Other Sources

Afghanistan faces severe clean water shortage

Al Jazeera - Sun, 25 Mar 2018 - 8:27am
The Hindu Kush mountain range, which has long been Afghanistan's main source of water, is under threat due to the rapid melting of glaciers.

Here is where Cory Booker ranks among 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls

The Raw Story - Sun, 25 Mar 2018 - 8:22am

Where Cory Booker ranks among 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Cory Booker “may have the highest upside” and moved up to fifth on the Washington Post’s list of the most likely 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. While any announcements likely ...

The post Here is where Cory Booker ranks among 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls appeared first on Raw Story.

‘Tonight is not the end – it’s the beginning’: Stormy Daniels’ attorney taunts Trump with promise of more evidence

The Raw Story - Sun, 25 Mar 2018 - 8:15am

The attorney for adult actress Stormy Daniels took to Twitter on Sunday morning to promise the public — and likely taunt President Donald Trump – that the blockbuster 60 Minutes interview to be shown later in the evening will just be a taste of the evidence to be revealed about a sexual ...

The post ‘Tonight is not the end – it’s the beginning’: Stormy Daniels’ attorney taunts Trump with promise of more evidence appeared first on Raw Story.

Mofaz: Bolton wanted Israel to attack Iran

Al Jazeera - Sun, 25 Mar 2018 - 7:58am
Israel's ex-defence chief doesn't think this was 'smart'.

‘I want a world without Islamists!’ Fox host gets massively triggered over student march and donates to NRA

The Raw Story - Sun, 25 Mar 2018 - 7:57am

Fox News host Pete Hegseth on Sunday said that he was so upset by the students calling for gun control during the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. that he reacted by spontaneously donating to the National Rifle Association. The morning after students from around the country rallied against sc...

The post ‘I want a world without Islamists!’ Fox host gets massively triggered over student march and donates to NRA appeared first on Raw Story.

'El Maestro' Jose Antonio Abreu dies

Al Jazeera - Sun, 25 Mar 2018 - 7:49am
'Thanks to Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu for his beautiful legacy for the boys, girls and young people of Venezuela.'

'Orange snow' baffles eastern Europeans

BBC News - Sun, 25 Mar 2018 - 7:42am
The strange phenomenon caused by snow mixing with sand is sighted in Russia and other countries.

Catalonia ex-leader Carles Puigdemont arrested in Germany

Al Jazeera - Sun, 25 Mar 2018 - 7:34am
Fugitive separatist ex-leader Carles Puigdemont has been detained on Spanish arrest warrant, German police say.

‘Fame & fortune will NEVER be turned down’: Trump boasts ‘top law firms want to represent me in the Russia case’

The Raw Story - Sun, 25 Mar 2018 - 7:20am

President Donald Trump kept up his Twitter frenzy on Sunday morning after remaining mostly silent on Saturday, saying there are many lawyers who would love to represent him as he faces scrutiny by special counsel Robert Mueller. According to the president, his wealth and “fame” are a maj...

The post ‘Fame & fortune will NEVER be turned down’: Trump boasts ‘top law firms want to represent me in the Russia case’ appeared first on Raw Story.

New Jersey cops say fellow officer crossed line in bloody arrest of teen — here are the candid conversations

The Raw Story - Sun, 25 Mar 2018 - 6:48am

Cops say fellow officer crossed line in bloody arrest. Here are the candid conversations. One officer described a chaotic scene when he arrived at an arrest last year to find a bruised 16-year-old cuffed and face down in a bed of rocks with “blood all over the f—–g place.” A ...

The post New Jersey cops say fellow officer crossed line in bloody arrest of teen — here are the candid conversations appeared first on Raw Story.

Police routinely using dead people’s fingerprints to access iPhones: report

The Raw Story - Sun, 25 Mar 2018 - 6:41am

Police routinely using dead people’s fingerprints to access iPhones: Report Law enforcement agencies in the U.S. routinely use the fingerprints of dead people to bypass biometric safeguards meant to protect Apple iPhones from being unlocked, according to a new report. Forbes reported Thursday ...

The post Police routinely using dead people’s fingerprints to access iPhones: report appeared first on Raw Story.

