Wolves helped by Syria-Israel conflict

This 2009 video says about itself:

The demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea has become an accidental paradise for wildlife.

Bloody wars and other deplorable human conflicts usually have bad consequences for the environment and for wildlife. However, in some cases they may have unexpected positive side effects for wildlife. Like for wildlife in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. For leopards in minefields left from the Iran-Iraq war. For Nubian nightjars in minefields in the Israel-Jordan border area.

Or, sometimes, for wolves.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Living in a minefield: the wolves of the Golan Heights

In the Golan Heights, a dangerous minefield provides an unlikely wildlife reserve where wolves are thriving

Arian D Wallach, Churchill Fellow, Dingo for Biodiversity Project, Charles Darwin University, Australia

Friday 6 February 2015 11.51 GMT

Sitting in the cold of an open jeep, we are waiting for dawn. The thick snow provides some reflective light and we strain our eyes, hoping to catch a glimpse of the wolf pack as they return home from their night’s hunt. This family of wolves holds one of the safest territories a large predator could possibly hope for: a minefield in the Golan Heights, near the Israel-Syria border.

One step outside the barbed-wire fence, however, and the wolves must be very careful. Although wolves are provided with substantial legal protection from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) – enabling one of the greatest wolf recoveries in the world – they are hunted, culled and poached across the region. In an effort to appease ranchers who fear for their livestock while simultaneously conserving this growing wolf population, three management zones were delineated.

In the southern Golan Heights, ranchers can legally shoot wolves, and may even be rewarded with a generous bounty. Further north, wolves can also be hunted, but only by special permit issued by the INPA. Hunting wolves is forbidden inside national parks, and carries a heavy penalty, but poaching does occur occasionally, and can be difficult to enforce. Throughout the Golan, the INPA kills wolves, in a controversial effort to limit their population.

Itamar Yairi, a photographer who has been closely observing the Golan wolves for the past two years, witnessed the potentially dire consequences for those who venture out of the minefields.

The pack Itamar follows, led by a distinctly large and beautiful matriarch, chose to conceal their pups in a den just a few meters outside the minefield’s perimeter. “They were living like royalty, completely relaxed,” Itamar tells me. “Lying in the sun all day, playing and resting, watching over their pups, and then going out under the cover of darkness to hunt.” But one morning Itamar arrived to find a tragedy. The wolves were gone, and inside the pup’s den he found a box of meat laced with poison.

Poisoning wolves is strictly illegal in Israel, but occasionally it does happen, causing extensive deaths of wolves and other wildlife including jackals, foxes, wild boar and raptors. The death of wolves is bound to ripple through every facet of the Golan ecosystem, from the gazelles and wild boar that they hunt, and the jackals that they dominate, to the entire fabric of the remnant oak woodlands.

For several months Itamar could not find his wolf pack, but slowly, one by one, some of them reappeared: the matriarch and her mate and their two adult daughters returned, but their adult son is gone, and so are the pups. “I don’t want to know what happened to them,” he says.

Wolves live in extended family units, in which only one pair reproduces and the entire pack cooperate in raising and educating the young. They hunt together, patrol their territory together, and are deeply bonded to one another. Some wolves stay with their parents well into adulthood. It is these social ties that make wolves such powerful ecological players. It is the pack – not the individual wolf – that is the apex predator.

The loss of pack members is therefore a terrible blow, both to the wolves and the ecosystem. “They haven’t fully recovered from the loss,” Itamar tells me. “I only hope that they keep their next litter of pups deep inside the minefield.”

In 2010, 11-year-old Daniel Yuval was badly injured when he accidentally wandered into a snow-covered minefield, detonating a land mine during a family hike near the village of Merom Golan. Daniel lost his leg, and his sister sustained serious injuries. The incident sparked a global campaign to clear land mines, and the Israel Defence Force (IDF) responded by improving the visibility of warning signs and fence maintenance. Landmines remain common and deadly however, and in 2013, Roi Alphi, a Combat Engineering Corps soldier, was killed during an accident in an operation to clear anti-tank mines in the southern Golan.

