Saturday, 21 April 2012

A Chance for Peace With Iran


by , April 16, 2012
With the price of gasoline rising, and President Barack Obama’s reelection prospects sinking, delaying a showdown with Iran and ratcheting down regional tensions has become a political necessity for this administration. The question is: can the Israel lobby scuttle revived negotiations?

That the participants came out of the 12-hour Istanbul meeting with reports of progress – and an agreement to meet again, on May 23, in Baghdad – is good news that must be taken in context. It’s been over a year since negotiators met, and the last round ended with both sides engaging in public recriminations, leading to the present impasse. This time around, the Iranians seemed fully engaged, and quite specific about what they are willing to discuss: and while such hot topics as the enrichment issue and increased IAEA access to Iranian nuclear facilities were politely danced around in public, all parties praised the meeting as "constructive."

Most important, from the Iranian perspective, is that the talks are to go forward within the context of the Nonproliferation Treaty, to which Iran is a signatory – and Israel, its chief antagonist, is not. Under the terms of the NPT, Iran has the right to create a peaceful – i.e. energy-oriented – nuclear program, which is what they have been insisting has been their goal all along. An agreement within this framework would underscore the Israelis’ unwillingness to sign the NPT, or to even admit the existence of their substantial nuclear arsenal.

It was only a matter of hours before the Israelis responded with typical peevishness. Meeting with Sen. Joe Lieberman, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a swing at Obama and the Europeans:
"My initial impression is that Iran has been given a freebie. It’s got five weeks to continue enrichment without any limitation, any inhibition."
As if Iran could create a nuclear weapon in five weeks time, even if it wanted to do so. This is par for the course for Netanyahu and Israel’s political leaders, whose constant harping on the alleged "existential threat" of an imaginary Iranian nuke has been a single note of hysteria sounded throughout the past few years, like an annoyingly defective car alarm the neighbors have learned to ignore. Time and again they have announced Tehran is "on the verge" of acquiring a nuclear arsenal: in two years, a year, in six months – the ticking of this purported time-bomb has been going on so long it has become just so much background noise. The Israelis have cried wolf once too often.

The Iranians refrained from lecturing Western diplomats in Istanbul, and their chief negotiator reportedly hinted at significant concessions on the key issues of enrichment and IAEA access. For their part, Western negotiators – particularly the Europeans, who are leading the effort – are apparently for the first time taking the Iranian Supreme Leader’s fatwa against nukes seriously. The P-5-plus-1, represented by EU foreign policy honcho and former CND’er Catherine Ashton, opened the meeting with a declaration affirming Iran’s right under the NPT to develop peaceful nuclear applications.
Ashton is hated by the Israelis, and they are likely to open their propaganda campaign against the negotiations by going after her as biased against the perceived interests of the Jewish state. The usual suspects will no doubt attribute darker motives to her stance.

The optimism that greeted the conclusion of the Istanbul talks is encouraging, but a realistic assessment must confront the politics behind the diplomacy. With all-too-likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney geared up for a foreign policy offensive, and the Israel firsters in both parties ever on the lookout for deviations from the bipartisan pro-Israel line, the political constraints on a settlement in an election year bode ill for the cause of peace. Not that Romney is proposing anything significantly different than the policy the Obamaites are now pursuing – draconian sanctions, relentless diplomatic and political pressure, and covert efforts at regime change. Yet the President and his advisors are walking a tightrope: the slightest wind in either direction could tip them over into the Scylla of appearing weak or the Charybdis of being provoked into war.

Like the Americans, the Iranians are constrained by politics: they refused to meet in bilateral talks with the US representatives for fear of being perceived back home as kowtowing to Washington. Iranian chief negotiator Saeed Jalili, a former deputy foreign minister, appeared at a news conference in front of a poster of the four assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists. The news the US has trained operatives of an anti-Iranian group on American soil – a group our own State Department has long classified as a terrorist organization – is unlikely to inspire trust: that and continued terrorist attacks carried out by Jundullah in Baluchistan and the Kurdish Pejak guerrillas are US bargaining chips rarely mentioned in Western news reports of the diplomatic back-and-forth: both groups have, at one time or another, received some American assistance, and they are surely getting aid from the Israelis.

While the Israelis aren’t shy about fighting a low-intensity covert war against the regime in Tehran, an all-out frontal attack is out of the question, in spite of their public posturing. The alleged threat of Israeli military action is a phony issue being ratcheted up by both Washington and Tel Aviv purely for dramatic effect: we are supposed to believe the Israelis are straining at the leash, and it’s only the Americans who can rein them in. In reality, Netanyahu hasn’t got the political support at home for a unilateral Israeli strike, and he knows it.

Aside from that, Israeli bombs over Tehran would violate the great unspoken rule of Israeli military and strategic doctrine: always get the Americans to do the fighting and the dying. It worked in Iraq, when Israeli-supplied "intelligence" tricked an all-too-willing-to-be-tricked Bush administration into fighting Israel’s war against Saddam. They hope to pull the same stunt in Iran, and the apparent success of the Istanbul conference is now a major obstacle in their path, albeit far from insurmountable.

