How Vladimir Putin became evil

Interesting article by Tariq Ali in The Guardian. After winding down of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, is Industrial Military Complex trying to prop up a new frontier in Ukraine and wooing Russia into military race? Excerpts:

“Once again, it seems that Russia and the United States are finding it difficult to agree on how to deal with their respective ambitions. This clash of interests is highlighted by the Ukrainian crisis. The provocation in this particular instance, as the leaked recording of a US diplomat, Victoria Nuland, saying “Fuck the EU” suggests, came from Washington.

Several decades ago, at the height of the cold war, George Kennan, a leading American foreign policy strategist invited to give the Reith Lectures, informed his audience: “There is, let me assure you, nothing in nature more egocentric than embattled democracy. It soon becomes the victim of its own propaganda. It then tends to attach to its own cause an absolute value which distorts its own vision … Its enemy becomes the embodiment of all evil. Its own side is the centre of all virtue.”

And so it continues. Washington knows that Ukraine has always been a delicate issue for Moscow. The ultra-nationalists who fought with the Third Reich during the second world war killed 30,000 Russian soldiers and communists. They were still conducting a covert war with CIA backing as late as 1951. Pavel Sudoplatov, a Soviet intelligence chief, wrote in 1994: “The origins of the cold war are closely interwoven with western support for nationalist unrest in the Baltic areas and western Ukraine.”

When Gorbachev agreed the deal on German reunification, the cornerstone of which was that united Germany could remain in Nato, US secretary of state Baker assured him that “there would be no extension of Nato’s jurisdiction one inch to the east”. Gorbachev repeated: “Any extension of the zone of Nato is unacceptable.” Baker’s response: “I agree.” One reason Gorbachev has publicly supported Putin on theCrimea is that his trust in the west was so cruelly betrayed.

As long as Washington believed that Russian leaders would blindly do its bidding (which Yeltsin did blind drunk) it supported Moscow. Yeltsin’s attack on the Russian parliament in 1993 was justified in the western media. The wholesale assaults on Chechnya by Yeltsin and then by Putin were treated as a little local problem with support from George Bush and Tony Blair. “Chechnya isn’t Kosovo,” said Blair after his meeting with Putin in 2000. Tony Wood’s book, Chechnya: The Case for Independence, provides chapter and verse of what the horrors that were inflicted on that country. Chechnya had enjoyed de facto independence from 1991-94. Its people had observed the speed with which the Baltic republics had been allowed independence and wanted the same for themselves.

Instead they were bombarded. Grozny, the capital, was virtually reduced to dust as 85 percent of its housing was destroyed. In February 1995 two courageous Russian economists, Andrey Illarionov and Boris Lvin published a text in Moscow News arguing in favour of Chechen independence and the paper (unlike its Western counterparts) also published some excellent critical reports that revealed atrocities on a huge scale, eclipsing the siege of Sarajevo and the massacre in Srebrenica. Rape, torture, homeless refugees and tens of thousands dead was the fate of the Chechens. No problem here for Washington and its EU allies.”

posted by F. Sheikh

Confessions of a Secret Muslim? Experience of a young women post 9/11

Confessions of a secret Muslim

                            For 12 years, I hid my true identity from friends. I escaped discrimination – but I began to hate myself


Topics:                                              Life stories,                                              Muslim Americans,                                              Editor’s Picks,                                              Islam,

Confessions of a secret MuslimEnlarge A photo of the author as a girl.

I didn’t pray much as a child. Sometimes I would copy my grandmother as she prayed toward Mecca. I remember the ritual: bow down, come back up, bow down, looking to both sides while twirling my right fingers. Then she would pick me up with a sheet tied around her waist and carry me over to the neighborhood park, where we would lie down in the grass. This is all a dream to me now. A time when an elderly woman with a hijab and her granddaughter wouldn’t get stared at for being a Muslim.

Back then, I felt like an ordinary child. Ours wasn’t a religious family, besides celebrating Eid-al-Fitr and Ramadan. “Muslim” wasn’t my identity. It was my faith. I was an American.

