Archive | December 20th, 2014

Peshawar School Attack: What the Measures Require

NOVANEWS

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By Sajjad Shaukat

In one of the bloodiest-ever terror attacks in Pakistan, Taliban militants mercilessly killed at least

141 people, including 132 children and nine staff members of the Army Public School and

College in Peshawar, on December 16, this year. According to witnesses, the six militants went

from classroom to classroom, shooting children, and burnt a lady teacher alive, forcing the

students to watch it. After eight hours operation, Pak Army’s commandos cleared the school

area, and six militants were killed.

On the same day, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the ghastly act at

Taking this major terror assault as our 9/11, an attack on Pakistan’s future, its young sons and

daughters, nation observed three-day mourning, while businesses remained closed in various

cities of the country. The members of civil societies and academic institutes hold special prayers

to remember the young victims of the atrocious terror attack.

Besides condemnation by the foreign rulers and prominent figures, Pakistan’s Prime Minister

Nawaz Sharif, Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Raheel Sharif and leader of the Opposition, Khursheed

Shah including those of various political and religious parties strongly condemned the heinous

attack at the Peshawar school. PTI Chief Imran Khan called off the December 18 countrywide

shutdown, and also decided to cooperate with the government against terrorism.

However, after this inhuman gruesome tragedy, question arises as to what measures require to

eliminate terrorism from the country. In this regard, some steps have already been taken, while

some needs to be implemented in its true spirit.

In this context, Army Chief Gen. Raheel accompanied by DG ISI rushed to Kabul on December

17. Resources suggest that during his meeting with his Afghan counterpart and Afghan President

Ashraf Ghani as well as the ISAF commander, he presented evidence of the Peshawar

massacre’s linkage with TTP sanctuaries in Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan. He also

asked the extradition of Mullah Fazlluah, and handing over to Pakistan. In response, Afghan

rulers and ISAF commander assured him to take action against the TTP.

Nevertheless, new Afghan regime must take cognizance of the fact that Afghanistan is

responsible for terrorists’ penetration into Pakistan. Since April, 2011, some 200 to 400 heavily-

armed militants from Afghanistan’s side entered Pakistan’s region, from time to time, and

targeted the security check posts, civil and military infrastructure of the tribal areas. So far, these

terrorists have killed several personnel of Pakistan’s security forces.

In fact, Afghanistan has become a hub of anti-Pakistan activities from where external secret

agencies, especially Indian RAW are sending logistic support to Baloch separatist elements and

TTP insurgents in Pakistan. Posing themselves as Pakistani Taliban, these enemies have joined

TTP and other banned extremist outfits. In the recent years, especially TTP’s insurgents and its

affiliated banned groups conducted many terror-activities in various regions of the country like

suicide attacks, ruthless beheadings of tribesmen, assaults on security personnel and prominent

figures including Shias, Ahmadis, Sufis, Christians and Sikhs as part of the scheme to create

chaotic situation in the country.

It is notable that huge numbers of Afghan refuges have taken shelter in Pakistan, and some of

them are also suspected to be involved in terror-activities. Therefore, Afghan refugees must

immediately be sent back to Afghanistan.

In the aftermath of the Peshawar school attack, there arose the need of immediate execution of

outstanding cases of death penalty to terrorists. In this respect, it is good sign that Prime Minister

Nawaz Sharif revoked the ban on capital punishment in terrorism cases following which the

terrorists facing death penalty could be executed.

The nation also expects that politicians should show no politics on the blood of innocent

children. For the purpose, leaders of all the top political parties including PTI Chief Imran Khan

attended a meeting of the parliamentary parties convened by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to

discuss the situation after the deadly attack at a school in Peshawar. Setting aside his differences,

Imran Khan ended PTI’s 126-day sit-in at Islamabad to give a clear message that the whole

nation stands united against terrorism. However, all the leaders pledged to eliminate menace of

terrorism, and it has been unanimously decided to form a parliamentary committee to chalk out a

“Plan of Action” in seven days which would be approved by the political and military leadership.

Some analysts opine that like the previous anti-terrorism legislation or law, the Action Plan will

not be implemented in its true letter and spirit. And the government needs the emergency which

means ‘National Emergency’ to fight this menace on war footing, and not ‘Declared Extra

Constitutional Emergency.’ They also say that if huge funds are available for motorway and

other similar projects as to why not for law-enforcing and intelligence agencies which are

fighting against the militants. So the security agencies including Police must be upgraded.

Besides, media should be sensitized to play its due role in the fight against terrorism. It must be

on low profile to avoid national demoralization, as careful reporting by media without glorifying

terrorist acts is need of the hour. For the purpose, extremist people like Maulana Abdul Aziz (Lal

Masjid) and Hafiz Saeed may not be given undue space by the media.

Undoubtedly, in our country, the victims of terror attacks and suicide bombings have been

innocent men, women and children. Their families mourn and raise a question asking for what

crime their loved ones were punished in a way. Regrettably, those entities which try to justify

terrorism and suicide bombings in the name of Islam are misguiding the people.

In this context, while taking note of terrorists’ suicide attacks in Middle East and Pakistan, Saudi

Arabia’s grand mufti (Mufti-e-Azam),Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh issued a Fatwa

(Religious verdict), asserting that suicide attacks are illegal and illegitimate (HARAM).” He

explained, “Such acts fall under the category of crime and suicide bombers or terrorists represent

an adversary of Islam and enemy of Muslims…they commit crimes against humanity, while

misguiding other Muslims.” Denouncing terrorism as un-Islamic, he pointed out that terrorists’

activities are part of a conspiracy to defame Islam and destroy Muslims.

Islam considers killing one innocent person equal to murdering the entire humanity, while Jihad

is a sacred obligation, but its real spirit needs to be understood clearly, as murdering innocent

women and children is not Jihad. These foreign-backed Taliban, particularly of the TTP and their

banned affiliated groups are defaming Islam and are weakening Pakistan.

And, Pakistan’s religious clerics (Ulema) and Islamic scholars who have condemned the terror

attack at Peshawar school must continue to issue joint or separate fatwa against these brutal

militants. Different factions must hold collective conferences on faith related issues and society

be organized to fight these criminal elements. From time to time, while condemning the

militants’ inhuman activities as un-Islamic practices, Pakistan’s various Ulema have clarified in

their joint fatwa, and separate statements that “killing of innocent people, target killings and

suicide bombings including sectarianism are against the spirit of Islam…the terrorists’ self-

adopted interpretation of Islam was nothing, but ignorance and digression from the actual

teachings of the religion.” They explained, “Islam does not forbid women’s education.”

As regards terrorism, Pakistan’s Armed Forces have almost defeated the ferocious terrorists,

particularly of the TTP by clearing the areas of North Waziristan Agency by military operation

Zarb-e-Azb which is rapidly achieving its objectives. Although the operation has full support of

the civil government, opposition parties, Ulema and media including all other segments of

society and general masses who are united against terrorism, yet they need to display practical

unity against these zealots who seek to create anarchy in the country to accomplish their self-

motivated agenda at the direction of Pakistan’s enemies.

Meanwhile, ISPR DG Maj-Gen. Asim Bajwa said that taking note of the Peshawar school attack,

Gen. Raheel Sharif has himself started supervising the military action against terrorists, and as

part of the operation, at least 57 terrorists were killed during air strikes on December 17 in Tirah

Valley in Khyber Agency. Gen. Raheel also stated, “We are extremely saddened, but our resolve

has taken new height”, and added “We will continue to go after the inhuman beasts, their

facilitators till their final elimination.”

