Gov. Douye Diri, others celebrate Nigerian fallen hero, Isaac Boro

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Major Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro, fondly called “Boro”, was a Nigerian nationalist, Ijaw, and soldier. He was one of the pioneers of minority rights activism in Nigeria. He was many parts and different things to different people – a university students leader, a teacher, policeman and Nigerian army officer.

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Tony Allen: the Afrobeat pioneer’s 10 finest recordings | Music | The Guardian

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Listen to a playlist of Ammar’s selections:

Fela Kuti: Roforofo Fight (Roforofo Fight, 1972)




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Roforofo Fight is the earliest cohesive expression of Tony Allen and saxophonist Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat sound: part Yoruba polyrhythm, part Nigerian highlife melody, part calypso swing, and all shuffling swagger. Allen and Kuti had been playing together for the best part of eight years at this point, mixing highlife and jazz, but a 1969 trip to the US proved pivotal, exposing Kuti to the radicalism of the Black Panther movement and leading to the formulation of his militant aesthetic Africa ‘70 band. On the title track of Kuti’s second album to be recorded after the trip, Allen takes centre stage with his undulating groove, slapping the snare on the jaunty offbeats to counter Kuti’s forceful diction. An enticing taste of things to come.

Fela Kuti: Water No Get Enemy (Expensive Shit, 1975)




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Afrobeat rhythms seem deceptively simple: a steadily paced, off-kilter shuffle that holds the beat without succumbing to the western convention of landing the snare on the third beat of the bar. Try to play an Allen line, though, and you soon realise how much ghosting and embellishment is going on below the surface – doubles splayed on the first note of a phrase, kick drums scattered throughout. And yet, the groove remains even when it feels like it might fall apart. Water No Get Enemy is the perfect example: a hip-swaying mid-tempo horn line sits atop Allen’s liquid shuffle while Kuti uses the amorphous imagery of water to outline methods of resistance to Nigeria’s reactionary government.

Fela Kuti: Zombie (Zombie, 1976)




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By the mid 70s, Kuti’s politics of resistance was reaching its peak. Zombie was its most forceful expression, Kuti’s lyrics characterising the violent Nigerian army as mindless zombies. You can feel the force of his frustration through his blistering saxophone as it meanders over the highlife guitar line, while Allen’s snappy, shaker-heavy rhythm is the ever-reliable foundation for Kuti’s social message. The song’s success in Nigeria was not without consequences, leading to a severe beating for Kuti, the torching of his studio and his elderly mother being thrown from a window and killed.

Tony Allen: Nepa (Never Expect Power Always, 1984)

Kuti had a domineering relationship to his bandmates, demanding all recording royalties for himself despite Allen’s role as musical director. As the 70s wore on and the group’s popularity increased, so did the dissent in its ranks. By 1979, Allen had recorded three albums as bandleader and so decided to leave the ‘Africa 70, taking many of its members with him. The greatest recording of his new era is 1984’s Nepa – an attack on the notoriously unreliable Nigerian Electrical Power Authority. Here Allen continues Kuti’s lineage of playful socio-political criticism, this time updating the Afrobeat sound to include dub-inflected electronics and fusion funk. It would become representative of Allen’s all-encompassing musical appetite in the years to come.

The Good, the Bad & the Queen: The Good, the Bad & the Queen (The Good, the Bad & the Queen, 2007)

As the 90s continued and Allen was establishing himself as an architect of Afrobeat in his own right, especially in the wake of Kuti’s 1997 death, his own genre-eating journey was evolving further into electronics and collaboration. A longtime fan of the genre, Damon Albarn enlisted Allen for his supergroup, The Good, the Bad & the Queen, featuring the Clash’s Paul Simonon on bass and the Verve’s Simon Tong on guitar. The sprawling title track is the closest we see Allen to cutting loose behind the kit and producing an unabashed rock sound behind Tong’s voluminous closing solo – a testament to his energetic versatility.

Moritz von Oswald: Sounding Line 1 (Sounding Lines, 2015)




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Perhaps the strangest and least well-known of Allen’s collaborations is that with the techno producer Moritz von Oswald, who replaced his longtime drummer Vladislav Delay with Allen for his 2015 album Sounding Lines. Allen produces a truly remarkable sound: a warped and manipulated series of electronics. The opening track sees Allen superimpose an Afrobeat shuffle on to a wobbly dub that builds over 10 minutes to create a simmering, electro dancefloor odyssey.

Tony Allen: A Night in Tunisia (A Tribute to Art Blakey and the Messengers, 2017)




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Allen’s first love was always jazz and he referenced throughout his life the work of rhythmic mastermind Max Roach and explosive powerhouse Art Blakey as major influences. This 2017 Blue Note recording was a welcome opportunity for Allen to finally delve into those roots and lay down his own interpretations. Across its four tracks Allen tackles some of Blakey’s best-loved tunes, like a straight-eighths Moanin’, but his Afrobeat-inflected Night in Tunisia is a work of genius, transforming the horn line into a punchy, driving vamp.

