Ibrahim al-Amine reveals the resistance role of Asef Shawkat here:
There have been incessant attempts to demonize Shawkat, which can invariably be traced to the US, Israel and their clients in the region. But there was also a side to him that was hidden, for reasons related both to his position, and the nature of the tasks he undertook, far from the prying eyes of friends and foes alike.
Asef Shawkat played a major role in resisting Israeli occupation in and around Palestine. Right to the end, he took practical charge of meeting the needs of the resistance forces in Palestine and Lebanon, and of their members and cadres in Syria. He oversaw everything from their accommodation and transportation, to their training camps and provisions, and arranging for cadres from inside Palestine to come to the country secretly for training.
For the resistance in Lebanon, Shawkat was a true partner, providing whatever assistance was needed without needing orders or approval from the leadership. He was a central player in the June 2006 war whose anniversary we have been marking. He spent the entire time in the central operations room that was set up in line with a directive by Assad to supply the resistance with whatever weapons it wanted, notably missiles, from Syrian army stocks. Shawkat and other officers and men of the Syrian army – including Muhammad Suleiman who was assassinated by the Mossad on the Syrian coast in 2008 – spent weeks coordinating the supply operation which helped the resistance achieve the successes that led to the defeat of Israel.
Despite the accusations levelled against Asef Shawkat regarding security, political or other matters, for Imad Mughniyeh, the assassinated military leader of Hezbollah, he was just another comrade, a modest man, who would bow when shaking hands with Hassan Nasrallah, and liked to hear the news from Palestine last thing at night.
UN head of mission in Syria, General Mood's statement
Very interesting statement from head of UN mission in Syria, General Mood as he makes his departure from Syria. Last paragraph is just as applicable to rebels as it is to government:
"I extend my profound condolences and my heartfelt sympathies to the families of all the victims and to the wounded in Wednesday’s bombings. I expressed my condemnation of the attack yesterday to the Syria government. I call on the Parties to the end the bloodshed, and violence in all its forms, and recommit to a peaceful solution to this conflict…Government and opposition must be willing to make the necessary concessions and sit at the negotiating table. If this happens, the presence of the mission (or: a UN political-military presence), Unsmis, will be credible and the mission can contribute to improving the situation of the ground.
Let me end by saying that there is no lasting hope in the military solution. I, as a soldier, know more than many, that the decision in favour of peace, is harder than that of war. But I have learned through many years of military practice that it is still better to make that hard choice; to choose peace, even if you can win the war. For it is the fabric of a society that will be deeply damaged by war, and greatly enhanced by the prevalence of peace.”
The first goal was to crush the Resistance, Sayyed Nasrallah said, adding that the Israelis wanted Syria to be next.
"If the resistance was to be crushed, the war was aimed then at Syria on the pretext that Syria helped the resistance. The second goal was to overthrow the Assad regime and subject it to the American-Israeli scheme."
“They sought after the July war to destroy the Syrian army and the U.S. took advantage of rightful demands of the Syrian people, prevented dialogue and turned Syria into a war zone because the objective is destroying and fragmenting Syria, like they did in Iraq,”
Turning to Syria’s big role in the resistance, the secretary general assured the Americans’ problem is Syria, but not any Syria. “The Syria of Abdul Halim Khaddam is not a problem, but rather the Syria of Bashar Assad.”
"Syria is a big problem for the Americans and Israelis because Syria is the real supporter for the resistance and especially at the military level. Syria was not only a passageway for the Resistance, but also a real military supporter of the Resistance. For example, the most important missiles that fell on Haifa and central Israel were Syrian-made missiles," Sayyed Nasrallah said.
"The most important weapons we fought with during the July war were from Syria, not only in Lebanon but also in the Gaza Strip. The missiles delivered to Gaza managed to force more than a million settlers to stay in bunkers and frightened Tel Aviv. When the Arab regimes were barring bread and money from entering Gaza, Syria was sending weapons along with food for Gaza and risked for that."
"This is Syria, the Syria of Bashar Assad and martyr Leaders Assef Shawkat, Dawoud Rajiha and Hassan Turkmani,"
"We reiterate our call for preserving Syria and the only solution is accepting dialogue. As we feel the loss of today’s martyrs, we extend our condolences to their families and to the Syrian leadership. These martyr leaders were comrades-in-arms in the conflict with the Israeli enemy and we are confident that the Arab Syrian Army, which overcame the unbearable, will be able persist and crush the hopes of the enemies."
“The gloves are off. The Syrian Information Minister says Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel are responsible for today’s events. This is the first time a Syrian official singles out the conspirators by name since the start of the conflict. Indeed, this is a new stage in the war.
The same Arab traitors rejoicing the killings are also mocking Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah on twitter now. It is sickening to the core to know that if Israel invaded Syria or Lebanon today they would most likely be cheering it, if not publicly (because they still pay lip service to Palestine) in private just as March 14 collaborators did in 2006 as revealed by Wikileaks State Department cables .”—
“Remember when they assassinated Hizbullah’s military commander and security chief, the martyr Imad Mughnieh? Remember how they said this was the end of the Resistance? Incidentally, they are the same powers and states who are either directly or indirectly behind the killings in Syria today and who are now wagering on the collapse of the Army and security forces. These killings are a war on Syria as a whole not merely its regime or security apparatus, just as the assassination of Mughnieh was not only a war on Hizbullah only but on the resistance project in the region.”—
“Whoever thinks that the killing of the Syrian Defense Minister and Security Chief is going to finish off the Assad government is delusional. While demoralizing, it will not effect cohesion, but will only have a radicalizing effect on security cadres. The western colonizers and Arab traitors (al-Qaeda’s new secular bedfellows) now rejoicing are either blind or indifferent to the major escalation that is to come. Things are going to get very ugly as there will be much collateral damage. This is not the end but the beginning of a new phase in the war on Syria. Let us wait for tonight when Nasrallah will address the issue of Israel’s security threats against Lebanon and Syria.”—
Anonymous Syria hardly a credible source of email leaks
So much for the authenticity of Wikileaks’ Syria Files e-mails. They were provided to Wikileaks by none other than the clearly pro-opposition Anonymous Syria and I have written about their inherent bias on my blog here. Also, here is a tweet of theirs delighting in the Twitter account that impersonates me. That isn’t to dismiss all the emails outright, especially since many were provided by other hacktivists, but merely to emphasize the need to subject them to much more critical scrutiny. I wonder how much credibility such mails would have if my anti-imperialist (I keep forgetting that term is so passé) comrades and I were to offer such e-mails to Wikileaks…
Syrian and Palestinian sources deny massacre in Palestinian school
Syrian oppositionists have fabricated yet another massacre, this time in the Palestinian camp of Yarmouk. According to their fabricated claims, Syrian government forces had massacred Palestinians in a the Falouja School in the Yarmouk refugee camp. However, a widely followed Arabic language Yarmouk Camp News page on Facebook recently carried this announcement here , which denied the massacre had taken place. Al-Arabiyya English also cited the Local Coordination Committees as denying the massacre took place in this piece here: “ The Local Coordination Committees, earlier, denied the presence of any massacres inside a Falouja School at the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp, following reports by activists that the Syrian regime troops had stormed the camp, Al Arabiya reported on Tuesday.”
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood won't lift blockade on Gaza
So much for Hamas’ excitement about the ascendance of the Muslim Brotherhood. While Syria, Hizbullah and Iran have supported the movement and fiercely criticized Mubarak’s Egypt for its stranglehold over Gaza in Israel’s onslaught in 2008/2009 —and let us not forget how Hizbullah operatives were detained by the Mubarak regime for smuggling weapons and supplies to Hamas via Egypt— Egypt’s MB won’t even lend rhetorical support to removing Egypt’s blockade on Gaza. Excerpts from AP’s report here:
Egypt’s new president holds the key to blockaded Gaza, but he is signaling that he won’t rush to help the territory’s Hamas rulers by striking a border deal with them, even though they are fellow members of the region’s Muslim Brotherhood.
A bilateral border agreement between Egypt and Hamas could hurt chances of setting up a single Palestinian state, made up of the West Bank and Gaza, alongside Israel.
"I don’t think they (the Egyptians) are ready for that," said Palestinian economist and business leader Samir Hulileh.
Hamas was jubilant over Morsi’s election in neighboring Egypt in June, hoping the Egyptian leader would lift years of travel and trade restrictions that have hit the Gaza economy hard.
But for now Morsi is keeping Hamas at arm’s length, focusing on his relationship with Egypt’s powerful military and with the U.S., which gives Egypt $1.3 billion in annual military aid.
