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“Israel” opens virtual embassy to GCC countries on Twitter

Al Ahed news

“Israel” has followed the path of United States foreign policy on the Middle East, by opening a “virtual embassy” called “Israel” in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on twitter.

The “Israeli” foreign ministry has launched the Twitter account, describing itself as the official channel of the “virtual “Israeli” embassy to GCC countries” and encourages its followers to leave comments.

The account is dedicated to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain; and it’s aimed at promoting dialogue with the citizens of these countries.
The move is part of “Israel’s” strategies to get closer to Arab countries after an unsuccessful experience with diplomatic offices in Oman and Qatar.

It was obliged to close its offices in these two countries in 2000 and 2009 respectively after escalating tensions between the “Israel” entity and Palestine.
A proficient diplomat with a vast diplomatic experience with Gulf diplomatic relations, Gary Koren, brought “Israel’s” virtual approach forward.

The virtual embassy could also serve as a way of avoiding diplomatic tussles with Arab countries. “Israel” has lately opened a diplomatic office in one of the Arab countries in the Middle East about 18 months ago, but has never named country. Nevertheless, expenses regarding the office have been featured in the Finance Ministry’s 2013-14 economic plans.

The foreign ministry doesn’t entertain discussing the subject.
The US is one of the first countries to use virtual embassies, some years ago, for Iran and Syria. It used these embassies to rally information and policies to the citizens of these two countries in Farsi and Arab respectively.

“Israeli” exports to the GCC are now worth about $500m per year, although all are made through third party countries making them difficult to track, according to Yitzhak Gal, professor of political economy at Tel Aviv University. “We decided [the virtual embassy] would be a very good tool to engage in a dialogue with people from the GCC,” said Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for the foreign ministry and one of those running the Twitter account.

“Our hope is to reach out and open lines of dialogue #KSA #Oman #Bahrain #UAE #Qatar #Kuwait,” was one of the tweets made by the “Israeli” account. It has already made four tweets.

Lord Ashdown: Syria ‘rebels’ need no arms, already received 3,500 tons of weapons

Lord Ashdown: Syria Rebels Need No Arms, Already Received 3,500 Tons of Weapons

Al Ahed news

The Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday that “Lord Ashdown, the former Liberal Democrat leader, spoke out against arming Syria’s rebels and called for pressure to be put on Qatar and Saudi Arabia to cut off funding for arms.”

“They do not need arms. It is an unchallenged figure that 3,500 tons of arms have been shipped in by way of Croatia with the assistance of the CIA, funded by the Saudis, funded by the Qataris, going almost exclusively to the more jihadist groups,” the former international high representative for Bosnia said in a debate.

He further stated: “I know where those weapons are coming from. They are the weapons left over from the Bosnian war. They are being shipped out in large measure through Croatian ports and airports and I can tell you they are making vast sums for corrupt forces in the Balkans.”

Lord Ashdown described the rebels as “not a fit and proper collection of people for us to be providing arms to”.

He also confirmed that he knew of “no occasion” when a route to peace was to provide more weapons.
He said Syria was the “front line in a wider conflict involving an attempt to build up a radicalized “jihadist” Sunni population to fight a war against the Shia.”

“This is about the preparations some are deliberately making to have a wider religious conflict,” he said.

He said there was a “really serious diplomatic route” to take to remove the “steam” out of the conflict.
“If it is the case that Saudi Arabia and Qatar are today funding the very extremists against which we are fighting, why are we not using international pressure, the United States, the European Union, to persuade Saudi Arabia and Qatar to stop, to prevent this?” he said.

“It seems to me we should not stumble towards arms when there is diplomacy still to be played out.”

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West sends Takfiri terrorists to Syria to get rid of them: Assad

Press TV

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says the Western countries are shifting their security burdens upon Syria by sending Takfiri terrorist groups to the Arab country to “get rid of them.”

In an interview with Syrian daily Al-Thawra published on Thursday, Assad said that the West believed that “these Takfiri (extremist) terrorist groups that have been a security concern for decades will come to Syria and be killed and that way they will get rid of them.”

The Syrian President emphasized that the western countries hoped that by “supporting terrorism in Syria” they could weaken the Arab country.

Assad also said that the countries supporting militants in Syria and providing them with military and financial aid no longer refer to the crisis as a “revolution.”

“The word revolution is no longer mentioned, now what’s being talked about is terrorism,” he said, adding, “They’ve moved to another phase. They distinguish between a good terrorist and a bad terrorist… but the word revolution is no longer mentioned.”

Syria has been gripped by unrest since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of Syrian soldiers and security forces, have been killed in the violence.

The Syrian government says the West and its regional allies, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, are supporting the militants.

Several international human rights organizations have said that the militants operating in Syria are committing war crimes.

On July 1, Syria’s Local Administration Minister Omar al-Ibrahim Ghalaounji said that foreign-sponsored terrorism in the country damaged about 9,000 state buildings and cost USD 15 billion in losses to the public sector between March 2011 and March 2013.

He added that the damage was the result of “terrorist attacks on government buildings and infrastructure.”

‘Hezbollah countering Western-led plots in Mideast’

(Terrorism, Syria-file photo)

by Yusuf Fernandez, source

Britain has failed to persuade the European Union to put the armed wing of Hezbollah on its list of “terrorist organizations”. Despite all Israeli and US pressures in recent months, European skeptical diplomats have refused to pass a measure that would damage European interests in Lebanon and the Muslim world as a whole.

The pretext for London´s appeal to the EU was the announcement in February by the previous right-wing Bulgarian government, a staunch ally of Washington and Tel Aviv, that two of the people responsible for the bombing attack at the Burgas Airport, which killed 5 Israeli tourists in July 2012, “belonged to the military wing of Hezbollah.” The Socialists, then in opposition, accused the executive of trying to implicate Hezbollah without proof.

Shortly after, the corrupt Bulgarian government was overthrown by a popular uprising and the new Bulgarian Socialist executive stated on June 5 that there was only a weak “indication” that Hezbollah might have been behind the attack and that this alone would not justify any EU move to list it as a terrorist group.

For its part, Hezbollah denied any involvement in the Burgas attack. Several experts have claimed that there is every indication that the bombing was actually a false-flag operation by Israel intelligence services in order to isolate Hezbollah and pressure the European Union to blacklist the Lebanese organization.

Furthermore, British claims were completely hypocritical as London has called to arm the terrorist groups in Syria, some of which are linked to al-Qaeda and are guilty of heinous atrocities. This stance, supported by PM David Cameron and FM William Hague, was recently condemned by top officials in Britain, including the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

Germany and France, which had previously rejected the British bid, changed their position. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius confirmed at a recent “Friends of Syria” meeting in Amman that Paris would also support Britain, which is not surprising at all as the Zionist Jews, who have been controlling the French foreign policy in the governments of Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, have multiplied their hostile policies towards Iran, Syria and other Muslim countries with the cooperation of the puppet terrorism-supporting regimes of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In recent years, Britain and France have been trying to promote neocolonial policies in order to gain control of some of their former colonies and set up servile governments, like they did in Libya.

Opposition to British plans

Other European countries have showen, however, their opposition to the British bid in order to defend their interests in Lebanon, where Hezbollah is not only a party in the government, but also the legitimate representative of at least a third of the population-. On the other hand, some governments think that this move would increase instability in the Middle East. Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino said that blacklisting Hezbollah’s military wing would have repercussions on “fragile” Lebanon´s stability.

Moreover, this move would certainly complicate the EU’s contacts with Lebanon. The capacity of European companies to operate in Lebanon would be seriously damaged.

According to Nidal Hémadé, a columnist for the Arabic site of the TV channel Al Manar, Fabius´s remarks have caused an uproar in the ranks of the French army officers, who have warned against the consequences of such a decision. “What will France do when a Lebanese ministerial delegation visits Paris?”, a French military officer said. It is worth recalling that French interests in Lebanon and the Middle East are much larger than the interests of Hezbollah in France. Lebanon has five French cultural centers, the largest number in the Middle East.

Israeli media have also launched a campaign against countries such as Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Poland and Austria, blaming them for the failure of the British bid. Up to now, all these countries have maintained an independent stance and have not bowed to Israel or US pressure.

A decision to blacklist Hezbollah could also call into question the presence of the United Nations peacekeeping forces in Lebanon which represent a dozen EU countries. Austria has already announced that it will withdraw its 300-strong force from the UN peacekeeping contingent on Syria’s Golan Heights, which Israel has occupied illegally since the 1967 war, after the EU lifted the arms embargo against Syrian terrorists.

It is clear that the British and French bid is actually motivated by the role played by Hezbollah in the Syrian war, and not by accusations of terrorism. In this regard, Fabius said, “Given the decisions that Hezbollah has taken and the fact that it has fought extremely hard (in Syria), I confirm that France will propose to place Hezbollah’s military wing on the list of terrorist organizations.”

Protecting the region agaist the US-Israeli plot

However, intervention of Hezbollah in the neighboring country takes place within the strategic framework of the ongoing aggression against Syria, Lebanon and Iraq by an alliance including the US, Israel, Britain, France, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The main tool in this aggression is the Takfiri – groups working to desroy the national and social fabric in these three countries. Driven by an extremist and brutal ideology, these international gangs plan to exterminate religious minorities, such as Christians, Alawitse and Shiites. Many Christian priests and Sunni and Shiite Muslim clerics have been beheaded or savagely killed by the Western-supported terrorist groups.

Western claims on the existence of “moderate” groups are just a lie. The so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) is an umbrella for hundreds of groups that interact on the ground with al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front. Their members have become extremists and fanatical terrorists. The recent developments on the group show that the behavior of the FSA does not differ from that of al-Nusra Front. Some of their members are notorious criminals who were released from Saudi prisons to go fight in Syria.

Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, there have been lots of rocket and mortar attacks on the Lebanese territory, with the FSA claiming responsibility for two of them. Many of these attacks have been aimed at the Lebanese army or Shiite-majority villages. Hezbollah and the residents of the border villages have decided to mobilize to respond to these threats. “We have increased the number of people on the border and the number of patrols conducted along there, and within the Lebanese territories to prevent armed groups from infiltrating,” a Hezbollah member told Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity. However, the control of the Lebanese territory is not enough as these groups attack Lebanon from the zones they control in Syria.

