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Corbyn and the Cybernats

(Written 30th September)

Both the new Labour Leader and the over-zealous, independence obsessed social media patrol have got it wrong on Scotland and Jeremy Corbyn respectively.

Since appearing on the Andrew Marr show on the eve of the annual Labour conference last Sunday, Jeremy Corbyn’s performance has been heaped with praise – both by his supporters on social media as well as some of the most stringent critics of his policies – for its straight talking, no nonsense approach that hallmarks the Labour leader’s public interactions.

However, his comments on the SNP and Scottish secession received far less enthusiasm from within the independence support base.

Marr suggested that he held common ground with the SNP and the wider independence movement on policies such as trident and the economy, and cited Corbyn’s alleged unionist leanings as the only impediment between them and the new Labour leader.

Corbyn said that the SNP had “a headline in that they’re opposed to austerity” but that he was yet to see “the economic strategy behind it which doesn’t either continue the austerity that’s happening now.” And went onto detail examples of the SNP’s underlying pr

Naturally, this assertion that the SNP was merely engaged in populist posturing under ‘an austerity badge’ without the policies to match, was immediately dubbed ‘ill informed’ and the allegations of quietly pandering to austerity rebutted by the party, its supporters, and various pro-independence new media outlets and blogs.

All fine and civil and polite and to be expected.

And then came the Cybernats.

The sudden barrage of abuse aimed at Corbyn that came pouring on social media was inundated with charges of Unionist! Britnat! Snake! Red Tory! Liar! and other similar invectives…

Of course, ensuing headlines full of self serving spin around Corbyn’s stance on the SNP from the anti-SNP and anti-Corbyn media did little to stem the tide of flooding vitriol coming in form all quarters on social media.

But such fringe fanaticism is self-explanatory, and putting is to one side, it is not impossible to see why Corbyn’s position on Scotland has caused the different degrees of disgruntlement among secessionists. Briefly addressing the Scottish electorate during his first Labour conference speech on Tuesday, Corbyn said that he understood that Labour had disappointed Scotland, that he agreed that it had lost its way and that they needed to “renew our party in Scotland”.

However, his method to do this seems to be to rely on the counsel of Kezia Dugdale, the recently elected Scottish Labour leader under whose leadership support for the party in Scotland continues to decline, and who as former leader Jim Murphy’s deputy campaigned alongside the Conservative party against Scottish independence. Dugdale represents everything that is wanting in Scottish Labour and Jeremy’s assertion that “under Kezia and my leadership, it will change” could have only seemed like a badly timed joke to Scottish voters.

It’s clear that Scotland, and the democratic deficit which lies behind the case for independence is unfamiliar territory for Jeremy Corbyn. But it seems that poor briefing rather than a penchant for “Red Tory” unionism is responsible for his repeated blunders on the Scottish question.

In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if most of his knowledge of Scotland comes from Scottish Labour MPs like Neil Findlay, a left leaning Unionist who seems to suffer from selective amnesia concerning Dugdale’s inconsistency on Corbyn’s potency as head of party before and after his victory.

But lack of awareness of Scotland’s political landscape, a weary affliction widespread among even the most well-meaning sections of political classes south of the border, does not warrant the slurs of “Liar politician” and “Red Tory” being slung his way by (the vociferous minority of) independence zealots that are collectively known as ‘Cybernats’. Nor does he deserve the likening of his financial policies with the Conservative party’s havoc wreaking agenda of austerity by the SNP and its wider (and far more moderate) base of devotees.

After all, here is a man who rose from backbench obscurity to parliamentary prominence as the leader of a party whose whip he defied 500 times during the course of his political career. A man who was arrested for demonstrating against South African apartheid; who stood outside the Iraqi embassy protesting Saddam Hussein’s atrocities against the Kurds while the British government armed the former; and whose voting record, whether defying the Labour whip against Conservative welfare reforms or against the Iraq war, smacks of anything but a Tory tendency.

The fact that someone like Corbyn-whose commitment to social justice is as evident in policy as it is in his own rousing rhetoric- now leads one of the two main parties at Westminster must surely be cause for celebration rather than scorn or concern. Surely such credentials must deeply resonate with the similarly anti austerity, socially democratic styled SNP.

So despite his ignorance of the Scottish political landscape, such allegations do little in the way of constructive debate simply because after skimming the Islington MP’s record in parliament for the last thirty years, calling him any kind of Tory, whether red or blue, is no less implausible than branding Nicola Sturgeon a Unionist.

But that said, there were plenty of measured responses from independence supporters who were disappointed at his lack of understanding of the Scottish perspective. For the leader of a party that aims to win back the votes it lost in Scotland, they provided much food for thought.

Broadcaster and journalist Lesley Riddoch wrote that Corbyn “showed no evidence of innovation, recent thinking or even some enthusiasm for resolving the “Scottish question” ’’ and then asked the pertinent question; “How can grassroots politics, self-determination and federalism be right for policy formation, the future of Ireland and the Labour Party itself – but not for Scotland?”

The National’s view was that while “Corbyn’s down-to-earth, thoughtful brand of politics was a much welcome change from the usual spin and smear of Westminster”, his stand against austerity and policies like “ non-intervention in the Middle East, Trident” resonated with readers of the only daily independence supporting newspaper in Scotland, it was “disheartening to see him reel off the same tired lines about the SNP yesterday.”

It’s true, as Corbyn stated on Marr, that flags don’t build houses. But it’s also true that Labour didn’t build very many houses while in power in Scotland and neither has the present Conservative government. And yes, Corbyn has plans to change that as he heads Labour’s new social housing campaign, something to be welcomed by all who wish to see steps towards a more equitable society.

But that is exactly why Corbyn needs to understand the case for Scottish Independence, even if he disagrees with the premise: because the lack of social justice, while a mainstay of the Yes campaign’s drive for independence far from dominated the grounds for seeking self determination.

The democratic deficit, whereby whatever way the Scottish electorate votes in general elections will never make any difference to the overall result, lies at the heart of the independence argument. And a pro-federalist, united Ireland inclined progressive like Jeremy Corbyn should understand that the principle behind this disparity means that Scotland cannot sit on its hands and wait every five years on the off chance that another inclusive democrat appears and delivers a socially just United Kingdom in which all its member nations can thrive.

And that crucially-something which has escaped members of the commentariat like Andrew Marr- it was the grassroots groups and new media platforms galvanised through the referendum campaign that were and continue to be the driving force behind Scotland’s political awakening and the SNP’s sweeping general election victory.

