Saturday, January 14, 2012

Egypt: one year on, the young heroes of Tahrir Square feel a chill wind

The Observer's foreign affairs editor covered the birth of Egypt's revolution in Cairo. Now, as one leading candidate quits the presidential race in despair, he returns to meet protesters fearful of the army's power and a possible deal with Islamists


Peter Beaumont
The Observer, Saturday 14 January 2012

".....Such growing concerns over the military's continuing role were underscored yesterday when Egypt's reform leader Mohamed ElBaradei announced he was pulling out of the presidential race to protest at a lack of democratic progress.

The Nobel laureate, seen as a driving force behind the movement that forced former President Hosni Mubarak to step down, said the conditions for a fair election are not in place.

At a hastily arranged press conference, ElBaradei – a prominent political figure despite being regarded as unlikely to secure the presidency later this year – said the military rulers who took over from Mubarak have governed "as if no revolution took place and no regime has fallen".

Last week it was revealed that the military is planning its own emotional appeal to Egypt's people. On 25 January, Egypt's generals will attempt to cement their place in their country's history as "defenders" of the 18 days of revolution that began in Tahrir Square.....

In the months that have followed, for many at the forefront of the revolution the generals have come to be regarded with a deep suspicion and hostility. Critical bloggers and activists have been beaten, arrested and dragged before military tribunals. Some have been sent to jail, such as Maikel Nabil, who was sentenced in March to two years in jail for "insulting" the military and publishing "false information" by posting a blog questioning its role in the revolution.

Female protesters have been subjected to "virginity tests", sexually assaulted, stripped and beaten. And in December soldiers, for the first time, were used lethally against a wave of protests that had started in November as a response to the generals' attempt to insist on guaranteed secrecy for the military's vast budget from parliamentary oversight. That would have given the army the right to veto articles in a new constitution, and prorogue the country's new constitutional assembly.....

Like others in the core of Tahrir's revolution, he believes that the electoral process his country has witnessed – including the role of the main Islamist parties – has been co-opted by the military to ensure its continuing influence and privileges, not least their business interests cemented during the Mubarak years. But, like many, he questions whether the present push back against the revolution by the military and other institutions of the deep state shows its continuing strength or is rather evidence of its growing weakness.....

While the Muslim Brotherhood may have won a popular mandate in the recent elections, he argues that the party has formed a "temporary alliance" with the generals. The outcome – as Carter suggested last week – might be a deal to protect the military's immunities and leave them in place to exert their influence over Egyptian political life as the military did in Turkey and continues to do in Pakistan as a powerful cadre of securocrats.....

However, the question is whether the generals are planning any kind of exit at all. Indeed, Amnesty International's annual report, which was published this month, suggested that despite the military's promise to protect protesters it has detained 12,000 Egyptian citizens and carried out abuses almost identical to the last days of the Mubarak regime, including tightening controls on the press and NGOs.....

As Adam Shatz remarks in an article on Egypt in the current issue of the London Review of Books – quoting Régis Debray – the counter-revolution is revolutionised by the revolution.

In Egypt today that cycle of revolution and resistance to it is a long way from being played out."

Al-Jazeera Video: حديث الثورة - الثورات العربية

تقديم غادة عويس
تاريخ البث 2012/1/14
د. عزمي بشارة


Al-Jazeera Video: Tunisians honor anniversary of revolution

نصرالله: المقاومة المسلحة باقية ومستمرة ومتصاعدة

اكد الامين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله، اليوم السبت، في ذكرى أربعين الإمام الحسين تمسكه بتعزيز قدرات حزبه وسلاحه، ردا على ابداء الامين العام للامم المتحدة بان كي مون قلقه من استمرار امتلاك الحزب للسلاح.
وقال نصرالله، في خطاب القاه في تجمع شعبي ضخم في بعلبك، أنه "شعرت بالسعادة عندما استمعت الى الامين العام للامم المتحدة بان كي مون يقول انه قلق من القوى العسكرية لحزب الله. هذا يطمئننا ويسعدنا ونؤكد تمسكنا بسلاح المقاومة".
وعلى الصعيد السوري، اشار نصرالله إلى أن "نحن الأكثر تأثراً بما يجري في سوريا، نحاول أن ننأى بوضعنا السياسي عما يجري، ولكن نحن أكثر بلد في المنطقة يتأثر بما يجري، لذلك، من موقع الحرص والمحبة لسوريا وشعبها وأهلها وقيادتها وكل من وما فيها، ندعو المعارضة السورية إلى الإستجابة لدعوات الحوار من قبل الأسد والتعاون معه لإنجاز الإًصلاحات، وندعو إلى إعادة الهدوء والإستقرار وإلقاء السلاح ومعالجة الأمور بالحوار".
[Here Nasrallah is incapable of putting his foot in his mouth and declaring his hypocrisy, the sectarian war lord ASKS THE REVOLUTIONARIES IN SYRIA TO DISARM AND NEGOTIATE WITH ASSAD.
As if they are the ones who have declared war and have been killing thousands of people in Syria. This is the same discourse that Israel uses with Hammas : HAMMAS must Disarm as if they are the aggressors.]


