Archive | July 20th, 2012


The last days of Syrian butcher Assad’s regime – and of his Western
supporters!We are witnessing the last days of Bashar “The Butcher” Assad, the Alawite
sectarian dictator ruling Syria. Slowly but surely, the revolutionaries of the
Free Syrian Army (FSA) are closing in on his vipers’ nests.

Three days ago a massive bomb, pre-positioned by FSA fighters, exploded during
a meeting of Assad’s top henchmen – Defence Minister Dawud Rajiha, Deputy
Defence Minister and Assad brother-in-law Asif Shawkat, Deputy Vice-President
Hassan Turkmani and security services chief Hisham Ikhtiar.

For nearly a week now, the revolutionaries have been fighting regime forces and
Shabiha thugs in Damascus. The fact that they have been able to sustain the
fight right in the centre of the capital is a clear sign that the noose is
tightening around the butcher Assad’s neck.

Any day, any week, any month now, it will be over and Assad will be all over
our television screens – a pathetic, lifeless corpse or sliming his way down
the steps of a plane in Moscow or Beijing.

Yes, here in the West, lurking in the darkest corners of ignorance – on the
internet and on the English-language propaganda television channels of Russia
and Iran, RT and Press TV, cynics and self-styled “anti-imperialists” and some
“leftists” continue to pour out their bile and poisonous disinformation in
defence of Syria’s doomed dictator.

They know who they – we won’t waste our time engaging with them in
interminable, futile debates. But very soon history judge them, and the
inexorable march of the Arab Awakening will expose them and confine them to the
dustbin of history, forever.

Below we bring to your attention three articles that analyse the delusions and
motives behind these reactionary, self-serving enemies of the Arab people:

*Henry Lowi, “Storming the Bastille in Syria”

*Phan Binh, “Libya and Syria: when anti-imperialism goes wrong”

*Nureddin Sabir, “Cynicism and black propaganda: the left’s reactions to the
Libyan and Syrian revolutions

Posted in SyriaComments Off on ANTI-SYRIA ZIONIST PROPAGANDA

London braces for IsraHell strike on Iran during 2012 Games


Olympic planning committee fears a military showdown during the largest sporting event in the world

Times of Israel

Taking into account the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran during the 2012 Summer Games, the Olympic committee in charge of the London event has formed a special team to prepare for the contingency.

According to the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth on Wednesday., the team — consisting of politicians, diplomats, security officials and organizing committee personnel — wrote in a report that such a strike was entirely possible.

Yedioth reported that the team was also preparing for the possibility of an earthquake or volcanic eruption.

England is thought to be within the range of Iranian missiles and UK officials believe that a military confrontation between Jerusalem and Tehran could involve the country against its will.

The special team listed a number of steps that would need to be taken in the event of such a conflict, among them: opening a special command center, providing secret safe houses for foreign leaders wishing to meet for diplomatic purposes, and preparing for emergency evacuations of dignitaries.

The team said England would have to guarantee the safety of the athletes and the continuation of the Games, as well as make sure Israeli and Iranian athletes are kept away from each other.

Yedioth reported that the recommendations were passed on to the police, who practiced dealing with the mass protests that could erupt if war broke out.

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Syria: The Real Situation

Syria: the real situation. 47568.jpeg

Letter from First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates in the Arab Republic of Syria, Walid Al Moallem, to Kofi Anan, UN Special Envoy. In this letter, the truth about Syria is explained, a truth that is radically different from the nonsense fueling the FUKUS* Axis’ belligerence.

Mr. Kofi Anan
UN Special Envoy

Dear Sir,

I read your letter, dated 13/07/2012, addressed to the Secretary General of the United Nations, in which you refer to the tragic reports from the village of Al Tremseh, near Hama and the use of guns, tanks and helicopters by part of the Syrian Government. I regret that you should have based your position on a single source of information and one which is inaccurate.

I hoped you would verify reports from the Syrian Government before adopting them, so you could see the truth of the facts, noting that once we attended to the request of the observer mission to visit Al Tremseh the visit was, in fact, held on a date set by them, on 14/07/2012. What happened in the village of Al Tremseh near Hama, is that dozens of members of armed terrorist groups invaded the village and settled there, terrorizing the civilian residents and creating a command headquarters, weapons depots and places of torture of hostages, attacking more than one point of the security forces concentrated on the outskirts of the village, which required a response from the security forces at 5:00 in the morning of Thursday, 12/07/2012.