Operating on two fronts – in the US, and in the region – the Israelis can do plenty to muck things up before the May 23 session convenes. Syria is at the boiling point, with the civil war spilling over the border into Lebanon and Turkey. By providing "non-lethal" aid to armed opposition groups in Turkey and within the country – and facilitating the provision of arms by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other interested parties – Washington is already fighting a proxy war against Iran in Syria. If the Israelis can succeed in turning Washington’s cold war against Syria into a hot one, they can introduce fresh complications into what should be a straightforward and focused negotiating process. While Bashar al-Assad looks like he’s firmly in power for the moment, increased diplomatic and political pressure on a staunch Iranian ally could well play into a scenario in which Tehran withdraws out of anger at the prospect of losing its only ally in the region.

Another wild card is the nature and scope of Israel’s covert activities in Iran: assassinations, carried out by the Israeli-supported Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) terrorist outfit, have humiliated the Iranians and provoked an internal security crackdown. Also not to be ruled out is a widening of the scope of the attacks to include high officials as well as scientists. That Israel has tried to pass off its recruiting of Jundullah terrorists operating in Baluchistan as the work of the Americans is the kind of provocation that could not only torpedo the negotiations but actually get us involved in a shooting war with the Iranians – which is precisely the goal of the Israelis.

In the end, the battle for a diplomatic solution to this manufactured "crisis" must be won, not in Istanbul or Baghdad, but in Washington. D.C. Yet the Imperial city is the stronghold of the powerful Israel lobby, which has annexed Congress the way the IDF has effectively annexed the West Bank, and which exerts a decisive influence on the leadership of both parties when it comes to foreign policy.

No matter how much it hurts our real interests to go to war with Iran over Tehran’s nonexistent "weapons of mass destruction," that is precisely what will happen unless war opponents can manage to exercise some political clout on the home front. While polls show Americans overwhelmingly want to avoid such a war, and support the negotiations, that this translates easily into the realm of policy is a naïve assumption: alas, too many people think "democracy" means majority rule rather than "the squeaky wheel gets the worm." When it comes to securing Israel’s interests over and above those of the US, the Lobby has the resources, the will, and an unbroken record of success.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN
I note, with a sigh of resignation, the "news" that Rep. Ron Paul has supposedly come out for moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in recognition of the Israeli claim to that city as its capital. I also note that the only sources for this "news" are 1) Business Insider, a site that has never been friendly to Paul and has consistently engaged in baseless speculation about a "deal" with Romney, and 2) Doug Wead, a Republican operative and advisor to Paul whose secret recording of conversations he had with President George W. Bush – and their subsequent release – earned him near-universal distrust. The Paul campaign has issued no official statement of this new policy, and there is nothing on their web site about it as of Sunday afternoon, when this column is being written. Perhaps Mr. Wead will release his secret recording of the alleged conversation Paul had with evangelicals leaders, where he allegedly made this pledge.

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The Babylonian Captivity of Washington

by Philip Giraldi, April 12, 2012
 
The most troubling prerogative of modern government is the ability of the sovereign or head of state to go to war. War means death, debt, and, if the decision is a bad one, the very end of civil society and the prevailing political order. Because war is potentially so terrible, a number of nations have curtailed the ability of the executive authority to make such a decision without first satisfying conditions imposed through constitutional and other political restraints.

It is perhaps ironic that the world’s oldest republic, the United States, has ignored its own constitution to grant to the president the authority to enter into armed conflict through the simple expedient of not actually declaring war. America has been de facto at war continuously since 2001 and the recent National Defense Authorization Act has codified an unending conflict in which the whole world is a battlefield and everyone in it is a potential enemy combatant subject to no constitutional or legal protection.

Many critics of the perennially lopsided relationship that the United States enjoys with Israel have noted a disturbing shift in the relationship during the first three years of the Obama Administration. To be sure, Obama appears to genuinely dislike Israel’s arrogant Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a sentiment that is fully reciprocated. But Obama is bound hand and foot into an engagement with Israel in which he lacks leverage over what might or might not take place. Even George W. Bush was able to say no to Israel when it was mooted that Tel Aviv might attack Iran, but Obama has painted himself into a corner where the United States has little influence over what might occur. Whether the Obama reticence is due to the control exercised by his Chicago billionaire patrons, the Crown and Pritzker families, both of which are strong supporters of the Middle East status quo, or whether it is just a more generalized fear about what might happen in the upcoming national elections, the result has been paralysis in Washington.

Recent war games conducted by the Pentagon have confirmed that a new conflict with Iran started by Israel would quickly draw the United States in and would become regional in nature. The war would not produce a good result for anyone involved and would be particularly bad for the United States, which would again slide into deep recession as energy prices soar.

