Archive | October 5th, 2013

Sammi Ibrahem talking about PSC

Episode 1

Episode 2

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Zio-NATO Rat’s raid Aramaic-speaking Christian town of Sednaya: report


By Jessica Chasmar

A Syrian opposition fighter aims at government forces during exchange of fire in Telata, a front-line village at the top of a mountain in the Idlib province of Syria. (AP Photo)

Weeks after al-Qaeda-linked rebels seized the Christian town of Maaloula in northwest Syria, they now have captured Sednaya, an Aramaic-speaking village to the north of Damascus.

Known for its large presence of Christian churches and monasteries, the village is under constant threat of Islamist militias from Yabroud and the Lebanese mountains, the Vatican news agency Fides reported.

“This is banditry,” a religious-order priest who wished to remain anonymous told Fides. “But it is also a vendetta against Christians. We would not want to give a meaning to these acts of religious persecution, but they are targeted attacks that have the effect of creating confusion and fear among civilians.”

A Catholic man reportedly was killed and another wounded during a raid Monday, a new tactic by armed gangs meant to create terror among the civilian population, Fides reported.

“Today, the people of Sednaya are afraid of having the same fate as Maaloula,” the priest added.

Civilians from Maaloula have formed a committee in Damascus.

“We appeal strongly to the international community,” a representative told Fides. “Nobody helps us, Islamic radicalism is becoming more discriminatory. We feel unprotected. No one does anything to prevent these human right abuses: we ask the UN Commission in Geneva to intervene.”

Smaller committees are cropping up all over Syria aimed at preventing violence. This is what is happening, for example, in the so-called “Valley of the Christians” in western Syria, where there are more than 50 Christian villages. More than 200,000 refugees have been added to the area, Fides reported, but even these villages suffer attacks by militants.

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Assad: Turkey will pay heavily for backing Syrian rebels




In an interview with Turkey’s Halk TV due to be broadcast later on Friday, Assad called Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan “bigoted” and said Turkey was allowing terrorists to cross into Syria to attack the army and Syrian civilians.

“It is not possible to put terrorism in your pocket and use it as a card because it is like a scorpion which won’t hesitate to sting you at the first opportunity,” Assad said, according to a transcript published on Halk TV’s website.

“In the near future, these terrorists will have an impact on Turkey and Turkey will pay a heavy price for it.”

Turkey, which shares a 900-kilometer (560-mile) border with Syria and has NATO’s second largest deployable military force, is one of Assad’s fiercest critics and a staunch supporter of the opposition, although it denies arming the rebels.

It shelters a quarter of the 2 million people who have fled Syria and has often seen the conflict spill across its frontier, responding in kind when mortars and shells fired from Syria have hit its soil.

Along with Western allies opposed to Assad, it has grown alarmed by divisions among the rebels and the deepening influence of radical Islamists in Syria.

During the interview, Assad also said it was still too early to say whether he will run for re-election in next year’s presidential vote. He said “the picture will be clearer” in the next four to five months because Syria is going though “rapid” changes on the ground.

Assad has been president since 2000; his second seven-year-term ends in mid-2014.

Syria’s opposition wants him to step down and hand over power to a transitional government, with full powers until new elections are held.

Despite the civil war, he still enjoys wide support among minorities, including Christians and Alawites, members of the Shiite Islam sect.

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I$raHell, Gulf states said discussing new alliance to stop Iran


I$raHell TV: Intensive talks with leading figures taking place over recent weeks, amid concern that Tehran will dupe Washington

Times of Israel

Israel has held a series of meetings with prominent figures from a number of Gulf and other Arab states in recent weeks in an attempt to muster a new alliance capable of blocking Iran’s drive toward nuclear weapons, Israel’s Channel 2 reported Wednesday.

According to the report, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been supervising a series of “intensive meetings” with representatives of these other countries. One “high ranking official” even came on a secret visit to Israel, the report said.

The report came a day after Netanyahu, in an overlooked passage of his UN speech, noted that shared concerns over Iran’s nuclear program “have led many of our Arab neighbors to recognize… that Israel is not their enemy” and created an opportunity to “build new relationships.”