Egypt’s Election Should Be a Lock. So Why Is President Sisi Worried?

World News (NY Times) - Sun, 25 Mar 2018 - 6:32am
The campaign has exposed tensions in Egypt’s security establishment that appear to have rattled Mr. Sisi, who has ratcheted up repression.

Australia ball-tampering: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull shocked by 'cheating'

BBC News - Sun, 25 Mar 2018 - 5:18am
Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian prime minister, says it is "beyond belief" that the national cricket team was involved in "cheating" during the third Test match against South Africa

Trump Happy, Bolton Sad? Syrian Regime claims 90% of E. Ghouta as 105k civilians Flee

Informed Comment - Sun, 25 Mar 2018 - 4:04am

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

One of the last major rebel enclaves in Syria, East Ghouta, is near to falling back completely under the control of the Baath regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. The enclave consists of three districts, Harasta, Zamalka-Irbin-Jobar, and Douma, east and south of the capital. Although the guerrilla groups that dominated these areas tended to be hard line Salafis, many of the ordinary Sunni people living there in their hundreds of thousands were just tired of the dictatorial, kleptomaniac and sectarian-biased Baath regime.

Douma is the hold-out.

These events underline the split in the Trump administration. Trump himself has sometimes suggested that Syria would be better off under an Arab strong man such as Bashar al-Assad and that Putin should be allowed to handle Syria.

Trump’s new National Security Adviser, John Bolton, has urged that the Syrian government be overthrown and a Sunni Arab (fundamentalist, al-Qaeda-linked?) state be established there. Although Bolton is a bigotted Muslim-hater, his willingness to turn Syria over to Salafi guerrillas derives from his greater hatred of Iran, which he would like to block in Syria and Lebanon, in part on behalf of the Israeli right wing.

The Russian army said Sunday morning it was postponing further talks with guerrillas in Douma until the evacuation of fighters from Zamalka-Irbin-Jobar. Although in the meantime there is supposed to be a ceasefire at Douma, the regime and Russian fighter jets continue to pound it.

An intense regime and Russian campaign of artillery and air bombardment in recent weeks has led to the exodus of some 105,000 civilians from East Ghouta (former population estimated at 400,000, but likely it was much less even before this recent campaign). It constitutes suburbs and rural villages to the east and south of Damascus. The Syrian Observatory, a pro-rebel web site run in the UK, estimates that 1600 persons have been killed since the recent campaign began. Critics charge that the Syrian Arab Army and the Russian Aerospace Forces have engaged in indiscriminate bombardment, sometimes collapsing civilian apartment buildings and crushing families and children.

As Al Jazeera English explains, Harasta had been dominated by the Freemen of Syria hard line Salafi guerrilla group, but on Wednesday those fighters admitted that they were immobilized by surrounding regime forces and lacked medicine and under constant bombardment. They agreed to be evacuated to the province of Idlib in the north, where the Freemen of Syria is one of several important guerrilla groups.

The Brigades of the All-Merciful, holding the neighborhoods of Jobar, Zamalka and Irbin, agreed on Friday to be evacuated to Idlib, as well, and 7,000 of these fighters along with some civilians began leaving on Saturday.

As part of the deal with the Brigades of the All-Merciful, their allies, the Syrian Conquest Front (formerly Nusra Front and formerly an al-Qaeda affiliate) that dominates the nearby Yarmouk Palestinian camp (through no fault of the refugee Palestinians, most of whom have left) also agreed to be evacuated to Idlib.

Part of this evacuation deal involved a Russian offer to provide military police to patrol the neighborhoods abandoned by the rebel fighters, in an attempt to mollify the local populations about the danger of Baath reprisals. The Baath secret police is vicious and has killed tens of thousands of people, including 10,000 jailed detainees, during the seven-year war. The secret police are dominated by members of the ruling Alawite sect of Shiism, while most East Ghouta residents are conservative Sunni Arabs. Some observers estimate Alawites at 14 percent of the Syrian population, while Sunni Arabs are probably 65%. A majority of Syrian Sunnis, however, are urban and secular-minded and have stuck with the secular Baath regime rather than joining with their fundamentalist co-religionists, who tend to be from the urban working classes or the rural towns and villages.

