Archive | June 27th, 2012



Bullets in the brain, shrapnel in the spine: the terrible injuries suffered by children of Gaza

An injured Palestinian boy - Bullets in the brain, shrapnel in the spine: the terrible injuries suffered by children of Gaza

Doctors at a hospital near Gaza are almost overwhelmed by the number of Palestinian children needing treatment for bullet wounds to their heads.

On just one day last week staff at the El-Arish hospital in Sinai were called to perform sophisticated CAT brain scans on a nine-year-old, two 10-year-olds and a 14-year-old – each of whom had a bullet still lodged in their brain, after coming under fire during the Israeli ground assault on Gaza.

Dr Ahmed Yahia, the head of the trauma team, broke the news to the grandmother of Anas, aged nine, that the girl was not expected to live.

“Anas was deeply comatose when she came in, and she remains deeply comatose,” said Dr Yahia. “The bullet has damaged a big part of her brain. It came in, hit the skull wall and then changed direction downwards. I’ve seen a lot of gun injuries and the damage here is so extensive I think it may be fatal.”

Dr Yahia, a professor of neurosurgery who has worked in both the United States and Britain, believes that the bullet was shot from close range. “If it changes course inside the brain it has high velocity and its penetrative force is also high,” he said.

“I can’t precisely decide whether these children are being shot at as a target, but in some cases the bullet comes from the front of the head and goes towards the back, so I think the gun has been directly pointed at the child.”

But there is no disputing the scale of the suffering in Gaza, or its heavy impact on the young. The United Nations has counted 346 Palestinian children killed since the Israeli assault began, while Hamas, the radical Islamic movement that Israel has been trying to dislodge, says there are 410 children among the 1,201 Palestinian dead.

An even larger number of children have been wounded – 1,630, according to Hamas – and a disturbing number of them have suffered serious injuries to the head.

Hundreds of victims of Israel’s three-week campaign in Gaza have been transferred across the Egyptian border at Rafah for urgent treatment. They are seen first at El-Arish, nearly 40 miles from the border. For patients who are often on ventilators it is a hazardous journey across a war zone.

One of the medical team leaders at the hospital, Dr Ayman Abd al-Hadi, said that this was the worst conflict he had experienced. “We’ve had one child with two bullets in the head and nowhere else,” he said. “We think that this shows something.”

He praised the medical teams in Gaza for managing to save so many lives despite a shortage of staff, supplies and equipment. “But only a very small percentage of children can survive bullet wounds to the head,” he said. “If we see three children here who have survived bullet wounds to the head, there are probably 97 still in Gaza who have not.”

Doctors at the small but well equipped hospital do not attempt to remove the bullets, but perform a full assessment and attempt to stabilise their patients – most of whom are unconscious – before sending them to hospitals in Cairo, and in some cases abroad, for more complex treatment. Of those who survive, few are likely to recover fully. Most child victims of such injuries are likely to be paralysed for life.

Other children have different but horrific injuries – like Samer, not yet three years old, who lay playing with an inflated surgeon’s glove as her Egyptian doctor tried to distract her from the suffering he was about to inflict upon her as he inserted a drip containing painkillers into her hand.

After she was shot in the back outside her Gaza home, it took three hours for medical help to reach the captivatingly pretty child. Her uncle, Hassan Abedrabo, said that Samer was hit by an Israeli bullet which damaged her spinal cord and has left her paralysed. Her two sisters, aged two and six, were shot dead in the same close-range attack as they tried to escape from tanks bombarding their home in Jabaliya, north of Gaza City.

The girls’ mother was hit twice but survived; Mr Abedrabo said that their grandmother, waving a white flag at the front of the terrified family procession, lost an arm to another bullet.

Samer has now been transferred to a Belgian hospital but the Egyptian doctors who treated her in El-Arish believe she will never walk again. If she is too young to grasp what her future now holds, Samer thinks she knows what happened to her. “The Jewish shot me,” she said in Arabic. “And they killed my little sister.”

Mr Abedrabo, Samer’s uncle, insisted that there were no Hamas fighters in their home when Israeli tanks opened fire last week. He is a supporter of Hamas’s bitter political rivals Fatah, led by the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

“The tanks opened fire on the fourth storey,” said Mr Abedrabo, as he watched over his niece in hospital. About 30 people were sheltering on the ground floor as the tanks began pounding the third floor; then the second; then the first.

“The house began to shake and we were terrified,” he said. “The women and children were screaming as they thought the house was going to collapse.

“I speak Hebrew so I shouted to the Israelis. The officer said, ‘Come out’ so the women went first, waving a white flag. They opened fire from just 15 metres away. How could they not tell they were children? They could see them.”

Three hours later, when a cousin arrived with Palestinian doctors, eight people remained in the house. At that point, Mr Abedrabo said, missiles fired by Israeli F16 jets destroyed what was left of the building, killing those still inside.

The hospital’s psychiatrists, who see every patient, were particularly concerned about a 13-year-old boy who lay trapped, terribly wounded by shrapnel, for three days beneath the rubble of his home. Other family members lay dead around him, and he saw dogs begin to gnaw their bodies.

As international pressure grew on both sides to agree a ceasefire last week, there was little sign within Israel of public opinion turning against the campaign.

In a controversial move, the country’s Association for Civil Rights launched a protest over the plight of Palestinian children by taking out a full-page, obituary-style advertisement in the daily newspaper Haaretz. It lamented the deaths of children of various ages and featured the word “Stop” in bright red letters.

“There is little desire to address the price the civilian population in Gaza is paying,” said Nirit Moskovitz, a spokesman for the group. “Israeli society needs to be reminded that actual people and innocent children are getting hurt. Children are everyone’s soft spot and therefore we chose to focus on them.”

The doctors in El-Arish cannot independently verify the accounts given by Gazan victims. But nothing they have seen discredits claims by civilians that they have been deliberately targeted.


US Struggles to Install Proxy “Brotherhood” in Egypt


From Egypt to Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood does the West’s bidding – now joined by overt State Department fronts.

