An Interview with Iraqi Lawyer, Sadiq Al Timimi, on the Current Crisis in Iraq

When the Butterfly Effect meets Chaos Theory. The actual occurrence of the Domino theory that perpetuated the Vietnam war.

ZERO ANTHROPOLOGY

Sadiq al-Timimi, from a painting. Sadiq al-Timimi, from a painting.

Sadiq Al Timimi is a well-known lawyer from Baghdad, Iraq, specializing in constitutional law. He has written the internal codes for several human rights and non-governmental organisations in Iraq, and is a regular contributor to the Iraqi press, writing on issues such as constitutional law and civil society. I spoke to him on August 6th and 7th 2014.

Donnchadh Mac an GhoillSadiq, in the first place I’d like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview for Zero Anthropology.

Sadiq Al Timimi: You’re very welcome.

D: You began to practice as a lawyer about ten years before the US invasion in 2003?

S: Yes, nine years before.

D: Was there a lot of political interference in the law at that time?

S: It was accepted that to be appointed a judge, you had to be a member of the…

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Rwanda 20 years on. Profiteering from the memories of horror

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Never again…or at least not on my watch!

On this 6 of April, twenty years will pass from the day when the plane carrying the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi was shot down killing everyone on board. What followed this still unresolved crime was war, massacres and violence of the worst scale and ferocity.

I only wish that humanity’s crimes would have ended right then and there. Like many other tragedies from the archive of humanity’s grotesque insanity, the Rwandan genocide, that followed the murders of the two head of states, has become just another memory used to invoke sentiments of horror. In a lobby like campaign under the, always opportunistic, ‘Never Again’ banner paraded by an army of intellectuals, diplomats, politicians, retired presidents or generals the Rwandan and Congolese tragedies are re-discovered whenever an imperial power sees the need to justify humanitarian intervention or pre-emptive crisis management military strikes. Having collectively swallowed Neo’s blue pill of willful ignorance and amnesia we all seem to be collectively pre-programmed to remember these tragedies with the same specific moral authority that shoved that pill down our throats in the first place. “Everywhere is Rwanda for the humanitarian imperialist,” noted Max Forte in his book Slouching Towards Sirte, NATO’s War on Libya and Africa.

As a modern twist of the tragedy of the Holocaust the Rwandan genocide is pulled out from under the carpet to show off the catastrophic effects of inaction when facing a force of evil. In the words of one of the fathers of modern conservatism Edmund Burke ‘Evil prevails when good men fail to act’. Robin Philpot describes in his new work ‘Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa, From Tragedy to Useful Imperial Fiction’ how the good men of the west constructed the main narrative of this conflict to represent the current President of Rwanda Paul Kagame as a brilliant strategist who came down from the north of the country with his Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and put an end to the genocide. Moreover the same narrative tell us that the tough but visionary leadership of Kagame turned this troubled under developed nation to the next African miracle. The lesson that perpetrates this story is that in the future our western developed democracies should, by any means,act swiftly and drastically to prevent these atrocities from happening in the name of humanity.

Cracking towards the truth.
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Thankfully through the work of people like Robin Philpot the carefully camouflaged cracks of this narrative are starting to show. He describes how facts become obscured or even simply neglected from the official narrative. The then Secretary General of the UN then Boutros Boutros Ghali, or Frenchie for the Americans has confessed to him that ‘the Rwandan genocide was 100% American responsibility’. What the US and the British intelligence and diplomacy did, as recently declassified Clinton’s administration documents show, was to try to withdraw the UNAMIR forces and block any more resolutions on the matter giving the time to Kagame’s RPF to mobilize after the events of April 6. Nothing was left to chance and so the events of April 6 were never thoroughly investigated. If they were the role of the RPF in the murderous attack would have become evident.
The US and the British wanted to set the field for a single power structure, at all costs, in the region of Central Africa’s Great Lake’s Region in the face of the RPF. In what it seems now as an early practice round of the Shock and Awe strategy the Americans succeeded to concealed their involvement in setting up the crisis and later to conspicuously rejected their diplomatic responsibilities in sabotaging the international efforts to act and resolve it. For Washington, the 1993 Arusha Peace Accord had to become obsolete.

