Saturday, August 18, 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: Battle for Aleppo rages on

"Aleppo, Syria's largest city, is under attack again - as fighting intensifies between rebels and government forces. The battle for Aleppo has been raging for weeks. And as the number of dead and injured grows, hospitals are desperately trying to cope. Al Jazeera's James Bays reports."

Guardian Video: Syrian rebels foil army attempt to take Turkish border gate, as Lakhdar Brahimi becomes new envoy

Free Syrian Army fighters attack tanks and helicopters from Bashar al-Assad's regime near the Turkish border on Friday, foiling an attempt to take over the Bab al-Hawa border gateway. Protesters in Idlib province chance shelling by taking to the streets, and refugees in Turkey express mixed sentiments over the appointment of Lakhdar Brahimi as the new UN and Arab League envoy to Syria, Saturday 18 August 2012

The new face of Egypt

By Adel Iskandar
Al-Masry Al-Youm

"....Egypt on Monday seemed unrecognizable to itself.

For many months, since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak, we all suffered from prosopagnosia as we wondered who ruled the country, knowing full well that it wasn’t the scar-faced revolutionaries. Was it the faceless deep state, the defaced feloul, the two-faced Brotherhood or the stone-faced Supreme Council of the Armed Forces?....

What about Morsy? Is he the same person who promised a civic state and vice presidents who are women and Copts? Is he the president or simply the face of an executive branch of Mohamed Badie, the Brotherhood supreme guide? Was the removal of the top brass on Sunday night a presidential coup? Or was it an attempt to preempt a coup by the SCAF over Morsy?

Egyptians are now choosing to slap on the country the mask of their choice, hoping it will make it more recognizable. The Nasserists, Salafis, seculars, cosmopolitans, elite bourgeoisie, minorities and Brotherhood all believe in their own illusions of majority because of their face masks.

Perhaps that is why, more than ever before, we are circulating images of Egypt as we remember it or would like it to be, and the country is increasingly multi-faced....."

Emad Hajjaj: Aerial Bombardment of Syrian Cities Massacres

Al-Jazeera Video: ارتفاع تدفق اللاجئين السوريين إلى الدول المجاورة

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you believe that Lakhdar Brahimi will succeed in what Kofi Annan failed to achieve in Syria?

With over 200 responding, 88% said no.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Daniel Ellsberg: I Congratulate Ecuador For Standing Up To British Empire To Protect Julian Assange

Democracy Now!

"Daniel Ellsberg, the most famous whistleblower in the United States, praises Ecuador for granting political asylum to Julian Assange to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning over sex crime accusations. "I congratulate Ecuador of course for standing up to the British Empire here, for insisting that they are not a British colony, and acting as a sovereign state ought to act,” said Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, the secret history of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. On Thursday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Assange would be arrested if he left the embassy, saying Britain is “under a binding obligation to extradite him to Sweden. “[Assange] has every reason to be wary that the real intent here is to whisk him away to America where it really hasn’t been made clear what might be waiting for him."......"

US Realists, Neocons and the War in Syria

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"....Despite immense hesitation from the Obama administration, the neocons are now trying to weasel in their version of an endgame in Syria. Their efforts are extremely focused and well-coordinated, making impressive use of their direct ties with the Israeli lobby, major US media and Syrian leaders in exile. Writing in CNN online, Elise Labott reported on a recent neoconservative push to upgrade American involvement in Syria, urging “the Obama administration to increase its support of the armed opposition” (CNN, August 1).

The ‘experts’ included Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), another pro-Israel conduit in Washington, established in 1985 as a research department for the influential Israeli lobby group, AIPAC. Obama obliged under pressure from the ‘experts’. According to CNN, he signed a secret order “referred to as an intelligence ‘finding,’ allow[ing] for clandestine support by the CIA and other agencies.”

More, On July 31, AIPAC urged all members of Congress to sign on a bill introduced by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Howard Berman. Entitled ‘The Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act (H.R.1905)’, the bill, if passed, “will establish virtual state of war with Iran,” according to the Council for the National Interest. The old neoconservative wisdom arguing for an unavoidable link between Syria, Iran and their allies in the region is now being exploited to the maximum. Their hope is to settle all scores left unsettled by the Bush administration.

US foreign policy in Syria is likely to become clearer once the signs of an endgame become easier to read. Until then, the neocons will continue to push for another campaign of intervention. For them, influencing the endgame in favor of Israel is much more beneficial than dealing with a divided country, which is ‘subcontracted’ to other regional powers, per Pletka’s unrelenting wisdom."

Syria's conflict has crossed the border, and the ghost of Lebanon's civil war returns

Kidnappings in Beirut highlight a sectarian divide made worse by neighbouring violence

By Robert Fisk

"....Now that Michel Samaha, ex-minister, ex-MP, and Lebanese supporter of Assad, is charged with plotting to blow up Lebanese politicians on behalf of Syria's security major domo, General Ali Mamlouk, the 'terror conspiracy' – without a shred of evidence publicly revealed – has become fact. Like the mass of bank robberies around Beirut, the clan battles in the Bekaa Valley and the armed offensive against Lebanese troops trying to destroy the country's hashish fields, the whole shooting match doesn't exactly invite tourists and Gulf investors to sunny Beirut. Nor did it help when the Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, announced that the kidnappings "bring us back to the days of the painful (civil) war." Nor, I suppose, is there a surgeon who can put Lebanon together again."

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrian refugees try to adapt in Jordan camps

"As fighting in Syria continues, hundreds of people have fled to neighbouring Jordan, sheltering in camps and relying on food donations.

With no diplomatic solution in sight, many refugees feel that it may take many months before they could return home.

For this reason, some have begun to use their special skills to make a living.

Al Jazeera's Jane Ferguson reports from Zaatari camp in Jordan."

Al-Jazeera Video: Syria: Al Jazeera speaks to FSA deputy commander

"Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught speaks to Malik al-Kurdi, deputy commander of the Free Syrian Army, about the escalating violence in his country.

Al-Kurdi told Al Jazeera the government of Bashar al-Assad "cannot destroy the will of the people", adding that the opposition fighters "only need another two months to take the regime down"."

Al-Jazeera Video: Injured Aleppo residents flee to Turkey

"More refugees have been crossing the border into Turkey after an attack by Syrian fighter jets on the northern town of Azaz in Aleppo province.

At least 30 people died in the strikes, in the area that had been under the protection of opposition fighters

Al Jazeera's Stefanie Dekker reports from a hospital in Kilis on the Syrian-Turkish border."

Al-Jazeera Video: الجيش السوري يقصف بلدات في إدلب بالطائرات

"أغار الطيران الحربي السوري صباح اليوم على بلدة جرجناز في ريف إدلب، وأسقط القصف الذي استخدمت فيه طائرات الميغ وطائرة مروحية ثلاثة قتلى من المدنيين، وجرح أكثر من عشرين آخرين.

Pretext for Intervention: Securing Syria chemical weapons may take tens of thousands of troops

"(Reuters) - The United States and its allies are discussing a worst-case scenario that could require tens of thousands of ground troops to go into Syria to secure chemical and biological weapons sites following the fall of President Bashar al-Assad's government, according to U.S. and diplomatic officials.

These secret discussions assume that all of Assad's security forces disintegrate, leaving chemical and biological weapons sites in Syria vulnerable to pillaging. The scenario also assumes these sites could not be secured or destroyed solely through aerial bombings, given health and environmental risks.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to explain the sensitive discussions, said the United States still had no plans to put boots on the ground in Syria. President Barack Obama's administration has, in fact, so far refused to provide lethal support to the rebels fighting to oust Assad's regime and the Pentagon has played down the possibility of implementing a no-fly zone anytime soon.

"There is not a imminent plan to deploy ground forces. This is, in fact, a worst-case scenario," the official said, adding U.S. forces would likely play a role in such a mission.

Two diplomatic sources, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said as many as 50,000 or 60,000 ground forces may be needed if officials' worst fears are realized, plus additional support forces......"

Syria: Renewed shelling as UN ends observer mission - live updates

Haroon Siddique, Brian Whitaker and Louisa Loveluck, Friday 17 August 2012

Stingers for the FSA?

The Free Syrian Army have acquired a shipment of 14 Stinger missiles, according to al-Arabiya. The missiles are believed to have been delivered through the İskenderun area on the border with Turkey. According to al-Arabiya’s source, both Turkey and the United States are aware of the arms delivery.The acquisition of Stinger missiles would be a significant gain for the rebels. These surface-to-air missiles use an infrared seeker to lock on to the heat in a plane’s engine, with a range of up to 11,000ft. Although usually fired from standing, they can be adapted to fire from ground vehicles and would fit well into the rebels’ existing arsenal of truck-mounted weapons.

