‘Global balance of power takes shape in Syria’

altWednesday, 29 August 2012 16:28

by Russia Today

 
Published on 23, August, 2012
 
The Syrian crisis is comparable to the Suez Crisis when a US-USSR standoff marked the demise of the old world, Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Dr. Qadri Jamil told RT. Today, Russia and China usher a unipolar world to an end.
 
­RT: Let us start by revisiting your recent news conference in which you assessed the basic principles that must be observed for any kind of dialogue to be possible in Syria. You named two principles: ending hostilities and refraining from foreign interference. Is there anything else?
 
Dr. Qadri Jamil: No. There are only these two principles, which should be enough. If we were to agree on these two principles, all other issues would become technicalities, despite our contradictions, and we would be able to reach an agreement on certain reciprocal concessions.
 
The guidelines in question include refraining from foreign interference in any form, which means the Syrian people should be allowed to decide their fate by themselves. It is, in fact, a longstanding principle of international relations that’s being violated right now.
 
The second principle requires giving up violence in any of its forms. If we look at the issues that lie at the core of contention in Syria, we’ll see that it’s something that simply cannot be resolved through use of force. Instead, the way to deal with them is to sit down at the negotiating table. I should say that pursuing a peaceful solution through dialogue would require the world to show quite a lot of courage by refraining from military action. It might seem that military force can get you farther than anything else; but in reality, we’ve all seen that warfare doesn’t get you anywhere politically.
 
The situation in Syria is very volatile, and any instance of armed combat will only escalate the hostilities. What we need is a simultaneous ceasefire, which would be in line with the Kofi Annan plan, the Geneva arrangements, the stance of our friends, and the attitude of the Syrian government, which has published a resolution calling for national reconciliation.
 
RT: How would you respond to people who say they won’t negotiate with a government whose military machine has been razing Syrian cities to the ground? How is that as a pre-condition for dialogue?
 
QJ: That’s beyond reason. Violence has been employed by each of the warring parties. If we start regarding such statements as a precondition, then dialogue will never take place. Civil wars in Lebanon and Algeria have shown that, sooner or later, warring parties do come to negotiate with each other. So the Syrian people do have a chance.
 
If only we get down to reconciliation without delay, we might avoid having to pay an immense price for our country’s war-torn economy. Common sense and wisdom call for sitting down at the negotiating table as soon as possible, without imposing any preconditions that will only impede the process. Such demands may be perfectly well-meaning but, at the end of the day, they are misleading and effectively do more to obstruct the peace process rather than encourage it. And anyone who’s impeding dialogue right now should be held responsible for the continuing bloodshed in Syria.
 

RT: Dr. Qadri, you and [Syrian National Reconciliation Minister] Dr. [Ali] Haidar have been described as prominent personalities with the so-called domestic opposition. Today, you are members of a national reconciliation government. Notwithstanding the escalating violence, would you say that your cooperation with the regime has managed to make a change as far as government policies are concerned?

 
QJ: First of all, the present government can’t be called a government of reconciliation, as it has a different shape. Still, our joining this government on behalf of the opposition was aimed at unraveling the maze and finding a way to establish a true, national unity government.
 
We know now that sitting by and expecting such conditions, which will make all the opposition parties join in the national unity government, can cause damage. So, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to make the first step toward forming a coalition government while retaining our opposition views. We joined the government based on a national unity agenda, which was put into practice by a governmental declaration.
 
The declaration includes two major provisions which are the backbone of the coalition and of the future. The Syrian government relies on the principle of national reconciliation, and its recent declaration upholds this principle as a cornerstone, regarding it as a process that would express the sovereign will of the people and be essential for resolving the crisis. Adopting a roadmap for national reconciliation by a national unity government can be regarded as a victory of the entire Syrian people.
The second provision goes in tune with our principles and was proven by the government declaration. It suggests focusing on the East, and not just in politics, given how the current worldwide situation was affected by Russia and China’s veto, that meant the end of old age and the beginning of a new one.
 
I mean focusing on the East regarding the economy, fully revising all the economic ties of Syria which have existed throughout the years. The revision of the system is a crucial task. The Syrian crisis gave rise to it, and now the outset of this revision is of great importance and means a lot. This is not a short-term measure; this solution will have a positive impact for the Syrian economy, society and social structure.
 
RT: You’ve mentioned the cessation of hostilities as one of the key principles, and you reiterated that point at the news conference. However, there is violence employed on both sides of the conflict in Syria, and one of the warring parties is the government, of which you are a minister. Have you tried using your position in the cabinet to promote the notion of ending the violence?
 
QJ: As far as the cessation of violence is concerned, we should refer to the Geneva Communiqué, which provides for a ceasefire in accordance with the Kofi Annan plan, and requires each party to assign their empowered interlocutors. Syria did appoint its official representative, whereas the other party still hasn’t done so, and I don’t know why. Maybe they have trouble picking the right person for the job. Whatever the reason, dialogue and negotiation cannot happen without each party making their contribution. In our case, one of the parties cannot decide whether it wants to participate, their deadlines change constantly, and the talks are perpetually postponed. It’s high time that we get on with the process of negotiation.
 
This issue is closely linked to the opposition choosing between options. The opposition is very diverse. One of its more reasonable factions is the National Coordinating Committee, which has made their stance clear: they call for dialogue with no preconditions. We have supported their position, which is indeed similar to our own long-standing perspective. We see that there are points for convergence among Syria’s various political groups, including the opposition, both inside Syria and abroad.
 
In this regard, there was a very important statement made yesterday by Dr. Haitham, who has gone as far as to suggest handing over to The Hague tribunal the militants who are guilty of killing Syrians. Therefore, I am confident that reality itself urges every sane-minded person to call for dialogue. If we manage to agree on the principles I’ve already named, once we start a dialogue we would be able to address any issue. But we need to refrain from insisting on pre-conditions that are likely to prevent dialogue altogether. We can achieve a lot at the negotiating table, if only we agree on the two fundamental principles for starting a dialogue.
 
RT: Most observers believe that Syria has become hostage to a global competition for power and influence waged by major global players. Would you say that American presidential candidates, President Obama in particular, have taken advantage of this issue?
 
QJ: The Syrian crisis is unfolding at a turning point in history that I like to compare to the Suez Crisis. The US-Soviet standoff marked the demise of the old world, where the UK and France enjoyed hegemony, and the emergence of a new bipolar world. Today, the opposition of Russia and China is what ushers in the end of a unipolar world.
 
But the new world order is yet to take shape.
 
Today, international relations are going through a painful metamorphosis. There is a lot of chaos and disagreement, and this brings both positive and negative implications for the Syrian crisis.
 
The downside to this phenomenon is that the global balance of power is still taking shape. Continued hostilities in Syria are what the US and Europe wants to see. These hostilities follow the familiar Yugoslavia scenario. The bloodshed makes it impossible for various groups to coexist peacefully within the Syrian nation. This is why the current international situation is so dangerous.
 
However, it also creates a historically-unprecedented opportunity for the Syrian people to untangle a problem built on a long-standing and deep-rooted feud in a totally new way. This is, of course, only possible if there is enough political willpower to do that.
 
If Syria manages to resolve this crisis, it will, for the first time in history, cast away the all-too-familiar pattern of dividing the state and society along the lines of differences, as was the case in Libya and Iraq – to replace it by a renaissance that will get Syria a place in the sun in the new political and economic environment.
 

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Turkey and Iran: Competition and Confrontation

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi (L) and his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu arrive for a meeting in Ankara, on 7 August 2012. (Photo: AFP – Adem Altan)
 
Published Wednesday, August 29, 2012
 
On August 21, the Mokdad clan kidnapped two Turkish citizens with the intention of holding them hostage until a member of their family who went missing in Syria is released. Meanwhile, the families of the 11 kidnapped Lebanese in Syria held a sit-in in front of the Turkish embassy, and threats were issued against Turkish military personnel working with UNIFIL in the South.

These incidents in Lebanon have coincided with rising tensions between Turkey and Iran due to shifts in the Syrian conflict and the kidnapping of 48 Iranians by rebels there. Tehran has issued warnings to Ankara and the situation threatens to deteriorate into an open confrontation – a scenario both Turkey and Iran seem keen to avoid.

When Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu outlined a new approach to foreign policy in his book, Strategic Depth, he wanted a smooth implementation of certain principles based on his theory of eliminating all sources of tension with neighboring countries: solve thorny disputes by dialogue (or put them off, if they cannot be immediately resolved) and develop channels for cooperation. Dialogue had even begun to move forward with Armenia, albeit slowly. Davutoglu himself described it as a policy of “no fighting with the neighbors.”

 This policy of “eliminating problems” has failed. It worked when the region was relatively peaceful, the ordinary conflicts notwithstanding. But we are currently living through an exceptional period. The Arab Spring foiled all calculations and overturned the scales.

Turkey has decided to ride the wave of change sweeping across the region for the purpose of extending its own influence. It is supporting the Arab revolts under the pretext of establishing relationships within the new order, while at the same time sliding deeper into regional conflicts.

There was a time when Turkey could have avoided getting directly involved in these struggles – Egypt and Tunisia are geographically at a distance from Turkey, and the regimes there fell quickly. In Libya, Turkey supported the revolutionaries under the umbrella of the UN Security Council, and Gaddafi’s regime fell after a few months of intense fighting.