By Tony Cartalucci

Were anyone to still believe the rhetoric of the so-called “Arab Spring,” one would be admittedly confused over the emerging political landscape in Egypt where the military establishment and the Muslim Brotherhood have emerged from what was supposedly a “pro-democracy” “popular uprising.”

However, if anyone understood that the “pro-democracy” protesters were in fact US State Department-funded, trained, and equipped mobs providing cover for the attempted installation of the Muslim Brotherhood amongst many other potential Western proxies, the current political battle would make perfect sense.

The Egyptian military, like in many developing nations, may accept money from the West, may train with Western forces, and may even participate in Western machinations of global domination, but are ultimately nationalists with the means and motivation to draw lines and check the West’s ambitions within Egypt and throughout Egypt’s sphere of influence. The necessity for the West of removing not only Hosni Mubarak who had refused to participate in a wider role against Iraq and Iran, but the grip of the military itself over Egyptian politics and replacing it with the Muslim Brotherhood who is already hard at work in Syria attempting to overthrow one of Iran’s primary regional allies, is paramount.

“Pro-democracy” movements, particularly the April 6 youth movement, trained, funded, and equipped by the US State Department, serve the sole purpose of giving the Muslim Brotherhood’s installation into power a spin of “legitimacy” where otherwise none exists. Those within these “pro-democracy” movements with legitimate intentions will be inevitably disappointed if not entirely thrown under the wheels of Western machinations as regional war aimed at destroying Iran, Syria, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah arch of influence slowly unfolds.

Muslim Brotherhood were, are, and will be Western Proxies

Despite the Brotherhood’s lofty rhetoric, it has from its inception been a key proliferator of Western foreign policy. Currently, the Syrian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood has been involved heavily, leading in fact, the US, Israeli, Saudi, and Qatari-backed sectarian violence that has been ravaging Syria for over a year. In a May 6, 2012 Reuters article it stated:

“Working quietly, the Brotherhood has been financing Free Syrian Army defectors based in Turkey and channeling money and supplies to Syria, reviving their base among small Sunni farmers and middle class Syrians, opposition sources say.”

While Reuters categorically fails to explain the “how” behind the Brotherhood’s resurrection, it was revealed in a 2007 New Yorker article titled, “The Redirection” by Seymour Hersh, as being directly backed by the US and Israel who were funneling support through the Saudis so as to not compromise the “credibility” of the so-called “Islamic” movement. Hersh revealed that members of the Lebanese Saad Hariri clique, then led by Fouad Siniora, had been the go-between for US planners and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

Hersh reports the Lebanese Hariri faction had met Dick Cheney in Washington and relayed personally the importance of using the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria in any move against the ruling government:

“[Walid] Jumblatt then told me that he had met with Vice-President Cheney in Washington last fall to discuss, among other issues, the possibility of undermining Assad. He and his colleagues advised Cheney that, if the United States does try to move against Syria, members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood would be “the ones to talk to,” Jumblatt said.” -The Redirection, Seymour Hersh

The article would continue by explaining how already in 2007, US and Saudi backing had begun benefiting the Brotherhood:

“There is evidence that the Administration’s redirection strategy has already benefitted the Brotherhood. The Syrian National Salvation Front is a coalition of opposition groups whose principal members are a faction led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian Vice-President who defected in 2005, and the Brotherhood. A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement.” He said that Khaddam, who now lives in Paris, was getting money from Saudi Arabia, with the knowledge of the White House. (In 2005, a delegation of the Front’s members met with officials from the National Security Council, according to press reports.) A former White House official told me that the Saudis had provided members of the Front with travel documents.” -The Redirection, Seymour Hersh

It was warned that such backing would benefit the Brotherhood as a whole, not just in Syria, and could effect public opinion even as far as in Egypt where a long battle against the hardliners was fought in order to keep Egyptian governance secular. Clearly the Brotherhood did not spontaneously rise back to power in Syria, it was resurrected by US, Israeli, and Saudi cash, weapons and directives.

And most recently, as the West frequently does before elections it wishes to manipulate, premature claims by the Muslim Brotherhood of a victory during a presidential runoff were made headlines by the Western media in an effort to portray the Brotherhood as the victors and lay the groundwork for contesting any results other than a decisive win for the West’s proxy of choice.

US State Department-run Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) “Muslim Brotherhood Declares Victory In Egypt Election,” amongst many other articles attempted to give readers the impression that the Muslim Brotherhood had indeed already won the election. In reality the official tallies had yet to be given and it was merely the Brotherhood’s own rhetoric upon which the report was based. As election results were finalized, and the Brotherhood’s candidate, the US-educated Muhammad Morsi, appeared not to have the decisive victory claimed by his party and the Western media, immediately accusations of voter fraud were leveled against the Egyptian government.

The West is already combining its various proxy fronts for what it sees as a pivotal showdown and perhaps another opportunity to overthrow any remaining nationalist tendencies within the Egyptian military. Despite the Muslim Brotherhood, allegedly being a theocratic sectarian party, the antithesis of what the secular April 6 Movement allegedly stood for, Ahmed Maher, the movement’s founder threw his full support behind the Brotherhood.

Maher it should be remembered, had been in the US, Serbia, and back again to the US for a series of training and networking opportunities arranged by the US State Department before during and after the so-called “Arab Spring.” What seemed like politically ideological opposites, between April 6 and the Muslim Brotherhood, in fact share a common denominator – they are instruments executing Western foreign policy.

Libya, Egypt, Syria and Beyond to Form United Front Against Iran

Weakening Egypt before NATO’s assault on Libya was a crucial step in ensuring the latter’s absolute destruction and the creation of what is now a Libyan terror-emirate shipping cash, weapons, and fighters east and west to destabilize and overthrow various governments on the Anglo-American’s long “to-do” list. The West’s ability to install a Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, with it’s substantial regional standing and influence would be a serious blow not only to Syria, but to Iran as well. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is already echoing calls by the US and Israel for “intervention” in Syria.