The Arab and Gulf states involved in the new talks have no diplomatic ties with Jerusalem, the report noted. What they share with Israel, it said, is the concern that President Hasan Rouhani’s new diplomatic outreach will fool the US and lead to a US-Iran diplomatic agreement which provides for “less than the dismantling of the Iranian nuclear program.”

“There is a deep sense of anxiety concerning what’s happening in Iran,” Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor told Channel 2 Wednesday. While he avoided comment on any direct contact between Israel and the Gulf states, he said there were messages “from all over the region” being transmitted to the highest ranks of the US government.

Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi, who is close to Netanyahu, indicated to the Times of Israel after the prime minister’s speech to the General Assembly on Tuesday that Israel was no longer certain that the Obama administration would use force against Iran even in a last resort to stop[ it attaining nuclear weapons.

In the past, Israel maintained an interest office in Doha, Qatar, but it was closed in 2009. It is widely believed that Jerusalem still maintains some sort of engagement with various states in the Persian Gulf region, with whom it has many joined interests. The government is extremely careful not to publicly acknowledge such ties — in order not to jeopardize them.

On Tuesday Netanyahu made it clear that “Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons” and could take military action to stop it from doing so. ”If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone. Yet, in standing alone, Israel will know that we will be defending many, many others,” he stated.

He immediately added: “The dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the emergence of other threats in our region have led many of our Arab neighbors to recognize, finally recognize, that Israel is not their enemy. And this affords us the opportunity to overcome the historic animosities and build new relationships, new friendships, new hopes.”

He went on: “Israel welcomes engagement with the wider Arab world. We hope that our common interests and common challenges will help us forge a more peaceful future.”

A number of Sunni countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, have been vocally opposed to Iran’s nuclear program, placing them and Israel on the same side of the debate.

A carelessly edited version of the 2013 Israeli state budget revealed that Israel opened a diplomatic office somewhere in the Persian Gulf between 2010 and 2012. Foreign Ministry sources asked the Finance Ministry to remove the sensitive clause from the budget — and from the public’s eye.

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Naziyahu sidelined on nuclear Iran, a victim of his own success



The Zio-Nazi PM was back in his element, working the New York media, but his message of gloom and doom marred his vindication as the man who warned the West.


Throughout his long, exhaustive and often intimate interview with Charlie Rose on PBS this week, Benjamin Netanyahu glanced sideways every few minutes, away from his host and toward his aides and confidantes standing on the sidelines.

“How’m I doing?” his eyes seemed to be asking, Ed Koch-style. “Look, I’m still a master of the pointed one-liner, a connoisseur of the appropriate phrase. Tell me I’m not the best, after all these years.”

There was something touching in Netanyahu’s need for approval, you must admit, at least if you’re in a generous mood. Netanyahu is one of the most accomplished spokespersons that Israel has ever had, at least in English, with the legendary Abba Eban as his only serious rival. But here he was, begging for some positive feedback, seeking and expecting applause for a nifty metaphor, a cute idiom, a clever colloquialism delivered in the kind of impeccable American accent that only daily usage can maintain.

Netanyahu was back in his element, at the scene of his prime, working the New York media just as he did almost 30 years ago when he served as Israel’s envoy to the United Nations. He huddled with his old chum Andrea from NBC, joked around with Charlie from PBS and gave interviews in Spanish and even Farsi, carefully planting his pithy observations and his pointed one-liners to shore up his dark and foreboding speech on Tuesday at the UN General Assembly.

It was just like the good old days. Netanyahu was on a “media blitz,” his bureau explained, “to puncture the balloon” that Iranian President Rohani had inflated, pulling the U.S. media back down to earth from the delusional heights to which they had soared. His spokespersons distributed YouTube pictorials of Netanyahu being interviewed along with tweets that proclaimed, without blushing it seems, that he was a “Light to the (United) Nations.”

