Saturday, December 24, 2011
"The US has fully withdrawn all combats troops from Iraq, ending its occupation after nearly a decade.
But the chemical effects of US bombardments continue to harm the future of the Iraqi people.
Al Jazeera's Omar Al Saleh reports from the Iraqi city of Fallujah, where residents accuse the US of leaving behind a poisonous legacy apparent at childrens' births."
"What prevents Iraq from moving forward? Guests to discuss the topic: Anas al-Tikriti, the chief executive of the Cordoba Foundation, James Denselow, a Middle East analyst at King's College London; and Saad al-Muttalabi, an Iraqi politician."
"Too bad Kim Jong-il kicked the bucket last weekend. If the divine hand that laid low the North Korean leader had held off for a week or so, Kim would have been sustained by the news that President Obama is signing into law a bill that puts the United States not immeasurably far from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in contempt of constitutional protections for its citizens, or constitutional restraints upon criminal behavior sanctioned by the state.
At least the DPRK doesn’t trumpet its status as the last best sanctuary of liberty. American politicians, starting with the president, do little else....
The detention bill mandates – don’t glide too easily past that word - that all accused terrorists be indefinitely imprisoned by the military rather than in the civilian court system [Just like the Egyptian Junta!]; this includes US citizens within the borders of the United States.....
Anyone familiar with this sort of “emergency” legislation knows that those drafting the statutes like to cast as wide a net as possible. In this instance the detention bill authorizes use of military force against anyone who “substantially supports” al-Qaeda, the Taliban or “associated forces”. Of course “associated forces” can mean anything. The bill’s language mentions “associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or who has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.” This is exactly the sort of language that can be bent at will by any prosecutor. Protest too vigorously the assassination of US citizen Anwar al Awlaki by American forces in Yemen in October and one day it’s not fanciful to expect the thud of the military jackboot on your front step, or on that of any anti-war organizer, or any journalist whom some zealous military intelligence officer deems to be giving objective support to the forces of Evil and Darkness....."
By Emad Mekay
".....I understand that some Western institutions that feign Middle East expertise were brutally debunked when they miserably failed to predict the wave of changes in the region from early December of last year. Western intelligence, think-tanks, diplomats, TV pundits and certainly some journalists were at a loss for words.
To compensate for that, some Western connection had to be conjured up. The inaccurate role of different Western establishments in the Arab Spring, this time social media, was conjured up.
The smart marketing gimmick was so powerful that some 10 months later, Western circles now give little or no credit to the indigenous Arab social change mechanisms that have so far kept Arab revolutions raging for a year now.
The tools Arabs used were not mainly Google, Facebook or Twitter. They were simply their own I-Revolt apps.
One of the most potent native tools in organising mass protests in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Yemen and, occasionally, in other Arab countries was not Facebook or Twitter but "Friday-book dot come rally now".
If that doesn't ring a bell, just Google "Friday of Rage," "Friday of Liberation" or the "Friday of Departure" among many other Fridays.....
Western capitals had originally slumbered through the Tunisian revolution until ousted president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali was almost at the door. And when Western powers finally noticed, in a way thanks to social media, their initial knee-jerk reaction was to try to keep Stooge 0.1 Ben Ali and Stooge 0.2 Mubarak from crashing.
So for now, to get accurate analysis and, subsequently helpful policy recommendations towards the Arab Spring, Western institutions need to take a deep breath, read about courage in admitting failures, stop trying to take credit for something they didn't do, and look hard and deep into what really happened in the Arab region.
Maybe for a change they will be able to see things in the Middle East for what they really were. In that case, it was for sure their Friday-book, not Facebook. "
by Joseph E. Stiglitz
December 23, 2011
"It has now been almost five years since the bursting of the housing bubble, and four years since the onset of the recession. There are 6.6 million fewer jobs in the United States than there were four years ago. Some 23 million Americans who would like to work full-time cannot get a job. Almost half of those who are unemployed have been unemployed long-term. Wages are falling—the real income of a typical American household is now below the level it was in 1997.
We knew the crisis was serious back in 2008. And we thought we knew who the “bad guys” were—the nation’s big banks, which through cynical lending and reckless gambling had brought the U.S. to the brink of ruin. The Bush and Obama administrations justified a bailout on the grounds that only if the banks were handed money without limit—and without conditions—could the economy recover. We did this not because we loved the banks but because (we were told) we couldn’t do without the lending that they made possible. Many, especially in the financial sector, argued that strong, resolute, and generous action to save not just the banks but the bankers, their shareholders, and their creditors would return the economy to where it had been before the crisis. In the meantime, a short-term stimulus, moderate in size, would suffice to tide the economy over until the banks could be restored to health.
The banks got their bailout. Some of the money went to bonuses. Little of it went to lending. And the economy didn’t really recover....."
"دبي - ا ف ب: تساهم الموسيقى والرسم والافلام القصيرة والكرتونية التي تلد من رحم العنف في سوريا بابقاء الثورة حية بعد تسعة اشهر على اندلاعها، اذ يقوم فنانون بنشر ابتكاراتهم يوميا عبر الانترنت دون الكشف عادة عن هويتهم.
وفي ما بات التعبير الابرز عن التحدي للنظام، يقوم المتظاهرون السوريون يوميا برقص الدبكة وبأداء الاغاني الفلكلورية مع تغيير كلماتها لتشمل مطلب 'اعدام الرئيس' بشار الاسد، في مواجهة القوات السورية.
ويشكل شخص الاسد وأفراد قواته موضوع السخرية الابرز لهذه التعبيرات الفنية النابعة من صفوف المحتجين في سوريا حيث قتل اكثر من ستة الاف شخص منذ اندلاع الاحتجاجات بحسب ارقام الامم المتحدة.
وقال الكاتب المسرحي السوري وليد قوتلي ان 'الثورة كسرت حاجزي الصمت والخوف وهذا بحاجة الى تعبير وكلام ليرفع الناس اصواتهم'.
