Saturday 2 August 2014

Hamas: The ‘moral’ terrorist group


On July 29, in an interview with UK Channel 4, former Israeli ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, called Gaza-ruling Islamic resistance: “a vicious, medieval, racist, genocidal organization”. One has to excuse Oren for his rubbish Talmudic belief.
The truth of the matter is Hamas has always successfully resisted world’s fourth most powerful and brutal army based on it moral superiority. While Washington and most of European capitals have designated Hamas as a “terrorist organization”, it has won the hearts of the public around the world by showing their condemnation of the Zionist entity through mass protests in almost every 193 world nation-states including the Zionist-occupied western nations.
It has been proven again and again, that when it comes to Israel’s interests, there is no “Left”. Last month, the US Senate voted unanimously to “defend Israel” against Hamas. The Senators who pledged their “moral loyalty” to a foreign state, included the “only senator belonging to the Left”, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Jewish).
Once isolated and with their backs against the wall, the Palestinians prevailed militarily, politically, strategically, diplomatically and most important, spiritually.  The reason? With your back to the wall and a gun to your face, it is pretty difficult to bend over,” says Israeli-born British author Gilad Atzmon.
On September 30, 2009, James Gundun, an investigative journalist and editor ofThe Trench, posted a warning to Barack Obama, saying that Israel cannot defeat Islamic resistance Hamas.
Herein lie President Obama’s choices. He can continue to let Israel act unilaterally and with impunity in the West Bank and Gaza – and risk a Third Intifada. He can continue to let Israel dominate the peace process and control who America negotiates with – and risk a Third Intifada. The path least headed towards a Third Intifada is objective handling of Israel and engagement with Hamas, ironic as that may seem to America. 2010 could catapult Hamas back into the West Bank and the peace process, at which point exclusion will no longer be possible,” wrote Gundun.
On August 1, 2014, investigative journalist, Alcibiades Bilzerian, posted an article, entitled Hamas May Be the Most Moral “Terrorist” in History. Personally, I would give that honor to Lebanese Islamic Resistance Hizbullah. Watch a video below.
One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. In the United States and European Union, the distinction between terrorist and freedom fighter depends on the amount of political donations your allies give. Israel lobbyists in America and Europe have provided hundreds of millions of dollars to ensure that Hamas is known to the world as a terrorist organization. Israel, on the other hand, is considered an upstanding member of the international community (contrary to all the facts of course). Instead of getting bogged down in an examination of Hamas’ historical fight to end  Israeli occupation,let’s compare the behavior of Hamas and the colonial apartheid regime of Israel during this latest war to determine which side is truly the terrorist organization,” Bilzarian said. Read the answers here.
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Why isn’t the Islamic State fighting Israel?

An image grab taken from a propaganda video released on July 5, 2014 by al-Furqan Media allegedly shows the leader of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aka Caliph Ibrahim, leaving the podium after addressing Muslim worshippers at a mosque in the militant-held northern Iraqi city of Mosul. (Photo: AFP-al-Furqan Medi)
Published Saturday, August 2, 2014
The relentless Israeli assault on Gaza has yet to stop. But even as the death toll has now surpassed 1,600, the Islamic State (IS) and its newly established “caliphate” has not moved a muscle, nor is it expected to do so anytime soon. So why is IS – formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – not fighting Israel? Would anything change if its fighters were to gain access to the borders with occupied Palestine?
While the Israeli military machine was massacring people in Gaza – and amid the euphoria among some jihadis over the news of the announcement of an “Islamic caliphate” – video footage of masked individuals firing rockets into Israel was posted online, and attributed to IS. Many cheered for what they saw as the “Muslim caliph’s” response to calls for succor from the people of Gaza, even believing the “caliphate” was very close to liberating Jerusalem. But the euphoria did not last very long.
The video turned out to be from an old footage dating back to 2012, recorded by the militant group known as the Mujahideen Shura Council, and was repurposed to be attributed to IS. IS-affiliated social media activists such as Turujman al-Asawirti were also quick to question the authenticity of the video attributed to their group.
Al-Akhbar had a number of questions for IS supporters from Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, including the following: Why has IS maintained its distance from the events in Palestine? Are the people of Gaza not Muslims after all? Does this posture not reinforce the premise that there is a hidden link between Zionism and Salafi-Jihadism that appeases Israel, or is geography alone to blame for their inaction?
In a speech by IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, after he installed himself as caliph of the Muslims, he spoke about the terror inflicted on Palestine, but he did so only in passing, in the wider context of the terror Muslims face around the world.

