The Teaglass

Imagine a teahouse. Glasses clinking and the hum of conversation. Perhaps some atmospheric music playing in the background. All the little rituals that come along with the drinking of tea; the pouring, the straining, the adding of the sugar or honey or fresh mint leaves. The beads of condensation on the glass and the wisps of steam curling up, around and away. The sweetness or the bitterness. You don’t drink tea alone. You drink tea with friends. There is something about sharing a glass of tea that inspires conversation. Heated debates about politics. Long heart to hearts about social issues. Passionate exchanges about religion. Reflections on history. The depth of the conversation deepening with the increasing number of glasses poured.
Tea and conversation are inextricably linked.

The Teaglass blog aims to create a virtual teahouse; a space to facilitate and inspire the types of conversation that take place over a steaming glass of tea or several….

MDG 2015 debates: Water

By Zinnia Shah

As 2015 approaches the clock is ticking away for the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) to be achieved. Although a large amount of progress has been made worldwide, unfortunately, in certain countries these goals are unlikely to be achieved. Debates however have already started about the post-2015 agenda and what new goals are going to be set, as the MDG’s have had a lot of criticism about their targets.  This article is going to look at one of the main 11 thematic consultations for the post-2015 agenda and that is the ever most precious resource of water. 

The MDG’s is an agenda which was set by the United Nations in 2000 to address problems affecting the world and aimed to achieve the goals set by the year 2015. The agenda looks to tackle issues such as inequality, education, poverty, maternal health, environment, serious diseases and global partnerships.  

Water is fundamental for human existence and survival and yet almost 780 million people around the world lack access to improved sources of water. Significant numbers of children and adults die daily due to unclean drinking water and lack of sanitation facilities . . There are many issues related to water these include more obvious ones such as sanitation health, environment, economics and agriculture 

Water falls under the category of MDG 7 which focuses on sustainable environment and unfortunately this has somewhat negated the importance of water by putting it in a subcategory. Access to water should have been an MDG on its own because its importance affects a number of other MDG’S such as food, agriculture and infrastructure . Water is also needed for sanitation, hospitals and in treating disease. More obscurely it links to other social issues such as gender, equality and security, therefore water is a common thread which links all the MDG’s this highlighting ever more why it is important to improve access and maintenance of this resource. 

The target for water stated was “to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation” and it was reported in 2012 that these goals had been achieved in 2010 , but there is still a long way to go. Sub-Saharan Africa contains over 40% of the world’s population who do not have access to clean drinking water and nearly 31% of people in the region do not have access to adequate sanitation and for this reason Sub-Saharan Africa is not on track to meet this goal in 2015.  

There are however a few countries in the region that are making significant amounts of progress these include, Burkina Faso, Chad and Ethiopia. 

A key area which needs to be targeted includes the management of water, drinking pumps, sanitation equipment and this means training people within the community with this responsibility. Numerous reports have shown how facilities which have not been taken care of have led to increase in disease and infections and therefore these facilities are no longer used and in turn have no way of helping communities develop. Mechanisms need to be also developed to dispose of waste and toxins effectively so that there are no repercussions to the population because contamination of harmful substances can have everlasting effects on people, livestock, agriculture and environment for generations.  

Currently the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) by WHO and UNICEF provides statistics to compare countries and has devised definitions about what constitutes as “Improved” and “Unimproved” sanitation and water drinking facilities. But these statistics also have their limitations as they do not consider water quality and therefore efficient policies cannot be made to target the improvement of water quality and many laboratory tests which determine the quality and safety of water are very expensive. This is an area which needs to be addressed and highlighted in the post-2015 agenda .

More and more countries and communities are involving themselves with payment programs, where businesses or companies will pay owners to manage water facilities and pollution better. These programs seem to be highly abundant in China but many other countries are following suit. Organisations such as Water.org  and WSUP highlight key organisations which work alongside local communities and target water and sanitation issues by offering microfinance loans and individually tailoring methods of improvement dependent on the needs and environment of the region.  

