Saturday, April 7, 2012

Kofi Annan's Plan for Syria, by Emad Hajjaj

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Al-Jazeera Video: Syria casualties increase ahead of UN deadline

"Syrian activists have told Al Jazeera as many as 70 people have been killed near Hama.
Al Jazeera's Scott Heidler reports that things appear to be getting worse."

Al-Jazeera Video: Information war rages over Syria

"Information from Syria is difficult to verify because the Syrian government is not allowing international journalists into the country.

There are claims and counter claims ranging from death tolls, the role of foreign fighters and the state of cities like Homs and Idlib.

So what's true and what is propaganda?

Al Jazeera's Scott Heidler takes a closer look."

Al-Jazeera Video: Lebanese city welcomes Syrian refugees

"Lebanon has seen an increase in the number of people from violence-torn Syria seeking sanctuary.

Tripoli, in Lebanon's north, continues to welcome new arrivals from the neighbouring country despite economic hardships that make supporting a new influx of people harder.

Al Jazeera's Rula Amin reports from the Lebanese city."

Assad push on Syrian rebels sets off exodus of refugees

Thousands flee to neighbouring Lebanon as regime cracks down ahead of ceasefire

The Independent
Saturday 07 April 2012

"President Bashar al-Assad's army yesterday appeared to widen its merciless campaign to crush dissent ahead of a ceasefire deadline, bolstering the flow of refugees into neighbouring countries that are struggling to deal with the influx of new arrivals.

Columns of smoke rose above the Damascus suburbs of Douma and Saqba yesterday where tank shells and snipers were said to be targeting anything that moved, while intense clashes between the Free Syrian Army fighters and the regime's army took place in nearby Harasta.

Similar brutality was reported elsewhere in the country as the security forces tried to disperse thousands who defiantly took to the streets after Friday prayers.

Amid the crackdown, the United Nations yesterday sharply increased its figures for the number of Syrian refugees who have fled to neighbouring Lebanon, revising the total estimate to over 20,000 – an increase of 5,000 on a week ago......"

"هآرتس": الإخوان المسلمون متمسكون بـ"كامب ديفيد"


"تناولت صحيفة "هآرتس" تصريحات عضو مجلس الشعب المصري من قبل الاخوان المسلمين عبد الموجود الدرديري في مؤخرا في الولايات المتحدة، والتي جاء فيها أنه لن يتم عرض اتفاقية كامب ديفيد أو أي اتفاقية أخرى وقعت عليها مصر للاستفتاء الشعبي.

وأشارت إلى أن الدرديري وصل إلى الولايات المتحدة على رأس وفد من السياسيين من حزب "الحرية والعدالة"، وذلك بهدف إقناع الإدارة الأمريكية ومجموعة رجال الأعمال وصناع الرأي بأنه لا يوجد للولايات المتحدة أي سبب للتخوف من سلطة الإخوان المسلمين.

كما أبرزت الصحيفة أن الوفد المصري قد توجه إلى الولايات المتحدة بناء على توصية مرشح الإخوان المسلمين للرئاسة خيرت الشاطر، الذي بدأ بنفسه بإجراء اتصالات مكثفة مع ممثلي الإدارة الأمريكية قبل أكثر من ستة شهور، ويجري مؤخرا اتصالات مع ممثلي البنك الدولي ومؤسسات التمويل الدولية بهدف الحصول على قروض واعتماد لمصر.

وكتبت "هآرتس" أن تمسك حركة الإخوان المسلمين باتفاقيات كامب ديفيد تحول إلى اختبار لمدى صدقية الحركة بكل ما يتصل بالعلاقات الخارجية ومعيارا تحدد الولايات المتحدة بموجبه نطاق المساعدات التي تقدمها لمصر.

كما أشارت الصحيفة إلى أن أعضاء الحركة وممثليها في مجلس الشعب قد شددوا على التزامهم باتفاقيات كامب ديفيد، وأنهم الآن يتنصلون من فكرة عرضها لاستفتاء شعبي من أجل الحصول على شرعية شعبية لتغييرها أو إلغائها.

وكتبت "هآرتس" أن الحركة السفلية (حزب النور) أيضا أوضحت أنها متمسكة باتفاقية كامب ديفيد. وفي الوقت نفسه أشارت إلى أن التيارات العلمانية والليبرالية هي التي تطلق مطالب بإعادة النظر في هذه الاتفاقيات
. "

Former Mubarak intelligence chief to stand in Egyptian presidential race

Suleiman: The CIA's Man in Cairo

Omar Suleiman announced decision to run as crowds protested about possible conspiracy against another candidate, Friday 6 April 2012

"Egypt's presidential race was thrown into further turmoil when a former ally of Hosni Mubarak announced that he had decided to run, and supporters of another candidate flooded Tahrir Square protesting that he was being pushed out by allegations his mother was a US citizen. Omar Suleiman, who was the ex-president's intelligence chief, has inside influence that will make him a likely frontrunner in the elections, to be held on 23 and 24 May. His main opponent is likely to be Khairat el-Shater, candidate of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood.

Suleiman, a former general who appeared on television in February 2011 to announce that Mubarak would step down, said earlier this week that he had decided not to run. But he issued the statement on Friday on the state-run Mena news agency saying he had changed his mind after hundreds of supporters held a rally urging his candidacy.

"I can only meet the call and run in the presidential race," he said...."

Syrian exodus prompts call for urgent UN evaluation

Turkey urges UN to send officials to border as thousands flee Syria each day to escape government violence, Friday 6 April 2012

"Turkey has urged the UN to send officials to its border after several thousand refugees crossed from Syria to escape a bloody government attack with troops and helicopters.

Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, called the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, at 2am on Friday to discuss the unprecedented exodus and humanitarian situation. Ban later issued a statement criticising the Syrian government for its latest attacks on civilians and demanded that it keep a pledge to halt all military operations.

More than 2,800 Syrians poured into Turkey on Thursday, more than double the highest previous one-day total. The refugees were fleeing heavy shelling by the Syrian army of villages in the north-western province of Idlib......"

