Saturday, July 30, 2011

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Behind the killing of Abdel Fattah Younes

Al-Jazeera Video: Activists vow daily Ramadan protests in Syria

Five killed as Syrian troops storm two towns

By Bassem Mroue
The Independent

Saturday, 30 July 2011

"Syrian troops stormed a suburb of the capital Damascus and a town near the Iraqi border, killing at least five people in the latest raids as the government intensifies its crackdown on protesters ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, activists said today.

Activists expect anti-government demonstrations to escalate during Ramadan, which begins early next week. The raids by security forces appear to be an attempt by President Bashar Assad's regime to prevent wide-scale demonstrations when Muslims being the month of fasting from dawn to dusk.

Authorities have waged a brutal crackdown that activists say has killed more than 1,600 civilians since the protests against the Assad family's 40-year-old rule began in mid-March.....

Tens of thousands of protesters calling for the ouster of Assad's regime took to the streets throughout Syria yesterday, urging fellow citizens who have remained on the sidelines to join them.

The observatory said Saturday that 1,888 people have been killed since the uprising began, including 1,519 civilians. It said the rest were members of the military and security forces.

The observatory is known to be more conservative about the numbers of people killed. Other groups such as Qurabi's NOHRS and the LCC put the death toll among civilian well above 1,600......"

Syrian protests and state violence expected to escalate during Ramadan

Activists predict street demonstrations rather than quiet reflection will mark the Islamic holy month this year

Nour Ali in Damascus, Friday 29 July 2011

"It is usually the month of reflection and prayer, laying low in the heat of the day, before gathering to watch soap operas and feast as dusk falls.

But this year Ramadan is anticipated in Syria for different reasons: as an opportunity to intensify protests against Bashar al-Assad, despite fears the regime may fight back even harder.

Activists intend to exploit the increased daily attendance at mosques, which have over the past five months acted as gathering points for protests following Friday prayers. Many who do not regularly attend mosque do so during Ramadan, when prayers are believed to carry more weight that at other times of year.....

Security forces have carried out more raids and arrests this week in a sign that the regime is becoming increasingly agitated, attempting to scare people into submission before Monday.

Activists report some mosques being closed for renovation and people being stopped from attending dawn prayers in the Damascus neighbourhood of Midan on Friday. Sermons by the state-backed clergy are expected to be influenced far more than usual.

Trying to prevent worshippers attending mosque will only provoke more anger, said the former political prisoner...."

Israel sues Bedouin villagers for cost of repeated evictions

29 July 2011

"Residents of a Bedouin village in Israel’s Negev desert are facing a lawsuit for the cost of Israeli government agencies repeatedly destroying their homes and other structures.....

This lawsuit beggars beliefthe Israeli authorities cannot reasonably expect the Bedouin villagers to fund the repeated destruction of their own homes and livelihoods,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director.

Israel must end its policy of demolishing ‘unrecognized’ villages in the Negev and take steps to officially recognize al-‘Araqib and similar villages, at least until there is a resolution to the land claims and a solution which takes into account the needs and rights of the residents.”...."

Intelligence chief meets with Hillary Clinton in Washington

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"Egyptian Intelligence Chief Mourad Mowafy met Friday with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington DC to talk about regional issues and the process of democratic development in Egypt, according to US State Department Spokesperson Mark Toner.

Toner said at a press conference on Friday that the Egyptian armed forces have exercised self-restraint and professionalism in dealing with demonstrations and protesters, calling on the military to continue to preserve order and allow the process of democratization to proceed.

Toner confirmed that the US is ready to support the Egyptian people [Just as it supported the Pharaoh for over 30 years!] until the coming elections are held and order is reestablished. He added that Egyptians are experiencing a very difficult challenge, though there are many signs of hope.

He said the military played an inspiring role during the 25 January revolution protests, stressing that they should continue to play the same role and follow the same criteria to achieve democracy.

Toner added that the US will continue to provide economic assistance to Egypt and push for a democratic transition [Under a military Junta!]....."

Obama Approval Drops to New Low of 40%

Similar to his approval rating for handling the debt ceiling negotiations

July 29, 2011

"PRINCETON, NJ -- President Obama's job approval rating is at a new low, averaging 40% in July 26-28 Gallup Daily tracking. His prior low rating of 41% occurred several times, the last of which was in April. As recently as June 7, Obama had 50% job approval.....

Americans' Ratings of the Economy Also More Negative Amid Stalemate

The debt crisis may be contributing to a generally sour mood for Americans that stretches beyond political ratings. For example, Gallup's Economic Confidence Index, which is also tracked daily, averaged -49 July 26-28, down 8 points in the last week and down 19 points since early July. The current index score is the worst Gallup has measured since March 2009.

The index consists of two questions, measuring Americans' ratings of current economic conditions and their assessments of whether the economy is getting better or worse. Currently, 52% say economic conditions are poor, the highest since August 2010. And 75% of Americans say economic conditions are getting worse, a level not seen since March 2009....."

Who is the real oppressor of Gaza women’s rights?

The fate of family members in Israeli prisons is of greater importance to women in Gaza than the “right” to ride a motorcycle.

Recently, I was at a meeting with a foreign diplomat who wanted to hear about the problems that young people in Gaza face, and hear our suggestions for how the international community can lend a helping hand.

We were a group of seven young people of different professions and backgrounds. The hour and a half discussion touched on topics such as problems resulting from the Hamas-Fatah division and the lack of sport facilities in Gaza. Toward the end of the discussion a particularly quiet young woman in the group decided to speak out.

As a young woman in Gaza, I face a real problem.” Eagerly waiting for her contribution, I was expecting her to say that despite their higher university enrollment and success rates, young women in Gaza find very few job opportunities, for instance. “I am not convinced by the hijab [headscarf], but I cannot take it off.”

New moves to curb criticism of Israel in US and Canada

29 July 2011

New legislation in the US threatens to conflate campus criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

A number of new initiatives to curtail freedom of speech by conflating opposition to Israeli crimes with anti-Semitism are underway in the United States and Canada.

The Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA) issued a report in early July recommending the adoption of strict new standards defining anti-Semitism and the types of speech and campus activities that would violate them. Its report urged the Canadian government to adopt the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia’s definition of anti-Semitism (“Report on the Inquiry Panel,” 7 July 2011 [PDF]). That definition suggests that any questioning of whether Israel has the right to exist as a state that privileges Jews over people of other religions or ethnic backgrounds amounts to anti-Semitism.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Hamza Al-Khateeb,13, Martyr of the Syrian Revolution

Hamza Al-Khateeb,13, Martyr of the Syrian Revolution.....
So Young, and Such a Huge Price He Paid.....
For the Freedom of All Syrians.
(Scroll down for more new post)

Syria Protests July 29, 2011 : A Video Roundup

(A Large Selection: 118 Videos)

The Arab world's dictators cling on, but for how long?

