Saturday, August 4, 2012

Syria: inside Aleppo - in pictures (11 photos)

Syrian rebels capture an army tank

Syrian government forces and Free Syrian Army fighters are clashing in Aleppo as more rebels pour in to confront regime loyalists as what is being seen as a looming, decisive battle, Saturday 4 August 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: Al Jazeera's correspondent reports from Syria's Aleppo

"Al Jazeera's Ahmed Zeidan, reporting from Aleppo, said: "There has been heavy bombardment in different neighbourhoods in Aleppo: in Shaar, in Bab al-Nayrab and al-Sakhour. We have no information on casualties."

"We have witnessed fighter [jets] bombing heavily in these neighbourhoods," he said.
"The violence comes against the backdrop of the Free Syrian Army's capturing of different sections in Old Aleppo today.""

Al-Jazeera Video: UK cannot stop Assange flight to Ecuador

"A top Spanish lawyer acting for the Wikilieaks founder Julian Assange says Britain would have to allow Assange safe passage to Ecuador - should the South American country offers him asylum.

Assange, who faces extradition to Sweden to face rape allegations, has been in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for six weeks now.

Al Jazeera's Emma Hayward reports."

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrian smugglers operations booming in Jordan

"People have been smuggling goods across the Jordan-Syrian border for decades, and While the civil war plays out inside Syria, the materials that sustain the opposition trickle in over the borders.

They include guns and medical supplies.

And the people who smuggle them in are taking huge risks.

Al Jazeera's Stefanie Dekker reports from the Jordan-Syria border."

Guardian Video: Syrian violence in cities across the country

Unverified video obtained from social media shows the bombardment of Syrian cities on Friday. MiG fighter jets are seen over Aleppo, and the damage of shelling is seen in Damascus, Hama and Homs. The battle for Syria's largest city Aleppo has intensified in the last days, Saturday 4 August 2012

A week in Aleppo - witnessing the fierce battle for Syria's largest city

A woman walks through rubble from a building destroyed by shelling from forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in downtown Aleppo

Amid the stench of death and the legacy of settled scores, the sound of Beyonce echoes in the Ramadan evening

Kim Sengupta
Salheddine, Aleppo
Saturday 04 August 2012
The Independent

".....There are killings taking place elsewhere in Aleppo, often in secret, scores being settled after 40 years of authoritarian rule and human rights abuses. Particular targets of vengeance are the Shabiha, the paramilitary loyal to President Basher al-Assad, and the secret police, the Mukhabarat. At one police station I find bodies of dead officials shot in the backs of their head. “Were they killed after they surrendered?” I asked. A young rebel fighter grinned and said: “They didn’t surrender, they were caught,” before being angrily told to shut his mouth by an older colleague......"

Two killed in Saudi Arabia clashes

A soldier and an alleged gunman died, with one soldier wounded, in a shootout during Shia protests in Qatif, in the oil-rich Eastern Province, Saturday 4 August 2012

"Two people have been killed in clashes between soldiers and Shia protesters in eastern Saudi Arabia, state media reported.

A soldier and a Shia gunman were killed in a shootout in the city of Qatif late on Friday, according to the interior ministry.

Spokesman Mansour Turki told the state news agency SPAs that a security patrol was shot at by four men on motorbikes. Another soldier was wounded in the incident. Four protesters were arrested, including one who was taken to hospital after suffering a bullet wound.

The deaths bring to 11 the number of people killed in the Qatif area since November. The oil-rich Eastern Province is home to a Shia majority that has long complained of marginalisation......"

سلامة كيلة لعــ48ـرب: الثورة السورية بين متنازعين؛ والعمل الشعبي ما زال هو الأساس

لقاء خاص لموقع عــ48ـرب مع الكاتب والمفكر الفلسطيني سلامة كيلة حول آخر التطورات في سوريا.

عــ48ـرب/ ربيع عيد

"*الثورة السورية بين متنازعين: الاول شعبي مدني والثاني عسكري مسلح

*السعودية تدعم جماعات أصولية في سوريا خوفا من وصول الثورة اليها

*الحديث عن حرب أهلية في سوريا هو حديث مٌضلل

*الإنشقاقات في بنية السلطة ما زالت ضعيفة جدا

*بشار الاسد ليس الحاكم الحقيقي بقدر ما هو واجهة للدولة

*هنالك أصوات في المعارضة تخدم خطاب النظام في تخويف الأقليات

*من الصعب توحيد المعارضة كون مصالحها متناقضة

*الشباب الفلسطيني مشارك في الثورة منذ البداية

*في سوريا يوجد طُغم مالية امبريالية روسية بدل الامريكية

*اليسار الحقيقي بدأ يُنظم نفسه خلال الثورة

*إسقاط النظام يجب أن يقضي الى تأسيس دولة مدنية ديمقراطية معنية بالصراع مع الإمبريالية والصهيونية

Friday, August 3, 2012

Mitt Romney's 'other things'

The Republican candidate's comments on Israel's economic success is intellectually lazy and historically myopic

By Mark LeVine

"It's the kind of remark we might have expected from President George W Bush. Looking out over a sea of wealthy Israeli Jews and Jewish American donors in Jerusalem, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney declared that the reason Israeli society is so much more developed than its Palestinian counterpart comes down to "at least culture and a few other things".......

Yet if Romney would have read Landes' book more carefully, or better, have read Ibn Khaldun (whom Landes barely acknowledges), he'd realise that even the greatest empires and the most unique cultures rise and fall over the course of history; their success pushing rivals to adapt and innovate as they become arrogant, complacent and overstretched. The balance of power has already shifted in the United States' relationship with the rest of the world. Israel has so far avoided such a fate, because of the continued asymmetry in the balance of power with its neighbours and adversaries, and the unhesitant backing of the US that guarantees its military superiority and political unaccountability.

As the Arab world continues with its fitful transformation away from the old authoritarian order and towards more open societies and representative forms of government, a "new Middle East" will begin to emerge, one that is as different from the Israel-centred economic and cultural union envisioned by Shimon Peres and the architects of the now defunct Oslo order as the emerging global system is from the triumphalist predictions of unchallenged US power by neocons and neoliberals a generation ago.

Ultimately, if both countries don't take a much more honest look at their histories and the dynamics shaping the present, they will find themselves confronting strategic environments in which egoistic self-congratulation, historical amnesia and brute force hasten rather than check the slide into national and imperial decline."

Charles Glass: With Annan’s Exit & Influx of Foreign Arms, Syria’s Violence "Seems the Only Way Out"

Democracy Now!

