Archive for July, 2012

Olympics of greed and fear

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

If the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing were all about a debutante making a strong and confident entrance on the world stage, then the 2012 London Olympics will have to be compared to a very old hag putting on excessive makeup to try and conjure up one last trick for the passing punter before she fades away into the night permanently.

I hasten to add that this harsh view isn’t my own, but rather what I could distil from reading the number of other articles including by other columnists at Asia Times Online. Yes Father Sisci, that includes you. (See Beijing sets the bar for Olympian effort, Asia Times Online, July 11, 2012.)

Four years ago, there was a fair amount of optimism and an air of expectation with respect to Beijing (see Anatomy of an Olympic winner, Asia Times Online, August 8, 2008). Trepidation if any

was limited to issues such as the quality of drinking water and the potential for elite athletes to suffer from accidental drug exposure from the consumption of unsafe animal products. All that though pales into comparison compared to the amount of fear being whipped up as we seem to have a global media that’s braced for disaster on the following counts:
a. Inadequate infrastructure
b. Strikes and stoppage threats
c. Poor weather
d. Potential for acts of violence

Let us look into these fears individually.

Will the infrastructure cope?
The first major question appears to concern London’s ability to actually stage the games given the woeful state of its infrastructure. I think the complaint is overall a fair cop, having been in both Beijing and London ahead of the respective Games. Then again, the English have managed to prioritize traffic flows in one of the busiest cities of the world for the Olympics, much as this has been widely resented by the (taxpaying) public. Especially notorious are the “Zil lanes” meant for Olympic officials, that have been widely panned as evocative of Soviet-era prioritization of Communist officials over the Proletariat. I wrote a long time ago about the London underground rail network and won’t revisit the topic; hopefully I will not have to revisit the tube ever again either.

The inadequacy of Western infrastructure though is a broader topic that goes to the root of their declining productivity and in many cases, relevance to the global economy. The Asian experience in building infrastructure (see Asia’s permanent advantage, Asia Times Online, February 27, 2010) cannot be replicated easily in the West through ordinary budgetary experiences – instead it would take special events such as the Olympics to galvanize the infrastructure of declining cities. Whether the English have actually managed to spend their money wisely is a matter of some debate, and we will not know the answer to the questions until well after the Games.

Will strikes disrupt the Games?
The second major worry is social as much as it is political. The fact that British society is broken socially was clearly on display a year ago when riots broke out around the capital (see London riots reduce the lies of the left to ashes, Aug 16, 2011) as youth spilled out on the streets despite decades of mollycoddling by an indulgent state. Those worries persist, but to them we must add the likelihood of train drivers going on strike, roads being blocked by striking hospital workers and all the other jetsam from the unaddressed aspects of the financial crisis.

Of the major worries, I would rate this one as sufficiently uncontrollable enough to be a problem should it fructify over the fortnight of the Games. We already have news of striking workers at the main airports, as well as those manning certain key infrastructure roles. Such folks would obviously try to maximize their bottleneck potential at the most opportune time, eg during the Games, with the fervent hope that an unpopular government may come to any round of accommodation to avoid further public opprobrium. The fact the leader of the opposition Labour party appears to have weighed in on the side of Union bosses only adds fuel to this fire.

What about English weather?
There is a rich tradition of joking about the English weather, with my favourite being: “Of course we have summer in England. Why, last year it was on a Wednesday”.

Truth be told though, one could hardly fault the country for their weather but then again, it would have been remiss for the organizers of the Olympics to have missed that minor little detail when deciding where to stage the games in such a manner that at least one could be assured of enough clear days to finish the rather tight schedules. The point is to see whether the organizers have prepared enough alternatives in case of weather disruptions in particular locations or for certain sports that may fall afoul of the weather patterns.

Or you could do what a dear friend of mine has done, which is to only purchase tickets for Olympic events that involve water: rowing, sailing and so on. After all, he reasoned, the rain shouldn’t affect those sports all that much. I didn’t exactly break it to him that outdoor water sports are likely the worst affected by rain; to each their own.

What about terrorism?
There is something about big events that inevitably raises the spectre of violence. Reacting after the horrific shooting in Aurora (near Denver, Colorado) cinema ahead of the new Batmanfilm, the critic Roger Ebert wrote:

I’m not sure there is an easy link between movies and gun violence. I think the link is between the violence and the publicity. Those like James Holmes, who feel the need to arm themselves, may also feel a deep, inchoate insecurity and a need for validation. Whenever a tragedy like this takes place, it is assigned catchphrases and theme music, and the same fragmentary TV footage of the shooter is cycled again and again. Somewhere in the night, among those watching, will be another angry, aggrieved loner who is uncoiling toward action.

I don’t usually agree with the likes of Roger Ebert on most things, but in this case I believe he does have a point. When you boil it all down, the Olympics offer an unparalleled stage for loonies to vent their frustrations; societies that do not have the ability to control violence in a movie hall shouldn’t be sitting around worrying about violence in a global television festival.

