MESOPOTAMIA NEWS KURDISTAN :  PKK claims suicide attack on gas pipeline, killing 30 Turkish soldiers

3 APRIL  2020 – MESOP NEWS – A 25 year-old Kurdish female PKK fighter Sema Kocer killed in a suicide attack on a gas pipeline in Agri province in Turkish Kurdistan near the Iran-Turkey border on March 31, 2020.

DIYARBAKIR-AMED, Turkey Kurdistan,— At least 30 Turkish soldiers were killed when a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighter launched a suicide attack on a pipeline in Agri province in Turkish Kurdistan near the Iran-Turkey border on Tuesday, the group claimed in a statement.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : ERDOGAN IN LIBYA = NO MONEY – NO FUNNY!

Syrian mercenaries want to leave Libya, accuse Turkey of breaking promises

By News Desk ALMASDAR NEWS –  BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:45 A.M.) – The Syrian mercenaries in Libya are not happy about the current situation inside the country, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Monday.Citing opposition sources, the monitor said that there is widespread discontent among the Syrian mercenaries that were sent to Libya from Turkey.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : ERDOGAN MEETS KEYNES / HELICOPTER MONEY- Turks demand ‘helicopter money’ as coronavirus crisis worsens

READ IN:    Türkçe  Mustafa Sonmez March 30, 2020  – AL MONITOR – Article Summary

Turkey’s government faces growing pressure for direct cash injections to support the vulnerable masses as the coronavirus outbreak threatens grave fallout for the already ailing Turkish economy. The mounting coronavirus outbreak in Turkey has caught the government in a feeble financial state, leaving millions at grave economic risk. While many governments have opted for direct cash payments to cushion the economic shock of the pandemic, Ankara has delivered little in this respect, having run out of financial resources since a currency crisis in 2018. Pressure is building up on the government to deliver more to the vulnerable masses as experts warn the country has reached a make-or-break point in containing the fast-spreading contagion.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : Pressures, Attacks, and Discrimination Against Christians in Turkey

By Uzay Bulut GATESTONE INSTITUTE  –  2020-03-29 18:16 GMT

Turkey’s Association of Protestant Churches has released its 2019 “Human Rights Violations Report” detailing the state of religious freedom in the country.

The report sheds light on problems Protestant Christians faced in Turkey in 2019. These included barring foreign Protestants from entering Turkey for no other reason than their faith, as well as the inability of Christians to train their own religious workers.

One major difficulty for Protestant Christians in Turkey is that the Protestant community is not recognized as a legal entity.

According to the report, the Protestant community has mostly tried to solve this problem by establishing associations or becoming a representative of an already existing association. Associations and foundations, however, are not accepted as a “church” or a “place of worship.” The Protestants, therefore, cannot benefit from the advantages given to officially recognized places of worship. When Protestants introduce themselves to the authorities as a church, they receive warnings that they are not legal and may be closed down. On March 21, in Bolu, for example, a house church used by Iranian refugees was sealed off by the Bolu Governorate.

The laws in Turkey also do not allow training religious leaders or opening religious schools for the Protestant community. The Protestants were solving this problem by providing training apprentices, giving seminars within Turkey, sending students abroad or using support from a foreign clergy. In 2019, however, many members of the foreign clergy, as well as church members, were deported, refused residence permits or denied entry visas into Turkey — as in previous years.

In addition, the report disclosed, at least 35 foreign Protestants — including Americans, British, and Germans — were barred from entering Turkey. When family members were counted, more than 100 people have been affected by these bans. The report continued:

“These people have been resident in our country for many years, live here with their families, many have made investments in our country and sent their children to school, and all of them have no criminal record at all. This situation represents a major humanitarian problem. These entry bans, imposed with no forewarnings, destroy the unity of the family and create chaos for all members of the individual’s family.”In court cases opened to challenge this situation, the authorities have claimed that these people are pursuing activities to the detriment of Turkey, have taken part in missionary activities and that some of them had attended the annual Family Conference which we have held for twenty years.”