Along with Libya, Egypt and of course the Gulf States of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, and with the possibility of the Brotherhood coming to power in Syria as well, a united front against Iran would be formed and prepared to fight a proxy war on the West’s behalf against the Islamic Republic.

Such a reordering has not only been mapped out in US foreign policy documents like Brookings Institution’s “Which Path to Persia?” report, but mirror designs against China where all of Southeast Asia is slated for destabilization, regime change, and realignment to carry out the West’s ambitions to contain and even collapse a rising China.

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Syria: Gulf of Tonkin Redux?


By Stephen Lendman

Lyndon Johnson wanted war on Vietnam and got it.

The August 1964 false flag Gulf of Tonkin incident initiated full-scale conflict after Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

War was authorized without declaring it.

It’s an American tradition. Big lies launch wars. Manufactured pretexts initiate them. Mass killing and destruction follow.

One nation after another is ravaged. Syria’s next, then Iran, followed by other states on Washington’s hit list.

On June 22, Turkey provocatively flew two warplanes at low altitude over Syrian airspace. It wanted a response and got it.

On June 23, Syria’s SANA state media headlined “Military Spokesman: Anti-Air Defenses Intercepted a Target That Violated Syrian Airspace Over Territorial Waters, Shot It Down West of Lattakia,” saying:

“At 11:40 AM on 22/6/2012, an unidentified aerial target violated Syrian airspace, coming from the west at a very low altitude and at high speed over territorial waters, so the Syrian anti-air defenses counteracted with anti-aircraft artillery, hitting it directly as it was 1 kilometer away from land, causing it to crash into Syrian territorial waters west of Om al-Tuyour village in Lattakia province, 10 kilometers from the beach.”

Syria’s military spokesman also said naval forces from both countries were “searching for the two missing pilots.”

Some media sources said both crew members were rescued. Others said they’re still missing.

On June 23, Turkey’s Today’s Zaman headlined “Turkey says Syria down(ed) its air force jet,” saying:

The incident will “likely….worsen already strained relations between” both countries.

After a two hour security meeting, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed Syrian forces for downing its aircraft. An official statement said:

“Following the evaluation of data provided by our related institutions and the findings of the joint search and rescue efforts with Syria, it is understood that our plane was downed by Syria.”

Turkey “will determinedly take necessary steps” in response. No further details were given.

At the time of its report, Today’s Zaman said both crew members were missing. It added that Ankara wouldn’t “tolerate any action that it deemed violating its security.”

Turkish TV reports said two military aircraft were on a reconnaissance mission.

In fact, Ankara acted provocatively. Perhaps it was at the behest of Washington. Turkey is a NATO member. A previous article explained it can invoke NATO Charter Articles 4 or 5.

Article 4 calls for members to “consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence, or security of any” is threatened.

Article 5 considers an armed attack (real or otherwise) against one or more members, an attack against all, and calls for collective self-defense.

On June 23, Reuters headlined “Turkey warns it would respond decisively to Syria downing it aircraft,” saying:

Erdogan’s “initial comments and subsequent statement (were) measured in tone. He said Turkish and Syrian forces were working together to search for the two missing crew of the aircraft.”

Turkish media also said Syria apologized for the incident.

“Turkish state television interviewed witnesses on the country’s Mediterranean coast, near the Syrian border, who said they saw two low-flying fighter jets pass overhead in the morning in the direction of Syrian waters but only one return.”

Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said:

“There was no aggression.” Damascus confirmed “an unidentified target flying at very low range when it violated Syrian airspace.” He added that both sides were searching for missing crew members.

The New York Times said an official Turkish statement hadn’t “yet concluded that the Syrian action was provocative, and it acknowledged that Syrian rescue teams were cooperating in trying to locate the aircraft and crew.”

“But the statement also left open the possibility that Turkey, a NATO member, would respond militarily, an outcome that could further complicate and widen the Syrian conflict.”

Washington has longstanding regime change plans. In early 2011, it orchestrated Western-generated violence.

It wants Assad replaced by a subservient puppet leader. If events on the ground don’t succeed, expect war to follow.

The Obama and Erdogan administrations may have staged Friday’s incident. Whether it’s a pretext for full-scale intervention remains to be seen.

Events on the ground keep escalating dangerously. Anything may erupt anytime. Provocations are easy to stage.

Friday’s incident may indeed become a casus belli. If not, perhaps something greater is planned to give Obama another war he wants. What better way to silence his Republican critics who call him soft on Assad.

On June 22, Foreign Policy’s associate editor Uri Friedman headlined “How would NATO respond to Syria shooting down a Turkish plane?” saying:

“Could this incident — or an incident like it — trigger more aggressive action against Syria by the international community? After all, Turkey is a member of NATO….”

Its Charter affirms its all-for-one-and-one-for-all policy. Attacking one member is considered acting against all 28. Collective self-defense is called for.

On September 12, 2001, NATO invoked Article V for the first time. Will Syria be number two? If Turkey claims Damascus acted aggressively, will war follow?

“It is not an entirely unreasonable” possibility, said Friedman.

In April, Erdogan suggested he might invoke Article V. Whether he plans it now remains to be seen.

According to former UN Permanent Representative to NATO Kurt Volker, Article V gives NATO countries a chance to consult with one another on possible responses. It doesn’t automatically suggest a military one.

“A response could be anything from a statement reiterating the inviolability of security guarantees to members coordinating activities so that they can respond to further attacks on Turkish interests.”

Volker doesn’t think Friday’s incident justifies war. At the same time, the ball advanced closer to initiating it without Security Council authorization.

One way would be by creating Syrian “safe zones,” providing greater opposition support, and conducting air strikes against strategic military sites.

“I do get the feeling,” he added, “that the patience of the international community is growing thinner.”

“I think we may be approaching a point at which this kind of coalition intervention is more thinkable than it was a couple of months ago.”

Atlantic Council managing editor James Joyner also doesn’t believe Friday’s incident justifies war.

