Thursday, January 29, 2015

DNA 29/01/2015 إعلام الممانعة..وعملية مزارع شبعا

خيارات أميركا في اليمن بعد "الانقلاب" الحوثي

المركز العربي للأبحاث ودراسة السياسات
خيارات أميركا في اليمن بعد "الانقلاب" الحوثي
أثارت سيطرة الحوثيين على القصر الرئاسي في اليمن، في العشرين من يناير/ كانون ثاني 2015 وما تبعها من استقالة للحكومة والرئيس عبد ربه منصور هادي، مخاوف أميركية من أن يؤدِّي انهيار الدولة إلى تقويض آليات التعاون التي كانت قائمةً بين الأجهزة الأمنية اليمنية ونظيرتها الأميركية، في الحرب ضدّ تنظيم القاعدة. وتزداد مظاهر التحدي في وجه الولايات المتحدة مع تبني تنظيم القاعدة في جزيرة العرب الذي يتخذ من اليمن مقرًّا له مسؤولية هجمات باريس، في وقت سابق من الشهر نفسه.
وتَعُدُّ الولايات المتحدة "القاعدة" في اليمن التنظيم الأكثر خطورةً على أمنها، وتتهمه بالوقوف وراء هجمات وقَعت على أراضيها، أو التي أُحبطت قبل تنفيذها. وتزداد المخاوف الأميركية في ظلّ تقارير تشير إلى تمدُّد تنظيم الدولة الإسلامية إلى اليمن، ودخوله في منافسة مع فرع القاعدة هناك.

نموذج أوباما "الناجح" في محاربة الإرهاب

في خطابه أمام الكونغرس عن "حال الاتحاد" يوم 20/ 1/ 2015، قال الرئيس أوباما: "نحن نتعاون مع دول من جنوب آسيا إلى شمال أفريقيا لمنع الإرهابيين الذين يهدِّدون أميركا الحصولَ على ملاذات آمنة". وعلى الرغم من أنّ الخطاب جاء في اليوم نفسه الذي سيطر فيه الحوثيون على القصر الرئاسي في اليمن، فإنّ أوباما تجاهل الموضوع تمامًا؛ لأنّ ذلك يقوّض مزاعم إدارته في تحقيق نجاحات كبيرة في حربها ضدّ الإرهاب. فالولايات المتحدة، بحسب الاستراتيجية التي طرحها أوباما، عندما أعلن الحرب ضدّ تنظيم الدولة الإسلامية في العراق والشام في 10/ 9/ 2014، لن ترسل قوات بريةً أميركيةً، لتخوض حروبًا جديدةً في
الشرق الأوسط. أمّا بديله من ذلك، فهو متمثِّل بقوله الذي يَعُدُّ اليمن شاهدَ نجاحٍ عليه: "استخدام قوتنا الجوية والدعم الذي نقدمه لقوات حلفائنا على الأرض. هذه الاستراتيجية في القضاء على الإرهابيين الذين يهدِّدوننا، في وقتٍ نُقدِّم فيه الدعم لشركائنا في الخطوط الأمامية، هي استراتيجية اتبعناها سنوات بنجاح في اليمن والصومال".
تخوض الولايات المتحدة، فعلًا، منذ سنين، حربًا ضدّ تنظيم القاعدة في اليمن، مستخدمة طائرات من دون طيار؛ بالتنسيق والتعاون الكامل مع الحكومة اليمنية. فهي تقدِّم التدريب والدعم والسلاح لأجهزتها الأمنية والعسكرية، فضلًا عن وجود عدد غير معروف من المستشارين العسكريين الأميركيين على الأرض اليمنية. وبحسب دراسة لـ "مركز أبحاث الكونغرس"، قدَّمت الولايات المتحدة لليمن، في الفترة 2009 – 2014، مساعدات بقيمة مليار وأربعمئة مليون دولار، أغلبها من وزارة الخارجية والوكالة الأميركية للتنمية الدولية. ويشير التقرير إلى تلقي اليمن نحو 370 مليون دولار من وزارة الدفاع الأميركية لمحاربة القاعدة. غير أنّ استقالة الرئيس هادي وحدوث فراغ سياسي ودستوري في اليمن، وضع استراتيجية أوباما التي تتطلب وجود شركاء على الأرض أمام تحديات كبيرة، نُجمل أهمها في النقاط الآتية:
• تحتاج الهجمات التي تشنها طائرات أميركية من دون طيار في اليمن ضدّ تنظيم القاعدة إلى تخويل سلطة شرعية. وقد كان الأمر المعمول به، إلى لحظة استقالة هادي، أنّ هذه الضربات يوافق عليها الرئيس شخصيًّا، بحسب ما أشار هادي نفسه، في مقابلة مع صحيفة واشنطن بوست، بعد تسلُّمه زمام الحكم، خلفًا لعلي عبد الله صالح عام 2012. أمّا الآن، فقد بدأت البلاد، في ظلّ عدم وجود رئيس وحكومة، تنزلق إلى الفوضى، وهو ما سوف يُعقِّد، من دون شك، جهد الولايات المتحدة في الحرب ضدّ تنظيم القاعدة.
• تعتمد الولايات المتحدة في هجمات طائراتها من دون طيار على الجهد الاستخباري البشري الذي تقدمه أجهزة الاستخبارات اليمنية. وفي ظلّ فراغ السلطة، لا يبدو واضحًا إن ظلت هذه الأجهزة تعمل على نحوٍ مؤسسي، وإن كانت قادرةً على تحقيق أهدافها السابقة، وتقديم المعلومات بالكفاءة نفسها. أمّا مسألة إرسال قوات برية أميركية، أو فِرق استخبارية، لتعويض النقص المعلوماتي من أجل مجابهة القاعدة على أرض اليمن، فإنها تبدو، حتى الآن، خيارًا بعيد الاحتمال، خصوصًا في ظلّ الفوضى التي تضرب ذلك البلد، وخوف الولايات المتحدة من أن تتحول قواتها إلى أهداف متحركة لتنظيم القاعدة.
• تخشى الولايات المتحدة أن يتحوَّل اليمن إلى دولة فاشلة، وتحوُّل الصراع فيه إلى صدام طائفي مفتوح ما بين الحوثيين وسائر الأطراف. فوقوع مثل هذا السيناريو قد يعني إعادةَ إنتاجٍ للمشهد السوري، أو العراقي؛ ما يسمح للقاعدة بالتمدد أكثر فأكثر في الوسط السنِّي، الساخط بسبب سيطرة أقلية على البلد.
• ثمَّة قلق أميركي من أن يتجاوز الصراع في اليمن حدود ذلك البلد، ليصبح حربًا بالوكالة بين المملكة العربية السعودية التي تشعر بأنها مهدَّدة بالتمدد الحوثي على حدودها الجنوبية من جهة، وإيران الداعمة الرئيسة للحوثيين من جهة أخرى.

