Saturday, February 18, 2012

Syrian forces fire on mourners near Assad's palace

Thousands protest at funeral of three young people killed by government loyalist troops


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"Syrian security forces fired live rounds and tear gas at thousands of people marching Saturday in a funeral procession that turned into a protest in Damascus, killing at least one person, activists said. It was one of the largest demonstrations in the capital since the 11-month uprising against President Bashar Assad began....."

Video: Syria - Damascus Rises Against Assad! 100,000 Protest in Mezze - 2-18-12

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrians divided on the way forward

"Protests were held in many locations across Syria on Friday, including in the central Damascus district of Mazzeh. But the opposition remains divided.
Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reports."

Q&A: Nir Rosen on Syrian sectarianism

Journalist who recently spent time with Syria's diverse communities describes growing divides in society.

"Journalist Nir Rosen recently spent two months in Syria. As well as meeting members of various communities across the country - supporters of the country's rulers and of the opposition alike - he spent time with armed resistance groups in Homs, Idlib, Deraa, and Damascus suburbs. He also travelled extensively around the country last year, documenting his experiences for Al Jazeera.

This is the third in a series of interviews he gave to Al Jazeera since his return. Catch up by reading his comments on Syria's armed opposition and the country's protest movement.

Al Jazeera: Was Syria divided along sectarian lines before protests began?....

AJ: Has this changed during the uprising?

Since the crisis started, sectarian fears have grown. The security crackdown and the loyalty most Alawites have to the regime have also increased anti-Alawite sentiment. The security forces, those shooting, arresting, abusing and killing citizens - opposition activists or even random Sunni citizens - speak with Alawite accents, say the opposition......

Interestingly, anti-Shia feelings among the opposition are more predominant than anywhere I have ever been, even though there are few Shia in Syria. This is mostly a response to the support, whether material or rhetorical, that the regime receives from Lebanon’s Hezbollah and from Iran - and the betrayal many Sunni opposition supporters feel over Hezbollah's siding with Assad.

AJ: Is the opposition making efforts to prevent sectarian strife?.....

AJ: Do religious minorities participate in protests?....

AJ: Does Islam play a role in the uprising?

Undeniably, Islam is playing a role in the revolution. The majority of Syria’s population is Sunni Muslim - and so are most of the opposition.....

AJ: Are Islamist movements influential in Syria?

The regime and its supporters describe the opposition, especially the armed opposition, as Salafis, Jihadists, Muslim Brotherhood supporters, al-Qaeda and terrorists. This is not true. The Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood ideologies are not important in Syria and do not play a significant role in the revolution.....

AJ: What role do mosques and religious sheikhs play?.....

AJ: Do you predict a deepening sectarian divide?

The longer the conflict drags on, the more likely it is to devolve into a battle of Sunni militia fighting Alawite militia. Both sides will become further radicalised as fear of extermination will likely lead to pre-emptive attacks and then revenge attacks.

The opposition has failed to reassure Alawites that they have a safe future in a post-Assad Syria. Most Alawite homes have somebody working in the security forces and they are also disproportionately represented in other government jobs. They fear collective punishment and losing their jobs. If the regime collapses, many will flee back to the mountain or coastal villages they came from.

At the same time, Sunni residents who are a minority in parts of Latakia, especially in the mountain villages, may also face displacement. I believe a civil war is inevitable.

The insurgents will carve out more autonomous zones and those pockets of pro-regime supporters, especially if they are Alawite, will fight or flee. I already know of many Christians and Alawites who have fled from Homs. Alawite neighbourhoods in Homs or Damascus associated with the security forces may be subject to revenge attacks.

Members of the security forces might choose to stay in their villages or neighbourhoods out of self-defence and parts of Syria will be caught up in sectarian conflict."

عن شرعية تمثيل منظمة التحرير للفلسطينيين


لا تمثيل حقيقيا للشعب الفلسطيني

لا يمكن الادعاء اليوم وفي ظل المتغيرات عن وجود تمثيل حقيقي للشعب الفلسطيني، ولا يمثل دخول حماس والجهاد الإسلامي للمنظمة شرعية حقيقية للمنظمة، بل يزيد من واقع أنها منظمة الفصائل المنضوية.

إن التمثيل الحقيقي للشعب الفلسطيني لا يكون إلا عبر صناديق الاقتراع، عبر انتخابات حرة نزيهة تشمل أبناء الشعب الفلسطيني في كافة أماكن وجودهم دون استثناء، في الضفة الغربية وغزة والقدس، في مخيمات اللجوء، في الشتات، وفي فلسطين المحتلة عام 1948، وبآليات تناسب هذا التنوع والتوزع.

أما التعذر باستحالة تحقيق ذلك فهو أمر مردود عليه، وتسقطه حقيقة انتخابات العراقيين في كل أماكن وجودهم، وسهولة التواصل والتصويت حتى عبر التقنيات الحديثة.

بدون انتخابات لا يحق لأحد الادعاء بتمثيل الشعب الفلسطيني، أو اتخاذ القرارات نيابة عنه، ومن غير المقبول استبدال دكتاتورية اسمها منظمة التحرير مارست التفرد والإقصاء لعقود من الزمان، بدكتاتورية أخرى تحت أي مسمى كان.

الأهم أن من يمنح الشرعية هو الشعب، ومن يسحبها هو الشعب، والمنظمة أو غيرها ليست كياناً مقدساً فوق الشعب وفوق حقوقه وثوابته، وكما قبلها الشعب بعد أن فرضت عليه، يستطيع أن يرفضها طالما بقيت منظمة للتفريط والتمرير، والكيانات وجدت لتخدم قضية الشعب لا أن تتنازل عن حقوقه وثوابته.

إن منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية بشكلها الحالي لا تمثل الشعب الفلسطيني، ولا يحق لها التحدث باسمه أو اتخاذ القرارات باسمه.

Officials: US drones monitoring clashes in Syria

By staff, NBC News and news services

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""A good number" of unmanned U.S. military and intelligence drones are operating in the skies over Syria, monitoring the Syrian military's attacks against opposition forces and innocent civilians alike, U.S. defense officials tell NBC News' Jim Miklaszewski.

The officials said this surveillance is not in preparation for U.S. military intervention. Rather, the Obama administration hopes to use the overhead visual evidence and intercepts of Syrian government and military communications in an effort to "make the case for a widespread international response," the officials told Miklaszewski.

