A Thankless Veterans Day in America

(Photo: blog.sfgate.com)

Yesterday the United States celebrated Veterans Day. Instituted as Armistice Day by President Woodrow Wilson in 1918 — it was not until 1954 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first “Veterans Day Proclamation” — America stops to thank the men and women who served our country in battle. One would think that our nation’s soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen would have every form of assistance after they retire as a form of gratitude. The reality, however, is quite different.

As reported by the American Conservative, for more than a decade, Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans have been warning that their exposure to toxic burn pits in the war zone has been linked to cancer. This, in addition to documented irreversible respiratory illness, skin lesions, neurological disorders and more.

Now the evidence is pouring in. According to a new report by McClatchy news, the number of recent veterans diagnosed at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs with various cancers has increased dramatically, and many are blaming the massive open-air pits, which were used to burn everything from batteries and tires, to medical waste and body parts, unfiltered, on U.S. bases.

McClatchy found that the rate of cancer treatments for veterans at Department of Veterans Affairs health care centers increased 61 percent for urinary cancers ⁠— which include bladder, kidney and ureter cancers ⁠— from fiscal year 2000 to 2018. The rate of blood cancer treatments ⁠— lymphoma, myeloma and leukemia ⁠— rose 18 percent in the same period. Liver and pancreatic cancer treatment rates increased 96 percent and prostate cancer treatment rates increased 23 percent.

When confronted with the assessments — which were based on all billing data for veteran visits involving a cancer diagnosis at VA medical facilities from fiscal year 2000 to 2018 (obtained through a FOIA request) — the agency said it might be an “overcount” and that an “internal registry” of cancer diagnoses might show a much less dramatic increase, if not an overall decrease in cases over time.

Sick veteran Brian Alvarado, from the film, “Delay, Deny, Hope You Die: How America Poisoned its Soldiers” – (Photo: Greg Lovett)

One needs to keep in mind that the VA and the Pentagon have been trying to play down the effects of burn pits since veterans started demanding answers 10 years ago. The same can be said of those who served during the first Gulf War. About 200,000 veterans of the 1991 Gulf War continue to suffer from Gulf War Illness (GWI), a set of symptoms including chronic pain, fatigue, and memory impairment caused by sarin chemical warfare agent, pesticides, and pyridostigmine bromide (PB) pills meant to protect soldiers from nerve gas during deployment.

Decades later, these exposures may also be causing higher rates and earlier onset of chronic medical conditions in Gulf War veterans than their non-veteran peers, according to a new study coauthored by School of Public Health and School of Medicine researchers.

The study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health as the current issue’s cover story, found Gulf War veterans reported high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, diabetes, stroke, arthritis, chronic bronchitis, and other chronic conditions at rates normally associated with people about a decade older than them. Veterans who reported being exposed to chemical warfare agents and taking PB pills had especially high rates of heart attack and diabetes.

Such disconcert for human life had also occurred during the Vietnam conflict. Between the years 1962 to 1971 U.S. forces sprayed more than 80 million liters of toxic defoliant over Southern Vietnam to destroy jungle and reveal the enemy hide outs. The substance contained the highly toxic chemical dioxin, which contaminated the soil and sediment, and has been linked to severe birth defects, cancers and mental and physical disabilities.

Handicapped orphans are fed by the medical staff at the Ba Vi (Vietnam) orphanage. These young children represent the 3rd generation of Agent Orange victims more than 30 years after the war in Vietnam, where a battle is still being fought to help people suffering from the effects of the deadly chemical. – (Photo: Getty Images)

Vietnam says that 3 million people were exposed to Agent Orange, while the Vietnamese Red Cross says local studies show that as many as one million people now have disabilities or other health problems associated with the compound, including around 100,000 children. It was not until 1991 when President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Agent Orange Act, which mandated that some diseases associated with Agent Orange and other herbicides (including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, soft tissue sarcomas and chloracne) be treated as the result of wartime service. Even though the United States offers disability benefits to American veterans believed to have illnesses linked with Agent Orange, Vietnamese citizens have had little success in the fight for compensation.

Christie Badstibner (r.), with husband Brian (l.,inset), a 14-year Air Force veteran who recently died.
Christie Badstibner with husband Brian, a 14-year Air Force veteran who recently died. – (Photo: FoxNews.com)

The moral of the story is that the U.S. government has a habit of remaining silent on many controversial issues. Although necessary at times, it has been opaque when it has willfully put its own men and women in uniform at risk as if they were canon fodder or guinea pigs. These are human beings who have not only sacrificed their lives for our nation but for world peace, too. As reporter Kelley Beaucar Vlahos stated: “How pathetic that it might be burn pits or water contamination to blame. In both cases, the government was not protecting its own, and moved to cover it up when the truth began to emerge publicly. Just like Vietnam. Just like Persian Gulf. In the case of Vietnam vets suffering from Agent Orange, it was a long, hard road to recognition; for the Gulf War Illness sufferers, they are still waiting.”

Joseph Hickman, author of The Burn Pits: The Poisoning of America’s Soldiers, said: “The Department of Defense won’t admit that this is occurring and the VA does not do enough to assist service members because they are waiting on info from the DoD.” The message to our elected officials who continue to conceal this ongoing scandal and do nothing about it is: “Shame on you!”

The Execution of Minors in Islam

Capital punishment by beheading in Saudi Arabia – (Photo: Amnesty International)

International human rights law has long prohibited the use of the death penalty against people who were younger than age eighteen at the time of the offense. When the United States, as pointed out by some Supreme Court Justices in Roper v. Simmons (2005), was virtually alone in the world in allowing juvenile offenders to be executed, it changed its laws nationwide whereby those  under the age of eighteen are to be treated as children and consequently could not be sentenced to death for crimes in states that still maintain capital punishment.

While one may think such norms are universally observed, not so much in the Muslim world. In fact, very few of us have heard of the death sentences against juveniles in the Islamic world. all know of the manner in which the Sentencing juveniles to death a young man who was arrested at the age of thirteen for participating in anti-government protests, said Amnesty International today.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has a chilling track record of using the death penalty as a weapon to crush political dissent and punish anti-government protesters — including children  from the country’s persecuted Shi’a minority.

Murtaja Qureiris: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
Murtaja Qureiris was arrested at the age of 13 – (Photo: © Private)

Human rights groups have been petitioning the scheduled death penalty for Murtaja Qureiris now nineteen in August 2018 for a series of offenses, some of which date back to when he was just ten years old. His crimes were throwing Molotov cocktails at a police facility in the eastern Saudi city of Awamiya, as part of an anti-government protest, and for attending the funeral of his brother Ali Qureiris who was killed in a protest in 2011. Murtaja was  eventually arrested at the age of thirteen when he took part in Shia-led protests. After solitary confinement, he was charged joining a “terror group” and “sowing sedition.”