Before him, in the time of the late leader of al-Qaeda Osama bin Laden, the jihadi attitude on Palestine was also controversial. Why have the jihadis never declared Palestine an arena for their jihad?
In effect, the leader of global jihadism Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri had an interesting position, approaching the issue from the angle of priorities on the basis of “Dar al-Kufr and Dar al-Islam,” or the abode of disbelief and the abode of belief in jihadi lore. Zawahiri argues that fighting in Palestine should be on the basis that it is an abode of Islam, and that therefore, liberating it is a duty for every Muslim, as stated in his speech “truths about the conflict between Islam and infidelity” in 2007. But despite this, Palestine remains at the bottom of the list of priorities for most jihadis.
In form, most adherents of Salafi-Jihadism believe that “Shias are more dangerous than Jews.” In substance, they believe that liberating Palestine is irrelevant without the establishment of the caliphate in the countries surrounding Palestine first.
Sources linked to IS told Al-Akhbar, “The final war that will liberate Palestine will be led by the caliphate, preceded by the establishment of this state in the Levant and Iraq,” on the basis of sayings they attribute to Prophet Mohammad. The sources add, “Allah alone knows just how much the soldiers of the caliphate yearn for skipping the necessary stages and battle the Jews in Palestine, but he who rushes something before its time comes shall be punished by being denied it.”
The sources, who are based in the Raqqa province of Syria, enumerate these necessary stages, saying, “The priority is to liberate Baghdad, then head to Damascus and liberate all of the Levant, before liberating Palestine.”
This is the principle that IS soldiers follow: “Fighting nearby apostates is more important than fighting faraway infidels.” To justify this, they rely on the Wars of Apostasy initiated by the Caliph Abu Bakr (against Muslims who renounced their religion following the death of the Prophet), who made it a priority over fighting infidels and Muslim conquests.
According to IS fighters, the adherents of all Islamic sects who do not submit to their “caliph” are either “apostates or misguided folk, who should be fought and killed, forced to repent and let themselves be guided, or be liberated from apostate rule.” A jihadi adds here, “We the followers of this path follow sharia not the whims of men,” adding that the Prophet had fought Quraysh first before moving on to fight the Jews of Banu Qurayza.
These sharia-based arguments are “reinforced” by the reality on the ground. A jihadi argues, “No one can initiate a battle against Israel except through the [direct] borders.” The jihadi then adds sarcastically, “Certainly, the mujahideen will not be able to bomb Israel by air,” before he said, “IS is still far from Israel. If it reaches Jordan and southern Syria (the Golan and Quneitra), then things would be different.”
The jihadis base their vision on their perception that “Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan all collaborate with Israel,” and argue that any attack they initiate would be stopped by what they call the “idolatry” regimes in the name of security. A jihadi opines, “Since the countries adjacent to Israel do not fire a single bullet at it, this means they do not want a confrontation with Israel. Any attempt to use their territories to target Israel means automatically a confrontation with these regimes. Therefore, we must first purge these countries to get to Israel.”
The IS-affiliated jihadis conclude that “the enmity the Arab countries and Arab groups have with Israel are in words not deeds, that is, only in politics and slogans. As long as this is the case, any group that wants to operate will confront these regimes.” As proof of their point, the jihadis give the example of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades’ operations out of South Lebanon, and the subsequent crackdown on the group’s members after they fired rockets into Israel. For this reason, these jihadis believe that the priority is for their “state” to expand gradually, and that everything else is meaningless and illogical.
With regards to suicide operations, the jihadis said, “This is on the table, but the time for it has not yet come."
Follow Radwan Mortada on Twitter | @radwanmortada
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


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Understanding Israel’s War as Racist Is Crucial to Ending Occupation