Unlike in Libya, there has been no widespread international support for military intervention in the country. And while there has been some discussion among White House, State Dept. and Pentagon officials about possible humanitarian missions, U.S. officials fear that those missions could not be carried out without endangering those involved and would almost certainly draw the United States into a military role in Syria."

- Fallujah, Iraq : thousands of Iraqis demonstrate against Assad

Feb 17, 2012 - Fallujah, Iraq: Massive demonstration in support of the Syrian revolution

Al-Jazeera Video: تظاهر آلاف السوريون بحي المزة

‘How much blood must we pay before the world helps?’

"In his shocking report from the border with Syria, Amnesty International’s Researcher Neil Sammonds reveals the extent of the torture experienced by those arrested in Syria – treatment reaching unprecedented levels of brutality.

In his hospital bed in al-Ramtha, a few kilometres from the border with Dera’a governorate in Syria, Abu Suhaib tells me how two days ago he and most of the men of al-Taibe had fled the town as the Syrian army were closing in....

With the regime’s noose on Dera’a tightening, dozens have been killed in the last week, their homes looted for money, jewellery, computers; generators vandalized.

Yet as Abu Suhaib said: “I’ve seen many beside me be shot and killed but I’m not afraid of dying. What I fear is being arrested.”

First-hand testimony of torture from the Syrians I met this week in al-Ramtha, Irbid and Amman helps explain why.

Being beaten badly for long periods again and again over days or weeks is commonplace.

The punches, kicks, stamping, and beatings with metal rifle butts, sticks or cables are so commonplace they are barely commented on, even though they sometimes produce life-threatening wounds....

As shocking as any I’ve heard in my nine years working on Syria at Amnesty International is the treatment meted out to Jihad Ahmed Diab, a 34-year-old clothes shop worker from Dera’a city.

Arrested last December, he was, like many, subjected to extremely cramped conditions, with 32 men in a 6m by 6m cell, electrocuted several times, and left hanging and sometimes violently beaten in the shabeh position.

Also, like many, he had his religious beliefs denigrated by the security guards.

“The head of the branch [name withheld] brought me a picture of Bashar al-Assad while I was in the torture room. ‘He is your god’, he said. ‘There is only one god who is Allah’, I said, and ripped the picture out of his hands.”

“For this, he kicked me all the way down two flights of stairs.” Jihad unwrapped the bandage around his left hand and continued to the more shocking part. “He then ordered that I be restrained in the crucifix position, and have a piece of dynamite the size of a pen tied to my left palm. ‘Boom’, it exploded and half my hand blew off. Blood flowed everywhere.”....."

Egypt’s 6th of April calls for recognizing Syria opposition, ousting ambassador

Bikya Masr

"CAIRO: Egypt’s 6th of April Youth Movement demanded that Egypt’s Parliament recognize the opposition Syrian National Council and for Cairo to expel the Syrian Ambassador to Egypt in order to give a strong impetus to the Syrian revolution, which “is [being] faced with a group of Bashar Al Assad`s murderous mercenaries, like other corrupt Arab leaders the blood, amid the silence of neighboring countries” the movement said on Friday.

It comes as hundreds of Syrians have been killed in recent weeks as Damascus continues to shell civilian populations across the country, despite international condemnation of their actions.

The Egyptian youth movement said in a statement on Friday that “all the Arab leaders are corrupt and murderers who loot the money of their countries and kill its citizens, then smile for the cameras and talk about reforms,” stressing that “the times of dictatorship will be gone, and there will come a day that the sun of the Arab Spring would shine all over the region.”

According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, more than 7,200 Syrians have been killed by Assad’s security and military forces since an uprising began in March of last year demanding change and democracy."

Yemen Noble Peace Prize winner Tawakkul Karman targeted by al-Qaeda

Bikya Masr

"SANA’A: Yemeni activist and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkul Karman told the press that she was being targeted by Ansar al Shariah, a group linked to al-Qaeda, which operates in the southern provinces of Yemen.

The group, which calls for Yemen to operate under strict Islamic rules allegedly sent Karman several threatening text messages, accusing her of apostasy and informing her that she had been condemned to death for her crimes.

Karman, who is a member of the al-Islah party, Yemen’s Islamist political faction, has been criticized for advocating for women in the country to take charge of their lives and become active participants of public life. The move was understood by many conservatives as a critique of Islamic traditions and an attack against Yemeni family values.

“Women are the pillars of society and their duties are first to their children and husband. I don’t see how running for public office and meddling with men is helping anyone. Karman is leading women on the wrong path, she wants to westernize our wives and daughters and this is wrong,“ said one Salafist, an ultra-conservative Sunni Muslim.

Despite her popularity amongst revolutionaries, many politicians are tiring of Karman’s taste for controversy and her outspokenness, but most importantly it is perhaps her recent admission that she was considering running for the presidency that hit a nerve.

The government refused to comment on incident."

Iranian naval ships enter Mediterranean via Suez

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"Two Iranian naval ships have sailed through Egypt's Suez Canal into the Mediterranean, in a move likely to be keenly watched by Israel.

"Two Iranian ships crossed through the Suez Canal (on Thursday) following permission from the Egyptian armed forces," a source in the canal authority said on Friday.

The destroyer and a supply ship could be on their way to the Syrian coast, the source added. Iran and Syria agreed to cooperate on naval training a year ago, and Tehran has no naval agreement with any other country in the region.

Two Iranian warships sailed along the strategic waterway on 17 February last year, in a move that Israel called a "provocation."

Syria and Iran are hostile to Israel.

Egypt's military, which has a close defence ties with the US, has been governing the country since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak a year ago.

The Suez Canal cuts through Egypt and allows shipping to pass from the Middle East to Europe and vice versa, without going around southern Africa."

Video: Interview with @austingmackell

From Hossam El-Hamalawy

"Released Australian journalist Austin G Mackell speaks about his ordeal with the Egyptian police and military, while reporting on the labor movement in Mahalla. "

Al-Jazeera Video: Yemeni protesters feel revolution being stolen

"Yemen is preparing for its first presidential elections since the downfall of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Only one man is running and that is Saleh's Vice President, Abed Raboo Mansour Hadi.

Some protesters feel they are being robbed of the achievements of their revolution.

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra reports from the Yemeni capital Sanaa."

