Define the Holocaust, explain why it happened.
Why focus on Jews?
The most important events of the Holocaust
The importance of the event and the reaction of the Arabs
What we learned from the Holocaust.
Define the Holocaust, explain why it happened.
It turned out to be true. It was the most disgusting capricious report one could imagine, so much not only I but also so many other Syrian activists could not believe it, but it turned out to be true. Al-Sisi, the Wankertator of Egypt, and the jaundiced junta supporting him, did in fact hoist this attached banner in the streets of Cairo.
The banner shows smiling Al-Sisi sporting his military uniform standing next to a child waving at the dead body of Aylan, the Syrian Kurdish child who drowned off the cast of Turkey in September 2015, and whose death brought international attention to the plight of Syrian refugees, at least for a few weeks, before governments decided to ignore it again. The text accompanying the banner said: “A child who lost his army.”
For those who don’t get how macabre this gesture is, bear in mind that Aylan and his family were trying to escape the violent and bloody repression of the Assad regime’s army, the army that was to be protecting them, when their boat overturned and they drowned. Al-Sisi’s people are standing the truth on its head in order to justify their repression at home and their support of the maniacal regime of Bashar Al-Assad.
There is something so macabre and anathematic about dictators’ continued existence in this day and age, something that poisons the soul and militates against one’s own sense of humanity. No justification works anymore. They are neither father figures, nor modernizers, nor peacemakers, but maniacal ravishers and a deadly plague. Yes, they have some popular support, but some people are willing to make peace with cancer knowing that they would die of it, but, no matter what they think, they have no right to kill the rest of us. Because this particular cancer does not discriminate. This applies to Al-Sisi’s supporters as well as those of his earlier Islamist iteration: Mursi, the little horsy that couldn’t deceive enough people for a long enough time to sacralize his Islamist agenda in the form of a constitution.
Being critical of both sides of Egypt’s malaise wins me no admirers neither in Egyptian or Syrian circles. Some Syrians expect me to support Mursi and oppose Al-Sisi based on their positions towards the Syrian conflict, not their overall policies and worldview. But no can do.
When Al-Sisi mounted his coup, I was sad and wrote something like this on Facebook page: this is what the Muslim Brotherhood’s blind hubris managed to accomplish – it facilitate a return to military rule. I don’t support coup d’état’s but I cannot support religious autocracy, even if its wannabe founders came as a result of a popular vote. Indeed, the inability to understand that winning an election does not entitle one to rule as he and his party pleased, refashioning the state in their image and according to their particularistic vision, this inability does emanate from wishful stupidity but from willful blindness and Machiavellian machinations. Willingness to compromise is the only way out of this crisis, but many people cannot handle compromise it seems, and nuance is not something that they are used to. To them, I cannot be against Al-Sisi’s coup and not for MB. I am either for this side, or that side. And being with a side means treating its representatives as heroes. And our heroes are always saints, our villains perfectly villains, the ones inside and the ones outside. And our victimhood, for we are victims after all, we must be victims seeing how weak and insignificant we are, there is no denying this, not by any stretch of the imagination, our victimhood is always a perfect undeserved one, one to which we did absolutely nothing to contribute. It’s always the other’s fault: the others inside, and the others outside. That makes all of us guilty, therefore, none of us is.
So, here it is Egypt a victim of terrorism, but that infamous recent terrorist attack didn’t happen. This is probably why Egypt needs to maintain its position on the list of worst offenders against journalists.
Obama has ignored Syria for too long: it’s the rise of Isis, stupid – now help
It’s time for him to do the right thing by arming moderate rebels, imposing a no-fly zone and expanding military action beyond Iraq
Barack Obama is embarking on a global course correction, if not an outright reversal: the policy of “don’t do stupid stuff” – the non-interventionism so praised by the Farid Zakarias and Tom Friedmans of the world – is getting forced out, albeit in the typical Obama fashion of admitting nothing and never going fast or far enough.