But my identity crumbled when the Twin Towers fell. I was 8 years old, in third grade, and I was as frantic as any kid would be that day, trying to understand why so many children had to lose their mothers and fathers. I couldn’t imagine their pain.

“You’re a terrorist!” said my best friend in the hallways of our elementary school, pointing at me, his innocent eyes turned menacing. I couldn’t believe it. But this was the start of a new life for me.

That year was hell. Friends distanced themselves. Teachers became mean. Such alienation was normal for me and surely millions of Muslims worldwide in those years. Fearing discrimination and violent attacks, my family changed our last name. “Harvard” was a slice of Americana; a far cry from our original surname. My parents wanted to protect my sister and me, but elementary school teachers and kids knew exactly what had happened, and our situation only became worse. In my silence, lies continued to grow.

In sixth grade, a teaching assistant gathered all the students around the classroom for the last lesson of the day.

“Islam is an evil religion. Muslims all around the world kill innocent, non-Muslim people,” she said. “In their holy book, they said that all good Muslim children must kill kids like you.”

I wanted to say something. I wanted to speak out, because I knew that wasn’t true. I wanted to tell her that I would never hurt my best friends or any living thing, and that there are more than a billion Muslims who are loving and kind.

But I had no power. I was a child, a Muslim one, and she was an adult with authority. What voice did I have?

That year I moved to a new school about an hour away. It was the perfect opportunity to start over and pretend to be somebody I was not. I completely disregarded my faith publicly as a Muslim — and my real life undercover began.


Living as a fraud is exhausting. It’s exhausting to your mind, body and soul. It seemed like people asked me most about my faith when I kept it a secret. My father taught me how to reply:

“What do you say when someone asks what is your religion?” asked my dad.

“That there is no god but God,” I replied.

“Nooooo,” with his elongated gasp of disapproval, “you say that you are seeking the truth.”

Strangely enough, inside our house, the opposite was happening. With persecutions of Muslim-Americans at an all-time high, my father pushed our family to learn more about our faith. My parents never missed a single day of prayer. I would wake up in the middle of the night and go downstairs for a glass of water only to hear the booming voice of the Qu’ran over our Bose stereo. My parents started playing it on a loop to protect us from any hardship or “evil,” and they still do it to this day.

But hiding like this comes at a great cost. I didn’t have close friends, because I feared discovery and didn’t think anyone could ever understand. Elementary school had taught me the cost of exposure. I could not trust anyone with my deepest, darkest secret.

I was a freshman in college when I first came close to being discovered. My friends and I were about to order late-night pizza.

“Hey Sarah, you want a slice of pepperoni?” said my friend.

“Nah, I’m good. Thanks, though,” I said.

“Wait, you don’t eat pork?” he asked.

I tried to cover my tracks. “Nah, I just don’t like it.”

“Wait, are you a Muslim?”

I panicked. I didn’t know what to do. Should I finally embrace it? Would I lose my friends over this? Why can’t I just let it go? All those thoughts were rushing through my head. Luckily, the conversation was hijacked by some loud drunk running through the hallways. Crisis averted.

Fast-forward to the summer of 2013 when I had a journalism internship in Washington D.C. I was excited to be working in the same city as the White House, amid the action of the nation’s capital. And it was going great, until I realized the journalism industry wasn’t exempt from outdated bigotry. We were discussing a potential story about the rise of Mormonism one day, and I was alarmed to hear the typical uneducated jokes from staffers about polygamy and bountiful offspring. I was trying to set the record straight, when someone mentioned Islam.

Another intern looked right at me and said, “Well, I would rather Muslims didn’t reproduce.”

That wasn’t the only time. When discussions came up about social justice and the Middle East, I often heard that old toss-off — “Oh, Muslims cause all the problems in the world.” It made me so uncomfortable; I never went to parties or social events hosted by the publication.

Meanwhile, I began to feel like more of a coward for failing to embrace who I was. My family told me to hush and stay quiet when bigotry or false claims about Muslims were made. But I couldn’t anymore – it was no longer my nature to keep silent.

