Saturday, January 18, 2014

Egypt's Terrible Three: Interview with Hossam El-Hamalawy

"Nearly three years after the fall of Mubarak, with the deep state and the military openly back in control, Egypt seems to have come full circle. How did that happen and what is the situation on the ground really like, with Egyptians going to the polls yet again to vote on a new constitution? Vomena's Khalil Bendib speaks with Egyptian activist, blogger, and journalist Hossam el-Hamalawy."

Surprise, Surprise! The American Puppets Are going to Geneva 2!

Syrian opposition to attend peace conference

A handout picture released by the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) shows the SNC president, Ahmad Jarba (L) and one of its members taking part in their general assembly on January 18, 2014 at a hotel in a suburb of Istanbul.   AFP PHOTO / Syrian National Coalition Media / MHD Ziadeh
A handout picture released by the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) shows the SNC president, Ahmad Jarba (L) and one of its members taking part in their general assembly on January 18, 2014 at a hotel in a suburb of Istanbul. AFP PHOTO / Syrian National Coalition Media / MHD Ziadeh
"ISTANBUL: The main Syrian opposition group voted Saturday in favor of attending a coming peace conference aimed at ending the country's bloody civil war, paving the way for the first direct talks between the rival sides in the nearly three-year conflict.
The vote in Istanbul came as food supplies began entering a besieged rebel-held Palestinian refugee camp in Syria's capital for the first time in months, an apparent goodwill gesture by President Bashar Assad's government ahead of the peace conference, Palestinian and United Nations officials said.
The Coalition was under huge pressure from its Western and Arab sponsors to attend the peace talks, scheduled to open Wednesday in the Swiss city of Montreux. The Syrian government has already said it will attend the U.N.-sponsored talks.
The Coalition's leader, Ahmad al-Jarba, said in a speech late Saturday that they are heading to the conference "without any bargain regarding the principles of the revolution and we will not be cheated by Assad's regime."
"The negotiating table for us is a track toward achieving the demands of the revolution - at the top of them removing the butcher from power," Jarba said.
But many Coalition members are hesitant to attend a conference that has little chance of success and will burn the last shred of credibility the group has with powerful rebels on the ground, who reject the talks. Many members boycotted the Istanbul meetings that began on Friday, forcing the Coalition's legal committee to approve the decision in a simple majority vote.
Although Islamic rebel groups reject any talk with the government, the head of the Western-backed Supreme Military Council, Gen. Salim Idris, said in a statement that he backs "a solution that guarantees a political transition of power."
He called upon Coalition officials heading to Geneva to demand that Assad and his top officials leave power, have no role in Syria's future and set up a transitional government "with full powers" that include control of security agencies and open corridors to allow food into besieged areas.
Maj. Issam el-Rayyes, a spokesman for the Syrian Revolutionary Front, also said they back a political solution that would include Assad leaving power.
The Syrian National Coalition's media office said that of 73 voters, 58 voted in favor of attending the conference. It added that 14 voted against attending the conference, two abstained and one simply turned in a blank ballot.
The aim of the conference, dubbed Geneva 2, is to agree on a roadmap for Syria based on one adopted by the U.S., Russia and other major powers in June 2012. That plan includes the creation of a transitional government and eventual elections.
The U.S. and Russia have been trying to hold the peace conference since last year and it has been repeatedly delayed. Both sides finally agreed to sit together on the negotiations table after dropping some of their conditions.
One of the main demands of the opposition was that Assad agrees to step down before going to the conference. With his government troops keeping their momentum on the ground, Assad's government has said he will not surrender power and may run again in elections due in mid-2014.
It will be the first face-to-face meeting between the representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition since the country's crisis began in March 2011. Activists say the fighting has killed more than 130,000 people while displacing millions.
The U.S. and France welcomed the Coalition's vote.
"This is a courageous vote in the interests of all the Syrian people who have suffered so horribly under the brutality of the Assad regime and a civil war without end," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.
In Paris, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius applauded the vote in a statement as a "courageous choice, despite provocations and exactions of the regime."
Meanwhile Saturday, some 200 food parcels were sent into the Yarmouk camp outside of Damascus, said Chris Gunness, a spokesman for UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees. Gunness said the Syrian government requested the delivery.
Yarmouk is one of the areas hardest hit by food shortages in Syria. Residents there say 46 people have died since October of starvation, illnesses exacerbated by hunger or because they couldn't obtain medical aid. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of activists around the country, said an elderly man died in the camp earlier Saturday because of the food shortage.
In the Syrian capital of Damascus, Anwar Raja, a spokesman for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, said hundreds of boxes of food entered the camp. He said much of the material was carried by members of PFLP-GC members and committees in the camp.
"The process is moving slowly since they are being carried on the shoulder to avoid sniper fire," Raja told The Associated Press in Damascus by telephone.
PFLP-GC members are fighting against Syrian opposition fighters who control most of the camp.
Gunness said the U.N. laid down an express condition that the food "must be distributed exclusively to civilians in need of assistance" and that fighters shouldn't receive it. He also said the area should be opened for regular access by humanitarian groups.
Meanwhile Saturday, violence continued. The Observatory said a government air raid on the northern city of Aleppo killed 23 people."