In Syria, the situation is different. From the very beginning, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that what was happening in Syria directly affected Turkish national security, lending geopolitical justification to Ankara’s position.

Syria, which shares a 822-kilometer border with its northern neighbor, was Turkey’s gateway to the Middle East. Trucks carrying Turkish goods once travelled through Syria and on to Jordan, Iraq, and other Arab countries.

Turkish trade has suffered with the closing of this passage, and the sea route through the Mediterranean to the Red Sea via the Suez canal is long and expensive. According to informed sources, the Turkish foreign minister has been discussing the possibility of cutting customs taxes on Turkish ships with the Egyptian government.

It was for these reasons Turkish diplomats initially tried to find a quick solution to the Syrian crisis by supporting radical reforms that would include the opposition in the political process, while keeping Bashar al-Assad in power until the end of his mandate.

At that stage, even Iran was advising Assad, through its president and the secretary general of Hezbollah, to open dialogue with the opposition. But Ankara was embarrassed by Assad’s intransigence, the cosmetic reforms he rolled out, and his decision to pursue the military option, and so it excused itself as mediator and thus became party to the long conflict alongside the opposition.
It was natural that this position placed Turkey in conflict with allies of the Syrian regime, especially Iran. But neither country wants a confrontation. They would prefer to maintain a sort of “civil competition” for influence in the region (in the words of the Turkish ambassador to Lebanon), or at least to postpone any conflict between them.

The Islamic republic is busy with its confrontation with the West over its nuclear program, and it is not in Tehran’s interest to enter into a direct conflict with Turkey, which would only serve to push Ankara towards the Sunni-Arab military alliance against the “Shia crescent.”

Moreover, Iran needs Turkey to break the economic siege that has been imposed upon it. Turkey’s interest, meanwhile, lies in reassuring Iran that its Middle East policy is not a threat to Iranian interests and influence, which explains Turkey’s joint initiative with Brazil to find a solution to the Iranian nuclear dilemma.

Turkey also has an interest in developing its economic ties with Iran, with trade between the two countries reaching approximately $10 billion in 2011, not to mention an agreement to build a gas pipeline from Tabriz to the Gulf of Ceyhan on the Turkish coast.

The economic and political cooperation between Turkey and Iran is not an alliance, but rather an arrangement imposed on the two countries by political realities.

Iran is closely monitoring the evolution of Turkey’s role in the region, especially in areas where Iran exerts influence: Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine. In recent years, Iran expressed concerns over Turkey and Syria’s increasingly close relationship, as it was also wary of Ankara’s influence in Iraq in the form of significant investments in Iraqi Kurdistan. Iran was also caught off guard by Turkish support for the Palestinians in Gaza.

Before Syria became a battlefield, hints of an impending Turkish-Iranian rift appeared in Lebanon, when the leaders of both countries visited Lebanon in 2010. Hezbollah toppled Saad Hariri’s government just one month after the Turkish leader’s visit, with Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah rejecting a bilateral request from Davutoglu and the Qatari prime minister to reinstate the Future Movement leader as the head of the next government.

In November of 2011, in response to Ankara’s support for the Syrian opposition, Tehran threatened to strike the NATO missile shield in Turkey in case of an Israeli-American attack. Today, Iran’s threats are economic in nature and influenced by fundamental shifts taking place in the Syrian conflict.

The Syrian opposition – with support from Ankara and various Western states – is locked in a battle for control of Aleppo, which it intends to make the seat of its military leadership and transitional government, a development that threatens to tilt the balance of political and military power in favor of the opposition.

The Iranian-Turkish rift is still in its beginning stages. Iran is losing its cards one after the other. It lost the Palestinian card after the Hamas leadership left Damascus and the Muslim Brotherhood came to power in Egypt. It is also supporting a dying Assad regime.

Iranian diplomacy too has lost its nerve, and if it makes economic threats against Turkey, it will come out the loser. Turkey does not need Iranian oil or gas like China does, and its interests, as opposed to those of Russia, lie in the weakening of Iran in the Middle East and central Asia.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah is being pulled deeper into internal politics due to its support for a helpless government and its March 8 allies, who are busy fighting over how to divide the “pie” of power. The party is attempting to compensate in terms of popular support by drumming up fears of what will happen if the Assad regime falls, with Hassan Nasrallah explicitly stating that “the situation is out of control.”

However, Hezbollah has not realized that this approach pushes the country towards chaos, and perhaps war. What we fear most is that the party will try to use the hostages card as it did in the 1980’s. But the geopolitical reality in the region is completely different. The power of Hezbollah’s allies, Syria and Iran, is in decline, while the regional role of their enemies is on the rise.

Fadi al-Ahmar is a Middle East researcher and a professor at Kaslik University, Lebanon.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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Media’s Performance… More than ‘Catastrophic’!

 
Hussein Assi
“Catastrophic”: this is how Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah described the media’s behavior in regards to the issue of the Lebanese pilgrims abducted in Syria.
The word might be shocking, especially that Sayyed Nasrallah is known for his support to the media and the freedom of expression. Yet, it has its justifications: All that the media cared about was to break the news and get a scoop, disregarding the feelings of the abductees’ families.
Sayyed Nasrallah was referring to breaking news which claimed that the 11 Lebanese hostages had been killed after an airstrike near where they are thought to be held. Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry denied the reports, but their families took to the streets in protest and blocked the airport road for several hours.
 
 
WHEN EXCLUSIVE SCOOPS BECOME MEDIA CONCERN
 
It might be unfair to hold the Lebanese media responsible of the state’s failure in dealing with a sensitive issue, such as the Lebanese pilgrims abducted in Syria. Yet, the media’s performance in regards to this issue was not perfect since the first day, even though the media portrayed it as a priority.
The media, alongside the politicians, made the first mistake days after the abduction, when they announced a wrong “happy ending” which did not turn to be true. The Lebanese remember well this day, the day in which they celebrated what they believed to be the “freedom” of the abductees, before perceiving that they were still abductees.
Following this “historic” day, politicians decided to change their behavior and decided to quietly dealing with the issue, without propaganda. Media did not. Media outlets approached the humane calamity from a media coup perspective. Exclusive scoops became the main concern of the media, with the so-called “Abu Ibrahim” becoming the main “star” in the Lebanese reality-TV show. The man claimed to be the “abductor”, and appeared in exclusive interviews with the abductees themselves, who were forced to praise him. Some TV reporters were able to join Abu Ibrahim and his company, and long hours were dedicated especially for him.
 
 
THE BLACK WEDNESDAY
 
All what preceded could be justified. It is the “humane aspect” of the cause which pushed Lebanese journalists to follow it until the end.
However, the most “tragic moment” took place on Wednesday, August 15, 2012, or what has been called the “black Wednesday.”

 On this day, rumors triumphed, with media outlets disseminating news that the 11 abductees were killed in strikes on the Syrian city of Azaz. That’s it. With this simplicity and naivety, such a dangerous and suspicious information reached media. It started with the number four.

“Exclusive sources told our station that four of the eleven Lebanese abducted in Syria were killed in an airstrike where they live,” one station said. Immediately, most Lebanese TVs, radios and websites were exchanging the news. Suddenly, another reporter had something, even more dangerous, to add. “I have very bad news, I wish I didn’t have to declare it,” the reporter said, before setting the bomb off: “Well-informed sources confirmed exclusively to our station that the Lebanese authorities were informed of the fate of all the abductees in Syria (…) Yes, they were all killed, alongside Abu Ibrahim and his gang.”
 
 
UNINTENTIONAL MISTAKE… BUT!
 
In conclusion, there were mistakes in the media coverage of the recent events. However, these errors were unintentional, Abdul Hadi Mahfouz, the head of the Audio Visual Media Council, said in an exclusive interview with moqawama.org.
Mahfouz: “The sanctions we could adopt might reach the level of… shutting down some stations!”
“Al-Jadeed and LBCI TV stations violated the law when they based their news on false and unreliable sources, such as Abu Ibrahim (the abductor) and Mohammad Nour (the abductors’ spokesman),” Mahfouz said. Yet, Mahfouz highlighted the risks of such news. “They have caused chaos, and they might have led to the killing of other abductees held by other sides or to spontaneous, not calculated reactions,” he added.
 
According to Mahfouz, media outlets should change its way of dealing with such news. “It goes without saying that any journalist must resort to various sources in covering any news, given that the abductor, in our case, might use the media outlet and exploit it for his interest. Even more, it’s evident that Abu Ibrahim sought to create sedition through the media.”
 
 
APOLOGY, UNDERSTANDING…
 
On Friday, the Audio-Visual Media Council held a meeting, which was attended by information Minister Walid Daouk, council members, the heads of administration boards and news directors for media institutions. The meeting was aimed at discussing the mentioned “violations” and taking “measures” against some media outlets.
 
Despite reports the council could suggest that Al-Jadeed and LBCI be shut down for a short time or issued with warnings, no “sanctions” in this regard were issued. The council’s head Abdul Hadi Mahfouz explained to moqawama.org that there were many possible options to be adopted, especially that the political coverage to the council was available. “Yet, we favored to reach some kind of consensus among media outlets, and we thought that requesting apologies is better at this stage,” he said. “The two concerned stations told us that they have already apologized from the families of the abductees, and we accepted the apology,” he went on to say.
Mahfouz uncovered that the attendees have agreed to reject the use of Abu Ibrahim as a source of information anymore. “We also agreed on the need to make sure of all sources of information, prevent any information that could lead to disorder and sedition,” the head of the Audio-Visual Media Council said, as he stressed that all media outlets must respect the law, which is built on solid principles including objectivity and safeguarding civil peace. He said that some outlets may be dealing with young journalists, who are still new and don’t know their duties and, therefore, can turn to be victims. “In conclusion, all the media outlets were committed to reconsider their situation in order to present their views in another meeting, scheduled next week at NBN headquarters.”
 