Egypt: Military Impunity for Violence Against Women

Whitewash in Virginity Tests Trial

Human Rights Watch
April 7, 2012

"(New York) – The March 11 acquittal of the only military officer charged in the “virginity tests” trial is a blow for any hopes of accountability for the abuses women have experienced at the hands of the Egyptian military over the past year, Human Rights Watch said today. The military has failed to investigate and punish credible claims of other instances of violence by its members against women, including the beating and torture of women demonstrators by military officers on March 9 and December 16, 2011.

The investigation and trial in the case, in which female protesters who had been detained testified that a military doctor subjected them to “virginity testing,” underscore the lack of independence of the military justice system in trying such cases, Human Rights Watch said. The military prosecutor summoned no witnesses for the prosecution to establish the charges under which he had referred the case to court, nor did he challenge apparently factually inconsistent testimony by defense witnesses. Despite clear statements from senior military leaders that the incident had taken place, the trial did not examine who, and at what rank, ordered the tests.

“The verdict in the ’virginity tests’ trial is just one more example of the military’s failure to punish gross abuses against women and a reminder that the military justice system lacks the fundamental independence to remedy human rights abuses by the military,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch......"

Friday, April 6, 2012


From the air, the terrain of the Department of Energy’s Nevada National Security Site, with its arid high plains and remote mountain peaks, has the look of northwest Iran. The site, some sixty-five miles northwest of Las Vegas, was once used for nuclear testing, and now includes a counterintelligence training facility and a private airport capable of handling Boeing 737 aircraft. It’s a restricted area, and inhospitable—in certain sections, the curious are warned that the site’s security personnel are authorized to use deadly force, if necessary, against intruders.
It was here that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) conducted training, beginning in 2005, for members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, a dissident Iranian opposition group known in the West as the M.E.K. The M.E.K. had its beginnings as a Marxist-Islamist student-led group and, in the nineteen-seventies, it was linked to the assassination of six American citizens. It was initially part of the broad-based revolution that led to the 1979 overthrow of the Shah of Iran. But, within a few years, the group was waging a bloody internal war with the ruling clerics, and, in 1997, it was listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department. In 2002, the M.E.K. earned some international credibility by publicly revealing—accurately—that Iran had begun enriching uranium at a secret underground location. Mohamed ElBaradei, who at the time was the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear monitoring agency, told me later that he had been informed that the information was supplied by the Mossad. The M.E.K.’s ties with Western intelligence deepened after the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003, and JSOC began operating inside Iran in an effort to substantiate the Bush Administration’s fears that Iran was building the bomb at one or more secret underground locations. Funds were covertly passed to a number of dissident organizations, for intelligence collection and, ultimately, for anti-regime terrorist activities. Directly, or indirectly, the M.E.K. ended up with resources like arms and intelligence. Some American-supported covert operations continue in Iran today, according to past and present intelligence officials and military consultants.
Allan Gerson, a Washington attorney for the M.E.K., notes that the M.E.K. has publicly and repeatedly renounced terror. Gerson said he would not comment on the alleged training in Nevada. But such training, if true, he said, would be “especially incongruent with the State Department’s decision to continue to maintain the M.E.K. on the terrorist list. How can the U.S. train those on State’s foreign terrorist list, when others face criminal penalties for providing a nickel to the same organization?”
Five Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated since 2007. M.E.K. spokesmen have denied any involvement in the killings, but early last month NBC News quoted two senior Obama Administration officials as confirming that the attacks were carried out by M.E.K. units that were financed and trained by Mossad, the Israeli secret service. NBC further quoted the Administration officials as denying any American involvement in the M.E.K. activities.

“Shouting in the Dark”: Film Chronicles Bahrain’s Pro-Democracy Uprising Against U.S.-Backed Rule

Democracy Now!

"As Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja is near death on the 58th day of a hunger strike protesting his imprisonment, we look at an award-winning documentary that tells the story of the uprising in Bahrain with extraordinary footage shot entirely undercover by Al Jazeera English reporters. It’s called “Shouting in the Dark.” We speak with the film’s director, May Ying Welsh, the only Western journalist to stay throughout the violent government crackdown on demonstrators, as well as the doctors and nurses who treated them....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Refugee life proves hard for some Syrians

"As the political negotiations to end the crisis continue in Syria, as record numbers of Syrians are fleeing into neighbouring countries.

In Turkey alone more than two thousand Syrians entered the country just in one day alone.

Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught reports on how some Syrians struggle to adapt to life as a refugee."

Real News Video :Int'l Court Rejects Palestinian Statehood Bid

After three years of deliberation, the International Criminal Court decided not to admit Palestine as a state

More at The Real News

The Rise of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt, by Emad Hajjaj

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

US-Israel War on Iran: The Myth of Limited Warfare

Washington and Tel Aviv claim and appear to believe that their planned assault on Iran will be a “limited war”, targeting limited objectives and lasting a few days or weeks – with no serious consequences.

By James Petras


War, especially an Israeli-US war against Iran is indissolubly linked to the asymmetrical US-Israeli relationship, which sidelines and censors any critical US military and political analysis. Because Israel’s Zionist power configuration in the US can now harness US military power in support of Israel’s drive for regional dominance, Israeli leaders and most of their military feel free to engage in the most outrageous military and destructive adventures, knowing full well that in the first and last instance they can rely on the US to support them with American blood and treasure. But after all of this grotesque servitude to a racist, isolated country, who will rescue the United States? Who will prevent the sinking of its ships in the Gulf and the death and maiming of hundreds of its sailors and thousands of its soldiers? And where will the Israelis and US Zionists be when Iraq is overrun by elite Iranian troops and their Iraqi Shia allies and a generalized uprising occurs in Afghanistan?

The self-centered Israeli policy-makers overlook the likely collapse of the world oil supply as a result of their planned war against Iran. Do their Zionist agents in the US realize that as a result of dragging the US into Israel’s war, that the Iranian nation will be forced to set the Persian Gulf oilfields ablaze?

How cheap has it become to ‘buy a war’ in the US? For a mere few million dollars in campaign contributions to corrupt politicians, and through the deliberate penetration of Israel-First agents, academics and politicians into the war-making machinery of the US government, and through the moral cowardice and self-censorship of leading critics, writers and journalists who refuse to name Israel and its agents as the key decision makers in our country’s Mid East policy, we head directly toward a war far beyond any regional military conflagration and toward the collapse of the world economy and the brutal impoverishment of hundreds of millions of people North and South, East and West. "

The Honeymoon With The Muslim Brotherhood

Celebrate The New Romance Now!

