Silver Lining

Food for thought

John Kerry and the Orwellian language of war

Rampant Dishonesty

by NATHAN GOODMAN, source

When is a war not a war? According to John Kerry, launching cruise missiles at Syria is not a war. Testifying before the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry said, “President Obama is not asking America to go to war.”
Kerry’s argument seems to hinge on the idea that no American ground troops will likely be deployed. Of the proposed strikes, Kerry said, “I just don’t consider that going to war in the classic sense of coming to Congress and asking for a declaration of war and training troops and sending people abroad and putting young Americans in harm’s way.”

Perhaps no Americans will be put in harm’s way, although claims of possible Iranian plans for retaliation cast doubt on that hope. But regardless, innocent Syrians will still be killed by American missiles. People’s homes and possessions will still be destroyed. Mass aggressive violence will still be waged by the US government in a foreign land. That’s a war.

And while Kerry is not currently proposing sending ground troops to Syria, he acknowledges that it’s a possibility. Kerry also told the Senate: “But in the event Syria imploded, for instance, or in the event there was a threat of a chemical weapons cache falling into the hands of al-Nusra or someone else and it was clearly in the interest of our allies and all of us, the British, the French and others, to prevent those weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of the worst elements, I don’t want to take off the table an option that might or might not be available to a president of the United States to secure our country.”

But to be clear, Secretary Kerry and President Obama are not proposing a war. Yes, they will use cruise missiles to slaughter Syrians, and if they don’t like the Syrian government’s response they may even send ground troops. War profiteers like Raytheon will certainly profit. But the Secretary of State will insist it’s not a war.

So, why the Orwellian “War is Peace” attitude here? Partially because Kerry recognizes this war is not popular with the American public. Polls show substantial public opposition. When explaining that he would not consider American attacks on Syria a war, Kerry went a step further and said “when people are asked, do you want to go to war with Syria, of course not! Everybody, a hundred percent of Americans will say no.” When most Americans oppose war, the best solution apparently is to change the name to something else.

But this attitude makes sense for another reason: The state wants to conceal the truth about its wars. This is why it employs so many Newspeak terms when discussing war. Murdering civilians becomes “collateral damage.” Any military age male killed by an American drone strike is automatically labeled a “militant.” And a war against Syria becomes not war but “an action that can degrade the capacity of a man who’s been willing to kill his own people by breaking a nearly hundred-year- old prohibition.”

The U.S. government doesn’t want you to know the truth about their wars. This is why Chelsea Manning is in prison for blowing the whistle on war crimes, including an attack in which “U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence.” It’s why the military denied for years that they used white phosphorus, a chemical weapon, in Fallujah.

This rampant dishonesty is precisely why we should never trust them when they want to go to war. Especially when they refuse to call war by its name.

Palestine: Warnings about storming AlAqsa & fishing boats seized

Mufti of Jerusalem warns of the seriousness of Jewish calls for storming Al-Aqsa

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine Sheikh Mohammad Hussein warned of the growing Israeli calls for storming Al-Aqsa Mosque and tightening the Jewish control over it.

The last of these calls was by the occupation Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino in which he falsely claimed the right of Jews to pray inside Al-Aqsa considering it one of the yards the alleged temple.

Sheikh Hussein said in a statement on Tuesday: “The remarks and practices by the occupation authorities against the holy sites, particularly the Al-Aqsa Mosque, represent serious violations.”

He warned of the consequences of the attitude of silence regarding these calls that carry serious intentions against the holy sites, as he said.

Hussein pointed out that the calls for storming Al-Aqsa Mosque comes after similar calls by the Jewish rabbis to demolish the Aqsa and build the alleged temple on its ruins, which refers to the “imminent danger faced by the Islamic Mosque that must be protected by all Muslims.”

The preacher of Al-Aqsa mosque appealed to Palestinian citizens in the city of Jerusalem and the 1948 territories to flock to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and defend it against the Jewish attacks.

————————————————————————————–

Israeli navy seizes two Palestinian fishing boats

GAZA, (PIC)– Israeli navy forces seized two Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Rafah south of Gaza Strip at dawn Tuesday.

Security sources told the PIC reporter that the Israeli navy towed the two boats with their fishing nets after shooting at them.

Palestinian fishermen are constant targets for the Israeli navy in line with the daily harassment of Palestinians in the Strip and means of earning their living.

‘One killed in Turkey clashes’

(Turkey-file photo)

Press TV

A 22-year-old man has been killed in fresh clashes between anti-government protesters and police forces in the southern Turkish city of Antakya, reports say.

According to a report by the Dogan news agency on Tuesday, the victim was killed after being hit in the head by a tear gas canister fired by Turkish security forces.

The protesters had gathered to denounce violence carried out by government forces, which has left a 14-year-old boy, Berkin Elvan, in a coma since June. Elvan was also hit with a gas canister.

On September 9, clashes also took place in Istanbul where hundreds of demonstrators had gathered to protest against Elvan’s situation.

Police forces fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds. Protesters threw rocks and Molotov cocktails and put up barricades.

On September 7, Turkish police clashed with students protesting against reconstruction plans in their university campus in the capital, Ankara.

The students are opposed to the municipality’s plan to build a road by uprooting a large number of trees on the campus. Reports say around 3,000 trees would be removed inside the campus due to the controversial project.

A peaceful sit-in back in June aimed at saving Istanbul’s central Gezi Park from being razed prompted a violent police response.

Several people were killed and thousands injured after the protests spiraled into nationwide demos against the government.

Russia working with Syria over chemical plan: Images of damascus victims fabricated

Al Ahed news

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday that his country is currently in talks with Damascus to develop a “concrete plan” for the Syrian regime to set over its chemical weapons arsenal under the international control.

“We are currently working on preparing a workable, precise and concrete plan and for this there are literally right now, in these minutes, contacts with the Syrian side,” Lavrov said.

He further expected that “this plan will be present soon and we will be ready to work on it with the UN secretary general, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, with the participation of members of the UN Security Council.”

Meanwhile, Russia Today agency confirmed that “footage and photos of the alleged chemical attack in Syria, which the US cites as the reason for a planned military intervention, had been fabricated in advance.”

In this context, the agency quoted speakers in the UN human rights conference in Geneva.
“Members of the conference were presented accounts of international experts, Syrian public figures and Russian news reporters covering the Syrian conflict, which back Russia’s opposition to the US plans,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The speakers argued that the suspected sarin gas attack near Damascus on August 21 was likely a provocation of the rebel forces and that a military action against the President Bashar al-Assad government will likely result in civilian casualties and a humanitarian catastrophe affecting the entire region.

Evidence for the Russian case, including numerous eyewitness reports and results of investigations of the chemical weapon incident by activists, was handed over to a UN commission of experts probing the Syrian crisis, the ministry said.

Russia is convinced that the chemical incident was a provocation by rebel forces, which staged a false flag attack to drag the US into the conflict and capitalize on the damage that the Syrian army is likely to sustain in the American intervention.

An increasing number of reports is backing Russia’s position, with local witnesses, US and British former intelligence professionals and Europeans recently released from rebel captivity all speaking for a provocation scenario.

Meanwhile, RT learned that Syrian rebels might be planning a chemical weapons attack against the Zionist entity. The possible attack would be carried out from the territory supposedly controlled by the Syrian government and would trigger another round of escalation, leaving little hope of defusing the tension.

