Archive | August 16th, 2011

Destabilizing Syria


 by Stephen Lendman


What began in January escalated to an uprising in March. Ever since, it’s been violent, disruptive and widespread, killing hundreds, and injuring many more.

The stakes are high. The entire region is affected. It’s very similar to what began in Libya, pitting imperial powers against ruling governments for destabilization and control.

In Libya, it’s by war for regime change, colonization and plunder. In Syria, it’s to establish another client state, no matter who heads it. More on that below.

On August 3, Joshua Landis’ Syria Comment site ( headlined, “The Armed Gangs Controversy,” saying:

Some analysts say “Syrian soldiers are killing fellow soldiers (for disobeying orders), not opposition elements.” In fact, nothing proves it. “Most evidence supports government statements that armed opposition elements (are) shooting security personnel.”

In April in Banyas, the controversy first surfaced when nine soldiers were killed outside the city. Western media reports about fellow soldiers shooting them were false. Col. Uday Ahmad, brother-in-law of one of the dead, there at the time, said:

“(T)wo military trucks were ambushed as they crossed a highway bridge by well armed men,” hiding on the ground and on rooftops. “They raked the two trucks with automatic fire, killing nine. The incident had nothing to do with soldiers refusing orders.”

Other shooting reports were similar, involving armed militants, non-Syrian insurgents, responsible for much killing, Western media falsely blaming Syria’s military and police. At the same time, most opposition forces are nonviolent, caught between hostile sides.

In Hama, for example, independent video footage contradicts major media reports. It shows opposition elements throwing bodies of soldiers into the Asi River, north of the city.

In fact, a CNN Arwa Damon/Nada Husseini August 2 report (a notable major media exception, perhaps airing only on CNN International) said:

“One prominent anti-government activist (unnamed for reasons of safety) told CNN the state TV account was correct. The bodies are those of Syrian secret police killed by Syrian fighters from Iraq who have joined the anti-government fight,” based on information gotten “from an extensive network of informants.”

Violent insurgents aren’t part of the protest movement. They’re destabilizing interventionist forces from outside, responsible for lots of killing.

Of course, violence begets more of it. Opposition elements incite it. Government forces respond, and nonviolent civilians are caught in the crossfire.

Landis believes the regime is resilient and will keep fighting, its military having “many advantage(s) over the fragmented opposition.” It’s “unlikely” to collapse or “fade away.” Fighting will continue until one side or the other prevails. Had the Assad government “been willing to hand over power peacefully or establish some sort of constitutional convention, it would have done so already.”

The longer fighting continues, the worse off Syrians will be. Many already face economic hardships, exacerbated by months of conflict, disrupting their lives, besides the human toll.

Landis thinks “(t)he potential for (continued) violence and lawlessness is large. Most worrying is the lack of leadership among opposition forces.” More on that below.

Syrian authorities believe they’re in control as long as Damascus and Aleppo, its two main cities, are mostly quiet.

Business elites in both cities are pro-regime, fearing much to lose if it’s ousted. Sami Moubayed, Damascus-based Forward Magazine editor-in-chief in an August 2 Gulf News article, said:

“(B)oth cities can make or break any political movement – but rarely have they been part of anything that threatens stability and their commercial interests.”

At the same time, the “silence of both cities….won’t last for too long” for three reasons:

(1) “Unemployment:” If it rises too high, expect trouble. Many young people already are jobless. If many others join them for a protracted period, they’ll be impoverished and angry.

(2) “Lack of community leaders:” Previous ones “pacif(ied)” angry Damascus residents. No one with similar influence is present in either city because “Baathists (haven’t let) independent leaders….emerge.”

(3) “Demographics:” Both cities are “melting pots,” containing elements likely to demonstrate if things break down, because they don’t take orders from business leaders.

On August 5, Landis headlined, “Should the US Hasten Assad’s Downfall Despite Syria’s Absence of Opposition Leaders?” saying:

Opposition forces are leaderless. As a result, “many US policy makers (are) scared. They don’t want” the regime ousted until “some structure or leadership (can) take its place.”

A power vacuum could produce chaos, an “Iraq (or Afghanistan) redux.” Syrian businessmen won’t support political change without a safe alternative. They’re “not suicidal. They fear having their property expropriated twice in 50 years.” Moreover, they’ve been “inextricably linked” to the regime for decades.

By “fast forward(ing)” change, Washington might “creat(e) a Frankenstein….caus(ing) more destruction and death, not less.”

According to Syrian human rights activist/former judge/outspoken Assad regime critic, Haytham al-Maleh:

“If we want to own Syria after the revolution, we must win this struggle on our own,” not by foreign intervention, especially imperial powers with their own agenda.

Destabilization and Possible Military Intervention

On the Progressive Radio News Hour, Mahdi Nazemroaya said outside elements are destabilizing Syria, much like how the Libyan uprising began. Where it leads bears close watching.

On Russia Today (, Michel Chossudovsky covered similar ground and more.

“This is not a peaceful protest movement,” he said. “The model of insurrection (in Hama) is very similar to what happened in Daraa at the outset of these so-called protest movements.”

Hama is a Muslim Brotherhood stronghold. “This essentially is a confrontation between the government and Muslim Brotherhood.” It doesn’t reflect Syrian public opinion, “committed to a secular Muslim society.”

In fact, “Assad has very strong popular support,” as demonstrated by large pro-government rallies. Against them are Islamists “supported by outside forces. We know that’s the case,” including insurgents from Iraq, Turkey and Jordan.

Major media reports falsify what’s happening, presenting one-sided biased accounts. AFP fabricated news about Hama, claiming 500,000 anti-government protesters turned out. “In fact, it wasn’t 500,000. It was 10,000.”

Moreover, when mass pro-Assad (or pro-Gaddafi) rallies occur, they’re either downplayed or ignored.

In addition, major media reports suppress information about “armed gunmen shooting at police.” Even the Israeli press confirmed it, while US and other Western accounts conceal what’s going on – “a NATO/US military alliance committing crimes (against) humanity,” targeting Syrian civilians as in Libya.

If Western forces intervene militarily, “then we are in for an extended war that goes from the Mediterranean to the Chinese border.” As a result, a general war may result with potentially “devastating consequences.”

On August 5, RIA Novosti headlined, “NATO plans campaign in Syria, tightens noose around Iran – Rogozin,” saying:

“NATO is planning a military campaign against Syria to help overthrow the (Assad regime) with a long-reaching goal of preparing a beachhead for an attack on Iran, Russia’s envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said.”

