Saturday, October 26, 2013

France feared US hacked president, was Israel involved?

"AFP - France believed the United States attempted to hack into its president's communications network, a leaked US intelligence document published on Friday suggests.

US agents denied having anything to do with a May 2012 cyber attack on the Elysee Palace, the official residence of French presidents, and appeared to hint at the possible involvement of Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, a classified internal note from the US National Security Agency suggests.

Extracts from the document, the latest to emerge from the NSA via former contractor Edward Snowden, were published by Le Monde newspaper alongside an article jointly authored by Glenn Greenwald, the US journalist who has been principally responsible for a still-unravelling scandal over large-scale US snooping on individuals and political leaders all over the world.

The document is a briefing note prepared in April this year for NSA officials who were due to meet two senior figures from France's external intelligence agency, the DGSE. The French agents had travelled to Washington to demand explanations over their discovery in May 2012 of attempts to compromise the Elysee's communications systems.

The note says that the branch of the NSA which handles cyber attacks, Tailored Access Operations (TAO), had confirmed that it had not carried out the attack and says that most of its closest allies (Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand) had also denied involvement.

It goes on to note: "TAO intentionally did not ask either Mossad or (Israel's cyber intelligence unit) ISNU whether they were involved as France is not an approved target for joint discussions."
Le Monde interpreted this sentence as being an ironic reference to a strong likelihood that Mossad had been behind the attack.

The cyber attacks on the Elysee took place in the final weeks of Nicolas Sarkozy's term, between the two rounds of the presidential election which he ended up losing to Francois Hollande....."

Al-Jazeera Video: حديث الثورة- الدور الإقليمي لمصر، الفقر في سوريا

Real News Video: US Spies on Its Allies For Business Intel, Not For National Security

Ratner: NSA spied on German and French business communications, which may produce the necessary push back on surveillance state 

More at The Real News

Testing Ennahda’s true colors

Rami G. Khouri
"Tunisia is where the Arab uprisings and revolutions started in December 2010, and Tunisia remains the country to watch closely to see if the promise of those historic developments will one day lead to a credible pluralistic and constitutional democracy. Developments taking place these days have brought Tunisia to the forefront of those countries that are at a critical junction in their transitions and facing important tests related to three core factors: The activism of the citizenry, the true ideology of Islamists and the ability of civil society and opposition forces to channel national politics toward a genuine new democratic era.
I expect Tunisia to succeed in this historic transformation from autocracy to democracy, but such a change will not happen quickly or smoothly, as we know from transitions to democracy across the whole world. Egypt has already shown that progress toward democracy – comprising citizen-based popular legitimacy, self-determination and sovereignty – occurs erratically in those Arab countries that have embarked on such an epic transition. The biggest among several differences between Tunisia and Egypt is that the armed forces in Egypt are deeply and chronically immersed in the conduct of governance, and in fact have directly or indirectly managed the affairs of state since 1952. The armed forces’ current management of the second attempt at a constitutional transition in Egypt mirrors this unfortunate pervasive reality of the modern Arab security state, but it is doubly troubling because of the apparent widespread public support for the armed forces’ open assumption of power once more.
Tunisia is very different in this respect, which allows us to get a better picture of how one country can attempt to manage its autocracy-to-democracy transition by relying primarily on the evolution of, and the balance of power among, the range of political actors in society; these include mainstream Islamists, more fundamentalist Salafists, nationalists, secularists, progressives, remnants of the old guard and civil society organizations.
This week’s dramatic developments have seen large street demonstrations by opposition forces and labor unions that want the Islamist Ennahda-led coalition government to resign and make way for a transitional government of technocrats, as agreed in a national accord negotiated in recent months. Seven policemen were also killed by hard-line takfiri terrorists whose emergence in Tunisia mirrors similar troubling signs across much of the Arab world. The government recently named one of these groups, Ansar al-Shariah, as a terrorist organization and cracked down on them in a big way, including arresting over 300 members. The emergence of political violence on the Tunisian scene, including the assassination of two opposition members earlier this year, is one of the dangers that we can anticipate in situations where a central government does not exercise effective security controls, as has happened in parts of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Egypt.
Prime Minister Ali Larayedh sparked the latest demonstrations when he did not resign as agreed this week, and instead declared Ennahda’s readiness in principle to step down – but only after the completion of the new constitution, the establishment of an electoral commission, and designation of a firm parliamentary election date. Such stalling or back-peddling by Ennahda troubles many Tunisians and other Arabs, who ask whether this Islamist party is truly committed to a democratic culture that reflects the national consensus, or whether it only wants to engage in politics according to its own priorities and rules. This moment will clarify if Ennahda is any more sophisticated or pragmatic than the politically immature Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
This test of Ennahda’s true colors is one of the important developments now taking place. The other is the repeated public expression of the wishes of masses of citizens who insist on completing the transition to constitutional democracy. Demonstrators press Larayedh’s Ennahda-led government both to have it honor its commitment to resign in favor of a technocratic transitional government, but also to express disappointment with Ennahda’s inability to achieve any significant progress on the big issues facing the country, including completing the constitution and the democratic transition, improving the economy or ensuring security. These are the same issues that generated mass public opposition to Mohammad Morsi’s Islamist government in Egypt, which was equally incompetent in governing and was thrown out of power after a year in office.
The Tunisian demonstrations take place exactly two years after the first free and democratic elections were held following the overthrow of former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. They are worth following closely because they affirm what I believe to be the two most significant developments that have occurred in the uprisings era since December 2010: The birth of Arab citizens who assume they have rights and act in a public and political manner to achieve those rights, and the slow emergence of a public political sphere in which all actors can express themselves, engage each other, and vie for power legitimately, peacefully and democratically."

Friday, October 25, 2013

New EU-Phone

Christo Komarnitski, Cagle Cartoons, Bulgaria

Saudi Arabia: End Driving Ban for Women

On October 26, Women Are Set to Defy Prohibition and Drive

"(New York) – Saudi authorities should end the country’s driving ban for women as the “Women2Drive” campaign gathers momentum, Human Rights Watch said today.
Saudi women’s rights activists have called on women with international drivers’ licenses to get behind the wheel on October 26, 2013, as part of the “Women2Drive” campaign to end the prohibition on driving.
“It is hard to believe that in the 21st century, Saudi Arabia is still barring women from driving,” said Rothna Begum, Middle East and North Africa women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It’s past time to address the country’s systemic discrimination; driving could open roads to reform.”
In recent months, women have defied the ban and published online videos of themselves driving the kingdom’s roads, including footage showing Saudi men driving by and giving the thumbs-up sign to show their support. The Ministry of Interior has issued a statement saying that officials will enforce the law on October 26........."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Al-Jazeera Video:تعاقد مصر مع شركة أميركية لتحسين الصورة


The Glover Park Group

(See post below about contract with this PR firm, closely tied to AIPAC, by the Egyptian government of General Sisi to represent Egypt in the US.
Also, see this earlier post (in English) about the same story.)

"Our consultants have taught at leading universities, volunteered in the developing world and served in the military[Including the Israeli]. They have been at the White House podium, on the trading floor and at the news desk. They have counseled CEOs, heads of state and even a few rock stars. Not only do they understand the most complex and demanding issues of our times, they have lived them. Their passion fuels creative thinking that leads to richer solutions for our clients. And it makes it fun to come to work each day.
  • Matthew Beck
  • Arik Ben-Zvi (managing director)
  • Jason Boxt
  • Susan Brophy
  • Joseph Caruso
  • Ryan Cunningham
  • Elizabeth Engel
  • Carter Eskew
  • Michael Feldman
  • Leslie Freeman
  • Jon Gans
  • Brian Gaston
  • ......."