Ali al-Nimr faces the death sentence for a crime allegedly committed when he was under 18 – (Photo: AFP)

The same can be said of Ali al-Nimr who at the age of seventeen arrested on February 14, 2012, a few months after taking part in a pro-democracy rally in Saudi Arabia. He was sentenced to death, despite being a minor when he was arrested and following a deeply unfair trial based on “confessions” he says were obtained through torture. He was sentenced to death in May 2014, and, awaited ratification of his sentence by King Salman of Saudi Arabia, to be carried out by beheading and crucifixion (in that order). Saudi Arabia has admitted to the UN in writing that it sentences children to death, despite denying the accusation in oral evidence to the body’s child rights committee.

Crucifixion in Saudi Arabia
After beheading, Saudis normally resew body and crucify it for public to see. – (Photo: elldiktyo)

The Saudi delegation to the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child said in 2016, in a live webcast, that “the crime must have been committed by a perpetrator who is an adult at the time in order for them to be sentenced to capital punishment.” According to the delegation’s oral evidence, “the age of liability is always 18” in Saudi Arabia. However, in written evidence to the same committee, the Saudi delegation confirmed that children as young as fifteen can be sentenced to death in the kingdom while illegal under international law.

Naturally, the Saudis, as faithful Muslims and in adherence to their Wahhabi observation, literally follow the Prophet Muhammad’s orders: “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides…” – Sura 5, 33

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, some of the children who have been put to death were as young as twelve. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, recently pointed to the alarming issue of executions of children and adolescents: “In 2018, there were seven reported cases of executions of child offenders. Among the most recent cases, on 25 April 2019, two 17-year-old children, Mehdi Sohrabifar and Amin Sedaghat, were executed in Adilabad prison in Shiraz, Fars Province. The two were reportedly forced to confess under torture.” 

Iran: Two 17-year-old boys flogged and secretly executed ...
Mehdi Sohrabifar and Amin Sedaghat – (Photo: Public Domain)

Amnesty International is claiming the pair — both arrested for “rape charges” when they were fifteen-years-old — endured “unfair trials” that doomed them. Two seventeen-year-old boys, who apparently did not even did not even know about their death sentences, were flogged before being executed. The Iranian authorities did not even inform the children’s families about their executions in advance. Later, Iran’s Legal Medicine Organization told the families to come and collect their bodies.

It is worth noting, as Iranian journalist and author, Amir Taheri explains,that due to the lack of transparency, the official number of children being executed under the Islamic rule of Iran is believed to be higher. As Amnesty International acknowledged“We have the details of 49 people on Iran’s death row who were under eighteen at the time of the crime they are alleged to have committed. The UN says there are at least 160 such people facing execution in the country. In fact, there are likely to be many more young offenders on Iranian death rows, as use of capital punishment in Iran is often shrouded in secrecy.”

Juveniles about to be hung in Iran. – (Photo: irannewsupdate.com)

The Islamic Republic’s Penal Code allows executions to be carried out by many different methods, such as hanging, stoning, and firing squad. It also allows girls as young as nine and boys as young as fifteen to be executed. Vague charges are generally brought up by the Islamic Republic’s judiciary system or the Revolutionary Court, such as “waging war against God” (spreading moharebeh, “corruption on earth”), protesting, or “endangering the country’s national security.” These charges can be stretched to allow for supposedly lesser acts, such as criticizing the Supreme Leader, to become crimes, so an order of execution can be carried out.

As can be fathomed, this is part of sharia law as demanded by the Prophet Muhammad in Shi’ite tradition:  “Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq has said“If needed, don’t inflict more than five or six blows to your child or the servant and these blows should not be too severe.” While reprimanding children, better don’t do it in the presence of others.”

I am not contesting a nation’s law to use of capital punishment in order to defend itself, especially with captured terrorists. However, one thing is to execute an adult, another is a juvenile, especially when his or her confession to the charged crime — putting aside the inhumane accusation of “sowing sedition” when one is seeking democracy — is obtained through torture.

The Rise of the Crusaders: Syrian Christians Take Up Arms Against Jihad

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY DELIL SOULEIMAN - Syriac Christian women, members of the battalion called the 'Female Protection Forces of the Land Between the Two Rivers' fighting the Islamic State group, take part in a training on December 1, 2015 at their camp in the town of al-Qahtaniyah, …
Syrian female Christian soldiers taking on the fight against the Muslim Turks. – (Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images)

Just days after President Donald Trump pulled out US trumps from northeastern Syria — the area had served as a “buffer-zone” against ISIS and Turkish incursions — President Recep Erdogan began its hostilities, including airstrikes with US-purchased F-16 killing both Kurds, Christians, and Yazidis, as well as displacing over 300,000 people. A week after Erdogan said he would cease his attacks, as a result of a 5-day ceasefire agreement anchored by Vice President Mike Pence — in reality it was Russian President Vladimir Putin — allowing Kurdish troops to evacuate from the area. Trump then announced that the US will lift the sanctions on Turkey that were imposed over their operation against the Kurds and others. He went so far as to publicly praise Erdogan: “I just want to thank and congratulate President Erdogan. He’s a friend of mine, and I’m glad we didn’t have a problem because, frankly, he’s a hell of a leader.” The “ceasefire,” however, has only been a strategic solution to give advantage to Erdogan’s allied jihadists: the al-Qaeda militants who are now reinforced by surviving ISIS commanders.”

In fact, the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu clarified that the agreement with the United States constitutes a “pause” of the military operation “Source of peace,” which will turn into a definitive end of the offensive only if the Kurds withdraw entirely, as agreed. “It is not a ceasefire,” said Cavusoglu in statements broadcast live on al-Jazeera satellite TV. “Turkey will be able to stop the operation only when all the terrorist elements have left the area along the border between Syria and Turkey.

The White House said Turkey had committed to three things: protect civilians, religious minorities, including Christians and ensure no humanitarian crisis takes place. So far, all three have been violated. For the first time in 100 years, Syriac church bells in northeast Syria rang out for hours to warn local people to stay in their shelters and the church cried out for the indiscriminate Turkish bombing to stop.

Multiple sources have reported that Erdogan even ordered the use of chemical weapons; they were dropped in the border town of Ras al-Ayn after images and video surfaced of civilians, including children, suffering gruesome chemical burns, reports Newsweek. Christians have also been numbered among the casualties. Yet, while the Kurds have shown a demeanor in fighting the Islamic Turks, Christians, including women, have also joined in the crusade against Erdogan’s jihad.

SEE PHOTOS OF CHILDREN BURNED BY TURKISH CHEMICAL WEAPONS – WARNING GRAPHIC

Kurdish news service Rudaw reported on Tuesday that Syrian Christians living near the Turkish border are taking up arms to protect their villages from invading Turkish forces and their Syrian allies. The same report focused on a woman named Madelin, an Assyrian Christian mother of three, who joined up with the Syriac Military Council (known by the acronym MFS), a Christian militia aligned with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). “We Assyrians are 17,000 people spread across the Jazira Region in northeastern Syria,” Madelin explained.