Netanyahu and his aides claimed that they had carefully bided their time before lowering Bibi’s boom on the Rohani festivities, but underneath their boastful bravado one could detect clear signs disappointment, if not desperation. The American media dutifully broadcast their interviews with Netanyahu, but did so furtively and minimialistically, as if an old friend had asked for an inconvenient favor, before switching back to the political drama of the government shutdown in Washington. Netanyahu, suddenly, was the wrong man, at the wrong time, with the wrong message.

The cruel irony, of course, is that Netanyahu was being relegated to the sidelines at the very minute that he was arguably marking his greatest victory, his historic vindication.

It was he, after all, who started warning the West 30 years ago about the Iranian threat; he, who wrote in his book “A Place Among the Nations” two decades ago that only American leadership and tough international sanctions could stop the nuclear drive of Iranian fundamentalism, a “cancerous tumor that threatens Western civilization.” He, who at a chance meeting seven years ago in the VIP lounge at Reagan International Airport in Washington DC convinced then-senator Barack Obama – according to Netanyahu’s aides – to sponsor a bill toughening sanctions against Tehran; he, who campaigned against Iran’s nuclear program from his first day as prime minister; he, who enlisted the U.S. Congress and American Jewry to his side; he, who was the driving force, in many ways, behind the toughest sanctions regime the world has ever seen, the one that is now bringing Tehran, possibly on its knees, to seek an accommodation.

This was the moment that Netanyahu could have smugly said “I told you so,” but his triumph was also the instrument of his undoing, an affliction in disguise, the sweet taste of victory that turned bitter in his mouth. He was entangled in the internal contradiction of having to express grudging support for a diplomatic solution in which he hardly believes, a process of negotiations that he himself had engineered but which now rendered him largely irrelevant.

Netanyahu, who does nothing to discourage sycophants who place him on a pedestal with his hero, Winston Churchill, could have been compared this week to the Churchill of July, 1945, after his astonishing thrashing by Labour’s Clement Atlee in the general elections, when the Brits saluted the British bulldog’s triumph over Nazi Germany but decided it was time for something completely different.

Suddenly, Netanyahu found himself recast once again as that annoying killjoy of yesteryear, the self-anointed prophet of doom, the obsessive pessimist who can’t see a ray of light, even when it is shining in his eyes – who “can’t take ‘yes’ for an answer,” just like the Republicans on Capitol Hill.

His tough and uncompromising speech at the UN may have been appreciated by most Israelis – including this one – but it was less favorably received, when it wasn’t being ignored, by American officials and opinion-makers. Even Jewish leaders who tend to agree with Netanyahu’s overall analysis of Iran’s sinister designs told me later that his speech was too black, too dire, too eager to erase any hope. The additional two days that Netanyahu spent in New York, they said, only poured fat on the fire, driving home his somewhat insulting view that naïve Americans were being duped by the sweet but empty words of Rohani.

Netanyahu, in fact, may have overstayed his welcome. By Thursday, when he was slated to leave, some Administration officials were already grumbling that he had gone back to his bad old ways, drumming up public opinion against the Administration in its own back yard. In unusually blunt diplomatese, Secretary of State John Kerry said that refraining from pursuing talks with Iran would be “diplomatic malpractice of the worst kind” – not that Netanyahu was suggesting anything of the kind, of course.

In the next weeks, as he travels to Asia and deals with the government shutdown and debt ceiling crises, President Obama will formulate the principles of U.S. engagement that Kerry will carry with him to the October 15 P5+1 round of talks in Geneva, in which Iran is expected to submit its opening offer to resolve the nuclear standoff. Netanyahu will have to mark time as a kibitzer on the sidelines and to play second fiddle. as Rohani takes center stage in a play that Netanyahu, at least by his own account, largely wrote on his own.

Of course, it’s too early to tell, if one may borrow from Dickens, whether we are approaching an age of wisdom or foolishness, a season of Light or a season of Darkness, a spring of hope or a winter of despair.

Though he may be shunned now, Netanyahu has once again put his money on the worst possible scenario. In the Middle East, of course, that usually turns out to be to be the safest bet of all.