I simply don’t have an answer to the fears about terrorism. Like most folks used to traveling regularly through airports and visiting a number of cities around the world, the subject of security is simply another one of daily difficulties to overcome.

So what’s the real bugbear?
When one removes all the logical sources of fear, as above, we are then left to confront greed as the primary motivation for the media whipping up all kinds of concerns ahead of the Olympics. Let me clarify – I don’t mean that the media are greedy, rather that they are reacting in a whiplash fashion to the perceived corporate greed surrounding the Olympics.

Last week, one media outlet published the “news” that the ordering of a English staple bar food – “chips” or what the rest of us would call French Fries – was banned at all Olympic venues except McDonald’s restaurants; the only exception being the ordering of that other English staple, fish and chips. This caused a lot of agony amongst bloggers who plain forgot that the restrictions applied to Olympic venues only; and that the menu of all the food outlets in these venues had been prescribed many months ago.

Others opined that the purveyors of fast food, generally regarded as unhealthy, should never have been allowed to sponsor the Games. That is a fair point, but it does raise two subsidiary issues: firstly the fact that foods being served are entirely legal and secondly that sponsorship money goes a long way for organizers to defray the cost of Games. If on the other hand someone wanted to stage an Olympics such as the “original” ones in Greece many millennia ago, well then the taxpayers would have to foot a pretty fancy bill.

All those rationalizations to one side, it is obvious that the media are playing to the zeitgeist particularly in Europe that has gone “off” capitalism and in particular large companies and banks. Thus it is that whatever other records are broken in London, the Games may well be remembered as the “Greed and Fear Games” for decades to come.

(Copyright 2012 Tiger Asia)

Wounded Syrian regime fights back

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

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The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may be mortally wounded, but its rule is not yet over. This is the grim message reinforced by armored columns rolling into the major cities, and of relentless air and artillery strikes on the capital Damascus and the commercial heart of the country, the northern city Aleppo.

Assad tried to stick to the narrative that national unity could be salvaged by appointing three Sunni Muslims, all of them his hardline supporters, to fill in for the security chiefs who were assassinated last week.

“The notorious Rustum Ghazali, who ruled Lebanon with an iron fist, is among them,” the prominent Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, Joshua Landis, wrote in his blog. “This is an effort to keep the Sunni-Alawi alliance alive. Baathist rule has been built on the Sunni-Alawi alliance, which has all but collapsed since the

beginning of the uprising. The defections of high level Sunnis recently underscores that it is moribund.”

The influential American-based intelligence analysis organization Stratfor concurs with the conclusion that despite all his efforts, Assad’s days are numbered. “We have argued that so long as the military and security apparatus remain intact and effective, the regime could endure,” Stratfor wrote in a recent analysis. “Although they continue to function, neither appears intact any longer; their control of key areas such as Damascus and Aleppo is in doubt, and the reliability of their personnel, given defections, is no longer certain … The regime has not unraveled, but it is unraveling”. [1]

Nor does the option of Assad retreating to some sort of an Alawite “rump state” seem particularly viable. Some commentators have suggested that such a state could center around the Western port city of Latakia, a traditional Alawite stronghold (to see a map of the Syrian conflict, click here). A recent report in Abu Dhabi’s The National, for example, argues that an accompanying process of brutal identity-based cleansing may already have started.

“Recent attacks, such as the massacre on July 12 in the village of Tremseh, appeared calculated to push Sunnis in western Syria out of their traditional homes and east, away from potential Alawite strongholds,” the newspaper writes. “The theory runs that the Assad regime plans to push fearful Sunnis out of the areas west of Homs and Hama, which both remain Sunni-majority cities.” [2]

However, the long-term sustainability of such a state is almost as questionable as the methods that may be implemented to usher it in. As Joshua Landis writes in a separate blog post,

Most importantly, an Alawite state is indefensible. Alawite shabiha (thugs) and brigades of special forces may fall back to the Alawite Mountains when Damascus is lost. But how long could they last? As soon as Syria’s Sunni militias unite, as presumably they will, they would make hasty work of any remaining Alawite resistance. Whoever owns Damascus and the central state will own the rest of Syria in short order. They will have the money, they will have legitimacy, and they will have international support. Syria could not survive without the coast. More importantly, it would not accept to do without the coast and the port cities of Tartus and Latakia. All the coastal cities remain majority Sunni to this day.

[3]

For now, nevertheless, Assad seems to have shored up his security apparatus, badly damaged after the urban offensive of the rebels and the high-profile terror attack in Damascus last week. According to most reports, his forces have largely “secured” the capital (where a large but unknown number of bodies have piled up) and are preparing for a decisive offensive in Aleppo. The use of both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft has picked up significantly, and fighter planes are allegedly employed heavily in the government counter-offensive.

