Saturday, September 28, 2013

محاضرة افتتاحية لعزمي بشارة بعنوان: أسئلة الديمقراطية والمواطنة في زمن التحولات

Egypt: Release journalist facing military trial for Sinai coverage

"An Egyptian journalist facing an unfair military trial over his coverage of events in Sinai must be immediately and unconditionally released, said Amnesty International ahead of a hearing in his case on Sunday.

The organization believes that Ahmed Abu Deraa, 38, an award-winning journalist, and father of two, is being prosecuted for challenging the army’s version of its operations in the restive North Sinai region.

The authorities’ decision to try a journalist and a civilian in a military court is a serious blow to press freedom and human rights in Egypt,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “Egyptian military trials are notoriously unfair and in any event, trying civilians in military courts flouts international standards.”

Ahmed Abu Deraa, a correspondent for Al-Masry al-Youm, an Egyptian daily newspaper, is accused of publishing false information and trespassing on a military zone without a permit. He was arrested on 4 September at a coastal border guard base after he went there to inquire about an injured relative arrested in early September following a military operation in the village of Muqat’a.

Ahmed Abu Deraa is one of the few independent voices reporting from North Sinai, an area which has been plagued by security threats and instability. The armed forces have conducted several military operations since July 2013 against what the authorities describe as militant groups active in the region.

During a press conference on 15 September, the military spokesperson maintained that the armed forces respect media freedom. He argued that Abu Deraa had made false claims that the armed forces destroyed mosques, evicted residents and targeted women and children during military operations.  

Since the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi on 3 July, army checkpoints, security personnel and government buildings have come under increased attack by militants. In one of the bloodiest incidents, on 19 August, 25 conscripts with the Central Security Forces were ambushed on the road and killed by armed militants.

A day before his arrest, Ahmed Abu Deraa posted a message on Facebook reporting that the Egyptian army had bombed the villages of Muqat’a and Touma in Sheikh Zaid in North Sinai. Six homes and a mosque were damaged in the attack, he said. He also reported that the military arrested an injured resident. In an earlier post, he explicitly questioned the army’s and media’s version of events in North Sinai.

“The charges against Ahmed Abu Deraa should be dropped, and he should be immediately released,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

Arresting reporters for doing their job under the pretext of fighting terrorism is a breach of Egypt’s international obligations and undermines the right of Egyptians to receive information. Journalists must be able to carry out their professional duties without fear of being targeted by the authorities or facing arbitrary restrictions on their work. The Egyptian authorities’ and armed forces’ respect for freedom of expression will be judged by their actions, not their rhetoric.”

Ahmed Abu Deraa faces charges of spreading false information which endangers “national security” and “weakens fiscal confidence in the country” and its “prestige”. He also faces a separate charge for entering a prohibited military zone without a permit. If convicted, he could face five years in prison.

Under the Code of Military Justice, military courts deal with crimes committed in military bases or other locations occupied by soldiers.

Earlier this week, Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Nabil Fahmy, assured his US counterpart, John Kerry, that civilians will not face military trials in Egypt.

Mohamed Sabry, another independent, Sinai-based journalist, is also facing military trial after his arrest on 4 January. He is charged with trespassing and filming in a prohibited place without authorization.

Military trials

Since 3 July there has been a worrying increase in military trials of civilians, particularly in Suez. A number of alleged supporters of the deposed president Mohamed Morsi were convicted after unfair trials by military courts in Suez. For instance, on 3 September, the Suez Military Court convicted 47 civilians to prison terms ranging from five years to life for committing violent acts, while over a dozen other civilians were acquitted. Their lawyers complained about facing obstacles in getting access to their clients.

Other recent military trials are not linked to the political turmoil. For example, on 24 July, two men, Ramadan Ahmed Ismail Mahfouz, 32, originally from Fayoum, and Mohamed Amin Mohamed, originally from Aswan, were sentenced to one year imprisonment terms for insulting and punching a soldier by the Suez Military Court. The charges are based on an altercation with the soldier at a checkpoint.

More than 12,000 civilians were tried unfairly by military courts during the 17-month rule of the army from February 2011-June 2012.

Amnesty International opposes the trials of civilians by military courts, which in Egypt are fundamentally unfair and breach a number of fair trial safeguards, including the right to a fair and public hearing before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law.

Egypt is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which enshrines the right to a fair trial.

The suspended 2012 Constitution, as well as the July 2013 Constitutional Declaration, allow for the trial of civilians by military courts. The campaign group No to Military Trials and other Egyptians NGOs and activists are urging the 50 member committee currently revising the Constitution to explicitly prohibit the trial of civilians by military courts in all circumstances.  "

Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the 'pathetic' American media

Pulitzer Prize winner explains how to fix journalism, saying press should 'fire 90% of editors and promote ones you can't control'

The Guardian

"Seymour Hersh has got some extreme ideas on how to fix journalism – close down the news bureaus of NBC and ABC, sack 90% of editors in publishing and get back to the fundamental job of journalists which, he says, is to be an outsider.

It doesn't take much to fire up Hersh, the investigative journalist who has been the nemesis of US presidents since the 1960s and who was once described by the Republican party as "the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist".

He is angry about the timidity of journalists in America, their failure to challenge the White House and be an unpopular messenger of truth.

Don't even get him started on the New York Times which, he says, spends "so much more time carrying water for Obama than I ever thought they would" – or the death of Osama bin Laden. "Nothing's been done about that story, it's one big lie, not one word of it is true," he says of the dramatic US Navy Seals raid in 2011.

Hersh is writing a book about national security and has devoted a chapter to the bin Laden killing. He says a recent report put out by an "independent" Pakistani commission about life in the Abottabad compound in which Bin Laden was holed up would not stand up to scrutiny. "The Pakistanis put out a report, don't get me going on it. Let's put it this way, it was done with considerable American input. It's a bullshit report," he says hinting of revelations to come in his book.

The Obama administration lies systematically, he claims, yet none of the leviathans of American media, the TV networks or big print titles, challenge him.

"It's pathetic, they are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy [Obama]," he declares in an interview with the Guardian.

"It used to be when you were in a situation when something very dramatic happened, the president and the minions around the president had control of the narrative, you would pretty much know they would do the best they could to tell the story straight. Now that doesn't happen any more. Now they take advantage of something like that and they work out how to re-elect the president.

He isn't even sure if the recent revelations about the depth and breadth of surveillance by the National Security Agency will have a lasting effect.

Snowden changed the debate on surveillance
He is certain that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden "changed the whole nature of the debate" about surveillance. Hersh says he and other journalists had written about surveillance, but Snowden was significant because he provided documentary evidence – although he is sceptical about whether the revelations will change the US government's policy.

"Duncan Campbell [the British investigative journalist who broke the Zircon cover-up story], James Bamford [US journalist] and Julian Assange and me and the New Yorker, we've all written the notion there's constant surveillance, but he [Snowden] produced a document and that changed the whole nature of the debate, it's real now," Hersh says.

"Editors love documents. Chicken-shit editors who wouldn't touch stories like that, they love documents, so he changed the whole ball game," he adds, before qualifying his remarks.

"But I don't know if it's going to mean anything in the long [run] because the polls I see in America – the president can still say to voters 'al-Qaida, al-Qaida' and the public will vote two to one for this kind of surveillance, which is so idiotic," he says.

Holding court to a packed audience at City University in London's summer school on investigative journalism, 76-year-old Hersh is on full throttle, a whirlwind of amazing stories of how journalism used to be; how he exposed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, how he got the Abu Ghraib pictures of American soldiers brutalising Iraqi prisoners, and what he thinks of Edward Snowden.

Hope of redemption
Despite his concern about the timidity of journalism he believes the trade still offers hope of redemption.

"I have this sort of heuristic view that journalism, we possibly offer hope because the world is clearly run by total nincompoops more than ever … Not that journalism is always wonderful, it's not, but at least we offer some way out, some integrity."