As The Guardian reported on Tuesday, the FSA already claim to have shot down a regime plane using a KPV 14.5mm heavy machine gun. The use of stingers would certainly increase the rebels’ capacity to challenge the regime’s military predominance in the air."

Red lines for Egypt’s media

Haroon Siddique, Brian Whitaker and Louisa Loveluck, Friday 17 August 2012

Egypt's President Morsi has come under fire for stifling critical voices in the media. The Committee to Protect Journalists has accused the new government of pushing back against critical coverage, suppressing critical journalists and state-run newspapers, putting a journalist on trial, and attacking three journalists on the street.

CPJ deputy director Robert Mahoney said:

This is a troubling backward step that Egypt's newly-elected President Mohamed Morsi should not be taking. We urge President Morsi to reverse this course immediately and demonstrate his commitment to press freedom.

Last Saturday, copies of the privately-owned daily al-Dostour were confiscated from the paper's offices after a front-page editorial called Morsi a "fascist" and asked the army to "defend the civil state". A Cairo court has since issued a travel ban on the journalist in question who is set to be tried on Wednesday.

Local news outlets reported yesterday that another paper, the state-owned al-Akhbar, will cancel its daily “Free Opinions” column, following the censorship of three articles in a week.

These allegations come just a few weeks after the Shura Council announced the appointments of (largely Islamist) new editors, provoking a storm of protest among journalists.

Perceptions abound that these individuals are largely yes-men – a system of appointments that was well-established under Hosni Mubarak."

Bahrain: Free Rights Activist Jailed for ‘Illegal Gatherings’

US Should Speak Out on Nabeel Rajab Conviction

Human Rights Watch

"(Beirut) – Bahraini authorities should immediately release the human rights activist Nabeel Rajab and overturn his conviction for organizing and participating in “illegal” demonstrations, Human Rights Watch said today. His conviction is a violation of his right to freedom of assembly. Rajab is president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and a member of the advisory committee of the Human Rights Watch Middle East Division.

Rajab was sentenced on August 16, 2012, to three years in prison for his involvement in three demonstrations between January and March 2012. Defense lawyers told Human Rights Watch that the judge issued the sentence before they could get to the hearing from a hearing in another case involving Rajab in another court. Rajab was taken to prison before he was able to meet with lawyers or his wife and children.

This ruling shows that Bahrain’s rulers are committed to a policy of comprehensive repression,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Instead of releasing people jailed for peaceful dissent, it seems determined to lock up even more people who try to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and free expression.”......"

'Dark day for justice' in Bahrain as activist receives three-year prison sentence

16 August 2012

"A Bahrain court's decision to sentence a prominent human rights activist to three years in prison for taking part in an anti-government protest is a "dark day for justice" in the country Amnesty International said today.

Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, was found guilty of taking part in an “illegal gathering” among other charges in relation to a protest in the capital Manama on 6 February 2012.

Rajab, his family and one police guard were the only ones present at the Third Lower Criminal Court in Manama today when the judge read out the verdict.

Rajab is already serving a three-month sentence for libel in relation to a post he made on Twitter.

"The court's decision is a dark day for justice in Bahrain that further questions the independence of the judiciary," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

"Like many others in Bahrain, Nabeel Rajab is a prisoner of conscience, jailed solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and assembly. He should be released immediately and his convictions and sentences quashed. The authorities must also act to ensure that all human rights defenders are able to carry out their work without fear of reprisal."

“If anything, this latest verdict marks the end of the facade of reform in Bahrain. The international community can no longer be under the illusion that Bahrain is on the path of reform when such blatant ruthless tactics are being used to suppress dissenting voices. Bahrain’s international partners need to make this loud and clear to the Bahraini authorities”

According to his lawyers Rajab was found guilty of three charges – "gathering with the intention of disrupting security", "calling for marches or protests without a permit" and "participating in a protest without permit". Each charge related to one of three different protests he took part in during the first three months of 2012....."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