Comparisons with Libya are unavoidable even when diplomats seek to distance themselves from them. On Thursday, United States Department of State spokeswoman Victoria Nuland expressed concern during a press conference that “we will see a massacre in Aleppo, and that’s what the regime appears to be lining up for”.

She rejected references to the situation in the Libyan city of Benghazi just prior to the aerial campaign against former Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, saying that “There are a vast number of differences,” yet her words suggested that the differences pertain more to Assad’s military strength and foreign backers, as well as to the lack of unity among the opposition, than to the American desire for action. [4]

There are signs of a new initiative to unite the Syrian rebels. It is spearheaded by General Manaf Tlass, dubbed “Syria’s most prominent defector,” who abandoned Assad several weeks ago. Tlass is the scion of a prominent Sunni Muslim family in Syria which until recently was a key pillar of support for the regime. His hands, however, are clean in the current bloodshed, and despite lingering suspicions against him on the part of the opposition, he is seen as its potential leader – perhaps even somebody who could step in for Assad under a hypothetical internationally-backed deal.

“I will try to help as much as I can to unite all the honorable people inside and outside Syria to put together a roadmap to get us out of this crisis, whether there is a role for me or not,” Tlass told the newspaper Asharq Alawsat on Thursday during a visit in Saudi Arabia. His itinerary also reportedly includes Turkey, suggesting that he is trying to secure the backing of the Syrian opposition’s key regional sponsors.

In any case, however, neither rebel unity nor a foreign intervention in Syria appear to be imminent, whereas the decline in rebel momentum could mirror the failed opposition offensive in the city of Homs earlier this year, when speculations that Assad was finished proved similarly premature.

Meanwhile, the Syrian regime seems to be implementing a lesson or two of its own from the Libyan case. Whether or not it was involved in any of the recent terror attacks in Bulgaria and elsewhere – Gaddafi also had threatened Europe with terror – Assad appears ready to take the fight into his enemies’ territory, for example by allowing greater Kurdish autonomy in Syria as a way of destabilizing Turkey.

In the last days, the Syrian army reportedly withdrew from at least six Kurdish towns, where a coalition of Kurdish (mostly political) forces took over. The Syrian Kurds are split among themselves, and have allegedly vowed to stay neutral in the civil war, but at least some of them are allied with Assad and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) which is responsible for much of the terror activity in Turkey. The situation in which the PKK would have a base to operate freely in Syria is unpalatable to the Turkish leaders, and mirrors Ankara’s treatment of Assad.

The Turkish attempts in the last months to lure the Kurds by cultivating a close relationship with Iraq’s Kurdish leadership may not work well in Syria, where the regime has enjoyed a long relationship with the PKK. As a Kurdish politician told the web site Rudaw.net, “The areas where these Kurdish factions have raised their flags are those Bashar al-Assad gave to them.” [5]

Reportedly, Western attempts to oust Assad are running aground also on account of deficient intelligence-gathering operations. “Interviews with US and foreign intelligence officials revealed that the CIA has been unable to establish a presence in Syria, in contrast with the agency’s prominent role gathering intelligence from inside Egypt and Libya during revolts in those countries,” the Washington Post wrote on Tuesday. “With no CIA operatives on the ground in Syria and only a handful stationed at key border posts, the agency has been heavily dependent on its counterparts in Jordan and Turkey and on other regional allies.” [6]

If the report is accurate, this would be a new illustration of the saying that the US is playing poker in the Middle East, while its enemies play chess.

It is believed that Russia has the most extensive intelligence network in Syria, greater even than that of Iran. It would be the most likely culprit for a palace coup – as one scenario has it – as well as the best potential broker for a deal for Assad’s voluntary ouster. As a Russian diplomat hinted last week, Russia may not be opposed to such a deal. [7] It is important to pay close attention to Russia’s dealings with the Syrian opposition, as well as with figures such as Manaf Tlass.

However, even Russia would presumably need broad support in order to help usher in a political transition in Syria, and a consensus seems unlikely in the immediate future. On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the US of “direct endorsement of terrorism” [8] in the most recent episode in a series of heated exchanges.

It appears, therefore, that conditions are ripe for the Assad regime to hang on to power for a while longer, and for the violence to continue to escalate.

Notes:
1. Consequences of the Fall of the Syrian Regime, , Stratfor, July 24, 2012
2. Assads’ family rule makes an Alawite state impossible, The National, July 24, 2012
3. Five Reasons Why There Will Not Be an Alawite State, Syria Comment, July 21, 2012
4. US fears Syria planning massacre in Aleppo, al-Jazeera, July 27, 2012.
5. Kurdish Liberation Movement in Syria Continues Despite Criticism, Rudaw, July 26, 2012.
6. In Syria conflict, U.S. struggles to fill intelligence gaps, Washington Post, July 24, 2012.
7. Syria: Russian diplomat claims Assad ‘ready to give up power’, The Daily Telegraph, July 20, 2012.
8. US position on Syria directly endorses terrorism – Lavrov, Russia Today, July 25, 2012.