By Eric Margolis
January 14, 2012

"....Iranian hardliners have told me they welcome war with the US. “The Americans will break their teeth on Iran!”

Brave words, but we heard similar foolhardy boasts from Iraqis in 2003.

Hot air, posturing and national egos can lead to disastrous real war – one that neither side wants, Israel excepted."

U.S. Warns Israel on Strike

Officials Lobby Against Attack on Iran as Military Leaders Bolster Defenses .

The Wall Street Journal
JANUARY 14, 2012.

"WASHINGTON—U.S. defense leaders are increasingly concerned that Israel is preparing to take military action against Iran, over U.S. objections, and have stepped up contingency planning to safeguard U.S. facilities in the region in case of a conflict.

President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top officials have delivered a string of private messages to Israeli leaders warning about the dire consequences of a strike. The U.S. wants Israel to give more time for the effects of sanctions and other measures intended to force Iran to abandon its perceived efforts to build nuclear weapons.

Stepping up the pressure, Mr. Obama spoke by telephone on Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and U.S. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will meet with Israeli military officials in Tel Aviv next week.....

Despite the close relationship between the U.S. and Israel, U.S. officials have consistently puzzled over Israeli intentions. "It's hard to know what's bluster and what's not with the Israelis," said a former U.S. official.

Inside the Israeli security establishment, a sort of good cop, bad cop routine, in which Israeli officials rattle sabers amid a U.S. scramble to restrain them, has assumed its own name: "Hold Me Back."

Some American intelligence officials complain that Israel represents a blind spot in U.S. intelligence, which devotes little resources to Israel. Some officials have long argued that, given the potential for Israel to drag the U.S. into potentially explosive situations, the U.S. should devote more resources to divining Israel's true intentions."

Al-Jazeera Video: Blast kills Iraqi Shia pilgrims in Basra

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrians revolutionaries turn to Lebanon for medical help

Al-Jazeera Video: Qatar's emir suggests sending Arab troops to Syria

False Flag

A series of CIA memos describes how Israeli Mossad agents posed as American spies to recruit members of the terrorist organization Jundallah to fight their covert war against Iran.


Foreign Policy

See interview with Mark Perry, just below.

"Buried deep in the archives of America's intelligence services are a series of memos, written during the last years of President George W. Bush's administration, that describe how Israeli Mossad officers recruited operatives belonging to the terrorist group Jundallah by passing themselves off as American agents. According to two U.S. intelligence officials, the Israelis, flush with American dollars and toting U.S. passports, posed as CIA officers in recruiting Jundallah operatives -- what is commonly referred to as a "false flag" operation.....

But while the memos show that the United States had barred even the most incidental contact with Jundallah, according to both intelligence officers, the same was not true for Israel's Mossad. The memos also detail CIA field reports saying that Israel's recruiting activities occurred under the nose of U.S. intelligence officers, most notably in London, the capital of one of Israel's ostensible allies, where Mossad officers posing as CIA operatives met with Jundallah officials.....

What has become crystal clear, however, is the level of anger among senior intelligence officials about Israel's actions. "This was stupid and dangerous," the intelligence official who first told me about the operation said. "Israel is supposed to be working with us, not against us. If they want to shed blood, it would help a lot if it was their blood and not ours. You know, they're supposed to be a strategic asset. Well, guess what? There are a lot of people now, important people, who just don't think that's true." "

Al-Jazeera Video: Mark Perry speaks about allegations of Israeli spies posing as CIA agents

"Agents with Israel's spy agency have posed as CIA agents in operations to recruit members of the Pakistani group Jundallah, according to a report in Foreign Policy magazine.

Using US dollars and passports, the agents passed themselves off as members of the US' Central Intelligence Agency in the operations, according to memos from 2007 and 2008, said the report which was published on Friday.

Al Jazeera speaks with author, historian and journalist Mark Perry authored the Foreign Policy report."

Who is More Corrupt? By Khalil Bendib

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

EU Report on Israel: Saving the Two State Solution?

By Jonathan Cook

"Nazareth - Already-strained relations between Israel and Europe hit an all-time low this week after a leaked internal European report on the so-called peace process criticised Israel in unprecedented terms.

The document, which warned that the chances of a two-state solution were rapidly fading, appeared to reflect mounting exasperation among the 27 European member states at Israel’s refusal to revive talks with the Palestinians....

In particular, the EU appears to be considering radical moves to push its own agenda in relation both to the large Palestinian minority living inside Israel and to the Palestinians in the so-called “Area C” of the West Bank, which covers nearly two-thirds of the occupied territory and was placed under full Israeli control by the Oslo accords.

