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by CTuttle

Operations Brother’s Keeper & Protective Edge

6:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Jeff Halper wrote this excellent post at Mondoweiss…

Israel’s message to the Palestinians: Submit, leave or die

The Kerry initiative may have ended with a whimper instead of a bang, but its impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was significant and fundamental nonetheless. The end of the political process, futile as it may have been, triggered the collapse of the status quo as we have known it for the past 47 years. It set in motion a series of events that will confront us with two stark alternatives regarding Israel and Palestine: either the permanent warehousing of an entire population or the emergence of a single democratic state.

Both the blatantly disproportionate response to the kidnapping and killing of the three Israeli boys and, as I write, the all-out air strikes on Gaza, have been cast by Israel as military operations: Operations Brothers’ Keeper and Operation Protective Edge. Neither had anything to do with the operations’ purported triggers, the search for the boys or rocket fire from Gaza. Palestinian cities supposedly enjoying extra-territorial status were invaded in Operation Brothers’ Keeper, more than 2000 homes were ransacked, some 700 people arrested. Who knows as yet the devastation wrought on Gaza – 100 dead in more than 1,100 air attacks so far, mostly civilians according to reports; deafening around-the-clock bombing of communities by American-supplied F-15 and artillery from the ground and sea that amounts to collective torture; Israel’s Foreign Minister calling for cutting off all electricity and water amidst threats to completely obliterate Gaza’s infrastructure; and the prospect of almost two million people being permanently imprisoned, reduced to bare existence just this side of starvation. {…}

Operations Brothers’ Keeper and Protective Edge represent the imposition of a regime of warehousing, of outright imprisonment of an entire people. The seemingly blind and atavistic destruction and hatred unleashed on the Palestinians over the past few weeks is not merely yet another “round of violence” in an interminable struggle. It is the declaration of a new political reality. The message is clear, unilateral and final: This country has been Judaized: it is now the Land of Israel in the process of being incorporated into the state of Israel. You Arabs (or “Palestinians” as you call yourselves) are not a people and have no national rights, certainly to our exclusively Jewish country. You are not a “side” to a “conflict.” Once and for all we must disabuse you of the notion that we are actually negotiating with you. We never have and never will. You are nothing but inmates in prison cells, and we hereby declare through our military and political actions that you have three options before you: You can submit as inmates are required to you, in which case we will allow you to remain in your enclave-cells. You can leave, as hundreds of thousands have done before you. Or, if you choose to resist, you will die.

As Tikun Olam’s Richard Silverstein just reported…

Israeli Invasion to Begin in “Coming Hours”

In a recent post, I published a State Department notice it was evacuating U.S. citizens from Gaza. The message asked those wishing to leave to provide necessary contact information by the morning of July 11th (yesterday). I predicted that meant an Israeli invasion would happen the next day (July 12th) or the following one. True to form, Israel Radio aired this announcement minutes ago:

A senior military source says that the IDF will mount a significant military operation in the coming hours, after the [civilian] population is cleared from areas from which rockets are fired, mainly in northern Gaza. Residents [to be cleared] will receive announcements, SMS messages, media bulletins and leaflets. According to the military source, this type of operation is accepted under international law. Israel did the same in the past in Lebanon and that experience proves a population may be cleared from an area exploited for the purposes of acts of terror.

To be clear, the news item announces a “significant [new] military operation.” I’ve interpreted this (reasonably I think) as the expected ground invasion. You often have to interpret such statements from Israeli military-intelligence sources using previous experience and understanding of sub-text. A lot is communicated through hints and coded language. AP has also confirmed the IDF was clearing northern Gaza in preparation for “stepping up its offensive.” {…}

This is the moment so many of us have expected and dreaded. It is the crossing of the Rubicon. From here, Israel crosses over from a massive, punishing air assault to outright invasion. The Obama administration and United Nations, which have stood by thus far impotently, must rouse themselves from moral torpor and act decisively. Of course, they will wait until the killing becomes even more senseless than it already is. If they act at all.