خيارات إدارة أوباما
في حال فشل قيام حكومة يمنية مركزية قوية، تحظى بشرعية محلية ودولية، وانتقال اليمن إلى حالة الفوضى والتشظي، سوف تجد إدارة أوباما نفسها في سياقِ ما تصفه حربًا ضدّ الإرهاب في اليمن، أمام خيارات رئيسة ثلاثة، هي:
• أن توقف الولايات المتحدة، من جانب واحد، هجمات طائراتها من دون طيار ضدّ تنظيم القاعدة في اليمن؛ نظرًا إلى عدم وجود سلطة محلية، تحظى بشرعية تخولها استمرار القيام بهذه الهجمات، فلا تُتَّهم بخرق سيادة البلد والاعتداء على أراضيه. لكنّ هذا الاحتمال ضعيف. فعلى الرغم من فراغ السلطة في اليمن، حاليًّا، فإنّ واشنطن تتصرف كما لو كان كلّ شيء طبيعيًّا، وحتى السفارة الأميركية في صنعاء، على الرّغم من أنها خفضت عدد العاملين فيها، مازالت تزاول عملها كالمعتاد. كما أنّ إدارة أوباما لم تعلن عن نيتها سحْب مستشاريها
العسكريين الموجودين في اليمن الذين يُفرض تعتيم كلِّي على أعدادهم. وعلى الرغم من أنّ بعضهم يخشى تكرار سيناريو سبتمبر/أيلول 2012؛ ذلك الهجوم على القنصلية الأميركية في ليبيا الذي قُتل فيه السفير الأميركي، وعدد من مساعديه وحراسه، فإنّ الخارجية الأميركية تؤكِّد أنّ السفارة الأميركية في صنعاء مُؤمَّنة تأمينًا جيدًا، فضلًا عن إعلان الولايات المتحدة وجود بارجتين حربيتين في البحر الأحمر، احتياطًا لأيِّ طارئ حتى تُخليَ سفارتها وتُجليَ موظفيها وعناصرها عن اليمن، إن لزم الأمر.
• أن تواصل الولايات المتحدة هجماتها على تنظيم القاعدة عبْر طائرات من دون طيار، من دون تخويل يمني شرعي، وهو احتمال مرجَّح في حال عدم وجود حكومة مركزية شرعية يمكن للولايات المتحدة أن تعمل معها. فالولايات المتحدة تقوم بهذا الأمر في أماكن عديدة من العالم، ضاربةً بمسائل السيادة والقوانين عُرض الحائط.

