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Friday, July 12, 2024

Imran Khan's party's presence in parliament gains strength months after the elections

    Friday, July 12, 2024   No comments

Pakistan's Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the party of jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan is eligible for 23 additional seats in parliament, adding pressure on the country's weak coalition government.

Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party ran as independents in the Feb. 8 election after being barred from taking part, and won the most seats, but the Election Commission said independents were ineligible for the 70 seats reserved for political parties only.

On Feb. 20, two major parties, the military-backed Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), announced they had reached a power-sharing deal that would return Shehbaz Sharif to the premiership after this month's election failed to produce a clear winner.

The committee ordered the reserved seats to be distributed to other parties, most of which belonged to the ruling coalition parties.

The reallocation of the 23 reserved seats does not affect the parliamentary majority of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s coalition government, but the decision strengthens the political position of Khan’s supporters, who have accused the Election Commission and the interim government that oversaw the elections of rigging the elections to deny them victory.

Under Pakistani electoral rules, 70 seats are allocated to parties, 60 to women and 10 to non-Muslims, in proportion to the number of seats won by each party. This brings the total number of seats in the National Assembly to 336.

Khan was ousted from power in 2022 after falling out with the country’s powerful military leaders, while the military denies interfering in the country’s politics.

It is noteworthy that Imran Khan has been behind bars since August 2023, after he was arrested by the police, as he faces long sentences on corruption charges, but he says there are political motives behind the charges, aimed at removing him from power.


Thursday, July 11, 2024

Why the US and West are losing the Rest?

    Thursday, July 11, 2024   No comments

Citing international law and invoking the claim of self-defense against occupation forces, US and the West stood by Ukraine providing it with military, political and economic support to defend itself from what the West describes as an act of aggression by Russian occupation forces.  Just this week it was reported that the first batch of United States-built F-16 fighter jets are being transferred to Ukraine; that is according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who revealed the development as world leaders pledge continued support for Kyiv at a NATO summit in Washington DC.

❝Those jets will be flying in the skies of Ukraine this summer to make sure that Ukraine continue to effectively defend itself.❞ US Secretary of State announcing that F-16 fighter jets from Denmark and the Netherlands are on their way to Ukraine 

With total lack of awareness of how hypocritical that position is, during the same time, it was reported that the Biden administration has resumed shipping 500-pound bombs to Israel, according to unnamed US official quoted by media outlets on Wednesday. Given the level of destruction and death that these weapons are causing, this makes the US administration complicit in the Israeli war crimes against Palestinian civilians in Gaza by providing the Israeli military with heavy bombs which are being used against residential areas in Gaza.

Israel has committed heinous atrocities against civilians during its ongoing genocide in Gaza for over nine months. These accusations of war crimes and illegal acts in occupied territories are not just the findings of human rights organization, independent investigators, the ICC investigators, UN experts, and even members of the US military, including some in the US Defense Intelligence service;  the criminal acts are documented and reported by Israeli soldiers themselves, as reported by Israeli media reports and as posted on social media by Israeli troops who are committing these atrocities.

Some in the West started to see the hypocrisy of Western leaders, they categorize it as "double-standard" instead of willful disregard to the rights of non-Western peoples. For instance, the Spanish PM seems to realize the problem of seeing the West applying a 'double standards' over Gaza war. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has called on Western countries not to adopt a policy of “double standards” regarding the wars in Ukraine and Gaza. “If we tell our people that we support Ukraine because we defend international law, we must do the same with regard to Gaza,” Sanchez said at a NATO summit in Washington. He called for a consistent political position on the issue, without adopting a policy of double standards, noting the need to create conditions for an immediate and urgent ceasefire.

The West lost the moral high ground to invoke respect for human right, self-defense, and moral and legal imperatives. If Ukrainians are entitled to resisting occupation, so are the Palestinians. Therefore, if the West wants to be consistent and invoke the obligation to protect human rights, the West must provide Palestinians with military, political, and economic support the same way they are providing it to Ukrainians. Without this consistency, they West will be seen for what it is: a club of supremacists who put their interests above and beyond the basic needs of non-whites for life with dignity.