An extensive PR network, similar to what it was used some years ago towards the hype to the war in former Yugoslavia, and the vocal repeated condemnations from the RPF against the international community, guaranteed that the arrows against the West were not aiming just at the US or the British.

 

One hand washes the other and both they wash the blood away…

Perhaps the most astonishing achievement for Robin Philbot of the then US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright and of the State Department was the disconnection from the contextual references of this tragedy of the instigating first chapter of this supreme humanitarian crime.

When in 1990 around 4000 Ugandan uniformed troops, which they later went to become the RPF, invaded Rwanda most analysts quickly described it as just another minor hot incident in the region. Even much later in 2002 the majority of the populous western media described those events as ‘increased tensions’. But in 2010 the UN Mapping Report confirmed the criminal nature of the actions of RPF in Congo. A bit too little too late one might say. If you look at the events in the region between 1990 and 1994 you will see that the horrific crimes have started well before the April of 1994 and that the RPF was one of the main instigators during these violent and bloody years. This part of the narrative is laid forgotten as it doesn’t help anyone who wants to invoke ‘Rwanda’ to justify military intervention in a conflict or crisis zone.

What it does help though is perpetuating the notion of a ‘conspiracy to create genocide’ which the Western powers should had intervened and put an end to it. There were mass killings in Rwanda and war crimes have been committed, no one can dispute this evidence. The evidence though has failed to show was that there was a pre-planned conspiracy, at least from the side of the then Rwandan regime, for the genocide. Even after 18 years the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda had to acquit Théoneste Bagosora who has been repeatedly accused of being the man who instigated and planned the mass killings.

Again, this doesn’t mean Théoneste Bagosora is innocent of any involvement in this horrible story. A simple, relevant, but neglected, truth of the events as Robin Philbot argues in his book is the fact that ‘the Rwandan military and the police, who were the only one able to stop the killing in April, May and June 1994, were simply unable to do so because they were engaged in a war to the finish with a powerful and fully-equipped military machine known as the Rwandan Patriotic Front. That army also enjoyed the political, diplomatic, and military backing of two very powerful countries, the United States and the United Kingdom’.

These two realities have been very tactfully removed from the main-streamed narrative of the war in Rwanda. Just as the American foreign policy apparatus worked tirelessly to cover their own backs they did the same to offer the same services to their local culprits.

The most sickening of all is to see how the same people that have so cynically worked behind the scenes to multiply the viciousness and the ferocity of an incredibly difficult and complex conflict to then turn it into a handy propaganda clip whenever they want to justify further military interventions in Africa or elsewhere. And if you think this is just a circumstantial situation then have a closer look at what it’s happening the last two and a half years in Syria, or what has happened in Libya. Instead of Bill Clinton or Tony Blair orchestrating the events behind the scenes, the people of these countries have Obama, Cameron, Merkel or Putin with their local pons of idiots playing games with their lives on the global chessboard.

Hugo Chávez: Memories, One Year Later

worth the read…

ZERO ANTHROPOLOGY

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Remembering Hugo Chávez on the anniversary of his passing involved more than I imagined at first, making writing almost impossible for me. I therefore opted for something simple: just some of the brightest, most uplifting memories I have of this unique figure in Latin American history, whose courage and indefatigable commitment, whose vision and practice, leave a lasting legacy and generate inspiration worldwide. Never defeated by the US, Chávez’s legacy continues even in the face of the most violent of the reactionary sectors of Venezuelan society, who today presume yet again to overthrow a government elected by the majority of Venezuelans. Nonetheless, this micro-essay is neither meant to be pure gushing sentimentality, nor an academic review of the Hugo Chávez years. Instead, it is a mere sign of my continuing respect for this monumental personage. This was not just a political leader and a fighter, but someone not shy of…

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Parading the (pseudo) pedestal of Western morality. The gay rights debate in Sochi and Western cultural imperialism.

Jumping on the moral high-grounds

Over the last weeks the debate regarding gay rights in Russia has been heating up as various EU officials or head of states have declared their moral superiority by boycotting and refusing to attend the Sochi Olympics. True be said Russia hasn’t done well to facilitate the EU’s plans for expansion in the region or Americas plans for global hegemony. The unfortunate recent events in Ukraine where the EU is stirring up domestic unrest provide just another proof that, as Maximilian Forte argues, ‘protesting the Sochi Olympics is a lot less about gay rights than it is about instrumentalizing divisive identity issues to serve US and EU geopolitical aims’.