These attacks remained for some hours, but government forces did not use planes or helicopters or tanks or guns, but entered the town under the protection of military transport cars like BMB and used small arms, as defined by the Initial Understanding signed between Syria and the United Nations. During the clashes, only five houses were damaged in the village who were used as headquarters of the armed terrorist groups, as there were found large quantities of arms, ammunition and explosive devices.
I say to you that government forces committed no massacre, as announced by the press, but armed groups brought with them some of the bodies of their dead and claimed that the Syrian army launched a massacre against civilians, a fact that I strongly deny.


Syria: the real situation. 47569.jpeg

I find it very strange your silence about the daily violations committed by armed terrorist groups, which have already exceeded ten thousand and five hundred violations from 12/04/2012 to date. Honestly, there was no mention about it in your statements or reports to the Security Council. The adoption of non-credible sources of information affects your mission and serves only the interests of those seeking the failure of this mission, the same time that Syria cares for the success of your mission and reaffirms the commitment of the Government of Syria to the Six-Point Plan and the Initial Understanding signed on 19.4.2012, as well as the understanding which occurred between yourself and the President Bashar Al Assad, during your last visit to Damascus and Syria expects further progress in implementing this agreement to stop the violence and start the political process.
Please accept my compliments and I ask that a copy of my letter is sent to the UN Secretary General and the President of the Security Council.

Walid al-Moallem
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates

Damascus in 07.14.2012.

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Persian Gulf Primed to Explode


By Kaveh L Afrasiabi 

“US navy fires on Emirate boat out of fear of Iran” – headline in Kayhan Newspaper, Tehran. 

The Persian Gulf powder keg may soon explode if the current cycle of mounting tensions continues unabated. Two days ago, a minor incident involving a US refueling warship and an Indian fishing boat off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) resulted in one fatality and three wounded. That the fishermen insist they were fired on without a warning – contrary to the US navy’s assertion – gives us a prelude to more ominous developments on the horizon. It seems trigger-happy American sailors see gathering clouds of conflict and are taking preemptive measures that, in this particular case, made a small dent in otherwise amicable US-India relations. 

In a sign of New Delhi’s unwillingness to call for an inquiry into the incident, however, it has not voiced even a whisper of criticism of the US. Initially, US media reported that the incident was a US warning to “Iran and al-Qaeda” to stay away from US warships, in light of Iran’s renewed threats to close the Strait of Hormuz. This reflects a US siege mentality that also underscores the Persian Gulf region’s growing volatility and potential for imminent maritime tensions. 

This spike in tensions is also partly due to the US navy’s bulked up presence in the region. The Pentagon on July 16 deployed an extra aircraft carrier there months ahead of schedule. It is also organizing unprecedented mine-sweeping exercise in the area – this month it deployed four additional minesweepers and additional fighter jets to the region. 

The resulting overcrowding of Persian Gulf waters with the US fleet is an invitation for similar incidents to this week’ fatal encounter. Accidental confrontations could easily escalate into something bigger in coming weeks and months, particularly if the US and Iran bump into each other. 

There is no guarantee that a US-Iran war would not be triggered by such incidents, since there is no military-to-military hotline or similar communications to handle such emergencies. In spite of some US overtures toward such a preventive mechanism, Iran refuses to consider it, as well as any other “incident at sea” protocols, since it regards the US presence in the Persian Gulf as fundamentally illegitimate. 

The thickening fog of suspicion and mutual distrust is growing more dangerous, with the US pondering the possibility of an Iranian provocation and Tehran studying the US’s inclination to resort to shows of force to assert its hegemony. Beyond such tactical questions, the larger strategic question is what is Washington’s ultimate aim? 

From Tehran’s vantage point, it scored big points in recent drills that convinced the West of its vastly improved missile capability, contrary to various US expert studies that have painted a different picture, citing the Iranian missiles’ lack of precision and relatively low payload. Confronted by a more lethal adversary than previously thought, the US is now treading a fine line by relying on its military muscle to deter any Iranian “asymmetrical” provocation that could see oil prices soar. The US containment strategy may not work, however, if Tehran decides to up the ante against the US over the sanctions that are hurting the Iranian economy. 

This is unlikely to happen, however, as major US exemptions for the Iran oil sanctions will, at least for the next five months, give the green light for business to continue mostly as usual with regards to Iran’s oil shipments. Should the US choose to remove those exemptions when they are up for review, Iran may opt for more direct action in the Persian Gulf. 

In this rapidly evolving milieu, the Persian Gulf is hostage to the geostrategic calculations of, on the one hand, a Western superpower and its local client states and, on the other, a traditional regional power with growing military prowess. What makes the scenario more dangerous is that the whole picture is moving in the direction of a zero-sum game of strategy, that is, a win-lose scenario, increasingly bereft of prior shades of grey indicating “shared” or “parallel” interests. This sharpening of conflicting interests is ready-made fuel for open conflict in the Persian Gulf. 