The last remaining rebel enclave, Douma, is held by the Saudi-backed Jaysh al-Islam. It has bad relations with the Freemen of Syria, which seems to be a Turkish proxy, and with the Syrian Conquest Front (former Nusra), which dominates Idlib. Bad relations, as in, they have engaged in vicious firefights with them. So for Jaysh al-Islam, going to Idlib is not an option. It is not as if, anyway, Idlib is a desirable destination. The regime and the Russian Aerospace Forces have been making a move on it in recent months, as well. Al Jazeera says there is talk of Jaysh al-Islam going west, near the Lebanese border, but I can’t imagine Lebanon and Hizbullah would be happy about that.

—–

Bonus video:

Euronews: “Ghouta exodus continues as Syrian army strengthens grip on city”

‘We Are Ready to Die.’ Five North Korean Defectors Who Never Made It.

World News (NY Times) - Sun, 25 Mar 2018 - 4:00am
Around 30,000 North Koreans have successfully defected to the South. But under the reign of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, far fewer people are getting out.

The March for Our Lives in Pictures: Massive Crowds Mourn Victims, Condemn Complicit Politicians

Informed Comment - Sun, 25 Mar 2018 - 2:57am

By Julia Conley, staff writer | (Commondreams.org ) | – –

“Who here is going to vote in the 2018 election? If you listen real close, you can hear the people in power shaking.”

Taking the stage on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, high school student David Hogg offered hundreds of thousands of audience members a visual representation of his reasons for helping to organize the March for Our Lives, a worldwide gun control advocacy demonstration.

“I’m going to start off by putting this price tag right here as a reminder for you guys to know how much Marco Rubio took for every student’s life in Florida,” Hogg said, placing a price tag reading “$1.05” on the podium.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has received $3,303,355 from the National Rifle Association (NRA). Because the #NeverAgain movement has found that there are 3,140,167 children enrolled in Florida’s schools, Hogg reasoned, each child’s life is worth approximately one dollar to the senator.

“I’m going to start off by putting this price tag right here as a reminder for you guys to know how much Marco Rubio took for every student’s life in Florida,” Parkland survivor David Hogg says at #MarchForOurLives. pic.twitter.com/i54QSygI4C

— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) March 24, 2018

“When politicians say that your voice doesn’t matter because the NRA owns them, we say: No more. When politicians send their thoughts and prayers with no action, we say: No more. And to those politicians supported by the NRA, that allow the continued slaughter of our children and our future, I say: Get your résumés ready,” said Hogg.

The student was one of several speakers at the march from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 14 of Hogg’s classmates and three staff members were killed in a mass shooting on February 14.

After reading the names of the victims, Emma Gonzalez, who has been a prominent voice in the school community’s calls for common-sense gun control reforms in recent weeks, stood silently for six minutes and 20 seconds to signify the amount of time it took for a gunman with an AR-15 to kill the 17 people.

Emma Gonzalez led a powerful, minutes-long silence at #MarchForOurLives after speaking the names of her 17 classmates who died during the Parkland shooting. pic.twitter.com/wiz8qCV3CJ

— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) March 24, 2018

There’s near-complete silence on Pennsylvania Ave. as Douglas student activist Emma Gonzalez lists the things her slain friends will never again get to do, then stops speaking.

— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) March 24, 2018

Gonzalez maintained her emotional silence until the length of the massacre had elapsed. Lots of crying people.

— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) March 24, 2018

Attendees hold up peace signs as Emma Gonzalez holds a 6 minute and 20 second moment of silence. @CFFocus_ #KnightsMarchForOurLives pic.twitter.com/74Kv75zvDj

— Caroline Jackson (@Caroline_R_J) March 24, 2018

Prior to the students’ speeches, hundreds of thousands of Americans marched through the city, many carrying signs reading “Never Again” and chanting “Enough is enough!”

The crowd is massive here at #MarchForOurLives. Lots of colorful signs calling for gun-control and calling out lawmakers and the NRA. There’s even a poop emoji ballon with @Emma4Change’s quote “We call b.s.” pic.twitter.com/Zq9cVDoEAw

— Christal Hayes (@Journo_Christal) March 24, 2018

This crowd is overwhelming and so, so awesome to see. The #MarchForOurLives in DC extends for blocks and blocks and blocks. pic.twitter.com/V6Jk65B7cD

— Nick Dean (@bynickdean) March 24, 2018

By 1:00pm in Washington, more than 207,000 people had ridden the city’s Metro—more than three times the average number of Saturday riders.