And Jeremy Corbyn has demonstrated that he understands the importance of reaching out to those who possess conflicting beliefs to his own. In the name of that very plurality his shadow cabinet composes of Blairites and those with views diametrically opposed to his on policies as far ranging as defence, the economy and public services. In keeping with this open spirit, perhaps he should think about extending that same hand of friendship towards Scotland’s increasingly popular independence movement.

It doesn’t sound fantastical. Jeremy Corbyn closed his speech to conference yesterday by paying tribute to a Scot; “The last bearded man to lead the Labour party was a wonderful, great Scotsman, Kier Hardy.”

It’s hard to imagine any of Labour’s leaders of the past two decades, drenched in Blairite devotion, invoking the party’s working-class, Scottish founder in such a manner.

Under Jeremy Corbyn, breaking through the pervasive trend of deep-rooted ignorance over Scotland’s political landscape among the Westminster classes looks more feasible than ever.

It’s merely a case of both parties sitting down and listening to one another’s narrative, instead of indulging in or being influenced by accusatory sound bites.

Analysis: The politics of outrage is a detriment to democratic debate

First published on 5th February 2015, on http://news.stv.tv/scotland-decides/analysis/309267-analysis-haniya-khalid-on-the-politics-of-outrage-and-democratic-debate/

By Haniya Khalid

Outrage is designed to be explosive, and the ensuing carnage to have lasting effects.

This was demonstrated rather well when Nicola Sturgeon appeared on the Andrew Marr show for the first time a week ago.

Echoing the BBC’s Nick Robinson during his interview with Scotland’s first minister a few days before, Marr quizzed her on her party’s stance on voting on English matters in the event the forecast SNP gains took fruit in the upcoming general election.

Despite Sturgeon’s repeated response that the devolution of powers and the Barnett formula rendered the fate of areas like taxation and the Scottish NHS inextricably dependent on its English counterparts, and this was the only reason the SNP would consider voting on such matters, it seemed that Marr was searching for a remark that could spark outrage among sections of the English electorate:

Nicola Sturgeon: As long as we are funded in Scotland as we are just now, of course SNP MPs would vote on tax issues because those decisions affect the budget of the Scottish parliament.

Andrew Marr: But you can understand the irritation in England if the Scottish parliament has control over its own fiscal and taxation affairs but Scottish MPs are saying to English voters that we’re going to change your taxation in this regard or that regard.

Nicola Sturgeon: But full fiscal control for the Scottish parliament is not yet being proposed. Now I actually think that where you have matters, purely English matters, that have no impact on Scotland, I think there is a very, very strong case for English votes, for English laws, Scottish MPs shouldn’t be voting on issues like that.

This assertion went unnoticed in the following media frenzy; from a Conservative MP calling Sturgeon’s statements a ‘bunch of twaddle’ that only served to ‘put our union at risk again’, to the Daily Mail screaming that she had claimed the whole of Britain would be better run if Scottish Nationalists sat in Miliband’s Cabinet.

It isn’t hard to trace back this flammable trail to what could be considered its source; Nick Robinson’s BBC interview with Sturgeon in which the matter of Scottish MPs voting on the English matters like health came up.

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In other words, it is clear that outrage leads to outrage, until the issue at hand has been so stifled under all the fiery rhetoric of politicians and pundits as well pages upon pages of seething columnists venting their ire at the injustice of it all that it becomes completely irrelevant and no effort is made to find out the context or reasoning behind the initial event. Regardless of whether the outrage is justified or not, and it certainly can be, it is evident that its impact is the pollution of our airwaves rather than pragmatic solutions to political conundrums.

Natalie Bennet, leader of the Green party of England and Wales, underwent something similar last week after appearing Andrew Neil’s BBC show Sunday Politics in the wake of the Green Surge. After being vigorously grilled on Green policy, which included a universal basic income for every UK citizen and legalising membership of extremist groups in the UK, the result was headlines dripping with outrage like Drugs, brothels, al-Qaeda and the Beyonce tax: the Green Party plan for Britain and Australian-born British political leader Natalie Bennett says public has right to sympathise with ISIS..

Another example was Paul Nuttall’s rant on BBC programme Question Time in which he said that he was “absolutely sick to death of Salmond, Sturgeon, and SNP”, and that since they had lost the independence referendum it had been “take, take, take, take, take, take…they’re taking your tax, people in Scotland get an extra £1600 than people in England…nothing is ever enough for them and now Sturgeon is saying that Scottish MPs are going to vote on issues that only effect England.”

The tremors of ensuing outrage were evident on social media as various users took to Twitter to reply to the UKIP deputy leader and MEP’s remarks. And of course, the replies were equal in their level of outrage.

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It should not be forgotten that this kind of attitude from established entities, particularly at Westminster, towards emerging political players such as the SNP and Green party is not a new phenomenon. Until last year, before the EU elections, UKIP too bore the brunt of mass media flare-ups and the dismissal of their party as a racist, ignoble movement, so much so that the Prime Minister himself branded it a party of fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists.

Whether these accusations were true or not, following UKIP’s EU election victory, their standing in the media spotlight shifted towards more honest portrayals of their policies. Whether these depictions are positive is beside the point, for it goes without saying that every media outlet offers their own take on the world, and varied outlooks are constructive to society as a whole. But to halt the transfer of information and purposely mislead the public over something that most know nothing about contradicts the founding principles of a free press.

It cannot be too outrageous then, to assume that such a mode of discourse can be detrimental to democratic debate. This is not only because it bypasses the analysis of multifaceted matters that are critical to a functioning democracy, but also capitalises on inflammatory tactics like mischaracterisation and ad hominem attacks to mislead the public on vital issues.

Last week marked 100 days until the General Election in May, but as the nation hurtles towards the day on which it collectively decides who it will be governed by for the next four years, one wonders whether it is the politics of outrage and intellectual dishonesty rather than that of logical reasoning and critical analysis that will dominate the political conversation.

Demystifying UKIP

By Haniya Khalid

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Farage, it seems, has tapped into an incredibly lucrative mass market: electorate disillusionment with the establishment and mainstream politics in general. Couple that with the swift capitalization of crimes and social faux pas perpetrated by who those happen to be the perceived ‘other’ and thus threats to their way of life-ethnic minorities, immigrants, Muslims, homosexuals, all considered alien by tight knit, largely homogeneous communities-and you have a firm monopoly on the mindsets of large sections of the working class; the group hit hardest by an incompetent government’s fiscal, social and foreign policies.

But in his recent column for the Independent, with its eye-popping title, Kurdos to Russell Brand and the Guy Fawkes Protesters, Nigel Farage says something that those bearing the worst of the fallout from the bloated whale that is Westminster would be hard pressed to reject.

