Sheikh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi Responds to al-Julani’s al-Jazeera Interview

by Matthew Barber

Sheikh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi is a respected Sufi scholar and teacher from Damascus who has been an outspoken voice against IS and other extremist groups in Syria. Throughout the course of the uprising, he has been consulted by rebel fighters seeking guidance regarding their conduct in the war. In this capacity, the Sheikh has provided numerous fatwas against acts of extremism, violence against civilians, sectarian violence, and the killing of prisoners. Sheikh Yaqoubi has previously been interviewed for Syria Comment, and more information on his background and activities can be found in that article.

Sheikh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi speaks in Chicago 2014

This past week, Sheikh Yaqoubi published a short book containing a detailed religious argument against the behavior and tactics of IS. The first of its kind, the book is entitled The Obligation to Fight ISIS: A Detailed Fatwa Proving That ISIS Have Strayed from Islam, Opposed Sharīʿah and That Fighting Them is Obligatory. (The title of the Arabic version is: إنقاذُ الأمَّة: فتوﻯٰ مفصلة في إثبات أن داعش خوارج وأن قتالهم واجب) A strong refutation of IS’ ideology, this work is designed to influence Syrian fighters against IS as well as to curb IS’ recruitment of Muslim youth around the world. It can also serve to encourage IS fighters to leave the organization. An Arabic version of the book has just been published in Turkey and is available here; an English version is forthcoming. The book refutes IS on theological grounds for many aspects of its practice and positions, including their revival of slavery practices (for information on IS’ project to enslave Iraqi Yazidis, see: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Also this past week, al-Jazeera ran an in-depth interview with Abu Mohammed al-Julani, the leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, Syria’s al-Qaida organization. Highlights of this interview, translated into English can be read here, and the previous post on Syria Comment deals extensively with the interview. Eyebrows have been raised by what has appeared as an attempt to improve Nusra’s image as a more moderate alternative to IS that does not practice takfir (the practice of declaring a Muslim an unbeliever or apostate).

I spoke with Sheikh Yaqoubi on Friday. He shared with me his current efforts to ideologically combat IS, as well as his thoughts on the way that al-Jazeera handled the interview with al-Julani, the ranking representative of al-Qaida in Syria. Below is our discussion.

 

Sheikh Muhammad, what did you make of al-Jazeera’s interview with Abu Mohammed al-Julani?

The interview was fifty minutes of mockery—a scandal for professional journalism. It is unbelievable that al-Jazeera is doing the dirty job of beautifying this man before tens of millions of viewers, ordinary Muslims, telling them that he is a good man who is doing a good job, helping the Syrian people, a good Muslim, a moderate Muslim—he’s not! It was clear from the interview that the ideology of al-Nusra Front has not changed. Al-Julani twice confirmed his allegiance to al-Qaida, saying that he receives orders from its leader Dr. Aymenn [al-Zawahiri], and the interviewer never interjected any question about this. All the interviewer did was attempt to portray him as a nice man. He never asked him a critical question; he never challenged him.

What do you think is happening today that allows an important representative of al-Qaida to be featured on television in an accepting way by a mainstream voice of the media?

This question should be directed to Qatar’s government. Why are they doing this?

The man clearly stated that he hasn’t abandoned any of his principles. He only stated one thing that differs from his earlier positions: he says that he has received orders from al-Qaida leader Dr. Ayman to not target the West. This is the only real [ideological] change from what he conveyed in his earlier interview in 2013. Now they are just trying to get statements from him to the effect that “we do not do takfir.” And yet in the same interview, he confirmed the extreme position that visiting shrines of saints is kufr or shirk, accusing people who visit shrines of being mushrikiin [those who “commit polytheism” by ascribing “partners” to God]. This means he is going to have to consider most Sunni Muslims apostates (which for him could mean having to kill them) because they have shrines of saints and visit them, such as our shrine for Ibn ‘Arabi in the heart of Damascus, or in Konya the shrine for Mawlana Rumi, the most famous Muslim saint in the world. You have saints everywhere, from Morocco to South Africa, from Indonesia to Istanbul. All these Muslims are mushrikiin—non-Muslims, unbelievers—according to him? How can this be? This ideology is alien to the Syrian people and to the nature of Islam in Syria.

And ironically—or perhaps even sarcastically—they are trying to present him as so friendly toward [minority] sects.

As he said that Nusra will not kill Alawites or Druze.

Druze and Alawites—“if they don’t fight us, if they don’t work with Assad,” then they will not kill them.

But he made changing their religion a prerequisite for this.

This is the key moment where the interviewer failed to interrupt to pose any hard questions. He [al-Julani] gave two conditions. The first was that they abandon Assad, or defect—and this is the understandable politics of war. But the second condition, at which the interviewer did not pause to question him, was, when talking about the Druze villages in Idlib, he said “we have sent them duʿāt” [proselytizers], people to correct their dogma or their Islam.” And about Alawites, also he repeated that “if they accept Islam, we’ll be fine with them.” His approach to Druze and Alawites is that they should become Muslims and “then we will accept them,” which differs from the long-established position adopted by Sunnis, such as the Hanafis and Malikis, who accepted these groups and made them equal to the People of the Book. Al-Julani’s position means that Alawites have the only the choices of converting to Islam or being killed; they would not even be extended the option of deportation.

Now, these Alawites and Druze, along with the Isma’ilis, have lived side by side with Sunni Muslims for over a thousand years, and Muslims did not attempt to erase, eradicate, or convert them, even though Muslims had power, as the rulers of the land, such as the Ottomans. This is because it is part of our legal system that these people could be treated as the People of the Book, which means they are full citizens of the countries where they live. It is in the Hanafi school, the Malaki school, it is even one opinion of Ahmad ibn Hanbal.

