Saturday, July 9, 2011

SCAF and Essam Sharaf’s cabinet under fire

By Hossam El-Hamalawy

"....But as always, the government’s “concessions” are vague and meaningless. No names of officers were announced, no transparency, no public trials, no mention of Suzan or Omar Suleiman, and nothing said re the national minimum wage. And of course nothing re halting the military tribunals. Nothing concrete at all. And while promising one of the biggest “restructuring moves” in the history of the interior ministry by mid July, Sharaf’s interior minister, General Mansour el-Essawi, went on Al-Hayat channel, describing the use of the word “purge” as a “silly”.

Sharaf’s speech doesn’t assure anyone. The protests continue as of time of writing, and in Tahrir Square already thousands are marching demanding Sharaf’s immediate resignation

While in Suez, tens of thousands of the city residents are now threatening to block the Suez Canal, and sit-ins continues in other provinces… "

Satire Video: Funniest clip in the syrian Revolution أضحك لقطة في الثورة السورية

Contributed by Guest

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Egypt: democracy in danger?


Sharif Abdel Kouddous
Wael Eskandar
Rami Khouri

In Photos: In Egypt, revolution everywhere

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"Thousands took to the streets in various Egyptian cities, expressing dissatisfaction with the performance of the cabinet and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

Protesters demanded an end to slow justice in the cases of the revolution's martyrs' killers, public prosecutions of the toppled regime's figures and reform of the security apparatus.

Protests erupted in Alexandria, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, Beheira, Assiut, Monufiya, Gharbiya alongside Tahrir Square. In some of the protests' locations, people vowed to spend the night in what marked open-ended sit-ins until demands are met."

Multi-Billion Dollar Terrorists and the Disappearing Middle Class

By James Petras

"The US government (White House and Congress) spends $10 billion dollars a month or $120 billion a year to fight an estimated 50 -75 “Al Qaeda types” (Financial Times 6/25 -26/11, p. 5) in Afghanistan. During the Obama presidency, Washington has spent $300 billion dollars over a 30 month period, which comes to $4 billion dollars for each terrorist in Afghanistan.....

It is absurd to believe that the Pentagon and White House are spending $10 billion a month to hunt down a handful of terrorists. So what is the war in Afghanistan about?....

If the US war in Afghanistan is not about defeating terrorism, then why the massive expenditure of funds and manpower for over a decade?
Several hypotheses come to mind.....

Fourthly, the initial success of the Afghan war was seen as a prelude to a sequence of successful wars, to be followed by Iraq, Iran, Syria and beyond, which would serve the triple purpose of enhancing Israeli power,controlling strategic oil resources and enlarging the arc of US military bases from South and Central Asia, through the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean.

The strategic policies formulated by the militarists and zionists in the Bush and Obama Administrations, assumed that guns, money, force and bribes could build stable satellite states firmly within the orbit of the post-Soviet, US empire. Afghanistan was seen as an easy first conquest, to sequential wars. Each victory, it was assumed would undermine domestic and allied (European) opposition. The initial costs of imperial war would be paid for by tribute extracted from the conquered countries, especially in the oil producing region....

As far as neo-conservative pipe dreams, of successful sequential wars, cooked up by Wolfowitz, Feith, Abrams, Libby et al to eliminate Israeli adversaries and turn the Persian Gulf into a Hebrew lake, the prolonged wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan has resulted in the rise of Iranian influence, turned the mass of Pakistani’s against the US and strengthened the mass movements against US clients throughout the Middle East. “Sequential imperial defeats” has resulted in a vast bleeding of the US treasury, rather than the “extraction” of oil wealth from tributary clients....


But there is deep unease within the leading circles of the Obama regime: the “wise guys” among top officials are jumping ship before the coming deluge. Summers, Emmanuel,Levey, Orzag, Gates, Geithner and others responsible for the disastrous wars, economic catastrophe, the concentration of wealth and savaging of living standards, have walked out leaving it to the con-men Obama, Biden and their ‘last loyalists’ to take the hit when the economy takes the Big Plunge and social programs are wiped out. How else can we explain their hasty departures in the face of a deepening crisis? The flight of top officials is to avoid political responsibility, to avoid a historical indictment for the impending economic debacle and the future judgment over who and what led to the destruction of the American middle and working class, its jobs, its pensions, its social security and its place in the world. "

Gaza and a Liturgy for Justice

by Ray McGovern, July 09, 2011

"We passengers on the U.S. Boat to Gaza represent a cross-section of America. Yet, if there is an emblematic trait that sets us apart from "mainstream" America, it is a common, radical determination to take risks to bring Justice for the oppressed — in this case, the 1.6 million people locked in an open-air prison on a narrow strip of land called Gaza.

While most of those calling us "radical" hurl the word as a barb, we welcome the label — but radical as derived from the underlying meaning of this word, "root." Like radishes, we are rooted in soil, the soil of Justice.

"Extremist?" Yes, we confess to that too — as Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. did in his Letter From the Birmingham City Jail.

Replying to those who threw the "extremist" epithet at him, Dr. King acknowledged that he was, indeed, an extremist — "an extremist for love.".....

What a wonderful reminder that relying on Israeli kill-power rather than Justice for the Gazans is not truly Jewish. Nor is it safe. As one of my mentors, Daniel Maguire, Professor of Moral Theology at Marquette University, has put it:

"A tribal ‘Jewish’ state that ignores the prophet Zechariah’s warning that Zion cannot be built on injustice and bloodshed will, as the prophets of Israel warned, fall into the pit it is currently and frantically digging.""

Syria: Defectors Describe Orders to Shoot Unarmed Protesters

Shootings, Detentions, and a Disinformation Campaign

By Human Rights Watch
July 9, 2011

"(New York) - Defectors from Syria's security forces described receiving, and following, orders to shoot on protesters to disperse them, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch interviewed eight soldiers and four members of the security agencies who had defected since anti-government protests erupted in March 2011. Those interviewed participated in the government crackdown in Daraa, Izraa, Banyas, Homs, Jisr al-Shughur, Aleppo, and Damascus. The soldiers also reported participating in and witnessing the shooting and injury of dozens of protesters, and the arbitrary arrest and detention of hundreds.

All of the interviewed defectors told Human Rights Watch that their superiors had told them that they were fighting infiltrators (mundaseen), salafists, and terrorists. The defectors said they were surprised to encounter unarmed protesters instead, but still were ordered to fire on them in a number of instances. The defectors also reported that those who refused orders to shoot on protesters ran the risk of being shot themselves. One of the defectors reported seeing a military officer shoot and kill two soldiers in Daraa for refusing orders. Human Rights Watch interviewed the defectors in person in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan.

"The testimony of these defectors provides further evidence that the killing of protesters was no accident but a result of a deliberate policy by senior figures in Syria to use deadly force to disperse protesters," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Syrian soldiers and officials should know that they too have not just a right but a duty to refuse such unlawful orders, and that those who deliberately kill or injure peaceful protesters will be subject to prosecution.".....

The soldier reported that the security forces also detained children. "I saw the list of wanted individuals. So many were born in 1993, 1994, 1995. Mere teenagers," he said. "We later entered Banyas and also detained men and children. By the end of our first day in Banyas, I asked an officer how many detainees we had taken that day; he said around 2,500 in Banyas alone, all taken to the Banyas stadium. People would get beaten in the bus on the way there and in the stadium as well."....

"The accounts of soldiers who were horrified enough at their commanders' orders and deceit to flee should send a message to the UN and other countries that they need to do more to put a stop to these brutal attacks on civilians," Whitson said."

