Aletho News


Pakistanis: We want the U.S. out. New York Times: No, you don’t.

By Justin Doolittle | CrimeThink | May 26, 2013

The A1 story in Sunday’s New York Times, written by Declan Walsh, is titled “U.S. Shift Poses Risk to Pakistan.” The story argues that, with the United States gradually dwindling down its political and military engagement with Pakistan, the latter faces a highly uncertain future. Walsh tells us that the disengagement will “diminish” the “prestige” and “political importance” Pakistan held as a “crucial player in global counterterrorism efforts” and could very well “upset its internal stability.”

It’s a piece that is revealing because one voice is noticeably left out of the analysis: that of the Pakistani people. Arguably the most salient fact about the U.S.-Pakistan dynamic is that Pakistanis – you know, the actual human beings who live in that country – despise the U.S. government and think the interaction between the two countries does more harm than good. Gallup conducted polling on these matters in Pakistan last year. An amazing 92% of Pakistanis expressed disapproval of U.S. leadership (i.e. Obama), while 4% approved. In a separate poll, 55% of Pakistanis reported that interaction with the West constitutes “more of a threat”; just 39% thought it was “more of a benefit.”

In a surprising development, Pakistanis don’t seem to support flagrant intrusions on their sovereignty, drone strikes that kill their fellow citizens, and a corrupt, secretive military government that regularly colludes with the U.S. (as of October, just 23% of Pakistanis expressed “confidence” in their government, which Gallup reports is widely viewed as being “too cozy” with the U.S.).

The Times article does not pay much attention to the thoughts and opinions of the Pakistani people, though. They’re background players and largely irrelevant. Walsh instead quotes a single Pakistani academic to support the article’s thesis; at other times in the piece he relies on unnamed “analysts” and “experts.” The only other individual he does quote on this narrow question of whether or not American disengagement “poses a risk” for Pakistan, a former Pakistani foreign minister, explicitly rejects the notion, saying that “less American involvement is good, not bad.”

The article concludes by stressing that, in fact, this alleged “shift” in the U.S.’s posture toward Pakistan is largely illusory, with “few” doubting that America “will remain deeply involved in Pakistan.” A former Obama administration official confidently predicts that the “mutual dependency” between the two countries “will not go away.” This basically undermines the entire point of the story.

Declan Walsh is a good reporter and he has spent a lot of time in Pakistan. But his virtual ignoring of the Pakistanis’ clearly expressed thoughts on these matters is instructive (the extent of the Pakistanis’ role in the article is a single sentence pointing out that drone strikes “stoked anger”). Consider the reverse scenario. Let’s say Pakistan had been propping up a corrupt military government here in the United States for years with aid and support. Pakistan was violating U.S. sovereignty at will, assassinating residents it considers a threat to Pakistani security, dumping their corpses in the ocean. Pakistan flew robots over American skies, from which missiles were regularly launched, killing American men, women, and children. Now imagine how we would feel if the most esteemed newspaper in the world published an article about all of this on its front page that completely ignored the will of the American public and disregarded our opinions.

Perhaps, when discussing geopolitics, we should consider the views of the populations themselves, and not just governments and elites. It’s a radical notion, but it just might make sense.

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Comments Off on Pakistanis: We want the U.S. out. New York Times: No, you don’t.


CPTnet | May 27, 2013

Because of the dire economic situation in the Old City in Hebron every day children go to the Ibrahimi Mosque soup-kitchen to get food. Walking out through the mosque checkpoint shortly after noon on Sunday 26 May, I was surprised by the number of people standing at the other end of the checkpoint.

Upon passing out through the checkpoint I realized that the turnstile to enter the mosque area was closed and nobody was being allowed through. A dozen young boys held plastic tubs of soup they had collected at the soup kitchen. They told us they had been waiting for around half an hour. As the queue of people wanting to get through increased, so did the boys’ frustration. They started ramming the turnstile and shouting to be let through. The Border Police ignored them. Women with babies lengthened the queue.