واعتبر قوتلي ان 'المخزون (الفني الثائر) موجود وبعد كل هذا الضغظ الهائل انفجر هذا المخزون. هو مخزون حضاري وانساني مهم ومتراكم عبر اكثر من اربعين سنة من الكبت والضغط والتعسف واحتقار الشعب واحتقار مواهبه واحتقار مواطنته'.
ويقوم الناشطون بالتصويت عبر موقع فيسبوك للتسمية التي يتم اطلاقها على كل يوم جمعة، وهو اليوم الذي يشهد اكبر المظاهرات.
وقال الناشط ازهر الاصفر الذي يشرف على هذه العملية 'ان مدراء الصفحات الرئيسية للثورة يقومون باقتراح مجموعة من المسميات استنادا الى الاحداث الرئيسية التي شهدها الاسبوع، ويتم اختيار التسمية في النهاية بالتصويت عبر الانترنت'.
واضاف الازهر 'بناء على الاسم الذي يتم اختياره، يتم تصميم شعار (لوغو) كما يتم انتاج شريط فيديو كليب للترويج لتظاهرات الجمعة'.
واختار الناشطون هذا الاسبوع تسمية جمعة 'بروتوكول الموت'، في اشارة الى استمرار القتل بالرغم من توقيع الحكومة السورية على بروتوكول ارسال مراقبين الى سورية.
وبعد تصميم الشعار، يتم اعتماده كصورة رئيسية في جميع الصفحات المؤيدة للثورة تقريبا على فيسبوك.
ومن جهة اخرى، تنتشر الاغاني المؤيدة للثورة بكثافة عبر الانترنت، وهي تنتمي الى اساليب موسيقية متنوعة تتراوح من الاغاني الفلكلورية الى موسيقى الراب.
وقد انتشرت بين مؤيدي الثورة اغان تستخدم الحان الاغاني الفلكلورية الشهيرة لتضع عليها كلمات مناهضة للنظام، بما في ذلك 'دلعونا الحرية'.
وتم انشاء صفحة على فيسبوك تحت مسمى 'مهرجان سوريا الحرة الاول للافلام'، ويستطيع المشاركون من خلاله التصويت لاختيار افضل فيلم قصير حول الاحتجاجات.
ففيلم 'حذاء الجنرال' مثلا للمخرج اكرم اغا، يصف من خلال الرسوم قيام قوات الجيش بقمع الرجال والنساء والاطفال، الى ان يرمي طفل طابته باتجاه الجيش فتكبر تدريجيا وتطيح بالعسكر وتحرر البلاد.
كما تنتشر افلام تستخدم الدمى المتحركة وتتهكم على الرئيس السوري الذي تسميه 'بيشو'. ويتم ايضا استخدام شخصيات برنامج 'افتح يا سمسم' الامريكي المدبلج للعربية، لاجراء حوارات ساخرة بين الرئيس الاسد وشقيقه ماهر.
وفي احد الاعلانات الخاصة بالثورة، تم تغيير اسم برنامج 'من سيربح المليون' الشهير الى 'من سيقتل المليون'.
وقال قوتلي 'الاغاني كانت عفوية لان هناك احساسا في اللاوعي بانه يجب ان تترافق الثورة التي فيها قتل وذبح واغتصاب مع جانب يغذي الروح ويستنهض الجمالية... ليس بالشعارات فقط. الشعار تحول الى ترتيل وغناء مهم جدا'.
من جهته، قال الرسام علي فرزات الحائز جائزة ساخاروف التي يمنحها البرلمان الاوروبي عن رسوه الكاريكاتورية التي تم بسببها ضربه من قبل موالين للنظام الصيف الماضي، 'عندما يرى الانسان حريته من خلال فوهة البندقية ينتهي هذا الخوف من الموت'.
وقال ان ما يقوم به الناشطون هو 'مقاومة ساخرة' مشددا على ان 'الفن ينبع من نبض الشارع وهمومه'.
واكد فرزات الذي فر الى الكويت لوكالة فرانس برس 'عندما تسخر من الجزار وتسخر من القاتل تكون قد تجاوزت حالة الخوف'.
وفي 11 ايلول/سبتمبر، قام سوريون في منطقة الكسوة بالقرب من دمشق باعداد قالب حلوى لونوه بالاحمر وكتبوا عليه 'قالب حلوى مضرج بدماء شهدائنا في عيد ميلاد بشار الاسد'.
كما قام ناشطون بخلق صفحة على فيسبوك تحت مسمى 'الثورة الصينية'، وهي صفحة تنشر قصصا مضحكة من الصين هي في الواقع تحوير ساخر للاحداث في سوريا. ويتم تسمية الاسد بجينتاو، نسبة الى الرئيس الصيني، وحليف الرئيس السوري، هو جينتاو.
وقال قوتلي ان 'عفوية الثورة خلقت عفوية الفن الذي هو تعبير من نوع آخر عن الثورة'.
وعما اذا كان يمكن ان تتحول الثورة في سوريا الى ثورة فنية، قال فرزات 'عندما تكون هناك ثورة حقيقية فالأمور كلها تسير بالتوازي'.
Friday, December 23, 2011
The hacktivist group Anonymous has taken credit for the attack on at least one Brazilian Operations page. The hackers claim the attacks are in response to the brutal treatment of protesters in the country. The hashtags #Egypt #Solidarity #Anonymous #CabinCr3w were used repeatedly on twitter as the event was being reported live, followed by the familiar phrase, “Tango Down.” The phrase was used by hackers before after defacing the CIA’s website.
DECEMBER 20TH, 2011–In what appears to be a massive and carefully orchestrated DDoS attack, a dozen Egyptian government websites have been taken down. Sites ranging from the Presidential website to the bureau for Tourism have been hit.