طائرات أمريكية بدون طيار تحلق في الأجواء السورية


"نقلت شبكة "أن بي سي" صباح اليوم، السبت، عن مصادر أمنية أمريكية قولها إن عدة طائرات أمريكية بدون طيار تحلق في الأجواء السورية، بذريعة "متابعة الهجمات التي يشنها الجيش السوري على المعارضة والمدنيين".

ونقل عن المصادر الأمنية قولها إن الحديث لا يجري عن استعدادات لعملية عسكرية تقوم بها الولايات المتحدة في سورية. وأنه من الممكن أن يكون الهدف هو جمع أدلة على نشاط الحكومة السورية، واعتراض رسائل ترسل من دمشق، وذلك بهدف جمع شهادات ضد النظام السوري لتجنيد رد فعل دولي واسع.

وادعت المصادر ذاتها أن الولايات المتحدة تدرس إمكانية "إرسال مساعدات إنسانية للمدنيين في سورية"، بيد أن الولايات المتحدة تخشى إرسال طواقم إلى سورية وتعريض المبعوثين للخطر، الأمر الذي قد يؤدي إلى تدخل عسكري أمريكي

Bahrain: Audacity of hope

People & Power revisits activists featured in an earlier film and hears tales of arrests and torture but also of hope.


"In mid February 2011, pro-democracy activists in the Gulf state of Bahrain took to the streets of the capital Manama in an attempt to win the kind of dramatic results achieved by their counterparts in Egypt and Tunisia. At first the demands of this predominantly Shia-led group were for constitutional reform and a reduction of the powers of King Hamad and the ruling Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty. But opinion soon hardened into calls for the end of the monarchy when seven demonstrators were killed during a police action at Manama's Pearl Roundabout.

After a month of continued protests, Bahrain's government invited some 1,500 troops from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to enter the country in support of local security forces before imposing martial law and instituting a fierce crackdown. Hundreds of activists were arrested; many were beaten and tortured in detention. Medical staff at the island's main Salmaniyya Hospital, where many injured protestors were treated and where demonstrators gathered after Peal Roundabout was cleared, were also targeted for arrests - and many of them subsequently received long prison sentences for their alleged complicity in plots to overthrow the government.....

The struggle goes on

For the February 14 movement at large the struggle goes on. With Bahrain's major opposition parties effectively marginalised during the crackdown, the movement became the main focus for popular dissatisfaction with the al-Khalifa dynasty. In recent weeks, as the anniversary of the uprising (reflected in February 14th's name) drew near, activists were again back on the streets demanding change, in some case violently. Last month King Hamad instituted some modest constitutional reforms, but judging from the massive police presence in Manama this week few doubt the matter will be settled any time soon.

As Bahrain's justice minister Khalid bi Ali al-Khalifa told People & Power recently: "Security of people is the main concern. We know exactly that the use of molotovs and blocking of roads will lead to more aggravating circumstances."

But for Sayed Ahmed and other activists, the hope inspired by last year's events still shines brightly. Driving around Manama a few weeks ago he passed the spot where the iconic Pearl Monument used to stand. A focus for protestors, it was demolished during the crackdown.

"Look what they've done to it," he said. "But it will be built again when we win. They can destroy that but not the freedom in our hearts.""

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you think that the military option is likely in dealing with Iran if the negotiations between the West and Iran fail?

With about 200 responding, 52% said yes.

Friday, February 17, 2012

GRAPHIC: Massacre in Idlib by Assad death squads

Amnesty to Israel: End use of administrative detention Amnesty to Israel: End use of administrative detention Amnesty to Israel: End use of administrative detention

Submitted by Jalal Abukhater on Fri, 02/17/2012 - 17:56

Amnesty International has launched an appeal calling on the Israeli Minister of Defense to:
  1. Immediately release Khader Adnan and other Palestinians held in administrative detention, or immediately charge and try them for internationally recognizable criminal offences in full conformity with international fair trial standards;
  2. End the use of administrative detention, which violates the right to a fair trial;
  3. Ensure that detainees are treated humanely at all times, and that no detainees are punished for their decision to go on hunger strike.
Amnesty has previously called on Israel to immediately release or try Khader Adnan as he continues his hunger strike.
Amnesty’s statement also states:
Administrative detention is a procedure under which detainees are held without charge or trial for periods of up to six months, which can be renewed repeatedly. Under administrative detention, detainees’ rights to a fair trial as guaranteed by Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) are consistently violated. 
Khader Adnan is one of 309 Palestinians currently held in administrative detention by the Israeli authorities, including one man held for over five years and 24 Palestinian Legislative Council members. Hundreds of other Palestinian detainees and prisoners have joined Khader Adnan’s hunger strike.

US officials believe Iran sanctions will fail, making military action likely

• Growing view that strike, by Israel or US, will happen
• 'Sweet spot' for Israeli action identified as September-October
• White House remains determined to give sanctions time

Chris McGreal in Washington, Friday 17 February 2012

"Officials in key parts of the Obama administration are increasingly convinced that sanctions will not deter Tehran from pursuing its nuclear programme, and believe that the US will be left with no option but to launch an attack on Iran or watch Israel do so.

The president has made clear in public, and in private to Israel, that he is determined to give sufficient time for recent measures, such as the financial blockade and the looming European oil embargo, to bite deeper into Iran's already battered economy before retreating from its principal strategy to pressure Tehran.

But there is a strong current of opinion within the administration – including in the Pentagon and the state department – that believes sanctions are doomed to fail, and that their principal use now is in delaying Israeli military action, as well as reassuring Europe that an attack will only come after other means have been tested....

Obama is also under domestic political pressure from Republican presidential contenders, who accuse him of vacillating on Iran, and from a Congress highly sympathetic to Israel's more confrontational stance.

Thirty-two senators from both parties introduced a resolution on Thursday rejecting "any policy that would rely on efforts to 'contain' a nuclear weapons-capable Iran". The measure was dressed up as intended to protect the president's back, but it smacked of yet more pressure to take a firmer stand with Iran.

One of the sponsors, senator Joe Lieberman, said that he did not want to discount diplomatic options but if the president ordered an attack on Iran he would have strong bipartisan support in Congress. Other senators said there needed to be a greater sense of urgency on the part of the administration in dealing with Iran and that sanctions are not enough.
Others are critical of sanctions for a different reason. Congressman Dennis Kucinich said this week he fears sanctions are less about changing Tehran's policy than laying the ground for military action. He warned that "the latest drum beat of additional sanctions and war against Iran sounds too much like the lead-up to the Iraq war"...."