A man said the turnstiles had lost electricity. This seemed highly unlikely to me, though, as the lights were still on in the tunnel above the turnstile and I am sure there must be a backup in case of fire or other emergency. My suspicion was confirmed when Border Police allowed some of the young boys through only to turn the turnstiles off again and trap the boys in the middle between the two turnstiles. The Border Police repeated this twice, trapping young boys and women in a fenced corridor between the two turnstiles.

For me this highlights how vulnerable people are here. The Border Police won’t let members of Christian Peacemaker Teams through the checkpoint unless we take off our CPT hats. I find this very frustrating, but imagine visiting a soup kitchen and being stopped on your way back home by a young Border Policeman who doesn’t want to let you through the turnstile. A day can quickly turn from positive to negative. Nothing happened today, but one day it might. Imagine day after day being stopped and reminded how susceptible you are to the whims of another person literally preventing you from returning home.

The power imbalance between the children trying to get through the checkpoint and the Border Police stopping them is huge. The Border Policeman has the whole weight of the occupation behind him. Border Police officers do not make mistakes. If they shoot a youth they are praised, such as when the female Border Police officer shot 17-year-old Mohammed Salayme in Hebron in December 2012. If they arrest children and break international law, no one will penalize them.

As Gordon Levy explained in a 23 May Haaretz opinion piece, Border Police learn to behave rudely and to solve problems with weapons, and they are rewarded for doing so. But if Palestinian children get too rowdy at the checkpoint or respond in any way, they could easily end up in Israeli prisons, after enduring hours of interrogation with no lawyer, parent or guardian present.

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran launches Gorgan-Incheh Borun railroad

Press TV – May 27, 2013

Iran has officially inaugurated a railroad which connects the northern Iranian city of Gorgan to Incheh Borun town along the border with Turkmenistan.

The Gorgan-Incheh Borun railroad came on stream in a ceremony attended by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Roads and Urban Development Minister Ali Nikzad in Golestan Province on Monday.

The 80-kilometer long rail project, which is part of a broader railroad network, links Iran to Central Asia, Russia and China and has the capacity to annually transfer 10 million tons of goods and more than 4 million passengers.

The initial agreement on the construction of the railroad was signed between the presidents of Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan in the city of Turkmenbashi in April 2007 and Iran joined the deal in September 2007.

The 920-kilometer railroad will shorten more than 600 kilometers of the route for transporting goods from the Central Asia to the Persian Gulf, and will become one of the important international transportation links between China and Europe.

Earlier on Sunday, Nikzad said projects are underway to connect Iran’s railway system to the international network via five points.

The Iranian minister said the five projects include linking Sarakhs in the northeast of the country to Azerbaijan Republic, Khosravy in the west of Iran’s Kermanshah Province to Iraq, southern border town of Shalamche to Iraq, southeastern port city of Chabahar to the Sea of Oman as well as the one which will link Iran to Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and China.

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Comments Off on Iran launches Gorgan-Incheh Borun railroad

Free Sireen Sawafteh – Arrested by Israel on the 14th May 2013

International Solidarity Movement | May 27, 2013

image-150x150Tubas, Occupied Palestine – Last Tuesday Sireen Sawafteh, a 24 year old woman from Tubas, was detained by Israeli forces. She is currently being held in Al Jalameh, an Israeli prison. Her family and friends fear for her safety. She has been denied access to a lawyer and she has not been allowed to make any contact with her loved ones since her arrest.

At around 3pm last Tuesday Sireen’s car was stopped at a temporary checkpoint on the road between Nablus and Tubas in the West Bank. After brief questioning by Israeli forces she was detained. The second person in the car was also detained.

In the early hours on Wednesday, Israeli forces raided Sireen’s family home whilst her father Khalid Sawafteh, her mother, three brothers, sisters in law and their two young children were sleeping. Twenty-five army jeeps entered the town of Tubas. Twenty officers entered the home and over one hundred remained in the street cornering off the house. The family and young children were all taken into one room whilst their home was ransacked. Israeli soldiers took all the computers in the house leaving Sireen’s relatives in shock.

Tubas is located in Area A as designated under the Oslo Accords, an agreement drawn up between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government. ‘Legally’ it is under total Palestinian civil and military control. Israeli civilians and military are prohibited to enter Area A and any incursion into this area is considered a breach of this agreement. Despite this, Israeli forces have continue to carry out ‘operations’ in Area A.