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The migrant slave workers of the Arab world

Migrant deaths in Arab world

By Graham Peebles

Given the choice, few people would leave their families and friends and migrate from their homeland. The tens of thousands that pay unscrupulous “agents” and criminal gangs to transport them hundreds or thousands of miles are compelled to do so to find work and to earn money to support themselves and their loved ones at home.

The Middle East and North African (MENA) countries are some of the destinations of choice for men and women seeking work. Women look for domestic and child-care work, while employment in the construction industry is the goal of the tens thousands of men from Southeast Asia living in stifling poverty.

Migrant workers have become the majority workforce in many Arab Gulf states – wealthy countries with weak or non-existent domestic-worker rights, destructive gender attitudes that suppress and control women, and endemic racism. This poisonous cocktail, rooted in prejudice and ignorance, fuels and justifies exploitation, including forced labour, physical and sexual abuse, and extreme mistreatment by employers.

It is the migrant workers who are building the shining, modernist cities across the region, and the 2022 World Cup stadiums in Qatar. And it is they who are the main providers of domestic care for middle and upper class households in the region.

… migrants are “lured into jobs that either didn’t exist or that were offered under conditions that were very different from what they were promised in the first place”. (International Labour Organization)

The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that there are 53 million domestic workers worldwide, of which 84 per cent are women, accounting for “7.5 per cent of women’s wage employment”. The number of domestic workers in the MENA states in comparison to the population totals is staggering. As the ILO states, “labour migration in this part of the world is unique in terms of its sheer scale and its exponential growth in recent years”. The highest numbers (according to the International Institute for Humanitarian Law) are in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where migrant workers comprise around 95 per cent of the workforce. In Lebanon, a country with a population of around four million people, there are roughly 200,000 migrant domestic workers, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). In Saudi Arabia the ILO estimate that 50 per cent of workers are migrants, while Kuwait has 660,000, and a population of around three million. Similar or larger ratios are found throughout the region.

Migrants to MENA countries come from Asia – Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Philippines and India, and to a lesser degree from East Africa – Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya and Somalia. These are countries where huge numbers of people, often from marginalized groups, are living in extreme poverty, where illiteracy numbers are high, education is poor and opportunities are rare. With little or no options, such people are at the mercy of criminal gangs who see them as objects, commodities to be profited from. There are thought to be more people in slavery now than at any time in history. Such are the consequences of a system that breeds greed and separation and places all value in profit, even over life.

Deceived and trapped into debt and bonded labour from the start, prospective migrant workers are duped into leaving their homes for Beirut, Dubai, Kuwait City, Riyadh or Sana’a. Naïve and desperate young men and women are promised they will be handsomely paid, that the streets are paved with dollars, that every apartment has hot and cold running water, that designer clothes, smart phones and flat screen TVs are aplenty, and that you too will live the good life, easily repay your loan to the agent and, crucially, help drag your family out of grinding poverty. With hollow promises like these, as the ILO says, migrants are “lured into jobs that either didn’t exist or that were offered under conditions that were very different from what they were promised in the first place” by unscrupulous recruitment agents. The reality for many is one of modern day slavery, imprisonment and violence; mistreatment that in many cases leads some to take their own lives. In Lebanon alone, migrant domestic workers are “dying at a rate of more than one a week – often by throwing themselves off balconies”, according to the Guardian newspaper. On the scaffolding around the glitzy building projects for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the Pravasi Nepali Coordination Committee (PNCC) estimates that 1,300 Nepalese construction workers died last year.

The death sites of Qatar

In Qatar, abuse of migrant workers, who account for nearly 90 per cent of the population of 1.9 million, is widespread. And little has changed to improve matters since being awarded the much-prized 2022 World Cup. Human Rights Watch state, that Qatar “has not delivered on its pledges to improve migrant workers’ rights”. In 2010 the country’s rulers asserted that their successful World Cup bid “could inspire positive change and leave a huge legacy for the region, but the past two years have seen an absence of reform”.

Every year over 100,000 men from Nepal head to Qatar to work on building projects across the realm, but they “are not experienced at this type of work, which is much more risky than other jobs”. Appalling conditions, mistreatment by employees and low pay lead “some to commit suicide”, the Guardian reports. In fact, many recount how their salaries are withheld, or not paid at all, their passports confiscated to prevent them from leaving and how they are “deprived of the ID cards they need to move around freely without fear of arrest”.

