If you win you lose.

Image result for anwar sadat

Israel and Egypt have a peace treaty that was signed by Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Menachem Begin of Israel in 1979.  The peace was made possible by the Egyptian gains in the Yom Kippur War which began on October 6th 1973.  The real-politik of that “victory” is a crucial lesson on a path to peace.

Egypt was humiliated by Israel in the 6 day war of 1967.  Their air force was wiped out by the Israelis and they lost the Sinai all the way back to the Suez canal.

A weak power which has just lost a war cannot negotiate a peace.  Whatever is negotiated will be seen as a surrender by both sides.  In order to negotiate a peace nations require a parity of gain or loss.  They need a stalemate of sorts.

In 1973, on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, when many Israeli soldiers were given holiday leave, the Egyptians and Syrians caught the IDF napping.  It was during Ramadan, the muslim holy month, and the Israelis thought they were safe.  The military build up by the Arabic forces was observed by the Israeli military intelligence, but Egyptian disinformation was excellent.  They sent streams of misleading communications about missing spare parts, malfunctioning equipment and lack of training on new weapons.  They also dismissed their Russian military advisors in the months leading up to the war.

Then, in the summer of 1973 the Egyptians mounted huge military exercises along the Suez canal and the Israelis were forced to mobilise defence forces, at great expense, to shadow the Egyptian movements.  As the exercises went on, month after month, the natural inclination for the Israelis was to downgrade the alert levels.  By the time Yom Kippur arrived many of the soldiers were overdue some leave.

The Arabs made good early gains, the Egyptians especially, retaking large parts of the Sinai.  The inevitable Israeli response was swift and furious.  Within 3 days the fronts were stabilised.

This is when things get really interesting.  Israel was able to throw the Syrians back to the pre-attack lines on the Golan Plateau.  The Syrian attack was a failure and the battle lines remain in contention to this day.

In the Sinai the Israelis were unable to dislodge the Egyptians and a stalemate ensued.  The Israelis had to hold up their hands and admit they had been caught off guard.  The Egyptians were able to sell the conflict as a victory to the Egyptian people.

This perception of a victory allowed Anwar Sadat to underscore his position to the people of Egypt as a strongman.  As a victorious General he could go to the negotiation table and forge a peace with Israel.  Without some form of victory in the Yom Kippur war he could never have agreed the peace treaty with Israel.  The Egyptian hawks would have portrayed any deal as a surrender.

The peace between Egypt and Israel holds to this day.  Although it has its skeptics, those who describe it as a “Cold Peace” akin to a Cold War, the fact is that it has stabilised the region.

What I find interesting is that the Israelis had to give up on victory to secure an enduring peace.  Sometimes when you win you lose, because your victory weakens your opponent, who must then fight on.  The result is decades of conflict.

On the other hand, as in this case, by losing a bit you win the bigger game.  Accept a defeat, give strength to your opponent, and they can sue for peace that will endure.

Anwar Sadat began the Yom Kippur war on this day in 1973.  On this day in 1981 he was assassinated by an islamic fundamentalist group of his own military officers during the annual victory parade celebrating the crossing of the Suez Canal.  Sometimes if you win you lose.

Image result for anwar sadat body

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Yarmouk

 

Heraclius was a Byzantine emperor who rose to greatness and then had the sad misfortune to live too long.  He took power in Constantinople in 610 AD when the Byzantine empire was on its knees and under siege by the Sassanid Empire of Persia.

He reformed and rebuilt the army and campaigned successfully against the Persians.  Then he triumphed at the Battle of Nineveh in 627 AD and the Persians withdrew from all their Byzantine conquests.  To add to his legend Heraclius recovered the Christian Cross from the Persians and returned it to Jerusalem.  Some Western Christians even called him “the First Crusader”.

The Persian Empire served as the cork which held the Arabic tribes contained in the Arabian Peninsula.  With the collapse of power in Persia, and the newfound impetus of the Arabs united by Muhammad under the banner of Islam, the game in the middle east changed completely.

