Saturday, January 7, 2012

حديث الثورة - المصالحة الفلسطينية

حديث الثورة - المصالحة الفلسطينية

عزمي بشارة

Bahraini activist beaten by 'riot police'

Contributed by Haidar 

Nabeel Rajab, the head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, has been beaten and briefly detained after a march he took part in in the capital Manama was dispersed.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from his home soon after leaving the Sulaimaniya hospital, Rajab said that he was attacked after riot police charged the crowd he and other protesters hid in nearby homes. They waited for things to calm down before leaving to return to their own homes.

"Maybe 25, 30 minutes later, I went out toward my car and they found me and attacked me," said Rajab.
Multiple posts on the microblogging site featured a video of Nabeel Rajab speaking to riot police on Friday night, shortly before he was beaten and taken away.

His colleague at the rights centre, S Yousif Almuhfada, posted that Rajab had been released after being questioned by the authorities. For several hours, social media was flooded with concern and rumours about Rajab's fate.

Video: Norman Finkelstein: There was NO WAR in GAZA, it was a MASSACRE

"What happened in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead WAS NOT A WAR BUT A MASSACRE, a massacre of a defenceless, imprisoned and besieged civilian population. The IOF air assault (in the first of 3 weeks) dropped bombs around the clock hitting homes, hospitals, ambulances, UN & Red Cross outposts & compounds, schools, universities & government buildings, with the borders closed & NO WHERE in Gaza to seek refuge, "it was like shooting fish in a barrel". 1400 murdered (358 were children) with kill ratios of 4/5 being civilians + over 5 thousands seriously injured. For every israeli soldier killed (5+5 from friendly fire) 100 Palestinians were killed, for every israeli civilian killed (3) 400 Palestinian civilians were murdered. These are not the statistics of war, it was GENOCIDE PURE & SIMPLE. Those calling it a war are wittingly or unwittingly being agents of proper-gander."

Damascus ‘False Flag’ Bombing Caught on Camera

Dr. Ashraf Ezzat

"Dozens of people are reported to be dead after a blast in the Syrian capital, Damascus.Syrian state TV said at least 25 people died and 46 more were wounded in Friday’s attack which it blamed on a suicide bomber.The explosion, which targeted the central district of al-Maidan, a hub for anti-government protests, was described by the opposition as a government plot.Syrian television showed residents and paramedics carrying human remains, holding them up for the camera.

Other footage showed a police bus with blood on its seats and cars with blown-out windows and riddled with shrapnel… But damn it all, the whole scheme could have gone perfect hadn’t it been for this blooper.

The whole fake scenario for yet another alleged al-Qaeda style attack was going smoothly and as planned … except for this footage, the first to show on the Syrian state TV, where the ardent, but rather uninformed, camera man caught the hands of Syrian government agents while randomly placing plastic bags stuffed with blood & human remains ready to be burst open on the ground of the crime scene.

Yes indeed, there is no such thing as "the perfect crime"

But that was a close one. Better luck next time Assad’s guys."

Al-Jazeera Video: Scores more soldiers defect from Syrian army

Al-Jazeera Video: More soldiers defect from the Syrian army

"A senior military officer in the Syrian city of Hama has defected along with up to 50 of his soldiers, in protest of the government's ten-month crackdown on peaceful protests that has claimed thousands of lives across the country.

Colonel Afeef Mahmoud Suleiman announced his defection live on Al Jazeera's Arabic news channel on Saturday.

Suleiman is from the Syrian air force logistics division. He said he and his men had taken on a new mission to keep protesters in Hama safe during demonstrations."

Relations with Israel could help Pakistan, says former president Musharraf. I Am Sure Saudi Arabia Approves.

In his first interview with an Israeli newspaper, former president Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan tells Haaretz about Pakistan-U.S. relations, Iran's nuclear ambitions, and how he would solve the Arab-Israeli conflict


The shocking truth that killing can be so casual

By Robert Fisk

".... British soldiers, American soldiers, "Allied" soldiers, have done dreadful deeds – in the Second World War, Korea, Malaya, Dutch-ruled Indonesia, Algeria and yes, Afghanistan and Iraq. And their cruelty was part of a culture of impunity and colonialism and government-inspired racism – it did not emerge from the fraudulent "few bad apples" nonsense parroted by George W Bush and Lord Blair of Isfahan....

But even this explanation is not good enough. Surely the experience of the past decade is that we can encourage, empower and facilitate others to perform awful deeds without taking moral responsibility. No, not on a Nazi scale. But rendition, secret black prisons, mass torture, executions by our allies (in Afghanistan, for example, suffocation to death, electrodes on the genitals in Morocco, sustained torture in Damascus on CIA instructions or in Libya with British collusion). We may no longer be capable of doing these things ourselves. International law – or what is left of it after the criminality of Bush and Blair – still prevents us turning into Nazis. But it doesn't stop us from turning others into Nazis. And I fear that we do sleep soundly.

After all, it's one thing to hold out the hand of human friendship to Muslims – as Barack Obama did in Cairo two years ago – and to opponents of dictatorship; but quite another to supply the dictators with weapons. In Cairo this month, I was shown the cartridge cases of the latest gas grenades to be fired by police thugs at protesters around Tahrir Square – manufactured in 2003, thus long expired – blinding some and killing others, and on the side of each is written: "3231 37/38 MM RIOT CS SMOKE PROJECTILE RANGE 150 YDS (136 METER), COMBINED TACTICAL SYSTEMS 388, KINSMAN ROAD, JAMESTOWN PA (Pennsylvania) 16134 DO NOT FIRE DIRECTLY AT PERSON(S) SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH MAY RESULT. MADE IN USA.'

Come to think of it, that might have been Obama's real speech to the Muslims of the Middle East. And do the lads and lasses who work at 388 Kinsman Road, Jamestown, PA, sleep soundly at night? Of course."

Syria: Comply With Agreement

Arab League Should Set Clear Conditions for a Credible Mission
January 6, 2012

"(New York) – The Syrian government should comply with all the terms of its agreement with the Arab League, Human Rights Watch said today ahead of a January 8, 2012 meeting of the Arab League to discuss its monitoring mission in Syria.

The Arab League should declare that if Syria fails to take the repression-ending measures it agreed to and continues to impede the monitoring mission, the League will urge the United Nations Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Syria and sanctions against the individuals responsible for grave violations.

Syria seems determined to subvert Arab League efforts to end the repression,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The Arab League needs to draw clear lines regarding the Syrian government’s responsibilities under the agreement and the conditions that need to be met for its monitors to do their essential work.”

In the agreement it signed with the Arab League on December 19 the Syrian government pledged to end violence against peaceful protests, release detained protesters, withdraw armed elements from cities and residential areas, and allow Arab and international media unhindered access to all parts of Syria. Syria also pledged in the agreement to grant Arab League monitors unhindered and independent access to all individuals they wish to interview to verify Syria’s implementation of these measures, including victims, detainees, and nongovernmental organizations. Syria guaranteed the safety of witnesses from reprisals....."