Captured by Security Camera: Photo of the Criminal Behind the Bombings.
guardian.co.uk, Friday 23 December 2011
"....The Free Syria Army denied involvement and voiced scepticism. Residents of the heavily guarded neighbourhood of Kfar Sousa noted that the streets had been cleared just before the bombings, that agents stationed near the building did nothing when the bombs detonated, and that the state media was extraordinarily quick off the mark with footage and graphic pictures of the atrocities. The bombings also occurred hours before protesters were due to demonstrate against the arrival of mistrusted delegates from the Arab League who are due to monitor the government's promise to end its violent suppression of the uprising. Had the security forces lost control in a key area of the capital, to the extent that al-Qaida could walk in and place two bombs next to vital government installations? Perhaps. But it must also be admitted that Assad's cause would be helped if he could claim that his is a fight against terrorists, not large parts of his own population?
guardian.co.uk, Friday 23 December 2011
".....Such is the anger at the occupation that many Iraqis think the US was behind Thursday's attack. This belief is dismissed as conspiratorial, but it is widely held. There is a reason for this. Apart from the horrific violence committed directly by the occupation forces and Pentagon-contracted mercenaries, the US also created Iraqi secret militia, and smuggled tens of thousands of weapons and tons of explosives into Iraq through private firms in Bosnia. Bremer was unable to tell a congressional committee how he spent an unaccounted-for $8.8bn dollars, but many Iraqis suspect that it was used to fund violent sectarian forces. Indiscriminate killings and terrorist attacks were a permanent feature of the US-led occupation, and to many ordinary Iraqis, Thursday's bloodshed is just more of the same.
Similarly, ordinary Iraqis see their current rulers, who arrived with the occupation, as self-seeking, corrupt politicians who use religious and ethnic differences to perpetuate sectarianism as a means of creating power bases. Though no angel himself, the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr spoke for many when he described the current so-called sectarian divisions as "a conflict of the powerful", and the terrorist attacks as the product of "continued US influence and presence in Iraq"."
guardian.co.uk, Friday 23 December 2011
".....Last week's images from Egypt of the woman stripped down to her underwear and beaten have further unmasked the brutality of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the military junta that runs Egypt and which must be tried with crimes against the Egyptian people. I'm unable to look at any of those images of beatings because I feel the nightsticks fracturing my arms all over again. If I hadn't got up when I fell, they would have stomped on me as they stomped on that woman.
I spent the first two weeks back in New York on a painkiller high. It numbed the pain, as well as my ability to write. Once a week I see a psychologist who specialises in trauma; an orthopaedic surgeon has operated on my left arm to realign the ulnar shaft and fix it in place with a titanium plate and screws, and I have regular physiotherapy. But this week's massive women's march in Tahrir has sharpened my focus once again. When a woman who took part wrote to tell me I'd helped to inspire the march because I'd spoken out on Egyptian TV about my beating and assault, I was finally able to cry. They were the tears of a survivor, not a victim.
The Mubarak regime used systematic sexual violence against female activists and journalists, and here's the SCAF upholding that ignoble legacy. But to quote the women in Tahrir this week: "The women of Egypt are a red line." My body, and mind, belong to me. That's the gem at the heart of the revolution. And until I return to Egypt in January, healed once again, I will tell that to the SCAF over and over. One finger at a time."
A Portrait of the Man Behind the Car Bombings in Damascus
guardian.co.uk, Friday 23 December 2011
"....But any sorrow for the victims must surely be mitigated by the fact that the incidents fit straight into the official narrative: anti-regime activists weren't peaceful protesters wanting reform after all, and talk of peaceful change was always a veneer for the stalking horse of al-Qaida. Regime officials have made this their mantra since violence started to escalate in late summer.....
Outside the capital, where the uprising is playing out, opposition groups and the militia that calls itself the Free Syria Army are deeply suspicious of Friday's events and just as wary of the Arab League delegation, which is being led by Sudan's former intelligence chief, General Mohammed al-Dabi – a man who was at the helm during the genocide in Darfur.....
Not one defector I have spoken to in the past six months has seen or heard of any member of al-Qaida or a jihadi organisation inside Syria since the revolt began.
To them, the regime's insistence of a foreign-backed insurgency manned by highly mobile jihad groups who consistently outmanoeuvre the Syrian army is pure self-serving fantasy.....
And after these blasts, the regime can boast that they were right all along. The enduring question is who will believe them."
"A twin car bombing in the Syrian capital has killed at least 44 people and injured more than 166 others, the Syrian authorities say.
Anti-government activists allege that the government had a hand in the blasts, while authorities have blamed "al-Qaeda linked groups".
Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports from Hatay, on the Turkey-Syria border."
فاصل بالغ الأهمية
فاجأ المتحدث باسم حزب النور (يسري حماد) الدوائر السياسية، لا سيما الإسلامية منها بتصريحات لإذاعة الجيش الإسرائيلي (يوم الأربعاء 21 ديسمبر/كانون الأول)، وهي خطوة بالغة الخطورة لجهة التطبيع مع العدو الصهيوني، (قال لصحيفة المصري اليوم "قلت لمراسل الراديو الإسرائيلي"، مما يقلل من إنكاره معرفة هوية المراسل بعد الضجة التي أحدثتها القصة).
أما الأسوأ فيتمثل في تصريحاته المتعلقة بالمعاهدات مع الدولة العبرية، والتي تجاوز مسألة احترامها إلى تأييد حل الدولتين بدعوى القبول بما قبل به الفلسطينيون، مع العلم أن حل الدولتين يعني الاعتراف بالكيان الصهيوني واحتلال لـ78% من أرض فلسطين التاريخية. ولا تسأل بعد ذلك عن تصريحات لقياديين آخرين لا تستبعد الجلوس مع الإسرائيليين، وهي التي رحبت بها الدوائر الإسرائيلية.
سيقول البعض إن الإخوان قد قالوا باحترام المعاهدات الدولية، ولكنهم أولا لم يصرحوا لوسيلة إعلام إسرائيلية، أما ثانيا فقد قالوا كلاما ينطوي على إمكانية إعادة النظر في "كامب ديفد" بما يخدم مصالح الشعب المصري.
وعموما نحن نرفض أي شكل من أشكال التلكؤ في رفض المعاهدة من حيث المبدأ لأن غالبية المصريين ترفضها، وإن تفهمنا القول إن أي موقف جديد منها سيؤخذ من خلال الأطر الدستورية التي قبل بها الجميع.
هذه التصريحات من طرف المتحدث باسم حزب النور تستدعي الاستنكار في واقع الحال، وتشير إلى عمق أزمة التيار الذي يتراجع بسرعة رهيبة عن الكثير من مبادئه من أجل السياسة والسلطة رغم أنه ليس مرشحا لاستلامها، أقله بشكل منفرد.
