Saturday, July 16, 2011

Today's Cartoon by the Syrian Cartoonist Ali Ferzat

(Click on cartoon OR ELSE!)
"Reforms" Syrian-Regime Style.

Al-Jazeera Video: Gaza's construction industry soars

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrian opposition leaders meet in Turkey

Liberation When? Five Months of Waiting in Egypt

What Happens When a Revolution Stalls Out?

by Sharif Abdel Kouddous
Foreign Policy

"CAIRO — Five months after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, Tahrir Square has, once again, been transformed into a mass protest encampment and the epicenter of the struggle for change in Egypt. Thousands of protesters are entering the second week of a sit-in reminiscent of the one that captured the world's attention during the 18-day uprising that began on Jan. 25.

At the heart of the matter is the feeling of many that the basic demands of the revolution have gone unfulfilled, with little indication that a path for real change lies ahead; that the calls for justice and accountability for members of the former regime and security forces accused of killing protesters have gone unanswered; and that the revolutionary demands of "bread, freedom, social justice" have all but been abandoned.....

During the 18-day uprising, a common chant that rang out in Tahrir was "The army and the people are one hand." Five months later, a more frequent chant you hear is for Tantawi to step down and for military rule to end. Egypt's revolution, it seems, is far from over."

Interview with Naeim Giladi an Iraqi Jew later Israeli and now American. An important document on the reality of Zionism.

Naeim Giladi (Hebrew: נעים גלעדי‎) (born 1929, Iraq, as Naeim Khalaschi) is an Anti-Zionist, and author of an autobiographical article and historical analysis entitled The Jews of Iraq.[1] The article later formed the basis for his originally self-published book Ben Gurion's Scandals: How the Haganah and the Mossad Eliminated Jews.
Giladi was born in 1929 to an Iraqi Jewish family and later lived in Israel and the United States.[2] Giladi describes his family as, "a large and important" family named "Haroon" who had settled in Iraq after the Babylonian exile. According to Giladi his family had owned, 50,000 acres (200 km²) devoted to rice, dates and Arab horses. They were later involved in gold purchase and purification, and were therefore given the name, 'Khalaschi', meaning 'Makers of Pure' by the Turks who occupied Iraq at the time.

فلسطين بدولار

"أوسلو والاتفاقيات الاقتصادية
التهافت على الوظائف
الدكتور سلام فياض
من أين نأكل؟
شعب فلسطين أعظم

قيادات إقطاعية فلسطينية كانت تعد الشعب الفلسطيني بالحرية والاستقلال في خطابات النهار، وتبيع الأرض للصهاينة في الليل
قدرة الفلسطيني على الاعتماد على الذات أخذت تتهاوى، بينما أخذ الاعتماد على الآخرين يتصاعد, وكلما ارتفع منسوب الاعتماد على الآخرين اضمحلت الإرادة السياسية للشعب وتلاشت
ترك بعض الناس أعمالهم وفضلوا الوظيفة غير المنتجة, علما أن أغلب موظفي السلطة لا يقدمون خدمة حقيقية للشعب الفلسطيني بخاصة الأجهزة الأمنية
ربط عشرات آلاف الفلسطينيين تقييمهم للدكتور سلام بقيم مالية وليس بقيم وطنية، ولم يكترثوا بمستقبل فلسطين واللاجئين، وإنما اهتموا فقط بالراتب
من المهم ألا يتهم الذين يعترفون بإسرائيل وينسقون أمنيا ومدنيا معها ويحملون سلاحا بترخيص منها الآخرين بالخيانة
التاريخ في حالة تغير مستمر، وإذا كانت اللحظة لحظة هبوط بالنسبة لشعب فلسطين، فإن زمن الصعود ليس ببعيد, كدنا نفقد الأمل بالشعوب العربية، لكن التاريخ لا يخذل منطقه

Now the Arab Spring becomes an Arab Summer

By Robert Fisk

"Syrians shot down in the streets across the country, tanks surrounding the major cities of Syria, soldiers killing unarmed, largely Sunni Muslim demonstrators as the authorities protest that "armed gangs" are themselves killing troops.

In northern Syria, citizens barricade their cities from armed assault, and Syrian nationalists carrying weapons and demanding freedom prepare to move into Homs and Hama. Local troops are said to be deserting en masse, while others, many of them Alawis of the Shia Muslim sect, are loyal to the authorities in Damascus. The uprising is infecting neighbouring Lebanon, while a British diplomat writes from Damascus that the authorities have "instituted nothing less than a reign of terror... This will surely spread throughout the whole Middle East".

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? And, of course, it should be, for I am describing Syria in May 1945. The regime doing the shooting is that of France's Charles de Gaulle; the nationalists are pretty much the fathers or grandfathers of the young men protesting so bravely in those same streets today against the ruthlessness of Bashir al-Assad's regime.....

No wonder the protesters, while glad to see Mr Ford in Hama, are more enthusiastic to learn about revolution from their Egyptian brothers and sisters. Many sent anti-Mubarak demonstrators tips on how to use Facebook and Twitter. Today, the Egyptians are returning the favour, posting advice on how to oppose the Baathist regime. Here, for example, is the advice of an Egyptian who says he "adores Syria", posted on the Syrian News Network: "Demonstrations must include whole cities, even if the protesters are few in number – the bigger the geographical area, the more difficult it is to suppress; demonstrate every day – don't make the Bahrainis' mistake of concentrating only on one location, the Pearl roundabout in Manama."

The advice is carefully thought through. "Try to wear out the security forces by protesting all day and all night. Gather in narrow streets, try to gain more sympathisers. Be brave; you will win the psychological war. Never attack the security forces." The last, of course, is easy for an Egyptian to say. Their army believed its job was to protect the people; the Syrian army's orders are to protect the Baathist regime. It uses live bullets promiscuously – hence Syria's estimated 1,400 dead already far outnumber Egypt's nearly 900 "martyrs".

But the remark about Bahrain is astute. Many Bahrainis now believe they started their "revolution" far too early. "We are not yet able to topple the regime," one told me this week. "We were ahead of our ambitions. The Americans and the Saudis won't let things happen yet. Old King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has got to die first." Then, he explained, Saudi Arabia will splinter into princely states and the Bahraini Shia majority can have democracy. Arab Spring, Arab Summer. Arab Winter, too. History suggests the awakening has only just began."

Doctors turn on each other as sectarianism tears Bahrain apart

By Robert Fisk, Middle East Correspondent

"In another sign of the growing sectarianism in the crisis in Bahrain, friends of imprisoned Shia Muslim doctors in the country are circulating lists of Sunni Muslim medical staff whom they claim have been sent to spy on them and to give false evidence against them in courts.

The new list includes doctors, interns, senior accident and emergency officials, ophthalmologists, paediatricians and staff nurses.

The Bahraini government itself sectarianised Shia demands for representative democracy in the Gulf monarchy earlier this year when it stated that doctors at the Salmaniya Medical Complex deliberately discriminated against Sunni patients at the hospital during the February pro-democracy protests. The Shia doctors, who have strenuously denied these claims, are part of the majority in Bahrain; the minority Sunnis comprise the monarchy and occupy senior positions in almost all major state security institutions.

But the latest file, which was shown to me this week by a Bahraini doctor, gives an even more poisonous edge to what is fast becoming a Shia-Sunni struggle for power. Already Shia doctors have been beaten in police custody, faced trumped-up charges of arms crimes and of allowing patients to die needlessly in hospital. Most of us who were witness to the fact that these charges are lies – for we were in the Salmaniya hospital at the time – are now, unsurprisingly, banned from the kingdom....."

