Saturday, December 17, 2011

Activists circulate video of older female activist beaten by army

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"Internet users are circulating a video that appears to show members of Egypt's army assaulting an older female activist called Khadiga al-Hennawy.

Hennawy was near the cabinet building on Qasr al-Aini Street on Friday when clashes erupted between protesters and security forces.

In the video, two officers are seen dragging Hennawy by the hair. One lets go of her hair to kick her, before other officers join in, beating her with batons and dragging her out of view.

Protesters in Tahrir Square and those staging a sit-in outside the cabinet building call Hennawy the “mother of revolutionaries” because she has taken part in several protests against the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. She also allowed activists to meet in her apartment to escape the eyes of security services.

This is one of several videos and photographs depicting scenes of male and female protesters being violently beaten by security forces. Activists say that members of the army have confiscated dozens of cameras documenting such attacks.

At least eight people have died and hundreds have been injured in the clashes so far."

Military police burn medical supplies, detain doctors

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"Military police burned medical supplies and detained a number of doctors at the field hospital at Omar Makram Mosque on Saturday, Ahmed Hussein, a board member of Egypt's Doctors Syndicate, told Al-Badeel newspaper.

Hussein added that three injured people, Mohamed Mahmoud Hanafy, Mohamed Abou Soud, and Tamer Ismail, who left the hospital to seek x-ray examinations, have disappeared.

The Omar Makram Mosque is located in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

The Tahrir Doctors Organization published a statement on its Facebook page saying that 15 doctors and nine injured people, some in serious condition, are being held inside the Omar Makram Mosque. The statement added that military police threatened to arrest doctors if they attempted to leave.

Several doctors have been arrested by military and intelligence members in other field hospitals in mosques and churches, the statement added.

The Tahrir Doctors Organization said that those responsible for this situation are the military, political forces, and everyone else who could have acted quickly to save people's lives and secure paramedics and doctors in the field.

Violence has continued for a second day in Cairo after members of the police and army clashed with protesters staging a sit-in outside the cabinet building in the early hours of Friday morning. At least 8 people have died and hundreds have been injured, according to the Ministry of Health."

Al-Jazeera Video: Egypt's army steps up campaign against protesters. It Looks as Bad as Under the Pharaoh!

"At least nine people have been killed in Egypt and more than 350 injured in the past two days of clashes between protesters and security forces in Cairo.

Soldiers have cleared Tahrir Square of protesters. And footage showed troops beating demonstrators and burning their tents.

Al Jazeera has filmed exclusive video of what appears to be a member of the military shooting into a crowd of fleeing protesters.

Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh reports from Cairo."

Al-Jazeera Video: Egypt clashes continue for second day

"At least nine people have been killed in Egypt and more than 350 injured in the past two days of clashes between protesters and security forces in Cairo.

Soldiers have cleared Tahrir Square of protesters. And footage showed troops beating demonstrators and burning their tents.

Protesters are calling for the country's military rulers to step down.

But the military blamed the protesters for the violence, and the country's prime minister denied that excessive force was used.

Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh reports from Cairo."

Al-Jazeera Video: Soldiers clear Egypt's Tahrir Square

"Baton-wielding soldiers have cleared Egypt's Tahrir Square of protesters.

Troops went into central Cairo, close to parliament and cabinet offices, beating demonstrators and burning their tents.

Earlier, the military-appointed prime minister Kamal El-Ganzouri branded the protesters counter-revolutionaries.

Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reports from Cairo."

Al-Jazeera Video: Protesters beaten in Cairo's Tahrir Square

"Egypt's military has stormed Cairo's Tahrir Square, beating protesters and burning their tents.

Saturday marked the second day of clashes in the city, which have killed nine people and injured over 350 more.

Violence has escalated, with Egypt's Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri calling the fighting an attack on the country's revolution.

Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reports from Cairo."

Al-Jazeera Video: Sidi Bouzid a year after Tunisia's uprising

"The uprising in Tunisia began exactly a year ago when young fruit seller Mohammad Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest against injustice and humiliation.

Now, protesters have gathered outside the governor's office in the Tunisian city of Sidi Bouzid, poor, and very angry.

According to one protester, the people of Sidi Bouzid are marginalised and feel nothing has been achieved since the uprising began.

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra reports from Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia."

Will Iraq's 1.3 million refugees ever be able to go home?

As US forces formally exit battle-scarred nation, attention turns to victims of war

Kim Sengupta Friday 16 December 2011
The Independent

"...Not far from where the speeches were taking place lay grim evidence which refuted the claims that the Americans were leaving behind a land of stability and prosperity. More than 8,000 people are living in squalor in a field of mud and foetid water, with huts made of rags and salvaged pieces of wood.

The residents of Al-Rahlat camp are among 1.3 million refugees in their own country; families driven out of their homes by the sectarian violence spawned by the war. Another 1.6 million fled Iraq for neighbouring states, mainly Jordan and Syria. Those in Syria, with its escalating violence, are now having to seek another place of safety.

There is a third group who are particularly vulnerable – around 70,000 people who worked for the US military....

Around 450,000 of the IDPs (internally displaced persons) are living in the worst conditions, crammed into 380 street settlements scattered around the country. They have little or no access to clean water, sanitation or medical care. Many of these people, deemed to be illegally squatting, cannot get the documents necessary to register for welfare relief or take up jobs, or enrol their sons and daughters in schools...."

How Maliki and Iran Outsmarted the US on Troop Withdrawal

By Gareth Porter

"Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s suggestion that the end of the U.S. troop presence in Iraq is part of a U.S. military success story ignores the fact that the George W. Bush administration and the U.S. military had planned to maintain a semi-permanent military presence in Iraq.

The real story behind the U.S. withdrawal is how a clever strategy of deception and diplomacy adopted by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in cooperation with Iran outmaneuvered Bush and the U.S. military leadership and got the United States to sign the U.S.-Iraq withdrawal agreement.....

The ambitious plans of the U.S. military to use Iraq to dominate the Middle East militarily and politically had been foiled by the very regime the United States had installed, and the officials behind the U.S. scheme, had been clueless about what was happening until it was too late. "

The Bouazizi 'big bang'

A year ago, a Tunisian street vendor lit himself on fire in an act of desperate defiance - sparking the Arab Spring.

By Larbi Sadiki

"....Bouazizi's staying 'effect'

The Arab Spring fervour that sprang in Bouazizi's home town and country has spread further afield in the Arab world, making possible dreams of dignity and freedom which are today palpably catapulting the Arabs into democratic openings. The uprisings and still unfolding revolutions were made by the Arab world's little peoples. Their greatness, like Bouazizi, lies in their capacity for self-sacrifice in the quest for dignity.

Very few of them will make it to the newly elected Arab houses of power. Their presence and voice will always count in the public gymnasiums of open, non-violent and effective resistance from below. Gone the days when 'power' and 'authority' happen not under the direct gaze and scrutiny of the public gymnasiums. Just as they ousted Bin Ali, Mubarak, Gaddafi and Saleh, they can and will oust the Assad's.

All Arabs are breathing in the air of freedom which is expanding the appetite for equal citizenship. They are out of the tunnel. They are more comfortable with their 'Arabhood' than they were 12 months ago. For they have discovered that fellow human beings from Barzil to Sydney champion their struggles and applaud their courage and sacrifices, and some even stage their own protests inspired by the fervour and hope they have generated.

