Saturday, July 28, 2012

Guardian Video: Syria crisis: a captured Shabiha member in Aleppo speaks

Luke Harding reports from northern Syria, where he speaks to a captured member of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's notorious Shabiha militia. The man, who identified himself as Dawish Dado, 33, was recruited two months ago before being captured by the Free Syrian Army, Saturday 28 July 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: Al Jazeera speaks to Aleppo activist

Al-Jazeera Video: Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports on Syria

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrian rebels gain ground in Aleppo

"In Syria's Aleppo province, the balance of power is changing fast. From the Turkish border through to the edge of Aleppo city, fighters of the Free Syrian Army have taken control while the Syrian army has largely disappeared. But the fight against forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad is far from over. Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught reports exclusively from Al-Bab in Aleppo province."

Turkey urges steps as shelling of Aleppo continues

Damaged buildings are seen in Juret al-Shayah in Homs July 27, 2012 (Reuters)

This is the "Resistance" of the Butcher's Regime.....
His Military is Destroying Syrian Cities.....
While the Golan is Annexed and Colonized by Israel.

Syria crisis: Assad forces move in on Aleppo - live updates

Russian Base in Tartus

The Guardian

"12.00pm: Russia's state news agency RIA is reporting that the head of the country's navy, Vice Adm. Viktor Chirkov has said that they might evacuate their base in Syria if it comes under attack.

It is not clear whether they expect this. The base in Tartus is not very far from Homs city.

Servicemen may be evacuated from the Russian naval base in Tartus, Syria, if it comes under attack, Navy chief Vice Adm. Viktor Chirkov said on Saturday.

"I am not the one to issue orders: We have the defense minister [for that]," he said in an interview with Ekho Moskvy Radio. "If we have to evacuate the personnel that is currently deployed there, we certainly will."

He stressed that an order by the commander in chief of the Russian Armed Forces (the president) and Russia's top political leadership was required for that.

What makes this more interesting is that the Syrian base is Russia's only existing naval base outside the former Soviet Union and in a crucial warm water location on the Mediterranean.

It also comes a day after a report that Russia is seeking out locations for other bases in foreign countries including Cuba, Vietnam and the Seychelles."

Friday, July 27, 2012

Syrian army supply crisis has regime on brink of collapse, say defectors

General who swapped sides says regime can last 'two months at most' as troop morale sinks and petrol trucks are ambushed

Luke Harding in Aleppo province, Friday 27 July 2012

"Bashar al-Assad's military machine is on the brink of logistical meltdown and collapse, because it lacks petrol and food, and is having problems resupplying its soldiers, according to a Syrian general who has defected to the opposition.

Much has been made of the Syrian military's supposed superiority over the opposition, but General Mohammad Al-Zobi told the Guardian: "The benzine is nearly finished. They are running out of rockets. There is scarcely any bread or water for the soldiers."

Zobi defected two months ago alongside his air force colleague General Saed Shawamra. They slipped out from Tiftanaz airbase in the middle of the night. From the city of Idlib they crept across the border to Turkey. On Wednesday they crossed back into Syria, their mission now to finish off the revolution against Assad.

The men, from Dera'a province, are among around 100 senior military commanders who have joined Syria's rebels, appalled – they say – by Assad's brutal war against his own population. According to Zobi, the embattled Syrian regime can last "one or two months at most". "After that Assad will leave Syria. He'll go to Russia or maybe Iran," Zobi predicted, sitting in a village in rustic northern Syria, close to the Turkish border.

It is, of course, in the interests of the rebels to paint a picture of a crumbling regime on the brink of collapse, but it chimes with the view of General Robert Mood, the former head of the UN monitoring mission in Syria, who told Reuters on Friday: "In my opinion it is only a matter of time before a regime that is using such heavy military power and disproportional violence against the civilian population is going to fall......

Over the past few months the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has taken control of large swaths of the countryside, carving out a mini-empire in the north and east. The regime is largely confined to urban areas.

This new geographical reality has given opposition fighters the capacity to degrade the military's creaking supply chain....

The two generals had been in charge of helicopters at the Tiftanaz base, outside Idlib. Because of rebel attacks on supply routes, the garrison was now forced to fly in food and ammunition by plane from Aleppo, they said. It was a similar picture in other army bases, increasingly vulnerable and cut off, Zobi suggested.

Assad's greatest advantage over his lightly armed opponents comes from the sky. Syria has 150 Soviet-built helicopters, including M8 and M17 troop transporters, capable of transporting 24 soldiers each. Russia had also delivered "five or six new helicopters" over the past month, the generals said.

But the president's most lethal weapon is his notorious M25 helicopter gunship.....

The generals also painted a portrait of a demoralised Assad army. Some 30% of the president's soldiers had deserted, they said.....

Other defectors who had made their way to northern Syria confirmed the generals' bleak view, and said the rank and file in Assad's army wanted out....."

The Palestinian dilemma over Syria

Hamas opposes Assad, but some seem more interested in being anti-Israel and anti-US than standing up for human rights

Sharif Nashashibi, Friday 27 July 2012

"Palestinian leaders, organisations and officials were generally silent at the start of Syria's revolution, mainly out of concern for the fate of the half million Palestinian refugees in the country.

However, that has now changed, and not in President Bashar al-Assad's favour. Attacks on Palestinian camps by Syrian forces loyal to him – most recently last week against the Yarmouk camp – have resulted in killings, injuries, and the displacement of thousands. This has angered Palestinian refugees, many of whom are now openly supporting the revolution, as well as taking in Syrian refugees.

This is particularly damaging for the Assad regime because it has long regarded itself as a guardian of the Palestinian cause.

In an obvious reference to Palestinians, Jihad Makdissi, the Syrian foreign ministry spokesman, wrote on Facebook that "guests" in Syria "have to respect the rules of hospitality" or "depart to the oases of democracy in Arab countries". He later removed his comments following an outcry.

The regime's supporters often cite the fact that Palestinian refugees in Syria are treated far better than in other Arab countries. What they overlook, though, is that the law enshrining the rights of these refugees was enacted well before the Ba'ath party took power......

Hamas is the only member of the "axis of resistance" (grouping the Palestinian movement, Hezbollah, and the Iranian and Syrian regimes) to denounce Assad's crackdown. Although Hamas's decision is in line with polls indicating that Palestinians support the Arab spring, it has come at a significant price. A subsequent drop in Iranian aid to Hamas – which has been a lifeline for the movement in recent years – has yet to be filled by other sources.....

......First, to Israel, Assad is "the devil you know" who (along with his father) has kept the Syrian-Israeli border quiet for decades, and helped the US in its "war on terror".

Second, it is misguided and offensive to view the suffering of Syrians in terms of whether or not this benefits Israel, the US or the Palestinians.

Third, there has always been strong support among Syrians for the Palestinian struggle – and this wasn't created by the Ba'ath party or the Assads.

A post-Assad Syria will likely reorient itself away from Russia, Hezbollah and Iran, but that will not translate into abandoning the Palestinians and cosying up to Israel because it would be domestically and electorally disastrous.....

The only certainly at this stage is that axes of power and alliances will be redrawn. However this happens, and whoever benefits, should not be the priority. The rights of Syrians are paramount. If Palestinians and their supporters want the world to view their struggle as one of universal human rights – and rightly so – they should practise what they preach, and do so in unison.

While most have stood by the Syrian people, some seem more interested in being anti-Israeli and anti-American than standing up for universal human rights. This is as harmful to the Palestinians as it is to the Syrians."

Do Jordanians want reform or revolution?

The Clown King Could Be in Trouble; Let's Hope So.

The tiny, impoverished country is led by an unelected absolute monarch and is plagued by corruption and ethnic tensions.

By Mehdi Hasan

"It has a population of less than seven million, few natural resources of its own, and tends to rely on aid from its rich neighbours and its friends in the West in order to survive.