Iran is in crisis – but it suits everyone to exaggerate its power

(Click on cartoon by Khalil Bendib to enlarge)

Many believe the west is overplaying the influence and nuclear potential that a divided, and increasingly reckless, Tehran wields

Ian Black
, Middle East editor, Friday 17 February 2012

"....Nor is all well in the region. True, Iran has been influential in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and is a big player in Afghanistan as well. But it now risks losing Syria, its only Arab ally and link to Hezbollah, its partner in Lebanon. "Iran's internal problems are far greater than they seem and beyond the region its external power is marginal," argues analyst Baqer Moin.

Emile Hokayem, of the Institute of Strategic Studies, sees only bombast, risk-taking and incompetence in recent Tehran's latest moves: "The Iranians may win something in terms of perception, but all in all they are on the losing side."

On paper, Iran's conventional military capabilities are no match for its enemies. But its forces are tough, battle-hardened and highly motivated: the naval arm of the Revolutionary Guard corps has experience in "assymetric warfare" using swarm tactics that combine small fast boats, missiles and mines that could play havoc in the strait of Hormuz.

"The fundamental problem is that Iran's friends and enemies both overestimate its power and influence," says Hokayem. "The west believes its own perceptions. Israel's officially endorsed existential concern about Iran makes Israelis feel more vulnerable and more nervous … than warranted, which is massively counterproductive. In Washington, the hawks exaggerate to create a sense of urgency. The Gulf states hype things, too. But if you look at the substance, Iran doesn't come across as a particularly powerful country. It's trying to find its place in the international system and it's failing. We need to rightsize the Iranian challenge.""

Guardian Video: Syrian leader condemned by UN resolution vote

The United Nations general assembly passed a resolution approving an Arab League plan urging Bashar al-Assad to step down as Syrian president. The non-binding resolution received just 12 votes against, including those of Russia and China, who vetoed a similar recent resolution in the security council. Diplomats hope the vote will persuade Assad to end human rights violations, Friday 17 February 2012

Al-Jazeera Video (with Sherine Tadros): Thousands rally in Port Said

Real News Video (with Transcript): Congress Pushes Iran Regime Change Over Diplomacy

Lawrence Wilkerson: Obama painting himself into a corner, Congress handing him the paint

More at The Real News

Al-Jazeera Video: Fighters 'entering Syria from Lebanon'

Al-Jazeera Video: UN assembly condemns Syria crackdown

"The United Nations General Assembly has voted 137 to 12 to approve a non-binding resolution calling for an immediate halt to the Syrian government's crackdown on protests against President Bashar al-Assad's rule.

The vote on Thursday followed another day of violence as opposition activists said at least 22 people had been killed in a continuing military assault on protest hubs."

Anthony Shadid (1968-2012): Incomparable, Pulitzer-Winning Middle East Correspondent Dies in Syria

"The Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times foreign correspondent Anthony Shadid has died at the age of 43. Shadid died of an apparent asthma attack on Thursday while covering the conflict in Syria. An American of Lebanese descent who spoke fluent Arabic, Shadid captured dimensions of life in the Middle East that many others failed to see. His exceptional coverage won him a Pulitzer Prize in 2004 and 2010 for international reporting while covering the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Shadid has been a guest on Democracy Now! several times over the past decade reporting on Libya, Tunisia, Iraq and Lebanon. We air excerpts from our last interview with Shadid in April 2011, just after he returned home following his six-day capture in Libya by Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s forces....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Will Palestinians see a unity government?


"Giving it another go, Fatah and Hamas struck a deal to form a unity government to prepare for elections in the West Bank and Gaza. As problems with the agreement already begin to emerge, it has been met with much scepticism by Palestinians who've witnessed previous attempts fail.

In this episode of The Stream, we talk to Huwaida Arraf, co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement, and Ali Abunimah, founder of the Electronic Intifada."

"الاخوان" و"العسكر" في مصر يتفقون على العربي مرشحا للرئاسة

"اتفق المجلس الأعلى للقوات المسلحة الحاكم حاليا في مصر مع حزب الحرية والعدالة المنبثق عن جماعة الإخوان المسلمين ومع أحزاب ليبرالية على اختيار نبيل العربي الأمين العام الحالي لجامعة الدول العربية مرشحا توافقيا لمنصب رئيس الجمهورية.

وكتبت عدة صحف مصرية اليوم الجمعة 17 فبراير/شباط ،عن مصادر لم تسمها، تأكيدها ان وراء هذا الاتفاق تقف دول خليجية بعينها لعبت الدور الابرز في المطالبة بترشيح العربي.

واشارت المصادر الى تأجيل دول عربية تقديم مساعداتها المالية لمصر حتى يتم اختيار العربي رئيسا للدولة، وأن هناك دولة عربية تعترض على تولي رئيس ينتمي للتيار الإسلامي.

وذكرت ان حزب الحرية والعدالة، وأحزاب ليبرالية تعقد يوميا اجتماعات سرية مع المجلس العسكري للاتفاق على رئيس توافقي.
من جانبه ابدى نبيل العربي استعداده للترشح لمنصب رئيس الجمهورية في حال شعر أن هناك توافقا من قبل القوى السياسية والشعبية على هذا القرار. كما قالت صحيفة "الشروق"، ان الرئيس السابق لهيئة الطاقة الذرية محمد البرادعي يدعم بقوة ترشح العربي للمنصب وأنه "شخص أمين وذو مصداقية ويعرفه منذ 50 عاما وهو يعرف أنه شخص زاهد في المنصب لكنه يحب بلده ويستطيع أن يقدم له الكثير خلال الفترة المقبلة".

هذا ورفض حزب النور السلفي دعم ترشيح نبيل العربي، اذ قال نادر بكار المتحدث باسمه ان "الحزب لن يوقع على اختيار رئيس على بياض أو من خلال عرض برامجه على "التوك شو" ولابد أن نجلس معه ونعرف برنامجه الانتخابي وما سيقدمه للبلاد خلال الفترة المقبلة وأن يكون معبرا عن جميع فئات المجتمع".

