Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Shape of Things to Come

Russia: More of the Same

By Maysaloon

"Firstly the conundrum regarding Russia's "changing" position is not something I give much importance to. The Russian and Iranian stance advocating "political dialogue" is a game of double speak which only re-iterates the narrative that Assad's regime has been propagating since the start of the revolution......

Rise of the Warlords

What I do want to talk about is something far more pressing, the shape of Syria after Assad goes. More and more of the discussion about Syria focuses less on the regime than on the security situation and the emergence of warlords in the country. But the creation of these warlords is not the only legacy that the Assad regime will leave Syria. The "day after" his regime falls, I have no doubt that we will continue to see car bomb explosions and kidnappings throughout the country. This will magnify the "Syrian catastrophe" that Assad's allies abroad will start to trumpet on about, but this should not dissuade Syrians from the path that they have chosen. I wrote at the start of the revolution that if Syrians wanted their freedom, then this will be a long and difficult path. Perhaps nobody expected the level of barbarism that Assad junior turned out to be capable of, but it was always naive for anybody to expect political reforms and sincere dialogue to emerge simply because of initially peaceful protests.....

The Political Battle

Politically, it seems to me a fact now that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood are the only opposition group that is organised and of any kind of size. I don't know how popular they are domestically, but the hysteria surrounding them is disproportionate to their political abilities and foresight. Some people seem to think that if they have any kind of strength in a future Syria then the country will become an Islamic state, which is utter nonsense. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood are far more powerful, intelligent - relatively speaking - and organised than the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood could ever hope to be, and they have not had the easiest time governing in Egypt. Unlike during the age of dictatorship, it is no longer possible in many post-Arab Spring countries to govern without consent.....

We should also note that regimes which were labelled "anti-imperialist" have been far more brutal and savage in their repression of the revolutions than the "pro-Western" camp of countries such as Tunisia, Egypt or even Yemen. In Yemen the Saleh regime, apart from being incomparably stupid and incompetent, was also much more hesitant in fighting an armed population that was mobilizing the most wonderful mass rallies on a weekly if not daily basis. In contrast, the populations of countries that were nominally "anti-imperialist" were brutalised almost from the start and this was because they had no weapons and there was also nobody to restrain the Gaddafi and Assad regimes. This is something that students of politics must not ignore; whatever attraction Arab anti-imperialism once might have had, it is no more. ......."Hezbullah in Lebanon might still try to revive this sentiment, but the group's preferential treatment of Bahrain's revolution at the expense of Syria's has shattered the trust placed in it by many, including myself

Middle East: don't rely on the past to predict its future

As there's no model for the war in Syria, it's impossible to forecast how the fallout will affect the region

The Observer,
Recent reports from inside Syria paint a grim picture on both sides. In Aleppo, as my Guardian colleague Ghaith Abdul-Ahad described in a vivid report last week, the armed opposition to President Bashar al-Assad remains as split as ever, looting is commonplace and rivalries are multiplying. In Damascus, the situation for Assad and his inner circle continues to deteriorate. The president himself, suggest some accounts, is "isolated and fearful", almost invisible and unwilling to venture outside. The operational capacity of the forces closest to him to mount operations is also declining even as Russia seems to be moving to distance itself from Assad, if not from Syria itself.
In all likelihood, some end to the regime appears inevitable, if not immediately, then in the not very distant future. The question now being posed is: what happens next? And while the desire to predict and second-guess is hard-wired into our natures, not least the nature of journalists and analysts, it's probable that we will get it badly wrong.
The tools most commonly used to try to explain complex situations such as conflict, including the predilection for historical analogy to explain current events, are often deeply misleading, as the impressive Kings of War blog of the Department of War Studies at King's College, London cautioned before Christmas. The reality is that the Middle East is not the Balkans of the 1990s, nor is Egypt revolutionary Iran. "The truth," the Kings of War concluded, "is we should probably not be surprised by the things that surprise us.".....