• أن تتعاون الإدارة الأميركية، بطريقة غير مباشرة، مع الحوثيين في الحرب ضدّ تنظيم القاعدة في اليمن، وهو خيار تزداد احتمالات حصوله، في ظلّ وجود تحالف موضوعي بين الولايات المتحدة من ناحية، وإيران وعموم التنظيمات الشيعية السياسية في المنطقة من ناحية أخرى، ضدّ تيارات وتنظيمات سنِّية؛ مثل القاعدة، وأنصار الشريعة في اليمن، وتنظيم الدولة، والنصرة، في العراق وسورية، وغيرهما، ولا سيما أنّ العداء الذي يعلنه الحوثيون لأميركا لا يعدو أن يكون شعارًا. فلم يُعرف عنهم تعرضهم للمصالح الأميركية في اليمن، أو غيرها، بل إنهم، عندما اجتاحوا العاصمة صنعاء في أيلول/ سبتمبر 2012، أولَوا حماية السفارة الأميركية أولويةً مطلقةً، على الرغم من أنّ راياتهم كانت تحمل شعار "الموت لأميركا، الموت لإسرائيل". بل ثمَّة من يذهب، في واشنطن، إلى أبعد من ذلك بالقول إنّ الحوثيين قد يكونون أكثر فعاليةً من حكومة هادي، في محاربة تنظيم القاعدة؛ بسبب العداوة المذهبية والسياسية بينهما. وتزداد قوَّة هذا الاحتمال في ظلّ رفض إدارة أوباما وصف ما جرى في اليمن بأنه انقلاب.
في السياق نفسه أيضًا، يُمكن فهْم صمت إدارة أوباما عن التمدد الحوثي في اليمن، وخصوصًا في ما يتعلّق بسيطرتهم، في ديسمبر/كانون أول 2014، على مدينة الحديدة الساحلية على البحر الأحمر، واقترابهم من مضيق باب المندب الذي يُشكِّل، إضافةً إلى مضيق هرمز، عصبًا لنقل نفط منطقة الخليج العربي إلى العالم. وممَّا يضاعف الارتياب في الموقف الأميركي تصريح الناطق الرسمي باسم البيت الأبيض، جوش إيرنست، في مؤتمر صحافي يوم 23 يناير/كانون ثاني 2015، إنه ليس لدى إدارته أيُّ معلومات تؤكِّد أنّ إيران "تمارس أيَّ نوعٍ من القيادة والسيطرة على الحوثيين"، ويتضمّن هذا التصريح إمكانيةً متمثِّلة بأن تُقرِّر الولايات المتحدة العمل مع الحوثيين، لمحاربة تنظيم القاعدة في اليمن، في سياق ترتيبات إقليمية، يكون لإيران في صوغها وقيادتها دور كبير.

خاتمة

تبدو إدارة أوباما مسكونةً بهاجس محاربة التنظيمات الجهادية، "السنِّية" تحديدًا. فهي تَعُدُّ هذه التنظيمات "الخطر الأكبر" على أمنها ومصالحها، وهي تتَّبع في مواجهتها استراتيجيات تعتمد على الاشتباك البعيد؛ باستخدام طائرات من دون طيار، والتعاون الأمني والاستخباري مع قوًى محلية، تقوم واشنطن بتدريبها وتسليحها، لتجنُّب إنزال قوات أميركية على الأرض في مواجهة هذه التنظيمات. لكنّ هذه الاستراتيجية التي تهتم بإيجاد حلول آنية لمشكلات عصية تبدو قصيرة النظر، لأنها تؤدِّي إلى إنتاج مشكلات أكبر من تلك المشكلات نفسها؛ وذلك من خلال تجاوزها لدور الدولة، والمساهمة في تقويضها أيضًا، في مقابل تعزيز أدوار أطراف أخرى، تُمثِّلها ميلشيات تتكاثر في أنحاء المنطقة، كما يتكاثر نبات الفطر، وهو أمرٌ ستكون له، من دون شكٍّ، تداعيات كبيرة على المصالح الأميركية أيضًا.

Daggers drawn, but Israel and Hizballah likely prefer restraint

By Jonathan Cook

Link

Analysis: They may be closer than ever since 2006 to full-blown conflict, but there are good reasons for both the Lebanese group and Israel's political leadership to keep a lid on tensions.
Israeli politicians responded with outrage to Hizballah’s attack on Wednesday on an Israeli military convoy close to the Lebanese border. Anti-tank missiles killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded seven more.

With Israel and Hizballah at the closest point to a major confrontation since their month-long war in 2006, Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, called for a “very harsh and disproportionate” response.
    To those who are challenging us in the north, I suggest you look at what happened in the Gaza Strip.

- Binyamin Netanyahu
Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, echoed him. “To those who are challenging us in the north, I suggest you look at what happened in the Gaza Strip,” he said, referring to Israel’s Operation Protective Edge last summer that killed more than 2,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians.

