BJP and Israel: Hindu Nationalism is Ravaging India’s Democracy by RAMZY BAROUD

It was only a matter of time before the anti-Muslim sentiment in India turned violent.

A country that has historically prided itself on its diversity and tolerance, and for being ‘the largest democracy in the world’ has, in recent years, exhibited the exact opposite qualities – chauvinism, racism, religious intolerance, and, at times, extreme violence.

The latest round of violence ensued on February 23, one day before US President Donald Trump arrived in Delhi on his first official visit to India. Continue reading

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What Trump is Doing in the Middle East While You are Distracted by COVID-19 by ROBERT FISK

And still the virus shrouds Donald Trump’s mischief in the Middle East.

First it was his sly retreat from Iraq; now it’s his cosy military exercises with the United Arab Emirates – famous in song and legend as a former Saudi ally in the bloody Yemen war – and his cut of $1bn in aid to Afghanistan because its presidential feuding may hamper another deal with his newly established chums in the Taliban. And then there’s Iran

So let’s look for a moment at the extraordinary mock city built in the Emirates – complete with multi-storey buildings, hotels, apartment complexes, an airport control tower, oil refineries and a central mosque – which Emirati troops and US Marines have been assaulting with much clamour in a joint military exercise. According to the Associated Press reporter who watched this Hollywood-style epic, Emirati soldiers rappelled from helicopters while Marines “searched narrow streets on the Persian Gulf for mock-enemy forces”.

But who were these “forces”? Iranian, perhaps? In which case, the mock-mosque was presumably Shia, the oil refineries presumably in southern Iran, and the old streets in one of Iran’s ancient cities. Surely not Shiraz. Surely not Isfahan. Continue reading

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India’s Failed Democracy by MEL GURTOV

India is often billed as the world’s biggest democracy. But that title has worn thin: Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is becoming a nationalist state home to Hindus and closed to Muslims. A new citizenship law is exclusionist: It provides a path to citizenship for every religion save Islam, which is practiced by roughly 16 percent of India’s population, or nearly 200 million people. Modi proclaims the law part of the “New India.”

Besides being inhumane, the new law is clearly unconstitutional. According to India’s constitution, any “person who has his domicile in the territory of India and—(a) who was born in the territory of India; or (b) either of whose parents was born in the territory of India; or (c) who has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India for not less than five years immediately preceding such commencement, shall be a citizen of India.” Among the “fundamental rights” granted under the constitution are: (1) “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” (2) “The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them. No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition . . . ” Continue reading

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The Assassination of Gen. Qasem Soleimani by GARY LEUPP

In 2003 the U.S. committed the crime of the century, invading, destroying and occupying the modern state of Iraq, ushering in an era of misery, terror and chaos in the region. Or one could say that the invasion continued an era launched by the ill-fated invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, justified by the 9/11 attacks, which—have you noticed?—is ending in abject failure and humiliating retreat.

Within a year after the invasion of Iraq, a branch of al-Qaeda appeared in the wrecked country, where (despite the lies of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and others) it had never, ever existed before. It quickly found recruits among the Sunnis, whose basic institutions (the Baath Party and the national army) had been dissolved by the clueless occupiers. Largely suppressed during the U.S. “surge” in 2007, al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia morphed into ISIL, establishing a base in Raqqa, Syria by 2013. Therefrom it fanned back across Iraq, taking the cities of Mosul, Ramadi, Tikrit and Fallujah as the demoralized, incompetent U.S.-trained Iraqi forces bolted in 2015.

For a decade, the U.S. had inflicted misery upon misery on the Iraqi people. Now the worst type of fiends imaginable—men who enslaved Yezidis, raped non-Muslim women, crucified and beheaded children, pulverized monuments, buried people alive, burned a captured pilot alive in a cage—were taking over Iraq. The situation was so dire that the Iraqi government requested a return of the (hated) U.S. troops to aid in the war against the even worse threat of ISIL.