شركة مقربة من إسرائيل للترويج لانقلاب مصر بأميركا

الشركة المتعاقد معها لها صلات باللوبي اليهودي في الولايات المتحدة (الجزيرة)

حصلت الجزيرة على صور لعقد مبرم بين السلطات الحاكمة بمصر وشركة "غلوفر بارك غروب" الأميركية المختصة بالعلاقات العامة، التي تربط كبار مسؤوليها علاقات وثيقة بإسرائيل. وينص العقد على قيام الشركة بالترويج للسلطة الجديدة في مصر وتحسين صورتها في الولايات المتحدة الأميركية.

ويأتي إبرام هذا العقد في أعقاب استطلاع للرأي أجرته الشركة نفسها مؤخرا وأظهر تراجع شعبية السلطة الحاكمة في مصر داخل الولايات المتحدة بـ18 نقطة.

وتربط عددا من كبار مسؤولي هذه الشركة علاقات وطيدة مع إسرائيل واللوبي اليهودي في الولايات المتحدة.

وقالت مراسلة الجزيرة في واشنطن وجد وقفي إن العقد المبرم بين الجانبين (مصر والشركة) وقعه السفير المصري في الولايات المتحدة.

العقد وقعه عن الحكومة المصرية المؤقتة سفير مصر في واشنطن (الجزيرة)

وأضافت أن أهم المهام المنصوص عليها في العقد هو قيام الشركة بتمثيل الحكومة المصرية في واشنطن، بمعنى أن تكون المسؤولة عن الدبلوماسية المصرية العامة، وتمثيلها أمام الإدارة الأميركية والكونغرس ووسائل الإعلام الأميركية والمنظمات الحكومية وغير الحكومية.

كما ينص العقد على أن تشرف الشركة على عمل الحكومة المصرية في تطبيق خريطة الطريق التي أعلنتها سلطات الانقلاب في مصر عقب عزل الرئيس محمد مرسي في الثالث من يوليو/تموز الماضي، بما يتضمنه ذلك من تشكيل تحالفات مع جهات معارضة تعطي للانقلاب شكلا ديمقراطيا، وصولا للانتخابات الرئاسية والنيابية في مصر.

وكشفت مراسلة الجزيرة أن الشركة المذكورة لها علاقات واسعة بإسرائيل واللوبي اليهودي في الولايات المتحدة، الذي يعد من أكبر جماعات الضغط التي تعمل على مراعاة مصالح إسرائيل.

وأوضحت أن أحد كبار مسؤولي هذه الشركة كان ضابطا في الجيش الإسرائيلي، وتخرج من جامعة تل أبيب في العلوم السياسية، كما أن كبار المسؤولين عملوا في منظمة "أيباك" وهي أكبر منظمة يهودية أميركية في الولايات المتحدة.

وقالت المراسلة إن هذه الشركة لها نفوذ كبير جدا على صناع القرار في الولايات المتحدة، كما أنها تمثل شركات أميركية عملاقة مثل كوكاكولا وأبل وبعض كبريات شركات السلاح، في الكونغرس الأميركي، وتمثل كذلك دولا لها سجل سيئ في مجال حقوق الإنسان

General Abdel-Fattah Sisi is No Colonel Gamal Abdel-Nasser

By Hasan Afif El-Hasan
Palestine Chronicle
"Nasser had first-hand experience with the 1948 war in Palestine when he and his infantry battalion were besieged by the Israelis, and he was wounded in a place called Fallouga. The defeat of the Arab armies by Israel, according to Nasser was caused by the corruption of existing Arab order, the monarchies, the regimes of the beys and pashas, the large landlords and the feudalists. The disastrous 1948 war set the stage for the 1952 coup under Nasser by virtue of his war record in Palestine and concern about Egypt that was a British colony.
The 1952 Egyptian military coup was staged by members of the “Free Officers” group under Gamal Abdel-Nasser’s leadership and later on developed into a revolution that established Egypt as an independent state and a major international player. Nasser came at a critical moment in history when Egypt was practically a British colony and the Egyptians were searching for a leader to free their country. Historians describe Nasser as one of the towering political figures of the Middle East in the 20th century. The military coup forced King Farouk to abdicate and sent him and his family aboard a luxurious yacht into exile in the Principality of Monaco. King Farouk was widely condemned by the Egyptian discontent public for his corrupt and ineffectual governance, the British continued occupation of Egypt, the foreign control over the Suez Canal and Egypt’s dismal failure in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Nasser paid the ex-king farewell on his way to exile with an honorary ceremony, and never considered subjecting him to humiliation or trial because Nasser had plans for Egypt that needed all his time and energy. He referred to the Egyptian people including the monarchy supporters, the Pasha class, members of the dominant al-Wafd Party and the land-owners as one family. This is what he described his government in one of his speeches: “It is the government that looks on all Egyptians as one big family.”
Nasser had an ideology, plans, strategy and roadmap for reforming Egypt’s economy and lifting the standards of living for the poor. His government’s most important events in the five years between 1952 and 1957 were the Land Reform and the start of industrialization. Land Reform was the policy on which Nasser based most of his regime legitimacy not only to keep the social peace, but as a means of transferring resources from agriculture to industry. Thus on July 23 1952, immediately after the coup had been successfully carried out peacefully and without firing a shot, its leaders issued a proclamation stated: “The General Headquarters have submitted demands for the promulgation of laws that help raise the standards of people. Foremost among such laws is for the limitation of land-ownership.”
The aims of Land Reform were to raise the standards of living of the peasants and to provide the participation in industrializing the country as an alternative form of investment for the wealthy landed group, who owned most of Egypt’s cultivated land. In a speech given on the second anniversary of the revolution, Nasser restated the aim of his revolution: “…The agrarian reform that has served the farmers has also rendered a service to the Egyptian capitalists…It has guaranteed profits in some cases and has granted many facilities to the capitalists who are willing to start new industry. This is the government of the whole nation, the government of the farmers, the workers, the students, the financiers, the businessmen, the rich and the poor, the weak and the strong, the beginners and those who have attained success..”
Considering how small percentage (3%) of Egypt the area along the Nile River that can be inhabited or cultivated, Nasser was committed to expand the land available for agriculture by building the High Dam project at Aswan and reclaiming part of the surrounding desert. He made an agreement with the Soviets to help reclaiming 300,000 acres in Western Nubaria.
Nasser’s objective was the establishment of heavy ‘strategic’ industries that were the hallmark of the power of the West and the Soviet Union. These would produce the fertilizers, tractors, pumps, etc.. necessary for agricultural modernization. They would also produce basic consumer goods and consumer durables such as steel plates, Aluminum ingots, tubeless pipes, copper cables, and cement for the Egyptians and eventually for exports. Nasser believed that with urbanization, rising income and literacy, the birth rate would fall and the revitalized agricultural sector would feed a stable population. The average Egyptian would have his own dwelling, perhaps even a car. The state then would be able to tax the population’s growing prosperity to generate investment for further growth. That was his vision for Egypt and that would be within Egypt’s grasp at the end of a decade of planned growth. At a later stage, Nasser realized that the private sector was unable to undertake the task of modernization at an accelerated pace because of the lack of private capital and so he ordered the state including the military to take over many industrial functions. Nasser could have made the transition to democracy, ran on his domestic and foreign policy record and won elections, but unfortunately he did not.
Nasser made serious mistakes that contributed to the sad state in Egypt today while trying to implement his vision, but his armed forces never shed Egyptian blood in the streets and squares of Cairo. One of Nasser’s mistakes was surrounding himself with incompetent deputies and creation the template of the strong leader cult that became a model for his successors and for most revolutionary and non-revolutionary regimes in the Middle East. He created a powerful political class at the heart of the regime, the military officers’ class who believed they had been given popular mandate to rule Egypt; and ironically they adopted the lifestyle of the rich, except for Nasser himself who lived a simple lifestyle. His most trusted deputy, Abdel-Hakim Aamer miss-managed the 1958 Egyptian-Syrian merger that came to be known as the United Arab Republic (UAR). The UAR failed and Nasser made another mistake by promoting Aamer to the highest military rank. Aamer was responsible for Egypt’s crushing defeat by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.
Unfortunately, Nasser’s successors including General Sisi climbed to power by exploiting the enduring structure of an authoritarian state under the military that Nasser created, but without having his ambitious plans for improving the lives of the Egyptians.
Supporters of General Sisi, Egypt’s strong man, compare him with Nasser. The military uniform is the only thing in common between the two men. If Nasser is remembered for achieving Egypt’s independence from Britain, taking back the Suez Canal, building the High Dam and carrying out the Land Reform, General Sisi will be remembered for aborting the first democratic experiment in Egypt; for dividing the nation into “We-They” dichotomy based on difference of political views; for being the first Egyptian military general to order his forces to mow down hundreds and wound thousands of peaceful anti coup Egyptian protesters in what is called the August 14 Rabia al-Adawiya and al-Nahda squares massacres. And General Sisi is the first Arab leader to join Israel’s right wing parties by publically declaring contacts with Hamas Party that won the 2006 Palestinian Parliament elections, as acts of treason. General Abdel-Fattah Sisi is no Colonel Gamal Abdel-Nasser"

