Americans 64 times more likely to be Murdered than die in Terrorism

By Juan Cole | –

The Institute for Economics and Peace in the UK has released a report on terrorism in 2013, which it maintains was substantially up.

There are virtues of the study. It shows that 80% of the victims of terrorism in the past year are Muslims living in just five countries– Nigeria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan. That is, by far the most numerous victims of terrorism are not Americans or Westerners but Muslims. Likewise terrorism is not very important in much of the world. In the UK a person is 166 times more likely to be the victim of criminal homicide than of terrorism. In the US, a person is 64 times more likely to be murdered than to be the victim of political terrorism.

Four groups, al-Qaeda, ISIL, the Taliban and Boko Haram, were responsible for the lion’s share of the deaths.

The study maintains that there were almost 18,000 deaths as a result of 10,000 terrorist attacks globally in 2013, saying that the number was up 61%.

Conceptually, though, I have to critique the study.

Most of these deaths attributed to terrorism are actually just signs of civil wars or regional rebellions. Syria and Iraq are having civil wars, and Afghanistan has a low-intensity set of provincial rebellions, as does Pakistan and Nigeria. Calling some of the rebels in Syria ‘terrorists’ while terming others ‘moderate’ and not talking of the terrorism of the Bashar al-Assad regime is to set up political categories, not analytical ones. Likewise, some of the Northern Alliance groups in Afghanistan had a lot of blood on their hands, but only the Taliban (equally or more violent) were branded terrorists.

Then, famously, one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. Defining which are terrorist groups and which are criminal is a judgment call.

Let’s just take Mexico. Between 2006 and 2013, roughly 10,000 people a year were killed in drug gang violence (substantially more than have died annually in terrorism in Iraq in recent years). The IEP report counts those as homicides, not terrorism. But many of these killings are committed for political reasons– to control a city like Ciudad Juarez, e.g. Moving drugs on a large scale cannot be an enterprise divorced from politics.

This issue is illustrated by the recent killings of 43 Mexican student teachers in the state of Guererrero, which have produced nationwide student protests. They were allegedly arrested by police on the order of the powers that be because they were dissidents, but were turned over to a drug gang to be murdered and disposed of. That is both terrorism (the drug gang is a non-state actor coercing people to give up political dissidence) and state terrorism (not a category present in the IEP report).

Let’s face it, if Mexico were a Middle Eastern country its drug war would be depicted as terrorism and it would join the five countries listed above at the head of the class, with a third more deaths than Iraq every year.

In all of the European Union in 2013 there were [pdf] only 150 terrorist attacks, in which 7 persons were killed. Only one of the deaths appears to have been caused by a Muslim extremist. At the same time, a Muslim was killed by a far-right European in the UK. Of the 150 attacks, the majority was committed by separatist groups. Some 24 were by leftist/anarchist groups. Despite the rise of a political far right in Europe, so far they aren’t committing much terrorism as Europol defines it. Some persons of Muslim heritage implicated in terrorism were actually leftist secularists, as with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Europol does not see signs of religious terrorism. The hysteria about Muslim terrorism, in a European context, is bizarre. Apparently separatists and the far left are the ones you’d have to worry about. But somehow these groups never make the US terrorism headlines. More important, with 7 deaths among 500 million people, it is weird to be so obsessed with terrorism in the first place. Falling off ladders was a bigger threat to European lifespan.

global warming is a much, much bigger threat to all of us than is terrorism. Indeed, drought in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan is implicated in the failure of those states and the rise of terrorism there, and the drought may well have been exacerbated by global warming.

The upshot: Much of what the West calls terrorism is just civil wars. Three of the civil wars or regional conflicts producing most of the terrorism — Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan — were caused by power vacuums created by Western invasions (the Soviets in Afghanistan, the Americans in Iraq). And many civil conflicts that would be called terrorism in the Muslim world, as in Mexico, are termed ‘drug wars’ and categorized as simple criminality in the Western hemisphere. In fact, much of what is going on in Afghanistan, e.g., is a drug war hiding behind fatwas.

Related video: “Global Terrorism Index 2014″

Top 5 Ways Daesh/ ISIL is Losing, as it lashes out like a Cornered Rat

By Juan Cole

Daesh is what ISIL is called in the Middle East by the vast majority that doesn’t like it. It has not had a good month, suffering substantial setbacks in Iraq and watching with concern as the Damascus regime of Bashar al-Assad looks set to retake the major northern city of Aleppo, to the immediate west of Daesh’s territory in al-Raqqa Province. As its leadership panics, it turns to brutal images such as another beheading as a way of trying to calm down its terrified allies. Here are some of the setbacks:

1. On November 7, the leader of Daesh, Ibrahim al-Samarra’i, was wounded by a US airstrike on his convoy near Mosul. While he is not irreplaceable, as I argued at the time, his ignominious wounding surely lowered morale in the organization.

