I first heard of the Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr soon after American forces occupied Baghdad in 2003. His men were implicated in the stabbing murder of Sheikh ‘Abd al-Majid al-Khoi, who was a custodian of a Shia holy mosque in Najaf. Soon after, Sadr’s men launched attacks on the US forces as well, and the occupation authorities issued a “kill or capture” warrant for Sadr that was not enforced or pursued with conviction.
To me, Sadr represented what was wrong with the ‘new’ Iraq. Though his father was murdered by Saddam Hussain, Sadr and his supporters never waged a war against the regime, unlike other opponents like the Kurds or, in the case of the Shia, the Badr organisation which had a few hundred armed men in the PUK-controlled territories of Kurdistan. Sadr was late to the party and picked a fight with the wrong guy.
Bernard Lewis is dead. May the concept of “modern Turkey” that he popularised for so long in diplomatic world and public imagination follow him to the grave. Lewis’s 1961 book on Turkish history normalised the racist fascist dictatorship of Attaturk and made him a hero in the west.
This is the first day of school in Afrin under Turkish occupation.
Children are forced to wave Turkish flags.
Children are made to thank Erdogan.
Children are taught Quranic verses in the class.
Children are segregated.
And in this primary school, not one adult female is seen teaching or protecting children.
Such is the new Turkish order in Syria.
There is a fascinating France24 news story that takes the viewers inside Kurdish jails and courtrooms for the captured ISIS prisoners in Syria. Even if one removes all the positive spin and all the pro-Ocalan propaganda from the footage, Kurdish authorities still shine as genuine humanists seeking to civilise a hitherto brutalised society.
There are shots of a prison dormitory, the barbershop, the visiting hall, workshops, and the courtroom. Inside the dormitory look much better and less crowded than I expected; they have electricity and a big screen TV. The guard actually asked for the prisoners’ permission before allowing the cameraman to film them.
We have a weird bat and ball game here called cricket. It’s like baseball but bigger, better and full of solemn action. The English are responsible for inventing the game, we in Australia like to think we are the standard-bearers of this religion now. And yesterday the top practitioners of this religion were caught and confessed to something akin to slave trading.
This is how serious it is for Australia when its cricket captain and half of the team, and, possibly, the coach were busted for ball-tampering against South Africa in Cape Town yesterday.
The myth has it that 2600 or so years ago there lived on the outskirts of Zagros Mountains a people ruled by a cruel king named Dehaq. King Dehaq was a supernatural evil as evident in the two snakes that grew on his two shoulders; snakes that demanded special delicacy for food. Thus, two children would be plucked from among his subjects, and their brains fed to the snakes.
Below the darkness of the evil king’s castle lived an ironsmith named Kawa. Kawa had sacrificed all his children except one. Dehaq ordered for the last one too to be brought for his snakes. Kawa, with the help of the king’s cook, tricked him by offering a sheep’s brain instead. Thus, his child and other children were saved and were sent high up in the mountains where they lived free and grew into a small army.
When the time came, Kawa led the small army in revolt, broke into the king’s castle and smashed Dehaq’s head with his hammer. The people were freed and the news spread around the kingdom by fires lit on the mountaintops. A new day, Newroz, was declared. And those saved children who led the people to liberation became the ancestors of Kurds.
All employees on our hospitals’ payroll must attend the arrival ceremony prepared by our Chancellery for Mr President before the State Water Works on Elazig road at 12:00 tomorrow. Those who attend are required to take photos with their smartphones for evidentiary purposes. The photos will later be presented to the Chancellery.
Dicle University Chancellery.”
So there! Big Brother -also known as ‘the Chief’- is coming over; stop whatever you are doing and go meet and greet! Your livelihood depends on it!
This is not Kim’s Korea or Saddam’s Iraq, but Erdogan’s Turkey three days ago.