Tag Archives: iraq

Guardian writer George Monbiot: “Time for an air war against Israel.”

Cross-posted at CiFWatch.

In a deeply ironic article The Guardian’s George Monbiot asks why, in light of NATO’s current air war against Islamic State, the west doesn’t “bomb the Muslim world – all of it” and possibly “flatten the entire Middle East and West Asia” his thesis being that with there being so many human rights abusers in the region why concentrate solely on Islamic State/ISIS.

No article like this for The Guardian would be complete unless it contained a totally unjustified attack on Israel. Soon into his piece Monbiot writes:

“In Gaza this year, 2,100 Palestinians were massacred: including people taking shelter in schools and hospitals. Surely these atrocities demand an air war against Israel?”

Monbiot adopts the usual hard-left line of Israel having committed a “massacre” in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. He is doing the work of Hamas’ propaganda arm for them. Civilians were the main victims of Operation Protective Edge, as they are in any war. Civilians are already being killed by NATO in Syria.

But a significant proportion of those 2,100 dead in Gaza are likely to have been the Hamas fighters who had fired rockets at Israeli citizens from nearby to those schools and hospitals, who had dug attack-tunnels under Israel and who came out of those tunnels with the aim of killing as many Israelis as possible.

Monbiot goes on to suggest air attacks against Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Shia militias in Iraq due to the horrendous treatment of many citizens in those countries by their governments.

By citing Israel alongside such oppressive oppressive regimes Monbiot puts Israel on a par with with some of the worst human rights abusers when in fact Israel is not only the most liberal country in the region but on a par with the west when it comes to, inter alia, freedom of speech, freedom to practice religion and freedom to express one’s sexuality.

But Monbiot’s biggest crime in this article is to underplay what is happening to religious minorities at the hands of Islamic State.

Monbiot cites individual cases of human rights abuses by the corrupt dictatorships in Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia but is this really on the same level as lining up hundreds of innocent civilians and shooting them in the head before pushing their lifeless bodies into a river or shooting them dead in mass pits, burying them alive or crucifying them like Islamic State terrorists have done to Christians, Yazidis, Shia Muslims and others?

No reasonable person could approve of what has been happening on a daily basis in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iraq. But the regimes that head these countries are not Islamic State.

Neither is the west ignorant of these countries and has been attempting “political solutions” that Monbiot calls for in the penultimate paragraph of his piece. A change of leadership was recently forced through in Iraq and short-lived democracy movements sprung up in Iran, Bahrain and Syria. Although the latter were brutally oppressed they are waiting to rise again. Courageous women continue to attempt to demonstrate for more freedoms in Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Islamic State is far worse than these corrupt dictatorships. Roger Boyes in the London Times (behind paywall) sums up the war against Islamic State:

“The mission would be easier if we were pitted against a corrupt dictatorship since no amount of brainwashing can stop conscript soldiers making the calculation: is it worth dying to defend this man’s palaces? Splitting Isis is infinitely more complex.”

There are no calculations for Islamic State’s brainwashed terrorists to make. Defending, propagating and dying for their extreme interpretation of Islam is their only objective. All obstacles are liquidated.

Monbiot fails to fully grasp this.

His piece does justice neither to Israel, expected from him, nor to those suffering under the brutality of Islamic State, unexpected from him.

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AV or not AV? That is the question.

Or more precisely it’s:

“At present, the UK uses the ‘first past the post’ system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the ‘alternative vote’ system be used instead?”

On May 5th Brits have the opportunity to put a ‘X’ against ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ (please vote in my own poll below).

We are having to do this because of the Liberal Democrats. This was the negligible price they demanded for forming a coalition with the Conservatives.

Since the general election last May the Lib Dems. have reneged on their pledge not to introduce tuition fees and have voted that it is legal to save the lives of Libyan Arabs, having once voted that it wasn’t legal to save the lives of Iraqi Arabs.

There are 650 constituencies in the UK and whichever candidate gets the most votes in his/her constituency at a general election becomes a Member of Parliament. Whichever party gets the support of 326 MPs becomes the government.

Those in favour of AV want each MP to be elected by at least 50% plus 1 of the votes. At the moment one can become an MP on, say, 30% of those who vote, as long as he/she gets more votes than any other individual in that constituency. Voters can only choose one candidate to vote for.

Howevere, under AV you can put a ‘1’ next to your first choice and ‘2’ next to your second choice and then ‘3’, ‘4’, ‘5’, etc.

The number 1 votes for each candidate are then counted. If a candidate wins more than 50% he or she become MP.

If no one gets more than 50% the candidate with the fewest number ‘1’ votes is eliminated and his/her number ‘2’ vote (if there is one) is added to the latter candidate’s pile of votes.

This is repeated until one candidate achieves more than 50% of the vote. So the winner in the first round might not necessarily become MP.

My main complaints about both AV and this referendum are:

1. Arbitrariness – Achieving 50% plus 1 vote seems an arbitrary limit. Why stop at 50%? Why not 75%? The person who wins with 50% plus 1 might have lost in the next round of counting. In fact, why not count every preference to see who wins? By stating the winning post to be 50% plus 1 the will of the people has not been fully expressed as there is still enough information available that has not been considered and which could have determined that another person should become MP.

2. Timing – Why are we not having something crucial like this on the day of a general election when turnout will be greater? Ironically, AV could be approved by far less than a 50% turnout of voters. At a general election turnout will be more than 60%.