The Egyptian leader reiterated in a weekend meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that he would honor all of Egypt’s international obligations.
He has also avoided preferential treatment of Hamas. This week, he’ll receive Abbas in Cairo, while Hamas leaders are still waiting for their invitation.
Morsi would like to lift the blockade, but is worried about violating international protocols, said Egyptian security officials familiar with Gaza policy, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
A very important piece here by al-Akhbar’s editor-in-chief, Ibrahim al-Amine. Ibrhaim is always very well informed and is not prone to sensationalizing or exaggerating news. If Israel does indeed carry out its threats to invade or attack Syria, it will be interesting to see how colonized and treasonous the Syrian “revolutionaries” have become. Will they welcome their Zionist “liberators” and view Israel as a friend, as the SNC and FSA have? Some excerpts from Ibrahim’s piece:
Amid these difficulties, another aspect of Western and Israeli interest in what is happening in Syria has recently been brought to the fore.
Reports, mostly based on intelligence sources, have indicated that a frantic effort is being made (including on-the-ground activities attributed to Turkish, British and perhaps US special forces) to identify the locations of the Syrian army’s non-conventional arms – meaning not only its long-range missile arsenal, but also what the West says is the biggest stockpile of chemical weapons in the region.
There has been a profusion of reports focusing on this theme in the Israeli and Western media over the past two weeks.
Sky News and others have meanwhile quoted intelligence sources saying Israel is considering the possibility of military intervention to prevent Syria’s secret chemical weapons stockpiles from falling into terrorist hands.
This prompted a further round of alarm-bell ringing, with the commander of the occupation army’s Northern Region, Yair Golan, warning that strategic arms other than chemical weapons were being transferred from Syria to Hezbollah. When asked by the newspaper Israel Hayom about the prospective supply of chemical weapons, he said that would pose an unparalleled threat which Israel would not tolerate, which the paper took as meaning it would trigger a major war.
Military and security sources proceeded to tell The Jerusalem Post that intelligence received by the West about the transfer of chemical weapons to Lebanon could prompt it to take pre-emptive military action.
The Israelis did not stop at this. They also unleashed a sudden torrent of threats against Lebanon and Hezbollah, with numerous officials warning that utter devastation would be inflicted on the country in the event of a fresh confrontation with Hezbollah.
It has become clear that the international balance of power prevents the UN Security Council from authorizing direct military intervention aimed at toppling the regime.
Faced with this, it seems that the US and the West have reverted to seeking a role for the neighborhood bully, for whom the dirty work is left when all else fails.
As in Lebanon in 2005 and 2006, a point has been reached at which the West and its local allies feel they cannot achieve a breakthrough without a major shakeup on the ground.
Israel is thus perceived as preparing itself for a possible military blitz against Syria, under the pretext of getting rid of its WMD as in Iraq, with the aim of dealing devastating blows to the Syrian army and state. The hope is that having severely weakened them, Assad’s Western and Arab enemies could deal the killer blows, enabling the armed opposition to prevail and take over.
Some saw them as evidence that Israel is gearing up for an attack in Iran, following the failure of its talks the West over its nuclear programme. But there are few real signs of the enemy preparing to embark on so great a folly. Also, there are many reasons, well known and not-so-well known, why launching a war on Lebanon would be tantamount to inviting everyone to a barbeque party in hell.
That would suggest that the intended purpose of the threats is to “impose neutrality” on Hezbollah and deter it from taking action against Israel if it opts to attack Syria. Some decision-makers in the West, and in Israel, evidently believe it would be possible to single Assad out and pick him off.
This is not the case. Any Israeli military assault on Syria would, quite simply, be an invitation to war with Hezbollah. It would be naive to think that Hezbollah or Iran would stand idly by as their chief ally in the region is brought down, most especially by Israel.
Accordingly, the sources say, a variety of messages were conveyed to Washington, Tel Aviv and other capitals, to the effect that that an Israeli military operation, even if brief, against Syria, would tip the region into all-out war.
In that case, the barriers that prevent the fire spreading to other parts of the Arab world or the region would come down one by one. It would be hard and painful in the extreme. Strategic calculations and analyses would be of no use to anyone, nor wishful thinking or prayers. We would witness the most blistering episode yet of the Arab-Israeli conflict, with victory hinging on patience.
Let us listen carefully to Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s speech on Wednesday.
Syrian oppositionists on Twitter ignore mainstream media reports
I have noticed a recent and very disturbing trend on twitter among supporters of the Syrian opposition whereby they ignore mainstream media (yes, their own media) accounts of events that contradict their own narrative. In so doing, they brazenly distort and falsify reality despite a media consensus on these events.
Last week alone, these tweeps claimed that the 17 Palestinians in Syria who were killed by Syrian rebels, were in fact murdered and tortured by Assad’s forces. Separately, they have been repeating—despite the UN’s premilimary report on the issue—that those killed in Treimseh were civilians.
This despite this AFP report here which quotes a SANA interview with the head of the Palestine Liberation Army (PLA)— a battalion in the Syrian army— who condemned the kidnapping and killing of 17 of his troops by “armed terrorist groups” in northern Syria. HAMAS subsequently condemned the killings as reported by AFP and Al-Akhbar here: ”The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas issued a strongly worded statement on Thursday condemning “the ugly killing of 17 PLA soldiers” by suspected rebels in Syria.”
The second story regarding the violence in Treimseh has now been clarified by the UN investigation’s report as a battle between two warring parties rather than a massacre of civilians. As reported by the NY Times:
New details emerging Saturday about what local Syrian activists called a massacre of civilians near the central city of Hama indicated that it was more likely an uneven clash between the heavily armed Syrian military and local fighters bearing light weapons.
Their initial report said the attack appeared to target “specific groups and houses, mainly of army defectors and activists,” Ms. Ghosheh said in a statement. It said a range of weapons had been used, including artillery, mortars and small arms.
Although what actually happened in Tremseh remains murky, the evidence available suggested that events on Thursday more closely followed the Syrian government account.
The picture emerging is that there was a large group of fighters from the town and the local area bivouacked in Tremseh. The Syrian Army moved in early Thursday, blocking all exits and blasting away with machine guns, tank shells and rockets fired from helicopters, laying waste to the town.
“Whenever the Syrian Army knows there are fighters concentrated in an area, they attack,” said the leader of the Observatory, who goes by the pseudonym Rami Abdul-Rahman for safety reasons. “The majority of people killed in Tremseh were either rebel fighters from the village or from surrounding villages.”
Disclaimer: Please note that I am not the Amal Saad-Ghorayeb on twitter under the handle @AmalTheResistor shown here.
This fake account uses my real name and is an impersonation of me in violation of Twitter’s policy on parody since my actual name is used. I have reported the incident to Twitter and hopefully the account will be shut and the name modified so as to avoid confusion.
On another note, the tweets are very un-clever and unfunny and the followers even sillier. I expected more from oppositionists with all the PR they have at their disposal. And their defamation of Che Guevera and mocking of Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah just underlines what colonized lackeys of Empire they really are. Oh wait, calling anyone an imperialist or Zionist is so last year and hence mockable so I guess this post will be their next target. Hopefully it will be funnier than the others.
Russian parliament adopts NGO 'foreign agents' bill
Very interesting precedent that other countries should consider following. Story from the BBC here :
Russia’s lower house of parliament has adopted a controversial bill that labels foreign-funded non-governmental organisations as “foreign agents”.
The upper house and President Vladimir Putin are now expected to turn the bill into law.
Approval in the largely pro-Putin Duma (lower house) was overwhelming.
Human rights activists have condemned the bill, seeing it as a tool to crush dissent. The Duma also voted to impose big fines for libel or slander.
Journalists from some leading Russian news outlets demonstrated outside the Duma against the new libel law, which envisages fines of up to 5m rubles (£99,000; $153,000) for offenders. They warned that it would bring extra pressure on the media.
The NGO bill requires all the relevant NGOs’ materials to include the phrase “foreign agents”. The term carries a Soviet-era negative taint in Russia, suggesting spying, correspondents say.
The Kremlin says the bill is needed to protect Russia from outside attempts to influence internal politics.
Some NGOs complain that they have to seek funding from abroad because they cannot get it from the Russian state. There are also fears that the bill could be used to restrict independent election monitoring.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said state funding would be increased for NGOs whose activity “as a whole is deemed useful and positive for our country”.
Under the bill, foreign-funded NGOs involved in politics will also have to undergo financial audits and issue twice-yearly reports on their activities.
Failure to comply will be punishable by heavy fines or even a two-year prison sentence.