“Sibling marches” both large and small took place in cities across the country.

#MarchForOurLives NYC protesters as far as the eye can see. pic.twitter.com/ndEaeCnAzq

— RosieCT (@RosieCT50) March 24, 2018

From today’s march in Vermont: “Try to get your hands on some nice French raw cheese,” she says, suggesting it would be easier to buy a gun. pic.twitter.com/I53DlF3Gj6

— Jess Bidgood (@jessbidgood) March 24, 2018

Chants of “the N.R.A. has got to go” as the march continues in Chicago. pic.twitter.com/gjq5pTb1P6

— Mitch Smith (@MitchKSmith) March 24, 2018

Guys, this is what hope looks like. #marchforourlives #neveragain #BirminghamAL pic.twitter.com/TmieokMEwo

— Ginger (@gin313) March 24, 2018

On every continent except Antarctica, supporters—many from countries that have had strict regulations on gun ownership for decades—staged protests in solidarity with American students.

Berlin: participants from around the world showing solidarity w the marchers in the US #marchforourlives pic.twitter.com/h2gqKaYAlB

— Maya Shwayder (@MayaErgas) March 24, 2018

Sign from #MarchForOurLives in Sydney, Australia. pic.twitter.com/AN9oM53fLF

— The ’60s at 50 (@the_60s_at_50) March 23, 2018

A huge turn-out at the #MarchForOurLives outside the US Embassy in Nine Elms in London calling for sweeping changing on gun control @LBC pic.twitter.com/Y24vP5g28A

— Lucy Hough (@lucyhough33) March 24, 2018

In Washington, D.C., Hogg alluded to the fact, often-repeated by the #NeverAgain movement, that many of the students who survived the Parkland shooting will be voting for the first time in the 2018 or 2020 elections.

“Who here is going to vote in the 2018 election?” he asked the crowd. “If you listen real close, you can hear the people in power shaking.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Via Commondreams.org

——

Bonus video added by Informed Comment:

CNN: “Massive crowds rally coast to coast to demand gun control”

For World Poetry Day, Verses Straight From Persia’s Heart

Informed Comment - Sun, 25 Mar 2018 - 2:17am

By Salam Aleik | ( GlobalVoices.org) | – –

How might someone in Tajikistan, the only Persian-speaking republic in the former Soviet Union, describe a beautiful and lively night spent in the company of family and friends?

Perhaps he or she would use the word dilafruz, which literally means ‘firing the heart’.


Azerbaijani folk art based on the Layla and Majnun novel by Nizami Ganjavi. CC BY 3.0.

If that person spent the night alone in a depressed state, however, the word chosen might be diltang, which would indicate a ‘narrowing of the heart’.

In a country where poetry runs in the blood, falling in love can be described in a dozen different ways. One can be dil bastan (heart-tied), or have a dil gum zadan – a racing heart.

Correspondingly, the person that triggers this state might be called a dilrabo (heart stealer), while freezing someone’s heart is dil khunuk shudan, a somewhat dramatic take on getting dumped.

Languages full of heart – and verse!

The Tajik language is closely related to the Indo-Iranian languages spoken in Iran (Farsi) and Afghanistan (Dari). In Farsi, the literary word for heart is closer to del in pronunciation. Dari’s dil is like the Tajik.



World map adapted by Mani1 to show areas where Persian is spoken. Creative Commons.

Moreover, across the Eurasian sub-region indicated above, dil (written “дил” in the Cyrillic alphabet Tajikstan still uses) is the heartbeat of a rich poetic tradition stretching back at least as far as the first milennium AD.

One of the most famous proponents of this tradition was Jalaluddin Rumi, the roaming 13th century wordsmith and philosopher beloved by all Persian-speaking peoples.

  • Translation
  • Original Quote

Whatever secret and lies you have in your heart,

We see them all like a day with our eyes,

The heart has no country…

Rumi’s romanticism is eclipsed however by Nizami Ganjavi, a bard writing in the century before him.