His story of how he uncovered the My Lai atrocity is one of old-fashioned shoe-leather journalism and doggedness. Back in 1969, he got a tip about a 26-year-old platoon leader, William Calley, who had been charged by the army with alleged mass murder.

Instead of picking up the phone to a press officer, he got into his car and started looking for him in the army camp of Fort Benning in Georgia, where he heard he had been detained. From door to door he searched the vast compound, sometimes blagging his way, marching up to the reception, slamming his fist on the table and shouting: "Sergeant, I want Calley out now."

Eventually his efforts paid off with his first story appearing in the St Louis Post-Despatch, which was then syndicated across America and eventually earned him the Pulitzer Prize. "I did five stories. I charged $100 for the first, by the end the [New York] Times were paying $5,000."

He was hired by the New York Times to follow up the Watergate scandal and ended up hounding Nixon over Cambodia. Almost 30 years later, Hersh made global headlines all over again with his exposure of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

Put in the hours
For students of journalism his message is put the miles and the hours in. He knew about Abu Ghraib five months before he could write about it, having been tipped off by a senior Iraqi army officer who risked his own life by coming out of Baghdad to Damascus to tell him how prisoners had been writing to their families asking them to come and kill them because they had been "despoiled".

"I went five months looking for a document, because without a document, there's nothing there, it doesn't go anywhere."

Hersh returns to US president Barack Obama. He has said before that the confidence of the US press to challenge the US government collapsed post 9/11, but he is adamant that Obama is worse than Bush.

"Do you think Obama's been judged by any rational standards? Has Guantanamo closed? Is a war over? Is anyone paying any attention to Iraq? Is he seriously talking about going into Syria? We are not doing so well in the 80 wars we are in right now, what the hell does he want to go into another one for. What's going on [with journalists]?" he asks.

He says investigative journalism in the US is being killed by the crisis of confidence, lack of resources and a misguided notion of what the job entails.

"Too much of it seems to me is looking for prizes. It's journalism looking for the Pulitzer Prize," he adds. "It's a packaged journalism, so you pick a target like – I don't mean to diminish because anyone who does it works hard – but are railway crossings safe and stuff like that, that's a serious issue but there are other issues too.

"Like killing people, how does [Obama] get away with the drone programme, why aren't we doing more? How does he justify it? What's the intelligence? Why don't we find out how good or bad this policy is? Why do newspapers constantly cite the two or three groups that monitor drone killings. Why don't we do our own work?

"Our job is to find out ourselves, our job is not just to say – here's a debate' our job is to go beyond the debate and find out who's right and who's wrong about issues. That doesn't happen enough. It costs money, it costs time, it jeopardises, it raises risks. There are some people – the New York Times still has investigative journalists but they do much more of carrying water for the president than I ever thought they would … it's like you don't dare be an outsider any more."

He says in some ways President George Bush's administration was easier to write about. "The Bush era, I felt it was much easier to be critical than it is [of] Obama. Much more difficult in the Obama era," he said.

Asked what the solution is Hersh warms to his theme that most editors are pusillanimous and should be fired.

"I'll tell you the solution, get rid of 90% of the editors that now exist and start promoting editors that you can't control," he says. I saw it in the New York Times, I see people who get promoted are the ones on the desk who are more amenable to the publisher and what the senior editors want and the trouble makers don't get promoted. Start promoting better people who look you in the eye and say 'I don't care what you say'.

Nor does he understand why the Washington Post held back on the Snowden files until it learned the Guardian was about to publish.

If Hersh was in charge of US Media Inc, his scorched earth policy wouldn't stop with newspapers.

"I would close down the news bureaus of the networks and let's start all over, tabula rasa. The majors, NBCs, ABCs, they won't like this – just do something different, do something that gets people mad at you, that's what we're supposed to be doing," he says.

Hersh is currently on a break from reporting, working on a book which undoubtedly will make for uncomfortable reading for both Bush and Obama.

"The republic's in trouble, we lie about everything, lying has become the staple." And he implores journalists to do something about it."

Friday, September 27, 2013

Al-Jazeera Video:تجدد الاحتجاجات على رفع أسعار المحروقات بالسودان

Will Israel follow Hassan Rouhani ‘s advice? By Carlos Latuff

Iran Nuclear Non Proliferation Israel UN

Threat Inflation 6.0: Does al-Shabab Really Threaten the U.S.?

By Stephen M. Walt

"....Got it? For Americans to be 100 percent safe on American soil, the U.S. government has to get more deeply involved in the local politics and national security problems of this troubled East African region -- using the FBI, CIA, special operations forces, drones, whatever -- in order to root out bad guys wherever they might be.

There are two obvious problems with this line of reasoning. First, it fails to ask whether America's repeated interference in this and other parts of the world is one of the reasons groups like al Qaeda and al-Shabab sometimes decide to come after us. Indeed, to the extent that the United States might face a threat from al-Shabab, it might be because Washington has been blundering around in Somali politics since the early 1990s and usually making things worse. The same goes for Kenya too. Al-Shabab attacked the mall because Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011 and their intervention had undermined al-Shabab's position in that troubled country. Kenya may have had its own good reasons for intervening; my point is simply that the tragic attack it suffered wasn't a random act. On the contrary, it was a direct consequence of Kenya's own policy decisions. To say that in no way justifies this heinous attack -- it merely identifies cause and effect.

Ditto al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden didn't get up one day and decide he wanted to launch a few terrorist attacks, pull out his atlas, and pick the United States at random. His decision to attack U.S. military forces and government installations, and then to attack the United States directly, was reprehensible and an obvious threat, but it didn't come out of nowhere. On the contrary, the emergence of al Qaeda was a direct response to various aspects of America's Middle East policy (e.g., blanket support for Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia and the U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf through the 1990s). As I've noted before, the United States has devoted most of its energy and effort since then to chasing down bad guys and killing them, but hardly any time trying to act in ways that would make the terrorists' message less appealing to potential recruits.

So before we declare the Kenyan bombing a direct threat to the United States and get more directly involved in a set of regional dynamics that we don't understand very well, we ought to ask ourselves if this will make the terrorism danger that we face worse or better. ...."

Sudan: Security forces fatally shoot dozens of protesters as demonstrations grow

"The Sudanese security forces must immediately stop using arbitrary and unlawful force against protesters, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies and Amnesty International urged today, after confirming that at least 50 demonstrators were killed on Tuesday and Wednesday after being shot in the chest or head.

Local sources and activists have put the figure much higher, in excess of 100, and at the time of writing the two organizations were still receiving reports of shootings and excessive use of force.

The organizations also expressed deep concern for the hundreds of people reportedly detained by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) and urged the Sudanese authorities to ensure that they are protected from torture and other ill-treatment.  

Shooting to kill – including by aiming at protesters’ chests and heads – is a blatant violation of the right to life, and Sudan must immediately end this violent repression by its security forces,” said Lucy Freeman, Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

Protests broke out in cities around Sudan after President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir announced cuts to fuel subsidies on 22 September. The following day, thousand of protesters took to the streets in Wad Madani, soon followed by the capital Khartoum, Omdurman, Port Sudan, Atbara, Gedarif, Nyala, Kosti, and Sinnar.

According to information received by the organizations, Sudanese police and NISS officers used disproportionate force – including firing tear gas and live ammunition – to disperse the demonstrations......"

Al-Jazeera Video: المشهد المصري 27/9/2013

Sudan security forces kill at least 50 protesters: rights groups

A man passes a burnt bank during protests over fuel subsidy cuts in Khartoum September 26, 2013. REUTERS/ Stringer
"(Reuters) - Sudanese security forces have killed at least 50 protesters with shots to the head or chest, two rights groups said on Friday, challenging the authorities' narrative of the worst unrest in Sudan's central regions for years.
Spurred on by the lifting of fuel subsidies on Monday, thousands of people have taken to the streets in Khartoum and central Sudan to protest against corruption and demand veteran President Omar Hassan Bashir step down.