ليس من رأى كمن سمع


                                                                              د. محمد أحمد الزعبي
قادتني الطائرة  من لايبزغ إلى إستنبول ، ومنها إلى إنطاكيا عاصمة لواء الاسكندرون ، والذي بات إسمه الرسمي اليوم "Hatay  " ، تلك المدينة التي تقع على نهر العاصي ، والتي تطل على كافة المناطق الملتهبة في سورية ، حيث تقوم قوات بشار الأسد المؤدلجة والهمجية  ، والتي يطلق عليها زوراً هذه الأيام " الجيش السوري النظامي " بدك كافة المدن ومعظم القرى السورية بالمدافع والطائرات والصواريخ بحجة سيطرة  " الجيش الحر " عليها . إن ماخلفته وتخلفه مدافع وصواريخ وطائرات " حماة الديار!" بل والأصح هو "حماة عائلة الأسد !! " مئات الشهداء ،الذين معظمهم من المدنيين المسالمين العزّل ، ومعظم هذا المعظم هم من الأطفال والنساء  والشيوخ ، الأمر الذي أجبر عشرات الألوف من سكان هذا الشمال على الهرب من هذا الجحيم ، إلى أقرب ملاذ آمن ، ألا وهو الجارة تركيا ، حيث زاد عدد هؤلاء اللاجئين عن الستين ألفاّ ، حتى تاريخ هذه المقالة .
لن أتعرض لاإلى الأماكن التي زرتها ، ووقفت بنفسي على الأحوال المؤلمة بل والمبكية  لللا جئين والجرحى السوريين من مدنيين وعسكريين المتواجدين فيها ،  ولا إلى المسؤولين المعنيين بأمر هؤلاء اللاجئين والجرحى الذين التقيت بهم ، وبالتالي الحوارات التي دارت بيني وبينهم  ،  وذلك في إطار بحثي عن الحقيقة ، والتي هي ضالة المؤمن ، بل ضالة الباحث العلمي ،الذي عليه أن يتمسك بها حيثما وجدها ،
وإنما سأشير فقط إلى الانطباعات النهائية ، التي تركتها في نفسي ، وفي عقلي ، هذه الزيارة السريعة لمخيمات ومستوصفات مايزيد عن الستين ألفاً من اللاجئين السوريين في تركيا ، والذين تقع مسؤولية تشريدهم ، وتدمير أسرهم ،سواء بالقتل الكامل أو الجزئي لبعض أفراد هذه الأسر، أوبالسجن والتشريد للبعض الآخر ـ بطبيعة الحال ـ على بشار الأسد ومرتزقته وشبيحته من المدنيين والعسكريين .
أبرز هذه الانطباعات هي :
تفتقد ثورة آذار 2011 السورية ، إلى قيادات وخبرات سياسية واقتصادية واجتماعية ، تساعد شباب الحراك الثوري بجناحيه المدني والعسكري ، في كفاحهم الثوري ، وتقصر المسافة الزمنية بين هذا الحراك وبين وصوله إلى هدفه المنشود في إسقاط نظام بشارالأسد بما هو نظام ديكتاتوري ، عسكري ، و شبه طائفي .
 لقد ذكر لي أحد شباب ثورة آذار (منذ زمن ليس بالبعيد ) وهو ممن أثق بوطنيتهم ، وأخلاقهم ، ودرجة وعيهم ، عدداً من الأفكار التي مثلت مفاجأة سارة لي ، لم أكن أتوقعها من شاب في عمره ، أبرز هذه الأفكار التي سسأوردها على لسانه بقدر ماتسعفني ذاكرتي ، هي قوله :
 إننا شباب صغار السن ، ومحدودو التجربة والخبرة ولا نجد أمامنا ، ونحن نقود هذه الثورة ، سوى أئمة المساجد ، ورجال الدين التقليديين ،الذين يعلنون دعمهم وانحيازهم للثورة ، ويقفون فعليًاً معنا  ( يعني شباب الحراك الثوري ) ، في الوقت الذي نتمنى فيه على الآخرين ، أن يعلنوا انحيازهم أيضاً للثورة ، ولكن ، انحيازاً كاملاً ومطلقاً ، لاغمغة فيه ولا عوج ، وأن يضعوا خبراتهم تحت تصرفها ، بما هي ثورة حرية وكرامة ،هدفها الأساسي هو " إسقاط نظام عائلة الأسد " ، واستبداله بنظام مدني ديموقراطي ، يرتكز على ثلاثة أثافي هي: صندوق الإقتراع ، العدالة الاجتماعية ، والدستورالذي يمثل مبدأ " المساواة في المواطنة " أساسه السياسي والاجتماعي ، في مرحلة مابعد بشار. ( تابع صديقي الشاب حديثه ) : إن انحياز مثل هؤلاء الأشخاص والجماعات ، من ذوي الخبرة والتجربة ، للثورة ، يجنب الثورة ،أن تبدو للكثيرين ، في الداخل والخارج ، كما لوكانت ذات طابع ولون ديني معين ، في حين أنها واقع الحال ليست كذلك ، إنها ثورة الشعب السوري بكل فئاته العمرية والسياسية والاجتماعية ، والتي عمل النظام على تهميشها ، وتجاوزها ، منذ نصف قرن ، وهو ما يصب في مصلحة إسرائيل ومن وراءها وأمامها .
لايلمس المرؤ وضوحاً كافياً لدى الكثيرين ممن قابلتهم والتقيت بهم من مدنيين وعسكريين ، لمفهومي الحرية والكرامة اللذين باتا الشعارالأبرزلثورة آذارولثوارها . إن ماتراه أكثرية شباب الثورة ــ وفق رؤيتنا وسماعنا ــ ، هو أن هذا النظام الذي يقاتلونه ، هو النظام الذي وضعت أسسه اللجنة العسكرية (البعثية) ،التي انبثقت عن ثورة الثامن من آذار1963، والتي بنى فوقها (الأسس) حافظ الأسد نظامه الديكتاتوري العسكري وشبه الطائفي عام 1970 ، ومن ثم ورّثه لولده بشارعام 2000، وهو نظام معاد للغالبية الساحقة من الشعب السوري وبالذات للسنة .
 إن ماينبغي قوله هنا لشباب ثورة آذار المجيدة ، هو أن نظام عائلة الأسد ، إنما استمد ويستمد قوته واستمراريته من مصادرة حرية وكرامة الشعب ، كل الشعب ، بكل فئاته وطوائفه ، وذلك من خلال السيطرة على مثلث الجيش والحزب والحكم ، ووضع هذا المثلث في خدمة " عائلة الأسد " بالذات ، بعد أن تبين لها ( عائلة الأسد ) أن قسما أساسياً من الطائفة العلوية ، رفض ويرفض ــ أسوة بأكثرية  أفراد الشعب السوري ــ هذا النظام ، نظام الاستبداد والفساد ، وأخيرا نظام " الحل الأمني " الذي واجه به المطالب  المشروعة والديموقراطية والوطنية لثورة آذار2011 ، والذي بلغت حصيلته حتى كتابة هذه المقالة مايزيد على ال 23000 شهيد ومئات ألوف الجرحى والمعوقين والمفقودين والمعتقلين الذين يواجهون الموت اليومي تحت سياط ودواليب وصواعق بشار الأسد ومرتزقته ، ناهيك عن تدمير المدن والقرى فوق رؤوس ساكنيها من الأسر المسالمة ، بمن في ذلك الأطفال والنساء والشيوخ ، الأمر الذي تسبب في موجات من الزوح الداخلي والخارجي ، الذي يعيد في سوريا ماحدث في فلسطين عام 1948 ، وما حدث في سورية وفلسطين عام 1967 ، وما حدث في غزة عام 2009  ولكن على يد " إسرائيل " !!
يلمس المرء حين يزور المستوصفات المتواضعة ،التي جهزتها لهم جمعيات أو منظمات إغاثية ، بعضها تركي ، وبعضها عربي ، وبعضها سوري ،  ويلتقي بالجرحى المدنيين والعسكريين ،الذين بترت بعض أطرافهم ، وتحولوا إلى معاقيين حتى الموت ، ويستمع إلى قصص كفاحهم وإصاباتهم وطرق وصولهم إلى تركيا ، لابد أن ينحني احتراماً وتقديراً لبطولاتهم ،وبطولات من تكبد عناء إيصالهم إلى بر الأمان في تركيا ، حيث لاتستطيع قنابل طائرات بشار الأسد ،  وبنادق وسيوف شبيحته ، أن تبتر مابقي من أعضاء جسمهم ، أو أن تجعلهم في عداد الشهداء ، ولابد أن يشعر بالخجل من نفسه أيضاً ، لأنه لايستطيع أن يقدم لهؤلاء الأبطال ، سوى الكلام المعسول الذي لايسمن ولا يغني .
إن ماآلت إليه أوضاعهم الجسدية والصحية ، جعلتنا نحس ونلمس في نبرات صوتهم تضارب وتداخل اليأس مع الأمل ،بيد أن إيمانهم بالله ، وبعدالة مطالبهم ومشروعيتها ،جعل عنصرالأمل أقوى في نفوسهم من عنصر اليأس . لقد كان مبتور الساق أو القدم أو الساعد ، يتكلم معك كما لو أنه إنسان طبيعي ، غيرمعاق وغيرمصاب ، وبالتالي فهولايطلب ممن حوله من الأطباء والممرضين ، ومن الزوار  أيضاً ، سوى تأمين الرعاية الكافية ، التي تجعله أكثر راحة وأكثر اطمئناناً على أسرته وعلى وطنه وعلى رفاقه ، وهو ممدد دون حراك فوق سريره البسيط .
لقد كان في  كلامهم أمور مسكوت عنها دون شك ، كنت من جهتي ، أراها وأقرؤها وأحس بها في  بعض حركات وجوههم ، وهو أمر طبيعي لمن هو في مثل ظروفهم وأوضاعهم . إن خبر انتصار الثورة السورية على النظام الفاشي في دمشق وحلب ، النظام الذي أوصلهم إلى هذه الحال المؤلمة والمؤسفة والمبكية وغير المحتملة ، هو مايمثل الثمن الحقيقي لتضحياتهم ، ولما آلت إليه أحوالهم الصحية وبالتالي الاجتماعية ، وهو ماسيجعلهم  ينسون كلمة مصابهم ، ويتذكرون فقط أن الله قد نصرهم على الظالمين ، وأنهم أصبحوا بعد نصف قرن من العبودية أحراراً ، تماماً كما أراد لهم عمر الفاروق .
الأسرة التي تعرفها كافة المجتمعات البشرية ، والمكونة من الأب والأم والأولاد ، لم تعد في المجتمع السوري الذي تحكمه وتتحكم به عائلة الأسد ، هي نفس الأسرة التي عرفها ويعرفها الإنسان منذ فجر التاريخ ، ولا سيما بعد تفجر ثورة آذار 2011 المجيدة ، فالأسرة السورية باتت ثلاثة أثلاث : ثلث للموت
وثلث للسجن ، وثلث لمخيمات اللاجئين إما في تركيا أو في لبنان أو في الأردن أو في العراق أوفي الجزائر أوحتى داخل سوريا نفسها !! بما يعنيه ذلك من شتات وعذاب وجوع وعطش وبرد ، بل ويأس من بعض الممارسات السياسة السورية والعربية والإقليمية والدولية ، والنظر إلى كل من سمح بوصول هذه الأسر الطيبة والمسالمة  إلى هذه الحالة المؤلمة والمؤسفة والمبكية وغير المحتملة وغيرالإنسانية  التي وصلت إليها ، سواء أكان سوريا أو عربياً أو أجنبيا ، باعتباره عدواً للثورة السورية ــ سواء أكان ذلك عن علم منه أو عن غير علم ــ ولابد أن يكون خاضعاً للمساءلة والحساب بعد سقوط  نظام بشار الأسد ( قذافي سورية ) ، إن لم يكن اليوم فغداً وإن غداً لناظره قريب .
يمكن إجمال مطالب من زرناهم والتقينا بهم وسمعنا منهم وعنهم في تركيا بالتالي :
ـــ بالنسبة للمقيمين في المخيمات من النازحين واللاجئين : فإن مطالبهم  تتلخص في مطلبين رئيسيين ، الأول هو الإسراع بالعمل على إعادتهم إلى بيوتهم التي هجروها في سورية طلباً للنجاة بأرواحهم وأرواح من بقي حياً من أولادهم ، والثاني هو أن تقوم الجهات المعنية ، ولاسيما الجهة المضيفة ،  بتأمين الحد الأدنى من وسائل العيش الكريم لهم ، وأن تعاملهم المعاملة الإنسانية  التي يستحقونها .
ـــ بالنسبة الجرحى الذين يعالجون في المستشفيات والمستوصفات : فإن مطالبهم تتلخص ، بمزيد من الرعاية الصحية التي يمكن أن تخفف عنهم إعاقاتهم ومعاناتهم ، وتعيد إليهم الأمل بالعودة إلى حياتهم الطبيعية ، وهو مايعني  تطبيقياً معالجتهم من قبل أطباء متخصصين ، سواء في البلد المضيف ، أو في أي مكان آخر . ومن جهة أخرى فإن شعورهم بأن أسرهم التي خلفوها وراءهم ، هي في مأمن من الخوف والقتل والجوع ، يجعلهم أكثر تقبلاً لظروفهم الجديدة ، وأكثر قرباً من الأمل وبعداً عن اليأس .
ـــ بالنسبة للجيش السوري الحر : فإن مطلبهم الأساسي يتمثل  بتأمين الأسلحة المتطورة لهم ، وتأمين الحد الأدنى لمعيشتهم ومعيشة أسرهم التي تركوها خلفهم . إن سيطرتهم على الأرض لاتمثل حماية لهم من طيران بشار الأسد ، المروحي منه والمجنح ، ولا من قصفه الصاروخي عن بعد ، ولذلك فإنهم يؤكدون على ضرورة تزويدهم بأسلحة حديثة مضادة للطائرات ، وأسلحة فعّالة مضادة للدبابات .
إن ماينبغي ذكره وتوكيده هنا ، وكحصيلة عامة لزيارتنا القصيرة إلى إنطاكية ، ووقوفنا على جانب من ظروف الفئات السورية الثلاثة التي أشرنا إليها أعلاه ، هو ارتفاع معنويات الجميع ، وإصرارهم على المضي في ثورة آذار حتى تحقيق هدفها الكبير في إسقاط نظام عائلة الأسد ، واستبداله بنظام وطني مدني ديموقراطي تعددي يقوم على العدل والمساواة ، ويحفظ لجميع أبناء الشعب السوري الحرية والكرامة .
يوم امس ( الأربعاء 15.08.2012 ) كنت أشاهد عبر التلفاز ، ماجرى لمدينة إعزاز من ريف حلب ، وكيف سوت بيوتها قنابل بشارالأسد ( بل قنابل روسيا وإيران وأمريكا وأوربا وبان كيمون وكوفي عنان
والجامعة العربية ومؤتمرات المعارضة السورية في الخارج والداخل ، ومنظمات حقوق الإنسان ، ومنظمات الصليب والهلال الأحمرين )  أقول كيف سوت هذه القنابل الفراغية مدينة عربية سورية بالأرض ، وكيف دمرت بيوتها فوق رؤوس ساكنيها ، من الأطفال والنساء والشيوخ ، أمام بصر وبصيرة كل هؤلاء الذين ذكرتهم ، هؤلاء المتفرجين (إلاّ من مؤتمرات رفع العتب والتصريحات التافهة ) على دمائنا ، وعلى أشلاء أطفالنا ، وعلى انتهاك حرماتنا ، من قبل من فقد الشرف والكرامة والحميّة من جيش بشار الأسد ، ومن حماة نظامه المجرم ، والذين كنا نطلق عليهم مجاملة وتعلقاً بالأمل " حماة الديار!! " .
إنني لاأملك أمام هذا الهول الذي رأيته يوم أمس في مدينة إعزاز الأبيّة ، سوى أن أردد على مسامع بشار الأسد ومناصري نظامه المجرم ،  من الشبيحة والمرتزقة ، قول الشاعر الجاهلي عمرو ابن كلثوم :
                         ألا لايجهلن أحد علينا           فنجهل فوق جهل الجاهلينا 

