Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, has been reduced to rubble. It has finally been snatched back from Daesh after months of merciless bombardment by the US-led coalition, and a massive ground war.
But “victory” is hardly the term to describe this moment. Mosul, once Iraq’s cultural jewel and model of co-existence, is now a “city of corpses,” as described by a journalist who walked through the ruins.
“You’ve probably heard of thousands killed, the civilian suffering,” Murad Gazdiev said. “What you likely haven’t heard of is the smell. It’s nauseating, repulsive, and it’s everywhere — the smell of rotting bodies.”
Actually, the “smell of rotting bodies” can be found everywhere that Daesh has been defeated. The group that once declared a “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria in 2014, and was left to expand in all directions, is now being rapidly vanquished.
One wonders how a small group, itself a spawn of other equally notorious groups, could have declared, expanded and sustained a “state” for years, in a region rife with foreign armies, militias and the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies?
But is such a question now irrelevant, considering that Daesh is finally being routed?
Well, this is what almost everyone seems to agree on; even political and military rivals are openly united on the subject.
Aside from Mosul in Iraq, Daesh has also been defeated in its stronghold in Raqqa, in the east of Syria. Those who survived those battles are now holed up in DeirEzzor, which promises to be their last major conflict. Daesh militants are also being flushed out of the western Qalamoun region on the Syria-Lebanon border. Even the open desert is no longer safe. There is heavy fighting in the Badiya desert, which extends from central Syria to the borders of Iraq and Jordan.
Brett McGurk, US special envoy for the coalition against Daesh, speaks with confidence about its demise. Daesh forces are “fighting for their life, block-by-block,” he said in a TV interview, and the militant group had lost nearly 80 percent of areas it formerly controlled in Iraq since its peak in 2014, and nearly 60 percent in Syria.
Unsurprisingly, US officials and media mostly emphasize military gains they attribute to US-led forces and ignore all others, while Russian-led allies are doing just the opposite.
But aside from the humanitarian tragedies associated with these victories, none of the parties involved has taken any responsibility for the rise of Daesh in the first place. They have to, and not only as a matter of moral accountability. Without understanding and confronting the reasons behind the rise of Daesh, its fall will only spawn another group with an equally nefarious, despairing and violent vision.
Analysts who have tried to deconstruct the roots of Daesh unwisely confront its ideological influences without paying the slightest heed to the political reality from which it came.
Whether Daesh, Al-Qaeda or any other, such groups are typically born and reborn in places suffering from the same, chronic ailments: weak and corrupt government, foreign invasion, military occupation and state terror.
Terrorism is the by-product of brutality and humiliation, regardless of the source, but is most pronounced when that source is a foreign one. Unless these factors are genuinely addressed, there can be no end to terrorism.
It is no accident that Daesh was molded, and thrived, in places such as Iraq, Syria, Libya and the Sinai. Many of those who answered its call also emerged from communities that suffered the cruelty of merciless Arab regimes, or neglect, hate and alienation in western societies.
The reason that many refuse to acknowledge this fact — and would fight tooth and nail to discredit it — is that an admission of guilt would make many responsible for the creation of the very terrorism they claim to fight.
Those who blame Islam are not simply ignorant, but many are also guided by sinister agendas. Their mindless notion of blaming religion is as foolish as George W. Bush’s “war on terror.”
Wholesale, uninformed judgments can only prolong conflict. They also prevent us from confronting specific and clearly obvious links, for example between Al-Qaeda’s rise in Iraq and the US invasion; between the rise of the sectarian brand of Al-Qaeda under Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi and the sectarian division of that country under the US administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, and his allies in the Shia-led government in Baghdad.
It should have been clear from the start that Daesh, as notoriously violent as it is, was a symptom, not the cause. It is only three years old. Foreign occupation and war in the region predates it by many years.
Although we were told — by Daesh itself, but also media pundits — that Daesh was here to stay, it turned out to be but a passing phase in a long, ugly montage, rife with violence and bereft of both morality and the intellectual courage to examine the true roots of violence.
It is likely that the victory will be short-lived. The group will surely develop a new strategy or further mutate. History has taught us that much.
It is also likely that those who are proudly taking credit for systematically and efficiently annihilating the group — along with whole cities — will not pause for a moment to think of what they must do differently to prevent a new Daesh from rising from the ashes of the old.
Strangely, the “US-led Global Coalition” seems to have access to the firepower needed to turn cities into rubble, but not the wisdom to understand that unchecked violence inspires nothing but violence; and that state terror, foreign interventions and the collective humiliation of entire nations are all the necessary ingredients to start the bloodbath all over again.
‘RTI shows Farooq applying for leaves from Parl’
Srinagar, Feb 21: A Right to Information request filed by India Today has led to replies by the Lok Sabha which point to the fact that MP Farooq Abdullah – who has been under detention since August 5, 2019 – has been applying for leaves from the Lower House in order to ostensibly remain arrested.