The landmines and the tensely patrolled militarised zone make it a dangerous and forbidding place for humans, but a sanctuary for the wolves. “I have watched the wolves running towards the minefields, only to slow down to an easy trot when they pass the fence,” Itamar explains. “If the mines go, so will the wildlife.”

As the day breaks, the sun lights the massive fence running along the Israel-Syria border. Beyond the fence we watch the sleeping Syrian town of Quneitra. There is no sign of electricity, nor is there smoke rising from a chimney. I wonder how they warm their homes on this bitterly cold morning. We can hear occasional gunfire, but Amir Drori, jeep tour guide and local resident, tells me that this is a relatively quiet day. “Its too cold to fight. We have in a way gotten used to the sound of heavy gunfire and explosions from our neighbours on the other side of the fence.”

We did not see Itamar’s pack that morning, but we did find their tracks crossing in and out of the minefield a short distance away.

Paris murders, blowback of NATO wars

This video says about itself:

Afghanistan’s Endless Jihad: The Mujahideen Vs The Soviets

Afghan Jihad (2007): A look back at the mujahiddin who fought the Soviet-backed government of Afghanistan with US support, and who then fought against the NATO forces who invaded in 2001.

In 1979 the mujahiddin of Afghanistan rebelled against a Soviet-backed central government. The US threw its financial and technological resources behind the rebel movement, offering support in any way it could. We travel into the remote Kumar Valley and find that back in 1979 the US was arming the likes Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and his organisation Hizb-e-Islamia – the very group now waging a vicious counter insurgency against Allied forces.

By Ian Sinclair in Britain:

Western support for extremists will lead to more terrorist attacks

Wednesday 28th January 2015

IS IT safe to come out yet? Can we begin the rational, reasoned debate about the Paris terrorist attacks that is so desperately needed?

The media coverage and discussion over the recent shocking events in France has been predictably hysterical and evidence-free.

For Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow the attack was a “brutal clash of civilisations. Europe’s belief in freedom of expression v those for whom death is a weapon in defending their beliefs.”

The normally sensible Will Self labelled the perpetrators “evil.”

New York Times columnist Roger Cohen tweeted: “I am shaking with rage at the attack on Charlie Hebdo. It’s an attack on the free world.”

His frightening solution?

“The entire free world should respond, ruthlessly.”

Missing from the endless mainstream media coverage is any mention of the awkward fact that, as Noam Chomsky has stated, “traditionally the United States and Britain have by and large strongly supported radical Islamic fundamentalism.”

The historian Mark Curtis details the link in his 2010 book Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam.

Citing British support for the “crazies” in Afghanistan in the 1980s and their BFF, the ruthless Saudi regime, Curtis notes: “British governments, both Labour and Conservative, have, in pursuing the so-called ‘national interest’ abroad, colluded for decades with radical Islamic forces, including terrorist organisations.”

It’s important to remember all this is not ancient history. Just as the Western-backed jihad in Afghanistan gave birth to al-Qaida, by supporting those who wish to violently overthrow President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the West has helped to create the jihadi blowback of which Paris may well be only the beginning.

You don’t believe me? Let me explain. The West has been helping to arm the rebels in Syria since before May 2012. With its involvement initially covert and limited, the US gave a wink and a nod to Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to support the rebels.

This use of proxies has continued despite it being clear since at least October 2012 that arms provided by Qatar and Saudi Arabia were going to hardline Islamist jihadists.

How clear, you ask? Well, as clear as a New York Times headline stating “Rebel arms flow is said to benefit jihadists in Syria.”

The US, Britain and, yes, France, have continued to provide arms and training to the rebels, despite experts repeatedly warning of the danger of such a strategy.

In September 2012 the head of the UN monitoring mission in Syria said Western support for the opposition risked prolonging the conflict.

