Archive | June 6th, 2011

Flash: what is happening in Yarmuk Camp near Damascus?



I have been receiving live updates from friends and comrades about the developments in Yarmuk Camp.  The latest is that the Syrian Army is surrounding the camp.  Some say that it all started when people protested outside the office of the PFLP-GC in the camp: some parents of murdered children and men (murdered by the fire of the terrorist Zionist regime in occupied Palestine) were protesting against the role of the PFLP-GC in the protests in Majdal Shams.

But an eyewitness at the protests told me that the Palestinian organizations were not present in the protests: that the Syrian regime did not want the Palestinian organizations to mobilize for fear of a big massive protests, although Syrian TV was present.  But some were not happy about the role of the PFLP-GC, and some indicated that some fighters at the office in Yarmuk fired at the protesters.  Apparently, that resulted in an armed clash and that gun fire can still be heard at this hour.

The Syrian Army is surrounding the camp but others are saying that the Army was called in for help by the PFLP-GC but that Army is not intervening to support the organization for some suspicious reasons. All seems murky at this hour.  The Syrian Army is busing killing Syrian people but may have time to kill some Palestinians too.

PS No matter what, the responsibility for yesterday’s terrorist crimes against civilian protesters should be squarely blamed on the terrorist Israeli army.  No question about that.

PSS Eyewitnesses in Syria complained to me about the role of the Syrian army and security forces.  How they stood idly by while the Israeli terrorist soldiers were committing their crimes.  The Syrian Army is very much like the cowardly Lebanese Army in that regard.  These are armies that are only heroic against civilians (in fairness to the Lebanese Army, it is also afraid of civilians).

Posted in Syria1 Comment

When Muslims eat cows it is called a “slaughter” but when Westerners eat cows it is called a “barbecue”



“and slaughtering cows to mark the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh for medical treatment”.

Protesters in Yemen Rejoice as Leader Goes to Saudi Arabia

Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Yemeni soldiers joined protesters in Sana on Sunday after President Ali Abdullah Saleh left the country for medical treatment.


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Thousands of antigovernment protesters celebrated in the streets of Yemen’s capital on Sunday, setting off fireworks and slaughtering cows to mark the departure of PresidentAli Abdullah Saleh for medical treatment, despite new uncertainty about when — and even whether — he would agree to a lasting transfer of power.

Yemeni tribesmen and antigovernment demonstrators waved the national flag and chanted slogans during celebrations in the city of Taiz on Sunday.

Mr. Saleh, who has been resisting calls to step down for months, left the country hurriedly on Saturday forSaudi Arabia, where he was operated on for wounds suffered in a deadly attack on his presidential compound the day before. But on Sunday, aides insisted that he was recovering well and could return home in weeks, if not days.

“He is awake and he is conscious; he is in charge,” said a close adviser who was with him during Friday’s attack, likely by a mortar shell or rocket, and is being treated at the same military hospital in Riyadh.

Mr. Saleh and his advisers are adept political players, and it is possible that they are simply posturing to win the best deal from foreign patrons and Yemenis who are trying to ease him out after 33 years of autocratic rule. But the officials’ contention that Mr. Saleh would return to power is also a testament to the difficulties Saudi and American officials face in trying to resolve the standoff before Yemen’s always poisonous politics tip the country into broader conflict, a grim prospect for its northern neighbor and the United States. Yemen is already home to an active branch of Al Qaeda that has tried to carry out terrorist attacks on the United States and that seeks to overthrow the Saudi monarchy.

On Sunday, Obama administration officials said that the United States was pressing Mr. Saleh and his allies to accept a deal recently negotiated by Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, that would allow him to leave power in exchange for immunity. Several officials hinted that the United States might be willing to throw in financial incentives to induce Mr. Saleh to relinquish the presidency for good.

Some analysts said Saudi Arabia’s leadership would not allow Mr. Saleh to return to power after months of frustrating efforts to cajole him to step down amid growing instability. And on Sunday, Western diplomats and Arab experts said they expected that Saudi and American officials were maneuvering behind the scenes to win agreement for a transition plan in Yemen before Mr. Saleh could return home to undermine their efforts.

But there is one wild card in those calculations: many Saudis have long supported Mr. Saleh because of his skill in suppressing dissent, and it was unclear if they were prepared to unseat him so abruptly. The original transition plan built in some time before he had to leave office to allow for an orderly succession.

“They’re really in the eye of the hurricane, and it’s very hard to predict where events will go now,” said Charles Schmitz, a Yemen specialist at Towson University in Baltimore.

There were worrisome signs on Sunday that Yemen’s turmoil was far from over. Although a cease-fire to end fierce fighting in the capital between government forces and tribal rivals working with the opposition was mainly holding, mortar fire could still be heard in at least one neighborhood. And although a Yemeni official said some family members left Sana, the capital, with Mr. Saleh on Saturday, several sons and nephews who control the powerful military and intelligence services remained behind.

Vice President Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi has taken over as temporary leader, but analysts say he may have trouble maintaining control, especially if some factions see the president’s absence as a chance to finally dislodge him and his family. Many of Mr. Saleh’s enemies are well-armed, including a general who recently defected with many of his troops in sympathy with the pro-democracy protesters.

Saudi leaders, who have long meddled in Yemeni politics, were largely quiet on Sunday about their efforts to enable political change in Yemen. The silence was a possible indication of the bad choices they were left with when the attack on Mr. Saleh’s compound instantly reshaped a leadership debate that had been raging for months as massive street protests whittled away at the president’s standing.

While the Saudis — who are dedicated to enforcing stability in the region — have told Mr. Saleh he should go, the sudden change made it more difficult to structure an orderly handover of power and eventual elections.

Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Yemeni vice president, Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi, right, met with the American ambassador, Gerald M. Feierstein, left, on Sunday. News reports said that Mr. al-Hadi became acting president.


Abdullah Hamidaddin, a political scientist, said Saudi Arabia had wanted Mr. Saleh to leave office because its leaders thought that would bring “less bloodshed, less unpredictability.” But, he said, “they wanted it in a way that does not create a power vacuum and an unpredictable future.”

