Saturday, October 22, 2011

Plus ça change: Iraq Done; On to Iran!

One not-so-funny fact about Washington is that nearly all the news media stars who fell for neoconservative falsehoods about Iraq are still around to fall for new ones on Iran, even some like Richard Cohen who briefly regretted his earlier gullibility

by Ray McGovern

"Paul R. Pillar, my former colleague in the CIA’s analytical division, has raised a warning flag, cautioning that the same imaginative neocon composers who came up with the various refrains on why we needed to attack Iraq are now providing similar background music for a strike on Iran.

He is right.
And as one of my Russian professors used to say, “This is nothing to laugh!”

Pillar’s piece – dissecting an op-ed by the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen about the alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington – first appeared on The National Interest Web site. On Oct. 21, it was posted at under the title “Sloppy Iran Think by WPost’s Cohen.”

The Cohen column that Pillar critiques is entitled “The alarm bells behind Iran’s alleged assassination plot.” Yet Cohen’s “alarm bells” ringing now about Iran brought a painful reminder of all the alarms he and his colleagues sounded in cheerleading for the attack on Iraq in 2002 and 2003.

Cohen was one of the many big-name opinion leaders to put on the pompoms after Secretary of State Colin Powell gave his deceptive Iraq War speech to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003. Joining a cheerleading pyramid of pro-war consensus, Cohen mocked anyone who still doubted that Saddam Hussein possessed hidden WMD stockpiles....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrian opposition member speaks to Al Jazeera

"Louay Safi, a member of the newly formed Syrian National Council, says the overthrow of the Libyan leadership has given Syrian protesters more hope that their struggle will lead to victory."

BBC report on situation inside syria

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Libya after Gaddafi

Includes Abdel Bari Atwan

Al-Jazeera Video: Questions remain about Gaddafi's death

"Speculation is rife about the precise manner of Muammar Gaddafi's death.

Libyan leaders say he was killed in a crossfire after fighters found him hiding in a tunnel.
But footage shows him alive after his capture, only to be pronounced dead a short time later.

Al Jazeera's Tony Birtley reports from the scene of his death just outside of Sirte."

Cartoon From the Montreal Gazette: 6.5 Million Gun Salute!

Libya after Gaddafi: A dangerous precedent?

The death of a dictator is being celebrated, but foreign intervention could prove problematic in the long-term.

Richard Falk

"The fall and death of the despised and despotic leader who had ruled for 42 years naturally produced celebrations throughout Libya, especially in the main cities. Although his end was bloody and vindictive, warning that a violent aftermath could further spoil the outcome of the struggle, we should remember that Gaddafi’s early rants against his own people invited a harsh popular response if their turn came.

Recalling WH Auden’s famous line, “Those to whom evil is done/ do evil in return,” it is almost inevitable that when a leader refers to his opponents as "rats" and pledges to hunt them down house by house the stage is set for the kind of violent drama that played out a few days ago in the dictator’s last stand at Sirte.....

More hopefully it is worth observing that unlike Hosni Mubarak, whose overthrow did not by itself alter the structure of power in Egypt, the fall of Gaddafi gives the victorious Libyan opposition a clean slate that is likely to be receptive to democratic state-building. In this crucial respect, whereas the most that Egyptians can hope for at this stage is either modest constitutional reforms or the patience to await a second reckoning in Tahrir Spring that sweeps the old order away. Libyans, by contrast, are presented with this rare opportunity for a genuine revolutionary transformation of their political, economic, and cultural life. In this respect, it could turn out to be helpful that Gaddafi was the Libyan state, and left no institutional infrastructure behind following his departure....

In the meantime, we can only hope that the Libyans seize the occasion given to them to establish a viable and independent democratic state that is respectful of the human rights of all Libyans, and energetic in its efforts at reconstructing the country without being overly hospitable to foreign investors and companies! The NATO countries are also challenged to stand aside, and allay neo-imperial suspicions. Having waged a devastating air campaign, it is now NATO’s duty to exhibit respect for the exercise of Libya’s inalienable right of self-determination."

Wake for the Tyrant, by Martin Rowson

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Let The Exploitation Begin: British firms urged to 'pack suitcases' in rush for Libya business

New defence secretary says companies should be ready to cash in on reconstruction contracts in newly liberated Libya, Friday 21 October 2011

"The starting pistol for British firms to pursue contracts in Libya has been fired by the new defence secretary, Philip Hammond, who urged companies to "pack their suitcases" and head there to secure reconstruction contracts....

Daniel Kawczynski, a Conservative backbencher and chair of the cross-party parliamentary group on Libya, said Britain should come first when it comes to awarding contracts, which would also pay back some of the cost of some £300m spent on military action.

"The question that remains is, who should ultimately bear this cost?" he said. "Should the burden fall on those who could be counted on? Or should, in time, Libya repay those who fought with her, and for her?"

He added: "In these difficult economic times, it should not be too much to ask a country with Libya's wealth and resources to pay their share of the gold.""

Bahrain: Medics Describe Torture in Detention

Appeals Court Should Void Flawed Convictions

October 21, 2011

"(Beirut) – Medical staff convicted by a military court of alleged serious crimes during the period of anti-government protests in Bahrain in early 2011 were subjected to abuse and torture in detention, Human Rights Watch said today. Given the fundamental unfairness of the trial, including that civilians were tried in a military court, Bahrain’s High Court of Appeals should reverse the convictions of 20 medical staff when they hear their appeal on October 23, 2011, and order an independent investigation into the defendants’ allegations of abuse and torture.

The prosecutors should drop all charges based solely on their exercise of freedom of speech and assembly, and ensure a new trial for defendants in a civilian court only if there is evidence of possible criminal activity, Human Rights Watch said. On October 5, Attorney General Ali Al Buainain announced that the appeal will “be equivalent to a retrial.” Human Rights Watch interviewed 7 of the 20 medical staff convicted of serious crimes, who told of severe abuse in detention and extensive violations of their rights to a fair trial.

The appeals court should decisively overturn the unfair verdicts against the medics and dismiss outright all politically motivated charges,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The new hearing should also disallow allegedly coerced confessions.”....."

Video: نهاية القذافي .. نهاية الطغاة

نهاية القذافي .. نهاية الطغاة

Friday, October 21, 2011

Exclusive: Nobel Laureate Tawakkul Karman on the Struggle for Women’s Rights, Democracy in Yem

"In a Democracy Now! exclusive interview, we speak to Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Yemeni activist, Tawakkul Karman. The U.N. Security Council is set to vote on a resolution calling on Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to immediately step down after 33 years in power. All five permanent members of the Security Council back the measure, which "strongly condemns" government violence against demonstrators. The popular uprising in Yemen continues despite more attacks by government forces, including dozens of demonstrators murdered by snipers in recent days. Karman has been in New York City all week to press for international pressure on the Saleh regime. She is the first Arab woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. A 32-year-old mother of three, an outspoken journalist and Yemeni activist, Karman has agitated for press freedoms and staged weekly sit-ins to demand the release of political prisoners from jail. She founded Women Journalists Without Chains and has played a leading part in the struggle for women’s rights and for democracy in Yemen. Most recently, she has led rallies in the continuing protests against the rule of Saleh. "We have the dream, and we have the ability," Karman says. "We know what it means to be free, and we will achieve it." Of today’s vote at the United Nations, Karman adds: "The international community has to create pressure on Saleh... Dictatorships are going down and are done. There are a lot of scenarios for the end of those dictators…like running away like Ben Ali did, or to be held accountable and prosecuted just like Mubarak, or maybe getting killed like Gaddafi. In Yemen, we will have our own scenario. We will not go in the direction of violence. And I ask the international community not to let Yemen go in that direction."...."