Following the soldiers’ deaths, Israel struck southern Lebanon, killing a United Nations peacekeeper. It is unclear if or what further action Israel intends to take.

But the truth is that Hizballah’s attack was the very minimum retaliation Israel could realistically expect following an air strike earlier this month on a Hizballah convoy in southern Syria.

That attack, on January 18, killed six Hizballah commanders and several members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, including a general.

Israel’s offensive could not have been timed to inflict greater humiliation on Hizballah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah. Two days before he had made a speech in which he warned Israel against launching attacks into Syria and threatened that Hizballah would respond with long-range rockets.

Hizballah appears to want this episode to draw to a close. Israel’s defence minister, Moshe Yaalon, confirmed on Thursday that he had received such a message from Hizballah delivered through UN peacekeepers. Iran, however, may be planning its own retaliation.

The more pressing question is whether Israel will let the matter drop.

On Thursday, Netanyahu sought to place the blame on Iran rather than Hizballah: “It is Iran that stands behind the attack on us yesterday from Lebanon.”

Opportunistic attack
There are grounds for suspecting that Israel’s original January 18 strike had little or nothing to do with its stated aim: to prevent an imminent attack on Israel.

More likely, it was partly opportunistic – according to Israeli media reports, the Iranian general left on a cell phone, revealing his location – partly driven by Netanyahu’s personal calculations as he faces elections, and partly strategic.

As ever, Netanyahu is desperate to cast Iran in the role of bogeyman, in the hope of upsetting the talks between Tehran and the western powers on Iran’s nuclear energy programme – his own political hobby horse. Those negotiations have shown signs of progress.

Netanyahu has already mobilised much of the US Congress to his side, with US legislators threatening to impose tougher sanctions on Iran.

The emphasis Netanyahu places on subverting the negotiations can be inferred from his decision to infuriate the White House by engineering an invite to address the Congress in early March to further his cause.

Hizballah and Iran are therefore keen to avoid stepping into Netanyahu’s trap. Wednesday’s deadly attack was carefully calibrated to make it hard for him to escalate matters further.

The anti-tank missiles were fired from an area known as the Shebaa Farms, a seven-mile strip of mountainous territory between Lebanon and Syria. Sovereignty over the area is disputed.

Lebanon claims it as Lebanese, a position traditionally backed by Syria. But Israel argues it is part of the Syrian Golan Heights and was therefore illegally annexed to Israel along with the Heights back in 1981. Under much pressure from Israel and Washington, the United Nations has backed Israel’s claim.

In practice, however, the Shebaa Farms is territory no one controls. Israel Ziv, the former head of Israeli army operations, explained to Israeli journalists on Wednesday the “gentleman’s agreement” with Hizballah. “Generally, what happens in Shebaa, stays in Shebaa,” he said.

Playing it cautious
That was obviously Hizballah’s working assumption as it launched its strike on Wednesday.

Had it hit from Syria, it risked opening the door to more Israeli attacks on Syrian army positions, further weakening the regime as it struggles against opposition forces trying to topple it.

And had it launched the missiles from Lebanon, it would have justified an Israeli response against Lebanon, drawing Beirut into the Syrian war and unleashing a wave of domestic criticism of Hizballah.

The Shia militia also indicated its desire to close the matter by firing precise missiles at a military target rather than, as Nasrallah had suggested before Israel’s attack on January 18, by launching rockets at Israeli communities in the north.

Further, no effort appears to have been made to capture any of the surviving soldiers, as Hizballah did in 2006, triggering the war with Israel. Certainly a captured soldier would have raised the pressure on Netanyahu considerably to escalate hostilities.

In truth, the Israeli elections may stay Netanyahu’s hand. Should he seek a major escalation, Israeli military analyst Ron Ben Yishai noted, his opponents would accuse him of waging a “political war”, and one that would inevitably result in Hizballah rocket fire on Israel.

Influential columnist Ari Shavit concluded similarly: “The Israeli people will neither forgive nor forget the one who brings missiles to Ben-Gurion Airport, to the Kirya government and IDF compound, and to Tel Aviv’s skyscrapers.”

More likely, Netanyahu will seek to contain events for the time being.

Confrontation looming
Nonetheless, sooner or later Israel can be expected to push for a major confrontation with Hizballah and Iran in Syria.

Israel’s generals are concerned that the two may gain a permanent foothold in Quneitra province, the region on the other side of the ceasefire lines from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. They are – as is Israel – keen to fill the power vacuum created last summer by the Syrian army’s loss of control over the area to rebel groups.

Israel wants to maintain its freedom to operate in Syrian skies unimpeded and appears to be working closely with the rebels in the area north of the Golan Heights.