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah revealed details of this evil plot that also seeks to weaken the Lebanese Resistance. But the ultimate goal is to destroy the ideology of Arabism among the peoples of the region and to divide the Arab countries into small entities on the basis of sectarian or ethnic criteria. Israel would be the main beneficiary if this plot became successful.

As the Lebanese expert Ghaled Kandil claimed in the neworientnews.com site, “By deciding to fight in Syria against this project, Hezbollah protects the people of the region, their religions, their diversity, the unity of the social tissue and the will to resist the hegemonic project of Israel, that is at the heart of the party combat. Hezbollah remains faithful to its tradition as the vanguard fighting against the Israeli-American project, which uses today as the enforcement tool Takfiri groups.”

The shameless Mr. Hague

by Jeremy Salt, source

William Hague’s statement that extremism in Syria would flourish unless the EU ended its arms embargo was grotesque. On the basis of the massive quantities of arms already delivered by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Libya, with the US and Britain covertly pitching in,  extremism in Syria is doing quite well, so logically it is going to do even better if the armed groups are given more and probably heavier weapons. But, no, according to the logic of Mr. Hague, giving the ‘rebels’ more weapons is actually going to prevent extremism.

To his great satisfaction Mr. Hague and his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, prevailed at the meeting of EU foreign ministers, who decided not to renew the arms embargo when it ended on May 31. Mr. Hague says this does not necessarily mean Britain will immediately start giving arms to the ‘rebels’ but that it may,  depending on circumstances.

While Mr. Hague preened with satisfaction in Brussels, the Syrian army continued to make gains on the ground. Nearly all of Qusair is again under government control although the armed groups are holding on in the northern part of the city. The army’s next main targets would be Homs and Aleppo, which thousands of takfiris will no doubt be preparing to make their Stalingrad. Fighting continues in and around both cities.

Barack Obama welcomed the non-renewal of the arms embargo and co-sponsored, with Qatar and Turkey, a resolution passed by the UN Human Rights Council condemning Syria’s use of foreign fighters (Hezbollah) in the battle for Qusair. Russia described it as ‘odious’, understandably so when this body has never condemned  the sponsorship of foreign fighters in Syria by the US, the UK, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Obama is still insisting that Bashar ‘needs’ to go but the situation is now so dangerous that one more provocation by Israel or a false flag bombing which can be blamed on Syria is likely to bring down the whole house of cards across the region. Obama knows another war in the Middle East is the last thing the American people want. In addition, it could destroy his presidency in the same way Vietnam destroyed Lyndon Johnson’s presidency back in the 1960s.  All the same, by binding himself to Israel and justifying its aggression against Syria he has forfeited his own destiny.  Israel can drag him into a war whether he likes it or not.

The disarray in the anti-Syrian camp is general. It goes even into the Qatari royal family where Hind, the daughter of the amir, recently criticized her father for arming terrorists in the name of supporting the revolution. The Europeans are divided and Saudi Arabia and Qatar are at loggerheads over the composition of the Syrian National Coalition and Qatar’s perceived usurpation of Saudi Arabia’s dominant role in the Middle East.  Russia and the US have laid the groundwork for negotiations to begin at Geneva but it seems increasingly unlikely that they will go ahead because of the complete disarray in the anti-Syrian camp. The SNC has said it will not attend unless Assad steps down. It does not represent Syrian opinion but even if it does attend, even if the negotiations even get off the ground, the SNC has no control over the armed groups.  Obama is under continuing pressure to ‘do more’.  Senator John McCain crossed the border illegally into Syria from Turkey and was photographed with a ‘rebel’ leader notorious for his kidnappings who went on to list what the insurgents wanted from their external sponsors: not negotiations but anti-tank missiles, anti-aircraft missiles and a no-fly zone.  Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, has also been pushing for a no-fly zone and tried to persuade Obama when in Washington that the Syrian army had crossed his ‘red line’ by resorting to chemical warfare.  Obama dodged this issue but in the wake of the successes of the Syrian army been studying a new plan for the imposition of a ‘no-fly’ zone.

The same Mr Hague who has refused to talk to the Syrian government is now warning that Syria will disintegrate unless it sits down to talk. In fact, Syria has made repeated offers over the past two years to sit down and talk with everyone but the armed groups. Each offer has been dismissed, ignored or rejected by the interventionists and their protégés, because they thought they could destroy the government by force of arms.

The Geneva negotiations are intended to give Syria’s enemies some leverage in a situation that is rapidly slipping beyond their control.  The sponsors of the armed groups  can say that Bashar ‘needs’ to go, that Bashar ‘should’ go, that Bashar ‘must’ go but they have no means of making him go unless they are prepared to declare open war on the Syrian government. It is Russia that has the strong hand and Russia, Iran, Syria and Hezbollah that are showing a steadfast and united front, compared to the complete confusion on the other side.  A day after Hague’s ‘victory’ in Brussels, Russia announced the pending delivery of S300 missiles to Syria to defend itself against action by ‘some hotheads’. These missiles are a sophisticated new generation and Putin is said to have warned Netanyahu that Israel has no electronic means of dealing with them.  Israel still indicated that it was prepared destroy them in what the mainstream media predictably called a ‘preemptive strike.’  If Israel does launch such an attack Syria will retaliate and we may see Israeli planes falling out of the sky.  So far Russia has not moved an inch from the position it took more than two years ago in support of the Syrian government and the right of the Syrian people to make their own choices.  If through an attack by Israel or the declaration of a ‘no fly zone’ a general war breaks out over Syria Russia has sent numerous signals that it is prepared to intervene.

The armed groups are now turning on the hand that has fed them.  The bombings in the border town of Reyhanli were the worst terrorist outrage in Turkey’s history. The original target for the attack is said to have been the Kocatepe mosque and supermarket complex in the middle of Ankara. An attack there with the mixture of more than a ton of C4 and dynamite that was used in Reyhanli could have killed or wounded thousands of people.  Although the government swiftly blamed Syria for the Reyhanli outrage, information picked up by the Turkish Red Hack collective from a Turkish jandarma document showing that the government was warned ahead of time that Jabhat al Nusra was planning three bombings across the Turkish border. The government responded by arresting the jandarma accused of leaking the documents.  Now comes the news that a group of men linked to Jabhat al Nusra have been arrested in the southeastern cities of Mersin and Adana with weapons and two kilograms of sarin nerve gas destined for an outrage in Adana. The mystery of the fighter jet which crashed in the southeast on May 13 still has to be resolved. Normally this would a running story, with the Turkish media paying attention to every detail day after day, but this was out of the news in 24 hours.  So far there has been no official explanation of what happened to it.

Erdogan’s problems have now being massively compounded by the huge demonstrations breaking out in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir against the brutal suppression of demonstrators in the past week in the middle of Istanbul.  They mobilized to prevent the destruction of the last green space right at the center of city in the Taksim area and the construction on the site of a shopping mall built as a replica of the 19th century artillery barracks that used to stand on the site. Police moved in last week with tear gas and batons against demonstrators trying to prevent the trees from being cut down. One person was killed and many seriously wounded. The restraint order issued by a local court, prohibiting further development on the site until the legal and social arguments could be heard, did not prevent tens of thousands of people streaming into the city across the Bosporus bridge. They were blocked on the European side and attacked by police with tear gas. The replication of the military barracks would restore the Ottoman character of an open space which was redeveloped in the 1920s as the symbol of the new Turkey, republican and secular. The demonstrations are not just about the destruction of Gezi park. The attack by the police has brought rising resentment of this Islamist government and its arrogant leader to boiling point. In Istanbul or along the Syrian border these are days of crisis for Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

‘Sayyed Nasrallah: I promise you victory again’

(May 25 Memories : The People’s Proud Day of Liberation, click to read)

by Nour Rida, Alahednews

On 25 May 2013, Hizbullah held a central celebration in the village of Mashghara, West Lebanon.

Following the recitation of verses of the Holy Quran and some hymns rejoicing the celebration, Hizbullah’s Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah appeared via video-link to deliver his speech which thousands awaited.

His Eminence recalled the leaders of the Islamic Resistance, as well as the martyrs and the Mujahideen, assuring that if it were not for their effort and sacrifices, Lebanon would have never witnessed this liberation.

Salute to the Martyrs

“In these moments, we salute all the martyrs, their families, the wounded and the detainees who were freed from prison, as well as all our peoples who remained steadfast in their land and all the Lebanese, Palestinians, and Syrians who sacrificed for the sake of the army, the people and the Resistance, and made liberation possible on top of which are Sayyed Abbas Moussawi, Sheikh Ragheb Hareb, Martyr Imad Moghnieh and all the martyrs,” he said.

His Eminence also praised the Western Beqaa region and its people who have played a pivotal role in supporting the Resistance.

Resistance Day, according to Sayyed Nasrallah is a day of Divine mercy, where Allah supported the Resistance and poured his wrath on the Zionist occupier.

“The victorious day of May 25, 2000 must remain in our memories for years to come because it held sacrifices, hopes and dreams; it is a day that must not be forgotten and should be delivered to future generations,” Sayyed Nasrallah highlighted, stressing “It is the day when “Israel” exited the Gaza strip due to the Resistance’s efforts.”

However, he emphasized that we should not forget the Nakba and the Naksa of Palestine, these sad memories that have affected all Arabs and Muslims.

“We celebrate this day while facing a number of challenges and dangers, chiefly the “Israeli” threat since the 1948 Nakba and the Syrian developments, not to mention the emerging Takfiri groups,” he stated.

According to the Hizbullah Leader, “Israel” continues to execute its project in occupied Palestine while the International Community remains silent about its activities.

“Israel” Preparing for War, Lebanon Doing What?

Since the Divine victory of the 2006 war, the Zionist enemy has been training and holding maneuvers in its interior front, he stated.

“On Sunday, “Israel” has another maneuver planned in order to have a solid interior front; they even have a ministry for their interior front. They consider themselves ready for war on all levels,” Sayyed Nasrallah noted.

He went on to say that “Israel” threatens Lebanon with war, it is gathering its forces at the borders. It has been also attacking and bombing Syria.

“To Lebanon, “Israel” has been preparing for war and resolving gaps since 2006. What have we, in Lebanon, done to prepare for any possible aggression by “Israel”?” His Eminence questioned.

Sayyed Nasrallah iterated “We face a historic moment, there is no time for compliments. It is time for us to bear responsibilities.”