I simply cannot get over the incredibly hypocritical stand of French President François Hollande who refuses to attend the Olympic games because of the way minorities are treated under the current Russian law. The same time in France there is a widespread discrimination against Muslims and other minorities not to mention similar problems in other EU member-states.

Where was this high sense of morality during the European football championship which was held in Poland and Ukraine in 2012 or during FIFA’s World Cup in South Africa in 2010? Do these countries have a better record in civil rights, labour or even gay rights than Russia does?

Even the USA, whose President Obama has ordained himself as an international activist for gay rights, have several states in which their laws are not that much favourable for the gay community. While in his own country federal law must respect and follow the state law it seems that the laws of other sovereign states must follow the wimps and opinion of America’s president no matter the fact that some in the US find Russia’s anti-gay laws hardly to be so extreme.

Personally I find these laws wherever they exist plain stupid, ridiculously out-dated and socially irresponsible but this is not the whole point in this issue.

Imperial cycles of assimilation

The politics of power and empire dictate that geopolitical manoeuvres for global domination should be accompanied with complimentary measures for dominating the global geo-culture. In the modern capitalist world-system this is exemplified by the doctrines of liberal ideology. In the post-Perestroika era it is this neo-liberal ideology perpetrated by the new generation of neo-conservative intellectual and political bourgeoisie who crusades for individual rights, tolerance and for reform of traditional and anti-modern institutions. Their aim is simply to structurally shape the global landscape in their liking.

Yet again this is hardly a newly discovered pattern in human history and the cycle of empires. Who can forget the Jesuit order and many other western expansionists with their doctrines of divine assimilation? From projects designed to assimilate and school Indian children in America and Aboriginal children in Australia, we developed the modernization theory making ourselves as Westerners the standard of what is to be a modern man or a modern society. 20th century’s developementalism allowed the West again to set the infamous neo-liberal structural adjustment programs as blueprints for under-developed countries to fall in line while the global capital took away whatever natural resources were left to them. Human rights or gay rights and, at an even greater scale, emergency as a means for intervention is just a continuation of the process. The process is, as very nicely Maximilian Forte puts it,’that of certain core states dictating the direction of change, the pace of change, and placing themselves at the zenith of human evolution.’

In the excellent documentary from the BBC ‘The power of nightmares’ (http://dotsub.com/view/2019dcbc-330c-4edb-a463-39a63492f65b) Adam Curtis sees the marriage between Leo Strauss’ and Milton Friedman’s ideological neo-liberalism with the US imperialism as the outcome of the efforts of the Western state to win back what it lost in the Revolution of 1968. Basically this was the state’s conscious ratification as the rightful expresser of the public’s will. The marriage enhanced the efforts for a renewed global standardization that serves the interest of Western elites.

Copy-pasting has a meaning

In the context of the gay rights debate in Russia our global chefs are treating us with an extended menu on the ideas of sexual rights where we are told that we are all required to be on the same page.

Somehow though and perhaps quite conveniently so, some choose to ignore long term realities of custom and social conventions to suggest that the legal reformation would put the Russian state on the path for respecting gay rights. It misses though the possibility that if this legal transformation is perceived in the wrong way it may very well have some negative or opposite results provoke resentment and aggression for gay people in Russia. Laws cannot transform social, personal or sexual attitudes they can only police them and penalize them. The same way no amount of legislation against gay rights will ever change the fact that homosexuality will always be a natural and normally occurring feature of any human population.

In a nutshell: Should Russian legislation be reformed to respect gay rights? Yes it should. But it should in its own pace, rhythm and taking into account its local intrigues and circumstances.

All these though seem secondary because in the cultural wars for the hearts and minds of the public the emperor needs to constantly create the fictional perception that he is what is best for humanity and therefore has not only the right rule but also the duty to lead the world. So copy-paste is still the norm for the Western imperialism.