“Five articles later, this is my conclusion in the debate with the Third Way: To all intents and purposes, there is no real “Third Way”, there are only two ways. It is not so much a case of you are either with us or against us, but rather, you are either with imperialism or against it. There is simply no practical alternative to these binaries in today’s geopolitical order.”—
Has Third Wayism become an intellectual safe haven for closet interventionists?
I am starting to realize that Third-Wayism is a misnomer for many of those who identify themselves as such or who are considered as belonging to this camp. Some of them— and I don’t say all, but some— read like closet interventionists. In other cases, like Max Blumenthal’s (example #3), they sound like closet Israel legitimizers. In effect, Third Wayism is being used as an intellectual safe haven for closet interventionists.
Excerpts from 3 different Third-Wayers:
"Let us imagine a wild scenario whereby the United States would have intervened to stop the Israeli massacre of Palestinians in Gaza in January 2009. Would Gazans, under daily bombs and bullets, have objected on the grounds of the US record of imperialism? Or perhaps, Gazans might have objected due to their suspicion of the United States’ potential designs for the post-intervention stage? Surely many outsiders will think so, and some insiders may too. But most Gazans would likely not have been entertaining ideology and geostrategic reflexivity, as their skies rained death from above. Moreover, even if, in this wild scenario, Gazan’s acceptance of external intervention would have been perhaps short-sighted, it would have been patently ridiculous to claim that all such Gazans were part of an imperialist conspiracy.
In fact, opposing foreign intervention may have a very high cost in terms of human life given that the regime might be capable of unleashing its full wrath on dissenters in the absence of external restraint. Some third wayers might argue that it is a painful price one has to bear if the issue is indeed about organic revolution and not either a grand struggle for power or merely saving lives in the short term.
“The Assad regime was running an institution of torture in prisons. Possibly 100,000 people are in prison right now. And this makes Israel look like, you know, a champion of human rights.”
Zionist collaborationist FSA thugs massacre Palestinian fighters in Syria, as reported by Akhbar here. Ironic that Hamas is condemning the side it has [indirectly] aligned itself with:
The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas issued a strongly worded statement on Thursday condemning “the ugly killing of 17 PLA soldiers” by suspected rebels in Syria.
The head of the Palestine Liberation Army (PLA) in Syria condemned on Thursday the kidnapping and killing of 17 of his troops by “armed terrorist groups,” state news agency SANA reported.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Wednesday that the bodies of 13 PLA soldiers had been found after they were kidnapped days earlier while en route to Aleppo in northern Syria.
The PLA is a battalion in the Syrian army, although it is made up of Palestinians living in Syria and who are conscripted to the armed forces.
PLA chief of staff Major General Mohammad Tareq al-Khadraa told SANA: “The fact that the armed terrorist groups kidnapped and killed 17 troops from the Palestinian Liberation Army in Syria proves the criminal, dirty role that these groups play and their links to Western and Zionist agendas.”
He added that the men were “tortured and abused,” that “they were unarmed, and that they were on their way to visit their families on holiday.”
Images of the massacre show messages scrawled on the bodies of the Palestinian men, reportedly left by armed opposition fighters.
It is unclear why the armed militiamen attacked the Palestinians, who have largely kept out of the Syrian uprising since it began in March 2011.
Khadraa called the men martyrs who “gave their lives in an offering to the liberation of Palestine.”
It called the killings “a racist, cowardly act that targets the presence of Palestinians in Syria as guests who do not interfere in internal issues.”
Hamas had its political headquarters in Damascus until the uprising began, when it sought to move its operations elsewhere due to the deteriorating security situation.
Roughly 470,000 Palestinian refugees live in Syria.
Strangely, AFP and NOWLebanon carried this report today about the Treimseh massacre, which contradicts the mainstream narrative that AFP had published earlier in the day:
Most of the people killed in the Treimsa violence in central Syria were rebel fighters, an activist said on Friday, adding the bloodbath followed a Free Syrian Army attack on an army convoy.
"At this stage, though we do not yet have the final count, the number of civilians killed by shelling is not more than seven," Jaafar, an activist at the anti-regime Sham News Network, told AFP. "The rest were members of the [rebel] Free Syrian Army."
"An army convoy was on its way to the region of Hama when it was attacked by the FSA," he said. "The army staged a counter-attack with the support of [pro-regime] reinforcements from [nearby] Alawite villages. The FSA resisted for an hour before it was defeated."
Separately, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that “dozens of rebel fighters” were among those killed.
"Several dozen rebel fighters were among those killed," said the Observatory, adding that only around 40 of the more than 150 dead had been identified.
Thirty corpses were burned and 18 were “summarily executed,” said the Britain-based group.
Hands down the most diligently researched and comprehensive article on the Syrian opposition in the Guardian. Brilliant stuff:
'This is the story of the Syrian war, but there is another story to be told. A tale less bloody, but nevertheless important. This is a story about the storytellers: the spokespeople, the “experts on Syria”, the “democracy activists”. The statement makers. The people who “urge” and “warn” and “call for action”…. These spokespeople are vocal advocates of foreign military intervention in Syria and thus natural allies of well-known US neoconservatives who supported Bush’s invasion of Iraq and are now pressuring the Obama administration to intervene. As we will see, several of these spokespeople have found support, and in some cases developed long and lucrative relationships with advocates of military intervention on both sides of the Atlantic.’
Pro-opposition Anonymous are source of Syria Files' leaks
So now material provided by a group which has openly aligned itself with one party to the Syrian conflict, and which initially offered the material to the main sponsor of that party (al-Jazeera) supposedly constitutes ”evidence”. I am sure if al-Manar tv for example, hacked mails belonging to the Syrian opposition and this would be viewed as the unadulterated truth and counted as credible evidence. Right.
Days after WikiLeaks began releasing a trove of more than 2 million e-mails stolen from Syrian officials, ministries and companies, members of an Anonymous group have claimed responsibility for the hacks and document dump to Wikileaks.
In a press release published Saturday, a group calling itself Anonymous Op Syria disclosed that its members hacked into multiple domains and dozens of servers inside Syria on Feb. 5 to obtain the e-mails, which it then gave to WikiLeaks.
The Anonymous team, composed of members of three groups known as Anonymous Syria, AntiSec, and the Peoples Liberation Front, says it had been assisting activists in Syria since protests began against the Syrian regime more than a year ago, and that the team worked round-the-clock shifts to hack the servers.
“So large was the data available to be taken, and so great was the danger of detection (especially for the members of Anonymous Syria, many of whom are ‘in country’) that the downloading of this data took several additional weeks,” says the group in its statement.
Last March, the group hinted at the treasure it possessed when it leaked about 3,000 e-mails from the personal e-mail account of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma to the Guardian newspaper in London.
Leaking the entire trove of e-mails, however, proved to be more difficult.
“We gave Syrian mails to Wikileaks after trying unsuccessfully to make a deal with Al Jazeera English,” a member of the group told Wired in an instant message exchange. “We like the Wikileaks concept, and they do a good job of releasing these kinds of things. We successfully released Stratfor together previously, and both learned from our mistakes there.”
My latest piece for al-Akhbar here on why resisting imperialism takes precedence over rebelling against authoritarianism. Some excerpts:
" The very equivalence between imperialism and authoritarianism is an intellectually flawed one that is rooted in a liberal-leftist tradition that conceives of all deployments of power as being equally coercive and oppressive, irrespective of the global hierarchy of power….
In the mumanaists’ conceptual hierarchy of oppression, imperialism and authoritarianism are situated in two entirely different levels of domination. This rank-ordering is not based on an ideological abstraction that is divorced from political reality or on the rhetorical value of anti-imperialist sentiment, but on immediate, practical concerns. Imperialism is not evil because it is practiced by the West, but because it harms people’s lives and interests. Empire kills; it kills vast amounts of people, whether it occupies countries directly or intervenes militarily, economically or politically, it is responsible for innumerable deaths, destruction and impoverishment of all those in its wake….
Indeed, it could be argued that the universalization of the Euro-American-centric human rights doctrine that has come to dominate the Arab Spring freedom discourses, serves to obscure imperialism and foreign domination… “
A former editor at al-Akhbar offers a leftist critique of my own Marxist critiques of Third Wayism. Apparently, I am an Assad “apologist” who doesn’t understand Lenin and who is not a fan of the great anti-colonial thinker, Frantz Fanon. Incidentally, I had already quoted Fanon for my next piece which will appear in Akhbar later this week. I have also quoted Fanon in the past in connection with Syria and the Arab Spring on my blog here.