He further called for a strong well equipped army that can defend Lebanon, pointing out, “What have we done to strengthen the army since 2005? They claim there is no funding and that the United States is against arming our troops. This is because they are aware that the Lebanese army will fight in the same way as the Resistance does.”

Sayyed Nasrallah explained “No Arab army is allowed to be armed if their weapons are used against “Israel”. It is forbidden to sell arms to Syria, but tremendous arms are sold to many other countries only because they guarantee not to shoot even one bullet at “Israel”.

On the Lebanese civil file, Sayyed Nasrallah wondered “What has the state accomplished since 1948? Who is responsible? In Lebanon, there are no shelters, no safe accommodations. Is the Resistance also entitled to take care of the civil needs?”

Answering his question, he said, “Our infrastructure accomplishments in the South are solely due to personal efforts by Speaker Nabih Berri and not by the government.”

Sayyed Nasrallah noted that “Israel” arm its settlers living at the borders, builds settlements on its border with Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, recruits Jews from all over the world, offers them salaries and job opportunities, and gives them military training and weapons. He underscored “Meanwhile, the arms owned by our people on the border villages are considered illegal.”

Some Want Resistance, the Only Guarantee, Gone

Stressing the role of the Resistance, Sayyed Nasrallah elaborated, “Everything done in Lebanon to confront “Israeli” threats and attacks was established by the resistance, and I do not mean Hizbullah only, but everyone who made an effort.”

“Today, Lebanon owns a power that defeated “Israel” and drove it outside Beirut, Mount Lebanon, Sidon, Tyr, all the way to the borders, the Resistance confronted “Israeli” in July (2006 aggression), it has been training and “Israel” fears it whereas many in Lebanon are wondering how to get rid of it,” he added.
Moreover, Sayyed Nasrallah assured that no one has even thought of how to protect Lebanon from the “Israeli” threat, and that some people in Lebanon want the Resistance gone.

“If we put the Resistance under the control of the government, its power and authority will disappear. Our state cannot even protect people trying to have a funeral in Sidon, agree on an electoral law, or stop the conflict in Tripoli,” he accentuated.

Sayyed Nasrallah further called on all Lebanese to be aware since “Israel” is preparing to confront Lebanon.

“The Resistance will always defend you and you will always be able to hold your heads up high in victory. The resistance that defeated “Israel” cannot be disarmed as this cannot protect a country or deter its enemy,” he stressed, adding “listing Hizbullah on the lists of terror organizations is old news.”

Syria Events Crucial, Political Solution Required

On Syria, Sayyed Nasrallah noted that events in Syria are very crucial for Lebanon’s present and future.

“Since the beginning of Syria’s war we have said that Assad’s regime has its positives and negatives. Reform is required and the only way to reach this is through political dialogue,” His Eminence remarked.

Sayyed Nasrallah expressed, “We know very well what Syria means to the Resistance. I have contacted Assad and members of the opposition to reach a settlement. Assad accepted the suggestion whereas the opposition rejected it.”

According to Sayyed Nasrallah, “The events in the last few years have proved that there is an axis led by the US and supported by “Israel” while al-Qaeda and other Takfiri organizations from around the world were paid to take part in it.”

“Part of the Syrian opposition abroad has a vision and is ready to sit for dialogue, whereas others work under the Pentagon’s orders.”

US-Backed Takfiri Organizations Threat to All

Meanwhile, Takfiri groups dominate the Syrian Opposition on the ground and are ready to pay the price for any settlement in Syria,” according to Sayyed Nasrallah. He further elaborated, “Takfiri groups’ control over Syria and especially in border areas with Lebanon poses a great danger for the Lebanese Muslims as well as Christians.”

As for regional countries, these groups rejected many suggestions and settlements that were accepted by the Syrian regime because they do not want Assad’s regime.

The Takfiri mentality, Sayyed Nasrallah noted, killed much more Sunnis than other Muslim sects.

“What future do you expect in Lebanon, Syria and Palestine with the presence of these Takfiris?” His Eminence questioned.

“We do not evaluate matters from a Sunni or Shiite perspective, but from a perspective joining all Muslims and Christians together, since they are all threatened by this Takfiri plot financed by the US,” he emphasized.

Furthermore, Sayyed Nasrallah viewed that the Syrian crisis is an implementation of the American-”Israeli” scheme in the region.

“Syria is the resistance’s main supporter and the resistance cannot stand still and let [Takfiris] break its backbone. Since 1984, many thought that no one could change the regional equation, but we did. We believe our action to be a defense of Lebanon, Palestine and Syria,” he stated.

“If Syria falls in the hands of the Takfiris and the US, the resistance will be trapped and “Israel” will enter Lebanon. If Syria falls, the Palestinian cause will be lost,” he voiced.

We Promise You Victory Again

On a similar note, Sayyed Nasrallah noted that the Resistance’s stances subject it to wide media and political campaigns, whether it had fought in Syria or not, emphasizing, “being on terror lists is not new.”

“We actually take pride in the fact that Europe considers us as being able to change the regional equation,” he added.

Further adding on the defamation campaign launched against Hizbullah, Sayyed Nasrallah iterated, “No one can accuse us of being sectarian. Attempts to weaken our morale and will power will not succeed.”
Assuring that Hizbullah defends all just causes and defying it works on sectarian bases, he said “We have fought in Bosnia, in defense of whom? In defense of the Sunnis. There are no Shiites in Bosnia.”

Moreover, he stated “We do not force our youths to go fight in battles. We do not need to call for Jihad because by simply saying two words, thousands of Hizbullah members will be ready for battle.”
At the end of the speech, Sayyed Nasrallah concluded that “A new phase has begun to support and protect the Resistance and Lebanon and this is everyone’s responsibility.”

“Our dear and honorable people: we will continue this path, we will continue to sacrifice, and I reiterate what I had said in the first few days of the 2006 victory: As I have always promised you victory, I promise you victory again,” Sayyed Nasrallah concluded his speech, leaving the people chanting his name in loyalty.

UN General Assembly vote reflects shift in Syrian public opinion

by FRANKLIN LAMB, source

It’s not hard to find critics of the Assad government in the Governorate (Muhafazat) of Homs or for that matter, to varying degrees in Syria’s other thirteen Governorates according to Syrian analysts interviewed by this observer and reports from human rights groups including lawyers representing dissidents in Syria. However, after nearly 27 months of turmoil, the public opinion pendulum is markedly shifting back in support of the current regime.

One international political result was registered at the United Nations this past week when a US-Qatari-Saudi drafted General Assembly Resolution that was designed to increase pressure on the Assad government stumbled badly and fell far short of what the Saudi Ambassador to the UN and other US allies predicted would be an overwhelming vote in favor.

Effect of shift in popular opinion in Syria

Over the past four or five months it has become increasingly clear that public opinion in Syria is shifting for reasons that include, but are not limited to the following:

While inflation at the grocery stores in probably the most common complaint heard from a cross-section of society here, the population is adapting somewhat to higher prices and it appears to credit the government for efforts, some successful, to soften the impact of the illegal US-led sanctions that target this same Syrian population for purely political reasons to achieve regime change.

While Syrians demand dignity and freedom from oppressive security forces and an end to corruption, as all people do in this region and beyond, they are witnessing a return to near normalcy with respect to supplies of electricity, benzene, mazout fuel oil, bus schedules, schools, and a host of public services such as garbage collection, street sweeping, park maintenance, and sympathetic traffic cops who are rather understanding of short-cuts taken by drivers and pedestrians due to “the situation”.

In addition, public service announcement and even text messages demonstrate that the government is aware of the degree of suffering among the population, accept partial blame, and are focusing on remedial measure and crucially, ending the crisis with its horrific bloodshed. One observes here a definite trend of the pulling together of a high percentage of Syrians who share a very unique history and culture and who are deeply connected to their country and who are increasingly repelled by the continuing killing from all sides including the recent barbarisms of body mutilations and summary executions videotaped and broadcast on utube by [armed group] elements. The latter who these days come from nearly three dozen countries, paid for and indoctrinated by enemies of Syria’s Arab nationalism and deep rooted pillar of resistance to the occupation of Palestine.

In addition, many among Syria’s 23 million citizens, who initially supported the uprising following government reaction to event in Deraa in March 2011, now have serious second thoughts about who exactly would replace the current government. Events in Syria are also making plain that the army is still loyal to the Assad government, and according to Jane’s Defense Weekly, is actually gaining experience and strength as well as the well-known fact that as western diplomats are admitting, the “opposition militias” are hopelessly fractured, turning one another, many essential mafia outfits, and beginning to resemble their fellow [armed groups] from Libya, Chechnya and in between.

Opinion in Damascus and surrounding areas visited this past week, confirms this observers experience the past five months of a sharp and fairly rapid shift in opinion that now strongly favors letting the Syrian people themselves decide, without outside interference, whether the Assad regime will stay, and indeed, whether, the Baathist party will continue to represent majority opinion, not through wanton violence but rather via next June’s election. Many express confidence in the run up to this critical vote, noting that the election will be closely monitored by the international community to assure fairness.

Perhaps aided by the current glorious May weather, a certain optimism, that was more scarce in the past, pervades many neighborhoods.

For different reasons, foreign powers, including the USA, Turkey, European Union, the UK Jordan and even the majority population of the six Gulf Cooperation Council family run countries, according to Pew Research, are shifting their earlier positions which were based in part of the US administration, NATO, and Israeli assurances that the Assad government would surely fall quickly, “A matter of days, not weeks” US President Obama promised. That was two years ago.

As noted above, this trend has accelerated since the UN General Assembly vote with last weeks which did not go as planned on the biased and politicized non-binding draft resolution on Syria.

The public reaction in Syria and across the Middle East is substantially that the “Friends of Syria” non-binding GA resolution contradicts the reality on the ground, backs terrorism in Syria and hinders the international efforts to help achieve a political solution to the crisis in this country. Only 107 states voted in favor of the resolution, 12 against while 59 countries, mostly from Africa and Latin America, abstained from voting.

One reason the vote fell short of the 130 favorable votes that the basically same resolution garnered the past two times is that it is widely viewed as ignoring the crimes and atrocities committed by the armed – groups in Syria and the flow of thousands of international terrorists backed by the West, the Gulf states and Turkey who provide them with weapons and money. According to the Russian delegate, backed by several other speakers, “the resolutions ignores all the terrorists’ heinous crimes and denounces what it called the escalation of the attacks by the Syrian government”. Afterward one Latin American Permanent Representative told Inner City Press that the count would have been below 100 if not for some “last minute arm-twisting.” As it turned out, 15 countries didn’t vote at all, opting to “get coffee,” as one African Permanent Representative put it before the vote.

