Showing posts with label Conflict. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Conflict. Show all posts

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Norman Finkelstein: Israel is facing an existential crisis and South Africa offers a model for a one-state

    Sunday, March 31, 2024   No comments

The American Jewish historian, Norman Finkelstein, argues that “Israel” is facing an existential crisis for the first time since its establishment, and suggests that South Africa offers a model for a one-state solution for one people of different backgrounds.

The American Jewish thinker and historian who opposes the Israeli occupation policy, Norman Finkelstein, said that “Israel” has obstructed all political solutions in its war on the Gaza Strip. In a symposium held with students at Princeton University, Finkelstein said: “At the current stage at least, we have reached the end of any kind of diplomacy to resolve the conflict,” adding that “talk about a two-state solution seems absolutely ridiculous, and there is no diplomatic solution.” appears in the horizon".

 He pointed out that "Israel is determined to impose a military victory and will not back down from that goal."  Finkelstein explained, “On the other hand, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah said it explicitly, that he will not accept a military defeat for Hamas, and that this will not happen,” adding that “these two goals are not reconcilable, either victorious or defeated.”

Finkelstein believed that "at the level of the Arab and Islamic worlds, a conclusion has been reached that living with Israel is impossible," adding that according to the Arab and Islamic worlds, it is "moronic and must go. For this reason, there is no political solution on the horizon in the short term."

 He pointed out that "Israel is facing, for the first time in its history, a crisis of existence and legitimacy," pointing out that "its main opponent in this regard is South Africa, the country that is confronting it at the International Court of Justice and presenting itself as a model for a one-state solution for one people."

 As for the United States, “the American Democratic Party is facing a crisis with its broad popular base that objects to Israel’s crimes, and the party’s leadership can no longer ignore that base,” according to Finkelstein.

 He continued by saying: "I was shocked and astonished by US Senator Chuck Schumer's speech last week. Senator Schumer has always been fanatical about Israel, and he was the one who called for the economic strangling of Gaza."

 The American writer pointed out that “Senator Schumer, along with New Jersey Senator Menendez, were at the forefront of those opposing the deal with Iran,” explaining that “he served as the official spokesman for the Israeli government in our country.”

 He considered that "Schumer's statements critical of Israel are beyond expectations."

Finkelstein's talk and comments were published on YouTube.

It must be noted that the two-state solution is promoted as the only solution, which is now becoming very hard to realize, when other examples from around the world point to other alternatives. One of these examples mentioned here is the South Africa example. For years the apartheid regime created systems that dehumanized the people of South Africa. The oppression was built in part on the false idea that Africans are incapable of building and running a democracy. All that was proved wrong: Africans overthrew the racist regime but did not purge South Africa of white people. The preserved South Africa as one country for all.

Other examples of single-state solutions to conflict zones are in the Middle East region and they were in part promoted and engineered by Western governments and their regional allies. The Lebanese example is just on the other side of the border: After 15 years of civil war, Christians and Muslims settled to live, still in tension, but in peace, thanks to a power-sharing system that allows Christians, Shia Muslims, and Sunni Muslims to create a calibrated power sharing system to preserve the national unity of Lebanon.

After the US invaded Iraq, the constitution and institutions that were produced under the authority of the occupying forces of the United States, produced a power sharing structure that allows the Kurdish people, the Sunni Muslims, and the Shia majority to live in relative peace. It is worth noting that the current president, then a senator, Biden, promoted the idea of breaking up Iraq—a tri-state solution if you will.

If the South African, Lebanese, and Iraq models of a single-state solution whereby different peoples, separated by religion or ethnicity, can coexist and govern through power sharing structures, why would a single-state solution that would allow Jews, Christians, and Muslims to live in peace through some sort of power-sharing formular be impractical? And how would a two-state solution solve the problem of the non-Jews, nearly 30% of the population who are Christian and Muslim, who would end up in Israel under any border configuration, should the two state-solution come into existence?

As the world community is forced to address this 75-year old conflict, there is much to be learned not only from the moral force that compelled South Africa to stand against genocide, but to offer a practical example of many peoples in one nation living in relative peace despite the cruelty of the past.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Media review: The Gaza war creates a new Islamic front and threatens American influence--Foreign Affairs

    Saturday, February 10, 2024   No comments

The American magazine Foreign Affairs published a long article dealing with the impact of the Gaza war on the Islamic and Arab worlds, saying that this war created a new Islamic front that may be the greatest challenge facing America.

The article, written by Toby Matthiesen, a senior lecturer in global religious studies at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, explained that the Gaza war is no longer limited to the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and Israel.

He pointed out the extension of this war and the participation of the so-called “Axis of Resistance” that includes Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen in it, and it has gone beyond that until it has now become, 4 months after its beginning, a strong unifying force for Sunnis and Shiites and has awakened a comprehensive Islamic front that includes the Sunni Arab masses, who are opposed by a majority. Overwhelming, Arab normalization.