Here is the latest ineffectual pap from the State Department on the crisis: Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: The I/P, Egypt, House of Saud, Syria, and Turkey

8:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Bibi is relentless in his Zionist pursuits…

Netanyahu to settlers: I’m fighting for you, but there are international constraints

Netanyahu tells settler leaders he is their ‘greatest defender,’ but his hands are tied by ‘international’ considerations.

Leaders of the Yesha Council of settlements met Wednesday evening with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and asked him to bring an end to the months-long freeze on planning, construction, and marketing of West Bank and East Jerusalem housing.

The ever-vile FM Avigdor Lieberman… Regard settlements as ‘legal under international law’

On the other side of the ledger… Palestinians scoop Israel with pope at wall image

And, finally Fatah and Hamas seem to be truly getting their sh*t together… Palestinian unity government to be announced in the middle of this week

So naturally… Kerry: Israel’s reaction to Fatah-Hamas unity talks ‘appropriate’ US secretary of state says Jerusalem’s wait-and-see approach to formation of Palestinian reconciliation government is “appropriate.”

Wait and See‘ my arse…! Abbas: Israel has told us if we form a govt they will boycott PA

Basically, it boils down to…Israel Vows to Blame Abbas for Everything Hamas Does Now And punish both Fatah and Hamas at the same time, total win-win for Bibi…!

On a side note, good old DiFi doing what she does best… Feinstein Takes Trust But Verify Approach on Israeli Spying How much more verification do you need that they’re the worst perpetrators…?

*Bonus points to those that watch Max Blumenthal debating Prof. Mira Sucharov in Toronto… Public Record – Can Israel Exist as both Jewish and Democratic?

Moving next-door…

To be clear, Sisi’s sole ‘opponent’… Sabbahi concedes defeat in Egypt presidential election

Funny thing tho… Egypt presidential vote flawed, international observers say And, always be careful of what ya wish for… In Egypt, a pyrrhic landslide victory Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Abunimah, Al-Sisi, and Erdoğan

5:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

I’m certainly looking forward to Ali Abunimah’s FDL Book Salon…!

Now, delving into the muck and mire of the MENA, from Al Jazeera, talk about real Benghazi redux…

Libya army imposes no fly zone over Benghazi

Army issues direct challenge to retired general who has mounted unauthorised campaign against Islamists.

The Libyan army has imposed a no fly zone over Benghazi in a direct challenge to a retired general who has been using government aircraft and troops in an unauthorised campaign against Islamist groups.

Major General Khalifa Haftar, who lived in exile in the United States before returning home to lead ground forces in the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, heads what he calls a “National Army”.

On Friday his paramilitary force, backed by warplanes and helicopters, pounded Islamist fighters in Libya’s second biggest city, in clashes that killed at least 36 people and injured another 138.

Interim Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni denounced Haftar’s forces as “outlaws” and called on all parties to observe restraint.

But earlier on Saturday, Haftar said he would continue his campaign to free Benghazi of “terrorist groups”.

“The operation will continue until Benghazi is purged of terrorists,” Haftar told Libya Awalan television.

Evacuation call

Armed forces chief of staff Abdessalam Hadallah al-Salihin denied any army involvement in the Benghazi clashes, although he admitted that some officers and army units had defected to join Haftar.

Later, Haftar spokesman Colonel Mohammad al-Hegazi called on people living in the western Benghazi district of Guwersha and the south’s Sidi Fradj to evacuate their homes.

He did not say if this was a prelude to attacks on those neighbourhoods, which are known to be bastions of the Islamists.

The army’s high command then upped the ante by declaring all of Benghazi and its suburbs a “no fly zone until further notice,” the state-run LANA news agency said.

“All military planes flying over the city will be shot down by army units… and units of the revolutionaries (ex-rebels),” it said.

Now, if that isn’t f*cked up enough, lo and behold, this foul f*ckery…

Will Al Sisi repeat Saddam’s mistake and attack eastern Libya for oil?

A breaking news item reported by Al-Jazeera Channel earlier today, 16 May, confirmed that aircrafts were bombing locations belonging to Ansar Al-Shar’ah (Supporters of Shari’ah) and the 17 February Battalions in Benghazi.

