Odd Developments on the Deir Ez-Zor Front

30-09-2017 | 08:24

The breaking of the three-year-long Daesh [Arabic acronym for “ISIS” / “ISIL”] siege over the eastern Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor has been followed by a series of strange developments along the frontline.

DeirEzzor

The first of these was the appearance of American Humvees and Cougars in areas occupied by Daesh militants.

Last week, the Russian Ministry of Defense released a collection of aerial images showing equipment used by US special forces operating freely among Daesh formations.

The images also showed American troops enabling the smooth advance of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) through Daesh-held territory.

“Facing no resistance from Daesh militants, the SDF units are advancing along the left shore of the Euphrates towards Deir ez-Zor,” the ministry said in a statement.

According to Moscow’s interpretation, US military personnel “feel absolutely safe” in the area controlled by terrorists, demonstrated by the fact that they chose not to deploy a “screening patrol”.

Shortly after the images were released, the battlefield witnessed another odd occurrence, involving the death of a Russian Lieutenant-General.

Death of Russian general in Syria is result of US hypocrisy – Moscow

Death of Russian general in Syria is result of US hypocrisy – Moscow

Valery Asapov, who was assisting in the liberation of Deir ez-Zor, was killed during Daesh shelling on a Syrian army command outpost.

Highlighting the peculiar nature of the attack is the sheer precision of a single projectile – most likely guided from the air – that killed the Russian.

Russian media reported that an investigation into the incident revealed that Asapov’s death was the result of “leaked information on his location to the side that carried out the attack”.

Earlier, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov made it clear where he believes the blame lies. He described the demise of the senior officer as his country’s “payment in blood for the duplicity of US policy in Syria”.

Both the images showing American troops teaming up with terrorists and Asapov’s death are further proof of Washington’s reliance on Daesh for securing an unopposed advance for its Kurdish proxies in Syria, as well as occupying the strategic and oil-rich territory in Deir ez-Zor.

The gloves come off

Forced to abandon their objective of toppling the Damascus government, the Americans and their allies have long since been focused on capturing eastern chunks of Syria and its oil-laden regions.

It is now an open secret that oil resources in both Syria’s Deir ez-Zor and Iraq’s disputed Kirkuk region have been earmarked as an essential revenue stream for emerging Kurdish statelets.

American control over the area was meant to aid in the rise of a Greater Kurdistan, which would not only separate Damascus from its allies in Iran and Iraq, but would also serve as the new regional buffer against the Resistance Axis.

Although the Syrian army’s push eastward and the breaking of the Deir ez-Zor siege created unforeseen obstacles for Washington’s agenda, the Americans have refused to admit defeat.

Instead, the world is being treated to an American military that is a lot less shy about its collaboration with terrorists and a lot more openly hostile towards Damascus and its allies.

As such, the fact that Washington has abandoned the ‘Assad must go’ mantra, should not be expected to translate into a less hostile US military effort in Syria.

On the contrary, Syria, Hezbollah, Iran and Russia should expect more attacks similar to the one that killed Valery Asapov as the race for Deir ez-Zor heats up.

Growing fears over a direct superpower clash

Earlier this month, the mainly-Kurdish SDF reportedly occupied the Tabiyeh and al-Isba oil fields in the northwestern countryside of Deir ez-Zor. There is little doubt that the SDF were accompanied by US Special Forces, who likely provided the same sort of logistical and tactical support captured in the images released by Russia’s Ministry of Defense.

However, neither Damascus nor its allies can be expected to hand over Syria’s oil fields without a fight.

The developments on the ground have led some experts to conclude that the current phase of the six-year-long war may be its most dangerous.

The fear is that the battle for Syria’s crucial resources and strategically located territory could spark a direct confrontation between the world’s rival superpowers.

And although some steps have been taken to avoid such a scenario, the only way to guarantee that a clash is averted is if one side backs down. Thus far, there is little sign of compromise.

Source: Al-Ahed News

Related Articles

Rallies Held in Jordan in Protest of Gas Deal with Zionist Entity

September 29, 2017

9

Protest rallies were held on Friday in the Jordanian capital of Amman in rejection for the gas deal concluded with the Zionist entity.

The protestors demanded that the Jordanian authorities revoke the gas deal, rejecting all the forms of normalization with the Israeli enemy.

The deal’s opponents highlight that the Palestinian gas is being looted by the Zionist usurpers and that it confiscates the political will of the Jordanian authorities.

The Jordanian legislature Saleh Al-Armouti said the deal’s draft law is being examined by the power parliamentary committee in preparation for revoking it in the first legislative session to be held by the parliament.

Source: Al-Manar Website

israel doing nothing to stop attacks on churches and mosques

Source

Stained glass and a statue of the Virgin Mary were among the items destroyed in the latest attack on St. Stephen’s church at Beit Jamal, west of Jerusalem. (Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem)

Since 2009, at least 53 churches and mosques have been vandalized in present-day Israel and the occupied West Bank.

The vast majority of those cases – 45 – have been closed without any charges against perpetrators.

In all, there have been just nine indictments and seven convictions, according to Israeli government data reported by the newspaper Haaretz. Only eight of the cases remain under investigation.

They were usually dismissed on the grounds of unknown perpetrators.

A lawmaker raised the matter in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, at the request of Tag Meir, an organization that monitors racially motivated crimes.

According to Haaretz, public security minister Gilad Erdan wrote to the lawmaker that the attacks “were perpetrated from various motives, ranging from negligence through mental illness and, in extreme cases, incidents of arson that appear deliberate.”

The newspaper noted that Erdan’s assertion “seems to contradict the fact that most of the cases were closed on the grounds of ‘perpetrator unknown.’”

Moreover, according to Haaretz, all the cases involved arson.

The name of the organization Tag Meir is a play on the Hebrew words tag mehir – or price tag – the term Israeli settlers and extremists have adopted to describe their sometimes lethal attacks on non-Jews and their property, especially Palestinians.

Third attack

In the most recent attack, on 20 September, vandals shattered a statue of the Virgin Mary, broke stained glass and destroyed a cross in St. Stephen’s Church in the Beit Jamal Salesian Monastery west of Jerusalem.

“I was shocked,” the church’s caretaker Father Antonio Scudu told the Catholic News Service. “I didn’t expect to see something like this. The church is always open. If you see what happened, you feel they did it with hate. They smashed everything.”

Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem’s senior cleric in Palestine, said, “this is not only an act of vandalism but an action against the sacredness of the holy places and the faith of people.”

This was the third attack on Beit Jamal in the past four years, but no arrests have ever been made.

Wadie Abunassar, adviser to the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, condemned the desecration in a post on Facebook .

“We are fed up with repeated attacks on holy places,” Abunassar stated, adding that “anger is not only directed at the aggressors,” but at Israeli authorities which have failed to deal with the phenomenon.

Abunassar told The Electronic Intifada that there was growing public frustration at how the police deal with the incidents, given the small number of cases that have been resolved.

Unchecked incitement

Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld has claimed that the incidents are unconnected.

“There have been arrests in previous cases,” he said. “We are looking into this case to see if it was an individual or a group. These are all separate cases.”

While Abunassar does not know if the incidents are done by individuals connected to each other, he points to constant incitement by extremist rabbis inspiring such actions.

He added that these right-wing preachers are not “sufficiently deterred by Israeli law enforcement authorities.”

He recalled one of the more notorious cases, Torat Hamelech or The King’s Torah, a 2009 book by Rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur.

The book argues that it is permissible in certain circumstances to kill the non-Jewish children and babies of Israel’s enemies since “it is clear that they will grow to harm us.”

As a result, the UK banned the entry of Elitzur.

Israeli authorities investigated the pair for incitement, but eventually decided not to charge them.

Amongst other figures who encourage these attacks is Bentzi Gopstein, the head of Lehava, a vigilante group that opposes miscegenation between Jews and Arabs.

In August 2015, Gopstein publicly called for the burning of churches and mosques.

The Vatican urged Israel to charge Gopstein with incitement to violence and terrorism.

Months later, Gopstein wrote an article branding Christians “blood-sucking vampires” and urging their expulsion from the country.

Although bishops have asked to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss these hate crimes, their request has been ignored

Lebanon and the region: Obtaining victories and the race to spend them لبنان والمنطقة: هضم الانتصارات والتسابق على صرفها

Lebanon and the region: Obtaining victories and the race to spend them

سبتمبر 28, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,

The parties give themselves some of the glamour of the victories of their allies, they use them to behave from a position of force, so this puts them in a state of emotions rashness, racing, competition, and then clash, so the glamour of this victory starts to fade, but the side problems resulted from the competitions and clashes have their effect and have become the main scene that makes politics. This is witnessed by Lebanon in the light of what is exposed to dangers regarding the series of positions and salaries and the law of the parliamentary elections along with the included accomplishments, and this is witnessed by the region in the light of the Kurdish referendum on secession and the threats of the loss of victories on ISIS during the side conflicts.

What is shown by the decision of the Constitutional Council in the veto on the tax law which is related to the law of the series of positions and salaries about the constitutional irregularities is not enough to disregard it by talking about the formal article which is how to vote, while the essence is related to the delay in the declaration of the general budget and the statement of account, where all the Government revenues according to the constitution must be in one box from where the spending will be, without linking the tax with the funding of spending. This is known by those who legalized, those who disregarded this constitutional principle, betting on the ability to provide the political protection by preventing the opportunities of appealing against the law by ten deputies, but the surprise was by the completion of the appealing conditions, and going on in the choice of the invalidation of the law, and the return from the beginning, so what can we do with the due series? and how to resume working in accordance to the budget which was denied in order to avoid the problems of statement of account?

The experience and the failure say that what the Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri said about the identity of the beneficiary from the invalidation of the tax law is true, but what is also true is that the weakness of the allies’ front has given the banks the opportunity to gather ten deputies and getting the invalidation of the law by virtue of the appealing against. It is not easy to say that the lobbies of the banks are behind the decision of the constitutional council. The weakness of the allies is an outcome of race and competition on how to draw the attention away from the victory on terrorism between Amal Movement and the Free Patriotic Movement and the weakness of the role of Hezbollah in managing the disputes inside this alliance. In case of its continuation it will threaten of more complications and at the same time it will be a relaxation in the front of the politicians and economists opponents who will propose their services. Thus the fate of the law of the parliamentary elections will be like the fate of the series “the abortion” but without the need to appeal against or to invalidate.

In the region, while the final victory over ISIS and Al Nusra is approaching, and the countries which implicated in the war on Syria are positioning on the banks of settlements, the Kurdish employing which hastens towards victory gets out and threatens to drive the whole region towards new background that threatens the opportunities of its victories. The American who presents himself as a partner in the war on ISIS along with Peshmarga have restricted their share outside the Iraqi equation in favor of creating negotiating deterrence about the future of the region. The equation becomes either the victory on ISIS as a beginning of the disintegration of the national entities and dividing them, or the region will get out of a war that failed to be turned into a sectarian or ethnical or racial war into a war that will take this feature surely and will replace the war on ISIS in exhausting the efforts of the region, its governments, nations, and resistance instead of directing them against Israel, the enemy which trembles out of fear from being on the lists of goals.

In Lebanon as in the region, the resistance axis needs to solidify its ranks and its front and to draw scenarios of employing its victories rationally without exaggerations, and including the contradictions in its ranks, or what the others do in order to draw the attention away from the original challenge in the region which is represented by Israel. The ceilings of what are granted by the victories are not high as long as the alternatives of the wars of attrition are still available at America The banking system in Lebanon does not differ from the leadership of the Iraqi Kurdistan, it is a plea behind which the American hide to wage alternative wars of attrition while he is indicating to gains, but this may affect it badly, but this must happen lest that the forces of the resistance be affected by the tension.

These words while we are moving from the bank of steadfastness-industry to the victory – industry and before getting involved in the wars of brotherhood and the wars of attrition.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

 

 

لبنان والمنطقة: هضم الانتصارات والتسابق على صرفها

سبتمبر 23, 2017

ناصر قنديل

– يمنح الفرقاء أنفسهم بعضاً من وهج انتصارات حلفائهم ويرسمون لها إطاراً للتصرف من موقع القوة، فتضعهم في حال الانفعال والتسرّع والتسابق والتنافس فالتصادم، فيبدأ وهج الانتصار المختلف على أبوته بالتبدّد، لكن المشاكل الجانبية الناتجة عن التنافسات والمصادمات تكون قد فعلت فعلها وصارت هي المشهد الرئيس الذي يصنع السياسة. وهذا ما يشهده لبنان في ضوء ما يطال سلسلة الرتب والرواتب وقانون الانتخابات النيابية من مخاطر، وما يهدّد الإنجازات المتضمّنة فيهما بالإجهاض. وهذا ما تشهده المنطقة مع الاستفتاء الكردي على الانفصال، ومخاطر ضياع الانتصارات على داعش في حمى الصراعات الجانبية.

– ما يقوله قرار المجلس الدستوري في نقض قانون الضرائب الملحقة بقانون سلسلة الرتب والرواتب عن مخالفات دستورية لا يكفي في الاستخفاف بها الحديث عن بند شكلي هو كيفية التصويت، بينما جوهر الأمر يتصل بالتأخر في إقرار الموازنة العامة وكشف الحساب، لتكون كلّ واردات الدولة وفقاً للدستور في صندوق واحد يتمّ الإنفاق منه، من دون ربط ضريبة بتمويل إنفاق بعينه، وهذا ما يعلمه المشرّعون الذين تهاونوا في هذا المبدأ الدستوري رهاناً على القدرة على توفير الحماية السياسية بعدم توفير فرص نيل الطعن بالقانون من عشرة نواب، لتأتي المفاجأة باكتمال عدة الطعن، والأخذ الحتمي بخيار إبطال القانون، والعودة بالقضية إلى المربع الأول، وهو ماذا نفعل بالسلسلة المستحقة، وكيف نعود للإقلاع بالموازنة التي نامت في الأدراج تفادياً لمعارك كشف الحساب؟

– التجربة والفشل، يقولان إنّ ما قاله رئيس مجلس النواب نبيه بري عن هوية المستفيد من الإبطال لقانون الضرائب صحيح، لكن الصحيح أيضاً هو أنّ ضعف جبهة الحلفاء قد منح المصارف فرصة تجميع عشرة نواب ونيل الإبطال للقانون بموجب الطعن، وليس سهلاً القول إنّ لوبيات المصارف تقف وراء قرار المجلس الدستوري. وضعف الحلفاء هنا هو نتاج التسابق والتنافس على كيفية صرف النصر على الإرهاب، بين ثنائي حركة أمل والتيار الوطني الحر، وضعف دور حزب الله في إدارة الخلافات داخل هذا التحالف، وهو ما يهدّد في حال استمراره بمزيد من التعقيد، ومزيد من التنافس في جبهة الخصوم السياسيين والاقتصاديين، الذين سيوزعون الابتسامات على الطرفين، ويعرضون خدماتهم، ليصير نصيب قانون الانتخابات النيابية شبيهاً بمصير قانون السلسلة، الإجهاض، ولكن من دون الحاجة للطعن والإبطال.

– في المنطقة، وبينما ملامح النصر النهائي على داعش والنصرة تبدو في الأفق، وتموضع الدول التي تورّطت في الحرب على سورية نحو ضفة التسويات، يخرج التوظيف الكردي المتسرّع للنصر، عن السياق ويهدّد بإخراج المنطقة كلها نحو مناخ جديد يهدّد فرص هضم انتصاراتها. فالأميركي الذي تقدّم كشريك في الحرب على داعش، ومعه البيشمركة، حصراً نصيبهما خارج معادلة الدولة العراقية لحساب، خلق ردع تفاوضي حول مستقبل المنطقة، فتصير المعادلة إما أن تكون نتيجة النصر على داعش بداية تفكك الكيانات الوطنية وتقسيمها، أو أن تخرج المنطقة من حرب فشلت في التحوّل لحرب مذهبية أو إتنية أو عرقية، إلى حرب ستتخذ حكماً هذا الطابع، وتحلّ حكماً بدلاً من الحرب على داعش في استنزاف جهود المنطقة وحكوماتها وشعوبها ومقاومتها بدلاً من توجيهها نحو «إسرائيل»، العدو الذي يرتجف خوفاً من أن يكون على لائحة الأهداف.

– في لبنان كما في المنطقة، يحتاج محور المقاومة إلى تصليب صفوفه وجبهته، ورسم سيناريوات توظيف انتصاراته بعقلانية بلا مبالغات، واحتواء التناقضات في صفوفه، أو تلك التي يفتعلها الآخرون لصرفه عن التحدّي الأصلي في المنطقة الذي تشكله «إسرائيل»، وسقوف ما تتيحه الانتصارات ليست مرتفعة، طالما بدائل حروب الاستنزاف لا تزال متاحة في الجعبة الأميركية، والنظام المصرفي في لبنان لا يختلف عن زعامة كردستان العراق، واجهة يقف الأميركي وراءها لخوض حروب استنزاف بديلة، وهو يلوّح لها بجزرة المكاسب، بينما قد تنزل عليها بسببه المصائب، لكن يجب أن يحدث ذلك ويتظهّر ببرود، وألا تقع قوى المقاومة بمرض الرؤوس الحامية.

– كلمات ونحن على ضفاف الانتقال من صناعة الصمود إلى صناعة النصر، وقبل التورّط في حروب الأخوة، وحروب الاستنزاف.

Trump’s ambassador to israel, David Friedman, a dangerous extremist who likes to go rogue

David Friedman, appearing in an interview with Walla! News, claims that Israel’s settlement enterprise is sanctioned by international law.

What is Donald Trump’s policy towards Israel and the Palestinians? No one from within the president’s administration seems able to say.

During an interview with an Israeli news site, David Friedman, Trump’s ambassador in Tel Aviv, advanced views contradicting decades of US policy, as well as the professed positions of the administration.

The State Department’s response to his comments further suggests a foreign policy in total disarray.

Asked about Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank, Friedman told Walla! News: “I think the settlements are part of Israel. I think that was always the expectation when Resolution 242 was adopted in 1967.”

Friedman, Trump’s longtime bankruptcy lawyer, was referring to a Security Council resolution which, in fact, emphasizes “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” and calls for Israel’s withdrawal from territory occupied in the 1967 War.

Friedman’s interpretation directly contradicts numerous subsequent resolutions that explicitly reaffirm the illegality of Israel’s settlements in the West Bank.

Israel’s transfer of its civilian population to territory it occupies is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and is thus a war crime.

Friedman, incidentally, is a major bankroller of one such settlement.

Upheaval

The ambassador downplayed the settlements, stating, “I mean, they’re only occupying two percent of the West Bank.”

He was wildly off mark.

The reality is that Israel has a massive settlement colony infrastructure throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. More than half of the West Bank has been confiscated for the settlements or otherwise prohibited to Palestinians.

For decades US policy has been to view the settlements as an obstacle to an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. And last December, the US allowed the Security Council to pass a resolution restating that all the settlements are illegal.

But US verbal opposition to the settlements has never been matched by deed: successive administrations kept writing blank checks to Israel while the settlements kept expanding.

Friedman’s comments represent a complete upheaval of that policy, however toothless it may have been.

Asked by Walla! whether he would ever bring himself to utter the words “two-state solution” out loud, Friedman said that the phrase has lost any meaning because “it means different things to different people.”

As to what it means to him, Friedman shrugged it off. “It doesn’t mean, I’m not sure. To me, I’m not focusing on labels, I’m focusing on solutions,” he said.

“Did he go rogue?”

During Thursday’s press briefing, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert struggled to reconcile Friedman’s comments with the policy of the administration he represents.

Nauert’s exchange with journalists can be watched in the video above.

“His comments – and I want to be crystal clear about this – should not be read as a way to prejudge the outcome of any negotiations that the US would have with the Israelis and the Palestinians. It should also not indicate a shift in US policy,” Nauer states.

“Did he go rogue?” one reporter asks.

“This is at least the second time that from this podium you’ve had to sort of clean up Ambassador Friedman’s remarks when he had upped the ‘alleged occupation,’” another reporter says, referring to a comment Friedman recently made to the right-wing Jerusalem Post suggesting the US does not consider the West Bank and Gaza to be occupied by Israel.

“Even if it’s not a change of position, is the perception that the ambassador to Israel has his thumb on the scale in the view of this conflict creating problems for the US?” the reporter adds.

“We have some very effective leaders and representatives for the US government, including Jason Greenblatt [and] Mr. Kushner, who are spending an awful lot of time in the region,” Nauert replies, referring to two of Trump’s advisors.

Associated Press reporter Matt Lee points out that “The problem arises because [Friedman] is the Senate-confirmed ambassador. Neither Greenblatt nor Kushner are. … Ambassadors to every country are supposed to speak for and with the authority of the president of the United States. Do you not see that causing confusion?”

Another reporter presses the point: “Aren’t you a bit concerned that the ambassador’s comments are detracting or going to harm the efforts by the president’s appointed envoys on this issue?”

Whose ambassador?

They’re fair questions to ask. During the interview Friedman behaved as though he is Israel’s ambassador to the US, rather than the US ambassador to Israel.

Friedman insisted that the Trump administration will move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – another break from decades of US policy and international consensus.

That was a promise made during Trump’s campaign but later backtracked once he took office.

Asked whether the embassy will be moved during Trump’s presidency, Friedman replied, “I sure hope so. That was one of the commitments of the president and he’s a man who keeps his word. … It’s not a question of if, but a question of when.”

Friedman stated that a peace deal may be reached in months but would not share any details of the parameters of the supposed peace negotiations.

Asked about Palestinian distrust due to his financing of settlements, the ambassador boasted of meeting with Majid Faraj, the head of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’ secret police force, and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

“I think they understand my views,” Friedman said, adding, “I don’t think it’s a matter of being suspicious, I think they have dealt with people who have those views before.”

Though he says that Trump is the one calling shots in his inner circle, Friedman’s reference to “my views” further suggests that the ambassador is operating on a long leash.

But he still behaves as Trump’s lawyer.

Asked by Walla! about Trump’s much maligned defense of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville last month that left a counter-protester dead, Friedman replied:

“I have no doubt that he is not the slightest bit in any way, shape or form racist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, homophobic or any other horrible adjective you can come up with. It’s not him.”

Syrian army and allies completely secure Palmyra – Deir Ezzor highway, Repel Major ISIL Attack in Eastern Badiya: Photos

S A, Allies Repel Major ISIL Attack in Eastern Badiya: Photos

September 29, 2017

6

The Syrian army and allies managed on Friday to repel a major attack launched by ISIL terrorists on their posts in eastern Badiya, a desert that extends over some 90,000 square kilometers from central Syria to the Iraqi and Jordanian borders.

Scores of ISIl terrorists were killed by the Syrian army and allies during the confrontation on Deir Ezzor-Raqqa highway.

Heavy losses were inflicted upon the ISIL takfiri group as Hezbollah Military Media Center circulated photos that show the dead terrorists.

2

3

4

5

7

8

Source: Al-Manar Website

SYRIAN ARMY REPELS ISIS ATTACK, SECURES PALMYRA-DEIR EZZOR HIGHWAY – REPORTS

Syrian Army Repels ISIS Attack, Secures Palmyra-Deir Ezzor Highway - Reports

A screenshot from the video

On Friday, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Hezbollah repelled an ISIS attack and fully secured the al-Sukhnah-Deir Ezzor highway, according to the Hezbollah media wing in Syria.

This report should mean that the SAA recaptured Bir Ghabaghib and al-Shula villages on the al-Sukhnah – Deir Ezzor highway, as it is impossible to secure the highway without capturing the two villages.

However, these claims still have to be confirmed.

The SAA and its allies also repelled ISIS attack on the T-3 station south of Palmyra city in the eastern Homs countryside. Pro-government sources said that ISIS attacked the station with 2 VBIEDs. However, the SAA managed to hold into the station and protected the ammo depot inside it.

اشتباكات عنيفة في محور المحطة الثالثة (T3) جنوب مدينة السخنة بريف تدمر الشرقي

ستعادة الجيش العربي السوري والحلفاء السيطرة الكاملة على المحطة الثالثة ومستودعات الذخائر بعد فشل عملية تسلل مجموعات إرهابيي داعش صباح اليوم pic.twitter.com/DIgu3LqdSY

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Twitter Ads information and privacy

Earlier the SAA, backed by the Tiger Forces and Hezbollah, started its counter-attack to secure the al-Sukhnah-Deir Ezzor highway.