For the longest time, I was thankful for my multi-ethnic background and Japanese-like physical appearance – no one would assume I was a Muslim. It allowed me to “pass.” And it kept me shielded from frightened stares and airport security checkpoint probes. But my freedom from direct discrimination was starting to make me hate myself.

Looking in the mirror, I had grown sick of my long round face, small plump lips and slightly slanted eyes. I was disgusted by my Mediterranean golden skin tone, the light features that set me apart from the stereotypical Muslim. I hated how I had allowed my thick black locks to flow freely, never eliciting flashes of anger from a stranger, because I hid my faith by exposing my hair.

I was a cop-out, a sell-out. I became depressed and angry at myself – I still am – for staying silent while I watched these injustices occur before me and felt only relief to have escaped consequence. I never gave consideration to those who were brave enough to embrace their own Muslim identity.

Hiding your identity erases your most cherished memories – as if it’s forbidden or dangerous to remember a time when you were free to express who you truly were as an individual. Hiding my identity made me hate myself and made me feel like an example of all that is wrong with the world. I had run away from my true self.

One day, I sat on a bus stop in front of the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C. A Muslim woman wearing a hijab sat right next to me, and I felt ashamed. This woman was a true rebel, fighting against the injustices of society simply by wearing a headscarf that displays her love for Islam and Allah. And here I was, scared of my own identity. I couldn’t do it anymore.

So last November, I came out of my Islamic closet via Facebook. I was tired of hearing criticism about Muslim-Americans within my friend circle. The accusations that all Muslim women are oppressed and that they ought to be liberated from their hijab outraged me. The ongoing raids and wiretappings at mosques made me fearful for the elimination of our liberties and freedom of religion. The continued injustices against Muslim-Americans by the Transportation Security Administration goes on every single day, and I have said nothing. The cowardice that steered 12 years of my life could not let me sleep at night.

I was disappointed by a few friends’ reactions. One raised his eyebrows in a way that expressed his silent disapproval. Another said, “It’s OK. You assimilate, so you’re a cool Muslim,” as if the millions of other Muslims in the world aren’t “cool,” because they choose to remain faithful to their religion.

But I had so many friends who were kind and understanding. They didn’t think any differently of me. And those are the friendships that remain true.

And so now, I am proud to say that my name is Sarah. The name I carry is the name of Abraham’s first wife and the mother of Isaac – the descendent of the Hebrews. I am so blessed to be able to say that Islam is my religion and that the Qu’ran is my conscience.  Therefore, I am proud to stand up tall and to say loud and clear that I bear witness that there is no god but God – And I bear witness that Prophet Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

Salaam Alaikum – May peace be with you.

Sarah Harvard                        Sarah Harvard is the founder of FreeCulture and is the former Editor-in-Chief at DL Magazine. She has an interest in US-Middle East Relations, national security, identity and culture in America. You can follow more of her work at


‘ Clash of Old Egos & New World Order in Ukraine’ By Fayyaz Sheikh


Mr. Vladimir Putin, and to a large extent Russian citizens are longing for old glory and respect worthy of world power, which faded away with the fall of Soviet Union.  Russia was gradually cornered by the West by absorbing the newly independent republics into EU and NATO.  Ukraine , which has large ethnic Russian population, turned out to be the last straw. Ukraine debacle raises some interesting questions;

Was the West overzealous in encircling the Russia by taking in some former Soviet republics in EU and NATO and making Russia impatient and nervous about its security?

Would any other country, with the same military power and veto power in UN’ have behaved differently than Russia under similar circumstances?

How it will impact future world affairs and alliances?

Did the West lost a golden chance of bringing Russia into Western style democracy and a free market economy?

