Saturday, October 8, 2016

Amid Syrian chaos, Iran’s game plan emerges: a path to the Mediterranean

Militias controlled by Tehran are poised to complete a land corridor that would give Iran huge power in the region

The Guardian


Not far from Mosul, a large military force is finalising plans for an advance that has been more than three decades in the making. The troops are Shia militiamen who have fought against the Islamic State, but they have not been given a direct role in the coming attack to free Iraq’s second city from its clutches.
Instead, while the Iraqi army attacks Mosul from the south, the militias will take up a blocking position to the west, stopping Isis forces from fleeing towards their last redoubt of Raqqa in Syria. Their absence is aimed at reassuring the Sunni Muslims of Mosul that the imminent recapture of the city is not a sectarian push against them. However, among Iraq’s Shia-dominated army the militia’s decision to remain aloof from the battle of Mosul is being seen as a rebuff.
Yet among the militias’ backers in Iran there is little concern. Since their inception, the Shia irregulars have made their name on the battlefields of Iraq, but they have always been central to Tehran’s ambitions elsewhere. By not helping to retake Mosul, the militias are free to drive one of its most coveted projects – securing an arc of influence across Iraqand Syria that would end at the Mediterranean Sea.
The strip of land to the west of Mosul in which the militias will operate is essential to that goal. After 12 years of conflict in Iraq and an even more savage conflict in Syria, Iran is now closer than ever to securing a land corridor that will anchor it in the region – and potentially transform the Islamic Republic’s presence on Arab lands. “They have been working extremely hard on this,” said a European official who has monitored Iran’s role in both wars for the past five years. “This is a matter of pride for them on one hand and pragmatism on the other. They will be able to move people and supplies between the Mediterranean and Tehran whenever they want, and they will do so along safe routes that are secured by their people, or their proxies.”
Interviews during the past four months with regional officials, influential Iraqis and residents of northern Syria have established that the land corridor has slowly taken shape since 2014. It is a complex route that weaves across Arab Iraq, through the Kurdish north, into Kurdish north-eastern Syria and through the battlefields north of Aleppo, where Iran and its allies are prevailing on the ground. It has been assembled under the noses of friend and foe, the latter of which has begun to sound the alarm in recent weeks. Turkey has been especially opposed, fearful of what such a development means for Iran’s relationship with the PKK (the Kurdistan Workers’ party), the restive Kurds in its midst, on whom much of the plan hinges.
The plan has been coordinated by senior government and security officials in Tehran, Baghdad and Damascus, all of whom defer to the head of the spearhead of Iran’s foreign policy, the Quds force of the Revolutionary Guards, headed by Major General Qassem Suleimani, who has run Iran’s wars in Syria and Iraq. It involves demographic shifts, which have already taken place in central Iraq and are under way in northern Syria. And it relies heavily on the support of a range of allies, who are not necessarily aware of the entirety of the project but have a developed vested interest in securing separate legs.
Maj Gen Qassem Suleimani
 Maj Gen Qassem Suleimani, head of Iran’s all-powerful Quds force. Photograph: HO/AFP/Getty Images
The corridor starts at the entry points that Iran has used to send supplies and manpower into Iraq over the past 12 years. They are the same routes that were used by the Quds force to run a guerrilla war against US forces when they occupied the country – a campaign fought by the same Iraqi militias that have since been immersed in the fight against Isis.
The groups, Asa’ib ahl al-Haq, Keta’ib Hezbollah and their offshoots, accounted for close to 25% of all US battlefield casualties, senior US officials have said. They have become even more influential since US forces left the country. And in one of modern warfare’s starkest ironies, in the two years since US troops have returned to Iraq to fight Isis they have at times fought under US air cover.
The route crosses through Baquba, the capital of Diyala province, around 60 miles north of Baghdad. A mixed Sunni/Shia area for hundreds of years, Diyala became one of the main sectarian flashpoint areas during Iraq’s civil war. Along roads that have been secured by militias, which are known locally as “popular mobilisation units”, it then moves northwest into areas that were occupied by Isis as recently as several months ago.
