Saturday, May 7, 2011

Al-Jazeera Video: More bloodshed in Syria

"In Syria, three women taking part in a pro-democracy march are reported to have been shot dead by Syrian forces near the city of Baniyas.

The coastal city has become a flashpoint for anti-government protests in the country.

Witnesses say tanks rolled in before dawn - and residents tried to stop them by forming human shields. The action comes just hours after thousands of people in cities and towns across the country turned out to protest.

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr has this report from Beirut.

Severe reporting restrictions in Syria mean Al Jazeera cannot verify the content of the amateur footage included in this report."

Syria: President Assad should be brought to book over violence

Sanctions must be used against President Assad for the murderous acts of the state over which he presides

The Observer
, Sunday 8 May 2011

".....The entire policy looks dangerously dependent on wishful thinking. Authoritarian regimes habitually deploy the promise of "liberalisation" and "reform" to prolong their existence in tandem with repression. Most of the states which have faced uprisings in the Arab Spring have tried this tactic. Mr Assad's liberalisation has been so modest as to be invisible in the police state he has overseen. His father's Ba'athist ideology has been effectively replaced by an emerging crony capitalism as he has moved slowly to open up Syria's economy – his sole significant reform.

In these circumstances, and with so little to show for the years of attempted engagement with him, it seems only right to judge him for the murderous acts of the state over which he presides – unless he meaningfully distances himself from that violence. Until then, as the head of a corrupt state, guilty of terrible human rights abuses, he should be held responsible and face sanctions [Haul his ass to The Hague!], alongside other members of the regime, for the horrors unfolding in Syria. The international community, through its inaction, is increasingly complicit."

Bye Bye Privatization

By Hossam El-Hamalawy

"In one of the biggest blows to neoliberalism, under heavy pressure from the workers and public opinion, today a Giza court annulled the privatization contract of Egypt’s flagship department store, Omar Effendi… It’s back to the public sector again. A ripple effect is expected, where workers are fighting in other privatized firms in different sectors to renationalize them.

In the picture above, a worker is carrying a banner outside the court: “After five years of humiliation, we are going back to the public sector.”


Truth about Syrian regime slowly trickling out

via benwedeman of CNN  twitter feed:
Good Egyptian source just back from Washington says israel is syrian regime's most ardent advocate with congress, Obama administration. Says Israel worried about radicalized  more than distant Iran or tamed Hizballah, prefers predictable all-talk-no-action Bashar

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrian tanks enter 'protest hub' Baniyas

Al-Jazeera Video: Bahrain opposition crackdown continues

Truth and reconciliation? It won't happen in Syria

By Robert Fisk

"....But this week, for the first time, Lebanese journalist Ziad Majed brought together three of Syria's finest academics-in-exile to discuss the uprising in their native country, and their insight is as frightening as it is undoubtedly true.

According to historian Farouk Mardam-Bey, for example, Syria is "a tribal regime, which by being a kind of mafia clan and by exercising the cult of personality, can be compared to the Libyan regime", which can never reform itself because reform will bring about the collapse of the Baath party which will always ferociously defend itself. "It has placed itself – politically and juridically – upon a war footing," Mardam-Bey says of its struggle with Israel, "without the slightest intention of actually going to war."....

Burhan Ghalioun makes the point that "the existence of the regime is like an invasion of the state, a colonisation of society" where "hundreds of intellectuals are forbidden to travel, 150,000 have gone into exile and 17,000 have either disappeared or been imprisoned for expressing their opinion... It is impossible (for President Bashar al-Assad) to say (like Mubarak and Ben Ali) 'I will not prolong or renew my mandate' like other presidents have pretended to do – because Syria is, for Assad, his private family property, the word 'country' is not part of the vocabulary."....

In holding on to power, literary critic Subhi Hadidi said rather archly, the Assad regime has divided Syrians into three categories: "The first belongs to those who are too preoccupied in earning their daily bread to involve themselves in any political activity. The second group are the greedy whose loyalty is easy to buy and who can be brought on board and corrupted in a huge network of 'clientelism'. The third are intellectuals and activist opponents of the regime who are regarded as 'imbeciles who believe in principles'.".....

But I will end by returning to a bloody if ultimately hopeful prediction of Subhi Hadidi. " The oppression of the (Assad) regime will be terrible. But the courage of the people in the street and the overall struggle – despite the difficulties they encounter – along with the very youth of the protesters, will lead the Syrian people to follow them all the way to freedom."

I'm not so sure....."

Yemen's women: out from the shadows

Despite great risks to them in a sexist society, thousands of women have stood up to demonstrate against President Saleh

(Left: Tawakkol-karman)

Nadya Khalife
(Middle East North Africa researcher in the women's rights division at Human Rights Watch. ), Saturday 7 May 2011

""Security forces in civilian clothes have threatened me with the jambiyya, not just during demonstrations, but everywhere I go," the protest leader and journalist Tawakkol Karman [A great, dynamic and a very inspiring leader. I am a strong fan of her, and Yemen should be proud of her.] told me, describing the traditional dagger that Yemeni men wear strapped to their waists.

In the past, any mention of Yemen's women in the news media has usually been about two issues, neither of them positive. The first is that they are more likely than most women in the Middle East to die in childbirth, and the second that they are among the least empowered women in the world.

The second assumption has recently been shattered by the uprisings in Yemen.

Since the beginning of the protests, women like Karman have come out in great numbers to demonstrate against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled in Yemen for more than 30 years. They have stood side by side with tens of thousands of Yemeni men to fill the city squares of Sana'a, Ta'izz, Aden, and other major cities, demanding his resignation.....

These attacks, along with state-sponsored discrimination and their families' shame, are not making it easy on Yemeni women who are speaking out. But for now, they continue to stand up for their rights. Two days after Saleh's statement denouncing female activists as un-Islamic, thousands took to the streets again, determined to show that they will not be silenced or sent home."

UN: Reject Syria’s Human Rights Council Candidacy

Country Under Investigation by Rights Body Not Fit to Join

May 6, 2011

"(New York) - The UN General Assembly should strongly reject Syria's candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch said today. Syria's attempt to join the council in the midst of its brutal crackdown on largely peaceful protests is a travesty, Human Rights Watch said.