Israel must drop charges against Palestinian human rights lawyer released on bail

"The Israeli authorities must drop all charges against a Palestinian human rights lawyer released on bail last night, Amnesty International said.
A military judge at Ofer Military Court ordered the release of Anas Bargouthi on bail because confessions from other detainees submitted as evidence failed to prove he is a security threat – particularly since the accusations against him relate to alleged activities from over a year ago.
“The release of Anas Bargouthi is positive news but he should have never been detained and charged in the first place,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.
“It is unacceptable for Israeli authorities to continue to prosecute activists because of their peaceful work in defence of human rights. This release should be a first step towards the authorities ending their harassment of Palestinian human rights defenders.”
Anas Barghouti, a lawyer with the Addameer Association for Prisoner Support and Human Rights, was arrested by the Israeli army on 15 September 2013 at a checkpoint north of Bethlehem in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Nine days later, he was charged with “membership in the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine”, an organization which Israel has banned, and “leadership of a committee to organize demonstrations”. He denies both charges. If convicted on these charges, Anas Barghouti faces up to 18 months in prison. Amnesty International would again consider him to be a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for his work on behalf of prisoners and the peaceful expression of his political views.
The Addameer Association for Prisoner Support and Human Rights provides legal support to Palestinians held by the Palestinian Authority’s security forces and campaigns for the rights of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.
His arrest is part of a pattern of harassment by the Israeli authorities of Palestinian human rights organizations and activists in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which includes arbitrary detentions, restrictions on movement, and raids of homes and offices.
On 11 December 2012, Israeli security forces raided the offices of Addameer and two other Palestinian NGOs in Ramallah, seizing computers, work files and equipment and ransacking the premises.
Addameer’s chair, Abdullatif Ghaith, a resident of East Jerusalem, has been banned by Israel’s military from entering other parts of the occupied West Bank or travelling abroad since 2011.
On 23 September 2013, one week after the arrest of Anas Bargouthi, Israeli forces arrested Samer Arbid, Addameer’s accountant. He was placed in custody for questioning until 21 October, when he was given a four-month administrative detention order.
Administrative detention is detention by military order without charge or trial which can be extended indefinitely.
Another activist from Addameer, Ayman Nasser, was arrested on 15 October 2012 and charged with offences including membership of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and carrying out activities in support of Palestinian prisoners. He was convicted of these charges a month later and spent a year in prison after a trial by military court. He was released on 21 October 2013.
When in detention Ayman Nasser told his lawyer that he had been tortured during interrogation following his arrest. He said that he was interrogated for up to 20 hours every day and that during the interrogation he was kept in a stress position on a chair with his hands tied behind his back."

Al-Jazeera Cartoon

كاريكاتير: 1967 و2013

1967: Arab demagogues threatened to drive Israel into the sea.....

2013: Arab regimes (Syria, Egypt and Libya) are driving Palestinians and Syrians into the sea!

Resisting revolution – with sectarianism

Gulf monarchies stir up religious tensions

By Brian Whitaker

"Although the Arab uprisings have not yet brought down a monarchy, Gulf rulers have been severely shaken by events elsewhere as well as by unprecedented street protests in some of their own countries.
They responded to this in customary fashion, mainly through repression and splashing money around in the hope of buying off discontent. But they are also increasingly deploying another weapon in their anti-revolutionary armoury: sectarianism.

Until now, the role of sectarian discourse in the counter-revolution has not received much attention, though it is discussed in Toby Matthiesen's new book, "Sectarian Gulf: Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the Arab Spring that wasn't". Yesterday, Matthiesen also gave a talk on the subject, organised by the London Middle East Institute.

The purpose of such language, he said, is to spread the idea of a fifth column – "some group that wants to undermine security of the Gulf, a group that 'doesn't want to be part of our nations', etc, etc." It seeks to portray all protests in the Gulf region as inspired by foreign forces and carried out by people who do not represent the mainstream.

Initially, this was directed mainly against the Shia population but, especially during the last year or so, has also been applied to the Muslim Brotherhood in a very similar way: "If you substitute 'Shia' for 'Muslim Brotherhood' in some of the communiques by the ministries of interior or foreign affairs you get almost the same sentences." He continued:

"This double narrative of fifth columns, on the one hand the Shia and on the other hand the Muslim Brotherhood, also led to the massive involvement of the Gulf states across the region in trying to contain the spillover effects of the popular revolutions from Syria via Libya to Egypt.
"The Gulf states tried to deflect tensions that were building up at home towards engagement abroad, and in the case of Syria this is of course very clear. So, while there might be not official support in Saudi Arabia for people going to fight and for money being channelled through indirect channels, on a discursive level and on the main foreign policy level, along with this sectarian narrative it's very clear that the government and the Sunni Islamists in Saudi Arabia are in one line towards Syria."

Matthiesen acknowledged that "sectarianism" is a catch-all term that can obscure more than it reveals:

"We have to really contextualise it – it's different in every country, but at the same time we cannot simply ignore it. 
"If you speak to people living in the region it has become such a dominant discourse that we really need to disentangle it. In the Gulf it has become a tool for regimes to divide opposition movements, and it has largely worked."

Aside from the regimes themselves, Matthiesen said sectarianism has also become a tool for those he describes as identity entrepreneurs ("people who claim to represent one sect or defend it, and then try to make political or economic capital from it").

"[Sectarianism] is similar to ethnic politics and nationalism but it's also different because the emotional aspects of religion are being brought together with the kind of discourses that stem from ethnic politics and nationalism, and some of the key actors are also different – clerics can be key actors – what we have seen in the last two years is that some of the most prominent clerics from both sects across the region [Sunnia and Shia] have started to adopt this narrative, and this is quite a frightening precedent."

