القادة الكبار يتركون بصمتهم ويتخطّون أحزابهم الأسد ونصرالله… وعون؟

القادة الكبار يتركون بصمتهم ويتخطّون أحزابهم الأسد ونصرالله… وعون؟

ناصر قنديل

يناير 31, 2017

– من ضمن التغييرات التي أدخلتها ثورة الاتصالات والمعلوماتية والإعلام على صناعة السياسة، تقديم الزعماء للناس مباشرة وتوفير فرص تحوّلهم رموزاً يتخطى إشعاعهم مساحة ـ أثير حركاتهم وأحزابهم وأحياناً بلدانهم، ومن الطبيعي في البدايات أن يرتبك القادة المخلصون لأفكارهم وحركاتهم وأحزابهم أمام هذا التحوّل، ويُصرّون على أنهم يدينون بما هم عليه للأحزاب التي يقودونها ومنحتهم ثقتها، ويعتبرون أحياناً إعلان الولاء لهم وليس لأحزابهم نوعاً من فك الصلة المرفوض والمفخخ بين ثنائي الحزب والقائد، ونفاقاً مبرمجاً لإضعاف الحزب تمهيداً لإضعاف القائد، لكن مع تقادم الحالة وتطورها يكشتفون أنّ الأمر أبعد مدى من حدود مواقف أفراد منافقين يتودّدون ويتقرّبون من مركز قرار لحساب مصالح، بل هو واحد من معايير النجاح والفوز بخدمة القضية التي يؤمنون بها وحزبهم، والتي بدون امتلاك مساحة تأثير تتخطى الحزبية تعجز عن تحقيق النصر.

– في تجربة حزب الله في لبنان والعلاقة بين شعبية الحزب والهالة المعينة لأمينه العام شيء من تاريخ هذه الإشكالية، وفي تجربة الرئيس بشار الأسد وحزب البعث صفحة لا تقلّ أهمية في تاريخ مشابه، والتمييز بين البيعة لقائد من دون حزبه من جهة أو كيل المديح لقائد للذم بحزبه من جهة أخرى، يصير هو الحدّ الفاصل لصدقية الحالة وتوسّع الهالة. فحول السيد نصرالله مريدون لا يتسع لهم حزبه لأسباب عقائدية ومذهبية ودينية ووطنية وقومية، فمنهم من غير دينه وبلده وأمته وبعضهم يراه زعيماً مجدداً لحركة تحرّر عالمية، أو على الأقل لا نقاش في كونه وارث ماو تسي تونغ كزعيم لحركات المقاومة، وفي حال الرئيس الأسد لا نقاش في تقدّمه كزعيم للعروبة المجدّدة، وفي الحالتين لا يرتبط التسليم بالزعامة بتسليم مشابه لزعامة الحزب من دون أن يصدّ القائل أو المؤيد أو المبايع والمتأثر بصدق برمزية القائد وتاريخيته.

– في مراحل لاحقة من التأقلم مع الحالة واليقين بكونها قوة للحزب وليست سبباً لضعفه، بل تأمين حماية واسعة لخياراته في شرائح متزايدة من الرأي العام، يصير نقاش حال الحزب وارداً ونقده بحضور القائد، ويصير الإصغاء والاهتمام بالملاحظات علامة على كون القائد قائداً للحزب ولشعب لا يعرفه كله، لكنه يعرف أنه يتخطى شعبية الحزب، وهو كقائد لكليهما معني بالعدل بينهما، وبالسعي لتوفيق نظرة كلّ منهما للآخر، فلا يكيد الحزب لمحبي ومريدي القائد من خارج الحزب وهم في غالبهم قادة أحزاب سابقون ومناضلون ذوو تاريخ، ولا يصير همّ المريدين النيل من الحزب وتشويهه وإضعافه، والقائد حكم بين الشريحتين وقائد لكليهما، وفي مراحل لاحقة يصير الحزب رصيد للقائد لتحالفات يقيمها بقوة العلاقة بهذه الشرائح التي ترفد زعامته من خارج حزبه، يمنحها مواقع وأدواراً على حساب حزبه وبرضاه. وهذا ما يفعله الرئيس الأسد مع مستقلين سوريين وشخصيات فنية وثقافية وعلمية، وما يفعله السيد نصرالله في تحالفات تستدعي تنازلات نيابية ووزارية من رصيد الحزب.

– يخوض العماد ميشال عون، بعد فوزه برئاسة الجمهورية اللبنانية مساراً يضعه بسرعة في مصاف القادة التاريخيين الكبار، فقد أظهر في محطات متلاحقة قدرة عالية على الثبات والقوة والجرأة في قول وفعل ما يجب أن يُقال ويُفعل، ونجح بصناعة مهابة لمقام الرئاسة كان يفتقدها، وفي مواقفه في رحلته الخليجية وكلامه عن حزب الله، وفي حواراته الإعلامية الأوروبية وكلامه عن سورية والرئيس الأسد، ولكن بصورة خاصة في أدائه المانع لمعادلة الاختيار بين قانون الستين للانتخابات النيابية والتمديد لمجلس النواب اللبناني وصولاً لقوله لا تخيّروني فسأختار الفراغ ما جعل الرئيس العماد يكرّس ثقة وتعلق شرائح واسعة به كقائد بعيداً عن علاقة هذه الشرائح بحزبه. والرئيس دستورياً رئيس لكلّ اللبنانيين وليس لمحازبيه، وللكلّ فيه ومنه قدر متساوٍ، لكن حتى خارج لبنان بدأ الحديث مبكراً عن الرئيس العماد كظاهرة قادرة على ترك بصمة تاريخية، كرمز لبناء الدولة المدنية في الشرق. وهذه رمزية لم يشغلها أحد بعد ومتاح للعماد الرئيس أن يفعل.

– بقدر ما يبدو من حق التيار الوطني الحر أن يناقش قانون الانتخاب أسوة بسائر الأحزاب من موقع حساباته ومصالحه الانتخابية، من ضمن الحرص على مصداقية الاتصال بالمبادئ التي ينتسب إليها، يبدو من واجب الرئيس العماد الابتعاد عن هذه الحسابات والوقوف على مسافة واحدة من الناخبين الذين يحق لهم قانون يمثل أصواتهم من جهة والمشرّعين الساعين لقانون يعيد إنتاج زعاماتهم، وليس لعب دور الحكم بين الحاكمين المشرعين الممسكين بناصية صياغة القانون والذين لا ينكرون أنهم يدافعون عن مصالهم، ليقف الرئيس مدافعاً عن صوت الناخب ومصالحه. وهنا لا بدّ من المصارحة بالقول إنّ كلّ قانون صالح للتمثيل لا يهمل صوتاً لناخب، ويمنحه أوسع فرصة للتأثير، لا يمكن أن يقوم إلا على النسبية والدائرة الأوسع، وفي حال لبنان الدائرة الواحدة، وأول أخطاء أهل النسبية هو حملة التشويه التي أدخلوها على مشروعهم أو ارتضوا إدخالها بداعي البحث عن التسويات والحديث عن الواقعية، فقبلوا نسبية وطائفية وثم نسبية ودوائر صغيرة وصولاً لنسبية على مقعد واحد كمهزلة، وأخيراً نسبي وأكثري في مجلس واحد، ليصير المطلوب من رئيس الجمهورية ردّ النقاش إلى حيث يجب أن يكون، مطالبة مجلس النواب والحكومة بخطة مرحلية لتطبيق المادة 22 من الدستور التي مضى على وجودها ربع قرن ولم تجد مَن يقول متى وكيف تطبّق، وتحدّد وحدها المضمون الإصلاحي للدستور عملياً باعتبار السلطة التشريعية أمَّ السلطات في النظام البرلماني. وبعد ضياع تاريخي في البحث عن قانون انتخابي مناسب تقدّم لنا المادة الدستورية وصفة مناسبة، وإذا القانون المطلوب لا يمكن أن يكون إلا تسوية. وهذا صحيح، تسوية بين النسبي والأكثري، وهذا صحيح، وتسوية بين الطائفي واللاطائفي، وهذا صحيح أيضاً، وتسوية بين الدائرة الكبرى والدائرة الصغرى، وهذا صحيح أيضاً وأيضاً. لكنه تسوية بين الناخبين والمشرّعين قبل كلّ شيء، وتسوية من ضمن الدستور وهذا هو الأهمّ.

– التسوية المنشودة لا تكون دستورية وواقعية ومنصفة للناخبين ومدخلاً للإصلاح، وقابلة للقبول من المشرّعين أصحاب المصالح الانتخابية، إلا إذا انطلقت من أنّ المختلط الوحيد بين عناصر التسوية هو قسمتها بين مجلسين، كما قال الدستور، مجلس لا طائفي ونسبي وفي لبنان دائرة واحدة، ومجلس على أساس طائفي ودوائر صغرى. والتسوية التفاوضية التي تعكس موازين القوى ليست في تلبيس النسبية ثوباً أكثرياً أو العكس، بل في توزيع عدد أعضاء كلّ من المجلسين وصلاحياته، وخطة مرحلية للتدرّج في تعديل العدد والصلاحيات بينهما، فالدستور قال بمجلس لا طائفي له الصلاحيات الأساسية، ومجلس شيوخ يمثل العائلات الروحية بصلاحيات محدودة، ويوحي النص بأنّ المجلس اللاطائفي هو الأوسع عدداً وصلاحيات ومجلس الشيوخ الطائفي هو الأضيق عدداً وصلاحيات. وقد تقتضي التسوية البدء بعدد وصلاحيات معكوستين، فينال المجلس الطائفي العدد والصلاحيات الأوسع وينال المجلس اللاطائفي العدد والصلاحيات الأضيق، وتلحظ الخطة المرحلية تدرّجاً ربما يستمرّ ربع قرن آخر لبلوغ ما سعت إليه المادة 22 من الدستور، لكن خيراً من أن ندخل ربع قرن من الإحباط بقانون نترحّم معه على قانون الستين، يمضي كربع القرن الذي مضى.

– فخامة الرئيس القيادة التاريخية بصمة في الموقف التاريخي وفي الواقعية في صناعة التسويات معاً، وذلك متاح لك، ولك وحدك، فدع حزبك يحارب على جبهته كحزب له مصالح انتخابية، ويتطلع إليك اللبنانيون والتاريخ لتكون الحكم بين مجموع أصحاب المصالح الانتخابية من جهة، والناخبين الذين لا يمثلهم سواك من جهة أخرى.

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TERRORIST ‘ALLOOSH ANNOUNCES UNITY WITH SYRIAN GOVERNMENT TO FIGHT ISIS; WE TOLD YOU SO

Ziad Fadel 

Only Syrian Perspective has been telling its readers the truth about Zahraan ‘Alloosh and his efforts to use the Saudi card to engineer his extraction from the noisome mess in which he finds himself today.  In the picture seen above, during happier days when he had the key to Istanbul, he slurped, snarled, ranted and raved about his great “Army of Islam” and how he was going to liberate Syria by sending it back 10 centuries to the Dark Ages.

‘Alloosh has been negotiating with the Syrian authorities for months now.  The advances of the Syrian Army so close to his favorite spider hole have somehow convinced him to make an offer Dr. Assad could easily refuse.  ‘Alloosh has told the Syrian authorities he “wants to participate with the Syrian state in fighting ISIS.”  He also has told our cynical generals that he is “the best suited to fight ISIS”. Yawn.