Arrests force Bahrain's writers into exile

Journalists say they have been targets of government repression since pro-democracy protests began earlier this year.

Matthew Cassel

"Writer Ali al-Jallawi says he was lucky to end up in exile and not in prison after leaving his native Bahrain in April.

Speaking by phone to Al Jazeera from a UK border agency detention facility outside London, al-Jallawi, a published novelist and poet, said he would rather leave his country than go to prison again. In 1993, al-Jallawi was arrested and imprisoned for six months at the age of 17 for a poem he wrote criticising the monarchy. In 1995, he was again arrested and served three years for campaigning for civil and political rights in Bahrain, he said.

"To get arrested for a third time is too much," said al-Jallawi. "I have a ten-year-old son who I want to spend time with. It's too much to spend more time in jail."

Bahriaini writers - journalists, academics, novelists, poets, bloggers, and others - have been targets of state repression since pro-democracy protests began in February.....

Sending a message

On March 30, 20-year-old Ayat al-Qarmezi was arrested weeks after reading a poem at Pearl Roundabout, the epicenter of the protest movement. In her poem, al-Qarmezi read the words: "We are the people who kill humiliation and assassinate misery. We are the people who will destroy the foundation of injustice."

Al-Qarmezi also criticised the nation's monarchy and led chants condemning sectarianism calling Sunnis and Shias "brothers". After her arrest, Amnesty International said that freedom of speech and assembly was "brutally denied to ordinary Bahrainis".

Chasing the 'wanted'

Since the protests began, pro-government groups posted the names and pictures of individuals "wanted" by the state on various websites. Many were called "traitors," and accused of "inciting violence" and "promoting sectarianism".

Many of those who didn't turn themselves into authorities went into hiding. "Wanted" men left their wives and children to seek refuge, and others stayed at home waiting for the inevitable middle-of-the-night police raid to take them....."

Friday, July 15, 2011

حديث الثورة 08/07/2011

Syria Protests July 15, 2011 : A Video Roundup

An Excellent Roundup of More Than 70 Videos

15-7 Hama أوغاريت حماة منظر مهيب من أعلى لساحة العاصي في جمعة أسرى الحرية

Al-Jazeera Video: Egyptians push for 'total revolution'

Video: Young Syria Child shot in Head by Dictator Assad police at Democracy Rally - Jobaa Damascus July 15

Video: Uprising Against the Bloody Syrian Regime. This Large Protest Was Held in Deir El-Zour, July 15, 2011

Syrian security forces 'fire on rallies'

Deaths reported in Damascus, Idlib and other cities as massive demonstrations mark "Freedom for prisoners" day.

"As many as 14 protesters have been killed across Syria after security forces reportedly shot at protesters, hundreds of thousands of whom took to the streets in the biggest protests so far against Bashar al-Assad's rule.

Police fired live ammunition and teargas in the capital Damascus, killing five people, and in southern Syria near the Jordanian border, where four people were killed, the Reuters news agency said quoting witnessess and activists.

Three protesters were shot dead in the northern city of Idlib, they said.

"We are in Midan and they are firing teargas on us, people are chanting," a witness said by telephone from the centre of Damascus.

In the city of Hama, scene of a 1982 massacre by the military, live video footage by residents showed a huge crowd in the main Orontos Square shouting "the people want the overthrow of the regime".

At least 350,000 people demonstrated in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), an independent rights group based in London, said.

"These are the biggest demonstrations so far. It is a clear challenge to the authorities, especially when we see all these numbers coming out from Damascus for the first time," Rami Abdelrahman, head of the SOHR, said....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Syria sees massive protests in 'freedom for prisoners' day

Al-Jazeera Video: Empire - Egypt: The unfinished revolution

Don't Miss This Program!

Real News Video: Bahrain and the Democratic Uprising

Hamid Dabashi : The Cold War delayed the democratic movement in the Arab world, but it will not be stopped now


More at The Real News

Muqtada toys with US's Iraq intentions

By Gareth Porter
Asia Times

"WASHINGTON - The big question looming over United States-Iraqi negotiations on a US military presence after 2011 is what game Shi'ite leader Muqtada al-Sadr is playing on the issue.

United States officials regard Muqtada as still resisting the US military presence illegally and are demanding that Muqtada call off his Promised Day Brigades completely.

But Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's main point of contact with Muqtada says he is playing a double game and does not intend to obstruct the negotiations on a deal for the stationing of 10,000 or more US troops from 2012 onward..... "

The future of Egypt's protests

Egypt has experienced a new wave of protests as dissatisfaction with the pace of progress spreads. So what can it achieve?

Issandr El Amrani for the Arabist, Thursday 14 July 2011

".....But my impression is that the media is generally cautiously supportive of the protesters' aims, even among conservative mainstream voices. The Muslim Brothers, who are not participating in the sit-in in any official capacity, are staying largely quiet or are making calls for Egyptians to rally behind the Scaf. I'm not sure how well that message will go across after General al-Fangari's lecture a few days ago, disliked by many who resented his hectoring and paternal tone (reminiscent, of course, of none other than Hosni Mubarak himself).

The Brotherhood's line primarily seems to be to urge people to wait for the elections and an elected government, which will "carry out the aims of the revolution". I can't quite gauge how much support this (not altogether unreasonable) position has, but also can't help feeling that ever since the beginning of the revolution in January the Brotherhood leadership has been behind the curve of what change is possible. On the other hand, while others are pouring their energies into fighting the Scaf, they are no doubt building a formidable electoral machine.

The more important question might be how much general public support is behind Tahrir (and the other, much smaller, protests across the country). The turnout on Friday might be one indication of that."

VIDEO – Prayers and Protests – Life inside the Tahrir sit-in الحياة في اعتصام التحرير

From Hossam El-Hamalawy

Al-Jazeera Video: تراجع الدور الأميركي في العالم العربي

Islamists… Which side are you on?

By Hossam El-Hamalawy

"The Islamist forces, without exception, are now against the sit-ins in Tahrir, Suez, Alexandria and elsewhere in the country. And I mean here the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafis, Gamaa Islamiya and even the pathetic intellectuals of the “moderate” Wassat Party. All are singing praise of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (read: Mubarak’s army generals), describing the sit-ins and protests as “chaos”, “conspiracy from abroad”, “work of thugs”, “counterrevolution”, bla bla bla .. in a language that is no different from what State Security Police used to do during the uprising, and what the military continues to do till today.

No wonder the shabab in Tahrir kicked out Sheikh Safwat Hegazi (the Islamist preacher with MB roots who supported the uprising strongly but was more than happy to become a SCAF lackey later) when he showed up at the square two nights ago, accusing him of opportunism and being an agent of SCAF.....

Shame on them. I will not sing this stupid hymn of “national unity.” It’s time to make a clear stand, distinguish who’s for the revolution and who has decided to side with the counterrevolution… And the Islamist forces leaders are clearly on the side of the counterrevolutionary generals. I hope the Islamist youth, those who defied their leaders’ orders and took part in the uprising, will wake up and know what sort of opportunists run their organizations. "

Thursday, July 14, 2011

How the Arab world lost southern Sudan

Both pan-Arabist and Islamist governments have failed to embrace diversity and pluralism - to their own detriment.