فيما اعلن حازم أبو اسماعيل، المرشح المحتمل للرئاسة عن "معاناة" حزبي الحرية والعدالة والنور السلفي من "إكراه سياسي" وضغوط من الولايات المتحدة والمجلس العسكري لاختيار رئيس توافقي، قائلا في تصريح صحفي الخميس: "سأعتمد في الانتخابات على الشعب وليس على أحزاب أو هيئات معينة"، ومضيفا في نفس الوقت: "ألتمس العذر للأحزاب الإسلامية لدعمها مرشحا غير إسلامي، لأنني أدرك جيدا حجم الضغوط".

Why hawks should vote for Obama

(Click on cartoon by Carlos Latuff to enlarge)

By Stephen M. Walt

".....So why should hawks vote for Obama? As Glenn Greenwald and Greg Sargent have argued most forcefully, it's because Obama can do hawkish things as a Democrat that a Republican could not (or at least not without facing lots of trouble on the home front). It's the flipside of the old "Nixon Goes to China" meme: Obama can do hawkish things without facing (much) criticism from the left, because he still retains their sympathy and because liberals and non-interventionists don't have a credible alternative (sorry, Ron Paul supporters). If someone like John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich or George W. Bush had spent the past few years escalating drone attacks, sending Special Forces into other countries to kill people without the local government's permission, prosecuting alleged leakers with great enthusiasm, and ratcheting up sanctions against Iran, without providing much information about exactly why and how we were doing all this, I suspect a lot of Democrats would have raised a stink about some of it. But not when it is the nice Mr. Obama that is doing these things....."

Syrian Refugees Get Help Across the Border

By Oliver Trenkamp, on the Turkish-Syria border


"Thousands of Syrians are fleeing across the border into Turkey from the intensifying violence in their own country. There, they fill refugee camps and hospitals while worrying about those left behind -- and wondering if leaders in Ankara will take their support to the next level.....

A few months ago, Erdogan's foreign minister categorically ruled out any deployment of Turkish troops. But, these days, his phrasing is far more cautious. He says that Turkey prefers not to discuss military intervention -- but that sounds less like denial and more like a threat aimed at Damascus.

Which path Erdogan chooses matters little to Kadir, the Syrian man watching over his wounded nephew in the hospital in Antakya. He's hoping for two things: that his nephew will recover, and that Syria's dictator will fall. "Assad should hang for all the people to see!" he says."

Time to Recognize the Blair Government’s Criminality

By John Pilger

"In the kabuki theater of British parliamentary politics, great crimes do not happen and criminals go free. It is theater after all; the pirouettes matter, not actions taken at remove in distance and culture from their consequences. It is a secure arrangement guarded by cast and critics alike. The farewell speech of one of the most artful, Tony Blair, had "a sense of moral conviction running through it," effused the television presenter Jon Snow, as if Blair’s appeal to kabuki devotees was mystical. That he was a war criminal was irrelevant.

The suppression of Blair’s criminality and that of his administrations is described in Gareth Peirce’s Dispatches from the Dark Side: on torture and the death of justice, published in paperback this month by Verso. Peirce is Britain’s most distinguished human rights lawyer; her pursuit of infamous miscarriages of justice and justice for the victims of state crimes, such as torture and rendition, is unsurpassed.....

Immersed in its misadventure and lies, listening only to their leader’s crooned "sincerity," the Labor government consulted no one who spoke the truth. Peirce cites one of the most reliable sources, Conflicts Forum, run by the former British intelligence officer Alastair Crooke, who argued that to "isolate and demonize [Islamic] groups that have support on the ground, the perception is reinforced that the west only understands the language of military strength." In wilfully denying this truth, Blair, Campbell and their echoes planted the roots of the 7/7 attacks in London.

Today, another Afghanistan and Iraq beckons in Syria and Iran, perhaps even a world war. Once again, voices such as Crooke’s attempt to explain to a media salivating for " intervention" in Syria that the civil war in that country requires skilled, patient negotiation, not the provocations of the British SAS and the familiar, bought-and-paid-for exiles who ride in Anglo-America’s Trojan Horse."

Steadfast Homs and the Cowardly Assad Regime, by Emad Hajjaj

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Syria: Fears for activists arrested in Damascus raid

Amnesty International
16 February 2012

Left: Razan Ghazzawi

"The Syrian authorities must release or charge a group of at least 14 people arrested on Thursday in a raid on the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression in Damascus, Amnesty International said today.

A lawyer based in Syria told Amnesty International that the centre’s director Mazen Darwish and Syrian-American blogger Razan Ghazzawi were among those detained.

Security forces removed the group from the office at around 1pm on Thursday and it is believed they are being held at Air Force Intelligence.

“We fear that some or all of those arrested today at the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression are prisoners of conscience,” said Ann Harrison, interim Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

“If this is the case, they should be released immediately and unconditionally. Otherwise they should be charged with an internationally recognizable criminal offence and tried in accordance with international fair trial standards.”

"They must also be protected from torture or other ill-treatment while held."

The arrests came just hours before the UN General Assembly was expected to vote on a resolution condemning the Syrian government’s brutal crackdown that has killed more than 5,700 people over the last 11 months."

We've seen the threats against Iran before

Although political brinkmanship with Iran is nothing new, escalating tensions do not bode well for the region.

By Phyllis Bennis

"Here we go again with the Iran hysteria. It is tempting to think this time will be just like previous periods of sabre rattling against Iran. But there are significant new dangers. The Arab Spring, Israel's position, changes in the regional and global balance of forces, and national election campaigns, all point to this round of anti-Iranian hysteria posing potentially graver risks than five or six years ago....

Israel at the centre

One of the main differences from the propaganda run-up to the Iraq war is the consistent centrality of Israel and its supporters, particularly AIPAC in the US, in this push for war against Iran. Israel certainly jumped aboard the attack-Iraq bandwagon when it was clear that war was indeed inevitable, but US strategic concerns regarding oil and the expansion of US military power were first and primary. Even back then,Israel recognised Iran as a far greater threat than Iraq. And now, Israelis using that alleged threat to pressure US policymakers and shape US policy - in dangerous ways. During this campaign cycle, Obama is under the greatest pressure he has ever faced, and likely ever will face, to defend the Israeli position unequivocally, and to pledge US military support for any Israeli action, however illegal, dangerous, and threatening to US interests.....

