Saturday 9 February 2013

Israel’s Perpetual Terrorism


By Dr. Elias Akleh
 Israeli raid
Israel has done it again. Last Wednesday January 30th Israeli war planes violated Lebanese air space for then ninth time in their way to bomb Syrian military research center. The US and the UN had also done it again. The US supported this Israeli raid as Israel’s alleged “right to protect itself”, while the UN denied Israel’s aggression claiming it could not verify it due to “bad weather conditions.”
While Israel kept silent about the raid with some of its officials hinting that Israel could have done it and has the right to do it allegedly in self defense, pro-Zionist media sources claimed that Israeli war planes targeted trucks transporting weapons to Lebanese Hezbollah on the Syrian/Lebanese border. Media outlets, including Qatari Al Jazeera, reported Israel’s fears of Hezbollah getting its hands on Syrian chemical weapons and Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, as reported by an Israeli security officials’ chief, who spoke on condition of anonymity since he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Israel’s unfounded claimed fear of having Syrian chemical weapons in the hands of Hezbollah is a total nonsense and smoke screen in the face. If Syria wanted to transport such weapons to Hezbollah it wouldn’t do it in conspicuous convoys crossing the border. Hezbollah had demonstrated its capability to defeat and deter Israeli aggression using conventional weapons during summer of 2006 and does not need any chemical weapons. Such claims are used as a justification for aggressive interventions on the Syrian borders to relieve pressure on the anti-Syrian terrorist groups.
Syrian officials reported that Israeli war planes had violated Syrian air space and bombed the Jamraya research center in the suburbs of Damascus, far from the Lebanese borders. This research center has been the target of attacks by the American/Israeli-Turkey/Qatari supported anti-Syrian terrorists and militias; the so-called Free Syrian Army, al-Qaeda and Annusra Front.

For the last seven months these mercenary terrorists were directed to attack Syria’s air defense systems and military bases in order to incapacitate Syria’s military defense capabilities. They had managed to attack one S-200 base and four surface-to-air missile bases. They have also succeeded in assassinating military scientific project managers such as Colonel Dawoud Rajiha, who was managing Syria’s long-range missile project. Yet their many attempts to attack and inflict any damage onto the Jamraya research center had failed since it was heavily protected. This job was left, then, to the Israeli air forces. The Israeli air raid shows very clearly the degree of Israel’s involvement with the anti-Syrian terrorist groups.
No official statement, Syrian or otherwise, had stated exactly what the Israeli planes had targeted. Yet some reports claim that the strike was intended to destroy Syria’s development of advance airspace defensive technology based on nuclear plasma technology developed by Iranian born nuclear engineer Mehran Keshe, known as “Tesla of physics”. It is reported that Iran gave this technology to Syria. This is the same technology Iran used to “pull” down the American spying drones in perfect conditions.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry filed a complaint letter with the United Nations Security Council urging the Council to issue a “clear condemnation of the flagrant Israeli attack on the territories of a sovereign state and the Israeli violation of the UN Charter, the international law, the Disengagement of Forces Agreement in 1974 and the relevant UNSC resolutions.”
The Israeli air raid was also condemned by the Russian government calling it “unprovoked attacks on targets on the territory of a sovereign country, which blatantly violates the UN Charter and is unacceptable, no matter the motives to justify it.” Iran, Syria’s closest regional ally, warned that the “Zionist regime’s attack on the outskirts of Damascus will have grave consequences for Tel Aviv.” Iran has a cooperative defense pact with Syria, and had previously warned that any attack on Syria would be considered an act of aggression against its own country.
The Lebanese President, Michel Suleiman, denounced the Israeli raid as flagrant aggression and accused Israel of “… exploiting the development in Syria to carry out its aggressive policies, indifferent to all the humanitarian and international treaties.”
Egyptian Foreign Minister, Mohamed Kamel Amr, denounced the Israeli attack saying “Such an assault on Arab land is entirely rejected and represents a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter and international law.” He, also, called on the international community to hold Israel accountable for its attacks on Arab countries, describing the raid as a danger to regional security and to Middle Eastern sovereignty.
When it comes to Israel’s violations of international laws and humanitarian laws, the responses of the American-controlled United Nation are very disappointing and do not hold the international laws.

Claiming “unclear weather conditions” the UN stated that it could not confirm the Israeli raid. The only thing Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary-General of the UN, could offer was his concern over the raid.