Everywhere you look there is discontent with the mainstream, the establishment, with the corporatist politics that we’ve been spoon-fed for the past few decades. Never more so was this evident than this week in the mid-term elections in the United States, and in the Parliament Square protests that took place on Wednesday evening in London.”

Consider, for a moment the situation here. Farage, very much on the right whose party has connections to the European ultra right (whether due to business reasons or ideological), praising an anti-UKIP comedian-actor-turned-activist socialist for going on an anti-capitalist, anti-establishment leftist protest throughout the streets of London with a million other people, marching against quite a few of the principles Farage himself ascribes to-such as the free-market and the crackdown on Johnny foreigner.

“Look to the fact that almost every week, there are protests on the streets of London and elsewhere around the country: some about Isis, some by trade unions, some about Gaza, and some about niche issues like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).”

Most probably, Farage is unaware that the Million Mask March that he speaks of takes place every year and has done so for the last few years across the world’s cities, from London to New York. And that the ‘Guy Fawkes’ masks are donned to denote Anonymous, the online ‘hacktivist’ entity that claims to fight state oppression and corruption across the world through infamous hacking ops targeting government institutions and corporations. But that isn’t the point, and he doesn’t make it the point, noting his difference of ideology with people like Brand and his supporters and yet recognizing the glaring similarity between those who are increasingly attracted to anti-establishment parties like UKIP, and its counterparts on the left such as the Green party, and in Scotland at least, the SNP.

“So I have a lot of sympathy with people who want different policies from the “three major” parties. Sure, they mistake“capitalism” for “corporatism”, and have a slightly different view as to what a society should look like. But we’re driven by the same inate passion to see radical change in our politics. It’s this discontent that is leading a left-wing populist party to success in Spain; a right-wing, populist party to success in America; and an anti-EU, policy-wonk party to successes in Germany.”

  Podemos-European-Parliament

Citing the increasing popularity of Spain’s Podemos party, America’s latest Republican winin the mid term elections slating a Democrat majority, and Germany’s Alternative For Deutschland (AFD) regional win, Farage, despite his faults, says what every other politician and civil servant in Westminster and Whitehall won’t. There is something wrong with the way things are going, and the masses simply won’t sit on the sidelines anymore.

 

“The people of Britain are hungry for change. And why? Because they can’t tell the difference between Mr Cameron, Mr Miliband, and Mr Clegg. Their propositions are just not that different when you think about it: more borrowing, more debt for future generations, more wars, more powers given away to the EU, more corporatism, more cronyism, and maybe a few billion pounds’ worth of difference in their spending plans.”

Despite his renowned oratory prowess, when Nigel Farage writes he is no Shakespeare, nor is he inclined to verbosity. But anyone can understand what he is saying. Like most successful political leaders, he himself is populist and uses emotion and anecdote to reach out to current public sentiment, sometimes at the expense of statistical facts. This is something that Owen Jones seizes upon in a recent article for the Gaurdian on the latest study by University College London that European migrants contributed £20 billion to the economy:

“Anecdotes end up trumping statistics…earlier this year, Nigel Farage was confronted with figures demonstrating that immigrants did indeed pay their way. His response? “There are some things that matter more than money.” If, he added, the arrival of another 5 million to British shores left us “all slightly richer”, he would rather that we were not slightly richer. It was ingenious trolling of the pro-immigration left, painting them as money-obsessed neoliberals, while he was the champion of community and people.”

There’s no doubt, therefore, that UKIP has a penchant for scapegoating the more vulnerable members of society, although the fault of this may lie more with individual donors and members of UKIP who have joined due to the circumstance that it’s an easy outlet for plain racists, rather than what Farage himself may have promoted. This is not to say of course, that Farage is innocent in the world of politics, having dabbled in the favorite pastime of many of his would be peers at Westminster and escaped not entirely unscathed.

But unlike the Prime Minister, who whines about the EU bureaucracy one minute – like a dazzled child vying for the approval of his much cooler and popular older brother – then throws a tantrum over an extortionate EU bill that anyone with half the economic literacy of he who is supposedly running the country would have predicted months before, Farage doesn’t just talk the talk. UKIP policy, however objectionable most Scots find it, is crystal clear. On the EU: get out. On immigrants: extensive crackdown, and for those who come in, assimilate, abide by the law, work or leave. On terrorism: fighting home grown extremists should be the top priority for British security services, rather than sending off troops fight expensive wars in foreign lands, which are what fuel terror at home and abroad in the first place.

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But it is a testament to the monolithic structure that is the establishment that everything they said about UKIP before it made significant enough gains in the EU elections to warrant Westminster sitting up and taking notice, and Cameron retracting his “loonies and fruitcakes statement”, was repeated with ten times as much vitriol during the referendum campaign against Alex Salmond and the SNP-and is repeated still, towards what they perceive as ‘nationalists’ and the SNP.

At a time when every single Westminster party is in a state of perpetual crisis, perhaps a first in that noble institution’s proud history, none more so than Labour-the Scottish referendum being attributed as the catalyst for said meltdown-every new day bringing fresh news of disaster and dissention in the ranks, the threat felt by the establishment, whether by UKIP or Scotland, is almost tangible.

Looking through the prism of UKIP’s success, it is clear that it is not exclusive to Scotland that people are fed up with the way things stand and the way they have been working for a long time, although one may note that Scots may have born the brunt of the Thatcherite politics which have since been ubiquitous in every Westminster government’s policies for the last two decades since the Iron Lady’s reign. But the English certainly aren’t happy, neither the Welsh nor many of the Irish, and it isn’t because they are a bunch of whining scroungers, the way Scots are consistently perpetuated as by media outlets and society outside of Scotland in general.

So it is easy to see how a party like UKIP has risen in all the turmoil in English politics-for UKIP has very little, if any, traction in Scotland while the membership and support of the SNP grows day by day, having shot up three-fold simply within weeks after the referendum.

And it’s important not to take everything said about UKIP by the mainstream press at face value. It’s easy to label anyone and anything deviating from the party line as racist. You disagree with Obama? Racist. You are critical of Israel’s settlement policy, which is illegal under International Law? Racist. You voted UKIP? Racist.

After all, if we are to exercise critical thinking, the very thing we complained was absent in the press’ coverage of the referendum, media and political bias is not something unique to the cause of Scottish independence, but to anything that is a threat to the London centric Establishment. And that’s why it’s not us, who are fortunate enough to have alternatives to the Establishment, such as the SNP and the Greens to choose from, that need to worry about UKIP. It’s Westminster.

EU-debate

The trouble with Scotland…is that it’s full of Scots!

Published on http://www.bellacaledonia.org.uk

Cameron’s stomach ulcers, the Queen’s new look, Labour and toast, and the Butterfly Rebellion.