Christian leaders in Syria have stated that Turkey’s invasion is a “form of ethnic cleansing” against Kurds and Christians in the region so the country can move its refugees there. Three Christian have been killed in Turkey’s assault on Kurdish-held areas in northeast Syria. In Qamishli, a Syriac Christian and his wife died, while in Ras al-Ain an additional Syriac Christian civilian was killed. Ten civilians were injured in the attacks. Bassam Ishak, President of the Syriac National Council of Syria, said: “People were so scared, they were telling me, ‘They are bombing us right now! We think this is a message to the Kurds and Christians there to leave, so Turkey can move refugees there. We think it’s a form of ethnic cleansing.”

The Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) noted that “some Christians” have been “mistreated by the Kurds,” but said they are “united in their opposition to Turkey entering the area.” In fact, the Syriac component of the SDF published a video of Christian soldiers at prayer in a church. The headline said, “Our duty is to protect our land.”

This would not be, of course, the first time Christians and other religious minorities have had to fight against the jihad of the Muslim Turks. In the 14th century the Ottomans had established themselves in the Balkans and had penetrated deep into Europe despite repeated efforts by Christians to repulse them. By the mid 1550s the Turks had slowly conceived of a long-term offensive, a pincers movement first by sea and then by land, to conquer the whole northern shore of the Mediterranean. Their ultimate aim was to take all Italy; then all Europe. It was not until the victory at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 that, under the coalition of Pope St. Pius V, the Islamic onslaught began to be turned back as Western civilization was saved — the Crusades were formally over by the 16th century, though the spirit of defending Christendom against Islamic jihad was still in place.

Detail from miniature painting The Prophet Muhammad, Ali, and the Companions at the Massacre of the Prisoners of the Jewish Tribe of Beni Qurayzah, illustration of a 19th-century text by Muhammad Rafi Bazil. Manuscript now in the British Library. (Image: Public Domain)

As I explained in detail in my book,  Islam: Religion of Peace? The Violation of Natural Rights and Western Cover-Up, history demonstrates that as Muslims grew in power, their use of violence changed from skirmishes to outright warfare — the same can be applied to Erdogan. We see this during the last nine to ten years of the Prophet Muhammad’s life, when he personally participated or deputized eighty-six battles: an average of nine-plus battles a year, and they culminated in intensity until he died. According to Patricia Crone, the renowned Islamic historian, after the capture of Mecca in 630, “Muhammad’s God endorsed a policy of conquest, instructing his believers to fight against unbelievers wherever they might be found; and if we accept the testimony of non-Muslim sources, he specifically told them to fight the unbelievers in Syria [the Caravan raids], Syria being the land to which Jews and Arabs had a joint right by virtue of their common Abrahamic descent. In short, Muhammad had to conquer, his followers liked to conquer, and his deity told him to conquer.”

That is why, in the spirit of the Crusades, which saved civilization as we know it, we must not buy the lies of politicians that Islamists, in this case Erdogan, seek peace. To do so would be putting the same faith into the “peace” accord of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s Munich Agreement with Adolf Hitler in 1938. Instead, we must make ourselves heard in out support the Christians who are fighting alongside the Kurds against Erdogan’s jihad — the same one carried out carried out by the Ottomans the Armenian and Assyrian Christians during World War I.

 

Christian Persecution in India: Was Gandhi its Protagonist?

India
Hindu nationalists burn an effigy of Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, former Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Ranchi. – (Photo: Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India/World Watch Monitor)

So many of us have heard of the Christian persecutions in the Middle East and in African and Asian countries where Islam prevails. Yet who would think that in all places such oppression would be happening in India? According to Open Doors USA’s 2019 World Watch List, India ranks as the 10th most dangerous country in the world for Christians to live in — a first in the history of the list in over two decades; approximately 64 million Christians live in India but constitute less than 5% of the total population of 1.3 billion. It is so bad that Indian nationals, by law, must have a Hindu name — Christian names are not legally recognized. In this case, however, the aggressors are not necessarily Muslims but Hindu nationalists who revert to Mohandas (Mahatma: holy, ascended) Gandhi’s nationalism.

The Christian Post reported on September 27, 2019 that there have been over 1,400 incidents of persecution against Christians in India have been reported since the year Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rose to power in 2014. International Christian Concern — a Christian advocacy group in India — reports that they have documented over 200 incidents of anti-Christian violence in just the first eight months of this year; this averages to 27 incidents of violence per month.

Body of Pastor Yohan Maria; he murdered in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh in 2016 by Hindu nationalists. (Photo: Christianpersecution.blog)

A case in point, on January 27 at Calvary Gospel Ministry Church, located in Shantipur village in India’s Chhattisgarh state, Indian nationalists shouted at the worshippers, accusing them of insulting their Hindu gods and goddesses. Forced to vacate their church, ten Christians, including women, were terribly beaten by the protesters. In addition, two bibles were torn to pieces, three musical instruments were damaged, and a motorbike was destroyed. When police were called to the scene, they suggested the assaulted Christians come to a compromise with their assailants. When they refused, the police declined to register their complaint and even threatened to throw them in jail. To date, no criminal complaint has been registered against the Indian nationalists by police in Shantipur village.

Just last week, police in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state have put several house churches under surveillance in order to stop worship, in violation of the country’s secular constitution, sources said. “We are going through a tough time — there is immense pressure from the police administration in Tiruppur District that Christians are not allowed to gather for prayers even within the four walls of their homes,” Pastor Kumar said. “The pastors of these small churches have been harassed to seek permission from district officials to conduct prayer services.” All of this because of Hindu-Indian nationalism. In other instances, Christians have been physically beaten for distributing leaflets explaining their faith unto other Indians.

Video of a Christian pastor being canned for proselytism — WARNING DISTURBING

It was in the 1920s when Hindu nationalism merged with Indian nationalism, the latter adopting, for example, Hindu symbols, but without explicitly declaring Muslims (and others) as outsiders. This ideology has always been part of the National Congress and Indian activists, such as the first Deputy Minister — at the time of independence — Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and by the Indian Congress Party under Mahatma Gandhi. Nationalists also refer to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a supremacist and terrorist organization founded in 1925. It is widely recognized as the parent organization of the BJP — promoter of a Hindu nationalist ideology that seeks to eliminate all religious minorities from the country — Gandhi eventually broke ties with the RSS.

Gandhi is internationally considered the icon of peaceful resistance to injustice in helping seek independence for Indians from the British. But behind this positive aspect, while wanting to pass over his contribution to one of the longest and most irreconcilable conflicts of the modern era caused by the division between India and Pakistan, it should be emphasized that the great “defender” of the oppressed is identified by some scholars as the one to whom Hindus refer to in their justification to persecute Christians.

Gandhi, while publicly promoting religious pluralism and affirming that his mission was to bridge the gap between Hindus and Muslims, constantly divided it by marginalizing the Muslim elite. He even coerced the would-be first Governor-General of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah (1876-1948), to create an independent and sovereign nation. Originally, Jinnah only wanted an autonomous state within India in order to protect the 30% of Indian Muslims from Hindu oppression. Incidentally, Jinnah also never wanted Islam to be the state religion when Pakistan was eventually formed in 1947 — this only occurred one year after his death in March 1949 when the country’s first Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, introduced the Objectives Resolution in the Constituent Assembly. 

