Monday, November 24, 2014

Jordan: Vulnerable Refugees Forcibly Returned to Syria

Halt Deportations; Investigate Shooting

(Beirut) – Jordanian authorities have forcibly deported vulnerable Syrian refugees back to Syria in violation of Jordan’s international obligations. Those deported include wounded men and unaccompanied children.

Refugee deportations violate the international law principle of nonrefoulement, which forbids governments from returning people to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened. Those deported include a group of 12 Syrian refugees who had been receiving treatment at a rehabilitation center in northern Jordan as well as four refugees, three of them children, whom Jordanian border police intercepted near the Syrian border.

Jordan is carrying a heavy refugee burden, but it should not be in the business of sending any refugees back to a conflict zone where their lives are threatened, much less children and wounded men who can’t even walk,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “Such deportations create an environment of fear that affects all refugees.”

A Syrian refugee, Mohammed (not his real name), told Human Rights Watch that a Jordanian border patrol fired on two of his sons, ages 14 and 17, two of their cousins, both under 18,and a 20-year-old Syrian acquaintance as they rode motorcycles near the Syrian border at 12:30 p.m. on November 14, 2014. All are refugees registered with UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.

The 17-year-old was wounded in the right leg and is being treated at a hospital inside Jordan, his father said. The other four were deported. The children’s parents and siblings remain in Jordan.

Mohammed, who is living in the village of al-Turra, in Mafraq governorate 3 kilometers south of the Syrian border, said officials told him the four were deported for allegedly attempting to enter Syria illegally. But he disputes this, saying his sons told him that they were merely riding motorcycles in an area near the border and that they tried to flee when the border patrol spotted them and opened fire.

Jordanian officials should investigate the shooting incident, and in case of wrongdoing, penalize officers who used excessive force, Human Rights Watch said.

The five escaped the border patrol on November 14, but Jordanian police discovered their identities after Mohammed’s 17-year-old son entered the hospital for treatment. Police summoned the other four later that day, he said, and the families turned them over to police at 3 a.m. on November 15. Police held them in a police station until November 18, then moved them to the Raba Sarhan transit center, the Jordanian government’s registration center for Syrian refugee arrivals and departures, to process them for deportation.

Mohammed said that Jordanian security forces dropped his son and nephews at an informal border crossing near the Syrian village Tel Shihab and ordered them across. He said they will return to their hometown of Tafas a few kilometers away and seek shelter with relatives there.

In another incident, on September 16, Jordanian authorities sent back the 12 Syrians, most of whom had refugee certificates, who had been receiving treatment at Dar al-Karama rehabilitation center in the northern city of al-Ramtha. A Syrian refugee, Saeed (not his real name), who knew the deportees, and a humanitarian worker told Human Rights Watch that Jordanian police raided and forcibly closed the center, then took away the men being treated there and deported them.

Saeed said that the group included six paralyzed men and six wounded people – including two children – who require regular care. All went to private homes in the Syrian city of Daraa city on September 16, but these homes do not have the capacity or resources to provide them with adequate care, he said. Al Jazeera conducted avideotaped interview with one of the wounded deportees in Daraa on September 20.

Human Rights Watch spoke by phone with one of the deported refugees, a 17-year-old who requires further medical treatment for an eye injury. He told Human Rights Watch that authorities did not tell the 12 the reason for their deportation or allow them to contact UNHCR. He is staying with relatives but hopes to re-enter Jordan to reunite with his mother and other family members.

A Jordanian government spokesperson told Human Rights Watch that the authorities closed the rehabilitation center because it was not licensed by the Health Ministry and the Syrian medical personnel operating the hospital were not licensed to practice in Jordan. The spokesperson denied that Jordan deported the refugees, stating that they had been “relocated in other hospitals to get the proper treatment by practicing doctors,” but the spokesperson did not say where.

Saeed and a Jordanian involved with the rehabilitation center told Human Rights Watch that while the center was not officially licensed by Jordan’s Health Ministry, its operators were in discussions with Jordanian officials regarding the status of the center, which had functioned for nearly two years without any major incidents.

Saeed told Human Rights Watch that the center did not accept undocumented refugees and that all those deported had the security certificates from Jordan’s Public Security Directorate that are given only to registered refugees. The humanitarian worker could not confirm that all of the deported wounded were registered refugees, but did confirm that at least some were properly documented and had the security certificates.

The Daraa governorate has been the site of fierce clashes between the Free Syrian Army, the Islamic Front, Jabhat al-Nusra, Syrian armed forces, and other armed groups for more than three years. Jordan has allowedthousands of war-wounded Syrians to seek treatment inside the country since the beginning of the conflict, coordinating with field hospitals run by Syrian opposition groups to transport urgent cases over the border and into Jordanian medical facilities.

According to an October report by the Syria Needs Analysis Project (SNAP), a nongovernmental monitoring group that provides independent analysis of the humanitarian situation of those affected by the Syrian crisis, “the number of refoulements of Syrian refugees [by Jordan] has increased in September [2014], particularly of those with invalid or outdated documentation or who have gone to Syria and returned back to Jordan.” An August Human Rights Watch report documented Jordan’s discriminatory treatment of Palestinians from Syria, including deportation of 16 Palestinians to Syria since the beginning of 2013.

International humanitarian workers confirmed to Human Rights Watch that in late September, Jordan closed its border to nearly all refugees fleeing Syria. The SNAP report stated that “5,000 Syrians were stranded [in the border] with the [Jordanian Armed Forces] denying humanitarian agencies access to the area.”