But a combination of geography and history has resulted in the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan playing a critical role in the politics of the Middle East and, especially, the Israel-Palestine conflict....

I travelled to Jordan to try to find out what the future holds for a country led by an unelected and absolute monarch, plagued by corruption and economic stagnation, and divided between ethnic Jordanians - the "East Bankers" - and the marginalised Palestinians - the "West Bankers" - who now make up a majority of the population.....

Lest we forget, however, tiny, impoverished Jordan is a key strategic ally of the US and one of only two Arab nations (the other being Egypt) to have signed a peace treaty with the state of Israel. If the Arab Spring were to spread to the Hashemite kingdom and the ruling family fell, after almost a century in power, it would have a massive, almost unquantifiable impact on the wider region and on the Muslim world as a whole.

The key question is: Do Jordanians want reform or revolution?"

Real News Video : The Porter Report: Israel, the Bulgaria Bombings and Iran

Gareth Porter: Netanyahu accuses Iran, and Iran accuses Israel, of being behind terrorist attack

More at The Real News

Assad's fall only matter of time: former U.N. Syria mission chief

"(Reuters) - It is just a matter of time before the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad falls because its use of massive force is mobilizing insurgents, General Robert Mood, the former head of the U.N. monitoring mission in Syria, said on Friday.

"In my opinion it is only a matter of time before a regime that is using such heavy military power and disproportional violence against the civilian population is going to fall," the Norwegian general, who left Damascus on July 19, told Reuters.

"Every time there are 15 people killed in a village, 500 additional sympathizers are mobilized, roughly 100 of whom are fighters," Mood said.

However, the authoritarian Syrian leader is probably secure in the short term because he has the military capability to hold off the rebels and his eventual fall could be months or even years away, Mood said.

"In the short term it may very well be possible for him to (hold on), because the military capabilities of the Syrian army are much much stronger than those of the opposition," Mood said.

"The minute you see larger military formations leaving the ranks of the government to join the opposition, then that is when it starts accelerating ... This could last for months or even years," he said......"

Mohamed Morsi's choice of prime minister confirms Egyptian fears


The appointment of Hisham Kandil, from the outgoing cabinet, is a bitter reminder that the revolution is far from complete

Magdi Abdelhadi, Thursday 26 July 2012

".....Worse still, he did not seem to have the guts to make a clean break with the old establishment. Perhaps he couldn't. He has picked a minister from the outgoing cabinet for the post. This being the same cabinet he and his Islamist Justice and Freedom party campaigned against for months, but failed to force from office through a vote of no confidence.

If this is the best he could come up with after weeks of consultations, there's little reason to get excited about who the new prime minister might select for his cabinet in what was supposed to be Egypt's first "revolutionary government"......

His choice of prime minister is once again a bitter reminder for those who supported the revolution that it is still far from complete, and will remain incomplete as long as the old nomenklatura in the army, the police and the top mandarins keep their chairs. Morsi cannot be the revolution's president and continue to rely on the old guard. Cohabitation Egyptian style will prove to be a recipe for, at best, crab walk; at worst, paralysis.

But there are those who believe that Morsi, far from being coerced into making certain choices, is pursuing a deliberate plan. He seems to think that they can rule Egypt without dismantling the old machinery – instead he wants to take command of it. If that is indeed what he is trying to do, he will have proven critics of the Muslim Brothers right: they have more in common with Mubarak's old ruling party, the now-dissolved NDP, than they are willing to admit."

The anti-war left's concerns over Syria are understandable, but ill-founded

There may have been outside attempts to hijack the Syria uprising, but evidence suggests this is still a popular revolution

Richard Seymour, Thursday 26 July 2012

"....The outstanding worry is that sectarian forces will come to the fore, and attack minorities. When Islamists bombed Damascus last year, they issued a sectarian statement against the Alawi minority from which the ruling Ba'ath elite hails. But there is no evidence that such forces are dominant: the sectarian Wahabis are a small minority within the struggle. In reality, the regime, by using Alawite militias to attack unarmed groups, is the major sectarian force. The regime has reportedly paid agents provocateurs to shout sectarian slogans at opposition rallies. It has never respected the rights of minorities, least of all Kurds, who are participating in the revolt.

The evidence is that despite attempts at co-optation, this is still very much a popular revolution, and the initiative lies with the citizens organized in the committees and militias. And their victory would be a defeat for everyone who thinks Arabs are incapable of freeing themselves from oppression."

Guardian Video: Syria crisis: fighting continues across the country

Amateur footage purports to show explosions in several regions of Syria as unrest continues. Smoke can be seen rising from several buildings in Homs as a helicopter fires over Talbisah. Reports from Aleppo on Wednesday described preparations for a major confrontation between government and rebel forces, Thursday 26 July 2012

Population of Jewish settlements in West Bank up 15,000 in a year

Number of settlers has almost doubled in 12 years, increasing obstacles to two-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem, Thursday 26 July 2012

"The number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank grew by more than 15,000 in the past year to reach a total that exceeds 350,000 for the first time and has almost doubled in the past 12 years.

Figures from Israel's population registry show a 4.5% increase in the past 12 months. Most of the newcomers moved into settlements that many observers expect to be evacuated in any peace deal leading to a Palestinian state.

There are an additional 300,000 Jews living in settlements across the pre-1967 border in East Jerusalem, the pro-government and mass-circulation newspaper Israel Hayom reported......"

Syrian parliamentarian defects to Turkey

Ikhlas al-Badawi flees country blaming 'savage torture' of Assad regime as troops and armour build up around Aleppo, Friday 27 July 2012

"A Syrian parliamentarian representing the northern province of Aleppo has defected to Turkey, becoming the first member of the rubber-stamp assembly elected in May and dominated by President Bashar al-Assad's Ba'ath party to jump ship.

"I have crossed to Turkey and defected from this tyrannical regime … because of the repression and savage torture against a nation demanding the minimum of rights," Ikhlas al-Badawi told Sky News Arabia.

Opposition sources said Syrian troops and armour are amassing around the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's main commercial and industrial hub, to crush armed resistance to Assad that has been gathering momentum following a military crackdown on street demonstrations against his rule.

The authorities chose Badawi, a Sunni Muslim, to run for parliament on behalf of the "labourers and peasants" sector, a term for state-backed labour and farmers' unions who are guaranteed half the seats in the 250-seat assembly.

Badawi, a mother of six, was also a member of the Ba'ath party, which took power in 1963 military coup that destroyed the country's democratic institutions in favour of a Soviet-style political system dominated by Assad's minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shia Islam.

Intensified ground and aerial bombardment of Syrian cities by Assad's forces in recent weeks has prompted diehard Ba'athists and Assad's loyalists to defect......"

Syria: Inmate Describes Fatal Assault on Prisoners

Grant UN Observers Immediate Access to Homs, Aleppo Prisons

Human Rights Watch
July 27, 2012

"(New York) – The Syrian government should immediately grant United Nations observers full access to Homs and Aleppo central prisons to check on prisoners who may be at risk of violent reprisals following prison riots, Human Rights Watch said today.

“Samir,” an inmate in the old section of the Homs central prison, told Human Rights Watch by phone that a riot broke out on July 21, 2012, and that prisoners took over parts of the prison. In response, he said, government forces surrounded the facility, used live rounds and teargas to attack the prisoners, and cut off food and water supplies. Samir reported at least seven deaths, including three children, and an activist reported at least three more......

“The uncertainty surrounding the fate of inmates in Homs and Aleppo shows the urgent need for UN monitors to get inside these prisons and publicly report on their findings,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The Syrian government should be on notice that the international community is watching, and that any violent crackdown in prisons will not go unpunished.”....."

