Archive | September 24th, 2011

Palestinian boy loses eye in Zio-Nazi quelling of demonstrators

A Palestinian child lost his right eye on Wednesday when Zio-Nazi occupation forces fired teargas canisters at demonstrators near Qalandia in occupied Jerusalem.

Medical sources said that 13-year-old Ahed Wahdan was seriously injured in his left eye when a teargas canister hit him in the face.

They said that he was carried to Ramallah government hospital then to the eye hospital in Jerusalem from where he is expected to be moved to Hadassah hospital in view of his critical condition.

IOF soldiers used rubber bullets and teargas to disperse Palestinian demonstrators who were throwing stones at the soldiers.

The medical sources noted that ten Palestinians were treated on the field for rubber bullet injuries.

Zio-Nazi Soldiers in plain clothes were deployed in the area to chase and nab those throwing stones and succeeded in detaining a number of them.

Jewish settler runs over Palestinian child east of al-Khalil

Eight-year old Farid Taleb Jaber was seriously injured Friday afternoon as a result of a hit and run by a car driven by Nazi settler in the southern West Bank city of al-Khalil.

Nazi settler drove the car into the boy who was walking onto the pavement in the eastern neighbourhood of Baqaa and did not stop.

IOF troops and an Israeli ambulance arrived at the scene and the boy was taken to Keryat Arba hospital but was then taken to Ein Karem Hadassa hospital because his injuries are serious.

Clashes broke out between IOF troops and local youth in the same area after the incident. The occupation troops beat locals up bruising some of them and arrested Farid Jaber and Yahya Jaber both relatives of the child who was run over by the settler.

Nazi Settlers attacks on Palestinians close to Jewish colonies in the West Bank have been on the rise lately.

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Bill Clinton: Netanyahu isn’t interested in Mideast peace deal

Former U.S. President says a cynical perspective of Prime Minister’s calls for negotiations ‘means that he’s just not going to give up the West Bank’.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is responsible for the inability to reach a peace deal that would end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, former U.S. President Bill Clinton said on Thursday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York, the former U.S. president was quoted by Foreign Policy magazine as claiming that Netanyahu lost interest in the peace process as soon as two basic Israelis demands seemed to come into reach: a viable Palestinian leadership and the possibility of normalizing ties with the Arab world.

“The Israelis always wanted two things that once it turned out they had, it didn’t seem so appealing to Mr. Netanyahu,” Clinton said, adding that Israel wanted “to believe they had a partner for peace in a Palestinian government, and there’s no question — and the Netanyahu government has said — that this is the finest Palestinian government they’ve ever had in the West Bank.”

Furthermore, the former U.S. president is quoted by Foreign Policy as saying that Israel was also on the verge of being recognized by Arab nations adding that the “king of Saudi Arabia started lining up all the Arab countries to say to the Israelis, ‘if you work it out with the Palestinians … we will give you immediately not only recognition but a political, economic, and security partnership.”

“This is huge…. It’s a heck of a deal,” Clinton said, adding: “That’s what happened. Every American needs to know this. That’s how we got to where we are.”

“The real cynics believe that the Netanyahu’s government’s continued call for negotiations over borders and such means that he’s just not going to give up the West Bank,” he added.

Clinton also said he felt the Palestinians would accept the deal rejected by former PA President Yasser Arafat in 2000 negotiations with then Prime Minister Ehud Barak, saying that Palestinian leaders “have explicitly said on more than one occasion that if [Netanyahu] put up the deal that was offered to them before — my deal — that they would take it.”

“For reasons that even after all these years I still don’t know for sure, Arafat turned down the deal I put together that Barak accepted,” he was quoted by Foreign Policy as saying. “But they also had an Israeli government that was willing to give them East Jerusalem as the capital of the new state of Palestine.”

Clinton also added, as to the chances of Mideast peace being achievable in the foreseeable future, in light of past failures, saying that the “two great tragedies in modern Middle Eastern politics, which make you wonder if God wants Middle East peace or not, were [Yitzhak] Rabin’s assassination and [Ariel] Sharon’s stroke.”

Clinton’s comments come as a Palestinian delegation headed by Abbas is planned to officially submit its statehood bid to the United Nations later Friday, with both Palestinian President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu scheduled to address the General Assembly.

Despite heavy pressure from the West, Abbas remained determined to formally apply for UN recognition of a Palestinian state Friday.

U.S. President Barack Obama met with Abbas Thursday night in an effort to convince him not to seek Security Council recognition, warning that the U.S. would use its veto power to block it. Lower-level American officials also met with Abbas several times, but to no avail.

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, reiterated on Thursdays that Abbas’ statehood bid will not contribute to the peace process and will merely delay the start of negotiations – which, she added, are the only way the Palestinians can actually achieve independence.

American officials also continued their effort to mobilize enough Security Council votes to defeat the statehood bid without a U.S. veto. Germany has already announced it won’t vote yes, and Rice said she is convinced other countries will do the same. America, she said, is not the only country to realize that the UN gambit is unproductive.

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Syria: The revolution will be weaponised

Journalist Nir Rosen discusses armed struggle with army officers who have defected to join the opposition.

Nir Rosen

Editor’s noteAl Jazeera special correspondent Nir Rosen spent seven weeks travelling throughout Syria with unique access to all sides. He visited Daraa, Damascus, Homs, Hama, Latakia and Aleppo to explore the uprising and growing internal conflict. In the first article of his series he meets with leaders of the armed opposition in Homs. Names of some of the indivduals quoted have been changed to protect their identities. 

Homs – On August 31, I met up with a trusted acquaintance called Abu Omar (not his real name). I had been waiting for this meeting with anticipation, as the people involved were extremely hard to reach. They were constantly evading the regime.

Abu Omar called the night before to let me know it was going to happen. The next morning I awoke excited. Adding to my nervous energy, the mobile network in town was shut off. Unable to call Abu Omar, I decided to go to the café near where we had last met, hoping he would find me.

Concurrently, he was sitting in the car near where he had last dropped me off, hoping I would find him. Two hours after the pre-arranged time, he pulled up to the café. He asked me what devices I had and instructed me to remove the batteries from my mobile phone.

We drove north to Rastan, a city with a strong opposition presence. The last time I was there, several weeks earlier, I had counted 50 tanks along the perimeter of the town. As we drove toward the town, the scene was wholly different, not a single tank in sight. Rastan felt liberated.

Abu Omar was a senior coordinator in the country’s six-month-old uprising and was involved in opposition activities since 2007. He lamented that to date, the revolution had only succeeded in costing the lives of three thousand people.

“After Libya, many people said it was a mistake to have a peaceful revolution and if they had done it like the Libyans they would be free by now,” he said.

As I spent more time in Syria, I could see a clear theme developing in the discourse of the opposition: A call for an organised armed response to the government crackdown, mainly from the opposition within Syria. Demonstrators had hoped the holy month of Ramadan would be the turning point in their revolution, but as it came to an end – six months into the Syrian uprising – many realised the regime was too powerful to be overthrown peacefully.