“It would be one thing if Syria sent ground troops into Turkey and started shooting,” he said.

In contrast, “shooting down a plane that might have been surveilling Syrian air space is just a different animal than that.”

“This is more of a harsh words and sanctions kind of thing, and frankly there’s not much more of that that we can do in terms of Syria.”

On June 23, UK government controlled BBC headlined “Turkish warplane downed by Syria ‘may have crossed border,’ ” saying:

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said its aircraft may have violated Syrian airspace. Doing so isn’t unusual for short distances at high speed, he added.

“It is routine for jet fighters to sometimes fly in and out over (other) borders….when you consider their speed over the sea,” he claimed.

“These are not ill-intentioned things but happen beyond control due to the jets’ speed.”

Unexplained was that it’s one thing for peaceful neighbors occasionally to violate each other’s airspace without authorization.

No harm, no foul.

It’s quite another given months of intense violence in Syria and Turkey’s direct role.

Moreover, violating another country’s airspace by trying to avoid its defensive capabilities at low altitude shows clear hostile intent.

Damascus has every right to consider these type actions aggressive and threatening. Turkey would react the same way. So would Washington, key NATO partners and Israel.

A virtual state of war exists in Syria short of officially declaring it. These type incidents can easily be used as pretexts for full-blown conflict. It remains to be seen if Washington has that in mind.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War” – Visit his blog site at

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Turkey admits downed plane had strayed into Syrian airspace


ISTANBUL — Turkey and Syria on Saturday pulled back from a possible confrontation over Syria’s downing of a Turkish fighter jet that had strayed across their common border into Syrian air space Friday. As their respective navies searched for the two missing Turkish crew, both sides said Friday’s clash had been accidental.

A spokesman for the Syrian foreign ministry said the military unit that shot down the Turkish F4 Phantom interceptor had not realized the aircraft was Turkish and added: “There was no enmity against Turkey.” Spokesman Jihad Makdisi made the comment to the Turkish state news channel TRT, AP reported.

Earlier Saturday, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said the Turkish incursion into Syrian air space was not deliberate. “It is routine for jet fighters to sometimes fly in and out over borders,” he said. “These are not ill-intentioned things, but happen beyond control due to the jets’ speed.”

It wasn’t clear how or whether Turkey would retaliate. Gul said it was “not possible to cover over a thing like this,” and added: “whatever is necessary will be done.” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s had said Friday night that after completing an investigation, Turkey would “decisively take the next steps.”

The F4, which a top Turkish official said was on a reconnaissance mission, had departed Erhac base in Malatya province to the northwest of the Syrian border Friday morning. Shortly before noon, Turkish authorities lost contact with the aircraft as it was flying over Hatay, a Turkish border province.

The Syrian government said an “unidentified object” had approached Syrian territorial waters from the west at “a very low altitude and at high speed.” Syrian anti-aircraft artillery fired at the jet when it was one kilometer (0.6 mile) off the Syrian coast, and it crashed 8 kilometers, about 4.8 miles, off the coast.

Gul’s statement put the onus on Syria to explain why its army chose to shoot first, rather than try to establish radio contact, fire warning shots or even send up aircraft when the F4 crossed into Syrian territory. Neither he nor Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc provided details of the aircraft’s reconnaissance mission.

The F4 can carry 18,000 pounds of bombs and missiles and was used widely by the United States during the Vietnam war, but the U.S. phased the plane out in the mid 1990s. It is still a mainstay of several other nation’s air forces, however.

Relations between the two countries were close as recently as two years ago, but have been deeply strained by the 16-month old Arab Spring uprising and crackdown by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

With thousands of civilians reported dead and at least 30,000 refugees inside Turkey, Erdogan has demanded Assad’s ouster and has welcomed the political and military wings of the resistance on Turkish soil. Syrian fighters move back and forth across the border, and cash, provided by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is also flowing into the coffers of the resistance.

But an escalation into a Turkish-Syrian military conflict could drag in the big powers backing the two sides, the United States for Turkey and Russia and Iran for Syria, and there is no sign any of the major powers wants that to happen.

As a NATO member, Turkey could invoke Article V of the European defense pact and ask its allies to come to its defense, but a NATO military spokesman said Saturday that Turkey had not approached the alliance for assistance.

Even if the shoot-down is written off as an accident, the tensions along the border are high, and there are any number of possibilities for a clash that would ignite a broader conflict.

Early in April, after Syrian troops fired shots into Turkish territory, wounding two Syrian refugees, Turkey warned that it was prepared to take “all measures” against Syria if there was a recurrence.

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US to help Turkey hold Syria ‘accountable’



The United States said on Monday it would work with NATO ally Turkey to hold Syria accountable for what U.S. officials believe was a deliberate act of shooting down a Turkish fighter jet.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the United States stood in solidarity with Turkey as it investigated last Friday’s downing of the Turkish jet and determined its response.

But Carney sidestepped questions about what an appropriate response might be to the incident, which has sent tensions soaring between Ankara and Damascus as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad seeks to put down a 16-month-old revolt.

“We will work with Turkey and other partners to hold the Assad regime accountable,” Carney told reporters on board Air Force One as President Barack Obama flew to New Hampshire.

“We are in close contact with Turkish officials as they investigate,” Carney said, noting that Turkey was expected to make a presentation about the incident at a NATO meeting on Tuesday.

Turkey said on Monday it had no intention of going to war over the incident.

Washington has already condemned the jet’s downing in strong terms. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday called it a “brazen and unacceptable act.”

At a Pentagon briefing on Monday, officials said they believed the downing was deliberate.

“We don’t have the tick-tock of the decision-making process that led to this aircraft being shot down,” said Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain John Kirby. “The fact is that it was shot down. We believe it was a deliberate act.”

Pentagon spokesman George Little added: “And the Syrian regime needs to answer for it.”

“This once again shows the illegitimacy of the Assad regime and what it’s doing and is deeply troubling,” Little said.