So Israel can start a war and the United States can do nothing to stop it and will become a major victim of whatever plays out. If that is true, why is the mainstream media ignoring the story? The account of the disturbing Pentagon war games did indeed appear in the New York Times and was picked up in a number of other places, but it quickly died out, as always happens with stories that are critical of Israel and its policies. Supporters of Israel might also be quick to note that the hue and cry against another war is largely coming from the usual suspects who are philosophically opposed to interventionism, including supporters of Ron Paul and a number of contributors to this website. But given their underlying pretense that the US is supporting Israel due to its own national interests, perhaps they should take another look at a document that recently surfaced on WikiLeaks. The document enables one to better understand that where Israel leads in foreign and security policy the United States will inevitably follow.
The summary of the Secret message, which I reproduce in full, is:

"SECRET cable from U.S. Embassy, Tel Aviv, dated 12 December 2009."1. (S) Summary: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher visited Israel December 1-2. U/S Tauscher focused her visit on setting the stage for a successful Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference (RevCon) in May 2010. She consulted with GOI interlocutors on potential strategy in addressing Egyptian insistence on pushing for the establishment of a nuclear weapon free zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East, as a way to divert attention from Iran to Israel. U/S Tauscher reiterated that the United States will not take any action to compromise Israel’s security and would consult closely with Israel — which GOI officials greatly appreciated. Nevertheless, U/S Tauscher said the United States is interested in exploring possible small steps involving Israel to address some of Egypt’s NWFZ concerns regarding the lack of implementation of the 1995 resolution. GOI officials for the most part were critical of these tactics, questioning why Israel should be portrayed as part of the problem. They recommended a more direct approach to President Mubarak – thereby circumventing the Egyptian MFA — in which Egypt is reminded that Iran is the regional nuclear threat. Other topics discussed include President Obama’s arms control and nonproliferation agenda, the P5 1 process and Iran’s nuclear program, the FMCT and CTBT, Jordan’s plans for a nuclear reactor, and Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME)."

Washington is sacrificing a vital interest, control of nuclear proliferation through the establishment of a nuclear free zone, to protect Israel’s ability to remain a secret nuclear power and dominate its neighbors. Read the message any way one wishes, but it would seem clear that Washington is colluding with Israel to shield the latter’s nuclear program from any scrutiny, a successful Non-Proliferation conference being one in which Israel is not discussed at all. If the US is seriously interested in limiting the spread of nuclear weapons one would think that Israel’s program is part of the problem, but Israel is making clear that any such suggestion is unacceptable and the Obama Administration agrees without pushing any alternative policy. Tauscher even goes one step further, pledging Washington to never act in any way that would "compromise Israel’s security" (as defined by Israel itself).

Dolphin_Class_subTauscher and her Israeli interlocutors prefer to shift the narrative to Iran and do it through the back door by ignoring the Egyptian Foreign Ministry and explaining things to President Hosni Mubarak, who is presumed to be sympathetic. Iran, or course, did not then and does not now have any nuclear weapons and no nuclear program while Israel has hundreds of nukes and both missiles and submarines to deliver them with, but facts shouldn’t intrude into a friendly discussion between friends. It is also interesting to note how Israel’s "qualitative military edge" is so much a part of US security doctrine that it has its own acronym – QME.

The Babylonian Captivity is a biblical reference to the conquest of the ancient Israelites by the Babylonians, after which the people of Israel were allegedly removed from their homes and physically transferred to Babylon. A later so-called Babylonian Captivity refers to the abduction of the Medieval papacy, which occurred in 1309 when the French King Philip IV moved the pope and most of his cardinals lock stock and barrel to the delightful city of Avignon, where they remained for 68 years before the Holy See was restored to Rome. The French sought to use the powerful papacy with its vast bureaucracy to support their own foreign policy ambitions. It is perhaps not an inappropriate metaphor for what has occurred between Washington and Tel Aviv, with key decision making for the United States now being transferred to Israel. The State Department message clearly reveals that when it comes to foreign policy the American people are no longer masters of their own destiny and at best can only negotiate issues with the Israelis while at the same time issuing a carte blanche in support of anything Tel Aviv chooses to do.

If the Republicans gain the White House in November things will only get worse, as Mitt Romney has explicitly stated that he would defer to Israel on all Middle Eastern security issues. Perhaps it is time for a wake-up call in the United States. Instead of presidential wannabes declaring their subservience to Tel Aviv, they should perhaps begin emphasizing that they will only act in the future in the interests of the American people. To do so would exclude an unnecessary war against Iran, which would be both a shameful action and also the next major step in bringing our country to its knees. Most Americans choose to think that foreign policy does not really impact on their daily lives, but they are wrong to believe so. War in the Middle East and Asia have destroyed the US economy and moved America closer to a police state. Telling Israel clearly and emphatically that it is on its own if it wishes to dominate its neighbors and go to war would restore much need perspective and would do much to right the ship of state back here in the US.

 
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Where the ‘Self’ Ends and the ‘West’ Begins


By Gilad Atzmon
http://www.thespanner.net/

When we were young there was hope in the air. There was good reason to look ahead. Some of us enrolled at university, but we also knew that if life did not shine on us, there were plenty of factories that offered enough jobs to those who were willing to toil. Yet it seems our children are not so lucky. Not much is awaiting them. The Western economy is on the brink of collapse.

