Saturday, February 4, 2012

Double veto of draft Security Council Resolution on Syria a betrayal of protesters

4 February 2012

"The decision by Russia and China to veto a weak draft UN Security Council resolution on Syria, the day after the Syrian army launched a major assault on residential areas of Homs leaving scores dead, is a shockingly callous betrayal of the people of Syria, Amnesty International said today.

"This is a completely irresponsible use of the veto by Russia and China," said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's Secretary-General.

"It is staggering that they have blocked the passage of what was already a very weak draft resolution."

"After a night in which the whole world watched the people of Homs suffering, the actions of these members are particularly shocking."....

Amnesty International said it would continue to press members of the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, impose a comprehensive arms embargo on the country and implement an assets freeze on Bashar al-Assad and other top officials."

Egyptian police incited massacre at stadium, say angry footballers

Captain of team and his brother say violence in which more 70 fans died had been planned

The Observer, Saturday 4 February 2012

"Twin brothers who play for the football team Al-Masry, whose match against a rival team in Egypt ended in a massacre, claim the violence was encouraged by the police with the backing of the army.

Captain Karim Zekri and his brother, Mohamed, told the website that there was strong evidence the bloodshed was planned. More than 70 people were killed and at least 1,000 injured in the violence at the Port Said stadium following the home side Al-Masry's victory over Cairo-based Al-Ahly......

The twins' claims are likely to reinforce the belief that the violence was orchestrated by the army against the "Ultras", the Al-Ahly fans whose experience confronting police at football matches was deployed with devastating effect against Egypt's security forces during the Arab spring.

Mohamed said he had felt something was wrong before kick-off. "Firstly, there was no real searching of fans as they entered the stadium, which is really unusual," he said. "Tickets weren't being checked, and there was no searching at all. And for the first time in the history of our town, the governor and chief of police did not attend this game."

Karim said he had heard that a man arrested on Friday had confessed to helping orchestrate the violence. "He said that there were more than 600 people hired from outside Port Said who entered the game. They'd taken money from one of the sacked National Democratic party members … He told them to kill and cause havoc in the stadium, and now everyone is searching for him."

The brothers said they believed they were risking their lives by speaking out. "We are both ready to die like those who already have, if that's what it takes for the truth to emerge, and God willing, everyone will know the truth soon," Mohamed declared."

Syria: '300 killed' as regime launches huge attack on besieged city of Homs

Massive artillery barrage comes as Russia and China veto UN security council resolution calling on president to step down

Martin Chulov, and Paul Harris in New York, Saturday 4 February 2012

"The Syrian city of Homs was left reeling on Saturday from harrowing accounts of a massacre that has left hundreds of people dead. Residents of the besieged city said that at least 300 people had been killed in a massive regime artillery barrage, the most deadly attack of the 11-month uprising.

The reports described horrific scenes in a city that has suffered most from recent violence, but not previously experienced a bombardment on this scale. Homs is divided almost in two, with Alawites, who are loyal to the regime, on one side and Sunni Muslims, who want to oust Assad, on the other......"

Guardian Video: Protests erupt at Syrian embassy in London

Police and protesters clashed outside the Syrian embassy in central London following the arrest of six activists who broke into the building, causing damage and injuring two police officers. Syrian embassies in Egypt, Germany, Spain and the US have also been targeted by demonstrators who are enraged by the continuing repression of the uprising in Syria, and recent reports of more than 200 deaths in Homs, Saturday 4 February 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: طرد السفير السوري في تونس احتجاجا على مجزرة حمص

Al-Jazeera Video: Al Jazeera reports on torture inside Homs

"The Syrian government has been blamed by opposition groups for imprisoning tens of thousands of protesters calling for reform since the uprising began in March 2011.

Rights groups beleive many of the prisoners have been tortured, some until death. Outside the prisons, the government has continued its military crackdowns protests, killing thousands of people across the country.

In the third part of a series of exclusive reports, Jane Ferguson goes inside Homs, one of the main targets of President Bashar al-Assad's security forces."

Al-Jazeera Video: Activists target Syrian embassy buildings in several cities

"British police used batons to beat back protesters attempting to storm the Syrian Embassy in London for a second time after successfully breaking in early on Saturday.

The crowd broke several of the embassy's windows during the melee.

Police said six people were arrested in the initial assault on the building, while another six were arrested hours later when demonstrators chanting "We want to close the embassy" kicked down barriers and rushed the building.

Al Jazeera's Stuart Silvers reports from in front of the Syrian embassy in London."

Al-Jazeera Video: تزايد عدد القتلى في مدينة حمص

"قال المجلس الوطني السوري إن عدد القتلى الذين سقطوا منذ فجر اليوم بنيران الجيش السوري في حي الخالدية، بمدينة حمص، تجاوز مئتين وستين شخصاً. وقال المجلس إن جميع هؤلاء قتلوا في قصف عشوائي وعمليات عسكرية نفذها الجيش السوري في المدينة. من جهته، وصف المرصد السوري لحقوق الانسان ما يحدث في حمص بأنه مجزرة حقيقية، بينما تحدث شهود عيان عن منع الجيش السوري نقل الجرحى إلى المستشفيات.
تقرير : مازن إبراهيم
تاريخ البث : 04/02/2012

Real News Video: RAW FOOTAGE: Egyptians battle police forces in second day of "Soccer Uprising"

For the second day in a row, Egyptians battled police forces in cities around the country.

More at The Real News

"For the second day in a row, Egyptians battled police forces in cities around the country. In Cairo, thousands of protesters took on the police in front of the hated Interior Ministry, blamed for being responsible for the deaths of 74 people killed when a major soccer match erupted in violence on Wednesday. Protesters threw rocks at police, who fired back with tear gas, buckshot and rubber bullets. More than two thousand have been injured and nine killed in two days of fighting, according to the Health Ministry. The violence took place one block from the now infamous Mohamed Mahmoud Street, where similar street battles took place less than three months ago. Then, thousands were injured and 40 people were killed by security forces, many by asphyxiation from tear gas. The Military Council installed a new cabinet, and the new Interior Minister vowed not to use tear gas on protesters again. That promise was not kept. But protesters have proven more resilient than ever, tearing down an enormous concrete block wall erected by the military after the Mohamed Mahmoud battle, and occupying a government tax building. Withstanding a steady barrage of tear gas and buckshot, the protesters continued fighting into the night and the next day. These images of the front line at the northwest corner of the Interior Ministry were filmed on Friday afternoon, February 3, by TRNN videographer Roddy Hafiz."