In 2019, Christians across Turkey were exposed to hate crimes and hate speech, as well as to verbal and physical attacks. Examples include:

  • On February 13, a sign erected by the Istanbul Cankurtaran Church Association was dismantled by the Üsküdar Municipality without the knowledge of the Church authorities, on the grounds that it was too large, attracted notice and made those who passed by on the street uncomfortable when seeing it.
  • On July 14, in the Izmit province, two people broke a crucifix necklace worn by a young Christian. After swearing, insulting and slapping the Christian, the perpetrators ran off.
  • On July 19, a local court in Malatya ruled that the Malatya Governor and the Ministry of the Interior were not at fault in the April 18, 2007 murder of three Protestant Christians because of their faith, and that therefore the compensation paid to the victims’ families had to be repaid to the government, along with the interest.
  • On September 6, in the Akçaabat district of Trabzon province, the fronts of several buildings built for tourists were demolished as a result of complaints that their design resembled a cross.
  • On November 19, in Diyarbakır, a South Korean citizen and Protestant Christian, Jinwook Kim, died from wounds sustained in a knife attack. Kim, a volunteer in the church, had lived in Diyarbakır for six months and had a pregnant wife.
  • Members of the Protestant community became more reluctant to complain to the security forces or report incidents due to hate-speech and the perpetrators going unpunished, and also due to being unable to get satisfactory results from investigations by authorities, and the perpetrators usually remaining unidentified.
  • During the 2019 Christmas and New Year season, various anti-Christmas and anti-New Year campaigns took place throughout Turkey. Hostile posters were hung on the streets, brochures were distributed, social media campaigns were conducted, and news was published in print and on social media. The participation in these campaigns by various public institutions created an intense atmosphere of hate. In particular, there was a significant increase in abusive and insulting comments from users of social media and newspaper websites towards Christianity and Christians.

In a photo widely shared on social media, as just one example, a bearded Muslim man punches Santa Claus. The photo was also posted in an article, “Why should the New Year not be celebrated?”, and published on the news website “Haber Vakti”.

Other widespread anti-Christmas messages and posters in print and social media during the New Year’s celebrations, included posters that portray Santa Claus as a monster or evil. Messages on posters also included:

  • December 31 is not Christmas. It marks the conquest of Mecca. “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.”- The Prophet Mohammed.
  • There is a rush for Christmas everywhere. The Pope might make an announcement any time and say: “We will not celebrate Christmas in order not to look like Muslims”.
  • We do not celebrate Christmas. “Avoid celebrating the festivals of the enemies of Allah.” – Caliph Omar
  • What happens if a Muslim celebrates the New Year (Christmas)? Our Prophet gives the answer: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” If a Christian celebrates the Ramadan festival or the beginning of the Mohammedan calendar, it means that they have become Muslim and entered Islam.
  • In a poster Santa Claus holds a sign, asking: “Isn’t it a huge sin according to your religion to celebrate our festivals? Don’t you have a brain at all?”
  • We are the ummah [nation] of Muhammad, who brought us Salah (Islamic daily prayers) from Miraj [Mohammed’s alleged ascent into the heavens around the year 621], and not the nation of Santa Claus that brings gifts on the New Year.
  • Will we continue sacrificing our Islamic civilization for Western customs like the New Year?
  • Hey Muslim! Just sleep on New Year’s night.
  • We are not celebrating the New Year because we are Muslim.
  • New Year celebrations are an invitation to sins.
  • I celebrate his New Year and then kick Santa Claus.

Such posters were not only published on social media; on January 1, an Islamist group distributed anti-Christmas leaflets to passers-by in the Galata neighborhood of Istanbul.

In the meantime, Christians in Turkey still face serious pressures, attacks and bans when they attempt to share their faith.

On November 10, a stand in front of the Malatya Church that contained the New Testament and other Christian books was overturned by youths; the Bibles and books were thrown in the trash. The youths left a threatening note saying that such publications should be removed or the books would be burned.

The Antalya Bible Church’s official request in December to open a stand in a public area for Christmas was also rejected despite their often having opened a stand there. Over the last three years, the authorities have refused permission, giving “security/terrorism” as a reason. This year, the reason given for refusal was an over-concentration of tourists in the area, according to the report.

Some textbooks also target Christian communities. “Missionary Activity” continues to be a heading under the section related to “National Threats” in the eighth grade elementary school textbook entitled, Revolutionary History and Kemalism. This teaching continues to be referenced in supplementary textbooks and tests related to missionary activity being considered a “national threat”.

In 21st century Turkey, whose constitution asserts that the state is officially “secular”, Christians continue losing their jobs for their faith.

In the province of Aydın, for example, a Christian teacher was removed from her post because her faith was reported in the media, and news outlets claimed that the teacher had been involved in missionary activities. Despite a petition signed by the students and colleagues of the teacher declaring that nothing of this sort had taken place, an official investigation into the teacher was carried out and she was removed from her post. At the time the report was written, the teacher was transferred to a different school in Izmir. The result of the official investigation, however, is as yet unknown.

Two Protestant Christians who worked as civil servants also had their employment terminated — one from the State Theater in Ankara, and the other from the State Opera and Ballet in Antalya — although there were no negative allegations made about them.