Ecuador Grants Julian Assange Asylum; U.S. Seen as "Hidden Hand" Behind U.K. Threat to Raid Embassy

Democracy Now!

"As Ecuador prepared to announce its decision on granting asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Britain threatened to raid the Ecuadorean embassy in London where Assange has taken refuge for the past two months. Britain told Ecuador that giving Julian Assange asylum would not change a thing and that it might still revoke the diplomatic status of Quito’s embassy in London to allow the extradition of the WikiLeaks founder to Sweden to face questioning over alleged sexual misconduct. We’re joined by Michael Ratner, an attorney for Julian Assange and president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and by Ben Griffin, an activist with Veterans for Peace UK, participating in a vigil in support of Assange outside the Ecuadorean embassy in London. "Is this really about the U.S. being the 'hidden hand' behind what the British are doing so that they can eventually get a hold of Julian Assange, try him for espionage and put him into a jail?" Ratner asks. "That’s what’s really going on here. Let’s not kid ourselves."...."

AN IMPORTANT REPOST: The Zionist Plan for the Middle East

A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties
By Oded Yinon

Translated and edited by
Israel Shahak


Read this, which was first published in 1982, and compare it with what is happening now in the Arab world.

"The Israel of Theodore Herzl (1904) and of Rabbi Fischmann (1947)
In his Complete Diaries, Vol. II. p. 711, Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, says that the area of the Jewish State stretches: "From the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates." Rabbi Fischmann, member of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared in his testimony to the U.N. Special Committee of Enquiry on 9 July 1947: "The Promised Land extends from the River of Egypt up to the Euphrates, it includes parts of Syria and Lebanon."......

....Oded Yinon is an Israeli journalist and was formerly attached to the Foreign Ministry of Israel. To our knowledge, this document is the most explicit, detailed and unambiguous statement to date of the Zionist strategy in the Middle East. Furthermore, it stands as an accurate representation of the "vision" for the entire Middle East of the presently ruling Zionist regime of Begin, Sharon and Eitan. Its importance, hence, lies not in its historical value but in the nightmare which it presents.

The plan operates on two essential premises. To survive, Israel must 1) become an imperial regional power, and 2) must effect the division of the whole area into small states by the dissolution of all existing Arab states. Small here will depend on the ethnic or sectarian composition of each state. Consequently, the Zionist hope is that sectarian-based states become Israel's satellites and, ironically, its source of moral legitimation.

This is not a new idea, nor does it surface for the first time in Zionist strategic thinking. Indeed, fragmenting all Arab states into smaller units has been a recurrent theme...... "

Syria: Fighter Jet Bombing Kills Over 40 Civilians

More than 100 Wounded in Attack on Azaz, Near Turkish Border

Human Rights Watch

August 16, 2012

"(Azaz) – A Syrian government fighter jet bombed a residential neighborhood, killing more than 40 civilians and wounding at least 100 others in the town of Azaz, including many women and children, Human Rights Watch said today after visiting the town. In the attack on August 15, 2012, at least two bombs destroyed an entire block of houses in the al-Hara al-Kablie neighborhood of Azaz, in Syria’s northern Aleppo province.

Human Rights Watch investigated the site of the bombing two hours after the attack and interviewed witnesses, victims, medical personnel, and relatives of those killed.

“This horrific attack killed and wounded scores of civilians and destroyed a whole residential block,” said Anna Neistat, acting emergencies director at Human Rights Watch. “Yet again, Syrian government forces attacked with callous disregard for civilian life.”

Azaz residents told Human Rights Watch that, at around 3 p.m., they saw a fighter jet drop at least two bombs on the residential area. Within seconds, dozens of houses in an area of approximately 70-by-70 meters – more than half a football field – were flattened. Houses on the surrounding streets were significantly damaged, with collapsed walls and ceilings. On the streets around the bombed area, windows were broken and some walls had collapsed.

Two opposition Free Syrian Army facilities in the vicinity of the attack might have been targets of the Syrian aircraft, Human Rights Watch said. One was the headquarters of the local Free Syrian Army brigade, in the former building of the Baath party, two streets away from the block that was hit. The other was a detention facility where the Free Syrian Army held “security detainees” – government military personnel and members of pro-government shabeeha militia. Neither of these facilities was damaged in the attack......"

Yemen: Two years on, journalist still behind bars after alleging US cluster bomb use

15 August 2012

"The Yemeni authorities must set aside the conviction of a journalist imprisoned after he alleged US involvement in fatal air strikes in the country – including the use of cluster bombs – and release him, Amnesty International said today.

Thursday marks two years since Abdul Ilah Haydar Shayi’, an investigative journalist specializing in counter-terrorism affairs, was arrested at his home in the Yemeni capital Sana’a, on charges of links to al-Qa’ida. He has been behind bars ever since.

On 18 January 2011, he was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. On 1 February 2011, former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh issued an order to free him, but it was not carried out after US President Barack Obama expressed concern over the journalist’s release.

Abdul Ilah Haydar Shayi’s lawyers and Yemeni activists say the charges against him were fabricated as a result of his investigative journalism.

“Ever since his arrest and trial, there are strong indications that Abdul Ilah Haydar Shayi’ was targeted for revealing evidence of the US role in a cluster bomb attack that killed dozens of residents,” said Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

“Two years on, he remains behind bars. The charges on which he was convicted appear to be based on what he has done as part of his legitimate activities as a journalist. As such his conviction must be set aside and he should be released.”......"