The illegal incursion on Wednesday morning sparked protests in Tubas. Israeli forces fired tear gas and sound grenades at local residents as they gathered. Omar Abed al-Razaq, a 20 year old local university student from Nablus, was injured. He is in a serious but stable condition in Nablus Hospital. He has lost some of his fingers and is currently unable to communicate with his visitors. The full extent of his injuries are not yet known. The head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society in Tubas, Mahmud Sawafteh, denounced Israel’s continuous raids, which he says causes ‘fear and panic among residents (1).’

Since her detention, Sireen has been forcibly transferred out of the Occupied Palestinian Territories to an Israeli prison in Haifa located in the north of Israel, a practice illegal under international law.

Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the cccupying power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive”. While Article 76 states clearly that ‘protected persons accused of offenses shall be detained in the occupied country, and if convicted they shall serve their sentences therein”.

Last Thursday, lawyers acting for Sireen tried to visit the prison inside Israel where she is being held. They were refused entry. She appeared in court on Monday with her hands and legs shackled. The spurious charge was internet activism, creating a Facebook page which is considered a ‘threat’ to the ‘security’ of the region.

Sireen is active in the non violent campaign for human rights in Palestine. She studied computer science at the Open University in Tubas. During her studies she was actively involved in a twinning project between Tubas and the University of Sussex, England. She took part in a delegation of students which visited the UK from Palestine to strengthen links and foster friendships.

Rashed Kahled, Sireen’s older brother said; ‘We in the family are very concerned for Sireen and we would love her to be returned to us soon. My mother is very sad and fears for Sireen, she cannot sleep. How can we be at peace? We do not know what is happening and we are not allowed to see her.’

Many Palestinian women prisoners suffer abuse during their detention. Palestinian women prisoners are often kept in the same cells as Israeli female convicts. This practice often leads to female Palestinian prisoners being humiliated, suffering from threats and assault perpetrated with impunity by the Israel prisoners.

Adameer, a Palestinian Prisoner Support and Human Rights Organisation reports that Palestinian women prisoners ‘are subjected to some form of psychological torture and ill-treatment throughout the process of their arrest and detention, including various forms of sexual violence that occur such as beatings, insults, threats, body searches, and sexually explicit harassment. Upon arrest, women detainees are not informed where they are being taken and are rarely explained their rights during interrogation. These techniques of torture and ill-treatment are used not only as means to intimidate Palestinian women detainees, but also as tools to humiliate Palestinian women and coerce them into giving confessions (2).’

Sireen was in court for the second time this Wednesday. The judge extended her detention for a further 6 days. She will appear again on Monday, when it is possible her detention will be further extended.

Support all Palestinian Political prisoners!

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May 27, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Free Sireen Sawafteh – Arrested by Israel on the 14th May 2013

UK activists urge French singer to boycott Israel

Press TV – May 26, 2013

British campaigners have called on French Singer Julien Clerc to consider the plight of Palestinians and cancel his upcoming concert in apartheid Israel.

In a press release on its official website, the Innovative Minds (inminds) campaign group said activists picketed Clerc’s London concert on May 8, asking him to respect the Palestinians’ call for artists to boycott the Israeli regime and cancel his performance in Tel Aviv scheduled for July 7.

They also asked Clerc, as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), to stand with the 5 million Palestinian refugees and oppose the Israeli regime’s racist policies.

British campaigners were holding placards reading, “Julien don’t lend apartheid Israel your good name” and “Julien respect the Palestinian call to boycott Israel.”

Earlier this month, hundreds of pro-Palestine activists marched on the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) annual congress in London, demanding the relocation of European under-21s championships in Israel.

They said the European football’s governing body should prevent the regime from hosting the sports event on June 5-18.

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Comments Off on UK activists urge French singer to boycott Israel

Argentina: Violent Eviction of Indigenous Community Deemed Illegal

By Sabrina Hummel | The Argentina Independent | May 27, 2013

More than 20 indigenous Tonocoté families were violently evicted from their community in Santiago del Estero on Friday, it has emerged. The eviction has caused an outcry among human rights and environmental organisations from around the country.