Claire Evans, Regional Manager for the Middle East of International Christian Concern (ICC), told Gatestone:

“The New Testament church was born in Asia Minor, which is now Turkey, and Christianity has deep roots there. However, the entry bans of foreign Protestants, employment discrimination, the inability of the churches to gain a legal entity, and the restrictions on churches to train their own leaders are all deepening barriers for religious freedom in Turkey.”

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : ERDOGAN FACING CORONA -Turkey imposes first curfew as coronavirus infections surge

Ezgi Akin  –  Article Summary AL MONITOR  27 March 2020 – Ankara has announced its first lockdown covering 12 areas in the Black Sea coastal provinces of Rize and Trabzon as Turkey suffers its largest single-day jump in coronavirus cases. The Turkish authorities announced the country’s first lockdown in 12 population centers in the Black Sea coastal provinces of Rize and Trabzon in the wake of Turkey’s largest single-day jump in coronavirus cases. Seventeen more people were killed by the novel coronavirus on March 27, bringing the total death toll to 92, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced today. The total number of cases is up to 5,998 with more than 2,000 new confirmed cases — the largest single-day surge since the country reported its first case on March 11.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS RELEVANT BOOKS & PAPERS

Cengiz Gunes | Explaining the PKK’s Mobilization of the Kurds in Turkey: Hegemony, Myth and Violence – Ethnopolitics 12 (3), pp.247-267 

Cengiz Gunes  – ACADEMIA

This article focuses on the PKK’s (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) nationalist mobilization of the Kurds in Turkey in the past 30 years. By drawing on the concepts of ‘hegemony’ and ‘myth’, it examines the constitution of Kurdish political subjectivity and the representation of Kurdish identity and difference in political discourse. It reflects on the ideological and political debates over strategy and the contestation over identity that numerous Kurdish political organizations took part in during the 1970s. It then e…

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https://www.academia.edu/4420577/Cengiz_Gunes_Explaining_the_PKKs_Mobilization_of_the_Kurds_in_Turkey_Hegemony_Myth_and_Violence_-_Ethnopolitics_12_3_pp.247-267?email_work_card=title

Schrödinger’s Kurds: Transnational Kurdish Geopolitics in the Age of Shifting Borders

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : BOOKS & PAPERS

Akin Unver  H. Ünever ACADEMIA 

As the Middle East goes through one of its most historic, yet painful episodes, the fate of the region’s Kurds have drawn substantial interest. Transnational Kurdish awakening—both political and armed—has attracted unprecedented global interest as individual Kurdish minorities across four countries, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria, have begun to shake their respective political status quo in various ways. It is in Syria that the Kurds have made perhaps their largest impact, largely owing to the intensifica…

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25 March 2020

https://www.academia.edu/25016478/Schrödingers_Kurds_Transnational_Kurdish_Geopolitics_in_the_Age_of_Shifting_Borders?email_work_card=title

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS INTEL BY MEIR AMIT INTELLIGENCE & TERRORISM INFORMATION CENTER / ISRAEL – The Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy: A Hezbollah foundation intended to inculcate jihad and the shaheed culture within Shiite society in Lebanon

Overview

An important component in building the so-called resistance society is the inculcation of the values of jihad and shahada (heroic death for the sake of Allah) among the Shiite population in general and the younger generation in particular. An examination of Hezbollah’s civilian institutions revealed that they are also engaged in cultivating the shaheed culture, each in its own way and according to its field of specialization (education, culture, art, youth organizations, etc.). In addition, Hezbollah established a designated foundation named the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy, whose activity is dedicated to the promotion of shaheed culture.

  • The Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy (hereinafter: the association) is engaged in a wide variety of activities: publishing books on the lives of shaheeds; disseminating shaheeds’ wills and pictures and stories on their lives on social media; establishing museums; setting up monuments; promoting jihadi “tourism sites;” holding exhibitions and seminars; and operating a center dedicated to keeping shaheeds’ belongings and documenting their lives, in Beirut’s southern suburb.
  • The association is part of Hezbollah’s “mini-state” established among the Shiite sect in Lebanon, which caters to the needs of Shiite inhabitants in all spheres of life. For this purpose, Hezbollah, with massive Iranian support, is engaged in establishing a civilian system, which operates alongside its military infrastructure, in the spheres of education, culture, health, welfare, finance, sports, construction, agriculture, and more[1]. The social institutions established by Hezbollah with Iranian support provide the Shiite residents of Lebanon with a wide variety of services of the sort which is usually provided by the state, while taking advantage of the weakness of the Lebanese central government and years of neglect of the Shiite sect. Hezbollah’s extensive civilian activity is designed to create among the Shiites a “resistance society” which supports Hezbollah in its struggle against Israel. Sheikh Naim Qassem, Hassan Nasrallah’s deputy, described it as follows: “Resistance, on our part, is a social worldview with all its aspects: military, cultural, political, and media-related resistance”[2] (for a list of the ITIC’s publications on Hezbollah’s civilian infrastructure, see Appendix).

