Saturday, November 19, 2011

Deaths as Egypt police clash with protesters

Cairo protests spread to cities of Alexandria, Aswan and Suez, leaving at least two demonstrators dead.


"Thousands of police have clashed with demonstrators for control of downtown Cairo's Tahrir Square, leaving at least one protester dead and 676 others injured, health officials said.....

In scenes reminiscent of the 18-day uprising, protesters and police forces hurled rocks at each other, and crowds swarmed an armored police truck, rocking it and setting it ablaze.

Security officials said that protesters were rallying outside security agency headquarters in the port city of Alexandria as well as the cities of Aswan in the south and Suez on the Red Sea.

Media reports said at least one protester was killed in Alexandria...."

Al-Jazeera Video: Eyewitness speaks to Al Jazeera from Alexandria

"Mhinor el Masry, an eye witness and activist from Alexandria told Al Jazeera: "Security used tear gas to disperse protesters and many have been shot by rubber bullets in their legs and shoulders." "

Homs: inside the city at the heart of Syria's rebellion

A world of guarded conversations and shadowy rumours amid the funereal silence of a military lockdown

James Harkin in Homs, Saturday 19 November 2011

".....Homs has been in more or less open revolt since at least April, but in recent weeks what is going on here has acquired ominous new significance. Facing the full force of a crackdown on their demonstrations by the Syrian army and police, at least some of the city's residents have taken up arms, either to defend themselves and their communities or to go on the attack.

Outside Syria and in the international media, the siege has become a cause célèbre. But events here show not only the courage and the forbearance of its citizens, but also the traps that lie in wait for an unhappy people suppressed by a brutal military crackdown....."

Egypt: violent clashes in Cairo leave hundreds injured

Egyptian security forces open fire on thousands of anti-junta protesters in Tahrir Square, leaving more than 500 injured

Jack Shenker in Cairo, Saturday 19 November 2011

"Egypt has been hit by another wave of major violence ahead of parliamentary elections after security forces opened fire on thousands of protesters demonstrating against the military junta.

More than 500 people were reported injured in central Cairo after riot police sent volleys of tear gas, rubber bullets and "birdshot" pellet cartridges into the crowds. The clashes put further pressure on the ruling generals and cast doubt on the ability of police to secure the poll, scheduled to begin on 28 November.

"All options are on the table, but right now – given the state Egypt is in – nobody can see how the military council can pull off these elections," said Mahmoud Salem, a prominent blogger who is running for parliament but who has now frozen his campaign. "I'm at the international eye hospital at the moment with my friend Malek Mustafa, who has been shot in the head by police with a pellet cartridge and looks likely to lose his eye. How can I continue?"....

Many expressed scepticism about the elections, saying they were designed to entrench military control over the country, but most insisted they still wanted the vote to go ahead. "The generals want to rule Egypt, but this is our revolution," said Ahmed Mohamed, a 24-year-old accountant. "Look around you – you don't see different political parties or rival candidates, you just see the Egyptian people. People have come down from their homes to join the fight; we are battling the remnants of Mubarak's regime who remain in power at the moment, and both this and the elections are all part of that same process."

Solidarity rallies also erupted in the large cities of Alexandria and Suez......"

Al-Jazeera Video: Clashes erupt in Tahrir Square ahead of elections

Nov19 VIDEOS – Tahrir Intifada إنتفاضة التحرير

فض اعتصام التحرير 19 اغسطس وعنف الداخلية

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Syria's civil war?

Video: The Arrest of Saif Gaddafi ثوار الزنتان يعلنون إلقاء القبض على سيف الإسلام القذافي

فيديو: اعتقال سيف الاسلام القذافي

Iran and the I.A.E.A.

Posted by Seymour M. Hersh
The New Yorker

It is possible, of course, that Iran has simply circumvented the reconnaissance efforts of America and the I.A.E.A., perhaps even building Dick Cheney’s nightmare: a hidden underground nuclear-weapons fabrication facility. Iran’s track record with the I.A.E.A. has been far from good: its leadership began construction of its initial uranium facilities in the nineteen-eighties without informing the Agency, in violation of the nonproliferation treaty. Over the next decade and a half, under prodding from ElBaradei and the West, the Iranians began acknowledging their deceit and opened their enrichment facilities, and their records, to I.A.E.A. inspectors.

The new report, therefore, leaves us where we’ve been since 2002, when George Bush declared Iran to be a member of the Axis of Evil—with lots of belligerent talk but no definitive evidence of a nuclear-weapons program."

The Syria Game of Thrones: Turkey vs. Iran vs. the Saudis in Battle to Shape a Rebellion's Outcome

By Tony Karon

"The Arab League called Wednesday for "urgent measures" to protect Syrian civilians in the face of violent repression by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. But lest anyone take that as an echo of the call that legitimized the NATO-led military operation in Libya, the League's statement also rejected "all foreign intervention" in Syria. Still, signs are growing that Syria's escalating power struggle is more likely to be be settled by outside forces than by the Syrians themselves.

Through more than nine months of escalating repression that has killed as many as 3,500 people, the regime has not been able to suppress the uprising. Weekly protests continue; the scale of regime assaults on the city of Homs suggests it remains an opposition stronghold; and a dramatic series of overnight attacks Wednesday by soldiers who've crossed over to the insurgent Free Syrian Army -- including a brazen guerrilla assault on a Syrian intelligence base on the edge of Damascus -- suggested that civil war is already a reality......"

Friday, November 18, 2011

Kissinger: ‘Is there a more self-serving group of people than the Jewish community?’

by Adam Horowitz (Mondoweiss) on November 18, 2011
Henry Kissinger and Golda Meir. (Photo: Univ. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)

It seems the Israel lobby has not always been held in such high esteem within the White House. The AP reports on newly released documents regarding lobbying in the early 1970s on the plight of Jews in the Soviet Union:

A White House official, Leonard Garment, saying he was flooded with letters and phone calls with Jewish appeals, asked Kissinger for help and guidance. The late Alexander Haig, Nixon's national security adviser, sent him Mrs. Meir's letter and said "We will have to consider the best means by which to proceed."

According to transcripts released by the State Department, Kissinger, who was Haig's deputy, said to Garment: "Is there a more self-serving group of people than the Jewish community?" Kissinger is Jewish.

Garment, also Jewish, replied: "None in the world."

Turkey, Jordan to set up safe zones in Syria: diplomats

November 18, 2011 04:59 AM
The Daily Star

"BEIRUT: Turkey and Jordan, backed by Western and Arab powers, are preparing to set up two "safe zones" for civilians inside Syria, diplomats said Friday.

The Western and Arab diplomats told The Daily Star that Syria's two neighbors would press ahead with preparations to establish the two havens if President Bashar Assad did not sign on to an Arab plan aimed at ending a bloody crackdown on anti-regime protesters by Saturday.

The diplomats said an international meeting in Paris would discuss later Friday the details of the plans to set up the zones in southern and northern Syria.

On Wednesday, the Arab League gave Assad three days to agree in writing to allowing hundreds of observers into Syria to oversee the implementation of the Arab plan to end eight months of violence against protesters that has killed more than 3,000 people.

Representatives of the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt and Jordan will meet to coordinate a response to Assad's possible refusal to sign on to the deal, the diplomats said.

On top of the agenda is agreeing for NATO member Turkey to establish a safe haven in northern Syria and for U.S.-ally Jordan to set up a similar zone in southern Syria.....

In the absence of the possibility of Security Council action, Friday's meeting in Paris was the best way to provide an international umbrella for these measures, one diplomat said. The Arab League is also expected to propose economic sanctions on Damascus next week, he said.....

The diplomats also reported that Assad appeared to be growing increasingly nervous over his safety with some reports suggesting he feared being targeted by an air strike. There were also reports of discontent among his inner circle and some Syrian diplomats abroad, though no signs of that have been visible......"

عام 2010: 16 ألف رجل أعمال فلسطيني استثمروا 2.5 مليار دولار داخل إسرائيل والمستوطنات


How Palestinian Businessmen Are Selling Palestine And Making a Buck!!

"كشفت دراسة أكاديمية أعدها باحث فلسطيني، أن حجم استثمار رجال أعمال فلسطينيين في إسرائيل والمستوطنات، بلغ خلال عام 2010، 2.5 مليار دولار، وذلك وفقا لحسابات حذرة، فيما تشير حسابات أقل حذرا، أن استثماراتهم في إسرائيل تبلغ 5.8 مليار دولار، بينما تبلغ استثماراتهم في الضفة الغربية 1.58 مليار فقط.

وقالت صحيفة "هآرتس" الإسرائيلية، اليوم الجمعة، والتي نشرت الدراسة، أن عيسى سميرات من مدينة بيت لحم (43 عاما)، توصل إلى هذه النتائج في إطار دراسته للحصول على درجة الماجستير، والتي تعتبر الأولى من نوعها؛ ووفقا لتقديرات سميرات، فإنه لو استثمرت هذه المبالغ في الضفة الغربية، لأدت إلى إضافة 213 ألف مكان عمل للفلسطينيين.

وفوجئ سياسيون فلسطينيون لدى سماعهم بنتائج هذه الدراسة، وقالوا لصحيفة "هآرتس" إن حجم هذه الظاهرة مذهل.

وحسب السجلات التي حصل عليه سميرات، فإن 16 ألف رجل أعمال فلسطيني من الضفة الغربية، من الحاصلين على تصاريح دخول دائمة إلى إسرائيل، أسسوا في إسرائيل وفي المناطق الصناعية التابعة المستوطنات، شركات ومصانع في فروع مختلفة، يدفعون ضرائبها لوزارة مالية إسرائيل.

وفحص سميرات دوافع قرار الاستثمار في إسرائيل، الذي يعتبر من ناحية سياسية حساسا جدا، لا سيما في السنوات الأخيرة، حيث تتعاظم الدعوات لمقاطعة إسرائيل أو منتجات مستوطناتها غير القانونية.

[Beyond Treason!]وزارة الاقتصاد الوطني الفلسطينية: اتفاق باريس لا يحظر الاستثمار في إسرائيل والمستوطنات

وبسبب الحساسية، فإنه تمنع عن الإشارة إلى المستثمرين باسمائهم أو تسليم تفاصيل تشير إلى هويتهم؛ وفي حديث مع "هآرتس"، قال إنه في أعقاب بحثه، أوضحت وزارة الاقتصاد الوطني في السلطة، التي وقفت على رأس مقاطعة منتجات المستوطنات، بأن اتفاق باريس لا يحظر الاستثمار في إسرائيل وفي المستوطنات.

وأوضحت "هآرتس" أن دراسة سميرات طرحت نهاية الصيف الماضي في جامعة القدس في أبوديس، وقد حصل سميرات من الغرف التجارية والصناعية الفلسطينية، على معلومات أساسية عن المستثمرين في إسرائيل، اتصل بـ 540 منهم بشكل مباشر، ووزع استبيانات مفصلة على 420، أجابهم عليها 374 مستثمرا، كما قام بمقابلات شخصية مع 120 آخرين

This is an English version:

Study: “Palestinian Businessmen Invested $2.5 B. In Settlements, Israel, In 2010”

"An academic study conducted by a Palestinian researcher from the West Bank city of Bethlehem, revealed that the amount of investments by Palestinian businessmen men, in Israeli settlements, and in Israel itself, in 2010, mounts to $2.5 Billion.....

According to the study, 16.000 Palestinian businessmen from the West Bank, who hold permanent permits from Israel to enter the country and conduct businesses, established businesses and firms in Israel and its settlements in the occupied territories. This includes establishing several factories and companies that has numerous branches, all paying taxes to Israel.

Smeirat also studied the motives that pushed those Palestinian investors to invest in Israel and its illegal settlements, especially since the issue is very sensitive and more Palestinian organizations, activists and officials are calling for boycotting Israel and its settlement products.....

Talking to Haaretz, the researcher said that the sensitivity of this issue prevents the publishing of the identities of the investors, adding that while conducting his research, the Palestinian National Economy Ministry in the West Bank, the same ministry that launched the campaign to boycott settlement products, stated that the Paris Agreement does not prohibit investing in settlements....

One-fifth of the investors stated that their businesses are in Israel, Israeli settlements, the West Bank and abroad, while another one-fifth said that their investments are only in Israel and its settlements.

Approximately %90 of them said that their first ever experience in investments was conducted in Israel.

The researcher said that he believes that the main motive that encourages Palestinian investors to invest in Israel and its settlements is attributed to the limited capacity of Palestinian investments.....

The capital of 16.000 Palestinian investors in the Palestinian Authority areas are distributed as the following; 3300 investors in Hebron, 3100 in Ramallah, 3000 in Nablus, 2000 in Bethlehem, and 1000 in Nablus......"

[Tfuh on such scum who call themselves Palestinians!]

Egyptians return to Tahrir Square to protest against military junta

Thousands gather for one of the largest demonstrations since Hosni Mubarak was ousted and new rulers took over

Jack Shenker in Cairo, Friday 18 November 2011

"Tens of thousands of Egyptians have returned to Tahrir Square to protest against the military junta, in one of the biggest protests seen in the country since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak.

Although there have been scattered demonstrations against the ruling generals in recent months, Friday's rally was the largest and most explicit display of public opposition to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) since it took power in February this year.

Reprising many of the slogans that dominated the anti-Mubarak uprising, protesters chanted: "The people want the downfall of the field marshal [referring to the Scaf head, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi]" and "We're not leaving, he is leaving."

The protest brought together Egyptians from across the political spectrum, 10 days before nationwide parliamentary elections get under way. Some liberal parties decided to boycott the rally and criticised the prevalence of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi groups in the square.....

"Ten months on [from the original anti-Mubarak rallies in Tahrir] I didn't expect to be here again, but the military has broken its promises," Farag said. "At present the new parliament looks set to be comic or tragic … there is a continuous harassment of the Egyptian people by the military government and it has to stop."....."

Egypt's young radicals battle to reclaim the revolution

In post-Mubarak Egypt an alliance against repression struggles to be heard in the run-up to elections

Jack Shenker in Cairo, Friday 18 November 2011

"......Egypt's resistance to the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak originated in the determined actions of a small group of people, largely young, radical and hungry for a different future. Many of them assumed they would play a big role in building a new Egypt once the ancien régime was toppled.

The reality, as Fayed discovered, has been very different – and thousands of Egyptians returned to Tahrir Square on Friday to push the military council into ceding power.

"When Mubarak fell I was the happiest person in the world because we were waking up from a nightmare," Fayed, a nurse, said. "Now, it's as if he never really left at all, everything is jumbled and wrong. Conservative forces have seized control of the story and made people afraid, and as a result we are fighting a massive counter-revolution."....."

Occupy Wall Street Draws Massive Turnout in NYC and Across the Nation to Mark 2-Month Milestone

Democracy Now!

"The Occupy Wall Street movement entered its third month Thursday with protests against the economic system in dozens of cities across the country. Reports estimated some 300 people were arrested nationwide, with the majority of the arrests taking place in New York City when protesters attempted to shut down the New York Stock Exchange. "We effectively shut down Wall Street this morning. We did it with our stories, with our bodies, with our hearts," says one of the organizers of the action. Democracy Now! reporter Ryan Devereaux filed this report....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrians protest on "expel the ambassadors" Friday

"Fresh protests have taken place across Syria calling on nations to expel Syrian ambassadors from their countries.

Activists said that security forces opened fire on demonstrators killing at least15 people.

The latest violence came as the Syria government has agreed 'in principle' to allow observers into the country.

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra reports."

حل السلطة الفلسطينية


By Abdel-Sattar Qassem

"الأساس المتموج للسلطة الفلسطينيةتوريط الفلسطينيينعودة الإدارة الإسرائيليةبديل حل السلطة
تثور بين الحين والآخر فكرة حل السلطة الفلسطينية، ويبدأ الناس عموما والمثقفون خصوصا بتناولها جدلا ونقاشا بين مؤيد ومعارض وغير مكترث. ولا يخلو الأمر من مسؤولين فلسطينيين يدلون بدلوهم، ولا من فصائل فلسطينية تعبر عن موقفها حيال الأمر. تثور الفكرة على مدى سنوات، لكن السلطة ما زالت مكانها، والأسباب التي تدفع باتجاه حلها ما زالت على ما هي عليه.

لم تتغير الأحوال الفلسطينية، ولم يحصل أي تقدم فيما يتعلق بالحقوق الوطنية للشعب الفلسطيني، ويبدو أن الجسد الفلسطيني برمته يعاني من حراك ضعيف جدا، والعقل الفلسطيني لا يقوى على الإحاطة بما هو كائن بشأن القضية الفلسطينية، ولا بشأن ما يجب أن يكون.

إذا أحسن المراقب الظن، هناك تيه فلسطيني، وضعف في الإحساس بالمسؤولية، ورغبة متدنية في البحث عن مخارج. تعاني القضية الفلسطينية والشعب الفلسطيني من مآزق سياسية واجتماعية واقتصادية وثقافية ومالية كبيرة وخطيرة، ولا يلوح في الأفق أن مخارج صادرة عن إرادة فلسطينية حرة على وشك الانبلاج. ويبدو أن حل السلطة الفلسطينية هو أقوى خيار يناقشه الفلسطينيون، إن لم يكن حقيقة باب الهروب من واقع مؤلم. يحاول هذا المقال تحليل هذا الطرح، وتقديم رؤية لما يمكن أن يكون عليه المخرج


بديل السلطة هو إنشاء هيئة وطنية من مهنيين وطنيين مستقلين لا علاقة لهم بدول أو تنظيمات فلسطينية، تقوم على إدارة شؤون الناس اليومية والمدنية، وبإمكان الفصائل الفلسطينية التعاون على تشكيل هذه الهيئة


Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Is Egypt's constitution being hijacked?

"Can the upcoming elections be fair and clean amid increasing political controversy and uncertainty over security? Inside Story, together with presenter James Bays, discusses with guests: Fouad Abustait, a professor of economics and finance at Helwan University in Cairo; Andrea Teti, a lecturer in international relations at the University of Aberdeen; and Samir Shehata, an assistant professor of Arab Politics at Georgetown University."

Real News Video: Does the IAEA report on Iran prove the existence of a nuclear weapons program?

Beeman and Spector: Does the IAEA report on Iran prove the existence of a nuclear weapons program?

More at The Real News

The Arab Spring has given Turkey a voice. Don't mess with it

Turkey is angry over the Syrian failure to apologise for an attack on the Turkish embassy

By Robert Fisk

"The French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé was here "to talk about Syria". Turkey's Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, pontificated that "perhaps because Syria has not enough petroleum, there has been less interest in the West in the killing of Syrian civilians" – probably true – while every Turkish newspaper has been speculating about the Turks' future plans for action in Syria. A Turkish military cordon sanitaire inside the border with Syria seems to be the favourite.....

Since the official Syrian news agency Sana itself announced that the Arab League wanted to send observers to Syria, one can assume that Mr Moallem – which in this case means President Assad – has approved their arrival. But 500 of them? And how much freedom will they be given? And will they try to visit opposition figures inside Syria and – more to the point – find out exactly who these mysterious but real and armed insurgents are?"

Arab revolts - past and present

Arabs have historically revolted every decade against rulers and the west has counter-revolted most attempts.


Joseph Massad

The Palestinians

This brings us to the Palestinian scene. The Palestinian uprising or intifada of 1987 was the first unarmed massive civilian revolt to take place in decades. It was in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union and the first US invasion of the Gulf that the United States decided to co-opt the Palestinian uprising by giving political and financial benefits to a PLO class of bureaucrats who would proceed to sell out the Palestinian struggle. Thus Arafat neutralised the uprising at Oslo in 1993 and went on to wine and dine with Israel's and America's leaders while his people remained under occupation.

But If the Palestinians were a source of concern to the Arab regimes after 1968 lest they help other Arabs revolt against their dictatorships, today, it is the Palestinian Authority (PA) that is worried that the Arab uprisings may influence West Bank Palestinians to revolt against the PA, which continues its intensive security collaboration with the Israeli occupation and its US sponsor. Indeed, while the Israelis failed in the late 1970s in their effort to create a political body of Palestinian collaborators through their infamous Village Leagues, the PA became, not the new "Urban Leagues" that many Palestinians dubbed it, but a veritable National League of collaborators serving the Israeli occupation. The PA's recent bid for statehood and recognition at the UN and at UNESCO is an attempt to resolve the current stasis of its non-existent "peace process" and the dogged negotiations with the Israelis before the Palestinians revolt against it, especially given the dwindling dividends to the beneficiaries of the Oslo arrangement.

The PA indeed has two routes before it in the face of the collapse of the so-called "peace process": dissolve itself and cease to play the role of enforcer of the occupation; or continue to collaborate by entrenching itself further through recognition by international institutions to preserve its power and the benefits to its members. It has chosen the second option under the guise of supporting Palestinian national independence. How successful it is going to be in its entrenchment bid remains to be seen, though its success or failure will be calamitous for the Palestinian people who will not get any independence from Israeli settler colonialism as long as the PA is at the helm.

As I have argued before, the Israeli-PA-US disagreement is about the terms and territorial size of the disconnected Bantustans that the PA will be given and the nature and amount of repressive power and weapons its police force would have to use against the Palestinian people, while ascertaining that such weapons would never have a chance of being used against Israel. If Israel shows some flexibility on those, then the disconnected Bantustans will be quickly recognised as a "sovereign Palestinian state" and not a single illegal Jewish colonial settler will have to give up the stolen lands of the Palestinians and return to Brooklyn, to name a common place of origin for many Jewish colonial settlers. It is this arrangement that the PA is trying to sell to Israel and the US. Without it, the PA is threatening that West Bankers may very well revolt against it, which would be bad for Israel and the US. So far, neither the US nor Israel is buying it.

The Struggle Continues

As for the larger Arab context, those who call what has unfolded in the last year in the Arab World as an Arab "awakening" are not only ignorant of the history of the last century, but also deploy Orientalist arguments in their depiction of Arabs as a quiescent people who put up with dictatorship for decades and are finally waking up from their torpor. Across the Arab world, Arabs have revolted against colonial and local tyranny every decade since World War I. It has been the European colonial powers and their American heir who have stood in their way every step of the way and allied themselves with local dictators and their families (and in many cases handpicking such dictators and putting them on the throne).

The US-European sponsorship of the on-going counterrevolutions across the Arab world today is a continuation of a time-honoured imperial tradition, but so is continued Arab resistance to imperialism and domestic tyranny. The uprisings that started in Tunisia in December 2010 continue afoot despite major setbacks to all of them. This is not to say that things have not changed and are not changing significantly, it is to say, however, that many of the changes are reversible and that the counterrevolution has already reversed a significant amount and is working hard to reverse more. Vigilance is mandatory on the part of those struggling for democratic change and social justice, especially in these times of upheaval and massive imperial mobilisation. Some of the battles may have been lost but the Arab peoples' war against imperialism and for democracy and social justice continues across the Arab world."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

مآلات الثورة السورية

مقدم الحلقة: علي الظفيري

ضيفا الحلقة:
- وائل مرزا/ أمين سر المجلس الوطني السوري
- ميشيل كيلو/ كاتب ومعارض سوري

Surprise, Surprise! The Drill Team Leader Supports The Bloody Rabbit!

الصدر مع ثوار سوريا ومع بقاء الأسد

"أبدى رجل الدين الشيعي في العراق مقتدى الصدر تأييده لقضية "الثوار" المعارضين للنظام السوري، ولكنه دعاهم إلى الإبقاء على الرئيس بشار الأسد انطلاقا مما يصفه بمعارضة الأسد للوجود الأميركي والإسرائيلي في المنطقة.

وقال الصدر في رسالة ووجهها إلى "الثوار في سوريا الحبيبة، كونوا على يقين بأني مؤمن كل الإيمان بقضيتكم"، ولكنه أشار إلى أن ثمة فارقا بين ما يحدث في سوريا و"الثورات العظيمة في تونس ومصر وليبيا والبحرين واليمن".

وأوضح أن الفارق يكمن في معارضة بشار الأسد للوجود الأميركي والإسرائيلي وفي "مواقفه الواضحة"، خلافا لمن سقط قبله أو سيسقط، حسب تعبيره

Iraq's Sadr backs embattled Syrian leader Assad

"Iraq's radical anti-US Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has expressed support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, even as much of the Arab world turns against the embattled strongman.

Assad has since March been trying to crush a popular uprising against his government, in which over 3,500 people have been killed, according to UN figures.....

But there is "a big difference" between what is happening in Syria and the "great revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and Yemen," Sadr said in a statement received by AFP on Thursday, referring to other Arab states that have seen popular uprisings this year.

"One of the reasons behind this difference is that Bashar al-Assad is against the American and Israeli presence and his attitudes are clear, not like those who collapsed before him, or will collapse," said the statement released by his office in the city of Najaf, reiterating points Sadr made in August....."

Occupy Wall Street’s National Day of Action Launches with Protest at NY Stock Exchange

Democracy Now!

"Today is a national day of action to mark the start of the third month of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Here in New York, organizers have been distributing posters reading "Shut Down Wall Street! Occupy the Subways! Take the Square!" As we broadcast, protesters were marching in various parts of the Financial District in an attempt to block the New York Stock Exchange from opening at 9:30 a.m. Labor organizers are planning protests at dozens of bridges across the country today as part of a campaign to highlight the need for increased spending on the nation’s infrastructure. In Portland, protesters are planning to occupy the Steel Bridge. In Seattle, an action will target the Montlake Bridge. In Washington, D.C., protesters will march on the Key Bridge. In New York, a 5 p.m. action is set at the Brooklyn Bridge. The protests come just two days after New York police raided Occupy Wall Street at Liberty Plaza and destroyed the encampment. Protesters have been allowed to return to the park, but without sleeping bags, tents or musical instruments. Democracy Now!'s Ryan Devereaux reports live from Wall Street, where protesters, with help from New York police, blockaded all streets leading to the Stock Exchange. "The plan is for sort of a three-pronged blitz on the Financial District, marches coming from all different directions, and trying to basically swarm the area with people," Devereaux says. "The NYPD's response has been equally robust. There are police vehicles, officers and barricades on every single street."...."

Menu for Today’s Tricky Planet: Use Your Head


"We live in an enigmatic age, far more complex as the years go by and certainly since the disappearance of the Soviet Union in 1991. With the failure of so many reformers avoidance of cynicism about all causes is now an overwhelming challenge. In a sense, it is the refusal to abandon the future to a seemingly inexorable and dismal fate that alone justifies trying to change the world as it is, but we must be aware of past failures and the reasons for them. All this is a starting point.

The first and most important consideration is that the world’s status quo is heading toward disasters — political and military, ecological, and economic. Violence both between and within countries and ethnic groups is more and more common. A handful of dominant nations — the United States being the preeminent — control the world’s future to a large degree, but they are scarcely alone.....

The United States had pretensions after 1945 to be able to dictate the future of global affairs, both political and economic. And for a time Europe’s weakness made it inordinately influential. The United Nations system, which President Franklin Roosevelt made certain would be based in New York as a kind of legacy he left to the state of which he had once been governor as well as a reflection of U.S. supremacy, conformed to America’s desires — especially the Security Council and its veto proviso. But although its overweening military power and the activities of its intelligence services produced victories for it in the Philippines and Iran (at least temporarily), to name but a couple, it lost or stalemated its major wars in Korea and Vietnam, virtually bankrupted itself in the process of seeking its hegemonic goals and today some elements in American ruling circles are beginning to be worried by the limits on American power and the extent to which it has overextended itself economically and militarily.....

To reiterate the point I made in the opening, the world has become increasingly complex and simplistic notions and pabulums, which were tried for many decades, have failed. With these admonitions, we have no choices but to continue trying changing a world that is becoming more dangerous every year and shows not the slightest sign of reforming itself. Our success or failure will determine whether mankind attains a modicum of peace and stability or whether it continues to go down the dismal road to more conflict and chaos."

Real News Video: Palestinian "Freedom Riders" Challenge Segregation

Drawing a comparison to American civil rights fighters, Palestinian activists boarded Israeli settler buses in the West Bank.

More at The Real News

Real News Video: IAEA Iran Report Fit Facts to Strengthen Hardliners

Robert Kelley Pt2: The report misleads and manipulates facts in attempt to prove a forgone conclusion

More at The Real News

Poland’s growing Palestine movement faces anti-Semitism smears

Ewa Jasiewicz
The Electronic Intifada

16 November 2011

"Despite attacks and slander, the Palestine solidarity movement in Poland is pushing ahead and is able to influence media coverage and popular education on Palestine....."

ADL promotes conspiracy theories to undermine support for Palestine at Occupy Wall Street

By Ali Abunimah

"The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the influential pro-Israel lobby group headed by Abraham Foxman, is in a panic about support for Palestinian rights at Occupy Wall Street protests across the United States.

Seeking to delegitimize US popular solidarity with Palestinians suffering under US-financed Israeli occupation, apartheid and brutal violence, the ADL charged in a release on its website that, “Anti-Israel Groups Attempt to Co-Opt Occupy Wall Street Message.”.....

Spreading conspiracy theories

The ADL then goes on to list a whole range of Palestine solidarity actions at various Occupy protests around the country by groups as diverse as Adalah-NY, Jewish Voices for Peace, Jewish Women for Justice in Palestine, and Students for Justice in Palestine.

Foxman’s group cannot see Palestinians and their supporters as legitimate members of American society who might share the same concerns as other Americans. Nor can it respect or recognize that any support for Palestinian rights and opposition to Israeli crimes could be genuine......

ADL promoting hate reminiscent of anti-Semitic attacks on Jews

ADL’s effort to ghettoize Palestinians and their supporters and declare them beyond the pale of American political life and activism are painfully reminiscent of attempts in America’s past to keep Jews out of public life and to villify them as subversives, anarchists and communists.

It is not surprising that the ADL has reacted this way given that Foxman has a long history of promoting Islamophobia....."

Déjà Vu All Over Again: Plea to the West: Syria needs Libya-style intervention

Arab diplomat's call comes as Syrian army defectors attack military base

By Patrick Cockburn

"As violence in Syria intensifies with an attack by anti-government forces on an air defence intelligence complex near Damascus, a senior Arab diplomat in London says Middle Eastern states opposing the Syrian government need West European leadership similar to that seen in the Libyan war.[Red Flag Warning: The Counter Revolution Wants to Hijack The Syrian Uprising!]

He said that what was needed was "a team captain" to co-ordinate moves to put pressure on Syria, and only the Europeans could do this. The US is preoccupied by domestic politics and "in the Middle East everybody is driven by ego. How can you have a regional policy when they [local rulers] can't talk to each other?"

The diplomat added that a crucial turning point would come in Syria if the anti-government forces succeeded in establishing an independent enclave like Benghazi in Libya. He thought this was more likely to happen in the north on the Turkish border rather than around Deraa, north of the Jordanian frontier, where the protests began. The existence of such an enclave would raise the possibility of setting up a no-fly zone......"

Guardian Video: Protesters storm Kuwait parliament

Dozens of Kuwaitis briefly stormed Kuwait's parliament building late at night, as hundreds more demonstrated outside, demanding that the prime minister Sheikh Nasser Al Mohammad Al Sabah step down. The protesters who forced their way into the debating chamber included some opposition lawmakers who have been among hundreds of people protesting outside parliament every week to demanding the removal of Sheikh Nasser, whom they accuse of corruption, Thursday 17 November 2011

Free Syrian Army grows in influence

Al Jazeera talks to FSA commanders, rights activists and Syrian people about structure and role of anti-Assad army.

Basma Atassi

"The attack by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) on an air force intelligence base in the suburbs of the capital Damascus on November 16 has raised the profile of the band of army deserters, who are seeking to end President Bashar al-Assad’s long rule.

Depending on whom you believe, the group is believed to number between 1,000 and 25,000.

What is certain though, is that the deserters want to bring the Syrian government to its knees - by targeting its biggest strength, its 500,000-strong army.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Colonel Ammar al-Wawi, the commander of the FSA’s Ababeel battalion, said: "Our only goal is to liberate Syria from Bashar Assad's regime.

"To put it simply, we carry out military operations against anyone who targets the peaceful protesters."....

While anti-Assad Syrians agree that their uprising, which started in March, must continue until the current government is toppled, they do not necessarily agree on the role of the FSA in it.....

The main opposition bloc, the Syrian National Council (SNC), has tried to maintain a middle-ground.

They voiced their sympathy with deserters and acknowledged their "legitimate role of protecting unarmed protesters," but they also said that they did not support the FSA's offensives.

"We must maintain the peaceful nature of the Syrian revolution and we are in continuous dialogue with the FSA to co-ordinate our political stance," Bassma Kodmani, the spokeswoman of the SNC, told Al Jazeera.

However, it remains to be seen how much influence could the SNC exert on the FSA.

Wawi told Al Jazeera: "Those who count on peaceful means only to overthrow the regime are delusional.""

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you support the demand of Yemeni demonstrators that Yemen should be suspended from the Arab League?

With about 300 responding (it is early), 89% said yes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Al-Jazeera Video: Protesters storm Kuwaiti parliament

Guardian Video: Syrian army defectors say they will protect civilians

Amateur video on the internet purports to show Syrian army defectors saying they will try to protect civilians. They have recently attacked a string of military bases near Damascus, including an intelligence complex on the outskirts of the capital, in the first such reported assault on a major security facility in the eight-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, Wednesday 16 November 2011

Al-Jazeera Video: Violence continues despite Arab League condemnation

فيديو: عبارة "الأسد كذّاب" تحوّل استوديو الـ إم. تي. في إلى ساحة معركة


"تحولت شاشة إحدى القنوات اللبنانية إلى حلبة صراع وشتائم بين عضو المكتب السياسي والنائب السابق عن تيار المستقبل مصطفى علوش من جهة والأمين القطري لحزب البعث السوري في لبنان فايز شكر من جهة أخرى، على خلفية الأحداث السورية في صورة تعكس احتدام الوضع والتوتر السائد في الساحة اللبنانية المنقسمة في رؤيتها للوضع السوري الحالي.

وكان علوش وشكر حلا ضيفين منذ أيام على برنامج للإعلامي وليد عبود، على شاشة" ام تي في" اللبنانية، حيث تبادلا الشتائم بعد أن وصف علوش الرئيس بشار الأسد بالكذاب، ما أثار أمين عام البعث لتبدأ عملية تبادل السباب والتضارب بالأيدي ومن ثم الكراسي، ولتكر سبحة الشتائم التي وصلت إلى حد تبادل العبارات البذيئة وذلك على الهواء مباشرة.

وتسبب تبادل الشتائم والتضارب بالأيدي بين ضيفين في البرامج الحواري في دفع القناة إلى توقف بث البرنامج لمدة امتدت إلى 20 دقيقة تقريبا، إلى أن أعيد الهدوء واستكملت الحلقة من جديد

Turkey has a key role in Syria – now and in the future

The Arab League's suspension of Syria has outraged Assad, but it is Ankara's hardline stance that may yet prove decisive

Simon Tisdall, Wednesday 16 November 2011

"....Fears that a Syrian meltdown could seriously destabilise the wider neighbourhood are also driving Turkey's hardening response. Such a scenario could affect Iraq, where security concerns are rising as the US withdrawal nears completion, and even Iran, a close Assad ally.

For its part, the Syrian regime has pressing reasons to fear Ankara's animosity, as Gökhan Bacik pointed out in Today's Zaman. Unlike many Muslim countries, Turkey identifies strongly with Europe, the US and Nato. And in the past decade, Erdogan's Justice and Development party has made its brand of moderate Islamist politics acceptable to previously blinkered western eyes.

In other words, Turkey, with its majority Sunni Muslim population, furnishes a role model for the disenfranchised Sunni majority in Syria (and other Arab spring countries). Not only is Ankara encouraging revolution in Damascus, it is also living proof that Assad's politics of fear are outdated, that Syrians have before them a workable alternative paradigm, and that, after the revolution, the country's secular, Islamist and other sectarian traditions could fairly hope to co-exist peacefully, Turkish-style."

Occupy Wall Street Protesters Return to Zuccotti Park After 200 Arrested, Camping Barred

Democracy Now!

"Thousands of defiant Occupy Wall Street protesters streamed into Zuccotti Park late Tuesday less than 24 hours after police forcibly removed them from their camp. Police arrested more than 200 people, including about a dozen who had chained themselves to each other and to trees. As protesters returned, a judge upheld the city’s ban preventing them from bringing backpacks, tents and sleeping bags with them into the park. Democracy Now! spoke with protesters as they regrouped after the raid. "The reason I’m down here is because I’m tired of seeing suffering of so many people while you have 1 percent who is accumulating all this wealth on the backs of all the workers," says Ray Lewis, a retired police captain from the Philadelphia Police Department. He critiques his colleagues for "basically just enforcing the laws of the dictators, which is the 1 percent. They’re having their healthcare cut, their pensions cut, and their salaries reduced. And they don’t even realize it."....."

Free Syrian Army attack Damascus

(Click on map to enlarge)

Syrian army defectors have attacked a string of military bases near Damascus. Clashes between defectors and troops have in the past been concentrated in the provinces of Idlib, Homs and Daraa

Paddy Allen, Wednesday 16 November 2011

Attack on Syrian intelligence base is most audacious yet

Symbolic significance of assault on Syria's feared Air Force Intelligence directorate will not be lost on civilians

Ian Black
, Middle East editor, Wednesday 16 November 2011

"Syria's Air Force Intelligence directorate is a central part of the Assad regime's repressive apparatus – less concerned with aviation matters than keeping tabs on the opposition. Wednesday's rocket and machine gun attack on one of its facilities on the Damascus-Aleppo highway, Hasrata, looks like the most audacious and precisely targeted attack yet by President Bashar al-Assad's enemies. Its symbolic significance will not be lost on Syrian citizens.

This feared organ of state security owes its ostensibly anomalous role to the fact that the president's father and predecessor, Hafez, was commander of the air force before coming to power in 1968. It played a key internal role in crushing the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1980s and its officers have often been stationed at Syrian embassies abroad....

Its current head, Jamil Hassan, is a member of the Alawite sect and part of the Assad family's inner circle. AFI personnel have often been seen in action against protesters and are reported to have fired live ammunition to disperse demonstrators in Damascus in April, killing 43......"

Al-Jazeera Video: Al Jazeera World: Gaza Lives On

"The Israeli blockade may have taken a heavy toll on Gazans, but this film reveals life and hope among the devastation."

Al-Jazeera Video: Protesters flood back to 'Occupy' NY park

Delivering "Democracy," 15 Tons at a Time: Report: U.S. Air Force Receives New 15-Ton Bunker Buster Bombs

U.S. Air Force started receiving the massive bombs in September, Bloomberg news agency reports; the bombs are capable of destroying underground targets, such as Iran's nuclear sites.

"The U.S. Air Force has received new 30,000-pound bombs capable of destroying deep underground bunkers, the Bloomberg news agency reported.

The bombs, designed to be delivered by B-2 stealth bombers, "will meet requirements for the current operational need," U.S. Air Force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jack Miller said in a statement to Bloomberg.

The U.S. Air Force reportedly started receiving the bombs in September. The bombs are six times bigger than the U.S. Air Force's current bunker-busters....

The U.S. and Israel have not ruled out conducting military strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities, some of which are located in fortified underground locations."

Assad will only go if his own tanks turn against him

Predictions of Syrian leader's imminent demise are hopelessly optimistic

By Robert Fisk

"....And my Middle Eastern crystal ball broke many years ago. But I'll hazard a dangerous prediction: Assad's time is running out, fast – but don't believe the State Department and the Washington "tink thanks" (as I call them) and the EU or the Arab League. He ain't going yet....

The truth is that Russia was once Libya's only arms supplier; it was selling combat jets, frigates, tanks and anti-aircraft systems to Colonel Gaddafi after the West's 1974 arms embargo and had 3,500 advisers in the country. Its ships could refuel at the Tripoli naval base. Now it is associated with the dead and hated regime. Russia was 73rd on the list of nations to recognise the Libyan National Transitional Council.

So now the Syrian city of Tartous contains the only 24-hour port open to the Russian navy in the Mediterranean....

One thing is now clear. Quite apart from the massive civilian casualties, even opponents of the regime now admit that Assad faces an armed insurgency. This may originally have been a myth promoted by the regime, but the monster has now been born. Anti-Assad activists now openly speak of "armed insurgents"......"

Syrian army defectors attack intelligence base near Damascus

Attacks on President Bashar al-Assad's military bases come two days after rebels kill 34 soldiers and security officials in Daraa, Wednesday 16 November 2011

"Syrian army defectors have attacked a string of military bases near Damascus, including an intelligence complex on the outskirts of the capital, in the first such reported assault on a major security facility in the eight-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

Members of the Free Syrian Army fired shoulder-mounted rockets and machine guns at the compound run by Air Force Intelligence in Harasta, a suburb of the capital.

A gunfight ensued and helicopters circled the area. The attack appeared to mark an escalation in armed confrontations between government and opposition forces instead of clashes involving street protesters.

"I heard several explosions, the sound of machine gunfire being exchanged," a Hasrata resident told Reuters.

Other attacks targeted military checkpoints in the suburbs of Douma, Qaboun and Arabeen and Saqba....."

Egypt: Free Blogger Held in Maspero Case

No Transparency in Military Investigation of Killing of Copts

Human Rights Watch
November 15, 2011

"(New York) – Egypt’s military prosecutor should immediately release an award-winning blogger charged in connection with the demonstration by Christian Copts on October 9, 2011, which turned deadly, Human Rights Watch said today. Alaa Abdel Fattah was detained and later charged with incitement and theft of a military weapon, even though the prosecutor had presented no evidence to support the charges. His detention came as military prosecutors started questioning activists and priests about their alleged involvement in publicly encouraging Copts to demonstrate on that day.

During the protest in the Maspero area, military vehicles ran over demonstrators and the military used excessive force to disperse protesters, resulting in the deaths of 27 civilians and one military officer. A November 2 report by the National Council for Human Rights, Egypt’s government-appointed human rights commission, said members of the military were responsible for killing demonstrators. Investigations related to this demonstration remain solely in the hands of military prosecutors, who have called in activists and priests for questioning but have refused to reveal any information about whether they are investigating any military officers for their roles in killing Coptic protesters.

Instead of identifying which members of the military were driving the military vehicles that crushed 13 Coptic protesters, the military prosecutor is going after the activists who organized the march,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Abdel Fattah’s detention is a blatant effort to target one of the most vocal critics of the military. The prosecutor’s acts further entrench military impunity by failing to build public confidence that there will be a transparent investigation of those responsible for the deaths.”....."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Defeatest Article by Jospeh Massad

As the uprising proceeded in Tunisia last December and January and as it picked up in Egypt in January and February, developments seemed clear. Despite attempts to suppress the press, much of the news of what was unfolding reached national and international audiences immediately. The situation changed dramatically when the uprisings began in Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. While a quasi news blackout suppressed coverage of the ongoing popular revolt and its violent suppression in Bahrain by Bahraini and Saudi forces (and only intermittent coverage of Oman was allowed), we continued to get important updates from Yemen. It was in Libya where the lies and propaganda started from the first week of the revolt. It was there that international forces, extending from the Gulf to Europe to the US, took charge of propagandising against Gaddafi (that he used his forces to strafe demonstrators, that his forces received Viagra and raped hundreds of women, that he used "African" mercenaries against his own people, that he was preparing to use chemical weapons against his people, that he had already killed 50,000 Libyans, etc. - all proved to be lies that international observers and agencies finally exposed as baseless fabrications) and ultimately of overthrowing Gaddafi’s dictatorship under the guise of the popular uprising led by NATO forces who actually bombed and killed hundreds of Libyan civilians.

A lesson in imperialism
This is the lesson for those in Syria who are struggling to bring about democratic rule. The evidence is clear. If you live in an Arab country whose dictator is a client of the Americans, the US will do everything in its power to suppress your revolt, and if you succeed despite US efforts, the US will sponsor the counter-revolution against you directly and indirectly through its local allies, especially Saudi Arabia and Israel, but now also Qatar. This of course applies to the situations in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Morocco, Jordan, Oman, and in Saudi Arabia itself. If you happen to live in a country whose dictator, though friendly to the West, maintains an independent line on foreign policy or at least a line that cannot always be guaranteed to serve Western interests - and this applies to Syria and Iran (and lest we forget their services to the West, both countries helped actively the US effort to unseat Saddam, and the Syrian regime helped with US efforts in supporting rightwing forces in Lebanon against the Lebanese left and the PLO in the 1970s) and less so Libya, then the US will help sponsor your revolt against your dictator to bring about a more pliant dictator to serve its interests without equivocation, and it will do so in the name of supporting democracy. The US also explains its counter-revolutionary efforts in countries where the revolts succeeded in overthrowing the American-sponsored dictators as "pro-democratic" measures.

Those who see the Syrian popular struggle for democracy as having already been hijacked by these imperial and pro-imperial forces inside and outside Syria understand that a continuation of the revolt will only bring about one outcome, and it is not a democratic one - namely, a US-imposed pliant and repressive regime à la Iraq and Libya. If this is what the Syrian demonstrators are struggling for, then they should continue their uprising; if this is not their goal, then they must face up to the very difficult conclusion that they have been effectively defeated, not by the horrifying repression of their own dictatorial regime which they have valiantly resisted, but rather by the international forces that are as committed as the Syrian regime itself to deny Syrians the democracy they so deserve. In light of the new move by the Arab League, the US, and Europe, the struggle to overthrow Asad may very well succeed, but the struggle to bring about a democratic regime in Syria has been thoroughly defeated.
It was the United States that destroyed Syrian democracy in 1949 when the CIA sponsored the first coup d’état in the country ending democratic rule. It is again the United States that has destroyed the possibility of a democratic outcome of the current popular uprising. My deep condolences to the Syrian people. 

The Treachery of the Syrian Regime, by Emad Hajjaj

This Is What Revolution Looks Like

By Chris Hedges
Posted on Nov 15, 2011

"Welcome to the revolution. Our elites have exposed their hand. They have nothing to offer. They can destroy but they cannot build. They can repress but they cannot lead. They can steal but they cannot share. They can talk but they cannot speak. They are as dead and useless to us as the water-soaked books, tents, sleeping bags, suitcases, food boxes and clothes that were tossed by sanitation workers Tuesday morning into garbage trucks in New York City. They have no ideas, no plans and no vision for the future.

Our decaying corporate regime has strutted in Portland, Oakland and New York with their baton-wielding cops into a fool’s paradise. They think they can clean up “the mess”—always employing the language of personal hygiene and public security—by making us disappear. They think we will all go home and accept their corporate nation, a nation where crime and government policy have become indistinguishable, where nothing in America, including the ordinary citizen, is deemed by those in power worth protecting or preserving, where corporate oligarchs awash in hundreds of millions of dollars are permitted to loot and pillage the last shreds of collective wealth, human capital and natural resources, a nation where the poor do not eat and workers do not work, a nation where the sick die and children go hungry, a nation where the consent of the governed and the voice of the people is a cruel joke.

Get back into your cages, they are telling us. Return to watching the lies, absurdities, trivia and celebrity gossip we feed you in 24-hour cycles on television. Invest your emotional energy in the vast system of popular entertainment. Run up your credit card debt. Pay your loans. Be thankful for the scraps we toss.....

Despotic regimes in the end collapse internally. Once the foot soldiers who are ordered to carry out acts of repression, such as the clearing of parks or arresting or even shooting demonstrators, no longer obey orders, the old regime swiftly crumbles. When the aging East German dictator Erich Honecker was unable to get paratroopers to fire on protesting crowds in Leipzig, the regime was finished. The same refusal to employ violence doomed the communist governments in Prague and Bucharest. I watched in December 1989 as the army general that the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu had depended on to crush protests condemned him to death on Christmas Day. Tunisia’s Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak lost power once they could no longer count on the security forces to fire into crowds....."

Video: Damietta Still on Lockdown Over Petrochemical Plant

From Tahrir Square to Liberty Plaza, the occupation continues

The kinship between the pro-democracy activists in Egypt and Occupy Wall Street is real. United, we can make freedom prevail, Tuesday 15 November 2011

"......In Egypt, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is becoming increasingly aggressive in the fight to preserve the privileges of elites against our 99%. Since they took power – after we forced former President Mubarak from office on 11 February – the military has tried and sentenced over 10,000 civilians in military courts merely for engaging in peaceful dissent. We have seen concerted efforts to divide the people who came together to demand their rights: some of the same divide-and-conquer tactics employed against the Occupy movement over the past few weeks.

Attacks on Coptic Christians have increased, with the police offering little protection and with state media fanning the flames. When Copts peacefully protested outside of the Maspera state television building, security forces opened fire with live ammunition and ran demonstrators down with armored personnel carriers. They killed 27 and injured hundreds more. When Muslim activists came to the Copts' defense, the regime reacted harshly. The military recently extended the imprisonment of blogger Alaa Abd el-Fattah due to his outspoken criticism of the military for the Maspera massacre. We are grateful for activists around the world that have stood in solidarity with us and demanded Alaa's immediate release..... "

Al-Jazeera Video: Syria's 'bloodiest day' leaves scores dead

"At least 70 people have been killed in violence across Syria over the past 24 hours in one of the bloodiest days since an anti-government uprising began eight months ago, activists reported.

The new death figures come as a delegation from the main Syrian opposition bloc, the Syrian National Council (SNC), visited Moscow for talks with Russian diplomats.

Nisreen El-Shamayleh reports from Amman....."

Arundhati Roy: Occupy Wall Street is “So Important Because it is in the Heart of Empire”

Democracy Now!

"Renowned Indian writer and global justice activist Arundhati Roy is preparing to address Occupy Wall Street on Wednesday. She recently joined us in the studio to talk about the Occupy movement. "What they are doing becomes so important because it is in the heart of empire, or what used to be empire,” Roy said. “And to criticize and to protest against the model that the rest of the world is aspiring to is a very important and very serious business. So... it makes me very, very hopeful that after a long time you are seeing some nascent, real political anger here. She also discussed her new book, "Walking With The Comrades," a chronicle of her time in the forests of India alongside rebel guerillas who are resisting a brutal military campaign by the Indian government...."

Real News Video: Former IAEA Inspector: Misleading Iran Report Proves Nothing

Robert Kelly: Latest IAEA report recycles old intelligence and is meant to bolster hard liners

More at The Real News

Looting Libya as A "Reward": Libya seeks UK firms to develop oil sector and construction industry

Nuri Berruien, head of Libya's National Oil Company, said the government would 'favour our friends' to develop its reserves

The Guardian

"Libya began touting itself as the next Dubai to UK investors, as the country's government said it would reward its "friends" when it begins selling off lucrative oil contracts.
Representatives of the country's National Transitional Council called City executives to a central London hotel to drum up British interest in the "massive opportunities" on offer in Libya....."

Syria uprising falls victim to power plays

By Ramzy Baroud
Asia Times

"....Despite the Arab League's decision to suspend Syria, it is very probable that some Arab countries are keen to employ the league in a similar fashion to the way it was used with the war on Libya: a mere springboard that eventually allowed NATO's war to take place.

Signs of such a scenario are becoming clearer, especially following the league's vote to suspend Syria. In a New York Times editorial on November 8, the role of the Arabs seems to be confined to just that. The Arab League "should eject Syria and urge the United Nations Security Council to condemn Mr Assad and impose international sanctions against the regime", the Times counseled.

"Russia and China will find it harder to block a Security Council resolution - as they did in October - if the Arab world calls for action that goes beyond the sanctions already imposed by the United States and Europe."

And so the saga continues. If Syria doesn't wrestle its fate from the hands of these self-serving forces, the Syrian uprising and Syria as a whole will continue to be marred by uncertainties and foreboding possibilities. "

Syria: isolated and losing friends

Damascus is loyal to Bashar al-Assad, but the president must realise the prospect of keeping hold of his country has gone

Editorial, Monday 14 November 2011

"Syria's expulsion from the Arab League on Wednesday marks a change for an organisation whose more traditional posture is astride a fence. The move is largely symbolic. It is not clear what sanctions Arab League members could impose, and any plea for the United Nations to act will be blocked by Russia and China in the security council (Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, on Monday accused the US and France of inciting violence and blocking dialogue). But symbolism matters. Syria was not just one of a 22-member group, but a founding member and central player. Suspension is a blow to Syria's claim to be the beating heart of pan-Arabism. And isolation could be a precursor to recognising the Syrian National Council, the umbrella group of the opposition.....

But members of the league could also have less altruistic motives. The leading role in the decision to suspend Syria was played by the current chairman, Qatar. The rich but tiny kingdom provided planes, at least 18 shipments of weapons and special forces for the intervention in Libya. Under the increasing influence of Saudi Arabia, Qatar has become a major player in a wider power battle with Iran. Saudi Arabia blames Iran for instigating rebellion among the Shia majority in Bahrain, whereas the truth is they had reason enough to protest....."

Prominent Egyptian blogger's detention extended

Amnesty International
14 November 2011

"Egypt’s military authorities must release a prominent blogger and vocal critic of military rule or immediately transfer him to a civilian court, Amnesty International said today after his detention was renewed.

Activist Alaa Abdel Fattah's detention was extended by 15 days on Sunday, raising fears he may face a grossly unfair trial before a military court. He is facing charges of inciting violence against the armed forces, assaulting military personnel and stealing weaponry.

"The military has yet to present any evidence to substantiate the charges against Alaa Abdel Fattah and are denying him a fair hearing before a civilian court," said Amnesty International.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is proving increasingly intolerant of any criticism of its actions and is abusing the military courts to settle scores.”....."

ما بعد سقوط النظام

ما بعد سقوط النظام
الياس خوري


"انتهى الفصل الأول من اللعبة، النظام الأسدي يشرب من البئر نفسها التي جعلته يعتقد بأن النظام الذي اسسه حافظ الأسد بالحديد والنار سوف يبقى الى الأبد والى ما بعد الأبد. وصلت الأمور الى منعطفها الحاسم، فبعد محاولات النظام العربي المتعددة لالقاء حبل النجاة الى النظام السوري، وجدت الجامعة العربية نفسها امام الجدار، ولم يعد هناك مناص من اعلان نهاية صلاحية النظام. فلقد رفضت العائلة السورية الحاكمة جميع محاولات تجميل نظامها الاستبدادي، وتصرفت بعقلية كل شيء او لا شيء، معتقدة انها تستطيع سحق الشعب السوري بالدم، مثلما سبق لها وان فعلت طوال العقود الأربعة الماضية، متناسية ان الزمن تغير، وان قواعد اللعبة اختلفت.
القرار العربي لا يعني ان النظام الاسدي قد سقط، فقد يكون امام الشعب السوري مزيد من اهوال البطش، قبل ان يأفل النظام ويتهاوى، لكنه يشير الى ان آليات السقوط قد بدأت بشكل جدي، وان العودة الى الوراء باتت بالغة الصعوبة.
المنعطف الجديد الذي تدخله سورية مثير وحاسم، وهو يحمل مخاوف كبرى، على المعارضة السورية ايجاد آليات تجنبها، كي لا تكون تكلفة اسقاط النظام باهظة اكثر من اللازم، وكي تتجنب سورية كأس انحلال بنية الدولة في سياق تهاوي الاستبداد.
المخاوف ناجمة اساساً عن المسار المتعرج للثورات العربية. فبدلا من ان تتصدى تونس ومصر، لقيادة دفة الجامعة العربية، وتأسيس محور ديموقراطي عربي في مواجهة الاستبداد، عقد لواء القيادة المطلقة لدول مجلس التعاون الخليجي، بحيث بدت منصة الجامعة العربية وكأنها صارت حكرا على الثنائي السعودي- القطري. هل غياب المحور الديموقراطي ناجم عن اشكاليات مرحلة التأسيس، حيث تواجه الثورة التونسية تحدي بناء التعددية السياسية، بينما تواجه الثورة المصرية خطر عودة ديكتاتورية عسكرية مقنعة؟ ام هو ايضا نتيجة عدم قدرة القوى الديموقراطية على بلورة خطها السياسي المستقل، لتجد نفسها عاجزة عن كسر احتكار القيادة النفطية للعمل العربي المشترك؟
في ظل هذا الغياب تلعب الديبلوماسية القطرية دور القيادة، وقد اتخذت هذه القيادة شكلا عسكريا مستغرباً في ليبيا. فمحدودية الامكانيات العسكرية القطرية لا تسمح بهكذا دور، الا اذا اصبحت قطر هي الوكيل الدولي المعتمد!
قد يقال ان هذا الوضع هو محصلة واقع دولي راهن، وهذا ليس صحيحاً الا لأنه يكشف عجز الديموقراطيين في تونس ومصر، حيث سقط النظام او بعضه من دون سقوط الدولة، عن بلورة سياسة عربية جديدة، تقطع مع المرحلة الماضية، التي هي في طريقها الى الأفول.
هذا التخوف المشروع ناجم عن طموح المحور الخليجي لوأد العملية الديموقراطية برمتها، وهذا ما اشارت اليه عملية سحق الثورة البحرينية بنار قوات 'درع الخليج'.
الرد على هذه المخاوف هو مسؤولية المعارضة السورية والتنسيقيات التي تقود العمل اليومي. صحيح ان مهمة اسقاط النظام والخلاص من الاستبداد هي المهمة المركزية، التي يجب ان تنصب كل الجهود لانجاحها بأقل الخسائر الممكنة، وصحيح ايضاً ان الشعب السوري استقبل القرار العربي بالترحاب، لأنه يعزل النظام ويعجّل في سقوطه. لكن هذا يجب ان لا يحجب الأخطار المحدقة بالثورة السورية، والتي قد تتخذ اشكالا متعددة.
الخطر الأول هو الانزلاق في هاوية الصراعات الطائفية. النظام الاستبدادي الذي تغطى بخطاب قومي بنى لنفسه حمايات تستند اساسا الى البنى العشائرية- الطائفية، من 'سرايا الدفاع' السيئة السمعة في زمن الأب، الى الفرقة الرابعة في زمن الابن. قد يعتقد النظام انه يستطيع ان يلعب ورقة تسعير الصراعات الطائفية، كما فعل في لبنان، من اجل اطالة عمره. هذه الورقة التي يلجأ اليها النظام لن تكون مجدية الا اذا سقطت قوى المجتمع الأهلي السوري في كمائنها، وارتضت ان تقوم بممارسة ردود فعل شبيهة.
الخطر الثاني هو خطر انهيار الدولة. لقد بنى الاستبداد تماهيا كاملا بين النظام والدولة، بحيث صارت اجهزة الدولة وسلطاتها المختلفة، من الأمن الى القضاء الى التشريع، مجرد مطية للسلطة، كما تم تحطيم جميع مؤسسات المجتمع المدني والسياسي، فصار النظام آلة لحكم الفراغ والسيطرة عليه.
من هنا يأتي خطر انهيار الدولة، الذي لا يمكن صدّه الا عبر قدرة المعارضة الديموقراطية على استقطاب اغلبية النخب الفكرية والسياسية والعسكرية، من اجل احداث تحول ديموقراطي يحافظ على وحدة الوطن ومصادر قوته.
هذان الخطران الكبيران اضافة الى واقع عربي مليء بالالتباسات والمطبات، لا يمكن مواجهتها الا عبر قدرة المعارضة السورية ممثلة بالمجلس الوطني وتنسيقيات الثورة والقيادات الديموقراطية، على بناء خطاب سياسي توحيدي جديد، يكون اطار عملية التغيير. هنا لا يمكن اغفال الحادثة المشؤومة التي جرت في القاهرة، حين قام بعض المعارضين المتظاهرين بالاعتداء على اعضاء في هيئة التنسيق. المطلوب اليوم هو افق ديموقراطي حقيقي، وخطاب توحيدي وطني يقود سورية في مرحلة انتقالية صعبة ومؤلمة، تفتح آفاق الحرية والديموقراطية، وتقطع مع هذا النوع من الممارسات الصبيانية الطائشة.
في مواجهة النظام الاستبدادي الذي يحكم دمشق الذي وصفه الروائي الاسباني الكبير خوان غويتيسولو بأنه 'سلام المقابر'، لا يوجد سوى رهان واحد، هو الرهان على الشعب السوري الذي صنع خلال الأشهر الثمانية الماضية واحدة من اكبر ملاحم البطولة في التاريخ العربي المعاصر.
سورية، مركز بلاد الشام، وسرة المشرق العربي، هي الأمل في ان يستعيد المحور الديموقراطي العربي زخمه، كي يبدأ مع فجرها الديموقراطي تاريخ جديد للعرب، يؤسس نهضتهم.
لم يعد السؤال 'هل سيسقط النظام'؟ بل صار 'متى سيسقط النظام'؟