Syria has described the shooting down of the Turkish warplane as an act of self-defense, and warned Turkey and its NATO allies against retaliatory measures.

The State Department said senior officials including Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman had been in touch with their Turkish counterparts, and would be listening for Turkey’s suggestions at Tuesday’s NATO meeting.

“Essentially we start with being in listening mode to an ally which has asked for the consultation, and then we go from there,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told a news briefing.

“We have to see what Turkey comes in with and what it wants from NATO after it briefs on the situation.” – Reuters

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Syria warns NATO against action over Turkish plane



Syria described its shooting down of a Turkish warplane as an act of self-defence and warned Turkey and its NATO allies against any retaliatory measures.

In shell-shattered districts of Homs, heart of a 16-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad, rebels battled troops as aide workers tried to evacuate civlians. Turkish television reported the desertion of a Syrian general and other officers across the border.

Syria’s account of Friday’s shooting down, though tempered with commitment to a “neighbourly relationship”, seemed likely to further anger Ankara, which has summoned a NATO meeting on Tuesday over what it calls an unprovoked attack in international air space.

“NATO is supposed to be there to strengthen countries,” Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi told a Damascus news conference. “If their meeting is for hostile reasons (they should know that) Syrian land and waters are sacred.”

Turkey say the wreckage of the aircraft, shot down close to the Mediterranean maritime borders of both states, is lying in deep water. Makdissi said some flotsam had been found and turned over to Turkey. There was no word on the two airmen. ID:nL5E8HO0II]

“The plane disappeared and then reappeared in Syrian airspace, flying at 100 metres altitude and about 1-2kms (0.6-1.2 miles) from the Syrian coast,” he said. “We had to react immediately, even if the plane was Syrian we would have shot it down.”

“The Syrian response was an act of defence of our sovereignty carried out by anti-aircraft machinegun which has a maximum range of 2.5 km.”

In Ankara, Turkish air force chiefs briefed both President Abdullah Gul, the commander of the armed forces, and the cabinet on what Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said would be a “decisive” response. Turkey also said it would take the matter to the United Nations Security Council.


Though not known for his emotional restraint, Erdogan has eschewed bellicose rhetoric over the incident, aware perhaps of Western reluctance to commit to any military action and wary himself of anything that could trigger a regional sectarian war.

According to Ankara’s account, the aircraft entered Syrian airspace briefly and by mistake while on a mission to test Turkish air defences.

Some analysts have suggested it might in fact have been testing the responsiveness of Russian-supplied Syrian radar that would be a major obstacle to any foreign intervention, including supply of Syrian rebels or reconnaissance support.

“I’m not of the opinion that Turkey will immediately respond militarily,” agreed Beril Dedeoglu of Galatasaray University. “But if there is another action, then there will certainly be a military response, there is no doubt.”

Erdogan turned against former ally Assad after he refused his advice to bow to demands for reform. He now allows the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) to use Turkish territory as a safe haven, though Ankara denies supplying arms.

Over 30,000 refugees are also accommodated On Turkish soil.

After Friday’s attack, Erdogan invoked an article in NATO’s founding treaty providing for urgent consultations if a member considers its security interests threatened.

Had he sought some kind of retaliation from the NATO meeting set for Tuesday, he could have invoked another article on mutual defence. That he did not, suggests the reaction will remain at least for now, on the diplomatic stage.

European Union foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg called for a calm response from Turkey, saying they would increase pressure on Assad.

“Military intervention in Syria is out of the question,” said Dutch foreign minister Uri Rosenthal. “It is not a matter of consideration for the Dutch government. That is also at stake in the … context of NATO.”



The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was again trying to arrange a safe evacuation of trapped civilians from Homs. But anti-government activists reported heavy shelling on central districts, including Jouret al-Shiyah and al-Qarabis. Video showed detonations and machinegun bursts from the skeletal shells of abandoned apartment blocks.

The activist Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Assad’s troops carried out raids and arrests in areas still under army control, and heavy fighting between government forces and rebel fighters was reported in the opposition centres of Idlib, Deir al-Zor and Deraa, the birthplace of the uprising.

“In Deraa, regime regular troops are trying to reassert control of some villages with heavy shelling, gunfire and helicopters firing missiles,” the Observatory said in an email. “People are fleeing villages because they know the army is trying to push out the rebels,” it said.


A Syrian general, two colonels, two majors, a lieutenant and their families – altogether 199 people – crossed the border into Turkey overnight, CNN Turk said. Thirteen Syrian generals are now in Turkey which is giving logistical support to the Free Syrian Army.

The new defections from Assad’s armed forces could encourage those awaiting a disintegration of Assad’s army. But there has been little indication of a broader trend to desertion in senior ranks, bound often to Assad by their Alawite background.

Alawites make up 90 percent of the officer corps. Such Sunni generals as there are tend to serve in administrative roles rather than field commands, their religious adherence making them in authorities’ eyes more likely to sympathise with Sunni rebels.

The United Nations has said more than 10,000 people have been killed by government forces, while Syria has said at least 2,600 members of the military and security forces have been killed by what it calls foreign-backed “Islamist terrorists.”

The intensification of the fighting has raised fears in Turkey of a flood of refugees and a slide into ethnic and religious warfare that could envelop the region. Ankara, like the West, is torn between a wish to remove Assad and the fear that any armed intervention could unleash uncontrollable forces. (Additional reporting by Tulay Karadeniz and Ayla Jean Yackley in Ankara, Oliver Holmes and Mirna Sleiman in Beirut and Khaled Yacoub Oweis in Amman; Writing by Jon Hemming).

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Regime-Changers’ Report Card


By Justin Raimondo

Divide et impera – a strategy employed by empires since ancient times, and perfected by the British – has been the leitmotif of American foreign policy in the Middle East since the Bush administration’s “Arab Awakening” in Iraq and the supposed success of the “surge.”