What we can say about the Arab Spring is not where we may end up, but where we are now – and that is in the midst of a grand reshaping of all the regional assumptions that have stood for almost a generation.
Its dominant feature so far has been the rise of a different kind of political Islam shaped, by and large, by the Muslim Brotherhood as an international phenomenon. For all that, it is still hard to generalise about the different manifestations of the Brotherhood. Hamas, the Palestinian offshoot in Gaza, is the way it is because it has been formed by its experience of armed struggle, just as the Brotherhood in Egypt has been shaped by its own history.

In Egypt, as Michael Wahid Hanna argued in Foreign Policy in November, what this has produced is an "ambush" style of decision-making under President Mohamed Morsi, an approach that lacks consensus and consultation. While "not anti-democratic per se," argues Hanna, this approach "depends upon a distinctive conception of winner-takes-all politics and the denigration of political opposition. Winning elections, by this perspective, entitles the victors to govern unchecked by the concerns of the losers".
A second phenomenon has been the increasing activism of the Gulf states, not least Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The various axes of Qatari influence, money and assistance – some formal, some informal – have become another key feature of the Arab Spring, not least in Libya and Syria. Its motivation in supporting revolutions elsewhere has been described in private, by at least one senior member of an Arab regime it has irritated, as a cynical attempt by its royal rulers "to be in the kitchen but not on the menu". That is, to inoculate themselves against internal threats.
A third key feature, overlapping with the second, and perhaps the most serious, has been the continuing rise of Sunni-Shia sectarian antagonism in the region. As Egypt, Qatar and Turkey have emerged as the focus of an emerging and powerful Sunni axis of influence, it has set them in opposition to an increasingly isolated Iran, whose own attempts to build its influence in the region, not least through its alliances with Hezbollah and Assad's Syria, now appear at risk.....

If it is a truism in military circles that "generals are always preparing to fight the last war", then it is equally true in foreign policy circles. And if there is one overarching lesson of the Arab Spring it is that we should be attentive to the present and its challenges, not chained to notions of the past or bound by ideas of a future we cannot know."

392 people massacred in Syria in one of the deadliest days


(CNN) -- Russia's top diplomat and an international envoy to Syria warned Saturday that the Middle East nation's conflict is becoming more militarized and sectarian, further endangering the region.
The statements came on what may be the bloodiest day since the unrest's start 21 months ago: At least 392 people were killed Saturday, the opposition Local Coordination Committees said. The toll includes 201 people who a captured Syrian soldier said had been executed in Deir Balbah, outside of Homs, after Syrian forces won a battle there, an LCC spokesman said.
The Syrian government has not commented on the Deir Balbah allegations, and CNN cannot independently confirm casualty reports as Syria's government has severely restricted access to the country.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Lakhdar Brahimi, the joint U.N.-Arab League envoy, held a meeting aimed at halting any such violence by bringing both sides to the negotiating table.
Brahimi warned the civil war was devolving into fighting between factions jostling for power, rather than an effort centered on bettering the lives of all Syrians. [Ibrahimi is stooge and a liar]

Real News Video (with Transcript): Fiscal Cliff: Going Nuclear and the Grand Betrayal

Bill Black: GOP threatens to use debt ceiling as leverage, creates conditions for more austerity measures by Obama 

More at The Real News

Thanks to Rabbi Marvin Hier and Simonwiesenthal for the award for my toons on Gaza slaughter, by Carlos Latuff

"According to Simon Wiesenthal Center I’m the 3rd “most anti-Semitic” for “slandering” Israel

إيران وروسيا والثمن الكبير في سوريا

"في وقت يجمع فيه معظم المراقبين على استحالة بقاء الوضع السوري على حاله، أعني لجهة بقاء النظام القائم، وعلى رأسه بشار الأسد مهما طال أمد المعركة، فإن المشهد لا يزال يثير الكثير من الأسئلة المعقدة بخصوص المدى الزمني الذي ستستغرقه عملية إسقاط النظام، وهي أسئلة ما كان لها أن تطرح في ظل بسالة الثورة وتداعي قبضة النظام على أجزاء كبيرة من مساحة البلد لولا الدعم الإيراني والروسي الهائل للنظام، الذي يتجاوز الدعم العسكري إلى دعم تكنولوجي، فضلا عن الدعم الاقتصادي، ما يجعل التساؤل حول موقف هاتين الدولتين من الصراع وتداعياته عليهما مشروعا إلى حد كبير.

