Saturday, January 26, 2013

Even in Assad's coastal retreat, the war has come and the bombs are dropping

Bands of rebels, pursued by Syrian air power, are consolidating their position in mountains above the wealthy playground of Latakia – which may become the regime's last redoubt

"Local people describe it as a distant growl, an ever-present rumble, just to the north. A reminder that war is now at their doorstep.
It has been this way for two months in Latakia. The port city had managed to ride out Syria's civil war, seemingly content in the knowledge that whatever was happening in Hama to the south-east, or Idlib a little further north, an army stood between its gates and its foes. Not any more.
The spectre of war is now a reality here in the staunch core of the regime heartland, as much as it is in the rebellious and ravaged Sunni cities to the east. The shells that crunch most hours into the nearby countryside have not yet arrived. But the fear that pervades the communities on the fringes of Latakia is now spreading around the city known throughout the country as the government's stronghold, and possibly its last redoubt.
"We are afraid, very, very afraid," said Loubna, a final-year university student and resident of the city. "For so long the regime has been saying we will be safe here. That nothing will happen to us. Nothing can happen to us. But people are leaving, people are dying. Death is so near."........
Location of Latakia, Syria

"The wolves are at the door," said an Alawite refugee in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli. "Even Qardaha is not safe any more."
Qardaha is the ancestral home of the Assad family. It is where the late dictator and architect of Syria's uncompromising social and military doctrine, Hafez al-Assad, is buried, in an immaculately kept shrine maintained by an honour guard. It was never supposed to be under threat of attack.
But 12km to the north, in the mountains of Jebel al-Krud, a giant plateau that soars above Latakia and Tartous to the south, rebel groups now have Qardaha in their sites......".

البرنامج - الطريق الي يناير - الحلقة ١٠

Jazeera: Harasta town completely destroyed by Assad Brigades

Protesters killed in Suez shot from behind and at close range: Head of forensics

Those killed in clashes with security forces on Friday were shot by live ammunition at close range, sometimes from behind, forensic examinations reveal

Ahram Online , Saturday 26 Jan 2013

"Suez protesters killed during Friday clashes were shot by live ammunition at close range and in some cases from behind, forensics head Ihsan Kamil Gorgy told Al-Ahram Arabic website Saturday.

The forensics team has secured bullets extracted from the bodies of victims as evidence. The prosecution has allowed the burial of eight of the victims.
The forensics team has now moved to Port Said to examine the bodies of victims of the ongoing clashes there, added Gorgy.
Nine were killed during clashes between protesters and police in Suez on the second anniversary of January 25 Revolution.
Clashes are currently ongoing in Port Said between police and protesters angered by a court verdict issued Saturday in the Port Said football massacre case. While 21 were condemned to death for their part in the attack of 1 Februrary 2012 that killed over 70 Ahly fans, the list of the condemned contains no security officials who stand accused of allowing the massacre to happen........"

Al-Jazeera Video: Death sentences over Egypt football massacre

"Hundreds of Egyptian troops have been deployed to Port Said, as protests there grow increasingly violent. Angry crowds took to the streets after 21 football fans were given death sentences for their role in last year's football riots. At least 27 people have been killed in the clashes. Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna was at the court in Cairo where the sentences were handed down."

Real news video: Hatred for Orthodox Jews Drove Israeli Elections

Max Blumenthal says anti-orthodox parties likely to join Netanyahu's coalition and push even harsher measures against Palestinians


Notes on Foreign Intervention: Azmi Bishara on Foreign Intervention, Real and Imagined

By Azmi Bishara
(Edited translation from the Azmi Bishara Arabic facebook page; The Arabic original was posted earlier)

"1) In the end, there was foreign intervention—but in Mali, and against the Islamists, and not in Syria, where the regime accuses the Islamists of being American stooges.

2) A point which gave some observers pause for thought: those who opposed foreign military intervention in Libya against Qaddafi kept quiet about military intervention in Mali, some of those even supported it. I would say this is nothing out of the ordinary, since attitudes to foreign intervention were never based on principle, but rather have always been based on interests. This applies to US intervention in the Korean peninsula and Viet Nam; to Russian intervention in Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan; and latterly American intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those parties which stand opposed to such intervention in Syria—or rather, imagine such intervention into being to give themselves the chance to oppose it—have in the past supported imperialist interventions in Iraq, whether openly or implicitly. They openly supported the same in Afghanistan, and now claim to oppose (non-existent) intervention in Syria.

3) The Western game in Syria has been duplicitous and dirty: they wax lyrical about supporting the revolution, so that they can infiltrate it without having to provide meaningful support. What loss is it for the West to have their agents within the revolution work for them without having to give anything in return? As was true in many other cases, the debate on foreign intervention within the ranks of the Syrian opposition was futile. As in those other cases, this futility was born of endless remonstrations and of political inexperience.

4) The Assad regime's main source of strength, at the moment, comes from one of the global power camps yet it is the silence of the other camp which allows the regime to use violence without limit, the only exception being the bar placed on the use of chemical weapons. Even that is a hypothetical restriction: the destructive power of the weapons which the regime has already deployed against Syrian cities far surpasses that of any chemical weapons. I personally have no doubt that Israeli fears surrounding the uncertain future of Syria, once stabilized, and American caution over any intervention in the region following the Iraq debacle, are part and parcel of wider international complicity in the destruction of Syria. The reason I describe this as the regime's most important source of power at the moment is that no other regime has had such free rein to use force against its own people since the beginning of the information revolution. If only international powers had placed limits on the Assad’s use of violence, merely with a no-fly zone, then even the regime's sectarian-based support would wither away.