Syria moves to the centre - two struggles in one

The calamity underway in Syria is also directly linked to the Iran crisis. There are two struggles going on in Syria - and unfortunately one may destroy the potential of the other. First was Syria's home-grown popular uprising against a brutal government, inspired by and organically tied to the other risings of the Arab Spring, and like them calling first for massive reform and soon for the overthrow of the regime....

The further complication in Syria, and its link to Iran, is that it has simultaneously become a regional and global struggle. Syria is Iran's most significant partner in the Middle East, so key countries that support Israel's anti-Iran mobilisation have turned against Syria, looking to weaken Iran by undermining its closest ally. (Perhaps because the Assad regimes have kept the occupied Golan Heights and the Israeli-Syrian border relatively quiet, Israel itself has not been the major public face in the regionalisation of the Syrian crisis.) But clearly Saudi Arabia is fighting with Iran in Syria for influence in the region. The Arab League, whose Syria decision-making remains dominated by the Saudis and their allied Gulf petro-states (such as Qatar and the UAE), is using the Syria crisis to challenge Iran's rising influence in Arab countries from Iraq to Lebanon. And of course the US, France and other Western powers have jumped on the very real human rights crisis in Syria to try to further weaken the regime there - in the interest again of undermining Iran's key ally far more than out of concern for the Syrian people.

(Anyone uncertain about the hypocrisy of Washington's claimed human rights concerns, as well as its willingness to embrace the Assad regime in the wake of 9/11, need only look to the case of Maher Arar. A Canadian engineer arrested at JFK airport, Arar was accused of "links to terrorism" and subjected to extraordinary rendition by US security agencies that sent him to Syria for almost a full year of interrogation and torture. A two-year Canadian investigation found him innocent of any terror links, and paid him $10 million in compensation for Canada's role; but for the US, Arar remains a suspect prohibited from entering the country.)

Diminishing US power

Facing economic crisis, military failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the loss or weakening of key client states in the Arab world, the US is weaker and less influential in the Middle East. But maintaining control of oil markets and US strategic capacity are still key regional goals for the US, which means that military power remains central. The nature of that military engagement is changing - away from large-scale deployments of ground troops in favour of rapidly expanding fleets of armed drones, Special Forces, and growing reliance on naval forces, navy bases and sea-based weapons. Thus the US backs Saudi intervention in Bahrain to insure the US Fifth Fleet maintains its Bahraini base; Washington's escalating sanctions give the West greater leverage in control of oil markets; the Iranian rhetorical threat to close the Strait of Hormuz (only in desperation since it would prevent Iran from exporting its own oil) is used to justify expansion of the US naval presence in the region. Along with the possibility of losing Syria as a major military purchaser and regional ally, concerns about those US strategic moves played a large part of Russia's veto of the UN resolution on Syria......"

Thursday, February 16, 2012

NYT Reporter Anthony Shadid Died in Syria

Double Pulitzer winner apparently suffered asthma attack while reporting on resistance to Syrian regime
Anthony Shadid, the Pulitzer prize winning New York Times journalist
Anthony Shadid, the Pulitzer prize winning New York Times journalist, has died aged 43 in Syria of an apparent asthma attack. Photograph: Steven Senne/AP
Associated Press, Fri 17 Feb 2012 04.13 GMT
The New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid, who won the Pulitzer prize for his coverage of Iraq and was detained in Libya for almost a week last year, has died in eastern Syria while on a reporting assignment.
The cause of his death apparently was an asthma attack, his newspaper said, adding that New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks was with him and carried his body to Turkey.
Shadid, a 43-year-old American of Lebanese descent, had a wife and two daughters. He had worked previously for the Associated Press, the Washington Post and the Boston Globe. He won the Pulitzer prize for international reporting in 2004 and 2010 for his Iraq coverage.
In 2004 the Pulitzer board praised "his extraordinary ability to capture, at personal peril, the voices and emotions of Iraqis as their country was invaded, their leader toppled and their way of life upended".
Shadid had been reporting in Syria for a week, gathering information on the resistance to the Syrian government, the New York Times said, adding that the exact circumstances and location of his death were unclear.
Shadid, long known for covering wars and other conflicts in the Middle East, was among four reporters detained for six days by Libyan forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi last March.
Speaking to an audience in Oklahoma City about a month after his release, he said he had a conversation with his father the night before he was detained. "Maybe a little bit arrogantly, perhaps with a little bit of conceit, I said: 'It's OK, Dad. I know what I'm doing. I've been in this situation before.'
"I guess on some level I felt that if I wasn't there to tell the story, the story wouldn't be told."
Shadid's father, Buddy Shadid, who lives in Oklahoma City, said a colleague tried to revive his son from the asthma attack but couldn't. "They were in an isolated place. There was no doctor around," Buddy Shadid said. "It took a couple of hours to get him to a hospital in Turkey."
He said Anthony Shadid had asthma all his life and carried medication with him. "[But] he was walking to the border because it was too dangerous to ride in the car. He was walking behind some horses he's more allergic to those than anything else and he had an asthma attack."

Jeremy Scahill: U.S. Has Ignited Islamist Uprising in Impoverished, Divided Yemen

"Has U.S. counter-terrorism policy in Yemen strengthened the very threat it sought to eliminate? We speak with journalist Jeremy Scahill who reports in a new cover story for The Nation magazine that U.S. drone strikes, civilian drone casualties and deepening poverty in Yemen have all contributed to the rise of an Islamist uprising. "The arrogance of the U.S. was always thinking that whatever U.S. official was sent to Yemen was smarter than Ali Abdullah Saleh," Scahill says. "[Saleh] was a master chess player and he milked counter-terrorism as his cash cow. … [U.S.-supplied] forces have almost never been used to actually battle anyone determined to be terrorists. They’ve existed primarily for the defense of the Saleh regime."...."

Iran Tensions Rise With Diplomat Bombings, Scientist Killings, Nuke Claims and Media War-Mongering

"Tensions between Israel and Iran have intensified with bomb blasts targeting Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia and Iranian accusations of Israeli responsibility for the assassinations of Iranian scientists. Iran, meanwhile, is claiming significant new advances in its nuclear program, citing new uranium enrichment centrifuges and domestically made reactor fuel. "If you listen to the media, you would see Iran as this sort of irrational aggressor, lashing out arbitrarily at other nations and specifically Israel and the United States for no reason," says Glenn Greenwald, a constitutional law attorney and political and legal blogger for "What’s so amazing about that is it completely ignores the context of what the United States and Israel have been doing to Iran." We’re also joined by Reza Marashi of the National Iranian American Council. "What makes [conflict] so dangerous, and increasingly likely, is there is little to no communication going on between the parties," Mashri says. "And when you do not communicate, that increases the likelihood for misperceptions and miscalculations."..."