Now I understand the position of the Shafi’is, but it was never practiced, so why pick it up after all these centuries? While the majority of Muslim scholars say that even mushrikiin can be treated as the People of the Book? Imam Malik says this very clearly and so does Abu Hanifa. This was practiced for many centuries in Syria, so why now? Why turn the tables after all of this history and begin forcing people into Islam? Al-Julani wants to claim to be more loyal to Islam than the Muslims? More than the Ottomans, more than the Ayubids, more than the Abbasids, more than the Umayyads, more than the companions of the Prophet? This is very strange.

What Shafi’i position were you referring to?

The Shafi’is said that jizya can only be taken from Christians, Jews, and Magians [Zoroastrians], not from others. But this has never been practiced; the Shafi’i opinion on this has never been followed. We have a rule in fiqh: “Practice takes priority.” In other words, the position of a madhab that becomes majority practice is validated, whereas an opposing position of another madhab, if not followed in a certain land, cannot be practiced there. Therefore the Shafi’i position on this has become invalid in Syria and neighboring countries because it was never adopted by any Muslim government. This is even echoed now by one of the major leaders of the current Salafi-jihadi movement, Abu Basir al-Tartusi, who states that the majority opinion on this is superior and should be practiced, and that all should be considered as People of the Book and should not be forced into Islam. He says this on his website.

Help me understand the difference between the Shafi’is on the one side, and the Hanafis and Malikis on the other. Both would agree that the option to pay jizya [rather than convert] is provided to the People of the Book, but the difference is about who is considered People of the Book?

The difference is about who can be annexed to the category, i.e. who can be merged into the People of the Book. It is about whether the “People of the Book” can be extended to include others who can be treated as the People of the Book, or not. Because in the past, when Muslims waged wars, they always offered the enemy three options before fighting: 1) the enemy could become Muslim, 2) they could remain non-Muslim and pay jizya, or 3) they could choose to fight. So for mushrikiin, the payment of jizya was not considered an option, in some opinions. But this was in regards to pagans among the Arabs. And the Hanafis, for example, and the Malikis on a larger scale, and even Ahmad ibn Hanbal according to one narration from him, all quote hadith from the Prophet, salla Allah ‘alayhi wa sallam, reporting that when he sent people to fight pagan mushrikiin, he asked them to offer [to the latter] all three options. This means that even pagans cannot be forced into Islam, if they choose to pay jizya. There is also another hadith, one about the Magians, in Sahih Bukhari, that says “treat them like the People of the Book.”

So from these proofs, these portions of hadith tradition, among others, scholars and Muslim jurists went on to say that all non-Muslim sects are annexed to the People of the Book. Let me state it clearly: Muslims were not keen on killing people. Muslims tried to save the lives of people under any pretext when any proof was available. They valued human life as God’s creation, so when they found these clear proofs from among the words of the Prophet, they knew that Islam was a religion of mercy, because this is the higher purpose of the shariʿa: mercy—not killing people, not harshness, not savagery.

This was the practiced pattern when Muslims had power. Today Muslims are weak, and a group like al-Nusra thinks that it can survive and become a superpower? This is ridiculous. Muslims were superpowers and controlled two thirds of the world, and they did not eradicate sects. They did not force them into Islam.

So when al-Julani mentioned placing duʿāt among the Druze in Idlib, the interviewer did not interrupt him to question the practice.

He didn’t challenge him at all. The way that al-Julani put it was “we sent missionaries, duʿāt, to them, to correct for them their misunderstandings of Islamic dogma.” But Julani is very aware that Druze are considered non-Muslims in books of theology. When they have freedom, they will identify as Druze.

There is no basis for forcing or pressuring others to enter Islam. In my new book on fighting ISIS, I mention that it is even forbidden to slander a Christian or another non-Muslim. Ibn Nujaim, one of the greatest scholars of fiqh and uṣūl al-fiqh in the Hanafi school, said that it is haram, forbidden, to say to a non-Muslim: “you kāfir,”because it upsets him, and you are not supposed to upset him by pointing out his difference in beliefs. This has been established in Islam for centuries. This is why when I once spoke in America at the Catholic University in Washington, I said that the concept of “tolerance” is alien to us, because tolerance means “bearing up with difficulty,” i.e. doing a favor to the other. It is derived from the Latin verb tolerare which means “to endure pain.” The Muslim relationship toward other sects was not based in “doing the favor” of tolerating them; they considered their separate beliefs as their right. Ibn ʿĀbidīn even says in his book Radd Al-Muḥtār that oppression against non-Muslims is worse than oppression against Muslims.

So where do these people like Julani and Baghdadi come from? But this is what results when they destroy the twelve-century-long corpus of law of the four schools. This is what you get: everyone is implementing his own opinion. Everyone who carries a gun is now a mujtahid or a mufti, producing his own fatwas and acting as judge. They claim to act in reference to the book of Allah and the sunna of his Prophet, salla Allah ‘alayhi wa sallam, but they act according to their own understanding—or misunderstanding.

Islamic law develops [over time]. One of its beautiful characteristics is its flexibility. We have certain things that are constant over time, things like the pillars of Islam (prayer, fasting, and so forth), but then we have things that may evolve and change over time. There are a lot of these things, including jizya. It is not something that is rigidly defined, even though it is mentioned in the Qur’an.

So what do you think was the goal of that interview?

The purpose of the interview seemed to be just to elicit certain statements from al-Julani, particularly that “we don’t do takfir to anyone,” in a way that would increase his appeal to the public. It was a very dangerous interview.

And in the interview we don’t really see a renouncing of takfiri practice or ideology?