Obama’s case for Syria didn’t reflect intel consensus

by Gareth Porter, source

IPS – Contrary to the general impression in Congress and the news media, the Syria chemical warfare intelligence summary released by the Barack Obama administration August 30 did not represent an intelligence community assessment, an IPS analysis and interviews with former intelligence officials reveals.

The evidence indicates that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper culled intelligence analyses from various agencies and by the White House itself, but that the White House itself had the final say in the contents of the document.

Leading members of Congress to believe that the document was an intelligence community assessment and thus represents a credible picture of the intelligence on the alleged chemical attack of August 21 has been a central element in the Obama administration’s case for war in Syria.

That part of the strategy, at least, has been successful. Despite strong opposition in Congress to the proposed military strike in Syria, no one in either chamber has yet challenged the administration’s characterisation of the intelligence. But the administration is vulnerable to the charge that it has put out an intelligence document that does not fully and accurately reflect the views of intelligence analysts.

Former intelligence officials told IPS that that the paper does not represent a genuine intelligence community assessment but rather one reflecting a predominantly Obama administration influence.

In essence, the White House selected those elements of the intelligence community assessments that supported the administration’s policy of planning a strike against the Syrian government force and omitted those that didn’t.

In a radical departure from normal practice involving summaries or excerpts of intelligence documents that are made public, the Syria chemical weapons intelligence summary document was not released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence but by the White House Office of the Press Secretary.

It was titled “Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013.” The first sentence begins, “The United States government assesses,” and the second sentence begins, “We assess”.

The introductory paragraph refers to the main body of the text as a summary of “the intelligence community’s analysis” of the issue, rather than as an “intelligence community assessment”, which would have been used had the entire intelligence community endorsed the document.

A former senior intelligence official who asked not to be identified told IPS in an e-mail Friday that the language used by the White House “means that this is not an intelligence community document”.

The former senior official, who held dozens of security classifications over a decades-long intelligence career, said he had “never seen a document about an international crisis at any classification described/slugged as a U.S. government assessment.”

The document further indicates that the administration “decided on a position and cherry-picked the intelligence to fit it,” he said. “The result is not a balanced assessment of the intelligence.”

Greg Thielmann, whose last position before retiring from the State Department was director of the Strategic, Proliferation and Military Affairs Office in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, told IPS he has never seen a government document labeled “Government Assessment” either.

“If it’s an intelligence assessment,” Thielmann said, “why didn’t they label it as such?”

Former National Intelligence Officer Paul Pillar, who has participated in drafting national intelligence estimates, said the intelligence assessment summary released by the White House “is evidently an administration document, and the working master copy may have been in someone’s computer at the White House or National Security Council.”

Pillar suggested that senior intelligence officials might have signed off on the administration paper, but that the White House may have drafted its own paper to “avoid attention to analytic differences within the intelligence community.”

Comparable intelligence community assessments in the past, he observed – including the 2002 Iraq WMD estimate – include indications of differences in assessment among elements of the community.

An unnamed “senior administration official” briefing the news media on the intelligence paper on August 30 said that the paper was “fully vetted within the intelligence community,” and that, ”All members of the intelligence community participated in its development.”

But that statement fell far short of asserting that all the elements of the intelligence community had approved the paper in question, or even that it had gone through anything resembling consultations between the primary drafters and other analysts, and opportunities for agencies to register dissent that typically accompany intelligence community assessments.

The same “senior administration official” indicated that DNI Clapper had “approved” submissions from various agencies for what the official called “the process”. The anonymous speaker did not explain further to journalists what that process preceding the issuance of the White House paper had involved.

However, an Associated Press story on August 29 referred to “a report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence outlining the evidence against Syria”, citing two intelligence officials and two other administration officials as sources.

That article suggests that the administration had originally planned for the report on intelligence to be issued by Clapper rather than the White House, apparently after reaching agreement with the White House on the contents of the paper.

But Clapper’s name was not on the final document issued by the White House, and the document is nowhere to be found on the ODNI website. All previous intelligence community assessments were posted on that site.

The issuance of the document by the White House rather than by Clapper, as had been apparently planned, points to a refusal by Clapper to put his name on the document as revised by the White House.

Clapper’s refusal to endorse it – presumably because it was too obviously an exercise in “cherry picking” intelligence to support a decision for war – would explain why the document had to be issued by the White House.

Efforts by IPS to get a comment from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence suggest strongly that Clapper is embarrassed by the way the Obama White House misrepresented the August 30 document.

An e-mail query by IPS to the media relations staff of ODNI requesting clarification of the status of the August 30 document in relation to the intelligence community was never answered.

In follow-up phone calls, ODNI personnel said someone would respond to the query. After failing to respond for two days, despite promising that someone would call back, however, ODNI’s media relations office apparently decided to refuse any further contact with IPS on the subject.

A clear indication that the White House, rather than Clapper, had the final say on the content of the document is that it includes a statement that a “preliminary U.S. government assessment determined that 1,429 people were killed in the chemical weapons attack, including at least 426 children.”

That figure, for which no source was indicated, was several times larger than the estimates given by British and French intelligence.

The document issued by the White House cites intelligence that is either obviously ambiguous at best or is of doubtful authenticity, or both, as firm evidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack.

It claims that Syrian chemical weapons specialists were preparing for such an attack merely on the basis of signals intelligence indicating the presence of one or more individuals in a particular location. The same intelligence had been regarded prior to August 21 as indicating nothing out of the ordinary, as was reported by CBS news August 23.

The paper also cites a purported intercept by U.S intelligence of conversations between Syrian officials in which a “senior official” supposedly “confirmed” that the government had carried out the chemical weapons attack.

But the evidence appears to indicate that the alleged intercept was actually passed on to the United States by Israeli intelligence. U.S. intelligence officials have long been doubtful about intelligence from Israeli sources that is clearly in line with Israeli interests.

Opponents of the proposed U.S. strike against Syria could argue that the Obama administration’s presentation of the intelligence supporting war is far more politicised than the flawed 2002 Iraq WMD estimate that the George W. Bush administration cited as part of the justification for the invasion of Iraq.

Bahrain’s human rights black hole – When will there be enough?

(Bahrain-file photo)

by Catherine Shakdam, source

If Syria is quite rightly monopolizing much of the world’s attention as fears of a global war are slowly materializing now that Washington has put in motion its rhetoric of war, walls of terror and despair are closing in on Bahrain, a once joyful and united nation.

Plagued by protracted political and social unrest, the people of Bahrain have since 2011 relentlessly called on their government and leader – King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifah – to implement broad social, political, judicial and constitutional reforms as to reflect their democratic aspirations.

Unbending and unwilling to renounce his kingly privileges for the sake of justice or democracy, King Hamad has so far met his people’s demands with fire and lead, thus prompting a national resistance movement.

While political activists and politicians of the opposition remained true to their peaceful aspirations, determined to see through change without resorting to violence, the regime, led by King Hamad has been ever increasingly sinking to new levels of infamy.

Countless reports of physical and psychological abuses have been reported, documented and witnessed by rights groups since 2011, painting the horrific realities of life under a repressive, amoral and unlawful regime.

But if al-Khalifa has authorized and even instructed its security apparatus to act viciously against whomever would dare rise in opposition to his rule, reports that the regime brutalized and unlawfully detained a pregnant – woman have incensed activists around the world and created a popular backlash of such magnitude that it could very well mark a turning point in the opposition movement.

