Saturday, August 20, 2011

Gaza Carnage courtesy of Zionists war criminals.

Iraq agrees to extend U.S. military role: Panetta

"WASHINGTON — Iraq has agreed to keep American troops in Iraq beyond a year-end deadline for their withdrawal, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Friday.

"My view is that they finally did say, ?Yes,'" Panetta said in an interview with Stars and Stripes and the Military Times.

Iraqi political leaders announced on August 3 that they would open talks with the United States over a possible training mission after 2011 but have yet to say definitively if some American troops would remain....."


So, this Iranian-backed puppet government has "decided" to keep US troops for "training" purposes and to "protect Iraq's borders." What does this say about Iran and the "axis of resistance??"

The drill team head thug, Sadr, has just declared his support for "brother Bashar" since Bashar "is a man of opposition against the American colonial presence in the Middle East."

How about the American colonial presence in Iraq, Mr. Iran puppet?

Maliki, who is agreeing to extended US troop presence was Iran's choice and Iran ordered Bashar to support his choice as PM. To return the favor, Maliki has declared his support for the bloody Rabbit in suppressing the Syrian people.

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Syria accused of crimes against humanity

Al-Jazeera Video: Egyptian protesters want end to peace with Israel

Iraq's Sadr rejects US call for Assad to go

Radical cleric speaks out against 'interference' in Syrian affairs while offering to mediate between protesters and Assad's regime

Ahram Online

"Radical anti-US cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Friday rejected Western calls for Syria's President Bashar al-Assad to quit, calling the embattled leader a "brother" who stood in opposition to the United States.

For the first time Thursday, US President Barack Obama and Western leaders said that Assad must step down.

"We reject Obama's interference in Syrian affairs," Sadr said in a statement released by his office in the holy Shiite city of Najaf in south Iraq.

Sadr said he supported revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt that overthrew despots there, but added that "there are many differences between the popular revolutions and what is happening in Syria."

"The difference is not in the people and their revolution, but in the government itself -- the brother, Bashar al-Assad, is a man of opposition against the American colonial presence in the Middle East."....."

Egyptian protesters continue protest at Israeli Embassy

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"Approximately 2000 people continued protesting around the Israeli Embassy in Cairo on Saturday after the Egyptian government decided to recall its ambassador to Israel.

The protesters called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and for severing relations with Israel. They wanted the Israeli flag at the top of the embassy's building taken down.

Protesters set off fireworks in the direction of the flag in an attempt to burn it.

They succeeded in removing all the cement and steel barricades around the embassy.

Police and army forces remained stationed at the entrance to the building and on the Gamaa Bridge to prevent protesters from breaking in.

No clashes erupted between the two sides.

Some protesters climbed a ladder propped up against a building opposite the embassy and hung the Egyptian flag out of a window.

The protesters said they will continue their sit-in until their demands are achieved in response to the killing of four conscripts and a policeman by an Israeli airplane at Egypt's borders with Israel on Thursday.

Protesters chanted, “The people want Camp David abolished” and “Field Marshall (Tantawi), you should kick out the ambassador or leave yourself.”

Most passersby expressed support for the protesters and flashed victory signs at them. Others were carrying the Egyptian and Palestinian flags. Drivers passing by honked their horns to the tune of a song that goes “Raise your head high, you’re Egyptian.”

The protesters ate sohour and performed the dawn prayers, a scene that would have been unlikely during the past 30 years as former President Hosni Mubarak's regime violently suppressed any protests in the area of the Israeli embassy."

Thousands protest in front of the Israeli embassy in Giza

قالوا المجلس بيحيمنا وأخواتنا بيموتوا فى سينا - 19 أغسطس

"The protests in front of the Israeli embassy in Giza continue as of time of writing, with thousands calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and severing all ties with the Zionist apartheid regime. Protesters are also waving Palestinian flags, calling for war on Israel..."

Friday, August 19, 2011

Carlos Lattuf: Bashar is Syria's Chucky

Zanga, Zanga? Libya rebels close in on Gadhafi, seizing key town

His Last Zanga Appears Imminent.

"ZAWIYA, Libya (AP) — Rebels closed in on Moammar Gadhafi, pushing back his fighters in a fierce battle in one key coastal city and seizing another town as they advanced toward his remaining bastion, the capital of Tripoli.

The territory remaining under Gadhafi's control has been shrinking dramatically in the past three weeks, with opposition fighters moving closer to Tripoli, a metropolis of 2 million people, from the west, south and east....."

Egypt decides to withdraw ambassador from Israel


"CAIRO (AP) — The Egyptian Cabinet says it has decided to withdraw its ambassador from Israel over the deaths of Egyptian security forces in fighting after an ambush targeting Israelis near the border between the two countries.

The Cabinet statement issued early Saturday says the ambassador will be withdrawn until Israel investigates the shooting deaths[How pathetic! This is even more pathetic than Erdogan asking for an Israeli apology for killing 9 Turks!] of five Egyptian security forces.

The decision comes after Egypt's official news agency blamed the Israelis for shooting and killing the five while chasing militants who killed eight Israelis in Thursday's ambush across the border in southern Israel.

The Israeli military promised to investigate [And of course it will vindicate the killing of the Egyptians just as it justified the killing of the Turks. The Egyptian ambassador will return to Tel Aviv after this Kabuki theater by Tantawi and his "supremes."


As it turns out, the Egyptian ambassador never left Tel Aviv and he will not be leaving! The lie of the Egyptian government was exposed when Israel said it never received a request that Egypt wants to withdraw the ambassador. So, Tantawi and his "supremes" were caught lying to the Egyptian people and now are in damage control mode.]....."