And to hear the Chuck Hagels and John Kerrys of the administration tell the story for him, it’s all the fault of the Islamic State (Isis), which is “beyond just a terrorist group”, “an organization that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision and which will eventually have to be defeated” – a feat which, realistically, will require some intervention not just in Iraq … but in Syria.
It’s difficult to do the right thing when you’ve already fucked up so badly. When the Obama administration refused to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria in 2011, the indifference gave rise to despair and forced people to abandon their nonviolent ways to defend themselves, effectively transforming the nonviolent protest movement into an armed resistance. Obama’s refusal to then support the rebels following the advice of his then-secretary of state, among other officials, created a vacuum that was gradually filled by extremist elements emerging out of the woodwork and jihadists pouring across the borders, a combination that paved the way for the emergence of the newly troubling and feared Isis.
Now, Isis has a vision being carried out – effectively, if with pure evil – by technocratic leaders with succession plans, flexible but enduing structures, and major funding, with major operations based out of its hub in Syria. Soon, some of its acolytes might make like Hezbollah and run legitimate businesses across multiple countries that secretly fund terror; some already appear to be attracted to the radicalized appeal of Isis leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi declaring a new Caliphate.
No wonder Obama is finding it so difficult to justify a policy of minimal engagement anymore – perhaps even to himself. Blanket, cold-hearted realism doesn’t work when networked, cold-hearted terrorism does. The line between realism and cynicism has always been too thin, and has long been crossed by the Administration. While realism is laudable, cynicism ends up producing the very outcomes that realism intends to avoid. Letting a region take care of itself is impossible to allow when your spies are telling you about the rise of a terror group across the world, including the West – of terrorists that are effectively becoming a global movement of disaffected Muslims everywhere.
Some “realists” are advocating cooperation with Bashar al-Assad. But that wouldn’t just being doing “stupid stuff” – it would be downright delusional, since cooperating with dictators who abuse their own people is exactly what gives rise to extremist anti-Western movements.
The only way for Obama to stop doing stupid stuff with his foreign policy is to arm moderate rebels in Syria, to bomb Isis bases in both Syria and Iraq and to finally impose a no-fly zone on the Assad regime. This combination of tactics could allow the Syrian opposition – which has thus far been unable to govern the liberated areas due to Assad’s use of aerial strikes, including barrel bombs, scud missiles, and, on occasion, chemical weapons and poison gas – to move in and work with the local councils to begin returning the basic services to the local communities, bringing a measure of relief to the local civilian population. Imposing a no-fly zone also avoids having to supply advanced weapons to rebels, including TOW missiles and MANPADs, thus minimizing the risk of having them end up in the wrong hands. Still, the opposition will have its work cut out for it in terms of ensuring effective governance of the areas under their control, especially when it comes to reaching agreements between Islamist and secularist currents. But by controlling the flow of humanitarian aid and the funds required for the reconstruction processes, the administration and other members of international community could exercise leverage to allow for compromises to be reached.
Obama already plans to take a leading role at next month’s UN General Assembly, where strategies for holding back Isis will be a top priority. But Western and Middle Eastern leaders need to begin preparing for a peace conference following such strikes, because a real transition plan for a post-conflict and post-Assad Syria needs to be developed. Talks will not be easy (and could drag out for months if not longer), but if the regime’s ability to wreak havoc on rebel communities is curbed by strikes and the economic blockade against it is strengthened, time will not be on its side – rendering hopes for an eventual breakthrough more realistic.
It’s about time for the Obama administration to do the right thing. It’s about time, after doing so much stupid stuff and aiding in the rise of Isis, to begin resolving a conflict that has killed close to 200,000 people in less than four years, and produced millions of refugees, becoming the worst humanitarian disaster since the Cold War.
Yes, American strikes may make disaffected Muslims more eager to join Isis. Yes, we may be witnessing the birth of a new Islamic sect. But Barack Obama needs to stop fighting the symptoms while embracing the disease – to become a true realist and not a cynical one. Sectarian violence was not inevitable in Syria, as some analysts argued at the beginning of the revolution, but indifference and cynicism made it so. Obama needs to engage in the region with a positive mindset, knowing that he can actually make a positive difference.