Many Bahrainis have already asked how one could even contemplate agreeing to any form of political agreement with a regime that could behave beyond what is humanly tolerable, or even acceptable.

Because if torture and sectarian-based repression are indeed despicable human rights violations, the persecution of a pregnant woman falls under crime against humanity.

The case of Nadya Ali

Earlier this month the authorities ruled that Nadya Ali, a young wife and mother-to-be would have to remain in detention pending trial, based on fabricated allegations that she physically assaulted law enforcement officers.

As reported by Ahlul Bayt News Agency, “Nadya has been facing false accusations, after she was stopped at a checkpoint on 30th May, during a security clampdown on the village of Bani Jamra. The complaint against her is lacking in credibility, especially with the plaintiff holding the power of arrest. Nadya has been held continuously since her arrest, although has not yet been convicted of any crime. Therefore her detention is considered a punishment against her and her unborn child, outside the course of both justice and humanity.”

Nadya’s family have told reporters time and time again that the young woman’s terrifying ordeal with the law started when she and her husband were stopped at a checkpoint in Bani Jamra.

Without giving any reason or justification, the police demanded that Nadya’s husband step out of his vehicle, before they moved to handcuff him and threw him in a van to be transported to the police station and processed.

As Nadya protested, stressing her husband’s innocence, not understanding why the police would perceive him to be a threat, officers turned their attention to her. In what can only be characterized as a random and sectarian-based targeted attack, police confiscated her ID card, warning she would face prosecution should she continue to resist.

Left free to return home, Nadya thought of nothing but to arrange for her husband’s safe release from jail, she never imagined that she, soon, would be the victim of state repression.

As per reported by her family members, when Nadya presented herself to Budaiya Police station, as she had been instructed to do by officers, she was immediately put into custody and brutalized by two policewomen in the toilet.

“On visiting Budaiya Police Station to request the return of her ID, an officer handcuffed her and took her to the toilet facility in the station, where she was tied to a chair and assaulted with the help of two other policewomen. Following this ordeal she was falsely charged with attacking security personnel and transferred to the Public Prosecution, who ordered her detention,” her family told the press.

The very idea that the sanctity of life could be so blatantly trampled over and overlooked by al-Khalifa has horrified Bahrainis across all segments of society, regardless of their political affiliations or religious beliefs.

The entire nation has been stunned by such barbarism and inhumanity.

Many activists have asked, “What monster, what blood-thirsty psychopath could ever justify harming an unborn child and his mother? What crime could this child ever be accused of? When will enough be enough? What atrocities will the people of Bahrain have to endure before the world can recognize the evil of this regime?”

The Women Affairs Unit in al-Wefaq National Islamic Society – the most prominent party of the opposition – stated, “Keeping Nadya and her unborn baby in oppressive detention illustrates the methodology of the regime in targeting women and children. Nadya’s arrest reveals a deep problem in human rights in general and especially the rights of women and children in Bahrain.”

Moreover al-Wefaq Liberties and Human Rights Department -LHRD – have called on the Red Cross to intervene on behalf of Nadya Ali and seek her immediate release on humanitarian grounds. The LHRD said “keeping Nadya in jail for this length of time is a punishment for her and her unborn baby.”

They noted that the accusations against her are minor compared with those against many security officers who have been released despite being accused of killing pro-democracy protesters.

Disturbed by the gravity of Nadya’s plight, Dr. Haitham Abu-Saeed, the deputy minister of Foreign Affairs of the International Parliament for Safety and Peace, told the press in reaction, “So much is required from the authorities in Bahrain, and Nadya’s case is only an overflow from the tip, because the violations in Bahrain are many and ugly, and they are documented. The reports we are receiving from Manama suggest that torture methods and disrespect to human rights have gone beyond expectations. The Bahraini Government is required to reverse on its wrongdoings and abide to international covenants and sit on dialogue table with the Bahraini dissidents.”

Such atrocities, such abominable impunity can only reinforce al-Wefaq’s rejection of a decision made by the Arab League to establish a human rights court in Manama.

As noted by Nicholas McGeehan, a Persian Gulf researcher with Human Rights Watch (HRW), “The establishment of a glitzy new court won’t disguise the fact that Bahrain has a dismal and worsening record in that regard.”

‘Israel’s’ lobbyists pushing hard for another war in the Middle East

by Jeremy Salt – Ankara, source

Two million refugees out of Syria, some of them Palestinian refugees from 1948 and 1967 and some Iraqi refugees from 2004.  They are the consequences of war and yet the raging beast that is devouring the Middle East is still not satiated. Another war looms. Another country already devastated is to be shattered by missile attacks. Who wants this war: who could want it?  Who could even think of avenging the dead by calling for more killing?

It is not the people of the world.  All polls show they are against it.  Not just the people of Latin America, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia and China but the American people, the British people, the French people and the Turkish people. It is only the politicians who want this war: Obama, Kerry, Hagel, McCain and others in the US; Cameron and Hague in Britain; Hollande in France; and Erdogan in Turkey. None of them has any proof of their accusation that the Syrian army used chemical weapons around Damascus, but proof is beside the point. Their Muslim contras have failed to destroy the government in Damascus and now in the chemical weapons attack they have their pretext for doing the job themselves.

The US administration is now deciding how long this attack should last. Should it be a few days, or a few months? Should it be aimed at just punishing the ‘regime’ or should it be aimed at destroying it altogether, which seems to be the emerging consensus? They are talking this over confidently, almost nonchalantly, McCain playing poker on his mobile phone because he is so bored, as though  their  missile attacks on other countries have lulled them into thinking that their military power is so great  they could not possibly be hurt themselves.

Erdogan wants a ‘Kosovo-style’ aerial campaign.  In 1999, NATO aircraft flew more than 38,000 ‘sorties’ over Yugoslavia, of which number 10,484 were strike attacks. Operation Allied Force lasted for 78 days, not the 30 days claimed by Kerry when being questioned by the Senate committee which finally voted for war on Syria. In 2011 NATO launched Operation Unified Protector against Libya ‘to protect the people from attack or threat of attack.’ This particular  ‘operation’ lasted for seven months, during which 26,500 ‘sorties’ were flown, 9700 of them strike sorties.  Even the National Transitional Council, the incoming government after the destruction of the government in Tripoli, said 25,000 people had been killed. A similar operation over Syria, a country much better able to defend itself, and with powerful allies besides, would cause enormous further destruction and the death of many thousands of people. This is the meaning of ‘Kosovo-style’ aerial warfare.  In fact, what is shaping up is even worse, an air war that will have more in common with Iraq than the bombing of Yugoslavia. The targets and objectives are being expanded all the time.