Israel's mad dog policy..Indiscriminate, disproportionate as usual..

Al-Jazeera Video: Israel launches Gaza air strikes

Al-Jazeera Video: UN report slams Syria over human rights

Al-Jazeera Video: Rising tensions between Egypt army and people

Al-Jazeera Video: Israel carries out Gaza air strikes

Al-Jazeera Video: Sanctions could 'tip the balance of power' in Syria

"Fawaz Gerges, a professor of Middle East politics and international relations at the London School of Economics, comments on the mounting international pressure on Syria. He says economic sanctions could tip the balance of power in Syria in the long term."

Aid efforts begin for Palestinians pushed from Syria refugee camp

By Ali Abunimah

"....On Monday, UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, reported that about half of the 10,000 residents had left the camp and that several had been killed.

Their flight came amid an armed assault on parts of the city by Syrian government forces. Since March, authorities have been engaged in a violent crackdown on anti-government protests throughout the country.

Today, UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunness confirmed that some of the displaced had now been located and aid efforts are under way, but the whereabouts of thousands more were still known. Gunness said...."

Egyptians Defend Viral Video Activist Charged in Military Court

by Sharif Abdel Kouddous

"Asmaa Mahfouz is one of Egypt’s most prominent activists. The 26-year-old helped co-found the influential April 6 Youth Movement in 2008 that helped pave the way for the revolution through years of grassroots organizing and street protests. A few days before January 25, she posted two videos online in which she bravely faced the camera and challenged Egyptians to fight for their human rights and rise up against the Mubarak regime. Both videos quickly went viral.

Seven months later, Mahfouz is facing prosecution in a military court for speaking out again, this time against the Supreme Council of Armed Forces that came to power following Mubarak’s ouster....."

It's his fast-disappearing billions that will worry Assad, not words from Washington

Nearly 10 per cent of Syria's deposits went in the first four months of 2011, some ending up in Lebanese banks

By Robert Fisk

"....Of course, in the fantasy of Damascus – where Bashar appears to live in the same "sea of quietness" in which the Egyptian writer Mohamed Heikel believes all dictators breathe – the world goes on as usual. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon – another earth-trembler if ever there was one – no sooner demands an "immediate" end to "all military operations and mass arrests", than dear old Bashar tells him that "military and police action" has stopped.

Well, blow me down, as the Syrian population must now be saying. So what were all those reports coming in yesterday from Syria, of widespread gunfire in Latakia, of troops looting private property in the city, of a man arrested in his hospital bed in Zabadani, of snipers still on the rooftops of government buildings in Deir el-Zour? Crimes against humanity? Needless to say, the Syrian government knows nothing about this.

Besides, hasn't Gaddafi been accused of "crimes against humanity"? Wasn't he supposed to have "stepped aside" six months ago? And isn't Gaddafi – a little more fragile now, of course – still in Tripoli? And this is after months of Nato bombardment, something that Bashar has nothing to worry about. Well, well, well.....

The real fear for Bashar is not oil sanctions but banks – especially the £12bn in foreign reserves that existed in Syria's Central Bank in February, a sum which is now being depleted by around £50m a week. In May, Syria's foreign minister – the mighty (physically) Walid Moallem – asked Baghdad for cheap Iraqi oil. Nearly 10 per cent of Syria's banking deposits disappeared in the first four months of 2011; £1.8bn was withdrawn, some of it ending up in Lebanese banks.

All in all, then, a nasty economic climate in which to go on bashing your own people. So who cares what Obama says? Certainly not the Syrians, which is why they are now trying to set up a "High Commission for Leading the Revolution" to co-ordinate protesters in the country's provinces.... "

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Sample: The Treatment of detainees by Syrian regime Thugs

This video is an example of the butchery and savageness of the Syrian regime. Any one who watches this video and still sides with a regime needs to be put in the San Diego wild Animal park. Again imagine what happens when the camera is off. One by one these thugs should be tried and executed for crimes against humanity.

حديث الثورة .. 18 أغسطس .. د. عزمي بشاره

Part 1

Part 2

Complete Interview:

هل يخاف الإسرائيليون من الأسد أم يخافون عليه؟

"بوسع أصدقاء النظام السوري -لاسيما القوميين منهم- أن يستخدموا الكثير من الوقائع المنتقاة من هنا وهناك في سياق إثبات "المؤامرة" التي يتعرض لها نظامهم الحبيب من قبل الإمبريالية والصهيونية، لكأن الكيان الصهيوني كان يصل الليل بالنهار في ترتيب المؤامرات الرامية للتخلص من النظام الجبار الذي يشكل تهديدا لوجوده، رغم أنه لا يمانع في تسوية تعترف له بـ78 % من فلسطين (هذه الحقيقة ينساها المدافعون عن النظام بدعوى المقاومة والممانعة).
الإسرائيليون يرغبون في بقاء الوضع السوري على حاله لأنهم حيال نظام تعودوا عليه ويعرفون تماما سقفه السياسي، وقد وجهوا له أكثر من صفعة حامية ولم يرد
من المهم التذكير هنا بأن عين الكيان الصهيوني ستبقى مصوبة في الوقت الراهن على ما يجري في مصر على وجه الخصوص، لأن مصيرها هو الذي سيؤثر جوهريا على مستقبل وجوده في المنطقة، ذلك أن استعادة مصر لدورها وحضورها وخروجها من دوائر التبعية للغرب والولايات المتحدة سيؤثر على عموم الصراع في المنطقة، بل على الربيع العربي برمته، كما سيؤثر على الوضع الإقليمي وعلاقات محاوره الثلاثة (إيران، تركيا، مصر)، وموقفها المشترك من الصراع العربي الصهيوني.
لا يعني ذلك أن ما يجري في سوريا لا يثير قلق الدولة العبرية، لكن شعورها بقوة النظام يجعلها أقرب إلى الانتظار منها إلى التدخل، لاسيما أن ارتباكه يفيدها في المدى القصير، فيما تترك لواشنطن مهمة التعامل مع الاحتمالات التالية، وهو تعامل يضع مصلحة الدولة العبرية في رأس الأولويات من دون شك.