Arab League should clarify human rights situation in Syria

Amnesty International
6 January 2012

"A meeting of the Arab League in Cairo this Sunday should provide a key opportunity to clarify ongoing allegations about serious human rights violations in Syria, Amnesty International said today.

Ahead of the meeting, numerous Syrian human rights activists have told Amnesty International that grave human rights concerns remain despite the presence of an Arab League observer mission in the country since 26 December 2011.

These include the Syrian security forces’ apparent killings of scores of protesters and other individuals since the observers arrived – Amnesty International has the names of 134 people killed in this way since the observer mission began, but the actual figure may be considerably higher.

Many more have been arrested for their real or suspected involvement in the pro-reform movement, while the Syrian authorities have failed to release thousands of others similarly detained.....

“By their mere presence in Syria, the Arab League’s observer mission has given encouragement to the protesters to return to the streets in larger numbers and given more visibility to human rights concerns, but robust action is now needed to stop the violence,” - Ann Harrison, Interim Deputy Programme Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International......"

Iranian ayatollah says Facebook un-Islamic, membership a sin

Bikya Masr

"Tehran (dpa) – An Iranian ayatollah has said that the social networking service Facebook was un-Islamic and being a member of it a sin, the ISNA news agency reported Saturday.

In Iran, it is common for senior clerics to be asked about their stance on certain social issues and whether these issues are compatible with Islamic norms.

Their answers are regarded as a form of decree.

ISNA on Saturday broadcast coverage of the response of Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi-Golpaygani, a senior cleric, to the question about Facebook and Iranian membership in the social networking service.

“Basically, going to any website which propagates immoralities and could weaken the religious belief is un-Islamic and not allowed, and membership in it is therefore haram (a sin),” the ayatollah replied...."

Obama vows to protect Copts, urges Egypt to respect all faiths. What a Charlatan and a Fraud!

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"US President Barack Obama called Friday for the protection of Copts and other minorities as the Christian group celebrated its first post-revolution Christmas in Egypt.

"I want to reaffirm the commitment of the United States to work for the protection of Christian and other religious minorities around the world," he said in a statement on the occasion of Coptic Christmas.

He urged "Egypt and elsewhere" to respect all faiths, including the Coptic...."

Worshipers chant until Moussa leaves Tahrir Square mosque

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"Presidential hopeful and former Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa left Friday prayers near Tahrir Square after worshipers chanted until he left.

Some minor altercations broke out at Omar Makram mosque, which is located in Tahrir square, between worshipers supporting and opposing Moussa's presence.

Opponents of Moussa's presidential bid often accuse him of being associated with the former regime of President Hosni Mubarak.

The imam of the mosque, Mazhar Shahin, angered many after welcoming Moussa to Friday prayers. One person shouted through a loudspeaker: “We will not welcome the remnants of the former [Mubarak] regime who corrupted Egypt during his rule.”

Moussa's opponents stood in front of the mosque and chanted, “Down with military rule,” “Down with the remnants [of the former regime],” and “Down, down, Amr Moussa.”

Moussa refused to comment on the incident. He left the mosque quietly and headed to Doubbara Palace church, which is located about 50 meters from the mosque, to congratulate Copts on their Christmas celebration.

Moussa served as foreign minister under Mubarak from 1991 to 2001, and then as secretary general of the Arab League from 2001 until last May.

Young activists have repeatedly protested at Moussa's campaign rallies, beginning when he announced his intention to run for president at El Sawy Culture Wheel in Zamalek last March. These disturbances eventually prompted Moussa to issue a statement in May accusing “rioters” of concocting a plan to disrupt his campaign."

Friday, January 6, 2012

Following in Arafat's Footsteps: Arab spring uprisings reveal rift in Hamas over conflict tactics

Leaders at odds over suggestion Islamist party plans strategic turn away from armed struggle to popular non-violent resistance

Harriet Sherwood in Gaza City, Friday 6 January 2012

"....Meshaal, he said, believed that in the wake of the Arab spring, armed resistance was no longer appropriate or acceptable, and that Hamas needed to review its strategy to bring it into line with populist movements in the region.

Ghazi Hamad, Gaza's deputy foreign minister and a Hamas moderate, said: "We have to create a new strategy with our brothers in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya."

According to Gaza-based analyst Ibrahim Ibrach, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood privately asked Hamas to "stop military activities and to work on politics. They want the situation to remain calm."

The "outside" leadership is thought to be more sensitive to regional change, whereas the "inside" leadership is focused on consolidating its domestic position. According to one Hamas insider, "Meshaal is trying to convince the leadership here that we have to open a new page, that isolation is a big burden."

Amid the Syrian uprising – in which Hamas has refused to back the regime, incurring the wrath of its sponsors there and in Tehran – the Damascus-based leadership is seeking a new base and may be inclined to curry favour with the politically-ascendent Islamist parties in the region....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Syria opposition calls Damascus bombing a government plot

Al-Jazeera Video: 'Dozens dead' in Damascus bombing

"Dozens of people are reported to be dead after a blast in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

Syrian state TV said at least 25 people died and 46 more were wounded in Friday's attack which it blamed on a suicide bomber.

The explosion, which targeted the central district of al-Maidan, a hub for anti-government protests, was described by the opposition as a government plot.

Colonel Riad al-Asaad, the head of the Free Syrian Army, has dismissed the government's report of the attack, saying that Friday's explosion was "the work of the regime, just like the previous two explosions."

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from the Turkish town of Antakya, near Syria's northern border."

Al-Jazeera Video: عشرات القتلى والجرحى في تفجير بحي الميدان

Real News Video: Obama and Netanayu's Push for Attack on Iran

Gareth Porter: Obama cannot keep the US out of a war if Israel strikes Iran

More at The Real News

Al-Jazeera Video: The Cafe - Tunisia: The Arab Spring's success story?

Al-Jazeera Video: Pilgrims targeted in sectarian blasts in Iraq

"At least 70 people have been killed and more than 100 others injured in multiple bomb attacks across Iraq.

Nearly all of the victims from Thursday's violence are believed to be from the country's Shia Muslim community. Among the worst incidents, at least 46 Shia pilgrims died in Nassiriya while on their way to the shrine city of Karbala.

Explosions also targeted Shia neighbourhoods in Baghdad, killing at least 24 people and leaving at least 66 others wounded.

Al Jazeera's Dahr Jamail reports from Baghdad."

Who Are the Palestinians


By Hasan Afif El-Hasan
Palestine Chronicle

Who Are the Palestinians?

They are the descendents of all the groups that inhibited Palestine since the ancient Canaanites and beyond. Palestine was successively conquered by Canaanites, Philistinians, ancient Hebrews, ancient Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, Crusaders, Ayyobies, and Turks. The groups which lived in Palestine fought, inter-married, collaborated and no group was obliterated.