Monday, July 08, 2024

Media Review: Finnish President's article in The Economist, "the era of Western dominance as we know it is over"

    Monday, July 08, 2024   No comments

Finnish President Alexander Stubb has said that what we are witnessing today is in many ways equivalent to what happened in 1918, 1945 and 1989, and that the next few years will likely determine the world order, its balance and its dynamics for the rest of the century, or at least for decades to come.

In an article in The Economist, Stubb spoke of “moments in international relations when we know that the world is changing, but we don’t know exactly where it is heading,” stressing that “we are living in one of those moments when an era dies and a new one is born.”

The Finnish president noted in his article that “the things that were supposed to bring us together – trade, technology, energy, information and currency – are now tearing us apart.”

Stubb admitted that he was among many who believed that the end of the Cold War would mean the end of history, but that did not happen. The era of Western hegemony, as we used to know it, is over.

He believed that the question now is how global power will be shared in the future, while we are now witnessing a reorganization of the balance between three areas of power: the global West, the global East, and the Global South, stressing that this classification of the power triangle, if it constitutes an oversimplification, helps to clarify how the world is changing.

"West and East are fighting for hearts and minds in the South"

Stubb summed up the equation by saying that "West and East are fighting for hearts and minds in the South", attributing the matter to his realization that the South will decide the direction of the new world order.


Stubb believed that the West is mistaken if it imagines that the South will be attracted to it only because of what he called "the values ​​or power of freedom and democracy", and that the East is also mistaken if it imagines that huge infrastructure projects and direct financing will give it complete influence in the South.


The Finnish president concluded in his article that "it is ultimately a matter of values ​​and interests together", and that "the South will choose what it wants, because it can do so".


Stubb believed that the West must choose between continuing to believe in the illusion that it can remain dominant, as it has done for centuries, or accepting the facts of change and starting to act accordingly, especially towards the South.


Stubb stressed that Indian Foreign Minister Vinay Mohan Kwatra provided material worthy of thought when he pointed out that “Europe must get rid of the mentality that Europe’s problems are the world’s problems, but the world’s problems are not Europe’s problems.”


He pointed out that one of the reasons why the East is a more convincing partner for the South is related to the systematic infrastructure, financial and development programs that China is implementing around the world, describing China’s strategy as “successful.”


Stubb concluded his article by emphasizing that if the West “returns to its old ways of direct or indirect domination, or outright arrogance, it will lose the battle.”


Full destruction in the Shuja'iyya neighbourhood in the eastern Gaza Strip

    Monday, July 08, 2024   No comments

 


Aerial footage reveals the extent of the destruction in the Shuja'iyya neighbourhood in the eastern Gaza Strip after the latest Israeli ground attack.

Sunday, July 07, 2024

Turkish President announces readiness to extend an invitation to President Assad

    Sunday, July 07, 2024   No comments

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed on Sunday that "once Bashar al-Assad takes a step towards improving relations with Turkey, we will respond appropriately."


He continued in press statements: "We will extend our invitation to Assad, and with this invitation we want to return Turkish-Syrian relations to the same point they were in the past."

He added: "Our invitation can happen at any time."

The Turkish president added in his press statements: "Russian President Vladimir Putin has an approach regarding our meeting (with Assad) in Turkey, and Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has an approach. We are talking here about mediation, so what is wrong with it with our neighbor?"


On Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed that he could, in cooperation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, "extend an invitation" to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to start a new process of normalizing relations with Syria.


"I already said on Friday (last), after the Friday prayers, that we can start a new process (of normalizing relations) with Syria. We can invite Mr. Assad with Mr. Putin," Erdogan told reporters upon his arrival from Astana.


