Almost a year has passed since the Cesar law was passed. Implementing the law that was meant to punish the Assad regime for their horrible war crimes and horrendous acts have always been a questionable dilemma for many. Moreover, even before the president of the USA signed the act, humanitarians feared its and other sanctions’ impact on the already vulnerable civilians. However, as sanctions continue to strangle the economy in Syria, it is important to ask: who is truly suffering from these sanctions?
Many countries started imposing sanctions on Syria following the eruption of the civil war. In 2011, the main targets of those sanctions were military and security officials and entities, as well as the Central Bank of Syria, public banks, investments in the Syrian oil and gas sector, regime cronies, and pro-regime activists. Moreover, many countries from all over the world contributed to imposing these sanctions, including the EU, USA, Turkey, and many members of the Arab league. Thus, they aimed to undermine the regime’s military and economic foundations without overly harming the war-torn population.
Then, these sanctions further expanded when the United States decided to activate the Caesar act. While sanctions mainly targeted entities inside Syria, in the past, this law authorized the sanctions on any foreign entity with business connections to the regime. The act also limits international financial networks as a means to speed up the regime’s already deteriorating economy.
Hitting ordinary Syrians the hardest
Despite the sanctions being a method to punish the Syrian regime, they appear to be hitting the ordinary Syrian civilians way harder. Even after 10 years of relentless war, the tips are still leaning in Assad’s favor. Many even are considering the regime as the current and ultimate winner of the tragic war. On the other hand, Syrians are still suffering. Data even estimate that 80 percent of the Syrian population is living in poverty.
The sanctions make it very hard for Syrians to have access to oil derivatives such as diesel. Normal civilians are also having high difficulty conducting any form of a financial transaction such as receiving remittances. Furthermore, the law created a “chilling effect” with foreign companies, who are choosing not to invest on Syrian soil even in the non sanctioned sectors.
Thus, the country is failing to cope with these unprecedented times. In January, 940 Syrian pounds used to equal 1 US dollar. However, the pound’s value dropped to 3,500 on 18 June 2020. With the currency’s collapse, the food prices started to soar. According to locals, the price of a simple food basket reached the highest levels recorded since the start of the crisis, at 15.8 times the five-year pre-crisis average. Therefore, amidst a global pandemic and the economic collapse, the ordinary Syrian civilian can’t even afford basic goods and essentials.
A compromise between lifting and keeping Syrian sanctions
Since the start of the pandemic, many are rightfully arguing the humanitarian significance of lifting the sanctions. It is hard not to agree that it is not fair for the elite regime supporters to be lavishing in luxury while normal civilian starves. The sanctions do have negative consequences on the Syrian economy as a whole, and, by extension, on the Syrian people. However, it is essential to note that the matter is much more complicated than mere appearances. Suspending the sanctions would ultimately undermine any efforts to pursue human rights, justice, and accountability for war crimes committed in Syria.
Though the regime is using the global pandemic as an excuse to lift the sanctions, experience shows that they won’t necessarily use humanitarian aid to humanely aid its citizens. There is concrete evidence of the Syrian government diverting and weaponizing international aid in the past, while effectively co-opting the multi-billion dollar humanitarian relief effort from donors. Furthermore, in the case of suspension, there is no guarantee of fair and equitable distribution of humanitarian and medical across the country.
On the other hand, current events prove the necessity of a sanction’s improvement. The alluded humanitarian exemptions must be modified in a way that addresses issues consistently experienced by the Syrian groups, companies, and organizations. Moreover, the lawmakers must listen to the humanitarian groups and comply with any modification they see fit. Instead of giving the Assad regime more power, the sanctions must do their job without strangling the population in the process.