Sudan's police, which has cracked down on the protests, said late on Thursday that battles with protesters had killed 29 people, among them police officers. Sudanese opposition activists have put the death toll at over 100.

London-based Amnesty International and the New York-based African Center for Justice and Peace Studies said at least 50 people had been killed by gun shots to the chest or head, citing witnesses, relatives, doctors and journalists.

Among the dead was a 14-year-old boy, while most other victims seemed to be between 19 and 26 years old, the groups said in a statement. Hundreds had been detained, it said.
"Shooting to kill - including by aiming at protesters' chests and heads - is a blatant violation of the right to life, and Sudan must immediately end this violent repression by its security forces," said Lucy Freeman, Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International......"

Tunisian rapper jailed for insulting government

Large-scale protests against ruling Ennahda party reflect growing disapproval of government crackdown on rights

"As thousands of Tunisians around the country took to the streets on Thursday to demand the ouster of the Islamist-led government, a rapper was curtly sentenced to six months in prison amid the country’s growing pains as a new democracy.
Tunisian rapper Klay BBJ was jailed for songs deemed insulting by the authorities. The verdict, which his supporters slammed as a sign of the government's growing intolerance, was delivered after a 90-minute trial.
Klay BBJ, whose real name is Ahmed Ben Ahmed, said during the hearing that he was being tried for criticizing the government, led by the Ennahda party, which is frequently accused of trying to stifle the freedom of expression Tunisians fought for in the 2011 revolution.
"Our songs criticize the current situation in Tunisia and the government, no more and no less. I am among the rappers most critical of the government and that is why (the authorities) are after me," he told the judge.
His lawyer, Ghazi Mrabet, said he would appeal the verdict.
"It is a new injustice targeting artists. I will appeal and continue the fight," Mrabet told AFP.
Klay BBJ was on trial for defamation, insulting officials and undermining public morals in songs he sang alongside fellow rapper Weld El 15 at a concert last month in the eastern town of Hammamet, where Thursday's trial took place.....

A political trial

Supporters of Klay BBJ condemned Thursday's ruling, saying it was proof that the authorities were determined to suppress freedom of expression.
"This is just a political trial. It's a scandal to put an artist in prison for his songs. It's another step towards the establishment of a new dictatorship in this country," said Thameur Mekki, who runs a support group for musicians pursued by the authorities.
"They want to humiliate us one by one, to crush all our hopes. I fear for our country," said Mohamed Amine Hamzaoui, another Tunisian rapper, visibly emotional after Thursday's ruling.
Rights groups say the draconian penal code inherited from the regime of Ben Ali, which is still in force, is used extensively to stifle criticism......."

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Real News Video:Massive Disparity Between Military and Humanitarian Aid to Syria

Rania Khalek: External players in Syria spend much more fueling conflict then aiding refugees

More at The Real News

Al-Jazeera Cartoon: Role of Official Egyptian Media

Israel: New Unlawful West Bank Demolitions

Soldiers Assault Residents, Diplomats, Aid Workers at the Scene

"(Jerusalem) – Israeli military forces should cease actions in a West Bank Bedouin community that were apparently intended to displace the residents without lawful justification. The military demolished all homes in the community on September 16, 2013, and blocked four attempts by humanitarian groups to provide shelters, with soldiers using force against residents, humanitarian workers, and foreign diplomats on September 20. Under international humanitarian law in effect in the occupied West Bank, the deliberate unlawful forced transfer of a population is a war crime.

An Israeli court in August rejected a petition against military demolition orders by residents of Mak-hul and other Bedouin communities, on technical grounds. On September 24, more than a week after Mak-hul was demolished, the court temporarily suspended any further demolitions.

The Israeli military should end its unjustified attempts to forcibly remove a decades-old community,” said Joe Stork, acting Middle East director. “Israeli forces didn’t just rough up diplomats, they demolished every single building in Mak-hul and ordered the residents to leave and never come back.”

Israeli forces demolished all 58 buildings in Mak-hul on September 16, displacing at least 48 residents, according to UN reports. The soldiers then blocked and confiscated two aid deliveries and demolished shelters built by another humanitarian group with the wreckage left over from the first demolitions, residents and humanitarian workers said.

Numerous witnesses said that on September 20, Israeli forces threw “sound bombs” – disorienting, non-lethal grenades that make a loud noise on impact – at diplomats and aid workers attempting to deliver tents and other aid. Israeli forces also assaulted two Bedouin residents, who were later hospitalized, arrested three, and confiscated the truck and its cargo, witnesses said......."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Al-Jazeera Video: ما وراء الخبر- تهويد الأقصى ومفاوضات الحل النهائي

Egypt faces third revolution unless workers' demands are met, warns union

in Cairo
The Guardian,

"Egypt may eventually face its third revolution since 2011 if the country's new government does not meet the demands of its frustrated labour movement, a leading trade unionist has warned.
Egypt's prime minister, Hazem el-Beblawi, recently proposed a minimum wage increase for state employees, in what was supposed to be a populist gesture.
But the leader of the Egyptian federation of independent trade unions (Efitu), a group founded during the 2011 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak, has denounced the move as too little too late.......

Other activists fear the wage proposal is a bluff aimed at placating the powerful labour movement for a few months and until the government has finished suppressing Morsi's Islamist loyalists.
"It's just to postpone the fight with the workers till January," said Hossam el-Hamalawy, a prominent labour activist and revolutionary. "During that time they will have killed off the so-called terrorists, and then they can turn their full attention to the workers."
Egypt's labour movement was one of the main forces behind the 2011 uprising that ousted Mubarak, while their prolific strikes helped destabilise Mohamed Morsi during the final months of his presidency.
Hamalawy argued that Morsi's army-backed successors fear the movement could have a similar effect on their own administration, particularly after the strikes and sit-ins in Suez and Mahalla this summer.
"The labour movement is the biggest threat to any government," he said. "It's not armed groups that break down a regime but mass strikes.".......

But activists opposed to the authoritarianism of both the Brotherhood and the army are beginning to re-emerge, as Monday's formation of a new revolutionary group indicated.
Some of the most prominent names from the 2011 uprising – including Ahdaf Soueif, Ahmed Maher, and Alaa Abdel Fatah – congregated to introduce the movement, the Road of the Revolutionary Front.
"The revolution's goals are being forgotten and hence there is a need for this front," said Maher at the meeting......."

"كان الموقف الأميركي داعما للانقلاب في مصر، أما علنا فبدا مترددا خجولا يتجنب تعريف ما جرى. خطاب الرئيس الأميركي برر هذا الموقف وجعله علنيا.‬
" -- Azmi Bishara on Facebook

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you support banning the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt?

With about 600 responding so far, 86% said no.

Jeremy Scahill: Al-Shabab’s Nairobi Mall Rampage Tied to "Disastrous" U.S. Meddling in Somalia

Democracy Now!

"Kenya has begun three days of mourning for at least 67 people killed in the siege of the Westgate Mall in Nairobi. The death count could still rise if more bodies are found in the rubble of the mall’s three floors. The Somali militant group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack, calling it retaliation for Kenyan military intervention in Somalia. We’re joined by independent journalist Jeremy Scahill, who reported from both Kenya and Somalia for his recent book and film, "Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield." Scahill says the Bush administration’s decision to back Ethiopia’s overthrow of Somalia’s Islamic Courts Union in 2006 helped fuel al-Shabab’s growth into the dominant militant group that it is today: "Al-Shabab was largely a non-player in Somalia and al-Qaeda had almost no presence there. The U.S., by backing [Somali] warlords and overthrowing the Islamic Courts Union, made the very force they claimed to be trying to fight."....."