Gaddafi’s Death Sparks Celebrations, Probe Calls, as Libyans Begin New Era Free of Regime

"The circumstances of the death of former Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi remain unclear. Preliminary reports suggest NATO aircraft struck Gaddafi’s convoy near Sirte early on Thursday, but he and a few others escaped on foot and were eventually caught and killed by a unit of fighters from the National Transitional Council. Gaddafi’s burial has now been delayed ahead of an outside investigation into the circumstances of his death. Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said NATO had successfully completed its operation and would soon end its mission in Libya. To talk more about the situation in Libya, we go to Sirte to speak with Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director for Human Rights Watch. "This is a very unfortunate way to start the first chapter of the new Libya, with this very brutal killing," Bouckaert says. "It certainly is already a stain on the record of the new Libya... Justice should be done in a courtroom and not by street mob rule."...."

Egyptian Military Stokes Sectarian Conflict

Egyptian Army and media ignore eyewitness reports and blame Coptic Christians for violence

More at The Real News

You can't blame Gaddafi for thinking he was one of the good guys

The West may be celebrating his death, but that's just an accident of timing

By Robert Fisk

"We loved him. We hated him. Then we loved him again. Blair slobbered over him. Then we hated him again. Then La Clinton slobbered over her BlackBerry and we really hated him even more again. Let us all pray that he wasn't murdered. "Died of wounds suffered during capture." What did that mean?

He was a crazy combination of Don Corleone and Donald Duck...."

Syrians inspired by Gaddafi's death

The Independent
Friday, 21 October 2011

"Inspired by the scenes of euphoria in Libya, Syrian protesters poured into the streets Friday and shouted that President Bashar Assad's regime will be the next to unravel now that ousted Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is dead.

Syrian forces fired on protesters, killing up to 14 people, activists said.

"Gaddafi is gone, your turn is coming, Bashar," protesters shouted in the central city of Hama, long a hotbed of resistance to the regime.

The Syrian uprising has proved remarkably resilient over the past seven months, but has shown some signs of stalling in recent weeks as the government forges ahead with a bloody crackdown that the UN estimates has killed more than 3,000 people....."

Syria, Yemen opposition warn dictators: You're next

By Richard Allen Greene, Ivan Watson and Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN

"(CNN) -- Dictators around the Middle East should pay close attention to the fate of Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, opposition activists from Syria and Yemen said Thursday as reports of Gadhafi's death flashed across the world.

"This is a lesson for all dictatorships: The clear fate of all who kill his people is to end up under the feet of the nation," said Omar Al-Muqdad, a Syrian opposition activist in exile in Turkey.

The opposition Syrian National Assembly "blesses the Libyan people that got rid of an infamous dictator such as Gadhafi," he said.

He said it would give a push to efforts to topple Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, saying he would suffer "the same fate" if he fell....."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Are you satisfied with the end of Gaddafi?

With over 3,400 responding, 65% said yes.

Libya's bloody victory over Gaddafi is just the beginning

Deep tribalism and a lack of leadership will plague a country that is nation-building from scratch

Abdel Bari Atwan, Thursday 20 October 2011

"With the death of Muammar Gaddafi the Arab spring has claimed a third victory. The Libyan people have the chance to build a just and democratic system of governance after 42 years of autonomous rule by the colonel, his family, his cronies and his tribe. No wonder there are such scenes of jubilation throughout the country.

Gaddafi's removal will be a source of great relief to the new government of Libya, whatever its ultimate composition. Gaddafi had billions of dollars at his disposal, in cash and gold, with which he was threatening to fund an insurgency and derail the revolution....

Whatever the future holds, this bloody end to a bloody regime stands as a warning to the region's other brutal leaders that they cannot escape the tide of change. Other oppressed peoples of the Middle East may now consider following their martyred Arab brethren and challenge the iron fist that holds them down."

The Gaddafi Files

How we found Muammar al-Qaddafi's secret trove of private photographs – and what they tell us about his long, sordid, and curious rule.

by Peter Bouckaert
(Emergencies director at Human Rights Watch)
Published in: Foreign Policy
October 20, 2011

"The glass crunched under our boots as we walked through the abandoned compound of Muammar al-Qaddafi's military intelligence headquarters in Tripoli. It was late August, and the city had just fallen. Pancaked buildings destroyed by NATO airstrikes littered the grounds, and we entered one of the remaining undamaged buildings.

For months now, we had followed the rebel offensive in Libya, monitoring the conduct of both the rebels and the Qaddafi loyalists, as well as NATO. Along the way, we were also working to ensure that the intelligence archives of the Libyan state were quickly secured and not looted or burned, as we knew they contained important answers about what had happened in the secretive country over the past 42 years of Qaddafi rule.

Just a few days before, we had struck gold. While looking through one of the office buildings of Qaddafi's foreign spy chief, Musa Kusa, who had defected during the war, we came upon a treasure trove of faxes from the CIA and the British MI6 discussing the capture and rendition of Libyan Islamists back to Libya in 2004, where they were certain to be tortured under interrogation. After years of documenting the war on terror's campaign of rendition by interviewing the Islamists who had been victim of the policy, we now had the CIA and MI6 in their own words....."

Pope Shenouda rejects international investigation into Maspero violence

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"Pope Shenouda III, the head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, rejected demands by some families of victims of the Maspero violence on 9 October to open an international investigation into the issue, claiming that their mournful thoughts are causing them to make the request.

The Church can not accept the demand given the current situation in Egypt, he said, adding that it could negatively impact the "national unity that we are all defending."

During a ceremony held Thursday evening at Saint Mark's Cathedral in Abbasseya, Shenouda expressed his deep sorrow to the families of the victims and said he understood their grief.

The Church will support the families in all legal procedures, Shenouda said, noting that he has established a legal office in the cathedral to help guide the families to the proper avenues to achieve justice...."

Dueling legitimacies in Libya

Two sides are fighting a cold war over the nature of Libya's new political order.

Soumaya Ghannoushi

"....The vacuum created by Gaddafi's departure is now filled by a sharp polarisation between two camps. The first camp is the National Transitional Council, made up largely of ex-ministers and prominent senior Gaddafi officials who had jumped from his ship as it began to sink. These enjoy the support of NATO and derive their power and influence from the backing of western nations. The second camp is composed of local political and military leaders who have played a decisive role in the liberation of the various Libyan cities from Gaddafi's brigades, including the capital. The thousands of fighters and activists they command are now convened within local military councils, such as the Tripoli council, which was founded following the liberation of the capital and which recently elected as its head Abdulkarim Bel Haj. Ironically, this hero of Tripoli's liberation is the same man who, a few years back, had been deported, along with other Libyan dissidents, by MI6 and the CIA to Gaddafi, who was their close ally at the time.