Israeli architect of Oslo accords says Middle East peace process is over

The chief Israeli architect of the Oslo accords has urged the Palestinian leadership to declare the death of the peace process he helped instigate as Britain issued one of its strongest ever condemnations of Israeli settlement policies.

The Telegraph

"Yossi Beilin urged Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, to carry out his threat to dissolve the Palestinian Authority – created by the Oslo deal in 1993 – and hand back full control of the West Bank and Gaza to Israel.

Mr Beilin's dramatic intervention reflects growing international concern that Israeli settlement construction is undermining the viability of a "two-state solution", the Oslo formula meant to end the Middle East conflict by establishing a Palestinian State alongside an Israeli one.
While Mr Beilin was careful to blame "extremists" on both sides for "gutting" the agreements, there has been mounting international outrage after Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, took steps this week further to entrench Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem......"

Bahraini hunger striker casts a long shadow over claims of reform

As the government in Manama prepares to welcome back Formula One, activists say human rights abuses continue

Patrick Cockburn
Friday 06 April 2012

"Bahrain's best known human rights activist, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who is on the 57th day of a hunger strike, could die in jail at any moment say those who have seen him recently.

"His heart could stop at any time or he could slip into a coma," said his daughter Maryam. Mr al-Khawaja, 51, who was sentenced to life in jail last year for an alleged plot to overthrow the Bahraini monarchy, says he will continue his hunger strike until he is freed or he dies.

His death is likely to ignite violence in Bahrain where members of the majority Shia community have protested against his imprisonment. It would also discredit the attempt by the Bahraini government to persuade the international community it is seriously pursuing legal and constitutional reforms.

The detention of Mr al-Khawaja, has lead to calls for the cancellation of the Bahrain Formula One race later this month. The government has been publicising the race as a sign that Bahrainis are united and the situation on the island Kingdom has returned to normal. "They are using it as a celebration that we are one nation while people are being killed weekly," says Zaynab, another daughter of Mr al-Khawaja......"

Israel: Palestinians Cut Off From Farmlands

A Year After Court Ruling, a Worsening Situation

Human Rights Watch
April 5, 2012

"(Jerusalem) – A court ruling upholding a military permit system has had the result that a year later West Bank Palestinians in one affected area are virtually unable to work on their farmlands, Human Rights Watch said today, on the anniversary of the High Court of Justice ruling.

The system, which requires Palestinians to obtain special military permits to access their lands on the “Israeli” side of the separation barrier in the West Bank, in effect treats all Palestinians living in or seeking to access farmlands in these areas as though they were security threats, and imposes unnecessarily severe restrictions on their access, harming their livelihoods, Human Rights Watch said. Such a system violates the requirement under international law that security measures must be narrowly tailored to the threat that they aim to meet.

“The permit system needlessly prevents Palestinians from working their own farmlands,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Israel’s highest court upheld a system that applies a broad brush to isolate Palestinians from their lands without a narrowly tailored security rationale as should be legally required.”...."

Saudi Arabia: Sports Minister Confirms Women’s Exclusion

Time Running Out for IOC to Roll Back Saudi Discrimination

Human Rights Watch
April 5, 2012

"(Beirut) – The Saudi sports minister and head of the Saudi National Olympic Committee confirmed on April 4, 2012, that Saudi Arabia will not support women in practicing sports. Prince Nawwaf al-Faisal said: “Female sports activity has not existed [in the kingdom] and there is no move thereto in this regard.”

“At present, we are not embracing any female Saudi participation in the Olympics or other international championships,” Prince Nawwaf continued.

“If the International Olympic Committee was looking for an official affirmation of Saudi discrimination against women in sports, the minister in charge just gave it,” said Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It is impossible to square Saudi discrimination against women with the noble values of the Olympic Charter.”....."

Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate US aid to Egypt

Bikya Masr

"CAIRO: The United States is not highly-regarded in Egypt these days, in fact resentment seems pretty universal—from liberals, conservatives, secular and religious, rich and poor.

What is interesting about this growing animosity is that Egyptians have long known America’s role in propping up Mubarak’s corrupt, repressive regime. But not until the revolution did they seem to begin to publically parse its meaning. This is when American-made canisters of tear gas were smashing into crowds of unarmed protestors and American-manufactured military hardware had turned Cairo’s downtown streets into a war zone......"

The spectacle of democracy in the US

The US presidential election looks like a massive TV commercial, an advertisement, extended over more than a year.

By Hamid Dabashi

"Tucson, Arizona - "This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility." The unguarded remarks of the US President - Barack Obama - to the Russian President - Dmitry Medvedev - captured by TV cameras, has once again drawn attention to the increasing perils and undelivered promises of US presidential elections.

According to a transcriptof the recorded remarks, Obama told his Russian counterpart: "On all these issues, but particularly missile defence, this, this can be solved but it's important for him to give me space." Medvedev responded: "Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you."

What do these elections mean? Do they make any difference? Why does President Obama need "space" for his second term election - what did he do with the "space", indeed the mandate he received after his first election?.....

Americans (and many others around the world) were counting the seconds that the Bush presidency would finally end and Obama's to start - but to what avail? What did he do differently than Bush? Just look at his speeches in front of AIPAC and take it down from there.

So what is the purpose, or the function, or the use of these American presidential elections?.....

The globalised showmanship of American presidential election is geared and designed to sell one commodity and one commodity only "democracy" - that the US is a democracy and by virtue of that fetishised commodity, it gets the privilege of sending its aircraft carriers and fighter jets around the planet to drop bombs on people and their homeland and call it "humanitarian intervention".

As the paramount example of a product of the society of spectacle (Guy Debord), of the culture industry (Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer) and of the advertisement of "a bottle of wine" to sell health and happiness (Roland Barth), the US presidential election is now the supreme bourgeois myth that sells "democracy", distinguishes military invasion from "humanitarian intervention" and justifies drone attacks to "combat terrorism" - and "protect peace" by mass murders from My Lai in Vietnam in 1968 to Hadithah in Iraq in 2005, to Kandahar in Afghanistan in 2012....