The deafening silence of the UNSC about the Israeli violations of the sovereignty of its neighboring countries had encouraged Israel to continue its terrorist attacks. The UN always apply double standards when it comes to Israel; the UN either overlooks Israeli terror attacks or considers them self-defense, while Palestinian and Lebanese opposition to Israeli occupation and terrorism is considered terrorist acts. In the case of Syria the UN overlooks the anti-Syrian terrorist supporting states of US, UK, France, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. These terrorist have been involved in grave human right violations and war crimes, the latest was the cold blooded execution of 80 young men in Halab.
The American response to the Israeli raid is also very typically biased towards Israel. American officials as well as media had focused on the alleged transporting Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles to Lebanon. The NBC reported that the missiles “would remove Israel’s critical freedom of flight over Lebanon.” This alleged freedom of flight is a violation of the air space of a sovereign country. Would Israel give this type of freedom to Syrian war plane into Israeli air space?
Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security advisor, warned Syria it should not “further destabilize the region by transferring weaponry to Hezbollah.” This warning implies justification for the Israeli raid and for future such raids. During an interview with French media last Friday the American Defense Secretary Panetta expressed American concern of the increasing probabilities of Hezbollah acquiring advanced weaponry from Syria. In her farewell speech, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Russia and Iran of “stepping up” military support for Syria and thus adding fuel to possible regional conflict.
Israel is the mad dog in the Middle East attacking all its neighboring countries without any provocation. The Israelis claim that acquiring advanced weapons by any of its neighboring countries means an existential threat to Israel, and thus they consider attacking and bombing that country their right of self defense. So Israel had bombed Iraq’s nuclear facility in the 1970’s, waged aggression wars against Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and lately Gaza Strip. It had bombed in 2009 Sudanese alleged arm smuggling convoys transporting weapons to Gaza, and in 2012 bombed Sudan’s small arms factory. In 2007 Israel bombed Syrian alleged nuclear facility and last week bombed Syrian research center. This twisted logic is somehow supported by the US and the UN. I wonder if this logic gives any Arab country the right to bomb Israel’s nuclear facility in Dimona or any of its chemical and biological weapons facility! Does it also give them the right to bomb any American ships carrying weapons to Israel?
Israel’s perpetual terrorism is a flagrant declaration of war against every country it had bombed. Israel, not Syria or any other Arab country, is the “destabilizing” factor of the Middle East. Israel’s latest terrorist attack on Syria could serve as the beginning of a far wider war to include Iran, driving the whole region into an inferno, whose flame would touch the whole world.
Dr. Elias Akleh
Dr. Elias Akleh
Dr. Elias Akleh is an Arab writer from a Palestinian descent born in the town of Beit Jala. His family was first evicted from Haifa after the “Nakba” of 1948, then from Beit Jala after the “Nakseh” of 1967. He lives now in the US, and publishes his articles on the web in both English and Arabic.
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After Syria, Sedition in Iraq - III

Sadeq Khanafer, Hussein Mallah

Iraq, Qatar, KSA, TurkeyAfter elaborating the importance and the role of Iraq in part one of this report, and the foreign role in igniting the crisis in favor of its enterprises in the entire region in part two; in this third and last part of the "After Syria, Sedition in Iraq", we will shed the light on the current turmoil influence in the Western Iraqi governorates, as well as the ways to confront them on both the popular and official levels.

There is no doubt that the ongoing movements in West and central Iraq neither occurred by chance, nor as a reaction to arresting the body guards of Iraqi Finance Minister Rafe Al-Issawi, because his provocative tone in response to his body guards' prosecution implied that some foreign and local sides are escalating unrest.

Demands or Accountability?
Iraqi political analyst: Abou Haytham al-JawaheriAccording to the Iraqi Political Analyst Abu Maytham Al-Jawaheri, "the region and the entire world are involved in a cold world war practiced through Syria, Iraq and other countries. The goal is to destabilize Iraq to be a side in this war or a player controlled by others."

"A conspiracy, led by Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, in coordination with Israel and the United States, is plotted to create a new axis that counters the anti-US presence axis in the region, represented by Iran.

However, the ongoing events in Iraq are to exert pressure attempting to drag the Arab country to the western-Gulf axis, although Iraq doesn't consider itself a part of either of the axes," Jawaheri told Al-Manar website.

Moreover, Jawaheri considered that "the participant countries in this conspiracy made interest of some Kurds who want to steal the Iraqi resources in their region, and a quarter of the resources found in the other Iraqi regions.

“They want to create a state regardless of the Iraqi presence. They want to exploit the Iraqi politicians, including the Baathists and AL-Qaeda, and make interest of the sectarian environment, and some of them want a divided Iraq."

“The main task of some of them is to increase and provoke sectarianism," he added.
Iraqi political analyst: Abas MoussawiFor his part, the Iraqi Political Analyst, Abbas Al-Moussawi, assured this view to Al-Manar website. "Al-Anbar protests weren't normal reactions, everybody knows that the issue is a legal one, and that the Iraqi judiciary system issued this memorandum," he said.
"But Al-Issawi's press conference ignited sectarianism and urged some extremists to utilize this card, in which they think that a Sunni or Salafist spring will spread in Iraq," he added, considering that the protesters' demands are unclear, dispersed, and contradicted.
“Some are sectarian, others are non-merchandise and legislative,” he stated.

"Only one demand would weaken those movements among which is solving Al-Issawi's body guards' case and issuing a governmental decision to stop chasing them, and set them free, which is an illegal step," he said. "The government is not intending to settle this case because it is totally judicial."