"The U.N.-Arab League special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, has announced his resignation after failing to bring an end to more than a year of violence. Both sides of the conflict have faced new accusations of committing atrocities this week amidst escalating clashes. We discuss the situation in Syria and the likely impact of Annan’s resignation with Charles Glass, former ABC News Chief Middle East Correspondent, and author of the soon to be reissued book on Syria, "Tribes with Flags." Glass spent 10 days in Syria this summer. "Annan’s resignation is a serious setback for anyone who’d hope that there could be a diplomatic resolution of this conflict," Glass says. "This is clearly an indication that diplomacy is failing and ... warfare seems to be the only way out."....."

Real News Video : The Syrian Civil War and Big Power Rivalry

Sami Ramadani: The US and allied regional powers pushed early militarization of struggle as outside powers try to control outcome of Syrian revolution

More at The Real News

Mitt Romney, Palestinian culture and white supremacism: responses worth reading

By Ali Abunimah

"US Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney generated a backlash with his claims in Jerusalem that the vast (20:1) disparity in income between Israelis and Palestinians can be explained by a superior Jewish Israeli culture and “the hand of providence” – rather than by the systematic depradations of Israeli occupation on the economy of Palestinians.

Romney’s comments suggesting the inferiority of Palestinian culture are only the latest racist attacks targeting Palestinians – and aimed to please hardline pro-Israel voters and donors – launched by hopefuls in the 2012 US presidential election.

Three responses stand out. The first is Sam Bahour’s piece which – miraculously – appears at Bahour puts Romney’s denigration of Palestinian culture in historic perspective....."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you consider Kofi Annan's resignation as the end of the attempt at a political solution in Syria?

With over 400 responding, 75% said yes.

Syrian anger will echo down through the generations

By Kim Sengupta
Aleppo City
Friday 03 August 2012
The Independent

".... He had just reached a crowd of about 30 people staring at a crater when shrapnel from a second missile tore into his legs. "I knew something really bad had happened, I could not feel my left leg at all, I just kept screaming for someone to come and help me. It was so painful."

Abed al-Rahman, 11, was not a combatant in Syria's civil war. There was no military target in the street where he lived with his family in Al-Bab, just outside Aleppo. No rebel fighters were present when the two missiles were fired. But there were regime warplanes and helicopter gunships flying and firing overhead. The regime's use of warplanes against its own people was first recorded in Aleppo about a week ago.....

Many of us who covered the Libya conflict noted just how few people were killed or injured by Gaddafi's air force before the imposition of the no-fly zone, which extended into months of bombing. Libyan pilots appeared to go to great effort not to hit civilians or even rebel fighters, often dropping their bombs away from large groups. That does not appear to be the case in this conflict.....

The casual brutality of those flying regime warplanes has helped to ensure that implacable bitterness and division will run from generation to generation in this town in Syria."

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrian rebels strengthen hold on Aleppo

"The Free Syrian Army, the country's main armed opposition group, has said that it has control over about "50 per cent" of Aleppo, the country's largest city and commercial hub.

Despite the strengthening hold on the city, government forces, which is amassed around Aleppo, have continued to shell rebel-held areas and bomb them with fighter jets.

Anita McNaught reports from Aleppo."

Horrific aftermath of bombing of Yarmouk in Damascus

The Guardian

"Very disturbing video footage has emerged purporting to show the aftermath of a mortar bombardment on the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in south-east Damascus.

As mentioned earlier doctors said at least 20 people were killed in the attack. Witnesses told Reuters that mortars hit a busy street.

Activists named the road as al-Ja'ouneh street.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the death toll has risen to 21, including two children.

The following video, uploaded by the Observatory, shows a smoke-filled street strewn with rubble and dead bodies. Warning: it contains distressing images."

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Syria violence leaves 50 more dead in Hama

Further 20 killed as Assad's security forces fire mortar rounds at Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, Thursday 2 August 2012

".....Meanwhile, at least 20 people were killed on Thursday when Syrian security forces fired three mortar rounds at a Palestinian camp in Damascus, medical sources said. Witnesses in the camp told Reuters by telephone that the mortars hit a busy street as people were preparing a Ramadan meal to end their fast.

"I saw it all. I was going to my house when the first round hit the street. People ran to check the damage when the second one hit the same area," a resident said. "Many people were killed immediately."

Doctors at three nearby hospitals said at least 20 people were killed and 65 wounded. Yarmouk camp is the largest Palestinian refugee community and is home to more than 100,000 people.

It was not immediately clear what prompted the shelling, but activists and opposition sources said there were heavy clashes between government forces and rebels in the nearby Tadamoun district when the shelling occurred......"

Palestinian casualties of Assad regime in Damascus

Egypt swears in first post-revolution cabinet with plenty of old guard


President Mohammed Morsi awards posts to regime figures, sparking concerns that military still holds too much power

Abdel-Rahman Hussein, Thursday 2 August 2012

"The first post-transitional Egyptian cabinet was officially sworn in Thursday amid criticism it contained too many old regime figures and further underlined the power the military still wields in post-revolution Egypt.....

The Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohammed Morsi, has taken a month to announce his cabinet, and there were very few surprises, with most appointments coming from within the varying ministry ranks, such as the minister for tourism and new interior minister, Ahmed Gamal Eldin, who was head of the general security directorate in the ministry. Some ministers from the previous caretaker government of Kamal El Ganzouri remained in place, including the finance minister and minister of foreign affairs......"

Destruction and death at Yarmuk Camp in Damascus as a result of Assad shelling

Nasrallah is cheering his sectarian ally Assad as he kills off Palestinians. Fuck this  "resistance"

Assad Regime resists Israel by destroying Palestinian camp

Al-Jazeera Video: Turkey doctors appeal for help to treat injured Syrians

"Doctors in Turkey say they need more help to treat the injured fighters arriving from Syria. Hospitals are struggling to deal with the large number of wounded crossing the border every day. Andrew Simmons reports from Rayhanli, on the Turkey-Syria border."

Al-Jazeera Video: Iraqi refugees flee Syrian violence

"The unrest in Syria has left hundreds of thousands of Syrians internally displaced, and forced thousands to flee the country. Among those are more Iraqi civilians who sought refuge in Syria after the US-led invasion of their country in 2003. With the conflict worsenening in their adopted country, many have been forced to return to their homeland. Al Jazeera's Omar al-Saleh reports from Baghdad, the Iraqi capital."

'What will happen to us?': Loyalists fear rebel attacks

In Aleppo, Kim Sengupta finds members of pro-Assad tribes hiding behind closed doors in fear of revenge raids

Kim Sengupta
Thursday 02 August 2012
The Independent

"....The family are part of the Al-Barre tribe whose militia had entered the fray pledging their loyalty to President Bashar al-Assad. Their first act was an attack on opposition positions near the airport in which 15 revolutionaries were killed, some, it is claimed, shot with their hands tied behind their backs.