Nonetheless, the mass murder of children at Peshawar school is a manifestation of the most

barbaric face of the Taliban insurgency led by TTP. While taking solid measures, the

government must employ a comprehensive strategy to eliminate terrorism. In this regard,

counter-terrorism strategy or the Action Plan must be enacted and implemented without losing

more time. And, this different war needs unified front of all the segments of society, which is

essential to defeat the ruthless enemy of Pakistan including their external agents.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants,

Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

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Human Rights Award to Shireen Issawi

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by Dr Richard Falk

Alkarama Human Rights Award to Shireen Issawi

[Prefatory Note: in this post I am presenting in the following order remarks that I made via Skype video recording at the 6th Annual Alkarama Award for Human Rights at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, December 14, 2014, a letter written from an Israeli prison by the recipient of the award, Shireen Issawi, and a press release prepared by the Alkarama Foundation describing the full event, including notable presentation by Norman Finkelstein and Alfred de Zayas. The Alkarama website describes itself as follows: “Alkarama is a Swiss-based, independent human rights organisation established in 2004 to assist all those in the Arab World subjected to, or at risk of, extra-judicial executions, disappearances, torture and arbitrary detention. Acting as a bridge between individual victims in the Arab world and international human rights mechanisms, Alkarama works towards an Arab world where all individuals live free, in dignity and protected by the rule of law. In Arabic, Alkarama means dignity.”]

 

Remarks of Richard Falk

I wish that I could have been present to take part in honoring Shireen Issawi as a brave, resolute, and inspiring human rights defender who has dedicated her professional career as a lawyer to the long Palestinian national struggle for freedom, human rights, and self-determination. Even more, I wish that Ms. Issawi could be present to receive this award in person rather than sitting alone in her jail cell day after day, facing trumped up charges of resisting arrest when the real criminal offense was committed by the arresting officers in carrying out an abusive arrest in a manner calculated to invoke fear and trembling. We realize that the political situation in Palestine is perverted when the real criminals are administering the law while the truly innocent are sitting in the dock awaiting a punishment meted out by a biased judicial process. Shireen’s life story, that of the whole Issawi family, and indeed that of the Palestinian people as a whole, is an embodiment of this prolonged perversion of justice, and as we honor her on this day we also are seeking to remind the world that it is past time to end the Palestinian ordeal.

In my own experience as UN Special Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine in the period 2008-2014 I had my own slight taste of how the wheels of Israeli injustice grind on while most of the world averts its gaze. Arriving at Ben Gurion Airport in December 2008, with the intention of carrying out my mission of investigation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, I was detained for several hours at the airport before being transferred to a nearby makeshift prison where I remained overnight, expelled the following morning. The whole experience was not longer than 20 hours, but being confined with five other prisoners in a small cell that smelled of urine, was over lit and filthy, gave me an unforgettable glimpse of Israel prison life. It should be kept in mind that in my case Israel as a member of the UN had a treaty obligation to cooperate with the Organization so as to facilitate its official undertakings. Quite revealing as to the limits of international law, was the failure of the UN even to protest Israel’s breach of its duties as a UN member or my treatment as someone attempting to carry out a UN mission. An Israeli government spokesperson lied to the media by saying that I had been warned not to come to Israel as I would be denied entry. Contrary to this contention, the truth is otherwise. When we submitted our proposed itinerary of visits in Occupied Palestine to the Israeli mission in Geneva there was no objection or warning, and in fact, Israel issued visas to my two assistants knowing that they would be accompanying me. What is again emblematic is that the mainstream media wrote about the incident on the basis of the lies told by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and lacked the journalistic decency to check with me, and at least hear my side of the story or allow me to respond myself. One reason why this Alkarama event is so important is as counter to Israeli lies and hasbara (the systematic slanting of world news to support Israel’s claims), a bit of witnessing about real happenings.

My UN job was to assess Israel’s human rights record in its role as an occupying power governed by international humanitarian law, and specifically, the Fourth Geneva Convention, which is the principal treaty instrument for regulating belligerent occupation. In its general applicability, Geneva IV prohibits harming all those subject to the authority of an occupying power that are uninvolved in active resistance. This refers especially to the civilian population, but also extends to those detained in prisons and even to the treatment of wounded soldiers. Above all, it obliges the occupier to maintain human rights in territories under its administration, to provide decent living conditions for the occupied population, and not to change underlying conditions in a manner that allows the occupied society to resume its normal existence when the occupier leaves. As I became familiar with Israel’s policies and practices, I became more and more convinced that neither the letter nor the spirit of the Geneva Convention was being observed by Israel, which is a legalistic way of informing the world that the daily life of every Palestinian was nightmarish in myriad ways.

Overall, rather than maintaining a temporary occupation, Israel from the outset fundamentally encroached upon the future prospects of the Palestinian people to realize their rights in two fundamental ways: first, by building and expanding settlements for as many as 650,000 settlers, then by constructing a network of settler only roads to link the settlement blocs with Israel, and by building an ugly separation wall that turned out to be a thinly disguised land grabbing exercise. These developments were each flagrant violations of Article 49(6) of Geneva IV and in defiant disregard of the authoritative 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice. Again the pattern observed is one of massive and severe Israeli violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights standards aggravated by a lack of political will within the UN or in international diplomacy to take any enforcement action designed to uphold Palestinian rights.

And secondly, by engaging in various forms of collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population, thereby violating Article 33 of Geneva IV that unconditionally prohibits all forms of collective punishment. I will mention two of the most notorious practices, although there are many others that contribute to the ordeal of ordinary Palestinian lives, including closures, curfews, checkpoints, restrictions on mobility. The blockade imposed on the entire civilian population of Gaza since mid-2007 is a comprehensive and cruel form of collective punishment imposed by Israel as soon as Hamas assumed governing authority, which has been gravely intensified in its adverse effects by three major Israeli military onslaughts in the last six years against an essentially defenseless population, and exhibit the deliberate reliance by Israel on excessive and disproportionate force producing heavy one-sided casualties on defenseless Palestinians who have no place to hide and are denied an option to leave the combat zone, and thus are unable to exercise the default escape option of becoming refugees.

A second form of unlawful collective punishment involves house demolitions carried out against the family residence of those Israel convicted of security crimes. Due to an international uproar this practice was abandoned by Israel for ten years, but has been revived and applied in some recent cases, cruelly depriving a family of their dwelling place so as to allow the Israeli state to avenge an alleged crime of resistance committed by a Palestinian who is often no longer even alive.

In the background is an occupation that has gone on far too long, and in the process has become something other than a holding operation until agreed arrangements for withdrawal can be implemented. It should be recalled that Israel was instructed to withdraw from occupied Palestine in Security Council Resolution 242 unanimously adopted back in 1967, incorporating the international law principle that territory could not be acquired by a state through the use of force. Not only has a failure to implement this principle, but a contradictory process has taken place over the course of more than four decades, which has transformed ‘occupation’ into de facto ‘annexation’ and has distorted the IHL duty to protect an occupied people into an oppressive administrative structure of systematic discrimination, a clear instance of apartheid that is defined in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as a distinct crime against humanity.

The Palestinian people have struggled over the years, and have experienced many frustrations and defeats. Their early hopes of being liberated by their Arab neighbors were dashed in a series of failed wars. Their expectations that UN resolutions supporting their basic claims would be implemented were consistently disappointed. The energetic PLO efforts after the 1967 to gain freedom by armed resistance came to nothing so far as a lasting solution is concerned. And in the most recent period, the false optimism associated with the 1993 Oslo Framework of Principles and the handshake on the White House lawn led to a growing disillusionment among Palestinians that such a diplomatic path would ever produce a just and sustainable peace.

With such an anguishing experience of frustration, disappointment, and defeat, it is not surprising that the Palestinians would seek other ways to achieve their rights. This search in recent years has centered on nonviolent militancy, involving various forms of non-cooperation at home and pressures brought to bear on Israel through a global solidarity movement. The roots of this turn to nonviolence can be traced to the first Intifada of 1987, a popular mobilization from below that expressed impatience with diplomacy from above and the tactics used by their own Palestinian PLO leadership. It is in the last decade that this turn to nonviolence has gathered momentum, official endorsement, and caught on internationally by way of the Palestinian led BDS Campaign and through various expressions of resistance to the occupation that has included ad hoc recourse to violence by individual Palestinians acting on their own seemingly in pursuit of some kind of remedial vengeance, having lost faith in any peaceful outcome and finding the daily ordeal of their situation unendurable.