2. The Iraqi military is maintaining that it cleared Daesh elements from the oil refining city of Beiji, north of Baghdad. Since the organization makes some money by smuggling refined oil products, this loss hurts them in their bottom line.

3. The Iraqi military and its Shiite militia allies, along with some Sunni tribes, say that they have retaken from Daesh a key dam in the eastern province of Diyala:

4. In late October, the Iraqi Army and allied Shiite militias took Jurf al-Sakhr, a Sunni Arab town of some 80,000, away from Daesh, depriving them of a base south of Baghdad from which they could menace Hilla, the Shiite Shrine Cities, or Baghdad itself.

5. In Syria, the army of dictator Bashar al-Assad has regained the momentum in the past 18 months, and now seasoned Syria observers are actually contemplating the possibility that the army will take Aleppo back from the rebels there. That would put pressure on Daesh’s chief base, of al-Raqqah Province. Until recently the two sides have largely avoided closing with one another but they won’t have that option if Aleppo falls.

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Saudi Arabia at the G20: Is it waging Econ War on Iran, Russia and N. Dakota?

By Juan Cole

The G20 is a conference of the world’s top 20 economies as measured by Gross Domestic Product. Some observers have slammed it as an unelected and arbitrary body that is doing some of the work the United Nations was intended to do– only in a much less egalitarian way. The official web site notes

“The G20 membership comprises a mix of the world’s largest advanced and emerging economies, representing about two-thirds of the world’s population, 85 per cent of global gross domestic product and over 75 per cent of global trade.

The members of the G20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.”

In other words, three of the G20 states are Muslim–Indonesia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. What did Saudi Arabia have to say at the just-concluded conference?

Saudi Arabia maintained to journalists that Riyadh is not behind the recent fall in gasoline prices. The suspicion has arisen that Riyadh is “flooding the market,” a technique it has used in the past, of pumping a lot of oil even in the face of weakening market demand, thus driving the price down.

Saudi Arabia is annoyed at Russia over Moscow’s support for the Bashar al-Assad regime in Damascus. SA will support the US in the latter’s annoyance with Russia over Ukraine. Saudi is perpetually annoyed with Iran, its Shiite rival that also supports al-Assad and the civilian nuclear enrichment program of which it fears for its dual-use, weapons potential. And Saudi Arabia is threatened by the rise of hydraulic fracturing as a way to produce petroleum, which detracts from the centrality of the vast Saudi reserves.

Saudi Arabia is not hurt as much by falling oil prices as many other OPEC countries. In part, it has larger reserves than most such countries, and so can afford to be patient until prices recover. In part, it has relatively low extraction costs, so it keeps much more of the current $80 a barrel than many countries. Some proposed drilling projects in Norway and Britain don’t make any economic sense at $80 a barrel or less

Saudi Arabia, however, says it is no longer the world swing producer. It produces 9.5 million barrels a day or so, about ten percent of the world production of 90 million barrels a day. While it used to matter a lot whether Saudi did 8 mn barrels a day or 9.5 mn barrels a day, nowadays a small difference like that, Saudi Arabia says, would likely be made up by other suppliers, including new fields drilled via hydraulic fracking. The fact is that demand is soft, which is what is driving prices down despite substantial decreases in Libyan, Iranian, Syrian, Iraqi and South Sudanese exports. The softness in demand, in other words, is so great that prices have come down despite significant production shortfalls in some former producing countries. Saudi Arabia may be happy about idling some proposed North Dakota or Norwegian fields, reducing competition. But it denies responsibility.

I’m not so sure the Saudi role is as unimportant as the government says. Riyadh may well be flooding the market against Iran, Russia and North Dakota. It is hard to tell. Would prices really not rise if the Saudis went down to 8 mn barrels a day? (As a country of 23 mn citizens, they don’t need to pump as much oil as they do and could survive nicely on lower production and lower proceeds).

Related video:

The Saudis Dont Mind Low Oil Prices | CNBC

Daesh (ISIL) Loses Refinery City in Iraq to Iraqi Army, Shiite Militias

By Juan Cole | —

Iraqi army and police joined forces with Shiite militias and US close air support to expel Daesh (ISIL) from the city of Beiji, north of Baghdad beyond Tikrit. The Iraqi military claim has not been independently verified. The army is now only 1 kilometer (less than a mile) away from Beiji’s oil installations.