Al-Jazeera Video: سمفونية القاشوش" يالله ارحل يا بشار"

"الشاب الحموي ابراهيم القاشوش هو أول من أطلق اغنية " يالله ارحل يا بشار" في ساحة العاصي بحماة. لم يعش الشاب طويلا فقد وجد مقتولا وقد نزعت حنجرته .. الا ان اغنيته بقيت طويلا بعد ان حولها الموسيقار السوري مالك جندلي الى سمفونية موسيقية.

Al-Jazeera Video: Journalist Robert Fisk: Arab League using war in Syria to attack Iran

"Robert Fisk, a foreign correspondent for the UK's Independent newspaper, spoke to Al Jazeera from Tunisia's capital, Tunis, about the developments in Syria."

Real News Video with Transcript: Arab League Calls for Arming Syrian Opposition

Christian Henderson: Great hypocrisy of Saudis, crushing opposition in Bahrain and supporting it in Syria

More at The Real News

Crocodiles of Arabia: A Great Cartoon by Khalil Bendib

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Video: Khader Adnan receives message of support from Oliver Hughes. Feb 14th, 2012

"In 1981, after 59 days on Hunger Strike, Francis Hughes, 25, died in the H Blocks. His cousin, Thomas McElwee, 33, also died on Hunger Strike after 61 days.

Today as Khader Adnan entered his 60th day on Hunger Strike, Francis Hughes brother Oliver, sends a message of support and solidarity to Khader.

Recorded Feb 14th, 2012"

Reality of Hamas-Fatah Unity

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"While top officials representing rival Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, signed yet another unity agreement on February 6 in Doha, Qatar, Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan crossed the 50-day mark of his hunger strike. His health was rapidly deteriorating....

Khader’s case highlights the unparalleled chasm separating Palestinian leaders from the everyday issues and struggles of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. These include: military occupation, dwindling water resources, an almost entirely dependent economy, festering corruption and ongoing violence of the colonists. Despite this reality, the people who are supposed to represent Palestinians seem entirely consumed by strange priorities, futile ‘peace’ and power-sharing ‘unity’ agreements.

Palestinians have been trapped in this odd reality ever since Fatah and Palestinian Liberation Organisation leaders agreed to sign a ‘peace accord’ with Israel without consulting with the Palestinian people in 1993. By singing a unity agreement with Fatah, Hamas, which has long championed the ‘choice of resistance’, is now tacitly joining the political charade which pushed Palestinians to the brink and ignited the Second Palestinian Intifada in 2000.....

Ultimately, Hamas-Fatah unity based on halving the spoils of whatever imagined power they may have over occupied and oppressed people will in no significant way alter the fate of hunger-striker Adnan. Neither will it reclaim one inch of the Occupied Territories, or revive the long-dormant Palestinian national project around new, truly unifying and all-encompassing priorities.

Frankly it is absurd to witness Palestinian factions lobbying among and seeking exclusive approval, funding and backing of countries near and far, while millions of Palestinians carry on facing the reality of sieges, walls, barbed wires and machine guns.

Truly, the chasm has never been so wide. "

Leading article: Iran risks playing into the hands of its enemies

The way Tehran is upping the ante suggests a belief that it has nothing left to lose

The Independent
Thursday 16 February 2012

".....In December, Tehran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, a threat that prompted the US to send naval patrols and which anyway seemed unrealistic, given that Iran would be among the first to suffer. Then this week, Iran appeared to adopt a new two-pronged approach, with an announcement that it was halting oil exports to six EU countries and a spate of attacks on Israeli envoys in third countries. The arrest of an Iranian citizen in Thailand, who was seriously injured after apparently blowing himself up by accident, seemed to leave little doubt about where responsibility lay.

The way Tehran now appears to be upping the ante suggests either that the Iranian leadership is gripped by something close to panic, or that it is lashing out in the belief that it has nothing left to lose. Either prospect can only give succour to those who argue that force is the only language Tehran understands. Before pursuing their present course further, Iran's leaders should understand that they risk provoking the very response they, and most of the rest of the world, are desperate to avoid."

Bipartisan Support for World War III

by Philip Giraldi, February 16, 2012

"The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) is surely one of the more bizarre pro-Israel think tanks doing business in Washington. Its sage advice pops up here and there, most recently in The Wall Street Journal, where it advocated giving Israel tanker aircraft so its warplanes can fly to Iran, bomb the hell out of that country’s nuclear facilities, and make it safely back. The BPC’s National Security Project is headed by Charles Robb, a former senator and governor from Virginia and living proof that you can fool most people more than once. Robb argues that enabling a devastating Israeli attack on Iran would create a credible deterrent to Tehran’s misbehavior and maintains that his judgment is derived from a “fact-driven consensus.” ......"

In the Arab world, the West's interests trump its values

Read the first part of chapter five of Marwan Bishara's latest book, The Invisible Arab.

By Marwan Bishara

"Editor's note: This article is the third of a series of excerpts that Al Jazeera will be publishing from The Invisible Arab: The promise and peril of the Arab revolutions. You can also read an excerpt from the preface, from chapter one, L'Ancien Regime and from chapter two, The Miracle Generation.

Since the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, Western military and political interference has had a role in all major transformations in the Arab world and the region in general. After European colonialism redrew the fault lines and contours of the new Middle East and North African regions, the Cold War reshaped the region with the United States at the helm of interregional and even domestic affairs of most Arab countries. The United States, guided by imperial security doctrines, put itself centre-stage as the most powerful player in the Middle East.

Since 9/11, the US presence in the region reached a new summit, deepening regional divisions that threatened to further breakup of the Arab world and its states, as witnessed in Sudan, Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, and Somalia. During this period, Washington toppled regimes, made destabilising alliances with the worst human rights offenders, monopolised regional diplomatic processes, intervened in the domestic affairs of sovereign states, invaded unfriendly nations, and deployed the world's greatest military in the name of US national security.