Unlike most Third Wayers, the author gives credit to Assad’s role in supporting the resistance project, but he makes many problematic assertions such as this one which, despite its professed anti-interventionism, appears to view NATO as the Syrian people’s saviour and a force that could potentially save lives: “ In fact, opposing foreign intervention may have a very high cost in terms of human life given that the regime might be capable of unleashing its full wrath on dissenters in the absence of external restraint. Some third wayers might argue that it is a painful price one has to bear if the issue is indeed about organic revolution and not either a grand struggle for power or merely saving lives in the short term.”
Some other excerpts from Hisham Safieddine’s piece:
"In their attempt to distort and discredit third-way politics, most first wayers identify the essence of the Asad regime as anti-imperialist, when in reality it is ultranationalist with an anti-Zionist silver lining—a thick lining one might still argue. Sometimes, they invoke Lenin’s critique of third-way politics, with little accompanying class analysis. However, a more apt analogy would be the non-aligned movement of the Cold War era. Apologists will confuse the lack of political power (i.e., the power of decision-making) with a lack of political position (i.e., a practical political agenda or plan), and draw a caricature of who is a third wayer as a criticism of last resort.
To continue to insist on blanket support for Asad under the pretense of an anti-imperialist stance is to confuse anti-imperialism with blind support for nationalist elites. Furthermore, a refusal to conflate the two is not an invention of “liberal armchair intellectuals” as some first wayers claim. Such a refusal was substantively formulated by one of the pillars of anti-colonial thought, Frantz Fanon, whose name is conspicuously absent from the political lexicon of Asad apologists. Long before neo-liberal elites had come to power, Fanon warned against the excesses of nationalist bourgeois elites in using anti-imperialist or anti-colonial discourse to disguise their own comprador role in consolidating imperialist structures of control. Fanon’s analysis might actually help explain why some Arab leftists, who are likely more sensitive to anti-colonial history than international anti-imperialists, are third wayers rather than outright supporters of the regime. But instead of invoking Fanon, apologists will go so far as to invoke Lenin’s quote about third-party politics, which is really a language trick no different than someone quoting Tony Blair’s own reference to a “third way” in order to undermine third-way politics in Syria. Lenin was at times more than willing to compromise when it came to dealing with imperialist forces (i.e., the Brest Liovsk treaty). In the instance of his critique of third-way politics, the communist leader was actually more concerned with class struggle and contemptuous of those, like liberal socialists, who did not take a firm and uncompromising position in this struggle against the bourgeois class….
Lenin’s critique of third-way politics may thus ironically lend itself more to backing calls for no compromise with Asad, given that the Syrian uprising’s class composition is largely made up of the countryside peasantry and suburban working class…”
“Nothing is more amusing than explaining to your blonde-haired, fair-skinned children that as Arabs, they are not White people. No matter how much you repeat that it’s determined by race not skin colour, they remain incredulous…”—
In the final analysis, the “democracy” that the “Arab Spring” has ushered in has only served Empire’s long-standing stratagem of divide-and-rule. Any democratic reforms which occur in a highly polarized and sectarian environment that has been stripped of all Arab nationalist identity—and with it, the preeminent status the liberation of Palestine once enjoyed— degenerates into the tyranny of imperialist-enabling majorities who win power by default in liberal, though by no means democratic, elections.
What we are witnessing in the Arab world today is the unfolding of liberalism, not of democracy. For at the end of the day, democracy isn’t merely procedural aspects like elections and political reforms, but more substantially, the ability of people enjoying popular sovereignty to shape their own political identity, control their national resources and participate in determining their national destiny. Indeed, the loss of national sovereignty and self-determination in Libya and Syria, coupled with the triumph of narrow sectarian loyalties over Arab national identities, has only resulted in the de-democratization of the region, which is now even more firmly in the Empire’s grip.
I urge all those who pursue Palestine’s liberation to check the Never Before Campign for Palestine’s Youtube Channel here to see their incredibly powerful and moving videos.
This is their mission statement:
Palestine: Never Before has a people suffered such an injustice, yet displayed resilience and resistance - like Never Before.
Discussions on Palestine and the Palestinian cause have included attempts to link it to the struggle of South Africans under the apartheid regime, the struggle of the Vietnamese people, the Algerian revolution or other just causes throughout history. The conclusion, however, was that it cannot be compared to any.
What happened in Palestine since 1947 has never happened before, in terms of the combination of the elements: brutality and racism of the occupier, the injustice of granting one peoples land to others, duration of this injustice, complicity and apathy of the civilized world as well as Palestinian people’s will to resist all that against all odds.
Hence the term the Never-Before Campaign: Injustice that is unfolding like never before met with resistance and resilience, also like never before.
The Never-Before-Campaign for Palestine is a Beirut-based campaign launched by individuals of different professional backgrounds, including sociologists, political scientists and communications experts.
The Never-Before-Campaign calls for a new approach to support Palestine, and its people, their cause and their resistance movements. This new approach veers away from the traditional competitions for victim-hood which usually seek to elicit the worlds pity. Pity only yields sympathy.
For decades, Palestinians have been treated, at best, as poor unfortunate beings who might deserve charity and maybe some humanitarian aid. Meanwhile, Israel decides, at its own leisure, which bits of the usurped rights to give back.
The Campaign aims at commanding respect. The world does not respect the meek, rather the powerful and the confident. The Palestinian people are victims here, but they are also resilient and determined. The Campaign seeks to communicate this image to the world.
In addition, the image of resistance, that has been suppressed for fear of being confused with terror, is also and integral part of the campaign. No cosmetics, no facades. A masked gunman is the current image of the Palestinian resistance, whether we like it or not. It is this masked freedom fighter facing the might of the Israeli army that makes us proud. The campaign does not succumb to Western sensitivities of the post 9-11 era.
The West and the whole world are at fault here, not the Palestinian people or the resistance movements. The Campaign addresses that issue: Palestine will not wait for Western remorse that always comes too late, such as for the Holocaust, Rwanda and South Africa.
The Campaign recognizes growing awareness about the Palestinian cause all over the world and builds on it. It targets different sets of audiences at the same time.
The Never Before Campaign has no political or religious affiliation, it only has one enemy. All those fighting for the same cause are allies to the Campaign. Our purpose is to make those allies as numerous as possible and to share the credit with them once our cause is victorious.
Hizbullah and Lenin on "the people" and revolution
I am posting here an excerpt which I had written for my last article for al-Akhbar, “Supporting Resistance, Not Regime” , but which was edited out by the editors due to space constraints. I feel this passage is important to the consistency of my argument as a few comrades asked why the conclusion seemed incomplete. So here is the relevant section on Lenin and Hizbullah’s understanding of revolutionary action:
As underlined by David Fennell in his illuminating essay on counter-revolution in Libya, “Marxism understands that anything is determined by the totality of the forces acting in it.” Fennell goes on to quote Lenin’s definition of totality as one which takes account “of all the forces, groups, parties, classes and masses operating in a given country’.” In other words, when formulating a political position, an analysis of the working class’ situation alone does not suffice, but must involve all social contradictions, with special emphasis on social contradictions which occur on the world system’s level.
Particularly useful for understanding the basic contradiction on Syria between pro-opposition and Third Way intellectuals and resistance camp intellectuals, is the following insight from Fennell’s essay. Here, Fennell attributes leftist support for popular movements hijacked by imperialism “to a non-Marxist theory which sees the class struggle not as resulting from the total contradictions of all classes in society but from some sort of populist unfolding of the masses – put vulgarly, if people are on a demonstration, or if there is a mass movement, it must necessarily be progressive. Regrettably this is not true – as Marx analyzed from the 1848 revolutions onward. It is perfectly possible to have large movements which are either reactionary from the beginning or seized control of and manipulated by reaction and imperialism. It is not the fact that a lot of people are involved that makes a movement progressive, but which class benefits from its victory or defeat.”
While Hizbullah does not espouse a Marxist- Leninist political ideology, it adopts a similar logic not only with regard to Syria, but also to its own resistance activity. Although it is a grass-roots movement which enjoys popular support in Lebanon and the region as a whole, as Nasrallah readily admits, it is also aware that its resistance is “a controversial national issue” which was never “an object of national consensus”. Popular legitimacy is no doubt desirable for the movement, but it is not necessary: “the resistance does not wait for national or popular consensus but must take to arms and press ahead with the duty of liberation.” Viewed from this perspective, resistance isn’t a right because it is launched by “the people” or because it enjoys mass support, but because it seeks to liberate the oppressed. By the same token, if a movement were to hypothetically enjoy some kind of national consensus, but was positioned on the same side of the political divide as imperialism, it would not qualify as a progressive revolutionary movement as its victory would only serve the interests of the Empire.