Tunisia to withdraw recognition of Syrian regime, expel ambassador

Al-Masry Al-Youm


Good for Tunisia! Other countries, especially Arab, should do the same. What are they waiting for?

"Tunisia is withdrawing its recognition of the Syrian leadership under President Bashar al-Assad and will expel the Syrian ambassador, the Tunisian president said on Saturday.

A message posted on the Facebook page of President Moncef Marzouki said: "Tunisia has announced the launch of procedures for the expulsion of the Syrian ambassador in Tunisia and the withdrawal of all recognition of the regime in power in Damascus."

"The only solution (to the violence in Syria) is the withdrawal of Bashar al-Asssad from power, and the launch of a democratic transition," the message said according o Reuters.

The Tunisian decision came hours after Syrian forces unleashed a barrage of mortars and artillery on the battered city of Homs for hours before dawn on Saturday, sending terrified residents fleeing into basements and killing more than 200 people in what appeared to be the bloodiest episode in the nearly 11-month-old uprising.

Tunisia decided to expel Syria's ambassador in response to the "bloody massacre" in Homs and it "no longer recognizes" the Assad regime, an official in the president's office told AP on condition of anonymity, in line with government policy.

Syrian demonstrators ransacked their country's embassy in Cairo and broke into the missions in London and Kuwait, part of protests around the world against the worst bloodshed of the uprising against Assad....."

Two Cairo police stations attacked, prisoners freed

Bikya Masr

".....Pro-change activists in Egypt say the loose security on the streets is a play from the government and the ruling military council to spread chaos, scare people and assert their position as a needed force at the present time.

“Bank robberies and loose security is part of the SCAF’s plan to re-enact Mubarak’s ‘me or chaos’ scenario,” Hisham Ahmed, a student and online activist told via phone Saturday afternoon.

“Police took a year to regain their strength, yet crimes and street chaos is spreading and it is very obvious that there is a hand behind the security deterioration in our streets and that hand is the hand of Tantawy’s men,” argued the 24-year-old activist, referring to the head of the military council."

Al-Jazeera Video: بلا حدود - إسماعيل هنية

Al-Jazeera Video: Al Jazeera speaks to Jane Ferguson

"Al Jazeera speaks to Jane Ferguson, a journalist who has just returned from reporting in Homs, a city that has been at the centre of recent violence."

Al-Jazeera Video: 'Hundreds killed' in Syria's Homs

Al-Jazeera Video: Bahrain protests grow ahead of anniversary

An attack on Tehran would be madness. So don't rule it out

After invading Iraq over weapons of mass destruction, we plan to clap as Israel bombs Iran

By Robert Fisk

".....Panetta, pictured below, who lied to US forces in Iraq by claiming to them they were there because of 9/11, should know better than to play this game. CNN ditto. I shall forget Ignatius. But what is all this? Nine years after invading Iraq – an enormously successful adventure, we are still told – because Saddam Hussein had "weapons of mass destruction", we plan to clap our hands as Israel bombs Iran because of more unprovable "weapons of mass destruction". Now I don't doubt that within seconds of hearing the news, Barack Obama's grotesque speech-writers will be grovelling to find the right words to support such an Israeli attack. If Obama can abandon Palestinian freedom and statehood for his own re-election, he can certainly support Israeli aggression in the hope that this will get him back in the White House.

If Iranian missiles start smashing into US warships in the Gulf, however – not to mention US bases in Afghanistan – then the speechwriters may have much more work to do. So just don't let the Brits or the Frenchies get involved."

Syrian embassies in London and Cairo attacked over Homs massacre

Cairo embassy is trashed, while police in London detain five people and missions are targeted in other countries, Saturday 4 February 2012

"Five people have been arrested during a demonstration at the Syrian embassy in London, Scotland Yard said. There have been further demonstrations at Syrian missions in other countries over the massacre of civilians in Homs.

In Cairo, Egypt, enraged Syrians again stormed their country's embassy, smashing furniture and equipment and setting fire to parts of the building.

The gate of the embassy in central Cairo was broken and furniture and computers were smashed on the second floor of the building, said a witness. Parts of the first floor were burned, he said.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered at a police station a few streets from the embassy to demand the release of six Syrians who they said were detained during the protest at the mission.

In Kuwait, witnesses said demonstrators stormed into the Syrian embassy compound, breaking windows, tearing down the Syrian flag and hoisting the colours of the opposition movement......

Rallies also broke out at Syria's embassies in Germany, Spain, Sweden and the US, according to reports.

One protester in London told the BBC: "We don't know what message the Syrian regime is giving out with this massacre today – given the UN security council vote ... we don't really understand what they're doing. But we must stop the bloodshed in Syria."...."

Friday, February 3, 2012

MASACRE IN HOMS : OVER 200 KIlled and 700 injured

Reports say at least 200 people have been killed across Syria as protestors commemorate the massacre of tens of thousands of people in Hama in 1982.
The Syrian Observatory for Human rights group said mortar fire had hit the Al Khalidiya district of Homs, which has become a flashpoint of the 10-month revolt against the regime of president Bashar al-Assad.
"It's a real massacre," said the observatory's director Rami Abderrahman, calling for the "immediate intervention" of the Arab League to end the killing.
"The death toll is now at least 217 people killed in Homs, 138 of them killed in the Khalidiya district."
Protesters were commemorating the 1982 massacre ordered by Mr Assad's father, Hafez.
Until a year ago Syrians would not dare speak of what happened in Hama in 1982 when troops surrounded the city and levelled it with artillery fire to put down an uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood.
But overnight demonstrators emerged from the mosques across the country under banners reading "Hama forgive us for keeping silent".
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said security forces dispersed demonstrators in the Janoub al-Malaab district of Hama, where residents had planned to release 1,000 red balloons to mark the 1982 massacre.
Violence also returned to the main commercial hub Aleppo, which has so far remained largely on the sidelines of the uprising but which is now home to a growing opposition movement.
Eight soldiers were killed in clashes with army deserters in the southern province of Daraa and seven people were killed in Damascus province, where the government beat back rebels who temporarily seized towns last week.
Video footage on the internet, purportedly filmed in Hama on Friday, showed dozens of people in a side street waving green, white and black rebel flags and chanting "freedom forever".
On Thursday, Hama residents coated many streets with red paint to mark the four-week assault on the city and the razing of its old town.