Real News Video: The Survival of the Palestinian People is Itself a Form of Resistance Pt.3

In this last segment of Reality Asserts Itself with Rania Masri, Paul Jay asks why she considers Israel the "enemy" state; the one state solution; and the possibility of a new political leadership amongst the Palestinians


More at The Real News

Al-Jazeera Video: الاتجاه المعاكس.. هل ضحكت أميركا على ثوار سوريا؟

Eliminate the Brotherhood at your peril

By Rami G. Khouri
The Daily Star
Rami G. Khouri
"An Egyptian court’s decision Monday to ban all activities in the country by the Muslim Brotherhood is the kind of foolish act that autocratic governments take when they do not know how to engage in a process of democratic pluralism and seek refuge in their mistaken sense of infallibility. The real issue at hand is not a decision by a minor court regarding the legality of the Muslim Brotherhood’s registration last March; it is rather about the ongoing attempt by the armed forces and allied political groups to eliminate the Muslim Brotherhood from the public scene in Egypt.This is foolish in every respect – in politics, culture, religion, constitutionalism – and shows the crude immaturity of the armed forces as an instrument of governance. The ongoing assault against the Muslim Brotherhood has included killings, beatings and mass arrests that have temporarily thrown the organization into disarray. Trying to eliminate it will not work, and will only send Egypt into a deeper cycle of political polarization, immobility and some violence. Egypt requires pluralism, engagement, negotiations and compromise, in order to achieve consensus on key issues. Banning the Brotherhood goes against all these imperatives, and will only make things worse.

Egypt is passing through a period of relativities, not absolutes, regarding both the armed forces and the Brotherhood who are both key actors in society. The vast majority of Egyptians have repeatedly asserted that they trust the armed forces to manage a short-term transitional process that ends with the installation of a legitimate, elected government, president and parliament.
The citizenry also values the security forces’ role in ensuring stability and security throughout the country. But Egyptians do not want the military to rule the country. They experienced that for 60 years from 1952 to 2011. The revolution in January 2011 demonstrated their clear rejection of that kind of system that saw Egypt become a forlorn global backwater of mediocrity and mismanagement. Egyptians do not view the military in absolute, black-and-white terms.

Similarly, Egyptians also do not view the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists in absolute terms, but rather through a much more nuanced lens of relative benefits, concerns and practical efficiencies. The Brotherhood was the leading opposition movement in the country for decades, and paid the price for its courage by having thousands of its members jailed and tortured. Its social assistance programs endeared it to millions of poor Egyptians, as did its provision of the basic succor of religious hope and faith. It was always present at the local level in neighborhoods and villages everywhere. It spoke the language of the ordinary man and woman. It was always a strong element in the basic values and the core identity of most Egyptians. It did all these things naturally and efficiently, while the old soldiers who ruled the country with an iron fist did almost none of these things.
So it was no surprise that the Brotherhood won the parliamentary and presidential elections that were held in the past two years, and they were rightly given the opportunity to run the country. They totally mismanaged their incumbency and showed that their prowess as a grassroots-based national social services and political opposition movement was matched by their incompetence as governors with legitimate authority. Worse than this was their inclination to be bullies in power, bulldozing an infantile and insulting constitution through a totally noncredible ratification process that only exposed their dark penchant to grab power by any means.

The Brotherhood, like the military’s old men with guns before it, quickly learned in turn that ordinary Egyptians viewed and judged it in relative, not absolute, terms. Egyptians liked the many things the Brotherhood offered them, but citizens wanted effective government services along with feel-good sermons and slogans. In over a year in power, the Brotherhood showed its total incompetence, which eroded its legitimacy. Consequently, tens of millions of Egyptians rallied against it in recent months, and ultimately removed it from office with the direct intervention of the armed forces.
The Brotherhood retains its core credibility in Egyptian society, given its compelling multimedia message – a blend of political hope, social justice, moral self-assertion, welfare assistance, a compassionate ear, a core identity, a values-based and homegrown humanity, and a free or affordable health clinic within walking distance of home. It now faces the enormous test of how to transform all this into an operational political machine that citizens trust to run the national government, rather than just a local soup kitchen.

The Brotherhood failed its first test in office, but cannot be disqualified forever from the political arena. Egypt has tried this kind of heavy-handed, one-party military rule, and it was a catastrophe. Repeating it would only add imbecility to the attributes of the Egyptian governance system that is heroically trying to reconfigure itself in a democratic and constitutional manner."

Poll: Americans have negative view of Obama on Syria, Iran


"As President Obama took to the world stage Tuesday addressing the United Nations General Assembly, a new CBS News/New York Times poll shows that more Americans disapprove than approve of how he is handling Syria, Iran and foreign policy, in general.

U.S.-Iran Relations

More Americans disapprove than approve of how Mr. Obama is handling relations with Iran. The poll was completed in advance of Mr. Obama's speech at the U.N.

As is the case on many issues today, there are sharp partisan splits: most Democrats approve (68 percent), while few Republicans (16 percent) do.

Americans don't foresee relations with Iran improving any time soon. Only 22 percent expect relations to improve in the next few years, while more expect them to stay the same (41 percent) or worsen (32 percent).

Republicans in particular expect things to worsen; Democrats are more positive.

Americans may find it hard to judge whether the recent outreach from Mr. Obama to the new Iranian president will lead to improvement. A plurality of 38 percent says they don't know what will come of that effort, 30 percent say it will make at least some difference in relations, and 30 percent think it won't matter much.

The Syrian Crisis

Although they have doubts it will work, Americans overwhelmingly favor (82 percent) the deal reached between the U.S. and Russia for Syria to turn over its chemical weapons.

On this, Democrats and Republicans agree.

But Americans remain skeptical that Syria will comply: two-thirds think it is unlikely that Syria will actually turn over all its chemical weapons to inspectors.

Americans still would not support airstrikes against the Syrian government, even if Syria fails to comply -- an option that the U.S. says remains on the table if the diplomatic solution ultimately fails.

Underlying these views, a large majority (68 percent) continues to believe in principle that the U.S. doesn't have a responsibility to do something about the fighting in Syria. As was the case earlier this month, majorities of Democrats and Republicans don't view this as a U.S. responsibility, and there has been little shift in the public's views about this in recent weeks, or over the longer term.

Most Americans don't differentiate in how civilians are killed: 68 percent say the international community should respond to all civilian killings the same, while 25 percent say civilian killings from chemical and biological weapons warrant a stronger response than killings using conventional weapons.

The President's Handling of Syria

Most Americans (64 percent) continue to say the Obama administration has not clearly explained their goals in Syria, though the percentage who says it has done so has risen in recent weeks (28 percent now; 14 percent earlier this month).

The president's approval rating on Syria has seen a small uptick to 37 percent from 33 percent two weeks ago, but remains mostly negative: 52 percent disapprove.

The president's rating on foreign policy overall is more negative than in July, before the escalation of U.S. involvement in the Syria crisis. Just 40 percent approve of his handling of foreign policy, while 49 percent disapprove - the highest disapproval he has ever received on this measure.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013



Al-Jazeera Video: في العمق- صناعة الكذب والتلاعب بالعقول


Real News Video: Opposing Intervention in Syria Without Apologizing for a Dictatorship

 In part two of Reality Asserts Itself, Paul Jay and Rania Masri discuss the charge that opposing foreign intervention is support for Assad; the idea that Assad is "anti-imperialist"; and the role of violence in fighting dictatorship

More at The Real News

Monday, September 23, 2013

مأزق ثورة سوريا في ضوء صفقة الكيميائي

لم نكن في حاجة إلى صفقة الكيميائي التي تابعنا تفاصيلها مؤخرا كي ندرك حجم المأزق الذي تعيشه الثورة السورية، وخلل ميزان القوى الذي يحول بينها وبين تحقيق الانتصار رغم الإرادة التي يمتع بها الثوار، ورغم الصمود المذهل الذي أبداه الشعب السوري في مواجهة نظام دموي لا يرحم.