It is perhaps the most significant military loss for Daesh since it took 40% of Iraq in early June, 2014.

Daesh is estimated to make $30 million a month from petroleum sales. It isn’t actually that much in the larger scheme of things. Contrary to the somewhat breathless US reporting, Daesh is not the most wealthy terrorist group ever. At the height of the Iraq War a decade ago, Shiite militias probably siphoned off some $5 billion annually from the national oil production.

Crude oil can’t easily be smuggled since it is not worth much until it is refined. Gasoline or kerosene, in contrast– i.e. refined crude– is easily sold or transferred to others. The significance of the refinery at Beiji: it produces gasoline from crude oil. By capturing it and the nearby town, Daesh hoped to deny the government of then prime minister Nouri al-Maliki the revenues. It further hoped to reap the oil money itself. Some analysts thought the gasoline smuggling had began replacing donations from the Gulf as the organization’s chief income. Daesh still holds the refinery at Beiji but now is in a poor position to keep it.

Daesh had also captured 12 small refineries built for Syria by the Turks before the revolution. These refineries have been targeted by US air strikes.

With the defeat in Beiji, Daesh looks rather less than 10 feet high. Expecting Washington to rethink its Iraq project in this light? Apparently unreasonable.

Related video:

CNN: ” Secret video of ISIS smuggled out of Iraq ”

Daesh/ ISIL calls for Terror attacks on Saudi Arabia

By Juan Cole | –

Daesh, the brutal terrorist group the US calls ISIL or ISIS, is calling for attacks in Saudi Arabia.

A voice recording has surfaced, attributed to Ibrahim al-Samarra’i, the leader of the brutal terrorist group Daesh (which the US calls ISIL or ISIS). Al-Samarra’i was wounded in a US airstrike on a Daesh convoy near Mosul last Friday. This voice recording may not actually be by the Daesh leader (it has not been authenticated).

The voice recording, in any case, depicts al-Samarra’i as boasting that his caliphate is spreading, referring to the pledge of allegiance he received from Ansar Bait al-Maqdis (Helpers of the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem) in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, an announcement that came after last Friday’s air strikes.

He called for the launching of attacks in Saudi Arabia and the “ignition of the volcano of holy war in every place.”

He called Saudi Arabia “the head of the snake.”

He also expressed deep hatred for Shiites, calling on his followers to attack Saudi Shiites in that kingdom and also to attack the Houthi Zaidi Shiites who have taken over Yemen’s capital.

He maintained that US airstrikes on Daesh in Iraq and Syria have been ineffectual (not mentioning about how they severely wounded him and all).

Al-Samarra’i said that his caliphate was getting ready to mint money, so as to combat the infidel finance system he said was imposed on Muslims by the West.


Related video:

CNN: “Is ISIS leader voice of chilling message?”

Top 5 Disasters If GOP Senate derails Iran talks

By Juan Cole |

The Republican Party is already conniving at ways to derail the US-Iran negotiations over Tehran’s civilian nuclear enrichment program. When they take over the senate in January, the GOP senators will be in a good position to deep-six the talks and deny President Obama a diplomatic breakthrough.

Iran does not have a military nuclear weapons program. It does engage in research on civilian nuclear enrichment, to generate electricity. The GOP would like to find a way to lobotomize Iran and ensure that it never closes the fuel cycle.

If the GOP succeeds, it will make a US-Iran War much more likely. The two countries are already on a war footing, and things could easily spiral out of control.

Here are some likely consequences:

1. Iran would have no reason to be transparent about its civilian nuclear enrichment program, since it will remain under extremely onerous sanctions and would have no further hope of escaping them.

2. The US already has what amounts to a financial blockade on Iranian petroleum sales. Blockades frequently raise tensions so much that they make war more likely. If the blockade is worsened by Congress, the likelihood of an Iranian-US clash would much increase.

3. US troops advising the Iraqi military are embedded with Shiite troops, many of them ex-militiamen with close relations with Iran. Iran could easily arrange for Iraqi enlisted men to “frag” American troops, attacking them in a surprise fashion.

4. Iran will be driven further into the arms of Russia and China, to both of which it is a useful chip to play.

5. President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate, would be drastically weakened if his attempts to negotiate with the US crash and burn. Anti-American hard liners might well take over, with all the dangers that implies.