By condemning ongoing violence in Syria, the Security Council suggested military intervention may follow. “It could be a logical conclusion of (Western) military and propaganda operations….against North Africa,” Rogozin told Izvestia Friday, saying targeted regimes have opposing views to Western ones.

He also said imperial intervention in Syria and Yemen may precede attacking Iran.

“The noose around Iran is tightening,” he believes. “Military planning against Iran is underway. And we are certainly concerned about an escalation of a large-scale war in this huge region.”

In fact, military plans for wars take months to prepare. America has longstanding ones, updated as needed, against a number of targeted nations, including Iran. It also has extensive naval and other forces in the region.

Plans are one thing, however, waging wars another. Many sit on shelves unimplemented, gathering dust. For years, reports circulated about potential imminent attacks on Iran, some accompanied by powerful US naval forces deployed to the region. Nonetheless, nothing happened.

Iran is militarily strong, able to retaliate forcefully against Israel and American forces in Iraq. As a result, attacking it could prove catastrophic, not least because how disruptive it would be to regional oil supplies and prices.

Blocking the Hormuz Straits alone would prevent around 15 – 17 millions of barrels from passing through daily on average. Attacking Western Gulf oil production, processing and transportation facilities would make things much worse, besides risking the possibility of general war.

Some analysts, in fact, believe doing so could become WW III if Russia and China intervene to protect their own interests.

For over three decades, US/Iranian relations have been strained, but no wars resulted. Perhaps it’s because once something major begins, the potential consequences may be too great to risk.

In other words, the risk/reward ratio may show odds too precarious even for go-for-broke imperial powers to chance. What’s ahead this time? In the fullness of time, we’ll know, with an important wild card to keep in mind.

With America’s economy cratering ahead of its 2012 presidential and congressional elections, a major false flag attack, like 9/11, may be used to incite fear, divert attention from economic woes, and enlist public support for more war besides others now ongoing.

It’s the oldest trick in the book, successful virtually every time tried, the Obama administration’s ace in the hole perhaps to be played strategically for assured reelection, it hopes.

As a result, anything ahead is possible to solidify power, even risked global war with potentially catastrophic consequences. Trends analyst Gerald Celente calls Washington politicians “inepts and incompetents.”

With these types in charge, future possibilities are frightening, especially since the business of America is war and grand theft.

As a result, be wary, worried, and ready to react decisively – to the streets, if necessary, to fight the beast or be devoured by it. No other choice is possible.

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A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter


GOP front runners believe in Christian theocracy

Posted: 15 Aug 2011


The world’s only super-power may be soon run by this (via The Daily Beast):

With Tim Pawlenty out of the presidential race, it is now fairly clear that the GOP candidate will either be Mitt Romney or someone who makes George W. Bush look like Tom Paine. Of the three most plausible candidates for the Republican nomination, two are deeply associated with a theocratic strain of Christian fundamentalism known as Dominionism. If you want to understand Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, understanding Dominionism isn’t optional.

Put simply, Dominionism means that Christians have a God-given right to rule all earthly institutions. Originating among some of America’s most radical theocrats, it’s long had an influence on religious-right education and political organizing. But because it seems so outré, getting ordinary people to take it seriously can be difficult. Most writers, myself included, who explore it have been called paranoid. In a contemptuous 2006 First Things review of several books, including Kevin Phillips’ American Theocracy, and my own Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, conservative columnist Ross Douthat wrote, “the fear of theocracy has become a defining panic of the Bush era.”

We have not seen this sort of thing at the highest levels of the Republican Party before. Those of us who wrote about the Christian fundamentalist influence on the Bush administration were alarmed that one of his advisers, Marvin Olasky, was associated with Christian Reconstructionism. It seemed unthinkable, at the time, that an American president was taking advice from even a single person whose ideas were so inimical to democracy. Few of us imagined that someone who actually championed such ideas would have a shot at the White House. It turns out we weren’t paranoid enough. If Bush eroded the separation of church and state, the GOP is now poised to nominate someone who will mount an all-out assault on it. We need to take their beliefs seriously, because they certainly do.

Web “security” firms doesn’t mean helping autocrats feel secure

Posted: 14 Aug 2011

Surely companies that assist repressive regimes in their censorship should pay a legal and ethical price in their home country? This is an argument in my book The Blogging Revolution (just re-released in an updated edition). This story is from Guelph Mercury:

A Guelph tech firm with a reputation for making tools to control information abroad is now tightening communications at home.

After giving several media interviews during its rapid rise in the burgeoning internet security sector, Netsweeper is now refusing to speak to reporters.

“There’s no good conversation for us to have,” company spokesperson Scott O’Neill told the Toronto Star in June. Requests for comment by the Guelph Mercury and The Canadian Press have also been turned down.

Netsweeper also recently rejected a meeting request by Guelph MP Frank Valeriote.

“I wanted to meet with them. I wanted to learn more about everything they did, more than I was able to glean from their website and news articles,” he said. “I’m disappointed they didn’t want to meet with me.”

The silence follows allegations the company provides censorship software to Middle Eastern clients who actively suppress free speech and access to information.

According to researchers from Citizen Lab, a web censorship watchdog at the Munk School of Global Affairs, at the University of Toronto, Netsweeper currently provides filtering tools to state-owned telecommunications companies in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

All three clients use the software to block political, religious and same-sex content, Citizen Lab has reported. In its promotional material, Netsweeper boasts it can block websites “based on social, religious or political ideals.”

What does any of this mean for Guelph? Some say not much.

“It is not the City’s practice to comment on the business and contractual relationships of private companies,” Peter Cartwright, general manager of economic development and tourism, said. “If the company has broken any provincial or federal laws, these matters would be have to be addressed by those levels of government.”

Others disagree.

“I think as citizens of the local community, the country and the world, we have multiple obligations,” Ron Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab, said.

“It’s imperative that citizens of Guelph think of themselves as custodians of what takes place in Guelph and is projected internationally.”

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A vile logic to Anders Breivik’s choice of target


Slavoj Zizek

Anders Behring Breivik killed more than 70 people in Norway. Photograph: Scanpix Sweden/Reuters.

In Anders Behring Breivik’s ideological self-justification as well as in reactions to his murderous act there are things that should make us think. The manifesto of this Christian “Marxist hunter” who killed more than 70 people in Norway is precisely not a case of a deranged man’s rambling; it is simply a consequent exposition of “Europe’s crisis” which serves as the (more or less) implicit foundation of the rising anti-immigrant populism – its very inconsistencies are symptomatic of the inner contradictions of this view.