Indian Muslims found that Gandhi imperceptibly assimilated his Hinduism with his Indian identity, wearing the Hindu habit and using in political terminology of the Hindu religious idiom. He used, for example, the term ram rajya (the government of the divine Ram) to indicate that an “order” would prevail after independence, alluding to a mythical (Hindu) era of gold before the advent of Islam in India, which naturally imposed on their monotheistic belief. They also felt discriminated against with the term “Mahatma.” As a result, they felt their identity threatened, especially because Congress welcomed the “Mahtama” as the undisputed leader of the party and did not proceed with any act without his consent.

Seven of India’s 29 states today have adopted have adopted a Freedom of Religion Act, which is commonly referred to as an “anti-conversion law.” In practice it usually means that while Christians can, technically, talk about their faith, but as soon as a hearer decides to convert to Christianity, the speaker has caused a religious conversion, which is illegal. Other religious acts and laws outline consequences and penalties for people converting from Hinduism to another religion, including:

  • If a parent of a Hindu child converts to Christianity, he/she loses the right to guardianship over that child.
  • If a Hindu wife converts to another religion she can lose her right to marital support from her husband. (Muslims in India who convert to Christianity are often subjected to harassment, intimidation, and attacks by Muslims.)
  • Conversion from Hinduism can be grounds for divorce.

Gandhi is attributed to have said: “I love your Christ but I hate your Christians because your Christians are unlike your Christ.” This does not mean that he actually wanted to persecute Christians, providing he actually said this. However, given his Hindu puritanism and misogynist views — Gandhi thought that women who were raped lost their dignity and also justified being killed by their fathers for the good of the family and the honor of the community — it is understood why the “Mahatma” would be considered by Hindu nationalists as their inspiration to persecute Christians and other non-Hindus.

The Iranian Revolution of 1979: What Have We Learned Since?

This photo taken on the first day  of occupation (November 4, 1979) of the US Embassy in Tehran shows American hostages being paraded by their militant Iranian captors. – (Photo: Getty Images)

This week, November 4 to be specific, marks the 40th anniversary of when the American Embassy in Tehran was forcefully taken over by Iranian students, inadvertently leading to the 444-day hostage crisis, consequently to the hostile relations between both the United States and Iran that persist to this day. At the time, what led to the 1979 takeover remained obscure to Americans who for months could only watch in horror as TV newscasts showed Iranian protests at the embassy. Popular anger against the America was rooted in the 1953 CIA-engineered coup that toppled Iran’s elected prime minister and cemented the power of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

For those of us who are old enough remember when the the Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was ousted in 1979 what was not clear back then as is more transparent today is how deeply involved the Central Intelligence Agency had been involved for years in creating political instability in Iran. Pahlavi’s ousting was a déjà-vu of when the CIA deposed Iranian Prime Minister Muhammad Mossadegh from power in 1953 after he tried to nationalize his nation’s oil. That was the year that the CIA, which was called into existence in 1947 when the US government was being converted to a national-security state, targeted Iran with its first regime-change operation. The CIA had asked President Harry Truman for permission to initiate a coup to help the British oil companies, which the CIA knew would destroy the Iranian people’s experiment with democracy. To his everlasting credit, Truman said no. That did not stop the CIA, however. As soon as President Dwight Eisenhower became president in 1952, the CIA renewed its request for a coup, arguing that Mossadegh was a “communist.”

Ayatollah Khomeini was mobbed by supporters when he returned from exile in the 1979 revolution that overthrew the shah. Khomeini saw Iran's nuclear program as a symbol of Western influence and had no interest in pursuing it, at least initially.
Ayatollah Khomeini was mobbed by supporters when he returned from exile in the 1979 revolution that overthrew Shah Pahlavi. Khomeini saw Iran’s nuclear program as a symbol of Western influence and had no interest in pursuing it, at least initially. – (Photo: AP)

Mossadegh’s removal restored the young Shah Pahlavi to power, thereby giving the élite someone they could manipulate in order to exploit Iran’s oil commerce. Nevertheless, by the 1970s the Shah, notwithstanding the abuses of the SAVAK, was able to restructure Iran into a highly developed society through educational, land, and juridical reforms; the suffrage of women; and the creation of efficient hospitals, as well as legislating religious freedom. He also made his country one of the main global competitors of petroleum. When he tried to nationalize his country’s oil, which would have meant that countries the United Kingdom and America would no longer dictate policy in Iran, he was ousted. After this, in November 1979 President Jimmy Carter gave Pahlavi asylum in the United States for humanitarian reasons — the students who sacked the embassy were hoping to pressure Carter to send the Shah back to Iran to stand trial on corruption charge — while simultaneously helping Ayatollah Khomeini, who was in exile in France, gain control of Iran and institute the same Islamic theocracy.

This does not excuse, of course, the Ayatollah’s continual brutal and inhumane policies that have not only sponsored terrorism but have oppressed their own people, nor does it absolve what their followers, specifically the Iranian student leaders of the 1979 US Embassy takeover. There is, in fact, regret by many of them for blindly following the mentality of the time that ousted the Shah. Ebrahim Asgharzadeh, one of the student leaders, recently acknowldged that the repercussions of the crisis still reverberate as tensions remain high between the America and Iran over Tehran’s collapsing nuclear deal with world powers.

Asgharzadeh cautioned others against following in his footsteps, despite the takeover becoming enshrined in hard-line mythology. He also disputed a revisionist history now being offered by supporters of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard that they directed the attack, insisting all the blame rested with the Islamist students who let the crisis spin out of control. Asgharzadeh even said: “Like Jesus Christ, I bear all the sins on my shoulders.”

What is to be expected? The CIA, and other US intelligence services continue to assure that Iranian regime will eventually falter after President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and imposed the most severest of economic sanctions. Can this, as Trump insists, occur? Will the unilateral sanctions work?

Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi and Empress Farah Pahlavi walk on the tarmac at Mehrabad Airport in Tehran to board a plane to leave the country on Jan. 16, 1979. – (Photo: AP)

If we were to rely on such “intelligent sources” as we did forty-years ago, I am afraid we will be waiting for the end that will never transpire. For those of us who also recall, a direct line can be drawn back to the American miscalculations before, during and after the Islamic Revolution. “Iran is not in a revolutionary or even a ‘pre-revolutionary’ situation,” a CIA analysis on the country circulated in the White House declared in August 1978. “There is dissatisfaction with the shah’s tight control of the political process, but this does not at all at present threaten the government.” By January 1979, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi would flee Iran while suffering from a fatal illness the US knew nothing about. The Ayatollah flew back to Tehran and the rest was history — pro-Khomeini revolutionary guerrilla and rebel soldiers gained the upper hand in street fighting forcing the military  to announced its neutrality and the official end of the 2,500 year-old Persian monarchy.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps chief commander, Hossein Salami, steps on the American flag as he arrives at the former US Embassy in Tehran this past Saturday for a ceremony. – (Photo: ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH/SHUTTERSTOCK)

Many heavily criticize President Barak Obama for facilitating Iran with nuclear technology. Yet as Ali Vaez, the International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Iran, says: “The Iranian nuclear program has deep roots. In fact, it is four years older than President Obama. It [in fact] started in 1957 and ironically, it is a creation of the United States. The US provided Iran with its first research reactor — a nuclear reactor, a 5-megawatt nuclear reactor that is still functioning and still operational in Tehran.” The Americans also built that nuclear reactor in 1967 on the campus of Tehran University. It also provided Iran with fuel for that reactor — weapons-grade enriched uranium. It seemed like a good idea until the draconian Shi’ite Ayatollahs took over.

