jerusalem, Fisk satirically speculates: “Trump will be able to ask Netanyahu for help against the IS without – presumably – realizing that Israel bombs only the Syrian army and the Shia Hezbollah in Syria but has never – ever – bombed IS in Syria. In fact, the Israelis have given medical aid to fighters from Jabhat al Nusra which is part of Al Qaeda which attacked the US on 9/11.”

 By universal consent, Fisk is among the most knowledgeable journalist who has lived in West Asia for decades. But the Imperial Information order keeps him outside the ken.

Truth however has a way of surfacing. Let us revert to Friedman’s interview with Obama. Friedman asked Obama why he delayed taking action against the IS when it was in its nascent stages?

Obama replies: “That we did not just start taking a bunch of airstrikes all across Iraq as soon as the IS came in was because that would have taken the pressure off Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al Maliki.”

 In other words, by the US President’s own admission, the IS at that stage worked as an asset to apply pressure on Maliki who was in bad adour with the US because he had refused to sign the Status of Forces Agreement with the US ironically on the advice of exactly the person Friedman was recommending for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 – Sistani.

Lo and behold, in his recent column, Friedman is advising Trump to give up the pretense of fighting IS – because that is not in the US (and presumably Israel’s) national interest.

 He wants “Trump to be Trump – utterly cynical and unpredictable. ISIS right now is the biggest threat to Iran, Hezbollah, Russia and pro-Shiite Iranian militias.”

 “In Syria” Friedman recommends, “Trump should let ISIS be Assad’s, Iran’s Hezbollah’s and Russia’s headache.” In other words, let the IS be a western asset.

 A recent cartoon with a most succinct message shows one Saudi ask another:

“We finance wars all around us, when shall we bomb the Jewish state?”

 “When it becomes Shia.”

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Trump shooter rejected by school shooting club for being really bad

He had slipped onto a rooftop 140 meters from the stage where Trump was speaking and began firing an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle.

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Thomas Matthew Crooks, the 20-year-old man, who tried to assassinate former US President Donald Trump, was rejected by the school shooting club for being a really bad shooter and making crass jokes, as per the reports.

The Trump shooter was shot dead by the US Secret Services when he attacked the 78-year-old Republican Presidential candidate at a rally in Butler, Pennsylvania on July 13 evening. As Trump talked to a large crowd, a continuous gunfire broke out, causing widespread panic and prompting an immediate response from security personnel.

Crooks, who allegedly tried to assassinate former Trump, was a resident of Bethel Park, about an hour away from where the shocking shooting occurred, and he was a member of a local shooting club named Clairton Sportsmen’s Club. He was a high school student who was rejected from his high school’s rifle team for being a terrible shooter.

Crook was shot dead on Saturday, the Secret Service said in a statement. Afterward in the day, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) distinguished him as a Pennsylvanian man. He had slipped onto a rooftop 140 meters from the stage where Trump was speaking and began firing an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle. According to officials, the continued gunfire scuffed Trump’s right ear. The officials added that a 50-year-old man was killed in this incident, and two others were critically injured.

According to reports, Crooks graduated from Bethel Park High School in 2022. He received a $ 500-star award, from the National Math and Science Enterprise, officials also told that Crooks does not have a criminal history according to Pennsylvania’s public court records. Police added that they have not yet identified the official motive behind it.

An individual who claimed to be an eyewitness of the incident, in an interview with the international media, the individual said he and the individuals he was with began yelling at the man, attempting to alarm security. According to the security agency, the shots appeared to have come from outside the area secured by the Secret Service.

Addressing a conference, the FBI stated that they were still working through the security apparatus that the Secret Service had in place to understand what potentially happened. Kevin Rojek, the special agent in charge of the Pittsburgh office, remarked that it was able to fire multiple shots. He included that there is going to be a long examination into exactly what took put and how the person was able to get to the area, what type of weapon he had.

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Donald Trump survives assassination attempt, bullet pierces his right ear

The dead gunman has been identified as Thomas Matthew Crooks, aged 20, from Bethel Park, Pennsylvania.