One of the most vivid forms of nonviolent resistance is expressed by the hunger strikes of abused Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, including the extraordinary strike of Samer Issawi, Shireen’s brother, who reportedly refused food for an incredible 266 days. As with other efforts of Palestine to achieve a just peace, this turn to nonviolence has fallen below the radar screen of mainstream Western media that remains ever vigilant in magnifying the occurrence of every terrorist incident while by and large ignoring Israeli state terrorism, which is far deadlier in its humanitarian impacts. By honoring Shireen Issawi we repudiate such indifference to nonviolent resistance and at the same time invoke our commitment to nonviolence as the path to peace based on rights and justice, and also on the inalienable equality of the two peoples. In the end, it is less significant to talk about one state or two than to encourage discussion of how might these two peoples live peaceably together in view of all that has happened, is happening.

Let me end with some words of Reem al-Nimer from her brave bookCurse of the Achille Lauro: “..I was once an active member of the Palestinian resistance and the wife of a Palestinian commando..Both Arabs and Jews are human beings. Both are entitled to a dignified life. The time has come when this bloodshed must end. We all have lives..The end of occupation and the termination of hostilities means that Arabs and Jews will need to accept the idea of living alongside one another. We have done this before 1948, and we can do it again. This is the foundation. This is the basis of peace.”

Shireen Issawi’s letter from prison accepting the award

In the name of God the Merciful,

I thank you for having awarded me the Alkarama Award, which I would like to share with all human beings carrying the flag of justice to enlighten, by the light of freedom, the night of injustice, as well as with all people who have adopted the just Palestinian cause, participated in their own way to support the march of the Palestinian people towards freedom, and the cause of Palestinian detainees in the occupier’s prisons, especially those conducting a hunger strike.

I obviously share this Award with my brother, Samer Al Issawi, “Samer Dignity”, who led the battle for freedom with an empty stomach, through the longest hunger strike in the history of mankind, and who unified us to become a single hand and a single voice before the injustice of the occupation, through his just battle for his freedom and his right to live in dignity.

I share the prize with my father and my mother, who taught us, me and my brothers, the love of our homeland and of dignity to continue on the path of freedom. Thank goodness the Palestinian people are not alone; other people share this struggle with him — whether those seeking their freedom, or those carrying our voice throughout the world for a better future where we will live freely and in a dignified manner, and where love will reign without bloodshed.

Some believe that the Palestinian people are defeated because they lives under occupation. Such an assertion is far from the truth; the Palestinian people are one of the proudest people who breathe and they feed on the love of their homeland. They do not feel defeated, they are defending their right to freedom and dignity; on the contrary, however inhumane the occupation is with its ability to block, kill and destroy, we must sustain the strength and courage to continue until we achieve our freedom. And that’s why the free men and women of the world gather around the just cause of the Palestinians, and brought their flag of freedom to the world, becoming their voice in the face of injustice.

The combination of the efforts of the legitimate Palestinian resistance against the occupation, and of the supporters of justice and freedom has united us as human beings through the silent language of faith in a trinity of virtues, which gives strength to our people — that is, the trinity of dignity, freedom and hope.

Humanity is the interest that we bear for each other, and our defense of the oppressed. The sense of freedom and its value can be understood only by those whose hearts beat for dignity and whose eyes shine with the hope that the sun will rise despite the darkness of the night. Let’s preserve our unity and our humanity to live in a free world where people can live freely with dignity and hope.

Shireen Al Issawi

Hasharon Prison, Israel

6 November 2014

 

16 December 2014 Item title

2014 Alkarama Award Honours Palestinian Lawyer’s Commitment to Non-Violence as the “Path to Peace”

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Geneva, 13 December 2014

On 11 December 2014, the Alkarama Foundation presented its 6th annual Award for Human Rights Defenders in the Arab world to Palestinian human rights lawyer and activist, Shireen Issawi, in recognition of her courage and bravery in defending Palestinian prisoners and advocating for their rights. The ceremony held at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva focused on the Palestinian people’s strategy of non-violent resistance, a story largely under-reported in the mainstream media.

Speaking at the event were UN and international law experts, Richard Falk,Norman Finkelstein and Alfred de Zayas, as well as Palestinian Member of the Knesset, Haneen Zoabi, and Swiss political personalities, Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold and Guy Mettan. In the absence of Shireen, arrested by the Israeli authorities on 6 March 2014 as part of a crackdown on lawyers defending Palestinian prisoners, the Award was presented to her parents, Layla and Tarek Issawi.

Opening the ceremony, Rachid MesliAlkarama‘s Legal Director said:“Thousands of Palestinians are arbitrarily detained by simple administrative decision, including numerous children. […] It is for denouncing these violations and having dedicated her life to justice and freedom for the Palestinian people that Shireen Issawi also finds herself in jail today, accused – like too many Arab activists in their respective countries – of supporting terrorism or terrorist organisations.”

“Shireen Issawi’s nonviolent resistance forms a link in the chain of a long, honourable tradition. It includes not only names familiar to all of us, such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, but also, and more significantly, the nameless Palestinians who waged a heroic mass nonviolent struggle against the Israeli occupation during the first intifada, that began 27 years ago, on 9 December 1987,” said expert of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Norman Finkelstein.“Shireen Issawi’s unbendable will in a righteous cause serves as a luminous example, not just for Palestinians, but also for everyone struggling to make the world a better place.”

“Shireen Issawi is a brave, resolute and inspiring human rights defender who has dedicated her professional career as a lawyer to the long Palestinian national struggle for freedom and self-determination,” added former UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967Richard Falk“By honouring Shireen Issawi we are expressing our commitment to nonviolence as the path to peace based on rights and justice, and on the equality of the two peoples. […] As we honour her, we are also seeking to remind the world that it is past time to end the ordeal of injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people as a whole.”

“Israel annexed the territory of East Jerusalem but not the Palestinians who were born and live there,” explained Haneen Zoabi, recently banned from all parliamentary activity for six months for having suggested that the Palestinian resistance was a legitimate struggle. “One third of the city’s residents are people without citizenship. They live in a country that views their territory as its own but does not view them as part of it.”

“In 1989, after the fall of the Berlin wall, we said ‘never again’ walls that separate peoples. Now there are walls everywhere, walls that not only separate two peoples and two cultures, but also make the building of a lasting peace impossible,” continued former member of the Swiss Parliament and the Council of Europe, Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold. In a moving speech, she recalled the many instances where the international community had said “never more” such as after the Shoah, which had led to the adoption of an international human rights system – a system which no one should ever take for granted. [In Switzerland] we are free; but it is from you [Shireen] that we learn how important it is to fight for the protection of human rights.”

In a letter written from her solitary cell on 6 November and read by her mother,Layla Issawi at the Alkarama Award ceremony, Shireen stated: “Some believe that the Palestinian people are defeated because they live under the occupation. Their hypothesis is far from the truth. Those who defend their inalienable right to freedom and dignity are not defeated. On the contrary, however inhumane the occupation and its ability to arrest, kill and destroy are, these men must have the strength and courage to continue until they get their freedom.”Thanking “all the free men around the world gathered around the just cause of the Palestinians,” Shireen pleaded for “a world in which people can live free, with dignity and hope.”

Speaking on behalf of his daughter, Tarek Issawi echoed his daughter’s words:“We, in Palestine, defend the dignity of our people, despite the injustice imposed on us by the colonisation. We are certain that our struggle is just, and thank all the free people of this world for their continuous support.”

Closing the ceremony, the UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a democratic and international order, Alfred-Maurice de Zayas praised Shireen and her family’s “courage and perseverance” and emphasized the essential right of the Palestinian people to self-determination: “All international law experts have recognised the right to self-determination, a binding right, enshrined in the UN Charter, in Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and in Article 1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The UN General Assembly has recognised the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and this repeatedly. Alas, for the past 67 years, you have suffered expulsion, occupation, humiliation and injustice. But you have kept your honour, your identity and your will to live. Men and women of good will wish you a free and independent State where you will finally be able to exercise your rights and join all the other nations of the world in international solidarity. I hope you get justice and peace in a near future. You deserve it.”