Jordan should immediately facilitate the return of all deported refugees who wish to re-enter Jordan, including children who want to reunite with their families, Human Rights Watch said. The authorities should cease deportations and open the borders to Syrian refugees.

While Jordan is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol, Jordan is nevertheless bound by the customary international law principle that that a country may not push back or return a refugee or asylum seeker to a country where there is a risk that the person’s life or freedom would be threatened or where they would face a serious risk of torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.

Deportations of unaccompanied children violate Jordan’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Jordan ratified in 1991. The convention states that countries “shall take appropriate measures to ensure that a child who is seeking refugee status or who is considered a refugee … shall, whether unaccompanied or accompanied by his or her parents or by any other person, receive appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance.” Under article 9 of the convention, Jordan is obliged to “ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child.”

“As fighting in southern Syria intensifies, now is not the time for Jordan to harden its stance toward refugees who have nowhere else to flee,” Houry said. “Jordan certainly will want to secure its border, but it should not be turning its back on its neighbors.”

After Vowing to End Combat Mission in Afghanistan, Obama Secretly Extends America’s Longest War

Democracy Now!

PFLP: the rise and fall of Palestine's socialists

By Ramzy Baroud
Asia Times

When news reports alleged that the two cousins behind the Jerusalem synagogue attack on November 18 were affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a level of confusion reigned. Why the PFLP? Why now? 

The attack killed five Israelis and wounded others. It was, to a degree, an expected addition to a violent episode caused by police-sanctioned right-wing violence and abuse targeting the Palestinian population of the illegally occupied East Jerusalem. Much of the violence targeting Palestinians is systematic, involving severe restrictions on Palestinian movement, targeting houses of worship, and nightly attacks by Jewish mobs assailing Arabs, or anyone who may be suspected of being one. It also included the hanging, lynching and burning alive of Jerusalem Arab residents. 

Palestinians responded in kind. But most of their violent responses seemed to be confined to individual acts, compelled by despair, perhaps, but certainly removed from the organized nature of armed-resistance. 

Then, Ghassa and Odai Abu Jamal attacked the synagogue. The initial assumption was that the attack was also the work of individuals, before reports began linking them to the PFLP. 

Suddenly, the discussion shifted, from the relevance of the attack to the difficult situation in Jerusalem (both cousins were Jerusalemites) to something entirely different pertaining to the Marxist group's current standing between two dominant forces: a Fatah-led government in Ramallah, whose leadership has long-abandoned armed struggle, and an Islamic-dominated resistance groups led by Hamas in Gaza. 

Is the PFLP carving a new place for itself in anticipation of a third intifada? Or was the attack an anomaly? Was it ordered by the group's core leadership? And where is the PFLP heading anyway?

To begin with, there can be no easy answers. In fact, the PFLP's own muddled responses suggest an existing tussle within the group, if not politically, at least intellectually. Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the movement's militant arm issued a fiery statement, but refrained from taking responsibility. 

It was a clear attempt at walking a fine line between revolutionary language and a politically cautious discourse. It neither took responsibility for the attack, nor did it declare the attackers to be its members. Instead, it merely conveyed the Israeli accusation that the assailants were affiliated with the PFLP. Another statement declared the attackers as heroes, yet still took no responsibility. 

There is more than one context through which this issue can be discussed, but most urgent among them is PFLP's own identity, incessant decline in political relevance and the unavoidable intellectual conflict which has dogged the group since its formation by Marxist Arab nationalist Christian leader Dr George Habash in 1967. 

What was an expected soul-searching of one of Palestine's most progressive political movements starting in the 1960s throughout the '80s, became a political crisis necessitated by the decline of its strongest supporters, the Soviet Union and the East European bloc, and the signing of the Oslo accords a few years later. 

The inception of the PFLP, formed from several progressive Arab nationalist groups, in 1967 was a necessary retort to the failure of traditional Arab armies to fight Israel. The resounding Arab defeat in the 1967 war (known as Naksa, or the setback) ushered in the rise of an exclusively Palestinian political narrative, with, at times, desperate militant tactics to bring attention to the plight of the Palestinian people. 

The PFLP, which later declared itself a Marxist-Leninist organization, was still committed to pan-Arabism. It linked the liberation of Palestine to the loftier goal of liberating oppressed classes throughout the Arab world from corrupt, oppressive regimes. 

Although it can be argued that the PFLP's political ambitions by far exceeded its popularity on the ground, it has enjoyed disproportionate influence over the resistance discourse, partly because of the notable intellect and foresight of its founder, but also because of its early attempts at armed struggle outside the confines of Arab governments. 

Although the PFLP is often referenced in international media for its aircraft hijackings, mostly to free Palestinian political prisoners, its impact on the current course of armed resistance is much more profound. In the late 1960s and throughout the '70s, it made its presence felt in Gaza, at a time that Fatah was failing to establish a stronghold in the crowded and impoverished strip. Many of its members were killed fighting or assassinated, and others were captured to be imprisoned indefinitely. 

However, with time, disconnect grew between the group's striking rhetoric and the harsh reality in Palestine. While Arab nationalism was waning, the socialist bloc was quickly collapsing, leaving the PFLP to face difficult questions. And when Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo accords, the PFLP's dilemma grew more complicated. 

By then, the PFLP was no longer the second most influential Palestinian party, as has been the case for many years. Hamas, although operating outside the structure of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), offered more relatable language and enjoyed a more comprehensive grassroots presence. 

Like Hamas, but certainly unlike Fatah, PFLP remained largely immune from open internal conflicts, at least since the early splits it suffered in the late 1960s. In 2000, Habash gracefully stepped down, and Abu Ali Mustafa took over. The new leader returned to Ramallah with the understanding that the PFLP had changed its stance regarding its advocacy of a one state solution and its subtle agreement to the phased liberation model offered by Fatah.