By Robert Fisk

".....There are no promises from your Middle East correspondent, but this might just be – and how I hate this cliché – the "tipping point" in Syria. A hundred thousand (minimum) on the streets of Homs, soldiers from the Syrian military academy in the city reportedly defecting. An entire passenger train derailed – by "saboteurs", according to the Syrian authorities, by the government itself, according to the protesters demanding an end to Baath party rule – and gunfire at night in Damascus. Is Assad still hoping that sectarian fears will keep the minority Alawis and Christians and Druze behind him? Protesters say that their leaders are being assassinated by government gunmen, that hundreds, perhaps thousands have been arrested. True?

Syria's long arm, of course, can reach far. In Sidon, five Italian soldiers of the UN are wounded after Berlusconi joined the EU in condemning Syria. Then Sarkozy joined the condemnation and – bang – five French soldiers were wounded in the same city this week. A sophisticated bomb. Everyone suspects Syria...."

The Friday of Reaction and Bigotry

By Hossam El-Hamalawy

"What was originally announced as a “Friday of Unity” was anything but that. You can call it, the Friday of Disunity, The Friday of Bigotry and Reaction, the Friday of Religious Fanaticism.

For weeks, the Islamist forces, without exception, have been denouncing the Tahrir sit-in, spreading all sorts of cheap, filthy, sensationalist lies against the largely secular protesters, amid agitation by SCAF also, that already incited Abbassiya residents against marchers on 23 July.

The Islamist forces, whose leaders, also without any exceptions, are in one way or another allied to the SCAF awaiting their shares of the booties in the coming parliamentary elections and constitutional reform, decided to escalate their moves against the Tahrir revolutionaries by announcing roughly two weeks ago they were calling for mass protests in the square, to “assert Egypt’s Islamic identity, denounce supra-constitutional principles, and to demand the application of Islamic sharia.” Such announcement was coupled with an agitation campaign that spoke of “purging Tahrir from the secularists.”....

While leaders of the Islamist forces are knee-deep in their opportunism and clientalism to SCAF, I continue to be hopeful that the Islamist youth, those who defied their leaders and took part in the uprising shoulder to shoulder with their leftist and liberal brothers and sisters, would break the ranks and join us."

Syria: Violence in the dark

Tales of imprisonment and torture by state security forces paint a picture of a regime in panic.

Evan Hill

"....At least 66 people are believed to have died while in the custody of Syrian authorities, according to a list provided by activists to Human Rights Watch researcher Nadim Houry in June.

Outside audiences have encountered the regime's brutal response primarily through grainy YouTube footage and second-hand accounts relayed by expatriate activists.

These brushstrokes paint a useful yet broad picture: a dozen people killed in this city, a thousand people protesting in that city.

But first-hand accounts from those who have been through the packed cells of Assad's jails or those who have come under gunfire from his troops offer a more personal understanding of the uprising.

Recently, Al Jazeera spoke with six men, three of whom were in Syria, and three of whom had left the country. All had been arrested or seen relatives suffer at the hands of the security services.

Their stories, which are available below, portray a violent state system in a spasm of panic, unsure of what it is confronting, yet nevertheless determined to crush it....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Clash of ideologies mars Cairo protests

"Friday was meant to symbolise a day of unity in Egypt's Tahrir Square. Instead, it turned into a show of disunity between the country's different political groups.

Liberals opted out of the protests, accusing the Islamic parties of betrayal, and of hijacking their revolution.

While the speeches in Tahrir Square talked of solidarity with the Liberals, the views of some in the crowd were far from moderate.

Al Jazeera's Sue Turton reports from Cairo."

Today's Cartoon by the Syrian Cartoonist Ali Ferzat

A Sample of Fresh Videos From Inside Syria, Documenting Protests Against the Bloody Regime on Friday July 29, 2011.

شام - حمص - الحولة - جمعة صمتكم يقتلنا 29-7 ج2

شام - دمشق - الميدان - الحقلة - صمتكم يقتلنا 29-7 ج1

شام - ريف دمشق - مضايا - مظاهرة جمعة صمتكم يقتلنا29-7

شام - حماه - جمعة صمتكم يقتلنا - هيكالو 29-7

شام - اللاذقية - دبابة صمتكم يقتلنا 29-7

Al-Jazeera Video: Sherine Tadros reports live from Cairo's Tahrir Square

Al-Jazeera Video: Controversy surrounds West Bank tunnel

"A separation barrier being built by Israel in the West Bank, the occupied Palestinian territory, will further isolate the village of al-Wallaja from the outside world, Palestinians say.

The Hajajleh family, whose backyard is already bound by an electronic fence, is among those who will be cut off from relatives in al-Wallaja.

So Israel is building him an $800,000 personal tunnel as the family's only connection to the village.

Palestinians say the move is not out of goodwill - but is part of a grander government plan to squeeze them out of another huge area of the West Bank.

Jad Isaac, a researcher, says al-Wallaja is standing in the way of Israel's long-term plan to complete a ring of Jewish settlements that would surround the neighbouring city of Bethlehem.

The tunnels would eventually become the village's only means of access to the outside world, he says.

Tom Ackerman reports from the West Bank."

Liquidation Sale, by Mr. Fish

Palestinians Prepare for Massive Uprising

By Mel Frykberg

"BEIT UMMAR, Occupied West Bank, Jul 29, 2011 (IPS) - Leading members of the Palestinian Popular Committees in the West Bank plan massive civil unrest and disobedience against the Israeli occupation authorities come September when the Palestinians take their case for statehood to the UN.

"We plan to take to the streets en masse," Musa Abu Maria, a leading member of the Popular Committee in Beit Ummar, a town 11 km north of Hebron in the southern West Bank told IPS. "We will block entire highways leading to and from Israel’s illegal settlements. We will march on settlements. But these will be non-violent and the protestors will be peaceful.....

Apart from mass marches and protests the Popular Committees are working with various grassroots organisations in Europe, including the Boycott, Disinvestments and Sanctions (BDS) campaigners, who are going to hold parallel protests and marches while calling for an economic boycott of Israeli goods and products.

Abu Maria believes that if the Palestinian leadership is not pro-active in guiding people in the near future, they will organise the revolution on their own. This happened during the first Palestinian Intifadah when the exiled Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) had to follow the lead of the Palestinian street when the uprising broke out in 1987.

"I have been politically involved since I was 15 and first imprisoned by the Israelis. I have my ear to the ground, I have many contacts and I know the way people think here. We will not stop until we have our freedom and independence. The writing is on the wall," Abu Maria told IPS. "

Bomb blast hits oil pipeline in western Syria

"BEIRUT (AP) -- A bomb blast struck a major oil pipeline in western Syria on Friday, causing oil to spill into a nearby lake. State television said the explosion was a "terrorist" attack by a group of "saboteurs."

It was the second incident involving an oil pipeline in a month, and the second time this week that authorities accused saboteurs of striking installations.

Syrian authorities have unleashed a brutal crackdown in an effort to crush the revolt against President Bashar Assad, and activists say more than 1,600 civilians have died since the protests erupted in mid-March. The government blames the unrest on terrorists and foreign extremists, not true reform-seekers.

The pipeline blast came as activists said security forces killed at least five people during overnight raids in Deir el-Zour province and suburbs of the capital, Damascus.

