Saturday, May 19, 2012

Goodbye to recent delusions - the age of nationalism is back with a vengeance

World View: Intervention was meant to produce democracy in the Middle East and stability in Europe. Now we know it was a con

By Patrick Cockburn

"The crises in Europe and the Middle East are very different but they are beginning to cross-infect each other, creating a general mood of uncertainty and fear. In the Middle East, the Arab Spring was at first seen as wholly positive, as dictatorships and police states tumbled or came under democratic assault from Tunis to Bahrain. A bright dawn was breaking across the region.

A year later, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain and Libya are still beset by power struggles, largely electoral in Egypt but increasingly militarised in Syria. Their outcome is unclear. What is evident is that these countries are in for an extended period when governments and states will be weak, disunited and vulnerable to outside interference.

Such foreign intervention, going by what happened in Afghanistan and Iraq, is much the same as old-style imperialist takeovers. The interventionists consult their own interests first and last, largely ignoring the wishes of Iraqis or Afghans. Why, for instance, is the increasingly dictatorial Nouri al-Maliki prime minister of Iraq? Mainly, as one Iraqi politician put it to me, because "the Great Satan [the US] and the Axis of Evil [Iran] decided that he was the Iraqi leader they could both live with"......

What Greeks, Iraqis and Afghans have all learned is that the price of foreign powers determining their future is very high. It always amazed me in Baghdad and Kabul that the Americans and British imagined that the Iraqis and Afghans did not notice or care that the US and its allies, and not local puppets, were mismanaging their affairs. Likewise, in Athens over the past six months, I found it astonishing that Germany and its allies could not see that imposing austerity on the Greeks without popular consent would be a political death warrant for the Greek political parties supporting the measures......."

Al-Jazeera Video: Car bomb hits Syrian city of Deir az-Zor

Al-Jazeera Video: Egypt's revolution fails to benefit slum dwellers

"Across Egypt there are millions of people living in slums.

Last year's revolution focused on Egyptians demanding their rights in Tahrir Square - but have the country's slum-dwellers gained anything from the uprising?

With just a few days to go before the Presidential election, Al Jazeera's Jamal Elshayyal went to find out."

Al-Jazeera Video: معاناة سكان مخيم نهر البارد

"رغم مرور خمس سنوات على انتهاء القتال في مخيم نهر البارد للاجئين الفلسطينيين في لبنان، لا يزال جزء كبير من سكان المخيم يعانون من ظروف معيشية صعبة، في حين هجر البعض الآخر إلى مخيمات أخرى. كل ذلك بانتظار عملية إعادة إعمار تسير ببطء شديد نتيجة عقبات عدة يشكل التمويل جزءا منها.

The Politics of Language and the Language of Political Regression

By James Petras

"Capitalism and its defenders maintain dominance through the ‘material resources’ at their command, especially the state apparatus, and their productive, financial and commercial enterprises, as well as through the manipulation of popular consciousness via ideologues, journalists, academics and publicists who fabricate the arguments and the language to frame the issues of the day.....


Language, concepts and euphemisms are important weapons in the class struggle ‘from above’ designed by capitalist journalists and economists to maximize the wealth and power of capital. To the degree that progressive and leftist critics adopt these euphemisms and their frame of reference, their own critiques and the alternatives they propose are limited by the rhetoric of capital. Putting ‘quotation marks’ around the euphemisms may be a mark of disapproval but this does nothing to advance a different analytical framework necessary for successful class struggle ‘from below’. Equally important, it side-steps the need for a fundamental break with the capitalist system including its corrupted language and deceptive concepts. Capitalists have overturned the most fundamental gains of the working class and we are falling back toward the absolute rule of capital. This must raise anew the issue of a socialist transformation of the state, economy and class structure. An integral part of that process must be the complete rejection of the euphemisms used by capitalist ideologues and their systematic replacement by terms and concepts that truly reflect the harsh reality, that clearly identify the perpetrators of this decline and that define the social agencies for political transformation. "

Never forget that Bradley Manning, not gay marriage, is the issue

By John Pilger

16 May 2012

"In the week Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, he ordered bombing attacks on Yemen, killing a reported 63 people, 28 of them children. When Obama recently announced he supported same-sex marriage, American planes had not long blown 14 Afghan civilians to bits. In both cases, the mass murder was barely news. What mattered were the cynical vacuities of a political celebrity, the product of a zeitgeist driven by the forces of consumerism and the media with the aim of diverting the struggle for social and economic justice.

The award of the Nobel Prize to the first black president because he "offered hope" was both absurd and an authentic expression of the lifestyle liberalism that controls much of political debate in the west. Same-sex marriage is one such distraction. No "issue" diverts attention as successfully as this: not the free vote in Parliament on lowering the age of gay consent promoted by the noted libertarian and war criminal Tony Blair: not the cracks in "glass ceilings" that contribute nothing to women's liberation and merely amplify the demands of bourgeois privilege.

Legal obstacles should not prevent people marrying each other, regardless of gender. But this is a civil and private matter; bourgeois acceptability is not yet a human right. The rights historically associated with marriage are those of property: capitalism itself. Elevating the "right" of marriage above the right to life and real justice is as profane as seeking allies among those who deny life and justice to so many, from Afghanistan to Palestine......"

Call Zukerberg, by Schrank

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Syrian forces open fire on protesters in Aleppo

Zeina Karam Beirut
Saturday 19 May 2012

The Independent

"Syrian security forces fired tear gas and live ammunition to disperse thousands of people rallying yesterday in Aleppo, in what activists said was the largest protest yet in a city that has largely remained loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

The protest pointed to rising anti-regime sentiment in Syria's largest city, particularly after a raid on dormitories at the main university killed four students earlier this month.

On Thursday, about 15,000 students demonstrated outside the gates of Aleppo University in the presence of UN observers, before security forces broke up the protest. Even bigger numbers took to the streets yesterday. Mohammad Saeed, an Aleppo-based activist, said it was the largest demonstration there since the start of the uprising. He said more than 10,000 people protested in the Salaheddine and al-Shaar districts alone.

The head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdul-Rahman, said the protest showed "it's a real uprising happening in Aleppo these days"....."

Zuckerberg: I Need Your Help: Buy Facebook Shares and Make Me Multi-Billionaire!

Why Bashar al-Assad stresses al-Qaida narrative

Syria has seen influx of foreign fighters, but regime has been spinning terror line since last March to help justify state violence

Ian Black, Middle East editor, Friday 18 May 2012

"Bashar al-Assad claimed from the start of the Syrian uprising last March that his enemies were "armed terrorist gangs" rather than largely peaceful demonstrators calling for reform and then for the overthrow of his regime.

In the war of the "narratives" Damascus fashioned a version that emphasised opposition violence even as government troops and thugs were shooting without restraint at mostly unarmed protestors.

Assad's enemies did gradually take up arms, but the majority were defectors or those who joined the Free Syrian Army as a self-defence force. Atrocities like the brutal killings of soldiers in Jisr al-Shughour were an exception....

Assad needs terrorist enemies allegedly supported by foreign powers like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel and Turkey because they suit the sense of legitimacy and secular Arab nationalism he wishes to project – and help justify state repression.

"This fits neatly with the regime's attempt to ensure the loyalty of urban Sunnis and minorities fearful of Islamist rule by portraying all opposition as radical, violent and foreign-inspired," commented Emile Hokayem of the International Institute for Strategic Studies......

Still, the strong suspicion is that Assad is deliberately exaggerating the point for political and propaganda purposes. "The Syrians have tried to make a big thing recently about the influx of foreign fighters," said one western diplomat. "But the majority of serious security problems are still homegrown.""