Right: Emblem of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy (Facebook page of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy)[3]. Left: Poster published by the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy on the occasion of the Shaheed Leaders Day (February 16, 2020). The poster shows Hajj Qassem Soleimani leading Hezbollah’s three most senior shaheeds (Hajj Imad Mughniyeh, Sayyid Abbas al-Mussawi, and Sheikh Ragheb Harb) on their way to the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem (Instagram account of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy, February 16, 2020)
Right: Emblem of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy (Facebook page of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy)[3]. Left: Poster published by the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy on the occasion of the Shaheed Leaders Day (February 16, 2020). The poster shows Hajj Qassem Soleimani leading Hezbollah’s three most senior shaheeds (Hajj Imad Mughniyeh, Sayyid Abbas al-Mussawi, and Sheikh Ragheb Harb) on their way to the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem (Instagram account of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy, February 16, 2020)

The Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy: an overview
  • On October 2008, the Lebanese Interior Ministry gave permission for the establishment of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy. Among the declared objectives of the association, which are specified in its establishment license: “disseminating the resistance culture and an effort to construct the resistance society;” “delving into the significance of shahada and explaining its role in creating life and protecting the homeland, the land and the holy sites;” “writing the history of the achievements of the resistance and promoting scientific and historic studies in this field;” “erecting monuments in shahada sites and building museums to commemorate the role of shaheeds in creating history and life.” To this end, the association operates a library and a research center and holds exhibitions and seminars on shahada (the Lebanese Gazette[4], October 7, 2008).
  • The center of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy is in Al-Imdad Center in Beirut’s southern suburb (Al-Imdad is a charity association affiliated with Hezbollah and Iran). It appears that the association belongs to the Media Relations Unit, which is subordinate to Hezbollah’s Executive Council[5]. The association operates in collaboration with various institutions belonging to Hezbollah’s civilian infrastructure which also engage in commemorating shaheeds. These institutions include the Women’s Organizations[6], the Education Mobilization[7], the Mleeta tourism site[8], and the Martyrs Foundation.
Senior officials of the association

The senior officials of the association and its founders are Hezbollah figures who held or currently hold various posts in Hezbollah’s civilian institutions. Following are details about some of them.

  • Sheikh Moussa Daher is a Hezbollah figure serving as director of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy. Previously, he served as director of the Center for Keeping the Shaheeds’ Belongings, which is operated by the association (see below). The sheikh is a disciple of senior Shiite cleric Haidar Mohammad Kamel Hobballah (who graduated religious studies in Iran). He translated many books on Shiite Islam and the Islamic Revolution in Iran from Persian into Arabic (the official website of cleric Haidar Hobballah, no date; website of the Al-Ghadir Research Center, publishing and advertising, no date; website of Kitab Pedia, no date; Baqiyyatullah magazine, Issue No. 132, from 2002).

Sheikh Moussa Daher, the association director, delivering a speech at the book launch for “Montasser” (“The Victor”) about the life of the shaheed student Mohammad Hossein Jouni, who was killed on the Syrian-Lebanese border (Ya Sour website, November 29, 2018)
Sheikh Moussa Daher, the association director, delivering a speech at the book launch for “Montasser” (“The Victor”) about the life of the shaheed student Mohammad Hossein Jouni, who was killed on the Syrian-Lebanese border[9] (Ya Sour website, November 29, 2018)

  • Sheikh Yusuf Abd al-Ridha Aassi is one of the founders of the association. Today, he is the deputy director of Hezbollah’s Martyrs Foundation (Al-Ahed news website, November 10, 2018). Following are personal details about him:
    • Shiite cleric born in 1962, a disciple of Sheikh Mohammad Abbas Dehaini (Lebanese Shiite cleric, graduate of Fadlallah’s Institution) and Sayyid Mohammad Hossein Fadlallah (Lebanese Gazette, October 4, 2004; official website of cleric Sheikh Mohammad Abbas Dehaini; Mouqawimoun website).
    • In February 2002, he was one of the founders of the Al-Maaref al-Hikmiyah Institute, which is engaged in disseminating Shiite Islam through research institutes, publishing books etc. (Lebanese Gazette, February 18, 2002; website of the Al-Maaref al-Hikmiyah Institute).
    • Previously, he served in various posts in Hezbollah’s Martyrs Foundation: In October 2004, he was the chairman of an association representing Hezbollah’s Martyrs Foundation[10] (Lebanese Gazette, October 4, 2004).
    • In January 2006, he was one of the founders of Atlas Holding, a company owned by Hezbollah’s Martyrs Foundation (profile of Atlas Holding SAL at the Lebanese Registrar of Companies[11]).
    • In 2010–2015, after the establishment of the association, he was in charge of education and culture in Hezbollah’s Martyrs Foundation (Al-Ahed news website, November 10, 2010; Al-Mustafa International University’s website, November 16, 2015).
    • In February 2020, the US Department of the Treasury put his name on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN) due to his activity.