يبقى القول إن تل أبيب ليست فرحة بأي حال بالربيع العربي، وهي لم ولن تخفي قلقها من تداعياته، وهي التي استمتعت طوال عقود بأنظمة عربية تقبل وجودها، سواء رفعت شعار أن ثمن المقاومة والممانعة أقل من ثمن الانبطاح، أم فضلت الانبطاح الدائم أو شبه الدائم ضمانا للسلامة وتجنبا للمغامرات

Al-Jazeera Video: The IMF, dictators, and the Arab world

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrian protesters remain defiant

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This brand new poll asks:

Do you agree that Hizbullah should hand over those accused in the Hariri assassination to the ICC?

With about 700 responding so far, 54% said yes.

Again this is another illustration of the serious loss of support for Hizbullah among the broad Arab public, no doubt because it supports the bloody Syrian regime.

....AP sources: Obama demands that Assad resign

".WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Thursday will make his first explicit call for Syrian President Bashar Assad to resign, a senior administration official said, as international pressure mounted for the embattled leader to leave power over the brutal repression of his people.

Obama will issue his call in a written statement on Thursday morning, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will echo the language soon after in an on-camera appearance. The administration will also slap new sanctions on Syria to bolster Obama's move...."

US and Egypt scrap 'Bright Star' military exercise this year

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"Egypt and the United States are scrapping this year's planned military drills, known as Bright Star, the largest exercises of their kind in the region, Egyptian and US military sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

An Egyptian army official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said political upheaval this year that saw Hosni Mubarak overthrown got in the way of planning the biannual exercises.

Still, the disclosure comes at a delicate moment in Egypt, whose military rulers are under pressure to speed democratic reforms six months after taking command in the wake of Mubarak's downfall.

"The Bright Star military practice was called off exceptionally this year given the political situation in Egypt," an Egyptian army official said....."

Damn it or fear it, the forbidden truth is an insurrection in Britain

By John Pilger
18 August 2011

"....For the young at the bottom of the pyramid of wealth and patronage and poverty that is modern Britain, mostly the black, the marginalised and resentful, the envious and hopeless, there is never surprise. Their relationship with authority is integral to their obsolescence as young adults. Half of all black British youth between the ages of 18 and 24 are unemployed, the result of deliberate policies since Margaret Thatcher oversaw the greatest transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top in British history. Forget plasma TVs, this was panoramic looting.

Such is the truth of David Cameron's "sick society", notably its sickest, most criminal, most feral "pocket": the square mile of the City of London where, with political approval, the banks and super-rich have trashed the British economy and the lives of millions. This is fast becoming unmentionable as we succumb to propaganda once described by the American black leader Malcolm X thus: "If you're not careful the newspapers will have you hating the oppressed and loving the people doing the oppressing."...."

عدد كبير من القتلى والجرحى في عدة مواقع إطلاق نار قرب إيلات


"صورة الوضع حتى الساعة 13:45:

* عدة عمليات في عدة مواقع استهدفت جنودا ومركبات عسكرية وحافلات تقل جنودا

* 25 جريحا في مستشفى "يوسيفطال" في إيلات، وصفت حالة أحدهم بأنها خطيرة

* مركبات الإسعاف التي أقلت مصابين من الحافلة الأولى التي تعرضت لإطلاق النار تغادر المستشفى بأعداد كبيرة لنقل مصابين آخرين من مواقع أخرى

* حافلة ثانية تتعرض لإطلاق نار على بعد 20 كيلومترا من إيلات وأنباء عن 5 مصابين بحالة حرجة جدا، وأنباء عن قتلى

* انفجار عبوة ناسفة بمركبة عسكرية وأنباء عن جندي قتيل أو إصابة حرجة واحدة على الأقل، وتحدثت مصادر عن إصابة 5 جنود بجروح خطيرة جدا

* أنباء عن استهداف مركبة بصاروخ مضاد للدروع

* الشرطة تغلق كافة مداخل إيلات، وقوات الجيش بمساندة مروحيات عسكرية تشتبتك مع خلايا مسلحة استخدمت أسلحة رشاشة وقذائف هاون وقذائف مضادة للدروع

* التقارير تتحدث عن سقوط قتلى وعدد كبير من المصابين، في المقابل تحدثت تقارير عن سقوط 3 قتلى من الخلية التي استهدفت حافلة الجنود الأولى

* انتهاء الاشتباك مع الخلية التي نفذت العملية الأولى واستهدفت حافلة الجنود

* تقارير غير مؤكدة تشير إلى مشاركة جنود مصريين في إطلاق النار

New Low of 26% Approve of Obama on the Economy

Ratings on Afghanistan and foreign affairs have also declined


"PRINCETON, NJ -- A new low of 26% of Americans approve of President Barack Obama's handling of the economy, down 11 percentage points since Gallup last measured it in mid-May and well below his previous low of 35% in November 2010....