As the Arab armies exploded out of the peninsula into Persian lands they began to threaten Byzantine Syria.  Heraclius responded by sending a huge army to the Levant to smash the desert peoples, who they knew of old as raiders and rustlers.

As the massive Byzantine army approached the smaller Arabic forces withdrew to the plains around the Yarmouk River the largest tributary of the Jordan and a natural barrier between Syria and Arabia.

On August 15th 636 AD the Byzantines met the armies of the Rashidun Caliphate and began a series of battles.  In what might be called the “First Six-Day War” the muslim forces did not simply defeat the Byzantines.  They decisively shattered the Byzantine forces and drove them out of Syria, Palestine and Lebanon entirely.

The Battles of Yarmouk are a textbook example of an inferior force decisively defeating a superior force through better generalship.  The hero of the hour was the Arab General Khalid ibn al-Walīd, a companion of Muhammad and a man almost unknown in the west.

Heraclius lived until 641, long enough to see all the lands he regained from the Sassanids lost to the Arabs.  In Arabic and Islamic telling Heraclius was viewed as a wise and learned king who recognised that Islam was the true faith.  He tried to convert his people to Islam but they resisted and he failed.  As a result he was defeated in battle.

 

Imagine being a pea?

Syria

An evacuated Syrian girl looks out of the broken window of a bus.

In this summer heatwave I appreciate the sentiment of Robert Graves, born this day 1895.  An English writer, son of an Irish poet of the Gaelic Revival.  Robert is best known for his novel “I, Claudius”.

 

Give us rain; by Robert Graves

‘Give us Rain, Rain,’ said the bean and the pea,
‘Not so much Sun,
Not so much Sun.’
But the Sun smiles bravely and encouragingly,
and no rain falls and no waters run.

‘Give us Peace, Peace,’ said the peoples oppressed,
‘Not so many Flags,
Not so many Flags.’
But the Flags fly and the Drums beat, denying rest,
and the children starve, they shiver in rags.

Calendar Wars III

Nizar

Nizar Qabbani : Syrian Poet

Last night was the spring, or vernal equinox.  In astrological terms that makes today the first day of the new astrological year.  The first month of the Zodiac calendar is Aries, the Ram.  We all love to make fun of horoscopes and the notion that you can predict your future from the rotation of the planet and the precession of the stars.

At the same time the human brain is pre-programmed to seek patterns in nature.  Random chance is a frightening threat, so we seek solace in order and causality.  Reading horoscopes is simply a manifestation of the real human need to make sense of our world.

Today is also the first day of the new year in the Bahá’í calendar, a religion from Iran.  Year 1 of this calendar begins in 1844 CE making this year 175BE.  Though it originates in Iran it is most heavily persecuted there.  It is sad that Islam, which was once renowned for its tolerance of other faiths, has become so prohibitive of other peoples beliefs.

So to poetry and today I have a poem from one of the most famous and best loved Syrian poets.  Nizar Qabbani was born on March 21st 1923 in Damascus which he described in his will as “the womb that taught me poetry, taught me creativity and granted me the alphabet of Jasmine“.

The suicide of his older sister when he was aged 15 had a profound influence on the young Qabbani.  She made the ultimate refusal to an arranged marriage.  All his life he advocated feminism and an examination of the relationship between men and women in Arabic society.

The defeat of Syria and the Arab allies in the 6 day war by Israel also had a profound effect on his work and shifted his focus from the poetry of love to the poetry of politics.

A lesson in Drawing; by Nizar Qabbani

My son places his paint box in front of me
and asks me to draw a bird for him.
Into the color gray I dip the brush
and draw a square with locks and bars.
Astonishment fills his eyes:
‘… But this is a prison, Father,
Don’t you know, how to draw a bird?’
And I tell him: ‘Son, forgive me.
I’ve forgotten the shapes of birds.’