The town of Shirqat in Salaheddin province is one important area. It was taken by militias along with Iraqi forces on 22 September, delivering another blow to the terrorist group and an important boost to Iran’s ambitions.
The militias are now present in large numbers in Shirqat and readying to move towards the western edge of Mosul, to a point around 50 miles southeast of Sinjar, which – at this point – is the next leg in the corridor. Between the militia forces and Sinjar is the town of Tal Afar, an Isis stronghold, which has been a historical home of both Sunni and Shia Turkmen – ancestral kin of Turkey.
A senior intelligence official said the leg between Tel Afar and Sinjar is essential to the plan. Sinjar is an ancestral home to the Yazidi population, which was forced to flee in August 2014 after Isis invaded the city, killing all the men it could find and enslaving women. It was recaptured by Iraqi Kurdish forces last November. And ever since PKK forces from across the Syrian border have taken up residence in the city and across the giant monolith, Mt Sinjar, behind it. The PKK fighters are being paid by the Iraqi government and have been incorporated into the popular mobilisation units. Iraqi and western intelligence officials say the move was approved by Iraq’s national security adviser, Falah Fayadh.
An influential Iraqi tribal sheikh, Abdulrahim al-Shammari, emerges as a central figure further to the north. He has a power base near the Rabia crossing into Syria, receives support from the popular mobilisation units and is close to the Assad regime in Damascus. “I believe that in our area Iran does not have very much influence,” he told the Observer in Baghdad. “There is nobody here, no major power that is helping us with weapons. Ideologically speaking, the PKK is affiliated with the Kurds of this area, so there is no problem having them here.”
From the Rabia crossing, the mooted route goes past the towns of Qamishli and Kobani towards Irfin, which are all controlled by the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia. Throughout the war the YPG (People’s Protection Units) has hedged its bets, at times allying with the US against Isis, and at other times siding with the Syrian regime. “Iran thinks it has them where it wants them now,” said the European source. “I’m not sure it has gauged the Turks correctly, though.”
A fighter in Sinjar
 A fighter sits on a balcony in Sinjar, Iraq after the town was retaken from Isis by Kurdish-led forces. Photograph: Cengiz Yar for the Guardian
Of all the points between Tehran and the Syrian coast, Aleppo has concentrated Iran’s energies more than anywhere else. Up to 6,000 militia members, mostly from Iraq, have congregated there ahead of a move to take the rebel-held east of the city, which could begin around the same time as the assault on Mosul.
Those who have observed Suleimani up close as he inspects the frontlines in Syria and Iraq, or in meetings in Damascus and Baghdad, where he projects his immense power through studied calm, say he has invested everything in Syria – and in ensuring that Iran emerges from a brutal, expensive war with its ambitions enhanced. “If we lose Syria, we lose Tehran,” Suleimani told the late Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi in 2014. Chalabi told the Observer at the time that Suleimani had added: “We will turn all this chaos into an opportunity.”
Securing Aleppo would be an important leg in the corridor, which would run past two villages to the north that have historically been in Shia hands. From there, a senior Syrian official, and Iraqi officials in Baghdad, said it would run towards the outskirts of Syria’s fourth city, Homs, then move north through the Alawite heartland of Syria, which a year of Russian airpower has again made safe for Assad. Iran’s hard-won road ends at the port of Latakia, which has remained firmly in regime hands throughout the war.
Ali Khedery, who advised all US ambassadors to Iraq and four commanders of Centcom in 2003-11 said securing a Mediterranean link would be seen as a strategic triumph in Iran. “It signifies the consolidation of Iran’s control over Iraq and the Levant, which in turn confirms their hegemonic regional ambitions,” he said. “That should trouble every western leader and our regional allies because this will further embolden Iran to continue expanding, likely into the Gulf countries next, a goal they have explicitly and repeatedly articulated. Why should we expect them to stop if they’ve been at the casino, doubling their money over and over again, for a decade?”