Kurd fightersDangers of the Crisis
The recent crisis, preceding the unrest between the central government and Iraqi Kurdistan, has left negative effects on Iraq, which had already gaps on several levels. The most distinguished is the security instability and random explosions. Al-Anbar protests worsened the situation after the organizers ignited sectarianism and called for division.

In this context, the Expert in Turkish Affairs, Mohammad Noureddine, stated to Al-Manar website that "a serious game is taking place in the region. In case western and Arab attempts wouldn’t topple the regime in Syria, a riot in Iraq will be sought, which might lead to the partition and exclude it from the equation."

For his part, Amir Moussawi, the director of Center of Strategic Studies and International Relations in Tehran, asserted to our website that "the problem is they tried to impose blockade on Syria. They acted in North Lebanon after they lost hope to make a change in the Syrian situation, almost two years following the military, tangible and media support to the armed groups, as well as regional and international decisions, that all gave up before the Syrian will. Everything became hard for them to tackle."

Iranian expert Amir Moussawi"Because their goal is to find a problem, and their demand is to keep the de-facto of unrest, they don't want to reach a solution; especially that some issues require a constitutional amendment, which, in turn, requires a referendum," said Al-Jawaheri.
Thus, we can sum up the most significant risks Iraq is facing regarding the ongoing events as follows:

1- Increasing gaps between the Iraqi population by Ethnic and sectarian incitement
2- Projects of partition sought by the West
3- Weakening the central government
4- Reviving the mobile bloody explosions (which have already been revived)
5- Eliminating the Iraqi political experience
6- Affecting the attempts to develop the economic and social situation (oil resources)

Iraq, Qatar, KSA, TurkeyDisease and Cure

Although the horizon is unclear, questions about whether the Iraqis will be able to end this trouble are increasingly posed, and what cards has the government in order to fix the situation?

Al-Jawaheri told Al-Manar Website that “the Iraqi government is aware enough of this conspiracy. It was able to do so through its positive cooperation with the demands of protesters, as well as releasing hundreds of prisoners, and discussing Article 4 (Terrorism), accountancy and justice.”

“There are many committees working on how to stop oppression. The national protesters are open-minded and they are aware that the government is serious and honest in this proposal. They are also aware that their motive force is dishonest and doesn't want to solve the problem. Rather, it is wanted to be kept ignited in order to achieve its goals and the demands of the regional countries it is working for," he added.

For his part, Amir Moussawi said that "the difference between the government and the opposition is somehow being represented in the political confrontation, from which both parties cannot retreat easily because of two reasons:

- Illegal demands of some opposition groups
- Foreign and regional interventions

Iraq: old flag and rebelsThe Iranian expert mentioned that "some demands are reasonable and logical, which the government can deal with and must understand. Other demands are inapplicable because they are out of the government's authorizations.”

“The parliament must decide about the laws which some opposition groups and politicians are demanding to abolish."

"The article that opposes terrorism couldn't be cancelled by a political decision. If some obstacles in its implication exist, it may be amended. As for its annulment, it means granting terrorists the opportunity to freely kill, kidnap and assassinate without accountability. In this case, the public right of the Iraqi people will be insulted. The nation and the blood of martyrs will be betrayed. All those demands don't represent but a sort of bidding, which cannot be easily solved," the Moussawi added.

Moussawi believed however, that the local solution lies in “forming a high national committee that communicates, sets up a base for national dialogue and deals with the Iraqi problem in general, because what exists in Al-Anbar also exists in other regions. The committee also should find a main solution for the services as well, and make decisive decisions to solve the economic problems."

Turkish PM Recep Tayyeb Erdogan (L), Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki (R)"Everything is treatable except sectarianism. Sedition must be ignored. The silent Iraqi majority won't remain silent in front of those aiming at destroying the country. Rather, they will move to firmly to confrontation when the issue reaches the red line," Moussawi added.
Because popular movements in Iraq cannot be listed under the so-called Arab Spring, regarding the sectarian sensitivity all over the Iraqi lands; perhaps the most stable element Al-Maliki's government can hold to, in order to stop those movements, is to make it clear that the demands are not only related to the livelihood, but they also have foreign extensions.

Hence, according to the Strategic Expert Habib Fayyad, the more they pressure Al-Maliki's government, the more directions he will have to move toward:
1st: More support for the Syrian regime to boost its endurance and strengthen relations with Iran and Jordan

2nd: More pressure against the Turkish government on the Kurdish level (Iraq has canceled many agreements with Ankara and forbade its planes to pass through its airspace)

It doesn't seem that regional and western intervention will make changes in Iraq, or cause it to hold back its position from both the relation with Iran and the Syrian crisis. This is because the post-US Iraq has settled its options on the basis of well-neighboring all sides. Since dialogue is the most powerful way to settle problems, hopes are set over quick solution, never surrendering to the foreign schemes that aim at dragging Iraqis into sectarian fight, in which they will be the first victims, just like what is happening with their Syrian neighbors.