The council "unequivocally condemned" the use of lethal violence against peaceful protesters by the Syrian authorities, and asked the office of the UN high commissioner for human rights to investigate ongoing human rights violations by Syria on April 29, 2011.

"It's outrageous that Syria can be condemned by the Human Rights Council one month and be an endorsed candidate in elections for that same body the next month," said Peggy Hicks, global advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. "Every day that passes calls further into question the credibility of those who have supported Syria's candidacy."...."

Threats force Syrian activists underground amid nationwide protests

6 May 2011

"Human rights activists seen to be involved in pro-reform protests in Syria have been forced into hiding after receiving threats from Syrian authorities, Amnesty International said today as a “Day of Defiance” took place around the country.

Syrian authorities heightened security measures ahead of today’s protests, leading to several protester deaths and the detention of a key opposition activist.

Given recent events, Syrian human rights and political activists have cause to fear for their lives and liberty, and a number have gone into hiding after receiving threats,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Syrian security forces have killed hundreds and arrested many more during and after protests. This campaign of violence and intimidation must cease and human rights defenders must be allowed to carry on their work without fear for their personal safety.”

Amnesty International has learned of several prominent human rights and political activists who have recently been forced into hiding.

These include: human rights lawyer Razan Zaitouneh and her husband Wa’el Hammada; Haytham al-Maleh; Hind and ‘Omar al-Labwani; Jwan Yousef Khorshid; Walid al-Bunni; and Suheir al-Atassi....."

Friday, May 6, 2011

Video: Syria: stand with the protesters

Contributed by Molly

د. عزمي بشاره في حديث جديد عن الثوره - 1


د. عزمي بشاره في حديث جديد عن الثوره - 1

د. عزمي بشاره في حديث جديد عن الثوره - 2

د. عزمي بشاره في حديث جديد عن الثوره - 3

د. عزمي بشاره في حديث جديد عن الثوره - 4

Al-Jazeera Video: Syria's 'Day of Defiance' ends in bloodshed

"It was billed a 'day of defiance', but this Friday has ended in bloodshed.

Syrian security forces have reportedly killed up to 30 protesters who were calling for the end of President Bashar al-Assad's leadership. Scores of people and opposition figures, including Riad Saif, a well-known activist and a member of parliament, were arrested.

And, in response to the growing crackdown, the European Union has now agreed to impose sanctions on government officials.

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr's report contains amateur video footage which cannot be independently verified."

16 killed in Syria protests, says rights group


"Syrian security forces opened fire on protesters, killing at least 16 people [the number has risen to 30] as thousands joined demonstrations across the country calling for an end to President Bashar Assad's regime, witnesses and activists said.

International condemnation is growing as the uprising enters its seventh week with no end in sight. More than 580 civilians and 100 soldiers have been killed since the revolt began, rights groups say.

On Friday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Syria has agreed to allow UN teams to enter the country and check the humanitarian situation. A European Union official said the bloc's member nations have agreed to place sanctions on Syria next week.

The protesters turned out Friday despite a bloody crackdown on the uprising and some of the tightest security seen since the protests began in mid-March.

"We were chanting, peaceful, peaceful, and we didn't even throw a stone at the security forces," said a witness in the central city of Homs, who said some 10,000 people were in the streets. "But they waited for us to reach the main square and then they opened fire on us." He said gunshots rang out even after the protesters dispersed. "The bullets are like rain," he said. "Everyone is terrified."

Syrian authorities also detained Riad Seif, a leading opposition figure and former lawmaker who has been an outspoken critic of the regime during the uprising, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"Syria's authorities think that they can beat and kill their way out of the crisis," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "But with every illegal arrest, every killing of a protester, they are precipitating a larger crisis."

Ten people were killed Friday in Homs and six were killed in Hama, said Ammar Qurabi, who heads the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria.....

Rallies were held in major areas including the capital, Damascus, and its suburbs, Banias on the coast and Qamishli in the northeast.

"The people want to topple the regime!" protesters shouted, echoing the cries heard during the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.....

"Our morale is high, they cannot stop us no matter what they do and how many people they arrest," he said.....

The International Committee of the Red Cross said a medical team reached Daraa on Thursday with trucks carrying humanitarian goods and medical supplies. The ICRC had appealed to Syrian authorities earlier in the week to allow it to access to Daraa after being unable to reach the city previously while it was under siege by security forces.

Assad is determined to crush the revolt that has now become the gravest challenge to his family's 40-year dynasty. He has tried a combination of brute force, intimidation and promises of reform to quell the unrest, but his attempts have failed so far.....

The mounting death toll — and the siege in Daraa — has only served to embolden protesters who are now demanding nothing less than the end of Assad's regime. There also has been growing international condemnation of the government's tactics......"

Syria's middle class can defeat Bashar al-Assad

By joining with the discontented poor, middle-class Syrians will tip the balance against Bashar al-Assad's wealthy supporters

Ahmed Hussein
(Ahmed Hussein is the pen-name of a human rights activist based in Damascus.), Friday 6 May 2011

"....But despite the towering wall of fear the regime has been building throughout the past four decades, Assad has lost his bet and has been stripped of his legitimacy by the protesters calling for freedom. And he is fast losing the battle for the people he needs most – the middle class.

From the early days of the uprising, a major split emerged within Syrian society pitting loyalists and revolutionaries against one another, sometimes even dividing families. Those who have supported the revolution with great enthusiasm have done so out of sheer desperation with the state of their daily lives in Syria today. This is the majority of Syrians – poor and oppressed. Those who have supported the regime have done so because the privileges they enjoy depend on the regime surviving. In this camp you have officials close to Assad, senior security and military officers, and their families.

But there is a third group who so far have also supported the regime for fear of an unknown future. These are the middle classes, the people who own businesses and trade. This third group is affected by scenes of Syrian cities turning into military cantons for the first time in our modern history. They have been led to think the demonstrations are a prelude for civil war – another Libya.