But get this, he has announced his desire to join in the search for a “political solution” to the Syrian catastrophe he helped to create.  Isn’t that reassuring?  He may wind up in Moscow with the opposition to negotiate his own descent into oblivion.

An officer who defected from the Syrian Army to join ‘Alloosh, Abu ‘Udayy, responded to the statements of his leader.  Your editor, Ziad, will translate some of the responses:

“’Alloosh spoke his words during a speech attended by major leaders and notables in the various groupings of the Ghoutaa.”  He then went on: “He (i.e. ‘Alloosh) has emerged in our eyes as a new form of “Shabbeeh” on Syrian soil.”  He continuted:  “Lastly, Zahraan said it openly after his negotiations with the “regime” were going on in secret.”  “His true face has appeared after those who came before him like Jamaal Ma’roof and ‘Abdul-Jabbaar Al-‘Ukaydi”.  He concluded his diatribe against ‘Alloosh by asking in colloquial Syrian: “What do you call this leader?”

Well, we know exactly what to call him.  In any case, some of you who enjoy linking events together might consider the fact that Syria has the intention of reopening its embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, during the next 14 days.  Coincidence? Maybe.  Enjoy victory, my friends.

By the way, ‘Alloosh reads SyrPer. We kept telling him how close the SAA was getting. Nyuk.

Doumaa:  A Libyan monkey working for ‘Alloosh was killed by the SAA last night, a Mu’aadh Al-Mashshaati.  We believe ‘Allosh turned him in.  Good show, Zahraan.

 

ALLOOSH SHOWS GOOD FAITH BY TURNING DOUMA’S CITIZENS OVER TO THE SAA FOR RELIEF.  IT IS JUST HAPPENING NOW.

THE LIBERATION OF DOUMAA IS AT HAND. !!!!

 

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Da’ish (IS), FSA and al Nursa Compete for Dwindling Support

 Barzeh neighborhood, Damascus
by FRANKLIN LAMB

Syria, map of DamascusChanges are underway in Damascus’s suburban neighborhoods. In some of these neighborhoods there are few families’ left—only fighters. But in others, residents are trickling back in (or in some cases never even left) despite the danger. Here in these areas, those who have chosen the armed opposition route fall are grouped roughly in the following percentiles: 70% FSA, 25% Al Nursa, and, as of now, relatively few, Da’ish (IS).

During meetings with young men from the Barzeh neighborhood, an area maybe five blocks by eight blocks, this observer learned of approximately 700 FSA fighters in the neighborhood, 110 from al Nursa, compared with only 7 or 8 Da’ish fighters. The latter do not appear very active in community matters, but reportedly keep their eyes peeled watching what the other militia are up to. Even so, Dai’sh still recruits and sends applicants to other locations for military training, this while promising that within two months the Islamic State will attack central Damascus.

At the same time, desertions among the rebels are reportedly on the upswing in these areas, and some of the FSA and al-Nusra fighters are splitting off to join Da’ish. It seems that some of these young militia members—pretty much like youngsters everywhere—simply want to play for a ‘winning team’ or in the ‘big leagues,’ and Da’ish is still a strong magnet for ‘tryouts.’ Al-Nusra and Da’ish fighters both claim they are eager to fight Hezbollah—and Western forces—who they believe will show up sooner or later. And many of them exhibit an attitude similar to that of a European jihadist who recently remarked to this observer, “Let’s get it on. And the world will itself judge who are the best fighters, we who believe in Allah or the kuffers (disbelievers).”

Another disturbing attitude, all too frequently expressed in Damascene neighborhoods, is the desire of many of these young men, many of them from “good” families, to sacrifice themselves and become martyrs to their various causes. Residents report that some of the most promising students—majoring in subjects like medicine, law, engineering, computer science, business and other professions—are disaffected and see no future for themselves. And while many are deeply religious, a surprising number appear not to be.

Overwhelmingly the rebels come from areas where outsiders are few. This observer’s friend of more than three years, whose name I withhold for his security, has lived most of his life in Barzeh and knows many of the militia guys. He reports that currently there are only two foreign fighters in Barzeh, one from Algeria and the other from Saudi Arabia. And he expressed shock to me that a friend of his from childhood—who joined al-Nusra 18 months ago and had since become one of its local leaders—had suddenly disappeared. A few days later, my friend got a ‘what’s up’ message from Turkey and learned that his friend had shaved his beard, changed his style of clothing, and left Barzeh without telling anyone. Now he reports that he wears shorts and swims during the day on the Turkish coast and no longer has any desire to fight anyone.

Many among al Nusra and other rebel groups, it seems, are trying to leave Syria and go somewhere, anywhere, that might offer them a positive future of some sort—because they see the war in Syria as being a long one. And in this respect they are no different from the war-weary, exhausted, traumatized Syrian population in general. With very few jobs and nearly ten million displaced from their homes—and with some 3 million living as refugees in neighboring countries—what one finds here on the one hand is a growing desire to get out, to establish, sadly, a new life elsewhere, in a land other than the one they most love. Yet on the other, significant numbers of fairly hard-core al-Nusra fighters, as noted above, are quitting that militia in order to join the winning team—Da’ish. It is a combination of social factors pointing to what the Iranians have already made note of: that Obama’s strategy of trying to fight Da’ish and the Syrian government at the same time is probably doomed to failure.

Some Syrian analysts, whose views this observer credits, identify two trends that appear to be developing in Syrian neighborhoods controlled by violent militia. One is the growing resistance by the local population to being intimidated and abused by the occupying gunmen—while another is the role the Syrian government is playing in engaging in dialog, usually privately, with the rebels, and offering what some locals here refer to as “contracts.” These are proposals of ceasefires of varying scope in order to help give some hope and help to the increasingly besieged population.

Also, neighborhood attitudes toward militia in areas around Damascus are dramatically changing. This observer is advised by fighters from Barzeh that as recently as 12-18 months ago, maybe 80% of the citizens supported the FSA, while some backed al Nusra or other groups. Today militia support is estimated at less than 40%—and dwindling. Even those who still back the armed gangs are weaker in their support and no longer respect the militia or defer to them as before. Increasingly neighborhood residents are confronting the rebels on neighborhood streets via ‘citizen committees.’ They are showing up at rebel checkpoints or headquarters to complain or demand respect and an end to arbitrary street “justice.” Reasons for this include abhorrence of brutality, exhaustion, disillusionment, as well as demonstrable efforts by the Syrian government to increase and maintain services while trying to make important and long overdue changes. Even many rebels are said to credit the government for its willingness to be flexible and to make “contracts” with them to improve the lives of the besieged population.

For example, when families return to their homes after having fled, nearly all find that their flats have been broken into and personal property stolen, and they sometimes discover some of their stolen items being sold in neighborhood ‘jihadist souks.’ According to one resident of Barzeh, computers and plasma TV’s are among the most commonly stolen property. By contrast, “neighborhood watch” citizen groups seek the return of stolen goods and demand that the militias stop the thievery.

Also people are increasingly calling for a return to Syrian secularism, and they may actually be making some progress on this point. Unlike Da’ish, al Nursa does not insist that people attend a mosque for prayers—while the FSA is relatively secular. Nursa does require that women wear hijabs in neighborhoods under its control, and the first two times a woman is caught without one she is issued a warning. The third time she risks a public whipping. This observer is advised that many younger women, despite the risks, will remove their head scarves the moment they cross out of rebel-held areas, sometimes in plain view of those manning the checkpoints, leaving the neighborhood at this point, traveling to downtown Damascus for work or other purposes. It’s not dissimilar actually to what one finds among many Iranian women, particularly students at Tehran University, who openly admit, often with grins, to giving the local “morality police” a hard time when demands—for instance to adjust their headscarves so as to reduce the amount of hair visible—are made by roving “purists.”

As for the Free Syrian Army, now dubbed by some in the Obama Administration as the “National Coalition—kind of like the National Guard”—it is viewed by many here as corrupt, manned to a large extent by lowlifes and thieves. The “Free Syrian Army,” as one pithy adage has it, is neither free, nor Syrian, nor an army. And at least in Barzeh, at any rate, it is also viewed as being for sale to the highest bidder. Moreover, the residents here, though increasingly vocal about jihadist militias, seem to hold actually more respect for al-Nusra, despite its Islamist extremism, than for the Western-backed FSA.

Late word just received by this observer from his friend, the aforementioned son of Barzeh: yesterday he, too, snuck across the Syrian-Turkey border in search of a new life-somewhere until peace returns to his beloved Syria.

Franklin Lamb is a visiting Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law, Damascus University and volunteers with the Sabra-Shatila Scholarship Program (sssp-lb.com). 

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Houthi: Yemenis’ Sacrifices Contributed to Victory, Despotism Won’t Rule Again

Local Editor

Sayyed Abdul-Malik Al-HouthiSayyed Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi, the leader of Yemen’s Houthi group, asserted that the political dominance and the socio-economic corruption are the main enemy of all the Yemenis who are concerned with protecting the achievement of their revolution.

Addressing the Yemenis after concluding an agreement with government to end the political crisis in the country, Sayyed Houthi hailed the revolution and considered that the efforts and sacrifices of all the citizens contributed to the victory.

Sayyed Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi hails the army’s participation in the revolution events, including the rallies and the sit-ins, adding that the army proved to be patriotic as it rejected to assault the demonstrators and to prevent them from reaching their noble aims.

Sayyed Houthi also greeted the role of the public committees who contributed to removing all the obstacles that hinder the progress of the Yemenis, stating that these committees can assist the regular army in the coming stage to protect the country.

He also called on the Yemenis to keep alert till implementing all the items of the agreement with the president, considering that the next steps must be forming a national unity government and conducting socio-economic reforms.

“Backing the army and preserving the national unity help fortify the security situation in the country,” Houthi leader said, stressing his movement’s will to contact all political factions and to support the southerners in their quest of justice.

Sayyed Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi warned of a conspiracy being plotted against the army across the country.

Highlighting the importance of reaching the ” State of Justice” in order to earn the Yemenis’ rights, Sayyed Houthi underlined that the Yemenis will not let despotism to rule the country again, hinting to Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar who was one of key figures of the former regime.

Source: Al-Manar Website

23-09-2014 – 19:39 Last updated 23-09-2014 – 9:52

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HUNDREDS SURRENDERING TO SYRIAN ARMY TO FIGHT AMERICAN INVADERS; HOMS, HAMA AND IDLIB EXPLODING

Ziad Fadel

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DAMASCUS:  If that idiot, Obama, thinks his plan to attack Syria is going to work, it will be over the bodies of thousands of penitent Syrians who have rejointed the human race.  Yesterday and today, hundreds have continued to re-defect back to the Syrian fold and flip an angry finger at that cowardly whoremonger, Barack Obama.  Today, 121 former terrorists negotiated successfully for Amnesty with security personnel in Mu’adhdhamiyyat Al-Qalamoon, Ma’loolaa and Jub’adeen.  176 surrendered and received Amnesty in Jayrood and Al-Ruhayba.  If this continues,  there will be no more Syrians fighting with the American terrorists and war criminals.  There will only be Libyans, Tunisians and other assorted ape trash.

 

 

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The western media is, once again, hyping non-events with claims that the so-called Southern Front has taken over the Qunaytra Province.  Far from the truth.  In fact, it’s pure drivel.  It is the gang of terrorists operated by the Zionist Nazi regime who are filling Zionist hospitals with dead and wounded.  No such successes are reported and the SAA continues to shellac the rats in every corner of the Golan.  This, while Iran has begun calling up reserve forces and while Russia is quietly delivering its most advanced weapons to Latakia and Tartous.