The eviction of the area, known as Boca del Tigre, was authorised by Judge Tarchini Saavedra, and began at the crack of dawn as police mounted on horses and armed with tear gas, rubber bullets, and dogs bore down on the site, catching the families by surprise as they slept. Bulldozers meanwhile razed the settlement where the Tonocoté have lived for the last 200 years to the ground.

Despite the court order, the farmers were not shown any papers, adding to the confusion and chaos that reigned supreme during the raid.

Head of the community Reyna Sosa described the event: “They came in the dark, they fired pellets and rubber bullets at us, my three grandchildren have head injuries… my daughter, who is pregnant, suffered a leg injury.”

So far no explanation has been given as to why the police used such excessive force, or as to why they began the operation without saying a word.

Greenpeace has released a statement denouncing the events saying, “we condemn the use of repression against the historic inhabitants of the area” and affirming the illegality of the eviction given the area’s protected status under the ‘Ley de Bosques’.

Arrests were also made, and, as one neighbour put it, “they hit them everywhere… they didn’t even resist… they took them straight to the police station”.

The local newspaper, Ultima Hora, believes that the sudden expropriation of the land was initiated in response to a large upcoming real estate development.

According to the paper, they are interested in “20 hectares of land which belong to the community but which are destined for the construction of a private neighbourhood”.

Sosa expressed her desolation at the turn of events, “I feel so sad and impotent in the face of the situation – that they can come and take away what has always been yours” and pleaded that the governor of the province “have a heart… if he had one he would never have allowed them [the police] to fire at children”.

A mass is planned for next Sunday and human rights organisations and those who are sympathetic to the cause are expected to be in attendance.

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Comments Off on Argentina: Violent Eviction of Indigenous Community Deemed Illegal

Colombia: FARC and Government Reach Agreement on Land Reform

Conjunto de vallenato Fariano

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), resting in the countryside. (Photo: Phoenix Diaz)
By Avery Kelly | The Argentina Independent | May 27, 2013

Representatives from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government announced yesterday that they have signed a keynote agreement on land reform.

The accord is a big step forward for the on-going peace negotiations in Havana, Cuba between the rebel group and the government of President Juan Manuel Santos, as land reform is the first of six main issues on the agenda for discussion.

The agreement comes after nearly six months of talks on the subject.

A press release ratified by both parties stated that the accord facilitates the “start of radical transformations of the rural and agrarian reality of Colombia with fairness and democracy”.

President Santos applauded yesterday’s accord, commenting on Twitter that the land reform measure is a breakthrough for the peace talks and a “fundamental step in Havana towards a full agreement that will put an end to half a century of conflict”.

Iván Márquez, chief negotiator of the FARC, explained: “This historical recognition is felt by the rural and impoverished communities and is a flag in the wind in our hands … at the negotiation table.”

However, Márquez added that some of the points of the accord must be discussed again before negotiations end. He commented, “nothing is agreed upon until everything has been agreed upon”, referring to discussions still to come on other polemic topics in the peace talks expected to finish by August.

Land reform has been a fundamental issue for both the government and the FARC even before the peace talks began. Land disputes were one of the primary issues that the Marxist-leaning rebel group took on as early as 1964.

Now that the land reform issue has been decided, government and FARC negotiators will move discussions to the political participation of the rebel forces, the fight against drug trafficking, and an end to the conflict more generally with respect to victim compensation.

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Comments Off on Colombia: FARC and Government Reach Agreement on Land Reform

Hezbollah Intervention in Syria Redraws Political Map

By Ibrahim al-Amin | Al-Akhbar | May 27, 2013

Relations between the Bashar al-Assad regime in Damascus and the Lebanese Resistance had already reached a high-level of coordination and mutual support even before the outbreak of the Syrian crisis. At the time, the two allies tended to respect each others’ boundaries, recognizing each other’s key roles in the region.

The onset of the Syrian crisis only served to further intertwine their interests as both became targets of the Syrian opposition and their regional and international backers.

In the early stages of the uprising, Hezbollah tried to play the role of mediator, seeking ways to open up channels between the regime and the opposition. But quickly, developments – like Israel’s growing involvement in the crisis – prompted a qualitative change in the relationship between Damascus and the Lebanese Resistance.

Assad’s response to the latest Israeli attacks on Damascus would have not meant much if it did not also have the strong support of Hezbollah, Iran, and even Russia – with the Resistance openly declaring its willingness to take part in any effort to ward off Tel Aviv’s threats.

This could lead Hezbollah’s Lebanese opponents to exploit mounting sectarian tensions, particularly in Sidon and Tripoli, in order to turn up the pressure on the Resistance and its popular base.

Although Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah justified in detail his party’s involvement in Syria, he did not mention – for his own reasons – that the role of the Resistance in Syria’s internal front is not without its limits, and largely depends on the course of events there.

The party has already declared that one of its goals is to push those forces that pose a threat to the Resistance away from Syrian areas adjacent to the Lebanese border. However, when it comes to confrontation with Israel, we can expect an increased and ongoing role for Hezbollah, particularly in the occupied Golan Heights.

Price of Involvement

As for the price that Hezbollah is likely to pay for its involvement, the two rockets that struck southern Beirut on Sunday morning are but a sign that there are those preparing for a campaign of terror against the Resistance.

It is difficult to foresee the trajectory of events after Nasrallah’s call to arms alongside the Syrian regime, but early signs suggest that the coming period will be one of heightened tensions among Lebanon’s political forces, particularly as the dream of toppling Assad is slowly fading away.

This could lead Hezbollah’s Lebanese opponents to exploit mounting sectarian tensions, particularly in Sidon and Tripoli, in order to turn up the pressure on the Resistance and its popular base.

The concern here is that the country’s internal security services have shown themselves to be completely ineffective in diffusing Tripoli’s interminable sectarian violence. So what if it is discovered that the Future Movement, and those powers behind them, hold sway over the state’s internal security forces.

Finally, I invite everyone to take a different approach to the crisis facing our region: To the extent that the Americans, Europeans, and those Arabs in their service succeed in reviving the colonial legacy of division and warfare among the Arabs, this will automatically raise the question of different kind of unity for the other side, which could lead to surprising results that no one could have expected.

Let us dream and hope!

Ibrahim al-Amin is editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar.

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Chill on the Peninsula: Seoul shuns North Korea’s efforts to soothe tensions

RT | May 27, 2013

North Korea’s apparent attempts to reduce tensions with its southern neighbor found no welcome in Seoul, which has slammed the North’s proposed negotiations and a “two-faced” invitation to commemorate a key 2000 peace conference.

A landmark diplomatic summit in June 2000 inched the Korean Peninsula towards reconciliation after the then-leaders of the two Koreas – Seoul’s Kim Dae-jung and Pyongyang’s Kim Jong-il – signed a five-point plan to promote reintegration through economic and cultural ties. The summit gave birth to a tourist visit program for Mount Kumgang and the jointly operated Kaesong industrial zone.

The Northern office that promotes the implementation of the June 2000 plan faxed its Southern counterpart an invitation last Wednesday to celebrate the anniversary on Mount Kumgang, or in Kaesong. On Monday, South Korea’s Unification Ministry criticized the invitation, calling it a “two-faced” attempt to split public opinion in the country.

“If the North genuinely wants dialogue, the first step should be responding to our repeated call for working-level governmental talks on the Kaesong industrial complex,” ministry spokesperson Kim Hyung-seok said.

Seoul indicated earlier that it would likely decline the North’s proposal: “It’s not an easy decision,” a government official told Yonhap News Agency. “A lot of South Koreans may have to travel to the North, and it may entail many issues, including a safety guarantee.”

Tourist travel to the Mount Kumgang border region was suspended in 2008, after a South Korean tourist was shot and killed upon entering a military area. The Kaesong industrial zone was closed in April of this year – the latest project from the rapprochement era to be buried by tensions since conservatives took power in Seoul in 2008.

Kim also reiterated Seoul’s skepticism over Pyongyang’s recent proposal to renew six-party talks on the nuclear status of the Korean Peninsula: “Actions are more important than words.”