There could be no more striking indication of the rift between the two sides than the words of Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the head of the council and ex-justice minister, on the eve of Tripoli's conquest. Amid the jubilation and euphoria, a downbeat Abdul-Jalil emerged to warn that there exist "extremist fundamentalists within the ranks of the rebels" threatening to resign if they did not hand over their weapons.....

Libya is set to be a scene of multiple battles: conflicts between NATO's men and the fighters and their supporters on the ground, and conflicts between the foreign forces that have invested in the war on Gaddafi: the French, who are determined to have the upper hand politically and economically; the Italians, who regard Libya as their back garden; the British, who are determined to safeguard their contracts; and the Turks, keen to revive their influence in the old Ottoman hemisphere. Then there are the losing players in the new equation: the Chinese and the Russians."

Keeping Libya's promise after Gaddafi's death

Gaddafi is dead, but the revolution lives on. As one battle comes to an end, another begins today.

Larbi Sadiki

"The Arab Spring, still unfolding, began with death. But that is how life is laboured into this world. And the significance and substance of new life can sometimes be commensurate with the "volume" of death, or the size and stature of the deceased.

Gaddafi was larger than life. He was a "prophet" of revolution, then pan-Arabism, and then pan-Africanism, gradually moving his amorphous programme of statehood from nationalism to transnationalism. On the way, he littered his political history with unruliness, spreading his death squads far and wide, lending support in funding and arms to all and sundry, from Ireland to Chad.

The self-appointed "prophet", mentor, architect and non-president president of Libya, "king of kings" of all Africa, wanted a larger power ratio than that occupied by demographically sparse Libya. He sought the mirage of power that would reflect the the country's huge surface area and the largesse beneath the Libyan Sahara, its reserves of black gold.

One thing stood in his way: his narcissism. It was bigger than even that of Narcissus himself.

That is why the death of Gaddafi unleashes huge potentialities and possibilities that will enliven the remarkable Libyan people. Now it is their turn - after the thousands of deaths, injuries, the devastation, pain and suffering - to breathe life into the new Libya, the post-Gaddafi Libya. But there are challenges....

The spectre of Gaddafi

Is Gaddafi dead? He is physically. The challenge now is to manage the legacy, to put to bed the question of what lives on and what dies with Gaddafi.

His progeny and his aides, including a certain Moussa Ibrahim, a former student of mine, are now either detained by the rebels or will soon be caught. As one of Ibrahim's former mentors, all I can wish is to plead for a legal process of justice. Kangaroo courts will complicate transition, not facilitate it. Triumph through death is ephemeral, though justice and magnanimity it is lasting.

To an extent, there is partial closure in Gaddafi's death. It spares Libya bloody showdowns and trials, which no matter how impartial are bound to be partial. That is one advantage Libyans have over Tunisians, who must not digress in democratisation by seeking Ben Ali's extradition, and Egyptians whose own trials are imperfect - even if the cause of justice they seek is right.

There is probably a little of Gaddafi in every Libyan: anger, frustration, injustice, victimhood, and even hatred. Now, as Gaddafi's body is laid to rest, so should all of these emotions. To let them take hold of "New Libya" would mean prolonging that residue of Gaddafi's rule. To do so would be to give Gaddafi an undeserved lease of life....."

The Rat's Last Hiding Place

Photo courtesy of

Gaddafi used to refer to the revolutionaries as rats.

The Arabic writing above the drainage pipe, where Gaddafi was hiding and where he was captured and killed, reads:

The Place of the Rat Gaddafi, God is Great!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Video: مقطع حصري للقذافي أثناء القاء القبض عليه من قبل الثوار

مقطع حصري للقذافي أثناء القاء القبض عليه من قبل الثوار

Muammar Gaddafi killed in Sirte

NTC military chief says toppled leader died of wounds following capture near his hometown of Sirte.

Hopefully, Soon, It Will Be The Rabbit of Syria!

"Al Jazeera has acquired exclusive footage of the body of Muammar Gaddafi after he was killed in his hometown, Sirte.

Abdul Hakim Belhaj, an NTC military chief, said Gaddafi had died of his wounds after being captured near Sirte on Thursday.

The body of the former Libyan leader was taken to a location which is being kept secret for security reasons, an NTC official said.

"Gaddafi's body is with our unit in a car and we are taking the body to a secret place for security reasons," Mohamed Abdel Kafi, an NTC official in the city of Misrata, told Reuters....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Muammar Gaddafi: Obituary

"A senior National Transitional Council official has said that deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has died of his wounds after being captured near his hometown of Sirte.

Muammar Gaddafi came to power in 1969 in a coup at the age of 27 and went on to rule Libya for 42 years with an iron fist.

He has left Libya in tatters and despite the vast oil wealth, a vast majority of Libyans still live on about $2 a day and 40 per cent remain unemployed.

Gaddafi wanted to be the leader of the Arab world and modeled himself on Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser.

He published the Green Book which established rule of the people but in reality he exercised absolute power.

The former Libyan leader was accused of bombing Pan Am Flight 103 in Scotland, a charge he always denied. After this Libya remained under internatinal isolation for years.

When the uprising gathered momentum earlier this year he blamed everyone, from US to al-Qaeda, and called the protesters rats and cats of Libya.

Many will remember Gaddafi as the leader who set Libya back by many years."

Al-Jazeera Video: Fleeing Syrians refused refugee status

"Syrians fleeing the military crackdown are finding it hard to re-settle in neighbouring Jordan.

Many have family ties there, but the government is refusing to recognise them as refugees.

Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf reports from the capital Amman."

Al-Jazeera Video: Many freed Palestinian prisoners traumatised

Real News Video: Why was Shalit deal reached now?

While hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and Gilad Shalit​ return home, hundreds others go into exile.

More at The Real News

Doubts Shadow Egyptian Election

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

"CAIRO, Oct 20, 2011 (IPS) - Egypt's interim government has begun accepting candidacy applications for parliamentary polls slated to begin Nov. 21. But as the country prepares for its first post-Mubarak elections, a number of political parties say they are considering boycotting the contest.....

"Election laws as they currently stand will allow NDP remnants to run in elections," leading union member Essam Sherif told IPS. "And I wouldn't put it past them to employ violence against their opponents and fix elections as they have in the past."

Barouma voiced similar fears, saying that participation in elections by NDP holdovers would lead to a "bloodbath", especially given the current security vacuum and the post-revolution "proliferation of weapons among the citizenry."

"The council has stated that if large numbers of people are killed in elections-related violence, it would suspend the polling," Barouma said. "And this would provide it with a perfect excuse to further extend the transitional period and remain in power."

Within the last three days, a number of SCAF and government officials have reiterated promises to enact laws banning Mubarak regime officials from contesting the polls - but only in cases in which judicial authorities had found the official in question guilty of corruption.

"The law in this form is totally worthless," said Youssef. "Corruption cases against former officials will take years. In the meantime, they'll win seats in parliament using bribery and coercion."

He added: "This will derail Egypt's ongoing revolution by allowing elements of the former regime, slowly but surely, back into power.""