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: Syria: Reports of heavy shelling in Azaz

"Syrian warplanes have dropped bombs on a town in the north of the country.

The attack has left at least 30 people dead.

And no one was spared - women and children are among those killed.

It happened in the town of Azaz, which was under the protection of opposition fighters.

Warning: This package contains images that may disturb some viewers."

Al-Jazeera Video: Dozens killed in bombing in Azaz

"Dozens of people have been killed after heavy bombing in the village of Azaz, north of Aleppo.

The victims include a number of Lebanese hostages who were captured by Syrian rebels in May.

Al Jazeera's Stefanie Dekker reports from Reyhanli in neighbouring Turkey."

Azmi Bishara on the Criticism of FSA

‎1. لا بد من توجيه نقد صريح وواضح وقاطع لبعض ممارسات الجماعات المسلحة التي تقاتل في حلب وفي غيرها، سواء على مستوى خرق حقوق الإنسان وقتل الأسرى، أو محاكمتهم صوريا من دون سلطة قضائية، أو فرض التعليم العقائدي عليهم كما في الانظمة الشمولية، واستخدام اسلوب الشبيحة في التعامل مع الشبيحة. كما لا بد من نقد الخطاب السياسي الذي يستخدمونه وكأـنهم يريدون إقامة دولة شمولية بدل أخرى.
2. يرفض رفضا باتا وقاطعا اي تشكيك بمن ينتقد هؤلاء، فالتشكيك بدوافع النقد والناقد مهما كان نقده صحيحا هو نفس نهج انظمة الاستبداد في تضييع الموضوع بالهجوم والتحريض على من يطرحه، أو بادعاءات المؤامرة.
3. لقد ذاق الناس الأمرين وهم يتظاهرون من اجل الديمقراطية والعدالة، ومن يريد أن يفرض عليهم ثورة إسلامية بحجة انه يحمل السلاح، سوف يجد نفسه مضطرا الى القمع والقتل، وسوف يستبدل استبدادا بآخر.
4. هذا كلام ثوار يناضلون ويعانون على الارض، وهو كلام ذوي شهداء وآخرين أمضوا حياتهم في السجون، هذ حديث من أطلقوا هذه الثورة وما زالوا يناضلون في كل مكان في سوريا، وهو بالتأكيد ليس حديث تنظير ممن لم يقاتل على الارض. نقول ذلك لأنه غالبا ما ينظر شخص على الفيسبوك أو غيره ويدين من ينتقد ممارسات بعض الثوار بأنه ينظر ولا يفهم الناس على الارض، في حين أن المزاود نفسه الذي يتهم الناس بالتنظير لا يفعل شيئا آخر سوى الكتابة على الفيسبوك!! فلا يزاودن أحد على أحد، ويكفي الشعب السوري ما هو فيه، ولا يريد قمعا ولا كما للأفواه باسم شعارات أخرى، تتسربل بالإسلام هذه المرة. لن يقبل أبناء الشعب السوري من الثوار وغيرهم ان تكم أفواههم لا باسم المقاومة ولا باسم الثورة ولا باسم اي كتائب مهما كانت.
وليتواضع الجميع في خدمة قضية الشعب والثورة والحرية

With Syria in turmoil, Lebanon remains at risk

Syria may now have become the main arena in a Middle East proxy war, but the threat posed to the Lebanese is no less real

David Hirst, Wednesday 15 August 2012

".....It is all too reminiscent of the incremental processes that led to full-scale civil war once before. But these processes have so far been slow-moving, and one thing that might continue to slow them down is the conviction, in the anti-Syrian camp, that President Assad's fall has become inevitable. And when it comes, it will deal a devastating blow to Hezbollah, and automatically shift the whole internal Lebanese balance of power. So why not simply wait till that happens and take full advantage when it does? That moment, and how the rival parties – particularly Hezbollah – react to it, will be critical.

Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, must know this all too well. It probably accounts for his contradictory behaviour. On one hand he has been quite conciliatory in the face of the day to day political war of attrition waged against him by his domestic foes. On the other, at the price of a further erosion of his once immense prestige, he has taken to praising the Assad regime as rarely before.

It is probably no accident that this extraordinary identification with an utterly discredited, and probably doomed, order has come in conjunction with his Iranian patron's increasingly strident assertions that Assad shall not fall; for it will prevent that "by any means". What these means might be isn't certain, but one possibility is particularly troubling to the Lebanese. This is that an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear installations, or just the brazen sabre-rattling now heralding it, might furnish Iran and its allies with the opportunity for diversionary hostilities of an altogether different kind: including, of course, another war between Israel and Hezbollah."

"Resistance" Regime of Assad bombs and kills over 80 civilians in Azaz

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you see that president Mursi's latest decisions will be able to end the military rule and establish a democratic alternative in Egypt?

With over 1,600 responding, 88% said yes.

Israeli Journalist Gideon Levy on the Escalating Talk of a Military Attack on Iran

Democracy Now!

"Could Israel launch an attack on Iran before the U.S. election in November? On Friday, Israel’s largest-selling daily newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, published an article suggesting an Israeli attack could be imminent. The article reported: "Insofar as it depends on Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, an Israeli military strike on the nuclear facilities in Iran will take place in these coming autumn months, before the U.S. elections in November." To discuss the situation in Israel and the possibility of a military confrontation with Iran, we’re joined by Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, a columnist at the Haaretz newspaper....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Al Jazeera speaks to FSA spokesperson Abu Noor

"Al Jazeera speaks to Abu Noor, a spokesperson for the FSA brigade which has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the heart of the Syrian capital, Damascus."

Real News Video : Water Crisis in Egypt

Ahram Online reports on the village of Saft Al-Laban in Giza where people are demanding running water as life gets more unbearable

More at The Real News

Syria crisis: US accuses Iran of training militia – live updates

Brian Whitaker and Louisa Loveluck, Wednesday 15 August 2012

Hezbollah and Assad

When a prominent and outspoken Assad sympathiser gets arrested in Lebanon on terrorism charges, it is not merely a security issue, Patrick Galey writes in an article for Comment is free.

Discussing the arrest last week of former information minister Michel Samaha, he finds the lack of reaction from Hezbollah interesting:

As Lebanon braced itself for the violent fallout of Samaha's arrest, something strange happened: nothing. The expected backlash from fellow Assad supporters in Lebanon (and there are many) never came.

The reasons behind Hezbollah's restraint are straightforward, if a little unexpected. The party is not, as is commonly supposed, strategically allied to Assad (even if it may be so politically). For all the gossip that Hezbollah fighters are operating alongside pro-government gangs in Syria, its military arm has steadfastly refused to get drawn into conflicts within Lebanon concerning the Syria crisis ...

Hezbollah may prefer [Assad's] regime to the alternatives but it gets directives and funding from Iran, not Syria. For sure, the fall of a friendly regime would inconvenience Hezbollah. But an inconvenience is not worth tearing Lebanon apart for, and Hezbollah seems to understand this.
Regime's strategy 'is failing'

A no-fly zone in Syria would hasten the regime's fall, military analyst Jeffrey White writes in an article for the Washington Institute, an American thinktank. But even without that, "the regime's strategy for dealing with the rebellion is failing," he says.

White says regime casualties in July are estimated at 1,100 killed or wounded, and those of rebel fighters at 624. He points to "a number of processes" whose cumulative effects he says are wearing the regime down:

• Escalating clashes in nine of 14 provinces in July
Growing attrition in personnel and equipment from combat, defection, and assassination
• Signs that its forces are losing the will to fight (surrenders, abandoning of positions, failure to press attacks)
• Operational and tactical failures, including the loss of territory and positions
• Loss of the infrastructure of control due to seemingly well-conceptualised rebel attacks (eg, on police stations, checkpoints, border posts, intelligence and security offices, the headquarters of the Baath party and the regime's "Popular Army" militia)
• Improving rebel military capabilities in terms of organisation, numbers, and weapons
• Attacks on state-run or associated media facilities and personnel, undermining Assad's ability to control people and territory

My family's dilemma over Syria

I understand my mother's suspicion of foreign interference in the Arab world, but I still believe in the need for Assad to go

Sharif Nashashibi
(Chairman and co-founder of Arab Media Watch, an independent, non-profit watchdog set up in 2000 to strive for objective coverage of Arab issues in the British media.), Wednesday 15 August 2012

"....My mother's concerns stem from a deep-seated suspicion of foreign (particularly western) interference in the Arab world – a suspicion validated by history – and the fact that her family belongs to two of Syria's numerous minorities: Christians and Armenians.