The post-2015 agenda needs to incorporate more local actors and communities where there is a lack of water and sanitation facilities, the agenda also needs to include measures such as empowering the local populations with education and training so that they can effectively manage the sustainability of these resources, furthermore, it is of the upmost importance that Water is targeted as a major goal due to its importance is paramount and affects health, food, agriculture and industry. To have a sustainable water and sanitation is system is a step in the right direction for any country or community to thrive. 

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Stirrings of a Revolution?

By: Noor Al-Kifah

Scene 1: Revolution or isolated expressions of discontent?

September 2012

The revolution will not be televised. It will not be televised. The revolution will not be televised—it will be contained. The revolution will be quietly and insidiously contained, quelled, squashed even before it has a chance to gather momentum and determine its direction…

During the early days of September 2012, youth in cities and towns across Palestine began to express their frustrations and despair through scattered demonstrations and spurts of action—some constructive, others destructive and senselessly aggressive. At first it seemed to have the potential to become an organized movement, an inclusive and representative statement of discontent. At first, all I could think was, “Finally! Finally it’s happening.” And so I sat down to write it all down during the first week of September: 

Finally. The early stirrings of agitation.  Signs of discontent and frustration faintly flowing from talk to action. Nobody knows which direction this agitation will lead—into a cluster of more demonstrations and strikes, or into a full-fledged movement. There is no way to know, really. To speculate would be meaningless, when the odds are never clear. But the key lies in the preparation for both scenarios and anticipation of either one. Could the agitation lead to what racist elements in England called the London “riots” of 2011? Or could the self-immolation in Gaza and attempted one in Ramallah lead to a Bouazizi-style revolutionary overthrow of the government? Either way, we must let out a sigh of relief, and say “finally!” Finally the Palestinian people have decided to act, to put their foot down and tell those on top that enough is enough. 

As I sat in my old stone home in the center of Palestine, I could not help but wonder why I wasn’t feeling any of the action. Far different from the days at the height of the intifadas—both the first and second—this agitation has not yet crept into our homes. Yes, a road closed here, a strike there, simultaneous demonstrations across the main cities creating some noise, stirring the “leadership” to its feet. Or at least to its press conference room, where Mahmoud Abbas behaved like a patriarchal tribal leader, waving off questions when convenient, laughing off others, and sternly putting reporters in their place for asking legitimate and logical questions about the economic situation in Palestine. Such local performances are worlds away from the soft-spoken clean-cut diplomat that is Abbas, appealing to “Western” sensibilities as he elegantly walks through the halls of the White House or the grand rooms of United Nations buildings. The cameras are directed at him in both scenarios, but the audience is different. The Western world sees one face, while the Palestinian populace sees another. What an insult to our intelligence! Are we so ignorant and lowly, so provincial and uncivilized, that we see a leader that shouts impassioned slogans or reprimands reporters for exercising their right to ask honest questions? Are we so undeserving that we do not get addressed or replied to in the soft-spoken manner that is the mark of legitimacy every international diplomat must exhibit? 

The revolution, or its initial stirrings (irrespective of whether it comes to fruition), has not yet been felt in our homes. We have seen the effects of the transportation strike on workers and students unable to reach their daily destinations, but that is the extent of its scale. It has not rumbled under our feet yet, has not made the ground shake yet, has not shaken us to our core or pulsated through our veins. Not yet. And so long as liberals cry out “occupation! occupation!”; and leftists assert that it is being provoked and lead by Abbas’ camp to oust Fayyad, his cronies, and other citizens who would prefer to maintain their comfort; the elite allege that the agitators are but well-to-do kids stirring up trouble; so long as nobody legitimizes the legitimate economic woes and concerns of the people, the revolution will not be felt in our homes. It will not rumble underneath our feet or pulsate in our veins. 