By Haniya Khalid

I’ve been rather guilty of lashing out at those of my friends who voted No to Scottish Independence in the last week. I know for a fact that I am not alone in this infantile behaviour. Grief speaks in strange ways to each of us, and sometimes we are unable to channel that negative energy into something pragmatic and constructive, no matter how optimistic our disposition.

However, I’m no fool, although weeping about the loss of what I perceived to be the last chance at self-determination that Scotland had before it became engulfed indefinitely by Westminster’s Blairite convulsions, may seem foolish to many of those apathetic to the Yes campaign’s two year trajectory. And that includes both of my closest, and No voter, friends, a fact that I won’t deny hurt almost as much as losing Independence.

But you can’t suddenly lose something you haven’t had for 307 years, right?

Correct. And that’s what prompts me to say, as I wipe my eyes and get on my feet as per Robin McAlpine’s advice, that here lies the beauty in this tragic affair.

As many of us are beginning to realise, Scotland has gained far more than it has lost-and in fact it has lost nothing and gained more than perhaps even independence would have brought in such a short space of time.

1. We’ve got the mainstream press clutching at straws. That in itself is an achievement to be proud of.

Whether it was the Scotsman’s embarrassing story in the last few days before the referendum asserting that Scottish Independence was, according to nameless intelligence analysts, an ISIS plot to weaken the British state by using former hostage situation of aid-worker David Haines to secure a Yes vote, or the general media’s attempts to dilute the reality of the unionist riots in George Square last Friday by framing them as ‘light banter’ (Sky News), or the bullying of ‘pro-unionist skinheads by Hundreds of Yes supporters who booed them out” (The Evening Times) or, according to the Independent, Unionists burning Saltires, giving Nazi and Red hand of Ulster salutes and committing acts of violence, and as the Sunday Herald covers extensively, homophobia and racism, was nowhere near as consequential as the fact that, as it asserted in its headline, “’Dishonest’ social media users accused of fuelling panic with pictures from London riots.”

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Of course, on the last assertion, anyone who visits the Twitter account of the only user that BBC journalist Andrew Neil leveled said accusation towards, and which the Independent and various other outlets reported on, will indeed see this:

Potbelly

And then this…

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And also this…

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And most recently, this…

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If this doesn’t cry out troll to an established journalist like Andrew Neil, then the future of journalism is bleak indeed. That or they’ve run out of ideas for believable spin. (It’s important/hilarious to note that user @potbellyman123 seems to reside in Australia.)

And after the arrest of eleven unionists by Police Scotland for ‘various offences including disorder, breach of peace and vandalism” (As reported in the Sunday Herald) on September the 19th, as well as the appearance of many in court for charges of assault, vandalism and abusive behaviour, the emerging videos of unionists burning Saltires or ripping them out of girl’s hands and the homophobic abuse leveled at a young counselor, it’s probably time to remove the inverted commas around “riots”.

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On top of senseless churnalism, we have shoddy sub-editing.

In an interview with Channel 4 last Sunday, outgoing first minister Alex Salmond said: ‘There’s a huge difference between being a public service broadcaster, and being a state broadcaster and I’m not certain that the BBC understand that difference.”

And it is highly important that any new alternative media that is born out of this whole debacle via the collective efforts of any pro-independence groups also take heed of these words. Alternative media does not necessarily mean a raw and unbiased angle and there’s such a thing as extreme leftism-and such a possibility as that being a worse alternative to the increasing rise of right-wing extremism in Europe and Britain.

2. We’ve got Jack Straw clutching at straws

In his piece for the Times, former justice secretary Jack Straw, now Mp for Blackburn, suggests that “We should follow the example of stable federated countries (the US and India, for example) and say: “This Union is now indissoluble.’”

If only Straw, the political beast he is, would mention the difference between these two countries and the United Kingdom. The size and structure, and political ideologies, of the ‘states’ in this country as opposed to that of both the former nations have something to do with how federalism will play out here -and it’s something that will indeed eventually happen, say the experts, now that the catalyst has begun its cycle, thanks to that desperate, last minute vow published in a tabloid, of all things.

According to Professor Tom Devine at Sunday Herald’s Bloody Scotland conference on Saturday, “The future is either federalism or another referendum – either way, the UK state is dead.”

So you heard it, it’s the old, now they’ve done it, and scared us shitless, let us make sure we never have to take laxatives again. After all, that motion promised in the vow courtesy of the Daily Record for the 19th of September was a day late.

3. We’ve got the Welsh and the Irish wanting more straws

As Iain McWhirter writes in the latest edition of the Sunday Herald: “Voters here were handed a gun to shoot themselves with it. But the gun backfired. It turned a crisis for Scotland into a crisis for the UK state. The entire UK is now in a condition of constitutional ferment, with regions and nations demanding autonomy.”

The Welsh first minister telling the Labour conference to extend home rule to Wales and Northern Ireland, Cameron’s talk of “English votes for English laws” stirring up a hornets nest left, right and centre, and Lib/Lab/Con put under pressure to deliver both the Scottish promise and grant similar pledges across the board as a matter of principle, with Nigel Farage smugly shaking his head at the whole motley crew whilst rubbing his hands with glee from the sidelines , there doesn’t seem to be much hope for this stable, secure, all encompassing Union.

4. We gave David Cameron stomach ulcers, for which he plans to sue.

In the famous video where Cameron divulges his latest conversation with the Queen, A.K.A Catwoman’s granny, involving a surprising amount of feline behaviour from an 88 year old monarch (or maybe that’s just what Dave thinks of her), the prime minister of Britain also reveals his gripe with the polling companies: “I’ve said I want to find these polling companies and I want to sue them for my stomach ulcers because of what they’ve put me through. It was very nervous moments.”

 

5. We also helped David Cameron reveal his true feelings concerning his Queen.

No comment. Most of us are still trying to get over this little sweetheart

6. Labour is toast. Jam, anyone?

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Labour MP for Aberdeen South, Dame Anne Begg, No-campaigning with Dave McDonald, leader of the National Front for Scotland.

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Ed forgets some of his speech...guess which part

Ed forgets some of his speech…guess which part

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7. After picking the short straw, things are starting to look up for Scotland. To incredible lengths. You may be surprised.

And so the biggest asset won in the aftermath of this bloodless battle, something that no amount of oil or whiskey or nuclear arms deals could ever hope to counter; the Scots themselves.

That cheeky one-liner from Edward Longshanks in the film Braveheart ironically sums up Scotland’s situation-and Westminster’s predicament.

Yes. Real live Scots. Our former political apathy went to the winds, as 97% of Scottish citizens registered to vote in the referendum, and over 80% of us actually did it. Which effectively constitutes the biggest voter turnout in the whole of British history.