“They say “The old ‘wisdom’ of past revolutionaries that liberation from foreign domination precedes the struggle for democracy has fallen.” We answer, Palestine isn’t a fashion. Justice never falls out of style.”—
Disclaimer: I stand corrected; My comrades were right, the Wikileaks Syria File is very suspicious. This is what happens when you are pressed for time and you end up reading excerpts of a statement in the media rather than reading it in the original source…
First of all, I wasn’t aware mainstream media also had publishing rights to the files,I thought Akhbar had exclusive rights as was often the case in the past. So even if Al-Akhbar’s reports balance out the coverage, they will be drowned out by the information warlords who will play up the mails which “embarrass” the regime and downplay the others . Second, I didn’t see this: “WikiLeaks’ Sarah Harrison told journalists that the emails reveal interactions between the Syrian government and Western companies”. This better not be the only Western hypocrisy they are referring to. In fact this charge of “hypocrisy” derives from Empire’s hegemonic view that nobody should do business with the demonic Syrian regime. Surely there are hundreds of thousands of documents out there which, if obtained and released, would expose the mega-conspiracy against Syria. If Wikileaks is pursuing genuine balance or neutrality in coverage, they should have focused their efforts on obtaining such documents and used them as a counterbalance to mails which expose the Syrian regime. This would constitute true balance between two parties to a conflict, not the publication of material which amounts to little more than an indictment of the West for not being more consistent in its isolation and sanctions policies.
And most importantly, how on earth did Wikileaks manage to amass over 2.4 million POLITICALLY RELEVANT mails from 680 different domain names and 678,000 individual email addresses over 6 years? How is that even possible? The State Department cables covered the entire world and only amounted to a quarter of a million….This isn’t looking good at all, though I am still hopeful some of the documents will incriminate US/NATO/GCC’s involvement in Syria.
Israel warns of a more savage war on Hizbullah once Assad is toppled
Israel confirms what the resistance/anti-imperialist camp already knew: that the fall of the Assad regime would empower the Zionist regime and unleash it on a defenseless —thanks to cutting off its Syrian supply routes—Hizbullah with even more brute force than before:
The collapse of the Syrian regime may also bring with it an increase in Jihadi or Hezbollah operatives, who may try to carry out targeted attacks in the area.
"The Goldstone report will pale in comparison to what will be here next time. There is no choice but to fight against the enemy where he is, and that is in the heart of a populated area. "
The Northern Command point out that reconstruction work in Bint Jbeil, the site of a major battle during the 2006 war, was only completed a few months ago. The next confrontation, they point out, will cause even more damage. In the event that the situation would erupt, said Halevy, “the IDF is preparing seriously and professionally for another Lebanon war. The response will need to be sharper, harder, and in some ways very violent. The next war will be with very heavy exchanges of fire on both sides, and so both need to make every effort to stop this happening. In the Goldstone Report, the community and the world tended to get confused and think that this can be done in a nicer way. It cannot be nice. Without the use of great force, we will find it difficult to achieve the aim, and the enemy should also know that. “
Israelis not too pleased al-Akhbar will be publishing Syria File Wikileaks
The LA Times blog reports on the controversy surrounding Al-Akhbar’s publication of Syria Files here
"As WikiLeaks unveiled plans to release millions of Syrian government emails that could prove embarrassing to both Syrian officials and their foes, it named several partner news outlets that would soon be doing articles based on the vast trove of messages.
One of its partners quickly drew attention: Al Akhbar, a Lebanese newspaper that has been accused of bias toward Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The paper is widely regarded as favoring Lebanese militant group and political party Hezbollah, which has been supportive of Assad as the conflict rages. Critics argue that its coverage of the crisis has been skewed toward the Syrian government. Journalist Max Blumenthal stopped writing for Al Akhbar last month, complaining that “the apologia for Assad and his crimes has reached unbearable levels.”
Haaretz writer Anshel Pfeffer called the choice of Al Akhbar “worrying,” saying the paper openly identifies with the Syrian government. “If they have access to the emails, prior to their publication, it can be assumed that the security services in Damascus will also have advance knowledge,” Pfeffer wrote in the Israeli daily.
Others countered that picking Al Akhbar would balance news coverage with that of Western outlets that would tend to play up Syrian crimes.
"Al Akhbar will be less likely than any other paper to practice selective or omissive publishing of the leaks to Empire’s benefit," wrote leftist Lebanese blogger Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, who also writes for Al Akhbar and has argued for supporting Assad against Israel.
Announcing its WikiLeaks plans, editor Ibrahim al Amin said Al Akhbar was committed to determining what was happening in Syria, “to sort out what is real and what is fabricated.”
"One thing is obvious, though, the hypocrisy of global politics has reached a new high when dealing with Syria," Al Amin said in an Al Akhbar article about the WikiLeaks partnership.
WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday. In addition to the Lebanese paper, the controversial secret-spilling website has announced that articles stemming from the emails would appear in the Associated Press and outlets in Egypt, Germany, Italy and France, as well as others that would announce themselves closer to their publication dates.
The group said on Twitter that it “covers the political spectrum on #SyriaFiles from AP to Al-Akhbar” and has stressed that the emails will prove a double-edged sword in the Syria debate. Some of the first documents to be released appear to show that an Italian company sold radio equipment to the Syrian police amid European condemnation of the regime, an explosive story run by the Italian newspaper L’Espesso.
"The Syria Files shine a light on the inner workings of the Syrian government and economy, but they also reveal how the West and Western companies say one thing and do another," WikiLeaks said in its announcement Thursday.
The WikiLeaks emails are the latest leaks to shed light on the Syrian government as it tries to fend off an uprising that has lasted more than a year. In March, the Guardian unveiled a cache of emails that appear to have been exchanged by Assad and his inner circle in which Assad makes light of his reforms and his wife drops thousands of dollars on French chandeliers and heels.”
Some thoughts on Wikileaks/Al-Akhbar publication of Syria e-mails
I know some of my comrades in the anti-imperialist/resistance camp are very unhappy about they see as Wikileaks’ ill-timed release of over 2 million emails on Syria, and Julian Assange’s seeming equation between the two sides when he says: “The material is embarrassing to Syria, but it is also embarrassing to Syria’s opponents.”
But on the other hand, Ibrahim al-Amine, editor-in-chief of al-Akhbar, which will be publishing the leaks, has said the leaks prove that “the hypocrisy of global politics has reached a new high when dealing with Syria.” Let us not forget that Zionist/imperialist-enabler, Max Blumenthal, resigned from al-Akhbar in part because of Ibrahim’s writings on Syria, and that Al-Akhbar will be less likely than any other paper to practice selective or omissive publishing of the leaks to Empire’s benefit. It’s also important to recall that this is a newspaper which is branded “pro-Hizbullah” by the West, and whose mission as described by Al-Amine is to provoke the U.S.: “We wanted the U.S. ambassador to wake up in the morning, read it and get upset.”
As for the contents of the leaks, I know I may not be speaking for everyone in our camp but at least for a large part of it when I say that we never had any illusions about the nature of this regime. We already knew the regime was corrupt and repressive (I am not referring to charges of massacres and such but to its overall intolerance of dissent) and contained many undesirable elements. Those of us who support Assad’s struggle against imperialism do so not because we harbour delusions about the regime’s socialist or democratic credentials but on account of its anti-imperialist, resistance credentials. Many of us already dealt with our cognitive dissonance by reluctantly accepting the regime’s defects and mistakes for the time being in the interests of a higher cause.
Even though mainstream media and the oppositionists will milk these revelations for all they are worth, the evidence incriminating those waging war on Syria (both external and domestic) will more than counterbalance whatever is leaked about the regime, especially given the gross imbalances of power. At the end of the day, we have already made our priorities known: our struggle against imperialism takes precedence over our rejection of authoritarianism. Unless we discover that Assad has secretly been striking a deal with US-Israel or masterminding massacres, the priorities dictating our position will remain in place. The more primary evidence we have at our disposal to confirm our suspicions and reinforce our existing knowledge, the more we can expose the conspirators and collaborators with hard and irrefutable facts. The regime’s corruption and repression is common knowledge, but the nature and scope of the conspiracy against Syria isn’t. These leaks may well serve to shift Arab and international public opinion away from the side of the opposition to a more neutral or nuanced position. If the leaks are perceived as shielding the regime, they will not be able to earn the required credibility to make such a public opinion shift possible.
