Saturday, June 30, 2012
"Al Jazeera's senior political analyst Marwan Bishara updates on the latest from Egypt."
الصحفي محمد جرادات أثناء الاعتداء عليه
"قامت قوات الأمن الفلسطينية عضر اليوم السبت، بقمع المسيرة السلمية التي خرجت من دوار المنارة في مدينة رام الله، تنديدا بزيارة موفاز المرتقبة الى رام الله يوم الأحد، إذ تم اعتقال العديد من المشاركين الذين أُفرج عنهم في وقت لاحق.
وعلم موقع عــ48ـرب أنه وبعد انطلاق المسيرة التي شارك فيها المئات بدقائق، قامت قوات الأمن بتطويقها، ومنعوا المشاركين من الوصول الى مقر المقاطعة الفلسطينية حيث كان من المفترض أن تُختتم المسيرة هناك.
وفي حديث مع أحد المشاركين في المسيرة قال لعــ48ـرب أن الأمن منع الصحافيين من أداء عملهم، وصادر كمراتهم، كما وقام بالإعتداء عليهم وعلى جموع المشاركين.
وهتف المشاركين خلال المسيرة بشعارات ضد سياسة المفاوضات العبثية والتنسيق الأمني مع الإحتلال وضد السلطة الفلسطينية ورئيسها أبو مازن.
وتُفيد الأنباء الواردة أنه تم الإفراج عن جميع المعتقلين، بعد تخطي العشرات من المتظاهرين
الحواجز الأمنية، متوجهين نحو مقر المقاطعة، للمطالبة بالإفراج عن المعتقلين، وكانوا يهتفون "يسقط يسقط عسكر دايتون".
وتناقل العديد من الناشطين صورا عبر الفيسبوك تُظهر استعمال قوات الأمن الفلسطينية للبلطجية من أجل اعتقال المتظاهرين.
كما ولوحظ استدعاء وحدة خاصة من الشرطيات بهدف اعتقال المتظاهرات المشاركات في الإحتجاجات على زيارة موفاز المرتقبة.
واصيب كل من الناشط الفلسطيني والمصمم المعروف حافظ عُمر، وحسن فرج، بإصابة خطيرة في الرأس تم نقلهم على اثرها الى المستشفى لتلقي العلاج.
كما تم اعتقال الصحفي محمد جرادات بعد الإعتداء عليه من قبل الأمن، وذلك أثناء تغطيته للأحداث، وتم الإفراج عنه في وقت لاحق، إذ تم الإعتداء عليه أيضا خلال ساعات الإعتقال وهو الآن متواجد في المستشفى.
موفاز يتهم نتنياهو بإحباط اللقاء
اتهم مقربو شاؤول موفاز، رئيس الحكومة بنيامين نتنياهو باحباط اللقاء الذي كان مقررا عقده، غدا الاحد، بين نائب رئيس الحكومة الاسرائيلية شاؤول موفاز ورئيس السلطة الفلسطينية محمود عباس.
ونقل موقع صحيفة "هارتس" ، اليوم السبت عن مقربين من موفاز قولهم ان نتنياهو اصدر توجيهاته لمساعده لشؤون المفاوضات المحامي يتسحاق مولخو ان يطلب من ابومازن الغاء الاجتماع المقرر مع موفاز. وان هذا الاجراء جاء في سياق الصراع بين الرجلين على بديل قانون طال المتعلق ببتجنيد الحريديم وعلى خلفية التوتر القائم بين الاثنين بعد فشل اللقاء الذي جمعهما في ايجاد توافق حول الموضوع، في ضوء اصرار موفاز على فرض اجراءات عقابية على الشبان المتدينين الذين يتهربون من تادية الخدمة العسكرية وهو ما يرفضه نتنياهو الذي لا يرغب بقطع الخيوط مع حركة شاس شريكته في الائتلاف.
من جهة ثانية نفى مقربو نتنياهو هذه الادعاءات، التي اعتبروها سخيفة، قائلين انها صدرت في اعقاب اعلن الفلسطينيين عن الغاء اللقاء على خلفية وقوع مظاهرات في رام الله ضد اقامته.
Martin Chulov in northern Syria
guardian.co.uk, Friday 29 June 2012
"....Weapons are not the only new arrivals. The rebels acknowledged that three days ago an American man, believed to be a government employee, passed through. He had first been shown around a nearby refugee camp and was brought into Syria by rebels who are not from here; his destination unknown.
The rebels, however, disavow any knowledge though of other foreigners, particularly Arab nationals who are reputed to be entering Syria in increasing numbers as the war grinds on. Early on Friday morning, the Guardian witnessed three Libyan men and two Gulf state nationals arrive in the southern Turkish province of Hatay on a flight from Istanbul.
Two of the new arrivals were carrying backpacks and provisions, but it was not clear if they were planning to join an insurgency across the border.
"It is possible that they could be fighters wanting to help us," said Hallak. "But al-Qaida is not welcome here and everybody knows it. Their ideology is not accepted and their help will be refused. But I swear by God that nobody like that has dared pass through here."
As the men prepare for the next shipment of guns and ammunition – which is widely believed to be organised, by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which it is understood sent the first two – they rattle off a shopping list.
One walks to another room to fetch an automatic weapon that was delivered in May. "Can this stop a tank?" Hallak asked rhetorically. "No way."
He added: "Can an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade)? Maybe. But we need anti-tank rockets. We need heavier weapons. Hopefully they will be delivered. They will really make a difference.""