Previously, the Algerian Al-Khabar newspaper reported on 12 May that an Israeli website close to the security circles in Tel Aviv said that an American report had warned that Abdul-Fattah Al-Sisi might use the pretext of terrorism along the Egyptian – Libyan borders in order to justify a military operation against the Libyans.

These developments come amid widespread and continuous reports in the Egyptian mass media claiming that a so-called “Egyptian Free Army” was present in eastern Libya.

Al-Khabar noted that the Israeli website Debka said that Field Marshal Al-Sisi, the presidential candidate, plans to resolve Egypt’s economic crisis at the expense of Libyan oil resources. The website explained that Al-Sisi is using the pretext of terrorism along the Egyptian – Libyan borders in order to justify a military operation against the Libyans that will result in the theft of large quantities of oil in Libya’s eastern region.

The report highlighted the anxiety of the United States, which supply Field Marshal Al-Sisi with Apache fighter aircraft. The former army chief, it is believed, now has his sight set on the oil in eastern Libya and that the arms he seeks to obtain from the US will be used to wage war on that country.

According to the Israeli report, Egypt’s Head of Intelligence Muhammad Farid Al-Tuhamy, visited Washington recently and submitted to the U.S. administration a detailed explanation of the threats posed by Al-Qaeda in the Suez region and the area along the borders with Libya. He said to the Americans that fighters from The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) come to Egypt via Jordan and that the regime in Egypt is fighting them. The report also hinted that Al-Sisi may use the American weapons, including the Apache combat aircraft, which were delivered to him by Washington recently, to carry out an offensive in eastern Libya.

Meanwhile, American sources quoted by the World Tribune, claim that the Egyptian army have secured U.S. endorsement and confidence to fight terrorism in the region. According to these sources, the US gave the Egyptian army the green light to launch a military operation in Libya to eradicate the Islamic groups and bomb some of the locations whose specific details were provided by Washington.

Meanwhile, Al Sisi needs to check his own six…

Anan to Sisi: You will be sentenced to death soon

A group of officers supporting Egyptian former chief of staff Sami Anan said that the latter is compiling evidence that would implicate presidential candidate Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi in crimes punishable by death.

The “Officers of Egypt Front” said on its Facebook page Friday that Anan is “promising to expose secrets” that would lead to a death sentence against Sisi.

According to the page, known for its backing of Anan as a presidential candidate before he quit the race, said: “Anan decided to leave Sisi for Egyptians to judge him by themselves. He will then return powerfully after Sisi’s arrest, soon.”

In wrapping up…

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…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

“Your ‘independence’ day is our Nakba”

6:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Yesterday marked Israel’s 66th Independence Day, and a good time was had by many…

Parental love, Israeli-style

Does a parent love his toddler when he sends him to crawl on Independence Day in the sand under a fence, a huge army backpack attached to his little body? Does a father love his son when he sends him to kindergarten to return with a memorial candle and Holocaust kit in hand? Does a mother love a daughter when she bakes a cake for a soldier who will come to kindergarten and tell the little one about his heroic acts in the territories? Do we love our children when we sign them up for the monstrous ‘Adopt-a-barricade’ campaign?

Do we love them when we send them to high schools that compete with one another for the most graduates enlisting in combat units and even take pride in the number of fallen? Do we really love our children when we agree to their starting Holocaust studies practically from age zero? Do we really love them when we agree for the school to show them horrendous images from a terror attack? Do parents who remain quiet, or who may even get excited, when the brainwashing campaigns planting fear, jingoism and militarism begin here earlier and earlier really love their children and look out for them?

Here’s Ali Abunimah’s excellent take on it…

On 6 May, Israelis celebrated their “’independence day,’ which they mark according to the Jewish lunar calendar.

Traditionally Israeli Jews hold public celebrations and picnics, especially in ‘national parks’ typically built over the ruins of ethnically cleansed and destroyed Palestinian villages.

Meanwhile, with broad support from the Israeli Jewish public, Palestinian public commemorations of the Nakba – the ethnic cleansing of Palestine – can be punished by law.

Many of the Israeli festivities are celebrations of the so-called ‘Israel Defense Forces,’ better known to Palestinians as the army that occupies them, arrests and kills their children with impunity and helps settlers to steal their land.