It is going to take more than sanctions to have a regime change and install stability. It can only happen, as Shah Pahlavi did, if the country is secularized without having foreign interference like the United States had done — the focus should be on human rights and not just oil if the West wishes to help — which helped create this mess in the first place. Until then, it seems as if we have not learned much.

US Complicity in the Genocidal War in Yemen: When will it End?

A community hall where Saudi-led warplanes struck a funeral in Sanaa, Yemen, in 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

So many of us in the West have had our attention drawn the recent events in Syria, especially after the death of ISIS found and leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. There is also curiosity as to what does the future hold for Syria now that the US military has pulled out of  the northeast part paving the way for joint Turkish-Russian patrols. While this naturally deserves our attention, one Middle East regional event that continues to be put on the back-end of things is the genocidal war in Yemen and the US role in it.

In what is widely seen as an Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict, an estimated 20 million Yemenis, 60 percent of the population, are suffering from food insecurity and malnutrition, including 2 million children. According to the United Nations, 14 million people — half the population – face a clear and present danger of imminent famine.

Fighting began in 2015 when Saudi Arabia militarily responded to calls from Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi after he was deposed by the Iranian-backed Houthi movement for his failure to resolve the economic and political grievances. Both sides claim to constitute the official Yemeni government — the Houthis back former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. While the Saudis attacked Houthi strongholds with the aid nine Islamic countries: Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Academi (formerly Blackwater), the United States provided intelligence and logistical support, including aerial refueling and search-and-rescue for downed coalition pilots. It also accelerated the sale of weapons to coalition states.

The Saudi coalition has waged this asymmetrical war of aerial bombardment upon a country with little to no air defense; it could not carry out this assault without the critical aid from the United States  in the form of military hardware, including banned cluster bombs; intelligence for targeting of airstrikes; and mid-air refueling. What is more, American complicity — this has been a bipartisan presidential effort, covering both the Obama and Trump administrations — has only assisted the Saudi-led coalition in a direct violation of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (“Genocide Convention”). While those supporting both warring parties deny that there is a genocide happening in Yemen, they do so by refuting their own approval of the United Nations’ definition and factors of what qualifies as genocide.

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Some of the malnourished victims of the Yemeni Civil War (Photo: © Inconnu)

A result of the bombardments, according to Oxfam International — a confederation of 19 independent charitable A organizations focusing on the alleviation of global poverty, founded in 1942 — as many as 15 million Yemenis are being cut off from their access to clean drinking water because of the fuel shortage: 11 million people relying on water supplied by piped networks and four million people who depend on water trucked in by private companies have had to drastically reduce their daily consumption since fuel prices soared this past September. In three major cities, Ibb, Dhamar and Al Mahwit, home to around 400,000 people, central water systems have been forced to shut down completely.

A woman carries her 8-year-old son, who is suffering from malnutrition, at a hospital in Yemen, June 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Abduljabbar Zeyad)

Oxfam has had to cut trucked water to thousands of people because of the increase in fuel prices. Piped water systems installed by Oxfam, which supply a quarter of a million people, are running at around 50 percent capacity. Naturally speaking, access to clean water is a matter of life and death in Yemen, particularly for the more than seven million people already weakened by malnourishment, as water-borne diseases are rife. The country has experienced one of the worst cholera outbreaks in recent history. Since April 2017, there have been over two million suspected cases of cholera and over 3,700 deaths. In addition, one Yemeni child  starves to death once every 10 minutes, with about 4,000 dying each month.

A boy pushes a wheel cart with two children and a jerrycan as they head to collect water from a tap at a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in al-Mazraq in the northwestern Yemeni province of Hajja May 20, 2013. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah
A boy pushes a wheel cart with two children and a jerrycan as they head to collect water from a tap at a camp. – (Photo: Thomson Reuters)

The fuel shortage is the latest hardship imposed on the civilian population by the policies of the Hadi government and its Saudi coalition backers. The “legitimate” government has been waging an economic war on the people of Yemen for nearly five years, and this has fueled the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Lack of fuel makes it impossible for many people in Yemen to access water because it means they cannot run the pumps needed to bring the water up out of the ground or fuel the trucks to deliver water from elsewhere.

That being said, the US-Saudi coaltion warplanes continue to deliberately target civilian infrastructure — they arbitrarily attack homes, farms, factories, schools, buses, gas stations, government buildings, water treatment facilities, and anything else imaginable. In fact, over the past three-plus years, Saudi airstrikes have produced over 35,000 civilian casualties: over 13,000 killed and over 21,000 injured — many of which are women and children. This figure, recorded by Yemeni monitoring group Legal Center for Rights and Development, only includes stats from the 1,000-day mark of the war in December of 2017; countless others have lost their lives since then.

Alleged Saudi-led airstrike kills at least 43 people in Saada, Yemen - 09 Aug 2018
Yemeni children are treated at a hospital after being injured in an airstrike in the northern province of Saada. (Photo: LA Times)

The fact that the focus of the Saudi attacks are in the north, Saada in particular, is significant since the majority of all northerners in Yemen are Zaydis, a branch of Shi’ite Islam, and this includes, but is not limited to, the Houthis. The coalition also has and air and naval blockade that stops and inspects vessels seeking entry to Yemen’s ports. That allows the coalition to regulate and restrict Yemenis’ access to food, fuel, medical supplies and humanitarian aid. While attacking and starving out northerners it allows some humanitarian aid to the south (where the Sunnis predominate). This is nothing more than religious cleansing, punishing millions for their rejection of  Wahabbi branch of Islam in Saudi Arabia. An example of this was the bombardment by Saudi warplanes on August 8, 2019, on school bus in Saudi as it was passing through a crowded marketplace. The Saudis killed 50 civilians, mostly schoolchildren under ten, wounded 77 others — President Trump did not condemn the Saudis saying that they did not have the knowledge on how to use the US-made bombs.

This past May Trump declared a national emergency threatening American security to complete the sale of over $8 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia. Citing tensions with Iran, Trump bypassed the 1976 Arms Export Control Act, in which the State Department must notify Congress 30 days before concluding an arms sale. In a 53-45 bi-partisan vote, the Senate rejected Trump’s claim that an “emergency” situation exists in Saudi Arabia so as to halt American support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen; Trump vetoed the legislation.