Egypt: Widespread Military Torture of Protesters Arrested in May

Impunity Enables Further Abuse

"(Beirut) – Military soldiers beat and tortured protesters they arrested at a demonstration near the Defense Ministry on May 4, 2012, Human Rights Watch said today, after interviews with numerous victims and lawyers. The military also failed to protect the protesters from attacks by armed groups in the early morning hours of May 2, at the same demonstration, which began on April 27 in Cairo’s Abbasiyya neighborhood.

On May 4, after the protest turned violent, military officers arrested at least 350 protesters, including 10 children and 16 women. They were brought before military prosecutors, who ordered their detention pending trials before military courts. At least 256 remain in detention. Human Rights Watch interviewed many of those who had been released, who gave consistent accounts of torture and beatings during arrest and in detention.

“The brutal beating of both men and women protesters shows that military officers have no sense of limits on what they can do,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The official law enforcement authorities may arrest people where there is evidence of wrongdoing, but it never has the right to beat and torture them.”....."

Ice cream in Gaza

Amr Ezzat
Al-Masry Al-Youm

".....I just came back from Gaza. I was there as part of the Palestine Festival of Literature (PalFest) touring Palestinian cities. This time, the festival was held in Gaza to express solidarity with its residents against the blockade imposed on them. The Hamas government’s internal security forces told me that any deviation from the preset schedule for the visit would have to be reported to them, even if it were a visit to the supermarket.

I learned from Gazan bloggers that their freedom of expression and movements are closely watched by the Hamas government. Some of them were arrested for content they posted on Facebook, while others were beaten and detained for taking part in marches that were staged without obtaining permission from Hamas, whether the purpose was to end divisions between Fatah and Hamas or to protest deteriorating living conditions.

I heard stories from independent bloggers and leaders from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine about how they were beaten with batons for staging protests in solidarity with the Egyptian and Syrian revolutions and for demonstrating against the local mismanagement of the power outage crisis, for example. Others told me about the intellectual intimidation by the Hamas government in Gaza and the Fatah government in the West Bank, which led to the confiscation of opposition papers.

Other youth were wary of criticizing practices by the Hamas government that undermine their freedom. They said they did not want to deepen the Palestinian rift, emphasizing that they support Hamas’ resistance against Israel as opposed to Fatah’s more lenient position on Israeli occupation.

I told them that if the objective of resistance was to gain freedom, then it was by no means logical to give up this same right for the sake of resistance.

That was a summary of the speech I delivered at the closing ceremony of the PalFest held at Dar al-Basha next to the Omari Mosque in Gaza. Internal security officers were brazenly taking shots of participants, and when a Palestinian friend took a photo of the security guy taking pictures, he snatched the camera from her hand amid our anger and protest.

The light had gone out during the ceremony, and at first I thought the blackout was due to the electricity crisis in Gaza, only to be told by one of the organizers that the security cut it off on purpose and ordered the owner of the place to immediately end the forum.

Security men occupied the place and said we had no permission to hold the forum, even though representatives from the Interior and Culture ministries received us at the Rafah crossing and welcomed us as part of the event. I remember quite well how the Interior Ministry representative said we could move freely and pay visits to whatever places we wanted, including prisons, to see firsthand the advanced status of human rights.

I asked the security guy who seemed to be leading the brigade that stopped the event. “So what came up? This is our closing ceremony and we have been talking for four days at general forums.” He answered, “This is because of your speech, which slandered us and claimed we suppress freedoms.”

But discovering how wrong he was, smiling, he quickly added, “We came to confirm you were right!”

Putting on a more serious tone, he said that he is following our pages on the internet and our criticism of the internal security, and advised us to respect the country hosting us and to refrain from criticizing in an unacceptable way....."

Al-Jazeera Video: 'Car bomb blast' near Syrian military complex

The internal Nakba

Internal divisions, such as the Fatah-Hamas split, have added to the Palestine's recent tragedy.

Larbi Sadiki

".....Abbas, Erekat, Mashaal, Haniyeh and Zahhar must know that restoring Palestine as a cause celebre involves engaging in the toughest struggle for the minds and souls not only of local constituencies, Palestinian and Arab, but also global, including US and Israeli. This they cannot do when they are in such fundamental disagreement with one another. The struggle for Palestine seems to have ceased, ceding to a battle for Fatah to prevail over Hamas, and Mashaal or Haniyeh over Abbas. This is not the image of committed, scrupulous and serious freedom fighters the world respects or endorses......"

Friday, May 18, 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: Bahrain king's invitation to Windsor Castle stirs controversy

Syria: Deported Palestinian journalist speaks out about torture in custody

Amnesty International
17 May 2012


(Scroll Down for More New Posts)

"A prominent journalist has told Amnesty International how Syrian government forces tortured and detained him in deplorable conditions before deporting him to Jordan on Monday.

Salameh Kaileh, a 57-year-old Jordanian national of Palestinian descent, has lived and worked in the Syrian capital Damascus since 1981.

On 24 April, plain clothes officials from Syria’s Air Force Intelligence arrested him during a raid on his flat in Barzah, a Damascus suburb. Amnesty International considered him to be a prisoner of conscience, held solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression.

“The main reason for my arrest, from what I understood, is a conversation I had on Facebook with a friend outside Syria about my position on the revolution and my opinion about the Muslim Brotherhood and so on,” Kaileh told Amnesty International.

Following his arrest, Kaileh was held at a Syrian Air Force Intelligence branch in Damascus, where he was insulted and beaten for days. Officers used the falaqa torture method on him, whipping the soles of his feet with a thin bamboo stick.

One unidentified official targeted the journalist’s background by shouting insults against Palestinians......

Unfortunately, the hospital was much worse than what I was subjected to in prison. It was not a hospital, but a slaughterhouse,” Kaileh said......

“Salameh Kaileh’s dreadful ordeal shows the extent to which the Syrian authorities will go to attempt to crush dissenting voices,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Programme Director.

“His horrendous account mirrors the reports we’ve received about thousands of detainees being tortured and ill-treated in detention – often in extremely poor prison conditions – amid the Syrian government’s crackdown over the past 15 months.

“This is not the first time that we have documented the involvement of doctors in human rights violations. They should be doing their best to restore people to health rather than allowing patients to be held in appalling conditions and subjected to torture in hospitals.”......"

Occupy G8: Peoples’ Summit Confronts World Leaders at Camp David, Urging Action on Poverty, Hunger

Democracy Now!

"World leaders are convening at the heavily guarded Camp David in Maryland today for the G8 Summit. Leading nonprofits such as Save the Children and Oxfam are urging G8 leaders to live up to a 2009 pledge of $22 billion towards food security in developing nations of which only a quarter has been met. Activists are also urging G8 leaders to build on their previous commitments and partner with developing countries to urgently tackle hunger. We’re joined by Raymond Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, and Dr. Margaret Flowers, a physician and organizer with the Occupy G8 Peoples’ Summit..."

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Saudi troops in Bahrain a warning to Iran?

Al-Jazeera Video: Tensions over Syria plague Lebanon

"In Lebanon's northern port city of Tripoli, at least nine people have been killed in the last five days in clashes between supporters of the Syrian uprising and proponents of President Bashar al-Assad.

A child was killed in the latest clashes on Thursday.

Both sides blame the other for the violence. The Lebanese army has been deployed to restore calm, and is being seen by some as a party to the conflict.

The supporters of the Syrian opposition in Tripoli are mainly Sunni Muslims, and they are clashing with Alawites - belonging to the same sect as Assad. But, they say the fighting is political, not sectarian.