According to pro-government sources, the SAA attacked al Shula village from the direction of Deir Ezzor city, and Bir Ghabaghib village from the direction of al-Sukhnah town.

The ISIS attack on al-Sukhnah town was likely also repelled as the SAA launched its counter-attack from the town. However, no official source confirmed that the attack on al-Sukhnah town was repelled yet.

Pro-government sources claimed that ISIS attacked the SAA positions on the al-Sukhnah-Deir Ezzor highway with more than 12 VBIEDs on Thursday. The sources also claimed that ISIS redeployed large forces from Iraq to Syria to carry out the attack against the SAA.

MILITARY SITUATION IN CENTRAL SYRIA AFTER ARMY REPELLED ISIS ATTACK ON PALMYRA-DEIR EZZOR HIGHWAY (MAP)

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies have repelled the large-scale ISIS attack in central Syria and restored control over all important points at the strategic Palmyra-Deir Ezzor highway, according to pro-government sources. Separately, the SAA repelled an ISIS attack in the T3 Pumping Station area.

 

Military Situation In Central Syria After Army Repelled ISIS Attack On Palmyra-Deir Ezzor Highway (Map)

RELATED VIDEOS

RELATED ARTICLES

Tony Blair’s Ghoulish Last Decade

Source

By Branko Marcetic,

The Iraq War salesman may be getting into politics again. Here’s a nauseating look back at his appalling post–Downing Street years.

Say what you will about Tony Blair, but the man’s not a quitter.Not content with being repeatedly wrong in his reflexive advice for politicians to tack to the right, Blair doubled down in a recent interview with Politico, warning against the rise of left-wing populism. Free public services, he said, were “very attractive,” but “I’m not sure it would win an election” — though if it did, he noted, “it would worry me” because “a lot of these solutions aren’t really progressive” and “don’t correspond to what the problem of the modern world is.” Later in the same interview, Blair insisted that Democrats try to work with Trump.As the website noted, Blair “still punches hardest when he’s hitting to his left.”We’ve been hearing a lot about what’s progressive and what isn’t from Blair of late. Spooked by the Brexit result, Blair has embarked on a project to inject himself back into British and global politics after a ten-year leave of absence that was first made necessary by his toxic standing among the general public.

Ever the “radical centrist,” Blair has developed a “post-ideological” plan to educate the public about the merits of technological advances and globalization. He’s rebranded his firm, Tony Blair Associates, as the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change and oriented it towards this goal. He’s teamed up with Open Britain, an outgrowth of last year’s failed Remain campaign that’s working to halt Brexit, and was for a time working with centrist Labour MPs to break away from the party and form a new movement after what they (wrongly) predicted would be a Tory landslide.

This isn’t the first time Blair has waded back into British politics. Labour routinely trotted him out in election years to give his endorsement to the latest Labour prime-minister-to-be, while Blair himself has taken every opportunity to warn Labour against moving leftward (a piece of advice he also disastrously imparted to Hillary Clinton during her 2016 run).

But his new role is, by Blair’s own admission, a more fully committed dive back into politics than at any time in these intervening years.

Yet Blair is the last person anyone should listen to about politics in 2017. For of all the shady post-political careers that Western world leaders have embarked on in recent years, Blair’s is perhaps the shadiest.

Few have cashed out like Blair has since leaving 10 Downing Street, operating a dizzying, and often overlapping, web of charities, firms, and foundations that have catapulted him to the status of one of Britain’s wealthiest people. In the mere ten years he’s been out of office, he’s become the living, breathing symbol of the money-grubbing, self-serving political establishment that the public he now seeks to persuade, loathes.

He’s made the kind of money that Barack Obama can only dream of. He’s mixed private enrichment with public service in a way that would make the Clintons blush. And he’s racked up a list of unseemly clients that Henry Kissinger would drool over. What follows is an extremely condensed history of Tony Blair’s post-prime ministerial career.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Ministerial

Lately there’s been heightened scrutiny of the money-raking lives of politicians who’ve left public office. Hillary Clinton’s speaking fees and financial donations became a major issue in the 2016 presidential race. More recently, Barack Obama provoked entirely justified outrage for pocketing $400,000 from a Wall Street firm.

Tony Blair puts them all to shame.

Blair’s hostility to the likes of Jeremy Corbyn, or even any political movement marginally left of center, has to be understood in the context of the enormous wealth Blair has amassed since leaving Downing Street. For a long time, no one knew quite what he was worth, owing partly to the inscrutable nature of his businesses. In 2012, when one accountant guessed his wealth as somewhere in the range of £30-40 million, his spokesman denied it was “anything remotely approaching” that sum.

His spokesman was telling the truth. Blair was in fact worth substantially more — £60 million as of 2015, according to an analysis by the Telegraph (in 2010, his spokesman had called this sum “simply ludicrous”). This was due in part to a portfolio of ten properties worth £25 million in total (as well as twenty-seven flats), including several multi-million pound manors and townhouses, one of which — a £1.13 million house for their son — they paid for in cash.

Tony Blair’s home in South Pavilion, Wooton Underwood, Buckinghamshire.

Tony Blair’s home in Buckinghamshire.

Photograph: John O’Reilly/Rex/Shutterstock

Visitors report that the Blairs “live like royalty,” with up to twenty staff members waiting on them hand and foot. They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on furniture for their £5.75 million country house and nearly £30,000 for a fitness pool. Neighbors are unimpressed: the constant presence of armed police and construction vehicles led some to move away.

As Blair ascended to the uppermost strata of global wealth, his socializing followed suit. He’s hung out on the superyacht of the world’s fourth-richest man, dines regularly with the billionaire media tycoon behind the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, and his contact details were in the “little black book”of pedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, the man whose plane — dubbed the “Lolita Express — counted Donald Trump and Bill Clinton as passengers, among others.

Blair also forged a close friendship with conservative billionaire Rupert Murdochbecoming the godfather to one of his daughters. So friendly are Blair and Murdoch, in fact, that the former prime minister tried to get his successor, Gordon Brown, to stop the investigation into the phone hacking scandal that was consuming Murdoch’s company, and later unofficially advised the chief of Murdoch’s UK newspaper group a week before her arrest.

In 2012, Blair insisted that,

“This notion that I want to be a billionaire with a yacht; I don’t. I am never going to be part of the super-rich. I have no interest in that at all.”

Yet as one of his guests told the Telegraph,

“A lot of the people he socializes with are billionaires, and his lifestyle involves moving between five-star hotels and mansions around the world, always in private jets and helicopters.”

But then, in the words of one of his former underlings,

“he was always intrigued and fascinated by rich people and he has always liked to be surrounded by nice things.”

Charity Begins at Home

How has Blair achieved this extreme level of opulence? Immediately after leaving office — perhaps following the lead of his close friends the Clintons — Blair took advantage of every lucrative opportunity he could while setting up an intersecting network of private organizations that have helped further enrich him, and whose structure shields his earnings from public scrutiny.

In 2007, he started the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, a multi-million dollar charity that, along with its US branch, aims to “counter religious conflict and extremism in order to promote open-minded and stable societies.” The same year he established the Tony Blair Sports Foundation, which looks to encourage young people in the UK’s North East to play sports. The following year he set up another charity, the Africa Governance Initiative, whose goal was to promote development and fight poverty in African nations. And he set up Tony Blair Associates, an umbrella organization that encompasses these various projects. Blair’s wife also started the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, a charity that helps female entrepreneurs.

At the same time, Blair also embarked on a series of ventures meant to supplement his prime ministerial pension of £64,000 ($85,000) a year. In January 2008, he became an advisor to Zurich Financial Services and JP Morgan, receiving £500,000 and £2.5 million per year, respectively, for his troubles. In the latter case, Blair provided most of his services over the phone, or, as needed, jetting to parts of the world where the bank had interests. His work with JP Morgan was particularly controversial as the bank was set to profit from the war Blair had started in Iraq. The father of an Iraq veteran called it “almost akin to taking blood money.”

Blair received a £4.6 million advance for his memoirs from Bertelsmann-owned Random House, a lavish sum that was also criticized by family members of soldiers who died in the war. Blair eventually decided to donate the advanceand all royalties to a charity for injured soldiers. (Lest one think this was an act of contrition, Blair has always insisted the war was the right course of action, saying on two separate occasions that he still would have launched it knowing what he knows now).

Image result

Hillary Clinton and Cherie Blair

(Source: Middle East Eye)

Following the example of Bill Clinton, Blair also hit the speaking circuit with gusto, in short order becoming the world’s highest paid public speaker (a title he’s since relinquished). Institutions lined up to book Blair, who charged anywhere between £157,000 and £180,000 per speech on average (around $200,000 to $230,000). The waiting list was two years long. By contrast, at the time, Bill Clinton was charging the equivalent of around £100,000 per speech.

Blair was paid £300,000 by Goldman Sachs to speak in 2008, and seven years later, plans to speak at the World Hunger Forum in Stockholm fell through when organizers couldn’t pay the £330,000 price tag Blair was asking for a twenty-minute speech — presumably on the subject of world hunger.

Why were companies and organizations clamoring to lavish Blair with money? Perhaps for such sage nuggets of wisdom as:

  • “Politics really matters, but a lot of what goes on is not great.”
  • “Religion [can be] a source of inspiration or an excuse for evil”
  • “Helping people is a noble profession, but not noble to pursue”

Despite making tens of millions of pounds over the years, it took until 2012 for Blair’s companies to stop the practice of hiring unpaid interns for months at a time, and that was only when the risk of investigation by the government reared its head (unpaid internships are technically illegal in the United Kingdom).

Blair insisted his pursuit of money was rooted in more worthy motives. His spokesman told the press that his “commercial interests provide important funding for his charitable work.” Yet Blair’s charitable work has also proven controversial.

For example, Blair’s religious foundation appeared to be swimming in money. In its first year, the foundation received $9.8 million worth of donations. A 2009 tax return for the foundation’s US branch showed that Blair had somehow raised $1.1 million by working an average of one hour a week. Only part of that was the $200,000 Blair was receiving from Yale University to lecture on religion and globalization. The donors’ identities were kept secret.

In 2014, a former employee of the foundation, Martin Bright, claimed that Blair used the charity as a think tank for his private office, and hired a team of five communications officers to work for the charity; their job was to defend Blair’s reputation. Bright, whose job was editing a website for the foundation about religious conflict, said “huge amounts” of its time “were spent in meetings to ensure the website didn’t embarrass Blair.”

Meanwhile, most of the staff of Blair’s sports foundation were loyalists carried over from his time as prime minister, and their compensation in the foundation’s first four months exceeded the total spent on actual charitable activities. Both of its two highest paid staff earned more than the chief executive of Oxfam.

Given Blair’s swift ascent to the highest tiers of the rich list, and his propensity for hiring bankers and mining executives, it’s not surprising that he thought a 50 percent tax bracket for those earning £150,000 or more was a “terrible mistake,” cautioned politicians not to “go too far on regulation” following the financial crisis, and warned: “Don’t take thirty years of liberalization, beginning under Mrs Thatcher, and say this is what caused the financial crisis.”

Blair received numerous awards for his philanthropic ventures. But not everyone was happy about it. When he won the Save the Children legacy award in 2014, two hundred of the charity’s staff signed a letter calling the award “morally reprehensible” and demanding it be withdrawn. The CEO of its UK branch, who was a former aide to Blair, was forced to apologize.

A Life of Service

At the same time Blair was financially entangling himself through his charities and private advisory roles, he was also engaging in high-profile work allegedly in the public interest. Blair’s first job out of office, which he kept until 2015, was as special envoy for the Quartet — the name given to the four entities involved in mediating an Israel-Palestine peace settlement, namely the United Nations, United States, European Union, and Russia.

Though some at the time suggested Blair may not be the best fit for the role of Middle East mediator — after all, he had helped orchestrate and launch a war in the Middle East on false premises that killed hundreds of thousands and destabilized the entire region — the Bush administration insisted on choosing him.

In its ceaseless jet-setting, its enormous expense, its blurring with Blair’s private business interests, and its almost total lack of tangible, positive results, this particular gig set a pattern that would recur throughout his post prime ministerial career.

Blair’s position wasn’t paid, but that doesn’t mean it came cheap. For office space, he and his staff rented out ten rooms, indefinitely, at the luxury American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem. They also slept at the hotel to the tune of £2,000 a night, despite the British Consulate-General being nearby. The total cost of came to around $1.34 million a year, not counting the money spent on security and equipment. Blair later relocated to a less expensive building in East Jerusalem.

Blair’s role was ostensibly to help mediate peace between Israelis and Palestinians, yet it took him a whole year to schedule his first visit to Gaza, and almost another year after that to actually visit. (His first scheduled trip was called off due to a security threat.)

When Israel launched its brutal war in Gaza in 2009, with a 107-to-1 ratio of Israelis to Palestinians killed, “peace negotiator” Blair said nothing. (A week after the bombing began, Brown told puzzled reporters that Blair was “on holiday at the moment” — though he was actually meeting Israel’s defense minister). With Gaza still in smoldering rubble, Blair received a $1 million prize from Tel Aviv University for “his exceptional leadership and steadfast determination in helping to engineer agreements and forge lasting solutions to areas in conflict.”

Aside from a few minor successes — namely, getting Israel to call off a few checkpoints in the West Bank, which one former Palestinian Authority cabinet member believes Israel was going to remove anyway — Blair’s tenure was largely free of accomplishments. Perhaps he was distracted: according to one UN official, “there is a general sense that he is not around.”

Unsurprisingly, when Blair did do something, it appeared to largely favor the Israeli position.

In February 2008, when Israel choked off the Gaza’s electricity supply in response to Hamas rocket attacks, even the British and US governments were critical. Blair, however, was more reticent.

“It’s incredibly difficult, this, and my worry all the time is that you alienate the people,” he said, upon being asked if he needed to tell Israel not to cut power to Palestinians. “But the reason why I have sympathized with the dilemma Israel has, and I’ve been criticized for doing so, is that if I was sitting in their seat . . . I mean, the truth of the matter is that it is difficult for them to be able to attack the extremists in isolation from the people.”

Years later, when the Palestinian Authority made a bid for UN statehood, Blair warned it would be “deeply confrontational,” and then worked with the Obama administration to tempt the Palestinians away from such a move. But the proposal he created — one that dropped calls for an end to illegal settlements while demanding Palestinians recognize Israel “as a Jewish state” — was a non-starter.

It was Blair’s move to halt the statehood bid that finally ruined his credibility in the Palestinians’ eyes.

“There is no one within the Palestinian leadership that supports or likes or trusts Tony Blair, particularly because of the very damaging role he played during our UN bid,” one official told the Telegraph, adding he was “persona non-grata” in Palestine.

One PLO official described him as “a junior employee of the Israeli government.” A Palestinian presidential aide said that, instead of a neutral entity, he “sounds like an Israeli diplomat sometimes.”

True to form, in 2013, Blair hired an ex-Israeli intelligence officer and former aide to Benjamin Netanyahu as a private consultant, further undermining his appearance of neutrality.

By 2014, individuals ranging from Noam Chomsky and Ken Livingstone to Labour MPs signed an open letter calling for Blair’s removal, labelling his achievements “negligible.” By May 2015, senior diplomats were calling him“ineffective” and saying his role was “no longer viable.” Later that month, he resigned.

Blair may have failed to achieve much of anything regarding Israel and Palestine, but his mediator role appeared a useful fulcrum for his business endeavors. In 2011, according to the British current affairs program Dispatches, Blair persuaded Israel to allow Wataniya Mobile to operate in the West Bank and promoted the development of a gas field off the coast of Gaza operated by the British Gas Group. Both companies happened to be clients of JP Morgan, which Blair was being paid millions to advise. Wataniya’s CEO gushed about the deal, calling it a “milestone” for a company that had once been “nothing” yet subsequently captured 23 percent of the market. (Wataniya was based in Kuwait, whose government was another client of Blair’s).

It turns out that while serving as envoy, Blair made two undisclosed trips to Libya on dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s private jet. (These travel arrangements were, in one case, negotiated on notepaper labelled “Office of the Quartet Representative.”) One of these visits took place just as JP Morgan was trying to negotiate a multibillion-pound loan from Libya. Blair claimed it wasn’t a business trip, but emails obtained by an anti-corruption group showed JP Morgan’s vice chairman urging that the deal be finalized “before Mr. Blair’s visit to Tripoli.”

At the same time, numerous other conflicts of interest reared their heads. Blair reportedly served as a personal adviser to the chairman of the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey Group at the same time the company was profiting from resources drawn from illegal Israeli settlements. He continued to advise Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund, Mubadala, even as observers pointed out that it could undermine his work with the Palestinians. In a deal that would have reportedly netted him £1 million, Blair was in talks with supermarket chain Tesco to bring its stores to the Middle East. He used his envoy position to try and benefit several of his other projects, including contacting the British ambassador in Lebanon about starting an education program in the country — before being told his unpopularity guaranteed its failure.

As the director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding told the Guardian,

“There is no clear division between Blair’s diplomatic dealings and business dealings in the Middle East.”

Tangled up in Green

Image result for tony blair associates

What made it especially difficult for Blair to separate his public and private business was the fact that, along with his charities, Blair was also running Tony Blair Associates, a for-profit consultancy firm that made up a significant source of Blair’s income.

What exactly did TBA do? For one, it was in the business of “providing introductions,” bringing corporate clients and governments together to set up business deals. For instance, it was alleged that Blair introduced a Chinese businessman wanted by Interpol for bribery to the Abu Dhabi royal family, for a deal worth $3 billion. In 2012, he tried to broker a deal between an Irish businessman and the Qatari royal family, something the businessman said TBA was doing “out of the good of their heart.”

Blair was also pitched to PetroSaudi, a privately owned oil firm co-founded by a Saudi prince, as someone who could “unlock situations which might otherwise be blocked by political factors.” He went onto promote the company in private meetings with Chinese officials — all for a $100,000 per month retainer.

To illustrate how tangled Blair’s various activities were at the time: he was, at this point, still serving as the Middle East peace envoy; many of his meetings with Chinese officials happened while he was visiting on behalf of his religious charity; and TBA’s director assured PetroSaudi that it made no difference if they paid money to the firm that owned TBA or the firm that owned his charities, “given where the cash ultimately ends up.”

(Blair’s deal with PetroSaudi came with an added scent of impropriety, given that as prime minister, Blair had pressured the UK’s Serious Fraud Office to quash an investigation into alleged corruption in arms deals between Saudi Arabia and British firm BAE Systems, which the British High Court later ruled had been illegal).

Friends in Authoritarian Places

Image result

Tony Blair with Henry Kissinger (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2015, Blair told Vanity Fair that Henry Kissinger was his role model. He said this was because Kissinger continued working even into his nineties — though one might wonder why he didn’t cite someone like, say, Jimmy Carter, an actual philanthropist, who isn’t a war criminal. But given Blair’s work, one might be forgiven for thinking he was referring to Kissinger’s history of enabling dictatorships.

Blair’s work at TBA often involved him dispensing political advice for pay to unsavory regimes around the world. The firm’s first client was the Kuwaiti government, which paid seven figures for Blair’s advice on “good governance.” He also flew to Azerbaijan to give a paid speech and meet with the country’s repressive president. Infuriating local activists, he didn’t mention the country’s poor human rights record.

He signed a deal said to be worth £8 million to advise the corrupt and repressive government of Kazakhstan, which Pavel Sheremet, a Russian journalist, called a sign “that Western politicians can do any work for money” and that Blair had “informally agreed to bring Kazakhstan’s viewpoint to the Western politicians and investors.” Kazakhstan paid for Blair’s travel and first-class hotel stays; in return, Blair did things like tell its president how to paper over his government’s murder of protesters in his speeches.

Blair did something similar for president Alpha Conde of Guinea in 2013 after Guinean government forces fired on protesters, leading Conde to seek Blair’s help. The former prime minister’s “independent, politically neutral organization,” the Africa Governance Initiative, sent over a document advising him how to win the “communications battle.”

Blair has long insisted that the Iraq War was justified by the need to end Saddam’s repression and violence. But he’s shown he has no problem with autocratic rule in other Middle Eastern countries. He became an adviser to murderous Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as part of a project financed by three Gulf states to bring foreign investment to Egypt’s economy (though Blair denied he was profiting from his role). In the midst of the Arab Spring, Blair called Egypt’s previous dictator, Hosni Mubarak, “immensely courageous and a force for good.” He called for Western countries to do more to help the “liberal and democratic” elements in Arab countries, but then praised the Egyptian army’s armed overthrow of its country’s democracy, viewing the formation of a democratic government by the Muslim Brotherhood as the greater threat.

Blair’s affection for autocrats isn’t limited to the Middle East and Central Asia. He became an unofficial adviser to Rwandan president Paul Kagame, whose government worked with Blair’s Africa Governance Initiative (AGI); the two are reportedly good friends. Kagame most recently won an election with 99 percent of the vote, has been accused of war crimes by the UN, and regularly silences his political opposition. Blair, however, insisted he was a “visionary leader,” and has constantly defended Kagame from criticism while keeping silent about human rights abuses, leading Human Rights Watch to accuse him of “helping to prop up” the government. It can’t hurt that Kagame pampers Blair with a private jet to fly him in and out of the country.

A Vision for the Few

What’s next for Tony Blair? The latest signs are that he’s now ready to devote himself more intensely to politics. As of 2016, he’s closed down his various commercial activities and put their “substantial reserves” into his nonprofit work (though he also said he’s retaining “a small number of personal consultancies for [his] income”). His latest initiative is the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, a “not-for-profit organisation dedicated to making globalization work for the many, not the few.” The Institute hopes to “articulate a vision of liberal democracy that can garner substantial support and to push back the destructive approach of populism,” thereby renewing the center. As part of this project, it will “inform and support those in the active front line of politics.”

But Blair’s whole post-prime ministerial career has been one big advertisement for the failure of his particular brand of globalization. He is precisely one of those “few” for whom the new hyperconnected, globalized world has paid handsome dividends, thanks to grotesque corruption and obscene private wealth. And far from advancing a vision of “liberal democracy,” he’s used his privileged position to bolster countless authoritarian regimes, all for a price.

When he left office ten years ago, Blair promised to use his global connections to heal the world. Instead, he worked to make himself fabulously wealthy. Now he’s making the same promise again. As a dear friend of his might say: fool me once, shame on you.

Branko Marcetic is an editorial assistant at Jacobin. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

Featured image is from Flickr.

Eva Bartlett Part 2: What was life like in Syria under the USA’s “moderate rebels” control?

Syria War Diary: Order Returns To Western Cities, Civilians Recount Horrors Of Rebel Rule

In revisiting Madaya and al-Waer after their reclamation by the Syrian army, it soon became clear from Bartlett’s conversations with residents, just how distorted the reporting of corporate media about their fate under “rebel” control had been.

HOMS, SYRIA — In the last year, the Syrian cities of Aleppo and Madaya have become familiar to the international community as they have become subjects of heavy propaganda amid corporate media coverage to justify a so-called “humanitarian” war. Another area used in the war propaganda was al-Waer, a district of Homs occupied by the Western armed and financed “moderates” of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria), Ahrar al-Sham, and terrorists showing allegiance to Daesh (ISIS).When I again visited Syria in June 2017, Aleppo, Madaya and al-Waer had been restored to peace, following the evacuation of these armed groups. I was able to visit these areas and speak to residents about the reality of life under the rule of these factions.

In Part I of my coverage August 2017 article focused on Aleppo and the life of civilians there under “rebel” occupation — which included many dangers, deprivations, and horrors, not the least of which was susceptibility to extra-judicial trials and executions.

<img src=”http://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/themes/core/images/ads/ad-mp-squigl.jpg” class=”no-thickbox”/>


Related | Syria War Diary: What Life Is Like Under ‘Moderate’ Rebel Rule


Here, I look at Madaya and al-Waer, again from on the ground, to give a voice to Syrians who have been marginalized by the Western corporate media, which has instead glorified the insurgency.

 

Stability with reconciliations

This frame grab from video provided by Syrian Central Military Media, shows Syrian rebels about to be released as part of a government deal to evacuate over 10,000 residents from Madaya and Zabadani, near Damascus, Syria, April 12, 2017.

This frame grab from video provided by Syrian Central Military Media, shows Syrian rebels about to be released as part of a government deal to evacuate over 10,000 residents from Madaya and Zabadani, near Damascus, Syria, April 12, 2017.