The ceremony attracted over a hundred people at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva and watched by a further 150 people on Alkarama’s live webcast.

For more information on the award, please click here:http://bit.ly/1r46pdh

Or watch this 12min documentary here: http://bit.ly/16oeBgk

You can also watch the whole ceremony on the following link:http://youtu.be/wLKqde508L8

For photos, quotes or an interview with any of the speakers, please contact:

– Colombe Vergès, Media Coordinator on c.verges@alkarama.org / +41 79 129 79 15

– Hassan Nouhaili, Arabic Media Editor on h.nouhaili@alkarama.org / +41 22 734 10 06

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The Rise of Putinism

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By Patrick J. Buchanan
 
 
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“Abe tightens grip on power as Japanese shun election.”So ran the page one headline of the Financial Times on the victory of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Sunday’s elections.

Abe is the most nationalistic leader of postwar Japan. He is rebooting nuclear power, building up Japan’s military, asserting her rights in territorial disputes with China and Korea.

And he is among a host of leaders of large and emerging powers who may fairly be described as the new nationalistic strong men.

Xi Jinping is another. Staking a claim to all the islands in the South and East China seas, moving masses of Han Chinese into Tibet and Uighur lands to swamp native peoples, purging old comrades for corruption, Xi is the strongest leader China has seen in decades.

He sits astride what may now be the world’s largest economy and is asserting his own Monroe Doctrine. Hong Kong’s democracy protests were tolerated until Xi tired of them. Then they were swept off the streets.

Call it Putinism. It appears to be rising, while the New World Order of Bush I, the “global hegemony” of the neocons, and the democracy crusade of Bush II seem to belong to yesterday.

Narendra Modi, leader of the Hindu nationalist party who was denied entry into the United States for a decade for complicity in or toleration of a massacre of Muslims is now Prime Minister of India.

“Members of the rightwing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh,” the FT reports, “the Organisation of National Volunteers that gave birth to the Bharatiya Janata party headed by Mr. Modi — have been appointed to key posts in the governing party and cultural institutions.

“Nationalists have railed in public against the introduction of ‘western’ practices such as wearing bikinis on the beach, putting candles on birthday cakes and using English in schools — all to the chagrin of fretful liberals.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is another such leader.

Once seen as a model of the enlightened ruler who blended his Islamic faith with a secular state, seeking friendship with all of his neighbors, he has declared cold war on Israel, aided the Islamic State in Syria, and seems to be reigniting the war with the Kurds, distancing himself from his NATO allies and the U.S., and embracing Putin’s Russia.

Not since Ataturk has Turkey had so nationalistic a leader.

And as the democracy demonstrators were routed in Hong Kong, so, too, were the Tahrir Square “Arab Spring” demonstrators in Egypt, home country to one in four Arabs.

With the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood came to power in free elections, but was then overthrown by the Egyptian Army.

General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is now president and rules as autocratically as Mubarak, or Nasser before him.

Thousands of the Muslim Brotherhood are in prison, hundreds face the death penalty. Yet, despite the military coup that brought Sisi to power, and the repression, the American aid continues to flow.

What do these leaders have in common?

All are strong men. All are nationalists. Almost all tend to a social conservatism from which Western democracies recoil. Almost none celebrate democracy or democratic values the way we do.

And almost all reject America’s claim to be the “indispensable nation” or “exceptional nation” and superpower leader.

Fareed Zakaria lists as “crucial elements of Putinism … nationalism, religion, social conservatism, state capitalism and government domination of the media. They are all, in some way or another, different from and hostile to, modern Western values of individual rights, tolerance, cosmopolitanism, and internationalism.”

Yet not every American revels in the sewer that is our popular culture. Not every American believes we should impose our democratist ideology on other nations. Nor are Big Media and Hollywood universally respected. Patriotism, religion and social conservatism guide the lives of a majority of Americans today.

As the Associated Press reports this weekend, Putinism finds echoes across Central and Western Europe. Hungary’s Viktor Orban has said he sees in Russia a model for his own “illiberal state.”

The National Front’s Marine Le Pen wants to bring France into a new Gaullist Europe, stretching “from the Atlantic to the Urals,” with France seceding from the EU superstate.

“Of the 24 right-wing populist parties that took about a quarter of the European Parliament seats in May elections, Political Capital lists 15 as ‘committed’ to Russia,” writes the AP.

These rising right-wing parties are “partners” of Russia in that they “share key views — advocacy of traditional family values, belief in authoritarian leadership, a distrust of the U.S., and support for strong law and order measures.”

While the financial collapse caused Orban to turn his back on the West, says Zakaria, to the Hungarian prime minister, liberal values today embody “corruption, sex and violence,” and Western Europe has become a land of “freeloaders on the backs of welfare systems.”

If America is a better country today than she has ever been, why are so many, East and West, recoiling from what we offer now?

 

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Naziyahu: Europe has not learned lessons of “Holocaust”

NOVANEWS

Criminal Naziyahu

Arch war criminal and international terrorist Benjamin Naziyahu, the current Prime Minister of the rogue Zionist regime occupying Palestine, recently lectured and chastised Europeans, claiming they have not learned the lessons of the alleged Jewish “Holocaust” of WWII. Haaretz reports:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the Holocaust to sharply attack Europe following the decision by the European court in Luxembourg to have Hamas removed from the EU’s list of terrorist organizations, and against the backdrop of Wednesday’s Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention in Switzerland.

“We saw today examples hanging before us of European prejudice,” said Netanyahu at the opening of his meeting with U.S. Senator-Elect Joni Ernst of Iowa. “In Geneva, they are calling for an investigation against Israel for war crimes, while in Luxembourg the European court removed Hamas from the terrorist list. It looks like there are too many people in Europe, on the ground where six million Jews were slaughtered, who haven’t learned a thing. The friendship we see from the United States stands in complete contrast to what we are seeing regretfully in Europe.”

Earlier Wednesday, the General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg accepted the petition by Hamas in which it sought to have itself removed from the EU’s list of terrorist organizations. The hearing in the European court was technical and procedural, and did not stem from a change in the EU’s position regarding Hamas. […]

As readers are no doubt aware, the fake Jewish “Holocaust” narrative of WWII has served as a weapon in the hands of the organized international Jewish community and the Jewish state of Israel for decades now. The ridiculous “Holocaust” narrative and the “lessons” it has been used to advance – “tolerance”, anti-racism (read: anti-Whitism), and multiculturalism – have been instrumental in international Jewry’s assault on and subversion of traditional Western civilization, in addition to their global agenda of world domination.

The fake “Holocaust” story is constantly invoked to cover up, excuse, and even justify Israeli and Jewish criminality, murder, and war crimes, as we see in this particular story cited above. Any investigation or even frank, truthful discussion of the recent barbaric attack on Gaza, in which countless innocent Palestinian civilians were brutally slaughtered, carried out by Netanyahu and the Zionist regime must be squashed and eliminatd because, as Netanyahu says, of the “Holocaust”. When is the Western world going to reject the fake “Holocaust” narrative and stand up to the Jews?

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IS IT THE END FOR ISIS IN DAYR EL ZOR?

NOVANEWS

THE SYRIAN ARMY SAYS “YES”

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It is hard to imagine how much longer the rats of ISIS can hold out in Dayr El-Zor what with over 200 of their own being executed in Al-Raqqa for desertion last week.  So sad.  The assault on the airbase, as you now know, was a flop.  4 separate efforts with the usual cast of suicidal derelicts from Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan or Barfghanistan didn’t make one bit of difference or a whit of sense.  The army at the base is very well armed and led by a brilliant commander who’s not afraid to get in on the action.