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports from Tripoli."

Murder for fun and "morale": Shocking video of lethal Israeli attack on sleeping Palestinian prisoners

By Ali Abunimah

"Video shows Israeli prison guards carrying out an unprovoked attack on sleeping Palestinian prisoners. It was a night of brutal and lethal violence that Israeli participants would describe as one of “fun” and “happiness.”......"

From Mubarak to Worse

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

"CAIRO, May 18, 2012 (IPS) - More than 15 months after Egypt's Tahrir Square uprising and four months after free parliamentary polls, many Egyptians say that daily living conditions are worse now than they were in the Mubarak era.

"Conditions for the average Egyptian have become worse - economically, socially and in terms of security - than they were before the revolution," Egyptian analyst Ammar Ali Hassan tells IPS....
Candidates are promising to solve all the country's problems," says Sherif. "But Egypt's next president better deliver or he could have a second revolution on his hands." "

Israel and the Neocons Mounting Pre-Emptive Strike on History

Applying the Six-Day War to Iran

By Ray McGovern
Common Dreams

"With the 45th anniversary of the Six-Day War of June 1967 coming early next month, pro-Israel pundits like syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer are again promoting Israel’s faux-narrative on the reasons behind Israel’s decision to attack its neighbors.

The Krauthammers of our domesticated, corporate media seem bent on waging pre-emptive war against an accurate historical rendering of the actual objectives behind that Israeli offensive that overwhelmed Arab armies and seized large swaths of Arab territory, land that hard-line Zionists refer to as “Greater Israel,” i.e. rightly theirs......

Today’s “threat” from Iran is equally ephemeral. Krauthammer, though, warns ominously about “nuclear weapons in the hands of apocalyptic mullahs publicly pledged to Israel’s annihilation.”

The allusion is to an illusion — the alleged threat by Iranian President Ahmadinejad to “wipe Israel off the map.” But he never said that, an inconvenient reality reluctantly acknowledged by Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor early last month. And in January, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his Israeli counterpart both publicly affirmed the unanimous assessment of U.S. intelligence that Iran is not working on a nuclear weapon.

Who, then, is being apocalyptic? Krauthammer’s agenda is so transparent that a rigorous Fact Check should be de rigueur."

NATO occupies sweet home Chicago

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"The North Atlantic Treaty Organization hopes that If you can't beat them in Pashtunistan, you can at least corral them in the home of the blues, with NATO's Chicago summit planned to instill in members the "common values" behind drone warfare and base expansion. As riot police lock down the city, some partners likely fear they've married into the mob......"

US veterans protest Nato's occupation of Chicago

The security operation against antiwar protest in Chicago is more disturbing evidence of the militarised policing of dissent

Amy Goodman, Thursday 17 May 2012

"Veterans of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan are now challenging the occupation of Chicago.

This week, Nato, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is holding the largest meeting in its 63-year history there. Protests and rallies will confront the two-day summit, facing off against a massive armed police and military presence. The Nato gathering has been designated a "national special security event" by the Department of Homeland Security, empowering the US secret service to control much of central Chicago, and to employ unprecedented authority to suppress the public's first amendment right to dissent....."

Human rights groups criticise Queen's historic lunch of monarchs

King of Bahrain, accused of brutally suppressing pro-democracy protests, among those included on controversial guest list, Friday 18 May 2012

"The king of Bahrain, whose regime has been accused of brutally suppressing pro-democracy demonstrations, has been revealed as one of the guests at a historic lunch of sovereign monarchs hosted by the Queen at Windsor Castle on Friday.

Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa appeared on a guest list released early on Friday ahead of the unprecedented gathering to celebrate the diamond jubilee.

Other guests include Swaziland's King Mswati III, as well as Sheikh Nasser Mohamed Aal Jaber Aal-Sabah of Kuwait and Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz Aal Saud of Saudi Arabia......

The human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was critical of the inclusion of eight of the monarchs on the Queen's guest list. He said: "It is outrageous that the Queen has invited royal tyrants to celebrate her diamond jubilee.

"She should not host the monarchs of countries such as Brunei, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Swaziland and United Arab Emirates."

He added: "All eight royal families preside over a variety of human rights abuses, such as detention without trial, torture, the denial of free speech, restrictions on press freedom, discrimination against women, oppression of minority faiths, homophobic persecution, ill-treatment of guest workers and the violent suppression of peaceful protests."....."

Wanted: A New Syrian Karzai!

Syria opposition rift widens with resignation of Burhan Ghalioun

Syrian National Council president offers to quit as infighting continues among opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, Thursday 17 May 2012

"The head of Syria's main opposition council offered to resign on Thursday "as soon as a replacement is found" after some members threatened to quit, damaging efforts to present a united front against President Bashar al-Assad.

Burhan Ghalioun said he did not wish to be a divisive figure and was ready to step down, just days after he was re-elected to a third, three-month term as head of the Syrian National Council (SNC).

"I announce my resignation as soon as a new candidate is picked, either by consensus or new elections," he said. "I will continue to work to serve the revolution from my position as a member of the council."....."

ElBaradei: Complementary constitutional declaration attempts to reproduce Mubarak regime

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"Mohamed ElBaradei criticized reports that the military council is planning to issue a supplementary constitutional declaration before the presidential election to stipulate the powers of the president without putting it to referendum or referring it to Parliament.

ElBaradei said on Twitter: "The military council will specify the powers of the president without a referendum and two days before the election, how does it have this right with the existence of Parliament?"

ElBaradei, a reformer who recently founded the Constitution Party, added that this procedure represents the "continuation of a transition phase that defies any reason and any legitimacy. The revolution broke out in order to build a new Egypt, and what we see today is a glaring attempt to reproduce and renew the old regime with the same ideology, methods and figures."......"

Emad Hajjaj on Iran and Bahrain

Iranian Declarations That Iran Has The Right to Bahrain!!

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Who is responsible for the breakdown of security in Libya: Remnants of Gaddafi; the current leadership or the tribalism and ethnic divisions of the Libyan society?

With over 2,000 responding, here is the vote:

Remnants of Gaddafi -- 28%

Current leadership --- 23%

Tribalism and ethnic divisions -- 49%

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Paul Krugman on Eurozone: "The Whole Thing Could Fall Apart in a Matter of Months"

Democracy Now!

"The European economic crisis is expected to top the agenda at the G8 meeting tomorrow at Camp David. In Greece, voters will soon head to the polls for another round of elections which will be viewed by many as a referendum on the Euro. Our guest today, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, warns the current bank run in Greece could spiral into the end of the Eurozone. "It is really quite shocking,” Krugman says. “I hate to sound apocalyptic.” Meanwhile, France’s new finance minister has reiterated that the country’s new socialist government will not ratify the European Union’s fiscal pact calling for greater austerity....."

"End This Depression Now": Paul Krugman Urges Public Spending, Not Deficit Hysteria, to Save Economy

Democracy Now!

"Public spending is under assault from the United States to Europe in the name of fighting deficits. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman argues in his new book, "End This Depression Now!", that the hysteria over the deficit will constrain an economic recovery in a time of high unemployment and stagnating wages. "The economics is really easy," says Krugman, "If we were to spend more money at the government level, rehire the school teachers, firefighters, police officers who have been laid off in the last several years because of cutbacks, we would be a long way back toward full employment. ... Right now there’s just not enough spending. We need the government to step in and provide the demand we need ... We’ve had austerity in the face of a recession in a way that we’ve never had before since the 1930s. The results are clear — it is disastrous." Krugman writes about the economy as a columnist for the New York Times and is a Professor of Economics at Princeton University....."