Erdogan added that Russian President Vladimir Putin's upcoming visit to Turkey could be the beginning of a new process of normalizing relations between Ankara and Damascus.


He commented: "If our honorable Mr. Putin can visit Turkey, this could be the beginning of a new process (of normalizing relations between Turkey and Syria). All the years that have passed in the Syrian arena have clearly shown everyone that it is necessary to create a mechanism for a permanent settlement. Syria, whose infrastructure has been destroyed and whose people have been scattered, must stand on its own feet and end the instability. The recent calm in this area can open the door to peace if wise policies and an approach to solving problems are adopted without bias."


Commenting on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's statements about normalizing relations between Syria and Turkey last week, Erdogan said that "there are no reasons not to establish diplomatic relations between the two countries," and according to him, "Ankara does not aim to interfere in Damascus' internal affairs." Assad had stated on June 26, during a meeting with the Russian President's special representative, Alexander Lavrentiev, that "Syria is open to all initiatives related to its relations with Turkey, which are based on respect for the country's sovereignty."

Previously, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad confirmed Syria's openness to all initiatives related to the relationship between Syria and Turkey, based on "the sovereignty of the Syrian state over all its territories on the one hand, and the fight against all forms of terrorism and its organizations on the other hand."


The Syrian presidency stated in a statement on its Telegram channel that "President al-Assad confirmed during his meeting with the special envoy of the Russian President, Alexander Lavrentiev, Syria's openness to all initiatives related to the relationship between Syria and Turkey, based on the sovereignty of the Syrian state over all its territories on the one hand, and the fight against all forms of terrorism and its organizations on the other hand, stressing that these initiatives reflect the will of the countries concerned to establish stability in Syria and the region in general."


Earlier, a Turkish newspaper reported, citing sources, that military delegations from Turkey and Syria, with Russian mediation, held talks at the Hmeimim air base, and another meeting is expected to be held in Baghdad.


The newspaper said: "In this regard, a meeting of military officials from the Turkish Armed Forces and the Syrian army was held at the Russian Hmeimim Air Base southeast of Latakia on June 11," and stated that "the meeting discussed the latest developments in and around Idlib province."


The first meeting of the foreign ministers of the four countries (Russia, Turkey, Iran, Syria) was held in Moscow on May 10, 2023. Based on its results, the ministers ordered the preparation of a draft roadmap for normalizing relations between Turkey and Syria.


Earlier, the Russian President's Special Representative for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, stated in an interview with Sputnik that Moscow had handed Ankara and Damascus a draft roadmap for normalizing relations between the two sides, indicating that they could make amendments to it.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has previously identified priority topics in the roadmap, which include restoring Syrian government control over all parts of the country, ensuring the security of the Syrian-Turkish border, and eliminating the possibility of cross-border attacks and terrorist infiltration.


Saturday, July 06, 2024

Iran’s elections: Change brings new opportunities for Iran's new president--Masoud Pezeshkian

    Saturday, July 06, 2024   No comments

Foreground:

Mere weeks after the tragic death of several Iranian officials including the president, Iran managed to elect a new president, while a caretaker government was headed by the vice president. The successful transition is only part of the story in a country with complex social fabric and complex relations with the world. What might be lost on many observers is the historical election of a president who represents ethnic and linguistic minorities in Iran.

Masoud Pezeshkian, born in 1954 in the city of Mahabad in West Azerbaijan Province, northeastern Iran to a deeply religious Shia family to parents of both Kurdish and Azeri background. He was raised in a religious family. He often speaks of being proud Turkish speaker. Now that he is elected president of Iran, he will be the first ethnic minority office holder in a region where Kurdish minorities are marginalized in all four countries-Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Iran. 