Maybe the Bouazizi 'big bang' is yet to strike again in the future to shake off the relics of power in many a gilded palace. When it does, it will be remembered that its seeds came from the fruits of Sidi Bouzid's vendor.

May he forever rest in peace!"

From Tunis and Tahrir to Wall Street, and back again

Since Bouazizi's self-immolation dictators across the Arab world have been ousted, but is the old system still in place?

By Mark LeVine


"....Six ingredients that have become paradigmatic in the Arab Spring were in place in Tunisia the fateful day of December 17 - a youthful population, an internet savvy, multi-lingual and cosmopolitan activist cadre, a working class that had already stood up to a bloody government crackdown, a religious movement with deep roots in society, a regime that had devolved from authoritarian to just plain mafia and a population that had lost all hope - and thus all fear.....

...But countries like Egypt, Bahrain or Yemen - the next stops on the Arab world's still largely unpaved revolutionary road - were, and remain, a different story.

These countries are far too central to US and Western strategic and economic interests in the region for the US to have supported a democratic transition that might upend existing relationships and policies. Thus, the Obama Administration's unwillingness even to utter the word "democracy" until Mubarak's departure was imminent, offer more than mild criticism of the brutal crackdown against Bahrain's pro-democracy protests or to support a transition in Yemen not orchestrated by the starkly anti-democratic Saudis....

A system that refuses to die

....Today, however, protesters are fighting against a system that refuses to die. Chants such as "The people want the downfall of the system" were perhaps overly optimistic back in January, but few people expected the system to prove quite so resilient - even as no one thought that less than a month after the fall of Mubarak Cairenes would be ordering pizza for protesters in Madison, Wisconsin whom they inspired.

And it is precisely the strange mix of global reach and local weakness that is the most important legacy of Sidi Bouzid and Tahrir Square one year after Mohamed Bouazizi set himself ablaze, starting the whole process in motion. The seemingly contradictory phenomena are in fact intimately related, and point to several lessons that are not lost on activists from Wall Street, Tahrir and beyond as the global movement for democracy and economic justice that began in North Africa continues to grow.

First, democracy is a means, not an end. Electoral democracy might well become institutionalised in Tunisia and Egypt, but that does not mean that the primary goals of the revolutions - "Bread, Freedom and Dignity" - will be achieved. Indeed, the US and Europe have only negative lessons to offer the Arab world, as our own system today is so dominated by money and power that inequality and corruption are reaching "third world" levels while elections offer almost no hope of real changes in policy.

In such an environment, large-scale grassroots activism of the sort that has defined the Arab Spring and now the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement are the sine qua non for successful systemic political and economic transformation.

Don't count out the liberals

Second, occupying public space is absolutely crucial to occupying public consciousness. The Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions only succeeded when people got off of Facebook and took to the streets in large enough numbers to prevent the army from using large-scale violence against them. Similarly, OWS was able to raise issues of social justice and growing inequality only because of the hundreds of occupations that mushroomed across America.

Yet such occupations are incredibly hard to sustain long-term. Arab and Western activists have to figure out a way to institutionalise their presence without having to spend the huge amount of energy and resources it takes to occupy public spaces.

In Egypt, the government continues to jail, torture and kill activists. While less overtly violent, the increasing militarisation of policing and the stifling civil disobedience are harbingers of a far less open and democratic public sphere than we have experienced in generations. Indeed, standing amidst the violence in Tahrir reading tweets from Oakland and other cities and universities where police were forcefully dispersing protesters literally made my head spin.

Finally, liberals might have lost the elections, but don't count out the Left. Commentators have focused on religious movements and parties but the fact is that in Egypt it was the various socialist movements which did the crucial organising that enabled the revolution in February. Lenin and Trotsky played an equally, if not more important, role to non-violent resistance guru Gene Sharp in shaping the strategies of protest deployed by revolutionaries.

In fact, while liberal Egyptians look aghast at the rise of the Islamists, socialist and labour activists are setting about the hard work of building a base among the poor and working class. Their numbers are growing and include many religious activists who have been turned off by the Brotherhood's easy embrace of the corrupt and violent system that only recently oppressed them. A similar trend is apparent in Tunisia.

Ultimately, however, no matter how well organised the emerging democracy and justice movement become, transforming a global system that has taken decades and even centuries to evolve is a herculean task....."

The Arab spring has seen dignity being clawed back

Mohamed Bouazizi's self-immolation took place a year ago today. Since then, a new and profound reality has emerged

Martin Chulov
, Saturday 17 December 2011

".....As I stood in the clinical calm of an intensive care unit, chanting from demonstrators outside started to drift through the hospital corridors. "Down with the Khalifas," was one defiant cry from thousands of Bahrainis who were using the ambulance zone as a protest hub. And then came another, far more poignant chant: "We don't fear you anymore." Time after time throughout this past 12 months, comprehending the Arab awakening has come back to this....

Personal dignity is paramount in the Arab world, perhaps more so than anything else. When a Tunisian vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself alight after an official slapped him and refused to renew a permit for his vegetable cart it was seen across the region as far more dignified than desperate.

The resonance of Bouazizi's story was enormous and the means of telling it electrifying. The reach and impact of pan-Arab cable television and social media was far greater than any dictator could control.

Bouazizi's tale and millions like it destroyed the default position that an individual's destiny was largely outside his or her control. A new and profound reality has emerged – self-determination is not only possible, it is an entitlement....

There are some lingering problems, though, some of which are legacies of the past three to four decades. Accountability, on any level, remains largely absent in Arab society, which is structured around an entrenched system of patronage, where powerful figures dispense favours at will, often subverting natural justice.

And, despite the widespread access to a plurality of views, independent, or critical thought, is not common. World views are largely aligned behind sect, or leader. Despots such as Bashar al-Assad and Mubarak have spent decades de-educating and impoverishing people to the point where several generations have limited knowledge, skills or wealth, or means to do much about it...."

Cairo erupts in second day of violent clashes

Egypt's army launches assault on Tahrir Square, day after eight protesters killed in anti-military protest in capital.


"Egyptian soldiers with batons have charged into Tahrir Square, the focal point of anti-military demonstrations in the capital, on the second day of violent clashes with protesters.

The renewed fighting on Saturday came a day after eight people were killed and more than 300 others injured when soldiers stormed an anti-military protest camp outside the parliament building, a short distance from Tahrir.

Soldiers reportedly fired into the air on Saturday as they pushed into the square, while thick black smoke filled the skies following the eruption of a fire in the area around Egypt's upper house of parliament.

Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh, reporting from Cairo, said several tents in the square that had been used by protesters had been also set alight...."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Is Egypt becoming another Pakistan?

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"The past experience of three major players on the Egyptian political scene ― the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the US Embassy and Islamists ― suggests that Egypt may soon come to resemble Pakistan.

But why Pakistan and not Turkey? Though many have long hoped to implement the Turkish model in Egypt, Pakistan ― not Turkey ― seems to be the most plausible outcome. In fact, Egypt may turn out a worse version of Pakistan.

Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, the head of the ruling SCAF, worked as a military attache in Pakistan and has made no secret of his admiration for civil-military relationship there. In Pakistan, he believes, politics is the job of politicians but the military maintains the right to change the power equation whenever it wants, because state affairs are too important to be left completely in the hands of civilians.

Over the last 40 or so years, Pakistan has seen military coups led by generals Zia-ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf. In the Pakistani power equation, the army is the compass.