After Syria, Sedition in Iraq - I
After Syria, Sedition in Iraq – II
Translated by Zeinab Abdallah
Source: Al-Manar Website
08-02-2013 - 18:48 Last updated 08-02-2013 - 18:48
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“A reasonable assumption, I repeat a reasonable assumption..."


More than 'Reasonable assumption!'
So, there you have it! 'Reasonable Assumption'!
"...Bulgarian officials, wary about jumping to conclusions and concerned about alienating European Union allies, needed more proof before they would determine that the attack had been the work of Hezbollah.Indeed, Mr. Tsvetanov chose his words carefully on Tuesday, leaving room for uncertainty. “A reasonable assumption, I repeat a reasonable assumption, can be made that the two of them were members of the militant wing of Hezbollah,” he said. ..."

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"Is Turkey’s priority to stop the bloodshed in Syria or to see Assad go no matter what?"


"...Regardless of whatever support Ankara might offer Sharaa, it is contingent on isolating Assad and seeing him step down. As matters stand, however, any dialogue with Sharaa at this point will amount to talking to the regime, as Assad will definitely be the one pulling the strings as a condition for agreeing to the talks.In another development unlikely to please Erdogan and Davutoglu, Washington is also backing Khatib. "If the regime has any interest in peace, it should sit down and talk now with the Syrian Opposition Coalition, and we would strongly support al-Khatib in that call," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said when questioned about Khatib’s remarks.
Nuland also emphasized that those on both sides who have committed atrocities should be held to account, thus intimating that opposition forces have also committed atrocities, an approach that could not have gone down well in Ankara.
Meanwhile, Erdogan continues to rail at the West for its inaction over Syria, which he contrasts with the intervention in Mali, suggesting simplistically that the African intervention is a neocolonialist resource grab, while the lack of intervention in Syria is because it has no oil.
Erdogan conveniently overlooks the fact that regional Islamic powers, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, also have not displayed an appetite for military involvement in Syria. His remarks indicate that he is principally addressing a domestic audience, where his moralizing on such topics is usually well received among grassroots supporters.
Thus Erdogan also overlooks the Security Council resolution on Mali and that the French intervention has widespread international support, including that of Russia and African countries, including an Islamic country, Algeria, whose painful history Erdogan always mentions when bashing France.
Erdogan ignores the reality that the Syrian crisis is not merely an ethical issue anymore, but one of regional and international power politics, with two blocs supporting opposing sides. This means that any military intervention by a group of countries without a UN resolution is bound to have a destabilizing effect in the Middle East given that another group of countries will support the other side, thus laying the ground for future stalemate.
Meanwhile Israel’s recent air strike against Syria, which the Israeli government is refusing to acknowledge or deny, Davutoglu suggested, bizarrely, that there might be a secret accord between Assad and Israel. He also vowed that Turkey would not sit and watch as Israel attacked a Muslim country.
These words were taken by many analysts as meaningless bombast reflecting Ankara's frustration over its inability to influence events in Syria.
That frustration will inevitably grow now that Khatib has entered into a dialogue with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, both of whom have been urging the opposition to talk to Assad. Judging by Khatib’s latest remarks, Lavrov and Salehi may be making progress.
Prior to the recent security conference in Munich, where Lavrov met with Khatib, Lavrov had been adamant in stating, "The persistence of those who say that priority number one is the removal of Assad is the single biggest reason for the continuing tragedy in Syria."
Ankara, clearly a target of this remark, could have responded by pointing to Russian political and military support for Assad as prolonging the bloodshed. This, however, would not have altered the fact that regional and global powers are competing over Syria, a situation that Turkey has no power to influence, while innocent people continue to die.
This begs a crucial question that Erdogan and Davutoglu will have to eventually answer: Is Turkey’s priority to stop the bloodshed in Syria or to see Assad go no matter what? If it is the latter, this can hardly be considered ethical — despite all the moralizing from Ankara — given the innocent people being killed...."

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Egypt's Nusra Party: Sexual Assault as a Political Weapon

Egyptians opposing President Mohamed Mursi hold an effigy mocking him in Tahrir square in Cairo 8 February 2013. (Photo: Reuters - Mohamed Abd El Ghany)
Published Friday, February 8, 2013
Cairo In the wake of the revolution, Egyptian women remain as vulnerable as ever to the types of attacks they faced under the Mubarak regime. They cannot raise their voices in protest without putting their bodies at risk of molestation; it’s a bid to break their will, to deter them from resisting alongside men.

Many women have spoken out about the sexual assaults they endured during last week’s protests in Cairo. Among the most harrowing accounts was that of an activist who, while withholding her name, courageously described her ordeal in detail.

The young woman had gone to Tahrir Square to demonstrate against the actions of the governing Muslim Brotherhood. When she saw a group of men harassing a friend of hers, she tried to intervene to protect her.

“Along with a male friend, I tried to rescue her. They pushed us both away, so we fell on top of each other. Then they separated us and formed a circled around each of us. I wasn’t aware of anything after that. I was only aware of the hundreds of hands tearing off my clothes and groping my body in the most brutal way.