The reaction was an assault in the Sher Osman neighbourhood where part of the clan are based, with about a dozen killed and 20 arrested. These arrested men were accused of being members of the Shabiha, the loyalist militia accused of serial human rights abuse, and, according to video footage released, put against a wall and sprayed with Kalashnikov fire....."

Assad forces kill at least 35 civilians in Damascus

Syrian troops shell and overrun suburb, leaving behind bodies of men who appear to have been executed, Thursday 2 August 2012

"Syrian troops killed at least 35 people on Wednesday, mostly unarmed civilians, when they shelled and overran a suburb of the capital Damascus, residents and activist organisations said.

"The tanks and troops left around 4pm. When the streets were clear we found the bodies of at least 35 men," a resident, who gave his name as Fares, said by phone from Jdeidet Artouz, south-west of Damascus.

"Almost all of them were executed with bullets to their face, head and neck in homes, gardens and basements," he added....."

Patron Saints

By Adel Iskandar
Al-Masry Al-Youm

"Egypt’s revolution was leaderless, but not everyone got the memo. Today legions gravitate towards one notable or another, one visionary or another, one sheikh or another, one demagogue or another. There are those who self-describe as “Hazemoon,” the followers of Sheikh Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, and those who consider themselves among the ultras of Mohamed Elbaradei. There are those who see the Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide as clairvoyant and those who mourned for months the death of Pope Shenouda as if a connection to God had been permanently severed. Some flock after Sheikh Wagdy Ghonim’s fiery vitriol and others watch hours of online inflammatory videos from defrocked and exiled Father Zakaria Botros. In the end, there’s plenty of hand-kissing going on these days. At a time when Egyptian institutions are fighting for their survival, celebrity messiahs, saviors, and deliverers are a pound a dozen. They are auxiliary instruments whose seemingly rogue contrarian posturing does little beyond nudge age-old institutions toward greater hegemony over society.

All institutions have inherent problems, which are magnified and aggravated within religious institutions specifically. They are hierarchical structures that emphasize conformity, render subjects dependent, and enshrine a chain of command. Their process of specialization in their ranks leads to ultra-specialization and the disappearance of peripheral vision. Designed to increase efficiency and improve transfer of talent, information, and resources, they are instead killing the spirit of inquisitiveness, destroying intellectual curiosity, and digging a grave for Egypt’s polymaths.

Take for instance Al-Azhar....

The irony is that without exception, all parties in this Olympiad of constitutional and political competition over power and prestige (the SCAF, the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafis, Al-Azhar, the church, etc.) are embodiments of counterrevolution. They are counterrevolutionary in their classist schisms, rigid hierarchy, deification of authority, commitment to neoliberal economics, and admonishment of dissidence....."

الحلقة الثانية مع المفكر عزمي بشارة: الديمقراطية في دول الربيع العربي

الحلقة الثانية مع المفكر عزمي بشارة: الديمقراطية في دول الربيع العربي


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bashar al-Assad not seen in public for more than two weeks

Syrian president, who has sent written message to armed forces, likely to come under pressure to demonstrate leadership

Ian Black, Wednesday 1 August 2012

"Bashar al-Assad has not been seen in public since the bomb that killed his powerful brother-in-law and three other senior security chiefs in Damascus on 18 July.

The message he sent on Wednesday to the "heroes" of the Syrian armed forces was a written one, published in a military journal. Assad did not attend the funeral of Assef Shawkat, married to his sister Bushra, but he was seen on TV swearing in a replacement defence minister.

Fears for his own security – at a time when armed rebels have been able to strike in the very heart of the capital – appear to be keeping him in his palace and safely out of sight.

Rumours that Assad had fled to the coastal city of Latakia and that his British-born wife, Asma, had sought refuge in Russia were never substantiated. But there is bound to be pressure for the president to demonstrate leadership by appearing in person before too long."

Syria's video activists give revolution the upper hand in media war

Armed with camera phones activists are posting hundreds of videos on the internet every day documenting the civil war

Luke Harding in Aldana, northern Syria, Wednesday 1 August 2012

"In April last year Ahmad Mohammad left his village in northern Syria filled with its pomegranate trees, figs, and goats, and moved to Lebanon. He came back five months later with a certificate in mobile phone maintenance – a weapon more powerful than Bashar al-Assad's helicopters and tanks.

While he was away Mohammad learned how to upload videos to YouTube – a website banned by the Syrian regime. "Nobody in Syria knew how to do this," he said. In the meantime Syria's revolution snowballed from a handful of protests into a seething nation-wide revolt, characterised by nightly anti-regime gatherings, shootouts with the security forces and a growing number of casualties.....

For its part, Syrian state TV remorselessly brands the Free Syrian army "terrorists" and "al-Qaida". Its main Addounia channel broadcasts a mixture of soap operas and pro-regime propaganda. Syria's official news agency, SANA, meanwhile, maintains the situation inside the country is normal, that calm has been restored, and the weather is pleasant. Syrian regime trolls tweet hate-mail to journalists who have slipped into the country, as the government's control crumbles. "I pray every night that you die," one message sent on Saturday to this Guardian journalist.

Despite these half-hearted efforts, the regime has comprehensively lost the electronic war against its YouTube generation enemies. And by slow degrees, it is losing the other battle too. "

Rebels Execute Shabeeha in Aleppo

[No matter how brutal the shabeeha were and how criminal they acted , executing them like that is unacceptable and hurts the cause more than it helps]