The first thing that sticks out is how Breivik constructs his enemy: the combination of three elements (Marxism, multiculturalism and Islamism), each of which belongs to a different political space: the Marxist radical left, multiculturalist liberalism, Islamic religious fundamentalism. The old fascist habit of attributing to the enemy mutually exclusive features (“Bolshevik-plutocratic Jewish plot” – Bolshevik radical left, plutocratic capitalism, ethnic-religious identity) returns here in a new guise.

Even more indicative is the way Breivik’s self-designation shuffles the cards of radical rightist ideology. Breivik advocates Christianity, but remains a secular agnostic: Christianity is for him merely a cultural construct to oppose Islam. He is anti-feminist and thinks women should be discouraged from pursuing higher education; but he favours a “secular” society, supports abortion and declares himself pro-gay.

His predecessor in this respect was Pim Fortuyn, the Dutch rightist populist politician who was killed in early May 2002, two weeks before elections in which he was expected to gain one fifth of the votes. Fortuyn was a paradoxical figure: a rightist populist whose personal features and even opinions (most of them) were almost perfectly “politically correct”. He was gay, had good personal relations with many immigrants, displayed an innate sense of irony – in short, he was a good tolerant liberal with regard to everything except his basic stance towards Muslim immigrants.

What Fortuyn embodied was thus the intersection between rightist populism and liberal political correctness. Indeed, he was the living proof that the opposition between rightist populism and liberal tolerance is a false one, that we are dealing with two sides of the same coin: ie we can have a racism which rejects the other with the argument that it is racist.

Furthermore, Breivik combines Nazi features (also in details – for example, his sympathy for Saga, the Swedish pro-Nazi folk singer) with a hatred of Hitler: one of his heroes is Max Manus, the leader of the Norway anti-Nazi resistance. Breivik is not so much racist as anti-Muslim: all his hatred is focused on the Muslim threat.

And, last but not least, Breivik is antisemitic but pro-Israel, as the state of Israel is the first line of defence against the Muslim expansion – he even wants to see the Jerusalem temple rebuilt. His view is that Jews are OK as long as there aren’t too many of them – or, as he wrote in his manifesto: “There is no Jewish problem in western Europe (with the exception of the UK and France) as we only have 1 million in western Europe, whereas 800,000 out of these 1 million live in France and the UK. The US, on the other hand, with more than 6 million Jews (600% more than Europe) actually has a considerable Jewish problem.” He realises the ultimate paradox of a Zionist Nazi – how is this possible?

A key is provided by the reactions of the European right to Breivik’s attack: its mantra was that in condemning his murderous act, we should not forget that he addressed “legitimate concerns about genuine problems” – mainstream politics is failing to address the corrosion of Europe by Islamicisation and multiculturalism, or, to quote the Jerusalem Post, we should use the Oslo tragedy “as an opportunity to seriously re-evaluate policies for immigrant integration in Norway and elsewhere”. The newspaper has since apologised for this editorial. (Incidentally, we are yet to hear a similar interpretation of the Palestinian acts of terror, something like “these acts of terror should serve as an opportunity to re-evaluate Israeli politics”.)

A reference to Israel is, of course, implicit in this evaluation: a “multicultural” Israel has no chance to survive; apartheid is the only realistic option. The price for this properly perverse Zionist-rightist pact is that, in order to justify the claim to Palestine, one has to acknowledge retroactively the line of argumentation which was previously, in earlier European history, used against the Jews: the implicit deal is “we are ready to acknowledge your intolerance towards other cultures in your midst if you acknowledge our right not to tolerate Palestinians in our midst”.

The tragic irony of this implicit deal is that, in the European history of last centuries, Jews themselves were the first “multiculturalists”: their problem was how to survive with their culture intact in places where another culture was predominant.

But what if we are entering an era where this new reasoning will impose itself? What if Europe should accept the paradox that its democratic openness is based on exclusion – that there is “no freedom for the enemies of freedom”, as Robespierre put it long ago? In principle, this is, of course, true, but it is here that one has to be very specific. In a way, there was a vile logic to Breivik’s choice of target: he didn’t attack foreigners but those within his own community who were too tolerant towards intruding foreigners. The problem is not foreigners, it is our own (European) identity.

Although the ongoing crisis of the European Union appears as a crisis of economy and finances, it is in its fundamental dimension an ideologico-political crisis: the failure of referendums about the EU constitution a couple of years ago gave a clear signal that voters perceived the EU as a “technocratic” economic union, lacking any vision which could mobilise people – until the recent protests, the only ideology able to mobilise people was the  anti-immigrant defence of Europe.

Recent outbursts of homophobia in eastern European post-communist states should also give us pause for thought. In early 2011, there was a gay parade in Istanbul where thousands walked in peace, with no violence or other disturbances; in gay parades which took place at the same time in Serbia and Croatia (Belgrade, Split), police were not able to protect participants who were ferociously attacked by thousands of violent Christian fundamentalists. These fundamentalists, not Turkey’s, are the true threat to the European legacy, so when the EU basically blocked Turkey’s entry, we should ask the obvious question: what about applying the same rules to eastern Europe?

Antisemitism belongs to this series, alongside other forms of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. The state of Israel is here making a catastrophic mistake: it decided to downplay, if not completely ignore, the “old” (traditional European) antisemitism, focusing instead on the “new” and allegedly “progressive” antisemitism masked as the critique of the Zionist politics of the state of Israel. Along these lines, Bernard Henri-Lévy (in his Left in Dark Times) recently claimed that the antisemitism of the 21st century would be “progressive” or not exist at all. This thesis compels us to turn around the old Marxist interpretation of antisemitism as a mystified anti-capitalism (instead of blaming the capitalist system, the rage is focused on a specific ethnic group accused of corrupting the system): for Henri-Lévy and his partisans, today’s anti-capitalism is a disguised form of antisemitism.

This unspoken but no less efficient dismissal of those who would attack the “old” antisemitism is taking place at the very moment when the “old” antisemitism is returning all around Europe, especially in post-communist eastern European countries, from Hungary to Latvia. Something that should worry us even more is the rise of a weird accommodation between Christian fundamentalists and Zionists in the US.

There is only one solution to this enigma: it is not that the US fundamentalists have changed, it is that Zionism itself has paradoxically come to adopt some antisemitic logic in its hatred of Jews who do not fully identify with the politics of the state of Israel. Their target, the figure of the Jew who doubts the Zionist project, is constructed in the same way as the European antisemites constructed the figures of the Jew – he is dangerous because he lives among us, but is not really one of us. Israel is playing a dangerous game here: Fox News, the main US voice of the radical right and a staunch supporter of Israeli expansionism, recently had to demote Glenn Beck, its most popular host, whose comments were getting openly antisemitic.