Ganjavi hailed from Ganja (his name literally means Nizam of Ganja) which is part of modern-day Azerbaijan.

Here are some couplets from his epic Khosrow and Shirin, in which the Sasanian ruler (Khosrow) engages in a poetry battle with his love rival Farhad over the heart of an Armenian princess, Shirin.

Asked: Did you fall in love from the heart?

Answered: You talk about the heart, I talk about the soul.

Asked: When will you clean your heart from her love?

Answered: When I will be under the ground.

Said: Kick Shirin’s love out of your heart!

Asked: But how would I live without my dear soul?



Rudaki monument in Tajikistan. Creative Commons Flickr image by Julian Galbert.

Going back even further (858-941 AD), there is Rudaki of Panjikent (modern-day Tajikistan), considered by some as the Godfather of Persian poetry.

Your love took patience and heart from me,

Your beautiful face drove my mind and heart to distraction.

The sadness I have in my heart, is like a mountain,

The heart you have under your chest is like a stone.

In the 21st century, the internet and social networks have led to a vast increase in the number of published poets that once part of Persia’s empire.

Firdaws Azam, a 21st century Tajik poet, often uses Facebook as a space to post stanzas such as these:

One day I will lose myself among memories,
Look for heart in the memories, dear.

I cut my heart out of spring against my will,
Because, (they) glued me to a cold autumn.

Happy World Poetry Day!

In 1999 that the United Nations decided World Poetry Day should be marked on March 21, a date that also marks the celebration of the Spring Equinox across much of Eurasia.

It is unlikely that this decision was a coincidence. A key to the UN’s thinking on the day comes in former UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova’s comment that “poetry embodies the creative energy of culture, for it can be continuously renewed.”

For members of the Persian-speaking world, Nowruz is one of the most important dates of the year. Thus, the fact that the poetic tradition to which it has contributed so greatly is also recognised on the same day, feels deeply symbolic.

As one saying goes, “a heart finds its way to a heart”.

Written by Salam Aleik

Via GlobalVoices.org

Can Isolationist Trump and Neocon NSC Pick Bolton really Get Along?

Informed Comment - Sun, 25 Mar 2018 - 2:06am

By Carl Schreck | ( RFE/RL) | – –

While U.S. President Donald Trump has previously denounced “regime change” and “nation-building,” John Bolton, his choice for national-security adviser, has been a vocal proponent of American intervention abroad.

In selecting former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton as his new national-security adviser, U.S. President Donald Trump has tapped a man whose foreign policy record stands at odds with central elements of Trump’s stated vision of America’s role in the world.

While Trump has previously denounced “regime change” and “nation-building,” the 69-year-old Bolton is a vocal proponent of U.S. intervention abroad and has advocated overthrowing governments hostile to the United States. Bolton is also a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government, with whom Trump has voiced a desire to mend bilateral ties that have been battered over the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, as well as alleged Russian meddling in U.S. elections.

Bolton’s hard-line views on Iran and North Korea align more closely with Trump’s. But shortly after Bolton argued in February that it would be “perfectly legitimate” for Washington to carry out a preemptive strike against Pyongyang, the White House said Trump had accepted an invitation to meet with North Korea’s leader to discuss its nuclear program.

Bolton said in an interview with Fox News following Trump’s March 22 announcement of his appointment that his earlier statements on a range of issues are now “behind me.”

“The important thing is what the president says and the advice I give him,” he said.

Here’s a look at what Bolton has said on these and other major foreign policy issues.

Russia And Vladimir Putin

Bolton is a hawk when it comes to Russia and its president, citing the need for strong “deterrence” to counter what he calls Putin’s aggressive projection of power abroad reminiscent of the Soviet Union’s.

“Vladimir Putin’s Russia is on the prowl in Eastern Europe and the Middle East in ways unprecedented since the Cold War,” Bolton told The Washington Post shortly after Trump’s November 2016 election. “Unchecked by [outgoing U.S. President Barack] Obama’s weak and feckless policies, Putin has had every reason to believe that persistence will achieve any objective Russia has the capacity to seek.”

John Bolton was the U.S. ambassador to the UN from August 2005 to December 2006.