When we were young, there were two ideologies around. In a cold manner, they bitterly chewing away at each other. One ideology maintained that equality and justice were the means towards liberation, whilst the other contended that celebrating one’s symptoms was actually the true meaning of human liberty. But it seems that these two ideologies have had very little impact on our life. In practice, we were all celebrating our symptoms - we were buying, selling, eating and drinking, but we somehow also enjoyed believing that ‘equality was a good thing’. Eventually these grand ideologies faded away and, not only do we not have ideologies anymore, we are not even capable of thinking ideologically.

In the post ideological era, which we now inhabit, we kill millions in the name of ‘liberation’, we rain down depleted uranium shells on crowded cities whilst promising to export ‘liberal democracy,’ and we export Western ‘justice’ in Coca Cola cans.

When we were young, we reserved some respect for our political system. We somehow accepted that liberal democracy reflected our true values and beliefs. Fundamentally, we believed that it was a well-meaning idea and the best of all options. Hence we believed that at least theoretically, our democratically elected representatives were largely a true reflection of our desires.

We were not stupid but we were somewhat naïve. Being the sons and daughters of the Enlightenment, we were submerged in self-love. We were rich and spoiled. Yet, clearly, we failed to notice that our most elementary freedoms were being gradually diminished until the ‘freedom to consume’ was the only freedom left. We were basically free to buy and spend, to borrow and then to spend again and, without realising it, we were being reduced to a nation of shoppers with the political system existing solely to facilitate consumption, on a constantly growing grand scale.

When we were young, we read about liberation, and political struggles. We learned about heroic people who stood up against evil by fighting tyrants, Tsars, capitalists, communists, fascists and racists. Yet why is it so difficult now for us to identify precisely who is to be blame for the current global crisis, to identify who is to take responsibility for the collapse of our free markets and our own sense of values, ethics and justice? Is it a single person that we should blame? Is it Margaret Thatcher, George Bush, Tony Blair or Milton Friedman? Is it a party or rather is it an ideology? Is it the banks, Alan Greenspan or Goldman Sachs? Is it Wall Street or the City of London? Is it America? Or is it ‘just us,' humanity as a whole, that we should blame?

It is reasonable to argue that the gigantic hole in global finance commonly known as the credit crunch is actually a gigantic amplification of the hole in each of our pockets. The greedy capitalist system known as 'banking' and 'global expansionist markets' can be understood as a vast manifestation of our own personal greed, as explored through relentless consumption. Hard capitalism is a ‘continuum state’ of greed between the personal and the entire system.

Liberal democracy is commonly realised as a natural political extension of individual liberties. It is only natural then, that some of the worse aspects of our society and political system are actually deeply rooted in each and every one of us. The relentless appetite that we find at the heart of the capitalist system is a multiplied mirror image of our own bottomless inclination towards consumption.

Any profound criticism of the liberal system at this stage then, should entail some harsh self-criticism. Each and every one of us is an autonomous and ‘self-sufficient credit crunch.’ Just like the banks, we have also been spending money we did not have. And it seems our societies and ourselves are now clearly subjected to a similar malaise. We have been celebrating our symptoms collectively and blindly for too long.

We sometime envy the Arabs and their Spring. They have grasped who their enemy is (Western puppets rulers) and what their salvation is (Islam). Tragically, we understand that we are spiraling down into an inevitable long and dark winter. We know that politics and ideologies have failed us. We accept that we are dwelling in a post-political and post-ideological era, and yet we fail to understand what this may entail. The world, as we know it, is changing rapidly. Our so-called ‘liberties’ have turned against us and we dread the meaning of it all.

And yet we do not posses a means of understanding the condition we are subject to, simply because such conditions are merely an amplification of ourselves and our most precious beliefs. We fail to admit or decide where the ‘self’ ends and the ‘West’ begins. We do not know where London’s AL Tahrir square is. We cannot decide whether we really want to be liberated and we do not seem capable of even identifying who the enemy is.

The Western subject, as well as Western society, is submerged in self-love. Somehow we cannot understand how it is that a system that was created to explore our human liberties, can fail.

I suggest that a partial remedy for our malaise might be acceptance of a certain level of uncanniness, an acceptance that reason has its limits, and that ‘being in the world’ may be slightly mysterious after all. However, it seems as if it may take a while before we are brave enough to admit to ourselves that this is indeed the case.

The wandering who- Gilad Atzmon
The Wandering Who? A Study Of Jewish Identity Politics
The book can be ordered on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

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Armed Group Attacks Oil Pipeline in Syria’s Deir-Ezzour

Local Editor

deir zor mapAn oil pipeline in Syria’s Deir-Ezzour Province has come under attack on Saturday.

State news agency, SANA, reported that an armed group targeted the oil pipeline near Abu Hamam area with explosive device.

The agency quoted an official source in Ministry of Petroleum as saying that the 12-inch pipeline transfers oil from al-Tank field of al-Furat Petroleum Company to Alti-Two Station.

