Saturday, 29 December 2012

"A disaster for the revolution!"

"...It wasn't the government that killed the Syrian rebel commander Abu Jameel. It was the fight for his loot. The motive for his murder lay in a great warehouse in Aleppo which his unit had captured a week before. The building had been full of rolled steel, which was seized by the fighters as spoils of war.
But squabbling developed over who would take the greater share of the loot and a feud developed between commanders. Threats and counter-threats ensued over the following days.
Abu Jameel survived one assassination attempt when his car was fired on. A few days later his enemies attacked again, and this time they were successful. His bullet-riddled body was found, handcuffed, in an alley in the town of al-Bab.
Captain Hussam, of the Aleppo military council, said: "If he had died fighting I would say it was fine, he was a rebel and a mujahid and this is what he had set out to do. But to be killed because of a feud over loot is a disaster for the revolution. ..."
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How the United States supports Israel's war crimes in Gaza

Israel is the largest recipient of US taxpayer-funded military aid and these weapons are used by Israel to commit systematic human rights abuses against Palestinians.

By Josh Ruebner
27 December 2012

BBC journalist Jihad Masharawi holding his 11-month-old son, killed in Gaza on 14 November 2012 by an Israeli airstrike.
On November 18, an Israeli air force pilot flying a US-made F-16 fighter jet fired a missile at the four-story home of the al-Dalu family in Gaza City, killing ten members of the family and two from the al-Muzannar family next door.

An on-site investigation conducted by Human Rights Watch concluded that the attack was a "clear violation of the laws of war" and demanded that those "responsible for deliberately or recklessly committing a serious violation of the laws of war should be prosecuted for war crimes."

Israel's bombing of the al-Dalu home was the single deadliest attack in an eight-day offensive last month against the blockaded and occupied Palestinian Gaza Strip that killed at least 160 Palestinians, of whom 105 were civilians and 34 children, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.

Two weeks ago, on International Human Rights Day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the United States works to advance "the universal freedoms enshrined" in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes the "right to life, liberty and security of person." "When governments seek to deny these liberties through repressive laws and blunt force," she intoned, "we stand against this oppression and with people around the world as they defend their rights."

Yet, when it comes to US policy toward Palestinians, this rhetoric rings hollow. The United States arms Israel to the teeth, fails to uphold US human rights laws when Israel uses US weapons to commit abuses of Palestinians and, up to this point, has thrown around its diplomatic heft in international forums to shield Israel from the war crimes prosecutions advocated for by Human Rights Watch and others.

Israel's recent killing of members of the al-Dalu and al-Muzannar families is a tragic reminder of why 15 leading church figures sent Congress a letter in October arguing that "unconditional US military assistance to Israel" plays a role in "sustaining the conflict and undermining the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians." These church leaders urged Congress to hold hearings into Israel's violations of the Arms Export Control Act, which limits the use of US weapons to "internal security" and "legitimate self-defense," and to examine Israel's eligibility for any form of US assistance, given that the Foreign Assistance Act prohibits US aid to countries that engage in a consistent pattern of human rights violations.

Such a reevaluation of US military aid to Israel, which is scheduled to amount to $30 billion from 2009 to 2018, is desperately needed. Israel is by far and away the largest recipient of US taxpayer-funded military aid and it is patently obvious that these US weapons are being used by Israel to commit systematic human rights abuses against Palestinians. For example, the fighter jet whose missile devastated the al-Dalu and al-Muzannar families very well may have been one of the 93 F-16D fighter jets, valued at $2.5 billion, which US taxpayers financed and transferred to Israel in the previous decade.

However, far from examining Israel's misuse of US weapons in its most recent attack on Gaza, much less holding it accountable, the Obama administration is moving forward with a proposed weapons deal that would replenish Israel's arsenal. While Clinton offered platitudes about standing against aggression on International Human Rights Day, the Pentagon was busy that same day notifying Congress that it hopes to ship to Israel 6,900 Joint Direct Attack Munitions tail kits, which "convert free-fall bombs into satellite-guided ordnance," and more than 10,000 bombs to accompany them.

On previous occasions when the international community attempted to hold Israel accountable for its war crimes -- most notably with the "Goldstone Report" issued after Israel's "Operation Cast Lead" killed more than 1,400 Palestinians in 2008 and 2009, and after Israel killed nine humanitarian activists in international waters who were attempting to deliver goods to Gaza in 2010 -- heavy-handed US diplomatic pressure and its threatened Security Council veto prevented effective action being taken.

But now that the United Nations General Assembly has voted to make Palestine a "non-member observer state," potentially clearing the way for it to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), Israel may no longer be able to rely on US protection. And as long as the United States refuses to hold Israel accountable for committing human rights abuses of Palestinians with US weapons and keeps the spigot of weapons open, Palestinians should seek redress at the ICC for Israel's war crimes.

Due to ongoing US funding for Israel's oppression of Palestinians, it is the only route for families such as the al-Dalu and al-Muzanner to take to receive a modicum of justice.
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Lavrov: Assad Not Planning to Leave

Local Editor

Stressing that the Syrian opposition should review its stance which demands the departure of President Bashar al-Assad, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said there was still a chance for solution in the crisis-torn country.

Lavrov with Brahimi during press conference
During a joint press conference with the international peace envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, in Moscow Lavrov said both he and the Algerian diplomat agreed there was a chance for a solution to the conflict that has lasted 21 months.

"The confrontation is escalating. But we agree the chance for a political solution remains," Lavrov said alongside Brahimi.

Lavrov said that Assad was still insisting -- including most recently to Brahimi on the envoy's latest trip to Damascus -- that he would be staying in power.

"Regarding Bashar al-Assad, he repeatedly said, both publically and in private... that he is not planning to leave, that he will remain in his post," Lavrov said.

"There is no possibility to change this position."