Syria’s Ambassador al-Jaafari exposes a hoax in the Gulf

Syria’s permanent Envoy to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari said his country regretted the adoption of a biased and unbalanced UN resolution, thanking the countries that rejected the resolution “for their responsible positions which support the UN principles and the international law articles”. He noted that the decrease in the number of countries that voted in favor and the increase of numbers of those who abstained from voting indicates the growing international understanding of the reality of what is happening in Syria due to the foreign interference, support of terrorism, the spread of extremism and incitement besides the refusal of dialogue.

“We rely on the UN and its member states to support Syria and its people against the culture of extremism and terrorism, and to encourage the comprehensive national dialogue to peacefully resolve the Syrian crisis.” he said. In a statement released after the vote on the UN draft resolution on Syria, al-Jaafari He said that the French delegation had foiled the issuance of a number of UN press releases to condemn the terrorist acts committed by al-Qaeda-linked armed groups in Syria which claimed the lives of thousands of Syrians as it foiled a UN release to condemn the attempt of assassination of the Syrian Premier.

After Qatar’s ambassador spoke in favor of the resolution his country drafted (and re-drafted several times), Ja’afari revealed that there existed an e-mail, from the representative of the Syrian opposition given to Syria’s embassy in Qatar, showing Qatar’s involvement in the kidnapping of UN peacekeepers by the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade. He read out a phone number from the e-mail as several Gulf diplomats grimaced or scowled, and three left the Chamber.

Visibly stunned, the UK Permanent Representative Lyall Grant called the whole matter “deeply confusing”. Another Permanent Representative, from a militia contributing country, said that if true, it’s “very problematic.” The reasons include the fact that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had just thanked Qatar for its roles in the release of the UN Peacekeepers the earlier kidnapping of whom the Qatari government may have planned, paid for and executed.

Meanwhile, Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson Martin Nesirky said he would not disclose any more about the “negotiations to free the peacekeepers or who was behind the crime.”

Score a major diplomatic victory for Syria’s UN Ambassador as public opinion shifts in favor of the Assad government and pressure as well as certain optimism builds in the run-up to the Geneva II conference being organized by the White House and the Kremlin.

Unprovoked attack on Syria: “Israel” commits egregious international crime

(File photo)

by Tony Cartalucci, source

The US feigns disassociation with Hitlerian act of Israeli aggression – as was planned since 2007.

Unprovoked, Israel has attacked Syria numerous times over the past 2 days, including attacks on the Syrian capital of Damascus, in what appears to be a series of intentional provocations designed to drag the region into a wider conflict its US sponsors can then enter militarily. Neither attacked directly by Syria, nor able to cite credible evidence in regards to perceived threats Israel claims to be reacting to, the assault on Syria represents a Chapter VII breach of the United Nations Charter.

What’s more is that while the US feigns disassociation with Israel’s breach of international peace, after jointly fueling a genocidal sectarian conflict within Syria’s borders for the past two years, it is documented fact that the US and Saudi Arabia planned to use Israel to conduct military attacks against Iran and Syria, they themselves could not justify politically, legally, or strategically.

What is now hoped is that Syria and Iran retaliate militarily, allowing the “other shoe to drop,” and for the US, UK, France, and their regional axis to directly intervene in Syria.

Insidious ploy engineered and documented in 2007-2009

As early as 2007, it was reported that a US-Saudi-Israeli conspiracy to overthrow the governments of Iran and Syria by arming sectarian terrorists, many linked directly to Al Qaeda, was already set in motion. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 New Yorker article “The Redirection” stated:

“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”

Of Israel and Saudi Arabia’s partnership it specifically stated:

“The policy shift has brought Saudi Arabia and Israel into a new strategic embrace, largely because both countries see Iran as an existential threat. They have been involved in direct talks, and the Saudis, who believe that greater stability in Israel and Palestine will give Iran less leverage in the region, have become more involved in Arab-Israeli negotiations.”

Additionally, Saudi Arabian officials mentioned the careful balancing act their nation must play in order to conceal its role in supporting US-Israeli ambitions across the region. It was stated even then that using Israel to publicly carry out attacks on Iran would be preferable to the US, which would ultimately implicate the Saudis. It was stated:

“The Saudi said that, in his country’s view, it was taking a political risk by joining the U.S. in challenging Iran: Bandar is already seen in the Arab world as being too close to the Bush Administration. ‘We have two nightmares,’ the former diplomat told me. ‘For Iran to acquire the bomb and for the United States to attack Iran. I’d rather the Israelis bomb the Iranians, so we can blame them. If America does it, we will be blamed.’”

This ploy was further developed in 2009 by the Fortune 500-funded (page 19) Brookings Institution in their document, “Which Path to Persia?” in regards to Iran, and now clearly being utilized against Syria, the gambit was described as follows:

“…it would be far more preferable if the United States could cite an Iranian provocation as justification for the airstrikes before launching them. Clearly, the more outrageous, the more deadly, and the more unprovoked the Iranian action, the better off the United States would be. Of course, it would be very difficult for the United States to goad Iran into such a provocation without the rest of the world recognizing this game, which would then undermine it. (One method that would have some possibility of success would be to ratchet up covert regime change efforts in the hope that Tehran would retaliate overtly, or even semi-overtly, which could then be portrayed as an unprovoked act of Iranian aggression.)” – page 84-85, Which Path to Persia?, Brookings Institution.

And:

“Israel appears to have done extensive planning and practice for such a strike already, and its aircraft are probably already based as close to Iran as possible. As such, Israel might be able to launch the strike in a matter of weeks or even days, depending on what weather and intelligence conditions it felt it needed. Moreover, since Israel would have much less of a need (or even interest) in securing regional support for the operation, Jerusalem probably would feel less motivated to wait for an Iranian provocation before attacking. In short, Israel could move very fast to implement this option if both Israeli and American leaders wanted it to happen.

However, as noted in the previous chapter, the airstrikes themselves are really just the start of this policy. Again, the Iranians would doubtless rebuild their nuclear sites. They would probably retaliate against Israel, and they might retaliate against the United States, too (which might create a pretext for American airstrikes or even an invasion).” – page 91, Which Path to Persia?, Brookings Institution.

And Israel not waiting for a plausible justification to attack Syria is exactly what has just happened. It should also be noted in particular, the last paragraph which gives insight into what the US-led axis plans to do after this egregious international crime – that is – to incrementally engulf the region into a conflict it finally can justify its own entry into open military aggression.

What should Syria and its allies do?

Syria, Iran, Russia and other nations that support the besieged nation most certainly were aware of the Brookings document Which Path to Persia? and familiar with this strategy. It would be hoped that anything of value that the Israelis would seek to attack in order to provoke a much desired retaliation and subsequent war, would have been provided additional protection, or moved entirely out of range of potential Israeli attacks.

A media campaign to illustrate the hypocritical and very revealing convergence between Al Qaeda (the so-called Free Syrian Army or FSA) and Israeli interests would undermine whatever remaining support the battered and failing Western-backed terror campaign inside Syria may still have.

Additionally, Israel’s selection by the US to carry out this attack was done specifically because Israel has long ago exhausted its international legitimacy. What it is doing in Syria is a blatant international crime, in direct violation of international law. Currently, Syria and its allies hold the moral high ground against an enemy who is no longer fooling the world. If it is calculated that Syria can survive Israel’s unprovoked brutality, it would be best to do little or nothing, and incur internationally the same outrage that accompanies Israel’s brutality against the Palestinians.

In light of the US using Israel as its proxy against Syria, should Syria and its allies retaliate, it would be best to do so through any proxies they themselves have at their disposal. Just as Hezbollah and the Palestinians now routinely defeat Israel both strategically and politically, Syria now faces an opportunity to do so again, only on a much bigger scale.

The outrageous actions of Israel, the despicable double-game the US attempts to play by feigning disassociation with its regional beachhead in Tel Aviv, and the silent complicity of the UN, has people around the world desperately seeking retaliation from Syria, or Iran, or both. In reality, this is precisely what the West hopes to achieve – a wider conventional war in which they hold the advantage. By refusing to retaliate directly, Syria cripples the West politically, highlighting the unprovoked nature of their attacks on a nation they claim is a threat, yet fails to strike back even when its capital is under bombardment. By responding through its own plausibly deniable proxies, tactical and political pressure can be put on Israel to end its aggression.

It appears that the Western-backed terrorist front in Syria has been dealt a fatal blow and is in the process of complete collapse. The attack by Israel is a sign of desperation, seeking to expand a conflict that is about to end. Syria and its allies face difficult decisions and dangerous desperation in the coming days and weeks – with an axis of rogue states committing increasingly heinous atrocities in search of a response.

US arms deal gathers “Israel”, UAE, KSA in face of Iran

Moqawama

The New York Times US daily reported Friday that the US War Department is expected to finalize a $10 billion common arms deal with “Israel”, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates next week.

According to the daily, “the deal will provide missiles, warplanes and troop transports to help them counter any future threat from Iran.”

This comes as a weeklong visit to the region by US War Secretary Chuck Hagel will culminate a year of secret negotiations on a deal that Congressional officials said will be second only to the $29.5 billion sale of F-15 aircraft to Saudi Arabia announced in 2010.

“While one goal was to ensure that “Israel” continues to field the most capable armed forces in the region to deter Iran and counter a range of threats, it was equally important to improve the capabilities of two important Arab military partners,” the report said.

“Another challenge,” senior US administration officials said, “was coming up with a package that could help “Israel” deal with various security challenges – but devised so it would not be viewed as an American endorsement of accelerated planning by “Israel” to strike alone at nuclear Iranian facilities.”

In this context, one senior administration official claimed, “the goal was not just to boost “Israel’s” capabilities, but also to boost the capabilities of our Persian Gulf partners so they, too, would be able to address the Iranian threat – and also provide a greater network of coordinated assets around the region to handle a range of contingencies.”

To the US official, “other security risks, include the roiling war in Syria – a country with chemical weapons- and militant violence in the Sinai Peninsula.”

Under the agreement, all sides would be allowed to purchase advanced armaments from American contractors. In the case of “Israel”, there is also substantial American financial assistance, topping $3 billion in military aid this fiscal year.

