The criminal affinities between Israel & Azerbaijan

Ilham Aliyev & Shinom Peres (Amos Ben Gershom:GPO via Getty Images) Dec 14 2015

In May 2015, the Zionist magazine The Forward published an article entitled “Why Israel’s Alliance With Azerbaijan Is So Shortsighted” by Christopher Atamian. Atamian is an American writer whose grandparents were survivors of the 1915 Armenian genocide. He supports Israel because of what he considers the special affinity of holocaust between Armenians & Jews.

The article discusses Israel’s refusal to take up the whole issue of the 1915 Armenian genocide because after the collapse of the USSR, Azerbaijan conducted an ethnic cleansing campaign against Armenians (in 1991) & will not allow ethnic Armenians to secede & become part of Armenia. In that context he takes up the issue of Israeli military trade with Azerbaijan, including the sale of billions in arms, advanced drones, anti-missile launchers–much of which will be used against Armenians. Israel actually operates a military drone factory in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is run by a hereditary tyrant named Ilham Aliyev who has been in office since 2003 & took over the post from his father Heydar, a KGB operative & the bossman of Soviet Azerbaijan. It’s an extremely corrupt, repressive & brutal regime with notorious violations of human rights.

Since the days of Heydar the Horrible, Azerbaijan has been discreet about its relationship with Israel. In 2009, Ilham Aliyev compared relations with Israel to an iceberg: “nine-tenths submerged.” This is certainly not from reluctance over ethnic cleansing of Palestinians–where the real affinity of the two regimes lies–but to minimize international scrutiny. The economic & political relationship has become wide open since the younger Aliyev took over: he & Shimon Peres frequently pose for photos together. Azerbaijan now supplies 40 percent of Israel’s oil & Israeli weapons account for 43 percent of Azerbaijan’s military budget. Their bilateral trade is estimated at $4 billion a year.

Azerbaijan is an extremely oil-rich country & after the collapse of the USSR, US oil companies swooped down on the regime like vultures. But Azerbaijan’s real political importance is its location with Russia to the north & Iran to the south. In 2012, Iran claimed the Baku regime was collaborating with Mossad to assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists & allowing the spy agency to operate from its soil. The location makes it important not just to Israel but to the US which used its air bases & deployed troops from there in the Iraq War.

For some reason, an Israeli guy named Arye Gut (whose ancestors are Soviet Jews & who promotes himself as an expert on the former Soviet Union) waited several months to reply to the Atamian article. In December, Gut’s article made the rounds of a few far right-wing Zionist publications like Algemeiner, The Times of Israel, & JNS. It was a shameful embarrassing piece of denial turning Azerbaijani ethnic cleansing of Armenians into the opposite: Armenian genocide against Azeri people. Historically, he claimed Azerbaijan was a bastion of harmony & equality for Jews. Baku was a center of the Zionist movement in the 19th century but under Soviet rule, Jews were persecuted just as they were elsewhere in the USSR. What kind of a guy rewrites the history of Jewish persecution to suit the expediences of Israeli foreign policy? That question can only be answered with epithets.

In 2012, the corrupt FIFA organization sponsored soccer games in Baku & in 2015 European Olympic games were held there. It’s the European Union’s way of rendering tyranny respectable. Many performers were invited to entertain at these two events, including Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, & Shakira. Amnesty International made a special appeal to several of them not to perform because of the violent & repressive character of the regime. None of them refused. It is of special interest that Lopez frequently performs for dictators & the others have all refused to honor BDS & have performed in Israel. They must have a special affinity with apartheid & ethnic cleansing.

Photo is Azerbaijani dictator Ilham Aliyev with former Zionist terrorist & architect of apartheid Shimon Peres.

(Photo from Forward)

A little urchin: the future of Palestinian Intifada

Hassan M Shoaap  Child in Palestinian refugee camp 2015

Posting this photo of a little Palestinian boy in a refugee camp for no other reason than I just love it. I don’t love poverty & squalor or dispossession but that children often seem to rise above them–at least in some ways. And of course, that is exactly what Intifada will ask of this little guy.

Human beings are vulnerable; we’re also tough. Those distinctions shouldn’t be imposed on a child.

Honor & build BDS (refuse to buy anything with barcode beginning 729).

(Photo by Mohamed Zarandah)

Another slum fire in Manila, Philippines: neoliberal gentrification

Manila, philippines slum fire (Mark Cristino:EPA) Jan 4 2016

Under neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism, slums are growing by an estimated 6 million people a year due to the expropriation of farmers & rural workers by multinational mining & agribusiness enterprises & by the lack of affordable housing. An estimated one billion people live in them now but that’s probably more a wild guess based on rural migration to cities, only includes illegal shantytowns & excludes the substandard tenements the urban poor have always lived in.

Neoliberal policies incorporate rural areas with huge agribusiness plantations & mining enterprises that lay waste entire ecosystems but also include urban gentrification & development schemes like resorts, swanky shopping malls, golf courses, casinos, IT centers, condominiums, convention halls catering to a well-heeled clientele. The policies dictate that there’s no place for people to live anymore unless they have big bucks.

This process is going on in every city around the world but it’s operating at Mach speed in Manila, Philippines after the supreme court (in obeisance to the IMF) usurped laws governing public property (where most of the slums are built) & declared they wanted the slums cleared by December 2015. That would affect an estimated 23 million slum residents in metropolitan Manila. Resistance to that by slum residents has been so forceful in Manila, that the city finds itself behind schedule–but not for lack of trying.

Every year there have been several slum fires which fire officials–who often show up hours late to the scene–attribute to pirated power, flammable building materials, use of propane for cooking. Fire forensics are seldom reported–actually never reported. Residents most often claim the cause was arson–& with damn good cause. This is all true in slums around the world.

With no provision for affordable alternative housing, residents simply return to their burned out shanties & rebuild–or they go homeless. That’s what’s going on in this photo. On New Year’s Day, there was a fire in the Tondo slum district of Manila & these kids are camping out in their gutted house. Manila has the highest rate of homelessness in the world with an estimated 70,000 children living on the streets & 1.2 million throughout the Philippines.

The reports on the New Year’s Day fire in Tondo–an area with squalid slums targeted for gentrification–are par for the course. What caused it depends entirely on which report you read–three of which cite three different fire marshals at the scene. At least 1,000 shanties burned down. Some reports said cause unknown. Others said it was from a wayward firecracker or a “rocket lit by revelers” which hit an abandoned hut. Some say the cause of the fire is still under investigation–which is where it will remain until hell freezes over.

It makes a good story for fire officials to claim the cause is the fault of residents. It actually sounds quite credible that flammable building materials & propane stoves would cause repeated conflagrations. But it stinks to high hell when they repeatedly occur in areas targeted for expeditious gentrification & development. Residents themselves accuse authorities of arson. If that’s the case, some intrepid reporter or detective should investigate & bring charges for property destruction but most importantly for jeopardizing the lives of thousands of people, including children, elderly, disabled, infirm, & making them homeless.

Housing is a human right.

(Photo by Mark Cristino/EPA)