Authorities said the pipeline carries crude from the oil fields in the oil-rich eastern Deir el-Zour to one of Syria's two oil refineries in the coastal town of Banias, the main point of export for Syrian oil. The second oil refinery is in the central city of Homs....."

Libyan rebels fear rift after death of Abdel Fatah Younis

Questions raised over circumstances of Younis's death amid speculation he may have been killed by gunmen on his own side

Chris Stephen in Misrata and Haroon Siddique, Friday 29 July 2011

"The death of the Libyan rebels' chief of army staff, Abdel Fatah Younis, has raised fears of a rift within opposition forces amid speculation that he may have been killed by gunmen on his own side.

The president of the National Transition Council (NTC), Abdul Mustafa Jalil, announced on Thursday night that Younis had been assassinated by pro-Gaddafi agents. But the lack of detail, and the fact that earlier that day Younis had been arrested on the orders of Jalil, have raised questions about the circumstances of his death.

Jalil said that rebels had arrested the head of the group behind the attack but the bodies of Younis, Muammar Gaddafi's former interior minister, and two colonels also killed in the alleged ambush have not been found.

The rebels said earlier on Thursday that Younis had been arrested on suspicion that his family might still have ties to the Gaddafi regime. Rumours swirled that he was involved in unauthorised contact with the administration he dramatically abandoned in February or had even helped to supply Gaddafi troops with weapons.

Before the announcement of his death, armed men declaring their support for Younis appeared on the streets of Benghazi claiming they would use force to free him from NTC custody.

Minutes after Jalil's statement at a chaotic late-night press conference at a hotel in Benghazi, gunfire broke out in the street outside. Members of Younis's tribe, the Obeidi, one of the largest in the east, fired machine guns and smashed windows, forcing security guards and hotel guests to duck for cover......"

The sham solidarity of Israel’s Zionist left

28 July 2011

Is this what solidarity looks like?

On 15 July, thousands of Israelis marched in occupied East Jerusalem to show their support for a Palestinian “state” in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Portrayed by its Israeli organizers as a joint Palestinian-Israeli march and ornamented with the slogans of “shared struggle” and “solidarity,” the Palestinian participation in the event was however scarce — a fraction of those in attendance were Palestinians. This event came a few weeks after a similar march in Tel Aviv, and while the Jerusalem march garnered more publicity due to its location, both events expose the failures of the purported solidarity of the Israeli Zionist “left” with the Palestinians.

The term solidarity — much like co-existence — is so overused in the liberal Zionist discourse as to render it meaningless. The misconception of solidarity raises the question: what does solidarity mean and, more specifically, when can an act carried out by Israelis in the name of supporting Palestinians be considered an act of true solidarity?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Al-Jazeera Video: Libyan rebel military leader 'killed'

Al-Jazeera Video: Obituary: Abdel Fattah Younes

"The death of rebel military commander Abdel Fattah Younis has brought a screeching halt to efforts to organise the makeshift opposition army and risks throwing Benghazi, perhaps the wider effort to oust Gaddafi, into disarray.

Al Jazeera looks at the general's life."

Libyan rebel military leader killed

The death of Abdel Fattah Younes was announced in Benghazi by the head of the National Transitional Council.


"The head of the Libyan rebel's armed forces and two of his aides were killed by gunmen Thursday, the head of the rebel leadership said.

The death of Abdel Fattah Younes was announced at a press conference in the de facto rebel capital, Benghazi, by the head of the rebels' National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil. He told reporters that rebel security had arrested the head of the group behind the killing.

Rebel security had arrested Younes and two of his aides early on Thursday from their operations room near the rebels' eastern front. Security officials said at the time that Younes was to be questioned about suspicions his family still had ties to Muammar Gaddafi's regime.[He was Gaddafi's man among the "Rebels" all along; so is Libya's Karzai himself!]

Younes was Gaddafi's interior minister before defecting to the rebels early in the uprising, which began in February.

Abdul Jalil said that Younes had been summoned for questioning regarding "a military matter." He said Younes and his two aides were shot before they arrived for questioning.

Abdel-Jalil called Younes "one of the heroes of the 17th of February revolution," a name marking the date of early protests against Gaddafi's regime.

While he criticised Gaddafi for seeking to break the unity of rebel forces, he did not say directly that Younes' killers were associated with the regime. Instead, he issued a stiff warning about "armed groups" in rebel-held cities, saying they needed to join the fight against Gaddafi or risk being arrested by security forces.

There were reports of gunfire outside the hotel in Benghazi following the press conference....."

Syrian activists reject al-Qaida leader's support for uprising

Video message by Ayman al-Zawahiri seen as opportunistic by protesters calling for greater freedom and not Islamic rule

Nour Ali in Damascus and Matthew Weaver, Thursday 28 July 2011

"Syrian activists have rejected a message from the new al-Qaida leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, praising their efforts to topple Bashar al-Assad as an Islamic battle against US and Israeli interests.

"I don't think a single Syrian would welcome this statement," said Razan Zeitouneh, a lawyer and rights activist in Damascus who has been monitoring the uprising. "Al-Qaida is trying to use our revolution to get back into the light after the peaceful Arab uprisings took attention away."

In a video message posted on extremist websites Zawahiri, who became al-Qaida leader in June following the death of Osama bin Laden, denounced Assad as "the leader of the criminal gang" and "biggest of those who spread corruption" – largely in tune with protesters' views.

But by calling the protesters "the front for jihad and martyrdom" he also sought to cast the uprising as sharing al-Qaida's aims – a far cry from protesters who have called for greater freedom, rather than the Islamist rule al-Qaida advocates...."

Al-Jazeera Video: Egyptian protesters unite in demand for change

"Political groups in Egypt have called for another mass rally in Cairo on Friday where they will be promoting a single set of demands this time.

After weeks of growing tension, groups including the Muslim Brotherhood have decided to set aside their differences.

Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reports in Cairo."

Libya opposition arrests senior leader

General Abdel Fatah Younis, the chief of staff of the rebel forces, is being held at a military garrison in Benghazi.


"General Abdel Fatah Younis, the chief of staff of the rebel forces in Libya, has been arrested by the National Transition Council.

He is being held at an undisclosed military garrison in Benghazi. The reason behind the former minister of interior's arrest on Thursday has not been made public....."

Today's Cartoon by the Syrian Cartoonist Ali Ferzat

(Click on cartoon to see an enlarged image of the Rabbit!)

Long live Egypt's Supreme Council

With Mubarak out of power and SCAF taking the reigns, what's next for the country?

By Joseph Massad

"Many Egyptians are expressing concerns about the deployment by the ruling Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) of the very same political rhetoric previously employed by the Mubarak regime, despite the SCAF's claim that it is maintaining "neutrality" between "popular" forces; a "neutrality" that it has failed to demonstrate on all fronts.