Trump rightfully wants to curtail Iran’s influence in the region, especially since the Iranian regime has the capacity to develop nuclear weapons. However, as Ron Paul had stated: “We are told that US foreign policy should reflect American values. So how can Washington support Saudi Arabia — a tyrannical state with one of the worst human rights record on earth — as it commits by what any measure is a genocide against the Yemeni people?” Trump, like Obama, could soon have the blood of tens of thousands of children on his hands in light that he is carrying out the exact Obama policy in Yemen. As Theo Horesh, author of The Holocaust We All Deny, express: “How this came about and what it means for the moral integrity of American culture may be the most neglected story of our time.” It is time that the United States cease its support for Saudi Arabia and find other means, which it can, to end the conflict that is exterminating an entire population.

ISIS Defeated – Think Again!

ISIS head Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi as he appeared in a May 2019 video. Will there be an ISIS 2.0?

ISIS leader and self-styled calif Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead. During a raid by U.S. Special Operations forces on a compound in northern Syria where Baghdadi was hiding out, Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and three of his children he had dragged into a tunnel where he was cornered by U.S. special forces and their attack dogs.
U.S. President Trump gave details of the two-hour raid in a speech to the nation in which he praised the U.S. forces as the best in the world.

Americans elected Donald Trump with the hope that he could drain the swamp. For many of us it includes bringing a halt to the threat of Islamism—terrorism and the Islamic infiltration that seeks to eliminate our freedom of speech and exercise of religion—which transcends any ethnic or cultural attachment to one’s native land. However, the US-led strikes against ISIS and training of Middle East and African countries to fight Islamic extremism has not only prolonged the fighting; it has inadvertently brought ISIS fighters and their Islamist doctrine inside the Western home front.

American policy for years in the Middle East, however, has failed to address the root of the problem, which is an anthropological and political one: the Islamization of society. Instead of clamping down on the Wahabbi diffusion of the Saudis and naming the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, it has thus far pursued a realpolitik approach. Far be it for me to place myself in the role of the Chief Executive or the statesmen who make decisions for us, but we have limited ourselves to sustaining economic ties with (rogue) Islamic nations so long as they comply in carrying out military operations against ISIS and its affiliates. This only creates tribal factions, as with the Sri Lankan bombings.

There is also a lack of strategy as to how to reconstruct ISIS-held areas after its eventual defeat. For example, part of the Popular Mobilization Forces, who have helped in the fight against ISIS, are composed of members of Hash’d al-Sha’bi, a predominately Shi’ite paramilitary unit. Since half of the PMF fought against the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, they have been dogged by allegations of war crimes and human rights violations. Are they going to have a future political role in the region?

Despite certain inconsistencies, Trump has displayed more constancy in fighting Islamic radicalism than his predecessors. The most important one, I hold, associating the terrorism carried out by Muslims to their religion: Islamic extremism. He has imposed a line of new sanctions on an Iranian-backed terror organization, Hezbollah, and its top allies in the Hamas movement operating in the Gaza Strip, as well as the Islamic Liwaa al-Thawra, which assassinated Egyptian General Adel Ragai in 2016, and the Hasm Islamists, who killed other Egyptian national security figures. Trump has also taken on some nongovernmental organizations that have at least indirectly aided Islamic terrorists, such as his decision to withhold $65 million of a planned $125 million funding installment to UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine, specifically $45 million pledged to the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). The Saudi-backed Hamas has been carrying out military training for UNRWA UNRWA children: they are given “machine guns and schooled for war, while top Hamas officials on site encourage jihad, and lecture on the importance of taking back their villages — by force of arms.”

President Trump recently pulled out U.S. Special Forces (numbering between 50-100 personnel) from northern Syria making way for a Turkish invasion some 20-30 kilometers in from the border. While Turkey claims it needed a “safe zone” (i.e., a zone free from Kurdish fighters and civilians) to resettle Syrian refugees currently in Turkey, commentators pointed out there have been no terror attacks by Kurds against Turkey from the territory since 2012.

After the U.S.retreat, Turkey proceeded to attack Kurdish positions, even using chemical agentsagainst Kurdish civilians, including children. While the U.S. withdrawal from Syria has drawn mixed reviews across the political aisle, both the withdrawal and the death of Baghdadi raises the question of whether the events will give rise to ISIS 2.0. At present, the U.S. announced that it will send armored vehicles and combat troops into eastern Syria to secure oil fields from being taken over by ISIS. (Meanwhile, Russia, which is using the American withdrawal to gain prominent in the region, has already accused the U.S. troops of stealing massive amounts of oil from the fields.)

Most importantly, the announcement that the U.S. will secure the oil fields comes with another U.S. revelation that more than 100 ISIS prisoners have already escaped since the Kurds were forced to abandon prisons where they were guarding ISIS fjihadis and fight for their lives against the Turks. The U.S. negotiated a ceasefire allowing the remaining Kurdish fighters to withdraw from the area. When it comes to projection of ISIS 2.0, a worst case scenario would see more ISIS prisoners and ISIS families on the loose due to the American and Kurdish withdrawal. There are an estimated 10,000 ISIS fighters and 100,000 ISIS family members that could potential melt back into the region or escape to their countries of origin.

The truth of the matter is that persuading the public that atrocities carried out by Muslims are spontaneous and not contrived from Islamic texts has only aided, as the mainstream media, most politicians, and many churchmen argue, Islamists in their collective crusade to achieve a sharia-based global community. As Ayaan Hirsi Ali explained, “The West is ‘obsessed’ with terror and this makes it blind to the broader threat of the dawa, ‘Islamic proselytizing:’ the ideology behind the terror attacks.” Tackling Islamic jihad will not be one by killing off terrorists, but by getting to the root of the problem: Islam, i.e., the religious tenet of Allah and his terrorist Prophet Muhammad.

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Any quotes sources not cited may be found in my book Islam: Religion of Peace? The Violation of Natural Rights and Western Cover-Up.

 

Islam: A Backward Theology

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A teenager was given 50 lashes with a cane in front of a crowd for breaking sharia law in the Aceh Province of Indonesia. Her crime was spending time with a man. (Photo: Getty Images)

At the turn of the twenty-first century, especially after the 9/11 tragedies, studies and policy debate on Islam and Muslim societies has come to focus substantially on Islam’s ability to attract young Muslims towards anti-Western infrastructure and the its concept of human rights. As a result, many Muslim apologists have sought to dispel Islamic militancy, as well as the general socio-economic and political stagnation experienced in some Muslim societies, to Islamic theological or legal dictates arguing that political Islam can coexist in the free world. This was advocated by Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, stated in June 2015, when she stated: “I am not afraid to say that political should be part of the picture. Religion plays a role in politics — not always for good, not always for bad. Religion can be part of the process. What makes the difference is whether the process is democratic or not… The fear of the other can only lead us to new conflicts.” The truth of the tale is that as Kemal Mustafa Atatürk, the founder of the modern Turkey, sustained Islam is “a theology of an immoral Arab” [emphasis my own]. And while “it might have suited tribes of nomads in the desert,” it was vitiated by its sharia-based antiquated structure, thereby being counterproductive for a modern and developing state.