Looking toward what might lie ahead, he continued:

"It's quite a grim picture that I'm painting here and I also don't really know what the solution could be, but at the moment the problem is that this kind of sectarian language that is used from Gulf capitals fits into the western and Israeli anti-Iran 'Shia threat' narrative ...
"If we see a real rapprochement with Iran or if we see a negotiated solution in Syria that could lead to an easing of this sectarianism. If we don't see that, however, and this kind of sectarian civil war across the region intensifies and even starts to spread to other countries, then I think the prospects are pretty bleak."

Although Matthiesen's book focuses on the Arab Gulf states, it's clear that the Assad regime has been playing the same card in Syria. Sectarianising the conflict there – and playing on the fears that surround it – has helped to blunt western support for the opposition as well as rallying support for Assad internally.

Sectarian tensions in the Middle East are certainly real but hyping them up and exploiting them for political purposes is a worrying trend. One danger – especially in terms of western foreign policies – is that the threat of sectarianism can easily turn into an excuse for supporting authoritarian regimes.

In a recent paper about the survival prospects of Arab monarchies, for example, Gregory Gause writes:

"More so than in the other monarchies, an American push for real democracy in Bahrain will only exacerbate sectarianism, rather than mitigate it. Real democracy is exactly what the opposition is requesting, but it is exactly what both the Al Khalifa ruling family and many of their supporters in the Sunni minority fear. 
"Real elections anytime soon in Bahrain would simply become a sectarian census, as the first elections in post-Saddam Iraq were, raising rather than lowering temperatures."

Although Gause isn't proposing unqualified support for Gulf regimes, the monarchs would clearly like to present the world (and their own people) with a straight choice between sectarian conflict and stable authoritarian rule. 

They shouldn't be allowed to get away with that, especially when the sectarianism is at least partly of their own manufacture. Nor should we swallow their claims that authoritarianism equals stability. That may have been broadly true in the past but now, even in the Gulf, though, authoritarian rule is no longer a guarantee of stability and it's time to recognise that whether we like it or not, instability is rapidly becoming the new norm."

From Azmi Bishara's Facebook Page

عن التفاوض بدون شروط مسبقة
‎المفكر العربي الدكتور عزمي بشارة‎

 لا يتفاوض خصمان بدون شروط، بل يتحاربان. التفاوض يعني ضمنا الاتفاق على شروط يجري التفاوض على أساسها. من دونها يكون التفاوض عملية خداع واستمرار لفرض ميزان القوى القائم، بما فيه الممارسات على الأرض، اي أن التفاوض لا يكون تفاوضا بل غطاء للمارسات ذاتها. ويكمن الخداع الاساسي في أن الضحية تفقد وضعها كضحية ضد ظالم غير شرعي، وتصبح طرفا من طرفين متنازعين يحظيان بالشرعية ذاتها، و...هنا لا يقرر الحق بل موازين القوى بينهما. التفاوض لا يكون إلا على اساس شروط.
هذا هو الدرس الفلسطيني، ويجب أن يتعلمه الآخرون. ومنهم المعارضة السورية التي يجري حثها بكل الطرق للدخول في مفاوضات من دون شروط مسبقة، سوى معسول الكلام عن عدم معقولة وشرعية الأسد أن يحكم، وهو كلام سيتحول إلى أقل من فقاعات هوائية، إذا فاوضت المعارضة ممثلي الأسد بدون شروط.
والدرس الثاني هو أنه عندما يريد طرف ان يتخلص من عبء قضية عادلة التزم بدعمها فإنه يدفع أصحابها للتفاوض، ولو بدون شروط، فبعد ذلك يمكنه دائما أن يدعي أنه لا حاجة لاتخاذ اي خطوة، لأن كل شيء رهن بالمفاوضات، كما أنه لا أحد يتضامن مع من تحول من ضحية إلى طرف مفاوض. وما دمت تتفاوض فعليك ان تدبر نفسك! وإذا فاوضت بدون شروط فسيكون عليك أن تخضع لموازين القوى القائمة...
ومن هنا لا أحد يفاوض بدون شروط وضمانات وغير ذلك. ولا يكون التفاوض إلا على التفاصيل المتبقية، وعلى الجدول الزمني وكيفية التنفيذ...
عزمي بشارة‬
See More

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

You Have to See This Al-Jazeera Video Showing Maltese Naval Units Trying to Rescue Palestinians and Syrians Forced to Their Death BY ARAB REGIMES (Syria, Egypt and Libya). Arabs Should Hang Their Heads in Shame!

القوات المالطية تبث فيديو لمهاجرين سورين وفلسطنيين


قوارب الموت تحصد ارواح الاجئين الى اروبا

Cartoon by Emad Hajjaj

"How Do You Justify Killing a Grandmother?" Amnesty Says U.S. Drone Strikes May Be War Crimes

Democracy Now!

"Amnesty International has released a major new report on how U.S. drone strikes kill civilians in Pakistan, where it says some deaths may amount to war crimes. The group reviewed 45 drone strikes that have occurred in North Waziristan since January 2012. It found at least 19 civilians were killed in just two of those strikes, despite claims by the Obama administration it is accurately targeting militants. In a separate report, Human Rights Watch criticized U.S. drone strikes in Yemen that have killed civilians. We are joined by Mustafa Qadri, Pakistan researcher at Amnesty International and author of the report, "'Will I be Next?' U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan." Qadri asks: "How do they justify killing a grandmother if these weapons are so precise, if their standards in the policy for using them are very rigorous?" He also clarifies, "It’s not enough that a person is a militant to say that it’s okay to kill them. They have to be taking active part in hostilities to be lawfully targeted, and some other requirements as well."....."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you support Iran's participation in the Geneva 2 conference?

With about 300 responding so far (it is early), 77% said no.

Al-Jazeera Video: هل يحل مؤتمر جنيف أزمة سوريا أم يجهض ثورتها؟

Sectarianism: Redrawing the Map of Middle East

It is an all-out war in the making, and there is no time for neutrality. (Photo: Via Al Jazeera)
It is an all-out war in the making, and there is no time for neutrality. (Photo: Via Al Jazeera)