They label non-submissive governments as “authoritarian” “regimes” or “dictatorships” but none of these political systems are totalitarian in the same way that liberalism is, particularly its American variant. None of these systems demand inner [cognitive and emotional] conformity from their subjects, only outward conformity in their political behaviour. For what could be more totalitarian than a system which also wants to control our “hearts and minds”? A system which seeks to intellectually and psychologically structure our choices in every aspect of our lives; A system which refuses to acknowledge that it is an ideology at all but pronounces itself a meta-ideology or zero-point from where other ideologies are judged to be left or right, religious or secular, democratic or undemocratic; A system which doesn’t even require overt modes of control or censorship to dominate its subjects because it shapes rationality with its subjects’ consent; A system which is so hegemonic, so naturalized that it passes itself off as common sense and hence distorts our perception of reality itself; a system which is so totalitarian and universalized that even those who resist its more violent manifestations remain blind to the fact that their resistance remains confined within its parameters; What system is anywhere near as totalitarian as liberalism?
An illuminating article on the new and far more insidious cognitive imperialism by resisting scholar, June Terpstra:
The main focus of new resistance movements must be that of human cognition. The people of the USA, Europe and Israel do not see themselves as the oppressors, the occupiers, the killers and the torturers. They have convinced themselves of their superiority in all things. The moral education system they have deconstructed forms a cognitive structure which views greed and aggression for “democracy” as the norm. My assertions here will make most Americans, Europeans, and Israeli’s uncomfortable, because most do not “feel” like the “bad guys” in fact, they think they are the “good guys”. Whereas in the past cultural imperialism and white supremacy was asserted through blatantly racist acts and colonial political policies using liberal Enlightenment ideas about the “equality of man” there is now a weeding out of notions of national superiority based on so called democratic economic standards that are even more complex and more firmly entrenched than old style European imperialism. The moral import of this dominant cultural notion of the human person is clear. Children in the USA, Europe and Israel across race, gender and class learn concepts about love, equality, and the Golden Rule while simultaneously being trained in the importance of killing and torturing so called terrorists and “liberating” countries lead by so called dictators in the name of “national security”. Equality now is reserved for those members of the USA, Israel and Europe who obey their masters and those who question this set of lies experience isolation and accusations of being unpatriotic and “domestic terrorists”.
The Strait of Hormuz: U.S. Military Maneuvers and Iranian Political Moves
Excerpts from the NYT article “U.S. Adds Forces in Persian Gulf, a Signal to Iran” here:
WASHINGTON — The United States has quietly moved significant military reinforcements into the Persian Gulf to deter the Iranian military from any possible attempt to shut the Strait of Hormuz and to increase the number of fighter jets capable of striking deep into Iran if the standoff over its nuclear program escalates.
The deployments are part of a long-planned effort to bolster the American military presence in the gulf region, in part to reassure Israel that in dealing with Iran, as one senior administration official put it last week, “When the president says there are other options on the table beyond negotiations, he means it.
The most visible elements of this buildup are Navy ships designed to vastly enhance the ability to patrol the Strait of Hormuz — and to reopen the narrow waterway should Iran attempt to mine it to prevent Saudi Arabia and other oil exporters from sending their tankers through the vital passage.
The Navy has doubled the number of minesweepers assigned to the region, to eight vessels, in what military officers describe as a purely defensive move.
“The message to Iran is, ‘Don’t even think about it,’ ” one senior Defense Department official said. “Don’t even think about closing the strait. We’ll clear the mines. Don’t even think about sending your fast boats out to harass our vessels or commercial shipping. We’ll put them on the bottom of the gulf.” Like others interviewed, the official spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the diplomatic and military situation.
For President Obama, the combination of negotiations, new sanctions aimed at Iran’s oil revenues and increased military pressure is the latest — and perhaps the most vital — test of what the White House calls a “two track” policy against Iran. In the midst of a presidential election campaign in which his opponent, Mitt Romney, has accused him of being “weak” in dealing with the Iranian nuclear issue, Mr. Obama seeks to project toughness without tipping into a crisis in the region.
At the same time he must signal support for Israel, but not so much support that the Israelis see the buildup as an opportunity to strike the Iranian nuclear facilities, which Mr. Obama’s team believes could set off a war without significantly setting back the Iranian program.
Defense Department officials stressed that the recent reshaping of American forces in the Persian Gulf region should not be viewed as solely about the potential nuclear threat from Iran.
“This is not only about Iranian nuclear ambitions, but about Iran’s regional hegemonic ambitions,” the senior Defense Department official said.
“This is a complex array of American military power that is tangible proof to all of our allies and partners and friends that even as the U.S. pivots toward Asia, we remain vigilant across the Middle East.”
Excerpts from Russia Today “Iran Lawmakers Prepare to Close Hormuz Strait” here
Iranian lawmakers have drafted a bill that would close the Strait of Hormuz for oil tankers heading to countries supporting current economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
"There is a bill prepared in the National Security and Foreign Policy committee of Parliament that stresses the blocking of oil tanker traffic carrying oil to countries that have sanctioned Iran," Iranian MP Ibrahim Agha-Mohammadi told reporters.
"This bill has been developed as an answer to the European Union’s oil sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran."
Agha-Mohammadi said that 100 of Tehran’s 290 members of parliament had signed the bill as of Sunday.
Iran’s threats to block the waterway through which about 17 million barrels a day sailed in 2011 have grown in the past year as US and European sanctions aimed at starving Tehran of funds for its nuclear programme have tightened.
The Strait of Hormuz is a vital shipping route through which most of the crude exported from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq and nearly all the gas exported from Qatar sails.
An EU ban on Iranian oil imports came into effect on Sunday.
Investigative journalist and historian Gareth Porter believes the bill’s introduction is a step in a series of actions that Iran can take to hamper oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz, causing oil prices to skyrocket.
“What we can look forward to in the coming weeks and months is that the Iranians will make a series of moves, beginning with this bill in the Majlis, threating to pass the bill; if that doesn’t have an effect, certainly going ahead with the passage,” Porter told RT. “Then first in a series of limited moves towards threatening to actually put mines in the strait to prevent the shipping of oil from going through. And then, I think, Iranians have the option of a very limited use of mines, with very few mines being dropped in this strait to try to get the price of oil to shoot up, for one thing, and to get the United States to react.”
Israel is not just a social or political fact that requires scientific analysis and explanation; from its very inception until today, its longstanding and consistent record of aggression, murder and displacement— to name but a few ways in which it is an existential threat— have consecrated its status as a value judgement in much the same way that moral concepts like evil and injustice are. We should soon reach the stage whereby we don’t have to explain why Israel should cease to exist, just as we are not required to explain why evil should cease to exist , other than to say “because it’s Israel, stupid”.
A must read and must watch, not because there is anything particularly novel here but so that it serves as a reminder that although all societies contain evil sadists who hurt children, only in Israel do we find an entire culture which has been socialized to celebrate the killing and torture of children. I really don’t understand how some Arabs still entertain the possibility of a two state solution, or even a one-state solution where Palestinians are supposed to “coexist” with Zionists who have been acculturated this way.
Egypt will approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other financial institutions to help get its economy back on track once new President Mohammed Mursi appoints a government, a presidential financial adviser told Reuters.
The decision represents a reversal of position for the new premier, who had previously been hesitant to back the loan.
Speaking in March, Mursi – then the head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing – said: “The loan will be a burden on the shoulders of Egyptian people, who have the right to know how it will be spent and how it will be paid off.”
A popular uprising last year plunged the economy into crisis, chasing away tourists and foreign investors and prompting government employees to strike for higher wages.
Mursi was sworn in on Saturday as Egypt’s first Islamist, civilian and freely elected president and will begin working to form a new government in the coming days.
"We intend to approach the IMF again," said Amr Abu-Zeid, development finance adviser to Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood.
"Give him one week or two weeks, so at least he has a cabinet…I believe these issues will not go further until they have a cabinet at least."
The country’s army-backed interim government kept the economy under the cosh since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 through a series of short-term measures.
The ruling military financed a burgeoning budget deficit by borrowing short term from local banks at high interest rates, draining the country’s foreign reserves.
The military council that took power from Mubarak rejected an agreement that Egypt negotiated with the IMF in mid-2011, then resumed talks for a $3.2 billion loan early this year.
The economy contracted by 4.3 percent in the first quarter of 2011 and stagnated in the following three quarters.
IMF loans are often criticized for coming with conditions that determine the country’s economic policies, undermining the power of sovereign governments.
Egyptians are also wary that the IMF could be a new method to constrain Egypt’s new found freedom at the behest of the IMF’s largest contributor, the United States.