SHUTTING OFF OUTLETS… POSSIBLE!
 
What happened during the last few days was an unintentional mistake. And because it was unintentional, the Audio-Visual Media Council refused to impose sanctions, and gave the media outlets another “chance” to correct the performance, before it becomes too late.
But what guarantees the same scenario would not repeat itself? And what if the search of the scoop, amid the fierce competition taking place, could lead to the same “unintentional mistakes”?
The answer comes quick, but solid and firm. “In case the violations were repeated and false news were fabricated, whether intentionally or unintentionally, we will fully assume our responsibilities,” Mahfouz said. “The sanctions we could adopt might reach the level of… shutting down some stations!” he concluded.
Source: moqawama.org


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Turkey presses UN to house refugees inside Syria

Published Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday Turkey had discussed with the United Nations the possibility of housing Syrian refugees inside Syria and that Ankara expected the world body to take concrete steps towards this.

“We expect the United Nations to engage on the topic of protecting refugees inside Syria and if possible sheltering them in camps there,” Davutoglu told a news conference in Ankara.

Davutoglu said Ankara discussed the issue with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres and the UN aid chief Valerie Amos.

Turkey has floated the idea of a “safe zone” to be set up for civilians under foreign protection as fighting intensifies in a 17-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

Up to 5,000 refugees a day have been crossing into Turkey over the past two weeks and the United Nations warned on Tuesday that up to 200,000 people could settle in Turkey if the conflict worsens.
Although there is no sign divided world powers are ready to back a buffer zone and no-fly zone, UN Security Council foreign ministers are expected to discuss the idea at a meeting on Thursday which Davutoglu will attend.

France: no intervention without UN mandate

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Wednesday there was no question of moving forward with foreign intervention without backing from the UN Security Council, where Russia and China have vetoed action against Assad’s regime.
“We continue to believe in international law,” he said.

Fabius admitted that plans to create buffer zones in Syria were “very complicated” and would require the imposition of partial no-fly zones.

Fabius said people displaced by the country’s conflict needed to be protected through the creation of buffer zones but that logistical and diplomatic questions were complicating the issue.

“We are thinking about this. It is very complicated. We cannot do it without the agreement of the Turks and other countries,” Fabius told France Inter radio.

“But what we want is for things to move forward, to make Bashar (al-Assad) fall as quickly as possible and at the same time find humanitarian solutions,” he said.

“A buffer zone is impossible without a no-fly zone,” Fabius said. “To ensure the protection (of displaced people), there must be anti-aircraft and air assets,” he said, adding that ground forces would also be needed.

French President Francois Hollande said Monday that discussions were under way with allies on the possibility of implementing the zones.

In a television interview to be broadcast by the pro-regime Addounia channel on Wednesday, Assad scoffed at the idea of buffer zones.

“Talk of buffer zones firstly is not on the table and secondly it is an unrealistic idea by hostile countries and the enemies of Syria,” he said in advance excerpts of the interview screened by the private channel.
(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)
 

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Al-Akhbar: Former Egyptian MP Received Funds From Geagea to Topple Regime

 
Local Editor

Lebanese daily newspaper al-Akhbar has revealed that an Egyptian citizen identified as Mahmoud Abdel-Rahman, filed a complaint against former liberal MP Mohammad Abu Hamed at the Egyptian State Security prosecutors, accusing him of attempting to overthrow Egypt’s elected president.

Abdel-Rahman further accused Abu-Hamed of receiving foreign funding with the aim of inciting Egyptian Coptic-Christians to protest against the legitimate government.
The complaint states that, during a program recently aired on a religious television channel, a caller – who claimed to be an activist named Mohamed Othman – said he had information regarding Abu-Hamed and how he had received foreign funding to incite sectarian strife in Egypt.

The caller said that Abu-Hamed had received the funding during a recent visit to Lebanon, where he met with Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea.

 

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Spiralling Out of Control

The view of destruction in Bab el-Tabbaneh, during a tour in the city after the ceasefire. (Photo: Adel Karoum)
 
Published Tuesday, August 28, 2012
 
Listening to morning news broadcasts has become a must. Never mind if you end up cursing the channel, the presenter, or the news itself. But you have to listen to two or more channels in order to check that the urgent item you’ve just heard on one of them isn’t false or inaccurate.

The media are unconcerned about accuracy in such cases, as they give themselves the right to broadcast something different a few seconds or minutes later. They do not bother to clarify or seek clarification, or wait a little while, as that would allow a rival outlet to take advantage and break the news first.
The people in charge of these killer channels do not pause to put themselves in the place of the viewer when they read an urgent news ticker declaring: “A gunman belonging to sect A opened fire on a person named B who belongs to sect C. There are unconfirmed reports (note the “unconfirmed”) that he died from his wounds.”

The broadcaster wants more news to follow up with. But the brother, husband or son of the person whose death was reported, though perhaps not confirmed, does not need confirmation to feel provoked and react. The usual result is that something even worse happens. A relative of the person whose unconfirmed killing was reported kills someone else in revenge. The same channel then reports the second crime as confirmed news, and boasts of having foreseen it by broadcasting the first item – which it has no qualms about repeating later, with the added clarification: “we have confirmed that the person who was fired on is still alive.”

What further confirmation are the Lebanese waiting for that they are heading down the path towards civil war?

The same habits and practices have reappeared. They avoid using certain roads. There are places there’s no need to visit or discover. A person’s full identity must be confirmed before they are given the simplest job to do. Plans are put on hold pending some stability. People only want to live where they are afforded social safety by virtue of area of origin, sect, denomination, or clan.

 Yesterday, people in Tripoli were busy following the news of the respite they were given by the mad, out-of-control gunmen. But all they could keep busy with was preparing for the next round of violence, which they know is coming. They do whatever they can get done before hurrying back to where they think they’ll be safe from the insane hail of bullets. Meanwhile no politician, security chief, diplomat, official or ordinary person dares predict more than a couple of hours ahead. For the rules of anarchy are in play, under which decisions to initiate bloodletting are fully decentralized.

Any intelligence agency with even meagre resources and capabilities could set the entire country ablaze. It can rely on the support and free publicity provided by the killer channels and on hordes of people with inflamed passions against the “other” who must be overcome at all costs.

It is enough for the neighborhood bully to be angered by something he saw on TV or some news he did not like from Syria for him to declare war. He will vent his spleen, in solidarity with his side in Syria, by targeting the home of the “other,” even if they have been neighbors for decades. Can anyone explain to us how families are informed they should leave their places of residence because they are of the wrong sect or confession for the neighborhood’s other residents? What if these families decide not to heed these warnings? Can anyone assure them that they’ll remain safe? Or will they have to recruit their own military wings in the belief that they can be protected from the spreading madness?

Amidst all this, meetings, gatherings and contacts continue to be held aimed to search for sustainable solutions. But they invariably end up with each side blaming the others for what is going on, so tensions are kept on the boil. A quarrel over a parking space is enough to trigger an explosion. Then the analysts working for the world’s intelligence agencies, who abound in the Beirut press, can continue telling us about the great conspiracy and the foreigner’s bid to foist his crisis on Lebanon, as though Lebanese are completely innocent.

All these are signs of large-scale civil war. The Lebanese may try to imagine a different kind of war, which might not resemble what we experienced in the past. It will still have one feature in common with the old one: Gratuitous Death.

Ibrahim al-Amin is editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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The Western Onslaught Against International Law

 
Tuesday, 28 August 2012 21:50
 
altby Paul Craig Roberts August 28, 2012 Institute for Political Economy
 
A new film, “Compliance,” examines “the human desire to follow and obey authority.” Liberal institutions, such as the media, universities, federal courts, and human rights organizations, which have traditionally functioned as checks on the blind obedience to authority, have in our day gone over to power’s side. The subversion of these institutions has transformed them from checks on power into servants of power. The result is the transformation of culture from the rule of law to unaccountable authority resting on power maintained by propaganda.
 
Propaganda is important in the inculcation of trust in authority. The Pussy Riot case shows the power of Washington’s propaganda even inside Russia itself and reveals that Washington’s propaganda has suborned important human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Chatham House, and Amnesty International.
 
Pussy Riot is described in the western media as a punk rock group, but seems in fact to be a group known as Voina (War) that performs lewd or scandalous unannounced public performances such as the one in the Russian cathedral, a sexual orgy in a museum, and events such as this and also this.
Three of the cathedral performers were apprehended, indicted, tried, convicted of breaking a statutory law, and given two-year prison sentences. The Voice of Russia recently broadcast a discussion of the case from its London studio. Representatives from Human Rights Watch and Chatham House argued that the case was really a free speech case and that the women were political prisoners for criticizing Russian President Putin.
 
This claim was disingenuous. In the blasphemous performance in the Russian cathedral, Putin was not mentioned. The references to Putin were added to the video posted on the Internet after the event in order to turn a crime into a political protest.
 