Until now, Europe had mainly restricted its criticisms to Israeli activities in occupied East Jerusalem.

Europe’s reluctance to go public with either document indicates the great sensitivity of its proposed more activist role. In the report on Israel’s Palestinian minority, a copy of which has been seen by Al-Akhbar, European embassies warn that “we need to be sensitive about perceptions of foreign interference in issues which Israel sees as a strictly internal question.”....

Using phrases that imply Israel is conducting a policy of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Area C, the report notes the Palestinian population has shrunk dramatically to only 150,000, compared to as many as twice that number in the Jordan Valley alone in 1967. The Jewish population in the settlements, meanwhile, has grown to 310,000, tripling in less than 20 years.

The 16-page report, which was written by European heads of mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah, was leaked to Israel’s popular Ynet website this week and has been seen by Al-Akhbar too.....

The crisis in relations with Europe was one of the main topics under discussion at Israel’s annual ambassadors’ meeting in Jerusalem, held over the Christmas break when Western capitals go into brief hibernation. More than 100 senior diplomats attended, with ambassadors to Europe reporting that they felt “hated and unwanted,” and as isolated as at any time as they could remember in Israel’s history.

The pessimistic, consensual forecast at the meeting was that developments in the region, especially the Arab Spring, have ruled out any progress in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians for at least the coming year.

Netanyahu’s advisers offered their own warnings that the diplomatic impasse would not let up and Israel’s international standing, especially in Europe, was likely to erode yet further."

Israeli journalist with intel ties hints at Mossad role in Iran scientist murders

By Ali Abunimah

"Ron Ben-Yishai, an Israeli journalist with close ties to the military-intelligence establishment, hints strongly that Israel’s Mossad is behind the spate of murders of Iranian nuclear scientists.

Earlier this week Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan was killed in Tehran when assassins on motorcycles attached a bomb to his car. The campaign of murders, Ben-Yishai writes on Ynet, is aimed at “killing the brains” behind Iran’s nuclear program. He adds:

The assassination of Iranian experts is meant to deter other scientists, including foreign ones, from getting involved in such projects. The eliminations also slow down these projects and force Tehran to reorganize. Moreover, killing key figures in vital projects greatly embarrasses the Iranian regime and security forces. Such operations portray the establishment as an incompetent bunch that time after time fails in safeguarding vital interests.

Mossad fingerprints

And then under a subheading titled “Mossad fingerprints?” Ben-Yishai writes:

All indications show that a state organ is behind the assassinations. Only a state has the resources required to carry out the kind of operations executed in Iran. This includes investment in intelligence gathering that identifies the targets and prioritizes them, the investment of time and sophisticated means in preparing an operation against people or locations that are usually under heavy guard, as well as the recruitment and training of the perpetrators. National spy agencies are virtually the only ones that possess such capabilities......"

Tunisia: Portrait one of a revolution

Tunisians celebrate the one-year anniversary of the revolution that kicked off the Arab Spring.

Larbi Sadiki

Celebration without complacency

January 14 stands for the enactment of popular will. The revolution Tunisia staged and won is the gift of that will.

Anniversaries come and go. They should not be killed by routine. The road ahead is so long and will be fraught with endless challenges.

Tunisians are equipped to measure up to them, and to any "power" instituted during the period of democratic transition. The new rulers must draw one lesson: they will not be tolerated more than needed should they fail to mind the simple terms: "people", "freedom" and "dignity" - woven into the legend which has become January 14, a people's revolution and an entire Arab nation's spring.

Whether when framing the constitution or making or executing laws, they must be working to honour the values which conceived the people's revolution. The collective mind and psyche must now be geared toward constructing a system that is imbued with the standards of freedom, dignity, equality, and good governance.

The Tunisian people have brought to the public sphere - when resisting in January 2011 and when voting in October - the intelligence, defiance, resources, creativity, and norms worthy of a government matching what they achieved: releasing imaginary birds of hope into freedom, and forcing one infamous dictator on an aimless one-way flight out of the country of the free."

ElBaradei will not seek Egypt presidency

Former atomic chief and Nobel laureate says he will not seek top office while there is no "real democracy" in country.



I have a little more respect for ElBaradei now, because of this principled position and for his courage in blasting the Egyptian junta.

"Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the UN nuclear watchdog and Nobel laureate, has said he will not run for the Egyptian presidency.

Declaring there is still no real political change in the country, ElBaradei said on Saturday in a statement: "My conscience does not allow me to run for the presidency or any other official position unless there is real democracy."

He praised the revolutionary youths who led massive popular uprisings that toppled president Hosni Mubarak last year but said "the former regime did not fall".

ElBaradei compared the revolution to a boat and charged that "the captains of the vessel ... are still treading old waters, as if the revolution did not take place".

He said corruption was still rife in post-Mubarak Egypt, which has been ruled by a military council since the veteran president was removed from power in February following an 18-day popular revolt.