Tony Allen: Wolf Eats Wolf (The Source, 2017)




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Continuing his jazz explorations, Allen delivered his first album of original compositions as a bandleader for legendary jazz label Blue Note. The culmination of his decades of musical exploration, it interweaves metallic electronics with warm percussion, bright horn lines and that ever-present drum language. On Wolf Eats Wolf, Allen is comfortably experimental, putting a Synclavier to work over a highlife guitar line and Kuti-referencing horns to create an eminently danceable new jazz standard.

Tony Allen and Jeff Mills: Locked and Loaded (Tomorrow Comes the Harvest, 2018)




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Never one to be pigeonholed, on 2018’s Tomorrow Comes the Harvest Allen paired up with techno wizard Jeff Mills to further the electronic experiments he had begun with Von Oswald. Largely formulated for modular live performances, the record has a wonderfully loose, improvisatory feel. It hits its stride on the propulsive Locked and Loaded as Allen’s shuffle dissipates into white noise beneath Mills’s distorting sub bass. Even in the grid-work of Mills’ techno, Allen manages to swing.

Tony Allen and Hugh Masekela: Never (Lagos Never Gonna Be The Same) (Rejoice, 2020)




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In 2010, Allen paired up with trumpeter Hugh Masekela, a longtime collaborator and giant of South African jazz. Rejoice was released a decade later, following Masekela’s death in 2018, and now stands as Allen’s last released recording. As its title indicates, the album is a sun-dappled, joyous listening experience celebrating both artists’ effortless ability to make us shake a leg. Never (Lagos Never Gonna Be The Same) plays as an homage to Kuti and it serves as a perfect reminder that although our musical greats ultimately pass on, their legacy lies in each note, ready and willing to be dusted off, played and reinterpreted all over again.

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Bagpipe-playing Canadian turns up at long-lost uncle’s home on Christmas Day – Nottinghamshire Live

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A Long Eaton man has described his shock at the moment a long-lost relative turned up at his home playing the bagpipes.

Tom Russell of Long Eaton had a Christmas Day he will never forget, when his half nephew flew in all the way from Canada to surprise him.

The 74-year-old told Derbyshire Live he began researching his family tree after he retired in 2010.

After finding a distant relative through Facebook, he had no idea of what lay in store.

He said: “Over the years I was successful in finding most of my relatives in the UK, Ireland and Italy, with the help of family members and, of course, the Internet.

“The one missing part was my father’s family, and all I had was the fact he was in the Canadian army during WW2, and based in England.”

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The former Royal Mail worker said his father Thomas Hutchinson, who was his half nephew’s grandfather, fought in both world wars.

Mr Hutchinson had moved to Canada from Dundee after the end of the First World War before returning to Britain close to the start of the Second World War.

After Mr Russell was born, his father was unable to take him back to Canada and after his mother lost her job, he was adopted in Britain.

With the help of his daughter, Mr Russell managed to use Facebook to make contact with someone in Canada using his father’s military rank of Regimental Sergeant Major.

bagpipe player

Through “discreet enquiries” to the contact – who was in fact his half nephew Brian Hutchinson – he found “various small details and dates (about his father) matched”.

Mr Russell added: “As the contact was now very intrigued, I revealed the reason for my veiled questioning, at which point he became very excited as he had for some years thought there was something he didn’t know.

“We investigated further to the point we did a DNA test which proved a perfect match.”

But for Mr Russell, the “biggest shock” was yet to come.

On Christmas Day 2019, Mr Russell’s half nephew, Brian Hutchinson, now in his 60s, turn up outside his front door playing the bagpipes, having flown in overnight from Toronto.

The pair then celebrated New Year’s Eve together before Mr Hutchinson went off to visit different areas in England, including Nottingham and York. Before heading home to Woodstock, Ontario, he is planning to visit London.

Watching the “accomplished” bagpipe player arrive was almost too much for Mr Russell who said he “virtually collapsed in a heap”.

“I’m still very emotional about it,” he said. “The rest of the family were in on it whilst I was kept in the dark like a mushroom.”

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NJ school teacher yells at students she hopes they die ‘painful death’ from coronavirus for playing at park

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Virtue-signaling vigilantes of “Coronaville” are out there roaming the streets looking for victims.

In Trenton, NJ, one such patrolling, self-appointed warden of the peace was caught on video screaming at a group of teens playing football in a park and telling them she hopes they “get coronavirus” and “die a long, painful death.”

The most interesting thing about it all is that the woman is a long-time public school math teacher at Steinert High School in Trenton.

According to The Trentonian, Nicole Griggs has been a school teacher in the district for 15 years, including time at a local middle school. A freshman at Steinert told the reporter that he and a group of friends were playing ball on Thursday when Griggs began to yell at them from behind a fence.

Watch for yourself …

One of the students filmed the incident and posted it to Snapchat. Another student shared the clip on TikTok with a caption of “Y’all Mrs Griggs is losing her damn mind how tf is she a teacher #coronavirus.”

Griggs, who was recognized by the students and according to property records lives close by the park, was apparently out walking her dog when she came upon the heinous display of juvenile lawlessness on the playing field.