وفي حين يبدو البعد الأول للمأزق الذي تعيشه الثورة السورية هو البعد الداخلي ممثلا في استناد النظام إلى أقلية متماسكة تتحكم بالمؤسسة الأمنية والعسكرية، ومن حولها أقليات أخرى ينحاز أغلب أبنائها للنظام، فإن البعد الخارجي هو الأكثر وضوحا على صعيد خلل ميزان القوى الذي منح النظام فرصة الصمود لعامين ونصف العام رغم الضربات التي تلقاها، ورغم سيطرة الثوار على حوالي 60% من التراب السوري.

لقد تمتع النظام بحجم إسناد خارجي بالغ القوة والتماسك، ولولاه لما كان بوسعه الصمود كل هذا الوقت، وتتشكل عناصر ذلك الإسناد من دعم إيران وحلفائها (العراق وحزب الله بشكل خاص، مع مليشيات شيعية أخرى) والذي تجاوز البعد العسكري المباشر (مقاتلين وأسلحة) إلى البعد الذي لا يقل أهمية ممثلا في البعد الاقتصادي.

وحيث يعلم الجميع أنه لولا الأموال التي تتدفق من إيران لدعم النظام، ومن العراق أيضا، لما كان بوسعه الصمود كل هذا الوقت، وصولا إلى قدرته على الصرف على المجهود العسكري الرهيب، معطوفا على مصاريف الدولة في ظل غياب عناصر الدخل الأخرى، أو أكثرها.
يعلم الجميع أنه لولا الأموال التي تتدفق من إيران والعراق لما كان بوسع النظام  الصمود كل هذا الوقت، وصولا إلى قدرته على الصرف على المجهود العسكري الرهيب، معطوفا على مصاريف الدولة
إلى جانب الدعم القادم من إيران وحلفائها يبرز الدعم الروسي الذي تمثل في البعد العسكري، لكنه كان أكثر وضوحا على الصعيد السياسي، حيث وقفت روسيا كسند سياسي عنيد وسط حالة تعددية قطبية منحتها فرصة التأثير الكبير في المشهد الدولي.

وقد جاءت قصة الكيميائي الأخيرة لتثبت أن روسيا تمثل بالفعل سندا بالغ القوة والتأثير للنظام، حيث تمكنت من الناحية العملية من إخراجه من مأزق كبير يتمثل في ضربة عسكرية لم تكن في وارد إسقاطه، لكنها وضعته في حالة خوف حقيقي.

على أن الأهم من ذلك كله في عناصر المأزق الذي تعيشه الثورة السورية هو ذلك المتمثل في الدعم المحدود الذي تتلقاه إذا حُسب بمنطق ميزان القوى مقارنة بالدعم الذي يتلقاه النظام، ذلك أن الجبهة التي تُحسب بوصفها داعمة للثورة تعيش تناقضات كبيرة تؤثر عليها وعلى واقع دعمها.

ليس من العسير القول إن الدولتين الوحيدتين اللتين كانتا حريصتين على انتصار الثورة منذ الشهور الأولى لحمل السلاح هما تركيا وقطر، الأولى بسبب القطيعة التي فُرضت عليها مع النظام بعد تردد طويل، ومن ثم الاستنزاف الذي بدأ يطالها من استمرار الثورة دون حسم، والثانية بسبب انحيازها التقليدي إلى جانب الثورات.

ما عدا ذلك، كانت للدول الأخرى حساباتها الخاصة في التعامل مع الثورة، فهي من جهة تريد العمل على تحجيم المحور الإيراني، فضلا عن حاجتها لدعم الثورة في ظل انحياز شعبي داخلي عارم لها، وهي من جهة أخرى لم تكن تريد للثورة انتصارا واضحا يمنح دفعة للربيع العربي الذي كانت مواجهته هي أولويتها الرئيسة خشية وصوله إليها، لاسيما أن القوى التي تصدرت المشهد بعده هي القوى الإسلامية، وهي ذات القوى الأكثر فاعلية على صعيد الداخل عندها.

ولأن السياسة أولويات، ولأن أولوية بعض داعمي ثورة سوريا هي مواجهة الربيع العربي، بينما تأتي إيران في المرتبة الثانية، فقد وجدت تلك الدول أن استمرار النزيف السوري يحقق الهدفين معا، إذ يستنزف إيران من جهة، ولا يمنح ربيع العرب دفعة جديدة بانتصار الثورة بشكل واضح من جهة أخرى.
لأن السياسة أولويات، ولأن أولوية بعض داعمي ثورة سوريا هي مواجهة الربيع العربي، بينما تأتي إيران في المرتبة الثانية، فقد وجدت تلك الدول أن استمرار النزيف السوري يحقق الهدفين معا
أميركيا وغربيا، لم تكن هناك إرادة ولا في أي لحظة لدعم الثورة على نحو يمنحها فرصة الانتصار، وذلك رغم بعض الخطاب السياسي الذي يناصرها، إن كان بسبب تبني قيم الديمقراطية في الظاهر، أم كان بسبب الموقف من إيران.

وحين نتذكر أن أميركا هي التي كانت تضغط دائما لمنع السلاح النوعي عن الثوار، فسيكون بوسعنا إدراك حقيقة الموقف الغربي التابع بشكل واضح لهواجس دولة الاحتلال التي وجدت في ثورة سوريا ثقبا أسود يستنزف إيران وحزب الله وتركيا وربيع العرب ويخلق فتنة سنية شيعية تريحها من وجع الرأس الذي يتسبب به الجميع، بل يمهد الأجواء لتسوية سياسية مع الفلسطينيين تحقق أغلب مطالبها.
وقد ازداد موقف هذه الجبهة وضوحا بعد صعود نجم الجماعات الجهادية في الثورة السورية، والتي يمكن القول إن دورها كان كبيرا في مواجهة النظام، لكن تأثيرها السياسي كان سلبيا على المواقف الدولية، وبعض العربية من الثورة.

في ظل هذا الخلل في ميزان القوى بين الثورة والنظام وجدت الثورة نفسها في حالة من المراوحة والاستنزاف، الأمر الذي ينطبق على النظام، ولولا قوة الإرادة والعزيمة للثوار، وصمود الشعب لكانت الثورة في وضع أسوأ، لاسيما بعد أن دخل حزب الله والحرس الثوري ومليشيات شيعية على الخط في ميدان القتال.

والحال أن هذا المأزق الذي تعيشه الثورة لم يكن غائبا عن وعي الكثيرين منذ البداية، وهو تحديدا ما دفعنا إلى القول منذ الشهور الأولى لحملها السلاح إننا أمام مشهد أفغاني بامتياز، سواء في بعده المتعلق بميزان القوى وطبيعة الصراع، مع فارق غياب ما يعادل القوة الأميركية في الحالة الأفغانية، أم في بعده المتعلق بمشاركة القوى الجهادية في الصراع، ويبدو أن هذا الأمر قد تأكد بشكل أكثر وضوحا الآن، من دون أن يكون بوسعنا التكهن بالوقت الذي ستستغرقه المعركة.