During my visit in June, I met with Syria’s Minister of Reconciliation, Dr. Ali Haidar. Established in June 2012, the Ministry has successfully dialogued with tens of thousands of armed Syrians to enable and facilitate return to their civilian lives.

According to Haidar, in Madaya and al-Waer stockpiles of food and medicines were found in buildings occupied by armed groups. Large quantities of weapons and ammunition were also found—notably foreign-made weapons—including from the U.S. and Israel. While Western media has not reported on this, Israel’s JPost in April 2016 reported on another incident: the capture of a vehicle containing Israeli mines coming from southern Syria.

Map of Syria showing the ICRC's presence and the location towns of Madaya, Foua and Kefraya. (Map: ICRC)

Map of Syria showing the ICRC’s presence and the location towns of Madaya, Foua and Kefraya. (Map: ICRC)

Haidar explained to me that an agreement was reached at the end of 2015 that included Madaya, nearby Zabadani, and the Idlib villages Foua and Kafraya. That 2015 agreement saw over 450 people from the four areas evacuated by agencies, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The evacuated included injured, ill and elderly from Foua and Kafraya, with some of whom I met in August 2016 to hear about their experiences.

According to a report compiled in the Reconciliation Ministry, and explained to me in our June meeting, 3,000 people, including 950 militants, left Madaya for Jarablus or Idlib on April 15, 2017. Another 600 militants laid down their arms on April 19, staying in Madaya. As of June, 20,000 people had returned to Madaya.

In a June 2014 interview, Minister Haidar told me that over 10,000 Syrians had reconciled and returned to their civilian lives. According to his office, as of June 2017, that number was over 85,000.

 

Media explosion on Madaya

Anti-Syrian government activists hold up placards during a protest in front of the European Union embassy in Beirut after harrowing pictures in the media of emaciated children were blamed on a siege of the town of Madaya by Syiran troops.(AP/Hassan Ammar)

Anti-Syrian government activists hold up placards during a protest in front of the European Union embassy in Beirut after harrowing pictures in the media of emaciated children were blamed on a siege of the town of Madaya by Syiran troops.(AP/Hassan Ammar)

Adjacent to a munitions factory used by armed groups in Madaya, I found packaging of an ICRC-supported food parcel, a remnant of repeated aid convoys sent into the town. As in eastern Aleppo, in Madaya armed extremists hoarded food and medicines.

Owing to the presence of Ahrar al-Sham, al-Nusra and other groups, from around mid-2015 Madaya was under Syrian military siege. As noted in Part One of this series, siege is a common tactic of wars past, and one that the United States employed in Iraq (for example, the more than four-year siege of Sadr City).

The military sieges came with offers of amnesty to those armed Syrian men who hadn’t committed bloodshed, or safe passage to another area of Syria for those who refused reconciliation, including the non-Syrian extremists. During the siege, the Syrian government did continue to send in aid to Madaya, and continued to also approve the provision of aid from the ICRC, UN and other bodies, including in October 2015.

In December 2015, the ICRC was back in Madaya for the evacuation of injured or ill.

The family of Marianna Mazeh, a south Lebanon girl, have expressed anger that her photo was circulated on sites claiming she was a starving child from Madaya in Syria.

The family of Marianna Mazeh, a south Lebanon girl, have expressed anger that her photo was circulated on sites claiming she was a starving child from Madaya in Syria.

In his January 2016 statement, Syria’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Bashar al-Ja’afari, confirmed this October 2015 aid delivery, and noted:

“On December 27th, we asked the resident coordinator to send immediately convoys of humanitarian assistance again to Madaya, and to Kafraya and al-Foua. The UN did not send. … Huge humanitarian assistance and medical assistance was distributed inside Madaya, October, December and now (January).

The main problem is that the armed terrorist groups steal the convoys and trucks, and they deviate them to their own warehouses and storage. And then they resell it to civilians at prohibitive prices that the civilians cannot afford it.”

Overnight in January 2016, Western and Gulf media, in chorus, started campaigning that the Syrian state was starving civilians in Madaya. The same media made scant to no remarks about the terrorists occupying the hillside town. Some reports used photographs of emaciated people not from Madaya, nor even from Syria — including a pretty Lebanese girl whose parents objected to the media’s exploitation of their daughter — in support of the “starvation” claims.

Watch | ‘Fact Check on Madaya’

Those behind the sudden media upheaval included none other than Saudi terrorist Abdullah Muhaysini, known for his support to al-Qaeda and recruiting of new terrorists. In early January 2016 he also called for the annihilation of Foua and Kafraya.

A cached article noted that Muhaysini had “appealed to the media to highlight the disaster in the region.” Another article, in Arabic, cited Muhaysini as using the hashtagged phrase “Madaya is Hungry”.

When, in mid-january 2016, Syrian reporters and RT reporter Murad Gazdiev entered Madaya with another shipment of aid, residents spoke of the starvation caused by the terrorist occupiers, as residents of eastern Aleppo and al-Waer later would: The terrorists stole the food aid and sold it at prices too obscenely inflated for civilians to afford.

Watch | Inside Besieged Madaya: ‘Militants sold us 1 kg of rice for $250’

On the ground in Madaya, June 2017

Life on the streets as I entered Madaya on June 13, 2017. (Photo: Eva Bartlett/MintPress News)

Life on the streets as I entered Madaya on June 13, 2017. (Photo: Eva Bartlett/MintPress News)

There was normal life on the streets of Madaya when I visited last June. Small grocery stores and other shops were open, residents and children filled bottles at the central water fountain. A sense of calm prevailed, with Ahrar al-Sham and al-Qaeda two-months departed.

Entering a small shop selling clothing, I was welcomed and offered apricots from a pail on the counter. The Madaya-Zabadani region is known for its rich agriculture and tasty fruits. It is also an area to which people from Damascus and environs would retreat in the summer, to picnic on farmland or to eat at one of the restaurants along the road leading to the towns.

According to Madaya’s mayor (mukhtar, in Arabic), the main armed factions that had been present were the terrorist groups of Ahrar al-Sham, al-Nusra and the FSA. The shop owners also maintained that ISIS terrorists had been present in Madaya.

I asked if they had seen ISIS themselves. Their reply: “ISIS killed a civilian outside the shop.” As it turned out, when the man was shot, residents were protesting the presence of ISIS in the town.

I asked whether people had protested the presence of other militants. “Yes,” they said, “there were protests against the armed groups, and in support of the government, asking the government to come to Madaya. ISIS killed three protesters and another seven were injured.” Indeed, I had seen a video of Madaya residents marching in support of the Syrian president and against the armed factions.

The Mayor of Madaya, standing near buildings once occupied by "moderate rebels" who sniped and fired mortars on the road below.

The Mayor of Madaya, standing near buildings once occupied by “moderate rebels” who sniped and fired mortars on the road below. (Photo: Eva Bartlett/MintPress News)

To my question whether Western media was right, that the Syrian government had starved them, the four men answered ‘no’ in unison, talking over one another to make their point.

“It was not the government that starved us, it was the armed groups,” a middle-aged man said.

“The government provided us in Madaya with supplies that would have been enough for 20 years,” a younger man exaggerated, making the point there was ample food in the town. “We received aid convoys, but the armed groups would steal the supplies and monopolize them.”

He said he had sold his car in order to buy overpriced food from Ahrar al-Sham and al-Qaeda: “They sold us a kilogram of rice for 100,000 Syrian pounds.”

At current exchange rates, this came to around US$200.

An older man nicknamed Abu Sharif said repeatedly that militants had hoarded food and extorted civilians, and added:

“After the Syrian army entered, they found 50 storage units of food, also medicine. They are still uncovering storages.” According to this man, the militants also stole jewelry from women, and forced them to dress fully covered. “They called us ‘kuffars’ and said we weren’t real Muslims.”

The mukhtar maintained: “The siege from the Syrian army had the effect that the terrorists started surrendering themselves at Syrian army posts.” Indeed, SANA reported in June 2015 that 11 armed men had turned themselves in and — even prior to the siege, in August 2014 — over 250 militants had joined the reconciliation process:

“The siege was on the militants, if they hadn’t been here, there would have been no siege. There’s no siege now, everything is open.”

 

Prisons, civilian shields, and a bomb factory

A marking of Ahrar al-Sham, the dominant Islamist rebel group occupying Madaya, in an area of modern apartments and villas.

Crude graffiti bearing the symbols of Ahrar al-Sham, the dominant Islamist rebel group that once occupied Madaya, in an area of modern apartments and villas. (Photo: Eva Bartlett/MintPress News)

With the mayor, two villagers, and my driver/translator, we drove from the town hub and along winding roads leading to an area of attractive apartment homes at the edge of the town.

Stopping the car en route, the mayor pointed at a small school, one of six in the town. A few stories high, its walls had been blown out, presumably by Syrian army shelling. “It’s an elementary school. The militants occupied it and took it as a stronghold and fired from it,” he said, saying that terrorists had occupied all of the town’s schools.

In his investigations, Aleppo journalist Khaled Iskef highlighted why armed groups had occupied schools. According to a former fighter for the Shami Front whom Iskef interviewed, “Terrorists use schools because the infrastructure is solid and they have cellars to use for munitions storage and prisons.”

Watch | Khaled Iskef’s report highlights armed rebels occupying schools

Madaya never had a hospital, only a small clinic, which the locals said terrorists had closed to the public. The regional hospital for the area is in nearby Zabadani. Yet, by November 2016, reports on Madaya’s nonexistent hospital includedd this headline from the Qatar-funded Middle East Eye: “As Madaya’s last hospital closes…”

This is the same ‘last hospital’ theme that abounded in propaganda around Aleppo.

The town did have a small medical clinic, though. In the media spin around Madaya, purportedly heroic non-MDs were treating the citizens of Madaya, including one dentist and one veterinarian.

According to the mayor and other men I spoke with, though, only terrorists and their families were treated or given access to medicines. Given that this accusation was later widely heard from civilians in liberated areas of Aleppo, and given that the terrorists in question were al-Qaeda and Ahrar al-Sham (which the U.S. Congress lists as a terrorist group in its own documents), it is highly unlikely that the Madaya people who alleged this were not telling the truth.

Madaya’s mayor said he knew the two “hero doctors.” Of the dentist, the mayor said he benefited from helping the militants. “He could get whatever he want[ed] from them, like food and medicine, and he became famous in the media.”

The video on this hero doctor was Netherlands-produced (a country which supports the ‘opposition’), and featured a Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) board member. SAMS purports to be a “nonpolitical, nonprofit, professional and medical relief organization,” but supports al-Qaeda-occupied areas in Syria. Their own website notes meetings with the State Department, Homeland Security, and other establishment policymakers, including U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State John Kerry — all deeply involved in the U.S. war on Syria.

In addition to occupying schools, “moderate rebels” occupied apartment buildings and the luxurious villas, turning some into prisons. Standing next one apartment, the men told me that it and buildings across the road were used by the occupiers to bomb and snipe the Madaya-Zabadani road below:

“The civilians living below were like human shields for the terrorists. The army couldn’t shoot at the terrorists easily because they’d risk hitting the civilians.”

The outside of a villa used by rebels as a tunnel entrance. The idyllic mountain view was marred only by the signs of battle: an empty swimming pool lightly littered with rubble, and a villa beyond, roof and walls blown out by shelling. (Photo: Eva Bartlett/MintPress News)

The outside of a villa used by rebels as a tunnel entrance. The idyllic mountain view was marred only by the signs of battle: an empty swimming pool lightly littered with rubble, and a villa beyond, roof and walls blown out by shelling. (Photo: Eva Bartlett/MintPress News)

I asked how life was in Madaya before 2011. “Madaya was a tourist’s paradise,” the mayor replied, smiling, eyes closed, remembering. “People who came from outside of Syria would come to Madaya,” to enjoy the environment of natural beauty.

Further on among the hillside dwellings, we stood near an apartment that had been occupied, one floor turned into a prison to hold locals until their fates (including execution) were decided in terrorists’ Sharia trials.

Nestled behind the apartment, out of view, was a factory where terrorists manufactured mortars and rockets.

Watch | Hidden factory where mortars and rockets were manufactured by terrorists

Above that factory, one of the food storage caches was found after militants had left Madaya. The mayor said, “Last time the army found a storage with more than 400 cartons of food.” Syrian authorities filled five trucks with medicine hoarded by the armed groups, he said.

Walking gingerly over rubble, not yet cleared by engineers of any unexploded ordinance, we reached the bomb workshop, a single ground-level room. Equipment and materials for manufacturing explosives still lay scattered.

Down the lane, another villa had also been used as a headquarters and prison until it was hit by Syrian army shelling, forcing the “rebels” to relocate. Another mass food storage was found in a neighboring building, the mayor said.

Entering the relocated prison through a hole blown into the wall, I walked past a room containing a cooking stove and refrigerator, both booby-trapped by terrorists to kill whoever tried to move them. I had learned of this tactic in 2014 in the old city of Homs.

Watch | Our visit to the relocated prison

“They left booby-trapped explosives in the houses, all over, even behind paintings on the wall,” I was told. Similarly, in Maaloula in June 2016, I was told: “They rigged houses so that when someone opened the door, an electrical trigger with a small charge would detonate and explode a gas canister.”

Two rooms, metal doors welded onto the entrances, had been used as cells. In the middle of another room, a metal bed frame with a piece of cloth tethered at one end. “They interrogated and tortured people here,” a former FSA militant said. An unwilling participant, he said he was forced by other militants to join, and that he was among the first to take the government-offered amnesty when peace was restored to Madaya in May 2017.

In neighboring Buqayn, Ahrar al-Sham transformed the municipality building into a prison, fortified with sandbagging and bricks. The dank cells were sealed with the same solid metal doors.

A soft-spoken employee of the municipality, limping as he walked, came over to tell me how he was shot at close range. Leaning on a crutch with prayer beads wrapped around the handle, he explained his injury. Recounting that terrorists had shot at the truck he and three others were in, he said, “the driver was killed and we were all injured. … We were subject to shooting many times.”

Watch | Municipal employee describes being shot by terrorists as part of intimidation campaign

The reason for the attacks? To intimidate them from returning to work at the municipality. Three surgeries later, still needing another, the man said his wounded leg is now seven centimeters shorter than his good leg.

Below and beyond the village, in a sitting room away from the June sun, a farmer-turned-soldier, still wearing his military uniform, spoke of why he took up arms in support of the Syrian army:

Life was good here, we were living well. When things turned violent in the area, I and other men from the area volunteered to support the Syrian army.”

He and others warned Madaya locals not to fall for the political game that originated from America, Israel, Turkey and others, he said — also pointing out that sectarianism was never a way for most Syrians, that it came from Saudi Arabia and other outside forces:

If you came and visited our home, slept in our home, we never asked what religion you were.”

As I left, he insisted on giving me bags filled with cherries and other fruits grown on his land.

 

Al-Waer at peace

A Syrian family embracing after arriving from Jarablus, in Aleppo province, to their old neighborhood of al-Waer, in Homs, Syria, July. 11, 2017. (SANA via AP)

To the west of Homs lies the suburb of al-Waer. In December 2015, when a truce was holding, I had stood at a Syrian army checkpoint on the western outskirts of al-Waer, speaking with residents as they crossed back into the district with food from outside and bags of bread from the industrial-sized bakery to the side of the road.

Trucks loaded with eggs, meat and medicines waited to enter the district. Zakariya Sha’ar, a doctor bringing medicine, mentioned the presence of non-Syrian militants, including Saudis, Tunisians, and Chechens, among others.

As I stood on the road, less than 100 meters from the checkpoint of the militants, I was cautioned to step back: “It’s not safe, at any moment they could do anything, break the ceasefire.”

 

Inside the bakery, I saw locals producing the bread that would go into al-Waer. I was told the wheat was provided by the Syrian government.

Watch | Footage inside the al-Waer Bread Factory, Homs

Syrian Minister Ali Haidar told me that armed groups had gathered in al-Waer due to its large population, around 300,000 people:

They [the armed groups] entered al-Waer, closed it off, and turned it into a zone to fight the government. The large number of civilians made the government unable to start a direct battle against the militants. Therefore, we remained around the neighborhood.”

According to Haidar, the Ministry started attempts at broaching reconciliation at the end of 2013, and reached an agreement at the beginning of 2014:

However, the large number of the militant groups in al-Waer, the internal disputes among them—and most importantly the control of al-Nusra over other militant groups—hindered the project after we had begun.”

The reconciliation effort began anew early 2016 but, again due to the presence of al-Qaeda, was delayed for a year — hampered by “external directives, mainly Qatari, to leaders of militant groups to hinder the project,” Haidar said, “[in order] to cause problems outside al-Waer.”

When from March to May 2017 the evacuations did finally occur, no UN personnel were involved, Haidar said, only the Syrian Red Crescent, Russian military police, and Syrian security personnel. As with evacuations elsewhere in Syria, militants left with light arms.

According to a detailed breakdown (provided to me at the Ministry of Reconciliation) of the 11 evacuations from March 18 to May 21, the final tally of militants who departed from al-Waer was 4,937, with a further 750 who chose to reconcile and stay in the district. Of the departed militants and their families, Minister Haidar maintained that at least 70 percent were not from al-Waer but from other areas of Homs and elsewhere.

“Immediately,” Minister Haidar told me, “we started the plan to return the locals to al-Waer.” As of June, there was a plan for the return of 50,000 people to al-Waer over the next couple of months.

 

Visiting secured al-Waer

Riding in a local taxi along the broad streets of al-Waer, the driver had spoken glowingly about the area's infrastructure. (Photo: Eva Bartlett/MintPress News)

In a local taxi, I approached the district with a journalist from Homs. Driving along smooth boulevards, Hayat and the driver took turns telling me about al-Waer, nicknamed “New Homs.” It was known for the green spaces and parks, the good infrastructure, she said — and impeccable infrastructure, the driver interrupted, saying “life was so good here.”

As the taxi entered al-Waer, a housing complex came into view, and apartment buildings further along, all studded with gunfire and holes from shelling. The car paused in front of a building where a boy of perhaps 12 years shoveled rubble from in front of his home. The buildings to the left of him were blackened from shelling.

A boy, about 12 years-old, clears rubble from outside of a home in al-Waer. Many homes targeted like this had been used as headquarters by the militants occupying the district. (Photo: Eva Bartlett/MintPress News)

 Some minutes later, we passed an empty lot with shells of buses pocked with gunfire. Further along, another bus, windows blown out, was parked across a road formerly leading to a Syrian army checkpoint. Walking along the streets, Hayat pointed to an intact multi-story apartment building, and another with shelled upper-level rooms.

“This building had civilians. That building had militants,” she said, indicating that buildings not used by militants were not targeted.

This is a difference many journalists willfully overlook, choosing instead to speak of physical destruction in general terms, ignoring and negating the presence of terrorists — whether high up in sniping and shelling vantage points, or bunkered safely below ground, as I saw in Bani Zeid, Aleppo last year — and the efforts made to confine destruction to these targets.

A green bus filled with passengers passed by, characteristic of those used in the evacuations in eastern Aleppo. They were also used in al-Waer, along with other buses, for the evacuation process. Today, as in Aleppo, the buses are back to city services. There was some life on the streets otherwise: an older man bicycled down one lane, and a child crossed the other in the distance.

In one small shop, a young clerk was reluctant to talk about life under terrorist rule, as was his father. Possibly the family supported the militants.

Another shop, unfurnished save for a faded plastic poster of a horse and another of a mother and child, was stocked with items that had been long-absent for most people. Sugar, flour, detergents, eggs, a variety of cigarettes, an array of chocolate bars and cookies, and bags of potato chips, instant noodles, and other non-perishable food items filled the shelves.

The shop owner said they had suffered from hunger. “The armed groups wouldn’t give us anything at all,” he said. “The opportunists, you mean,” remarked an older man, a friend, who had walked in. The latter continued: “One kilogram of salt reached 8,000 Syrian pounds (US $16), one bag of bread 3,000 pounds (US $6).”

A small shop with shelves no longer empty after militants left and the military siege was subsequently lifted. (Photo: Eva Bartlett/MintPress News)

A small shop with shelves no longer empty after militants left and the military siege was subsequently lifted. (Photo: Eva Bartlett/MintPress News)

I asked about the bakery I had seen in 2015, and whether bread in fact regularly entered the district. “Yes,” said the second man, “it did,” but the militants would sell it at the inflated prices he had mentioned.

A man selling cigarettes on a street corner, his makeshift table stacked with cigarette cartons, said he hadn’t left al-Waer during the presence of the militants — it was and is his home.

“Life was very, very bad. There was no food, they used to take the food for themselves,” he said of the armed groups, continuing with the same complaints as the others I’d spoken with: “They would sell it to us with a price they decided,” he said, citing similar exorbitant prices for flour, sugar, and basics.

A father of six children, he worried about their future after so many years of war. We parted with his last words:

But now the army is here, they are doing good, hopefully everything will return back to how it was.”

Further on in the district, three men worked clearing rubble from around a home badly damaged on the ground level. They waved and greeted us as our taxi stopped, but went silent and refused to speak when noticing my camera. A level up, a woman’s face peered out a small hole in the wall, then her hand reached out and gestured to come upstairs.

After reconciling with the Syrian government, former militants clear debris as they rebuild their homes, and their lives. (Photo: Eva Bartlett/MintPress News)

After reconciling with the Syrian government, former militants clear debris as they rebuild their homes, and their lives. (Photo: Eva Bartlett/MintPress News)

She was one of the many who left al-Waer, departing in 2013 and renting elsewhere in Homs. She said her life prior to 2011 was wonderful, and was strongly optimistic for the future:

“People are coming back home. Although many houses are destroyed, they are inhabited. If they are destroyed, we’ll rebuild them. What matters is that we’ve got rid of those bastards,” she said of the militants dubbed “moderate rebels” by western media and politicians.

The men below, it turned out, had been militants, but took amnesty and reconciled with the state, and are returning to their lives.

This was hard for me to process: living in the same building is a family evidently patriotic—the woman’s brother is in the Syrian army and she herself praised both the army and government—and the very former militants the family fled from, men who took up guns against both the government and in many cases civilians.

I asked if she knew her neighbors well. “Of course,” she answered. “But some people were brainwashed by others about ‘bad people, oppressing people.’ So, there were guys who joined those bastards,” she said of the militants.

As we spoke, one of the men came into the room. We shifted the conversation to casual talk about her family. After he left the room, she explained quietly that he was keeping an eye on her, what she might be saying to me. I was again struck by the strangeness of the situation, and when he had left, asked her if she wasn’t afraid to be living above the men.

“The state is here, we aren’t afraid. They’ve provided everything for us, are helping us, mash’allah,” she replied.

I stopped on the stairs leading from her apartment, listening to the call to prayer coming from the nearby mosque, watching as life trickled along the streets of the badly damaged district.

Watch | Pausing to listen to the call to prayer from nearby mosque

The sounds of shoveling rubble below were both a reminder of the militants who had been a part of this destruction and of the fact that they too want to rebuild and get on with life.

 

Epilogue

Syrians arriving from Jarablus, in Aleppo province, to their old neighborhood of al-Waer, in Homs, Syria, July 11, 2017. (SANA via AP)

Syrians arriving from Jarablus, in Aleppo province, to their old neighborhood of al-Waer, in Homs, Syria, July 11, 2017. (SANA via AP)

When at the Ministry of Reconciliation later, waiting for my meeting with the Minister, I saw many women and some men also waiting to talk with someone at the Ministry, about their loved ones, militants who had left another restored district, Qudsaya, for Idlib in October 2016. The militants wanted to come home.

The minister’s office also told me at the time that 72 families had already returned to more-recently secured al-Waer, from Jarabulus.

On July 11, Syrian state media, SANA, reported: “Fourteen buses carrying about 150 families, including 630 persons from the residents of al-Waer neighborhood, have arrived in Homs city coming from Jarabulus.” The report noted that this was the fifth group of families returning from Jarabulus or Idlib, and that many more families were scheduled to return.

Top photo | Syrian children buy vegetables in the town of Madaya in the Damascus countryside, Syria, May 18, 2017. (AP/Hassan Ammar)

Analysis by Analogy: Myanmar is not Syria

September 27, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – Many geopolitical analysts and commentators have noted many worthwhile similarities between the Syrian crisis and the one now unfolding in the Southeast Asian state of Myanmar. However, what is different about these two crises is just as important as what is the same.