إذا كان قادة الحزب يعتقدون أنهم بتصريحاتهم ومواقفهم تلك يستجلبون رضا الغرب، فإن عليهم أن يتذكروا أنهم يفقدون بسببها ثقة المصريين وعموم الشارع العربي والإسلامي، وهو ما ينطبق على الإخوان وأية قوة سياسية لا تأخذ في الاعتبار مشاعر الأمة حيال الكيان الصهيوني، وكذلك الدول الغربية التي تناصب الأمة العداء
"People are beginning to gather in Cairo's Tahrir Square following Friday prayers - once again, calling for an end to military rule.
The slogan in the Square is "wake up Tantawi, today is your last day" - in reference to Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the ruling military council.
Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reports from Tahrir Square in Egypt."
23 December 2011
"Amnesty International called on Egypt’s military rulers to uphold the right to peaceful demonstration as women human rights activists staged more protests today.
Activists took to the streets to denounce violence used by the military against female and opposition protesters in demonstrations over the past week that have left 17 people dead, most of them reportedly from gunfire.
"The shockingly violent scenes of recent days must not be repeated," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s interim Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“Egypt’s military authorities must ensure protesters are allowed to exercise their right to freedom of expression peacefully, without fear of attack. The authorities are responsible for the safety of those protesting.”
Several women activists have spoken out in recent days about their brutal treatment by security forces, including beatings and threats of sexual abuse.
Women's rights groups staged fresh protests on in Cairo on Friday, sparking fears of renewed violence.
Egypt's military rulers, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), issued a statement saying armed forces and police would not interfere in Friday's protest.
However, other recent SCAF statements have attempted to depict activists as irresponsible and violent or trying to “plot to abolish the state”.
One high-ranking military official even said that military forces were entitled to use live fire against protesters. [See post below]
"Such statements represent instigation against protesters. Women human rights defenders and activists must be allowed to stand up against violations of human rights by the SCAF," said Philip Luther.
"The authorities must not use force against peaceful protesters and not target women with gender-based violence."
Violence first flared last Friday when military forces attacked a sit-in protest demanding the end of military rule.
On Tuesday, women marched through Cairo carrying shocking images of soldiers beating and stripping female demonstrators during previous protests.
Egypt's armed forces and riot police have a track record this year of violence against women, including forced virginity tests against female protesters and sexual assault against female journalists....."
"CAIRO: Egyptian military advisor Abdel Moneim Kato said that the Geneva Conventions give the Egyptian military the right to shoot protesters and that the armed forces has tolerated the “intolerable acts from the protesters.”
In an interview with Asharq al-Awsat newspaper on Thursday, Kato said the “Tahrir Girl,” made famous after her image of being beaten and stripped to her bra made headlines around the world and drew criticism towards the country’s military ruling council, was attacked by soldiers in a justified manner.
He said the girl had a “megaphone” and she was “insulting the troops with it” and when she was approached by officers and soldiers who came to arrest her, she resisted.
“The soldiers toppled her down to control her,” Kato said.
“How do we capture a criminal? Do we beg him to get arrested? The forces have to paralyze his movement,” he added.
Kato, who is known for his fiery statements recently, when he told reporters last week about how the protesters should be burned in “Hitler’s ovens” and yet again he has been criticized heavily.
The retired army general and now advisor to the ruling military junta, added that the armed forces “tolerated too much from the protesters” and refused to reveal how many injuries or deaths of troops, saying it is a “military secret.”
“The army’s dignity don’t allow it to reveal the number of its casualties as it doesn’t trade from announcing such news,” Kato added.
He said that the Geneva Conventions allows the military to shoot at protesters as soldiers are to “shoot feet first, then legs then chests,” yet he adds the military used rocks to defend itself.
The ill-informed comment was met with great sarcasm over the general’s misunderstanding of the conventions that site these rules in the case of war.
One political commentator asked if the military considers itself at war with the Egyptian people and that they have now occupied Tahrir square after it fell in February.
Other online activists mocked the comments, asking Kato to remain silent. Others advised him of taking up reading as a hobby......"
First Was the Lebanization of Iraq.....
Now the Iraqization of Syria?
This should be strongly condemned, regardless of who is behind it.
Most of the Casualties are Civilians.
No Revolution Uses Such Means.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
For them and for others, Navi Pillay’s briefing to the Security Council, and Human Rights Watch’s exposé of abuse and identification of those responsible, should be a wake-up call. The evidence of repression in Syria is beyond dispute. What is needed is plain and urgent: the referral by the UNSC of crimes against humanity committed in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC); the stopping of all arms sales to Syria, including by Russia; and the imposition of targeted sanctions against key figures in the Assad regime, to raise the cost to it of continuing violence.
The crisis in Syria is worsening. There is no good reason to obstruct the concerted international action now needed to help end the brutal repression there."
22 December 2011
"A new law introduced this week imposing the death penalty on anyone arming “terrorists” is only likely to worsen the bloodshed in Syria, Amnesty International warned today as the number of people killed this week soared.
In one of the deadliest weeks since pro-reform protests began, some 170 people – including around 70 army defectors – were reported to have been killed when government forces attacked the village of Kafr Awaid in the north-western province of Idlib. Dozens of military personnel are also reported to have been killed in Syria.
The official SANA news agency said on Tuesday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had signed into effect a law providing for “the death penalty for anyone providing weapons or helping to provide weapons intended for the carrying out of terrorist acts”.
“The law could have serious consequences as the Syrian authorities claim that anti-government protests are the work of ‘armed terrorists’,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s interim Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“The Syrian authorities must immediately repeal this law, which represents yet another brutal tool in their arsenal of repression,” he added.
An eyewitness speaking to Amnesty International described seeing the bodies of what he estimated to be around 100 residents following shelling in the western part of Kafr Awaid on Tuesday. He said they had fled their homes out of fear of arrest in their homes....."
Ma’an News Agency - 22 December 2011
The report comes as President Mahmoud Abbas met Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Cairo to put “final touches” on an agreement to reconcile the leaders’ rival factions.