ComplyAdvantage. (2020, July 24). Sanctions Imposed on Syria. https://complyadvantage.com/knowledgebase/syria/Humanitarian impacts of economic sanctions on Iran and Syria. (n.d.). Taylor & Francis. Retrieved January 6, 2021, from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09662839.2014.893427?v=1392752313000%2F_%2Fjcr%3Asystem%2Fjcr%3AversionStorage%2F5f%2Fd2%2F3d%2F5fd23d84-069b-41cd-a2f5-c3803934c9cb%2F1.6%2Fjcr%3AfrozenNode&forwardService=showFullText&tokenAccess=UeTxdiJBseWdIN4j7YII&tokenDomain=eprints&doi=10.1080%2F09662839.2014.893427&doi=10.1080%2F09662839.2014.893427&journalCode=feus20Mehchy, Z. (2020, September 17). Punishing the Regime, Protecting Syrians: The Dilemma of Sanctions on Syria. Arab Reform Initiative. https://www.arab-reform.net/publication/punishing-the-regime-protecting-Syrians-the-dilemma-of-sanctions-on-syria/U.S. Sanctions on Syria: What Comes Next? (2020, July 13). Crisis Group. https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/eastern-mediterranean/syria/us-sanctions-syria-what-comes-nextWhy Economic Sanctions on Syria Must Stop – Syrian Arab Republic. (2020, August 1). ReliefWeb. https://reliefweb.int/report/syrian-arab-republic/why-economic-sanctions-syria-must-stopZingg, G. (2020, July 28). Syria: Sanctions Lifted, but They Must Be Improved. Arab Reform Initiative. https://www.arab-reform.net/publication/syria-sanctions-should-not-be-lifted-but-they-must-be-improved/
Israel is Hiding Crucial Demographic Facts About Palestinians
For decades, Israel has been hiding crucial demographic facts about the Palestinians West of the River Jordan (Israel proper, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip). During this period, Successive Israeli governments consistently sought to inflate the number of Jews while deliberately belittling the number of Palestinians. The purpose of this manifestly racist and still-ongoing policy is to portray the Palestinians as an insignificant and shrinking minority.
Palestinian demographic facts:“The Palestinian womb is overwhelming Israel”
Demographic facts and data are considered Israel’s best-guarded state secrets.
However, from time to time, Israeli officials make racist statements reflecting Israeli anxiety toward the growing Palestinian population and Palestinian demographic data and facts.
Moreover, the toxically racist Israeli media normally resort to “Statistical manipulation” to ensure the pathologically insecure Jewish citizens that Jews are still a large and growing the majority of the population.
This week, a senior doctor at the Soroka hospital in Beir Sheva in Southern Palestine was quoted as saying that “the Arab womb is overwhelming the Jewish public” in the country.
The doctor, Gideon Saar, a cardiac surgeon, was recorded on video, saying the remarks during an election gathering to promote the notoriously racist former Justice minister Ayelet Shaked.
Crucial Palestinian demographic facts: Short is the robe of lying!
As we all know, mendacity has always been and continues to be Israel’s modus operandi and ultimate lifeline. Israel lies about almost everything, from how it came into being to its possession of nuclear weapons. So, we shouldn’t be surprised a bit to discover Israeli efforts to cover up crucial demographic facts in occupied Palestine.
Indeed, lying rather obscenely is simply an integral part of being Zionist.
Honesty and being Zionist are eternal oxymorons and shouldn’t be used in the same line. Israel lies as often as Israelis breathe.
In 2014, the Head of the Military Administration in the West Bank, euphemistically called the Civil Administration, made a rare admission when he pointed out that the number of Palestinians between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean exceeded the number of Jews.
The admission has since been confirmed by many Israeli scholars, including Sergio Della Pergola, an Italian-Israeli demographer and statistician.
Some irate right-wing officials dismissed the shocking revelations demographic facts about Palestinians as “spurious and distorted.” But Della Pergola, a Hebrew University Professor, dismissed these right-wingers as “delusional.”