My son puts the drawing book in front of me
and asks me to draw a wheatstalk.
I hold the pen
and draw a gun.
My son mocks my ignorance,
demanding,
‘Don’t you know, Father, the difference between a
wheatstalk and a gun?’
I tell him, ‘Son,
once I used to know the shapes of wheatstalks
the shape of the loaf
the shape of the rose
But in this hardened time
the trees of the forest have joined
the militia men
and the rose wears dull fatigues
In this time of armed wheatstalks
armed birds
armed culture
and armed religion
you can’t buy a loaf
without finding a gun inside
you can’t pluck a rose in the field
without its raising its thorns in your face
you can’t buy a book
that doesn’t explode between your fingers.’

My son sits at the edge of my bed
and asks me to recite a poem,
A tear falls from my eyes onto the pillow.
My son licks it up, astonished, saying:
‘But this is a tear, father, not a poem!’
And I tell him:
‘When you grow up, my son,
and read the diwan of Arabic poetry
you’ll discover that the word and the tear are twins
and the Arabic poem
is no more than a tear wept by writing fingers.’

My son lays down his pens, his crayon box in
front of me
and asks me to draw a homeland for him.
The brush trembles in my hands
and I sink, weeping.

Another Road

Syria Team

Syrian Terror Squad

I can’t let the recent Paris and Belgian terror attacks pass without making some comment.

The seed of French difficulty lies in the Sykes-Pichot agreement after the Great War, when Britain and France carved up the Levant between them.  France took possession of Lebanon and Syria.

Under Turkish Ottoman rule the middle east was stable.  Perhaps not exactly happy, but stable and mostly content.

Since Western powers took control of the Levant the Middle East has been a disaster.  At what stage do Western “Powers” hold up their hands and admit they are unable to achieve anything positive in the region?

Hate causes many problems, but it solves none.  The French solution to the Paris attacks is yet another bombing campaign.  Do they expect that to succeed in stabilizing the region?  Truth is bombing campaigns are a short term solution.  Politicians thrive on short term solutions.  The voting public has no patience for long slow strategies that eventually deliver the desired results.

We, the voters in the democracies of the West are individually and personally responsible for what is happening in Syria.  We have caused the misery and conflict that has fostered the rise of terrorism.  We have raped these countries of their resources.  We heat our homes and fuel our cars with their oil.

Do you want to feel safe from terrorism?  What do you believe will “cure” terrorism?

Option 1: Attacking Syrians and making them poorer, more fearful, killing their children, razing their homes and driving them into refugee camps, or

Option 2:  Rebuilding the Syrian nation, making the economy prosper, raising the standard of living, rehousing the population, building schools and libraries.  Western nations actively buying up the products of Syrian production including their agricultural produce and their industrial output.

Option 1 involves spending a lot of Western money on bombs and missiles which we drop on Syria.  This is good for weapons manufacturers.  They are lobbying for this option by paying lots of money to the “right” political candidates.  It is also good for the rich capitalists who hold shares in the weapons companies.  In Syria it creates a new generation of ‘terrorists’.

Option 2 involves spending Western money too.  But it is actually a whole lot cheaper than option 1.  Unfortunately it delivers no value to the companies who make weapons.  The rich shareholders of the weapons companies see no return.  The money is just ‘wasted’ on a lot of poor Arabs.

People who have jobs, who own their own homes, who have food on the table and who can envisage a future for themselves and their families, those people are not terrorists.  Terrorists are not born, they are created.  We create them when we take their homes, their food, their lives.  If you want to recruit terrorists I suggest you look in a refugee camp.

In the next election, when the candidates come knocking on your door, ask them how they are going to make you safe from terrorism.  Ask them will they choose Option 1 or Option 2.  Let’s take another road.

 

Paris Winter; by Howard Altmann

That we can breathe and not forget
our dreams entirely. In the cold sun

the warmth of timelessness. There is
panic, rest assured, so much beauty

stirring, I want to touch all that
contains me. We know the questions

and the light shifts without a word.
In the clouds, a philosopher’s chair

rocks. In the riverbed, the buff
and lathe of stones, change glistening

past. And from the afternoon, drops
of her monthly blood drip down

the stairs, the kitchen table, all of her
unopened bills, a cold floor that timed

us. O, the ins and outs of memory
breathe, too, images at rest in the dark

chambers, the gilded daylight whir
a heart’s dusting—one walkup,

one post storm quiet blinking at
infinity. Who shot the moon

and claimed victory in the morning?
The constellations touch down;

the years collapse; the boom
and bust of love lowers the crane

at dawn: in what earth, in what sky
will the soul find its keeper?