The nearly month-long attack by Israeli forces on Gaza has revealed that anti-Arab racism permeates many levels of Israeli society. Indeed, to acknowledge Palestinians as humans worthy of a state, a home and basic necessities such as medical care, electricity, food and water, would undermine the brutality of Operation Protective Edge.
View image on TwitterRacism among the Israeli population is either stronger than ever, or simply more visible today thanks to social media and the proliferation of online means of expression.
Some Israelis are openly thrilled that Gaza is being leveled. A Danish reporter came upon a cheery group of people who gathered outdoors in the southern Israeli town of Sderot with folding chairs and popcorn to watch the air war, clapping each time a bomb dropped on Gaza. Other Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv to celebrate the killing of Gaza’s children. 
They were videotaped singing a song whose words included, “In Gaza there’s no studying; No children are left there,” and calling for violence against two of the Israeli Knesset’s Arab members.
They’ll take their papers away.
They’ll take their papers away.
They’ll take their papers away.
Olé, olé, olé-olé-olé
In Gaza there’s no studying
No children are left there,
Olé, olé, olé-olé-olé,
Gaza is a graveyard
Gaza is a graveyard
Gaza is a graveyard
Gaza is a graveyard
The verbal vitriol is also flowing strongly. Early on in Israel’s operation, writer David Sheen compiled a list of what he called “Terrifying Tweets of Pre-Army Israeli Teens,” which included such gems as “Death to these fucking Arabs” and “We wage war so this will be our land without any Arabs.”
But the racism has gone beyond mere celebrations of war and death. While the horrific revenge killing of 15-year-old Mohammad Abu Khdeir is being dismissed as an extremist act, and the police beating of his cousin Tariq Abu Khdeir is being “investigated,” more attacks have followed with little U.S. media attention. For example, Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz noted that “two Palestinian youths were reportedly assaulted by a Jewish mob in Jerusalem.”
Professor David Shulman, who teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, went further, writing in a July 12 column that “Israel has witnessed a wave of racist hatred on a scale perhaps not known before.” Shulman also cited the advent of “Israeli lynch gangs prowling the streets of downtown Jerusalem … and organized Fascist groups attacking any Palestinians unlucky enough to be going home late at night, after work.”
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‘If anybody is more guilty of Gaza genocide than the Israelis, it is the Americans’
Israel gets signals from the US that it can do whatever it wants, so Tel-Aviv keeps refurbishing its weapons so that it could kill more Gazans, independent researcher and writer Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich told RT.
RT:What are the chances that the ceasefire will hold?
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich: It seems that we are having incremental ceasefires for an incremental genocide. One has to understand the thinking that is behind all this as much as one does regret a single death; I do not care on which side. It is against the Zionist ideology to have a truce as Yitzhak Shamir said in 1997. So to think that they will give up the notion of taking over the whole of the land which they consider the Greater Israel – it is just not going to happen. What happens is we keep having these little ceasefires and then again the killings start anew. It also gives room to Israel to breath because international public opinion has turned against them, it now gives a kind of sense of credibility that they are really going to step back and allow you to take away the dead while they still continue to do destroy the tunnels which are the life saver for the Gazans, and at the same time come back and bomb what is left of you. It is really a travesty of justice and it is in violation of every human rights law and international law. I am just amazed at the UN for not calling it as it is which is genocide, if you look at the convention for prevention of genocide and punishment, and specifically in the Article 2. Everything that is happening in Gaza indicates it is genocide, and Mr. Ban Ki Moon’s predecessor Kofi Annan in 2004 addressed the UN Commission of Human Rights and he said part of his biggest regrets was that he did not stop the Rwanda genocide and the warning signs were there.
RT: The Israelis and Palestinians are set to hold negotiations in Egypt. Washington is also sending a delegation to Cairo. Do you think we can expect the U.S. to increase pressure on its ally?
SS: Frankly, I don’t think the US will ever increase pressure on Israel, but I have to point out that Egypt is not an honest broker and it is the last place you would want to have these negotiations in. If I were a Palestinian I would object to it. You have to understand that General Al-Sisi was held as a hero to all Jews. Do you think he will be an honest broker, especially since about three-four months ago the Israelis and the Egyptians signed an agreement whereby the gas has been stolen from the Palestinians, Israel was sending it through Egypt to a liquification plant and Egypt will benefit from this, and gas will be exported all over the world including Europe. To think for a moment that there is any good that will come out of the Egyptians brokering the so-called truce is being very naïve. I think that either Hamas is being played or maybe they too are buying time. Again, all other truces will not go anywhere unless any political solution is found and that political solution will only happen if the blockade is lifted, if the Gazans and Palestinians are allowed to live in peace. They are the ones who have been occupied and we cannot lose trace of this fact – they are leaving under occupation.