In the assortment of available remedies, one can easily point to the on-going multilateral nuclear talks between Iran and the “5 +1″ nations (the United Nations Security Council permanent five members plus Germany) that have now been degraded to the level of experts. If the Western nations headed by the United States decide to continue with the uncompromising approach already seen at Iran Six meetings in Baghdad and Moscow, however, the nuclear standoff will linger and possibly worsen. 

To de-escalate tensions with Iran, the West will need to take a vastly different negotiation strategy, one that is willing to trade sanctions for concessions. However, in a US election year, this is unlikely to happen. 

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on Persian Gulf Primed to Explode

Mass Shooting at Colo. Movie Theater, 12 People Dead


A lone gunman dressed in riot gear burst into a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., at a midnight showing of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises” and methodically began shooting patrons, killing at least 12 people and injuring at least 38.

The suspect, James Holmes, 24, of Aurora, was caught by police in the parking lot of the Century 16 Movie Theaters, nine miles outside Denver, after police began receiving dozens of 911 calls at 12:39 a.m. MT. Police said the man appeared to have acted alone.

Witnesses in the movie theater said Holmes crashed into the auditorium through an emergency exit about 30 minutes into the film, set off a smoke bomb, and began shooting. Holmes stalked the aisles of the theater, shooting people at random, as panicked movie-watchers in the packed auditorium tried to escape, witnesses said.

“You just smelled smoke and you just kept hearing it, you just heard bam bam bam, non-stop. The gunman never had to reload. Shots just kept going, kept going, kept going,” one witness told ABC News.

“I’m with coworkers and we’re on the floor praying to God we don’t get shot, and the gunshots continue on and on, and when the sound finally stopped, we started to get up and people were just bleeding,” another theatergoer said.

Photos: Shooting at ‘Dark Knight’ Screening at Colorado Movie Theater

Police said 10 victims died inside the theater, while dozens of others were taken to local hospitals, including a child as young as 6 years old.

A San Diego woman identifying herself as James Holmes’s mother spoke briefly with ABC News this morning.

She had awoken unaware of the news of the shooting and had not been contacted by authorities. She immediately expressed concern that her son may have been involved.

“You have the right person,” she said.

“I need to call the police,” she added. “I need to fly out to Colorado.”

Holmes was wearing a bullet-proof vest and riot helmet and carrying a gas mask, rifle, and handgun, when he was apprehended, according to police. Holmes mentioned having explosives stored, leading police to evacuate his entire North Aurora apartment complex and search the buildings early this morning.

The highly-anticipated third installment of the Batman triology opened to packed auditoriums around the country at midnight showings on Friday morning, and features a villain named Bane who wears a bulletproof vest and gas mask. Trailers for the movie show explosions at public events including a football game. Though many moviegoers dressed in costume to attend the opening night screening, police have made no statements about any connection between the gunman’s motives and the movie.

Police in New York have intensified security around showings of the film throughout the five boroughs today, with police commissioner Ray Kelley saying that “as a precaution against copycats and to raise the comfort levels among movie patrons in the wake of the horrendous shooting in Colorado, the New York City Police Department is providing coverage at theaters where the ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is playing.”

The Paris premiere of the movie has been cancelled in the wake of the shootings. “Warner Bros. is deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident. We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time,” the movie’s producers, said in a statement.

Witnesses watching movies in theaters next to the one where the shooting took place said bullets tore through the theater walls and they heard screaming.

“The suspect throws tear gas in the air, and as the tear gas appears he started shooting,” said Lamar Lane, who was watching the midnight showing of the movie with his brother. “It was very hard to breathe. I told my brother to take cover. It took awhile. I started seeing flashes and screaming, I just saw blood and people yelling and a quick glimpse of the guy who had a gas mask on. I was pushed out. There was chaos, we started running.”

One witness said she saw people dropping to the ground after the gunshots began.

“We were maybe 20 or 30 minutes into the movie and all you hear, first you smell smoke, everybody thought it was fireworks or something like that, and then you just see people dropping and the gunshots are constant,” witness Christ Jones told ABC’s Denver affiliate KMGH. “I heard at least 20 to 30 rounds within that minute or two.”

A man who talked to a couple who was inside the theater told ABC News, “They got up and they started to run through the emergency exit, and that when she turned around, she said all she saw was the guy slowly making his way up the stairs and just firing at people, just picking random people,” he said. “The gunshots continued to go on and on and then after we didn’t hear anything…we finally got up and there was people bleeding, there was people obviously may have been actually dead or anything, and we just ran up out of there, there was chaos everywhere.”