"Amnesty International today called on Egypt’s new president to rise to the challenge of breaking the cycle of abuse perpetuated under Hosni Mubarak and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). The organization urged him to take decisive action in his first 100 days to put Egypt firmly on the path of the rule of law and respect for human rights.
Amnesty International will be closely monitoring whether he is serious about delivering human rights change, and will take stock of his human rights achievements during this critical time for reform.
Ahead of President Mohamed Morsi’s swearing-in ceremony, the organization has presented him with a memorandum detailing what it considers the key human rights priorities for Egypt.
“Since the uprising in January last year, Egyptians have heard many promises that their demands would be listened to and that things would change, but so far their hopes have largely been frustrated,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General. “We hope, as they do, that this stage of the transition might herald a turning of the corner.”
“It will be important to scrutinise the early months of the new President, and hold him to account for the actions he takes, or does not take, to get to grips with the pressing human rights priorities in Egypt.”
“Egypt deserves a leadership which is prepared to confront the abuses of the past, restore the rule of law in the present and set out a vision of human rights for all for the future.”
Key priorities include ending the military’s power to police civilians, reforming the security forces, launching independent investigations into violations of the past – both under Mubarak and the SCAF – and putting in place measures to stop discrimination against women and religious minorities, Amnesty International said......."
By Alaa Al-Aswani
"....We should congratulate Morsy for the presidency but also remind him of a number of facts.
1. It was not only the votes of the Brotherhood that secured a victory for him; in fact, their votes alone would have not helped him win.....
2. Over a year and a half, the SCAF has not achieved the goals of the revolution and rejected any changes to the structure of Mubarak's regime. Now that Morsy has been elected president, change cannot be put off.....
3. Around 1,200 Egyptians died in the revolution, another 1,000 are still missing (most probably dead) and thousands more were injured for Morsy to become president.....
4. The new president will have to choose between either achieving the goals of the revolution or the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood through deals with the SCAF. I hope the Brotherhood will not repeat their historical mistakes, for since its inception, the group has considered its own interests to be necessarily the same as those of the nation. This has led the group to forge deals with people in power which eventually harmed the nation. Their last such miscalculation was their alliance with the SCAF after the revolution, which has delayed the drafting of a new constitution.
Morsy’s mission will not be easy because he will have to stand in the face of Mubarak’s regime, which very strongly resists change. In his battle with the old regime, Morsy needs the support of all Egyptians who will only back him up if he struggles to serve the interests of Egypt and not the Brotherhood.
5. Morsy has repeatedly pledged to maintain the civilian nature of the state. However, this pledge is open to several different interpretations. A civil state has four pillars, which are:
a. Citizenship rights
Egyptian citizens should enjoy their full rights regardless of their religion. The rights of Copts, which were undermined under Mubarak, should be restored in the new era, like genuine Islam preaches.
b. Protection of established personal freedoms
One of the manifestations of the civility in Egypt is that the citizen alone should determine their lifestyle within the limits of the law. If personal freedoms are curtailed under the pretext of implementing a moral program, then this would constitute a regression to the dark ages.
c. Protection of the freedom of thought
We warn the president-elect against listening to extremists who are wary of culture and arts, for Egypt has always been the home of Middle Eastern arts and thought.
We will never accept that creativity be monitored by dogmatic minds because this will waste our cultural legacy and kill creativity. Ideas should be confronted with ideas. This is the golden rule for safeguarding Egyptian culture.
d. Implementation of Sharia punishments should be put off
Any attempt to implement Sharia penalties will tear Egyptian society apart. Morsy knows quite well that the punishments in Sharia cannot be implemented before the elimination of poverty, illiteracy and disease. This is a humanitarian as well as a jurisprudential principle.
Egyptians expect a lot from Morsy and will support him strongly as long as he works for Egypt’s interests and for the achievement of the objectives of the revolution."
By Hossam El-Hamalawy
June 30th, 2012
"....The MBs are not a unified block. While the organization is in effect run and controlled by multi millionaires like Khairat el-Shatter, seeking compromise and reconciliation with the regime, their base cadres who hail from middle, lower middle and section of the working class are a different story. Across its history and with every twist and turn the Brotherhood were subject to splits......
A fascist organization is solely dedicated to the destruction of working class organizations. The MB is a reformist organization, whose leadership is just as reactionary and opportunistic as any of their reformist counterparts from other tendencies. The MB leadership which refrained for an entire year from mobilization in the streets, collaborated with the junta, for a share of the cake, was only forced to return to the streets recently, after it became clear they were being cornered. The junta dissolved the MB-led parliament in one day and the Egyptian people did not rise up to defend the “Revolution Parliament.” Why would they? What did they see from that parliament except laws banning porno websites, personal scandals that amount to soap operas involving Salafi deputies, failure on all levels to hold SCAF or the cabinet accountable for the state the country has gotten into?......
The Revolutionary Socialists refused to attend meetings with Morsi when they were invited. Instead the RS have been active with other forces in trying to build a third block building on the constituency that ended up voting for Hamdeen Sabahy in specific, largely the industrial base. But at the same time understanding the contradictions within the MBs, the RS refused to treat Tahrir as some leper colony to be avoided like what other leftists did. The RS were present in the marches and the square with their own red flags, with their newspapers (which made record sales), with their statements that were distributed widely all over the square. The RS were not and are not interested in reaching out to Morsi and the MB Guidance Bureau, but in reaching out to the middle and lower ranking organizers and supporters of the group. The RS presence in Tahrir provided a golden opportunity for opening up discussions with young MBs. The RS activists who went to the square in general reported positive feedback by the young MBs regarding the RS statement and position. Revolutionaries, I believe, must be present at any mobilization against SCAF, even when we know that the MB’s leadership is opportunistic and will not continue the fight till the end. We do not have illusions about the nature of the MB leadership, but their base cadres and sections of the population do. And we must do our best to reach out to them if we want this revolution to succeed......