The Womb of Murder

by Amal Hanano
We all like to believe that we control our destiny and that we create our futures with our choices, but there are some decisions in life that are made for you, some things you cannot be held accountable for, for instance where you are born and into which family. Will you be the child of a tyrant or the child of a future revolutionary? Will you be the son of the tortured or the daughter of the torturer? These matters are the luck of the draw, written in our books of fate long before we took our first breaths, while we were still cocooned in our mothers’ wombs. But sometimes you hear such an extraordinary account about fate that you wonder, does destiny taint us before birth to draw the trajectory of our future lives? The following is one of those accounts:
In 1965, I was a medical intern in the National Hospital in Damascus. One day in September, we received an order to empty a room in the pediatric department because a certain VIP baby was being transferred from the maternity ward. My superiors Dr. Suheil Baddoura and Dr. Rashad al-Anbari told us to prepare the room and ourselves for this special patient. The full-term infant who suffered from respiratory distress arrived in the hospital’s sole incubator, the only incubator in Damascus. My colleagues in the maternity ward had been ordered to take out the four premature babies who were already in the incubator to place this baby inside instead. The larger and more-worthy infant was to occupy the incubator alone. The babies died within a couple of hours. One doctor, Mahmoud Barmada, had resisted the outrageous request but was silenced by his superiors who were watched by several officers. We understood that the child’s father was an unnamed, high-ranking officer. Soon after the baby was transferred, he arrived in person, the Commander of the Air Force, Hafez al-Assad. At first his mother would come to breastfeed him and go back to the maternity ward. Then she was transferred over as well to sleep with her child. He stayed in the hospital for fifteen days. After he was discharged, the father donated ten oxygen tents to the maternity ward.  At his request, baby Bashar’s medical file was destroyed.
The relationship between Baddoura and Hafez al-Assad grew stronger over the years as the Commander became Minister of Defense and then the president of Syria. Assad assigned Baddoura as the head of the new Children’s Hospital affiliated with the University of Damascus. Baddoura became the head of Assad University Hospital in 1992 and held the prestigious position until a few years before his death.
After I listened to the prominent doctor narrating this troubling story to me, I asked questions including: Why didn’t anyone else object to this inhuman act? Why are you remembering it now? He answered with the same word repeated over and over, al-khof, al-khof, al-khof. Fear, fear, fear. Why are you telling me this story? He said, “This man was born from the womb of murder. So what do you expect from him now?”
A neonatologist who verified the medical details of this account told me such choices are still forced onto Syrian doctors until today. Unethical favors that must be made for the ruling elite; forcing  doctors to choose their children’s lives over those without wealth or influence. Because of fear.
Hafez Al-Assad famously said, “History is not moved by coincidence.” Did the tears of four mourning mothers curse the baby dictator, stealing his innocence? Did his father’s evil seep into him while he was in Anissa’s womb? No, because as his father said, there are no coincidences. These four premature babies’ deaths were Hafez’s crime alone, because he believed his son’s life was worth the life of four others. But the hundreds of innocent children who were slaughtered over the last sixteen months are now his son’s crimes. Because destiny eventually takes a back seat to accountability.
The neonatologist explained to me that an incubator is just a sophisticated box with controlled temperature and humidity that imitates the environment of the womb. Bashar grew up in an incubator of ultimate privilege, believing that his life is more important than all others. He was raised to take up more space than he needed at whatever cost. He made Syria his personal incubator.
Sometimes destiny has a way of marking who you will become. A doctor may become a murderer and a young political prisoner from Tadmor may go on to become a Harvard graduate; or four babies will die so one will live. And the one who lived will grow up to kill babies, just like his father.
While Syria’s ancient cities, Aleppo and Damascus, burn as the merciless tyrant shells them along with the rest of the country’s revolting cities, towns, and villages, I think about those four mothers who never knew why their premature infants did not survive. Who were they? Who would they have grown up to be? What would our country’s future had been if they had survived  as well? If they had survived instead?
We will never know, because the four babies were born and killed on that fateful day when destinies — all our destinies — were written, on September 11, 1965.
Sometimes history is moved by luck, sometimes by callous strategies and cynical political interests, but sometimes, it is moved by the unbreakable will of a people who decide to free themselves from the collective womb of oppression and change their destiny. Not by coincidence, but by sheer determination.

Al-Jazeera Video: Syria spreads landmines along borders

"The Free Syrian Army are also operating on the Turkish border. It says landmines planted by the army are killing its fighters, so it sends out teams to clear them. And now the group says it will turn the recovered mines against government forces. Jane Ferguson reports."

Is Israel fixing the intelligence to justify an attack on Iran?

Netanyahu's rhetoric has eerie echoes of the run-up to the Iraq war

By Ray McGovern

"Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's strong pro-Israel statements over the weekend, including his endorsement of Jerusalem as Israel's capital (a reversal of long-standing U.S. policy), increases the pressure on President Barack Obama to prove that he is an equally strong backer of Israel.

The key question is whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak will interpret the presidential campaign rhetoric as an open invitation to provoke hostilities with Iran, in the expectation that President Obama will feel forced to jump in with both feet in support of our "ally" Israel.....

The likelihood of hostilities with Iran before the presidential election in November is increasing. Beware of "fixed" intelligence."

Guardian Video: Syrian rebels in Aleppo capture pro-Assad militia

Amateur footage purports to show pro-Assad militia captured by rebels, who are seen collecting their dead as fierce clashes continue in Aleppo. Government forces continue to shell Syria's largest city, including the rebel stronghold of Salaheddin. The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and US defence secretary, Leon Panetta, say time is running out for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, Wednesday 1 August 2012

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Syria: From all-out repression to armed conflict in Aleppo

Amnesty International
1 August 2012

"The assault by government forces on the city of Aleppo is the culmination of months of a brutal crackdown against dissident voices, Amnesty International said in a new report published today.

The new report All-Out Repression is based on first-hand field investigations by Amnesty International in Aleppo city at the end of May.

It documents how security forces and the notorious government-backed shabiha militias routinely used live fire against peaceful demonstrations, killing and injuring protesters and bystanders, including children, and hunted down the wounded, the medics who treated them, and opposition activists.

“The current onslaught on the city of Aleppo – which puts civilians even more at grave risk– is a predictable development which follows the disturbing pattern of abuses by state forces across the country,” said Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International, who recently spent several weeks investigating abuses in northern Syria, including in Aleppo.

The new report provides evidence that families of demonstrators and bystanders shot dead by security forces have been pressured to sign statements saying that their loved ones were killed by “armed terrorist gangs”.

Demonstrations in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and main economic centre, started later and remained smaller than in other main towns.

As the size and frequency of these anti-government protests in Aleppo increased in recent months, the state security apparatus reacted with a characteristically reckless and brutal use of force that inevitably led to peaceful demonstrators being killed and injured.

Those arrested were routinely tortured, threatened and intimidated while in detention.

The report details a wide range of systematic, state-directed violations including the deliberate targeting of peaceful protesters and activists, the hunting down of injured protesters, the routine use of torture, the targeting of medics providing life-saving emergency treatment to the wounded, arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances.

“The peaceful demonstrations I witnessed in different parts of the city invariably ended with security forces firing live rounds at peaceful protesters, their reckless and indiscriminate shooting often killing or injuring bystanders as well as demonstrators,” said Donatella Rovera......"

Click Here to Download Report (pdf)

Israel wall used for segregation, not just security

Israel's separation wall is unjustly disassociating Palestinian neighbourhoods from the city of Jerusalem.

By Ben White

"......The desire to be rid of Palestinian neighbourhoods east of the Wall thus shatter two persistent myths. The first is that the route of the Wall was designed for "security", rather than as an element in a regime of colonial segregation. The second myth is that Jerusalem - where, in the words of Deputy Mayor Meron Benvenisti, "an ethnic population ratio serves as a philosophy" - is a city whose residents enjoy equality. In other words, the myth and reality is a microcosm of Israel as a whole, where the motto continues to be "maximum land with minimum Palestinians, maximum Palestinians on minimum land"."

