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A Time Of Chaos By Boaventura de Sousa Santos

A Time Of Chaos

By Boaventura de Sousa Santos

May 03, 2018
The bombing of Syrian sites where chemical weapons are allegedly being manufactured or stocked, allegedly to be used by the Bashar al-Assad government against the rebels, has left citizens all over the world in a state of confusion, filled with a mixture of perplexity and scepticism. In spite of the bombing by the Western media (a particularly apt metaphor in this case), in their attempt to persuade public opinion of the latest atrocities committed by al-Assad’s regime; in spite of the near unanimous opinion of political commentators that this was nothing but a humanitarian response, a fair punishment, and one more proof of the vitality of the “Western alliance”; in spite of all this, citizens in the West (and much more so in the rest of the world), whenever asked, expressed their doubts about this media narrative and for the most part spoke against the attacks. Why is that?
The consequences
Because citizens who possess at least a modicum of information have a better memory than commentators, and because, although they lack expertise on the causes of such acts of war, they have an expert knowledge of their consequences, which is something that said commentators always fail to notice. They remember that in 2003 the justification for the invasion of Iraq was the existence of weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to exist. They remember that the photos that were exhibited at the time had been tampered with so as to lend credibility to the big lie. They remember that then, as now, the attack occurred on the eve of the arrival of an independent commission of experts sent to investigate the existence of such weapons.
They remember that the lie left behind a million dead and a destroyed country, with fat reconstruction contracts being handed over to US companies (such as Halliburton) and oil exploration contracts given to Western oil companies. They remember that in 2011 the same coalition destroyed Libya, turning it into a den of terrorists and traffickers in refugees and emigrants, and yielding the same type of fat contracts. They remember that so far the war in Syria has caused 500,000 dead, 5 million refugees, and 6 million displaced within Syrian borders. Above all, thanks perhaps to that mysterious cunning of reason whereof Hegel spoke, they remember what the media does not tell them. They remember that two genocides are underway in the region.

An injured toddler rescued after being trapped under rubble from an air strike on rebel-held eastern Aleppo, Syria, August 15th 2016.

An injured toddler rescued after being trapped under rubble from an air strike on rebel-held eastern Aleppo, Syria, August 15th, 2016.  