The standard Zionist argument against the critics of the policies of the state of Israel is that, of course, like every other state, Israel can and should be judged and eventually criticised, but that the critics of Israel misuse the justified critique of Israeli policy for antisemitic purposes. When the Christian fundamentalist supporters of the Israeli politics reject leftist critiques of Israeli policies, their implicit line of argument is illustrated by a wonderful cartoon published in July 2008 in the Viennese daily Die Presse: it shows two stocky, Nazi-looking Austrians, one of them holding in his hands a newspaper and commenting to his friend: “Here you can see again how a totally justified antisemitism is being misused for a cheap critique of Israel!” These are today’s allies of the state of Israel.

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Ebaa Rezeq writes:

Yesterday, news spread about arresting a young activist by the local authorities in Gaza. Hamas called him to take his confiscated things (laptop & mobile) then arrested him banning him from contacting his family or lawyer! But how it all started..?

Well, Abu Yazan & I were chosen to travel to Paris for a social media program for 5 days! It was coordinated via the French Cultural Center in Gaza. We both study English-French literature, students in the French Center, blog, known social & political activists which make us qualified candidates for this program! But was it enough for Hamas?

After the five-day program finished we stayed extra more days in Paris then we left heading to Egypt. Abu Yazan was deported from the Egyptian side to Gaza and humiliated, but I was allowed to get in to Cairo! He got to Gaza, nothing happened. One month later on my way to cross the Palestinian hall in Rafah Crossing to finally get into Gaza that I missed so much, Hamas officers stopped me. They asked where and why was I travelling, I answered them saying that I went to France for some social media program, then to Egypt to meet with my aunts and attend the opening of the revolution movie “18 days” that I was invited to.

Then later they knew that Abu Yazan was with me in France. They immediately started to look for more information about him. They interrogated me for more than 2 hours and searched through all of my stuff, clothes, opened presents in a very humiliating way as if I’m a drug dealer! A lot of things were confiscated (digital camera, flip camera, external hard disc, flash and memory cards, ipod, my mobile with the Egyptian, French and the Palestinian sim cards, a notebook, and all of the political magazines and leaflets I had with me! Most of those were mine but some were not, they just didn’t care.

That was on Thursday July, 27. I had no contact with my family or a lawyer and when I asked what kind of accusations I might be having to get all of this, they said that it’s none of my business, I have no right to ask and I’ll know next time I get interrogated which was Sunday August the 7th! At the meantime, Abu Yazan received a paper saying he should go to the internal security office for interrogation. We both went there twice after that incident on the border on my way back to Gaza.

It turned out that our crime is that we’ve been very active in the March 15 protests that called for unity between Fatah and Hamas. We were interrogated separately, but had the same reaction when we felt that they deal with this movement as a crime and actually going after its members now. We tried to explain that we didn’t go against anyone and what we called for was in our cause’s interest which is the only thing that matters to us!

What we did understand from their questions is that we’ve “as in March 15 members” been meeting with politicians (both Palestinian and foreign), implying their agendas as getting funded by them and asking them for visas. Also sitting with Israelis “which means we’re spies” and they’re holding all kinds of evidences against us! It doesn’t matter how repeatedly we denied all of this madness and how we asked them to show us those evidences and give us a fair trial then if that is the case. As you all should be aware of that there’s no such a thing called “law” here in this small coastal enclave.

All we could do is go to human rights organizations to fill complaints which is what we’ve been doing for ages now every time a violation happens, but it’s all in vain! I assigned a lawyer this time, but what could he possibly do? He came to my first interrogation and wasn’t allowed to stay, wasn’t informed of any accusations held against me, simply, he did nothing more than I’d do and couldn’t make them (god forbid) abide by the law! All these organizations and centers could offer is their monthly report about Hamas violations after taking your statement. That is their one and only accomplishment and they seem to be satisfied with it :)

During the interrogation we were asked about our activities and about what the social media means. I tried over and over to explain them that social media is about civilian journalists. It’s that you are your own media which sometimes and recently much more effective than the mainstream media! After trying so hard to make them get it, they kept asking if our study in college has anything to do with media and for our press card, we said that social media requires no cards and no certificates!

I mentioned that a video we (a group of activists) did on the Rafah crossing is a good example of what I’m trying to explain them, but they weren’t interested! And when my friend told them about the weekly demonstration we’re part of against the Israeli Occupation and the buffer zone northern Gaza, their immediate response was “Yeah, you go there, take photos of yourself to show off on facebook”!!!! Abu Yazan said: “Yeah, anything for facebook photos, even going standing only 80 meters far from the wall under live bullets!”. “Apparently, you’ve never been there!”

Abu Yazan & I were waiting for this big, unjustified mess to be over so we can at least blog about it. No one could’ve imagined that he’d be arrested!! We were told that we’ll be no longer interrogated and they’ll call us to get our stuff back. I had no call, but Abu Yazan did and that’s how they arrested him!

My dear friend had to listen to their inappropriate accusations of me and him being in a relationship when he told them that we’re classmates, bloggers and activists and that’s how we know each other!

And I’ve had to cover my head in order to be interrogated by them. They refused to meet me and give me back my things (that I still don’t have yet) unless I put on a hejab. I told them I don’t have any, so they brought me one, a stinky one! And also they brought a praying mattress to cover my legs. Wooo, wait a minute, no I wasn’t wearing a dress or a mini skirt. Nope, I was wearing trousers, baggy ones! We both had to put with their insults and religious preaches as being liberal and secular for them = an infidel!

Abu Yazan is one of the founders of GYBO which produced a rap song “The Mystery” honoring everyone who worked on breaking the blockade on Gaza!

This is day two, and no one knows anything about him. I really wanted to blog about my very-first-time-to-get-out-of-Gaza experience, but I couldn’t escape posting about Hamas’s warm welcome for me that has been lasting for more than half a month now.

Free Abu Yazan..Free your minds!

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Thousands of Palestinians flee refugee camp near Latakia, Syria – UNRWA

by Ali Abunimah
” If the news is true that the Syrian army is shelling Ar-Raml camp in Latakia, it won’t be the first time that the Syrian regime has bombed a Palestinian refugee camp.  It shelled the camps in Lebanon in 1976 and it sponsored (through the Amal movement) the war of the camps from 1985-1988.” Shoah 

Thousands of Palestinian refugees have fled their camp in the city of Latakia on Syria’s Mediterranean coast amid an assault in the area by Syrian forces, UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunness told The Electronic Intifada by telephone from Gaza.