I grew up on heartwarming stories of my mother being raised in a tolerant, secular society, where people of all faiths intermingled freely and happily. She speaks with nostalgia of helping her Jewish neighbour in Aleppo during the Sabbath, and of her marriage to my late father – a Muslim – during which religion was never an issue between them, or their families. These fond memories, and the increasingly sectarian nature of the conflict, shape her views......

Despite all that, though, I still firmly believe in the need for Bashar al-Assad and his regime to go. There is simply no feasible or acceptable scenario whereby he and his party can continue their decades-old, repressive, totalitarian rule.

Bashar may be secular but, like his late Iraqi counterpart Saddam Hussein, he is an equal opportunities oppressor, and the rich history of coexistence in both countries was not created by the Ba'ath parties. Indeed, my mother's inclusive childhood predates the Assad dynasty.

If a post-Assad Syria is to avoid the abyss of civil war, under no circumstances should minority rights be hindered. However, while it must be acknowledged that support for Assad is not limited to minorities, and opposition to him does not come solely from the Sunni Muslim majority, there are those who resent what they see as minorities' complicity or silence regarding his crackdown.

At the same time, one cannot ensure minority rights by repressing the majority (as has happened to Syria's Sunnis) – that, too, is a sure way to civil war. So it is incumbent on the opposition to reassure the minorities, and incumbent on minorities to stand with their revolutionary compatriots. Basically, the rights of all should be considered, respected, and treated as equal......"

Guardian Video: Assad regime verging on collapse, says former Syria PM Riyad Hijab

The former Syrian prime minister, Riyad Hijab - the highest ranking defector from Bashar al-Assad's government - says forces loyal to the president have lost control of two-thirds of the country, and urges them to follow the example of their Egyptian and Tunisian counterparts in taking 'the side of the people', Wednesday 15 August 2012

Syria: Fighter Planes Strike Aleppo Hospital

Government Rocket Attacks Over Two Days Kill Four Civilians, Wound Five

Human Rights Watch
August 15, 2012

"(Aleppo) – Syrian government fighter planes fired rockets that struck the main emergency hospital in an opposition-controlled area of Aleppo on August 14, 2012, wounding two civilians and causing significant damage, Human Rights Watch said today after visiting the damaged hospital.

A rocket attack by government aircraft on the hospital two days earlier, on August 12, apparently killed four civilians and wounded three, Human Rights Watch said.

Fighter jet attacks on a hospital twice in three days indicate that this was no accident,” said Ole Solvang, emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch. “By firing rockets at a clearly marked hospital, the government shows blatant disregard for civilian lives.”

Human Rights Watch visited the Dar al Shifaa Hospital, in the Sha’ar neighborhood of Aleppo, about one hour after the August 14 attack, and examined the physical damage and rocket remnants. Hospital staff told Human Rights Watch that no opposition fighters were deployed at the hospital at the time of the two attacks, and only several armed hospital guards were providing security. Human Rights Watch saw no signs of opposition military activity in or around the hospital building......"

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Julian Assange will be granted asylum, says official

Ecuador's president Rafael Correa has agreed to give the WikiLeaks founder asylum, according to an official in Quito

Irene Caselli in Quito, Tuesday 14 August 2012

"Ecuador's president Rafael Correa has agreed to give Julian Assange asylum, officials within Ecuador's government have said.

The WikiLeaks founder has been holed up at Ecuador's London embassy since 19 June, when he officially requested political asylum.

"Ecuador will grant asylum to Julian Assange," said an official in the Ecuadorean capital Quito, who is familiar with the government discussions......"

Egypt’s Morsi Ousts Top Generals, But Key Military Insiders Tapped to Fill the Gaps

Democracy Now!

"In a major shakeup, Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi, dismissed the country’s two top generals over the weekend, field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and military Chief of Staff Sami Enan. Morsi also quashed the army’s recent constitutional declaration that had curbed the new leader’s powers. "What’s, I think, most important to realize is that all of the new appointments came from within the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces," Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous says from Cairo. "These weren’t outsiders that came in to replace them."....."

Sharif Abdel Kouddous on Zabadani, a Syrian Town Under Siege with No End in Sight

Democracy Now!

"Sharif Abdel Kouddous reports on his recent trip to Zabadani, a besieged Syrian town near the Lebanon border. "[Zabadani] is basically waiting for some kind of solution to happen and is yet really on the receiving end of the majority of the violence," says Kouddous, whose latest article, "On the Ground in Zabadani, a Syrian Town in Revolt," was published in The Nation on Monday..."

Al-Jazeera Video: Exclusive report inside al Tadamun

"An exclusive report from inside a Damscus suburb where people say they are trapped and helpless.

The clip was filmed by citizen journalist Matar Ismail from inside al Tadamun neighbourhood

Government troops and rebels have been battling for control of the capital for weeks.

Activists say tanks are on the streets and there are reports of raids and mass arrests."

Al-Jazeera Video: Defected Syrian PM calls government "enemy of God"

"Riyad Hijab, the former Syrian prime minister, speaking to the press for the first time since his defection, has called the government of Bashar al-Assad an "enemy of God".

Speaking at a news conference in the Jordanian capital, Hijab said he defected to the 17-month-long opposition movement through his own volition and that reports of his dismissal by Syrian authorities were inaccurate."

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Egypt: Breaking free?

"Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's president, has only been in power for two months but it would appear he is keen to stamp his authority on Egypt. In a move that surprised the nation, he dismissed Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, the chief of armed forces, and his number two General Sami Annan. Tantawi had been in the post for more than 20 years. So, is it the beginning of a transition to civilian rule in Egypt? Or is it just the Muslim Brotherhood tightening its grip on the country? And what role will Egypt's wealthy military play in the future?"

Shifting truths in Sinai

By Ramzy Baroud
Asia Times

"The wider purpose behind a massacre of Egyptian soldiers early this month, and who was responsible for it, has escaped serious analysis in the West and even in Egypt itself. The fact that Israel seems to have made the most political hay out of it, at the expense, as usual, of Gaza, is one clue....

In Western mainstream media, few asked who benefits from all of this - from once more isolating Gaza, shutting down the tunnels, severing Egyptian-Palestinian ties, embroiling the Egyptian military in a security nightmare in Sinai, and much more.

The Muslim Brotherhood website had an answer. It suggested that the incident "can be attributed to the Mossad"......"

Video: CNN Gets into Aleppo

CNN has a video report from Aleppo. It also shows the perilous journey in and out of the city as they try to avoid snipers

Egypt's revolution reloaded?


President Morsi's sacking of his defence minister propels the Egyptian revolution into a new, pivotal phase.

By Mark LeVine

"In hindsight, it was always going to come to this: A Muslim Brotherhood president throwing down the gauntlet against the military that has dominated Egypt for 60 years by firing the leader who ushered former President Hosni Mubarak from power. But it's still, quite literally, a breathtaking development, and seems to close the book on the SCAF-led transitional era.

Or does it?.....

Permanent coup d'etat

In a very real sense, Egyptians have been living in a "permanent coup d'etat" for decades, as long as the country has been under emergency rule. The continuing coup since Mubarak's removal, despite several rounds of parliamentary and presidential elections, could not but fail to produce a functioning constitutional system that would lead the country towards a new political dawn, precisely because the raison d'etre of the state - or rather, the raison d'etat - continues to lie in its own survival - that is, in the survival of the existing networks of power, wealth, control and violence to maintain them.....

A second possibility is that Morsi's actions could hew much closer to the traditional coup d'etat - that is, the state acting to protect and preserve itself. This would be the case if it turns out that Tantawi and Anan's dismissals were in fact coordinated with the senior leadership of SCAF, who realised they would be better protected by allowing the new president to assume ostensibly full power, in exchange for ensuring they do not face prosecution for all the crimes SCAF has committed since Mubarak's ouster (such as the Maspero massacre of two dozen Copts, and the arrest, torture and military trials of untold thousands of people) and for leaving the massively corrupt economic system in place.

Indeed, there has been much evidence in the last year and a half that the Brotherhood and the military, whose economic interests and social outlook have moved closer together in the last decade, are "in bed together". If so, Morsi is not so much taking charge of the state as he is acting to preserve the interests of an expanding ruling elite that increasingly includes the Brotherhood leadership, if not the majority of its membership....

Another possibility is that Morsi is being set up to fail by SCAF and the larger power elite it represents: that, by allowing him to retire Tantawi, assume full control of the legislative and executive functions of an interim government, and even take direct responsibility for launching what is being reported as an extremely violent military assault in the Sinai, Morsi is being given full responsibility for the consequences of actions that he does not have enough power to carry out successfully.