The Fascists in Egypt Have Gone Crazy! Egyptian editor backtracks after saying 'Americans will be killed in streets'

Mostafa Bakry issues clarification, saying: 'I am opposed to any violence, including any violence against US citizens'

General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi
Bakry claims there is a plot to killed General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi (pictured). Photograph: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters
"A prominent Egyptian editor who threatened that Americans could be slaughtered in the streets has been forced to backtrack on his remarks after they were reported by western media.
In an extreme example of the growing xenophobic rhetoric by media outlets who back the country's army chief, General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Mostafa Bakry made the threat on a major TV talkshow, also warning the US president, Barack Obama, and his "puppets" that "we will enter their houses, and we will kill them one by one".
Bakry speculated that the US government planned to assassinate Sisi, who ousted Egypt's first democratically elected leader, Mohamed Morsi, last July after mass protests against his one-year rule.
"There is a plot to kill General Sisi, and the security services know it well," said Bakry – a pro-regime journalist known for his provocative behaviour. He then suggested that a similar US-backed plot had led to the assassination of Pakistani politician, Benazir Bhutto.
Such a scenario would lead the Egyptian people to rise up in a "revolution to kill the Americans in the streets", he said.
Egypt's foreign ministry later forwarded the following clarification from Bakry himself: "These comments were made regarding terrorism and the terrorist group that is waging a war against Egypt. I am opposed to any violence, including any violence against US citizens, and I would like to make it clear that we have no enmity with or hostility towards the American people at all.
"The intention of my comments was to highlight Egyptian independence, and our adamant refusal to allow any outside party, be that the US or any other party, to interfere in internal Egyptian affairs."
Bakry's remarks came as the US is reportedly poised to unfreeze millions of dollars in aid to Egypt after the successful completion of a referendum on a new constitution, and follow praise of Egypt's post-Morsi transition by US the secretary of state, John Kerry.
Egypt's pro-regime media have increasingly portrayed any dissent – of either a secular or Islamist bent – against the current regime as an unpatriotic act.
Egypt's flagship state newspaper, al-Ahram, has several times in recent months used its front page to air claims that the US government has joined forces with Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood to divide up Egypt into smaller countries, and to spread chaos within its borders.
The Brotherhood also often uses xenophobic rhetoric to smear its opponents. In its propaganda, the US is conversely portrayed as both a supporter and instigator of Morsi's overthrow.
But Bakry's earlier outburst is not a reflection of the views of ordinary Egyptians, many of whom crave the return of Egypt's decimated tourism industry.

Here is a list of the real forces behind the violence in Iraq

Violence is spiraling out of control in Iraq, as the regime dodges responsibility.

By Haifa Zangana

The Iraqi government's war on terror will not diminish the suffering of the Iraqi population, writes the author [AP]