Fatah leader in Gaza Yahiya Rabbah said the meeting was intended to agree on a final arrangement before the outcome was announced officially later Thursday.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Wednesday that Palestinian factions have reached agreement on several steps to be taken as part of ongoing reconciliation talks.
A committee composed of nine members has been formed to take charge of elections. The names will be reviewed by Abbas, who will issue a decree to form a new elections committee.
"Turkey's foreign minister condemned Syrian soldiers for attacking a town close to the Turkish border, on Wednesday.
Al Jazeera met with some activists in Turkey who are trying to help coordinate the opposition movement.
Zeina Khodr reports from Hatay in south-east Turkey."
Saudi and Qatar will continue trying to use Syria against their sectarian war with Shia and Iran but that they will not be able to force Nato into action no matter how hard they try.
In a statement, the movement said “the alleged remarks were made up and baseless.”
The website of Syria’s General Organization of Radio and TV on Tuesday quoted Mashaal expressing disappointment at al-Qaradawi urging the Syrian people to revolt against the Syrian regime.
Mashaal, according to the Syrian website, called upon Qaradawi “to free himself from pressures exerted on him by those he considers trustworthy.”
“Arab countries’ leaders have sold our cause, and the most renowned sheikhs have abandoned our people while president Bashar Assad was there to protect and support Hamas.
By Norman Finkelstein
"Even some of the critical commentary on Hitchens’s passing pays tribute to his atheism, which no doubt shocked readers of Vanity Fair.
But the ultimate irony seems to have gone over everyone’s head.
When I first learned that Hitchens was diagnosed with an excruciating and terminal cancer, it caused me to doubt my atheism.
Could it be merely chance?
The news came just as Hitchens was about to go on a book tour for his memoir.
It was as if he was setting out on his victory lap when the adulating crowds were supposed to fawn over him and—wham!—his legs were lopped off at the kneecaps.
Could it be the hidden hand of a Jehovah?
If I still had doubts, the events of the past week dispelled them.
First Hitchens passed.
If that wasn’t burden enough to bear, the next day Vaclav Havel imploded.
The deep thinkers among us were now beside themselves with grief.
But then, on the third day, Kim Jong-il kicked the bucket.
Was this a practical joke, and who was the joker?
Biblical scholars report that divine interventions usually come in threes.
Moe, Larry, Curly.
Christopher, Vaclav, Kim....."
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 22 December 2011
"Rival Palestinian factions have agreed to form a unified government, which will be sworn in by the end of January. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal met in Cairo to agree the groundbreaking deal late on Wednesday after days of heated negotiation between representatives of Palestinian political groups led by Hamas and Fatah....."
All together now:
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"Nine months after they toppled Mubarak, some protesters fear that their revolution is under threat from the military."
A GREAT VIDEO AND A MUST WATCH!
"One of the largest shareholders of high-end French fashion firm Lacoste is a major donor to Israel and Zionist causes.
Lacoste has been at the center of a scandal over the company’s insistence that Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour be forced out of the prestigious Lacoste Elysée Prize in Photography.
The Musée de L’Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland, which administers the prize today took the extraordinary step of canceling the 2011 contest in protest at Lacoste’s insistence that Sansour be excluded. Lacoste has also announced that it will no longer sponsor the contest, which now appears to be dead.
Ownership of Lacoste
by Philip Giraldi, December 22, 2011
"....One can easily argue that President Barack Obama is even worse than the Mitt Romneys of this world, because he was elected in large part by antiwar voters but he has brought more war and a frightful expansion of the state security apparatus, including the indefinite military detention and even assassination of American citizens. But that is to avoid the issue of how a country that so desperately needs peace and reconstruction can produce so many clueless but hawkish politicians who are themselves completely ignorant of war and soldiering except insofar as they follow the Gingrich model of reading about it in books. Nevertheless, the poor fools persist in mouthing the slogans of empire. And it has consequences. Constant warfare might well mean the end of our experiment in republican government and could quite possibly bring about the impoverishment and death of many of us."
"كتبت "يديعوت أحرونوت"، الصادرة اليوم الخميس، أن وزارة الخارجية الإسرائيلية جعلت من الحركات الإسلامية التي وصفتها بـ"المتطرفة" في مصر هدفا قادما للحوار.
وأشارت الصحيفة إلى أنه في الأيام الأخيرة قال قادة حركة "الإخوان المسلمين" (حزب الحرية والعدالة) و"الحركة السلفية" (حزب النور) إنهم سيحترمون اتفاقية السلام الموقعة مع إسرائيل.
وأضافت الصحيفة أن إسرائيل ترى في ذلك فرصة للبدء بالحوار مع "الحركات الإسلامية المتطرفة"، وبناء عليه طلبت من السفير الإسرائيلي في القاهرة، يعكوف أميتاي، إجراء اتصالات مع ممثلي الحركتين.
ونقلت عن مصادر سياسية إسرائيلية قولها إن الحوار سيجري بدون شروط مسبقة، وعلى أساس الاحترام المتبادل.
وأضافت المصادر أن إعلان الحركتين عن احترام اتفاقية السلام يعني الاعتراف الفعلي بوجود دولة إسرائيل.
إلى ذلك، أضافت الصحيفة أنه طلب من السفير الإسرائيلي في القاهرة محاولة إجراء اتصالات مع ممثلي الحركتين بالتنسيق مع السلطات المصرية.
كما أشارت الصحيفة إلى أن التقديرات الإسرائيلية تشير إلى أن الحركات الإسلامية هي التي ستقوم بتشكيل الحكومة المصرية القادمة، ولذلك فمن المهم الحفاظ على علاقة معها، و"مد يد السلام إليها".
كما كتبت الصحيفة أن التقديرات الإسرائيلية تشير إلى أن التغيير الذي وصفته بـ"المفاجئ" في موقف الحركات الإسلامية نابع من الضغط الأمريكي الشديد عليها، ومن إدراكها أن المس باتفاقية السلام مع إسرائيل سوف يمس بعلاقات مصر مع البيت الأبيض، وربما يؤدي إلى تجميد المساعدات الأمريكية "الحيوية لمصر". بحسب المصادر الإسرائيلية.