5) The regime’s use of violence does not let those countries which have called for Assad to step down off the hook. Instead, the violence already used has dissipated any international or regional political legitimacy which the regime had left. This is not to mention the regime’s domestic legitimacy, which long ago went beyond the point of no return.

6) In the end, the Syrian regime’s ability to use violence will be expended. Not because of international disgust, however, but rather due to the steadfastness of the Syrian people and their sacrifices, and their continued ability to give rise to forces which fight against the regime. These people are justified in their demands to find ways of fending off aerial bombardment.

7) The Syrian people’s victory is being forged in the midst of international inaction, and with the support of only Arab countries (to be exact, only one or two of them). Even that support barely covers the minimum needed to maintain their resistance, even so far as relief for a crisis-ridden people goes. All this will be remembered, however, once the tide turns and the countries of the world begin to line up to fill their pockets with the gains won by the national struggle."

Egypt’s revolution: As it might have been; as it could be

As hundreds of thousands of Egyptians yet again go on the streets to regain their hijacked revolution, it might prove useful to re-imagine what might have been, as a way to help chart what could be

Hani Shukrallah , Friday 25 Jan 2013
Ahram Online

".......And herein lays one of the great paradoxes of the Egyptian revolution, possibly the fundamental paradox at its heart, from which a whole host of other dualities of strength and weakness spring.
Goals, noble or otherwise, are the first primary condition of strategy, but strategy is equally, indeed first and foremost, about having a plan to realise these goals. For such a plan to be effective it must be based on the most thorough assessment of the configuration of forces, on a clear, unambiguous and dispassionate understanding of strengths and weaknesses, within your own ranks, no less than those of your foes.

Equally important, a revolutionary strategy involves a profound awareness of “the present moment”, the conjuncture, and thus possessing the ability to recognize and comprehend the ever shifting configuration of forces, identify “the weakest link” in the chain of oppression you’ve set out to shatter, recognize and identify as well your allies, your enemies and those who could be neutralized: when to strike, at what, and how. Russia’s Lenin has been described as a scientist of the conjuncture.......

One more point needs to be made here. Revolutions, ultimately, are not about protest as much as they are about power. Admittedly, historical experience has shown that revolutions everywhere – however successful – are nowhere the far-reaching, all-encompassing ruptures with their respective anciens régimes they would like to be, and often perceive themselves as being. Oppressive structures rooted in economic and social privilege, invariably have shown a remarkable resilience and capacity for regeneration in new ways, both within the state and outside it.

Genuine revolutionary transformation is thus an ongoing process involving popular protest, electoral politics and the elaboration and refinement of continually-evolving organs of popular power able to subject the state and other structures of power and privilege to a growingly potent siege, to bring them increasingly under their sway – in an ever expanding, ever-deepening democratisation of state and society.

Yet, revolutions do signify a rupture, and one which implies and requires, absolutely, a much greater emphasis on access to power and the exercise of effective sway over it, than with protesting against those who would maintain a monopoly of power. Revolutionary transformation cannot be pursued with a protester’s mindset, or rather a mindset that remains unable to make the vast intellectual leap wherein the instruments of protest are now fully integrated within the overall framework of creating and seizing greater access to, and influence over the instruments of power......"

Egypt: The People Still want the Fall of the Regime

By Juan Cole

"On the two-year anniversary of the demonstration that kicked off the Egyptian Revolution and the Second Republic, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians came out to demonstrate. They were not so much commemorating the fall of the Mubarak regime as protesting its successor, the government of Muhammad Morsi, the first freely elected Egyptian president in history. In the city of Suez on the canal, anti-government forces clashed with police, and 7 of the protesters and one policeman are said to have been killed. Another protester was killed in Ismailia. Hundreds were wounded throughout the country......

Morsi, representing the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, has acted high-handedly has favored market-based solutions to the country’s problems, and has cracked down on striking laborers. It has provoked the anger of secular, centrist, feminist, Coptic Christian, leftist and labor groups.

In Cairo, there were several centers of protest, including the iconic Tahrir Square downtown, the presidential palace, the Maspero area around the state television station, and October 6 bridge linking the downtown area with neighborhoods beyond the Nile. There were active clashes between protesters and police on October 6 bridge for much of Friday. The army and state security forces used tear gas against the protesters. A youth anarchist group, the “Black Bloc,” which dressed themselves in black, including masks, attempted to set fire to the presidential palace with Molotov cocktails before being dispersed with heavy tear gas barrages. But most of the Cairo protests, despite provocation by security forces, remained peaceful.
Protesters are consolidating their position in Tahrir Square and pledging to camp out in it until their goals are met."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Al-Jazeera Video: Deadly protests mark Egypt anniversary

"At least seven people have been killed in Egypt during protests on Friday - the second anniversary of the country's revolution.

The demonstrators are demanding President Mohamed Morsi suspend the constitution and introduce an official minimum wage.

Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reports from the heart of Egypt's revolution, Cairo's Tahrir Square."