Al-Dukhkhaaniyya:  The SAA put to death the following rodents:

Hilaal Al-Sha’aar

Sameer Shawka

Adham Al-Khateeb

Safwaan Al-Baashaa

Saleem Yunus

Another 2 could not be identified.

 

Jawbar:  At the Tayyiba Mosque, a large cache of weapons was seized and these killed:

Mustafaa ‘Aadel

Ahmad Al-Bakkaar

Zaahi Al-Sagheer

Muhammad ‘Ujoob

 

‘Aaliya Farms:  ‘Alloosh is starting to wet his pants:

Ahmad Seessaan

Muhammad Majeed

 

Doumaa: At the Al-Ziraa’ah Roundabout:

Muhammad Thaabit

Sa’ood Munassar

Muhammad Taahaa

Najdaat Fadhl

Ayman Kahloos

 

Waadi ‘Ayn Turma:  12 rats killed and 19 taken prisoner in a raid by SAA and NDF.  Stunning defeat for Nusra and Jabhat Al-Islam:

Talaal Khursheed

Taamer Tutunji

‘Abdul-Salaam Al-Kadeesh

Ghayth Mansoor

The remaining carcasses were foreigners.

 

Hutaytat Al-Jarash area northeast of Al-Maleeha

9 rodents jumped in a free fall straight to Hell.  All were foreigners.

 

Al-Nishaabiyya Farms:  No details about many rats killed here.  The technology is overwhelming the rats.   

_________
Read more

AS FOREIGN INSURGENTS CONTINUE TO TERRORIZE SYRIA, THE RECONCILIATION TREND GROWS

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by Eva Bartlett / August 22nd, 2014, Dissident Voice

In June, 2014, I met with Dr. Ali Haidar, Syria’s Minister of National Reconciliation, in his Damascus office. An eye surgeon and leader of the SSNP (Syrian Social Nationalist Party, an opposition party within Syria), Dr. Haidar assumed position as Minister of Reconciliation in June 2012.

Eva Bartlett: What is ‘Mussalaha’ (‘Reconciliation’)?  How did it begin?

Dr. Ali Haidar: In February, 2012, the Syrian government changed the constitution, and in May Syria held Parliamentary elections. We, as an opposition party, joined the elections, because we believe that the solution is Syria is a political one, reconciliation between all Syrians…when there is talk between all Syrians.

After much discussion in Parliament, we drafted the paperwork requesting to start a Reconciliation Ministry. President Bashar al-Assad supported the idea, and the Ministry was established in June, 2012 when the President decreed the formation of a new cabinet.

Reconciliation isn’t that we are making a deal with armed insurgents. The idea is to restore the state of security in Syria. In our work towards reconciliation, we look at two main sectors: One, the insurgents, and the other, Syrian civilians living in areas controlled by the insurgents.

Regarding the insurgents, we differentiate between the Syrian insurgents and the foreign militias. The latter refuse any dialogue with the government and are simply terrorists in Syria. And unfortunately, they are large in numbers and are the leaders of the dominant insurgent groups. The only people we communicate with are armed Syrians, not with the foreign militias.

We encourage armed Syrians to cut any ties with the foreign militias. Then, we negotiate with them on how to reconcile. We’ve been very successful, in many areas, having them disarm and go back to their normal lives. We’ve had thousands of successes.

The second focus is on Syrian society. Syrians are suffering in all respects: their security and safety, the economy, social services, education, the large number of martyrs and injured, the kidnapped, the missing, the internally-displaced… We are trying to find a solution to each one of these cases. That is the deepest meaning of ‘reconciliation’: to return people to their normal lives.

EB: What is the role of grassroots activists in the Reconciliation effort?

AH: Although there are citizens involved, it is not a ‘grassroots’ movement; it came from the government to the people. One week after establishing the Ministry of Reconciliation, I went to Homs to begin working on the reconciliation which we are seeing today.

In Homs, it has been a long process, because each area has its own mentality, own society, so we have to deal with each area individually. the Old City is different than that of Waer district, for example.

We are evaluate each area, whether there are armed fighters or not, foreign or local, whether we can negotiate with them or not, whether they are supported from outside or not, the number of civilians in the area and the degree of their suffering. All of these factors determine our success in reconciliation. This is what we are working on nationally.

EB: What guarantee is there for the return to civil life of those armed men who lay down their weapons?

AH: When Reconciliation first started, people wanted a guarantee that they would not be persecuted by the government. At first, in Homs, five people laid down their arms, and soon after they were released. Today, thousands have joined reconciliation, this is the guarantee to others. Those who have laid down their arms have not been arrested. We confront the allegations of Western media with the truth on the ground.

As an example of the reconciliation process, in Homs we established the Andalus school for rehabilitation. The armed fighters went from their area to this school, received everything they needed, including access to phones to contact their families. They spent a few days there, had meetings for rehabilitation, and returned to their families and are living with their families.

EB: Where have reconciliation efforts been successful?

AH: In many areas. The first reconciliation, and which has not been widely acknowledged, was in Banias, one of the first areas where armed people and problems occurred. For a while it was a very dangerous place, and today is one of the most beautiful and calm cities in Syria. In the countryside of Latakia there were battles, but now it is largely calm, people are living normal lives.

In the suburbs of Deir ez-Zor, the town of Quriya was the base of al-Qaeda-allied insurgents, has been restored to security.

In Homs and its countryside we have had excellent successes. North of Hama, south of Idlib, there have been more areas reconciled. And aside from Homs, Damascus and its suburbs—like Zabadani, Berza, Moadamiya—are our largest successes.

Now were are working in the suburbs of Aleppo and Idlib, in Qunitra. Even in Daara we’ve had successes. The Reconciliation project isn’t just in one area, it is nationwide.

EB: Are areas along Syria’s borders more difficult areas in which to achieve reconciliation?

AH: In areas close to the borders of Turkey, Jordan, Palestine it is more difficult, because of outside intervention, and because at the moment the government cannot control all of those borders. When the government was able to take control of the border with Lebanon, they were able to bring calm to the towns near the border, with a few exceptions.

Turkey and Jordan have opened their borders and allowed al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups to base themselves in their countries and cross into and out of Syria. They give them all sorts of support. These areas are battlefields, not civilian areas, so it is more difficult to bring calm, reconciliation, in those areas where foreign terrorist groups reside.

More than eighty percent of Syrian people live in or have fled to safe, government-controlled areas. Ten percent have fled Syria, and ten percent are in areas controlled by the armed groups.

In all areas where there are foreign-backed militias, like Jobar, Yarmouk, Harrasta, Waer, Idlib suburbs…the armed groups have prevented reconciliation, even killing those who attempt to lay down their arms.

EB: Has there been any external, political, support from the United Nations or any others outside Syria?

AH: We don’t get any political support, except from countries who are friends of Syria. To the contrary, America, Britain, France, Turkey…they have attacked the idea of reconciliation. Hillary Clinton publicly called for the armed groups to never give up their arms. Erdogan told them not to join reconciliation. Some of the armed groups’ sheikhs and Saudi sheikhs and have issued fatwas (religious edicts) that it is ‘haram’ (forbidden) to give up their arms.

Even though I’m the head of a Syrian opposition party, and joined the government from the position of an opposition party, because I’m involved in reconciliation, the EU put my name on its travel ban list, and would have frozen my bank accounts, but I don’t have any foreign accounts and have no plans of leaving either Syria or the government.

In the beginning, I tried to speak with those few ambassadors who had not yet left Syria, to no avail. I told them that I am ready to go to their countries and meet with any Syrian citizens there, as well as media, and discuss reconciliation.

EB: Final words?

AH: Reconciliation is like a marathon: there are those who’ve reached the end, those who are a few metres away, and those who are slow.

In the past two years, more than 10,000 Syrians have reconciled and returned to their homes and normal civilian lives.

*****

Following our discussion, I learned of Dr. Haidar’s own loss, like that of Syria’s Grand Mufti, Dr. Ahmad Badreddin, whose son Sarya was assassinated in October 2011. During the funeral, while sobbing, the Mufti called for forgiveness and reconciliation and forgave those who murdered his son.

Syria's Grand Mufti, Dr. Ahmad Badreddin, meeting with our international peace delegation in April 2014.

 

Dr. Haidar’s son was gunned down while in a car driving northwest of Homs: “My son, Ismail, was in third year of medical school. On May 2, 2012, he was assassinated, as was the driver of the car. It was an attempt to assassinate me. This was before I joined the Ministry, I was just an eye doctor and head of the SSNP. We have so many martyrs, there is no one more precious than another, they are all Syrian.”

 

see also:

Syrian families back in capital after deal implementation

Aug 22, 2014 [VIDEO at original link]

Hundreds of Syrian families have returned home in southern Damascus following a deal between the Syrian government and some militants, Press TV reports.

Calm is returning to the strategic areas south of the Syrian capital after a reconciliation deal was implemented between the government and some militant groups.

Five-hundred families, who had left the towns of al-Qadam and al-Essali over two years ago following battles there, were allowed by the Syrian government to enter the area and inspect their houses. Humanitarian assistance was also provided by the Syrian army.

“We left the town three years ago. We heard about a reconciliation and we hope it works. We will enter to check on our homes,” said one female Syrian.

The families gathered on the outskirts of the area and were transported in busses by the Syrian government close to the exchange point.

It turned out that some of those entering were families of armed men inside al-Qadam who the government allowed in as a sign of willingness to make the reconciliation work. The armed men were just across the street waiting for the arrival of their families.

The fact that civilians have started flocking into al-Qadam signals a positive sign. Nevertheless, only time would prove how successful the deal is.

Member of reconciliation team Abu Hamzeh Ghneim said, “We want to stop bloodshed between Syrians. We want reconciliation to be achieved. We are trying to build trust among all parties. The government and armed men in Qadam should be together facing Takfiri militants.”

The reconciliation, if implemented fully, would bring back peace to the quarters of al-Qadam, Essali, Bor Saeed, and al-Jorah. Syrian armed men, previously fighting the Syrian army, would join it to fight Takfiri militant groups such as the ISIL. The deal would also secure one of the most important industrial zones in the capital.

Presidential election a positive step

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May 29, 2014, Ken Stone, the Spec

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed as “farce” the upcoming Syrian presidential election of June 3, but it may prove to be a step toward a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

This election is an exercise in real democracy.

On Feb. 26, 2012, in response to demands for constitutional change from the Syrian people, the Syrian constitution was reformed and ratified by a general referendum to allow for multiparty elections. In fact, this will be the first free election in Syrian history in which more than one candidate has stood for election for president. If Western governments are really interested in bringing freedom and democracy to Syria, why would they oppose it?

The new Syrian constitution requires a presidential election by July. If there weren’t an election, President Bashar Assad would no longer have a mandate to rule, which, of course, is the principal reason Kerry doesn’t want the election to take place.

The U.S. has been the main architect of the covert, illegal war against Syria organized through the so-called “Friends of Syria Group,” including Western countries such as Canada, as well as Arab monarchies, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who have organized mainly non-Syrian mercenaries — many openly allied to al Qaeda — to attempt to overthrow the Syrian government.

It’s important to note that the mercenaries, controlling 30 per cent of Syrian territory, not only oppose, like Kerry, the June 3 election, but also refuse to hold elections in territory they control. The reasons are twofold: first, they would be voted out by the Syrians who live under their brutal foreign occupation. Secondly, their paymaster is the Saudi government, which is an absolute monarchy and tolerates no opposition.