Mr. Saleh’s troubles started in January when revolts in Tunisia and Egypt ousted longtime dictators and inspired pro-democracy protesters in Yemen. The turmoil got markedly worse in recent weeks when the Ahmar family, the tribal rivals who helped bankroll the demonstrations, engaged in street battles with government forces — turning parts of Sana into virtual war zones.

Mr. Saleh blamed the Ahmars and their militia for the attack on his compound, but the Ahmars denied involvement.

On Sunday, Yemeni officials did not want to go into details about Mr. Saleh’s wounds. But Arab news reports quoted Saudi medical officials as saying he had had two operations to remove pieces of wood after an explosion at the presidential compound.

Some analysts and diplomats were optimistic on Sunday that the latest Yemeni crisis would be resolved peacefully.

They said that although the Saudi-brokered cease-fire in the capital had not held perfectly, the relative calm was an indication that both sides saw that neither had a clear advantage.

Still, the many rivals for power in Yemen have venomous relations that had been held in check only with Saudi influence and Mr. Saleh’s adroit political maneuvering, which included pitting tribes against one another when convenient.

The rivalries include one between Mr. Saleh’s eldest son, Ahmed, who leads the powerful Republican Guard, and Ali Mohsin al-Ahmar, the general who recently defected. (The general is not related to the Ahmars who have been fighting the government.)

But protesters in Sana seemed oblivious on Sunday to the intrigue that could derail their hopes for democratic change. In a part of the city they have named Change Square, some families brought their children to see what one called “the party of Saleh’s departure.”

A particularly hopeful chant echoed one popular in Egypt’s successful revolution. “The people, at last, defeated the regime,” the protesters yelled.


Posted in Saudi Arabia, YemenComments Off on When Muslims eat cows it is called a “slaughter” but when Westerners eat cows it is called a “barbecue”

IsraHell kills civilians and Isabel Kershner justifies–as usual, of course. Notice how Palestinian non-violence becomes attacks



I never ever accepted or believed Western liberal calls for Palestinians to resort to non-violence.  I knew that those calls aim only at the total surrender of Palestinians.  I also know that the Palestinians (foolishly if you ask me) resorted to non-violent struggle against Israel from 1948 to mid-1960s.  During that period, according to right-wing Israeli historian Benny Morris in his book Righteous Victims, Israeli terrorists managed to kill thousands of Palestinians at the border area–many were just wanting to check on their lands and farms and homes.  So look how the West reacts to Palestinian non-violence, and notice how they manage to make Palestinian non-violence violent, while they make Israeli violence/terrorism as non-violence.  Look carefully at the language of the New York Times.

First, note the headline (in the hard copy of the paper but not the on-line version: it talks about protests “draw” Israeli fire.  So the blame for violence is non-violence. That is the cause and effect for New York Times.  So if Isabel Kershner or her Zionist bosses were reporting on the holocaust, she would have said: “Jewish communities draw concentration camps.”  Now the civilian protesters yesterday were clearly non-violent, so how do you make them violent? You insert verbs of violence to the story.  Look at this:  “and tried to attack the border fence.”  So they tried to attack a fence.  Can you imagine the outrage if in the West, protesters who were trying to “attack” a…wall, were shot at with live ammunition?

That is not it.  In the opening paragraph, the story talks about “deadly confrontations”.   And notice how Israeli propagandists are permitted to dispute casualty figures without any evidence or basis:  “By nightfall, the Syrian news agency SANA reported that 22 protesters had been killed and more than 350 had been wounded. Israeli officials said that they had no information on casualties but suggested that the Syrian figures were exaggerated.”    In another section of this most journalistically laughable story, it refers to non-violent protests as “assaults,” as in:  “The protest, on the anniversary of the start of the 1967 Middle East war, followed a larger, coordinated assault by demonstrators three weeks ago on four fronts…”    And when you know, as Isabel Kershner must know, that her propaganda efforts are so blatant and her language and the language of her bosses are so laughable, they basically resort to what the New York Times does on those occasions: they either have someone lie for Israel (just as in a story on the first border protest cited the account of a a Syrian in Washington, DC, who is quoted in every story on Syria in the New York Times, when he claimed that he saw buses loading protesters), or they themselves lie for Israel.

Look at this section:  “Still, the protesters said they counted the day a success because they drew Israeli fire on unarmed demonstrators.”  When, O Isabel Kershner, did the protesters say that they counted their dead and injured as “success”??? And when did those protesters say that they “drew” Israeli fire??? Did you just make that up, or did you editing boss for Zionism make it up??   And finally, notice that the story quoted so many Israelis and yet quoted one Palestinian protesters who talked about a master “plan.” I won’t be surprised if this unknown guy is linked in a later story to Hitler’s Final Solution, and if a picture is produced for this 25-year old shaking hands with Himmler.  Are you kidding? With the New York Times, all sorts of lies are to be expected on Arab-Israeli issues.   It is to be trusted as much as one trusted Goebbels’ Der Angriff on Jewish matters.

by As’ad AbuKhalil

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on IsraHell kills civilians and Isabel Kershner justifies–as usual, of course. Notice how Palestinian non-violence becomes attacks

Palestinian Girl, 13, Detained During Visit To Her Detained Father



A 13 year old Palestinian girl has been detained during a visit to her father in a Zio-Nazi prison in the Negev Nazi detention camp.



The girl, Samah Majdi Musallam, was visiting her father who is serving a 13 year statement.

Zio-Nazi  guards at the prison accused her of trying to pass contraband to her father. The girl will be tried at a court in Beersheba in Southern occupied Palestine.

The PA Minister for Detainees, discussing the incident, has said that often family visits to Palestinian prisoners become opportunities for punishment and humiliation practices by Nazi soldiers and Nazi prison guards.

Posted in Human RightsComments Off on Palestinian Girl, 13, Detained During Visit To Her Detained Father

Bahrain Grand Prix staff are held and abused, still Grand Prix says race must go on




and other news from the Arab uprisings:

Bahraini doctors and nurses charged
Medical staff who treated protesters accused of plotting to overthrow kingdom’s monarchy amid reports of more violence.