In turn, Arab leaders were forced to devise policies that put US reactions first. Historically, those who dared oppose Washington's dictates paid heavily for it, either directly or by proxy. From Egypt's Nasser to Iraq's Hussein through Arafat in Palestine, all were defeated, sanctioned, or isolated. Most other dictators courted the West and selectively adopted the US' neoliberal dictates while rejecting its democratic model......

Dictator-friendly Europe

The United States wasn't alone, though, in its ambivalence toward the Arab dictators. European powers, perhaps more so. Europe's accommodation and embrace of Arab dictators had little to do with so-called European values and had more to do with classic European expediency and neocolonial paternalism. In 2008, French President Nicolas Sarkozy commended Ben Ali for the improved "sphere of liberties" at a time when human rights abuses were rampant in Tunisia....

Ballyhooing democracy, promoting business

The United States and Europe advanced similar imperial visions for the Middle East in the post-Cold War era. The United States hoped for "A New Middle East" around the vision of Shimon Peres (who, incidentally, wrote a book titled the same) that foresaw a leading role for the Jewish State of five million in a region of 250 million Arabs. Because the United States remained hostage to Israel's continued occupation of Arab lands, this new Middle East never got off the ground.....

In reality, the Arabs could hardly trust US rhetoric on democracy, knowing all too well that truly representative governments would oppose the US-Israel axis. Countless US-commissioned polls underlined Arab antagonism to Washington's designs on their region. Almost 80 per cent of the Arabs polled believed US military intervention increased terrorism and decreased the chances for peace, while almost 70 per cent doubted its sincerity in spreading democracy and reckoned it was motivated by an ambition for regional domination, while also preserving Israel's....."

Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan 'near death' in Israeli detention

Medical report warns Israeli court Khader Adnan is in immediate danger after 61 days of protest at his 'administrative detention'

Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem, Thursday 16 February 2012

"A Palestinian prisoner on his 61st day of hunger strike while shackled to a bed in an Israeli hospital is in immediate danger of death, according to a medical report submitted to the supreme court in an effort to secure his release.

Khader Adnan, 33, a baker from a village near Jenin, is being held without charge by the Israeli authorities under a four-month term of "administrative detention". He began his hunger strike on 18 December, the day after being arrested.

Adnan's lawyers have submitted a petition for his release to Israel's supreme court, but no date has been set for a hearing. The situation was urgent, lawyer Mahmoud Kassandra told the Guardian. "This is the last chance. The medical report says he could die at any minute. We hope this will succeed but I am not optimistic."....."

IOC/Saudi Arabia: End Ban on Women in Sport

Saudi Policy to Bar Women, Girls Violates Olympic Charter

Human Rights Watch
February 15, 2012

"(Los Angeles) – As the world prepares for the 2012 Olympics, the Saudi government is systematically discriminating against women in sports and physical education, and has never sent a female athlete to the Olympics, with no penalty from the international Olympic authorities, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. Human Rights Watch called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to make ending discrimination against women in sports in the kingdom a condition for Saudi Arabia’s participation in Olympic sporting events, including the 2012 London Games.

“‘No women allowed,’ is the kingdom’s message to Saudi women and girls who want to play sports,” said Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The fact that women and girls cannot train to compete clearly violates the Olympic Charter’s pledge to equality and gives the Olympic movement itself a black eye.”

The 51-page report, “Steps of the Devil’: Denial of Women and Girls’ Right to Sport in Saudi Arabia,” documents discrimination by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education in denying girls physical education in state schools, as well as discriminatory practices by the General Presidency for Youth Welfare, a youth and sports ministry, in licensing women’s gyms and supporting only all-male sports clubs....."

Syria: Death toll rises as bombardment of civilian areas escalates in Homs

Amnesty International
15 February 2012

"At least 377 civilians have been killed in Homs in recent days as Syrian security forces escalated their shelling of civilian neighbourhoods in the besieged city, according to information received by Amnesty International.

On Wednesday, reports also emerged of a military build-up in the city of Hama, 50 km to the north.

The latest surge in casualties chimes with remarks by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that the international community’s failure to act had “emboldened” the Syrian military assault.

The international community must not stand idly by while Homs and other Syrian cities come under fire and civilians are dying in droves,” said Ann Harrison, interim Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

“As the debate over how the UN should react to Syria’s brutal crackdown has moved from the Security Council – where Russia and China continue to shield the Syrian government – to the General Assembly, the security forces have only stepped up their attacks.”

Since 3 February, Syrian security forces have been shelling areas in and around Homs in what they claim is an effort to root out armed resistance groups based there.

Those killed since the assault on Homs began include 29 children, and there have been hundreds of injuries. Little food is getting through and the wounded are not receiving adequate treatment.

As in other cities around Syria, Amnesty International has been told that the authorities have restricted fuel supplies, possibly as a punitive measure......"

Libya: “Out of control” militias commit widespread abuses, a year on from uprising

Amnesty International

15 February 2012

"Armed militias operating across Libya commit widespread human rights abuses with impunity, fuelling insecurity and hindering the rebuilding of state institutions, warned Amnesty International in a new report released today, a year on from the start of the February 2011 uprising.

The report Militias threaten hopes for new Libya, documents widespread and serious abuses, including war crimes, by a multitude of militias against suspected al-Gaddafi loyalists, with cases of people being unlawfully detained and tortured – sometimes to death.

African migrants and refugees have also been targeted, and revenge attacks have been carried out, forcibly displacing entire communities – while the authorities have done nothing to investigate the abuses and hold those responsible to account.

“Militias in Libya are largely out of control and the blanket impunity they enjoy only encourages further abuses and perpetuates instability and insecurity,” said Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International.

“A year ago Libyans risked their lives to demand justice. Today their hopes are being jeopardized by lawless armed militias who trample human rights with impunity. The only way to break with the entrenched practices of decades of abuse under Colonel al-Gaddafi’s authoritarian rule is to ensure that nobody is above the law and that investigations are carried out into such abuses”.

In January and early February 2012, Amnesty International delegates visited 11 detention facilities in central and western Libya used by various militias and at 10 of these locations, detainees said they had been tortured or ill-treated en situ, and showed Amnesty International injuries resulting from recent abuse. Several detainees said they had confessed to rape, killings and other crimes they had not committed just to end the torture......"