Al-Jazeera Video: Rebel forces hold onto towns outside Aleppo city

"Government forces withdrew from the town of Al Bab, according to rebel forces, who claim it was the army's last urban base in the region outside of Aleppo city. The people of Al Bab took their captured tank on a victory lap around the town, after the Assad army fled the town and its prized military assets were left behind. The freeing of the army base and the capture of the tank does not mean all the danger is over for the town. There is still danger in the air, as planes and helicopters fly overhead almost every day. Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught reports from Aleppo Province."

Al-Jazeera Video: Fighting wreaks havoc on Aleppo

"As the fight for Aleppo, Syria's largest city, goes on, larger swaths of the commercial capital are being flattened and destroyed by gunfire and shelling. The increasing violence has affected more than just the rebels who are struggling to hold territory against the government: journalists and ambulance drivers have been hit as well. The United Nations says at least 200,000 people have fled, with many expecting a climactic battle for the country's north. Jamal Elshayyal reports."

Al-Jazeera Video: جولة مراسل الجزيرة عمرو المنيري في مدينة حلب

Egypt Opening Doors to Gaza, Slowly


Analysis by Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

"CAIRO, Jul 31 2012 (IPS) - With the election of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi as Egypt’s first-ever freely elected president, the Gaza file – especially as it pertains to Egypt’s border with the besieged enclave – is fast becoming one of the new president’s first major foreign policy challenges.

“Morsi knows that the Gaza issue is intimately linked to Egypt’s relations with Israel and the U.S.,” Tarek Fahmi, director of the Israel desk at the Cairo-based National Centre for Middle East Studies told IPS. “He understands well that any unilateral change to the status quo on the Egypt-Gaza border would have serious international repercussions, for which Egypt isn’t currently prepared.”

Therefore, Fahmi added, the new president “is likely to tread very, very cautiously on the issue.”......

“Morsi can’t just unilaterally open the Rafah crossing to commercial traffic without first discussing it with other relevant parties, namely, Israel and the (West Bank-based) Palestinian Authority,” he said.

“If the new president makes any serious changes in terms of Egypt’s Gaza policy, he will likely make them later on down the road,” Fahmi added. “But he will not make any dramatic moves in the short term while Egypt is facing so many domestic crises, political and otherwise.”

The FJP’s al-Husseini appeared to confirm this.

“Strategic decisions (like those regarding the Gaza border) aren’t the president’s to make alone,” he said. “Opening the crossing to commercial traffic, and thus ending the longstanding siege on Gaza, requires careful study of the political, economic and security-related implications of such a move.”"

Israeli spending on West Bank settlements up 38%

Jewish population in the West Bank is growing almost two and a half times as fast as Israel's population

Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem, Tuesday 31 July 2012

"Israeli government spending on West Bank settlements has increased by 38% under prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, according to official figures disclosed as the cabinet voted to implement an austerity package of tax increases and budget cuts.

According to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, obtained by the business newspaper Calcalist, spending on Jewish settlements in the West Bank was 1.1bn shekels in 2011, up from 0.8bn the previous two years. The overall state budget increased by 2.7% in 2011, Calcalist reported....."

What killed Yasser Arafat? France could find the truth

Polonium has been found in samples from the Palestinian leader. His body must be exhumed quickly or it will be too late

Clayton Swisher, Tuesday 31 July 2012

"Polonium has been found in samples from the Palestinian leader. His body must be exhumed quickly or it will be too late.....

In the past, France has often joined its western allies in preaching to Palestinians about the importance of accountability and justice. A thorough and exhaustive investigation to reveal what killed this historic figure would present France and its legal system with a unique opportunity to demonstrate those values."

Steve Bell on Mitt Romney's visit to Israel

Aleppo: The last battle for Syria

The current fighting in the city marks a turning point in deciding fate of the Assad regime and the uprising in Syria.

By Larbi Sadiki

"The battle of Aleppo marks a turning point in terms of deciding the fate of the Arab Spring in Syria and the future of the Alawite dynasty in power.

The stakes could not get higher. There are several dynamics and questions at play in this battle, making the latest escalation decisive.

The Assads and their entourage sought from the outset to militarise peaceful protests. They hedged their bets on using overkill power to nip the Syrian version of the Arab Spring in the bud.
As the Aleppo battle rages on unabated, the saying "hoist with one's own petard" applies to Bashar al-Assad. His military machine is haemorrhaging with daily defections, including by historically loyal Sunnis from the upper echelons of the army.

The outcome of the battle for Aleppo is crucial not only for the Syrian parties vying directly for control of Syria. Also, and equally important, there are outsiders whose own interests, policies or investments in this battle - as well as in the phases leading to it - await vindication or validation.....

Right now, while fighting for prevalence in Aleppo, both the revolutionaries and regime are already strategizing and operating on the basis of a new reality expected to emerge from the current fighting.

In the spectre of possible defeat, each party is regrouping internally to fend off threats to their existence, and working externally to seek alliances that will provide material resources and endorsement.

In such circumstances, the Syrian revolution may be taking a route in which the Syrians themselves have only limited control over its pace, strategies and outcomes. A revolution that started out peacefully has become one of tragedy and loss. It will be worth it when and if authoritarian rule is defeated."

Monday, July 30, 2012

الحل الدولي للمسألة السورية


في هذا الوضع أصبحت سياسة "الغرب الإمبريالي" تتمحور حول كيفية "دعم الثورة"، لكن لكي تتحوّل إلى "حرب أهلية" أو صراع طائفي. ولهذا أصبح مطلوباً زيادة "العمل المسلح" على حساب النشاط الشعبي، وتدعيم الفئات الأصولية على حساب الفئات المدنية في العمل المسلح ذاته. كل ذلك من أجل تحقق "الحرب الأهلية" أو "الطائفية" التي بدأ الإعلام "الغربي" يروج لها، وبدأت تتكرر من قبل مسؤولين دوليين.

السياسة الإمبريالية الغربية الآن باتت تتمثل في تحويل الثورة إلى حرب طائفية من أجل إضعاف سوريا كمجتمع. وكل النشاط "الداعم للثورة" الذي تمارسه مجموعة "أصدقاء سوريا" ينطلق من الإظهار الإعلامي للدعم من أجل كسب مصداقية تسمح بتعزيز الخيار الذي يركز الإعلام عليه، وتؤكد بعض الدول دعمه، أي خيار التسليح وتحويل الثورة إلى صراع مسلح.

هنا الغرب الإمبريالي "الداعم للثورة" يتآمر عليها لأنه لا يريد ثورة منتصرة، ويريد تفكيك سوريا وضعفها لكي يكسب هو في مرحلة تالية ربما أو يورث الروس وضعاً لا فائدة منه. هذا هو المنطق الإمبريالي الذي لم تستطع روسيا كإمبريالية جديدة التعامل معه من أجل ضمان مصالحها.