Some of these disturbing images of Israeli children being put through military-style training displays at Efrat, an illegal Israeli colony in the occupied West Bank, have been circulating widely online and were published in Haaretz and other media.

A repeated theme of pro-Israeli, anti-Palestinian propaganda is to circulate images of Palestinian children taking part in such militarized displays in order to advance the belief that Palestinian culture is inherently violent and ‘teaches children hate’ and that therefore Israeli violence is a justified defensive response.

But these pictures are remarkable because they reveal the extent to which Israeli culture has been militarized and how Israeli children are not immune to this – a key theme in Max Blumenthal’s book Goliath.

There is no doubt that both Israeli and Palestinian children have been subjected to this kind of brutalization by adults. It is horrifying whenever children are given guns and encouraged to imagine themselves as killers.

Such activities are arguably in violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that member countries ‘shall refrain from recruiting any person who has not attained the age of fifteen years into their armed forces.’

Here’s but one example of the spin on the Palestinian actions yesterday…

From Mondoweiss‘ Annie Robbins…

Your “independence” day is our Nakba:’ Thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel join ‘march of return’ to destroyed village of Lubya

Thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel participated in a rally and “March of Return” yesterday to commemorate the Nakba, chanting ‘Your “independence” day is our Nakba’ as Israel marked its 66th Independence Day. With flags raised high, singing the Palestinian national anthem, reportedly between 10,000 to 15,000 participants (including non-Palestinian supporters) marched to Lubya, a Palestinian village in the district of Tiberias that was ethnically cleansed and turned to rubble during the Nakba. Marchers called for unity and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

To be sure… 10,000 Palestinians hold Nakba protest in Israel

From +972 Mag…

PHOTOS: March of return to a destroyed Nakba village

On the day that many Israelis celebrated their Independence Day, thousands of Palestinian residents of Israel and Jerusalem marched to the site of the northern village of Lubya. Lubya was one of more than 500 Palestinian communities destroyed by Zionist militias in the Nakba, Arabic for ‘catastrophe,’ the term given to the forced displacement of some 750,000 refugees before, during and following the 1948 War.

So naturally, the Zionists snapped…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Egypt, Kerry’s Parapraxis, and Election Updates

4:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From the Nation

Egypt Delivers ‘Some of the Biggest Death Sentence Rulings in World History’

In the past five weeks, 1,100 people have been sentenced to death in Egypt. Although a few hundred of these convictions have been commuted, and more are expected to be overturned on appeal, these sham trials signal a troubling turn for Egypt’s judiciary. And it’s not just the death sentences. Democracy Now! correspondent and Nation Institute fellow Sharif Abdel Kouddous ticks off a list of actions that shows a judiciary increasingly aligning itself with Egypt’s rulers: a group of police officers acquitted for the murder of seventeen protesters; Al Jazeera journalists on trial for espionage; a ban on the April 6 Youth movement, which has actively railed against Egypt’s despots since 2008. ‘More than any other time in recent history,’ says Kouddous, ‘the Egyptian judiciary seems to be a willing partner in state repression.’

Naturally… Egypt rejects criticism of Brotherhood mass death sentences

Moving along to Kerry’s Freudian slip…

As Haaretz wrote…

U.S., Jewish groups slam Kerry over ‘apartheid’ comment

AIPAC, ADL criticize remarks by Secretary of State; House majority leader Eric Cantor calls on him to apologize.

Jewish groups slammed Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday over his warning that without a two-state solution, Israel risks becoming an apartheid state.

The pro-Israel lobby AIPAC released a statement saying it was ‘deeply troubled’ by Kerry’s comments. ‘Any suggestion that Israel is, or is at risk of becoming, an apartheid state is offensive and inappropriate. The Jewish state is a shining light for freedom and opportunity in a region plagued by terror, hate and oppression,’ the statement read.

Earlier on Monday, the Daily Beast reported on Kerry’s statements, which he made last Friday at a closed meeting in Washington before senior officials from the U.S., Europe, Russia and Japan.

AIPAC also said that is ‘shares President Obama’s perspective that while there is a political conflict between Israel and the Palestinians that needs to be resolved, the use of the term “apartheid” to characterize Israel is inaccurate and unhelpful.’