د.عزمي بشارة يفتتح مؤتمر الجيش والسياسة في مرحلة التحول الديمقراطي في الوطن العربي بالدوحة

Thursday, October 6, 2016

الجيش السوري.. من حُماة للديار إلى حماة للأسد ونظامه

لماذا تتجاهل واشنطن تحدّيات موسكو؟

رأي القدس



تشبه القرارات والتصريحات الروسية الأخيرة ضربات خاطفة تعلن تحديات متصاعدة ضد سياسة الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية وحلفائها في العالم فأثناء إرسالها المدمرتين سيربوخوف وزيليوني عبر تركيا نحو الساحل السوري وإلحاقها بالسفينة الصاروخية ميراج، ونشرها منظومة صواريخ متطوّرة واستقدامها طائرات مقاتلة جديدة، ألغت موسكو اتفاقيتها مع واشنطن حول التخلص من البلوتونيوم الصالح لصناعة الأسلحة وبعدها ألغت اتفاقية أخرى حول البحث النووي، وحذرت واشنطن من أن أي هجوم على المناطق الخاضعة للنظام السوري سيعتبر هجوما على قواتها وأن طواقمها لن يكون لديها الوقت الكافي لرصد مسارات الصواريخ ومن أي اتجاه تم إطلاقها.
في الوقت نفسه كان وزير الدفاع الروسي سيرغي شويغو يتفاخر أن الحملة في سوريا أثبتت فاعلية الأسلحة الروسية وبأن الكرملين ساعد في استقرار الوضع في البلد، من دون أن يذكر، دليلاً على كلامه طبعاً، أن عدد القتلى الذين حصدتهم آلته العسكرية خلال سنة من التدخل الروسي كان أكثر من عشرة آلاف سوري بينهم مئات الأطفال.
على جبهة واشنطن التي يفترض أن الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين يتحدّاها شهدنا اتصالا من وزير الخارجية الأمريكي جون كيري بنظيره الروسي سيرغي لافروف أمس (وذلك بعد إعلان واشنطن تعليق المباحثات بشأن سوريا)، كما قرأنا خبرا عن أن الرئيس الأمريكي باراك أوباما يدرس فرض عقوبات جديدة على النظام السوري، وأنه اجتمع مع مجلس الأمن القومي الأمريكي لبحث خياراته، فيما استلم الأوروبيون راية المفاوضات العقيمة فاجتمعت مدراء الخارجية لفرنسا وألمانيا وبريطانيا وإيطاليا مع نظيرهم الأمريكي في برلين للقيام بـ»عصف ذهني لبحث الموضوع السوري»، واجتمع وزير الخارجية الفرنسي جان مارك ايرولت مع نظيره الروسي لافروف وأنّبه قائلا: «لا شيء يبرر حمم النار».
الأمم المتحدة انتحت جانباً عملياً وطالبت بانسحاب مقاتلي «جبهة فتح الشام» من شرق حلب وعرض مبعوثها ستافان دي ميستورا مرافقة المقاتلين شخصيّاً، وهو ما عنونته إحدى وكالات الأنباء «مبعوث الأمم المتحدة يجازف بحياته من أجل السلام في حلب»، والحقيقة أن دي ميستورا يجازف بحياته لتحقيق شرط روسيا بإخراج المقاتلين من شرق حلب لتسهيل احتلالها 

(وهو أمر طالب به النظام في اليوم السابق على العرض «البطوليّ» لمبعوث الأمم المتحدة)!
التفسير الحقيقي لما يحصل هو أن روسيا تفهم الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية جيّداً وتعرف أن الخلاف بينهما شكليّ وهي غير معنيّة أبداً بإنقاذ وجه البيت الأبيض الذي لا يفصله عن الكرملين خلاف حقيقي حول الوضع السوريّ والخلاف فقط هو على تفاصيل إخراج المجزرة.

بل إن الرطانة الأمريكية حول الوحشية التي تمارسها موسكو في حلب في قصفها للمستشفيات والمخابز ومحطات المياه والمدنيين لا تتناسب مع قصف واشنطن لمشفى في الموصل قبل أيام وقتلها العشرات من المدنيين في تموز/يوليو الماضي قرب منبج في ريف حلب الشمالي في غارات جوّية واعتبارهم «خسائر جانبية» لحربها على تنظيم «الدولة الإسلامية» من اعتذار لأهاليهم بينما قامت بالاعتذار عن قتلى جيش النظام واقترحت دفع تعويضات لهم، وبالتالي فإن «الوحشية» و»تجاهل حقوق الإنسان» أمور نسبيّة بالنسبة لواشنطن، واختلافها مع موسكو هو بالدرجة لا بالمبدأ.

وإذا أردنا الحقيقة فإن ما يحصل في سوريا والمنطقة العربيّة يعكس اتفاقاً بين النخب الغربيّة الحاكمة وروسيا على السرديّة التي اشتغل عليها النظام السوري منذ بدء حربه الإجرامية ضد شعبه عام 2011 وهي أن البديل الوحيد لنظام الاستبداد هو الإسلاميون، وأن الإسلاميين هم أكثر خطراً على أوروبا من أنظمة الاستبداد وبالتالي فالأولى إبقاء هذه الأنظمة مع إجراء تحسينات شكلية عليها.

… أما موسكو فلا يهمّها هذه الشكليات.