Pyongyang’s proposal to restart the six-party talks, which have been stalled since 2009, was delivered by envoy Choe Ryong-hae during a visit to China. The talks – involving the two Koreas, the US, China, Russia and Japan – are aimed at brokering a peaceful resolution to the debate over Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

China, Russia and Japan hailed the move, saying that it indicates North Korea’s readiness to reduce the heightened tensions in the region. But Seoul said it was skeptical because only China, not North Korea itself, had used the word “denuclearization” in describing the talks.

South Korea and the US have maintained that the North must show commitment to scrapping its nuclear program as a precondition to any formal multilateral talks. Pyongyang has said on a number of occasions recently that it will not dismantle its nuclear arsenal, in order to protect its national sovereignty from the US and its allies in the region.

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Comments Off on Chill on the Peninsula: Seoul shuns North Korea’s efforts to soothe tensions

‘UK must scrap useless, costly nukes’

Press TV – May 27, 2013

Former United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix says Britain should end its Trident nuclear weapons program as he does not see how the £100bn plan can help the country better protect itself.

The Swede told an audience of some 1,600 at the Hay literary festival that even the US is not pursuing such a “costly rearmament” and questioned whether Trident is “required to protect UK independence or UK pride”.

He also said “it would be a big gain” if Britain gets rid of its whole nuclear stockpile.

“I know that the British military are not very keen on it. I don’t think Britain would be more protected by [Trident] and Germany and Japan seem to be managing without them [nuclear weapons],” he added.

Blix also warned about the persisting “risk of armed intervention” in other countries including North Korea and Syria stressing “there is astonishing little attention paid to the legality of armed intervention”.

Britain and its western allies have kept threatening Syria with a military attack, but Blix warned that any intervention will be hugely costly in terms of lives and resources.

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Comments Off on ‘UK must scrap useless, costly nukes’

Syrian TV reporter killed by rebel sniper near Qusair

RT | May 27, 2013

Yara Abbas, a prominent female Syrian war reporter, was killed in the country’s west, Syrian officials confirmed. The country remains a dangerous place for journalists, especially as some rebel groups reportedly target them for assassination.

Abbas, 26, who worked for the privately-owned Damascus-based Al-Ikhbariyah TV (Syrian News Channel), was killed by sniper fire in a rebel attack not far from the Dabaa air base. The country’s Information Ministry offered no further details, but the pro-rebel Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that several members of her TV crew were also wounded in the attack.

The base is located near the town of Qusair in Homs Province, an area near the Lebanese border that is the site of intense ongoing fighting between the Syrian army and rebel fighters.

More than 150 reporters have been killed in the Syrian conflict as of April 2013, the Union of Syrian Journalists reported. The majority of the victims were civilian journalists or local freelancers working for professional media.

Outlets that have lost staffers in the violence include French TV station France 2, French magazine Assaut, British newspaper the Sunday Times, Japanese news agency the Japan Press, Qatari TV station Al Jazeera, Iraqi newspaper Al-Thawra and Iran’s Press TV, as well as Syria’s Al-Ikhbariyah TV, Addounia TV and Sana news agency.


Yara Abbas at work. Screenshot from @podrouga

Reporters also risk kidnap in Syria, as was the case with NBC News journalist Richard Engel and Russian-Ukrainian civilian journalist Ankhar Kochneva.

Some rebel groups specifically target journalists who work for government-affiliated outlets and international media, RT reporters were told by colleagues in Syria.

“I received confirmed news that some of the armed opposition forces are looking after the journalists working with international TV stations. This armed group is collecting a list of names. Mine is one of them. They are going to collect information about them from the Internet and keep them for future trials or assassination. You know for sure that the websites of RT, CCTV and Iran TV will be the first to be checked,” a local reporter told RT on condition of anonymity.

The ongoing civil war in Syria has claimed tens of thousands lives so far, with the UN estimating that more than 80,000 people have died in the violence.

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, War Crimes | , , , | Comments Off on Syrian TV reporter killed by rebel sniper near Qusair

Have Washington and Tel Aviv Miscalculated Events in al-Qusayr?