As soon as Morsi’s speech ended in Tahrir, the square echoed strongly with anti-SCAF chants, including one directed at Tantawi, asking him to give the military salute to his president Morsi. In reality, and that’s what will those in the square will discover in the coming days, Morsi has no power whatsoever vis a vis Tantawi and SCAF. And every compromise he will make will cost him and his group disillusioned supporters and splits.
The revolution hasn’t ended and will not be diffused by Morsi’s victory. Morsi and the MBs have opened the pandora’s box, and the coming days will only exacerbate their contradictions. And it’s a process the left cannot be separate from. While continuing to build its base independently, and building alliances with other forces who seek an alternative different from what SCAF and the MBs could provide, the revolutionary left must continue to tactically intervene in any confrontation between SCAF and the MBs."
Friday, June 29, 2012
"خريطة المواقف الدولية تجاه دمشق عشية اجتماع جنيف بشأن الأزمة السورية
تقديم غادة عويس
تاريخ البث 2012/06/29
"The United Nations says the Free Syrian Army have stepped up their offensives against government troops, capturing an increasing number of high ranking officers.
Will Jordan reports."
Special Report: Need for oil routes buys time, claims key Damascus figure
By Robert Fisk
"President Bashar al-Assad of Syria may last far longer than his opponents believe – and with the tacit acceptance of Western leaders anxious to secure new oil routes to Europe via Syria before the fall of the regime. According to a source intimately involved in the possible transition from Baath party power, the Americans, Russians and Europeans are also putting together an agreement that would permit Assad to remain leader of Syria for at least another two years in return for political concessions to Iran and Saudi Arabia in both Lebanon and Iraq.
For its part, Russia would be assured of its continued military base at Tartous in Syria and a relationship with whatever government in Damascus eventually emerges with the support of Iran and Saudi Arabia. Russia’s recent concession – that Assad may not be essential in any future Syrian power structure – is part of a new understanding in the West which may accept Assad’s presidency in return for an agreement that prevents a further decline into civil war.
Information from Syria suggests that Assad’s army is now “taking a beating” from armed rebels, who include Islamist as well as nationalist forces; at least 6,000 soldiers are now believed to have been murdered or killed in action since the rebellion against Assad began 17 months ago. There are even unconfirmed reports that during any one week up to a thousand Syrian fighters are under training by mercenaries in Jordan at a base used by Western authorities for personnel seeking ‘anti-terrorist’ security exercises.....
But the real object of talks between the world powers revolves around the West’s determination to secure oil and particularly gas from the Gulf states without relying upon supplies from Moscow....
What Assad is still hoping for, according to Arab military veterans, is a solution a-l’Algerie. After the cancellation of democratic elections in Algeria, its army and generals – ‘le pouvoir’ to Algerians – fought a merciless war against rebels and Islamist guerrillas across the country throughout the 1990s, using torture and massacre to retain government power but leaving an estimated 200,000 dead among their own people.
Amid this crisis, the Algerian military actually sent a delegation to Damascus to learn from Hafez el-Assad’s Syrian army how it destroyed the Islamist rebellion in Hama – at a cost of up to 20,000 dead – in 1982. The Algerian civil war – remarkably similar to that now afflicting Assad’s regime – displayed many of the characteristics of the current tragedy in Syria: babies with their throats cut, families slaughtered by mysterious semi-military ‘armed groups’, whole towns shelled by government forces.
And, much more interesting to Assad’s men, the West continued to support the Algerian regime with weapons and political encouragement throughout the 1990s while huffing and puffing about human rights....."
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 28 June 2012
"....Everything changed when the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) thought that the revolution had ended and that the time was ripe for a coup. It issued five decrees, including the dissolution of parliament and the creation of a constitution transferring legislative power to the military council. An enforcement law allowed members of the armed forces to arrest civilians.
Shortly before the second run-off, when it became clear to Scaf that Morsi was about to win, it hastened to issue two further decrees: the first forming a secretariat that curtailed the powers of the president, and the second creating a higher council for defence, to be staffed mainly by military personnel.
The military's decisions infuriated the Egyptian public, and the wider Arab world. In a strange way, however, they also benefited the Brotherhood and the revolutionary forces, rescuing them from their growing disarray. They helped them overcome internal divisions and form an understanding......
Morsi being declared president means that the revolution now has three institutions: the presidency, the parliament and the square. Two of them, the parliament and the presidency, are consistent with the legitimacy of the democratic elections. As for the square, it has its own revolutionary legitimacy. The destiny of the three is intertwined.
This is what prompted the revolutionaries to continue with their sit-in, even after Morsi's presidency was announced. The confrontation with Scaf is not over: it has merely entered a new phase, in which the people appear to be armed for the first time with both determination and legitimacy. The Arab spring is stronger today than at any time in its history; in not only Egypt, but also the entire Arab world.....
To the people in the street, the rest of the world's reaction has merely confirmed their suspicions, namely that western governments still indulge in double standards in their approach to the democratic changes in the Arab world. The region's people still recall the staunch support those countries lent to tyrannical regimes for decades....."
Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, 76, who called time on Hosni Mubarak, will adopt president's title of supreme commander
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 28 June 2012
"Egypt's armed forces chief will keep his post as defence minister in a new cabinet to be formed by president-elect Mohamed Morsi, a member of the military council has said. Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, 76, who served as defence minister for two decades under Hosni Mubarak, will keep his post after Egypt's first Islamist president takes over, Major-General Mohamed Assar said in a rare appearance on a talk show on privately-owned CBC television on Wednesday night.
"The [new] government will have a defence minister who is head of the supreme council of the armed forces," he said. Asked if this meant Tantawi would keep his defence portfolio, Assar said: "Exactly. What is wrong with that? He is the head of the supreme council of the armed forces, the defence minister and the commander of the armed forces."....."
Thursday, June 28, 2012
"CAIRO, Jun 28 2012 (IPS) - The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi faces a host of daunting political hurdles after being officially declared Egypt’s first freely-elected president on Sunday.
“Due to ongoing political jockeying between the Brotherhood and the ruling military council, it remains uncertain until now what state institution Morsi will swear the oath of office in front of,” Abdel Ghaffar Shukr, founder of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party told IPS.....
Within recent days, the Brotherhood has issued conflicting statements [so, what is new??] as to which state institution Morsi would, in fact, take the oath of office before. Some have said he would do so before the dissolved parliament; others that he would do so before the HCC; and others still that he would be sworn in at a ceremony in Tahrir Square.
According to the SCAF’s official electoral timetable, Egypt’s new president is supposed to take the oath of office on Saturday (Jun. 30).
Morsi is currently in talks with the SCAF in hopes of reaching agreement to amend the constitutional addendum and reinstate the dissolved People’s Assembly, so that he might be sworn in before parliament.
His prospects, however, appear bleak. On Tuesday (Jun. 26), SCAF member Mamdouh Shahin told journalists that Morsi would “comply with the law and take the oath of office before the HCC.”
The situation, meanwhile, has also brought the Brotherhood and its president-elect under pressure from their secular-revolutionary allies.
On Tuesday, the April 6 youth movement – which played a prominent role in last year’s uprising and which threw its weight behind Morsi in the recent runoff – warned that taking the oath of office before the HCC was “tantamount to recognising this ‘constitutional addendum’ that leaves Egypt under the de facto control of the military.”
On Wednesday (Jun. 27), Morsi’s presidential office stated that it would definitively announce the location of the oath-taking ceremony the following day. Before dawn on Thursday, however, the state press cited an official source as saying: “If Morsi isn’t sworn in before the HCC on Saturday…the SCAF reserves the right to declare the office of president void.”
“Morsi may have won the election,” said Shukr, “but the ongoing struggle between the SCAF and the Brotherhood for control of the country is far from over.”"
Rescind Their Military Court Convictions
June 28, 2012
"(Beirut) – Bahraini authorities should quash the sentences of two protesters unfairly convicted by military courts for participating in pro-democracy demonstrations in February and March 2011, Human Rights Watch said today. Both men are in need of urgent medical treatment due to the long-term effects of injuries from security forces’ gunfire during the demonstrations. Their families say they have been denied the medical care they need.
Both of the men, Jaffar Salman Maki and Mohamed Ali, were convicted on charges of “illegal gathering,” which appear to violate their right to freedom of assembly, Human Rights Watch said. They did not have access to lawyers during their trials in a military court. A court of cassation is scheduled to review Maki’s conviction on June 28, 2012.
“The least authorities could do is void the convictions of these two Bahraini men who were tried and sentenced without lawyers by military courts,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Right Watch. “These young men have already paid a heavy personal price, and deserve an end to this nightmare.”....."
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
""We are living in a state of war and we are focused on winning it."
Syria's President, Bashar al Assad, has now admitted the full scale of the conflict in a meeting with his new cabinet.
Within hours of his pronouncement, gunmen stormed a pro-government television station in Damascus, killing seven people and kidnapping several others. The attackers used explosives against the compound.
Charles Stratford has the latest on violence edging closer to the Syrian capital."
"When Lebanese security reportedly killed 18-year-old Ahmad al-Qasim over a documentation dispute in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, the camp's Palestinian refugee population erupted in anger and dismay.
Within a few days of the June 15 incident, the outrage had spread and more refugees were killed. Fouad Muhi’edeen Lubany was killed on June 18, as a crowd of mourning refugees attempted to bury the first victim of Nahr al-Bared, near Tripoli in the north. Another victim of the violence was Khaled al-Youssef, who was shot in Ein al-Hilweh refugee camp, near Saida, about 30 miles south of Beirut. More Palestinians were reportedly injured, along with three Lebanese security officers.
Palestinian refugees in Lebanon exist on the margins of a larger political question concerning the country’s irreconcilable sectarian, factional and familial divides....
Lebanon’s Palestinian refugees continue to be victimized by a bewildering political landscape and unmistakable discrimination by the state. Their treatment is often justified by the pretense that Palestinian refugees are temporary ‘guests’ in Lebanon. Now even third generation ‘guests’ of a UN-registered population of nearly 450,000 refugees are denied home ownership, inheritance of land or real estate. They are also barred from many professions. The state of near complete economic stagnation has resulted in socioeconomic regression, placing Palestinian refugees in Lebanon at a very low standing with little hope for the future.