US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson is also experienced in Pakistani affairs, following years of work there at a time when political tensions between the two countries ― in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the invasion of Afghanistan and the rise of Islamists in Afghanistan and Pakistan ― were at their peak.

Patterson is prepared to implement a similar plan in Egypt ― a currently unstable country that has important military and religious waves that need to be tamed to incorporate US interests into their agendas. Having successfully led a similar process in Pakistan, Patterson is the right woman for an Egypt that is transforming into another Pakistan, with the rise of the Salafi-led Nour and Brotherhood-led Freedom and Justice parties to power....."

Egypt Crackdown: The Undeclared War on Radical Dissent

By: Serene Assir
Published Saturday, December 17, 2011

"With several people dead and hundreds injured at the sit-in near the Cabinet building, the Egyptian military seems intent on crushing an increasingly isolated radical protest movement.

Cairo Three weeks into a sit-in at the gates of the Cabinet building in downtown Cairo, Egyptian protesters faced a brutal military crackdown Friday that apparently involved the use of live ammunition, electric taser weapons and sticks, as well as Molotov cocktails and stones thrown from rooftops above Qasr al-Aini Street.

At least three people have been killed, according to the Ministry of Health. “The death toll may actually be higher, because the use of live ammunition continues as we speak,” said field doctor Melad Atef. Several hundred were reportedly injured.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) issued a statement denying the use of live ammunition against protesters. The statement also said people in Egypt have the right to peaceful protest. In an interview with Egyptian state television, General Director for Security in Cairo General Mohsen Murad blamed protesters for ongoing violence.

The last Facebook status update by one of those reportedly killed, Alaa Abdel Hadi, made waves in online activism circles. “I’m going out to see whats happening,” he wrote. “May God protect us.” He never returned.

Meanwhile, hundreds have been wounded, with a prevalence of injuries to the head, the legs and the backs of protesters. The Egyptian Ministry of Health cited 257 injured. Calls from downtown Cairo for additional medical volunteers continued through the evening, as injuries continued to rise......"

Guardian Video: Looking back at the Iraq war: 'There was more stability before the US invasion'

Nearly nine years after the US invaded Iraq, 4,500 American lives, 32,000 wounded and more than $800bn is left in its wake. Here, the Guardian's diplomatic editor Julian Borger and the Observer's foreign editor Peter Beaumont look back at the years of conflict, Friday 16 December 2011

Arab Spring anniversary: how a lost generation found its voice

It started with a death in Tunisia, spread to Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and Syria. But one year on, the youth revolt has gone truly global

Shiv Malik, Jack Shenker in Cairo and Adam Gabbatt in New York, Friday 16 December 2011

"It could have easily been overlooked. It was not the first time a young, frustrated Arab had taken desperate action to draw attention to the plight of the marginalised millions. But on this occasion the news of a suicide went viral.

A year to the day since Mohamed Bouazizi's self-immolation in a sleepy Tunisian town kicked off a year of revolt, the convulsions have spread further than could ever have been imagined: in the depths of a Russian winter activists are planning their next howl of protest at the Kremlin; in a north American city a nylon tent stands against a bitter wind; in a Syrian nightmare a soldier contemplates defection.

Quietly, a lifetime of old power structures – political, social, ideological – have been dissolved and the certainties of one generation have been replaced by the messy unpredictability of another. Today the furniture of the new sits deliberately beside the supposed certainties of the old. Handmade barricades are bolted to public squares, plastic tents pitched beside stone cathedrals, and the solid steel of a New York bank is harassed by pop-up armies of retweeters....."

Will the Arab revolutions be good for women?

What will the changes of the Arab spring mean for women? Journalist Nabila Ramdani is wary of what will happen next, but Rana Kabbani is rapturously optimistic

Interview by Emine Saner, Friday 16 December 2011

"....Emine Saner: Women have played a key part in the revolutions, yet few seem to be involved in the rebuilding. There is just one woman on Libya's National Transitional Council. Is that a disappointment?

NR: It is. Libya is a very conservative country and we've seen how the more traditional forces have taken over. They have Sharia law enshrined in the constitution, they have reinstalled polygamy.

RK: Why is it that every time western armies intervene in our region, they bring to the fore the most repressive elements in Arab societies, and the worst possible results for women? The greatest setback for gender equality has been the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq. Women have been involved in everything that has happened since the revolution in Tunisia began. The number of women coming out to vote has been tremendous, and no doubt female politicians will emerge. If Islamist parties are winning elections now, it is because they have been the ones that continued in opposition throughout the fearful Arab winter.

NR: Women have taken an equal part in the revolutions, especially in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Although I'm very optimistic about the role women can play in Tunisia, I'm more sceptical about their inclusion in the political process in Egypt, for example. My fear is that the previous gains made by Egyptian women could be reversed. The role of women in Egypt's transitional government has been very limited. There were no women included on the committee that drafted the transitional constitutional declaration, but they are determined to help shape the country's future. The political parties have to be more inclusive....."

Video: جمال عبد الناصر يتحدث عن حواره مع الاخوان عن الحجاب

Courtesy of Angry Arab

U.S. Withdrawal From Iraq: "In Terms of Destroying Iraq, It’s 'Mission Accomplished'"

"The U.S. military may be leaving Iraq, but the U.S. government is not. The U.S. embassy in Baghdad is the largest in the world and thousands of private contractors will fill the role of the departing U.S. troops. We begin our coverage of the U.S. withdrawal with Sami Rasouli, the founder and director of the Muslim Peacemaker Teams in Iraq, who joins us from the city of Najaf. Invoking George W. Bush’s infamous declaration after the fall of Baghdad, Rasouli says: "In terms of destroying Iraq, it’s 'Mission Accomplished.'"...."

Iraqi Women’s Activist Rebuffs U.S. Claims of a Freer Iraq: "This Is Not a Democratic Country"

"Yanar Mohammed, president of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, joins us to discuss the impact of the nearly nine-year U.S. occupation, particularly on Iraqi women. "The Iraqi cities are now much more destroyed than they were five years ago," Mohammed says. "At the same time, we have turned to a society of 99 percent poor and 1 percent rich due to the policies that were imposed in Iraq." Moahmmed decries the repression of Iraqi protesters that joined the Arab Spring in a February 25th action. "The women are the biggest losers in all of this. We went to the Iraqi squares, we demonstrated, but got oppressed in ways that are new to Iraqi people. Anti-riot police of the American style was something that we witnessed there ... This is not a democratic country."...."

Bradley Manning: Famed Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg on Alleged WikiLeaks Soldier’s 1st Day in Court

"Alleged U.S. Army whistleblower Private Bradley Manning is scheduled to make his first court appearance today after being held for more more than a year-and-a-half by the U.S. military. Manning is suspected of leaking hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks in the biggest leak of classified U.S. documents in history. We’re joined by perhaps the nation’s most famous whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg, and go to Ft. Meade, Maryland for a brief update on a rally in support of Manning outside the base where he’ll appear. Noting that the WikiLeaks revelations helped spark the Arab Spring and in turn the Occupy Wall Street movement, Ellsberg offers this qualified praise if Manning indeed committed the leak of which he stands accused: "The Time magazine cover gives protester—an anonymous protester—as ‘Person of the Year,’ but it’s possible to put a face and a name to that picture. And the American face I would put on that is Private Bradley Manning."...."

Al-Jazeera Video: Protesters clash with police in Cairo

"Egyptian protesters set cars alight and threw stones at military police in Cairo, after rumours spread that an activist had been detained at a sit-in and badly beaten near the parliamentary building.