The article added that for the United States and its partners, this development constitutes a strategic challenge that goes far beyond confronting the Iraqi factions and the Houthis with targeted strikes. By bringing together a region long divided, the war in Gaza threatens to further undermine American influence and, in the long term, could make many American military missions untenable.

He said that this new rapprochement also raises major obstacles to any US-led efforts to impose a top-down peace agreement that excludes Palestinian Islamists.

The writer reported that Arab opinion polls and social media show great Arab support for the Hamas movement and its strategy of armed resistance, and a significant decline in support for the United States and the regimes closely associated with it.

The same opinion polls now show, according to the article, that an overwhelming percentage of the population - more than 90% - opposes establishing relations with Israel, adding that the Arab Opinion Index for last January, a survey conducted in Doha that included 16 Arab countries, shows agreement. More than 3 quarters of respondents said their views of the United States had become more negative since the war began.

Matthiesen advised the pro-Western Arab countries to seek to bridge the widening gap between their policies and the sympathy of their citizens, saying that after years of neglect, these masses will urgently press for a just solution to the Palestinian issue, which threatens to spark a new wave of Arab uprisings.

He stressed that it is increasingly clear that it will be impossible for Washington to stop the regional escalation unless it is able to secure a ceasefire in Gaza, end the occupation, and finally establish a viable Palestinian state, adding that in the absence of concrete, credible steps in this direction, the pressure will continue. Popular influence on governments in the region.

Matthiesen concluded his article by emphasizing that without a just and broad solution to the Palestinian issue, the Middle East will never achieve lasting peace or the kind of political and economic cooperation that many have long dreamed of, indicating that the alternative is an endless cycle of violence, the decline of Western influence, and the integration of the region. In a way that is completely different from what the West wants, and even fundamentally hostile to it.

Tuesday, June 06, 2023

US intelligence was informed of the Ukrainian plan to bomb Nord Stream.. It was carried out by Ukrainian military divers working directly under the command of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces

    Tuesday, June 06, 2023   No comments

The Washington Post reported today, Tuesday, that three months before the Nord Stream pipeline bombing, "Nord Stream", the administration of US President Joe Biden learned from a close ally that the Ukrainian military had planned the secret attack.

The newspaper quoted US intelligence information suspected of being leaked earlier this year by a computer expert who holds a job in the Air National Guard and has access to many highly classified materials.

"The Kiev authorities developed the plan after a reconnaissance operation carried out by a small team of divers who reported directly to the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Navy," it added.

The leaked documents indicated that an unnamed European intelligence agency had informed the CIA in June 2022, four months after the Russian military operation in Ukraine, that Ukrainian military divers working directly under the command of the country's commander-in-chief were planning the attack.

And the newspaper continued: “European intelligence reports were shared on the Discord chat platform, which were allegedly by US Air National Guard soldier, Jack Teixeira, and the Washington Post obtained a copy from one of his online friends.”

And she confirmed that the intelligence reports were based on information from a Ukrainian element, adding that the CIA shared the report with Germany and other European countries last June.

Specific details included numbers of operatives and attack methods, according to The Washington Post. This means that for about a year, the Western allies had a basis to suspect Kiev of sabotage. This assessment is further reinforced in recent months "when German investigators uncovered evidence that the bombing bore clear similarities to what the European service said Ukraine was planning."

A few days ago, the German newspaper "Der Spiegel" confirmed that there is new evidence in the investigation indicating Ukraine's involvement in sabotage operations targeting the two "Nord Stream" gas pipelines.

The newspaper reported that the metadata of e-mail messages, which were sent during the charter of the boat, indicated the involvement of Ukraine, pointing to the finding in the yacht of traces of the explosive “HMX” substance, which is very widespread in the west as in the previous block in the east.

Numerous underwater explosions ruptured the newly built Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines connecting Russia and Germany across the Baltic Sea on September 26, 2022.

The explosions occurred in the economic regions of Sweden and Denmark. Both countries say the bombings were deliberate, but have not yet determined who was responsible. The two countries, as well as Germany, are investigating the incident.

Washington and NATO described the incident as an "act of sabotage", while Moscow blamed the West. Neither side provided evidence of the perpetrator of the attacks.

    In related news, the attacks inside Russia and the attack on the dam might be the next crises the West will be forced to manage. 