رئاسة عون وسريالية المشهد اللبناني

DNA - 06/10/2016 الحكومة العراقية تتذكَّر فكرة السيادة


هل تمثل سوريا حقل تجارب للأسلحة الروسية؟

Emad Hajjaj's Cartoon: Human Rights in Iran

حقوق الانسان في ايران

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

صور تثبت تعرض قافلة مساعدات إنسانية لقصف جوي في سورية


أعلن برنامج الأمم المتحدة لصور الأقمار الصناعية، الأربعاء، في جنيف، أن صور الأقمار الصناعية للهجوم على قافلة تنقل مساعدات إنسانية في 19 أيلول/سبتمبر في سورية، تؤكد تعرض القافلة لغارة جوية.
وفي تصريح صحافي، قال المستشار في برنامج 'يونوسات'، لارس بروملي، 'تأكدنا أن ما حصل هو غارة جوية'، وذلك بالاستناد إلى حجم ونوع الحفر الواضحة في الصور.
وقد أبدت الأمم المتحدة تحفظا شديدا حتى الآن على صعيد تحديد المسؤوليات عن شن تلك الغارة. وعزت واشنطن المسؤولية إلى موسكو التي نفت أي تورط في الغارة.
وأعلن الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة بان كي مون، الأسبوع الماضي، عن تشكيل لجنة تحقيق.
وقال رئيس برنامج يونوسات إينار بيورغو، اليوم الأربعاء 'لم نتسلم بعد طلبا' للحصول على الصور في هذا الإطار.
وقد تعرض أكثر من ثلاثين شاحنة كانت تنقل مساعدة من الأمم المتحدة والهلال الأحمر السوري لهجوم قرب حلب في 19 أيلول/سبتمبر الماضي. وقتل 18 شخصا منهم المسؤول المحلي للهلال الأحمر.
وتبث يونوسات التي نادرا ما تصدر بيانات، صورا مستخرجة من الأقمار الصناعية التجارية، بناء على طلب وكالات الأمم المتحدة أو الدول.
وتستخدم الصور لدى حصول كوارث طبيعية ولتقييم أوضاع المهجرين في النزاعات.
وكان قد طلب عدد كبير من وكالات الأمم المتحدة صورا في الفترة الأخيرة لمنطقة الموصل، لاتخاذ الإجراءات اللازمة تمهيدا لاستقبال مئات آلاف المهجرين المنتظرين لدى شن الهجوم لاستعادة المدينة من تنظيم داعش.

DNA - 05/10/2016 نصرالله: إيران والأسد خطر على مشروع المقاومة




Al-Jazeera Cartoon: JASTA Law

كاريكاتير: جاستا

Home Office has not given journalist's confiscated passport to Syria

‘The British government has no direct contact with the Assad regime due to the atrocities it has committed against the Syrian people,’ says spokesman

The Guardian
Zaina Erhaim will be able to travel within the European Union.

The passport confiscated from a Syrian journalist by the UK border agency has not been passed on to the Syrian authorities. Nor will it be returned to them in future.
Zaina Erhaim’s passport was taken from her when she arrived in Britain on 22 September. It has since been retained by a Home Office department.
Erhaim, a noted critic of the Syrian regime run by Bashar al-Assad, was told that the confiscation followed a claim by the Syrian government that it had been stolen.
Border agency officials told her they were complying with a request from Syriaand she should take the matter up with Syrian consular officials.
But a Home Office spokesman said: “The British government has no direct contact with the Assad regime due to the atrocities it has committed against the Syrian people.”
He explained that the department’s “first priority is the security of our borders and it would be irresponsible to ignore warnings about lost or stolen passports.”
Erhaim has a second, valid passport with a UK visa, but without sufficient space to enable her to travel outside of the European Union.
She will therefore be permitted to leave and return the UK. But it may make travel to Turkey, where she is based, difficult and, possibly, hazardous.
It is unclear yet whether the Home Office will relent and give her back the confiscated passport.
In a blog item earlier today, I criticised the Home Office’s press office for its tardy response to questions about Erhaim’s passport.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Another poll of the "is the Pope Catholic?" variety:

Do you believe that Washington is serious about suspending cooperation with Moscow about Syria?

So far, 92% have voted no.

الاتجاه المعاكس-لماذا لا تضرب المعارضة السورية معاقل النظام؟

عمالة الأطفال السوريين في الشتات.. أرقام مفزعة

DNA - 04/10/2016 محور المقاومة: GO JASTA GO

Good time for a bloodbath in Aleppo? Putin thinks so

By David Hearst


The civil war that once worked for the Russian leader now threatens to entrench him in an winner-takes-all battle against Turkey and Saudi
It is nearly a year since Vladimir Putin sprung one of his little surprises on Washington by entering the civil war in Syria as an active combatant on Bashar al-Assad’s side.
In that time, Russian bombing can claim to have saved Damascus and the regime itself from falling, to have re-opened the coastal road to Latakia, and liberated Palmyra. Putin has already declared mission accomplished once and flew home most of his bombers. He is now flying them all back in an assault on east Aleppo.
Porcelain plates for sale in a handicrafts shop in Damascus this February (AFP)
In that time, Sergei Lavrov and John Kerry lulled each other into thinking that they could waltz their way to the Geneva conference table, when neither the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, nor the State Department were running things. The deal breaker was the US bombing of Syrian regime positions in Deir Ezzor on 17 September, an act for which the US have apologised but which the Russians believe was a deliberate act.
Just as he did in Ukraine (a separatist war for which Moscow, Ukrainian nationalists and EU negotiators all have blood on their hands), the arch regional opportunist Putin saw an opportunity: to finish off Aleppo, and with it a war that has lasted the five and a half years. Or so he thinks. 