Op-Ed: Syrian refugee crisis is going to require long-term help

Amnesty International
26 July 2012

"A tense political situation deteriorates; violence rapidly escalates with dire effects on the civilian population – people are killed indiscriminately, property is destroyed and what starts as a slow trickle of refugees into neighbouring countries becomes a deluge.

That was Iraq in 2006. In 2012 it is Syria.

And there is a tragic irony because Syria is not only Iraq's immediate neighbour but also a country that was host to more than one million Iraqi refugees at the height of the displacement crisis.

It's not only Syrians that are leaving everything behind to flee the horrors of war. It's also the Iraqis, Palestinians and others who had found safety in Syria, now twice displaced.

I returned from Jordan last week, where I was looking into the situation of refugees from Syria. The journey out of Syria is rife with dangers. To make it into Jordan, refugees have to go through areas filled with Syrian military troops. Typically, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) escorts them while they sneak between military outposts and until they reach the Syrian side of the border with Jordan.

If they are discovered, and it happens, they are shot at with heavy gunfire. Refugees report that the shooting is indiscriminate; single men or families with children, all are targeted. That people continue to take these risks is testament to what they have suffered and witnessed.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, has so far registered more than 35,000 Syrians in Jordan but the unofficial total is believed to be substantially higher......."

Thursday, July 26, 2012

حزب الله : من لايبكي شهداء تفجير خلية الازمة لا يحق له البكاء على شهداء سوريا

 عمار الموسوي 300x225 حزب الله : من لايبكي شهداء تفجير خلية الازمة لا يحق له البكاء على شهداء سوريا
مسؤول العلاقات الدولية في حزب الله

رأى مسؤول العلاقات الدولية في “حزب الله” السيد عمار الموسوي أن “الموقف الصيني تجاه الأزمة في سوريا لا تمليه أي مصالح خاصة بل إنه موقف مرتبط بتمسك الصين بالحفاظ على الاستقرار في هذه المنطقة من العالم”.
وأكد خلال لقائه السفير الصيني أن “مواقف بعض القوى الغربية أصبحت سافرة لناحية التحريض على العنف”، معتبراً أن “من يبارك عملية التفجير التي أودت بحياة عدد من القادة العسكريين السوريين ليس له بعد ذلك أن يتباكى على أرواح الضحايا من الشعب السوري سواء المدنيين أو العسكريين”.

Hassan Nasrallah : What is going on in Homs ? there is nothing going on in Homs

Analysis: The myth of Palestinian neutrality in Syria

On July 14, thousands of Palestinian refugees marched in a funeral procession for 11 unarmed protesters shot dead by Syrian security forces in the al-Yarmouk refugee camp. Raucous and seething with rage, mourners chanted for Syria and Palestine, called for the downfall of Bashar Assad’s regime, and sang for freedom.

Whether this burgeoning civil disobedience movement will grow into an open, durable rebellion remains to be seen, but the significance and the potential influence of the latest wave of protests that has swept Syria’s largest Palestinian camp cannot be overlooked.

As the Syrian uprising gathered momentum and the Syrian regime escalated its repression against what started out as a peaceful revolt, concerns have emerged about the impact of the uprising on Palestinian refugees in Syria, who make up just over 2 percent of Syria’s total population.

The Palestinian political elite in Syria have been divided. Some factions have desperately attempted to appear neutral, distancing themselves from the unrest. Others, such as Ahmad Jibril’s PFLP-GC, Fatah al-Intifada, and the Palestinian-Baathist militia al-Sa’iqa, have actively supported the regime, bolstering its propaganda campaigns and crushing civil dissent inside the camps.

In stark contrast to the moribund, aging political leadership, Palestinian-Syrian youth activists, who prior to the eruption of the uprising had focused their activism on Palestine, have participated in the uprising since the very beginning as demonstrators; organizers of aid and relief work for wounded and internally-displaced Syrians; or as citizen journalists, photographers and media activists. The hub of their activism, however, remained outside the camps for most of the uprising.

Never were the tensions among Syria’s Palestinians as discernible as during the aftermath of last year’s Naksa Day protests on June 5, when dozens of unarmed Palestinians were killed by the Israeli occupation army in the occupied Golan Heights border area. Yarmouk inhabitants and martyrs’ families set the PFLP-GC building ablaze in a strong denunciation of the faction’s role in mobilizing to instigate the youths to march back home without any protection despite the anticipated deadly reaction by the Israeli army.

The faction engaged in a pathetically naked attempt to deflect attention from the regime’s crackdown. Several Palestinians were killed in the clashes that ensued between Yarmouk residents and armed PFLP-GC gunmen following the funeral. However, with the exception of the Syrian navy's attack on the al-Raml refugee camp last summer and the occasional Syrian army shelling on refugee camps in Daraa, Hama and Homs, the situation in the refugee camps remained cautiously quiet.

Intifada in the camps

Since February, the al-Yarmouk camp has regularly held protests in solidarity with the besieged Syrian cities and towns. It participated in the Damascus general strike on May 29, 2012. The protests would normally pass quietly without being attacked by Syrian security forces.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was the abduction and then killing of 13 Palestinian Liberation Army fighters from the Nayrab refugee camp in Aleppo. Though the identity of the killers is unknown, the killings sparked a large protest in Yarmouk on July 12, and an even larger protest the next day. Buoyant chants of “God bless the Free Syrian Army”, “From Syria to Palestine, one people not two”, and “Long live Syria and down with Assad” echoed in the camp’s streets. The Syrian army opened fire at protesters and for the first time, clashes between the regime army and the FSA broke out inside the camp, marking a significant tipping point. The Local Coordination Committee of Yarmouk camp called for mass protests and a general strike to protest the killings.

Jihad Makdissi, the spokesman of the Syrian Foreign Ministry, described Palestinians in Syria as “guests” and cynically told them to “leave Syria for one of the Arab democracies” if they misbehave. Makdissi’s Facebook statement, which he later deleted, triggered outrage and highlighted the complicated nature of Palestinian participation in the uprising.

“We always warned against pushing the camp into the uprising, but no one listened,” tweeted an anti-Assad Yarmouk resident following the massacre. The International Committee of the Red Cross recently described the situation in Syria as a civil war. Thus, concerns of being “stuck” in the middle of a civil war or intervening in “internal” affairs are perfectly legitimate and understandable. Active opposition to the Syrian regime poses serious risks to Palestinian refugees.

The most imminent scenario is that the general violence that has marred the country for the last 16 months would spill over to the camps. Despite their under-privileged status as stateless refugees, Palestinians in refugee camps have been relatively safer than neighboring Syrian districts in besieged cities, leading several internally displaced families to seek asylum in the Palestinian camps. Meanwhile, the regime has mostly avoided launching direct attacks on refugee camps, particularly Yarmouk, in order not to alienate an already divided population.

However, as shown by the attack on unarmed protesters in Yarmouk, the Syrian regime has not backed down on attacking Palestinian refugees, dare they “misbehave.”

The situation could further deteriorate in the event of clashes between the regime army and armed opposition fighters. Yarmouk camp is a strategically important area that borders Midan, Tadamun, and al-Hajar al-Aswad -- Damascene neighborhoods that have seen intense clashes between the army and the FSA in the last few days. This raises the possibility that the camp could turn into a niche area of battle. A less likely – but perhaps more dangerous – scenario is an intra-Palestinian collision between regime loyalists and opponents. The clashes that followed the Naksa Day protests last year served to expose the tensions enveloping the Palestinian community in Syria; the current unrest could foment them.

The searing memories of the destruction of Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in north Lebanon are still haunting and vivid five years on; the fears of a similar scenario taking place in Syria are not completely far-fetched despite the glaring differences between the two situations.