Egypt: unfinished business

The country's reaction to the stadium disaster shows that the desire to finish what started a year ago is as strong as ever

A Good Editorial
, Friday 3 February 2012

"One of the many features which made Egypt's deadliest night of football different from similar stadium disasters at Hillsborough or Heysel is the widespread belief that the violence was planned. There is circumstantial evidence for this view: from Port Said stadium itself, where knives and swords were smuggled into the stadium, exit gates were locked, gates on to the pitch mysteriously opened, and riot police remained uncharacteristically static; and from the wider political context, just one week after the military partially lifted the state of emergency.

The deep state has previous form. Anyone who can release convicted criminals to terrify the middle class into rejecting calls for Mubarak's resignation, or who opens fire on Coptic Christians to increase sectarian tensions in the runup to elections, is more than capable of organising a knife fight between rival football fans. Whatever the truth, the tragedy in Port Said stadium has sparked two days of rioting and renewed demands for an immediate transfer of power from military to civilian rule. It feels like groundhog day, as the streets around the interior ministry fill with teargas. The difference this time is that a parliament exists, and this has become its baptism of fire.

The chaos of the first anniversary of the uprising in Egypt has given rise to gleeful attempts to declare its premature demise: the Arab spring is in midwinter; soaring hope has turned sour and disillusion now reigns; the economy of a country where 40% live below the poverty line is on its knees. All partially true. But consider the scale of the change being demanded in the post-Mubarak transition. From a paternalist dictatorship to a society stripped bare, where every social contract has to be renegotiated and there are no rules, let alone a functioning police force and justice system. A huge, and perhaps unbearable, weight of expectation rests on the Muslim Brotherhood, whose Freedom and Justice party controls 46% of the new parliament and is in a position to call the terms on which the military hand over power. Before the deaths in the stadium, the Brotherhood, along with the Salafi Islamists, stuck to the military's preferred date in June. Parliament has debated forming a government of national salvation. If the social chaos in Egypt is being choreographed from a bunker in the bowels of SCAF, the ruling military council, it is having the opposite of its intended political effect. It is speeding, rather than slowing, demands for an immediate transfer of power.
The Arab spring should not be so speedily written off. The reaction to the tragedy in the stadium shows that the desire to finish what started a year ago is as strong as ever."

Guardian Video: Clashes continue in Cairo after dark

Protesters and security forces continued fighting in Cairo on Friday evening. Teargas was used against the demonstrators to disperse the crowds. Unarmed, the protesters use the gas canisters thrown at them, and hurl them back at the police. Three people have been killed in the clashes across the country, Friday 3 February 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: Exclusive report on Syria's citizen journalists

"With few international reporters able to access Homs, activists in the central city have become effective citizen journalists.

They say they are using Skype, Facebook, and other internet sources, to document what is happening in their city.

Protecting the activists and the people is the self-styled Free Syrian Army (FSA), renegade soldiers who surround opposition strongholds.

Both activists and FSA know they are fighting alone for their survival.

Jane Ferguson goes inside Homs, one of the main targets of this uprising."

Against Syrian anger, Assad's sect feels fear

A year ago, Ali was enjoying university in Damascus, looking forward to a career in dentistry and paying little heed to politics in a country controlled by a single family for over 40 years.
That all changed, not so much when other Syrians took to the streets to demand President Bashar al-Assad step down, but when a mysterious message popped up on his Facebook page; it told him to get out of town, or die - because he was the wrong religion.
"You Alawite," read a text on the social networking site, widely hailed by pro-democracy activists for enabling the Arab Spring uprisings. "We don't want to see your face in Barzeh."
Now, long dormant religious bigotries have thrust politics on Ali, who was born into the minority Alawite sect and still lives in the Damascus suburb of Barzeh, where most of his neighbors are Sunni Muslims. The 25-year-old student is now a firm supporter of Assad, not from any admiration for the wealthy elite that has run the country with an iron - and often bloody - fist for four decades, but because they too are Alawites.
"They sent me the threat just because I am an Alawite living in Barzeh," Ali said during a series of interviews Reuters conducted in the Syrian capital last week with a variety of Alawite residents who asked that their identities be concealed.
If Assad falls, they fear a bloodbath for fellow Alawites, outnumbered six to one by the Sunnis in a Syrian population of 23 million, which also includes large minorities of Christians and ethic Kurds.
"We will go to the palace to protect him with our lives," said Mahmoud, an Alawite student at another Damascus university, who spoke to Reuters among a group of friends.
"If Bashar loses power, then definitely a non-Alawite will rule," said Fadi, a harassed-looking man in his 30s who runs a clothes store in Damascus. "The new regime will be tough on us Alawites and it will discriminate against us."
Fadi admitted that some of his acquaintances had put their resistance to change into action, driven by fear to attack and beat up some of the demonstrators who have dared to protest against Assad and his Alawite-dominated security forces.
Others are just keeping their heads down, trying to conceal any sign of their affiliations. That can range from accent - many Alawites hail from mountain villages near Lebanon whose Arabic is distinctive - to their names, since some given names are more common among either Alawites or Sunnis.
"These days I am scared to give my name," said Ali, the student from the mainly Sunni suburb of Barzeh. "Sometimes I say it is Omar. Sometimes I use something else."

Al-Jazeera Video: مصادمات دامية في محيط وزارة الداخلية المصرية

Real News Video: More than 70 Killed in Port Said Soccer Stadium

Major protests across the country as police and military blamed for standing idly

More at The Real News

Real News Video: Will Netanyahu Use US Elections to Push Obama into Iran War?