Three out of four Russian immigrants are “non-Jewish”
According to the Israeli media, it has been revealed by official Israeli circles that hundreds of thousands of “Jewish” immigrants from the former Soviet Union are actually “nom-Jewish” according to the so-called “Law of return.” The Ynet English website on 17 November 2002, reported that in 2020, three out of every four Russian immigrants were actually non-Jewish.
The “shocking” report came after leaders of the religious and fascist Jewish parties, which won the recent elections in Israel, expressed intention to amend the Law of Return and reopen the sensitive question of who counts as Jewish according to Jewish law or Halacha. According to the Jerusalem Post, only 28% of Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union were actually Jewish. The same source reported that between 1990-2020, the percentage of truly Jewish immigrants didn’t exceed 36%.
Palestinians have a clear majority
Today, data shows that the existence of a Palestinian demographic majority west of the River Jordan (Israel and the occupied Territories) is a clarion fact that only the willfully blind refuses to see. In fact, if we deduct around 500,00-600,00 non-Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union from the projected Jewish population, the Palestinian majority becomes an axiomatic fact that even the most dishonest Israeli politicians wouldn’t deny.
According to Palestinian and Israeli experts, the crucial Palestinian demographic facts today exceeds the Jewish population by at least 300,000 people.
However, some hot-tempered Israeli leaders and pro-settler circles keep indulging in prevarication, statistical sophistry and outright lies to produce an otherwise rosy outlook.
Palestinian demographic facts: Apartheid to make “them” out of sight and out mind”!
Israel, especially the so-called “deep state,”e.g., the hawkish security establishment, has been using a variety of criminal tactics to neutralize the problem. These tactics include the following:
1- Denial and concealing crucial Palestinian demographic facts, classified as “top secret” from the general public, while making the classified data available to top politicians, like the Prime Minister, the President, and Mossad Chief. Moreover, military censorship has been barring the normally-liberal Israeli media from discussing the matter or making “harmful” Revelations.
2- Maximizing systematic persecution, repression and state sponsored-terrorism against the Palestinians for the purpose of coercing them to emigrate as the Zionist gangs did in 1948, when 750,000 Palestinians were forced to leave following the perpetration by Jewish terrorists of genocidal massacres like Dir Yasin, Tantura, Dawaymeh, etc. Indeed, for decades, Israel claimed the refugees were not expelled but left voluntarily.
3- Confining as many Palestinians as possible to the smallest possible territory.
4. Refusing to grant non-Jews building licenses to construct a home in (Area C) of the West Bank, which constitutes more than 65% of the occupied territory.
5- Demolishing Palestinian homes in the contiguity of Jewish colonies or in areas coveted or slated for settlement expansion. It is estimated that Israel demolished more than 50,000 Palestinian homes in Gaza and the West Bank since 1967.
6- Applying two sets of laws, one lenient, another harsh and draconian, to Jews and Arabs living in the same area, even the same neighbourhood.
Yet Zionist Jews bark furiously and uncontrollably like rabid shipyard dogs whenever someone calls the racist entity apartheid? Do they want the world to celebrate with them their “exemplary egalitarianism” and the kosher savagery meted out to the helpless and virtually abandoned Palestinians whose only “crime” is their being goyem and therefore un-kosher? Is this the way Jews are supposed to pay back for Muslim protection for many centuries in the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and many other places?
I advise doubting Jews to read “the Jew and the Cross” to realize the huge difference in the treatment Jews received under Islam and Christendom. (see The Jew and the Cross – Dagobert David Runes).
Exercising some honesty and rectitude is always beneficial and rewarding.
7- Israel has been manipulating statistical data and crucial demographic facts to give the impression that the Palestinians are not actually a nation, but a cacophonic set of sects and tribes with very little common bonds.
Thus, Israeli statisticians divided Palestinians into Muslims, Christians, Bedouins, Jerusalemites, Israeli Arab citizens, and Circassians. Samarians, etc.