والسؤال الذي يطرح نفسه الآن، لاسيما بعد تلاشي سيناريو الضربة العسكرية، هو إلى أين يمضي المشهد، وهل نحن إزاء سيناريو استنزاف طويل جدا، أم أن الحسم قد يكون قريبا، وهل ثمة احتمالات أخرى؟

يبدو من الصعب الجزم بالقادم في المدى القريب، لكن احتمال الاستنزاف الطويل يبدو الأكثر ترجيحا، إذ لن يسمح داعمو الثورة بحسم من قبل النظام بعد كل الذي جرى، وفي المقابل فإن احتمال أن يلقي هؤلاء بثقل أكثر وضوحا لمنحها فرصة الانتصار لا يبدو قريبا أيضا في ظل الحسابات السياسية التي أشرنا إليها، وفي ظل المخاوف من دور الجماعات الجهادية.
يبدو احتمال الاستنزاف الطويل  الأكثر ترجيحا، إذ لن يسمح داعمو الثورة بحسم من قبل النظام بعد كل الذي جرى، وفي المقابل فإن احتمال أن يلقي هؤلاء بثقل أكثر وضوحا لمنحها فرصة الانتصار لا يبدو قريبا أيضا
الاحتمال الآخر يتمثل في أن يفرض المجتمع الدولي حلا وسطا يقبل به الروس، ويرضي الأميركيين (ومن ورائهم الكيان الصهيوني). حل يحركه هاجس الجماعات الجهادية أكثر من أي شيء آخر، وهو حل قد تدعمه تركيا وإيران تجنبا لمزيد من الاستنزاف الذي تتعرضان له، وقد يكون حلا برعايتهما أيضا إذا ما تفاهما عليه.

الاحتمال الآخر الذي قد يأمل فيه كثير من السوريين يتمثل في أن تحسم الدول الداعمة للثورة أمرها، وتتخذ قرارا واضحا بإلقاء ثقلها في اتجاه الحسم، حتى لو أخذت هواجس الخائفين من الربيع العربي بالحسبان، بحيث يؤدي ذلك إلى تغيير كبير في ميزان القوى، ومن ثم تغيير متفق عليه يأخذ في الاعتبار مصالح الجميع بعيدا عن مطالب إيران وحلفائها، وبعيدا عن الإملاءات الغربية والمطالب الإسرائيلية أيضا.

نتحدث هنا عن البعد الخارجي لأنه الأكثر تأثيرا، لكن البعد الداخلي لا يقل أهمية بحال، ويتمثل في تفاهمات أكبر بين قوى الثورة وفصائلها يقدم إسقاط النظام على أي هدف آخر، إلى جانب مساعٍ جادة لتفعيل البعد الشعبي للثورة، والذي غاب تماما في المرحلة الأخيرة، الأمر الذي ساهم عمليا في تغييبها كثورة شعبية وحشرها في إطار من التمرد المسلح على نظام سياسي.

إذا لم يحدث شيء من ذلك، فإن خيار الاستنزاف الطويل سيبقى قائما إلى أمد لا يُعرف مداه، لكنه لن ينتهي أبدا ببقاء بشار الأسد في السلطة، وحينها ستدرك إيران وحلفاؤها أية جريمة ارتكبوها بحق أنفسهم، وبحق سوريا وشعبها، وبحق الأمة بأسرها التي دخلت في مزاج حشد مذهبي غير مسبوق.

لقد جاء اتفاق الكيميائي ليفضح حقيقة النظام وداعميه، بخاصة إيران، فقد أسقط الاتفاق حكاية المقاومة والممانعة، وتبدى النظام وحلفاؤه على حقيقتهم كأصحاب مشروع طائفي لا صلة له بالمقاومة ولا بالممانعة، وقد أثبتوا قابليتهم لبيع كل شيء من أجل بقائه، وهم الآن بصدد تكرار اللعبة فيما يتصل بالملف النووي في إيران. ولا شك أن هذه الفضيحة سيكون لها دورها أيضا في تحسين شروط المعركة، أقله من الناحية السياسية.

Spilling the NSA’s Secrets: Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger on the Inside Story of Snowden Leaks

Democracy Now!

"Three-and-a-half months after National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden came public on the the U.S. government’s massive spying operations at home and abroad, we spend the hour with Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of The Guardian, the British newspaper that first reported on Snowden’s leaked documents. The Guardian has continued releasing a series of exposés based on Snowden’s leaks coloring in the details on how the NSA has managed to collect telephone records in bulk and information on nearly everything a user does on the Internet. The articles have ignited widespread debate about security agencies’ covert activities, digital data protection and the nature of investigative journalism. The newspaper has been directly targeted as a result — over the summer the British government forced the paper to destroy computer hard drives containing copies of Snowden’s secret files, and later detained David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald. Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian for nearly two decades, joins us to tell the inside story of The Guardian’s publication of the NSA leaks and the crackdown it has faced from its own government as a result......."

Is Hamas Finished? Facing a Youth Rebellion and Egyptian, Iranian Hostility

By Juan Cole

Just as the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was overthrown in part by the militantly secularist Tamarrud or Rebellion movement, so Palestinian youth in Gaza have thrown up their own Rebellion group. They feed stories to the Egyptian press such as that Hamas keeps a secret string of secret prisons where they imprison their ideological (secular) enemies and where they practice the ugliest kinds of torture and interrogations. The Gaza Rebellion/ Tamarrud movement claims to have masses of supporters and to be considered a real threat by Hamas.

In fact, the Israelis are now being a little nicer to Gaza than the Egyptians, since they are sending in a few truck loads of building materials, on which they still have restrictions lest Hamas build military bunkers with the cement. The extent of Israeli generosity should not be exaggerated. The USG Open Source Center translates this item for September 21: “Palestinian Information Center in Arabic at 0819 GMT on 21 September cites Deputy Jamal al-Khudari, chairman of the popular committee for confronting the siege, as saying that ‘losses incurred by the suspension of the projects of the private sector, the municipalities, and the various institutions in the Gaza Strip have reached $100 million as a result of the Zionist siege,’ adding that ‘Israel’s promises to allow entry of building material covers only 25 percent of these projects if Israel fulfills its promise, which means the continued disruption of many of these projects.’”

Some observers are speculating that the Egyptian army will intervene in Gaza to overthrow Hamas. Others think Hamas will be forced by its new financial woes to make up with the PLO, which runs the West Bank, and essentially put itself under President Mahmoud Abbas.

While it is true that guerrilla movements are difficult to simply starve out, Hamas does at the moment seem in real trouble. There have long been signs that Palestinian youth in Gaza are sick and tired of its extreme fundamentalism, so if change comes, it could have a local social base."

Palestinian Authority must end use of excessive force in policing protests

Amnesty International
Dozens of Palestinian police attacked peaceful protesters during two demonstrations in Ramallah in July 2012.
"Palestinian Authority (PA) police and security forces in the occupied West Bank must cease using unnecessary and excessive force against demonstrators, and must be held accountable when they commit human rights violations, Amnesty International said today.
A new briefing, published today details how police and security forces have repeatedly carried out unprovoked and unlawful attacks on peaceful protesters. It also accuses the PA authorities of allowing them to do so with impunity.
“Standards during the policing of demonstrations in the West Bank continue to fall woefully short of those prescribed by international law,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director of Amnesty International. “As a result, the rights to freedom of expression and assembly are being severely eroded.”
During incidents on 30 June and 1 July last year, police and security forces, some in plain clothes, violently attacked peaceful demonstrators who were protesting against a meeting in Ramallah between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and an Israeli government minister. At least five protesters required hospital treatment. The violence caused public outrage and in its aftermath President Abbas announced that he had appointed an Independent Investigative Committee to look into the conduct of the police and security forces. The Interior Minister also set up a separate internal investigation.
More than a year later, the PA has yet to publish the full report of the independent investigation although it has disclosed a summary of the findings, including that PA police and security forces used “unnecessary”, “unjustified” and “disproportionate” force against peaceful protesters who posed no risk and journalists, and acted outside the law. The Interior Ministry’s internal investigation is said to have reached similar conclusions, although its report has not been published either.
A 23-year-old woman who was hospitalized following the violence told Amnesty International:
“I was attacked by a police officer in civilian clothes who grabbed me, scratched my arm with his nails and kicked me on my legs… I was then attacked by a police officer in uniform who beat me with a baton on the head which made me fall on the ground.”
“Despite the findings of the Independent Investigative Committee, the PA has not prosecuted any of its police or security forces for the violence they perpetrated against peaceful protesters and other unlawful conduct in Ramallah on 30 June and 1 July last year,” said Philip Luther. “Such impunity inevitably fosters further abuses, as evidenced by further incidents in which PA forces have used excessive force against protesters since mid-2012.”
Most recently, PA police and security forces are alleged to have violently attacked peaceful protesters on at least four separate occasions in July and August 2013. Some attacks were carried out by officers in plain clothes who targeted and sought to intimidate women protesters and journalists present to report on the demonstrations.
Security forces were also implicated in causing the deaths of two Palestinians in recent months. On 8 May, Khaleda Kawazbeh died in unexplained circumstances during a PA police raid in the village of Se’ir, near Hebron, and eight others were injured. On 27 August, Amjad Odeh, 37, died after he was shot in the head, apparently by PA police, during a protest.
“The Palestinian Authority needs urgently to call an end to this pattern of abuse by its police and security forces and to break the cycle of impunity which fosters it,” Philip Luther said. “The PA must ensure that police officers and other members of the security forces who commit unlawful acts against protesters and others are held to account through criminal prosecutions, and ensure that all law enforcement personnel are adequately trained to respect rights when policing protests.”
Amnesty International is also calling on the EU, the USA and other donor governments that have provided financial aid to the PA to train its police and security forces to demand that they are held accountable to international human rights law and standards.
“International donors need to make clear to the PA’s leadership that they are not prepared to tolerate continued rights violations by PA police and security forces and that future assistance is dependent on PA leaders’ ensuring full accountability,” said Philip Luther."