Being from Azerbaijan Province, he will be able to dial down the rhetoric among Azeris who are Shia in terms of faith but Turkic in terms of ethnicity. Having family connections to the Kurdish community, he will also be able to address the separatist activities with which all four countries have struggled since the end of direct colonial control of the region. His political activism in the movement that brought about the modern Islamic republic of Iran provide him with the credibility to work out change through the various institutions of power. In short, this election cycle might be as significant of a turning point as the one that took place 1981 when another Iranian president, Mohammad Ali Rajaʾi, was killed, and who was replaced Ali Khamenei, the current supreme leader.

Background: 

Pezeshkian completed his primary education in Mahabad, West Azerbaijan Province, and then joined the Agricultural Institute in Urmia, where he received a diploma in food industries.

 

He completed his military service in 1973 in the border city of Zabol, Sistan and Baluchestan Province, and after completing his service, he decided to become a doctor, and received his natural diploma in 1975. A year later, he was accepted into the medical field at Tabriz University of Medical Sciences.

 

With the start of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, Pezeshkian was responsible for sending medical teams to the battlefronts, and was active in many operations as a fighter and a doctor.

 

He completed his medical course in 1985, and began working at the Faculty of Medicine as a physiology teacher. In 1990, he received a specialty in general surgery from Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, and in 1993 he received a specialty in cardiac surgery from Iran University of Medical Sciences in Tehran, and was appointed to Shahid Madani Heart Hospital in Tabriz, and later became its head.

  

In 1994, he was appointed as the head of Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, and his presidency continued until 2000. Then he was transferred to Tehran and assumed the position of Deputy Minister of Health, Treatment and Medical Education for 6 months.

 

After that, in the second term of Mr. Mohammad Khatami's presidency, Pezeshkian assumed the position of Minister of Health, and after a while he was questioned by the parliament, and then he left his position. In 2013, he ran for president, but his candidacy was rejected by the Guardian Council. In 2016, he won a seat in the parliament and held a seat in parliament for many years. Since 2008, Pezeshkian has represented the city of Tabriz in the Iranian parliament.

 Pezeshkian believes that Iran's internal problems cannot be solved without solving problems with the outside world, and stresses that the country's management is based on constructive engagement with the world on the basis of dialogue and negotiation with various countries.

 Pezeshkian also calls for improving relations between Iran and Western countries, especially the United States, based on the three pillars of "dignity, wisdom, and interest."

 

He announced that he will put at the top of his government's priorities the revival of the nuclear agreement, which is in Iran's interest, and if it were not, former US President Donald Trump would not have withdrawn from it.

 Pezeshkian believes that it is in Iran's interest to join the "FATF" (Financial Action Task Force) in order to develop and facilitate trade with other countries.

 

Pezeshkian stressed that he will put an end to the differences between political forces, which he says are the "main cause of the country's problems," by seeking the help of the best experts and specialists.

 

He promised that he would follow up on the problems of workers, retirees and employees and work in a way that eliminates poverty, discrimination and corruption in the country, stressing the need to deal honestly with the public and not give empty promises, promising to involve the people in running the country and not a specific group.

 

He also promised to deal positively with women's issues, freedom of access to the Internet, constitutional rights of nationalities, and political and social freedoms.

 

Pezeshkian won the Iranian presidential elections after receiving 16,384,403 votes, compared to 13,538,179 votes for candidate Saeed Jalili, thus becoming the ninth elected president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, since the victory of the Islamic Revolution led by Imam Khomeini in 1979.

 

Friday, July 05, 2024

Media review: Gaza War, Famine, Israeli troops documenting themselves committing war crimes, and the terrifying war between Hezbollah and Israel

    Friday, July 05, 2024   No comments

Despite the consequential events happening around the world, Gaza remains the central issue driving the news for the ninth month. Even in national elections in France, UK, and Iran (and the US Nov. elections), candidates were forced to answer questions related to the war in Gaza, and in the UK, many candidates campaigned and won on a platform that put ending the suffering in Gaza on top of the list. Here are some news stories from this week.