Nevertheless, the continual mistakes of the regime have led the middle classes to shift position with each passing day from being silent supporters of the regime to supporters of the revolution. The Syrian government is fumbling, like all governments that faced and are still facing Arab revolutions have done, as they continue to escalate the situation to the extent of waging war on an unarmed population. Think Deraa, al-Rastan, Banias.

The Syrian government imitated the tactics used by other governments to suppress the demonstrations, particularly the methods of the Libyan regime. They used professional snipers who targeted the heads of the demonstrators, using bullets that explode inside the victim's head leaving horrible mutilations, in order to terrorise people. The government also recruited "thugs", pro-regime armed groups that are involved in trafficking of drugs and weapons, to spread chaos and create sectarian strife. Those thugs opened fire on people from speeding cars and motorcycles. They also infiltrated demonstrations to spread provocative sectarian slogans.

The security apparatus is quite used to eliminating anyone who dares to even whisper a word about reform or human rights. Now they see large demonstrations calling for the overthrow of the regime, so they react by attacking hospitals and mosques, killing protesters everywhere and terrorising the entire population. This mess is made worse by the state media, who belong to a prehistoric era. They spread lies that are deeply provocative even to those supporting the regime and they still cannot comprehend what's happening now.

Perhaps some people might wonder what drives demonstrators to the streets despite the threat of death at the hands of security forces. The reason is simply that the Syrian people have come out to tell the world that they will never again be silent about the massacres committed in Deraa or the regime's efforts to starve and terrorise its own people. Syrians will never again be silent about the regime's atrocities committed against its own Syrian brothers. The age of silence is over and the age of freedom has just begun..... "

يمكن أن الطبقة الوسطى في سوريا هزيمة بشار الاسد

Video: Deraa siege fails to halt protests in Syria

Recent amateur footage shows Syrians protesting in towns close to Deraa, which has been under siege from the Syrian army for over a week, Friday 6 May 2011

The Muslim Brotherhood

By Angry Arab

"I really really believe that the Arab counter-revolution has officially recruited the various branches of the Muslim Brotherhood in its plot. There is evidence all over, and I would not be surprised if Hamas joins the Arab counter-revolution especially after its reconciliation with the puppets of Israeli occupation. Supporters of resistance to Israeli occupation should insist on the official and categorical rejection and isolation of the Fath Movement because it has become a mere too of the Israeli occupation."

Zionists and the regime of Asad

"My information--not guess--is that the Zionists in Congress don't want an overthrow of the Syrian regime. They are now championing the survival of a much weaker Bashshar, who would be compelled to make concessions--not to his people--but to Israel."

Al-Jazeera Video: Online activist speaks to Al Jazeera

"As protests kick off in Syria after Friday prayers, Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr meets one of the exiled activists who are distributing videos and news from Syria to a worldwide audience. Rami Nakhle, known online as Malath Aumran, fled from Syria in January."

Al-Jazeera Video: Crackdown reins in Bahrain activists

"The once massive pro-democracy protests in Bahrain has been reduced to small clashes between youth and police in predominantly Shia areas.

Security forces have allegedly launched a brutal crackdown on protesters with beatings and sweeping arrests. Nearly 1000 demonstrators have been imprisoned, among them doctors, artists and lawyers.

The UN High Commissioner for Human rights Navi Pillay says severe torture is being used against prisoners, and he is calling on the Bahraini government to stop intimidating and harassing human rights defenders and political activists...."

Dust Bin Laden, by Khalil Bendib

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

The Assassination of bin Laden: Its Use and Abuse

By James Petras

"The assassination of bin Laden has been celebrated as a great strategic victory by the White House, the European capitals and all the major mass media outlets throughout the world. The killing has served as a major propaganda tool to enhance the standing of the US military in the eyes of the domestic public and to serve as a warning to overseas adversaries.

Contrary to this immense propaganda campaign and despite whatever symbolic value the killing may have in the eyes of his executioners, there is no evidence that the death will have any impact on the deteriorating military and political position of the US in South Asia, the Middle East, North Africa or elsewhere.....

The Taliban didn’t even blink – their ‘spring offensive’ marches on; US military officials are wary of any encounters with any ‘loyal’ Afghan collaborators. Egypt rejects US-Israeli politics toward the unity of Palestinians; the revolts in the Gulf continue. The only stalemate – not victory – that Washington can celebrate – including the killing of Gadhaffi’s grandchildren – is in Libya where, allied with Al Qaeda, in Benghazi, the war continues."

Killing the Golden Goose

Pakistan and the Assassination of Bin Laden

By Tariq Ali

"Blinded by the thirst for vengeance, the United States targets and kills another enemy. Its citizens celebrate. And functionaries of the George W Bush period tell us that what it proves is torture at Guantánamo worked, after all. Europe applauds. Vassals elsewhere (including Pakistan's president) congratulate the US on mission accomplished.

This is slightly bizarre, given that Bin Laden had apparently been in a safe house near the Pakistan military academy for six years. Nobody believes this could have happened without the knowledge of senior intelligence officials....

In reality, Bin Laden's death changes nothing, except perhaps to ensure that, economy permitting, Barack Obama is re-elected. The occupation of Iraq, the Af-Pak war and Nato's Libyan adventure look set to continue. Israel-Palestine is stalemated, though the despotisms in the Arab world that Obama has denounced are under pressure – except the worst of them all, Saudi Arabia....."

Syria: Lift the Siege of Daraa

Nationwide Campaign of Arrests Continues

Human Rights Watch

"(New York) - Syria's government should immediately lift its 10-day siege of the southern town of Daraa and allow movement in and out of the city, including access for independent observers, Human Rights Watch said today. Syria's security forces should also immediately stop the nationwide campaign of arbitrary arrests against protesters and activists, Human Rights Watch said.

Syria's army surrounded Daraa on April 25, 2011, cutting electricity, phone lines, and internet services, and preventing any movement into and out of the city, including for humanitarian supplies of medicines and food. Agence France-Presse and Syrian TV reported on May 5 that the army had started to withdraw from Daraa. However, a Daraa resident reached by Human Rights Watch on a satellite phone indicated that the military was still restricting movement into the town, including the import of essential food and medicine items.
"The Syrian government is collectively punishing the residents of Daraa because some demonstrators from the town dared protest against it," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "It would appear that the government has a lot to hide, because it's refusing to let Daraa residents out or independent observers in."

The siege violates Syria's obligations, as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to respect fundamental rights and the rules of law guaranteed in the treaty. Even during a genuine emergency, any restrictions on rights must be strictly limited and justified by the exigencies of the actual situation, conditions that Syria has not met....."

The rights of Israel

Israel's "lawfare" against the Palestinian people is rooted in a ficticious narrative of having a "right" to exist.

Joseph Massad

"The Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, now entering their twentieth year had been hailed from the start as historic, having inaugurated a "peace process" that would resolve what is commonly referred to as the "Palestinian-Israeli conflict". For the Palestinians and the international community, represented by the United Nations and the myriad resolutions its Security Council and General Assembly issued since 1948, what was to be negotiated were the colonisation of land, the occupation of territory and population, and the laws that stipulate ethnic and religious discrimination in Israel, which, among other things, bar Palestinian refugees from returning to their land and confiscate their property. In their struggle against these Israeli practises, Palestinian leaders, whether in Israel, the Occupied Territories, or the diaspora, have always invoked these rights based on international law and UN resolutions, which Israel has consistently refused to implement or abide by since 1948. Thus for the Palestinians, armed by the UN and international law, the negotiations were precisely aimed to end colonisation, occupation, and discrimination.

On the other hand, one of the strongest and persistent arguments that the Zionist movement and Israel have deployed since 1948 in defence of the establishment of Israel and its subsequent policies is the invocation of the rights of Israel, which are not based on international law or UN resolutions. This is a crucial distinction to be made between the Palestinian and Israeli claims to possession of "rights." While the Palestinians invoke rights that are internationally recognised, Israel invokes rights that are solely recognised at the national level by the Israeli state itself. For Zionism, this was a novel mode of argumentation as, in deploying it, Israel invokes not only juridical principles but also moral ones.....

What Israel has been negotiating over with the Palestinians is the form, the terms, and the extent to which Palestinians must recognise its rights without equivocation. It is this reality that has characterised the last two decades of negotiations with the Palestinians. Negotiations will never restore the internationally-recognised rights of the Palestinians; on the contrary, the negotiations that the Palestinians entered with Israel two decades ago are ones wherein one party, the Palestinians, must surrender all their internationally recognised rights and recognise instead Israel's self-arrogated rights, which are not recognised by international law or any other country for that matter. Sixty-three years after the establishment of the Jewish settler-colony, this Palestinian act will not only lend the first international legitimacy to Israeli claims, it will constitute in effect nothing less than the first international recognition of Israel's self-arrogated rights. Israel need give up nothing in return."

Where is Obama's support of Syrian democracy?

The Obama administration remains mum regarding Syria's uprisings, and the reason may be Assad's policies towards Israel.

Robert Grenier

"As Bashar al-Assad reverts to his family pedigree and continues what has become a brutal, methodical, and systematic crackdown on unarmed pro-democracy protesters, it seems hard to account for the Obama administration's rhetorical gentleness toward him.....

Syria-Israel peace deal

The only explanation appears to be that the Obama administration still holds out the hope, however unlikely, that Bashar al-Assad could yet agree to a Syrian-Israeli peace deal which would serve to compensate for its utter failure to achieve Israeli peace with the Palestinians.

But if this is the case, the Obama people should think again. For those in the region, justice for the Palestinians is the central concern vis-à-vis Israel - not recovery of the Golan. A just settlement of the Palestinian issue is the key to a broader regional peace, and to whatever hopes one might harbour for Israel's long-term ability to establish an accepted place for itself in a region which may soon evolve along a path which would otherwise make it far more conducive to a constructive relationship with Israel than has been the case in decades past.
In 1988, Meron Benvenisti, the Israeli political scientist, politician, journalist and activist wrote a highly insightful article concerning the first intifada. In it, he pointed out that the uprising in the occupied territories had brought home a central reality which Israeli politicians had tried for decades to deny or to ignore. In attempting to reach peace deals with regional states and in thinking and speaking of an Arab-Israeli, rather than an Israeli-Palestinian dispute, he said, Israelis had attempted to deceive themselves about the essential nature of the problem.

Inescapably, he said, the core issue was the Palestinians. Absent agreement with them, peace with the surrounding states, even if it could be achieved, would serve the Israelis little. The nature of its future relations with the Palestinians, he said, was the central - indeed, the existential - question for Israel.

Thus, in the end, it matters little what rhetoric or what marginal policy tools the Obama administration employs with regard to the current uprising in Syria. But if their current actions betray an attempt to wilfully ignore the central issue of justice for Palestinians, they are making a big mistake."

A Sample of Fresh Videos From Inside Syria, Documenting Protests Against the Bloody Regime on Friday May 6, 2011.

شام - حمص - الخالدية مظاهرات جمعة التحدي 6-5 ج1

شام دمشق الصالحية مظاهرات جمعة التحدي 6 5

شام - برزة البلد - مظاهرات جمعة التحدي 6-5 ج1

شام - حماه - غاز مسيل للدموع جمعة التحدي 6-5 ج2

شام حمص تلكلخ جمعة التحدي 6 5 2011 ج1

شام حماه أول شهداء جمعة التحدي 6 5 2011

شام حمص تمركز القناصة على أسطح البنايات 6 5

شام القامشلي مظاهرات جمعة التحدي 6 5 2011 ج1

شام دمشق الميدان جمعة التحدي 6 5 ج2

شام - حمص - بابا عمرو مظاهرات جمعة التحدي 6-5 ج1

شام - داريا - مظاهرات جمعة التحدي 6-5-2011 ج1

شام - عامودا - مظاهرات جمعة التحدي 6-5-2011 ج1

World-wide calls for Syria to release Al-Jazeera journalist

The Guardian

"There is growing concern about the refusal of the Syrian authorities to release Al-Jazeera English journalist Dorothy Parvaz, who was detained on her arrival in Damascus on 29 April.

Parvaz, left, who holds US, Canadian and Iranian citizenship, is being held by one of Syria's myriad security services. It was five days before officials even admitted she was being held.

Calls for her release have come from international press freedom organisations, such as the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, and from many of Parvaz's current and former colleagues.

Parvaz, 39, is an experienced journalist who recently reported on the Japanese earthquake and tsunami for the network.

"We are worried about Dorothy's welfare, security and safety. Syria should release her immediately," said a spokesperson for Al-Jazeera

Osama bin Laden's appeal was lost in the Arab uprisings

Recent events in north Africa and the Middle East have shown that people can rise up without resorting to terrorism

Azzam Tamimi, Friday 6 May 2011

".....Indeed, al-Qaida has been weakened over the past few years by various measures put in place at local, regional and international level. However, the fatal blow it received was not meted out by the American and European war on terrorism or by the counter-terrorism measures adopted by countries in the Middle East and north Africa. It was the Arab popular revolutions, which started in Tunisia and soon spread to Egypt and the rest of the Arab world that brought an end of al-Qaida.

The removal of two Arab dictators through peaceful demonstrations and civil disobedience was possible without al-Qaida and its "sleeper cells". The people proved considerably more powerful without having to resort to any form of violence. The fall of those US allies has dealt a heavy blow to America. In contrast, none of al-Qaida's activities over the past decade, despite the enormous cost to Islam and Muslims, could achieve any of the aspirations of Arabs and Muslims.
The Arab revolutions have buried for good al-Qaida and its like; they have only hindered the very causes for which the masses are now rising, and peacefully."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Carlos Lattuf: Ali Saleh Language

Despite "unity" Israel army sees PA forces continuing collaboration against Hamas

One of the most puzzling aspects of the “reconciliation” deal signed yesterday between the Hamas resistance movement which runs the interior of besieged Gaza, and the US-supported, Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, is whether Palestinian security forces in the West Bank will continue to collaborate with the Israeli occupation army as they have been doing for years.

While it was all smiles, hugs and handshakes between Hamas and Fatah leaders at the Cairo signing ceremony yesterday, they have not explained whether the Palestinian Authority will continue to collaborate with Israel to police the occupation of the West Bank once Hamas joins, or whether this collaboration will stop. How can Palestinian security forces be integrated and coordinated when the Abbas-controlled forces are on Israel’s side in the war against Hamas? Moreover, notice that the Israeli don’t just expect collaboration against Hamas, but also against the kind of popular, unarmed protests some Palestinians have called for on May 15, the day Palestinians commemorate the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1947-48.

Dureid La'ham The "Comedian"

I never liked him , always thought he was an opportunist and a government tool. His "criticism" of the regime were nothing more than releasing internal pressures in order to avoid meltdown and to prove that
Syria has a "democratic" footnote. As an actor and a comedian he was always over rated and never really funny, His brand of humor was mediocre at best and his supporting cast was always funnier than him.
This asshole "comedian" now called Azmi Bishara a devil because he is attacking Syria, and he said "The Syrian Army is not here to fight Israel it is here to keep the national security". When Syria is liberated from this junta, we should put all those "artists" and supporters of murder and torture in cages and have the people pee on them. They deserve nothing less and nothing more.

حام في حديث تلفزيوني، وفي معرض تعليقه على الاحتجاجات التي تشهدها بلاده، أن الجيش السوري ليست مهمته محاربة إسرائيل وإنما الحفاظ على "السلم الأهلي"، مضيفاً: "وهذا ما يفعله الجيش في الأحداث الجارية".

Those who want the bodies of their loved ones must protest for Bashar

Al Jazeera reports

جمعة تحدي مرتقبة في سورية

Syrian soldier tortured to death for refusing to kill civilans

تعذيب احد الجنود رفض اطلاق النار على المتظاهرين

سوريا: دعوات لمظاهرات "جمعة التحدي"، والسلطات تعتقل المئات

عــ48ــرب ووكالات
"دعا ناشطون شبابيون سوريون، إلى جانل قوى المعارضة المختلفة، الشعب السوري، للمشاركة في ما أطلقوا عليه "جمعة التحدي"، بعد أن نظموا "أسبوع فك الحصار"، والذي شهد مظاهرات واعتصامات يومية في مختلف المناطق السورية.

وتعهد المحتجون السوريون بمواصلة "ثورتهم" عبر تنظيم تظاهرات في عدة مدن سورية، في بيان قال: "مستمرون في ثورتنا وفي مظاهراتنا السلمية، في كافة أرجاء سوريا، حتى تحقيق مطالبنا بالحرية"، فيما بدأ الجيش السوري الخميس الخروج من مدينة درعا التي دخلها في 25 نيسان / أبريل لقمع موجة الاحتجاج ضد النظام السوري.. ويصادف تاريخ الجمعة، السادس من أيار / مايو، ذكرى الاحتفال بعيد الشهداء في سوريا.
يأتي ذلك فيما أعلن نشطاء أن أكثر من 300 شخص أوقفوا صباح الخميس، في بلدة سقبا قرب دمشق، خلال حملة اعتقالات شنها الجيش وقوات الأمن السورية.
وقال ناشط فضل عدم الكشف عن اسمه: "قامت الأجهزة الأمنية التي يساندها الجيش باعتقال أكثر من 300 شخص، بينهم عدة مشايخ"، وأكد الناشط أن "أحد المعتقلين جرح بنار عناصر الأمن قبل أن يتم اقتياده إلى السجن".
وفي الساحة العامة التي سميت "ساحة الشهداء"، قامت أجهزة الأمن "بنزع لافتة تشير إلى الاسم الجديد، كما مزقوا صور الشهداء التي كانت ملصقة" حسب الناشطن وأكد الناشط أن "أكثر من ألفي شخص تابعين لأجهزة الأمن والجيش، شاركوا في حملة الاعتقالات، والذين نقلوا بحافلات".
وشهدت مناطق عدة في سوريا تحركا لقوات الامن والجيش، فيما بدا أنه استعداد لمظاهرات يوم غد الجمعة، فانسحبت قوات الجيش من درعا كما أفادت مصادر رسمية سورية الخميس، كما انتشرت دبابات للجيش في محيط مدينة بانياس المحاصرة منذ أسبوع، وكذلك حول بلدة الرستن، وقد نشرت داخل بعض المدن نقاط تفتيش تابعة للجيش.

Video: A Syrian in Banyas addresses accusations that the uprising is Salafi-led.

Contributed by Molly

The liberal-left are at odds on Libya

Significant voices outspoken in their opposition to war in Iraq are more equivocal on military intervention in Libya

Brian Whitaker, Thursday 5 May 2011

"Military intervention in Libya, like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is dividing public opinion. Many critics see all three as part of the same neo-imperialist project – to install puppet governments and assert western domination over oil supplies.

That certainly seems to be the view of
Tariq Ali [posted here on PP]and many who post in the Guardian's comment threads. A constant refrain is that the conflict in Libya is "all about oil".....

Professor Juan Cole, one of the most prominent American critics of the Iraq war – and who still calls it illegal – takes an entirely different line on Libya....

A more important consideration is to what extent a revolution accomplished with Nato bombers flying overhead can ever be considered authentic. The uprising in Libya began authentically enough, but there is no doubt that seeing the Libyan people overthrow Gaddafi by themselves would have been infinitely preferable to what has happened.

At the same time, though, we should be very wary of adopting familiar templates. The magnitude of the transformation process originally unleashed in Tunisia has still not properly sunk in and we should be prepared to start rethinking the Middle East from scratch.

The assumption that people who have begun overthrowing their dictators will passively allow western puppet regimes to be foisted upon them as replacements is one template that should be junked right away. The new Arab governments, whether they like it or not, and whether the west likes it or not, will have to be far more responsive to their people's demands than they have ever been in the past."

Bahrain's medics are the targets of retribution

The arrest and disappearance of Bahraini medics is part of a policy of retribution against those who helped protesters

Joe Stork

( Deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa division for Human Right Watch.), Thursday 5 May 2011

"....These two doctors are among hundreds of Bahrainis detained without official explanation since mid-March, including scores of other doctors, nurses and medics. In almost all cases, the authorities have provided no information about their whereabouts or wellbeing. During this same period, at least four people have died in detention from abuse or medical neglect and the authorities are starting to televise "confessions" that might have been coerced. Except for a handful who saw a lawyer for the first time during their special military court trial, none of those detained have had access to lawyers or family members.....

Human Rights Watch has written to Bahraini authorities requesting information to verify the criminal allegations – some serious and some far-fetched – but so far has received no response. Our researchers had regular and relatively unrestricted access to the main hospital between 17 February and 16 March. We saw protesters' tents in the parking lot outside the emergency wing, staffed by people who provided information to journalists and others reflecting protester views. Between 10 March and 16 March, rallies took place there featuring speeches by leading opposition figures. But at no point did we see or otherwise learn about any activities corresponding to the more serious government allegations.

In a public letter dated 26 April, seven leading national and international associations of medical professionals, including the American Medical Association and the American College of Emergency Physicians, called on Bahrain's leaders to cease all attacks on health facilities, medical professionals and patients, and to release all medical professionals (as well as others) "detained and disappeared for non-violent exercise of their fundamental rights and their ethical duties"."

Al-Jazeera Video: Empire - Beyond bin Laden

Includes Tariq Ali

Al-Jazeera Video: Activist speaks to Al Jazeera from the outskirts of Deraa

Al-Jazeera Video: Captured journalist's fiancé speaks to Al Jazeera

Physicians Urge Obama Admin to Pressure Mideast Ally Bahrain to End Repression of Doctors, Patients

"The Gulf nation of Bahrain has announced that 47 medical workers who treated pro-democracy protesters during the nation’s popular uprising will be tried before a military court on charges of acting against the state. Some could face the death penalty for providing medical assistance to protesters. Human rights groups say the arrests are part of a campaign of intimidation that runs directly counter to the Geneva Convention, which guarantees medical care to people wounded in conflict. We speak with Richard Sollom of Physicians for Human Rights. He recently traveled to Bahrain to document the situation there, and is the co-author of a new report, "Do No Harm: A Call for Bahrain to End Systematic Attacks on Doctors and Patients."...."

Egypt and Israel Headed for Crisis

A New Mood in Cairo



".....Analysts said Cairo wanted to restore its traditional leadership role in the Arab world and believed it was hampered by its ties with Israel.

Menha Bahoum, a spokeswoman for the Egyptian foreign ministry, told the New York Times last week: "We are opening a new page. Egypt is resuming its role that was once abdicated."

That assessment is shared by Hamas and Fatah, both of which were looking to Egypt for help, said Menachem Klein, a politics professor at Bar Ilan University.

He noted that Abbas had lost his chief Arab sponsor in the form of Mubarak, and that the Hamas leadership's base in Syria was precarious given the current upheavals there.

With growing demands from the Palestinian public for reconciliation, neither faction could afford to ignore the tide of change sweeping the Arab world, he said.

Meital said: "We are entering a new chapter in the region's history and Israeli politicians and the public are not yet even close to understanding what is taking place"."

After Mubarak, the Military Fist

By Cam McGrath

"CAIRO, May 5, 2011 (IPS) - Thousands of Egyptian civilians, including protesters who helped topple the authoritarian regime of president Hosni Mubarak, have been tried in military courts without due process. "The use of military trials on this scale is without precedent," says Adel Ramadan, a rights lawyer at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)....

Many Egyptians cheered when the army deployed during mass demonstrations against the Mubarak regime, chanting "The army and the people are one." Yet some now accuse the ruling military council of borrowing chapters from the former dictator’s playbook.

"If you protest, they beat you and can accuse you of any crime," says Mohamed Farrag, showing stitches on his forearm he claims he was given after a soldier struck him with a baton.

International rights watchdogs have demanded that the SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) release all political prisoners and investigate allegations of army torture and abuse. They have also called for the retrial in a civilian court of any person charged with a criminal offence, noting a glaring double standard in treatment.

"Egypt’s military leadership has not explained why young protesters are being tried before unfair military courts while former Mubarak officials are being tried for corruption and killing protesters before regular criminal courts," Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director of Human Rights Watch said in a statement......"

Beyond the Media Radar, Egypt’s Arab Spring Pushes Forth

In These Times

"....As the weather warms, the Western media lens has drifted onto hotter and bloodier clashes in the Middle East and North Africa. But the May Day protests in Cairo revealed that the coalescence of labor and human rights are at the crux of the unfolding revolution and continues to serve as a barometer for monitoring the progress, or precariousness, of the transition to democracy.

It was the first free May Day celebration in Egypt in generations. As such, it embodied the postcolonial struggle for dignity and freedom more than any of the battles raging today in Muslim countries.

A few weeks ago, Egypt's transitional authorities struck a blow against the labor movement and all activists, with legislation that would make it a crime, punishable by fine or imprisonment, “for anyone who organizes a protest or an activity which may result in preventing or slowing down the work of a state institution, a general authority or a public or private workplace.

The Center for Trade Union and Workers' Services (CTUWS), a leading Egyptian advocacy group, has together with the independent union movement issued a call for sweeping reforms....

Day by day, as activists grow wary that their revolution is getting hijacked, workers and youth are aligning their defenses and their aspirations.

Akram Ismail, an organizer with the Association of Progressive Revolutionary Youth talked to Al Masry Al Youm, “The organization of the working class is a pillar for democratic transformation and the civility of the state,” but he noted that the political arena had been enfeebled by "religious versus non-religious" disputes, devoid of class politics.....

On May Day, independent labor union leaders declared to Egypt's workers that they aimed:

to tell everybody in Egypt and abroad that the Egyptian working class has been and shall remain a living organ of the Egyptian body, and will never accept to have its right to association, and expression of the interests of the members compromised again by any means!...."

The tragedy of Bashar al-Assad's Syria

Once viewed as a "reformer", Bashar al-Assad's violent crackdown on protesters could spell the end of Assad family rule.

Salman Shaikh
(Director of the Brookings Doha Centre and Fellow at the Brookings Institution.)

'Too late for reform'

However, these measures will likely not be enough.

Both Turkey and the US as well as Qatar and France need to work quietly and purposefully to convince Assad that his efforts to reform the Baathist regime have failed and that he should exit the stage.

If Assad were to leave, he could be offered the prospect of escaping prosecution for the egregious violations of international law and international humanitarian law being committed by his security forces.

He should be told that were he to stay, he would likely join Gaddafi in the dock of the International Criminal Court.

In parallel, the UN Human Rights Council should invoke its Special Procedures and urgently start an investigation in to the situation in Syria.

The UN Security Council, currently engaged in discussions on how to respond the regime's crack down, needs to go further than issue press statements condemning the violence.

In echoing the language that it issued regarding Libya, it needs to send a clear reminder to Assad that it is his and his regime's primary responsibility to protect civilians and civilian populated areas or to face the consequences.

In a now infamous interview to the Wall Street Journal on January 31, Assad confidently predicted: "If you didn't see the need for reform before what happened in Tunisia or Egypt, then it is too late for reform."

It was a perceptive statement from a young, intelligent and largely popular leader. However, the tragedy for him and his people is that in saying so, Assad was overlooking his own deeply disappointing record in modernizing the stagnant, repressive and corrupt Baathist security regime, which he inherited in 2000.

As more and more of Syria's people revolt against his rule and that of his regime, Assad's words have likely written his own political obituary."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This new poll deals with Palestinian "Reconciliation;" it asks:

Do you expect that the reconciliation accord between Fatah and Hamas will last?

With about 1,000 responding so far, 71% said yes.

James Petras' New Book: "The Arab Revolt and the Imperialist Counterattack"

FROM THE PREFACE: The popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia have overthrown the public face of the imperial-backed dictatorships in the region, and inspired supporters of popular democracy worldwide.

"As the Arab revolt spreads from North Africa to the Gulf and deepens its demands to include socio-economic as well as political demands, the Empire is striking back. The ruling military junta in Egypt has cracked down on the prodemocracy movement and looks to its autocratic “partners” in the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula to drown the civil society movements in a blood bath.

While standing by the crumbling dictatorships elsewhere in the region, the United States, France and the United Kingdom raced to intervene when it seemed the revolt had spread to Libya. NATO was deployed, using the UN’s new “responsibility to protect” doctrine authorizing humanitarian intervention. Already NATO intervention has exceeded the UN mandate by bombing the Libyan capital and inflicting civilian casualties. Meanwhile, western governments openly pursue regime change in Libya while seeking to forestall it elsewhere.

These essays chronicle the growing militarization of US policy in North Africa and the Gulf and the historic confrontation between the Arab democratic revolution and the imperial backed satraps; between Libyans fighting for their independence and the Euro-American naval and air forces ravaging the country on behalf of their inept local clients...."

B.S., By Mr. Fish

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Welcome to the post-Osama world

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"Almost a decade after 9/11 - and with the "dead or alive" promise finally fulfilled - the answer to the magic bullet question on the timing of the Osama bin Laden hit is that United States psychoanalyst-in-chief Barack Obama deemed a symbolic kill of the "war on terror" necessary to purge America's desire for foreign misadventure. The post-Osama cure faces monstrous contradictions, and the Pentagon will fight on...

In fact even before the Bin Laden hit it had already been defeated by history - as in the great 2011 Arab revolt affirming, unequivocally, the Arab world's will to welcome democracy, not suicide bombers.

Obama's "cure" will face monstrous contradictions. Drones kill civilians in the Pakistani tribal areas while the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's "humanitarian" war kills civilians in Libya. Humanitarian warmongers silent in the face of the appalling repression in Bahrain and the House of Saud getting away with conducting an anti-democracy counter-revolution all across the Persian Gulf....."

Real News Video: Egyptian workers demand new trade union

Al-Masry Al-Youm: Hundreds of workers from governorates across Egypt organized a protest on Labor Day outside the Egyptian Trade Union Federation

Syrian forces arrest 'scores' in Damascus suburb

(Syrian men hold up pieces of bread as they protest in Banias on 4 May 2011 in solidarity with compatriots in besieged Deraa.)

Soldiers reportedly broke into homes in Saqba, where thousands had demonstrated against Assad regime last Friday

Reuters, Thursday 5 May 2011

"Hundreds of Syrian soldiers in combat gear have broken into houses and made arrests in the Damascus suburb of Saqba, the scene of a mass demonstration against the president last week.

Thousands had joined a demonstration in Saqba last Friday, demanding the removal of President Bashar al-Assad.

"The soldiers did not say who they were. People think they are from Maher's Fourth division," a female resident, who did not want to be identified, told Reuters, referring to the president's brother, Maher al-Assad.

"They cut off communications before they came in. There is no resistance. The demonstrations in Saqba have been peaceful. Scores of people have been arrested," she said.

On Wednesday, army units backed by tanks tightened the siege on two defiant urban centres, a sign that Assad is widening the use of the military to crush demonstrations against his autocratic rule...."

Bahrain: Arbitrary Arrests Escalate

Ex-Members of Parliament, Physicians Held Without Charge; Activist Reported Tortured

May 4, 2011

"(Washington, DC) - Security forces arrested two former members of parliament from Bahrain's largest opposition group, Human Rights Watch said today. The arrests were the first targeting elected representatives of the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, which won the popular vote in October 2010 elections, since the large-scale crackdown against protesters and opposition members began in mid-March.

Security forces in civilian clothes and masks arrested Matar Ebrahim Matar and Jawad Fairuz on the evening of May 2, 2011, and took them to unknown locations. The reasons for their arrests are not currently known. Both had won seats in the October 2010 elections in the Majlis al-Nawab (Assembly of Deputies), Bahrain's lower house. They resigned along with 16 other al-Wefaq members after security forces attacked the Pearl Roundabout protesters during the early morning hours of February 17. Four protesters died as a result. Since their resignation, many al-Wefaq members have spoken out publicly against the government's handling of the February protests and the security crackdown launched since mid-March.

Authorities have also intensified their campaign against medical professionals in recent days, arresting at least seven more doctors, including the former head of the Bahrain Medical Society.

"It seems that Bahrain's ruling family intends to punish any and everyone who criticizes the government," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The aim of this vicious full-scale crackdown seems to be to intimidate everyone into silence."....."

Bahrain renews emergency law as repression persists

4 May 2011

"The Bahraini government must end its relentless crackdown on human rights, Amnesty International said today after the country's parliament voted to extend a repressive state of emergency amid continued arrests of dissidents.

"The Bahraini authorities must stop detaining anyone who opposes them and release protesters who have been locked up for peacefully demanding reform," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"Even since the protests on the streets were violently crushed in mid-March the government's persecution of dissidents has not abated, while the renewal of the so-called 'State of National Safety' [Is this Orwellian, or what?] will only exacerbate this human rights crisis."

Bahraini media reported that members of parliament yesterday voted overwhelmingly to extend the “State of National Safety” for another three months, even though it is not due to expire for another six weeks.

Emergency law had been used to arrest without judicial warrant and detain incommunicado protesters and political activists, as well as to try civilians before military courts.

On Monday, two MPs from al-Wefaq, the largest Shi’a political party, were detained....."

The NATO "Revolution": Financing the Libyan Karzai

Italy hosts Libya coalition talks

Countries involved in military campaign to seek a way of financing main anti-Gaddafi group amid a military stalemate.


"Ministers from the NATO-backed coalition in Libya are meeting in Rome to seek ways of financing rebels in the north African country.

The meeting of Libya Contact Group will bring together foreign ministers from countries including France, Britain, the US, Italy and Qatar as well as representatives of the Arab League and the African Union.

As the conflict in Libya has ground into a stalemate, the rebel interim Transitional National Council (TNC), which controls the region around Benghazi in the east and has been recognised by both France and Italy, has appealed for loans of up to $3bn. [You call this "Revolution"??, what a travesty!]

Opposition fighters are desperate to buy food and medicine and shore up their administration....."

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

An independent homeland or bantustan in disguise?

By Haidar Eid
The Electronic Intifada, 4 May 2011

"The induced euphoria that characterizes discussions within the mainstream media around the upcoming declaration of an independent Palestinian state in September, ignores the stark realities on the ground and the warnings of critical commentators. Depicting such a declaration as a “breakthrough,” and a “challenge” to the defunct “peace process” and the right-wing government of Israel, serves to obscure Israel’s continued denial of Palestinian rights while reinforcing the international community’s implicit endorsement of an apartheid state in the Middle East.....

One can only assume that the much-talked about and celebrated “independence” will simply reinforce the same role that the PA played under Oslo. Namely providing policing and security measures designed to disarm the Palestinian resistance groups. These were the first demands made of the Palestinians at Oslo in 1993, Camp David in 2000, Annapolis in 2007 and Washington last year. Meanwhile, within this framework of negotiations and demands, no commitments or obligations are imposed on Israel.

Just as the Oslo accords signified the end of popular, nonviolent resistance of the first intifada, this declaration of independence has a similar goal, namely ending the growing international support for the Palestinian cause since Israel’s 2008-09 winter onslaught on Gaza and its attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla last May. Yet it falls short of providing Palestinians with the minimal protection and security from any future Israeli attacks and atrocities. The invasion and siege of Gaza was a product of Oslo. Before the Oslo accords were signed, Israel never used its full arsenal of F-16s, phosphorous bombs, and DIME weapons to attack refugee camps in the Gaza and the West Bank. More than 1,200 Palestinians were killed from 1987-1993 during the first intifada. Israel eclipsed that number during its three-week invasion in 2009; it managed to brutally kill more than 1,400 in Gaza alone. This does not include the victims of Israel’s siege in place since 2006 which has been marked by closures and repeated Israeli attacks before the invasion of Gaza and since.

Ultimately, what this intended “declaration of independence” offers the Palestinian people is a mirage, an “independent homeland” that is a bantustan in disguise...."