It was political stagnation and incongruity that Atatürk fought against and changed after the Turkish War of Independence (1919–1923). “For nearly five hundred years,” Atatürk maintained, “these [Islamic] rules and theories of an Arab Shaikh and the interpretations of generations of lazy and good-for-nothing [sheiks or imams] have decided the civil and criminal law of Turkey.” Referring to the Ottoman Empire, he added it that held that was “a crazy structure based upon broken religious foundations.”

Democracy In Islam by Abdur-Raheem Green
(Photo: Public Domain)

Apologists believe in the coexistence of the Islamic religion and Western society is possible, or that Islamic states can accept and develop a healthy democracy, safeguarding and promoting rights based on equity. This thesis is manifesting itself in an ever more insistent manner by virtue of today’s interreligious dialogue between the Vatican and the various representatives of the political-Islamic body. Their point of reference is, in part, the aforementioned Turkish model, which is represented by a form of republican, democratic and secular state, with a majority Muslim population. The irony of the story is that Atatürk, who was convinced that the progress of Turkey depended on the separation between civil and religious law. That is why he abolished the caliphate — already united to the office of the sultan from 1577 — of Abdülmecid II in 1924, with the complete ouster of “political Islam” and with the refusal of any dialogue with their religious authorities.

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The first picture shows Afghan women (or possible Irani, according to some sources) happily walking down a street, free to show their faces and live their lives. The juxtaposed picture shows a group of women in burqas, restrictive garments that the Taliban forced them to wear with threats of beatings, imprisonment, and even death. – (Photo: al-Jazeera.com)

This helps us understand that Islam was historically born as a political-religious community in which there were neither institutions, nor clergy, nor governmental offices, since the Prophet Mohammed was the only depositary and interpreter of a divine and transcendent law that governed all human activities. The Islamic community then evolved, simultaneously constituting a political-juridical structure and an institutionalized set of religious mandates, which resulted in a theocratic nation. As the head of a monocratic state, the Prophet issued regulations that made the political body inseparable from the imposed religion. Those who wished to be members of the Islamic community were forced to accept the doctrine of Muhammad with a profession of faith to stay alive; in short, they necessarily had to become and remain Muslims. Any separation from the only recognized religion would be taken as a betrayal of the political community that was built on that religion.

Matara stands with her two boys next to a sink without water in her home in South Riyadh.
Matara stands with her two boys next to a sink without water in her home in South Riyadh. – (Photo: Lynsey Addario—Getty Images Reportage for TIME)

Atatürk’s foresight cannot be altogether dismissed, given that at present, so many Muslims living in Islamic countries live below the poverty line, despite nations such as Saudi Arabia possessing enormous natural resources. Barring few exceptions, the 57-Islamic member-states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) — the self-proclaimed voice for all Muslims in the world — remain economically underdeveloped; their education system is also equally dismal. Research shows that the literacy rate of the average OIC adult between the years 1999 and 2008 was 70.2%, which is almost 10 percent lower than the world average of 79.6%; a 2018 report from Tunisa showed that half of the global poverty is to be found in the Muslim world. Unlike the People’s Republic of China, whose solid infrastructure enabled it to build “one of the best education systems in the world, [raising] hundreds of millions of people out of poverty through sheer hard work, not just with the good luck of having ample natural resources,” Islamic nations have done the opposite. 

Western officials remain reticent in publicly admitting that Islam under sharia law discourages any proper development of human rights, such as freedom of speech and of religion, or that it fails to recognize the equality between man and woman. Even in so-called pro-Western countries like Jordan, despite recent efforts to give women better protections, Amnesty Intonational said in a new report published last week that Jordan still allows the arbitrary detention of women, including when male family members — usually fathers or brothers — complain to the authorities that they have been absent without permission. Let us also not forget that Islam also justifies illegitimate use of force and condones domestic violence, as well as pre-pubescent marriages and slavery.

Erdogan’s Crimes Against Humanity Continue To Go Unpunished

Trump lifted sanctions on Turkey despite its reported use of chemical weapons. Shown here a man injured while entering the Syria border town of Ras al-Ayn during a ceasefire (Photo: DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Trump lifted sanctions on Turkey despite its reported use of chemical weapons. Shown here a man injured while entering the Syria border town of Ras al-Ayn during a ceasefire (Photo: DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Just days after reports that the Turks are using chemical weapons against the Kurds — including Kurdish civilian populations, President Trump announced that the US will lift the sanctions on Turkey he imposed over Turkey’s operation against the Kurds in northern Syria due to the promise of a “permanent” ceasefire. Multiple sources have reported that the chemical weapons were dropped in the border town of Ras al-Ayn after images and video surfaced of civilians, including children, suffering gruesome chemical burns, reports Newsweek. This would not be the first time that Erdogan has been accuesd of using projectiles carrying poisonous gas in Syria.

To date, the US has not held the Turks responsible for the reported use of white phosphorous, a devastating burning agent prohibited by Protocol III of the Convention on the Prohibition of Use of Certain Conventional Weapons, much less violations of previous ceasefires. Not to mention, the American government also refuses to acknowledge the Armenian genocide under the Turks during Word War I. Is this just merely something of the past? Has Erdogan been observing humanitarian norms? It would seem quite the contrary as to his Ottoman-style of ethnic cleansing.

See photos of children burned by the chemical weapons – Warning graphic

In June 2017, under the surveillance of President Erdogan of President Erdogan, the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs (the Diyanet) seized control of at least fifty Syrian churches, monasteries, and cemeteries in the Mardin province. This liquidation committee, established in 2012 with the task to confiscate and redistribute property of institutions whose legal entity had expired, denied that it had carried out the aforementioned raid as a result of religious discrimination. Such enforcement of norms, however, reflects the same jihadist system imposed by the Ottoman Turks.

Erdogan had aleady permitted foreign jihadists to cross into Syria at the start of the war in 2011. It was also reported in 2015 that his daughter, Sumeyye, ran a hospital located in the southeastern Turkish city of Sanliurfa to help injured ISIS militants. Since last year Erdogan has also employed al-Qaeda and Islamic State militants along with his troops in the 2018 takeover of Afrin, where 300,000 Christians, Yazidis, and Kurds were displaced. According to a high ranking member of the Syriac Democratic Federation, Abdulrahman Hassan: “Our heritage was attacked, the city was destroyed. Villages were plundered, women and girls were taken hostage, men are missing. Also several churches were destroyed and church members arrested.”

Returning to the current situation of the Kurds, the Voice of America — a US government-funded state owned multimedia agency which serves as the United States federal government’s official institution for non-military, external broadcasting — reported on January 23, 2019, of Erdogan’s plan was to resettle three million or more refugees from other parts of Syria in this “security zone” extending twenty miles deep into Syria. Twenty miles may not sound much, but — the VOA omitted to mention — almost all the Kurdish towns of northeastern Syria lie within that area. So Erdogan’s intention to annihilate the Kurdish presence in that area and replace it with others has been manifest ever since the beginning of 2019.