The fire that never goes out

Russian generals also think they have done Aleppo before. For anyone who witnessed the bombardment of Grozny - in 1994 and 2000 - the pictures coming out of east Aleppo are nothing new.
To judge only by recent history, I would not place a lot of money on the bet that a Russian intervention can deliver a knock-out blow
The use of thermobaric or vacuum bombs (bursts which suck the oxygen out of the air within a 500-metre radius), phosphorus, "double tap" strikes, deniable militias, the targeting of hospitals, market places, mosques, anywhere where civilians gather in war time - all this Russia has tried before in Chechnya.
The brutality of the Russian counter insurgency in Chechnya had one effect. It split a nationalist Sufi separatist movement, which had been running on and off since Tsarist days, into two factions. One went into exile and is inert. The other became the hard core of theIslamic State (IS) in the North Caucasus, and provides one source of foreign fighters for IS in Raqqa.
Russia has never put this fire out. It continues to burn away in Muslim-majority Russian republics like Dagestan and Ingushetia and will burst out again the moment Moscow takes its foot off the throat of the North Caucasus. In one sense, Putin is right to think that he is fighting the same enemy now in east Aleppo, as he did 16 years ago in Grozny. It is one that he himself created.
Syrians in the rebel-held town of Sabqa, outside of Damascus, burn Putin's photo last week (AFP)
Aleppo, however, is not Grozny. It does not lie on the fringe of the Russian Steppe. Its one of three major Sunni cities, along with Baghdad and Mosul, which if Bashar al-Assad, Hezbollah, and the Quds brigade of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard get their way, will see another major Sunni civilian exodus.
Putin is assuming that the fall of Aleppo will be a pivotal moment in the civil war. He is assuming the fall of a Sunni city to Shia militias, controlled by the regime and two other foreign interveners, Hezbollah and Iran,  would be game over for Syrian rebels.  
To judge only by the recent history of Aleppo, Homs, Mosul, Fallujah and Ramadi, I would not place a lot of money on the bet that a Russian intervention can deliver a knock-out blow. These cities have fallen and been retaken more times than Putin and Barack Obama have met. What applies to the limits of US, British and French kinetic force in Iraq, applies also to Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah.
Considering the ferocious fire power they have faced, the combined combat strength of Syrian rebel factions has been remarkably resilient. Even under massive bombardment, the front lines in Aleppo have not changed, as yet, as much as one might have expected them to.
The issue is not the number of fighters at the rebel’s forces disposal. It has been factionalism - which has been solved by the unity forged under all out assault. And it has been the quality of weapons that Obama allowed through, under a policy designed to keep rebel forces strong enough to resist, but not strong enough to prevail. Obama has always been frightened by what victory in Syria looks like.

Brakes come off 

As the US walks away from Geneva, that brake will now come off. The key funders of the rebel militias - Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar - will be freer to pump battlefield weapons into the battlefield.  
Putin is effectively pitting Russia’s economy against Turkey’s and Saudi Arabia’s and in the circumstances, this is not such an intelligent thing to do
Secondly, as America walks away, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar will step deeper in. Turkish forces are already within easy reach of east Aleppo. If they retake al-Bab from IS, they will be within a few kilometres of it.
Out of the blue, having seemingly been overshadowed by his younger nephew, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef has suddenly asserted himself. He popped up in Washington and now Ankara. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denied that the two had discussed arming the rebels. I have no information to contradict that, but in the context of the US withdrawal from Syria, this was an important meeting.
Opposition fighters fire shells from their position in Aleppo's southern countryside (AFP)
If I am right, and Russia fails to achieve the quick knock-out blow to the rebel cause that Putin thinks he will deliver, this means that he has to think long term. He has not got an economy that can sustain a long-term foreign intervention. Putin and his band of oligarchs never succeeded in weaning the Russian economy off its fix of oil and gas revenues.
The “fat” decade of extreme wealth for some in Russia has gone and will not return. The cranes have stopped whirring around Moscow. At the rate at which Putin is burning through his foreign reserves, they have two years left. Saudi Arabia is also burning through its foreign reserves. But it has longer and has more options. 
In a long-term military engagement in Syria, Putin is effectively pitting Russia’s economy against Turkey’s and Saudi Arabia’s and in the circumstances, this is not such an intelligent thing to do. 