فهي ما زالت تتمسك بالسلطة ذاتها التي قررت خوض الحرب ضد الشعب إلى النهاية، دون قناعة بحوار أو تنازل عن أدنى حجر في هذه السلطة التي شيدها حافظ الأسد لكي تكون إرثاً عائلياً "إلى الأبد". ولهذا يمرّ الوقت دون أن تعرف كيف تقوم بخطوة تضمن مصالحها.

لكن، ما هو مهم ليس كل ذلك، بل هو أن هذا الوضع الدولي لم يعد يسمح بتدخل إمبريالي غربي، وهو الخطر الذي كان ممكناً في سنوات سابقة، ويُبقي روسيا في حيرة من أمرها عاجزة عن فعل شيء، ومن ثم سيتحقق التغيير بقوة الشعب ومقدرته على منع تحويل الثورة إلى "حرب مسلحة أصولية"، ودفعها نحو إسقاط السلطة عبر تفكيكها، بمعنى أن الثورة ستنتصر بقواها الذاتية في وضع عالمي مرتبك ومشلول.

Al-Jazeera Video: Fierce battles as rebels fight to hold Aleppo

"Fierce fighting has erupted in rebel-held districts of Aleppo for the second straight day as opposition forces continue to hold out in Syria's largest city. At least 200,000 residents of the country's commercial capital have fled in the past two days, according to the United Nations. Several neighbourhoods in Aleppo where rebels are active have come under heavy government shelling, leading to casualties among both fighters and civilians. Al Jazeera's Jamal El Shayyal reports."

Al-Jazeera Video: Jordan erects first official Syrian refugee camp

"As the Syrian conflict continues, more and more people are leaving their homes and seeking refuge abroad.

Some just cross the borders, while others register officially as refugees.

Jordanian officials have processed more than 150,000 refugees - the most of all of Syria's neighbours.

In order to accomodate the influx of refugees that the community can no longer absord, Jordan has just opened its first official refugee camp specifically for Syrians.

Currently, the 2000 tents will provide temporary housing to 10 000 refugees, but if the crisis escalates, the government could expand the camp, sheltering up to 113 000 Syrians.

Al Jazeera's Nisreen el-Shamayleh reports from Zaatri, North Jordan."

Real News Video : The Judaizing of East Jerusalem

The Sumarin family has been living in their house in Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem for dozens of years. In legal proceedings filed due to ideological purposes of judaizing East Jerusalem, the family got an eviction notice. The family home was transferred by the executor to Himanuta, a company fully owned by the KKL, which demands it be evacuated.

More at The Real News

Lebanon Heading for Failed State Status?

By Mona Alami

"BEIRUT, Jul 30 2012 (IPS) - Every day Lebanon is being plunged further into a state of general insecurity, as chaos from the war in Syria seeps across the border.

Repeated kidnappings, multiple Syrian incursions resulting in the death of Lebanese citizens, and the widespread use of weapons are just some of the indicators pointing to the slow meltdown of the country’s public institutions......"

Israel obstructs the peace, and is paid handsomely for it

Jonathan Cook
Jul 29, 2012

"........In another of the rich ironies of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it now seems even some diplomats are concluding that the Palestinians will be best served by destroying the fledgling government that was supposed to be the harbinger of their independence.

The real obstacles to peace - Israel, its occupation and western complicity - might then be laid bare for all to see."

Deputy police chief in Syria's Latakia flees to Turkey

"(Reuters) - The deputy police chief of Syria's western Latakia city, a brigadier-general, defected and fled to Turkey overnight with 11 other Syrian officers, a Turkish official said on Monday.

The police commander ranks as one of the most senior police officers to quit Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's security apparatus and joins scores of other military officers who have defected and are now in Turkey.

The Turkish official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not name the deputy police commander but said he came from Syria's Sunni Muslim majority......"

Ten reasons Mitt Romney's Israel visit is in bad taste

The Republican presidential hopeful is holding a fundraiser and playing war enabler in Israel – it's wrong on so many levels

Juan Cole, Monday 30 July 2012

"The trip of US Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney to Israel is in bad taste for lots of reasons.

1. He is holding a fundraiser at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. It is distasteful for an American political candidate to hold a high-profile fundraiser abroad, implying a commitment to a foreign country as a means of reaching out to American interest groups (in Romney's case, Christian Zionists among the evangelicals and the minority of American Jews who would be willing to vote Republican).....

10. The fundraiser is being held in the King David Hotel, which was famously blown up by the Zionist terrorist organisation Irgun in 1946, in a strike that killed 91 people and wounded dozens, many of them innocent civilians. Irgun leader Menachem Begin (later a leader of the ruling Likud party) hit the hotel because there were British security offices there, which were tracking violent organisations like his own, during the British mandate period of Palestine. He maintained that he called ahead to warn of the bombing, but that is just propaganda to take the edge off the deed – who in 1946 would have taken such a call seriously? When Netanyahu and other Likud leaders attended a commemoration of the bombing, the British Foreign Office sent over a sharp note of protest. I guess Romney is not finished with insulting London."

