Dani al-Armani


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This image really captures my identity.

I do think it visually symbolizes who I am – half Armenian half Arab – Syrian.

My heritage includes Palestinian, Italian too. Perhaps there is more European blood from my father’s side – but nonetheless, that side of my family is vehemently Armenian. About as homogeneously Armenian as the ethnic group itself.

Culturally we are influenced by Christianity, Philosophy, Secularism, Gnosticism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Islam.

One day I hope to visit Yerevan, my original home. Perhaps then I can built a modest home with my family, and create hip-hop, musical masterpieces eternally from there!

God bless Armenia and my people. I only pray we can one day meet again. I also pray you may understand my struggles, and how being half Muslim, ostracized me even further from my Armenian roots. But the truth is that the genocide produced this reality.

Still deep in my heart I know Armenians have no qualm with Islam.

There are extremes everywhere, but for the vast majority, there is harmony. Remember, in its conflict against Azerbaijan, a Shia muslim country, Iran, the world’s biggest Shia muslim country, stands with Armenia, a Christian nation, out of principle.

Furthermore, Armenians have no qualms with Islam or Turks – rather they wish for historical atrocities and political justices to be recognized and initiated. Was this not healthier for Germany in the long run?

I do love my Syrian-Arab heritage too, equally. That is precisely why this picture evokes my emotions so well. I believe in tenants of Islam too; as well as the narrative. I do believe in many cases though, like all religions, it has been distorted.

Perhaps one day we shall all meet and I may share my unique, perhaps twisted, conception of religion which has become my faith, thanks to my Syrian mother, and Syrian-Armenian father. I dedicate this to them, my grandfather Yervant, the bright and shining genius of our family whom I look up to and aspire to be like. I also dedicate this to the fallen souls of the Armenian Genocide who shall never be forgotten, ever. Finally, I dedicate this to my other home, Syria, which is in utter catastrophe and destruction. God be with you all.

With love,

the son of KRIKOR & al Ghaib,

Dani al-Armani.

In America, they call me Danny K!

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Turkey – Clarity Amidst Confusion


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It is really hard to get a grip of what is really happening in Turkey.

Media outlets are misleading as usual.

Political interests are at stake and biases are rampant.

It appears Erdogan has retaken power, resisted the coup, and is now in the process of an apparent legal prosecution against all involved.

This is where things are getting murky.

Erdogan hasn’t played the most loyal role as president, often shifting back and forth between extreme left and right politics. This inconsistency is symbolic of Turkey’s state of volatility and instability in the past two decades.

There is much that modern media consumers do not know about international politics. Turkey has endured nearly five coup d’etats in its history. This is the 6th.

What people don’t understand is that democracy can be bought, financially or ideologically, or both. That does not mean that democracy is bad, but that it can be easily infiltrated and exploited to destabilize and cause disorder.

There are many narratives.

Which one is actually feasible and most likely?

Remember that America is the world’s sole superpower, and that it dictates most of what happens internationally. This coup might have been instigated by the US as a result of Erdogan’s policies particularly towards Syria. Anytime a leader of a non-western country becomes influential, he is a perceived threat to the US, even if he has for the most part fallen in line with their demands. Remember Saddam Hussein was initially an American ally against radicalism. But why would America see Erdogan as a threat if he has been, for the most part, enabling the NATO agenda of supplying the Syrian insurgency?

There is a vast difference between rhetoric and reality.

America is playing the game of destabilization once again, but did Erdogan’s team just resist? The irony is that just weeks ago Erdogan had reversed foreign policy and initiated a rapprochement with Russia and Israel, a huge statement to the international community.

When Erdogan first became president he was hailed as the new face of Islamic dignity. At least, that was my interpretation.

He defied Israel with the Gaza flotilla. He embarrassed Simon Perez live on television in the name of Palestinian rights. He bolstered Turkey as a democratic, modern, Islamic nation. He further secured Turkey’s potential integration into the E.U.

What went wrong?

The Syrian conflict created a disaster. A refugee crisis, increased security threat, ideological fundamentalism & terrorism. Providing weaponry to the insurgency and mobility intensified the ripple effects.