No. And even if we did, there is more at issue with al-Qaida than the practice of takfir. For example, anyone who believes in democracy, for them, is a heretic. Another example: any Muslim ruler or country that enters an alliance with or seeks assistance from a non-Muslim country—they become unbelievers. There are many problems with al-Qaida, and the ideology is basically the same as that of ISIS, though ISIS has more extreme practices that have now made al-Qaida look nice. But we know that several thousand fighters moved from al-Nusra to ISIS.

Throughout the Syria conflict, every time a more radical group would appear, it would make the groups preceding it look less bad. People were concerned about Islamist groups, but after Nusra emerged, it began to appear as the bigger threat, making the other Islamists appear more moderate. After ISIS emerged, even Nusra began to look better, simply because it was not as extreme. People would perceive any opposition to whatever was the more extreme party as a good thing.

[laughing] Well if you believe in relativity, then that is the case! But we don’t believe in relativity in this criminal arena. You can’t say that a murderer who kills one person is a saint because someone else is killing more.

Let me ask you how you perceive the recent successes of Nusra and other Islamists. You are someone who wants to see a future peace in Syria, and you see both the Assad regime and Nusra as obstacles to that peace. So when you see Assad losing ground and Nusra or other Islamist groups gaining ground, do you interpret this as a positive or negative development, or neither?

Kicking the regime out of areas like Idlib is definitely good, but the ultimate solution for the crisis in Syria will be political. Sometimes people are happy that a piece of land is liberated, but then you see barrel bombs falling on people morning and night in that area, killing civilians and innocents. So it is good that the regime is now weaker, that more people are safe from the torture of the regime’s prisons, from its special art in killing people. But what we need is to finally reach a political solution, where no fighting takes place.

Until now the regime has refused to talk seriously about any political solution. Do you think that with all its recent losses it may experience enough pressure that going to the negotiating table will become a real possibility?

I think that there may now be an agreement to get rid of Assad. Even Russia and Iran now believe that he has become a burden. But what system would follow? Of course Iran wants to guarantee its own interests in the country, and Russia wants to guarantee its interests. We do not want the major destruction of Damascus. So what is happening now is more military pressure on the regime to bring it to the negotiating table, where hopefully Assad could step down, an interim council would be created to which power would be handed over, and we would eventually witness a new Syria.

If that doesn’t happen and the present fight continues to move, say to Latakia or Damascus, the destruction will just go on.

Let me say this: continuing the fight is no longer in the interest of Syrians.

Including the opposition.

Including the opposition because the opposition is not in power and is not represented by the people fighting on the ground. Those fighting are mainly extreme groups like ISIS and others who want to impose their own version of Islam, which is alien to the moderate Sunni Islam that the region has known for centuries. When you look at the four schools you realize that Islam is not about killing. For example, Islamic penalties could not be implemented in times of war, times of famine, times of ignorance and so forth. By putting Islamic penalties on hold, I am not challenging the book of Allah or the sunna. I am not challenging the books of fiqh. I am precisely following the reliable opinion of every school of law. Shariʿa is not about Islamic penalties; these extreme groups have reduced shariʿa to Islamic penalties, they have reduced shariʿa to jizya for non-Muslims. What about truthfulness, what about mercy, what about respect for citizens, what about protecting life? Islam is about these things.

Tell me about the new book you have written. It is a long fatwa about IS. What do you hope to accomplish with it?

First of all, I have seen a lot of need, from inside Syria and from around the world. From inside Syria I receive questions from fighters and commanders, from certain military groups, asking whether they should engage in the war against ISIS, asking whether ISIS are Muslims and whether they can fight against Muslims. And from non-Muslims around the world, you are aware how much fuss there is about ISIS and its crimes, especially after the burning alive of the Jordanian pilot Muaz al-Kasasbeh, Allah have mercy on him. So I saw the strong need [for an authoritative religious response to this], and there was only the one letter that was issued before, that I cosigned [www.lettertobaghdadi.com], but which did not go into enough detail regarding the proofs for the refutation of ISIS, but which mainly presented the basics. So I wrote this book directing the reader to the major positions held by ISIS, such as allegiance to Baghdadi and its validity, kidnapping, burning, slavery. Slavery is one of the major issues and I mentioned that as jurists, doctors of the law, from an Islamic point of view we are bound by international law on the issue, which we [Muslim countries] have signed, and Muslims must not breach their promises. Slavery should not be practiced and cannot be practiced; it is now forbidden in Islam for it to be practiced. This does not contradict the book of Allah or the sunna of the Prophet; it is rather in conjunction with them, because in Islam we are ordered to respect our covenants and contracts. Before the coming of Islam, the Prophet Mohammed participated in a covenant called the Hilf al-Fudūl that was made among tribes in Mecca to protect the oppressed. And after the message of Islam had come, the Prophet said that if he was again invited to such an accord that he would agree to it. So slavery in Islam is not obligatory; it is not the only option. Slavery was one option in Islam only because it was practiced in the world into which Islam came, and if the world comes to agree on abolishing it, we are bound by this. Even more so because our enemies do not enslave us. The only case in which slavery could still be applied would be if the world were to abolish the Declaration of Human Rights and begin to enslave Muslims. In such a scenario, Muslims could enslave their enemies as a kind of reciprocity. But this is impossible, an entirely imaginary hypothesis. There is now no place for slavery at all; it is out of the question.

Now when we spoke in 2013, you mentioned that many fighters were seeking your religious guidance, sometimes about relations with other groups, sometimes about fighting the regime. As the first sheikh to issue a fatwa validating resistance against the regime after its use of violence against the peaceful protesters, you played an important role in legitimizing the armed struggle of the opposition. I wonder now, in early 2015, whether similar numbers of fighters still consult you.

No. The reason is that many moderate fighters, for financial reasons or for lack of weapons and arms support, moved to join with al-Nusra or others. Three years ago there were so many military groups on the ground. Many of them were moderate and were fighting for a new Syria, and their goal was to take out the regime, not to create that form of a state which Nusra or ISIS is seeking to establish now. We all know that many Syrian fighters are now with ISIS or Nusra—they are well paid. Many looked at the international community with frustration, because they didn’t see any support.