Obama's overall job approval rating in the Aug. 11-14 stand-alone Gallup poll is 41%, similar to the 39% and 41% approval ratings measured in Gallup Daily tracking over the same days.

Approval on Afghanistan Sinks 15 Points

Americans' approval of Obama on Afghanistan is down 15 points since mid-May, the most of any issue Gallup tracked during this period, though the resulting 38% approval rating is not the lowest he's seen on this issue...."

Lessons of two wars: We will lose in Iraq and Afghanistan

By Stephen M. Walt

"....The truth is that the United States and its allies lost the war in Iraq and are going to lose the war in Afghanistan. There: I said it. By "lose," I mean we will eventually withdraw our military forces without having achieved our core political objectives, and with our overall strategic position weakened.....

Since 1992, the United States has squandered some of its margin of superiority by mismanaging its own economy, by allowing 9/11 to cloud its strategic judgment, and by indulging in precisely the sort of hubris that the ancient Greeks warned against. The main question is whether we will learn from these mistakes, and start basing national security policy on hard-headed realism rather than either neo-conservative fantasies or overly enthusiastic liberal interventionism. Unfortunately, the first shots in the 2012 presidential campaign do not exactly fill me with confidence."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Al-Jazeera Video: Syria continues crackdown on protesters

"Syria has continued its crackdown on protesters, with a series of arrests in the capital Damascus.

Electricity was cut off overnight in the capital, and homes raided in a mainly Kurdish area

State television has been airing images of troops withdrawing from the city of Latakia, however activists dispute such claims.

Ahmed Davutoglu, Turkish foreign minister, says that the Syrian army is still in key towns.

Al Jazeera's Nisreen el-Shamayleh reports from Ramtha at the Jordan-Syria border."

Libya: echoes of Afghanistan

Muammar Gaddafi's regime might be finished, but a bitterly divided opposition means Libya's troubles may just be starting

Abdel Bari Atwan, Wednesday 17 August 2011

"Libya's Colonel Gaddafi is looking increasingly vulnerable as rebel forces, backed up by Nato, proceed with a well-planned campaign to surround and isolate his powerbase in Tripoli. The key towns of Zawiyah and Surman to the west of the capital and Garyhan to the south have already fallen into rebel hands. The apparent defection of interior minister Nassr al-Mabrouk Abdullah - who arrived in Egypt over the weekend with nine family members – is another serious blow to the regime. Gaddafi is besieged, exhausted and looking for a dignified way out.

It is only a matter of time, then, before the Libyan regime concedes defeat. But what happens next? The west is losing faith in the Transitional National Council (TNC), which seems incapable of uniting and controlling the diverse elements within the rebellion, which not only can't get along but appear to be on the brink of fighting each other.....

Libya is in danger of ending up with a Nato-backed, weak and undemocratic central government led by a compliant president besieged by Islamist militants. Just like Afghanistan [Complete with its own Libyan Karzai]."

Assad puts Hamas in corner over Syrian assault

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"GAZA - Syria's crackdown on government opponents has deeply embarrassed the Palestinian group Hamas, which is anxious not to anger its backers in Damascus while at the same time hoping not to alienate its supporters at home.

President Bashar al-Assad's five-month purge of protesters has gathered pace since the start of August, causing thousands of Palestinians to flee a refugee camp in the city of Latakia this week as Syrian security forces attacked the area.

Ordinary Palestinians watching from a distance in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been swift to denounce the violence, but the Islamist group Hamas has itself said nothing and tried to prevent public displays of anti-Syrian sentiment.

"If they keep silent they will score points with the Syrian regime," said political analyst Talal Okal, explaining that such a stance could be politically costly in the Palestinian Territories, especially in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas.

"The people will not accept it and will see it as a betrayal of the Palestinian refugees in Syria," he added......


His view was shared by many in Hamas's backyard.

"We have been shocked...the Syrian president does not deserve to lead Syria," said Ahmed Hejazi, 34, who, like almost half of all adults in Gaza, is unemployed.

"What does he expect after the killing he had committed? Does he expect his people to take him into their arms?"

Rights organisations say at least 1700 civilians have been killed by Syrian security forces since protests erupted in March.

A Gaza youth Organization tried to stage an anti-Assad rally on Tuesday evening, but plain-clothed Hamas security police showed up ahead of time and ordered journalists away. They briefly detained a handful of youths who tried to protest.

Hamas, which has built a reputation as a liberation movement among its supporters, is clearly uneasy about the situation.

It has so far offered only a lukewarm statement of support for the Syrian hierarchy and refused to stage pro-Assad events in the refugee camps. Diplomatic sources have said it is also debating in private its continued presence in Damascus.....

"This is an absolutely shameful and hypocritical position that only has one explanation; these factions are still betting on (the survival of) the bloody regime," said Palestinian political analyst Hani Habib.

However, none face quite the same predicament as Hamas, and any further upswing in the violence could force a change of policy. "The interest of Palestinian factions has to be to their people," said Habib."

Advice From the Best and Brightest, by Khalil Bendib

(By order of the Arab dictators, click on cartoon to enlarge)

Sinai Simmers in Security Vacuum

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

"CAIRO, Aug 17, 2011 (IPS) - Even before the recent revolution, Egypt's strategic Sinai Peninsula - inhabited mostly by restive Bedouin tribesmen - had a reputation for lawlessness. But in the months since the popular uprising that led to Mubarak's February ouster, the situation in Sinai appears more precarious than ever.