Max Blumenthal: Netanyahu wants GOP to win; has Obama in a corner on Iran

More at The Real News

American Roulette, by Khalil Bendib

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Leading Palestinians boycott UN head Ban Ki-moon in Gaza as rebuffed prisoners’ families greet him with shoes

By Ali Abunimah

"Leading Palestinian figures including prominent human rights advocates Dr. Eyad Sarraj, and Raji Sourani have boycotted a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Gaza today over the latter’s refusal to meet with the families of Palestinian prisoners.

Meanwhile Palestinians greeted Ban with shoes, beating them on his car as he went by.
In an open letter explaining their decision to boycott the scheduled meeting, the civil society figures explained that they had “made intensive efforts to ensure that representatives of families of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails would be part of the delegation that would meet with the Secretary-General.”

But after being rebuffed by Ban, the leaders wrote, “we have regrettably decided to boycott the scheduled meeting with the Secretary-General.”

They added, “We express our strong dissatisfaction towards the Secretary-General’s position, especially as he repeatedly met with the family of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.”......."

Anti-Semitism and Israel's Inherent Contradictions

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"In a recent article, columnist Yaniv Halili described British author Ben White as 'anti-Semitic'. He also denounced Arab Knesset member Hanin Zoabi for writing a forward to White's latest book, Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy.

Those of us who can see through such distorted thinking know that White is a principled writer who has never displayed a shred of racism in his work. Zoabi is very well-known civil rights leader with a long-standing reputation of courage and poise.

How could anti-racist endeavors themselves become the subject of accusation by Halili and others like him?

It goes without saying there should be no room for any racist discourse - Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, or any other - in the Palestine solidarity movement, which aims at achieving long-denied justice and rights for the Palestinian people. A racist discourse is predicated on racial supremacy, which is exactly what Palestinians are resisting in Israel and the occupied territories....."

Equality for Palestinians? Israel won't have it

Elected representatives of the Palestinian community in Israel face growing harassment by the state, fellow MKs and the media

Ben White, Friday 3 February 2012

Left: MK Haneen Zoubi Assaulted in the Knesset

"The presence of a few Palestinian members in the Knesset (MKs) is often touted as a sign of Israel's robust democracy. Yet elected representatives of the Palestinian community inside Israel face growing harassment by the state, by fellow MKs and the media.

On Monday, the trial of MK Said Naffaa, from the Balad party, opened in Nazareth. Naffaa is charged with "travelling illegally to an enemy state, assisting in organising a visit to an enemy state, and being in contact with a foreign agent" – all relating to a trip he made to Syria as part of a Druze delegation in 2007.

Naffaa has denied the charges, insisting that "all his activities and meetings fall within the framework of his duties as an elected public official".....

In 2007, Israel's internal security agency, the Shin Bet, stated it would "thwart the activity of any group or individual seeking to harm the Jewish and democratic character of the state of Israel, even if such activity is sanctioned by the law". In 2008, Shin Bet's chief, Yuval Diskin, told US officials that many of the "Arab-Israeli population" are taking their rights "too far". Last month, MK Tibi had two proposed bills thrown out by the Knesset presidency on the grounds that they undermined "Israel's existence as the state of the Jewish people" (in accordance with the Knesset's rules of procedure).

Thus, as Palestinian citizens work for an end to decades of ethno-religious discrimination, a clear message is being sent through the targeting of their political leadership. The threat that is deemed intolerable by the state is devastatingly simple: the demand for equality."

Two shot dead in Suez as Egypt violence spreads (with Video)

Police fire teargas at crowds near interior ministry in Cairo as anger at football riot deaths continues

Abdel Rahman Hussein in Cairo, Martin Chulov, Peter Walker and agencies, Friday 3 February 2012

"Egyptian police have shot dead two protesters in Suez, while crowds rallied outside Cairo's interior ministry building overnight as anger spread over the deaths of 74 people in a bloody riot at a football stadium.

The response to the scenes after the match on Wednesday night in the Mediterranean city of Port Said has taken on a wider political dimension amid claims police at best did nothing to prevent the violence and, at worst, actively helped instigate it.

In Suez a crowd of around 3,000 people demonstrated outside police headquarters after news spread that one of the victims came from the city.....

While Egypt's military rulers were quick to blame football hooliganism, a group of hardline Al Ahly fans, known as ultras, accused the police of intentionally letting rivals attack them because of their historic antipathy to the security forces and their role at the forefront of anti-Mubarak protests a year ago. Many ultras were among those protesting outside the interior ministry......"

Syria: Stop Torture of Children

Security Forces Detain Juveniles, Occupy Schools

Human Rights Watch
February 3, 2012

"(New York, February 3, 2012) – Syrian army and security officers have detained and tortured children with impunity during the past year, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch has documented at least 12 cases of children detained under inhumane conditions and tortured, as well as children shot while in their homes or on the street. Human Rights Watch has also documented government use of schools as detention centers, military bases or barracks, and sniper posts, as well as the arrest of children from schools.

Human Rights Watch urged the United Nations Security Council to demand that the Syrian government end all human rights violations and cooperate with the commission of inquiry dispatched by the UN Human Rights Council and the Arab League observer mission. The government should stop deploying security forces in schools and hospitals, Human Rights Watch said.

“Children have not been spared the horror of Syria’s crackdown,” said Lois Whitman, children’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. “Syrian security forces have killed, arrested, and tortured children in their homes, their schools, or on the streets. In many cases, security forces have targeted children just as they have targeted adults.”

Human Rights Watch has documented widespread government violence against peaceful demonstrators, systematic killings, beatings, torture using electroshock devices, and detention of people seeking medical care......"

Mubarak's Remnants (SCAF) and the Football Riots, by Emad Hajjaj

The end for Egypt’s military junta

By Joseph Mayton

Bikya Masr

"CAIRO: Don’t mess with football fans. Ever. Egypt’s military junta is learning this right now. As thousands took to the streets in downtown Cairo to demand justice for the 75 people killed on Wednesday night in Port Said following a football match between Egyptian giants al-Ahly and al-Masry, police unleashed the latest tear gas barrage on protesters. It won’t stop their determination.