Kerry also dismissed the upcoming election because tens of thousands of Syrians have been displaced by the fighting. It’s too bad Kerry isn’t familiar with U.S. history. Abraham Lincoln authorized a presidential election in 1864 in the midst of the bloody U.S. Civil War when the South was mostly under Confederate control.

The U.S., moreover, has a dismal track record in not respecting democratic elections and elected leaders. It has staged coups against dozens of elected governments around the world since 1945 and deposed scores of elected leaders, including most recently, Aristide of Haiti, Chavez of Venezuela, and Yanukovych of Ukraine. Its own elections are rife with voter suppression of minority populations, huge inequalities in campaign spending, fraudulent practices and extremely low turnouts. Kerry lives in a veritable glass house and shouldn’t throw stones.
Kerry is also personally responsible, whether he admits it or not, for the Syrian election being called at this time. At the Geneva 2 Conference last January, he sabotaged any chance of an internationally sanctioned, transitional government being formed in Syria by insisting Assad couldn’t be part of it. This insistence flew in the face of the Geneva 1 Communique (June 30, 2012), which stipulated there would be no preconditions to talks. Because the Geneva 2 Conference collapsed without reaching consensus, the Syrian government went ahead with the scheduled presidential election.

For that election, the Syrian government secured promises of election observers from the BRICs countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) to verify its fairness. However, Kerry went in the other direction. He and U.S. President Barack Obama personally welcomed leaders of a segment of the armed opposition to set up a bureau in Washington and promised them even more aid in their quest for regime change in Syria. It’s no wonder that Lakhdar Brahimi, the special UN mediator, threw up his hands and resigned a few days ago.

In areas controlled by the Syrian government, ordinary people are excited by the prospect of the election. Rallies and debates are taking place daily. Syrian expatriates are excited about voting in the three-way presidential contest as well. However, in North America, Syrian citizens will be denied a vote because the Harper and Obama administrations have shut down Syrian embassies.

It’s too bad the Harper and Obama governments are again standing in the way of democratic change in Syria.

The June 3 election might signify an important step toward national reconciliation between significant sectors of Syrian society and lead to a political, rather than military, solution to the conflict there.

Pro-elections rally in Aleppo. photo:

 

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Nun helps broker agreements between rebels, government

Paintings of Mary and Christ are seen in the damaged Um al-Zenar church in Homs, Syria, May 9. (CNS/Reuters/Khaled al-Hariri)

May, 20, 2014, National Catholic Reporter

For Syria’s three-year armed conflict to come to an end, all foreign fighters and the external powers that support them must first leave the country, said Mother Agnes Mariam, a Carmelite nun in Syria, during a public lecture April 29 at Saint Mary’s College of California. That departure, she said, would allow the Syrian people the safety to resolve their political differences through non-violent negotiations.

She has been working vigorously with the Mussalaha Reconciliation Initiative, a Syrian community-based non-violent collective, to achieve such a resolution. Her work has included brokering agreements between members of Syrian rebel forces and the government of President Bashar al-Assad to deliver food to beleaguered citizens and to arrange for the evacuation of women and children from conflict zones.

Recently she has convinced some fighters to put down their arms in exchange for amnesty. Some of these men are now working with Mussalaha, which she helped start in Homs in January 2012.

Mother Agnes Mariam, superior of the Monastery of St. James the Mutilated in Homs, is now on an international lecture tour to call attention to what she sees as media misrepresentations about the Syrian war that has left 150,000 dead and 9 million displaced.

During her lecture at St. Mary’s College, she said that the initial legitimate expression of opposition to policies and practices of the Assad government has been hijacked by extreme Islamists who are supported by outside governments and are trying to impose their views on all of Syria. 

Her appearance at the Christian Brothers’ college, nestled in the hills of Moraga east of Oakland, was not without controversy. Some in attendance interrupted her with accusations that she is too partial to the Assad government.  “I am a nun, not a geopoliticist or a diplomat,” she said. “I do not take sides. But I have experience and a conscience.” 

Michael McAlpin, communications director at St. Mary’s, told NCR that a half-dozen people called with objections to Mother Agnes Mariam’s presentation. “While we were respectful of the perspectives of those individuals, we welcome speakers to stimulate insightful and provocative conversation on campus,” he said.

She spoke passionately against the terror currently wielded by Islamic fundamentalists, known as “takfiris,”who are trying to impose their interpretation of Shariah law through extreme violence including kidnappings and beheadings. “We are back to the barbarian era,” she said.

In April, Jesuit Fr. Frans van der Lugt was assassinated in Homs. The 75-year-old priest had lived in Syria for nearly 50 years and had refused to leave this war-torn city, instead staying to help the poor and homeless. He was beaten by unidentified armed men and killed with two bullets to the head, according to the Jesuits’ Middle East province. Van der Lugt, a psychotherapist, had worked in Syria since 1966 and had been offering shelter in his monastery to Muslims and Christians left homeless by the war.

In December, Islamist rebels abducted 12 Greek Orthodox nuns from Syria’s ancient town of Maaloula, where Aramaic, the language of Jesus, is still spoken. They were released on March 9.

The takfiri movements, which include Al-Qaeda and ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham), are responsible for the vast majority of rebel violence, said Mother Agnes Mariam. The 61-year-old native of Lebanon insisted that most of these fighters are receiving armed support from other countries, especially the Gulf states and Western nations.  

Her conviction echoes that of Syrian Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo who, in a videotaped interview in late February on the Orantes website for Syrian Christians, said, “Unfortunately, the U.S., France, and England do nothing except add poison to things by aiding those who want to declare an Islamic state.” But, he added, peace is “always possible.” The first condition is for the “terrorists to leave.” When they are gone, he believes, “We Syrians can come to an agreement.”

That sentiment pervades much of the country, said Rick Sterling, an American peace activist who visited Damascus, Latakia and Homs last month with Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace laureate from Ireland, as part of an 18-person delegation. He told NCR that the delegation found a pervasive sentiment among Syrian religious leaders and citizens that many of the fighters are “stooges of foreign powers trying to destroy Syria.” Some of the fighters joined as a way to express their opposition to Assad, he said, but many are mercenaries eager to make money. In the process they become “indoctrinated into the extremes of Islam,” he said.

Maguire, in a published report on the trip, said the group met with Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios Laham and Grand Mufti Ahmad Badr al-Din Hassoun. They are “sure that if other countries will stop the flow of arms, fighters and other interference in Syria, the Syrian people will be able to reach an understanding amongst themselves and rebuild Syria together,” she wrote

Meanwhile, the fighting continues with attacks and counterattacks in what Mother Agnes Mariam termed the “engineering of chaos.” It has left Syria with more than 40 percent of its pre-conflict population as internal or external refugees.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres has called the situation “unconscionable. … No effort should be spared to forge peace.”

Last week, rebels in Homs agreed to a ceasefire and began leaving the besieged city. For her work to end the violence throughout, Mother Agnes Mariam was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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Mother Agnes-Mariam in NY May

Mother Agnes

Loretto Community at the UN

invites you to hear 

Mother Agnes-Mariam of the Cross

sponsored by the Syria Solidarity Movement   

What is Really Happening in Syria  Today?

Mother Agnes-Mariam of the Cross is Mother Superior at the Monastery and Convent of St. James the Mutilated in Qara, Syria.  Gunmen attacked her vehicle in May, 2013.  Much of the population in the towns around the monastery have been made refugees.

But Mother Agnes tells a story that is very different from what we get in the Western press.  She has spoken in Ireland and Australia, and organized an international delegation led by Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire to come to Syria.  And she is one of the main organizers of Mussalaha (“Reconciliation”), a popular movement in Syria that mediates disputes and organizes ceasefires between opposing forces.

                        Monday, May 12th from 1:00 to 3:00 pm
 
VENUE:                    Baha’i International Community UN Office
LOCATION:              866 UN Plaza
DIRECTIONS:          Just North of UN Complex, at 47th Street and 1stAvenue
CONTACT:               Sally Dunne – sdunne@lorettocommunity.org

President Assad: Syria Committed to Reconciliation

Local EditorPreseident Assad received local community leaders from the Damascus countryside

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stressed that the state is committed to reconciliation efforts aimed at stopping bloodshed in the crisis-hit country.

As he received local community leaders from the Damascus countryside, President Assad affirmed that the “state supports the process of national reconciliation in all Syrian areas based on its commitment to stop bloodshed,” official news agency, SANA reported.

He added that he believes that the “crisis cannot be resolved by foreign sides; rather it can only result from the efforts of Syrians alone, because Syrians are the most capable of finding solutions to their problems.”

The meeting with dignitaries discussed steps that were realized in terms of reconciliations in areas in Damascus Countryside and efforts to expand them to more areas, particularly since reconciliations produced positive effects on citizens’ conditions and daily lives in the areas where they succeeded, SANA noted.

The Syrian leader appreciated constructive efforts exerted by dignitaries in terms of reconciliation despite all the difficulties they face, asserting that the state’s establishments seek to bolster the role of dignitaries in consolidating and expanding reconciliations.

Source: Agencies

08-05-2014

 Related

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Ibrahim al-Amin: About the martyrs of Al-Manar, the situation in Syria and Lebanon

ابراهيم الامين _ مع الحدث / المنار 17 04 2014

PRESIDENT AL-ASSAD AFFIRMS IMPORTANCE OF REGIONAL COOPERATION TO CONFRONT EXTREMISM AND TERRORISM

Feb 26, 2014
Damascus, (SANA)

President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday received Chairman for the Foreign Policy and National Security Committee at the Iranian Shura Council, Alaeddin Boroujerdi and an accompanying delegation.