"We all feel that the former regime did not fall," ElBaradei said in the statement.

He denounced the "repressive" policies of Egypt's new rulers, whom he said were putting "revolutionaries on trial in military court instead of protecting them and punishing those who killed their friends".

"The bottom line is that he feels this is not a transition to democracy ... so he wants no part in the process," Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros said, reporting from Cairo.

"This is a blow to the liberal movement as a whole, just after Islamists swept the vote [for the lower house of parliament]. What they've lost is someone who has a vision and a plan for Egypt's future."

Anti-SCAF sentiment

ElBaradei 's comments reflect growing disenchantment with the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

The SCAF has repeatedly pledged to cede full powers to civilian rule when a president is elected by the end of June, but there is widespread belief that the military wants to maintain a political role in the country's future.

The council has also come under fire over its human rights record in recent months, in the face of accusations that it has been resorting to Mubarak-era tactics to stifle dissent....."

The 'invented people' stand little chance

By Robert Fisk
Saturday 14 January 2012

"His statement that the Palestinians were an "invented people" marked about the lowest point in the Republican-Christian Right-Likudist/Israel relationship. So deep has this pact now become that you can deny the existence of an entire people if you want to become US president. It's time, surely, to take a look at this extraordinary movement, to remind ourselves – since US "statesmen" cannot – just what its implications really are....

"The Lubavitcher Rebbe [sic] was famous for his vehement opposition to even the tiniest withdrawal from any territory ever held by the Israel Defence Forces, even in the framework of full peace," Rachlevsky wrote. "The most prominent emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe – the great rabbi, as Netanyahu termed him at the United Nations – included Baruch Goldstein, perpetrator of the 1994 Hebron massacre, and Yitzhak Ginsburg, the rabbi of Yitzhar, he of the radical book Baruch the Man (which celebrates the massacre)." The rabbi, Rachlevsky continued, believed that in the land of the messiah, there is no room for Arabs. Newt was right on track, it seems. "Thus racism entered Netanyahu's speech at the United Nations – not 'merely' against Islam, but also against Arabs.".....

This support has now coalesced with the Republican Party against Obama – whose grovelling to Netanyahu has won him no new friends – so that over recent years, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is routinely used to attack the Democrats. Having once been sustained by the progressive left, Israel now draws its principal support from right-wing conservatism of a particularly unpleasant kind. Christian evangelicals believe that all Jews will die if they do not convert to Christianity on the coming of the Messiah. And right-wing racists in Europe – the most prominent of them being Dutch – are welcome in Israel, while the likes of Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein are not.

Not a word about this from the would-be Republican candidates and their followers these past few days. Governor Rick Perry has long accused Obama of "appeasement" in the Middle East, and former New York mayor Ed Koch has never withdrawn his claim that Obama "threw Israel under the bus". Mitt Romney has said that he wants "to increase military and intelligence co-ordination with Israel" – as if the US hasn't been handing out aircraft and billions of dollars to Israel for decades. What chance do an "invented people" have against this?"

Saudi Arabia urged to investigate Shi’a protester death

Amnesty International
13 January 2012

"The Saudi Arabian authorities should launch an independent investigation into the death of a Shi’a protester who was killed during a demonstration in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province.

Issam Muhammad Ali Abu Abdullah, aged 22, was shot dead and three others were reported to be wounded at a protest on Thursday evening in the town of Awwamiya.

The Ministry of Interior said that the killing occurred during an exchange of gunfire between the security forces and individuals who had also attacked them with Molotov cocktails. Sources in the area told Amnesty International that Issam Mohammad Ali Abu Abdullah was killed by multiple bullet wounds fired by security forces.

Thursday’s protest urged the authorities to release political prisoners and called for an end to discrimination against the Shi’a minority in the Kingdom.

“This is the latest of several disturbing protester deaths in Saudi Arabia in the last couple of months,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s interim Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“The need to immediately launch an independent investigation into the death of Issam Abu Abdullah is underlined by the fact that investigations that were announced into previous protester deaths in similar incidents do not appear to have gone anywhere,” he added.

In November 2011, four members of the Shi’a minority were killed by the security forces in three separate incidents in the al-Qatif region, three of them during protests....."

Moussa denies receiving Saudi funds for presidential campaign

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"Former Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa denied receiving funds from Saudi Arabia for his election campaign, in an interview with London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper Friday.

When the newspaper asked Moussa about repeated charges that he has received funding ― offering a figure somewhere between LE50 million and US$50 million ― from the Gulf kingdom to support his presidential bid, Moussa responded, “This did not happen and will never happen.”

“I call on those who say and write such things to comply with God, because this is not true,” he said. “Riyadh stands at an equal distance from all the presidential candidates and political forces in Egypt.”[What a blatant lie!]