We can’t explore at length several millennia of uninterrupted history of the Palestinians in one article or even in one book, but this narrative is an attempt to review some archeologists’ findings and Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic texts about the Canaanites, the first inhabitants of Palestine. Ancient Egyptians who had personal contacts with the Palestinians through commerce and military campaigns have been credited for providing partial answers to the question of who were the early Palestinians. Modern archeologists have unmasked evidence from the annals recorded on clay and early bronze pottery that Egypt was involved in Palestinian and Syrian affairs during the First and Second Egyptian Dynasties 3100-2686 B.C.....

The Palestinians today do not only have to suffer living under military occupation or as refugees, but to add insult to injury, Newt Gingrich, an American politician who will do anything including selling his soul to get a vote, said “the Palestinians are an invented people.” The archeologists’ findings and Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic texts suggest the Palestinian People existed long time before the Americas were discovered and when Newt Gingrich European ancestors were living in caves."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you support internationalizing the crisis in Syria?

With about 900 responding, 78% said yes.

Oman must not jail journalists over ‘insult’

5 January 2012

"Amnesty International has urged the Omani authorities to quash the conviction of two journalists and their source after an appeals court last week upheld a guilty verdict against all three on charges of “insulting” the country’s Minister of Justice.

Azzamn newspaper journalist Yusef al-Haj and editor-in-chief Ibrahim al-Maamary, as well as Justice Ministry employee Haroon al-Muqaibli, were sentenced to five months in prison last September in connection with an article that alleged corruption within the Ministry of Justice.

On 31 December, an appeal court in the capital Muscat upheld the sentences, along with a court order that Azzamn be closed for one month.

The charges stem from an article by Yusef al-Haj alleging that his source, Haroon al-Muqaibli, was the victim of corruption inside the Ministry of Justice. For five years Haroon al-Muqaibli was paid lower than his rank and was refused the correct wage despite his repeated complaints.

Silencing Azzamn and jailing its staff for publishing information that is in the public interest will have a chilling effect on all journalists in Oman,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa....."

Can Egypt, tourism, alcohol and bikinis survive?

By Joseph Mayton
Bikya Masr

"....Often, political analysts have pointed to the “Tahrir divide” – I’ve done it – and how their views and hopes for Egypt are not part of the mainstream and majority. While there is some truth to this argument, it fails to encompass those who went to Tahrir in January and who continue to return.

It is the middle-class. The silent majority, who when they come together and join forces with each other, can change dramatically the landscape of Egypt.

To blame for the rising diatribes on Islam, Islamists, bikinis and booze are media, who continue to press the issue, focusing on the “crazies” who tell the world Egypt wants no more bikinis, no more booze, no more tourists.

These arguments are countered by an elite upper-class who espouses a Western identity understood by most of Europe and North America. But these reports fail to discuss in detail the driving force behind Egypt’s January 25 revolution and the continued protests today: the middle-class.

This middle-class is a combination of western and Egyptian. It is a uniquely Egyptian experience that is glossed over by the international, and often the local, media. These individuals, for the most part, do not speak perfect English, are not creating buzz on social networks, but are the real engine for Egyptian society.

These mainly youthful Egyptians are growing in strength. Their fear is dissolving with time and they are at the frontlines of the “clashes” with the military and police.

At the end of the day, they are the future of Egypt and while conservative on many levels, they also head to the beach, in bikinis, drink alcohol and enjoy life. They will eventually, if the media give them a voice, be the winners of the Egyptian revolution.

We will see on January 25 if they can once more, show the world the strength of the people."

Fallujah babies: Under a new kind of siege

Doctors and residents blame US weapons for catastrophic levels of birth defects in Fallujah's newborns.

Dahr Jamail

"Fallujah, Iraq - While the US military has formally withdrawn from Iraq, doctors and residents of Fallujah are blaming weapons like depleted uranium and white phosphorous used during two devastating US attacks on Fallujah in 2004 for what are being described as "catastrophic" levels of birth defects and abnormalities.

Dr Samira Alani, a paediatric specialist at Fallujah General Hospital, has taken a personal interest in investigating an explosion of congenital abnormalities that have mushroomed in the wake of the US sieges since 2005.

"We have all kinds of defects now, ranging from congenital heart disease to severe physical abnormalities, both in numbers you cannot imagine," Alani told Al Jazeera at her office in the hospital, while showing countless photos of shocking birth defects.

As of December 21, Alani, who has worked at the hospital since 1997, told Al Jazeera she had personally logged 677 cases of birth defects since October 2009. Just eight days later when Al Jazeera visited the city on December 29, that number had already risen to 699.

"There are not even medical terms to describe some of these conditions because we've never seen them until now," she said. "So when I describe it all I can do is describe the physical defects, but I'm unable to provide a medical term."....

Even with a vast amount of anecdotal evidence, the exact cause of the health crisis in Fallujah is currently inconclusive without an in-depth, comprehensive study, which has yet to be carried out.

But despite lack of governmental support, and very little support from outside Iraq, Alani is determined to continue her work.

"I will not leave this subject", she told Al Jazeera. "I will not stop.""

الخارجية الأمريكية: الإخوان المسلمون تعهدوا باحترام اتفاقية السلام

"في حديثها مع مراسلي وكالات الأنباء، قالت الناطقة بلسان الخارجية الأمريكية فكتوريا نولاند، الليلة الماضية، إن الإخوان المسلمين في مصر تعهدوا للولايات المتحدة باحترام اتفاقية السلام الموقعة مع إسرائيل.

وقالت نولاند إن الأخوان المسلمين تعهدوا باحترام اتفاقية السلام. وردا على سؤال بشأن تصريحات أحد مسؤولي الحركة جاء فيها أن الاتفاقية لا تلزم بلاده، قالت إنه يوجد للولايات المتحدة ضمانات جيدة من عدة تيارات. وأضافت أن الولايات المتحدة تتوقع من كافة الجهات السياسية أن تلتزم بالاتفاقيات الدولية للحكومة المصرية.

وتابعت أن نائب وزيرة الخارجية الأمريكية جفري فيلتمان قد بدأ في القاهرة بسلسلة لقاءات مع جهات مختلفة تركزت على الجولة الثالثة من الانتخابات المصرية.

يذكر في هذا السياق أن نائب المرشد العام لحركة الإخوان المسلمين، رشاد البيومي، كان قد صرح لصحيفة "الحياة" قبل عدة أيام "معاهدة السلام لم نبرمها، وسنتخذ الإجراءات القانونية المحترمة تجاهها، فهى تمت بليل، ويجوز أن نعرضها على الشعب أو برلمانه المنتخب لإبداء رأيه فيها، وإن كان فيها نوع من المساس بحرية الشعب وسيادته

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sectarianism and Arab revolutions

In countries where a minority sect is in power ruling the majority sect the revolution has not succeeded (yet) and the repression was most brutal (Syria and Bahrain) . 