Credit: Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters

They are being perpetrated by state terrorism but they are almost never mentioned because the aggressor states are “our” allies: one is the Yemeni genocide at the hands of Saudi Arabia, the other is Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian people.
These are the more visible consequences. But there are other victims, of which the ordinary citizen is hardly aware, her suspicions sometimes not more than a vague discomfort. I will focus on three of those victims. The first is international law, which has once again been violated, given that actions of war are legitimate only in case of self-defence or under a UN Security Council mandate. None of these conditions has been met. Bilateral and multilateral treaties are being thrown out one after another, as trade wars become increasingly fierce. Are we in the process of entering a new Cold War, with fewer rules and more innocent deaths? Are we heading toward a third world war? Where is the UN, to prevent it through diplomacy? What else can countries like Russia, China or Iran be expected to do but move further away from Western countries and their fake multilateralism, and come up with their own alternatives for cooperation? The second victim is human rights. Here the West reached a paroxysm of hypocrisy: the military destruction of entire countries and the killing of innocent populations has become the sole means of promoting human rights. It somehow seems that there is no other means of fostering human rights except by violating them, and Western-style democracy does not know how to flourish except among ruins. The third victim is the “war on terror”. No person of good will can accept the death of innocent victims in the name of some political or ideological goal, much less when perpetrated by the countries – the United States and its allies – that over the last twenty years have given full priority to the war on terrorism. So how can one comprehend the current financing and arming, by the Western powers, of groups of Syrian rebels that are known to be terrorist organizations and that, like Bashar al-Assad, have also used chemical weapons against innocent populations in the past? I allude in particular to the al-Nusra front, the extremist Salafist group also known as the Al Qaeda of Syria, which seeks to establish an Islamic state. In fact, the most frequent accusations, by US institutions, with regard to the financing of extremist and terrorist groups point the finger precisely at that most loyal of US allies, Saudi Arabia. What are the hidden goals of a war on terror that supports terrorists with money and arms?
The causes
Given that the causes elude all the news noise, it is more difficult for ordinary citizens to identify them. Convention has it that one can distinguish between proximate and structural causes. Among the proximate causes, the dispute over the natural gas pipeline is the one most frequently mentioned. The large natural gas reserves in the Qatar and Iran region can take two alternative routes to reach the wealthy, voracious consumer called Europe: the Qatar pipeline, going through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey, and the Iranian pipeline, across Iran, Iraq and Syria. For geopolitical reasons, the US favours the former route while Russia prefers the latter. Bashar al-Assad was also in favour of the latter, as it benefitted Shiite governments only. From that moment on, the West viewed him as a target to be taken down. Major Rob Taylor, a professor at the US Army’s Command and General Staff College, wrote in the Armed Forces Journal of March 21, 2014: “Viewed through a geopolitical and economic lens, the conflict in Syria is not a civil war, but the result of larger international players positioning themselves on the geopolitical chessboard in preparation for the opening of the pipeline in 2016”.
The structural causes are perhaps more convincing. It has been my contention that we are at a transitional moment between capitalism’s globalizations. The first globalization took place from 1860 to 1914 and was dominated by England. The second took place from 1944 to 1971 and was dominated by the US. The third began in 1989 and is now coming to an end. It was dominated by the US, but with the growing multilateral participation of Europe and China. In between globalization, the rivalry between would-be dominant countries tends to increase and can give rise to wars between them or their respective allies. At this point in time, the rivalry is between the US, an empire in decline, and China, a rising empire. In a study titled “Global Trends, 2030”, the US National Intelligence Council – an institution that could hardly be viewed as biased – states that in the year 2030 “Asia is going to be the center of world economy just as it was until 1500,” and China could become the world’s first economy.
The rivalry escalates but cannot lead to head-on confrontation because China already has a major influence on the domestic economy of the US and is a major creditor of its public debt. Trade wars are critical and they spread to the high-tech areas because whoever gets to dominate those areas (namely automation or robotics) will be poised to dominate the next globalization. The US will only enter treaties that are likely to isolate China. Since China is already too strong as it is, it has to be confronted by its allies. The most prominent among them is Russia, and recent agreements between the two countries provide for non-dollar denominated transactions, especially oil-related, which poses a fatal threat to the international reserve currency. Russia couldn’t possibly be permitted to boast about a victory in Syria, a victory, let it be said, against terrorist extremists, and one that Russia has been on the verge of obtaining, thanks supposedly to President Obama’s lack of direction when he left Syria out of his list of priorities. It was, therefore, necessary to find a pretext for returning to Syria to resume the war for a few more years, as is the case with Iraq and Afghanistan. North Korea is also an ally and must be treated with hostility so as to embarrass China. Finally, there is the fact that China, like all rising empires, is pursuing (fake) multilateralisms and therefore is responding to the trade war by fostering open trade.
But it has also pursued limited multilateral agreements aimed at creating alternatives to US economic and financial dominance. The most salient of these agreements was the BRICS, formed by Russia, India, South Africa and Brazil, besides China. The BRICS even created an alternative world bank. They had to be neutralized. Since Modi’s rise to power, India has lost interest in the agreement. Brazil was a particularly strategic partner because of the country’s articulation – albeit a reluctant one – with a more radical alternative that had emerged in Latin America at the initiative of a number of progressive governments, notably Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela. Mention should be made, in this regard, to ALBA, UNASUR and CELAC, a set of political and trade agreements aimed at freeing Latin America and the Caribbean from US century-old tutelage. The most vulnerable of the BRICS countries were Brazil, perhaps because it was also the most democratic. The process whereby it was neutralized began with the institutional coup against President Dilma Rousseff and was taken further with the illegal imprisonment of Lula da Silva and the dismantling of every single nationalist policy undertaken by the PT governments. Curiously enough, South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, no doubt a corrupt leader and a BRICS enthusiast, has been replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa, one of the richest men in Africa (not as corrupt as Zuma?) and a staunch advocate of global neoliberalism. The Summit of the Americas, which took place in Lima on 13-14 April and was virtually ignored by the European media, was a most relevant geopolitical piece in this context. Venezuela’s participation was vetoed, and according to El Pais of 15 April (Brazilian edition), the meeting signalled the demise of Bolivarian America. The strengthening of US influence in the region has become very clear, judging from the way in which the US delegation criticized China’s growing influence on the continent.
For all these reasons, the war in Syria is part of a much broader geopolitical game, whose future looks very uncertain. May 2, 2018
Boaventura de Sousa Santos is Portuguese professor of Sociology at the School of Economics, University of Coimbra (Portugal), the distinguished legal scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School, and global legal scholar at the University of Warwick. Co-founder and one of the main leaders of the World Social Forum. Article provided to Other News by the author

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Donald Trump’s threatening tweet by Brig Gen(Retd)Asif Haroon Raja

 

Donald Trump’s threatening tweet

Brig Gen(Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

 

 

 