I’ve written in this space about the playing of the Sunni card against what has always been the main target of the regime-changers, and that is Iran. I’ve also written about the “atomization” of the region as the operative goal of the Western alliance. The policy is a reenactment of the strategy deployed against the former Soviet Union. The idea is to smash up the nation-states in the region – whether it be in the central Asian former Soviet republics, or in the Middle East – splitting them into ever-smaller and more manageable pieces.

The neoconservative regime-changers’ were never shy about proclaiming their grandiose goal, which was to “drain the swamp” of the Middle East and achieve some fundamental “transformation,” presumably in a secular liberal-democratic direction. What this meant, in terms of real power relations, was redrawing the map of the Middle East. So, how’re they doing so far?

Listening to the neocons who still defend the Iraq war as a great “success,” outsiders can only roll their eyes and wonder where the Kool-Aid dispenser is located. However, to those who understand neocon-speak – a dialect of the language spoken in Bizarro World – it all makes perfect “sense.”

Split up along ethnic and sub-regional lines, the “nation” of Iraq is a fiction: Kurdistan is de facto independent, and the rest is up for grabs. Now the stage is set for the conflict between the contenders for regional hegemony: the US and its regional allies, including the Saudis and Israel, versus Iran.

As they say, “Mission accomplished!”

When Egypt’s military rulers arrested 19 employees of Western NGOs, including the son of US Secretary of Labor Ray LaHood, the accused were charged with trying to cause “chaos” in the streets and overthrow the state. Whatever the truth of these serious charges, this particular choice of words identifies US policy in the region to a tee. An account of our consistent meddling, since the midpoint of the second Bush administration, ought to be entitled “Operation Chaos,” because that is the result if not the intent. Since this is the court of public opinion, and not a court of law, the bar for proving intent is a bit lower. Given that, there is plenty of circumstantial evidence pointing to deliberate intent and not just incompetence on the part of Washington.

The Bush administration pioneered the playing of the Sunni card, coupling the great “success” of the surge with the Arab Awakening, so-called, in which we lured the Sunnis away from al-Qaeda. This was part of a larger strategy to build a counterforce to Iran’s growing influence, stoking fear of a Shi’ite regional ascendancy to rally the Sunnis of the region against Tehran, the ultimate target.

The chief consequence of the Iraq war has been the abolition of Iraq as a nation: Kurdistan is effectively independent, and the rest is up for grabs. In Syria, Western-backed rebels have taken a big chunk out the country, in a reenactment of the Libyan regime-change operation: Libyan fighters are now in Syria. This alliance with Islamists is a continuation of the strategy first inaugurated in Egypt, where the US turned on its longtime ally, Hosni Mubarak, and funded the “democratic” opposition. While Western-style liberals and the Al Jazeera network, funded by the government of Qatar, hailed the rebels of Tahrir Square, the real power of the “democratic” movement was in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood.

One has to wade all the way to the end of a long and dreary New York Times piece on Mohammed Morsi’s victory to read about the press conference given by a coalition of liberal democratic and secular parties, which hailed the junta’s dissolution of parliament and accused the US of aiding the Brotherhood. Indeed, the National Democratic Institute has openly admitted giving some kind of assistance to Brotherhood candidates and electoral activities. One has to wonder about the extent and nature of this aid.

The disqualification of the original Brotherhood candidate, and the substitution of Morsi, a former assistant professor at Cal State Northridge, sets the stage for a post-Mubarak Egypt organized along Turkish lines. As in Turkey, the military will step in when the Islamists threaten to get out of hand, but will otherwise be allowed to rule as long as they don’t try to pursue an independent foreign policy or offend the delicate sensibilities of Western liberals too often.

While Egypt often seems to teeter on the brink of chaos, so far at least it has been controlled chaos – with most of the strings being pulled from Washington, D.C. Continuing a policy inherited from the Bush administration, the Obama administration is playing the Sunni card for all its worth, using its influence and resources to build “democratic” Islamist movements as a counterweight to both al Qaeda and the alleged Iranian threat.

The US government did the same thing during the cold war era, when the US subsidized democratic socialists in the labor unions and among the intelligentsia in order to challenge the hegemony of the Communists on the left. What this meant, in practice, was that plenty of ex-Trotskyites and professional turncoats enjoyed lucrative careers, courtesy of the American taxpayers. In this particular case the line for the gravy-train is going to be extra long.

So, how are the regime-changers doing? Let’s see:

Iraq – check!

Libya – check!

Egypt – check!

Syria – three-quarters of a check!

That leaves only Iran, and parts of Lebanon, as yet unconquered. But don’t worry – they’re working on it. Operation Chaos is right on schedule.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on Regime-Changers’ Report Card

Russia won’t permit foreign intervention in Syria


The Ugly Truth

The Kremlin never raised its voice against the US occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and chose to silently watch the Arab Spring that was sweeping through North Africa and the Middle East.

When their interests in the Middle East started to be affected, the Kremlin harshly reacted to the development, and it is not eager to allow any foreign intervention into Syria and the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia had exhibited a similar attitude by giving the green light to Eastern European countries’ becoming members of the European Union and NATO in the wake of the tearing down of the Berlin Wall.

However, when the wave of colored revolutions reached Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and other former Soviet republics, which the Kremlin sees as the near abroad, it resulted in clashes in South Ossetia. In the end, the Kremlin was able to reinforce its interests in this region.

As for the Syrian crisis, Russia has the upper hand. First of all, the US, whose prestige has been greatly damaged in Afghanistan, is not able to take serious actions against the al-Assad regime. US President Barrack Obama, who will run in the presidential elections in November, has postponed all problems with Russia, including the missile shield issue, until his second term of office.

The EU countries, struggling with the debt crisis, are not able to control the process, starting with the revolutions in North Africa. The Kremlin managed to overcome the 2008 global economic crisis with the least damage thanks to its oil and natural gas revenues. Moreover, with the re-election of Vladimir Putin as president, Russia has attained political stability. Now, Russia is trying to gather former Soviet republics around the Eurasian Economic Community (EAEC) and increase the influence of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the international arena.