Disaster cometh 

Syria worked for Putin on a number of levels. It wrong-footed Obama - always a plus for Putin. A key role in Geneva could have proved to be a ticket back out of international isolation, forced on it by the Ukrainian conflict. It saved Assad. It persuaded Obama to avoid the meltdown of the Syrian state, even at the cost of keeping Assad in a post-war transitional government.
Post-communist Russia is not and never can again be even a shadow of the world power the Soviet Union once was
Instead, in a series of quick-fire tactical moves, Putin is fashioning a strategic disaster for Russia. With the cancellation of the agreement to destroy plutonium, he has plunged Russian relations with America to its lowest levels of mutual trust since Andropov, certainly to the pre-perestroika days of Gorbachev.
A winner-take-all mentality in post-cold war America and its Nato allies has undoubtedly played its part. Nato is not the innocent victim of Putin’s nationalist revivalism. It is one of the well springs of it. But post-communist Russia is not even a shadow of the world power the Soviet Union once was. For most of his presidency, Putin has used military force reflexively and out of weakness, not strategically out of strength. There is only one military force which can function and sustain itself as a global power, that belongs to whomever sits down next in the Oval Office. 
Putin may think this is an excellent time for a bloodbath in Aleppo. Obama, who defined his presidency on withdrawal from foreign intervention, has not the will, nor the time left to resist. It will be months before a new president is elected, and if, as Russia fears, that new president will be Hillary Clinton, then Putin may well calculate that he has a window of opportunity in Syria which will shortly close.
Strategically, neither Russia, nor Iran, nor a rump sectarian regime in Damascus that has fought a war which has killed up to 470,000 of it own citizens and caused 4.8 million to flee can prevail in a country with a Sunni majority, backed by two regional powers in Turkey and Saudi.
How and where Putin returns to Geneva is a matter for him. But if he thinks beyond the next tactical master stroke, he may well come to the conclusion that the worst thing that could happen to Russia is if east Aleppo fell. It would not be the end of five and a half years, but the start of another five and a half years.  
- David Hearst is editor-in-chief of Middle East Eye. He was chief foreign leader writer of The Guardian, former Associate Foreign Editor, European Editor, Moscow Bureau Chief, European Correspondent, and Ireland Correspondent. He joined The Guardian from The Scotsman, where he was education correspondent.

Emad Hajjaj's Cartoon about Yemen

كرسي الحكم في اليمن !