Saudi Arabia has no politicians and no public opinion polls which would tell us what the Saudi people think of their government and its role in the destruction of Syria. The only country in which the government and the people are clearly united in their support for an attack on Syria is Israel. Polls show that nearly 70 per cent of  Jewish Israelis – Palestinians are fully against it – are in favor of the US striking Syria, while thinking that Israel should stay out unless Syria or Hezbollah retaliate with strikes against Israeli targets. The British vote against war and Obama’s hesitation forced Israel and its lobbyists in the US to break cover, ending the silly pretense that Israel is not involved in Syria and does not really care who wins. David Horowitz, the former editor of the Jerusalem Post, wrote an infuriated piece about  ‘how a perfect storm of British ineptitude and gutlessness sent the wrong message to the butcher of Damascus and left Israel more certain than ever that it can rely only on itself.’ The novelist Noah Beck accused Obama of being spineless. Others in the media called him weak and unreliable.  By ‘blinking’, he had sent a dangerous message to ‘cruel regimes’ and terrorists everywhere. Debkafile, an outlet for disinformation and other scrapings from the floor of Israeli intelligence, echoed this line. Obama’s   ‘about turn’ had let Iran, Syria and Hezbollah ‘off the hook ’, creating a ‘military nightmare’ for Israel, Jordan and Turkey.

The same lines of attack and support were duplicated by Israel’s formal and informal lobbyists in the US.  Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post sneered at Obama for hesitating: ‘Perhaps we should be publishing the exact time the bombs will fall lest we disrupt dinner in Damascus’. Wrote William Kristol in the Weekly Standard: ‘Is President Obama going wobbly on Syria? No. He’s always been wobbly on Syria – and on pretty much everything else … the worst outcome would be for Obama not to call Congress back or not to act at all but to falter and retreat. For his retreat would be America’s retreat and his humiliation America’s humiliation.’ Kristol’s stablemate, Thomas Donnelly, thought Obama content ‘‘to see Assad kill his own people – which he has done in the tens if not hundreds of thousands – as long as Assad doesn’t use chemical weapons’. Thomas Friedman wrote in the New York Times that the most likely option for Syria was partition, ‘with the pro-Assad, predominantly Alawite Syrians controlling one region and the Sunni and Kurdish Syrians controlling the rest.’ The fragmentation of Syria on ethno-religious lines, of course, has been a Zionist objective for decades. No mention by Friedman of the Druze,  but never mind that:  in the interim,  America’s best option is not the launching of Cruise missiles ‘but an increase in the training and arming of the Free Syrian Army – including the antitank and antiaircraft weapons it’s long sought.’ Friedman thought this might increase the influence on the ground of the ‘more moderate groups over the jihadist ones.’

At the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the entire stable was off and running. ‘Forget the red line and engage in Syria,’ wrote David Schenker, as if the US has not been intensely engaged in Syria for the past three years, fomenting the violence which has built up to the present catastrophic situation.  Wrote Robert Satloff: ‘Given the strategic stakes at play in Syria which touches [sic.] on every key American interest in the region, the wiser course of action is to take the opportunity of the Assad regime’s flagrant violation of global norms to take action that hastens the end of Assad’s regime … this will also enhance the credibility of the president’s commitment to prevent Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability.’ Michael Herzog thought the US could learn from Israeli air attacks on Syria: ‘In Israel’s experience Assad has proven to be a rational (if ruthless) actor. He was deterred from responding to recent and past strikes because he did not want to invite the consequences of Israeli military might. Therefore, the United States has a good chance of deterring him as well.’

In Commentary, Max Boot called on the US to use air power in cooperation with ground action by ‘vetted’ rebel forces to ‘cripple and ultimately bring down Assad’s regime, making impossible further atrocities such as the use of chemical weapons.’ How these forces are to be ‘vetted’ and how they, rather than the Islamist groups who are doing most of the fighting, could bring down the ‘regime’  Boot does not say, most probably because he doesn’t know. Daniel Pipes, the long-term advocate of Israeli violence in the Middle East, writing in National Review online, wanted not a ‘limited’ strike but something that would do real damage and brings the ‘regime’ down.

Outside these journals and the think tanks, former ‘government advisers’ and ‘foreign policy experts’  signed a petition calling for ‘direct military strikes against the pillars of the Assad regime’.  Many of the names will be familiar from the Project for the New American Century and plans laid long ago for a series of wars in the Middle East: Elliott Abrams, Fouad Ajami, Gary Bauer, Max Boot, Ellen Bork, Eliot A. Cohen, Paula Dobriansky, Thomas Donnelly, Douglas Feith, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Robert Kagan, William Kristol, Bernard-Henri Levy, Michael Makovsky, Joshua Muravchik, Martin Peretz, Karl Rove, Randy Scheunemann, Leon Wieseltier and Radwan Ziadeh.

AIPAC and the Jewish organizations piled the pressure on Congress and the White House. AIPAC’s statement on Syria stressed the sending of a ‘forceful message of resolve to Iran and Hizbullah’ at a time ‘Iran is racing towards obtaining nuclear capability.’ The Politico website quoted unnamed AIPAC officials as saying that ‘some 250 Jewish leaders and AIPAC activists will storm the halls on Capitol Hill beginning next week to persuade lawmakers that Congress must adopt the resolution or risk emboldening Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear weapon … they are expected to lobby virtually every member of Congress’. Their ‘stepped-up involvement’ comes at a welcome time for the White House, wrote the Politico correspondent, given its difficulty in securing support for the resolution. The two top Republican leaders in the Senate, minority leader Mitch McConnell and minority whip John Comyn, had already been urged ‘by top Jewish donors and AIPAC allies’ to back the war resolution.

The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations called for an attack that would demonstrate ‘accountability’ to ‘those who possess weapons of mass destruction, particularly Iran and Hezbollah.’ Morris Amitay of the pro-Israel Washington Political Action Committee thought that ‘for our [United States] credibility we have to do something.’ Bloomberg reported the Republican Jewish Coalition as sending an ‘action alert’ to its 45,000 members ‘directing them to tell Congress to authorize force.’ The same message of support for an attack was sent out by the National Jewish Democratic Council and   Abe Foxman of the so-called Anti-Defamation League, who stressed that while ‘he’s not doing this for Israel,’ the attack may have  serious consequences for Israel.

With the exception of the Foxman statement, these organizations carefully kept any mention of Israel out of their public statements. In off the record discussions, however, it was the central concern. On August 30 Obama had a conference call with 1000 rabbis, with Syria, ‘at the White House’s request,’ according to Bloomberg, being the first question asked. Iran was not mentioned either but, said a leading rabbi from New York, ‘we have a strong stake in the world taking seriously our insistence that weapons of mass destruction should not proliferate’. Bloomberg quoted Obama as ‘arguing’ that ‘a military response is necessary to uphold a longstanding international ban on the use of chemical weapons use and to deter Assad from using them again on his own people or such neighbors as Israel and Jordan.’ Of course, this was not an argument at all but Obama telling the rabbis what they wanted to hear. In a separate approach, 17 leading rabbis ‘covering the religious and political spectrum’, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, sent a letter to Congress calling on it to authorize force against Syria. The language could scarcely be more Orwellian: ‘Through this act, Congress has the capacity to save   thousands of lives.’

Another conference call was held between representatives of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and White House deputy national security advisors Tony Blinken and Ben Rhodes. The representatives waited until Blinken and Rhodes were ‘off the call’ before advising constituent organizations ‘not to make their statements ‘Israel-centric’,’ according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. A powerful figure wheeled out by the lobby is Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire who funds settlement in Jerusalem and on the West Bank and spent (along with his wife) $93 million trying to see Obama defeated in the presidential election last year. Adelson is a board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition and supports the pressure it is putting on Congress to authorize a military attack on Syria.