Bodies of dead Nepalese men are returning home at a rate of three or four a day. It is a mystery why these fit young men are dying in such large numbers, especially when “the most common cause of death given on forms is some form of heart failure”. A probable contributory factor is the appalling working and living conditions that the men are forced to endure, working 12-hour shifts in 50 degree Celsius temperatures, and often without water. After work “they return to filthy and overcrowded accommodation in the Sanaya industrial centre, where the stench of raw sewage is overpowering and workers allege 600 men share two kitchens.

“The kitchens are infested with mosquitoes, cockroaches and bugs,” said KBB, one of the camp’s residents. No wonder employees, like Ganesh Bishwakarma, aged 16, are falling like flies. He died after just two months in Qatar. Too young to legally migrate, the recruitment agent forged a passport stating Ganesh was aged 20 and a job as a cleaner was his. The cost of this life-shifting opportunity, including false documents and travel – an extortionate 150,000 rupees (1,500 dollars), to be re-paid, dead or alive, with 36 per cent interest. The debt now falls on Ganesh’s family to somehow service, trapping them into bonded labour as their son was similarly enslaved.


All MENA states, apart from Yemen, are signatories to the Palermo Protocol, which clearly defines the conditions of trafficking and whose articles are legally binding, which means and employees who contravene them are guilty of human trafficking. In what could prove to be a significant action, a recent high profile case involving Meshael Alayban a Saudi Arabian princess, has highlighted the fact that the treatment of many migrant domestic workers by their Arab employers qualifies as human trafficking.

According to the BBC, the “Princess is accused of forcing a Kenyan woman to work 16 hours a day while paying her far less than what she was originally promised”. She also took away “the woman’s passport, precluding her escape”. The two-year contract guaranteed the women “1,600 US dollars a month, for eight-hour work, five days a week”, but as is often the case she was paid much less – “220 dollars a month and made to work twice as long”. The unnamed Kenyan escaped on a visit to America with the royal household, and has brought a case in California (where they were staying) against the regal Alayban for trafficking. She faces a maximum prison sentence of 12 years.

The vulnerability of migrant domestic workers to human trafficking in MENA countries, beyond the underlying prejudicial causes, are due to two primary factors: the Dickensian kafala (Arabic for “bail”) employment system, allied to the lack of labour protection and legal redress, and the initial recruitment process, with agents extending loans to prospectve migrants for employment fees, forging passports and other documentation and travel costs. This creates debt bondage, trapping the unsuspecting into years of bonded labour.

The kafala sponsorship system forms the legal basis for both residency and employment for migrant domestic workers in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and in Lebanon and Jordon. Under the scheme the employer, to all extent and purposes, “owns” the migrant worker, who cannot change employers, unless the sponsor decides to sell them on to someone – a lucrative add-on for employers and a form of trafficking that fuels resistance to the schemes abolition, vehemently called for by human rights groups and all right minded thinkers.

Legal ambiguity

Labour laws for migrant domestic workers in MENA countries, where they exist at all, vary in structure but not in inadequacy or lack of enforcement. All domestic work occurs beyond the protection of national labour laws, and anti-trafficking laws designed to protect migrant workers from abuse are not enforced.

Under Lebanese law for example, migrant domestic workers are not allowed to leave the house without the permission of their employers, making it possible, and in many cases likely, for employers to imprison workers, exploit them and force them to work beyond their contract, with the kafala preventing the innocent victim from reporting the abuse without risking losing residency status. It is a legal trap not confined to Lebanon, which contributes to human trafficking by creating conditions of compelled service and forced labour.

Confinement, dependency, weak labour laws, plus migrant domestic workers’ inability to speak the local language or understand their rights under international law (what few exist), make them acutely vulnerable. A Filipina domestic worker who tried to escape abusive employers in Lebanon told the ILO, according to CNN, “my employer broke my elbow and then tied my hands behind my back. They left me one day long in my room and put a camera there. He threatened me: ‘I’ll accuse you of stealing money and ask for my money back, and they will throw you in jail’,” she said.