Throughout the evening, as we stood and watched as the events unfolding reminded us of the clashes that took place in November, on almost the exact street, it became clear that this was not a simple protest....

Public opinion is important in Egypt, where for months the average citizen remained supporting the military. They refused to believe the country’s “honorable” armed forces would kill its own citizens. Now, slowly but surely, it is happening and finally Egyptian protesters will be able to secure the change they desired when they took to the streets in January last year.
The process won’t be easy and we will most likely have eyes burned from tear gas, bodies hit with rubber bullets, but in this latest stand for the revolution, Egypt’s activists and football fans have teamed together, united, to fight back against a year of lies, injustice and killing.

Change is coming. The military is on its way out. Thursday, February 2, 2012 should be seen as the true Revolution 2.0."

Two dead, hundreds injured in Egypt protests

Joseph Mayton 3 February 2012
Bikya Masr

"CAIRO: At least two people were shot dead in Suez late Thursday, early Friday morning, as Egyptians continue to protest against the military junta in cities across the country.

In downtown Cairo, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to demand justice for the violence on Wednesday night at a football match that left 75 people dead. According to eyewitnesses, security officials allowed the violence to happen, and possibly spurred it on.

The result of that violence brought thousands to the streets, calling for the end of military rule over Egypt.

“Leave, leave,” and “down with the SCAF” were among the popular chants, in reference to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

In Cairo, at least 700 people have been injured by Friday morning as police continued to bombard protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Medical personnel told that the number “could become even greater, but thank God, no deaths.”

Near continuous tear gas continues to rain down upon protesters, who are being pulled from the frontlines by young men on motorcycles and delivered to makeshift field hospitals set up on side streets nearby.

Despite the tear gas, spirits remain high among the protesters, led by the fans of Egyptian football club al-Ahly, who were the victims of Wednesday’s violence.

Earlier in the evening, the fans and protesters marched to central Cairo, chanting against the military junta and calling for the “execution of the Field Marshal,” in reference to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) chief Hussein Tantawi......"

Syria: The revenge of Hama, 30 years on

The death toll in 1982 will not matter until the country is freed from the grip of a sectarian dynasty.

By Larbi Sadiki

"Oxford, United Kingdom - On February 2, 1982, a state declared war on its own citizens. It did what it did and thought it won. On February 2, 2012, Hama is exacting its revenge on the Assads, denuding the Syrian regime of all pretences of "state civility".

Partly, the tumult engulfing Syria today had to happen sooner or later. Why? Because of what happened in Hama 30 years ago.....

The burial of a dead body politic

Hama today is burying the Assads alive. The figures of how many were killed in 1982 no longer matter until Syria is freed from the grip of a sectarian dynasty run still by two brothers, two Assads. Maybe what is needed right now is a rift between Maher and Bashar, a rift such as that between Hafez and Rifaat.

Regardless, Hama stood steadfast and for that it paid a price in 1980, 1981 and then through genocide in 1982. It will be worth it one day. The burial of the Assad dynasty will have been partly thanks to the sacrifices of a city whose waterwheels or norias outlived Byzantine, Mamluke, Ayyubid and French colonists. The current of history, like that of the Orontes, knows when to throw out the foam or scum of the earth....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Is Egypt's football tragedy a conspiracy?

"Egypt is in shock after yet another act of violence on Thursday, this time deaths in a football stadium. But was this a spontaneous act of football hooliganism, or an organised criminal conspiracy? Guests: Wael Abbas and Sameh Al-Anani."

Deaths in Egypt protests over football riot

Two killed in Suez and hundreds wounded in Cairo during rallies demanding retribution for deaths in football violence.


"At least two people have been shot and killed in the Egyptian city of Suez, as police used live rounds to hold back crowds during a protest over security forces' failure to prevent a deadly football riot.

Witnesses said fighting broke out at a local police station in the northeastern city in the early hours of Friday, hours after the two male protesters were killed....

Earlier, hundreds of people were injured in the capital, Cairo, after police fired tear gas at protesters who accused the ruling military council of mismanaging the country.

The protesters had taken to the streets in the thousands on Thursday to demand retribution for the deaths of 72 people killed a day earlier during post-football violence in the city of Port Said - violence that most blamed on police inaction.

According to the state health ministry, at least 668 people were wounded in the Cairo clashes.

Al Jazeera’s Sue Turton, reporting from Cairo, said protesters pushed their way towards the barricaded interior ministry building near Tahrir Square, pulling away barbed wire barriers....."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you see that the football riots in Port Said (Egypt) were planned ahead of time?

With about 1,400 responding, 84% said yes.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Egypt football violence: hooliganism on the surface, state thuggery underneath

The deadly battle of Port Said may be another attempt to make a return to a police state the most attractive option for Egypt

Osama Diab, Thursday 2 February 2012

"...But the Ultras football fans, known for their anti-establishment behaviour, have taken part in many of the clashes with police in and around Tahrir Square during the last year. Young and excited, they always formed the front line and acted as protectors against the onslaught of security forces. They have also brought the revolution to football stadiums and turned its stands into a political battlefield.

So it is also very likely that the police didn't think of the Ultras as worthy of their protection or interference. In the eyes of the police, they are the enemy, and a bunch or worthless teenage hooligans......

The latest deaths are also seen as yet another attempt to turn people against the revolution: to make them believe that Egyptians are not ready for democracy, as former vice-president Omar Suleiman stated a few days before Hosni Mubarak stepped down. The president, too, had claimed that the choice was between himself and chaos. But we must realise that democracy is different from lawlessness. No society can function in a complete absence of law and order.
There is clearly more to the Port Said tragedy than everyday football hooliganism. It may pose the biggest threat so far to military rule in Egypt, or it may help the military to become even more entrenched. It could go either way, depending on how the struggle for democracy unfolds in the coming days and weeks."

Al-Jazeera Video: Homs residents in 'war zone'

"After nearly ten months of escalating tensions between Syrians protesting Bashar al-Assad's government and the forces of the Syrian president himself, some in Syria have begun to refer to their country as a 'war zone'.