"The Square": Jehane Noujaim’s New Film Captures Egypt’s Ongoing Revolution After Mubarak’s Fall

Democracy Now!

"As Egyptians mark the second anniversary of the Egyptian revolution, we look at a new documentary that captures the ongoing protest movement in Egypt well after the downfall of Hosni Mubarak. "The Square" follows a group of activists as they risk their lives in the uprising that ousted Mubarak only to face further threats under the transitional military regime. We’re joined by the film’s Egyptian American director Jehane Noujaim at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Noujaim’s previous work includes the famed Al Jazeera documentary, "Control Room."....."

Sharif Abdel Kouddous: On Egyptian Revolution’s 2nd Anniversary, Protesters’ Demands Mostly the Same

Democracy Now!

"Two years ago, thousands of Egyptians filled Tahrir Square sparking the revolution that brought down dictator Hosni Mubarak. We go to Cairo to speak with Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous, who joins us live from a protest march back to Tahrir. "We hear many of the same chants that we heard two years ago — bread, freedom and social justice — and for the downfall of the regime that they see has continued two years after Mubarak’s ouster," Kouddous says. "The difference between what is happening now and two years ago is there is a lot less unity and a much more polarized country."....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Egyptian opposition calls for anniversary protests

Real News Video: Arab Elites Defend Economic Models that Gave Rise to Arab Spring, but Made Them Rich

In Pt2 RAJA KHALIDI says in spite of people's urgent demand for economic change, Arab elites have not altered their dealing with the IMF and are trying to keep a lid on the region as a whole 

More at The Real News

Ahram Online Video About Egyptian Protests

Thursday, January 24, 2013

البرنامج - الجمهورية الثانية - الحلقة ٩

Al-Jazeera Video: الإتجاه المعاكس- هل تتغير الشعوب العربية بتغير حكامها

Real News Video: What's Next for Palestine?

Raja Khalidi begins a series discussing the role of Qatar, unity of Hamas and Fatah and the prospects for Palestinian development as Israel's position hardens  

More at The Real News

Morsi Slams New Lid on Labour Rights

"CAIRO, Jan 24 2013 (IPS) - Workers played a pivotal role in the mass uprising that led to former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s downfall. Now, two years on, the same labour movement that helped topple the Arab dictator is locked in a stalemate with the government and employers over long-denied labour rights and untenable working conditions.

In recent months, thousands of disenfranchised workers across Egypt have taken collective action to secure better wages and working conditions, paralysing sectors of an economy still recovering from the 2011 uprising. The country’s new Islamist-led government has promised to resolve labour disputes quickly and equitably, but faces formidable challenges as it grapples with restive workers, unyielding employers, and depleted state coffers.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the conservative Islamic movement that dominated last year’s parliamentary and presidential polls, ran on a platform that emphasised social justice. Yet the once-outlawed group has a poor track record on worker rights, and a history of anti-union activities.

“We had a revolution but the only change is from (Mubarak’s) National Democratic Party to the Muslim Brotherhood,” says labour activist Kareem El-Beheiry. “The Brotherhood has never done anything for the labour movement, and never supported workers or independent unions.”....."

Egypt: Security forces continue to get away with murder two years on from start of uprising

"Egypt must ensure the deaths of hundreds of protesters since early 2011 are independently and effectively investigated, if the country is to move away from the abuses that defined the Mubarak era, said Amnesty International in a briefing published to coincide with the second anniversary of the start of the “25 January Revolution”.

The briefing, Rampant impunity: Still no justice for protesters killed in the “25 January Revolution”, details shortcomings in investigations and prosecutions of those responsible for the deaths of some 840 individuals during the demonstrations that ended over 30 years of Hosni Mubarak’s repressive rule and led to the first elected civilian President in Egypt. At least 6,600 people also sustained injuries during the protests, which were brutally suppressed by the security forces.

At least 12 people have died during protest violence since President Mohamed Morsi took office.

According to information gathered by Amnesty International in Egypt, during the uprising security forces used tear gas, water cannon, shotguns, rubber bullets and live ammunition against protesters, in many cases when they were posing no threat to them....."

Qursaya: A story of betrayal and struggle

Thu, 24/01/2013

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"It is important to consider the story of Qursaya as the second anniversary of the revolution approaches. It’s a story of violence and imprisonment, of the powerful targeting the marginalized, of ruling interests trampling over the rule of law, and of an ongoing struggle against a state that regards its poorest citizens as a bothersome nuisance impeding plans for progress......

One of the biggest outrages of the new Constitution is that it allows for cases like the Qursaya military trial to continue. An earlier draft of the constitution contained language that strictly prohibited trying civilians before military courts. Yet assembly members removed this language “after military justice officials formally objected,” according to Human Rights Watch.

Article 198 of the Constitution leaves intact the military’s discretion to try civilians in military courts in a significant step backward for human rights in Egypt. Previous constitutions did not mention military trials of civilians, allowing lawyers to argue that the practice itself was unconstitutional. Now, Article 198 makes referring civilians to military trial constitutionally acceptable.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s capitulation is all the more troubling given their long history of being among the primary victims of military trials during the Hosni Mubarak era. In their ascent from a banned opposition group to political power, an explanation can be found. Those with access to power are not threatened by the most abusive practices of the state, like military trials. It is society’s most marginalized who are always targeted, and the Brotherhood has stepped forcefully out of the margins only to sacrifice those left behind.