"During his visit to Iraq on January 14, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced concern about the deteriorating security  situation. In his joint press conference with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Ki-moon urged all political leaders to "address the root causes of the problems", calling for "political cohesion" and "political dialogue, inclusive dialogue".
Ban Ki-moon was immediately rebuffed by al-Maliki, who said: "Talk about dialogue in Al-Anbar is rejected because we do not hold dialogue with al-Qaeda". He seemed to be saying there is no one in the province worth talking to. In doing so, al-Maliki resorted to his usual rhetoric accusing Anbar's population of being 'terrorists', despite the fact that protesters, along with five other provinces, have been peacefully demonstrating since December 2012. His statements were obviously intended to legitimise a sectarian-inspired brutal military campaign against the protestors.
The question is: Will the siege, bombardment and military onslaught on Fallujah and Ramadi in Anbar province , put an end to the terrorist acts and  frequent car explosions taking place in markets, cafes and mosques and in various Iraqi cities? Will the highly publicised US-Iraqi franchised "war on terror" in Anbar put an end to the endemic suffering of Iraqis?
Inside Story - Al-Qaeda: Testing loyalties in Iraq?
Hardly so. Explosions continue unabated in many cities, even with the launch of Maliki's military assault on Falluja and Anbar. And despite the countless official statements of arresting and killing scores of "al-Qaida emirs" (leaders), as well as members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In Arabic, the ISIS has an acronym that reads as Daaish, which sounds comical, and in Baghdadi dialect is close to "Dagash" that translates to "phoney".
What Maliki chooses to ignore and what Ban Ki-moon has singled out is precisely what the protest movement has been demanding all along: looking at the root causes of the problems. In Iraq's case, they are sectarianism, corruption, lack of basic services, violations of human rights, increasing unemployment and organised gangs and militias flourishing under a kleptocratic government.
The Maliki government has been harvesting over $100bn a year for some time now, from the nation's oil wealth.That amounts to about $20,000 a year per average Iraqi household of 7 people, except that Iraqis are left deprived of basic commodities. The wealth is squandered or stolen, a situation illustrated byTransparency International as: "Massive embezzlement, procurement scams, money laundering, oil smuggling and widespread bureaucratic bribery have led the country to the bottom of international corruption rankings, fuelled political violence and hampered effective state building and service delivery."
Terrorism thrives through official corruption, since any officer has a price for letting go of a car or a convict. The officers themselves pay to get their positions, and they have to cover the costs for acquiring them. The Maliki regime blames all terrorist acts on al-Qaeda, and recently on Daaish. Iraqis, however, suspect an abundance of diverse actors according to where and when a terrorist act is committed, including the regime itself, its security officers who strive to increase their funding  and its officials who resort to covering up tracks, burning documents and eliminating rivals.
Al-Maliki also selectively chooses not to mention the regime's own militias: Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Iraqi Hezbollah, the Badr brigades, factions of the Mahdi army and the Mokhtar army. The latter's leader has bragged on Baghdadiya TV, about their responsibility for several attacks. No investigation has been done and no one was arrested. There is also hardly any mention of the Iraqi Special Forces inherited from the occupation, especially trained by Colonel James Steele under US ambassador John Negroponte and attached now directly to al-Maliki's office.
Above all, there is no mention of the plethora of foreign-led special operation agents, private security contractors, and organised networks of professional killers, some of whom, many Iraqis believe, are protected by the regime, in the shadow of the US' biggest embassy in the world, in the fortified green zone in Baghdad. Added to this list is Iran and its using of  Iraq as a battle ground to settle scores with the US, or making their presence felt in the ongoing bargaining about its regional role.
Al Jazeera World - Roadtrip Iraq
Al-Maliki's political alliance, originally designed by the US-led occupation and carried on by the same players despite the fallacy of an electoral process, proved to be a complete failure leading the country from one disaster to another. A political process based on a sectarian-ethnic quota is the Frankenstein created and nurtured by the US and the UK to divide and conquer by positioning themselves to be the indispensible arbitrator. But like all rootless monsters, and oppressive subservient rulers navigating between masters, it has grown beyond the control of its creator planting the seeds of fragmentation and animosity.
The squabbling of the politicians, calling themselves partners in al-watan (homeland), has developed, in some cases, into a full-blown bloody clashes, such as when security forces raided the home of MP Ahmed al-Alwani in Ramadi, which led to the killing of his brother and five guards.
Under current Iraqi law, 48 offenses are subject to the death penalty. Men as well as women are executed in an unprecedented rate. Just in 2013, 169 people were executed, the highest such figure since the 2003 US-led invasion, placing it third in the world, behind China and Iran. Iraq's justice system is "too deeply flawed to warrant even a limited use of the death penalty, let alone dozens of executions at a time," the United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay said, warning that the death penalty undermines efforts to reduce violence and achieve a more stable society. Torture, sexual abuse and the threat of rape and actual rape are frequently inflicted on detainees, regardless of their gender.
Adding to its crimes against Iraqi people, the US continues to deliver to al-Maliki's regime weapons and equipment, abetting its militarisation and uncontrollable violence against civilians.  
The Iraqis themselves believe that no future without full political and economic sovereignty, equal citizenship and respect of human rights. Otherwise the madness of revenge will continue to prevail."

Friday, January 17, 2014

Al-Jazeera Video: مخيم اليرموك تحت وطأة القصف والحصار

"قالت المفوضة السامية لحقوق الإنسان بالأمم المتحدة نافي بيلاي إن العقبات التي تضعها السلطات السورية أمام وصول المساعدات للاجئين الفلسطينيين في مخيم اليرموك يمكن أن تشكل جريمة حرب. "

إيران: في صعود أم في ورطة بسبب غطرسة القوة؟!

إيران: في صعود أم في ورطة بسبب غطرسة القوة؟!