Bottom line, the US-Iran blockade is so fierce that in the absence of a diplomatic solution, war becomes a real possibility.

Related video:

VOA: “Obama, Rouhani Face Domestic Opposition to Nuclear Deal”

A Day Late & a Dollar Short: Obama & China agree on Languid Climate Goals

By Juan Cole

The good news is that US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping have reached an agreement on limiting carbon emissions in their two countries.

The US puts out 5.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide a year, and China does 7 – 9 billion. The US did 5 billion metric tons in 1990 but went on up to 5.5 in 1996 and 6 in the mid-zeroes.

The US just agreed to reduce carbon emissions to as much as 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. But US emissions increased from 5 bn tons a year in 1990 to 6 bn in 2005, an increase of 20 percent. So the US is still only committed to being slightly below 1990 levels by 2025. In other words, it will go on spewing an average of 5 bn metric tons a year into the atmosphere, the equivalent of taking a dump in your kitchen sink, for over a decade into the future, getting down to like 4.5 billion metric tons in a decade. This is as close to doing nothing about the crisis as you could get. It is twice as ambitious a goal as the previous one in the US, but this is a country of oilmen and climate change denialists who really do want to increase emissions.

That US emissions have fallen back to 1996 levels is better than nothing, but that we never reduced from 1990 levels and have gone on putting 5 and 6 billion metric tons of CO2 in the atmosphere for the last quarter century — even though all non-morons knew we were endangering the planet thereby — is a scandal comparable to the US commitment to slavery for its first decades.

The US output is much greater per person than China (every American emits on average 16 metric tons of CO2 every year), but these two countries are the biggest emitters. Neither country is willing to risk an economic slowdown by launching the kind of emergency shift to renewables that is needed to avert potential climate disruption. (In fact, studies show that turning to renewables won’t cause a slowdown but will rather add to economic growth; sun and wind as fuel are free).

Neither country has been willing to do all that much at all to reduce emissions. US emissions went up last year and are only slightly down from the highs of the zeroes, mainly because of the rise of wind power in Iowa, Texas, etc., switching a bit from coal to natural gas, and the economic turn down of 2009 and after. Less that one percent of US electricity generation is from solar, despite the country having enormous solar potential in the South and Southwest and despite the availability of large open spaces on which to mount the panels.

China actually pledged to go on increasing its carbon emissions until 2030, by which time it thinks it will hit its peak and after which its carbon emissions will begin falling. 2030! Game over, climate.

The world will likely put out 40 bn metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2014, up from the 36 bn tons common only a few years ago. We’re going in the wrong direction and have been for a very long time. If another 1.2 trillion metric tons goes into the atmosphere, we’re locked into a roughly 4 degrees Fahrenheit increase. All we have to do is 40 bn tons for 30 years to ensure that, and likely soon we’ll be doing much more than 40 annually, so the cutoff will come much earlier than 30 years, maybe even 15. That would be around the time China thinks it might be able to arrange to start reducing its annual emissions.

Although China on the surface might seem to have advantages in moving to renewables, what with an authoritarian central government that can do as it pleases, in fact authoritarian governments also have constituencies. One of China’s is the coal workers and coal company bureaucracy, just like in capitalist Poland or West Virginia.

The tools Obama and Xi announced to get to their limp goals are also unimpressive. Research on carbon capture and sequestration, which is actually dangerous. What if the sequestered carbon leaks? Remember that Cameroon lake? This is just a sop to the coal industry. And research and green trade, which don’t amount to a serious commitment.

It is a sad commentary that this agreement is actually an improvement on previous goals of the two countries. And it is better to have an agreement with firm dates and targets than to have the two carbon monsters take turns hiding behind each other at climate talks. But this agreement isn’t a commitment to reduce carbon emissions on a timescale appropriate to the magnitude of the crisis. It mostly kicks the ball down the road.

The main hope for the world now is that solar panel efficiencies and costs, and battery efficiencies and costs, will fall fast enough to make the governments and their fossil constituencies irrelevant. That is, if solar panels become like iPhones, such that hundreds of millions of people suddenly want and acquire them, then there will be genuine CO2 emissions reductions. That is, if you get this kind of adoption, curve, then there is hope:


In my view, given the kind of research and development being done on photovoltaics and on batteries, this kind of adoption curve for solar panels could well occur starting in only a few years. Once the panels become must-haves, they can spread to millions of households very quickly.