And it did not. The revolution did not get a chance to become. Instead, life went back to normal, with student strikes and school and university faculty and staff strikes being held in isolation from a wider attempt to address the people’s economic woes. Instead, frustrations are temporarily quelled with a trickle of money, as partial salaries are dispensed into hollow bank accounts. 

Scene 2: Local elections: exercising free will?

October 2012

In place of the revolution that did not become, we are now temporarily distracted by local municipal elections in the West Bank.  Browsing through the official Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC) website leaves one with the impression that local elections were a well-organised, professionally executed, exercise in democracy.  However, without genuinely impartial observers, it is difficult to gauge the actual competency of the Commission and the professionalism of its oversight. In an official statement, the Commission declares that while “CEC commissioners convened to look into complaints which came from the observation missions…[it] concluded that these complaints did not influence the results significantly enough to warrant action.” A description of the type or nature of the complaints is nowhere to be found. 

But it is not so-called minor complaints that lie at the heart of the problematic nature of local elections. Rather, it is the very existence of elections themselves that comprise the problem. Ironic as it may seem, local and national elections are a farce, far from being a democratic expression of the will of the people. Elections provide a guise of democracy, a pacifying effect to people who want to believe that their voice is heard and that the Palestinian Authority (PA) actually serves their interests. 

It is well known that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was one of the most prominent voices in rejecting negotiations and “peace talks” with Israel from the outset. Part of what is sometimes referred to as a “rejectionist front”, the PFLP foresaw the farce that was to become our reality in Palestine. In Peace and its Discontents, Edward Said eloquently explores and exposes the intricacies of this farce. It is thus nothing new to the Palestinian people that Oslo brought nothing positive to their lives, instead entrenching them deeper into a state of injustice that Israel continuously tries to legitimise and legalise. 

With Hamas officially boycotting municipal elections, a fair reflection of the people’s will is impossible to capture. However, irrespective of this essential missing link, voting results will have no great bearing on people’s lives. Government officials have no real political leverage, as municipalities handle purely civil matters—in effect acting as service providers. To add insult to injury, municipalities don’t even have control over the services they provide, for example water distribution, since control of this precious resource is in Israel’s hands. Issuing building permits and paving roads in what little lands the PA has political and civil control over, seems to suffice in maintaining a façade of governance.

As I watched people mill around outside voting stations, eagerly awaiting more voters to arrive, I couldn’t help but be amazed by their conviction. Passing through the gates of two local secondary schools—which served, among other places, as voting stations—young men campaigning for various election slates, discretely (or not so discretely!) slip you a small piece of paper. In a last-minute attempt to persuade you to vote for their slate, they mumble the slate number written on the paper. Walking away from the voting station, I noticed how self-satisfied voters seemed. Of course local elections were the talk of the town for the entire week. While the question du jour was “Did you vote?” citizens’ right index fingers provided the answer. As the excitement died down, dark blue ink stains lingered on people’s fingers for days. 

 

Scene 3: Discontent

January 2013

“Burn down this mountain,” the passenger to my right said to another fellow passenger in a service taxicab (i.e. public transportation) from Ramallah to the university town Birzeit. “The problem,” he continued, “is that prices are rising and there’s no money! People don’t have any money.” I glanced at him and with a smile, he continued. “Let’s not say burn down the Muqata’a [the PA headquarters], let’s just say burn down this mountain!” He ended his mini-monologue with a chuckle as he glanced around him to size up his audience. Despite his soft laughter and the amiable expression on his face, this average Palestinian man was expressing serious sentiments: disillusionment and discontent with the current situation and the concomitant desire for people to rise up and take action. Clearly taking a cautious stance towards the authority, he nevertheless implicitly placed the blame on their shoulders. 