The captured video shows the teacher asking them if they need her to yell “loud enough so you can hear me over your music. Parks closed. You will get arrested if the cops come.”

“Wait, can we go over there?” one of the teens asks before Griggs loses her grip.

“Parks closed,” she yelled. “The whole area. Get it through your thick head.”

From there, she blamed the kids for the pandemic.

“You are the reason we are in this situation,” she accused. “You are the problem, not the solution.”

At that point, she seemed to notice that she was being recorded. Rather than using a logical, reasoned approach one might expect from a mathematics practitioner, Griggs went all polynomial on the young people.

“Go ahead keep recording. Who are you going to show it to? Post me on social media,” she yelled. “You’re the idiot doing the wrong thing. I’m just trying to save your ass and save your life. But die, OK? I hope both of you get the coronavirus. I hope you both die a long, painful death.”

Nice.

The Steinert freshman told the newspaper that Griggs threatened to call police and that a cop did show up and warned them to leave the park. They did leave and they said that they now know it was wrong to be there. Nonetheless, he said that he was shocked that a teacher would say that she wished death on them.

“When she said that, I was shocked,” the student said. “I didn’t know someone would say something like that, especially a teacher. She should be smarter with her words.”

Trenton Mayor Jeff Martin was made aware of the video and said that nobody should be “wishing death or harm on people.”

“This is a very serious thing,” he said. “We’ve got at least 50 people who have actually died from it, 50 families. It’s not something to joke around about. Teacher or not, it’s unacceptable.”

The paper noted that the township had at that point a total of 724 cases of COVID-19 and 51 deaths.

Schools superintendent Scott Rocco commented that the district will investigate. “We will address the issue immediately,” he said.

Griggs a serial quarantine enforcer?

The Trentonian found evidence that Griggs apparently has a habit of trying to intimidate others into lockdown compliance. Earlier in the month, Griggs proudly posted to Facebook that she had “wished illness on” a young couple with a two- to three-year old daughter for daring to allow the girl to use a slide at a local park’s jungle gym.

The paper reported:

In an April 6 post on the Facebook page of Nikki Leigh, which Griggs appears to operate under an alias, she says: “We are surrounded by idiots!!!!!! Rode our bikes near Kuser Park this afternoon and what to [sic] we see but a younger couple with their daughter maybe 2/3 years old UNDOING the caution tape around the jungle gym so she could slide. I totally called them out on it, wished illness on them and commented that it was scary to even think they were parents. Their response: ‘We were going to put it back.’”

Staff Writer

Victor Rantala is an Army vet who lives in Minnesota, he is a former intelligence analyst and business owner, and is an NRA Life member who is officially retired but has yet to slow his roll.

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President Mnangagwa & General Chiwenga fight gets serious, Chris Mutsvangwa attacks Chiwenga (PIC) | My Zimbabwe News

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ally Chris Mutsvangwa ranted against Vice President Constantino Chiwenga in a chance encounter with the MDC leader, Nelson Chamisa, ZimLive can reveal.

The shock development comes as the Zanu PF Youth League has recently become vocal against “cartels”, seen as a precursor to an all-out war with Chiwenga by first targeting his financial backer, Kudakwashe Tagwirei, an influential player in the petroleum industry.

Chamisa was at the Robert Mugabe International Airport on January 29 ahead of a trip to South Africa when he came across the chairman of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association who was also at the airport on undisclosed business.

Two sources who witnessed the encounter said Mutsvangwa initially requested a photo to be taken with Chamisa, before launching into an unrestrained attack on Chiwenga, Mnangagwa’s ambitious deputy.

“He told Chamisa to disengage from Chiwenga, stating that the former army general was claiming influence that he did not have, both in the military and Zanu PF,” one source said.

Chamisa reportedly expressed surprise that Mutsvangwa was associating him with Chiwenga, remarking: “You are donating me to Chiwenga, and Chiwenga donates me to you. Which is which?”

Mutsvangwa did not care who was listening, another source who witnessed the encounter said. The war vets chief, said the source, appeared convinced that Chamisa was open to a political alliance with Chiwenga.

“He was particularly dismissive of Chiwenga, questioning his fitness for higher office,” the source, who had just walked over to greet Chamisa, told ZimLive.

Referring to Chiwenga’s nasty divorce from his former model wife, Marry Mubaiwa, Mutsvangwa told Chamisa: “Don’t be fooled by a man who has a pr0stitute running rings around him.”

Chamisa reportedly asked “who’s the pr0stitute, and who’s the man?” before the two men separated, both laughing.

The encounter reveals deepening divisions in Zanu PF, with two distinct factions – one led by Mnangagwa and the other by General Chiwenga – each seeking to take decisive control of the party before the next elections in 2023.

Chiwenga was the army general who led a coup against the former late president Robert Mugabe in November 2017. He recalled Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former deputy, from exile to make him president in a bid to sanitise the coup.

