US Ambassador, Staff Flee Baghdad Embassy amid Angry Protests Over Airstrike on PMU

By Staff, Agencies

The American Embassy in Baghdad has been evacuated after thousands of angry Iraqi demonstrators gathered outside the gates of the compound to condemn Washington’s fatal military aggression that targeted Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units [PMU].

Also on Tuesday, Iraqis held a massive funeral procession in the capital Baghdad for the victims of the US air raids, which killed 27 PMU fighters from the Hezbollah Brigades faction and injured over 51 others in Anbar Province.

Meanwhile, thousands of angry protests gathered outside the US diplomatic mission in Baghdad to condemn the assault, with the demonstrators chanting ‘Death to America’ and burning US flags.

The protesters further held up posters calling for the US mission to be shut down and for the parliament to order US occupation forces to leave Iraq.

“Parliament should oust US troops, or else we will,” one poster said.

Reuters cited two Iraqi Foreign Ministry sources as saying that the US ambassador and other staff have been evacuated from the embassy in the Iraqi capital Baghdad as protests rage outside.

The ambassador and staff left out of security concerns. One official said a few embassy protection staff remained, according to the Reuters.

Iraqi protesters, according to the AFP, breached the outer wall of the high-security compound on Tuesday, prompting the American forces deployed inside to fire tear gas and flash bangs to disperse the crowds.

The protesters pulled security cameras off the wall as Iraqi security forces tried to keep them back.

Earlier in the day, Iraqi lawmakers chanted anti-US slogans during a parliamentary session.

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IOF Attack Final Round of Weekly Protests in Gaza

Source

 December 27, 2019

Israeli occupation forces attacked Palestinians taking part in the final round of protests held on a weekly basis near the fence separating the Gaza Strip from the Occupied Territories, leaving a number of protesters injured.

Palestinian media outlets reported that the Israeli forces shot and injured protesters in the east of Jabalia and the east of Khan Yunis on Friday.

Tens of Palestinians also suffered from suffocation due to inhaling tear gas used by the Israeli troops in the eastern part of Gaza.

The “Great March of Return” rallies have been held every week since March 30 last year. The Palestinians want the return of those driven out of their homeland by Israeli aggression.

The protest organizers announced on Thursday that the rallies would be suspended until March 2020, after which it would be held on a monthly basis.

Yousri Darwish, a member of the Supreme National Committee of the Marches of Return, said the decision to suspend the rallies was made in the best interest of the Palestinian people.

He said preparations for the commemoration of the Land Day would be done in the upcoming few months in which the protests would stop. The annual event is held on March 30 to mark the killing of six Palestinians by Israeli forces during mass protests against Israel’s seizure of their land in 1976.

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Bahrain’s Chief Opposition Leader: Five Years Behind Bar

Bahrain’s Chief Opposition Leader: Five Years Behind Bar
Sheikh Ali Salman,

By Sondoss Al-Asaad

Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of the now-outlawed Al-Wefaq opposition group, embarks on his fifth-year journey of oppression and persecution as a prisoner of conscience, since 2014.

The top opposition leader is unfairly being held in custody merely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and opinion and for demanding democratic reforms including a constitutional monarchy and elected prime minister.

Those demands; however, are seen by Manama as crimes of ”inciting hatred and insulting public institutions.”

In November 2018, the Bahraini High Criminal Court of Appeal overturned an acquittal granted to him and blatantly sentenced the leader, along with fellow opposition leaders, Sheikh Hassan Sultan and former MP Ali al-Aswad, to life in prison, accusing them of scheming with the state of Qatar “to overthrow the regime.”

Responding to the arbitrary verdict, Amnesty International commented that it ”a travesty of justice” that demonstrates the Bahraini government’s ”relentless efforts to silence any form of dissent.”

For its part, Al-Wefaq political bloc, which Sheikh Ali Salman leads, slammed the verdict saying it is “unacceptable and provocative” ruling and would worsen the political crisis.