The company suspended pumping oil, the official said, adding that it loosed 2000 barrels due to the arson.
However, the “production process wasn't affected because the Company has alternative lines that could be used until the pipe is maintained”, the agency quoted the official as saying.


Source: Agencies
21-04-2012 - 15:16 Last updated 21-04-2012 - 15:16


Armed Terrorist Groups Escalate Their Attacks against Civilians and Law-Enforcement Forces in Several Provinces

Apr 21, 2012

PROVINCES, (SANA)- Recording more breaches of the plan of the UN envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, the armed terrorist groups continued their terrorist operations against the civilian, the law enforcement forces and the public and private properties.

10 Law Enforcement Personnel Martyred in Blast of 100 kg Explosive Device in Daraa Countryside

Ten law enforcement personnel were martyred in a blast of a 100 kg explosive device in Saham Golan in the gatherings of the displaced in Daraa province.

SANA reporter quoted a source in the province as saying that an armed terrorist group targeted a bus transporting law enforcement personnel with a 100 kg explosive device that was remotely detonated near Heit village in the countryside of Daraa.

5 Law Enforcement Members Martyred in Explosive Device Blast in al-Kark al-Sharqi in Daraa

An armed terrorist group targeted with an explosive device law enforcement personnel in al-Kark al-Sharqi area in Daraa, killing five members.

Law Enforcement Member Martyred in Terrorist Attack on Police Station in Daraa Countryside

On Thursday evening, the law enforcement member Fouad al-Hassan was martyred when a group of armed men attacked with machineguns the police station of Mahajjeh town in the countryside of Daraa. Another Member was injured in the terrorist attack.

A Chief Warrant Officer, a Civilian Martyred by Terrorists in Daraa

Another terrorist group attacked the civilian car of Chief Warrant Officer Munir al-Sha'rani from the Immigration and Passports Department, causing his martyrdom.

Three other persons were injured in the car which was attacked at Kharba crossroad heading from Daraa to Sweida.

A civilian employee at the preliminary school of Jassem village in Daraa, Majid al-Badawi, was killed by the gunfire of terrorists who attacked him while entering the school.

Law Enforcement Member Martyred by Terrorists in Hama Citizens Injured in Explosive Device Blasts

In Hama province, a terrorist sniper on Friday evening shot dead Ibrahim Abdul-Samad Mustafa from the law enforcement forces from above a residential building near al-Bahreh roundabout in the city of Hama.

Three citizens were injured in an explosive device blast in al-Arba'een neighborhood in the city of Hama, while two explosive devices were dismantled in al-Sabouniyeh neighborhood.

Meanwhile, the military engineering units dismantled two explosive devices, weighing between 30 and 40 kg and hidden inside sand bags. A source in the province told SANA reporter that an armed terrorist group placed the two bags in front of an under construction building near al-Shuhada Mosque in al-Sabouniyeh neighborhood.

The source added that another explosive device was detonated near al-Iskan roundabout without injuries being reported.

Three law enforcement personnel were also wounded by the fire of gunmen near al-Falah Mosque in Hama.

SANA correspondent quoted a source at the province as saying that four terrorists riding a Chery car opened fire on the security forces near the mosque injuring three.

The source added that unidentified body was found on the road between Kfarbuhem and Auou towns.

2 Law-Enforcement Personnel Martyred, 17 Wounded in Suicide Car Bombing in Hama

A suicide bomber detonated a booby-trapped car he was driving near a law-enforcement patrol which protecting the road near Maardas bridge in Hama governorate, killing two law-enforcement personnel and injuring 17 others.

A source in Hama told SANA's correspondent that the terrorist drove his car right into where the law-enforcement forces were stationed and detonated it, causing significant damage to the road, the bridge and nearby private property.

3 Law-enforcement Members Injured by Terrorists' Gunfire in Hama

3 law-enforcement members were injured by a terrorist group's gunfire near al-Falah Mosque in Hama. SANA correspondent quoted an official source in the governorate as saying that 4 terrorists in a car shot the law-enforcement members near the mosque, injuring three members.

The source added that the body of an unknown person was found on a road between Kfarbehem and Ayo towns.

A Civilian Martyred, Four Injured in Aleppo

In Aleppo province, the citizen Mustafa Riyad al-Zein was martyred and four others were injured in a blast of an explosive device planted by an armed terrorist group in al-Halwaniyeh roundabout on al-Bab road in Aleppo.

On Thursday evening, an armed terrorist group opened fire at an internet café in Seif al-Dawleh neighborhood A source in the province told SANA reporter that three terrorists targeted the café killing his owner Mohammad Ziyad Basmaji.

Four Civilians Martyred, 15 Wounded Including 7 Law-Enforcement Figures in Al-Bab Area

In Aleppo Countryside, four civilians were martyred and 15 others were wounded including seven law-enforcement figures by the fire of armed men in al-Bab area.

SANA correspondent quoted a well-informed source at the province as saying that terrorist groups opened fire on a rally in al-Bab area casing the martyrdom of Rameh Hajj Othman 30 years old, Abdul-Karim Na'ous 15, Ammar Kamal Najjar 35, and another unidentified person and wounding 15 others, including seven law-enforcement personnel who came to the area to protect citizens.