But some still contact me and I have received requests from some of the major military groups that still exist, from around the country. Their questions now are not about the regime but mainly concern fighting ISIS.

How much practical influence do you think that your book can have?

It is designed to impact three target groups. The first group is the fighters inside Syria.

And can it physically reach them?

Yes. One major rebel group inside Syria has already requested 10,000 copies of it. A second group has requested 5,000 copies. These are good signs. They want to educate their fighters, to discuss what is right and wrong, who represents Islam, and what kind of Islam is to be practiced. So this is very encouraging. And this is just in the first few days. By the way, I have published 25,000 copies [in Turkey, to be distributed to Syrian fighters] at my own expense. I have had no sponsors. But we are expecting that 100,000 copies will eventually be needed.

The second target group for the book is the youth outside of Syria, around the world, who are at risk for recruitment. They can be reached online, and when they read this book they will realize that ISIS does not represent Islam. Through this effort we will try to minimize the levels of recruitment. That is why there are versions in both Arabic and English.

And the third target group is academia and the media. I receive a lot of questions from both academia and the media about the legal stance of Islam and the various schools on these issues, and this work can help answer those questions from concerned observers.

We are hopeful about the potential of this book and feel that its reception is promising.

Comments (200)


Pages: « 1 2 3 [4] Show All

151. SANDRO LOEWE said:

US complains that Assad is helping ISIL. The answer is very easy: hit Assad.

Why does the US not dare to attack Assad who is the master of ISIL ?

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June 3rd, 2015, 5:06 pm

 

152. Uzair8 said:

Apparently Suleimani is propmising some big surprises coming soon. Strange to pre-announce them and potentially reduce the surprise factor.

I wonder if they’ll officially announce an alliance with ISIS? Now that would be a surprise, even if pre-announced.

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June 3rd, 2015, 5:14 pm

 

153. jamal said:

151. SANDRO LOEWE said:

“Why does the US not dare to attack Assad”

Because he’s Alassad and a wise man will not mess with Alassad knowing the catastrophic ramifications world wide.

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June 3rd, 2015, 6:02 pm

 

154. Observer said:

I told what goes around comes around and he who sows the wind harvests the storm. I was stunned today to hear the tribal leaders of Fallujah pledge allegiance to IS.
Here is a nice analysis today
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/04/world/isis-making-political-gains.html?ref=middleeast&_r=0

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June 3rd, 2015, 9:56 pm

 

155. Mjabali said:

“Syrian”

Telling the Jihadis that Ahmad Ibn Hanbal is a man of peace does not work. This is the worst plan ever. The Jihadis are not going to take you seriously because Ibn Hanbal is very big in their fighting ideology.

This is like telling the world that because Usama Bin Laden composes poetry so he must be a peaceful tender man….

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June 3rd, 2015, 11:13 pm

 

156. Marwan said:

Just so we don’t forget

The achievements of General. Maher Alassad

أنجازات العميد ماهر الاسد في الثورة السورية

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June 3rd, 2015, 11:15 pm

 

157. Ghufran said:

The partition of Syria, if it happens, will not be good for Syrians, it can only benefit Israel and Turkey but this unwanted outcome may be the only option if the war does not stop.
The problem now is much bigger than 2 years ago because there are tens of thousands of jihadists in Syria who do not listen to any government or a political body, they do not even acknowledge sheikhs like Yaqoubi.
On a side note, I am afraid the moderator is too busy to monitor the
blog, that allowed hateful and unacceptable posts to surface, freedom of speech has limits and those limits have to do with the rights of others not to be targeted or threatened with violence regardless if the person behind the post is likely to be an unemployed Alqaeda sympathizer or an Assad supporter.
Syria would not have slipped down to this deep hole if Syrians knew how to disagree and share, the garbage thrown on this blog by many is home made, foreigners recruited Syrians as useful idiots and now those foreigners will decide the future of Syria while the current and future victims of this evil war are wondering if they will live to see tomorrow or be able to feed their children.’
طز فيكن و بها لنظام و هل الثوره خلو شيوخكم و القائد الملهم و البدو و العصملي ينفعوكن

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June 4th, 2015, 1:18 am

 

158. Jamal said:

157. GHUFRAN said:

طز فيكن و بهل الثوره خلو شيوخكم و البدو و العصملي ينفعوكن

Well said Dr. Ghassan, could not agree more.

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June 4th, 2015, 2:02 am

 

159. Aref Khatib said:

Excellent article provides insight on why Isis is not representing our true Islamic Faith.
All believers in One God and His Messengers are believers of Islam. Only Allah Knows what is in the hearts of everyone and everything He created in the universe. The moment anyone pre-judges others is the moment they are lead astray from the right path of Islam.

We must understand there is no coercion in Islam. True believers in monotheism should never force others to choose their religion no matter what they decide. Islam is a religion of tolerance and only promotes peace and respect to one another.
Activist Pamela Geller needs to understand that Islam is the religion that introduced freedom of speech, true equality amongst everyone, abolished slavery and emphasizes no discrimination, while allowing people the freedom of choices between right and wrong. Islam teaches when someone kills another human being it as if they killed all of mankind. The only reason it is important not to create pictures of any Prophet, including Prophet Muhammad is to prevent people from worshipping others along with Allah and prevent people from submitting to messengers, prophets.
There are many sides to every story, your side, our side, their side and the just side which is only known by Our Creator (Allah) who knows everything within our hearts while having no bias. We have a choice between being just a society and becoming a just society, by becoming Accountable, Responsible, Ethical and Fair in all aspects of life.
Sincerely,
Aref Khatib
ArefCorp
Accountable Responsible Ethical Fair Corporation

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June 4th, 2015, 10:05 am

 

160. El Chino said:

Jammie, why don’t you do something useful, like pick peanuts out of your butt…

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June 4th, 2015, 3:36 pm

 

161. El Chino said:

156 above.