In its security-obsessed worldview, any effort by Hizballah – Israel’s most effective regional foe – to establish such a base close to the Golan will be perceived as a major strategic threat.

On Wednesday night, Netanyahu told his security cabinet: “For some time now Iran is trying, via Hizballah, to set up a terrorist front against us in the Golan Heights. We are working aggressively and responsibly against this attempt.”

Israel has been working to that end through a series of air strikes in Syria to weaken the Syrian army and its Hizballah ally, and through proxies, making opportunistic alliances with Syrian opposition forces, including the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. It may even secretly work with Islamic State if it believes that will damage Hizballah and the Syrian regime.

The stakes are, of course, no less serious for Hizballah and Iran. Israel’s goal of undermining the Syrian regime and army would push Syria further into the mire of feuding sects and militias.

The emerging chaos in southern Syria, fuelled in part by Israeli interventions, offers Israel a final benefit. It has consolidated the consensus in Israel against ever returning the Golan Heights to Syria and removed any international pressure to do so.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

ويستمر الحوار اليمني - الرسام عماد حجاج

DNA 28/01/2015: "حزب الله".. وعملية مزارع شبعا



ANOTHER GREAT VIDEO!

Real News Video: American Sniper: Honoring a Fallen Hero or Whitewashing a Murderous Occupation?

Journalist Max Blumenthal says the film American Sniper promotes lies falsehoods about Navy SEAL Chris Kyle along with the US invasion and occupation of Iraq

As 18 Die on Anniversary of Revolution, Egypt Intensifies Crackdown on Activists, Journalists

Democracy Now!

"At least 18 protesters have been killed as they marked the anniversary of the 2011 uprising in Egypt that toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak, in the bloodiest demonstrations since General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power. A viral video also shows Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, a leading member of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, being shot dead Saturday at a protest near Tahrir Square. "Like all social change, the fight for democracy in Egypt and across the region is going to continue," says Karim Amer, producer of "The Square," which documented the Egyptian revolution of 2011 from its roots in Tahrir Square and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2014. "What keeps us optimistic is the same critical mass of young people you saw in 'The Square' ... who are continuing to stand up." We also speak with film’s director, Jehane Noujaim, about Sanaa El Seif, an assistant producer who worked on "The Square" and is now in prison in Egypt...."