Sunday, July 29, 2012

طلاس مرشح من لرئاسة سورية؟

طلاس مرشح من لرئاسة سورية؟
عبد الباري عطوان

"السيد وليد جنبلاط الزعيم الدرزي اللبناني المعروف، اوجد لنفسه اكاديمية سياسية خاصة به، ابرز عناوينها التقلب في المواقف، من النقيض الى النقيض في بعض الاحيان، وهذا امر لا يعيبه، فالسياسة هي فن التعايش مع المتغيرات على الارض، وفي حالته كزعيم لأقلية مذهبية، فإن الحفاظ على مصالح الطائفة يتصدر اولوياته، ويشكل همّه الأكبر.
في حديثه الذي ادلى به الى محطة تلفزيون 'بي. بي. سي' العربية، وجرى بثه ليلة امس الاول، فجّر السيد جنبلاط كعادته في مقابلاته قنبلة سياسية وصحافية من العيار الثقيل عندما اجاب في سؤال عن رأيه في انشقاق العميد مناف طلاس بقوله انه كان عليه ان يذهب الى مدينة الرستن في حمص، حيث اهله واقاربه وينضم الى الثوار المدافعين عنها، على المغادرة الى باريس.
كلام السيد جنبلاط يحمل وجهة نظر تستحق التوقف عندها لتأمل حاضر الوضع السوري ومستقبله، والمخططات التي تطبخ على نار هادئة في غرف مغلقة، بينما تشتد حدة المواجهات الدموية وترتفع اعداد القتلى والمهجّرين من ابناء الشعب السوري.
الثورة، اي ثورة، ومثلما علمتنا دروس التاريخ، من المفترض ان تأتي، في حال نجاحها، بقيادات جديدة من رحم المعاناة والتضحيات، وتحدث تغييرا سياسيا واجتماعيا شاملا على كافة الصعد والمستويات، وان تؤسس لنظام جديد بوجوه جديدة.
ولعل ما هو اهمّ من كل ذلك، هو ان يختار الشعب، اي شعب كان، قيادته الجديدة التي من المفترض ان تعبّر عن طموحاته في التغيير الذي ثار من اجل فرضه، فالقيادات الثورية التي غيّرت مجتمعاتها على مرّ العصور كانت دائما شابة طموحة، انبثقت من وسط الشعب، وقادت المقاومة منذ ايامها الاولى، ولدينا امثلة عديدة مثل نابليون وشارل ديغول، في فرنسا، ونيلسون مانديلا ونكروما في افريقيا، وغاندي ونهرو وسوكارنو في آسيا، وجمال عبد الناصر وعبد الكريم قاسم في الوطن العربي، والقائمة طويلة.
اللافت، ومن خلال متابعة عملية الإعداد النشطة والمكثفة، والحفاوة البالغة التي قوبل بها انشقاق العميد طلاس ان هناك جهات عديدة تريد منذ الآن فرضه على الشعب السوري، ودون استشارته (اي الشعب)، كزعيم المستقبل الذي يجب ان يلتف الجميع حوله.
' ' '
هناك عشرات وربما مئات العمداء في الجيش العربي السوري، وبعض هؤلاء انشقّ فعلا عن النظام في بداية الانتفاضة، ولكن هؤلاء لم يستقبلهم العاهل السعودي الملك عبد الله بن عبد العزيز، ولا احمد داوود اوغلو وزير خارجية تركيا، ولم تطأ اقدامهم باريس، ولم يعلن وزير الخارجية الفرنسي فابيوس وصولهم بطريقة دراماتيكية اثناء انعقاد اجتماع اصدقاء سورية.
ما هي المؤهلات التي تجعل العميد مناف طلاس مميزا عن غيره من العمداء او الألوية في الجيش السوري بحيث يحظى بكل هذا الاهتمام ومن قبل المملكة العربية السعودية واجهزة اعلامها على وجه الخصوص بحيث تكون اول اطلالة له على قناة العربية، واول حديث له لصحيفة سعودية؟
العميد مناف طلاس لم يخض اي حرب ضد اسرائيل او غيرها، كما انه غير معروف بتفوقه العسكري وبطولاته الميدانيةن كل ماهو معروف عنه انه ابن وزير الدفاع السابق مصطفى طلاس الذي امضى معظم حياته في ظل الرئيس الراحل حافظ الاسد، وكانت علاقته بالجميلات من الفنانات العالميات اكثر من علاقته بالفنون العسكرية او وحدات الجيش العربي السوري، وكان من ابرز الشخصيات التي باركت التوريث ووصول الرئيس الحالي بشار الاسد خلفا لابيه.
العميد طلاس وسيم، ويضاحي نجوم السينما العالمية في وسامته، وليس لدينا اي شك في ذلك، وابرز انجازاته انه كان صديقا مقربا للرئيس بشار الاسد منذ ايام الدراسة الابتدائية، وتولى منصب قائد الفرقة 105 في الحرس الجمهوري السوري.
فهل هذه هي المواصفات المطلوبة في رئيس سورية الجديد التي تزكيه وتميزه عن غيره من ابناء العائلات السورية التي قدمت آلاف الضحايا والشهداء في الانتفاضة التي اندلعت قبل 16 شهرا للمطالبة بالتغيير الديمقراطي؟
العميد طلاس قال انه كان معارضا للنظام الديكتاتوري الفاسد منذ اكثر من سنه، ولا نجد ما يجعلنا لا نصدقه، وقد يكون الحال كذلك فعلا، ولكن هل ديكتاتورية النظام وفساده وليدتا الامس، ومنذ اندلاعة الانتفاضة فقط؟
السؤال الآخر الذي يطرح نفسه بقوة ايضا وهو عن الكيفية التي غادر فيها سوريةن ونجح في الوصول الى بر الامان في باريس حيث والده وبقية اهله (شقيق وشقيقه)، فهل شاركت قوات او اجهزة مخابرات فرنسية او غربية اخرى في تهريبه؟
العميد طلاس وفي مقابلته الصحافية الاولى منذ انشقاقه، رفض الحديث عن كيفية هروبه، ولم يكشف مطلقا عن عملية تهريبه وعبر اي منفذ حدودي، ولغز تضليل اكثر من 17 جهاز مخابرات من المفترض ان تكون تتابع تحركاته وتتوقع انشقاقه طالما انه اعتكف في بيته احتجاجا.
' ' '
القفز من السفينة الغارقة، او التي هي في طريق الغرق حسب آراء او حسابات القافزين، امر متوقع، خاصة اذا كان هؤلاء تعودوا على الرفاهية. والتنعم بالمناصب العليا، في اندية السلطة الضيقة العضوية، وان ينجو هؤلاء بارواحهم ايضا من الامور غير المستغربة، لكن ان يقفز هؤلاء الى سدة الحكم، ويتجاوزون الكثيرين الذين فجروا الانتفاضة لوضع حد للظلم والاضطهاد واحتكار السلطة من قبل فئة محدودة اسرة طلاس هي جزء اساسي من نواتها، فهذا امر يستعصي على الهضم.
فاذا كان الشعب السوري الذي قدم حتى الآن اكثر من عشرين الفا في مسيرته للتغيير الديمقراطي سينتهي برئيس من ابناء النظام القديم تشرف على اعداده وتهيئته المطابخ نفسها التي تسلح الجيش السوري الحر وتموله، فلماذا قدم الشعب السوري كل هذه التضحيات اذن.. لكي يعود الى الوراء؟
الشعب السوري ينتفض ضد عائلة الاسد، ويريد الاطاحة بها حسب شعارات مظاهراته الاحتجاجية وتصريحات قادة القوات المسلحة التي تقاتل باسمه، هذا واضح، ولكن هل يريد استبدال عائلة باخرى صديقة لها وموالية لحكمها لاكثر من اربعين عاما.. فاذا كان الحكم يمكن ان يورّث، فهل التغيير الذي ضحى من اجله الشعب السوري يمكن ان يتأتى من خلال استبدال عائلة في الحكم باخرى موالية لها؟
السيد جنبلاط اعترض على 'ترؤس' العميد طلاس لانه ينحاز الى صديقه عبد الحليم خدام الذي خدم اسرة الاسد لاكثر من اربعين عاما، وابتلع كرامته وعملية التوريث التي تجاوزته بطريقة مهينة وهو الذي كان نائيا للرئيس والمؤهل الاكبر للرئاسة، ولكن اعتراضنا نابع لاسباب اخرى مختلفة وهي التدخل الخارجي في اختيار القيادات الجديدة حسب المواصفات الغربية ومحاولة فرضها على الشعب تحت مسميات واعذار عديدة مما يشكل نسفا لكل الادعاءات حول الديمقراطية وحقوق الانسان والمساواة والعدالة والاختيار الشعبي الحر.
نخشى على سورية من مخططات من يدعون صداقتها والحرص عليها، مثلما نخشى على الشعب السوري من الذين يتعاطون معه كما لو انه شعب قاصر لا يستحق ان يختار قياداته ويقومون بهذا الدور نيابة عنه، ودون التكلف حتى باستشارته.