Journalist, Plaintiff Chris Hedges Hails "Monumental" Ruling Blocking NDAA Indefinite Detention

Democracy Now!

"In a rare move, a federal judge has struck down part of a controversial law signed by President Obama that gave the government the power to indefinitely detain anyone it considers a terrorism suspect anywhere in the world without charge or trial — including U.S. citizens. Judge Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York ruled the indefinite detention provision of the National Defense Authorization Act likely violates the First and Fifth Amendments of U.S. citizens. We speak with Chris Hedges, a journalist who filed the suit challenging the NDAA along with six others, and Bruce Afran, the group’s attorney. "This is another window into ... the steady assault against civil liberties," Hedges says. "What makes [the ruling] so monumental is that, finally, we have a federal judge who stands up for the rule of law."....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Iran 'sending arms to Syria despite ban'

"Syria remains the top destination for Iranian arms shipments, in violation of a UN Security Council ban on weapons exports by the Islamic Republic, according to a confidential report.

The report, submitted by a panel of sanctions-monitoring experts to the Security Council's Iran sanctions committee, said the panel investigated three large illegal shipments of Iranian weapons over the past year.

Iran, like Russia, is one of Syria's few allies as it presses ahead with a 14-month-old assault on opposition forces determined to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Laurence Lee reports."

Iran Eyeing Bahrain, by Emad Hajjaj

Exclusive: Iran flouts U.N. sanctions, sends arms to Syria: panel

"(Reuters) - Syria remains the top destination for Iranian arms shipments in violation of a U.N. Security Council ban on weapons exports by the Islamic Republic, according to a confidential report on Iran sanctions-busting seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

Iran, like Russia, is one of Syria's few allies as it presses ahead with a 14-month old assault on opposition forces determined to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.....

The new report, submitted by a panel of sanctions-monitoring experts to the Security Council's Iran sanctions committee, said the panel investigated three large illegal shipments of Iranian weapons over the past year.

"Iran has continued to defy the international community through illegal arms shipments," it stated. "Two of these cases involved (Syria), as were the majority of cases inspected by the Panel during its previous mandate, underscoring that Syria continues to be the central party to illicit Iranian arms transfers."....."

Guardian Video: Abuse of disabled children in Jordan's care homes

This film documents the shocking abuse of children with disabilities in Jordan's care homes using undercover filming and eyewitness testimony. The 11-month investigation by BBC Arabic aired in Jordan earlier this week, prompting an immediate reaction after it showed brutal and often violent tactics against the children, some as young as seven, Wednesday 16 May 2012

Guardian Video: Nakba Day clashes on West Bank between Palestinians and Israeli forces

Palestinian youths and Israeli security forces clash in the West Bank on Tuesday as Palestinians mark Nakba Day. The day commemorates the estimated 700,000 people who fled or were driven from their homes after the creation of Israel in 1948. Today as many as 5 million refugees and their descendants live in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, as well as in Gaza and the West Bank, Wednesday 16 May 2012

In Egypt, Mubarak's repression machine is still alive and well

The revolution must support the strikes by conscripts and civil servants if we are ever to dissolve the hated interior ministry

Hossam el-Hamalawy, Wednesday 16 May 2012

"A little over a week ago, in Obour City, hundreds of Egypt's notorious Central Security Forces (CSF) conscripts mutinied over torture received at the hands of their officers. The conscripts took to the highway, blocked the road, and even started chanting a famous anti-police song composed by the Ultras White Knights, one of the country's football fan groups. The mutiny was put down quickly by the army, together with concessions and promises offered.

This was not the first time such a mutiny has occurred since the January 2011 revolution. Several mutinies occurred on the "Friday of Anger". The following day, I met a guy in Mohamed Mahmoud Street while marching on the interior ministry who was a CSF conscript who escaped from his camp to join the protesters. Repeated mutinies were reported in Cairo, Alexandria and elsewhere over the course of the following months, over ill treatment by officers, long working hours and bad food.

The CSF is the interior ministry's army, and its central arm in crushing street dissent. Those conscripts are poorly paid, poorly fed, tortured, and made to do the state's dirtiest job. The last time they undertook a full-scale mutiny was in 1986. It was brutally crushed by Mubarak who sent in the army......

Even if the ruling army generals manage to crush the ongoing police protests and prevent them from spreading, the objective conditions for another 1986-style mass scale mutiny are still there. Those new waves of conscripts are not only the sons of poor peasants and workers, who have no love for their middle-class officers, but the context is one of revolution. Those new conscripts have witnessed it, and could well have participated in it prior to their conscription.

The interior ministry will not be able to restructure its CSF. There is not the political will; the current police generals who belong to Mubarak's interior minister Habib el-Adly's clique are more than happy to see the status of their army of slaves remain unchanged. The army generals too would love to see Mubarak's CSF revived and for it to take charge of putting down protests instead of having to involve the military police.

As we continue to organise and fight against the interior ministry, in an effort to dissolve it and replace it with community policing, such strikes and mutinies by the conscripts, corporals and civil servants should be supported by the revolutionary forces to create more fractures in this machine of repression."

Accountability for violations needed despite Palestinian prisoner deal

"Two thousand Palestinians held in Israeli prisons suspended a month-long hunger strike after Israel agreed several measures to improve prison conditions – a move seen by Amnesty International as a step toward compliance with Israel's human rights obligations.

Under the Egyptian-brokered deal, Israel has agreed to end solitary confinement for 19 prisoners – held in isolation for up to 10 years – and lift a ban on family visits for prisoners from the Gaza Strip, among other things.

"We hope that these commitments signal a new approach by the Israeli authorities founded on respect for prisoners’ human rights,” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“However, 2,000 prisoners and detainees should not have had to put their health on the line in order to ensure respect for their human rights which the Israeli authorities have been violating for years.”.....

Administrative detention is a procedure under which detainees are held under military orders without charge or trial for periods of up to six months which can be renewed indefinitely. Based on regulations initially passed under the British Mandate, Israel has used the measure against its citizens since 1948, and since 1967, against thousands of Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territories.

Administrative detention orders are based on secret information which is not disclosed to the detainees or their lawyers, denying detainees the opportunity to effectively exercise their right to mount a legal challenge.

At the end of April 2012, some 308 Palestinians were held as administrative detainees according to IPS statistics. Some are held as prisoners of conscience, held solely for their peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, association or assembly.

For many years, Amnesty International has urged Israel to end the practice and to release administrative detainees unless they are charged with a recognizable criminal offence and promptly tried according to international standards....."

Autopsy finds torture behind Bahrain drowning

Report exclusively obtained by Al Jazeera says 23-year-old had been electrically tortured before drowning in January.

By Matthew Cassel

".....However, Al Jazeera has exclusively obtained a report from a second autopsy performed by an independent forensic pathologist that concludes Mowali was electrically tortured and unconscious when he drowned.

If true, Mowali's death would be the first of a person in police custody since the government promised reforms, following the release of a report by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), which looked at the early months of unrest surrounding last year’s pro-democracy uprising.

The government-sponsored commission found that Bahrain's Interior Ministry and national security agency employed "a systematic practice of physical and psychological mistreatment, which in many cases amounted to torture" during the early months of the crackdown in 2011.

BICI also reported five deaths as a result of police torture. Mowali’s death could be the sixth - and an indication that the mistreatment of prisoners in Bahrain has not stopped, despite the government's promises....."