Privately owned Al-Mesryoon newspaper reported last May that Saudi Arabia had allocated a US$5 million reward to Moussa for his service as Arab League secretary general. Some activists on online social networks like Facebook and Twitter consider the reward to have been support for Moussa's presidential campaign.

Saudi Arabia was one of the primary supporters of the ousted regime of former President Hosni Mubarak, with which Moussa is often accused of being affiliated. The kingdom announced its full support for Mubarak during the 25 January uprising last year that eventually brought down the regime.

News reports surfacing in April said that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were threatening to fire Egyptian laborers and withdraw their investments from Egypt if Mubarak were put on trial....."

Qatar's emir suggests sending troops to Syria

Emir of Qatar and Israeli War Criminal Livni

Sheikh Hamad says "some troops should go to stop killing" amid reports by activists of more deaths across the country.


"The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, has said Arab troops should be sent to Syria to end the political unrest in the country that the UN says has left more than 5.000 people dead.

In an interview on Friday with US broadcaster CBS for the news programme 60 Minutes, Sheikh Hamad was asked if he was in favour of Arab nations intervening, to which he replied: "For such a situation to stop the killing ... some troops should go to stop the killing."

Sheikh Hamad is the first Arab leader to publicly suggest foreign intervention in Syria, where the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad is now in its tenth month.

Speaking about his own influence on the uprisings in the Arab world, he said: "We are supporting the people of those countries ... [who are] asking for justice and dignity.

"If this [is] influence, I think this is a healthy influence. I think all the world should support this."....."

Friday, January 13, 2012

تصريح من جماعة الإخوان المسلمين في سورية

I am no fan of the Muslim brotherhood. However this response by them was impressive. The head of the MB answers back to the Israelis who said "they are willing to open up Golan for Alawites once bashar is overthrown to protect them from revenge". He says the right thing and tries to dispel the notion that they are sectarian or have an secret agenda to make peace with Israel:

د لا تستحق تفوّهات رئيس الأركان الإسرائيلي.. عن استعداد إسرائيل لاستقبال محتمل للاجئين سوريين (علويين) في حال سقوط بشار الأسد، الوقوف عندها، أو الرد عليها، فهي من ضروب اللغو الذي إذا مرّ به العقلاء مرّوا كراما..
ولكن ربما يكتسب الكلام بعض قيمة إضافية، من الإطار الذي ألقاه فيه صاحبه، حيث تم إطلاق هذه الهذيانات في جلسة استماع للجنة الشؤون الخارجية والدفاع في البرلمان الإسرائيلي، يوم الثلاثاء 10 / 1 / 2012.
ثم حاول بعض النافخين في كير الفتنة، أن يُبدئوا ويُعيدوا فيه، مضخّمين ومكرّرين، مع أنهم لم ينفخوا إلا في فقاعة في هواء..
إن إصرار بعض أصحاب الأغراض المريضة، في الداخل والخارج، على قراءة التنوع السكاني في وطننا سورية (الديني، أو المذهبي، أو العرقي) قراءة تفكيكية، هو جزء من خطة النظام التاريخية، في المراهنة على تفتيت المجتمع الواحد، لإخضاعه والسيطرة عليه، وضرب أبنائه بعضهم ببعض..
إن من حقنا، نحن السوريين، أن تكون لنا قراءتنا للمؤامرة التي يحوكها النظام ضد الشعب السوري الحر العزيز، والتي تتحرك في سياقها دول وقوى وبوارج وأموال ورجال.. وإنه من الواضح لكل ذي بصيرة، أن هذه التفوّهات السوداء المستنكرة، هي جزء من مؤامرة تسعى إلى إنقاذ النظام، بتخويف أبناء مجتمعنا الواحد بعضهم من بعض..
إننا في جماعة الإخوان المسلمين في سورية..
نرفض بالمطلق كلّ القراءات التفتيتية أو التفكيكية للمجتمع السوري، على أي خلفية من الخلفيات الدينية، أو المذهبية أو العرقية.. ونتمسك بإصرار، بمجتمع مدني واحد، وبدولة مواطنة مدنية، يحمي القانون كل فرد فيها..
ونرفض كلّ رؤية عصبية ضيقة، تحسب الطائفة العلوية الكريمة على النظام أو تحسب النظام عليها. ونرى في هذه الرؤية، مع ما فيها من مجافاة للواقع، خدمة للنظام من حيث يريد أصحابها أو لا يريدون..
نؤكد للعالم أجمع، وبشكل خاص للمراهنين على وحدة شعبنا في الداخل والخارج: أننا جميعا، مسلمين ومسيحيين، سنة وعلويين ودروزا وإسماعيليين، وعربا وكردا وتركمان.. شعب واحد، ومجتمع واحد، ومشروع وطني واحد؛  يسعى إلى الحرية وإلى الكرامة وإلى السلام والعدل.. ونردّ كل أحاديث الحقد والثأر والانتقام والعصبية على أصحابها، في وعد وعهد غير مكذوب.
نستنكر التفوّهات سيئة الذكر، ونعتبرها جزءاً من سياق المؤامرة على شعبنا، في إطار الحلف غير الغائب عن صمت الجولان منذ نصف قرن. ولصاحب هذه التفوهات المريبة ولكل من يشايعه أو يستثمر في تصريحاته، نعيد القول: نحن في سورية أهل ووطن ..الأهل أهلنا، والدار دارنا، والجولان جولاننا..
زهير سالم
الناطق الرسمي باسم جماعة الإخوان المسلمين في سورية