Commodification of democracy

As the grandest spectacle of American politics, the presidential election looks like a massive TV commercial, an advertisement, extended over more than a year, spread all over the major and minor networks, cable televisions, cyberspace, selling one commodity: and one commodity only - always already "new and improved" like any other brand of detergent.....

It is not just the Arab potentates who have run out of time, exited the force of their historical destiny, so have European democracies facing the systematic uprising of their people revolting against austerity measures they can no longer bear. And so, a fortiorihas the outdated and crooked political system of the US, deeply corrupted by corporate money and special interest lobbies (AIPAC symptomatic of a much deeper disease).

The charade of American democracy can no longer fool the world (if it ever did) - a system that generates a Gingrich or Santorum at its top and to which Ron Paul suddenly sounds reasonable and sane, just to expose the hypocrisy and banality of Barak Obama, is no model of democracy to wage its war of "humanitarian intervention" anywhere in the world

Instead of the delusion of the American democracy aiding the cause of democracy anywhere in the world, it is the fact of the global democratic uprising aiding the ordinary Americans revolt against their own degenerated system that is the only cause of hope for future.

Not just the American or European democracy, in fact no existing alternative has much to suggest itself. The ideals and aspirations of an alternative have now ended up in banalities like Chavez and Ahmadinejad on frequent flier programme to each other's capital in search of business and legitimacy. Even Castro has no qualms giving honorary degree to "Dr Ahmadinejad".

Ideals and aspirations of political Islam have degenerated into the Islamic Republic and the horrors of Holocaust are abused by a colonial settlement cum apartheid garrison state called "Israel". We, the humanity at large, are at the cusp of a new dispensation, a moment of moral implosion when all has gone wrong and all has to change - and that is precisely why masses of millions of people around the globe are out in the street, sleeping in tents, withstanding militarised police brutality, claiming their public space, their hands in the cosmic dark looking for something that even they might not know what it is..... "

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Günter Grass and changing German attitudes towards Israel

The poet hopes his latest work, What Must Be Said, will prompt others to break their silence on Israel's nuclear weapons

Hans Kundnani, Thursday 5 April 2012

(Read the translation of the poem, below)

"....What must be said, according to Grass, is that "the nuclear power Israel" – rather than Iran – "endangers an already fragile world peace". Grass says he had not spoken out previously because his nationality "forbade" it: any German breaking the silence on the Israel nuclear programme may be accused of antisemitism.

But, Grass goes on, the recent agreement to sell a sixth German Dolphin submarine to Israel meant Germany would now be partly responsible for "a crime that can be foreseen". It could not therefore make "any of the usual excuses" – presumably a reference to excuses made by Germans about the Holocaust. Grass thus felt he must break his silence "with my last drop of ink" – suggesting that this is the writer's last word. He says he hopes the poem will prompt others to "liberate themselves from silence" about Israel's nuclear weapons.....

This anger against Israel is exacerbated by the sense some Germans have of not being able to say what they really think – as Grass suggests in the poem. This has created a pent-up resentment towards Israel that could at some point explode. It will be interesting to see whether Grass's poem leads in the next few weeks and months to the debate about Germany's "special relationship" with Israel that he seems to hope it would......

An Israeli military strike on Iran could create a sudden rupture between Germany and Israel in the way that the Iraq war did between Germany and the US. My sense is that were Israel to launch a military strike on Iran, what remaining sympathy there is in Germany for Israel would evaporate almost overnight......."

Günter Grass:'What Must Be Said

Poem published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, has created a heated debate in both Germany and Israel

Günter Grass, Thursday 5 April 2012

"Why have I kept silent, held back so long,

on something openly practiced in

war games, at the end of which those of us

who survive will at best be footnotes?

It's the alleged right to a first strike

that could destroy an Iranian people

subjugated by a loudmouth

and gathered in organized rallies,

because an atom bomb may be being

developed within his arc of power.

Yet why do I hesitate to name

that other land in which

for years—although kept secret—

a growing nuclear power has existed

beyond supervision or verification

subject to no inspection of any kind?

This general silence on the facts,

before which my own silence has bowed,

seems to me a troubling lie, and compels

me toward a likely punishment

the moment it's flouted:

the verdict "Anti-semitism" falls easily.

But now that my own country,

brought in time after time

for questioning about its own crimes,

profound and beyond compare,

is said to be the departure point,

(on what is merely business,

though easily declared an act of reparation)

for yet another submarine equipped

to transport nuclear warheads

to Israel, where not a single atom bomb

has yet been proved to exist, with fear alone

the only evidence, I'll say what must be said.

But why have I kept silent till now?

Because I thought my own origins,

Tarnished by a stain that can never be removed,

meant I could not expect Israel, a land

to which I am, and always will be, attached,

to accept this open declaration of the truth.

Why only now, grown old,

and with what ink remains, do I say:

Israel's atomic power endangers

an already fragile world peace?

Because what must be said

may be too late tomorrow;

and because—burdend enough as Germans—

we may be providing material for a crime

that is foreseeable, so that our complicity

wil not be expunged by any

of the usual excuses.

And granted: I've broken my silence

because I'm sick of the West's hypocrisy;

and I hope too that many may be freed

from their silence, may demand

that those responsible for the open danger

we face renounce the use of force,

may insist that the governments of

both Iran and Israel allow an international authority

free and open inspection of

the nuclear potential and capability of both.

No other course offers help

to Israelis and Palestinians alike,

to all those living side by side in emnity

in this region occupied by illusions,

and ultimately, to all of us."

Asma Assad Shops Until They Drop

Taylor Jones, Cagle Cartoons,

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

A European Union report on Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians, that was suppressed at the insistence of Dutch foreign minister Uri Rosenthal

By Ali Abunimah

"A European Union report on Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians, that was suppressed at the insistence of Dutch foreign minister Uri Rosenthal, has been published today by a nongovernmental group......"

What Marwan Barghouti Really Means to Palestinians

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"Last week Marwan Barghouti, the prominent Palestinian political prisoner and Fatah leader, called on Palestinians to launch a 'large-scale popular resistance' which would 'serve the cause of our people.'

The message was widely disseminated as it coincided with Land Day, an event that has unified Palestinians since March 1976. Its meaning has morphed through the years to represent the collective grievances shared by most Palestinians, including dispossession from their land as a result of Israeli occupation.

