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by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Ali Abunimah, The ICC, House of Saud, and Turkey

4:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Ali Abunimah will be here for Sunday’s FDL Book Salon!

The Palestinians are making progress towards unity between themselves…

Palestinian factions start talks on forming joint government

Officials from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction and the rival Islamist Hamas group met in Gaza on Tuesday to discuss the make-up of a unity government they hope will end a seven-year schism.

Officials from the two groups said they planned to propose non-politically affiliated candidates for seats in a unity cabinet which will be tasked with preparing presidential and parliamentary elections after six months.

Azzam Al-Ahmed, the senior Fatah official sent by Western-backed Abbas from the West Bank, led the talks with Hamas’s delegation, headed by exiled Islamist leader Moussa Abu Marzouk.

Abbas announced plans for a unity government as a step towards Palestinian elections on April 23. Many past attempts to heal the rift between Fatah, that dominates the Palestinian Authority-run West Bank, and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, have failed.

Palestinian sources in Ramallah, the seat of Abbas’s administration, said they wanted the list of names to be ready by Thursday when he meets U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in London to discuss the stalled peace talks with Israel.

Meanwhile, Israel is stymieing their efforts…

Israel accused of cracking down on lawyers

Accusations of torture and mistreatment abound as several Palestinian lawyers are arrested by Israeli authorities.

A Ramallah-based rights group is accusing Israeli authorities of cracking down on Palestinian lawyers, following a series of indictments and arrests of attorneys based on charges of passing information between Hamas members in and outside Israeli prisons.

The Palestinian Prisoners Society said the moves against the lawyers were ‘dangerous’ and ‘unprecedented.’ ‘It’s a scare tactic to instil fear into those who are working hard to provide the basic levels of protection for Palestinian detainees,’ said Qaddura Fares, the group’s head.

Fares was referring to the recent indictment of a 42-year-old Palestinian-Israeli lawyer, and the arrest of six people, five of them lawyers, from East Jerusalem.

Mohammad Abed, a Galilee native, was indicted last month on charges of passing messages between detainees and the Hamas leadership, and receiving approximately one million shekels ($288,800) for his alleged services. Abed was arrested along with four others who worked for the Solidarity Foundation for Human Rights in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

This was a shocker…

I totally concur with this excellent +972 Mag article…

Ehud Olmert is going to jail for the wrong crimes

During his premiership, Ehud Olmert was responsible for two of the most horrific military operations of the past decade. More than a thousands Lebanese, a third of them civilians, and 165 Israelis, a quarter of them civilians, were killed in the Second Lebanon War.

In the wake of the war, the IDF developed the Dahiya doctrine, by which the army deliberately targets civilian infrastructure as a means of inducing suffering for the civilian population in ‘enemy cities.’ Not three years had gone by and Olmert sent the army to implement the new doctrine in Gaza. Operation Cast Lead took the lives of nearly 1,400 Palestinians, more than half of whom were civilians, and nine Israelis, of whom three were civilians (these statistics do not include Palestinians and Israelis killed by friendly fire).

The IDF stated that each military operation is taken under serious consideration and implemented with utmost care. And yet, somehow, in the operations that followed, the army was somehow able to show more restraint and decrease the number of deaths, especially among non-combatants.

Ehud Olmert is responsible for both of these terrible events. He has blood on his hands. The blood of over 2,000 people. Today he was sent to jail for six years for accepting bribes in order to build some ugly buildings in Jerusalem. When will he be put on trial for the serious crimes he committed?


Ex-intel chief: Israel should punish Assad for killing civilians

Moral considerations for military intervention should be weighed alongside strategic ones, says Amos Yadlin, also calling for NATO-led no-fly zone

Now, speaking of war crimes, I wonder if anybody in the MSM will mention this little bombshell…

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by CTuttle

Syria: Game Changers, Rebel Rivalry, and UN War Crimes

4:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Before I dive into all the breaking news on our miserable Syrian foreign policy, let’s look at what Russian FM Lavrov had to say today…

Lavrov slams US, UN for undermining Geneva peace talks on Syria

…Lavrov told Bloomberg that Russia wants to understand if their partners in America and the United Nations are really consistent with the idea of the Geneva 2 conference on Syria as their actions keep sending the wrong message to the country’s opposition…

“The message the opposition is getting: ‘Guys, don’t go to Geneva. Don’t say that you are going to negotiate with the regime. Soon things will change in your favor.’ So, that’s what we want to clarify. It’s either the conference or the instigation of the opposition not to be flexible. I don’t think it’s possible to do both at the same time”

The Foreign Minister reminded that Russia has been pushing for the peace solution “irrespective of the situation on the ground,” while the West started speaking of a conference only after Assad’s forces began advancing on the rebels.