Previously, on August 25, I met with a senior opposition leader in Damascus’ large suburb of Harasta, an anti-regime stronghold. The government had cracked down harshly on demonstrations there, though the armed opposition had been able to kill many members of the security forces.

“In the end we cannot be free without weapons,” the leader said. “It’s necessary, but not by the people, by the army; we need defections.”

A few days later, on August 28, I attended an anti-regime demonstration in the Bab Assiba neighbourhood of Homs. Demonstrators there were calling for a no-fly zone, much like the one imposed over Libya. Many of them hoped for international intervention.

In Rastan, Abu Omar introduced me to Firas – an organiser of the nightly anti-regime demonstrations. Firas (not his real name) asked me how much justification NATO needed before it intervened. It would be better if NATO helped without the destruction of infrastructure that had taken place in Libya, he said.

Anatomy of the opposition  

[The opposition is] mostly young. They are free thinking. They don’t believe Dunya TV (a pro-regime channel).

– Abu Omar, senior opposition leader

Along with the army, the country has several intelligence and security services tasked with preserving order. Protesters correctly surmise that any defections will come from the heavily Sunni army and not various security forces, which are primarily staffed by Alawites, the heterodox sect of President Bashar al-Assad.

The opposition is loath to admit it but they are effectively all Sunni. The diverse ethnic makeup of Syria makes for a complicated map of allegiances within the country. Christians, by and large, support the regime out of fear of the unknown realities of a post-Assad Syria, while the Druze are sitting in the wings, waiting to see which side will emerge victorious. The Kurds, however, secretly hope for the regime to collapse.

Such is the segregation, that those who support the opposition know little about those who support the regime, and vice versa. They watch and believe different news media, they attend funerals for different “martyrs”, (dead security forces or dead opposition supporters), and they believe the worst rumours about each other and are increasingly divided by an unbridgeable gap.

In the propaganda war being waged between opponents and supporters of the Syrian regime, the nature and make up of the opposition has been a key point. Opponents of the regime insist that the opposition is entirely peaceful and if any security forces have been killed it is only at the hands of other security forces in order to blame the opposition. Defenders of the regime describe the opposition as Salafi terrorists, arms dealers, drug smugglers, mercenaries or criminals.

The overwhelming majority of the opposition is peaceful and unarmed.

For some it is a question of principal or strategy; for many it is simply because they do not have access to weapons that would be useful against the powerful Syrian security forces. There are various different armed opposition actors in Syria. Together they have killed around 700 hundred members of the Syrian security forces in various clashes and ambushes.

The most organised and professional armed opposition members are those who are deserters from the army. However, it is important to point out they have not deserted with their weapons and it is not entire units that are deserting, currently just individuals. In much of the country young men arm themselves or are provided weapons by wealthier people to protect themselves from the onslaught of security forces.

[The defectors] saw there is no justice in the army, that they cannot advance in the army, and what was happening to the people, who are their family.

– Abu Omar, senior opposition leader

There are also local self-defence militias and armed civilians throughout various villages and slums. Though many are socially and religiously conservative, they do not appear to consider themselves mujahedin or otherwise fit the stereotype of Islamic extremists. Accordingly, individuals have told me that Islam does provide them with inspiration and strength but they do not fight for Islam and their goals are generally secular.

Abu Omar is a senior opposition leader in Homs who coordinates with the defecting military personnel. These defectors are not very religious, Abu Omar told me. “They drink, they have girlfriends,” he said. “They are mostly young. They are free thinking. They don’t believe Dunya TV (a pro-regime channel). They saw there is no justice in the army, that they cannot advance in the army, and what was happening to the people, who are their family.”

Back in Rastan

We were told to drive to a certain corner at a certain time. We arrived and saw a car on the opposite corner. Inside were three men each with an equally stern gaze.

I was worried that they were with the regime and we had been set up. Another car was parked on the corner diagonal to us. Abu Omar got out, walked to it and spoke to the men inside. We followed a lead car while being tailgated by another.

Abu Omar told me that several other cars were watching us. We drove towards the outskirts of town past some orchards and stopped by a house under construction.

A man got out of the car in front, and headed towards the car I was sitting in. He was tall and wore the uniform of a first lieutenant in the Syrian army with a patch from the 5th Special Forces unit, a pistol in his belt and his pants tucked into black military boots. As he came over he gestured that I follow him, without much recourse I hesitantly complied.

He took me to a stairwell and handed me a tracksuit and a pair of sneakers and told me to change. I undressed down to my underwear. We were clearly both a bit uncomfortable.

They did not give me a shirt, so I put on the track jacket that was a couple of sizes too small for me. It was also inappropriately warm for the summer. The training pants weren’t much better either – I felt nervous, uncomfortable and to top it off very sweaty. He asked me to open my mouth and looked up and down it and then in my ears and felt my scalp.

We left my clothes in Abu Omar’s car and entered the leas car. Inside was a Kalashnikov. Adding to my physical discomfort, they gave me a thin ski mask and asked me to put it on in reverse so it covered my eyes. However, once it was stretched out on my face I could just about see through it. It was hot and uncomfortable.

They gave me a thin ski mask and asked me to put it on in reverse so it covered my eyes … I felt claustrophobic and trapped.

– Nir Rosen, journalist

I felt claustrophobic and trapped. I could hear my own breathing louder than usual as we bounced around on a rough road.

In eight years of working in conflict zones with armed groups I had never been told to put a mask on. Abu Omar told me it was also for my protection so people outside would not recognise me. “Do you trust these people?” I whispered to Abu Omar.

“Its too late now,” he laughed at me.

The driver communicated with some people on his walkie talkie, informing them of his whereabouts and asking them what was happening where they were. We drove around for a few minutes and pulled up to another orchard.

I took off the mask. We continued to walk behind a house, and proceeded to sit on some plastic chairs that sunk into the soft dirt, under the shade of some fruit trees. Someone brought us coffee and water; my hands trembled as I drank. Suddenly the silence was broken by a couple of gunshots. Immediately my mind flashed images of being ambushed by security forces. The man got on his radio to inquire about the shots but he didn’t seem too phased.

“We are free officers rejecting the oppression of people and we are protecting the innocent people,” first lieutenant Muhamad Abdelaziz Tlass of the 5th special forces told me. I was with a leader of the Khalid bin al Walid brigade of the Free Officers’ Battalion. The other unit of deserters in Homs was called the Salahedin Victory brigade.

Homs was the centre of armed opposition in Syria. Rastan was the centre for the armed opposition in Homs. There were also deserters operating in Jabal Azzawiya in the north and Daraa in the south. Most of them had deserted from different units on May 30.

Tlass estimated the number of deserters in and around Homs at 500, however many defectors did not have rifles and only stocked with a few rocket propelled grenades (RPGs). Most of the men were originally from Homs, he said. They were mostly from the army because the regime controlled the security units.