By Ramzy Baroud

"The warm waters of the Gulf look quiet from where I am sitting in Doha, but such tranquility hardly reflects the conflicts this region continues to generate. The euphoria of the so-called Arab Spring is long gone, but what remains is a region that is rich with resources and burdened with easily manipulated history that is in a state of reckless transition. No one can see what the future will look like, but the possibilities are ample, and possibly tragic.
In my many visits to the region, I have never encountered such a lack of clarity regarding the future, despite the fact that battle lines have been drawn like never before. Governments, intellectuals, sects and whole communities are lining up at both sides of many divides. This is taking place to various degrees everywhere in the Middle East, depending on the location of the conflict.
Some countries are directly engulfed in bloody and defining conflicts — revolutions gone astray, as in Egypt, or uprisings turned into most-destructive civil wars as in Syria. Conversely, those who are for now spared the agony of war, are very much involved in funding various war parties, transporting weapons, training fighters and leading media campaigns in support of one party against another. No such elusive concept as media objectivity exists anymore, not even in relative terms.
Yet in some instances, the lines are not drawn with any degree of certainty either. Within the ranks of Syria’s opposition to the Ba’ath regime in Damascus, the groups are too many to count, and their own alliances shift in ways that few in the media seem to notice or care to report. We arbitrarily write of an ‘opposition’, but in reality there are no truly unifying political or military platforms, whether it be the Supreme Military Council, the Syria National Council or the Syrian National Coalition.
In an interactive map, formulated by Al Jazeera mostly on what seems like wholesale conclusions, the military council “claims it commands about 900 groups and a total of at least 300,000 fighters.”
The claim of actual control over these groups can be easily contended, and there are numerous other groups that operate based on their own agendas, or unified under different military platforms with no allegiance to any political structure, not those in Istanbul or elsewhere.
It is easy however to associate perpetual conflict with the supposedly inherently violent Middle East. For nearly two decades, many warned that American military intervention in Iraq would eventually “destabilize” the entire region. The term “destabilize” was of course a relevant one, since Israel has done more than its fair share to destabilize several countries, occupy some and destroy others. But the prospects of political destabilization were much more ominous when the world’s most powerful country invested much of its might and financial resources to do the job.
In 1990-91, then again in 2003, and once more in 2006, Iraq was used as a giant field of experimentation for war, “state building” and US-provoked civil war. The region had never experienced such division to accommodate sectarian lines as it did then. The discourse that adjoined the US war was brazenly sectarian. They rearranged one of the most complex political landscapes in the world within a few weeks, based on a blueprint imagined by Washington-based ‘experts’ with little real life experience. Not only was Iraq torn into shreds, but it was remade repeatedly to accommodate America’s inept understanding of history.
Iraq continues to suffer, even after the US purportedly withdrew its military. Thousands have perished in Iraq in recent months, with victims labeled as members of one sect or another.
But the Iraqi ailment has now become a regional condition. And like the US when it invades sovereign countries and rearranges political borders, groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) operate wherever they find their calling with no respect for geographical borders.
Formed in Iraq in 2006 as a platform for various Jihadi groups like Al-Qaeda in Iraq, ISIS has been a powerful component of the savage war under way in Syria. The group seems to have little problem finding access and resources. Worse, in parts of Syria it actually operates a somewhat stable economy that gives it greater privilege than homegrown Syrian groups.
Such groups would have never existed in Iraq, or move with relative ease to other countries, if it had not been for the US invasion. They operate like private armies, divided into smaller bands of battle-hardened fighters that are capable of navigating their way through borders and taking control over entire communities. Al-Qaeda, once a barely known group 12-years-ago, has now become a stakeholder in the future of entire Middle Eastern countries.
For countries that are not undergoing the type of upheaval being experienced in Syria and Iraq, they however understand that it is too late to play the role of the spectator.
It is an all-out war in the making, and there is no time for neutrality.
Worrying predictions of the changing physical landscape of the region are well under way and few countries seem to be spared.
Robin Wright’s recent piece in the New York Times, “Imagining a Remapped Middle East” is a typical speculation made by American political and media elites about the Middle East. They applied it in earnest before and after the US invasion of Iraq, where they carved the Arab country into whatever amalgamation that suited US interests, in a typical divide and rule formula. This time however, the prospects are frighteningly serious and real. All the major players, even if ostensibly opposing one another, are in fact contributing to the plausible division. According to Wright, not only could countries become a few smaller ones, some of the carved territories could tie into the cut pieces of neighboring countries.
Even “city-states — oases of multiple identities like Baghdad, well-armed enclaves like Misurata, Libya’s third largest city, or homogeneous zones like Jabal Al-Druze in southern Syria — might make a comeback, even if technically inside countries,” he wrote. The accompanying info-graphic was entitled: “How 5 Countries Could Become 14.”
Whether such events will ever actualize, the prediction is itself telling of the undeniably shifting nature of conflict in the Middle East, where countries are now embroiled in war. The new battle lines are now sectarian, carrying symptoms of Iraq’s relentless civil war. In fact, the players are more or less the same, except that the ‘game’ has now been spread to exceed Iraq’s porous borders into much wider spaces where militants have the upper hand.
From here, the warm waters of the Gulf look quiet, but deceptively so."

When justice is an accomplice to murder

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Friends of Syria?"



Bandar Bush is Throwing a Tantrum: Saudi Arabia set for diplomatic shift away from US

Intelligence chief tells diplomats he plans to limit interaction with US in protest at its policies on Syria, Israel and Iran

  • Prince Bandar bin Sultan
    Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi intelligence chief. Photograph: Hassan Ammar/AFP/Getty Images

    "Saudi Arabia's intelligence chief has said the kingdom will make a "major shift" in dealings with the United States in protest at its perceived inaction over the Syria war and its overtures to Iran, a source close to Saudi policy said on Tuesday.
    Prince Bandar bin Sultan told European diplomats that Washington had failed to act effectively on the Syria crisis and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was growing closer to Tehran and had failed to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it crushed an anti-government revolt in 2011, the source said.
    It was not immediately clear whether Prince Bandar's reported statements had the full backing of King Abdullah.
    "The shift away from the US is a major one[Sure Mr. Bush! Tell us some more!]," the source said. "Saudi doesn't want to find itself any longer in a situation where it is dependent.
    "Prince Bandar told diplomats that he plans to limit interaction with the US. This happens after the US failed to take any effective action on Syria and Palestine. Relations with the US have been deteriorating for a while, as Saudi feels that the US is growing closer with Iran and the US also failed to support Saudi during the Bahrain uprising."
    The source declined to provide more details of Bandar's talks with the diplomats, which took place in the past few days. But he suggested that the planned change in relations would have wide-ranging consequences, including on arms purchases and oil sales."

    The Syrian Regime Goes to Geneva 2, by Emad Hajjaj

    اضغط على الكاريكاتير لإرساله إلى صديق!

    مصر إلى المجهول وخارج التاريخ

    مشكلة مصر الآن أنها تتحرك في مسار خارج التاريخ، ويُخشى أن تجر العالم العربي وراءها في نهاية المطاف.
    من يطالع الصحف المصرية هذه الأيام ويتابع تصريحات السياسيين التي باتت تتنافس في مغازلة المؤسسة العسكرية والمزايدة على دورها، ربما لا يخطر على باله أن عناوين الصحف وتعليقات محرريها وتصريحات أهل السياسة تكاد تكون صورة طبق الأصل مما كان يتردد في تركيا قبل نصف قرن تقريبا.
    ذلك أن أي قارئ لتاريخ عسكرة المجتمع التركي يلاحظ أن الأصوات الداعية إلى تدخل القوات المسلحة لإنقاذ البلد من الفوضى والانهيار كانت تتردد عالية عند كل أزمة سياسية.
    المتابع لصحف مصر ومغازلة سياسييها للمؤسسة العسكرية والمزايدة على دورها، ربما لا يخطر على باله أن عناوين الصحف وتعليقات محرريها وتصريحات أهل السياسة تكاد تكون صورة طبق الأصل مما كان يتردد في تركيا قبل نصف قرن تقريبا
    وفي ظل هشاشة الوضع السياسي وضعفه فإن الجميع كانوا يعتبرون الجيش هو المخلّص والمنقذ، وقد كان له رصيده الذي يسمح له بذلك، لأنه أنقذ البلد من الاحتلال إبان الحرب العالمية الأولى، وهو الذي أسس الجمهورية، وقاد عملية تحديث الدولة، وهي الخلفية التي ظلت توظف لصالح عسكرة المجتمع منذ تأسيس الجمهورية في عشرينيات القرن الماضي، ولنحو ثمانين سنة لاحقة بعد ذلك.