منذ شهور طويلة، قلنا إن سوريا قد أخذت تحاكي النموذج الأفغاني، من حيث تدفق المقاتلين الإسلاميين من الخارج، وبالطبع إثر تحول المعركة من انتفاضة سلمية إلى مسلحة على نحو شبه شامل، وإن بقيت الفعاليات السلمية قائمة بهذه الدرجة أو تلك. وقلنا إن الحشد مع الشيوعية في أفغانستان قد استبدل منه على نحو ما الحشد ضد الشيعة وإيران، بينما تؤكد معظم التحليلات أن إيران ستدفع ثمنا باهظا في هذه المعركة، تماما كما دفع الاتحاد السوفياتي ثمنا باهظا في حربه في أفغانستان، فضلا عن الثمن الذي ترتب على هزيمته المدوية فيها ممثلا في تفكك الاتحاد. وها هي روسيا وريث الاتحاد السوفياتي تكرر التجربة مع الفارق، إذ دفعت الكثير في المعركة، والأرجح أنها ستدفع أكثر بعد سقوط النظام.
وكما غاب العقل في الاتحاد السوفياتي بتورطه في المستنقع الأفغاني، وإصراره على استمرار المعركة سنوات طويلة رغم وضوح عبثيتها، الذي أدى إلى ما أدى إليه، فقد فقد العقل الإيراني رشده أيضا، ومعه الروسي، والنتيجة أن إيران لن تدفع فقط ثمنا باهظا على صعيد فشل مشروع تمددها الذي اشتغلت عليه ثلاثة عقود، ودفعت فيه كلفة باهظة (أعني تأثير الهزيمة على إنجازاتها في العراق ولبنان على وجه الخصوص)، فضلا عن الكلفة المالية التي دفعتها من أجل الحفاظ على بشار الأسد (بلغت حتى الشهر قبل الماضي 10 مليارات دولار حسب مصادر غربية)، بل ستضيف إلى ذلك خسائر أخرى تتمثل في حراك داخلي كبير يبدو أكثر من متوقع، ولا يستبعد أن ينتهي بثورة إيرانية تطيح بحكم المحافظين برمته.
لعل ذلك تحديدا هو ما يدفع إيران إلى القتال حتى الرمق الأخير من أجل إنقاذ ما يمكن إنقاذه، مثل المقامر الخاسر الذي يزداد تشبثا بالطاولة رغم استمرار خسائره (ينطبق ذلك على روسيا أيضا). ويتمثل بؤس تفكير إيران في إحجامها عن تقديم حل تقبله المعارضة السورية مقابل دفع الأوضاع دفعا نحو هزيمة مدوية سيكون ثمنها باهظا، تماما كما كان عليه الحال للاتحاد السوفياتي في أفغانستان.
واللافت هنا أن الغرب (خاصة أميركا) الذي يتحرك شرق أوسطيا على إيقاع الهواجس الإسرائيلية ما زال يمنح إيران فرصة بالأمل بإبقاء الأسد، وهو يفعل ذلك لأن إيران القوية، والمصرة على برنامجها النووي تشكل خطرا على الكيان الصهيوني، وحين يستدرجها (أعني الغرب) نحو مزيد من التورط في المستنقع السوري، إنما يضرب عصفورين بحجر واحد، إذ يدمر سوريا الدولة والكيان أكثر فأكثر بحيث تنشغل بنفسها لعقود، في الوقت نفسه الذي يستنزف فيه إيران التي ستكون بعد سوريا أكثر جاهزية للتنازل عن برنامجها النووي

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you agree with the accusations of demonstrators in Iraq that the Maliki government is sectarian?

With about 700 responding so far, 93% said yes.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: Anti-Maliki protests continue in Iraq

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - What is stoking Iraqi rage?

"In central Iraq, a number of arrests have provoked mass protests in two major cities. Will these latest protests lead to renewed sectarian violence? Guests: Saad al-Muttalibi, Anas al-Tikriti, Hiwa Osman."

Real News Video: Israeli Cmte Disqualifies Only Palestinian Woman in Parliament from Reelection

Noam Sheizaf on the elections committee that disqualified Hanin Zoabi, the only Palestinian woman in the Israeli parliament from re-election. 