War on Iran: It’s Not A Matter of “If”


"..... Is the strategy to force Iran into a corner, methodically demolishing its economy by embargoes and sanctions so that in the end a desperate Iran strikes back.

As with sanctions and covert military onslaughts on Iraq in the run up to 2003, the first point to underline is that the US is waging war on Iran. But well aware of the US public’s aversion to yet another war in the Middle East, the onslaught is an undeclared one.

The analogy here is the run up to Pearl Harbor. Let me quote from a useful timeline. On October 7, 1940, a US Navy IQ analyst Arthur McCollum wrote an 8 point memo on how to force Japan into war with US. Beginning the next day FDR began to put them into effect and all 8 were eventually accomplished.....

To further inflame the leadership in Iran we had last week the murder of Iran nuclear scientist Ahmadi Roshan which came on the one-year anniversary of the murder of two other Iranian nuclear scientists by similar methods. As CounterPuncher Peter Lee writes, “It came at a time of heightened tensions (anyway, tensions higher than the usual heightened tensions), inviting the inference that somebody, probably somebody in the region, wants to goad the Iranian government into a response that could start the military action ball rolling.”....

As Pierre Sprey remarked to me, “Note also that this is one of those rare but dangerous moments in history when Big Oil and the Israelis are pushing the White House in the same direction. The last such moment was quickly followed by Dubya’s invasion of Iraq.”......"