Winning the war on terror

Improvised British Armoured Car

Improvised British Armoured Car

You cannot win a “war on terror” by military action.  Anyone who believes otherwise should look a the modern history of Ireland.

The Irish people wanted independence from Great Britain.  They moved between violent and political approaches over time.  Ultimately the Irish developed the dual strategy now nicknamed “the bullet and the ballot box”.  the British Empire was at the peak of its powers in the early 20th Century.  Ireland is not a large nation like India.  Ireland is not a powerful nation like the USA.  Ireland is not located far away from the centre of British power, like New Zealand.  Ireland is a small, weak country sitting right in Britains armpit.

Despite holding all the cards the British could not hold Ireland.  They could win every battle but never win the “war”.  The Irish learned that it was foolish to engage in fair fights against the British, so we fought dirty, the guerilla.

The IRA in the 1920’s made it impossible for the British to administer Ireland.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s the Provisional IRA in Northern Ireland moved from a guerilla war to a terrorist war.  They fought it on British soil.  It was even dirtier than the guerilla war of the 1920’s. The British evenually learned that they could not win this war.  Every victory they scored against the terrorists was a recruitment drive for the IRA.

The British learned at last that the way to end a war on terror was to build peace.  Engender understanding and respect for your foe, listen to their grievances, right the wrongs and work together to build a better society.

So I was simply astounded yesterday listening to David Cameron crowing like a cock in parliament over the murder of “Jihadi John”.  Simply calling the man by this jingoistic nickname is an indication that the British Government have forgotten all the hard won lessons of the Northern Ireland peace process.

This morning as David Cameron surveys the wreckage of Paris I wonder how bullish he feels about “taking out” Jihadi John?  The important thing here is to take a deep breath and review the situation.

The “war on terror” is going to kill British and French people, and perhaps also Americans and Russians.  You don’t fight a war in Syria.  You care for the Syrian people.  You give them peace and prosperity.  You defend them from violence.  You stop selling them guns and start buying their melons.  You stabilise their economy and give the Syrian people what they want, a safe and comfortable home.  That’s how you defeat terrorism.

Flag of the USA

USA flag

We all know the story about how the Flag of the USA has 50 stars which represent 50 states and 13 stripes which represent the original 13 colonies.

All lies.  To begin with, there are not even 50 states in the USA, there are only 45.  The “District of Columbia” is not a State.  Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia are not states, they are “Commonwealths”.  Other commonwealths of the USA are Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands.  So the USA has 45 states and if you include districts and commonwealths the number is 52.  So why are there not 52 stars on the flag?

Also, why 13 stripes?  There were 24 British colonies in America when the rebellion began.  For instance, Florida was part of the British colonies, and is now part of the USA.  But it is not counted as one of the “original” colonies.

The truth is shocking.  When you hear the truth all will become clear.  Why are the USA attacking Afghanistan?  Why are they in Iraq?  Why do they bomb Syria?  Why did they support the “Arab Spring” revolts in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Bahrain etc?

Here is the truth, and please forgive me as I must bring you back in time all the way to the Crusades.

In the year 1120 the Crusaders found  a great secret, or treasure, in the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in the ruins of the ancient Temple of Solomon.  The order of Knights Templar was founded to guard this terrible secret.  So what secret could be so terrible?

What they found was an ancient prophesy from 1,000 BCE.  This prophesy spoke of a prophet who would arise in Mecca, that his name would be “Worthy of Praise” and that he would sweep the Jews from the face of the earth.  King Solomon was so worried by this prophesy that he had a great shaft dug on the Temple Mount.  He buried the prophesy in this shaft and covered it over.  He built a great temple on top of the shaft, in the hope that the God of the Jews would be praised, and would prevent the prophesy from coming true.