Abu-Zeid dismissed the criticism, saying the country’s financial woes meant that they would accept support from all potential sources.
"We will negotiate with the IMF, with the World Bank, with the Islamic Development Bank, with anybody who wants to help. We are very open to this," Abu-Zeid said.
When Israel hates your position, it only confirms it's the right one
You know you are on the right path when Israel denounces you. Ha’aretz attacks al-Akhbar’s supposedly uniform position on Syria and singles out myself and editor-in-chief, Ibrahim al-Amine in this excerpt here:
"But not Al-Akhbar. Sticking to its reactionary, faux-revolutionary politics, the paper has regularly delivered fulsome praise for Assad, portraying him as the last bulwark against Western imperialism. "Supporting Assad’s struggle against this multipronged assault," Lebanese political analyst Amal Saad-Ghorayeb wrote in the paper on June 12, "is supporting Palestine today because Syria has become the new front line of the war between Empire and those resisting it." Last week Amine wrote an article entitled, "Things Assad Can Do," whose suggestions notably did not include, "Stop Killing People," but which did feature a defense of Bashar continuing his tenure as president. In April, another contributor published a long piece ridiculing Western journalists, including the wounded Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy and his murdered colleague Marie Colvin, for their "feast at the trough of their own governments’ narratives on All Things."
Full article is subscription only so I am reproducing here:
In December 2010, the New York Times’ Robert F. Worth wrote an article about the newspaper Al-Akhbar, “the most dynamic and daring in Lebanon, and perhaps anywhere in the Arab world.” The paper, whose offices evince “more of the feel of a college newspaper than a major daily,” carries a “youthful energy and conviction.” Worth favorably contrasted Al-Akhbar’s crusading spirit to what passes for journalism in much of the Middle East, a “region where the news media are still full of obsequious propaganda.”
Lebanon has suffered civil war, sectarian violence, and was for many years a satrapy of its neighbor Syria. Surely then, given Worth’s effusive praise, Al-Akhbar is courageously standing up to the Levant’s bullies, namely the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Baathist government of Syria, and their shared puppet army in Lebanon, Hezbollah?
Hardly. In an interview with Worth, Al-Akhbar editorial chairman Ibrahim al-Amine described the paper’s mission thusly: “We wanted the U.S. ambassador to wake up in the morning, read it and get upset.” This attitude is encapsulated in the portrait of Imad Mughniyeh, the late Hezbollah intelligence chief, that Worth observed hanging in Amine’s office. Mughniyeh, indicted in Argentina for the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy there, and complicit in countless other terrorist attacks, is “our Che,” Amine told Worth.
Nothing has made Al-Akhbar’s authoritarian political sympathies clearer than its position on the Syrian uprising, which has now entered its 15th bloody month. The slaughter reached its height when the regime murdered over 80 women and children in the city of Houla a month ago, a massacre that belatedly led Western capitals to recall their ambassadors. President Bashar Assad has spared no cruelty in attempting to put down the rebellion. According to Radwan Ziadeh, a native Syrian and fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, “The regime makes it a habit to arrest family members and hold them hostage in exchange for wanted persons.” Honest Lebanese journalists, even some who sympathize with Hezbollah, have condemned Assad, who has demonstrated that he will stop at nothing to stay in power.
But not Al-Akhbar. Sticking to its reactionary, faux-revolutionary politics, the paper has regularly delivered fulsome praise for Assad, portraying him as the last bulwark against Western imperialism. “Supporting Assad’s struggle against this multipronged assault,” Lebanese political analyst Amal Saad-Ghorayeb wrote in the paper on June 12, “is supporting Palestine today because Syria has become the new front line of the war between Empire and those resisting it.” Last week Amine wrote an article entitled, “Things Assad Can Do,” whose suggestions notably did not include, “Stop Killing People,” but which did feature a defense of Bashar continuing his tenure as president. In April, another contributor published a long piece ridiculing Western journalists, including the wounded Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy and his murdered colleague Marie Colvin, for their “feast at the trough of their own governments’ narratives on All Things.”
None of this should come as a surprise to anyone remotely familiar with Al-Akhbar’s politics, as Worth certainly was when he wrote his story just a year and a half ago. As a paper that “operates under the tacit protection ofHezbollah, Lebanon’s most potent military force,” there was little doubt that Al-Akhbar would rise to the defense of Assad, who guarantees Hezbollah’s power through money, intelligence and by allowing his territory to serve as a conduit for weapons from Iran. Rather than portray Al-Akhbar as serving the interests of two powerful and ruthless regimes, however, Worth depicted it as an underdog whose product is “refreshingly free of the slavish headlines that are so common across the Middle East.” Worth lauded Al-Akhbar for not having “a sectarian ax to grind,” which is laughable considering that Assad’s entire defense of his reign is predicated upon the sectarian argument that his minority Alawite clan can only survive if he remains firmly in power.
Like so many other Western journalists who venture to the Middle East, Worth was swayed by the rhetoric of “resistance” to supposed American and Zionist imperialism. “Our project is basically anti-imperialism,” Khaled Saghieh, the paper’s “mild and cerebral managing editor,” told Worth, who didn’t appear to recognize the hypocrisy in such sentiments being expressed by a backer of a regime that occupied Lebanon for three decades. Likewise, Worth writes that the paper “champions gay rights, feminism and other leftist causes, even as it wholeheartedly supports Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite movement.” A fair-minded reporter, and not a gullible stenographer, would have written more skeptically about a newspaper that claims to “champion gay rights” and “feminism” while serving as propaganda outlet for the Party of God.
At the end of his 2010 article, Worth recounted a conversation with Amine, in which the paper’s editorial chairman reels off his “fondest hopes,” a list culminating with the desire, in Worth’s words, to “remove Israel from the map and send the Jews back to Europe - they would be more comfortable, after all, in a capitalist environment.” This cold call for ethnic cleansing, replete with a medieval characterization of avaricious Jewry, did not faze the swooning New York Times scribe. Even Vogue, which published an infamous profile of Syria’s first lady last year, was shamed into apologizing for its fawning coverage and went so far as to remove the article from its website. Perhaps now, some 15,000 dead Syrians later, Robert Worth will revise his original assessment.
James Kirchick is a fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributing editor for The NewRepublic.
One of the more outlandish “findings” of the UN investigation into human rights violations in Syria, the "Oral Update of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic” reads:
40. Accounts collected from those who told the CoI they were among the first to arrive at the scene described the use of sharp objects in the killing of the Abdulrazzak family. Multiple interviewees described stab wounds and the apparent use of axes or similar (satour). One person early on the scene described to the CoI a bloody knife allegedly found in one house. Another described multiple knives found, one knife bearing the inscription “We will sacrifice ourselves for you Hussein” - which is a Shia slogan. The CoI viewed a video of a knife with such an inscription, although it could not verify its authenticity. Other witnesses stated that all victims had been shot, apart from those killed in the shelling. Video and documentary evidence available to the CoI was inconclusive on this point.
This absurd claim is reminiscent of the Guardian’s story here which quotes an eye- witness as saying that one of the killers shouted "We took revenge for you, Imam Ali". So basically, the shabiha are so intent on incriminating their regime in sectarian violence that they brazenly flaunt their religious identity not only verbally, but by leaving valuable bits of evidence behind like knives with religious/sectarian inscriptions on them. I am actually disappointed that nobody reported seeing shabihas with the words “I am an Alawite and I love killing Sunnis” emblazoned on their foreheads. It is really quite mind-boggling that UN investigators would even entertain such implausible claims. I mean, if Palestinian eye-witnesses had claimed IDF soldiers loudly exclaimed “This one’s for you Moses”, or left behind sharp tools engraved with the same words, would they really count this as evidence? I highly doubt it.
As i pointed out in my blog post on the Guardian story, these types of accusations are unapologetically Orientalist. In the first place, Imam Ali is simply not invoked in the context of retributive justice, and second, the only Shi’ite Imam whose name is inscribed on a sharp weapon of any kind is Imam Ali’s sword as seen on Zulfiqar replicas—not Imam Hussein’s. Moreover, the phrase “We will sacrifice ourselves for you Hussein” is not exclusive to Shi’ites, Arabs regularly pledge “We will sacrifice ourselves for you” to their leaders.
Those responsible for fabricating evidence for the Houla massacre investigation really need to be more diligent in their research from now on, and to bear in mind that Shi’ism is a sect, not a sacrificial cult. And more importantly, that in general, killers don’t leave clues behind about their identity.