The Similarities 

Particular focus has been placed on evidence emerging that US-ally Saudi Arabia is serving as an intermediary fueling militancy in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state. The militants, however, consist of a foreign armed, funded, and led cadre, constituting a numerically negligible minority of the Rohingya population they claim to represent, and are in fact no more representative of the Rohingya people than militants of Al Qaeda and the so-called “Islamic State” are representative of Syria or Iraq’s Sunni Muslim populations.

While it is crucial to point out the foreign-funded nature of a militancy attempting to co-opt the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, it is equally important to understand precisely where this militancy fits into Saudi Arabia’s and ultimately its American sponsors’ larger plans.

Another similarity pointed out by analysts is the use of US and European-funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). These include larger organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as organizations on the ground in Myanmar funded by the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED), its various subsidiaries including the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), Freedom House, USAID, and Open Society.

These organizations are intentionally seeking to control the narrative, inflame rather than smooth over tensions, and create a pretext for wider and more direct intervention in Myanmar’s expanding crisis by Western nations.

Analysts and commentators, however, cannot stop here. They must commit to equal due diligence in unraveling what stands behind Myanmar’s government – who it was that assisted them into power during the relatively recent 2016 elections, who built up their political networks across the country over the course of several decades, and what role their actions play in Western designs for the nation’s near and intermediate future.

The Differences 

Syria’s government is the creation and perpetuation of localized special interests – backed by various alliances ranging from the former Soviet Union in the past, to Russia, Iran, and to a lesser degree China in present day.

The United States and its Arab partners – particularly Saudi Arabia – have engineered militancy along and within Syria’s borders beginning in 2011 for the explicit purpose of overthrowing Syria’s government and dividing what remains of the nation among proxies and client regimes controlled from Washington, London, and Brussels.

 In Myanmar, while the US and its Saudi partners are apparently fueling militancy among the Rohingya population, it was the US itself who for decades built up the political networks of the current ruling regime, with Aung San Suu Kyi a whole-cloth creation of Western media narratives, immense funding and political support, and a carefully crafted facade to obfuscate from the public for decades the true, nationalist and even genocidal nature of Suu Kyi’s supposedly “Buddhist nationalist” support base.

An extensive 2006 report by Burma Campaign UK titled, “Failing the People of Burma?” (PDF), would reveal how virtually every facet of Myanmar’s current government is a creation of Western political and financial support. (Note: The US and UK still often refer to Myanmar by its British colonial name, “Burma”).

 

Image: Extensive efforts have been made to portray Myanmar’s head of state, Aung San Suu Kyi, as being opposed by ultra-violent nationalist “monks,” and many in the alternative media have wrongly concludes that the US seeks to pressure, even topple Suu Kyi from power. In reality, both Suu Kyi and her violent supporters are creations and a perpetuation of US cash and political support.

The report would lay this out in great detail, stating:

The restoration of democracy in Burma is a priority U.S. policy objective in Southeast Asia. To achieve this objective, the United States has consistently supported democracy activists and their efforts both inside and outside Burma…Addressing these needs requires flexibility and creativity. Despite the challenges that have arisen, United States Embassies Rangoon and Bangkok as well as Consulate General Chiang Mai are fully engaged in pro-democracy efforts. The United States also supports organizations, such as the National Endowment for Democracy, the Open Society Institute (nb no support given since 2004) and Internews, working inside and outside the region on a broad range of democracy promotion activities. U.S.-based broadcasters supply news and information to the Burmese people, who lack a free press. U.S. programs also fund scholarships for Burmese who represent the future of Burma. The United States is committed to working for a democratic Burma and will continue to employ a variety of tools to assist democracy activists.

The 36-page report would enumerate US and European programs in detail – ranging from the creation and funding of media, to organizing political parties and devising campaign strategies for elections, to even scholarships abroad to indoctrinate an entire class of political proxies to be used well into the future upon transforming the nation into a client state. Virtually every aspect of life in Myanmar was targeted and overturned by Western-backed networks over the course of several decades and an untold amount of foreign-funding.

Similar evidence reveals that many of the so-called “Buddhist” nationalist groups also enjoy a close relationship with US and European interests and that they played a pivotal role in bringing Suu Kyi to power.

Additionally, many in Suu Kyi’s current government are the recipients of US-funded training. Narratives concerning the current Rohingya crisis are being crafted by Suu Kyi’s “Minister of Information,” Pe Myint.

Pe Myint was revealed in a 2016 article in the Myanmar Times titled, “Who’s who: Myanmar’s new cabinet,” to have participated in training funded by the US State Department. The article would report (emphasis added):

Formerly a doctor with a degree from the Institute of Medicine, U Pe Myint changed careers after 11 years and received training as a journalist at the Indochina Media Memorial Foundation in Bangkok. He then embarked on a career as a writer, penning dozens of novels. He participated in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa in 1998, and was also editor-in-chief of The People’s Age Journal. He was born in Rakhine State in 1949.

The Indochina Media Memorial Foundation is revealed in a US diplomatic cable published by Wikileaks as fully funded by the US State Department through various and familiar intermediaries. The cable titled, “An Overview of Northern Thailand-Based Burmese Media Orgranizations.” would explicitly state (emphasis added):

Other organizations, some with a scope beyond Burma, also add to the educational opportunities for Burmese journalists. The Chiang Mai-based Indochina Media Memorial Foundation, for instance, last year completed training courses for Southeast Asian reporters that included Burmese participants. Major funders for journalism training programs in the region include the NED, Open Society Institute (OSI), and several European governments and charities.

Many of those among Myanmar-based US-funded “NGOs” apparently opposing Suu Kyi’s government are in fact alumni of the same US-funded programs as many members of the current government.

In essence, the primary difference between Myanmar and Syria is that while in Syria the US is fueling militancy to topple a government beyond its reach and influence, in Myanmar, the US is manipulating the entire nation via two vectors its controls entirely – a militancy it is growing on one side, and a political establishment it has created from whole-cloth on the other.

Moving Beyond Analysis by Analogy

Helping readers understand various aspects of the current crisis in Myanmar by comparing it to various aspects of Syria’s ongoing conflict can be instructive. However, drawing entire conclusions about the implications of the Myanmar conflict by simply assuming it is repeat of Western efforts in Syria is fundamentally flawed.

While the US seeks to divide and destroy the entire state of Syria, its efforts in Myanmar are concentrated to the western state of Rakhine with little possibility of spreading because of Myanmar’s demographics.

This is also precisely where China has invested deeply in its One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project, with a seaport in Sittwe, central Rakhine, and road, rail, and pipeline projects slated to expand onward toward China’s border and eventually Kunming.

Opposition in the form of local NGOs underwritten by US State Department cash, or violence covertly backed by the US and its intermediaries, have attempted to systematically disrupt Chinese infrastructure projects around the globe, including in Myanmar. Chinese-built dams in Myanmar are opposed by networks of US-funded NGOs, militant groups accused of receiving US backing have attacked Chinese projects throughout the nation, and the current conflict in Rakhine fueled on both sides by the US threaten to not only derail Chinese projects there, but may even serve as a pretext for positioning Western forces inside Myanmar – a nation that directly borders China.

Placing American forces – in any capacity – along China’s borders has been a long-term stated goal of US policymakers for decades. From the Vietnam War-era Pentagon Papers to the 2000 Project for a New American Century report, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” to former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s “Pivot to Asia” policy, a singular theme of encircling and containing China either with client states obedient to Washington, or chaos all along China’s peripheries has prevailed.

It is clear that American designs in Syria and Myanmar employ similar networks and tactics and that both conflicts fit into a larger, global strategy. There are undoubtedly familiar themes emerging from both conflicts. However, what is different about Syria and Myanmar’s conflicts is just as important.

Analysts and commentators must account for the decades of US and European funding that placed the current government of Myanmar into power. They must account for the surgical nature of destabilization confined to Myanmar’s Rakhine state versus the full-spectrum destabilization being fueled in Syria. They must also identify the motives underpinning US designs in Myanmar.

Simply assuming that a US-Saudi-backed militancy exists to topple a government rather than grease the wheels for another, more indirect objective – one that perhaps even aims at preserving Myanmar’s current government rather than toppling it by pinning blame on the nation’s still powerful and independent military – will only aid rather than impede injustice. Analogies drawn from two different conflicts are only helpful in simplifying explanations and conclusions analysis by deep research have already arrived at.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.

عبدالحكيم عبدالناصر: الأمة حية وها هي سورية تنتصر بقيادة أسدها والمقاومة تجدّد بقيادة السيد نصرالله الأمل بنصر فلسطين

«إذا لم أدعم الرئيس بشار الأسد فمن أدعم؟ الكيان الصهيوني أم أميركا والإرهاب»؟

عبدالحكيم عبدالناصر: الأمة حية وها هي سورية تنتصر بقيادة أسدها والمقاومة تجدّد بقيادة السيد نصرالله الأمل بنصر فلسطين

سبتمبر 29, 2017

حاورته: صابرين دياب

أكد عبدالحكيم جمال عبدالناصر، نجل الرئيس المصري الراحل جمال عبدالناصر، «أنّ سورية تنتصر وترفع رأس الأمة عالياً، وسوف يسجل التاريخ بطولات الجيش الأول العظيم وقائده الحكيم الرئيس بشار الأسد».

ورأى عبدالحكيم عبدالناصر، في حديث لـ»البناء» أنّ من يستهجنون دعمه الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد «مرتمون في أحضان الرجعية ويرفضون رؤية الحقيقة». وسأل:

«إذا لم أدعم الرئيس بشار الأسد فمن أدعم؟ الكيان الصهيوني أم أميركا والإرهاب»؟

ولفت إلى «أنّ ما يحدث في سورية واضح لكلّ ذي بصر وضمير. هناك مشروع لتمزيق سورية وإنهاكها بحرب تدميرية دنيئة يشارك فيها الكيان الصهيوني بشكل مفضوح وواضح تماماً على أرض سورية».

من جهة أخرى، أكد عبدالناصر أنّ مشروع تفتيت مصر اجتماعياً وطائفياً لن ينجح، لافتاً إلى أنّ الجيش المصري «أثبت أنه عظيم، .. لأنه جيش عقائدي تأسّس وتربّى على قيم متينة ومن الصعب النيل من وحدته ووفائه لأرضه وأهله وشرفه».

وتطرق إلى واقع الأحزاب المصرية، معتبراً أنها «عبارة عن دكاكين لا تواجد واسع حقيقي لها في الشارع، وإذا بقيت على هذا الحال من دون تنظيم شعبي حقيقي وشفافية ستظلّ عاجزة عن القيام بأي تغيير».

وفي ما يلي نصّ الحوار كاملاً:

هل كان الوضع الدولي أفضل أم أسوأ تجاه العرب قبيل ثورة يوليو 1952؟

ـ المشروع الصهيوني وحلفاؤه من قوى الاستعمار العالمي، وعلى رأسهم الولايات المتحدة، لم ولن يريدوا أن تكون أمتنا مستقلة القرار، كما أنهم لا يريدون نظاماً حراً ومستقلاً لها. لذلك فإنّ الوضع لم يكن يوماً جيداً، لا سيما أنّ بعض الحكام العرب، منذ ما قبل الثورة وحتى اليوم، لم يخرجوا من عباءة سيدهم الأميركي ولا عن طوعه. قد تكون هذه المرحلة هي فعلاً أسوأ مراحل الأمة التاريخية، من فظاعة الانحطاط والخيانة التي أصبحت مكشوفة وعلى الملأ. وأستطيع القول إنّ الوضع قبل الثورة كان بمثابة زنى سري، أما بعدها، وفي هذه المرحلة على وجه التحديد، فقد أصبح الزنى علنياً دون وجل أو خجل. رغم كلّ هذا الانحطاط والألم نحن واثقون بأنها مرحلة عابرة ولن تدوم، لأنّ فطرة الشعوب العربية ستغلب هذا الانحطاط الذي ابتدأته الفطرة السورية الأصيلة بتطهير سورية من قوى الانحطاط والبغي الممولة من الصهاينة والرجعية العربية.

حققت ثورة يوليو نجاحاً والتفافاً شعبياً كبيراً. هل ترى أنّ الشارع العربي اليوم مؤهل لاحتضان ثورة ناصرية؟

ـ أي ثورة وطنية هي تعبير شعبي واضح وجلي عن رفض سياسة الأمر الواقع المفروضة ظلماً وتعسفاً، وطالما أنّ إرادة الشعوب حية، فلا بدّ من الثورة على أي نظام حكم جائر وخائن، وأنصع مثال على ذلك في مصر هو ثورة يوليو 1952 التي حققت فعلاً نجاحات والتفافاً شعبياً واسعاً، وليس مهماً أن تكون الثورة ناصرية بل المهم أن تحمل الروح والمبادئ الثورية وتحميها وتصونها لتخدم أهداف الشعب واحتياجاته وحقوقه.

قامت الثورة ضدّ طبقات معينة منها الإقطاع. هل تعتقد أنّ مواجهة الإقطاع أسهل من مواجهة البرجوازية الطفيلية والكمبرادور؟

ـ كلاهما سيئ للنسبة إلى الجزء الأكبر من المصريين والعرب ولكن بنسب متفاوتة. لقد أساء الإقطاع إلى الشعب المصري في عهد الرئيس جمال عبدالناصر، لكنه تمكن من مواجهته بشجاعة وإرادة ورغبة حقيقية لنشر العدالة الاجتماعية في الوطن. أما في فترة حكم حسني مبارك، فقد حصل تزاوج بين رأس المال والسلطة، وسيطر الرأسماليون على نظام الحكم، رغم أنّ نسبتهم لا تتعدى 3 في المئة من المجتمع المصري. وبالتالي حازت تلك الطبقة كلّ الامتيازات واستولت على الدخل والمكاسب، وعاشت مُترفة على حساب غالبية الشعب المسحوق، أما الثروات التي تمتلكها تلك الطبقة، فقد تراكمت في ظلّ سياسة ونهج طفيلي وسمسرة من دون رادع، وليست نتيجة إضافة تكنولوجية وصناعية وزراعية.

قيل إنّ الجيش كان أداة للسلطة واليوم هو أيضاً كذلك. هل تعتقد أنّ خامة الثورة يمكن استخلاصها من الجيش مجدّداً؟

ـ أرى أنّ الجيش المصري جيش الشعب وليس السلطة فهو من حمى المصريين في 25 يناير 2011 وفي ثورة 30 يونيو ضدّ «الإخوان المسلمين» سارقي إنجاز خلع نظام مبارك، وقد رأينا الجيش المصري الحر في ثورة 23 يوليو، كيف كان الطليعة الثورية التي حققت آمال الشعب، لكنّ ثورة يوليو 1952 كانت أوفر حظاً من التي تلتها.

الأحزاب المصرية عاجزة عن تحقيق تغيير

كانت الأحزاب في مصر ضعيفة قبيل الثورة ولا تزال. فهل ترى أنّ الأحزاب عاجزة عن المشاركة في التغيير؟

ـ كانت الأحزاب قبل 23 يوليو كرتونية وسرية وضعيفة والحزب الكبير الذي كان فاعلاً على الأرض هو حزب «الوفد»، الذي أتى من فوهات بنادق الجيش الإنكليزي عندما حاصر القصر عام 1942، وأُرغِم الملك على أن تشكيل حزب الوفد للوزارة. وللأسف، بقيت الأحزاب بعد الثورة الأخيرة 30 يونيو عبارة عن دكاكين لا تواجد واسع حقيقي لها في الشارع، وإذا بقيت على هذا الحال من دون تنظيم شعبي حقيقي وشفافية ستظلّ عاجزة عن القيام بأي تغيير.

هل تعتبر أنّ دور المرأة تراجع بعد الرئيس عبدالناصر وهو الذي أنصفها بعد الثورة؟

ـ أخذت المرأة المصرية حقوقها كاملة في عهد الرئيس عبدالناصر والتي كرسها دستور 1956 وحقق لها المساواة بالرجل، في العلم والعمل وكلّ مناحي الحياة. المرأة المصرية حصلت على حق الانتخاب قبل المرأة السويسرية، وأول وزيرة في حكومة وطنية مصرية كانت الدكتورة حكمت أبو زيد وقد عيّنها الرئيس عبدالناصر عام 1961، وحري بي أن أشير إلى مسألة هامة، في هذا السياق، وهي أنّ المرأة في أميركا قد لا تحصل على راتب أكثر من راتب زميلها الموازي في المنصب أو الوظيفة لأنها امرأة، رغم أنّ أميركا تُعتبر أم التقدم والتحضّر. بينما في مصر، قد تجدين وزيرة براتب أعلى من وزير زميل لها، أو أستاذة جامعية أو في أي منصب آخر. وضع المرأة في مصر يعبّر عن تقدمية الوطن.

الهزيمة نتيجة لمؤامرة بدأت منذ انتصار 1956

هزيمة مصر كانت أساساً من الإمبريالية عام 1967. كيف ترى دور مصر اليوم إزاء ما يحدث في سورية من تدمير صهيو رجعي مُمنهج ومتعمّد والعدوان الصهيو سعودي على اليمن؟

ـ الهزيمة كانت جراء مؤامرة بدأت خيوطها تُحاك منذ انتصار 1956، والثورة المصرية فرضت إرادتها وأصبحت هي المُلهمة لقوى التحرُّر في العالم العربي، في فلسطين والجزائر والسودان واليمن وفي العالم كله، ومن هنا بدأ التخطيط لكسر النظام المصري الثوري الحر، وبدأت المؤامرة على الوحدة بين مصر وسورية التي انتهت بالانفصال، والمؤامرة على الدعم المصري لليمن، حين وقفت مصر تساند شعب اليمن لمساعدته على النهوض وهو الشعب العربي المظلوم حتى اليوم، فتحالفت كلّ قوى الاستعمار العالمي لضرب مصر القرار والكرامة والاستقلال، واتخذت بلاد الحجاز التي يحكمها آل سعود، قاعدة لضرب التواجد المصري في اليمن. كان مخطط إنهاك مصر مبرمجاً ومُحكماً جداً حتى نشبت حرب الأيام الستة،

لكنّ الجماهير العربية والمصرية خرجت في 9 و10 يونيو بشكل تلقائي جارف تتحدّى الهزيمة وترفضها، ولدينا في مصر تعبير رائع هو «الشعب المصري هزم الهزيمة بالتحدي النبيل التلقائي». وبدأت مصر العمل على التجهيز لمعركة التحرير، ثم بدأت حرب الاستنزاف براس الهش في يوليو1967 واستمرت لغاية حرب الألف يوم، وبناء حائط الصواريخ ومن ثم وفاة الرئيس عبدالناصر.

مصر الرسمية والشعبية باتت تدرك جيداً أنّ ما يُحاك لسورية وشعبها وجيشها ووحدتها، هو ذاته ما يحاك لمصر، ومصر منشغلة أيضاً بمحاربة الإرهابيين من الإخوان والإرهاببين المستوردين، وهناك مخطط لتفتيت مصر اجتماعياً وطائفياً وتقسيمها. لقد استطاعوا ضرب استقرارها، لكن بفضل جيشنا العظيم البطل، لن يحدث التقسيم في مصر ولا في سورية كما يحلم الكيان الصهيوني. أثبت جيشنا أنه عظيم، وكما قال الأستاذ محمد حسنين هيكل راهنوا على تفكيكه وعجزوا لأنه جيش عقائدي تأسّس وتربّى على قيم متينة ومن الصعب النيل من وحدته ووفائه لأرضه وأهله وشرفه.

إذا لم أدعم الرئيس بشار الأسد فمن أدعم؟

كيف تُقيّم الوضع في سورية اليوم وكيف تردّ على من أعربوا عن «استهجانهم» من دعم الرئيس بشار الأسد؟

ـ سورية تنتصر وترفع رأس الأمة عالياً، وسوف يسجل التاريخ بطولات الجيش الأول العظيم وقائده الحكيم الرئيس بشار الأسد، أو أسد بلاد الشام، كما يسميه الجنرال السوري بهجت سليمان. أما بالنسبة إلى استهجان البعض، فهؤلاء مرتمون في أحضان الرجعية ويرفضون رؤية الحقيقة. إذا لم أدعم الرئيس بشار الأسد فمن أدعم؟ الكيان الصهيوني أم أميركا والإرهاب؟ ما يحدث في سورية واضح لكلّ ذي بصر وضمير. هناك مشروع لتمزيق سورية وإنهاكها بحرب تدميرية دنيئة يشارك فيها الكيان الصهيوني بشكل مفضوح وواضح تماماً على أرض سورية، وإنني استهجن استهجان هؤلاء! وهنا لا بد من توجيه التحية إلى حلفاء الجيش الأول، لا سيما حزب الله البطل وسماحة سيد المقاومة حسن نصر الله، وكذلك إلى إيران وروسيا الاتحادية.

هناك من يشبّه أمين عام حزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله بالرئيس عبدالناصر. فما هو رأيك؟

ـ هناك بطل قومي مقاوم اسمه السيد حسن نصرالله استطاع بعد الرئيس عبدالناصر كسر هيبة الصهاينة وكلّ قوى البغي المتماهية مع الكيان الصهيوني، وما من شك أن هذا يسعد الرئيس عبدالناصر ويسعدنا.

تتّهم إحدى الشخصيات المصرية المعروفة الرئيس عبدالناصر بأنه كان يعيش حياة مترفة وكان يستورد الطعام من إحدى الدول الغربية. كيف تردّون؟

ـ هذا محض افتراء وكذب، ولا أفهم لماذا يتطاول السيد عمرو موسى على الرئيس عبدالناصر ويتجنّى عليه في هذا الوقت بالذات! ما الغرض من هذا التشويه السخيف؟ الرئيس عبدالناصر كان مواطناً مصرياً حقيقيا بكلّ ما تحمله الكلمة من معنى، وطعامنا كان مثل طعام أي أسرة مصرية، وكلّ من كان مقرباً من أسرتنا كان يلاحظ كيف كان والدي يحرص على ألا نُعامل معاملة استثنائية، ربما الامتياز الوحيد الذي أذكره أنّ البيت الذي كنا نسكنه كان كبيراً وأمامه حديقة وحراسة لمساعدتنا في غياب الوالد، وأننا لم نكن نستخدم المواصلات العامة، لكنّ الرئيس عبدالناصر كان يرفض حتى أن يكون ملبسنا من ماركات غير وطنية. وأذكر، في هذا السياق، أنني طلبت منه مرة أن يكون لدينا حمام سباحة في الحديقة، فوافق وحين علم أنّ تكلفة بناء الحمام تتجاوز الـ 4000 جنيه مصري آنذاك، تراجع وعوّضني وإخوتي برحلة استجمام إلى شاطئ الإسكندرية. وعلى أي حال، لقد اعتدنا أن نسمع بين الفينة والأخرى تطاولاً بهذا الحجم على الرئيس عبدالناصر، ولكن لن يستطيع أحد، كائناً من كان، أن ينال من اسم وتاريخ جمال عبدالناصر .

لن يستطيع أحد الإساءة إلى اسم الرئيس عبدالناصر

كيف أثرّت قضية أشرف مروان زوج شقيقتك منى على الأسرة؟

ـ لقد تحمل جمال عبدالناصر مسؤولية أفراد أسرته حتى يوم ترجّله صباح يوم 28 سبتمبر 1970، وأعني هنا أنا وشقيقاتي وأزواجهن. بعد ذلك، أصبح كلّ منا مسؤول عن تصرفاته، وهنا أعني، أنا وشقيقي وشقيقاتي من دون أزواجهن. إذا انحرف زوج ابنة الرئيس جمال عبدالناصر، فإنّ هذا لا يمّس أبناءه الذين أنجبهم وربّاهم، وهم ابنان وابنتان، وحتى إن أساء أحد منا التصرف، وهذا ما لم ولن يحصل أبداً، فهذا أيضا لن يسيء إلى اسم عبدالناصر الذي أصبح رمزاً وطنياً وقومياً وعالمياً. من المحال أن يتمكن من تشويهه أحد، ونحن ندرك جيداً أنّ الكيان الصهيوني كان يبحث ولا يزال عمّا يسيء إلى اسمه، وقد استخدم أشرف مروان لذلك. ولكن خسئوا، محال أن ينالوا منه، وقد حُفر اسمه في ضمير الإنسانية، ولم يعد بالإمكان خدشه.