«مذكرات سمسار أراضٍ صهيوني»: كشف بأسماء من باع فلسطين

ما زالت قصة بيوع الأراضي في فلسطين، حتى اليوم، سائرة في الأفواه والأقلام من دون أي تبصر أو تمحيص، بل إنها باتت تهمة شائنة وُصم بها اللاجئون الفلسطينيون أينما حلّوا. ومع أن أربعاً وستين سنة قد مضت على النكبة، وصار من البدهي أن يكون أي عربي عارفاً تفصيلات هذه القضية بدقة، إلا أن الجهل حيناً، والعنصرية أحياناً، والكيدية في كثير من الأحيان، كان لها شأن كبير في استمرار الغموض الذي تجلببت به عمليات بيع الأراضي، ولم تنقشع غشاوة هذه القضية بتفصيلاتها كلها حتى اليوم.

بلغ مجموع ما امتلكه الصهيونيون من أرض فلسطين عشية الحرب العالمية الأولى 418 ألف دونم. وبلغ مجموع الأراضي التي امتلكها اليهود في سنة 1948 نحو 1734 ألف دونما (ولدى أبو يصير 207000 دونم). وفي جميع الحالات لم تزد ملكية اليهود على 5,7% من أراضي فلسطين حين صدر قرار التقسيم في 29/11/1947. ومع ذلك، من أين حصل اليهود على هذه المساحات الأكثر خصباً في فلسطين؟ لقد حصلوا عليها، عدا البائعين الفلسطينيين، من بعض أفراد العائلات التالية:
1- آل سرسق اللبنانيون (ميشال ويوسف ونجيب وجورج) وهؤلاء باعوا أراضي الفولة ونورس وجنجار ومعلول في سنة 1910، ثم باعوا مرج ابن عامر بين سنة 1921 وسنة 1925، وبلغ مجموع ما باعه أفراد هذه العائلة 400 ألف دونم.
2- آل سلام اللبنانيون الذي حصلوا في سنة 1914 على امتياز تجفيف مستنقعات الحولة من الدولة العثمانية، واستثمار الأراضي المستصلحة، لكنهم تنازلوا عنها للوكالة اليهودية. وبلغت المساحة المبيعة 165 ألف دونم.
3- آل تيان اللبنانيون (أنطون وميشال) الذين باعوا وادي الحوارث في سنة 1929 ومساحته 308 آلاف دونم.
4- آل تويني اللبنانيون الذين باعوا أملاكاً في مرج ابن عامر وقرى بين عكا وحيفا مثل نهاريا وحيدر وانشراح والدار البيضاء. وقام بالبيع ألفرد تويني.
5- آل الخوري اللبنانيون الذين باعوا أراضي قرية الخريبة على جبل الكرمل والبالغة مساحتها 3850 دونماً. وقام بالبيع يوسف الخوري.
6- آل القباني اللبنانيون الذين باعوا وادي القباني القريب من طولكرم في سنة 1929، وبلغت مساحته 4 آلاف دونم.
7- مدام عمران من لبنان التي باعت أرضاً في غور بيسان في سنة 1931 مساحتها 3500 دونم.
8- آل الصباغ اللبنانيون الذين باعوا أراضيَ في السهل الساحلي.
9- محمد بيهم (من بيروت) الذي باع أرضاً في الحولة.
10- أسوأ من ذلك هو أن خير الدين الأحدب (رئيس وزراء) وصفي الدين قدورة وجوزف خديج وميشال سارجي ومراد دانا (يهودي) والياس الحاج أسسوا في بيروت، وبالتحديد في 19/8/1935 شركة لشراء الأراضي في جنوب لبنان وفلسطين وبيعها. وقد فضحت جريدة «ألفباء» الدمشقية هذه الشركة في عددها الصادر في 7/8/1937.
11- آل اليوسف السوريون الذين باعوا أراضيهم في البطيحة والزويّة والجولان من يهوشواع حانكين ممثل شركة تطوير أراضي فلسطين.
12- آل المارديني السوريون الذين باعوا أملاكهم في صفد.
13- آل القوتلي والجزائرلي والشمعة والعمري السوريون وكانت لهم ملكيات متفرقة باعوها كلها.
هؤلاء هم مَن وضع مساحات كبيرة من الأراضي بين أيدي الصهيونيين، علاوة على الأراضي التي كانت بين أيديهم أو التي منحتها لهم سلطات الانتداب الإنكليزي مثل امتياز شركة بوتاس البحر الميت (75 ألف دونم)، وامتياز شركة كهرباء فلسطين أو مشروع روتنبرغ (18 ألف دونم)، وقبل ذلك ما نالوه من الدولة العثمانية (650 ألف دونم)... وهكذا. أما الفلاحون الفلسطينيون، ولا أقول المالكين الفلسطينيين الأثرياء الذين باعوا وقبضوا مثل غيرهم من المالكين العرب الغائبين، فقد جرى التحايل عليهم بطرق شتى، فسلبوهم القليل مما كان بين أيديهم من الأرض، وهو يتراوح بين 68 ألف دونم و150 ألف دونم.
في معمان ثورة 1936 جرى الاقتصاص من بعض بائعي الأرض ومن السماسرة العرب، فاغتيل عدد منهم، وامتنع الباقون عن الاستمرار في هذا العار. لكن الاقتصاص من المُلاّك الغائبين كان من المحال، فلم يقتص منهم أحد، بل باعوا أراضيَ ليست لهم في الأصل، بل آلت إليهم من خلال حق الانتفاع لا من ملكية الرقبة في العهد العثماني. ولعل فضح انحطاط أصحاب تلك الأسماء، وكشف اللثام عما فعلوه في فلسطين، هما نوع من القصاص الرمزي، وهو الأمر الوحيد الممكن في هذا الميدان.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

سلامة كيلة: الثورة ستنتصر والأسد سيسقط


سلامة كيلة: الثورة ستنتصر والأسد سيسقط

"قال المفكر اليساري العربي سلامة كيلة (57 سنة) إن النظام بشار الأسد سيسقط وإن الثورة الشعبية عليه ستنتصر، واصفا نظام الأسد بأنه "أكبر مافيا في المنطقة".

وروى كيلة -وهو فلسطيني الأصل، في حوار مع الجزيرة نت- تفاصيل اعتقاله وتعرضه لتعذيب وصفه بالوحشي من قبل المخابرات الجوية السورية التي اتهمها بارتكاب جرائم ضد الإنسانية.

وقال إنه اعتقل لاتهامه بأنه مسؤول عن نشرة يسارية صدر منها ثلاثة أعداد وضعت في عددها الثاني شعار "من أجل تحرير فلسطين.. نريد إسقاط النظام".

كيلة: نظام الأسد أكبر مافيا بالمنطقة

وقال إنه تعرض للضرب المبرح في فرع المخابرات الجوية بساحة الأمويين، وأن أسوأ فترة تعذيب تعرض لها كانت في المستشفى بالمزة الذي قال إن اثنين من المعتقلين قتلا تحت التعذيب خلال وجوده هناك وأنه اضطر للتبول على نفسه لأيام لأنه منع من الذهاب للحمام.

وقال إنه تعرض للضرب خلال وجوده بالمستشفى وأنه كان يضرب من كل عنصر يعرف إنه من أصل فلسطيني.

وهاجم كيلة –الذي سبق وأن اعتقل 8 سنوات في السجون السورية- قوى اليسار والقوميين العرب المنحازين للنظام السوري واتهمهم بأنهم يشاركون في حرب إبادة ضد الشعب السوري.

واعتبر أن هناك أحزاب شكلية ونخب تبلورت في الخمسينيات والستينات ستسقط مع النظم العربية ومنها النظام السوري، وتوقع أن يكون الشباب العربي الذي ولد في تسعينيات القرن الماضي مفتاح التغيير القادم في الشرق الأوسط كله.