Police fired in the air shortly after dawn on Friday to try to disperse around 300 demonstrators, who were angered by images posted online that appeared to show the activist badly beaten after his arrest, witnesses told the Reuters news agency.

Rawya Rageh discusses the protests from Cairo."

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrian troops 'ordered to shoot to kill'

"Human Rights Watch has named more than 70 Syrian commanders and officials, who it says are responsible for attacks on unarmed protesters.

Al Jazeera's Joanna Blundell reports on the rights watchdog's findings in this report which some viewers may find disturbing."

Real News Video: Egyptian Workers Strike and March Against Regime

Workers say repression getting worse as they fight for a minimum wage

More at The Real News

Israel’s Reut Institute claims "price tag" attacks on EI, Irvine 11 and Palestine Return Centre

By Ali Abunimah

"Israel’s Reut Institute, which notoriously called on Israeli government agencies to “sabotage” and “attack” the Palestine solidarity movement – and then tried to conceal it – is claiming credit for “price tag” attacks on The Electronic Intifada, the Palestine Return Centre, the Irvine 11 and others.

In an assessment titled, “2011: The Year We Punched Back on the Assault on Israel’s legitimacy,” Reut lauds the emergence of “our network” and gives credit to the Israeli government for helping to set it up....

Reut proudly associates itself with settler “price tag” terrorism and mosque burnings

It’s notable that Reut lists its claimed achievements against Palestine solidarity activists in a section titled “Putting a price tag and exposing the delegitimizers’ true agenda.”

Thus Reut proudly adopts the term “price tag” which is generally associated with mosque burnings, vandalism, tree felling, killings of people and their livestock and other violent attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians.

There can be no clearer indication that the Reut Institute proudly associates itself with and seeks to emulate on an international scale this type of intimidation....."

The war is pronounced dead

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"....Although Thursday's poignant ceremony marked the official end of the war, the Pentagon, just in case, still has two bases in Iraq and roughly 4,000 troops, including several hundred who attended the ceremony. At the height of the war in 2007, during the surge of General David Petraeus, the occupation maintained a sprawling 505 bases and more than 170,000 troops.

According to military officials, the remaining diehards are still being shown Iraqi love on a daily basis, mainly by strategically placed improvised explosive devices set against convoys heading south through Iraq to bases in Kuwait.

Even after the last two bases are closed and the final American soldiers go home to certified unemployment by December 31, under rules of a shady agreement with the government in Baghdad, a few hundred military personnel and a sprinkle of spooks and mercenaries will remain, working within the larger-than-the-Vatican American Embassy as part of an Office of Security Cooperation to assist in extremely profitable weapons deals.

But negotiations could resume next year on whether additional American soldiers, spooks and mercenaries can return to further profit from the action...."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you see in the US military withdrawal a solution for Iraq's problems?

With about 500 responding, 59% said no.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Steve Bell on the US troop departure from Iraq

No Bravery

A nation blind to their disgrace

A 4 Minute Video

"There are children standing here,
Arms outstretched into the sky,
Tears drying on their face.
He has been here.
Brothers lie in shallow graves.
Fathers lost without a trace.
A nation blind to their disgrace,
Since he's been here.

And I see no bravery,
No bravery in your eyes anymore.
Only sadness.

Houses burnt beyond repair.
The smell of death is in the air.
A woman weeping in despair says,
He has been here.
Tracer lighting up the sky.
It's another families' turn to die.
A child afraid to even cry out says,
He has been here.

And I see no bravery,
No bravery in your eyes anymore.
Only sadness.

There are children standing here,
Arms outstretched into the sky,
But no one asks the question why,
He has been here.
Old men kneel and accept their fate.
Wives and daughters cut and raped.
A generation drenched in hate.
Yes, he has been here.

And I see no bravery,
No bravery in your eyes anymore.
Only sadness."

Al-Jazeera Video: Iraq war: Predictions vs. reality

"With nearly two million Iraqis displaced, tens of thousands dead and more than 4,500 US soldiers killed, the overall result of the war on Iraq may not be what the US bargained for.

Al Jazeera's Patty Culhane has been looking back at the promises and predictions that were made by Washington nine years ago."

Q&A: Have human rights been left behind in Egypt?

On condition of anonymity, representatives of human rights organisations talk about the current situation in Egypt.

By Mark LeVine

"As Egypt votes, most mainstream observers are taking as a given that, despite various irregularities, the elections have been broadly "free and fair". Does the human rights community in Egypt consider them as such?

No. The elections lack at least the principles of the international laws for various reasons
. First, you can't have an election in a country that is essentially under ongoing emergency rule. Second, the Ministry of Internal Affairs shouldn't be controlling the electoral process, which is what is happening in reality. Third, we have no idea what standards the Electoral Commission is relying upon concerning electoral procedures. Some stations have been taking 150,000 votes and others were up to a half a million voters. Are they doing it according to geographical standards, or according to the number of people? These questions were raised while we were watching the election and we still don't have answers.

How can we understand the political component of the election?

Regardless of which parties or coalitions will ultimately win, the facts are that upwards of 40 per cent of the people lack any basics of political education or culture. A certain amount of poor people are voting based on simple ideological manipulation by one or the other factions. And it's clear that political movements are still buying some votes, while others are making outlandish promises, or are using religion, and even mosques, as core elements of electoral campaigns despite the ban on doing so....."

الفلوجة.. فخر المقاومة وزوال الاحتلال

"رغم التضحيات الجسام والمقابر التي ملأت الأحياء والأزقة والدمار الذي لحق بالبيوت والبنى التحتية لمدينة الفلوجة كبرى مدن محافظة الأنبار العراقية خرج الآلاف من أهاليها ليشاركوا في احتفالات المدينة برحيل قوات الاحتلال الأميركي.

وتستمر الاحتفالات في المدينة الواقعة غربي بغداد أربعة أيام، شهد اليوم الأول منها تجمعا شارك فيه أكثر من 50 ألف شخص، تحت شعار "الفلوجة شرارة المقاومة وعنوان التحرير" ورفع المشاركون مئات اللافتات والشعارات "التي تشيد بالملاحم البطولية التي سطّرتها المقاومة العراقية ضد قوات الاحتلال الغازية".

وخلال احتفالات اليوم الأول، الذي شهد مشاركة شيوخ عشائر من مختلف محافظات العراق، استعاد المشاركون تضحيات أبناء هذه المدينة الصابرة المجاهدة التي تعرّضت عام 2004 لعدوانين شنتهما قوات الاحتلال الأميركية، وراح ضحيتهما الآلاف بين شهيد وجريح.

ويقول عضو البرلمان عن الفلوجة خالد العلواني "نفتخر بأننا نحتفل اليوم بطرد وجلاء قوات الاحتلال حيث إننا نحن من قدم أغلى التضحيات بأموالنا ونسائنا وشيوخنا"، وأضاف في تصريحات صحفية أنّ "الذين دمّروا العراق سيدفعون الثمن غاليا من خلال محاسبتهم على أيدي هذه الجماهير الغاضبة"، داعيا "العراقيين الشرفاء إلى أن يحافظوا على أرض الوطن وأن يتّحدوا".