This sort of statistical mutilation is not met with a reciprocal sub-categorization when dealing with the Jewish community which has far more ethnic and religious heterogeneity. For example, the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate doesn’t consider a majority of American Jews (Reform and Conservative Jews) to be bona fide Jews. Orthodox Jews, who are in control in Israel, routinely quarrel and scuffle with Reform and Conservative Jews at the Western Wall esplanade, shouting obscenities at them and calling them abusive epithets like “Goyem” (non-Jews) and “Notsrim” (Christians).
One might wonder how Israel would deal with its demographic dilemma in the medium and distant future. Some Israeli leaders, especially within the jingoistic religious messianic circles don’t hesitate to use far-fetched explosive terms like “demographic holocaust” to describe the Palestinian demographic advantage.
The scandalously corrupt analogy between one of the greatest tragedies in the history of mankind on the one hand, and the survival and growth of the Palestinian people in its own ancestral homeland on the other, cheapens the holocaust and seriously corrodes international efforts to combat true, virulent anti-Semitism. It also exposes the brutal ugliness of the Zionist mindset.
Unfortunately, we Palestinians have learnt that nothing can be dismissed as unthinkable as far as the depraved Zionist mentality is concerned. Indeed, a state that shamelessly argues that Jews have an inherent right to be racist “because they are a special people” can do anything, however ghoulish and nightmarish or diabolic it may be.
That is why, the Rabbis of Gush Emunim, who represent religious Zionism, declare openly that the solution for the Palestinian problem is a combination of three measures: Transfer or collective deportation; a tight, humiliating apartheid regime; and\or a war of extermination. Frankly, I prefer to believe these evil rabbis rather than notorious pathological liars like Netanyahu, Lapid, and Biden.
Muhammed: The Greatest Man to walk on Earth
This article was written to coincide with the annual anniversary of the Prophet Muhammed’s birthday.
I readily admit I tremble a little, with awe and humility, whenever I write or talk about this extraordinary figure, who is, indeed, the greatest man to walk on earth. Muhammed, may God’s peace and blessing be upon him, was not an incarnation of God, or God on earth, or the second or third person in some polytheistic holy trinity. Nor was he a quasi-heavenly figure who demanded that his companions and followers deify and worship him in any conceivable manner. Muhammed was none of that.
After all, Muhammad was the ultimate advocate and champion of pure monotheism or the oneness of God. He strongly rejected and resented any suggestion that he shared any of God’s attributes and characters such as eternality, omnipotence (being all-powerful) and omniscience (being all-knowing).
Nonetheless, the Prophet of Islam was a Quran walking on two legs. He epitomized the Quran, the final Testament to mankind in his daily life, as described by Aisha, his beloved wife.
Muhammed excelled in every sphere, as a husband, as a father, as a teacher, as a leader, as a judge and peacemaker. Indeed, if there were such a person as the perfect human-being, Muhammad would be that person. But perfectness belongs to God alone. The prophet said “All the children of Adam are prone to sin, and the best of sinners are those who repent.”
The Prophet never ever claimed or suggested that he was more than just a human being According to the sira, the meticulously-researched biography of the prophet, a man came up to the prophet, trembling in awe of his aura of venerability. The Prophet told him: “take it easy, I am not a king, I’m the son of a (simple) woman who used to eat Qadid (dried, salted sliced meat).
In Sura 7 (Aaraf), verse 188, Allah instructed His Prophet to stress to the people that he was but a man chosen by God as a warner as well as bringer of good tidings.
Say (O Muhammad): “I possess no power of benefit or harm to myself except as Allah wills. If I had the knowledge of the (unseen), I should have secured for myself an abundance of wealth, and no evil should have touched me. I am but a warner, and a bringer of glad tidings unto people who believe.”
Ultimate paragon of virtue, justice and morality
When the American astrophysicist, Michale Hart, author of A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, was asked why he ranked the Prophet of Islam as the greatest man in history, he simply pointed out that the Prophet was “supremely successful” in both the religious and secular realms, being responsible for both the foundation of Islam as well as the subsequent growth and phenomenal expansion of the monotheistic faith whose followers now exceed two billion human beings. Hart pointed out that while numerous other great persons excelled in one sphere, Muhammed excelled in every sphere.