Sheikh Yusuf Abd al-Ridha Aassi, one of the founders of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy (Baqiyyatullah Magazine, Issue 326, 2018)
Sheikh Yusuf Abd al-Ridha Aassi, one of the founders of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy (Baqiyyatullah Magazine, Issue 326, 2018)

Hossein Qassem Khalifa:
  • One of the founders of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy. Previously (March 1998) among the founders of the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Maaref Islamic Culture Association (Lebanese Gazette, March 25, 1998). In May 1998, he received permission to issue a non-political weekly in Arabic and English, which is Baqiyyatullah, today – Hezbollah’s monthly[12] (Lebanese Gazette, May 25, 1998). In March 2004, he transferred the ownership of the magazine to the Al-Maaref Association, converting it into a publication dealing with religious issues (Lebanese Gazette, March 8, 2004).
  • In January 2009, he received permission to establish and head the Al-Walaa Publishing House and Library[13] (Lebanese Gazette, January 21, 2009). This institution focuses on the dissemination of Shiite contents and Khomeini’s ideology – for instance, biographies of religious scholars, including that of Imam Khomeini (Facebook page of Dar al-Walaa).
  • Najwa Mohammad Raad:
    • Writer and researcher in the field of oral history. Authored several books and short stories, and several studies, including one on the Zionist movement (YouTube channel of Al-Thaqalayn Satellite TV, February 6, 2019).
    • Wrote several books on shaheeds: The Life of the Shaheed Samir Matout[14], The Life of the shaheed Ahmad Ali Shueib[15], and stories of shaheeds and fighters from the time of Hezbollah’s fighting in Syria (websites of Good Reads and NWF, no date; Al-Ahed news website, August 23, 2017).
    • Currently, she is in charge of the Documentation and Writing Department in the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy (Facebook page of the “New Day” TV show on Al-Kawthar TV, February 24, 2017).

Najwa Raad, in charge of the Documentation and Writing Department in the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy (YouTube channel of the Al-Thaqalayn Satellite TV, February 6, 2019)
Najwa Raad, in charge of the Documentation and Writing Department in the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy (YouTube channel of the Al-Thaqalayn Satellite TV, February 6, 2019)

The association’s fields of activity

The main fields of activity of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy are publishing books, mainly biographies of shaheeds; disseminating Internet publications relevant to its objectives; operating a center for keeping the belongings of shaheeds; and holding exhibitions. As stated above, the association comprises the Documentation and Writing Department, headed by Najwa Raad, which is mainly engaged in publishing shaheeds’ biographies (Facebook page of the “New Day” TV show in Al-Kawthar TV, February 24, 2017).

The book “Montasser” (“The Victor”) on the life of the shaheed Mohammad Hossein Jouni, killed on the border between Syrian and Lebanon. The book was published by the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy (Ya Sour website, November 29, 2018)
The book “Montasser” (“The Victor”) on the life of the shaheed Mohammad Hossein Jouni, killed on the border between Syrian and Lebanon. The book was published by the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy (Ya Sour website, November 29, 2018)
  • The association is very active on social media. It runs a Facebook page (1,174 followers and 697 likes, updated to February 21, 2020); a Telegram account (222 members, updated to February 21, 2020); and an Instagram account (840 followers, updated to February 21, 2020). Using these platforms, which are updated on average once a day, the association disseminates content promoting the glorification of shaheeds. For instance, quoting shaheeds’ wills in social and religious events (for example, on Mother’s Day in Lebanon); releasing photos of shaheeds at various events held around the anniversary of their death; short stories from shaheeds’ biographies; and photos and other graphically designed products on anniversaries of the death of shaheeds.