Syria is a second Georgia

The Kremlin, which considers Syria to be a second Georgia, wants to keep its only naval base outside the former Soviet Union under its control and protect its interest in the region.

Russia also is concerned that introduction of radical Islamic regimes in the Middle East would encourage the Muslim republics and separatist movements in the Caucasus to revolt. To promote the tradition of changing the regime of a country through foreign intervention is the red line for the Kremlin. Russia, which claimed after the presidential elections held in December and March that anti-Putin protests had been sponsored by external forces, believes that opposition groups in Syria are being armed by foreign powers.

As a result, the Kremlin, which will be warm to a regime change though a foreign intervention only if it controls the process, seeks a peaceful settlement in Syria. However, Russia does not openly lend support to the Assad regime but demands that all parties should take their places at the negotiating table in order to solve the problem together. In fact, Russia lent great support to international envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan and has been working hard to keep the plan alive.

Russia is preparing a new summit on Syria with the participation of Turkey, the Arab League and the permanent members of UN Security Council, and insists that regime change should be done through constitutional methods. Putin, who attended the G-20 Summit in Mexico after his election and held bilateral talks with the world leaders including the US President Obama, reiterated that Russia will not allow a foreign intervention into Syria. Despite UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s remarks claiming Putin would change his attitude on Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov rejected the claims by saying there is no change in Russia’s position on Syria.

Weapon shipments to Syria will continue

Arguing that the continuous focus on Russia’s weapon shipments, which are conducted within the frameworks of international agreements, is an attempt to put pressure on Russia, Lavrov stated that the weapons that Russia shipped to Syria are defense systems which cannot be used against civilians.

On the other hand, Lavrov has confirmed that a cargo ship, which was forced to turn back to Russia by British authorities, was carrying three Mi-25 attack helicopters that have been refurbished under a contract with Syria signed in 2008. Lavrov also added that any a foreign intervention into Syria will give rise to the spread of ethnic or religious conflicts in the region.

Russia’s new foreign policy

Speaking to Today’s Zaman, Yelena Suponina, head of the Center of Asian and Middle Eastern Affairs at the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies, stated that Russia will never allow foreign intervention in Syria.

Recalling Russia’s right to veto in the UN Security Council, Suponina said: “It was expected that after the presidential elections held in March, Russia would change its attitude regarding the issue of Syria. Russia’s foreign policy will not change. This is not only about Russia’s Syria policy; it will apply to all of Russia’s new foreign policies.”

According to Suponina, Russia is aware of Turkey’s influence over the Syrian opposition, and this is why Turkey has been invited to the Syria summit organized by Russia. Noting that she has interviewed members of both the Assad administration and dissident groups in Syria, Suponina expressed her pessimism, saying the summit will fail to create an atmosphere of peace in the region because of a difference in the attitudes of the two sides.

Gumer Isayev, director of the St. Petersburg-based Center for Middle Eastern Studies, told Sunday’s Zaman that the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad through foreign intervention would create an atmosphere of chaos in the region.

Isayev argues that those who want the downfall of the regime in Syria to be brought about by foreign intervention do not care about the stability and security of the region. He added that Iran and Syria are new centers of power in the region as a result of their geopolitical positions, and therefore the Kremlin is taking strategic steps.

During the recent G-20 summit in Mexico, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with Putin to discuss the Syrian crisis. Erdoğan has announced that both he and Putin have directed their foreign ministers to cooperate on the Syrian issue. Now, all eyes have turned to the joint work by these two foreign ministers and the international summit that will be held under the leadership of Russia to find a solution to the Syrian crisis.

Posted in RussiaComments Off on Russia won’t permit foreign intervention in Syria

Nazi’s Bulldozed My House Again


Occupied Lives: I will build my house again

Hassan Al Najjar in his rented house in Abbassan village.

3 years ago, on 11 January 2009, Hassan Al Najjar’s (62) house in Khuza’a village was destroyed by Israeli forces. This happened during the Israeli offensive against Gaza, codenamed ‘Cast Lead,’ a 22 day military assault on the Gaza Strip that resulted in a massive amount of destruction and fear: “I cannot even begin to explain how this affected me.  I am in total shock.  I had put great effort into building that house.  14 years of hard work, and in 5 minutes it was all on the ground.”

Hassan’s house is located approximately 500 meters from the Israeli border.  This is near the buffer zone, a military no-go area that was proclaimed by Israel to exist between Israel and the Gaza Strip, which extends along the entire northern and eastern perimeter of the Gaza Strip adjacent to Israel, but inside Palestinian territory.  In 2009, Israelannounced that the buffer zone would extend 300 meters into Gaza, although in reality it can extend as far as 1,500 meters.  The buffer zone is often enforced using live fire, which results in the loss of Palestinian lives, land and property.

After Operation Cast Lead, Hassan, his 2 wives and their 12 children moved to a rented house in Abassan village, east of Khan Yunis, and gradually began rebuilding their lives.  2 months ago, they started reconstructing their destroyed home.  However, just 2 weeks ago, on 14 June 2012, at around 2:30pm, the house was bulldozed again by Israeli forces: “Our two story house was in the final stages of reconstruction.  In fact, there were workers in the house when Israeli forces began approaching the village.  The workers saw the bulldozers coming and ran.”

No prior warning was given by Israeli forces of the impending attack on Hassan’s house: “They had warned the ICRC that they would destroy a school- Shuhada Khuza’a- nearby, but they extended this destruction to my house.”  No explanation has been provided as to why only Hassan’s house was attacked on 14 June 2012.

Hassan is not the only Palestinian who has had their home destroyed near the buffer zone: “There are people whose houses were taken down before.  It was like a nightmare watching it happen to other people, but the real nightmare began when they destroyed my own house.”

Hassan’s destroyed house in Khuza’a 

This attack has had a negative effect on Hassan and his family: “I have to rent two separate houses for my 2 wives and the children.  It is not like before, where we could all live together in one big house.  The family has been split up.”  This has resulted in an even heavier financial burden for the family.