Al-Muree’iyya:  Today, the SAA had a field day killing and sniping gathering rodents in this town on the Euphrates.  These are the confirmed carcasses:

Abu Al-Baraa` ‘Abbaas (LIBYAN SKUNK ODOR GLAND)

Jihaad ‘Arraaf Al-Madfoon

Ahmad Jaassim Al-Khalaf

‘Izzeddeen Sibtaan Al-Naasser

Fu`aad Ahmad Majeed

Firaas ‘Abdul-Baaqi Ahmad Al-Sirhaan

Sufyaan Taalib Al-Batti

Ahmad Faaris

Luqmaan Sa’eed Al-Shahroor

Nizaar Mahmoud Tawwaaf

Faadhil Khaleel Al-Raa’iy

Muhammad ‘Adnaan Balsami

Daawood Sulaymaan Salaama

Muhamamd Hassan Al-Najjaar

Hamaada Muhjim Al-Hassan

11 others could not be identified and are believed to be foreigners.

Al-Bu-‘Umar Village:  26 rodents dead on the left bank of the Euphrates. Shu’aytaat militia came out in droves and beheaded 6 ISIS vermin as the SAA tried to stop them.  Vengeance is so sweet.

الجيش السوري يحكم سيطرته على مزارع الملاح وجنوب وغرب حندرات بريف حلب

Jaffra Village:  More ISIS flies drop like, well, flies!  10 confirmed dead insects and all weapons and ammunition distributed to our militias.

Bayt Dughaym:  An armored truck loaded with explosives and 4 rodents exploded courtesy of the SAA just east of the airbase.  All were killed. No names.

Huwayjat Sakr:  SAAF very active overhead.  Reports of packs of rats scattering as bombers strafe positions on the island.

DAYR EL-ZOR:  SAA continues to mop up in several areas like Al-Jubayla, Al-Rushdiyya, Old Intilaaq Neighborhood (3 Kuwaitis and 1 Tunisian killed), Al-Huwayqa, Al-Rusaafa.

AL-HASAKA:

تفكيك سيارة مفخخة بأكثر من 300 كغ من المتفجرات في الحسكة

City: At the Teachers’ Union Building: (December 14, 2014) A car rigged to explode by remote control was neutralized by an SAA sapper.  The Hyundai was stolen and contained 300 kgs of TNT and C-4 and was laced with buckshot for added atrocity.

Al-Siddeeq Village and Al-Rahf Farms Crossroad:  3 pickups with 23mm machine gun cannons were destroyed 15 kms from the city.  No other details.

Al-Maylabiyya area:  15 ISIS cockroaches killed in vans loaded with weapons and ammunition.  The SAA was successful here in beating back an assault to cut off the roadway to Al-Shidaadi.

Al-Manaajeer Village:  SAA defeated an attempted infiltration and killed 6 rodents.

Al-Aghbeesh Village:  Same as above. SAA stopped an attempted infiltration.  No other details.

Tal Al-Safaa in the area of Kobane:  SAA in action prevented movement of ISIS vermin toward the Kurdish held town.

Tal Tamr International Highway:  SAA killed 14 ISIS rats in an ambush.

Al-Shibayb:  South of the city.  A pack of ISIS rodents was destroyed.

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DER’AH: ZIONIST SUPPORT FOR CANNIBAL TERRORISTS DOOMED

NOVANEWS

SYRIAN ARMY CAMPAIGN DEMOLISHES JORDANIAN RAT KING’S SAVAGES

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Tal Shihaab: Proof of the “Tom Thumb Tyrant’s” collusion with the Zionist Settler State was in full view yesterday at the village of Tal Shihaab right at the Jordanian border facing the village of Al-Turra.  This area is a major conduit for the transportation of virulent rats and their instruments of horror which they regularly utilize desperately to convince the local population of the righteousness of their cause. Their efforts have not been very successful.  In fact, at this village, the locals pointed out exactly how the rats sneak in from Jordan and how the Jordanian General Intelligence Directorate facilitates their movements.  When the Jordanian Pygmy King says publicly that he has no role in the war in Syria, he is a bloody lying snake.  Yesterday, between this village and the village of Al-‘Ajami, Syrian Army regulars dealt a devastating blow to this conduit by killing 6 agents of Nusra who were primarily responsible for coordinating smuggling with the Jordanian authorities.  Another 13 were spirited back into Jordan where they were attended to by the usual quacks at a field hospital south of Al-Turra.

Al-Dalli Village:  North of Der’ah City.  This is an area infested by LIwaa` Jaydoor Al-Hawraan and Liwaa` Hamza Assadullaah (double yawn).  An attack on a checkpoint yesterday was typically disastrous as the defending SAA and PDC killed all but one of the 7 attacking skunks:

“Abu-Al-Fidaa`” (Id pending)

Sulaymaan Karnoobi

The other 5 were foreigners, inevitably of Jordanteezian origin.

Al-Faqee’:  Another miserable and failed attack on one of our checkpoints met with the wailing of rats.  No details.

Al-Naaziheen Camp and the Al-Sultaan Fuel Station on the road to Gharz Prison:  Nusra tried to infiltrate into this area to attack an SAA outpost.  There was a firefight.  The outpost and its soldiers are still there.

Post Office Building and south of the Engineers’ Building in the Al-Naaziheen Camp and at the Al-Bajaabija Quarter in the City:  SAA pounced on a pack of rodents belonging to Nusra/Alqaeda and killed 4.

Intense fighting here:  Tafass, Al-Haarra City, Kafr Naasij (nests destroyed), Zimreen, Simleen, ‘Aqrabaa, Ibta’, Al-Yaadoodaa,  Al-Saybaa, Dam Road, Al-Yarmook School area, Old Customs Building, Umm Walad (lots of rats killed).

Al-Karak at the prison:  Monzer describes a “huge” warehouse with crates of ammunition supplied by the Saudi monkeys through Jordan.  The SAA confiscated all contents and killed 3 rodents.  The groups active here are: Liwaa` Tawheed Al-Janoob (Unification of South Brigade), Kataa’`ib Mujaahidiyy Al-Hawraan (Brigades of the Mujaahideen of the Hawraan, Kateebat Madfa’iyyat Sijjeel (triple yawn).  

Al-Bajaabija Quarter:  The groups active here who are tormenting the inhabitants are exactly the same as in Al-Karak, but, with the addition of Harakat Al-Muthanna.

AL-SHAYKH MISKEEN:  SYRPER IS PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THAT AL-SHAYKH MISKEEN HAS NOW BEEN TOTALLY ISOLATED BY THE SAA AND NO SUPPLY LINES TO THE RATS ARE AVAILABLE ANY LONGER.

Der’ah City:  On December 15, 2014, the Liwaa` Shuhadaa` Al-Yarmouk (Martyrs’ Battalion of the Yarmouk, yawn), the Liwaa` Bayt Al-Maqdis, teh Kateebat Abu-Muhammad Al-Tallaawi,  kidnapped 3 Nusra rodents and the wife and son of a Nusra leader.  This resulted in heavy fighting between the groups such that Nusra has now taken over their opponents’ positions at Taseel.  The hostages have not been released.

Fighting in Busra Al-Shaam, Saydaa and Der’ah City.

Umm Al-Mayaadhin Village:  A nest was destroyed.  Weapons and ammunition confiscated.  No more details.

Daa’il:  A very unique operation by SAASF resulted in 16 rat deaths.  I am waiting for details.

MARTIN LUTHER SYLLOGISM OF THE WEEK SENT BY GREG GRAYBEARD:

“Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep;

Whoever sleeps long, does not sin;

Whoever does not sin, enters heaven!

Thus, let us drink beer!” 

 

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SYRIA’S TRUE ARMY SMASHES ISIS IN HOMS

NOVANEWS

ISIS REELING FROM SUCCESSIVE DEFEATS IN IDLIB

الجيش السوري يستهدف مواقع المسلحين بريف دمشق

HOMS:

Al-Jadhal Field in the shadow of Al-Shaa’er Mountain:  The SAA vanquished a pack of ISIS jackals skulking around this area in an apparent bid to keep our troops tied down. Didn’t work very well.  SAA killed 8 today and took 3 prisoners.

Abu Al-‘Alaayaa Village:  East of Homs City.  The SAA surrounded a group of ISIS rodents killing 6 and wounding an undisclosed number of rodents.