Dissemination of photos and wills of shaheeds on social media

 Quote from the will of the shaheed Abdou Sa’id Aghazadeh, killed in February 1997 in the Security Zone, apparently in an attack by an Israeli force near the Delaat Outpost (known in Lebanon as Dabche Outpost; Hezbollah website, January 14, 2008). In this excerpt, the shaheed turns to his mother and asks for her forgiveness for not lending her his attention, claiming that his actions were for the sake of Allah (Instagram account of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy, March 3, 2020)   The shaheed Ali Younes Atwi, killed in the Second Lebanon War, in a publication of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy on the occasion of Teachers’ Day in Lebanon (Instagram account of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy, March 9, 2020). Al-Atwi was a high school teacher in southern Lebanon.
Right: The shaheed Ali Younes Atwi, killed in the Second Lebanon War, in a publication of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy on the occasion of Teachers’ Day in Lebanon (Instagram account of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy, March 9, 2020). Al-Atwi was a high school teacher in southern Lebanon. Left: Quote from the will of the shaheed Abdou Sa’id Aghazadeh, killed in February 1997 in the Security Zone, apparently in an attack by an Israeli force near the Delaat Outpost (known in Lebanon as Dabche Outpost; Hezbollah website, January 14, 2008). In this excerpt, the shaheed turns to his mother and asks for her forgiveness for not lending her his attention, claiming that his actions were for the sake of Allah (Instagram account of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy, March 3, 2020)
 Photos of shaheeds killed in the attack on the Ghazlan Outpost (known in Lebanon as Bir Kallab) in January 1989 (Facebook page of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy, January 28, 2020)    Quote from the shaheed Mohammad Abdullah Fayad, killed in an attack on the Ali al-Taher Outpost (1993). The quote was published on the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran: “We wish to declare in front of the whole world that Imam Khomeini’s path is still in our hearts and in the hearts of all the believers…” (Instagram account of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy, February 7, 2020)
Right: Quote from the shaheed Mohammad Abdullah Fayad, killed in an attack on the Ali al-Taher Outpost (1993). The quote was published on the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran: “We wish to declare in front of the whole world that Imam Khomeini’s path is still in our hearts and in the hearts of all the believers…” (Instagram account of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy, February 7, 2020) Left: Photos of shaheeds killed in the attack on the Ghazlan Outpost (known in Lebanon as Bir Kallab) in January 1989 (Facebook page of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy, January 28, 2020)
  • The Center for Keeping Shaheeds’ Belongings was established in 2002. Its objective was “to write the history and document the life of every shaheed of the Islamic resistance, from birth until death.” This is done by collecting information on the life of the shaheed (for example, through interviews with his friends and family); collecting documents related to the shaheed (wills, letters etc.); and collecting and keeping his personal belongings (uniform, shoes etc.).
  • The center is located in the Imam al-Kazem Complex in Hayy Madi (in Beirut’s southern suburb)[16]. So far, it comprises more than 8,000 items, more than 9,000 stories related orally (about 4,000 hours of audio and about 800 hours of video), more than 10,000 documents, and more than 7,000 photos (website of the Center of Shaheeds’ Belongings of the Association for the Revival of Resistance Legacy, no date; Al-Ahed news website, April 26, 2011; Hezbollah website, May 28, 2015).
 Overview of the Imam al-Kazem Complex in Hayy al-Madi, which is where the Center for Keeping the Shaheeds’ Belongings is located (Facebook page of the Imam al-Kazem Complex, October 22, 2016)   Exhibition of the belongings of the shaheed Mohammad Hossein Jouni, killed on the border between Syria and Lebanon. Concurrently with the exhibition, a book launch was held for his biography, issued by the association (Ya Sour website, November 29, 2018). The shaheed’s belongings include certificates of appreciation for academic achievements awarded by Hezbollah’s Education Mobilization, as well as a plaque of appreciation awarded by the Islamic Resistance Support Authority (IRSA), which is given by Hezbollah to every family of shaheed .
Right: Exhibition of the belongings of the shaheed Mohammad Hossein Jouni, killed on the border between Syria and Lebanon. Concurrently with the exhibition, a book launch was held for his biography, issued by the association (Ya Sour website, November 29, 2018). The shaheed’s belongings include certificates of appreciation for academic achievements awarded by Hezbollah’s Education Mobilization, as well as a plaque of appreciation awarded by the Islamic Resistance Support Authority (IRSA), which is given by Hezbollah to every family of shaheed[17]. Left: Overview of the Imam al-Kazem Complex in Hayy al-Madi, which is where the Center for Keeping the Shaheeds’ Belongings is located (Facebook page of the Imam al-Kazem Complex, October 22, 2016)
  • The association assists in or initiates exhibitions on issues related to its activity. The most prominent exhibition in which the association was involved was the Qurban Exhibition on the occasion of Shaheed’s Day 2019[18]. The exhibition took place in the Imam Hussein Complex in Tyre and included artistic works on shahada (heroic death for the sake of Allah)[19]. Other exhibitions in which the association is involved display the belongings of shaheeds.