The carefully crafted outlines of this deceitful campaign are very evident:

1. This is not about Israel
2. This is about America’s national interest.
3. This is about punishing a government which has used chemical weapons on its own people.
4. This is about saving lives
5. This is about a government that has no respect for international law and norms.
6. This is about sending a ‘forceful message of resolve to Hezbollah and Iran.’
7. This is about showing that Obama’s red lines are not empty threats.

Obama’s own ‘full court press strategy’ includes interviews with six television anchors ahead of the congressional vote. The moment Obama said everything AIPAC wanted to hear during the primaries was the moment he took the first step into the tight corner in which he now finds himself. This is now a global confrontation with a lot at stake besides Israel’s interests, but it is pushing as hard as it can to make sure this war goes ahead.  Like David Cameron, a congressional vote against war will allow Obama to back out of the corner by saying that the American people have spoken and he cannot take them into war against their wishes. Will he do that, or is really going to plunge his country into war irrespective of what Congress or the American people think? By the end of the coming week we should have the answer.

Palestine: Dozens of olive trees uprooted & demolition notifications

(Palestine, file photo)

Settlers uproot dozens of olive trees in Yatta

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– A number of settlers uprooted on Sunday evening more than forty olive trees in Yatta, south of al-Khalil in the southern West Bank.

Activist Rateb Jabour told PIC that the settlers stormed Khirbet Homra to the east of Yatta, and started uprooting more than 40 olive trees under the protection of the occupation forces.

Dozens of settlers carried out similar attacks in areas south of al-Khalil. They prevented farmers from entering their lands and threatened to open fire at them.

Meanwhile, the settlers broke the windows of a number of Palestinian vehicles in Nablus.

————————————————————————————-

IOA notifies the demolition of 2 buildings in Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM, (PIC)– The Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) notified on Sunday the demolition of two buildings in Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank.

The so-called Israeli Civil Administration stormed Khader town in Bethlehem and handed a notification for the demolition of a house and agricultural barn under the pretext of being built without a permit, local sources confirmed.

The sources said that elements of the Civil Administration handed over the Palestinian citizen Nader Salah notifications to demolish his house and an agricultural barn under the pretext of being built without a permit and next to the Apartheid Wall.

—————————————————————————————-

Occupation notifies demolition of commercial structures in Silwan

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Jerusalem Municipality handed out on Sunday afternoon administrative demolition orders against a number of commercial structures, and a sports stadium in the town of Silwan in Jerusalem, under the pretext of unlicensed construction.

The Information Center in Wadi Hilwa reported that the Israeli municipal teams and forces raided the town and notified the demolition of the Stadium of Wadi Hilweh.

It added the stadium is set up on an area of 850 square meters and includes 4 huts, 3 of which for horses and one for sports equipment.

Residents of Wadi Hilweh neighborhood transferred the land into a playground in late 2010, however after several months the occupation authorities demolished a hut set up in the stadium, in addition to bulldozing the land.

The Municipal teams also handed out demolition orders to the owners of 3 shops built 20 years ago in the neighborhood of Wadi Hilweh, under the pretext of unlicensed construction.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that the occupation Municipal teams also notified the demolition of 3 shops for selling birds, built since 2001.

Syria: ‘No “irrefutable” evidence of use of chemical weapons, but a “strong common-sense test irrespective of the intelligence”‘???

Syria agrees to put chemical weapons under international control

Press TV

Syria has welcomed Russia’s initiative to put its chemical weapons stockpile under international control in a bid to avert US military intervention.

The offer was made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday during talks with his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem in Moscow.

Muallem said he welcomed the proposal, which calls on Syria to hand over control of its chemical weapons to the international community and then have them destroyed.

“I state that the Syrian Arab Republic welcomes the Russian initiative, motivated by the Syrian leadership’s concern for the lives of our citizens and the security of our country, and also motivated by our confidence in the wisdom of the Russian leadership, which is attempting to prevent American aggression against our people,” Muallem said through an interpreter.

The Russian initiative came shortly after US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in London that the only way for Syria to avoid military action is to hand over its entire stockpile of chemical weapons within the next week.

But, US officials later said that Kerry was making a “rhetorical argument” rather than a serious offer.

Washington is struggling to secure support for military action against Syria over the accusation that the Syrian government was involved in a deadly chemical attack near Damascus on August 21.

The White House, however, has admitted it has no “irrefutable” evidence of Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons, but said a “strong common-sense test irrespective of the intelligence” suggested the Syrian army was responsible for the August poison gas attack.

The US Senate will vote on authorizing military intervention in Syria later this week.

Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned of massive retaliation if the United States launches a military strike against his country.

Assad told CBS Television on Monday that Washington should “expect everything” if US forces attack his country.

——————————————————————————————-

Lavrov, Al-Moallem Urge Political Solution for Syria Crisis: US Strike to Outburst Terrorism in ME

Al Ahed news

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed Monday that “more states share Russia’s belief that military action in Syria will only enable terrorism.”

Speaking at a press conference along with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moallem, Lavrov highlighted that Moscow fully supports calls by the UN Security Council to bring chemical experts back to Syria to complete their mission.
“UN inspectors should return to Syria to investigate the alleged use of chemical arms,” he said, and pointed out that his country is keen on adhering to international agreements.

He further called for an investigation to be carried out over the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria in a professional and objective manner. “The findings of the investigation should then be referred to the UN Security Council.”

In parallel, Lavrov warned that “strikes on Syria would cause the outburst of terrorism in the region.”

“We are very concerned with the future of the Middle East,” the head of Moscow’s diplomacy mentioned , and emphasized that Damascus has reacted positively to Moscow’s urging for the opposition and the government to unite their efforts in expelling terrorists from Syria.

Moreover, the Russian FM added: “Both countries are certain that a political settlement is still possible, although the situation is very serious.”

Lavrov also stressed that “there is more than enough evidence to support the claim that the rebels are behind the chemical attack.”

“We plan to ask the Syrian opposition to agree clearly on “Geneva 2″ conference without preconditions,” he declared, as he urged the US to concentrate on the political solutions to Syria crisis instead of setting war scenarios
For his part, the Syrian FM questioned the real intentions behind the US strike on Syria: “We ask about the motivation of US to launch a strike against us.”

Meanwhile, he suspected that the US strike aims at attacking the Syrian army in favor of al-Qaeda and its extremists, particularly al-Nusra Front.

“There is testimony of a Mother Agnes – a mother Superior at a monastery in Syria, suggesting that the whole affair with the chemical weapons was a staged frame-up operation,” al-Moallem clarified.

However, he emphasized that “diplomatic efforts have not been exhausted.”
Al-Moallem expressed his admiration with a large portion of the American public for voicing their outright disagreement with the proposed strike.

“A president who seeks peace is more powerful than one who seeks war,” he said, wondering: “How will Obama justify empowering al-Qaeda, especially we are close to the anniversary of the September 11 attacks?”

On the Russian position, al-Moallem praised the Russian administration for doing everything in its power to “prevent an act of aggression.”

He added that the Syrian side “holds in high regard the unflinching position of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.”

He also stated that the impending foreign intervention will first and foremost affect the peaceful Syrian population. “As history shows, the first victims in any military conflict are women and children”, the FM said.

—————————————————————————————

Kerry: End to Syria War Must Be Political Not Military, Handover of Chemical arms to Prevent Attack

Al Ahed news

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that the solution to the Syrian conflict must be political not military.