The myth of neutrality

In spite of the aforementioned perils, the participation of Palestinian-Syrian youth in the uprising seems inevitable and unavoidable. Contrary to Palestinian refugees in neighboring Lebanon who are dehumanized and denied basic rights, Palestinians in Syria have long enjoyed rights equal to those of Syrian citizens in most respects, including health, education and employment. Equality is not a favor that the Assad family bestowed upon Palestinians: Law 60, which grants Palestinian refugees near equality with Syrian nationals, was passed in 1956 by a democratically elected parliament under the leadership of the widely admired former president, Shoukri al-Quwatli. Though strongly bound to the Palestinian cause, many Palestinians in Syria, particularly second- and third-generation refugees, have assimilated into Syrian society.

So, how all of a sudden, have Palestinians become “outsiders” who should refrain from intervening in “internal” Syrian affairs?

The irony is especially striking since the Syrian regime has long crowned itself as the guardian of the Palestinian cause and Pan-Arabism. Moreover, it has – since the uprising – used the Palestinian cause to whitewash its crimes and defend the indefensible. Another question that begs to be asked is: What are 'internal' Syrian affairs, and what constitutes an intrusion in those affairs? Should Palestinians cease providing shelter and aid for wounded and displaced Syrians in the name of respecting “internal” affairs? Should they abstain from protesting against Assad’s military tyranny in the name of respecting Syria’s sovereignty? Not only are the boundaries extremely vague, neutrality in the Syrian crisis is a myth.

Additionally, it is impossible to expect Palestinians who were born, raised, educated in Syria – who have lived their entire lives there – to sit on the fence. It is also a false dichotomy to think that a sense of belonging to Syria negates the Palestinian identity and roots of refugees, who have a sacred, inalienable right of return to Palestine. Moreover, to claim that they are “used by both sides” is a profound insult to the Palestinians who freely chose to protest against the Syrian regime. Such a claim suggests that anti-regime Palestinians have no free will or autonomy. The Palestinian population in Syria is diverse and no one, including prominent Palestinian intellectuals and activists outside Syria, has the right to speak in their name and decide for them.

When one considers all the complexities and uncertainty plaguing the situation in Syria, staying on the sidelines no longer appears to be a feasible option.

It is both painfully ironic and incredibly moving that Yarmouk, built to host ethnically cleansed Palestinians, has now turned into a safe haven for Syrians fleeing the shelling on Tadamon and Midan; that UNRWA schools became shelters in the last few days; and that Palestinian residents of the camp have donated mattresses, meals and medicine for their wounded Syrian neighbors. These acts of solidarity have been beacons of inspiration amid the endless cycle of violence and grief that has descended upon Syria. 

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrians cross into Lebanon

The Rise of the Police State and the Absence of Mass Opposition

By James Petras

"Introduction: One of the most significant political developments in recent US history has been the virtually unchallenged rise of the police state. Despite the vast expansion of the police powers of the Executive Branch of government, the extraordinary growth of an entire panoply of repressive agencies, with hundreds of thousands of personnel, and enormous public and secret budgets and the vast scope of police state surveillance, including the acknowledged monitoring of over 40 million US citizens and residents, no mass pro-democracy movement has emerged to confront the powers and prerogatives or even protest the investigations of the police state....

Conclusion: What is to be done?

The ascendancy of the police state has benefited enormously from the phony bi-partisan de-politicization of repressive legislation, and the fragmentation of socio-economic struggles from democratic dissent. The mass anti-war movements of the early 1990’s and 2001-2003 were undermined (sold-out) by the defection of its leaders to the Democratic Party machine and its electoral agenda. The massive popular immigration movement was taken over by Mexican-American political opportunists from the Democratic Party and decimated while the same Democratic Party, under President Barack Obama, has escalated police state repression against immigrants, expelling millions of Latino immigrant workers and their families.

Historical experience teaches us that a successful struggle against an emerging police state depends on the linking of the socio-economic struggles that engage the attention of the masses of citizens with the pro-democracy, pro-civil liberty, ‘free speech’ movements of the middle classes. The deepening economic crisis, the savage cuts in living standards and working conditions and the fight to save ‘sacred’ social programs (like Social Security and Medicare) have to be tied in with the expansion of the police state. A mass social justice movement, which brings together thousands of anti-Wall Streeters, millions of pro-Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid recipients with hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers will inevitably clash with the bloated police-state apparatus. Freedom is essential to the struggle for social justice and the mass struggle for social justice is the only basis for rolling back the police state. The hope is that mass economic pain will ignite mass activity, which, in turn, will make people aware of the dangerous growth of the police state. A mass understanding of this link will be essential to any advance in the movement for democracy and people’s welfare at home and peace abroad. "

London Olympics

Tom Janssen, Cagle Cartoons, The Netherlands

Al-Jazeera Video: الجيش السوري الحر يؤكد سيطرته على 50% من حلب

Syria crisis: Aleppo battle looms - live updates

The Guardian

"....Following the Qubair massacre last month, the Syrian government appointed its own commission to investigate, but it wasn't long before reports started circulating that the head of the commission, Talal Houshan, had defected.

These reports now appear to be confirmed by a video posted on YouTube where Houshan, apparently reading a prepared statement, accuses the Syrian government and its shabiha supporters of killing women and children.

In the statement, he refers to numerous "crimes" by the regime and cites eyewitnesses...."

الانشقاق الأول في سوريا انشقاق القاضي طلال حوشان رئيس نيابة محردة

Syria: the battle for Aleppo - interactive

Fierce fighting has erupted in Syria's wealthiest city. Tanks, helicopters and aircraft are attacking rebel-held positions in the city centre

Paddy Allen and Matthew Weaver, Thursday 26 July 2012

Syria: Disturbing reports of summary killings by government and opposition forces

25 July 2012

"Reports that government forces and armed opposition groups have been deliberately and unlawfully killing captured opponents in Syria bolster the need for all sides to commit to abiding by international humanitarian law, Amnesty International said today.

Earlier this week, the bodies of 19 unarmed men and one child were found in several locations in the Damascus neighbourhood of al-Mezzeh, after – according to local activists – having been killed by government forces who suspected them of aiding rebels in the area. Activists said that some of the bodies had their hands tied behind their backs and some bore marks indicating they had been tortured before being killed.

Although Amnesty International cannot directly confirm these reports, they mirror a pattern documented by the organization elsewhere in the country.

“Amnesty International has been documenting unlawful killings carried out by state forces and government militias in Syria for months. . Our field research in northern Syria found scores of mainly men and boys – most of whom who had not been engaged in hostilities – being summarily killed by government forces, and shabiha militia members, after prolonged shelling of city districts, towns and villages suspected of harbouring opposition fighters and supporters,” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

“We have also been investigating reports that members of armed opposition groups have been responsible for the killings of captured members of the security forces [What do you do with those directly involved in war crimes? Do you release them and say, don't do it again?] and other unlawful killings. The leadership of all sides must make it clear that they will not tolerate such abuses by anyone under their command.”......"

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Special Report: Rebels promise 'fireworks' for Assad, using Afghan methods

Kim Sengupta reports from Qurqanya, where Syria's insurgents believe that using improvised explosive devices can turn the tide in their favour

The Independent
Wednesday 25 July 2012

"....The homemade Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) will not have the devastating impact of last week's bombing in the Syrian capital, which killed four of the most senior members of the security apparatus. But they are having a significant say as opposition fighters take over more of Idlib province and prepare to launch an assault on Aleppo, until recently considered a loyalist stronghold of the regime.

What is also significant is that they are being put together in an area which was until a few weeks ago under the control of the Syrian military and the Shabiha, the militia of the Alawite community from which the country's elite are drawn.

The Independent had visited these parts four months ago in the company of rebels who were apprehensive of venturing down from the hills and wooded pathways into the villages and towns. Conversations with local people were hurried affairs, which had to be abruptly terminated at the approach of the military.....