“After the year 2000 they recruited Alawites to the security services,” he said. “The regime is Alawite and security forces are the ones doing the killing. The government has convinced Alawites that this is an existential battle for them but this is not true.”

The resistance strikes back

One of my soldiers saw a big demonstration on Al Jazeeraand asked me ‘Sir, is it possible this is in Syria and they are really asking for the fall of the regime?’

– 1st Lieutenant Muhamad Abdelaziz Tlass, Free Officer

Tlass claimed their first operation occurred on June 20 when they defended a demonstration. Military security ordered an armoured personnel vehicle belonging to the army to shoot at a demonstration. Four children were killed and he claimed security forces killed an army general for refusing to shoot. But it was more likely that the deserting soldiers had killed the general.

“Our people tried to defend the demonstration,” he said. “We stopped the security forces from killing more and battled with them.” He claimed they killed six security force members. “It hurts us when they get killed,” Abu Omar said, “they don’t know why they are fighting.”

In Homs, the resistance was commanded by a major but the highest ranking deserting officer was a colonel, they told me. They were mostly young because young officers were less restricted in their thought. The older officers have a strong historical memory of the harsh suppression of the Hama armed uprising in 1982.

“The army is not loyal to the government,” he told me, “but they control media so they don’t know the real situation on the ground. One of my soldiers saw a big demonstration on Al Jazeera and asked me ‘sir is it possible this is in Syria and they are really asking for the fall of the regime?'”

He told me that the personal mobile phones of soldiers were taken away and even officers were denied access to satellite television so they would only be able to watch state controlled television. The daily reports the government gave the army were written by security forces, he said, and helped motivate soldiers to kill civilians and convince them that civilian demonstrators were terrorists, provocateurs, traitors, foreign agents and Salafi extremists.

According to Tlass, in 2004 the defense ministry became overwhelmed by Alawites and fell under their control, with all senior positions allocated for the minority sect. He explained that this was the reason the army remained strong behind the regime. Though these officers controlled the army, “the army is with the people”, he said.

The opposition is still debating on whether to announce an armed revolution [GALLO/GETTY]

The issue of scaling up

The officer in civilian clothes told me they lacked the ability to initiate large operations.

“Our revolution is peaceful still and we don’t have weapons,” he said, “but it is time to arm the revolution, especially after Libya. Six months without results, and the number of dead …” He trailed off, but estimated the dead were five thousand, double the official number.

They were hoping for a no-fly zone because they believed this would encourage entire units to desert along with their vehicles without having to worry about being attacked by the regime’s helicopters or fighter planes.

It was a flawed logic though because the international community had little pretext for a no-fly zone when the Syrian regime had not yet used its aircraft to attack people and there was no concern for an imminent massacre as had been claimed would happen in Libya.

Our revolution is peaceful still and we don’t have weapons … but it is time to arm the revolution.

– 1st Lieutenant Muhamad Abdelaziz Tlass, Free Officer

In addition, Libyan rebels liberated Benghazi from the Gaddafi regime and used it as a base to launch their military and political operations with international assistance. Benghazi was over 1,000km away from Tripoli and the desert terrain made it easy for NATO forces to destroy any regime vehicles on the road. In Syria, there is no equivalent of Benghazi.

In fact there is no remote region that can successfully be severed. Daraa, by the southern border, is 45 minutes away from Damascus, the capital. Idlib by the northern border is 45 minutes away from Aleppo, the country’s commercial hub. Syrian towns are too close to each other and the terrain is more mountainous and full of trees. There is no indigenous Syrian force that can seize control of a city, yet. The armed opposition fighters had not even succeeded in holding on to rebellious Hama. They could not properly defend slums like Ramel in Latakia and Bab Assiba in Homs even though the urban terrain favored defenders.

The men I was meeting claimed to operate in all of Syria and indeed up to 700 members of the Syrian security forces had been killed since the start of the uprising, though most had been killed in clashes with unorganised but armed locals of villages and poor neighbourhoods. They had recently ambushed and killed an Alawite battalion commander on the road from Hama to Homs.

“He had given orders to kill many civilians,” Tlass said. I interjected that they [opposition] must have had good intelligence. “We have many eyes,” the officer in civilian clothes said.

In the middle of our conversation he got a call on his radio. “We have to go,” he stood up.

Everybody unceremoniously and quickly got in their vehicles and drove away. I started to panic that we were going to be attacked and again I imagined being gunned down in a hail of bullets. Fortunately for all concerned, this was not the case and I got up and returned to the same stairwell where I changed clothes. The two cars led us out a bit and then turned away.

Two days later I was watching Al Jazeera in Damascus when I saw the same first lieutenant Tlass with several soldiers standing behind him formally declaring that he was deserting and joining the Khalid bin al Walid brigade.


“We did not decide to declare this revolution armed yet.

– 1st Lieutenant Muhamad Abdelaziz Tlass, Free Officer

Within the ranks of the opposition’s civilian leadership there is a debate over which course to take. A repeat of the Libya scenario and international military intervention is unlikely. Mostly peaceful demonstrations have failed to shake the foundations of the regime. But an openly armed rebellion would support the regime’s narrative and might also lead to a harsher crackdown.

Until now the regime’s response has actually been relatively restrained compared to the violence it is capable of unleashing.

“We did not decide to declare this revolution armed yet,” Abu Omar told me.

The civilian opposition within Syria was debating whether it was appropriate to declare an armed revolution, he said, explaining why they had not yet broadcast videos of their operations even though on the street in Homs everybody knew about them.

“They say they resigned from the military to defend the civilians but most of their operations involve attacking checkpoints,” he said. “They say ‘we attack the ones who attack us; this is our way of defending civilians.'”

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Ken O’Keefe on HARDTalk 2010



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Pakistan Challenges US to Prove Allegations, Warns US Not to Invade Tribal Areas

Tensions between the US and Pakistan appear to have reached a boiling point today, with Admiral Michael Mullen accusing the Haqqani Network of being a “veritable arm” of the Pakistani military’s spy agency, and claimed Pakistan had direct involvement in the attack on the US embassy in Kabul.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik was quick to respond, saying that if the US was going to persist with such accusations they ought to provide some sort of evidence. He also added that if the US wanted Pakistan to move against the Haqqanis they should provide them the intelligence on their locations.

Malik also warned the US not to invade, following repeated US comments suggesting a ground operation may be in the offing, saying that Pakistan would “not allow the boots on our ground, never”and that cooperation with the US would continue so long as Pakistan’s sovereignty is respected.

The Obama Administration has dramatically ratcheted up the rhetoric with respect to the Haqqani Network over the past several weeks, dismissing public claims of responsibility for terrorist attacks by the Afghan Taliban to claim that they were secretly Haqqani plots. Though this first moved toward claims Pakistan wasn’t invading its own tribal areas often enough, it seems to have morphed into elaborate accusations of Pakistan as a state sponsor of terror.