Indeed, Egyptians who want to transform their uprising into a veritable revolution have responded to the ruling SCAF by refining their definition of the identity of the armed forces. If the famous cry of the anti-Mubarak uprising enjoined the army to stand with the people against the regime, the current cry cleverly differentiates between the SCAF and the army, so that the army rank and file continue to be invoked by the revolutionaries as being on the side of the people - while the SCAF is presented as the political antagonist who seeks to maintain the Mubarak regime with some reforms, albeit without Mubarak....

Follow the money

With the increasing chorus against the rule of the SCAF from intellectuals and revolutionaries, the major ally of the SCAF in the country remains the super-rich business class - which includes secularists and Islamists - which has so far vehemently refused to accede to the demand for a minimum wage for Egyptians (a mere 1200 Egyptian pounds a month, about US$200). It is joined by the Muslim brotherhood and various Salafist groups, which have threatened to end the sit-in in Tahrir Square by force Friday July 29, with a massive show of support for the military. On July 26, an agreement was finally reached between a number of forces, including the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis, on five demands to be made at the demonstrations on Friday 29th by all in order to maintain the "unity" of Tahrir Square.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which joined the revolutionary demonstrations late in the game and after much hesitation, may be looking for a wider role, now that the US administration has decided to speak to it openly (which has impelled it to refuse to join the July 8 sit-in). The Muslim Brothers may look like strange bedfellows with the SCAF and the business class, but if you follow the money back to Saudi Arabia and the United States, they are not at all. Indeed, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has threatened to have President Obama veto the new conservative Republican resolution to stop US aid to Egypt if the Islamists are elected, as it would interfere with her foreign policy strategy in the country.

While much of this does not augur well for the future of the uprising, some fear, and others are whispering calls for, a coup d'état to be staged by nationalist mid-level army officers who are not tainted by the corruption of their superiors or their subservience to the ancient regime to rid the country of the SCAF and begin with a clean revolutionary slate. As elections have been postponed until next November, the situation is getting increasingly tense and is gearing up to many possible confrontations - between the Islamists and other revolutionary forces, between revolutionary forces and the army, or within the army itself. The hands of the Americans and the Saudis in all this are too obvious to hide despite official rhetoric. In the meantime, the future of Egypt and Egyptians hangs in the balance."

Richard Wolff: Debt Showdown is "Political Theater" Burdening Society’s Most Vulnerable

"Republicans have agreed to a vote today on a budget plan they say will cut the deficit $917 billion over 10 years. The move sets the stage for showdown against unified Democratic opposition in the Senate and threats of a White House veto. To discuss the debt talks and economic austerity worldwide, we’re joined by Richard Wolff, Emeritus Professor of Economics at University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and author of several books including, "Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It." "Politics in the U.S. have become as dysfunctional as our economic situation," Wolff says. "It seems almost like the Obama administration is seeking this [August 2] deadline to start moving in the more centrist direction economically that it has wanted ... but has been absent the type of crisis that would be able to convince the American public it needs to do [it]."....."

Lousy Hizbullah media

By Angry Arab

"I was reading the speech by Ayman Adh-Dhawahiri about Syria: and I thought that supporters of the lousy Syrian regime would now use his praise for protesters to condemn all Syrian protesters as fanatical supporters of Al-Qa`idah. I knew that this would be reported on Al-Manar website (the website of Hizbullah's TV). Sure enough, there is a headline in the news of the Arab world section that Dhawahiri "praised Syrian protesters". That is really sinister. So this lousy speech by a man who also had praised protesters in Tunisia and Egypt (although his speeches are ignored by Arabs), now should be used to condemn all Syrian protesters? Does Al-Manar believe that Syrian protesters are revolting against the regime because they want a bring Dhawahiri as their leader? It is disturbing also because Al-Manar website which has chosen to not report on Syria has selected this as the only item on Syrian developments."

Real News Video: Human rights groups warn of a severe water crisis in the Gaza Strip

FSRN: 95 percent of drinking water fails to meet international standards and water and sanitation plants have yet to rebuilt following the 2009 Israeli war

Arab Awakening and Western Media: Time for Revolutionary Discourse


By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"When President Ali Abdullah Saleh tried desperately to quell Yemen's popular uprising, he appealed to tribalism, customs and traditions. All his efforts evidently failed, and the revolution continued unabated. When Saleh denounced women for joining men in demonstrations in Sana’a – playing on cultural sensitivities and a very selective interpretation of religion - the response was even more poignant. Thousands of women took to the streets, denouncing Saleh’s regime and calling for its ouster.

The immediate popular response was notable for its level of organization and decisiveness. It was also interesting because most of the women protesting did so while wearing the Niqab. Fully covered Yemeni women have continued to inspire - if not fuel - the revolution which started in February. Without their active participation and resilience in the face of violent attempts to quash the uprising, one wonders if Yemen could have held on for so long.

The role of Yemeni women in the revolution should significantly challenge any ideas of Arab women that are based simply on statistical or superficial criteria. In 2010, the Freedom House report on women in the Middle East had already determined that Yemen made no significant progress on women’s rights in the preceding five years. Most international reports examining the standing of women in Yemen – whether in education, health or any other field – have consistently been bleak. Yet, in revolutionary Yemen, the discounted women were more than equal to their male peers when it came to articulating their demands for freedom, democracy and equality.....

Arab revolutions are attempting to examine larger issues that have tremendous impact on all aspects of life. They are actively confronting the suffering caused at the hands of local dictators supported by Western and other foreign governments. Western media and intellectuals, however, continue to seek only easy answers to intricate, multifaceted questions. In doing so, they follow the path of the same superficial, stereotypical and predictable discourse. While Arab societies discuss democracy, freedom and social justice, Western writers continue to follow the imagined paths of al-Qaeda, Islamists, moderates and extremists. In all of this, they are embarking on yet another futile hunt, a hunt that which will yield no concrete answers, and more misguided policies."

Defections Threaten to Crack Muslim Brotherhood

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

"CAIRO, Jul 28, 2011 (IPS) - For the last 40 years, the Muslim Brotherhood's united front has been the envy of Egypt's political opposition. But in the six months since the fall of the Mubarak regime, the Islamist group has been racked by unprecedented internal divisions.....

This assertion is borne out by the new parties' leaders, who are all highly critical of the Brotherhood's management style.

"The Brotherhood won't survive if it doesn't reform its administrative practices," Riyada Party founder and Brotherhood veteran Khaled Dawoud told IPS. "Egypt's recent revolution, which saw protesters rejecting authoritarianism and dictatorship, still hasn't reached the group's leadership."

"Even after the revolution, the Brotherhood continues to behave like a secret organisation," PDP founder Hamid al-Dafrawi told IPS. "This has inevitably led much of its rank and file to engage in activities outside the group."

In 2005 legislative elections, Brotherhood members captured one-fifth of the national assembly, temporarily making it Egypt's largest opposition bloc. But whether the group will be able to match that performance in the country's first post-Mubarak parliamentary polls - given its apparent state of dissolution – is uncertain."