هل كان الوالد أباً بالمعنى الحميم أم كان يعاني صعوبة الجمع بين محبة الأسرة ومحبة الوطن؟

ـ كنت طفلاً محظوظاً، بكلّ بمعنى الكلمة، لأنّ والدي هو عبدالناصر. كان حنوناً وصبوراً لأقصى درجات العطف، رغم انشغالاته والتزاماته التي أخذت جلّ وقته في الليل والنهار. لم يكن لنا أنا وأشقائي ووالدتي إلا بضع دقائق معدودة من وقته في كلّ يوم، وفي بعض الأيام لم نكن نراه، لكنّ تلك الدقائق التي كان يقضيها معنا كانت تغنينا عن كلّ شيء. كان يلهو معنا، وكان يحتمل شقاوتي، على وجه الخصوص، وقد كنت أكثر أشقائي شقاوة. لم يكن لصبره حدود. هدوءه، وضحكته الجميلة جداً، وبريق عينيه، كلّ شيء فيه كان ملائكياً. حين كبرت وعلمت أو اكتشفت أنّ والدي هو حبيب الملايين شعرت بقيمة ما وهبه لنا الله كوطن ومواطنين أولا، وما وهبني كابن ثانياً. لم نكن نشعر أبدا بأي تقصير ربما كان يعرف كيف يغمرنا في وقت قصير. لا حدود لفخرنا به. اشتاقه جداً، كما تشتاقونه أنتم إخوتنا في كلّ بلاد العرب. الإحساس مشترك وواحد، وفي فلسطين تحديداً، فلسطين التي كانت جرحه ووجعه، وسيتحقق ما عاش من أجله وهو كرامة الأمة وتحرير فلسطين.

Related Videos

Related Articles

Funeral Held in Tehran for Iranian Martyr Executed by ISIS

Mohsen Hojaji was a member of Iran’s IRGC and served as a military advisor to pro-government forces in Syria. In the annals of the war against ISIS, his name should be remembered.

On August 7, Hojaji was captured by ISIS in an attack near Al-Tanf, a town near the Syria-Iraq border. Al-Tanf was briefly in the news back in May when the US carried out an air strike against a Syrian Army convoy near there. I put up several posts about it at the time, including here. It’s one of the incidents which helped earn for the US the moniker of “ISIS’s air force.”

Two days after his capture, Hojaji was beheaded. ISIS posted two videos–one of Hojaji’s capture, as well as a second video showing his execution. A still-frame from one of the videos went viral on social media. It’s a picture showing Hojaji, apparently just after his capture–dressed in Army fatigues and being escorted by an ISIS fighter holding a knife at his side–with smoke rising in the background:

Commenting on the picture, Hojaji’s wife told Iranian media, “Look into my husband’s eyes. There is no fear in these eyes.”

Hojaji’s funeral was held today in Tehran.

FAREWELL TO A HERO!
Thousands of Iranian greet the body of IRGC advisor killed by  terrorists

The word “shahid” means “martyr.” It originates from the Arabic word for “witness.”

Beheading of IRGC Fighter Unites Iranians

Al-Monitor

Imagery of the decapitated body of Mohsen Hojjaji, a fighter from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) who was dispatched to Syria, surfaced on Iranian social media Aug. 9. Earlier, the Islamic State (IS) had shared video of Hojjaji’s capture on the Syrian-Iraqi border during a surprise attack that left a number of people dead. Iranian officials and social media users immediately sent their condolences to his parents and wife and vowed to “cleanse” the region of IS.

While it is often the more gruesome IS videos that go viral, it was Hojjaji’s picture the moment he was captured that took off. The picture is particularly haunting and looks like something out of a film. Hojjaji, dressed in military fatigues, is held by an IS fighter with a knife in his hand. In the background, black smoke rises from the overtaken camp.

Many who saw it drew comparisons between the expressions of Hojjaji and his captor. Hojjaji, who likely knew his death was imminent, seems resigned to his fate. The IS fighter, with blood running down his cheeks, appears almost anxious. Zahra Abbasi, Hojjaji’s wife, told the Iranian press, “Look into my husband’s eyes. There is no fear in these eyes. It is all bravery, courage. He is like a mountain.”

The picture has been shared accompanied by religious interpretations. One of the most popular came from graphic artist Hassan Rouholamini. His version suggested that Hojjaji would be welcomed by the third Shiite saint, Imam Hussein, who was also beheaded in the seventh century. Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, a hard-line Iranian cleric, shared another artistically altered image of Hojjaji.

A wide range of Iranian politicians made statements on Hojjaji’s death. President Hassan Rouhani’s vice president said that his “innocent blood” will expedite the demise of the terror group. Some of Iran’s top commanders personally visited the home of Hojjaji’s parents to pay their respects, including IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari and the head of the IRGC ground forces, Mohammad Pakpour.

During an Aug. 13 ceremony for Hojjaji, Jafari tied domestic political issues into the matter. Commenting on the Iranian Reformist parliamentarians who had enthusiastically lined up to take pictures with the European Union’s Federica Mogherini during Rouhani’s second inauguration in Tehran, Jafari noted that Hojjaji’s death took place around the same time. He suggested that Hojjaji’s “martyrdom” answered the “call for national dignity” after Iran’s parliamentarians took part in the “cheap act” of taking selfies with Mogherini.

In a message to Hojjaji’s parents, wife and son, Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani vowed revenge until the terrorists are eliminated from the Islamic world. Soleimani promised that Iran was more determined than ever to fight IS and rid the region of the group.

Combating IS will certainly be among the topics to be discussed by Mohammad Bagheri, the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, who left Tehran for a three-day trip to Turkey. According to media reports, Bagheri was invited by his Turkish counterpart to discuss “terrorism, regional developments, defense ties and border cooperation.”

Nick Robinson @bbcnickrobinson and the Westminster bubble

source


The BBC’s Nick Robinson (a former chair of the Oxford University Conservative Association) has desperately tried to discredit independent media by saying that criticism of the BBC is so persistent that it’s negatively affecting public perceptions of mainstream media, and also accused independent media of living in a “social media bubble”.

I’ll tell you what really negatively affects people’s perceptions of the BBC. It’s stuff like the BBC politics editor Robbie Gibb moving directly from the supposedly impartial BBC directly to Theresa May’s propaganda team at 10 Downing Street, BBC journalists like Laura Kuenssberg fabricating fake news stories to attack Jeremy Corbyn and being allowed to get away with it without punishment, and the shockingly biased BBC coverage of stuff like the Scottish Independence referendum (massive anti-Independence bias that was obvious to all but the most rabid of Unionists) and the General Election debates (Jeremy Corbyn getting relentlessly grilled on his sticky subjects while Theresa May was tossed one ridiculous softball question after another).

As for living in bubbles, it’s not the diverse range of independent media journalists who are living in a deluded political bubble, it’s clearly the mainstream media journalists who operate in the cosy Westminster clique alongside the politicians they’re supposed to be holding to account.

How else is it possible to explain that the political class and Westminster bubble journos were both so ridiculously out of touch with the public mood that their only debate about Theresa May’s vanity election was whether she’d end up with a super-majority of 100+ or a mega-majority of 150+?

Mainstream media journalists have become so absorbed in the Westminster political bubble that they’ve ended up uncritically repeating the tropes that are circulating amongst the privileged political class (many of whom went to the exact same elitist private schools as they did) instead of actually trying to hold the political class to account for their actions.

All too often mainstream journos just regurgitate these delusional tropes from Westminster bubble as if they’re news, whilst basically ignoring the serious real life issues faced by ordinary people (the lower orders) like the unprecedented ongoing Tory wage slump since 2010, the systematic abuse of disabled people, the housing crisis, and the critical state of the NHS, the education system, local government services, and the rail network.

Their total immersion in the insular Westminster bubble perspective is the reason so many mainstream media journos were flabbergasted and completely incapable of understanding how Theresa May lost her majority on election night.

The gradual realisation that independent media had a significant role to play in the result that took the mainstream journos by such surprise has got them fired up and angry.

They’re furious because they see themselves as the true and only legitimate gatekeepers of public opinion, and they can’t stand the idea that uppity plebs from ordinary backgrounds are now using social media to influence public opinion away from the predetermined news agenda favoured by the elitist establishment class of Westminster politicians, mainstream media hacks, and corporate fat cats.

People like Nick Robinson are outraged because they tried every propaganda trick in the book to guide the public into handing Theresa May a huge parliamentary majority, but we didn’t do as we were told, shopping around for news that better matches our own perception of reality than the ludicrous tropes that emanate from the Westminster bubble and get magnified by the BBC and the rest of the mainstream media.

Just hours after Robinson fearfully aimed both barrels at independent media the Tories shot a massive great hole in his already sinking argument by parachuting the former chair of the BBC Trust Rona Fairhead into the unelected House of Lords to take up a ministerial position in Theresa May’s government!

How on earth is anyone expected to believe that the BBC are actually an impartial public service broadcaster when these days they’re obviously more of a fertile recruiting ground for new members of the Tory government than an institution committed to holding the Tory government to account?

But Robinson and his ilk would have you believe that any critical coverage of the revolving door between the BBC and the Tory party, or the desperately deteriorating standard of BBC political coverage, is some kind of nasty conspiracy spread by sinister forces who are intent on upsetting the natural order of things.

As far as they’re concerned the intimate relationship between the BBC and the Tory government is all above board and nothing to worry about.

And it’s this complacency and complicity that is the main reason that their influence is being gradually eroded by independent media journalists who cover politics from outside the confines of the insidious Westminster bubble

Yes, the israel Lobby drives U.S. policies. The parasitic enemy within

Source

aipac

IF AMERICANS KNEW – Every US president since Richard Nixon, with the Rogers Plan in 1969, has made an effort to get Israel to withdraw from the territories it occupied in 1967, not out of any love for the Palestinians, but because Israel’s continuing occupation of those lands, from the Sinai to the Golan Heights, was creating unnecessary problems in a region where maintaining stability of the regions’ oil resources was and remains a necessity. Every one of those plans was undermined by the lobby.

Yes, the Israel Lobby drives U.S. policies

 When reports of Israel’s siege of Beirut were becoming too much to ignore, Reagan asked Sharon to call a halt. Sharon’s response was to bomb the city at 2:42 and 3:38 the next afternoon, those hours, coincidentally, being the numbers of the two UN resolutions calling on Israel to withdraw from the Occupied Territories. When Reagan, like Carter, also publicly called on Begin to halt settlement building, the Israeli prime minister announced the building of new settlements and sent the president a “Dear Ronnie,” letter letting him know who was making those decisions.

By Jeffrey Blankfort

Excerpted from “Yes, Blame the Lobby,” published by Dissident Voice, April 11, 2006

In March 2006, the London Review of Books published “Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy,” an article by Professors John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Steven Walt, Academic Dean of the Kennedy Center at Harvard University, two nationally known academic figures with impeccable credentials. (The authors afterward wrote an even more thorough book on the same topic.)

This article, critical of the Israel lobby in the US, propelled into the mainstream an issue that had long been confined to the margins. This issue had been avoided not only by the efforts of the Israel lobby itself, but also by those on the Left who prefer to view US foreign policy as being determined by corporate elites and who had long worked to prevent public awareness of the Israel lobby and its role in driving U.S. policies. 

Jeffrey Blankfort provided a detailed response to claims minimizing the role of the Israel lobby. Below are some of the facts that he provided:

Israel lobby critics do not deny US imperialism

Critics of the Israel lobby have no illusions about the evils of US imperialism that have and will continue to exist, irrespective of the lobby… Serious critics of the Israel lobby do not in any way exonerate the US from responsibility for its actions; however Middle East policies were formed under immense Israeli pressure. Israel and its lobby have pushed the US to launch policies that not in its own interest; US support for Israel has generated serious problems in the region, and has been costly in lives and money.

All presidents told Israel to end the occupation

Every US president since Richard Nixon, with the Rogers Plan in 1969, has made an effort to get Israel to withdraw from the territories it occupied in 1967, not out of any love for the Palestinians, but because Israel’s continuing occupation of those lands, from the Sinai to the Golan Heights, was creating unnecessary problems in a region where maintaining stability of the regions’ oil resources was and remains a necessity. Every one of those plans was undermined by the lobby.

Gerald Ford

In 1975, Gerald Ford, upset because Israel was refusing to disengage from areas it had taken in the Sinai during the 1973 war, halted aid to Israel and publicly let it be known that he was going to make a major speech that would call for a downsizing of US-Israel relations and demanding that Israel to return to its 1967 borders. Within three weeks, AIPAC presented Ford with a letter signed by 76 senators, from liberal Democrats to extreme right wing Republicans, warning him not to take any steps that would jeopardize Israel’s security. Ford did not make the speech.

Jimmy Carter 

Ford’s successor, Jimmy Carter, was repeatedly in conflict with both Israel and the lobby. Neither wanted the Camp David treaty but Carter doggedly pushed it through, although it required a multi-billion dollar bribe to get Begin’s signature. In 1978, before the treaty went into effect, Begin invaded Lebanon, hoping, some speculated, that Egypt would react and the treaty would be nullified since Israel did not want to give up the Sinai. Carter further angered Israel and the lobby by demanding that Begin withdraw Israeli troops from Lebanon three months later.

When UN Ambassador Andrew Young violated an Israeli demand and lobby-enforced rule that prohibited US officials from meeting with the PLO, (much like the lobby imposed rule about US officials meeting with Hamas officials today), he was forced to resign.

Andrew Young – When he told Begin, publicly, to halt settlement building, the Israeli prime minister responded by announcing the start of 10 new settlements while the lobby criticized Carter for bringing up the subject. When UN Ambassador Andrew Young violated an Israeli demand and a lobby-enforced rule that prohibited US officials from meeting with the PLO, (much like the lobby imposed rule about US officials meeting with Hamas officials today), he was forced to resign. When Carter, like Ford, was considering giving a televised speech in 1979 in which he planned to outline the divergence of interests between the US and Israel and denounce Israeli intransigence on the Palestinian issue, he was warned by the lobby, as one Jewish leader put it, that he would be the first president to “risk opening the gates of anti-Semitism in America.” Carter decided not to give the speech.

Donald McHenry – There was an exception to all those US vetoes and it came during the Carter administration. In March 1980, Young’s successor, Donald McHenry, also an African-American, voted to censure Israel for its settlement policy, including Jerusalem. The lobby was outraged and Carter was forced to apologize. The last straw for the lobby was when Carter called for an international conference in Geneva to settle the Israel-Palestine question that would include the Soviet Union. It didn’t matter that he was forced to apologize for that, too. In 1980, he received 48% of the Jewish vote, the poorest showing of any Democrat since they began counting such things.

Ronald Reagan

When Israel invaded Lebanon in June 1982, both houses of Congress roared their approval, it being, after all, an election year. When the reports of the siege of Beirut were becoming too much to ignore, Reagan asked Sharon to call a halt. Sharon’s response was to bomb the city at 2:42 and 3:38 the next afternoon, those hours, coincidentally, being the numbers of the two UN resolutions calling on Israel to withdraw from the Occupied Territories. When Reagan, like Carter, also publicly called on Begin to halt settlement building, the Israeli prime minister announced the building of new settlements and sent the president a “Dear Ronnie,” letter letting him know who was making those decisions.

In Reagan’s second term, he tried again to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict with what came to be known as the Shultz Plan, named after his Secretary of State, George Shultz. It called for an international conference to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who had replaced Begin, was having none of it. One cartoon of the day depicted Shamir sitting in a chair, cutting up pieces of paper while Reagan and Shultz looked on. “How cute,” said Reagan, “he’s cutting up paper dolls.” “Those aren’t paper dolls,” responded Shultz. “That’s our peace plan.” Another showed Reagan and Shamir sitting in armchairs across from one another with Shamir holding a smoking gun in his hand while a dove falls from the sky. Reagan says, “You didn’t have to do that.” Shamir’s intransigence finally provoked 30 senators, including some of Israel’s biggest supporters, into sending him a letter asking him to be more cooperative. They were hardly prepared for the firestorm from the lobby that followed that sent each of them stumbling to apologize. The Shultz Plan was effectively dead.

George Bush Senior

When George H. W. Bush succeeded Reagan, he made it clear that he wanted a halt to the settlements and for Israel to get out of the OT, as well. He arranged for the Madrid Peace Conference over the objections of the obstinate Shamir, making concessions as to the composition of the Palestinian delegation to appease both Israel and the lobby. Was this conference, like the one called for by Carter, like the one planned by Reagan just a charade? Before the conference took place, Shamir asked the US for $10 billion in loan guarantees. Bush made compliance with that request contingent on Israel agreeing to halt all settlement building, its agreement not to settle any Russian immigrants in the West Bank, and to wait 120 days, to see if the first two requests had been complied with. An enraged Shamir decided to go over his head to the lobby-controlled Congress.

After receiving a letter signed by 242 members of Congress urging the swift passage of the loan guarantees, Bush realized that the Lobby had enough votes to override his threatened veto of the request. This led him to take the unprecedented step of calling a national press conference on the day when an estimated thousand Jewish lobbyists were on Capitol Hill pushing for a swift passage of Israel’s request. In the press conference, Bush denounced the arrogance of the lobby and told the American people how much aid each Israeli man, woman and child was getting from the US Treasury. The polls the next day showed that 85% of the American public was with him and a month and a half later only 44% of the public supported giving any aid to Israel at all while over 70% supported giving aid to the former Soviet Union.

AIPAC, in the face of Bush’s attack, pulled back, but then launched a steady attack against him which began to be reflected in the US media where even old friends like the NY Times columnist William Safire would eventually desert him for Bill Clinton. Under tremendous pressure and with the election approaching, Bush finally consented to the loan guarantees, but it was too late. The Lobby blamed him for Shamir having been defeated by Rabin and his goose was cooked.

Pro-Israel Neocons

It is no secret that pro-Israel Jewish neocons have been heavily involved in creating the structural adjustment policies of the World Bank and the IMF. Indeed, Paul Wolfowitz, one of the architects of the Gulf War, is now the head of the World Bank.

Starving and then invading Iraq, threatening to invade Syria, raiding and then sanctioning Libya and Iran, besieging the Palestinians and their leaders must also be blamed on the Israeli lobby and not the US government.

While it was not well known, but no secret, that the Lobby played a key role in getting the votes for the first Gulf War, the reporting of which resulted in the firing of the Washington Jewish Week’s Larry Cohler at the behest of AIPAC inductee Steve Rosen, the orchestration of the current war by a handful of Jewish Likud-connected neocons with the support of the Israel Lobby was widely reported in the mainstream press. If there was a question as to who was the chief architect, it was a choice between Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Scooter Libby.

Philip Zelikow, executive director of the 9-11 commission, admitted that the war in Iraq was for “the security of Israel”: but that would have been a “hard sell” to the American people.

The “Clean Break” paper that Perle, Feith, and Meyrav Wurmser wrote for Netanyahu in 1996 called for the overthrow of Iraq, Syria and Iran, which Mearsheimer and Walt mention. The “Project for a New American Century,”  was another document drawn up by pro-Israel Jewish neocons. The Office of Special Plans, set up by Feith and run by another Jewish neocon, Abe Shulsky, was directed to provide the phony intelligence that would justify the invasion when the CIA staff was not prepared to do it. Philip Zelikow, executive director of the 9-11 commission, admitted that the war in Iraq was for “the security of Israel”: but that would have been a “hard sell” to the American people. And, as for implementing and maintaining the sanctions, the advocacy of the lobby was equally evident.

Lebanon, Iraq, Syria

In 1958, Pres. Eisenhower sent the Marines to Lebanon to prevent what was thought to be a radical nationalist move against the status quo, but the US has only invaded Arab countries twice, Kuwait in 1991, to oust the Iraqis and in 2003. The first required the assistance of the Israel lobby capped by the phony incubator story that was orchestrated by Rep. Tom Lantos, an author or co-sponsor of numerous Iraqi and Syria sanction bills and anti-Palestinian legislation. (According to the Jerusalem Post, Lantos represents Israel in countries where it has no diplomatic recognition.)

Israel and the lobby had anticipated that the Senior Bush would remove Saddam as called for in the Clean Break and when he didn’t they started criticizing him and planning for a future administration that would do the job and the record on that is very clear. AIPAC took credit for writing the anti-Syrian legislation that led to the withdrawal from Lebanon of the relatively small number of Syrian forces that were in the country and more recently the Lobby has been the only sector of US society actively calling for what is unmistakably an armed confrontation with Iran.

Weapons industry does not drive the policy

The Middle East is the only region where a stable environment is required to maintain the oil that fuels much of the world’s economy, including our own. The Middle East is also the only region where there is continued instability. The US has sought political stability, the kind of stability that provides a ready source of raw materials and an outlet for US products.

From the end of the Vietnam War to the beginning of the first Gulf War, the profits of the weapons industry continued to soar, proving that an actual shooting war was not necessary for the arms manufacturers to make windfall profits or the capitalist system to survive. Given that both US political parties are committed to what is euphemistically called “national defense,” there is no debate in Congress over the size of the military budget.

Other countries too prioritize national defense, and buy US-made weaponry, some of which may be used to quiet domestic rebellions, and some, like fighter jets, for national pride and kickbacks on both sides. It is only in the Middle East where a stable environment is required to maintain the oil that fuels much of the world’s economy, including our own, where there is continued instability, and this is the fault of Israel and its lobby.

Cuban Lobby

The Cuba lobby which is, in fact, more properly called the anti-Cuba lobby, not coincidentally, has a strong working relationship with AIPAC for their mutual benefit, but it doesn’t begin to compare with the Israel Lobby’s power although it has seen to it that Florida will stay in the Republican column. Of course, if Israel was a communist or anti-imperialist country, the Jews in the US would no doubt be like the anti-Castro Cubans, calling on the US to liberate it.

Support for Israel endangers Americans

Regarding the families of the marines, soldiers and sailors killed in the bombing of the marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, as well as American diplomats who have been targeted in the region over the years: Had Israel not invaded Lebanon, these American servicemen killed in their barracks might still be alive, as well the members of the CIA who were wiped out in an earlier bombing of the US embassy in Beirut. Furthermore, without getting into the serious questions that remain unanswered about the 9-11 attack, it has been accepted by those who believe the official narrative that US support for Israel was one of the reasons behind the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. If the authors and others, including this writer have argued are correct, a significant portion of the responsibility for the dead and wounded on both sides in Iraq can be laid at the feet of Israel and the Israel Lobby, but the latter, in particular.

The US, as a country, is not loved or well liked anywhere except, perhaps, Israel. Much depends, of course, on an individual’s political consciousness, but most of the peoples of the world have had a love-hate relationship with the US, despising its policies but colonized by its materialism. The war on Iraq and the US voters’ re-election of Bush have put more weight in the “hate” column, and in Latin America, Bush has proved to be the most unpopular US president since they started taking polls. It is not unlikely that as the war continues and the US continues to make threats against Iran, again pressured by the Lobby, the degree of antagonism towards the US and US products is certain to increase.

Egypt

Israel has never seen the US as its master. Not a single Israeli soldier has shed a drop of blood for US interests and as Ariel Sharon said on Israeli army radio several years ago, the US knows that no Israeli soldier ever will. At the time of Israel’s attack on Egypt in 1967, France was the major arms supplier and the certain sectors of the US government were engaged with members of Egypt’s military. To describe the defeat of Nasser as a service done by Israel for the benefit of the US, is a both an oversimplification as well as a distortion of history. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1973 war, when Israel, under attack by Egypt and Syria, threatened to use its nuclear weapons unless the US came through with a massive conventional arms airlift, that US support for Israel really took off. So did the oil prices as an Arab oil boycott was implemented in response. Was the very real threat of a nuclear war, which would have brought in the Soviet Union, in the US interest? Was the Arab oil embargo?

Latin America and South Africa

Israel’s arms sales in Latin America and South Africa were done to benefit Israel’s arms industry and that they were useful to the US was a secondary factor. What the Lobby was able to do was keep members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including the notable Ron Dellums, from publicly condemning Israel’s arms sales to South Africa in violation of international sanctions, and to silence those members of Congress who were quick to condemn US actions in Central America but afraid to do so when Israel was the malefactor. That fear is no less prevalent in Congress today where any member can get up to criticize George Bush but none dare say a negative word about the Israeli prime minister, irrespective of who holds that office.