Abdullah, a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir has been detained since the Centre announced its decision to read down Article 370 in Kashmir. On September 16, he was charged under the Public Safety Act, which allows for detention for up to two years without trial.
During this time, the Lok Sabha has been in session thrice. First, from June 17 to August 6. Then, from November 18 to December 13. And finally, from January 31 to February 11.
Naturally, Abdullah, who is placed under the most stringent of restrictions has not attending the second and third sessions and the final two days of the first sessions.
Rules dictate that members who do not sign the attendance register apply for leave. Which is exactly what the Lok Sabha secretariat claims Abdullah did – so that his arrest could seemingly continue. In a reply which chiefly redirects the journalist who requested for the information to the official Lok Sabha portal of www.loksabha.nic.in, the house also refused to furnish copies of Abdullah’s leave application.
As noted by India Today, the reason cited was: “Since the matter [his application for leave of absence] is under the consideration of the Committee on the Absence of Members from the Sittings of the House, the copy of his leave application cannot be provided to the applicant at this stage.”
The department also evaded the question as to whether the government has informed the Lower House about the reason behind Abdullah’s absence.
The India Today report also notes the news portal’s experience at the official website’s attendance page, to which it was directed by the RTI’s response.
As noted by India Today, the page merely attests to the fact that Abdullah has been ‘absent’ on days it is known he missed parliament on. For the second and third sessions of the 17th Lok Sabha, Abdullah’s attendance sheet says ‘no records found’.
For the first session, in which the Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganisation) Bill, 2019, was moved and passed, Abdullah’s attendance is noted for 27 of the 37 days the parliament was in session.
In addition, India Today notes that there were five MPs in the list of leave applicants whose request has been granted. “Farooq Abdullah’s name is not one of them. One of the names is that of Atul Kumar Singh alias Atul Rai who applied for leave because of his detention in jail,” the news portal says.
In response to their question on how long a member may remain absent from the house, the Lok Sabha secretariat cited the constitution to say:
“If for a period of sixty days a member of either House of Parliament is without permission of the House absent from all meetings thereof, the House may declare his seat vacant. Provided that in computing the said period of sixty days no account shall be taken of any period during which the House is prorogued or is adjourned for more than four consecutive days.”
Abdullah, meanwhile, was named member of the Standing Committee on Railways and Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Defence, in September, 2019. He was then, as he is now, under detention.
His prolonged absence from the parliament is often brought up by opposition during debates.
India’s Union home minister Amit Shah, when the Speaker had been asked as to where Abdullah was in August of 2019, had claimed that he had “neither been detained nor arrested”. He had said Abdullah was at his home by his own will.
Coronavirus scare:Ladakh police registers FIR
Srinagar, Feb 21: Police in Ladakh UT have registered an FIR against persons involved in leaking a letter of Medical Superintendent in which two patients with alleged coronavirus symptoms were discussed.
On Thursday, the letter addressed to CMO office Leh discussing two patients’ admission in ICU isolation and death of another patient who died of similar symptoms went viral on the internet in Kashmir.
The letter created panic and scare among the general public wary about the viral coronavirus that has taken the world, particularly China, by storm.
“Into this effect Case FIR No. 11/2020 U/S 505 (2), 188 IPC has been lodged in Police station Leh, Ladakh and the investigation has been set into motion,” said a police spokesperson.
He added that the search for the person/persons involved in leaking and circulating the letter on social media has been started and they will be brought to book.
“It is also to inform the general public that this police station has contacted the health department Leh from where it has been cleared and confirmed that there is no such Coronavirus like case in SNM Hospital till date, so there is no need to panic,” the spokesperson said.
Cyber Police registers case against online fraudsters for duping a Srinagar woman of Rs 22 lakhs
SRINAGAR: Cyber Police has registered a case against unidentified online fraudsters for extracting Rs 22 lakh from a 35 year old woman after declaring her winner for the lottery she never bought or played.
The case was registered after the woman reported the matter to Cyber Police Station Srinagar.
Police said the complainant had received an email/SMS informing her that she had won a lottery and the prize money will be transferred to her in foreign currency denominations.
Police said she was asked to pay for various charges like registration fee, processing fee, tax etc before the lottery prize money could be transferred .
Unmindful of fraud, the woman transferred of Rs 22 lakhs to various bank accounts. Later her efforts to contact the fraudsters failed as they had either deactivated their numbers or changed their mobiles.
Police said it was then the woman realized that she has been cheated by the online fraudsters and no lottery amount was going to come through. She accordingly approached the Cyber Police Station Kashmir Zone which registered a case under relevant sections of law .
Police later issued an advisory cautioning people against falling into the trap of online fraudsters .
“Victims of such online frauds usually receive emails, SMS and calls from unknown sources whereby they are informed that they have won a lottery worth millions. The victims are trapped in a phased manner and generally made to transfer huge amount on different pretexts ”, said a police spokesman.
Police said the victims generally respond to the spam and end up paying money to unknown persons. “Such crimes are generally carried out from faraway locations using different cyber masks”, he said.