المقاومة انتصرت


Real News Video: Israeli vs Palestinian Right to Protest

While Israelis mark human rights day in Tel Aviv, 28 year-old Mustafa Tamimi is killed in the West Bank while protesting

As Syria Toll Tops 5,000, Activist in Hiding Urges Global Action to Stop Assad Regime Crackdown


"International pressure on the Syrian regime is increasing as the death toll there continues to rise. This week the United Nations estimated the death toll in Syria since March has surpassed 5,000, including hundreds of children. "The regime is given time, after time, to kill more people and more civilians," says Razan Zaitouneh, a human rights lawyer in Damascus who is living underground for her safety. "Every time there is a new reason, new justification, for the regime to kill more people. It’s as if the whole world is waiting [for] the situation in Syria to reach a certain point. It’s as if, that, 40 [killed] daily is not enough to take serious action against the regime."...."

Last Post in Iraq: this is the death knell of the American empire

What was intended to be a demonstration of power turned into the most costly boomerang in history, in both blood and treasure

George Galloway, Thursday 15 December 2011

"So the Yanks are going home. Apart from the thousands of their servicemen and women whose lifeblood they are leaving in the sands of Iraq, and the tens of thousands too maimed or otherwise damaged to make it back to home and hearth. And minus the trillion-plus of dollars in treasure they have expended on destroying an Arab country (which may have lost a million souls and seen three millions off into exile), fanning the flames of fanaticism, making Iran more powerful, and unleashing a wave of sectarianism throughout the Muslim world. Nice work, but hardly "Mission Accomplished", as the melancholy valediction delivered by President Obama at Fort Bragg this week made clear to the discerning....

But two things, as George Bush would put it, I "mis-underestimated". First, that when the tower of lies on which the case for the Iraq war had been constructed was exposed, the credibility of the political systems of the two main liars would collapse under the weight. And second, that the example of the Iraqi resistance would trigger seismic changes in the Arabian landscape from Marrakesh to Bahrain.

Almost nobody in Britain or America any longer believes a word their politicians say. This profound change is not wholly the result of the Iraq war, but it moved into top gear following the war and the militarised mendacity that paved the way to it....."

The Inevitable War With Iran

by Philip Giraldi, December 15, 2011

"One might regard the pledges made to Israel and its friends in the United States by aspiring presidential candidates as pro forma and vaguely amusing, but that would be a mistake. Policy commitments, even if they are lightly entered into, are a serious matter with real-world consequences. At the moment, the obligation to Israel goes far beyond the willingness to give Tel Aviv billions of dollars in aid and unlimited political cover each year....

Well, if that is the case, count me as a miscreant. Apparently objecting to the billions of dollars in foreign aid lavished on Israel and refusing to go to war on her behalf is enough to cast one out into the wilderness, but there is even more. Josh Block, a former spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), sent out a message on a neoconservative journalist listserv called “The Freedom Community” describing as anti-Semitic anyone who is anti-Israel or who does not agree that “Iran with a nuke is a problem.” Criticizing Israel or questioning the Iran nuclear narrative therefore makes one an anti-Semite, a conclusion that certainly simplifies thinking about the Middle East. It also makes the broader arguments being made by the friends of Israel come full circle. Any questioning of the United States’ relationship with Israel is anti-Semitism. Any change in how Washington hands out tax money that would in any way reduce aid to Israel is anti-Semitism. Any criticism of Israel’s policies with its neighbors is anti-Semitism. Any questioning of Israel’s “right” to start a regional war with Iran that will inevitably drag the United States in is also anti-Semitism. I’m sure that the picture is clear. Claims of anti-Semitism fit every situation where Israel is even peripherally involved. The slightest suggestion of anti-Semitism is the ultimate weapon, intended to end every debate and to ease the way into yet another Middle Eastern war that the United States does not need to fight, cannot afford, and from which it will likely reap the whirlwind."

Daily Star Cartoon

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Praise Tunisia, not the Iraqi nightmare


December 14, 2011 01:25 AM
By Rami G. Khouri
The Daily Star

"The United States under President George W. Bush drew on a deep well of nonsense, lies and fantasy when it entered Iraq in 2003. President Barack Obama continued this bipartisan American tradition when he said Monday that the departure of American forces from Iraq left behind a country that can be a model for other aspiring democracies. On the other side of the Arab world on the same day, the Tunisian people elected a new president, providing a more credible example of how Arabs can aspire to become democratic without foreign armies destroying their national fabric.

Rarely have we had such a sharp contrast between the destructive legacy of militarized American foreign policy in the Arab world and the more constructive behavior of ordinary Arab citizens who are reshaping their own societies in a more legitimate manner. After human rights activist and former opposition leader Moncef Marzouki became Tunisia’s first elected president since the January revolution, he noted simply, “I have the great honor of becoming the first president of the first free republic of the Arab world.”.....

The Iraqi people will overcome their ordeals in due course, if they are left alone to sort out their domestic issues without excessive foreign interference. This may be asking for too much, as foreign meddling in Iraq is one of the lasting negative consequences of the Anglo-American invasion. In the years ahead when we assess indigenous democratic transitions across the Arab world, one of the important aspects of restoring sovereignty and dignity to Arab societies is for them to be sure to maintain a minimum level of intellectual honesty and accuracy in their historical narratives.

The idea that Anglo-American-ravaged Iraq is a model for Arab democratization is both a cruel lie and a deep insult, made more profound because of the alternatives that Arabs initiated on their own in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, with others to follow soon. This week, we are best advised to ignore Obama’s illusions and insults, and instead note the continuing transition from Mohammad Bouazizi to President Moncef Marzouki in Tunisia."

Egypt urged to release blogger sentenced by military court

Amnesty International
14 December 2011

"Egypt’s military rulers are continuing their patterns of abuse, Amnesty International said today, after a military court confirmed the imprisonment of a prominent blogger upon his military retrial.

Prisoner of conscience Maikel Nabil Sanad had his three year sentence reduced to two years today after a retrial before a military court.

He was imprisoned in April for criticizing the post-Mubarak military authorities on his Facebook page and for “spreading lies and rumours about the armed forces” on his blog.

Maikel Nabil Sanad should be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

He is a prisoner of conscience who should never have been prosecuted in the first place.”....."

By All Means Necessary!’: Individual and Command Responsibility for Crimes against Humanity in Syria

Just Released: An 88-page Report (pdf).

Syria: ‘Shoot to Kill’ Commanders Named

Security Council Should Refer Syria to ICC for Crimes Against Humanity

December 15, 2011

"(London) – Former Syrian soldiers identified by name 74 commanders and officials responsible for attacks on unarmed protesters, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The report names commanders and officials from the Syrian military and intelligence agencies who allegedly ordered, authorized, or condoned widespread killings, torture, and unlawful arrests during the 2011 anti-government protests. Human Rights Watch has urged the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and impose sanctions against the officials implicated in abuses.

The 88-page report, “‘By All Means Necessary!’: Individual and Command Responsibility for Crimes against Humanity in Syria,” is based on more than 60 interviews with defectors from the Syrian military and intelligence agencies. The defectors provided detailed information about their units’ participation in attacks, abuses against Syrian citizens, and the orders they received from commanders and officials at various levels, who are named in the report.

Defectors gave us names, ranks, and positions of those who gave the orders to shoot and kill, and each and every official named in this report, up to the very highest levels of the Syrian government, should answer for their crimes against the Syrian people,” said Anna Neistat, associate director for emergencies at Human Rights Watch, and one of the authors of the report. “The Security Council should ensure accountability by referring Syria to the International Criminal Court.”....."

Al-Jazeera Cartoon

Gingrich on top of a mountain of remains of exterminated Native Americans:

"The Palestinians are terrorists and an invented people!"