Meanwhile, Erdogan was becoming increasingly authoritarian domestically, contrary to his democratic foundations. Aside from the right-wing populist rhetoric, Erdogan began initiating limits on women’s rights & press freedom, two bedrocks of democracy, but perhaps more importantly, two bedrocks of Turkish cultural history.

Naivety cannot be afforded in politics, and perhaps Erdogan was naive to Western interests. Neither democracy nor stability are the West’s priorities, but rather control.

That is why it must be understood that democracy or not, no country can be truly free or stable without respecting its sovereignty.

At this point, we may never know the actual perpetrators, and we will be confused by political rhetoric and unsubstantial media coverage.

What we can know is that even democracies have the potential to violate rights.

There are several possible outcomes depending on who is responsible. I believe Erdogan’s Turkey possesses the power to make serious challenges to Western assertiveness in the region. So far he has expressed willingness to cooperate, up until the recent rapprochement with Russia and Israel.

The most crucial variable in this “coup d’etat attempt” is the “Syrian Crisis”.

Turkey is headed in the opposite direction of NATO.

I think this Turkish crisis gives us the perfect opportunity to address a commonly oversimplified term: “democracy”.

We tend to view things as “democratic or not”, when in reality, democracy is a measure itself, of the ability of a nation to uphold certain principles. Since those principles are hotly debated, it becomes difficult to categorize things as “democratic or not”.

This Turkish crisis is symbolic of the fact that there is a real tension over the definition of “democracy”. Oversimplified understandings will highlight obvious components of democracy like free speech, free elections, term limits – but what about social liberalism, like the freedom of social expression, or, on the other hand, political stability and human security. From this perspective, if we look at the world’s countries, we must gauge the overall relationship between leader and people. This relationship shows how “democratic” a country is. It cannot be understood as solely popular support, because in some cases, more than not, populism leads to immoral decisions, domestically and internationally, like “Brexit” in the UK or the rise of Donald Trump in the US. We cannot accept

Some kings are good. Some are bad.

Some elected officials are good. Some are bad.

The problem is that, elections were largely seen as a check on absolute power.

But what if a democrat becomes an autocrat through authoritarian policies and populist appeals?

What is this begins to compromise democratic ideals themselves? Do executive term limits themselves guarantee democracy, or are other components, like free speech, equally important?

If we analyze the world from this angle, we begin to see that, in some cases, the democracy has let to good results; in other bad ones. But to expect that any one country in the world is more democratic than another, we have to analyze it comparatively from all the variables, not just one. Furthermore we cannot measure good or bad based on a twisted conception of democracy or on a prejudiced or predisposed political opinion.

It was likely that Turkey’s attempted coup was a “check” on Erdogan. If he drifts towards a less expansive, and security-driven policy initiative

Could that have been the spark?

All these inconsistencies further blurs the picture.

Why were police officers arresting military personnel? Aren’t the latter more powerful?

If Fethullah, the supposed engineer of the coup according to Erdogan, is in America, how could he have ushered the coup if the US administration stood on the side of Erdogan?

Was this coup staged by the government to bolster fledgling support for Erdogan?

Seeing as how Erdogan is now appealing to post-Syrian Crisis enemies, like Russia for reconciliation, it might be that this coup was a Western backed attempt at a regime-change. Seeing that Turkey’s military has never successfully failed in ushering a coup, this narrative makes sense.

For the sake of democracy this is not good, as dissidents face an increasing and brutal crackdown. Turkey has not been consistent, and this crisis is a product of that position. It has essential played the position of the “rope” in a long tug-o-war between East and West. For the past few centuries, the West tugged harder. Now it seems, they’ve let loose on their grip, and Turkey appears destined towards an alignment with the East.

What does this mean for America and Europe’s interests in the Middle East, Israel and Saudi (the Gulf entirely)?

Another question that comes to mind – where do the millions of democracy advocates who stood with Erdogan stand now, considering his rapprochement with Russia? Many Erdogan supporters supported his stance against President Assad in Syria.

This is where things get murkier.