Pakistan was made an ally by the USA in September 2001 to fight its war on terror as a frontline State but was treacherously subjected to biggest ever covert war to destabilize, de-Islamize and denuclearize it. For the success of covert operations launched by RAW-NDS combine backed by CIA, MI-6, Mossad and BND from Afghan and Iran soils in FATA and Baluchistan from 2003 onwards, Pakistan was subjected to a willful propaganda campaign to demonize and discredit it by painting it as the most dangerous country of the world. It was subjected to a barrage of unsubstantiated accusations that it was in collusion with terrorist groups. It was also alleged that Pakistan’s nuclear program was unsafe and might fall into wrong hands. Allegations and denunciations were made by Bush regime as well as Obama regime and Pakistan was constantly asked to do more. The policy of ‘Do More’ was a clever ploy to bleed Pakistan as well as to tarnish its image and thus weaken it from within. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The latest narrative framed against Pakistan by Donald Trump regime is that it is continuing to provide safe havens to Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network and is chiefly responsible for the instability in Afghanistan. It ignored Pakistan’s colossal sacrifices and brilliant successes achieved against the foreign-funded and equipped terrorists. On August 22, 2017, Trump subjected Pakistan to severest denunciation and threats while pronouncing his Afghanistan policy. He reiterated his stance while elucidating his national security policy last month. Trump, Secretary Defence Rex Tillerson and Vice President Mike Pence have rejected Pakistan’s explanations and hurled threats of aid cut, sanctions and losing territory if it fails to abide by the US dictates. The old allegation that Pakistan’s nuclear assets are unsafe has again been repeated and Pakistan put on notice.  In other words, a clear-cut narrative has been framed to validate punitive action against Pakistan. The threat of unilateral action has been sounded by the USA to force Pakistan to fight its war and help the US in converting its defeat into victory.

On January 1, Trump gave a New Year gift by tweeting: The US has foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe havens to terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more”.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, in response to Donald Trump’s tweet, said that Pakistan was not worried as it had already refused to ‘do more’ for the US. “We have already told the US that we will not do more, so Trump’s ‘no more’ does not hold any importance,”. “Pakistan is ready to publicly provide every detail of the US aid that it has received.” Asif tweeted. “Will let the world know the truth….difference between facts & fiction.” He added that any drone attacking Pakistan’s urban centres will be shot down.  

Pakistan Foreign Office summoned US Ambassador David Hale and lodged its protest against US President Donald Trump’s tweet wherein he accused Pakistan of “lies and deceit” and used undiplomatic threatening language against an ally.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has summoned a meeting of the National Security Committee on 3rd January. He will chair the huddle to discuss the future course of action following the US President’s scathing statement against Pakistan.

None appreciated Trump’s weird tweet inside and outside the USA except for India, which is rejoicing and is terming Trump as the best President the US has had since ages. I was asked for comments by IndiaTimesNow but got thoroughly disappointed by my curt reply that, ‘Pakistan is quite used to ups and downs in its relationship with the USA, but mercifully it has got out of the US magic spell, and it no more yearns for US aid, and that it is now India’s turn, which is in the tight embrace of USA, to face the music. I also rubbished the claim of $33 billion and added that Pakistan lost $123 billion in the US imposed war besides 70,000 human casualties.  

Comic replies given to Trump’s tweet read: “Change your diaper and go to bed”. “Piss off, you are drunk”. “When is your Tee time today? Fool! Didn’t you tweet about how you were building a good relationship with Pakistan and were thankful for their cooperation? O yeah, that was all of two weeks ago. You are pathological. Please resign”.

The US is hell-bent to scapegoat Pakistan in order to hide its enormous failures in Afghanistan. While Pakistan has cleared all the safe havens and strongholds of TTP despite its leadership enjoying a complete safe haven in Kunar, Nuristan and Nangarhar, NATO has ceded over 47% Afghan territory to Afghan Taliban.

It is time for the US to accept its fault lines and fight its own war, or else accept its defeat gracefully, patch up with the Taliban and find a political solution instead of scapegoating Pakistan, and beat a hasty retreat from the quagmire it has got stuck. The US must remember that it buckled down before Lilliputian North Korea which is an emerging nuclear power but is now foolishly vying to lock horns with a full-fledged nuclear power, which is the height of foolhardiness.   

A highly dangerous situation has been created for Pakistan already grappling with multiple internal challenges. Ongoing political turmoil as a result of gang up of opposition political cum religious parties/groups in their bid to put the Federal and Punjab governments in the dock has further vitiated the atmosphere and made Pakistan more vulnerable to exploitation by enemies of Pakistan. The people are suspecting that ongoing political disorder in Pakistan.  They feel that All Parties Conference chaired by Tahirul Qadri on December 30 in which deadline was given to Shahbaz to quit by 7th January or face sit-ins all over the country is also the handiwork of partners in crime working in cahoots with the puppet regime in Kabul.

The US-Saudi and the US-India strategic partnerships are impelling both Iran and Pakistan to gravitate towards China and Russia and explore avenues to form a unified block in conjunction with the Central Asian States to counter the US imperialist designs. 

The writer is a retired Brig Gen, a war veteran, defence and security analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, Chief Editor Better Morrow magazine.                  