"المسألة القبطيّة" لـ د. عزمي بشارة: دعوة تاريخيّة للمصريين../

عن "المركز العربي للأبحاث ودراسة السياسات"

سيار الجميل

"أصدر الدكتور عزمي بشارة مؤخّرًا دراسةً قيِّمَةً عنوانُها: "هل من مسألةٍ قِبطِيَّةٍ في مصر؟"، عالج فيها هذا الموضوع بمُنتهى الحصافة والهدوء، وكان مَسلَكُهُ علميًّا في البحث عن أجوبةٍ للسؤالِ الذي جعل منه عنوانًا لدراسته. ولقد قرأتُ الدّراسة الصادرة في كُتَيِّبٍ بشغفٍ كبيرٍ، ووجدت صاحبها قد نجح نجاحًا حقيقيًّا في ثلاثة مجالات منهجيّة أساسيّة؛ ذلك أنّه قدّم أوّلًا -وبتركيز رائع- تجذيرًا تاريخيًّا لوجود الأقباط في مصر، بحُسبانهم من سكّانها القدماء، وتدرّج في فهم أوضاعهم التاريخيّة إبَّانَ القرنين التاسع عشر والعشرين أثناءَ عهد حكم الأسرة العَلَوِيَّةِ، والمكانة الطّبيعيّة التي تمتّعوا بها -على وجه خاص- حتى العام 1952. ثمّ نجح صاحبُ الدّراسة -ثانيًا- في تحليل أبعاد وتطوُّرات المسألة القِبطِيَّةِ وفهم المشاكل التي رافقتها على عهود الرؤساء المصريّين الثلاثة : جمال عبد النّاصر وأنور السّادات وحسني مبارك.. ثمّ خلُص -ثالثًا- إلى أبعاد " المسألةِ " بكلّ ما حفِلت به من مشكلات اليوم.
وأخيرا : ما الذي خرجنا به من هذه القراءة؟

في خلاصته، يُشَدِّدُ المؤلّف الدّكتور بشارة على أنّ ملف الأقباط في مصر، بحاجة ماسّة إلى معالجة جدّية، وأن ينتقل الادّعاء إلى توفر النّيّة الصّادقة لتلك المعالجة؛ وإذا لم يكن ذلك متوفّرًا لدى النّظام السّابق، فإنّ أيّ نظامٍ جديدٍ ملزمٌ بالاعتراف بوجود ملف خطير يتعلّق بهُوِيَّةِ الدّولة، إذ لا يكفي وجود تسامح في التّعامل مع الأقباط، بل إلغاء التّمييز والاعتراف بأنّهم مواطنون أصليّون لهم ارتباطهم العضويّ مع مصر وترابها ونيلها.. مدنها وحقولها.. بحرها وصحرائها.. دلتاها وصعيدها.. " ومن هنا فإنّ مفتاح التعامل مع هذا الملف هو المواطنة المتساوية. والديمقراطيّة هي الإطار الملائم لمثل هذه المقاربة.. " (ص 70). إنّها دعوة تاريخيّة رائعة، يقدّمها الرّجل للإخوة الأعزّاء في مصر من أجل بناء تاريخيّ مدنيّ يُخلّص بلادهم من كلّ التّناقضات التي حفِلت بها، على امتداد العهود الجمهوريّة السابقة. ويمكنني أن أضيف إلى ذلك، أنّ مصر بحاجة ماسّة إلى تشريعات وقوانين مدنيّة تراعي مصالح كل أبناء المجتمع، وأن تستفيد من تجربة العراق القاسية بانقسام مجتمعه وتشَظِّيهِ إلى طوائف وملل وجماعات. إنّنا نخشى على مصر ومستقبلها، داعين إلى أن تجد طريقها السّليم في الثّلاثين سنة القادمة. وأتمنّى صادقا أن تكون رسالة الصّديق المُفكّر الدّكتور عزمي بشارة، معلمًا على طريق بناء مستقبل مصر، ومعالجة أخطر ظاهرة سياسيّة واجتماعيّة تعاني منها، وأن تكون " رسالته " الإنسانيّة والحضاريّة علامةً فارقةً في دروب تقدّمنا وتطوّر أجيالنا القادمة.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Video: الحريات تتراجع في مصر تحت حكم العسكر

From Hossam El-Hamalawy

Al-Jazeera Video: Time Magazine names protesters 'Person of the Year'

"From the Arab Spring to the Occupy Wall Street movement, "The Protester" has been named Time magazine's 2011 "Person of the Year".

The annual distinction is given to the person or thing that Time believes has most influenced culture and the news during the past year, for good or for ill.

Time says the outcry for democratic politics became globalised this year and protesters made history.

Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher reports from Washington DC."

Al-Jazeera Video: EU parliament awards Arab Spring activists Sakharov Prize

"The European Parliament has awarded five "Arab Spring" activists the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

Among the winners, which include both men and women, is Mohamed Bouazizi - a Tunisian fruit seller who set himself on fire in a sign of protest that set the region ablaze with historic revolutionary movements.

Other winners included Egypt's Asmaa Mahfouz and Libyan dissident Ahmed al-Zubair Ahmed al-Sanusi. Syrian winners, lawyer Razan Zeitouneh and cartoonist Ali Farzat, were unable to attend the award ceremony due to ongoing strife in their homeland.

In addition to the honour of being named, the winners will share a prize of $65,000.

Past winners of the Sakharov Prize include anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela and former UN chief Kofi Annan.

Al Jazeera's Nadim Baba reports."

Xmas in Baghdad

When the Sky Was Turned into a Christmas Tree


"....Xmas reminds me of the war in Iraq in the early nineties, when the Americans turned the sky of Baghdad “into a Xmas tree” from their continuous bombing as Wolf Blitzer at CNN described it. Xmas and the death of the innocent people was one in the eyes of a CNN reporter.

It has been twenty years, but Xmas still reminds me of the death of the Iraqi people who did nothing to the Americans who celebrated that Xmas in the nineties and others after that. Xmas reminds me of the thousands of Iraqi kids who don’t go to school because they have to support their families. Xmas reminds me of the suffering of my own people because of the wars which were launched on them by killers who claimed that they would spread democracy in Iraq.

I wish I could be able to move the time backward so that I could sit on the floor of my old school’s church, look at the Virgin Mary’s face and speak to her again “You are a mother, how did you allow this to happen to the Iraqi children and why do they have to suffer from poverty, cancer, literacy and wars, Why .. Why?”

I also wish I could be able to tell the Iraqi kids to hope for good days to come."

Tawakkul Karman, Yemeni Nobel Peace Laureate, Pays Tribute to Women Activists Worldwide

"The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize was presented this weekend to three women — Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Yemeni peace activist and journalist, Tawakkul Karman, the first Arab woman to win the prize, as well as its youngest winner to date. We featured highlights from their acceptance addresses this week. Today we play a final excerpt from Karman, the mother of three who has led rallies in the protests against the rule of the longstanding U.S. ally, President Ali Abdullah Saleh. "I see the great number of Arab women, without whose hard struggles and quest to win their rights in a society dominated by the supremacy of men I wouldn’t be here," Karman says. "This supremacy has caused a lot of injustice to both men and women. To all those women, whom history and the severity of ruling systems have made unseen, to all women who made sacrifices for the sake of a healthy society with just relationships between women and men, to all those women who are still stumbling on the path of freedom in countries with no social justice or equal opportunities, to all of them I say: Thank you ... this day wouldn’t have come true without you."...."