During the meeting, President al-Assad said that cooperation among countries of the region is key to confront extremism and terrorism, affirming the importance of coordination among parliaments of these courtiers and the friendly countries in this regards, as well as practicing more pressures to stop all forms of support offered by some states to the terrorist groups and extremist powers.
The president expressed the Syrian people’s appreciation for Iran’s stances in support of Syria on all levels in the interests of the two friendly countries, affirming that the victory achieved by the Iranian people in the nuclear file will be positively reflected on all peoples adhered to their sovereignty and independence of their decision.
For his part, Boroujerdi reiterated Iran’s firm stance in support of Syria’s struggle which stands in the first trench of resistance, saying that the successes gained by the Syrian people in the face of the most arrogant colonial powers and their tools in the region will form a juncture, not only in Syria’s history, but in the future of the peoples in the whole region.
Later, Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi discussed with Boroujerdi the economic and trade relations and means of developing them as well as activating the credit line between both countries.
In the same context, Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem met Boroujerdi, briefing him on the events of the first and second rounds of Geneva 2 conference
Boroujerdi: Solution to crisis in Syria comes through dialogue… the US cannot impose its dictatorial opinion on Syrian people
Chairman of the Foreign Policy and National Security Committee at the Iranian Shura Council, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, reiterated Iran’s support for Syria’s people and government in their war against terrorism.
At a press conference held in Damascus on Wednesday following his talks with Syrian officials , Boroujerdi said that one of the most important issues he discussed during his visit to Syria was supporting Syria which is at the forefront of resistance against the Zionist entity, in addition to discussing with Syrian officials political efforts to resolve the crisis in Syria.
Boroujerdi asserted that the Syrian people will decide upon their fate via free elections, and that all countries must accept this, stressing that the United States cannot impose their dictatorial opinion on the Syrian people.
“We have discussed the latest developments on the political and military arenas in Syria regarding the crisis which is imposed on it,” Boroujerdi said, adding that he dealt with the political efforts exerted to end this crisis, particularly Geneva 2 conference in detail during his meeting with Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem.
He noted that the role played by UN Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi during the Geneva 2 talks between the Syrian government and the so-called opposition wasn’t impartial; rather his role was biased in favor of the other side and this was quite surprising.
Boroujerdi said that the situation in Syria today is much better than it was before, saying that the alliance between armed terrorist groups and the Zionist entity is regrettable, expressing astonishment at watching those terrorists and how they received treatment in the hospitals of the Zionist entity, and the visit of the occupation entity’s prime Minister to them.
“President Bashar al-Assad, despite all the pressure exerted on him, stands in the front of resistance against the Zionist entity, and there are many who support this direction and adherence to stances,” he said.
Boroujerdi added that when the Americans and those who claim democracy say that President al-Assad shouldn’t run for the upcoming presidential elections, they through aside all what we know about democracy in the world.
He also affirmed that the danger posed by takfiri movements doesn’t threaten the region’s country; rather it threatens the entire world, calling on countries which didn’t deal through logic in the crisis in Syria and tried to have unrealistic ways, to retreat from these ways and return to the right way.
Boroujerdi said that the US and western countries which support terrorists with weapon and money and send hundreds of European and western-nationals to Syria should know that this support will pose a threat to their national security in the future inside their countries as the crisis in Syria will come to an end and those terrorists will have no place in the country.
Syrians alone have right of self-determination through ballot boxes
Speaker of the People’s Assembly Mohammad Jihad al-Laham affirmed that the Syrian people alone have the right of self-determination and elect their representatives through free, fair elections.
“Those who call themselves as external opposition fear to go to the ballot boxes because they have no popular base to depend on in any upcoming elections,” al-Laham added during a meeting with Chairman for the Committee of Foreign Policy and National Security of the Islamic Consultative Assembly of Iran Alaeddin Boroujerdi and an accompanying delegation.
He appreciated Iran’s stances in support of the Syrian people, its wise polices and morals, in addition to its standing by Syria in the face of the terrorist war against it, calling for setting strategic plans for cooperation between the Syrian people’s assembly and the Iranian Shura Council in the next stage.
Boroujerdi, for his part, said that Syria is targeted today by the western and imperialist countries because it stands in the first line in the war against the Zionist entity.
“In spite of the US plots against Syria to foil Geneva 2 Conference, the crisis in Syria will end in the interest of the Syrian people and government,” Boroujerdi added.
He affirmed that the armed terrorist groups in Syria seek to distort the moderate real image of Islam through their acts of heinous crimes and systemized violations against civilians.
The Iranian official said that the delegation’s visit to Damascus comes within the framework of the activities of Parliamentary Friendship Committee at the Iranian Shura Council.
M. Ismael/ Mazen

Richard Falk Interview… Stealing Palestine

20 December, 2013

Creeping annexation, ethnic cleansing and ‘the politics of fragmentation’ inflicted by criminals who strut the world stage and thumb their noses at international law

As the international conspiracy to rob Palestinians of their freedom and homeland is exposed a little more each day, observers and activists still puzzle over the duplicity of the United Nations in the decades-long illegal occupation and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian Territories, not to mention the true intent of Palestinian leaders. So when Richard Falk, professor of international law at Princeton and UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Occupied Palestine, visited Norwich recently, I took the opportunity to put some questions to him.

SL – Can we start with the so-called peace process, please? Does the resignation of the Palestinian negotiation team, and the reasons given, effectively end the already discredited ‘peace talks’? Should the Palestinians walk away or carry on playing a pointless game for another 6 months?

Richard Falk – It is difficult to know how to assess the current suspension of peace talks. The Palestinian Authority seems always ready to bend to pressure, although with some outer limits. In this respect, the future of this phase of ‘peace talks’ will be determined not in Ramallah, but in Washington and Tel Aviv. It should be evident 20 years after Oslo that the peace talks serve Israel’s interest in ‘creeping annexation’ of the West Bank and ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem, while diminishing Palestinian prospects, and even harming the Palestinian image by disinformation that blames the Palestinian side for the breakdown of the process when and however it occurs. It would be a welcome sign of PA independence if they come forth and denounce this peace process for what it is.
The sad reality is that this is almost certain not to happen, and more likely than not the period of negotiations will be extended beyond the nine months set aside, on the entirely false claim that the parties are on the verge of resolving all their differences, and with a little patience, the prospects for a deal are quite bright.

SL – The negotiators said they were resigning because of the ‘unprecedented escalation’ of settlement building and because the Israeli government wasn’t serious about a two-state solution and had failed to fulfill commitments given before the present talks were resumed. I now read that Erekat has already been back to Washington for more talks with Tzipi Livni (Israel’s lead negotiator), Kerry and US envoy Indyk. Far from denouncing the process they are once again endorsing it, which makes your point.

In any case, how acceptable is it for a weak, demoralised and captive people like the Palestinians to be forced to the negotiation table with their brutal occupier under the auspices of a US administration seen by many people as too dishonest to play the part of peace broker?

Richard Falk – Even if the United States was acting in good faith, for which there is no evidence, its dual role as Israel’s unconditional ally and as intermediary would subvert the credibility of a negotiating process. In fact, the US Government signals its partisanship by White House appointments of individuals overtly associated with the AIPAC lobbying group as Special Envoys to oversee the negotiations such as Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk. It is hard to imagine the fury in the West that would exist if the conditions were reversed, and the UN proposed a one-sided ‘peace process’ biased in favour of the Palestinians. The unsatisfactory nature of the current framework of negotiations is further flawed by weighting the process in favour of Israel, which enjoys a position of hard power dominance.
“Palestinians’ main grievances are all reinforced by an objective interpretation of international law”

SL – There can be no peace without justice, so is it right for final status ‘negotiations’ to be held before competing claims are tested in the courts and the many outstanding rulings under international law and UN resolutions are implemented? In any case, shouldn’t a neutral UN peace commission be supervising the final settlement of this long struggle, rather than the US or the Quartet?

Richard Falk – Yes, if the priority were to attain a just and sustainable peace, a framework would be developed that had two characteristics: neutral as between the two sides and sensitive to the relevance of rights under international law. Such sensitivity would favour the Palestinians as their main grievances are all reinforced by an objective interpretation of international law, including in relation to settlements, Jerusalem, refugees, borders, water.

SL – How much legitimacy does President Abbas enjoy, having overstayed his term of office?

Richard Falk – This question of political legitimacy of President Abbas turns on the subjective mood of the Palestinian people. Because the PA is a political entity so vulnerable to pressures and manipulation, the status of its presiding leader seems to be widely seen as a secondary matter of limited significance. When President Abbas has articulated the case for Palestinian statehood during the last three years at the United Nations he gained considerable personal respect among most governments and for many Palestinians. He seems a leader caught between the realities of his compromised position and the occasional opportunities to express the national ambitions and support the rights of the Palestinian people. The division with Hamas, and the failure to find a formula to restore Palestinian unity in relation to the West is a further source of weakness for PA claims to represent the Palestinian people as a whole. The failure to hold scheduled elections highlights the insufficiency of PA and Palestinian leadership.

SL – Do you believe a two-state solution is still feasible?

Richard Falk – No. I think Oslo has been dead for some years, primarily due to Israeli policies designed to encroach upon the remnant of Palestinian territorial and symbolic rights, especially by the continuously expanding settlement archipelago, the unlawful separation wall built on occupied territory, and the demographic manipulations in East Jerusalem. The pretence that Oslo plus the Roadmap point the only way to peace serves American and Israeli purposes in quieting growing complaints about the persistence of the conflict. It represents a diplomatic attempt to deflect criticism, and to divert attention from Palestinian grievances and a growing global solidarity movement.

SL – The 1947 UN Partition was unworkable as well as immoral. Shouldn’t the whole territory (of historic Palestine) be returned to the melting pot and shared out more sensibly? Shouldn’t Jerusalem and Bethlehem become an international city, or ‘corpus separatum’, as the UN originally intended?

Richard Falk – For me the fundamental flaw with the partition proposals contained in GA Resolution 181 was the failure to consult the people resident in Palestine at the time. A secondary flaw was the unfairness of awarding 55% of the territory to the Jewish presence as represented by the Zionist movement which in 1947 accounted for only one-third of the population owning around 6% of the land . This idea of determining the future of Palestine by outsiders, even if well intentioned, which seems not to have ever been the case, is incompatible with the historical trend toward resolving the future of peoples by way of the dynamics of self-determination. In Palestine’s case, at least from the issuance of the Balfour Declaration onward, this effort to control the future of Palestine has been justly condemned as the last major example of ‘settler colonialism.’ It is a particularly acute example as the settlers have no mother country to which to return, and take a poker player’s high risk posture of ‘all in.’
“There is no authoritative explanation of ICC passivity in face of the Israeli criminal violation of fundamental Palestinian rights.”

SL – Turning to the role of the International Criminal Court, this is an organ of the UN. So why doesn’t the ICC initiate its own prosecution of Israeli crimes based on UN reports and the mountain of evidence available to it, especially in view of Palestine’s upgraded status?

Richard Falk – There is no authoritative explanation of ICC passivity in face of the Israeli criminal violation of fundamental Palestinian rights. As a matter of speculation it is plausible to assume an absence of political will on the part of the prosecutor’s office to initiate an investigation that would be deeply opposed by Israel and the United States. The ICC has been recently criticized for its Western bias, and its failure for instance to consider whether the United Kingdom and the United States violated the Rome Statute’s enumeration of international crimes by initiating and conducting the Iraq War. The African Union has complained about the seeming focus on the criminality of African leaders, and the bypassing of grievances directed at Western behaviour.

SL – We hear you and others calling for intervention to prevent humanitarian catastrophes, e.g. the Gaza water crisis. Who exactly are you calling on? What is the chain of responsibility for intervening.

Richard Falk – There has been evolving within the UN and in international society more generally a sense that there is a ‘responsibility to protect’ peoples subject to severe threats of humanitarian catastrophes or natural disasters. Such sentiments are part of a process I have described as ‘moral globalization.’
In fact, R2P diplomacy has been discredited by being used as a geopolitical instrument, most dramatically as the normative foundation for the UN endorsement of the NATO 2011 military intervention in Libya. With respect to Libya the justification was protection against a feared massacre of civilians in the city of Benghazi, but the actual military operation from its outset seemed designed to achieve regime change in Tripoli. When it comes to Gaza where the present crisis has passed into a zone of desperation, the UN and world community are silent as if stone deaf to this deepening human crisis of survival.
“So long as it is useful for Israel and Washington to treat Hamas as ‘a terrorist organization’ the UN will be limited in its role to being a provider of a subsistence existence for the Gazan people…”

SL – We have just seen the UN intervening to bring fuel into Gaza as it teetered on the brink of a full-blown public health crisis. There are many such emergencies thanks to Israel’s continuing blockade. Why doesn’t the UN take over the supply of fuel full-time? And indeed the supply of medicines, drugs, medical equipment and spares?