One often hears complaints of rising prices, increasing levels of unemployment, and a generally deteriorating state of affairs. One rarely hears calls for action, however. All the way to my destination, I contemplated his words, thinking of this call to thinking about this simultaneously literal and figurative call to action. What would happen if a group of youth actually set fire to a hillside near the Muqata’a? Other than the obvious deleterious environmental effects, what would it lead to politically? The most probable outcome would be the short-term incarceration of the youths, who will be dubbed “destructive,” “reckless,” and “rebels without a cause.” This would certainly not be a first! 

Scene 4: Youth mobilisation and popular resistance

April 2013

Both Israeli and Palestinian officials have hurled accusations of inciting a third intifada. While the onset of this intifada is nowhere to be seen, propaganda has continued to spread through media outlets. Protests and demonstrations of discontent, while fairly consistent vis-à-vis their reaction to Israel’s violations, are dishearteningly small, with the number of participants ranging from tens to hundreds. But while street protests may not cause much noise, youth around Palestine have been devising creative methods of resistance, raising their voices against ongoing colonisation and injustice. 

Expressing their understanding of people’s apathy and fear of collective punishment, youth activists have led various solidarity activities. These include solidarity hunger strikes, protests outside of Israeli prisons, and the creation of tent villages in which activists set up camp on land that has been confiscated by Israel. From Bab al-Shams to Canaan Village, activists have attempted to re-claim land designated for colonial settlements. Unsurprisingly, Israel responds with force, declaring the areas closed military zones, destroying the activists’ tents, and banning journalists from covering the scene.

These activists also lead conventional demonstrations: coordinated street demonstrations across the country to protest Israel’s November 2012 attack on Gaza; and outside of Israeli prisons, in support of hunger striking prisoners.  Amongst the string of protests for the prisoners, those held for Arafat Jaradat, the prisoner convincingly believed (see here, here, and here) to have beaten to death by Israeli interrogators, were the largest, with his funeral being attended by thousands. 

Most recently, protests and strikes were held after Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh died in an Israeli prison. Being denied treatment for cancer, Abu Hamdiyeh was also banned from seeing his family until the very end. Israel’s failure to release a dying 63-year-old political prisoner sparked anger across the country. However, as with Jaradat’s death, this anger fell short of utter outrage, the type of outrage that sparks revolutions.  

As most people struggle to make ends meet, desperately searching for employment or clinging to their precarious jobs, political resistance falls by the wayside. With the culture of solidarity a distant memory, isolated protests only cause tiny ripples in the ocean of injustice. Youth activists struggle to maintain a sustained movement that sweeps across the land, culminating in popular resistance. With a state of apartheid being formally achieved in the “greater Land of Israel”, the guise of a political will being exercised in a burgeoning democracy is rendered more ludicrous than ever. While the roads get paved and new buildings spring up, corruption proliferates in Palestine. But will overwhelming popular opinion be reflected in the streets? Will the people rise up and finally form a unified, organised movement to express their despair? If and when a true revolution does go down, Gil Scott Heron’s famous words will resonate in my head: “The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised, will not be televised, will not be televised. The revolution will be no re-run brothers; The revolution will be live.” 

Before the Fall: An American Perspective from Syria

Farrah Sheikh and Kristin Nolan were in Syria in early 2011 before the protests turned into a full on revolution. Kristin is a contributing editor for Syria Deeply where she shared her experiences of a country now in serious turmoil.

All credit for the article goes to Kristin and Syria Deeply http://beta.syriadeeply.org

'When I asked people in February of 2011 what they wanted from Syria, the usual reaction was a dramatic pause followed by, “Just come back safely”. The travel advisory page on the State Department website cautioned people not to travel to Syria, but I reasoned the trip to myself. I wasn’t traveling alone, I spoke enough Arabic to get by, and I had lived in Dubai and Cairo. The Middle East was not new territory. So, I boarded the plane and took off, much to the chagrin of my family and friends.

But Syria was a different experience. From the moment I landed in Syria, to the moment I left two weeks later, on the first day of rioting, I fell in love with the country and its charms. Damascus had a rugged beauty, with gorgeous ancient churches, synagogues, and mosques woven into the tapestry of the city. They were interspersed with tiny stone-cobbled streets and back alleys that led to great antiques shops, galleries, souqs, and shisha cafés filled with families sharing a meal. I drank freshly squeezed pomegranate juice amidst the ruins of Qala’at Samaan, toured the streets of Aleppo, locally known as Halab for the milk Abraham gave to weary travelers on the road, and meandered through ruins that gives Syria a rich tapestry of history. The country has been at the center of so many empires and religions through the passage of time.

But I also came face to face with a country whose people are not free to speak their minds. My friend and I were staying with a mutual friend from our university, and we peppered her with questions about what it was like to live in Syria. She smiled knowingly and gestured around her apartment, saying that the whole place had probably been bugged but that in her opinion, it was hard to live in a place where your own brother would sell you out if you criticized the regime.

This societal oppression seemed even more pronounced when compared to the streaming footage from Cairo, where Egypt’s revolution was in full swing. People in Syria were hooked, watching the footage in cafes, offices, and every little general store I entered. I would often ask, “Is that Egypt?” knowing it was a bland enough question to not rouse suspicion, but might spur conversation. Store owners would lift themselves up from their fixed gaze on the television, sizing me up, some saying, “Yes” or “Very dangerous”, all the while keeping a straight stony expression to keep from revealing anything.

I could feel the tension in the streets as Egypt rallied on against Mubarak, and the question hung in the air, Will it happen here?

One night, we returned home to find our friend deep in conversation with one of her Syrian friends. Eventually, the conversation turned to Egypt. The Syrian friend went quiet, but occasionally interjected commentary as he nursed his vodka tonic. Unable to resist any longer, I pigeoned together in Arabic, “So, what do you think about the revolution in Egypt?” He laughed and smiled at me, then leaned over to our friend and held up his hand to cover his mouth, whispering something into her ear. She laughed uproariously, and translated the following joke:

Assad and Evil are standing on a hilltop looking out over all of Syria. Evil points here and there and says, If I were to do something really bad, I would do this, and that, oh, yes, and this terrible thing! Assad interrupts Evil to say, Well, if I were going to do something really bad I would do this, and that, and this other thing, and… Eventually Evil cuts Assad off, shaking his head and says, Not even I would do that. 

A few days before I was scheduled to leave, we started to get word of a protest against Assad, scheduled for the day my flight was supposed to leave Damascus. We found out through hushed whispers here and there, mostly from the outside world through our e-mail inboxes. The tension in the streets mounted as people went about their daily business quietly. I prepared myself for a long stay in Syria, worried that the government would shut down the airports and other various exits. I checked in with the American Embassy so they would know where to find me. But on the day of, I was surprised at how easily I was able to find a cab and quietly exit the country.

I returned from my journey and watched as the horror slowly unfolded on the ground over the next 20 months. Places where I had once stood appeared in pictures. Streaming photos of Aleppo burnt to the ground and of thousands of refugees fleeing the endless violence stuck with me. I follow the news closely, wondering why the U.S. government had given support to Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt, but somehow neglected giving support to Syria?

The Arab Spring is the next wave of political growth for nations that have too long lived under careful monitoring. In the name of power, dictators have instituted emergency law, denied freedoms of speech, and brutally imprisoned or killed their own citizens for their opinions. Now, that oppression has moved beyond punishing speech, to punishing Syrians themselves. Various sources estimate between 30,000 to 50,000 Syrians have been killed in the crossfire and over 2.5 million have been displaced, crowding nearby Arab states.

The land is not the same either. Many of those unique sights and sounds I experienced as a traveler are now lost. Syrians, from all sides, have ransacked museums and historical landmarks and sold treasures on the black market to buy food or shelter or weapons to defend themselves. It’s startling what the world has lost in this cradle of civilization—the art, the architecture, the great castles, the mysteries of the past not yet uncovered.

Syria will never be the same, but I believe strongly that education about this conflict can help push people to help Syrians rebuild their country. They deserve to be heard, not to be slaughtered. They deserve to choose their own destinies.’

* The full link to the original article is: http://alpha.syriadeeply.org/op-eds/2012/12/fall-american-perspective-syria/#.UOPysKUuJhB

A fictional investigation into the Benghazi death of US Ambassador Chris Stevens, exploring numerous conspiracy theories along the way

By Leena Shams

The circumstances surrounding the death of US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens on September 11, 2012 were very suspicious. Too many facts didn’t seem to add up, and still don’t.

In the days after his death, the news reports that came out were very ambiguous, without answering any of the questions as to how it happened, what happened, who was responsible. We heard that he was abducted, that he was assassinated, that he was kidnapped. We heard that it was a mob of protestors, angry about an anti-Islam film, but later we heard it was a planned and well-coordinated terrorist attack. How did this even happen, when US embassies and consulates around the world are like heavily guarded fortresses; maximum-security zones? How was this kind of security breached, and how were there no cameras or backup teams to assist? No ambulances or medical personnel on the premises? How is it possible that such a high-profile American diplomat could be attacked like that?

 Details and facts that come out in such scenarios usually help piece together a picture of what happened and how, yet in this case, it only became more confusing with more unanswered questions, which has led to a variety of conspiracy theories cropping up.

For the sake of challenging presented truths, let’s mix facts with fiction with conspiracy theories, and let’s imagine if this was how events had unfolded:

The oil theory: Libya has oil. America wants it. They need a reason to invade Libya and have free reign to do whatever they want there.  They decide to make Stevens their sacrificial lamb. He just happened to be the pawn that was lined up in the right position on the chess board- the puzzle piece that had to be removed for everything else to fit into place. And he would die as a hero- go down in history as someone who lost his life for his country, in the line of duty.  

The ‘compromised loyalties theory: There was another reason for eliminating Stevens. He was too friendly with the Libyan people. There was a fear in Washington that his loyalties may have been compromised. And if this was the case, which they had good reason to believe it was based on reports from their sources on the ground, there was no telling how much damage had already been done.

Imagine if the people that killed Stevens weren’t actually even Libyan in the first place. It was a team of carefully selected ‘specialists’ who had carried out such missions before. Not so high-profile though, with the exception of the Pakistani who was involved in the attack on Benazir Bhutto. There was a Pakistani, a Yemeni, an Afghan and an Algerian. With beards and faces wrapped with keffiyahs, it didn’t show nor did it matter who they were. They were being paid to carry out a specific mission and carry it out they would.

Imagine if a secret arm of the US intelligence finances certain rebel groups in the Middle East-provides them with weapons and intelligence that they wouldn’t have access to otherwise. This is done to prevent the regimes in the region from becoming too powerful. With the Arab spring and the fall of the old dictators that the US knew how to negotiate with, and with new Islamic governments coming into power country after country, this was the best way for the US to maintain a foothold in these countries. By secretly financing rebel groups the US ensures that they always have some pull, and they can get useful information from the groups on the ground. They also commission their members to carry out acts of violence against the state, remove (through whatever means necessary) any political players that might be posing a serious problem or challenge to their own plans, and also ensure that there is always a market for illegal weapons trade.  They use these rebel groups to do their dirty work, much the way they used security contractors in the past.

Then there was the film- the low budget, anti-Islamic film called ‘The Innocence of Muslims.’ The film was what sparked the wave of protests across the region and it was in the middle of this chaos that Stevens would be attacked- the protests used as a subterfuge. Imagine if the leader of one of these ‘friendly’ rebel groups was summoned for a top secret meeting with an unidentified American official in an undisclosed location, and provided with a brief on the film. He was not told anything about Stevens. The American official didn’t even know that part of the plan. His role was to simply provide this rebel leader with the film clip. ‘Show this to your people. Rile them up. Disperse this as widely as possible and wreak as much havoc as you can- run with it.’ For this rebel leader, it was personal. This was his religion as much as it was a political game. It was a matter of his beliefs and his identity. He would not follow the instructions of this American official only because he was paid in various ways to do so, but because he genuinely was incensed by this disgusting and offensive movie. Yes, he would spread this film around as widely as he could. Gladly. The American official left, his job here complete.

Imagine if this is how the plan had been set into motion- the official had ensured that within hours, word of the film would have spread like wildfire and angry mobs of protestors would be gathering outside American institutions. Anything about the Prophet was a surefire way to create instant pandemonium in the Muslim world. The formula was just too easy and predictable. Want to create violent mobs and destruction? Say or show something bad about the Prophet. It worked every time. And the media lapped it up every time, broadcasting images of ‘angry Arabs’, never failing to sensationalize their fury, barbarism, and irrational commitment to protecting their religion at any cost. Imagine if there was a person who worked in the public relations department of the CIA whose job was to find and collect such films, cartoons, and books that were stored away, ready to be released at a prime moment if a situation arose that needed such a…push. Salman Rushdie’s ‘Satanic Verses’ had been in that file too. Controversial art, film and literature have played a greater role than we realize when it comes to manipulating political events. It’s all about having the foresight to determine what might be useful and what might be destructive, and how this destruction might be useful at the right time.  

Now imagine a cell on the outskirts of Benghazi, where the team of assassins had been briefed on how exactly to carry out the attack. Blueprints were provided and maps of the consulate compound marked neatly in red. Which walls to scale, which doors and windows to use, which corridors to avoid. Which rocket propelled grenades to use and how. Not that they needed any education as far as weaponry was concerned. In the turmoil and chaos of the protests, this attack would be easy and could be blamed on the protestors, at least initially. Later, once investigations were conducted and more facts unearthed it would be too late.

But at the end of the day, Chris Stevens was not murdered, and he was not meant to be murdered in the traditional sense of the word. If that had been part of the plan, it would have happened. It was all very carefully calculated. Chris Stevens was meant to die in a way that was ambiguous. He was not assassinated; shot through the head or heart with a bullet. His cause of death was asphyxiation from smoke inhalation. He suffocated to death in a room in the consulate when he was separated from his team in the chaos of the attack, blinded by the smoke. When he was found, by Libyans who rushed in to help, he was still alive.  

The circumstances surrounding his death were murky, and this was done on purpose. It makes it harder to pinpoint exactly what happened in the chaos, or who was directly responsible. It leaves it open-ended enough that nothing solid will ever come to light. The truth about Chris Stevens will always elude us.

Why would the US administration arrange to kill one of their own men? For a variety of reasons. It creates a situation in which the US is so justifiably outraged that there is no limit to what they may do for revenge. A US ambassador has been killed so now nothing is off the table when it comes to retaliation. Free rein. A very powerful thing. One piece of a larger puzzle that serves to lay the groundwork for what is to come. 

 The US Presidential Election theory: One of the most important battles on US soil to win over the hearts and minds- and votes- of the population. A battle that can be fought out in part, in clandestine missions on the other side of the world. The death of Chris Stevens was the key foreign policy issue that was debated in the US presidential debates. The way he died, the way this affected public perception of President Obama. The way it was handled and talked about won and lost favor (and votes) for both Obama and Romney. Who gained more from the whole fiasco?

These are all just conspiracy theories, struggling to make sense of a tragedy that does not make sense but what if some of this happened to be true? Would you find it hard to believe if this was how the events actually did unfold?

What do you think?

Read more:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-19570254

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/09/20129112108737726.html

http://abcnews.go.com/International/US-ambassador-libya-christopher-stevens-killed-consulate-attack-benghazi/story?id=17215154#.UJ8Jz83cSH8

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/middle-east-live/2012/sep/12/libya-egypt-attacks-muhammad-film-live