Abu Ali Mustafa, himself another erudite intellectual was assassinated by Israel in August 2001, soon after his return. The new leader, Ahmad Sa'adat spent four years in a Palestinian Authority prison, before being kidnapped by Israeli forces in 2006 to be held in solitary confinement in Israel. 

Since then, the two-state solution discourse was abandoned, and occasional return to arms by PFLP fighters is registered somewhere in the West Bank. However, the only consistent and organized PFLP militant action persisted in Gaza. 

For years, the PFLP remained hostage to far-reaching ambition and radical language on one hand, and a reality that forced its members to adjust to an unpleasant status quo and disorganized action on the other. In 2006, the group won four percent of the popular vote in Palestine, merely three of the legislative council's 132 seats. It refused to enter into a coalition government with Hamas, which could have arguably reduced the isolation of the elected government, and it failed, although it tried, to construct a left-wing bloc involving other socialist and communist groups. 

Without strong backers outside Palestine, and fragmented political discourse that is divided between dominant Hamas and Fatah factions, the PFLP continues to be caught in own internal struggle. 

It matters little whether the cousins who attacked the synagogue in Jerusalem were affiliated with the PFLP or not; the repeated muddled statements by the group - justifying the attack, explaining it, owning it and disowning it all at once - matters more. This confusion is becoming symbiotic of the PFLP following the signing of Oslo. 

And while there are those who employ clever language to maintain the group's radical status, NGO perks and socialist prestige, others expect a more serious discussion of what the PFLP is and what it stands for after two decades of political failure, for which the PFLP, like Fatah and Hamas, should also be held accountable

Ramzy Baroud is an internationally syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the founder of His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). 

السلطة تخنق الضفة اتقاء "هبّة الأقصى"

تواصل الأجهزة الأمنية التابعة للسلطة في الضفة المحتلة حملات الملاحقة والاعتقال بحق الناشطين، التي كان آخرها اعتقال 10 من أنصار حركة حماس أواخر الأسبوع الماضي.
حالة القمع التي تقودها السلطة لم تقتصر على الاعتقال بل تجاوزتها لتصل حد الإرهاب لكل صوت يغرد خارج سربها ويعكر صفو التنسيق الأمني مع الاحتلال.
وتفسر ممارسات الأجهزة الأمنية خشيتها من أن ينالها نصيب من هبة الأقصى، فضلا عن أنها تريد إظهار التزامها بقرارات الاجتماع الرباعي الذي عقد في العاصمة الأردنية، عمان، الأسبوع الماضي.
منع الانتفاضة
الكاتبة لمى خاطر أكدت أن حملة الاعتقالات الأخيرة تحمل عدة رسائل، أولها إلى الاحتلال لتأكيد التزام السلطة بالسيطرة الميدانية على الضفة، والاستمرار في ملاحقة أفراد المقاومة، وثانيها "رسالة تخويف" لحماس، على خلفية التظاهرات والتحركات التي تنظمها منذ أشهر نصرةً للمسجد الأقصى.
وقالت خاطر إن حماس أكبر من أن يؤثر عليها اعتقال 10 أو مائة من أبنائها، مضيفة: "كان يجدر بأجهزة السلطة أن تأخذ العبرة من حملة الاعتقالات الشرسة التي نفذها الاحتلال في المحافظة بعد عملية أسر المستوطنين، والتي لم تفلح في إيقاف نشاط الحركة أو ترهيب أنصارها".