Monday, October 3, 2016

مذبحة حلب وسيرك بيروت

الياس خوري

تتخذ حلب شكل المذبحة المكتملة، فالمذبحة لا تكتمل إلا بالصمت، صمت يلفّ جثث الضحايا وسط أصوات القصف والركام. كل المذابح الكبرى تمت في الصمت، من عين الزيتون إلى دير ياسين وكفرقاسم وشاتيلا، وصولا إلى البوسنة. صمت مريب لا ينفجر صخباً إعلامياً إلا بعد اكتمال المذبحة، أو مرور الوقت الكافي كي تصير جزءا من الماضي.
حلب اليوم في المذبحة، الصمت الشامل مستحيل بسبب الصخب الذي رافق موجات النزوح السوري إلى أوروبا، لكنه يتخذ هنا شكلاً جديداً. فلقد تحولت حلب إلى خبر صغير في وسائل الإعلام العالمية، خبر لا يثير سوى الأسف، ويمرّ كأن الموت السوري صار من طبيعة الأشياء. أما ردود الفعل فلا تتعدى الكلام الذي سرعان ما يسقط في النسيان.
وكما يحاصرها صمت العالم، فإن حلب مُحاصَرة بصمت عربي مريب. فلقد تحوّل موت العرب إلى جزء من واقعهم اليومي. لا شيء يجري على صفحة الخراب العربي الشامل، لا شيء سوى صرخات متقطعة تنشر على مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي. صار «الفيسبوك» وسيلة لفشّ الخلق، وأداة تعطي من يستخدمه شعورا بأنه أدّى واجبه، ويستطيع الآن الانصراف إلى شؤون حياته اليومية.
الحياة تستمر وسط جثث الناس التي تملأ شوارع المدينة المهدّمة. أجمل مدن المشرق العربي، شقيقة القدس في جماليات عمارتها، تذبح أمامنا، ونحن عاجزون أمام آلة حربية روسية – إيرانية تفتعل بنا، وتبيد أرواحنا.
حلب تموت، وأسياد العالم العربي يتابعون ألعابهم في سيرك عربي مفتوح على اللامعقول. وكان آخر مشاهد هذا السيرك هو جنازة شمعون بيريس في القدس المحتلة. كل زعماء العالم «الحر» اجتمعوا لوداع أبي القنبلة النووية الإسرائيلية بصفته صانع سلام! حتى قيادة السلطة الفلسطينية ذهبت إلى المأتم كي تودّع أوهام السلام مع محتلّ لا يريد من السلام سوى ما هو أفدح من الاستسلام، يريد من ضحيته أن تختفي كي تكتمل إبادتها السياسية والثقافية بالصمت.
زعماء العالم، ومن بينهم قادة عرب، لم يسمعوا وهم في المدينة المحتلة أنين الضحية الفلسطينية الذي اكتملت حكايتها مع الصمت الذي يلفّ مدينة المتنبي، وهي تحت مبضع الجلّاد.
غير أن السيرك العربي يتخذ شكله الأكثر فجاجة ووقاحة في بيروت. فعلى بعد كيلومترات قليلة من عاصمة لبنان تدور مذبحة كبرى يشارك فيها مقاتلون لبنانيون ينتمون إلى حزب الله. وبدل أن تطرح بيروت السؤال الأخلاقي والسياسي عن مسؤوليتها في هذه المجزرة، تنشغل الحياة السياسية اللبنانية بسيرك انتخاب رئيس الجمهورية، الذي دخل منعطفاً سوريالياً بعد تبني تيار المستقبل ترشيح الجنرال عون، لنكتشف أن من يعارض هذا الترشيح هو الثنائية الشيعية بقيادة المايسترو نبيه برّي، زعيم حركة أمل ورئيس مجلس النواب.
بدلا من أن يطرح اللبنانيون على أنفسهم مهمة إخراج المقاتلين اللبنانيين من المذبحة السورية، قامت القوى السياسية اللبنانية بتنصيب حزب الله، الذي يقاتل في حلب، حَكَماً. حزب الله يؤيد عون، لكن نوابه سيتضامنون مع بري في مقاطعة جلسة الانتخاب! حكاية غرائبية انتهت إلى معادلة عنجر، حيث كان ضابط المخابرات السورية وحاكم لبنان الفعلي، غازي كنعان، يعزف البيانو بيدين، الأولى تدعم رفيق الحريري والثانية تدعم خصومه. نجح حزب الله في أن يكون له مرشحَان للرئاسة: سليمان فرنجية وميشال عون، وحليفان بالواسطة: القوات اللبنانية وسعد الحريري. وهو الحَكَم الذي يقرر زمن الانتخاب. يعزف باليمنى لحن عون، ويعزف باليسرى لحن برّي، ويترك للاعبين حرية الرقص على الحبال في سيرك دموي ساحته الرئيسية سوريا، أما لبنان فمجرد ساحة خلفية مؤجلة.
حزب الله ليس مسؤولا عن شيوع ثقافة السيرك في لبنان، بل يقوم باستخدام، لا يخلو من التذاكي، لمناخات الرقص البهلواني الذي تجيده القيادات السياسية للطوائف اللبنانية، وهو يستخدم مأزق سعد الحريري الذي أوصله حلفاؤه السعوديون إلى حافة الإفلاس، كما يستخدم مشاكل الجنرال عون النفسية مع قصر بعبدا ومناخات الخوف الآتية من سوريا والعراق، من أجل الهيمنة على السيرك وتشغيل اللاعبين، مستندا إلى امتلاكه قوة عسكرية لا يوجد ما يوازيها في لبنان.
السيرك اللبناني، الذي فقد ضوابطه بعد انهيار التسوية السورية – السعودية التي انتجت الطائف عبر اغتيال رفيق الحريري، وصل إلى انسداد سياسي شامل عبر الاستقطاب السني – الشيعي، والصراع الايراني- السعودي، يدخل اليوم منعطفا جديدا ومؤقتا، سمته البارزة هو الانكفاء السعودي- الأمريكي، وهذا يوحي وكأن حزب الله قد استفرد بالساحة اللبنانية، ما يعطيه القدرة على حمل عصا المروّض، من أجل الوصول إلى السلة المتكاملة، التي تعني بداية زمن الغلبة الشيعية، التي يصير معها انتخاب الرئيس مجرد إجراء شكلي لا معنى له.
لكن هذا الإيحاء ليس سوى شراء للمؤقت بالمؤقت، فأزمة الطبقة الحاكمة اللبنانية تكوينية، ولم تعد الطائفية السياسية قادرة على إنتاج نصاب حاكم مهما بلغت قوة أحد أطرافها، وهذا يعني أن الفراغ السياسي قد يستمر طويلا، ويطيح بالأحلام الرئاسية التي تراود البعض.
سيرك مستمر ومذبحة مستمرة، والحقيقة المؤلمة هي أن المذبحة تحتاج إلى سيرك يغطّيها، كما أن السيرك لا يكتسب شرعيته وصدقيته سوى من المذبحة.
نهرب من المذبحة إلى السيرك، لنكتشف أن المروّض ليس منشغلا بتدريب اللاعبين أو ترويضهم، فهو لا يحمل بيده عصا المروّض، بل يحمل بندقية رشاشة، وبرميلاً متفجّراً، وهو يلهو هنا ويقاتل هناك.
نهرب لنكتشف أننا أسرى العجز، لكننا لا نزال نستطيع أن نقول لا في وجه أسياد هذه اللحظة المنقلبة التي لن تقوى على تحطيم بلاد تناوب عليها عشرات الغزاة والبرابرة، من دون أن ينجحوا في إخراجها من الخريطة.