A military court is scheduled to hand down a verdict on the Qursaya detainees on 28 January, a date that marks the second anniversary of the “Friday of Anger,” when hundreds of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets in what was arguably the most decisive day yet in Egypt’s revolution. For the people of Qursaya and those who share in their struggle, we need many more like it."

ملاحظة لا بد أن تقال

By Azmi Bishara
24 يناير 2013

"بعد انتهاء الانتخابات الاسرائيلية آن الأوان للهمس في أذن الأمين العام لجامعة العربية أن دعوة الجامعة للمواطنين العرب داخل الخط الأخضر للمشاركة في الانتخابات ليست في مكانها، وتشكل سابقة خطيرة، وتؤشر على إفلاس العالم العربي (الرسمي) في مواجهة إسرائيل. ألم يبق لدى العرب وسيلة لمواجهة إسرائيل والصهيونية سوى التعويل على مشاركة المواطنين العربي في الداخل في الانتخابات البرلمانية؟ للعرب في إسرائيل، هذا الجزء الحي من الشعب الفلسطيني والأمة العربية، اسبابهم الداخلية للتصويت وهي بنظر الحركة الوطنية في الداخل متعلقة بالصمود والحقوق المطلبية والحفاظ على الهوية، في مقابل محاولات الأسرلة والصهينة.
وخطابها ومطالبها حتى في إطار الانتخابات كما برز في العقد الأخير تتناقض مع الصهيونية بشكل يثير الأخيرة ويطرح لديها تساؤلات وجودية. وإن عدم المشاركة في الانتخابات في غياب حركة ثورية وعصيان مدني هي في الواقع لامبالاة وإضعاف للتمثيل العربي المسيّس ضد الاحزاب الصهيونية، وليس أكثر. أما المقاطعة السياسية فنسبتها ضئيلة وتذوب في اللامبالاة. وفي الانتخابات الأخيرة ارتفعت نسبة تصويت العرب مقارنة بالسابقة وإن بنسبة قليلة... ولكن الاسباب والدوافع للمشاركة والعزوف كلها داخلية ولا بد ان تتعامل معها الحركة الوطنية في الداخل للحافظ على عرب الداخل في ظروف لا يفيدهم فيها أحد سوى أنفسهم، إذ يجب أن "يقلعوا شوكهم بأيديهم".
أما أن تنعدم وسائل النضال لدى السلطة الفلسطينية، وأن تعول مرة اخرى وأخرى على تغيير المعسكرات في إسرائيل بالأصوات العربية لكي تحيي عملية السلام، لأنه ليس لديها خيارات أخرى كما توهم نفسها، وأن تقبل الجامعة العربية بنصائح السلطة وتصدر بيانا يدعو للتصويت فهذا شأن آخر. هذه الدعوة تسيء للعرب كأمة، وللجامعة كممثل لوحدتها، ويظهر ضعفها، (وضعف السلطة الفلسطينية طبعا) وهو على كل حال لا يساعد العرب في الداخل على الحفاظ على هويتهم الوطنية بل يزرع الأوهام بالتعويل على قوى صهيونية لا تهمها قضية فلسطين إلا كأرض للنهب والاستيطان، ولن تهمها، طالما ليس لدى العرب وسائل أخرى في الصراع معها سوى أدوات من هذا النوع.من المؤسف أن نحتاج لتكرار هذه المسلمات بعد عقدين على اتفاقيات أوسلو؟!
1.نشرت هذه الأفكار بعد الانتخابات لكي لا يساء فهمها في خضم عمل الحركة الوطنية في الداخل على رفع نسبة التصويت في الصراع ضد الاحزاب الصهيونية وضد اللامبالاة والإحباط الذي تساهم فيه مثل هذه الدعوات التي تظهر ضعف العرب.
2. بعد نشر هذا التعليق اتضح لي ان البعض قد يفسره تأييدا لبعض الأصوات المزايدة القليلة التي دعت عرب الداخل (من الخارج) لمقاطعة الانتخابات. وبالنسبة لحرص هؤلاء الممكن على مصالح ومصير عرب الداخل الذين بقوا في وطنهم يكفي أن نرى كيف يعاملون اللاجئين الفلسطينيين في بلادهم. ومن يتعامل مع قضية فلسطين كأداة في الصراعات العربية الداخلية وللمزايدة لا يستحق ان نناقشه بشكل جدي لانه لا يتعامل أصلا مع هذه القضية بشكل جدي. واستخدام قضية فلسطين لمصالح لا علاقة لها بها ليس استراتيجية لا يستحق أن يناقش.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Syria – Aleppo University attack

The Guardian

"A new video has emerged that seems to show a large missile hitting the University of Aleppo in the devastating attack that killed an estimated 87 people last week.
The video casts serious doubt on the Syrian government’s claims – backed up by Russia – that the attack on the university was the work of opposition rebels.
I just spoke to my colleague Martin Chulov, who was reporting from Aleppo at the time. He said of the rebel groups: “They simply don’t have a missile of that type.”