Sunday, September 22, 2013

In Ramallah market, Max Blumenthal shows the fruits of occupation

By Philip Weiss

"In ten days, an important book about the conflict will be published, Max Blumenthal’s Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel. The book is important because it will change the paradigm of Israel inside liberal American opinion, by demonstrating how occupation and ethnocracy have transformed the Israel of so many Americans’ dreams into an intolerant, tough, and often racist society.

Blumenthal performs this shift by marshaling facts about a highly distressing reality inside the occupation and in Israel itself. And because we see that change as so vital to American awareness and policy-making, I’m going to be getting Blumenthal’s ideas out in weeks to come.

Last week I interviewed him inside the Ramallah fruit and vegetable market. It’s 5 minutes, above. Blumenthal explains that almost all of the fruits and vegetables in the market are from Israeli farms, especially in the Jordan Valley, on expropriated land.

He describes the ways that the Palestinian agricultural sector has been almost completely destroyed, by occupation and by the Oslo process, which kept Palestinians from developing an independent economic base.

And he says that one of the best ways to resist occupation is by generating your own economy and boycotting. Palestinians have been unable to do this. Gaza and the West Bank are treated as captive markets."

عزمي بشارة مؤرخاً لآلام سوريا

حازم نهار
‎المفكر العربي الدكتور عزمي بشارة‎

"يستوقفنا العنوان الرئيس لكتاب عزمي بشارة ملياً: "سورية: درب الآلام نحو الحرية – محاولة في التاريخ الراهن"، وكأننا أمام ملحمة لمجموعة من القديسين، وهي كذلك فعلاً، فالثورة والإصرار عليها وزمنها الطويل وطبيعة النظام الحاكم كلها عوامل تجعل ممن يثورون عليه مجموعة من البشر الذين يذكروننا بطارق بن زياد الذي حرق سفنه خلفه ليضع نفسه أمام معادلة وحيدة هي "النصر أو الشهادة"، وهي التي لا يجرؤ عليها البشر الطبيعيون.
عندما يتحدث المرء في الراهن فإنه يتصدى لمهمة شاقة ستجد من يُستفز بسببها أو يعترض على رواية حادثة ما، فكيف إن كانت المهمة تتعلق بالتأريخ لثورة شغلت العالم كله دولاً وشعوباً وحكومات، وهناك مواقف عديدة ومتباينة منها، بغض النظر عن صدقية بعضها. وربما لكل ذلك استخدم عزمي بشارة عنواناً فرعياً ذا دلالة: "محاولة في التاريخ الراهن". وكان الرجل متواضعاً ليقول بصراحة أن عمله هو "محاولة" للغوص في هذه الثورة، مثلما أكّد في مقدمة الكتاب بأن "هذا البحث كتوثيق تاريخيّ يعي حدوده لأنه يجري في خضّم الحوادث".
من الصعب على أي كتاب أن يرصد جميع بطولات أهل الثورة وأسماء شخوصها الفاعلين، بخاصة أن ميادين الثورة كانت عديدة ومتنوعة، سواء في التظاهرات أو الفكر أو السياسة أو الإعلام أو الإغاثة أو العمل المدني، فضلاً عن مدتها الطويلة، والأهم أن الكتاب ينطلق من الرصد والتوثيق لكن هدفه في المآل دراسة منطق الحوادث ومآلاتها أكثر من التركيز على الأسماء الفاعلة التي ما زال معظمها غير معروف بحكم عوامل عديدة، أحدها القبضة الأمنية المستمرة.
لا يخفي عزمي بشارة بالطبع انحيازه التام إلى الثورة السورية بدءاً من عنوان الكتاب، فضلاً عن أن ذلك كان واضحاً منذ اليوم الأول للثورة في تصريحاته ولقاءاته، على الرغم مما وضعه من نقد صحيح في ثنايا الكتاب حول مسارات ومواقف عديدة فيها أو تحذيرات عن مآلاتها الممكنة، أملاً في الاستفادة منها، لكن من موقع المتضامن معها روحياً وعقلياً. وهو يختلف بذلك عن الكثيرين من القوميين واليساريين العرب الذين كان هاجسهم الأكبر خلال الربيع العربي هو الخوف على شعاراتهم أكثر من انتصارهم لقضية الإنسان، ولذلك سقطت شعاراتهم وسقطوا معها.
أُتيحت لي فرصة قراءة مخطوطة الكتاب قبل النشر، واستوقفتني مسائل أوليّة عديدة. لعل أولها هو الجهد العظيم المبذول في لملمة التفاصيل والحوادث والتصريحات وتوثيقها وفرزها، فضلاً عن دراسة ومقارنة شهادات عديدة لنشطاء ومثقفين ومعارضين، مع ما يحمله مثل هذا النوع من الأعمال من مخاطر، لكن الكتاب كان موفقاً إلى حدٍ بعيدٍ في توظيفها واستخدامها، خاصة في نأي الكاتب عن الوقوع في مطبّ الانتقائية الذي يصاحب هذا النوع من الكتابة.
وثاني المسائل التي استوقفتني هي القدرة الاستثنائية على تمييز الخرافات المبثوثة في كل مكان حول الثورة، سواء من جانب الماكينات الإعلاميّة للنظام والدول المؤيدة له بما خلقته من خلطٍ للحقيقة بالخيال، ومن كذبٍ صريحٍ في حالاتٍ كثيرةٍ، أو من جانب أوساط مؤيدة للثورة بما يعتمل لديها من رغبات وما يسكنها من تخيلات وأوهام. هذه القدرة على التمييز لا شك يقف خلفها جهد كبير من البحث والاستقصاء والمقارنة والنقاش، وعقلٌ يتسم بالموضوعية والمسؤولية، ولنا أن نتخيل حجم الوقت الذي يتطلبه كل ذلك.
وثالثها، اكتشاف وتحديد الخطوط الأساسية والمنطق العام للحدث السوري بوضوح في المستويات كافة بعد الإحاطة بالحوادث وخلفياتها، وهو ما يسمح بعدم التوهان والضياع في التفاصيل، بما يجعل الكتاب متجاوزًا بالتأكيد الأرشفة التقليدية إلى استكشاف المنطق التاريخي للحدث السوري وتحليل المواقف والسياسات وتوقع المسارات والنتائج. وهو ما يمكن تلخيصه بأن الكتاب كان ناجحًا في اكتشاف القوانين التاريخية في الواقع الراهن للثورة.