The human rights representatives also argued that the women’s conviction could only happen in Putin’s Russia. However, the program host pointed out that in fact most European countries have similar laws as Russia’s and that a number of European offenders have been arrested and punished even more severely. Indeed, I recently read a news report from Germany that a copycat group of women had staged a similar protest in support of Pussy Riot and had been arrested. An analysis of these issues is available here.
 
The human rights representatives seemed to believe that Putin had failed the democratic test by failing to stop the prosecution. But a country either has the rule of law or doesn’t have the rule of law. If Putin overrides the law, it means Putin is the law.
 
Whether Washington had a hand in the Pussy Riot event via the Russian protest groups it funds, Hitlery Clinton was quick to make propaganda. Free expression was threatened in Russia, she said.
Washington used the Pussy Riot case to pay Putin back for opposing Washington’s destruction of Syria. The overlooked legal issue is Washington’s interference in internal Russian affairs. The close alignment of human rights organizations with Washington’s propaganda hurts the credibility of human rights advocacy. If human rights groups are seen as auxiliaries of Washington’s propaganda, their moral authority evaporates.
 
The prevalence of the English language, due to the British domination of the world in the 18th and 19th centuries and American domination in the 20th and first decade of the 21st century, makes it easy for Washington to control the explanations. Other languages simply do not have the reach to compete.
Washington also has the advantage of having worn the White Hat in the Cold War. The peoples who were constituent parts of the Soviet empire and even many Russians themselves still see Washington as the wearer of the White Hat. Washington has used this advantage to finance “color revolutions” that have moved countries from the Russian sphere of influence into Washington’s sphere of influence.
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Tony Cartalucci concludes that “Amnesty International is US State Department Propaganda.” Cartalucci notes that Amnesty’s executive director is former State Department official Suzanne Nossel, who conflates “human rights advocacy” with US global hegemony.
 
Amnesty does seem like an amplifier for Washington’s propaganda. Amnesty’s latest email to members (August 27) is: “As if the recent trial and sentencing of three members of Pussy Riot wasn’t shameful enough, now Russian police are hunting down others in the band. Make no mistake about it: Russian authorities are relentless. Just how far are the Russian authorities willing to go to silence voices of dissent? Tell the Russian government to stop hunting Pussy Riot!”
 
Amnesty International’s August 23 email to its members, “Wake Up World,” is completely one-sided and puts all blame for violence on the Syrian government, not on al Qaeda and other outside groups that Washington has armed and unleashed on the Syrian people. Amnesty is only concerned with getting visual images damning to the Syrian government before the public: “We are working to get this damning footage into the hands of journalists around the world. Support our work and help ensure that our first-hand video is seen by influential members of the media.”
 
At least Pussy Riot got a trial. That’s more than US Marine, Brandon Raub, a veteran of two tours of combat duty, got. Raub posted on Facebook his opinion that he had been misused by Washington in behalf of an illegal agenda. Local police, FBI, and Secret Service descended upon his home, dragged him out, and on the authority of a social worker, committed him to a mental hospital for observation.
I did not see any protests from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, or Chatham House. Instead, a Virginia circuit court judge, W. Allan Sharrett, demanded Raub’s immediate release, stating that there was no reason to detain and commit Raub except to punish him for exercising his free speech right.
 
Americans are increasingly punished for exercising free speech rights. A number of videos of police violence against the occupy movement are available on youtube. They show the goon thug gestapo cops beating women, pepper spraying protestors sitting with their heads bowed, truncheons flashing as American heads are broken and protestors beat senseless are dragged off in handcuffs for peacefully exercising a constitutionally protected right.
 
There has been more protest over Pussy Riot than over the illegal detention and torture of Bradley Manning or the UK government’s threat to invade the Embassy of Ecuador and to drag out WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange.
 
When a Chinese dissident sought asylum in the US embassy in China, the Chinese government bowed to international law and permitted the dissident’s safe passage to the US. But “freedom and democracy” Great Britain refuses free passage to Assange who has been granted asylum, and there is no protest from Clinton at the State Department.
 
In “China’s Rise, America’s Fall,” Ron Unz makes a compelling argument that the Chinese government is more respectful of the rule of law and more responsive to the people it governs than is Washington. Today it is Russia and China, not the UK and Europe, that challenge Washington’s claim that the US government is above international law and has the right to overthrow governments of which it disapproves.
 
The lawlessness that now characterizes the US and UK governments is a large threat to humanity’s finest achievement–the rule of law–for which the British fought from the time of Alfred the Great in the ninth century to the Glorious Revolution of the 17th century.
 
Where are the protests over the Anglo-American destruction of the rule of law?
 
Why Aren’t Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Chatham House on the case?
 

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No Right to Exist: the Corrie Verdict and the Jewish State’s Belligerence


By Richard Edmondson

Will President Obama summon his courage and utter a timid peep of protest at the Israeli court’s ruling in the Rachel Corrie case? As I write this it has been about 13 hours since the verdict was announced, and so far we’ve heard nothing. And my guess is we won’t.

In case you haven’t heard, the Haifa District Court has come to the conclusion that the Israeli military is not in any way liable for the death of 23-year-old Rachel, who was crushed beneath a Caterpillar bulldozer driven by an Israeli soldier on March 16, 2003.

Further, while allowing that her death was “regrettable,” Judge Oded Gershon asserted his view that Rachel, and Rachel alone, is to blame for what happened.

“The accident was caused by the deceased,” he said.

We all know, of course, that the only reason the case got the attention it did is because Rachel was an American. Palestinians are killed virtually every day and the media barely yawn. But the verdict in this case highlights Israeli arrogance and impunity in perhaps new ways.

It was not of course as if finding in the Corries’ favor would have cost the state of Israel any money. The suit had sought a total of $1 in damages plus legal costs. So no. It was more an affirmation of Israel’s authority to steal as much land and demolish as many homes as it likes, along with the belief that no one has the right to challenge them on this.

“I reject the suit,” Gershon said. “There is no justification the state pay any damages.”

Not even one dollar.

Interestingly, just a day before the verdict came in, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz disclosed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had sought to browbeat UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon into cancelling his trip to the Non-aligned Movement conference in Tehran. Reportedly the Israeli leader’s “public appeal to Ban—delivered in what staffers viewed as a condescending tone—backfired, fortifying Ban’s resolve to go.”

The story goes on to report that Netanyahu, instead of exercising discretion about his phone call with Ban, issued a press release detailing everything he had said to the UN official. The prime minister then initiated “a social media drive, calling on Web surfers to send e-mails to the UN secretary-gernal asking him not to fly to Tehran,” the story says.

At the same time, a series of Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the World Jewish Congress issued press statements harshly criticizing Ban’s plan to travel to the conference in Iran. Ban’s associates were confinced that the attacks by Jewish groups had also been directed by the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.
So what does this have to do with the Corrie verdict? Probably nothing, other than it illustrates the arrogance constantly on display and emanating from the state of Israel. If you haven’t read my article Rachel Corrie and Daniel Pearl—a curious comparison, you might consider doing so. It’s an article I wrote over a year ago comparing the two cases—that of the Palestine solidarity activist and the Wall Street Journal reporter—both of whom died within 14 months of each other. In the Pearl case, justice was swift in coming. The killers were arrested less than two months after the reporter was killed. They were quickly brought to trial and found guilty, with one of them being sentenced to death. The court case was over less than six months after the crime was committed.

The Rachel Corrie case obviously did not go quite the same way. Criminal charges were never filed against the soldier operating the bulldozer, leaving the family with no other recourse than a civil suit as a means of holding the government of Israel accountable. The Corries filed their suit in 2005. It took seven years to hear the verdict we finally heard today. Seven years—just in order for a judge to say, “The accident was caused by the deceased.”

In the Jewish-dominated world we live in, justice is available to Gentiles only when it doesn’t come at the expense of a Jew. This is certainly the case in the “Jewish state,” and it is becoming increasingly so in America. As I’ve said before, apartheid will end up being Israel’s chief export to the rest of the world. This is why the struggle for justice for Palestine is so vital. It may sound ironic, but this isn’t just for the sake of the Palestinians anymore; it is for all of humanity. The creation of a Palestinian state—not just in the West Bank and Gaza, but all of Palestine—is the only way forward at this point. The Jewish state’s belligerence has repulsed people around the planet. Continuing to tolerate its disregard for international law will lead to disaster.

With the Rachel Corrie verdict the candle flame of its “legitimacy” has finally burned out; Israel has no right to exist.

In the video below, Rachel’s mother responds to the verdict:

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Israeli Army Shows Off Its Inner Strength Against Defenseless Palestinian Kids

  
Monday, 27 August 2012 23:35
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Israeli vets confess to ‘no mercy’ abuse of Palestinian ‘terrorist’ kids
 
by Russia Today August 27, 2012
 
Israeli veterans have spoken out, describing a degrading culture of abuse and harassment of Palestinian children in the West Bank and Gaza. A report containing 30 veterans’ testimonies details numerous cases of violence committed by Israeli soldiers.
 
The report was released to world media on Saturday by Breaking the Silence, an organization made up of Israeli army veterans formed in 2004. They compiled more than 850 accounts from current and former Israeli soldiers describing abuses they committed or witnessed.
 
The investigation seeks to serve as “a witness to the ongoing decline of the military system into increasing immorality.”
 
“The words of the soldiers included here constitute an urgent call to Israeli society and its leaders: We must foster a serious discourse regarding the price of military rule of the Occupied Territories,” said the report.
 