James Miller on the Enduring America blog, in a piece analysing the video in detail, says it has consulted “a group of arms specialists and military experts” who agree that “the insurgents do not have any weapons this advanced”:
No RPG or shoulder-fired missile has this destructive power. It is unlikely that a vehicle-mounted SAM could do this level of damage, and it is even less likely that such a weapon was in range. The insurgents have also not been seen with GRAD rockets or any other long-range surface-to-surface or surface-to-air missile that is capable of this kind of damage.
This series of images from the video seems to show the missile coming in from the top-right at an extremely high angle.
Enduring America's Miller writes:
Here's what the evidence suggests. A regime jet fighter lined up on the main street that leads south to north through the centre of Aleppo and fired a missile. The plane then circled, lined up on the boulevard again, and fired a second missile three minutes later.
While the evidence clearly supports this conclusion, it also raises a disturbing question. The precision of the two strikes suggests that this was a deliberate target - a clearly non-military target - with explosions designed to have maximum impact. Did at least some of the command structure of the Syrian military, and not just the individual pilot, have knowledge of this mission? If so, was the goal was to kill as many students as possible and then – using the quick reaction of the Syrian media – blame this attack on the insurgents?"

Al-Jazeera Video: Displaced Syrians fear for safety in aid camps

"Atma camp inside Syria near the northern border with Turkey is home to thousands of people forced to flee their homes. But the area is too dangerous for aid agencies and charities to deliver food and clothes. Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra reports from Antakya."

Al-Jazeera Video: من واشنطن - أوباما في ولايته الثانية

Includes As'ad Abu Khalil

The "New" Tunisia: Tunisia must drop unjust charges against graffiti activists

"Two activists in Tunisia, who face charges in relation to their drawing of graffiti last November, must not be jailed for exercising their freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today.

Oussama Bouajila, aged 25, and Chahine Berrich, 23, from the anti-poverty street art group Zwewla (“the poor”) are charged with “spreading false information with the aim of disrupting the public order”, “defying the state of emergency” and “writing on a public building without permission”.

They were charged in November after they were caught writing slogans in support of the poor on a university wall in the city of Gabes, in the south east of Tunisia.

These men should not be penalized for what their graffiti said. It is unjustifiable to threaten them with prison terms simply for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa....."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