Mr Saif, an engineer who is now a revolutionary, acknowledged that he and his comrades were much better armed than before, but stressed that they suffered in comparison to the fighters with the real money, the Islamists, who were getting the lion's share of their funding from Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

"The rest of us are raising our own money, getting donations from supporters who may have good jobs. Where is the help we were promised by the SNC [Syrian National Council], the funds they are getting from all over the world?" he asked.

"I know some of my friends pretend to be very religious so that they can get some of the weapons. They grow their beards long and some of them wear short trousers like the Salafists. But we are going to have a struggle with the Salafists when the regime falls....."

The Syrian regime is not a house of glass

The authoritarian state in Syria is likely to remain in place regardless of the timing of Assad's departure

Fawaz Gerges, Wednesday 25 July 2012

"There is an assumption that once President Bashar al-Assad steps down, the authoritarian state, a family-based regime, will crash like a house of glass. But the structure of the authoritarian state in Syria is likely to remain in place regardless of the timing of his departure. The Assads have spent more than four decades safeguarding the building blocks of political authoritarianism and co-opting a broad coalition of social, political, sectarian and ethnic communities....

The question is not how long Assad can cling to power, but will the authoritarian structure survive him? Ironically, international diplomacy has mainly focused on forcing Assad out while keeping the system in place. The idea is to avoid a security vacuum (like that of Iraq after the US-led invasion and occupation in 2003) and all-out civil war that could destroy Syria's diverse social fabric and threaten neighbouring states. This means that post-Assad Syria will be fraught with severe challenges that might exacerbate and prolong its transition from political authoritarianism to pluralism."

التحديات الكبرى: المخاطر والآمال Azmi Bishara


1. بعد صمود ونضال اسطوريين وفي ظل قمع غير مسبوف تقترب الثورة السورية من هدفها الرئيسي وهو حسم مسألة تغيير النظام.
وكما توقعنا إذا لم تتوفر الحكمة قد يؤدي ذلك الى تفكيك الكيان.

2. لم يكن هذا ممكنا ولن يكون من دون نضال ملايين السوريين وعشرات آلاف الثوار المسلحين الأبطال.
ولكن منهم من يحملون آفات اجتماعية وقاموا بعمليات خطف وطلب فدية وقتل وغيره، ومنهم حالات مخترقة. فلا بد أن وكالات الدول قد استغلت الأوضاع وحاجة الثوار الطبيعية للدعم المالي واللوجستي وكراهيتهم المفهومة للنظام لإحداث اختراقات.
ومقتل 6 علماء سوريون حتى الآن مؤشر خطير. وكذلك محاولات البرزاني السيطرة على بعض المناطق بواسطة المجلس الوطني الكردي، الذي تسلح ولم يشارك في الثورة.
وإسرائيل لا تجلس وتتفرج، وكذلك المخابرات الأميركية (وهل يمكن أن يكون تغيير مدير المخابرات السعودي صدفة في سياق ما يجري في سوريا؟).
والنقاش الدائر حول السلاح الكيماوي ليس اعراب عن نية الفعل، فالفعل جار برأيي، ومن لا يرى ذلك لا يعرف معنى الدول العظمى والإقليمية، ولا معنى الصديق والعدو، ولا معنى أهمية سوريا الاستراتجية.
3. الثورة السورية هي ثورة وطنيةـ وكذلك الثوار. ولكن لا يمكن تجاهل حقيقة أنه لم تقم قيادة عسكرية تراتبية للثوار على المستوى الوطني. وهنالك ايضا خطر الاقتتال الطائفي في مناطق التماس.
4.إذا كان الهدف هو إسقاط النظام واقامة دولة المواطنة، فإن الحفاظ على الوطن، والدولة ومؤسساتها هو رديف لإسقاط النظام لا يقل عنه أهمية أبدا، فالفوضى أسوأ أنواع الاستبداد. وهذا يتطلب نقل منظم للسلطة مع تنحي بشار الأسد وفي إطار الاتفاق على خلعه. والمطلوب هو ضمان تغيير النظام نحو التحول الديمقراطي من دون تفكيك الجيش والدولة والمؤسسات ويجب أن تعمل الوزارات المختلفة في اليوم التالي: من التموين وحتى المواصلات والدفاع.
ولا يمكن تجاهل مؤسسات صمدت طيلة هذه الفترة، ولا الاستخفاف بها، ولا يمكن إنكار حقيقة أن النظام واصل القمع وقاوم السقوط حتى بعد أن جرت عملية تصفية لقياداته الأمنية. وبالتأكيد هنالك دعم روسي وإيراني، ولكن هذا لا يكفي لتفسير استمرار النظام، فهنالك أساس ما اجتماعي وهنالك مؤسسات مثل الجيش يقوم عيه نظام الاستبداد هذا، وإلا لما نفع دعم روسي أو إيراني
5. لا بد أن يشتمل الانتقال على حكومة وحدة وطنية محددة الفترة والصلاحيات وتتألف من ممثلين عن الثوار والمعارضة السياسية، وممثلين عن مؤسسات الدولة الحالية ممن لم تلطخ ايديهم بالدماء. ويجري في ظلها تثبيت الاستقرار، وضمان وحدة سوريا، ووضع دستور ديمقراطية يجري بموجبة ترتيب الانتخابات.
6. يتم ذلك بتوافق قوى الشعب السوري الرئيسية، وبمرجعياته الفكرية والوطنية وشخصياته التي لا تطمح للسلطة بل للحفاظ على البلد، ومن دون تدخل أجنبي في فرض قيادات على الناس من منطلقات التوزيع الطائفي أو غيره.
7. يجب البدء في التفكير باليوم التالي، وذلك من منطلق سوري وطني سيادي. وزاوية النظر،والمقاربة هذه هي الامتحان لمقدرة الثورة أن تتصرف كدولة. هذه هذا مبكر؟ لا ليس مبكرا، فصحيح انه لم تنته عملية إسقاط النظام، ولكن هذه المقاربة تساهم في مسألة كيفية إسقاطه،وما العمل في مراحل الثورة الأخيرة.

No Dictator, No Matter How Brutal, Can Suppress A People Like The Syrian People

(Photo courtesy of
No Dictator, No Matter How Brutal, Can Suppress A People Like The Syrian People!

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrian refugees cross border to fight

"Turkey's border region has become a safe haven for Syrians who cross the border to attack government forces.

They use old smuggling routes to evacuate injured and as a supply line for food and medicine.

Al Jazeera's Andrew Simmons meets one man who alternates living as a refugee in Turkey with time spent fighting with the Free Syrian Army."

The Most Watched Drama During Ramadan: The Syrian Drama, by Emad Hajjaj

Israel Pins Bombing on Hezbollah to Get EU Terror Ruling

By Gareth Porter

"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's claim Sunday of absolutely reliable intelligence linking Hezbollah to the bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria last week was apparently aimed at supporting his government’s determination to get the EU to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organisation....."

A war for US public opinion as Israel alleges Iranian terrorism

By Tony Karon
The National

".....Despite the relentless speculation about an imminent Israeli air strike - the one, remember, that's been "imminent" for the past three years - and despite the obvious failure of negotiations with Iran as long as western powers echo Israel's demands on Iranian uranium enrichment, Mr Netanyahu's turn on the US television suggests he's no closer to bombing Iran.

With the world economy poised on the brink of recession, the crisis in Syria potentially rewriting the Middle East geopolitical map, and his own generals repeatedly warning of the limited effect of an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities - and of the likelihood that such a strike would more likely prompt Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to opt for a nuclear deterrent - Mr Netanyahu doesn't seem poised to start a war for an operation whose risk may be inversely proportional to its rewards. The reason he headed for American TV studios was obvious: he still hopes to persuade Washington to do the job for him."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you support providing safe exit for the Syrian president in return for stepping down?

With over 400 responding so far, 71% said no.

Activists say 11 men executed by Syrian forces in Damascus

"(Reuters) - Syrian activists, who provided video of men with bullet holes in the side of their heads, said they found on Wednesday the bodies of 11 men who were executed by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in the Damascus district of Qaboun.