More at The Real News

Real News Video (with Transcript): Report from Bahrain

Reese Erlich: The uprising against monarchy grows more intense, mostly ignored by Western media 

More at The Real News

Egypt's 'civil servants' told not to criticise president Morsi

Diplomats and journalists say they are being pressured to abandon their opposition of the president 
(Cartoon by Carlos Latuff)

Ahram Online

"Some Egyptian diplomats and media personnel have complained that they are being pressured by their bosses into refraining from criticising Egypt president Mohamed Morsi.

Opposition forces have frequently accused Morsi of attempting to curb freedoms since the influential Muslim Brotherhood group propelled him into office in Egypt's first freely contested elections earlier this year.
“I was summoned into the office of the assistant (foreign) minister; he said we were all partners in making the (January) Revolution a success and now we should be sensible to help the president deliver the hopes and dreams of the Revolution," said a young diplomat about what he considered as an explicit warning by his boss.

"He added a few incoherent words about the national role of the foreign service, its independence and so on; then he asked me to be ‘careful’ and not to confuse my role as a diplomat with that of an activist."
According to this diplomat, who asked for his name to be withheld to spare the disclosure of the identity of his boss, other young diplomats were given the same warnings.

“One of them was told that his overt opposition to the president would undermine his chances to go a good post and another was told that the minister (of foreign affairs) is so angry with his ministry being looked at as disloyal by the president,” the same diplomat added.
During the past few weeks, some diplomats have declined to bow to orders issued by Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr to promote the president’s political choices, Ahram Online has learnt......"

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bahrain, a Brutal Ally

After more than 10 hours of surgery, and before Mr. Abdul Mohsen regained consciousness, his hospital room was already under guard by the police. Had he been able to speak, he might even have been interrogated before going into surgery. Others have lain bleeding without medical attention while government security agents asked questions like: “Were you participating in a protest? Who else was with you?”

Bahrain, a small island nation off the coast of Saudi Arabia, has been ruled by the Khalifa family for more than 200 years. It is also home to the headquarters of the United States Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which patrols regional shipping lanes, assists with missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and monitors Iran as tensions in the region mount.

The oppressed people of Bahrain joined the Arab Spring soon after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. With newfound hope, Bahrainis took to the streets on Feb. 14, 2011. Rich and poor, Shiite and Sunni, liberal and religious, they felt what it was like to speak freely for the first time in the capital, Manama, at a traffic circle with a pearl monument at its center. The Pearl Roundabout came to symbolize the Bahraini revolution.

But this newfound freedom didn’t last long....."

Brazilian cartoonist Latuff defends Egyptian counterpart El-Adl

Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff stands in solidarity with his Egyptian counterpart Doaa El-Adl - who is to be questioned by the prosecutor general for her latest cartoon on the constitution and MB regime

Ahram Online

"International political cartoonist Carlos Latuff has expressed solidarity with Egyptian cartoonist Doaa El-Adl, who is being questioned by prosecutor general Talaat Abdallah for critising Islamists in Egypt.

In his statement via Twitter, Latuff condemned the opression practiced against artists and journalists in Egypt. "Solidarity with cartoonist Doaa El-Adl who is charged with critising Islamists," he said.

Latuff drew the veiled Egyptian cartoonist holding her sharpened pencil like a spear to defend her from the attack by an Islamist, which Latuff drew waving his sword angrily at the young artist. "She is being harrassed by Islamists," he added.

Published in Al Masry Al Youm on 20 December, El-Adl portrayed Adam and Eve standing under the tree after they were kicked out of heaven because of their vote in the referendum.
Next to them is a happy angel telling them in Arabic, "If you had voted yes in this referendum the way I did, you would have enjoyed heaven." El-Adl's recent piece had followed another with an Islamist inside the poll box kicking out votes against the constitution......"

Al-Jazeera Video: Thousands rally in Iraq against al-Maliki government

The "New" Yemen: When U.S. drones kill civilians, Yemen’s government tries to conceal it

The Washington Post

[Where are you Tawakkul Karman? Why are you totally Silent? Have they bought you with their Nobel Peace Prize? Just wondering.]