السؤال السوري الكبير الياس خوري

السؤال السوري الكبير
 الياس خوري

"لم يذهب بشار الأسد الى دار الاوبرا محاطا بالشبيحة ورجال المخابرات كي يغني للسلام! فالرجل الذي يتربع على عرش ورثه من والده منذ ثلاثة عشر عاما، يعرف ان اعمدة هذا العرش مصنوعة من اسمنت الاستبداد المجبول بدم الضحايا. 
كان الرجل واضحاً منذ البداية. وفي الأشهر الأولى، حين كانت الثورة السورية سلمية مئة بالمئة، افشل الأسد الصغير جميع محاولات التسوية، وبهدل الحوارات التي جرت بين بعض اركان نظامه وبعض وجوه المعارضة، واندفع الى القتل الأعمى.
هذا ما جعل من محاولات كوفي عنان ومن بعده الأخضر الابراهيمي مجرد اضاعة للوقت. وعلى الرغم من ان المبعوثين الدوليين ابديا حيادا ملتبسا وتبنيا لكثير من عبارات النظام، فإن الأسد الابن اطاح جميع اقتراحاتهما، مستندا الى دعم ايراني مطلق وتواطوء روسي من جهة، والى آلته الاجرامية التي تفتك بالشعب من جهة ثانية.
السؤال السوري الكبير لا يتعلق بنوايا النظام المعروفة منذ البداية، ولا بالمواقف الدولية والعربية، التي يسودها الالتباس: تردد امريكي في دعم الثورة يعود الى الالتزام الامريكي المطلق بدعم اسرائيل، ويتغطى بالرهاب من الاسلاميين، ومواقف عربية يقودها الثنائي القطري- السعودي بتناقضاته الداخلية، واصراره على لعب دور اكبر من حجمه عبر اندفاعه الى تجويف الجيش الحرمن خلال تقديم دعمه المباشر للمجموعات الاسلامية المسلحة، وتغذية الانقسامات داخل قوى المعارضة
لا الموقف الامريكي يجب ان يفاجئنا ولا الموقف الروسي غير متوقع، ولا مواقف ملوك النفط والغاز يثير الدهشة.
كل هذا كان متوقعا، لكن هذه المواقف تتمادى الى درجة انها باتت تشكل اليوم تهديدا للثورة السورية، بسبب غياب للقيادة السياسية السورية نتيجة العجز والاتكالية والتكوين الناقص.
حين استخدم كلمة تهديد هنا فأنا لا اعني ان هذا الواقع يمكن ان يسمح ببقاء النظام. فالنظام الأسدي سقط، والجالس اليوم على عرش الدم لا يقود دولة، بل يقود عصابة. لكن هذا يعني ان الثورة مهددة بالتفكك، وان 'انتصار' النظام يعني شيئاً واحداً هو تدمير سورية بشكل كامل، بحيث يصعب عليها النهوض من كبوتها، بعد رحيل الشبح الأسدي عنها.
انصبت، حتى الآن، جهود اغلبية المحللين المؤيدين للثورة على نقد النظام الأسدي وتحليل الموقفين الدولي العربي، واذا اقتربت من نقد الثورة، فإنها كانت تكتفي بنقد ممارسات جزئية، وصارت في اغلبيتها تنصبّ اليوم على نقد ظاهرة 'جبهة النصرة'.
لكن الكلام الذي يجب ان يقال، هو ان نقد تشكيلات المعارضة السياسية السورية، كان خافتاً، او خاضعاً لمحاججة داخلية بين مؤيدي الأفرقاء المتعددين.
ما نحتاج اليه اليوم هو نقد المعارضة ودعوتها الى التصرف كمعارضة مسؤولة عن مستقبل سورية، والتوقف عن المماحكات غير المجدية.
هيئة التنسيق بمشروعها السلمي فشلت، والمجلس الوطني بمشروعه المستند الى وهم الدعم الدولي فشل هو الآخر، والائتلاف الذي ولد عبر عملية قيصرية في الدوحة، وبشرنا بأنه يحمل في جيبه مفاتيح الدعمين التسليحي والمادي للثورة، ذهبت وعوده ادراج الرياح او تكاد.
ماذ يجري؟ ولماذا؟
من السهل ان نعيد السبب الى النظام الذي قتل الحياة السياسية طوال اربعة عقود. لكن ماذا فعلت القوى السياسية خلال عامين، كل يوم فيهما يساوي سنوات لا تحصى من الصمود والبطولة والشهامة التي ابدعها السوريات والسوريون في مواجهة التدمير والمذابح وجنون القتل؟
نعم ماذا فعلتم ايها السيدات والسادة؟
الحقيقة التي يجب ان تُقال هي ان الناس سئمتكم وسئمت مماحكاتكم وصراعاتكم الداخلية على كراسي السلطة التي لا وجود لها. واخيرا سئمت مناظركم على الشاشات الصغيرة، بحيث صار اكبر واحد فيكم يقلّد مقدمي البرامج على شاشات الفضائيات.
والحقيقة ايضا هي ان الناس لا تفهم لماذا لا تذهبون الى المناطق المحررة في سورية. تخافون من الموت؟ وهل حيواتكم اغلى من حيوات الناس؟ ام انكم تعتقدون ان انتظاركم في الفنادق هو طريقكم الى السلطة؟
لماذا لا تقودون؟ القائد يقود ايها السادة، على معاذ الخطيب ورياض سيف وسهير الأتاسي وجورج صبرا وجميع الآخرين ان يعرفوا ان القائد يجب ان يكون مع شعبه، وان المناطق التي انسحب منها النظام لا تحتمل فراغا، فاذا لم تكونوا فيها كي تقودوا الناس، فعليكم ان لا تتعجبوا من ان تقودها جبهة النصرة او اي قائد ميداني آخر...
قالوا انهم سيوحدون الجيش الحر ويشكلون حكومة، صدرت قرارات او تسويات لا اعرف كيف نسميها، لكن لا شيء على ارض الواقع.
السؤال السوري الكبير موجه الى المعارضة وليس الى النظام، النظام نعرفه ونعرف ماذا يريد، اما انتم ايها السيدات والسادة فعليكم ان تقولوا وتفعلوا، وتتوقفوا عن صراعاتكم التي لا معنى لها.
افهم ان صراعا كبيرا دار حول معنى اسقاط النظام، وان هذا الصراع حُسم في النقاش لمصلحة فكرة اسقاط النظام برموزه واجهزته الأمنية، فلماذا لا تزالون تتصارعون في الخفاء احيانا وعلى الشاشات احيانا اخرى.
والله ان حجم هذه المأساة السورية تنوء دونه الجبال، فكونوا على مستوى الدم المراق كي لا تصيروا الوجه الآخر للنظام.

Neocolonialism in Northwest Africa, by Khalil Bendib

Al-Jazeera Cartoon

Monday, January 21, 2013

War rape: The forgotten pandemic sweeping Syria


Rape is “a significant and disturbing feature of the Syrian civil war” according to a report released by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a US based NGO, last Monday. “These rapes, sometimes by multiple perpetrators, often occur in front of family members,” the report states.
Has anyone noticed the lack of media interest in war rape in Syria? How many people are aware that rape is a widespread and systematic practice in Syria? Are such heinous sex acts not newsworthy enough? Or is war rape unreported because war rape in Syria is not on the same level as mass rape during the 13-year civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where 40 women were raped everyday?
We might not know the full scale of the abuse in Syria but we do know that rape was the main reason for more than 600,000 Syrians fleeing their home country according to the IRC. The 600,000 are the lucky ones - millions remain trapped in a rape zone. One female physician in Damascus treated 2,000 girls and women raped in Syria alone.
While the IRC said it was impossible to give statistics, its report gives you an idea of the sheer scale of war rape. Many of the reports at this stage are anecdotal or second- or third-hand. With human rights investigators refused access to Syria it is impossible to verify rape claims and gather reliable data.
A major obstacle in gaining accurate data on war rape is that such acts are under-reported by Syrians. They fear reporting war rape due to the “dishonor” and “stigma” reporting could bring them and their families. Victims fear retribution from their own families and social ignominy. Meanwhile there is no accountable or uncorrupted police force in Syria to even take such reports seriously, let alone record sexual complaints.
Despite the challenges of gathering data in conflict there is enough evidence from the reports compiled to indicate that war rape in Syria is a major feature of the civil war. War rape is used predominantly but not exclusively against women. Women are targeted in Syria to oppress, persecute, enslave and torture.