كابوس اسمه معبر رفح

كابوس اسمه معبر رفح
رأي القدس

"السفر بالنسبة الى الفلسطينيين يعتبر مصدرا للقلق والخوف، ولكنه بالنسبة الى ابناء قطاع غزة على وجه الخصوص يعتبر كابوسا، سواء كانوا من سكان القطاع او من المقيمين في المنافي، حيث تبلغ المعاناة اقصى درجاتها.
ان تكون من مواليد قطاع غزة، فهذا يشكل اقصر الطرق لغرفة التحقيق في غرف المخابرات العربية المظلمة والمهينة في المطارات العربية، فابناء القطاع يتهمون دائما بالعنف والتطرف وفي افضل الاحوال الانتماء الى حركة المقاومة الاسلامية 'حماس' حتى لو كانوا حليقي الذقون.
جميع الفلسطينيين باستثناء ابناء القطاع يحملون جوازات او وثائق سفر تؤهلهم للعودة الى منافيهم في المخيمات التي يقيمون فيها مع قليل من المعوقات، اما ابناء القطاع فوثائق او جوازات سفرهم الصادرة عن السلطة او السفارات المصرية فلا تعني شيئا بالنسبة الى السلطات المصرية، فاذا مروا عبر مطار القاهرة بعد سلسلة من التحقيقات والاسئلة المهينة، فان امامهم حاجز قناة السويس، ثم بعد ذلك معبر رفح وما ادراك ما معبر رفح، فالمعاناة مضاعفة في كل هذه البوابات الثلاث.
موسم الصيف يعني الاجازات السنوية، وزيارة الاهل في القطاع، الامر يبدو مألوفا بالنسبة الى الملايين الا ابناء القطاع، فالمضايقات تبدأ منذ البدء في التفكير في السفر، فعليك اولا ان تطمئن بان السلطات المصرية ستسمح لك بالمرور عبر الاراضي المصرية الى القطاع.. واذا ضمنت ذلك فان عليك ان تطمئن الى ان السلطات الامنية المصرية في معبر رفح ستفتح لك البوابة، واذا نجحت في كل ذلك فان عليك ان تضمن خروجك في الوقت المحدد للالتحاق بعملك في دول الخليج، خاصة حيث لا يتسامح الكفيل باي تأخير.
السلطات المصرية تسمح بعبور عدد محدد يوميا من الزائرين للقطاع، والشيء نفسه في طريق الخروج. وعليك الانتظار لاشهر حتى يأتي دورك من مغادرة سجن كبير اسمه قطاع غزة، فالدخول اليه رغم الصعوبات اكثر مشقة من مغادرته، والسبب هو حركة 'حماس'، التي تتحكم بعدد المسافرين.
لدى سؤال حركة 'حماس' او المسؤولين فيها عن اسباب عدم سماحها لاعداد اكبر من المغادرين، يردون بان المشكلة في الجانب المصري حيث يلزموننا بعدد لا يزيد عن 400 مسافر مغادر يوميا، ولكن هناك من يقول ان هناك محسوبيات واعطاء الافضلية لمنتسبي حركة 'حماس' واقاربهم، اما اعضاء المنظمات الاخرى او غير المنتمين فعليهم انتظار دورهم في الخروج الذي قد يطول لبضعة اسابيع او اشهر، فيأتي الرد ان هذا غير صحيح على الاطلاق، فالجميع سواسية.
الفلسطينيون ابناء القطاع، وبسبب مضايقات السلطات المصرية ومحسوبية حركة 'حماس' باتوا يلجأون الى الانفاق كوسيلة مرور، ولكن المرور عبر الانفاق ينطوي على الكثير من المخاطرة، خاصة اذا كان مستخدمو هذا الطريق غير الشرعي عائلات تضم اطفالا.. فالانفاق مظلمة وحارة جدا، علاوة على كونها معرضة للانهيار في اي لحظة. وفوق كل ذلك العبور من خلالها يحتاج الى دفع مبالغ مالية تصل الى الف دولار بالنسبة الى الاسرة الواحدة، ونصف هذا المبلغ للشخص الواحد.
السيد اسماعيل هنية رئيس وزراء حكومة قطاع غزة ناشد السلطات المصرية اكثر من مرة بتسهيل عبور الفلسطينيين، ولكن هذه السلطات تسد اذنيها امام هذه المطالبات، وتصر على فرض اجراءات تجعل المرور الى القطاع رحلة من العذاب من الصعب وصفها بما تنطوي عليه من مفارقات لا يمكن تصديقها.
اعتقدنا ان معاناة ابناء قطاع غزة ستخف تدريجيا منذ ان اعلن السيد نبيل العربي اول وزير خارجية مصري في عهد الثورة ان قطاع غزة سيظل مفتوحا بشكل طبيعي، ولكن الامور تغيرت منذ انتقاله لتولي منصبه الجديد كأمين عام لجامعة الدول العربية، وتصاعد الضغوط على الحكومة المصرية من قبل اسرائيل وامريكا بل والسلطة في رام الله للتضييق على ابناء القطاع وزوارهم حتى لكأن حصار هؤلاء لا يكفي.
احمد ابو الغيط المغرم بتكسير عظام ابناء القطاع اختفى، وانهار النظام الذي عينه وزيرا للخارجية، ولكن السياسات الغليظة التي ارساها حول كيفية التعاطي مع ابناء القطاع ما زالت مستمرة حتى كتابة هذه السطور.
المأمول ان تنظر حكومة الدكتور عصام شرف ووزير خارجيتها الجديد نظرة انسانية الى ابناء القطاع ووضع حد لمعاناتهم من حيث السماح لهم بالسفر عبر معبر رفح واليه مثل باقي البشر او حتى الحيوانات

Mounting fears for Bahraini teachers held after protests

27 July 2011

"Bahrain’s authorities must immediately release two teachers held since they led a strike in March if they are being held solely for their involvement in peaceful protests, Amnesty International said today amid claims one of them was tortured.

Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi ‘Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb were among several board members of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association (BTA) arrested in Manama after the group called for a teachers’ strike amid wide-scale pro-reform protests in March.

Their colleagues have since been released, but the two – the group’s former president and vice-president – are still facing trial on charges that include “inciting hatred against the regime” and “calling to overthrow and change the regime by force”.

None of the statements made in relation to the teachers’ strike advocated violence of any kind. If these teachers are being held solely because they led a peaceful demonstration, they must be released immediately,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director....."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Syrian protesters 'forcibly disappeared' at rate of one every hour, say activists

Regime accused of holding 2,918 people in secret, while thousands of others are forced to flee

Martin Chulov
The Guardian, Thursday 28 July 2011

"A sweep by government forces has seized one person every hour during the five-month Syrian uprising and detained them in secret, leaving their families no way to locate them, says a human rights group.

The group, Avaaz, claims 2,918 people have been "forcibly disappeared" since anti-government demonstrations began in Syria on 15 March. Most are accused of being involved in the rebellion that continues to undermine a regime long renowned as the Middle East's most formidable police state.

An additional 12,617 people also remain in detention; however their incarceration has been declared to family members. Tens of thousands more people have fled from towns and villages in northern Syria in the face of intensive military assaults that Damascus claims are ridding the area of criminals and collaborators.