Note written by one of Hezbollah’s fighters before he died, in which he expresses his longing to enter paradise in order to be close to Imam Hussain rather than because it has rivers and flowers. The note was displayed in the Qurban Exhibition (Facebook page of the Qurban Exhibition, January 2, 2020)
Note written by one of Hezbollah’s fighters before he died, in which he expresses his longing to enter paradise in order to be close to Imam Hussain rather than because it has rivers and flowers. The note was displayed in the Qurban Exhibition (Facebook page of the Qurban Exhibition, January 2, 2020)

Appendix
The ITIC’s publications on Hezbollah’s civilian infrastructure (February 2019-March 2020)
  • The ITIC is engaged in a research project whose aim is to map and analyze Hezbollah’s civilian infrastructure. So far, the following 21 publications have been issued as part of this project:
    • “Hezbollah launched a campaign to raise money for military purposes using the Islamic Resistance Support Association” (February 2019).
    • Funding Terrorism: The method for transferring donations to Hezbollah through the Islamic Resistance Support Association” (March 2019)
    • Hezbollah’s Martyrs Foundation: purpose, mode of operation and funding methods” (April 2019)
    • Hezbollah’s Foundation for the Wounded: purpose, modus operandi and funding methods” (May 2019)
    • “Hezbollah’s socioeconomic foundations: Al-Qard al-Hasan, a quasi-bank that provides interest-free loans, mainly to members of the Shiite community” (June 2019)
    • Jihad al-Bina Association in Lebanon: A Hezbollah social foundation engaged in construction and social projects among the Shiite community, being a major component in Hezbollah’s civilian infrastructure” (June 2019)
    • The Imam al-Mahdi Scouts Association: Hezbollah’s youth movement which indoctrinates youth with Iranian radical Shiite Islam and serves as a source of youngsters who join Hezbollah” (July 2019)
    • “Hezbollah operates networks of private schools indoctrinating the Shiite community in Lebanon with the ideology of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and with loyalty to Hezbollah and the path of terrorism” (July 2019)
    • Hezbollah’s Iranian identity: Ceremony of Hezbollah operatives in southern Lebanon with conspicuous personality cult of Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei” (July 2019)
    • Hezbollah’s Education Mobilization: An institution engaged in the indoctrination of Shiite students in Lebanon’s state and private educational systems, in preparation for their joining Hezbollah upon graduation” (July 2019)
    • “Sports in the service of terrorism: Hezbollah’s Sports Mobilization conducts extensive sports activity, using it for indoctrinating and preparing youth to join the ranks of Hezbollah” (July 2019)
    • The Islamic Health Organization: Hezbollah institution providing health services to Hezbollah operatives and the Shiite population in general as a means for gaining influence and creating a Shiite mini-state within Lebanon” (August 2019)
    • Art and culture used by Hezbollah as instruments of indoctrination” (August 2019)
    • Hezbollah’s Women’s Organizations Unit” (August 2019)
    • Hezbollah’s media empire” (October 2019)
    • Resistance society: Hezbollah’s municipal activity” (October 2019)
    • Jihadi tourism: visits to battle legacy sites and shahid tombs as an indoctrination tool for spreading Hezbollah’s ideology” (October 2019)
    • Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, in an interview with an Iranian magazine affiliated with Supreme Leader Khamenei, emphasizes the importance of its civilian institutions” (October 2019)
    • Twitter suspended accounts affiliated with Hezbollah, especially Al-Manar. However, an Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center examination revealed that Hezbollah continues to maintain significant presence on Twitter, even after the suspension” (November, 2019)
    • Hezbollah’s Twitter Presence (Update)” (November 2019)
    • Hezbollah’s Twitter Presence (Update 2)” (November 2019)
    • Soccer in the use of terrorism: Hezbollah’s Al-Ahed soccer team is used as a means by Hezbollah to increase its popularity and acquire legitimacy” (December 2019)
    • Green Without Borders: a Lebanese environmental organization that collaborates with Hezbollah and supports its activity near the Israeli border” (February 2020)
    • The Martyrs Foundation – Palestinian Branch: a Hezbollah foundation operating in Lebanon, used as a channel for transferring Iranian financial support to families of Palestinian shaheeds” (March 2020)

[1] Detailed information on Hezbollah’s civilian foundations can be found in the ITIC’s series of publications issued in the past year.
[2] Sheikh Naim Qassem, “Resistance Society: The Will of Shahada and the Creation of Victory,” Dar Al-Maaref al-Hikmiyah, 2008, p. 8.

[3] The emblem of the association features the word Ahyaa (“[they are] alive”), which is taken from two Quran verses on shaheeds. The first is Surat Al-Baqarah, 154: “And do not say about those who are killed in the way of Allah, “They are dead.” Rather, they are alive, but you perceive [it] not.” The second is Surat Aal Imran, 169: “And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of Allah as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision” (Sahih International’s translation of the Quran).

[4] Al-Jaridah al-Rasmiyah (hereinafter: The Lebanese Gazette).

