Qunfuz

Robin Yassin-Kassab

Archive for March 2022

The Left’s Syrian Failure

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I’ve found a video of me criticising the left’s failure to understand Syria. The crude binarism, the ignorance, the conspiracy theories, the war-on-terror rhetoric, the racism. The talk is from Oslo in late 2016, but I think it’s still very relevant today. Since 2016 the crisis has intensified and spread. Cities are burning in central Europe, climate change is galloping, and we’re still playacting oppositional politics. Here it is:

Written by Barnwalls

March 18, 2022 at 5:00 pm

Posted in leftism, Syria

This Body, A History

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There’s an essay of mine in Critical Muslim’s 41st issue. The issue is called Bodies, and my essay is called This Body: A History. It contains an out of body experience, migraines, semen, the Gulf consumerist lifestyle, and the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. Amongst other things. You can buy the issue from the publisher, Hurst, or from Amazon, etc…

As a taster, here are the first four paragraphs:

This may be my very first memory. I’m standing in a square space between four doors – one in front of me, one behind, and one to either side. One by one I close the doors. The shade increases as I go, until, closing the last door, I am enveloped in utter darkness. It’s comfortable and warm. Then I open the doors, one by one, until I’m so bathed in light, so surrounded by space, that I can’t see where my limits end.

I feel this action was often repeated, so for a long time I was sure the memory was a genuine recollection of a game I used to play, but then I interrogated the details. For a start, I remember the door handles being at the level of my waist, where door handles are today, but given my tiny stature at the age of three or four, the handles should have been much higher up. Next, and crucially, there was no space in the house we lived in then that fitted my remembered position between four doors. I’ve checked with my mother, and anyway, what kind of architect would design a room the size of a stand-up coffin?

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Written by Barnwalls

March 12, 2022 at 10:58 am

Posted in Critical Muslim

Irrationality

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Over the last two weeks very many people have asked, is Putin rational? Worse, many have argued that Putin used to be a pragmatist, a master strategist, but that he’s suddenly gone mad.

Michael Flynn, Jill Stein, and Putin. Rightists and leftists united in useful idiocy.

In 1999 Putin was a little known prime minister aiming to become president. Then a series of bomb attacks destroyed residential blocks in Russian cities, killing hundreds. Many insiders blamed Putin and the FSB intelligence services for the attacks. One such insider was the defected FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who Putin’s men consequently murdered in London (in 2006). The FSB obstructed all attempts to investigate, so its guilt has never been proved. Observers must make up their own minds. There are many good sources of information on the topic. I first came across it in Masha Gessen’s excellent book “The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin.”

What happened next is not controversial. Putin blamed the blasts on Chechen terrorists, and on that pretext reinvaded Chechnya. The Chechen capital Grozny was leveled and tens of thousands of civilians were killed.

Was this behavior rational? Well, it worked. It made Putin very popular in Russia, easing his succession to the presidency. It established his reputation as a patriotic strong man. It quelled Chechen independence.

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Written by Barnwalls

March 8, 2022 at 7:42 pm

Posted in Russia, Syria, Ukraine

Ukraine Posts

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The Russian invasion of Ukraine has made me very briefly go back to Facebook. I’m no expert on Ukraine, but having watched the western mainstream buy Russian oil and gas and treat Putin as a statesman, and the western left and hard right spread Putinist propaganda, while Russia destroyed Syria, I am something of an expert on the appeasement of Russian imperialism. Fortunately that appeasement is ending. Here are my posts from February 22nd until March 3rd. By the end of February it was clear that global politics had completely transformed. (I’ll be leaving Facebook in a couple more days. I’m not doing politics any more. I’m writing short stories.)

From free Kafranbel, Syria, before the town succumbed to Russian bombs.

“Putin calls Ukraine a ‘brother nation’ as his armies invade it. Remember that Russian imperialism organised a genocide in Ukraine in the 1930s. Remember too (because you won’t read it in the newspapers) that the Russian imperialist terror bombing of Syria continues, on a daily basis.”

“Excellent that Germany seems to be cancelling the Nord Stream 2 pipeline for Russian gas, even if it’s many years too late. The murder of tens of thousands of Syrians and the expulsion of millions by Russian bombs didn’t get in the way of this project, nor did the aggression against Ukraine in 2014. Finally some are waking up. Now it’s time for a purge of Russian gangsters from London, their money-laundering capital.”

“As predicted, appeasement brought us to this terrible point. Obama started it when his ‘red line’ over Assad’s chemical massacres vanished and he handed Syria to the Russians. This led to a vastly increased casualty rate in Syria, and the rise of ISIS. Trump continued the trend, withdrawing support from the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army when Putin asked him to, leading to the fall of that Front and the occupation of southern Syria by Russia and Iran. Trump also had American troops in NE Syria turning their camps over to the Russians. Europe ignored the obvious signs of resurgent fascism in Russia because it wanted Russian gas. The British welcomed Russian gangsters to use London as a money laundry. There are implications today for China, an expansionist and genocidal state which deeply penetrates Western economies.”

“In Syria Russia targeted schools, hospitals, markets, bakeries and residential blocks, again and again and again, murdering tens of thousands of civilians, destroying the democratic opposition and deliberately causing an outflow of refugees to Europe. Europe and America imposed no sanctions on Russia for this. Zero. Trumpists and Corbynists even admired Russia’s murder spree. Here is the result of such craven appeasement.”

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Written by Barnwalls

March 1, 2022 at 12:26 pm

Posted in Russia, Ukraine