“The ones closest to me were raping me with their fingers in front and behind. One of them was even kissing my mouth. I was stripped completely naked. The more I tried to scream or defend myself the more violent they became.”

She heard agreement after one said, “Let’s take her away, boys, and then we can take turns.” She was spared that further horror when, after repeated pleas, one of the harassers pushed the others away.

Mohammad Taymour, coordinator of the “No To Harassment!” campaign, pointed out that the methods used by the groups of assailants in the recent Tahrir Square attacks were identical, indicating that they were coordinated, not spontaneous.

They are carried out by hired gangs, just like the ones the [former ruling] National Democratic Party used,” said Mohammad Awwad, a leader of the Popular Current movement. “Now they are being used to terrorize demonstrators in the square.”

Why in Tahrir Square especially?

“Sexual harassment is used as a weapon to squash demonstrations and stigmatize certain places,” said Janet Abdul-Alim, coordinator of Fouada Watch, a group that campaigns on women’s issues.

“We have become accustomed to this phenomenon since Mubarak’s time when they used troops from Central Security. Under the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, it took the form of virginity tests and dragging women in the streets. It has become worse than ever under President Mursi. It has reached the extent of all-out rape,” she said.

“In all cases, the group that targets the woman has one objective: to break the hymen. The aim of this violence is not to harass the woman but to teach her a lesson. It is to associate demonstrating and going to Tahrir Square with shame, so as to stigmatize it, and frighten other women from going there.”

These savage methods seem unlikely to succeed in preventing Egyptian women from taking part in demonstrations. Thousands joined a women’s march to Tahrir Square on Wednesday, 6 February 2013, to protest both sexual harassment and the Muslim Brotherhood.

They held portraits of female Egyptian icons, such as the legendary singer Umm Kalthoum and the pioneering feminist Huda al-Shaarawi, who shed the veil around a century ago. The women chanted in support of upholding women’s rights and their role in the revolution. But they needed the protection of men, who lined up as human shields on either side the marchers to protect them from harassment gangs.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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Moaz Al-Khatib: New Regime in Syria Won’t be Foe to Israel

Head of Doha Coalition Moaz al-Khatib told the Israeli Newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth that “the new regime in Syria” will not be a foe to ‘Israel’ and will not attack it, SANA news agency reported.
Al-Khatib added that "Israel shouldn't be worried over the issue of the chemical weapons as the opposition coalition will possess the regime's stockpiles of weapons, including the chemical and prevent them from falling in to Hezbollah's hands."

He said that the coalition has a plan to impose control over the strategic weapons in Syria in case the regime falls.

He described Hezbollah as "sons of devil", adding that "We'll spare no effort to prevent any military or chemical weapons passing to it. We realize that this topic is of major concern to Israel and we are cooperating with international sides to help us in this regard."

He confessed to having received information from the US, French and German intelligence on the Syrian army and its bases and movements.

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EU shifts NATO’s burden to US “shoulders”

Not before time, personally I really object to any of my taxes going towards paying for this outfit. Originally intended as a mutual defence organisation, it has now become just an extension of U.S. military aggression in their search for world hegemony. It needs to be totally disbanded

Not a long ago US Vice President Joe Biden reproached the countries of the EU of unacceptable cutbacks of military spending. The EU leaders tried to justify this strategy by having own vision of the defense policy but in fact Europeans simply don’t see against whom they should get armed, experts say.

According to the 2012 NATO political report, the US accounted for 72% of NATO spending %. The authors of the report stressed that Britain, Germany, Italy and France were consistently cutting their spending on defense which doubts the capability of the European allies to act without the US’ assistance.
NATO Chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen repeatedly voices US concerns regarding this trend. Earlier this month, he came up with a new fresh example of the “destructive” consequences of the European thriftiness. He touched upon the preparation and the early stage of the French operation in Mali saying that the planes which were to deliver French troops to Mali had been collected one by one across the whole Europe. He said that without the US transportation aircraft, flying tankers and air reconnaissance it would be very hard for the French troops in Mali.
The EU’s main diplomat Catherine Ashton and Germany’s Defense Minister Tomas de Messier tried to find excuses for the whole EU. They said that the defesne and security policy of the united Europe was not rested on the direct use of military force.
In reality, when criticizing Europeans Americans are using the tactics of ruling from “behind the stage” and trying to make their allies accomplish at least relatively small military goals in the area around Europe.
Judging from the point of view of the military alliance the US reproaches look quite objective, Igor Korotchenko, chief editor of the National Defense journal, says. But Europe does not really want to get heavily armed against an abstract enemy:
"Russia’s enemy image and the deployment of the Russian armed forces in the west of the country makes it clear that we are not planning any global offensive to the West. I would describe the tactics of the European governments as a reasonable rationalism."
"The last several years saw significant cutbacks in spending of the European armies," Korotchenko says. "For example, many NATO countries have almost cancelled tanks. In the Netherlands the process of reduction armored vehicles is under way at a fantastic speed."
At the same time Europe often raises the issue of forming its won armed forces. When commenting the above mentioned 2012 NATO report in Brussels Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorsky said that Europe needed an efficient united army as never before.
"In terms of defense Europe feels quite comfortable under NATO’s nuclear umbrella and soon it will feel even more comfortable under the US shield," Ivan Konovalov head of the Center of Strategic Studies said. "But at the same time many European politicians find the idea of having a united European army very attractive."
"All the European parliaments regularly discus the creation of the single European military contingent. The problem is - who is going to pay for it? If France and Germany take the responsibility again it will be a very serious financial burden for them because it is clear that other countries will be ready only to provide their servicemen and equipment. That why no single European contingent will be created until the financial issue is not solved."
A lot experts believe that the US is tired of such a burden and in the near future it will try to ensure its geopolitical interests by using the military potential of its old and new allies.
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To Nuland-KAGAN: "Are you saying that the Syrian military doesn’t have a right to defend itself?"