Barghouti is also a unifying figure among Palestinians. Even at the height of the Hamas-Fatah clashes in 2007, he insisted on unity and shunned factionalism. It is no secret that Barghouti is still a very popular figure in Fatah, to the displeasure of various Fatah leaders, not least Mahmoud Abbas, who heads both the Palestinian Authority and Fatah.. Throughout its indirect prisoners exchange talks with Israel, Hamas insisted on Barghouti’s release. Israel, which had officially charged and imprisoned Barghouti in 2004 for five alleged counts of murder – but more likely because of his leading role in the Second Palestinian Intifada - insisted otherwise.....

Throughout the years, hundreds of Palestinians been targeted in extrajudicial assassinations; hundreds were deported and thousands continued to be imprisoned. Marwan Barghouti is a representation of all of them and more, and it’s because of this legacy that his messages matters, and greatly so. In his latest message, Barghouti said that the Palestinian Authority should immediately halt “all co-ordination with Israel - economic and security - and work toward Palestinian reconciliation,” rather than another peace agreement.

Most Palestinians already agree."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you believe that the Syrian regime is truthful in carrying out Annan's plan to stop the violence in Syria?

With over 600 responding, 91% said no.

Al-Jazeera Video: Aid pledge to Syrian opposition angers Damascus

Al-Jazeera Video: Thousands of Syrians flood into Jordan

"More than 100,000 Syrians are reportedly staying in Jordan after having fled the violence in their home country, yet the Jordanian authorities still do not recognise them as refugees.
One heavily guarded complex in the town of Ramtha is currently housing more than 1,000 Syrians, but the Jordanian government has kept the place completely off-limits to journalists.
Jordan does not want relations with Syria to turn more sour than they already are.
Al Jazeera's Nisreen El-Shamayleh reports from Ramtha."

Real News Video : Is Netanyahu Bluffing?

Gareth Porter: Netanyahu is telling the Israeli people an attack on Iran will not cost much, but is the real objective to destroy the Iranian economy through sanctions?

More at The Real News

Syrian troops 'attacking rebels' in Damascus

The Independent
Thursday 05 April 2012

"Syrian troops are attacking a suburb of the capital Damascus in what activists described as one of the most violent campaigns since the year-old uprising began.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says "a major operation" is under way in the suburb of Douma, with tanks shelling the area and clashes between troops and army defectors.

Douma-based activist Mohammed Saeed said the operation is "one of the most violent campaigns against the area" since the uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime began in March last year.

The Observatory also said troops are clashing with rebel army defectors in the northern towns of Hraytan and Anadan near Aleppo, and there is fighting in the southern village of Kfar Shams.

The latest violence comes despite Syrian president Bashar Assad's agreement to implement a ceasefire starting on April 10.

The truce is the keystone of a plan put forward by Kofi Annan, the joint UN-Arab League envoy, aimed at ending the country's year-long crisis....."

ICC Prosecutor statement: Fears over justice for Gaza victims

Amnesty International
4 April 2012

"A “dangerous” statement by the office of International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor that it cannot consider allegations of crimes committed during the 2008-9 Gaza conflict means Palestinian and Israeli victims seem likely to be denied justice, Amnesty International said.

The Office of the Prosecutor today said that it cannot consider allegations of crimes committed during the conflict unless the relevant UN bodies or ICC states parties determine that the Palestinian Authority is a state.

"This dangerous decision opens the ICC to accusations of political bias and is inconsistent with the independence of the ICC. It also breaches the Rome Statute which clearly states that such matters should be considered by the institution’s judges,” said Marek Marczyński, Head of Amnesty International’s International Justice campaign.

"For the past three years, the prosecutor has been considering the question of whether the Palestinian Authority is a "state" that comes under the jurisdiction of the ICC and whether the ICC can investigate crimes committed during the 2008-9 conflict in Gaza and southern Israel.”

“Now, despite Amnesty International’s calls and a very clear requirement in the ICC’s statute that the judges should decide on such matters, the Prosecutor has erroneously dodged the question, passing it to other political bodies.”

Egypt group condemns constituent assembly, MB candidate

Bikya Masr

"CAIRO: Egypt’s Constitution for all Egyptians Front, which includes more than 30 political parties and revolutionary coalitions, said in a statement issued on Monday that the most serious risks and challenges facing the revolution are the religious forces, “Islamist parties and the dominance of the Muslim Brotherhood over Parliament’s chambers and the Constituent Assembly entrusted with the development of the country’s new constitution.”

It continued that the Brotherhood’s insistence on maintaining their hegemony over the constitution, “which prompted all the forces and the national parties and gatherings of youth and cultural artistic organizations and women’s and professional trade unions, labor, peasant and religious figures to form the Constitution for all Egyptians Front in order to halt the founding committee, formed by Parliament and reach consensus on the objective criteria for the drafting of the constitution to achieve the basic demands of the revolution in freedom and social justice and human dignity.”....."

مرشح الاخوان لرئاسة مصر: تطبيق الشريعة هدفي الأول والأخير

مرشح الاخوان لرئاسة مصر: تطبيق الشريعة هدفي الأول والأخير
How About Beheading? Is it One of Your Primary Goals Too??

"القاهرة- (رويترز): أعلن خيرت الشاطر مرشح جماعة الاخوان المسلمين لرئاسة مصر أن تطبيق الشريعة الإسلامية هدفه "الأول والأخير" إذا فاز بالانتخابات التي تجرى في مايو ايار ويونيو حزيران.
وفي أول تصريحات معلنة له منذ القرار المفاجئ لجماعة الإخوان المسلمين بترشيحها إياه لخوض سباق انتخابات الرئاسة وعد الشاطر أيضا بإصلاح وزارة الداخلية التي لعبت لفترة طويلة دورا رئيسيا في قمع المعارضة.

ومع ذلك نفى الشاطر أنه ابرم أي صفقة مع الجيش بشأن ترشيحه الذي أعلن يوم السبت الماضي رغم أن هذا الترشح قد يساعد مرشحين مقربين من النظام السابق للرئيس المخلوع حسني مبارك عن طريق تفتيت اصوات الإسلاميين.