A number of reports pertain to the detention and abuse of minors who pelt Israeli soldiers with stones and the imposition of Israeli control in occupied areas.
 
A first sergeant in an armored corps unit described his job as “population control,” in a testimony entitled “What is that job, really?” His unit would enter Palestinian villages on a daily basis to “make their presence felt” and to show the local residents that the area did not belong to them.
 
“A patrol goes in, or two patrols, two Hummers secured by a jeep, and raise hell inside the villages. A whole company may be sent in on foot in two lines like a military parade in the streets, provoking riots, provoking children,” said the first sergeant.
 
He said that his commander’s aim was to “grind the population down” so that they would not even think of throwing stones at their occupiers.
 
 
‘Whoever is slow to run gets beaten up’
 
One testimony describes in detail a camouflaged ambush on Palestinian children in Qalandiya in the West Bank following a riot. The platoon corned the children and beat them with wooden clubs as they tried to escape.
 
“People were made to fall to the ground, and then the soldiers with the clubs would go over to them and beat them. A slow runner was beaten, that was the rule,” said a first sergeant in the Engineering Corps.
 
According to the sergeant such ambushes were carried out about four or five times sometimes on the same children. The aim of the exercise, the sergeant said, was to discourage the children from throwing stones at the Israeli soldiers, but he did not believe it had any effect.
 
 
­
‘Not considered kids’
 
The report documents numerous cases of children under the age of 16 being taken into custody, blindfolded and deprived of food and water.
 
A first sergeant from a Paratroopers Brigade who regularly took children of 12-14 years of age into custody for attempting to cross the border into Israel said they were taught to treat the children not as small children, but as assisting terrorists.
 
“The intelligence officer saw two soldiers beating one of the detainees. I think they were about 16 years old, if I remember correctly,” he said.
 
 
­
‘We’d lost all sense of mercy’
 
Another veteran described how his troop would trash shops and buildings because they were bored, purposely triggering riots.
 
He related an incident where Israeli soldiers waiting for civilians outside a mosque began to fire rubber rounds in order to spark a riot. He said that if Arab children threw stones at them they would use them as human shields.
 
“You know how badly beaten they get? You catch him, push the gun against his body, he can’t make a move, he’s totally petrified. He only goes: “No, no, army.” You can tell he’s petrified.”
 
 
­
Report slanders IDF
 
In response to the report the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said that Breaking the Silence had revealed its true intentions “to generate negative publicity regarding the IDF and its soldiers, rather than facilitating a proper investigation.”
 
“As a matter of policy, the organization chooses not to provide the IDF and other relevant bodies with the critical material necessary for investigation. By compiling testimonies over long periods of time and refusing to provide additional detail, [Breaking the Silence] proves its true intentions – rather than facilitating proper investigation, the organization seeks to generate negative publicity regarding the IDF and its soldiers.” the IDF told The Weekend Australian.
 
Breaking Silence member Yehuda Shaul hit back at the IDF, saying “over 70 of our testifiers have come out publicly with their names and identities revealed, and I’m one of them.”
 
“If the IDF was interested in investigating our claims, we probably would have already been summoned to interrogations,” concluded Shaul.

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Haifa Court: Zionist Army Not at Fault for Corrie’s Death


Local Editor

Rachel Corrie, Martyr of HumanityHaifa court has ruled that the Zionist authorities were not at fault for the death of US activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed in the Gaza Strip by a Zionist army bulldozer in 2003.

Corrie’s family had brought a civil claim for negligence against the Zionist ministry of defense.

The judge said the 23-year-old’s death was a “regrettable accident”.

“I reached the conclusion that there was no negligence on the part of the bulldozer driver,” said Judge Oded Gershon, reading out his verdict at Haifa District Court in northern Occupied Territories.

He said the entity was not responsible for any “damages caused” as they had occurred during “war-time actions”.

Related articles:

Rachel Corrie, Truth is no More Invisible

Rachel Corrie, Martyr of HumanityThe Corries had accused the Zionist entity of intentionally and unlawfully killing their daughter, and failing to conduct a full and credible investigation.
Corrie was in the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip as part of a group of protesters from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).

They were acting as human shields to try to stop the Zionist army demolishing Palestinian homes and clearing land around Rafah.

A Zionist army investigation in 2003 concluded its forces were not to blame for Corrie’s death.

The Zionist army argued the area was being used by militants and that the protesters should not have been in a closed military zone.

The army’s investigation found that Corrie was not visible and that she was killed by debris falling on her. But Corrie’s supporters say it is impossible that the bulldozer driver did not see her.

Pictures taken on the day Corrie died show her in an orange high-visibility jacket carrying a megaphone and blocking the path of a Zionist military bulldozer.

A collection of Corrie’s writings was turned into a play – My Name Is Rachel Corrie – which has toured all over the world, including in the Zionist entity and the Palestinian territories.

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Moallem: US Major Player in Syria Crisis, Other Countries Instruments

Local Editor
 
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem stressed that the United States is the major player in the ongoing crisis in the country, adding that the other countries are instruments.
walid moallem
“We believe that the US is the major player against Syria and the rest are its instruments,” al-Moallem told The Independent.

The daily quoted Moallem as saying that America was behind Syria’s violence.

“When the Americans say, ‘We are supplying the opposition with sophisticated instruments of telecommunications’, isn’t this part of a military effort, when they supply the opposition with $25m – and much more from the Gulf and Saudi Arabia?”

Addressing the US, the Syrian FM said: ‘You must read well what you did in Afghanistan and Somalia. I don’t understand your slogan of fighting international terrorism when you are supporting this terrorism in Syria’.”

“I tell the Europeans: ‘I don’t understand your slogan about the welfare of the Syrian people when you are supporting 17 resolutions against the welfare of the Syrian people,” Moallem addressed the European states.

As he stressed that about 60 percent of the violence going on in the country was from abroad, al-Moallem said: “Before I am a minister, I am a Syrian citizen, and I feel sad at seeing what’s happening in Syria, compared with two years ago.”

“There are many Syrians like me – eager to see Syria return to the old days when we were proud of our security,” he added.

The Independent reporter told the Syrian FM that the Emir of Qatar was enraged last year at what he called President Bashar al-Assad’s “lies”, claiming that the Syrian President had reneged on a deal to allow Muslim Brotherhood members to return home.

On this issue, Moallem said: “If you met the same Emir two years ago, he was praising Assad, and considered him a dear friend. They used to have family relations, spending family holidays in Damascus and sometimes in Doha.

There is an important question: what happened?

I met the Emir in Doha in, I think, November 2011, when the Arab League started their initiative [resulting in the sending of League observers to Syria] and we reached agreement … The Emir told me: ‘If you agree to this initiative, I will change the attitude of Al Jazeera and I will tell [Sheikh] Qaradawi [a popular prelate with a regular slot on the television chain] to support Syria and reconciliation, and I have put down some billions of dollars to rebuild Syria…’ .”

“At the same time, when I was waiting to enter a meeting, there was the head of the Tunisian party Ennahda and the Emir issued orders to pay Ennahda $150m to help his party in the elections. Anyway, this was their business. But I asked the Emir:

QatarLybia2‘You were having very close relations with Muammar Gaddafi and you were the only leader in his palace when Gaddafi hosted you during the summit – so why are you sending your aircraft to attack Libya and be part of Nato?’

The Emir said simply: ‘Because we don’t want to lose our momentum in Tunis and Egypt – and Gaddafi was responsible for dividing Sudan’,” Moallem added.

On the relation between Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, the Syrian FM said:

“We were told by some Western envoy at the beginning of this crisis that relations between Syria and Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, Syria and Hamas are the major elements behind this crisis. If we settle this issue, they [the Americans] will help end the crisis. But no one told us why it is forbidden for Syria to have relations with Iran when most if not all the Gulf countries have very important relations with Iran.”

When asked about chemical weapons, Moallem said if Syria had such weapons, they would never be used against its own people.

“We are fighting armed groups inside Aleppo, in the Damascus suburbs, before that in Homs and Idlib and this means fighting within Syrian cities – and our responsibility is to protect our people,” he said.

Source: Newspapers
28-08-2012 – 11:02 Last updated 28-08-2012 – 11:02


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Historic Tehran Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit

Iran has multiple objectives in mind. It seeks support for its lawful nuclear program, peace, and mutually beneficial solidarity.

by Stephen Lendman<font size=”3″ face=”Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”><img class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-214334″ title=”nam-stephen-vnn” src=”http://www.veteransnewsnow.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/nam-stephen-vnn.jpg” alt=”” width=”550″ height=”300″ /></font>

My Photo After the UN, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is the most important world body. Hopefully its 16th summit will infuse it with new life.

Historic Tehran NAM SummitAs host, Iran has a historic opportunity. At the same time, it can enhance its own prestige and enlist support against hostile Washington/Israeli designs.

August 26 began six days of sessions and discussions. Proceedings began with an experts meeting.
<font face=”Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”><img class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-214333″ title=”NAM SUMMIT CONVENES IN TEHRAN” src=”http://www.veteransnewsnow.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/NAM-SUMMIT-CONVENES-IN-TEHRAN.jpg” alt=”” width=”595″ height=”414″ /></font>
During the opening session, Egypt’s permanent UN representative, Mootaz Ahmadein Khalil, ceremonially passed NAM’s presidential baton to Iran. For the next three years, Tehran will head the organization.
 