ورابعها، المعرفة العميقة بالتاريخ والواقع السوريين، وهو ما ظهر في التشخيص الدقيق لطبيعة النظام السوري وبنيته، وخلفيات مواقفه وسلوكياته، وكذلك مثالب وعيوب المعارضة السورية بكافة تياراتها، والعلاقات الإقليمية والدولية لسورية، وخلفيات مواقف الدول ومصالحها في سورية، فضلاً عن المعرفة الدقيقة بتكوينات المجتمع السوري الإثنية والدينية والمذهبية، وأثر كل ذلك على مسار الثورة وتطوراتها.
يتتبع الكتاب مسار الثورة السوريّة بشكلٍ عام منذ إرهاصاتها الاحتجاجيّة الأولى وانطلاقتها السلميّة، كما يرصد ديناميّاتها الاجتماعيّة، وتحوّلها إلى ثورة مسلحة، وما نتج خارجها من ظواهر عنفيّة ثوريّة أو جنائيّة أو طائفيّة. كما يستعرض مبادرات الحل السياسيّة ولا سيما جهد الجامعة العربيّة، إضافة إلى التفاعلات العربيّة والإقليميّة والدوليّة المرافقة، وقد خصّص قسمًّا لرصد نشاط المعارضة السياسيّة وحراكها أثناء الثورة. ولفهم الثورة السوريّة بشكلٍ معمّق وقف الكتاب على فترة نظام الأسد الإبن منذ توليه السلطة عام 2000 وحتى عام 2011، والتي فوّت فيها النظام فرصة الإصلاح السياسيّ، والتغيير الديمقراطيّ التدريجيّ.
في مستوى دراسة النظام السوري وعلاقته بالثورة، حدّد عزمي بشارة عدة خصائص للنظام، منها أن ما يميز النظام السوري عن نظامي مبارك وزين العابدين هو رفضه لأي إصلاح، وقابليّته لاستخدام العنف غير المحدود ضد الثورة في بلاده، وضد الشعب السوريّ بشكل عام، فقد أدرك باكراً أن النظامين الآفلين لم يستخدما ما يكفي من القوة في بداية الحوادث لوأدها، لأن الجيش لم يكن مواليًا لهما بشكل أعمى، إضافة إلى رهانه على علاقاته الإقليمية والدولية، وكذلك على خوف فئات المدن الكبرى وفئات اجتماعيّة مختلفة من الفوضى والفتنة الطائفيّة. 
وفي مستوى الثورة السورية ومساراتها، يرى عزمي بشارة، وهو ما لا يمكن إنكاره أيًّا تكن قناعاتنا الأيديولوجية، أنه "لا يمكن فصل الثورة السوريّة عن المناخ الثوريّ العربيّ الذي ساد بعد نجاح الثورة التونسيّة والمصريّة، ولا يمكن تحليلها خارج سياقاته". فهذا هو العامل الرئيسيّ المباشر في نشوب الثورة، إذ إن أسباب الثورة السياسيّة والاجتماعيّة والاقتصاديّة كانت قائمة منذ زمن طويل، ومرت مراحل كان فيها النظام السوريّ أكثر ضعفًا، وأقل استقرارًا، لكن الثورة اندلعت في مرحلةٍ بدا فيها النظام في أوج استقراره، وبدا فيها مرتاحًا مع كسر عزلته الدوليّة. إنه عامل المرحلة التاريخيّة وارتباط الشعب السوريّ الثقافيّ السياسيّ، وربما الوجداني، بما يجري في المنطقة العربيّة.
أي أن دوافع ومسببات الاحتجاج في سوريّة تتشابه بنيويًا مع تلك في الثورات العربيّة الأخرى، فالشعب السوريّ ينشد الحريّة والكرامة، ويتوق إلى المواطنة وحقوق المواطن، حاله في ذلك حال الشعوب العربيّة كافة. والاختلاف الرئيس في ثورته "يكمن في خصوصيّة مجتمعه المركبّ دينيًّا، وطائفيًّا، وإثنيًّا، والتي أعاقت تبلور هُويّة وطنيّة جامعة تسمح بفصل المجتمع عن النظام، وبالتالي أيضًا النظام عن الدولة". كما يكمن الاختلاف الثاني في "الوضع السياسيّ الجيوستراتيجي لسورية، وكونها جزءًا من محور دوليّ لا يؤيّد أيّ تحوّل ديمقراطيّ، في أي مكان في العالم، ولا سيما في الدول التابعة له"، أما الاختلاف الثالث فيكمن في "اغتراب النظام شبه الكامل عن المجتمع وتعامله معه كاستعمار داخليّ". هذه الاختلافات عن الثورات الأخرى تفسر بشكلٍ أساسيٍّ، إلى جانب السمات البنيوية للنظام السوري، المسار الطويل والمعقد للثورة السورية. 
يرى بشارة، على الرغم من الجدل المعروف في هذا السياق، أن "الخيار المسلح خيار النظام وليس خيار الثورة". لكن استخدام السلاح أدى إلى تحوّلٍ بنيويٍّ في الثورة، سواء بالنسبة للقطاعات الاجتماعيّة المشاركة فيها، أم لجهة تغيير طبيعة قادتها الميدانيّين، خاصة بعد قتل النظام واعتقاله وتهجيره للآلاف من الناشطين المدنيين، ومع الزمن نشأت ظاهرة أمراء الحرب، وبرزت العناصر الجنائيّة المسلحة التي كانت قائمة في ظل الدولة الأمنيّة، إضافة للعناصر الجهاديّة التي لا تشارك الثورة أهدافها. كما أن استمرار الثورة لفترة طويلة وظهور المذابح وجرائم الكراهيّة على خلفيّة طائفيّة، والتي قام بها النظام على الأخص، قد زاد من حدة الاستقطاب في المجتمع السوريّ، وهذا أدى إلى زيادة خطر تحوّل الصراع إلى نوعٍ من الاحتراب الطائفيّ.
لقد حاول الكتاب أن يشرح أيضاً بنية وتطور المعارضة السياسية في سورية قبل الثورة وخلالها، مبينًا الأسباب الذاتيّة والموضوعيّة لتشتتها وارتباكها. لكنه ركّز على أن الخطر الأكبر يكمن في التشتت التنظيميّ للقوى المسلحة اليوم وبروز ظاهرة أمراء الحرب، إلى جانب تعدّد الكتائب والألوية المسلحة التي لا تخضع لأي قرار قرار مركزيّ.
وفي سياق تلمّس الحلول الممكنة، يرى عزمي بشارة أن السيناريوهات الكارثية محتملة ما لم يتم التوصل إلى تسوية سياسيّة تضمن رحيل النظام وبقاء جهاز الدولة، وتضمن تحولًا تدريجيًّا نحو الديمقراطيّة. فالبديل  عن هذه التسوية هو "تعمّق الصراع وتحوله إلى صراع طائفيّ وإثنيّ" أو "دولة فاشلة بعد هزيمة النظام". لذلك يرى أن إسقاط النظام ليس كافيًا، فقد تسقط معه الدولة إذا لم يتوافر "برنامج سياسيّ تلتف حوله قوى الثورة لبناء سورية المستقبل"، ومن دون ذلك يصعب تصور توحيد سورية وإعادة إنتاجها كدولة تقوم بوظائفها السياسية والاقتصادية والمدنيّة، وذات جيش وطنيّ قوي وسيادة وطنية. 
لا يخفي عزمي بشارة في جميع مواضع الكتاب محبته الصادقة للشعب السوري وإعجابه الكبير بتضحياته وشجاعته ومثابرته على الظفر بالحريات والتخلص من الاستبداد، ولذلك يرى أنه "يمكن تحويل الطاقة الجبارة الماديّة والمعنويّة لهذا الشعب في صنع نهضة عظيمة لسورية وبلاد الشام والأمة العربيّة"، وهذا يتوقف قبل كل شيء على "وعي ومسؤوليّة الفاعلين السياسيّين"، وفي هذا معه كل الحق.