To those of you still disillusioned with the whole debacle, think about what that means for a minute. Reflect on exactly which kind of fearless, northerly, Irn-Bru fuelled force this referendum has galvanised.

It means we are the problem for Westminster and the solution to it.

It means that the 37,228 new members that the SNP has gained in the last five days, and the 3000 that the Green party has, are all numbers that do not smack of those who have easily accepted defeat and now pledge to be subservient to a stagnant system which just over more than half of their countrymen and women chose to vote for.

It means that the genie is out of the bottle, to quote the phrase most widely used to describe the sudden and magnanimous surge in political involvement in Scotland in the last few days, a positive and radical continuation of the pre-referendum landscape, and though we have come to accept the outcome of a democratic vote, we will not go quietly into the night.

This much is clear, in both in the grassroots pro-independence groups such as National Collective and Generation Yes among others, and the pro-independence parties, SSP, SNP and the Green party. Whether its talk between the parties of forming an alliance and run collectively in the next general election or the creation emergence of a new alternative media by pro Indy groups, the will of the Scots, and that includes the will of the people who invested every sinew of their being for the last two years and more into campaigning for Scotland’s self rule, will not stay unheeded, it will not go to waste, and we shall not be swayed by the rhetoric of Darling, straw, Lamont, Cameron and their ilk.

And thus, these are the things we have gained and the things that are now set in motion.

These are the things that should lift the weight from our hearts, and heal the bruises on our butterfly-winged souls, because the butterfly rebellion was never more significant and relevant than it is now. We are still here. We are still breathing, our minds whirring, our hearts beating, our wings ready to launch us up into awesome heights. The kind of heights that those in whitehall couldn’t possibly be expected to imagine- it was never in the job description.

And perhaps it can be said with almost certainty that in persuading/scaring many Scots into voting No, especially the senior citizens, Westminster and its cronies in the established media started something they cannot hope to finish without facing immense opposition from those it dared to wrong.

Perhaps we can then say, with open hearts, and open minds, that Westminster has just orchestrated the demise of its own beloved “union”, as Peter Arnott so wittily points out“And, as it looks to me this Sunday night, they might be doing a better demolition job on this blessed Union of Nations than we ever dreamed of. And doing it even faster than we had in mind.”

 

And now we must come to the negative aspect.

As columnist Iain McWhirter writes in last Sunday’s issue of the Sunday Herald, “The challenge for Scotland after the Independence referendum is to realise what they have won, which is more difficult.”

 

The new self-styled “the45” movement/hashtag/group, which has come to the fore on social media, representing the 45% of Scots who voted Yes to independence.

It strikes of prolonged mourning, the inability of someone to let go of their dead relative’s corpse. And though I understand absolutely why it came into being, and that there must be a time for grieving just as there is a time for rejoicing, I cannot help but think that it has gone on long enough.

And it only became more ridiculous and pitiful after the announcement that all those corporations and businesses that expressed their allegiance to Better Together and its ideology in some form or another were to be ‘punished’ in the form of boycotts by the 45% that voted Yes.

I will explain exactly why it is unrealistic, ridiculous, and morbid.

Among the many things listed as targets for boycott on social media, are various media outlets like the Daily Record and the BBC.

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 23.11.22

A. If we stop consuming all the media that we perceive as being biased, then one might as well never read or watch any source of news again-all outlets are biased, that includes the Sunday Herald-it is just biased in our favour. In other words, this kind of thinking does not strike at the root of the problem.

The problem was never that the BBC was biased, a fact that anyone who has watched and understood the mainstream long enough can see. It was that too many fell for it, and continue to fall for it. That it was trusted, and still is by many, and mainstream media in general, as a source of veracity. It’s almost laughable in the 21st century if it wasn’t so painfully true for the majority of the citizenry of the developed world.

What one needs is to consume all media even what is touted as the “British Biased Corporation”, as well as alternative media, to gain a broader-and fairer, more concise-understanding of world affairs. News literacy is the key issue that many of those, in their blind anger and disgust at the BBC, something I understand and sympathise with completely, are failing to recognise

This time it was us who felt the punch, but we must take care to remember that there are people all over the world, whether in Asia, The Middle East, Eastern Europe and elsewhere that are stripped down daily by the monolithic, war mongering, elite pandering establishment that is the fifth estate, in front of our eyes, as the news of their lives are reduced to statistics, or unambiguous actors in the Good vs Evil paradigm.

Towards this kind of media mischaracterisation, we don’t bat an eyelid. We don’t flinch or think what effect it must have for so many to be dehumanised for so long and with such zeal. All that needs to change, of course.

B. Boycotts are not an end, or the aim. They are the means to an end-which as yet, seems undefined.

As far as boycotts and movements who adopt this kind of tactic are concerned, it takes an awful long time for something, if anything to happen-and that’s only if one sticks to it for a certain period of time.

Do you want people to change their bank accounts? Take a possibly longer and more expensive route to work everyday?

This is ineffective precisely because it will peter eventually – it is impossible to uphold something that requires effort without specifying exactly what you are fighting for. Because beside the vague statement that these institutions, big business and corporations will be “punished” for their unethical behaviour during the campaign, by such tactics, that remains unspecified.

And it’s unfair. Remember, we are a first world nation that still requires food banks. A country where a fifth of our people live below the poverty line, 47% of children in Glasgow, and one in five children throughout Scotland. Not everyone can financially afford such ‘resolve’ for a cause that remains a mystery. What exactly will a few thousand or hundred people boycotting M&S achieve?

C. If you want to boycott something, do something that will make a difference-in other words, something that will achieve a specific aim constructive to what an Independent Scotland meant for many.

And an independent Scotland was about a fairer, more equal society, that embraced the diversity and talent of the people , and looked after its weary, its old and its poor. A society that took a clean break from the capitalism-on-steroids that has become the rest of the UK’s favorite fix, and strived for something more conscious and healthy for the betterment of society. And that doesn’t necessarily imply socialism, but a reform of the current system.

So boycott. Labour, the party that threw their traditional values of equality and care of the vulnerable straight out of the window and joined with the Conservatives (and the National Front, and UKIP) in their campaign of fear and deception.

Because doing that truly will make a difference, as a member of the electorate. You know that yourself, if you voted in the referendum. Join the 37,228 people who have joined the SNP in the last week alone-many of them hailing from traditional Labour families, a tradition that stops right here-putting it at a strong 62,870 and making this Scotland based party the third biggest party UK wide, its members comprising 1% of Scotland, and one in ninety Scots.

Boycott ignorance and become literate in the way the media works, instead of closing one’s eyes to that which does not appeal to your philosophy.