“Sports are meant for peace, not for racism”

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

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PA against moment of silence at Olympics:
“Sports are meant for peace, not for racism”

Palestinian Media Watch, July 26, 2012

by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

The Palestinian Authority is against the moment of silence at the Olympics to commemorate the Israeli athletes murdered at the Munich Olympics in 1972. According to the headline in the official PA daily, “Sports are meant for peace, not for racism.”

According to Jibril Rajoub, President of the Palestinian Olympic Committee:
“Sports are a bridge to love, interconnection, and spreading of peace among nations; it must not be a cause of division and spreading of racism between them [nations].”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 25, 2012]

These words appeared in a letter sent by Rajoub to the President of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge. The letter “expressed appreciation for [Rogge’s] position, who opposed the Israeli position, which demanded a moment’s silence at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London.”

The PA daily does not refer to the murder of the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972 as terror. In the article about Rajoub’s letter, the killing of the athletes is referred to as “the Munich Operation, which took place during the Munich Olympics in 1972.”

The PA is against the moment of silence because they view the murder of Israelis by Palestinians not as terror but as heroism. Palestinian Media Watch has documented the PA’s ongoing policy to glorify terror and terrorists. The murder of the 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics is presented as a highlight of Palestinian “operations” and one of their great accomplishments. In 2010, the official PA daily referred to the Olympic massacre as a “shining station” and its planner was called a “star who sparkled… at the sports stadium in Munich” (see below for full texts of the PA glorifying the terror attack at the Olympics and the terrorists who planned it).

In his letter, PA Olympics Committee Head Rajoub praised Rogge’s refusal to have a moment of silence in memory of the Israeli athletes:
“He said that his [Rogge’s] position not to politicize sports, and his determination to implement the International Olympic Charter represents a victory for freedom in sports.” (See the full article about Rajoub’s letter below.)
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 25, 2012]

The following are examples of how PA leaders and the PA’s official newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida have glorified the Olympic massacre and the terrorists who planned it:

Honoring Amin Al-Hindi, planner of the Olympic attack:
“One of the stars who sparkled… one of many shining stations.”

Official PA daily on Al-Hindi:
“Everyone knows that Amin Al-Hindi was one of the stars who sparkled at one of the stormiest points on the international level – the operation that was carried out at the [Olympics] sports stadium in Munich, Germany, in 1972. That was just one of many shining stations.”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 20,2010]

Secretary General of the Abbas’ office, Al-Tayeb Abd Al-Rahim on Al-Hindi:
“Secretary General of the President’s office, Al-Tayeb Abd Al-Rahim, delivered a speech in which he praised the qualities of the deceased. He stressed that the loss of Al-Hindi is a great loss to the Palestinian people, who are bereaved of a prominent national leader…
The Secretary General of the Presidential office said: ‘We shall continue in the path of the Shahid (Martyr) Yasser Arafat and his fellow Shahids, such as Amin Al-Hindi…'”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 19, 2010]

Abbas and Fayyad honor Al-Hindi:
“The Palestinian leadership, along with President Mahmoud Abbas, parted yesterday from the body of the Fatah leader and fighter patriot Amin Al-Hindi. This was at an imposing official military funeral that was held at the [PA] headquarters…
Present at the headquarters for the farewell ceremony and for the official military funeral, along with the President [Abbas], were Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad; Secretary General of the Presidential office, Al-Tayeb Abd Al-Rahim; members of the PLO Executive Council and of the Fatah Central Committee; several ministers, commanders of security forces, senior civic and military personnel, as well as relatives of the deceased… President Abbas and the participants at the funeral cast a final parting look at the body, and laid wreaths. Afterwards, the President and those present read the opening sura [of the Quran] for the elevation of his pure soul.”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 19, 2010]

Honoring Muhammad Daoud Oudeh, ‘Abu Daoud,’ a second planner of the Olympic attack:
“His name shined brightly in the German city of Munich”

PA TV News, on Oudeh:
“Palestinians were surprised this morning at the announcement of the death of one of the most important leaders of the Palestinian revolution, Muhammad Daoud Oudeh (Abu Daoud), who engineered the Munich Operation and was one of the most important of Israel’s most wanted in the 1970s.”
[PA TV (Fatah), July 4, 2010]

Official PA daily, on Oudeh:
“In its [Black September wing of PLO] ranks were many distinguished men and women, headed by the Panther of Palestine, Salah Khalaf ‘Abu Iyad.’ Abu Daoud was one of his prominent assistants. His [Abu Daoud’s] name shined brightly in the German city of Munich in 1972, where the Olympics took place. Oh, how these events evolved into a violent drama of the most tragic kind… May Allah have mercy on this great Fatah fighter and patriot, Abu Daoud.”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 6, 2010]

Mahmoud Abbas on Oudeh:
“What a wonderful brother, companion, tough and stubborn, relentless fighter.”