The Lousy Arab

I’ve been following the Angry Arab blog since 2005. In those days, the blog was a breath of fresh air, written by an Arab political commentator in the US who was against the Iraq war and who was not scared of speaking his mind on Israel.
As the Arab Spring took off, Asad Abukhalil was fully supportive of the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions. His support, however, didn’t extend to the further manifestations of the ripple effect. Abukhalil seemed hesitant to express any support for the protest movement in Syria from its onset, although he offered some condemnation of the Syrian regime. One may detect Abukhalil’s hesitance through unverified letters by his anonymous leftist friends, who suddenly had business that required extensive travel around Syria, where they reported ominous indications that the opposition movement was sectarian, violent, anti-Hezbollah, and probably soft on Israel.
Abukhalil’s stance toward Syria shifted drastically from hesitance (or indifference) to manic hysteria after the formation of the Syrian National Council. His tone became hostile towards the SNC and he resorted to false accusations to smear their image (I will get to that later in this article). One may not totally agree with SNC’s performance, or lack there of, however the revolution needed political representation and after six months and several attempts by opposition groups to consolidate, the SNC became the legitimate representative of the protest movement. The SNC, and its lead representative Burhan Ghalioun, were thrown into the fray with little preparation time and a lot of urgency, due to the regime’s brutal crackdown on the protesters, and the growing death toll.
Assad Abukhalil’s latest piece sums up his position on Syria’s uprising. Rather than directly state his stance against the revolution, he resorts to criticizing what he perceives to be the unprofessionalism of its media coverage, but with infusions of his own doubts and biases against the revolution.
It’s also noteworthy that, in the course of criticizing western media coverage of the Syrian uprising, Asad Abukhalil doesn’t offer one single link to samples of this slanted coverage. Perhaps he believes his lousy blog is a sufficient reference and no further explanation is needed.
This particular article asks more questions than it answers. Abukhalil offers no explanation for the alleged bias of western media except that the Syrian regime is an enemy of the US and Israel, and therefore is being unfairly portrayed. Abukhalil in actuality, fails to show how or why the Syrian regime is an enemy of the US and Israel.
So in order to compliment Asad Abukhalil’s article, I’ve addressed some of the questions he had put forward:
Every demonstration is massive, and every strike is successful, and every Friday has topped the previous Friday in the size of protesters. But how true is that?
As’ad Abukhalil fails to cite one single media outlet that listed the 400 or so protests that took place last Friday, or called each one of them “massive”. Nor could any TV station realistically show all of the protests’ videos uploaded to the internet. In fact, Al Jazeera Mubasher (live) often uses split screens to show several protests taking place simultaneously on Fridays, and each one of them would, indeed, be massive.
…. there was no explanation provided for the resilience that has characterized the regime thus far. How does one explain that there has been not one diplomatic defection and no major government defection?
In fact, two Members of Parliament from Daraa resigned in April and then retracted their resignations.
The answer is, of course, regime intimidation of them and their family members.
One should also not forget the rigorous vetting process for Syrian diplomats. It’s safe to assume that Syrian diplomatic missions around the world act more as shabbiha outposts, and less as embassies or consulates. As’ad Abukhalil considers the brutality, immorality and tashbeeh of the regime to be signs of resilience. If the Syrian regime were to eventually crush the rebellion through its deadly crackdown on protesters, and the widespread use of detention, torture and murder, Abukhalil would conclude the regime had been resilient.
During the early days of the Syrian revolution, Syrian-American pianist Malik Jandali’s parents were brutally beaten in Homs by regime thugs because of Jandali’s performance in an anti-regime rally in Washington. Jandali didn’t publish the pictures of their bruises or tell their story to the media until after his parents left Syria. Even then, his vacant home in Homs was ransacked to punish him for publishing the pictures of his beaten parents. Such is the immorality of this regime.
Why is it difficult for the media to even inform the readers of what is happening?
Does As’ad Abukhalil himself know what’s happening? And if he does, why doesn’t he tell us? Why does he keep claiming that he trusts no one on Syria – neither Al Jazeera nor the regime affiliated Al Douniya TV?
The Syrian regime has tried with all its might to control the information trickling out the country, in order for their (fabricated) version of events to appear credible and uncontested. Syria’s activists, however, have managed to beat this blackout by relying on the Internet and, when that is cut off by the regime, on satellite phones. Syria’s activists have vigilantly recorded the opposition’s protests, documented security forces abuses and kept tallies of the names of those arrested or killed. Because of the heavy clamp-down on Local Coordination Committees (online underground groups in Syria that coordinate protests and broadcast news to the outside world) these committees have to work in absolute secrecy and sometimes make mistakes. The few networks or sources that consistently reported rumors or downright false news without backing them up have been weeded out and excommunicated by the majority of the Syrian opposition.
It’s worth noting that As’ad Abukhalil himself relies on news reports from his “comrades” and “correspondents” in Bahrain and elsewhere and post them on his blog unverified. In fact, just today he posted an update from a Saudi opposition group on Facebook without apparent verification.
Why are they insisting that the token Christian representative in the executive body of the Syrian National Council is a true representative of all Syrian Christians?
Actually, Asad Abukhalil, in his comment on Burhan Ghalioun’s interview with the WSJ, said that Ghalioun failed to explain why the SNC is devoid of Christians. Ghalioun had in fact not addressed this matter since the SNC does indeed have Christian members. I’ve contacted Dima Mousa, Christian member of the SNC, and asked her to enlighten Abukhalil. Upon realizing that there are indeed diverse elements within the SNC, Abukhalil resorted to calling the minority representatives ‘tokens’.
Does Abukhalil believe that Fadwa Suleiman, the Alawite Syrian actress protester, seen here dancing and singing in a Homsi protest, is also a token?
If the Angry Arab is looking for a Lebanese system of confessional democracy, he’ll be disappointed.
Are we now to trust the propaganda outlets of the ruling dynasties of Qatar and Saudi Arabia?
Unless one believes regime claims that studios in Doha resemble Syrian cities and Syria’s protests are being staged and filmed from Doha, one can’t honestly say that Al Jazeera is facbricating news. Al Jazeera is relying on information published online by the LLCs or on eyewitness statements or phone calls with spokespersons of the LLCs in Syria. It is not a difficult task to corroborate these statements with other sources or videos posted online later. That, actually, is the likely scenario most of the time: a tweet or Facebook update announces a protest setting off from neighborhood X and proceeding down a certain street. Later, a collation of videos would prove that the tweets (or Facebook updates) were more or less correct, barring a marginal variation of how the human eye estimates numbers.
If, like me, you’ve been closely following the Angry Arab blog, you’d find that he is typically full of praise for Al Jazeera, its richness and professionalism. But when it covers Syria, Abukhalil believes it is a different story.
Finally, in order to assess Abukhalil’s own coverage of the Syrian uprising, I would like to bring to your attention the following posts (selected randomly):
In trying to explain why there has been no defections, Asad Abukhalil fails to mention the fear of retribution by the regime (as mentioned above).
Here Asad Abukhalil explains why the Syrian revolution doesn’t have the same popularity among Arab youth like the Egyptian revolution did. He attributed that to Egyptian youth refusal to call for Nato intervention. Never mind that the Syrian regime has been far more brutal. Never mind that the Egyptian revolution was concluded in 18 days. Never mind that the Egyptian and the Tunisian revolution were for the most part televised, while Syrian activists had to make up for that by relying on youtube videos. I’m not justifying calls for Nato here, but if you want to compare, at least do it in context. And at any rate, the Syrian revolution being “non-sexy” doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an overwhelming support in the Arab world. We are sorry if we can’t entertain you, Abukhalil. If you’re looking for sexiness, you can always ask the Egyptians for an encore.
Here Asad Abukhalil describes Ma’moun Humsi as a significant opposition figure. Mamoun Humsi, in reality, is a cringe-worthy lone figure in the Syrian oppositions that no one listens to. Asad Abukhalil ignores the courageous and influential figures of the revolution, likeMeshaal Tammo and Riad Saif, and focuses instead on Mamoun Humsi, whom he inflates and gives undue importance to.  If one is unfamiliar with the Syrian uprising one would think the entire opposition is calling for extermination of Alawites.
Here Asad Abukhalil claims that Burhan Ghalioun (head of Syrian National Council) was justifying the absence of Kurds and Christians in the SNC in this interview with the WSJ. If you read the paragraph in question, you’d realize that Ghalioun was explaining why it’s difficult to unite the opposition. Not justifying the absence of anyone.