"A rickety Toyota truck packed with 14 people rumbled down a desert road from the town of Radda, which al-Qaeda militants once controlled. Suddenly a missile hurtled from the sky and flipped the vehicle over.

Chaos. Flames. Corpses. Then, a second missile struck.

Within seconds, 11 of the passengers were dead, including a woman and her 7-year-old daughter. A 12-year-old boy also perished that day, and another man later died from his wounds.

The Yemeni government initially said that those killed were al-Qaeda militants and that its Soviet-era jets had carried out the Sept. 2 attack. But tribal leaders and Yemeni officials would later say that it was an American assault and that all the victims were civilians who lived in a village near Radda, in central Yemen. U.S. officials last week acknowledged for the first time that it was an American strike....."

Al-Jazeera Video: ما وراء الخبر- المبادرة السياسية في سوريا

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you support a political solution in Syria that includes allowing Assad to stay in power for a limited duration?

With almost 500 responding so far, 88% said no.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

5 cartoons about Bahrain human rights/freedom of speech under King Hamad dictatorship, by Carlos Latuff

Syrian Santa, by Emad Hajjaj

Saudi Arabia uses capital offence of ‘apostasy’ to stifle debate

24 December 2012

"A court in Saudi Arabia has decided to proceed with the prosecution of an online activist for apostasy, a charge which carries the death penalty, in what Amnesty International said is a new bid to stifle political and social debate.

On 22 December the General Court in Jeddah had Raif Badawi, 25, sign documents to enable his trial on apostasy charges to go ahead, after his case was passed to it by a District Court on 17 December.

Badawi – who founded “Saudi Arabian Liberals”, a website for political and social debate – has been in detention since June 2012 on charges including “setting up a website that undermines general security” and ridiculing Islamic religious figures.

Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.

Even in Saudi Arabia where state repression is rife, it is beyond the pale to seek the death penalty for an activist whose only ‘crime’ was to enable social debate online,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty Internationals Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“Raif Badawi’s trial for ‘apostasy’ is a clear case of intimidation against him and others who seek to engage in open debates about the issues that Saudi Arabians face in their daily lives. He is a prisoner of conscience who must be released immediately and unconditionally.”......"

Monday, December 24, 2012

Senior Syrian official in US and co-operating with intelligence agencies

Guardian understands that US intelligence officials helped Jihad Makdissi to flee, though details of journey are unknown,
The Syrian government's former spokesman, Jihad Makdissi, is co-operating with US intelligence officials who helped him flee to Washington almost one month ago, the Guardian understands.

Makdissi became one of the most prominent regime defectors in late November when he left Beirut after first crossing from Syria. The Guardian reported at the time that he had fled for the US, possibly in return for asylum. This has now been confirmed.

The latest development comes after almost a month of debriefings, which have helped intelligence officials build a picture of decision-making in the inner sanctum of the embattled regime......"

Terror in a Christmas Tree

Israel Tries to Ban Non-Jewish Celebrations



"Israel’s large Palestinian minority is often spoken of in terms of the threat it poses to the Jewish majority. Palestinian citizens’ reproductive rate constitutes a “demographic timebomb”, while their main political programme – Israel’s reform into “a state of all its citizens” – is proof for most Israeli Jews that their compatriots are really a “fifth column”.

But who would imagine that Israeli Jews could be so intimidated by the innocuous Christmas tree?
This issue first came to public attention two years ago when it was revealed that Shimon Gapso, the mayor of Upper Nazareth, had banned Christmas trees from all public buildings in his northern Israeli city.
Upper Nazareth is a Jewish town and all its symbols are Jewish,” Gapso said. “As long as I hold office, no non-Jewish symbol will be presented in the city.”.....

Apart from Upper Nazareth, the only other “mixed” place where Palestinian Christians are to be found in significant numbers is Haifa, Israel’s third largest city. Haifa is often referred to as Israel’s most multicultural and tolerant city, a title for which it faces very little competition.

But the image hides a dirtier reality. A recent letter from Haifa’s rabbinate came to light in which the city’s hotels and events halls were reminded that they must not host New Year’s parties at the end of this month (the Jewish New Year happens at a different time of year). The hotels and halls were warned that they would be denied their kashrut licences if they did so.

