ISIS Thrives on the Disunity of Its Enemies

By Patrick Cockburn, CounterPunch, November 23, 2015

The aftermath of terrorist attacks such as the massacre in Paris are a bad time to produce new policies, but they provide ideal political conditions for a government to take radical, if ill-thought-out, initiatives. Leaders are carried away by a heady sense of empowerment as a worried or frightened public demands that something be done in response to calamity and to prevent it happening again. The moment of greatest risk is not when the bombs explode or the guns fire, but when governments react to these atrocities.

Terrorism is, in the first instance, aimed at showing defiance, exacting revenge and demonstrating strength. But, to be truly successful, it needs to provoke a poorly considered overreaction by those targeted. This has always been true. The greatest success of the 9/11 hijackers was not destroying the World Trade Center, but tempting the US government into launching wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in which it failed to achieve its ends and which are still going on.

The French Affliction

By Come Carpentier de Gourdon, Sunday Guardian Live, November 21, 2015

The man sitting in front of me on a Parisian café terrace stared sombrely at the busy street and waved his hand at the crowd.

“We are slowly drifting towards a chasm,” he said, shaking his head. “The country will fall into civil strife in a decade or two but the authorities refuse to look at the problem yet. Neither our army nor our law enforcement agencies will be able to control the chaos.”

The other person at our table, a high ranking retired police officer nodded silently. His friend, who had uttered the gloomy prediction, was a well known journalist from what is usually called the right wing of the political spectrum.

This was in the mid-1990s. That conversation has remained in my ears ever since but it rang much louder when I saw in horror, but not in disbelief, the scenes of carnage and panic in Paris on 13 November, hardly two hours after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at Wembley stadium and his urgent warning about the threat posed by terrorism. I was not surprised either when it appeared that Saint Denis, the millennial heart of the French Christian monarchy and the mausoleum of its kings, now mostly inhabited by non-European Muslim populations and long ruled by the communist party, was the hub of the terrorist plots.

BRICS Should Adopt New Growth Paradigm

November 21, 2015

In an interview to The Statesman the WPF’s Founding President Vladimir Yakunin reflects on education and youth employment in BRICS nations and on dialogue of civilizations.

“For us dialogue of civilizations is that every nation, big or small, should be able to protect their integrity, tradition and way of development of life.”

Contribution of World Religions to Peace

Questions and answers on refugee catastrophe

Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, Vienna, Austria, November 18, 2015

A panel discussion was organized by the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Austria, the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” and the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna.

The ongoing refugee catastrophe is also a challenge for the major religions and their representatives. The situation requires answers and measures.

At the panel discussion at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna high-level representatives of the world religions and renowned experts discussed the issue and proposed solutions to the crisis.

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Five Banned Novels, in Moderate Malaysia

By Mohd Faizal Musa

I started writing at the age of 16 years old and got to publish my first novel at the age of 19. I won many prestigious literary awards in Malaysia. My pen name is Faisal Tehrani. However in 2010, everything flip over. From a poster boy of Malay literature, I become the most marginalized author. What really happened? Thinking I am a Shia adherent, the Shia community that is badly oppressed in my country asked me assistance. Since then I became an accidental human rights defender. I got my human rights training in Geneva, and Dublin. My views change dramatically from being a Cultural Relativist to a Universalist. I switched camp. In 2012, the current Prime Minister launched my novel, Perempuan Nan Bercinta (The Beloved Lady). In 2014, it was banned by Malaysia’s Home Ministry, citing reason “likely to be prejudicial to public order”. In 2015, four more books written by myself were banned. All together five. To illustrate how bad this is, four works by Nadine Gordimer, the recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature were banned under apartheid.

Terrorism and the Politics of Hegemony

By Chandra Muzaffar, President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST)

There has been a massive outpouring of sympathy for the victims of the dastardly, heinous massacre in Paris on 13 November 2015. Once again, with the help of the media, the whole of the human family has come together to grieve with the bereaved in France.

I only wish there was a fraction of that sympathy for the hundreds of thousands of victims of acts of terrorism right across West Asia and North Africa (WANA) in the last few decades. In many instances these innocent men, women and children were also the targets of the terrorist group, the Islamic State (IS), the alleged mastermind behind the Paris carnage, and other equally vicious perpetrators of violence. But IS terrorism in WANA is seldom analyzed to its roots in the mainstream global media because it would reveal the ugly truth about the hidden hands that manipulate so much of the murder and mayhem in that region.

The Paradox of Financialized Industrialization

A Speech by Michael Hudson made at the World Congress on Marxism 2015 at the School of Marxism, Peking University on October 10, 2015

The aim of finance is not merely to exploit labor, but to conquer and appropriate industry, real estate and government. The result is a financial oligarchy, neither industrial capitalism nor a tendency to evolve into socialism.

Ambassador Mousavian on Iranian Foreign Policy and Its Challenges

An Interview with Seyed Hossein Mousavian at Foreign Policy Concepts, November 12, 2015

Devising foreign policy in the Middle East today largely involves taking into consideration sectarian politics. What were the key dynamics that led to the current sectarian politics in the region?

In order to trace down the current state of affairs in the Middle East—where a whole host of menaces ranging from terrorism, civil wars, and unrepresentative regimes are hallmarks of its politics—we need to have a thorough observation of the historical intricacies that have brought about this situation.

To understand the root causes of sectarianism in the Middle East, I believe we need to consider the politics that were conducive to the development of a fertile ground for sectarian mindset in the region. The disintegration of the Levant region under the auspices of the “Sykes-Picot Agreement”, the illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel backed by western powers and the whole Israel-Palestine conflict, western support of unrepresentative and corrupt regimes in many Arab states, and the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan in more recent years have all led to the current sectarian quagmire that we are facing in the Middle East.

Reflections on Paris, Beirut, and the Russian Airliner

A Letter from Nader El-Bizri, Professor of the American University of Beirut to Fred Dallmayr, Co-Chairman, WPF “Dialogue of Civilizations”, November 14, 2015

Dear Fred,

These are very sad days of mourning for us all, but they also offer us in the midst of sorrow a lucid and concrete situational context to aspire for going even beyond the “dialogue” between civilisations in view of accentuating the fact that we all face the same threat and the same enemy. The savage attacks of ISIS in Paris yesterday were preceded the day before by the horrific violence of ISIS against innocent civilians in Beirut, and just a few days before by the senseless ISIS terrorist act against the Russian civilian airliner. Many other episodes of the brutality of ISIS were witnessed across Syria and Iraq, and in the MENA region, and not only against minorities, but also directed towards the vast bulk of Muslims, by blasting worshipers in mosques and mausoleums, beheadings, etc. ISIS worships the nihil even if it claims with deceit to be “Islamic”. The Godhead of ISIS carries the name “Allah” but is unlike what the Qur’anic “Beautiful Names of Allah” actually mean across the various denominations of Islam.