Hosting NAM is significant. Assuming leadership affords added prestige. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mihmanparast said 118 foreign delegations will attend. Russia and China are there as observer nations. So is Australia. Participants sent 27 presidents, eight prime ministers, nine vice presidents, six special envoys, up to 25 foreign ministers, other high-level ministers, and two kings.
 

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Bolivian President Evo Morales, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, North Korea’s parliamentary chairman Kim Yong-nam, Cuba’s Raul Castro, Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Tajik President Emomali Rahmonov, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisyan, Lebanese President Michel Sulaiman, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

Despite tensions between the two countries, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz (King Abdullah’s son) will attend. He’s currently acting deputy foreign minister.

Bahrain’s foreign minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa will also participate. In March 2011, Manama recalled its ambassador in protest over Tehran’s condemnation of Bahraini police state violence. Iran responded in kind by recalling its envoy.

On August 12, Bahrain returned it ambassador to Tehran. Days later, Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein amir-Abdollahian said Iran wouldn’t return its ambassador to Manama as long as crackdowns continued.

In advance of the summit, a document with 688 articles was prepared. They’ll be discussed during the two-day meeting of experts. Topics include international issues, regional crises, human rights, food and health security, as well as matters relating to economic development.

One statement will focus on Palestine. Another will be a comprehensive plan to end Washington’s war on Syria. A contact group will be established to help defuse the conflict. One-on-one and multilateral discussions will be held on how to do it.

Iran has multiple objectives in mind. It seeks support for its lawful nuclear program, peace, and mutually beneficial solidarity.

Economic issues will be stressed. Plans will be presented to revitalize NAM. Participating delegations will be urged to transform it into a more significant organization by making its “approvals” binding. Since founded in 1961, it’s only issued statements relating to world problems.

On August 26, Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi delivered the opening speech. Press TV said he “called on all member states of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to use their utmost potential and make collective efforts to establish peace and justice in the world.”

“At the current juncture, we have made our utmost efforts to promote general objectives of the Non-Aligned Movement including fostering solidarity among all member states, which is a prerequisite for an efficient movement.”
He said a “destructive mind” affects international relations. He urged solidarity and respect for national sovereignty in the face of a collective threat.
“We need to revive our movement in accordance with the current conditions in the world,” he urged. NAM participants “must seriously oppose unilateral economic sanctions which have been enacted by certain countries against non-aligned members.”
During its leadership period, he said Iran will try to strengthen NAM and increase its importance.
He added that world views top NAM officials share, show a clear mutual “determination to support and strengthen the movement and turn it into an effective tool to protect the interests of member states.”
He hopes mutual concerns will translate into effective peace offensive plans.

On August 26, the Tehran Times said Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei will deliver the opening speech of the summit of heads of state and government.

It said the summit “will mark a turning point in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran at a time when certain Western countries and the Zionist regime are making efforts to isolate Iran in the international arena.”

Mehr News said NAM participants are invited to visit Iran’s nuclear facilities. At issue is showing them they’re peaceful and non-threatening. Scheduled trips are also scheduled to industrial and scientific sites.

Mehr News also said Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will attend. Reports disagree on whether Palestine’s elected Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh will participate.

Maan News said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad invited him. On August 26, it said he accepted the invitation and will attend.

Unelected Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad objected, saying:

“This is a serious escalation by Iran against Palestinian unity and against the Palestinian Authority’s role as the guardian of the Palestinian people both in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank including Jerusalem.” 


Hamas is Palestine’s elected government.

Abbas’ presidential term expired in January 2009.

He and appointed prime minister Fayyad have no legitimacy.

Confirming Haniyeh’s attendance, Gaza spokesman Taher Al-Nunu called on all parties to respect the Palestinian people’s democratic choice. He added that Haniyeh will participate in Tehran as elected prime minister.

On August 26, a second Maan News report said Iran’s foreign minister told his PA counterpart that Haniyeh wasn’t invited.

PA foreign minister Riyad Al-Maliki said Abbas won’t attend with him and other Gaza delegates. Palestine remains a divisive issue. At the time of this writing, no further information is available.
Dominant discussion themes include solidarity, national sovereignty inviolability, economic development, and peace. The summit represents a major opportunity for Iran to enlist support. It also provides a platform against Western/Israeli imperialism.

Top officials from 118 delegations shows Washington’s attempt to isolate Iran failed. World participation is impressive.

Fidel Castro’s 1979 Havana Declaration will be stressed. He said NAM’s purpose is to ensure “the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and security of non-aligned countries (in their) struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neocolonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as as against great power and bloc politics.”
Six days of discussions will focus on these and related themes. Hopefully at summit’s end Iran will have gained prestige at the expense of Washington, Israel, and key NATO allies. Perhaps unity on how to end Syria’s conflict will also emerge.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said NAM participants oppose foreign interference. A “new proposal will be presented at the sidelines….and evaluated by members.”
He added that NAM participants “want to hear the standpoints of the Syrian people and see a comprehensive plan to settle the crisis.”

“No foreign states but the people of Syria should decide about their political future.”
Achieving broad agreement on that principle alone would make Tehran’s summit successful. Translating agreement into policy matters most.

A Final Comment


Western media attempts to ignore, downplay, or demean the NAM summit may backfire. The event’s significance may be enhanced. A Washington Post editorial called it an anti-American “festival of resistance,” a “useless recreational club,” and a “bacchanal of nonsense.”
These type comments reflect imperial arrogance, the shameful state of America’s media, and why US policies and its supporters are condemned.

Iran’s UN mission press office head Alireza Miryousefi responded, saying:

The Post editorial “unjustifiably smeared Iran and mocked the upcoming” NAM summit shamelessly. Doing so “ignore(s) the growing importance of the movement…” Most UN member states belong. Other key ones are observers.
 

“In light of its focus on multilateral cooperation, disarmament, sustainable world peace, rights of nations and horizontal relations defying hegemonic structures, the Non-Aligned Movement is a major cross-regional group in the United Nations….”
 
Participation by dozens of world leaders “promises to make significant contributions to (NAM’s) lofty objectives.”
 
Iran’s agenda is peace and mutual cooperation, he stressed. Its legitimate nuclear program threatens no one. NAM principles “always supported Iran’s inalienable nuclear (and other) rights and opposed” illegal Western/Israeli threats.
 
Washington has other ideas. So does Israel. Hopefully this year’s summit will show solidarity against them. What’s more important than world peace.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

 

His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

 

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Open Letter to Mohammed Mursi

Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi talks during an interview with Reuters at the Presidential palace in Cairo, 27 August 2012. (Photo: Reuters – Asmaa Waguih)
 
Published Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Johannesburg, 27 August 2012
Dear Mr. President:

I write you in my capacity as Acting President of The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), to express my deep disappointment and to protest the unlawful and hostile treatment I was subjected to at Cairo’s International Airport on Sunday, 16 August 2012 by the Egyptian security forces.

I had a 7-hour layover in Cairo and was going to enter the country to see Egyptian friends before boarding my connecting flight to South Africa scheduled on the same day. I was granted an entry approval at the airport. Shortly thereafter, I was called back and asked to wait. Then, my passport and travel documents were taken by the police. I was informed afterwards that I will not be allowed into the country due to “top secret reasons.”

I repeatedly asked, to no avail, about what the “top secret reasons” were, and why I was not informed of their nature even though they concerned me. I was told that it was a matter of “national security and intelligence.” I was not given the information because the security officials at the airport told me “they could not provide me with the reasons as they themselves did not have access to them.”

Upon the arrival of my Egyptian attorney, he insisted on finding out why I was considered a threat to the national security of Egypt, and how they could deny me entry after they had stamped my passport with an approval of entry.

In response, we were told that “if I insisted on not leaving voluntarily, I would be forcibly deported to Bahrain.” To further intimidate me, I was also informed that the Bahraini government had issued an arrest warrant with my name.

 I am afraid that this incident is not an isolated occurrence, but one of many to date where Bahraini human rights defenders are routinely subjected by Egyptian security forces.
In April 2012, I was stopped at Cairo’s airport by security officials who attempted to deny me entry into Egypt. I was ultimately allowed in after my lawyer and your wonderful countrymen, Egyptian activists, intervened.

During my ordeal, a police officer candidly admitted to me that last time I was eventually allowed in because according to him, there were protests going on in Egypt – which is not the case this time around.

Earlier this year, my colleague and the actual president of the Bahrain Center of Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab was denied entry and deported to Bahrain by security officials at Cairo Airport. As you may know Mr. President, Mr. Rajab is currently imprisoned in Bahrain to punish him for his role as an outspoken human rights defender.

In pre-revolution Egypt, authoritarian regimes like Bahrain’s found a diligent ally in Egyptian intelligence as they sought to hinder the movement of human rights defenders. Such regimes, and others, eagerly outsourced their harassment to former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. Back then, it was always a risk for Bahraini and Arab human rights activists to travel to Egypt because of the former regime’s commitment to fellow dictatorships.

Not long ago, Mr. President, you were personally on the receiving end of these arbitrary and unjust practices as a dissident. I respectfully ask you today, sir, as a fellow Arab: How can such blatant disregard for the law and basic human dignities continue under your watch?

As the acting president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, I write to inform you that I am gravely concerned, as a human rights defender, by the unjust and hostile treatment I was subjected to in Cairo’s airport.