Al-Jazeera Video: Empire - A revolution for all seasons

"Empire asks what has become of the Arab revolutions after the initial euphoria has passed. Guests: Nir Rosen; Seumas Milne; Dr Radwan Ziadeh; and Professor Nadje Al-Ali."

Al-Jazeera Video: Protesters say Syrian government has increased attacks

"Defectors say that Syria is now in a state of open warfare.

Demonstrators in Homs have accused the authorities of more attacks in the city, with activists saying people are leaving the city, and those who have stayed behind are in hiding.

More videos posted by activists purports to show more troops have defected from the army. The latest group appears to be the largest yet with some estimates saying 300 soldiers abandoned their posts.

Despite this, many do not believe that civil war is imminent.

Al Jazeera's Rula Amin reports from Beirut."

Real News Video: A Shoe Heard 'Round the World and Lies in a Good Cause (three years since the "shoeing" of Bush)

More at The Real News

"Paul Jay: Mark Twain​​ ridiculed the warmongers of his day, "There have been lies; yes, but they were told in a good cause".

Muntadhar al-Zaidi is the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush at a Baghdad press conference on December 14th, 2008. I interviewed him in Beirut.

I asked why he did it. He said "I was exposing the occupation with my pen, however I didn't think my pen was reaching the world, I don't think the world read my writings, or saw what was happening in Iraq. But when I threw the shoe at Bush, the world became aware of what was going ".

His act of defiance became an instant sensation throughout the world. Virtually every newspaper and television news show led with the story. But for al-Zaidi, it was more than a decision to make a statement. He revealed that he thought it would lead to his death.

"It was a difficult decision because I was expecting to be killed at the moment of throwing the shoe at Bush. All those protecting the President were armed and scattered around the hall. However, my dignity was in my hands, a choice between death and the return of part of dignity, and to tell the world that Iraqis are objecting to the presence of Bush and his army in Iraq, that Iraqis did not welcome Bush with flowers, nor did they welcome his army."

Al-Zaidi told me he had left a will and a videotape explaining his action with his younger brother.
"He who thinks facing death is easy does not know the taste of death. I faced and sensed death was near when I was at the press conference. I was stuck between the comfortable life I was living: having a car, being a head of my department, my home, my dear friends and beloved, and to go face this person and do what I had decided upon by returning the favor [to Bush], for the widows, the orphans, in exchange for my life".

Al-Zaidi wasn't killed; instead he was arrested and viciously tortured for three months and jailed for nine. He's now living in Beirut but plans to return to Iraq soon to carry out charitable work for widows and orphans......"

Masked in Gaza: The Untold History of Palestinian 'Militancy'

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"....In some way, the media perception of these masked men also remained largely unchanged. The ‘militant’ has always been reported as an inexplicable irritant. At best, he served as a reminder, not of a poignant history that must be unearthed and understood, but of why Israel is, and will always remain, threatened by masked Palestinians. When a so-called ‘militant’ is brutally killed, little justification is offered. If any ‘militants’ respond to the killing, such retorts could possibly serve as a casus belli for an already planned Israeli military escalation.

It is important that we understand that ‘militancy’ in Gaza is not linked to any Palestinian faction per se, nor is it incited by a specific ideology or individual. The phenomenon had indeed preceded all the factions and individuals that dot Gaza’s political landscape. It was caused by the single event of the Nakba, and all the tragedies that manifested as a result of it.

Chances are, the ‘militants’ – or fidayeen, or even ‘terrorists’ by the standards of Israel and its supporters – will continue to exist as long as the conflict remains unsolved per the necessary standards of justice and fairness.

As for the media, it behooves reporters to dig a bit deeper than an image of the charred remains of an uncle and his nephew - and to see beyond the predictably false accusations that underlie official Israeli statements."

The US/Iran Stooge: Prime Minister al-Maliki to US Chamber of Commerce: Iraq is Open for Business

"Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Tuesday that his country is welcoming all U.S. corporations with open arms as U.S. troops leave at the end of the month.

Al-Maliki said U.S. corporations in all economic sectors could find opportunities to help rebuild in Iraq, in a speech delivered with many business leaders in attendance.

“We are at the threshold of a new phase in the relationship in between the new companies, based on mutual interests and mutual desire,” al-Maliki said, according to an interpreter. “It is now not the generals, but it is the corporations and businessmen who will be in the front of this stage.”...."

Hezbollah’s Hypocritical Resistance

N Y Times

"SINCE the mid-1980s, the militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas have tirelessly pursued armed resistance against Israel in the name of liberating Palestine — often with enormous Arab popular support.

But when a so-called resistance movement fails to support a bottom-up popular revolt against a tyrant, its leaders expose themselves as hypocrites.

That is precisely what is happening to Hezbollah. Faced with the Syrian people’s uprising against President Bashar al-Assad and a democratic tsunami sweeping the Middle East, Hezbollah’s alignment with Mr. Assad is destroying its reputation across the Arab world.

The Syrian masses who once worshiped the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah today curse him when they parade in public squares. The posters of Mr. Assad and Mr. Nasrallah that once adorned car windows and walls throughout Syria are now regularly torched.

Until recently, Mr. Nasrallah, a Shiite, was a pan-Arab icon. His standing as Hezbollah’s chairman and commander of the 2006 war against Israel elevated him to new heights of popularity among Shiites and Sunnis alike, reminiscent of the former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser’s political stardom following the nationalization of the Suez Canal in 1956.....His fans were in the millions. The Arab multitude from Casablanca to Mecca saw him as a genuine hero who talked the talk and fought the good fight.

But when such a wildly popular resistance movement abandons the ideal, much less the practice, of liberation in support of tyranny, it loses credibility with the public....

Syrians, in Mr. Nasrallah’s eyes, apparently, do not deserve democracy because that would mean the downfall of Hezbollah’s patron in Damascus, not to mention the destruction of the “axis of resistance” that reaches from southern Beirut to Syria and Iran.

Hezbollah’s fellow “resistance” movement, Hamas, has been more politically savvy. It has adapted to the new political landscape, navigating the uncharted territory of the Syrian uprising by impressing onlookers by what it didn’t do and say rather than what it did or said.....

Meanwhile, resisting the Syrian people’s resistance has steadily darkened Hezbollah’s prospects as a popular movement throughout the region.

In a speech last week, Mr. Nasrallah vowed to continue supporting the Syrian regime while commemorating the martyrdom of the venerated Shiite Imam Hussein ibn Ali during the battle of Karbala in the year 680.

But Mr. Nasrallah forgets that before his death Imam Hussein lamented that living under the tyranny of the Damascus-based Umayyad Caliphate was a great sorrowa message that seems to have been lost on Hezbollah today.

Blind to his present political predicament, Mr. Nasrallah has instead declared that Hezbollah will never allow the ouster of Mr. Assad.

Luckily for the Syrian people, that choice is not Mr. Nasrallah’s. "

Barking mad alert! Cheney Urges Attack on Iran to Destroy Lost Drone

Invade Or Bomb, Former VP Advises

Speaking today on CNN, former Vice President Dick Cheney lashed President Barack Obama over the loss of a surveillance drone in Iran, saying that he should’ve doubled down on being caught spying with an overt attack on Iran.

The right response would have been to go in immediately after it had gone down,” Cheney insisted, saying that this could have been accomplished either with a ground invasion aimed at “recovering” the lost drone or by bombing the area until the drone was destroyed.