Concerning the Syrian opposition’s refusal to talks invitation offered by Moscow, Lavrov said he was "surprised" the head of the so-called Syria National Council Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib’s reaction.

He attacked the Syrian opposition for demanding "Assad's ouster as a prerequisite for everything else," saying that the opposition should review its stance regarding this issue.
He also urged the group to take part in dialogue “in the sake of Syria’s future.”

Russia said on Friday it has send invitation for Khatib to visit Russia and discuss the Syrian crisis. But Khatib showed little enthusiasm for the idea, saying such talks could not take place in Moscow and demanding that Russia apologise for its past policy.

"We have said frankly that we will not go to Moscow," Khatib told al-Jazeera television.
Meanwhile, Lavrov stressed Russia was not “supplying Syria with weapons used in the civil war.”
“We don’t supply Syria with offensive weapons as other countries are doing,” the top Russian diplomat said, hoping the strife in Syria will be ended by the beginning of the new year.


On the other hand, Brahimi bluntly stated that Syria was facing a choice between "hell or the political process", and said the world had to work tirelessly to bring about a diplomatic solution.

He gave a stark warning about the magnitude of the crisis in Syria and said it risked becoming even worse if fighting engulfs the capital Damascus which could exacerbate a refugee crisis.

"If the alternative is hell or the political process, we have all of us got to work ceaselessly for a political process," Brahimi said.

"The magnitude of the problem that exists now and the magnitude of the problem that exists tomorrow cannot be ignored," he added.
Source: Agencies

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US-NATO-Israeli Agenda: Syria to be Subdivided into “Three Weaker States”

Egyptian media pundit Tawfik Okasha, owner of the Egyptian opposition TV channel al-Fara’een, blamed the Mainstream Media of being complicit with the Muslim Brotherhood in feeding the Egyptian people lies about the Syrian crisis.
He calls for all free Syrians to back President Bashar al-Assad as the issue is not about him but goes beyond to include the destruction of Syria and its transformation into three weaker states incapable of confronting Israel.

Transcript of Tawfik Okasha’s statement

Bashar Al Assad’s war is with Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The issue is not about Bashar it is about the destruction of Syria and its transformation into three states
It is about Syria being owned by the muslim Brotherhood and its Security Apparatus being destroyed and replaced by that of the Muslim Bportherhood. There’s a deal being struck between Israel, Turkey and the EU to transform Syria into three states, so that the issue of the Golan Heightsa as well as Syria. So there won’t be any state that will have armed forces capable of confronting Israel.
The issue is about the destruction of the Syrian Army asnd the destruction of the Syrian leadership and the Syrian Armed Forces
You liars, you who tell the Egyptian people lies upon lies, You tell them that Bashar al Assad is slaughtering people. Bashar al Assad’s war is with Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, It is with those people sent in by Turkey, the US and Israel,
Are we not supposed to be telling the Truth
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Weekly report on Israel's terrorism against the State of Palestine

PCHR Weekly Report: 12 Palestinians wounded by Israeli troops, including 3 children

Friday December 28, 2012 10:14 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News 

In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the week of 20- 26 Dec 2012, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) found that 12 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli forces this week, including 3 children. In addition, at least 48 Palestinian civilians, including 8 children, were abducted in the West Bank.
Har Homa settlement in Bethlehem, sit of planned expansion (PCHR photo)
Har Homa settlement in Bethlehem, sit of planned expansion (PCHR photo)

Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip:

In the Gaza Strip, on 21 December 2012, 2 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded when the Israeli forces inside watchtowers and infantry units positioned along the border fence in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire at a group of persons and farmers, who were about 30 meters away from the border fence.

On the same day, 2 other Palestinians, including a child, were wounded when the Israeli forces inside watchtowers and infantry units positioned along the border fence in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire at a group of persons and farmers, who were about 150 meters away from the border fence. The four Palestinians were wounded when dozens of Palestinian civilians headed to the two abovementioned areas to challenge the Israeli decision to impose a 300-meter buffer zone along the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Israel has continued to impose a total closure and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.

Israeli attacks in the West Bank:

During the reporting period, the Israeli forces conducted at least 71 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, they abducted at least 44 Palestinians, including 6 children.

In the West Bank, on 20 December 2012, the Israeli forces wounded and abducted 2 Palestinian civilians from Rumanna village, northwest of Jenin. The 2 wounded civilians were transported by military ambulances to al-Khdeira hospital in Israel. The aforementioned persons were wounded when the Israeli Forces moved into the said village and fired at a group of persons in the center of the village.

Families of the two wounded persons said that the Israeli forces abducted both of them and transported them by a military ambulance to al-Khdeira Hospital in Israel to receive medical treatment. Ambulances of the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) were denied access to the scene. The Israeli forces then raided a house and detained the residents of the house for hours and questioned them.

On 22 December 2012, 6 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded when the Israeli forces opened fire at dozens of Palestinians, who went out for the funeral of a dead person to the cemetery near the entrance of Beit Ummar village, north of Hebron. 2 of the victims were wounded by live bullets, while the other 4 were wounded by rubber-coated metal bullets. The wounded were transported by the Palestine Red Crescent Society's (PRCS) ambulances to hospitals in Hebron. Wounds of 2 of them were serious.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 13:00, dozens of Palestinian civilians from Beit Ummar, north of Hebron, went out in a funeral procession to the cemetery near the eastern entrance of the village. Israeli soldiers surrounded the Palestinians in a provocative way. Some boys gathered in response and threw stones at the Israeli soldiers, who fired rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas canisters and sound bombs. As a result, 6 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded; 2 of whom were wounded by live bullets, while the other 4 ones were wounded by rubber-coated metal bullets. The wounded were transported by PRCS to hospitals in Hebron, where wounds of 2 of whom were described as serious:

In the same context, the Israeli forces continued to systematically use excessive force against peaceful protests organized by Palestinians and Israeli and international activists protesting against the annexation wall and settlement activities in the West Bank. As a result, dozens of Palestinians suffered from tear gas inhalation or sustained bruises. They were all treated on the spot.