Demonstrating Marine Corps "Values"

Iran has pay back in mind

By Kaveh L Afrasiabi
Asia Times

"The United Nations has ignored a plea by Iran that it condemn the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist in Tehran this week. Should such an incident happen again, Iran could be galvanized into taking matters into its own hands by targeting scientists from the United States and Israel...."

Leading article: The Arab League must withdraw

The Independent
Friday 13 January 2012

"....The credibility of the Arab League mission has been suspect from the outset. With only 165 observers at its full complement, the delegation was never anywhere near large enough to cover a country the size of Syria effectively. Its reliance on the regime for logistical and security support rightly sparked concerns about its independence. And the leadership of General Mustafa al-Dabi – a supporter of the Sudanese President, wanted in the Hague over genocide in Darfur – also raised eyebrows. After weeks of escalating violence, the mission is now unravelling. That one of its observers has quit, branding the entire operation a "farce", accusing the regime of gross crimes, and describing the situation on the ground as a "humanitarian disaster" only confirms sceptics' worst fears.

Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, has hinted that the Arab League mission should not continue indefinitely. She is half-right. It should not continue at all. Simply by their presence, the monitors are lending legitimacy to a wholly illegitimate regime. They should be withdrawn forthwith."

This is not about 'bad apples'. This is the horror of war

How many other abuses took place off camera? How many Hadithas? How many My Lais?

By Robet Fisk

"So now it's snapshots of US Marines pissing on the Afghan dead. Better, I suppose, than the US soldiers pictured beside the innocent Afghan teenager they fragged back in March of last year. Or the female guard posing with the dead Iraqi prisoner at Abu Ghraib. Not to mention Haditha or the murder videos taken by US troops in the field – the grenading of an old shepherd by an Iraqi highway comes to mind – or My Lai or the massacre of refugees by US forces in Korea or the murder of Malayan villagers by British troops. Or the Bloody Sunday massacre of 14 Catholics by British troops in Derry in 1972. And please note, I have not even mentioned the name of Baha Mousa.

The US Marines' response to the pissing pictures was oh so typical. These men were not abiding by the "core values" of the Marines, we were informed. Same old story. A "rogue" unit, a few "bad apples", rotten eggs. Maybe.

But if there is one game of pissing on the dead, how many others happened without pictures? How many other shepherds got fragged in Iraq? How many other Hadithas have there been? There were plenty of other My Lais....

For note, it was not the killing of these men that worried the Marine Corps in the US – it was the pissing. Nothing wrong in killing amid the "core values" of the Marine Corps; you just shouldn't urinate on the corpses. And even more to the point: YOU MUSTN'T DO IT ON CAMERA! Too late. It comes to this. Armies are horrible creatures and soldiers do wicked things but when we accept all these lies about "bad apples" and the exceptionalism of crime in war – "there may have been some excesses" is the usual dictator-speak – we are accepting war and going along with the dishonesty of it and we are making it more possible and easier and the killings and rapes more excusable and more frequent.

And how should armies react? With one word: guilty."

Yard may shed light on Blair's role in Libya

Kim Sengupta Friday 13 January 2012
The Independent

"....Those of us journalists who saw the documents in Tripoli after the rebels had swept in were struck by the extent to which the British government was pressing its intelligence service to play a key role in the rapprochement with Gaddafi's regime. Much of the handling of Blair's 2004 "deal in the desert" was delegated by Downing Street to the men from Vauxhall Cross.

And Blair had to thank the SIS and Allen for one of his triumphs of foreign policy which stood in stark contrast to the disaster of Iraq: the negotiations which led to Gaddafi giving up his WMD programme and, crucially, the secret nuclear supermarket for rogue states run by the Pakistani scientist AQ Khan. Such was the MI6 influence that an MI6 official wrote Gaddafi's speech renouncing chemical and biological weapons.....

Having taken the plaudits, Blair and Straw were very keen to deny knowledge of MI6's activities when, post-Gaddafi, the documents began to surface. It will be interesting to see what Scotland Yard uncovers about who knew what was going on...."