Bahrain medics accused of treason
Dozens of doctors and nurses who treated injured anti-government protesters during the months of unrest in Bahrain have gone on trial accused of trying to overthrow the monarchy.

Bahrain police clash with Shi’ite religious marchers (Reuters)
Reuters – Bahraini police clashed with Shi’ite marchers in a religious festival late on Sunday, less than a week after the Gulf kingdom repealed an emergency law that quashed weeks of protests.*

Bahrain police open fire at protesters in capital (AP)
AP – Bahraini police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters marching toward the landmark Pearl Square in the country’s capital Friday, two days after authorities lifted emergency rule.*

Bahrain police disperse Shiite-led march: activist (AFP)
AFP – Bahraini police dispersed a small group of Shiites who marched Friday towards Pearl Square, focal point of protests which the regime demolished during a crackdown on protesters in mid-March, activists said.*

Bahrain crown prince to visit Washington
Bahrain’s crown prince will arrive in Washington next week for an official visit as his country seeks to return to normalcy following the lifting of the emergency law earlier this week. Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa will meet with President Barack Obama and other senior U.S. officials, according to three sources with knowledge of the visit. The crown prince is perceived to be one of the more liberal figures in the ruling regime, and he supports granting opposition groups a greater say in how the country is governed.

Al Jalabi calls on Saudi Forces to withdraw from Bahrain
Head of Iraq’s National Congress Party Ahmad Al Jalabi called on Saudi Forces to withdraw from Bahrain. Al Jalabi urged the Bahraini government to resolve the crisis peacefully, stop the killing and release detainees.

Bahrainis hold female activist funeral
Bahraini protesters have held the funeral of a female activist ahead of the nation’s planned massive anti-government rallies on Friday. The body of Zainab Al-Tajar was buried in the populous area of Sanabis, near the capital city of Manama on Friday morning, the Financial Times reported.

‘Bahrain fires staff on protest suspicion’
The Bahraini regime has dismissed hundreds of professionals over suspicions of their participation in anti-government protests in the Persian Gulf country. The government has accused many people working at state-run companies and organizations of leaving work to join protests and fired them from their jobs, local activists told Reuters.

‘At around 7pm he was told to strip naked and was again beaten severely’
This is the account of one Shia member of staff at the Bahrain International Circuit, which hosts the Grand Prix, who was arrested in April. Still suffering from injuries inflicted by his interrogators, he has now left the country. He wishes to remain anonymous and is referred to as AB throughout:

Webber at odds with Bahrain decision (AFP)
AFP – Australian Red Bull driver Mark Webber said Saturday he was deeply uncomfortable with the decision to reinstate the Bahrain Grand Prix into the 2011 world championship calendar and forecast the decision could yet founder.*

Protests simmer as Bahrain wins back Formula One (Reuters)
Reuters – Bahrain scored a public relations coup on Friday by winning back its Formula One Grand Prix, canceled earlier this year after pro-democracy protests erupted in the Gulf Arab island kingdom.*

Bahrain lobbies to retain Grand Prix as Formula One staff are held and abused
Formula One is expected to rule today on Bahrain’s attempt to stage a coveted Grand Prix this season despite police arresting and abusing one quarter of the local staff during a crackdown against pro-democracy protests

Patrick Cockburn: Only winners from brutal repression of Shia majority will be Saudi Arabia
How to explain the ferocity of the Bahraini al-Khalifa royal family’s assault on the majority of its own people? Despite an end to martial law, the security forces show no signs of ceasing to beat detainees to the point of death, threaten schoolgirls with rape and force women to drink bottles of urine. The systematic use of torture in Bahrain has all the demented savagery of the European witch trials in the 16th and 17th centuries. In both cases, interrogators wanted to give substance to imagined conspiracies by extracting forced confessions. In Europe, innocent women were forced to confess to witchcraft, while in Bahrain the aim of the torturers is to get their victims to admit to seeking to overthrow the government. Often they are accused of having treasonous links with Iran, something for which the New York-based Human Rights Watch says there is “zero evidence”.

Nazeeha Saeed’s Ordeal, PATRICK COCKBURN
Bahrain is seeking to stage the Formula One motor race, whose organizers meet today in Barcelona to decide where it will take place, despite police arresting and abusing a quarter of the local staff of the event. The race was postponed in February because of pro-democracy protests and the government is eager to have it rescheduled in Bahrain later this year to show that life in the island kingdom is returning to normal.

Continuing Bahraini State Terror, Steve Lendman
For months, Bahraini and Saudi security forces targeted nonviolent protesters and activists wanting the repressive Al Khalifa monarchy replaced by constitutionally elected government, political freedom, and social justice, what Bahrainis never had and don’t now.

Khaled Said : One Year searching for lost right leads to a revolution
Today is the anniversary of Khaled Said’s murder , on that day after noon he was stalked by these two detective and was beaten to death by them in the street. After couple of days we began to hear his story from Alexandria from Dr. Ayman Nour in his column in Dostor then after few days we saw the shocking pictures of Khaled. On 10/6/ I wrote the first chronicle about Khaled Said’s case chronicles after hesitation of publishing his photos. Today Khaled’s mom Mrs. Laila visited his tomb in the morning in Alexandria. I can’t hold my tears when I see this lady or any martyr’s mom now.

Remembering Khaled Said’s murder
Next Monday 6th of June 2011 will mark the first anniversary of Khaled Said’s murder , it is the first anniversary after one year , a very special year that did not change the course of history in Egypt but rather the course of history in the Middle East. What began as a simple silent stand at the Alexandrian famous corniche attracting for the first time the silent middle class of Egypt ended by a remarkable revolution. Now next Monday 6th of June 2011 The “We are all Khaled Said” page is calling for a silent stand across the country to mark the anniversary of Khaled Said at 5 PM for one hour. Of course after the three alleged torture incidents ended with Yesterday Azbakia driver activists decided to have a stand in front of the ministry of interior itself at the same time. The stand has a list of demands like having a judicial supervision on police stations and the new national security agency and prosecuting all the officers responsible for torture cases in Egypt.