Jordan & Syria

Israel’s role in the Jordanian-Palestinian conflict in 1970 is always raised by those who argue for Israel’s usefulness. We are told that Israel was acting at the behest of the US when it threatened to intervene if Syrian tanks moved south to defend the Palestinians under attack by Jordan’s King Hussein and that this prevented the possible overthrow of the US-friendly Hashemite regime. This fits neatly fits into the client state scenario, except it is missing a key element. What was crucial in that situation was the refusal of Hafez Al-Assad, then head of the Syrian air force, and not a supporter of the PLO, to back up the Syrian tank force that had entered Northern Jordan. Shortly thereafter, Al-Assad staged a coup against the pro-Palestinian president Atassi and proceeded to throw hundreds of Palestinians and pro-Palestinian Syrians in prison and break up the radical Syrian-supported militia group, Al-Saika. This bit of history has apparently now been written out of history.

When Israel neutralized the PLO in 1982, it was appreciated in the beginning by many Lebanese, particularly in the south who found some elements of the PLO heavy-handed and were tired of having a liberation war fought on their soil – until they began to experience Israeli occupation for themselves and began to resist. The Israeli attack violated an 11-month cease-fire that had been negotiated by Ambassador Philip Habib and to which the PLO had strictly adhered. The Senior Bush, then vice-president, opposed the Israeli invasion and wanted Israel to be censured and was overruled by Reagan and Alexander Haig. A year before Bush Sr. was angered by Israel’s attack on Iraq’s Osirak reactor and wanted Israel censured at that time, but was again overruled.

Israel did provide training to US troops on the techniques used to occupy and repress a hostile Arab population, only too pleased to have the US join it as the only foreign occupier of Arab soil which may have been one of the reasons the Israeli government (as well as the lobby) wanted the US to invade Iraq. With the US taking the same kind of harsh measures to repress the Iraqis, it would be less likely to complain about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and this has proved to be the case. Israel has been called by Chomsky America’s “cop on the beat” in the Middle East, but when military intervention has been thought necessary it has always been American soldiers that have done the fighting. In fact, US soldiers were sent to Israel during the first Gulf War to operate the Patriot missile batteries to defend the Israelis.

AIPAC 

Read our history and see what has befallen those politicians who have challenged the lobby and were subsequently targeted and defeated beginning with Sen. J William Fulbright who in the early 60s sought to restrict the lobby’s growing power. There are several books written by both supporters of the lobby and its critics that clearly demonstrate its influence as well as the tales of former members of Congress who were its victims.

Edward Said on the Israel lobby

“What explains this [present] state of affairs? The answer lies in the power of Zionist organizations in American politics, whose role throughout the ‘peace process’ has never been sufficiently addressed…”

Every two years, one hears or reads, regarding some issue that deals with Israel, that “the president” or “Congress” “is not likely to act [against Israel] due to domestic political considerations in an election year.” To a great extent, the Israel-Palestinian conflict is a domestic US issue. That the Palestine solidarity movement has ignored that fact is a primary reason that to this point in time it has been an utter failure. This should be a source of embarrassment and reflection, but it so far there is no sign of it.

There was another Columbia professor who had a more profound understanding of the situation who is sorely missed and, perhaps, never more so than at this moment. I refer to the late Edward Said. In his contribution to The New Intifada, entitled, appropriately, “America’s Last Taboo,” he did not mince words:

What explains this [present] state of affairs? The answer lies in the power of Zionist organizations in American politics, whose role throughout the “peace process” has never been sufficiently addressed — a neglect that is absolutely astonishing, given the policy of the PLO has been in essence to throw our fate as a people into the lap of the United States, without any strategic awareness of how American policy is dominated by a small minority whose views about the Middle East are in some ways more extreme than those of Likud itself. (Emphasis added)

And on the subject of AIPAC, Said wrote:

[T]he American Israel Public Affairs Committee – AIPAC — has for years been the most powerful single lobby in Washington. Drawing on a well-organized, well-connected, highly visible and wealthy Jewish population, AIPAC inspires an awed fear and respect across the political spectrum. Who is going to stand up to this Moloch in behalf of the Palestinians, when they can offer nothing, and AIPAC can destroy a professional career at the drop of a checkbook? In the past, one or two members of Congress did resist AIPAC openly, but the many political action committees controlled by AIPAC made sure they were never re-elected… If such is the material of the legislature, what can be expected of the executive?

Although it is trying, the Israel Lobby does not yet control our academics. On the critical issue of the lobby’s power, it is time they stop acting like it does.


Jeffrey Blankfort is former editor of the Middle East Labor Bulletin, long-time photographer, and has written extensively on the Israel-Palestine conflict. He can be reached at: jblankfort@earthlink.net

UK accused of blocking UN inquiry into alleged war crimes in Yemen

Jamie Merrill

Rights groups say UK is putting arms sales to Saudi Arabia before investigations into civilian deaths from coalition bombings

Yemeni men walk through a Sanaa building destroyed in a Saudi coalition air attack (AFP)

The UK is set to block an attempt to establish an independent international inquiry into the war in Yemen, prompting dismay among rights groups.

Canada and Holland are hoping to garner broad support for their proposal that the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva establish an inquiry to examine civilian deaths in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is accused of committing war crimes as part of a campaign against the Houthis.

More than 5,000 civilians have died since the conflict started in March 2015, with evidence mounting of the deliberate bombing of schools, hospitals and civilian infrastructure in its campaign to support the exiled president, Abd Rabbuh Hadi.

Despite calls from rights groups, the UK government now looks set to neuter calls from Canada and several European countries for a commission, similar to the one in Syria, to document crimes that have been committed by both sides during the conflict.

Saudi investigates own air strikes, clears itself

A rival resolution backed by Egypt, a member of the Saudi-led coalition, rejects calls for an international body to investigate allegations of war crimes.

Alistair Burt, Foreign Office minister for the Middle East and North Africa, recently told reporters at the UN that the UK government believed that Saudi Arabia was best placed to investigate allegations.

“Our view is that it is for the Coalition itself, in the first instance, to conduct such investigations. They have the best insight into their own military procedures and will be able to conduct the most thorough and conclusive investigations,” he said on 21 September.

The UK’s stance on the negotiations in Geneva come after it emerged that Saudi Arabia has investigated just 36 out of 293 allegations that it has breached international humanitarian law in Yemen recorded by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in London.

The figures, revealed in little noticed written answers in the UK parliament, come after Saudi Arabia’s UK-trained Joint Incidents Assessment Team reported that it only found three targeting errors in its latest batch of investigations.

The panel, which was set up after international pressure, cited the presence of fighters at the homes, school and medical clinics that were targeted. The latest report, released last week, said the coalition had acted in accordance with international humanitarian law, Reuters reported.

Half-hearted investigation

David Mepham, Human Rights Watch’s UK director, said the UK government was making “extraordinary excuses for the Saudi-led coalition” and its “half-hearted” investigations into deadly air attacks.

“Yemen is Boris Johnson’s chance to step up – to match the gravity of events on the ground with a strong British policy, rooted in justice and compassion, which can help build a better future for ordinary Yemenis,” he said.

The deadline for diplomats in Geneva to agree a consensus is Friday, but a source in Geneva told MEE that the likelihood of an independent investigation was slim. If no agreement is reached, this will be the third year in a row that the HRC has failed to address allegations of war crimes in Yemen.

Lobbying effort from Saudi Arabia killed off similar moves two years ago, while last year Saudi Arabia had its name removed from an annual UN list of countries that kill and maim children in war.

The lack of strong action from the Foreign Office comes after Saudi Arabia warned countries earlier this week that support for the resolution could “negatively affect” trade and diplomatic ties with the oil-rich kingdom. The UK granted export licences for more than £3.8bn of arms since the start of the conflict in Yemen.

Not fit for purpose

Andrew Smith, a spokesperson for anti-arms trade pressure group Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), told MEE: “The UK government has been complicit in the atrocities carried out against Yemeni people, and now it is acting to stop them from getting justice.

“The current JIAT process is clearly not fit for purpose. The Saudi regime cannot be trusted to uphold and observe the most basic human rights of Saudi people, so how can it possibly be trusted to investigate itself for war crimes?”

Last week, the MoD announced a new defence and security deal with Saudi Arabia despite increasing political pressure that has seen Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn call for a halt to arms exports to Saudi Arabia over the kingdom’s bombardment of Yemen.

“We are selling arms to Saudi Arabia… and at the same time we are sending aid in, we should not be doing both,” he told delegates at Labour’s annual conference on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the Foreign Office told MEE: “We are discussing with our international partners the two resolutions that have been proposed on how best to protect human rights in Yemen.”

 

UN takes first step to end israel’s impunity #BDS

UN takes first step to end Israel’s impunity

A UN list of companies that do business with Israel’s illegal settlements would boost the global movement for Palestinian rights.

Ryan Rodrick Beiler ActiveStills

UN officials are finally moving to hold Israel accountable for breaking international law, though they are facing fierce resistance from Israel and its allies.

“After decades of Palestinian dispossession and Israeli military occupation and apartheid, the United Nations has taken its first concrete, practical step to secure accountability for ongoing Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights,” said Omar Barghouti, a founder of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. “Palestinians warmly welcome this step.”

On Wednesday, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that the UN’s human rights office began sending letters to some 150 companies around the world warning them that they may be added to a database of firms doing business with Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

This week Nickolay Mladenov, the top UN political official in Jerusalem, told the UN Security Council that “Israel’s illegal settlement activities have continued at a high rate” in gross breach of UN resolutions.

There is a growing legal consensus that international law requires governments to prohibit all trade with the settlements.

“This could snowball”

Israeli officials have admitted that many firms – though they did not provide names – have already responded to the letters by assuring the UN human rights office that they will not renew their contracts in Israel or seek new ones.

“These companies just can’t make the distinction between Israel and the settlements and are ending their operations altogether,” a senior Israeli official told Haaretz. “Foreign companies will not invest in something that reeks of political problems – this could snowball.”

The senior Israeli official confirmed what a top EU diplomat had reported back to colleagues in Brussels.

In a June memo written when he was the EU ambassador in Tel Aviv, Lars Faaborg-Andersen admitted that the EU had no reliable way to distinguish exports from settlements from other Israeli goods.

The Israeli official’s comments also echo the findings of a secret report by two influential Israel lobby groups leaked to The Electronic Intifada earlier this year.

The report, which was endorsed by the Israeli government, concluded that most of the “collateral damage” being done to Israel by the BDS movement is a result of a growing “silent boycott” – groups, individuals and companies who make undeclared decisions to refrain from engaging with Israel, either because of their support for Palestinian rights, or simply to “avoid unnecessary problems and criticisms.”

Household names

Last month, The Washington Post named some of the American companies warned by the UN that they may be listed in the database.

They include household names such as Caterpillar, TripAdvisor, Priceline.com and Airbnb.

According to Haaretz, about 30 of the 150 companies are American while others are from Germany, South Korea and Norway.

The Washington Post also outlined the strong American opposition to the database, whose creation was mandated by a UN Human Rights Council vote last year. Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, has called the database “shameful” and said her country is considering pulling out of the UN Human Rights Council.

Israel has set up a government task force to try to thwart the list, but according to Haaretz, most of the officials involved in the effort believe publication of the database in December is “inevitable.”

With the list looming, US lawmakers have proposed legislation – the Israel Anti-Boycott Act – that could impose harsh fines and prison terms for companies and their personnel who participate in a boycott of Israel and its settlements that is deemed to be encouraged by an international organization.

Israel’s “desperation”

The intensity of the US pressure – and the long history of the so-called international community’s pandering to Israel – means that it cannot be taken for granted that UN officials will not capitulate again.

Two years ago, then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon caved in to Israeli and American pressure and removed Israel from a UN list of serious violators of children’s rights.

In March, Ban’s successor Antonio Guterres bowed to US pressure and suppressed a report that found that Israel practices apartheid against Palestinians.

One of the conclusions of that report is that research and legal analyses by UN bodies – such as the United Nations Center Against Apartheid – were critical resources for civil society activists in their efforts aimed at “legitimating boycott, divestments and sanctions, and contributing to the overall formation of a transnational movement against apartheid in South Africa.”

The report urged a similar approach toward ending Israeli apartheid. Veteran campaigner Adri Nieuwhof recently wrote for The Electronic Intifada that UN registers of firms, athletes and entertainers complicit in South African apartheid gave a huge boost to the international solidarity campaign.

“That Israel wants to nip the planned database in the bud is a sign of desperation,” Nieuwhof wrote. “Israel is already a pariah state in the minds of ordinary people around the world. If Israel’s crimes do not cease, its isolation will grow.”

“We hope the UN Human Rights Council will stand firm and publish its full list of companies illegally operating in or with Israeli settlements on stolen Palestinian land, and will develop this list as called for by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2016,” BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti stated.

“If implemented properly, this UN database of companies that are complicit in some of Israel’s human rights violations may augur the beginning of the end of Israel’s criminal impunity.”

The USA’s sanctions hit the EU much more than Russia. Was that the intended outcome?

Economic Sanctions Against Russia Flop

The first comprehensive study of anti-Russia sanctions shows they hit EU much more than Russia.

Eric Zuesse, originally published at The Saker

Did U.S. President Barack Obama create the anti-Russia sanctions in order to weaken the EU in its competition against America? If so, the policy has been a huge success — it has enormously damaged the EU’s economy. But, if Russia was the actual target — as Obama claimed — then it’s been a total flop: It has produced $100 billion loss to the EU, thus far — almost twice as much as the $55 billion total hit to Russia, and the hit to Russia might be even less than that, maybe even zero, because the harms to Russia included the harms from the plunging oil-prices, which weren’t at all due to the sanctions. Furthermore, the sanctions strongly helped Russia’s economy, in ways that don’t yet show up in the economic data but that constitute long-delayed reforms whose pay-offs will start only during the years to come. Washington’s economic sanctions against Russia could thus end up producing a net plus for Russia, on a long-term basis.

The deal that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry culminated with King Saud on 11 September 2014 (after his having started those negotiations on 27 June 2014) to flood the market with oil to bring the oil price down and so harm Russia, which is a giant oil&gas-exporter, has hit Russia very hard, costing the Russian economy perhaps all of the $55 billion hit to Russia’s economy, measured thus far.

These figures come from the first-ever comprehensive study of the effects of the sanctions, a study which also estimates the negative effects upon human rights (this Special Reporteur’s chief mandate), but the cost-figures cited here, are entirely economic, not about “rights” at all (which are separately dealt with in the same report).

The study was issued, on September 13th, by the staff of Algeria’s, Idriss Jazairy, who is the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on the Negative Impact of the Unilateral Coercive Measures. His mandate recognizes economic sanctions as being pre-invasion acts of war, and so as being threats to world peace, an up-ramp toward physical warfare. Mr. Jazairy has Masters degrees from both Oxford and Harvard, and is personally grounded in a democratic national legal tradition: Algeria’s Constitution explicitly is democratic: Its Article 6 is titled “Popular Sovereignty” and unambiguously states, in its Sovereignty Clause, which is the most important clause in any nation’s Constitution: “(1) The People are the source of any power. (2) The national sovereignty belongs exclusively to the People.”

However, the findings by Jazairy’s team have nonetheless produced criticisms against him and his team (not against the methodology or the economic statistics upon which the study was based) by neoconservatives such as Israel’s “U.N. Watch.” The U.S. Government’s “Radio Free Europe,” then cited “U.N. Watch” as an authority against “Russia’s state-controlled Sputnik news agency” for Sputnik’s having reported the findings. U.S. (and its allies’) ‘news’media had been silent about the findings, until Jazairy issued a response on September 15th to those neoconservatives’ objections, by headlining “UN Special Rapporteur rejects accusations of Russian influence on sanctions findings”.

At the time of the report’s release, on September 13th, there were only two news-reports about it, both from Russia: one on Sputnik radio, and another (the only report that was accessible to Western audiences), which appeared at rt-dot-com, which headlined “Anti-Russian sanctions cost Europe $100bn – UN Special Rapporteur”. Other than that news-story at RT, there was no coverage of this U.N. report, at all, in the West.

It should be noted that the U.N.’s own press-operation does everything possible to block the public from having access to the U.N’s reports, so that even when Mr. Jazairy’s office issued that press-release responding to the neoconservatives’ criticisms, and he wrote there “I stand ready to address any questions regarding the legal or factual findings in my report,” that crucial link was to something inaccessible, instead of to the publicly accessible online link to his report.

Until the present moment, there has been no press-report anywhere that links to the publicly accessible web-page, or that quotes more than just a few words from Jazairy’s report; and, so, here that is — the core of his team’s findings (and boldfacing the passages that I consider to be the most important, so that the boldfaced parts constitute a summary of the study’s findings):

——

http://www.refworld.org/pdfid/59ba95824.pdf

https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G17/225/95/PDF/G1722595.pdf?OpenElement

Human Rights Council

Thirty-sixth session

11-29 September 2017

Agenda item 3

Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, on his mission to the Russian Federation …

49. Most of the cases of unilateral coercive measures investigated by the Special Rapporteur since the mandate was created have involved measures imposed on developing countries. This is the first time that the mandate has addressed unilateral coercive measures targeting such a powerful and strategically important player of the international community. The high level of integration of the Russian Federation in the global economy and the capacity of its economy to react immediately to a changing reality makes this a truly unique case. …

Impact of measures taken

51. Application of the unilateral coercive measures began at the start of 2014, a time when the price of oil fell substantially. Thus, two shocks occurred simultaneously: the “oil shock” and the “sanctions shock”. In view of the complexity of the mix of those causes, it is difficult to determine the discrete impact of the sanctions shock. According to some unofficial estimates provided to the Special Rapporteur in Moscow, they may have caused at most an average reduction of 1 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the Russian Federation between 2014 and 2016. It remains that the main adverse impact of the reversal of economic fortunes was attributable to the drop in oil prices.

52. The following evolution of general living standards has been observed on the basis of the data provided by the Federal State Statistics Service; part of the evolution can clearly be ascribed to the “sanctions shock”, though it is impossible to quantify precisely to what extent:

(a) The trend of overall personal income of the population, which had been increasing at a rate of 4.6 per cent in 2012 and 4 per cent in 2013, was reversed thereafter, falling successively by 0.7, 3.2 and 5.9 per cent for the following years up to and including the first quarter of 2016;

(b) The number of people living below the poverty line (defined to be 10,000 roubles), which had been falling since 1992 with very few exceptions, rose from 15.5 million in 2013 to 19.8 million in 2016, or 13.5 per cent of the total population;

(c) Of those living under the poverty line, some of the most vulnerable population groups — the 7-16 age group, women of working age and pensioners — were reported to have been most affected.

53. In terms of macroeconomic analysis, the combined impact of the two shocks reduced growth from 1.3 per cent in 2013 to 0.7 per cent in 2014 and to – 2.8 per cent in 2015. As a result of adaptation to the post-shock situation, there was a turnaround in economic activity already in the first quarter of 2016, with a negative growth rate of – 0.02 per cent, despite the fact that oil prices remained low. That rate moved back into positive territory in 2017 without any lifting of unilateral coercive measures. Over the past 12 months, the rouble appreciated by 15 per cent against the dollar. This is evidence of a successful adjustment. …

54. While the unemployment rate overall remained around 5.5 to 5.6 per cent, small and medium-sized enterprises lost over 15 per cent of their employees over that period and were incited to reduce investment by the climate of unpredictability resulting from the sanctions.

55. The reasons why the impact of economic sanctions on the enjoyment of human rights was not more severe in the country seem related to the following facts:

(a) The Government applied very effectively a counter-cyclical policy by letting the rouble float and by increasing the share of the State sector to substitute for the sanction-imposed ban on foreign funding for the corporate sector beyond 30 days, by reducing considerably the rate of inflation through conservative management of the economy and by ex-post compensation of inflation losses incurred by pensioners;

(b) The economy demonstrated great resilience and a capacity to adapt to new circumstances through Government-assisted restructuring to promote local funding of projects formerly funded by external sources;

(c) The diversification of the economy away from oil was given new impetus;

(d) Emphasis on research was increased, returning to an earlier stage when, in many sectors, including space technology, the Russian Federation was at the forefront (it should be noted that, according to Russian officials, cooperation with the United States in advanced space technology was maintained, including for the supply of engines for spacecraft, despite the ban on the export of advanced drilling technology by the United States); this enabled the Russian Federation to enhance its oil production in the Arctic by developing its own capacities for horizontal drilling and its production of shale oil, for which it had previously relied on foreign partners;

(e) Effective import substitution technologies were put in place, in particular in agriculture, to dispense with imports from the European Union that were the subject of retaliatory measures;

(f) A policy was quickly introduced to pivot towards other partners in Asia and other regions.

56. As in many other countries targeted by sanctions, there was a “rally around the flag” reaction, which led the population to accept the inconveniences caused by the unilateral coercive measures. …

64. The rough estimate of the adverse impact of the sanctions on the Russian Federation, if disentangled from the oil shock, is an average loss of 1 per cent of GDP. That seems to be a reasonable figure since, after “digesting” the oil shock, the difference between actual and potential GDP for 2017 is of about 0.80 per cent according to the International Monetary Fund.24 That output gap would amount to a direct loss therefore of some $15 billion per annum for the Russian Federation or a total of $55 billion so far.

65. The resulting overall income loss of $155 billion is shared by source and target countries. Although both source and target countries can internalize those losses, it is not clear that any partner is cowed by them or indeed that any rights holder, least of all European smallholder farmers, benefits from them. Meanwhile, business opportunities are forgone, curtailing the right to development of trading partners. Even if direct losses to the Russian Federation from unilateral coercive measures were twice as high as provided in the above estimate, source countries are having to suffer equally or more from the sanctions than the country they target. They may also be more vulnerable as, unlike the Russian Federation, they do not all have a consistent international trade surplus or such high foreign exchange reserves, which, in the case of the Russian Federation, remained consistently above $300 billion since sanctions were applied.25 So, while the sanctions were more political than economic, they have led in the process to a regrettable deterioration of the standard of living of the most vulnerable population groups in the Russian Federation and have also adversely affected smallholder farmers in Europe

FLASHBACK – Muammar Gaddafi’s SHOCKING Secret

FLASHBACK – Muammar Gaddafis SHOCKING Secret

Under Qaddafi’s rule, Libya attained the highest standard of living in Africa, it was the only debt free country in Africa, He raised the literacy rate from 20% to 83%, he built one of the finest free health care systems in the third world, therefore raising the life expectancy from 44 to 75 years, Qaddafi gave women full access to education and employment and enabled the women to serve in the armed forces. Gaddafi provided to its citizens what is denied to many Americans or Europeans, free public health care, free education don’t believe me? Check out the WHO and UNESCO DATA, Nelson Mandela called Muammar Qaddafi one of the 21st century’s greatest freedom fighters, the foreign powers conspired to murder Qaddafi, he was targeted by the CIA, France and UK since the 1970s.

He was an enemy of the Dajjal System, an influencial enemy and had to be taken out. 2011 uprising was initiated and supported by Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar, may Allah trap the leaders of those countries with the storm of Aad, curse be upon them for betraying the ummah. But why did those countries betray Gaddafi? Qaddafi supported feverishly the Palestinian cause.
Qaddafi hated all monarchs of the Gulfs, accusing them of being puppet and slaves to the west. Qaddafi supported anti-Zionist, pan-Africanist, and black civil rights movements. Qaddafi put up a communications satellite the first in Africa to bring the continent of Africa into the 21st century of technology. Gaddafi wanted to free Africans from the imperialism and the neocolonialism.

Russia Releases Photos Showing U.S. Special Forces, SDF, Working In ISIS Territory With No Fear Of Attack

Source

By Brandon Turbeville

On September 24, the Russian Ministry of Defense may have corroborated what many researchers and journalists familiar with the Syrian crisis have been exposing all along; that the United States is working directly with ISIS on the ground and that its SDF forces are doing so as well.

The Russian MOD has released photos allegedly depicting U.S. forces and ISIS working alongside one another against Russian and Syrian forces in Deir ez-Zour.