وقال الشاطر في اجتماع للهيئة الشرعية للحقوق والإصلاح- وهو عضو فيها- مع شخصيات تنتمي إلى المدرسة السلفية "الشريعة كانت وستظل مشروعي وهدفي الأول والأخير".

وفي تصريحات نشرت في بيان صدر عن الهيئة قال الشاطر في الاجتماع الذي عقد مساء الثلاثاء انه سيؤسس كيانا خاصا لمساعدة البرلمان في تحقيق هذا الهدف.

وقال الشاطر "سأعمل على تكوين مجموعة من أهل الحل والعقد لمعاونة البرلمان في تحقيق هذا الهدف


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Günter Grass launches poetry attack on Israel

German Nobel literature laureate Günter Grass says Israel is a threat to world peace in his poem What Must Be Said, Wednesday 4 April 2012

"German Nobel literature laureate Günter Grass labelled Israel a threat to "already fragile world peace" in a poem published on Wednesday that drew sharp rebukes at home and from Israel.

In the poem, titled What Must be Said, published in German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and Italy's La Repubblica among others, Grass criticises what he describes as western hypocrisy over Israel's own suspected nuclear programme amid speculation it might engage in military action against Iran to stop it building an atomic bomb.

The 84-year-old Grass said he had been prompted to put pen to paper by Berlin's recent decision to sell Israel a submarine able to "send all-destroying warheads where the existence of a single nuclear bomb is unproven".

"The nuclear power Israel is endangering the already fragile world peace," he wrote. His poem specifically criticises Israel's "claim to the right of a first strike" against Iran.

Grass also called for "unhindered and permanent control of Israel's nuclear capability and Iran's atomic facilities through an international body"......"

Muslim Brotherhood officials aim to promote moderate image in Washington visit

The Washington Post

"Members of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood began a week-long charm offensive in Washington on Tuesday, meeting with White House officials, policy experts and others to counter persistent fears about the group’s emergence as the country’s most powerful political force.

The revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak has rapidly transformed the Brotherhood from an opposition group that had been formally banned into a political juggernaut controlling nearly half the seats in Egypt’s newly elected parliament.

With its rise, however, have come concerns from Egypt’s secularists as well as U.S. officials that the Islamist group could remake the country, threatening the rights of women and religious minorities. Such fears were only exacerbated by the Brotherhood’s recent decision to field a candidate in upcoming presidential elections, despite previous pledges that it would not do so.....

Members of the Brotherhood delegation, who met with White House officials Tuesday, are scheduled to meet with more U.S. officials in coming days and attend several events at think tanks.

At those events, they are likely to be scrutinized as representatives of Egypt’s ruling party....."

ICC decision not to pursue justice for victims of Israel war crimes "dangerous" and "political" says Amnesty

By Ali Abunimah

"Amnesty International today condemned a declaration by the office of International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor that it cannot pursue allegations of war crimes related to Israel’s December 2008 - January 2009 “Operation Cast Lead” attack on Gaza which claimed over 1400 Palestinian lives.

The ICC prosecutor’s decision, Amnesty said in a statement, “means Palestinian and Israeli victims seem likely to be denied justice.”

Amnesty’s criticism stemmed from the fact that the prosecutor’s office claimed that “it cannot consider allegations of crimes committed during the conflict unless the relevant UN bodies or ICC states parties determine that the Palestinian Authority is a state.”

However, Amnesty said, this determination is one that belongs in the hands of judges, not the prosecutor....."

Egypt Constitution Faces Islamic Colouring

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

"CAIRO, Apr 4, 2012 (IPS) - The large proportion of Islamist-leaning members in Egypt’s Constituent Assembly elected last month has led to accusations that Islamist parties - especially the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) - are effectively monopolising the constitution-drafting process.

"If the Islamists carry through with plans to draw up a new constitution under the current Islamist- dominated Constituent Assembly, they may end up facing a new revolution," Magdi Sherif, head of the centrist Guardians of the Revolution Party, tells IPS....

Recent days have seen several demonstrations in Cairo organised by non-Islamist parties and movements - including one outside Egypt's parliament building - to protest the assembly's large proportion of Islamist members. Some activists are now calling for a million-man demonstration in Cairo's Tahrir Square next week to demand the assembly's reformulation....."

Spying on the Spies

Outsourcing intelligence-gathering to the Israelis imperils national security

by Justin Raimondo, April 04, 2012

"Stewart Nozette, a brilliant scientist whose work was instrumental in advancing the US space program, was convicted last year of attempting to spy on behalf of Israel, and this month was sentenced to 13 years in prison and a substantial fine. Under investigation for over-charging the government for various services performed by his nonprofit, Nozette was found to be in possession of classified documents – and, in the course of their inquiry, FBI agents discovered an email written by him threatening to turn over classified information to the Israelis if the government pursued its fraud case......

If the Israelis have access to this comprehensive monitoring system, via an electronic “back door,” this means personal information could be readily passed around and used to discredit Israel’s perceived enemies in the US. Can fear be a big part of the explanation for the free pass given to Israel’s covert activities – fear of blackmail?

Oh, so you’re a vocal opponent of Israel’s policies in Palestine? Listen buddy, do we have a thick dossier on you! You’d better shut up – or else. What will your wife say when she sees that email – complete with lurid attachment – you sent the other night?

It’s the alleged function of government to protect us from foreign invaders, bad guys from overseas who would do us harm. In this instance, however, they haven’t just failed – they’ve shirked their sworn duty. This may be one of the biggest stories since September 11, 2001 – which is why you won’t hear a word about it from the legacy media and their online imitators. Kudos to Wired for breaking this latest aspect of an ongoing story. How long, I wonder, before they’re darkly accused of spreading pernicious “conspiracy theories”?....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Bahrain economy battered from inside and out

"Prices in the capital city of Manama have risen sharply, partly due to the state of the world economy, but also as a result of the current political instability in Bahrain....."

Securing the Gulag: Assad accused of brutal border crackdown

New mines and increased border security can make refugees' journey to Lebanon a deadly one

The Independent
Tripoli, Lebanon
Wednesday 04 April 2012

"The already perilous journey for refugees fleeing the violence in Syria has become increasingly deadly in recent weeks as President Bashar al-Assad attempts to tighten control of the conflict-ravaged country's borders with fresh landmines, say aid workers and fleeing refugees.