    السيناريو المكرر والمحفوظ كانت فصوله تتابع على النحو التالي: الأحزاب الضعيفة تفشل في إدارة الدولة، ترتفع الأصوات داعية إلى قيام الجيش بدور المنقذ، الجيش يقدم إنذارا للحكومة لكي تتحمل مسؤوليتها، بعد الإنذار يعلن الجيش الانقلاب ويتولى إدارة البلاد وترتيب الأوضاع المنفلتة.

    ولا تكاد تستمر بضع سنوات (عشر في الأغلب) حتى تتكرر الأزمة وتتردد الأصوات والدعوات ذاتها، ثم يتقدم الجيش بإنذاره الذي يعقبه التدخل لاستلام السلطة باعتباره المؤسسة الوحيدة المنضبطة والمتماسكة، والتي تمتلك قوة السلاح على الأرض.

    وهذا ما تكرر مع الانقلابات التي توالت عام 1960، ثم عام 1971 وعام 1980، وصولا إلى انقلاب عام 1997 الذي وصف بأنه انقلاب ناعم، أو ما بعد حداثي.

    وكانت نقطة الانطلاق في كل تلك الانقلابات أن الجيش اعتبر نفسه مسؤولا عن حماية مبادئ الجمهورية التركية إلى جانب وظيفته في حماية الوطن.

    وبمقتضى تلك المسؤولية فإنه فرض نفسه وصيا على المجتمع، وقد قنن دستور عام 1982 تلك الوصاية التي باشرها مجلس الأمن الوطني الذي شكل مكاتب استشارية لمختلف شؤون البلاد العسكرية والسياسية والأمنية والاقتصادية والثقافية والإعلامية وغيرها.

    وقد جرى استنفار المؤسسة العسكرية بعد انتخابات عام 1995 التي حققت فوزا نسبيا لحزب الرفاة ذي الخلفية الإسلامية، مما أدى إلى تشكيل حكومة ائتلافية مع حزب الطريق القويم، رأسها آنذاك زعيم الرفاه نجم الدين أربكان، فردت القيادة العسكرية باستنهاض أصابعها المنتشرة في مفاصل الدولة وسلطة القرار، إلى أن أجبرت أربكان على الاستقالة من منصبه في عام 1997.
    الرياح التي تهب على مصر منذ عزل محمد مرسي تمضي في ذات الاتجاه المعاكس للتاريخ، ذلك أنه بعد إنهاء مهمة المجلس العسكري في عام 2012، وانتعاش الآمال التي علقت على إمكانية التحول الديمقراطي وإقامة مؤسسات إدارة المجتمع، تبدد ذلك كله في الثالث من يوليو/تموز الماضي، بعدما تم عزل الرئيس المنتخب، وجمِّد الدستور وحُل مجلس الشورى وغيره من المجالس التي كان قد تم تشكيلها، وبدا الاتجاه واضحا في المراهنة على المؤسسة العسكرية وتعزيز قوة الدولة في مواجهة المجتمع.

    وفي هذه الأجواء جرى الإعداد لاستصدار دستور جديد من خلال مجموعة مختارة وليست منتخبة، وأصبحت المؤسسة العسكرية بحكم الأمر الواقع هي مصدر السلطات وصاحبة القرار في تشكيل الوضع المستجد.
    مصدر عسكري: ظروف مصر لا تسمح بتسليم الجيش لرئيس لا نعرفه، والمنطقي ألا يفقد الشعب السلاح الذي يملكه وهو جيشه الوطني، ولا نريد أن نواجه احتمال أن يصل شخص متنكر في زي مدنى إلى الرئاسة، ويعين من يشاء وزيرا للدفاع
    وفي ذلك فإنها لم تفرض نفسها على المجتمع ولكن الذي حدث أن خطاها لقيت تأييدا وترحيبا من النخب والقوى المدنية باختلاف توجهاتها، الليبرالية والقومية واليسارية، وكانت وسائل الإعلام هي القوة الضاربة، التي نجحت في "تصنيع الموافقة" على حد تعبير تشومسكي، حين استثمرت إخفاقات حكم محمد مرسي في تعبئة الجماهير وتحريضها ضد نظامه، ووقوفها بالتالي إلى جانب معسكر المراهنة على المؤسسة العسكرية.

    في ظل الوضع المستجد أصبح الفريق عبد الفتاح السيسي وزير الدفاع والقائد العام للقوات المسلحة هو مرشح رئاسة الجمهورية الذي التفت حوله القوى المدنية، واكتسب حضور القوات المسلحة في اللجنة المعنية بوضع الدستور أهمية خاصة، حيث أثير لغط حول حصانة وزير الدفاع واشتراط موافقة المجلس الأعلى للقوات المسلحة على تعيينه، الأمر الذي يسحب تلك السلطة من رئيس الدولة أو رئيس الحكومة.

    وكحل وسط اقترحت فكرة تطبيق ذلك المبدأ خلال فترة انتقالية تتراوح بين عشر واثنتي عشرة سنة، وجرى التمسك بمبدأ محاكمة المدنيين أمام المحاكم العسكرية، التي هي ليست محاكم مستقلة أصلا، لكنها خاضعة لأمر وزير الدفاع.

    في هذه الأجواء قرأنا في جريدة "الشروق" (عدد 5/10) تصريحات مهمة لمصدر عسكري ذكر رئيس تحرير الجريدة أنه قريب من المؤسسة العسكرية، وركز في تصريحاته على ما يلى:

    - إن خبرة السنوات الأخيرة أثبتت للجميع أن الجيش هو القوة الوحيدة الموجودة على أرض مصر في الوقت الراهن ولفترة مقبلة، وذلك بسبب ضعف معظم الأحزاب السياسية المدنية، وبالتالي لابد أن نعطي هذا الجيش أدوات تساعده على حفظ البلاد، كي لا تصبح فريسة لأى تنظيم أو جماعة منظمة تريد تغيير هوية مصر بأكملها.

    - إن ظروف مصر لا تسمح بتسليم الجيش لرئيس لا نعرفه، والمنطقي ألا يفقد الشعب السلاح الذي يملكه وهو جيشه الوطني، ولا نريد أن نواجه احتمال أن يصل شخص متنكر في زي مدنى إلى الرئاسة، ويعين من يشاء وزيرا للدفاع، الأمر الذي قد ينتهي بتغيير هوية الجيش، لأن ذلك الوزير سيتولى تعيين قادة الأفرع والمناطق والجيوش. وهو ما قد يصل بنا إلى تغيير وضع القوات المسلحة لكي تتحول من مؤسسة وطنية جامعة إلى مليشيا خاصة لجماعة أو حزب.

    لم تذكر جريدة "الشروق" أن المصدر العسكري يتحدث باسم القوات المسلحة، لكنه عند الحد الأدنى يعبر عن مدرسة أو تيار داخل القوات المسلحة يعتبر أن الجيش هو القوة الوحيدة والسلطة الأعلى في الساحة السياسية المصرية، ثم من موقفه المعارض لتجربة الإخوان وكل ما يشغله هو تجنب تكرار تلك التجربة، بدعوى أنها يمكن أن تؤثر على هوية القوات المسلحة، أما هوية الوطن ومصالحه العليا فهي مسألة في المرتبة التالية من الأهمية.
    حين يستمر تمدد المؤسسة العسكرية في الفراغ السياسي الراهن ويتصاعد دورها على نحو لم تعد تخطئه عين، فذلك يعني أن مصر صارت تتحرك خارج مجرى التاريخ.