"Sinai is suffering from a serious security vacuum," Hatem al-Bulk, an Egyptian journalist based in the north-eastern Sinai city of Al-Arish, told IPS. "Along with being partially demilitarised according to the terms of the Camp David agreement, Sinai has also been largely devoid of police since the revolution."....

The terms of the 1979 Camp David peace agreement between Egypt and Israel set tight restrictions on Egyptian military deployments throughout the peninsula. The arrangement has made Sinai's entire eastern frontier, including its borders with Israel and the Gaza Strip, a de facto demilitarised zone.

With perhaps Camp David in mind, North Sinai Governor Abdel-Wahab Mabrouk was quick to stress that the recent military deployment - which reportedly included tanks and armoured vehicles - was for "defensive purposes only." On Sunday (Aug 14), Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Israeli officials had "approved the operation."...."

Looting with the lights on

(Cartoon courtesy of TGIA)

The riots in Britain were political – and they are part of a wider global anger at governments that commit daylight robbery

Naomi Klein, Wednesday 17 August 2011

"....But those events were marked by mass destruction; the looting was minor. There have, however, been other mass lootings in recent years, and perhaps we should talk about them too. There was Baghdad in the aftermath of the US invasion – a frenzy of arson and looting that emptied libraries and museums. The factories got hit too. In 2004 I visited one that used to make refrigerators. Its workers had stripped it of everything valuable, then torched it so thoroughly that the warehouse was a sculpture of buckled sheet metal.

Back then the people on cable news thought looting was highly political. They said this is what happens when a regime has no legitimacy in the eyes of the people....

Of course London's riots weren't a political protest. But the people committing night-time robbery sure as hell know that their elites have been committing daytime robbery. Saqueos are contagious. The Tories are right when they say the rioting is not about the cuts. But it has a great deal to do with what those cuts represent: being cut off. Locked away in a ballooning underclass with the few escape routes previously offered – a union job, a good affordable education – being rapidly sealed off. The cuts are a message. They are saying to whole sectors of society: you are stuck where you are, much like the migrants and refugees we turn away at our increasingly fortressed borders.

Cameron's response to the riots is to make this locking-out literal: evictions from public housing, threats to cut off communication tools and outrageous jail terms (five months to a woman for receiving a stolen pair of shorts). The message is once again being sent: disappear, and do it quietly....."

Egypt: Military Intensifies Clampdown on Free Expression

Youth Leader, Protesters Charged With ‘Insulting the Military’

August 17, 2011

"(Cairo) – The military prosecutor’s decision to prosecute the youth leader Asamaa Mahfouz for “insulting the military” is a serious escalation of efforts by military leaders to silence critical voices, Human Rights Watch said today.

The prosecutor has this week alone summoned both Mahfouz and Maha Abu Bakr, a lawyer, on charges related to speech protected by the right to freedom of expression. They are among a large number of protesters and other civilians facing trials in Egypt’s military courts. Civilians should not be prosecuted before Egypt’s military courts, which do not meet basic due process standards, Human Rights Watch said.

“The decision to try Asmaa Mahfouz is a major attack on free expression and fair trials, using the same abusive laws the Mubarak government used against its critics,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The military is using her to silence potential critics, sending the message that criticizing the current military government will land them in jail.”......"

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Only Question is When?


Al-Jazeera Video: Syria protests continue despite crackdown

Al-Jazeera Video: Lebanese editor comments on Syria

"Rami Khouri, editor of the Lebanese newspaper Daily Star, talks to Al Jazeera about events in Syria."

Al-Jazeera Video: Military assault continues in Latakia

"Syria's military assault on the port city of Latakia has continued into a fourth day.

Thousands of people have been forced out of the al-Ramel Palestinian refugee camp. It's been a focus for protests since the Syrian uprising began.

Southern and southeastern neighbourhoods were also targeted, and activists say thousands of people were detained by the army.

Al Jazeera's Nisreen el-Shamayleh has the latest developments from Ramtha, on the Syria - Jordanian border."

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - The private trial of the Mubaraks

Real News Video: Testimonies on Palestinians offenses

HaYarkon70News presents testimonies on Palestinians offenses - given by soldiers

More at The Real News

Syria Protests August 15, 2011 : A Video Roundup

US-Arab Disconnect: Revolutions Restate Region's Priorities

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"As the Arab Spring continues to challenge dictators, demolish old structures and ponder roadmaps for a better future, the US remains committed to its failed policies, misconceptions and selfish interests.

Arabs may disagree on many things, but few disagree on the fact that there is now no turning back. The age of the dictator, the Mubaraks and Ben Alis is fading.

A new dawn with a whole new set of challenges is upon us. Debates in the region are now concerned with democracy, civil society and citizenship.....

Arabs discovered - or rediscovered - that not only were there no meeting points between their aspirations and US policy, the two were actually on a collision course.

It is normal for the US to conduct its policies in an oil-rich region like the Middle East based on a set of clear interests and objectives.

But what has in fact been taking place is the complete hijacking of Arab aspirations and the national interests of most Arab countries to fit US priorities.

With the help of Arab dictators, Washington's unclear, misguided policies brought untold harm to Arab nations. Now millions of ordinary Arabs, whose priorities and expectations were so completely discounted, are showing they are no longer willing to accept that reality."

Egypt: Labour Unions Shake Off Old Masters

By Cam McGrath

"CAIRO, Aug 16, 2011 (IPS) - The trade union federation that ex-dictator Hosni Mubarak used to repress labour movements and mobilise regime support for sham elections during his 30-year rule has been disbanded, striking a powerful blow to the old order.

Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf ordered the executive board of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) dissolved to comply with a court ruling that stipulated that the board was illegitimate because it had been selected through fraudulent elections. Labour activists say the board was stacked with loyalists of the now-defunct ruling party, who used their position to control the labour body's 3.5 million members.

"Since it was created in 1957, ETUF has been an arm of the regime… that has carried out the government's policies when it should have been looking after the interests of workers," says Tamer Fathy, a spokesman for the Centre for Trade Union and Workers’ Services (CTUWS), a local labour rights group.

Under Mubarak, draconian labour legislation required all unions to be part of ETUF, and generally prohibited strikes or collective bargaining unless approved by its syndicate heads.

Fathy says the federation propped up the regime by preventing workers from holding strikes or taking any action that challenged the state or its economic policies. It also mobilised large numbers of workers for pro-government rallies and bussed them to polling stations during elections to vote for the ruling party.

"Dissolving ETUF's board was a serious blow to the remnants of the regime," he says....."

The Arab League's Declarations, by Ali Ferzat

Arab League: Hold Emergency Meeting on Syria

August 15, 2011

"(Cairo) – The League of Arab States should hold an emergency meeting about the crackdown in Syria, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Nabil al-Arabi, secretary general of the league.

Human Rights Watch also urged the league to press Syria for unhindered access to the country for a UN-mandated fact-finding committee and for independent observers and journalists.

The region is changing, and so should the Arab League,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “To remain relevant, it should break from its history as a closed shop of autocrats who support each other’s crimes, and start looking out for the interest of the citizens of its states. Syria’s people, at this time of severe oppression, deserve to have their voices heard.”

The Arab League, which includes all 22 Arab countries, finally broke its silence on Syria this week, when its secretary general issued a statement calling on the Syrian authorities to end the bloody repression of mostly peaceful protests. The statement did not propose any concrete actions similar to its unequivocal actions on Libya earlier this year. Libya's membership was suspended for its abuses of its own citizens...."

Egypt must drop charges against blogger accused of ‘defaming’ military on Twitter

Amnesty International

15 August 2011

"The Egyptian authorities must immediately drop charges against a woman blogger and activist accused of defaming the military on Twitter, Amnesty International said today.

Asmaa Mahfouz, 26, was summoned by military prosecutors on Sunday and later released on bail of 20,000 Egyptian pounds ($3,356) after posting messages on the social media network expressing concerns about the Egyptian justice system and the actions of the military government, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

Asmaa Mahfouz is facing a military trial merely for posting comments which criticize the Egyptian military justice system and do not at all appear to represent a call to violence,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Director for Middle East and North Africa.

“The Egyptian authorities’ decision to refer Asmaa Mahfouz to a military court seems intended to send a message to those critical of the authorities that dissent will not be tolerated. The charges against her must be dropped immediately”, he said.

Trying civilians before a military court is also deeply problematic: these courts are fundamentally unfair and deprive defendants of some of the basic guarantees of fair trial, including the right to appeal,” he added.

She is charged with “insulting the armed forces” and “inciting the use of violence” on her Twitter posts....."

Young Syrian activists held amid widespread repression

15 August 2011

"At least three young human rights activists who helped to organize peaceful protests in and near Damascus are being held incommunicado in unknown locations after their recent arrest, while fears are growing for a fourth who has gone missing.

The news of the activists’ plight comes amid reports that some 25 people have been killed since yesterday in the port city of Latakia, where Syrian tanks and ships reportedly continue to shell residential areas in an attempt to quell protests.

Across Syria, more than 1,700 people have been killed since mass protests began in mid-March, according to a list of names compiled by Amnesty International.....

Sources have told Amnesty International that two of the activists – Islam al-Dabbas and Majd al-Din Kholani, both of whom are students from Daraya, south-west of Damascus – had been beaten severely following their arrest by Air Force Security on 22 July and 8 August, respectively.

According to human rights activists, Air Force Security oversees arrests in Daraya. Along with the other Syrian intelligence services, it regularly detains people suspected of opposing the government and holds them incommunicado for lengthy periods in detention centres that are notorious for torture and other ill-treatment.

Women’s rights activist Hanadi Zahlout was arrested at a café in Damascus on 4 August. Detainees recently released from the Political Security branch in Damascus said they had seen her in detention there, and that she had made a confession after being forced to watch her friend being tortured.

Damascus-based activist and film producer Shadi Abu Fakher was last heard from on 23 July when he phoned a friend he was meeting that day to say he was just two minutes away.....

Since the beginning of popular protests in mid-March, the Syrian security forces have arrested thousands of people in cities across the country. Amnesty International has received numerous accounts of detainees being tortured and otherwise ill-treated, with some dying in custody as a result.

Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), based on evidence of crimes against humanity

Carlos Latuff: Bashar blood bath

Monday, August 15, 2011

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrian army assault on Latakia continues

Al-Jazeera Video: Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia 'under fire'

No stalemate in Libya – the writing is on the wall for Gaddafi

A quick exit for the colonel matters less than a well-managed transition, preparing the country for representative government

Brian Whitaker, Monday 15 August 2011

"....A meeting in Tunisia on Sunday evening between the warring sides has also given rise to speculation that Gaddafi's exit is under discussion again. On Monday, the regime seemed to suffer a further political blow when Gaddafi's interior minister turned up in Cairo with nine members of his family – ostensibly on a tourist visit, though defection seems more likely, as the Libyan embassy in Egypt was unaware of his arrival.