Countries that are homogeneous and the ruling elite and army are of the same sect as the majority of the people, the revolution succeeded (Tunis and Egypt)

Yemen , the Zaidi/Shaf'i exists, Zaidis (shia) are in power but they are not an overwhelming majority,and the sectarianism is not as extreme so the revolution is succeeding slowly. Interestingly the Houthis (shia 12ers) who fought Saleh for years have been awfully quite since the start of the Yemeni revolution.

Libya is the exception since it went through a brutal civil war and NATO intervention despite it being homogenous sect wise. 

Iran could be bluffing in the strait of Hormuz – but can US risk calling it?

With Iran's supreme leader running scared from domestic unrest, a more belligerent White House could play right into his hands

Simon Tisdall, Thursday 5 January 2012

"Tehran's vow to prevent US warships transiting international waters in the strait of Hormuz, following 10 days of provocative Iranian missile tests and naval exercises, is seen in Washington as evidence that ramped-up western sanctions are finally beginning to bite.

While this conclusion may be correct, there is always the danger of a disastrous miscalculation. Iran could be merely sabre-rattling, as American analysts suggest. But what if it is not?

Seen from Tehran, the most serious threat to the survival of the regime led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei comes from within, not without – a consideration not sufficiently understood in the west. The political establishment is riven by deep divisions, principally between economic reformers loyal to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and clerical arch-conservatives backed by the Revolutionary Guards and a wealthy, corrupt merchant class that has grown fat on the 1979 revolution.....

In other words, confident statements by the White House and state department that Iran is buckling under sanctions pressure appear to blithely ignore the possibility that the regime is being pushed into a corner from which it will come out punching, not negotiating. One result may be an acceleration of its nuclear activities – the opposite of what Obama wants. And then there is the unpredictable Gulf tinderbox. Fearing fatal insurrection at home and with their oil exports blocked, Khamenei and the mullahs, egged on by trigger-happy Revolutionary Guards, may choose to export chaos instead."

Bunga, Zenga and Bandana Narratives: 2011

Bunga bunga, zenga zenga accentuated the overall disillusionment with politicians in every corner of the world.

Larbi Sadiki

"Exeter, UK - Zenga zenga, bunga bunga!

These are words that will ring out for a long time, capturing the highs and lows of 2011. They resonate with the message of how even in this day and age checked and unchecked power can still corrupt.

But even the masters of zenga zenga, bunga bunga politics do not possess all of the keys for indefinitely locking out people power or stopping it erupt.

Simply, no narration of the year that has been can ignore these words as signifiers of opprobrium, disdain and defiance against political corruption and monopoly....

Global disillusion with politics

Bunga bunga virtually conveys the idea of the ruled being taken for a ride by the rulers. The spin, sleaze and corruption are global. The presence or absence of rule of law is what makes a difference, preventing abuse of office to fester or to be nipped in the bud and punished.

Berlusconi and Gaddafi, differently, stamped the vocation of politics with self-centrism, personalism and self-aggrandisement through hedonistic and/or dynastic tendencies.....

"The disrepute to politics from the acts of two rulers... makes 'zenga zenga bunga bunga' apt to denote misrule and its effect beyond Italy and Libya."....."

Al-Jazeera Video: US marine's trial begins in Haditha case

"After six years of delays and appeals, the last soldier of an eight-man squad of the Marine Corps accused of ambushing unarmed civilians in Iraq and killing 24 - including, men, women and children - has finally appeared in court.

With charges having been dropped for six of the soldiers and one acquitted, Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich is the only man still on trial for their alleged "revenge" killings in the city of Haditha.

But the time lapse, faded memories and lost evidence may make conviction more difficult.

Al Jazeera's Kimberly Halkett reports."