Olympic-Size Iftar, by Emad Hajjaj

Guardian Video: Syrian rebels capture government tank in Aleppo

The Free Syrian Army parade a tank and anti-aircraft guns, apparently seized from Assad's regime, through the streets of al-Bab in the northern city of Aleppo. According to unverified footage, the rebels drove the tank through the countryside suburb on Sunday, cheered on by bystanders as gunshots were fired into the air in celebration, Sunday 29 July 2012

Aurora: Between fact and fantasy

The fusion of fact and fantasy in post-modern warfare is no longer limited to a small theatre in Aurora, it is global.

By Hamid Dabashi

Killing machines

What is a drone - these unmanned, remote controlled killing machines - to which hundreds of innocent civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan and other places have fallen victim? The technology that makes that digitisation of "the enemy" possible is of the same family genealogy that makes videogame violence, war game panels, and ultimately digital cameras and CGI cinema possible. The nature of contemporary post-modern warfare is the fact that remote control bombing has no moral or physical encounter with the victims it targets. As Al Jazeera reports regarding the drone warfare:

The strategy is giving rise to anxieties that conflict is becoming just a big computer game, in which "desk pilots" in air conditioned bunkers far from the battlefield can kill a few enemy fighters and then go home to their families, remote from the human consequences of their actions or the anguish of associated civilian casualties.

These killing machines have so categorically externalised violence from the conscious metaphysics of the Empire that they are coterminous with dehumanising their enemy, so much so that the term "terrorism" and "terrorist" are now categorically reserved for the Muslims they target - and thus news organisations persistently insist that the murderous act in Aurora had no connection to terrorism. "Authorities have established no terrorism link" - as the BBC so typically puts it, categorically glossing over the terror that people must have experienced in that movie theatre.

The fusion of fact and fantasy in post-modern warfare, the moral depletion of acts of violence from what they mean and what their human costs are in people's bone and blood are no longer limited to that small theatre in Aurora. It is our global condition - from Gotham and Colorado to Afghanistan and Pakistan......"

Syrian War of Lies and Hypocrisy

The West's real target here is not Assad's brutal regime but his ally, Iran, and its nuclear weapons

By Robert Fisk

"....While Qatar and Saudi Arabia arm and fund the rebels of Syria to overthrow Bashar al-Assad's Alawite/Shia-Baathist dictatorship, Washington mutters not a word of criticism against them. President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, say they want a democracy in Syria. But Qatar is an autocracy and Saudi Arabia is among the most pernicious of caliphate-kingly-dictatorships in the Arab world. Rulers of both states inherit power from their families – just as Bashar has done – and Saudi Arabia is an ally of the Salafist-Wahabi rebels in Syria, just as it was the most fervent supporter of the medieval Taliban during Afghanistan's dark ages.

Indeed, 15 of the 19 hijacker-mass murderers of 11 September, 2001, came from Saudi Arabia – after which, of course, we bombed Afghanistan. The Saudis are repressing their own Shia minority just as they now wish to destroy the Alawite-Shia minority of Syria. And we believe Saudi Arabia wants to set up a democracy in Syria?

Then we have the Shia Hezbollah party/militia in Lebanon, right hand of Shia Iran and supporter of Bashar al-Assad's regime. For 30 years, Hezbollah has defended the oppressed Shias of southern Lebanon against Israeli aggression. They have presented themselves as the defenders of Palestinian rights in the West Bank and Gaza. But faced with the slow collapse of their ruthless ally in Syria, they have lost their tongue. Not a word have they uttered – nor their princely Sayed Hassan Nasrallah – about the rape and mass murder of Syrian civilians by Bashar's soldiers and "Shabiha" militia.....

But what US administration would really want to see Bashar's atrocious archives of torture opened to our gaze? Why, only a few years ago, the Bush administration was sending Muslims to Damascus for Bashar's torturers to tear their fingernails out for information, imprisoned at the US government's request in the very hell-hole which Syrian rebels blew to bits last week. Western embassies dutifully supplied the prisoners' tormentors with questions for the victims. Bashar, you see, was our baby.....

And all the while, we forget the "big" truth. That this is an attempt to crush the Syrian dictatorship not because of our love for Syrians or our hatred of our former friend Bashar al-Assad, or because of our outrage at Russia, whose place in the pantheon of hypocrites is clear when we watch its reaction to all the little Stalingrads across Syria. No, this is all about Iran and our desire to crush the Islamic Republic and its infernal nuclear plans – if they exist – and has nothing to do with human rights or the right to life or the death of Syrian babies. Quelle horreur!"

Arab League chief sees Syria war crimes: MENA

"(Reuters) - The Arab League chief described the situation in Syria as amounting to war crimes and said those responsible will be held accountable internationally, Egypt's state news agency said on Sunday.

Rebels still in control of sections of Aleppo, Syria's largest city, have clashed for several days with army troops after additional tank columns and troop reinforcements were sent in last week.

"Dr Nabil Elaraby, Secretary-General of the Arab League, described what is happening in Syria, especially the city of Aleppo, as amounting to war crimes, and warned that perpetrators of these crimes will be held internationally accountable," state news agency MENA said....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Syria - Aleppo: Syria's key battleground?

Al-Jazeera Video: Syria rebels fend off Aleppo assault

"Syrian rebels held off an offensive by regime forces in Aleppo Saturday as the head of the main opposition bloc called for heavy weapons and said President Bashar al-Assad should be tried for "massacres".

After massing for two days, troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships moved on southwestern Aleppo where rebels concentrated their forces when they seized much of the northern city on July 20.

Al Jazeera's Jamal al-Shayyal reports."

Al-Jazeera Video: Jailers in Syria's Aleppo become prisoners of war

"Several members of the regime's military intelligence in al-Bab city in the northern province of Aleppo have become prisoners of the Free Syrian Army. They were taken captives after opposition fighters took over the intelligence building. The military intelligence headquarters in al- Bab was seen as one of the most feared and hated intelligence agencies in the province. It was notorious for the beating and torture of activists. Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught reports from al-Bab."