Another Filipina domestic worker interviewed in a detention centre in Kuwait told the ILO that her employer had raped her. “I went to the doctors and filed a complaint at the police, and then returned to work the next day. He reported to the authorities that I had run away, and the police arrested me,” she said. “My employer tells me that if I drop the rape charges, he will make sure that I am not deported.”

In the MENA states, labour laws need to be introduced, and where they exist need to be enforced. The ILO speaks of signs of positive change. It says “governments and other groups have stepped up efforts to combat forced labour and human trafficking in recent years, including through the passage of anti-trafficking legislation.” However, “shortcomings persist in applying laws and prosecuting and convicting perpetrators of human trafficking”, it adds.

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Putin stands alone in the world to win peace

Putin stands alone in the world to win peace. 51236.jpeg

Nomination of President Vladimir Putin for the Nobel Peace Prize is actively discussed in the world. In the West the idea was taken mostly with skepticism, but there is some unexpected support. Putin is thanked for singlehandedly preventing the third world and being able to resist the pro-Israel lobby in the United States.

On Wednesday, the initiative of All-Russian Fund of Education and the International Academy of Spiritual Unity and Cooperation was supported by Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro. He said that if anyone in this historic moment deserved the Nobel Peace Prize, it was President Vladimir Putin who helped to stop a war that threatened the Syrian people, Maduro said as quoted by EFE.

In the West the idea was met mostly with skepticism. The New York Times wrote that Putin was credited with starting a war to crush Chechen separatism, a full-scale attack on Georgia to solve a minor border conflict, criticism of NATO’s actions that led air war in Libya to stop Colonel Muammar Gaddafi guilty of the murder of thousands of Libyans, and selling deadly weapons to the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Some publications feel that unleashing an anti-gay campaign, providing protection to Edward Snowden and persecution of Pussy Riot to be unworthy of a Nobel Prize nominee.

However, unexpected support came from Rupert Murdoch and his Fox News. A national security analyst, former employee of the services in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, Kathleen Troia McFarland wrote that Russian President Putin saved the world from almost certain death in one of the most skillful diplomatic maneuvers of all time. She added that he did it without the selfish and incompetent American President or a serious but ignorant Secretary of State who understood that he proposed a way out of the situation they have created. McFarland concluded that the entire world knew that Vladimir Putin was the one who really deserved the Nobel Peace Prize.

Another author, Michael Collins Piper from AFP wrote that President Putin has averted the United States of the shame of another stupid and unnecessary war in the Middle East. He wrote that Putin, a cold war leader who was considered an “enemy” of America, has done something that the American military elite wanted to do. He put an end to attacks on Syria by the pro-Israel lobby, resisted it almost single-handedly, and was demanding with Congress that was trying to lobby the initiative despite the overwhelming opposition from the American public. Putin has likely prevented the third world war, and, judging by the cheerleaders of Israel he also installed roadblocks in the way of Israel pushing United States towards a war against the Islamic Republic of Iran. The reporter believes that Russian President Putin deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

As for the opinion of the American public, according to statistics, 60 percent of the Americans opposed a military campaign in Syria. The petition posted on the White House website “We the People” said that given the fact that Mr. Obama has made ​​a sincere effort to start a war with Syria and to draw the American forces into an unwanted conflict while not having the support of the people, they believed that Mr. Obama should give his Nobel Peace Prize handed to him in 2009 to a true man of peace, Mr. Putin, President of Russia. The petition stated that Mr. Putin has forced the United States to avoid an unnecessary and unwanted military conflict and kept peace.

Another petition was launched over the weekend in France. Ordinary citizens – pensioners, doctors and teachers – wrote that while Obama’s army was stubbornly drowning in the Afghan swamp and Iraq wallowed in the terrorist violence, Barack Obama was bending over backwards to convince the U.S. Congress to start a new war. They also suggested Obama to give his peace prize to Putin.