See This Video Released by WikiLeaks:
Collateral Murder - Wikileaks - Iraq

Rapid Deployment Force! By Emad Hajjaj

الخليج: حرب نفسية ام حقيقية؟

الخليج: حرب نفسية ام حقيقية؟
عبد الباري عطوان

"هناك مثل عربي يقول 'ان المجرم يظل يحوم حول مسرح الجريمة'، وهذا المثل ينطبق بطريقة او باخرى على الولايات المتحدة الامريكية، بالنظر الى تحركاتها العسكرية والسياسية الراهنة في منطقة الخليج العربي.
هناك من يجادل بان ادارة الرئيس الامريكي باراك اوباما التي تقف على ابواب معركة انتخابية شرسة مع الحزب الجمهوري المنافس، وتواجه ازمة اقتصادية خانقة لا يمكن ان تغامر بحرب جديدة في المنطقة بعد ان احترقت اصابعها وجيوبها في حربين خاسرتين في العراق وافغانستان، ولكن أليس من المنطقي القول ايضا انه ولهذه الاسباب، اي الازمة الاقتصادية والانتخابات الرئاسية قد تذهب الى الحرب؟
نشرح اكثر ونقول ان دعم اسرائيل وتلبية مطالبها في تدمير الطموحات النووية الايرانية يشكلان القاسم المشترك للحملات الانتخابية للحزبين الرئيسيين، حتى ان اكثر من مرشح رئاسي جمهوري يهدد بارسال الطائرات والصواريخ الى ايران حماية لاسرائيل لكسب ودها، واللوبي اليهودي القوي الداعم لها.
الرئيس اوباما قطع عطلة رأس السنة الميلادية، ولم ينتظر يومين، ليوقع قانونا امريكيا بفرض حظر على اي معاملات مع البنك المركزي الايراني، واصدر بيانا يؤيد فيه بشدة اتفاقا اوروبيا مبدئيا على فرض حظر على الصادرات النفطية الايرانية، وكأنه يستعجل بدء هذا الحظر، ولا يطيق الانتظار لصدوره حتى آخر الشهر.
امريكا وحلفاؤها الغربيون لا يستطيعون البقاء دون شن حروب في منطقة الشرق الاوسط، حتى انهم يخـــتلقون الاعــــذار ويهيـــئون الاسباب لانفجارها، ففي السنوات العشر الماضية خاضوا ثلاث حروب رئيسية، الاولى في افغانستان، والثانية في العراق، والثالثة في ليبيا، ويبدو ان العد التنازلي بدأ لحرب رابعة ضد ايران في الاسابيع او الاشهر المقبلة.
' ' '
هناك ثلاثة مؤشرات رئيسية كانت القاسم المشترك في جميع هذه الحروب، والمؤشر على قرب اشتعالها:
الاول: فرض مفاوضات فلسطينية ـ اسرائيلية بالقوة، للايحاء بان امريكا ملتزمة بحل هذه القضية، هكذا فعل جورج بوش الاب عندما عقد مؤتمر مدريد للسلام لتبرير حرب عاصفة الصحراء على العراق، وهكذا فعل ابنه بوش الابن عندما اطلق هذه المفاوضات وتحدث عن قيام دولة فلسطينية مرتين، الاولى بالتزامن مع حربه على الارهاب في افغانستان، والثانية قبيل احتلال العراق.
الآن، ودون اي مناسبة، وتحقق اي من الشروط او المطالب الفلسطينية بوقف الاستيطان، او الحد الادنى منها، يساق الفلسطينيون (السلطة) الى مفاوضات مع الاسرائيليين بأمر امريكي، ومبادرة اردنية، بنهايات مفتوحة، ووسط هجمات استيطانية اسرائيلية غير مسبوقة لماذا؟.. انها الاستعدادات للحرب على ايران وربما سورية وحماس وحزب الله معا.
الثاني: صفقات الاسلحة الحديثة والمتطورة الى دول الخليج والتي تصل قيمتها الى اكثر من 130 مليار دولار، وهي طائرات وصواريخ اكبر من القدرات الاستيعابية لهذه الدول، والهدف منها تسريع وتيرة الصناعات العسكرية الامريكية، وخلق مئات الآلاف من الوظائف للامريكيين العاطلين، اي تدوير غير مباشر لعوائد النفط.
الثالث: حالة السعار المتواترة لفرض حظر هنا، وحصار هناك، لخنق ايران وحلفائها اقتصاديا وتجويع مواطنيها، وعلمتنا التجارب السابقة، ان جميع الحصارات التي فرضتها امريكا انتهت بحروب مدمرة، هكذا كان الحال في العراق وليبيا وافغانستان، ولا نعتقد ان الحصار الخانق المفروض على ايران ويتعاظم شهرا بعد شهر سيكون استثناء.
نشهد حاليا حربا كلامية ساخنة محورها مياه الخليج العربي، ايران تجري مناورات بحرية وتجرب اسلحة وصواريخ حديثة متوسطة وبعيدة المدى، وترد واشنطن بتحذيرها بعظائم الامور اذا ما نفذت وعودها باغلاق مضيق هرمز، وتعتبر تهديداتها باغلاق المضيق دليل ضعف، وكأنها تستفزها لدفعها الى الاقدام على هذه الخطوة.
الادارة الامريكية التي قيل انها وضعت خططاً لشن هذه الحرب بالتعاون مع حليفتها بريطانيا تبحث عن 'المفجر'، وسواء خاضت الحرب فعلاً او كانت تهديداتها في اطار الحرب النفسية فانها الكاسب الأكبر، لانها نجحت في تصعيد مخاوف دول الخليج الصغيرة المتضخمة جيوبها وخزائنها بآلاف المليارات من الدولارات، ودفعها بالتالي لشراء الاسلحة دعماً للاقتصادين الامريكي والاوروبي المنهارين، بينما لم تقدم هذه الدول حتى الفتات للدول العربية المأزومة الخارجة من ثورات مثل مصر وتونس.
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السيدة هيلاري كلينتون مهندسة السياسة الخارجية الامريكية وحروبها الجديدة في المنطقة، تقول انها لن تسمح لايران بامتلاك اسلحة نووية حتى لا يحدث في المنطقة سباق نووي، اي ان تمتلك دول مثل مصر وتركيا والمملكة العربية السعودية رؤوساً نووية، ولكن هذه الحجة مردودة عليها فلماذا لم يحدث مثل هذا السباق عندما امتلكتها اسرائيل الاكثر خطراً على الامة العربية من ايران ومازالت تحتل ارضهم ومقدساتهم؟
نريد سباقاً نوويا في المنطقة، وهو لن يكلف عشر المبالغ المخصصة لشراء صفقات اسلحة من امريكا، علاوة على كونه سيشكل حصانة وردعاً للشعوب العربية في وجه التهديدات الاسرائيلية والايرانية معاً.
ولو كانت هناك قيادات عربية وطنية فعلاً لشجعت ايران على امتلاك اسلحة نووية من اجل ان توفر الذرائع لنفسها للسير على الدرب نفسه.
امريكا خسرت كل حروبها في المنطقة، خسرت حربها في العراق وافغانستان، وها هي تتراجع عن خطواتها السابقة وتتنصل من وضعها حركة طالبان على قائمة الارهاب، وتنفي مطلقاً انها رصدت مكافأة للقبض على الملا محمد عمر او قتله، وتبارك فتح الحركة سفارة في الدوحة لتكون محور الاتصالات معها.
وبناء على ذلك فان اي حرب قادمة لها ضد ايران لن تكون استثناء، ليس لان ايران اضخم واكثر تسليحاً، وانما لان نفس امريكا قصير ولا تستطيع الحفاظ على انتصاراتها التي تحققها لها قدراتها التدميرية العالية. ولان النتائج النهائية تأتي معاكسة تماماً لطموحاتها وأهدافها التي خاضت الحرب من اجلها.
نكره الحروب لانها لا تخلف الا الدمار والأيتام والأرامل، وجميع ضحاياها اخوة لنا ينتمون الى العقيدة نفسها، ولكن اذا خاضت واشنطن حربها الرابعة، فانها قد تكون آخر الحروب الامريكية، وربما الاسرائيلية ايضاً، فالخير قد يأتي من باطن الشر، والمقصود هنا الشران الامريكي والاسرائيلي.

THE WAR ON IRAN: The Deployment of Thousands of US Troops to Israel, The Integration of US-Israeli Command Structures

by Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, January 4, 2012

Contributed by Guest

"....Thousands of Troops to Israel

Advanced war preparations are ongoing. Barely mentioned by the Western media, although confirmed by Israeli press reports, the Pentagon is preparing to send several thousand US troops to Israel.

In the context of ongoing war preparations, these troops are slated to participate in joint US-Israeli military maneuvers in Spring 2012, described by the Jerusalem Post as "the largest-ever missile defense exercise in [Israel's] history." (emphasis added)....

Integrated US-NATO-Israel Command Structures

Pursuant to these joint US-Israel games, there are indications that the US is also planning to increase the number of American troops stationed in Israel.

Moreover, these military exercises planned for next Spring are accompanied by a fundamental shift in US-NATO-Israel command structures.

What is now unfolding at Washington's behest is an integration of US-Israel military command structures.

Washington is not a reluctant partner
, as some observers have suggested, "with the Obama administration attempting to distance itself" from an Israeli sponsored war on Iran. Quite the opposite!...."

Israeli students to get $2,000 to spread state propaganda on Facebook

By Ali Abunimah

"The National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS) has become a full-time partner in the Israeli government’s efforts to spread its propaganda online and on college campuses around the world.

NUIS has launched a program to pay Israeli university students $2,000 to spread pro-Israel propaganda online for 5 hours per week from the “comfort of home.”

The union is also partnering with Israel’s Jewish Agency to send Israeli students as missionaries to spread propaganda in other countries, for which they will also receive a stipend.

This active recruitment of Israeli students is part of Israel’s orchestrated effort to suppress the Palestinian solidarity movement under the guise of combating “delegitimization” of Israel and anti-Semitism.

The involvement of the official Israeli student union as well as Haifa University, Tel Aviv University, Ben-Gurion University and Sapir College in these state propaganda programs will likely bolster Palestinian calls for the international boycott of Israeli academic institutions......"