In the western city of Homs, locals say they face starvation - due to dwindling supplies - and daily attacks by snipers and mortar fire of the forces still loyal to the president.

Al Jazeera's Jane Ferguson reports exclusively from Homs."

Al-Jazeera Video: Protests over deadly Egyptian football riot

Al-Jazeera Video: Reporter describes Homs violence

"Jane Ferguson, a reporter who recently spent a few days in the Syrian city of Homs, tells Al Jazeera about the situation in the opposition stronghold Bab Amr.

She says the area has experienced "incredibly heavy shelling" in the last 10 days and is surrounded by government troops. Snipers are firing on both anti-government fighters and civilians, she says."

Al-Jazeera Video: Journalist Robert Fisk remembers 'Hama massacre of 1982'

"Robert Fisk was one of the few journalists who managed to enter Hama during the 1982 military assault on the city. At least 10,000 people were killed as the army crushed an armed rebellion led by the Muslim Brotherhood."

Al-Jazeera Video: Egypt's parliament discusses football "massacre"

Watch The Opportunist MBs in "Action"

US tells Israelis it won't join their war

By Gareth Porter
Asia Times

"In an unexpectedly low-key visit, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey has explicitly warned Israel's leadership that the US won't defend Israel if it unilaterally strikes Iran. However, Israel knows it can count on the US right-wing to pressurize Washington into falling in line over an attack, particularly in an election year...."

Egypt's football violence poses uncomfortable political questions

Because many of the victims were involved in the uprising, it is hard to avoid impression that the chaos was engineered

Martin Chulov, Thursday 2 February 2012

"When the anti-Mubarak uprising first burst to life a year ago, young football fans known as ultras were at the vanguard.

They have remained there ever since, taking the fight to riot police in Tahrir Square and relishing their role as an irritant to the country's military junta, who they believe are clawing back the revolution's gains.

On Wednesday night, the ultras were playing away in Port Said; far from the alleys and boulevards that spill into the northern end of Tahrir. Instead they were in the home stadium of an arch rival, with whom they had clashed before. Facing a hostile home crowd and ambivalent security, against whom they had held a long and profound grudge, they were left exposed.

The surprisingly small numbers of riot police on standby did nothing to stop the mayhem that erupted at full time.

Somehow the gates to the playing field were open as the triumphant home crowd stormed the pitch to attack the losing Cairo-based al-Ahly side. The cordon of police parted and within several hours the death toll stood at 74.

Key elements of Wednesday night's carnage seem to support claims that this wasn't just random football violence that got out of hand.

The first is the large numbers of weapons carried by both sides, but especially visible in the hands of al-Masri supporters as they swarmed into the ground through the open gates. In quieter times, queues to high-stakes football fixtures can be four hours long, mainly because of rigorous security searches.

Those trying to flee the seething fans and their weapons instead found exit gates closed. The ensuing Hillsborough-like situation led to hundreds of people being crushed, as the outnumbered police stood by.

It is difficult to avoid the impression that the chaos had been at least partly engineered to teach a painful lesson to the ultras - and by proxy the Egyptian liberals whose views on the military junta they broadly represent.

The violence also plays to the military's narrative of an ongoing atmosphere of insecurity across Egypt justifying an extension of some emergency law provisions......."

Another War on the Cheap

By Philip Giraldi

"There has been altogether too much stuff in the media lately about how Iran is not really a threat to anyone and how even some prominent Israelis don’t really believe that they have to go to war (or have Washington go to war on their behalf). It was perhaps inevitable that there would be some pushback to again stoke the fires and make the case that Iran is indeed evil incarnate and on the verge of obtaining an apocalyptic weapon.

Not surprisingly, some of the latest pushback comes from the redoubtable Ethan Bronner of The New York Times in his article “Israel Senses Bluffing in Iran’s Threats of Retaliation,” which appeared on the paper’s front page on Jan. 26. Bronner, whose son has served in the Israeli Defense Forces, is the Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief and covers much of the Middle East. He lives in Israel, and his objectivity has often been questioned, but the self-proclaimed newspaper of record has refused to consider replacing him with someone less openly tied to Israel and its interests.

As a former intelligence officer, I am acutely aware of how easy it is to create and spread disinformation.....

Someone should remind Bronner that while he is promoting an Israeli viewpoint he is writing for an American newspaper and audience and should address the serious question of what Washington’s options might be if Netanyahu does take action. Israeli self-reliance is a wonderful thing, if only it were true. The United States has been tied hand and foot to Israeli policies and would be drawn inexorably into anything that Tel Aviv starts. The confident assertion that Iran would be unable to retaliate effectively might prove as reliable as the claims made in 2002 that there would be a “cakewalk” in Iraq."

Egypt’s military, security create football violence, leave country on edge

Joseph Mayton
2 February 2012
Bikya Masr

Video courtesy of Hossam El-Hamalawy

Protesters inside Misr Station in Ramses, awaiting the injured Ultras members coming back from Port Said, chanting: “The people demand the execution of the Field Marshal (Tantawi).”

".....The most recent violence, which left at least 74 dead in Port Said, is anything but football related. It was a coordinated event led by the security forces to draw Egyptians to the streets, to show violence to the world, and create a scenario for which the military junta can remain in place.

It is easy to argue social ills, delayed marriage, poor economy, etc. as the root causes of the violence in the Port Said stadium, but after watching numerous videos of the incident, it appears to have been calculated, and in my opinion, the so-called al-Masry fans who attacked the Ahly players and fans following their victory, are most likely not supporters of the team; they are “thugs” given weapons to attack and cause unrest.

Proof that this was not about football is in the video shown on Ahly TV as the clashes began. Security forces, clad with shields and batons, hiding in a tunnel, watching and remaining immobile. They didn’t move to intervene. There were no attempts to stop the violence before it began, leaving only one thought: they wanted it to happen, and most likely instigated the violence by opening the gates to the pitch to allow people to pour onto the field en masse. Somehow the attackers were wielding a similar white stick, used to smash heads in.

One eyewitness said on Ahly TV that it was security that closed the stadium, barring Ahly fans from leaving, which led to more death and violence.