“Israel” would buy new missiles designed to take out an adversary’s air radars, as well as advanced radars for its own warplanes, new refueling tanker planes and – in the first sale to any foreign military – the V-22 Osprey troop transport aircraft. The United Arab Emirates would buy 26 F-16 warplanes, a package that could reach $5 billion alone, along with precision missiles that could be launched from those jets at distant ground targets. Saudi Arabia would buy the same class of advanced missile.

The expectation is that the arms sale, which was outlined to Congress on Thursday, will encounter little opposition from lawmakers, especially from members representing the many districts where military contractors are concerned about the impact of cutbacks in the Pentagon’s own weapons budget.

But Congressional officials said members were seeking assurances that the package was in keeping with American policy to guarantee “Israel’s” “qualitative military edge”.

Under the terms of the deal, “Israel” would be allowed to buy the tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey, an aircraft that can take off and land like a helicopter but fly with the speeds and range of an airplane. “Israel” could use the Osprey for patrolling its borders, coastline and out to sea, and for moving troops to troubled areas.

A new generation of KC-135 refueling tanker planes would let “Israel’s” warplanes stay in the air longer, an ability essential for any long-range mission – like a strike by Iran. The tankers would also be useful for air patrols.

“Israel” also would receive anti-radiation missiles. New, advanced radars for “Israel’s” military jets also would be in the package.

US Administration officials declined to identify the new missile to be sold to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, except to say that it is an advanced class of precision “standoff munitions” – those designed to be launched from warplanes safely distant from ground targets.

The missile, one senior official claimed, is to “address the threat posed by Iran.”

After Syria, sedition in Iraq (II)

(Iraq-file photo)

Part II

by Sadeq Khanafer – Hussein Mallah, Al Manar

In Part I of the “After Syria, Sedition in Iraq,” We presented a report on Iraq’s position, its strategic importance, oil and resources. Those elements are considered to be among the most attracting elements to list this country on the American-Western plans to disintegrate and weaken the region until totally destroy it through divisions and finding disaccords on the sectarian, doctrinal, ethnic and even tribal levels between the small countries-to-be.

In Part II, we are going to present the political background of the recent crisis broke out in the western and northern governorates. We will also highlight the foreign role in this regard, starting from the American administration and not ending with Turkey, some Gulf countries, especially Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

It might be political stupidity to limit the ongoing events in Iraq within local political affairs, noting that some demands, such as reforms and releasing the detainees, might be righteous. Therefore, this case must be viewed in general.

The Western Scheme

Targeting Iraq is not new matter. Since the Sykes-Picot agreement, it has been a target of many western plans. However, the most seriousness today is that it comes at a time of “mobile sedition” hitting several Middle Eastern countries. Symbols of division are quiet clear, in addition to the already set plans among Washington strategies.

The organized scheme started with dividing Sudan into clashing north and south. This plan is applicable to many countries in our region. For instance, the way to tribal divisions is being paved in Libya, since sectarian and doctrinal divisions do not exist. Southern Yemen is also very close to division, not to mention the struggle in Egypt, the confederation of Palestinians in Jordan, and Syria which is meant to be the starting point of divisions.

Perhaps the main causes behind acceleration in implementing the scheme in Iraq was the humiliated withdrawal of US occupation troops from Iraq, and its disability to set any military base that serves its interests to control the region. For this reason, the Americans hurried to take advantage of their allies, locally and regionally, to ignite struggles inside Iraq.

This is what Iraqi political analyst, Abbas Al-Mousawi, assured during an interview with Al-Manar website. “The US support to the current incidents on the Iraqi lands is clear, especially its good relations with the Turkish and Qatari governments, the most two supporters and seditious parts in the ongoing events,” Mousawi stated.

Mousawi’s opinion came along with that of Habib Fayyad, the expert in strategic affairs, who reminded us of “the US-West project, in cooperation with some regional sides, based on worsening the sectarian atmosphere and going on with the sedition.”

Fayyad told Al-Manar website that regarding the critical political and social combination in Iraq, “we can expect that the current events would spread sedition more and more, and enlarge the gap between Muslims.”
He further considered that “among the causes of what is taking place in Iraq, are the sanctions imposed on the Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki due to his refusal to apply western policies in dealing with the Syrian issue.”

Alternative for Syria

According to the expert in Turkish affairs Mohammad Noureddine, “the recent events in Iraq occurred during the past weeks aren’t different from those happening in Syria. Countries seeking to topple regime there are the same countries seeking to move the crisis to Iraq. This aims at hitting many birds with one stone. The pioneers of those countries are Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.”

Mousawi also assured this analysis. “There is intimidation, as well as Qatari and Turkish intervention in the crisis after failing to settle the struggle in Syria, besides the highly expected peaceful solution on the basis of applying the Geneva Accord; therefore, they started provocation in Iraq,” says Mousawi.

Turkey’s Role, Goal

Ankara’s way of intervention in the Iraqi affairs unveiled the true face of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s governmental policy towards Iraq and the whole region. This was especially after announcing his positions on the Syrian crisis. Turkey’s Justice and Development Party found the changes in the region, especially in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, an opportunity to play a regional role after it had lost the chance to join the European Union. Why not? It’s a way to revive the Ottoman Empire’s glories.

To achieve its goals, Ankara took advantage of the Syrian events. It supported, armed and sheltered militant groups. The same was done in Iraq, where Turkey directly intervened several times in its affairs. It also ignited sectarianism calling some groups to oppose the government and the protestors not to recede their demands. Among those interventions, for example, sheltering the sentenced to death Iraqi Vice President Tareq Al-Hashemi, who is accused of committing “terrorist” crimes, as well as attempting to lobby the Kurds and ignite them against the central government.

Governorates protests in the west of Iraq assured the total Turkish involvement in attempting to destabilize Maliki’s government, since slogans supporting divisions by establishing sectarian provinces were raised, along with signboards and flags of the foreign sides supporting these protests, the first of which is Turkey for it seeks the following:

Increasing pressure on Maliki after his positions on the Syrian crisis
Intervening in the Iraqi affairs
Lobbying the Iraqi Kurds and building political and economic relationships with them
Benefiting from the oil resources, especially in the North
Pressuring on Iran in an attempt to change its position towards Syria
In this context, Noureddine explained that “Turkey’s ultimate goal is Syria and its regime.” In addition, he said “the Turkish role is more influential than that of other states due to its geographic position between Syria and Iraq.”

He also noted that Ankara followed a two-goal policy with Baghdad:

Adopting the suggestions of Maliki’s opponents, among which are the Kurdish Coalition and the Iraqi List
Igniting sectarianism, especially that Turkey considers itself as one of the Sunni Muslims’ guardians

Gulf Goals

Ankara’s targets inside Iraq intersect with some regional countries’, especially the Gulf States, which had frozen relations with Baghdad for some time. The most significant among them are Qatar and Saudi Arabia, that were accused by Iraqi milieus of direct involvement in the mobile explosions , as well as in the ongoing events through funding some movements and organizations, and supporting their leaders.

Perhaps Arab satellite channels’ coverage of the Al-Anbar movements uncovers the identity of the supporting countries, especially since such channels are owned and funded by those countries, led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

According to Iraqi sources, the clearest goals of those two countries from igniting struggle in Iraq are:

Cracking down Maliki’s government, and trying to topple it and change the regime
Disconnecting links between Iraq and Syria after the failed plans to topple the regime in Damascus
Targeting Iran by hitting Syria and weakening Iraq
Making Iraq busy with its local afairs to prevent it from playing its regional role
In this context, Fayyad considered that “the Gulf (Qatari-Saudi) standpoints in the region are fixed on the Syrian crisis in the meantime, through their insistence to stay till the end of the regime toppling battle and the bloody events.”

“It is not strange that those countries tend to hit and dry up the sources of the Syrian government’s power,” Fayyad added, believing that the Gulf goals in Iraq are:

Causing local sectarian and ethnic riot
Pressuring Maliki’s government to recede its positions from Syria
Causing local instability, which – in their opinion – makes Iran busy and leads it to recede its support to the Syrian government.

Western Movements… Messages to the East

Because Syria represents the bound in the opposing axis that links Iran with resistance movements in Lebanon and Palestine, it was a must to target it for being the main pillar of this axis. This is with respect to the Western-Gulf viewpoint, which seems unable to get closer to the Islamic Republic, due to the latter’s strategic position and military abilities; thus, their only escape to press on Tehran is to humiliate its Iraqi allies.

Moreover, Fayyad assured to Al-Manar website that there is Western and regional annoyance from the Iranian support to the Syrian regime. This is because those sides hold Tehran responsible for Syria’s steadfastness.

“West, in the meantime, considers Iraq an Iranian backyard, and is convinced that playing in this place might influence the Iranian position’s immunity and support for Damascus,” he stated.

On the other hand, Fayyad said that “the forthcoming new round of negotiations between Iran and the six countries about the nuclear issue, in addition to the riot inside Iraq, might cause pressure on Iran to retreat during the negotiations.”

All the above do not keep aside the Turkish actor that, beside the Gulf position towards Iraq, wants to set a base from which it can spread the discord in Syria into several places in the region, starting from Iraq and reaching…

After Syria, Sedition in Iraq I

Shedding crocodile tears while collaborating with US-led sanctions

by Franklin Lamb, source

Are the Arab League and Organization of Islamic Cooperation targeting Syria’s civilian population?

Damascus– One powerful image from Damascus that has become seared into this observers mind these days is when I walk by a Western Union office. Most of them remain open despite the brutal US-led sanctions which in their pervasive effects target almost entirely the civilian population.

But all Western Union offices were closed last Thursday and Friday due to heavy snowfall, some say the deepest here for more than a quarter century. Still, some Syrians braved the extreme cold and could be seen huddled outside some branches, evidently in vain hope that they might open and their families might eat.

One of the few economic lifelines not yet cut by the ever strangling, profoundly immoral and illegal US-led sanctions with their throat-hold tightening around the civilian population in Syria in order to achieve regime change, “WU” as it’s known, has become, for some, literally a lifesaver. This is because its money transfer service is still allowing family and friends from abroad to send in assistance to Syria for their desperate families caught up in this regional contest between Resistance and a return to Western hegemony.