A Palestinian woman carries her belongings from her destroyed house in the Shejaia neighborhood, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during an Israeli offensive, in the east of Gaza City August 1, 2014. (Reuters/Mohammed Salem)
A Palestinian woman carries her belongings from her destroyed house in the Shejaia neighborhood, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during an Israeli offensive, in the east of Gaza City August 1, 2014. (Reuters/Mohammed Salem)
RT: As one of the conditions to a permanent truce, Hamas demands that Israel lift the blockade of Gaza. Israel calls this a non-starter. What solution do you see here?
SS: There is not a solution. There is no real solution until an international community, not US allies, but the global community, makes demands on Israel. And they are doing that, they are speaking out. But to think that the blockade will not be lifted – this is a crime. I do not particularly like Hamas but I do stand with them firmly on this.
RT: Does the responsibility for the situation fully lie on Israel?
SS: The day the ground invasion of Gaza started was the day that the Malaysian plane was shot down in eastern Ukraine. I think as analyst we need to sit and connect all these links. And in fact Russians in January offered to develop the gas fields for Gaza. At the time of the 2009 assault on Gaza the British offered to develop the gas for the Gazans and the Israelis said “we will never buy gas from them.” They attacked and took over everything again. So this is not more about land, about water, about power and it will not go anywhere until Israel has stopped. In 1947 Israel killed a representative of the UN Bernadotte, and it told the world that it wouldn’t have limits. In 1967 it killed American crew members of the USS Liberty, the American government covered it up. This also signals to Israel that “you can do whatever you want and we’ll have you back.” And they do. They are refurbishing their weapons so that they could kill more Gazans. If anybody here is more guilty than the Israelis, it is the Americans. It is America that is responsible for what is happening 100 percent. We cannot just point finger at Israel. Nothing will be stopped until America stops its support.
RT: What should the US do then?
SS: If America wanted the negotiations to go anywhere, instead of condemning what’s happening which is massacring children America would say “I will stop all aid to you until you can to the table, until you negotiate.” America is not saying that, it is sending more weapons.
Egypt is not honest in all this, Egypt has a lot to gain aligning itself with Israel, which it has done. Saudi Arabia is supporting this regime in Egypt that is not on the side of the Palestinians, they are in fact siding with Israel. You can go and negotiate with people if there is something to be negotiated, if you trust in their honesty and good will of the persons that are at the negotiating table. Egypt is not, United States is not. The US government is beholden to Israel.
A Palestinian girl carries a child across rubble from a building that police said was destroyed by an Israeli air strike, in the Burij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip August 1, 2014. (Reuters/Finbarr O'Reilly)
A Palestinian girl carries a child across rubble from a building that police said was destroyed by an Israeli air strike, in the Burij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip August 1, 2014. (Reuters/Finbarr O’Reilly)
You look around and it is just shocking that in America a Jewish woman was arrested for reading out the names of children that were killed in Gaza by Israel. This is the country that is promoting itself as promoting democracy and human rights. The fault lies here and America needs to change its course in order for Israel to change course. Otherwise we will be having this conversation 3 weeks from now, 3 months from now, 3 years from now. It’s just a slow death for the Palestinians. We have this truce in place, we have these peace talks and then there is need for more settlements and then something comes out and it is just all over again.
The world has become so desensitized because it’s not new. They are so used to this going on, that they disregard it and look the other way at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Hamas as a terrorist, but they really have lost interest in wanting to save human lives and this blows in the face of all international laws. If there are no laws in this world that we need to abide by at the international arena, then why should we have laws at home. If there is somebody coming and killing me, well… there are no laws.
I think this matter is far more serious than we give it credit. It is a news item, but it’s [also] a humanitarian item, it’s all about humanity and it really needs to be. It will either be resolved with half of the global community, people that are speaking out and Israel will be stopped or else they will not be stopping it, it will be too late.
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This is what a Gen. of Russian special force about Hezbollah هذا ما قاله جنرال بالقوة الخاصة الروسية عن حزب الله