Boycott bigotry and the lack of critical thinking. Boycott hate and bile and hearsay and embrace love and understanding and documented primary source data.

So who am I to say any of this? Why should anyone listen to me?

There’s no reason.

I am 19 years old. I am a student, at college, of journalism. I was a first time voter in the referendum. I was born in England and spent just under half of my life there, the rest of it in Scotland, and I am neither ethnically Anglo or Celtic or any kind of white European, something that may cause a few to retort that I have no legitimate voice in this debate.

But I voted Yes. I am a citizen of this country. My greatest desire is to be known as Scottish. And I love this land. I would die for it. And I refuse to be demonised-as those of my ethnicity often are -by the mainstream media, once again but from a new angle; as a rabid ‘fascist’ nationalist.

I only speak for myself when I say I was completely heartbroken when the verdict was clear as the results tumbled in, the margin widening and hope crumbling before my very eyes. The crack increased as I wondered into George Square the morning after the results, eyes still sore from complete lack of sleep and numbing tears, and witnessed the taut faces and downcast mien of every person that I passed in Glasgow’s city centre, through Buchanan street and beyond, coming to rest in a small, funeral like gathering in what was to be Independence square.

The heavy dullness as the sky wept with Glasgow and Dundee and West Dunbartonshire and North Lanarkshire – four out of the six poorest regions of Scotland, the four that all yelled aye, we want change, and we need it the most – was all the more magnified as a lone bagpiper began a melancholy rendition of Flower of Scotland in the middle of Buchanan street, the tears that it prompted to sparkle in the eyes of many who had gathered there a reflection of the joy that could have been in an alternate reality.

But that was and is our reality.

And we’ve wept. And we’ve screamed. And we’ve been childish.

And now it’s time to grow up and make it better, and ourselves better, and this country better, without compromising on our principles.

So, I refuse to be a victim, while at the same time refuse to bow down to Darling and his grey-suited, tie-clad brethren, and I refuse to indulge in the corpse of what could have been.

And I refuse to stay cushioned inside this suffocating cocoon of boycotts and Yes badges and the 45% – a small number, a mean number and a number that outweighs everything that already has been and will be-with our sweat and tears- achieved. And let us not sit back and let the SNP or Nicola Sturgeon or the already established pro-independence organisations, whether affiliated with political parties or not, do the talking. Because for every word they talk, we should be doing.

So, on a lighter note, what do you say folks? Perhaps it is time we spread our wings, and our imagination, our skills, our intellect, our knowledge, our talent, over the whole of Scotland.

Perhaps it’s time for the Butterfly Rebellion: Take Two.

Iraq and the Islamic State: The Cause and the Conundrum

By Haniya Khalid

First published on 1 August 2014

 “We are often apt to read history backwards, which, I submit, is a very wrong method of reading history. History, in order to be properly appreciated, has to be read forwards. One must put oneself behind the events which one desires to evaluate, and then judge and appraise them.”

-Sir Zafrulla Khan’s address to the UN General Assembly on the Question of Palestine 28th November, 1947.

While the world watches Israel and Gaza thrash each other to death, the former providing the beating and the latter complying with a rising death toll, the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) continues its havoc wreaking campaign through Iraq. From its capture of Fallujah in early January 2014, and then its panic-inducing milestone takeover of the second city of Mosul to the Kurdish capital of Arbil, up to the North of Baghdad, with cities like Tikrit and Samarra under full IS control, to its West with Ramadi, IS continues its descent, moving ever closer towards the capital.

IS in Iraq

IS in Iraq, Source: bbc.co.uk

The extreme Sunni based militant Islamist group, previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) before its self-declared caliphate installed its elusive leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi as the Caliph of the seized territories in the Levant in the beginning of June, has been locked in a deadly battle in Syria with Hezbollah, allied with the Syrian army, in both Syria and the spillover of in-fighting on Lebanon’s eastern frontier, as well as continuing its bloody expansion through Iraq. Two weeks ago, it overran hundreds of Iraqi government forces including Shiite militia in Tikrit who had been trying to retake the city. Government forces and Shiite militia volunteers were pushed back 10 miles south of Tikrit to the town of Ajwa. In Syria it has hefty control in areas like Raqqa, Idlib and Aleppo.

A journalist for Issuehawk.com wrote on Wednesday, “Determining the “beginning” of the turmoil in Iraq is a complex task, so the best way to begin is to work backwards.”

And while the ensuing article briefs over key points in the Islamic State’s movement across Iraq, from its annexation of Fallujah to Mosul and the cities and provinces between as well as locations near the Syrian and Turkish borders, it leaves out the originating factor, the raison d’etre of the strong presence of IS in Iraq specifically, perhaps thus vindicating the words spoken sixty years ago, that to go backwards is to stunt a progressive view of history.

Likewise, the mainstream press duly informs us that IS’s success in Iraq is, first and foremost, a result of the fallout from the Syrian civil war that has been raging on in the last four years and which contributed extensively to IS’s growth. The Syrian civil war itself stemmed from the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings in the country against the over-zealous President Basher-al-Assad, from among which emerged strong Al-Qaeda affiliates, such as the leading Jabhat-al-Nusra and the Islamic Front, both of whom IS engaged in fierce combat last year during the internecine conflict between rebel groups. It also tells us that IS was once a faction of Al-Qaeda that defected, or rather was disowned (not long after it claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in rebel headquarters in the Syrian city of Aleppo in which a senior Al-Qaeda affiliated rebel commander died), from the infamous terror network in early March 2014 to pursue its intended, caliphate conquest across the better part of the Levant.

Al-Qaeda cut ties with IS, known then as ISIL, purportedly after the latter defied the former’s commands to leave Syria to Jabhat-Al-Nusra, and months of clashes with other Al-Qaeda affiliates and western backed rebels fighting in Syria.

And finally, the concoction of IS itself as a jihadist movement, one that abides by a particularly extreme interpretation of Wahabbism, arising from its predecessors amid the Sunni resistance as part of the Iraqi insurgency against the 2003 US invasion in its early years, is common knowledge.

But the position that the speedy establishment and lightning expansion of the current Islamic State in Iraq is due to the Syrian civil war, under whose bloody shadow the dregs of a radical ideological movement like IS came into full fruition, while correct by the current facts to an extent, falls short of the bigger picture.