"MS. NULAND: Yeah. Can I just, before we leave Syria, just call attention to reports that we’re getting about intense clashes over the last two days in the Damascus neighborhoods of Hajar al-Aswad, Jobar, Zamalka? In response to an offensive launched by the armed opposition, we understand that the regime has once again resorted to indiscriminately shelling unarmed civilians who – including those who are not active participants in the hostilities. So we again condemn the regime’s indiscriminate aerial bombing of civilian areas. This violates every tenet of international law, and we call for the perpetrators to be held accountable.
QUESTION: Okay. Wait a second. So on that, you would not have a problem if they were just going after the rebels who were attacking them?
MS. NULAND: Well, obviously you know where we are, which is to lay the preponderance of the blame for the violence in Syria and the violence in Damascus at the feet of the Assad regime. So we --
QUESTION: But you said that they were – that these attacks came in response to an offensive by the armed opposition.
MS. NULAND: I did, and --
QUESTION: So you’re not – are you saying that the Syrian military doesn’t have a right to defend itself, or are you saying that they don’t have --
MS. NULAND: I’m saying that they should not --"

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Two Syrian tokens of fulfilment

Portrait of a Syria lady putting a Syrian soldier shoes on her head with red roses
inside the shoe as a token of the fulfillment of this army,
A token of the fulfillment of Abdullah Gul

The source explained that the journalist who  tried to throw his shoes toward Abdullah Gul is a Syrian national who was born in Istanbul and works Syrian Revolution newspaper.


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Egypt Cleric Advocates Death for Dissidents

An Egyptian anti-government protester walks past a banner readind "Resist" during a demonstration outside the Egyptian high court in the Egyptian capital Cairo to protest against the death of protesters during last week's demonstrations against Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood on 7 February 2013. (Photo: AFP - Gianluigi Guercia)
Published Friday, February 8, 2013
The week preceding the assassination of Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid on 6 February 2013, a hardline Egyptian Salafi cleric proclaimed it permissible to kill the opponents of the president.
Many see the cleric’s fatwa as a possible prelude to assassinations carried out by Islamists against the president’s opponents.

Salafi preacher Mahmoud Shaaban appeared on the Egyptian religious channel al-Hafez citing a number of hadiths, or sayings by the Prophet Mohammad, to call for the execution of those who spread chaos and instigate subversion.

In a widely-shared clip, Shaaban claimed that the main opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front (NSF), was seeking to burn the whole country. He mentioned by name Hamdeen Sabahi, founder of the Popular Current movement, and Mohammed Baradei, founder of the Constitution Party.
A long discussion ensued between the preacher and the program host of “Fil-Mizan,” meaning “In the Balance,” over who should carry out the fatwa – the government or ordinary citizens.
Following the uproar caused by those remarks, Shaaban denied issuing a fatwa calling for the elimination of dissidents. The cleric claimed that the clip had been “spliced and manipulated” by unknown parties seeking to tarnish the image of Islamists.
However, the Salafi preacher confirmed that he had said that it is the right of the ruler to kill opposition figures that contest his authority.