Two thousand years later when the Crusaders dug up this prophesy they saw that it had come true.  The prophet was Mohammed and his name means “praiseworthy”.  The armies of Islam were sweeping the world.  When this prophesy came to light there was a secret meeting between the Pope in Rome, the Patriarch in Constantinople and the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem.  They agreed to a plan to set up an organisation to combat Islam.  This organisation was the Knights Templar.

From the very beginning the Knights Templar was set up with great wealth and great secrecy.  To cover their real purpose they were given a role to “protect pilgrims on the roads to the holy land”.  But this was only ever a cover.

At this stage I want you to remember two images.  One is the image of the Templar Banner, red crosses on a field of white.

Flag Templar

The other is the banner of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, gold crosses on a field of blue.

Flag Jerusalem

To cut a long story very short, the Knights Templar amassed a huge treasure.  They then used this treasure to establish a country, the USA, which has the purpose of fighting Islam  They pretended to disappear, and had a sham trial of the order by the French King in 1307.  In truth they went into hiding.  They searched for a home where they could establish their new kingdom.

Look at any image of the Ships used by Columbus and what is the first thing you will notice?  The Templar cross!  Yes, Columbus was a member of the Templar order, on a mission to find a country in the New World where the war against Islam could grow.  Columbus was not the only Templar sent to establish the new world.  Look at the “San Antiago”, the ship of Amerigo Vespucci, look at the “Mathew” the ship of John Cabot, or “The Golden Hind” the ship of Francis Drake and even the Mayflower.  What they all have in common is that they carry a white flag with a red cross.  They were all Templar ships.

When the founding fathers of the USA designed their flag they did not want to be obvious.  So the flag of the USA has a hidden set of meanings.  We can begin with the Templar Cross.  They took a simple white flag and on it they wrote the Islamic Creed, the Shahada.  It reads

Lā ʾilāha ʾillā l-Lāh Muḥammadur rasūlu l-Lāh

which means There is no god but God, and Mohammed is the messenger of God

Put a number against each word in the creed.

1Lā 2ʾilāha 3ʾillā 4 l-Lāh 5Muḥammadur 6rasūlu 7l-Lāh  

They placed these words in a vertical column on the flag, 7 words, each of which was then covered with a red stripe, a symbol of the triumph of the Templar Cross over Islam.  So the stripes actually say “Death to the Islamic Creed”.  On the original flag, stored in the Smithsonian Museum in a secure vault, the Shahada is actually embroidered beneath the stripes in a green silken thread, as green is a colour sacred to Islam.  This is why there are 7 red stripes on the US flag.  7 stripes for 7 words.

So what do the stars mean?  The Star is a symbol used in Islam to represent the Hope that one day all the world will submit to Allah and his prophet Mohammed.  The religion is based on 5 pillars;  1 Shahada (the creed) 2 Salat (pray 5 times a day) 3 Zakat (give alms to the poor) 4 Sawm (fast during Ramadan) and 5 Hajj (make a pilgrimage to Mecca).  The 5 pointed star is the symbol of the 5 pillars of Islam.

There are 49 countries in the world that have majority Islamic populations.  The blue section of the flag of the USA is based on the blue flag of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.  There are 49 white stars to represent each of the majority Islamic countries, and one more star to represent Muslims who live as a minority in other countries.

If the USA succeed in conquering a Muslim country and converting it back to Christianity they will replace the white star with a gold cross.  The aim of the USA is to have a flag with 50 gold crosses.  If this happens the Prophesy of the Ancient Temple of Solomon will be broken.

Every morning in every school in the USA children make a pledge to the Flag of the USA.  Soldiers in the US Army make the same pledge.  The words of the pledge are:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under Godindivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

So you see, this is a prayer to make the world one nation under a Christian God.

Anyone buying this?  I love a good conspiracy theory!

PS, if you see Muslims burning a US flag, tell them they are burning the words of the Shahada.  That’s blasphemy, punishable by stoning to death!