Asian Rebels in Aleppo, Western Blind Spot

By Christina Lin, Asia Times, February 9, 2016

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Secretary of State John Kerry often refer to rebel jihadi groups in Syria as the “Syrian opposition.”

However, as German intelligence pointed out, over 95% of the fighters in Syria are foreign and not Syrian. Moreover, many are not even Arabs, but increasingly Asian.

European Parliament Recognises ‘Existential Threat’ for Christians in Middle East

New Europe, February 3, 2016

The European Parliament adopted a report on February 1 that denounces the suffering of Christians under “Islamic radicalism”. The document makes explicit reference to “Christian communities in many parts of the world which are under existential threat from extremists and persecuted, tortured or killed on a regular basis solely because of their faith”.

The document also refers to the “persecution, especially of Christian communities in the Middle East as a consequence of Islamic radicalism and jihad”.

A New Deal for Europe

An Article by Thomas Piketty published by The New York Review of Books, February 25, 2016 Issue

The far right has surged in just a few years from 15 percent to 30 percent of the vote in France, and now has the support of up to 40 percent in a number of districts. Many factors conspired to produce this result: rising unemployment and xenophobia, a deep disappointment over the left’s record in running the government, the feeling that we’ve tried everything and it’s time to experiment with something new. These are the consequences of the disastrous handling of the financial meltdown that began in the United States in 2008, a meltdown that we in Europe transformed by our own actions into a lasting European crisis. The blame for that belongs to institutions and policies that proved wholly inadequate, particularly in the eurozone, consisting of nineteen countries. We have a single currency with nineteen different public debts, nineteen interest rates upon which the financial markets are completely free to speculate, nineteen corporate tax rates in unbridled competition with one another, without a common social safety net or shared educational standards—this cannot possibly work, and never will.

Tehran Prioritizes Developing Ties with Moscow

Sputnik, February 3, 2016

Iranian Ambassador to Russia said that developing close relations with Russia remains a priority for Iran.

Developing close relations with Russia remains a foreign policy priority for Iran, Iranian Ambassador to Russia Mehdi Sanaei said on Wednesday.

ISIS and the Reversible Stages of Revolt

By Paul Pillar, The National Interest, January 20, 2016

Large-scale armed insurrection tends to move through identifiable phases that correspond roughly to what Mao Zedong described many years ago. In Mao's formulation, the first of three phases emphasizes organization, propaganda, and the establishment of cadres and a presence in the areas in which the revolutionary movement intends to operate. The second phase is more violent and typically includes operations we would describe as terrorist attacks, as well as larger scale guerrilla warfare. The purposes of this phase include demonstrating the strength and vitality of the movement and eroding the will and resources of the adversary. The third phase includes a transition to conventional military operations, on a big enough scale to sweep to a final victory. This sequence tracks the history of the Chinese Communist Party's road to power and, in modified form, the strategy and trajectory of some other movements such as the Viet Minh.

Such strategies do not always succeed.

More Than One Million March on Rome for ‘Family Day’ to Protest Gay Unions Bill

Breitbart, January 30, 2016

Caravans of coach buses carrying families from all over Italy streamed into Rome Saturday, meeting in the enormous Circus Maximus. It was a gathering in support of the traditional family, in opposition to a new bill aimed at giving legal recognition to homosexual unions and adoption by same-sex couples.

Over one million people filled to overflowing the biggest sports arena ever built to demonstrate their disapproval of the Cirinnà bill on civil unions and voice their belief that children have a right to a mother and a father.

Global Coloniality and the World Disorder

Decoloniality after Decolonization and Dewesternization after the Cold War

A Paper by Walter D. Mignolo, William H. Wannamaker Professor, Center for Global Studies and the Humanities, Duke University, prepared for the 13th Rhodes Forum

On Decolonial Politics

We have been invited to the Plenary Panel of the World Public Forum to address a set of fundamental questions:

-    What are the reasons or underlying causes of the prevailing chaos in today world disorder? What are the main contributing factors, and what are the major social or political agents contributing to the disorder?

-    How can we overcome the present disorder? Are there alternatives to the present chaos? How can we find pathways pointing in the direction of a more just and sustainable world order?

I would argue that the underlying causes of the prevailing chaos are, on the one hand, the persistence of global coloniality and, on the other, the fact that since approximately the year 2000 we have been witnessing the economic and political reemergence of cultures and civilizations that have historically been undermined by global coloniality.

The preface is organized into four main parts. In Part I, I outline what I mean by “global coloniality”. In Part II, I explain how global coloniality has been challenged in recent years by a shift towards “dewesternization”, led mainly by Russia and China, and how the West has responded with a violent effort to reassert itself. In Part III, I consider possible pathways toward a more livable world order within the current clash between dewesternization and rewesternization. In Part IV, I discuss the importance of the decolonial project within this search for more just and sustainable ways of being in the world.

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Raffaele Marchetti on Pope Francis, Middle East and Iran

On the eve of Hassan Rouhani visit to Vatican Raffaele Marchetti, professor of international relations at Luiss University, said to The Independent that Pope Francis recognized that bringing Tehran in from the cold was key to resolving conflicts in the Middle East.

He said the Vatican’s concerns centered on violence against Christians, the central role of Jerusalem, and the nearness of the Middle East to Rome. “I think he will succeed in becoming an important mediator between Western powers and Tehran,” he said. “The Vatican is determined to help relations between Tehran and Sunni Islam, even if bringing change to Saudi Arabia will be more difficult.”

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