According to Gunness, UNRWA has received information from a broad range of sources that more than half of the camp’s approximately 10,000 residents had left the camp after being ordered to do so by Syrian authorities. Gunness said the camp had come under attack from gunboats at sea, and by land.

Syrian forces have been engaged in a violent crackdown on protests in a number of cities throughout the country and information has been difficult to obtain as authorities have cut off most communications.

Gunness told The Electronic Intifada:

We don’t know how many they are. We don’t know if they’re sick, if they’re children, or if they’re elderly, what their medical condition is or who is looking after them, who is feeding them or who is housing them. It’s a really alarming situation.

He added that UNRWA operates four schools in the camp. It also runs a health center, food distribution center, a community center and a youth center. While schools were already closed due to Ramadan, other facilities are now closed due to the crisis.

UNRWA, a UN agency, provides services to almost five million Palestinian refugees living in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. There are approximately 475,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria.


Speaking on the BBC World Service, Gunness has subsequently stated that 4 people had been “confirmed dead” in the camp.

Chris Gunness on Al Jazeera English

Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the UN agency handling Palestinian refugees says the Syrian army has fired at a refugee camp in the city of Latakia. He condemns the violence and calls for immediate access to the site.

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NATO’s Puppet Regime in Libya Falls Apart

by Peter Symonds

The sacking of the entire Benghazi-based Libyan opposition cabinet this week has exposed the anti-democratic, faction-riven character of the regime that the US and its European allies are seeking to impose on Libya. The self-proclaimed Transitional National Council (TNC)—facing a military stalemate in efforts to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi due to its lack of popular support—is being consumed by violent internal conflicts.

TNC President Abdul Mustafa Jalil ordered the dismissal of the TNC’s executive committee on Monday, after the unexplained murder of the organisation’s military chief, General Abdel Fatah Younis, on July 28. Only Mahmoud Jibril, the TNC’s so-called prime minister, was kept on to form the next cabinet. In a further sign of disarray, Jalil insisted that members of various autonomous militias operating broadly under the TNC’s banner had to integrate into its armed forces as individuals rather than units.

Jalil was acting under demands for justice from Younis’s family members and the powerful Obeidi tribe, and under pressure from the February 17 Coalition, a secular grouping of Libyan judges and lawyers, critical of the growing influence of Islamists within the TNC. As it announced the sackings, a TNC spokesman declared that the cabinet was responsible for “improper administrative procedures” that led to Younis’s death.

No official explanation has been given for the arrest and killing of Younis, which has been the subject of bitter recriminations. He was Gaddafi’s interior minister before defecting to the Benghazi opposition, along with the Special Forces troops under his command.

Those close to Younis have accused an Islamist militia of killing him, to avenge the general’s savage repression of an Islamist uprising in the mid-1990s and to block his efforts to bring TNC military units under his unified command. Various Islamist organisations—including those derived from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Al Qaeda-aligned Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG)—are prominent in the TNC’s loosely-organised military umbrella group, known as the Union of Revolutionary Forces.

An article in Canada’s Globe and Mail last week highlighted the increasing assertiveness of Islamist forces led by Mohammed Busidra, who dubs himself “a moderate”. His network includes the Muslim Brotherhood, the February 17 Martyrs’ Brigade led by cleric Ismail Al-Sallabi, and a number of other Islamist imams. In his Globe and Mail interview, Busidra explained that he had drawn up an Islamist constitution for post-Gaddafi Libya and wanted Sheikh Al-Sallabi, Ismail’s brother who is currently based in Doha, to take on the presidency.

Ismail Al-Sallabi has blamed Gaddafi infiltrators, rather an Islamist militia, for the killing of Younis. As factional tensions inside the TNC have sharpened, his units have been rounding up dozens of “Gaddafi loyalists”, which undoubtedly include political opponents. To date, none of the militia has abided by the TNC’s order to integrate into a unified military force.

A third factor in the Younis killing is the shady military figure Khalifa Hifter, a former Libyan army colonel with a long association with the CIA. He is known to have clashed with Younis for control of the TNC’s military wing. Whether or not he is directly implicated, Hifter’s presence in the TNC confirms the involvement of various Western intelligence agencies in the sordid machinations in Benghazi.

A fortnight after Younis’s death, TNC president Jalil, himself a former Gaddafi justice minister, has offered no account of what happened. Moreover, he has been forced to dismiss his entire “cabinet” to keep control of his fractious coalition of Islamists, ex-Gaddafi officials, CIA assets and assorted adventurers.

What emerges is a devastating indictment of the Obama administration and its European allies along with all the pseudo left organisations and liberals such as American professor Juan Cole, who have acted as cheerleaders for the NATO bombing campaign in Libya. A TNC regime imposed on Libya by NATO would be at least as corrupt and repressive as the regime headed by Gaddafi.

Even as the TNC’s anti-democratic and mercenary character has become more apparent, however, the US and European powers have extended diplomatic recognition to it. Amid the factional infighting that followed Younis’s murder, the US, Britain and other countries have handed over Libyan embassies to Gaddafi’s opponents. At the same time, however, the same powers are keeping a tight rein on Libya’s overseas financial assets—to fund and maintain control over their fractious puppets in Benghazi.

The NATO powers’ decision to back a group like the TNC shows that their intervention in Libya never aimed to protect civilians or establish democracy, but to advance their strategic and economic ambitions. These include the domination of Libya’s substantial oil reserves and the establishment of a beachhead in North Africa, from which to control and suppress the emerging revolutionary movements in the region, above all in neighbouring Egypt.

For months, NATO ministers have been proclaiming the impending fall of Gaddafi. After the TNC’s military efforts ground to a halt, the focus shifted to speculation about an uprising in Tripoli or a coup against Gaddafi by elements of his regime. While Gaddafi has maintained his grip on power, the TNC in Benghazi is now fracturing. Moreover, the assassination of Younis will hardly inspire confidence among other Gaddafi loyalists to defect to the TNC.

Responding to the sacking of the TNC executive committee, the US State Department issued a statement declaring that it provided an opportunity for “reflection” and “renewal.” These bland remarks reflect Washington’s continued support for TNC president Jibril and his clique. At the same time, the US and the Europeans are no doubt exploring all options, including, as the Globe and Mail indicated, among the Islamist faction around Bushidra.

The intrigues and infighting in Benghazi serve to underline the neo-colonial character of the NATO military intervention in Libya. Only the building of a socialist movement based on the working class in Libya and the region—in opposition both to Gaddafi and his bourgeois opponents—can offer a progressive way out of the current political impasse.