On UNSCR 2118 and Syria: Reality, Resolutions, Representations

This could also be called…Manufacturing Consent, very interesting read

ZERO ANTHROPOLOGY

“One overall objective of any team is to sustain the definition of the situation that its performance fosters. This will involve the over-communication of some facts and the under-communication of others. Given the fragility and the required expressive coherence of the reality that is dramatized by a performance, there are usually facts which, if attention is drawn to them during the performance, would discredit, disrupt, or make useless the impression that the performance fosters.” –Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, London: Penguin, 1990 [1959], page 140.

While it should not be overstated as a grand victory for anti-imperialism, there is also something about the way that senior U.S. officials have been beating their chests about the passage ofUnited Nations Security Council Resolution 2118, that seems to require sober correction.UNSCR 2118deals with the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, or to be more exact…

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Shakespeare’s ‘The merchant of Venice’ and its parallelisms with the Cyprus Bailout agreement

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Cyprus Bailout scheme proposed (or imposed) by the Troika has incredible analogies and parallelisms with William Shakespeare’ famous tragic comedy ‘The merchant of Venice’.

Here I would present these analogies and correlations and share some of my thoughts and analysis on this matter.

In Shakespeare’s tragic comedy, Bassanio [who represents Cyprus], a young man faced with some financial difficulties [as Cyprus is currently facing] seeks help from a ‘friend’ Antonio [who represents the EU], a wealthy merchant of Venice because he wishes to be wed with Portia a wealthy noble young woman from Belmont [who represents in our story ‘mother’ Russia].

Antonio even though he was eager to help his young friend was himself short in funds as his merchandise was still out in sea in ships [the same way large funds of the EU were stuck in Greece’s economy].  Antonio [EU] agrees to help Bassanio [Cyprus] and promises to vouch for his debt if Bassanio finds a lender. A Jewish moneylender Shylock [here in our story played by the IMF] finally agrees to lend the money to Bassanio if Antonio becomes the loan’s guarantor.

Shylock [IMF] is driven to give the money to Antonio from his hates against Antonio [EU] because of his Anti-Judaism [that is the EU’s social security and welfare protectionist state]. He therefore sets a gruesome condition to the debt that if Antonio is unable to pay back the money, he can then take a pound of Antonio’s flesh [the pound of flesh can be seen as the insane condition of the bailout agreement that puts a levy on savings].

Schylock’s [IMF] goal is of course to humiliate Antonio [EU] and to destroy him economically [the same way some may maintain the real goal of the IMF is to succeed to further damaging the European social-state and moreover getting its hands on Cyprus valuable energy resources].

Bassanio with the money lend from Schylock marries the beautiful Portia. Unfortunately Antonio’s [EU] merchandise is claimed by the sea [remember the sea is Greece] and it is in Belmont where Bassanio receives the letter that his friend is unable to repay his debt to Schylock. He then decides to ride with Portia and another friendly couple to Venice and help his friend in need. Before they set out Portia [mother Russia] sends her servant Balthazar [lets assign this role to the Russian energy giant Gazprom] to seek legal advice from her family’s friend lawyer in Padua.

In the end Schylock [IMF] comes close to collect his debt and receive the pound of Antonio’s flesh. In a dramatic twist of events, where Schylock reveal his real intentions, he rejects the money that Bassanio [Cyprus] offers to repay Antonio’s debt.

In Shakespear’s work that appropriately is termed as a comic tragedy, exactly how we may describe the situation that Cyprus and several other countries of the euro-zone are face with, when Schylock [IMF] is about to take his due debt from Antonio [EU] that Portia [mother Russia] appears in disguised as Balthazar [Gazprom] and with a letter for the Duke of Venice containing the legal consult of the famed lawyer from Padua saves Antonio’s life [the same way that in recent hours Gazprom came forward with an alternative offer to assist Cyprus and by extension the EU because it will stop a plan that in the long term shall hurt the Union itself].

As it is too early to know how Cyprus rescue efforts shall continue to develop it is not easy, or even relevant, to keep looking for parallelisms between Cyprus bailout plan and Shakespears timeless piece. It is perhaps worth mentioning though that in the novel Portia through some legal trickery succeeds not only to save Antonio’s life but also to completely turn the table around so that Schylock’s estate and wealth is left on Antonio’s mercy.

I am sure that many can find other analogies among various stories or novels that can fit into a certain analysis and I do not want to present my own thoughts as Nostradamus’s self-fulfilling prophecies but merely as something that can be used to help us understand why this bailout plan, why now and why like this.