The document stated that only French President Hollande did not see that Obama’s “efforts” did not contribute to peace and were aimed only at meeting the economic ambitions of the United States and justifying the sums in the military budget. The voting period for this petition will last 5 month, and votes can be cast on the website of the organization The initiators promised to present it to Francois Hollande, Bernard-Henri Levy (political journalist, philosopher and writer), Barack Obama and Thorbjorn Jagland (President of the Nobel Prize Committee for Peace).

The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded since 1901 and is now the most famous and prestigious international award in the field of socio-political and humanitarian activities. Nominations are submitted no later than February 1st of the year of the award. Typically, the list of candidates includes a hundred names.

Heads of state are often awarded the Prize with various wordings. Here are some of the latest winners:

– In 2011 the award was divided into three equal parts and given to three women from Liberia. Among them was President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf awarded for the achievements in the struggle for democracy and women’s rights.

– In 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama was awarded for numerous efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.

– In 2000, President of the Republic of Korea Kim Dae-jung was awarded for the hard work in the reunification of North and South Korea, and strengthening of democracy and human rights in South Korea and East Asia in general.

– In 1994, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin along with Shimon Peres were awarded for their efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East.

– In 1993, the Executive President of South Africa Frederik Willem de Klerk and Nelson Mandela were awarded for their work towards a peaceful end of the apartheid regime, and for preparing the foundation for a new democratic South Africa.

– In 1990, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was awarded in recognition of his leading role in the peace process that characterizes important parts of the international community.

– In 1978, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin were awarded for the preparation and conclusion of the underlying agreements between Israel and Egypt.

– In 1971 Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt was awarded in recognition of the specific initiatives that led to the easing of tensions between East and West.

Lyuba Lulko


Vladimir Putin can get a Nobel Prize

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I$raHell plans bid for UN Security Council seat



Western diplomats expect it to be a hard sell, given the antipathy of most members of the non-aligned nations bloc to I$raHell.


Winning a seat requires a two-thirds majority in the 193-nation General Assembly. Candidates are proposed by the five regional groups, but election to the council is done by the full assembly.

Prosor said Israel will be vying against Germany and Belgium for the one of the two seats allotted to the Western European and Others Group. Technically Israel should be a member of the Asia-Pacific Group, along with the other states in the Middle East, but predominantly Muslim states have blocked its admission to that group.

In 2000, Israel was admitted to the Western European and Others Group, which includes the United States, on a temporary basis. In 2004 its membership in that group was permanently renewed.

Israel has occasionally held the post of vice-president of the UN General Assembly, but it has never been a member of the Security Council, the most powerful and prestigious body at the UN, with the authority to impose sanctions or authorize the use of military force to enforce its decisions.

Securing a council seat will not be easy, Western diplomats said. Most members of the 120 non-aligned bloc of developing nations are either cool or openly hostile towards Israel. General Assembly votes on issues related to Israel and the Palestinians are usually unfavorable for Israel.

Nevertheless, Prosor was upbeat about the bid, saying, “We’re going all out to win. It’s about time.”

There are 10 rotating Security Council members, who serve for two years at a time. Five rotating members are replaced each year. The five permanent veto-wielding members are the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China.

General Assembly elections for next year’s Security Council will be on October 17.

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Syrian rebels accused of village massacre



Syrian soldiers say gruesome footage of Alawite victims is too distressing to air.

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and two of his sons are pictured on the jacket of a soldier in the village of the massacre. (Stenin/RIA Novosti/AFP)

For more than two years, as fighting has escalated throughout Syria, a group of villages populated by government supporters in the mountains above the city of Latakia has been spared any attacks.

In spite of their proximity to the Turkish border, across which rebel fighters are armed and financed, farmers have continued their lives as normal, even though as Alawites who come from the Shia sect to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs, they could have been obvious targets.

At dawn on August 4, their peace was shattered. Armed rebels, led by local jihadis as well as members of Jabhat al-Nusra and the al-Qaeda-linked group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, left their headquarters in the largely Sunni town of Salma. They sneaked into the al-Akrad mountains, taking control of five Alawite villages. The rebels called it Operation Liberation of the Coast and the aim was to send the government a message that even the Alawite heartland was no longer safe.