 

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If US Betrays Pakistan’s Trust Again, Redress May Not Be Possible

America is preparing to leave Afghanistan at the mercy of a lame government and an army of questionable loyalty.

The search for “good” Taliban is on in Afghanistan; the U.S. has announced that no action is to be taken against those who are not a threat to the U.S., including Mullah Omar.

The United States has said that after Jan. 2, 2015, the U.S. Army will not take any action against Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders in Afghanistan if they pose no direct threat to the United States. Addressing a press conference in Washington, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said that the U.S. will not operate against anyone simply on the basis of their being Taliban members. Nevertheless, he used the occasion to clarify that those who fight will not be spared by any means. Kirby emphasized that any Taliban who operate against the U.S. or against its Afghan partners will automatically fall within the scope of the U.S. military operation.

Addressing the final news conference for the year last Friday, President Barack Obama reassured the American public that he is committed to his promise to end the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan at the end of 2014. Obama said that in less than even two weeks, the U.S. mission that has continued in Afghanistan for more than 13 years will come to an end. However, Obama gave full permission to his troops to combat extremists in the event of their becoming direct threats to the U.S. or to Afghan forces.

After 9/11, America’s enemies in this region were al-Qaida and the Taliban. The U.S. and its allies needed Pakistan’s cooperation in confronting these enemies, cooperation which Pakistan provided. With this cooperation, and with the use of modern arms and trained armies, the U.S. and its allies totally crushed Afghanistan. Ammunition and iron rained down on the land of Afghanistan, and land forces also employed their talents and weaponry to the full extent. Thousands of al-Qaida members and Taliban were killed, and at the same time, hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens were also killed, including children, old people and women. In the words of America, it broke the back of al-Qaida.

The Taliban were removed from power but could not be eliminated. They still exist as a force in Afghanistan and some other countries, and the U.S. has even carried out direct, as well as indirect and secret, negotiations with them at times. Although the U.S. stayed in Afghanistan for 13 years with full pomp and power, it could not realize its desire to completely eliminate the Taliban; nor could it persuade the Taliban to cooperate with the Afghan government. Now that a big part of the U.S. Army will be leaving Afghanistan in about a week and a half, without coffins, the Americans are hoping that the Taliban who continued to confront them for 13 years will start behaving like good children and pledge allegiance to Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah. This is not simply an illusion or a misconception on the part of the U.S., but inane thinking. The Taliban maintain a hold in many areas of Afghanistan and influence in several others; they are simply lying in wait for the U.S. and its allies to leave Afghanistan — when they can implement their plan to occupy Kabul.

Despite the presence of tens of thousands of military experts and their operations, the governments of the previous Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, and current President Ashraf Ghani have remained weak in most areas other than in cities such as Kabul. At the beginning of the coming year, following evacuation of NATO forces from Afghanistan, the government of Ashraf Ghani will have to face severe problems despite having full or partial authority in different regions. Perhaps the U.S. and the Afghan administrations are relying on the 150,000 members of the [Afghan] National Guard. But these are the very U.S.-trained soldiers who carried out dozens of attacks on their American teachers. It is possible that tomorrow these U.S.-trained soldiers will be seen standing in support of the Taliban in the same way that the army of President Hafizullah Amin joined the Taliban following the Russian evacuation.

The U.S. defeated Russia with help from Pakistan; it then took the route home, leaving Afghanistan in a state of anarchy and leaving Pakistan suffering to this day from the ill effects of its actions. Had the U.S. restored peace in Afghanistan by establishing a strong government there, the hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees would not still be a weight on Pakistan after 35 years. As it did in the past, the U.S. is once again leaving Afghanistan without any planning. Pakistan today is in the grip of terrorism and lawlessness that is stronger than any it experienced in the past. Pakistani Taliban — products of the Afghan[istan] War — have turned the whole country into an ammunition pile.

On Dec. 16 these terrorists, carrying out the worst example of brutality and barbarity in human history, bathed hundreds of children in dust and blood at the Military Public School in Peshawar. According to the brutal terrorists, this was retaliation for operation Zarb-e-Azb, being conducted by the Pakistani army to eliminate the terrorists. Following this incident, the whole country united under the Nawaz Sharif government for the elimination of terrorists. The prime minister lifted restrictions on the death penalty to be effective immediately. So far there have been six executions, while gallows have been constructed in prisons for more.

After the Peshawar incident, the government immediately called a conference of parliamentary parties in an effort to form a working group that would reach a consensus regarding a strategy. Yesterday, this group agreed on eight recommendations including the establishment of military courts and repatriation of Afghan refugees. The prime minister was briefed about these recommendations and, in this context, has called a meeting of parliamentary parties to approve an action plan based on the working group’s recommendations. The meeting will be attended by political leaders, including Imran Khan.