However, he claimed that air strikes were essential to stop “Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regime from killing its own people with chemical weapons.”

“Let me be clear, the United States, President Obama, myself, others are in full agreement that the end of the conflict in Syria requires a political solution. There is no military solution, we have no illusions about that,” he said after talks with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

In parallel, he stated: “A resolution to this has to come about because the parties are prepared to come and negotiate that political solution.”

“A resolution will not be found on the battlefield, but at that negotiating table. But we have to get to that table,” Kerry said from London.

He further claimed that al-Assad could avoid a military strike by turning over all his chemical weapons within a week but immediately made clear he was sure that would never happen.

When asked by a reporter whether there was anything al-Assad’s government could do or offer to stop any attack, Kerry said:

“Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week – turn it over, all of it without delay and allow the full and total accounting (of it) but he isn’t about to do it and it can’t be done.”

“If you want to send Iran and Hizbullah and al-Assad a congratulatory message: ‘You guys can do what you want,’ you’d say: ‘Don’t do anything.’

“We believe that is dangerous and we will face this down the road in some more significant way if we’re not prepared to take … a stand now,” Kerry said.

He also stressed the relationship between Britain and the United States was as strong as ever despite the British parliament having decided not to join military action against Syria.

“The relationship between the United States and the UK has often been described as special, essential and it has been described thus because it is,” Kerry said. “The bond .. is bigger than one vote.”

Kerry said while in London he had held talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas which were “productive and information” but did not give any further details.

For his part, Hague said that Washington had the “full diplomatic support of the United Kingdom” even though it will not take part in military action.

“They have the full diplomatic support of the United Kingdom,” said Hague, and pointed out that “the United Kingdom will continue to play an active role in addressing the Syria crisis and working with our closest ally in the coming weeks and months.”

—————————————————————————————-

Assad: US Will ’Pay the Price’ If It Attacks Syria

Al Manar

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warned Washington on AssadMonday to brace for retaliation if US forces attacked his country, as he categorically rejected accusing the army of using chemical weapons in Damascus.

“You’re going to pay the price if you’re not wise. There are going to be repercussions,” President Assad told CBS television.

“It’s an area where everything is on the brink of explosion. You have to expect everything.”

Assad also warned of the risks of possible chemical attacks by rebels or “terrorists” if there was outside intervention in Syria.

“You should expect everything. The government’s not the only player in this region. You have different parties, different factions, different ideologies. You have everything in this decision now,” President Assad said.

Assad denied the army carried out a deadly chemical weapons attack on August 21 on the outskirts of Damascus, as alleged by the United States and some of its allies.

“How can you talk about what happened if you don’t have evidence?” he asked in the interview, in which he spoke English.

“We’re not like the American administration, we’re not like the social media administration or government. We’re the government that deals with evidence.”
Assad noted that the Syrian army had themselves in fact been attacked by rebels using chemical arms.

“But in the area where they say the government used chemical weapons, we only have video and we only have pictures and allegations. We’re not there. Our forces, our police, our institutions don’t think this,” Assad said.

Asked whether the repercussions President Assad predicted could include the use of more chemical weapons, Assad replied: “That depends. If the rebels or the terrorists in this region or any other group have it, it could happen. I don’t know. I’m not a fortune teller to tell you what’s going to happen.”

Striking Russia through Syria

(Putin-Obama, file photo)

by Linh Dinh, source

We’re witnessing the last grotesque convulsions of a dying empire. As it threatens humanity with annihilation, it’s also nauseating the still sane among us with an unending farce, as in the hypocrite Kerry declaring, “this is not the time to be silent spectators to slaughter,” but John, you lying cynic, the world has been asked to be a mute audience to American mass murder for how long now? But Johnny wants more, much more.

Feigning outrage, the former anti-war darling and Democratic Presidential candidate was talking about the Syria chemical attack, which was likely the work of America itself, through its crazed terrorists, though Washington is trying hard to convince incredulous listeners that Assad somehow did this just so the US of A could have the excuse to destroy him, along with thousands of innocent Syrians. Putin called this explanation nonsense, and even branded Kerry a liar, and the UN has even concluded that an earlier chemical attack, also blamed on Assad, was committed by the American-backed “rebels.”

As in so many other wars, the US must save civilians by killing or maiming them, as well as poisoning their environments for centuries. Though the US routinely targets civilian infrastructures such as electrical stations and water treatment plants, and uses means of war that murder long after the last bullet is fired, as in cluster bombs and depleted uranium, for example, it is now acting livid over Assad’s alleged use of sarin.

But in his ketchup-bleeding heart, Kerry knows full well that America’s aggression against Syria is not over sarin but natural gas. First of, Syria’s biggest supporter, Russia, is the world’s leading exporter of this stuff, and supplies Europe with nearly 40% of its needs, so that’s a lot of leverage, Watson. If overly irked by America’s puppets in NATO, Russia can retaliate by turning off the gas, as has been done several times already.

To wiggle out of this dependence, another source of natural gas was needed, and Qatar proposed a pipeline to Europe by way of Syria, except Assad would not acquiesce. Russia is Assad’s main protector, after all, and Russian navy ships have docked in the Syrian port of Tartus since 1971. Rebuffed, the US, France, England, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others decided to back terrorists to unseat Assad. Aiming to destroy Syria, this charming group calls itself the Friends of Syria, naturally. A long time enemy of Syria, Israel also supports this hostility, though its escalation might just wipe a good chunk of this pariah state off the map.

Syria has agreed to a pipeline originating from Iran, however. A much less significant source of natural gas than Qatar, Iran will hardly dent Russia’s profits, and since it’s also a Russian ally, the gas flow to Europe will still be controlled by Moscow. So Russia has Europe by the balls, so to speak, especially in winter, when enough people freeze to death as is. Many countries are entirely dependent on Russian natural gas, while France only imports a manageable 14%, and the UK, none, so they can afford to kiss Uncle Sam’s withered ass a bit harder, though the Brits, interestingly this time, have opted out of the current madness.

A war on Syria, then, is an attack on Russia itself, and that’s why Russian warships are patrolling the Mediterranean. Countering the American menace, Russia will certainly be no silent spectator, and to show support for Russia and Syria, a Chinese warship has also shown up, with more coming. Though Washington talks of a “warning shot across the bow” or “tailored strike,” a quickie hit and run that won’t distract too much from the exhilarating start of football season, World War III might just erupt, for we haven’t been this close to universal calamity in half a century.

Two weeks ago, only 9% of Americans favored a military strike against Syria, but now, with such an onslaught of propaganda, up to 42% support it, but this figure might be exaggerated since it is reported by NBC News, a subsidiary of war profiteering General Electric.

Voices of dissent have surfaced even in the corporate media, however, for wiser heads can’t help but realize that a war against Syria and Russia will bring much grief and terror to us all, including those busy watching a missed tackle or punt return. The New York Times even showed on its front page a photo of Syrian “rebels” about to execute kneeling, shirtless prisoners, with their heads close to the ground. Much more damning images exist, and the Times has surely known about them, but it is choosing to feature this now, as if to put the kibosh on Obama and his war mongers. CNN televised war nut McCain being challenged by outraged citizens at a town meeting, though it did allow the old POW to have the last word in a live interview.