وحمّلت خاطر أجهزة أمن السلطة المسئولية الكاملة عن حياتها وزوجها، ودعت رئيس السلطة محمود عباس الى حماية حقوق الانسان بدلًا من الانتهاكات التي تمارسها اجهزته في الضفة.
يذكر أن خاطر طالتها حملات السلطة الأمنية لأكثر من مرة؛ نتيجة نقدها المستمر لسياساتها، فأقدمت على اعتقال زوجها ومداهمة منزلها لأكثر من مرة، ومصادرة بعض مقتنياتها الشخصية.
المنظمة العربية لحقوق الإنسان في بريطانيا قالت إن محاصرة منزل لمى خاطر، تأتي في سياق حملة اعتقالات شرسة تشنها أجهزة امن السلطة في الضفة بالتوازي مع حملة الاعتقالات والقمع الذي تنفذها قوات الاحتلال في الأراضي المحتلة لمنع أي مواجهات معه، في ظل الاعتداءات المتواصلة على المسجد الأقصى والمقدسيين.
وحملت المنظمة الرئيس عباس المسؤولية الكاملة عن هذه الانتهاكات، ودعت إلى وقف الاعتقالات فورا، ورفع اليد عن الاحتجاجات المساندة للمقدسيين في انتفاضتهم ضد الاحتلال.
على مشارف السلطة
وفي السياق نفسه، توقع مراقبون أن تستهدف المظاهرات التي تشهدها مدن الضفة بين الفينة والأخرى تضمانا مع الأقصى، أجهزة أمن السلطة في حال استمرار الأخيرة بقمع المشاركين فيها والقائمين عليها، خاصة أن احتجاجات القدس آخذة في التصاعد، ما يعني أن نفحات من تلك الاحتجاجات من الممكن أن تصل لمدن الضفة وتتطور بعدها على مواجهات مفتوحة مع الاحتلال والسلطة القائمة على حماية تواجده.
المحلل السياسي حسن عبدو اعتبر بدوره ممارسات السلطة وكبتها للحريات حالة ليست جديدة بالضفة، موضحا أن السلطة تسعى لمنع أي عمل يهددها أو يهدد الاحتلال "وهذا المشهد لم يتغير منذ سنوات"، وفق قوله.
ورأى أن الاعتقالات الأخيرة تأتي في سياق التزام السلطة بتعهداتها في القمة الأردنية، في محاولة لمنع حالة التدهور بالضفة.
وذكر أن احتجاجات القدس تأخذ الطابع العفوي "وبالتالي من الصعب إيقافها أو منع وصولها للضفة"، معتبرا ان ما يحدث حاليا انتفاضة "لكنها تختلف في شكلها عن الانتفاضات السابقة، خاصة أنها تتلاءم مع الوضع الحالي والظروف في الضفة".
وبحسب عبدو، فإن أهم ما يعيق تلك الانتفاضة ويقف في طريقها هو الانقسام وعدم إجماع الفصائل عليها، معتقدا أن المؤشرات تدفع باتجاه استمرار الاحتجاجات في القدس لأن اليمين المتطرف يدفع باتجاه استمرار دائرة العنف "بل يحاول مفاقمتها".
في حين أكد الشيخ رائد صلاح رئيس الحركة الإسلامية في الداخل أن أهل الضفة لا يمكن أن يكون موقفهم مما يحدث في القدس "موقف المتفرج"، مشيرا إلى أن أهل الضفة يريدون أن يؤكدوا موقفهم بحرصهم على قدسية الأقصى والمدينة المقدسة، "لكن على السلطة أن توفر لهم أجواء الحرية، ولا تعمل على قمع مسيراتهم كما حصل في الخليل ونابلس"، كما قال.
ونوّه إلى أن هذه فرصة ثمينة للسلطة لتؤكد على فشل مفاوضات السلام، وانحيازها لخيارات شعبها بالتحرر.
وأضاف صلاح: "الانتفاضة الثالثة انطلقت، وأهم ما يميزها أن المقدسي يشعر أنه يخوض معركة البقاء، بأن يكون أو لا يكون، وهو الآن أمام مخطط التطهير العرقي الذي يفرضه ويمارسه الاحتلال ضدهم".
ويذكر أن الأجهزة الأمنية في الضفة كانت قد اعتقلت الأسير المحرر مصعب الزغير، والأسير المحرر والطالب في جامعة الخليل مصعب قفيشة، والأسير المحرر تامر النتشة، بعد اعتقالها الطالب في جامعة الخليل عبد الله قفيشة، واستدعاء لكل من فراس مجاهد وعبيدة القواسمة.
كما داهم عناصر من جهاز المخابرات العامة في الخليل منزل المعتقل السياسي حازم الفاخوري، وفتشوه وصادروا أجهزة حاسوب وبعض المقتنيات الخاصة. فيما يواصل الشاب علاء ابريوش إضرابه المفتوح عن الطعام لدى جهاز الأمن الوقائي في الخليل لليوم الرابع على التوالي.
أما في محافظة رام الله، فقد اعتقل جهاز المخابرات العامة الشابين محمد عمر قرعان وسيف سامي قرعان من مدينة البيرة. وفي مدينة طولكرم، اعتقل جهاز الأمن الوقائي المواطن نافذ عبيد (44 عاماً)، وهو أسير محرر من سجون الاحتلال قبل شهرين، فيما تعرض لاعتقالات سياسية سابقة لدى الأجهزة الأمنية نهاية الأسبوع الماضي.