As spring arrives, the Syrian army is said to be laying new mines along the 330km long border with Lebanon to replace those washed away during winter flooding and removed by activists.

It comes amid wider attempts by the Syrian regime to disrupt networks smuggling people, weapons and aid through the once notoriously porous borders, and reports of recent incursions into Lebanon to rout out rebels.....

One refugee who fled to Lebanon's second city of Tripoli two weeks ago told The Independent that she scoured the ground for any sign of hidden mines as she crossed with her seven-year-old son, and that the border hills are littered with the gory remains of those who had failed to spot them.

"I saw the human flesh and body parts on the ground where people had trodden on them," said Afida, 41, from the devastated city of Homs. At one point where the valley she crossed was still flooded, she had to guide her son across the swollen waters on a makeshift bridge made from planks of wood with a rope strung overhead......"

George Galloway and Jean-Luc Mélenchon expose a huge political gap

The rise of France's 'third man' and Bradford's by-election both show a left populism can win mass support in this crisis

Seumas Milne, Tuesday 3 April 2012

"....It's true that Galloway's record on western-backed wars and occupations in the Muslim world, and his uncompromising defence of the most demonised community in the country, gave him a particular credibility in a constituency with a 37% Muslim population. And the call for withdrawal from Afghanistan is certainly popular with Muslims – though it's also supported by 70% of the entire country.

But the central thrust of Galloway's pitch in Bradford was in fact about cuts, tuition fees, unemployment, poverty and the decline of a city neglected and mismanaged by all the main parties. Respect campaigned as "real Labour" against New Labour, while Galloway declared he wanted to "drag Labour in a progressive direction". And far from dividing communities on ethnic or religious lines, he won majorities in every part of the constituency, including the mainly white areas.

Bradford was a vote against austerity and war, but also against a reviled me-too political establishment, local and national. That alienation has been growing for years, but as cuts are forced through and living standards squeezed further, expect more one-offs whenever the opportunity arises.

Such alienation is common across de-industrialised, deregulated Europe and can also be exploited by the right....."

Jordan: Demonstrators Beaten in Custody

Thirteen Charged With Speech Crimes After Violent Police Breakup

Human Rights Watch
April 3, 2012

"(Beirut) – Police beat close to 30 demonstrators at a police station this week, two of whom fainted from the ill-treatment, Human Rights Watch said today after interviewing six witnesses to the March 31, 2012 arrests, including two detainees who were later freed. Military prosecutors charged 13 of them with crimes related to their exercise of freedom of speech to criticize the authorities, but no inquiry into ill-treatment has been announced, Human Rights Watch said.

Jordan’s response to demonstrations looks more and more repressive,” said Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Its security forces violently break up peaceful protests and then continue to beat and insult detainees in custody.”...."

Palestinian Authority/Israel: Escalating Assault on Free Expression

Palestinian Authority Arrests Journalist, Facebook Users; Israel Raids University Media Center

Human Rights Watch
April 3, 2012

"(Jerusalem) - The Palestinian Authority (PA) should not criminally prosecute Yusuf al-Shayeb, a journalist detained without charge on March 26, 2012, and released on April 2, Human Rights Watch said today. He is being investigated for libeling PA officials whom he accused of spying and corruption. The PA should also release Palestinians detained without charge for criticizing the PA on their Facebook pages.

Israeli authorities should not prosecute Adel Rweished, an administrator at Al Quds University whom Israeli police detained on April 2, 2012 during a raid on the university’s media center in Jerusalem’s old city. Police broke up an event marking the launch of a new website, and also arrested a security guard. They released both men but summoned them for further questioning. The arrests were based on an Israeli order stating that the Palestinian Authority had organized the event, but Israeli officials provided no evidence to support that claim, which university officials denied. Israel does not allow the Palestinian Authority to operate politically in Jerusalem. It was the second Israeli raid on media programs at Al Quds University since February 29.

Both the Palestinian Authority and Israel should stop harassing and arresting journalists,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “These attacks send a chilling message about exercising the right to free expression.”

The arrests violate international free speech standards, Human Rights Watch said. Hamas authorities in Gaza have also carried out arrests of journalists in recent weeks in violation of international free speech standards, including allegedly torturing the editor of a news website and arresting other journalists for their presence in an unmarked “security zone.”......."

Syria: Repression continues despite Annan plan hopes

3 April 2012

"Arrests have been continuing in Syria only days after the Syrian government agreed to implement parts of Kofi Annan’s six-point plan, Amnesty International said today.

Thirteen school pupils, all male and aged between 17 and 19, were reportedly arrested on 1 April by men in plain clothes at a secondary school specialising in business in the town of Daraya.

Family members told Amnesty International that according to eyewitness, the students were searched, beaten and verbally abused in front of other pupils before being taken away. The families have no information as to their whereabouts or safety.

The families of the 13 students told Amnesty International that they believe that the men who arrested their relatives belonged to Air Force Intelligence, a security body which has been responsible for many, if not most, of the arrests in Daraya since March 2011.

The Daraya region has throughout the year-long uprising seen widespread protests, in many cases led by young activists.

There are thousands of people still in detention across Syria, many held incommunicado, in danger of being tortured, and without access to lawyers,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

“Continuing to hold people in such conditions, and making new arrests like this, raises serious questions about how serious the government is about respecting its commitments under the Annan plan."....

"But the burden is on the Security Council now to prove it has not merely given the Syrian government more time and cover to continue its ruthless repression"....."

Jordan: Pro-reformists detained for “insulting” the King must be released

Amnesty International
3 April 2012

"A law which allows the Jordanian authorities to detain activists on the basis of “insulting the king” must be repealed, Amnesty International said after 30 to 40 apparently peaceful protesters were detained in Amman.

At least 13 people remain in custody in the wake of the weekend protests against the detention of half a dozen pro-reform activists.

Four activists have been held for nearly a month and are now facing charges of ‘insulting’ the king amid a growing crackdown on freedom of expression.

The protestors are understood to have been arrested when they called for the downfall of the government. Some 40 to 50 officers of the Gendarmerie allegedly beat and kicked them before loading them into a police van.