Bolton has also advocated strong-arming Putin in bilateral and national-security matters. Discussing fugitive National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden, whom Moscow has granted asylum, he said in a 2013 interview with Fox News that “in order to focus Putin’s thinking, we need to do things that cause him pain as well.”

It’s unclear whether Bolton will temper his positions or rhetoric about Russia as Trump’s new national-security adviser. Public tensions between Trump and the man Bolton is replacing — H.R. McMaster — emerged in February after McMaster said evidence of Russian meddling in U.S. was “really incontrovertible.”

“General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians,” Trump tweeted.

In July 2017, Bolton called Putin’s denial of Russian interference in U.S. elections during a meeting with Trump “insulting” and said that “attempting to undermine America’s constitution is far more than just a quotidian covert operation.”

“It is in fact a casus belli, a true act of war, and one Washington will never tolerate,” Bolton wrote.

During his presidential campaign, Trump triggered concerns among alliance members by suggesting he might jettison a protection guarantee for other NATO members if they did not boost their defense spending. That suggestion particularly alarmed Eastern European members that were under Moscow’s domain during the Soviet era.

“The ayatollahs [in Iran] are the principal threat to international peace and security and the Middle East. Now, their ouster won’t bring sweetness and light to the region, that’s for sure, but it will eliminate the principal threat.” — John Bolton in 2016

Bolton sharply criticized Trump’s comments, telling the conservative news site Breitbart News in July that the remarks were “encouraging Russian aggression” and calling them “a dagger at the heart of the most successful political/military alliance in human history. He needs to retract it, and change his position.”

Bolton views NATO as a bulwark against what he calls a “belligerent Russia,” and he said in an interview in October 2016 that “protecting Europe — Eastern and Central Europe, the former states of the Soviet Union — is extremely significant for the United States.”

He added that he fears a potential “provocation” by Moscow against the three NATO members in the Baltics — Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia — that would possibly involve Russian-speaking populations there.

If such a Russian effort were successful, Bolton added, it would be a “shattering blow” to NATO.

Iran

Trump pledged during his campaign that if he were elected, “the era of nation-building will be brought to a very swift and decisive end.”

Bolton, however, has been a prominent advocate of U.S. intervention abroad to oust hostile governments, including the 2003 invasion of Iraq that Trump has called a “disaster.” And he told Breitbart News in November 2016 that the only long-term solution to dealing with Iran is “regime change.”

“The ayatollahs are the principal threat to international peace and security and the Middle East,” he said. “Now, their ouster won’t bring sweetness and light to the region, that’s for sure, but it will eliminate the principal threat.”

Bolton is an outspoken opponent of the deal between world powers and Iran to curb the latter’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for lifting some sanctions. In the run-up to the signing of the 2015 deal, he advocated a bombing campaign targeting some of Tehran’s nuclear facilities, saying that “only military action…can accomplish what is required” to prevent Iran from developing atomic weapons.

Trump made his opposition to the deal a central part of his presidential campaign and pledged to end it, though McMaster had advocated for delaying such a move. Trump has since threatened to withdraw from the accord unless European allies and the U.S. Congress agree by May 12 to fix what he called its “disastrous flaws” and impose tough new restrictions aimed at curbing Iran’s ballistic-missile development and its involvement in regional conflicts.

Bolton has said that since the deal was signed in Vienna between the so-called P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, plus Germany) and Tehran, “Iran’s belligerent behavior worldwide has only increased.”

“Tehran clearly saw the Vienna accords as a mere rest stop on the way to extracting more concessions from the United States,” he wrote in August.

Syria

Bolton has blamed the ongoing war in Syria in part on the U.S. commitment to the Iran deal under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. He has said that Obama did not want to anger Tehran with a strong intervention against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom Iran and Russia back in the conflict.

Early on in the Syria war, Bolton wrote that Washington should approach the conflict “on the basis of strategy, not emotion” and avoid “knee-jerk reactions instead of careful analysis.” In a 2012 essay, he said that “regime change in Syria is prima facie in America’s interest,” but warned of the dangers of not knowing what a successor government might look like. He recommended backing “Syrian rebel leaders who are truly secular and who oppose radical Islam” and who would “reject Russian and Iranian hegemony over their country.”