Peering in the window or stepping inside a Western Union outlet in Damascus, reminds this observer of scenes from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange or a European bourse wherein traders wave pieces of paper or other objects trying to get the attention of someone. But in Syria those trying to submit their ten digit Money Control Transfer Number (MTCN) numbers and ID’s in order to collect cash, are not wearing clothes from the fashion houses. Rather, given the frigid temperatures and lack of mazot(heating oil that 90% of the population here relies on for heat) they are tightly bundled. Women and kids generally wrapped tight in thick head scarves.

Last week this observer went into the Western Union office in central Damascus to collect some cash sent from Canada for a family that had managed to escape from Aleppo. The place was packed but orderly. I smiled to myself as I thought about my own country when sometimes during a Black Friday type sale, the scene of waiting in queue collapses into yelling, insults, fights, throwing objects, threats, all to save a few dollars or get one’s hands on the, soon to be trashed, “must have” sale item.

The stressed but committed staff behind the WU counter could not give assurance how long I would have to wait but graciously did agree to take my passport and I could return later. On arriving after about three hours, my MCTN # had just been processed and I was in and out fast. I can’t imagine that I will see a yellow and black Western Union sign ever again without thinking about US sanctions targeting the Syrian civilian population.

An historical irony is that it was a Syrian gentlemen, Mr. Hiram Sibley, one of the thousands of Syrians who emigrated to the United States in the mid-19th Century (the first and largest Arab migration then and since came from Syria) who in 1851 established the New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company with the goal of creating one great telegraph system with unified and efficient operations. Four years later Western Union was born and became an American icon and thirty three years on it had become one of the top ten companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange the day it opened in 1888.

The reason Western Union is able to avoid the US-led sanctions that include medicines and food (White House claims to the contrary notwithstanding), is quite simply that the US Treasury Department cannot easily face the domestic American political fallout from curtailing Western Union anywhere.

According to a July 2012 US Senate Banking Committee memo, were Treasury to be seen as tampering with Western Union’s $7 billion annual revenues, there would be a significant problem. Already there are growing complaints from US businesses flooding the White House & Congress claiming that sanctions imposed on Syria are costing American businesses hundreds of millions of dollars in lost profits — even more regarding US sanctions on Iran. So to date the Office of Financial Assets Control (OFAC) at Treasury has kept its hands off Western Union and this is good for Syrian civilians.

For these reasons a thin lifeline — a reed really — exists for many in Syria with families and friends abroad able to use WU’s “Money in Minutes” to help them. It’s a relatively small factor in the larger Syrian crisis but it does help many.

Much more significant than Western Union remaining open, and the subject of much current criticism here, is the lack of assistance to Syria’s severely sanctioned civilian population from the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, neither of which lack officials who are wringing their hands in public these days, in mock anguish it is claimed, over their brothers and co-religionists “victimization.”

Claiming solidarity with the Syrian people, on 11/12/2011 the Arab League suspended the membership of Syria (Lebanon and Yemen voted no and Iraq abstained) and cancelled its monitoring mission in Syria on 1/28/12. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation suspended Syria’s membership on 5/15/12 at a summit of Muslim leaders in Mecca. Saudi Arabia, the summit’s host, has led all Arab League and OIC calls for the Syrian rebel opposition
to be armed, which Foreign Minister Saud al-Fasial described in February and since as “an excellent idea.”

By their actions, the OIC and the Arab League are themselves sanctioning the Syrian people in brutal forms and doing nothing to object to the immoral and illegal aspects of the American sanctions. Both organizations stand accused of abandoning their charters in order to maintain profitable relations with NATO countries as they funnel large sums of money and weapons to various militias inside Syria. It is their “agents,” the jihadist groups, who have turned on the Syrian civilian population increasingly resorting to theft, kidnapping for ransom, rape, sale of children and killing hundreds according to UN agencies.

In one poignant interview near Omayyad Square the other day, a solemn, long bearded Sunni Sheik told this observer that the American sanctions are also directly targeting Islam because the sanctions constitute an attack on Islamic values. When pressed for specifics, he reluctantly replied, “Because your countries sanctions are impoverishing our people and forcing our Muslim women into prostitution. These sanctions are also flooding the streets with Muslim beggars, both adults and children. I am sure you have seen them, here in Damascus, across Syria and in bordering countries. But the claimed protectors of our holy sites are silent and shed only insincere tears in public. But if they resisted these sanctions they could defeat them. What is required in a 1970’s type Arab boycott of American and western companies until these anti-Muslim sanctions are lifted.”

The honorable gentleman has a point.

The Arab League’s recent ministerial-level meeting held in Cairo was called to focus on the Syrian refugees file. But the rather pathetic quick one day deliberations ignored the causes of the suffering of the civilian population as well as the fact that most of the 22 countries comprising the Arab League have been a main cause behind the displacement of the Syrian civilian population. Both the AL and the OIC stand accused here in Syria of participation in the sanctions which are decimating the Syrian people’s livelihood. Some AL and OIC officials are shedding crocodile tears about
the miserable living conditions of the Syrian refugees “in spite of spending millions on recruiting mercenaries and salifi-takfiries, training them and purchasing weapons for the terrorists,” the Sheik explained.

One frustrated American NGO director, affiliated loosely with the World Food Program, expressed her frustration: “If these organizations (AL and OIC) wanted to aid Syrian refugees they should stop supplying the gunmen with weapons and money and stop inciting sedition in Syria.”

The Arab League Secretary General, Nabil al-Arabi, still does not get it.

He used last week’s Arab League session to insist on foreign intervention and regime change, renewing the AL demand that the UN Security Council deploy international forces in Syria.

The Lebanese Foreign Minister, Adnan Mansour, offered his views of the Syrian refugee’s displacement. Notable causations, he claimed, are the flow of weapons and money into Syria, the entry of foreign gunmen and not joining a political dialogue. To his credit, Mansour called on the AL and OIC to “shoulder their responsibilities towards the refugees through ensuring their humanitarian, medical, livelihood, educational and services requirements in order to ease their daily suffering.”

As for the Kuwaiti Minister, he considered that the US-led sanctions were not a problem but rather that the suffering of the Syrian people was caused by the failure of the UN Security Council to meet the demands of the AL for immediate military intervention in Syria. He also insisted that Kuwait has mobilized all its resources to ensure that financial and relief resources alleviated the suffering of the Syrian refugees.

To date, the Syrian refugees, victims of US led and AL-OIC complicity, have not received any of the assistance Kuwait, the Arab League or the Organization of the Islamic Conference has promised. Rather, these organizations appear to be propping up the US-led sanctions.

Meanwhile, according to officials, Syria’s government has just authorized the UN World Food Program to extend its reach in the country where 2.5 million people are suffering from hunger. Ertharin Cousin, spokeswoman of the WFP, announced on Tuesday that Syria is allowing the organization to work with local aid groups to reach more of those in need. To boost the number of people receiving emergency assistance, the Syrian government last week drew up a list of 110 local NGOs authorized to participate in the aid effort.

WFP is working closely with the Syrian Arab Republic Red Crescent Society (SARCS) which, thanks to more than 9000 volunteers, are operating the following facilities to serve every Syrian and Palestinian without consideration of sect or political views: Damascus 15, Damascus countryside 68, Suwayda 2, Homs 71, Idelb 2, Aleppo 185, al-Raqqah 52, al-Hasakah 52, Dayr al-Zawr 4, and Quneitra 12.

Unlike the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, SARCS, the World Food Program, and more than 40 other NGO’s can be observed any day of the week confronting and attempting to ameliorate the profoundly immoral and illegal US-led sanctions — manifold actions, not crocodile tears — in aid of the civilian population of Syria.

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

America’s New Proxy: The Syrian National Coalition

The Many Faces of its Leader, Sheikh Ahmad Moaz Al-Khatib

by Thierry Meyssan, source

Completely unkown to the international public only a week ago, Sheikh Moaz al-Khatib has been catapulted to the presidency of the Syrian National Coalition, which represents pro-Western opposition in the Damascus government. Portrayed by an intense public relations campaign as a highly moral personality with no partisan or economic attachments, he is in truth a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and an executive of

The dislocation of the armed Syrian opposition is a reflection of the conflict between the various States which are trying to “change the regime” in Damascus.

We should pay particular attention to the Syrian National Council (SNC), also known as the Istanbul Council, since it was instituted there. This council is guided with an iron hand by the French DGSE (Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure), and financed by Qatar. Its members, who have obtained residency and various other privileges in France, are under constant pressure from the secret services, who dictate every declaration they make.

The Local Coordination Committees (LCC) represent those local civilians who support armed action.

Finally, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which is principally managed by Turkey, unites most of the combatants, including the d’Al-Qaida brigades. 80% of these units recognise the Takfirist Sheikh Adnan Al-Arour as their spiritual leader. He is based in Saudi Arabia.

Seeking to regain leadership and bring a little order to this cacophony, Washington ordered the Arab League to call a meeting in Doha, sabotaged the SNC, and obliged as many of the tiny groups as possible to integrate a single and exclusive structure – the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. Behind the scenes, ambassador Robert S. Ford himself allotted the seats and privileges for this assembly, and has imposed as President of the Coalition a personality who has never yet been mentioned in the Press – Sheikh Ahmad Moaz Al-Khatib.

Robert S. Ford is considered to be the State Department’s principal specialist for the Middle East. He was the assistant of John Negroponte from 2004 to 2006, while this master spy was busy applying in Iraq the methods he had developed in Honduras – the intensive use of death squads and Contras. Shortly before the events in Syria began, Ford was nominated as Ambassador to Damascus, and assumed his functions despite Senate opposition. He immediately applied the Negroponte method to Syria with obvious results.

While the creation of the National Coalition objectifies Washington’s take-over of the armed opposition, it does not solve the question of representivity. Very quickly, various components of the SLA withdrew. In particular, the Coalition excludes any form of opposition which is hostile to armed struggle, especially Haytham al-Manna’s National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change.

The choice of Sheikh Ahmad Moaz Al-Khatib responds to a clear necessity – in order for the President to be recognised by the combatants, he has to be religious figure, but in order to be accepted by Westerners, he has to appear moderate. And especially, in this period of intense negotiations, the new President has to have a solid understanding of the subject in order to discuss the future of Syrian gas – but this is not a subject to be introduced in public.