هذا ما قاله جنرال بالقوة الخاصة الروسية عن حزب الله

 تاريخ النشر : 2014-08-02 07:27:48
جنرال بالقوة الخاصة الروسية يقول: بعد الاجتماع مع قادة امنيين وعسكريين من حلفائنا لدراسة الاوضاع السائدة في الشرق الأوسط لمعرفة الامور واستدراك الوضع تبين ما يلي:

مع دخول ما يعرف بالمقاومة اللبنانية الموصوفة بحزب الله إلى سوريا انقلبت المعادلة في سوريا ولم نعد قادرين على فرض السيطرة على زمام المبادرة، وكلما نضع خطة أمنية أو عسكرية لتسليمها إلى الجيش السوري لبسط سيطرته على منطقة، كنا نتفاجأ برجال نصر الله قد وضعوا خطط أشد تعقيداً منا وأشد شراسة وعلى مدى قصير، وبعدها العراق حيث شرح لنا جنرال عراقي وادميرال ايراني أنهم واجهوا عقداً كثيرة اثناء تحليلهم لطوبوغرافيا العراق الى أن وضع ضابط رفيع المستوى من حزب الله تكتيكاً اذهل الحضور واندرج هذا التكتيك قيد البحث ليدرس في الكليات الروسية.

ووضع غزة المعقد في ظل ما يواجهه أهل غزة على مدى أعوام من حصار وقيد ورقابة وما تبين الآن في هذه المعركة وباعتراف القادة الميدانيين الفلسطنيين أن لا يوجد سوى بصمات حزب الله على هكذا تكتيك.
لذا نحن كجنرالات وقادة عسكريين تبين لدينا ما يلي:

أن حزب الله يملك اناسا يملكون قادة لا يملكها ولن يملكها اي جيش في العالم منذ بدء العمل العسكري ولديه مقاتلون مخلصون رغم شراستهم وابرياء رغم عنفهم وهم المثال العريض للمقاتل الميداني.

وان كل المعطيات لدينا تقول أن حزب الله اتخذ مرتين قرار ابادة اسرائيل ولكن لظرف ما أجل العملية ولكنه لم يلغها ونعتقد أنها أقرب مما نتصور ولكنه يربط هذه المعركة بعقيدة معينة وسوف نشهدها قريباً.
موقع جنوب لبنان
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Video: ISIL shoot teens in heads, dump bodies

The ISIL Takfiri militants has released a video showing the terrorist forces shooting a number of Iraqi teenagers in the head and dumping their bodies in the river.
The ISIL released the 30-minute footage on its website on the occasion of the Eid al-Fitr.
The video shows masked ISIL terrorists taking the teens to a river. Then, they shoot them in the head on the river bank and throw their bodies in the water.
It is not clear whether the victims are Iraqi forces or civilians but the footage mentions that they are Shia.
The footage also warns the Iraqi forces of facing the same fate if they resist against the ISIL Takfiris.

Iraq’s Ministry of Human Rights says ISIL Takfiri extremists are using Iraqi children as human shields.
The Human Rights Watch has also confirmed the report that the ISIL Takfiri extremists are using children as human shields to carry out their acts of violence. The organization also said the extremists recruit children to help them in their fight against Iraqi government forces.
The crisis in Iraq escalated after the ISIL terrorists took control of Mosul in a lightning advance on June 10, which was followed by the fall of Tikrit, located 140 kilometers (87 miles) northwest of the capital Baghdad.
The Iraqi army, backed by tribal forces and volunteers, has been engaged in heavy fighting with the militants on different fronts and has so far been able to push back militants in several areas, including in Tikrit.