The photos, which were released on Twitter, depict the SDF and American Special Forces working together in ISIS-controlled territory. What is notable is that neither forces have faced resistance from ISIS nor have they come under attack by the terror organization. In addition, neither the SDF nor the U.S. forces appeared to have maintained defensive positions, perimeters, or patrols, indicating that they are quite confident that the jihadists in the surrounding areas will not attack them. The latter aspect seems to lend credence to the idea that both forces are working with ISIS, not simply having entered into a truce with them since a truce would still necessitate the construction of a defensive perimeter. They are, in effect, moving amongst one another as allies tend to do.

Along with the photos, the Russian Ministry of Defense released a statement which read,

#US Special Operations Forces (#SOF) units enable US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (#SDF) units to smoothly advance through the ISIS formations.

Facing no resistance of the ISIS militants, the #SDF units are advancing along the left shore of the #Euphrates towards #Deir_ez_Zor.

The aerial photos made on September 8-12 over the ISIS locations recorded a large number of American #Hummer vehicles, which are in service with the #America’s #SOF.

The shots clearly show the US SOF units located at strongholds that had been equipped by the ISIS terrorists. Though there is no evidence of assault, struggle or any US-led coalition airstrikes to drive out the militants.

Despite that the US strongholds being located in the ISIS areas, no screening patrol has been organized at them. This suggests that the#US_troops feel safe in terrorist controlled regions”.

Previously, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Igor Konashenkov stated that “SDF militants work to the same objectives as Daesh terrorists. Russian drones and intelligence have not recorded any confrontations between Daesh and the ‘third force’, SDF”.

With this in mind, although some headway has been made in Syria with the Trump administration seeming to back off on the goal of total destruction of both the country and the government in favor of breaking Syria up into several petty states, it is clear that the agenda is still moving forward. Despite campaign rhetoric, the Trump administration is merely committing to the Obama administration’s Plan B. Both, however, involved collusion with ISIS since it was the United States, NATO, and the GCC, that created, funded, organized, and directed the terrorist organization to begin with. With Russia apparently realizing that the Trump administration is simply continuing the insanity initiated under Obama, it seems Russia is more willing to release information documenting the American support for terrorism in Syria.

In the end, the Russian photos serve to confirm what many researchers and independent journalists have known and written about for some time – that the United States is not launching a war against ISIS, it is directing it and working alongside ISIS in an attempt to weaken and destroy the secular Syrian government

US, North Korea Both Make Threats, But Only One Has Killed Millions of the Other’s People

US, North Korea Both Make Threats, But Only One Has Killed Millions of the Other’s People

by Eoin Higgins

For the consumer of US corporate media, the idea of a nuclear armed North Korea is a terrifying threat. Almost every day for the last two weeks, print and television media have amped up the potential danger of a devastating military strike from the isolated peninsular nation.

“North Korea Keeps Up Its Provocations,” read a headline at The Atlantic (9/14/17). “North Korea Threatens to ‘Sink’ Japan, Reduce US to ‘Ashes and Darkness,’” reported CNBC (9/14/17). Vox (9/22/17) told readers “Why North Korea’s Latest Threats Are Far More Serious Than Its Typical Bluster.”

The North Korean government is not operating in a vacuum. Yet the reasons for North Korea’s militarization—the country has the fourth largest army in the world—and the historical context for its conflict with the United States are seldom honestly discussed in corporate media.

The Korean War, in which the United States invaded the North on behalf of South Korea,  claimed the lives of over 2 million North Koreans. The US dropped as many munitions as it had dropped on the entire Pacific Theater in World War II—a four-year conflict ranging over tens of millions of square miles, as opposed to the 46,541 square miles of North Korea—and the war has never been officially ended.

After citing a source who says North Korea is “paranoid that the United States is going to eliminate them,” Wired‘s Brian Barrett (9/19/17) wrote, “One can trace that paranoia back to the Korean War”—followed by a reasonable description of why the fear of attack was justified. “In 1950, then–US President Harry Truman said that he was prepared to authorize the use of nuclear weapons to end the conflict.” The millions of actual deaths North Korea had suffered during the war—out of a population at the time of less than 10 million—were not noted as contributing to the country’s “paranoia.”

As Hyun Lee put it to FAIR’s CounterSpin (4/7/17), the circumstances surrounding US/North Korea relations make the latter’s desire for powerful weapons understandable—even rational:

We’ve become very confused in the United States, because the mainstream media like to exaggerate the North Korean nuclear threat, but we never get news of what the US has been doing over the past decades. And we should be very clear that what this is all about is actually US nuclear first-strike advantage against North Korea, and North Korea reacting to that by developing its deterrence capability.

The US and South Korea hold annual joint military exercises on the North Korean border—exercises that are explicitly rehearsals for an eventual invasion of the North. As recently as September 23, the US sent a bomber off the North Korean coast—a show of force designed to ratchet up tensions. It would be good if the corporate media used some of their much touted but little practiced objectivity to make this context clear to audiences.

NYT: With Combative Style and Epithets, Trump Takes America First to the U.N.

“President Trump brought the same confrontational style of leadership he has used at home to the world’s most prominent stage,” the New York Times (9/19/17) reported.

President Donald Trump’s September 19 speech at the United Nations, in which he threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, fueled the conflict between the two nations. The president’s statement was criticized in the corporate media for its bellicose and aggressive nature—but as with many of the president’s actions, it was the tone and not the substance that was so offensive to the nation’s news providers.

The New York Times (9/19/17) called that a “confrontational style of leadership.” Vox‘s Alex Ward (9/20/17) described Trump’s remarks as “belligerent rhetoric.” “Trump’s perhaps oddly chosen colloquialisms masked what was a pretty astounding escalation of his rhetoric when it comes to North Korea,” said the Washington Post‘s Aaron Blake (9/19/19).

Yet even with the acknowledgement that Trump had gone farther in his language than his predecessors, corporate media ignore the context in which these threats are made. US news reports don’t reflect the history between the two countries when they write headlines like New York magazine’s “Wait, Are We at War With North Korea Now?” (9/25/17). And that lack of historical context can lead to the San Diego Union-Tribune (9/22/17) publishing an opinion piece on “North Korea’s Weird History of Insulting US Officials” without confronting the history of the two nations that might have led to that language.

Though North Korea surely provides excuses for bombastic rhetoric and threats from America, the power differential is obvious to anyone who is paying attention to the tensions between the two countries. The US controls the majority of the earth’s oceans, has military bases in over 70 countries, and possesses enough firepower to destroy the world many times over. By contrast, North Korea has an antiquated military (regardless of its large number of soldiers) and essentially one powerful ally in China—a country that just this week joined the US in imposing economic sanctions on North Korea.

Lee again:

Since [2006], what the United States has tried to do is stall North Korea’s nuclear development, tying it up through negotiations that basically went nowhere, at the same time constantly threatening to bring about North Korea’s collapse, through sanctions that were crippling its economy, and also military exercises that were very provocative. They simulate war plans that now include the decapitation of the North Korean leadership, and include nuclear first strike.

In short, North Korea is isolated and on edge. The insular regime faces a major threat to its south and an over six-decade faceoff with the world’s most powerful country. That doesn’t excuse North Korea’s actions — firing missiles over Japan isn’t a productive move — but it does provide context for decisions made by North Korea. As long as US corporate media ignore that history and the power differential, the “threat” to the US from North Korea will be overhyped, while the actual military might of the US is downplayed.

Eoin Higgins is a journalist and historian from Western Massachusetts. You can find more of his work at eoinhiggins.com and follow him on twitter at @EoinHiggins. Reprinted, with permission, from FAIR.

Weekly report on israel’s terrorism against Palestine (20 – 27 September 2017)

Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Israeli forces continue systematic crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)

(20 – 27 September 2017)

 

  • An armed Palestinian was killed at the entrance to “Har Adar” settlement, northwest of Jerusalem.
  • A Palestinian civilian wounded during Kafer Qaddoum weekly protest, northeast of Qalqiliya.
  • Israeli forces conducted 85 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one into the Southern Gaza Strip.
  • 75 civilians, including 12 children and 3 journalists, were arrested in the West Bank.
  • Israeli forces continued to apply the collective punishment policy
  • Villages of Northwest Jerusalem were declared as a closed military zone, and 60,000 Palestinians were besieged insided.
  • Israeli forces continued settlement activities in the West Bank
  • Israeli forces demolished a workshop for stone manufacturing.
  • Israeli forces demolished a car wash and 2 barracks for grazing sheep in Deir Ballout village, west of Salfit.
  • Israeli forces continued to target the Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea.
  • 7 Shooting incidents were documented against Palestinian fishing boats in the northern Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported.
  • Israeli forces turned the West Bank into cantons and continued to impose the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip for the 10th
  • Dozens of temporary checkpoints were established in the West Bank and others were re-established to obstruct the movement of Palestinian civilians.
  • 6 Palestinian civilians, including a girl, were arrested at the checkpoints in the West Bank.

 

 

Summary

Israeli violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the oPt continued during the reporting period (20 – 27 September 2017).

 

Shooting:

During the reporting period, on 26 September 2017, Israeli forces killed Nemer Mahmoud Jamal (37) from Beit Sorik village, northwest of occupied Jerusalem when 4 Israeli Border Guard officers at the entrance to “Har Adar” settlement opened fire at him.  Moreover, three Israeli soldiers were killed and the fourth was wounded.

 

On 22 September 2017, Israeli forces wounded a Palestinian civilian with a rubber-coated metal bullet when they opened fire at dozens of Palestinians and international activist during Kafr Qaddoum weekly protest, northeast of Qalqiliya.

 

In the pretext of targeting Palestinian fishermen in the Sea, on 21 September 2017, Israeli gunboats sporadically opened fire at the Palestinian fishing boats, northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip and chased them.  The shooting recurred in the same area on 25 September 2017 and twice on 26 September 2017.

 

On 24 Septmber 2017, Israeli gunboats sporadically opened fire at the Palestinian fishing boats, west of al-Soudaniya , wwest of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, and chased them.  The gunboats recurred the same shooting twice on 26 Stpember while no casualties were reported in all the incidents. However, the fisehrmen were forced to flee for fear of being wounded, arrested or their boats being damaged.

 

Incursions:

During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 85 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 75 Palestinian civilians, including 12 children. Among those arrested during this week was journalist ‘Abdel Rahman ‘Awad, Reporter of Safa News Agency in Ramallah and al-Bireh.  He was arrested from his family house in Burdus village, west of Ramallah, and Raghid Tabasiyah (26), who is also a photojournalist at Annajah Satallite Channel in Nablus, was arrested as well from his family house in Qalqiliya.  The Israeli forces also arrested ‘Alaa’ Badarnah, a photojournalist at the Gemran News Agency while covering the weekly protest in the Northern Jordan Valley and took him to “Samra” settlement.  After two hours, he was released.

 

In the Gaza Strip, on 24 September 2017, Israeli forces moved into Khuza’ah village, east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip.  Israeli forces combed and levelled the lands for hours along the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel and then headed to the eastern side of al-Fokhari.  Israeli forces later redeployed along the fence.

 

Collective Punishment Measures:

Following the armed attack at the entrance to “Har Adar”  settlement, northwest of Jerusalem, on 26 September 2017, the Israeli Prime Ministerm Benyamin Netanyahu, threated, the Attacker’s house would be demolished and Israeli work permits withdrawn from his extended family.” As soon as the attacker was identified, the Israeli forces declared Beit Sorik village, where the attacker lived, as a closed military zone and imposed a tightened cordon on it.  Israeli forces also prevented any vehicle, civilian, ambulances and jouralists from entering or leaving the village.  They also closed the Tunnel Road, which is the only one connecting the villages of Northwest Jerusalem and its surroundings.  The cordon has not been so far lifted.

 

Settlement Activities and Settlers’ Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and their property:

As part of house demolitions, on 25 September 2017, Israeli forces demolished a workshop for stone manufacturing in Beit Za’tah area, east of Beit Ummar village, north of Hebron, under the pretext of building without a license in Area (C) according to the 1993 Oslo Accords.  The workshop which built of tin plates and bricks on an area of 150 square meters belongs to Zamel Hamad Abu Mariah (45).

 

On the same day, Israeli forces demolished a car wash and two barracks for grazing sheep in Bab al-Marj area at the western entrance to Deir Balut village, west of Salfit, for the same abovementioned pretext.

 

On 07 September 2017, agroup of settlers from “Rahlim” settlement established on the lands of Yitma and al-Sawiyah villages, south of Nablus, cut down 43 olive trees with automatic saws.  Those trees belong to Gom’ah ‘Aadi from al-Sawiyah.

 

Restrictions on movement:

Israel continued to impose a tight closure of the oPt, imposing severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.

 

The illegal closure of the Gaza Strip, which has been steadily tightened since June 2007 has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip.  The Israeli authorities impose measures to undermine the freedom of trade, including the basic needs for the Gaza Strip population and the agricultural and industrial products to be exported. For 9 consecutive years, Israel has tightened the land and naval closure to isolate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, and other countries around the world. This resulted in grave violations of the economic, social and cultural rights and a deterioration of living conditions for 2 million people.  The Israeli authorities have established Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shaloum) as the sole crossing for imports and exports in order to exercise its control over the Gaza Strip’s economy.  They also aim at imposing a complete ban on the Gaza Strip’s exports. The Israeli closure raised the rate of poverty to 65%. Moreover, the rate of unemployment increased up to 47% and youth constitutes 65% of the unemployed persons.  Moreover, 80% of the Gaza Strip population depends on international aid to secure their minimum daily needs. These rates indicate the unprecedented economic deterioration in the Gaza Strip.

 

In the West Bank, Israeli forces continued to suffocate the Palestinian cities and village by imposing military checkpoints around and/or between them. This created “cantons” isolated from each other that hinders the movement of civilians. Moreover, the Palestinian civilians suffering aggravated because of the annexation wall and checkpoints erected on daily basis to catch Palestinians.

Details

 

  1. Incursions into Palestinian Areas, and Attacks on Palestinian Civilians and Property in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip

 

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

 

  • At approximately 00:00, Israeli forces moved into ‘Aydeh refugee camp, north of Bethlehem. They raided and searched several houses after which they arrested 4 civilians namely Malek al-Debes, Saloum al-Debes, Ehab Nayef Zaboun, and Ahmed Hatem.

 

  • At approximately 00:30, Israeli forces moved into al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah. They raided and searched a house belonging to Ehab Walid Hmedat (27) and then arrested him.

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Kafer ‘Ein village, northwest of Ramallah. They raided and searched a house belonging to Laith Emad Abu Kharmah (17) and then arrested him.

 

  • At approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved into Yatta, south of Hebron, and stationed in Roq’ah neighbourhood. They raided and searched a house belonging to Eyad Mahmoud Rashid (32) and then arrested him.

 

  • At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested 5 civilians from al-Najmi family in the centre of the camp. The arrestees were identified as Yazan ‘Ali Mahmoud al-Najmi (25) Haitham Fahed Najem (24), his brother Mo’atasem (26), and Yusuf Ghazi al-Sa’oudi (27).

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into ‘Asker al-Jadeed refugee camp, northeast of Nablus. They raided and searched a house belonging to Yasin Saber Husain Habroun (30) and then arrested him.

 

  • At approximately 02:30, Israeli forces moved into Beit Ummer village, north of Hebron, and stationed in al-Qarnah neighbourhood. They raided and searched a house belonging to Mojahed ‘Ali ‘Awad (27) and then handed him a summons to refer to the Israeli Intelligence Service in “Gush Etzion” settlement complex, south of Bethlehem.

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Jawhar Mount neighbourhood in Hebron. They raided and searched a house belonging to Noor Abdul Haleem Qafishah (24). They handed him a summons to refer to the Israeli Intelligence service in “Gush Etzion” settlement complex, south of Bethlehem.

 

  • At approximately 15:00, an Israeli infantry unit moved into al-Sheikh neighbourhood in Hebron. They patrolled in groups between houses. When the soldiers arrived at the area where people were welcoming Mohammed Isma’il al-Qawasmeh, who was released after serving 14 years of imprisonment in the Israeli jails, they randomly fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the civilians. As a result, a number of civilians suffered tear gas inhalation. Following that, the soldiers headed to Bab al-Zawwiyah area in the cneter of the city and randomly fired tear gas canisters, but none was thrown with stones. The soldiers continued to patrol until arriving at al-Malek Faisel Street and Ebn Rushd Intersection. They attempted to raid some commercial buildings, but the security guards of those buildings prevented them because of the huge number of residents in them. Meanwhile, Palestinian police officers attempted to stop the soldiers from moving forward to the market that was full of shoppers. However, the soldiers refused and continued firing sound bombs and tear gas canisters in addition to raiding some shops. They also detained some civilians and checked their IDs. They then arrested 3 civilians; two were arrested from the street while the third was arrested from his father’s workshop. After that, civilians attempted to ban the military vehicles that were carrying the 3 arrestees from moving in an attempt to release them, but they couldn’t because of being at gunpoint. The arrestees were identified as Baraa’ Sa’di Abu ‘Aishah, Abdul Salam Hejazi, and Mohammed Najib al-‘Ouwaiwi.

 

Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (4) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Jenin refugee camp, north of the west Bank; Dura, Emrish and Traqumiya villages in Hebron.

 

Thursday, 21 September 2017

 

  • At approximately 00:00, Israeli forces moved into Joyous village, northeast of Qalqiliyah. They raided and searched several houses and then arrested 3 civilians namely Ezzedin Bader Shamasneh (18), Amir E’timad Nufel (20), and Fahed Saqer Shamasneh (20).

 

  • At approximately 10:20, Israeli gunboats stationed offshore, northwest of Beit Lahia village in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 2 nautical miles and chased them. As a result, the fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives. The shooting continued for 15 minutes, but neither casualties nor material damage was reported.

 

Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (4) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Yatta, al-Shuyoukh, Deir Samet and al-Kume villages in Hebron.

 

Friday, 22 September 2017

 

  • At approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved into al-Dheisheh refugee camp, south of Bethlehem. They raided and searched a house belonging to Saleh Ahmed al-Ja’edi (25) and then arrested him.

 

  • At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into al-Dawhah village, west of Bethlehem. They raided and searched a house belonging to Wael Abu Sawi (23) and then arrested him.

 

  • At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into Nablus. They raided and searched a house belonging to Ahmed Mohammed Drouzah (21), student at An-Najah National University in the city, and then arrested him.
  • At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces moved into Hebron, and stationed in al-Selah neighbourhood. They raided and searched a house belonging to Yahiya ‘Ali Naser Eden (25) and then arrested him.

 

Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (3) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Bani Na’im village and al-Fawar refugee camp in Hebron, Turah village, adjacent to the annexation wall, southwest of Jenin.

 

Saturday 23 September 2017

 

  • At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into Bethlehem. They raided and searched 2 houses belonging to Mahmoud al-Shuweiki (20) and Amin Abdullah Abu ‘Aahour (22). The soldiers then handed them 2 summonses to refer to the Israeli Intelligence Service in “Gush Etzion” settlement complex, south of the city.

 

  • At approximately 16:00, an Israeli infantry unit moved into Bab al-Zawiyah area in the centre of Hebron. They deployed among shops and patrolled the streets. As a result, civilians, who were in the market, panicked. After that, a number of youngsters threw stones at the soldiers. The soldiers then fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the centre of the market and then chased the youngsters. The Israeli forces arrested 2 children namely Salim Mohammed Salim Samouh (14) and Hamdi Khalil al-Qawasmeh (14).

 

Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (3) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: ‘Aydah refugee camp, north of Bethlehem; Hebron and Raboud village.

 

Sunday, 24 September 2017

 

  • At approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved into Beit Fajjar village, south of Bethlehem. They raided and searched a house belonging to Eslam Mohammed Deriyah (25) and then arrested him.

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Marah Rabah village, south of Bethlehem. They raided and searched a house belonging to Walid Mahmoud al-Sheikh (27) and then arrested him.

 

  • At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into Taqqou’ village, east of Bethlehem. They raided and searched 2 houses belonging to Mohammed Rebhi al-‘Amour (220 and Omer Hammad Hmaid (19) and then arrested them.

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Qalqiliyah. They raided and searched 2 houses belonging to Mahmoud Sobhi ‘Edwan (24) and Raghid Mohammed Tabsiyah (26) and then arrested them. It should be noted that Tabsiyah is a photojournalist at An-Najah TV Channel in Nablus.

 

  • At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into Deir Samet village, southwest of Dura, southwest of Hebron. They raided and searched a house belonging to Raslan Rezeq Masalmah (24) and then arrested him.
  • At approximately 06:00, Israeli forces moved into Joyous village, northeast of Qalqiliyah. They raided and searched several houses after which they arrested 4 civilians namely Tareq Abdul Rahim Kharisheh (26), Ahmed Abdul Rahim Kharisheh (19), Farid Sharif Qadoumi (19), and Adham Ashraf Saleh Nofel (19).

 

  • At approximately 08:00, Israeli forces accompanied with a number of heavy military vehicles moved about 100 meters into the east of Khuza’ah village, east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. They leveled the lands along the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel. The Israeli forces then moved into the southeast of al-Fukhari. The incursion continued for several hours before they redeployed along the abovementioned border fence.

 

  • At approximately 10:05, Israeli gunboats stationed offshore, west of al-Sudaniyah area, west of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles and chased them. As a result, the fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives, but neither casualties nor material damage was reported. The attack recurred at approximately 11:10.

 

  • At approximately 16:00, Israeli forces accompanied with 2 military vehicles moved into al-Thaher area, south of Beit Ummer village north of Heborn, which is surrounded by “Carmi Tsur” They raided and searched a house belonging to ‘Essa Mohammed Bahar (20) and then arrested him.

 

Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (3) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: al-Samou’, al-Burj and Beit al-Roush villages in Hebron.

 

Monday, 25 September 2017

 

  • At approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved into Bethlehem and stationed in Shaheen Valley area in the center of the city. They raided and searched a house belonging to Anas Mohammed Nowarah (19) and then arrested him.

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into al-‘Ezzah refugee camp, north of Bethlehem. They raided and searched a house belonging to Noor Eden Kamal Da’ajnah (19) and then arrested him.

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Yatta, south of Hebron, and stationed in al-Karmel neighborhood. They raided and searched a house belonging to Mohammed ‘Ali al-Najjar (29) and then arrested him.

 

  • At approximately 01:15, Israeli forces moved into al-Dheishah refugee camp, south of Bethlehem. They raided and searched a stationary shop belonging to Jamal Ibrahim Faraj. They then fixed a military decision to close it until 17 October 2017, without clarifying the reason.

 

  • At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into Taqou’ village, east of Bethlehem. They raided and searched a petrol station belonging to ‘Adnan Hajahjah. They also confiscated recording devices of the surveillance cameras, but no other incidents were reported.

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Ya’bud village, southwest of Jenin. They raided and searched a house belonging to Ezzden Taleb ‘Atatrah (26) and then arrested him.

 

  • At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into Laqia village, southwest of Ramallah. They raided and searched a house belonging to Mos’ab Fehmi Sabri Nassar (30) and then arrested him.

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Jericho. They raided and searched a house belonging to Mohammed Gharib Abu Qamar (22) and then arrested him.

 

  • At approximately 02:30, Israeli forces moved into al-‘Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested 3 civilians namely Mohammed Hasan al-Badawi (16), Abed Sa’ed Haleqawi (19), and Mohammed Ahmed al-Badawi (18).

 

  • At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces accompanied with 4 military vehicles moved into Hebron, and stationed in al- Salam neighborhood. They raided and searched 2 houses belonging to Hesham Hmedan al-Shurbati (48) and Anas Mahmoud al-Jo’bah (39). The Israeli forces also handed them 2 summonses to refer to the Israeli Intelligence Service in “Gush Ezion” settlement complex, south of the city.

 

  • At approximately 03:30, Israeli forces moved into Qalqiliyah. They raided and searched several houses and then arrested 3 civilians, including 2 children, namely Muhaned Omer Samhah (16), Abdul Rahman Basel Walwil (16), and his father Basel Hamdan Walwil (52). It should be noted that the Israeli forces arrested Basel after he objected on arresting his son.

 

  • At approximately 06:30, Israeli gunboats stationed offshore, northwest of Beit Lahia village in the northern Gaza strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 2 nautical miles and chased them. As a result, the fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives.

 

  • At approximately 19:40, Israeli forces moved into Joyous village, northeast of Qalqiliyah. They raided and searched several houses after which they arrested 3 children namely Omer As’ad Salim (17), Fayez Hael salim (13), and Karam Emad Nufel (13).