Friday, July 8, 2011

Al-Jazeera Video: Renewed protests erupt across Syria

Al-Jazeera Video: Sherine Tadros reports from Suez

Video: متظاهرو التحرير: لم تتحقق مطالب الثورة

Video: VIDEO – Sit-ins and protests sweep Egypt on #Jul8

Jul8 VIDEO – برنامج مصر في أسبوع – حسام الحملاوي: صورة لاعتصام التحرير ٨ يوليو

Egyptians Fill Tahrir Square For Largest Protest Since Fall of President Mubarak

"Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians have gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square for what could be the largest demonstration since the uprising that topped former president, Hosni Mubarak. They say there has been little progress on reforms promised in the five months since the uprising. In Suez on Monday, riots were sparked by a court order to release seven policemen charged with killing demonstrators. On Tuesday, the courts acquitted three former government ministers over corruption allegations. We get a live update from Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous in Tahrir Square. “There is a sense the revolution is being stolen from beneath people’s feet here,” says Kouddous...."

Al-Jazeera Video: Ayman Mohyeldin reports from Tahrir Square

A Sample of Fresh Videos From Inside Syria, Documenting Protests Against the Bloody Regime on Friday July 8, 2011.

شام - دمشق - الحجر الأسود - مظاهرات جمعة لا للحوار 8-7 ج1

شام -القامشلي - جمعة لا للحوار 8-7

شام - حمص - الحولة - مظاهرات جمعة اللا حوار 8-7 ج3

شام - دمشق - الحجر الأسود - مظاهرات جمعة لا للحوار 8-7 ج3

شام - حمص - دير بعلبه - جمعة لا للحوار 8\7\2011

Real News Video: Debt Ceiling Charade a Move to the Right

Michael Hudson: Panic about debt ceiling used to attack social programs; no real need for more borrowing

More at The Real News

With Socialists Like These, Who Needs Fascists? By Khalil Bendib

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Egypt-Israel Gas Pipeline Targeted

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

"CAIRO, Jul 7, 2011 (IPS) - The pipeline that carries Egyptian natural gas to Israel was attacked by unknown perpetrators on Monday (Jul. 4), the third such incident since the Jan. 25 Revolution that ended the rule of longstanding former president Hosni Mubarak....

Many energy experts, meanwhile, say Egyptian natural gas should be used to meet domestic consumption needs rather than being sold to foreign buyers at reduced prices. They point to a recent shortage of butane gas - the main source of fuel in most Egyptian households - which caused black- market prices for butane cylinders to skyrocket more than 600 percent.

"If Egyptian gas went to the domestic market instead of export, Egypt would save itself the cost of subsidising petroleum products, which accounts for more than 100 billion Egyptian pounds (16.8 billion dollars) of the current budget," said Zahran.....

According to Hatem al-Buluk, an Egyptian journalist based in North Sinai, the bombings might have been the work of "Sinai-based revolutionaries" opposed to the notion of selling gas to Israel - particularly in light of the latter's continued abuse of the Palestinian people. "This theory is supported by the fact that none of the attacks resulted in any deaths or injuries," al-Buluk told IPS.

In an indication of the deep popular opposition to the export arrangement, some prominent public figures praised the attacks, calling them "acts of patriotism".

"These acts constitute a legitimate response to the sale of Egyptian gas - at reduced prices - to an enemy of Egypt," Mahmoud al-Khodeiri, former deputy head of Egypt's Supreme Court, said."

The Monster Rises From the Ashes

The Monster Rises From the Ashes.....
But The Kingdom of Horrors Can Keep Him.

The Lies That Sold Obama’s Escalation in Afghanistan

by Gareth Porter, July 08, 2011

"A few days after Barack Obama’s December 2009 announcement of 33,000 more troops being sent to Afghanistan, in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Robert Gates advanced the official justification for escalation: the Afghan Taliban would not abandon its ties with al-Qaeda unless forced to do so by US military force and the realization that "they’re likely to lose.".....

Even in comparison with the usual lies that justify wars, this one was a whopper.....

The story of the lies that took the Obama administration into a bigger war in Afghanistan shows that those lies have structural, systemic roots. The political dynamics surrounding the making of war policies are so completely dominated by the vested interests of the heads of the Pentagon, the military, and other national security bureaucracies that the outcome of the process must be based on a systematic body of lies. Only by depriving those institutions of their power can Americans have a military policy based on the truth."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

AP IMPACT: Witness saw teen beaten in Syrian jail

Inside a filthy detention center in Damascus, eight or nine interrogators repeatedly bludgeoned a skinny teenager whose hands were bound and who bore a bullet wound on the left side of his chest. They struck his head, back, feet and genitals until he was left on the floor of a cell, bleeding from his ears and crying out for his mother and father to help him.
Ibrahim Jamal al-Jahamani, a fellow prisoner who said he witnessed the brutal scene in Syria in May, heard the interrogators demand that the 15-year-old proclaim strongman Bashar Assad as his "beloved" president.
The youth, later identified as Tamer Mohammed al-Sharei, refused. Instead, he chanted an often-heard slogan from anti-regime street protests calling for "freedom and the love of God and our country."
Tamer's refusal apparently was the final straw for the interrogators.
"Guards broke his right wrist, beating him with clubs on his hands, which were tied behind his back," al-Jahamani told The Associated Press after his release from detention, referring to the beatings as torture.
"They also beat him on the face, head, back, feet and genitals until he bled from the nose, mouth and ears and fell unconscious," he recalled.
"He pleaded for mercy and yelled: 'Mom, dad, come rescue me!'" al-Jahamani said. "He was lying like a dog on the floor in his underwear, with blood covering his body. But his interrogators had no compassion that they were savagely beating a boy," al-Jahamani added, his voice breaking with emotion.
Tamer and al-Jahamani were two of thousands of Syrians caught up in mass arrests of those suspected of opposing Assad during an uprising that began in March.
Al-Jahamani witnessed the beating from a corridor lined with cells while he was waiting for two hours for the prison guards to take him to his cell. He said the corridor reeked from the stench of blood and dirty toilets and the cell beds were covered in dirty sheets.
At the lockup run by Syria's Air Force Intelligence, security forces kept Tamer bound and nearly naked, his body covered in blood and bruises, while interrogators broke his forearm and teeth.
At one point, a doctor was brought in to revive him, al-Jahamani said.
"He gave him an injection and they started beating him again," concentrating on his feet and genitals, and the boy started bleeding from his ears, al-Jahamani said.
The next day, the teenager's screams abruptly stopped and al-Jahamani said he never heard a sound from him again.

Israel to recognize South Sudan as independent state

Israel is expected to recognize South Sudan as an independent state in the coming weeks, according to sources at the Foreign Ministry. South Sudan will declare its independence tomorrow at a ceremony attended by representatives from all over the world.
Israel is not sending a representative to the ceremony, but plans to announce that it recognizes the new state immediately after the United States and European Union countries do so.
In October 2010, the president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, declared that Israel is not an enemy and that he will weigh diplomatic relations with it, including the opening of an Israeli embassy in the capital, Juba.
More than 8,000 refugees from Sudan live in Israel. While no decision has been made it is likely that following the establishment of diplomatic relations, Israel will seek to repatriate most of the refugees to South Sudan.
Israel also has security concerns since Sudan has been a transit area for smuggling of arms from Iran to the Gaza Strip. [LIARS LIARS LIARS]

Qadafi interprets a Quaran verse

I wish all of you could learn Arabic for just 2 min to watch this priceless video. You could hire Homer or Shakespeare and they would not be able to come close to duplicating the insanity and utter madness this clown utters.  I hope he will soon be lynched he does not even deserve a proper trial and execution. Tfoo.

Ibrahim Kashosh

He was a poet who would come up with slogans and chants during the protests in Hamma. The regime death squads kidnapped him and slit his throat. I hope there is hell and I hope there is a God who will punish these savages.