Rumours of massacres spread as about 25 000 Alawite villagers fled to Latakia. The next day, the rebels captured more Alawite villages and reached Aramo, about 12 miles north of Qardaha, the Assads’ home town where Hafez al-Assad, the former president, is buried in a mausoleum. Over the next few days, the government forces regrouped and gradually recovered the lost ground with help from air strikes and local paramilitaries.

On August 19, Syrian state TV reported that all the Alawite villages had been freed. But they did not highlight any massacres.

“For the first time, the government acted discreetly because it feared a sectarian war could break out all along the coast. In the beginning, it even denied the massacres took place,” Rajaa Nasser, an opposition politician in Damascus, told the Guardian. He speculated that the attacks on the Alawites could have been revenge for the slaughter of Sunnis in Banias and Baida in May, places about 48km south of Latakia. Human Rights Watch said 248 Sunni civilians were executed there.

The Syrian army has not allowed foreign reporters into the Alawite villages to check the massacre reports, but in Latakia, the Guardian spoke to three officers who took part in recapturing the villages. Each was interviewed in a separate location. Two were relaxing off-duty in beachfront hotels and villas. They spoke of executions and other atrocities.

“The attacks started with treachery,” said Hassan, an officer in Syria’s special forces. “There was a unit of 40 troops. A Sunni defected from it and took 30 other Sunnis with him. A few days later, they were part of the attack that started with the village of Hambushiya. The 10 Alawite troops left behind in the area were killed.”

Hassan said he could listen to the rebels’ radio communications. “I heard a rebel telling another rebel: ‘Kill this one, but not that one’. One rebel asked: ‘What do I do about the girls?’ The answer came: ‘I’m sending a truck to pick them up’. Several were taken and raped, and have not been seen again,” he said.

“They kidnapped Sheikh Badr Ghazal and stripped girls and the sheikh to humiliate him. The sheikh was then killed. We found the pictures on the mobiles of dead rebels when we retook the villages. They have not been shown on Syrian TV or media because they are too distressing.”

Shadi, a 32-year-old officer in a local defence unit that is separate from the Syrian army, was lightly wounded during the government’s counter-attack. “When we got into the village of Balouta, I saw a baby’s head hanging from a tree. There was a woman’s body that had been sliced in half from head to toe and each half was hanging from separate apple trees.”

Ali, a member of the army, said he also saw the baby’s head. “We found two mass graves with 140 bodies. They were not shot. They had their throats slit. About 105 people of different ages were kidnapped,” he said.

The officers’ accounts cannot be independently verified, but the Guardian has obtained lists, compiled by local activists, with the names of victims from Hambushiya, Balouta, and five other villages. They include 62 people listed as killed, 60 kidnapped and 139 who are missing. The dead range in age from a toddler of two to a man of 90. The vast majority are women, children and the elderly, as most men in the villages were away on duty as part of volunteer defence forces elsewhere. They did not expect their own villages to come under attack. – © Guardian News & Media 2013

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Naziyahu to urge EU leaders not to let up pressure on Iran



PM announces he will meet with EU leaders to discuss sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program; ‘we cannot give in to Iranian trickery,’ he adds.


Netanyahu, who returned from New York on Friday, said he will urge the European leaders to avoid easing sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic.

“We are in the midst of an extensive international battle against the Iranian nuclear program,” he said.

“We cannot give in to the Iranian trickery and ease sanctions as long as Iran does not dismantle its military nuclear program,” he added.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu delivered a combative speech at the United Nations General Assembly, dismissing diplomatic overtures made to the United States by Iranian President Hassan Rohani.

Netanyahu referred to the Iranian president’s “charm offensive” as a ruse to get relief from sanctions, and urged the international community to keep up biting sanctions, saying the greater the pressure, the greater the chance for diplomacy to succeed.

The United States and Israel accuse Iran of seeking to develop an atomic bomb. Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only and Rohani has projected a moderate image for his country since taking office in August.

Later this month, Iran will meet the P5+1 – the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany – in Geneva to resume negotiations aimed at resolving the years-old nuclear dispute.

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