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters that Kerry was simply expressing his position, which is shared by many others, and that the two-state solution is the only way Israel could remain a Jewish state that lives in peace with the Palestinians. She added that similar positions have been expressed by Israeli leaders such as Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni. Kerry believes Israel ‘is a vibrant democracy with equal right to all it citizens,’ she said…

Needless to say, the AIPAC crew made sure it was a Bipartisan affair…

Kerry declines to say Israel gives ‘equal rights for all citizens’

Last night US Secretary of State John Kerry issued a craven statement climbing down from his comments in a private meeting last Friday that Israel would become an ‘apartheid state’ without a ‘two-state solution.’

Faced with howls of outrage from extreme anti-Palestinian groups, objections from Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer (California) and an outright call for his resignation from Republican Senator Ted Cruz (Texas), the hapless Kerry may have felt he had no choice.

Sen. Barbara Boxer @SenatorBoxer

Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and any linkage between Israel and apartheid is nonsensical and ridiculous.

…Yet with all Kerry’s abject willingness to appease, there is an interesting difference between his final published statement and the comments made on his behalf by State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki earlier in the day.

At the usual morning briefing, Psaki said ’the Secretary [Kerry] does not believe and did not state publicly or privately that Israel is an apartheid state, and there’s an important difference there. Israel is obviously a vibrant democracy with equal rights for all of its citizens.’

The press statement Kerry issued later in the day contains similar language: ‘First, Israel is a vibrant democracy and I do not believe, nor have I ever stated, publicly or privately, that Israel is an apartheid state or that it intends to become one.’

But note that while Kerry repeated the claim that Israel is a ‘vibrant democracy,’ he pointedly did not repeat Psaki’s assertion from earlier in the day that Israel provides ‘equal rights for all of its citizens.’

As Consortium News described it… Kerry Grovels over Israeli ‘Apartheid’

Talk is cheap, Folks…! Israel Approved 14,000 New Settlement Units, Demolished 500 Palestinian Structures During Talks

A great TRNN clip on the Palestinian Unity bid…

Some more Electronic Intifada… Asked about Kerry, Tutu says Israel “mirror image” of apartheid

Meanwhile… Israel holding 9 Palestinian legislators without charge or trial

Looking at Iraq’s elections…

Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Egypt, House of Saud, I/P Peace Farce, and Turkey

4:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From Trita Parsi, in The National Interest…

Why the Saudis Are Panicking

As President Barack Obama must have noticed during his visit, there is a panicky tone to almost everything the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does these days, whether it’s campaigning for two years to win a coveted seat on the UN Security Council only to give it up immediately after the vote, or its public pronouncements of going it alone in the chaos of Syria, or its break with its fellow Arab state Qatar, or the closing of the Al Jazeera office in Riyadh, or the banning of the books of renowned Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish. Or, of course, its opposition to diplomacy over Iran’s nuclear program and the prospects of a US-Iranian thaw.

Riyadh’s opposition to the Iran nuclear talks has largely been understood in the context of the larger Saudi-Iranian and Sunni-Shia rivalry. Consequently, Saudi’s negative reaction was predictable, the argument goes. The Saudi royal house would undoubtedly not sit idly by as its regional rival negotiated its way out of harsh sanctions and into a potential US-Iranian rapprochement that could pave the way for an American tilt towards Tehran—all at the expense of Saudi interests. {…}

The new reality is that in spite of Riyadh’s massive arms purchase from the US, Washington will likely not come to its aid if the Arab spring reaches Saudi. This means that a critical avenue for Saudi Arabia to ensure regime survival is in jeopardy—at best—or, at worst, lost…

I liked how Trita cited an old DSW post on how the Sauds are willing to go it alone in Syria…!

Speaking of Syria, from the Council on Foreign Relations…

Syria Civil War Total Fatalities

Estimates released today by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) portray a different picture of the civil war in Syria than U.S. policymakers and media convey. SOHR’s estimated death toll reinforces the point made in an article published on ForeignPolicy.com in September 2013, when they last released updated data: most of the reported deaths in Syria have not been committed by forces under Bashar al-Assad’s command. Additionally, the involvement of various individuals and groups in the conflict has broadened greatly since SOHR’s September 2013 estimate.