If the process of writing a constitution does not move forward, the economy does not improve, the violence against the Sinai Bedouin blows back by strengthening extremists, and Morsi winds up seeming to protect foreign economic and strategic interests (the US, IMF, Israel), he will turn out to have been the victim of a brilliant strategic move by SCAF and the existing "state", who likely imagine themselves to stand a better chance long-term contending for power against the revolutionaries of Tahrir and their liberal and labour allies than the far better-organised and disciplined Brotherhood....."

Monday, August 13, 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: Syria rebels 'shoot down warplane'

Al-Jazeera Video: Egypt president sweeps out army rulers

"Egypt's military signalled its acquiescence on Monday to President Mohammed Morsi's surprise decision to retire the defence minister and chief of staff and seize back powers that the nation's top generals grabbed from his office.

Morsi's shake-up of the military on Sunday took the nation by surprise.

Al Jazeera's Jane Dutton and Sherine Tadros take a closer look at the transformation of Egypt's military leadership."

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrian rebels bid to block road to Aleppo

"Rebels in the town of Ariha are stepping up efforts to block a main artery to Aleppo, a key route due to its proximity to the Aleppo-Latakia highway that connects Syria's largest city with the Mediterranean coast.

Over the past two weeks, the army has been using the highway to deploy tanks and armoured vehicles from Tartus on the coast, to Aleppo.

If the route is blocked, it would be a major blow to the government force's supply lines.

Al Jazeera's Khadija Magardie has this exclusive report.

Al-Jazeera Video: 93 قتيلا وإسقاط طائرة لجيش الأسد

"قالت لجان التنسيق المحلية في سوريا إن ثلاثة وتسعين شخصا قتلوا اليوم بنيران الجيش السوري النظامي معظمهم في ريف دمشق ودرعا وحلب. في غضون ذلك ، تواصلت المعارك بين الجيشين الحر والنظامي في مناطق بدمشق وحلب، بينما أعلن الجيش الحر عن إسقاط مقاتلة تابعة لسلاح الجو السوري في بلدة الموحسن في محافظة دير الزور تقرير : عمر غانم
تاريخ البث 2012/08/13

Criminalizing Dissent

By Chris Hedges

"The very name of the law itself -- the Homeland Battlefield Bill -- suggests the totalitarian credo of endless war waged against enemies within “the homeland” as well as those abroad.....

Contrast this crucial debate in a federal court with the empty campaign rhetoric and chatter that saturate the airwaves. The cant of our political theater, the ridiculous obsessions over vice presidential picks or celebrity gossip that dominate the news industry, effectively masks the march toward corporate totalitarianism. The corporate state has convinced the masses, in essence, to clamor for their own enslavement. There is, in reality, no daylight between Mitt Romney and Obama about the inner workings of the corporate state. They each support this section within the NDAA and the widespread extinguishing of civil liberties. They each will continue to funnel hundreds of billions of wasted dollars to defense contractors, intelligence agencies and the military. They each intend to let Wall Street loot the U.S. Treasury with impunity. Neither will lift a finger to help the long-term unemployed and underemployed, those losing their homes to foreclosures or bank repossessions, those filing for bankruptcy because of medical bills or college students burdened by crippling debt. Listen to the anguished cries of partisans on either side of the election divide and you would think this was a battle between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. You would think voting in the rigged political theater of the corporate state actually makes a difference. The charade of junk politics is there not to offer a choice but to divert the crowd while our corporate masters move relentlessly forward, unimpeded by either party, to turn all dissent into a crime."

Don't go to Israel because it mistreats Palestinians, South Africa tells citizens as mayors cancel trip

In Johannesburg, a graffiti artist helped promote this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week.

By Ali Abunimah

"“Because of the treatment and policies of Israel towards the Palestinian people, we strongly discourage South Africans from going there,” South Africa’s deputy minister of international relations and co-operation has told the Mail & Guardian.

The Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim added that this was South Africa’s “general policy,” but more so “in regard to municipalities, since they are part of government.”

South African mayor’s visit to Israel canceled....."

Israel’s ‘Bomb Iran’ Timetable

by Ray McGovern, August 13, 2012

"More Washington insiders are coming to the conclusion that Israel’s leaders are planning to attack Iran before the U.S. election in November in the expectation that American forces will be drawn in. There is widespread recognition that, without U.S. military involvement, an Israeli attack would be highly risky and, at best, only marginally successful.

At this point, to dissuade Israeli leaders from mounting such an attack might require a public statement by President Barack Obama warning Israel not to count on U.S. forces — not even for the “cleanup.” Though Obama has done pretty much everything short of making such a public statement, he clearly wants to avoid a confrontation with Israel in the weeks before the election.

However, Obama’s silence regarding a public warning speaks volumes to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The recent pilgrimages to Israel by very senior U.S. officials — including the secretaries of state and defense carrying identical “PLEASE DON’T BOMB IRAN JUST YET” banners — has met stony faces and stone walls......

Netanyahu gives every evidence of believing that — for the next 12 weeks — he is in the catbird seat and that, if he provokes hostilities with Iran, Obama will feel compelled to jump in with both feet, i. e., selecting from the vast array of forces already assembled in the area.

Sadly, I believe Netanyahu is probably correct in that calculation. Batten down the hatches."

Al-Jazeera Video: Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh reports from Cairo

Al-Jazeera Video: Medic sneaks into Syria to help injured

"One of the challenges inside Syria is getting medical help to the tens of thousands of people who have been injured in the fighting.

This prompts one Syrian-Canadian surgeon to sneak into Syria from Turkey every few months to provide desperately needed medical care.

Dr. Anas al-Kassem has also set up clandestine clinics there.

Al Jazeera's Daniel Lak met him at his home in the Canadian town of Oakville."

Al-Jazeera Video: حديث الثورة - قراءة في تطورات المشهد السوري

Al-Jazeera Video: حديث الثورة - مرسي ومعركة انتزاع الصلاحيات

"تسلط الحلقة الضوء على جوانب تتعلق بالصلاحيات بين الرئيس مرسي والمؤسسة العسكرية، من ناحية، والعلاقة الخاصة بسياسة مصر الخارجية في ضوء ما جرى في شبه جزيرة سيناء مؤخرا، فكيف سيوفق الرئيس المصري بين هذه التقاطعات في ظل التزامات مصر المتعلقة بمعاهدة كامب ديفد والحاجة الأمنية للسيطرة على سيناء؟

In the end, all Israel and her Western allies want to do is to break Iran – via Syria

The long view: A video allegedly shows Samaha transporting explosives from a car in an underground car park

By Robert Fisk

"....Among those who dwell in the deep politics of Lebanon, however, there are other thoughts. New sanctions have been levelled against a Syrian oil firm. Sanctions were taken against Lebanese Hezbollah two days ago. Madame Clinton is raging against Assad but doing nothing. Leon Panetta, the cliché-laden US Defence Secretary, said the battle for Aleppo was "the nail in the coffin" of the Assad regime. But right now the armed revolutionaries are retreating. In the end, it's all about Iran, the target of Qatar's and Saudi Arabia's and America's and Israel's suspicion and hatred. Break Iran – via Syria.

So how does the arrest of an Assad intimate, Michel Samaha, fit into all this? Just another rusty nail in the coffin?....."

Egypt reacts after Morsi moves against military chiefs - live updates

Haroon Siddique and Louisa Loveluck, Monday 13 August 2012

'Reconfiguring of relationship'

The Arabist's Issandr El Amrani writes that the relationship between the president and the military has been reconfigured:

The overall impression I get is of a change of personalities with continuity in the institution (Supreme Council of Armed Forces). More junior officers are taking the posts of their former superiors, and some Scaf members are shifting positions. The departure of Tantawi was inevitable considering his age and unpopularity ...

This continuity suggests to me that we are dealing with a reconfigured SCAF that is nonetheless a powerful entity that still has powers parallel to the presidency and other civilian institutions. It is not, as the initial reaction to today’s news largely was, a victory by Morsi over the military. Rather, it is a reconfiguration of the relationship. Even so, it does appear the presidency comes out reinforced.

Referring to the president's assumption of constitutional powers previously held by Scaf, he writes:

It’s hard to think of a way to avoid this considering the lack of alternatives and the mess Egypt is in, but Morsi has effectively, on paper, dictatorial powers. It will largely come down to how he uses them, especially as the last thing Egypt needs is a government unable to make decisions and address urgent problems simply because the parliament is not in place ...