Just like the Nord Stream explosion, Ukrainian officials denied responsibility and blamed Russia. However, for the incursions inside Russian territories, the armed group was shown to have used Western provided weapons. Western countries said that they provided these weapons on the conditions that are not used to carry out attacks inside Russia. Ukrainian officials have denied any connections. However, if it turns out that Ukraine is involved, the West will have a problem of credibility no matter how one looks at it. Either they are not insisting to Ukrainians on these conditions and don't care; or Ukrainian officials agree to the terms and violate them. In either case, NATO nation-states and Western supporters of the government in Kiev will have to decide how to manage these problems of credibility and loss of control over supplied weapons.

Russian leaders seem to take it one step at the time. The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the Belgian ambassador to Moscow.

“On June 6, Belgian Ambassador to Moscow M. Michilsen was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry, who was strongly protested in connection with the revealed facts of the use of Belgian-made weapons by sabotage groups that carried out terrorist attacks on the territory of the Belgorod Region on May 22,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Friday, November 04, 2022

The Sheikh of Al-Azhar calls for a dialogue with Shiite Muslim scholars

    Friday, November 04, 2022   No comments

Today, Friday, Al-Azhar Sheikh Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb appealed to Shia Muslim scholars to hold an Islamic-Islamic dialogue in order to renounce "sectarian strife," at a time when several countries in the region and the world are experiencing tensions over a sectarian background.

In a speech delivered at the conclusion of the Bahrain Forum for Dialogue "East and West for Human Coexistence", in the presence of Pope Francis at the Royal Palace of Sakhir, Al-Tayeb appealed to "Islamic scholars in the whole world, regardless of their sects, sects and schools, to hasten to hold a serious Islamic-Islamic dialogue." In order to establish unity, rapprochement and acquaintance, the causes of discord, strife and sectarian conflict in particular are rejected.

The Imam of Al-Azhar said: “This invitation, as I address it to our fellow Shiite Muslims, I am ready, along with the senior scholars of Al-Azhar and the Council of Muslim Elders, to hold such a meeting with open hearts and outstretched hands to sit together at one table.”

The Imam of Al-Azhar set the meeting’s goal by “overcoming the page of the past and promoting Islamic affairs and the unity of Islamic positions,” suggesting that its decisions “provide an end to mutual hate speech, methods of provocation and infidelity, and the need to overcome historical and contemporary conflicts with all their problems and bad sediments.”

Al-Tayyib stressed that “it is forbidden for Muslims to listen to the calls of discord and discord, and to beware of falling into the trap of tampering with the stability of countries, exploiting religion by stirring up national and sectarian strife, interfering in the affairs of states, undermining their sovereignty or usurping their lands.”

The Sheikh of Al-Azhar calls for an end to the war in Ukraine

In a separate context, the sheikh of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif called for an end to the war in Ukraine for the sake of world peace and stability, saying: “I add my voice to the voice of benevolent people who call for peace and an end to the Russian-Ukrainian war, and to spare the blood of innocents who have no elegance or utterance in this tragedy, And raising the banner of peace instead of the banner of victory, and sitting in the circle of dialogue and negotiations.”

Al-Tayeb also called for "stopping the fighting going on in various parts of the world by rebuilding bridges of dialogue, understanding and trust, in order to restore peace in a world riddled with wounds, so that the alternative is not more suffering for poor peoples, and more dire consequences for the East and West."

Monday, September 12, 2022

Lavrov receives Hamas delegation headed by Ismail Haniyeh

    Monday, September 12, 2022   No comments

Today, Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet with a delegation of the Hamas movement headed by the head of the Political Bureau, Ismail Haniyeh.

"On September 12, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, received the head of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, who is in Moscow at the head of the movement's delegation," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The statement pointed out that "the talks focused on the developments in the Middle East, especially the Palestinian problem."

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Moscow stressed "the importance of speeding up the restoration of Palestinian national unity on the political platform of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the need to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of international law, relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the United Nations General Assembly and the Arab Peace Initiative."

On Saturday, the head of the political bureau of the Palestinian "Hamas" movement, Ismail Haniyeh, arrived in the Russian capital, Moscow, accompanied by a delegation from the movement's leadership.

In a press statement, Taher al-Nono, media advisor to Hamas leader, said that Haniyeh "has arrived in Moscow on a visit during which he intends to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and a number of Russian leaders and officials."

This visit comes after a high-level delegation from the "Hamas" movement, headed by the head of the International Relations Office, Musa Abu Marzouk, visited Moscow last May, aimed at holding talks with Russian officials on a number of important files related to the developments of the Palestinian cause.

Moscow criticized the position of Western countries in dealing with the recent Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, noting at the time that "the West is very concerned about the situation in Ukraine... while it is indifferently watching the Israelis kill the Palestinians and destroy the Gaza Strip," describing the matter as a continuation of the "Western propaganda machine."

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Who armed ISIS? A three year study provides some answers

    Thursday, December 14, 2017   No comments

Supplies of materiel, including advanced light weapons systems the U.S. military, from foreign parties — notably the United States and Saudi Arabia, ended up in the hands of ISIS fighters.