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Former US President Donald Trump was immediately rushed offstage to his motorcade, with blood visible on his right ear and streaking across his cheek after gunshots erupted at a rally in Pennsylvania in an apparent assassination attempt on Saturday evening.

According to US Secret Services, the former President was injured in a volley of gunfire at 6.15 pm from an elevated position outside the venue. The gunfire erupted a few minutes after Trump began his speech at a rally of supporters in Butler, a rural town in northwestern Pennsylvania.

The available witnesses and footage suggested around eight shots were fired at Trump. The footage also showed him grimacing and raising a hand to his right ear.

Following the incident, the US Secret Service officers neutralised the suspect at the scene. The agency’s spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said that one bystander was killed in the shooting and two others were critically injured.

The US Secret Service, which is responsible for shielding current and former presidents, said the suspected shooter had fired multiple shots towards the stage and that the assailant was now dead.

The dead gunman has been identified as Thomas Matthew Crooks, aged 20, from Bethel Park, Pennsylvania.

The former US President Trump, in a post to his Truth Social network, said a bullet pierced the upper part of his right ear. Earlier, his spokesperson informed that he was receiving treatment at a local medical centre.

In a post, Trump said he knew immediately that something was wrong in that he claimed that he heard a whizzing sound, and shots, and immediately felt the bullet ripping through the skin. Trump further wrote that much bleeding took place, so he realized then what was happening.

The incident received condemnation from across the US political spectrum, with President Joe Biden, who spoke to Trump late on Saturday, describing the incident as sick and said the reason why the US needs to be united. There’s no place in America for this kind of violence, Biden asserted.

International leaders also have denounced the act of violence, with UK Prime Minister Keir Starmer saying, he was appalled by the shocking scenes. Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he would pray for President Trump’s speedy recovery. There were conflicting reports about the cause of Trump’s injury.

The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, also expressed his concern over the assassination attempt on former US President Trump and said violence has no place in politics and democracies.

PM Modi wished him a speedy recovery. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the deceased, those injured and the American people”, he added. 

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Slovakia’s Prime Minister safe after surviving multiple gunshot

The assailant critically injured 59-year-old Prime Minister Fico by shooting him five times.

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Slovakia’s Deputy Prime Minister has confirmed today that Prime Minister Robert Fico’s condition is stable, with his life no longer in immediate danger, following an alarming incident where he was shot multiple times.

The Prime Minister was shot by an assassin while he was leaving a meeting on Wednesday.The assailant critically injured 59-year-old Prime Minister Fico by shooting him five times.

Following the attack, Prime Minister Fico was urgently airlifted to the hospital, where he underwent extensive surgery that lasted several hours. Defence Minister Robert Kalinak, addressing reporters from outside the hospital where Fico was receiving treatment on Wednesday, described the Prime Minister’s condition as critical, emphasising that he was fighting for his life.

The identity of the suspect is yet unconfirmed as the police further investigate. Unconfirmed reports from local media suggest that the assailant may have been a 71-year-old writer and political activist.

A video is currently circulating in which the alleged perpetrator can be seen. In the clip, he mentions that he does not agree with government policy.

The shooting has sparked international concern. Expressing shock over the incident, PM Modi conveyed his solidarity with the people of the Slovak Republic, wishing Prime Minister Fico a speedy recovery. He strongly condemned the shooting, denouncing it as a cowardly and despicable act while emphasising the need for unity against such violent acts and reaffirming India’s support for Slovakia during these challenging times.

Earlier, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen also expressed disapproval of the vile attack on Prime Minister Robert Fico . On X, she stated that such acts of violence have no place in society, undermining democracy, the most precious common good. Von der Leyen extended her thoughts to Prime Minister Fico and his family, highlighting the European Union’s solidarity during this challenging time. The condemnation from EU leadership underscores the gravity of the situation and the need for a united stance against violence targeting political figures. As the investigation unfolds, international support for Slovakia remains steadfast, emphasising the importance of upholding democratic principles and ensuring the safety of leaders across Europe.

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