Erdogan was initially reconciliatory with Assad. Why the sudden shift, particularly given the “Kurdish threat” and rising instability? Erdogan sent a message of defiance to Israel with his Gaza flotilla charade, but then quickly announced reconciliation. How does this make him look? Who really is Erdogan serving – Turkey or himself?

Another possibility is that Erdogan has awoken from his pro-American slumber of naivety. Once again, the Muslim world fell prey to American double-dealing and mischief. If this is the likely scenario, expect the unexpected – an Erdogan-led drift away from democracy in Turkey.

What are the most important elements of democracy? Popular opinion or social equality? If popular opinion advocates for racism, like in Nazi Germany, should the state reject it? These questions are even being asked in America, where right-wing populism also threatens democratic rule – somehow democratically. Are there flaws in the democratic system which are inherent or can they be fixed through greater laws limiting financial influence, media coverage and xenophobic propaganda?

Populism is threatening democracy which suggests that popular sovereignty isn’t the only variable for democracy – there are many. And one of these becomes threatened, it appears none of them will be possible. Erdogan, a democratically elected leader, began trampling on democratic rights, and thus the military, which historically overthrows leaders who drift to far in either direction on the political spectrum, stepped in though without success – also unprecedented.

Whether or not popular rule triumphs in Turkey is less worrying than the potential compromise of Turkey’s traditional culture of tolerance, diversity and secularism. This is being threatened by the extreme right-wing populist appeals of ruling party. In this regard, Erdogan is bad for Turkey. Will he rollback these efforts too as part of his readjustment initiative? It doesn’t appear that Erdogan’s reconciliatory tone towards Russia or even Israel is genuine, since it has been inconsistent. There is reason to believe that such behavior is an act of desperation – a sign of his impending failure.

In order for global stability, peace and prosperity to ensue, the following must happen – led by the only world superpower – the US:

America as a whole must pivot from its half-century long trend of foreign interventionism; replace it with respect for sovereignty; a rejection of populism and neoliberalism/neoconservatism or simply put – neo-imperialism; recognition of cultural distinctions; and a promotion of cooperative political, economic and social relations.

This might have to see the UN become the global spectator; with the US leading the free world; and cooperating with other global and regional powers to ensure prosperity, stability and peace.

Who is responsible for Istanbul attack?


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On June 28th, a group of suicide bombers conducted an attack on Turkey’s Istanbul Ataturk Airport, killing 41 people and injuring 239. As the world mourns the tragedy, investigators seek to bring justice to the perpetrators. But who is responsible? And Why?

Is it Daesh (ISIS)?

Is it PKK?

These are both valid suggestions, based on the history of violence among both groups.

Based on the PKK’s terrorism tactic, the attack in Istanbul does not necessarily fit their profile. According to news sources, though unconfirmed, the PKK usually target Turkish nationals. The conflict between the PKK and the Turkish government surrounds the Kurdish question of identity and statehood in the Middle East. The Kurds have been without an autonomous country and do not enjoy equal rights in Turkey. Iraqi Kurdistan is the only region where Kurds enjoy a degree of nationalism but it is far from being a nation-state.

Why would Daesh or ISIS commit the attacks?

Turkey has been supporting the armed insurgency against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad since its inception. The majority of Daesh or ISIS fighters are not Syrian but foreign nationals, from Turkey, the Arabian peninsula, North Africa and Central Asia, which raises the question as to whether this a so-called civil war between state and opposition or an international conflict between states. Is Syria a proxy conflict waged between global powers? Is this the continuation of the so-called “Great Game”?

If Turkey has stood against the Syrian government, thereby granting ISIS leverage directly or indirectly, then why would such an attack take place?

Since the emergence of ISIS, and the corresponding terrorist attacks globally which have victimized France, America and Turkey to name just a few, the political dynamic of the Syrian conflict has shifted. The ouster of Assad, like that of Mubarak, Morsi, Ben Ali, Abdullah Saleh, Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi, was originally argued as the procurement of stability and justice in the Middle East. The outcomes have proven otherwise. The tyrannical leadership of these autocrats is undoubtable, but is there another force enabling this instability to begin with?