“President Mahmoud Abbas sent a telegram of condolences yesterday over the death of the great fighter Muhammad Daoud Oudeh, ‘Abu Daoud,’ who died just before reaching 70. The telegram of condolences read: ‘The deceased was one of the prominent leaders of the Fatah movement and lived a life filled with the struggle, devoted effort, and the enormous sacrifice of the deceased for the sake of the legitimate problem of his people, in many spheres. He was at the forefront on every battlefield, with the aim of defending the [Palestinian] revolution. What a wonderful brother, companion, tough and stubborn, relentless fighter.”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 4, 2010]

Abbas Zaki, member Fatah Central Committee, on Oudeh:
“He started his life as a regular individual and concluded it with giant stature… We have lost a man on the level of the Arab region and on the level of the world revolutionary movement, by virtue of his noble actions and his glorious history. Bestowing this honor in every place, inside the homeland and outside of it, does justice to this mighty man.”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 5, 2010]

Dr. Samir Al-Refa’I, Secretary of the Fatah branch in Syria, on Oudeh:
“With the fall of Abu Daoud as a Shahid we have lost a man who is worth all other men together… Abu Daoud is one of the symbols of the Fatah movement… He will always remain our ideal and a role model for the generations to come.”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 5, 2010]

The following is the article about Jibril Rajoub’s letter of appreciation to the president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge:

Headline: “Rajoub expresses appreciation for Rogge’s position and emphasizes that sports are meant for peace, not for racism”

“‘Sports are a bridge to love, interconnection, and spreading peace among nations; it must not be a cause of division and spreading of racism between them.’ With these words the President of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, Jibril Rajoub, began a special letter which he sent to president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge. He expressed appreciation for [Rogge’s] position, who opposed the Israeli position, which demanded a moment’s silence at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London. He said that his position not to politicize sports, and his determination to implement the International Olympic Charter represents a victory for freedom in sports. It should be noted that Rogge once again expressed the position of the executive office of the International Olympic Committee, which opposes the idea of holding a moment’s silence during the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, to mark the anniversary of the Munich operation, which took place during the Munich Olympics in 1972.”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 25, 2012]

 

@ המוסד Rezim 88 קומו ….!

 

 

Iran to give crushing response to US cyber attacks: Iran official

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

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A senior official of the Iranian Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Cyber Headquarters says Iran will give a crushing response to more cyber attacks from the US against its civilian nuclear facilities.

Iran says it will give a crushing response to new US cyber attacks against its civilian nuclear facilities.

Iran says it will give a crushing response to new US cyber attacks against its civilian nuclear facilities.

The unnamed official made the remarks in reaction to recent rumors about the possibility of more cyber attacks from the US against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

“US officials should prevent such hostile and naive remarks or brace for their consequences,” he warned.

    The official also advised the US statesmen to take Iran’s “threat against threat” doctrine quite seriously because the Islamic Republic has high capacities and will give due response to acts of sedition.

Meanwhile, Iran’s deputy minister for communications and information technology has called on the United Nations to condemn organized cyber attacks against world countries.

The UN and its Communications Commission should take a stance on and condemn the organized cyber attacks, Ali Hakim Javadi, who is also the head of the Information Technology Organization of Iran, said on Wednesday.

Last month, Iran’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Reza Taqipour said Tehran has complained to international organizations about the ‘state cyberterrorism’ against the country.

Taqipour added that cyber attacks on Iran were sponsored by specific governments, and the computer virus Flame, for instance, was mainly sponsored by the Israeli regime and certain Western countries.

In June, a report published in the Washington Post said that the US and Israel have cooperated in creating the computer virus Flame to spy on Iran.

US National Security Agency, the CIA and Israel’s military worked together to create the Flame virus, the American newspaper added.

In addition, the New York Times also revealed last month that US President Barack Obama secretly ordered a cyber attack with the Stuxnet computer virus against Iran to sabotage the country’s nuclear energy program.

“From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyber weapons,” the report said.

 

Foreign militants join armed gangs in Syria: Western media

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

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Western media say a number of foreign militants have joined armed gangs fighting against the Syrian government, while clashes continue between Syrian security forces and rebels.

According to Agance France Presse (AFP) and the CNN, insurgents have entered the Syrian territory from several Arab countries and are now at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey.

The Western news outlets say the foreign militants are mainly from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya and the United Arab Emirates.

Meanwhile, fighting between armed groups and the Syrian army continues, mainly in the northwestern city of Aleppo.

Syrian forces clashed with armed gangs in the southwestern city of Dara’a, about 114 kilometers (70 miles) south of the capital, Damascus, and several nearby villages on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, armed rebels attacked security checkpoints in Aleppo and there were reports of sporadic clashes between Syrian troops and rebels in the western city of Homs.

Separately, UN Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous told reporters in Damascus on Wednesday that about “half the military observers have been for the time being sent back to their countries,” referring to the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS).