The substance was reportedly dropped in bombs by Turkish forces on the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ayn. Instead, Trump announced that because Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised a “permanent” ceasefire, the sanctions would be lifted.

The above photo unfortunately shows what a ceasefire means to Turkey, as the man in the picture was injured entering  Ras al-Ayn during an agreed upon “ceasefire.” Although Trump said the sanctions would be reinstated if “something happens that we’re not happy with,” it remains to be seen if Turkey will comply. Moreover, will the Turkish-backed Syrian militias who joined the Turks in their operation against the Kurds will be held to the same standard? The Turkish-sponsored militias also failed to adhere to previous ceasefires and were responsible for horrific war crimes against the Kurds, including the murder of well-loved Kurdish-Syrian politician Hevrin Khalaf, 35, who they pulled out of her car and shot at point blank.

See video of the shooting – Warning graphic

As with the first ceasefire that the Turks celebrated as a victory — since they were able to accomplish all of their goals (i.e., taking over a 30-kilometer (19-mile) “safe zone” inside Syria and cleanse the area of Kurds, who they view as their nemesis) — the lifting of American sanctions imposed on Turkish ministers will be seen as complete vindication of their actions.

That the Turks were able to strongarm the United States into abandoning its Kurdish allies and withdrawing from the area to facilitate a Turkish takeover of such a large swath of Syria is astonishing — especially considering the pretext of Erdogan’s offensive: to cleanse the area of “terrorists.” It must be noted that:

  • the Kurds have not launched a terror attack from the Syrian area that borders Turkey since 2012;
  • the Trump administration could lift its sanctions on Turkey with the awareness of Turkish war crimes in unconscionable.

The same day the sanctions on Turkey were lifted, US Special Representative for Syria Engagement Jim Jeffrey told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the America was aware of acts of war crimes in northern Syria.

Using the classic technique of doublespeak, when asked if the US is “aiding and abetting ethnic cleansing,” Jeffry answered, “We haven’t seen any widespread ethnic cleansing in that area since the Turks have come in. Many people fled because they’re very concerned about these Turkish-supported Syrian opposition forces.

“We’ve seen several incidents which we consider war crimes, but we have, as part of the agreement with a Turkey, specific language on the proper care of civilians and our monitoring responsibility that we have to work with the Turks to ensure that exactly that doesn’t happen in that area.”

Why cannot the “agreement” apply to those who “chose” to flee or the men, women, and children who were already bombed, shot at, and burned by the use of chemical weapons? Much has been made of the fact that the number of the American troops Trump withdrew from the area (which made way for the Turkish invasion) amounted to only between 50-100 individuals. Yet, those special forces, who were not specifically in harm’s way, were enough to hold back Turkey’s fanatical Islamist ruler Erdogan from sending in his army to decimate the Kurds.

It is tragic to think of the death, permanent injuries, and displacement of both adults and children — steadfast American allies that fought by our side defeating ISIS — that could have been prevented had Trump made a different decision. The point to be made is that the American presence in the northeast Syria served as a “buffer-zone” to prevent any Turkish incursions — Trump fails to recognize the role of US maintenance of worldwide peace. Notwithstanding that the past that cannot be changed, it is still not too lated for Washington to take serious measures against a Turkish tyrant who seeks only to reinstate a sharia-based society that even calls for our own extermination.

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N. B. The reader, unless otherwise noted, is advised that substance of this article relies almost exclusively on Meira Svirsky’s Trump Lifts Sanctions on Turkey Despite War Crimes published by the Clarion Project on October 24, 2019.

Was Slavery in Christian Society the Same as it still is in Islam?

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Martyrdom of Saints Felicity and Perpetua.  Felicity was a slave in her third trimester of pregnancy. Perpetua was a Roman noblewoman who was still nursing her child. (Image – www.denvercatholic.org)

In response to certain critiques on social media on my post The Ongoing Slavery in the Islamic World in that Christians equally approved the practice of slavery, I offer some clarifications. This issue is not uncontested in sacred scripture, the New Testament in particular, which not only acknowledged the institution of slavery but instructed slaves to be obedient to their masters “just as [they] would obey Christ” (Ephesians 6:5). 

There cannot be any denying that the early Christian church accepted the reality of the Roman institution of slavery as a tolerable wrong, as can be concluded by Saint Paul’s counseling slaves to obey their masters rather than rebel. Two things, however, must be stated: The first is that slaves in both Old and New Testaments were not considered property, as with Islam, for they were neither forced into inhumane living conditions nor were they meant to be used for sexual gratification. Just as it was for Aristotle, slavery according to the sharia is not only legitimate but natural to some people, specifically non-Muslims who are kidnapped or captured in raids. 

Second, there was a moral objective in that despite its juridical legitimacy, those who were enslaved were to be seen as equals in the eyes of God: “There is no Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free… for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). From this principle, aside from the fact that slaves could be part of Christ’s evangelization, St. Paul does not draw any political conclusions. It was not his desire, as it was not in his power, to ensure Christian equality either by force or by revolt. Christianity accepts society as it is, though it does not concur with injustice, which is why it called for its transformation through individual souls. 

The mere fact that there was a tolerance of slavery on the part of early church did not mean that it advocated its practice. In fact, the preaching of many church fathers against slavery was part of the Christian teaching that influenced civil legislation down through the centuries of Christendom to abrogate it. St. Augustine described slavery as being against God’s intention and resulting from sin. By the early 4th century, the manumission in the church, a form of emancipation, was added in the roman law. Slaves could be freed by a ritual in a church, performed by a christian bishop or priest. It is not known if baptism was required before this ritual. Subsequent laws, as the Novella 142 of Justinian, gave to the bishops the power to free slaves. 

Although representatives of the Catholic church have at times publicly stated that servitude (and not slavery) — the Latin documents use servus = servant and not schiavus = slave; the servus (serf) in the Middle Ages enjoyed all his personal rights except the right to leave the land he cultivated and the right to freely dispose of his property — is a just punishment, it was in reaction to those who were caught aiding the Saracens’ slaughter of Christians. That being said, just like the early abolition movement in America began to take form, Roman Catholic statements also became increasingly vehement against slavery during this era. In 1741 Pope Benedict XIV (1740-1758) condemned of slavery generally; in 1815 Pope Pius VII (1800-1823) demanded of the Congress of Vienna the suppression of the slave trade; in the proclamation of the canonization of Peter Claver, one of the most illustrious adversaries of slavery, Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) branded the summum nefas (supreme villainy) of the slave traders.

How Christian slavers used the Bible to advocate slavery is one thing. The advocacy of slavery in Islam is a completely different issue, for it has always been an essential part of Islamic law and tradition, despite the fact that Islamic states showed signs of adaptability to Western civilization in outlawing it.