Witnesses and victims were taken to Gateway High School for questioning.

Hundreds of police and FBI agents are involved in the investigation. A senior official who is monitoring the situation in Washington said that early guidance based on the early snapshot of this man’s background indicated that this act does not appear to be linked to radical terrorism or anything related to Islamic terrorism.

Though police have said that they believe the shooter was acting alone, they checked all cars in the parking lot and cleared the area near the theater.

Dr. Comilla Sasson, at the University of Colorado Hospital where many of the victims were taken, said they are currently operating on nine critical patients and have treated 22 in all. She called the hospital “an absolutely terrifying scene all night.”

“The good news is that the 3-month-old has actually been discharged home and is in the care of their parents

In a statement, President Obama said, “Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time. We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded.”

A man who was in the adjacent theater with his son, said that the commotion began as one of the action scenes was starting up.

“These guys came through, and they say someone’s shooting,” he said. “I thought, ‘Oh, they must have heard the fireworks, you know … I had no idea. And then the alarms started to go off in the theater.'”

An explosive device was also found inside the movie house. Police are not sure whether the device, which investigators are calling a bomb, was already in place or whether it was thrown into the crowd.

Ambulances rushed to the scene as audience members fled the theater.

Investigators are now interviewing friends and associates of the suspect to get a sense of the man’s background.

Matthew Mosk contributed to this report.

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Syria Zionist Nato puppets ‘control all Iraq border points’



Syrian Zionist NATO puppets took control of all border crossings between Iraq and Syria on Thursday, Baghdad’s deputy interior minister told AFP.

“All the border points between Iraq and Syria are under the control of the ‘ Free Syrian Army,’” Adnan al-Assadi told AFP by telephone.

“The border points and all the outposts are under the control of the Free Syrian Army.

“The Syrian army are focusing on Damascus.”

Assadi also said there was fighting under way between the Syrian army and rebels across the border from the northern Iraqi region of Sinjar.

The top official said Iraqi border guards had witnessed the ‘ Free Syrian Army ‘  take control of a border outpost, detain a Syrian army lieutenant colonel, and then cut off his arms and legs.

“Then they executed 22 Syrian soldiers in front of the eyes of Iraqi soldiers.”

The account of the killings could not be independently verified.

Assadi added: “If this situation continues, we are going to close the entire border with Syria.”

Earlier, an Iraqi border police lieutenant colonel told AFP that clashes began at noon at the Albu Kamal crossing in Anbar province.”

“And then in the evening, we saw the Syrian flag being brought down and the flag of the Free Syrian Army replaced it,” he told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“ We saw people wearing dishdashas (traditional Arab robes) and holding guns and they were walking inside the border post. We closed the border and we sent more patrols and more checkpoints along all the border with Syria.”

Government spokesman Ali Dabbagh meanwhile told Iraqiya state television that four planeloads of Iraqis had been flown from Syria back to Iraq on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, officials in western Anbar province, which borders Syria, said thousands of Iraqi families crossed from Syria back into their home country after Baghdad appealed for them to return to avoid escalating violence in Iraq’s western neighbour.

Anbar provincial council chief Saadun Obeid Shaalan said provincial authorities had provided Iraqis crossing the border with “humanitarian aid and 60 buses have entered Iraq, carrying Iraqis emigrating from Syria.”

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Washington Begins to Plan for Collapse of Syrian Government, pushes Zionist regime not to attack Syria


With the growing conviction that the Assad family’s 42-year grip on power in Syria is coming to an end, Obama administration officials worked on contingency plans Wednesday for a collapse of the Syrian government, focusing particularly on the chemical weapons that Syria is thought to possess and that President Bashar al-Assad could try to use on opposition forces and civilians.

Pentagon officials were in talks with Israeli defense officials about whether Israel might move to destroy Syrian weapons facilities, two administration official said. The administration is not advocating such an attack, the American officials said, because of the risk that it would give Mr. Assad an opportunity to rally support against Israeli interference.

President Obama’s national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, was in Israel over the weekend and discussed the Syrian crisis with officials there, a White House official said.

Mr. Obama called President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Wednesday and urged him again to allow Mr. Assad to be pushed from power. Russia, so far, has refused. A White House statement said that Mr. Putin and Mr. Obama “noted the growing violence in Syria and agreed on the need to support a political transition as soon as possible that achieves our shared goal of ending the violence and avoiding a further deterioration of the situation.”