    عند الحد الأدنى فهو يعني أن حلم الدولة المدنية الديمقراطية الذي تطلعت إليه ثورة 25 يناير في حالة تراجع وانحسار بحيث لا تكاد توحى المقدمات الملموسة بإمكانية تحقيق شيء منه في الأجل المنظور.

    إن البناء الذي تجري إقامته الآن في مصر يعاني من خلل فادح في موازين القوة وفي الرؤى، ذلك أنه يتم في ظل قوة وهيمنة المؤسسة العسكرية، وفي ظل مؤسسات مختارة من فئات لا يجمع بينها سوى رفض الإخوان ومخاصمتهم، وهؤلاء يمثلون جماعات سياسية هشة لا جمهور لها، حتى باتت تستمد شرعيتها من الاستناد إلى قوة المؤسسة العسكرية والتعلق بأهدابها.

    وذلك يمثل جوهر الأزمة السياسية في مصر الراهنة، ذلك أن هذا البلد الكبير لا يستطيع أن يقيم بناءه على أساس من تحالف الليبراليين مع العسكر، ولا يستطيع أن يقيم مشروعه على مجرد فكرة إقصاء الإخوان ومواصلة الحرب ضد الإرهاب، وهو ما لاحظته تحليلات غربية عدة ما فتئت تتحدث عن أن مصر تتجه نحو المجهول بعدما تراجع وزنها السياسي وما عاد لها دور يُذكر في الشأن الإقليمي.
    إن البناء الذي تجري إقامته الآن في مصر يعاني من خلل فادح في موازين القوة وفي الرؤى، ذلك أنه يتم في ظل قوة وهيمنة المؤسسة العسكرية، وفي ظل مؤسسات مختارة من فئات لا يجمع بينها سوى رفض الإخوان ومخاصمتهم
    ليس ذلك فحسب، ولكن مصر في ضعفها تجد نفسها مستسلمة لمخططات التعاون الأمني وغير الأمني مع إسرائيل خصوصا أن المؤسسة العسكرية تعد أبرز أركان اتفاقية كامب ديفيد.

    وربما دفعها المأزق الدولي الذي تواجهه إلى مزيد من التقارب والتفاعل مع إسرائيل، التي يُعد النظام الحالي طرفا مريحا ومطمئنا لها، بعكس نظام الرئيس مرسي الذي كانت تتوجس منه ولا تطمئن إليه.

    هذا الضعف ذاته المقترن بالحيرة والبلبلة التي تعانى منها الرؤية الإستراتيجية للوضع المستجد، دفع مصر إلى الارتماء في أحضان تحالفات عربية مخاصمة للربيع في مجمله ولها ارتباطاتها وولاءاتها التي تتعارض مع أهداف الثورة وأشواق الجماهير العربية.

    وحين يحدث ذلك في حين تتعرض المنطقة العربية لهزات كبرى من شأنها إعادة رسم خرائطها وإخضاعها لمشروعات التفتيت والتقسيم، فإن ذلك يكشف عن فداحة الثمن الذي يمكن أن يدفعه العالم العربي جراء الهزة والانتكاسة التي حلت بمصر.
    ليست الصورة محبطة بالكامل، لأن الصدمات والهزات التي تعاني منها أنظمة الربيع العربي تكاد تكون محصورة في الجزء الظاهر من تجليات ذلك الربيع، لكن هناك جزءا غاطسا منه لم يفقد حيويته بعد.

    وكنت ممن سبق لهم القول إن الربيع في حقيقته هو تحول تاريخي في بنية الإنسان العربي الذي بات ينشد التغيير وأعلن رفضه للظلم السياسي والاجتماعي الذي فرضته عليه الأنظمة.

    وهذا الذي عبرت عنه سجله تقرير لصحيفة نيويورك تايمز في تقرير نشرته في 18 أكتوبر/تشرين الأول الحالي تحدث عن مظاهر الحراك الجماهيري المسكوت عليه الذي تشهده دول الخليج العربي جميعها، وفي المقدمة منها المملكة العربية السعودية ودولة الإمارات العربية.

    وقد كتب التقرير أحد أساتذة العلوم السياسية في جامعة دورهام البريطانية، كريستوفر دافيدسون، وتخير له عنوانا دالا هو: نهاية المشيخات.

    إن مصر إذ تخسر نفسها بأدائها الراهن، فإنها قد تسحب معها العالم العربي أيضا، لكنها وهي تقف خارج مجرى التاريخ، لن تستطيع أن توقف عجلة التاريخ، وتلك من سُنَن الله في الكون، التي عبر عنها النص القرآني القائل "وإن تتولوا يستبدل قوما غيركم، ثم لا يكونوا أمثالكم" (الآية 38 من سورة محمد).

    US: Reassess Targeted Killings in Yemen

    Inquiry into 6 Airstrikes Finds Violations, Harm to Civilians

    "United States targeted airstrikes against alleged terrorists in Yemen have killed civilians in violation of international law, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The strikes, often using armed drones, are creating a public backlash that undermines US efforts against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
    The 102-page report, ‘Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda’: The Civilian Cost of US Targeted Killings in Yemen,”examines six US targeted killings in Yemen, one from 2009 and the rest from 2012-2013. Two of the attacks killed civilians indiscriminately in clear violation of the laws of war; the others may have targeted people who were not legitimate military objectives or caused disproportionate civilian deaths.
    “The US says it is taking all possible precautions during targeted killings, but it has unlawfully killed civilians and struck questionable military targets in Yemen,” said Letta Tayler, senior terrorism and counterterrorism researcher at Human Rights Watch and the author of the report. “Yemenis told us that these strikes make them fear the US as much as they fear Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.”

    Human Rights Watch released “‘Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda’” in a joint news conference on October 22, 2013, with Amnesty International, which issued its own report on US drone strikes in Pakistan.


    US strikes in Yemen have killed dozens of civilians, says report

    Human Rights Watch says 57 civilians have been killed in six attacks that 'clearly or possibly' violated international law,
    22 October 2013 03.16 EDT
    People gather at the site of a drone strike in southern Yemen
    People gather at the site of a drone strike in southern Yemen. Photograph: Stringer/REUTERS

    "US missile strikes, including armed drone attacks, have killed dozens of civilians in Yemen as the United States tries to crack down on al-Qaida in the country, a prominent human rights organisation said on Tuesday.
    Human Rights Watch detailed in a 96-page report what it said were six "unacknowledged" US military attacks on targets in Yemen, which either clearly, or possibly, violated international law.
    Eighty-two people, 57 of whom were civilians, were killed during the six attacks studied by the group. One of the incidents occurred in 2009 and the other five happened in 2012-2013.
    The Human Rights Watch report came as Amnesty International issued a report on US drone strikes in Pakistan.

    Two strikes in Yemen - one in September 2012 and the other in December 2009 - caused what Human Rights Watch said were the largest numbers of civilian casualties.
    On 2 September 2012, as two US drones flew above the target area, either two additional drones or two warplanes attacked a vehicle travelling north from the central Yemeni city of Radaa.
    That attack killed 12 passengers in the vehicle, including three children and a pregnant woman, in violation of a law of war prohibiting attacks that do not discriminate between civilians and combatants, Human Rights Watch said.
    The group said the apparent target of the raid was a tribal leader named Abd al-Raouf al-Dahab. He was not in the vehicle when it was attacked and that it was not clear that he was a member of al-Qaida's Yemeni affiliate, known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
    Of the six cases it studied, Human Rights Watch said at least four of the strikes were carried out by missile-firing drones. A fifth was carried out either by drones or planes, and the sixth by cruise missiles that the group said released cluster bombs.
    On 17 December 2009, an attack by as many as five US navy cruise missiles struck a Yemeni hamlet, killing what the Yemeni government initially described as 34 terrorists at a training camp.
    However, Human Rights Watch said a Yemeni government inquiry later established that although 14 fighters for al-Qaida's Yemeni affiliate were killed in the attack, so were at least 41 civilians, including nine women and 21 children.