يذكر في هذا السياق أن صحيفة "الرأي العام" الكويتة كانت قد نقلت قبل عدة أيام عن الناطق بلسان حزب النور السلفي، يسري حماد، قوله إنه لا مانع لدى الحزب من الحوار مع إسرائيل. وقال أيضا إنه لم يحدث أي اتصال مع الإسرائيليين، وأن الأمر يتوقف على التصريحات الإعلامية من الجانب الإسرائيلي. وبحسبه فإن "الحوار في حد ذاته يجب ألا يكون مرفوضا، خصوصا من جانب أي قوى ارتضت القيام بعمل سياسي".
في المقابل، نفى قبل عدة أيام الناطق بلسان الإخوان المسلمين، محمود غزلان، ما نشرته "معاريف" الإسرائيلية عن أن إسرائيل تجري اتصالات مع الجماعة لإقامة حوار معها. ونقل عنه قوله إن الإخوان يرفضون تماما أي لقاءات أو حوارات أو تواصل مع "الكيان الصهيوني".
وكانت وسائل الإعلام الإسرائيلية قد أولت النبأ اهتماما خاصا، ونشرته "يديعوت أحرونوت"، يوم أمس الأول، في موقعها على الشبكة تحت عنوان "مسلمون متطرفون في مصر: سنجري محادثات مع إسرائيل".
ولفتت الصحيفة في حينه إلى تصريحات رئيس حزب النور، عماد عبد الغفور، لوسائل إعلام عربية جاء فيها أنه يجب احترام كافة الاتفاقيات المرتبطة بها مصر، وأن حزبه سيعمل على تطبيقها، مشيرا إلى أن هناك بنودا كثيرة في اتفاقية السلام مع إسرائيل لم تطبق، مثل "القضية الفلسطينية، وحق تقرير المصير، والحكم الذاتي والدولة الفلسطينية على الأرض الفلسطينية، وأمور أخرى كثيرة يجب تطبيقها لكي يشعر الشعب الفلسطيني بأن هناك فائدة من عملية السلام".
كما أشارت الصحيفة إلى تصريحات عبد الغفور والتي جاء فيها إنه لا يمكن استبعاد إعادة النظر في اتفاقية السلام مع إسرائيل، إلا أنه أكد على أن العلاقات الدبلوماسية مع إسرائيل تستند إلى مصلحة مصر والعالم العربي. وبسحبه فإنه "إذا عادت مصر دولة قوية تسيطر على اقتصادها وتسليحها ويكون لها حرية حقيقية، فإن ذلك يكفي لكي تحترمها إسرائيل.. اتفاقية كامب ديفيد بحاجة إلى إعادة النظر فيها"."
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 22 December 2011
"....But to describe the psychology that preserves such false beliefs is not to ignore the objective moral truth that no attacker can ever justly blame their victims for defending themselves.
The same distorted morality has been used to justify attacks against the native Americans, the Vietnamese, El Salvadorans, and the Afghans. It is the same story over and over again. These people have been dehumanised, their God-given right to self-defence has been delegitimised, their resistance has been reframed as terrorism, and US soldiers have been sent to kill them.
History has preserved these lies, normalised them, and socialised them into our culture: so much so that legitimate resistance against US aggression is incomprehensible to most, and to even raise this question is seen as un-American.
History has defined the US veteran as a hero, and in doing so it has automatically defined anyone who fights against him as the bad guy. It has reversed the roles of aggressor and defender, moralised the immoral, and shaped our societies' present understanding of war.
I cannot imagine a more necessary step towards justice than to put an end to these lies, and achieve some moral clarity on this issue. I see no issue more important than to clearly understand the difference between aggression and self-defence, and to support legitimate struggles. I cannot hate, blame, begrudge, or resent Fallujans for fighting back against us. I am sincerely sorry for the role I played in the second siege of Fallujah, and I hope that some day not just Fallujans but all Iraqis will win their struggle."
December 22, 2011
"(Beirut) – There is an escalating pattern of physical attacks by Egyptian military and police officers against women and male protesters, journalists, and activists in Cairo, some of which are sexual in nature, Human Rights Watch said today. News reports and images of protesters in Cairo being stripped, beaten, and dragged through the street in the past several days are just the latest incidents.
The Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the Interior Ministry should order an immediate halt to these attacks, Human Rights Watch said. The Office of the Public Prosecutor, the civilian judicial authority, should speedily, vigorously, and transparently investigate assaults on demonstrators by military and police officers and by civilians, and prosecute those responsible, to put an end to a climate of impunity for sexual crimes.
“Images of military and police who strip, grope, and beat protesters have horrified the world and brought into sharp focus the sexual brutality Egyptian women face in public life,” said Nadya Khalife, Middle East and North Africa women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The military and civilian authorities need to put a halt to criminal attacks on demonstrators once and for all.”......"
(Left: Sheikh Tantawi)
"CAIRO: Egypt’s Islamic group, the Muslim Brotherhood, and its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) confirmed their refusal to see the military relinquish power in the near future, in comments activists believe shows the conservative group is charging forward with an apparent alliance with the military junta that has been in power since February.
The Brotherhood, announced this week it would not participate in any upcoming protests in the country, arguing that the street movement is “not moving the country forward” and accused activists of attempting to make elections void.
The FJP has shown itself ready to tackle the democratic process since parliamentary elections began in late November, winning nearly half the seats thus far, preliminary election results show.
On Tuesday, as Cairo seemingly returned to calm after the military attacked a peaceful sit-in at the Cabinet building on Friday, leading to five days of clashes and at least 14 people killed and over 700 injured, the FJP rejected opposition proposals to handover power from the military.
They said they feared this would disrupt the election process, which will determine the parliament tasked to write a new constitution in January....
The Brotherhood has largely kept away from the 11 months of street action in the country, including the 18 days of protests that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak and installed the military into power.
The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) said when they took over power in February that they would remain in their position for only 6 months, but now some 11 months on from the popular uprising that began on January 25, they remain entrenched as ever in power.