Sincerely,

Maryam Abdelhadi Al-Khawaja

Acting President

Bahrain Centre for Human Rights

The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect Al-Akhbar’s editorial policy.

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Morally Bankrupt

According to some morally-bankrupt individuals:

  • Thieves are entitled to live in the property they steal and should be protected as they do so.
  • Rapists are entitled to live with those they raped and their victims must be forced to succumb and rejoice.
  • Squatters who take over homes at gunpoint are entitled to live in them because kicking them out would “create another injustice”.
  • Soldiers who steal, abuse, torture and even kill children, must have equal rights with their victims ! 

.


How many more mutilated bodies of little ones the world must see before it wakes up and put and end to the Crime Against Humanity called “Israel”?

‘Gangs of Aleppo’

‘Gangs of Aleppo’

“… One of the characteristics shared by most disintegrating states is a vast surplus of young men who have no access to jobs, money, or women. Gangs are a magnet for them. We see this in American contexts as well: in public schools, in ethnic neighborhoods, and in our prisons, most of which are controlled not by wardens but by racially defined gangs.Young men are also drawn to fighting, which, conveniently, is something gangs do. Much of what we see in states struggling for their lives such as Syria is supply-side war. Fighting spreads not because of some “cause” like democracy but because idle young men see a fight and join in. Why not? They have nothing to do, nothing to lose, and thanks to their new gang and AK-47, lots to take: money, women, and fame. The New York Timesreported from Aleppo:

‘… Residents said there were not just clashes between the government and insurgents, but also rival militias from the countryside fighting for control of individual streets. … In a central old quarter, one man said a friend had warned him not to visit because young gunmen had established a checkpoint to rob car passengers….’

Gangs fight not only the government but also each other, and their internecine wars further weaken the state. We need look no further than to our southern neighbor, Mexico, where the killing fields spread as drug gangs massacre one another and any civilians or agents of the state who get in their way. The state arose to bring order, and widening gang wars reveal the state’s impotence. In the struggle for legitimacy that lies at the core of Fourth Generation war, a state that cannot control gangs becomes an object of contempt for friend and foe alike.…”

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Timely Massacre? ‘Aim to make Russia & China change stance on Syria’

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There is no rush to do it."

no-fly-zone-is-not-coming-to-syria-in-the-near-future-3203-articles.html“… “It’s a Donilon call at the end of the day,” the official said, referring to National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, who is leading a complicated interagency policy process on the Syria crisis. 

“There’s not enthusiasm but there are differences of opinion about a no-fly zone,” the official said. “There is no rush to do it. 

The Assad regime’s lack of use of fixed-wing aircraft was cited internally as a reason not to declare at no-fly zone and that reason no longer applies, the official argued. Opponents of a no-fly zone have also argued that the Syrian internal opposition had not formally requested it. That reason is also no longer operative.
“There’s a question of whether or not our government is willing to reject the request. Or they could take it into consideration for a long time,” the official said. “There’s a recognition that some decision has to be made. We are quickly reaching a turning point due to the escalation.”………
While this would require no U.S. combat forces on the ground, it could have a strategically significant impact by reinforcing the emerging rebel safe zones in northern Syria and allowing the opposition the space they need to organize politically and establish a transitional government on Syrian soil.”…”

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The Unseen and Unpunished Violence Against Palestinians

Israeli soldiers and border policemen detain a Palestinian protester during a rally marking the “Nakba” in the West Bank village of Wallaje, near Bethlehem. (Photo: Reuters – Ammar Awad)
 
Published Monday, August 27, 2012
 
Over the course of the last four decades, Western media, in both its corporate and state forms, have sculpted an image of the Arab and Muslim worlds largely founded on xenophobic, indeed Orientalist, notions. As a consequence of this media campaign, few can claim to have experienced such an extensive, grueling, and ongoing period of suffering as the Palestinians.

Millions of exiled refugees continue to toil in wretched camps throughout the Arab world; farmers and herders continue to have their land stolen every day by both military forces and state-sponsored settlers in the West Bank; and the Gaza Strip has been turned into an open-air prison, subjected to regular military raids and saturation bombing campaigns that often last weeks at a time.

But in the news these people are almost unconditionally portrayed as the sole aggressors, as ragtag gangs of terrorists who prefer death to life (a bizarrely inaccurate tagline for people who have survived so much).

For years, the corporate media establishment has carefully cultivated an image of Israel as an embattled society engaged in a life or death struggle to preserve its democratic character in the face of an ever-present band of keffiyeh-wearing rock throwers, plane-hijackers, and suicide bombers. But when terrorism is directed against Palestinians, rarely is it allotted the same amount of publicity as a homemade rocket fired from the Gaza Strip.

In this way, the Israeli government has been able to successfully outsource much of its violence to individual actors, who are rarely prosecuted and do not face the same consequences as their Palestinian counterparts.

Last week, a throng of over a dozen Jewish youth attacked three Palestinian teenagers in Jerusalem’s Zion Square. As the angry rabble approached, they chanted “Death to Arabs!” and beat one of the Palestinians unconscious. Medics arrived and resuscitated the victim, who had no pulse and was not breathing. The attackers ran away and shouted back to the crowd of onlookers, “A Jew is a soul, and an Arab is a son of a bitch.”

Eight suspects have been arrested thus far. One of the young men told police officers that the victim, presently in critical condition in Ein Karen Hospital in Jerusalem, should die because “he is an Arab. I would have stabbed him if I could. A Jew can’t move around Damascus Gate without being stabbed. If I manage to grab hold of him, I’ll punch him; he cursed my mother, and he should die.”

This suspect, whose identity is being withheld because he is a minor, is being represented by Honenu legal aid organization, whose past clients have included numerous Jewish Israelis and settlers accused of right-wing terrorism against Palestinian civilians. According to the website, the organization’s mission is to assist defendants “who find themselves in legal entanglements due to defending themselves against Arab aggression.”

The defendant’s lawyer claimed that the attack was simply an act of “bullying.” Many media outlets have followed suit, if not outright denying the xenophobic motivations behind the lynching, absurdly portraying it as an entirely isolated act of violence and drawing no connections to the serious uptick in vigilante violence that is sweeping across Israel.

This emerging trend is not without historical parallel. In 1994, one of the most notorious acts of right-wing terrorism took place in Hebron, when Baruch Goldstein, a New York-born Israeli from the neighboring Kiryat Arba settlement, robed himself in military insignia and entered the al-Ibrahimi Mosque. The mosque is home to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, an ancient relic holy to Christians, Muslims and Jews. During the middle of Friday prayers, Goldstein opened fire on the worshipers, killing 29 and injuring 125. He fired until he ran out of ammunition, then was beaten to death by the surviving worshipers.

Since 1994, an estimated 10,000 militant right-wing Israelis have made “pilgrimages” to Goldstein’s gravesite to celebrate the anniversary of the massacre.

In March, some 300 notoriously racist soccer fans, supporters of Beitar Jerusalem, rushed the Malha Mall and attacked the Arab cleaning staff. According to shopkeepers, the attackers begged for sticks and knives to use against the defenseless women.

When the police were asked why no one was arrested, the response was simple: no formal complaints had been filed.
Only after immense media pressure was an investigation launched.

When Palestinians violate martial law in the West Bank, their punishment can range anywhere from administrative detention to exile. Despite the sharp rise in settler violence, this colonial establishment is generally treated with legal immunity.

In one instance in May, a security guard from a West Bank settlement shot a Palestinian citizen without cause. A week later, settlers attacked Urif, a small Palestinian village, and set fire to olive groves, one of the sole sources of the village’s income. When several Palestinian men came to protect their land, the settlers opened fire on them. One man was shot, tied up, and beaten severely by the band of ideology-intoxicated settlers. In neither case was a single arrest made.

And mere hours after last week’s lynching in Jerusalem, a taxicab carrying a family of Palestinians from the al-Aruba refugee camp was struck by a firebomb tossed by a settler from the Bet Ayin settlement.

Two children received first degree burns, and their parents received second and third degree burns. Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu promised that the perpetrator would be brought to justice. Most Palestinians are understandably doubtful.

By no means does this exhaust the list of gross violations against Palestinian rights. Every day, new reports emerge of settlers, living completely outside the borders of the legal system, trying to run over Palestinian children with their cars. Rabbles of messianic yeshiva students used to – perhaps still do – prowl the streets of East Jerusalem to prevent romantic encounters between Jewish women and Arab men. And the villagers of Susiya, a small village nestled in the rugged terrain of the South Hebron Hills, have on a regular basis seen their water wells poisoned, their sheep slaughtered, and their homes destroyed.

Of course, on both sides of this conflict there are those who, despite their shallow attempts to paint themselves as patriots, employ the outlaw tactics of brute thugs. Yet, the lynching that took place last week in Jerusalem was by no means an isolated event: it is the natural component of a pattern of vigilante violence that the media has chosen to neglect.

“Today my body was a TV’d massacre, made to fit into sound bites and word limits,” poet Rafeef Ziadah said of journalistic bias against Palestinians. Whether by design or not, by presenting an asymmetrical understanding of violence in Israel and Palestine, corporate media outlets submissively place themselves at the service of both the Israeli government and the most chauvinistic elements of right-wing Israeli society.

Patrick O. Strickland is a freelance journalist and a weekly Israel-Palestine correspondent for BikyaMasr. His work has been published by Palestine Chronicle, Counterpunch, Socialistworker.org, and the Alternative Information Center.