Wednesday, July 03, 2024

Can knowledge be IP'ed? Mustafa Suleyman, the CEO of Microsoft’s new AI division, seems to think No.

    Wednesday, July 03, 2024   No comments

IA is another turning point in history, and its main impact may not be the kind of information IA will generate, but access to knowledge; it may put front and center the legal protections of content under patent and copyright laws that distinguished the modern civilization. This is the case because the civilization that preceded the Western civilization, the Islamic civilization, has always treated knowledge as an accretive body of knowledge that produced by all and belongs to none. The Islamic view can be gleaned from observing Muslim thinkers’ disinterest (or lack of care) in meticulous refencing and footnoting. They don’t claim they are the creator of ideas, and they don’t think anyone else had; knowledge is possible only when it is open and accessible so that it is checked and improved by the collective. Ibn Khaldun, the last classic thinker of the Islamic civilization closed his remarkable work, al-Muqaddima, by inviting future generation of thinkers to assess his and improve on it; not by taking credit for any ideas that he put forth to the exclusion of all the contributions of generations before him.


AI brings this matter front and center: AI depend on digital knowledge that it can process to provide answers. If that knowledge is shielded, AI potential will be limited. Here is a starting point for this conversation.

Mustafa Suleyman, the CEO of Microsoft’s new AI division, recently said in an interview with CNBC’s Andrew Ross that anything you publish on the internet becomes ‘freeware’ and that it can be copied and used to train AI models.

“With respect to content that is already on the open web, the social contract of that content since the 90s has been that it is fair use. Anyone can copy it, recreate with it, reproduce with it. That has been freeware, if you like. That’s been the understanding.”

Tuesday, July 02, 2024

12 US officials who resigned denounce Biden's policy towards Gaza

    Tuesday, July 02, 2024   No comments

Twelve US government officials who resigned over the Biden administration’s stance on the war in Gaza have issued a joint statement denouncing Biden’s Gaza policy, which they said has failed and poses a threat to US national security.

The statement added that the current crisis illustrates the damage that the current US policy in Gaza is causing to the Palestinians, Israel, and US national security.

The statement considered that the US diplomatic cover for Israel and the ongoing flow of weapons are undeniable complicity in the killing and starvation of the besieged Palestinian population in Gaza.

The statement also said that this stubborn policy threatens the United States and the lives of its soldiers and diplomats, as was evident in the killing of 3 US service members in Jordan last January.

The statement stressed that this policy severely undermines the credibility of the United States around the world.

The officials who signed the statement are:

Maryam Hassanein, who was a special assistant at the Department of Interior, quit her job on Tuesday. She slammed Biden's foreign policy, describing it as "genocide-enabling" and dehumanizing toward Arabs and Muslims. Israel denies genocide allegations.

Mohammed Abu Hashem, a Palestinian American, said last month he ended a 22-year career in the U.S. Air Force. He said he lost relatives in Gaza in the ongoing war, including an aunt killed in an Israeli air strike in October.

Riley Livermore, who was a U.S. Air Force engineer, said in mid-June that he was leaving his role. "I don't want to be working on something that can turn around and be used to slaughter innocent people," he told the Intercept news website.

Stacy Gilbert, who served in the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, left in late May. She said she resigned over an administration report to Congress that she said falsely stated Israel was not blocking humanitarian aid to Gaza.


Alexander Smith, a contractor for USAID, quit in late May, opens new tab, alleging censorship after the U.S. foreign aid agency canceled publication of his presentation on maternal and child mortality among Palestinians. The agency said it had not gone through proper review and approval.


Lily Greenberg Call, a Jewish political appointee, resigned in May, having served as a special assistant to the chief of staff in the Interior Department. "As a Jew, I cannot endorse the Gaza catastrophe," she wrote in the Guardian, opens new tab.


Anna Del Castillo, a deputy director at the White House's Office of Management and Budget, departed in April and became the first known White House official to leave the administration over policy toward Gaza.