Al-Ghantu:  2 nests belonging to Nusra were vaporized by SAA units.  No details.

Al-Wa’er City:  More evidence is accumulating that the foreign rats inside are breaking because of hunger and need for medical care.  This is another area ripe for a big dynamic push by the SAA timed for when they least expect it.

South ‘Ayn Hussayn:  Fighting with no details.

Fighting intense in these areas:  East of Al-Qaryatayn Dam, Al-Nasraani Mountain, Al-Rastan, Dayr Fool.

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IDLIB:

Abu Dhuhoor Airbase area:  If any of you bought the propaganda about Abu Dhuhoor’s fall, let me disabuse you of any misconceptions brought on by the wishful thinking of the rat enablers in England and France.  The fighting is intensifying around the Abu Dhuhoor Airbase area with a confirmed 34 Nusra rats strewn all around and rotting.  At the Al-Kiyaari Farms in the ambit of the airbase, the SAA is massing for a push to retake the base which was abandoned by order of the field commander in charge after the MoD decided that a straight out defense would be too costly in lives and materiel.  Instead, the army redeployed to the Haamidiyya base to conduct operations to regain the base on terms favorable to the SAA.  As of today, at the farms, spotters have counted 23 carcasses with many wounded and not receiving medical attention from their rodent comrades.  It’s a mess for Nusra.

Sarja:  A perfectly planned operation by SAA infantry caught the rats unawares in the Al-Zaawiya Mountains killing foreign filth belonging to the Kataa`ib Ansaar Al-Shaam, Liwaa` Al-Haqq, Liwaa` Al-Tawheed.  All these groups are supported by the terrorist Saudi apes but are falling apart and unifying their efforts in order to remain in the game.  The numbers of dead are very substantial among these packs, so much so that they are on the verge of extinction.

Qumaynaas:  A town valued for its spectacular historic sites and artifacts, looted and pillaged by British supported terrorists whose orders come directly from Incirlik AB in Erdoghan’s Turkey.  It is 5.5 kms south of Idlib and its inhabitants have sent numerous petitions to Dr. Assad to send troops in to rid them of the British-controlled rat filth.  Yesterday, 11 rodents took the surrey with the fringe on top to Satan’s Saloon:

Rafeeq Saalih Al-Dibs

Muhammad ‘Ali Faqqoos

The rest were not indentified.  Wael is certain 3 were Turkish citizens.

Nahla and Kooreen Villages in the Areeha area about 12 kms from the city:  SAAF and SAA launched an attack on a pack of rodents riding in pickups and vans and killed most of them.  I have no details or specifics, yet.

Al-Naajiya:  Very close to the Turk border and a “former” conduit for smuggling weapons and foreign garbage in the shape of rats.  The SAA rained artillery down on it.  It is a sign that the propaganda you are hearing about rat control over this province is pure folderol.  The SAA is advancing everywhere in this area.

Fighting in Al-Dibshiyya Village:  SAA killed 4 rats from Nusra.

Al-Mastooma:  The SAA liquidated this rat leader of Suqoor Al-Shaam (Falcons of Syria, yawn):

‘Allaawi Abu-‘Alaa`

Kareema and Tal Mareer Villages:  These rats are confirmed recipients of Erdoghan’s and the UAE’s financial assistance.  Yesterday and today, the SAA destroyed 3 nests and killed all 32 rodents.  Not one survived.

URGENT NEWS:  THE SYRIAN ARMY HAS DEVASTATED THE AHRAAR AL-SHAAM AND NUSRA AT SHUGHUR,  60KMS FROM THE CITY AND IN THE AREA OF JISR AL-SHUGHOOR.  A MAJOR CAMPAIGN IS UNDERWAY TO KILL ALL THE FILTHY, PLAGUE-CARRYING FOREIGN TRASH SENT BY THE USUAL GANG OF IDIOTS IN BRITAIN, FRANCE AND THE USA.  I HAVE RECEIVED VAGUE REPORTS OF AT LEAST 90 RODENTS KILLED AND HUNDREDS WOUNDED AS THE SAAF SURPRISED THEM IN A LATE NIGHT ASSAULT FROM THE AIR.  I WILL TRY TO GET MORE DETAILS BY TOMORROW, ALTHOUGH, I MUST GO ON A TRIP TO RETURN ON SUNDAY.  I’LL DO MY BEST.

Ayn Al-Sawdaa`:  47 kms from the city, a foreign pack of rats was wiped out by the SAA and PDC.

NEWS AND REPORTS:

Penny lambastes the propaganda organs of the West in this insightful article about the symbiosis on the Golan:

http://pennyforyourthoughts2.blogspot.com/2014/12/vice-news-idf-aiding-their-terrorists.html

This article about Obama’s efforts to punish Russia is a must-read.  A unanimous vote in the U.S. Congress? Ha. Ha.

http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2014/12/free-fall-of-ruble-brilliant-ploy-of.html

 

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No donkeys allowed

NOVANEWS
International Solidarity Movement

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Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Mohammad Saleh, a sixty-six-year-old Palestinian resident of Tel Rumeida, al-Khalil (Hebron), waited with his mule outside Shuhada checkpoint for nine hours over the course of two days. He spent four hours waiting before being allowed through on Monday (15/12/14) evening.

He then spent five hours Tuesday (16/12/14) attempting to cross in the opposite direction before eventually turning back, after being denied repeatedly by Israeli forces claiming that donkeys, mules, horses, and carts are not permitted to pass through the checkpoint.

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Shuhada checkpoint serves as the only clear passage between the H2 (Israeli-controlled) neighbourhood of Tel Rumeida and the H1 (Palestinian Authority-administered) neighbourhood of Bab Al-Zawiye, a route many Palestinians must traverse regularly in the course of their work and daily routines.

Mohammad arrived at the Bab Al-Zawiye side of the checkpoint at 13:40 on Mondayafternoon, his mule laden with empty milk jugs and saddlebags packed with various provisions. Israeli forces refused to let him through, claiming no animals were allowed past the checkpoint – a claim no one, including other international organisations at the scene as well as the Palestinian District Coordination Office for al-Khalil, had ever heard before.

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Mohammad explained that he had been allowed pass the checkpoint on Monday morning, with the promise that he would be let back through later in the day. When he returned, he found a new shift of soldiers and no one willing let him pass. The soldier manning the checkpoint claimed he needed permission from his commander to open the gate, which would allow Mohammad to pass with his mule.

An ISM volunteer at the scene later received a call explaining that the Israeli military’s new rule stated that horses, donkeys and mules were not permitted to pass through the checkpoint. No one, however, was able to explain why Mohammad had been allowed through that morning, but denied on his way home. “Look at my ID,” he told the soldier at one point, “I’m in your computer. I go through here all the time.”

He stayed waiting, sitting beside his mule on the cold concrete base of the fence, even as the afternoon turned into evening. The sky grew dark, though the lights from the checkpoint still illuminated the fences,
turnstiles, and barbed wire. Even the soldier seemed concerned, telling him to please go home, as it was cold and late and staying would not help him. But Mohammad had already made it clear he would not leave. About ten minutes later the soldier finally opened the gate, saying it was the “last time” that he would be allowed through. Although Mohammad heard the soldier’s message, it was clear he would not heed it. He intended to continue to resist, no matter what anyone told him.

Sure enough, the following morning he was once again standing outside the checkpoint, this time on the Tel Rumeida side, with full milk jugs tied to the back of his patient mule. The soldiers presented multiple reasons from denying him passage, from a prohibition on taking anything through the checkpoint too large to be carried through the turnstile, to the new rule against allowing donkeys, horses and mules through. ISM volunteers attempted to find a solution, offering to carry the milk jugs around the checkpoint and meet Mohammad and his mule on the other side. The Israeli soldiers manning the checkpoint rejected all suggestions.

“Is the donkey the problem or the milk the problem?” One ISM activist eventually inquired.

“The donkey’s the problem,” a soldier replied.