In a report released on June 20 to coincide with World Refugee Day, American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) resolved that “Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon are considered the worst of the region’s refugee camps in terms of poverty, health, education and living conditions.” ANERA reported that two out of three refugees subsist on less than $6 a day, and that discrimination against them is expressed in multiple areas ranging from health care to housing....."
By Pepe Escobar
"Signs that new Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi won't rock the dhow on contentious issues such as Palestine show his foreign-policy cloth has been cut in a backroom deal with the armed forces. While that suits Washington as proof the Muslim Brotherhood under Morsi can be easily contained by the military dictatorship apparatus, the first real test of the shackles will be how he handles relations with Iran [How about lifting the Gaza Siege??]....."
UN-appointed human rights experts say shabiha forces had better access to site in Houla, where more than 100 were killed
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 27 June 2012
"A United Nations investigation into the killing of more than 100 civilians in the Syrian area of Houla last month says forces loyal to the government "may have been responsible" for many of the deaths.
A report by UN-appointed human rights experts says the military or pro-government shabiha forces had better access to the sites of the massacre in the Houla village, in Homs province, on May 24-25.
The village leans toward opposition support and most of the victims were women and children who were slaughtered in their homes......"
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 26 June 2012
"Even before the Egyptian army's latest power grab, optimism about the Arab uprisings had reached a low ebb. For many the "Arab spring" has long since turned into an Arab winter, as savage repression and counter-revolution crushed, hijacked or diverted popular pressure for democratic rights and social justice......
In the meantime, the first free election of an Egyptian president is likely to give renewed impetus to protest movements for democratic change across the region. The US is said to be particularly concerned about the autocratic pro-western Jordanian regime. Last week, the opposition-dominated parliament was dissolved in Kuwait; protests and strikes have led to arrests and trials in Oman.
The spread of revolt is essential if real change is to continue in the Arab world. The Saudi and other western-backed Gulf dictatorships have been central to the drive to suppress, derail or poison the uprisings of the past 18 months – the fulcrum of the regional counter-revolution. Only when they reach the heartlands of autocracy will the Arab revolution be secure."
Border Forces Appear to Shoot on Sight Syrians Fleeing to Jordan
June 27, 2012
"(Amman) – Syrian soldiers on the border with Jordan appear to be shooting indiscriminately at anyone - including civilian women and children - trying to flee from Syria, Human Rights Watch said today. The Syrian authorities should immediately order its armed forces on the border to end all indiscriminate attacks and take all feasible measures to avoid injuries to civilians crossing into neighboring countries, and to respect their right to leave the country.
In mid-June, Human Rights Watch spoke with 17 Syrian refugees in Jordan who said that when they fled in May and June across the border in groups of up to 200 civilians accompanied by members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Syrian soldiers subjected them to sustained machine gun and sniper fire, killing three civilians and wounding 11. All of the refugees described incidents in which the Syrian army opened fire without warning, and fired on everyone who was crossing the border, FSA fighters and civilian men, women and children alike...."
After 16 Years, Chance for Justice
June 27, 2012
"(Tripoli) – The sixteenth anniversary of the Abu Salim prison massacre on June 28 to 29, 2012, offers victims’ families across Libya the first chance to commemorate the 1996 tragedy without fear of government repression.
The government should establish a justice system that can and will prosecute and fairly try individuals responsible for the egregious crime, in which more than 1,200 prisoners were shot and killed, Human Rights Watch said.The bodies of the victims have yet to be found....."
26 June 2012
"The discovery of the charred and mutilated bodies of three young medical workers a week after their arrest in Aleppo city is yet further evidence of the Syrian government forces’ appalling disregard for the sanctity of the role of medical workers, Amnesty International said.
All three men were students at Aleppo University – Basel Aslan and Mus’ab Barad were fourth-year medical students and Hazem Batikh was a second-year English literature student and a first-aid medic.
They were part of a team of doctors, nurses and first-aiders who have been providing life-saving medical treatment in makeshift “field hospitals” set up to treat demonstrators shot by security forces and who could not therefore go to state-run hospitals for fear of being arrested, tortured or even killed.
They had been detained by Air Force Intelligence since their arrest in the city on 17 June.
“The brutal killing of these young medics who took great personal risk to rescue and treat injured protesters is yet more evidence that Syrian government forces are prepared to commit unspeakable crimes to silence dissent,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s senior crisis response adviser who recently returned from several weeks in Syria.
“As casualties from the current unrest have mounted, so President Bashar al-Assad’s
government has intensified its hunt for the wounded and for those who provide life-saving emergency treatment to them.
“Such violations are part of an increasingly entrenched pattern of crimes against humanity being perpetrated with impunity by Syrian government forces.”......"
By Amnesty International
"Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen and father of two, was travelling home to Canada after visiting his wife’s family in Tunisia in 2002. While changing planes at New York City’s JFK airport, he was detained and held for 12 days by U.S. authorities. He was then transferred secretly, via Jordan, to Syria, where he was held for a year and tortured.
He was released without charge and allowed to return home to Canada. A Canadian judicial inquiry confirmed that he had been tortured in Syria and considered it likely that US authorities had relied on inaccurate information provided by Canadian authorities. The inquiry also noted that thorough investigations by Canadian authorities had not in fact found “any information that could implicate Mr. Arar in terrorist activities”. The Canadian government subsequently recognized the role Canadian officials played in his ordeal, and gave him compensation and a formal apology.