The Israeli Forces established dozens of checkpoints in the West Bank. At least 4 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, were abducted at checkpoints in the West Bank.

Israeli settlement activities:

Israeli Forces have continued settlement activities in the West Bank, and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.

On 20 December 2012, a group of Israeli settlers from "Ma'ale Ephraim" settlement, southeast of Nablus, set fire to 2 vehicles belonging to 2 brothers from Othman family.

On 22 December 2012, a group of settlers from "Nokdim" settlement, south of Bethlehem, escorted by Israeli forces, attacked Abed Ali Mohammed Khamis, 28, and his daughter Ayat, 11, from Beit Ta'mar in the city. The father and his daughter were grazing their sheep in al-Freidis area, when the Israeli settlers used dogs in their attack. As a result, 2 sheep died and 8 others were wounded. Moreover, the father and his daughter were terrified and transported to a medical center.

On 22 December 2012, the Israeli infantry units moved into the Palestinian lands near "Susia" settlement, south of Hebron. They denied the Palestinian farmers access to their farmlands and dismissed them from their lands. The farmers rejected the Israeli decision and quarreled with the Israeli soldiers, who used force and attacked the farmers in response. As a result, a farmer sustained bruises and minor wounds. Moreover, the Israeli soldiers abducted 3 farmers from the same family and transported them to "Susia" settlement camp.

On 23 December 2012, the Israeli forces moved into al-Khader village, south of Bethlehem. They submitted notices of house demolition to Taha Hammad Salah, 45, and Ali Salim Mousa, 60. The 2-story house belonging to Salah is in the finishing stage while the other house belonging to Mousa consists of the foundations and a water well.

On 24 December 2012, a group of settlers from "Susia" settlement, south of Hebron, intercepted the Palestinian farmers and denied them access to their lands between "Susia" and "Havat Maon" settlements. Quarrels erupted between the farmers and settlers, as a result, the Israeli Forces moved into the area, attacked the settlers and denied them access to their lands.

Israeli attacks on non-violent demonstrations:

During the reporting period, Israeli forces used force against peaceful demonstrations organized by Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders in protest at the construction of the wall and settlement activities in the West Bank. As a result, 4 Palestinian civilians, a 16 year-old boy sustained a gunshot to the right hand and an 18 year-old boy sustained a gunshot to his back in Bil'ein village; and Hamza Ahmed Abu-Hashem, 14, sustained bruises after being pushed by an Israeli soldier off a high wall; and Ahmed Abu-Hashem, 46 in Beit Ummar. A number of demonstrators also suffered from tear gas inhalation and others sustained bruises.

Following the Friday Prayer on 14 December 2012, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders organized a peaceful demonstration in Bil'ein village, west of Ramallah, in protest to the construction of the annexation wall, titled: "Against the Israeli willful killing policy; and Israeli leaders' orders to fire live bullets at demonstrators." Administrative Detention and In Solidarity with Prisoners on Hunger Strike." The demonstrators gathered in the streets of the village, chanting slogans calling for national unity. The protesters aimed to stress the need to adhere to national principles and the right of return, to resist the occupation and to call for the release of all Palestinian prisoners. The protesters raised Palestinian flags and made their way towards the wall. They called through megaphones for Israeli settlers in “Mitityahu” settlement to leave Palestinian land. Israeli soldiers stationed in the area fired rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the demonstrators. As a result, two civilians sustained gunshot wounds, a 16-year-old boy sustained a gunshot to the right hand and an 18-year-old boy sustained a gunshot to his back. Also dozens of demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation and others sustained bruises.

Also following the Friday Prayer on 14 December 2012, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders organized a peaceful demonstration in Ne’lin village, west of Ramallah, in protest at the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities. The demonstrators moved towards areas of the annexation wall. Immediately, Israeli soldiers stationed in the area fired rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the demonstrators. As a result, some demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation and others sustained bruises.

Around the same time on Friday, 14 December 2012, dozens of Palestinian civilians and Israeli and international human rights defenders gathered in the Martyrs Square in Nabi Saleh village, northwest of Ramallah, to hold a weekly peaceful protest against the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities, titled: "Commemoration of Our Martyrs and the Commencement of Popular Resistance in Nabi Saleh." The protesters walked towards the gate erected by Israeli forces near the entrance of the village, which leads to Palestinian lands that Israeli settlers from the nearby "Halmish" settlement are trying to seize. Israeli soldiers fired live and rubber-coated bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the protesters. As a result, dozens of demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation and others sustained bruises.

Also following the Friday Prayer, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international human rights defenders organized a peaceful demonstration in the center of al-Ma’sara village, south of Bethlehem, in protest at the ongoing construction of the annexation wall, titled: "In Solidarity with the Prisoners on Hunger Strike." As the protestors moved towards the gate of the village, the Israeli forces closed it to prevent the demonstration from gaining access to the confiscated land and attacked the participants; as a result, Mahmoud Zawahra, 25, coordinator of the Popular Resistance against the Wall and the Settlement Activity, sustained bruises.

At approximately 10:00 on Saturday, 15 December 2012, dozens of Palestinian civilians, farmers and international activists gathered in Sho'ab al-Batama area, east of Yatta village in Hebron, in protest to the Israeli forces' policy of confiscating farmlands, denying civilians' access to their lands and the destruction policy. The Israeli soldiers raided the area, and declared it a closed military zone to keep the demonstrators away.

At approximately 11:00 Saturday, 15 December 2012, dozens of Palestinian civilians, international and Israeli human rights defenders, gathered in the center of Bait Ummar village, north of Hebron, for the weekly peaceful demonstration organized against the settlement expansion policy, the wall and the arrest of children. The demonstrators headed towards Thaher Jalis area near "Kermi Tsour" settlement north of the village. A group of Israeli soldiers surrounded the demonstrators and started a hand fight with them, bruising a number of them. They were identified as: Hamza Ahmed Abu-Hashem, 14, who sustained bruises after being pushed by an Israeli soldier off a high wall; and Ahmed Abu-Hashem, 46.