Along with execution of terrorists, the Pakistani army is conducting rapid operations in which 200 terrorists were killed within a week and twice the number arrested. In the most recent action in Karachi, 13 terrorists belonging to al-Qaida and the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban were killed in confrontations; arms and suicide jackets were recovered from them. About 300 suspected terrorists were arrested in operations carried out in Mansehra and Islamabad.

Pakistan helped the U.S. with its heart and soul in the war against terrorism, as a result of which, the flames of warfare that were extinguished in Afghanistan have started flaring up in Pakistan. Until yesterday, the U.S. was placing pressure on Pakistan to take evenhanded action against those who posed a danger to Pakistan as well as those who did not pose a danger to Pakistan, without discrimination. Now the U.S. is in search of “good” Taliban in Afghanistan.

Whether the matter relates to Pakistan or to Afghanistan, “good” Taliban are those who give up arms. Taking the position that we will not confront those who are not confronting us is equivalent to deceiving oneself. This thinking is no different from saying that “you cannot use your weapons; but if your reservations lead you to wield arms, then we will also retaliate.” Prior to the U.S. invasion, the nature of the Taliban position in Afghanistan was no different from this; they had not hurt U.S. interests and even bin Laden had not stood up with his gun in Afghanistan. Still, the U.S. placed a price of $10 million on Mullah Omar’s head. In light of the U.S. statement today, how would the U.S. treat him if he makes an appearance at the beginning of next year, decorate him with garlands?

America is preparing to leave Afghanistan at the mercy of a lame government and an army (the [Afghan] National Guard) of questionable loyalty. Further, the fire of terrorism is blazing in Pakistan. Should the U.S. once again leave Pakistan without its friendship and support — as it has done in the past — then Pakistan will eventually emerge from the morass after it faces difficulty. However, its trust in the U.S. will be finished and it will not wish to cooperate with the U.S. ever again. It is possible that in only a few months following evacuation, the U.S. will be in need of Pakistan’s cooperation in Afghanistan.

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I didn’t realize how often Muslims get kicked off planes, until it happened to me Niala Mohammad, The Guardian

I didn’t realize how often Muslims get kicked off planes until it happened to me

A humiliating experience opened my eyes to discrimination that has become common in post-9/11 America under the pretext of safety and security

 
 
My friend and I were removed from an American Airlines flight for requesting water and asking why we were still aboard an idling plane.
My friend and I were removed from an American Airlines flight for requesting water and asking why we were still aboard an idling plane. Photograph: Courtesy of Niala Mohammad

A recent news report documented the removal of two Muslim women working for the federal government from an American Airline flight. On its surface, the airline staff appeared to be upholding safety regulations, but in reality, they were engaging in discriminatory practices. I know this to be true because I was one of the two women. We were removed from the plane for doing nothing more than requesting water and asking why we were still aboard an idling plane for more than five hours.

Although the incident was humiliating it was also eye-opening. Until it happened to me, neither my friend nor I had realised how common this trend had become. Passengers are removed from an aircraft for benign reasons such as asking for a beverage, a child harness, speaking a foreign language, changing or upgrading seats, taking pictures, making videos, or questioning a long delay. It isn’t just about what happened to me – increasingly Muslims are a part of a cycle of discrimination that targets them due to their appearance.

American Airlines states that they prohibit “discrimination of any kind” and ensure that their “policies require that we treat all our customers in a fair and courteous manner and discrimination due to race, ethnicity, religion, or skin colour is not tolerated”. However, this was not reflected in the treatment that I and other passengers received.

Shan Anand, a young, turbaned, Sikh man along with three of his Muslim friends were removed from an American Airlines flight travelling from Toronto to New York earlier this year. When I asked Shan why he thought he and his friends were removed from the flight he said: “We know why it happened, right? There were four of us, three are Muslim and I am Sikh.” When Shan and his friends asked American Airlines why they were removed, they were told: “There were inconsistencies of their behaviour travelling as a group.” But the explanation made no sense to Shan – he was travelling in a group of six with two Latinos, three South Asians and one Arab, yet only the South Asians and Arab were removed. Shan and his travel companions were told that “the crew felt unsafe”.

“Unsafe”: a trigger word commonly used as an excuse by airlines under the pretext of ensuring safety and security post-9/11. Nearly all Muslims have at some point been subject to secondary security screening selection, but being thrown off a plane was an entirely new level of humiliation for me.

Measuring discrimination

Khurram Ali, the former civil rights director for the Council on American-Islamic Relation’s (CAIR’s) New Jersey chapter, explains that the pilot of an aircraft is given a list of those passengers that are marked with the infamous SSSS on their boarding pass. The SSSS or *S* indicates someone needs to be scrutinised a bit further by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). And although it is unknown if airline attendants have access to the names labelled SSSS by TSA on domestic flights, they do have access to their respective airline computer reservation system, which details passenger name and detailed information.