Meanwhile, right next door…

Moving along to Egypt, the Coup regime is tightening the screws on the Muslim Brotherhood… Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

The I/P Peace Farce

4:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

(Pls watch from the 40 min mark, at least!)

From today’s Ma’an News…

PA: Israel settlements led to peace talks impasse

US-sponsored peace talks with Israel have reached an impasse because of Jewish settlement activity, a Palestinian spokesman said, as plans for over 2,000 West Bank units were moved forward.

The latest crisis comes as Washington scrambles for a formula to allow the Palestinians and Israelis to carry on the peace talks beyond an April 29 deadline.

“Israel’s settlement activity caused the negotiations to fail and led them to an impasse,” Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, told AFP.

Abu Rudeina was reacting to the decision of an Israeli defense ministry committee, revealed earlier on Thursday, to push forward with plans to build 2,269 new West Bank homes.

A ministry spokesman said last month the committee had approved the building of 1,015 units in Leshem, Beit El and Almog, leaving Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon’s approval as the final step.

The same committee approved 1,254 units in Ariel, Shvut Rachel and Shavei Shomron. Those projects will be published in the media for public comment before returning to the committee for further discussion.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are teetering on the brink of collapse, with Washington fighting an uphill battle to get the two sides to agree to a framework proposal to extend the negotiations to the year’s end.

To be sure…

From hocus pocus to open sesame to recognition as Jewish state: It’s a kind of magic

Forget refugees, settlements, Jerusalem or security: Everyone is waiting for Abbas to say the magic words that will launch a whole new world, presto-change-o.

To the long list of such enchanted incantations as open sesame, hocus pocus, and bibbedy-bobbedy-boo, we can now add “recognition as a Jewish state.” If Mahmoud Abbas would only say the magic words, then presto-change-o, the walls will come tumbling down, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will end and we’ll have a whole new world, shining, shimmering and splendid.

This, at least, the impression one gets from the focus of the discussion in recent weeks about U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s struggling peace initiative. Forget once-burning but now-boring issues such as settlements, security, refugees, borders, Jerusalem or Temple Mount: recognition as Jewish state is the only game in town. Once the words are said, it’s going to be wham-bam-alakazaam, welcome to the magic kingdom.

It’s not for nothing that Benjamin Netanyahu was once widely known in Israel as hakosem, the magician. His mastery of the media, his meteoric rise in the Likud, his utterly fantastic victory over Shimon Peres in the 1996 elections – all of these endowed Bibi with a supernatural mystique. And while the magic didn’t last forever and Netanyahu was subsequently subjected to a barrage of obligatory clichés – his spell is broken, no more tricks up his sleeve, King Midas in reverse etc – once an illusionist, always an illusionist. He’s still got plenty of wizardry left up his sleeves.

Standing up to AIPAC means supporting Israeli dissidents

The voice of ‘pro-Israel’ militarism has been ringing through the halls of Washington D.C. since the 1970s. Now, to end the occupation, American citizens must couple their opposition to AIPAC with support for anti-occupation groups in Israel.

BDS works…! Boycott movement has empowered Palestinians, says co-founder

However, it seems the PA is not the solution either, from Haaretz…

The Palestinian Authority is on the brink of collapse, study says

Only achieving statehood could save the West Bank from an impending wave of violence, crime, chaos, disease, says major Palestinian report

The breakdown of the Palestinian Authority would turn the West Bank into a violent, criminal, chaotic, disease-ridden place. But even though most Palestinians want the PA to survive, either for the sake of basic social order or personal interest, and although Israel dreads having to resume responsibility for 3 million West Bankers, President Mahmoud Abbas’ regime will collapse before too long if Israel continues to thwart Palestinian aspirations for independence.

This is the conclusion of a massive six-month study by the highly-regarded Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, directed by Dr. Khalil Shikaki.

A great many Palestinians have a deeply vested interest in the PA’s continued existence, Shikaki notes. Connections with the PA bring “financial well being, social and political status in society, and there are circles that depend on their relation to PA. Anything that happens to the PA will take all of that away from them. These could be organizations, business interests or individuals who have positions of power that allow them to reward sympathizers.