    Dispatches: Who is Saudi Arabia attempting to fool?

    Liesl Gerntholtz
    (Executive Director, Women's Rights Division, Human Rights Watch)

    "When the Saudi government came before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva today, no one was surprised that its record on women’s rights was severely criticized. What was surprising, however, was a statement by Dr. Bandar al-Aiban, the head of the governmental Saudi Human Rights Commission, who said that Saudi women do not face systemic discrimination in the Kingdom.  Saudi women were full citizens able to dispose of their property and manage their affairs without seeking permission from anyone, he said. So what happened to the male guardianship system? 

    A 2008 Human Rights Watch report documents how this system, grounded in the most restrictive
    interpretation of an ambiguous Quranic verse,  prevents women from conducting official government business, travelling abroad, marrying, pursuing higher education, or even undergoing certain medical procedures without  permission from their male guardians—a husband, father, brother, or even a young son. They are banned from driving.

    The system reduces women to the status of children, unable to make important decisions about their lives. Despite the apparent lack of written legal provisions or official decrees explicitly mandating male guardianship, the Saudi government uses a complex arsenal of laws, policies and informal mechanisms to enforce this oppressive system. In the face of many calls to end male guardianship, including at   today’s council session in Geneva, the Saudi government has tinkered around its edges, but has so far declined to unequivocally dismantle the system. In fact, it continues to play a central role in enforcing it, with the support of the religious establishment. In doing so, the Saudi government chooses to ignore not only international law but elements of the Islamic legal tradition that support equality between men and women.
    It’s really hard to see how Dr. al-Aiban can argue that Saudi women are full citizens of the Kingdom, when the evidence is clear that they are not."

    Monday, October 21, 2013

    Spread of Sectarianism in Egypt: gunmen open fire at Coptic Christian wedding in Cairo

    Four people, including an eight-year-old girl, killed in suspected sectarian attack on minority which makes up 10% of population

    in Cairo,

    عائلة طبيب مصري انقذ عائلة يهودية من المحرقة ترفض تسلم شهادة تقدير اسرائيلية

    عرب 48

    "رفضت عائلة الدكتور المصري محمد حلمي تسلم شهادة شرف من مؤسسة "ياد فشيم" الاسرائيلية لتخليد ذكرى ضحايا المحرقة النازية والتي منحت له من قبل المؤسسة المذكورة تقديرا لجهوده في انقاذ عائلة يهودية من الموت خلال اقامته في برلين.
    وقالت قريبة الدكتور حلمي التي نجحت وكالة "أيي بي" بمساعدة مؤرخة المانية في العثور عليها، قالت، كنا لنكون سعداء لو منحت شهادة الشرف من أي دولة اخرى غير اسرائيل.

    صحيفة "هارتس" التي اوردت النبأ في موقعها على الشبكة ، اليوم الاثنين، أفادت ان الطبيب المصري الذي عاش في برلين خلال الحرب العالمية الثانية، هو واحد من 25 الف انسان من 44 دولة وقومية، منحوا هذه الشهادة من مؤسسة "ياد فشيم" وان المؤسسة التي منحته الشهادة الشهر الماضي، اعلنت انها تبحث عن اقرباء له ليتسلموا الشهادة باسمه.

    ونجحت وكالة الصحافة "ايي بي" في العثور على احدى قريبات العائلة في القاهرة وهي مرفت حسان (66 عاما)، التي قالت للوكالة ان العائلة غير معنية بتسلم الشهادة المذكورة، مشيرة انها تحترم اليهودية كديانة وتحترم اليهود وان الدكتور حلمي لم يكن يميز بين قومية ودين في مد يد العون للاخرين وانه اهتم بمرضاه دون النظر الى انتماءاتهم.

    وكان الدكتور محمد حلمي الذي ولد في الخرطوم لأب مصري وام المانية عام 1901 ، قد انتقل للسكن في برلين عام 1922 لدراسة الطب وعمل في هذا المجال حتى عام 1938 ،حيث سحبت سلطات المانية النازية رخصته، لأنه لا ينتمي للجنس الاري ورغم ملاحقته من قبل النظام النازي فقد كان من اشد منتقديه وخاطر بحياته لانقاذ يهود.

    وحسب معلومات مؤسسة "ياد فشيم" فان د, حلمي وفر ملجأ ل انا غوطمان من بيت بوروس، التي كانت صديقة العائلة وتبلغ من العمر 21 عاما. وبعد الحرب كتبت انا، " د. حلمي خبأني في مزله في برلين من 10 اذار 1942 وحتى انتهاء المعلرك وفي كثير من الاحيان نقلني في فترات الخطر للاقامة لدى معارف له، حيث كان يقدمني لهم على اني ابنة اخته من دزدران ... لقد فعل د. حلمي ذلك من قلب رحيم وسأبقى شاكرة له الى الابد".
    ياد فشيم افادت، ان د. حلمي ساعد أيضا والدة ووالد انا يوليا وجورج واهر وجدتها سسيليا رودنيك وقام خلال فترة الحرب بتقديم العناية الطبية والادوية لهم عند الحاجة.

    يشار ان د. حلمي تزوج بعد الحرب من أيمي الا انهما لم ينجبا اولادا وبقيا في المانيا حتى مماتهما، حيث  توفي هو عام 1982 وتوفيت زوجته عام 1998 .

    هذا وفي اعقاب رفض قريبة الدكتور حلمي المذكورة تسلم الشهادة، توجهت مؤسسة "ياد فشيم" الى السفارة المصرية للبحث عن اقارب اخرين مستعدين لتسلم الشهادة وفي حال لم يبسنى ذلك  فان شهادة الشرف لن تمس، كما افادت المؤسسة صحيفة "هارتس".


    Tunisia: Rapper Acquitted After 3 Weeks in Prison

    Crime of ‘Insulting Public Officials’ Should be Abolished

    "(Tunis) – An appeals court on October 17, 2013, overturned the conviction of a rapper on charges of “insulting the police”. But Tunisian legislators should abolish laws that criminalize defamation and “insulting” state officials and institutions.

    A district court had sentenced the rapper, Klay BBJ, to six months in prison for performing lyrics it deemed “insulting” at a summer music festival. Laws criminalizing peaceful criticism and even “insults” to public officials and institutions violate international standards on freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said.

    “It’s great to see Klay BBJ free, but meanwhile he spent three weeks in prison and never should have been charged in the first place,” said EricGoldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Tunisia needs to stop arresting people for offending government officials or institutions and get rid of the laws that criminalize that kind of criticism.”

    Since the Tunisian revolution in 2011, authorities have repeatedly used these and other repressive laws of the previous government to prosecute speech they consider objectionable. The National Constituent Assembly, which is also the legislature, has made no move to abolish these laws.

    During the appeal before the Grombalia First Instance Court, the defense argued that Klay BBJ had not insulted the police and that in any event,his song is an artistic creation protected by the right to freedom of expression under Tunisian and international law. The defense also said that the penal code article on insulting a public servant applies only to insults to individuals, whereas the song addresses the police as an institution. The court will announce its reasoning for overturning the conviction when it publishes its judgment...."