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EAKING NEWS: NATO and Turkey Support Armed Rebels in Syria. Campaign to Recruit Muslim “Freedom Fighters”

by Michel Chossudovsky

The Western media has played a central role in obfuscating the nature of foreign interference in Syria including outside support to armed insurgents. In chorus they have described recent events in Syria as a “peaceful protest movement” directed against the government of Bashar Al Assad.

Recent developments in Syria point to a full-fledged armed insurgency, integrated by Islamist “freedom fighters”, supported, trained and equipped by NATO and Turkey’s High Command. According to Israeli intelligence sources:

NATO headquarters in Brussels and the Turkish high command are meanwhile drawing up plans for their first military step in Syria, which is to arm the rebels with weapons for combating the tanks and helicopters spearheading the Assad regime’s crackdown on dissent. Instead of repeating the Libyan model of air strikes, NATO strategists are thinking more in terms of pouring large quantities of anti-tank and anti-air rockets, mortars and heavy machine guns into the protest centers for beating back the government armored forces. (DEBKAfile, NATO to give rebels anti-tank weapons, August 14, 2011)

The delivery of weapons to the rebels is to be implemented “overland, namely through Turkey and under Turkish army protection….Alternatively, the arms would be trucked into Syria under Turkish military guard and transferred to rebel leaders at pre-arranged rendez-vous.” (Ibid, emphasis added)

NATO and the Turkish High command, also contemplate the development of a jihad involving the recruitment of thousands of freedom fighters, reminiscent of  the enlistment of  Mujahideen to wage the CIA’s jihad (holy war) in the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war:

Also discussed in Brussels and Ankara, our sources report, is a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish army would house these volunteers, train them and secure their passage into Syria. (Ibid, emphasis added)

These various developments point towards the possible involvement of Turkish troops inside Syria, which could potentially lead to a broader military confrontation between the countries, as well as a full-fledged “humanitarian” military intervention by NATO, which would be carried out in coordination with  the Alliance’s support to the insurgency.

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Blueprint For NATO Attack On Syria Revealed

Strike on Syria is technically feasible, former French general says
by Andrew Rettman

A Nato strike to disable the Syrian army is technically feasible according to experts, such as former French air chief Jean Rannou. But it could make the country’s internal situation worse.

Nato member countries would begin by using satellite technology to spot Syrian air defences. A few days later, warplanes, in larger numbers than Libya, would take off from the UK base in Cyprus and spend some 48 hours destroying Syrian surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and jets. Alliance aircraft would then start an open-ended bombardment of Syrian tanks and ground troops.

The scenario is based on analysts in the French military, from the specialist British publication Jane’s Defence Weekly and from Israel’s Channel 10 TV station.

The Syrian air force is said to pose little threat. It has around 60 Russian-made MiG-29s. But the rest – some 160 MiG-21s, 80 MiG-23s, 60 MiG-23BNs, 50 Su-22s and 20 Su-24MKs – is out of date.

Its latest SAMs could shoot down a handful of Nato pilots. In the past three years, Syria deployed hundreds of Russian-made SA-17s, which come up on radars for a very short time before firing. Israel in 2007 bombed a suspected nuclear site in Syria using a cyber attack cut electricity to air defences. The SA-17s are believed to be cyber-insulated and Israel might not share its secrets with Nato, however.

Syria in 2006 bought around 30 Russian-made Pantsyr-S1 anti-aircaft cannon…It has stocked up on modern SA-18 missiles from Belarus and Russia. But these are short-range weapons that would only pose a danger to Nato helicopters in a later stage of the operation.

There are also assymetric threats – Nato countries have vulnerable troops in Unifil, the UN mission in neighbouring Lebanon…

“I don’t see any purely military problems. Syria has no defence against Western systems … [But] it would be more risky than Libya. It would be a heavy military operation,” Jean Rannou, the former chief of the French air force, told EUobserver. He added that action is highly unlikely because Russia would veto a UN mandate, Nato assets are stretched in Afghanistan and Libya and Nato countries are in financial crisis.

Robert Baer, a former CIA officer in Syria, said there is small hope a Nato strike would bring peace: “Any force used on Syria would be a total shot in the dark, a hope the military under attack will turn on the regime. But when has this ever happened? It didn’t with [late Iraqi leader] Saddam or [Libyan leader] Gaddafi.”

Baer previously told this website the turmoil in Syria is more complicated than the image in mainstream media of a downtrodden Sunni Muslim majority calling for reform by the Shia Muslim ruling elite.

Alastair Crooke, a former MI6 officer and high-level EU advisor who runs an NGO in Beirut, backed up Baer’s views.

“Syrians want change. But whether Westerners believe it or not, most people in Damascus, in Aleppo, the middle classes, the merchant classes and the [sectarian] minorities believe Assad is the only person who can bring in reforms,” he said. “They fear two things above all else – civil war and Western intervention … They would like to avoid the example of Libya because it would lead them into civil war.”

Crooke said two important forces behind events are Sunni radicals and Syrian exile groups in France and the US.

He said the radicals follow the teaching of Abu Musab Zarqawi, a late Jordanian Islamist, who aimed to create a Sunni emirate in Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria called Bilad a-Sham. They are experienced urban guerillas who fought in Iraq and have outside finance. They infilitrate protests to attack Assad forces, as in Jisr al-Shagour in June, where they inflicted heavy casualties.

Crooke said the exile groups aim to topple the anti-Israeli regime. They are funded and trained by the US. They pay Sunni tribal chiefs to put people on the streets, work with NGOs to feed uncorroborated stories of atrocities to Western media and co-operate with radicals in the hope that escalating violence will justify Nato intervention.

“There is a huge difference with [the revolution in] Egypt,” he added. “But the picture you see in the European and American press is that you are dealing with peaceful protests and that Assad has nothing better than to do than to kill his own people.”

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Western media lie about Syria – eyewitness reports

by ­Nadezhda Kevorkova and Anhar Kochneva

A photo released by the Syrian Arab news Agency (SANA) on April 27, 2011, shows one of 6 coffins of a killed member of either the army or security forces being taken from the October Military hospital in Damascus to their towns and villages for burial, following several days of unrest (AFP Photo)

A photo released by the Syrian Arab news Agency (SANA) on April 27, 2011, shows one of 6 coffins of a killed member of either the army or security forces being taken from the October Military hospital in Damascus to their towns and villages for burial, following several days of unrest (AFP Photo)

While media reports paint a picture of the situation in Syria as a mass public uprising brutally suppressed by the dictatorial government, the events are viewed in a totally different way by those living there.