The statement pointedly noted the “differences our governments have had on Syria,” but said the two leaders “agreed to have their teams continue to work toward a solution.”

American diplomatic and military officials said the bombing in Damascus on Wednesday that killed several of Mr. Assad’s closest advisers was a turning point in the conflict. “Assad is a spent force in terms of history,” Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, told reporters. “He will not be a part of Syria’s future.”

Alluding to Russia’s position, Mr. Carney said the argument that Mr. Assad’s ouster would result in more violence was refuted by the bombing, and that Mr. Assad’s continued rule “will result in greater violence,” not less.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said on Wednesday that Syria’s crisis, was “rapidly spinning out of control.”

Within hours of the bombing, the Treasury Department announced additional sanctions against the Syrian prime minister and some 28 other cabinet ministers and senior officials, part of the administration’s effort to make life so difficult for the government that Mr. Assad’s allies desert him. “As long as Assad stays in power, the bloodshed and instability in Syria will only mount,” said David S. Cohen, a senior Treasury official.

Behind the scenes, the administration’s planning has already shifted to what to do after an expected fall of the Assad government, and what such a collapse could look like. A huge worry, administration officials said, is that in desperation Mr. Assad would use chemical weapons to try to quell the uprising.

“The Syrian government has a responsibility to safeguard its stockpiles of chemical weapons, and the international community will hold accountable any Syrian officials who fails to meet that obligation,” Mr. Carney said.

Any benefit of an Israeli raid on Syria’s weapons facilities would have to be weighed against the possibility that the Assad government would exploit such a raid for its own ends, said Martin S. Indyk, the former United States ambassador to Israel and director of the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution.

He and several administration officials said the view was that Mr. Assad might use chemical weapons as a last resort. “But it crosses a red line, and changes the whole nature of the discussion,” Mr. Indyk said. “There would be strong, if not overwhelming sentiment, internationally, to stop him.” Russia, in particular, would probably have to drop its opposition to tougher United Nations sanctions against Syria, and Mr. Assad’s other remaining ally, Iran, would probably not look too kindly on a chemical attack.

The Obama administration must also worry about Mr. Assad’s arsenal, including chemical weapons, falling into other hands, including those of Al Qaeda — a risk at the center of the administration’s concerns, according to Robert Malley of the International Crisis Group.

“The government is falling,” Mr. Malley said. “But what will the fall look like? It could fall in Damascus, but not elsewhere; it could crumble in other areas but not the Alawite ones — there are a lot of variations to this.”

Beyond trying to stop the Assad government from using unconventional weapons, the United States must also work to make sure that the Alawite minority, ascendant under Mr. Assad and largely loyal to him, is not massacred once its protector is gone.

Mr. Obama has come under criticism from some Republicans in Congress who say that the United States should intervene militarily in Syria, and from Mitt Romney, his Republican opponent, who has said that he would arm the Syrian opposition, which the administration has not done directly.

Instead, Mr. Obama has backed United Nations efforts and urged Russia to join the United States in calling for Mr. Assad to step down. While the president has been faulted for his policy toward Syria, some foreign policy experts said that Mr. Obama’s approach could be vindicated, particularly if Mr. Assad is toppled without the United States taking military action.

The administration has not officially armed the Syrian rebels, but it has provided some financial aid, and has helped to prop up the Syrian opposition by its many efforts to delegitimize Mr. Assad through a steady stream of calls for him to step down.

The United States, Mr. Malley said “may actually achieve what it wanted — a fall of the regime without having to intervene militarily.”

But, he added, “Then it has to deal with all the variants of what a fall looks like, and what a post-Assad Syria looks like.”


Israel Is Forced to Rethink Its Regional Strategies

Standing on the Golan Heights, close enough to the Syrian border to hear what he called “the dull boom of shells” fired on the other side, Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, observed on Thursday that President Bashar al-Assad’s grip on power was slipping away.

“The disintegration is not abstract; it is real,” Mr. Barak said after a tour and debriefing with the local commander. “It is getting closer.”

The devolution in Syria, while welcome, presents a series of intensifying problems for Israel, its neighbor to the south. Israel’s leaders are growing concerned about Syria’s stockpiles of chemical weapons falling into the hands of rogue groups equally opposed to Israel; about the prospect of throngs of refugees appearing at the border; and about the Golan itself “turning into a lawless area where terror elements might also operate,” as Mr. Barak put it. There is concern that the collapse of the Syrian government could lead to a civil war in Lebanon.