“It is a seriously forbidden to hold any event at the end of the calendar year that is connected with or displays anything from the non-Jewish festivals,” the letter states......."

Joy to the world: A child is born!

If the shooting in Connecticut is covered by the US press, others point out to the atrocities of the US drone attacks.

Hamid Dabashi

"I write this essay from the heart of a grief-stricken nation. On December 14, just a few days before millions of Americans were to gather under their decorated holiday trees to celebrate Christmas, 26 people - 20 innocent young students and six adults - were senselessly murdered at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, just under 80 miles or two hours' drive from Manhattan where I live and where my children go to school.
Before driving to school to perpetrate this mass murder, the killer, 20-year-old Adam Peter Lanza, killed his own mother at their home. And after he was done, Lanza killed himself.

A vastly pervasive culture of violence animates this country - from the minutest aspects of its toy and entertainment industries all the way to the militant imperialism that sustains its delusional fantasies to rule the world. A myopic vision of this horrid crime at the Sandy Hook Elementary School will leave the larger frame of reference criminally neglected. ...."

جيوسياسة الثورة السورية والربيع العربي


وقد التقت إرادة موسكو في استخدام الأزمة السورية للحفاظ على دورها الإقليمي، واستعادة جزء من دورها كقطب شريك للغرب في السياسة الدولية، مع إرادة الدول الغربية في استغلال الوضع ذاته لإعادة تعريف الدور الإقليمي لسوريا، سواء في ما يتعلق بتحالفاتها مع إيران أو بشكل أكثر بمركزها الإستراتيجي تجاه إسرائيل ليمدد في أجل الحرب ويزيدها عنفا.
فكما تحاول روسيا عبر الدعم الذي تقدمه للنظام السوري أن تقنع الغرب بأنه لا مستقبل لسوريا والمشرق دون التعاون معها ورعاية مصالحها في المنطقة، تسعى الولايات المتحدة عبر تمديد القتال إلى أن تخرج سوريا من المعركة مهيضة الجناح غير قادرة على أن تشكل أي تحد لإسرائيل أو لأي دولة أخرى إلى مستقبل منظور، وهو ما قامت به من قبل في العراق أيضا.
والحال هذه، لن تربح روسيا الرهان لأن سقوط النظام حتى لو لم يتحقق بالضربة القاضية، واضطررنا إلى انتقال ديمقراطي بدمج بعض ما يتبقى من النظام، فلن يكون لإيران -الحليفة الرئيسية لروسيا في الشرق الأوسط اليوم- في صراعها مع الغرب، أي حظ من النجاح في الإبقاء على علاقات إستراتيجية مع سوريا الديمقراطية.
تأمل شعوب العالم أجمع أن تكون نهاية النظام الهمجي السوري القائم درسا لجميع الدكتاتوريات التي لا تزال تعتقد بأنها قادرة على البقاء ضد إرادة الشعوب ورغما عنها
أما الغرب والولايات المتحدة التي عملت قصدا على إطالة أجل النزاع فتجد سياستها منذ الآن في مأزق، مع تنامي تيارات الجهاد المعادية لها، أو احتمالات الفوضى والانقسام اللذين لا يمكن ضبطهما. ويهدد تأخيرها الطويل للحل على حساب دماء الشعب السوري، ثم سعيها إلى دفع المقاتلين السوريين إلى مواجهة بعضهم البعض باسم محاربة الإرهاب، الصورة التي كانت تسعى إلى ترويجها كصديقة للشعب السوري وداعمة لمسيرة تحوله الديمقراطية، ومن وراء ذلك نفوذها، ليس في سوريا وحسب، ولكن في الشرق العربي بأكمله.
وفي المقابل ستعزز ثورة الحرية والكرامة العربية -بمقدار ما ستمكن الشعوب من قرارها الوطني- حركة التفاهم والتعاون والتفاعل بين الشعوب والدول العربية، وتفتح الطريق إلى إعادة صوغ النظام الإقليمي بما يزيد من استقلاليته وسيادة دوله تجاه النزاعات وإرادة تقاسم النفوذ فيه من قبل الدول الكبرى.
وكما كان مستحيلا استمرار نظام الأسد البدائي والهمجي دون التغطية الإقليمية والدولية، أي دون البيئة الجيوسياسية للحرب الباردة المحافظ عليها في المنطقة، سيكون لتحرر سوريا من نظامها الدكتاتوري وامتلاك الشعب حق تقرير مصيره بالفعل، أثر مباشر على تعديل خريطة القوى والتوازنات الإقليمية، وفي ما وراء ذلك على أمل شعوب العالم أجمع في أن تكون نهاية النظام الهمجي السوري القائم درسا لجميع الدكتاتوريات التي لا تزال تعتقد بأنها قادرة -ببث الخوف والذعر والإرهاب- على البقاء ضد إرادة الشعوب ورغما عنها."