Dear Syria: From One Refugee to Another

Link

By Ramzy Baroud
Do not ever kneel. Do not ever kiss a hand. Don’t give anyone the satisfaction to exploit your pain. (Via MEE)
Whenever the word “refugee” is uttered, I think of my mother. When Zionist militias began their systematic onslaught and “cleansing” of the Palestinian Arab population of historic Palestine in 1948, she, along with her family, ran away from the once peaceful village of Beit Daras.
Back then, Zarefah was six. Her father died in a refugee camp in a tent provided by the Quakers soon after he had been separated from his land. As a young girl, she collected scrap metal to help her family.
My grandmother, Mariam, would venture out to the “death zone” that bordered the separated and newly established state of Israel from Gaza’s refugee camps to collect figs and oranges. She faced death every day. Her children were all refugees, living in shatat – Diaspora.
My mother lived to be 42. Her life was tremendously difficult. She married a refugee, my father, and together they brought seven refugees into this world – my brothers, my sister and myself. One died as a toddler from a very curable childhood illness, but there was no medicine in the refugee camp’s clinic.
No matter where we are, in time and place, we carry our refugee ID cards, our undefinable nationalities, our precious status, our parents’ burden, our ancestors’ grief.
In fact, we have a name for it. It is called waja - aching – a characteristic that unifies millions of Palestinian refugees all across the globe. With our refugee population now dominated by second, third or even fourth generation refugees, it seems that our waja is what we hold in common most. Our geographies may differ, our languages, our political allegiances, our cultures, but ultimately, we meet around the painful experiences that we have internalised throughout generations.
My mother used to say – Ihna yalfalastinieen damitna qaribeh – “Tears for us Palestinians are always close by.” But our readiness to shed tears is not a sign of weakness, far from it. It is because throughout the years we managed to internalise our own exile, and its many ramifications, along with the everyone else’s exiles. The emotional burden is great.
We mask the unbearable aching somehow, but it is always close to the surface. If we hear a single melody by Marcel Khalifeh or Sheikh Imam, or a few verses by Mahmoud Darwish, the wound is as fresh as ever.
Most of us no longer live in tents, but we are reminded of our refugee status every single day, by the Israeli occupation, by the Gaza siege and the internally-displaced Palestinians in Israel, by the Iraq war and the displacement of the already displaced Palestinians there, by the despicable living conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, and throughout the Middle East.
But for us, Syria has been our greatest waja in years. Aside from the fact that most of Syria’s half a million Palestinian refugees are on the run again, living the pain of displacement and loss for the second, third, or even fourth time, nine million Syrian refugees are now duplicating the Palestinian tragedy, charting the early course of the Palestinian Nakba, the catastrophe of 1948.
Watching the destitution of the Syrian refugees is like rewinding the past, in all of its awful details. Watching Arab states clamour to aid the refugees with ample words and little action feels as if we are living the Arab betrayal all over again.
I watched my grandparents die, followed by my parents and many of my peers. All of them died refugees, carrying the same status and the same lost hope of return. The most they ever received from the “international community” was a few sacks of rice and cheap cooking oil. And, of course, numerous tents.
With time, our refugee status morphed from being a “problem” to an integral part of our identities. Being a “refugee” at this stage means insisting on the Right of Returnfor Palestinian refugees as enshrined in international law. That status is no longer just a mere reference to physical displacement but also to a political, even a national identity.
Political division may, at times, dominate Palestinian society, but we will always be united by the fact that we are refugees with a common cause: going home. While, for the Palestinians of Yarmouk near Damascus, being a refugee is a matter of life and death – often by starvation – for the larger Palestinian collective, the meaning of the word has become more involved: it has been etched onto our skin forever.
But what can one say by way of advice to the relatively new refugees of Syria, considering that we are yet to liberate ourselves from a status that we never sought?
There can be only reminders and a few warnings:
First, may your displacement end soon. May you never live the waja of displacement to the extent that you embrace it as a part of your identity, and pass it on from one generation to another. May it be a kind of fleeting pain or passing nightmare, but never a pervasive, everyday reality.
Second, you must be prepared for the worst. My grandparents left their new blankets in their village before they fled to the refugee camps because they feared they would have been ruined by the dust of the journey. Alas, the camps became home, and the blankets were confiscated as the rest of Palestine was. Please remain hopeful, but realistic.
Third, don’t believe the “international community” when they make promises. They never deliver, and when they do, it is always for ulterior motives that might bring you more harm than good. In fact, the term itself is illusory, mostly used in reference to Western countries which have wronged you as they have us.
Fourth, don’t trust Arab regimes. They lie. They feel not your pain. They hear not your pleas, nor do they care. They have invested so much in destroying your countries, and so little in redeeming their sins. They speak of aid that rarely arrives and political initiatives that constitute mostly press releases. But they will take every opportunity to remind you of their virtues. In fact, your victimhood becomes a platform for their greatness. They thrive at your expense, thus will invest to further your misery.
Fifth, preserve your dignity. I know, it is never easy to maintain your pride when you sleep in a barren street covered in cardboard boxes. A mother would do whatever she can to help her children pass into safety. No matter, you must never allow the wolves awaiting you at every border to exploit your desperation. You must never allow the emir, or his children or some rich businessman or sympathetic celebrity to use you as a photo-op. Do not ever kneel. Don’t ever kiss a hand. Don’t give anyone the satisfaction to exploit your pain.
Sixth, remain united. There is strength in unity when one is a refugee. Don’t allow political squabbles to distract you from the greater battle at hand: surviving until the day you return home, and you will.
Seventh, love Syria. Yours is an unparalleled civilisation. Your history is rife with triumphs that were ultimately of your own making. Even if you must leave to distant lands, keep Syria in your hearts. This too shall pass, and Syria shall redeem its glory, once the brutes are vanquished. Only the spirit of the people shall survive. It is not wishful thinking. It is history.
Dear Syrian refugee, it has been 66 years and counting since my people’s dispossession began. We are yet to return, but that is a battle for my children, and their children to fight. I hope yours ends soon. Until then, please remember the tent is just a tent, and the gusts of cold wind are but of a passing storm.
And until you return home to Syria, don’t let the refugee become who you are, as you are so much more.
- Ramzy Baroud – www.ramzybaroud.net – is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. He is currently completing his PhD studies at the University of Exeter. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).

Shalom again, Barack

Phone call, the sequel.