Ali Farzat: Tribute to singer Ibrahim ashash who was slaughtered by the regime death squads

Al-Jazeera Video: Egypt prepares for one million march in Tahrir Square

Muslim Brotherhood to join Tahrir Square demonstration

Islamist movement and political forces to demand justice against police and officials linked to Hosni Mubarak

Jack Shenker in Cairo, Thursday 7 July 2011

"Egypt's military-backed transitional government is bracing itself for the largest protest yet against its rule on Friday with plans for a "million-strong" rally to defend the revolution at Tahrir Square.

In a rare show of unity, Egypt's largest political Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, will join a vast array of liberal, leftist and secular political forces, including youth representatives from this year's anti-Mubarak uprising. They will demand that police officers and former regime officials are finally held accountable and that the army's grip over the justice system comes to an end.

"Take to the streets on July 8: the revolution is still on," reads graffiti scrawled across the Egyptian capital.

The demonstration comes at a perilous time for the authorities, following 10 days of street violence in Cairo and Suez as public frustration at the slow pace of reform begins to grow.

On Wednesday, armed security forces fought running battles with civilians, after several police officers accused of murdering protesters during the toppling of former president Hosni Mubarak earlier this year were released on bail.....

"The problem is that the revolution has ousted President Mubarak but not his regime," said prominent author Alaa al-Aswany in a newspaper column this week – one of many decrying the continuing presence of Mubarak-affiliated ministers, judges, security officials and journalists among the country's political elite.

"The Egyptian revolution is now going through a critical moment, a real fork in the road. It can either win and accomplish its goals or (heaven forbid), it can also lose, leaving the old regime to return in a slightly different form," said al-Aswany. "This is why the demonstrations are important... to correct what went wrong with the revolution … We will go to the square ready to pay the price of freedom. We will be like we were during the revolution, ready to die at any moment."

Activists believe the rally could help challenge the military's legitimacy through innovative new forms of grassroots political participation, including a "civil referendum" which will see questionnaires about Egypt's future distributed among demonstrators and dropped in manned ballot boxes throughout the square...."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

The question asked is:

Do you see that the January revolution in Egypt is achieving its goals?

With over 1,200 responding so far, 54% said no.

Al-Jazeera Video: Interview: Journalist in Taiz, Yemen

Al-Jazeera Video: Hama wary and defiant after crackdown

Video: The Syrian Regime's Thugs Destroying Citizens' Property and Sources of Incone! شام - قهر المواطنين بقطع ارزاقهم و تحطيم ممتلكاتهم

Yemen Continues to Inspire Amid Great Odds

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"The Yemeni people are unrelenting in their demands for democracy. Millions continue to stage rallies across their country in a display of will that is proving the most robust out of all the Arab revolutions. The Yemenis face great challenges, however, including the political vacillation of their country’s opposition, and the US’ military and strategic interests in Yemen.

Al Jazeera described Abdul Hameed Abu Hatem as a mere ‘protester’. However, the man’s demands show a purity and genuineness that is consistent with the chants of millions of Yemenis from all over the country. “We are calling for freedom, justice, order and a civil government. We demand that the public income is used by the public and that people have equal job opportunities,” said Abu Hatem, during a pro-democracy rally in Sana’a attended by an estimated 250,000 Yemenis....."

Egypt's gas pipeline a target for anger at Israel, Mubarak

By Mohannad Sabry McClatchy Newspapers

"EL ARISH, Egypt — For 30 years, the Bedouin tribes of the Sinai Peninsula threatened to bomb the pipeline that carries natural gas from Egypt's fields to Israel, which they still consider a mortal enemy. But they never did, at least not while Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was in power.

In the 20 weeks since Mubarak's fall, however, the pipeline has been bombed three times, most recently on Monday. No one expects that will be the last time.

Not only is the pipeline the visible symbol of Egypt's unpopular peace treaty with Israel, but there also appears to be no real plan or effort to protect it.

"Even if you appoint local tribesmen or anyone to guard such a facility, no one would really protect it because they hate the facility, the gas supply to the enemy and the government that signed such an agreement," said Sheikh Ibrahim Abu Elayan, the secretary-general of the Arab Tribes Association. "This agreement is a dagger in Egypt's heart."...."

The world owes a debt to WikiLeaks' whistleblowing

Whatever happens to its editor Julian Assange, facing possible extradition, WikiLeaks has cracked open state secrecy for ever

Amy Goodman, Wednesday 6 July 2011

"Last Saturday was sunny in London, and the crowds were flocking to Wimbledon and to the annual Henley Regatta. Julian Assange, the founder of the whistleblower website, was making his way by train from house arrest in Norfolk, three hours away, to join me and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek for a public conversation about WikiLeaks, the power of information and the importance of transparency in democracies. The event was hosted by the Frontline Club, an organisation started by war correspondents in part to memorialize their many colleagues killed covering war. Frontline Club co-founder Vaughan Smith looked at the rare sunny sky fretfully, saying, "Londoners never come out to an indoor event on a day like this." Despite years of accurate reporting from Afghanistan to Kosovo, Smith was, in this case, completely wrong.

Close to 1,800 people showed up, evidence of the profound impact WikiLeaks has had, from exposing torture and corruption to toppling governments.....

The extradition proceedings hold a deeper threat to Assange: he fears Sweden could then extradite him to the US. Given the treatment of Pfc Bradley Manning, accused of leaking many of the documents to WikiLeaks, Assange has good reason to be afraid. Manning has been kept in solitary confinement for close to a year, under conditions many say are tantamount to torture.

At the London event, support for WikiLeaks ran high. Afterwards, Julian Assange couldn't linger to talk. He had just enough time to get back to Norfolk to continue his house arrest. No matter what happens to Assange, WikiLeaks has changed the world forever. "

After 41 years, Syria begins to imagine a future without an Assad in charge

These are strange times in Damascus – where all appears normal on the surface but dark undercurrents swirl just beneath

Nidaa Hassan in Damascus
(Nidaa Hassan is the pseudonym of a journalist in Damascus.), Wednesday 6 July 2011

"....In the 41 years since the Assad family seized power in a coup led by Bashar's father, Hafez, it has tried to equate the country with the ruling family: "Syria, al-Assad." Soldiers are told to pledge allegiance to the leader, not the country. Statues of Hafez tower over city centres.

But now, across the country, and right here in the capital, Damascus, this vision is being torn apart: people are beginning to imagine a Syria separate from Assad rule.

"The family has run the country like its personal fiefdom rather than a state that belongs to all the citizens," says a prominent writer in the capital, surrounded by tottering piles of books in a living room where a large, traditional silver coffee pot sits on a table.

It is that new idea of national identity free of oppression now driving the protests that crisscross the country, which were initially calling only for reforms rather than revolution....."

Syria: Shootings, Arrests Follow Hama Protest

At Least 16 Killed in Last 48 Hours
July 6, 2011

"(New York) - Syrian security forces responded to a large peaceful protest on July 1, 2011, in Syria's central city of Hama with a series of deadly raids, killing at least 16 people in the last 48 hours, Human Rights Watch said today. Security forces and pro-government armed groups, known locally as shabiha, raided homes, opening fire several times, and set up checkpoints encircling Hama, Syria's fourth-largest city.

"Hama is the latest city to fall victim to President Bashar al-Asad's security forces despite his promises that his government would tolerate peaceful protests," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Security forces have responded to protests with the brutality that's become familiar over the past several months.".....