This report is the result of more than three years of field investigation into Islamic State supply chains. It presents an analysis of more than 40,000 items recovered from the group between 2014 and 2017. These items encompass weapons, ammunition, and the traceable components and chemical precursors used by the group to manufacture improvised explosive devices.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

UN: 'Staggering' civilian deaths from US-led air strikes in Raqqa

    Wednesday, June 14, 2017   No comments
Intensified coalition air strikes supporting an assault by U.S.-backed forces on Islamic State's stronghold of Raqqa in Syria are causing a "staggering loss of civilian life", United Nations war crimes investigators said on Wednesday.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a group of Kurdish and Arab militias supported by a U.S.-led coalition, began to attack Raqqa a week ago to take it from the jihadists. The SDF, supported by heavy coalition air strikes, have taken territory to the west, east and north of the city.

"We note in particular that the intensification of air strikes, which have paved the ground for an SDF advance in Raqqa, has resulted not only in staggering loss of civilian life, but has also led to 160,000 civilians fleeing their homes and becoming internally displaced," Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry told the Human Rights Council.

Pinheiro provided no figure for civilian casualties in Raqqa, where rival forces are racing to capture ground from Islamic State. The Syrian army is also advancing on the desert area west of the city.

Separately, Human Rights Watch expressed concern in a statement about the use of incendiary white phosphorous weapons by the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, saying it endangered civilians when used in populated areas. source



Thursday, April 27, 2017

Saudi youth agitate protesting lack of jobs and corruption; government restores perks to state employees to fend off unrest

    Thursday, April 27, 2017   No comments
Calls have been growing on social media for Saudi Arabia's jobless to protest on Sunday, after a similar appeal before the government

Demonstrations are banned in the conservative kingdom, and the previous calls for civic action led police to flood Riyadh on April 21.

Media access is also controlled, though Saudis are very active on social media including on Twitter, where many post anonymously with fabricated usernames.

Under the hashtag "Unemployed rally April 30", several Saudi Twitter users posted calls for demonstrations outside government employment offices on Sunday.

"Because of the April 21st movement, the benefits were returned, my brother citizen do not deprive yourself and come out on April 30, may God assist you to overcome your troubles," wrote one Twitter user under the name @Hussain_Khalid.

Another using the hashtag wrote "we are only looking for jobs," while another posted: "We're not Daesh, we're not with Iran, all we want is to be employed, nothing else."

The comment referred to Saudi Arabia's regional rival Iran and the jihadist Islamic State group, known by the Arabic acronym Daesh.

A post from another user accused the government of spending money on projects abroad while it is "in deficit to the people" at home.

The new campaign appeared modelled on a similar movement on social media that had called for demonstrations last Friday over a range of political and economic issues.

There were no signs of major demonstrations on Friday and the Sabq online newspaper, which is close to authorities, reported that the day had passed quietly with no protests.

But on Saturday King Salman announced an end to austerity measures that Saudi authorities had imposed in September -- including a freeze on salaries and limited benefits for civil servants -- as part of austerity measures following a collapse in global oil prices since 2014.
restored benefits to civil servants last weekend.

Government agents and government supporters, too, took to social media to talk up the ruling family leadership and connection to the public.

Sample of the pro- and anti-government posts on social media:

Thursday, February 02, 2017

The psychology of why 94 deaths from terrorism are scarier than 301,797 deaths from guns

    Thursday, February 02, 2017   No comments
According to the New America Foundation, jihadists killed 94 people inside the United States between 2005 and 2015. During that same time period, 301,797 people in the US were shot dead, Politifact reports.

At first blush, these numbers might seem to indicate that Donald Trump’s temporary ban on immigrants from seven countries—a goal he said was intended to “protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States”—is utterly misguided.

But Trump is right about at least one thing: Americans are more afraid of terrorism than they are of guns, despite the fact that guns are 3,210 times more likely to kill them.


President Trump may believe he is responding to people’s outsized fears of terrorism. Unfortunately, his hastily arranged executive order won’t work—not least because, as the Wall Street Journal found (paywall), “of 180 people charged with jihadist terrorism-related crimes or who died before being charged” only 11 came from the seven countries banned in Trump’s order. He didn’t ban people from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, or Egypt—the home countries of the 19 perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks.  source

Friday, January 20, 2017

Turkey no longer insists on Assad's ouster

    Friday, January 20, 2017   No comments
Turkey can no longer insist on a resolution of the conflict in Syria without the involvement of President Bashar al-Assad, as the situation on the ground has changed dramatically, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said on Friday.

Turkey has long insisted that Assad must go for sustainable peace to be achieved in Syria. But it has become less insistent on his immediate departure since its recent rapprochement with Russia, which backs the Syrian leader, and ahead of peace talks planned in Kazakhstan next week.