Egypt sentences former finance minister
Youssef Boutros-Ghali, tried in absentia, is ordered to serve 30 years in jail and pay over $5m.

Egypt’s interior minister denies giving Mubarak special treatment
Interior Minister El-Eissawi denies that Egypt’s interim ‎government is dragging its feet to transfer ousted president Hosni Mubarak to Tora Prison.

Three judges in Egypt investigated after publicly criticizing the military
The country’s justice ministry is investigating three judges who spoke out against the military trials of civilians in Egypt. The judges publicly criticized transferring civilians to criminal courts, al-Ahram newspaper reported.

Fury over advert claiming Egypt revolution as Vodafone’s
Video scorned because phone company obeyed Mubarak’s order to shut down network during protests

Egypt military quizzes reporters over Islamist deal story
CAIRO (AFP) – Military prosecutors questioned a newspaper editor and a journalist on Friday over a report alleging Egypt’s military would back an Islamist group in elections, a source said.

Independents contact Egypt to contain Rafah crisis
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A coalition of independent figures are holding talks with Egypt to overcome obstacles preventing Palestinians from crossing at the Rafah terminal between Egypt and Gaza. The group is asking people to be patient while the Egyptian side resumes operations via the crossing as planned, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout the week excluding Fridays and holidays.

Egypt’s Tantawi, Barak discuss Shalit deal
Defense minister’s talk with Egypt’s military leader suggests progress in prisoner swap deal that aims to free captive soldier.,7340,L-4078625,00.html

Trial to strip Gamal Mubarak and Elbaradei of Egyptian nationality delayed
The trial for the petition to drop Gamal Mubarak and presidential hopeful, ElBaradei’s Egyptian citizenship (therefore excluding them from running for president) has been postponed to 19 June

Poll: Egypt optimistic but worried about jobs
Two new surveys find Egyptians optimistic about their political future but worried about the economy and crime.

Future of Arab uprisings
The future of Arab uprisings hinges on what happens in Egypt.  If Egyptian rebels push forward against the Military Council they will surely inspire half uprisings or quarter uprisings to progress.  As things stand now, it does not look pretty as the Saudi-Qatari Counter-revolutionary council mange the Yemeni and Libyan uprising, and Saudi Arabia seems to have purchased Tantawi’s lousy junta.

Saudi Arabia and Egyptian laborers
Egyptian newspapers reported last week that Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Manpower Adel Fakieh told a gathering of businessmen at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce that his country would not renew work permits for foreign laborers who have been in Saudi Arabia for more than six years. The statement immediately raised concerns in official Egyptian circles over the potential negative impact of such a decision. According to the chairman of the union of companies employing Egyptian workers abroad, 2.5 million Egyptians work Saudi Arabia, 70 percent of whom have been working there for over six years. In other words, about 1.5 million workers could be threatened with expulsion, thus increasing the unemployment rate in Egypt.

Iraqi activist: PM paints protesters as terrorists (AP)
AP – A leading Iraqi human rights organizer who confronted the prime minister on national TV says he is trying to paint legitimate protesters as terrorists.*

Baghdad residents demonstrate in Tahrir Square
Tens of Baghdad residents demonstrated in Al Tahrir Square on Friday calling for comprehensive reforms in Iraq and to improve services in the country. Protesters urged to free 4 people who were arrested last Friday.

Jordan protesters step up calls for PM to resign
About 3,000 people take to the streets in seven cities across Jordan; pro-reform activists say PM has taken a lenient approach toward corruption and is not serious about political reform.

Kuwait protesters demand PM’s removal
Thousands rally in Gulf state seeking dismissal of government, parliament’s dissolution and snap polls.

NATO helicopters join Libya mission
French and British helicopters attack targets around Port Brega, the first use of such aircraft in the NATO campaign. Rebel leaders hail the move, but it is unclear whether it will signal a new rebel offensive. French and British attack helicopters hit targets in Libya in the first use of such aircraft as part of the NATO-led campaign against the government of Moammar Kadafi, authorities said Saturday.,0,7892930.story

Muammar Gaddafi’s Troops Hit By British, French Airstrikes In Libya
BENGHAZI, Libya — British Apache and French attack helicopters struck targets for the first time in NATO’s campaign in Libya, hitting Moammar Gadhafi’s troops early Saturday near a key coastal oil town, the alliance said. Hours later, at least eight airstrikes were heard in Tripoli. The action was a significant step-up in NATO’s operations and a major boost to Libyan rebels, just a day after rebel fighters forced government troops from three western towns and broke the siege of a fourth in yet another erosion of Gadhafi’s power since the eruption in mid-February of the uprising to end his 42-year rule.

Tunisia finds 150 bodies from refugee vessels
The bodies of 150 African refugees fleeing turmoil in Libya have been recovered off the Tunisian coast after the vessels carrying them illegally to Europe got into difficulty, a U.N. official said Friday.

Qatar deportation of Eman al-Obeidi violates international law
Al-Obeidi, who publically accused Libyan soldiers of rape, has been deported to eastern Libya against her will.

Libyan ‘rape victim’ heads to US
Libyan Eman al-Obeidi, who said she was raped by Col Gaddafi’s supporters, has left eastern Libya for the US, according to her sister.

Iman al-Obeidi, Libya Woman Claiming Rape, Deported BackTo Libya
BENGHAZI — A U.N. official says a Libyan woman who claims she was gang-raped by Moammar Gadhafi’s troops has been deported from Qatar, where she sought refuge. Sybella Wilkes, spokeswoman for the United Nations’ refugee organization, says Iman al-Obeidi is now in Benghazi. Wilkes said Thursday that al-Obeidi was a recognized refugee and that there wasn’t any “good reason” why she was deported from Doha, where she sought refuge last month. Al-Obeidi made headlines in March when she rushed distraught into Tripoli’s Rixos Hotel, seeking to speak to foreign reporters. She claimed she was detained by a number of Gadhafi troops at a Tripoli checkpoint and raped. As she told her story, al-Obeidi was tackled by government minders and dragged from the hotel.