How to Kill an Ambassador

by Philip Giraldi, October 20, 2011

"An increasing number of former intel officers that I network with are convinced that the alleged plot to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington is not only completely implausible as described by the Justice Department and White House but also possibly the contrivance of an intelligence or security service other than that of Iran. There is a consensus that the Iranian government has no motive for carrying out the attack, as it would have only further isolated Tehran internationally and could easily have led to massive retaliation. The “rogue element” theory that Iran’s fractured politics might mean that someone in the Quds group was actually trying to embarrass someone else in the government has a certain plausibility, but no one who knows anything about Iran actually believes it to be true. Nor is it likely that Iran mounted the complicated operation to avenge the assassinations of several of its nuclear scientists. The scientists were killed by the Israelis, who would have been the target if that had been the case. So the only question becomes, who is doing what to whom and why?.....

....Would Israel be bold enough to stage a major terror operation in the United States capital? The Lavon Affair, the USS Liberty, Jonathan Pollard, and the still unexplained actions of Israel before 9/11 suggest that it might. If an Iranian plotter had killed the Saudi ambassador in Washington while blowing up a restaurant full of people, it would have been an act of war, a Pearl Harbor moment. If Tehran had apparently plotted to do so and failed because the plot was discovered, it could still be construed as an act of war by those willing to see it that way (Sen. Carl Levin, for instance). Either way it is blamed on the Iranian government, not on the actual false-flag perpetrator....."

A Saudi-Iranian cold war takes shape

By Rami G. Khouri
The Daily Star

"The Middle East continues to experience one of its most tumultuous moments of structural change in several generations, and countries are reconfiguring both their domestic power structures as well as their intra-regional relations.

In this context, we can expect much of the diplomatic maneuvering in the region to revolve around the axes of two major ideological confrontations. The first is the Arab-Israeli conflict, the second the invigorated Saudi-Iranian confrontation. It remains unclear if the national interests of Saudi Arabia and Iran are genuinely threatened by the other side, or whether we are simply in a situation where mediocre leaderships are using the exaggerated threat of the other, coupled with their own sense of vulnerability, to turn a local feud into a major cause of region-wide tension and proxy warfare.

I tend to believe the latter case is true....

This rivalry and open confrontation seems to be driven more from the Saudi side than the Iranian side for now, because the Saudis feel more vulnerable that their world, as they know it, is threatened with change. Their ferocious response, which contrasts with the traditional low-key Saudi style of diplomacy, is a sign that the kingdom feels in danger and will take the initiative to protect itself.

A new regional cold war is taking shape, adding to the threats the region is already facing from the repercussions of the Arab-Israeli conflict."

The US power grab in Africa

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"Libya - where United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a whistle-stop visit on Tuesday but didn't get to see the devastation in Sirte - is just one angle of a multi-vector US strategy in Africa. Washington's Uganda surge, where 100 "advisors" now have their boots on the ground, is a classic Pipelineistan gambit and it's not hard to fathom where that country's oil contracts will eventually land.....

In Libya, the objective is to occupy an absolutely strategic crossroads between the Mediterranean, northern Africa and the Middle East, with the added (nostalgic?) benefit of the West - as in Paris, London and Washington - finally getting to hold military bases as when King Idris was in power (1951 to 1969). As a whole, control must be established over northern Africa, central Africa, eastern Africa and - more problematically - the Horn of Africa.

The trillion-dollar question ahead is how China - which plots strategic moves years in advance - is going to react. As for Amazon Clinton, she must be beaming. In Iraq, Washington meticulously destroyed a whole country over two long decades just to end up with nothing - not even a substantial oil contract. Clinton at least got a private army - the "advisers" who will be stationed in the bigger-than-the-Vatican US Embassy in Baghdad.
And considering that Obama's new African "advisers" will be paid by the State Department, now Clinton's also got her own African private army. After November 2012, Clinton might well consider a move into the contractor business. In the sacred name of R2P, naturally. "

Tunisia's election: a day of hope for the entire Arab world

The obstacles are huge – but on Sunday we Tunisians can light a democratic beacon for our neighbours


Moncef Marzouki, Wednesday 19 October 2011

Read this article in Arabic

"Immediately after independence on 20 March 1956, Tunisians convened their first constituent assembly, with the goal of establishing the political system and type of society they had aspired to for decades under French colonial rule. The assembly sat for three years but it did not build a democratic state and a just society. Instead, it established a system that was republican on the surface but monarchist in reality, with Habib Bourguiba as its vulgar king.

Bourguiba inserted a clause in the constitution in 1974 decreeing his presidency for life under a one-party state, propped up by a powerful political police....

On the other hand, there are positive indicators that give hope. The election is real, and not the type of show for which Tunis was renowned; and the campaign has passed peacefully so far.

Tunisians are engaged in a never-ending political debate; they follow the many meetings convened by the parties with great interest. These include the Facebook users – now estimated at a fifth of the 10 million population – who played a major role in triggering the revolution. Tunisians are now politicised to an unprecedented level. Those parties that think democracy is on sale may well be in for a surprise.

All of the Arab countries are monitoring the Tunisian experience with interest. Will our country continue to act as a beacon of hope for its neighbours by passing its first democratic test and establishing a new society? Or will it slide yet again into tyranny? If the latter, it would lead it to revolution once again – but this time it would not take half a century."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Son of Africa claims a continent’s crown jewels

By John Pilger
20 October 2011

"On 14 October, President Barack Obama announced he was sending United States special forces troops to Uganda to join the civil war there. In the next few months, US combat troops will be sent to South Sudan, Congo and Central African Republic. They will only "engage" for "self-defence", says Obama, satirically. With Libya secured, an American invasion of the African continent is under way.

Obama's decision is described in the press as "highly unusual" and "surprising", even "weird". It is none of these things. It is the logic of American foreign policy since 1945. Take Vietnam. The priority was to halt the influence of China, an imperial rival, and "protect" Indonesia, which President Nixon called "the region's richest hoard of natural resources... the greatest prize". Vietnam merely got in the way; and the slaughter of more than three million Vietnamese and the devastation and poisoning of their land was the price of America achieving its goal. Like all America's subsequent invasions, a trail of blood from Latin America to Afghanistan and Iraq, the rationale was usually "self defence" or "humanitarian", words long emptied of their dictionary meaning....

For more than a decade the US has tried to establish a command on the continent of Africa, AFRICOM, but has been rebuffed by governments, fearful of the regional tensions this would cause. Libya, and now Uganda, South Sudan and Congo, provide the main chance. As WikiLeaks cables and the US National Strategy for Counter-terrorism reveal, American plans for Africa are part of a global design in which 60,000 special forces, including death squads, already operate in 75 countries, soon to be 120. As Dick Cheney pointed out in his 1990s "defence strategy" plan, America simply wishes to rule the world.

That this is now the gift of Barack Obama, the "Son of Africa", is supremely ironic. Or is it? As Frantz Fanon explained in 'Black Skin, White Masks', what matters is not so much the colour of your skin as the power you serve and the millions you betray."

Video: Chris Hedges: "This one could take them all down." Hedges on OWS w/ OccupyTVNY

Greece crippled as its people say no to poverty

Patrick Cockburn witnesses a nation – from youth and unions to middle classes – unite in strikes against cuts

"Greece has been paralysed by a 48-hour general strike that began yesterday and cast doubt on the unpopular government's ability to implement reforms demanded by the European Union in return for further bailout money....

Real reform in Greece is unlikely to come from a government distrusted as self-serving and corrupt; the ex-minister said it did not have the political strength to impose change while facing powerful special interests."