By Lamis Andoni

"The division of Sudan into two states is a dangerous precedent. The Arab world has to draw the right lessons from if it wants to avoid the break-up of other Arab states into ethnic and sectarian enclaves.

The birth of South Sudan is first and foremost a testimony to the failure of the official Arab order, pan-Arabism, and especially the Islamic political projects to provide civic and equal rights to ethnic and religious minorities in the Arab world.....

Avi Dichter, Israel's former interior security minister, once said: "We had to weaken Sudan and deprive it of the initiative to build a strong and united state. That is necessary for bolstering and strengthening Israel's national security. We produced and escalated the Darfur crisis to prevent Sudan from developing its capabilities."

But the Arab world cannot simply explain secession as a product of a Western-Israeli conspiracy.

Arab failures

If anything, it is the repressive regime in Sudan, combined with an incompetent and corrupt official Arab order, that drove legitimately disaffected people in southern Sudan into Western and even Israeli arms seeking independence from a failing Arab world......

Arabs should look at their serious blunders and moral failures by facing the fact that the South Sudanese are an oppressed people whose grievances were against Arab rule and not against Western domination.....

The Arab political order that people are now rebelling against has fostered religious divisions partly as a necessary prerequisite for the survival and continuity of Arab tyrants and authoritarian leaders.

Brittle power

The unwillingness of the Arab leadership in Sudan to embrace a very rich, diverse culture that connects the Arab world with Africa underscores the urgency of reconsidering not only the Arab political systems, as the Arab Spring has done, but also the failure of prevailing political ideologies and political parties to adequately address the rights of ethnic and religious sects and groups.....

But while pan-Arabism was initially an anti-colonial movement, some of its branches - especially the Ba'ath Arab parties that ruled Syria and Iraq - demonstrated and practiced destructive chauvinist policies and actions against other ethnic groups and nationalities. The case of the Kurds in both Syria and Iraq testify to different degrees of exclusivist, supremacist and racist policies by both Ba'athist political parties.

Hence the influence of pan-Arab nationalism on the political culture has not always been positive. Instead, it has actually created racist and chauvinist attitudes that obstructed serious condemnation and criticism of the way the national Sudanese government in the North dealt with the people of the South.....

Islamist systems

However, the post-independence regime in Sudan had never become part of the pan-Arab project, as it was mostly influenced and even led by the strong Islamist movement there. Accordingly, Sudan has been an utter failure for the Islamic movement in the Arab world, for it was the only regime where an Islamic movement had historically partnered with or dominated the regime. It is true that the Islamic movement in the Arab world is not monolithic and differs from country to country; there are many Islamic movements, and not only one movement. However, the failure in Sudan should challenge Islamic thinkers and leaders to review the failed experience of an Islamic movement that had attained power and actually took part in leading a country..... But it is a case in which an Islamic movement had the opportunity to create an Islamic model of inclusion and peace, and failed miserably......

The incident, it must be noted, was not unique or confined to a regime that claimed to be implementing an Islamic code. The Ba'athist party in Iraq carried out a similar crackdown the late 1970s against the Iraqi communists, and even against Ba'athists who disagreed with the party leaders.

Hence in the end, and regardless of the claimed political identities of rulers, whether self-declared pan-Arabist or Islamist, the lack of political freedoms, the abuse of human rights, and the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of small elite are some of the main underlying causes of the failure of the Arab political order - and of the ongoing uprising against it.....

It was only natural that the system could not deal with the country's diversity. This gave a golden opportunity to foreign interference and eventually division.

It is only legitimate for the people of the new state of South Sudan to celebrate their independence, but it is also a critical point, while Arab uprisings are demanding freedom and justice, to remember that we cannot establish a better Arab order without embracing diversity and pluralism, instead of narrow nationalist or religious ideologies that have only served as tools for dictators."

Carlos Latuff wins US Best Cartoon Award

Brazilian freelance political cartoonist Carlos Latuff's "Once upon a Time in Rafah"
A cartoon strip depicting the witty response of a Palestinian child to the racist remarks of an Israeli kid has won the United States' Best Political Cartoon Award.

The award was given to Brazilian freelance political cartoonist Carlos Latuff's “Once upon a Time in Rafah,” Fars News Agency reported.

In the cartoon, the Israeli kid addresses the Palestinian child by saying, “My father told me that you Arabs are evil terrorist animals.”

In response, the witty Palestinian child hints at Israeli's violence, saying, “My father told me nothing! He was murdered by yours.”

هل بدأ غرق الباخرة وهي ما زالت راسية؟

"انحراف الإعلام
الإشهار الحزبي والمال المشبوه
شراء الذمم
الحريات لتغذية الفتن
الأرستقراطية المخفية وأجندتها الفاعلة
تدابير العلاج والوقاية

يقول مثل شعبي "'من المرسى بدينا نجدّفو"' أي من الميناء بدأنا نجدف لرحلة الخطر. ربما يجدر بخصوص التجربة الديمقراطية في تونس، أن نتساءل هل من المرسى بدأنا نغرق؟

فالديمقراطية تخطو أولى خطواتها لكن كم من أضواء حمراء تشتعل. بعض الشهادات التي يجب على التونسيين والعرب تفحصها بمنتهى الجدية وهي تختزل أخطر الأمراض التي تهدّد المولودة الجديدة وآلام المخاض الثوري التي جادت بها لم تنه بعد

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - US points finger at Iran for Iraq violence

Al-Jazeera Video: Shortage of UN food aid to Gaza

Real News Video: Getting Away with Torture

Human rights advocates urge criminal investigations into the Bush administration for torture

More at The Real News

Today's Cartoon by the Syrian Cartoonist Ali Ferzat

(Click on cartoon to enlarge, OR ELSE!)

The Syrian Regime's Crackdown on Intellectuals, Writers, Artist,...

How Greece abandoned Palestine

By David Cronin
The Electronic Intifada
13 July 2011
"......Andreas Papandreou’s championing of Palestinian rights might have had some moral weight in the early 1980s. Three decades on, his son George has become a craven accomplice in maintaining the Israeli occupation."

Confused Strategy: How the PA Sold Out Palestinian Unity

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"....Once again, Abbas and the PA were faced with a dilemma around priorities. National unity in Palestine was to suffer yet another blow. “The Palestinian president does not want to wage two diplomatic battles for recognition of an alliance with the Islamic militants and for a U.N. nod to statehood at the same time,” said a PLO official (as quoted by the Associated Press and Ha’aretz).

The UN vote “would be a largely symbolic step that the Palestinians hope will nonetheless improve their leverage against Israel,” according to the AP report. ‘Symbolic’ maybe, but is a priority that Abbas feels comes ahead of urgently needed national unity and a unified political program.

Meanwhile, PA forces – trained and armed by the US and in constant coordination with the Israeli army – reportedly arrested 68 Hamas members in recent weeks, according to a report by Maan News Agency, citing a Hamas statement.

While Abbas is now leading a diplomatic mission to drum up support for his UN initiative, Fayyad is trying to collect funds to prop up the PA economy for a few more months. Meanwhile, Palestinian national unity - without which Palestinians will remain hopelessly fragmented and vulnerable to external pressures and foreign priorities – remains merely ink on paper."

U.S. Standing Plunges Across Arab World

By Naseema Noor and Jim Lobe

"WASHINGTON, Jul 13, 2011 (IPS) - The United States' popularity in the Arab world has plummeted to levels lower than the last year of the George W. Bush administration, according to a new survey of public opinion in six Arab countries released here Wednesday.