226 Wanted Men from Hama and Its Countryside Turn Themselves In

226 wanted men from Hama and its countryside on Tuesday turned themselves in and surrendered their weapons to the authorities.

A source in the governorate said that those who turned themselves in and surrendered their weapons were released after verifying that they didn't commit any acts of violence or murder against citizens.

The wanted men said that they now intend to return to their daily lives and rejoin society, pledging not to bear arms again and resort to vandalism or anything that may undermine the country's security and safety.

H. Said / Ghossoun / H. Sabbagh



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Al-Jazeera Correspondent: Al-Jazeera Following US, Zionist Regime Interests

Sayed Hadi Mousavi- Tehran

Before the start of the Arab Uprising, the Arab TV news channels seemed to be flourishing and gaining credibility. They began providing daily coverage of the revolutions. From Tunisia to Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria, people expected TV stations to embrace their dreams and defend their causes, but it seems that major networks decided to adopt some revolutions and dump others, following their own agenda.

Meanwhile, mainstream Arab channels gave the Syrian revolution a large portion of airtime, but things took a different path when they started interfering with the coverage.

The result of this type of coverage was the resignation of Ghassan Bin Jeddo that announced his resignation from the post of director of al-Jazeera's office in Beirut writing: "The Chanel ended a dream of objectivity and professionalism after al-Jazeera stopped being a media source and became an operations room for incitement and mobilization."

The latest in this row was Melhem Ria, al-Jazeera channel's chief bureau in Tehran. Moqawama.org had an exclusive interview with him to hear his reasons.

What was the main reason for your resignation?

Indeed, the main reasons of my resignation could be summarized in a few points:  
  • al-Jazeera bias over the Resistance Axis,
  • failure to meet objectivity in news coverage,
  • focusing on some controversial subject while the region is in a sensitive and critical situation,
  • Non-observance of professional Code of Ethics for in the editorial line about some countries, including Syria and Bahrain.
These issues were to an extent that were against my political and intellectual tendency and made me resign.

What were your problems in the last months?

My work was in Tehran and we were sending news to the channel about Iran. We hadn't any close connection with the Bahrain and Syria news that is being broadcast by al-Jazeera. We were outside what was happening but we were a part of the channel.

I myself, as a Lebanese, support strongly the resistance and felt that it's a duty to announce my political orientation. Especially that we see now the alignments are becoming clearer in the political scene. So any people involved in media should define thier orientation and to what wing they belong. Based on this, I declared my stance by resigning from my post.

I should repeat that I hadn't any special problem about my activities in Iran and it was related to oppose al-Jazeera's policies.

What were your main oppositions?

As I told you, violation of professional Code of Ethics, politicization and following some policies in news coverage that are in the interest of US and the Zionist Regime, and this was one of my main protests.

There is a policy here that wants to root out the Resistance Axis of the region.

This conspiracy started with strong pressure to overthrow the regime in Damascus and will continue by trying to impose blockade on Hizbullah and Iran.
Their aim is to divide the region into smaller countries based on racial, religious and ethnic differences. The plan ultimately serves to provide security of "Israel".

What's the significance of such resignations at al-Jazeera?

These resignations that we hear from time to time show definitely that they don't take into account professionalism. They're also falling into a spiral of politicization and subordination to the political projects that are in the interest of the United States and "Israel" in the first place and are harmful for the public interests of the people of the region.

What's your evaluation of the performance of the channel in the recent Arab developments?

There is a double standard in covering the Arab developments on the screen of al-Jazeera where only a part of the opinions is broadcast and opposite opinions are denied access.

al-Jazeera policy wants to root out the Resistance Axis of the region.
This is contrary to the slogan and approach claimed by the channel.

Has this had any effect on the popularity of the channel?

It's obvious that al-Jazeera has lost popularity comparing to last year.

A recent poll shows a 13 million loss of viewers, stressing that this decline is due to wrong policies and editorial line of the channel that is against the will of the people in Arab streets. The people are eager to be free from US dependency and Global arrogance.

Would You like to add something at the end of the interview?

I wish there were a great awareness by the media Muslims about what is being plotted for the Muslim World by Zionists. I also pray to the Almighty God that there will be serious attempts to thwart these plans, which aim to fortify the Zionist entity and fragment the region, also create ethnic and sectarian feuding among us. Their aim is to guaranty stability and security for the usurping entity [Zionist regime] as they believe that it can't be reached as long as the Muslim Worlds is unified and coherent.