My household has reduced its carbon emissions by several tons this year, between putting solar panels on the house and driving a Volt. If every American cut back 5 tons this year, that would be a reduction of 1.5 billion metric tons, taking us near Obama’s 2025 target ten years early. This reduction is technologically feasible and can be accomplished in ways that actually save a household money over a decade. I would argue that the main obstacle is lack of financing. Obama might want to think about low-interest instruments.

Governments have already proved themselves almost useless in this crisis with a few exceptions (Germany, Scotland and Ethiopia are among the virtuous ones). Much-vaunted corporate capitalism has shown itself sclerotic, leaden, slow and obstructionist rather than agile and efficient — with the exception of some green start-ups.

So if we’re to dodge this bullet it will have to be done from the lab on the one hand and grassroots consumers on the other.

In the meantime, churches, schools and universities ought to be getting their energy from wind turbines or solar panels or both, not coal. They would save money over time and teach congregations and students valuable moral lessons about being good stewards of this beautiful, unique planet.


Related video:

Yingli Solar: “3,000 Solar PV Professionals to Fight Haze on “Singles Day” in China”

Internet Liberty at Stake in Obama World Wide Web Policy

By Juan Cole

President Barack Obama on Monday called on the Federal Communications Commission to treat Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) as common carriers, sort of like television networks such as NBC or CBS. The relevant law is called “Title II.”

As the world wide web was originally conceived by framers such as Tim Berners-Lee, it was characterized by a key, amazing feature. Everybody on the internet was the same distance from everyone else. Thus, whether you are reading this blog in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where my computer connects to the Web, or in Cairo or Jakarta, you have the same access to it. It loads just as fast for you, wherever you are. My blog is just as easy for you to browse as the internet portal of Fox Cable News, owned by billionaire press lord Rupert Murdoch.

This situation has two disadvantages for the wealthy who mostly run the United States. The first is that Internet Service Providers can’t make easy money by charging some publishers more than others, and setting up tiers of service. Thus, they could make it so it would take 60 seconds for my blog to load, since I can’t pay them very much. But then Rupert’s so-called “news” site could load immediately because he could give them millions and not even notice it. Studies have shown that readers won’t wait 60 seconds for a site to load, so this “tiered” service would destroy citizen journalism and leave us with only corporate news on the world wide web.

The second disadvantage for the wealthy of net neutrality is that they cannot use gate keepers like newspaper editors to control the free circulation of views and information on the World Wide Web. Everyone with a keyboard and an internet connection can publish, and publish for a mass audience. In the early 20th century there was a quip that anyone could own a newspaper, all you needed was a million dollars. Factory workers could publish cyclostyled (don’t ask) newsletters. But large-circulation newspapers were the province of the wealthy, and then information could be presented to the public from the point of view of the wealthy. (The wealthy don’t all agree with one another, so of course you still had liberal and conservative newspapers, but in the US you had few large-circulation socialist ones. The lines of acceptable viewpoints were drawn so as to position the public to the right of center, even though it wasn’t and isn’t if left to its own devices).

A tiered world wide web would restore some of the lost ability of the wealthy to control the spin put on news. We know what that spin typically is. There are no labor reporters at any major metropolitan newspaper. Major labor actions are often not reported on at any length. Nor are union workers much featured in the mass media such as television. Wars benefiting munitions corporations are reported on positively. The dangers of fossil fuel consumption are discounted. In a business-class world, it is people with capital who matter and on whom reporters are told to concentrate. We’ve all heard of Donald Trump or the Koch brothers. Richard L. Trumka and Linda Chavez-Thompson of the AFL CIO are, let us say, less prominent. Even less prominent are climate scientists like Michael Mann. And, of course, northern Europeans are generally more newsworthy than people originating in other parts of the world. Race and class are not evenly distributed in the informational world of US corporate media.

A lot of you have said how much you benefited from my own analyses of the Iraq War during the Bush administration. But in the 20th century I might not have been able to present that analysis to the public. I had trouble getting my op-eds published in newspapers in the old days. I wasn’t mainstream. This blog would not have existed without net neutrality, and if net neutrality ever goes away, probably so will the blog.

President Obama’s support of net neutrality is welcome, but there are many problems with it. He can’t order the FCC around, since it is an independent agency. Its head comes to us from the world of ISPs and we are suspicious of him. Title II would not necessarily in and of itself prevent a tiered web, though it might impede and constrain the degree of it. And, whatever Obama accomplishes by mere administrative regulation can be undone by the next president. Presumably he is hoping to create such a weight of bureaucratic practice and tradition that it will be difficult to overturn.