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Five Things You Can Do About Gaza

Displaced Palestinian boys play on carts at an UN school in Jabalia in northern Gaza on July 28.
As the child death toll in Gaza soars past 200, many people want to support Gaza from a distance, but don’t know how. Below is a list of simple actions you can take.
1. Donate
The Israeli assault on Gaza has devastated its people and infrastructure. Gaza, already in a humanitarian crisis due to the eight-year-long Israeli imposed siege, is now in a state of heightened crisis.
If you are financially capable of donating to organizations that provide direct relief, here are some organizations we suggest: UNRWA-USAUnited Palestinian Appeal, and American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA).
If you would like to donate to DCI-Palestine’s monitoring and documentation efforts in the Gaza Strip, there are two ways to do so.
A) DCI-Palestine is able to accept tax-deductible US donations from US donors in partnership with CAF America in the amount of US$500 or more. Please click here.
B) For donations less than US$500, we can accept bank transfers to the account below:
Bank transfers in USD:
Defense for Children International–Palestine Section
9490-658067-0/510 USD
Arab Bank PLC
Ramallah (Al–Balad Branch), Palestine
Swift code: ARABPS 22090
IBAN: PS11 ARAB 0000 0000 9490 6580 6751 0
All donations received by DCI-Palestine support direct program implementation. In urgent situations like the current escalation in Gaza, funds are used to increase our capacity to gather evidence and record individual narratives and testimonies. All of the documentation and evidence collected by our field researchers on the ground is used to pursue justice and accountability for violations of children’s rights.
2. Protest
Protests around the globe in support of Gaza and the Palestinian people have drawn thousands in the last three weeks. From Tel Aviv to New York to Geneva, concerned citizens are drawing attention to the crisis in Gaza by publicly demonstrating. Find out about a protest near you here.
3. Stay Informed
DCI-Palestine posts daily updates on the child victims of the assault on Gaza, which you can read here. The Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), a UN body, publishes daily reports to their website. For live updates, check Al Jazeera Englishthe Guardian, and Haaretz. Also, check “13 journalists on the ground in Gaza you should follow on Twitter.”
If you are having trouble understanding the context and law behind the specifics of the situation in Gaza today, Noura Erakat, human rights attorney, provides great answers in her article “5 Israeli Talking Points on Gaza -Debunked.”
Essential Reading:
How the West Chose War in Gaza
By Nathan Thrall | The New York Times
Collective Punishment in Gaza
Rashid Khalidi | The New Yorker
4. Get Social
Sharing information and analysis on Gaza helps others in your networks understand the situation, and compels them to act. Posting recent articles and analysis to your Facebook is one way to do this. Using trending hashtags on Twitter with simple messages is another option. Below are a few sample tweets:
5. Call Government Representatives
If you live in a country with elected representatives, calling or writing to them is an important way to support Gaza from home. You can contact you Members of Congresshere.
Here’s a sample script for a U.S. citizen:
“I am a constituent in the [representative’s district] and I am calling to urge for an arms embargo on Israel. I am appalled by our government’s ongoing support of the assault on civilians in the Gaza Strip. As Amnesty International pointed out earlier this month, the United States is violating its own policy (specifically the Arms Export Control Act) by supplying weaponry to the state of Israel when there is evidence that weaponry has been used, and will continue to be used, in human rights violations. There is an urgent need for an UN-imposed arms embargo on Israel, and the U.S. must contribute to this effort by ending the transfer of munitions, weapons, and training to Israel.”
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Libya a complete mess: Thanks, Obama.