The animal could have easily passed through the metal detector; only last night ISM activists had witnessed the ludicrous sight of Mohammad’s mule strolling through the concrete structure, empty milk jugs banging against the corners of the gateway. The turnstile served as the only obstacle to the his passage – an obstacle the soldier could easily remove by opening the gate on the other side of the metal detector and letting the mule pass around the turnstile and into Bab Al-Zawiye.

After five hours of waiting, Mohammad’s comment seemed by far the most accurate. “The soldiers are the problem,” he had responded in Arabic.

Barring donkeys, mules, and horses and carts is only the latest in a string of frustrating, humiliating regulations imposed on the people living near the checkpoint, who must pass through to work, study, and shop for essentials such as fresh food. Just a few days earlier a group of elderly Palestinians, ill people, young children, and teachers at a local school had also been forced to wait, some for up to three hours, before being allowed through.

When Israeli forces shut down the checkpoint after it was burnt nearly a month ago , barring most people from passing through for over three weeks, the Palestinians were forced to adapt. Local people know ways around the checkpoint; several paths lead through local families’ yards and over the walls and rubble between Tel Rumeida and Bab Al-Zawiye. These “rabbit runs,” however, are entirely unsuited to traveling through with a mule – as well as for anyone sick, elderly, or carrying large heavy objects.

Since the attempted burning of the checkpoint, the Israeli military rebuilt it larger and with more obstacles for anyone traveling through. One side now has a metal detector, and both sides are equipped with vertical metal turnstiles which are a major impediment to anyone trying to move through with large baggage. Soldiers continue to use the burning of the checkpoint to justify collective punishment imposed on the entire Palestinian population – young and old, men and women, healthy and ill – who live or work near the Shuhada checkpoint.

Any Palestinian might be stopped while attempting pass through. Even with the checkpoint officially open, far too many are. Soldiers regularly search bags and make people remove their belts and empty their pockets before being allowed through. These everyday humiliations accompany frequent ID checks and detentions, serving as an inescapable reminder of the illegal Israeli occupation. Soldiers present at checkpoints routinely cite newly imposed rules and orders from superior officers as reasons for denying people passage, but whether someone passes easily through a checkpoint or must wait for hours often seems to be determined by nothing more than the soldiers’ caprice.

Many Palestinians must pass through Shuhada checkpoint multiple times in a day, carrying items as diverse as fresh vegetables, tubs of oil, and gas for cooking and heating their homes. During the hours ISM volunteers stood waiting with Mohammed, they witnessed multiple people struggle with the cumbersome design of the rebuilt checkpoint. One woman was carrying too many grocery bags to be able to fit into the turnstile. Someone on the other side of the turnstile had to reach a hand between the metal bars and move one bag through, returning it to the woman once she had passed. Another Palestinian, this time a young boy, needed the help of multiple passers-by over several minutes to figure out how to get two tubs of oil and a metal trolley through the turnstiles. Soldiers denied passage outright to boys who wanted to walk through the checkpoint with their bicycles.

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At one point on Monday night, a group of off-duty soldiers ran up Shuhada street and stopped near the checkpoint to rest, stretching and laughing, their easy freedom of movement a stark contrast to experiences of Palestinians struggling through Shuhada checkpoint. Almost all of Shuhada street has been closed off to Palestinians, reserved instead for the settlers and soldiers occupying H2. Even Palestinians who manage to get through the checkpoint must pursue long, circuitous routes between the surrounding  areas of al-Khalil. Many, especially the elderly or disabled, are effectively barred from traveling to significant portions of the city their families have lived in for generations.

“I want to resist,” Mohammad told the ISM activists the first day they waited with him. He made sure the man translating said it twice, to make sure the ISM volunteers understood. “I want to resist,” he said, after over three long hours of waiting to be allowed through.

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Cuba Better Be Careful What It Wishes For

NOVANEWS
Cuba Flag
By Andrew Korybko 

The US and Cuba have reached a historic deal to swap notable prisoners and establish diplomatic relations after decades of mutual hostility. The announcement caught many by surprise, and begs the question: Are there more sinister geopolitical calculations at work behind the U.S.’ olive branch?

The tradeoff largely boils down to this: the US has released the three remaining members of the Cuban Five in exchange for jailed contractor Alan Gross, 53 US-selected “political prisoners,” and an unnamed intelligence source who was imprisoned over 20 years ago. As a result, both countries will now establish diplomatic relations and the decades-long US embargo will be largely eased.

Many people are rightfully cheering what seems to be an imminent end to U.S. hostility towards Cuba, but all of this may just be a deception. The U.S. needs Cuba more than the other way around, since it wants to use the island as a pivot to reverse the Caribbean Basin’s move to multipolarity and prolong Washington’s full control over its historic “lake.”

Regime Change Done Differently

Cuba no longer needs the U.S. as much as it did at the end of the Cold War, when its economy was in despair and the market hardly functioned. It’s come a long way since then, and although it still has its fair share of problems, it’s proved that it can survive on its own while being officially isolated from its massive northern neighbor. While the U.S. had plenty of opportunity to exploit Cuba when it was at its weakest in the 1990s, it missed the chance to do so, driven by the precondition that regime change must happen first.

Now, however, the tables have turned, and the U.S. is pursuing a policy of engagement first in order to facilitate the same regime change goal it’s been trying to pull off for over the past half century.

“I do not expect the changes I’m announcing today to bring about a change in Cuban society overnight,” Obama said, implying that he still wants the U.S. vision of change to occur. The removal of the embargo would only be a victory for the Cuban people if they are able to retain their independence, sovereignty, and preferred form of government afterwards.

Indirect Inroads

Overt hostility hasn’t worked in the past against Cuba, and it likely won’t work in the future. Plus, there’s been a general trend in recent years for the US to pursue its objectives through covert and indirect means. This is where Cuba is most vulnerable in the recent ‘thaw’ in relations. The American economy doesn’t need Cuba at all, really, and Washington’s opening to Havana is a convenient cover to catch Cuba in its social and economic snare to more directly control the inevitable leadership transition process that will occur with Fidel’s passing. It already tried and failed to use USAID to create a ‘revolutionary Twitter’ on the island, as well as its embarrassing follies with anti-government Cuban rappers, to name but the few most recent regime change scandals there. And it must be kept in mind that Mr. Gross was working for the Agency when he was arrested in 2011 for trying to, as Cuban authorities described it, to “promote destabilizing activities and subvert constitutional order” to foster a “Cuban Spring.”

Cuba is also vulnerable to reverse migration, in that dissident and possibly extremist Cuban-Americans may return to the island in order to build a future Color Revolution’s social infrastructure to deploy when the time is right (likely in the aftermath of Fidel’s death). American businesses can fill a valuable development and investment gap on the island, in exchange for making Cuba ever more dependent on the U.S. This would give the U.S. another lever of influence over the island’s affairs, which could be activated in unison with a Color Revolution to create maximum disorder.

Bucking The Trend

The timing of Washington’s “outreach” to Havana isn’t coincidental, as it coincides with major processes going on in the region that the U.S. hopes to reverse. Most recently, the pro-U.S. Prime Minister of Haiti, Laurent Lamothe, was forced to resign last week amid protests and popular outrage over his corruption and ineffectiveness. Backtracking America’s hold on the region even further, the Chinese are slated to begin construction on the Nicaraguan Canal, which when completed, would create a major breach in America’s control of the Caribbean Sea. Finally, Venezuela has been a center of resistance to American hegemony over the hemisphere ever since the leadership of the late President Hugo Chavez.

Cuba is the symbolic leader of the Latin American resistance movement, and its “Cuban Spring” surrender would be disheartening for the other allied states that defy the U.S. via the ALBA grouping. Congress recently passed sanctions against Venezuela (largely overshadowed by the anti-Russian ones), which is the financial engine of the hemispheric resistance, to facilitate a Color Revolution there as well, as President Maduro himself has previously alleged Washington wants to do.