The scale of the detentions in Syria has been compiled by a network of activists and researchers who have provided information to Avaaz. The group has gathered photos of many of the disappeared and is launching an awareness campaign today......"

Syrian regime launches deadly Damascus raids on suspected protesters

Activists say locals tried to stop troops in targeted crackdown that killed around 20 people including two 10-year-olds

Nour Ali in Damascus, Wednesday 27 July 2011

"Around 20 people have been killed as Syria's security forces launched a series of raids against suspected anti-government protesters in and around the capital, Damascus.

The renewed clampdown on Wednesday morning came just days before the start of Ramadan on Monday when protests are expected to intensify.

Activists said locals tried to stop the troops advancing into Kanaker, a southern suburb of Damascus, by throwing stones and closing roads with burning tires. Electricity and telephone lines to the area were cut off, and several people were wounded. Two 10-year-olds were among those killed.

Ten of the victims have been identified by members of local co-ordination committees helping to monitor pro-democracy protests.

"Military security fired and went house-to-house arresting around 300 men between 15 and 40 years of age," Ammar Quarabi, head of the National Organisation for Human Rights in Syria, told the Guardian....."

Libyan Rebels in Retreat

NATO's Futile War


"Fresh diplomatic efforts are under way to try to end Libya's bloody civil war, with the UN special envoy flying to Tripoli to hold talks after Britain followed France in accepting that Muammar Gaddafi cannot be bombed into exile.

The change of stance by the two most active countries in the international coalition is an acceptance of realities on the ground. Despite more than four months of sustained air strikes by Nato, the rebels have failed to secure any military advantage. Colonel Gaddafi has survived what observers perceive as attempts to eliminate him and, despite the defection of a number of senior commanders, there is no sign that he will be dethroned in a palace coup.

The regime controls around 20 per cent more territory than it did in the immediate aftermath of the uprising on 17 February......"

Al-Jazeera Video: The Arab Awakening - Absolute Power

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - The rise of the right

Al-Jazeera Video: Egyptians divided on political future

"Six months on from the Egyptian revolution, cracks are appearing among the groups and forces that came together to oust the government of Hosni Mubarak.

With parliamentary elections due at the end of the year, recurrent street clashes have been a stark reminder of the deep differences over Egypt's democratic future.

"When you move beyond the specific demands into what is it that is driving people, then there are different visions," Alaa Abdel Fatah, an activist, said.

"Are we trying to topple the military council or are we trying to force them to toe the line and implement the revolution's demands? And if we are trying to get rid of them in one way or another, what is the alternative?"

For 18 days Egyptians stood united in their aim to topple Mubarak's presidency. Cracks are appearing between groups, each with their own vision of what the new Egypt should look like.

Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reports from Cairo."

Al-Jazeera Video: Mixed feelings about Palestine's UN bid in Ramallah

Real News Video: "Hell No" - Your Right to Dissent

Michael Ratner: There is a North America-wide strategy to take away the right to mass protest

More at The Real News

Real News Video: Resistance and Austerity in Europe

Richard Wolff reports on the mass movements against austerity policies in Europe

More at The Real News

Justice and the struggle for Palestine

An Interview with Ali Abunimah

By Eric Ruder
The Socialist Worker

"The PA has a history of relying on the good will of the so-called “international community”–but the international community doesn’t have good will when it comes to enforcing Palestinian rights. So PA officials have essentially disempowered themselves as well as the popular movements, and now they again want to throw themselves on the mercy of a UN that has never acted to enforce its decisions when it comes to Palestine.

So yes–there are risks, and we don’t even know the full extent of them. This could be a very dangerous step....."

Video: آخر كلام: موقف القوى الإسلامية من جمعة 29 يوليو

The Return of the Neocons’ Prodigal Son

Anders Behring Breivik and the Axis of Hate

by Justin Raimondo, July 27, 2011

"Suggestions that the “counter-jihadist” ideology spread by such websites as, run by neocon David Horowitz, and the affiliated “Jihad Watch,” inspired – and provoked – the Norway killer Anders Behring Breivik have been met with cries of outrage by the neoconservative Right. This is hardly surprising: confronted with the sight of someone who put their hateful and inherently violent ideology into practice, what else are they supposed to do?....

Let American neocons try to scramble out of taking responsibility for their European offspring all they want, for all the good it will do them. The family resemblance is too strong to be denied.

And please don’t give me any guff about “guilt by association.” The neocons have been playing that game for years: indeed, they may have invented it. They can dish it out, but they sure can’t take it – well, isn’t that tough?

The neocons should embrace their Prodigal Son, who is at last returning home, and the proof of parentage is right there in front of our eyes: in Breivik’s by now very public utterances, of which we have probably not heard the last. I’m counting the moments until he starts quoting Robert Spencer at his trial."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Today's Cartoon by the Syrian Cartoonist Ali Ferzat

(Click on cartoon to see a close-up of Syrian "Reform.")

Real News Video: Abbasiya battle on July Revolution Day

Al-Masry Al-Youm: Abbasiya neighborhood was a witness to bloody confrontations between armed civilians and hundreds of protesters

More at The Real News

Glenn Greenwald: Norway Attacks Expose U.S. Media’s Double Standard on “Terrorism”

"Numerous news outlets and commentators initially blamed the attacks in Norway on Islamic militants. Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper, The Sun, ran a front-page headline that read, “Al Qaeda’ Massacre: Norway’s 9/11." In the United States, Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal also initially blamed "jihadists," reporting that, "Norway is targeted for being true to Western norms." Meanwhile, on the Washington Post’s website, Jennifer Rubin wrote, "This is a sobering reminder for those who think it’s too expensive to wage a war against jihadists." To discuss the media coverage of the attacks, we’re joined by Glenn Greenwald, constitutional law attorney and political and legal blogger who has written about the media coverage of the attacks in Norway for “When it became apparent that Muslims were not involved, and that in reality it was a right-wing nationalist with extremely anti-Muslim bigotry as part of his world view, the word ‘terrorism’ almost completely disappeared from established media discourse. Instead, he began to be referred to as a madman or an extremist,” says Greenwald. “It really underscores, for me, the fact that this word ‘terrorism’ that plays such a central role in our political discourse and our law really has no objective meaning. It comes to mean nothing more than ‘Muslims who engage in violence.’”....."

Fundamentalism Kills

By Chris Hedges

"The gravest threat we face from terrorism, as the killings in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik underscore, comes not from the Islamic world but the radical Christian right and the secular fundamentalists who propagate the bigoted, hateful caricatures of observant Muslims and those defined as our internal enemies. The caricature and fear are spread as diligently by the Christian right as they are by atheists such as Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. Our religious and secular fundamentalists all peddle the same racist filth and intolerance that infected Breivik. This filth has poisoned and degraded our civil discourse. The looming economic and environmental collapse will provide sparks and tinder to transform this coarse language of fundamentalist hatred into, I fear, the murderous rampages experienced by Norway. I worry more about the Anders Breiviks than the Mohammed Attas.....

There is no linear movement in history. Morality and ethics are static. Human nature does not change. Barbarism is part of the human condition and we can all succumb to its basest dimensions. This is the tragedy of history. Human will is morally ambiguous. The freedom to act as often results in the construction of new prisons and systems of repression as it does the safeguarding of universal human rights. The competing forces of love and of power define us, what Sigmund Freud termed Eros and Thanatos. Societies have, throughout history, ignored calls for altruism and mutuality in times of social upheaval and turmoil. They have wasted their freedom in the self-destructive urges that currently envelope us. These urges are very human and very dangerous. They are fired by utopian visions of inevitable human progress. When this progress stalls or is reversed, when the dreams of advancement and financial stability are thwarted, when a people confronts its own inevitable downward spiral, dark forces of vengeance and retribution are unleashed. Fundamentalists serve an evil that is unseen and unexamined. And the longer this evil is ignored the more dangerous and deadly it becomes. Those who seek through violence the Garden of Eden usher in the apocalypse. "

Egypt's Military Vows to Abide by New Constitution

By Emad Mekay

"...Both Tantawi and Al-Rewiny appear to want a more subdued transformation, with the military's privileges accrued under Mubarak maintained.

Al-Rewiny recently accused some protestors who have rallied for a faster pace of change of being foreign agents
, and claimed that they were working against the national interest of the country. He specifically mentioned the April 6 Group, which is made up of die- hard protesters who occasionally use anarchistic tactics, and said they were receiving foreign funding and training outside the country.

Tantawi, although he opposed corruption by businessmen and companies associated with Mubarak and criticised the country's fast privatisation programme even when serving under Mubarak, is widely seen as a man opposed to drastic changes in the country.

But both factions are dealing with rising impatience among Egyptians. Many ordinary Egyptians say they haven't yet felt the benefits of the revolution and that the military was moving too slowly towards democracy for a revolution of this size."

(General Hassan el-Roweini in Tahrir Square on 5 February, arrogantly talking to protesters and journalists, during his attempt to disperse the sit-in…
Courtesy of Hossam El-Hamalawy)

Egypt's generals, protesters moving to open clash

Associated Press

"CAIRO -- Egypt's ruling military and protesters seeking greater and faster change are moving into an outright collision, as the generals try to strip away public support for the movement while cozying up to the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood.

Youth activists are not backing down, betting that Egyptians' dissatisfaction with the military's running of the country will grow.

The generals, in power since the February ouster of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak, have launched an intensified media campaign against the protest activists, depicting them as a troublemaking minority and agents paid by foreign governments to grab power in an apparent attempt to turn the public against them. The message could have some appeal among Egyptians growing tired of continued unrest and fragile security.

At the same time, the military is cultivating ties with the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, which joined liberal and leftist youth in the 18-day uprising that toppled Mubarak but has since split with them on multiple issues. By cultivating the Brotherhood, the generals can take advantage of their large popular support base to counter the young protesters' influence....."

Boycotting fascism?

(In Jaffa, Palestinians and left-wing Jewish supporters protest government plans to demolish illegally-built Arab houses )
Policies that have frustrated Palestinians for years are now being applied to middle-class Israelis, too.

Mark LeVine

"During the last week angry young residents of Tel Aviv have been staging a sit-in, or, more accurately, a tent-in, along fashionable Rothschild Boulevard to protest their being priced out of the housing market in Israel's cultural and economic capital. The protests have drawn the attention of the Israeli and international media, with The Guardian even comparing the protesters to the pro-democracy revolutionaries in Egypt and other Arab countries.

The protests might be new, but the process against which the tent-dwellers are protesting has been going on in Tel Aviv, like other world cities, for at least two decades. But until recently, the main victims of high housing prices weren't young middle-class Israeli Jews no longer able to afford to live close to the cultural and economic action in Tel Aviv, but poor Palestinian residents of Jaffa who were being pushed out by gentrification and had nowhere else to go.....

The future of boycotts

Against this long-term level of institutionalised domination and discrimination, Palestinians have tried many means of resistance, none of which have proved very successful to date. In a recent column I have discussed some of the culturally-grounded, non-violent means of resistance that might achieve a measure of success against the power of the Israeli state.

As Yousef Munayyer points out in his recent op-ed, the new anti-boycott law has at least had the salutory effect of stimulating more interest in the boycott and larger BDS movement. He also points out, quite rightly, that since the occupation cannot exist without the massive support of the Israeli state, the whole premise of most of the movements against whom the law is intended - left-wing Israeli groups seeking to boycott settlement products or cultural/educational institutions - is deeply flawed, since only by taking on the entire apparatus of the Israeli state can a boycott movement hope to stop the occupation juggernaut.

The challenge confronting such a movement, however, is that ideologies sharing the DNA of fascism are genetically predisposed to believing that the world is against them and that their existence is constantly in peril from within and without. In the Israeli case, the more successful a boycott movement becomes, the more the Israeli state, with the support of a large share of the public, will feel justified in using any means at its disposal - from shooting unarmed protesters to launching massive propaganda campaigns - to fight back.

Moreover, its leaders and their foot-soldiers are becoming more willing to demonise and act against even members of the collective who challenge official ideology and policies. This is of course not unique to Israel today, nor to the authoritarian regimes of the Arab world, as William Cook's July 21 op-ed describing similarities between Israeli and American government subversions of freedom of expression makes clear.

Against such a powerful adversary, Palestinians and their supporters in the BDS movement will need to craft an extremely creative and persuasive set of arguments, and the strategies to spread them globally, in order to have a chance of overcoming the overwhelming advantages possessed by the Israeli government and its supporters. In my next column, I'll look at some of the key principles, strategies and tactics of the movement today and explore how their strengths and weaknesses bode for the near future of the struggle against the Occupation."

Egyptian protesters under fire - gallery

A gallery of images illustrates how a protest march towards army headquarters in Cairo ended in violence

Hossam el-Hamalawy
, Monday 25 July 2011

(9 photos)

Revolutions relayed by the minute – how Egyptians kept connected

The Arab Spring demonstrated the power of revolutionary politics, news organisations and social media – with the Guardian at the heart of events

Jack Shenker, Monday 25 July 2011

"Amid the tear gas, bullets and petrol bombs unleashed by the Mubarak regime as Egypt's discredited government tried desperately to cling to power, many pro-change protesters approached international journalists in the streets and asked simply: "Does the world know what's happening?".

Their fear – that the bravery of the Egyptian people in taking on a Western-backed dictatorship, the violence meted out to them by the state, and the hundreds of deaths which resulted might all go unreported in the global media – was understandable. At the height of the uprising virtually all communications were cut by the authorities as major cities descended into war-zones, leaving Egyptians isolated from even their own neighbours – never mind the rest of the planet.

But the world did know what was happening, thanks in no small part to the Guardian's unwavering commitment to the story despite the most challenging of circumstances. As the only British newspaper to have had a correspondent permanently based in Cairo in the years leading up to the revolution, the Guardian was in pole position to seek out the nuances of Egypt's seismic upheaval and its team of reporters on the ground – who suffered arrests, detainments and beatings for their efforts – covered every aspect of the revolt as it happened, through written pieces, photos, videos and live audio that was relayed to millions beyond the country's borders....."