Recommendations to the international community:

Due to the number and severity of Israeli human rights violations this week, the PCHR made several recommendations to the international community. Among these were a recommendation that international civil society, including human rights organizations, bar associations, unions and NGOs, continue their role in pressuring their governments to secure Israel's respect for human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and to demand Israel end its attacks on Palestinian civilians.

The PCHR calls upon the international community to pressure Israel to lift the severe restrictions imposed by the Israeli government and its occupation forces on access for international organizations to the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

For the full text of the report, click on the link here:

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Iran: Terrorists not Allowed to Attend Syrian Dialogues

As he was elaborating Iran's peace plan for Syria, Iranian ambassador to Lebanon said Friday that those who have killed innocent Syrian civilians are not allowed attending any of meeting negotiating future of Syria.
According to IRNA, Ambassador Ghadanfar Roknabadi made the comment in a meeting with the Roman Orthodox Archbishop of Beirut, Priest Elias Odeh, while congratulating the auspicious birth anniversary of Jesus Christ (P) and the beginning of the Christian New Year.

Roknabadi in the meeting elaborated on Iran's Six Article Peace Plan for Syria, reiterating that Iran has taken practical steps aimed at implementing this plan by sponsoring the Tehran Conference on Syria in the presence of Syrian dissidents, hoping that by implementing this plan peace and stability would be resorted in Syria.

Also, at a press conference, he said, “The entire military engagements in Syria have reached a dead-end and it is high time for getting involved in talks.”

Roknabadi referred to Iran's plan for crisis solving in Syria, adding, “Among the articles of this plan there is freedom of the entire political prisoners and presenting humanitarian contributions to the entire Syrian people without any discrimination.”

“France and the administrative apparatus that called the National Syrian Coalition which has be recognized as legitimate by some countries are opposed to any type of dialogue about Syria under the shade of continuation of work in office of Bashar al-Assad as the president of that country,” he said.
The Iranian ambassador indicated that everyone knows that the majority of the Syrian people favor implementation of reforms in their country under the leadership of Bashar al-Assad and based on this condition, “free and fair elections must be held.”

Roknabadi added, 'The proponents and the opponents that are both present inside Syria today, along with the people of that country have the right to be present in the course of the national dialogues, and to make decisions in that respect along with the entire Syrians inside Syria and abroad and no one has the right to come from abroad and dictate his will against the will of the Syrians.'

The Archbishop of Beirut's Roman Orthodox Church Odeh, too, emphasizing the need for ending the aggressions and the bloodshed in Syria, said, 'The matter of great importance for us is preserving the stability and security of the regional countries and taking greater care to safeguard the rules of democracy, and these points cannot be achieved except by strengthening the basics of dialogue and respecting the rights and votes of the others.'
Source: IRNA
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The Syrian Crisis and the Unravelling of the Arab Levant

Published Friday, December 28, 2012
When you find yourself in the same trench as al-Qaeda, it’s time for a reconsideration. In one day, both the leadership of Syria’s political and armed opposition declared their solidarity with the Nusra Front after Washington added the group to its list of terrorist organizations.
“No armed group operating inside Syria has carried out any violations of human rights or crimes against humanity,” asserted Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib, the president of the newly formed opposition National Coalition (NC).
“And there is no indication that any of these armed groups operating on Syrian territory have special agendas that go beyond liberating the oppressed Syrian people,” he added.
President of the Syrian National Council (SNC) George Sabra confirmed that the Nusra Front is “part of the revolution in Syria,” while commander of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) Riad al-Asaad maintained that it is one of the “most capable and courageous of the armed factions.”
The Afghan Precedent
Similar praise was issued for Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s mujahadeen group in Afghanistan in the early 1980s when an armed insurgency was spreading against the Soviet Union and the local communist regime.
Richard J. Kerr, the Deputy Director of CIA with Hekmatyar
The media then portrayed Hekmatyar’s jihadi movement as disciplined, effective, and ferocious in battle despite its extreme religious views. Washington gave him more than $600 million during the Afghan war, not to mention the even larger amounts the Gulf Arabs contributed.
This is despite the fact that “Hekmatyar's party had the dubious distinction of never winning a significant battle during the war, training a variety of militant Islamists from around the world [and] killing significant numbers of mujahideen from other parties,” according to British-American journalist Peter Bergen.
At the beginning of the 1980s, the main backers of the Afghan mujahadeen (US, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia) decided to exclusively arm and finance seven armed groups, most of which were Salafi and Wahhabi oriented.
This decision had a profound impact on many parts of the Afghan countryside, whose diverse religious practices became increasingly monolithic and extremely conservative. Over the course of the war, whole swaths of the country were converted to a brand of Wahhabi Salafism.
Today, as Washington is preparing to pull out of Afghanistan, the Saudis are returning with plans to build a $100 million mosque and Islamic center in Kabul.
After the experiences of Afghanistan and, more recently, Iraq, there should not be much debate about the grave danger al-Qaeda poses. We are talking about an organization that is openly sectarian and calls for the extermination of those who practice different versions of Islam. We are talking about an organization which forced the people of Anbar in Iraq to seek the protection of the American invaders and the “Sahwa movement” for fear of al-Qaeda’s brutal methods.
The organization has an undisputed historical record – in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Algeria, and Yemen – that clearly shows that wherever it has taken up arms, it has ignited a civil war. It seems to be inherently incapable of offering anything other than death and destruction.
The only success it can claim in building something akin to a national project was with the Taliban, which came at the cost of dividing the country between the Pashtun majority and the other ethnic and religious groups.

Civil War in Syria

The war in Syria will determine the identity of a whole generation – it will likely completely transform the Arab East as we know it. After a crisis of nearly two years, it is clear that no Arab country can fully insulate itself from what is happening elsewhere in the region. The fate of the Arabs is intertwined.
In principle, at the first sign of civil war and sectarian strife (which has been underway in Syria for months now), it is our duty as Arabs not to cheer on any Syrian who is killing his fellow citizens.
This is precisely what the “Friends of Syria” gang in Lebanon have failed to do, instead becoming giddy with excitement each time the bloodletting intensifies, hailing it as a turning point that will usher in the final victory that will solve all their problems.
The same goes for the Gulf Arabs who have not only sat by and watched the Arab East being devastated by wars and occupations, but have further worked to fuel the fratricide with their money and media as if they were watching a football match.
Far from the propaganda we hear from both sides of the conflict, the idea of a decisive military victory – outside of some sort of foreign intervention – is next to impossible in Syria. Like most civil wars, the regime cannot control pro-opposition territory, nor can the opposition breach those areas where the population is loyal to the regime.
Stuck in the middle are the majority of Syrians who must bear the brunt of the war as both sides routinely commit transgressions against the civilian population in an effort to gain the upper hand.
The civil war in Syria has passed a critical point, beyond which the country becomes little more than a theater of war, where neither side is thinking about re-establishing order and a return to some semblance of normalcy. Their main concerns are how to destroy the enemy, where the contending forces and their backers view the geography of the country in pure military terms.
It is for this reason that we can say that the war in Syria is no longer over the nature of the regime, nor will it end with the departure of Bashar al-Assad, just as the Lebanese civil war did not end with the death of Bashir Gemayel or the departure of Yassir Arafat.
What complicates the conflict even more is the two sides’ complete reliance on their external allies. If the regime loses the protection of Russia and China, for example, the West will unleash a whole series of measures, starting with an economic blockade, that will eventually topple it.
As for the opposition, Turkey need only close its border with Syria to prevent the influx of fighters and weapons. Never mind the talk of them arming and financing themselves through individuals, the scale of the war the opposition is waging across the country requires the support of nations.
It is for this reason that some have come to the conclusion that a solution is no longer possible, and have placed all their hopes in a possible “Russian-American understanding,” which may very well be the worst of all possible solutions, taking Syria down the same interminable and conflict-ridden road that Lebanon took to emerge out of its civil war.

A Leap Forward

An Iraqi researcher told me that what’s happening in Syria is a natural extension of the disaster his country experienced over the past decade. We in the Arab East are paying the price for not having paid enough attention to what Iraq went through.
We thought wrongly that if we simply ignored the sectarian massacres and bloodshed there, it would not find its way to Damascus, Beirut, or Aleppo. To this day, there are regular bombings in many parts of Iraq, killing dozens on a weekly basis, with little or no response from the rest of the Arab world.
These events did not prompt any real discussion among Arab thinkers and writers outside of pre-packaged denunciations of sectarianism.
Very little, for example, was made of al-Qaeda’s open calls for sectarian killing and the Gulf Salafis’ adoption of their cause wholesale. It is worth noting here that the Syrian regime was an accomplice in the bloodletting by opening the way for jihadi fighters to enter Iraq through its territory.
The Arab East is beginning to unravel and the only way to face such a challenge is by taking a fresh look at the situation and propose a courageous solution that will neither preserve the status quo, nor take us back back to some golden past. I propose that a merger between Iraq and Syria is the only way for the two countries to overcome their deep crises.
For the first time in over 30 years, Iraq is catching its breath and taking a bit of a reprieve from the endless warfare that nearly devastated the country. Despite continued insecurity, it is relatively stable and safe as rising income from oil exports has contributed to an improved economic environment.
Iraq’s problem is not financial – oil production is predicted to reach six to eight million barrels a day by 2020. Its main challenges are political and developmental, which unity with Syria could help to address. In the near absence of a productive sector, Iraq’s economy involves little more than converting oil income to consumption through public sector employment and government-financed construction projects.
Baghdad’s annual budget today has reached $80 billion, two-thirds of which goes to public sector wages. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is repeating the mistakes of Saddam Hussein and the Shah of Iran, who thought that rising oil sales could solve all their problems, avoiding the hard decisions necessary to build a balanced and diverse national economy.
Syria can complement Iraq in this respect with its substantial productive sector, human resources, and rich experience. With a combined population of approximately 50 million, you have a real country with a large internal market and great economic potential, given that the income from oil is spent wisely.
A union would also help address the growing sectarian divide in both countries by redressing that balance in such a way that there is neither an overwhelming majority, nor a frightened minority. Such a country would also have the potential to be truly sovereign, perhaps becoming a regional power that could stand up to the likes of Turkey and Iran.
Some may say that such an idea is pure fantasy, but in this historical moment, when Iraq is beginning to rebuild and Syria is devastated, it is an opportune time for such a union.
There are many obstacles that stand in the way of this union. It is enough to consider its effect on the Arab-Israeli conflict alone to know that the US and its allies will do all they can to make sure it doesn’t see the light of day.
This is the precisely the moment when we can appreciate the centrality of self-determination and national will, and the importance of making your own decision even if half the world stands in your way. We should not wait for the Western powers to give their permission, or for Russia and the US to agree, to decide on our future.
The Arab East is unravelling and those who will remain standing are those who assert themselves, can distinguish between friend and foe, and believe in their ability to make their own history.
Amer Mohsen is a doctoral candidate in Political Science, University of California - Berkeley.
The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect Al-Akhbar's editorial policy.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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Year in Review: The Highs and Lows of Lebanon’s March 14

By: Maysam Rizk

Al-Akhbar: Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The March 14 alliance has had an extraordinary appetite for defeat in 2012. Since its exit from power, it went on a losing streak that quickly became routine. From a financial crisis to the alliance's divisions over Syria, the missteps of March 14 are not in short supply.
Those who are fond of power - and power alone - must find it difficult to be in the opposition. While March 14 ostensibly played opposition politics within the confines of the law and the democratic process, it all the same focused its efforts on returning to what it believes is its rightful place in power.

Along its journey to reclaim power, March 14 made many uncalculated moves without realizing that the hands that it played, whether in politics or with the public opinion, would not be winning ones.

By the admission of several March 14 MPs and political figures, the alliance has received in 2012 some of its harshest blows since its inception in 2005, after its most important politician, former prime minister Saad Hariri, left the government headquarters - and the country - altogether.

The Numbers on the Street

The leader of the Future Movement became preoccupied in his exile with the affairs of his inheritance, and his camp fell into a vicious cycle of internal crises.

March 14 has for too long bragged about so-called "million-strong" demonstrations that it held in the past, but this year's measly numbers speak for themselves. From the alleged millions to a few thousand or less, the popular clout that the "Cedar Revolutionaries" have long boasted has shrunk deeply.

Figures in the opposition have acknowledged that Prime Minister Najib Mikati has performed admirably in office, forcing many international actors to recognize his government despite the attempts by the opposition to portray it as being subservient to Hizbullah and Iran.

March 14 has realized that it has made many mistakes that cannot be mended at this stage. One of the most salient reasons that propelled this political alliance towards blundering in this fashion, lies in its debilitating financial crisis. For one thing, this meant that the movement could no longer supply its political pawns and allies with the financial equivalent of "performance enhancers."
The leader of the Future Movement became preoccupied in his exile with the affairs of his inheritance, and his camp fell into a vicious cycle of internal crises. The stench of differences reeked from the March 14 camp, which calibrated all its moves to the pace of the conflict in Syria.
Impact of the Assassination of Wissam al-Hassan
Ironically, the assassinations and assassination attempts against figures in the opposition provided the group opportunities to regroup and regain some lost sympathy. This started with the attempt on the life of Samir Geagea, the head of the Lebanese Forces, then with the attempt against MP Boutros Harb, until the unthinkable happened, when top security figure Maj. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, was assassinated.

After Hassan's assassination, March 14 thought that it had regained control and its ability to direct strikes as it pleased. But the reality was quite different, and the assassination of Hassan soon proved to be a fatal blow that took the political alliance out of the game.
The attempt to exploit Hassan's assassination as a shortcut to returning to power also proved to be March 14's biggest blunder yet. The reckless bid to storm the Grand Serail, or government headquarters, quickly squandered all solidarity that the Future Movement had managed to win.
Instead of seeking to rectify its mistakes, the March 14 camp unleashed armed militants affiliated with the Future Movement in several areas of Beirut. This cost the movement a lot of political capital, and alarm bells sounded among its allies.

The attempt to exploit Hassan's assassination as a shortcut to returning to power also proved to be March 14's biggest blunder yet.

At the time, many prominent figures in March 14 acknowledged the events' negative impact on the image of the peaceful uprising that followed the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The context of both internal and external events left the opposition with only one option: to pursue a "boycott" of any dialogue with the government and parliamentary committee sessions.

Despite the inflexibility shown by the opposition in pursuing the boycott, many MPs admit that this decision was made "out of spite."
Salafis and March 14
It seems that there is a political curse afflicting the March 14 alliance. To be sure, the emergence of extremist leaders such as Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir in Saida and the militant groups in Tripoli has embarrassed the opposition, which is otherwise keen on maintaining an image of moderation.

In the end, the constituents of March 14 saw no way out of this embarrassment other than to defend those extremists while pinning the blame on the faction in power.
Some members of March 14 then turned their gazes to Syria. Here, the alliance was split into two camps, one that supports the Syrian revolution politically, with speeches and statements; and the other that has become engaged in the "jihadi" game. The Future Movement's involvement in Syria is no longer a secret, as it has been disclosed by Saad Hariri himself, who said that what he has undertaken "a humanitarian duty towards the Syrian people."
However, Hariri's involvement in Syria was not welcome news to many of his allies, who insist on the importance of adopting a neutral stance. Hariri's involvement, through one of his most important deputies, MP Okab Sakr, in arming Syrian opposition groups is perhaps one of the biggest losses suffered by the March 14 alliance.
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Friday, 28 December 2012

Iraq’s First Lady in Contact with the Mossad

Leila Mazboudi

Iraqi President Jalal Talbani and Mrs. Hero Talbani
Mrs. Hero Ibrahim Ahmad, Iraq’s first lady, and the candidate to succeed her husband, President Jalal Talibani, in case he dies, maintains close relationships with the Israeli Mossad.

This disclosure is attributed to the grand Iraqi poet, Saadi Yusuf, the very close acquaintance of her father, the well-known Iraqi-Kurdish man of politics and letters, Ibrahim Ahmad.

On the one hand, the latter is one of the founders of the Kurdish Democratic Party, and on the other, he was the pioneer in writing novels in Kurdish literature.
According to Yusuf, Hero, who was very excited for the American occupation of Iraq, has very close relationships with the Israeli Mossad, and knows in person the Chief of Kadima Party, and the former Mossad agent, Tsipi Livni, whom she had met on several occasions and in different capitals all over the world.

This information may very well be taken seriously. And it seems that this woman, who owns a group of Iraqi media outlets, never regrets to initiate good relationships with pro-Israeli Zionist milieu in the West.

In June 2008, she went to Simon Wiesenthal, the main center for supporting Israel in Los Angelos, the United States. According to the Jewish Journal website, the only side admitted to cover the event, the Iraqi first lady visited the multimedia Museum of Tolerance, which examines issues of racism and anti-Semitism in the United States and all over the world.

In response to the journal’s correspondent question whether the Iraqi government did approve her visit, Mrs. Talibani answered: “I don’t ask anybody’s permission. I go wherever I want.”

زوجة طالباني ترحب الحاخام الصهيوني كوبر Before this visit, she invited to dinner at her home in Suleimaniyyah, North of Iraq, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Assistant Dean of the Wiesenthal Center, and Geft Liebe, the Director of the museum, besides inviting them to the commemoration of the death of 5000 Kurds killed in the Halabja Massacre, committed by the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

According to Syria Truth website, since her husband was hospitalized, Mrs. Talibani is competing for his succession with Bourhom Saleh, the Kurdish National Union Party’s vice-president, and she has a big chance in winning regarding her experience in the political life, as well as the decisive role she played in founding the Party.


Noteworthy that Tzipi Livni has recently admitted in an interview with a British newspaper that she was working with "Mossad" and was having sex to entrap Arab "victims".

A Jewish rabbi told her it is permissible to have sex with "strangers" and "adultery" if it is in the interests of the "Jewish people", even though adultery is considered one of the ten taboos in the Talmudic law

شاعر عراقي يكشف عن علاقة "عريقة" لزوجة طالباني بالصهيونية
محرر الموقع
كشف الشاعر العراقي الكبير سعدي يوسف عن أن السيدة العراقية الأولى "هيرو ابراهيم"، زوجة الرئيس جلال الطالباني، على علاقة بجهاز "الموساد" الإسرائيلي. وجاء حديث يوسف على خلفية ما يتردد في وسائل الإعلام العراقية وغيرها عن أن هيرو ابراهيم هي المرشحة الأقوى لخلافة زوجها ، الرئيس جلال الطالباني، على كرسي الرئاسة العراقية، بالتنافس مع رئيس وزراء إقليم كردستان العراق برهم صالح.

وقال يوسف ، المقيم في لندن، إن هيرو "هي ابنة الأديب والسياسيّ ابراهيم أحمد ، الذي "تشرّفتُ بمعرفته شخصاً كريماً ، ورائداً للقصة القصيرة الكرديّة. في احتلال العراق كانت هيرو الأشدّ حماسةً . هبطتْ من دبّابةٍ أميركية واحتلّتْ مبنى الإذاعة والتلفزيون ببغداد.هي على علاقة وطيدة بالموساد الإسرائيلي ، وصديقة حميمة لتسيبي ليفني الشهيرة ، وحضرت معها لقاءات خاصّة وعامّة في أكثر من عاصمة". وأضاف " إن كان العراق جمهورية إسلامية كما يدّعي حزب الدعوة الحاكم فلا ولاية لذمّيّ أو امرأة في الإسلام .وإن كان العراق في حالة حرب رسمية مع إسرائيل فلا يصِحّ أن تكون هيرو ، صديقة ليفني ، على رأس البلد".

وكان حزب الاتحاد الوطني الكردستاني كشف السبت الماضي 22.12.2012 عن المنافسة على منصب رئاسة الجمهورية بين برهم صالح والسيدة هيرو خان ابراهيم، مبينا أن الأخيرة هي الأوفر حظا .ًوقال رئيس مكتب الحزب الوطني الكردستاني في ديالى دلير حسن إن هناك منافسة بين السيدة هيرو خان ابراهيم زوجة رئيس الجمهورية ورئيس الحزب جلال طالباني ، وبين نائب رئيس الحزب برهم صالح على تولي رئاسة جمهورية العراق في حال وافت طالباني المنية.وأضاف أن حظوظ خان تعد الأوفر لأن لها ميولا وقبولا من قبل اعضاء حزب الاتحاد الوطني الكردستاني والشعب الكردي لما تمتلكه من خبرة كبيرة وباع طويل في السياسة، فضلا عن أنها لها دور كبير في تاسيس الحزب. وأشار إلى أن الشعب الكردي واعضاء الحزب يرون ان المصلحة العامة للشعب العراقي تقتضي بأن يتم ترشيح هيرو للمنصب خلفا لزوجها.

زيارات متبادلة !!..

وتناقلت مواقع الكترونية عديدة، ومنها موقع شبكة البصرة، أن السيدة (هيرو أبراهيم أحمد) زوجة جلال طالباني زارت مركزا يهوديا، في الولايات المتحدة في ولاية لوس انجلوس في العام 2008، معني "بالدفاع عن حقوق الانسان اليهودي" واسمه مركز "سيمون فينتال". وقد تجولت السيدة في أرجاء المركز، وزارت ما يسمى متحف "التسامح" فيه، وكانت ترافقها صحيفة ( ذي جويش جورنال )، والغريب في الجواب الذي نقل عن ( السيدة ) عندما وجهت الصحيفة لها أثناء الزيارة السؤال التالي: هل أن الزيارة تم اقرارها رسميا من قبل العراق ؟؟؟

وكان جواب السيدة : لا أطلب السماح من أحد، أنا أذهب حيث أشاء !!! ..

وكانت السيدة العراقية الأولى قبل هذه الزيارة قد دعت الحاخام الصهيوني ابراهام كوبر، وهو مساعد العميد في المركز الذي زارته في الولايات المتحدة، ودعت معه مدير المتحف "جفت ليب" للمشاركة في احتفالات إحياء مقتل 5 الاف كردي عراقي في مجرزة "حلبجة الشهيرة"، التي ارتكبها الرئيس العراقي الراحل صدام حسين. وكان لافتا في المناسبة أنها أشادت بـ"بطولة جنود الجيش الأميركي"، الذي حرر العراق من الطاغية.

يمكنك مراجعة موقع الشاعر العراقي سعدي يوسف..
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Map of arms smuggling from Lebanon to Syria .. Crossings and names

خريطة تهريب السلاح من لبنان الى سورية.. معابر وأسماء  

نضال حمادة
يستمر تدفق السلاح من لبنان الى سوريا بكميات كبيرة رغم الإجراءات التي قام بها الجيش اللبناني في الفترة السابقة والتي جعلت الجهات السياسية الإقليمية والمحلية القيمة على عمليات التهريب هذه تعيد تنظيم أوضاعها، وذلك بعد إقفال معبر الجورة في سهل القاع كليا في وجه عمليات تهريب السلاح والمسلحين عقب سيطرة الجيش السوري على بلدة جوسية منذ حوالي شهرين، وتوجيه ضربات قوية للمسلحين والمهربين الذين ينتمي غالبيتهم الى مدينة عرسال في البقاع الشمالي من لبنان.
إعادة هيكلة وتنظيم عمليات تهريب السلاح، اقتضت هذه المرة تعاونا فعالا ولوجيستيا من حزب القوات اللبنانية في منطقة دير الأحمر وجرودها الفاصلة بين الشمال والبقاع اللبناني.
وتحدد الجهات المختصة مصادر السلاح الذي يمر عبر لبنان الى سوريا من خارج لبنان وبالتحديد من إسرائيل بعد نفاد السلاح تقريبا في المخيمات الفلسطينية والتي كانت خلال المرحلة الماضية المصدر الأساس للسلاح المهرب الى الداخل السوري، فيما تم استبدال المصدر الفلسطيني للتسلح بسلاح مهرب مصدره إسرائيل هذه المرة، ويأتي السلاح الإسرائيلي منذ أسابيع عديدة ماراً بلبنان ليصل الى المسلحين المناهضين لنظام الرئيس بشار الأسد.
البحر هو الممر الدولي لشحنات الأسلحة الإسرائيلية والتي تحط إما في ميناء طرابلس أو على جزيرة الأرانب حيث يتم نقلها الى البر اللبناني عبر زوارق صغيرة، ومن ثم يتولى عناصر مقربون من حزب القوات اللبنانية نقل هذه الشحنات عبر سيارات الى بلدة دير الأحمر في البقاع الشمالي وهي نقطة وصل بين شمال البقاع وشمال لبنان عبر سلسلة لبنان الغربية.
من دير الأحمر يتولى أشخاص من مدينة عرسال نقل هذه الشحنات الى مناطق البقاع الشمالي المحاذية لسورية حيث تسلم لشبكة ثالثة تتولى عملية تسهيل مرور هذه الشحنات في البلدات والقرى الشيعية والمسيحية المحاذية لسلسة لبنان الشرقية وعبر هذه الجبال الى الداخل السوري وتحديدا الى دمشق حيث يتركز حاليا جهد المسلحين.
المراجع المختصة، تحدد شبكة دير الأحمر – السلسة الشرقية بعشرة أشخاص منهم (أ.أ) (خ .ح) (ط .ر) و(م .ح) الملقب دعد وهو على ما يبدو رئيسهم أو الأكثر نشاطا في هذا المجال ضمن هذه الشبكة.
عند وصول الشحنات الى القرى اللبنانية المحاذية للسلسة الشرقية الفاصلة بين لبنان وسوريا يتم توزيعها على عدة مناطق وقرى تستعمل كمعابر الى الداخل السوري:
معبر أول عن طريق عرسال.

معبر ثان عن طريق قرية النبي عثمان ويقوم بتأمين مرورها شخص أسمه (م .س. د) وهو على صلة قرابة مع خاطف الأستونيين حسين الحجيري الملقب (حلاق) وهذه البلدة تعتبر سكانيا مؤيدة للنظام في سوريا.

المعبر الثالث عبر بلدة رأس بعلبك في منطقة تدعى "تنية الراس".

المعبر الرابع يمر عبر مشاريع القاع عند سفوح السلسة الشرقية في منطقة تسمى "نعمات".

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Lavrov: Syrians Only Who Decide Syria’s Fate Russia Invites Syrian Opposition Chief for Talks

Local Editor
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed on Friday that the Syrians are the only side to determine the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.Russian FM Lavrov
"With all due respect to the international community, it is, of course, the Syrian people who must decide" Assad's fate, Lavrov told reporters when asked about his meeting Thursday with Syria's deputy foreign minister, Fayssal al-Mikdad.

The top diplomat made clear on Friday that Moscow's position on the Syrian crisis had not changed.
"The international community must not incite either side toward violence or pose preliminary conditions," Lavrov urged.

Meanwhile, he said Russia was pressing the Syrian leadership to talk to the opposition.

“We actively encouraged... the Syrian leadership to maximally put into action its declared readiness for dialogue with the opposition”.

Lavrov said Moscow also encouraged Assad's government "to underscore that they are open to discussing the widest range of items in line with the agreements reached in Geneva on June 30."
He said after his meeting with Mikdad that "the chances for such a solution... are diminishing."
Moscow on Saturday will host Brahimi in a new bid to save efforts at ending the ongoing turmoil.

Russia Invites Syrian Opposition Chief for Talks

Local Editor
Russia said it has sent invitation for talks to the head of the opposition group, Syria National Council.Russian Top Diplomat Bogdanov
Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said the talks with the SNC head Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib could take place in Moscow or a foreign location like Geneva or Cairo.

"The invitation has been handed over, it is in the hands of Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib," the top diplomat told the RIA Novosti news agency.

Russia has so far strongly criticized moves by Western and anti-Assad Arab states to recognize the National Coalition as legitimate representatives of the Syrian people since the group was formed after lengthy talks which lasted in the Qatari capital for four days last month due to the divisions among the opposition factions.

A Syrian deputy fSNC Cheif Moaz Khatiboreign minister visited Moscow on Thursday and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is to meet the international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi in the Russian capital on Saturday.

Bogdanov also said he expected there to be a new three-way meeting between Brahimi and US and Russian representatives on the Syrian crisis in January.

"We will hear what Lakhdar Brahimi says about the Syrian crisis and likely there will be a decision on a new 'triple B' meeting with Lakhdar Brahimi, (US Deputy Secretary of State) William Burns and Mikhail Bogdanov," he said.
"But this will be in January, after the (Russian New Year) holidays," Bogdanov added.

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