[5] See the ITIC’s Information Bulletin from October 2019, “Hezbollah’s media empire

[6] See the ITIC’s Information Bulletin from September 2019, “Hezbollah’s Women’s Organizations Unit

[7] See the ITIC’s Information Bulletin from July 2019, “Hezbollah’s Education Mobilization: an institution engaged in the indoctrination of Shiite students in Lebanon’s state and private educational systems, in preparation for their joining Hezbollah upon graduation foundation

[8] See the ITIC’s Information Bulletin from October 2019, “Jihadi tourism: visits to battle legacy sites and shahid tombs as an indoctrination tool for spreading Hezbollah’s ideology

[9] Mohammad Hossein Jouni, resident of the village of Al-Abbasiyah in southern Lebanon, was a Hezbollah operative. He was killed in June 2015 in a battle (against jihadi organizations) in the Arsal ridges on the border between Syria and Lebanon. Concurrently with his military activity, he had been active for many years in Hezbollah’s Education Mobilization.

[10] For further details, see the ITIC’s Information Bulletin from April 2019, “Hezbollah’s Martyrs Foundation: purpose, mode of operation and funding methods.” He was the chairman of an association representing the Martyrs Foundation – not the director of the Martyrs Foundation itself.

[11] Atlas Holding SAL owns about 10 Lebanese companies operating in the spheres of medicine, trade, and fuel and its derivatives (MEDIC – a company dealing with medical equipment and cosmetics; Shahed Pharm – a pharmacological company; Amana Fuel – a company dealing in fuel and oil products, including a network of gas stations; and Amana Plus – a company dealing in fuel and oil products, as well as the import, marketing and distribution of oil products.

[12] See the ITIC’s Information Bulletin from October 2019, “Hezbollah’s media empire

[13] Al-Walaa, literally, “the loyalty.” The term refers to the loyalty to the path of Imam Ali.

[14] Killed in the Ali al-Taher Outpost in February 1987 (Hezbollah’s website, February 23, 2013).

[15] Killed in the outposts of Alman –Al-Shomariya in April 1987 (Twitter account of the Martyrs Foundation, April 18, 2019; Hezbollah’s website, December 17, 2007).

[16] Moussa al-Kazem was the seventh Imam according to the belief of the Shiite main stream, the Twelver Shi’a. Thus, according to their belief, he is a direct heir to the Prophet Muhammad. Al-Kazem served as Imam about 35 years, from age 21 (Wikipedia).

[17] military purposes using the Islamic Resistance Support Association”

[18] Literally, sacrifice, offering. The name “Qurban Exhibition” was probably chosen due to its historic context: at the end of the Battle of Karbala, Sayyida Zaynab (the daughter of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib and Fatima, the Prophet Muhammad’s daughter) was standing over the body of her brother, Imam Hussain, and cried, “Allah, please receive this offering [“Qurban”] from us.” This is one of the well-known quotes of Sayyida Zaynab from the Battle of Karbala, which symbolizes her continued adherence to the purpose for which her brother went to the battle, although he and many of his friends and family were killed (article by Salah al-Ta’i on the Kitabat fil Mizan website, October 14, 2015).

[19] The painter Ahmad Abdallah, whose art is recruited for Hezbollah, was one of the artists whose works were displayed in the exhibition. See the ITIC’s Information Bulletin from September 2019, “Art and culture used by Hezbollah as instruments of indoctrination”

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS SPECIAL : Is Turkey planning a new invasion of eastern Syria? – analysis

Turkey is now turning to this oil policy during the coronavirus crisis as a possible new way to distract local media and create a new nationalist cause.

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN   – JERUSALEM POST – MARCH 24, 2020 16:25

Turkey’s leadership thrives on crises. For the last several years the government in Ankara has invented a new crisis every month, sometimes with the US. In October 2019 it invaded part of eastern Syria, causing 200,000 people to flee. In November Turkey created a crises in Libya with an energy deal in the Mediterranean and in January and February it fumbled another crises in Idlib, only to hen encourages migrants to go to Europe in March. Now Ankara  may be setting its sights on a new crises in Syria to  distract from the coronavirus pandemic at home.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS Turkey Pulse  : Turkey considers freeing some detainees as virus menaces prison populations

 

Amberin Zaman March 23, 2020  –  Article Summary Like other countries fearing an outbreak of COVID-19 in overcrowded prisons, Turkey is debating wether to free some of its 300,000 prisoners — but no political detainees, rights groups observe. Following the lead of countries like Iran and Bahrain, which have freed thousands of prisoners to reduce the risk of COVID-19 deaths in overburdened penitentiaries, Turkey is mulling legislation that would free some of its 300,000 detainees, Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul has confirmed.

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