As America oscillates over its death wish, Obama is himself blinking, and we can only hope that Barack will just go on unleashing unnatural, gaseous nonsense, and not Tomahawk missiles towards Damascus. It’s hard to believe, but this man has turned out to be more preposterous than Bush, so if the trend holds, our next President will be a Mummer, some Lucha Libre guy or, why not, a real rodeo clown. In any case, it was quite a spectacle to see Obama fly to Russia to become Putin’s court jester, for he delivered one joke after another, most of them unintended.

En route to Saint Petersburg, Obama stopped in Sweden, and there, promised that he would bug Putin about Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who died in Soviet custody in 1945. The Nobel Peace laureate never wastes a chance to appear humanitarian and noble, and the Swedes had also done him a favor by prosecuting Assange over that CIA-staged threesome, but the real reason Obama dug up this man, one suspects, was to draw a parallel between Wallenberg’s protection of Jews in World War II with himself trying to “save” Syrians today. Brilliant! He’s evoking this famous saver of Jews to mass murder more Arabs. In the process, though, he will trigger the deaths of countless others, maybe even you.

Palestine: Soldiers burn down ancient olive trees, break gate of monastery & workers wounded

IOF soldiers burn down ancient olive trees, break gate of monastery

BETHLEHEM, (PIC)– Israeli occupation forces (IOF) burned down a number of olive trees, some of which are one thousand years old, and broke the gate of a monastery south of Bethlehem on Saturday evening.

Ahmed Salah, the coordinator of anti-wall and settlement committees in Al-Khader village, said that IOF soldiers fired teargas and stun grenades at areas belonging to the Mar Jeriess monastery in the Old City of Al-Khader.

The resultant fire burned down ancient olive trees, Salah said, adding that the soldiers attacked the monastery and destroyed its main gate. He said that the soldiers warned against rebuilding the gate.

————————————————————————————–

Jewish settlers attack, damage Palestinian vehicles

NABLUS, (PIC)– Jewish settlers attacked Palestinian vehicles passing along the Nablus-Ramallah road and damaged 25 cars.

Ghassan Daghlas, in charge of settlement activity north of the West Bank, said that Israeli occupation forces closed the Hawara roadblock, south of Nablus, after the attack. The settlers threw rocks and empty bottles on the passing cars.

In another incident, IOF patrols set up roadblocks in various areas of Salfit province and searched buses.

————————————————————————————-

IOF soldiers shoot, wound Palestinian workers

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– Israeli occupation forces (IOF) shot at and wounded two Palestinian workers for trying to cross the separation wall near Daheriya town in Al-Khalil province.

Quds Press quoted local sources as saying that an IOF patrol chased a vehicle carrying the workers on Saturday and shot at them wounding two of the workers in their feet.

The sources said that both workers are from Yatta town in Al-Khalil, describing the injuries of one of them as moderate.

They said that one of the workers was taken to a hospital in Al-Khalil while the other was taken to an Israeli hospital.

IOF soldiers have been increasing their chase of Palestinian workers trying to enter the Green Line over the past week especially on Friday and Saturday.

Syria: EU ministers call for “clear and firm” response & worldwide protests held against war

EU Ministers Call for “Clear and Firm” Response over Chemical Use in Syria

Al Manar

EU foreign ministers have called for a “clear and firm” response to the alleged Damascus chemical attack, the EU’s top diplomat Catherine Ashton said at a security policy meeting in Vilnius attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

“It seems to indicate strong evidence that the Syrian regime is responsible for these attacks as it is the only one that possesses chemical weapons agents and means of their delivery in a sufficient quantity,” Ashton said in a statement on the EU website.

But that call came with an appeal from the EU to the United States not to commence military operations against the Syrian regime until the publication of a UN report into the alleged use of chemical weapons in the conflict, the Associated Press reported.

“We note the on-going UN investigation on the August 21 attack and further investigations on other chemical weapons attacks carried out in this conflict. It hopes a preliminary report of this first investigation can be released as soon as possible and welcomes [French] President Hollande‘s statement to wait for this report before any further action,” Ashton said.

The UN weapons inspectors’ report on chemical arms use in Syria is likely to be handed in at the end of next week, President Hollande said Saturday, Reuters reported.

“When the (US) Congress will have voted on Thursday or Friday and when we will have the inspectors’ report, likely at the end of the week, a decision will have to be made,” Hollande said.

Kerry expressed his gratitude to the EU ministers for their “strong position” on Syria, Reuters reported.

————————————————————————————-

Iran, Iraq Warn against Repercussions of Syria Strike

Al Manar

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Zarif stressed that who will launch an aggression against Syria will not be able to set limits for it, noting that Obama was entrapped.

“Iran is worried about inflaming a regional war whose repercussions will reach the world,” Zarif said,” We call on the parties of the Syrian crisis to pursue the political track in order to reach a solution.”

Iran FM pointed out that Tehran will exert all possible efforts to prevent the US-led strike against Syria, adding that the role of Iraq and other states is basic to halt the war which harm the entire region.

“Iran and Iraq have the right to condemn the use of chemical weapons more than any other country as we were the victims of these weapons,” Zarif emphasized.

Iran FM had already met Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki ad Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi to view Iraq’s attitude towards the war against Syria.

————————————————————————————–

Latin American States Denounce Any Possible Aggression against Syria

Al Manar

The nine Latin American states (ALBA) condemned any possible aggression against Syria and announced dispatching humanitarian aids to the Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

“The Bolivarian alliance council in American denounces any possible strike against Syria,” ALBA Secretary General said in a statement from Venezuela.

“ALBA asks the U.S. to refrain from launching a military aggression against the Syrian people and government,” he added, accusing the US administration of resorting to the same strategies that it used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt.

ALBA further decided to dispatch humanitarian aidss, including foodstuffs, to the Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

AlBA includes most of the Latin American states, like Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia.

————————————————————————————

Worldwide protests held against war on Syria

Press TV

People across the world have once again held anti-war demonstrations, protesting at possible US-led military intervention in Syria.

In the Lebanese capital, Beirut, hundreds of anti-war protesters gathered outside the US Embassy for the second consecutive day.

The demonstrators condemned Washington’s efforts to gain domestic and international approval for a strike on Syria.

In the Pakistani port city of Karachi, – Muslims demonstrated against threats of war on Damascus.

Similar protests were also held in the Philippines capital, Manila, where anti-war demonstrators took to the streets.

In Canada, protesters gathered in Toronto and Ottawa.

Anti-war rallies were also held across the United States including in the US states of California, Washington, New York, Louisiana, and Michigan.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis on Sunday slammed a possible war on Syria led by the US as a “commercial war to sell arms.”

—————————————————————————————-

Pope Reiterates Rejection for Syria Strike

Al Manar

Pope Francis reiterated his opposition to the US-led strike against Syria and denounced the “trade war” phenomenon which has recently pervaded, calling on the leaders to pursue a political solution for the crisis.

“Violence and war lead only to death, they speak of death! Violence and war are the language of death!” Francis addressed the Christians in St Peter’s Square.

“We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves. As if it were normal, we continue to sow destruction, pain, death!” said Francis.

Francis, who two days ago branded a military solution in Syria “a futile pursuit,” led a global day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria, the Middle East and the world.

Damascus notes: Late night ‘town meetings’ before the American attack

(Syria-file photo)

by Franklin Lamb, Al Manar

Where was Professor Richard Falk when I Needed Him?