US Hypocritically Accuses Pakistan of Funding Terrorist Proxies

A decade of abuse and mistreatment of Pakistanis has not stopped the US from criticizing Pakistan for interference

Admiral Mike Mullen said that the Inter Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, is supporting militant extremists in the Haqqani network in Afghanistan, at a Senate hearing on Thursday.

With rising insurgent violence in Afghanistan – including a deadly 20-hour assault on the US Embassy in Kabul, which the US blamed on the Haqqani network – the US is starting to lose its grip, especially as domestic pressure to bring the troops home increases. Pointing the finger at Pakistan after years of silence on the issue is a sign that the chips are down and so the blame game has become an attractive way to justify more militarism.

Experts have suspected parts of the Pakistani government of having ties to militants for years, but the US has refused to offer any evidence in response to Pakistani requests to do so. What ties there are go back to Reagan administration policy of funneling money and weapons through Pakistan to Islamic fighters in Afghanistan against the Soviets. Some have pointed out that Pakistan’s reluctance to attack is based on a perception of national interest that the Haqqanis pose no threat to them and may in fact be useful to counter Indian influence in Afghanistan after American forces drawdown.

That the US government would begin to express frustration with Pakistani policy is rather ironic. For the past decade, the US has been throwing mountains of economic and military aid to the corrupt regime for cooperation in the fight against anti-American terrorism. During that time, the US has repeatedly violated Pakistani sovereignty without permission, conducting kill/capture operations with special operations forces an undisclosed number of times. Additionally, the drone program has been expanded many-fold, resulting in untold numbers of civilians casualties and increasing instability along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.

Mullen and others have accused the Pakistanis of conducting a proxy war through the Haqqanis in Afghanistan, claiming they’re supporting terrorism. Meanwhile, the US has been training, funding, and equipping a terrorist proxy force of their own in Afghanistan called the Afghan Local Police, recently accused by Human Rights Watch of “serious abuses, such as killings, rape, arbitrary detention, abductions, forcible land grabs, and illegal raids.” When the Pakistanis do it, the US calls it terrorism. When the US does it, it’s counter-terrorism.

“Only a decision to break with this policy can pave the road to a positive future for Pakistan,” Mullen said. The message to the Pakistanis is essentially a demand to obey the United States, or else. It has perhaps not occurred to national security planners that the whole mess could be moot if the US would simply pull out of Afghanistan, cutting their losses in a purposeless fight.

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Obama tells Israelis what they’ve been waiting to hear

It took some 34 months, but on Wednesday at the UN Israel finally heard the speech it wanted to hear from US President Barack Obama.

Gone were so many elements of previous Obama speeches on the Middle East that rankled so many Israelis, and left a taste in many people’s mouths that here was a president who simply did not get us; who did not understand our history, our daily reality, or our fears.

Gone was any reference to the settlements. Not in this speech were his words from Cairo in June 2009 that did so much to knock the diplomatic process off kilter: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.

This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.”

Gone were veiled comparisons between the Palestinian struggle and the US civil rights movement, as was done in his Cairo speech when, during his discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Obama said, “For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding.”

Gone too were infuriating hints that the Jewish people’s link to Israel was the result of its tragic history, not because Israel is the cradle of the Jewish people.

Gone too was the striving after perfect balance, talking about the Holocaust in one breath, and then saying in the very next, “On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.” No, this was a speech of an entirely different tone and tenor.

This was a speech in which the US president, speaking to the world, gave context to words that other world leaders will undoubtedly spew out over the next two days from the UN podium about Palestinian degradations and humiliations, about the evils of Israeli checkpoints and security barriers and defensive actions.

“Let us be honest with ourselves: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it,” Obama said. “Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile and persecution, and fresh memories of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are. Those are facts. They cannot be denied.”

That was a dose of empathy and understanding that goes a long way toward explaining much of Israeli policy, past and present. Looked through this prism, the security barrier isn’t a land grab, and Operation Cast Lead was not just another opportunity by a blood-thirsty people to persecute the Palestinians.

This was a dose of empathy and understanding Obama had not articulated strongly in the past. Had he mouthed these words during the first few months of his presidency, much of the tension in the US-Israeli relationship over the past twoand- a-half years could have been avoided.

Speaking to a body often obsessed with the difficult reality under which the Palestinians live, Obama urged the UN to consider the Israeli reality as well.

“This body – founded, as it was, out of the ashes of war and genocide, dedicated, as it is, to the dignity of every single person – must recognize the reality that is lived by both the Palestinians and the Israelis,” he said.

“The measure of our actions must always be whether they advance the right of Israeli and Palestinian children to live in peace and security, with dignity and opportunity.”

Obama did not jettison his desire to see a Palestinian state, he just gave articulate expression to the truth that it will only come about through talks. In the early days of the Obama tenure, when the president harped on the settlement issue, he created the impression that the US believed that if the settlements were just halted, then the Arab world would pitch in and take steps toward Israel, and everything else would fall into place.

On Wednesday, he acknowledged that there were no shortcuts, period. No magic formulas, no silver bullets. As he said, “I know that many are frustrated by a lack of progress. I assure you, so am I.” But this frustration seems to have begot a more realistic appreciation of what is, and what is not, possible.

He even spoke – although not directly – of something not often mentioned publicly by world leaders: of the need for the Palestinians to compromise as well.

“Ultimately, peace depends upon compromise among people who must live together long after our speeches are over, long after our votes have been tallied,” he said.

Cynics will argue that Obama doesn’t mean it, that he is just mouthing the words – pandering to the Jews, worried about reelection, recalibrating his message after a Democrat was roundly defeated by a Republican in a heavily Jewish congressional district that the Republicans have not represented in nearly 90 years.

No one can read into his heart, but the words – at this time, at that forum, in the matter in which they were expressed – do matter.

Obama’s top Middle East adviser Dennis Ross, in his 2004 book The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace, wrote that “Israel, given its small size and vulnerability, must feel secure if it was to make concessions for peace.

Could or would Israel feel safe enough to contemplate giving up territory – and inherently more defensible borders – if it questioned the US commitment to its security? “Similarly,” Ross wrote, “would the Arab world even believe it had to accommodate itself to Israel’s existence if it had reason to question the staying power of the US commitment to Israel?… Peacemaking required that the Arabs understand that no wedge would be driven between the United States and Israel, and that Israel was not going to disappear.”

At the UN podium on Wednesday, Obama sent a message – whatever the reasons for that message may have been – that between Israel and the US there will be no wedge. And that is not an insignificant message.

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Ahmadinejad: ‘Palestine will one day be liberated’

Iranian president to US university students: US should “stop supporting the Zionist regime,” dialogue with Israel won’t solve problems.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he believes “Palestine will one day be liberated,” saying the Iranian government believes it is the Palestinians’ right to establish a state, speaking with university students in New York on Wednesday.

It would be better for the United States, he added, to “stop supporting the Zionist regime,” the official Iranian IRNA news agency reported.