وقال إنه اكتشف خلال سجنه في فرع المخابرات الجوية بساحة الأمويين وسجن الأمن السياسي أن كل مدن سوريا ممثلة داخل المعتقل، واعتبر أن حجم التعذيب الكبير للمعتقلين داخل سجن المخابرات الجوية المركزي لم يزد الشبان المعتقلين إلا إصرارا على إسقاط النظام.

وقال إنها تفاجأ بقرار إبعاده من قبل السلطات السورية إلى الأردن وأنه نقل لسجن المهجرين قبل أن يغادر إلى الأردن.

وعرض كيلة أمام الجزيرة نت أثناء المقابلة آثار التعذيب على أنحاء جسده والتي لا زال يعالج منها لدى أطباء في عمان.

Al-Jazeera Video: Creatively resisting occupation

"On the anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba or "catastrophe" we speak to activists employing creative methods of resistance to Israeli occupation."

Real News Video : Egyptians Watch First Ever Presidential Debate

The airing of the first presidential debate in the nation's history packed the coffee shops of downtown Cairo as Egyptians gathered to watch the two frontrunners trade barbs

More at The Real News

Israel’s popularity sinks even lower in 2012, new BBC global survey confirms

By Ali Abunimah

"Israel, already one of the world’s most negatively viewed countries, according to an annual BBC survey, has seen its reputation sink even lower in 2012.

The result will come as a blow to Israeli officials and organizations who have been attempting to improve the country’s image through intensive hasbara – propaganda – campaigns.

The 2012 Country Ratings Poll, conducted by GlobeScan/PIPA for the BBC among 24,090 people around the world, and published on 10 May, “asks respondents to rate whether the influence of each of 16 countries and the EU is ‘mostly positive’ or ‘mostly negative.’”

The press release accompanying the full report notes briefly that “The most negatively rated countries were, as in previous years, Iran (55% negative), Pakistan (51% negative), and Israel and North Korea (both 50% negative).”....."

The Palestinian Nakba: The Resolve of Memory

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"....In fact, al-Nakba is not a specific date or an estimation of time, but the entirety of those 64 years and counting. The event must not be assigned to the shelves of history, not as long as refugees are still refugees and settlers continue to rob Palestinian land. As long as Netanyahu speaks the language of Ben Gurion, other ‘catastrophic’ episodes will follow. And as long as Palestinians hold on to their keys and deeds, the old may die but the young will never forget. "

Unrest Is Growing in the Run-Up to Egypt's Presidential Election

Sharif Abdel Kouddous
The Nation

"Egypt’s ever-turbulent political transition has been particularly volatile in the past few weeks, as the country approaches a highly anticipated presidential election scheduled to begin later this month. A series of deadly street clashes in the run-up to the poll have left at least a dozen people dead, hundreds wounded and hundreds more in detention facing military trials. The violence comes amid a deepening sense of uncertainty and a questioning of legitimacy regarding nearly every aspect of the political process, from the drafting of the constitution to the presidential vote to the terms of the military’s handover of power.

Three candidates are widely viewed as the leading front-runners: Amr Moussa, who served as Hosni Mubarak’s foreign minister in the 1990s and who is the former Secretary General of the Arab League; Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a liberal Islamist and a former prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood who left the group last year after defying its now-broken pledge not to field a presidential candidate; and the Brotherhood’s current official candidate, Mohamed Morsi, who head’s the group’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party....

As the poll date approaches, tensions are high, the political atmosphere is highly charged and the future of Egypt remains as unpredictable as ever."

Hillary’s Terrorists

Hillary Clinton is about to delist a dangerous terror group

By Justin Raimondo

"......Like so much of US foreign policy, the idea that the US would legitimize a crazed cult like the MEK sounds like the plot of a bad thriller. Yet it’s all about the timing: as the US-Iran nuclear talks loom, the prospect of our State Department in effect legalizing the MEK and its activities in the US is an open provocation that could possibly shut down the sensitive negotiations – and pave the way for war with Iran. No doubt hardliners within the Obama administration are using the MEK issue as a backdoor way to torpedo the Baghdad talks: whether they will succeed remains to be seen. As one State Department official told the Wall Street Journal: “To make that assertion on your own that the MeK will be removed is a realistic one. But in policy making you never know for sure what will happen.”

I have to add that the MEK, while claiming to have “renounced” terrorism, exists in an atmosphere seething with violence, and my own experience with them has borne this out. Whenever I have written about them I have invariably received emails from MEK supporters laden with explicit threats of violence. This is to be expected from members of a psycho cult, but in the case of the MEK it’s not like they’ve never killed any Americans before. Just ask the families of Paul Shaffer, Jack Turner, Louis Lee Hawkins, William Cottrell, Donald Smith, and Robert Krongard."

Why is there so little accountability in foreign policymaking?

Posted By Stephen M. Walt

".......Fifth, as U.S. neoconservatives have long demonstrated, the best defense is sometimes a good offense. No influential political faction in America is more willing to engage in character assassination and combative politics than they are, in sharp contrast to most liberals and even most realists. I'm not talking about spirited debate over the issues -- which is a key part of effective democratic politics -- I'm talking about the tendency to accuse those with whom they disagree of being unpatriotic, morally bankrupt, anti-semitic, or whatever. Their willingness to play hardball intimidates a lot of people, which in turn protects them from a full accounting for their past actions.

Finally, there is obviously less accountability for anyone who has reliable financial backing. It doesn't matter how often people at the Weekly Standard or American Enterprise Institute advocate failed policies, so long as somebody is willing to keep bankrolling them. If you've got the Koch Brothers, Rupert Murdoch, or Sheldon Adelson in your corner, you can stay in the game no matter how often you've been wrong about really big and important issues, and no matter how big a price others may have paid for your mistakes."

India dumps Iran, squeezes Obama

By M K Bhadrakumar
Asia Times

"India has taken a decision to reduce oil imports from Iran, and the Barack Obama administration will be delighted that its sustained diplomatic and political pressure on India is finally bearing fruit. Yet, the big question remains: What is it that Delhi hopes to extract from the United States in return for its momentous decision to comply with the US's Iran sanctions?....."

Syrian troops are targeting health workers, says aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres

"An international aid agency warned today that Syrian forces are targeting medical workers and patients who were wounded in the 14-month-old conflict, forcing doctors to scramble to help the injured in makeshift clinics.

Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, which is not authorised to work in Syria, sent teams into the country secretly. They reached the rebellious areas of Homs and Idlib, where they found patients and doctors at risk of attack and arrest.

"Being caught with patients is like being caught with a weapon," the group quoted an orthopedic surgeon as saying in an Idlib village. "The atmosphere in most medical facilities is extremely tense; health care workers send wounded patients home and provide only first aid so that facilities can be evacuated quickly in the event of a military operation."....."

If there were global justice, Nato would be in the dock over Libya

Liberia's Charles Taylor has been convicted of war crimes, so why not the western leaders who escalated Libya's killing?

Seumas Milne, Tuesday 15 May 2012

"Libya was supposed to be different. The lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan had been learned, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy insisted last year. This would be a real humanitarian intervention. Unlike Iraq, there would be no boots on the ground. Unlike in Afghanistan, Nato air power would be used to support a fight for freedom and prevent a massacre. Unlike the Kosovo campaign, there would be no indiscriminate cluster bombs: only precision weapons would be used. This would be a war to save civilian lives.