I think the West overplayed their hand by having some former Soviet republics, even some financially bankrupt, join the EU and NATO. It not only made Russia nervous but some of these republics have become a financial burden on EU and hardly has any capacity to contribute much militarily to NATO. What is the purpose of having these former Soviet republics join the EU/NATO except warding off Russia? If the objective was to have a democratic independent governments in these countries, it could have been achieved by helping them by economic trade and building democratic institutions without having them join the EU/NATO. It would have lured even Russia more towards the Western Democratic values and free market economy rather than scaring it away. 

Ukraine is the most corrupt, both morally and financially, country which the EU was trying to bring in its fold. This time the Russia did not buy the assurances by the West that Ukraine will not be asked to join the NATO.  Although Russia’s annexation of Crimea is a condemnable act, but it is not entirely baseless as the West has us believe. Crimea was part of Russia and given to Ukraine in 1954 by a Ukrainian, Soviet President Khuruchiev. Before that, it was allied to Ottoman Empire and was cleansed of Tartars in Stalin era. Russia’s use of aggression and force in Ukraine is no different than what we have seen , especially in the last few decades, USA , EU  and allies used in violating the sovereignty of other free and independent countries. Our credibility in this regard is on thin ice.  

Our strategy to lure these former Soviet republics, including morally corrupt and financially bankrupt republics, join EU/NATO has been self-defeating. Russia was already a fading military power and our extension of NATO was un-necessary. We are also forgetting that the present Ukraine Government has some ultra-extreme far right nationalists in its ranks. These are like the Freedom Fighters of Afghanistan who later became terrorists. Mr. Kenan Malik writes about these elements in one of his article;

“While the overthrow of Yanukovich was clearly no fascist putsch, the new government is, nevertheless, disproportionately influenced by the far right.  Representatives of two neo-fascist parties, Svoboda and Pravy Sektor, now occupy seven ministerial posts, including that of deputy prime minister and national security.

Svoboda (‘freedom’) is a party that traces its roots to a Second World War partisan army allied to the Nazis and, till it rebranded itself in 2004, was known as the Social National Party. It is part of the far-right Alliance of European National Movements, whose members include the  British National Party, Jobbik, the Hungarian neo-fascist, anti-Semitic organisation and the French Front National.  Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok has denounced in parliament the ‘Muscovite-Jewish mafia’; in 2005 he published an open letter calling for the government to halt the ‘criminal activities’ of ‘organised Jewry’, which was working to commit ‘genocide’ against the Ukrainian people.”


 We are at crossroads where the West needs the Russia and China’s co-operation to resolve difficult issues like Iran and Syria. It is possible that it will be start of new world order where Russia will turn toward East and Asia, courting China and India and other Asian countries. But West’s economic as well as military power will be hard to ignore. Economic power will count more than Military power. China is hesitant to openly support Russia because of its economic ties to West. This hesitancy will stop other countries, like India, also to openly ally with Russia against the West.

Ukraine will become the West’s problem, unstable with financial and ethnic problems as Eastern Ukraine still has large Russian population. If Ukraine joins the EU, it will further alienate Russia and it will hunker down with old ways. Financial sanctions will bite Russia, but it will bite Europe also which depends on Russian gas reserves. Russia with significant Military power and Veto power in UN, can still make West’s life hard and difficult in world affairs by acting as a spoiler, and some other aggrieved countries may join Russia to settle their own scores.

If the aim of the West was to spread democracy and free market economy in the former Soviet Republics and Russia, it may have hit a brick wall due to short sighted and testosterone driven policy of having these former soviet Republics join NATO. Soft power of ideas would have achieved better results in the long run than current power dependent policies of the West. 

From Mujahid Mirza’s Poems From Moscow: Quagmire of Being



The light,

If you are not conscious,

Does not exist

Even if there are thousands

of stars.


The light in fact

Is consciousness:

Eyes can only see objects

If one is conscious of them.


If the beginning is dark

And the eyes may be many,

There is nothing to see

Except extreme agony!


If the eyes are wide open

But consciousness closed,

All we can accept

Is the disgrace of viewing!


Of course, to be blind is not good,

But nothing is worse than

to be consciousness blind,

Making things adverse altogether.

by: Dr. Mojahid Mirza