Richard Falk – The tragic situation in Gaza cannot be understood without taking account of the political context, above all the split between Fatah and Hamas, and the Israeli posture toward Gaza after its ‘disengagement’ in 2005 and the imposition of a punitive blockade in mid-2007 after Hamas took over the governance of Gaza. The UN has no capability to override geopolitical priorities, and so long as it is useful for Israel and Washington to treat Hamas as ‘a terrorist organization’ the UN will be limited in its role to being a provider of a subsistence existence for the Gazan people, long victims of unlawful Israel policies of ‘collective punishment’ unconditional prohibited by Article 33 of the 4th Geneva Convention.
After the Egyptian coup of July 3rd of this year, the subsistence regime evolved in Gaza is itself in jeopardy. The tunnel network has been substantially destroyed by Egyptian military action and the Rafah crossing from Gaza to Egypt has been mainly closed, isolating the people, and creating emergency conditions due to fuel shortages that have made electricity only available in very limited amounts.
The results are horrifying: sewage in the streets, insufficient power to run machines needed to keep the terminally ill alive, fuel shortages that virtually preclude economic activity, and closed borders that seal the fate of 1.6 million Gazans. Long before this dramatic further deterioration of life circumstances, observers were calling Gaza the largest open air prison in the world.
“The wrongful appropriation by Israel of Palestine’s water, land, and energy resources has been a massive crime against the Palestinian people…”

SL – What is the UN doing to protect Palestine’ s precious aquifers and offshore gas field from being plundered by the Israelis?

Richard Falk – Again, the UN has no independent capability, or ever will, to challenge Israel or to protect Palestinian rights. It is a case of geopolitical manipulation and Palestinian victimization. The wrongful appropriation by Israel of Palestine’s water, land, and energy resources has been a massive crime against the Palestinian people that has been continuous with the occupation that commenced in 1967.
“Israeli military dominance, as politically reinforced by American geopolitical muscle, overrides all of these Palestinian claims of right…. Such injustice and suffering can only be challenged by Palestinian resistance and international solidarity.”

SL – Why is the requirement, often repeated, to allow Palestinians free and unfettered movement in and out of Gaza not implemented? Gaza and the West Bank are supposed to be a contiguous territory but, for example, Palestinian students in Gaza are prevented from attending their excellent universities in the West Bank. And why are Gazan fishermen still restricted to a mere fraction of their territorial waters, despite agreements to the contrary, and regularly fired on? Why is Israel not prosecuted for acts of piracy in international waters against humanitarian traffic to Gaza?

Richard Falk – As earlier, the hard power realities of Israeli military dominance, as politically reinforced by American geopolitical muscle, overrides all of these Palestinian claims of right. In this respect, such injustice and suffering can only be challenged by Palestinian resistance and international solidarity. The specific abuses can and should be delimited to raise public awareness and contribute to the mobilization of support for the Palestinian struggle, but it is pointless to expect the UN to do more than its capabilities allow. The whole structure of the Organization, combined with the method of funding, gives geopolitical pressures great leverage in relation to specific situations. The veto power given to the permanent members of the Security Council is a major expression of this weakness that was built into the constitutional structure of the UN from the moment of its establishment.
“Nuremberg Promise has not been kept”

SL – People reading what you say here will be alarmed that US geopolitical power and Israeli military might can so easily override international and humanitarian law. After Nuremburg our legal institutions were strong enough to bring Nazi era criminals to book, but present-day war criminals walk free and thumb their noses. What hope is there for mankind and our brave new world if this is allowed to continue?

Richard Falk – The Nuremberg experience was based on ‘victors’ justice,’ holding the defeated leaders after World War II criminally accountable, while exempting the crimes of the victors from accountability. There was a promise made at Nuremberg that in the future the rules by which the Germans were judged would be applicable to all who committed state crimes in the future. This Nuremberg Promise has not been kept. The political and military leaders of the main states enjoy impunity while the leaders of defeated countries (e.g. Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic) or sub-Saharan African countries are prosecuted by international tribunals. Double standards prevail, and it is questionable whether an international criminal law that punishes the weak and exempts the strong is to be treated as legitimate even if those accused receive a fair trial and are convicted and punished only if they were guilty of grave misconduct.
The bottom line is that we live in a world in which the primacy of hard power prevails in the relationship among states. Geopolitical leverage enables Israel to defy the most basic principles of international law, and yet their leaders are not held accountable. There are only two paths available that challenge this result. National courts can be empowered by what is called ‘universal jurisdiction’ to investigate, indict, prosecute, convict, and punish anyone accused of state crime that can be personally delivered to the relevant court. In 1998 the Chilean dictator was detained in London after the Spanish Government requested that Pinochet be extradited. After lengthy litigation is was found that Pinochet could be extradited for torture committed during part of his reign, but in the end he was sent back to Chile because of health reasons, and never faced trial in Spain. Yet such a possibility exists in relation to Israeli political and military leaders, and seems to have discouraged their travel to countries whose criminal law contains the authority to invoke universal jurisdiction.
The other possibility is by convening a peoples tribunal of the sort constituted in the past by the Bertrand Russell Foundation in Brussels and the Lelio Basso Foundation in Rome. The Russell Foundation sponsored four sessions devoted to various allegations of criminality attributed to the government of Israel. It produced convincing documentation of the charges, and issued judgements that called for civil society initiatives. Such a tribunal, although acting on evidence and in accord with the relevant provisions of international criminal law, possesses no formal authority and lacks implementing capabilities. Its role is limited to documenting the case against a government, and providing symbolic support to those who contend that there have been violations of international criminal law. Such outcomes may influence public opinion, and help change the balance of political forces by undermining the legitimacy of an established order of oppression as exists with respect to Israel’s relationship to the Palestinian people and the denial of their collective right of self-determination.
“The ‘politics of fragmentation’ designed to undermine Palestinian unity… has been alarmingly successful.”

SL – What are the chances as you see them for achieving unity between Fatah and Hamas, and how should the Palestinians play their cards in future?

Richard Falk – There is a near unanimous belief among Palestinians and their supporters that unity is needed to move the struggle forward. Such unity existed throughout the early decades of the Palestinian National Movement, despite many ideological differences relating to tactics and goals, but within a shared resolve to achieve national liberation. The unifying image provided by Yasser Arafat’s uncontested leadership was also important.
Israel has pursued a policy I describe as ‘the politics of fragmentation’ designed to undermine Palestinian unity, and it has been alarmingly successful. Oslo contributed to this end by dividing up the West Bank into Areas A, B, and C, by splitting the administration of Gaza off from the rest of Palestine. The emergence of Hamas highlighted Palestinian fragmentation, a result welcomed by Israel even as it was condemned. Fatah appears to have been inhibited in reaching some kind of functional unity with Hamas by pressures to refrain from such moves mounted in Israel and the United States. So long as Hamas is treated as a terrorist organization, even in the face of its turn from armed struggle and entry into the political process back in 2006, there will be strong opposition to moves toward unity, which were attempted in the Morsi period of leadership in Egypt, and seemed on the verge of success.

SL – Finally, Richard, your robust defence of Palestinian rights has ruffled many feathers and led to demands from ‘the usual suspects’ for your dismissal. Should the people you speak up for be concerned about this?

Richard Falk – The attacks on me, and others who have tried to bear witness to the directives of international law and political justice, are part of a deliberate campaign by Israel, and its cadres in civil society, to deflect attention from the substantive grievances of the Palestinian people. It is what I have described as ‘the politics of deflection,’ go after the messenger so as to deflect attention from the message. The media has been largely compliant as have Israel’s powerful governmental friends, including the United Kingdom, US, and Canadian governments. Of course, many NGOs and elements of the public push back against such tactics. In my case the defamatory efforts of UN Watch, in particular, have been unpleasant, but have not altered my effort to do the job of witnessing to the best of my ability and in accordance with the canons of truth telling.
“Those of us living in comfort should not turn our gaze away from the children of Gaza this Christmas.”

SL – Thank you for being so generous with your time and sharing your assessment of the situation. But before you go, what sort of Christmas can the children of Gaza look forward to?

Richard Falk – We can only imagine the horror of Christmas this year in Gaza for young and old alike: from life amid raw sewage to freezing cold, scarcities, desolation, and a sense that the world is elsewhere, indifferent to such acute suffering, such sustained injustice, such blind hate.
And yet also knowing many Gazans makes me believe that even in such dire circumstances there remains space for some laughter, and much love, and that such a spirit of resistance lives on among the children of this place haunted by the evils of our world. If present these days in Gaza it would likely make me feel a mystifying blend of sadness and inspiration.
At the very least those of us living in comfort should not turn our gaze away from the children of Gaza this Christmas: we should demand empathy from our leaders and be as personally attentive as possible, whether by commentary, prayer, donations, a compassionate scream! We should not allow these days of celebration and renewal to pass this year without moments of reflection on selfish joys and cheerful carols, as contrasting with the miserable destiny bestowed upon the innocent and abused children of Gaza
Let us look the children of Gaza in the eye if we can. And if we can’t, as I could not, seize the moment to reflect on what it means to be (in)human during this holiday season.

Stuart Littlewood’s articles are published widely on the web. He is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. 

For further information please visit http://www.radiofreepalestine.org.uk “Lawlessness must have painful consequences for the lawless, not their victims.” (Stuart Littlewood)

Abu Arfa: calling for national Reconciliation in Syria,

فيديو – الشيخ صلاح الدين أبو عرفة : كان أحرى بيوسف القرضاوي وبمشايخ الأزهر أن يدعوا إلى عصمة دماء المسلمين
أكد الشيخ صلاح الدين أبو عرفة أحد أئمة المسجد الأقصى أنه كان أيسر لمن بدأ الحرب على سورية وأعان عليها ودعا إليها وأرسل بالسلاح أن يدعو إلى الخير لأنه أنفع لأهلها وأنجى له يوم الدين .
 
وقال أبو عرفة في رسالة وجهها إلى السوريين من مدينة القدس المحتلة “أقول لكم يا أهل الشام ما نصح لكم ولا صدقكم من دعاكم إلى الحرب وحرضكم عليها ودفعكم في نارها وأوارها وهو آمن طاعم.. طامع في قصورها” موضحا أنه ليس في كتاب الله ما يدعو إليه هؤلاء المفسدون الذين سعوا في الأرض فسادا وأهلكوا حرثها ونسلها داعيا أهل الشام إلى إصلاح ذات البين والسلم والرحمة.
وبين أبو عرفة أنه كان أحرى بيوسف القرضاوي وبمشايخ الأزهر أن يدعوا إلى عصمة دماء المسلمين من أمة محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم كما دعوا إلى عصمة دماء المصريين مبينا أن المرجع والإمام الأكبر للمسلمين جميعا هو كتاب الله.. من قال به فقد صدق وأفلح ومن خالفه فقد كذب وخاب وخسر وغش وهو ليس من المسلمين في شيء.

( الخميس 2013/02/28 SyriaNow)
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

زيارة مشعل .. مفاجآت غير سعيدة

 
 
حفلت زيارة رئيس حماس الخارج، خالد مشعل، إلى عمان، بمفاجآت عدة غير سعيدة.
 
المفاجأة الأولى تتمثل في استقبال الملك عبد الله الثاني للمذكور ، وإجراء مباحثات معه؛ ذلك أن هناك فارقا نوعيا بين لقاء أول تكرمت به عمان لإنهاء الاحتقان وتحسين الأجواء، وجرى العام الماضي في ظروف سياسية خاصة، انتهت، وانجلت عن توافق على السماح “للمواطن” مشعل، بزيارة بلد”ه”، لأسباب إنسانية، وبين أن تتحول الزيارات الإنسانية إلى زيارات دولة ولقاءات مع المسؤولين وعلى رأسهم الملك.
 