“As far as our position on Assad is concerned, we think that the suffering of (the) Syrian people and the tragedies, clearly the blame is squarely on Assad. But we have to be pragmatic, realistic,” Simsek told a panel on Syria and Iraq at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“The facts on the ground have changed dramatically, so Turkey can no longer insist on a settlement without Assad, it’s not realistic,” he said.

President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said last week that Turkey still believes a united and peaceful Syria is impossible with Assad, but wants to proceed “step-by-step” and see the outcome of the peace talks in Astana.

Turkey and Russia brokered a ceasefire in Syria which has largely held in the run-up to the Astana talks, a process which follows the defeat of the Syrian opposition in the northern city of Aleppo last month.


Friday, December 23, 2016

Armed groups in Syria shell Aleppo after withdrawal, killing three civilians

    Friday, December 23, 2016   No comments
Syrian rebels shelled Aleppo on Friday, killing three people, state television reported, a day after insurgents finished withdrawing from their last pocket of territory in the city.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor, said about 10 shells had fallen in al-Hamdaniya district in southwest Aleppo.

Rebels seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have frequently shelled the areas of Aleppo that have been under government control throughout the conflict, which began in 2011.

The destruction in those parts of the city has been far less than in the eastern districts that rebels held until this month.

The last rebels left the city late on Thursday for the countryside immediately to the west of Aleppo, under a ceasefire deal in which the International Committee of the Red Cross said about 35,000 people, mostly civilians, had departed.

Many of those who left the city are now living as refugees in the areas to the west and south of Aleppo, including in Idlib province where bulldozers were used to clear heavy snowfall on Friday morning, the opposition Orient television showed.  source

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Joint statement on Syria by Iran, Russia, Turkey's Foreign Ministers

    Tuesday, December 20, 2016   No comments
At the end of their trilateral meeting, the foreign ministers of Iran, Russia and Turkey issued a joint statement on agreed steps to revitalize the political process to end the Syria crisis.

Zarif, Lavrov and Cavusoglu agreed on the following topics:

1. Iran, Russia and Turkey reiterate their full respect for the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic as a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, non-sectarian, democratic and secular state.

2. Iran, Russia and Turkey are convinced that there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict. They recognize the essential role of the United Nations in the efforts to resolve this crisis in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2254.

The ministers also take note of the decisions made by the International Syria Support Croup (ISSG) and urge all members of the international community to cooperate in good faith in order to remove the obstacles on the way to implement the agreements contained in these documents.

3. Iran, Russia and Turkey welcome joint efforts in eastern Aleppo allowing for voluntary evacuation of civilians and organized departure of the armed opposition.

The ministers also welcome the partial evacuation of civilians from Foua, Kefraya, Zabadani and Madaya and commit to ensure the completion of the process without any interruption and in a safe and secure manner.

They express their gratitude to the representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) for their assistance in the conduction of the evacuation.

4. The Iranian, Russian and Turkish ministers agree on the importance of expanding ceasefire, unhindered humanitarian assistance and free movement of civilians throughout the country.

5. Iran, Russia and Turkey express their readiness to facilitate and become the guarantors of the prospective agreement being negotiated between the Syrian government and the opposition. They invite all other countries with the influence on the situation on the ground to do the same.

6. They strongly believe that this agreement will be instrumental to create the necessary momentum for the resumption of the political process in Syria in accordance with the Security Council resolution 2254.

7. Zarif, Lavrov and Cavusoglu take note of the kind offer of the president of Kazakhstan to host relevant meetings in Astana.

8. Iran, Russia and Turkey reiterate their determination to fight jointly against Daesh and al-Nusra terrorists and to separate them from armed opposition groups.


The News Conference:

Saturday, December 10, 2016

#Aleppo: About 50,000 civilians have fled the rebel enclave over the past two days

    Saturday, December 10, 2016   No comments
About 50,000 civilians have fled the rebel enclave over the past two days, a Russian defence spokesman said.

He added that more than 1,000 rebels had laid down their arms as pro-government forces close in.

Meanwhile Western powers have renewed calls for Syria and its ally, Russia, to allow people to leave Aleppo.

The statement came at a meeting of officials from the US, Europe, and some Arab countries.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who attended the talks in Paris, said: "Russia and [Syrian President] Assad have a moment where they are in a dominant position to show a little grace."
Earlier Russian defence ministry spokesman Gen Igor Konashenkov said Syrian troops had suspended their offensive to allow the evacuation of civilians.

"People are moving in a constant stream through humanitarian corridors into the government-controlled districts,'' he told reporters.