Remarkably, the espionage accusation just arose as an issue in the aftermath of the diplomatic row with the Qatari regime, in 2017, as it dates back to a 2011 clip of a phone call aimed to mediate between the Bahraini government and opposition parties then.

Bahrain’s Independent Commission of Inquiry, aka BICI’s well-known report, cites opposition sources suggesting that Qatar, then, could act as the sponsor of a proposed US initiative, and which was approved by the opposition but rejected by the government.

The tiny Gulf archipelago has been wracked by unrest, since February 2011, when thousands of citizens kicked off to the streets of Manama demanding justice, democracy and equal opportunities.

Nevertheless, the peaceful demonstrators were violently suppressed, with the assistance of neighboring countries’ troops, especially from Saudi Arabia.

Ever since assembly has been outlawed, opposition groups have been dissolved and dissents have been either jailed, denaturalized or exiled.

The BICI, also known locally as the Bassiouni Commission, was established by the King of Bahrain, tasked with looking into the incidents that occurred during the 2011 unrest.

In November 2011, the commission released a detailed report, which criticizes Bahrain’s security forces for using ”excessive manner that was, on many occasions, unnecessary, disproportionate, and indiscriminate” and which “could not have happened without the knowledge of higher echelons of the command structure.”

The BICI’s report further confirms the government’s use of systematic torture and other forms of physical and psychological abuse on detainees, as well as other human rights violations.

Sheikh Salman, along with hundreds of human rights advocates, top opposition leaders and prisoners of conscience, is currently held in the notorious Jaw Prison, known for its inhumane and unsanitary environment that infringes international detention standards.

After five years of arbitrary detention, to which the international community appallingly turns blind eyes and deaf ears, it is time that the Bahraini government to immediately and unconditionally release the peaceful leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, who is obviously convicted on politically-motivated charges.

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Bahrain Crackdown: Health of Hunger-striking Detainee Deteriorating

Bahrain Crackdown: Health of Hunger-striking Detainee Deteriorating

By Staff

Bahraini human rights activist Ebtisam al-Saegh reported that the health condition of detainee Osama al-Saghir has been deteriorating as he fainted in the washroom after spending 15 days of an ongoing hunger strike.

Al-Saghir, sentenced to 60 years in prison for political charges, started bleeding after the incident, al-Saegh said, adding that “although the bleeding stopped, he has been injured and in pain, and is still deprived from making phone calls and going out to the courtyard.”

For his part, Osama’s father said that all what his son demands is a private visit, a jacket and a blanket to feel warm.

Not to mention, it has been 9 months since Osama al-Saghir stopped receiving visitors due to the inspection and humiliation of his mother as she comes to visit him. Osama’s mother suffers from a heart disease, and her son demands granting her a private visit inside the prison while respecting her health situation.

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Four Young Gazans Infiltrate Israeli-held Territories, Seize Military Equipment before Returning Safely

Hamas fighters Gaza

September 7, 2019

Zionist media outlets reported that four Palestinian youths infiltrated from Gaza into the occupied territories, seizing military equipment.

The reports added that the infiltrators did not cause any damage to the fence during the infiltration process which ended successfully as they returned to the Strip safely.

MK Ofer Shelah who represent the Blue and White party blamed P Benjamin Netanyahu for losing deterrence in face of Hamas on Gaza border, adding that the Palestinian group imposes on ‘Israel’ the time of war and that of ‘peace’.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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Exclusive: Rashida Tlaib’s Granny Supports Her Refusal of ‘Israeli’ Conditions

By Al-Ahed Correspondent

Occupied Palestine – Soon after the ‘Israeli’ occupation imposed restrictions on the visit of Democratic US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s visit to the occupied territories, the family anticipating her was totally disappointed.

Tlaib was supposed to visit her grandmother’s home in the village of “Beit Aour al-Fawqa” in the West Bank.