RT caught up with Anhar Kochneva, director of a Moscow-based tourist firm specializing in the Middle East. She often travels to Syria, and stays in touch with hundreds of people in the region. She shared what her contacts say about the unfolding unrest and who they blame for the spreading violence.

RT: What’s happening in Syria? What have you seen? And that are the Syrians saying?

Anhar Kochneva: Not even once did I come across anyone who would in any way support these riots; and mind you, in the line of my job, I deal with all sorts of people. There are many vehicles with the president’s portraits driving the streets throughout the country – ranging from old, barely moving crankers to brand new Porsches and Hummers. You can’t force people into hanging up portraits. It means that people, irrespective of their status and income, support the president rather than the rebellion. I saw quite a number of young people walking or driving around with Syrian flags. How can you force a young person hanging out with friends to wave flags? I think it’s difficult too. If you understand the mentality of the Syrians you can tell there is a sincere impulse from a forced obligation.

On March 29, I saw a rally in Hama to support the president – indeed, many thousands of men and women, with their children, and entire families went out. The streets were flooded with people. It was quite a shock to see Al-Jazeera presenting rallies in support of the president as if they were protests against him. It was just as surprising to see the Israeli websites post photos and videos of supporters’ rallies with comments saying those were opponents of the regime. There you have people holding portraits of Bashar al-Assad and flags, and we’re told that these people are against him.

RT: The media reports mass anti-government rallies.

AK: There’s a powerful misinformation swell going on. On April 1, the media reported a large anti-governmental rally in Damascus. I was in Damascus on that day. This rally never happened – I didn’t see it, and neither did the locals.

On April 16, Reuters news agency wrote that 50,000 opponents of the regime took to the streets of Damascus, and that they had been dispersed with tear gas and batons. Damascus’ residents realize that such a rally could not take place in the city unnoticed. How many policemen would it take to disperse it? And how come nobody saw it except Reuters? Five hundred people in the streets of Damascus are a large crowd. Reuters broadcast their material around the world, including Russia. One source lies, and then this lie is like a snowball rolling downhill creating a fake reality, and picking up rumor and speculation.

People in Syria watch the footage. What do they see? A picture allegedly from Yemen. A picture allegedly from Egypt. A picture allegedly from Syria. But the pictures all show people dressed in the same fashion. People in Syria can tell their fellow countrymen from their neighbors – both by their faces and their clothes.

There are videos on the internet showing how amateur footage of the so-called riots is made. There’s a parked car and nothing’s going on around. And there’s a man standing next to it throwing rocks. And people around are taking pictures.

There are a lot of staged videos. A Lebanese can tell the difference between footage taken in Lebanon and that taken in Damascus at a glance. And they show footage from Tripoli, or footage taken several years ago in Iraq, and say it is unrest in Syria.

There are many online forums for women in Arab countries. Women share information following TV reports on ‘mass unrests’. Women write – what’s happening outside your window? And they reply: we looked down from the balcony, and didn’t see anything that the TV was talking about.

Presently, a lot of young unarmed policemen get killed. The media propaganda immediately labels them as victims of the regime. I repeat, policemen are unarmed. The Syrian police are not too good with guns, because nothing like this has happened here for a long time. But the killed rookies are reported as either victims among the protestors, or as policemen who refused to shoot at their fellow countrymen, depending on the editors’ preference. Goebbels’ words seem to be true: the bigger the lie, the more easily they believe it.

RT: But why are policemen dying if there are no mass protests?

AK: Policemen die because they get shot by those who know that they are unarmed.

RT: Who shoots policemen?

AK: They talk a lot about it in Syria. Rumor has it that trained commandos came across the border from Iraq. People in Syria are well-aware that after the US occupied Iraq, they formed special squads there. They were killing people, stirring up conflicts between the Shiite and Sunni communities, and between Muslims and Christians; they were blowing up streets, markets, mosques and churches. Those terrorist attacks targeted civilians rather than the occupying regime.

Not long ago, they caught three such commandos in the outskirts of Damascus, when they were randomly shooting at people. They turned out to be Iraqis.

Syrian TV showed footage of somebody shooting at policemen and passers-by from bushes and rooftops. They occasionally get caught, and they either turn out to be Iraqis, or they admit that they were paid for it. Such militants were detained in Deraa and Latakia. They had US-made weapons.

The Lebanese security service intercepted several cars carrying weapons as they were coming into Lebanon. One such car was stopped coming from Iraq. There were American weapons in those cars too. Also there are reports about detained people who had large sums of money with them – with US dollars. These people carried expensive satellite phones that cannot be tapped by the Syrian security service.

In Syria, it is no longer a secret to anyone that the Americans have an unhindered opportunity to recruit and train the commandos in Iraq, and then send them wherever they want.

Hilary Clinton has already stated that if Syria cuts its relations with Iran and withdraws its support for Hamas and Hezbollah, the demonstrations would stop the next day. They don’t even bother to keep secret the hand instilling riots in Syria.

There’s plenty of evidence of foreign interference.

Finally, people say protestors are brought in from afar for the rallies. Those people speak and look differently from the locals. Nobody in the neighborhood knows them. Who rents the buses and finances the delivery of these people?  The question stands.

The former Syrian Vice-President Abdel Halim Khaddam had initiated the riots in the coastal regions. He had plundered half of the country. He was involved in corruption schemes and finally fled to the West. It was he who tried to accuse Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of assassinating the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. The Syrians firmly believe that Sayed Hariri had personally given a villa to Abdel Halim Khaddam for spreading this version of Rafic Hariri’s murder. But when that version fell apart and was not confirmed, the villa was taken away. Today, those who shot at cars in Banias are shouting: “We don’t want Bashar. We want Abdel Halim!”

There are peaceful and cultured opposition members in Banias who have been against al-Assad’s regime for many years. But they are shocked by what’s going on and do not support Khaddam at all. They say: “He’s a thief. He who stole most calls to fight corruption and thievery.”

RT: What role are Syrian emigrants playing in the Syrian destabilization? 

AK: It’s an open question. There was a leak claiming that Dan Feldman, Hillary Clinton’s special representative for the Middle East, met representatives of the Syrian opposition in Istanbul in mid-April and suggested the tactics for assassinations of civil and military officials. In less than three days, on April 19, several military officials had been brutally killed in Syria.  Not only were they attacked and shot dead, some victims of the attacks, including three teenage children of a Syrian general, who were in a car with him, were cut to pieces with sabres.

Murders committed with a high degree of brutality are aimed at intimidating the population. The news that children had been cut to pieces served that purpose quite well.