Military Rulers Clamp Down on Civil Society

By Cam McGrath

"CAIRO, Jan 5, 2012 (IPS) - Raids on the Cairo offices of civil society organisations accused of receiving unauthorised foreign funds are part of a wider campaign by Egypt’s ruling military council to silence its critics, say rights groups.

"The goal of this campaign is clear to everyone, which is gagging us from exposing the violations and oppressive practices which are still being committed until this moment," the Arab Network for Human Rights (ANHRI) said in a statement.

Egyptian security forces raided the offices of at least six non-governmental organisations (NGOs) last week. The operation targeted the Arab Centre for the Independence of the Judiciary and Legal Profession (ACIJLP), and the Budgetary and Human Rights Observatory (BAHRO) – two Cairo-based NGOs that were compiling evidence of corruption and rights abuses by Egypt’s military rulers.....

"It’s very clear that this is a campaign against civil society groups calling for democracy, citizenship and a civil state," he told IPS. "When (security forces) raided offices, it was these groups and not organisations receiving money from the Gulf (Arab states) that got shut down."

According to Al-Akhbar state newspaper, the Ansar Al-Sunnah Al-Mohamedeya group received over 50 million dollars from Qatari and Kuwaiti institutions since the revolution, making it the biggest recipient of foreign aid in the country. The paper alleged that the donations went to promoting the ultra-conservative Islamic Salafi movement in Egypt.

Al-Akhbar also reported that an institution created in memorial of Mubarak’s deceased grandson received nearly 15 million dollars from the United Arab Emirates and Oman. The opaque charity is believed to be controlled by the "feloul", that is, the remnants of the old regime.

El-Borai says the idea that NGOs should not be funded from abroad is absurd when the Egyptian military itself receives about 1.3 billion dollars a year in U.S. aid...."

We Are All Humanitarian Interventionists

by Philip Giraldi, January 05, 2012

".....Washington’s stewardship of much of the world after the Second World War as a continuation of the Pax Britannica has been an abysmal failure, largely because of the inability of the U.S. government to rein in and control the military-industrial complex. As a result of 9/11, latent militarism has evolved into a full-blown national security state that has global pretensions but cannot pay its utility bills. That people who call themselves progressives see America’s overseas role as a wonderful success is quite frightening, particularly as one has to suspect that it is also the type of thinking that drives the White House. Those who support an aggressive policy to give the world stability, prosperity, and liberalism should pause and consider what they are advocating. The assumption that the United States is a force for good and must promote its values worldwide is fallacious. It will inevitably lead to bankruptcy, civil disorder, and a loss of fundamental liberties at home as well as creating resentment and devastation overseas."

In Post-Gaddafi Libya, Freedom is Messy—and Getting Messier

By Tony Karon

"“I fear this looks like a civil war”, one Libyan rebel commander from Misrata told the Associated Press, in the wake of a fierce firefight between rival militia factions using heavy weapons in broad daylight in Tripoli on Tuesday. Four fighters were reportedly killed and five wounded in the clash ignited by the attempts of a Misrata-based militia to free a comrade detained by the Tripoli Military Council on suspicion of theft. But such clashes have become increasingly common in the Libyan capital over the past two months, as rival militias stake out turf in the power vacuum caused by the collapse of the Gaddafi regime. And while leaders on both sides of Tuesday’s clash were eventually able to broker a cease-fire, the deep fissures of tribe, region, ideology and sometimes even neighborhood that divide rival armed groups persist —and there’s no sign yet of the emergence of a central political authority with the military muscle to enforce its writ....."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrian opposition alleges assault in Germany

"In Germany, a member of the opposition Syrian National Council says he was attacked by agents of the Syrian goverment.

The German foreign ministry has summoned the Syrian ambassador over the assualt, which is now the subject of a police investigation.

Al Jazeera's Nick Spicer reports from Berlin."

Pounding the War Drums Against Iran


".....What worries me is that Barack Obama is so afraid of the Israeli Lobby that he will do virtually anything to secure the Jewish vote this year. Every time he is accused of being soft on Iran, he increases his anti-Iran actions another notch. It would be nice to know that he fears the American people, who are sick and tired of paying for Middle East wars, more than he does the Israeli Lobby. But the Lobby knows what the Republican Congress has learned just a couple of years ago–pressure works on our President......"

Video: إسرائيلي دبّر عملية إشعال الحرائق في تشيليAn Israeli National was Behind Forest Fires in Chile

"ألقت سلطات تشيلي القبض على شخص يحمل الجنسية الإسرائيلية اعترف بأنه دبّر عملية إشعال الحرائق التي دمرت عددا كبيرا من المنازل في تشيلي وأدت إلى تدمير أكثر من عشرة ألاف هكتار من الأراضي الزراعية.

Al-Jazeera Video: Arab observers accused of 'failing' Syria mission

Al-Jazeera Video: Arab League monitors under criticism

"The Arab League mission in Syria is coming under heavy criticism for failing to stop the government's crackdown on protesters.

The US has voiced its frustration at the pace of progress, along with Syrian activists and France.

Al Jazeera's John Terrett reports."

Real News Video: Making Music with the Revolutionary Artists Union of Egypt

Reed Lindsay continues his series of interviews with artists in Tahrir square. This was shot before the most recent military crack down.

More at The Real News

Arab League "Observers" in Syria, by Emad Hajjaj

Maliki's Iraq, by Taylor Jones

Meanwhile, in the Persian Gulf…

USS John Stennis

As the election season begins, war clouds gather
by , January 04, 2012

".....As the aircraft carrier the USS John Stennis retreated in the face of Iranian naval exercises, the Iranian chief of staff gloated:

“I recommend and emphasize to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf. I advise, recommend and warn them (the Americans) over the return of this carrier to the Persian Gulf because we are not in the habit of warning more than once.”

Bold words, backed up by very little. It turns out those supposedly “long range” missiles they test-fired to top off their recent military exercises couldn’t even reach Bahrain, let alone Israel – and were entirely the creation of Photoshop. This posturing is for domestic consumption: as the sanctions continue to bite, the regime seeks to divert popular anger over the country’s worsening economic crisis and put the full blame on the Americans (and, as always, the Brits). ....

We are at a particularly dangerous juncture. War with Iran would destroy, with one stroke, the spotty economic “recovery” and plunge world markets into chaos. Yet this grim prospect – which was the official rationale for the biggest theft bailout in history – doesn’t deter our warmongers in the least. The economic case against war with Iran should be enough to convince any rational person that peaceful engagement with Tehran is the only solution....."

The case against military intervention in Syria

The West is waiting for the chance to install pliable leaders in Syria who are aligned with their regional interests.

Marwa Daoudy

(Dr Marwa Daoudy is a lecturer at the Middle East Centre, St Antony's College, the University of Oxford.)

".....The Syrian insurrection has drawn momentum and power from its capacity over the last months to mobilise peacefully and claim ownership of the uprisings. Armed resistance could feed into official rhetorics on foreign-led insurgency. If the country was forced to accept an externally imposed no-fly zone or safe haven, the parts of the population that have so far kept away from the struggle would side with the regime in a surge of national pride and solidarity.