Seven months on from Muammar Gaddafi's butchering in the ruins of Sirte, the fruits of liberal intervention in Libya are now cruelly clear, and documented by the UN and human rights groups: 8,000 prisoners held without trial, rampant torture and routine deaths in detention, the ethnic cleansing of Tawerga, a town of 30,000 mainly black Libyans (already in the frame as a crime against humanity) and continuing violent persecution of sub-Saharan Africans across the country......

Just as the urgent lesson of Libya – for the rest of the Arab world and beyond – is that however it is dressed up, foreign military intervention isn't a short cut to freedom. And far from saving lives, again and again it has escalated slaughter."

Guardian Video: Syria: UN monitors 'under fire'

Unverified footage from YouTube shows the moment when United Nations peace monitors come under attack in Khan Sheikhoun, north of Hama in Syria. The monitors were attending a funeral when Syrian government forces reportedly opened fire on mourners. The monitors suffered no casualties in the attack, but more than 20 other people died, Wednesday 16 May 2012

Bahrain: Drop Charges Against Rights Activists

Wrong Time for US to Resume Arms Sales

Human Rights Watch

"(Beirut) – Bahraini authorities should drop politically motivated criminal charges against Nabeel Rajab, a human rights activist, and release him immediately. Rajab is scheduled to go on trial on May 16, 2012, for “offending an official institution” – namely, the Interior Ministry, which he criticized for allegedly ignoring attacks against boys and young protesters as well as Shia-owned businesses.

Rajab, head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and a member of the advisory committee of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Division, was arrested at the Bahrain International Airport on May 5, 2012, upon his arrival from Beirut. Mohamed al-Jishi, Rajab’s lawyer, told Human Rights Watch that the public prosecutor brought the “offending” charge against Rajab for four Twitter postings in recent months in which he criticized the Interior Ministry for, in al-Jishi’s words, “not prosecuting attacks by armed gangs who have attacked civilians.”

The charges against Nabeel Rajab are nothing more than attempts to silence one of the Bahraini government’s most prominent critics,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Authorities should immediately drop these charges and release him.”......."

Libya's Human Rights Problem

by Sarah Leah Whitson
Human Rights Watch

"Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) warmly accepted the international community's military and political support for dislodging the Qaddafi government, and vowed to build a new state that would respect human rights. But it seems to be veering off course. Not only is it rejecting international human rights monitoring and the ICC's jurisdiction, but more troubling still, it has passed some shockingly bad laws, mimicking Qaddafi laws criminalizing political dissent and granting blanket immunity to any crimes committed in "support" of the revolution.....

Some Western officials say that Libya's transitional authorities need a break after four decades of Qaddafi and months of harsh conflict. Many Libyan officials echo this claim, calling for "space" and "understanding." But it is exactly things like human rights monitoring and pressure to respect international legal obligations that will help Libya's transition. Giving Libya a pass during the transition is a recipe for more problems down the road."

Suffering and loss among Syrians in hospitals in Tripoli, Lebanon

By Neil Sammonds, Amnesty International’s Syria researcher

"Two weeks ago ‘Amina’ lost her legs, her husband and her two small children.

In a Tripoli hospital she tells me with remarkable composure how her life was, quite literally, blown apart.

“When the regime forces attacked our village – an hour from Homs city – we fled and stayed outside, slept in an empty building,” she said.

“Two days later it was quiet and so we were returning on motorbike. I was on the back, holding my 13-month-old daughter in my left arm; my husband was in front of me and our three-year-old son in his lap. Missiles hit us, I don’t know which kind.”

While the accounts given to Amnesty International during a research trip to Lebanon in May blame government forces for the attacks which destroyed Amina’s family as well as a number of others, restrictions placed by the Syrian authorities on visits by NGOs like Amnesty International to Syria mean that it is extremely difficult to investigate the circumstances in which such horrific injuries and deaths were caused.

A physician with international experience in injuries from armed conflicts, ‘Dr Nabil’, explains later that the most common emergency injuries among Syrians here are from mortars, which he says are fired at groups assembled in public – whether students, people in marketplaces and shops and so on – and explode in their entirety into shrapnel.

No matter the exact circumstances of such attacks, mortars are notoriously imprecise weapons and should not be used in densely populated areas....."

Syrian rebels get influx of arms with gulf neighbors’ money, U.S. coordination

The Washington Post

"Syrian rebels battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad have begun receiving significantly more and better weapons in recent weeks, an effort paid for by Persian Gulf nations and coordinated in part by the United States, according to opposition activists and U.S. and foreign officials.

Obama administration officials emphasized that the United States is neither supplying nor funding the lethal material, which includes antitank weaponry. Instead, they said, the administration has expanded contacts with opposition military forces to provide the gulf nations with assessments of rebel credibility and command-and-control infrastructure......

The U.S. contacts with the rebel military and the information-sharing with gulf nations mark a shift in Obama administration policy as hopes dim for a political solution to the Syrian crisis. Many officials now consider an expanding military confrontation to be inevitable.

Material is being stockpiled in Damascus, in Idlib near the Turkish border and in Zabadani on the Lebanese border. Opposition activists who two months ago said the rebels were running out of ammunition said this week that the flow of weapons — most still bought on the black market in neighboring countries or from elements of the Syrian military — has significantly increased after a decision by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other gulf states to provide millions of dollars in funding each month.

Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood also said it has opened its own supply channel to the rebels, using resources from wealthy private individuals and money from gulf states, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, said Mulham al-Drobi, a member of the Brotherhood’s executive committee......"

The UN and Syria, by Emad Hajjaj

"في الثّورة والقابليّة للثّورة": نحو تأسيس نظريّة علميّة عن الثّورة العربية الحديثة

هشام القروي

"يستعرض عزمي بشارة في كتيِّب "في الثّورة والقابليّة للثّورة" -الذي لا يتجاوز عدد صفحاته المئة- أهمّ ما ينبغي أن يُعرف عن الثّورات، من حيث فلسفتها النّظريّة وممارستها العمليّة وتاريخها؛ وذلك بطريقةٍ مختصرة ومفيدة. وهو بذلك يقيم الدليل على قوّة النّهج الذي ألمح إليه أساتذةٌ وكتّابُ كبار بأنّ أعمق الأفكار يمكن تقديمها والتّعبير عنها من دون الحاجة إلى إسهاب. ويذكّر هذا الكتيّب بنوعٍ من الأدبيّات السّياسيّة؛ كان قد انتشر في أوروبا، وظفِر بشعبيّة كبيرة، خصوصًا في مطلع القرن العشرين. وهو الذي عمّمته الأدبيّات الماركسيّة بالخصوص، وكان لماركس وإنغلز نصيب فيه، ثمّ تبعهما في ذلك العديد من المنظّرين الثّوريّين.

ويبدو بشارة في هذا الكتاب حريصًا على أمرين مترابطين؛ أوّلهما: العمل على إضاءة ما يجري في الوطن العربي، منذ أحرق ذلك الشابّ الفقير نفسه في بلدة سيدي بوزيد التّونسيّة، مشعلًا بذلك الثّورة في بلاده وفي البلدان ذات الأنظمة المشابهة، دون أن يكون قد قصد ذلك؛ وثانيهما: أن لا تكون تحديدات الكاتب للثّورة وللحالة الثّوريّة تطبيقات فوقيّة سطحيّة ومتعسّفة لنظريّات أجنبيّة على واقعٍ اجتماعي وثقافي مختلف.