Egyptian president says his regime is ready to protect Israel

(Cartoon by Khalil Bendib)
Egyptian President Abdul-Fattah Al-Sisi told an Italian newspaper that his country is ready to send troops to Palestine in order to guarantee Israel's security and work jointly against terrorism.
In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Al-Sisi said: "We are prepared to send military forces inside a Palestinian state. They would help the local police and reassure Israelis in their role as guarantors."
The former military general stressed that any such troop deployment would only be for the time needed to restore trust between the two sides.
According to Reuters, Al-Sisi added that he has spoken about this idea 'at length' with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
"I told [Netanyahu] a courageous step was needed otherwise nothing would be resolved," he said.
Al-Sisi led the July 2013 military coup that ousted Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi. Since then, the Egyptian government has criminalised the Muslim Brotherhood organisation, which Morsi was a member of, and deepened the Israeli siege of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip by closing the Rafah Border crossing in order to raise pressure against the Islamic resistance movement Hamas, which is an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Israel – America’s Biggest Frenemy

The Jewish State in the Levant (JSIL?) is a burden we shouldn’t have to bear

by , November 24, 2014
Today [November 24, 2014] is the deadline for the closing of a deal with Iran regarding their nuclear program. No one should be surprised that Israel is marking this deadline with a threat to attack Iran regardless of the outcome of the negotiations. As the Jerusalem Post is reporting on its front page:
"Israel has issued a stark, public warning to its allies with a clear argument: Current proposals guarantee the perpetuation of a crisis, backing Israel into a corner from which military force against Iran provides the only logical exit."
This is a lie, and is widely recognized as such: the Israelis don’t have the military capacity to take out all the Iranian nuclear sites without American assistance. Aside from that, however, they never attack those capable of hitting back in any significant way, so we can write off this latest threat as just so much kvetching. Yet one has to wonder: is this the way an ally is supposed to act – never mind one that we enjoy a purported "special relationship" with?
The reality is that Israel is our biggest frenemy.
For decades the Israelis have lived off our largesse without having to offer anything of value in return – unless Israeli interference in American politics is considered of value. We’ve handed them over $3 billion a year in tribute, stood by while they subjected their Palestinian helots to conditions not seen since South Africa’s apartheid, and smiled tolerantly, as one would at an obstreperous child, while they noisily spat in our faces at every opportunity. And what have we gotten in return? Insults, interference, and outright threats – not to mention one of the most effective (and obnoxious) spying operations conducted on our soil by a foreign power.
For years, the War Party has been accusing Tehran of running a secret nuclear weapons program, although no convincing evidence of this has ever been produced. The Israelis and their international assets – notably the MEK terrorist group – have done their best to doctor up convincing forgeries, albeit to no avail. They’ve run all kinds of interference in order to prevent the normalization of US-Iranian relations. Their goal: to ensure that Israel’s regional monopoly on nuclear weapons remains intact.
Aside from North Korea, Israel is the only nuclear power that has managed to get away with thumbing its nose at the international community over this issue. The Iranians submitting themselves to a strict inspections regime will doubtless turn the world’s attention to the weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Israel’s leadership – a political class increasingly seen as extremist by outsiders. Steadfastly refusing to sign the Nonproliferation Treaty, along with North Korea, the Israelis have managed to maintain what is referred to as "nuclear ambiguity," but there is absolutely nothing ambiguous about the destructive power of their arsenal.
"Ambiguity" is not a concept that applies to Israel these days. There’s no doubt about where they stand – or what they are becoming. Their latest shtick: taking out the part about being a democracy in their Basic Law, and putting in "no Arabs need apply." Or, as The Age puts it: "
"The proposal would mean Israel would no longer be defined in its Basic Laws as ‘Jewish and democratic’ but instead as ‘the national homeland of the Jewish people.’"
What the great Israeli classical liberal Yeshayahu Leibowitz rightly called the "Judeo-Nazi" trend in that country’s political life has now come to the forefront: they aren’t pretending to be the Gallant Little Democracy of the Middle East any more. Nope, they’re coming out of the closet as ethno-religious fanatics, just like their opposite numbers a few kilometers away in the Islamic State. In tandem with the new law, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the introduction of legislationstripping "anti-Israel" Arab activists of their Israeli citizenship, along with their entire families. And so the Jewish State of Israel in the Levant – JSIL – is born.
In the past, the Israel lobby has offered a number of arguments in favor of maintaining the US-Israeli "special relationship." And while strategic military and geopolitical factors were a big part of their routine during the cold war era, with the collapse of communism this became less important and so a new party line was trotted out: the claim that we share important values with the Israelis, especially those associated with liberal democracy, i.e. tolerance, diversity, etc. Yet the truth of the matter is that Israel is no longer a liberal democracy: indeed, as they tighten the screws on their Palestinian untermenschen, the Jewish State in the Levant is becoming the mirror image of its authoritarian Arab neighbors.
In politics as in real estate, the dominant factor is location, location, location. In choosing the Middle East as the site of their "Jewish nation," the early Zionists ensured that their state would eventually lose touch with its European roots and become just another Oriental despotism. The Jewish settlers are said to have transformed the land, but in reality the opposite occurred: the land transformed them.
The Israelis think they are immune from condemnation: they think they can get away with torturing the Palestinians, provoking endless wars, and engaging in the kind of blatant racism that gets Hungary sanctioned as an "illiberal" state. And given the behavior of the political class in America and the West, they have every reason to think this kind of "Israeli exceptionalism" is going to hold, but they are living inside an illusion.
The Israel lobby is losing its grip: the American people – previously inclined to support Israel no matter what – show signs of waking up to the danger posed by our Israel-centric foreign policy. In Europe, where the Israel lobby has always been weaker, they are in real trouble. The Israelis’ recent slaughter in Gaza has done much to open the eyes of a new generation to real nature of the Jewish State in the Levant. That’s why the boycott and divestment campaign aimed at Israel is taking hold, despite the frantic efforts of Israel’s amen corner to smear and even outlaw it. (Yes, the illiberal policies of the Jewish State in the Levant are even seeping into the United States – a revolting prospect, indeed.)
Israel today is a tyranny on the order of the old South Africa, with one added factor: they are armed with nuclear weapons. As such, the Israelis represent a threat to the peace of the world, one far more dangerous than Iran will ever be. Their pernicious influence on American politics is the biggest arrow in the War Party’s quiver. In the end, as Americans rebel against the regime of perpetual war, this will be their undoing.

«السلطة الفلسطينية تخزّن الأسلحة ولا تستخدمها»