But the two men have differed sharply after Mnangagwa claimed victory in a presidential election in August 2018 by just over 35,000 votes. Chiwenga’s camp says the 76-year-old Zanu PF leader is unelectable and has failed to effectively run the country, imperilling their project with the lurking dangers of a popular uprising or annihilation in a future election.

Mnangagwa, through his son Emmerson Junior, has reportedly engaged the Zanu PF Youth League to push back against Chiwenga.

Youth League deputy secretary Lewis Matutu and Godfrey Tsenengamu, the political commissar, have taken to social media to launch thinly-veiled attacks on Sakunda Holdings boss, Tagwirei, believed to be Chiwenga’s moneyman.

Tagwirei, the local partner of global commodities trader, Trafigura, is accused of running a near monopoly in the petroleum industry and fleecing the state through the opaque Command Agriculture scheme run by Sakunda.

A parliamentary committee says agriculture ministry officials have failed to account for US$3 billion expenditure on the scheme, and Tagwirei has refused to testify before parliament.

Writing on Facebook on January 29, Matutu said: “How can a few individuals prosper on majority’s tears?”

Avoiding naming Tagwirei, he added in another post on January 31: “We will be judged by our deeds as a generation. Personally, l refuse to be amongst the cursed ones simply because l would have ignored evil things happening whilst watching and right now l have an opportunity to make things right #cartelsmustfall.”

Tsenengamu, also taking to Facebook, said: “We will pay the price, either for fighting the blood-sucking cartels or for smiling at them while they suffocate us. I choose to fight.”

Tsenengamu said Zimbabwe was being destroyed “not by those few who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing something positive.”

“Monday is the day #CartelsMustFall,” he wrote on January 31, hinting strongly that the Youth League would pursue some action soon.

Zanu PF sources told ZimLive that Matutu was also personally angry after recently going to the party’s secretary for administration, Obert Mpofu, to demand that he be issued a Toyota Land Cruiser “like all other politburo secretaries”, and being rebuffed.

All Zanu PF secretaries in the politburo had Land Cruisers purchased for them by Tagwirei, and if Matutu had been granted his wish, the party would have turned to the Sakunda boss who has used his vast fortune to buy influence.

The convergence between Matutu and Tsenengamu has surprised some, who say the two men have rarely been aligned.

“It shouldn’t surprise anyone, however, because Tsenengamu will do anything for money or a voucher. He’s shamelessly unscrupulous. For a thousand dollars, he would slap the president, he’s that sort of guy,” a member of the Youth League said.

Mnangagwa’s son, Emmerson Junior, is reportedly pulling the financial strings on the Youth League to do his father’s bidding.

Mnangagwa has identified Tagwirei – whose accounts were temporarily frozen by the Reserve Bank last year over allegations that he was manipulating the local currency – as the power behind Chiwenga, and hopes by targeting him, he would leave his 63-year-old deputy financially weaker and unable to mount any challenge to his rule.

The Zanu PF leader has, since taking power in 2017, been reorganising the military top brass and retiring other senior officers in moves aimed at diminishing Chiwenga’s influence.

The Zimbabwe Independent reported on Friday that “an unsettled Mnangagwa” had made moves to “coup-proof” his regime by changing the commanders of the Presidential Guard, the infantry battalion which, together with the Mechanised Brigade, played a critical role in the 2017 military coup that toppled Mugabe.

The Presidential Guard, responsible for providing protection to the president and securing Harare, is a specialised force trained to fight in built up areas. It consists of two battalions, the 1 PG Battalion commonly known as State House Battalion, and the 2 PG Battalion situated in Dzivaresekwa.

Mnangagwa has named Lieutenant-Colonel Alison Chicha as the commander of 2 PG Battalion, replacing Lieutenant-Colonel Regis Mangezi, who moves over to command the 1 PG Battalion. Mangezi takes over from Lieutenant-Colonel Solomon Murombo, removed from the unit after he clashed with Mnangagwa’s wife – an incident caught on a leaked audio tape.

Mnangagwa’s wife, Auxillia, accused Murombo of spying on her and plotting to kill the president. Her outburst betrayed the first family’s fears and concerns about their security. Murombo has been shunted off to Zimbabwe Defence House, the military headquarters.

— ZimLive

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Fake Military Personnel hack Female lover to Death in Yola

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Amos Yau

Residents of Bachure in Jimeta-Yola, Adamawa state capital were again thrown into mourning and despair a 23-year-old, Patience Amos Ya’u was reported to have been hacked to death by her boyfriend during a scuffle that ensued while they were alone in a room.

She was said to have been hacked by her boyfriend, Ali Mohammed Wakil whom they were always seeing together and parading himself as military personnel.

The gruesome murder of the girl threw the family, relations, friends, and staff of the Adamawa Press Limited, Publishers of The Scope newspaper, Yola where the father of the deceased works as Chief driver into agony.

Sources say that Patience who was newly recruited Army Officer could not be part of the training because of the tragedy which struck.

Some sources alleged that the boyfriend who claimed to be military personnel serving with 68 Reference Hospital Yaba in Lagos state may be a dismissed officer and only impersonating the military.