By Marwan Bishara
avatar

BO: Shalom Bibi, I didn't expect your call so soon…
BN: We hung up on a bitter note and I was hoping we could find a middle ground.
BO: I can't see a middle ground here. Besides you have an election coming up and we cannot seem to be siding with any one side.
BN: Mr President, I am preoccupied by Iran's nuclear programme, not the elections. I am driven by the solemn commitment to Israel's security, not politics.
BO: You don't say! Unless you're planning to leak our chat, I can't see the point of this lofty talk; we're all political animals dear Bibi … no shame in that, I just prefer if you did it in your own backyard.
BN: You must believe me. I won't say it if I didn't mean it.
BO: Look, I am not questioning your sincerity, I am questioning your judgement; coming two weeks before the elections can only be perceived as exploiting the nuclear issue for narrow personal or political end. Frankly, it stinks of opportunism.
BN: Barack, I am calling out of consideration not desperation. What makes you think I am worried about the elections or the visit? I can easily make the speech and get re-elected prime minister come spring time.
BO: Judging from our diplomatic cables and the media reports, you are becoming ever more isolated, no one supports your visit, not even your friends in the Democratic Party, as well as your advisers and lobbyists, all are asking you to back off and cancel the visit.  Your gamble has clearly backfired.
BO: Judging from our diplomatic cables and the media reports, you are becoming ever more isolated, no one supports your visit, not even your friends in the Democratic Party, as well as your advisers and lobbyists, all are asking you to back off and cancel the visit. Your gamble has clearly backfired.
BN: Perhaps you and your people pay too much attention to the liberal press. I don't exactly care for the NY Times and Haaretz; their readerships aren't exactly my constituency.
BO: Benjamin, I read the signs, and yours are bleak. You've bitten off more than you can chew. If you're seeking my help to avoid choking on your own ambition, I'll happily oblige, but only if you call off the speech. That's unless you've had a sudden change of heart and decided to support our diplomacy.
BN: I couldn't and wouldn't call it off. That would be a major slap to Congress and its leadership. There should be another way out that doesn't undermine the White House or Congress and I am hoping we can explore it together.
BO: There's no way out. The only option that I can think of - one that was suggested by one of your lobbyists - is for you to postpone until well after the elections. Since you are sure of winning, I suggest you come late spring or summer. And perhaps we could also meet then.
BN: You want me to come speak to both Houses of Congress about the threat of Iran's nuclear programme after you've signed a deal with President Rouhani! Who's disingenuous now!
BO: Either way you won't get your way, Mr Prime Minister. Senator Robert Menendez and nine other Democratic senators have already sent me a letter to say they had withdrawn their support for another sanctions bill until the diplomatic process ran its course. We are betting on a peaceful resolution to the Iranian issue.  
BN: I am sure this will not stop the Republicans from going ahead with a bill. Meanwhile, I am only trying to mitigate a potential crisis and see whether we could arrive at a compromise of sort.
BO: No compromises here. I am the Commander in Chief and I've decided to pursue a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear programme. The Senate Republicans might be able to pass a bill with a thin majority, but they won't be able to override my veto power. You are on the wrong side of the issue; worse, you're on the wrong side of history.
BN: Oh, history, right. Mr President many before have bet on peace and diplomacy in the Middle East, but they failed once and again. This region and its people only understand the alphabet of intimidation and the language of force. You'll fail like any of your predecessors who reckoned they could reason with these people.
BO: These people, as you call them, are your neighbours, not ours. You might have the illusions of being western, but you are a Middle Eastern nation whether you like it or not. And, by the way, "these people" say the same about you.
BN: Israel is a country of principle; a country that's fighting for its survival. We would never compromise on that. 
BO: Your neighbours and much of the world reckon that Israel is an occupier. That it's Israel that only understands the language of force. That you've withdrawn from the Sinai, Lebanon and Gaza only under the threat of force and war.
BN: Be that as it may, look where these withdrawals have gotten us. They certainly didn't bring us security or normalisation of relations. The Arabs and Muslims are hateful and won't make peace with us. Our only protection is our military.
BO: And the United States?
BN: Well, yes.
BO: You will never feel safe or even survive in the long run until you become part and parcel of the region. You need to make peace and normalise relations with your neighbours. Agreements are always better than war.
BN: We are a democratic Jewish State in a sea of chaotic Muslim countries. And the only way we can endure it is by maintaining military superiority and total control over the autonomous Palestinian areas. History shows that the Palestinians cannot be trusted. We've tried to work with them but they're not amenable to coexistence.
BO: You want to maintain control over them and treat them as inferior and still expect them to acquiesce to your dictates! I never said it to you in the past, and I won't say it publicly even when some have speculated about my thoughts, but I think your approach towards your Arab and Muslim neighbours reminds me of the European approach to Africa, just as your treatment of the Palestinians reminds me of America's past treatment of black people. It's racist if you don't mind me saying so. 
BN: Sorry Mr President but I won't allow you to say that about us, we the Jewish people have suffered from racism more than any other people and won't tolerate such criticism. We've already told Mr Kerry how much we opposed his reference to Apartheid in the absence of peace.
BO: You forget whom you're talking to. Let's not try and compare past suffering. The challenge here is not to compete over victimhood. Rather the challenge is to draw the right conclusion; to stand for justice and equality, or to project bigotry and or justify xenophobia and racism.
BN: Thank you for another sermon, but that's hardly the issue here. It certainly wouldn't mitigate the Iranian threat. If you care so much for the Palestinians why did you leave them at our mercy, we, quote, the occupier, unquote? Why would you barter their rights for our silence on Iran?
BO: Listen, eventually you must either separate from the Palestinians into two states, or you'll have to live with them in one state, as in South Africa. Remember, Iran represents no threat, nuclear or any other, if you and the Palestinians live TOGETHER in peace and harmony. Otherwise, it's Israel that will be isolated; it's Israel that will pay the price of choosing belligerence over diplomacy.
BN: I need to go Mr President, as I am getting reports that Hezbollah has just attacked our military on the northern borders.
BO: We shall condemn it.
BN: I rest my case.
BO: So do I...
Marwan Bishara is the senior political analyst at Al Jazeera.