Washington Post reporter detained for 18 months sues Iranian government

Jason Rezaian suffered ‘irreparable harm’ being subject to ‘torture and other cruel treatment’ during his detention in a Tehran prison, the lawsuit says

The Guardian



Next the Iranian government should be sued for Hizbullah's killing of 241 marines and sailors in Beirut in 1983.

Many more lawsuits should be filed against Iran by the 42 Americans, and their families, who were held hostage in the US embassy in Tehran for 444 days (November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981).
Image result for us hostages in us embassy in tehran

(US hostages in the US embassy in Tehran)

Let the lawsuits fly and make Iran pay some of those assets recently unfrozen!

Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian suffered “irreparable harm” as the result of being subject to “torture and other cruel treatment” during his 18-month detention in a Tehran prison, according to a federal lawsuit against the Iranian government filed by the journalist and his family on Monday.
The suit, filed in US district court in Washington, alleges that Rezaian was targeted and imprisoned at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison for the “unlawful purpose of extorting concessions from the US government” and other parties as the two countries engaged in multinational talks over curbing Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, who was also detained at Evin for two months, were told on multiple occasions by Iranian security guards and interrogators that the reporter was “high value” and would be used as a “bargaining chip” in a prisoner exchange, according to the suit.
“For nearly 18 months, Iran held and terrorized Jason for the purpose of gaining negotiating leverage and ultimately exchanging him with the United States for something of value to Iran,” the suit alleges. “Plaintiffs seek justice and redress from this court in order to compensate plaintiffs for their pain and suffering and to hold Iran accountable for its heinous and unlawful acts of terrorism, torture, abuse, and hostage taking.” They also “threatened to maim and kill his wife Yeganeh”, the complaint said.
Rezaian, a dual Iranian-American citizen from California, was arrested at gunpoint in along with his wife in July 2014, after security forces raided their Tehran home. He was imprisoned and held under unproven and vague espionage-related charges. Rezaian was put on trial and, according to the complaint, convicted of espionage and other offenses in a “futile effort” by Iran to justify its imprisonment of the journalist.

Jason Rezaian waves to media as he stands with his wife and mother after being released.
 Jason Rezaian waves to media as he stands with his wife and mother after being released. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

“In reality, Jason committed no crime and was never legitimately tried, convicted, or sentenced – even according to Iranian standards,” the complaint said.
The Iranian government has not released details of his conviction in the closed-door trial. Rezaian, his family and his employer have maintained that the charges are demonstrably false.
After 544 days in prison, Rezaian was released on 16 January 2016, along with three other American detainees as part of a complex prisoner exchange with Iran.
The lawsuit includes harrowing new details about Rezaian’s imprisonment. It claims Iranian officials subjected Rezaian to “prolonged solitary confinement, deprived him of sleep, aggressively and relentlessly interrogated him, denied him basic medical treatment for serious and painful illnesses and infections, and threatened him with dismemberment, execution, and other forms of cruel and unusual physical torture”.
The 18-month ordeal was so traumatic that Rezaian, his wife and his brother, Ali, all contemplated suicide, the suit said. Now nine months after Rezaian was freed and returned home, the journalist and his family are still reeling from the emotional and physiological scars caused by his detention.
Rezaian along with his brother, Ali, and their mother, Mary, who campaigned tirelessly for his release, are asking for an unspecified sum of damages under the “terrorism exception” to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. The law typically does not allow Americans to sue foreign governments but it includes an exception for terrorism.