Entering dialogue with Israel, Ahmadinejad added, would not solve the Palestinians’s problems. He was referring to US President Barack Obama’s speech at the United Nations Wednesday, in which he said that only negotiations could lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Israel itself, he claimed, was established “in a bid to extend dominance over the Middle East.”

Addressing the Arab Spring and changes taking place throughout the Middle East, the Iranian president told students and teaching staff of several universities that recent events are a response to US hegemonic policies.

Middle Eastern nations, he said, are fed up with the “bullying” policies of the West.

Several days earlier, in an interview with American journalist Charlie Rose, Ahmadinejad also addressed the American hikers who were subsequently released from Iranian prison.

Asked about the case, Ahmadinejad said that he “would like to see all prisoners released,” especially political prisoners.

Questioned whether that statement applies to political prisoners in Iran, he denied that the Islamic Republic has any political prisoners, saying the state’s law doesn’t allow for it.

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Ahmadinejad: ‘Palestine will one day be liberated’

Obama courts (grovels for) Jewish vote with UN speech

by crescentandcross 

US president’s aides advise Jewish leaders on his pro-Israel address prior to General Assembly speech in order to ensure ‘message is received’

Hours before his UN General Assembly address, US President Barack Obama sought to ensure that prospective Jewish voters pay close attention to his speech.

Three of Obama’s aides held a conference call with the president’s Jewish supporters and community leaders on Wednesday, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

The advisers, all Jewish themselves, asked the supporters to “spread the word” that Obama will give a pro-Israel speech which reflects his own genuine positions and implored them to pay close attention to the president’s UN address.

The advisers chosen for the task were Ira Foreman, former head of the National Jewish Democratic Council; Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee; and Robert Wexler, former House of Representative member closely associated with the president.

The three stressed that the Republicans intentionally distort Obama’s statements to portray him as an anti-Israel president, when in fact their arguments are baseless.

They mentioned recent praise words given to Obama by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, reminding the Jewish leaders that Obama never demanded Israel to withdraw to the 1967 lines.

“You know the facts,” they said, “now spread the word.”

Prior to the conference call, an event took place in New York which may have influenced the White House move.

Leading Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry held a press conference where he referred to Obama’s Israel policy as naïve, condescending and dangerous. The president’s staff apparently decided to launch a counter-campaign.


  1. funky d says:

    obama to spread the word whilst his jewish handlers spread their seed over him.

  2. Ingrid B says:

    pure farce..

  3. DR.NUR says:

    to understand the present it is good to know he past:


    Channel 5 documentary reveals US plans to destroy the UK.

    A UK TV documentary has revealed the USA’s top secret ‘War Plan Red’:

    America’s Planned War On Britain: Revealed Channel 5




    The US military must now be happy.

    Britain no longer has its Empire.

    And the CIA appears to exercise control over Britain’s institutions.

    Mountbatten was killed by a bomb in 1979.

    In an interview with The Guardian on 9 January 1984, former UK government minister Enoch Powell claimed that the Americans murdered Lord Mountbatten and Margaret Thatcher’s friend Airey Neave.

    “The Mountbatten murder was a high-level ‘job’ not unconnected with the nuclear strategy of the United States” (Guardian 9th January 1984).

    Mountbatten was said to be in favour of nuclear disarmament.

    Powell claimed the evidence came from a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary with whom he had a conversation. (Simon Heffer, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell, 1999, p. 881.)

    12 October 1984 bomb – Grand Hotel Brighton

    In the USA, in November 1982, five men were acquitted of smuggling arms to the IRA after they revealed that the CIA had approved the shipment.[98]

    On 12 October 1984, a bomb went off at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, England.

    The bomb, planted by Patrick Magee, a member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), was intended to kill Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet, who were staying at the hotel for the Conservative Party conference.

    The Irish National Liberation Army was a rival to the Official IRA, and may have been set up in order to weaken the Nationalist cause.

    There is a theory that many of the Irish terror groups were Mafias run by elements of the CIA and MI6. It was all about making money from drugs and guns.

    Kevin Fulton, a former British soldier claimed that he had flown to New York, met FBI and MI5 agents and was given money to buy an infra-red device to be used to set off IRA bombs. (Congress probes ‘IoS’ revelations on IRA link.)

    The INLA murdered 113 people in the 80s and 90s.

    Neave was murdered in 1979.

    When Margaret Thatcher’s close friend Airey Neave was assassinated in 1979, in a car-bomb attack at a House of Commons carpark, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) was among the groups that claimed responsibility for the assassination.

    Journalist Paul Routledge, in his book Public Servant Secret Agent, floated the idea that Neave was killed by people within MI6 and the CIA.

    In 2002, Journalist Paul Donovan wrote, in the Irish Democrat, about “A tangled web of intrigue”

    According to Donovan:

    1. Neave sought to clean up the corruption within the security services.

    2. Neave was killed by a bomb. Gerald James, former chief of the armaments firm Astra Holdings, wrote that the mercury switch on the bomb was only available to the CIA at the time.

    3. Enoch Powell claimed that the CIA wanted a united Ireland within NATO.

    What is the evidence of US influence in the UK?

    A. The Americans seem to have very strong links to certain UK politicians and people in the military.

    The Sunday Herald has discovered that about half the parliamentary questions tabled by Lord Moonie, the former UK defence minister, ‘relate to areas of commercial interest to US-based Northrop Grumman Corporation.’

    Moonie is a consultant to Northrop Grumman IT.

    Moonie has been accused of being one of four Labour lords ready to accept money in return for helping amend legislation. Moonie, 61, said he would make introductions in return for £30,000 a year. – Cash for questions: new row over Scottish lord’s £30k deal

    B. According to Private Eye (UK), August 2005:

    Sir Robert Walmsley, former head of UK defence procurement, procured himself a job as director of US arms firm the EDO Corporation.

    Admiral lord Boyce, the chief of the UK defence staff who retired in 2003, became an adviser to the American Computer Sciences Corporation in 2004. Boyce told Private Eye that he advised CSC on its bid for a £6 billion defence contract.

    “Sir Clive Whitmore, the Ministry of Defence’s top civil servant at the time of the monster and totally corrupt al-Yamamah arms deal with Saudi Arabia, shares his Directorship of NM Rothschild with the Old Harrovian Charles Guthrie.” – Lord Guthrie supporting the Military Industrial complex … and Israel

    C. Britain’s leaders all seem to work for the CIA.

    “When Gordon Brown was a student at the University of Edinburgh… the young Labour and anti-apartheid activist was handed a list by an individual known to be a top CIA agent based in Britain.

    “On the list were the names of a number of British socialists and anti-apartheid activists. Although Brown was said not to have known of his American contact’s intelligence ties at the time, the British intelligence sources revealed that Brown has been on the CIA’s payroll ever since he took possession of the list.” – Columns: ‘Washington watch’ by Tumbler Prospect Magazine July …

    Brown, agent of the CIA?