In the American system, the best guarantor of liberty of access to the internet and liberty of accessible publication on it is the rise of powerful economic interests that benefit from it. Thus, the guy in a white hat here is Netflix. In contrast, Comcast and other ISPs shot themselves in the foot by throttling Netflix and shaking it down, creating an ally for bloggers and civil libertarians. Senator Al Franken, with his ties to the entertainment industry (I remember when he was a comedian on Saturday Night Live), likewise has taken a powerful stand in favor of net neutrality.

Here’s a toast to Netflix, in hopes that it can bring sufficient pressure to bear to see Obama’s vision realized. The good lord knows that the bloggers are unlikely to be able to.

Related video:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Net Neutrality (HBO) from 5 months ago

Ferguson & Israel? Netanyahu Calls for Stripping Palestinian-Israelis of Citizenship

By Juan Cole

On Sunday Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he was looking into whether Israel could strip citizenship from those who speak out against the continued statelessness of the Palestinians. (There are millions of stateless Palestinians outside Israel.

Netanyahu began his political career as a far-right Likud politician calling for the forced deportation of the 20% of the Israeli population that is of Palestinian heritage. He said Sunday,

“Israel is a nation of law. We will not tolerate disturbances and rioting. We will act against those who throw stones, block roads and call for the establishment of a Palestinian state in place of the State of Israel. Whoever does not honor Israeli law will be punished with utmost severity. I will instruct the Interior Minister to evaluate revoking the citizenship of those who call for the destruction of the State of Israel.”

Netanyahu’s remarks were made in the context of Palestinian-Israeli demonstrations in Kafr Kanna inside Israel, over a Ferguson, Mo., sort of incident. Police shot dead a 22 year old man whom they accuse of menacing them (videotape does not support the police story).

So this would be as though at the height of the Ferguson controversy, US leaders had threatened African-Americans with being declared stateless and being deported if they did not fall silent.

Netanyahu’s close colleague, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, has proposed administering loyalty tests to Palestinian-Israelis and stripping of their citizenship anyone who declined.

The step of denaturalizing people is a very unfortunate throwback to the arbitrary policies of fascist and communist regimes of the 1930s. Franco stripped the Spanish leftists of their citizenship when he won the civil war. The Soviets stripped the White Russians of their citizenship. The Nazis denaturalized many groups, including German Jews. Arguably, taking their citizenship rights was what made it possible for the Nazis to carry out the Holocaust.

Stripping citizenship is forbidden by the International Declaration of Human Rights and other UN instruments and treaties.

There is an increasing move to take away citizenship rights. Dissidents have been punished in this way in Bahrain and Kuwait. But now Britain has joined them, and Canada may as well. The Israelis, if they take this weighty step will be on the same page as the King of Bahrain and the Emir of Kuwait, not to mention some pretty unsavory dictators of the interwar period in the 20th century.

It is Palestinian statelessness that is causing trouble in the Mideast to begin with. More stateless Palestinians won’t help resolve the problems.

Related video:

PressTV: “Clashes between Israeli forces, Palestinians continue in kafr kanna”

Why it Isn’t that Important Whether ISIL Leader was Killed

By Juan Cole

Revised 11/10

Rumors are swirling that ISIL leader Ibrahim al-Samarra’i (who goes by the nom de guerre of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) was severely wounded and that some of his chief lieutenants were killed by a US air strike on a meeting of ISIL leaders on Friday. (Update: ISIL is confirming the injury of al-Samarra’i)

The Iranian newspaper Tabnak quotes from al-Sumaria that it was US air strikes or those of coalition partners that killed 20 high ISIL leaders. It alleges that Umar al-Abasi, an ISIL bomb maker, was among those killed, along with Abu Hanifa al-Yamani, an aide to al-Samarra’i.

I caution everyone that such a contradictory set of narratives is obviously not very trustworthy, and no one know if the ISIL leader was actually hit.

Second, the US has killed a long line of al-Qaeda leaders by now, from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 2006 to Bin Laden himself. The military’s theory that leadership is rare and attrition wrought on leaders is decisive in defeating a group is simply incorrect. ISIL’s toolbox of terrorizing and coercing people is available to large numbers of people. Plus, ISIL’s big advances in June of this year weren’t even military, but rather were political. They convinced the people of Mosul, a city of 2 million, to join them against the Shiite government in Baghdad.

There are plenty more potential ISIL leaders out there.


BBC News: “US air strikes target Islamic State gathering in Iraq”