Moscow begins evacuation of Russians from Syria

Government says two planes will fly to Beirut to bring home more than 100 Russians

The Guardian,
The Russian government has said it is sending two planes to Lebanon to evacuate Russians from Syria, the first such effort since the uprising against Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.

The emergency situations ministry said two of its planes would fly to Beirut on Tuesday to bring home more than 100 Russians.
The announcement appears to reflect Moscow's increasing doubts about Assad's ability to cling to power and growing concerns about the safety of its citizens. Russia's foreign ministry has said it has contingency plans in place to evacuate thousands of Russians from Syria.

Russia has been the main ally of Assad since the start of the conflict, using its veto power at the United Nations security council to shield the Syrian president from sanctions.

On Monday the secretary general of the Arab League, Nabil Elaraby, said the mission of the international envoy tasked with resolving Syria's crisis had yielded not even a "flicker of hope".
Addressing the opening session of a two-day Arab economic summit in Saudi Arabia, Elaraby proposed that the gathered heads of state call for an immediate meeting of the UN security council to adopt a resolution demanding a ceasefire in Syria and a monitoring force to ensure compliance.
Algeria's Lakhdar Brahimi took up the post of international envoy on Syria late last summer but has made no headway in resolving the conflict."

MLK's vehement condemnations of US militarism are more relevant than ever

His vital April 4, 1967 speech is a direct repudiation of the sophistry now used to defend US violence and aggression,
The civil right achievements of Martin Luther King are quite justly the focus of the annual birthday commemoration of his legacy. But it is remarkable, as I've noted before on this holiday, how completely his vehement anti-war advocacy is ignored when commemorating his life (just as his economic views are). 

By King's own description, his work against US violence and militarism, not only in Vietnam but generally, was central - indispensable - to his worldview and activism, yet it has been almost completely erased from how he is remembered......"

Hamas Boldly Tackling Top Palestinian Problems: Hamas campaign targets Western clothes, 'strange' haircuts.

Al-Masry Al-Youm
The Approved Women's Fashion, According to Hamas.

"The religious endowments department of the Hamas-led government in the Central Gaza governorate has launched a campaign to " entrench good values and virtue" that targets Western attire, including low-waist and skinny pants, tight tunics and Western haircuts.

A Central Gaza governorate official, Adel al-Hoor, said the campaign will begin with awareness raising and will not end at a specific date.

He said the campaign primarily targets immodest women's clothing [Hamas determines that, of course.] and "strange" haircuts, claiming that the recent spread of such fashion has negatively impacted society.[Never mind child malnutrition, poverty, unemployment, lack of medical care, etc., etc.

Part of the campaign is to have all preachers raise awareness on proper clothing during Friday sermons, he said, adding that workshops are being held and interactive Facebook pages created for the same purpose......"

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Azmi Bishara on foreign intervention