Source: moqawama.org

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Endorsement of the day

"Atzmon addresses in The Wandering Who? important issues that deserve careful consideration by everyone—Jews, Palestinians and others—who are concerned with the interrelated topics of Zionism, the Jewish state, Palestinian oppression and Jews."
Professor Norton Mezvinsky ( Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May 2012)

The wandering who- Gilad Atzmon 

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Four Steps to Save The Egyptian Revolution

An Egyptian man walks in front of a wall with graffiti depicting images of martyrs of the Egypt revolution at Mohamed Mahmoud street, which leads to the Interior Ministry, where clashes between protesters and security forces took place during the revolution in downtown Cairo April 1, 2012. (photo by REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

By:Alaa Al-Aswany posted on Thursday, Apr 19, 2012
Let us suppose that you live in an apartment, and the apartment across the hall is occupied by a person you do not like. You have had many problems with your neighbor over his selfishness. This neighbor talks about principles but often ignores them if he can further his own interests by doing so. As a result, the relationship between the two of you has deteriorated and a feeling of aversion has reached the point where you have completely stopped dealing with him. Then one night a tremendous fire erupts in the building, its flames engulfing the whole structure. Suddenly your neighbor comes knocking and asks for your help in extinguishing the fire. What would you do? Would you tell him, “I refuse to deal with you even if the whole building goes up in flames with both of our children trapped inside?” Or would the gravity of the situation prompt you to cooperate with your neighbor in extinguishing the fire that threatens the building and its occupants? The choice is clear.

About this Article

Summary:
The Egyptian revolution faces a real threat from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Alaa Al-Aswany lays out an action plan to save it — and it starts with liberals and Islamists uniting to prevent the millitary from taking control of the upcoming elections. The revolution must continue in the form of protest and formal political action.
Publisher: As-Safir (Lebanon)
Original Title:
How Can we Save the Revolution in Four Steps?
Author: Alaa Al-Aswany
Published on: Tuesday, Apr 17, 2012
Translated On: Thursday, Apr 19, 2012
Translator: Kamal Fayad
Categories: Egypt Analysis & Opinion Politics
This analogy sums up our current situation: Egypt is the building, the neighbor who has repeatedly let us down is the Muslim Brotherhood and this period of Egypt’s history is just as dangerous as that horrible fire. The Muslim Brotherhood, along with the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), led us into the dark tunnel from which we are currently struggling to emerge.

The Brotherhood allied itself with the military to devise the shameful constitutional amendments that they now complain about, mobilized the people to accept amendments they did not really understand and manipulated the referendum on the constitution into a battle between believers and infidels.

The Brotherhood gave up the rebels in the Maspero Square, Mohamed Mahmoud Street and Council of Ministers massacres and failed to condemn the SCAF for committing them.

The Brotherhood, in fact, condemned the rebels and accused them of being bullies who served foreign interests.

The Brotherhood appropriated the Constitution Drafting Committee to monopolize and tailor the constitutional writing process to their desires. They also aimed to control the Central Auditing Organization through a draft bill that would have given the Speaker of the People’s Assembly the power to appoint the CAO’s head.

All of these were grave mistakes committed by the Muslim Brotherhood to serve its narrow interests, and their costs fell onto the sidetracked revolution. The revolution has failed to achieve the goals for which hundreds of martyrs paid the ultimate price, not to mention the thousands of injured and many of Egypt’s daughters who were abandoned by the Brotherhood while soldiers abused them in the streets.
 
In the end, the Muslim Brotherhood discovered that all their political gains were for naught because the SCAF used them as puppets to serve their own wishes. Only then did the Brotherhood clash with the military and rejoin the revolution to present the draft Law on Political Isolation (that bars former regime members from political work), which the revolution had long demanded. And so, they returned to the squares to demand the fall of the military’s authority.

How should we deal with the Brotherhood?

Should we stand with them to restore unity and once again become a strong revolutionary force, as we were during the first days of the revolution? Or will any cooperation with the Brotherhood end in its usual fashion, with them abandoning their principles to meet their political goals? This question cannot be answered without understanding what is currently happening in Egypt.

For 14 months after the ousting of Mubarak, the SCAF succeeded in denying the revolution’s demand for change. The Egyptian people have fallen victim to an organized scheme aimed at emptying the substance of the revolution, increasing its chances of failure, sullying its image and pressuring Egyptians through horrible, pre-arranged and fabricated crises such as insecurity, lack of food and a debilitating economic crisis. When people’s lives were made a living hell, the name of Omar Suleiman was put forth as a presidential candidate, as if he were the people’s savior from the catastrophe.

Whether Suleiman’s candidacy is excluded or not, the significance of his nomination remains valid and it reflects the SCAF’s apparent intentions of ending the revolution and restoring Mubarak’s regime at any cost. What the Supreme Commission for Elections is doing confirms that its decisions are politically rather than legally motivated because every decision has come to suit the will of the SCAF, even though it is never in accordance with the law.

How was Omar Suleiman nominated when the numerous complaints against him had not even been investigated? How did Suleiman, in two days, garner 50,000 documented forms in support of his candidacy. Why was he suddenly excluded from running for an unconvincing and naive excuse? How could the former director of the General Intelligence Directorate miscount the number of support forms that he submitted with his nomination?

Why won’t the Supreme Commission for Elections present, through the media, a copy of the passport proving that the mother of candidate Sheikh Hazem Abu Ismail is an American citizen? The Commission’s failure to do so means one of two things: Either it does not possess the evidence that proves Sheikh Hazem’s mother is an American citizen, or it is deliberately obfuscating the issue to provoke thousands of Sheikh Hazem’s supporters into causing chaos on the streets, leading to the elections’ cancellation.  