He said 30,000 people had left on Friday and 20,000 so far on Saturday.
Source: BBC

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

#Syria, #Aleppo: Celebrations as families return to homes in Aleppo

    Tuesday, December 06, 2016   No comments
ISR: the complexity of the Syrian crisis is showing in this report about Syrians returning to their homes in Aleppo. The one-sided reporting has prolonged the violent conflict. This is a rare perspective on Western media.

Families loyal to Syrian President Assad have begun to return to Aleppo, as government forces retake territory held by rebels.

The BBC's Lyse Doucet reports from the district of Hanano where the citizens have come back to their devastated homes.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Qatar will continue to support terrorists in Syria with or without U.S.

    Sunday, November 27, 2016   No comments
Summary: Fearing that the U.S. under Trump might abandon Syrian rebels, Qatar, which is known to have close connections to terrorist groups like Fath al-Sham--formerly known as al-Nusra Front, reassured its proxies in Syria that Qatar will continue to support them with or without U.S.

The  News:
Qatar will continue to arm Syrian rebels even if Donald Trump ends U.S. backing for the multinational effort, Doha's foreign minister said in an interview, signalling its determination to pursue a policy the U.S. President-elect may abandon.
The minister hit out at Egypt, normally a close Gulf Arab ally, for appearing to side with Assad, and criticised Iran for what he said was interference in the affairs of Arab states.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, whose flagging economy has received billions of dollars from Gulf states, has supported Russia's decision to bomb in support of Assad.

"For us unfortunately Egypt is supporting the regime ... We hope that they come back and be with us," he said. Support for Assad was the same as supporting terrorism, he said, "because he is a terrorist and he is on equal footing with Daesh".

Sheikh Mohammed chided Western politicians for using anti-Muslim and anti-refugee rhetoric in election campaigns, saying it was against the values the West had long stood for.

"Unfortunately these narratives ... will cause problems for decades because in Europe and the United States, the Muslim community is part of the texture of their society ... It will help them maybe to win the election but it will last for decades, it will create a problem within their communities. source

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Why Everything You Hear About Aleppo Is Wrong

    Tuesday, November 01, 2016   No comments
Armed groups attacking Western Aleppo
What's really going on in Aleppo? Are Assad and Putin exterminating the population for sport? Is it a war against US-backed "moderates"? That is what the mainstream media would have us believe. We speak with Vanessa Beeley, a journalist who just returned from Aleppo for the real story.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Is Erdoğan creating a powerful presidential system that will be used against him and his party?

    Sunday, October 23, 2016   No comments
ISR comment:  The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, may get his wish and transform the Turkish parliamentarian governing system into a presidential system. His campaign to do so was not motivated by the virtues of the presidential system more than by personal ambitions. He has been the most powerful and consequential president since the founding years of the republic. He has been acting as the executive president without the constitutional authority already. His problem is that, there is a good chance that he may never serve as the first legitimate executive president. In fact, it is possible that an opponent could be elected under and amended constitution, not Erdoğan, and with the consolidated power Erdoğan has built for himself, the new president could end up throwing Erdoğan in prison for many of the unconstitutional and illegal acts he carried inside and outside Turkey. That would be an example of the Islamic proverb: whoever digs a trap-hole for his brother is bound to fall in it himself.
Erdoğan has made many fatal mistakes in the past five years and he is making even more in recent months. He created enemies out of old friends and and never reconciled with old enemies. He is fighting with the U.S. against ISIL, but fighting with ISIL against Iraqi government. He is with the U.S. in its campaign to overthrow Assad but against it in its support for the Syrian Kurds. He made friends with Russian president, Putin, but he continued to antagonize Russia's allies, Iran and Iraq. His is friends with Iraqi Kurds, but considers Turkish Kurdis terrorists. His circle of friends is shrinking and his front of enemies is swelling. All these foreign affairs problems are putting the Turkish economy under extreme stress. His party was accepted by Turkish voters because of the prosperity and peace it brought them. If peace and prosperity are threatened, Turkish voters will vote him and his party out. But he and his party would leave behind a very powerful presidential institution, should it fall in the hands of his adversaries, his legacy would be reduced to a catalog of failures. Strangely, Erdoğan could be creating his dream job for someone else.


The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has finalized preparations for a draft of a constitutional amendment, which will change the country’s parliamentary system to an executive presidency, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on Oct. 23.
“We have finalized our work on both the new constitution and on the presidential [system]. We have made sufficient discussions both in parliament and by the public. We’ll bring our proposal to parliament as soon as possible,” Yıldırım said addressing the deputies in his closing speech at the AKP camp.

The government will go to a popular referendum on whether the parliament should adopt new charter draft with 367 votes or agrees to go for public opinion on 330 votes, he said.

So that Turkey will end “system debate and use its energy for its future,” Yıldırım said.