Although there is no published criteria used to select passengers for “random selection” or “suspicion”, Ali says: “It is happening to more and more people who are considered visibly Muslim.” Ali documented 27 airline discrimination complaint cases with three of those being “pulled off” or airline removal cases for CAIR’s New Jersey chapter during his short tenure. But as he pointed out, those numbers come nowhere near the amount being documented by CAIR on a national level.

CAIR has been fairly thorough in its documentation of discrimination against American Muslims, however, it is still in the process of aggregating data regarding Muslim airline passengers being “pulled off” planes. Corey Saylor, CAIR’s director of the department to monitor and combat Islamophobia, acknowledged that they “are seeing more airline cases”. But in regards to statistics, Saylor stated: “We do not have stats as of yet. We are working on it.”

The only cases the public is aware of are those documented in the media. I counted nine airline passenger removal cases involving American Muslims published in the media over the past 13 months. But if that isn’t indicative enough, just look at trending hashtags on social media like #FlyingWhileMuslim to understand and confirm the reality of rising discrimination.

The official reasons for removal of these passengers are all in relation to safety and security concerns. But there is no mistaking this trend toward discrimination of Muslims.. Here are a few examples:

  • Mohamed Ahmed Radwan made the flight attendant feel “uncomfortable” when he asked her why she called him out over the public tannoy with the words I will be watching you”. (American Airlines, December 2015)
  • Shan Anand (quoted above), a turbaned Sikh man, and three of his Muslim friends were removed for making the airline attendant and captain “feel uneasy” after they upgraded their seats. (American Airlines, December 2015)
  • Khairuldeen Makhzoom, a Berkley student, was removed after he was heard saying the phrase “inshallah” in Arabic at the end of a telephone conversation. (Southwest Airlines, December 2015)
  • Hakima Abdulle, a hijabi woman, made her aircraft flight attendant “feel uncomfortable” after switching seats with another passenger. (Southwest Airlines, April 2016)
  • Mohamad and Eaman Shebley (also hijabi) along with their three children were removed from their flight due to a “safety of flight issue” after asking for a child harness for their toddler. (United Airlines, April 2016)
  • Nazia (hijabi) and Faisal Ali, a young couple, were removed for making the flight crew feel “uneasy” because her husband was sweating, saying Allah and texting. (Delta Airlines, July 2016)

Many instances have gone undocumented due to fear of victims being further targeted, labelled troublemakers and being put on a “no-fly” list. The silent acceptance of these incidents has enabled airlines to dismiss the arbitrary treatment of select passengers as compliance with airline security regulations post-9/11. This policy is not effective and ultimately makes Americans feel marginalised in our own country.

Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, or Mark for those that have trouble pronouncing his name, recalls his experience with Southwest Airlines as “tearful and humiliating”. Makhzoomi came to America after his father was executed in Iraq by Saddam Hussain: “I experienced dictatorship in Iraq and now I am experiencing it in the freest country in the world.”

The discrimination Khairuldeen faced in Oakland, California, was anything but subtle. Khairuldeen detailed how he was removed from the aircraft, questioned by airline representatives and security, cornered against a wall, searched, sniffed by dogs in public and later interrogated privately by the FBI. Southwest Airlines representative and the authorities that removed him from the plane berated him for having spoken Arabic aboard the aircraft. Khairuldeen recalled the Southwest Airlines representative, stating: “Why would you speak that language knowing the environment in an airport?”

Khairuldeen said: “I was excited because we were talking about my upcoming graduation from UC Berkley, saying ‘inshallah’. You know, we use this word 30 to 40 times in any given conversation.” The rest of Khairuldeen’s conversation revolved around what they served for dinner at an event he attended which hosted the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon. “I was telling my uncle that they served us chicken, mash potatoes and spinach for dinner at the event,” said Makhzoomi. Yet the authorities that escorted him and claimed to understand Arabic, accused him of “discussing martyrdom” in his telephone conversation.

An atmosphere of fear

Cenk Uygur, political commentator and co-founder of the Young Turks, believes that this issue goes beyond discrimination towards Muslims in particular. Uygur was also kicked off of an American Airlines flight but he doesn’t believe it was because of religion. “Was it religious? In my case, I don’t think it was racially motivated.” Uygur believes that the root of the matter boils down to power and compared airline attendant behaviour toward Muslims since 9/11 to police officers abusing their authority and using excessive force on African Americans. “After 9/11 airlines/flight attendants have taken up the ‘I can do whatever I want attitude’ in the name of security,” Uygur says. “In my opinion, the core of the problem is flight attendants are given unlimited power and they tend to abuse it. They tend to use their power on those they perceive to be powerless. And unfortunately, in America, the darker the skin colour the more powerless you are. And many Muslims tend to fit in that category.”