Passing The Buck

There are several things that render this view erroneous. For one thing, it leaves a vacuum of bipartisan blame that audacious news anchors and self righteous hacks proceed to fill with lamentations of the ungrateful nature of these crazy sand dwellers Iraqis, as Martha Raddatz of ABC News did after the IS victory over Fallujah, “So 11 years after the US invaded Iraq–lost nearly 4,500 American lives and spent over $730 billion–Iraq is in crisis” or CNN’s Wolf Blitzer expressed in no uncertain words on his show The Situation Room how “the United States spent 10 years there. We assumed that Iraq would emerge a peaceful, stable democracy.”

What were you drinking when you developed these assumptions, Wolfy? Oil?

This of course ignores not only the thousands upon thousands of Iraqi civilian lives lost under the violence of the US invasion, the hundreds of Iraqis displaced, not to mention the destruction of a sovereigns state’s whole infrastructure, but also the natural consequences of military invasion by an unwanted, foreign power, which includes the brewing of sectarian tensions as a people already crippled by thirteen years of sanctions were further divided by the friendless, anarchic landscape of war.

CNN host Wolf Blitzer

CNN host Wolf Blitzer

And for another, it leaves out the US government’s complicity in what is touted solely as prime minster Nuri-al-Maliki’s incompetence, which hints at the overall Middle Eastern ineptitude at sustaining a ‘successful’ western friendly democracy by both the right and the left. And achieves the overall aim of shifting the blame firmly onto what pundits call the millennium old sectarian religious war that has rocked the region. If we disregard for a minute the fact that sectarianism or groups like IS in Iraq did not exist in its current form of violence and persecution among the civilian population until after the 2003 invasion, this still fails to explain the root cause of the turmoil enveloping the country.

It’s funny how the practice of passing the buck has become the common subtext of Western political discourse in relation to Middle Eastern affairs. It could be even more ironic if it wasn’t so predictable that such a practice takes place in the newsrooms and pundit panels of the liberal press, the fourth estate of the world’s developed nations.

As a great demonstration of this very practice, Wolf Blitzer says later on during the June 10th airing of the Situation Room: “Once the U.S. leaves Iraq, just as the U.S. leaves Afghanistan, they’re going to go back to the Shiites, the Sunnis, the Kurds. In Syria, you see the civil war going on there. Don’t you think what’s going on in the region, irrespective of U.S. involvement, would have happened under any circumstances, given the centuries of the tradition of what’s gone on in that part of the world?”

In other words, are we talking about the installation of democracy, or merely a shell of this ideal filled with an oozing centre of glib hypocrisy?

Lakhdar Brahimi, United Nations diplomat and former United Nations and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria talks about why repeating history, in other words listening to Tony Blair on Iraq, is a mistake.

 

A Soldier Speaks

As the crisis in Iraq began to heat up in mid June, Former United States soldier Chelsea Manning described the situation as presented to him in 2010 during his work as a US Intelligence analyst in Iraq, around the time of al-Maliki’s reelection, in an Op Ed piece for the New York Times.

“If you were following the news during the March 2010 elections in Iraq, you might remember that the American press was flooded with stories declaring the elections a success, complete with upbeat anecdotes and photographs of Iraqi women proudly displaying their ink-stained fingers. The subtext was that United States military operations had succeeded in creating a stable and democratic Iraq.”

“Those of us stationed there were acutely aware of a more complicated reality.”

Ex US soldier Chelsea Manning

Ex US soldier Chelsea Manning, Source: thguardian.com

He goes on further, describing the process by which dissidence under al-Maliki was crushed through the work of intelligence analysts like himself.

“Military and diplomatic reports coming across my desk detailed a brutal crackdown against political dissidents by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and federal police, on behalf of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. Detainees were often tortured, or even killed…I received orders to investigate 15 individuals whom the federal police had arrested on suspicion of printing “anti-Iraqi literature.” I learned that these individuals had absolutely no ties to terrorism; they were publishing a scholarly critique of Mr. Maliki’s administration. I forwarded this finding to the officer in command in eastern Baghdad. He responded that he didn’t need this information; instead, I should assist the federal police in locating more “anti-Iraqi” print shops.”

It won’t come as a surprise that the former US soldier’s Op-Ed was largely ignored by mainstream commentators. But Manning, who not only experienced US involvement in al-Maliki’s Iraq firsthand through his time in the army, but has also been sentenced to thirty five years solitary confinement after leaking 250,000 U.S state diplomatic cables and 500,000 Army reports to the whistle-blowing platform WikiLeaks, all which detail, among other information, the excesses, war crimes and breaches of International Law by US and coalition forces operating in foreign lands, is surely worth listening to.

‘I was shocked by our military’s complicity in the corruption of that election,” writes Manning, “Yet these deeply troubling details flew under the American media’s radar.’

So…now it’s all America’s fault?

Not entirely, but as the world’s superpower, and self-professed policeman, perhaps it should have been more cautious in its preference of al-Maliki over the prior candidate.

So it can’t afford slip-ups?

Not at all, except name more than one country in the Middle East and besides, in whose affairs the US has played part in the last twenty years, the result of which has not been more death, destruction and infighting.

The problem is, one could say, is that it has had far too many for a superpower that is hailed, often by itself, as the stalwart of Democracy and the pinnacle of civilization in the developed world.

Yet this isn’t the time for US bashing or Middle East bashing or even hegemony bashing. History may choose take care of all of that.

A Lethal Alliance?

The dangerous reality of IS’s triumph in today’s Iraq is that even members of the late Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist party, now banned, and other secular and moderate Sunnis have formed a sort of mutual alliance under this new extremist faction against who they consider in the last eight years to be their oppressor due to ethnic and sectarian divides. And more lethal is the fact that unlike al-Maliki’s government IS, is not concerned with its reputation as it slaughters any civilians who do not identify with their ideology at will. As Patrick Cockburn wrote in piece on 15th June, for the Independent, detailing the corruption incompetence and occupational nature of the Iraqi army under al-Maliki:

“Sectarian discrimination and persecution became the common lot of Iraq’s five or six million Sunni who had been the dominant community for centuries. A Sunni might be picked up by the police, tortured into a confession, sentenced to a long term in prison or even executed. Even if he was found innocent by a court, his family might have to pay $50,000 to $100,000 to get an officer in the prison to sign his release papers. An Isis fighter was recently reported as joking: “When we capture our enemies we kill them; when you capture one of us we pay money and he is released.”

Corruption in the army took place at every level. A general could become a divisional commander at a cost of $2m (£1.18m)…in Sunni areas the army and security forces behaved as an occupation force and were consequently much feared and hated. Frightening and bloodthirsty Isis fighters may be, but for many in Mosul they are preferable to government forces…Anger at these abuses is relevant to what is now happening. The majority of Sunni Arabs in Mosul ….are wary of Isis but terrified of what a vengeful Iraqi army will do if it retakes the city. The same is true in the rest of Sunni Iraq. Isis may have begun the assault, but many other groups have joined in. We are now looking at a general uprising of the Iraqi Sunni. Those taking over Saddam Hussain’s hometown of Tikrit are not Isis, but his old adherents who are putting up posters of the late dictator.”