Al-Jazeera Video: First day of Greek strikes ends violently

Al-Jazeera Video: Gaza gives released prisoners rapturous welcome

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Prisoner swap deal

Includes Mustafa Barghouti and Phyllis Bennis

Al-Jazeera Video: Reports of more deaths in Yemeni protests

Al-Jazeera Video: Palestine prisoner returns to hero's welcome

Real News Video: Egyptian Political Parties Represent the Country's Elite

Lina Attalah: Many Egyptians are skeptical that upcoming Parliamentary elections will lead the country through democratic change, and vow to continue striking to meet demands

More at The Real News

Palestinian view: 'Despite the siege and the suffering, we can share in a feeling of victory'

By Catrina Stewart in Gaza City
The Independent

"In a show of strength rarely displayed these days, masked and heavily armed militants from Hamas's armed wing, the Al Qassam Brigades, joined the hundreds of thousands of jubilant Palestinians who crowded into Gaza City's Al-Katiba Square to greet the arrival of nearly 300 newly freed prisoners.

The sight of so many fighters in plain view was a throwback to another much bloodier era, but it seemed that Hamas, the engineer of the most lopsided prisoner exchange in Israel's history, intended to drive home the message that the language of force had worked.

"It is a victory for the resistance, a victory for the Palestinian people," said Raida al-Uff, a 30-year-old Palestinian woman. "Despite the siege and the suffering, Palestinians can be happy, even if only for one reason."...."

Syria's opposition is unified and peaceful

Bashar al-Assad may claim his opposition are violent Islamists, but the birth of the Syrian National Council shows otherwise

Mohanad Hage Ali, Wednesday 19 October 2011

"The birth of the Syrian National Council in Istanbul earlier this month challenges the Assad regime's claims that the opposition is Islamist, backward and violent.

Since the uprising began seven months ago, the regime's media has been trumpeting reports of clashes with Islamist extremist gangs to undermine the revolution internationally, and to nurture a fear of change inside Syria. The relative absence of a unified voice for the opposition and the revolution has played into the regime's narratives.

But the emergence of the SNC largely demystifies Syria's opposition map, which is mostly divided into the old guard and the revolutionary youth organised under co-ordination committees.

The old guard
are pre-revolution opposition groups and independent dissidents, whether secular or Islamist (including the Muslim Brotherhood). The new youth groups, also represented on the SNC, are the revolution's "engines", officially known as the local co-ordination committees and the Syrian Revolution General Commission....

The Syrian opposition now has a somewhat unified voice. What remains unclear is how the confrontation will unfold. In the words of one Syrian dissident: "The regime's fate is known; the two unknowns are only the time and the heavy price we have to pay.""

Nobel Laureate Tawakkol Karman Demands Security Council Take Action on Yemen

As violence in Yemen erupts again, Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkol Karman calls on US (??) and UN to help.

"....Karman is scheduled to come to the United States today. Her first planned stop is the United Nations, where she intends to join a protest demanding that the Security Council, which could vote on a Yemen resolution today, take tough action to end Saleh’s rule.....

Karman hopes her new stature will help sway international policy on Yemen, including with her fellow Nobel laureate Barack Obama. [Say what? Are you that naive Tawakkul??]

I want to talk to the Obama administration to get support for the Yemeni revolution,” said Karman, who always refers to the Yemeni protests with the R word.

While in the United States, Karman said, she would call on the United States and the United Nations to ban Saleh from traveling and to freeze his assets. She also will call for Saleh to be referred to the International Criminal Court for the attacks on protesters.

Obama has deplored the attacks in Yemen and called for Saleh’s immediate resignation. But like other world leaders, he has been reluctant to seek sanctions against Saleh, who has been a fickle yet close partner in combating Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Indeed, Yemeni officials have decried Obama’s continued insistence that Saleh must go following Yemen’s cooperation in a controversial U.S. drone strike last month that killed the Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Obama describes Awlaki as an al-Qaeda leader......"

Israel: Follow Prisoner Exchange by Ending Blockade

Human Rights Watch

"(Jerusalem) – Israel and Hamas should follow the announced prisoner exchange with measures to improve human rights, Human Rights Watch said today. Israel should end its punitive closure of Gaza, which Israeli leaders have said was partly to pressure Hamas to release captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, but which extends far beyond denying military shipments to Hamas...."

Arms Transfers To The Middle East And North Africa: Lessons For An Effective Arms Trade Treaty

A 100-page report (pdf).

Arms trade to Middle East and North Africa shows failure of export controls

Amnesty International
19 October 2011

"The USA, Russia and European countries supplied large quantities of weapons to repressive governments in the Middle East and North Africa before this year’s uprisings despite having evidence of a substantial risk that they could be used to commit serious human rights violations, Amnesty International said today in a new report.

Arms Transfers To The Middle East And North Africa: Lessons For An Effective Arms Trade Treaty examines arms transfers to Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen since 2005.

"These findings highlight the stark failure of existing arms export controls, with all their loopholes, and underline the need for an effective global Arms Trade Treaty that takes full account of the need to uphold human rights," said Helen Hughes, Amnesty International’s principal arms trade researcher on the report.

"Governments that now say they stand in solidarity with people across the Middle East and North Africa are the very same as those who until recently supplied the weapons, bullets and military and police equipment that were used to kill, injure and arbitrarily detain thousands of peaceful protesters in states such as Tunisia and Egypt and are even now being deployed by security forces in Syria and Yemen."...."

Libyan Karzai's Allies

He is in Great Company!

Greater Israel—or Peace?

Scott McConnell Interviews Norman Finkelstein & John Mearsheimer

"Shortly before Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in New York to seek United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state, TAC’s Scott McConnell sat down with Norman Finkelstein and John Mearsheimer to discuss the deeper currents shaping the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since then, President Obama has given a speech shocking in its deference to Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s right-wing coalition, and there is no immediate prospect for renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations—the “peace process” begun with discussions in Oslo, Norway in 1991. Israel has announced fresh plans to move settlers into Palestinian areas of Jerusalem it conquered in 1967....

Scott McConnell: Have we come to the end of the Oslo process? Is a two‑state solution still a viable possibility?

Norman Finkelstein: The problem is the definition of terms. The Oslo process, contrary to what’s widely understood, was largely a success. It’s true now that it may be at an impasse, but as it was originally conceived, it was largely a success. The Israeli leadership was very clear about what it intended from the Oslo process.

Mainly, Rabin said—the former prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin—that if we can get the Palestinians to do the dirty work in the Occupied Territories, there’s going to be less pressure from human rights organizations. They wouldn’t cause as many problems if the Palestinians were doing the policing. And there was a military reason: namely, a large number of Israeli troops was bogged down in the Occupied Territories. That meant time taken away from military training.

The quid pro quo was, well, in 1990‑91 the PLO made what seemed to have been a tactical or strategic error by supporting Saddam Hussein, and they lost all of their funding from the Gulf States. And basically the United States and Israel threw them a life preserver, saying, “If you switch sides, you do what we want you to do, we’ll keep you alive.” That was the choice that the Palestinians made, or the Palestinian leadership made. But then a new problem arose, and that’s Hamas began to rise in power.