As a result of ISIS’ apparent indiscriminate violence, fundamentalism and fickleness, Turkey has, like the US, altered its position internationally. Just last week, Turkey announced reconciliation efforts with its historical arch-rivals, Israel and Russia. Russia has arguably maintained the Syrian government since its intervention.

Could this rapprochement have provoked backlash from ISIS against Turkey? Were these two gestures of international rapprochements with ISIS’ nemeses, Israel & Russia viewed as a form of betrayal by the terror group?

As investigations continue, emerging facts will likely give this blurry picture some lucidity.

But a shifting world order is evidentially not as far off as one might have expected, particularly after England’s vote to leave the EU.

As the migrant crisis continues, and Middle Eastern instability intensifies, one might ask why foreign powers have prioritized their ambitions over practical politics.

One cannot speak of justice in the Middle East while neglecting the bedrock of human security – sovereignty.

Until this is realized, fanaticism and instability will continue to overshadow justice in the Middle East.

 

 

The Fate of Terror – What We Can Learn From Brussels, Ankara, Paris & Beirut


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The only question that should be raised in response to the Brussels attack – why is this happening?

If you think the answer can be reduced to Islamic extremism or a clash of civilizations – you are ignoring the reality that much of the extremism which encourages violent terrorism in the Middle East emanates from countries that are closest to the US – Saudi Arabia. Not to mention, ISIS, which has claimed responsibility, is made up of primarily foreign fighters and funded by the Gulf states.

Also, the existence of ISIS, like al Qaeda is a product of western support for these types of groups. Regime change, as the US has pressured, has caused the sort of imbalance in the ME that allows for increased terrorism at home and abroad.

Islamists have been largely propped up by democracies in order to justify foreign invasions and regime change – only where it is convenient.

The notion that Islam is more prone to violence is incorrect. Furthermore we have to differentiate between terrorist groups who seek to confuse the public and cause political upheaval, and militias, like Hezbollah, which seek to confront nation-states like Israel militarily, instead of arbitrary attacks and an “Islamic” agenda. Islamists focus on theocracy where as Muslim militias aren’t necessarily – they simply seek the sovereignty of their land.

Until Western countries stop double-dealing with terrorists in order to justify foreign escapades; until countries like Saudi Arabia are isolated; we will continue to witness terrorist attacks like those in Brussels, Ankara, Istanbul, Beirut & Paris.

We must learn to separate the nationalist, and rather secular conflicts between the Arab-Palestinian & Israel factions from the ideological war being waged both by extremist networks of violent persuasions (al Qaeda; ISIS) which pollute the discourse with extreme religious rhetoric. National sovereignty, human rights and self-determination supersede regime-type. Until this is realized, conflict will ensue in the Middle East; and violence will be exported. If the US & its cohorts continue foreign campaigns aimed at forcing regime-change under the premise of “democratization”, there is more reason to believe that balancing could occur. But as the Obama Doctrine has demonstrated, this hasn’t been entirely the course or agenda of the US – in fact, since the Bush Administration, it seems the US has been pursuing a less “hawkish” course.

The US must realize that its cozy relationship with Israel & Saudi Arabia are the primary stimulators of global terrorism. It fuels fanaticism; directly through Saudi Arabia; indirectly through occupation & socio-economic paralysis. If the US wishes to maintain the role of global hegemony & leader, it is not a matter of “morality” but of “rationality” that the US separates itself from the co-dependent relationship it has established with these two religiously charged nation-states.

 

 

The Armenian Genocide [ The Hidden Holocaust ] 1992 Documentary


Democracy?


Marble statue of  the ancient greek philosopher Plato. Image shot 03/2009. Exact date unknown.

As a deist who recognizes the existence of an eternal Supreme deity, I take issue with the reality that much spirituality and religion is held hostage to the dogmas of compulsion, strict adherence & fanaticism. While not all religions espouse this, as an Arab-Armenian, I am forced to witness the consequences of religious fanaticism everyday.

The so-called ‘Arab Spring’ which was apparently intended to usher in democracy into the Middle East proved to produce negative results. In Egypt the fanaticism of the Muslim Brotherhood took hold. The majority in this case was not tolerant of social liberalism and therein caused a religious mess. A military coup followed resulting in the restoration of the non-democratic tradition of Middle Eastern political culture.