When this is over, when the Assads are living in exile in Iran, Maher will spend whatever days he has left looking over his shoulder. The Iranians can only provide so much protection. There are plenty of people with motive and means who will have him marked for death…

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June 4th, 2015, 3:43 pm

 

162. jamal said:

159. El Chino said:

“Jammie, why don’t you do something useful, like pick peanuts out of your butt”

Right back at you because I’m holding a mirror in my hand (SMASH!!)

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June 4th, 2015, 3:44 pm

 

163. jamal said:

El Chino

I judge by your good English that you’re not a Syrian. How about you go somewhere else and get busy with your peanuts.

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June 4th, 2015, 4:47 pm

 

164. Syrian said:

“Your brother created ISIS” — a student just completely shut down Jeb Bush

https://www.facebook.com/NowThisNews/videos/829537633803029/

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June 4th, 2015, 7:47 pm

 

165. jamal said:

Don’t read too much into the which happened yesterday in Alareed street in Tartous. It’s a clear signal from the presidential palace that nobody gets away with tashbe7 from now on even if you are an officer from Qurdaha.

That’s how new prosperous Syria is, long live the president.

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June 4th, 2015, 8:01 pm

 

166. El Chino said:

Tashbe7. Hmmmm. Must be some kind of secret code. Well, whatever it is, nobody gets away with it…

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June 5th, 2015, 12:00 am

 

167. Ghufran said:

After 4 years of bombing areas held by rebels and terrorists it is not clear whether this bombing campaign achieved anything but multiplying the number of civilian victims of this evil war. Rebels knew very well that the regime can not win by bombing civilian areas so they made sure they occupied those areas, if the regime bombs those areas, and it should not, women and children die and the regime loses more
public and political support and if it does not rebels will look victorious, at the end of the day nobody cares about the loss of lives in Syria.

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June 5th, 2015, 12:48 am

 

168. Akbar Palace said:

“Your brother created ISIS” — a student just completely shut down Jeb Bush

Syrian,

I would have loved to be in Jeb Bush’s place during that Q & A session.

Everyone wants to blame the US and Israel for “creating” everything bad in the Middle East.

The US “created” ISIS, Saddam Hussein, Assad and Israel “created” Hamas, blah, blah blah.

What he should have answered this person is the GWB got rid of a tyrant who had killed more Iraqis then anyone else and allowed Iraq to vote for the first time in 40+ years.

But as usual, our elected leaders aren’t that smart and leave the details to “experts”.

And the arabs. Will the finger pointing ever be directed inward? I think we’re beginning to see it.

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June 5th, 2015, 8:08 am

 

169. Altair said:

#164 Syrian–thanks for posting it.
#168 Akbar

Cheney/Bush didn’t just remove Saddam Hussein, they destroyed the state. They also killed more Iraqis than Saddam did, and set the stage for many more to die. How?

1. They (by way of J. Paul Brenner) fired the entire army of about 400,000 and sent them home without even their pensions. These men were armed and trained militarily. With few options, many of these men joined the predecessor to ISIS, and some continued on to ISIS itself.

2. They allowed and encouraged political parties to be set up on sectarian bases, something not permitted in the US itself. It sectarianized Iraqi society more than it ever was. That further encouraged disgruntled and dispossessed Sunnis to join opposition forces, some of which evolved or merged into ISIS.

3. The US Occupation dismantled nearly every state institution in order for “privatization” (read plundering of Iraqi assets) to take place.

4. They presided over the “cleansing” of Sunnis in Baghdad.

It’s too simplistic to just say they deposed a tyrant and set up elections. They did it in an extremely bad way, and very violently and with rampant corruption.

The young student was right and I applaud her courage in confronting Jeb Bush. It’s too bad she couldn’t have had access to George himself. It’s too bad mainstream media journalists whose job it is to challenge authority never do.

The Cheney/Bush gang destroyed a sovereign country through an illegal war, breeding extremism through their sledgehammer approach and created the conditions for an ISIS to grow and thrive.

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June 5th, 2015, 9:43 am

 

170. Akbar Palace said:

Altair,

I’m not hear to belittle anyone or claim that “we are better than you”. I am hear to just say, “Yes, we have these problems, let’s work together to fix them”.

Cheney/Bush didn’t just remove Saddam Hussein, they destroyed the state. They also killed more Iraqis than Saddam did, and set the stage for many more to die. How?

No, arab leaders destroyed the state, namely, Saddam Hussein, who led Iraq against UN sanctions and ultimately war. His choice: war or peace. Then, insurgents from across the ME came in and murdered thousands, until the surge shut the door on it.

Lets look at the numbers.

Iraq Body Count (which, like you, is no friend of GWB) has a fairly accurate count of the dead from the beginning of the war in 2003 to THE PRESENT. It is about 200,000.

Were these deaths all caused by an American or coalition soldier firing at an Iraqi civilian? NO! MOST (I would say at least 90%) of these deaths are muslim/arab-on-muslim/arab. Insurgent killings, thugs, suicide bombers, etc.

When I think of MURDER Altair, I think of WHO pulls the trigger! Since when is a death caused by an insurgent killing an innocent bystander GWB’s fault?

The estimates are that under Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi thugocracy was responsible for about 1/4 million to 1/2 million Iraqi deaths.

https://www.iraqbodycount.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_Saddam_Hussein%27s_Iraq

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-13094677

1. Whatever Paul Brenner did, he did not pick up a gun and shoot people. If some Iraqi felt the need to kill innocent people, the murder rap is on him.