NATO jets target Libyan capital
Raids on army vehicles and ammunition depots in Tripoli follow announcement of extension of alliance’s Libyan mission.

NATO renews airstrikes after extending Libya mission by three months
NATO’s extension of its intervention in Libya comes amid a slew of defections from Tripoli. Can Qaddafi hang on?

Thousands missing in Libya
In Misrata, pro-Gaddafi soldiers have fought with opposition forces for over two months. Estimates suggest they also abducted more than twelve hundred people during their occupation. Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley reports.

Libyan revolutionaries deny Israeli relations talks
The National Transitional Council, the political body leading the Libyan revolution, denied claims that if in power, it would seek diplomatic ties with Israel.

The Libyan Transitional Council and Israel
I detest the Libyan Transitional Council but I detest even more Bernard-Henri Lévy, and find him to be fabricator of the first order.  Regarding claims he has made about a message from the lousy Libyan Transitional Council to Israel, I was skeptical.  Sure enough the Libyan council said this:  “The vice-chairman of the Libyan opposition National Transition Council (NTC), Mr Abdelhafid Roka, has denied in a statement to Echorouk the persisting rumours alleging that the NTC is envisaging to establish relations with Israel in the future.  “I firmly deny as baseless the recent declaration made to this effect by French writer and philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy on behalf of the Libyan national transition council”, Roka asserted.   He stressed that the NTC had never asked Henri Levy to convey any message of this sort to the Zionist entity leaders as alleged by the troublesome French writer and philosopher… Abdelhafid Roka further underlined that such groundless assertions were being propagated by the despotic Kadhafi regime and its henchmen with the glaring aim of tarnishing the image of the national transition council in the eyes of the fervent supporters of the legitimate Palestinian cause in the Arab world and elsewhere.”

Libya Rebels Going Broke Despite Pile Of Gold
BENGHAZI, Libya — Abdalgader Albagrmi’s office sits above a vault piled high with gold. It’s the dwindling pile of cash next to the bullion, however, that keeps the Libyan rebels’ deputy Central Bank chief up at night. As that pile shrinks, so too does the chance of funding and sustaining a revolution to oust one of the world’s longest-serving dictators.

Moroccans hold peaceful protest despite government ban
RABAT — Hundreds of young Moroccans on Sunday flouted a government ban and held a peaceful pro-democracy rally in Rabat as authorities promised not to crack down on protesters, officials and demonstrators said.

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia’s Women2Drive campaign is up against society
Manal al-Sharif’s protest over women’s right to drive leaves her open to smears and mud slinging. The issue must be politicised. Manal al-Sharif, the woman who attracted global attention to the Saudi Women2Drive campaign when she posted videos of herself driving on YouTube, was released earlier this week from Dammam prison.

Madawi Al-Rasheed, ed., “Kingdom without Borders: Saudi Arabia’s Political, Religious, and Media Frontiers”
Saudi Arabia realised the importance of the media — first in print, and later in images — for its expansionist projects. From the early Arab and English monographs commissioned and written in the 1930s and 1940s to establish the historical and contemporary credentials of the state, to the recent media empires of the 1980s, vast sums of money were invested in promoting the country’s image and agenda. Investing oil wealth in appropriating the Arab media and intellectual public spheres to ensure publicity, silence criticism and co-opt dissenting voices led to what is often referred to as ‘petrodollar’ media’. From Cairo to Beirut and later London and Washington, Saudi-owned media sold to Arab audiences stories, interpretations and commentaries whose main objective was to denounce rivals, promote allies and generate consensus over Saudi expansion in distant locales. Saudi overseas media brought money, politics and religion in a unified chorus, whose drums echoed among Arab immigrants in the suburbs of London, Paris and Washington, as well as in the cities of the Middle East, Africa and Asia. . . .

How dumb is it to expect Hillary Clinton to take up the cause of Saudi women? How dumb?
“Saudi activists have written an open letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a champion of women’s rights around the world, urging her to publicly press Saudi Arabia to let women drive.”

Syrian security forces ‘shoot 31 people dead’
Syrian security forces have shot dead 31 people since Friday during demonstrations in a town in the north-west, residents say.

Syrian troops ‘kill 13 civilians’
Syrian forces killed at least 13 civilians in the central town of Rastan yesterday, activists said, in the latest attempt to quell a revolt against the 11-year rule of the President Bashar al-Assad.

SYRIA: Big cities remain ambivalent as regime brutality takes its toll
While the regime of President Bashar Assad has cracked down on smaller cities in Syria, residents of the nation’s large cities, including Aleppo and the capital Damascus, seem ambivalent about staging mass protests.

Syria Internet Cut Off In Some Regions As Central Town Pounded
BEIRUT — A Syrian rights group says security forces opened fire during one of the largest anti-government protests so far in the 10-week revolt, killing at least eight people. Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says tens of thousands of people were protesting in Hama when security forces opened fire.

Syrian activists protest in Turkey
Syrian opposition activists raise the flag of independence in the Turkish city of Antalya in this video clip taken by Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Vall. The protest came as a group of opposition leaders held a conference in the city to forge a plan on supporting the uprising.

breaking news on Syrian regime TV
Syrian regime TV has this breaking news flash:  “Armed people block the roads in Nazihin quarter in Homs and set government buildings on fire, and attack the people.”  On the one hand, “life is normal”–they keep reporting, and then they air such breaking news stories.  The regime is undermining its own sources of ostensible legitimacy: that it alone can protect the people. But they are now admitted they can no more protect the people.