US spin doctors quickly gave Sheikh Ahmad Moaz Al-Khatib a make-over, dressing him in a suit but no tie. Some of the media speak of him as a “model” leader. For example, a major US daily newspaper presents him as “a unique product of his culture, like Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma” [1]

Here is the portrait of him drawn up by the Agence France Presse (AFP):

“Sheikh Ahmad Moaz Al-Khatib, the consensual man

Born in 1960, Sheikh Ahmad Moaz Al-Khatib is a moderate religious figure who was for a time the Imam of the Omeyyades mosque in Damascus. He belongs to no political party.
It is this independence, and his proximity to Riad Seif at the origin of the initiative for a wider coalition, which makes him a consensual candidate for the leadership of the opposition.
His background is in Sufi Islam. A religious dignitary, he has studied international relations and diplomacy, and is not linked to the Muslim Brotherhood or any other Islamist organisation in the opposition.
Arrested several times in 2012 for having publicly called for the end of the regime in Damascus, he was forbidden to speak in Syrian mosques by order of the authorities, and found refuge in Qatar.
Born in Damascus, he played a decisive role in the mobilisation of the suburbs of the capital, notably Douma, which was active from the very beginnings of the peaceful demonstrations in March 2011. “Sheikh al-Khatib is a consensual figure who enjoys true popular support on the ground”, underlines Khaled al-Zeini, a member of the Syrian National Council.” [2]

The truth is quite different.

In reality, there is absolutely no evidence that Sheikh Ahmad Moaz Al-Khatib ever studied international relations and diplomacy, but he does have training as an engineer in geophysics. He worked for six years for the al-Furat Petroleum Company (1985-91), a joint-venture between the national company and other foreign enterprises, including the Anglo-Dutch Shell, with whom he has maintained contact.

In 1992, he inherited the prestigious charge of preacher at the Omeyyades mosque from his father, Sheikh Mohammed Abu al-Faraj al-Khatib. He was rapidly relieved of his functions and forbidden to preach anywhere in Syria. However, this episode did not occur in 2012, and has nothing to do with the present contestation – it happened twenty years ago, under Hafez el-Assad. At that time, Syria was supporting the international intervention to liberate Kuwait, in respect of international law, in order to get rid of their Iraqi rival, and also to forge closer ties with the West. As for the Sheikh, he was opposed to “Desert Storm” for the same religious motives which were proclaimed by Oussama Ben Laden – with whom he aligned himself – notably the refusal of Western presence on Arab lands, which they consider sacrilegious. This position led him to deliver a number of anti-semitic and anti-Western diatribes.

Following that, the Sheikh continued his activity as a religious teacher, notably at the Dutch Institute in Damascus. He made numerous trips abroad, mainly to Holland, the United Kingdom and the United State. Finally, he settled in Qatar.

In 2003-04, during the attribution of oil and gas concessions, he returned to Syria as a lobbyist for the Shell group.

He came back to Syria again at the beginning of 2012, where he inflamed the neighbourhood of Douma (a suburb of Damascus). He was arrested, then pardoned, and left the country in July to settle in Cairo.

His family is indeed steeped in the Sufi tradition, but contrary to what the AFP claims, he is a member of the Muslim brotherhood, and declared this quite clearly at the end of his speech of investiture at Doha. According to the usual technique of the Brotherhood, he adapts not only the form, but also the content of his speeches to his audience. Sometimes leaning towards a multi-religious society, sometimes towards the restoration of sharia law. In his writings, he qualifies Jewish people as “enemies of God”, and Shiite muslims as “rejectionist heretics”, epithets which are the equivalent of a death sentence.

In the end, Ambassador Robert S. Ford has played his hand well – once again Washington has duped its allies. Just like in Libya, France has taken all the risks, but in the major compromises which are to come, Total will have gained no advantage.

Translation
Pete Kimberley

US pushes Persian Gulf states to develop missile shield: US officials

Press TV

The United States is pressing the Persian Gulf littoral states to develop a Washington-engineered multi-billion-dollar missile system, senior American officials say.

“It’s the United States’ goal, to encourage the [P]GCC countries ([Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council) to develop this missile defense architecture,” a senior US official said prior to Washington’s negotiations with the six Arab states in New York on Friday.

“To be able to defend against a missile in your territory often requires radars and other types of capabilities outside your territory,” he added.

The American official expressed optimism that the Persian Gulf states will sign contracts to develop the missile system in the coming months.

The New York talks were held in line with a new strategic cooperation forum set up in March, which also led to Washington’s plan to hold drills near the Persian Gulf on September 16-27, in cooperation with 20 countries.

“I think that the important thing to understand is that if they are buying US missile defense equipment, it’ll make it easier to knit that together, because by its nature, it’ll be more inter-operable,” the US official noted.

According to another US administration official, Washington seeks to put the security of the Strait of Hormuz under spotlight in an attempt to encourage the Persian Gulf states to develop the missile system.

The missile system would include the deployment of radars to boost the range of early warning coverage across the Persian Gulf, as well as launching command, control and communications systems that could exchange that information with missile interceptors whose triggers are controlled by individual countries.

Despite the purchase of such massive amounts of weapon systems, it is the US military forces that provide a core capability for ballistic missile systems in the Persian Gulf.

NATO preparing vast disinformation campaign

by Thierry Meyssan, voltairenet.org, source

11-6-2012

Member States of NATO and the GCC are preparing a coup d’état and a sectarian genocide in Syria. If you want to prevent these crimes, you should act now: circulate this article on the Internet and alert your elected officials.

In a few days, perhaps as early as Friday, June 15, at noon, the Syrians wanting to watch their national TV stations will see them replaced on their screens by TV programs created by the CIA. Studio-shot images will show massacres that are blamed on the Syrian Government, people demonstrating, ministers and generals resigning from their posts, President Al-Assad fleeing, the rebels gathering in the big city centers, and a new government installing itself in the presidential palace.

This operation of disinformation, directly managed from Washington by Ben Rhodes, the US deputy national security adviser for strategic communication, aims at demoralizing the Syrians in order to pave the way for a coup d’etat. NATO, discontent about the double veto of Russia and China, will thus succeed in conquering Syria without attacking the country illegally. Whichever judgment you might have formed on the actual events in Syria, a coup d’etat will end all hopes of democratization.

The Arab League has officially asked the satellite operators Arabsat and Nilesat to stop broadcasting Syrian media, either public or private (Syria TV, Al-Ekbariya, Ad-Dounia, Cham TV, etc.) A precedent already exists because the Arab League had managed to censure Libyan TV in order to keep the leaders of the Jamahiriya from communicating with their people. There is no Hertz network in Syria, where TV works exclusively with satellites. The cut, however, will not leave the screens black.

Actually, this public decision is only the tip of the iceberg. According to our information several international meetings were organized during the past week to coordinate the disinformation campaign. The first two were technical meetings, held in Doha (Qatar); the third was a political meeting and took place in Riyad (Saudi Arabia).

The first meeting assembled PSYOP officers, embedded in the satellite TV channels of Al-Arabiya, Al-Jazeera, BBC, CNN, Fox, France 24, Future TV and MTV. It is known that since 1998, the officers of the US Army Psychological Operations Unit (PSYOP) have been incorporated in CNN. Since then this practice has been extended by NATO to other strategic media as well.

They fabricated false information in advance, on the basis of a “story-telling” script devised by Ben Rhodes’s team at the White House. A procedure of reciprocal validation was installed, with each media quoting the lies of the other media to render them plausible for TV spectators. The participants also decided not only to requisition the TV channels of the CIA for Syria and Lebanon (Barada, Future TV, MTV, Orient News, Syria Chaab, Syria Alghad) but also about 40 religious Wahhabi TV channels to call for confessional massacres to the cry of “Christians to Beyrouth, Alawites into the grave!.”

The second meeting was held for engineers and technicians to fabricate fictitious images, mixing one part in an outdoor studio, the other part with computer generated images. During the past weeks, studios in Saudi Arabia have been set up to build replicas of the two presidential palaces in Syria and the main squares of Damascus, Aleppo and Homs. Studios of this type already exist in Doha (Qatar), but they are not sufficient.

The third meeting was held by General James B. Smith, the US ambassador, a representative of the UK, prince Bandar Bin Sultan (whom former U.S. president George Bush named his adopted son so that the U.S. press called him “Bandar Bush”). In this meeting the media actions were coordinated with those of the Free “Syrian” Army, in which prince Bandar’s mercenaries play a decisive role.

The operation had been in the making for several months, but the U.S. National Security Council decided to accelerate the action after the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, notified the White House that he would oppose by all means, even by force, any illegal NATO military intervention in Syria.

The operation has a double intent: the first is to spread false information, the second aims at censuring all possible responses.

The hampering of TV satellites for military purposes is not new. Under pressure from “Israel”, the USA and the EU blocked Lebanese, Palestinian, Iraqi, Libyan and Iranian TV channels, one after the other. However, no satellite channels from other parts of the world were censured.

The broadcast of false news is also not new, but four significant steps have been taken in the art of propaganda during the last decade.

• In 1994, a pop music station named “Free Radio of the Thousand Hills” (RTML) gave the signal for genocide in Rwanda with the cry, “Kill the cockroaches!”

• In 2001, NATO used the media to impose an interpretation of the 9/11 attacks and to justify its own aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq. At that time already, it was Ben Rhodes who had been commissioned by the Bush administration to concoct the Kean/Hamilton Commission report on the attacks.

• In 2002, the CIA used five TV channels (Televen, Globovision, ValeTV and CMT) to make the public in Venezuela believe that phantom demonstrators had captured the elected president, Hugo Chávez, forcing him to resign. In reality he was the victim of a military coup d’etat.

• In 2011, France 24 served as information ministry for the Libyan CNT, according to a signed contract. During the battle of Tripoli, NATO produced fake studio films, then transmitted them via Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, showing phantom images of Libyan rebels on the central square of the capital city, while in reality they were still far away. As a consequence, the inhabitants of Tripoli were persuaded that the war was lost and gave up all resistance.

Nowadays the media do not only support a war, they produce it themselves.

This procedure violates the principles of International Law, first of all Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights relating to the fact of receiving and imparting information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Above all, the procedure violates the United Nations General Assembly resolution, adopted after the end of World War II, to prevent further wars. Resolutions 110, 381 and 819 forbid “to set obstacles to free exchange of information and ideas” (like cutting off Syrian TV channels) and “all propaganda provoking or encouraging threats to peace, breaking peace, and all acts of aggression”. By law, war propaganda is a crime against peace, the worst of crimes, because it facilitates war crimes and genocide.