Hala Rharrit, an Arabic language spokesperson for the State Department, departed her post in April in opposition to the United States' Gaza policy, she wrote on her LinkedIn page.


Annelle Sheline resigned from the State Department's human rights bureau in late March, writing in a CNN article, opens new tab that she was unable to serve a government that "enables such atrocities."


Tariq Habash, a Palestinian American, quit as special assistant in the Education Department's office of planning in January. He said the Biden administration was turning a "blind eye" to atrocities in Gaza.


Harrison Mann, a U.S. Army major and Defense Intelligence Agency official, resigned in November over Gaza policy and went public with his reasons in May.


Josh Paul, director of the State Department's bureau of political military affairs, left in October in the first publicly known resignation, citing what he described as Washington's "blind support" for Israel.


Background: Israel launched its offensive in Gaza after Hamas fighters stormed settlements on the other side of the security fence built by Israel to blockade the Strip on 7 October. The attack resulted in the killing of about 1,200 people and detaining of 250 soldiers and civilians.

However, over time, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance factions.

Meanwhile, the US officials finally acknowledged that Israel has been using Palestinians as human shield; yet, they refuse to call for independent investigation.


US State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel tells reporters that they have seen disturbing reports about the Israeli military using civilians as human shields.


He said the US calls Israel again to quickly investigate and ensure accountability for any violations.

He added that the Israeli army had said that it is investigating the video and that it does not reflect its values because it is a violation of its orders and procedures.




Media Review: The key to calm with Lebanon is in Gaza, and Israeli plans to divide the Strip

    Tuesday, July 02, 2024   No comments

International newspapers and news websites have highlighted Israeli plans to divide the Gaza Strip into separate security zones, the repercussions of an open war between Israel and Lebanon if it breaks out, and the way to calm down on that front.

The American newspaper "Wall Street Journal" spoke about Israeli plans to divide the Gaza Strip into islands and separate security zones in which unsuspecting Palestinians live, allowing the Israeli army to move freely.

The newspaper indicated that retired Israeli officers, academics, and politicians participated in formulating these ideas, and pointed out that these plans reveal harsh facts, including that the Palestinians may remain besieged indefinitely in narrow areas of the Strip.

An Israeli soldier posted this footage of a tortured Palestinian youth they kidnapped from Rafah City: "Flies are attracted to excrement."

In turn, the French newspaper "Le Monde" discussed Britain's efforts to prevent the International Criminal Court from issuing arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Defense Minister Yoav Galant.

The newspaper wondered about London's intentions in doing so and whether it was a maneuver to buy time, noting that Attorney General Karim Khan's request to issue an arrest warrant for Netanyahu and Galant was not welcomed in Western capitals, especially Washington.

While the National Interest website believes that all the scenarios proposed between the Lebanese Hezbollah and Israel indicate that war has become inevitable, the website quoted writer Alexandre Langlois warning that if war breaks out, it will drag the United States into it and destroy the entire Middle East.

Meanwhile, the Swiss newspaper Le Temps editorial said that the key to calm in Lebanon lies in Gaza, explaining that the war between Israel and Hezbollah seems imminent, but the solution to avoid it is also clear, which is to put an end to the war in Gaza.

The newspaper added that the Americans know this and are trying to bypass Netanyahu in favor of his political rival Yoav Galant, and the Europeans are also aware of this but are content with warning their citizens of the dangers, according to the newspaper.

A report by the Washington Post also addressed the conditions of the Palestinians in Gaza who were able to flee to Egypt, and said that they survived the war but are unable to build a future for themselves, adding that most of them live in a state of confusion without a clear legal status and without hope of reaching another destination.

Regarding the situation in the West Bank, an investigation published by the New York Times revealed the great panic and terror that Palestinians are subjected to at the hands of settlers, noting that this violence, unlike what is prevalent in many parts of the world, is supported by the state and carried out with American weapons.

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