Footage showed 11 bloodied bodies, some in an alleyway and some inside a building. Three appeared to have been shot through their shirts, which were pulled above their heads, and one was kneeling against a wall.

Rania al-Midani, an opposition activist who lives near Qaboun, said that the men were arrested five days ago in a nearby district.

"Activists found them today in Tishreen alley. They thought these men were in jail. They could only enter the alleyway today to find their bodies as it was previously occupied by (pro-Assad militia) shabbiha," she told Reuters over Skype.

Assad's forces and plain-clothed shabbiha militiamen are accused of several massacres, including the May 25 killing of at least 108 people, nearly half of them children, in Homs province, which was later verified by United Nations monitors on the ground."

Why tribes matter in Syria

Tribes neglected and exploited by the Baathist regime in Damascus for decades are mobilising for life after Assad

Hassan Hassan, Wednesday 25 July 2012

"....Unlike other opposition figures who have little power base in Syrian society, Fares leads a powerful clan in the east of the country. His clan is part of the Egaidat tribal confederation, the largest and most prominent in that area, with at least 1.5 million members across 40% of Syria's territory. It also has kinship links to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.

The Arab Gulf states' aggressive stance towards the Assad regime has been driven by these ties as well as by their anti-Iranian sentiment. From the early weeks of the uprising, members of the Syrian tribes in Deraa were appealing to their "cousins" in the Gulf to help them......

Tribal leaders who openly opposed the Assad regime have become a source of pride to their tribes. Nawaf al-Bashir, a leader of a prominent tribe in Syria, Iraq and the Gulf, is a popular figure because he joined the uprising early on. Previously, Bashir was a member of the Syrian parliament and represented the country in parliamentary delegations to the Gulf.

According to Kassar al-Jarrah, a cousin of Fares, all the Egaidat tribal leaders in Syria have called to express solidarity with the defected ambassador – despite historical rivalry. "They said that [Fares] has raised our heads high," Jarrah said. "Their respect for him has increased after he defected. The old tensions and competition have disappeared after his honourable act.".....

The tribes have been neglected, sidelined and exploited by the Baathist regime in Damascus for decades but in a democratic Syria that will certainly change. Members of the tribes inside and outside the country are organising themselves and have certain expectations when the regime falls.

"The tribes are handling the situation on the ground now [in the absence of government institutions] in terms of solving problems and maintaining social harmony," says Hussain Abdullatif, a senior member of the opposition Deir Ezzor Council in Doha. "It is true that the Free Syrian Army and activists are leading the battles against the regime but they generally follow the rules of their tribes."....."

Syria crisis: western troops 'increasingly likely' to intervene

Fears growing that violence will provoke wider conflict involving Iranian- and Saudi-backed forces, security experts warn, Tuesday 24 July 2012

"Western military intervention in the Syrian crisis is "looking increasingly likely" because the conflict is now in danger of provoking violence across the Arab world that could lead to cross-border invasions, a report has warned.

The study, by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), finds fears that President Assad's regime may turn to its stockpile of chemical weapons, or that these devices may be stolen in the chaos of the civil war. It says these concerns have intensified "the sense of imminent international conflict that is gripping the region".

The broader implications of the violence inside Syria are now of more concern to diplomats than the human misery inside the country, and these anxieties are making the west rethink its strategy of non-intervention, it reports......"

Trapped – Palestinian refugees from Syria talk to Amnesty International

By Noor Al-Bazzaz, member of Amnesty International’s Syria research team

"It was the shelling that finally drove Abu al-‘Izz to flee his native Syria. In the Bashabsheh transit camp in al-Ramtha he says: “I could not bear the shelling any longer, I had to leave to save my family”. We got the same response from Syrians and Palestinian refugees also fleeing the violence in Syria whom I met in Jordan.

In the past two weeks hundreds of refugees from Syria have reportedly entered Jordan daily, mostly from Dera’a governorate. Almost everyone I spoke to said they were smuggled out of Syria and delivered to Jordan’s unofficial border crossings by the Free Syrian Army.

The journey they say is long and dangerous, often paved with snipers and check points. Mothers spoke of giving their children sleeping medicine so that they do not make a noise during the journey and attract attention from security forces.

A woman tells me: “There were three hundred of us leaving that night, if my baby cried she could have caused three hundred deaths.” Holding her baby up to me, she laughed. ”Can you imagine this little one responsible for three hundred lives?”....

For Palestinian refugees leaving Syria, however, the risk of the journey could well be outweighing the prospect of safety and stability in Jordan, amid reports of restrictions on them at the Jordanian borders and inside the transit camps.

If so, this could be leaving many Palestinians trapped under shelling in Syria with nowhere to go....."

Al-Jazeera Video: في العمق |عزمي بشارة الديمقراطية ومفهومها 23\7\2012


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: Fight for Aleppo intensifies in Syria

"Syrian army helicopters fired rockets and machineguns near central Aleppo on Tuesday as they battled rebels trying to enlarge their foothold in the country's second city, forcing residents to flee. Residents said fighter jets were flying over some rebel-held neighbourhoods, and that helicopters were firing at eastern and southern parts of the city located around only three kilometres east of Aleppo's ancient citadel in the city centre. Al Jazeera's Stefanie Dekker reports on the battle for Aleppo."

Syrian envoy to Cyprus defects

Syrian charge d'affaires to Cyprus Lamia al-Hariri has defected, becoming the second diplomat to leave her post in July, Al Jazeera has learned.
Al-Hariri's defection on Tuesday brings to three the number of senior diplomats to quit the embattled government.

The first was Bassam Imadi, who was the Syrian ambassador to Sweden until December, and the second was Nawaf Fares, the ambassador to Iraq, who defected earlier in July.
Tuesday's defection deals a harsh blow to the Syrian government as the regime battles a near 17-month-old uprising.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Imadi said that Hariri's defection is also significant because she is the niece of Farouk al-Sharaa, Syria's vice president.

"It must be very embarassing to the regime that one of his [Sharaa's] closest officials is defecting," he said. 
Imadi added that other Syrian ambassadors, including the envoys to Germany, the Czech Republic, and Belarussia, had defected, but have not announced it publicly due to fears over government reprisals. 

Another top defector Brigadier General Manaf Tlass called on Tuesday for the Syrian military to denounce what he described as crimes committed by President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

"I address one of the Syrian Arab Army's sons who reject the criminal behaviour of this corrupt regime. The honourable people in the military would not accept these crimes," Tlas said in a televised statement on al-Arabiya television.
Tlass, a close friend of Syrian President Bashar Assad and a son of a former defence minister, said that Syrians should work together to build a new, democratic country.
It was his first public appearance since he left Syria earlier this month. His long silence raised questions about whether he had joined the anti-Assad uprising or merely fled the civil war.

Aleppo under fire
Meanwhile, Syrian army helicopters fired rockets and machineguns near central Aleppo on Tuesday as they battled rebels trying to enlarge their foothold in the country's second city, forcing residents to flee.
Residents said fighter jets were flying over some rebel-held neighbourhoods, and that helicopters were firing at eastern and southern parts of the city located around only 3km east of Aleppo's ancient citadel in the city centre.

"Almost everyone has fled in panic, even my family. I have stayed to try to stop the looters, we hear they often come after an area is shelled," he added.
"I heard at least 20 rockets fired, I think from helicopters, and also a lot of machinegun fire," said a resident near one of the areas being shelled, who asked only to be identified by his first name Omar.

The bombing came as Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, insisted there was still time for Bashar al-Assad, the president, to hand over power, stressing the pace of events in Syria was speeding up.
"We do believe that it is not too late for the Assad regime to commence with planning for a transition to find a way that ends the violence," she told reporters, adding that things were "accelerating inside Syria".