Bolton wrote in December 2015 that “Syria and Assad are a strategic sideshow” and that the “real issue is the regime in Tehran.” Assad, he wrote, is a secondary issue compared to scrapping the Iran nuclear deal and destroying Islamic State (IS) group militants.

“Assad simply is secondary to these larger objectives. A realistic 2017 American foreign policy should focus more on eliminating the actual threats we face, not merely on their symptoms,” Bolton wrote.

Islamic State, Iraq

Bolton accused Obama of employing a “whac-a-mole strategy” to defeat IS militants and incorrectly viewing the effort against that extremist group as a “law enforcement matter” rather than a “war” on terrorists.

In order to combat IS extremists, he advocates “a robust policy based on U.S. leadership and full participation, including ground forces, to destroy ISIS” — another acronym for IS.

Bolton has also called for carving territory out of Syria and Iraq to create “a new Sunni state.”

“The government of this state could either be democratic or led, to paraphrase Franklin Roosevelt, by one of our SOBs,” he wrote, borrowing a comment on working with “sons of bitches” that is often attributed to the late U.S. president.

Expanding on this proposal in November 2015, Bolton laid out an anti-IS vision that diverged from Trump’s call for joining forces with the Kremlin in this effort. The Russian and Iranian goal of “restoring Iraqi and Syrian governments to their former borders is a goal fundamentally contrary to American, Israeli, and friendly Arab state interests,” he wrote.

“Notions, therefore, of an American-Russian coalition against the Islamic State are as undesirable as they are glib,” he wrote in The New York Times.

In a June 2017 op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Bolton wrote that the United States “ought to abandon or substantially reduce its military support for Iraq’s current government.”

“Despite retaining a tripartite veneer of Kurds, Sunni Arabs, and Shiite Arabs, the capital is dominated by Shi’ites loyal to Iran,” he wrote.

Carl Schreck is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL.
SchreckC@rferl.org

Via RFE/RL

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

====

Bonus video added by Informed Comment:

Why Trump’s new white house appointments are raising concerns | Al Jazeera English

Before phony polls, Egypt arrests, expels Times reporter Bel Trew

Informed Comment - Sun, 25 Mar 2018 - 1:52am

Middle East Monitor | – –

Egypt has deported a British journalist working for The Times, the newspaper said on Saturday, describing an “increasingly oppressive environment” for media in the country ahead of next week’s presidential election.

The Times said its correspondent, 33-year-old Bel Trew who had been based in Cairo for several years, was arrested while reporting and “forced to leave Egypt.”

“The Times deplores this attempt by the Egyptian authorities to intimidate the media and suppress our coverage,” a statement by the newspaper said, adding that Egyptian authorities had “no intention of allowing (Trew) to return.”

Egypt’s government foreign press centre, the interior ministry, and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s office, did not respond to phone calls and requests for comment via WhatsApp.

Trew said in a separate article published by The Times that she was detained by police in central Cairo on her way to conduct an interview, held for almost 24 hours and then “marched onto a plane” at Cairo airport bound for London.

Her deportation follows what human rights groups call a crackdown on press freedom aimed at stifling dissent in the run-up to the March 26-28 presidential election.

Egyptian authorities have urged legal action against media outlets they deem to be publishing “fake news”, and rights activists say several local journalists have also been arrested in recent months.

Sisi, a former military commander, is virtually guaranteed to win a second term after all serious opposition pulled out of the race citing intimidation after a major challenger was jailed.

The election commission says the vote will be free and fair and Sisi has said he wanted more candidates to run.

Sisi’s critics say he has presided over an intensifying crackdown on dissent. Supporters say tough measures are needed to stabilise the country after years of unrest that followed a 2011 popular uprising.

A British Foreign Office spokeswoman said the foreign secretary had raised Trew’s deportation with his Egyptian counterpart.

“The Egyptian authorities have not shared any evidence of wrongdoing. We will continue to press them on this case,” she added.

Via Middle East Monitor https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180324-britains-times-newspaper-condemns-egypt-over-journalists-deportation/

e This work by Middle East Monitor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

—–

Bonus video added by Informed Comment:

Euronews: “Economic issues dominate Egyptian elections next week”

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