RT: Media reports used to say that the riots started after the arrest in the city of Deraa, in southern Syria, of several children writing anti-government slogans?  Is it really so? 

AK: All the children had been released very quickly. Moreover, the government-owned Syrian newspapers published the release orders.

RT: Have the troops been brought into Deraa? 

AK: Yes, troops are there. After an Islamic emirate had been proclaimed in Deraa, the local residents asked the government for help. Troops have been brought in. I’ve just seen the videos. The demonstrators published them on the internet and shortly after erased them. But people made copies. There are soldiers, and people come to them and talk peacefully. Nobody shoots anyone.

RT: Is there a sentiment in Syria that if it gets rid of Hamas support and the Palestinians and strike a peace deal with Israel, all the riots will end immediately? 

AK: No, there’s no such sentiment. There’s consolidation of society. The people are sticking together because they see that the enemy is extremely dangerous. For instance, previously I never heard anything except pop music and the recital of the Koran on the radio when I rode in a taxi. Now, patriotic music is coming from all cars. When Bashar al-Assad was speaking on television, the people who were listening to him at the market applauded him. You cannot force people to applaud a president who speaks on television.

RT: What has the public mood been in recent days? 

AK: People are afraid of going out. In some regions, people risked their lives to record with a secret camera how unidentified persons sneaked into a car, moved off and started shooting in all directions. This is how they are sowing panic in residential areas.

Bandits blocked a bridge on the road near the coast. Soon, the military pushed them back. One of my Syrian contacts told me: “you don’t need many people to plunge the country into trouble.”

Putting five people on a major road would be enough to paralyze the whole area. People are unable to deliver foodstuffs or reach hospitals. And the whole country is in shock because of a handful of bandits.

Now, Syrian television is making live broadcasts from various parts of Damascus and other cities for people to see how the situation is unfolding and how life is getting back to normal, whatever the Western media show.

It’s noteworthy that bandits intentionally tried to rouse hatred among various communities.  Recently, a sheikh was insulting the Druze, particularly women, in an address to the residents of the south. This video is being broadcast by the foreign media and is advertized on the internet. Nothing like that ever happened in Syria before. Provocations failed in Damascus though attempts were made to set religious communities against each other. Provocateurs lack support in rural areas too – the sowing campaign has started there.

The most massive demonstrations in Dera gathered 500 people. But they say 450 people have been killed.

RT: Has the government launched any reforms? 

AK: The government has lifted martial law and has allowed the staging of authorized rallies if permission for them is obtained five days ahead. Foreigners have been allowed to buy real estate. The Kurds have been granted citizenship. The Kurdish population didn’t have it before for a number of historical reasons. The government is opening business courses for women in northern Syria. Many provincial governors have been dismissed. Unfortunately, in some cases they were honest people. Like those who refused to free criminals from prison for bribes and had been targeted by smear campaigns in public for it.

RT: Have the number of flights to Syria been cut? 

AK: There are no tickets for Syria.  We wanted to dispatch a group of tourists to Syria but there were no air tickets to Damascus for April 30. But Russians are not fleeing from Syria. I have full information about it for my job.

Nadezhda Kevorkova, RT

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Leaked Plan of Western Governments for “Post-Gaddafi Libya”

by Tom Coghlan

Western governments have helped prepare a blueprint for a post-Gaddafi Libya that would retain much of the regime’s security infrastructure to avoid an Iraq-style collapse into anarchy.

The 70-page plan, obtained by London’s The Times, charts the first months after the fall of the Gaddafi regime. The document was drawn up by the National Transition Council in Benghazi with Western help.

Officials say the blueprint draws on lessons from the disastrous regime change in Iraq in 2003 and the rebel takeover in eastern Libya in March.

The plans are highly reliant on the defection of parts of the Gaddafi security apparatus to the rebels after his overthrow. This is likely to prove not only risky, but controversial, with many rebel fighters determined to sweep away all vestiges of the regime.

The document includes proposals for a 10,000-15,000 strong “Tripoli task force”, resourced and supported by the United Arab Emirates, to take over the Libyan capital, secure key sites and arrest high-level Gaddafi supporters.

Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar. End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar. It claims 800 serving Gaddafi government security officials have been recruited covertly to the rebel cause and are ready to form the “backbone” of a new security apparatus.

The blueprint contains plans for about 5000 police officers now serving in units not ideologically committed to the Gaddafi regime to be transferred immediately to the interim government’s forces to prevent a security vacuum.

The documents claim that the rebel groups in Tripoli and surrounding areas have 8660 supporters, including 3255 in the Gaddafi army.

A mass defection by high-ranking officials is considered highly likely, with 70 per cent of them judged to support the regime out of fear alone.

The authors of the report also believe the escalation of NATO attacks to an “unbearable” level is a strong possibility.

The NTC in Benghazi confirmed the authenticity of the planning documents, but asked that The Times withhold details that could endanger rebel supporters working in Tripoli.

The rebel government’s ambassador to the UAE and the head of the planning cell for the task force, Aref Ali Nayed, expressed regret the document had been leaked. But he said: “It is important that the general public (in Libya) knows there is an advance plan, and it is now a much more advanced plan.”

The document shows detailed planning for key security, telecommunications, power and transport infrastructure – as well as for the country’s famous classical ruins – to be secured in the hours after the regime’s collapse .

Rebel leaders express concern in the document that Tripoli’s population should not feel they are being “invaded” by troops from eastern Libya. Significantly, there are no plans to deploy rebel forces from the east in Tripoli. Instead “sections of Nafusa Mountain and Zentan freedom fighters” from the west would be moved to the capital and media messages would stress that there is “no external imposition on Tripolitanians”. Most of Tripoli’s interim security force would come from the city.

An internationally backed one-month program for the emergency supply of $US550 million ($532m) of gas and petrol to western Libya would begin immediately after the regime’s fall in an effort to restore normal life.

There is also a UN-supported program to deliver immediate humanitarian aid, including bottled water, by land, sea and air, with support from key Muslim countries such as the UAE, Qatar and Turkey.

In the first minutes after the announcement that Gaddafi is no longer in control, a pre-recorded program of announcements by rebel leaders and clerics would initiate the Tripoli task force plan, call for calm and warn against revenge attacks on regime supporters. An FM radio station has already been prepared for the purpose in a nearby country. In the event of Gaddafi being killed or deposed, “strategic communications” planning suggests the NTC and its Western backers would be prepared to negotiate with his sons or what are described as “regime captains”.

A series of lessons learnt from the takeover in Benghazi warns against the creation of multiple rebel groups in Tripoli and calls for a “clear plan to deal with a hostile fifth column”.

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