According to a lawyer who visited them, they were also beaten after arrest, as a result of which, one suffered a broken arm. The lawyer’s request to the State Security Prosecutor that they be referred to a hospital for examination was apparently refused.

"Jordan continues to use a draconian law which effectively criminalizes political dissent as a way to silence political opponents and government critics,” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

The detainees apparently face additional charges relating to threatening the stability of the government, illegal assembly, inciting unrest. They face trial before the State Security Court (SSC), a special court which fails to meet international fair trial standards.

"So far as we know, these individuals have not advocated violence or gone beyond the legitimate exercise of their right to freedom of expression and therefore the authorities are effectively violating rights which they have an obligation to protect under international law standards."....."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Rise and Fall of Hezbollah

Once considered to be one of the strongest non-state military factions in the entire Middle East, we are now witnessing the decline of Hezbollah. Though it may seem to be at the peak of its career of might, in reality the popularity of Hezbollah - the bedrock of its legitimacy - is at an all-time low.
I remember during 1980s when Hezbollah's men were stereotyped at the time as bearded Iranian militia with black ribbons on their foreheads, who claimed to be representatives of God on earth. They wanted to establish the Islamic State of Lebanon as part of The Ummah (The Islamic Nation). But this image started to change a decade later when they won eight out of 128 seats in the 1992 Lebanese parliamentary elections, thus gaining legitimate representation and indicating their acceptance to the Lebanese confessional system.
This signaled a new phase of engagement with the wider Lebanese community and a greater understanding of the local sectarian balance of powers, which led Hezbollah to stop publicly calling for an Islamic state. It started using national symbols like Lebanese flags and other local signs, and less Iranian ones. It replaced the reference to the 'Islamic Revolution' on their flag with the 'Islamic Resistance.' The popularity of Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's Secretary General, reached its peak when his son Hadi was martyred in 1997 while fighting on the front line with Israel
In 2000, things started to change. Israel withdrew from the Lebanese-occupied territories leaving presence in the disputed 25 km2 Shebbaa farms. The cost-to-benefit ratio debate about armed struggle was raised, after it was once a taboo. On 14th February 2005, the former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated causing an unprecedented earthquake in Lebanese politics. The Syrian army was driven out of Lebanon as a result of the mass demonstration on March 14, 2005 and the UN Security Council 1559 resolution which required all foreign troops to leave Lebanon. Hezbollah became more aggressive-- taking on a management role in Lebanon's internal political game - basically replacing Rustom Ghazzaleh, the former head of Syrian intelligence apparatus in Lebanon.
Although Hezbollah managed to score major tactical gains, but it betrayed the principles it always fought for, or said it fought for.
These principles were shattered by the strategic mistakes which would ultimately contribute to the erosion of its popular support. To start with, its fight with Israel; Hezbollah never confirmed its 'scope of works'. It never clarified too the goal it set to accomplish and at what cost to the Lebanese people. And it never allowed itself to be accountable to questioning like any other state institution, and never explained its chain of command which extends beyond the Lebanese borders. Or indeed it never felt apologetic to the fact that Lebanon is being dragged (in a "positive ambiguous way") into issues, which had nothing to do with it, such as the Iranian nuclear issue.
Nasrallah contradicted himself even more because he had previously hailed the Egyptian revolution against Hosni Mubarak, and offered 'everything he can' to its success in one of his speeches. He didn't object arming the Libyan the revolution which was supported by NATO. Despite of Emir of Qatar known Israeli connections at the time, Hezbollah warmly welcomed Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani in southern Lebanon, thanking him for his support in reconstruction after the July 2006 war. Now, it has turned him into a traitor, leading the 'conspiracy' against them via the Syrian crisis. Now in their media, the so-called Arab Spring is tainted with conspiracy theories, despite being initially called an 'Islamic uprising' by the Iranian leader Ali Khamenei.

Analysis: A revolution is taking place in Syria's Palestinian camps

As the regime of Bashar al-Assad begins to lose its grip in Damascus, an important minority is being overlooked that might yet play a significant political role.

By Nagham Issa

(Nagham Issa is an NGO worker who recently returned from Syria and who spent extensive time in Mukhyam Yarmouk, the main Palestinian camp in Damascus.)

There are no estimates as to how many Palestinians have been killed since the unrest in Syria began, but the growing call for the fall of the Syrian regime has not passed Syria's estimated 500,000 Palestinian community by. Increased tensions with the Syrian authorities could yet mark a change in direction for the revolution, particularly in the capital, home to Syria's largest Palestinian camp, Mukhyam Yarmouk.

Since the revolution began the Palestinian political elite in Syria have doggedly stuck by the regime's side. At the forefront have been Al Saiqa (the Palestinian Ba'athists) and the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command (PFLP GC) that have actively taken roles in the intimidation and arrest of suspected pro democracy protestors. Led by men such as Ahmad Jabril and Maher al Taher, they have continually pushed the regime line that Assad is the protector of Palestine and that the Syrian regime is fighting an armed insurgence sponsored by Islamic Jihadists and Israeli-backed Western powers.

There have been some attempts by the camp to challenge their hold – most notably during last year's anniversary of the expulsion of the Palestinians from their homeland (the Naqba) - but the continued support of the regime by these Palestinian groups has only seen their patronage increase. The silence of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and opposition factions has also given little encouragement for other voices in the camps to speak out.

Yet against this political context, the community's living conditions have only worsened in recent months. As sanctions have played their role in crippling the Syrian economy, the price of daily food stores have risen sharply: the price of twelve eggs increased from 125 to 320 lira in the last month alone. Access to gas, electricity and mazoot (oil used for heating) have become extremely limited and even the state subsidised bread have been rationed to only two packs per day per customer.

Furthermore, the violence affecting the rest of the country has not left Palestinian communities unscathed. Last summer's naval attack on the coastal area in Lattakia saw Al Rammal camp devastated by the regime for harbouring "armed gangs". The camps in Deraa and Homs have come under routine under attack since the crisis began in March last year.

However, as Syria's population continues to fight against the oppressive tactics of Assad's despotic regime, it could be that Syrian Palestinians will not remain quiescent. As the revolution gains momentum in the camps, it might not be long before we see another Damascene suburb fall and all Syrians one step further towards bringing about the end to the Assad regime.