John Mearsheimer: The Israelis—and this was especially true of Rabin when the Oslo peace process got started—had no interest in giving the Palestinians a viable state. What they wanted was to restrict the Palestinians to a handful of Bantustans that were located inside of Greater Israel, and it could be called a Palestinian state. In a very important way, Oslo has been successful in that it has allowed the Israelis, working with the Palestinian Authority, to create a situation where the Palestinians have some autonomy in these Bantustans....."

ليس دفاعا عن إيران

"تثير محاولة الاغتيال التي اتهمت بها السلطات الإيرانية في الولايات المتحدة الكثير من الأسئلة التي لم تجب عنها حشود التصريحات والتنديدات التي أطلقها مسؤولون أميركيون وسعوديون (دخل على الخط أوروبيون أيضا).
خلاصة القول هي أننا إزاء تصعيد مع إيران، تتلوه عملية تحريض ضدها، ولا شك أن إيران لم تمر خلال العقود الثلاثة الأخيرة بمرحلة هي فيها مكروهة في العالم العربي كما هي حالها هذه الأيام، بما في ذلك أيام الحرب العراقية الإيرانية.

ولا خلاف على أن دعم طهران للنظام السوري هو السبب الرئيسي في ذلك، معطوفا على تورطها في ممارسات تفوح منها رائحة المذهبية، خاصة في عراق ما بعد الاحتلال.

هي إذن الأجواء المناسبة لعمل عسكري إسرائيلي ضد إيران إذا سمحت بذلك الولايات المتحدة، والتقارير الإسرائيلية اليومية تشير إلى ذلك بهذا القدر أو ذاك، بل إن محللين إسرائيليين لم يترددوا في القول إن تجرع رئيس الوزراء الإسرائيلي بنيامين نتنياهو لكأس السم الذي تنطوي عليه صفقة شاليط كان في شق منه تمهيدا لعملية ضد إيران التي تتهم بأنها استفادت من الانشغال الدولي بالربيع العربي في تسريع خطوات بناء برنامجها النووي.

لا يعني ذلك أن العمل العسكري بات مؤكدا، والسبب بالطبع هو التردد الأميركي، لكن ضعف الرئيس الأميركي باراك أوباما أمام نتنياهو واللوبي الصهيوني على مرمى الانتخابات الجديدة قد يفضي إلى تمرير شيء كهذا، وإن تكن الحسابات كلها معقدة، بما فيها الأمنية والعسكرية الإسرائيلية (هناك معارضة أمنية وعسكرية وسياسية للضربة العسكرية ودعوات لمنع نتنياهو من التورط فيها).

ومع ذلك لا نستبعد تورطا أميركيا مباشرا في العملية يتجاوز منحها الغطاء السياسي، وبالطبع على أمل أن يؤدي ذلك إلى رفع أسهم أوباما في ظل حالة الضعف التي يعيشها وتعيشها البلاد عشية الانسحاب الأميركي من العراق الذي وقع رهينة بيد إيران، فضلا عن الفشل المزمن في أفغانستان.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

لتأييده الثورة السورية: إعلام النظام السوري يتجاهل الإفراج عن الأسير الجولاني وئام

وصل قبل قليل إلى الجولان الأسير المحرر وئام عماشة بموجب صفقة تبادل الأسرى بين حماس وأسرائيل والتي قضت بالإفراج عن 1027 أسيراً في سجون إسرائيل مقابل الافراج عن الجندي جلعاد شاليط الذي أسرته حماس.

وقد رفض وئام عماشة وعائلته ومستقبلوه رفع صور بشار الأسد في مهرجان استقباله؛ بعد أن هدد مؤيدون للنظام السوري في الجولان بمقاطعة الاستقبال إذا لم يتم ذلك. وقد تجاهلت كل وسائل الاعلام السورية وقناة المنار اللبنانية إطلاق وئام عماشة سوى على الشريط الاخباري حيث كتبت الفضائية السورية ".... يباركون الافراج عن الاسرى الفلسطينيين والعرب ومن ضمنهم وئام عماشة"

وقد كتبت صفحة تنسيقية السويداء "...نحن لا نستغرب تجاهل الإعلام السوري الممانع لخبر اطلاق سراح أحد الأسرى السورين بسبب مواقفه البطولية خارج وداخل المعتقل بعد اضرابه عن الطعام تضامناً مع ثورة الشعب السوري.

هتافات للثورة السورية في الجولان المحتل

Al-Jazeera Video: Hamas official discusses prisoner swap

Two weeks in Bahrain's military courts

The families of six of the hundreds of people given long jail sentences speak out about the "abuse of justice".

Reporter in Bahrain

"Teachers, professors, politicians, doctors, athletes, students and others have all appeared in Bahrain's military courts. In just two weeks, 208 people were sentenced or lost appeals, leading to a cumulative total of just less than 2,500 years in prison.

Many of those imprisoned took part in massive pro-democracy protests earlier this year. Others, families say, were in the wrong place at the wrong time and were targeted by virtue of their religious sect.

One lawyer, who represents dozens of the convicted and who asked not to be named, told Al Jazeera the total numbers of how many have stood in front of military courts are not clear - but he estimates at least 600. Well over 1,000 people have been arrested since the crackdown began, he said.....

Gilad Shalit exchange may be poisoned chalice for Mahmoud Abbas

Hamas, not Fatah, is gaining popularity in the West Bank after the deal with Israel to release Palestinian prisoners

Ian Black, Middle East editor, Tuesday 18 October 2011

"Palestinians in the West Bank are celebrating the release of the hundreds of prisoners exchanged for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, but the political implications of the unprecedented deal look like bad news for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.....

It was striking that Shalit was escorted to freedom by Ahmed Ja'abari, commander of the Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's military wing – a hard man at the sharp end of the fight against Israel. Overall, the prisoner deal seems to advertise the advantages of armed resistance versus the PLO's patient, non-violent – but so far fruitless – diplomacy....

Whatever happens next, there was no escaping the sense that the Palestinian leader most favoured by the west and by Israel was being outstripped by Hamas. "Abbas should be banned [from] celebrations today," tweeted iFalastenya, "because he did nothing to help these prisoners."....."

Noam Chomsky on Israel-Palestine Prisoner Exchange, U.S. Assassination Campaign in Yemen

Democracy Now!

"MIT Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky, the world renewed linguist and political dissident, spoke Monday night at Barnard College in New York City about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, just hours before Israel and Hamas completed a historic prisoner exchange. “I think [Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit] should have been released a long time ago, but there’s something missing from this whole story. There are no pictures of Palestinian women, no discussion, in fact, in the story of, what about the Palestinian prisoners being released? Where do they come from?” Chomsky says. “There is a lot to say about that. For example, we do not know — at least I do not read it in The Times — whether the release includes the elected officials who were kidnapped and imprisoned by Israel in 2007 when the United States, the European Union, and Israel decided to dissolve the only freely elected legislature in the Arab world.” Chomsky also discussed the recent U.S. assassination of U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. “Almost all of the critics, of whom there were not many, criticized the action or qualified it because of the fact that al-Awlaki was an American citizen,” Chomksy says. “That is, he was a person, unlike suspects who are intentionally murdered or collateral damage, meaning we treat them kind of like the ants we step on when we walk down the street — they’re not American citizens. They are unpeople, therefore, they can be freely murdered.”....."