Another source at Damilu, where the incident occurred said that they heard the deceased and her boyfriend in the room, but could not categorically explain the circumstances that led to the killing of Patience.

‘’ Residents became more suspicious when we could not see the lady for good three days, and what worried us more was the terrible odor emitting from their room,’’ said a resident who doesn’t want to be mentioned.

According to this resident, ‘’what  compounded the situation was how the door of the room was locked from the outside, a development which compelled people  to forcefully open the window of the room only to discover the body of the female lover at the stage of decomposition.’’

The discovery of the dead body attracted a crowd who later proceeded to the palace of the ward head before the matter was finally reported to the police.

A family source who confided to newsmen said that they saw the suspect near the residence of the father of the deceased, strolling and enjoying his normal life at the time when the girl was declared missing.

‘’ In fact, at the time that the police officers who went to inform the father of the victim about the incident, the suspect was also sighted near the house of the father of the victim,’’ female resident added.

Narrating how the incident happened, the father of the deceased, Amos Ya’u, explained that his daughter left his house on the fateful  Saturday to plait her hair but could not come back again despite her assurance to them that she was on her way back home.

He said that they had called her on phone on that fateful evening, but she told them that she will be coming back home and waited but could not see her.

According to him, they called her line later on Sunday but it was not going through, and that since that day, they had not seen her until four days later when a police officer came and informed him of her death, a situation he could not believe it.

But when contacted, the Spokesman of the State Police Command, DSP, Suleiman Nguroje, confirmed the killing of Patience.

Nguroje said that when the matter was reported to the command, the Commissioner of Police directed that the suspect is apprehended and that their men were able to arrest the suspect.

He stated that the suspect is now cooling his heels at the Criminal Investigation Department and that he has been assisting them with relevant information that led to the murder of the girl, adding that the police are doing everything possible to gather both human and material evidence.

He further that the suspect who identified himself as Ali Mohammed Wakil, a military officer serving at Reference Hospital Yaba in Lagos state Nigeria.

recalls that only last week  Maxwell Nashan, a young reporter with Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) F.M station,  Fombina FM in Yola, was hacked to death in the bush on the outskirt of Vunokilan, in  Girei local government area of the state.

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The General’s Death Upsets Iran’s Plan

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Qassem Soleimani, who was Iran’s most hyped general, loved publishing “selfies” showing himself close to battlegrounds in the Middle East. He was never present anywhere near a battle but was always to come after the dust had settled, to take “selfies” and claim the credit. (Photo by Mehdi Ghasemi/ISNA/AFP via Getty Images)

While analysts and policymakers are busy speculating on ways that Tehran’s ruling mullahs might avenge the killing of their most hyped general, the real question that needs considering may be elsewhere.

The question is: what effect Soleimani’s death might have on the power struggle that, though currently put on hold, is certain to resume with greater vigor in Tehran.

Tehran’s propaganda tries to sell Soleimani as a kind of superman who, almost single-handedly, brought Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and parts of Afghanistan and Yemen under Iranian control while driving Americans out of the Middle East and crushing ISIS’s so-called Caliphate which tried to rival the Islamic Republic in Tehran. Soleimani himself did a lot to promote that image and, doing that, received much help from Western, especially American, and Israeli media that bought the bundle of goods from Tehran.

Facts, however, offer a different portrait of the late general. Soleimani joined the Islamic revolution in 1980, aged 27, at a time that the mullahs were busy putting together a praetorian guard to protect their new regime. A few months later, the ragtag army that Soleimani had joined was sent to help the remnants of a heavily purged national army fight an invading Iraqi force. With over 8,000 officers and NCOs of the national army purged by Khomeini, the new regime offered a fast track to people like Soleimani who had joined the military with no proper training and often little or no formal education. Thus, just three years after he had joined the military, young Soleimani found himself in command of a division of raw recruits. Under his command, Iranian forces suffered three of their biggest defeats in operations Al-Fajr 8, and Karbala I and Karbala II. Mohsen Reza’i, then chief of the Revolutionary Guard, describes the three battles as “a string of catastrophes” for Iranian forces.

However, Soleimani, who was to demonstrate his genius for networking and self-promotion, scored one lasting victory when he attached himself to Ali Khamenei, the mullah who was to become the Islamic Republic’s “Supreme Guide”.

Khamenei started as Deputy Defense Minister and rose to become President of the Islamic Republic. Soleimani, mocked as “the mullah’s bag-carrier”, was always at his side. In the 1990s, as Khamenei slowly built himself as the sole arbiter of Iran’s fate, Soleimani seized the opportunity to secure a fiefdom for himself.