    D. Britain’s military now appears to be run by the Pentagon and Britain’s nuclear missiles are American-controlled. – Anger as Britain secretly sells off its stake in Aldermaston …

    E. The CIA seems to be able to control Britain’s police and courts, when it suits them. – LOCKERBIE BOMBING EVIDENCE ‘PLANTED’ – Mail on Sunday 21 December 2008

    Victor Rothschild worked for the British security services. Was he also working for Mossad?

    F. In 1965 Angleton, and President Johnson, decided to commission a report on Britain’s secret services.

    This report recommended sending more spies to Britain It seemed that the CIA was going to treat Britain like Indonesia or Pakistan.

    In order to ensure that there was an elite which would support US interests, the CIA would try to gain control of MI5 and MI6, use dirty tricks to get rid of anti-American politicians, and place pro-American puppets into positions of power.

    In 1996, in the Guardian, Martin Kettle suggested that New Labour was all about Britain being in with the Americans.

    G. In a talk to Labour Party branches in 1996, Robin Ramsay (Lobster Magazine) pointed out some interesting links between New labour and the USA.

    Jonathan Powell, Blair’s top man in Downing Street, used to work in Britain’s Washington embassy and is suspected by some of having been our spook liaising with the CIA.

    Brown’s top aid Edward Balls went to Harvard.

    Gordon Brown spent his holidays in the library at Harvard.

    The US encouraged large numbers of Labour MPs to take free trips to America (Israel also invited a large number of Labour MPs to Israel).

    In 1986 Tony Blair went on a US-sponsored trip to America and came back a supporter of the nuclear deterrent.

    In 1993 Blair attended a Bilderberg Group meeting (secretive right wing organisation) and not long afterwards became Labour leader.

    Four of the Blair cabinet have been members of the Anglo-American elite group the British American Project; three of the Blair cabinet have attended Bilderberg meetings.

    Peter Mandelson become Chair of British Youth Council which began as the British section of the World Assembly of Youth, which was set up and financed by MI6 and then taken over by the CIA in the 1950s.

    And the unions?

    According to Ramsay: “The CIA also ran the anti-communist international trade union movement, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the ICFTU..By the mid 1950s nearly a quarter of the TUC’s annual budget was going to the ICFTU, a CIA operation.

    Posted by Anon at 7:04 AM 11 comments
    Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook
    Labels: CIA, Plan Red, USA
    Thursday, September 22, 2011
    US plan to attack Britain and its empire.

    Documents found in the US National Archives reveal that:

    The USA devised plans to attack Britain, and, other rivals.

    How America planned to destroy BRITAIN.

    Among the plans developed were:

    Plan Red: War against Britain
    Orange: War against Japan
    Green: Against Mexico
    Purple: South America
    White: Domestic uprising
    Black: Germany
    Grey: Caribbean republics
    Yellow: China
    Brown: Philippines

    Nazi America

    On 21 September 2011, the Daily Mail explains: How America planned to destroy BRITAIN.

    From this we learn:

    In 1930, the US military approved a plan for an attack on BRITAIN and its EMPIRE with bombing raids and chemical weapons.

    Plan Red was the code for this massive US war against Britain.

    The USA’s 1930 plan aimed to destroy Britain’s trading ability and bring Britain to its knees.

    ‘Nazi’ MacArthur signed the plan to bomb Britain.

    The use, against Britain, of massive bombing raids and chemical weapons was agreed to by the USA’s General Douglas MacArthur.

    The top-secret papers, “once regarded as the most sensitive on Earth”, were found within the American National Archives in Washington.

    In 1931, the U.S. government got Nazi sympathiser Charles A. Lindbergh to spy on Canada.

    Four years later, the U.S. Congress agreed to the building of three secret airfields on the U.S. side of the Canadian border.

    In 1935, America staged its largest-ever military manoeuvres near the Canadian border.

    The first attack on British citizens was to be in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in Canada.

    According to Professor Mike Vlahos, of the U.S. Naval War College, ‘The U.S. was forced to contemplate any measure to keep Britain at bay.’

    ‘You have to remember the U.S. was born out of a revolutionary struggle against Britain in 1776,’ says Dr. John H. Maurer, of the U.S. Naval War College.

    On 15 June 1939, an internal US memo states these plans for an invasion ‘should be retained’ for the future.

    The top-secret papers seen here in a UK Channel 5 documentary.

    War Plan Red – from Wikipedia

    According to Wikipedia:

    War Plan Red, also known as the Atlantic Strategic War Plan, was a plan for the United States to make war with Great Britain (the “Red” forces).

    It was developed by the United States Army during the mid 1920s, approved in May 1930 by the Secretary of War and the Secretary of Navy, updated in 1934–35, and officially withdrawn in 1939, following the outbreak of the Second World War, when it and others like it were replaced by the five “Rainbow” plans created to deal with the Axis threat.

    However, it was not declassified until 1974.

    The war was intended to be a continental war, waged primarily on North American territory between the United States and the British Empire.

    The assumption was that Canada would represent the primary theater of operations.

    War Plan Red was created because some American planners thought that Britain’s imperial reach would bring it into conflict with the U.S.

    In 1935 War Plan Red was updated and specified which roads to use in the invasion…

    War Plan Red was only one of a number of U.S. color-coded war plans developed at this time.

    War Plan Red was declassified in 1974, and caused a stir in American-Canadian relations…

    Further reading

    Rudmin, Floyd W. (May 1993). Bordering on Aggression: Evidence of U.S. Military Preparations Against Canada. Voyageur Publishing. ISBN 0-921842-09-0
    Bell, Christopher M., “Thinking the Unthinkable: British and American Naval Strategies for an Anglo-American War, 1918-31”, International History Review, vol. XIX, no. 4 (November 1997), 789-808.

    External links

    Rudmin, F. A 1935 US Plan for Invasion of Canada February 1995
    Carlson, P. Raiding the Icebox The Washington Post. December 2005

  4. DR.NUR says:


  5. Isaac says:

    Obama just repeat what his bosses in Tel Aviv tell him to do. He is a Zionists just as every one of our elected officials. They have no chioce. They have to do it or they can even be killed like the Keneddys.
    As long as Americans let a foreign government dictate the US policies, there will never be peace in the whole world specially in the Middle East.
    That speech was full of hate agsinst the opressed people of Palestine. But all this is going to backfire on our elected officials.

Posted in USAComments Off on Obama courts (grovels for) Jewish vote with UN speech

Iraqi Christians find safety in north, but no jobs

ed note–remember, all you empty-headed/Israel-worshipping western Christians who were pissing your pants wanting to invade and destroy Iraq “for Jesus”–YOU HELPED BRING THIS ABOUT. Where are your tears for the suffering your support caused your fellow Christians? OH WAIT, I FORGOT–DOESN’T MATTER–THEY’RE SAND NIGGERS ANYWAY.


Menas Saad Youssef no longer fears being blown up while praying in a church. But she and many other traumatised Christians who fled Iraq’s capital for safer areas have a new crisis — no jobs.