“They weren’t ready to discuss it when many people believed that the opposition would take Damascus in recent weeks. If now they’ll be moving in the direction of what some opposition leaders are saying – namely, let’s first restore military balance on the ground and then we’ll go the conference. This’ll be a disaster for all diplomatic efforts because this would never end.”

The first problem is the representation of the rebels at the talks as “not each and every important opposition group wants to go under the umbrella of the [Syrian National] Coalition because” because it’s “taking quite radical positions” and doesn’t have any vision for the country’s future.

The FM also said that “the most effective military group fighting the regime in Syria”, the Jabhat al-Nusra, isn’t going to be invited to the talks at all.

“It’s not for them to decide whether they’ll come to the conference or not. They can’t be even considered. They are terrorists and they must be treated as terrorists.”

The second problem with the invitees’ list is the participation of foreign states in the Geneva 2 conference.

“We’re absolutely convinced that all Arab neighbors of Syria must be invited. And Iran must be there that’s something, which I believe is absolutely unavoidable if we want the process, which is inclusive, and if we want all important outside players to be there to push the Syrians to an agreement. And so far there are doubts on the part of the US regarding the invitation of Iran and, I believe, this is delaying.”

The Russian FM once again warned the US against arming the rebels, but said that weapons are “anyway” coming to Syria

Well, lah-di-da… From the LA Times

U.S. training Syrian rebels; White House ‘stepped up assistance’

White House officials refused to comment Friday on a Los Angeles Times report that CIA operatives and U.S. special operations troops have been secretly training Syrian rebels with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons since late last year, saying only that the U.S. had increased its assistance to the rebellion.

The covert U.S. training at bases in Jordan and Turkey began months before President Obama approved plans to begin directly arming the opposition to Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to U.S. officials and rebel commanders.

“We have stepped up our assistance, but I cannot inventory for you all the elements of that assistance,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. “We have provided and will continue to provide substantial assistance to the Syrian opposition, as well as the Supreme Military Council.”

The Supreme Military Council is the military arm of an umbrella group that represents more moderate rebel factions, including the Free Syrian Army.

The training and Obama’s decision this month to supply arms and ammunition to the rebels have raised hope among the beleaguered opposition that Washington ultimately will provide heavier weapons as well. So far, the rebels say they lack the weapons they need to regain the offensive in Syria’s bitter civil war…

Do you want an inventory, Jay…? Anyways…Rebels claim ‘game-changing’ weapons…

…The “Friends of Syria” group of countries that support the rebels was expected to announce in Doha on Saturday that it would arm the opposition, FSA media and political co-ordinator spokesman Louay Muqdad said.

“We’ve received quantities of new types of weapons, including some that we asked for and that we believe will change the course of the battle on the ground.

“We have begun distributing them on the front lines, they will be in the hands of professional officers and FSA fighters,” he said.

He did not specify what weapons had been received or when they had arrived, but added that a new shipment was expected in the coming days and recalled that the rebels had asked for “deterrent weapons.”

“That means anti-aircraft weapons, anti-tank weapons, as well as ammunition,” he said.

Senior opposition figure Burhan Ghalioun confirmed that the FSA had recently received “sophisticated weapons” including “an anti-aircraft defence system.”

Another opposition source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the system was “Russian-made” but declined to say which country had supplied it.

The apparent influx of arms comes after the United States said it would provide rebel forces with “military support,” although it has declined to outline what that might entail.

“The weapons will be used for one objective, which is to fight the regime of (President) Bashar Al Assad,” Muqdad insisted.

“They will be collected after the fall of the regime, we have made this committment to the friends and brotherly countries” that supplied the arms,” he said…

*snort* Are you kidding…? When they can’t even dole out the ‘humanitarian aid‘ in a timely fashion…

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