Archive | June 5th, 2014

SYRIA Today 3: RESTORE HAPPY ”VIDEO”

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Syria’s Assad sweeps ‘non-election’: US

NOVANEWS
The US says the “non-election” that has returned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to power has changed nothing in the war-torn country.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has won a new seven-year term with nearly 90 per cent of the vote but Washington says the “non-election” has changed nothing and activists say it will spell only more war.

Tens of thousands took to the streets in government-held areas even before the results were announced on Wednesday evening, waving portraits of Assad and the official Syrian flag.

Celebratory gunfire erupted in the capital and in loyalist areas across Syria. At least 10 people were killed as the bullets fell back to earth, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

In opposition-held areas where no election was held on Tuesday, activists reacted with the Arab Spring slogan of 2011 that has been the rally cry of their uprising – “The people want the fall of the regime.”

Pro-government newspapers all carried front-page photographs of the re-elected president. Images of Assad in suit and tie, or more rarely military uniform, filled the programming of state television.

The ruling Baath party’s newspaper vowed that Syrians would show the same steadfastness against rebel attack in rebuilding their country that they displayed on polling day.

“After the historic vote, Syrians will accomplish a military, political and social mission, as well as the reconstruction of the country, by defying the mortars that are launched every day by the terrorists,” Al-Baath said in an editorial.

Some 11.6 million of the 15.8 million eligible voters turned out in government-held areas, according to official figures, despite attacks that killed 24 people on polling day, according to the Observatory.

Critics charged that many of those who voted did so more out of fear than commitment to Assad, whose family has ruled Syria with a rod of iron for four decades.

British Foreign Secretary of State William Hague described the election as an “insult.” “Assad lacked legitimacy before this election, and he lacks it afterwards.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry called the election a “great big zero.”

“With respect to the elections that took place, the so-called elections, the elections are non-elections,” Kerry said on a lighting visit to neighbouring Lebanon on Wednesday.

He said “nothing has changed” as a result of the poll and urged Assad’s foreign backers to take action to bring an end to the three-year conflict that has left more than 162,000 people dead.

“I particularly call on those nations directly supporting the Assad regime … I call on them – Iran, Russia, and I call on Hezbollah, based right here in Lebanon – to engage in the legitimate effort to bring this war to an end,” he said.

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Syria Today 2: Celebrations Tonight ”VIDEO”

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by Friends of Syria

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Syria TOday 1: 73.42% Turnout 88.7% of the Votes – May God Protect President Bashar Al Assad

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They said his days were numbered

They said his support was minimal

They attempted to demonize him to the point of madness

They attacked him at every given opportunity

They described his care and subtlety as weakness

They blamed the most ferocious war in recent times on him personally

They used every tool, effort and weapon to destroy him

They sent Jihadists from every section of the world to fight him

In the end, after all the propaganda, all the war, all the interventions, statements and attacks, President ‪‎Assad‬ is the sole, legitimate, elected leader of the ‪SyrianArabRepublic‬.

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Paul Findley: Should the Executive Outmaneuver Congress to save Palestine and I$raHell? ”VIDEO”

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Dispatches from the Election Observation Team in Syria:

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June 3: Election day

On election day, teams of observers were sent to Sweida, Homs, Tartous, Latakia and of course Damascus.  In many cases, they were split into smaller teams at these sites, and also met with teams from other countries, including Uganda, Russia, North Korea and others. A team of parliamentarians from several countries also went to Aleppo.

The election was held in a festive atmosphere with lots of singing and dancing.  There was no doubt of the outcome, but it was an opportunity for Syrians to show their support for their government, and for the government and the world to hear directly from the people.

The result was a resounding expression of solidarity, although the degree will be known only when the results are tabulated and the turnout is determined.  In this context, it will be instructive to compare the results with the Egyptian election, where the results were also known in advance, but where the turnout was embarrassingly low.  Not so in Syria.  The polls stayed open until midnight and every polling station had a waiting line.