Beyond that, the escalation in Syria, with the killing of several members of Mr. Assad’s inner circle, coming hours before a suicide attack on an Israeli tour bus in Bulgaria, only underscored how the Arab uprisings over the past 18 months have upended Israel’s strategic assessments about a neighborhood that it has traditionally viewed as hostile but stable.

No longer preoccupied with the Palestinians, Israel has now been confronted with a series of complex calculations. Should it strike Syria’s chemical weapons storehouses, as it did a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, or would that strengthen Mr. Assad’s hand by uniting the Arabs? Should it act alone against the Iranian nuclear program it sees as an existential threat, or let the United States plow ahead with diplomacy and sanctions? Should it act more aggressively against the military group Hezbollah in Lebanon? How should it navigate the shifting landscape in Egypt, where the new president hails from the Muslim Brotherhood?

“What you have in Syria is that the Middle East is coming apart; a new form of chaos is replacing what has existed,” said Dore Gold, a longtime diplomat who now runs the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. “The fundamentals you’re working with in the region are changing; you can’t just go back to the old discussions you might have had.

“Chaos is never an opportunity,” Mr. Gold added.

At the moment, the issue that looms largest may well be Syria’s arsenal of chemical and biological weapons. Over 40 years, Syria has amassed a stockpile, United States officials contend, of mustard gas, sarin and cyanide. In recent days, American and Israeli intelligence officials have said that Mr. Assad has been moving some of these weapons out of storage, apparently to keep them from falling into the hands of the rebels.

That has elevated concerns here that the weapons could fall into the hands of Israel’s enemies, including Islamist radicals who have taken up arms in the fight against Mr. Assad, or Hezbollah, which is increasingly worried over the potential fall of its patron.

“Israel will not sit idle,” said Danny Yatom, a former chief of the Mossad intelligence agency. “If we will have information that chemical agents or biological agents are about to fall into the hands of the Hezbollah, we will not spare any effort to stop it.”

But Shlomo Brom, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, said that while the prospect of chemical weapons in the hands of terrorist groups is frightening, the threat may not be as dire as it seems. In order for the weapons to be used, Mr. Brom said, two substances must be combined in a certain way, and they must be deployed via aircraft.

“In many cases, the weapons are not really usable,” Mr. Brom said. “You need knowledge, you need systems, to use it.”

Mr. Assad’s Syria has remained a steadfast enemy of Israel. The two countries have no formal relations and are technically at war. Mr. Assad has been a provocateur whose support for Iran and Hezbollah is seen by Jerusalem as pernicious. But he is, as many said in interviews on Thursday, well known, part of the old Middle East that began to unravel last year with the fall of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. With Mr. Mubarak’s ouster, Israel has had to contend with rising lawlessness in Sinai and concerns over the fate of the two nations’ peace treaty.

There is no telling what the ramifications would be if Mr. Assad fell.

“Bashar kept the border quiet, and now it can be like in the case of Sinai, with chaos and terror,” said Eyal Zisser, chairman of the Middle East and African history department at Tel Aviv University. “Most Israelis do not care about the grievances and the aspirations of their neighbors, democracy, justice, prosperity. They care about their own security. That’s the way of the average Israeli, and as a result, his government.”

The Golan, a strategic plateau of about 450 square miles, is home to about 39,000 Israelis, and Mr. Barak warned on Thursday that the longer fighting continued in Syria, “the risk grows that the bloody residue left over between the sides” could turn it “into a lawless area where terrorists might operate.”

Still, several leading government officials and analysts here said Israel hardly seemed on a war footing, using the same words to describe its posture: “watching from the outside.” While the threat of a chaotic Syria — or, for that matter, a nuclear Iran or a desperate Hezbollah with dangerous weaponry — may seem most acute here, they said, Israel continues to count on international intervention.

“It’s not only an Israeli issue: if Qaeda or radical members will take control of nonconventional weapons, it might appear anywhere on the globe,” said Ilan Mizrahi, a former head of Israel’s National Security Council, and deputy chief of Mossad. “I do not think that we have to be the whip of God.”

The Bulgaria bombing only complicates the Syria question. “The Iranians would love to see Israel retaliate against Hezbollah in a limited way,” said Yoram Schweitzer, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies. “It can create belligerent acts that could help Syria. The Iranians are very keen on helping Assad as his situation is getting worse and worse.”

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Syria Connects Iran, Resistance: Nasrallah


Lebanese Hezbollah supporters raise their fists as they listen to a televised speech by Hezbollah

Syria is a linking bridge between Iran and the resistance and, in better words, the principal supporter of the resistance at a special military level.”