Venezuela’s economy is also hurting because of the recent oil price slump, which may inhibit its ability to subsidize the allied Nicaraguan, Ecuadorian, and Bolivian ones in the future. With Cuba out of the game, and perhaps even Venezuela, there’d be little ideological or economic support keeping Nicaragua, the future key to the Caribbean, from being next (to say nothing of Ecuador and Bolivia) and the Chinese-sponsored canal from becoming a failed infrastructure project. If this happens, then the U.S. would have reasserted its complete control over the Caribbean and begun to penetrate the Andes, thus tightening the containment noose around Brazil and strangling the future of multipolarity in the region.

Posted in USA, South AmericaComments Off on Cuba Better Be Careful What It Wishes For

Why normalize relations with Cuba now?

NOVANEWS

The simple answer: to destroy socialist Cuba, break up the ALBA nations, and hurt Russia, Iran, and Venezuela.

Let’s explain how this works…

Oil prices have fallen by half since late June 2014.

Reason: neo-liberalism is sustaining a permanent global depression. As a result, demand for oil is down, especially in China, Japan, and Europe.

Meanwhile the supply of oil is up, because domestic supplies are increasing—almost entirely caused by the frantic pace of drilling in “tight” oil fields in North Dakota and Texas, using hydro-fracturing (“fracking”) and horizontal drilling technologies.

Usually when there is a mismatch between supply and demand in the global crude oil market, it is up to Saudi Arabia—the world’s top exporter—to reduce or increase production in order to stabilize prices. However in Sep 2014, John Kerry asked King Abdullah to maintain production, and to cut prices to customers in Asia. Kerry did this to hurt Russia, Iran, and Venezuela. (More about that below.)

A cut in prices would normally stimulate an economy, but not in the age of neo-liberalism, where Wall Street (i.e. the financial economy) takes precedence over Main Street (i.e. the real economy).

Main Street needs oil. Wall Street does not. Wall Street’s casino capitalism is an abstract game of making money from money. Wall Street thrives while Main Street dies. Hence there is no demand for oil.

This is why low oil prices have not boosted the USA’s real economy. Unemployment remains high, and the people that still have jobs are paid dirt wages. Activity on Main Street is down (because of neo-liberalism). Therefore the demand for energy is down.

The fall in oil process has made it unprofitable to extract oil from Texas and North Dakota. As these operations wind down, scarcity will return, and oil prices will climb once again. Then oil companies will resume extracting oil from Texas and North Dakota.

Therefore the time for the USA to act is NOW, while oil prices are temporarily down, and Russia, Iran, and Venezuela are hurting. These nations depend on oil revenue, because they need foreign currency, because importers want to be paid in foreign currency (e.g. dollars or euros).
Importers do not want to be paid in the local currency of Iran, Russia, or Venezuela.

The USA does not need foreign currency, since the dollar is accepted worldwide. If the dollar were not accepted outside the USA, then America’s hundred-billion-dollar trade deficit would instantly (as in overnight) destroy America as we know it. The USA would suddenly have to become self-sufficient, or else break up into pieces.

Corporate media outlets claim that oil prices are down because there is an “oil glut.”  This is false. World oil production peaked in 2005, and has been declining ever since. Oil prices are temporarily down because demand is falling much faster than supply.

Some people say the Saudis are causing the fall in oil process. Again, this is false. The Saudis are only one factor. The real cause is a fall in demand (caused by global neo-liberalism) combined with a temporary increase in supply. If the Saudis were to cut production in order to increase scarcity, and thereby boost prices, it would make little difference, since Main Street is dead. Thus, Main Street would not demand oil. Thus, oil process would not rise.

Only Wall Street is hopping, and Wall Street does not need oil. (“Wall Street” means casino capitalism wherever it occurs in the world.)

Here is another falsehood: “More than 50% of Russian state revenue comes from its export sales of oil and gas.” Wrong. In terms of domestic revenue (rubles) the Russian government doesn’t need any. It can create as many rubles as it likes out of thin air. What Russia needs is foreign currency, in order to pay for imports of food, and so forth.

The fall in oil prices has reduced the profits of oil companies, but they don’t care. They are sitting on mountains of cash. To hurt Russia, Iran, and Venezuela, they can afford to temporarily make only $500 billion in profits, rather than $600 billion.

CUBA

Venezuela has sent cheap oil to Cuba since Chavez became president, and the fall in oil prices will not affect this.

In return, Venezuela benefits from thousands of Cuban doctors and engineers that come to Venezuela.

Venezuela has a lot of oil (the largest reserves in the world). Therefore Venezuela has enjoyed a plentiful influx of foreign currency. However this has caused native non-petroleum-related industries to atrophy in Venezuela. Venezuela must import most of its food, cars, etc. This is no problem as long as oil prices remain high, since Venezuela can pay for all imports. But when oil prices fall, Venezuela runs short of foreign currency, and cannot buy imports. Venezuela starves.

Meanwhile the corrupt bond rating agencies (Fitch, Moody’s and S&P) have suddenly and arbitrarily downgraded Venezuela’s sovereign bonds. As a result, Venezuela cannot get foreign currency by borrowing it (through the selling of bonds). This is intentional.

To repeat, Venezuela cannot get foreign currency (to buy imports) by borrowing it, or by selling oil. Venezuela is under an economic blockade.

Simultaneously Venezuela suffers from high inflation. This is the result of an economic war being waged by Venezuela’s rich oligarchs against Venezuela’s government and people. The oligarchs drive up local prices by reducing local production, and by hoarding foodstuffs and consumer goods. This is illegal, and the government tries to stop it, but it’s a cat-and-mouse game. The oligarchs are constantly moving things around and falsifying their records in order to stay one step ahead of the government while maintaining high prices. The purpose is to make Venezuela’s masses scream in pain, and call for a new government (ruled by the oligarchs).

When the oligarchs make war on you, and they have outside help, they can only be defeated by putting them in prison and taking over the means of production.  Thus, to defeat the oligarchs, Venezuela’s government would have to go communist or National Socialist — either of which would bring an instant military attack from the entire Western world. It would be Libya II.

Despite the war by the oligarchs, with their engineered scarcity, Venezuela was able to keep buying imports as long as oil prices were high, since Venezuela’s government could get foreign currency. But now that oil prices are down, and Venezuela’s supply of foreign currency is drying up, the oligarchs’ war is devastating.

Cuba will continue to get Venezuelan oil, but that is not enough. Cuba also needs to import food. For that, Cuba needs foreign currency. Venezuela has no foreign currency to give it, since oil prices are down.

Neither Venezuela nor Cuba can print their own currencies out of thin air are use it to pay for imports, since importers will not accept those currencies as payment. Foreign importers want to be paid in dollars, or euros, or British pounds. When you send 10,000 cars to Venezuela, you want to be paid in dollars that you can spend anywhere in the world. You do not want to be paid in bolivar fuertes that you can only spend in Venezuela.

Cuba’s economy is in trouble, since Cuba can no longer get help from Venezuela’s government, other than oil imports. Thus, Cuba is forced to start talking to Washington, whose sudden recognition of Cuba is a wedge between Cuba and Venezuela. It is designed to break up the ALBA nations. The USA must do this NOW, before oil prices go back up.

Washington’s recognition of Cuba will not stop at building an embassy in Havana. Washington will shower Cuba’s top politicians with money, thereby creating an instant and permanent addiction to money and power. Cuba’s politicians will want more. Always more.

In other words, once Cuba is corrupted, there will be no going back. Cuba will turn away from Venezuela, and will enter the globalist club. Everything gained from the revolution will be lost. Cuba will become Mexico, or even Honduras. A playground for the rich, and a nightmare for the natives.

All the corporate bigwigs understand what I have just described above. That’s why they are circling Cuba like vultures. Within a year, Cuba will be overrun with Israeli tourists. Synagogues and “holocaust”™ museums will spring up like weeds. (At present, Cuba only has about 2,000 native Jews.) Cuba’s finance minister and central bank head will be Jews.

It’s over folks. I’m sorry to be so negative, but I’ve seen this movie many times, and the ending is always the same.

Posted in USA, South AmericaComments Off on Why normalize relations with Cuba now?

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