Writing in the New York Times in June 2013, two former Nato secretary-generals noted: “Western military engagement in Syria is likely to provoke further escalation on all sides, deepening the civil war and strengthening the forces of extremism, sectarianism and criminality gaining strength across the country.”

Experts from Chatham House, the Royal United Services Institute and the European Council on Foreign Relations all warned that weapons sent into Syria would likely end up in the hands of jihadists.

William Hague, of course, said there was no risk of arms falling into the wrong hands.

Who do you think has been proved right? Unsurprisingly, CIA-supplied weapons have been spotted being used by Isis to target armoured vehicles the US had supplied to the US-backed Iraqi government.

You don’t need to be a counter-terrorism expert to realise an increasingly militarised conflict, awash with weapons and populated by a burgeoning number of extremists, with no peaceful end in sight, is exactly the kind of conditions that encourage violent jihadists to travel to Syria.

Terrorism analyst Aaron Zelin’s February 2013 warning that “the Syrian conflict is going to be as big, if not bigger, than Afghanistan was in the 1980s in terms of mobilising jihadi fighters” seems prescient today.

However, it is veteran correspondent Patrick Cockburn who makes the key point about Western responsibility: “The West backed the uprising against President Assad, and still does, and this enabled Isis to develop, gain military experience and then use it back in Iraq.”

All of this information about our own responsibility for engendering radical, sometimes violent, Islamists is on the public record, having been published in widely read, highly respected newspapers over the last few years.

And yet it has effectively been excluded from the ongoing debate surrounding the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the terrorist threat to the West.

No overt censorship or terrorist intimidation was needed — just professional, career-minded journalists and well-educated commentators arguing feverishly within the narrow bounds of acceptable debate.

Bahraini dictatorship and ISIS

This video says about itself:

Jailed for a Tweet: Interview with Nabeel Rajab

21 October 2014

Nabeel Rajab is a human rights activist awaiting trial in Bahrain, one of the West’s favorite dictatorships. Three years after the Arab Spring, protests there are still being violently repressed, and Rajab now faces up to three years in jail — for a tweet. VICE News spoke to him a few weeks before his latest arrest.

Read More: Bahrain’s Human Rights Activist Faces Jail Time — for a Tweet: here.

From Deutsche Welle in Germany:

Bahrain, human rights and the ‘Islamic State

Rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been accused of vilifying Bahrain’s institutions. His trial highlights the challenges faced by the country – and shows that it’s ill prepared to face the threat from the “Islamic State.”

Nabeel Rajab has already spent two years in prison, and now a further term is imminent. On Tuesday, a Bahraini court will pronounce its verdict in the case of human rights activist Nabeel Rajab.

Rajab has been charged with insulting government institutions after tweeting that Bahraini security forces had joined the “Islamic State” terror militias in Iraq and Syria. He now faces a three-year jail sentence.

Rajab is one of the leading Shiite human rights activists, and he has been championing the rights of Bahrain’s religious minority for years. He pointed out that the conflict affecting his country was not religious, but political. “It’s about democracy, justice, equality, freedom. The people want democracy. They want a parliament which has actual power, they want an elected government,” he told DW in an earlier interview.

Indeed, the ruling family in Bahrain has traditionally cracked down hard on the opposition: In November, Shiite politician Sheikh Ali Salman was detained, accused of instigating the overthrow of the government using “violence, threats and illegal means.”

Bahrain faces the ‘Islamic State

Rajab’s trial concerns an existential challenge for Bahrain, namely the threat of terrorist organization “Islamic State” (IS). The government has rejected accusations that Bahraini special forces have joined IS’ fight. This might be justified to some extent; after all, they’re not fighting on behalf of the government. Bahrain is a partner in the international coalition which, under US leadership, has been combating IS in Syria and in Iraq.

An IS video released in September shows four young jihadists in the desert, armed with Kalashnikovs. Footage of this type is quite common by now, but the jihadists’ nationality is worthy of note: All the militants shown in the video are Bahrainis.