Hezbollah’s Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah Nasrallah

Hezbollah’s Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah has described Syria as a leading regional military power and a bridge linking Iran to the resistance front, insisting that Damascus now serves as a real threat to the US and the Israeli regime.

Referring to Syria as ‘a genuine problem for the US and Israel due to its superior military might,’ Hezbollah’s secretary general said, “Syria is a linking bridge between Iran and the resistance and, in better words, the principal supporter of the resistance at a special military level.”

“There is a US-Israeli project against Syria,” he stated. “The US and Israel consider Syria as a problem, because Syria is a true supporter of the resistance.”

Nasrallah’s remarks came at a Wednesday night ceremony in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, commemorating the anniversary of the Islamic movement’s victory in 2006 against an all-out military offensive by the Israeli regime on Lebanon with the announced objective of rooting out Hezbollah.

Hezbollah’s leader blamed the West, headed by the United States, for blocking a national dialogue in Syria as well as sponsoring terrorist activities within the country.

Pointing to the recently intensified US-engineered sanctions against the Iranian nation, the Lebanese leader further described Iran as “100 times stronger than 30 years ago” despite the implementation of numerous plots against the country by the US and the Israeli regime.

Saying that Iran enjoys “a great human capital as well as abundant material resources,” Nasrallah emphasized that imposing economic sanctions is all the US and its allies are capable of doing against the Islamic Republic.

He also said the Islamic Republic has announced its willingness to provide the Lebanese army with armaments free of charge or at their base cost, adding, “This friendly country wants our nation’s army to be strong and it remains to be seen who in Lebanon is capable of accepting such a gift from Iran.”

Nasrallah also used the occasion to express sympathy with the Syrian nation and government over the recent terrorist bombing of a government building in Damascus that killed a number of senior Syrian officials, including Defense Minister Dawoud Rajiha, Deputy Defense Minister Assef Shawkat, and Assistant Vice President Hassan Turkmani.

He said that Syria provided most of the arms and missiles that Hezbollah used against the Israeli aggressors in the 33-day War on Lebanon in 2006, insisting that the reason there is a major US-led effort to destabilize and eventually bring down the Syrian government is that Damascus has firmly stood by its commitment to support the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance against the Israeli regime, which the US tries to establish as the “gendarme of the region.”

Nasrallah further called on Palestinians not to be deceived by the despotic Arab regimes and said, “I want to sincerely tell the Palestinian nation and various groups that if the issue of Palestine falls into the trap of regional Arab establishments, the name of Palestine will be wiped off the region forever.”

He also voiced support for the Lebanese army and highlighted the need for national unity within Lebanon as the key to counter the US-Israeli strategy of fomenting sectarian disputes in the country and the region.

“The July [2006] was an Israeli trick,” Nasrallah pointed out, noting that if Hezbollah had been defeated, the Tel Aviv regime would have expanded the war to Syria.

“The second stage of the Israeli attack was aimed at bringing down President Bashar al-Assad’s government,” he added, noting that Hezbollah’s victory in Lebanon thwarted this objective and prevented Syria from falling under the US-Israeli scheme.

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Russia and China veto of Syria sanctions condemned as ‘indefensible’


Britain, France and US reeling over third veto of UN draft resolution that would impose sanctions on the Assad regime

The UK, US and France rounded on Russia and China following the veto of a UN draft resolution on fresh Syrian sanctions, lambasting the move as “inexcusable” and accusing Moscow of buying time for Bashar al-Assad to “smash the opposition”.

Both Russia and China have consistently resisted the security council’s attempts to introduce sanctions on Damascus, meaning their veto was no surprise, but the strength of the response from those in favour gave some indication of the frustrations behind the scenes.

Britain’s foreign secretary, William Hague, condemned the two countries vetoing the resolution as “inexcusable and indefensible”, adding that Russia and China had “turned their back on the people of Syria in their darkest hour”.

It was the third time Russia and China have used their vetoes over Syria. The resolution would have allowed sanctions to be imposed on the Assad regime under chapter 7 of the UN Charter.

The UK ambassador, Sir Mark Lyall Grant, was the first to respond to the vote at the UN in New York, telling council members that the UK “is appalled by the decision of Russia and China to veto this draft resolution”.

“Russia and China are failing in their responsibilities as permanent security council members,” Lyall Grant said, adding that the proposed resolution is supported by almost every group internationally.

Lyall Grant said the other UN Security Council nations had “offered flexibility on Russia and China’s concerns”, yet the countries “argued that a chapter 7 resolution is somehow designed to seek conflict through the backdoor”.

“This argument is irrational,” he added.