The "Arab Attitudes" survey found that favourable ratings of the United States have fallen by nine percent or more in Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over the past two years.

In Egypt, they fell from 30 percent to a meagre five percent. Only in Lebanon did positive views of the U.S. (23 percent) remain consistent....."

Bahrain releases poet who became a symbol of resistance to regime

By Patrick Cockburn

"The 20-year-old Bahraini poet Ayat al-Gormezi, jailed and tortured for reading a poem critical of the government at a pro-democracy rally, has been suddenly released – though her sentence has not been revoked.

The international outcry over the mistreatment of the student, who became a symbol of resistance to the crackdown in the island, probably led the government to free her.

After being initially beaten across the face, she had been lashed with electric cables, kept in a near freezing cell and forced to clean police lavatories with her hands, though her treatment in prison had improved recently.

Ayat was greeted by cheering crowds in her neighbourhood near Hamad town outside the capital after her unexpected release...."

VIDEO – Tahrir never sleeps التحرير لا ينام

From Hossam El-Hamalawy

"The sit-in continues, and mass protests are expected tomorrow, Friday, in Tahrir…"

#EgyWorkers Against Privatization – نعم لشركة غزل شبين مصرية %100

From Hossam El-Hamalawy

Ghazl Shebeen workers continue to fight against privatization

From protest songs to revolutionary anthems

Protesters of the Arab Spring are realising the power of music, and finding their voices in styles from folk to hip hop.

Mark LeVine

On the Street, but not of the Street?

There are many reasons Arab hip hop has become one of the defining cultural motifs of the revolts of the last eight months. It's gritty, angry, and evokes the kind of urban imagery - poverty, unemployment, police brutality, lack of life chances - that were at the heart of hip hop culture before it was taken over by bling. Today, Tunis, Cairo and other Arab capitals have, in one sense, inherited the mantle of Compton, Oakland or Brooklyn, where much of the most famous political American rap emerged.....

It is clear, from our experience, that among the greatest challenges facing artists in particular, and especially those particpants in the ongoing sturggles for social and political change, is the difficulty of actually creating the physical spaces for them to meet and collaborate. This meeting and concert showed that however important new media and hi tech communications have clearly become, they are still no substitute for face to face interaction (a point equally well proven in the success of the revolutions once they actually moved from facebook to the streets in collaborative action).

At the same time we will continue to try to reach out to those who couldn't meet with us through these forms of social media. We will bring them into the musical and visual dialogue as much as possible with the hope, always, that at the end of the day we'll all be sharing the same real stage - whether at Tahrir, the Carthage Museum, or hopefully in the near future, the Damascus Citadel or rebuilt Pearl of Bahrain."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Egyptian Protests Grow Amidst Widespread Frustration Over Revolution’s Progress

"A massive week-long demonstration continues in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in perhaps the largest rallies in the five months since the uprising that led to the fall of former president, Hosni Mubarak. Protests have also been held in the coastal cities of Alexandria and Suez. The protesters are calling for all the demands of the Egyptian revolution to be met, including a wider purge of members of the Mubarak’s regime. Yesterday, 30 men armed with knives and sticks stormed the protesters’ tent camp at the square, wounding six. Egypt’s army has called on protesters to stop the demonstrations, only to draw a large protest in Tahrir last night. Speaking from Cairo, Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous says: “The Egyptian revolution has reached a critical turning point. This is not what people fought for, this is not what people died for in this revolution. This is why they are taking the streets.”...."

انفتاح أميركي غربي مريب على الإسلاميين

"لم يكن حوار أميركا والغرب مع الإسلاميين وليد اللحظة بعد الثورات العربية، فهو يتواصل منذ بروزهم كقوة فاعلة على الساحة السياسية قبل عقدين أو يزيد، فضلا عن مرحلة الحرب في أفغانستان في الثمانينيات، التي شهدت ما يشبه التحالف بين الولايات المتحدة وفئات منهم.
اليوم، هل ثمة سؤال يوجه للإخوان المصريين على سبيل المثال أكثر أهمية من سؤال الموقف من اتفاقية كامب ديفيد؟! ينطبق ذلك على الإخوان السوريين، وصولا إلى حركة النهضة في تونس، أما الأسئلة التالية المتعلقة بالحريات الدينية وتطبيق الشريعة فهي تنتمي إلى البعد المتعلق بالتدجين والاستدراج، إلى جانب البعد المتعلق بحرق الشعبية، لأن الحركات تفقد شعبيتها حين تتناقض مع طروحاتها التي استقطبت الجماهير على أساسها؟!

لا قيمة هنا لقصة تعريف الغرب بمواقف الإسلاميين مبررا للحوار، لاسيما أن مواقفهم ليست سرية، وما يريده الغرب هو المواقف التي لم تتخذ بعد، وليس المواقف المتخذة والمتبناة، التي يعرفها تمام المعرفة.
وفي مصر خاصة كانت السياسة الخارجية حاضرة بقوة (صفقة الغاز وكامب ديفيد والحصار على قطاع غزة وتراجع الدور المصري إقليميا والتبعية للإملاءات الخارجية والأميركية على وجه الخصوص)، وإن بقي التركيز منصبا على القضايا المحلية، ربما لأن النظام الفاسد لم يحقق سوى البؤس على صعيد قضايا الداخل والخارج في آن.

وحين رفض شباب الثورة لقاء وزيرة الخارجية الأميركية، كانت لذلك دلالته الواضحة من دون شك.

ومع أنني شخصيا أميل إلى التحفظ على الحوار في هذه المرحلة، وتبرير ذلك باستمرار الموقف الغربي العدائي من الأمة (الحالة الليبية تؤكد ذلك الموقف ولا تنفيه لأن نواياه إطالة المعركة بهدف الابتزاز باتت واضحة لكل ذي عين)، فإننا لا ننظر إلى الموقف بروحية التخوين أو التشكيك أو الحسم الأيديولوجي (لا ننسى التفريق بين موقف دولة وأخرى).
مرة أخرى، إن عين القوى الإسلامية ينبغي أن تبقى مصوبة نحو الجماهير التي تراقب كل شيء، لاسيما أن هناك من القوى السياسية من يحرص كل الحرص على تشويه الصورة، وعندما تكسب تلك القوى ثقة الجماهير ستحاور وهي مسلحة بتلك الثقة ومن موقع الند للند، وليس من موقع من يطلب الشرعية من الخارج المعادي."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This brand new poll asks:

Do you support the current protests and sit-ins in Egypt?

The early results (with about 600 responding) show 63% support.

Real News Video: Protesters in Suez demand retribution

Al-Masry Al-Youm: Thousands of protesters gathered in Suez to protest the release on bail of officers accused of killing protesters during the 25 January revolution

Taliban deliver hammer blow to NATO

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"The assassination on Tuesday of Ahmad Wali Karzai, President Hamid Karzai's half-brother, smashes to bits the notion that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is winning the war in Afghanistan. The Taliban are now rid of the major pro-Washington actor not only in Kandahar province but in the whole south of Afghanistan - where NATO has been involved en masse to crush the Taliban in their spiritual home and favored grounds...."

Egyptian protesters call for end to army rule

Demonstrators continue to occupy Cairo's Tahrir Square, calling for military council leader Tantawi to hand over power.


"Thousands of Egyptians marched on the cabinet headquarters in central Cairo on Tuesday to demand the removal of the ruling military council.

The march, reminiscent of protests that forced former president Hosni Mubarak to step down on February 11, followed a warning by the military council that it would use all legitimate means to end a five-day-old protest in the city's Tahrir Square.