But to suggest that democracy is a perfect concept is not only irrational — it is by definition, un-American. In today’s world, the so-called global police of all democracies, isn’t even, by definition, a democracy. America is a federal republic. The founding fathers often held democracy in disdain because it allowed for the possibility of instability.

The idea that democracy is an end would suggest that it is universal, absolute & self-sufficient. But just as China’s shift from robust communism to mixed economics proved the inefficiency & inhumane nature of adherence to absolute communism, so to has the US, since FDR really, drifted further away from robust democratic-capitalism to leftist-inspired mixed economics. Never has the US, or any major western hegemony for that matter, exhibited a state of pure democracy, precisely because of the power and influence of religious fundamentalism on the political process and on society altogether.

Is Democracy just?

It is rationalism which manifested the philosophy of democracy, the idea that the majority should rule and that order would ensue. But choice is an enigma, as is human nature, and reducing humanity to statistics results in collective totalitarianism. Who is to say that the majority of human beings would choose what is right or moral? The assumption that numbers do the talking may work for basic creatures of animalistic instinct but the complexity of human nature requires that we consider the possibility that individual rights, self-reliance, experience & self-determination are often compromised by democracy and ensuing collective ideological movements.

Are there limits to how much democracy should be exhibited?

If the majority of a country consistently elects leaders who legislate unjust policies, doesn’t this suggest a flaw in relying strictly on majoritarian politics? Is majoritarian democracy the problem? Switzerland exhibits what is called proportional-representation; that way minority groups aren’t disenfranchised from the conversation of representation. In the US however it seems democracy has been a tool in rallying support for non-democratic policies, from tax breaks for the 1% to full-fledged arbitrary invasions of foreign countries.

What is holding America hostage is the elitist mentality of the 1%. But does democracy encourage this? The free market exists, but is it stifled by elitism & industrial monopoly?

There is an association between free markets and democracy, what we call here in the West, democratic-capitalism. How much do these values really ensure individual & collective rights?

Realistically I would argue that every nation will realize its need for mixed economics in order for survival. Empires which have relied on dogmatic-ideologies have eventually run themselves dry, from ancient pagan empires to modern twentieth-century totalitarianism.

So perhaps the problem in the international community is not the absence of democracy or republicanism but rather an absence of ‘moderate’ forces which do not threaten national sovereignty and do not enable colonialism.

The Democratic Index of 2012 compiled by the Economic Intelligence Unit lists the US 21st on the list. Israel, supposedly the Middle East’s only democracy, is not included. This isn’t to suggest that these countries are not democracies, but rather, that the level of democratic rights which are instituted are relatively low compared to the ideal of democratic representation.

Poverty and ego are the main causes of ideological fundamentalism. The solution to the Middle East is not democracy. It is the opposite. It is the end of foreign dogma in the region. Neither democracy, capitalism, communism or Islam are going to solve the socio-economic crises of the Middle East; and in reality, the push for democracy by the West during the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ had neither democratic values nor the interests of the Middle Eastern people in mind, but rather, another pseudo-revolution aimed at distracting the world from the behind-the-scenes oil-for-weapons trades going on.

Measuring a country’s morality or integrity based on its level of democracy is one thing; but to suggest that a country IS NOT A DEMOCRACY, is foolish — because no country ever has or currently exhibits pure democracy. The idea that the majority is infallible is foolish and arrogant. Furthermore, the idea that West understands more than the East what constitutes an acceptable level of democracy is self-righteous and hypocritical, given statistical data from the Economic Intelligence Unit which suggests that democratic values are not upheld completely by any western hegemony.

That brings me to Israel. It was, on the contrary, included on the list of flawed democracies, with India, Brazil, Russia & Argentina beside it.