The Arab League, meeting in Qatar on Monday, called on al-Assad to quit, but Syrian officials dismissed the the bloc's call saying it was "hypocritical" and that some members of the league were backing the rebels fighting the Syrian regime.
Government forces were also seeking to quell a mutiny in the city's central prison, where eight people were killed, the Observatory said.
The rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) described the mutiny as "the first step towards the liberation" of Aleppo.
Elsewhere in the country, the Local Co-ordination Committees, which organises opposition forces on the ground, reported renewed shelling in parts of Damascus, including in the Barzeh district where the neighbourhood's mosque was reported damaged by intense shelling.
The army pushed into dissident districts in the south, entering the Kaddam and al-Assali areas where they carried out raids and arrests, the Observatory said.
The London-based group put Tuesday's death toll across the country at 48 by mid-afternoon.
Many Damascus residents remain displaced by the recent fighting and were in need of humanitarian assistance, the International Commission of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.
"Although the situation has calmed down in some parts of the city, life is not back to normal," said Marianne Gasser, the ICRC's head of delegation in Syria.
"People who have fled their homes only want to be able to go back. Unfortunately, for many, there has not yet been any opportunity to do so."

Insight: Assad chemical weapons plans blocked by Moscow

" (Reuters) - Increasingly under pressure by rebels intent on unseating him, Bashar al-Assad has considered using chemical weapons against his enemies but Washington and Moscow have formed an unlikely alliance to force him to abandon such plans.

Analysts and diplomats across the region and beyond do not doubt that the Assad government, recoiling from a devastating attack on its security establishment last week and struggling to contain rebel offensives across Syria, is capable of using agents such as Sarin gas if its survival is at stake.

Yet some believe that the government's unprecedented admission that it possesses a chemical stockpile - although in safe storage and only to be deployed against "external aggressors" - is an attempt to allay international alarm that might prompt outside intervention to secure the weapons.

"They have a keen instinct for regime survival and this is an issue which didn't play well for them, which would really bring serious consequences, not the type of stuff we have been seeing so far from the international community," said Salman al-Shaikh of the Brookings Doha center.

"I think they wanted to move quickly to take us away from that, to reassure in many ways.

"This regime is capable of anything, but in this case it felt there may well be consequences, that they are perhaps crossing some red lines.".....

One Western diplomat in the region said: "There was talk of them using it two weeks ago, but the Russians intervened quickly to stop him.

"If you think how desperate these people are and what they have done in the past, you have to assume they would be prepared to use it. All of us think he (Assad) is capable of using it and will do it if he was pushed to the wall," the diplomat said, referring to credible reports that Assad was preparing to use Sarin gas against Syrian rebels.

But "the Russians got hold of him and told him ‘don't even think about it'".

Moscow went further on Monday, publicly warning Assad not to use chemical weapons, which it said was barred by Syria's 1968 ratification of an international protocol against using poison gas in war......

The diplomat believes Syria's statement, by foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi, was put out at Russia's insistence......

Some Western intelligence sources suggested that Hezbollah and Iran's Revolutionary Guards, both close allies of Syria, have sent some special units to back Assad in his fight against Sunni insurgents and might get hold of the chemical weapons in the case of a total collapse of government authority...."

Al-Jazeera Video: Witness - Syria: Smugglers with a cause

"Syria's opposition activists and the Free Syria Army are hugely under-equipped and rely on meagre supplies trickling over the borders from Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. A network of Syrian activists on both sides of the Syria-Turkey border organises the smuggling of vital supplies into the country to support the resistance, as well as getting refugees out."

Al-Jazeera Video: Lebanon border town dragged into Syria unrest

"The Syrian army has strengthened its positions along the northeastern border with Lebanon to prevent weapons being smuggled in and fighters from entering.

Syria's opposition groups have made use of this largely porous territory. Many of those fleeing or wounded in the violence have been brought to Lebanon through the border.

Some Lebanese border villages, such as Mashariaa al-Qaa, have been dragged into the Syrian conflict.

Since the uprising began, Syrian security forces have slipped into the town in pursuit of what they call "armed terrorist groups".

The Lebanese government has made numerous complaints to the Syrian authorities but the incursions have not stopped.
Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports from north-eastern Lebanon."

Al-Jazeera Video: لقاء اليوم - عبد المنعم أبو الفتوح.. المسار السياسي في م

Al-Jazeera Video: حديث الثورة - المعارضة السورية وإدارة المرحلة الانتقال

A Great Cartoon by Khalil Bendib: Thank You Bashar!

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)
With Enemies Like These Who Needs Friends? Indeed.

Crumbling Butcher of Damascus Protesting "Interference," by Emad Hajjaj

Palestinian officials silenced by fear of Obama "reprisals" says Washington Post reporter

By Ali Abunimah

"Are Palestinian Authority officials afraid of “reprisals” from the Obama administration if they criticize US policy? It would seem so, according to a Washington Post reporter.

On 14 July, The Washington Post’s Scott Wilson wrote a lengthy analysis headlined “Where Obama failed on forging peace in the Middle East.”
MJ Rosenberg pithily summed it up on his blog:

Obama was naive. Too insensitive to Israel, Netanyahu and the Holocaust. Plus, he ignored sage advice of Dennis Ross, Abe Foxman & other Jewish organizational wise men. And he used word “occupation.”

On Twitter, I took Wilson to task for another reason – the reliance on Israel lobby sources and the absence of Palestinian perspectives, asking Wilson via Twitter, “I’d really like an explanation for why you think it’s ok to completely ignore and exclude Palestinians. Don’t they matter?”....."

Syrian forces battle rebel push on central Aleppo

"(Reuters) - Syrian troops fought rebels trying to seize central Aleppo on Tuesday and quelled a jail mutiny on the outskirts of the northern city, killing 15 prisoners, opposition activists said.
After a week of battles between President Bashar al-Assad's forces and his opponents in Damascus, fighting intensified in Aleppo, a more populous commercial city that long seemed immune to the 16-month-old upheaval convulsing Syria.

Rebels seeking to capture downtown Aleppo were combating Syrian troops and intelligence men at the gates of the Old City, a U.N. World Heritage site, residents and activists said.

The deaths in the prison mutiny were caused when Assad's forces used machineguns and teargas on inmates overnight, activists in contact with surviving prisoners said......"

What Do Egyptians Know

Analysis by Cam McGrath

"During the uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 29-year rule, Egyptian protesters stormed state security headquarters in Cairo. Inside they discovered a trove of documents – including surveillance reports on activists, transcripts of telephone conversations, and intercepted emails – that revealed the meticulous records the state kept on the activities of its citizens....

Rights advocates say the battle to make the military and other public agencies more accountable to the people goes beyond the drafting of freedom of information legislation. Egypt has a number of pre-existing laws that restrict access to government-held documents and data.

They say it is imperative that any new FOIL explicitly supersedes all previous laws, or that the right to information is enshrined in the new constitution, due to be drafted soon."

المقاومة الاسلامية خارج الموضوع!