Almost a year since a deadly church siege in Baghdad that killed dozens of people and prompted her family to seek refuge in the prosperous northern Kurdish region, Youssef sits at home, frustrated about her future.

The 28-year-old academic, who is still haunted by images of her friends lying in pools of blood at the cathedral where she prayed every Sunday, misses her job as an architecture professor in Baghdad.

“It’s a safe place. I can go out at night,” she said, referring to the mainly Christian area of Ainkawa in the city of Arbil, 300 km (190 miles) north of Baghdad.

“But the big problem is there’s no work. So you feel good in the beginning and then when you try to earn a living, it’s very difficult. We can’t find any jobs.”

Iraq’s Christians — most of them Syrian or Chaldean Catholics — numbered around 1.5 million before 2003 and are now estimated at about 450,000-600,000, according to Christian leaders. Iraq has not conducted a full census since 1987, but the largely Muslim country is estimated to have a current population of about 30 million people.

While most of the sectarian fighting that followed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion has been between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims, attacks on Christians have increased in recent years.

Last October, 52 hostages and police were killed when al Qaeda-linked gunmen took more than 100 Catholics captive in a siege at the Our Lady of Salvation cathedral in central Baghdad. Sixty-seven others were wounded in the incident.

It was the bloodiest attack against Iraq’s Christians in the eight years of war that followed the invasion and struck fear into the Christian community, prompting hundreds of families to flee to the north or overseas.

“There are around 900 Christian displaced families who have settled permanently in Arbil province, including in Ainkawa, since the explosion at Our Lady of Salvation,” said Kamran Abdullah, head of the Kurdish migration and displacement department in Arbil province.

“More people were displaced but some of them have returned to their former areas. Others have left the province to go abroad or to other provinces.”

Iraqi Kurdistan has been an oasis of relative calm since 1991, when the zone became a semi-autonomous enclave under Western protection. The region has earned the reputation of being a safe-haven in an otherwise dangerous country.

But while the area has attracted foreign investment and construction is booming, Christians who have moved to Iraq’s north say they are still marginalised.

“Christian people have no support from anyone in Iraq. We feel it’s become the norm,” said Abu Rani, who runs a small electronics shop in Ainkawa. He left Baghdad in 2007 during the height of sectarian violence.

One of the main obstacles to finding jobs is that anyone who moves into the region from elsewhere wanting to live and work in Iraqi Kurdistan must obtain a residence permit from the interior ministry of the Kurdish Regional Government. To get a permit they must also have a local sponsor who can provide assurances.

The permit, which needs to be renewed on an annual basis, has to be presented when looking for work.

“Unless you have such an approval, you can’t find a job here (in Arbil),” said a member of the Chaldean Syrian Assyrian Council, who declined to be named.

“Our number has been diminished to this extent because we don’t have any constitutional rights up until this moment. We are just regarded as a religious minority. We depend on other people’s good will to find jobs, to live peacefully, to go about our way of life.”

Iraq has an official unemployment rate of 15 percent, with another 28 percent of the workforce in part-time jobs. Much of the population relies on a national food ration scheme.

Abdullah said that of the families who had settled in Arbil province, 365 Christians have been employed by the government.

To help resettle Christians in Arbil faster, Abdullah said the migration and displacement office arranged for some of them to get work and university transfers to Iraqi Kurdistan from their home towns.

“It means that they work here but they are employees of the Iraqi government and get their salaries from them,” he said.

Abdullah said 104 Christian students had been resettled in Arbil.

Youssef, who moved with her parents and siblings to Ainkawa last November, is still waiting for her permit.

“I left everything in Baghdad and came here to start from the beginning, from zero. Everything is confusing for me. I don’t know what will happen in the future,” she said.

Her parents, both dentists, have secured their permits but the family still had to rely on help from relatives overseas to furnish their house in Ainkawa, for which they pay $700 a month in rent. They left most of their belongings in Baghdad.

Despite the frustrations, Youssef and her family say they will not return to their empty home in the capital.

“I will never return. In Baghdad there is no security. You never know if there is a bomb behind you or in front of you. It can be anywhere,” said her father, 63-year-old Saad Youssef.

The only other option is to leave the country, something the family does not want to do.

“All of the Christians here want to go to another country … especially the youth. I will stay here. It’s my country, I will not run away,” said Youssef’s 25-year-old brother Khalid.


  1. B.A.Frémaux-Soormally says:

    September 22, 2011 at 3:09 pm


    Rabbi Daniel Lapin although admitting to Pastor John HAGEE that Arabs were BLESSED, is lying about the meaning of ISRAEL.

    ISRA means POWERFUL, STRONG (AGAINST) (See also the Muslim Night of Power)

    EL means GOD

    Jacob took the name ISRA-EL because he defeated an angel (GOD) while crossing the river to meet his brother.

    Rabbi Daniel Lapin lies about Isaac saying that GOD disinherited Ishmael in favour of Isaac.

    ZIONISTS are using this fabricated conflict (and THEFT) to sow the seeds of hatred between Jews and Arabs.

  2. B.A.Frémaux-Soormally says:

    September 22, 2011 at 3:20 pm


    Thank GOD, the ORIENT and East Europe have still preserved some of our past Heritage. IRAN (PERSIA) is still Jewish, Christian and Muslim. Syria is still Christian and Muslim and the forces of darkness want to destroy that too!

    They have transformed Mesopotamia (Iraq, Babylon, Sumer…the birthplace of Western civilisation) into a living hell and they will not stop.

    “The Track “O Felix (12th century, Latin)” is taken from Azam Ali’s fantastic solo debut Album “Portals Of Grace” (2002). Listen and enjoy it.”


  3. B.A.Frémaux-Soormally says:

    September 22, 2011 at 3:33 pm


    But, this call is vain as they cannot even unite to protect the Muslims themselves!

    Song: “Lasse, Pour Quoi?”
    Artist: Azam Ali
    Album: Portals of Grace
    Year: 2002

    The theme is “fine amor” in the southern tradition of what was called “amour courtois” (12th-13th century).As for the text, it seems to correspond to the 15th northern tradition (syntax especially) re-adapted with rhythm and music typically 12th-13th southern.

    Lasse, pour quoi refusai Celui qui tant m’a amee? Lonc tens a a moi muse Et n’i a merci trouvee. Lasse, si tres dur cuer ai! Qu’en dirai? Forssenee Fui, plus que desvee, Quant le refusai. G’en ferai Droit a son plesir, S’il m’en daigne oïr.

    “Troubadour music comes from the Occitaine language, I live in the center of Occitane culture. It comes from the south, then the musicians traveled to the north to play therefore it would come to the north in a later period.” ALOIIS


    P.S. This is my medicine to prevent me from going mad in this insane world!

  4. B.A.Frémaux-Soormally says:

    September 22, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    JUST look at the BIGGER PLAN and see the hands of the Vatican and the European Royalties in all this when Christians who were living in peace for hundreds of years are suddenly murdered and their Churches destroyed by the Jewish Hordes in Russia and now in all the Muslim countries trageted by those same Jews and the Christian Apostates.