The New Libya: Exclusive Video on Challenges Facing a Nation Emerging From Gaddafi’s 42-Year Rule

Democracy Now!

"U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is on a surprise visit to the Libyan capital of Tripoli today. She is expected to hold talks with the top officials from Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC). Clinton’s visit comes a day after NATO-backed fighters loyal to the NTC claim they have captured most of Bani Walid, one of Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s last remaining strongholds. Eight months into the uprising, Libya is peering into an uncertain future. After 42 years under Gaddafi’s rule, Libyans long repressed under his regime are publicly speaking out. However, even Gaddafi’s most consistent critics say the road ahead is paved with serious challenges. In this exclusive report from inside Libya, Democracy Now! correspondent Anjali Kamat and Jacquie Soohen of Big Noise Films speak with former Libyan exiles, Libyan human rights activists, NTC chair Mustafa Abdel Jalil, prisoners held by the rebel forces, and others..."

Counter Demonstration to Occupy Wall Street, by Khalil Bendib

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Egypt's People: One Hand, by Khalil Bendib

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Video: Gaza celebrates as hundreds of Palestinian prisoners are freed, Tuesday 18 October 2011

Yemen: No immunity for serious violations under President Saleh

Amnesty International
17 October 2011

"The international community must send a clear message that those responsible for extrajudicial executions, torture and enforced disappearances in Yemen will be brought to justice as part of any transition agreement, Amnesty International said today after at least 15 more people were reported killed by the security forces in the capital Sana’a since Saturday.

A power-transfer deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) appears to offer blanket immunity to President Ali Abdullah Saleh and some of those serving under him, and could prevent criminal investigations and prosecutions for hundreds of protester deaths in recent months, as well as a string of serious human rights violations in the past.

Amnesty International urged the UN Security Council, expected to vote soon on a resolution on Yemen, to ensure that any power-transfer deal does not provide immunity to anyone, regardless of rank or affiliation.

President Saleh must not be rewarded with the grant of immunity for agreeing to leave power,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

The GCC must withdraw the immunity clause from its proposal and the UN Security Council must make it clear that no agreement is acceptable if it prevents those accused of grave human rights crimes being investigated or prosecuted.”

“The path to peace in Yemen lies not just in ending the current fighting, but in bringing to justice all those who have committed crimes such as extrajudicial executions, torture and enforced disappearances, both during the current protests and in past years.”....."

Occupy World Street

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"Occupy World Street wants that forests won't be mowed down, the air won't be polluted, banks won't be double-crossing their clients, and citizens should be totally engaged in the running of public life. This implies sensible laws managed by honest and impartial people should be in place. It's not happening - thus the swelling ranks of the Indignados International.....

This is not a (global) revolution - yet; it's still (slow) evolution. The post-political silent majority is certainly not stupid - just cynically resigned. The challenge is to hurl them out of their couches and remotes and into the streets - to make it a 99% in action.

That implies pressing for a number of key, specific policies; taxing the wealthy and the financial system, more funds for public education, decent health care, the end of the Pentagonization-addicted worldwide US Empire of Bases. As far as the US is concerned an overwhelming majority of Americans is in favor of these policies....."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Guardian Poll: Do you support the Occupy London Stock Exchange protest?

The protesters on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral in London, along with those at many other sites in the UK and globally, are taking a stand against the bankers and the financial institutions. Are you with them?, Monday 17 October 2011

So far, 88% said yes.

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story: Hamas and Israel seal prisoner swap deal