That came in the shape of the project to “export” the Iranian Revolution to other Muslim countries. Initially, exporting the revolution, mentioned in the regime’s constitution as a sacred duty, had been regarded as a matter of propaganda and organizing sympathizers in Arab countries through outfits named Hezbollah. The task was handled by a special office in the Foreign Ministry headed by Ayatollah Hadi Khosroshahian. Partly thanks to lobbying by Soleimani, the task was taken away from the Foreign Ministry and handed over to the Revolutionary Guard. But even then Soleimani didn’t get the top job, which went to then Col. Ismail Qaani, the man who has now succeeded Soleimani as Commander of the Quds Force. Soleimani’s next move was to dislodge Qaani and get the top job himself. (Qaani was named as deputy). Even that configuration would not satisfy Soleimani, who had bigger ambitions. As long as he was part of the IRGC’s chain of command, he had to obey rules set by superiors whom he despised.

Thanks to Khamenei’s support, he succeeded in securing his independent fiefdom in the shape of the Quds Force which, though formally part of the IRGC, has its own separate budget and chain of command and is answerable to no one but Khamenei.

Next, Soleimani seized control of Tehran’s foreign policy in Arab countries, Afghanistan, North Korea, and South America and, in some sensitive areas, even Russia. The Islamic Republic’s presidents and foreign ministers have never had tête-à-tête talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as Soleimani had.

It became a matter of routine for Soleimani to appoint Iran’s ambassadors to Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, Doha and several other Arab capitals.

A dramatic illustration of Soleimani’s “independence” came when he shipped Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad to Tehran in a special airplane without even telling the Iranian president, let alone the foreign minister, who were also excluded from the Syrian’s audience with Khamenei.

A control freak, Soleimani insisted on deciding even the smallest details himself. In his one, and now final, interview, last November, the general talks of how Lebanese Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah had to clear every move with him.

Inside Iran, Soleimani built a state within the state. According to the Islamic Customs Office, the Quds Force operates 25 jetties in five of Iran’s biggest ports for its “imports and exports” with no intervention by the relevant authorities. A levy on imports of foreign cars is reserved for a special fund, controlled by the Quds Force, to cover expenditures in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and help pro-Iran Palestinian groups.

Soleimani had his own network of lobbyists in many Arab countries and some Western democracies. Hundreds of Iranian and Arab militants have enrolled in Western universities with scholarships from the Quds Force.

The Quds Force has registered vast tracts of public land in its name, claiming the need for future housing for its personnel. It also runs two dozen companies and banks, several shipping lines and an airline.

Soleimani, who loved making and publishing “selfies” showing himself close to battlegrounds in the Middle East, was never present anywhere near a battle but was always to come after the dust had settled, to take “selfies” and claim the credit.

A master of self-promotion, Soleimani received the rank of major-general without having risen through the hierarchy of the top brass like the other 12 men on the list. (After death, he has been promoted to Lt. General).

Some analysts in Tehran believe that Khamenei was planning to promote Soleimani further by making him President of the Islamic Republic in 2021. An image-building campaign started last year, as Soleimani was marketed as “the Sufi commander”, a label given to Safavid kings in the 16th century.

A committee of exiled Iranians in Florida also started campaigning to draft Soleimani as president.

If that was Khamenei’s game plan, there is no doubt that Soleimani’s demise will lead to more uncertainty regarding the future course of Iranian politics.

Amir Taheri was the executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979. He has worked at or written for innumerable publications, published eleven books, and has been a columnist for Asharq Al-Awsat since 1987. He is the Chairman of Gatestone Europe.

This article was originally published by Asharq al-Awsat and is reprinted by kind permission of the author.

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‘Death to America’: We will take hard and definitive revenge ― Iranians chant

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Iran is considering 13 scenarios to avenge the killing of a top Iranian military commander in Iraq by a U.S. drone attack, a senior Tehran official said on Tuesday as the general’s body was brought to his hometown for burial.

In Washington, the U.S. defense secretary denied reports the U.S. military was preparing to withdraw from Iraq, where Tehran has vied with Washington for influence over nearly two decades of war and unrest.

The killing of General Qassem Soleimani, who was responsible for building up Tehran’s network of proxy forces across the Middle East, has prompted mass mourning in Iran.

U.S. and Iranian warnings of new strikes and retaliation have also stoked concerns about a broader Middle East conflict and led to calls in the U.S. Congress for legislation to stop U.S. President Donald Trump going to war with Iran.

“We will take revenge, hard and definitive revenge,” the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, General Hossein Salami, told tens of thousands of mourners in Soleimani’s hometown of Kerman.

Many chanted “Death to America” and waved the Iranian flag.

READ ALSO: Iran threatens to ‘unleash Hezbollah’ in Israel and Dubai

Soleimani’s body has been taken through Iraqi and Iranian cities since Friday’s strike, with huge crowds of mourners filling the streets.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and military commanders have said Iranian retaliation for the U.S. action on Friday would match the scale of Soleimani’s killing but that it would be at a time and place of Tehran’s choosing.

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, said 13 “revenge scenarios” were being considered, Fars news agency reported. Even the weakest option would prove “a historic nightmare for the Americans,” he said.

Iran, whose southern coast stretches along a Gulf oil shipping route that includes the narrow Stait of Hormuz, has allied forces across the Middle East through which it could act. Representatives from those forces, including the Palestinian group Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, attended the funeral.