Muhammed is greater than all the words.
There is absolutely no doubt that Muhammed is greater than all words. I understand that counting Muhammed’s virtues, merits and values would take so much time and space. However, I do also realize that counting a great man’s virtues would be inappropriate for him if his virtues were beyond counting.
None the less, the holy Prophet of Islam, the final messenger of the Creator to mankind, must always be present in our daily life, as his pure and immaculate Sunna must be our ultimate guide to happiness, prosperity and salvation in this World and the real after
In Sura a-Ahzab, V.21, we read:
“Verily, in the messenger of God you have a good example for him who looks unto Allah and the Last Day, and remembers God much.”
Indeed, by following the Sunna of Muhammed in all walks of life, we don’t benefit the Prophet, for he doesn’t need our benefits, praise and good deeds; It is we who ultimately benefit from following the Sunna of the messenger of God .
The lofty values of morality
Soon after the Prophet received his call, he stood up at the center of Mecca and declared: “I have been sent by God to uphold and complete the sublime ideals of morality ( Makaremul Akhlaq).”
Indeed, from the very inception of the Muhammedan call, morality and moral values always loomed large in the message of Islam. The following are some examples of the prophet’s sayings on morality:
The Prophet said ” Pay the deposit (trust) to him who deposited it with you, and do not betray him who betrayed you.”
He also said : “you will not win the hearts of men with your money, But you can win their hearts with your kindness and virtuous behavior.”
On the subject of cheating, the Prophet said “whoever cheats, is not one of us.” As to lying, he said ” a Muslim must not lie”
Moreover, he said: give a laborer his wages before his sweat dries up”
Furthermore, the holy prophet said “The best of you is one who is best to his family (wife) and I am the best of you to my family.
Finally, as the prophet was dying, he said: “I strongly urge you to observe ordained prayers and to be kind and behave well toward your women.’
The Muhammedan message on justice, peace and racism
Islam is extremely sensitive to the issue of justice, even in adverse situations, such as the time of war. Islam teaches that peace can only be as the result of true justice. Justice comes before peace.
In fact, justice in all its forms is a central feature in the religion of Islam. Just consider the following verse:
O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do. Sura 4-v..135
Can we find such a verse in any religious scriptures other than the Quran?
On the subject of peace, the prophet reportedly said.
“By Allah, you will not enter paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love each other. Shall I tell you of something which if you do, you will love each other? Foster peace amongst yourselves.”
Finally, the religion of Islam condemns in the strongest terms all forms of racism, including tribalism, chauvinism, parochial nationalism and fanaticism to family or country, calling it “filthy”
In the Holy Quran, in Sura al Hujorat, there is a popular verse which can and probably should be adopted as an international charter for human brotherhood and solidarity:
O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). Al-Hujorat, v. 13
I have no doubt in my mind that should humanity adopt at least some of Islam’s teachings on world peace, international cooperation, combatting racism, oppression and aggression, our world would be a true paradise on earth. But who would listen?
Muslims, too, should follow the path of Muhammed, honestly and sincerely, in order to overcome their many crises and problems, including political tyranny, poverty, and disunity. Remember, Allah does not change the conditions of a people unless they change what is in themselves.
Gulf of Oman: The New Battleground Between USA and Iran
On July 5, 2023, a Wednesday morning, two Iranian Navy ships approached US oil tankers in two separate incidents in the Gulf of Oman. One of the Iranian Navy ships fired its weapons at an oil tanker – escalating tensions in the region. The incident is marking another chapter in a string of incidents that have been occurring since 2019.
The Gulf of Oman Incident
According to commander Tim Hawkins, spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet:
“The Iranian navy did make attempts to seize commercial tankers lawfully transiting international waters.”