He adds: “By the way, it’s much harder on women because they are more visibly Muslim and they often bear the brunt of the burden of Islamophobia or discrimination.

“Donald Trump has given people permission to be Islamophobic and told them that it’s okay to discriminate against Muslims. Trump basically says, ‘If I become president I will systematically discriminate against them [Muslims],’” Uygur says.

Likewise, Khairuldeen Makhzoomi attributed the recent rise in discrimination towards Muslims to Donald Trump, saying, “Trump is using ‘Islamophobia’ to rise to political power.”

Trump’s statements have fostered and further instigated an atmosphere of fear and prejudice towards the estimated 6-7 million Muslims in America.

I’m an American and being labelled a safety threat is unacceptable in a country founded on tolerance and freedom.

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Hawkish US Think Tanks By Brig(R) Asif Haroon Raja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hawkish US Think Tanks

 

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Brig(R) Asif Haroon Raja​

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asifharoonraja@gmail.com

(War veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan,DG Measac Research Centre.​)​

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The two leading US think tanks namely ‘Hudson Institute’ and the ‘Heritage Foundation’ have advised the Donald Trump administration to adopt tough measures against Pakistan.

 

In their view Pakistan is not doing enough in controlling terrorism and is making its soil available for export of terrorism into Afghanistan, thereby threatening the US vital security interests in the region. They have suggested a critical review of intelligence on Pakistan’s involvement in supporting terror since in their view the previous administrations have been taking a lenient view. In their estimation, Pakistan is not an American ally and has been playing a double game by cooperating occasionally and partially.

In their recommendations they have stated that Pakistan must be firmly asked to fully share the US counterterrorism objectives, end its support to the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network (HN) and given stern warning that failure to do so would deprive it of the status on non-NATO ally within six months and result in declaring Pakistan as a State sponsor of Terrorism. In their assessment, China and Gulf Arab States share the US concern about Pakistan’s tolerance of terrorist organizations/individuals. They hasten to add that Pakistan being an important country should also be induced by offering a mutually beneficial trade and investment package, while continuing humanitarian and social assistance programs.  

It is a well-known fact that there are 1984 think tanks in USA with 350 in Washington. Both Heritage and Hudson are among the 50 most influential think tanks. Other important ones are American Enterprise Institute, Centre for Security Policy, Foreign Policy Research Inst, Institute of Foreign Policy Analysis, Brookings Inst etc.  These institutes are required to provide research solutions to a variety of world problems and then lobbying for policy changes. Perceptions are built and the US policy makers influenced to formulate foreign policies or make changes in policies, and frame responses to external challenges. 

These intellectual institutes are however mostly controlled by the Far-Right Zionist lobby which is pro-Israel and guided by American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPIAC). Of the 30 top executives of the major think tanks, 19 are Jews (63%), whereas Jews are mere 2% of the total population. 94% of American Jews live in 13 key Electoral College State, who play a predominant role in the election of US president. Zionist lobby is closely aligned with Indian lobby in USA. The two lobbies besides having influence over think tanks and media, also have strong influence over the US Congress and play a big role in the election of each member. It is therefore quite logical to assume that like hundreds of anti-Pakistan reports dished out by the US think tanks, US Congress, New York Times, Washington Post and Voice of America, this report was also manufactured by these lobbies that are hostile to Pakistan. Purpose is to influence the new administration to pursue old policies to keep Pakistan in the dock.

Rather than focusing on foreign policy and security issues, these think tanks work on tutored themes and burn midnight oil in justifying the crimes of USA, Israel and India against humanity, painting the targeted Muslim countries particularly the radical groups in black and blaming the victims of aggression as terrorists or sponsors of terrorism. Pakistan has been the biggest victim of Indo-US-Israeli propaganda since 2005. Since none of the sinister objective against Pakistan could be accomplished through covert means, the propaganda continues unabated and this report is in continuation of the malicious campaign. 

I may like to ask the wise guys of the two think tanks some probing questions:

Whether their counsels helped USA in winning the war on terror, or at least in improving their image. If not, have they ever prepared a paper highlighting why the US has failed to achieve its stated and hidden objectives after fighting the longest war in its history and spending over $ 1 trillion, where the US went wrong and how could it make amends to restore its lost prestige. (I have). 

Instead of the next door neighbor Pakistan feeling insecure, how come the US located 7000 miles away and across the seven seas feel threatened by the chaos in Afghanistan which it had intentionally created? 

I want to know as to what are the accomplishments of the US-NATO forces and in what way they have fared better than Pakistan to ask it repeatedly to do more? In my reckoning, the US need to do a lot more. 