When pressed on whether or not bombing Iran would have “potentially led us into a war with them” in a later interview, Cheney cited the bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, saying that was “Iranian-supported.”

The unspoken answer then is not only would attacking Iran because a US spy drone was lost probably have led to a war with Iran, but that Cheney thought this would be a good idea. He went on to insist it would be a “fairly simple operation.”

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Map of countries US/Israel have bombed or in which US has bases

map of countries US/Israel have bombed or in which US has bases

الإسلاميون في القول والفعل

جاؤوا متأخرين الى الثورات. لكن الإسلاميين لم يقطفوها بعد. حازوا النسبة الأعلى من الأصوات في الانتخابات النيابية للمرحلة الانتقالية، ولم يحوزوا الأكثرية.
تضافرت على تلك النتائج عوامل عديدة. منها الاختلاط التاريخي بين الأحزاب القومية واليسارية وبين الأنظمة الشعبوية العسكرية قيد التفكيك، ما أضعف من مصداقيتها، حتى لا نقول إن أحزاب المعارضة التقليدية باتت هي أيضاً من مخلفات الماضي.
ثم أن منطق التمثيل الثوري لا يتطابق مع منطق التمثيل الانتخابي. ليس فقط لأن الوقت لم يسنح لتبلور القوى والطاقات الشابة والشعبية، التي فجّرتها الثورات، في تشكيلات سياسية، بل لتخلّف الانظمة الانتخابية أصلاً عن ان تعكس ارادة الجماهير. الى هذا، يمكن أن يُضاف الاسبقية التي للأحزاب الاسلامية من حيث التنظيم والانضباط وتوافر الإمكانات المادية، بما فيها دعم الانظمة النفطية.

Syria's torture machine

Channel 4's foreign affairs correspondent reports from Syria on the mounting body of evidence that the state is engaging in widespread acts of brutality against its own citizens


Jonathan Miller, Tuesday 13 December 2011

"....Between late November and early December, I was one of just two foreign reporters granted an official journalist visa to this repressive police state. I spent nine days in Damascus, capital of al-Assad's Republic of Fear, as a guest of the government. There, I encountered an angrily defiant regime, robust and resolute and unapologetic. Earlier in this Arab spring, I spent six weeks in Libya. There are echoes of Gaddafi in the personality cult surrounding al-Assad, but Syria's political and security apparatus is bigger and badder than anything Gaddafi could muster. I do not mean to belittle the suffering of Libyans, but Syria has four times the Libyan population and 10 times the menace.

Over the course of those nine days, I interviewed three government ministers, an army general and the mayor of a rebellious city. I heard nothing but denials that the security forces were shooting, shelling and torturing civilians. The government blames "armed gangs" and "terrorists" and invokes the spectre of Islamist insurgents, just as Gaddafi's henchmen did. And like them, they see western-backed conspiracies. They talk of a media war in which Arab and western satellite TV stations broadcast "lies" and "fabricated videos."....

"It's rampant," says Nadim Houry, the Beirut-based deputy director of Human Rights Watch for the Middle East and North Africa, who has taken testimony on hundreds of cases of torture from Syria, "and, the odds are, if you're detained, you will be ill treated and most likely tortured. We know of at least 105 cases of people who were returned from the custody of security services in body bags to their loved ones … and those are only the ones that we know of." Mr Houry says he has evidence that tens of thousands of Syrians have been arbitrarily detained over the months.

"But we have also documented what I would call "meaningless torture" – if there is ever such a thing. They've got all the information but they want to teach you a lesson. I think that lesson is "you need to fear us". And the striking thing that I've seen is that despite that torture, people are no longer afraid. The wall of fear has been broken.".....

"I saw at least 200 children – some as young as 10," he said. "And there were old men in their 80s. I watched one having his teeth pulled out by pliers." In Syria's torture chambers, age is of no consequence, it seems. But for civilians who have risen up against al-Assad, it has been the torture – and death in custody – of children that has caused particular revulsion....

I met other survivors in other safe houses and each account corroborated the other. A pharmacist, abducted by militia from a hospital to which he'd been taken after being shot. His experience of torture was every bit as bad as that of the tractor driver. The 16-year-old boy, beaten, electrocuted to the point he thought he would die, then threatened with execution. He was now having trouble sleeping.

Another man, placed in what he called "the electric coffin" – in which a detainee is forced to lie inside a wooden box, across two metal plates through which they pass a current. The 73-year-old man was mercilessly whipped, electrocuted and beaten because of his son's known opposition activities abroad. He talked of hundreds of detainees pushed into cells, humiliated and naked. Another torture refugee told of a device they called "the German chair", so named, apparently, because it was devised by the Stasi. In it, a detainee is bent backwards until he feels his spine will snap.

What emerged was a pattern of systematic brutality, a revolving door of terror through which thousands of people have passed in recent months. This is Syria's torture machine. It is torture on an industrial scale.....

The result is a grotesque compendium of verified video material which we believe to present irrefutable prima facie evidence of crimes against humanity.

Talking me through this material, Pounder said the videos show "compelling evidence of crude physical violence, strangulation, homicide, shootings and general assaults. There is a very distinctive pattern of … physical violence in an extreme form," he said. "It would suggest that what was happening was happening on a wide scale and it would suggest that what was happening was carried out with impunity … There is no consequence for them even if there is clear evidence of an assault." So much for the UN Convention Against Torture....."

Syria's Torture Machine, 19 December, 11.10pm, Channel 4

Al-Jazeera Video: Tunisia's post-revolution president sworn in

"The country that ignited the Arab Spring has a new democratically elected leader.

Moncef Marzouki has been sworn in as Tunisia's president following elections in October.

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra reports from the capital, Tunis."

Al-Jazeera Video: AJE's Rula Amin reports on latest Syrian violence

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrian violence is open warfare says opposition

"The conflict in Syria is beginning to look more like an insurgency after government troops attacked the towns of Idlib, Homs, Deraa and Hama.

Army defectors retaliated by killing a senior army officer in an ambush which they have described the fighting as "open warfare".

As many as 27 people have been killed in the latest clashes.

Al Jazeera's Nazanin Sadri reports."

Real News Video: Egypt's Revolutionary Artists' Union Sing Out

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"The Arab People Have Woken Up": Yemeni Activist Tawakkul Karman Accepts Nobel Peace Prize

Democracy Now!

"The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize was presented this weekend to three women for "their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work." Democracy Now! aired highlights on Monday of the acceptance speeches of Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first democratically elected female head of state on the African continent. Today we complete our coverage with the acceptance speech of Tawakkul Karman from Yemen, the first Arab woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, as well as its youngest winner to date. Karman, a 32-year-old mother of three and an outspoken journalist and activist, has agitated for press freedoms and staged weekly sit-ins to demand the release of political prisoners from jail. She founded Women Journalists Without Chains and has played a leading part in the struggle for women’s rights and for democracy in Yemen. Most recently, she has led rallies in the protests against the rule of the longstanding U.S. ally, President Ali Abdullah Saleh. "The Arab world is today witnessing the birth of a new world, which tyrants and unjust rulers strive to oppose. But in the end, this new world will inevitably emerge," Karman says. "Our oppressed people have revolted, declaring the emergence of a new dawn in which the sovereignty of the people, and their invincible will, will prevail. The people have decided to break free and walk in the footsteps of civilized free people of the world." ..."