المقاومة الاسلامية خارج الموضوع!
الياس خوري

"وضع الخطاب الأخير للسيد حسن نصرالله النقاط على حروف الخروج النهائي لحزبه من الموضوع الذي يعصف بالعالم العربي، ويضع سورية اليوم في مفترق انتصار ثورة شعبها. فات السيد نصرالله ان يلاحظ بأن النظام الأسدي يتهاوى بسواعد السوريين وموتهم الكثير من دون اي تدخل عسكري خارجي. لكن خطأه الكبير الذي اخرج حزبه من الموضوع لا يكمن فقط في رثاء 'رفاق السلاح' من جلاوزة الأمن السوري الذين اذاقوا الناس الهوان، بل ايضا في رفضه المطلق الاعتراف بحق السوريين في الخروج من نظام السلالة الأسدية التي لا شرعية لها.
لقد وصل مسار حزب الله الى الطريق المسدود، وهو طريق محفوف بالمخاطر، لكنه يشير للأسف الى ان المقاومة الاسلامية اللبنانية التي ورثت المقاومة الفلسطينية في لبنان، لم تتعلم من الماضي سوى دروس تقنية، وقامت بتكرار الأخطاء السابقة، مضيفة اليها خطأ قاتلا اسمه تطييف المقاومة ومذهبتها، بحيث يسهل عزلها عن كثير من اللبنانيين، ويضعها في تناقض صارخ ومخيف مع محيطها العربي.
خرج حزب الله من انتصاره الأول عام 2000، عندما فرض الانسحاب على الجيش الاسرائيلي المحتل بهالة البطولة، وخرج من انتصاره الثاني في حرب تموز/يوليو عام 2006 بهالة القوة. هالتان جرى تبديدهما، وتمّ اغراقهما في المستنقع الطائفي اللبناني، قبل ان تأتي الثورة السورية لتسرّع من عملية التبديد هذه، وتوصلها الى نهاياتها المنطقية.
ورث حزب الله من المقاومة الفلسطينية اشباح الحروب الأهلية. والحق يقال ان الحزب تعامل بحذر شديد مع هذه الأشباح، وحاول تلافيها خصوصا عبر ادائه المتسامح في الجنوب اللبناني المحرر. واستطاع ان يمنع الانتقامات العشوائية، مدللا على نضج استثنائي، تجاوز فيه وحشية التطهير الطائفي الذي رافق الحرب الأهلية اللبنانية في مراحلها المختلفة. اضافة الى ذلك، فقد نجح الحزب في ابراز جدية عسكرية تثير الاعجاب، فاستخدم الدعم الايراني المفتوح بالسلاح والمال من اجل بناء جيش حقيقي قادر على الصمود والحاق الأذى والهزائم بالاحتلال الاسرائيلي.
لكن ما لم يستطع حزب الله التنبّه اليه هو مأزق تركيبته نفسها، فنجاحه في بناء قوته المقاتلة داخل ارضه الجنوبية، كان عنوان فشله في بناء هذه القوة خارجها. والحق ان هذا الحزب لم يكن قادرا على التوسع خارج بيئته الطائفية، فهو حزب اصولي ديني، يتبع منظومة ولاية الفقيه التي اسسها الخميني في ايران، وهو تاليا حزب اقلية مذهبية، تعيش في لبنان، وسط غابة الطوائف الاسلامية والمسيحية الأخرى.
لذا حاول الحزب تجاوز مأزقه البنيوي عبر نسج تحالفين: الأول اقليمي، وهو تابع كليا للتحالفات الايرانية، والثاني محلي، وهو جزء من منظومة التحالف الأول، لكن اليد العليا فيه هي للنظام السوري.
التحالف الأول اوقعه في قبضة التماهي مع نظام آل الأسد في سورية، والتحالف الثاني ادخله في تماس مباشر مع الحرب الأهلية التي حاول جاهدا الخروج منها.
رثاء نصرالله الأخير لجنرالات القمع في سورية ذكّرنا بالبندقية الاسرائيلية التي غنمها المقاومون واهداها الأمين العام لحزب الله الى والي عنجر رستم غزالي. لكن ما هو اكثر اهمية من الهدية هو الانزلاق الى حافة الحرب الأهلية، على ايقاع الصراع الاقليمي الكبير الذي تقوده ايران الخمينية في المنطقة.
التوترات اللبنانية المتوالية احدثت ثقوبا في جسد المقاومة، لكنها لم تستطع تمزيقه، وذلك لأن وعي الناس في العالم العربي كان وسيبقى مشدودا الى الصراع مع الاحتلال الاسرائيلي، وهذا ما سمح لحزب الله، على الرغم من كل اخطائه البنيوية وتكتيكاته السياسية، في البقاء جزءا من وعي عربي يسعى الى مقاومة الهزيمة والاذلال اللذين تلحقهما دولة الاحتلال بالفلسطينيين والعرب.
غير ان الخطأ القاتل الذي وقع فيه حزب الله، ولم يسبق للمقاومة الفلسطينية ان وقعت فيه، هو تماهيه المطلق مع نظام يقتل الشعب السوري ويدمر مدن سورية وقراها.
كان منتظرا من حزب مقاوم ان يعلن على الاقل فتح بيوت اللبنانيين وقلوبهم للاجئين السوريين، ورفض الخطاب العنصري الذي يتفشى في بعض الاوساط اللبنانية ضد الشعب السوري. لكن السيد لم يكتف بتجاهل هذه المسألة، متناسيا الكرم الشعبي السوري مع اللاجئين اللبنانيين عام 2006، بل رثى جنرالات القمع، واعلن تماديه في التماهي الكامل مع نظام القتلة في سورية.
لا شك ان المقاومة الفلسطينية، في مرحلتها اللبنانية، ارتكبت الكثير من الأخطاء في تحالفاتها العربية، لكنها رغم ذلك، فتحت ابوابها للمعارضين العراقيين والسوريين والمصريين وغيرهم، ولم تنس ان دعمها وقوتها يأتيان من الشعوب لا من الأنظمة. واذا كان من نقطة سوداء في هذا التاريخ فهي تسليم المناضل السعودي ناصر السعيد الى موته الوحشي، وكان ذلك اشارة لا تخطىء الى بداية الافول.
لا يستطيع المواطن العربي ان يفهم لماذا وضع حزب مقاوم نفسه في خندق اعداء الشعب السوري! لماذا نقاوم اذا؟ الف باء المقاومة هو الدفاع عن كرامة الانسان وحريته. كيف تقوم المقاومة بتوجيه خطابها ضد الشعب؟
هنا تأتي لحظة الحقيقة التي حاولت المقاومة الاسلامية عدم الاعتراف بها. فالبنية الطائفية المذهبية ترسم الحدود، والقيادة الايرانية هي من يقرر، والتحاف مع نظام آل الأسد صار لعنة المقاومة ونقطة ضعفها.
صحيح ان الثورة السورية هي عنوان تغيير كبير في المنطقة، وصحيح ايضا ان الغرب يدعم تغيير النظام السوري بالكلام على الأقل. لكن من قال ان روسيا البوتينية ليست غربا وقوة استعمارية هي ايضا؟ ومن قال ان الخليج بعد انتصار الشعوب في المشرق والمغرب، سوف يبقى مركز العالم العربي وسوف يستولي على قرارات ثورة واجهت آلة البغي الوحشية من دون خوف؟ ومن قال ان رياح التغيير سوف تتوقف عند حدود سورية؟ واخيرا من قال ان البكاء على من اقفل جبهة الجولان اربعين عاما، هو افضل لتحرير الجولان من الوقوف الى جانب شعب يناضل من اجل كرامته وتحرير ارادته وارضه؟
خرجت المقاومة الاسلامية من الصورة، وصارت خارج الموضوع. هذا هو بؤس البنية الطائفية اللبنانية الذي افترس عمل اجيال من المقاومات: الفلسطينية والوطنية اللبنانية والاسلامية، وقام بتبديدها.
لا شيء يغفر الأخطاء اللبنانية القاتلة التي لا ترى تضحيات الشعب السوري الا من خلال عيون طائفية ضيقة، معتقدة انها تستطيع توظيف ما يجري هناك في لعبة الكراسي الطائفية هنا.
غير ان الأسى والحزن الذي يتركه موقف المقاومة الاسلامية في النفوس كبير وخطير، ويستدعي استئناف العمل من اجل تحرير فكرة المقاومة من كل ما علق بها من اخطاء وخطايا. المشرق العربي وخصوصا البلاد الشامية لا تزال في حاجة الى مقاومة شاملة للاحتلال الاسرائيلي، وهذا لن يبدأ الا بعد انتصار الثورة الديمقراطية في سورية.