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Showing posts from March 6, 2016

Understanding the emergence of modern Shi‘ism

Dr Zachery M. Heern, author of the new book 'The Emergence of Modern Shi‘ism: Islamic Reform in Iraq and Iran', has written a thought-provoking piece that helps us better grasp key developments in the Muslim Middle East.


I often complain that media related to the Middle East and Islam frequently lacks context. Indeed, news reports, related to the Middle East or otherwise, often assume that events occur without precedent and are unconnected to the past. Analysis, therefore, can be wildly misleading. The antidote for this absence of context is the study of history, which is why I tell my students that historians make good journalists.

Unfortunately, however, history is often only invoked by pundits when the assertion is made that the Middle East has a long history of problems - violence, inequality, injustice, sectarianism, etc. These assumptions are biased in the worst way since they wrongly assume that the current state of affairs in the Middle East is identical to its seemingl…

Huge drop in civilian deaths after Syria truce

Twenty-four civilians have been killed in the first five days of a landmark truce in parts of Syria, a sharp drop for a war where dozens die daily, a monitor said Thursday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP that the number, gathered from areas where the ceasefire had come into effect, included five women and six children.

"Compare that number to Friday, the day before the truce came into effect: 63 civilians, including 11 children, died that day alone," said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

He called it a "huge drop", adding that the daily average during the month of February was 38 civilians killed.

More than 270,000 people -- among them more than 79,000 civilians -- have died in Syria since its conflict erupted in March 2011.

On Saturday, a ceasefire deal brokered by the United States and Russia came into effect in areas of Syria where the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group and Al-Qaeda's affiliate Al-Nusra Front are not deployed.

18 ISIS militants killed in artillery shelling southeast of Mosul

(IraqiNews.com) Nineveh – Nineveh Operations Command announced on Friday the killing of 18 ISIS militants in an artillery strike by the Iraqi army forces southeast of Mosul.

Nineveh Operations said in a statement received by IraqiNews.com, “The Iraqi Army’s Artillery Division shelled sites where the ISIS militants where hiding and killed 18 elements of them in the area of Sultan Abdullah southeast Mosul,” indicating that, “The operation was based on accurate intelligence information.”

The statement also added, “The international coalition aviation bombed accurately more than five rocket launchers,” pointing out that “The operations to monitor ISIS movements and shelters are continuing.”

The West and Syria: The Corporate Media vs. Reality

The media keeps saying that the West isn't involved in Syria. This isn't true.

By Ian Sinclair

“The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary”, George Orwell noted in his censored preface to his 1945 book Animal Farm. “Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban”. Orwell went onto explain that “at any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is ‘not done’ to say it”.

The corporate media’s ‘coverage’ of Syria adds a twist to Orwell’s dictum – inconvenient reports and facts do occasionally appear in respected newspapers and on popular news programmes but they are invariably ignored, decontextualised or not followed up on. Rather than informing the historical record, public opinion and government policy these snippets of esse…