But following the Zionist conditions imposed on the US congresswoman’s visit, Rashida voiced rejection and said in a tweet on her account:

“Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in–fighting against racism, oppression & injustice.”

The lady in her nineties, called Muftiyya, told al-Ahed in an exclusive interview that she is sad that the occupation’s authorities barred Rashida from visiting occupied Palestine without conditions.

“I was happy with her visit, which was supposed to happen in the coming days, but the occupation’s conditions barred her,” she told al-Ahed, adding that “I prepared delicious meals to receive her, but the occupation killed our joy.”

Her family further voiced support for Rashida’s refusal to submit to the Zionist conditions, considering it a restriction of her freedom. They were also proud of the decision Rashida has made.

Tlaib’s uncle supports her decision

For his part, Rashida’s uncle Bassam said that their stance is the same as Rashida: “We reject the humiliating conditions that were put on her visit of family and relatives in Palestine,” adding that “Rashida has the right to visit Palestine without any condition.”

Bassam also hailed the congresswoman’s stance from the Zionist occupation, noting that the Zionist entity rejects the voices calling for people’s right to self-determination, explaining that the enemy wants Rashida to meet with ‘Israeli’ officials before visiting the Palestinian territories, which she rejected.

The Zionist occupation had blocked the visit of Rashida Tlaib and her fellow Ilhan Omar after pressures from US President Donald Trump. However, according to Zionist officials, the block came due to their Boycott, Divestment, Sanction ‘Israel’ BDS movement ties.

Earlier, Tlaib and Omar voiced solidarity with the pro-Palestinian BDS Movement due to the Zionist policies towards Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Tlaib later tweeted: One day @IlhanMN and I will see Bethlehem and InshAllah it will be free when we do. #FreePalestine

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Bassam Shakaa: The Making of a Palestinian ‘Organic Intellectual’

Bassam Al Shakaa

Between his birth in Nablus in 1930 and his death, Bassam Shakaa fought a relentless struggle for Palestinian rights. He challenged Israel, the PA, US imperialism and reactionary Arab governments. Throughout this arduous journey, he survived exile, prison and an assassination attempt.

July 29th, 2019

t would be unfair to claim that Palestine has not produced great leaders. It has, and Bassam Shakaa, the former Mayor of Nablus, who passed away on July 22 at the age of 89, was living proof of this.

The supposed deficit in good Palestinian leadership can be attributed to the fact that many great leaders have been either assassinated, languish in prison or are politically marginalized by Palestinian factions.

What was unique about Shakaa is that he was a true nationalist leader who struggled on behalf of all Palestinians without harboring any ideological, factionalist or religious prejudice. Shakaa was an inclusive Palestinian leader, with profound affinity to pan-Arabism and constant awareness of the global class struggle.





In a way, Shakaa exemplified the ‘organic intellectual’ as described by Italian thinker Antonio Gramsci. Indeed, Shakaa was not a mere “mover of feelings and passions” but an “active participant in practical life, as constructor and organizer – a permanent persuader, not just a simple orator”.

Shakaa’s base of support was, and remained, the people – ordinary Palestinians from Nablus and throughout Palestine who always stood by his side, most memorably when the Israeli government attempted to exile him in 1975; when the Palestinian Authority (PA) placed him under house arrest in 1999 and when he was finally laid to rest in his beloved home town of Nablus, a few days ago.

Between his birth in Nablus in 1930 and his death, Shakaa fought a relentless struggle for Palestinian rights. He challenged Israel, the PA, US imperialism and reactionary Arab governments. Throughout this arduous journey, he survived exile, prison and an assassination attempt.

But there is more to Shakaa than his intellect, eloquence, and morally-guided positions. The man represented the rise of a true democratic Palestinian leadership, one that sprang from, spoke and fought for the people.

It was in the mid-1970s that Shakaa rose to prominence as a Palestinian nationalist leader, an event that changed the face of Palestinian politics to this day.

Following its occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza in June 1967, the Israeli government moved quickly to fashion a new status quo, where the Occupation became permanent and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was denied any political base in the newly occupied territories.