    What did the Vatican do and achieve in matters of protection of the Catholics? Under the Ottomans they were all safe! Under Zionism they are being murdered one by one and Islam and Muslims are the scapegoats.

    The Plan is to destroy Islam after they have successfully destroyed Christianity and even Judaism by replacing them with Secularism, Democracy, Zionism and Apartheid.

    The Middle East is more a Christian country than a Muslim one even if the Muslims are in a majority. The ROOTS of Christianity is from there.

    According to this Rabbi, ISLAM REMAINS THE REAL AND ONLY SOLUTION! He says democracy is Hell!

Posted in IraqComments Off on Iraqi Christians find safety in north, but no jobs

Why Russia is blocking international action against Syria

Russia has a strong financial stake in the survival of the Assad regime. But it also opposes Western intervention on principle – particularly in the wake of NATO’s Libya campaign.

Christian Science Monitor

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s brutal crackdown on the popular uprising against his rule, which has left some 2,600 people dead since March, has earned him opprobrium across the globe. But international efforts to pressure his regime further are unlikely to be enough to bring it down, so long as Mr. Assad retains the support of one powerful global player: Russia.
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A traditional ally with trade ties worth close to $20 billion, Russia has a strong financial stake in the Assad regime’s survival. But Moscow’s support goes beyond pocketbook issues. As a vast country that has seen its share of uprising and revolution, the one-time superpower tends to support autocracy as the lesser evil and is skeptical of Western intervention – particularly in the wake of NATO’s Libya campaign.

As one of five veto-wielding members on the United Nations Security Council, Russia can block any attempt to exert major international pressure on Assad, whether through economic sanctions or military intervention.

“Russia is now a business-oriented country, and the Russian government obviously wants to protect the investments made by its businessmen in Syria,” Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the independent Institute of Middle Eastern Studies in Moscow. “But … the main reason in being so stubborn [blocking UN action against Syria] is because Moscow perceives that the Western bloc is wrecking stability in the Middle East in pursuit of wrong-headed idealistic goals. A lot of Russians are horrified at what’s going on in the Middle East and they’re happy with their government’s position.”

Russia has been a prominent defender of the Assad regime, dispatching delegations and envoys to the Syrian capital and warning against international intervention similar to the NATO-led campaign against Col. Muammar Qaddafi.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said recently that some of those taking part in the Syrian street protests had links to “terrorists,” while another senior Russian foreign ministry official said that “terrorist organizations” could gain power in Syria if Assad’s regime is toppled.

Such comments, which echo those of the Assad regime, have been warmly greeted in Damascus. On Sunday, Assad welcomed the “balanced and constructive Russian position toward the security and stability of Syria.”

True, Moscow is not the only country expressing wariness at sudden change in Syria: the five-nation BRICS bloc (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) recently declared they were against intervention in Syria and urged dialogue between the Assad regime and the Syrian opposition. But Russia’s public and repeated defense of the regime has frustrated the Syrian opposition, which is seeking the support of the international community in its bid to oust Assad. Last week, Syrian protesters vented their irritation by staging a “day of anger against Russia.”

Why Russia backs Assad

Russia’s support for the Assad regime is rooted in self-interest, and calculates that Assad could yet prevail against the Syrian opposition movement.

“In fact we see that there is no united opposition in Syria, nor is there NATO support [for the rebellion] as was the case in Libya,” says Georgi Mirsky, an expert with the official Institute of World Economy and International Relations in Moscow. “Arab countries will never agree to even limited military operations against Syria [as they did in Libya]. The Syrian army is not split. Therefore, we see serious reasons to believe the Assad regime can survive. Even if it’s discredited, it could still hold on for a number of years. So there’s no sense of urgency in Moscow to change policies.”

Russia has long-standing commercial, military, and political ties to Syria. According to a recent article in The Moscow Times, Russian investments in Syria in 2009 were valued at $19.4 billion, mainly in arms deals, infrastructure development, energy, and tourism. Russian exports to Syria in 2010 totaled $1.1 billion, the newspaper said.

Other than lucrative business deals, Moscow is seeking to wield greater influence on the global stage after losing some of its prestige with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. It traditionally opposes foreign interventions – which potentially can set precedents for Russia in the future – and serves as a counter-balance to the perceived axis of the United States, the European Union and NATO.

Furthermore, Russia – with a multitude of ethnic and religious sects, as well as nationalist minorities – has an innate suspicion of popular uprisings and their uncertain outcomes, from ousting a regime to plunging a country into chaos. While the West optimistically embraces the Arab Spring as a welcome shift toward democracy in the region, Russia takes the more hard-nosed view that the outcome will be instability and bloodshed.

“Western idealism has contributed to chaos in the Middle East, and for once Russian foreign policy is right not to want any part of it,” says Mr. Satanovsky from the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies in Moscow. “The minimum we can expect in Syria is civil war, with rivers of blood. Yes, it is a cruel dictatorship, but Russia sees only worse things taking its place.”

Russia-Syria arms deals

Russian-Syrian ties are perhaps strongest in the field of arms sales. The Soviet Union was Syria’s main supplier of weapons during the cold war, leaving Damascus saddled with a $13.4 billion arms debt.

Although trade dwindled following the collapse of the Soviet Union, it picked up again beginning in 2005 when Moscow wrote off almost 75 percent of the debt. Russia and Syria have signed arms deals worth some $4 billion since 2006. They include the sale of MiG 29 fighter jets, Yak-130 jet trainers, Pantsir and Buk air defense systems, and P-800 Yakhont anti-ship missiles. Syria also hopes to receive Iskandar ballistic missiles and S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, the latter of which would pose significant threats to hostile aircraft operating in Syrian skies.

Much of the funding for the arms deals reportedly is underwritten by Iran, which signed several defense agreements with Syria from 2005. That enables some of the weapons allegedly to be quietly transferred to Iran thus circumventing a United Nations ban of arms exports to the Islamic Republic.

Russia also operates a naval supply and maintenance site near the Syrian port city of Tartous on the Mediterranean. The Soviet-era facility has been in Russian hands since 1971 but fell into disrepair in 1992. However, the port is undergoing a major refurbishment which will grant Russian naval vessels a permanent base in the Mediterranean after 2012. Presently, Russia’s only other warm-water naval facility is at Sevastopol in the nearly-landlocked Black Sea. All Russian shipping exiting the Black Sea must sail through the narrow Bosporus channel, which lies within Turkish waters.

However, the billions of dollars in investments and the strategic naval facility in Tartous could all be jeopardized if the Assad regime is overthrown or the country descends into violent chaos. As it is, Moscow, which has criticized the NATO-led intervention in Libya, is waiting to see if the new authorities in Tripoli will honor some $10 billion worth of business deals reached with the Qaddafi regime.

Posted in RussiaComments Off on Why Russia is blocking international action against Syria

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