2. The US encouraged political parties and voting! People were cheering! Someone is “disgruntled” and felt the need to kill someone? Oh my, that must be GWB’s fault.

3. Has nothing to do with murder.

4. Feel free to link to articles. “Cleansing” may mean confronting armed terrorists like in Faluja.

It’s too simplistic to just say they deposed a tyrant and set up elections. They did it in an extremely bad way, and very violently and with rampant corruption.

Here was can agree. Like they say, “If you want to make an omelet, you have to break some eggs”. Not saying this war and rebuilding was an easy task and without errors. Obviously, nothing in the ME can be accomplished without “resistance” and violence. However, after the surge and several elections, Iraq was on its way. It was an opportunity. I think the task wasn’t completed when US forces pulled out. And that’s what we’re seeing today. And the Iraqis can’t seem to protect their own country. That must be GWB’s fault too.

The war wasn’t illegal. It was actually sanctioned by the UNSC.

Now everyone wants the US back. Go figure.

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June 5th, 2015, 10:48 am

 

171. Juergen said:

Joke of the day:”Democratic” Republic of Korea wants to build Kim Il Sung industrial parc in Damascus…

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June 5th, 2015, 1:47 pm

 

172. sowhat said:

“Even Russia and Iran now believe that he has become a burden.”

there is not the slightest evidence or lead that Russia or Iran are willing to get rid of Assad. Besides, other Syria allies are not weakening their support for the legal government, China , Brazil, South Africa, Armenia, Cuba and many other countries, how come they are all stupid ?

“But we are expecting that 100,000 copies will eventually be needed.” (!)

just one question : if Mr Al Yakoubi is fair and consistent with his thinkings why doesn’t he try to spread his books among the syrian population who live within the areas still controlled by the regime and who represent something between 60 to 70% of the total population (without not even considering that the majority of these syrians might be loyalists). Why is he trying to convince only the so called “moderate rebels” (a fiction according to Obama), a few minority after all if ever they were really moderate, not the rest of the syrian people ? there is something wrong here
sorry as a syrian i don’t buy it

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June 5th, 2015, 3:22 pm

 

173. ALAN said:

Joke of the day:”Democratic” US want to build democracy everywhere
some footage of the killing at least 18 civilians by a US Apache Helicopter?
https://youtu.be/QI-qBXcVVc0

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June 5th, 2015, 3:50 pm

 

174. Juergen said:

As the days are grim, here is a fresh greeting from a very famous Syrian.
For me the best shawayah there is…

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June 5th, 2015, 3:57 pm

 

175. El Chino said:

Memo to Akbario Palacio:

It’s Paul Bremer, not Brenner.

What GWB tried to do was introduce democracy into the Arab World by taking down the most hated man in the Middle East. He failed.

Saddam Hussein had the fourth-largest army in the world, which he used to kill and torture Iraqi Kurds and Shi’ites. He also used it to invade Kuwait and Iran. He had been dictator for over thirty years and had kept the lid on any dissent by use of terror and force. Every Iraqi Kurd and Shi’ite was waiting for him to die. Everybody knew that when Saddam died, the lid would blow sky-high.

Bush fast-forwarded the process. Without the US invasion, it might have been another ten years before Saddam either caught a bullet or died of, say, cancer. What happened after 2003, would have happened with or without Bush. There were all kinds of resistance movements in Iraq waiting for the day when the Baath party would be weakened.

Bush’s de-Baathification policy was the cornerstone of his attempt to introduce democracy to Iraqis. Now, we see it as a bad idea. But at the time, not having 20-20 hindsight, it made sense. The Baath party was modeled on the old Soviet politboro. As long as those people were left in control. it would be Saddam by another name. So the Baath Party was dismantled. And all those Baathists, stripped of their power, joined the rebellion.

But, if there never had been an invasion, the shitstorm would have happened anyway. It would have happened on Saddam’s death.

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June 5th, 2015, 6:04 pm

 

176. Juergen said:

Saving an Ancient ‘Lost’ City in War-torn Syria

A small band of Syrian villagers fight poverty, war, and the elements to protect an ancient site.

Amid the death, despair, and destruction that mark today’s Syria, there’s little good news for archaeologists and others who fear for the country’s remarkable cultural heritage. But in a windswept corner of the country, a dedicated group of local people is quietly protecting an important archaeological site, often at their own expense.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/06/150604-urkesh-syria-mozan-buccellati-archaeology/

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June 6th, 2015, 3:59 am

 

177. Altair said:

How could anyone believe that the US under Cheney/Bush or any other administration wanted to introduce democracy in the region? It is, to be polite, very naive to believe in this myth.

From the US overthrow of the democratically elected government of Syria in 1949 to the present time, the US has consistently opposed democracy in the region.

The promotion of democracy is just providing good cover for the plunder that is really taking place.

In this regard, the US government supports anyone, including Saddam, who is obedient. Saddam was actively supported in the 1980s by very much the same people who overthrew him in 2003. Donald Rumsfeld comes to mind. Once Saddam became disobedient, things changed.

When the US reconstituted Kuwait in 1991 for example, there was no talk of establishing democracy in Kuwait, but rather putting back in place “the legitimate government”.

The US consistently supports tyrannical rule. Every monarchical dictatorship in the Middle East is supported by the US, without exception.

The pro-democracy movement in Bahrain was opposed by the US, to the point that the the US-equipped Saudi military invaded and crushed it.

The US made little effort to support the democratic movement in Egypt, supported Mubarak until the last minute, and now supports the military dictatorship.

The US only uses “democracy” as a tool to oppose governments it does not like, namely disobedient ones.

It is a fantastic coup of propaganda, this myth that the US has supported democracy. It most definitely has not.

With regard to Syria, maybe that’s why the US failed so miserably in supporting pro-democracy activists until the situation got so out of hand and polarized.