The Myth of Dialogue with the Syrian Regime

By Maysaloon

"When Seumus Milne writes article after article lamenting the lack of 'dialogue' between the parties in Syria, he perpetuates a myth that the Assad regime, along with its Russian and Iranian backers, has been advocating a negotiated settlement all along. The truth could not be further from the reality, and there is a real danger that the story of the Syrian revolution is being re-spun into some nefarious Western plot to eliminate the 'last bastion of Arabism' as one anti-imperialist commentator described it......

Syrians should rightly be concerned with the extremist elements within the ranks of the rebels, but they do not need Milne to tell them that, and they certainly don't need his instructions on the best way to remove the regime that has killed tens of thousands of Syrians since last March. They should, also, be very concerned with lawlessness and sectarianism, but unlike Milne they have recognised that a state which mobilises its resources for mass murder and terror over a population is far more disturbing and serious than the crimes of extreme elements who are,  after all, criminals anyway. Therefore, Milne has no right to claim some kind of moral parity between 'two sides', and he certainly has no right to paint the opponents of Assad, in all their colours and shapes, with the same brush as al Qaeda. For Iraq and Afghanistan he has always been alert enough to recognise the divide and rule tactics of an oppressor, or to know where one must lay the blame when extremism results in atrocities and instability. No such critical thinking appears to have been applied in Syria. In fact it does not seem to have occurred to Milne and other Western anti-imperialist writers that Assad, as an oppressor, is in the same boat as the imperialism they claim to oppose."

S&P cuts Egypt rating on political strife

"(Reuters) - Standard & Poors' cut Egypt's long-term credit rating on Monday and said another cut was possible if political turbulence worsened, undermining the country's ability to make hard choices on public finances.
The agency reduced Egypt's long-term sovereign rating to 'B-' from 'B', but left its short-term rating at 'B' for both foreign- and local-currency debt.
"The negative outlook reflects our view that a further downgrade is possible if a significant worsening of the domestic political situation results in a sharp deterioration of economic indicators such as foreign exchange reserves or the government's deficit," S&P said."

Zionism, anti-Semitism and colonialism

Zionist leaders consciously recognised that state anti-Semitism was essential to their colonial project

Joseph Massad


"....Herzl's strategy continues to be the strategy of Zionism and the State of Israel. Whereas state-sponsored anti-Semitism has disappeared, Israel must create it and conjure it up, as this is its major line of defence against any and all international criticisms and censure of its ongoing colonisation of Palestine.
While the four permanent members of the UN Security Council censured Israel last week for its plans to expand yet again its colonial settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the US will surely veto a possible UN Security Council resolution condemning these colonial activities. Should this happen, we will immediately hear the Israeli and pro-Israeli chorus of condemnation of the international body as "anti-Semitic" yet again.
That this strategy has now run its course and no longer intimidates international actors has led to much panic in Zionist and Israeli circles. Israel and Zionism now understand well that when the world, including the United States (excepting Barack Obama), hears "anti-Semitism" as an argument to defend Israel, they understand it as an Israeli diversionary tactic to distract the world from Israeli Jewish colonialism and colonial-settlements on Palestinian land.
Make no mistake about it, anti-Semitism in Israeli discourse is and has been nothing short of camouflage for the continuation of Jewish colonisation of Palestine. Only the gullible continue to be fooled. "

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: Air strike on Syria bakery 'kills dozens'

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrian activist speaks on deadly air strike near bakery

"At least 90 people were killed and scores of others injured in an air strike on a bakery in Syria's central Hama province, activists said.