Libya a complete mess: Thanks, Obama

World Post
Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014
Militant fighters overran a Libyan special forces base in the eastern city of Benghazi on Tuesday after a battle involving rockets and warplanes that killed at least 30 people.
A special forces officer said they had to abandon their main camp in the southeast of Benghazi after coming under sustained attack from a coalition of Islamist fighters and former rebel militias in the city.
“We have withdrawn from the army base after heavy shelling,” Saiqa Special Forces officer Fadel Al-Hassi told Reuters.
A separate special forces spokesman confirmed the militants had taken over the camp after the troops pulled out. Part of the area is Camp 36 in the Bu Attni district and the special forces school.
Intense fighting in Benghazi, Libya’s second city, and battles between rival militias in the capital Tripoli have pushed the nation deeper into chaos after two weeks of the fiercest violence since the civil war which ousted Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Benghazi has been at the centre of fighting between special forces and ex-rebel fighters of the Benghazi Shura Council who have joined up with the Ansar al Sharia, a militant Islamist group, residents said.
Ansar al Sharia, classified as a terrorist organization by Washington, has been blamed by authorities for attacking the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in 2012 when the U.S. ambassador was killed.
Special forces and some regular air force units had recently joined forces with a renegade former army general, Khalifa Haftar, who had launched a self-declared campaign to clear the city of Islamist militants.
A government MiG warplane crashed during Tuesday’s fighting in Benghazi. A Reuters reporter saw the pilot parachuting to ground after hearing an explosion.
Since clashes erupted two weeks ago, foreign states followed the United States and the United Nations in pulling diplomats out of the North African oil-producing state. Fighting in Tripoli between two rival brigades of former anti-Gaddafi rebels closed the capital’s international airport.
A rocket hit a fuel depot near Tripoli airport two days ago, igniting a huge blaze that fire-fighters were still trying to put out. Italy’s government and Italian oil group ENI had agreed to help them, the government said.
A member of the new Libyan parliament Mustafa Abushagor, due to take office in August, was kidnapped in Tripoli on Tuesday by unknown assailants, the state news agency LANA reported, citing security sources.
Three years after Gaddafi’s fall, the OPEC nation has failed to control ex-rebel militias who refuse to disband and who are threatening the unity of the country. The extent of recent hostilities has increased Western worries that Libya is sliding towards becoming a failed state and may once again go to war.
Despite the violence, Libya’s oil production remained at around 500,000 barrels per day, and its oilfields are secure, Samir Salim Kamal, director of planning at the oil ministry told Reuters on Tuesday.
That was an increase from earlier this year when unrest pushed output as low as about 200,000 bpd, but it remains well below the usual 1.4 million bpd.
While the tribal way of life declined as growing oil wealth attracted Libyans to towns and cities, traditional power structures remain strong in the nation of about six million people.
Gaddafi’s strategy effectively amounted to a system of divide and rule, buying off established tribal leaders.
In Egypt, the army has proved to be the supreme political force but in the post-Gaddafi era the Libyan militias are fighting for power, influence and oil wealth.
Tripoli was quieter on Tuesday than over the last fortnight during which the two brigades of former rebels, mainly from the towns of Zintan and Misrata, have pounded each other’s positions with Grad rockets, artillery fire and cannons, turning the south of the capital into a battlefield.
Nearly 200 people have died in Tripoli and Benghazi during the clashes in the two cities, according to the health ministry and local medical officials.
A spokesman for the National Oil Corporation said on Tuesday the armed factions in Tripoli had agreed to a brief cease-fire to allow emergency services to fight the blazing fuel storage tanks containing millions of litres of fuel.
The tanks are operated by Brega oil company, which is owned by NOC, and store oil for consumption in Libya.
Black smoke billowed from one of the tanks hit by a rocket on Sunday near the airport road. The highway and surrounding areas were empty after homes in the area were evacuated, except for occasional militia roadblocks.
Fire-fighters were spraying the area with water to cool down storage depots near the fuel tank that was set ablaze to try to extinguish the inferno.
The United States, whose embassy is near the contested airport, evacuated its embassy staff in Tripoli on Saturday, driving diplomats across the border into Tunisia under heavy military guard including air support from warplanes.
Britain, other European governments, Turkey and the Philippines have also pulled out diplomatic staff or left just a few representatives behind in Tripoli, where the violence is also causing fuel and power shortages.
France and Spain on Tuesday were evacuating more nationals and some diplomats from Tripoli, according to LANA. Canada is temporarily pulling out its diplomats due to fears about their safety, Foreign Minister John Baird said on Tuesday.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
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