حين يلتقي الملك بأبسط مواطن أردني، ويحدثه ويصغي إليه، فهذه تُحسَب للملك في رصيده، ولا تُحسَب عليه.

لكنني اعتقد أنه قد آن الأوان لكي نضنّ باللقاءات الملكية على من هب ودب من زوار عمان، من مدراء شركات ورجال كونغرس وصحفيين وقادة فصائل.

وحين يكون الزائر مشعل تحديدا، فإن المعني بلقائه ليس أكثر من ضابط متوسط الرتبة من جهاز المخابرات لا غير ( مع احترامنا للضابط طبعا، ذلك أننا لا نقصد الشخص وإنما الموقع).

المفاجأة الثانية تتمثل في ما صدر عن تلك ” المباحثات” من تأكيدات في الشأن الفلسطيني لم تأخذ بالاعتبار المصالح و المخاوف الأردنية، وشابها الغموض إزاء الاستراتيجية التي تعتمدها عمان في المجال الفلسطيني: هل يكون همنا الوحيد اتحاد الفلسطينيين للجلوس على طاولة المفاوضات مع تل أبيب؟ أهذا هو هاجسنا؟

أم أننا معنيون بطبيعة المصالحة وطبيعة المفاوضات وجدول اعمالها وخصوصا فيما يتعلق بالنازحين واللاجئين.

لو كانت هنالك تأكيدات واضحة حول السياسات الأردنية إزاء الشأن الفلسطيني، لربما وجدنا سببا للطابع الرسمي لزيارة مشعل؛

قد يكون هناك سبب؛ فقد لاحظنا، بالطبع، تصريحات الملك القائلة إن حماس غدت أكثر استعدادا للتفاوض مع إسرائيل. وأنا لست مسرورا بذلك أبدا؛ ففلسطين من دون مقاومة تعني الوطن البديل، وحين تتفاوض حماس القَطرية القلب والهوى والولاء مع الإسرائيليين، فإن ذلك سيتم على حساب الأردن.

مشعل أداة قَطرية، ورأس حربة للحلف القَطري المعادي للأردن، دولة وشعبا ودورا، وما زلنا نذكر كيف همّش القطريون الدور الأردني أثناء العدوان الإسرائيلي الأخير على غزة، وكيف تفاعل مشعل مع كل الأطراف ما عدا الأردن، وشكر كل الأطراف ما عدا الأردن.

 
تجيء الزيارة في وقت لم يعد فيه مشعل يسوى شيئا؛ الحلف الخليجي ضد سورية تفكك، وقَطر معزولة، والسوريون يمضون نحو المصالحة الوطنية، وحكم الإخوان المسلمين في مصر ينهار، بينما تراجع الحضور الإخواني المحلي إلى ما دون القدرة على التأثير. فلم الاستقبال الرسمي لمشعل؟
ربما كان هناك اعتقاد بأنه يمكن اجتذاب حماس ومشعل بتسديد فواتير على حساب الأردن ( سنأتي على ذكرها في المفاجأة الثانية)، فهذا وهم كبير؛ لقد أضاء نظام الرئيس بشار الأسد، أصابعه العشرة لحماس ومشعل، ولم يجد منهما سوى الخيانة بين عشية وضحاها.

حماس باعت دمشق بثلاثين من الفضة وبالأضواء الغربية وبمقعد مع إسرائيل ما يزال قيد التداول، بل جيشت حماس مقاتلين ضد الدولة السورية، وشاركت في أعمال إرهابية ضد الجيش العربي السوري. وهكذا، فإن العلاقة الرسمية مع حماس تتناقض مع السياسة الأردنية الرافضة للعنف والإرهاب والتحشيد المذهبي الطائفي في سورية.

المفاجأة الثالثة تتمثل في الطلب الذي تقدم به مشعل للجانب الأردني؛ ومضمونه استقبال اللاجئين الفلسطينيين من مخيم اليرموك السوري!

ومأساة هؤلاء نجمت عن انغماس حماس في تنفيذ المخططات القَطرية الإرهابية في سورية، وتحالفها مع المسلحين وجبهة النصرة وتسليمهم المخيم كمنصة عمليات ضد الجيش العربي السوري.

نعرف ونتابع قيام عدد لا يمكن حصره من لاجئي مخيم اليرموك باللجوء إلى الأردن عن طريق استخدام وثائق سورية مزورة، ونطالب الجهات المعنية بالتيقن والقيام بواجباتها في هذا المجال، بدلا من تسهيل اللجوء من سورية كيفما اتفق في سياق البحث عن دور ثانوي للأردن في ملف اللاجئين السوريين. ولكن السماح في اتفاق سياسي مع تنظيم فلسطيني باستقبال لاجئي مخيم اليرموك، يدخل في باب التوطين. وهو مرفوض جملة وتفصيلا ولا يمكن السماح به أو السكوت عليه.

لم يحصل مشعل على رد على طلبه الذي تم وضعه قيد الدراسة. ولكن التفاوض حول هذه النقطة تحديدا، تفتح الباب وتشجع الهجرة وتزوير الوثائق، مما يستوجب تجديد الموقف الصارم لعمان بأنها لن تستقبل لاجئي مخيمات سورية تحت أي ظرف ومهما كانت المبررات والتطمينات.

المفاجأة الرابعة من العيار الخفيف، ولكنها ذات دلالة؛ فقد استقبل التلفزيون الأردني، مشعل، في برنامج يبث قريبا، ويروّج له التلفزيون مما يبعث برسائل خاطئة للمواطنين الأردنيين، وللقوى الإقليمية، خصوصا سورية التي سمحنا لمشعل أن يهاجمها من منبر رسمي أردني.

لا معنى لأي تحوّل ديموقراطي حين يستمر صنع السياسة الخارجية في الكواليس، وبالمفاجآت، ومن دون سياقات مفهومة ومتفق عليه..(مصدر:كل الاردن)

 

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

‘Global balance of power takes shape in Syria’

altWednesday, 29 August 2012 16:28

by Russia Today

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

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

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

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Hamas chief hails "big sister" Egypt after meeting the "leader of the Arab nation"

A reading between the lines

Lame ducks meeting
Khaled Meshaal with the new
“leader of the Arab nation”

After meeting Egypt’s Lame duck, Khalid Meshaal (the former leader of Damuscus-based Palestinian resistance alliance), hailed the “Big sister” Egypt, and its “President” the “new Leader of Arab Nation”, expressed his satifaction because the ‘talks lasted almost two hours, twice as long as Mursi’s meeting a day earlier with ramallah traitor, the leader of Fatah, Hamas’s rival.

Moreover the ex-resistance leader was happy with what he heard from the Hilary-appointed “Arab hero” and his vision to handle the the blockage of Gaza, (espectially after hezbollah stopped smuggling Syrian food and Arms, after the ‘Arab nation’s spring” and the great Escape of MB’s lead by Hezbollah from Mubarak’s Natron prison)
Sami Sehab

The “Arab’s Leader” explained, how he, off course with full consideration of sister Hillary’s vision, he will find a way to ensure “How Gaza, which borders Egypt, gets the gas and petroleum it needs despite a crippling Israeli blockade of the territory.” with one condition: Hamas should never ever use the Syrian Made rocket to disturb the peacful live of one milion and half settlers living in southern Israel. Meshaal said the Arab’s “Leadership” and intelligence services would continue to shepherd a reconciliation process between Hamas and Fatah, The intelligence services would follow the steps of late Omar Sulimanthe former cheif Spy, in staying exactly at the mid point in between Fateh and Hamas. 

Hamas chief hails “big sister” Egypt after Mursi meet
The leader of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement which rules the Gaza Strip, met new Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi on Thursday and hailed Mursi’s election as the start of a “new era” for Egypt and the Palestinians.
It was Khaled Meshaal’s first visit to Egypt since Mursi won the country’s first free leadership vote.
The founding of Hamas was inspired by Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood – Egypt’s oldest and most established Islamist movement – but the Palestinian group now operates independently because of its location and the conflict with Israel.

Hamas, which won the elections in Gaza in 2006, refuses to recognize Israel and calls for the liberation of Palestinian land.

Meshaal and Mursi discussed ways to ensure that Gaza, which borders Egypt, gets the gas and petroleum it needs despite a crippling Israeli blockade of the territory.

“We have entered a new era in Palestine’s relationship with Egypt, the big sister and the leader of the Arab nation,” Meshaal said after the meeting. “We were happy with what we heard from President Mohamed Mursi and his vision to handle all these issues.”

The talks lasted almost two hours, twice as long as Mursi’s meeting a day earlier with Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority and leader of Fatah, Hamas’s rival.

Hamas was isolated by Egypt under Mursi’s ousted predecessor dictator Hosni Mubarak, as well as by other Gulf and Arab states and the West.

It was embraced by Iran, Hezbollah and Syria – an alliance built on hostility to Israel – forming an axis of opposition to the Zionist state.
Mursi is under pressure from many in his movement to help ease the Gaza blockade, which Mubarak was complicit in by closing the country’s border with Gaza.

Egypt’s army-backed government decided in February to let more fuel into Gaza and increase electricity supplies.

But Hamas has yet to see any sign of a policy shift since the election of Mursi, who is keen not to upset Egypt’s ally, the United States, and weaken his hand in a struggle with the powerful military.

Meshaal said Egypt’s presidency and intelligence services would continue to shepherd a reconciliation process between Hamas and Fatah that began last year.

“Egypt has a key role in this,” he said, adding that Hamas “remains strategically committed to the reconciliation.”
(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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Khalid Amayereh: The "sincere" Man is behaving in a theatrical manner these days- just these day!!

“Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas is behaving in a theatrical manner these days. It is very much like “now you see it, now you don’t,”  Khalid Amayereh.

He believes “a great majority of our people, both at home and in the Diaspora, are fed up with Abbas’s whimsical rituals. Some unctuous hangers-on and hypocrites would portray the huge disillusionment of the people as support for Abbas. But this is the task of these sycophants, namely to falsify facts to make their boss feel that all’s right.”

When the PA moved against Dahlan, the same Khalid thought “the Palestinian Authority (PA) decision to move against Muhammed Dahlan, the perpetual trouble-maker, will erase a major cause of the collision between Hamas and Fatah.” and cosequentely he “thought that the Dayton era was well behind us.” and Abbas will be remembered as a a sincere man who tried but failed to make peace with Israel, even at a terrible price, namely giving up more than 78% of historical Palestine”.
After harassment and abuse at the hands of Palestinian Authority (PA) security operatives.Khalidthought the Arab Spring would convince the PA security apparatus to abandon or at least alleviate their police-state tactics against dissent and show more respect for human rights and civil liberties. However, it seems that that the PA, as far as its treatment of its people, remains largely unchanged. Old habits die hard, after all.”


“On some occasions, Abbas alluded to the possible dissolution of the PA regime if the world community failed to force Israel to end the occupation that started in 1967. But neither the US nor Israel took this warning seriously. It also seems that many Palestinians as well, perhaps a sizeable majority, don’t believe the PA leadership” Khalid claimed, and he is right the maximum Obama “would do, especially at this juncture, is to give the PA some extra money and tell it to shut up
 .
I agree with Khalid Abbas told the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam.