After the consultation camp in Afyon, the charter will be introduced to two of the opposition parties in parliament, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), as the AKP has refused to work with the third largest party in parliament, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

After the bilateral discussions with the two opposition parties, AKP will submit the draft to parliament. The AKP officials have indicated that the party anticipates a referendum on the draft in April following an approval in parliament set to be done in January.

The draft will include 12 to 15 articles outlining the presidential model that the party will present to the public.

Constitutional change, in particular, the call for a presidential system, has been on the political agenda since President Erdoğan, the former prime minister, was elected as Turkey’s president in August 2014.

The 2014 election was the first time a Turkish president, whose role is officially defined as symbolic, was directly chosen by popular vote.

The discussion on the presidential system was revived after Bahçeli suggested going to a referendum, to let the people decide if Turkey should change its administrative model.

Changing to a presidential system is opposed by Turkey’s two other parliamentary parties, CHP and HDP, and the AKP lacks the super-majority in parliament needed to make the change without submitting it to a referendum.

The AKP, with 316 seats in parliament, needs the support of the 40-seat MHP to take any constitutional amendment to a referendum. source

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Ahead of the meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan set down for an interview with TASS

    Thursday, August 11, 2016   No comments
Ahead of the meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an interview with TASS commented on Moscow-Ankara relations, the military coup attempt, the Kurdish question, Syrian peace settlement and anti-terrorism efforts.

- Mr. President, thank you for the opportunity to have this meeting. We are talking literally hours before your visit to Russia, to St. Petersburg, where you are scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin’s Press Secretary, Dmitry Peskov, has already said that joint steps to restore relations between our countries, including a wide range of issues from the economy to Syria, will be in focus. There is a great deal for you to discuss. That’s Russia’s vision. What is your agenda? How do you foresee the forthcoming talks?

- Mr. Gusman, thank you very much. It is true that ahead of the visit scheduled for Tuesday I am very grateful for the opportunity this meeting offers to express our own viewpoint, how things look to us in Turkey.

It has been eight months since the tragic downing of the Russian jet. Over this period our cooperation continued along a number of lines. As you know, in the context of Russian-Turkish relations we had planned to build up bilateral trade to $100 billion. There’ve been difficulties with that. A number of our major projects, including the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, have been suspended. I am certain that we will have an opportunity to discuss all these aspects and that a new page in Russian-Turkish relations will be opened. This new leaf to be turned over will include cooperation in the military field, in the economy and in culture. Our countries are key players in the region and they are going to accomplish a great deal together. It is with this conviction that I will arrive in Russia on a visit. I don’t have the slightest doubt that Mr. Putin has been making preparations for the visit in the same fashion, and I would like to say this using the opportunities of your television channel.

I envision this visit as a new landmark in bilateral relations, a clean slate from which to start anew. On behalf of myself and the Turkish nation, I cordially greet Mr. Putin and all Russians.

- Mr. President, of course it is a great pleasure to hear what you’ve just said. You mentioned a tragic page in our relations – the death of our pilot. I know that this episode caused ache in the hearts of all Russians. You surely understand this, Mr. President. So my question to you is who in your opinion is to blame and will the perpetrators be punished?

- I’ve already had a chance to explain our stance in the letter I had sent. I said that this event was a great misfortune to us and it deeply upset us. The culprits in what happened in Syrian territory have been detained and brought to justice already. The investigation is continuing. In fact, I conveyed that in my message. As for the pilots, I ordered a probe into the circumstances that occurred beyond the bounds of our customary rules of response. You also know that the man who caused the Russian pilot’s death, who killed the Russian pilot, is now in custody. He is standing trial. I would like to emphasize that.

- Just recently Turkey, the people of Turkey, and you personally experienced a very dramatic moment, of course. There was an attempted coup against the government. As far as I understand, you managed to suppress the coup by relying on the will of the people, first and foremost. These days we can see rallies in your support. You managed to establish stability in Turkey. Very many people, tens of thousands are under arrest and investigation. In a situation like this how did you manage to quash the rebellion? On the other hand, the large number of those arrested may possibly indicate that “anti-government forces”, let us refer to them as such, could have taken deep root in Turkish society.

- Those who tried to stage this coup against the government and the people, failed to take into account key factors. Although they had penetrated deeply into government agencies, the army, the police and the judiciary, we have police and military servicemen who refused to join the coup plotters. There were also judges and prosecutors who refused to join, too. Yet, the most important thing that we have, is our nation, a people such as ours. The plotters never took into account the will of our people. They never even imagined that our people would not hesitate to stop tanks with their bodies. They failed to take that into account. Not once did the thought enter their minds that these people would stand firm despite bombs being dropped on them from planes, or helicopters opening fire on them. At the moment, 240 are listed dead and about 2,200 others injured. Some of the survivors are still in intensive care. These people’s hearts are filled with a burning love for their country; they were ready to sacrifice themselves. That’s why they took to the streets, women and even elderly people. The young as well, take a look at those killed –15-year-old youths were among them.