We might as give up the ghost right now, and admit that the US, through its involvement in Iraq, is undeniably one of the players in this recent escalation (another being Nuri-al-Maliki), not only because Maliki was the US preferred and consequently chosen alternative to Ibrahim-al-Jafaari in 2006, but because it was US and coalition troops that went into Iraq in 2003, waking the hideous monster that is systematically winding up the Levant in its serpentine embrace.

And it could also be said that this is what makes the clearly corrupt Nuri al-Maliki the ultimate scapegoat as US calls for his resignation and the formation of a new government are echoed by both the International community and, much understandably, the Iraqi electorate. Yesterday’s election of Kurdish politician Fuad Masum as President Jalal Talibani’s successor looks like a potent prescient to al-Maliki’s imminent disposal.

Fuad Masum, new Iraqi PM

Fuad Masum, new Iraqi PM

The Choice

It’s easy to see the sticky conundrum in which the US finds itself stuck and which leads to such back peddling. If one begins to think of viable solutions to the IS trail of death and destruction that is slowly scything its way towards the seat of the Iraqi government in Baghdad, and which would pose a very real threat of exported-terrorism to the US if it achieved its aims, this brings us to The Choice that the US faces. Either it allies with Iran, “the axis of evil” to help Al-Maliki, or a new government, defeat IS and restore the US definition of order in Iraq, or it continues vocally backing some Syrian rebel factions and consequently allies with Al-Qaeda in Syria. This at a time when has been revealed that Shia Iran, firm ally of Maliki and his Shiite majority government, has sent a Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Ghassem Soleimani, along with 120 advisors from the Guard to help train Iraqi Shiite volunteers.

Ghassem Soloeimani, commander of the elite Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

Ghassem Soloeimani, commander of the elite Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

The Lebanese-Shiite political and military organization Hezbollah has already sent 250 military advisors to help Iraqi Shiite militia in their struggle against IS as well as upping its support of the Syrian army in Syria. Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria began as early as 2013 in the battle of Qalamoun as it launched a counter offensive against rebels attempting to use the mountainous area as a strategic base.

The Battle of Qalamoun

The Battle of Qalamoun

Which brings us to another gaping detail neglected in the face of popular analysis, and which, if implemented, further renders previous US allegations and rhetoric centered on the Middle East as invalid. The current Syrian regime, which has been vehemently condemned as a bloodthirsty child killing machine for almost four years, and upon which the EU has imposed sanctions, is now a glaring contradiction to the reality that Syrian army, along with Hezbollah, another organisation proclaimed as a terrorist organization by much of the West are fighting IS to the death in Syria and Lebanon.

In other words, if the US did indeed choose to ally, in some official form or other, with Iran to defeat IS, it would be aligned with not only its Nuclear Nemesis, but also indirectly yet distinctly with Hezbollah and Assad The Butcher (as he has been dubbed by press and politicians alike). And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a conundrum personified. It’s all rather funny when one thinks about it, and phrases like full circle and what goes up must come down, come to mind.

In times like these, one needs to look at non-official points of view-and even alternate media isn’t exactly the untarnished prism that one would expect. As an aside, in this spirit, an exchange that sums up the current situation went on in the comment section of the Guardian under an piece relaying the news that IS had offered an ultimatum to Iraqi Christians, Convert, pay tax or die:

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 00.59.11

The article in question states a little tidbit of information that reiterates a former point, is easily verified by state documents pre-invasion and fundamentally important in our understanding of Iraq itself as a civilisation before it had retracted head first into the mayhem we see today.

“The Mosul residents who saw the Islamic State announcement estimated the city’s Christian population before last month’s militant takeover at around 5,000. The vast bulk of those have since fled, leaving perhaps only 200 in the city. Mosul, once home to diverse faiths, had a Christian population of around 100,000 a decade ago, but waves of attacks on Christians since the 2003 US-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein have seen those numbers collapse.”

 

The Lean-Mean-Fact-Reducing-Killing-Machine

All this would be a huge problem for our politicians involved. IF, among other things, we weren’t the proud recipients of the finest, most informative, hard hitting infotainment media organisations in the world.

Whether it’s the Iraqi ingrates and their thanklessness at the huge US sacrifice for democracy, or the recycled, 60 year old, two headed polemic once again coming to the fore amid the newest escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, blame shifting is the core principle of contemporary political analysis, the basic tenet of every mainstream pundit’s ideology, because the lean-mean-fact-reducing-killing-machine that is the press could make a Disney villain look like a princess

Churnalism not Journalism

Churnalism not Journalism

It’s true that the solutions for IS expansion, while fairly simple in theory, pose problems for the interests, and reputation of the US and its most vocal allies in the long run. Those could easily be resolved by the fact that it is unlikely that the US would ally with Iran, publicly at least, considering its systematic vitriol against the Iranian regime in the past few years, something shared with its strongest Middle Eastern ally, namely the state of Israel. And the Obama Administration has already promised against US troops returning to fight in Iraq, something that would further help curdle the mess his predecessor ultimately created and he himself welcomed and exacerbated with open arms. But when you start something, you finish it, and if most of your previous rhetoric is centered on how what you started was done for the benefit of the people it affected the most and conducive to a cohesive and civilised society, and the end result is the antithesis, then there is some serious self-evaluation to be done before one thinks of a just solution. That is a principle that should be of paramount importance for all parties involved.

What did Albert Einstein say about insanity again?

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

 

Now if that isn’t the mutual, masochistic love affair between the Middle East and the US in a nutshell, pigs do indeed fly…

belltoon512

I Am A Traitor. I Am A RAW Agent. I am A Kafir. I Am A Pakistani With An Awakened Conscience.

A thought provoking and compelling piece that forces brutal reflection…

Hafsa Khawaja's Blog

Winston Churchill once said,

‘’You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.’’

A slightly simplified or altered version of this quote goes as ‘A person who has no enemies never stood up for anything or anyone.’

It may be universally true but for Pakistan, I ‘reshape’ the quote to; If you’ve never been called a Kafir, traitor, RAW or MOSSAD Agent, it means you’ve never stood up for anything.

And today I’ll confess what makes me liable to be labelled any of the aforementioned terms on the virtual world.

I am a traitor for I chose to speak.

I am part of the ‘Fifth column of the enemy’ for I ask of the Army’s budget to be accounted for and known to the nation. I am a RAW Agent for it agonizes me to see the oppression being carried out in Balochistan by no…

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