"Syria's security forces still believe they can shoot their own people into submission," Whitson said. "But their bloody tactics only serve to deepen the gap between citizens and the institutions that are supposed to protect them."...."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Audacity of Hope: Inside Report Aboard U.S. Ship’s Dramatic Challenge to Greek Ban on Gaza Flotilla

"A French boat carrying eight people as part of the 10-ship Freedom Flotilla to the Gaza Strip has left Greek waters, defying a ban imposed by Greece under heavy pressure from Israel and the United States. The small boat is the first to elude Greek authorities after two ships were stopped since Friday. Carrying humanitarian cargo, the ships are trying to reach Gaza just over a year after Israeli forces killed nine people aboard the first Freedom Flotilla. Democracy Now!’s Aaron Maté was on board the U.S.-flagged ship, The Audacity of Hope, when it became the first flotilla ship to defy the ban and make a break for Gaza, only to be intercepted by Greek authorities in a dramatic standoff at sea. He filed this report...."

WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange on Role of U.S. Cables in Helping Stir Arab Spring

"Earlier this year, WikiLeaks released a the largest trove of classified U.S. State Department cables in history, exposing the U.S. role in propping up unpopular regimes in the Middle East and supporting human rights abuses against opponents. During a July 2 discussion moderated by Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange highlighted the importance in releasing the information documented in the diplomatic cables, the impact WikiLeaks has had on world politics and journalism in general, and about the Arab Spring political uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, now continuing across the region in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, and Libya...."

Egypt's Revolution is Only Beginning

"Perhaps the Workers are the Real Heroes"

(vice president of Le Monde Diplomatique.)

"....Egypt’s prime minister, Issam Sharaf, described this agreement as “an encouragement to Arab and foreign investment through amicable negotiation”. The government and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) are still pursuing the same liberal economic policy. They have abandoned the idea of a progressive income tax (the rate is currently a uniform 20%) and a tax on corporate earnings. On 5 June they reached agreement with the International Monetary Fund on a loan of $3bn, subject to the usual conditions of macroeconomic and financial “stability”. (Note that in April 2010 the IMF had commended “the authorities’ sound macroeconomic management and the reforms implemented since 2004”.)

The privatisations of the 2000s were also hard on the workers, made redundant in tens of thousands or forced to accept ever harsher working conditions.....

Three Egypts

Perhaps the workers are the real heroes.
In the Cairo offices of the daily Al-Tahrir, Mustafa Bassiouni, an expert on union and workers’ affairs, asked: “Why is it that the uprisings in Libya, Yemen and Bahrain have not yet succeeded? In Tunisia, it was the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT)’s call for a general strike that struck the fatal blow to the government. In Egypt, the country was at a standstill; public transport was no longer running. In the last few days there were calls for political strikes, and these mobilised the population. In Suez, a strike at a fertiliser factory where workers had already been out in January 2009, to prevent exports to Israel during Operation Cast Lead, triggered a political strike,” In an article on the triggers of the Tunisian uprising (“Tunisie, quelle gifle?”, Libération, June 11-12, 2011), Christophe Ayad refers to a demonstration in the Monastir area following Israel’s deadly assault on the Gaza flotilla (31 May 2010). The slogans in this demonstration evolved from “Down with Israel!” to “Down with the 7 November System!” (when Ben Ali came to power).....

These countless protests reflect the magnitude of Egypt’s problems, as do the subjects discussed by the SCAF, the government, the political parties and the media. The list is enough to dissuade any rational person from aspiring to lead the country: the organisation of the elections; a new law on places of worship; the future of the state media; the trials of senior figures from the former regime; the regeneration of the economy; the reorganisation of the police and the state security service; the dissolution and re-election of hundreds of municipal councils; the role of the armed forces in a democratic Egypt; the status of the universities; the establishment of a minimum wage; the replacement of all senior officials; a law on trade unions. The scale of the changes needed suggests that struggles will go on for years....

In June the SCAF announced that it would go ahead with the decision, taken soon after it acceded to power, to ban strikes, and several have been harshly repressed. Yet these movements are of limited scope and have not contributed to Egypt’s economic problems, which are due to the decline in tourism, the return of 500,000 expatriate workers from Libya and the neoliberal policies pursued in Egypt for decades. What the military, some of the Islamists and the “neoliberal” forces want is a return to order.

Khaled Khamissi, author of Taxi, which describes imaginary conversations in this popular forum for the exchange of world views, said: “We are seeing the clash of two opposing forces: on one side the army, which ‘speaks in the name of the revolution, the better to kill it off’; on the other, the revolution.” In spite of the pessimism of the small minority who are disappointed because they believed the revolution would be “as smooth as the pavement of Newski Prospect” (Lenin, quoting Chernyshevski) and had forgotten that revolutions take years, hope is not dead in Egypt. In the words of a placard in Tahrir Square: “If we stop dreaming, it will be better to die, die, die.”"

لماذا تلقي إيران بثقلها خلف النظام السوري؟!

A Very Good Piece
By a Writer Considered a Supporter of Hamas

أيا يكن الأمر، وحتى لو كانت المقاربة الإستراتيجية التي تجعل سوريا في قلب المشروع الإيراني (سنظل نؤكد على أن المشروع الأميركي الصهيوني أكثر خطرا من المشروع الإيراني)، حتى لو كانت جزءا من برنامج المحافظين فقط، فإن ما يجري اليوم لم يعد يمنح المراقب ولو قليلا من الشك في أن إيران تقف بقضها وقضيضها، بأموالها وأسلحتها وخبراتها وإعلامها خلف النظام السوري.

الشيء الوحيد الذي لم تدخل إيران على خطه في مواجهة الاحتجاجات الشعبية السورية هو الاشتباك المباشر مع المحتجين في الشوارع، ليس فقط لانتفاء الحاجة الماسة لذلك، أقله إلى الآن، بل للخشية من أن يؤدي ذلك إلى مزيد من التصعيد المذهبي في الصراع، وبالتالي حشر النظام السوري في إطار طائفي فاقع يشطب ما تبقى من تعاطف عربي (سني) معه (ينحصر في صفوف بعض القوميين واليساريين)، فيما يؤدي من جهة أخرى إلى حسم حالة التردد التي تعيشها فئات شعبية سورية (سنّية بالطبع) لم تنخرط في المعركة إلى الآن.

من المؤكد أن المشروع الإيراني من دون سوريا سيفقد معظم طموحاته في التمدد، وستعود إيران إلى دورها الطبيعي دولة قومية ضمن نطاق إستراتيجي فيه الكثير من القوى ذات الثقل. لا نعني تركيا فقط بصعودها الملحوظ إقليميا في ظل حزب العدالة والتنمية، بل نعني الوضع العربي كحالة عامة إذا نجح في تعزيز التعاون والخطاب المشترك، كما نعني مصر كدولة كبيرة وذات ثقل بعد تخلصها من إرث حسني مبارك الذي رهن البلاد للعبة التوريث، وأضاع دورها وحضورها الإقليمي الذي كان مختلفا طيلة المراحل الماضية على تفاوت بين مرحلة وأخرى.

بخروج سوريا من المعسكر الإيراني لن يكون بوسع إيران الحضور لاعبا كبيرا ومؤثرا في المنطقة كما هو حالها الآن، وسيكون أول المتأثرين بذلك حزب الله الذي سيغدو ظهره مكشوفا أمام الشعور السنّي بطغيانه على الوضع اللبناني.

أما الحضور الإيراني في العراق فسيتأثر بدوره أيضا، وبالطبع لأن الحضور العربي والتركي في ذلك الملف سيتصاعد بتراجع الدور الإقليمي الإيراني، وإذا كان التدخل المحدود الذي برز في الانتخابات الماضية قد حجّم أو كاد يحجم التفرد الإيراني في الشأن العراقي، فما بالك لو تغير الفضاء السياسي برمته في غير صالح إيران.

سيقول البعض إن حماس والجهاد سيتأثران سلبيا بضعف النفوذ الإيراني، وهو ما قد يبدو صحيحا في المدى القريب في حال قررت إيران التوقف عن تقديم أي دعم لهما، لكن الوضع على المدى المتوسط والبعيد سيحمل أخبارا طيبة للملف الفلسطيني ومن ضمنه القوى الإسلامية وتتمثل في وضع عربي أفضل يدعم برنامج المقاومة والصمود، فضلا عن دور تركي أكثر قوة، من دون أن يعني ذلك توقف إيران عن الدعم في حال التوصل إلى تفاهمات عربية إيرانية تركية تصب في مصلحة الجميع، وتفوت الفرصة على العدو المشترك للأمة.

سيقال هنا إن جبهة المقاومة والممانعة ستتفكك، وهو أمر قد يبدو صحيحا بقدر ما، لكن محور الاعتدال سيتفكك أيضا، أو أخذ في التفكك عمليا بغياب نظام مبارك، والنتيجة هي بروز حالة جديدة قد تكون أفضل في المدى المتوسط، وربما قبل ذلك، أما الأهم فهو أن الشارع العربي وقواه الحية التي شكلت أحد أهم أركان محور المقاومة والممانعة ستواصل دورها في دعم الثورات وخطاب الممانعة الذي سيؤدي في الختام إلى بروز وضع جديد يتفوق فيه برنامج الممانعة والمقاومة على البرنامج الآخر، بعد أن كان الطرفان ندين في المرحلة السابقة.
كل ذلك لا يبرر ما تفعله إيران في سوريا، ذلك الذي فضحته تقارير كثيرة من داخل سوريا نقلتها الكثير من وسائل الإعلام، ذلك أن استمرار هذا الدعم سيؤدي إلى تطويل أمد المعركة وزيادة عدد الضحايا بعد منحها الصبغة المذهبية، لكنه لن يؤدي إلى انتصار النظام السوري على شعبه، والنتيجة أن إيران بهذا الدور الذي تلعبه في سوريا لن تنجح في حماية النظام السوري من جهة، لكنها ستجيش من جهة أخرى العالم العربي السني، وربما الإسلامي أيضا ضدها كما لم تفعل من قبل.

وبذلك يمكن القول إن وقوف إيران إلى جانب النظام السوري في هذه المعركة لن يكون في مصلحتها بحال، وكان أولى بها أن تنصحه بتقديم التنازلات لشعبه بدل الرد عليه بإطلاق الرصاص، أو بمبادرات فارغة لا تسمن ولا تغني من جوع.

هنا أيضا يبرز موقف حزب الله الذي لا يتوقع منه التورط في أي تدخل مباشر في النزاع، لكن المشاركة من اللون الذي أشرنا إليه في حالة إيران تبقى واردة، وإن كفته إيران مثل هذا الدور نظرا لخبرتها في مجال قمع الاحتجاجات من زاوية السلاح والتكنولوجيا والتكتيكات التي تستخدم في القمع ومواجهة النشاط الإلكتروني للمعارضة، فضلا عن المواجهات المسلحة داخل المدن إذا اضطر النظام إليها لاحقا (حدث ذلك في جسر الشغور بسبب تمرد قطاعات من الجيش كما نقلت مصادر المعارضة).

ويبقى التورط الإعلامي حيث تبرز وسائل إعلام الحزب كجبهة متقدمة في نصرة النظام ضد شعبه، ومحاولة تصوير الاحتجاجات على أنها مؤامرة خارجية ضد نهج المقاومة والممانعة الذي تتبناه، مع تجييش النخب التي لها دالة عليها عربيا في هذا السياق.

أسوأ ما في هذا الموقف من إيران وحزب الله هو فضحه لمقولة دعم الثورات الشعبية، والقبض عليهما متلبسين بالتناقض بين دعم المطالب الشيعية في البحرين وهجاء من ترددوا في دعمها للاعتبار المذهبي، وبين الإصرار على حكم علوي (يُصنف أقرب إلى الشيعة من السنّة) في سوريا، مع فارق كبير من حيث النسبة والتناسب (العلويون أقل من 12% في سوريا، بينما يندلع جدل حول نسبة الشيعة الذي يصرون على أنهم الثلثان، وهو ما يرفضه الطرف الآخر)، ما أدى إلى بروز الطرفين كحالة مذهبية أكثر منهما جبهة مقاومة وممانعة، وهو ما سيكون من الطبيعي أن يستفز العالم العربي السنّي.
من الضروري الإشارة هنا إلى أن الشارع السوري لم يتورط في الخطاب المذهبي، وحين قرر قادته إقامة جمعة باسم الشيخ صالح العلي (أحد رموز الطائفة العلوية وقائد الثورة السورية ضد الفرنسيين في جبال اللاذقية)، فقد أرادوا من خلال ذلك نفي الطابع المذهبي للحراك الشعبي، لكن النظام هو الذي يدفع الأوضاع دفعا نحو صراع مذهبي سيزيد كلفة المعركة وقد يدفعها دفعا نحو حرب أهلية، لكن سقوطه في كل الأحوال لم يعد موضع شك مهما طال الزمن وعظمت التضحيات.

ثمة بعد بالغ الأهمية هنا يتعلق بالوضع الإقليمي، إذ يبدو واضحا حجم التوتر بين تركيا وإيران على خلفية الموقف من الوضع السوري، ولنا أن نتخيل معنى تلك التصريحات الصادرة من طهران، والتي تهدد أنقرة بأن تدخلها عسكريا في سوريا سيدفع إيران إلى استهداف القواعد الأميركية في تركيا.

هو مجرد تهديد لا أكثر، وتركيا تقرأ الموقف بعناية ودقة، ولن تتورط إلا حين يكون الموقف ناضجا تماما. ويبقى القول إن سقوط النظام السوري وتواضع إيران في طموحاتها الإقليمية (والمذهبية أيضا) واستعادة مصر لدورها مع نجاح المزيد من الثورات العربية سيفتح الباب أمام حوار بين هذه الأطراف يقوم على الاحترام المتبادل وتعزيز القواسم المشتركة في مواجهة التحالف الأميركي الصهيوني، وهو ما سيكون في خدمة جميع المسلمين بعيدا عن نزاعات المذاهب المدمرة.

Al-Jazeera Video: Yemen's elite guards defect

"Several soldiers from Yemen's elite Republican Guard, meant to be the most loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, say they have defected to the opposition.

The Republican Guard is headed by Saleh's son, Ahmed, who had widely been seen as the successor to his father.

The president is currently in Saudi Arabia for treatment for injuries sustained after an assassination attempt in June.

While such incidences continue with members of the police and armed forces also joining the protests, Yemen's future, however, plunges deeper into uncertainty.

Al Jazeera's Bhanu Bhatnagar reports."

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrian protests in Homs targeted by government security forces

Al-Jazeera Video: Syria accused of crimes against humanity

"Amnesty International, a human rights group, has released a report [scroll down to see report]saying Syrian security forces tortured and killed detainees in response to continuing protests against President Bashar al-Assad's rule.

The London-based organisation said on Wednesday that it had gathered proof of such crimes by the government in the northern town of Tell Kalkh.

Amnesty called for the UN Security Council to refer the Syrian government's alleged actions to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court

Al Jazeera's Call Perry reports."

Al-Jazeera Video: Muslim Brotherhood sprouts dissenting parties

"Egypt's 83-year-old Islamic movement is learning what it means to participate in the country's post-revolutionary democratic petri dish. Though the Brotherhood has banned members from participating in any political parties except their own Freedom and Justice Party, at least five groups have split off in recent months.

Islam Lotfy, one of the founders of the youthful Egyptian Current party, says he and his colleagues' ideology is more "tolerant" than the Brotherhood's. For striking out on their own, Lotfy and others like him now have been banned from the organization.

Mahmoud Hussein, the Brotherhood's secretary-general, said it was "natural" that challenges would arise after the revolution and that there would not be mass defection. But never before has the Brotherhood had to deal with such open competition.

Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin reports from Cairo."

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrian forces crackdown on rebellious city

"The people of Hama are once again the subject of a violent Syrian government-led assault.

The city which saw at least 20,000 wiped out 29 years ago by the regime of the current president's father, is now feeling the force of the son's anger.

At least eleven people have been killed as residents set up makeshift roadblocks to prevent the army's advance.

Al Jazeera's Mariana Sanchez reports."

Al-Jazeera Video: Getting rich off the siege against Gaza

"It's been five years since Israel imposed a total blockade on Gaza - a siege that was aimed at weakening Hamas, which controls the Strip.

But an underground world of smuggling tunnels, and the subsequent taxes imposed by Hamas, has actually helped strengthen the group.

While Israel's blockade has generally hurt the economy in Gaza, the tunnels have made their owners and Hamas a lot of money.

Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston reports from Gaza."

Ali Abunimah explains marc3pax video hoax on France 24 Arabic channel

"In an interview on the France 24 Arabic channel’s program Aswat al-Shabaka, The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah explains how the marc3pax video hoax was debunked and how it fit into Israeli efforts to discredit the Gaza Freedom Flotilla."

The House of Saud paranoia

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"For Riyadh, the great Arab revolt is all an Iranian plot, another front for the House of Saud in the psy-ops war it is fighting against Tehran's "polytheists", directed by the Medieval Wahhabi clerical establishment. The Saudi message to Washington and London is clear - we hold the petrodollars and we're top dog in the Gulf, so forget silly ideas about "democracy".....

Welcome to the end of history
House of Saud minions are all over Saudi-controlled media talking about the kingdom's "non-interference" policy. That's absurd; the House of Saud for decades has interfered against scores of progressive or leftist movements all across the world, and pushed several countries to civil war, from Lebanon to Yemen and Somalia - either serving Washington's interests or most of all the interests of their medieval Wahhabi clerics.

King Abdullah recently ordered that the grand mufti and other top clerics simply cannot be criticized. If you are even mildly opposed to the House, you go to jail; 11,000 people have been arrested since 9/11, and more than 5,000 remain in prison. No one has a clue who these people are. Transparency is zero. And there's no legal system responding to internationally accepted standards.

Beheadings abound; 121 people last year. There's no elected government, no political parties, no free press. Two women were arrested last Sunday in Riyadh because they were demanding a fair trial for their relatives, according to Amnesty International. On the same day, at least 20 people - including 16 women and children - were arrested outside the feared Ministry of Interior because they were demanding the release of political prisoners, according to the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association.

Iranophobia is just another facet of a House living in perpetual fear - and paranoia. Wanna see the end of history? Board a flight to Riyadh. "

The new focus of Syria's crackdown has seen similar bloodshed before

By Robert Fisk

"History comes full circle in Syria. In February 1982, President Hafez al-Assad's army stormed into the ancient cities to end an Islamist uprising. They killed at least 10,000 men, women and children, possibly 20,000. Some of the men were members of the armed Muslim Brotherhood.

Almost all the dead were Sunni Muslims, although even senior members of the Baath party were executed if they had the fatal word Hamwi – a citizen from Hama – on their identity cards. "Death a thousand times to the hired Muslim Brothers, who linked themselves to the enemies of the homeland," Assad said after the slaughter.

Years later a retired Dutch diplomat, Nikolaos Van Dam, wrote a detailed study of the Baath party and its Alawi leadership, The Struggle for Power in Syria, and stated presciently of the Hama massacre, that "the massive repression... may very well have sown the seeds of future strife and revenge". Never a truer word – and if the activists' estimate that there were 250,000 citizens on the streets of Hama at the weekend to demand the end of the Assad family's rule is correct, then the seeds of future strife were indeed planted in the historic city's soil 29 years ago.....

In 1982, there was no YouTube, no Twitter, there were no mobile phones. Not a single photograph of the dead was ever published. Some of Syria's tanks now appear to be brand new imports from Russia. The problem is that the people's technology is new too. "

Syrian city resists deadly army offensive

Hama residents erect barriers to stop tanks re-entering – but say raids are widespread days after biggest anti-regime protest

Nidaa Hassan (pen name of a journalist in Damascus), Tuesday 5 July 2011

"Residents of Hama in Syria are resisting an army advance that has reportedly claimed 14 lives as violence returned to the flash-point city.

Barriers have been erected at entrances Hama to stop tanks and armoured columns re-entering en masse, five days after the largest anti-regime demonstration yet seen in the four month Syrian uprising.

But residents reported that the security forces had easily broken through the barriers and was conducting widespread raids. After a violent weekend at the start of June in which more than 70 people were killed, all security forces withdrew from the city of 800,000 in what demonstrators had viewed at the time as yielding to their demands.

Raids started again soon after the mass rally that drew ire from Damascus and led to the president, Bashar al-Assad, sacking the area's governor.

"The situation is bad – there is security on the streets and gunfire in several neighbourhoods," a Hama resident, who did not want to be names, told the Guardian.

Doctors were appealing for blood donations as security forces and regime loyalists vandalised cars and broke into commercial shops, activists reported....."

Video: Gaza aid flotilla banned from setting sail

A flotilla of aid ships seeking to break Israel's blockade of Gaza has been halted by Greek authorities, Wednesday 6 July 2011

Report reveals crimes against humanity in Syrian town

6 July 2011

"The brutal methods used in a devastating Syrian security operation in the western town of Tell Kalakh may constitute crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said today in a new report.

Crackdown in Syria: Terror in Tell Kalakh documents deaths in custody, torture and arbitrary detention that took place in May when Syrian army and security forces mounted a broad security sweep, lasting less than a week, against residents of the town near the Lebanese border.

The accounts we have heard from witnesses to events in Tell Kalakh paint a deeply disturbing picture of systematic, targeted abuses to crush dissent,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

Most of the crimes described in this report would fall within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. But the UN Security Council must first refer the situation in Syria to the Court’s Prosecutor.”

The paper’s findings are based on interviews carried out in Lebanon and by phone with more than 50 people in May and June. Amnesty International has not been allowed to enter Syria......

Amnesty International reiterated its call on the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. It also urged the Syrian authorities to provide unimpeded access to UN investigators currently looking into the human rights situation in Syria.

The willingness of the international community to take action on Libya in the name of human rights has highlighted its double standards on Syria,” said Philip Luther.

“Despite President Bashar al-Assad’s talk of reform, there is little evidence so far that the Syrian authorities will respond to anything but concrete international measures.”"

Click Here to Download Report (pdf, 24 pages)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Freedom for Palestine

Foreign Policy: Sharaf following in the footsteps of Mubarak

By Hossam El-Hamalawy

"The military junta and Essam Sharaf‘s cabinet are continuing forward with Mubarak’s foreign policy, despite all sorts of “change” rhetoric. The Egyptian people have made it clear in Tahrir and elsewhere (and all throughout our protests and campaigns these past years) that gas supplies to the apartheid state of Israel must stop completely. The gas trade deal with Israel has not only been the target of the wrath of Egyptians, but has become also a subject almost featuring daily now in the local press, with more details coming out about the extent of corruption and bribery in that deal which involved a wide array of regime officials from the Mukhabarrat to the Oil Ministry and Mubarak’s own family and circle of friends.

Still, the best thing the govt can come out with is “renegotiating the prices.” Well, if the government isn’t going to stop the gas supplies, then the people will do it. For the third time in 6 months, the pipelines have come under attack by the Sinai Bedouins, which caused temporary disruptions to the supplies heading to Israel and Jordan. The regime propagandists have been trying to depict the operation as the work of Hamas or “professional terrorists” in similar manner to what they used to do under Mubarak. So much for change. Hamas is hardly implicated in any operations outside Palestine (I know when an American sneezes, the US media is usually quick to assume it’s a Hamas-Hizbollah-Al-Qaeda operation, but I’m afraid it’s not true). And knowing what sort of compromising leaders Hamas has, they’ll be seeking warm relations with the SCAF. And we forget that the Sinai Bedouins despite the defamation campaigns against them are just as anti-Zionist as many of their fellow Egyptians are. The Bedouins have repeatedly called on the authorities, before and after the revolution, to open the Rafah crossing and stop the gas supplies. There were even news circulating during the uprising, which I did not report coz I couldn’t confirm, that the Bedouins were threatening to target US warships passing through the Suez Canal if Obama didn’t drop his support for Mubarak.

The attacks on the pipelines will continue, till the govt yields to the people’s demand of severing all sorts of economic and diplomatic ties with the Zionist state.

The relations vis a vis the Arab Gulf dictatorships are even more worrying. The money flooding in to Sharaf’s cabinet from those corrupt monarchs aim at nothing but “keep[ing] Egypt in their orbit.” And as I’m reading today’s newspapers, I’m sickened to find Sharaf “praising the wisdom of the Bahraini king” on his visit to Manama, and asserting that the Bahraini “national security” is organically linked to Egypt’s. In other words, our revolutionary prime minister stands hand in hand with the Bahraini tyrant, whose hands are soaked with his people’s blood–his people who’ve been defamed by the media (and Sheikh Qaradawi) as some sectarian Shiites whose loyalty went to Iran.

A revolutionary Egypt must have a revolutionary foreign policy, that seeks actively to export Tahrir and support the fight for freedom in the region and the world. We will not be able to build a democratic Egypt, while we are still surrounded by an ocean of Arab dictatorships, an apartheid regime and US military bases. What is regional is local and what’s local is regional. "

Gaza flotillas have made a difference

Pressure exerted by the campaign has forced real changes, something the international community could not deliver through 'established channels'


By Adam Shapiro, Special to Gulf News
Contributed by Molly

"As ships continue preparing to depart for Gaza from Greece and as the Greek government continues to serve as the Israeli ‘call centre’ for outsourcing the blockade of 1.6 million Palestinians in Gaza, the myth continues to perpetuate that ‘established channels’ should be used to reach Gaza.

Governments remain comfortable and unchallenged in maintaining a position that the situation in Gaza is untenable, that the blockade must end and that the blockade is illegal on the one hand and that by pursuing these established channels these same governments serve only to reinforce and legitimise the blockade.....

And despite the chorus of “the flotilla is not necessary”, reality on the ground shows that it non-violent direct action that has been the only effective power to make change in the lives of Palestinians....

The pressure applied by the flotilla effort has led to three main changes — in terms of the policy of the siege applied by Israel to Gaza; in terms of the media coverage and public attention to the crime scene that is Gaza; and in terms of compelling governments and institutions to take a position on the blockade....

Mainstream journalists from the US, Canada and Europe quickly adopted the language of the flotilla, referring to Gaza as an ‘open-air prison’ and showing the reality of the impact of the blockade on all aspects of Palestinian society in Gaza. Furthermore, the flotilla put activists on an even level with Israeli diplomats and spokespersons in news programmes, talk shows and on op-ed pages of newspapers.....

And, in a significant legal development, the International Committee of the Red Cross/Red Crescent (ICRC), issued a determination two weeks after the flotilla that Israel’s blockade of Gaza constituted collective punishment and therefore was illegal according to international law....

Freedom, however, cannot be delivered through ‘established channels’ and that is the core mission of the flotilla effort. The other major development over the last year that has directly impacted the lives of Palestinians in Gaza (though also insufficient) has been the opening of the Rafah crossing in a limited capacity.

The opening of the crossing occurred only after the Egyptian people rose up and removed Hosni Mubarak and his regime. Their movement for freedom included solidarity with Palestinians and thus the pressure to open Rafah. Egyptians did not seek freedom and reform through ‘established channels’, which were corrupted and useless....

Only Palestinian demands are discarded. And it is only the flotilla efforts and other forms of non-violent direct action — from protests in the West Bank against the Wall to Boycott, Divestment and sanctions efforts in the West against Israeli Apartheid — that is making these demands heard, understood and able to generate real change.

Our message to the international community: join us in our quest for freedom, and join the tide of history. "

Exclusive: Julian Assange of WikiLeaks & Philosopher Slavoj Žižek In Conversation With Amy Goodman

"In one of his first public events since being held under house arrest, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared in London Saturday for a conversation with Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, moderated by Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman. They discuss the impact of WikiLeaks on world politics, the release of the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, and Cablegate — the largest trove of classified U.S. government records in history. “From being inside the center of the storm, I have learned not just about the structure of government, not just about how power flows in many governments around the world that we’ve dealt with, but rather how history is shaped and distorted by the media,” Assange said. Assange also talks about his new defense team, as well as U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning, the accused Army whistleblower who has been jailed for the past year. Assange is currently under house arrest in Norfolk, outside London, pending a July 12 appeals hearing on his pending extradition to Sweden for questioning in a sexual misconduct case. He has now spent six months under house arrest, despite not being charged with a crime in any country. Assange was wearing an ankle monitor under his boot and Saturday’s event concluded shortly after 6 p.m. so he could return to his bail address by his curfew. The event was sponsored by the Frontline Club, founded in part to remember journalists killed on the front lines of war. Today we play highlights from part one of their discussion...."

Welcome to Palestine – if you can get in

Israel's threat to deny visitors entry to Palestine is as disturbing as it is shocking. Our protest will be a civil society tsunami

Sam Bahour, Tuesday 5 July 2011

"Palestinians have globally touted an array of rights that Israel systematically denies. There is the right of return, the right of freedom of movement, the right to water, the right to education, the right to enter (not to be confused with refugees' right to return) and so on.

But the right to receive visitors, or lack thereof? This is the most recent addition. The prohibition on freely receiving foreign visitors is as disturbing as it is shocking, especially for a country that claims to be the only beacon of democracy in the Middle East.....

Israel, as a state and previously as a Zionist movement, has gone to every extreme to fragment and dispossess the Palestinian people. It has had accomplices every step of the way, starting with Great Britain and continuing to this very day with the US and the flock of UN member states that act more like parakeets to the US than sovereign states when it comes to Palestine.

Well, the game of inaction is coming to an end. When states fail, people take over. It is these people, like those coming to Palestine this week, or those attempting to reach the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip by sea, or those living in Palestine and resisting the occupation day in and day out, who will prove to historians once again that history is made of real people who have a keen sense of humanity and the courage to sacrifice."