But it also called on Iran. It was the most natural thing to do. Iran was the friendly neighboring country. It is predominantly Shiite, like Iraq. Iraq is, aside from tiny Bahrain, the only majority-Shiite Arab nation. Iranians and Iraqis share a dread of Sunni intolerance (such as prevails in Saudi Arabia and among the Taliban in Afghanistan).

Of course Baghdad would want to draw upon the talents of General Qasem Soleimani. He had been a hero of the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s (in which the U.S. had backed Saddam Hussein in invading Iran). He was a decisive link among Shiite forces in the region, including Lebanon’s Hizbollah that had driven out the Israelis in 2006, and the Syrian regime struggling to suppress ISIL, al-Nusra, and U.S.-backed forces hell-bent on regime change. Iran had opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq but was pleased that it had led to the formation of a Shiite-led government. Tehran has sought cordial relations with a series of U.S.-back administrations, who have themselves struggled to maintain neutrality in the U.S.-Iran confrontation.

But the U.S. having conquered Iraq has sought to deny it an independent relationship with Iran. It has sought to integrate Iraq into a pro-Saudi, pro-Israel, anti-Iran, anti-Syria, anti-Hizbollah alliance. But it has failed. (The architects of the criminal war had no idea about the differences between Sunnis and Shiites, no realization that their moves would strengthen Iran.) In the decisive battles against ISIL in 2015 Soleimani and the “Iran-backed” Shiite militia played a key role. They are appreciated, while the U.S. is despised, for obvious reasons.

And now Donald Trump has murdered him, and multiple others who have fought ISIL, including nine Iraqis in the Popular Mobilization Forces. It is a crime comparable to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi ordered by the Saudi crown prince, a Trump family pal. Mainstream media commentators who deadpan “He was a bad actor” (hence, it was not thaT bad to kill him) are simply following script and confirming that under capitalism you must at the end of the day kiss the ass of the ruling class.

Far from rallying behind the U.S. following the assassination of Soleimani, the elected representatives of the Iraqi people in Baghdad are now—as the State Department warns all U.S. citizens to flee Iraq immediately—demanding the immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces. That will be a major step towards the restoration of national dignity. Iran will as usual show restraint; it has not attacked another country in 300 years. Soleimani will be glorified as a martyr throughout the Shiite world, and even by some Sunnis (Hamas has issued a statement mourning the murder of the general); Iraq will bond more tightly with Iran and if ISIL resurfaces Iran will again help combat it.

As we speak the world condemns the U.S. action. The UK, France, and Germany all criticize it. Pompeo looks angry and perplexed; he’s indignant that the Europeans aren’t on board the program. Russia is outraged, China indignant at the murders. Only Netanyahu’s Israel stands with the assassin-president.

Trump warns Iran to not retaliate for Soleimani’s murder, lest the U.S. destroy 52 sites in Iran, including cultural ones. A vicious sadist, Trump demands Iran to accept U.S. impunity. It must obey. That’s all the Iranians can do—call Trump, praise him, negotiate a deal with him that prohibits their ties to mass-based organizations around their region. Pompeo’s list of 12 demands to Iran, presented in May 2018, as the price of a U.S. return to the nuclear deal offend the whole world in their sadistic, idiotic arrogance.

Now the U.S. has committed a high-level, acknowledged crime virtually announcing to the Iraqi and Iranian peoples that it craves their hatred. Bring it on! thinks the bone-spur president, champion of war criminals, hero of the attack on Syria following the (fake) Douma chemical attack in April 2018, and the deployment of MOAB (the biggest non-nuclear bomb) in Afghanistan, to make some point in April 2017. The president who’s boasted as being “the most militarist person there is” (Aug. 17, 2015) has sealed himself off from the civilized world by a remarkably stupid decision.

This could be the end of the post-9/11 world of U.S. hegemony, the birth of a multilateral world in which the actions of the moron-ruled country necessarily focus the efforts of the anxious others on containment of U.S. madness.


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America Escalates Its “Democratic” Oil War in the Near East – Michael Hudson Jan 6.2020

The mainstream media are carefully sidestepping the method behind America’s seeming madness in assassinating Islamic Revolutionary Guard general Qassim Suleimani to start the New Year. The logic behind the assassination was a long-standing application of U.S. global policy, not just a personality quirk of Donald Trump’s impulsive action. His assassination of Iranian military leader Suleimani was indeed a unilateral act of war in violation of international law, but it was a logical step in a long-standing U.S. strategy. It was explicitly authorized by the Senate in the funding bill for the Pentagon that it passed last year.

The assassination was intended to escalate America’s presence in Iraq to keep control of the region’s oil reserves, and to back Saudi Arabia’s Wahabi troops (Isis, Al Quaeda in Iraq, Al Nusra and other divisions of what are actually America’s foreign legion) to support U.S. control of Near Eastern oil as a buttress of the U.S. dollar. That remains the key to understanding this policy, and why it is in the process of escalating, not dying down. Continue reading

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After Mossad Targeted Soleimani, Trump Pulled the Trigger by JEFFERSON MORLEY

Last October Yossi Cohen, head of Israel’s Mossad, spoke openly about assassinating Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, the head of the elite Quds Force in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

“He knows very well that his assassination is not impossible,” Cohen said in an interview. Soleimani had boasted that the Israel’s tried to assassinate him in 2006 and failed.

“With all due respect to his bluster,” Cohen said, “he hasn’t necessarily committed the mistake yet that would place him on the prestigious list of Mossad’s assassination targets.”

“Is Israel Targeting Iran’s Top General for Assassination?” I asked on October 24. On Thursday, Soleimani was killed in an air strike ordered by President Trump.

Soleimani’s convoy was struck by U.S. missiles as he left a meeting at Baghdad’s airport amid anti-Iranian and anti-American demonstrations in Iraq. Supporters of an Iranian-backed militia had agreed to withdraw from the U.S. diplomatic compound in return for a promise that the government would allow a parliamentary vote on expelling 5,000 U.S. troops from the country.

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Blood and Soil in Narendra Modi’s India By Dexter Filkins

On August 11th, two weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent soldiers in to pacify the Indian state of Kashmir, a reporter appeared on the news channel Republic TV, riding a motor scooter through the city of Srinagar. She was there to assure viewers that, whatever else they might be hearing, the situation was remarkably calm. “You can see banks here and commercial complexes,” the reporter, Sweta Srivastava, said, as she wound her way past local landmarks. “The situation makes you feel good, because the situation is returning to normal, and the locals are ready to live their lives normally again.” She conducted no interviews; there was no one on the streets to talk to.

Other coverage on Republic TV showed people dancing ecstatically, along with the words “Jubilant Indians celebrate Modi’s Kashmir masterstroke.” A week earlier, Modi’s government had announced that it was suspending Article 370 of the constitution, which grants autonomy to Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state. The provision, written to help preserve the state’s religious and ethnic identity, largely prohibits members of India’s Hindu majority from settling there. Modi, who rose to power trailed by allegations of encouraging anti-Muslim bigotry, said that the decision would help Kashmiris, by spurring development and discouraging a long-standing guerrilla insurgency. To insure a smooth reception, Modi had flooded Kashmir with troops and detained hundreds of prominent Muslims—a move that Republic TV described by saying that “the leaders who would have created trouble” had been placed in “government guesthouses.”

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As repression in India gets worse, notable figures remain silent – Rana Ayyub

Over the past weeks I’ve received a number of alarming messages about police repression and intimidation in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

“If you see this, help us,” read an urgent message I received on Dec. 21 from an assistant professor in Muzaffarnagar, barely three hours from India’s capital, New Delhi. He told me police officers were on a rampage in his neighborhood.

Another man in the same area sent me videos of state security forces barging into his neighbor’s house. “They threatened his father, asked him if Islam allowed him to have sex with his own daughter and started laughing,” the man said. “They opened the cupboards, stole the gold, jewelry, vandalized their homes.” One of the officers pushed the father to the ground and said, “You circumcised must remember, this is the price you pay for protesting” — a reference to the demonstrations that have spread across India in the past weeks over the passage of a discriminatory citizenship law pushed by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.The Bharatiya Janata Party government in Uttar Pradesh — led by Yogi Adityanath, an Islamophobic hard-line Hindu monk — had warned protesters of revenge on Dec. 19. Within hours, I and other journalists were flooded with calls and messages about police vandalism and brutality — just before the state cut off the Internet. Also on Dec. 21, I received a frantic call from an orphanage for young Muslim students in Muzaffarnagar. The line disconnected. I tried calling back but the line went unanswered. A few days later, a disturbing news report emerged. Teenage Muslim students of the Sadat Hostel had been beaten and forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” (Glory to Lord Ram). The teacher, an elderly Muslim cleric, was stripped and humiliated. More than 20 people have been killed in this latest wave of repression — all of them Muslims killed because of a BJP government warning of revenge. Thousands have been arrested. I am a Muslim journalist who has witnessed the worst anti-Muslim carnages up close, and the repression and intimidation in Uttar Pradesh bring back nightmares that we wish to erase from our recent memories.

But this is all a manifestation of hate fanned by Modi and nurtured among his supporters in the security forces. The prime minister has maintained a dangerous and strategic silence through it all, and it’s impossible not to think of his role in the anti-Muslim violence of 2002, when he was a provincial minister in Gujarat. Whether Modi’s police in 2002 or Adityanath’s in 2019, the hate remains unchanged. As the constitution is trampled and Muslims are once again threatened, Indians have noticed the silence, hypocrisy and complicity of powerful sectors — in particular the film industry. Paranoia about Muslims is reflected in mainstream Bollywood. Since Modi assumed power, filmmakers have been bending over backward to please the Indian right wing. Film after film over the past four years has had a common enemy — a kohl-eyed Muslim ruler whose debauched gaze preys on Indian Hindu women, or the evil Muslim sultanate that wants to pull India away from its magnanimous Hindu supremacy.

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To invoke Allah or to not: Secular Islamophobia and the protesting Indian Muslim – MUDASIR AMIN AND SAMREEN MUSHTAQ

At around noon on 14 December, a middle-aged  man was painting on a wall of Jamia Millia Islamia’s Chemistry Department that faces the varsity’s Central Canteen. That day, many students were painting colourful messages on every other wall in Jamia, expressing their opposition to the recently enacted Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.

But the man’s brush strokes were an attempt to efface an Islamic proclamation of faith written in Arabic on the wall: “La ilaha illallah”—There is no god but Allah. A group of about fifteen students and security guards were standing next to him. The group started cheering on the guards for paying heed to their complaint against the “communal slogan,” and asking someone to repaint it. At that moment, another group of about ten–fifteen students walked into scene, visibly upset at the attempt of effacement. One of them said, “How dare you attempt to remove this? Isn’t this the whole reason why Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens are being used to target us?” 

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India: Intimations of an Ending The rise of Modi and the Hindu far right. By Arundhati Roy

While protest reverberates on the streets of Chile, Catalonia, Bolivia, Britain, France, Iraq, Lebanon, and Hong Kong, and a new generation rages against what has been done to their planet, I hope you will forgive me for speaking about a place where the street has been taken over by something quite different. There was a time when dissent was India’s best export. But now, even as protest swells in the West, our great anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movements for social and environmental justice—the marches against big dams, against the privatization and plunder of our rivers and forests, against mass displacement and the alienation of indigenous peoples’ homelands—have largely fallen silent. On September 17 this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifted himself the filled-to-the-brim reservoir of the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada River for his 69th birthday, while thousands of villagers who had fought that dam for more than 30 years watched their homes disappear under the rising water. It was a moment of great symbolism.

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