Damascus

The Persians, whose bright, articulate students are well known internationally, and with whom this observer has been honored to discuss international politics on several occasions, may well have met their intellectual match in the Syrian Arabs. I base this conclusion on what is happening among the public in Damascus, not just in the universities and schools, but during impromptu “marketplace of ideas” sessions increasingly taking place on the streets and in coffee houses and places of public gathering.

Franklin, FalkLast night was one example. Way past this observer’s bedtime, some friends dropped by, desiring to sit outside “for a few minutes” to discuss the latest news from Washington and St. Petersburg. We ended up perching ourselves on concrete slabs that divide Al Bahsa Street in front of my hotel—where no cars are allowed—for more than three hours! Miss Hiba, a wild and wonderful Palestinian journalist born in Yarmouk camp, interpreted for us. The congregation very quickly grew as a few soldiers, shabiha and national defense force types showed up to see what was going on. Some even joined in the fast moving, animated discussion.

There were several students and neighborhood residents assembling and at the start of the ‘seminar” it quickly became obvious that Syrians are carefully tracking developments in the run-up to the widely expected “9/12/13 black Friday” now less than one week away. It is this date when many Damascenes and foreign observers believe the American attack will begin.

Life appears on the surface fairly normal, but tensions are rising and people are alarmed at the prospects of an American attack. This observer was educated by these Syrians about a number of things, including the conflict raging here, and on how events locally and internationally are apt to unfold.

Very few here, if any, are inclined to believe that the American attack will be limited or short, this despite the fact that for the past few days the Obama team has made frequent use of the word “degrade” (as in demolish or destroy, one might note); nor do they believe its sole purpose is to send a message or to punish the Syrian leadership.

An elderly gentleman who owns a pharmacy around the corner explained, “It’s regime change here and in Tehran and nothing less! They will bomb anywhere at will because their top 75 listed targets have already been emptied and keep shifting. We are all working to provide Obama with no targets.”

This observer was dumbfounded by the sophistication of the comments made at the impromptu gathering. One Damascus University student preparing to return to classes later this month rattled off some likely or projected results of the upcoming Congressional vote, explaining to the growing assembly that in the House of Representatives the count, as of 9/4/13, could be viewed as 47 members firmly or inclined toward voting yes; 187 firmly or inclined to a no vote, with 220 unknown or undecided. Then she announced she was pretty certain the President will be forced to withdraw the resolution or postpone a vote in the House.

Another lady, who I have seen around my hotel garden, mentioned yesterday’s report in the Washington Post that the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has linked with the Israeli lobby AIPAC in an all-out public campaign for a U.S. war on Syria. I had no idea about this, and wondered how she was so current with her information. She then explained, “So far, only 21 senators have said they support or are likely to support the Obama resolution, thirteen have said they oppose or are likely to oppose the resolution, while 66 votes are undecided or unknown.”

By early this morning, when our gathering had begun drawing to a close, the conversation had made its way around to the U.S. Constitution. One young man, presumably a law student, zeroed in on Article One, Section Eight, Clause 11, reciting for this observer not a summary, mind you, but word-for-word—from memory—“The Congress shall have Power To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.

He then explained that the particular passage provides no specific format for what form any legislation must have in order to be considered a “Declaration of War,” nor does the Constitution itself use this term. Then came the zinger: “Sir can you compare and contrast this Article and Clause with the 1973 War Powers Act and share with us your interpretation of both with respect to what your President is threatening to do to my country.”

“Who is this guy?” I thought to myself, and I began to stutter, thinking to myself, somewhat in anguish, “Where is Professor Richard Falk when I need him. For sure he could answer this question perfectly.”

Not knowing where or how to begin to answer the gentleman, I mumbled something like “that’s an excellent question, can we meet later to discuss it because it’s very late now.”

But mercifully, just as I glanced at my watch, noticing it was 4:28 a.m., we all heard the Adhan, (Islamic call to prayer) called out by a muezzin from the nearby mosque. The somehow reassuring strains, even a bit eerie, wafted around us. The time had come for al fajr (Dawn) prayers. It was this observer’s good luck; I could duck the question.

The soldiers on the street fell silent, listening, becoming contemplative. One can only imagine their ruminations about next week’s likely American bombing campaign. Most everyone began now to disperse. I was saved. No thanks to Professor Falk.

The people of the Syrian Arab Republic are politically sophisticated and amazingly well informed as to the current crisis, even down to specifics on external players and their plans.

One can only wish them well and join with them and with all people of good will—as many Christians and reportedly even more Muslims plan to do—for the day of fasting and prayer called by his Holiness Pope Francis for September 7, 2013.

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Syria and can be reached c/o fplamb@gmail.com

Palestine: More than 40 Palestinians kidnapped in Aroub refugee camp raids

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Saturday kidnapped more than 40 Palestinians from their homes in Aroub refugee camp, north of Al-Khalil city.

Local sources told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that scores of Israeli troops accompanied by intelligence officers stormed the camp and carried out violent raids on homes, which caused widespread panic among children and women.

They added that more than 40 Palestinian young men and children, mostly students, were taken prisoners under different pretexts during the campaign.

They noted that the IOF handcuffed and blindfolded the detainees and dealt with them together with their families violently and without any mercy.

In an earlier incident on Thursday afternoon, fierce clashes broke out between dozens of Palestinian young men and invading troops in Al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Al-Khalil.

Eyewitnesses told the PIC that the clashes happened after the IOF stormed the camp and embarked on firing tear gas grenades at a group of Palestinian young men.

They added that tear gas grenades fell onto some Palestinian homes causing children and women to suffer severe suffocation.

On the evening of the same day, the IOF established a checkpoint on the bypass road known as Route 60, north of Al-Khalil, and intercepted cars for search.

Eyewitnesses told the PIC that the IOF at this checkpoint detained a 20-year-old university student identified as Subhi Jawabra for one and a half hours before taking him in chain to Etzion detention center.

The IOF also set up a checkpoint near Tarama area, south of Al-Khalil, and embarked on searching Palestinian cars without any reported detentions.

Five people shot dead by Indian paramilitary troops in Kashmir

Press TV

Protests have erupted in the Indian-administered Kashmir after at least five people were killed and a dozen were injured by Indian paramilitary troops, Press TV reports.

Security sources said the shootout took place in the Shopian district, situated about 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Srinagar, the main city in the Indian-administered Kashmir, on Saturday.

According to Indian security forces the shooting was aimed at repulsing an alleged militant attack. Witnesses and locals, however, refused the claim, saying that Indian troops opened fire unprovoked. The shooting incident left at least a dozen people injured mostly with wounds in their stomach.

Later in the day, hundreds of people took to the streets in Shopian district to voice their resentment over the shooting with police firing tear gas and using batons to disperse the crowds.

Meanwhile, at least nine people, including five policemen and two members of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), sustained injuries in a grenade attack in Kashmir on Saturday.

Police said the attack happened in Pulwama town, situated about 35 kilometers (21 miles) south of Srinagar.

Locals said the attack created panic in the town. Contingents of police and CRPF rushed to the site soon after the attack, and an investigation is underway.

Kashmir lies at the heart of more than 60 years of hostility between India and Pakistan. Both countries claim the region in full but each only has control over a section of the territory.

Over the past two decades, the conflict in Kashmir has left over 47,000 people dead by the official count, although other sources say the death toll could be as high as 90,000.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 556 other followers