The French ambassador, Gérard Araud, was even more critical, declaring that “‘history will prove [Russia and China] wrong, and it will judge them”.

“It is now clear that Russia merely wants to win time for the Syrian regime to smash the opposition,” he said.

Russia’s ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, fought back against the criticism, saying countries had “attempted to fan the flames of conflict within the UN Security Council”.

“The draft which was just voted on was biased. The threats of sanctions were levelled exclusively at the government of Syria. This runs counter to the spirit of the Geneva document and does not reflect the realities in the country today.”

China also believed the resolution to be “seriously problematic, with uneven content that is intended to put pressure on only one party”.

The country’s ambassador Li Baodong said countries had made “unfounded accusations against China”, adding that the resolution would “not only further aggravate the turmoil, but also result in spill over to other countries in the region”.

However Susan Rice, the US ambassador, said that the suggestion that the resolution would give the green light for foreign forces to enter Syria was “paranoid if not disingenuous”.

“It would in no way authorise or even pave the way for foreign military intervention,” Rice said. She said the resolution “would not even impose sanctions at these stage”.

“We have missed yet another critical opportunity to work together. We and the people of Syria cannot afford to miss any more,” she added.

“One can only hope that one day, before too many thousands more die, that Russia and China will stop protecting Assad and allow this council to play its proper role at the centre of the international response to the crisis in Syria.”

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Zio-nazi soldiers confiscate water storage tanks on West Bank

EIN AL HILWA, WEST BANK // These rocky foothills are a forbidding place even for the scattered Bedouin communities that have herded livestock here for generations. Yet it is not the summer heat that is threatening their way of life.

Last month, Israeli soldiers began confiscating water-storage containers used by Bedouin in several pastoral encampments on the northern fringes of the West Bank’s Jordan Valley area.

No explanation was given to the dozens of impoverished residents, who have since been rationing their already scarce water supplies and tending to thirsty livestock.

But no explanation was needed. Many here see the confiscations as the latest Israeli tactic to put pressure on Bedouin and Palestinian residents to leave this resource-rich area.

“Water is the source of life. Without it, how can we live here?” said Mohammed Aleyan, 34, a shepherd from Ein Al Hilwa encampment.

He said the soldiers came without notice and handcuffed him and his 15-year-old nephew before emptying water containers and leaving with the mobile tanks.

Because the encampments are denied access to Israeli utilities, the Bedouin have had to bring in water from distant springs by lorry.

Fatimah Ka’abne, a mother of seven aged in her 30s, said that some women pleaded with the soldiers to stop “but they threw us to the ground”. She said: “They laughed at us.”

The incidents highlight the broader struggle over the Jordan Valley and its fertile fields and substantial supplies of underground water.

The vast area, essential for a viable Palestinian state, forms more than a quarter of the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967. Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel was allowed to directly administer more than 60 per cent of the West Bank – including most of the Jordan Valley.

Little remit was granted to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and that may never be increased.

Few expect Israel to relinquish control any time soon, said Shlomo Brom, a fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

Israelis had begun to question the ability of Jordan – which maintains a peace treaty with Tel Aviv – to police its boundary with the Jordan Valley.

“The situation in Jordan is more chaotic than it used to be,” Mr Brom said.

Jordan – like Egypt, the other Arab country that has a peace treaty with Israel – has formed an integral pillar to Tel Aviv’s regional security.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, echoed this sentiment last year, reaffirming his position that Israel must retain a long-term military presence in the Jordan Valley in the event of a peace deal with the Palestinians because “Israel’s line of defence begins here”.

In the meantime, Israel has been expanding Jordan Valley settlements and extracting disproportional amounts of water from aquifers.

The area’s 37 settlements, home to about 9,500 residents, control an estimated 86 per cent of Jordan Valley land. Much of that is used for an extensive network of farms. So much, in fact, that Jordan Valley settlers use about a third of the annual amount of water available to all 2.5 million West Bank Palestinians, according to the Israeli-rights watchdog of the occupied Palestinian territories, B’Tselem.

Some Jordan Valley Bedouin survive on 20 litres a day, which B’Tselem describes on its website as barely meeting the World Health Organisation’s standard for “short-term survival”.

For Palestinians, the reason for such disparities is clear. Before the Israeli occupation began, between 200,000 and 320,000 Arabs, both Palestinian and Bedouin, lived in the Jordan Valley. Now, that number is about 56,000.

“They want to kick us out of the Jordan Valley and concentrate us in the cities,” said Ibrahim Sawaftah, a Palestinian activist in the area.

Many non-Jews have left the valley because of Israel’s policies of home demolitions and military exercises in the area

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