The military junta and its security apparatus must be blamed for the violence. It was on their watch. They did nothing to stop the clashes and, according to witnesses, encouraged the “supporters” of al-Masry to take to the field......

The Egyptian military will certainly pay a high price for what happened on Wednesday. The Ultras – fans of Ahly – are among the most politicized and active in the country. They have taken to the frontlines in street battles in the country, most notably during the November violence on Mohamed Mahmoud street, fighting back police attacks in earnest. Their presence at protests is galvanizing.

By early Thursday morning, the fans had taken up positions in Tahrir Square, closing it off, preparing for protests. They will not be silenced. The deaths of their fellow fans could be the unlikely “straw” that will see a turning point in Egypt’s yearlong revolution.

Today also marks the anniversary of the Camel Battle, where former regime affiliates rode into Tahrir on camels and horses, using swords and knives to cut down anti-Mubarak protesters. February 2, 2012 could very well be the next movement for change in Egypt.

Football is a powerful force in Egypt. There are millions of Ahly fans across this country, and to watch as their friends and families are being killed will not see silence. We will witness what could be the largest demonstrations in the country against the military. The question now will be, what happens next.

The military junta should be afraid. They have unleashed arguably the one force that can bring them down: the Ultras.

It wasn’t about football last night, it was about the security fomenting and creating violence. Stirring unrest as a means to an end. Egyptians, it appears, are unwilling to sit idly by today and allow the military and their police to remain in power."

Egypt: Bend it like Mubarak

Sadiki sees how football has been reduced into a political game and the game of football into politics of populism.

By Larbi Sadiki

".....First, there was Khartoum. Algerians and Egyptians were mobilised in senseless pride culminating in violence. It suited the politicians of two equally de-legitmised polities. In mid-November 2009, embattled Mubarak and Bouteflika used the machinery of government to whip up public hysteria over a decisive match to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The real opiate of the masses remains football in the impoverished Arab world. Without football, the multitude are feared by Arab dictators to look for alternative preoccupation perhaps, in politics. That would be a hazardous occupation for the rulers and the ruled.

At the time, Gamal was banking on a win. All was ready for the party of the century. It was to be an epic, may be Pharaoh-ic. The celebrations were to double up as a launch of Gamal's presidential campaign. Even elder brother Alaa, who shunned politics in preference for big business, all of a sudden turned political. He even displayed eloquence, which Gamal lacked. Actors, singers, preachers, journalists and all kinds of state clients were recruited to defend the national pride injured by the violence of the Algerian hooligans.

The only pride that was injured was that of Gamal and his father. They reduced football into a political game and the game of football into politics of populism before, during and after Khartoum. Those were the days when fallout from the protests of the 2008 Mahalla Al-Kubra in the Nile Delta were not entirely forgotten, bread shortage was rife and the smell of dissent was in the air, especially after the sham presidential elections of 2008.

The Algerian regime and the corrupt "patrona" (mostly, top brass engaging in business activity) were equally troubled by the legacy they could not erase from the civil war that left 150,000 people dead. All in the name of the supposedly anti-Islamist forces who won the first round of the 1991 parliamentary elections.

The regime that could not provide jobs, ensure proper "truth and reconciliation", and diversify its rentier economy or benefit from oil rent magically could find money to airlift thousands of fans to Khartoum.......

There is nothing imaginative in pointing the finger at SCAF as benefiting from the chaos: it instigates it to hang on to power. Nothing is straightforward. However, SCAF is not to be blameless in the Port Said violence. Standing as an incompetent "protector" or "caretaker" of the revolution hurts more than helps the embattled SCAF. The revolution has confirmed one thing: the army is not fit to govern - neither in Egypt nor in Syria or Yemen.

Bending the rules of the political game is vital when asserting people's sovereignty. All nations with great revolutions had to undergo this. But to bend all politics as if it were a ball - before reaching the stage of defining new rules for the political game - should not jeopardise the life of the baby (revolution) in the process of seeking to throw out the bathing water."

Breaking the silence over Hama atrocities

Witnesses of the bloody events in the Syrian city in 1982 speak as protests force open the veil of fear and secrecy.

Basma Atassi


"Khaled al-Khani was just seven when he lost his father in the city of Hama during what residents say was the worst massacre in Syria's modern history.

Today, as the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad grips the country, men like Khaled are finally starting to discuss the grisly events of 1982, as protests slowly force open the veil of fear and secrecy which surrounded the killings.

"The fact that Syrians will commemorate the killings of their loved ones for the first time in 30 years evokes in me strange feelings. It is not a celebration, but it cannot be mourned like a funeral," Khani, who is now a celebrated Syrian artist, told Al Jazeera.

Activists are planning countrywide demonstrations to commemorate the atrocities. Khani, who now resides in France, will be speaking at a commemoration event in Paris. Similar events planned by Syrian expatriates are set to take place in Washington DC, London, Riyadh, and other cities.

It was February 2, 1982, when troops, ordered by the late President Hafez al-Assad, Bashar’s father, seized the city, and bombed its centre with fighter jets, according to an Amnesty International report, enabling tanks to roll through Hama’s narrow streets, crushing an armed rebellion by an estimated 200 to 500 fighters from the Muslim Brotherhood’s military wing.

The subsequent 27-day military campaign left somewhere between 10,000 to 40,000 people killed and almost two thirds of the city destroyed, according to human rights organisations and foreign journalists who were in Syria but were not allowed to enter the city.

Almost every family in Hama, which at the time had about 250,000 inhabitants, lost a member....."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Assange case means we are all suspects now

By John Pilger
2 February 2012

"This week's Supreme Court hearing in the Julian Assange case has profound meaning for the preservation of basic freedoms in western democracies. This is Assange's final appeal against his extradition to Sweden to face allegations of sexual misconduct that were originally dismissed by the chief prosecutor in Stockholm and constitute no crime in Britain.

The consequences, if he loses, lie not in Sweden but in the shadows cast by America's descent into totalitarianism. In Sweden, he is at risk of being "temporarily surrendered" to the US where his life has been threatened and he is accused of "aiding the enemy" with Bradley Manning, the young soldier accused of leaking evidence of US war crimes to WikiLeaks.