On April 21, the UN Security Council voted on Resolution 2043 to establish “for an initial 90-day period, a supervision mission, to be known as UNSMIS, comprising an initial and expeditious deployment of up to 300 unarmed military observers, including an appropriate civilian component and air transportation assets, to monitor a cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties.”

The Security Council unanimously approved a resolution on July 20 that extended the UN observer mission for 30 days.

Ladsous added that the mission “operates on a reduced basis, reduced in numbers, reduced in team size in the provinces and does what it can.”

The new head of the UNSMIS, Senegalese Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye, who replaced Norwegian Major General Robert Mood, also told reporters in the Syrian capital on Wednesday that he was taking over “in a very difficult situation.”

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011 and many people, including large numbers of security forces, have been killed in the turmoil.

 

 

 

 

Israel signs 1st economic agreement with South Sudan

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

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Israel has signed a pact to cooperate on water infrastructure and technology development with South Sudan, the first economic cooperation agreement between Tel Aviv and Juba.

 

The deal between South Sudan and Israel Military Industries Ltd. (IMI) was signed on Monday during a ceremony at the Israeli parliament, Knesset. The ceremony was attended by Israeli Minister of Energy and Water Uzi Landau and South Sudan’s Minister of Water and Irrigation Akec Paul Mayom.

“We see this as a privilege to be the first to sign an agreement with the new state,” Energy Minister Landau addressed the South Sudanese official in a statement. “We will continue to do everything possible in order to assist you. You are among friends,” he added.

    The framework agreement, signed by IMI’s Vice President for Strategy and Marketing Zvika Fox, outlined plans for cooperation on desalination, irrigation, water transport and purification.

“I am very pleased and excited to meet the people of this wonderful state,” Landau said, highlighting what he called “great similarities” between Israelis and South Sudanese people.

    They have both stood up for their existence, and Israel has “much knowledge and much to contribute” to South Sudan, he said.

The Israeli minister also suggested that in the framework of bilateral cooperation the county transfers` its oil to Israeli facilities. “This way we will help you solve various problems in your area,” he said.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July 2011 as part of a 2005 peace treaty, which ended decades of war between the two countries.

The new oil-rich nation is one of the least developed countries in the world, with one in seven children dying before the age of five.

 

Is me Alisto @ המוסד Rezim 88 קומו ….!

India imposes curfew as ethnic violence intensifies in Assam

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

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A curfew has been imposed in some parts of India’s northeastern province of Assam following four days of ethnic violence during which 35 people were killed.

Military reinforcements have been called in and security forces have been ordered to “shoot on sight” in an attempt to quell the unrest, which has forced nearly 170,000 people to flee their homes.

The measure was adopted after fighting between indigenous Bodo tribes and Muslim settlers in Kokrajhar and Chirang districts intensified.

Nine people were killed overnight on Wednesday, according to officials.

A local official in Kokrajhar has described the situation in the area as “very tense.”

Bodo tribes and Muslim settlers have for years been engaged in fighting over territorial disputes in the remote region.

    Unidentified gangs have reportedly exploited the situation by setting houses, schools, and vehicles on fire, and used automatic weapons to shoot people indiscriminately in populated areas, according to the police.

Meanwhile, local news reports indicate fierce criticism of local government officials for inadequate early response to the incidents. Poorly-equipped security forces in the area have also been cited as possible causes of the sporadic outbreak of ethnic violence in Assam over the years.

@ המוסד Rezim 88 קומו ….!

Washington’s plan B for Syria

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

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Replacing independent governments with pro-Western puppets is the US official policy. So is war on Islam.

After Soviet Russia dissolved, Muslims replaced communists as public enemy number one. Since the 1990s, millions have ruthlessly been killed. Many more die daily. Dozens succumb every day in Syria. US-sponsored death squads murder them.

On July 20 or 21st, Ramadan began. It continues for 30 days until August 18. It’s a time for prayer, fasting, reflection, spiritual purification, self-sacrifice, charity, and forgiveness.

    On July 20, Obama hypocritically “extend(ed) warmest wishes to” American and global Muslims. He wished them a “blessed month.” He did it despite official US policy to murder them. It doesn’t stop in deference to Ramadan, Christmas, or any other time of year. He contemptuously expressed support for their determination to achieve “democracy,” “equality,” “justice,” and “universal rights.” He said his administration stands forthrightly with them.

He lied. He’s a serial liar. He’s also a war criminal multiple times over.

America deplores these values at home and abroad. It won’t tolerate them. They’re anathema to the nation’s imperium. It seeks unchallenged global dominance. Ravaging the world one country at a time or in multiples is its policy to achieve it.

Plans to get Security Council authorization for war failed. Russia and China vetoed three resolutions. Vladimir Putin said no to Libya 2.

He denounced efforts to circumvent Security Council authority. He said Russian National Security Council members deplore Western attempts to link ongoing violence to Moscow’s position.

Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov called Washington’s statements “hypocritical.” He added that America subverts efforts to urge opposition leaders to dialogue responsibly with Assad.

He called Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice accusations “absolutely unacceptable.”

Taking aim at Washington and London primarily, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said don’t “be misled by humanitarian discourse by some countries. The policies on Syria are more geopolitical than humanitarian.”

“Unfortunately, the consequences of these policies will make the conflict and bloodshed continuous.”

He indicated that so-called aid is a prelude and pretext for military intervention, adding:

“The US and the UK intervened in Iraq under the most sublime of pretexts, causing (massive numbers of) civilian (deaths), let alone the displaced people inside and outside Iraq.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich warned of serious consequences if Washington circumvents Security Council authority and intervenes directly in Syria’s internal affairs.

He said doing so constitutes “a very very alarming signal.” He rejected US retaliatory threats. He criticized congressional action and Western media denunciations.

Russia’s Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman Aleksey Pushkov called Western nations’ position on Syria political cover to escalate tensions. He rejected calls for unilateral approaches.

He accused Washington and the so-called “Friends of Syria” of “double standards.” On the one hand, they support diplomatic solutions. On the other, they further violence, bloodshed, and resolving Syria’s conflict militarily. Russia stands firmly opposed.

Last week, Washington upped the stakes. Killing Syrian officials at Damascus National Security headquarters on Wednesday was strategically timed.

The attack happened ahead of the latest Western Security Council scheme to authorize military intervention. It failed. At the same time, battles raged in and around Damascus and elsewhere. They failed.

Efforts were made to hijack Syria’s satellite channel frequencies and silence other state run online media. The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) was repeatedly hacked and shut down. On Sunday it was operating. It and other Syrian media remain vulnerable.

So far Western and complicit regional attempts to destabilize, weaken, and perhaps bring down the government failed. Expect continued schemes to topple Assad and his regime.

On July 21, a New York Times editorial headlined “Stymied at UN, US Refines Plan to Remove Assad,” said: Obama officials “abandoned efforts for a diplomatic settlement to the conflict in Syria, and instead it is increasing aid to the rebels and redoubling efforts to rally a coalition of like-minded countries to forcibly bring down the government of President Bashar al-Assad, American officials say.”

Obama officials are meeting with Israeli, Turkish, and Western counterparts. They’re also discussing policy with Syrian opposition leaders. Internal Washington “daily high-level meetings” are held. At issue is Plan B “to help map out a possible post-Assad government.”

“The administration has had regular talks with the Israelis about how Israel might move to destroy Syrian weapons facilities, administration officials said.”

    Washington is directly involved in arming, funding, training, and directing Syrian opposition mercenaries. They’re cutthroat killers. They’re enlisted to commit mass murder. They target pro-Assad civilians and others randomly. Expect stepped up efforts ahead of direct Western and/or regional allies’ intervention.

Unnamed US officials said: “You’ll notice in the last couple of months, the opposition has been strengthened. Now we’re ready to accelerate that.”

Andrew Tabler, a member of the hawkish, pro-Israeli Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), said: “We’re looking at the controlled demolition of the Assad regime.” However, he left unsaid that official Washington policy includes all options. They include full-scale war.

International Crisis Group member Robert Malley warned of “war that never ends.” Syrians won’t tolerate being ruled by elements now fighting them.

Josh Rogin reports on national security, foreign policy, and defense issues. On July 20, his Foreign Policy article headlined “Inside the quiet effort to plan for a post-Assad Syria,” said: “Senior Syrian opposition group representatives are meeting covertly in Germany. The State Department provides funding. For “the last six months,” they’ve been working with so-called US Institute for Peace (USIP) members. They’re planning a post-Assad government.”

USIP is a pro-Western front group. According to the Weekly Standard, Washington supplies millions of dollars. “Since 1985, taxpayers have forked over more than $720 million (inflation adjusted). That has included support for a gleaming new 150,000 square foot office building in the shadow of that other taxpayer-supported institution (allegedly) devoted to peace: the State Department.”

    USIP’s Steven Heydemann heads the initiative. In June, he met with Friends of Syria representatives in Istanbul. The project is called: “The day after: Supporting a democratic transition in Syria.” Heydemann said USIP is “working in a support role with a large group of opposition groups to define a transition process for a post-Assad Syria.”

USIP shortly plans releasing a report. It’s a regime change strategy document. Implementing initial priorities needs to start now, said Heydemann. He disingenuously claims pushing Assad from power isn’t discussed.

“We have very purposely stayed away from contributing to the direct overthrow of the Assad regime,” he said. “Our project is called ‘the day after.’ There are other groups working on the day before.”

Of course, they’re interconnected. As the lyrics to the well-known spiritual “Dem Bones” say, the hip bone is connected to the thigh bone, etc.