The best strategy would be to sustain domestic direct actions that preserve the dignity and legitimacy of the uprisings. The literature on non-violent direct action identifies a set of defensive strategies that could be effectively used: boycotts, strikes, marches, civil disobedience, public disclosure of violence and safe spaces within and outside the country (without the military enforcement needed for no-fly zones).

Inspiration can be drawn from Ghandi's movement in India, Mandela's freedom campaigns in South Africa, human rights movements in Guatemala, Argentina and Latin America, and the non-violent parts of the Palestinian Intifada. Instead of fearing the cost of change, the Syrians that are still ambivalent would realise the cost of resistance to change - in other terms, increased regional and international isolation, political chaos and economic hardship at home.

Some of these strategies have already been successfully implemented in Syria: launched on December 11, a general strike was widely followed and calls for civil disobedience were successful in leading to poor turnout at legislative elections. Recently, the general strike in the Douma quarters outside Damascus led public authorities to force shops open.

In parallel, human rights fact-finding missions would continue to be imposed on the regime to sustain international scrutiny and prevent further repression. With time, sanctions targeted at the inner circles of power, rather than the country's national economy, would impact on the regime's alternatives.

In keeping to its spirit and independence, the Syrian Revolution would remain just, powerful and legitimate. Only as such can it win the hearts and minds of all Syrians; and only as such can it lead to genuine and peaceful transition to democracy."

Obama distances US from Iran attack

By Gareth Porter
Asia Times

"WASHINGTON - United States President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are engaged in intense maneuvering over Netanyahu's aim of entangling the United States in an Israeli war against Iran.

Netanyahu is exploiting the extraordinary influence his right-wing Likud Party exercises over the Republican Party and the US Congress on matters related to Israel in order to maximize the likelihood that the US would participate in an attack on Iran.

Obama, meanwhile, appears to be hoping that he can avoid being caught up in a regional war started by Israel if he distances the United States from any Israeli attack......

Netanyahu, who makes no secret of his dislike and distrust of Obama, may hope to put Obama under maximum pressure to support Israel militarily in a war with Iran by striking during a campaign in which the Republican candidate would be accusing him of being soft on the Iranian nuclear threat.

If the Republican candidate is in a strong position to win the election, on the other hand, Netanyahu would want to wait for a new administration aligned with his belligerent posture toward Iran.
Meanwhile, the end of US Air Force control over Iraqi airspace with the final US military withdrawal from Iraq has eliminated what had long been regarded as a significant deterrent to an Israeli attack on Iran using the shortest route."

This smear against Israeli human rights activists is all too familiar

Adalah defends Palestinian rights. The European Jewish Congress attack on it reflects a wider pattern of bullying

Ben White, Wednesday 4 January 2012

"Last week, the president of the European Jewish Congress (EJC) launched an extraordinary attack on an Israeli human rights organisation, Adalah, comparing the NGO to the far-right French National Front and British National party.

Moshe Kantor, who heads the umbrella organisation for elected representatives of Europe's Jewish communities, was responding to a leaked EU document that expressed concern for Israel's treatment of Palestinian citizens (EJC declined to comment for this article). Claiming that the report had used Adalah as a source, Kantor said....

Adalah is a well-established legal rights centre in Israel that works to promote and defend the rights of Palestinian citizens ("Israeli Arabs"). It has special consultative status with the UN's economic and social council (ECOSOC), and has received funding over the years from the likes of Oxfam, New Israel Fund and Christian Aid.

Just last month, as Adalah co-founder Hassan Jabareen received an award for his work, the NGO was described by retired Israeli supreme court judge Ayala Procaccia as working "to advance human rights" with "outstanding intellectual power" and "high moral commitment".....

Kantor's comments reflect a wider pattern, where even small efforts to do something constructive about challenging human rights abuses or discriminatory practices in Israel are met with smears, bullying and over-the-top bluster.

Documenting the facts and confronting injustice has never been without consequences (particularly for Palestinians) but the climate of paranoia and retribution is steadily growing."

Egypt detains 4 activists for posters critical of military

The Pharaoh said that he wanted a pyramid built for him before he dies

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"Egyptian police detained four activists on Tuesday for putting up posters critical of the ruling military council, a step a human rights lawyer said was part of an effort to neutralize the protest movement......

The four activists were members of the April 6 Youth Movement that helped mobilize the anti-Mubarak uprising. They were detained while hanging up posters comparing heroic images of soldiers after the 1973 war with Israel with pictures of troops beating women in Cairo during protests last month, according to Amr Ezz, an April 6 organizer.....

"These are fast steps to neutralize the movements and activists which are supporting the revolution or who are calling for the continuation of the revolution starting from this coming 25 January," said Eid, whose organization is called the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.

Eid said raids last week against 17 pro-democracy and human rights groups were part of the trend....."

Brotherhood considers granting military immunity to prosecution

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"The Muslim Brotherhood is not against granting the Egyptian armed forces immunity to prosecution over the killing of protesters during December’s clashes in downtown Cairo, provided that other political forces agree with the move, said Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghazlan.

“We do not mind, so long as this facilitates the hand-over of power [to the M.B. that is!],” he said in a phone interview with the private satellite channel Dream TV on Monday.

“We should not talk of a safe departure for the military council, as this humiliates the military establishment,” he said. “We should talk about giving the military immunity.”

Asked whether such a deal with the military would be considered improper, Ghazlan said: “Choosing less damage is permissible.”

The issue of oversight over the army is a central issue in political debates......"

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Israeli companies can profit from West Bank resources, court rules

Supreme court says international law does not fit the 'reality on the ground' of long-term Israeli occupation

Harriet Sherwood in Kochav HaShachar, Tuesday 3 January 2012

"Israeli companies are entitled to exploit the West Bank's natural resources for economic gain, according to a supreme court ruling that says international law must be adapted to the "reality on the ground" of long-term occupation.

The supreme court rejected a petition brought by an Israeli human rights organisation against the quarrying of stone by Israeli companies in the West Bank. Yesh Din claimed that the quarrying was illegal under international law because it exploited the natural resources of the occupied territory for the benefit of the occupying power.

But the court ruled last week that in a prolonged occupation the economic development of the occupied territory could not be frozen indefinitely. It added that the quarrying firms were not destroying the "capital" of the West Bank's natural resources, and were providing employment to Palestinians [Is this not nice and charitable on the part of the occupying power??]......"

SCAF's Chinese surprise in 2012

The recent Egyptian crackdown on American NGOs may be a sign to the Americans that its foreign aid is replaceable.