Bahrain backs Saudi plan to unify six Persian Gulf Arab states: report

(File photo)

Press TV

Bahraini Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa has declared Manama’s support for a Saudi plan to unify the six Arab states of the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council, a report says.

According to a report published by the Saudi newspaper al-Riyadh on Sunday, the Bahraini premier said the “option of a union has become urgent.”

Riyadh is reportedly seeking to initially merge with Manama in line with a proposal to unify the six Arab states of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Leaders of the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council states are expected to meet and discuss the Saudi proposal on May 14. The Arab states claim the purpose of the unity is to counter regional threats.

In December 2011, Saudi King Abdullah called on the council members to move “beyond the stage of cooperation and into the stage of unity in a single entity.”

The Bahraini premier told al-Riyadh the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council must “concentrate during this period on achieving and ensuring security and increasing coordination in the fields of security, military and defense by adopting a unified [Persian] Gulf security structure to protect the council’s states.”

Bahraini Information Minister Samira Rajab said on Saturday the idea of Arab union could follow the “European Union model.”

The report by al-Riyadh comes as Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of the main Bahraini opposition group, al-Wefaq, censured the unity proposal on Sunday, demanding a referendum on the issue to be held in all the six Arab countries.

“Bahrain gained its independence (in 1971) following a referendum” overseen by the United Nations, Salman said in a speech.

The Bahraini opposition leader also stated that the people of Bahrain “alone have the right” to decide and the ruling Al Khalifa regime has “no right to decide a union or confederation with any country.”

A committee of representatives from the six Arab states will submit its findings on the Saudi proposal to the meeting on Monday.

The Road to Hell: Libya and Now Syria?

(File photo)

by Jeremy Salt – Ankara, source

The report just issued by the UN Human Rights Council’s ‘independent international commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic’ is now being passed along the line to the UN Security Council, with the recommendation by the UN Human Rights Commissioner, Navi Pillay, that the Syrian government be referred to the International Criminal Court for prosecution.

In its terms of reference the commission describes itself as a ‘fact-finding body’ based on the standard of ‘reasonable suspicion’. Yet if there is anything that characterizes this document, it is the lack of attention to fact. The report is based on accusations, allegations and claims against the Syrian government which it does not even attempt to verify. It repeats the claim that the Syrian government’s security forces are responsible for the deaths of 3500 people – the figure usually given – when there is strong prima facie evidence that a large number of the dead, civilians as well as soldiers, have been the victims of armed gangs operating across the country. It does not even say where it picked up this figure, since increased to 4000 by Navi Pillay, or whether it has any independent evidence that it is accurate.

Two central questions needed to be dealt with if this commission wanted to get at the facts. First, how much truth is there in the allegations being made against the Syrian government and its security forces? Here the commission records the allegations but makes no attempt to verify them. Thus the fact remains unknown. Second, how much truth is there in the allegations made by the Syrian government? Here the commission does not even deal with the allegations. Despite this bias, the result is the same: the fact remains unknown.

The commission says it interviewed 223 victims and witnesses of alleged human rights violations, ‘including civilians and defectors from the military and security forces’. It does not say who these people are, where it got their names from, why they were chosen and who covered the costs of their travel and accommodation. It indicates that other sources of its information include ‘non-government organizations, human rights defenders, journalists and experts’. As this same group is the source of many of the unsubstantiated if not patently false accusations (i.e. dead people who have turned up alive) appearing in the mainstream media, it is obviously important to know precisely which organizations and individuals helped the commission and what the information was that they supplied, but the commission does not say.

The commission regrets that the Syrian government, ‘despite many requests’, failed to engage in dialogue ‘and grant the commission access to the country’. But as the Syrian government points out, in a letter printed as an annex to this report, it had established its own Independent Special Legal Commission, with sub-commissions operating across Syria since the end of March, and therefore would not be able to provide the UN commission with the material it wanted until it had concluded its own inquiries. However, because it could not accommodate itself to the commission’s timetable, it is accused of failing to cooperate.

On September 12 the president of the Human Rights Council (Laura Dupuy Lasserre) appointed three ‘high level experts’ as members of the commission of inquiry: Paulo Pinheiro (chairman), Yakin Ertürk and Karen Koning AbuZayd. They were required to produce their report by the end of November, with an update to be handed in by March, 2012. There is no indication of why the end of November was chosen for the deadline and not December or January, giving the commission more time to investigate the allegations being made. The time frame was extremely constricted given the work load. Within the space of six weeks (end of September to the middle of November), 223 witnesses were interviewed and a report prepared. The commission’s mandated task was ‘to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law since March 2011 in the Syrian Arab Republic, to establish the facts and circumstances that may amount to such violations and of the crimes perpetrated and where possible to identify those responsible with a view of ensuring that perpetrators of violations, including those that may constitute crimes against humanity, are held accountable’. This clearly could not be done in six weeks. The apparent rush to get the report out will raise questions in many minds about timing, given the way in which the net is being closed around the Syrian government by those who want to bring it down.

The commission presents one side of the story throughout. For virtually every claim it makes there is a counter narrative which it ignores. One such claim involves the use of snipers. The commission says or implies that they were state security forces. There is countervailing evidence of armed civilians shooting at demonstrators to throw the blame on to the state. Perhaps there is truth in both versions, but both versions needed to be considered. The fact remains that the identity of these snipers is not known.

The report alleges that roadblocks and security checks were set up to prevent people from joining demonstrations but makes no mention of allegations of roadblocks being set up by armed gangs and the consequent kidnapping and killing of civilians. It refers to killings and arrests at Jisr al Shughur but not the evidence of the massacre of soldiers and civilians around the town in July: even if only prima facie it deserved to be considered. It produces claims of torture and killing ‘reportedly’ taking place in Homs military hospital ‘by security forces dressed as doctors and allegedly acting with the complicity of medical personnel’. Such a serious charge surely needs more to back it up than ‘reportedly’. The report mentions the raid on a mosque in Dar’a early in the protest movement but not the stockpile of weapons found there. It refers to the torture and murder in custody of two teenage boys and claims that up to November 9, ‘reliable sources’ indicated that 256 children had been killed by state forces. This is such a serious accusation that some corroborative evidence was needed but there is nothing, not the name even of one of these children and not the circumstances in which they were allegedly killed.

It quotes a ‘defector’ (no evidence that this person actually is one) as being told by his commander to ‘disperse the crowd or eliminate everybody including children’. There is no supporting evidence for this accusation. The state security forces are accused of rape but there is no mention of the cases of rape reported by the Syrian authorities to have been committed by armed gangs as part of their project to terrorize and intimidate the civilian population. The army is accused of using tanks and heavy weapons against residential buildings. These accusations are denied by the government. Furthermore, if they were used, were the civilians inside those buildings armed and shooting at the army, as seems to have been the case at Homs and probably elsewhere? The commission does not mention the use of heavy weapons by armed men against the army. Apparently it has not seen the videos of the charred bodies of soldiers lying beside burnt-out tanks. The commission’s statement that it is ‘aware of acts of violence committed by demonstrators’ is a minor point besides the violence of the armed gangs. The substantial body of evidence of their crimes surely needed to be considered if the human rights of all Syrians and not just those who have died at the hands of state security forces are to be taken into account.

In short, this report does not even meet its own ‘lower standard of proof’. In fact, and this seems to be the only fact insofar as this report is concerned, there is little proof of anything. The commission perhaps needed to be reminded that the ‘defectors’ and the Syrian National Council do not represent the Syrian people. Bashar al Assad’s personal popularity plays out well for his government amongst a normally skeptical people. His face has been the focal point of demonstrations of support by millions of people in recent months. If anything, sanctions imposed by the US, the EU, the Arab League and Turkey, along with the constant threat of force, seem to have strengthened public support for Bashar and his government. The commission certainly would have had no difficulty in finding Syrians prepared to come to Geneva to tell another side of the story. Apparently there was no room for them and no interest in what they had to say.

We have just seen what has been done to Libya in the name of human rights and the ‘responsibility to protect’. Uncounted thousands of Libyans were killed in eight months of bombing and missile attacks by French, British and American warplanes. There is prima facie evidence that war crimes were committed but there is not even the suggestion that someone will be held accountable. Further back stands Iraq, invaded in 1991 and then subjected to a decade of sanctions which ended the lives of about one million Iraqis, including hundreds of thousands of children. The second war launched in 2003 brought the overall civilian death toll since 1991 to somewhere between 1.5 and two million Iraqis. Again, prime facie evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity without any of the perpetrators being punished. The kind of lies told before the attacks of 1991 (babies being thrown out of their incubators in Kuwait) and 2003 (weapons of mass destruction) were duplicated in the propaganda war which preceded the aerial assault on Libya this year (mass killing and Viagra-fuelled rape).

To their eternal shame, the Arab League and governments which sell themselves on their Muslim credentials took part in or came in behind this war on a Muslim country by three non-Muslim governments. Now a third Arab country is being laid out on the chopping board, not in North Africa but at the very heart of the Middle East. The US, France, Britain and their Arab allies can sense that a momentous victory is at hand and they are pushing as hard as they can, using every weapon at their disposal. At the end of the road lies the possibility of armed intervention through the declaration of a ‘no fly’ zone and a cross-border operation to establish a ‘buffer zone’ or what the French Foreign Minister, Alain Juppé, prefers to call a ‘humanitarian corridor’. These are propaganda phrases, of course. What the advocates of intervention are talking about is war and everything it entails – widespread destruction and the death of thousands of people.

Reconstructed Syria’s future is already being written. A leading figure in the Syrian National Council, Burhan Ghaliun, has said that a new government would break relations with Iran and would overturn the present strategic relationship with Hizbullah. The connections of other members of this council with the Gulf States, the US State Department and Israel’s lobbyists in Washington are further evidence of how Syria is to be remolded if the present government can be brought down. Short of the toppling of the Islamic government in Iran, it would be hard to think of a greater triumph for ‘the West’ and its reactionary allies across the Middle East, not to mention the benefits for Israel. Are those Arabs joining the chorus against the Syrian government in the name of human rights even thinking about this?

- Jeremy Salt teaches the history of the modern Middle East in the Department of Political science, Bilkent University, Ankara. He previously taught at Bogazici (Bosporus) University in Istanbul and the University of Melbourne. His publications include The Unmaking of the Middle East: A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands (University of California Press, 2008).

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