USIP board chairman J. Robinson West is a corporate CEO (PFC Energy). President Richard H. Solomon is a former Assistant Secretary of State. Vice chairman of the board George E. Moose is a former Assistant Secretary of State. Other board members include: Judy Van Rest: right-wing International Republican Institute (ISI) executive vice president and Michael H. Posner: Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

Of course, all US administrations deplore these values. They tolerate none of them at home or abroad.

James N. Miller: Obama’s Under Secretary of Defense for Policy

Nancy McEldowney: Interim president of the National Defense University (NDU).

Eric S. Edelman: A retired US Foreign Service Career Minister. He also held senior Defense Department positions.

Judy Ansley: Previously she held various high-level national security and Senate staff positions.

 

 

 

Syrian opposition members support violently overthrowing Assad’s government. In May, free, fair, and open parliamentary elections were held. Ruling party members won most seats. Washington, key NATO partners, and the so-called Friends of Syria don’t recognize them. They represent Syria, not Western interests.

Replacing them with subservient puppets is the policy. USIP was enlisted to help. It’s a wrongly named imperial tool. It supports war, not peace. It’s well paid for furthering Washington’s imperium. Destroying Syria is prioritized.

US culture moulds natural born killers: US scholar

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

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The spate of mass murders and shooting sprees across the US are the outcomes of the American culture not the mere result of a self-motivated action, an American scholar says.

Dr. Eugene Michael Jones criticized the official accounts of shooting rampages in the US, including that of the recent massacre at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, which suggest that such threats are posed by “lone gunmen.”

What these reports do not reveal is that the “American culture creates its own ‘natural born killers’ from the pool of alienated white men in their twenties,” he pointed out.

According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, only in 2012 there have been 22 mass shootings across the US.

    Jones argued that such killing sprees in the American society are “a result of a toxic mixture of feminism, which belittles men in everything from TV commercials to affirmative action programs, video games which teach them how to kill without remorse, pornography, which makes it impossible to relate to members of the opposite sex, and Jewish comic book superheroes, like X-men, who convey approval for revenge on society by the people it has marginalized.”

He also lashed out the FBI for its questionable role in handling cases of mass murders, saying the agency “is one of the prime suspects in cases like this.”

“The same thing has been happening over here for almost as long as we have had our own internal secret police, which is to say, as long as we have had the FBI sending out agents provocateurs and creating the mayhem we thought we were paying them to prevent,” Jones pointed out.

The remarks come as the American society is stunned by the news of the Friday mass shooting in Aurora.

James Holmes, 24, opened fire on viewers during the screening of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, in Century Theater Cinema in Aurora near Denver, killing 12 people and wounding 58 others.

The masked gunman, who was wearing a bullet-proof vest, was immediately arrested in the rear parking lot of the movie theater without any resistance.

Holmes has not been officially charged because, under Colorado law, Monday’s appearance is called ‘an advisement’ where the accused will reportedly be asked if he knew why he was arrested, jailed, and brought before a judge, while being informed of his rights.

The US police said on Friday that Holmes had had his hair painted red to look like the Batman movie’s villain. “We have some information, most of it is public. It clearly looks like a deranged individual. He had his hair painted red, he said he was ‘The Joker,’ obviously the ‘enemy’ of Batman,” said New York Police commissioner Raymond Kelly.

Also on Friday, US officials said that Holmes had bought over 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the Internet in the past two months.

@ המוסד Rezim 88 קומו ….!

Iranian Commander: Syria To Be Cleaned From Enemies

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Image A senior Iranian commander has warned against foreign schemes against Damascus, saying foreign troops are sponsored antagonists will soon be eliminated in Syria.

“Land of Syria will soon be cleared of the enemy and stain resistance to it was time to take revenge on every enemy of Syria,” said Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri Iran, on Tuesday (07.24.12).

Jazayeri Syria reaffirmed the resolve of nations to retaliate against their enemies, adding, “The people of Syria are very angry at the evil U.S. government, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other allies of the terrorists.”

He pointed out that a major front of the U.S. and its allies as well as ‘global Zionism’ has launched an all-out war against the Syrian government and nation.

Jazayeri went on to say that because of the strong presence of the Syrian people, the government and armed forces, members of the gang had suffered defeat and destruction of the historical.

“Now the enemy can not do anything except turn to the terrorist attacks, bombings and media propaganda,” the Iranian commander added.

“The enemy is capable of changing governments and peoples of Syria and Syrian friends would never let that happen.”

Last week, four senior Syrian officials, including Defense Minister Rajiha Dawoud, Deputy Defense Minister Assef Shawkat, head of Public Security Hisham Ikhtiyar and Assistant Vice President Hassan Turkmeni were killed in a bomb attack on the headquarters of the National Security Bureau.

Free Syrian terrorist army (FSA) claimed responsibility for the bombing, and said the attack was “the first in a series.”

Syria has been the scene of violence by armed groups since March 2011.

Damascus blames’ criminals, sabotage, and armed terrorist group “for the violence, stating that it was all arranged from abroad.

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