"Down, down with military rule," demonstrators chanted as they went from Tahrir Square towards the prime minister's office, where they demonstrated before returning to the square.

"The people want the removal of the field marshal," they shouted, referring to Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, the military council leader who served as Mubarak's defence minister for two decades.

The protest that began on Friday has increasingly targeted the generals running the country and is one of the longest since it took over from Mubarak following mass protests against rising prices, poverty, unemployment and years of authoritarian rule.

Seeking change

Protesters in Tahrir Square have blocked traffic and stopped employees entering a government administrative building on the edge of the square.

"The military council is following the same policies as the ousted regime," said Mohamed Abdel Wahed, 43, who has joined those camping in Tahrir in tents and under big white canopies....."

Latest From Syria

The Guardian

" It is unclear who is responsible for the two small bombs at the gas pipeline in Deir Ezzor, writes Nour Ali in Damascus.

Rami Abdul Rahman, from Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told the Guardian: "We condemn it whether it is the regime or protesters or is unrelated to the uprising."

Deir Ezzor, out in the far east close to the Iraqi border and on the Euphrates river, is a tribal city where protesters have been coming out in their thousands.

As in the central city of Hama, residents of Deir Ezzor say they have taken control of some areas after government forces backed out. The regime appears to have been reticent to clampdown on the city for fear of sparking conflict.

Authorities removed a statue of Hafez al-Assad last month to prevent it from being damaged and becoming a focal point of the protests. Many in the city, with an estimated population of 500,000, own weapons and some residents have been saying they would fight back.....

Residents said bomb explosions damaged two minor gas pipelines in eastern Syria, in what they said was the first attack on oil infrastructure since the start of the uprising, Reuters reports.

The overnight explosions occurred in a heavily guarded area in al-Tayana and Busaira regions east of the provincial capital of Deir Ezzor near the border with Iraq's Sunni heartland, said the sources in the tribal province, which has been witnessing large demonstrations denouncing Assad's autocratic rule.....

A spokesman for the Syrian embassy in Washington sounds as if he may have defected. Or has Ahmed Salkini just got a new job?

He sent a "cryptic" email to a number of news organisation, according to the Atlantic Wire. It said:

I have recently accepted an exciting job offer in the private sector... I leave my position during the most difficult, yet promising of times in Syria's modern history. I have been pained by every drop of Syrian blood lost. Still, I am certain of, and comforted by, the fact that Syria will emerge from this crisis more democratic, unified, freer, and stronger than ever.....

One cool Syrian demonstration--Deir al Zor, July 12th, 2011

Meanwhile, a clip from the central city of Homs from last Friday, appears to show an army officer instructing troops on how to shoot protesters:

شام-حمص-هذه هي التعليمات بعدم اطلاق النار-جمعة لا...

Libya: Opposition Forces Should Protect Civilians and Hospitals

Looting, Arson, and Some Beatings in Captured Western Towns

July 13, 2011

"(Zintan, Libya) - Rebel forces in Libya should protect civilians and civilian property in areas they control, Human Rights Watch said today. The rebel forces should hold accountable anyone from their ranks responsible for looting, arson, and abuse of civilians in recently captured towns in western Libya, Human Rights Watch said.

In four towns captured by rebels in the Nafusa Mountains over the past month, rebel fighters and supporters have damaged property, burned some homes, looted from hospitals, homes, and shops, and beaten some individuals alleged to have supported government forces, Human Rights Watch said....."

Israel: Anti-Boycott Bill Stifles Expression

Penalties Could Cause Human Rights Groups to Shut Down

July 13, 2011

"(Jerusalem, July 13, 2011) - The Israeli parliament has violated the right to freedom of expression by approving a law that penalizes individuals and organizations that call for boycotting Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Human Rights Watch said today.....

"Whatever one thinks of boycotts, a law that punishes peaceful advocacy in opposition to government policies is a bald-faced attempt to muzzle public debate," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "This law attacks Israeli civil society and will turn back the clock on freedom of expression and association."

The law penalizes any person or organization that calls for an "economic, cultural or academic" boycott of "a person or other party" because of its "relation" to Israel, Israeli institutions, or "any area under [Israel's] control," a reference to the occupied Palestinian territories. The law defines boycotts to include "undertakings not to purchase products or services produced or provided in the state of Israel, in any of its institutions or in an area under its control."...."

Israel anti-boycott law an attack on freedom of expression

12 July 2011

"A law passed by the Israeli Knesset (parliament) making it an offence to call for a boycott against the state of Israel or its West Bank settlements will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression in Israel, Amnesty International said today.

The controversial law, passed on Monday night, makes it a civil offence to call for an economic, cultural, or academic boycott of people or institutions in Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) for political reasons. Anyone making such calls could face a lawsuit and other financial penalties.....

"Despite proponents’ claims to the contrary, this law is a blatant attempt to stifle peaceful dissent and campaigning by attacking the right to freedom of expression, which all governments must uphold," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"The broad definition of boycott could apply to anyone seeking to use this non-violent means of dissent to criticize any individual or institution involved in human rights violations or violations of international law in Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories."...."

Arab Police States, by Emad Hajjaj

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Egypt's revolution is stuck in a rut, but we still have the spirit to see it through

Egypt's military government has placed obstacles in the way of reform that can only be overcome by a collective effort of will

Ahdaf Soueif, Tuesday 12 July 2011

"You could say our revolution has stalled. Or you could say a revolution is not an event, but a process – and that our process needed a push. As I write the revolution is once again gathering pace in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Arbaeen Square in Suez and Qaed Ibrahim in Alexandria, and streets and squares across Egypt. A march has been called for 6pm, and various escalatory activities are under consideration.

With hindsight, we left the streets too early. We were victorious, and yet we left with nothing
. When we managed to push out Hosni Mubarak and the army took over, we should have stayed and demanded that power be vested in a government of the revolution. But we had no defined "leadership" that could speak on our behalf to the military, and we had no government in waiting ready to take power. But that was also the beauty of our revolution; our leaderless, authentic, grassroots, peaceable revolution.....

Our spirits are still high. We still believe the revolution will prevail. We are in a better place now than we have been for the last 40 years. The country, for all its troubles, is more at ease with itself. Innovative forms of collective action – unions and syndicates – are springing up. People are carrying the principles of the revolution into the workplace. For instance Cairo University's faculty of arts defied the university president when he insisted on his right to appoint a dean; it conducted elections and chose a young female professor of English literature for the position. Other colleges have followed suit. Stages and songs and street art are springing up all over our cities. People everywhere are talking and debating fearlessly – and what a wealth of opinion and energy and eloquence there is here.

Thousands of families have paid a terrible price for bringing us even this far. To begin to make sense of this sacrifice, we have to go further; we have to make sure this revolution works."

Brazilian political cartoonist lampoons military leaders

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"As the gap widens between the revolutionaries and their military rulers, a remote voice from across the Atlantic is increasingly being heard in Egypt.

Only a few hours after hearing a speech by Mohsen al-Fangary, deputy defense minister and spokesperson of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), in which he refused to make any concessions to the demands of protesters occupying Tahrir Square, Brazilian political cartoonist Carlos Latuff had his say.

Latuff, who’s now a familiar name around demonstrators’ circles in Cairo. Alexandria and Suez, animated the speech in a cartoon, dressing up a mouse in a military uniform shouting, “Roar!” at the protesters.