By Mark LeVine

".....As of the time of writing, the answer seems, predictably, that the Brotherhood is throwing its lot squarely in with SCAF. In interviews with the Egyptian media, senior representative Rashad al-Bayoumi declared his support [ARABIC] for prosecuting human rights groups on the grounds of their alleged support from and for foreign, sectarian and even secular interests, while media spokesman Mahmoud Ghazlan declared support [ARABIC] for amnesty for SCAF (but not necessarily lower level and thus expendable officials) for the crimes it has committed against Egyptian citizens. Such positions will only alienate the Brotherhood from the core activist movements behind the revolution, a move which could come back to haunt the movement - and the religious parties more broadly - once the true nature of the new/old system becomes apparent to the broad swath of Egyptian society.
Revolutionary redux?

One thing is for sure, as January 25 and then February 11 rapidly approach: the likelihood for another, potentially bloody showdown between the activist movements who started the revolution and SCAF remains high. If the Islamists who are the new political elite choose power over principle and refuse to support the revolution, the army might be able to crush the pro-democracy movement in Egypt for the time being, enabling the elections to "democratically" establish a government that continues the status quo.

But in the long (and perhaps not so long) run, Egyptian society will understand that the new political elite has merely become part of the old system of repression and corruption, rather than being the "solution" they portrayed themselves as being. If despite all the attempts to repress them the liberal, revolutionary and labour movements who sparked and guided the initial stage of the revolution can penetrate more deeply into Egyptian society in the interim, they will be well placed to shape the next phase of Egypt's political transformation when the realities of SCAF and the emerging political system become impossible to obscure, not merely in Cairo or Alexandria, but across the whole of Egypt."

Seven years after sieges, Fallujah struggles

With their city largely destroyed by two US military assaults, residents of Fallujah continue to suffer.

Dahr Jamail

"Fallujah, Iraq - Fallujah still bears the scars of war; skeletons continue to be pulled from the rubble of bombed buildings, and, worse, rates of birth defects and childhood malformations have skyrocketed.

There is evidence of reconstruction, but shortages of electricity and clean water remain prevalent. The overall mood in the city is one of anger, hopelessness, and fear....

Resistance continues

Contributing to instability in the city are armed groups that continue to operate inside and outside the city.

In 2004 Fallujah became known as the city of resistance, since for a time it was the only unoccupied place in Iraq. Residents and resistance fighters fought hard during the two US sieges to defend their homes and their cities, causing Fallujah to be seen throughout much of the region as a symbol of resistance to American hegemony.

A resistance fighter who asked to be referred to as Ahmed said his movement is growing in Fallujah. He said it will continue to launch attacks against the on-going US presence in Baghdad.

Ahmed, who fought against occupation forces during both of the US attacks on Fallujah in 2004, said that resistance continues because "what the Americans left us is an Iranian occupation".

"We learned not to trust the words and promises of the Americans," he said. "They say they left, but have over 10,000 people at their embassy. This means they have not left our country."....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Egyptians hope to reap rewards from long-awaited vote

"Egyptians are voting in the third and final round of parliamentary elections.

In Mahalla, an industrial city that saw some of the first protests against the rule of former president Hosni Mubarak, election banners and posters drape the main square.

The last time people in the city voted - just over a year ago - Mubarak's security forces did everything they could to keep him in power, including closing polling stations and beating and accosting those who tried to monitor the process.

Now with this election, the people of Mahalla feel they are beginning to reap the first rewards of the January 25 revolution.

Al Jazeera's Jamal Elshayyal reports from Mahalla."

Al-Jazeera Video: Arab League says 'killings continue' in Syria

"The head of the Arab League has called on Syria to stop snipers loyal to the government from shooting at civilians.

Nabil El-Araby said heavy artillery and tanks have been moved out of the cities. But activists say protesters are still being targeted.

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra has been monitoring events from neighbouring Turkey."

Real News Video: Women Fight Religious Segregation in Israel

Secular vs religious tensions rise as women fight segregation in Jewish Halacha law

More at The Real News

Egyptian Supreme Council of Armed Forces and Virginity Tests, by Khalil Bendib

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

While America shuts down fire houses, cuts infant nutrition, US subsidizes Israel army sushi courses

By Ali Abunimah

"There’s an astonishing piece of news in Israel’s Haaretz today under the headine “Israel allocates funds to help former IDF soldiers become sushi chefs”:

Demobilized soldiers will be able to study Asian cooking this year at the government’s expense, as part of an effort to reduce the number of foreign workers employed as cooks in Asian restaurants by training Israeli professionals to replace them.

It’s shocking for two reasons – one is the xenophobia that is rising to astonishing heights in Israel: not even the cooks of foreign cuisine can be foreign (I’ll come back to this) – but because of what it says about how Israel is using US military aid at a time of drastic cuts and austerity for American citizens. Haaretz says:

The cooking courses are estimated to cost about NIS 4.5 million a year, about NIS 1 million of which will come from the Defense Ministry budget.

That’s a few hundred thousands dollars – small change in the grand scheme of things – but not for the Israeli soldiers who will enroll in the course:
Six courses are scheduled for this year in the north, center and south, with a minimum of 25 students in each course.
Some recently demobilized soldiers taking the course may receive aid for housing and living expenses for the first few months. Though the NIS 30,000 tuition [about $8,000] is fully subsidized, students will have to pay NIS 1,800 each for clothing and equipment.

Is this what US aid is being used for?....."

Islamist Parliament Inevitable ‘But Not Worrying’

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

"CAIRO, Jan 2, 2012 (IPS) - Following another Islamist landslide in the second round of legislative polling, Egypt's first post-Mubarak parliament will likely see Islamist parties - especially the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) - calling the shots. While high-profile secular figures warn of looming "theocracy", many local analysts believe an Islamist-led parliament won't make any radical legislative changes....."

Mubarak charges may be dropped

"SPECULATION is reportedly mounting that charges against ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak could be dismissed as his trial resumes in Cairo.

Mubarak, 83, is charged with corruption and involvement in the deaths of more than 800 protesters during the uprising that toppled his 29-year regime last year.

His sons Gamal and Alaa are simultaneously on trial, as are Mubarak's former security chief and six top police commanders, charged with giving orders to kill protesters in Tahrir Square during the 18-day uprising, during which about 850 people were killed and more than 1000 injured..

Egyptian prosecutors are preparing to present their final arguments at a court in Cairo.

The ailing former leader was brought by helicopter to the Cairo courthouse from a hospital where he is held in custody, and was carried into the courthouse on a stretcher.

The Associated Press reported that the recent acquittal of policemen tried in the killings of protesters could be a prelude to Mubarak's acquittal:

Another Cairo court on Thursday acquitted five policemen of charges of killing five protesters in the capital's el-Sayedah Zeinab district during the January 25-February 11 uprising. The court said three of the defendants were not at the site of the killings while the other two fired on protesters in self-defence.

Lawyers for families of protesters killed say they fear rulings last week will lead to Mubarak's acquittal and have also unsuccessfully sued to have presiding judge Ahmed Refaat and the two other judges, whom they claim are compromised, replaced, according to The Egyptian Gazette, cited by UPI......"

Al-Jazeera Cartoon: Arab League Observers in Syria

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you support the criticism levelled at the observers of the Arab League in Syria?

With about 100 responding (it is early), 88% said yes.