Amid these events, I received a phone call from Mr. Putin already on the second day. As we talked he said that he was against the coup and would remain on our side. I recall his high-principled position with gratitude and I thank him on behalf of myself and the Turkish people.

All world leaders must resist treason, government coup attempts and attacks on their own people. Mr. Putin acted quickly and practically without delay. Once again, I express my gratitude to him.

- In this connection there is one question I would like to make clear. As you may know some media outlets in and outside of Russia carried reports that Russia and its secret services had conveyed some sort of warning, that they had notified the special services that preparations for a government coup were underway. The question I want to ask you does this scenario conform to reality.

This is the first time that I have heard such a thing. Even if it had really been so, those concerned would have been obliged to inform me first thing. I received no such information, not from intelligence, nor through any other channels. We don’t know who said what and to whom. I believe that this is a groundless rumor.

- As far as I know, Turkey has asked the United States twice or possibly more to extradite Mr. Gulen, who, to my knowledge was one of the failed coup plotters. There’s been no response from the United States so far. If the US refuses to meet Turkey’s request, how do you see future relations with Washington?

- It would be wrong to approach this question from that standpoint. At the moment, the process of negotiations is continuing. Earlier, I addressed Mr. Obama with such a request. Whenever you demanded that we should extradite terrorists, I told them, we satisfied those demands. The head of the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (led by Fethullah Gulen) has been in your country (the United States) since 1999.

Regrettably, at a certain point we had provided full support for him and his team. They were saying that they were involved in some activities in the field of education, and that they worked for the future of our country. Regrettably, they did not proceed along these lines. It was a cover-up. Then we realized that they were moving in a different direction. I had suspected there was something wrong about that from the very start. They were opening private schools. Moreover, the activities at such educational establishments were far from positive. In fact they were working in a very negative way. Their activity was entirely centered on profit-seeking. We failed to pay proper attention to that when I was prime minister.

Starting from 2010 we had begun to crack down on this problem, by closing down such establishments, but much more of them were cropping up. When such schools were shut down, we arranged to compensate people by setting up weekend courses. Our people started going there because they did not have to spend much money. Many of them are poor and we saved them. Also, it was a source of extra income for our teachers.

In reality, even though we have demanded this man’s extradition. They say if you regard this man as a terrorist, then send us the documents. We will study them first and then take measures in accordance with US legislation. True, there are some documents we had sent them before. By now we’ve sent 85 boxfuls of paperwork on this case. In the near future, the Turkish justice minister, foreign minister, special envoy and a number of prosecutors and judges who were in charge of this matter will go to the United States and brief the American authorities in person.

- I know, Mr. President, that you pay much attention to creating Turkey’s new fundamental law, the new Constitution. You are the architect of the new legislation. What fundamentally new features will the new Constitution have? Should the people adopt it at your initiative? And how will this Constitution reconcile the traditions of a secular Turkish state with the Muslim religion? the rest of the interview at the source

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Body of Russian pilot is dragged through the dirt and stamped on after helicopter is shot down by Syrian rebels

    Tuesday, August 02, 2016   No comments


    Russian Mi-8 helicopter carrying three crew and two officers was shot down by Syrian rebels in the Idlib region
    Gruesome pictures show what is believed to be body of a Russian pilot being dragged through dirt and onto truck
    Russian officials say aircraft was returning from delivering aid to war-torn Aleppo when it was gunned down

A Russian military helicopter has been shot down by rebels in Syria killing all five people on board, it has been revealed.

The aircraft, carrying three crew and two officers, crashed down in the Idlib province in north western Syria on its way home to a Russian airbase.

Gruesome pictures have since emerged showing what is believed to be the body of a Russian pilot being dragged through the dirt and loaded on to a truck.  Source

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Saudi-led military coalition added to UN's blacklist over the deaths of hundreds of children in Yemen

    Thursday, June 02, 2016   No comments
children are among the victims of Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen
On Thursday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon  placed the Saudi-led military coalition that launched a war on Yemen on an annual blacklist over the deaths of hundreds of children in airstrikes.

Yemen's Shiite Huthi rebels who seized the capital Sanaa in September 2014 were also added to the list of children's rights violators released Thursday, detailing offenses in 14 countries.

"Emerging and escalating crises had a horrific impact on boys and girls," said a statement from the office of the UN envoy for children and armed conflict.

"The situation in Yemen was particularly worrisome with a five-fold increase in the number of children recruited (by armed groups) and six times more children killed and maimed compared to 2014," it said.

The Saudi-led coalition is responsible for 60 percent of the total 785 children who were killed and 1,168 wounded last year in Yemen, said the report.


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