عرب ٤٨

شكك المحلل السياسي الفلسطيني، هاني المصري، بجدية قرار السلطة الفلسطينية التوجه إلى مجلس الأمن الدولي بطلب تحديد إطار زمني لإنهاء الاحتلال، كما شكك في تلويحها بالانضمام للمحكمة الدولية، معتبرا أنها تهديدات بلا رصيد ووصفها بأنها «كمن يخزن الأسلحة ولا يستخدمها».
وكان وزير الخارجية الفلسطيني، رياض المالكي، أجرى مقابلة مع موقع إخباري فلسطيني أكد فيها أن السلطة الفلسطينية قررت إرجاء التوجه لمجلس الأمن بسبب انشغال الدول الأعضاء بالملف الإيراني، لكن  بعد وقت قصير حذفت المقابلة من الموقع، وتنصل المالكي من تلك التصريحات ونفاها في بيان وصل 'عرب 48''.
وقال المصري لـ'عرب 48' إن تصريحات المالكي ونفيها في وقت لاحق  تعبر عن ميول لدى القيادة الفلسطينية لإرجاء هذه الخطوة، وأن قرارهم النهائي سيأتي بعد اجتماع لجنة مبادرة السلام العربية في 29 تشرين ثاني الجاري.
وأضاف المصري أن المالكي كشف عن النوايا الحقيقية للسلطة، وأن عودته عن تصريحاته يبدو أنها جاءت نتيجة لدفعه إلى نفي ما صرح به في وقت سابق عن اتخاذ السلطة الفلسطينية لقرارها بتأجيل التوجه لمجلس الأمن لانشغال أعضاء المجلس الدائمين بالملف الإيراني في فينا، واحتلال الملف الإيراني الأولوية لدى الأعضاء الدائمين في مجلس الأمن الدولي.
وتطرق المصري  إلى أسباب فشل الفلسطينيين في الحصول على دعم تسعة من الأعضاء الدائمين في مجلس الأمن، وقال: 'كل شيء يسير بشكل بطيئ فهم يحاولون الحصول على وعد أوروبي لدعم مشروع القرار مقابل التاجيل '.
وأضاف أن القيادة الفلسطينية غير مقتنعة بهذا التوجه ولا بالتوجه إلى المحكمة الدولية، وإذا ما اتت أي فرصة للتنصل من هذا التوجه  ستعمل على ذلك وهي مثل الذي يشتري أسلحة ولا يستعملها، خاصة وأننا نمتلك كنز من القرارات الدولية التي تدعو لإنهاء الاحتلال، إلا أن إرادة المواجهة غير موجودة وهي تعمل كمن يذر الرماد في العيون .
ورأى المصري أن  الدول التي اعترفت بالدولة الفلسطينية جاء اعترافها مشروطا بإقامة الدولة من خلال المفاوضات، وهذه الاعترافات  تأتي مشروطة أيضا بتجميد تحركنا في مجلس الأمن الدولي والمنظمات الدولية، وهذه الدول لا مانع لديها بأن تصدر لنا قرارات واعترافات  لكن الواقع على الأرض يؤكد على تصفية القضية الفلسطينية.
وحول ما يجري في القدس وموقف السلطة الفلسطينية منها، قال المصري إن السلطة ضد الانتفاضة والرئيس الفلسطيني قالها ويقولها أنه ضد اندلاع اية انتفاضات في عهده، وما يريدوه  أشكال محدودة  ورمزية من المواجهات على شكل الإكسسوارات.
وأضاف أن اعتبارات السلطة وأولويتها هي كبح امتداد الانتفاضة لبقية المناطق في الضفة الغربية، وأؤكد في هذا السياق: 'لا يوجد قيادة ولا توجد سلطة ولا تنظيم  يوفر الرافعة للانتفاضة'.
وأرجأت السلطة عرض القرار المتعلق بوضع إطار زمني لإنهاء الاحتلال على مجلس الأمن للتصويت عليه والذي كان مقررا هذا الشهر مبررة هذا القرار بانشغال الدول الأعضاء في المفاوضات الإيرانية الجارية في فينا.
بالإضافة للملف الإيراني الذي بات أولوية الدول الكبرى في مجلس الأمن على حساب الملف الفلسطيني، فإن الاتصالات بين القيادة الفلسطينية والدول الأعضاء حتى اللحظة لم تجند 9 أصوات فضلا عن معارضة أميركية شديدة للمشروع والتلويح بعقوبات على السلطة.
وكشف وزير الخارجية  أن القيادة الفلسطينية أخرت التوجه إلى مجلس الأمن لحين انتهاء المفاوضات بين الدول دائمة العضوية وإيران .
وكان الرئيس عباس قد حدد نهاية الشهر الحالي موعدا لتقديم مشروع القرار، لكن المالكي أكد أن القيادة لم تؤجل عرض المشروع والذي أعاقنا هو الموضوع الإيراني.
لكنه كشف في ذات الوقت عن أن المساعي والاتصالات مع الدول الأعضاء في مجلس الأمن فشلت حتى اللحظة في الحصول على حسم 9 أصوات لدعم التصويت على المشروع

Sunday, November 23, 2014

ضباط في جيش صدام حسين درّبوا «وحدات خاصة» لتنظيم «الدولة الإسلامية» شاركت في هجوم الرمادي