“If they could call the shots, they would do their best to prevent [the PA’s collapse],” Shikaki said, “But even those who have a vested interest in satisfying Israel, for the sake of preserving the PA, cannot do it for too long.”

If ordinary Palestinians still support the existence of the PA, it’s because they have a need for some kind of order, he adds. “People do not want to see themselves without a central authority that prevents chaos and anarchy in the streets, even if they have a lot of criticism of the PA and its functioning. But the Palestinians are willing to risk it collapsing completely, if it happens in the midst of a struggle for a change in the status quo. If there is a good reason for it to collapse, then [the attitude is] let it be.”

The PA is 20 years old, but voices questioning its efficacy were already being heard at the start of the second intifada in 2000. They’ve returned and intensified over the past two or three years, as it has become clear that the PA is not delivering on either of the two goals it was established to achieve: statehood and the provision of public services. Add to this the increasing economic difficulties and the rupture with the Gaza Strip, and the picture of failure is complete.

And, I have to agree with Abbas’ son… Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Iran, Israel, Libya, and Syria

6:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As the dynamic duo of Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett wrote recently…

The Use of Force, the Reflexive Resort to Economic Sanctions, and the Trials of America’s Hegemonic Mindset

As negotiations toward a “final” nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran continue, it is important to consider to what extent the world might be witnessing a fundamental change in American foreign policy. We are inclined to think that the Obama administration would not have gone as far down the diplomatic road with Iran as it has in the absence of President Obama’s self-inflicted debacle over his declared intention to attack Syria after chemical weapons were used there in August 2013. This episode drove home—to the Obama administration as well as to most of the rest of the world—that the United States can no longer credibly threaten to use military force in the Middle East for hegemonic purposes.

After the American public so resoundingly rebuffed Obama’s call for U.S. military action, his administration was compelled to conclude that starting down the diplomatic road with Iran was politically less costly than pushing for more sanctions and continuing to insist that the “military option” was still “on the table.” But can the Obama administration really go all the way to a comprehensive realignment of relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran—and, in the process, show that the United States can shift proactively from a counterproductive drive to dominate the Middle East to serious engagement with all important regional powers, and not just slink out of region in defeat?

Making such a shift will require Washington to relinquish the self-damaging delusion that the United States can actually maintain hegemony in the Middle East on an open-ended basis. America’s reaction to the ongoing Ukraine crisis suggests that American elites are having a very difficult time giving up this delusion.

Interestingly…

Sanctions on Russia over Ukraine not expected to damage delicate diplomacy on Syria, Iran

…The U.S. focus on chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict fulfills Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal of keeping Syrian President Bashar Assad in power, and Russian influence in the talks on Iran’s nuclear program has diminished, according to analysts who specialize in U.S.-Russian relations.Those conclusions suggest that the State Department’s compartmentalization policy will succeed, avoiding a severing of U.S.-Russian ties but still light years away from what the Obama administration once had envisioned as a “reset” with Moscow…

Moving along…

Israelis suspected of trying to buy Libyan oil from seized tanker

Two Israelis and a Senegalese national were questioned in Cyprus in connection with an oil tanker loaded from a rebel-held port in Libya, the island’s CNA news agency reported Monday.

It said police in the coastal city of Larnaca questioned the three on Saturday on suspicion of negotiating to buy crude from the tanker, Morning Glory.

A Larnaca court declined to issue arrest warrants as authorities in Cyprus had no evidence that the alleged offence was committed within its territorial waters.

Local media said the three flew in to Larnaca on a private jet late Friday, hired a boat from the marina and went out to the tanker to negotiate with the crew.

Police monitored their movements and the boat was intercepted once they were back in Cyprus waters. The trio flew out to Tel Aviv on Sunday night.

In Washington, the Pentagon said US Navy Seals early Monday boarded and took control of the Morning Glory in international waters southeast of Cyprus.

It was to be taken back to Libya.