Lies of the Syrian regime
Now there is no question, that AlJazeera has now become nothing less than a full propaganda voice for NATO and the Arab counter-revolution.  Its reports are more sermons and preachments and calls for mobilization than standard journalism which the network was known for.  Having said that, Syrian regime TV is even worse.  The Syrian regime has become more imaginative in weaving lies and fabrications and theatrics.  It is like reading a fiction story.  They shoot at demonstrators in Hamah and then they have a “breaking news” flash in which they talk about a mysterious armed group which suddenly shows up at a time of demonstration and then start shooting at both demonstrators and police force members (they are always “police” in Syrian regime TV broadcast as Syria does not have a brutal mukhabarat force, according to the regime).  They talk to people in different parts of the country affirming that “life is normal” everywhere.  But how do they square their claims of “life is normal” with their own reports of a roving “criminal gang” moving around the country and shooting at people?  They need to synchronize their lies, for potato’s sake.

As’ad AbuKhalil, “Muslim Brotherhood and US Representatives at Syrian Opposition Conference in Antalya, Turkey”
The Muslim Brotherhood ran the conference in Antalya and the statement that spoke about the “civil state” is not going to fool me because US representatives in Antalya (yes they were there) pressed for an inclusive statement. This is exactly what the US tried to do in conferences by the Iraqi exile opposition before the Ayatullah Sistani republic was set up in Iraq.

The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony and the Burial of the Martyrs: Syrian Dances in the Arab Spring
[August 10th, 2009] Bosra is on fire. Red lights shine through the night in the ancient Roman amphitheatre. The smoke pours onto the stage, where the famous pop singer, Ali al-Deek, and his orchestra have set the audience and the stage on metaphorical fire. Everyone is dancing: old men in traditional attire, women with children in their hands, with or without hijab on their hair, young men and women in groups, people in the front rows, at the back, on the stairs, officials, guests and dignitaries along with ordinary, village people. The impressive Roman theatre of Bosra, one of the world’s best preserved, located in the municipality of Dar’a, is filled beyond its fifteen hundred capacity.

Yemen: States Should Freeze Officials’ Assets
(Tunis) – The Yemeni government’s escalating violence against largely peaceful protesters and medical workers should prompt countries around the world to freeze foreign assets of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his top security officials, Human Rights Watch said today. Other countries should also ban all exports of arms and security equipment to Yemen, Human Rights Watch said.

Arab Spring claims its third despot
The uprisings sweeping the Arab world appeared to have won their third victory over authoritarian rule by overthrowing President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen after 33 years in power. He left for Saudi Arabia on Saturday to be treated for injuries received in an explosion in his presidential palace and is unlikely to return.

Saleh is gone. What next for Yemen?
The president’s departure for medical treatment has created an opportunity to resolve Yemen’s political crisis. With the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, Yemenis now have a chance to resolve the political crisis that has bedevilled the country since February.

Saleh undergoes surgery as Yemen rejoices
Protesters celebrate what they say is fall of president after he travels to Riyadh for medical treatment for injuries.

Yemeni officials trying to flee the country following president’s departure
Yemeni media outlets have reported that a number of officials in the regime are trying to flee the country following the departure of President Ali Abdallah Saleh. The reports say that he has gone to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment, having been wounded in a raid against the presidential palace.

Battle rages in Yemeni capital
Heavy fighting continues across Sanaa, with witnesses saying security forces have fired live bullets at protesters.

Thousands flee fighting in Yemen’s capital
SANAA (AFP) – Thousands of residents were fleeing the Yemeni capital on Friday as deadly clashes between dissident tribesmen and loyalist troops raged for a fourth straight day leaving bodies littering the streets. The headquarters of national airline Yemenia were burnt down in fierce fighting through the night, an AFP correspondent reported.

Video: Yemen airport on fire
The headquarters of Yemeni Airways has been engulfed in flames amidst fierce fighting in the capital Sanaa.

US envoy embarks on mission to halt Yemen sliding into civil war
Fighting between forces loyal to the Yemeni President and one of the country’s most influential tribes intensified yesterday as an American envoy flew to the region in an attempt to stop the country from plunging into a bloody civil war. At least 135 people have died in clashes in the capital, Sanaa, in the past 10 days, the bloodiest period since a popular uprising calling for political reform started in January.

Feud within key Yemen tribe could tear nation apart
If Yemen collapses, the fuse will have been lighted by a war pitting President Ali Abdullah Saleh against his senior clansman, analysts say, not pro-democracy protests or other challenges to his rule. The unrest shaking Yemen began months ago as part of the idealistic movement for democracy and political reform sweeping the Middle East and North Africa. It is now a battle of money, power and egos within a single powerful clan that threatens to tear the country apart.,0,6161531.story

Other Mideast/Analysis & Op-ed
Iran not a nuclear threat, says Pulitzer Prize winning journalist
In an interview with Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh warned that the United States’ “aggressive” sanction policy against Iran was aimed at halting a nuclear weapons program that does not exist. “Clearly the sanction policy is aimed at trying to force Iran to change its foreign policy — not regime change, that’s not going to happen,” he said. “Bush might have been interested in regime change, Obama is not.”

Seymour Hersh on the Arab Spring, “Disaster” U.S. Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the Looming Crisis in Iraq
Veteran investigative reporter Seymour Hersh assesses the popular uprisings sweeping the Middle East and North Africa amidst ongoing U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Despite touted gains and an upcoming U.S. military withdrawal deadline in Iraq, Hersh says, “Whatever you’re hearing, Iraq is going bad… It’s sectarian war. And the big question is going to be whether we pull out or not.” On the uprisings, Hersh says Saudi Arabia, fearing an overthrow of the regional order, is driving the embattled regimes’ attempts to crush the protests. [includes rush transcript]

Arms bonanza
Arab spring brings cheer to global weapons industry.

The Determination of the Arab Revolutions, ESAM AL-AMIN
After the relatively swift triumphs of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions in deposing their dictators earlier this year, other Arab dictators drew a different set of lessons than their populations did. Fed up with decades of repression, corruption, and the break down of state institutions, as well as the complete loss of faith in any meaningful political or social reforms in their societies, people across the Arab world this spring have waged simultaneous mass movements to force sweeping changes.

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New York’s Celebrate IsraHell parade 2011 shows Zionist myopia



How can American Jews show their love for the Jewish state? March in the centre of New York, of course. Back in 2009, I reported on the Salute to Israel event, with tens of thousands of young and old Jews singing, saluting, parading and waving Israeli and American flags in an orgy of Zionist love. It looked and felt desperate.