Veteran activist's demands reflect new Syria

By Amnesty International
26 July 2011

"Two months ago, when prominent Syrian human rights lawyer Anwar al-Bunni finally stepped onto the streets of Damascus after completing a five year jail sentence, he walked out into a changed world.

On a personal level, the nightmare of his prison existence- a prisoner of conscience surrounded by convicted criminals and living in fear of attack by both inmates and guards - was finally over. But, more broadly, the popular protests that had erupted two months earlier meant that Syria itself had been transformed. He and other human rights defenders no longer felt alone.

In the past, only a few of us dared to call for freedom and human rights.” he told Amnesty International. “We used to feel isolated, as the majority of people avoided us out of fear of retribution from the authorities. After my release, I have realised that my demands became the demands of all the Syrian people.”...."

Amnesty International website ‘blocked in Saudi Arabia’

25 July 2011

"Access to Amnesty International’s website has been blocked in Saudi Arabia today following the organization’s criticism of a draft anti-terror law that would stifle peaceful protest in the kingdom.

Amnesty International published its analysis of a leaked copy of the draft law on Friday. The organization condemned the proposed law’s treatment of peaceful dissent as “terrorist crimes”, as well as the wide-ranging powers the Minister of Interior would hold, free from judicial authorization or oversight.

Several journalists and human rights activists based in Saudi Arabia independently confirmed that they were unable to access the website today.

“Instead of attacking those raising concerns and attempting to block debate, the Saudi Arabian government should amend the draft law to ensure that it does not muzzle dissent and deny basic rights,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director....."

Video: آخر كلام: شهادات ما جرى في العباسية 22 و 23 يوليو

Monday, July 25, 2011

Syrian "Parliament", by Ali Ferzat

When is Palestine's Arab Revolution?

Although Palestine seems absent from the Arab Spring, the unjust occupation was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Larbi Sadiki

"....The Palestine Corollary

The Palestinian cause dinted the credibility of Arab diplomacy, Arab war machines, Arab politicians, and above all else the whole post-colonial nation state system. They all met their Waterloo when Jerusalem fell in 1967, when Baghdad was sacked in March 2003, Beirut was pounded for 33 days in the summer of 2006, and when in December 2008-January 2009 Gaza was indiscriminately bombed.

All of these events happened either with Arab states' complicity, passivity, indifference, incompetence - or all of the above.

Passivity sank in when Palestine was turned into a type of soap opera - a series of dramas. Stone throwing, suicide bombing, Palestinian in-fighting, IDF incursions, targeted assassinations, kidnappings, etc. In one episode it is Dalal abu Aisha, in another, tragedy afflicts Ezzeddine Abu al Aish.

Whatever pride and esteem Arabs, especially the youth, had left was dissolved when a 350 million strong nation failed their fellow Arabs and (human beings) during Gaza's hour of need.

Even worse, some Arab businessmen were allegedly making sandwiches for the IDF. Not even civil disobedience was being organised as a symbolic way to say 'no' to the extreme injustice on behalf of fellow Arabs who were being showered with bombs and white phosphorous.....

Palestine until statehood, until peace

The explosion of the Arab revolution has raised not only Arab esteem, but also given some hope back to Gazans and to the Palestinian cause.

I was in Tunis the night news of Mubarak's ousting was received. Thousands danced and chanted for Palestine, pan-Arabism, and Arab revolution. The banners, the flags, the jubilation, the passion, the energy of youth said it all: A better Arab world - Palestine included.

But today, it is Palestinians who must deliver the 'revolution' which they have woven into their narratives.

They can do this first by uniting their own people. They do this by sweeping their own dictators into the proverbial bin of history. Only then is there hope for them to turn the tide against another 'dictatorship': colonial occupation - just as South Africans defeated apartheid in the not so distant past.

Esteem parity is warming Arab hearts, and warming Palestinians who have craved the solidarity of their fellow Arabs.

Israel's biggest success in the past decade has not been neutralising most of the world vis-á-vis Palestine. Rather, it is its success in the Arab corridors of power, turning dictators into enemies of a just cause, starving it of the oxygen of legitimate representation and solidarity in the Arab world.

A chapter is being turned by popular revolution in Arab history. Those unpacking the Arab Spring should not wish for the banners of Islamism or of Palestine absence. Rather, they should wish for Islamists to be engaging through democratic channels, and they should wish that Israel concedes Palestinians the right to be in an independent Palestine."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This brand new poll asks:

Do you support the protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo remaining there until their demands are met?

With about 200 responding (it is very early), 57% said yes.

Al-Qaeda's Christian mirror

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

""Al-Qaeda" - or the nebula of franchises and copycats commonly bundled as "al-Qaeda" - does not have the resources to attack Europe, and this is not the priority anyway; the priority is AfPak, Central Asia and India. But the priority of Christian fundamentalist terror is definitely Europe. And the attacks will come via loners such as Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik as well as organized groups....."

The Crusader

Anders Breivik as ideological blowback

by Justin Raimondo, July 25, 2011

"....It also appears as if Breivik has links to the English Defense League, a virulent gang of violent skinheads who target Muslims and have been gaining strength in the Clockwork Orange-y Britain of today. Financed by British businessman Alan Lake, the EDL has been endorsed by the American “counter-jihadists” grouped around “Stop the Islamization of America” and its European affiliate: Breivik’s agenda was eerily prefigured by Lake, who stated on Norwegian television that “such people should be executed,” referring to British Muslims and presumably others he considers “seditious.”

For years, neoconservatives have been telling us the decadent West is no match for the holy warriors of Islam, and what is needed is a revival of the Crusader spirit so that we can defeat our Eternal Enemy once and for all. We in the West must be put on a permanent war footing, they tell us, in order to put “an end to evil,” as two of them put it in a book title. Like the neocons, Breivik and the EDL are staunch supporters of Israel: the Israeli flag flies at EDL rallies, and the Jewish state comes in for undiluted praise in the Knights Templar manifesto.

Before Breivik was identified as the culprit, neocon columnist Jennifer Rubin rushed into print with an assessment by two of her fellow neocon “experts” – Gary Schmitt and Thomas Joscelyn – that this was the work of al-Qaeda, and concluded:

This is a sobering reminder for those who think it’s too expensive to wage a war against jihadists…. Some irresponsible lawmakers on both sides of the aisle…would have us believe that enormous defense cuts would not affect our national security. Obama would have us believe that al-Qaeda is almost caput and that we can wrap up things in Afghanistan. All of these are rationalizations for doing something very rash, namely curbing our ability to defend the United States and our allies in a very dangerous world.”

Well, it is a sobering reminder, but not in the way Rubin intended: it’s a reminder that ideas have consequences. It’s not surprising someone took neoconservative propaganda seriously enough to go the terrorist route: Breivik is merely carrying out the program advocated by the David Horowitz’s, the Robert Spencers, the Pam Gellers of this sad and sorry world. The one difference is that Breivik and his fellow Knights are taking direct action, without bothering to employ the agency of government."