So continuing on the path of our Shakespearean analogy it is not so far-fetched to argue that the real goal for the IMF and the advocates of the neo-liberal agenda is to destabilize even more the euro-zone and to dismantle the European welfare state By bringing its countries to such desperate state their people through such a shock that they won’t react or object having their national wealth and labor rights been stripped from them into the hands of the global neoliberal elite.

What a geopolitical analysis of the recent developments in the region of the Middle East show is that the US and other western powers or even Russia will not hesitate to intervene and dismantle a country, as they are doing in Syria or already have done in Libya and Irak, if it ensures their control on the country’s natural resources.

Having shared these thoughts it is important to measure our next political decisions in Cyprus carefully. We cannot expect that our national problem, that is the resolution of the Cyprus issue, will be done under the principles of international human rights and law, nor that it will be disconnected from a wider arrangement of the energy resources within our region.

The democratic cost of monarchy

Can we really describe countries with constitutional monarchy as democratic? While monarchy is long been abolished from many modern western states there still exists a divergence in the way that many states have abolished the rule of the royal family.

For example in Greece the Royal family was stripped off their wealth and had to forgo their right from the throne and its political powers. For the people of Greece a monarch, especially one who supports military dictatorship against an elected democratic leader, should have no rights, role or function in a democratic country. On the other hand countries like the UK and the Netherlands the members of the crown are treated as members of an above the law, elitist institution.

In some countries in Europe the extremely outdated law of Lèse-majesté is still in effect. So in October 2007, in the Netherlands a 47-year-old man was fined €400 for describing several obscene sexual acts he would like to perform against Queen Beatrix to a police officer.

The reality is that while a large part of the public is largely indifferent to the royals they are nevertheless happy to have an extra public holiday to mark different celebrations like Queen’s or King’s jubilee.

The cause for every democratic society should be simple and clear as Graham Smith has put it: It’s about democratic reform and a rejection of inherited power and privilege.

A republic must be inheritably at odds with monarchy because: monarchy is wrong in principle, in practice and it is wrong politically.

A democratic society means we should adhere to democratic values, such as equality of citizenship, freedom to participate in government, accountability and transparency. How can this coexist with a head of state that is put there for life and by birth? Simply put, a democratic society that believes in the rule of a government ‘by the people and for the people’ should have no place for a hereditary monarch.

Monarchy as an institution does not fit any modern political scheme of a democratic state. Monarchy is secretive as it continuously lobbies to have its affairs away from public scrutiny, or it lobbies various government ministers for even greater improvements to its financial benefits and for its own private agenda. Not to mention how costly monarchy is to the general public. An independent organization in the UK estimated the cost of the British royal family up to £202 million a year more than double the cost of the Dutch royalty.

For one to understand the privileged position monarchy enjoys in many western countries one just has to consider some facts, such as the fact that the queen and Prince Charles must be asked for consent before the British parliament can debate any legislation that affects their private interests. Monarchy is politically wrong because it undermines the authority of the people the making it a central feature to the country’s constitution. Is the “Crown” not the people the supreme authority of the country with powers that cannot be challenged not even in a court of law.

In several western constitutional monarchies the Crown is handed through questionable constitutional arrangements excessive powers. This relationship between the Crown and the government most likely explains the hostility every government has shown to anyone who voices their resentment against the royal family. Their arguments tend to paint a romantic picture of the royal family, of course only with the stories and facts that fit their purpose. In any case it is almost forbidden for anyone to conduct and present a true, analysis and narrative of the role of monarchy in history. Another great argument the royalists use is the iconic purpose and use of the royal family which generates tourism and offers prestige to the country.

The problem with this argument is that there are no facts to back this up. A nation’s history can be a source for generating tourism there is no doubt on that, but a country should have the gut to put an end to an outdated institution like monarchy and move on.

In the last 60 or even more years can anyone quote a great speech or note a great moment in a nation’s history coming from a monarch? So what is the role of the monarch? If there is nothing noteworthy to remember, not a single moment of leadership or inspiration then why a country should clink on to such a costly, useless and damaging institution?

Monarchy offers little but an empty chair where an inspiring figure could have stood. These are the reasons why all free citizens should reject monarchy whenever is still in power and demand real democratic change.