د. فيصل القاسم

لا أحد يستطيع أن ينكر أن إيران، وعلى عكس الكثير من الدول العربية، تعمل جاهدة منذ عقود لتكريس نفسها، ليس كقوة بشرية لها وزنها في المنطقة فحسب، بل أيضاً كقوة عسكرية واقتصادية وتكنولوجية صاعدة. 
ولا يمكن لعاقل إلا أن يحترم هذه العزيمة الإيرانية، التي تعمل على طريقة حائك السجاد العجمي البارع، الذي لا يكل ولا يمل حتى يحيك سجاداً غاية في الروعة ودقة التفاصيل، حتى لو استغرق ذلك منه سنوات وسنوات.
على العكس من ذلك، نجد أن النفس العربي قصير جداً، ولا يمكن أن ينافس الإيراني، من حيث الجدية والثبات والمثابرة. لا يمكن لعاقل إلا أن يغبط إيران على صراعها مع الغرب للحصول على الطاقة النووية. 
وقد استطاعت أخيراً أن تقدم نفسها للعالم على أنها قوة نووية. وبفضل سياساتها الطموحة، التي لا تخطئها عين، راحت إيران تمتد في طول المنطقة وعرضها، لا بل إنها تجاوزت حدود المنطقة أحياناً بالتوجه إلى أفريقيا وأمريكا اللاتينية. 
لكن عيب السياسة الإيرانية الأكبر أن إيران دخلت مرحلة الغطرسة والعنجهية، ويبدو أن الغرور قد بدأ يدخل رأسها سريعاً، لهذا بدأنا نراها تتصرف كمصارع ثيران، لا كلاعب شطرنج. 
لكن نشوة القوة التي أصابت إيران بدأت تنال منها، وتدفع بها إلى متاهات خطيرة في أكثر من مكان. وبدل أن تعزز مكاسبها الجيوسياسية في المنطقة بدأت تعاني اهتزازات كبيرة في محمياتها كالعراق وسوريا ولبنان وفلسطين، وقريباً في أفغانستان.
في لبنان خسرت إيران كثيراً منذ بدء الثورة السورية، فمن المعلوم أن ذراعها المتمثل بحزب الله كان أقوى أوراقها في الشرق الأوسط، فبفضل تصديه لإسرائيل، استطاع الحزب أن يتبوأ مكانةً عظيمة في الشارعين العربي والإسلامي، بدليل أن صور السيد حسن نصرالله كانت ترفع في معظم البلدان العربية والإسلامية كقائد مقاومة لا يشق له غبار. ولا ينكر ذلك إلا مكابر. 
وقد كان ينظر الجميع بإعجاب إلى حزب الله على أنه إنجاز إيراني جدير بالاحترام والتقدير، خاصة وأن إيران نجحت أيضاً في احتضان حركات مقاومة فلسطينية أخرى لها شعبيتها في الشارعين العربي والإسلامي، وهما حركتا ‘حماس′ و’الجهاد’. أما الآن فقد بدأت إيران تخسر نقاط قوتها في لبنان والشارع العربي. 
لم يعد حزب الله ذلك الحزب الذي يصفق لقائده الكثيرون من المحيط إلى الخليج، بل تحول إلى شريك في سحق الثورة الشعبية السورية المشروعة. وقد بدت إيران وهي تدفع بحزب الله إلى أتون المحرقة السورية وكأنها تطلق النار على قدميها. 
هل يعقل أن تقوم بالتضحية بحركة المقاومة الأشهر في التاريخ العربي والإسلامي الحديث؟ ألا ترى طهران كيف تحول الحزب الذي كان يحظى بشعبية كبرى إلى قاتل مأجور في عيون الكثيرين؟ وقد جاء التورط العسكري للحزب فيسوريا كمسمار أخير في نعش تلك الحركة، التي كان يعلق عليها الكثيرون آمالاً كبرى، لكن كل تلك الآمال تبخرت. 
حسب إيران وحزب الله الآن أن ينجوا من سياط الشعوب ووسائل الإعلام العربية، التي باتت ترى في حزب الله مجرد بيدق طائفي مفضوح في أيدي من بات يسميه البعض بـ’العدو الصفيوني’. 
والأسوأ من ذلك، أن الكثير من القوى في المنطقة راحت تعمل على انتاج جماعات لمواجهة حزب الله بالقوة. وقد بدأت تباشير ذلك بالتفجيرات التي تدك ضاحية حزب الله ومناطقه بشكل منظم. من كان يتوقع أن تتعرض مناطق الحزب إلى اهتزازات أمنية مرعبة؟ 
من الواضح أن ‘أول الرقص حنجلة’، كما يرى العارفون، فالقادم أعظم، حيث سيشهد بروز جماعات سنية تقض مضاجع إيران في لبنان. ولن يكون وقتها خصوم حزب الله من نوعية ‘السنيورة’ و’الحريري’، بل ربما من نوعيات صادمة جداً. وقد أدى تدهور سياسة إيران اللبنانية بدوره إلى تعميق الشرخ بين إيران والشعب السوري من جهة أخرى، حيث بات غالبية المسلمين السوريين ينظرون إلى إيران وحزب الله على أنه عدو طائفي مقيت، بعد اشتراكه في ما بدا على أنها معركة مذهبية.
ليس صحيحاً أن إيران تغلغلت في سوريا بعد اندلاع الثورة، على العكس من ذلك، فقد كانت سوريا قبل الثورة مجالاً حيوياً إيرانياً بامتياز، إن لم نقل محمية إيرانية. لكن قبضة إيران في سوريا قد اهتزت كثيراً بعد الثورة بسبب الغطرسة الإيرانية ووهم القوة. 
لقد كان هناك موقفان داخل القيادة الإيرانية بعد اندلاع الثورة السورية، موقف كان يقوده الرئيس الإيراني السابق محمود أحمدي نجاد، وموقف يقوده المرشد الأعلى. لقد صرح نجاد في لقاءات كثيرة أنه يعتبر ما يحدث في سوريا ثورة شعبية حقيقية مشروعة، وعلى القيادة السورية أن تتعامل معها كثورة بإجراءات إصلاحية حقيقية، بدل مواجهتها بالحديد والنار. 
لكن المرشد الأعلى كان يصر على مواجهة الثورة السورية بنفس الطريقة التي واجهت فيها إيران ‘الثورة الخضراء’ بالقوة الوحشية. وبما أن الرئيس في إيران بلا حول ولا قوة، فقد انصاع للولي الفقيه، الذي راح يدعم حليفه السوري بالغالي والرخيص للقضاء على الثورة. 
وقد تسببت سياسة العنجهية هذه بأضرار فادحة لإيران في سوريا، فمن الواضح أن طهران تورطت في المستنقع السوري شر ورطة، بدليل أنها راحت تستجلب المليشيات الشيعية من كل حدب وصوب لإنقاذ وضعها المتدهور هناك. 
أضف إلى ذلك أنها باتت تستجدي الآن الكثير من القوى والدول في المنطقة لإيجاد حل لورطتها السورية، وقد بدأت تنفتح مؤخراً على الإخوان المسلمين، والحركات السلفية، وبعض الدول على أمل إيجاد مخرج من المهلكة السورية، التي أضرت كثيراً بوضعها في المنطقة.
ولا يقل الوضع سوءاً بالنسبة لإيران في فلسطين، حيث كانت حركة حماس وإيران على طرفي نقيض، في ما يخص الموقف من الوضع السوري. صحيح أن حماس بدأت تعيد علاقاتها مع إيران، لكن الخسارة تعمقت كثيراً بالنسبة لإيران، ولا يمكن أن تعود حماس عن رأيها في ما يخص الأزمة السورية. وهذا بحد ذاته ضربة لإيران.
وحدث ولا حرج عن وضعها في العراق، حيث فشلت سياساتها الطائفية في السيطرة على العراق، ناهيك عن أن المكون السني في العراق بات يرى في إيران عدواً مبيناً. ولا شك أن انتفاضة الأنبار تأتي في سياق الرد على المشروع الإيراني في العراق. لقد أصبح أزلام إيران في العراق في وضع لا يحسدون عليه، بعد أن تحول العراق إلى ساحة يومية للتفجيرات. وهذا سيؤثر كثيراً على وضعها هناك، فمن الأفضل لها، لو استطاعت أذرعها أن تحكم العراق بهدوء ودون مشاكل، لكن ذلك أصبح حلماً بعيد المنال بعد أن تحول العراق إلى مرجل يغلي وأرض تمور تحت أقدام من بات العراقيون يسمونهم بـ’العدو الفارسي’.
وبعودة حركة طالبان إلى السيطرة على أفغانستان، فإن إيران ايضاً مقبلة على مشاكل كثيرة في جوارها.
هل يمكن أن نقول بعد كل ما سبق إن إيران في صعود، أم في ورطة حقيقية بسبب عنجهيتها وغرور القوة؟ 

Emad Hajjaj's Cartoon

حصار مخيم اليرموك وقتل الفلسطينيين باسم الممانعة وفلسطين!

The Bloody Syrian Regime.....
Still Talks About Resistance and Palestine's "Liberation".......
While Besieging Yarmouk Refugee Camp......
And Starving, to Death, over 20,000 Palestinians Near Damascus!

When pro Palestinian activists apply Liberal Zionist discourse on Yarmouk

My favorite "revolutionary" blogger "the Angry Lebanese" Asad AbuKhalil is at it again. After relentlessly trying to be a history revisionist on the events in Syria  he now borrows the same "moral equivalency" compass and logic used by Liberal Zionists when discussing Yarmouk camp siege:

Check this passage out from 1-16-2014
There is no question that the lousy Syrian regime has imposed a siege on the Yarmuk Refugee camp. And there is no question that the Syrian rebels have used the camp and its residents as their human shields.  Furthermore, notice that this account by Liz Sly and by Western NGOs do NOT mention that Syrian rebels shot at the convoy of food supplies that came to the camp the other day.  Both sides of the conflict have shown disregard for the welfare of the camp's residents, or what is left of them.

Take the statement above and replace the players to apply it to Gaza and what you have is something straight out of Haaretz :

There is no question that the lousy Zionists entity has imposed a siege on  Gaza. And there is no question that Hamas have used Gaza and its residents as their human shields.  Furthermore, notice that this account  by Al-Jazeera  do NOT mention that Hamas shot at the convoy of food supplies that came to Gaza the other day.  Both sides of the conflict have shown disregard for the welfare of the Gaza residents, or what is left of them.

Like many "pro" Palestinian activists living in the west he chooses to ignore the Palestinian voices inside the camp that refute the report that "the rebels shot at the convoy

Syria peace conference must end starvation for besieged civilians

"The Geneva II peace conference on Syria must aim to urgently end government sieges imposed on opposition-held towns where civilians are starving to death, said Amnesty International.
The organization is urging government and opposition groups to commit to granting unfettered access to humanitarian organizations operating throughout Syria during the UN-backed talks which begin on 22 January in Switzerland.
(Photos courtesy of

Heartbreaking images from besieged Syrian towns showing emaciated children and skeletal figures with yellowing skin have emerged in recent days. The scale of the humanitarian crisis in Syria is expanding at an overwhelming pace. We are urging all states involved in the Geneva II talks, the United Nations, the Syrian government and the Syrian National Coalition to make alleviating the suffering of people in Syria a top priority,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.
“If the peace conference goes ahead as planned, it will represent a rare opportunity to make vital progress on human rights for both sides of the conflict. Those involved in Geneva II must ensure that human rights remain at the forefront of the agenda and are not sacrificed for the sake of a political compromise.”
The Syrian government has obstructed the delivery of vital aid to civilian populations in and around Damascus including the al-Yarmouk camp for Palestinian refugees, where at least 49 people, including 17 women and girls, are reported to have died since last July, including some who starved to death. A nurse at a local hospital told Amnesty international that since mid-November 2013 when government forces took control of an area near the camp, several civilians have been killed by snipers while foraging for food in nearby fields.
“Every day, we receive around four people – probably half of them women - who were shot at by snipers as they were picking plants and shrubs in the fields. The women say they prefer to risk their own lives to spare their children. On one occasion, we received a teenager, probably aged 16 or 17, who was shot dead. His father started talking to him, saying: ‘You died for the sake of bringing hibiscus leaves for your siblings.’ It was heartbreaking,” he said.
Blockades on Moadamiya and Eastern Ghouta and in other areas have also left desperate civilians trapped and facing extreme food and medical shortages. Last month UN humanitarian affairs chief Valerie Amos estimated that 250,000 people in besieged areas were beyond the reach of aid.
One civilian trapped in Moadamiya told Amnesty International: “I would wake up at night and drink water several times in the hope that in the morning, I'd feel less hungry... there is just nothing to eat.” Despite a truce between Syrian government forces and opposition armed groups in Moadamiya last December, so far humanitarian aid allowed into the town has been far from sufficient and lacked nutritious goods – including fruits and vegetables.
“The Syrian government is cruelly punishing civilians living in opposition-held areas. Starving civilians as a method of warfare is a war crime. The blockades must be lifted immediately and access to humanitarian aid must never be used to score military or political gains,” Philip Luther said.
The Syrian authorities may inspect goods entering and leaving towns but must not block the delivery of basic supplies including food and medical aid. Both government and opposition forces must also guarantee safe access for workers delivering life-saving humanitarian aid and immediately end attacks on medical and humanitarian workers.
Detained activists and civilians
In addition to ensuring humanitarian access, Amnesty International is calling on participants at Geneva II, particularly states with influence on the Syrian government and armed opposition groups, to secure the release of all peaceful activists, including human rights defenders, and civilian hostages they are holding.
Since 2011, thousands of peaceful opposition protesters have been detained by government security forces. Some have since been released but in many cases detainees have been tortured to death or given lengthy prison sentences following unfair trials. Others continue to be held without trial.
Majd al-Din al-Kholani, aged 25, is one such detainee. He was arrested in 2011 after organizing protests in Daraya, a city south-west of Damascus, when he gave Syrian soldiers water bottles with flowers to oppose the use of force against demonstrators. He continues to be held incommunicado. Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience who, along with many other peaceful activists, should be released immediately and unconditionally. Recently the organization received credible information that his case had been transferred to a secret field military court where he may face the death penalty or prolonged imprisonment.
In August 2013, at least 105 civilians, mainly women and children, were abducted from their mostly Alawite Muslim villages by an armed group that had hoped to swap them for opposition fighters held by the regime. They continue to be held hostage. States taking part in Geneva II and that have influence on such armed opposition groups must act immediately to secure their safe release.
Too many people have been detained, abducted or subjected to enforced disappearances in Syria with their fate remaining unknown. Any deals made by participants in the Geneva II peace conference must also aim to secure the release of the thousands of peaceful activists like Majd al-Din al-Kholani and those abducted, particularly women and children,” said Philip Luther.
Syrian women’s voices
Amnesty International is also calling for local activists and women to be given a platform at the Geneva II conference so that they can make effective contributions to any decisions made.
The organization is urging states to stop all arms transfers to the Syrian government and to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) as well as any armed opposition groups committing war crimes and other serious human rights abuses.
Amnesty International is also calling for an end to attacks on non-military targets, particularly by the government and for both sides to stop the widespread practice of summary killing and torture. Since 2011, the organization has been calling on the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court."

The Arab spring: made in Tunisia, broken in Egypt

Where did Tunisia go right, and Egypt so wrong? One difference lies in the character of the Islamist groupings that won the first free elections in each country

On the southern shores of the Mediterranean, the third anniversary of revolution is being marked by two new constitutions.
In Tunisia, an elected assembly has produced the most liberal political ground-rules in the Arab world. In the words of the outgoing premier, Ali Larayedh, the document sets the seal on a "democratic, made-in-Tunisia transition".
A few hundred miles east, by contrast, against a backdrop of boycotts and violence, is an Egyptian referendum in which a 90%+ "yes" vote will validate the army-led coup that ousted the first elected president, Mohamed Morsi.
The two countries have much in common: Sunni Muslim majorities, a history of secular government and, unlike shared neighbour Libya, little oil.
On the eve of revolution, both were marked by costly food, unequal incomes, youth unemployment and ageing despots. Where did Tunisia go right, and Egypt so wrong?
One difference lies in the character of the Islamist groupings that won the first free elections in each country: Ennahda in Tunisia, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
Each filled an organisational vacuum in, respectively, Bourguiba Avenue and Tahrir Square.
But where Ennahda moved with caution and regard for consensus, the Brotherhood drafted a constitution that many revolutionaries rejected.
Fearing theocracy, some appealed to the military, whose head, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, duly ordered the arrest of the first freely elected president, and killed the revolution.
While the Tunisian military has historically had little interest in politics, the vast Egyptian army has hovered close to the throne of every president since Nasser.
The army's roots reach deep into Egypt's culture and economy: theWikiLeaks cables described a "large network of businesses" that made the military "a 'quasi-commercial' enterprise".
It runs hospitals, builds roads, manages resorts and owns factories that produce fertilisers, cement and even cars. It employs tens of thousands of civilians and nearly half a million soldiers, often conscripts, meaning almost every family with a son has a military connection. In the aftermath of the coup, one poll found, 70% of Egyptians retained confidence in it.
So who can hold Mr Sisi and his generals to account? There is a further lucrative stream of military income: the billions of dollars in subventions that Washington has paid over three decades.
In the wake of the coup, the US cut aid, but Congress is soon likely to waive restrictions on giving more than $1bn. The White House – so reluctant to use the word "coup" about July's events – must use this lever to persuade the generals to withdraw from politics.
Otherwise, emboldened by the referendum, Mr Sisi may well step out from behind the throne and take it for himself. Egypt's circular route back to despotism will then be complete.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Video: Syrian Regime Helicopter Shot Down Over Daria on January 16, 2014

A Repulsive Pair

لافروف (يمين) التقى ظريف اليوم وسيلتقي المعلم غدا (الفرنسية)
Look at This Repulsive Pair.......
Laughing Away with Their Hyena Laughs.....
While Tens of Thousands of Palestinians and Syrians Are Starved to Death.....
By the Murderous Regime They Support!

Of negotiations and high treason: Israel-Palestine 'peace'

The corrupt PA is incapable of achieving the dignity of Palestinian self-determination, writes the author.


No good for Palestinians will come of the current Middle East talks. Worse, harm seems likely. These negotiations threaten to undo years of work by Palestinian civil society and solidarity partners around the world who have been working tirelessly for a just peace. Their work has been done -principally- through global nonviolent resistance campaigns such as the Boycott Divestment & Sanctions campaign (BDS)the Russell Tribunal, and mounting popular local and international protests, among other tactics.
What we are hearing is that US Secretary of State John Kerry has presented both parties with an interim agreement to "serve as a framework for continued negotiations towards a permanent agreement". The "final status agreement" would be "based on the 1967 borders". Concrete concessions with profound implications are being demanded of the Palestinians, but not so for Israel, which is "negotiating" on territory, rights, and resources that already belong to Palestinians.
Much of this rhetoric is familiar, as it is recycled from the failed Oslo Accords, in which an agreement was reached exacting permanent Palestinian concessions in exchange for promises of Israeli reciprocity that never materialised. Thus, Palestinians are now being sold the same lie they bought 20 years ago. This time, the concessions demanded of Palestinians amount to a complete relinquishment of our rights as a native people, in exchange for the same empty promises and pocket change from the EU and US to sustain the status quo a little longer, enough time to permanently alter the landscape and complete the economic, political and social engineering of the Palestinian population towards the goal of permanent impotence, in which profound divisions, corruption, and dependence preclude the emergence of organised impactful resistance.
Known truths 
The details of the agreement, we are told, "are being worked out between the parties". But here are some certainties: Palestinian self-determination will not be realised from this agreement. A viable Palestinian state with a contiguous land mass will remain impossible given the physical alterations of the landscape Israel has made through rapacious land theft, colonisation, and "Judaisation" of Jerusalem and large parts of the West Bank. Israel will not cease illegal settlement construction, even if it does so temporarily. Palestinians will not have control over their airspace, natural resources (eg water, newly-discovered oil), borders or economy. Segregated roads, housing, and buses will still be a reality.
Demolition of Palestinian homes will continue. The siege of Gaza will remain and perhaps tightened further. The separation wall will still be there with guard towers and snipers. Israel will still bomb our world when they please. They will still conduct night raids. They will continue to terrorise our children. Administrative Detention will remain a cost of living for Palestinian youth. Our Jerusalem, a few kilometres away, will still be as far as the moon for the majority of Palestinians. Israel will continue to import foreign Jews from all over the world and settle them on stolen Palestinian land, where they take up arms against the native Palestinian population.
Empire - Israel & Palestine Peace
The incentives being offered to Palestinians in the current talks are so insignificant, suggesting that the Palestinian Authority (PA) will accept funding over freedom. There is talk of an "unprecedented economic package", and other "concessions", all of which amount to temporary anaesthetics. On the other hand, Israel will likely walk away with Palestinian blessing for their theft of the Jordan Valley, the most fertile land in the West Bank, and continued control of Palestinian lives and resources.
There is also talk that they might achieve a boost to their racist demographic goals - touted by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Henry Kissinger, a WINEPadviser - by transferring large proportions of their undesirable non-Jewish citizenry to Palestinian control. But that's gravy. Their immediate aims are two-fold: To deal a heavy blow to the growing Palestinian solidarity and boycott of Israel; and to finally gain legitimacy as a racist state.
BDS' effect
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, launched in 2005 by Palestinian civil society as a nonviolent means of national and human liberation from Israeli colonisation and apartheid, has spread into mainstream culture, promising global action on the scale that helped end the similar system of apartheid in South Africa. I believe that the popular BDS movement (including related solidarity actions) is the principal factor motivating Israel to try to come to some interim agreement with Palestinians at this point. 
Israel is panicking, and rightfully so, because its power lies only in the realm of government and corporate elites. Israel has no defences against mass mobilisation calling for justice and basic human rights. This was precisely the case in the late 1980s, when the first intifada captured the popular imagination of the world. Even before mass communication and instant information, the images of Palestinian children with rocks facing heavily armed soldiers and tanks began to sear into international consciousness, threatening Israel's image as the victim despite their best public relations and hasbara campaigns.  
Thus, Israel, in concert with the US, orchestrated the Madrid Conference, followed by the Oslo Accords. Although Palestinians made the painful sacrifice of relinquishing claim to 78 percent of Historic Palestine, agreeing to establish a state on a mere 22 percent of our homeland, Israel continued to act in bad faith, escalating the colonial and ethnic cleansing projects to create "fact on the ground" that currently preclude any meaningful realisation of a Palestinian state as envisioned by the Oslo Accords.
Not only did the Oslo "diplomacy" consolidate the land Israel took through terror and war in 1948 and create a new baseline from which to expand Israel's settlement endeavours, it also effectively siphoned the only real power we had - popular mobilisation - and broke our collective back by giving us false hope that liberation was around the corner. In return, we got an illusion of self-rule - a contingency of elected-for-life "leaders" who helped turn our proud people into a nation of beggars, dependent on international aid for sustenance. We saw further colonisation of our lands, which are now Jewish-only domains. And we got a well-trained Palestinian police force that, far from protecting Palestinians, collaborates with Israel to suppress legitimate resistance against tyranny.
We are now in a similar place to where we were in the late 1980s. After years of struggle, organising and activism, Palestinian resistance has once again captured popular imaginations and civil society around the world - academics, activists, clergy, intellectuals, artists, trade unions, universities, municipalities, churches, and other individuals and institutions of conscience - are mobilising in solidarity with Palestinian aspirations for basic human rights and to hold Israel accountable for its unrelenting systematic crimes against the indigenous Palestinian population.
Intergovernmental diplomacy is not a pathway to a just peace, but rather a sinkhole for Palestinian rights.
- Richard Falk
High treason
As Israel has no legitimate argument against demands for Palestinian basic rights, they are looking to stamp out BDS as they did the first intifada, both popular nonviolent resistance movements, by recycling the charade of negotiations. While the Palestinian people cannot be fooled again, such interim agreements do risk fooling our solidarity partners.
And so, the stakes now are far greater. Curtailing the expansion of BDS might actually end up being a sweet aside. The real prize for the supremacist and imperialist ideology of Zionism is Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish State.  Many ask why is this such an important goal for Israel. The answer is simple.  When the true heirs of the land, those who are native in every sense - historically, culturally, legally, genetically - recognise Israel as a Jewish state, they are effectively giving away their claims to their own homeland. Like a home owner who officially relinquishes her home to a squatter, Palestinians would give Israel the only real legitimacy it can ever hope to have. Making such a declaration is tantamount not only to renouncing our Right of Return to a land we just sanctified as belonging to world Jewry, but it would also mean abandonment of our Palestinian brothers and sisters who hold Israeli citizenship to permanent second-class status and institutional racist inequality.
Continued bilateral negotiations in the current gross imbalance of power will destroy us. In the words ofRichard Falk, "Intergovernmental diplomacy is not a pathway to a just peace, but rather a sinkhole for Palestinian rights."  One can forgive the PLO for being hoodwinked by Oslo the first time (despite warnings from luminaries like Edward Said). But to lead us into the same trap with the same language and empty promises is unconscionable. At this point, any interim agreement that does not fully end Israeli occupation, end Israeli apartheid (including full equality for Palestinians with Israeli citizenship), and repatriate Palestinian refugees should be viewed as an act of high treason against the Palestinian people. "