Yesterday I again attended the march here in New York (only around 30,000 people took part) and the overwhelming feeling was one of increased anger and defensiveness. Countless Jews shouted out against Hamas, 9/11, terrorism, suicide bombing and Islam, as if they’re all connected. In the small mind of pro-settler Jews, they are, and this shows the level of paranoia shown by so many Zionist Jews. It’s a “the whole world hates us and always will” mentality. Occupation and military and racial discrimination don’t exist in yesterday’s rally.

It reminded me of whites marching for apartheid South Africa in the 1980s and believing history was on the side of hating blacks. These days, it’s hard to find many South Africans who proudly say they backed the apartheid regime.

Yesterday I spent time in the roped-off protest area, where Jews and Palestinians stood bravely against the masses and peacefully demonstrated against the Israeli state. We were clearly out-numbered and even then the marchers hurled abuse at us. Are Zionists so insecure that any dissent is seen as an existential threat? I guessshooting largely unarmed demonstrators is something to be proud of.

If the mainstream people at the march yesterday are the future of Israeli support in the US, then anti-Zionists have been given a gift. Extremism and virulent Zionism is not embraced by growing numbers of global citizens and yet Orthodox Zionism and Christian fundamentalism are becoming the key drivers of pro-Israel sentiment here.

A day to both despair and celebrate.

UPDATE: Need more evidence that the mainstream political elite sees Israel not as a country, but a fundamentalist religion that can’t be challenged? A leading New York politician is damned for not appearing at yesterday’s Israel parade.

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Afghanistan “Pullout” Irrelevant, Unlikely



John Glaser

One faction of Obama’s national security team, the same that argued against a troop surge in 2009, is calling for a “steeper pullout” from Afghanistan. According to theNYTimes, two primary reasons are motivating said faction to push for this:

President Obama’s national security team is contemplating troop reductions in Afghanistan that would be steeper than those discussed even a few weeks ago, with some officials arguing that such a change is justified by the rising cost of the war and the death of Osama bin Laden, which they called new “strategic considerations.”

For anyone that believes in the war in Afghanistan, these so-called new strategic considerations are entirely irrelevant. The death of Osama bin Laden might have been relevant back in 2001 before the stated U.S. mission had changed four times over. To them, the war at this point is about trying to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban (nope) and to assist the Afghan government and security forces in being functional and sustainable – and subservient to U.S. demands (nope again). The excessive costs of the war similarly speak nil towards some sort of strategic success in this mission, as defined by any single supporter of the war in the White House or in Congress. So the fact that major elements of the administration, and presumably party leaders in Congress, are pushing for a “steeper pullout” because of these supposed new considerations would tend to lead one to the cynical conclusion that we actually have no strategic or national security interests in Afghanistan: we remain there forsymbolic and political reasons, not for any notion of national interest or protecting Americans. This is a heck of a lot of death, suffering, and waste for mere symbolic victories.

Anyways, it seems likely that the faction in Obama’s national security team arguing for an extended stay is the one likely to ultimately win. It includes Robert Gates & Co. which is the group that won last time when arguing for a surge. Not to mention the fact that, on the ground, there are “no signs of the war winding down, or of Americans getting ready to leave following last year’s successful surge.”

But it’s also important to understand what exactly this debate is about. It’s interesting how the word “pullout” is used in the media when considering troop levels in any given war front. Contrary to what reasonable people might assume, it doesn’t mean a military exit from the country. It means a minor drawdown of the occupation to levels comparable to publicly accepted troop levels in Kuwait, or Bahrain, or South Korea, or Germany, or any of the other 130 or so countries on that list. This new argument for steeper pullout is actually “about setting a final date by which all of the 30,000 surge troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan,” not about an actual departure of all or even most of our military.

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Pro-IsraHelli Bias at the NYTimes



John Glaser

It’s no secret the U.S. media is tilted far in favor of Israel. Just look at how two very similar events are treated in the NYTimes, one about a country deemed “bad guy” by U.S. policy, the other “our greatest friend and ally.”

Children Are Among Casualties of Syrian Military Raids After Demonstrations:

Syrian military forces killed 42 people Wednesday, including a 10-year-old boy and 4-year-old girl, in raids on a string of towns around the central city of Homs as the government continued trying to crush a three-month-old popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, human rights activists said.

Troops and tanks moved against the towns of Talbiseh, Teir Maaleh and Al-Rastan on Saturday after large antigovernment demonstrations on Friday, said Razan Zeitouneh, a rights activist whose organization, the Syrian Human Rights Information Link, collected the names of 42 people killed in Al-Rastan. Though figures for other towns were not available, Syrians reached by telephone described widespread arrests of men and neighborhoods besieged by tanks and snipers.

Now here’s how the same newspaper treats a comparable event:

Israeli forces fired at pro-Palestinian protesters on the Syrian frontier on Sunday as they tried to breach the border for the second time in three weeks, reflecting a new mode of popular struggle and deadly confrontation fueled by turmoil in the Arab world and the vacuum of stalled peace talks.

Wave after wave of protesters, mainly Palestinians from refugee camps in Syria, approached the frontier with the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. Israeli soldiers opened fire on those who crossed a new trench and tried to attack the border fence near the towns of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights and Quneitra in Syria.

By nightfall, the Syrian news agency SANA reported that 22 protesters had been killed and more than 350 had been wounded. Israeli officials said that they had no information on casualties but suggested that the Syrian figures were exaggerated.

…“What would any country do if people from an enemy country were marching on its borders?” asked Dan Gillerman, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations. “We tried all other possible means to stop them.”

The Syrian military “killed 42 people” including children in “raids”  responding to “popular uprisings” for “human rights.” These Golan Heights protesters were “fueled by turmoil in the Arab world” and “tried to attack the border fence” with Israel, and the Syrians are likely to have “exaggerated” the death toll. No such statement was taken from Syrian officials, but I’m sure they would have said the same about the military justifications for the offensive: “What would any government do if ‘internal enemies’ were marching on its streets? We tried all other possible means to stop them.”