The production of Latuff’s newest cartoon was quick, reflecting the urgency of a man who is deeply concerned about the political unrest in Egypt....

Latuff says that his defiant views about the SCAF are deeply rooted in his own political experience.

“Let's just say that we Brazilians have a good knowledge of living under a military dictatorship,” he quips. “We lived for 20 years under a military junta. There was lots of torture, killings and disappearances. The role of generals is not to rule a nation.”

To Latuff, the same rule should apply to Egypt.....

Latuff’s cartoons have now become entrenched in the revolutionary culture; many of them are now distributed in Tahrir Square. Famous journalist Yosri Fouda even featured his cartoon, “Suez Warriors,” on his television program.

Latuff is proud that protesters have used and continue to use his cartoons in their demonstrations. He recently tweeted, “I can't take credit for all 'toons I made about #Egypt. YOU Egyptians give me ideas and inspiration. Shukran. #Jan25”....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrians find sanctuary in Jordan

Al-Jazeera Video: Highlighting Palestinian non-violent struggles

"Al Jazeera's Bilal Randeree speaks to Julia Bacha, Brazilian film-maker of Budrus, at the TEDGlobal 2011 conference in Edinburgh, Scotland."

Al-Jazeera Video: Syria Slams US "Provocation"

Real News Video: Thousands of Egyptians Demand Economic Justice

Lina Attalah: Military government budget delivers austerity measures, no taxes for the rich

More at The Real News

Why the US won't leave Afghanistan

Surge, bribe and run? Or surge, bribe and stay? How US military bases and the energy war play out in Afghanistan.

By Pepe Escobar

"Among multiple layers of deception and newspeak, the official Washington spin on the strategic quagmire in Afghanistan simply does not hold....

Surge, bribe and stay

It all comes back, once again, to Pipelineistan - and one of its outstanding chimeras; the Turkmenistan/Afghanistan/Pakistan (TAP) gas pipeline, also known once as the Trans-Afghan Pipeline, which might one day become TAPI if India decides to be on board.

The US corporate media simply refuses to cover what is one of the most important stories of the early 21st century...."

هل يدير مبارك السياسة الخارجية لمصر؟

"هل نبالغ إذا قلنا إن نسائم الربيع التي هبت على مصر بعد الثورة أنعشت حقا أجواء الداخل، لكنها لم تلامس بعد علاقاتها بالخارج؟ وهل يصح أن نقول إن المجلس العسكري يدير شؤون مصر الداخلية، وإن الرئيس السابق لا يزال يدير سياستها الخارجية؟
في 27/6 كان العنوان الرئيسي لصحيفة «روز اليوسف» كالتالي: العرابي: لا مساومة على أمن الخليج العربي. وتحت العنوان ذكر الخبر المنشور أن السيد محمد العرابي وزير الخارجية صرح عقب أدائه اليمين الدستورية بأن أمن دول الخليج مسألة حيوية بالنسبة لمصر، وأنه لا تفريط ولا مساومة في أمن الخليج، ثم تحدث بعد ذلك عن استعادة مصر لدورها على مختلف الأصعدة.

بعد ذلك بأيام قليلة في (4/7) نشرت صحيفة «الأهرام» على صفحتها الأولى تصريحا للسيد العرابى قال فيه إن العلاقات المصرية لن تكون أبدا على حساب أمن واستقرار دول الخليج. وفي اليوم التالى مباشرة (5/7) نشرت صحيفة «الشرق الأوسط» على صفحتها الأولى تصريحات منسوبة إلى السيد العرابي قال فيها إن مصر ترفض أي تدخل خارجي، وإن استقرار البحرين خط أحمر.

مضمون التصريح لم يكن جديدا. فهو يتكرر على ألسنة المسؤولين في الخارجية والرئاسة المصرية طوال الثلاثين سنة الماضية. طوال عهد مبارك وفي مرحلة السادات أيضا. لكن ما استوقفني فيه أمران أحدهما الإلحاح على الفكرة وتكرارها في أوقات متقاربة. والثاني أن الوزير ما برح يدق الأجراس محذرا من الوضع في الخليج. في حين التزم الصمت إزاء الإجراءات المتسارعة التي تتخذها السلطات الإسرائيلية للتوسع في الاستيطان وتهويد القدس، كما لم يتحدث عن انفصال الجنوب في السودان، أو قصف طائرات الناتو لليبيا، أو شبح الانفصال المخيم على اليمن، أو آثار الزلزال الذي ضرب سوريا، وغير ذلك من تجاوزات الخطوط الحمر التي يفترض أن تكون مقلقة لمصر ولها تأثيرها على أمنها القومي.
الأمر الثاني الذي فسرت به التصريحات أنها تبعث برسالة طمأنة تتجاوز منطقة الخليج، لتصل إلى من يهمه الأمر في واشنطن وغيرها خلاصتها أن السياسة الخارجية المصرية في ظل النظام الجديد لن تختلف عما كانت عليه في النظام القديم
القوى الأجنبية الضاغطة لا تريد لمصر ديمقراطية حقيقية, لكنها تريد لنا ديمقراطية منقوصة تتحرك تحت سقف المصالح الغربية والمخططات الإسرائيلية

In Tahrir Square the anger is growing again. Where is the revolution the crowds fought for?

Graffiti in Cairo: Field Marshal Sheikh Tantawi
Photo courtesy of Hossam El-Hamalawy

Mubarak may be gone, but the new order is floundering. In Cairo, Robert Fisk finds fury returning as people still demand change

By Robert Fisk in Cairo
Tuesday, 12 July 2011

"Something has gone badly wrong with the Egyptian revolution. The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces – just what the "Supreme" bit means is anyone's guess – is toadying up to middle-aged Muslim Brothers and Salafists, the generals chatting to the pseudo-Islamists while the young, the liberal, poor and wealthy who brought down Hosni Mubarak are being ignored. The economy is collapsing...

"We've got sick of the Military Council which is using the same tools as Mubarak," Fahdi Philip, 26, a veterinary student from Cairo University, tells me as we sit amid the summer heat. "The judgements on the guilty are slow in coming. The state of insecurity is still with us."

Too true. Almost 900 civilians were killed by Egypt's state security police and snipers during the revolution and only one policeman has been tried – in absentia....

But no sooner do I open my morning newspapers in Cairo – free-spoken, they are at last, unfettered, largely bankrupt – that I espy a colour photograph of Field Marshal Tantawi appointing a new "Minister of Information", a former opposition politician but information minister just the same – only months after the same Tantawi had announced the total scrapping of the information ministry.

No problem, the authorities said, this was only to help the press fulfil its "democratic" duties before the ministry would again be shut down....

Each Thursday/Friday weekend, the figures go up to an average of 50 victims. Among the young in Tahrir Square, this looks like a conspiracy; empty the streets of police and give the people a taste of the chaos they brought upon themselves – and soon they'll want the state security men again....

I meet up with an old Egyptian journalist friend. The staff of the coffee shop come to greet him, to introduce themselves as his fans, to tell him not to stop exposing the corruption of Egyptian life. He is worried. There is talk of a "civil mutiny", he says. Of people who want to burn the police stations again, take over the government or take the law into their own hands by killing specific policemen. There are widespread stories – I heard them myself in Tahrir Square – that youth groups will try to close the Suez Canal unless the security authorities who killed the innocent in January and February are brought to trial....

...Tantawi is worried that the mobs will come for him. But he knows that if Mubarak dies, the Egyptians are a kind people and will largely forgive him because he was a soldier and he was so old, and there will be a period of calm".