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June 6th, 2015, 6:35 am

 

178. Akbar Palace said:

What GWB tried to do was introduce democracy into the Arab World by taking down the most hated man in the Middle East. He failed.

El Chino,

Correct. Not only did GWB fail, but so did the Iraqi people. GWB gave Iraq the opportunity, and it was squandered. Even today, Iraqis are retreating when they outnumber ISIS in personnel and firepower.

Personally, the US should have set up permanent bases in Iraq like those we have in Europe. And Obama needed to insure failure to prove his antiwar stance.

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June 6th, 2015, 8:01 am

 

179. Hopeful said:

#177 ALTAIR

“How could anyone believe that the US under Cheney/Bush or any other administration wanted to introduce democracy in the region?”

I do!

Democracy is the region is good for the US on several fronts:

– It means stability for the sources and routes of energy supplies – good for the global economy
– It means less religious radicalization – good for the west
– It means open capital-based economies – great for US corporations
– It means people with values in line with the American values – more friends

So strategically – almost all policy think tanks and experts believe that democracy in the Middle East is good for American and good for Americans.

The questions have always been: how hard should the US push for democracies in the region? Can the US force them? And how should the US deal with dictatorships?

GWB believed that the “old” US policy of tolerating dictators to ensure short-term stability was wrong. He believed that the US has the muscles and the know-how to force democracy on the Iraqis. Unfortunately, for the US and for the Arab region, he was wrong on both fronts. Had the US succeeded, we would all be better off, and by “we” I mean the entire world. The US’s failure in Iraq was good for theocratic Iran, Arab dictatorships, Iraqi corrupt politicians, radical Islamists and fascist Russia – all forces that worked hard against the US’s project!

The US’s success in Japan, Germany, South Korea, etc., has been good for everyone. The US does support democracies in the region – look no further than Israel and Turkey. The US does not support them because they are non-Arabs (Israel has over 20% Arab population and Turkey is an Islamic country) – it supports them because they are democracies.

So the myth is NOT that the “US supports democracy in the region” – the overwhelming majority of Arabs do not believe that. The myth is exactly the opposite – that the “US does NOT want democracy in the region”. This is the myth that most Arabs believe in. And around that myth tens of conspiracy theories have been created, propagated by the dark forces of radical islam, national ideologies and fascist dictatorships, and fueled by the ignorance and hate of the common people on the street.

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June 6th, 2015, 8:36 am

 

180. Akbar Palace said:

Hopeful,

Thanks for articulating what I’ve been trying to say for years!

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June 6th, 2015, 9:19 am

 

181. Alan said:

تكررت الثناءات و اصبح من الواجب منح الشريط البنفسجي لوضعه على المعصم

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June 6th, 2015, 10:08 am

 

182. Sami said:

Hopeful,

While technically yes democracy is good in the long term for America in the short term it goes against its own interest in the region. America is a staunch ally of the gulf kingdoms and does little to nothing in pushing for democratic reforms there. Their silence on the flogging of the Saudi blogger is clear. The Americans do not want instability and are willing to deal with tyrincal regimes so long as they buy American hardware and tow the line. Kissinger said it, there are no permanent allies for the U.S. Just permanent interests.

Iraq is no Japan, South Korea or Europe post WWII. There is no peace and prosperity there, yes the Iraqis have a large share of the blame however that does not overshadow US responsibility there. There are many blunders, from the lies to excuse the invasion, Abi Ghraib, Falluja, Halliburton, to the disbanding of state institutions and the army. All these had extreme negative effects on the region and helped pave the way for Daesh to rise.

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June 6th, 2015, 11:20 am

 

183. Hopeful said:

#182 Sami

The “stability first” axiom was challenged by GWB and the neocons, They lost the challenge due to the forces mentioned in my post above, in addition to the incompetency of the U.S. administration and the Iraqi leadership. Their “new Middle East” project was mocked and challenged by all the dark forces in the region, and the dark forces won – unfortunately. Rice’s “constructive chaos” comment became a mockery to show how the U.S. is bend on “creating chaos” in the region, when in fact she was explaining how the US should tolerate short-term instability in the region for the benefit of creating a better future for all in the long term. In short, we all missed a golden opportunity to take the Middle East in a better direction with the help of the US’s military and political muscles. What we now are getting is a US administration and a public who could care less about us, are ready to forget about us for good, and leave us to the evil of the dictators and the religious radicals.

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June 6th, 2015, 12:30 pm

 

184. Fahmein said:

Too much comical exchanges are in progress packaged as pseudo-arguments.

Destroying these pseudos is easy. The U.S. Doesn’t care about you, never cared about and that’s how reality is. You’re the only one who cares about YOU. Change must come from within and not according to some agenda prepared by outsiders.
Outsiders have interests. Their interests supersede caring about you. Any change which is enforced by outsiders by default will put the interests of the outsiders first.

I find you guys naive without exception.

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June 6th, 2015, 1:39 pm

 

185. El Chino said:

Fahmein – “I find you guys naive without exception…”

You’re the naive one, buddy boy. Name me one Iraqi leader in modern times (1922 to now) who put the people ahead of personal power and the interests of family/clan/tribe. You can’t. Every one of them was/is a mafia don in a keffiyeh. You want change, you need the outsiders. Otherwise, you’re gonna get the same old crap over and over…

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June 6th, 2015, 2:27 pm

 

186. Fahmein said:

So what?
You didn’t convince me that anyone cares about me more than me.

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June 6th, 2015, 2:50 pm

 

187. Sami said:

Hopeful,

Don’t miss understand me on the U.S. I am not regurgitating age old theories about America. I want America that when it liberated Japan helped build it to the developed democracy it is today. I agree with Akbar the U.S. Should’ve kept a permanent base in Iraq, it’s the first time in its history it has not done so, and although it was Bush that laid the ground work for full pull out of American forces from Iraq, Obama did nothing to reverse that and I am told that it could’ve been easily done had he actually wanted so. The same thing is happening in Afghanistan.