We don’t get such a justification in the Syrian report, but there it is in the Israeli one. The events are similar: government military forces opening fire on unarmed, peaceful civilian protesters. But we wouldn’t necessarily know it from reading the NYTimes. They of course mentioned the children that the Syrian military attacked. But seemed to have forgotten to include that detail, reported here, from the Israeli offensive. The report even goes so far as to blame Syria for the protests:

Syria’s decision to allow the protest appeared to reflect a calculated strategy to divert attention from its own antigovernment uprising.

…anything to absolve Israel from too much blame. These differences can be subtle word changes and alterations in emphasis, but they help uphold a strong pro-Israeli mindset throughout the American electorate.

Update: It seems the Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has been rather explicit about harsh military responses to Palestinian uprisings (via FPIF):

There is a focal player in the Middle East – the street – and it is clear to us that in the coming months we can find ourselves in broad popular demonstrations, which gain public resonance. The IDF is preparing for these demonstrations….we will act with great fire power and full force at the very beginning of the confrontation. Anything the camera can stand or could stand in the first three days of fighting – it will not be prepared to put up with thereafter.

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War Fatigue Is Far Too Late



John Glaser

Our front page Highlights draws attention to Paul Pillar’s post over at the National Interest on war fatigue and how it can be a force for good in American foreign policy. I agree, but may go a bit further than him. So called war fatigue is essentially what people should feel at the onset of war, not after decades of it. The reason it’s called a fatigue is because it takes an exhausted military, budget, and population of both countries to get beyond what we’ve been taught by our government and media to do, which is support war. I’m reminded of what Noam Chomsky wrote in his book Media Control:

One aspect of the malady [“war fatigue”] actually got a technical name. It was called the “Vietnam Syndrome.” The Vietnam Syndrome, a term that began to come up around 1970, has actually been defined on occasion. The Reaganite intellectual Norman Podhoretz defined it as “the sickly inhibitions against the use of military force.” There were these sickly inhibitions against violence on the part of a large part of the public. People just didn’t understand why we should go around torturing people and killing people and carpet bombing them.

It’s very dangerous for a population to be overcome by these sickly inhibitions, as Goebbels understood, because then there’s a limit on foreign adventures. It’s necessary, as the Washington Post put it rather proudly during the [first] Gulf War hysteria, to instill in people a respect for “martial value.” That’s important. If you want to have a violent society that uses force around the world to achieve the ends of its own domestic elite, it’s necessary to have a proper appreciation of the martial values and none of these sickly inhibitions about using violence.

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Rick Santorum Places First in GOP Warmonger Contest



John Glaser

Rick Santorum has officially announced his candidacy for President. Santorum is about as hawkish as the Republican field is going to get for 2012. And that’s saying a lot. He is most well known for being a culture warrior, but according to him, his expertise lies elsewhere:

“I have one major piece of legislation I passed, on partial-birth abortion, but I had two on foreign policy — the Syria Accountability Act and the Iran Freedom and Support Act, both of which were opposed by Bush and took me a year or more,” he said. He added: “I spent the last four years at the Ethics and Public Policy Center giving lectures all over the country on radical jihadism and the ‘Gathering Storm of the 21st Century.’ I haven’t done squat on moral, cultural issues.”

The Syria Accountability Act was passed in December 2003 and was essentially a round of harsh sanctions on the Assad government “for its support for terrorism, its occupation of Lebanon, weapons of mass destruction programs, illegal imports of Iraqi oil, and its role in the ongoing security problems in the Middle East.” Fundamentally an affront to Syrian sovereignty for offenses that we engage in every single day, this bill also likely strengthened the Assad regime.

The Iran Freedom and Support Act of 2006 was similar to the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 in that it appropriated tens of millions of dollars to give to questionable dissident groups within the country in order to actuate regime change. In order to believe that the United States government has the responsibility or the authority to foment coups in any country it sees fit (an historical past time for us), and then brag about having drafted the bill to authorize such actions, you have to be a pretty radical interventionist for military empire. And that’s exactly what Santorum is.

[He has even more extreme positions, like mandating the National Language to be English. If he would want to force that kind of conformity, who knows what it’ll look like on issues of national security.]

And about these lectures he’s been giving on radical jihadism…The likelihood that Rick Santorum knows anything at all about Islamic jihad is about equivalent to the Earth crashing into the moon tomorrow. What he means to say there is that he has been going around the country stirring up fear and hysteria with pure paranoia about some three century old plot to install sharia law through an Islamic caliphate over America. This is based on nothing, of course. At the risk of suggesting that this fear is a notion worth pursuing, you can check out the ACLU’s report debunking the myth here.

Bottom line? Fear Santorum’s candidacy.

Update: One of Santorum’s primary talking points against the Obamaadministration is that he has “appeased” other countries and that our “enemies” don’t sufficiently fear President Obama. From this, we can get a pretty clear picture of how Santorum would run the world if given the chance.

“The Iranians, they are moving full-scale forward with their nuclear program and they know the president is not going to do anything to stop them,” Santorum said Monday. “He has been a paper tiger and they are an existential threat to the state of Israel, and the Israelis know it and the American’s know it. And this president has not stepped forward and done anything to stop that threat.”

This kind of psychotic babble is almost good enough to be satire, and it is based on pure fantasy. The Iranians are not moving full-scale forward with their nuclear program. As has been reported, there is not a shred of evidence for that contention. It is merely a fabrication, like his seething, frenzied fear of sharia law in America, that he stirs up in order to scare people into conformity with war policy. Furthermore, to say that Obama has done nothing, is simply untrue. Santorum is banking on the fact that most idiot voters will not check up on what he says, but Obama has either continued or intensified the neoconservative policies of Santorum’s friend George W. Bush. To stop that supposed threat, Obama has expanded covert operations on the ground, confronted Iran through cyber-attacks, and engaged in economic warfare and sabotage, among other things.

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