These may be signs that Gaddafi's fall is imminent, but there are still too many unknown factors for anyone to be sure. We don't, for example, know how much cohesion there still is within Gaddafi's inner circle. As they feel the squeeze, however, internal rifts are far more likely – and the interior minister's "holiday" may be an example of that.

Similarly, once Gaddafi's remaining supporters sense that his departure is inevitable, those who have depended on his patronage or supported him through fear of the alternatives will have to reconsider their options – and when that starts happening, the collapse could come quite suddenly...."

Syria left vulnerable by state violence

Bashar al-Assad's shelling of towns and killing of citizens leaves country at risk of imperialist invasion, says author.

George Galloway

"The news this morning that the Syrian navy were shelling the water-front of Latakia - including the Palestinian refugee camp there - shook me to the core.

Not just because I lived in that camp last year, on that water-front, when Egypt's then-dictator Hosni Mubarak was stalling about letting the Viva Palestina 5 convoy sail for Gaza (after more than a fortnight of Syrian hospitality, the convoy sailed - though I was banned). The people of Latakia, a beautiful seaside holiday resort, were good to me. I cannot be silent about their suffering now.

More importantly, the news was shocking insofar as it calibrated how close we now are to a full-scale civil war in "the last Arab country" - as I described Syria in a speech in the Assad library five years ago, just after the Israeli attack on Lebanon was repulsed by the Syrian-backed resistance, led by Hezbollah.

Historically, I was never close to the Syrian regime. I'm writing this from my house - which I named Tal-al-Zattar, after the Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon which suffered a massacre - facilitated by another Assad - more than thirty years ago, and carried out by his then Phalangist allies.....

That's why I must say, for me, it looks like five minutes to midnight in Syria. For years, the president has talked of reform. But the more he talked, the faster his relatives counted their ill-gotten gains.

He has talked about the lifting of states of emergency while presiding (one assumes he's still presiding) over the mother of all emergencies in his country. He has talked about ending the Ba'ath party's constitutional monopoly as the "leading force" in the country - but it still exists, at least on paper if not on the streets. He has talked about elections, but of those there is no sign - and how could there be amid the carnage?

The risk of open imperialist intervention in this situation increases almost by the hour...."

Syria Attacks Protesters with Tanks, Naval Bombardment: “The Regime Has Made War Against the People”

"Syria has intensified its crackdown on opposition protesters despite growing international pressure. This morning, Syrian tanks and gunboats reportedly shelled the main Mediterranean port city of Latakia, killing one person and bringing the total dead to at least 28 since government forces moved into the city on Saturday. The violence follows massive demonstrations on Friday in which tens of thousands of people turned out to protest the Assad regime. On Saturday, a large crowd of mourners gathered in Douma, a suburb of the capital Damascus, for the funerals of four protesters who activists say were killed by security forces. We speak with Haitham Maleh, a leading human rights attorney in Syria who was released from prison earlier this year. We are also joined by his son Iyas Maleh, a Syrian human rights activist....."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This poll asks:

Do you see that the declared constitutional amendments are enough to effect reform in Jordan?

With over 1,000 responding, 82% said no.

Al-Jazeera Video: Judge stops Mubarak trial telecasts

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Who is in control of the Libyan opposition?

Thousands of Palestinians flee refugee camp near Latakia, Syria - UNRWA

By Ali Abunimah

The Regime of "Resistance" Now Targeting the Palestinians Too??

"Thousands of Palestinian refugees have fled their camp in the city of Latakia on Syria’s Mediterranean coast amid an assault in the area by Syrian forces, UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunness told The Electronic Intifada by telephone from Gaza.

According to Gunness, UNRWA has received information from a broad range of sources that more than half of the camp’s approximately 10,000 residents had left the camp after being ordered to do so by Syrian authorities. Gunness said the camp had come under attack from gunboats at sea, and by land.

Syrian forces have been engaged in a violent crackdown on protests in a number of cities throughout the country and information has been difficult to obtain as authorities have cut off most communications......"

The Disappearing US Middle Class, by Khalil Bendib

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Real News Video: Fault Lines: The Top 1%

Al Jazeera: The richest 1% of US Americans earn nearly a quarter of the country's income and control an astonishing 40% of its wealth

More at The Real News

Video: Hosni Mubarak returns to court in Cairo

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak arrived at court in Cairo to face charges of corruption and of unlawful killing of protesters earlier this year during the uprising against his rule.

Scuffles between opponents and supporters of the ousted 83-year-old Mubarak broke out outside the court.

The Cairo criminal court will decide whether Muhammad Tantawi, the commander-in-chief of the Egyptian forces and de facto head of state, will be called to testify at Mubarak's trial, Monday 15 August 2011

Mubarak behind bars: Human rights & justice

Human rights standards may not be met in this trial, but the more essential purpose is to prove there's no going back.

Phyllis Bennis

".....Right now, six months after the heady days of Tahrir Square and six months after the extraordinary ouster of Mubarak from power, Egypt's future remains uncertain. The military - Mubarak's old military, largely unchanged - remains far too powerful. The military-appointed interim government remains torn between retaining popular credibility by responding to the still-unmet demands of the still-mobilised population, and remaining in office by acceding to the dictates of their military overseers. There are no guarantees. Except for the fact that Egypt's people, the people of Tahrir Square, have lost their fear of the government and the military. They are still mobilised, they are still working to hold at least parts of the overthrown dictatorship to account.