المعارضة السورية واختراق ليفي

المعارضة السورية واختراق ليفي
عبد الباري عطوان

"برنارد ليفي كاتب وفيلسوف صهيوني فرنسي يتباهى بصداقاته مع القادة الاسرائيليين، والمتهمين بارتكاب جرائم حرب ضد الفلسطينيين خاصة مثل بنيامين نتنياهو رئيس الوزراء، وايهود باراك وزير دفاعه، ويعتبر حركة 'حماس' المنتخبة من الشعب الفلسطيني حركة 'ارهابية'، ويدافع بشراسة عن الاستيطان الاسرائيلي في الاراضي المحتلة، والعدوان الدموي على قطاع غزة.
المستر ليفي نصّب نفسه أبا روحيا للثورات العربية، رغم ان الثورة الوحيدة التي رحبت به وفتحت له ابواب قلبها وعاصمتها بنغازي، هي الثورة الليبية، بينما رفضته وترفضه كل الثورات الاخرى، بما في ذلك ثورة الشعب التونسي المجيدة الرائدة التي اطاحت بنظام الرئيس زين العابدين بن علي الديكتاتوري، فلم يسمح له ثوار تونس، الذين يعرفونه جيدا، ويصرّون على فرض محاربة التطبيع واشكاله كافة مع اسرائيل، كبند في الدستور الجديد، لم يسمحوا له بان يطأ تراب بلادهم الطاهر.
بعد ان افسد المستر ليفي الثورة الليبية، ونقل باسم مجلسها الوطني الانتقالي رسالة الى بنيامين نتنياهو تتضمن عرضا ضمنيا بالاعتراف والتطبيع، ها هو يحاول افساد الانتفاضة السورية وتلويثها من خلال ركوب موجتها، والترويج لمؤتمر يعقد حول سورية في باريس، بحضور عدد من رؤساء الوزراء ووزراء خارجية فرنسا السابقين، وبعض المعارضين السوريين، خاصة من اعضاء اللجنة التنفيذية لمؤتمر انطاليا،. وقد احسن عدد كبير من هؤلاء المعارضين صنعا عندما تنبهوا الى خطورة هذه المصيدة وقرروا مقاطعة هذا المؤتمر المشبوه. فليفي هذا من اشد الداعين لتدخل حلف الناتو لدعم الثورات العربية تحت ذرائع عديدة.
توقيت تحرك المستر ليفي يفضح اهداف مؤتمره هذا، مثلما يفضح انتماءات وهويات كل الذين قبلوا دعوته للمشاركة، فهؤلاء يسعون لتأسيس 'كونترا' سورية، ويخططون للاستعانة بقوات حلف الناتو لتدمير بلدهم، ووضعها تحت الوصاية الاستعمارية مجددا لعشرات السنوات القادمة. فليس صدفة ان يتزامن انعقاد هذا المؤتمر مع صدور القرار الظني المتعلق بمحكمة رئيس الوزراء اللبناني الراحل رفيق الحريري، بعد تأجيل متعمد استمر لأكثر من سبعة اشهر، وبهدف اشعال نيران فتنة طائفية ومذهبية في لبنان تمتد الى سورية لاحقا.
الشعب السوري، في الحكم او المعارضة، في الداخل او الخارج، يجب ان يكون على درجة كبيرة من الوعي بالمؤامرات الخارجية التي تحاك له في غرف اجهزة الاستخبارات المغلقة، لتدمير انتفاضته، وتمزيق وحدته الوطنية والترابية، وبما يخدم في نهاية المطاف الاحتلال الاسرائيلي، والمخطط الامريكي في الهيمنة ونهب الثروات العربية.
إننا امام محاولات شرسة لتفتيت صفوف المعارضة السورية، وخلق البلبلة في أوساطها، من خلال إغراقها في 'حرب المؤتمرات' واتهامات 'التخوين'، والمواجهات السياسية والاعلامية، ومن المؤسف ان بعض المحسوبين كذباً على هذه المعارضة يساهمون في انجاح هذه المخططات، وبسوء نية في معظم الاحيان.
الحوار المطلوب حالياً هو بين اطياف المعارضة السورية نفسها لتوحـــيد صفوفها، وأول خطـــوة على هذا الطــــريق التـــرفع عن كل اشكال تضـــخم 'الانا'، واقصـــاء الآخر، والتشكــيك بأهدافه ونواياه. فكيف يمكن ان تؤسس المعارضة للبديل الديمقراطي، وبما يرتقي لتضحيات الشهداء، والكثير من قياداتها ترفض الفكر الآخر، او الشخص الآخر، او المؤتمر الآخر؟
سورية تقترب كثيراً جداً من فجر التغيير الحقيقي، فالنظام يزداد ضعفاً كلما ارتفع عدد ضحايا حلوله الامنية الدموية، والمعارضة تزداد قوة ومناعة كلما تحلت بالعقلانية والتواضع، وابتعدت عن اشكال التشنج كافة، ووضعت مصلحة سورية التي هي للجميع، فوق جميع الاعتبارات الاخرى.
لفظ برنارد هنري ليفي ومؤتمراته، هو خطوة كبيرة نحو الوصول الى هذا الهدف، وافشال كل المخططات التي تريد حرف الثورات العربية عن اهدافها، وتحويلها الى حروب اهلية طائفية او قبلية او مناطقية، وصولاً الى التغيير المسيطَر عليه غربياً، على حد وصف طوني بلير، المنظر الاكبر للاستعمار الجديد، وصديق اسرائيل الحميم.

Have lobby, will travel

A PR Campaign to Sell The Libyan Karzai?

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"....We want the money
The "rebel" government - which is now named, after numerous permutations, the Interim Transitional National Council of Libya - has hired Patton Boggs, one of Washington's leading (and one of the most profitable) PR firms, to "advise and assist" them in, well, winning the war - or at least providing the illusion they are winning the war (shades of NATO's PR campaign in Afghanistan).

Patton Boggs is already furiously lobbying for the "rebels" to be globally accepted as the "legitimate government of the sovereign nation of Libya". The agreement was signed between Patton Boggs and former Libyan ambassador Ali Suleiman Aujali, the "rebel" top dog in the US. Senior partner Thomas Hale Boggs Jr will be in charge of the account.

Italy, Britain, France, Qatar and now Turkey have already recognized the Interim Transitional National Council; the Barack Obama administration has already allowed them to open a Washington office. But inevitably this is most of all about money; what the council wants are the billions of dollars in frozen funds from the Gaddafi regime held in the US.

Patton Boggs, by some reports, bags a maximum of US$50,000 a month - charged by the hour. The "rebels" will only pay when they have funds - virtually dry at the moment. For nearly three months they've already had another top Washington PR firm, The Harbour Group, spinning their case on a pro-bono basis - especially on that crucial "unfreeze the funds" front.

It's relevant to note that one of the Patton Boggs lobbyists already involved with the "rebels" is Vincent Frillici, a former director of operations at NATO for the alliance's 50th Anniversary Host Committee. That's sweet; a NATO-connected lobbyist selling Libya's alleged popular/indigenous uprising....."

Syrian forces 'targeting mobile-phone videos'

The Independent

"One of Syria's leading human rights activists has claimed that protesters shooting videos on their mobile phones are now being deliberately targeted by the security services as the government tries to get a grip on the propaganda war.

Radwan Ziadeh, who has become one of the most prominent opposition figures outside Syria since the uprising began in mid-March, said that the security services were now trying to forestall negative media attention by sweeping through neighbourhoods before operations and ordering civilians not to film them.

It comes after disturbing footage emerged of a man apparently being shot while filming a gun-toting soldier in Homs on Friday. The video, uploaded on to YouTube over the weekend, shows an unseen cameraman trying to film the soldier from what appears to be his balcony....

The internet has played a pivotal role in Syria's 14-week uprising – perhaps more so than in any of the other Arab insurrections.

Numerous videos have emerged offering evidence of government brutality, most notably the footage of Hamza al-Khatib, the Syrian schoolboy who was tortured to death in police custody and who became a cause célèbre when shots of his battered body were posted on YouTube after it was returned to his parents in May.

Given the power such videos have to fuel anti-government feeling, it is no wonder the government appears determined to crack down on them.

"For a long time the security services have been confiscating footage from people they arrest," said Nadim Houry, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch based in Beirut."