Ahmed Shafik

How can the Supreme Committee accept the nomination of Ahmed Shafik before the complaints against him are investigated? There are 35 complaints accusing Shafik of squandering public funds. They were filed in the attorney general’s office a full year ago but not one was ever investigated. The attorney general’s office confirms that they sent the complaints against Shafik to the Military Court, but the court’s officials deny receiving any.

Everything occurring in Egypt confirms that the SCAF is pushing toward a pre-arranged scenario that can lead to one of two possibilities: Either the presidency is won by a SCAF-supported candidate and he is tasked with reviving Mubarak’s regime with military officers behind the scenes, or, if their approved candidate cannot be imposed, ensuing problems and general chaos will prevent the elections from taking place, leaving the military in power indefinitely.

The Egyptian revolution is passing through the most difficult phase of its history. The danger that threatens it resembles a great fire engulfing a populated building. It is therefore all of our patriotic duty to save the revolution, and this goal cannot be achieved unless the following steps are implemented:

First

The Muslim Brotherhood must sincerely apologize for the grave errors that it committed in bringing us to this mess, and present proof of its goodwill through the attainment of a real consensus in the Constitution Drafting Committee that would satisfy all factions and parties and give the constitution real legitimacy. In return, the revolutionary civil forces must accept the Brotherhood’s apology and unite with it to restore the necessary unity to save the revolution.

Second,

We must all learn to coexist with those who we disagree with, and respect their rights. The liberals and leftists must learn that the the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists are not a bunch of backward thinking fascists, but are patriotic citizens who took part in the revolution and sacrificed martyrs; they happen to possess an Islamic political agenda which we should respect even if we disagreed with it, and we must protect their right to formulate their agenda and put it before the Egyptian people.

In return, the Brotherhood and the Salafists must realize that they cannot shoulder the responsibility of ruling Egypt alone, even if they represent the majority. They must learn that they could never change Egypt’s identity to mirror that of Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia. They must be aware that the liberals are not enemies of Islam, nor are they sexually permissive, degenerates or agents of Western countries, and some of them are no less religious than the Islamists are. They just do not support the idea of political Islam. The fierce battle between those two wings of the revolution was one of the main factors that helped the SCAF deviate Egypt from the road toward change.

Third

Once the unity is restored, pressure must be exerted on the SCAF to give real assurances of the election's integrity. All indications so far point to the presidential elections not being honest or fair. Article 28 of the constitution, which disallows challenging the decisions of the Supreme Commission for Elections, must be repealed because it is an aberration that goes against logic and justice, while also contradicting Article 21, which forbids any form of immunization of administrative decisions.

The electoral budgets of all candidates must be subject to oversight by the Central Auditing Organization, and each candidate’s sources of funding must be made public.

Real guarantees must be given to protect the state’s institutions from political interference in order to prevent employees from being forcibly mobilized to vote for the SCAF’s candidate, as was the case with the support forms submitted in favor of Ahmed Shafik and Omar Suleiman.

Candidates belonging to Mubarak’s regime must be excluded in accordance with the Law of Political Isolation, which was ratified by the People’s Assembly. Immediate investigations must also be opened to review the complaints submitted against Ahmed Shafik and Omar Suleiman.

Without fair rules that guarantee transparency, equal opportunity and the rule of law, the presidential elections will become a new trap to ensnare the revolution and cost us dearly. Holding fair elections might be hard to attain, but it is possible if we all unite to make it a reality. Experience has proven that the SCAF does not move in the right direction unless it is subjected to popular pressure.

Only the million-man demonstrations were capable of forcing the Council into accepting revolutionary demands, starting with Mubarak’s trial and extending all the way to excluding Omar Suleiman’s candidacy — even if only temporarily.

Fourth,

The revolution must use two tools that are capable of thwarting the conspiracy now underway to destroy the revolution: the squares of protest, constituting the people’s general assembly that birthed the revolution, and Parliament, which can protect the revolution and to achieve its goals.

The state’s institutions are completely under the thumb of the SCAF; starting with the police and State Security Service (which is currently running at full strength), to the military police responsible for dragging Egyptian women through the streets and murdering revolutionary youth, all the way to some judges complicit in the scandalous release of the Americans accused in the foreign-funds case.

In other words, the SCAF is still using all of Mubarak’s tools to control the course of events. But if the revolutionary forces were to unite, they would possess for the first time these two tools necessary to bring about change. We saw how Mubarak’s regime was shaken to the core when the People’s Assembly approved the Law on Political Isolation that targeted the former regime’s symbols.

The revolution faces a real threat that forces us to either remain fragmented, hurling accusations and insults at each other so that Mubarak’s regime — God forbid — may put a decisive end to the revolution, or to overcome our differences and immediately unite in order to achieve the revolution’s goals that thousands of Egyptians had already paid for with their blood.

The revolution persists until Egypt is free from tyranny, and God willing, it will succeed.

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!