انطاكيا ـ الموصل ـ «القدس العربي» من وائل عصام وعمر الجبوري: قال ضابط رفيع من الجيش العراقي السابق انه وعددا من 
ضباط الجيش السابق يدربون منذ أشهر وحدات قتالية خاصة لتنظيم الدولة الإسلامية في الموصل، إحداها وحدة خاصة للاقتحام شاركت في هجوم الرمادي الأخير قبل يومين.
وتشير الانباء التي وردت من الرمادي إلى ان هجوم تنظيم الدولة الأخير تم بتكتيكات محترفة وبطريقة جديدة.
ومن ضمن الضباط الذين تحدثت «القدس العربي» إلى بعضهم عقيد ركن سابق في الجيش ينتمي لعشيرة العبيدي بمدينة الحويجة بكركوك، وعميد من أهالي الدور في صلاح الدين كان في مغاوير الحرس الجمهوري، ولواء ركن مظلي من أهالي العامرية في بغداد، وعقيد من زمار كان يعمل في مركز تدريب الموصل، ومقدم ركن من سامراء كان في الحرس الجمهوري وكان قد تم طرده من الجيش السابق بسبب عقيدته وفكره السلفي الذي كان محظورا في نظام حكم الرئيس السابق صدام حسين.
وكذلك من ضمن الضباط الذين يقومون بتدريب وحدات تنظيم الدولة هناك عقيد ركن من المقدادية بديالى سبق وأن تعرض أكثر من محاولة اغتيال من قبل الميليشيات الشيعية مما اضطره للسكن في الموصل.
وحدثنا أحد أبناء هؤلاء الضباط قائلاً «والدي هو برتبة لواء ركن قوات خاصة وكان يعمل مدربا في الكلية العسكرية في زمن النظام السابق، انتمى إلى الدولة الإسلامية منذ 7 سنوات وهو من مدينة الموصل، لم يكن متدينا كباقي زملائه الضباط الذين يدربون معه تنظيم الدولة، لكن عندما سقط نظام صدام تفرغ والدي لقراءة الكتب الدينية والذهاب إلى المسجد وتأثرنا جميعا بممارسات الأجهزة الأمنية الطائفية ليتغير منهجه من قومي وعلماني إلى سلفي واصولي. وكان قد سبقه بعض أصدقائه الضباط باﻻنضمام للتنظيم مما شجعه على ذلك».
اما الضباط الذين لم يكونوا متدينين أو لم يعرفوا بميول سلفية، فإن بعضهم كان منتسبا للحزب، وإضافة إلى أنهم يقدمون ما يسمونها «براءة من حزب البعث» فإن كثير منهم يقولون إن علاقتهم الفكرية ايضا انتهت مع الحزب العلماني، بعد تزايد الميول الدينية تدريجيا عقب سقوط بغداد وتزايد نفوذ الاحزاب الشيعية، وبعد ان رأوا أقرانهم من الضباط والبعثيين الشيعة في النظام السابق قد انضموا لخصوم الحزب في قوات الجيش الحكومي والميليشيات الشيعية. مما دفعهم للانضواء تحت مجموعات مسلحة إسلامية سنية متطرفة تعتبر حزب البعث من «الأحزاب الكفرية».
انضمام الضباط السنة في الجيش السابق لتنظيم الدولة ليس جديدا، والعديد من قيادات القاعدة في العراق منذ تأسيسها كانوا ضباطا لهم ميول سلفية وتعرضوا للطرد أو الملاحقة الأمنية من الأجهزة الأمنية للنظام العراقي السابق، ومن الجهاز البعثي الحزبي. ومن مدربي القوات الخاصة الذين التحقوا بالقاعدة منذ تأسيسها بالعراق عام 2003 احد أولاد عمومة عضو قيادة قطرية بحزب البعث من عائلة عماش المعروفة بعراقتها الحزبية، وكان هذا الضابط مدربا بالقوات الخاصة لكنه سلفي ودأبت اجهزة الأمن على اعتقاله رغم تاريخ عائلته ورتبته العسكرية.
إلا ان المؤسس الأبرز لإحدى ابرز الوحدات الخاصة في القاعدة وهي «سرية الاقتحامات» منذ 2003 هو ابو العباس القرغولي، المعتقل منذ عامين في سجن الناصرية، والذي قاد عمليات اقتحام لسجن ابو غريب وكان ضالعا في تفجيرات فندق جبل لبنان واغتيال عز الدين سليم القيادي في حزب الدعوة الشيعي. ويتشارك الكرغولي مع زميله العقيد ثامر الريشاوي وشقيقه بنفس خلفية العلاقة مع النظام السابق، من ناحية العضوية في أجهزة الأمن أو المؤسسة العسكرية قبل ان يتم طردهم لانتماءاتهم السلفية. 
وباتت امرا معتادا لأهالي الموصل مشاهدة عناصر تنظيم الدولة وهم يقومون بتدريبات خاصة وشاقة حيث يتسلقون البنايات العالية وينزلون بحبال من على الجسور. 
تحدثنا مع احد الجنود الذين ينتمون لهذه الفرقة والتي تدعى (الصارم البتار) فقال «من يقوم بتدريبنا هم ضباط سابقون ومدربون رياضيون، واﻻنتماء لهذه الفرقة يجب ان يكون بشروط، فيجب ان يكون المنتمي ضخم البنية وقوي الإرادة وسريع الحركة، فهو يخضع لتدريبات شاقة وليست يسيرة، وﻻ يستطيع كل شخص تحملها، ومن التدريبات التي نقوم بها تسلق المباني والجسور ومن ثم النزول بواسطة الحبال أو المظلات، وكذلك الغوص داخل المياه لمدة ﻻ تقل عن دقيقة، وكذلك التدريب على القتال الأعزل أي بدون سلاح، كما نقوم بالجري لمسافة 7 كيلومترات يومياً و السير لمسافة 500 متر، ونحن نحمل كيسا يزن 50 كيلو غراما من التراب. وطبعا التدريب على الاشتباك بتكتيكات الاقتحام بكافة أنواع اﻻسلحة الخفيفة والمتوسطة».
ويضيف المقاتل عن هجوم الرمادي الأخير «وهذا ما قام به أحد فصائل هذه الفرقة حيث قام باقتحام مدينة الرمادي واﻻنغماس داخلها من جهة الشرق، فخلال دقائق بدأ الهجوم بعد مشاغلة قوات الحكومة من عدة محاور وقصفهم بالهاونات والمدافع، ما ولد حالة ارباك في صفوف الميليشيات الشيعية والصحوات، لنتمكن من إيقاعهم بكمائن وأسر عدد من قادتهم وقتل العديد منهم».