These moves will be seen by many opponents of the Brotherhood as a power grab, and the fact that Morsi has amassed considerable power (again, on paper) is indeed cause for concern. The power to appoint a new constitutional assembly is particularly key, if he ends up using it, I certainly hope it will be to appoint something acceptable to non-Islamists rather than impose the one Islamists wanted earlier this year (unfortunately, the MB’s sense of electoral entitlement makes me pessimistic here)

عزمي بشارة والمسألة القبطية والغبن المزمن

"من أكثر الوقائع إيلاماً في التاريخ الحديث للمشرق العربي أن يصبح السريان، على سبيل المثال، مجرد جوال متناثرة في بقاع العالم المختلفة، وهم الذين منحوا اسمهم للأرض الممتدة بين جبال طوروس وزاغروس وسيناء، فصارت تدعى سوريا. وهذا المصير نفسه الذي انتهى إليه صابئة العراق والكلدان والأشوريون من شأنه ان يفاقم ظاهرة الاندثار والانحلال للأقوام الحضارية القديمة في الشام والعراق. وفي مصر التي عرفت تطابق اسم الشعب مع اسم الأرض ولدت كلمة
Eygept من كلمة «القبط».

وما يثير الأسى حقاً أن تندثر من سجلات التمدن في المشرق العربي مدن عظيمة كالرها ونصيبين وحران ورأس العين وانطاكيا وماردين وجنديسابور. وكثيرون اليوم يريدون أن يواروا في غياهب النسيان تاريخ مصر البهي وحقائقه التي ما زالت ماثلة حتى اليوم. ولعل الأقباط في مصر يمثلون مشكلة ملتبسة فعلاً.

فهم سكان مصر القدماء، مع أن المسلمين أيضاً، او الجزء الأكبر منهم، هم سكان مصر الأصليون أيضاً. وكل ما في الأمر ان قسماً من الشعب اعتنق المسيحية في حقبة ما، ثم اعتنق كثيرون منه الإسلام مع الفتح العربي أو في مراحل أخرى. فلا أحد، في هذه الحال، يكون مصرياً أكثر من الآخر على الإطلاق. ومع ذلك فثمة مشكلة قبطية في مصر، هي مشكلة هوية ومشكلة مواطنة، ومشكلة دينية، ومشكلة نظام سياسي في الوقت نفسه.

يقول عزمي بشارة: «إن أي نظام ديموقراطي مقبل في مصر لا يمكنه الاكتفاء بالتشديد على تآخي الطوائف، وسيكون عليه ان يعالج قضايا عينية (ص 8). ويخلص إلى الاستنتاج أن هناك ملفاً قبطياً مفتوحاً، ويؤكد ان الأقباط المصريين لا يحتاجون إلى التسامح فهم مواطنون أصليون لا يحتملون، من حيث وعيهم بذاتهم، أي نوع من التمييز. ومفتاح التعامل مع هذا الملف هو المواطنة المتساوية، والديموقراطية هي الاطار الملائم لهذه المقاربة (ص 70). فهل يتحمل النظام السياسي المصري الجديد هذه الصيغة؟ وهل تتمكن مصر من اعادة الاعتبار لمبادئ ثورة 1919 العلمانية والليبرالية؟ أم ان سيطرة الإسلاميين على الرئاسة وعلى السلطة التشريعية سيحول دون انطلاقة المصريين نحو تأسيس نظام سياسي عصري يعانق تطلعات المصريين بمن فيهم المصريون الأقباط؟
إن كتاب عزمي بشارة هذا محاولة ثاقبة لفهم الأقباط في تطلعاتهم وإحباطاتهم، في حراكهم ونكوصهم، في شغفهم بمصر ورغبتهم في مغادرتها. والكتاب على صغر حجمه (78 صفحة من القطع الصغير) يفيض بالأفكار والآراء والتحليل والخلاصات التي تشتـبك معرفياً بالرغبة في ابتداع الحلول.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: Morsi's decision a 'game changer'

"Fawaz Gerges is the director of the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics.

He told Al Jazeera in an interview that the firing of the Egyptian defence minister was a "game changer"."

Al-Jazeera Video: الجزيرة تدخل أحد سجون الجيش الحر بريف حلب

Egypt's Morsi fires defence minister Tantawi

The Egyptian president has ordered the powerful head of the army and defence minister, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, into retirement and cancelled constitutional amendments issued by the military restricting presidential powers.

Mohamed Morsi announced through a spokesman on Sunday the dismissal of Tantawi and his appointment as a presidential adviser.
According to state television, Abdul-Fatah al-Sessi would replace Tantawi as defence minister and the general commander of the army.
Morsi also sent into retirement the chief of army staff, Sami Anan, and appointed him as a presidential adviser.
Lieutenant-General Sidki Sayed Ahmed was named as Anan's replacement.
Morsi further appointed a senior judge, Mahmoud Mekki, as vice-president. All decisions are effective immediately.
The latest moves are seen as escalating the power struggle between Morsi, who took office on June 30, and the military.
Tantawi was the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which ruled the country after Hosni Mubarak was toppled as president in February 2011.
He was defence minister for nearly two decades under Mubarak.

Brotherhood-military tensions
Morsi, from the Muslim Brotherhood, and his Islamist allies did not hide their displeasure with the amendments issued by the military in mid-June curtailing the president's role and granting the army massive powers, including legislative control.
Earlier this week, Morsi sacked the head of the intelligence service.
Besides Tantawi and Anan, Morsi also ordered the retirement of the commanders of the navy, air defence and air force.
The retired navy commander, Lieutenant-General Mohan Mameesh, was named as chairman of the Suez Canal, the strategic waterway linking the Red Sea and the Mediterranean and a major source of revenues for the country.
Al Jazeera's correspondent, Sherine Tadros, reporting from Cairo, said the president's spokesperson made the surprising announcement on state television.

"There will be a lot of questions asked, especially if Morsi is able to do this," she said.
"In the coming hours, we will find out how this decision came about. All of this has happened very fast, and it was unexpected."

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Syria -Iran's role in the Syrian crisis

Al-Jazeera Video: بلا حدود - تركيبة الأجهزة الأمنية والشبيحة فى سوريا

"يشرح السفير السوري المنشق نواف الفارس تعقيدات عملية الانشقاق عن النظام في سوريا، الدولة الأمنية في سوريا تبدء منذ مرحلة الحضانة في المدارس، أحداث الثمانينات واستغلال حافظ الأسد السيئ لها، سيطرة الطائفة العلوية على الجيش السورى بنسبة 90%، القوى المؤثرة في صناعة قرار بشار الأسد، دور عائلة الأسد في الحكم في سوريا، الثورة الحالية واعتماد خيار قتل الشعب السورى بجميع أنواع الأسلحة التي لم تستعمل ضد إسرائيل التي تحتل جزء من الدولة السورية
احمد منصور

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Are you satisfied with the international attempts to help the Syrian people in their crisis?

With over 1,000 responding, 96% said no.

Egypt’s shooting of an elephant

By Adel Iskandar
Al-Masry Al-Youm
Sat, 11/08/2012

"In a span of 10 days, militants killed 16 Egyptian guards near the Israeli border, Amr al-Bunni died trying to collect his wages from Nile City Towers, and Moaz Mohamed lost his life to a burnt shirt in Dahshur. In Egypt today, tragedy and farce are two faces of one coin.

Intertwined within each of these deaths are layers of tragedy and decades of injustice. Yet all of this is lost in the noise of polarized perspectives and historical amnesia. So when Egyptian soldiers on duty near the Israeli border were attacked and killed in a shadowy, suspicious incident in which the objectives of the assailants seem largely beyond logical comprehension, the distribution of blame was weighted in favor of the farcical.

If the attackers were Palestinian militants, then they would be acting in their disinterest by attacking their allies and jeopardizing relations with Egypt, losing the sympathy of Egyptians and blockading themselves as the border shut.

Even under Hosni Mubarak, arguably the most hostile Egyptian regime to the well-being of Palestinians in Gaza, no attack of this sort or scale had ever occurred. Why then is such an incident taking place during a time when Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh is received as the president of Palestine by Mohamed Morsy?

And if it is not a Palestinian militia, then maybe it is Sinai’s Bedouins, whose “unfounded” anger, frustration and animosity toward the Egyptian state might have caused them to commit such a crime.

What do they have to complain about besides having their land annexed by the state, sold at comical prices to investors and developers, and then being locked out of employment and revenue-generating possibilities for two decades? Are they not content with their lives becoming global cliches, as tourists dress in their likeness and go on desert excursions to drink coffee under the stars to appreciate their prehistoric lifestyles? Surely they understand that the years of frequent and systematic arrest, interrogation and mistreatment of their kin are imperative in the name of national security...."