The connections between Manning and Assange have been concocted by a secret grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, which allowed no defence counsel or witnesses, and by a system of plea-bargaining that ensures a 90 per cent conviction. It is reminiscent of a Soviet show trial.

The determination of the Obama administration to crush Assange and the unfettered journalism represented by WikiLeaks is revealed in secret Australian government documents released under freedom of information which describe the US pursuit of WikiLeaks as "an unprecedented investigation". It is unprecedented because it subverts the First Amendment of the US constitution that explicitly protects truth-tellers. In 2008 Barack Obama said, "Government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal." Obama has since prosecuted twice as many whistleblowers as all previous US presidents..... "

Health Ministry: At least 73 killed in clashes after Egypt soccer match

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"At least 73 people were killed Wednesday in violence following a soccer match in Port Said, when fans flooded the field seconds after a match against a rival team was over, the Health Ministry said. Without giving specific figures, Deputy Health Minister Hesham Shiha said in a statement that hundreds were injured.

A security official and a medic said fans of the home team, Masry, swarmed the field after a rare 3-1 win against Ahly, Egypt's top team. They threw stones, fireworks, and bottles at Ahly fans and injured some players.

The trouble started in the second half of the match when a small group of Ahly fans raised a banner insulting their rivals. But many of those present pointed out the conspicuous and near complete absence of security forces and their abandonment of regular protocol in securing football matches as the main culprit behind so many people dying in less than one hour.

Some political actors and commentators are drawing connections between the soccer-related violence and attempts in Parliament to put an end to the State of Emergency, which Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi recently said would only be applied to acts of “thuggery.”

What happened cannot be a coincidence. This massacre and three armed robberies happened only one day after the Interior Minister came to Parliament trying to convince us of the importance of maintaining the State of Emergency,” Ziad El-Elaimy, an MP with the Social Democratic Party, said in a post-match television interview.

Eye witnesses confirm that security was largely absent when the Masry fans stormed the field. They also claim that security forces allowed Masry fans to enter the visiting team’s stands....."

دراسة: إسرائيل تخشى سقوط الأسد

توقعت أربعة سيناريوهات لثورة سوريا

"قالت دراسة سياسية حديثة إن هناك حالة من التباين في مواقف النخبة السياسية في إسرائيل بشأن ما يجري في سوريا، إلا أن الجميع متفقون في خشيتهم من سقوط نظام الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد لما يعنيه ذلك من انعكاسات سلبية محتملة على أمن إسرائيل.

وأوضحت الدراسة الصادرة عن المركز العربي للأبحاث ودراسة السياسات، بعنوان
"الموقف الإسرائيلي من الأحداث في سوريا" أن هناك شبه إجماع في إسرائيل على نقاطٍ محوريّة تخصّ المصلحة الإسرائيليّة في الأحداث السوريّة، أهمها أن النّظام الحالي في سوريا "مريح جدًّا لإسرائيل في كلّ ما يتعلّق بالجولان"، وهناك خشية من أن يؤدّي انهياره إلى انهيار الهدوء على جبهة الجولان.

وأضافت الدراسة أن هناك من يرى في إسرائيل أن أيّ نظام قادم في سوريا سيتّخذ موقفًا معاديًّا لإسرائيل، لأنّه سيكون في حاجةٍ إلى شرعيّة داخليّة، في حين أنّ النظام الحاليّ - إذا بقي- فهو سيكون في حاجة إلى شرعيّة خارجيّة، وسيضطرّ إلى تليين موقفه تجاه إسرائيل
سيناريوهات الثورة
وبحسب الدراسة فإن محلّلين وقيادات إسرائيلية عكفت على رسم سيناريوهات مختلفة لما يحدث في سوريا، من منظور تأثيرها في إسرائيل وفي أمنها، حيث لخّص الجنرال احتياط غيورا آيلاند، الباحث في معهد أبحاث الأمن القوميّ والرئيس السّابق لمجلس الأمن القوميّ الإسرائيليّ، أربعة سيناريوهات ممكنة، وشاركه الكثير من الباحثين الإسرائيليّين في أنّها هي البدائل المتوقّعة والممكنة.

يتحدث السيناريو الأول عن بقاء النظام في سوريا سنوات عديدة، وقد أكّد الجنرال آيلاند في استعراضه أن هذا السّيناريو أمر مرغوب فيه إلى حد كبير في إسرائيل لأنّها تعرف النّظام وتعرف توجّهاته، فضلا عن أن الأسد في حال بقائه سينشغل بترتيب البيت الداخليّ وتقوية شرعيّته الدوليّة.

ويتوقع السيناريو الثاني سقوط النظام في سوريا وانتشار حالة من الفوضى، وسنوات طويلة من الصّراعات وعدم الاستقرار، ويثير هذا السيناريو مخاوف إسرائيلية من استغلال إيران هذه الفوضى للعمل عبر الحدود العراقيّة السوريّة ومن داخل سوريا أيضًا.

أما السيناريو الأسوأ بالنسبة لإسرائيل فهو سقوط نظام الأسد وصعود نظام سني راديكالي إلى الحكم، لأن نظاما من هذا النّوع قد يعتمد التّصعيد وقد يقوم بمواجهة عسكريّة لاسترداد الجولان أو يطلق العنان لنشاطات عسكريّة عبر الحدود، الأمر الذي سيضع إسرائيل أمام مواجهةٍ شاملة.

آخر هذه السيناريوهات وفق الرؤية الإسرائيلية هو التحوّل إلى نظام إصلاحيّ معتدل له توجّهات غربيّة، وهو ما يعني من وجهة النظر الإسرائيلية ضربة للحلف السوري مع إيران، وهو ضربة قاسية كذلك لحزب الله، غير أنه لا يعني استعدادًا للسّلام مع إسرائيل.

Al-Jazeera Video: الاتجاه المعاكس -- مصير النظام السوري

تقديم : فيصل القاسم
تاريخ البث -- 2012-1-31
جوزيف بوفاضل
محي الدين اللاذقاني

Watch a near fist fight @ 12:00 minutes

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