Moreover, nothing could be salvaged from Hassan’s house.  The cost of the loss of his property is estimated to be USD 45,000: “I will not be able to re-use any of the construction material and I will also have to pay a lot of money to have the debris removed when I start building again.  Luckily, the house was empty though, so I do not have to replace furniture or personal items again.  I am lucky though that I can rebuild, when the time comes.”

The destruction of Hassan’s house also sheds light on the reality that, owing to the closure, building materials remain unavailable or too expensive in the Gaza Strip: “It was not easy to reconstruct the house.  It was very hard to find the building material.  The cement available in the market is also of very poor quality.  I really had struggled to find the material to rebuild my house.”  This home, which he struggled to reconstruct, was easily destroyed by Israeli forces.

Hassan still maintains that, irrespective of the risks involved, he will try to reconstruct the house yet again: “It is my land. I will keep rebuilding, even if I do it 1000 times.  Nobody can explain my suffering regardless of the number of words that are said or written.  I just need to gather my strength for now, but I will build my house again.  In spite of everything that is happening now, I am confident that I will be living under one roof with my family again someday.”

The direct targeting of a civilian object constitutes a war crime, as codified in Article 8(2) (b) (ii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.  Similarly, under the Fourth Geneva Convention Article 53, the destruction of private property is prohibited unless rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.  The subsequent enforcement against private property in the buffer zone results in the violation of numerous human rights provisions, including the right to adequate shelter contained in Article 11(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Posted in Gaza, Human RightsComments Off on Nazi’s Bulldozed My House Again

NATO War Council To Target Syria

By Rick Rozoff

Global Research

On Tuesday, June 26 Belgium time the North Atlantic Council, the highest governing body of the U.S.-dominated North Atlantic Treaty Organization military bloc, will take up the issue of Syria under provisions of its founding document that in the past ten and a half years have resulted in military deployments preparatory to and the subsequent waging of full-scale wars.

The ambassadors of the alliance’s 28 member states constitute the council, nations whose collective population is 900 million. Its founding members include three nuclear powers – the U.S., Britain and France – the first the self-proclaimed world’s sole military superpower.

Until the day before the meeting NATO was to take up a request by member Turkey to hold consultations under the terms of the North Atlantic (Washington) Treaty’s Article 4, which allows any member state to call on the entire alliance to respond to alleged threats to its territorial integrity and security.

On June 25, three days after a Turkish F-14 supersonic fighter-bomber was shot down over Syrian waters, Turkey announced that it was going to ask the military alliance to discuss its Article 5, which states that “an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all” and commits NATO allies to “assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force…”

Article 5 was invoked for the first and to date only time in October 2001 and is the basis for the deployment of troops from 28 NATO and 22 partner states to Afghanistan over the past decade.

Article 4 was first invoked on February 16, 2003, again by the North Atlantic Council and again in relation to Turkey, on the eve of the U.S. and British invasion of Iraq. So-called Operation Display Deterrence was launched as a result and five Patriot interceptor missile batteries, three Dutch and two American, and four Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) surveillance aircraft were deployed to Turkey in conjunction with NATO’s Integrated and Extended Air Defence System.

NATO, in its own words, deployed “1000 technically advanced and highly capable forces” to run the operation.

The first AWACS aircraft arrived on February 26 and three weeks later the bombardment and invasion of Iraq began. Although Iraq at the time had a population of approximately 25 million and Turkey 70 million, and although Turkey had one of the most formidable militaries in the region while Iraq’s had been weakened by the eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s, the U.S. and allied bombing campaign of 1991 and in the interim, and twelve years of crushing sanctions, NATO afterward praised Operation Display Deterrence as having “tested and proved the success of NATO’s military to respond immediately and with appropriate defensive force to a rapidly developing threat against a member of the Alliance.”

In what manner a fatally debilitated Iraq had presented Turkey with “a rapidly developing threat” was never specified.

The AWACS flew 100 missions and the Dutch Patriot batteries included Patriot Advanced Capability-2 missiles and “a more modern missile provided by Germany,” according to NATO.

The operation was concluded on May 3, 65 days after it began and 45 days after the invasion of Iraq. To provide an indication of what NATO will claim after its meeting on Syria, the then-Turkish ambassador to the bloc stated after the invoking of Article 4:

“I convey once again the most sincere gratitude of the Turkish people and Government for the Alliance solidarity shown in reinforcing the defence of my country in response to the latest crisis in Iraq. We are convinced that, through such an active and collective display of deterrence, NATO has not only extended a much-appreciated helping hand to one of its members in her hour of need, but also proven, once again, its credibility and relevance as the cornerstone of collective security in the Euro-Atlantic area”.

Turkey was then, as it is now, portrayed as the victim – in its “hour of need” moreover – and besieged and soon to be devastated Iraq as the aggressor.

Syria’s population now is much the same as Iraq’s was then and Turkey is now a nation almost three times as large. Syria is isolated and its military forces are small compared to its neighbor Turkey’s. The latter can count on the support of 27 allies, including most of the world’s major military powers. The U.S. has an estimated 90 B61 tactical nuclear weapons stationed at the Incirlik Air Base 35 miles from Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.

Activating the Article 5 mutual military assistance – in effect war – clause has been mentioned by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at least twice since April, on the first occasion over two months before the downing of the Turkish warplane last week.

On June 25 Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc announced that his nation “has made necessary applications with NATO regarding Article 4 and Article 5.”

According to the Associated Press, he added:

“It should be known that within legality we will of course use all rights granted under international law until the end. This also includes self-defense. This also includes retaliation many-fold. This includes all sanctions that can be applied to the aggressor state under international law. Turkey will not leave anything out on this issue…”

The U.S. and NATO have been itching for a pretext to attack Syria, and Turkey, the only NATO member to border the country, has always been the pretext which would be employed to justify military action against the Arab nation.

Last Friday’s incident and the NATO meeting following it signal the fourth act in a tragedy that the world community has precious little time to stop.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on NATO War Council To Target Syria

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