Among other things, the Israeli government aimed at creating an ‘alternative’ Palestinian leadership that would engage with Israel with trivial, non-political matters, therefore marginalizing the PLO and its inclusive political program.

In April 1976, the Israeli government, then led by Yitzhak Rabin, conducted local elections in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel had, by then, assembled another group of Palestinian ‘leaders’, which consisted mostly of traditional heads of clans – a small, self-seeking oligarchy that historically accommodated whatever foreign power happened to be ruling over Palestinians.

Israel was almost certain that its hand-picked allies were ready to sweep the local elections. But the Occupation had its unintended consequences, which surprised the Israelis themselves. For the first time since Israel’s creation, all of historic Palestine was now under Israeli control. This also meant that the Palestinian people were, once again, part of the same demographic unit, which allowed for coordinated political mobilization and popular resistance.

These efforts were largely facilitated by the Palestinian National Front (PNF) which was founded in 1973 and comprised all Palestinian groups throughout Occupied Palestine. What irked Israel most is that the PNF had developed a political line that was largely parallel to that of the PLO.

To Israel’s dismay, the PNF decided to take part in the local elections, hoping that its victory could defeat the Israeli stratagem entirely. To thwart the PNF’s initiative, the Israeli army carried out a massive campaign of arrests and deportation of the group’s members, which included intellectuals, academics and local leaders.

But all had failed as Palestine’s new leaders won decisive victories, claiming most mayoral offices and bravely articulating an anti-occupation, pro-PLO agenda.

“We are for the PLO, and we say this in our electoral speeches,” the elected Mayor of Ramallah, Karim Khalaf, said at the time. “The people who come along to our meetings do not ask about road improvements and new factories; we want an end to the Occupation.”

Bassam Shakaa was at the forefront of that nascent movement, whose ideals and slogans spread out to all Palestinian communities, including those inside Israel.

Bassam Al Shakaa

Bassam Al Shakaa following an assassination attempt

Despite decades of exile, fragmentation and Occupation, the Palestinian national identity was now at its zenith, an outcome the Israeli government could never have anticipated.

In October 1978, Shakaa, Khalaf and the other empowered mayors were joined by city councilors and leaders of various nationalist institutions to form the National Leadership Committee, the main objective of which was to challenge the disastrous Camp David agreement and the resulting marginalization of the Palestinian people and their leadership.

On July 2, 1980, a bomb planted by a Jewish terrorist group, blew up Shakaa’s car, costing him both of his legs. Another targeted Khalaf, who had one of his legs amputated. The leaders emerged even stronger following the assassination attempts.

“They ripped off both my legs, but this only means that I am closer to my land,” said Shakaa from his hospital bed.

“I have my heart, my intellect and a just aim to fight for, I don’t need my legs.”

In November 1981, the Israeli government dismissed the nationalist mayors, including Shakaa. But that was not the end of his struggle which, following the formation of the PA in Ramallah in 1994, acquired a new impetus.

Shakaa challenged the PA’s corruption and subservience to Israel. His frustration with the PA led him to help draft and to sign, in 1999, a “Cry from the Homeland”, which denounced the PA for its “systematic methodology of corruption, humiliation and abuse against the people.” As a result, the PA placed Shakaa, then 70, under house arrest. 

However, it was that very movement created by Shakaa, Khalaf and their peers that sowed the seeds for the popular Palestinian uprising in 1987. In fact, the ‘First Intifada’ remains the most powerful popular movement in modern Palestinian history.

May Shakaa rest in peace and power, now that he has fulfilled his historic mission as one of Palestine’s most beloved leaders and true organic intellectuals of all times.

Feature photo | Bassam Al Shakaa poses in front of an Israeli police vehicle just one week after being released from an Israeli jail.

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His last book is ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’ (Pluto Press, London). Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and was a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California Santa Barbara. His website iswww.ramzybaroud.net

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

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