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll


Do you expect that the confrontation between Hizbullah and Israel will escalate to an all-out war?

So far, 58% have voted no.


Information that the Syrians may not know

Dr Faisal Al-Qasim
Dr Faisal Al-Qasim





















Dr Faisal Al-Qasim

When the Wall Street Journal asked Bashar Al-Assad about the possibility of a revolution in Syria just months before its outbreak he replied, "Syria is not the same as Tunis." Some analysts believed that what he meant was that Syrians are happy with their leadership and that the regime considers itself to be a leader of resistance in the Arab world, and thus there is no way that the people would revolt against it. Today the opinion is different, with new information showing that Al-Assad meant that his regime, unlike those in Egypt and Tunisia, would not allow a revolution to spread and evolve even if it broke out; that he was ready to kill it at birth by using live ammunition on the streets and destroying whole cities over the heads of their inhabitants.

In his first speech after the outbreak of the revolution, Al-Assad was clear about what he had said to the US newspaper. He pointed out that his regime had managed to beat all conspiracies, and that he considered the revolution to be yet another conspiracy; thus, he would put an end to the domino effect of the Arab Spring and turn it around. What we are seeing now, therefore, is not an arbitrary response but something that has been planned carefully since before the beginning of the revolution.
Many had argued, naïvely I believe, that if the Syrian president had gone to Daraa, the birthplace of the revolution, and apologised for what his cousin, Atef Najib, the head of political security in the city, had done, everything would have been over there and then. Matters would not, it is said, have progressed to the current catastrophic situation in Syria.
In other words, what Najib did to the people of Daraa was an individual's error which could have been fixed with an apology. However, it is now believed that Najib was acting on the specific orders of Al-Assad. He did not pull out the finger- and toe-nails of Daraa's children or humiliate their parents on his own initiative simply because the children anti-Assad slogans on school walls. Far from it. He was ordered to punish any activity, no matter how insignificant, severely. This was what Al-Assad meant when he told the Wall Street Journal that his regime is not as gentle as Tunisia's.
Four months before the outbreak of the Syrian revolution, intelligence officials summoned a number of opposition figures to meetings where they were addressed by Tawfiq Younes, the Head of Internal Security in Damascus. He threatened them by telling them that he had strict orders from the president to shoot any Syrian who goes onto the streets to protest. The regime, he said, was ready to face any revolution, even if it had to destroy the country and kill hundreds of thousands of people in the process. Others have said that this means killing half of all Syrians if necessary.
The people cannot forget the presidential palace's infamous slogan: "Al-Assad or we will burn the country." It is clear, therefore, that there was a decision at the highest level to crush the revolution if it erupted. Al-Assad's speeches confirm that he would deal with a revolution using iron and fire, just as Iran crushed its Green Revolution of 2009.
If Najib was really guilty and had really made a mistake, the regime would have dealt with him, just as it has dealt with countless others over the years. Kinship or close relationships with the president mean nothing when the regime feels that it is threatened. It is well known that it is ready to crush those closest to it if they are a threat. Look at how Bashar's father Hafez Al-Assad dealt with his own brother Refaat when he stepped out of line; and how Ali Duba and Ali Haider were dealt with because of a word uttered before Bashar became president. Others have been assassinated for stepping out of line, but Atef Najib is still smoking his cigar at the Four Seasons Hotel in Damascus with the older governor of Daraa, Faisal Kalthoum, because Al-Assad's regime made a deal with Iran prior to the revolution; it would be dealt with the Iranian way.
This was clear from the first day of the Syrian revolution, when security officers used live ammunition on civilians and blamed "armed gangs". The military option was obvious the chosen way from the very beginning. How, then, can we believe Iran and Russia as they advocate a political solution? They are pushing for this because the situation has not gone the way that the regime wanted.
Advocates of a political solution at this point do so because the plan to crush the revolution has failed miserably, and the regime is facing defeat. Any negotiations from hereon are intended to save Al-Assad. Do not forget, though, that Bashar Al-Assad and his allies wanted to crush the revolution from the first day and end it through a military option, but failed; so why do some people want to save them from failure?
Translated from Al-Sharq newspaper, 25 January, 2015