Mustafa Barghouti is A Panelist

عن مذبحة ماسبيرو

عن مذبحة ماسبيرو
الياس خوري

"تحمل المذبحة المروعة التي ارتكبت ضد المتظاهرين السلميين في ماسبيرو، واتخذت شكلا طائفيا بغيضا، كل سمات الخساسة والوحشية التي تخبئها الثورة المضادة. وقد جاءت هذه الجريمة كي ترفد الخطاب الطائفي الأقلوي الداعي الى استمرار الاستبداد بحجة الخوف، وتعطيه منطقا متطابقا مع بعض احلام العسكريين الذين يحلمون بالاستيلاء على السلطة.
لن اتوقف عند سفاهة التحريض الملوث بالطائفية الذي اتحفنا به التلفزيون المصري، ولا عند الادعاءات بأن المتظاهرين اعتدوا على الشرطة العسكرية، فهذا كلام كذّبه مشهد العربات العسكرية وهي تدوس المتظاهرين.
بل اريد ان اتوقف عند الدلالات السياسية الخطيرة للمذبحة، وما حملته من مؤشرات على قدرة الثورة المضادة على التلاعب بالمشاعر الغرائزية، بهدف العودة الى حكم الاستبداد، والى العقلية العسكرية الانقلابية.
صحيح ان الجيش المصري لم يقمع الثورة، ما ادى الى التهاوي السريع لحكم الاستبداد المباركي، لكن الصحيح ايضا ان الثورة حررت الجيش من قبضة نظام التوريث الذي حاوله مبارك، وكان ذلك ايذانا بانتهاء الدور السياسي للجيش. اي ان مبارك الذي كان يملك شرعية وحيدة هي شرعية الجيش والانتماء الى القوات المسلحة، قرر في لحظة سكره بالسلطة الانقضاض على شرعيته نفسها. وحين انفجرت الثورة تحرر الجيش من ولائه لرئيس جمهورية وصلت به الأمور الى محاولة تهميش المؤسسة التي انتجت سلطته، من اجل تأسيس جمهورية وراثية في مصر، على غرار الجمهورية الأسدية.
لكن ثورة 25 يناير لم تكن انقلابا، بل كانت ثورة شعبية حقيقية، لذا وجد الجيش نفسه مكبلا بالأفق المدني للثورة، وهنا نما ما يشبه التوازن بين سلطتين: سلطة المجلس العسكري من جهة وسلطة ميدان التحرير من جهة اخرى. وبينما تخلى شباب الثورة تدريجيا عن ميدانهم كان المجلس العسكري يقتنص الفرص للانقضاض من جديد: تفعيل الطوارئ، المحاكم العسكرية، التلاعب بالانتخابات المزمع اجراؤها الى آخره...
هنا وقعت مذبحة ماسبيرو، فالمجزرة هدفت الى اظهار القدرة على البطش، معتقدة ان المقموعين لن يثيروا اي تعاطف لأنهم من الأقباط، بل انه بالامكان اثارة الشارع ضدهم.
وليس استشهاد مينا دانيال، احد الناشطين والقادة في ثورة 25 يناير في ماسبيرو، سوى رسالة عن مضمون المشروع الأحمق الذي يستخدم الطائفية كحجاب من اجل الوصول الى جوهر الموضوع، اي الى اخراج الشعب من الشارع.
اللعبة واضحة وشبه مكشوفة، وهي استمرار للشحن الطائفي الذي مارسه الاستبداد في زمن الرئيس المصري المخلوع. لا جديد سوى اعتبار الأقباط، كونهم اقلية، مكسر عصا، يستطيع العسكر من خلال قمعهم، خلق التفاف شعبي حول فكرة الاستقرار التي يمثلها حكم الجيش!
الرد على مذبحة ماسبيرو وعلى القتل الهمجي، لا يكون بالبكاء فقط، بل باستعادة الثورة لمصدر قوتها، اي للميدان وحق التظاهر، كي لا يعتقد الضباط انهم يستطيعون الاستيلاء على الثورة من خلال موقعهم في السلطة الانتقالية.
في المقابل طرحت مذبحة ماسبيرو والشحن الطائفي المقيت الذي اثير من حولها مجموعة من الأسئلة الجوهرية التي لا تستطيع الثورات العربية تجاهلها او تأجيلها، لأنها قد تشكّل ثغرات تتسلل منها الثورة المضادة لتقويض ثورة حققت اول اهدافها كالثورة المصرية، او شلّ ثورة هي في طريقها الى النصر كالثورة السورية.
السؤال الأول هو سؤال الدولة المدنية. هذا المصطلح الجديد الذي اعتمد كبديل عن مصطلح الدولة العلمانية، غامض ويجب ايضاحه. فالدولة المدنية تعني دولة مساواة كاملة في الحقوق والواجبات، مرجعها هو القانون الوضعي، وهي على مسافة واحدة من جميع المجموعات الدينية او القومية في البلاد. المساواة ليست شعارا فارغا من المضمون، المساواة تعني ان المواطنة هي اساس الحياة السياسية، وان القبطي في مصر اوالسرياني او المسيحي اوالكردي في سورية يتمتع بالحقوق نفسها التي يتمتع بها المسلم. صحيح ان الاكثرية الساحقة من المواطنين في العالم العربي ينتمون الى الاسلام، لكن هذا الواقع لا يغير في الأمر شيئا، سوى انه يرتّب على المسلمين مسؤوليات اكبر في حماية فكرة المساواة والذود عنها.
السؤال الثاني هو سؤال الحرية، والحرية وحدة لا تتجزأ، انها حرية الفرد الكاملة في صناعة حياته، ضمن الحدود التي يرسمها القانون، وحرية الجماعات الدينية المختلفة في ممارسة شعائرها وبناء دور عباداتها والشعور بالأمن والآمان. كما انها حرية العمل الحزبي والنقابي والاجتماعي.
السؤال الثالث ويتعلق بالممارسة الديموقراطية التي يجب ان تنأى بنفسها عن الخطاب العنصري والطائفي والمذهبي.
السؤال الرابع هو سؤال العدالة الاجتماعية، وكفّ ايدي عصابات المافيا عن الاقتصاد الوطني، وبناء اقتصاد منتج.
السؤال الخامس هو سؤال الأمن القومي العربي، وبناء اطر جديدة وفاعلة لمواجهة العنصرية الصهيونية والاحتلال الاسرائيلي.
في هذا الانفجار الديمقراطي العربي الكبير الذي يأتي بعد عقود من الديكتاتورية والاستبداد، كان من الطبيعي ان تنفلت بعض الغرائز، لكن مفاجأة الثورة لنفسها كان في قدرتها على لجم هذه الغرائز، وفرض خطاب مساواتي تجلّى في ابهى صوره في ميدان التحرير من خلال التلاحم بين المسلمين والأقباط، كما صنعته الثورة السورية من خلال الأسماء التي اطلقتها على ايام الجمعة المختلفة: صالح العلي، الجمعة العظيمة، آزادي...
والملاحظ ان القوى التي حاولت اطلاق الشعارات الطائفية هي النظام الاستبدادي وبقايا اجهزة القمع من فلول النظام المصري او من عصابات الشبيحة في سورية، وبعض القوى السياسية التي التحقت متأخرة بالثورة. قدرة القوى الطائفية والعنصرية على التحرك مرتبطة بتراخي الثوريين واسترخائهم. وهنا يقع عقب اخيل الذي تحاول الثورة المضادة استغلاله.
الثورة لم تنتصر بعد لا في مصر ولا في غيرها، الثورة مسار طويل ومعقّد، لكن على الثوريين العرب الذين افتتحوا عصر الثورة السلمية الديمقراطية ان يعرفوا ان الساحات والشوارع يجب ان تبقى في ايديهم لأنها مكان تأسيس النظام الديمقراطي المدني البديل واطاره.

Syrian troops and militias 'abducting injured dissidents' from hospitals

Medical staff claim security forces are using ambulances to mask abductions in Homs and Lattakia

Martin Chulov, Monday 17 October 2011

"State-backed Syrian militias and security forces are roaming hospitals looking for demonstrators and commandeering ambulances to abduct them, medical workers inside the country say.

The workers – including doctors, ambulance drivers, medical students and Red Crescent volunteers – claim they face intimidation from regime officials who are trying to prevent them from treating wounded dissidents.

The allegations centre on the battle-torn city of Homs, where security forces and defectors were involved in heavy clashes . At least 19 people are believed to have been killed in the fighting, which was among the most intensive of the past two months.

"They are chasing defectors," a Homs resident who called himself Fadi told the Guardian by Skype. "And the regime is also trying to force people to join a pro-Assad demonstration tomorrow. They went to all the schools today and told teachers and parents that their sons and daughters must turn up tomorrow, because they want to take them to this demonstration against their will. That is one reason for the fighting. Another is that this is the people's reply to the Arab League, which was not good for us.".....

In Homs, residents are bracing for an intensification of a military campaign, which has seen Syrian forces fighting defectors most days and nights for the past fortnight.

"We know we are facing a bad destiny," said Fadi. "They are planning for something, we know that and we can feel it, but we don't know what it is.""

Al-Jazeera Video: For some Palestinians return means deportation

"Of the 1,027 prisoners being released as part of swap deal between Israel and the Palestinian resistance group Hamas, over 160 of them will face deportation to the Gaza Strip. Another 40 will be sent to Turkey, Qatar or Syria.

For the families of those deported to Gaza, Hamas has promised jobs, life-long salaries, housing and a car -- which they will need if they are to relocate from the West Bank to be with them. Calling the soon-to-be-released prisoners "sons of the nation", Hamas has also planned massive celebrations for their return.

Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston reports from the Gaza Strip."

Yemen needs more than a UN resolution to oust Saleh

As his country faces economic and humanitarian disaster, Yemen's president seems concerned only with retaining power

Brian Whitaker, Monday 17 October 2011

"....The proposed security council resolution – drafted by Britain and leaked last week – could win approval from Russia and China because, unlike the earlier resolution Syria which they vetoed, it doesn't talk of sanctions or other punitive measures. The draft "strongly condemns the continued human rights violations by the Yemeni authorities" and "demands an immediate end to all violence by all sides".

It adds that "all those responsible for human rights violations and abuses should be held accountable" – which sounds like a threat to prosecute Saleh and other offenders – while also calling on Saleh to "immediately sign and implement a political transition on the basis of the Gulf co-operation council initiative". This is where the resolution gets into a muddle. The GCC initiative includes immunity from prosecution for Saleh, so the security council cannot hold him to account for his crimes while at the same time urging him to sign the initiative.
Apart from that, there is little reason to put much faith in the GCC initiative since its "transition" timetable allows plenty of scope for Saleh to backpedal and prevaricate. He was originally supposed to sign it in April but then refused at the last minute.

Since then he has alternately blown hot and cold on the initiative – usually depending on how much pressure he happens to be under at the time – but there is not much reason to suppose that a security council resolution will make him sign it now, let alone implement it."