Many people remain understandably uneasy about what Egypt's future holds. The struggle to shift power - real power, not only symbolic power - away from the military and to the people of Tahrir Square, continues. It is precisely in that context that the importance of the trial of Hosni Mubarak sharpens: it is proof that, whatever comes next, whatever structures of privilege and oppression Egyptians continue to face, it will not be the same as before. The trial of Mubarak shows there's no going back."

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Cagle Cartoon

Al-Jazeera Video: Tanks and gunboats 'fire on Latakia'

Video: Assad's forces attack Syrian port city of Latakia

Amateur footage uploaded to YouTube shows President Bashar al-Assad's tanks prowling the waterfront of the Syrian port city.

Anti-government activists say gunboats and armoured vehicles have fired on the Sunni-majority city, killing at least 19 people, Sunday 14 August 2011

Al-Jazeera Video: United States Intervention in Syria

"This interview was conducted with Jadaliyya Co-Editor, Bassam Haddad, on the role of the United States in Syria."

Today's Cartoon by the Syrian Cartoonist Ali Ferzat

By order of the Syrian Ba'th Party, click on cartoon to enlarge.

Assad's forces pound Syrian port city of Latakia

Anti-government activists say gunboats and armoured vehicles have fired on Sunni-majority city, killing at least 19 people

Nour Ali, Sunday 14 August 2011

"At least 19 people were shot dead in the Syrian port city of Latakia on Sunday morning as the Assad regime's aggressive military campaign to quell protests during the holy month of Ramadan continued.

Machine guns were fired from at least one ship and several armoured vehicles at the neighbourhood of Ramel, according to local residents and activists.

"Tanks and armoured cars entered as far as possible into the narrow streets and they started to use machine guns to fire at some houses," said Amer al-Sadeq, a pseudonym for a representative of the Syrian Revolution Co-ordinators Union.

Another local activist network, the Local Co-ordination Committees, posted amateur footage on its Facebook page showing a boat apparently patrolling the Latakia coastline, although its location could not be confirmed.....

Ahmad said a small number of soldiers had defected in the area to join the fightback against the regime. "Now there is a battle between defected soldiers and the others," he said.

Radwan Ziadeh, a US-based Syrian human rights expert, told the Guardian: "The regime is repeating what it did in Hama and Deir Ezzor to try to put an end to this. And every time we see more violence, some soldiers defect, and we see more violence."

Opposition figures are looking for greater splits in the army than handfuls of defectors, which they see as key to toppling the regime. The regime, which has not spoken about the assault in Latakia, claims it is fighting armed gangs and Islamists."

Horrors in Hama

A trainee doctor tells of the bloodshed he witnessed during the Syrian army's siege of the city of Hama.

Hugh Macleod and Annasofie Flamand

Intense shelling

The morning before, the young doctor had been woken at around 5am by the sounds of explosions. His home is in Hama's Hader district, one of the heaviest hit.

Syrian tanks had begun shelling Hama, a return to the nightmare of 1982 when Assad's father, former President Hafez al-Assad, ordered a military assault on the town to crush an armed rebellion by the Muslim Brotherhood, killing between 20,000 and 30,000 civilians.

A generation later, Hama's residents were again being bombed, shot, stabbed and looted by Assad's security forces for having turned out in massive numbers for peaceful, often joyous rallies, filling the city's central squares - week after week - with colourful flags, posters and chants calling for freedom and an end to oppression.....

'Babies dying'

Activists said at least 54 people were confirmed killed by security forces on that first day of the assault, with a further 160 injured. Four days later, 109 people were killed in a single day. Activists estimate between 200 and 300 people were killed in the ten-day assault, but an exact figure has yet to be established, due to the ongoing security restrictions.

As well as snipers shooting at anyone trying to reach hospitals, tanks were deployed in front of Horany and the city's other main hospital, Bader.....

'Mass graves'

Avaaz and other rights groups are currently investigating the disappearance of scores of bodies, including at least 50 from a mosque in Assi Square. Avaaz citizen journalists have reported the presence of at least three mass graves in Hama since the assault began.

When they could no longer terrorise residents on the streets, gangs of shabiha "thugs", alongside plain clothes secret police, came breaking through doors, beating families in their homes before stealing gold, money and television sets.

"I had a big stick in case the shabiha came," said the young doctor. "They can kill anyone, steal anything and maybe even rape the girls. So I couldn't leave my family."....

Residents fleeing

Passing from one area of Hama to the next was "as if I was going to another country", said the Al Jazeera contributor, such were the number of checkpoints. Many thousands of Hama residents fled the onslaught. A conservative estimate by an Avaaz citizen journalist put the figure at 5,000. Other activists put it much higher....."

The Biggest Recipient of US Aid in Egypt? Tantawi and His Junta.

The "Supreme" Junta Has Accused Some Political Parties Receiving US Aid of Treason!

The Syrian Navy "Resists".....the Syrian People! Syrian 'warships shell port of Latakia'

Several people said to be dead as northern city is reportedly attacked by warships and tanks.


"At least 11 people have been killed and 15 injured after Syrian warships and tanks opened fire on the port city of Latakia in two residential districts, activists have said.

Sunday's deaths were reported as a military assault on Latakia extended into a second day.

On Saturday, at least five people were killed and several were injured as at least 20 tanks and armoured personnel carriers rolled into the city.

Al Jazeera's Nisrene El-Shamayleh reporting from the Jordan-Syria border on Sunday said: "We understand from the activist and the Local Co-ordination Committee (LCC) that the Syrian tanks and the boats that are mounted with machine guns have halted opening fire and shelling neighbourhoods right now.

"However there is a curfew that has been imposed on Latakia and the surrounding neighbourhoods."....."