“There are many reasons which have contributed to the weakening of the Palestinian Authority, but its dissolution is out of the question,” 

English Al-Akhbar

Though Khalid has no “doubt that the very existence of the PA is an Israeli achievement and vital interest”, he is still optimisic Well, it is time these people sought an alternative strategy to put our people on a definitive track that would lead to freedom and liberation. He said without explaing the definitive track that would lead to freedom and liberation, freedom and liberation of what Mr. Khalid??
As you said, Oslo is dead and your Brothers fell into the trap and pushed Hamas to burn its ships with Syria and to start the so called  “Real” Palestinian Partnership with Oslo Engineer.

Rats desert a sinking ship, fools ride

So, again, what freedom and liberation you are talking about, after your Brothers put armed resistance on the self and turned west to  strictly monitor Gaza borders with Egypt, in particular, “monitor the tunnels,… permitting the entrance of all essential commodities that the Gaza Strip needs but prevent entry of citizens to or from Egypt….”

In other words, prevent freedom fighters from smuggling arms to Gaza, or attack Israel from Sinai. 

Why??

In order not to rock the boat of American Brothers in Egypt who paid full respect to Camp david treaty. I wonder if this has relation with Abass saying NATO could fill security gaps after Israel peace deal


Khalid ended his article saying:


“We certainly are not demanding miracles from President Abbas and his partners. We only would like to see them think right for the future.”


Khalid, you are demanding Miracles from Abass and his partners (Hamas), Abbas said it “dissolution is out of the question,” After the “Islamists Spring” I doubt that the very existence of the PA is  vital not only for Israel but for Neo-Hamas.
Hamas is not talking about dissolution of PA. According to Khalid:
“The hard political realities in the occupied territories and (within Hamas) seem to have dashed all hopes for organising Palestinian general elections next month…according to an agreement reached in Doha between Fatah and Hamas a few months ago….
Mahmoud Zahar..referred to the Doha agreement as dead. Zahar said organising elections would have to be preceded by a number of prerequisite measures, including forming an agreed-on government, releasing political prisoners, securing civil liberties, and guaranteeing a positive electioneering atmosphere….. “But none of these conditions has been met,” Zahar said….
The veteran Hamas leader, who is widely believed to wield considerable influence over the movement’s decision-making process, especially in the Gaza Strip, said Hamas will not take part in a sham election. “Do we have the freedom to campaign in the West Bank? The answer is ‘No.’ Do we have the freedom to campaign in East Jerusalem? The answer is ‘No.’ Do we have assurances and guarantees against arbitrary arrest by the Israeli occupation army? The answer is again ‘No.'”

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Hamas: The Search For an Alternative

A homeless Palestinian woman sits by a mural of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (R) and slain Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in Gaza City on 26 March 2012. (Photo: AFP – Mohammed Abed)
Published Tuesday, April 10, 2012
The Palestinian reconciliation process seems to be facing some serious challenges. Despite the signing of an agreement in Doha between Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshaal on February 6, the last round of negotiations between Fatah and Hamas have completely failed to bridge the gap between the political rivals.

Of course, this is not the first time this process has encountered such difficulties. Yet, today there are many reasons to rethink these complexities as they come in the prevailing uncertainty of the Middle East following the “Arab Spring.” For Hamas, the consequences of the “Arab Spring” are still ambiguous, so it is likely that the party’s leadership have decided to postpone carrying out any drastic initiatives regarding its political stances at this time.

Over the last year, Hamas has become susceptible to two contradictory developments, chiefly stemming from the changes in Egypt and Syria.

In Egypt, which borders the Gaza strip, former President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown following a popular uprising. From the perspective of Hamas, the deposition of Mubarak was a significant watershed since it has been considered as a security threat in the eyes of Mubarak and his regime.

Mubarak’s ouster resulted in holding parliamentary elections in which the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) achieved a remarkable triumph. As a Palestinian branch of the original Egyptian MB group founded in 1928, Hamas is content with this electoral victory and hopes that it can gain from the MB victory. Not surprisingly some of Hamas’ leaders and their families moved to settle in Cairo in light of these developments.
 

However, in Syria, where the figures of Hamas have been living and leading the political activities of the movement over two decades, president Bashar Assad, the chief ally to Hamas, is facing the most dangerous threat to his governance since he ascended to power in 2000.

Hamas standing with both the Syrian leadership and people.
Not Those??
In response to the situation in Syria, Hamas initially released a measured diplomatic press statement in which it confirmed that it is standing with both the Syrian leadership and people. Over the year since the beginning of the Syrian uprising, Hamas has been forced to deny many reports that said that most of the leaders of the movement have pulled out of Syria.

Moussa Abu Marzook, Hamas’s second in command, revealed that the movement still has offices in Syria but that most of leaders are not living in the country.

“Syrian people struggling for democracy”
Ismail Haniyeh expressing solidarity with 
“Syrian people struggling for democracy”



Although Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of Hamas’s government in Gaza, adopted an unprecedented position concerning events in Syria during his speech at al-Azhar mosque in Cairo in Feb 24, when he expressed solidarity with the Syrian people struggling for democracy, the majority of Hamas leaders are trying to toe the line of not intervening in the Syrian internal affairs.

Sooner or later, Hamas should answer the challenging questions raised by the inevitable transformations which profoundly changed the political environment in the Middle East.

The remarkable electoral triumph of the MB in Egypt does not mean that a new track is opened for Hamas. SCAF will still hold the actual power in Egypt at least in the near future. Therefore, the political heir of Mubarak’s regime will not change the foreign policy of Egypt which is based mainly on solid ties with Israel and the US.

Moreover, the MB themselves have realized that the rhetoric is quite different from the reality.

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Hamas Armed Wing Opposed to Meshal Shakeup Plan

http://platform.twitter.com/widgets/hub.1326407570.html

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L) and Hamas leader Khaled Meshal talk before an signing ceremony for an agreement in Doha 6 February 2012. (Photo: REUTERS – Stringer)
Published Monday, February 13, 2012
Things have changed for Hamas.

The head of its political bureau, Khaled Meshal, has taken to shuttling between Qatar, Egypt, and Sudan, in addition to making occasional visits to Syria, Jordan, and Tunisia. While this was happening, there was a considerable amount of debate within the movement. Such debates have largely been influenced by the evolving Arab political order in light of the growing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in the region. Relations with Iran and Syria are also an issue, as are Hamas’ internal affairs.

Insiders have related what happened at the latest meeting of the movement’s Consultative Council, its senior leadership body, which this year was held in Sudan.

Meshal presented his report on the leadership’s work over his preceding term. Meshal normally makes concise and brief presentations. This time, however, he expounded at length about the implications for Hamas in relation to transformations underway in the Arab street. He concluded by reaffirming that resistance is the sole and certain option for liberating the land of Palestine.

Meshal then sprang a surprise. He announced that after 16 years as head of the political bureau, he believed the time had come for all leadership responsibilities to be assumed by other people. He added that he could hardly call for changes in other leadership posts without himself taking the initiative, and asked to be relieved of the task of heading the political bureau.

Those present treated the move as a genuine surprise. Some expressed appreciation of what was described as a “bold step, unprecedented for young leaders of revolutionary movements.” But in their reactions, principled and emotional responses combined with political and organizational considerations. A majority view emerged that existing conditions make it incumbent on Meshal to remain in office, and that now is not the time for the movement to make sweeping leadership changes – whether at the top of the political bureau or other senior levels.

Follow-up meetings were later held by other key Hamas bodies, including jailed prisoners and leaders inside the Occupied Territories. The outcome was that they also told Meshal they wanted him to remain in his post.

Most crucial in this regard was the reported response of the commander-general of the Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades, Muhammad Daif. He asked the military wing’s representative to the military leadership, Ahmad al-Jaabari, to inform all concerned – from Meshal himself, to rivals such as Mahmoud al-Zahhar and Mousa Abu-Marzouq, to proposed consensus candidate Ismail Haniyeh – that Hamas’ military wing does not think this is the right time to make changes on such a scale, and that it supports keeping Meshal in his job.

The military wing wields significant influence both within Hamas and on the ground. It sought to put an end to a simmering debate within the movement sparked by rumors about impending leadership changes. It had become clear to all, especially the military wing, that senior Hamas leaders were behind most of these rumors, and related leaks to the media. This occurred despite a prior agreement to address such matters in the middle of the year when the movement’s congress is due to be held along with new leadership elections.

On the political front, the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power in Egypt and Tunisia, and its growing influence in Libya, Yemen, and other Arab countries, have fuelled extensive discussions within the Palestinian movement.

While Hamas’ leaders stress that its final position will always hinge on the issue of resistance, its status and thinking are bound to be affected. There is a strong current of opinion within the movement which wants to harness the Islamists’ successes in support of the resistance option.

Others have advised, instead, that Hamas take advantage of its Palestinian partner’s current weakness to join it in pursuing a peace deal. The idea is that this would bestow full legitimacy on the movement – Arab as well as Palestinian, and official as well as popular – and thus force the outside world to have dealings with it.

The discussion becomes more complicated in relation to the impact of developments in the Arab world on attitudes regarding Syria and Iran.

Hamas leaders confirm that there is a freeze in the official relationship with Syria at the top level. President Bashar Assad has on numerous occasions refused to meet with Hamas leaders, reportedly because he believes that it has “failed to stand by the regime against the conspiracy which Syria is facing.”

However, Hamas leaders say that their latest round of meetings resulted in a reaffirmation of their position toward Syria.

These leaders summed up this reaffirmation as follows: Hamas will preserve its strong relationship with the regimes in Syria and Iran, and with other resistance forces, particularly Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.

These groups and states have been actively engaged in providing support to the resistance which goes beyond taking a political position. Hamas acknowledges that the regime in Syria extended strong and practical backing to the resistance in Palestine, particularly during the Israeli assault on Gaza three years ago. This support has not been forgotten by the Damascus-based Hamas leaders, nor by the military wing in Gaza itself. Therefore, Hamas is expected to reciprocate this stand with a very high degree of loyalty.

Hamas leaders say that soon after demonstrations began in Syria, they relayed their concerns that plans were being hatched to use the protests to launch an international campaign against the country.
These concerns were shared during direct discussions with the Syrian president, and with allies in Iran and Lebanon. Hamas advocated a political solution, based on the regime initiating reforms to address and contain public demands. It was thought this would help bring on board the patriotic and Islamic opposition, and isolate oppositionists linked to Western parties that want to undermine Syria and the resistance forces. Hamas also contacted Arab and Turkish Islamist leaders and urged them not to push toward a confrontation that would lead to civil war in Syria.

As for relations with Iran, Hamas leaders affirm that military and financial support programs remain in place. This includes increased provision of arms and equipment, the supply of new types of weapons into the Gaza Strip, and specialist training courses held for hundreds of cadres in Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. The movement has also taken advantage of the changes in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya to improve its military procurement.

Hamas denies there has been a halt to Iranian financial assistance. It says reports to the contrary were merely a mistaken attempt to explain a technical hold-up. But this was quickly remedied, and the reasons for it are known by both the Iranian and Palestinian sides. Iran continues its financial support to Hamas, and its provision of military and security assistance to the movement’s military wing.
Leaders in Hamas confirm that a decision has been made not to be based permanently in Syria. Permanent residence by Hamas leaders in Cairo or Amman has meanwhile been ruled out by the Egyptian Supreme Council and the Jordanian authorities.

The Qataris and Turks provide logistical facilities to the movement’s leaders, but on the proviso that their activities are confined to the political side of things.

The bigger question becomes: Is Hamas willing to be confined to the political side of the Palestinian struggle?

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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