The advantage of the revolution, it seems, was that it had no leaders, no one to arrest. But its disadvantage, too, was that it had no leaders, no one to take responsibility for the revolution once it was over. "

Let them eat doughnuts: the US response to Bahrain's oppression

While the west averts its eyes, Bahrain's people are subjected to brutal suppression

Mehdi Hasan, Monday 11 July 2011

"Pity the poor people of Bahrain. They have been shot, beaten, tear-gassed – and patronised. On 7 March, at the height of the pro-democracy protests in the tiny Gulf island kingdom, a crowd gathered outside the US embassy in Manama, the capital, carrying signs that read "Stop supporting dictators" and "Give me liberty or give me death". A US embassy official emerged from the building with a box of doughnuts for the protesters, prompting a cleric in the crowd to remark: "These sweets are a good gesture, but we hope it is translated into practical actions."

It hasn't been....

But Bahrain's crimes are ignored and forgotten; in recent days, the US and UK governments have heaped praise on the government-sponsored "national dialogue" between the royal family and opposition. It is, however, a cruel charade. "How can there be real dialogue when most [of the opposition] is in jail?" says Kristin Diwan, a Gulf specialist at American University in Washington DC. In fact, of 300 invited participants, just five are from the main Shia opposition party, al-Wefaq, which gained 60% of the vote in last year's parliamentary election. The government, meanwhile, has involved a huge number of diverse organisations to try to dilute opposition voices. What contribution, for instance, will the Bahrain Astronomical Society make to discussions on democratic reform? "It is a joke," Said Shehabi, a London-based member of the Bahrain Freedom Movement, tells me. "It makes a mockery of dialogue."

It is bad enough that we helped arm and equip the brutes of Bahrain and then turned a blind eye to their violence and torture; we must not now allow our leaders to endorse this farcical "national dialogue" or further patronise the country's bloodied and battered opposition. Bahrainis need democracy, not doughnuts."

Fascism Thriving in Israel: Israel passes law banning citizens from calling for boycotts

Law for Prevention of Damage to State of Israel through Boycott means anyone proposing boycott could be sued

Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem, Monday 11 July 2011

"The Israeli parliament tonight passed a law in effect banning citizens from calling for academic, consumer or cultural boycotts of Israel in a move denounced by its opponents as anti-democratic.

The "'Law for Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycott" won a majority of 47 to 38....

It in effect bans consumer boycotts of goods produced in West Bank settlements, or of cultural or academic institutions in settlements. It also prevents the government doing business with companies that comply with boycotts.....

Hassan Jabareen of Adalah, a legal centre for Israeli-Arab citizens, said: "Defining boycott as a civil wrong suggests that all Israelis have a legal responsibility to promote the economic advancement of the settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. This means that Israeli organisations opposing the settlements as a matter of principle are in a trap: any settler can now constantly harass them, challenging them to publicly declare their position on the boycott of settlements and threatening them with heavy compensation costs if they support it."...."

Video: Egypt's gas pipeline to Israel hit by saboteurs

An Egyptian pipeline distribution station has been blown up in the fourth attack this year on facilities supplying gas to Israel, Tuesday 12 July 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

Explosion rocks Egyptian gas pipeline

Egyptian state TV says masked gunmen have blown up country's pipeline that supplies gas to Israel and Jordan.


"Gunmen have blown up a terminal of the Egyptian natural gas pipeline that supplies to Israel and Jordan, in a predawn attack, Egyptian state television reported.

The explosion occurred east of El-Arish, a city in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, located about 50km west of the Israeli border, the governor of Northern Sinai told Nile television on Tuesday.

Flames from the blast could be seen up to 20km away, the broadcaster reported, without giving details on the explosion's causes or the damages incurred.....

The pipeline serves 40 per cent of Israel's gas consumption.

This is the fourth attack on the pipeline since the 18-day uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak's regime on February 11."

Adunis, the revolutionary poet

Syrian poet Adunis may be at the heart of modern Arabic poetry, yet the Arab Spring has consigned him to irrelevance.

Sinan Antoon

Perplexing views

By this time, many Syrian and Arab writers and critics were already taking Adunis to task for the ambiguity of his position. The Syrian novelist Maha Hasan encouraged [Arabic] him to take a firm stand. In an April 14th article in al-Hayat, she addressed him directly" "Today you have to be more clear, precise, and direct in saying the truth about what is taking place in Syria...this is your last chance."

Adunis's second article on the revolt in Syria "The Syrian Moment, Again" fell short[Arabic] even more than the first. The tone in this piece was a bit clearer and was critical of the one-party system. But at the same time, Adunis seemed to be as critical of those protesting against the regime, writing "a politics led in the name of religion by a cart pulled by two horses: heaven and hell, is necessarily a violent and exclusionary politics". And the Orientalist hamartia is always there when he writes that "the present in some of its explosions is copying the events of the past with modern instruments". As if the contemporary Arab world is destined to repeat past tragedies.

In an appearance on the Saudi-owned satellite channel, al-Arabiyya, Adunis had said that he could not take part in protests that emanate from the mosque and faulted the opposition for not starting its protests in public squares. Adunis's stance on this point suggests just how detached he is from the lived reality of his own country. Not only have many of the protests in Syria erupted first on university campuses, but the choice of mosques as gathering-places cannot be said to express a particular religious ideology, since few other equivalent institutions exist across the country, and Syrian citizens do not have the luxury of picking and choosing between many sites for staging their protests. Indeed, there have been moving reports of Christians and atheists who went to mosques on Fridays in order to take part in what was sweeping the country....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrian opposition figure triggers debate

"After four months of unprecedented protests in Syria, it is still unclear who is leading the demonstrations and who truly speaks for the people who took to the streets.

Al Jazeera's Rula Amin was in Damascus and was able to meet with some of the activists, including an old time opposition figure.

Louay Hussein, an Alawite writer, does not claim to speak for all the protesters, yet he triggered heated debate amongst all of them when he outlined his vision for change in Syria."

Panetta blames Iran for rise in Iraq violence

US defence secretary on Iraq visit says US to act "unilaterally" against what he said was Iran's arming of Shia groups.


"US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has said that his country will act "uniterally" to confront what he said were Iranian threats to US interests in Iraq.

Speaking during his first visit to Baghdad since taking office on July 1, Panetta said on Monday that the US was "very concerned about Iran and the weapons they are providing to extremists here in Iraq".

He blamed weapon supplies from Iran for the increase in violence in June, the deadliest month for US troops in Iraq in two years.

"In June we lost a hell of a lot of Americans as a result of those attacks. And we cannot just simply stand back and allow this to continue to happen," he said....."

Real News Video: Greece a Dress Rehearsal for United States

Michael Hudson: Cuts to Social Security and Medicare and privatization at the state level mirror strategy imposed on Greece

More at The Real News

Real News Video: Israeli gas finds lead to border rows

EuroNews: Three-nation dispute is escalating over massive natural gas discoveries in the Mediterranean sea

More at The Real News

True sovereignty is what Arabs are after

By Rami G. Khouri
The Daily Star

Two developments in Syria and Egypt this week have helped clarify what is going on, and what is really at stake. These two are the return of tens of thousands of protests to Tahrir Square in Cairo and other Egyptian cities, to express discontent with the slow pace of the trials of individuals from the former Mubarak regime accused of graft and killing; and the visit to central Hama by Robert Ford, the American ambassador to Syria.