 

Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (4) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Bardalah and ‘Ein al-Baidaa’ villages in the northern Valleys; al-Shuyoukh and Sa’ir villages in Hebron.

 

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

 

  • At approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved into Husan village, west of Bethlehem. They raided and searched several houses after which they arrested 3 civilians namely Mustafa Yusuf Kamel (19), ‘Odai ‘Adel Shushah (21) and Mohammed Saleh Za’oul (24) .

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into ‘Aydah refugee camp, north of Bethlehem. They raided and searched several houses and then arrested 3 civilians, including 2 children, namely Omer ‘Adel Radi (17), Mustafa Rami Hammad (17), and Mohammed Raed ‘Ouwais (22).

 

  • At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into Budrus village, west of Ramallah. They raided and searched a house belonging to journalist Abdul Rahman Omer ‘Awad and then arrested him. Abdul Rahman’s wife, Sanaa’ Abdul Hafez, said to PCHR’s fieldworker that the Israeli soldiers violently raided the house and broke the doors. An Israeli officer introducing himself as “Captain Wesam” ordered her husband to prepare himself to be arrested. It should be noted that Abdul Rahman works as a reporter at Safa News Agency in Ramallah and al-Birah and studied at An-Najah National University in Nablus.

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Nablus. They raided and searched 2 houses belonging to Tareq Hassan al-Kuni (30) and Rawhi Samih ‘Ouwadah (26) and then arrested them.

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus. They raided and searched 2 houses belonging to Omer Mustafa Mousa Abu Lail (25) and Hasan Ismail Sharai’ah (40) and then arrested them.

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Dura, southwest of Hebron, and stationed in Sanger area. They raided and searched a house belonging to Mohammed Sa’ed ‘Amr (25) and then arrested him.

 

  • At approximately 05:10, Israeli gunboats stationed offshore, west of al-Sudaniyah area, west of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles and chased them. As a result, the fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives, but neither casualties nor material damage were reported.

 

  • In the morning, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian at the entrance to “Har Adar” settlement, northwest of occupied Jerusalem. According to information PCHR received, at approximately 07:00, Nemer Mahmoud Ahmed Jamal (37), from Beit Surik village, northwest of the city, arrived at the rear entrance to “Har Adar” settlement along with a group of Palestinian workers in the abovementioned settlement. Nemer approached the Border Guard officers, who were checking ID cards and work permits of the workers before allowing them to enter the settlement. He then opened fire from a gun hidden under his shirt from a close range. As a result, 3 soldiers were killed, while the fourth one was wounded. The Israeli soldiers immediately shot him dead.

 

Following that, Luba al-Samri, the Israeli police spokesperson, said in a statement that: “A Palestinian arrived at the rear entrance to “Har Adar” settlement along with Palestinian workers, who were entering the settlement, and opened fire at the security forces that were in the area. As a result, 3 Israelis were killed and the attacker was neutralized.” It should be noted that the killed person had a permit to work in settlements and  was married  with 4 children.

 

  • At approximately 09:25, Israeli gunboats stationed offshore, northwest of Beit Lahia village in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 2 nautical miles and chased them. As a result, the fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives. The shooting recurred at approximately 09:45.

 

  • At approximately 02:00, an Israeli infantry unit moved from “Carmi Tsur” settlement established on Palestinian confiscated lands, south of Beit Ummer village, north of Hebron, into al-Arba’in area. They raided and searched a workshop for construction and then arrested Bilal Abdul Rahman Ismail ‘Awad (17) while he was working. They claimed that he threw stones at them. The Israeli forces took Bilal to the settlement.

 

  • At approximately 22:40, Israeli forces moved into ‘Azzoun village, east of Qalqiliyah. They raided and searched a house belonging to Shaddad Hesham Mustafa ‘Edwan (20) and then arrested him.

 

Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (5) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Barqin Valley, west of Jenin; Beit Awla and Taffuh villages in Hebron; Kafer al-Deek and Bruqin villages, west of Salfit.

 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

 

  • At approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved into al-Fare’ah refugee camp, south of Tubas. They raided and searched a house belonging to Ahmed Naser Daraghmeh (18) and then arrested him.

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Jenin refugee camp, west of Jenin. They raided and searched several houses after which they arrested 4 civilians namely Lutfi Mohammed Abu al-Naser, Ahmed Nidal al-Sa’di, Nidal Amin Hazem, and Yazid Nidal Ja’aisah.

 

  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Tawas village, west of Dura, southwest of Hebron. They raided and searched a house belonging to Yusuf Fares Abu ‘Arqoub (25) and then arrested him

 

  • At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into Husan village, west of Bethlehem. They raided and searched a house belonging to Jamil Suhair Hamamrah (22) and then arrested him.

 

  • At approximately 02:30, Israeli forces moved into Tal village, south west of Nablus. They raided and searched a house belonging to Mohammed As’ad Rehan (24) and then arrested him.
  • At approximately 09:00, Israeli forces accompanied with several military vehicles moved into the southern area in Hebron. They raided and searched a house belonging to Abdul Latif ‘Ali Abu Suneinah. They topped the house roof and handed the abovementioned civilian a military decision of their stay in the house for 24 hours for security reasons.

 

Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (10) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Nablus, Beit Wazan, Beit Eba, and Zawata villages northwest of the city; Ya’bud village, southwest of Jenin; Zabuba village, west of the city; Surif, al-Hadab Deir Ballout villages and al-Fawar refugee camp, west of Salfit.

 

Demonstrations in protest against the annexation wall and settlement activities

 

West Bank:

 

  • On Friday, 22 September 2017, dozens of Palestinians and supporters organized a demonstration at the entrance to Kherbet Qalqas, south of Hebron, in protest against closing the main and sole road for the Kherbahand lining the Bypass Street (60) for 17 years. Following the Friday prayer, the Palestinian civilians raised Palestinian flags and chanted national slogans. Meanwhile, a large Israeli force arrived at the area and fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the protestors. They also chased the young men, who threw stones at the soldiers. As a result, a number of protestors suffered tear gas inhalation. It should be noted that Kherbet Qalqas is inhabited with about 2000 persons and the Israeli authorities so far close its entrance from the southern side with sand and rocks. This forces the residents to use an alternative long road passing by Kherbet al-Samn Valley and Kherbet al-Dar. In the same time, the Israeli authorities continue expanding “Beit Hagai” settlement established on the Kherbah lands from the southern side.

 

  • At approximately 12:30 on Friday, Palestinian civilians and International activists organized a protest in the center of Kufor Qaddoum village, northeast of Qalqiliyah. They made their way to the eastern entrance to the village in protest against closing that entrance since the beginning of al-Aqsa Intifada with an iron gate. When the protesters approached the entrance, the Israeli forces fired metal bullets, tear gas canisters and sound bombs at them. As a result, a 19-year-old civilian sustained a metal bullet wound to the right leg. He was transferred to Dr. Darwish Nasal Governmental Hospital in Qalqiliyah to receive medical treatment.

 

  • Following the Friday prayer, dozens of Palestinian civilians and Israeli and international human rights defenders organized protests in Bil’in and Ni’lin villages, west of Ramallah; al-Nabi Saleh village, northwest of the city. Israeli forces forcibly dispersed the protesters, firing live and metal bullets, tear gas canisters and sound bombs. They also chased protesters into olive fields and between the houses. As a result, some of the protesters suffered tear gas inhalation while others sustained bruises as Israeli soldiers beat them up.

 

  • At approximately 11:00 on Wednesday, 27 September 2017, dozens of farmers, human rights defenders and national and Islamic organizations’ representatives organized a peaceful protest from the center of ‘Atouf village, east of Tamoun village, south of Tubas. They made their way towards the obstacles established by the Israeli forces since the beginning of al-Aqsa Intifada to isolate the Jordan Valleys from other Palestinian lands. When the protestors arrived at Alwan Street, which was filled with Israeli soldiers and settlers, the protestors closed the street and started hand-fighting with the soldiers. The soldiers then called for more backups. When the backup arrived at the area, the soldiers fired tear gas canisters and pepper-sprayed the protestors. As a result, dozens of protestors suffered tear gas inhalation in addition to severe pain. They were transferred to Turkish Hospital in Tubas to receive medical treatment. The Israeli forces arrested ‘Alaa’ Tawfiq Saleh Badarnah (46), photojournalist at the German Agency. They took him to “Samra” settlement and released him after 2 hours. They also attacked Ja’fer Zahed Husain Shteiah (50), photojournalist at France Press Agency (AFP), with their foot and the riffle’s butt.

 

Collective punishment:

 

  • Following the armed attack at the entrance to “Har Adar” settlement established on lands of Badou and Beit Surik villages, northwest of occupied Jerusalem, on 26 September 2017, due to which 3 soldiers and the attacker were killed, The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, threatened that: “The house of the attacker will be demolished, and the soldiers already moved into the village of the attacker to demolish his house. They also will withdraw work permits in Israel from his family.”

 

After identifying the attacker, Nemer Mahmoud al-Jamal (37), Israeli forces announced that Beit Surik village, northwest of occupied Jerusalem, is a closed military zone and imposed a tight closure on it. The Israeli forces also closed main and sub roads leading to the village and established checkpoints at the entrances to the village. They also banned any vehicle or civilian from entering or leaving the village. Moreover, they banned the ambulances and journalists from entering the village. Furthermore, the Israeli forces closed the Tunnel Road, which is the only road that connects the villages in the northwest of Jerusalem with its surroundings.  Those villages are Qatannah, Beit ‘Anan, Beit Surik, Beit Eksa, Badou, al-Qabibah, Beit Ejza, Beit Daqou and Kharb al-Lahem villages, which are all inhabited by 60, 000 civilians. In the evening hours, the Israeli forces detained dozens of cars at the Tunnel entrance to theses villages. They only allowed limited number of cars to pass after subjecting them to precise and long search.

 

  • On Tuesday, 26 September 2017, Israeli forces raided the house of Nemer Jamal, who carried out the attack against Israeli Board Guard officers. An Israeli officer questioned the family members, and the attacker’s brother, Medhat al-Jamal, was arrested. Member of Beit Sowreek Village Council, Mo’tasem Qandeel, said that at approximately 07:00, Israeli forces moved into the village and closed all its entrances. They also ordered all the shops’ owners to close. All the village residents were prevented from entering and exiting the village and imposed a curfew. The Israeli forces also imposed a complete cordon on the village. Qandeel added that the Israeli forces raided a medical center belonging to UNRWA and closed it. Moreover, they closed the entrance to Beit Aksa village and prevented its residents from entering and exiting the village.

 

  • On Wednesday, 27 September 2017, for the 2nd consecutive day, Israeli forces continued to close all the entrance to Beit Sowreek village and nearby villages, so doctors were denied access 10 health clinics. Dr. Shadi al-Lahaam, Deputy Director of Health in Jerusalem, said that medical crews were denied access to health clinics since Tuesday morning, 26 September 2017, so the residents were denied medical treatment and services. He added that on Wednesday, doctors and medical crews headed to the Heath Directorates in those areas, but declaring the villages as closed military zones, heavy deployment of the soldiers and establishing checkpoints denied their access.

 

  1. Continued closure of the oPt

 

Israel continued to impose a tight closure on the oPt, imposing severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.

 

Gaza Strip

 

Israeli forces continuously tighten the closure of the Gaza Strip and close all commercial crossings, making the Karm Abu Salem crossing the sole commercial crossing of the Gaza Strip, although it is not suitable for commercial purposes in terms of its operational capacity and distance from markets.

 

Israeli forces have continued to apply the policy, which is aimed to tighten the closure on all commercial crossings, by imposing total control over the flow of imports and exports.

 

Israeli forces have continued to impose a total ban on the delivery of raw materials to the Gaza Strip, except for very limited items and quantities. The limited quantities of raw materials allowed into Gaza do not meet the minimal needs of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.

 

Israeli forces also continued to impose an almost total ban on the Gaza Strip exports, including agricultural and industrial products, except for light-weighted products such as flowers, strawberries, and spices. However, they lately allowed the exportation of some vegetables such as cucumber and tomatoes, furniture and fish.

 

Israel has continued to close the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing for the majority of Palestinian citizens from the Gaza Strip. Israel only allows the movement of a limited number of groups, with many hours of waiting in the majority of cases. Israel has continued to adopt a policy aimed at reducing the number of Palestinian patients allowed to move via the Beit Hanoun crossing to receive medical treatment in hospitals in Israel or in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel also continued applying the policy of making certain civilian traveling via the crossing interviewed by the Israeli intelligence service to be questioned, blackmailed or arrested.

 

Beit Hanoun (“Erez”) crossing, in the north of the Gaza Strip, is designated for the movement of individuals, and links the Gaza Strip with the West Bank.

 

Movement at Beit Hanoun (“Erez”) crossing

(19-26 September 2017)

Category 19 September 20 September 21  September 22 September 23September 24 September 25 September 26 September
Patients 31 30 54 38 64
Companions 28 24 47 34 61
Personal needs 61 5 45 27 26
Familiesof prisoners 27
Arabs fromIsrael 11 3 17 3 5
Diplomats
International journalists 3
International workers 49 27 16 19 37
Travelersabroad 55 1 60
Business people 109 147 141 107
Business meetings
Security interviews 3 7 9 2
VIPs 2 1
Ambulances to Israel 6 5 3 8 2
Patients’ Companions 6 4 3 9 2

 

Note:

  • On Tuesday, 19 September 2017, Israeli forces allowed one person and on Tuesday, 26 September 2017, allowed 2 persons, who work at the General Authority of Civil Affairs (GACA) and foreigners to renew their permits.
  • On Wednesday, 20 September 2017, Israeli authorities closed “Erez” crossing and prevented all categories form travelling, except humanitarian cases. Israeli authorities also clarified that the “Erez” crossing will be open until 01:00 and returning to the Gaza Strip will be until 15:00.
  • On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 21,22 and 23 September 2017, the crossing was completely closed and all categories, except lifesaving cases, were prevented from travelling through the crossing, due to the Jewish New Year.

 

Israel has imposed a tightened closure on the West Bank. During the reporting period, Israeli forces imposed additional restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians:

 

  • Hebron: Israeli forces established (16) checkpoints all over the city.

 

On Wednesday, 20 September 2017, Israeli forces established 4 checkpoints at the entrances to Ethan and Taramah villages; at the southern entrance to Hebron and at the entrance to al-‘Aroub refugee camp.

 

On Thursday, 21 September 2017, Israeli forces established 2 checkpoints at the entrances to Ethna and Samou’a villages.

 

On Saturday, 23 September 2017, 4 checkpoints were established at the entrances to Beit ‘Awaa and Ethan villages; at the western entrance to Hebron and at the entrance to al-‘Aroub refugee camp.

 

On Sunday, 24 September 2017, 2 similar checkpoints were established at the entrances to Karmah and Beit Ummer villages.

 

On Monday, 25 September 2017, Israeli forces established 2 checkpoints at the entrances to al-Dahiriyia and Taramah villages.

 

On Tuesday, 26 September 2017, 2 similar checkpoints were established at the entrance to al-Fawar refugee camp and at the eastern entrance to Dura village.

 

  • Qalqiliyia: Israeli forces established (6) checkpoints all over the city.

 

On Monday, 25 September 2017, Israeli forces established 4 checkpoints at the eastern entrance to Qalqilyia, at the intersection of “Kedumim”settlement on the main street between Qalqiliyia and Nablus, at the entrance to Amateen village, and between ‘Azoun and ‘Izbit al-Tabeeb village, east of the city.

 

On Tuesday, 27 September 2017, Israeli forces established 2 checkpoints at the eastern entrance to Qalqilyia and at the entrance to Seer village, northeast of the city.

 

  • Salfit: Israeli forces established (10) checkpoints all over the city.

 

On Thursday, 21 September 2017, Israeli forces established 3 checkpoints at the entrance to Salfit; at the entrance to Deir Balout village, west of the city; and at the entrance to Hares village, northwest of the city.

 

On Friday, 22 September 2017, Israeli forces established 2 checkpoints between Kaful Hares and Hares villages, north of Salfit, and at the entrance to Qarawet Bani Hassan village, west of the city.

 

On Saturday, 23 September 2017, 2 similar checkpoints were established at the entrance to Qarawet Bani Hassan village, west of Salfit; at the entrance to Deir Balout village, west of the city.

 

On Sunday, 24 September 2017, Israeli forces established 2 checkpoints between Kaful Hares and Hares villages, north of Salfit; and at the western entrance to Hares villages, northwest of the city.

At approximately 19:30 on Monday, 25 September 2017, a similar checkpoint was established at the western entrance to Hares village, northwest of the city.

 

Arrests at Military Checkpoints:

 

  • At approximately 20:00 on Thursday, 21 September 2017, Israeli forces established a checkpoint under the bridge of ‘Azoun village, on the main street between Qalqiliyia and Tulkarm. They searched Palestinian civilians’ vehicles and checked their IDs. They then arrested Rashid Mohamed Ameen Saleem (26) and Mahmoud ‘Aqel Bedah (34).

 

  • On Friday, 22 September 2017, Israeli forces stationed at al-Karama crossing arrested ‘Alam Ameen Rayiq, from Jenin. ‘Alam was arrested while heading to Jordan in order to complete his medical treatment.

 

  • At approximately 13:00 on Saturday, 23 September 2017, Israeli forces stationed at a military checkpoint established in Tal al-Ramitha neighbourhood in Hebron, arrested Ma’moun Hussain al-Natsha (19), claiming he had a knife. Ma’moun was then taken to an investigation centre in “ Kiryat ‘Arba’” settlement, east of the city.

 

  • At approximately 09:00 on Tuesday, 26 September 2017, Israeli forces stationed at al-Container checkpoint, north of Bethlehem, arrested Mousa Amjad al-Titi (20), from al-‘Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron.

 

  • At approximately 16:00 on Wednesday, 27 September 2017, Israeli forces stationed at a military checkpoint in the southern area of Hebron arrested Fatmah Abu Remilah (16), claiming that she had a knife. Fatmah was then taken to an investigation center in “Kiryat ‘Arab’” settlement, east of the city.

 

Settlement activities and attacks by settlers against Palestinian civilians and property

 

  • At approximately 11:00 on Monday, 25 September 2017, Israeli forces accompanied with military vehicles, Israeli Border Guard officers and a digger moved into Beit Za’tah area, east of Beit Ummer village, north of Hebron. They deployed in the vicinity of a stone manufacturing workshop and the digger started to demolish a 150-square-meter workshop, which was built of tin plates and bricks. The workshop belongs to Zamel Hamad Abu Mariyiah (45) and demolished under the pretext that it is not licensed as it is located in Area (C) according to Oslo Accords.

 

  • At approximately 12:00 on Monday, Israeli forces accompanied with a bulldozer moved into Deir Balout village, west of Salfit, and then headed to Bab al-Marj area, at the western entrance to the village. They closed all shops in the area and then the bulldozer demolished a car wash belonging to ‘Amer Khalil Abed al-Elah, under the pretext of non-licensing. Moreover, the Israeli forces demolished 2 barracks used for breeding sheep, under the pretext of non-licensing. The abovementioned barracks belong to Tayseer Abed al-Khaliq and Rafeeq Khalil Abdullah.

 

 

Collective punishment:

 

  • On Tuesday, 26 September 2017, Israeli forces raided the house of Nemer Jamal, who carried out the attack against Israeli Board Guard officers. An Israeli officer questioned the family members, and the attacker’s brother, Medhat al-Jamal, was arrested. Member of Beit Sowreek Village Council, Mo’tasem Qandeel, said that at approximately 07:00, Israeli forces moved into the village and closed all its entrances. They also ordered all the shops’ owners to close. All the village residents were prevented from entering and exiting the village and imposed a curfew. The Israeli forces also imposed a complete cordon on the village. Qandeel added that the Israeli forces raided a medical center belonging to UNRWA and closed it. Moreover, they closed the entrance to Beit Aksa village and prevented its residents from entering and exiting the village.

 

  • On Wednesday, 27 September 2017, for the 2nd consecutive day, Israeli forces continued to close all the entrance to Beit Sowreek village and nearby villages, so doctors were denied access 10 health clinics. Dr. Shadi al-Lahaam, Deputy Director of Health in Jerusalem, said that medical crews were denied access to health clinics since Tuesday morning, 26 September 2017, so the residents were denied medical treatment and services. He added that on Wednesday, doctors and medical crews headed to the Heath Directorates in those areas, but declaring the villages as closed military zones, heavy deployment of the soldiers and establishing checkpoints denied their access.

 

Recommendations to the International Community

 

PCHR warns of the escalating settlement construction in the West Bank, the attempts to legitimize settlement outposts established on Palestinian lands in the West Bank and the continued summary executions of Palestinian civilians under the pretext that they pose a security threat to the Israeli forces. PCHR reminds the international community that thousands of Palestinian civilians have been rendered homeless and lived in caravans under tragic circumstances due to the latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip that has been under a tight closure for almost 10 years. PCHR welcomes the UN Security Council’s Resolution No. 2334, which states that settlements are a blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions and calls upon Israel to stop them and not to recognize any demographic change in the oPt since 1967.  PCHR hopes this resolution will pave the way for eliminating the settlement crime and bring to justice those responsible for it. PCHR further reiterates that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are still under Israeli occupation in spite of Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan of 2005.  PCHR emphasizes that there is international recognition of Israel’s obligation to respect international human rights instruments and international humanitarian law.  Israel is bound to apply international human rights law and the law of war, sometimes reciprocally and other times in parallel, in a way that achieves the best protection for civilians and remedy for the victims.

 

  1. PCHR calls upon the international community to respect the Security Council’s Resolution No. 2334 and to ensure that Israel respects it as well, in particular point 5 which obliges Israel not to deal with settlements as if they were part of Israel.
  2. PCHR calls upon the ICC in 2017 to open an investigation into Israeli crimes committed in the oPt, particularly the settlement crimes and the 2014 offensive on the Gaza Strip.
  3. PCHR Calls upon the European Union (EU) and all international bodies to boycott settlements and ban working and investing in them in application of their obligations according to international human rights law and international humanitarian law considering settlements as a war crime.
  4. PCHR calls upon the international community to use all available means to allow the Palestinian people to enjoy their right to self-determination through the establishment of the Palestinian State, which was recognized by the UN General Assembly with a vast majority, using all international legal mechanisms, including sanctions to end the occupation of the State of Palestine.
  5. PCHR calls upon the international community and United Nations to take all necessary measures to stop Israeli policies aimed at creating a Jewish demographic majority in Jerusalem and at voiding Palestine from its original inhabitants through deportations and house demolitions as a collective punishment, which violates international humanitarian law, amounting to a crime against humanity.
  6. PCHR calls upon the international community to condemn summary executions carried out by Israeli forces against Palestinians and to pressurize Israel to stop them.
  7. PCHR calls upon the States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC to work hard to hold Israeli war criminals accountable.
  8. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfill their obligations under article (1) of the Convention to ensure respect for the Conventions under all circumstances, and under articles (146) and (147) to search for and prosecute those responsible for committing grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions to ensure justice and remedy for Palestinian victims, especially in light of the almost complete denial of justice for them before the Israeli judiciary.
  9. PCHR calls upon the international community to speed up the reconstruction process necessary because of the destruction inflicted by the Israeli offensive on Gaza.
  10. PCHR calls for a prompt intervention to compel the Israeli authorities to lift the closure that obstructs the freedom of movement of goods and 1.8 million civilians that experience unprecedented economic, social, political and cultural hardships due to collective punishment policies and retaliatory action against civilians.
  11. PCHR calls upon the European Union to apply human rights standards embedded in the EU-Israel Association Agreement and to respect its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights when dealing with Israel.
  12. PCHR calls upon the international community, especially states that import Israeli weapons and military services, to meet their moral and legal responsibility not to allow Israel to use the offensive in Gaza to test new weapons and not accept training services based on the field experience in Gaza in order to avoid turning Palestinian civilians in Gaza into testing objects for Israeli weapons and military tactics.
  13. PCHR calls upon the parties to international human rights instruments, especially the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), to pressurize Israel to comply with its provisions in the oPt and to compel it to incorporate the human rights situation in the oPt in its reports submitted to the relevant committees.
  14. PCHR calls upon the EU and international human rights bodies to pressurize the Israeli forces to stop their attacks against Palestinian fishermen and farmers, mainly in the border area
<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: