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The new Cultural Imperialism: Palmyra’s Roman-era Ruins to be Reconstructed in Western Capitals

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It has recently been announced that replicas of the Roman-era ruins at Palmyra, which have so far survived the ISIS assault, are to be built and displayed at London’s Trafalgar Square and New York. The replica is of a 2000 year-old arch which stood inside one of the temples that the terrorist blew-up last year, and will be reconstructed using the world’s largest 3D printer. The Independent reports:

The monument was attacked by Islamist fighters and was largely reduced to rubble. One of the 15 metre high arches, which stood at the temple’s entrance, survived.

The construction of the temple entrance has been proposed by the Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA), who will use the world’s largest 3D printer for the project.

“The aim of our proposed installation is to draw attention to the global crisis surrounding the looting and despoliation of cultural heritage objects and architecture and the importance of celebrating the beauty and significance of these objects to the everyday lives of modern people.” Dr Alexy Karenowska, Director of Technology at the Institute for Digital Archaeology, told The Independent.

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The temple was dedicated to the Mesoptamian god Bel in AD32 and was the centre of religious life in the area. It was converted into a Christian church during the Byzantine era and then later into a mosque.

The full-size replicas will be the centrepiece for world heritage week in April and is reportedly being built as a symbol of defiance against Isis’s attempts to erase several aspects of Middle Eastern history.

The arch in Trafalgar Square will be made of a lightweight composite and stone powder.

The printer will work from a 3D image generated from dozens of two dimensional photographs and tourist pictures taken before the temple was blown up with barrels of high-explosive. Khaled al-Asaad, 82, the archaeologist who managed the site for 40 years, was beheaded by Isis in Palmyra’s amphitheatre.

However rather than a symbolic act of defiance in the face of international terrorism, this move by Washington and its London sidekick is akin to a slap in the face of the Syrian nation that these two countries have done so much to destroy. Lest we forget, ISIS were able to drive their large convoy of black and white Toyota trucks from the Iraqi desert to the ancient city untouched by the so-called US-led 60 nation ‘anti-ISIS coalition’ that is supposedly doing its best to ‘degrade and destroy’ the Islamic State.

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Instead the Obama administration and its despotic puppets prefer to leave this monster of their own creation untouched if there’s a chance it will come into contact with the Syrian Arab Army; or ‘Assad loyalists’ as the Western media likes to call them. The truth of the matter is that the countries whom have waged war on Syria for the last five years – namely America, the UK, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan and Israel – bear direct responsibility for the heartbreaking loss of the country’s cultural heritage and the beheading of Khaled al-Asaad; whom the media largely declined to remind readers was an employee of the state that they loathe so much.

Christiane Gruber – associate professor and director of graduate studies at the University of Michigan – explaining the meaning behind the term ‘Daesh’, says:

Over the past year, cartoonists across the Middle East have critiqued ISIS with equal amounts of ferocity and fearlessness. From Jordan to Iran, they frequently lambast ISIS—referring to it through its acronym Daesh, which is related to the pejorative Arabic term meaning “to tread under foot”—as destructive of Islam and the world’s cultural heritage, as the growling lapdog of various superpowers, as the ultimate devil and grim reaper of Iraq and as an Oscar-winning sensation obsessed with bloody forms of self-promotion.

By giving itself the authority to reconstruct Syria’s heritage in Western capitals, the American and Brits seemingly view themselves as the defenders and saviours of Middle Eastern civilisation, whose barbarians clearly need rescuing from themselves. Gruber’s description above can just as aptly describe Cameron and Obama as it does the foot-soldiers of the Islamic State.

The Syrians on the other hand, with their huge sacrifices unacknowledged, will continue the fight against the same forces who claim to be saving them.

Let’s just hope the reconstruction doesn’t convince ISIS to blow-up the remaining arch.

Replica of Syrian arch of Palmyra that survived Isis attack to be erected in Trafalgar Square and New York

Ignored and Unreported, Muslim Cartoonists and Poking Fun at ISIS

*Cartoons from Iran’s Daesh cartoon competition, entries and names of artists can be viewed here: http://resistart.ir/%DA%AF%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%DB%8C-%D8%A2%D8%AB%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%82%D9%87-%D8%A8%DB%8C%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%84%D9%84%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B9%D8%B4-%D8%A8%D8%AE%D8%B4-%DA%86%D9%87%D8%B1%D9%87/

Maariv, April 25 1984: ‘Khomeini’s atomic bomb enters final stages of production with German assistance.’

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An Israeli newspaper from 1984 reports that Iran is in the final stages of building a nuclear bomb.

Here are some further headlines throughout the years, from Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth:

Iran will be capable of producing a nuclear weapon in another seven years.
–June 26 1984

Nuclear Expert: Iran will have a nuclear weapon by the end of the decade or in seven to eight years if China, Pakistan and Argentina continue aiding it.
–November 15 1991

Within 10 years Syria will have a nuclear weapon.
June 15 1992

Iran will have an operational nuclear weapon in the next five to eight years
– September 20, 1992

Iran will have a nuclear weapon by 2000
– December 1 1992

Rabin: Iran has the manpower and will to get a nuclear weapon within ten years.
– January 21 1993

Iran has in its possession a nuclear weapon ready for immediate deployment
– January 24, 1993

By year’s end Iran will be a nuclear threat against Israel
– April 9 1993

Iran may achieve nuclear capability at any moment
– January 9 1995

Iran wants a nuclear weapon by 2001.
– December 27 1995

U.S.: Iran will have a nuclear weapon around 2000.
– June 27 1997

Iran will threaten Israel with a nuclear weapon within four years.
– July 10 2001

Nuclear weapon for Iran in 2005.
– August 5 2003

IDF: Preparing for an Iranian atomic bomb in 2005
– August 8 2003

Iran announces: we will achieve a nuclear weapon within four years
-August 20 2004

Israeli intelligence sources: within two years they will have a bomb on the shelf
– July 8 2005

Entire Middle East will arm itself with nukes.
– December 2005

Iranian atomic bomb in three years.
– March 26 2006

Olmert: Within months Iran will be able to assemble a nuclear bomb
– June 22 2006

U.S.: Iran will have a nuclear weapon in a year or two.
– June 22 2011

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Source:
Israeli Media 30-Year ‘Reign of Error’ Predicting Iranian Nuke

SaudiLeaks: ‘Syrian regime must be overthrown to avoid revenge for what we’ve done to them’

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A new cable released by Wikileaks says that the ‘Syrian regime must be overthrown to avoid revenge for what we’ve done to them’.

Notably the Saudileaks have received next to no media attention, likely because they reveal the extent to which the medieval Kingdom bribes journalists in order to receive positive coverage and suppress negative stories.  This could also account for the media blackout on the Saudi-led siege of Yemen.

Realistically, it seems that continuing the destruction and bloodshed is what is most likely to result in harm to Saudi Arabia itself; it already having experienced two suicide bombings within a week of each other in May. Overthrowing “the regime” in Syria is not going to save the country from attacks now that the takfiri genie is well and truly out of the bottle.

The Saudi Cables
Over half a million cables and other documents from the Saudi Foreign Ministry
https://www.wikileaks.org/saudi-cables/doc110212.html

Iran is the Future

BRAZIL - JUNE 21:  Iran fans cheer during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group F match between Argentina and Iran at Estadio Mineirao on June 21, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 491933191

BRAZIL – JUNE 21, 2014: Iran fans cheer during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group F match between Argentina and Iran at Estadio Mineirao 

This is a comment I posted on a Guardian article reporting on King Salman’s decision not to attend the GCC meeting with Obama at Camp David. It sum’s up what I think are the real motivators behind the Persian Gulf countries, and Israel’s, fear of the Iran nuclear deal:

How exactly does a deal to LIMIT Iran’s (peaceful) nuclear programme harm the GCC? Iran isn’t the one bombing it’s neighbour and covertly waging a war against Iraq and Syria. The only aid Iran has given the Houthis is financial, as well as negotiating food imports into the country, and a new airline linking Sanaa to Tehran. The Houthis, like everyone else, are fighting with American-made weapons. By the way, I just read that Yemen is on its way to becoming the worst man-made crisis of the 21st century, due to the blockade making it impossible to get fuel and food (90% of Yemen’s food is imported).

I think the real problem for these despots is what will happen to their economies once sanctions are lifted. 90% of KSA’s income is through oil sales, and it’s population are unskilled and uneducated. Iran’s population is the opposite, and they actually manufacture things, such as cars. Though it’s not reported in the Western press, delegations from all over Europe have been visiting Tehran to sign trade deals in recent months. In fact, there was even a US delegation there yesterday.

Without the sanctions, Iran has the ability to become an economic powerhouse. In fact it is also about to start building hundreds of new hotels to keep up with its blossoming tourist industry. All this strikes fear into the heart of Salman, Netanyahu, Tom Cotton, and the rest.

One further point is, how will lessening restrictions in Iran’s energy sector affect the price of oil? The market is currently flooded with Saudi oil, what happens when it’s also flooded with Iranian oil?

It can’t be emphasised enough how much potential there is for Iran. If you read Fars News or Press TV there are almost daily articles reporting on economic delegations from Poland, visits to Tehran by French car manufacturers, meetings between Iranian ministers and Swiss ministers, and so on. The power they exert is very much in the Chinese tradition, ie. investing in infrastructure rather than selling weapons and dropping bombs, as the American’s and the Saudi’s do.

I probably wouldn’t have started this blog if it wasn’t for the sudden interest I found in Iran last year. Having researched women’s rights in the Middle East, I couldn’t believe that the country so demonised for its human rights abuses was Iran, whose women seem so fiercely independent, and not Saudi Arabia, which goes to extraordinary lengths to keep their women segregated from men, and whose  women must cloak themselves in black tents, while the Persians put Western women’s dress sense to shame. I actually started trying to copy some of the looks I found, which can be seen in my post: Iranian Street Style.

While human rights in KSA are regressing – they have just fired their first female minister – human rights in Iran are making slow but welcome progress – they have just appointed their first female ambassador to represent them abroad. Iran is the future, while the Americans and their Gulf cronies are on a sinking ship.

The Ominous Symbolism of Libya & Syria’s Rebel Flags

There is something slightly ominous about the reemergence of a number of colonial-era flags in the twenty-first century.

Libya
In 2011 rebel militias in Libya took the old flag of the Kingdom of Libya as their standard, and this is now used as the official Libyan flag in the post-Gaddafi era.

Flag of the Kingdom of Libya under King Idris (1951-1969), and the current Libyan flag since 2011.

Although this symbol – red, black and green with a white star and crescent in the centre – was used in the African nation following its independence in 1951, ordinary Libyans continued to be treated like second-class citizens during this period, as the country was home to several British and American military installations. The bloodless coup that brought Colonel Muammar Gaddafi  to power took place in 1961. In 1977 he renamed the state the “Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” –  “Jamahiriya” roughly translating to “state of the masses” – and the country’s flag was reborn as a plain green field.

Flag of the “Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,” from 1977-2011.

Despite the simplicity of this insignia-free flag, it was a powerful representation of Libya’s national identity, with the green symbolising both Gaddafi’s Green Book, and green being the traditional colour of Islam.

Syria
As with Libya, the armed groups currently attempting to overthrow the government of Syria – led by President Bashar al Assad – have raised the banner that first came into being as the country struggled to win its independence from France in the 1930s.

Flag of the Syrian Republic, from 1930-1958, and current standard used by the SNC and FSA.

However, despite the creation of a treaty of independence to end official French rule in 1936, the French government refused to accept this agreement. Due to the outbreak of WWII and the fall of France in 1940, Syrian independence was deferred until after the war.

Khaled Kamal, an official of the Syrian National Council, has commented: “We are using the old flag because it symbolises independence. It’s a symbol of independence and the end of the Bashar regime.”

Flag of Syria, 1980-present.

 The Financial Times says that the return to such earlier flags in Libya and Syria is an attempt by the opposition to distance themselves ideologically from both country’s periods of Arab nationalism. Despite the Western-backed SNC’s insistence that the old flag represents independence, it can alternatively be considered as an emblem of dependence; dependence on the old colonial powers – and the new American superpower – for survival. This is certainly true when considering that the SNC consists of Western-educated elites that haven’t set foot in Syria for years – possibly decades.

In reality war is being waged on Syria for refusing to give up its sovereignty to the forces of globalisation, just as Libya was destroyed by NATO for it’s self-determination. Syria is one of the world’s remaining nations to have a state-run banking system and gold reserves which fall outside of the global private central banking syndicate; Iran is another, and Libya was pre-2011. The use of these twentieth century flags by the proxy armies are a sinister symbol of the fate that awaits those nations whom attempt to follow an independent path.

Iran be warned.

References:

Syrian rebels raise a flag from the past
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6c332676-32f4-11e1-8e0d-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3UFIkUyFD

Ayatollah Khamenei has a ‘#LETTER4U’

Following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, Iran’s Supreme Leader wrote an open letter to the ‘youth in Europe and North America’, commenting on the way Islam is portrayed in the Western media. Every time a violent act is carried out by Muslims, the press and politicians make a huge fuss about the need for other Muslims to speak out and condemn such atrocities, and all Muslims are blamed by association. Despite Islamic leaders’ continuous denouncement of groups such as al Qaeda and ISIS, their statements are largely ignored by those who demand them, clearly demonstrating the presence of an anti-Muslim agenda.

So naturally, Khamenei’s letter was largely ignored. Although it was published over a month ago, I thought I should still post the text here, as it is an excellent assessment of the distorted and simplistic picture of “Islam” that is presented to us here in the West. I have put Islam in scare quotes here because of the media’s tendency to reduce the 1.7 billion people who live within numerous countries, cultures, languages, religious denominations etc, down to one blanket description: “Islam.”

To learn more about what Khamenei addresses in his letter, I recommend reading the postcolonial literary theorist Edward Said’s text Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine how we see the rest of the World. Astonishingly, the book was first published in 1981, before being updated in 1997. Said passed away in November 2003…I wonder what he would have thought of the West’s hysteria over “Islam” today?

 

To the Youth in Europe and North America

In the name of God, the Beneficent the Merciful

The recent events in France and similar ones in some other Western countries have convinced me to directly talk to you about them. I am addressing you, [the youth], not because I overlook your parents, rather it is because the future of your nations and countries will be in your hands; and also I find that the sense of quest for truth is more vigorous and attentive in your hearts.

I don’t address your politicians and statesmen either in this writing because I believe that they have consciously separated the route of politics from the path of righteousness and truth.

I would like to talk to you about Islam, particularly the image that is presented to you as Islam. Many attempts have been made over the past two decades, almost since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, to place this great religion in the seat of a horrifying enemy. The provocation of a feeling of horror and hatred and its utilization has unfortunately a long record in the political history of the West.

Here, I don’t want to deal with the different phobias with which the Western nations have thus far been indoctrinated. A cursory review of recent critical studies of history would bring home to you the fact that the Western governments’ insincere and hypocritical treatment of other nations and cultures has been censured in new historiographies.

The histories of the United States and Europe are ashamed of slavery, embarrassed by the colonial period and chagrined at the oppression of people of color and non-Christians. Your researchers and historians are deeply ashamed of the bloodsheds wrought in the name of religion between the Catholics and Protestants or in the name of nationality and ethnicity during the First and Second World Wars. This approach is admirable.

 

By mentioning a fraction of this long list, I don’t want to reproach history; rather I would like you to ask your intellectuals as to why the public conscience in the West awakens and comes to its senses after a delay of several decades or centuries. Why should the revision of collective conscience apply to the distant past and not to the current problems? Why is it that attempts are made to prevent public awareness regarding an important issue such as the treatment of Islamic culture and thought?

You know well that humiliation and spreading hatred and illusionary fear of the “other” have been the common base of all those oppressive profiteers. Now, I would like you to ask yourself why the old policy of spreading “phobia” and hatred has targeted Islam and Muslims with an unprecedented intensity. Why does the power structure in the world want Islamic thought to be marginalized and remain latent? What concepts and values in Islam disturb the programs of the super powers and what interests are safeguarded in the shadow of distorting the image of Islam? Hence, my first request is: Study and research the incentives behind this widespread tarnishing of the image of Islam.

My second request is that in reaction to the flood of prejudgments and disinformation campaigns, try to gain a direct and firsthand knowledge of this religion. The right logic requires that you understand the nature and essence of what they are frightening you about and want you to keep away from.

I don’t insist that you accept my reading or any other reading of Islam. What I want to say is: Don’t allow this dynamic and effective reality in today’s world to be introduced to you through resentments and prejudices. Don’t allow them to hypocritically introduce their own recruited terrorists as representatives of Islam.

Receive knowledge of Islam from its primary and original sources. Gain information about Islam through the Qur’an and the life of its great Prophet. I would like to ask you whether you have directly read the Qur’an of the Muslims. Have you studied the teachings of the Prophet of Islam and his humane, ethical doctrines? Have you ever received the message of Islam from any sources other than the media?

 

 

Have you ever asked yourself how and on the basis of which values has Islam established the greatest scientific and intellectual civilization of the world and raised the most distinguished scientists and intellectuals throughout several centuries?

I would like you not to allow the derogatory and offensive image-buildings to create an emotional gulf between you and the reality, taking away the possibility of an impartial judgment from you. Today, the communication media have removed the geographical borders. Hence, don’t allow them to besiege you within fabricated and mental borders.

Although no one can individually fill the created gaps, each one of you can construct a bridge of thought and fairness over the gaps to illuminate yourself and your surrounding environment. While this preplanned challenge between Islam and you, the youth, is undesirable, it can raise new questions in your curious and inquiring minds. Attempts to find answers to these questions will provide you with an appropriate opportunity to discover new truths.

Therefore, don’t miss the opportunity to gain proper, correct and unbiased understanding of Islam so that hopefully, due to your sense of responsibility toward the truth, future generations would write the history of this current interaction between Islam and the West with a clearer conscience and lesser resentment.

Seyyed Ali Khamenei
21st Jan. 2015

Additional references and sources on LETTER4U and its contents can be found at: www.letter4u.co.