The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect Al-Akhbar’s editorial policy.


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Gaza: Mursi Disappoints

“the situation of the crossing under Hosni Mubarak was better. The situation today is somewhat chaotic.” Iki is surprised by “Hamas’ silence regarding this decision.”

“Hamas does not want a tense relationship with Egypt’s rulers, the MB. It knows that if it loses its relationship with the MB, it will lose an ally and its situation would get worse.” Political analyst, Ibrahim Abrash, told Al-Akhbar

 
Khalid Hamayreh who failed in turning deliberation into a sectarian mouth outlet, he returned to his PIC to spread is sectarian poison.
 
In his latest “Final ANAL-ysis” he called

“the Islamic movements should see to it that alternative and effective media outlets be founded in order to help shape an Islamic public opinion which can be mobilized when necessary. This is a paramount matter since the existing public-sector media in countries such as Egypt and Jordan is decidedly anti-Islamist if not anti-Islamic.”


He urged Islamic movements

“to create as many new satellite TV stations as possible along with a large number of attractive and versatile internet sites in various languages in order to communicate the Islamic message and accurate information to the largest possible audience.”

 
The Big Filthy mouth who ignored the inhuman siege on Gaza, the destruction of Gaza life lines ended his call saying:  

This is not to say, of course, that the Islamic movements should scale down its devotion to the Palestinian cause and confrontation with Zionism and Israel. 

In the final analysis, the Islamic movement’s commitment to the Palestinian cause is the single most important factor contributing to Islamists’ popularity among the masses.

Thus, revealing that his main concern is not the Palestinian cause, but the Isalamists popularity among the masses.
Alex.

Gaza: Mursi Disappoints

Palestinian men transport bags of cement through tunnels used for smuggling goods, including food, fuel and building materials, along the Gaza-Egypt border in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on 23 August 2012. (Photo: AFP – Mohammed Abed)
 
Published Sunday, August 26, 2012
 
When Mursi won the presidency in Egypt, Gazans were ecstatic and publicly celebrated their expectations of better times to come. Today, their disappointment is just as immense as their previous elation.
Palestinians were feeling frustrated with the Egyptian decision to only open the Rafah border crossing south of the Gaza Strip for three days a week. They had hoped that their situation would improve dramatically after Mohammed Mursi’s victory in the presidential election. After all, Mursi is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), Hamas’ ally.
 
Greetings in Egypt (MB Days VS Mubarak Days)

Al-Akhbar visited Gaza to speak to the residents about their situation. Amani Shnino said:

“I think it’s unfair to only allow three days for travel. The whole of Gaza is a humanitarian crisis and we were deceived by Mursi.”

Walid Iki (24 years old) expressed his wish that “the Rafah crossing would be open for longer, allowing any Gazan citizen to travel freely.” He pointed out that “the situation of the crossing under Hosni Mubarak was better. The situation today is somewhat chaotic.” Iki is surprised by “Hamas’ silence regarding this decision.”
After the Sinai incident in which 16 Egyptian soldiers were killed on August 6, the Egyptian authorities closed down the Rafah crossing. The Hamas government announced it would close the tunnels along Gaza’s southern borders, stopping citizens from leaving the country and stopping the entry of food items and fuel into Gaza.
As a result, people panicked and flocked to gas stations to store up on fuel and queues of cars were seen lining up. Closing the tunnels led to a gas shortage and a price hike and to scarcity in some items in Gaza’s markets.
Gazans were deeply disappointed after all their elation at Mursi’s victory.
The health sector was hit the worst by the repercussions of the crossing’s continued closing. Scores of patients have been unable to travel for operations and treatment outside Gaza.
The spokesperson of the Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip Hamas government, Ashraf al-Qudra, said that

“each day the crossing is closed, the waiting lists of patients supposed to travel to Egypt increases by 40 patients. This requires the immediate opening of the crossing for a whole week so that patients can travel for treatment.”

He added: “Any delay in these cases exacerbates their medical conditions.” Qudra asked Egypt to “open the crossing all week long.”
Hamas has denied any relation to the incident in Sinai, accusing Israel of standing behind the attack. Its security agencies declared their willingness to cooperate fully with the Egyptian leadership to reveal the perpetrators and asked for the reopening of the crossing and the tunnels.
The deputy prime minister and foreign minister in the Gaza government, Muhammad Awad, told Al-Akhbar:

“We are hoping that the Egyptian decision will not be permanent or long-term. We need the Rafah crossing to be open at all times and to implement the agreement that was signed a month ago to open the crossing. Otherwise the Gaza Strip will face a real crisis and a health disaster.”

Political analyst, Ibrahim Abrash, told Al-Akhbar:

This Egyptian measure under the Mursi presidency is no different from previous measures under Hosni Mubarak. Egyptian national security takes priority regardless of the president or the party in charge. Egyptians give priority to their interests and their national security over any other ideological considerations. It appears that Egypt took this decision while awaiting the results of the Rafah investigations fearing that some Palestinians were involved in the Sinai incident.”

When asked about Hamas’ silence concerning this decision, Abrash said, “Hamas does not want a tense relationship with Egypt’s rulers, the MB. It knows that if it loses its relationship with the MB, it will lose an ally and its situation would get worse.”
 
After all, Hamas is an offshoot of the MB.” Abrash pointed out that Hamas received assurances that opening the crossing is connected to closing the Rafah investigations.
In the meantime, the office of the prime minister of the Hamas government, Ismail Haniya, announced that the prime minister ended consultations regarding a cabinet reshuffle in his government, though no details were released. A statement said that: “Haniya ended his consultations after an adequate period of time,” and he is expected to present the new cabinet before the parliament soon for a vote of confidence.
Haniya’s expected decision is considered a new attempt at Palestinian reconciliation taking place with Egyptian sponsorship. The cabinet reshuffle comes as a response to a similar reshuffle in Salam Fayad’s government in the West Bank.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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Israeli soldiers break silence on abuse towards Palestinian children


Testimonies by 30 former Israeli soldiers and commanders portrayed a culture of violence and abuse in the Israeli Defence Forces towards Palestinian children, according to a report released yesterday to international media and detailed in a major article in this weekend’s Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s biggest-selling newspaper.

Debate about the treatment of Palestinian children has grown since 60 of Israel’s leading child experts, academics and psychologists wrote to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu protesting against “offensive arrests and investigations that ignore the law.”

The new report is by Breaking the Silence, an organisation of former Israeli soldiers who came together in 2004 and have now collected more than 850 testimonies from former and current Israeli soldiers and commanders about abuses they committed or witnessed.

In response to the report, the IDF told The Weekend Australian: “Breaking the Silence has been asked numerous times to reveal the testimonies and claims they collect regarding IDF activity prior to publication in order to check and verify their claims.

“As a matter of policy, the organisation chooses not to provide the IDF and other relevant bodies with the critical material necessary for investigation. By compiling testimonies over long periods of time and refusing to provide additional detail, (Breaking the Silence) proves its true intentions – rather than facilitating proper investigation, the organisation seeks to generate negative publicity regarding the IDF and its soldiers.”

In response, Yehuda Shaul from Breaking the Silence said: “Over 70 of our testifiers have come out publicly with their names and identities revealed, and I’m one of them. If the IDF was interested in investigating our claims, we probably would have already been summoned to interrogations.”

The report coincided with an escalation of violence against Palestinians. Israeli police described as “a lynching” an incident in Jerusalem this week in which dozens of people watched a mob of Jewish teenagers bash a 17-year-old Palestinian unconscious.

The Israeli media said the group had been roaming the city chanting “Death to Arabs” until they came across the teenager.

“They were looking to hurt an Arab,” the police said. Separately, six Palestinians, including a five-year-old boy, were burned but not killed when a group, believed to be Jewish settlers, threw explosives at their bus.

The US State Department now defines attacks by Jewish settlers as terrorism.

Also this week, Israeli soldiers were caught on video bashing Palestinian journalists clearly marked as “press”. The Foreign Press Association wrote to the IDF: “The soldiers shown attacking our colleagues are acting like a bunch of thugs.”

The IDF is investigating.

The new report is by soldiers who served in and around the West Bank and Gaza Strip from 2005 to last year.

Despite a High Court ruling against using children as “human shields”, former soldiers said this practice continues.

The report said the testimonies “serve as witness to the ongoing slide of the military system toward increasing immorality.”

One former soldier said his commander beat a Palestinian boy “to a pulp” – so hard he broke his stick. “That kid was such a mess, broken apart,” he said.

He said the commander, in front of the boy’s parents, then put a gun-barrel in the boy’s mouth saying: “Anyone gets close, I kill him. Don’t annoy me.”

Another said when soldiers were bored they would provoke a riot. “We’d go up to the windows of a mosque, smash the panes, throw in a stun grenade make a big boom, the we’d get a riot,” he said.

“At best, in the middle of prayers – that annoys them the most.”

One former soldier from the Kfir Brigade said a soldier would put children against a wall and hit them between the legs. He made them sing the Israeli national anthem “and if they didn’t sing on beat, they’d get a blow with that rod to their knee”.

A former member of the navy said every morning shots would be fired at children in Gaza “to the point that fire was directed at their legs, at kids who stood on the beach or rode a surfboat into the water.” One commander was said to have thrown a stun grenade towards a seven-year-old to make him run away.

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