لمفكر العربي الدكتور عزمي بشارة
ملاحظات حول التدخل الأجنبي

1. وقع في النهاية تدخل عسكري خارجي ولكن في مالي وضد الإسلاميين، وليس في سوريا التي يتهم نظامها 
الإسلاميين بالعمالة لأميركا.
2. الأمر الذي يراه البعض ملفتا، وأعتبره أقل من عادي، هو أن من عارض التدخل العسكري في ليبيا ضد القذافي، ملأ فمه ماء حول التدخل العسكري في مالي، بل وأيده (وتقترح روسيا أن تساهم في دعم التدخل الفرنسي هناك فنيا). نقول أن هذا أمر غير ملفت وأقل من عادي لأن المواقف من التدخل الأجنبي ما كانت يوما مبدئية، بل كانت دائما تحدد بموجب المصلحة، وذلك منذ التدخل الأميركي في كوريا وفيتنام، والتدخل الروسي في تشيكوسلوفاكيا وأفغانستان، ثم الأميركي في أفغانستان والعراق. وبعض القوى التي تعارض مثل هذا التدخل، أو تختلقه لكي تعارضة على الرغم من أنه غير مطروح في سورية، سبق أن أيدت تدخلا استعماريا في العراق صمتا أو علنا، وأيدته علنا في أفغانستان... وهي الآن تدعي معارضة تدخل أجنبي عسكري غير قائم في سورية.
3. لقد لعب الغرب عموما لعبة مزدوجة قذرة مع الثورة السورية إذ تشدق بتأييدها لكي يخترقها من دون أن يدعمها فعليا. فماذا يضيره أن يكون له وكلاء محسوبين عليه يأتمرون بأمره من دون أن يدعم الثورة السورية؟! وكان النقاش داخل المعارضة السورية حول التدخل الأجنبي نقاشا عقيما مثل نقاشات عقيمة أخرى ناجمة عن قلة الخبرة السياسية والمناكفات التي لا تنتهي. 
4. إن القوة الأساسية التي يستند إليها حاليا لنظام الاسد هو دعم محور دولي، والأهم من ذلك صمت محور آخر. الدعم بالمال والسلاح من جهة، والصمت من جهة أخرى، يتيح له أن يستخدم العنف من دون سقف، سوى سقف السلاح الكيماوي. وهو سقف وهمي، لأن القوة التدميرية لما استخدمه ضد مدن سورية المأهولة حتى الآن تتفوق على أي سلاح كيماوي. وما من شك لدينا أن التخوف الإسرائيلي من المستقبل غير الواضح بعد مرحلة استقرار الحدود السورية الإسرائيلية منذ العام 1973، وحذر الإدارة الأميركية من اي تدخل جديد في المنطقة بعد العراق هي من عناصر الصمت الدولي على عملية هدم سورية. ونقول أن هذا الصمت هو مصدر قوة النظام الأساسية حاليا. ويعود ذلك إلى أنه لم تطلق يد نظام في استخدام العنف ضد شعبه منذ ثورة الاتصالات كما أطلقت يد النظام السوري، ولأنه لو حددت القوى الدولية سقف استخدامه للعنف، ولو بحظر جوي، لانفض عنه حتى ما تبقى حوله من عصبيّات طائفية.
5. هذا لا يعني أنه يمكن للدول التي أعلنت موقفا داعيا لتنحي الأسد أن تتراجع عن موقفها هذا بسبب هذا العنف. فالعنف المستخدم يقوض اي شرعية سياسية دولية أو إقليمية لهذا النظام، هذا موضوع حسم. أما شرعية النظام عند الشعب السوري فقد هلكت وتعفنت، ولا يمكن إحياؤها. وما يقوم به النظام حاليا هو التمثيل بجثة شرعيته ذاتها. لقد حسم أمر هذا النظام سياسيا، ومسألة مغادرته حلبة التاريخ مخزيا، ملطخا بالعار وبدماء شعبه مسألة وقت فقط. 
6. إن هذا الاستخدام للعنف سوف يستنفذ قريبا، ليس بفضل اشمئزاز العالم منه، (فقد تجاوز الناس حتى الإشمئزاز إلى الاندهاش من عبثية العنف والتدمير)، ولكن بفضل صمود الشعب السوري وتضحياته، وبطولته الأسطورية، وبفضل توليده المستمر لقوى تقاتل النظام. وإن مطلب الشعب السوري بإيجاد الطرق لحمايته من القصف الجوي هو مطلب شرعي.
7. سوف ينتصر الشعب السوري في ظل تواطئ دولي ضده، وبدعم فقط من دول عربية معدودة (تقدم دعما ضروريا لا غنى عنه)، وهو بالكاد يتجاوز الحد الأدنى المطلوب للصمود، حتى في الإغاثة الإنسانية لشعب منكوب فعلا. وسوف نتذكر ذلك حين تميل الكفة وتبدأ الدول بالانضمام لقطف ثمار نضال وطني وتضحيات وطنية من ألفها إلى يائها.
8. تقضي المسؤولية الوطنية للقيادات السياسية والجيش الحر أن ترتقي لمستوى تضحيات هذا الشعب، وتحافظ على سيادة البلد من إملاءات خارجية من دول لم تدعم الثورة، ولا تسأل إلا عن السلاح الكيماوي و"الإرهاب"، وأن تحافظ في الوقت نفسه على سورية من فوضى الجماعات المسلحة بضبط الوضع تنظيميا بأسرع وقت، واحتواء من يمكن احتواؤه من هذه الجماعات، والوقوف بحزم ضد اي خطاب طائفي تقسيمي يرى في سوريا مجموعة طوائف (ويفيد أن يعرف أصحاب هذا الخطاب الطائفي من اي جهة كانوا أن الخطاب الطائفي غير بعيد عن الرؤية الروسية والأميركية لسورية وشعبها كطوائف،فالطائفي­ة والاستعمار في المشرق صنوان. وهي الرؤية التي يتمرد عليها الشعب العراقي حاليا بعد عقد من النزف الناجم عنها).

Sectarian Cleansing in Homs

Homs has witnessed the most brutal & savage sectarian massacres in Syria. Homs being a city with
huge mix of Sunnis & Alawites has been problomatic for Assad since the start. Assad has pursued a policy of Sectarian cleansing , either displacing the Sunni population or committing Horrific massacres to cleanse it from Sunnis. Cleansing Homs and its country side is essential for Assad's master plan of creating an Alawite state off the coast. This is the latest sectarian massacre committed by regime sectarian death squads of another sunni area. In Iraq sectarian militias used the same strategy to cleanse Baghdad of Sunnis.

Al-Jazeera Video: Syrians fear new 'silent' missiles

"As the bombardment of Syria continues, opposition activists say government forces are now using a new kind of missile. Residents in the northern province of Idlib live in fear of the new weapon, which they say gives those targeted little warning before it strikes. Al Jazeera's Sue Turton reports from Idlib province."

Arab gloom as Israel shifts rightwards

The Palestinian issue looks like being sidelined amidst apathy, despair and uncertainty elsewhere in the region

By Ian Black
The Guardian

"......But with Netanyahu poised to return to power at the head of a more right-wing and uncompromising government than Israel has ever seen before, the Palestinians divided and the Arab world distracted, no-one is holding their breath about the prospects for peace."

France in Mali: The longue durée of imperial blowback

The current crisis in Mali is a product of French colonialism, and their intervention will sadly create more blowback.

By Mark LeVine

".....Given the clear attention being paid to the Sahel in the last decade by French and US policymakers, we can only assume that either they were utterly incompetent in failing to understand the inevitable results of Western military intervention in Libya, or saw that as a win-win situation, providing a new theatre in a strategically rising area of the world in which US, French and Western militaries could become increasingly engaged (and in so doing, keep rivals such as China further at bay)......"