In contrast, the USA refused categorically to cooperate with the Canadian inquiry and, although a small number of members of Congress took the initiative individually to apologize to Maher Arar via a video link to him in Canada at a committee hearing in the US House of Representatives in 2007, the US President and full Congress have failed to apologize or offer Maher Arar any form of remedy. In fact, the Department of Justice successfully fought his attempts to pursue redress in court, based not on the merits of his claim but supposed “significant national security concerns.”
Canadian officials have also requested that the US government remove Maher Arar’s name from the US watch list. That request has been refused. As such, it remains impossible for him to travel to the USA or over US airspace, and he faces constant uncertainty about other countries that may have adopted the USA watch list. He feels strongly, too, that having his name removed from the list would be an important part of restoring his reputation.
Torture is immoral, illegal and a crime. Sign the petition below to urge President Obama and Congress to apologize to Maher Arar and help end torture forever.... "
Residents of the Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon have been trapped in a closed military zone for five years.
By Marcy Newman
"Tripoli, Lebanon - Last week at a candlelight vigil in Baddawi refugee camp for the camp's dead and injured, signs posted on the school wall asked why, after five years, was Nahr al-Bared still a closed military zone?
For the past five years, all entrances to Nahr al-Bared have remained encircled by the Lebanese army. It has remained that way since the military's 2007 campaign - ostensibly against Fatah al-Islam members - devastated the camp, turning it into a closed military zone. In addition to the checkpoints, walls and barbed wire, the army commandeered all the homes surrounding the periphery of the camp, in addition to those homes straddling the border between the old and new sections of the camp.
Those wishing to visit friends in the camp must first obtain permission from the army (and those who are US citizens must wait for the army to clear visits with the US embassy). Palestinians from other camps, including those who lived in Nahr al-Bared prior to the army's bombardment, are also prevented from visiting the camp. Thus, people in other camps cannot visit their relatives in Nahr al-Bared without prior permission from the military.........
One wonders, for instance, why formerly armed fighters, identified as Fatah al-Islam members, were released from prison at the same time Palestinian prisoners were also released, and while Nahr al-Bared is resisting its besieged conditions. In the absence of journalists present to observe the sit-in - and the events leading up to it - the media is conflating ideas and making a scapegoating of an "Islamic militia" to justify the army's potential destruction of yet another Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. It foments jingoistic sentiments in the population, and, in Lebanon, it is the Palestinians in the camps who suffer accordingly.
Falling victim to these conspiracy theories about Fatah al-Islam, or any other militia foreign to the camp, misses the root of the problem. Palestinians are fed up with a besieged existence, and want the right to live and move about freely - both within and outside their camp.
What happened this week was no different from an uprising in a prison, with prisoners demanding their rights - except, in this case, the imprisoned are an innocent civilian population that has not been arrested or convicted of any crime. Palestinians are demanding basic human rights, demanding to live their lives with dignity. To spin it any other way is to perpetuate racism against the Palestinian people."
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
by PATRICK COCKBURN
"Remember the euphoria early last year when long-established police states across the Arab world were tumbling down. Facile comparisons were made with the fall of communist states in Eastern Europe in 1989. Commentators spoke glibly of irrepressible political change in the age of the internet, social media and satellite television. Regime change from Tunisia to Bahrain and Damascus to Sanaa appeared easy and even inevitable.
Instead, history has gone into reverse as military governments clamber back into the saddle in Egypt or slaughter their people in Syria. In Bahrain, the al-Khalifa monarchy has crushed dissent and not much is new in Yemen, aside from the formal displacement of its old leader. Libya is in a state of semi-disintegration, while only Tunisia, where it all started, seems to be managing a successful transition to democracy......."
"Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi has become Egypt’s first ever democratically elected president after beating out former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq. Despite his historic victory, Morsi will face major challenges under Egypt’s ruling military council. The council recently issued new restrictions on the incoming president’s authority, and will retain control of Egypt’s budget and legislation. "This has been a flawed transition process," says Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous. "On June 30, when there is supposed to be a handover of power, it isn’t a real handover of power at all."....."
By Ali Abunimah
"A notoriously racist rabbi who once called on Israel to slaughter a million Palestinian civilians has been appointed to head a supervisory committee for Magen David Adom (MDA) – Israel’s equivalent of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
Haaretz reported that under pressure from ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups MDA decided to set up a rabbinical committee to dictate religious guidelines – including gender relations – for volunteers in the rescue service.
The committee is headed by Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Safad, whose salary is paid by the Israeli government. Eliyahu has a long, well-documented history of extreme racism and has called for violence against Palestinians.......
In 2007, Eliyahu advocated mass slaughter of Palestinians in order to deter rocket fire from Gaza, while defending a ruling by his late father that Israel was permitted to indiscriminately kill civilians. “If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand,” Shmuel Eliyahu advised, adding, “And if they do not stop after 1,000 then we must kill 10,000. If they still don’t stop we must kill 100,000, even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop.”"
Iraq, Libya, Syria: We have no right to play God
By Jonathan Cook
"....This is not to argue that Assad’s regime has not committed war crimes. Rather, it is that, even were “humanitarian interventions” a legitimate undertaking, we have no comsistently reliable information to make an assessment of how best we can intervene, based on the “news” placed in our media by partisan groups to the conflict. All that is clear is that we are once again being manipulated, and to a known end.
These are grounds enough to oppose another humanitarian war. But there is an additional reason why it is foolhardy in the extreme for those on the left to play along with West’s current agenda in Syria, even if they genuinely believe that ordinary Syrians will be the beneficiaries.