All am trying to say is that Iraq was a project squandered by Bush and abandoned by Obama. And all of this to the detriment of the region. A shame really.

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June 6th, 2015, 2:51 pm

 

188. ALAN said:

US Warplanes Strike Iraqi Army Bases in Fallujah, Kill 6 Soldiers
http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13940316001210

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June 6th, 2015, 4:55 pm

 

189. ALAN said:

Sleepwalking to Another Mideast Disaster
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article42058.htm

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June 6th, 2015, 5:11 pm

 

190. Jamal said:

Your discussion is not interesting at all. What matters is the partitioning of Syria in progress.

Now it’s all about Homs, till now both sides are not letting go of Homs.

The good news is that Damascus will be part of the new Monarchy Syria along with all access to fresh water, sea and Lebanon.

Getting rid of uneducated peasant/Bedouin Sunnah will drop the percentage of Sunnah in the new Syria to less than 35% Sunnah with 35% Alawites, 30% Other.

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June 6th, 2015, 5:17 pm

 

191. Akbar Palace said:

Sami said:

All am trying to say is that Iraq was a project squandered by Bush and abandoned by Obama. And all of this to the detriment of the region. A shame really.

Sami,

And at what point to we cast fault at the Iraqi people? The Iraqi government was dead set against an agreement for bases, and they took the relative calm after the surge and did nothing.

Even now they are abandoning towns where they outnumber ISIS. Why?

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June 6th, 2015, 5:34 pm

 

192. Jamal said:

No filthy Zionists allowed in the New Monarchy Syria. You can play and enjoy the cohabitation with Nusra and ISIS though.

Q: What is the difference between a Zionist and a professional criminal?
A: A professional criminal doesn’t make up lame excuses for things he denies doing.

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June 6th, 2015, 6:40 pm

 

193. Akbar Palace said:

Jamal,

You forget that the amount of refugees created by arab despots amounts to about 10 Nakbas. Save your anti-zionism for someone more worthy like Assad, Saddam, Gadafi ISIS,etc, etc.

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June 6th, 2015, 7:21 pm

 

194. Syrian said:

#169 Altair, you’re welcome.and thanks for you great reply to Akbar place.
To say that Bush/ Cheney went to Iraq to topple a tyrant and allow Iraqis to vote is laughable, it was all about Iraq’s oil and nothing more. When Bagdad fell the oil ministry was the only building that got protection while the mob was destroying everything else.

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June 6th, 2015, 7:37 pm

 

195. El Chino said:

“When Baghdad fell [in 2003], the oil ministry was the only building that got protection.”

Correct. There was looting and shooting everywhere else. One Canadian reporter interviewed a mob of Iraqis protesting against the US invasion. Here’s a segment:

…there are daily protests against the Americans. They are never more than a few hundred-strong but they get angrier as time goes by and the population remains without many basic needs. The demonstrators’ principal demand is a government made up of Iraqis and chosen by Iraqis.

“In the government I want Iraqi, not American, not British,” one of them yells over the sound of his comrades’ chanting.

Does he think it’s good that Saddam has gone, I ask.

“No. I need Saddam because I want to kill Saddam!”

Practically everyone wanted to kill Saddam. Saddam knew he was hated. He didn’t care. There’s a story about a woman who cursed him after he had her husband and two sons executed. He said to her, “Do not think you will get revenge. If you ever have the chance, by the time you get to me there will not be a sliver of flesh left on my body.”

Still, when he had some ancient buildings in Babylon restored, he had “Saddam Hussein built this” stamped on every brick. He expected that one thousand years in the future, researchers would dig them up and write about him the way they write about Hammurabi now…

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June 6th, 2015, 8:07 pm

 

196. Jamal said:

Go away you filthy Zionist, soon enough the popular resistance wings will liberate the occupied Golan heights.

Q: Why did the Zionist cross the road?
A: To occupy the other side.

Q: What did the Zionist answer, on his job application form, when asked about his desired occupation?
A: Occupation!

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June 6th, 2015, 8:33 pm

 

197. El Chino said:

Hey, Jammie. Good to see they let you out of the dog pound. Akbar and I were talking about you, wondering if something had happened. Good to know you’re safe and sound, and that you still have your sense of humor.

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June 6th, 2015, 9:12 pm

 

198. Jamal said:

EL CHINO

Thanks for checking in. I’m safe and sound in an awesome country but my heart and soul goes out to the heroes of Syria Arab Army who are writing our victory with golden ink in the book of glory.

Is Akbar holding on tight to your pocket these days?

Q: Which Zionist film is most likely to win an Oscar?
A: The Great Terrain Robbery, starring Sean Con-nery and Donald Smother-land.

Q: Why did the Zionist claim to own your home?
A: You couldn’t prove that it was in your family’s possession 2,000 years ago, so it must be his to claim.

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June 6th, 2015, 11:19 pm

 

199. passerby said:

The deal has always been that IS/ISIS/Al-Qaeda in Iraq/Zarqawi/Saddam Regime gets eastern Syria and the Assad crime syndicate gets the big cities and Alawite heartland.

Saddam created IS/ISIS/Al-Qaeda in Iraq/Zarqawi, but Assad made it’s resurgence possible after GW and the Iraqi people crushed them.

The incompetence, the corruption and bigotry of the Iraqi Shiites didn’t help but that was just stupidity, Assad it was intentional.

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June 7th, 2015, 12:04 am

 

200. Juergen said:

Why Boat Refugees Don’t Fly!

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June 10th, 2015, 3:00 am

 

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