Nothing beats reading about the inevitability of Israel’s demise in western liberal media. excerpts from a commentary in the Huff Po: "Israel’s fateful hour is approaching. The chances of Israel existing by mid-century are no more than TWENTY PERCENT if its governments continue to pursue the settlement project. Harkabi, former head of Israeli military intelligence and a longtime professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, called attention to what he termed Israel’s march toward “national suicide,” the inevitable result in his view of Israel’s settlement project as pushed by Israel’s Likud Party, then and now in power.The alternative was to withdraw from the occupied territories, back to the 1967 borders, not necessarily for the sake of the Palestinians but in order to guarantee the ongoing existence of Israel. Otherwise, the prospect of Israel’s survival would be undermined by two factors, the demographic factor and the threat of civil war among Israelis. Israel would, if it continued to expand its settlement project, rule over an Arab population that outnumbered its Jewish citizenry. And, if settlements progressed as he foresaw, the settler zealot mentality and belief in the right of Israel to control Judea and Samaria would lead to clashes among Jews that could tear Israel apart. The demographic prediction has come true. The Palestinian Arab populations of the West Bank and Israel are now projected to outnumber Jews by 2016; if Gaza is included, Arabs already outnumber Jews. Shimon Peres was warning of the threat of civil war in Israel in 1995, in the aftermath of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Added to these threats is the spread of lethal weaponry that can easily reach Israel’s cities possessed by non-state actors as well as states, a trend that will increase.”
Geneva talks should not set Syria govt makeup-Russia
MOSCOW, June 28 (Reuters) - Multilateral talks on U.N. envoy Kofi Annan’s Syrian mediation plan should seek to secure a ceasefire but not determine in advance the shape of a possible government of national unity, Russia said on Thursday.
"The meeting in Geneva was intended to support Kofi Annan’s plan and it must set the conditions for the end of violence and the start of an all-Syrian national dialogue, and not predetermine the contents of this dialogue," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a briefing.
Lavrov is expected to discuss Annan’s proposal, aimed at ending the 16-month conflict in Syria, with the other four permanent U.N. Security Council members and key players in the Middle East in Geneva on Saturday.
Russia and other big powers have told Annan that they support his idea of a Syrian national unity cabinet that could include government and opposition members but would exclude those whose participation would undermine it.
The idea of excluding certain people was seen by diplomats as referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, although Annan’s proposal did not explicitly say the Syrian leader could not serve in a national unity government.
Moscow has backed Annan’s peace plan, insisting it is the only way to end the bloodshed in Syria and arguing firmly against any kind of military intervention.
Speaking in Moscow, Lavrov said that the Annan plan was not, however, a final document and he expressed dismay that it had been leaked to the media ahead of the Geneva talks.
Lavrov reiterated Russian warnings against a Libyan-style intervention in Syria, warning the consequences would be “more catastrophic”.
He also criticised the exclusion of regional power Iran from the negotiations. Annan has said that Iran should attend the Geneva talks but diplomats say that the United States, Saudi Arabia and other countries objected. (Reporting By Nastassia Astrasheuskaya; Writing by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Jon Boyle)
Massacre not "horrible" enough for Human Rights Watch representative
So Nadim Houry, Human Rights Watch’s deputy director of its Middle East and North Africa division, “condemns” the rebel massacre of al-Ikhbariya news staff here. However, the HRW representative refrained from calling it “horrible” or any other term that would express his moral outrage, as such terminology is strictly reserved for anti-imperialists and anti-Zionists like myself, as this example illustrates. And where are all those western liberals who were morally horrified by my “disgusting” , “sick” , “appalling” piece, now? I guess the massacre of government affiliated television staff isn’t a compelling enough narrative for assuaging their white liberal consciences.
Is this dude for real? How can anyone read this and not feel nauseous? Earlier he called Syria’s defense of its airspace a “heinous attack” adding “This latest development shows that the Assad regime has become a clear and imminent threat to the security of Turkey…”. Of course, because according to imperialist-Zionist logic, any country which shoots down enemy reconnaissance jets violating its airspace and sovereignty is in fact threatening the security of the offending state which seeks to invade it. Indeed, states which defend themselves from aggressors are “warmongers”:
“We will not fall into the trap of warmongers, but we will not stay silent in the face of an attack made against our plane in international airspace.” Turkey’s “wrath is fierce and intense when it needs to be,” he added.
And then this highly imaginative rant:
“Our rational response should not be perceived as weakness, our mild manners do not mean we are a tame lamb. Everybody should know that Turkey’s wrath is just as strong and devastating as its friendship is valuable.”
(AP) — Gunmen raided the headquarters of a pro-government Syrian TV station early Wednesday, demolishing the building and killing three employees, the state media reported. Officials denounced what they called a rebel “massacre against the freedom of the press.”
SANA added that the attack on Ikhbariya TV occurred in the town of Drousha, about 20 kilometers (14 miles) south of the capital Damascus. Hours after the attack, the station was still on the air broadcasting its programs.
Ikhbariya is privately-owned but strongly supports President Bashar Assad's regime. Pro-government journalists have been targeted on several previous occasions during the 15-month uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime, although such incidents are comparatively rare.
Earlier this month, two Ikhbariya employees were shot and seriously wounded by gunmen in the northwestern town of Haffa while covering clashes between government troops and insurgents.
Rebels deny they target the media. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the raid and the deaths of several employees, but had no other information.
Information Minister Omran al-Zoebi told reporters outside the station that gunmen stormed the compound, placed explosives and then detonated them.
"What happened today is a massacre, a massacre against the freedom of the press," al-Zoebi said in comments broadcast on state-run Syrian TV. “They carried out a terrifying massacre by executing the employees.”
An employee at the station said several other employees were wounded in the attack and other guards were kidnapped when the gunmen attacked just before 4 a.m. local time.
The employee, who did not give his name for fear of repercussions, said the gunmen drove him about 200 meters (yards) away, and then he heard the explosion of the station being demolished. “I was terrified when they blindfolded me and took me away,” the man said by telephone.
State-run Syrian TV showed a demolished structure without a ceiling, saying it was the station’s main studio. It also showed what it said were tapes on fire amid piles of debris.
No, it isn’t surprising that an-Nahda has agreed to extradite former Libyan Prime Minister, Baghdadi Mahmoudi, to Libyan authorities, aka, “rats”. What else does one expect from the new Amerikan Islam? This article may be a few months old but it puts things in context: "A statement made by Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the Tunisian political party al-Nahda, to Voice of Israel radio at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, has caused a media uproar in Tunisia that is still ongoing. This has occurred at a time when many political parties, associations, and non-governmental organizations are demanding that the new Tunisian constitution include a section clearly criminalizing normalization with Israel….Ghannouchi had already told a US magazine, The Weekly Standard, that the new Tunisian constitution will not entail a clause that condemns Israel. He even assured the magazine that the document signed by several parties and associations – as well as political, civil society, and civil rights figures – is a meaningless document….He also made a statement calling for closure the Syrian Embassy in Tunisia and expelling the ambassador. While in Washington he also said that Saudi Arabia is “threatened” by the revolutions of the Arab Spring.”
Declassified Pentagon papers reveal why Hafez al-Assad intervened in Lebanon in 1976
While it is hard to morally justify Hafez al-Assad’s intervention in Lebanon in 1976 on the side of right-wing Christian militias, it is important to understand his reasons for soing so at the time were not to serve Israeli interests.
The explanation is found in this classified Pentagon document Donald Rumsfeld recently released and published in Akhbar Arabic here:
"He is, in sum, a prudent and careful, but tough, practitioner of statecraft.
Several military factors have operated to reinforce his natural tendencies and cause him to opt for a course or action which seems antipathetic to the image of revolutionary Ba’athist Syria…
Given the hostility of his eastern neighbor, Asad is loath to see emerge on his western flank a radical leftist- and Palestinian dominated Lebanon, almost certainly unamenable to his direction. Furthermore, a radical Lebanon could drag Asad into a war with Israel at a time, place, and in circumstances not of his own choosing.
Moreover, a radicalized Lebanon would be a military liability as a confrontation state with Israel. Lebanon may never be able to field a credible military force against Israel and certainly could not do so for Lebanese-Israeli border, a mission for which they are clearly inadequate, or to present Israel with a virtually undefended corridor through which the IDF could outflank his forces on the Golan Heights.
Syria’s disinclination to have a radical Lebanon on its flank is a continuation of its traditionally rigid control of Palestinians in Syria. While it is extremely wary of the more radical “rejectionist” fedayeen groups, Syria clearly does not trust even the “establishment” PLO, which is—an undisciplined and shifting alliance often, as now, in disarray and impossible to regulate.”