Activists have repeatedly lashed out at the Brotherhood, who they accuse of complicity in the military’s violent crackdown and killing of Egyptian citizens this past week, last month, in October and since taking charge of the country.....
“It is almost funny, but too dangerous, to think that it was because we died and fought for Egypt this year that they even have a chance in politics and now they fail to support the very change that got them there. It is sad,” said Engy Mahmoud, a 29-year-old former journalist and now political activist, who said she was on the frontlines documenting the military’s injustices for the past few months.
“We want change and the Islamists are going to be happy if they can sit back and take our revolution away from us through their alliance with the military and the public, who are given lies as truth,” she added."
"CAIRO: A new Egyptian website has been launched in order to document violations of rights committed by Egypt’s military, focusing on the most recent clashes in Cairo that left at least 14 people dead and over 700 wounded in five days of fighting.
The new site, SCAFcrimes.net, aims to assist users to upload any video or image that shows violence by the armed forces in Egypt against protesters or civilians. Already, dozens of images and videos have been uploaded to the site.
“Help us Document SCAF Crimes against the Egyptian People, if you have any pictures or videos please submit them and help spread the truth!” the website says when a user attempts to upload something.
The images are already creating a stir in online networks in the country, with activists hopeful that the easy-to-use format will assist Egyptian citizens to speak out with what they are terming evidence of violations against Egyptians in the country.
Ironically, the military claimed on Monday at a press conference that protesters used “excessive force” against soldiers, who employed the utmost “self-restraint” and did “not use violence or force against protesters.”
Videos online, including on SCAFcrimes.net show uniformed soldiers throwing rocks from atop buildings toward protesters on the street below near the Cabinet building as well as numerous videos and images of soldiers attacking protesters, beating them brutally."
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Swiss Musée de l'Elysée withdraws from racist Lacoste prize (which deemed the work inappropriate for being "pro Palestinian")
Politically-charged censorship or crisis-management gone horribly wrong? The tale of Palestinian multimedia artist Larissa Sansour's dramatic removal from the shortlist of the 2011 Lacoste Elysée Prize appears to have torpedoed the French luxury-goods brand's association with Lausanne institution Musée de l'Elysée, which on Wednesday evening announced that it was immediatley cancelling its partnership to host the €25,000 photography award, now only in its second year.
"About 200 people have been killed by Syrian security forces who launched an offensive against defected troops in the northwestern opposition stronghold of Idlib.
The latest fighting has prompted the Syrian opposition to call for an emergency meeting of the Arab League.
The Syrian National Council also wants an emergency UN Security Council session to discuss what they call the Assad regime's massacres.
Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports."
"The UAE says it wants democracy, so why has it put five bloggers on trial for demanding political reform?"
"As the U.S. military leaves Iraq, the New York Times has recovered hundreds of pages of documents detailing internal interrogations of U.S. Marines over the 2005 Haditha massacre of Iraqi civilians. The documents — many marked secret — were found among scores of other classified material at a junkyard outside Baghdad as an attendant used them as fuel to cook his dinner. The documents reveal testimony of Marines describing killing civilians on a regular basis. "In some ways, this is one of the most grotesque episodes of the entire war in Iraq and I’m afraid to say this is part of our legacy," says Time magazine contributor Tim McGirk who first broke the story of Haditha in 2006. It was November 19, 2005, when a U.S. military convoy of four vehicles driving through Haditha was hit by a roadside bomb, killing Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas. The next night, Marines burst into several homes in the neighborhood, killing 24 Iraqis — including a 76-year-old man, and women and children who were still in their nightclothes when they died. "Nobody is behind bars for this," McGirk notes. Charges from the episode were dropped against six of the accused Marines, one was acquitted, and the final case is set to go to trial next year...."
"Ever since Hamas emerged victorious in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, myriad public opinion polls revealed that its popularity in the Occupied Territories was on a steady decline.
However, there are actually few indications that Hamas as a popular movement will be departing the Palestinian political landscape anytime soon....
Will Hamas manage to keep one foot in the Abbas camp, and another in its old resistance-based political program? Even for a robust and resourceful movement like Hamas, such a conundrum may prove too difficult to solve."
"نقلت "الحياة" اللندنية عن "شخصية إسلامية" رفضت كشف هويتها قولها إن العلاقات بين حركة حماس والسلطات السورية تشهد الآن توتراً شديداً بفعل الموقف من الانتفاضة السورية. وزادت أن معظم رموز الحركة باستثناء رئيسها خالد مشعل غادروا دمشق إلى دول مختلفة، وأن الشخص الثاني في قيادة الخارج موسى أبو مرزوق غادر دمشق إلى عمان، علماً أن وجود الأخير في العاصمة الأردنية مشروط بعدم قيامه بأي نشاط سياسي أو إعلامي. أما بالنسبة إلى مشعل فقرار مغادرته لم يؤخذ بعد، على رغم أن القيادة القطرية تجري محادثات مع عدد من الدول على رأسها الأردن، من أجل استقبال مشعل. لكن هناك مؤشرات قد تكون إيجابية حيال استقباله بشروط في عمان.
وحسب هذه الشخصية بدأ التوتر قبل الانتفاضة السورية عندما قدم مشعل نصيحة إلى الرئيس بشار الأسد بالمباشرة في الإصلاح، استباقاً لاحتمال انتقال الثورات العربية إلى سورية. وبعد أحداث درعا التقى مشعل قيادات سورية سياسية وعسكرية، وكرر أمامها ضرورة الإسراع في تسوية الأمر ومعاقبة المتسببين بالأحداث، فنصحوه بأن يطلب ذلك من الرئيس السوري مباشرة، فطلب موعداً لكنه لم يلقَ جواباً.
وأضافت الصحيفة، بعد ذلك قام مشعل بزيارة سرية إلى بيروت التقى الأمين العام لحزب الله حسن نصرالله، وطلب منه التدخل لنصح القيادة السورية بضرورة الاستجابة السريعة لمطالب المتظاهرين، وأبلغه أن الحركة لا تستطيع أن تقف إلى جانب النظام في سورية في ظل كل هذه الدماء المراقة.