Despite its strident rhetoric, analysts say Iran will want to avoid any conventional conflict with the United States but assymetric strikes, such as sabotage or other more limited military actions, are more likely.

Trump has promised strikes on 52 Iranian targets, including cultural sites, if Iran retaliates, although U.S. officials sought to downplay his reference to cultural targets.

Reuters and other media reported on Monday that the U.S. military had sent a letter to Iraqi officials informing them that U.S. troops would be repositioned in preparation to leave.

“In order to conduct this test, Coalition Forces are required to take certain measures to ensure that the movement out of Iraq is conducted in a safe and efficient manner,” it said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said there had been no decision whatsoever to leave Iraq.

“I don’t know what that letter is,” he said.

U.S. Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the letter was a “poorly worded” draft document meant only to underscore increased movement by U.S. forces.

The letter, addressed to the Iraqi Defence Ministry’s Combined Joint Operations and confirmed as authentic by an Iraqi military source, had caused confusion about the future of the roughly 5,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq, where there has been a U.S. military presence since Saddam Hussein was toppled in a 2003 invasion.

On Sunday, Iraq’s parliament, dominated by lawmakers representing Muslim Shi’ite groups, passed a resolution calling for all foreign troops to leave the country.

Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Abdel Abdul Mahdi told the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad on Monday that both sides needed to work together to implement the parliamentary resolution.

Friction between Iran and the United States has risen since Washington withdrew in 2018 from a nuclear deal between Tehran and other world powers.

The United States has imposed economic sanctions on Iran and Tehran said on Sunday it was dropping all limitations on uranium enrichment, its latest step back from commitments under the deal.

The U.S. administration has denied a visa to allow Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to attend a U.N. Security Council meeting in New York on Thursday, a U.S. official said.

“The United States will get the decisive, definite answer for its arrogance at the time and place when it will feel the most pain,” Zarif said in a speech broadcast on state television.

Trump’s U.S. political rivals have challenged his decision to order the killing of Soleimani and its timing in a U.S. election year. His administration said Soleimani was planning new attacks on U.S. interests but has offered no evidence.

U.S. general Milley said the threat from Soleimani was imminent. “We would have been culpably negligent to the American people had we not made the decision we made,” he said.

Trump administration officials will provide a classified briefing for U.S. senators on Wednesday on events in Iraq after some lawmakers accused the White House of risking a broad conflict without a strategy.

Reuters/NAN

The post ‘Death to America’: We will take hard and definitive revenge ― Iranians chant appeared first on Vanguard News.

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Iran Attacks U.S. Bases in Iraq; MSNBC Spews False Iranian Propaganda, Pelosi Attacks Trump From Party (Video) ⋆ Conservative Firing Line

As predicted, Iran has retaliated for the US attack that took out the terrorist Qasem Soleimani. Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) sent missiles at two Iraqi military bases used by American forces, al-Asad, and Erbil.

Per the Pentagon

At approximately 5:30 p.m. (EST) on January 7, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq.  It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Erbil.

We are working on initial battle damage assessments.

In recent days and in response to Iranian threats and actions, the Department of Defense has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard our personnel and partners. These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region.

As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend U.S. personnel, partners, and allies in the region.

That the missiles were fired from Iran is a major escalation. Usually, their attacks are conducted by one of their proxies and initiate from Iraq.

The White House said President Trump was monitoring the situation and consulting with his national-security team.

Both CNN and Fox are reporting there are casualties on the Iraqi side. No word on American troops

Iran’s Press TV has released a video of the attack:

UPDATE #1 7:40PM Iran’s Press TV reports

Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has targeted the US airbase of Ain al-Assad in Anbar province in western Iraq after vowing to retaliate the US assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander, Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

“Tens of surface-to-surface missiles” were fired at the strategic airbase and the attack was later confirmed by the US officials.

The IRGC has called for a complete withdrawal of US troops from the Arab country, asserting that it would not differentiate between the US and Israel in retaliating against the assassination of the Iranian national hero.

“We warn US allies providing bases for the [American] terrorist army… that any country serving as the origin of bellicose and aggressive attacks in any form against the Islamic Republic of Iran will be targeted,” read the IRGC statement

UPDATE #2 8:00 PM President Trump will address the nation tonight. Fox News has unconfirmed reports that there are no American casualties. This is a key moment for the President. His message to the country and the next steps against Iran may determine the future of his presidency.   

UPDATE #3 8:20 The IRGC says if the US responds by bombing on Iranian soil it will target the cities of Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, and Haifa, Israel, in the third wave of operations.

UPDATE #4 8:30 As Americans were being attacked Nancy Pelosi found time to attack President Trump.

Closely monitoring the situation following bombings targeting U.S. troops in Iraq. We must ensure the safety of our servicemembers, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence. America & world cannot afford war.

— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 8, 2020

Nancy Pelosi at Danny Meyer’s Maialino Mare opening in Navy Yard. pic.twitter.com/OMkVtxeEEk

— Anna Spiegel (@AnnaSpiegs) January 8, 2020

UPDATE #5 8:45 Trump will not deliver address tonight, White House official says

UPDATE #6 9:12 Things at the two bases seem to have calmed down but that doesn’t mean it’s over. Some sources are saying the attack was not as bad as first feared. Pentagon reports there were 15 rockets fired from Iran, four failed. The ten fired at Al-Assad did not directly hit the base. Possibly on purpose so they can say they fired back.  Pentagon is preliminarily saying no American casualties. MSNBC is reporting Iranian propaganda that 13 Americans died.

MSNBC is literally doing the work of the Iranians by airing completely unverified, untrustworthy Intel about US casualties

The Pentagon has not reported on any lives lost

Why would the Media air what is so blatantly Iranian propaganda?

— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) January 8, 2020

CNN is reporting that two missiles hit near Erbil. One missile landed inside the perimeter of Erbil International Airport without exploding, the second missile hit an area 33 kilometers (about 20 miles) west of the city of Erbil without causing casualties.

Iran released the picture below which they claim is the launch of the first missile.

Update #7 10:10pm 

Iraq Foreign Minister said the attack is over for now.

Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched.

We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.

— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 8, 2020

President Trump just tweeted “All is Well” and he will address the nation in the morning.

All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 8, 2020

Per John Roberts of Fox News, the initial assessment is that the Iranian missiles struck areas of the al-Asad base not populated by Americans, according to a US military official and a senior administration official. Some in DC believe the misses were intentional. Iran needed to show a response to save face but intentionally did it in a way that would not hurt Americans.

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Will there be a draft? Young people worry after military strike | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

person

For decades, American men over the age of 18 have gone through the ritual of registering with the government in case of a military draft. In recent years, this action has felt more like going through the motions, simply checking a box.

But today, after a U.S. drone strike in Iraq killed Iran’s top security and intelligence commander, prompting concerns about the possibility of a new war in the Middle East, that oft-forgotten paperwork became a reason for spiking anxiety among many Americans.

“World War III” started trending on social media. Young men suddenly recalled registering after their 18th birthdays, many having done so while applying for college financial aid. One Twitter user posted that he had blocked the account of the U.S. Army, with the (faulty) reasoning that: “They can’t draft you if they can’t see you.”

Interest was so high that it apparently crashed the website for the Selective Service System, the independent government agency that maintains a database of Americans eligible for a potential draft. “Due to the spread of misinformation, our website is experiencing high traffic volumes at this time,” the agency said on Twitter, adding, “We appreciate your patience.”

Here is an explanation of the current military system and what it would take to enact a draft in modern times.

Is there going to be a military draft?

The United States first conscripted soldiers during the Civil War and continued to use the draft in some form on and off through the Vietnam War, said Jennifer Mittelstadt, a professor of history at Rutgers University who has studied the military.

But there has been no conscription since 1973, when the draft was abolished after opposition to fighting in Vietnam. “There was huge support for ending the draft across the political spectrum,” Mittelstadt said.

The modern-day military is now an all-volunteer force, with about 1.2 million active-duty troops.

To change that, Congress would have to pass a law reinstating the draft, and the president would have to sign it, actions that would likely require broad political support.

What is the draft age?

All men from 18 to 25 years old are required to register with the Selective Service System. Many young men check a box to register when getting a driver’s license. Others sign up when applying for federal student aid to attend college.

But just because you have registered does not mean you will be drafted. “Right now, registering for selective service really means nothing about the likelihood of you serving in the current military,” Mittelstadt said.

Joe Heck, chairman of the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service, a committee created by Congress to evaluate the Selective Service System, put it this way: “Registration is ongoing. A draft would require an act of Congress.”

What are the consequences if you don’t register?

If you do not register for Selective Service as a young man, you can be subject to lifetime penalties. For example, men who did not register cannot receive federal financial aid, and they cannot work for the federal government, Heck said.

To check if you have registered, visit the Selective Service System’s website (once it is up and running again).

Can women be drafted?

No.

Historically, only men have been eligible for the draft. But the question of whether to register women has gained traction in recent years, as women have taken on broader roles within the military.

In 2015, the Pentagon opened up all combat jobs to women. Last year, a federal judge in Houston ruled that excluding women from the draft was unconstitutional.

As part of its work, the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service is considering whether to expand the registration requirement to include women. The group’s final report, on that and other issues, is expected to be released in March.

Are there arguments for reinstating the draft?

In the 1860s, mobs of mostly foreign-born white workers took to the streets in New York City to protest conscription during the Civil War, burning down buildings and inciting violent attacks against black residents.

A century later, burning draft cards became a symbol of protest against the war in Vietnam.

“I think it’s fair to say that the draft has never been wildly popular,” Mittelstadt said.

But she said there were arguments in favor of a modern-day draft, including the potential to make the military more representative of society. The current all-volunteer force is more likely to recruit people from the working class, she said, with higher percentages of nonwhite Americans serving in uniform.

“I don’t know what it means in a democracy that you let some people fight your wars and everybody is not responsible,” she said. “American citizens are not implicated in the consequences — bodily human life, economically — of war, and they should be.”

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