Israel claims to be “A” democracy. It couldn’t be further from the truth on two notes: firstly, that no country has ever exhibited absolute democracy; and secondly, in that it is a ethno-religious entity…by nature it cannot be egalitarian. Furthermore, Israel represents a minority in the Middle East. Still, it maintains close ties with dictatorial regimes in order to ensure its control over the media, because facts are on the side of the Arabs, which show that the Arab & Muslim world are completely disenfranchised from the conversation of justice and values of democracy. Israel is not infallible; it is not secular; it is not egalitarian; and it is essentially a product of classic gerrymandering. Israel, like the Republican Party in the US, is perpetually in a race against time, desperate for occupation, constantly propagating dogma & hypocrisy.

The self-righteous attitudes of Republicans, pro-Israelis & neo-conservatives only exposes their hypocrisy. They rely on forces of religious fundamentalism, usury & imperialism in order to protect themselves from criticism and being brought to justice.

Whether democracy is the moral or best form of government, I cannot say for sure. I will say however, that if by democracy we mean the assurance of human rights, I am not exactly sure how well the US fares in that regard; neither the US, nor any of its supposedly democratic allies.

I recently came across a comment by a pro-Israeli which read that Palestine was a roman creation. So too, was Israel. The idea that the Roman Empire & the Jewish Kingdom were never in agreement is at odds with history. Furthermore, was it not the pagan emperor Darius & the following Persian emperors who helped rebuild the Second Temple? The ties between Israel, imperialism & global empires goes back quite far. Today, instead of Rome we’ve got the UK & the US. Quite appropriate, given the greco-roman cultural foundations of both societies. Perhaps this is what Nietzsche was referring to when he mentioned the political order of the Judeo-Christian monopolization of monotheism & socio-economics. Before we deem critics of western society as atheists or fanatics, let us apply the same criticalness to ourselves. How moral are we, really, America?

Communism, fascism, democracy, republicanism, ultra-nationalism, theocracy all serve the agenda of Imperialism and work coercively against national sovereignty and human rights. An article recently published by Business Insider received insight on Middle East politics through the eyes of an Arab billionaire who requested that his identity remain anonymous to protect his name and family from danger. In the article, he made many interesting points, one of which caught my eye the most. The following is a quote from the article:

Israel doesn’t want peace because Russian immigrants have taken over its political system and moved it rightward.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/an-interview-with-an-arab-billionaire-2015-2#ixzz3RxpZsE00

This shows the close association between the state of Israel and imperialism. The vast immigration of Russian jews to the Middle East largely makes up the majority of Israel’s population. Imperialism & elitism have a longstanding tradition in Russian history. It was the Bolshevik communist revolution which brought the tradition to a sudden halt, thereby pinning Russia and the USSR against the West in a global conflict for the balance of power in a bi-polar stand-off called the Cold War, which lasted nearly half a century. Israel was largely the product of an agreement between various imperial forces. The Bolshevik revolution, like the Nazi movement, appeared to have been anti-semitic and violently hostile to Judaism on the surface; but in reality, both of these forces served as catalysts for the creation of Israel in 1948.

The point here is that Israel’s history and its policies are reflective of its practically absent democratic attributes. In the 21st century it is looking more and more like the apartheid regime which ruled South Africa from 1948 (the irony) till the end of the millennium.

The engine of industrialization and capitalism is often understood as freedom and individual innovation, but never as a product of government nepotism and imperial exploitation versus genuine free trade. Israel & Saudi Arabia are products of this reality. It is not the free-market culture but rather the culture of American Exceptionalism which has contributed to the successes of Zionism & global imperialism.

I would argue that free-markets and capitalism are completely different and in fact mutually antithetical. Capitalism is an attitude of supremacy, where as free markets are a philosophy of openness, self-reliance and innovation. Capitalism requires forced labor, slavery, ownership of natural resources, and enables oligarchy. Imperialism is an extension of capitalism, both of which are rooted deeply in white supremacy, orientalism and colonial exploitation.

The reveals the culpability of Israel and western neo-cons in the occupation of palestine and the propagation of nazi-esque white supremacy. It is this culture of racism which is responsible for the trans-atlantic slave system which practically built the United States. It is this culture of racism which enslaved South Africa, and continues to oppress Palestinians. It is this racism which ethnically cleansed the Armenians in a still unrecognized genocide by the Turkish government in the early twentieth century, paving the way for future genocides to be unheard of.