At 01:00 AM local time, an Iranian Navy ship came near the oil tanker TRF Moss, which was flagged by the Marshall Islands. However, the Iranian Navy ship left the region when the US Navy destroyer USS McFaul arrived in the area.
Further, three hours later, at 4:00 AM, the US Navy received a distress call from the Bahamas-flagged oil tanker Richmond Voyager. According to the US Navy, the Bahamas-flagged oil tanker was more than 20 miles from the coast of Muscat, Oman, when another Iranian Navy ship came approaching the US oil tanker.
The Iranian Navy ship was signaling the oil tanker to stop when the same US Navy destroyer, USS McFaul, headed towards the oil tanker at full speed.
The Iranian Navy fired its weapons before the US Navy destroyer USS McFaul arrived on the scene with a lot of bullets in a short period of time. According to the US Navy, the Iranian Navy fired with both small arms, such as pistols and rifles, and crew-served weapons, such as machine guns and cannons.
The bullets struck the side of the oil tanker near the crew’s living spaces, but no one was injured. However, The US Navy destroyer USS McFaul arrived on the scene, and the Iranian Navy ship left.
The Continual Attacks of Iran in the Gulf of Oman –
Iran has been continuously involved in multiple attacks on oil tankers since 2019 on a major shipping route for oil. According to the US Navy, Iran has either harassed or seized nearly 20 commercial ships that have been flagged by other countries since 2021.
Such attacks on major shipping routes for oil pose a clear threat to the security of shipping in the region and the global economy – according to the US Navy. The recent attack of July 2023 was not the first attempt by Iran; on June 14, 2019, Iran attempted to seize two US oil tankers by blast, which spiked the oil price significantly. However, the explosions raised concerns about a potential military conflict between Iran and the United States.
Earlier this year, Iran took control of two oil tankers in less than a week in the same region of the Strait of Hormuz, near the Gulf of Oman. Hence, knowing the importance and criticality of waterways for the global economy, such seizures prompted the US to send more ships and aircraft to patrol the Strait of Hormuz. The United States is working with individual countries in the region to deter threats to commercial shipping and prevent attacks on commercial ships.
In May 2023, Greece issued a serious notice and warned ship owners to stay away from Iranian waters because there was a risk of being attacked. However, the latest seizure of an oil tanker by Iran is part of a series of attacks on commercial vessels in the Gulf of Oman that have been happening since 2019.
Why is Iran Constantly Attacking US Oil Tankers?
According to the U.S. Navy, in the past two years, Iran has taken commercial vessels in at least five instances. Additionally, they have recorded more than a dozen instances of Iran bothering commercial vessels during the past two years. And many of the incidents have happened in the Strait of Hormuz or nearby regions, a major shipping route for oil, which accounts for about 20% of all crude oil.
The constant attack of Iran on US oil tankers in waterways is considered retaliation for withdrawing Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers and restoring crippling sanctions by the US during the reign of President Trump.
The Trump administration’s decision to leave the Iran nuclear deal and impose new sanctions on Iran has led to increased tensions between Iran and the United States.
However, after the decision to leave the Iran nuclear deal, Iran has increased its nuclear activities within the country, which could be used to develop nuclear weapons. However, the United States and other countries in the world have worked together to prevent such practices by Iran.
Nevertheless, Iran has denied such practice and says that its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes, such as generating electricity. Further, Iran is providing Russia with armed drones that can be used in the war against Ukraine. This is further increasing tension among countries and is a serious concern for the international community.
What will Happen Next?
The ongoing tension between Iran and the US serves as a stark reminder of the delicate balance that should be maintained in international waters. Iran’s repeated attack on the US and other countries’ oil tankers and commercial vessels shows the ever-complex geopolitical landscape in the middle-east region.
However, as countries work together to maintain maritime trade security, diplomatic efforts and international cooperation must be at the forefront of resolving these conflicts.
The world is watching closely with the hope of a peaceful resolution – especially in times of current economic and diplomatic uncertainties.
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