If the West succeeds in its slow-motion, proxy intervention in Syria and disables yet another Arab state for refusing to toe its line, the stage will be set for the next war against the next target: Iran.
That is not an argument condoning Assad’s continuing rule. Syrians should be left to make that decision.
But it is an admonition to those who justify endless meddling in the Middle East in the service of a Western agenda. It is a caution against waging wars whose destructive power is directed chiefly at civilians. It is a warning that none of these humanitarian wars is a solution to a problem; they are only a prelude to yet more war. And it is a reminder that we have no right to play God."
"Amid the latest rounds of killings and destruction, the further ratcheting up of international tensions and Nato's meeting over the shooting down of a Turkish warplane, a development has taken place which will have a significant impact on the course of Syria's civil war.
A group of 224 middle-ranking military officers and their families have followed two brigadier-generals and two colonels in defecting from the Syrian armed forces. Around 35,000 have fled from Syria into Turkey since the rebellion started last year. But this is the first time that there a steady and growing flow of desertions from forces which have hitherto remained loyal to Bashar al-Assad.....
The numbers of ex-servicemen have been rising recently. The public reason given by these men is that they had been forced to fight for the regime and left when they could no longer stand the slaughter of fellow citizens....."
By Robert Fisk
".....I'd like to say that Morsi's placatory speech on Sunday – CNN and the BBC made much of his all-inclusive message because it fits in with the Western narrative on the Middle East (progressive, non-sectarian, etc) – was a pretty measly effort in which the army got as much praise as the police for Egypt's latest stage of revolution.
Put bluntly, Morsi is going to be clanking down the road to Egyptian democracy with tin cans dangling from his feet, fear and suspicion mingling among the old Mubarakites and the business elite, and, of course, the Christians, while the uniformed bulldogs of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces – its acronym, SCAF, is somehow appropriate to its inefficiency – go on biting off the powers that any president of Egypt should hold. He's got no constitution, no parliament and no right to command his own country's army.
Morsi's friendly tone towards Iran yesterday, of course, will enrage the same beasts. The Saudis allegedly poured money into the Muslim Brotherhood campaign and now they find Morsi smiling upon the Shia regime they so much detest and suggesting they resume "normal relations".....
For as the army has shut down the parliament, taken over budgets, produced an interim constitution taking away most of Morsi's power and reintroduced martial law – not to forget the dishonouring of its own promise to stand down after presidential elections – so a strange but not unfamiliar phenomenon has reappeared in Egypt: fear of the foreigner....
For the "real" revolutionaries, the young of last year's rebellion against Mubarak, are going to have to connect with the poor of Egypt who voted for Morsi, and abandon many of their slogans. It was the Tunisian leftist Habib Ayeb who told an Egyptian journalist last week that those who called his country's uprising the "Jasmine Revolution" failed to realise that the original Tunisian revolutionaries of Sidi Bouzid had probably never seen jasmine in their lives. And there are many Egyptians today who believe they never saw an "Arab Spring"."
guardian.co.uk, Monday 25 June 2012
"....We still have a major struggle ahead. The military leadership, Scaf, wants a degree of political control and economic independence that would make a democratic, transparent, accountable state impossible. The figures and power-brokers of the old regime are still there – and now we know that 4.5 million people voted for them, persuaded by love, interests or ready cash. And near and far there are foreign powers aligned with the old regime who believe their interests would be ill served by our renaissance.
But none of that's new. What's new is that Scaf has revealed its hand in its latest round of legalised power-grabbing; that we know the size of the support the old regime can muster; and that maybe, maybe, we have voted in a president whom we can support, or oppose with honour – without being shot.
A document in circulation lists the tasks people want the president to get on with immediately. People have been adding to it for days, but the first priority item has remained: an amnesty for the 12,000 young people the military has court-martialled – or have them retried by civil judges. Another: set up a real organisation to help the people injured and disabled by the police and military. A third: open the Rafah border and allow people and goods to move between Egypt and Gaza as between two friendly neighbouring countries.
Egyptians have been witnessing the punishing of Gaza throughout the last week, and we don't take it kindly that so many foreign statements about the new president reference Camp David or "peace" as their priority. They need to pack away their Israeli prism when looking at us 84 million Egyptians....."
25 June 2012
"As the international community continues to vacillate over meaningful action to stop the crisis in Syria and to provide justice for victims of human rights violations, new information concerning methods used by the authorities to crush any form of dissent continues to emerge.
Not only are protestors shot at, villages attacked and houses of activists burned, but other repressive, if less visible, tools are used to discourage anyone from showing opposition to the government.
More than 20 followers of a Damascus imam, Saria al-Refa’i - who publicly criticised violations by the government in his Friday prayer sermons - have reportedly been detained, some for more than ten months......"
"كأن المجلس العسكري أخطأ في العنوان حين أراد أن يستفيد من الخبرة التركية. إذ بدلا من أن يعتبر أعضاؤه مما فعله الطيب أردوغان فإنهم استلهموا تجربة كمال أتاتورك، فأعرضوا عن سكة السلامة وطرقوا أبواب سكة الندامة.