US air strikes in Syria driving anti-Assad groups to support Isis

Fighters from the Free Syrian Army and several Islamic military groups say Isis is gaining allies or truces due to US bombings

The Guardian
Syrian rebels  Aleppo
US air strikes in Syria are encouraging anti-regime fighters to forge alliances with or even defect to Islamic State (Isis), according to a series of interviews conducted by the Guardian.
Fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Islamic military groups are joining forces with Isis, which has gained control of swaths of Syria and Iraq and has beheaded six western hostages in the past few months.
Some brigades have transferred their allegiance, while others are forming tactical alliances or truces. Support among civilians also appears to be growing in some areas as a result of resentment over US-led military action.
“Isis now is like a magnet that attracts large numbers of Muslims,” said Abu Talha, who defected from the FSA a few months ago and is now in negotiations with other fighters from groups such as the al-Nusra Front to follow suit.
Assam Murad, a fighter from a 600-strong dissident FSA brigade near Homs said: “There’s no way we would fight Isis after the US military campaign against them.
A third man, Abu Zeid, the commander of an FSA brigade near Idlib and a defector from President Bashar al-Assad’s army, said: “All the locals here wonder why the US coalition never came to rescue them from Assad’s machine guns, but run to fight Isis when it took a few pieces of land. We were in a robust fight against Isis for confiscating our liberated areas, but now, if we are not in an alliance, we are in a truce with them.”
These and other Syrian fighters told the Guardian in interviews by phone and Skype that the US campaign is turning the attitudes of Syrian opposition groups and fighters in favour of Isis. Omar Waleed, an FSA fighter in Hama, north of Damascus, said: “I’m really scared that eventually most of the people will join Isis out of their disappointment with the US administration. Just have a look on social media websites, and you can see lots of people and leaders are turning to the side of Isis.
We did not get any weapons from the US to fight the regime for the last three years. Only now US weapons arrived for fighting Isis.”
Abu Talha said he had joined the FSA after being released from prison in an amnesty Assad granted shortly after the Syrian uprising began in March 2011, and became commander of the Ansar al-Haq brigade in Ghouta, an eastern suburb of Damascus. He became disillusioned with the FSA, however, believing it was a tool of foreign intelligence services and poor in combat. After four senior fighters in his brigade were fatally wounded a few months ago, he defected to Isis.
“Since that day, I vowed not to fight under a flag bearing the mark of the FSA even for a second. I looked around for truthful jihadis, to fight by their side. I could not find any better than the jihadis of Isis. I told my fighters: ‘I’m going to join Isis, you are free to follow me or choose your own way’,” he said.
More than 200 of his fellow fighters also declared their allegiance to Isis, a move met with opprobrium by other FSA brigades and civilians. Then the US and its allies began a campaign of air strikes.
“All those who were cursing and attacking us for joining Isis came to pledge their loyalty to Isis. A couple were FSA commanders, others were members of Islamic brigades. Even ordinary people now demand to be governed by Isis,” Abu Talha said.
Only a small number openly declared their new allegiance, he added. “Large brigades in Idlib, Aleppo, Derra, Qalamoun and south Damascus have pledged loyalty to Isis in secret. Many senior leaders of brigades in Syria are in talks with us now to get together and fight as a united force against the US aggression,” he said. His claims cannot be independently verified.
Murad, a fighter with the FSA’s 600-strong al-Ribat brigade near Homs, said an offer three months ago by the US-backed Hazem movement to supply his unit with advanced weaponry if it joined the fight against Isis was turned down.
“We rejected this attractive offer, even though we are in great need not only of weapons but food. There is no way that we would fight Isis after the US military campaign against them,” he said.
He and his fellow fighters were awaiting the arrival of Isis militants in Homs, he added. “The moment Isis fighters touch the soil of the Homs countryside, we will be the first to fight with them at the front. This [US-led] military coalition is not against Isis, it is against entire Islam.”
Fighters from Islamic militias are also joining forces with Isis. In Idlib, in north-west Syria, the Jaish al-Mujahideen army, al-Sham brigade, Ahrar al-Sham brigade and al-Nusra Front were all in conflict against Isis earlier this year. Now they are calling for an alliance. More than 1,000 al-Nusra Front fighters in the area joined forces with Isis in a single week in August, according to Ali Sa’eed, a spokesman for the FSA revolutionary command in Idlib.
Abu Talha said he was in talks with al-Nusra Front leaders, “asking them to proclaim their allegiance to Isis and be one hand to defeat Bashar [al-Assad] and all the tyrants in the world”.
“There are senior leaders of al-Nusra Front who are waiting for the zero hour to unite with us. They are more conscious now of the great risks that lie behind the new US crusade against Muslims and jihadis,” he said.
According to those interviewed, civilians as well as fighters are turning towards Isis. The group is gaining support because it implements social measures and increases security, according to Abu Talha.
“We opened 57 free public restaurants in Raqqa city, which provide three meals a day for any resident to foil any claim by a looter that he had to steal in order to feed his children. We provide free fuel to residents as well.” The implementation of sharia law had led to a huge fall in the crime rate in Raqqa and other cities controlled by Isis, he said.
In Ghouta, near Damascus, the al-Nusra Front is the dominant force, but it has lost ground to a few hundred Isis fighters, according to locals. “I can assure you the day Isis declares they are coming to Ghouta, all the people and brigades will be with them out of our dismay and disappointment,” said Fadhil Ali, a restaurant worker. “We can’t wait for the day we have Isis in Ghouta.”
Isis does not have enough weapons for the number of foreign and local jihadis wanting to join its ranks, Abu Talha said. “Jihadis in Algeria, Morocco and Yemen are declaring their allegiance to Isis. Soon we will be in Gaza and then in Iran. People are starting to be aware that Isis is defending the Sunnis.”
The growth in support for Isis was inevitable, he said. “People are suffocated and cannot stand any more. Even when you push a small cat to a corner, it will scratch you. They are slaughtering and killing us. Why should we be silent about it?”