Among them was Mohamed Isa al-Binali, a former officer with Bahrain’s Interior Ministry. Some weeks earlier, he had been dismissed from the security service due to “unauthorized absences.” But more importantly, al-Binali had joined the ranks of IS several months earlier. …

IS gains foothold in Bahrain

According to information gathered by Internet magazine Middle East Eye, IS ideology has been spreading in Bahrain for some time. It’s believed that it was imported by the so-called new Bahrainis – police and security forces recruited by Bahrain from other countries, usually Yemen, Syria, Jordan and Pakistan.

In Bahrain, these people receive a much higher salary than in their respective home countries. The royal family had hoped this would buy a particular loyalty to their job – to provide the ruling family with protection. In fact, at least a proportion of the new Bahrainis have been cultivating and spreading IS ideas.

In the meantime, those ideas have begun to be picked up by ethnic Bahrainis. “The threat is very serious,” a Bahraini government official told Middle East Eye, speaking on condition of anonymity. “These are people from within the security services, from the police and the military. …”

The source’s wish for anonymity indicates that the royal family wants to keep the IS presence in Bahrain under wraps. If the news were to be widely publicized, more Bahrainis could be tempted to join IS. Nabeel Rajab’s tweet has effectively thwarted the government’s strategy, and now he must stand trial as a result.

Reforms? No, thanks!

However, a harsh judgment imposed on the human rights activist is likely to put the Shiite population even further at odds with the royal family. When the Arab uprisings began in 2011, Bahrain saw continued protests against the al Khailfa family. These were instigated, predominantly, by Shiite Bahrainis, who feel marginalized by the Sunni ruling family.

Even so, the royal family has been unwilling to accept reforms, according to Bahraini politician Ali Alaswad. Alaswad renounced his political mandate in February 2011, in an act of protest against the suppression of the peaceful democracy movement.

“When you talk about power-sharing you also talk about the monarchy,” said Alaswad in an interview with DW. “In our understanding in Bahrain there is an absolute monarchy, there isn’t a constitutional monarchy, which we agreed upon. Instead, all power belongs to the ruling family, and it controls the whole land.”

See also here.

Today, if you carry a red-and-white Bahraini national flag (seen very often in opposition demonstrations), police may attack, arrest, torture or kill you. While, if you have a black ISIS flag on your car, police will do nothing against you.

But while Rajab finds sympathy with the international human rights community and some Western governments, he enjoys little support from Bahrain’s two main political allies in the West. Outside of limited calls to release Rajab from prison, the US and UK have applied no actual pressure on the Bahraini government to secure his release. Such inaction from two heavyweights on the side of democracy and human rights stands in direct contradiction with their purported human rights agendas: here.

German Islamophobic racists support ISIS terrorism

This video from Germany says about itself:

5 January 2015

Germany switches off lights in protest against anti-Islam PEGIDA group.

On it, you can see how the lights of the cathedral of Cologne were shut down, as a protest against a Pegida demonstration.

By Peter Schwarz in Germany:

The first Pegida demonstration took place in Dresden on October 20 [2014]. The demonstration was called by the 41-year-old advertising agent Lutz Bachmann, who was previously known above all for his criminal record. He has been in prison on a number of occasions, for—among other things— organised break-ins in Dresden’s red light district. At the moment, he is out on parole after being imprisoned for his involvement in drug dealing.

The German Pegida Islamophobes are not only led by a convicted criminal. They not only have links to the German NPD neo-nazis and other extreme rightists.

They turn out to be on the side of ISIS terrorism as well.

On 18 January 2015, German TV did an interview with Pegida spokesperson Kathrin Oertel. Why did Pegida start? Ms Oertel replied: ‘As a reaction to Kurds and lefties taking to the streets to demonstrate for support for PKK fighters’. Then, and now, the Turkish Kurdish PKK and their Syrian Kurdish allies were and are fighting ISIS. So, without saying so explicitly, Ms Oertel confessed that the Pegida Islamophobes are on the side of ISIS. Like some Christian Right extremists in the USA are as well.