وعلى الرّغم من إمكانيّة إدراج هذا الكتاب ضمن التّراث الإنساني الأوسع للأدبيّات الثّورية؛ فإنّه يتميّز بخاصيّات نوعيّة، تجعله "يتيمًا" -تقريبًا- في أدبيات العلوم الاجتماعية العربية الحديثة. وليس هذا الأمر بغريب، فعلى الرّغم من أنّ الثّورة ليست ظاهرة جديدة في التّاريخ العربي، فقد ظلّ التنظير متخلّفًا شيئًا ما، حيث نرى أغلب الكتب التي أُلِّفت عن الثّورة -كفكر وممارسة في الوطن العربي- إمّا أنّها تنحو تجاه الكتابة التّأريخية التّسجيلية والسّرد الحدثي (كجلّ ما كُتب مثلا عن الثّورة العربية الكبرى ضدّ العثمانيّين، وثورة عرابي، وثورة الأمير عبد القادر، وثورة علي بن غذاهم، والثورات الوطنية ضدّ الاستعمار...)، أو أنّها تستوحي النموذج الماركسي-اللينيني أو الماركسي-الماوي من دون أن تقدّم إضافةً نوعيّة تجعل العرب مساهمين فاعلين في هذا التّراث الإنساني لا مستهلكين. وحين شذّت الكتابات عن هذين النّمطين، وقعت تحت تأثير الأيديولوجيا "المغناطيسي"، فقدّمت لنا "أيديولوجية ثورية" على هيئة "نظريّة قوميّة عربيّة" أو "إسلاميّة" عن الثّورة، وليس بالضّرورة معرفة علميّة.

حتّى الثّورة الفلسطينية نفسها، وعلى الرّغم من أهميتها وخطورتها وعراقتها، ظلّت أسيرة القوالب الجامدة والتّفكير الدوغمائي أو البراغماتية المسطّحة والانفعالات السياسوية التي لا ترقى إلى مستوى الفكر العلمي والنّظريّة الاجتماعية. وهذا بلا شكّ، يمثّل جزءًا من المعضلة الفلسطينيّة والتّحدّيات التي واكبت القضيّة، واستمرّت ملازمة لها إلى اليوم. وكثيرًا ما ذكر الفلسطينيّون الثّورة الجزائريّة أو الفيتناميّة كنموذج، ولكن الأولى لم تُنتج نظريّةً ولم تستند إلى نظريّة، على الرّغم من محاولة إلصاقها بأفكار فرانتز فانون، ولم يكن هذا الأخير جزائريًّا، وإنّما كان كاتبًا متعاطفًا فحسب. وأمّا الثّورة الفيتنامية، فقد كانت منذ البداية مؤسّسة على الفهم الأيديولوجي الماركسي للتاريخ. وهو فهم سقط في الامتحان العربيّ، ولم يكتب له النّجاح والاستمراريّة في العالم.

فكتاب د. عزمي بشارة يريد تقديم شيء مختلف، إذ نجد أوّلًا في تبويب المؤلّف لكتابه انعكاسًا لمنهجه البحثي. فقد اهتمّ بتحديد "الثّورة" كمفهوم، ومن ثمّ تحدّث عن "الجدّة والتجديد"، و"الحرّية والثّورة"، و"الحالة الثّوريّة أو القابليّة للثّورة"، ومنها إلى "الثّورة كحالة قابلة للانتشار"، وختم تحليله بموضوع "الثّورة الدّيمقراطية والأيديولوجية

'Jewish democracy' founded on ugly battles

Israel has a Jewish majority today because of the expulsions and denationalisation of most Palestinians living there.

By Ben White

"Cambridge, United Kingdom - Among the many good reasons for marking the anniversary of the Nakba are two which speak to the intensifying debate about Israel's "democratic values": firstly, the fact that the Nakba is ongoing, in the daily acts of piecemeal ethnic cleansing from the Jordan Valley to the Negev, and secondly, the way in which the historical facts of "transfer" undermine the mythology of Israel as a supposed "Jewish and democratic" state.

Both of these points cause significant problems for liberal Zionists, those self-identifying progressive supporters of Israel whose views have come to the fore in discussions about Israel's future, as well as in efforts to counter Palestinian solidarity efforts and initiatives such as the BDS campaign......

With the Nakba in clear view, current attempts to reconcile both "Jewish and democratic" components of Israel's identity can be seen for what they are: a grand exercise in missing the point. The only reason why there is a Jewish majority in Israel today is because of the expulsions and denationalisation of most Palestinians who would have become citizens in the new state. What unites liberal and conservative Zionists in rejecting the Palestinians' right of return is the ugly demographic "battle" that is the foundation of the "Jewish and democratic" state."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

US arms Sales to Bahrain Undercut Criticism of Russia, Iran on Syria

by Juan Cole
You wouldn’t think Bahrain and Syria were much linked. Both are Arabic-speaking countries, though about half of Bahrain’s residents are non-citizen guest workers who speak anything but Arabic. One is a geographically fairly large country of some 23 million abutting the eastern Mediterranean. The other is a set of tiny islands in the Mideast’s Gulf.
But Bahrain and Syria are tied in destiny, since they are numbers 5 and 6 of the series of Arab Spring countries that staged major rallies against their government. (The successful such movements were Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen). Bahrain and Syria are in some ways mirror images of one another. Syria has a Shiite, secular ruling elite and a Sunni majority that is treated like a minority. Bahrain has a Sunni ruling elite and a Shiite majority that is treated like a minority. Syria is backed by Russia and Iran, and has given the Russians a naval base on the Mediterranean at Tartous. Bahrain is backed by the United States and Saudi Arabia; it has given the US a naval base as HQ for the Fifth Fleet at Manama, and has garrisoned 1,000 Saudi troops on its soil.
Both governments have brutally repressed their popular revolts. In Bahrain a little less than a hundred have been killed, whereas in Syria it is something like 9,000. But Bahrain is so small that proportionally the death toll there per capita is in the same league with Syria’s.
The United States government has blasted Syria over its repression of its popular movement for democracy, placing a series of sanctions on Syrian leaders.
The US has been virtually silent about the dirty little police state that is Bahrain and its outrageous tactics, such as trying physicians for so much as treating wounded street protesters. The US has not placed sanctions on Bahrain and has done no more than tut-tut the government violence.
Just ask yourself if the US would sell coast guard and F-16 equipment to Syria today.
This unnecessary and pernicious arms sale has only one purpose, and it isn’t to beef up Bahrain’s defenses. It is to reassure the Sunni king and his uncle, the prime minister, that the US forgives them for their jack boot tactics and will continue to support them.
There is no difference between the US acting this way and Russia running interference for Syria. Each is following its geopolitical interest. Neither has any morality. They are great powers.

Syrian troops 'kill 20 at funeral during UN visit'

At least 20 people have been killed by Syrian security forces in the north-western town of Khan Sheikhoun during a visit by UN observers, activists say.
Unconfirmed reports say the deaths occurred when security forces opened fire on a funeral procession in the town in Idlib province.
Three of the monitors' cars were damaged in a blast in the town, but the observers were not hurt, the UN said.
This comes despite the UN-backed ceasefire in place since last month.
The Syrian government has so far not publicly commented on the incidents.
In a separate development, the head of Syria's election committee announced that turnout in last week's parliamentary elections was more than 50%.
The committee did not say who had won, but it is clear that the ruling Baath party has secured a substantial majority of the seats, the BBC's Jonathan Head in neighbouring Turkey reports.
This was the first election in which the Baath party was not, in theory, guaranteed a majority, our correspondent says.
Opposition parties - which boycotted the election - have dismissed the vote as a sham.
As the parliament's powers are poorly defined, he adds, there was no chance that the poll would dilute President Bashar al-Assad's power, our correspondent says.