3. Cost – The government is cutting jobs and services, so this referendum is an unnecessary expense right now.

4. A highly unfavoured candidate could end up winning under AV.

5. AV seems to be nothing more than a glorified version of the current first past the post system, the only difference being that the winning threshold is set at 50% plus 1.

I would like to retain the first past the post system but there should be compulsory voting with a financial penalty given to those who fail to vote (like with the census form we have just had to fill in). There would be a box marked ‘none of the above’ on the ballot paper if you don’t want to vote for any of the candidates.

This is the only way, in my view, that we will get a clear picture of the will of the people as to who they wish to govern the country.

I think that AV will, rightly, be rejected on May 5th but maybe my analysis is wrong. Please let me know your view by voting ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to AV in my poll below. I promise I won’t fine you if you don’t.

Whichever choice gets the most votes will determine which box I put my ‘X’ in on May 5th.

Turkey to blame for loss of life on Mavi Marmara

Turkey's PM, Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Guilty of Manslaughter? (asianews.it)

Turkey didn’t pull the triggers that led directly to the deaths of nine pro-Palestinian activists on the Mavi Marmara, Israeli soldiers did. But Turkey recklessly started a process that ended it tragedy. In legal terms, this would be manslaughter.

When I awoke on monday morning I couldn’t believe the news: How could Israel kill activists like this? It seemed inexplicable.

However hostile the activists might have been towards Israel they should all be alive today. As David Grossman writes, their opinions “do not deserve the death penalty”.

As more footage was released we saw Israel’s botched operation in full flow.

One by one soldiers descended from a helicopter totally exposed and vulnerable to what was below. The Israeli navy had just asked the Mavi Marmara to direct itself to Israel’s Ashdod port to inspect the cargo. Such warning allowed the ship’s activists to fully prepare.

We’ve all seen the beatings and stabbings that took place, reminiscent of the Ramallah lynchings when two Israeli soldiers lost their way and were beaten to death with a Palestinian participant proudly showing-off his blood drenched hands.

Israel had a right to inspect the cargo, even in international waters, and when the boat refused Israel took the fateful decision to land soldiers on it. In hindsight it was the wrong decision. Anything would have been better than what than took place, even allowing the boat to reach Gaza.

But once the decision was taken to seize the boat for inspection of its cargo the Israeli soldiers were attacked and they defended themselves. They were beaten with metal bars, stabbed and shot at. Seven were injured, two critically.

The Israeli government’s naivety was in not knowing what it was up against. The seven ship flotilla painted itself as a mercy mission. But time and time again we have seen how violent many self-styled human rights activists actually are.

In January last year during Operation Cast Lead activists rampaged through London causing physical destruction and violently attacking and injuring the police. So what does Israel do? It drops soldiers one-by-one to a potential lynching by similar people.

It was a recipe for a tragedy. However many good-intentioned people were on board the seven ship flotilla it cannot obscure the fact that many thugs were also on board; thugs that have no care whatsoever for human life on either side. For them the cause is all.

But the real criminal in all this is Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Erdogan.

Last time round when a Viva Palestina convoy tried to enter Gaza via Egypt an Egyptian border guard was killed by a Palestinian sniper. This loss of life did not justify a repeat performance but this is what Erdogan authorised to depart from his country’s shores yet again.

Now more deaths but this time at the hands of Israeli soldiers, not Palestinians, hence the worldwide condemnation.

Erdogan’s intentions have been suspect for a while. He met with Hamas leader, Khaled Mashaal, in 2006, claimed Israel deliberately kills children in Gaza and has called on his people to learn to make money like Jews do. Erdogan also supports Hezbollah.

In 2008 Erdogan met Sudanese President al-Bashir with full honours. Bashir has since been indicted on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur where the UN alleges that 300,000 people have been killed by Bashir’s regime.

A recent series on Turkey’s state-controlled television depicted Israeli soldiers kidnapping children, shooting babies and old men and lining up groups of Palestinians to execute them.

There is little press freedom in Turkey. Jewish groups have reported hundreds of anti-Semitic articles in the Turkish press recently. There are 23,000 Jewish Turks among a population of more than 70 million Muslims.

With this kind of government-sponsored rhetoric it is easy to see how the population can be so easily whipped up into an anti-Israel, even anti-Jewish, frenzy.

The spirit of openess in Turkey, which was created as a modern, secular democracy in 1923 by Kemal Ataturk, is now on the wane.

Turkey is quickly becoming an Islamist state just like Iran after 1979, but in a less violent, more incremental way.

Turkey has long mirrored Iran in its oppression of its Kurdish population. There are 20-25 million Kurds in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Calls for a unified Kurdistan have fallen on deaf ears.

12 million of these Kurds live in southeast Turkey and a 15 year civil war left 35,000 people dead.

A recent Turkish parliamentary vote (507 for, 19 against) endorsed a Turkish invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan, the Kurdish autonomous enclave, after cross-border raids into Turkey have left soldiers and civilians dead.

Turkey’s Kurdish problem virtually mirrors Israel’s Palestinian one.

But for Turkey there is still no Kurdish people and it is forbidden to teach in Kurdish in Turkey.

If Turkey continues on the path taken by Iran it will be a tragedy for all its people.

There is one hope; Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who now heads the main secular opposition party, CHP, which was founded by Kemal Ataturk, himself.

Kilicdaroglu could rid Turkey of being governed by Erdogan’s corrupt Islamist AKP party, which has been in power since 2002, in next year’s elections.

The election of Turkey’s “Ghandi” could be a positive move for many, including Israelis and Palestinians.