Activists on Sunday told Al Jazeera that the death toll was likely to rise in the town of Halfaya, where the strike hit.

Mousab al-Hamadee, an activist in the suburbs of Hama, told Al Jazeera that Halfaya and nearby towns have witnessed heavy shelling since rebels began advancing in the province.

Al Jazeera spoke to Hamadee."

Al-Jazeera Video:

"قالت الشبكة السورية لحقوق الإنسان إن ثلاثة وتسعين شخصا قتلوا في غارة جوية استهدفت مخبزا في حلفايا بريف حماة. وقال ناشطون إن من بين القتلى نساءً وأطفالا وإن أعدادهم مرشحة للارتفاع. بينما أفادت الشبكة بأن حصيلة القتلى في سوريا حتى الآن بلغت مائة وثمانية وخمسين معظمهم في ريف حماة.

Dozens killed in air strike on bakery in central Syria

"(Reuters) - Dozens of people were killed and wounded in an air strike on a bakery in Syria's central Hama province on Sunday, activists said, with some reporting up to 200 dead.
"There is no way to really know yet how many people were killed. When I got there, I could see piles of bodies all over the ground. There were women and children," said Samer al-Hamawi, an activist in the town of Halfaya, where the strike hit. "There are also dozens of wounded people"
Halfaya was seized by rebels last week as part of a campaign to push into new territories in the 21-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad,
Another activist said residents picking through the bodies were still determining which were wounded and which were dead.
Hamawi, who spoke via Skype, uploaded a video of the scene, which showed dozens of dust-coated bodies lined up near a pile of rubble by a concrete building, its walls blackened.
The sounds of people screaming could be heard in the video, as some men rushed to the scene on motorcycles and other residents limped away from the area.
The authenticity of the video could not be immediately verified. The government restricts media access in Syria.
Activists said more than a thousand people had been queuing at the bakery. Shortages of fuel and flour have made bread production erratic across the country, and people often wait for hours to buy bread.
New York-based Human Rights Watch condemned army air strikes on bakeries earlier this year, arguing that in some incidents the military was not using enough precision to target rebel sites and in other instances may have intentionally hit civilians.
"We hadn't received flour in around three days so everyone was going to the bakery today, and lots of them were women and children," Hamawi said. "I still don't know yet if my relatives are among the dead.""

Political peddlers: Vending Tunisia

Tunisians are still frustrated of the status quo while politicians act like street vendors peddling their platforms.

Larbi Sadiki

"It is a brave "new world" since Bouazizi ignited Tunisia - and literally the Arab world - two years ago. In his footsteps has emerged a new breed of vendor-like politician that hawks all kinds of creeds, ideas, myths and even hope in the political "street".

In one sense, Tunisia's political peddlers have put the cart before the horse, selling "wares" and "goods" in the absence of an overarching climate of compromise, power-sharing, and professionalism.
The missing link in all of this is the consensual culture within which politics has traditionally emerged and has been embedded. Today, the travails of transition are more concrete than any verifiable outcomes, adding to popular disillusionment across the board.

Three aspects manifest the trials and error of a still-promising transition process, though with little or no correction of course yet in sight......

Where to?

With increased misery, aimlessness, and higher youth unemployment, in parts as high as 30 percent and maybe above, the vendors of Tunisia will have hard time buying loyalty, following and trust.
Like street peddlers, politicians across the political spectrum will need more than verbal and rhetorical inducements and ornaments to embellish their parties and convince Tunisians, namely the have-nots, to participate. For, so far the return from the October 23 vote is minimal if not inexistent."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you support the call for civil disobedience in Iraq to protest the policies of PM Maliki?

With over 700 responding, 95% said yes.

Al-Jazeera Video: ما وراء الخبر- ثبات الموقف الروسي تجاه سوريا

Real News Video: Black: Too Big to Prosecute and It's Obama's Fiscal Cliff

Bill Black: Criminal money laundering goes unpunished and Fiscal Cliff was created by Obama 

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