وجاء أن نصرالله قال لمشعل إنه سيطلب موعداً مشتركاً له ولمشعل للقاء الأسد، لكن الموعد أعطي فقط لنصرالله، وكان الأخير وعده بزيارة يبلغه فيها نتائج اللقاء مع الرئيس السوري، إلا أنه غادر دمشق من دون لقائه، وأرسل إليه لاحقاً موفداً أبلغه بأن السيد حسن نصرالله أوصل رسالته إلى الرئيس.
وتابع المصدر الإسلامي أنه يبدو أن إيران دخلت على خط الضغوط على حماس، فأوقفت المساعدات المالية التي كانت تدفعها شهرياً للحركة، ما انعكس أزمة مالية في قطاع غزة. ويُعتقد بأن دولة خليجية تولت تعويض الحركة خسارتها المورد الإيراني. وتؤكد الشخصية الإسلامية أن حزب الله كان متردداً في البداية في إعلان انحياز واضح إلى النظام في سورية، لكن ضغوطاً إيرانية شديدة أدت إلى إعلان الحزب وقوفه إلى جانب النظام.
كما أكدت "الشخصية الإسلامية للصحيفة أن حركة حماس لم تأخذ بعد قراراً بانتقال مشعل من دمشق، لا سيما أن المفاوضات لاستقباله في عاصمة أخرى لم تثمر بعد، لكن وجوده مرتبط أيضاً بالوضع الأمني والشعبي في دمشق."
One important question which was, of course, not asked:
How much foreign funding does your party get and what are the sources? Saudi Arabia? The CIA? Qatar? And is this legal in the "new" Egypt? Are you required by law to disclose this?
"Emad Abdel Ghafour is head of Al Nour [Light!] party, the main Salafist party in Egypt. Al Nour came in second after the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Freedom Party with 25-30 per cent of the vote in the first two rounds of the Egyptian People’s Assembly elections.
The rise of Salafis and Al Nour came as a surprise to many especially outside Egypt. A year ago, Salafis had no political parties and hardly any political organisations. They also refrained from participating in politics and only focused on religious teachings from a conservative Islamic point of view.
Salafism as an ideology focuses on educating today’s Muslims about the teachings of the first Muslim generations, who are considered to be aware of the true instructions of the Quran and of the Prophet Mohamed.
Salafism, as a social and political movement, is considered a new phenomenon. After the 1967 war against Israel and the defeat of President Nasser’s version of socialism, Egyptian society turned into religion. Soon after, Salafism rose as a social movement. Today’s Salafis in Egypt are made of several groups focusing on teaching Islamic faith from a strict perspective that tries to follow the teaching of the first Muslim generation in literally everything, even when it comes to personal dress and appearance.
After the January 25 revolution, Salafis made a large, unexpected shift by deciding to participate in politics, in order to safe-guard the Islamic identity of the nation. They formed several political parties, with the most prominent being is Al Nour. After recent elections, where they won about one quarter of the votes, the group is considered Egypt’s second most popular political party.
Salafis and Al Nour were basically seen as an ultraconservative political group that threatened the tolerant nature of Islamic teachings in Egypt and that will isolate women, Copts, and secular groups.....
How do see the future of the Egyptian foreign policy?
Egypt is a pioneering and influential country. It has a cultural and religious leading role. It also has a central role when it comes to reaching a solution to the Middle East conflict.
Egypt, if strong, politically stable, and economically advanced, will be able to make the Israeli government reconsider its position before taking on another political adventure in the region.
A country with the cultural weight of Egypt, if it has freedom, will make Israel rush to reach a final solution [such as throwing out all Palestinians??] for the Palestinian problem and to give the Palestinian people self-rule and their own state.
Do you support the two-state solution?
We accept what Palestinians accepted and we will accept what they will accept.
Will Al Nour seek to cancel or amend the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty?
When it comes to all the agreements that Egypt has signed, we have to respect them and demand their activation. There are many articles in the peace treaty that have not been activated, such as solving the Palestinian issue, giving Palestinians the right to self-determination, self-rule, and the establishment of a Palestinian state on the Palestinian land. These are many articles which, if activated, will make the Palestinian people feel they benefitted from the peaceful process......"
For starters, the question is whether an Iran with a nuclear capability would act as a rational state. If it were impossible to deter Iran's leaders from firing nuclear bombs at Israel, since their deliberations and decisions would be irrational, a nuclear Iran would indeed pose an existential threat to Israel, one that Israel could never countenance.
Under such circumstances, there would apparently be no choice but to try to destroy Iran's nuclear program. In contrast, if we assume that the political leaders and ayatollahs in Tehran are rational, we could rely on Israel's deterrent powers and live under the shadow of an Iranian bomb
"CAIRO: A United States government official lashed out on Tuesday over an Egyptian military general calling for Egypt protesters to be thrown into “Hitler’s ovens.”
“Anti-Semitic comments are outrageous, offensive and clearly unacceptable,” Hannah Rosenthal, the US special envoy against anti-Semitism, wrote on Twitter in response to what has quickly become an international gaffe.
General Abdel Moneim Kato was addressing reporters, who criticized the military for attacking protesters, wondering why they care about a “bunch of kids who should be burned in Hitler’s ovens.”
Potential presidential candidate and human rights defender Mohamed ElBaradei condemned the statement, saying that the general should be in prison and not in power.
He wrote on his personal Twitter account, where almost half a million people follow him on the micro-blogging site, saying that the general’s “kind” should be sent to jail.
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) issued a statement condemning Kato.
“The Egyptian military should not leave its soldiers subject to directives of this official who does not hesitate to declare Nazi opinions that incite hatred and justify violence against citizens he disagrees with,” said ANHRI in their statement.
ANHRI said that anyone who makes such irresponsible remarks should be held accountable for them.
“His opinions that call for pursuing Hitler’s approach, even metaphorically, are behind the excessive and atrocious violence against Egyptian protesters, as seen in online videos and in newspapers by millions of people.
“Even if some of the protesters were at fault, or were responsible for whatever is attributed to them, the violence committed by the party entrusted to protect them cannot be justified,” the ANHRI statement continued."