Shaaban's repudiation only added insult to injury. This prompted al-Azhar's Islamic Research Academy to issue a statement rejecting what it described as a “misinterpretation and abuse of religious texts.”
The academy said that “murderers and instigators of murder are equally guilty of the sin and receive the same share of punishment in this world and the hereafter.”
Egypt’s interior minister posted a security detail at Mohammed Baradei’s home, while sources close to Sabahi said that he refused protection because “he is an ordinary citizen and does not need it.”
In turn, Prime Minister Hisham Qandil rejected such extremist edicts. He said in a statement that the cabinet would take necessary legal action against anyone who issues fatwas inciting violence against opponents.
Meanwhile, Prosecutor General Talaat Ibrahim ordered an investigation into Shaaban after a lawyer filed a complaint accusing the Salafi cleric of inciting violence.
For its part, the NSF issued a statement mourning Chokri Belaid, and said that his assassination “raises alarm bells from Tunis all the way to Cairo.” The opposition coalition also stressed that “handing out death fatwas against [opposition] Egypt and Tunisia shall stop the march of the revolution.”
Assassinations or Street Violence?
In recent days, there have been several killings in Egypt, including administrators of anti-Islamist and Muslim Brotherhood websites. Do such incidents portend that Egypt is only a small step away from systematic assassinations of dissidents?
Khaled Abdul-Hamid, member of the Socialist Popular Alliance (SPA), said that he doubted that the administrators had been targeted specifically. Abdul-Hamid then proclaimed that the assassination of Belaid “will not intimidate us here in Egypt.”
This was echoed by Hussam Hindi, a journalist who has often reported on protests in the country, both before and after the uprising.
Hindi believes that there is a difference between Tunisia and Egypt, and said that those who have been killed in Egypt were not deliberately targeted, but instead died during clashes and protests.
“The regimes in Egypt and Tunisia are oppressive, but the Muslim Brotherhood would not carry out assassinations themselves. However, they might use Salafi groups for that purpose.” Still, these groups “do not assign any importance to young activists, and would rather focus on public figures.”
Essam Shaaban, member of the Egyptian Communist Party’s central committee, predicted that there would be a confrontation with right-wing religious parties, especially “if the regime continues the same failed policies, because they will have nothing other than oppression and coercion to silence Egyptians.”
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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Israel Enters The Syrian Theater: Confronting Iran via the Third Option

With its air strikes against targets inside Syria last week, Israel announced its formal entry into the Syrian crisis. The Israeli targeting of Iran has thus entered the Syrian theater.

According to McClatchy, the Israeli strikes on January 30 targeted anti-aircraft missiles at a military base outside of Damascus. The missiles, according to Israeli intelligence sources, were headed for Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“Israel relies heavily on the strength of our air force, and its strategic deterrence,” an Israeli official explained to McClatchy. “Weapons systems that make our air force vulnerable will not be allowed to fall into the hands of terrorist groups.”

Accordingly, Washington reacted to the Israeli assault by sternly warning Damascus. “Syria,” White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes warned, “should not further destabilize the region by transferring weaponry to Hezbollah.”

Washington, in other words, views any effort to curb Israel’s freedom to fly sorties when and where it fancies as a threat to regional stability. Of course, “stability” in the Washington lexicon is used to connote unmatched Western military superiority. (Thus, NATO Patriot batteries deployed along the Turkey-Syria border are championed as a means to “deescalate tensions.”)

With such “stability” in mind, Time reports that Washington has given a “green light” to Israel to carry out yet further strikes. And blessed with such carte blanche, Israel is already planning an escalated level of intervention.

According to a report in the Times of London, “Israel is considering creating a buffer zone reaching up to 10 miles inside Syria.” And to this end, Israel has now reportedly dispatched its third Iron Dome anti-rocket battery to its northern border. As an Israeli military planner went on to tell the Times, “If the country [Syria] remains unstable we might have to stay there for years.”

Meanwhile, the right-wing Debkafile reports that “the Israeli Air Force has in recent days thrown a round-the-clock blanket over the [Syria-Lebanon] border area.”

“Without going through any formalities,” Debka continues, “Israel has thus effectively imposed a no-fly regime over a buffer zone straddling the Syrian-Lebanese border and placed it under the control of its air force.”

The Israeli strike inside Syria was thus clearly not an isolated affair, but a prelude to a deepening Israeli intervention long in the making.

Confronting Iran via the Third Option

In a February 2012 New York Times op-ed, former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy argued that beyond punitive sanctions and military confrontation, the crisis in Syria created a third option “to rid the world of the Iranian menace.”
“Ensuring that Iran is evicted from its regional hub in Damascus would cut off Iran’s access to its proxies (Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza) and visibly dent its domestic and international prestige, possibly forcing a hemorrhaging regime in Tehran to suspend its nuclear policies,” Halevy argued. “This would be a safer and more rewarding option than the military one.”
“Once this is achieved,” Halevy continued, “the entire balance of forces in the region would undergo a sea change. Iranian-sponsored terrorism would be visibly contained; Hezbollah would lose its vital Syrian conduit to Iran and Lebanon could revert to long-forgotten normalcy; Hamas fighters in Gaza would have to contemplate a future without Iranian weaponry and training; and the Iranian people might once again rise up against the regime that has brought them such pain and suffering.”
Such notions of a “new Middle East” amenable to the interests of Tel Aviv and Washington have long held an allure for Western planners. In fact, nearly seven years have now passed since Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon was cheered by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as “the birth pangs of a new Middle East.”