لم يعد في بر مصر صوت يعلو فوق صوت المجلس العسكري، فهو الذي بات يملك سلطة التشريع، وهو الآمر الناهي فيما يخص التنفيذ، ثم إن سلطة المجلس فوق القانون وفوق الدستور
الجيش في تركيا كان يتدخل في السياسة من منطلق أيديولوجي متذرعا بالدفاع عن العلمانية الكمالية، أما في مصر فلم يكن للأيديولوجية أي دور في تحرك الجيش الذي ظل ملتزما بحسابات المصلحة الوطنية فقط
مجلس الدفاع الوطني الذي أعلن المجلس العسكري تشكيله في مصر خلال الأسبوع الماضي, أعادنا إلى أجواء الستينيات في تركيا، وهو الوضع الذي لم يتحرروا منه هناك إلا بعد مضي أربعين عاما
لست متأكدا من أن ما فعله المجلس العسكري كان مجرد خطأ في العنوان أو خطأ في قراءة التاريخ، ومع ذلك فإن أكثر ما يهمني هو إجابة السؤال: كم عدد السنوات التي سنحتاجها لكي نتحلل من وصاية العسكر، لنتمكن من بناء مصر الديمقراطية التي من أجلها قامت الثورة؟"
"....And yet, U.S. officials and analysts express guarded optimism that Washington can build a strong working relationship with the veteran Muslim Brotherhood politician, whose victory was confirmed Sunday. Morsi and his aides say that they, too, are upbeat about the future of Egypt’s relationship with the United States, though not without caveats.....
“The U.S. will have leverage with the Brotherhood because the Brotherhood needs the U.S. and Europe for Egypt’s long-term economic recovery,” said Shadi Hamid, an Egypt expert at the Brookings Doha Center who has met with Morsi and several Brotherhood leaders in recent months. “They are going to need billions of dollars in loans and investments if they want to turn around their economy.”
Morsi spokesman and adviser Gehad Haddad said the incoming president, who earned a PhD in Southern California during the 1970s, has begun to build healthy relationships with U.S. officials.
“We expect and will work towards a strong strategic relationship” with Washington, Haddad said in an interview Monday. “It will help to bridge the gap between how both populations view each other.”.....
Those efforts are seen as imperative to safeguarding Egypt’s decades-old peace treaty with Israel. In an interview with The Washington Post in February 2011, when Morsi was the head of the Brotherhood’s newly formed Freedom and Justice Party, he said upending the treaty was not a priority. But he described the status quo of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as unacceptable.....
Haddad, his spokesman, said Monday that “we will not be the party that breaks this treaty.” But he added that Egyptians would see “very swift” and significant changes in the country’s policy toward Israel....."
Monday, June 25, 2012
"Hundreds of people have protested in Sudan's capital Khartoum, despite a police crackdown on them.
Demonstrations against the government's anti-austerity measures are now in their second week.
Al jazeera's Mohamed Vall reports that some activists say they want to start an Arab-Spring style uprising."
The regime-change machine is humming – and picking up speed
by Justin Raimondo, June 25, 2012
"....The neoconservative regime-changers’ were never shy about proclaiming their grandiose goal, which was to “drain the swamp” of the Middle East and achieve some fundamental “transformation,” presumably in a secular liberal-democratic direction. What this meant, in terms of real power relations, was redrawing the map of the Middle East. So, how’re they doing so far?......
One has to wade all the way to the end of a long and dreary New York Times piece on Mohammed Morsi’s victory to read about the press conference given by a coalition of liberal democratic and secular parties, which hailed the junta’s dissolution of parliament and accused the US of aiding the Brotherhood. Indeed, the National Democratic Institute has openly admitted giving some kind of assistance to Brotherhood candidates and electoral activities. One has to wonder about the extent and nature of this aid.
The disqualification of the original Brotherhood candidate, and the substitution of Morsi, a former assistant professor at Cal State Northridge, sets the stage for a post-Mubarak Egypt organized along Turkish lines. As in Turkey, the military will step in when the Islamists threaten to get out of hand, but will otherwise be allowed to rule as long as they don’t try to pursue an independent foreign policy or offend the delicate sensibilities of Western liberals too often.
While Egypt often seems to teeter on the brink of chaos, so far at least it has been controlled chaos – with most of the strings being pulled from Washington, D.C. Continuing a policy inherited from the Bush administration, the Obama administration is playing the Sunni card for all its worth, using its influence and resources to build “democratic” Islamist movements as a counterweight to both al Qaeda and the alleged Iranian threat. ....."
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Morsi is no revolutionary and not much of a nationalist. The army elite has already laid traps for him
Zaghloul might be missed today, after an election in which the words 'Islam'and 'security' seemed like interchangeable platitudes
By Robert Fisk
"While 50 million Egyptians were waiting yesterday to hear that they had elected a Muslim Brotherhood mediocrity over a Mubarak bag-carrier, I paid a visit to the home of Saad Zaghloul....
Mohamed Morsi is no revolutionary. No feminist. Not much of a nationalist. And the army elite has already laid its traps for him. But the "deep state" represented by his opponent, Ahmed Shafik, receded yesterday. Up to a point – and only up to a point – Zaghloul would have approved.....
Unlike Morsi, however, Zaghloul wanted to live in a modern, progressive, secular Egypt, saying of his party in 1919 that "the present movement in Egypt is not a religious movement – for Muslims and Copts demonstrate together – and neither is it a xenophobic movement or a movement calling for Arab unity". Egypt for the Egyptians. You can see why he might be missed today, after an election campaign in which the words "Islam" and "security" seemed interchangeable platitudes....
And, for a man born long before his time, it is a dismal fact that Zaghloul died despairing of his own people. "Cover me, Safeya," were his last words, uttered on that pink-covered bed. "It's of no use.""