Can the US deny that CIA in league with RAW, NDS, MI-6, Mossad and BND been exporting terrorism into Pakistan since 2003 with the help of its proxies created in FATA, Swat, Baluchistan and Karachi? Can it deny that RAW and NDS are still supporting them?

Why the ISAF withdrew bulk of 1, 30, 000 troops from Afghanistan in December 2014 without eliminating its principal objective of eliminating terrorism?

Was it because of resurging Taliban power which it couldn’t defeat, or the sagging morale of ISAF soldiers due to mounting war casualties, suicides, in-house attacks, huge number of post stress disorder cases and uninspiring military leadership?

Isn’t it true that the morale of occupying forces drawing handsome salaries drooped because they had no cause and that they were fighting a wrong war for selfish motives of the elites?    

When the US accepted in principle that the Taliban could neither be defeated on the battlefield nor cowed down and decided to quit Afghanistan by December 2014, what was the need for keeping behind a token force along with airpower? Did it really expect that what the combined military force of 48 countries couldn’t achieve, would be accomplished by ANSF rived in so many discipline problems?

Isn’t it a fact that rather than accepting defeat in good grace and quitting honorably, the US military brazenly blamed Pakistan for all its failures? Can the prestige and honor of the sole super power be restored by making Pakistan a scapegoat?

Pakistan security forces and ISI on the other hand successfully broke the back of terror network and demolished all the sanctuaries, communication and command infrastructure from FATA and settled areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, enfeebled foreign backed separatist movement in Baluchistan and demolished the militant structure of MQM in Karachi. All this was done single-handed against all odds and astounded the world. USA is among the ones acknowledging Pakistan’s spectacular successes.

If Pakistan had fought the war with ill-motives and without a genuine cause, could it have achieved the miracle? 

It is now an open secret that the US had occupied Afghanistan under a preconceived design and with sinister objectives against Pakistan and other regional countries. It has been calculatingly inflaming terrorism in the region and particularly in Pakistan and at no stage made any sincere effort to quash terrorism.

Had the US been sincere and serious in eliminating terrorism as professed by George W. Bush and his successor Barak Obama, it would have made Pakistan its strategic partner and banked upon it based upon its astounding performance in the war against the Soviets in the 1980s.

The US relied upon India which has nothing in common with Afghans and is a far distant neighbor. Driven by acute animosity against Pakistan, India kept pressing US military to focus on Pakistan rather than on consolidating its gains in Afghanistan. Gen Mc Chrystal, Gen Petraeus and former Secretary Defense Chuck Hegel publically declared India as a problem child. 

Wasn’t it a big mistake on part of the US to sideline the Afghan Pashtuns that are in big majority, and instead rely upon minority Tajiks, Uzbeks and others in Northern Alliance and unpopular and inefficient regimes of Karzai and of Ghani?

One may ask as to why the US has been striving hard since 2011 to have dialogue with the Taliban who are supposed to be the foes and are still vying to make them agree to talk? And why Pakistan is being asked to stay away from them? Concept of good and bad Taliban is the brainchild of USA and not of Pakistan. In its view, all those agreeing to talk are good and those refusing to talk are bad.

Since 2008, the Taliban are constantly gaining ground in Afghanistan and are striking targets in all parts of the country including Kabul and northern and western parts. Their resurgence became menacing after 2014 and coming spring offensive will prove highly perilous for the unity government in Kabul and for the 3, 50,000 ANSF supported by 12000 Resolute Support Group that have failed to stem the tide. So how come Pakistan is responsible for their dismal performance particularly after it cleared the last stronghold of North Waziristan in 2014 where HN was based?    

The US has been suspecting and distrusting Pakistan from the outset since it was never made an ally. Marked as a target, friendship was a ruse to deceive Pakistan, make it complacent, weaken it from within through covert operations and then extract its nuclear teeth at an opportune time. This feat if achieved would have justified its most expensive Afghan venture. So who has been playing a double game?? 

Rather than learning lessons from past mistakes and blunders and taking corrective measures by working out a face saving formula, the two think tanks have suggested the same old remedy which will prove counterproductive.

Pakistan has been kept on the leash all these years. So, what tough measures are now being suggested? The threat of declaring Pakistan a terrorist state, or to make the financial assistance condition based, or drone war are coercive tools in use for over a decade.

What is so new suggested by the sages and that too at a time when Pakistan has weathered all the pains, its armed forces are fully battle inoculated and have proved their mettle, its nuclear and missile programs are vibrant and in safe hands, it has overcome its energy and economic crisis, it is no more isolated, it is a coalition partner of ascending power and has other options as well? On the other hand, USA is a declining power ruled by controversial, unpredictable and unpopular president, annoying everyone including the Americans other than the most detestable Israel and India. How has the Trump administration responded to Iran’s tough response? It is on a weaker wicket to threaten nuclear Pakistan.  

The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, DG Measac Research Centre. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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