It’s little surprise, then, that the dream of forging a new Middle East through the destruction of Syria has come to be championed by the U.S. neo-con crowd. But the hope of using the crisis in Syria to boot Iran from the Arab world more generally is widely shared. Indeed, the marginally more sober have begun to warm to the idea of intervention into Syria as a means to purge the “Iranian menace.”
“An inflection point has been reached,” the New York Times’ Roger Cohen argues in his latest column. “Inaction spurs the progressive radicalization of Syria, the further disintegration of the state, the intensification of Assad’s mass killings, and the chances of the conflict spilling out of Syria in sectarian mayhem. It squanders an opportunity to weaken Iran. This is not in the West’s interest.”
“It is time to alter the Syrian balance of power enough to give political compromise a chance and Assad no option but departure,” Cohen continues. “That means an aggressive program to train and arm the Free Syrian Army. It also means [Senator John] McCain’s call to use U.S. cruise missiles to destroy Assad’s aircraft on the runway is daily more persuasive.”
But it really doesn’t take much persuasion to convince U.S. elites it’s time to fire off another cruise missile. After all, “rocket and bomb diplomacy” has become American foreign policy orthodoxy.

Stoking the Inferno or Seeking an End Game?

American dreams of cruise missile justice notwithstanding, Israel’s entry into Syria indeed appears as an inflection point. But why, we must ask, did Tel Aviv chose now to insert itself into the crisis?

As Nicola Nasser notes, the Israeli raid “coincided with hard to refute indications that the ‘regime change’ in Syria by force, both by foreign military intervention and by internal armed rebellion, has failed, driving the Syrian opposition in exile to opt unwillingly for “negotiations” with the ruling regime.”

In fact, it was the very day the exiled Syrian opposition first hinted at an openness to dialogue that Israeli jets were sent to strafe the outskirts of Damascus. But then again, stoking the Syrian inferno is widely held in Tel Aviv as favorable to Israeli interests.

As former Israeli Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin explained on Monday, “The most significant army along our borders, the Syrian army, which is an advanced army with a very large arsenal of long-range missiles and rockets and with Russian-made air defenses that are among the most advanced in the world, is wearing itself down. Its operational capability to act against Israel declines every week that goes by.”

“This is a positive development both from the military aspect, but also from the political aspect,” Yadlin continued. “The radical anti-Israel axis that goes through Tehran, Damascus, Beirut, and Gaza is falling apart.”

Alon Liel, the former director general of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, offered much the same analysis in a weekend appearance on Al Jazeera English.

“For Israel,” Liel argued, “the weakening of Syria as a result of this war is of strategic importance because Syria is quite an enemy of Israel. And the internal battle is also removing the issue of withdrawing from the Golan Heights from the agenda.”

Whether Israel’s formal intervention into Syria is thus meant to fan the flames, or whether it is instead intended to hasten an end game, remains uncertain. At the moment, though, it certainly appears Tel Aviv is quite content with letting Syria burn.

But whatever the case may be, Israel’s ultimate aim is quite clear. As Halevy argued, “if Mr. Assad goes, Iranian hegemony over Syria must go with him. Anything less would rob Mr. Assad’s departure of any significance.”

Yet as planners in Tel Aviv and Washington seek to impart such significance, a growing Iranian foothold in the Arab world continues outside the purview of imperial diktats.

A Resilient Menace

The arrival of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in Cairo on Tuesday – the first Iranian leader to touch down in Cairo since the Islamic revolution in 1979 – offers just the latest evidence of Tehran’s growing regional stature. Cause, of course, for great distress in Washington.

“While the Egypt’s relations with Iran remains limited,” the New York Times noted “the scene on the tarmac at the Cairo Airport on Tuesday — Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi, greeting Mr. Ahmedinejad warmly in a red-carpet ceremony — would have been unimaginable under Mr. Mubarak, and seemed likely to alarm the Obama administration.”

Tuesday’s historic meeting in Cairo follows on the heels of Morsi’s visit to Tehran in August for the Sixteenth Summit of Non-Aligned Movement. At the time, Morsi was widely condemned in both Washington and Tel Aviv for, as Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote, taking such a “wrong turn.”

Morsi’s continued “wrong turn,” needless to say, bodes ill for those seeking to sever Tehran presence in Syria. For as Morsi declared Tuesday, “I believe that the Syrian problem could not be resolved without Iran and Iran’s efforts in this regard are prioritized.”

“We have no doubt that Iran is sincerely endeavoring to resolve the problems in Syria and other nations,” Morsi added, “Hence, we stress cooperation with Iran in this field.”

It appears expunging the “Iranian menace,” then, will require more than an Israeli triumph on a Syrian battlefield. For rather than being crippled, the menace appears ever more resilient. Hence the purported danger is said to remain acute.

Speaking with the Wall Street Journal, outgoing U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently accused Iran of “an intensified campaign to destabilize the Middle East.” And as a result, the Journal report continued, “the U.S. is stepping up efforts to counter the Iranian threat.”

Such efforts will no doubt come to dominate the itinerary of President Obama’s spring visit to Israel. As the New York Times reports, “on the agenda this trip will be Iran and the continuing strife in Syria that threatens to descend into a wider regional conflict.”

The prime minister and president have much to discuss; for though a new Middle East may indeed be on offer, the imperial vise is loosening ever so slightly. “Stability” is clearly threatened.

Ben Schreiner is a freelance writer based in Wisconsin. He may be reached at or via his website.

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