Meanwhile, in Israel…

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by CTuttle

Israel’s ‘Trigger Happy’ Ways

8:45 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From Alex Kane at Mondoweiss…

Gaza heats up: Israel bombards coastal enclave under siege with multiple airstrikes

The immediate cause of the latest round of fighting in the Gaza Strip, which featured rockets and mortars fired into Israel and air attacks on the coastal enclave, occurred over the last two days. But the roots of the latest fighting are Israeli violations of the November 2012 truce between Hamas and Israel, and the years-long blockade and occupation crippling the Gaza Strip.

Yesterday, the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad attacked Israeli soldiers said to be advancing towards the Gaza Strip. In response, an Israeli airstrike killed three fighters. That, in turn, caused Islamic Jihad to unleash a barrage of some 70 projectiles into southern Israeli communities. No injures in Israel have been reported.

The Palestinian group said that its attacks were a way to avenge the deaths of six Palestinians killed in the West Bank and Gaza in recent days, as Allison Deger reported here.

The rockets and mortars fired into Israeli territory were the most significant Palestinian counter-attack since the end of Operation Pillar of Defense in late 2012. The Islamic Jihad attacks caused some Israeli officials to act tough, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying Israel needed to “reoccupy” Gaza–most likely bluster, since the Israeli military has no interest in actually doing so.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that “if there won’t be quiet in the south, there will be noise in Gaza – a lot of noise, and this is an understatement.”

Sure enough, Israel reportedly launched 29 airstrikes and attacked Islamic Jihad positions with artillery. According to Ma’an News Agency, no Palestinians have been killed or injured, perhaps reflecting an Israeli intention to escalate just enough so that peace talks with the West Bank leadership continue. Islamic Jihad and Hamas also have little interest in provoking an all-out assault.

Still, even if this latest escalation doesn’t immediately break out into full-scale war, it’s one more step on the way towards that path. That’s because the Egyptian and U.S.-brokered ceasefire from 2012 between Palestinian militant groups–including Islamic Jihad and Hamas–has been threatened by repeated Israeli violations. And it’s those Israeli violations that have provoked rocket fire into Israel.

From MEMO…

Isolating Gaza to justify Israel’s continuous state terror

The latest Israeli violent incitement against Palestinians in Gaza has been distorted into the usual rhetoric of defence. Following the murder of three resistance fighters in Khan Younis by Israeli soldiers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised further violence in the wake of Palestinian retaliation against the murders.

“If there is no quiet in our south, no quiet for the residents of Israel, there will be noise, lots of noise in Gaza. And that’s putting it mildly,” he said. The threat was uttered in the presence of Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron, who upheld Netanyahu’s distorted reality and defended the settler-colonial state’s self-imposed right to defend itself. According to Cameron, Israeli aggression against Gaza’s legitimate resistance illustrates “the importance of maintaining and securing Israel’s future and the security threats you face, and you have Britain’s support in facing those security threats.”

Cameron deemed legitimate resistance “indiscriminate, aimed at civilian populations” and a reflection of barbarism. The statement evokes an accurate depiction of Israel’s settler-colonial state and its constant refinement of atrocities to maintain its illegal presence in Palestine, supported by its imperialist allies. {…}

The statements attest to the enforced permanent isolation of Gaza. Gaza has never relinquished its right to resistance; hence the regurgitated argument disseminated by mainstream media excusing Israeli violence as a consequence of rocket attacks is invalid. Resistance is the legitimate and necessary response to Israel’s colonial and imperialist-supported terror; a means to combat the sanctioned illegality endorsed by the UN. Gaza’s resistance does not contribute to the destabilisation of the region. However, the pervading discourse hailed as absolute truth is indicative of Israel’s commitment to incarcerate Palestinians in Gaza, this time in collaboration with a neighbouring country which has already proved its allegiance to Israel.

“Collective punishment”, the convenient term describing Israel’s brutality against Palestinians, should be rendered obsolete. In case of another superfluous Zionist campaign aimed at consolidating Israel’s “defence”, it is worth remembering that the sole entities which can claim defence are historic Palestine and the Palestinian population. Any Zionist actions against Palestinian land, people and memory is nothing but an extension of refined colonial violence, displaying Israel’s constant need to protect its illegal settler presence upon land it can never claim to own – a fact proven by Palestinian resistance.

A look-see at Cameron’s recent Knesset appearance… Read the rest of this entry →