These two very different events converge in focusing our attention on the ultimate issue at stake in the Arab revolts, the prize, if you will: national sovereignty. This has been the heart of the ongoing political confrontation between Arab citizens and their ruling authorities since the current revolt started in December in Tunisia. However, in reality the contest over Arab sovereignty dates back many decades....

The developments in Cairo and Hama this week are significant because they go to the heart of the matter of who ultimately shapes national policy in Arab states. Egyptians who return to the streets in their hundreds of thousands send the message that they see power as being vested in the people, and thus expect their government to pursue policies that are shaped by citizens and respond to their demands and rights. It is important to recognize the political and historical significance of this development at this delicate and decisive transitional moment that will shape for many years the nature of national political sovereignty in Egypt...."

Next Up: Pakistan

Ominous signs of a major new war

by Justin Raimondo, July 11, 2011

"....A war weary public can hardly be expected to begin clamoring for the invasion and occupation of a country several times larger and more populous than Iraq, yet that is hardly enough to deter the Obama administration from laying the groundwork for an attack. That’s what the sudden backstabbing of Pakistan is all about.

From what I can discern, the Obama-ites have continued a program initiated by the Bush regime in Iranian Baluchistan, supporting the Jundallah armed grouping which carries out attacks on Iranian civilians and government officials. Could it be the Pakistanis are finally giving in to Iranian demands and no longer allowing this US-backed terrorist band to operate from bases in their territory? Islamabad has long held this prospect over the heads of its erstwhile allies in Washington.

A suitable pretext will have to be established, naturally, before Washington can make any overt moves: perhaps the Pakistani military will be deemed a “threat” to “Pakistani democracy” – such as it is. In any case, the prospect of yet another military coup in Islamabad is hardly shocking – in which case, one scenario might involve the US military coming to the “aid” of President Asif Ali Zardari (popularly known by his nickname of “Mr. Ten Percent”). Another set up for US intervention could conceivably involve an alleged “terrorist threat” to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal: it’s well known the Americans have contingency plans in place already. Or – the easy route – would be to simply declare al-Qaeda had migrated en masse to Pakistan, and increase our military presence gradually but exponentially, which is the course we are presently on.

At this point, war with – or in – Pakistan seems almost inevitable: the question is not if, but when."

Syrian 'national dialogue' conference boycotted by angry opposition

The Charade of the "Dialogue" as Seen by the Syrian Cartoonist Ali Ferzat.
Vice-president says talks will lead to 'the transformation of Syria', but dissidents refuse to attend while crackdown continues

Nidaa Hassan in Damascus and Julian Borger
, Sunday 10 July 2011

"Opposition leaders boycotted a "national dialogue" conference on reform with Syria's ruling Ba'ath party on Sunday, vowing not to meet the regime while protesters were still being killed in the streets.....

But the 200 delegates consisted mainly of Ba'ath party members, intellectuals close to the regime and independent parliamentarians. Opposition figures, activists in the Local Co-ordinating Committees (LCC) who represent protesters and exiled dissidents, said they rejected email invitations due to the continuing killing and lack of trust in the regime's promises to reform.

"While the regime is meetingand that is what today was – there are funerals in other cities and people continue to be killed and arrested," said Razan Zeitouneh, a lawyer and LCC member in Damascus...."

مصدر إسرائيلي: مسؤولان ليبيان زارا إسرائيل سرا والتقيا ليفني وطالبا بدعم القذافي

مصدر إسرائيلي: مسؤولان ليبيان زارا إسرائيل سرا والتقيا ليفني وطالبا بدعم القذافي

"تل أبيب- (يو بي اي): ذكرت إذاعة الجيش الإسرائيلي أن مسؤولين ليبيين زارا إسرائيل سرا مؤخرا والتقيا مع رئيسة حزب كديما والمعارضة تسيبي ليفني والوزير السابق عضو الكنيست مائير شيطريت ومسؤولين إسرائيليين آخرين وطالبا بدعم العقيد معمر القذافي.
وقالت الإذاعة الاثنين إن الهدف من زيارة الدبلوماسيين هو إقناع إسرائيل بدعم القذافي.

وقال شيطريت للإذاعة إن المندوبين الليبيين "ليسا دبلوماسيين لكنهما يريدان تغيير صورة ليبيا في أنحاء العالم من أجل استئناف أعمالهما في أنحاء العالم".

وأضاف شيطريت "الجميع يعتقد أنه تدور حرب في شوارع ليبيا ولذلك فإنهم يسعون إلى التوضيح أن الاقتصاد في الدولة يجري كالمعتاد".

وقال عضو الكنيست داني دانون القيادي في حزب الليكود الحاكم إن "الدبلوماسيين" الليبيين طلبا اللقاء معه بسبب آرائه السياسية "وهما يعرفان أني أؤيد مبادرة السلام العربية ولذلك اعتقدا أن احتمالات جيدة ستنتج عن اللقاء معي".

وأضاف دانون أنه التقى مع الدبلوماسيين الليبيين لمدة ساعة وأنهما "ليسا مطلعين على السياسة الإسرائيلية لكنهما يعرفان العلاقات في المنطقة ولا يوجد سبب يمنع اللقاء مع مواطنين ليبيين والحديث يدور عن محادثة وحسب".

وقالت مصادر في وزارة الخارجية الإسرائيلية إن وزارة الداخلية هي التي صدقت على منح تأشيرة دخول لليبيين لكن مكتب وزير الداخلية إلياهو يشاي نفى ذلك فيما رفضت السفارة الإسرائيلية في باريس التي أصدرت تأشيرة دخولهما التعقيب على الموضوع.

وذكرت إذاعة الجيش الإسرائيلي إن الليبيين أحضرا معهما وسيلة اتصال ممغنطة وتم تسليمها إلى الجهات الأمنية الإسرائيلية للتدقيق فيها.

Hama's rise is regime's recurring nightmare

Nearly 30 years after a massacre in the Syrian city, the ghosts of Hama have come back to haunt the Assad regime.

Hugh Macleod and Annasofie Flamand

"Nearly 30 years after its residents were massacred in one of the worst atrocities committed by an Arab regime against its own people, the ghosts of Hama have returned to haunt the Assad family dictatorship.

With security forces withdrawn after killing at least 67 protestors on June 3, Hama is in the hands of its people, a rebel stronghold in northern Syria where residents burn their bills, hang giant posters calling for revolution, raucously chant insults at President Bashar al-Assad and where on July 8 the largest ever protest calling for the downfall of the regime was held before the eyes of the US and French ambassadors.

"Since 1963, when the Baath party came to power, we have had corruption, an unjust legal system and no freedom of speech. In all Hama's history the city has been a tangible example of resistance to injustice in Syria," said a local activist, one of an estimated half a million people, the huge majority of the city's residents, who flooded into the central Assi Square and surrounding areas last Friday.

"Today with the support it is receiving from all over the country, Hama is becoming a role model for peaceful demonstrations. We are protesting here for all of Syria."....

But in their month free from the oppression of the security forces, Hama's residents had transformed their city into a place of open revolt. [That will certainly distress Hassan Nasrallah.]

Activists reported seeing residents burning electricity and water bills declaring: "We will not pay for the bullets you shoot us with." Shops closed, workers went on strike and locals began directing traffic in the absence of any police. Only pharmacies and groceries were left open.

Protesters also forced the closure of government offices, in effect taking the running of the city out of the state's hands. "The people of Hama are taking control of the city," said one demonstrator....."