The election was not without its flaws.  Members of the regional governorate parliaments accompanied the observer teams wherever we went, and we were treated as VIPs, which made the observation difficult.  Voting was often done in the open whether or not private voting booths were available, and they often were not.  Thanks to the presence of the members of regional parliaments, we had no difficulty interviewing the voters.  By contrast, when some of us went unaccompanied to a polling station at our hotel, we found no volunteers willing to be interviewed.

Our hosts were overzealous.  In one instance, we were given an opportunity to interview supporters of opposition candidates wearing opposition campaign T-shirts.  Unfortunately, they knew nothing about the views of those candidates or the programs that they represent.  They both described their jobs as “casual laborer”, meaning that they are available for hire.

There was no need to put on a show for our benefit.  The occasion spoke for itself without extra effort.  Clearly, Syrians welcomed the opportunity to show support for their president, whose administration has demonstrated competence and strength, and who has provided for its people can under very trying circumstances.  With the future of the country at stake, the paternalism of the Syrian government has been very much appreciated by its people, as has been the case with many other countries in time of war.

Having said that, a voter wishing to send a message of dissent or protest by using her vote to reduce the margin of victory could easily have been intimidated by the atmosphere at some of the polling stations as well as the frequent lack of private voting booths (or the fact that few people were using them).  This is a flaw that needs to be addressed in future elections if all of the people are to be truly enfranchised.

Nevertheless, the election is historic for being the first since the 2012 constitution was ratified, and therefore the first to field multiple candidates.  This is a small step, but in the right direction.  It will be instructive to see how the new parties fare in the parliamentary elections later this year.  Currently, only 13% of parliament consists of opposition members (with another 25% independents).

The Syrian government should be commended for taking positive steps towards greater enfranchisement of its people.  Clearly, Syrians take seriously their civic duty, as shown by the thousands streaming across the Lebanese border to vote in an election where the outcome is not in doubt.  They did the same as absentees in previous days in Beirut, until the embassy ran out of ballots.

Inviting foreign observers is also a courageous step.  In spite of its flaws, the Syrian Presidential election carries credibility as well as great significance for the Syrian people, and will undoubtedly affect Syria’s immediate future in a very positive way.

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Stephen Sniegoski: Neoconservatives and the Iraq War ”VIDEO”

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Deportation of MCC service worker a sign of ongoing efforts to work for justice for all

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On May 29, returning from a regional staff retreat in Spain, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) service worker Rachelle Friesen of Winnipeg, Man., Canada, was detained by Israeli authorities at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport.

After more than 30 hours of detention, including three sessions of interrogation, Friesen was deported back to the origin of her flight in Barcelona, and is now banned from entering Israel for 10 years.

Friesen was met in Barcelona by MCC colleagues, and traveled on to Belgrade, Serbia, to rest and consult before returning to Canada. She had served with MCC in Palestine as peace coordinator for four years and was ending her term of service this summer.

Friesen’s deportation is similar treatment to what some foreign visitors have experienced, simply for acknowledging contact with Palestinians, and to what MCC’s Palestinian and Israeli partners face on a regular basis in their nonviolent work for justice. It also is a window into the reality of life for Palestinians under the illegal Israeli occupation, who experience ongoing discrimination or permanently emigrate from their ancestral homes.

MCC has worked in Palestine for more than 60 years and in Israel for more than 40 years. We are committed to continuing this work in the name of Christ with Palestinian and Israeli partners who long for peace for all in the region. Friesen’s deportation signals yet again the importance of working toward a just and peaceful resolution to the conflict.

For those in the U.S.:

MCC invites you to respond in a tangible way by communicating with your government representatives about routine violation of international law by Israel in its treatment of foreign travelers. The U.S. has refused to grant Israel membership in its visa waiver program because of Israel’s discrimination against foreigners, particularly of Arab or Muslim origin and those deemed politically suspect. Ask your Members of Congress to urge Israel to allow free movement and access for all people, both Palestinians and U.S. citizens and others working for international human rights, development and peacebuilding organizations.

 

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