By Franklin Lamb | Al-Manar | May 27, 2013

Homs Province, Syria – During a tour of some of the neighborhoods in Homs, Syria’s third largest city after Aleppo and Damascus, with a pre-conflict population of approximately 800,000 (nearly half Homs residents have fled over the past two years) located maybe about 22 miles NE of the current hot-spot of al-Qusayr, this observer engaged in a few interesting conversations. More accurately labeled diatribes–with some long bearded Sunni fundamentalists who claimed they came from Jabhat al Nusra, aka Jabhat an-Nuṣrah li-Ahl ash-Shām, “Front of Defense for the People of Greater Syria”), and were preparing to return to al Qusayr to fight “the deniers of Allah”!

It is the strategic crossroads town of al-Qusayr, and its environs, which whoever controls, can block supplies and reinforcements to and from Damascus and locations north and east. For those seeking the ouster of Syria’s government, including NATO countries led by Washington, were their “allies” to lose control of al-Qusayr it would mean the cutting off of supplies from along the Lebanese border, from which most of the local opposition’s weapons flow and fighters have been smuggled over the past 26 months. If the Assad regime forces regain control of the city, Washington believes they will move north and conquer current opposition positions in Homs and Rastan, both areas being dependent on support from Lebanon and al-Qusayr. Some analysts are saying this morning, with perhaps a bit of hyperbole that as al-Qusayr goes so goes Syria and the National Lebanese Resistance, led by Hezbollah.

If government forces can retake the city it will put an end to the Saudi-Qatari green light, in exchange for controlling al-Qusayr, of the setting up of a Salafist emirate in the area which would constitute a threat to the nearly two dozen Shia Lebanese inhabited villages of the Hermel region. If the Syrian army re-takes al-Qusayr, it would also avoid the likelihood of a full-fledged sectarian war on both sides of the border.

Meeting with a few self-proclaimed al Nusra Front militiaman last week, in Homs, one who spoke excellent British English, they had plenty to say to this observer about current events in al Qusayr to which they planned to return the next day to fight enemies “by all means Allah gives us”. One added, when asked if they had confronted Hezbollah: “Of course but Hezbollah can’t defeat us. Eventually they will withdraw from Syria on orders from Tehran. But first enshallah we will bleed Hezbollah with thousands of cut throats”, he boasted raucously as nearby kids cheered and gave V for victory signs, smiles, giggles and cackling all around.

Such Jihadist rants are music to more than a few US congressional and White House ears these days, as once more in this region, a major US-Israeli carefully calibrated regime change project, appears to be falling short.

This week, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted overwhelmingly to arm elements of the Syrian opposition with a recommendation to “provide defense articles, defense services, and military training” directly to the opposition throughout Syria, who naturally, will “have been properly and fully vetted and share common values and interests with the United States”. History teaches that the vetting part would not happen if the scheme is implemented, despite only a few in Congress objecting.

Perhaps lacking some of his father Ron Paul’s insights into US hegemonic plans for this region, Senator Rand Paul did object to the measure and he fumed at his colleagues: “This is an important moment. You will be funding, today, the allies of al Qaeda. It’s an irony you cannot overcome.”

According to the Hill Rag weekly, veteran war-hawks Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham, flashed a knowing smile but gave no rebuttal, perhaps realizing that Senator Paul is a bit untutored on the reality of current Obama Administration policy in Syria generally, and for al-Qusayr, in particular.

Contrary to the shock and anger expressed by Senator Paul, American policy in Syria is to de facto assist allies of al Qaeda including the US “Terrorist-listed” Al-Nusra Front as well as anti-Iran, anti-Shia and anti-Hezbollah groups gathering near al-Qusayr. These groups currently include, but are not limited to, Ahl al-Athr Brigade, Ahrar al-Sham, Basha’ir al-Nasr Brigades, Commandos Brigades, Fajr al-Islam Brigades, Independent Farouq Brigades, Khalid bin al-Waleed Brigade, Liwa al-Haq, Liwa al-Sadiq, Al-Nour Brigade, Al-Qusayr Brigade, Suqur al-Fatah, Al-Wadi Brigades, Al-Waleed Brigades and the 77th Brigade among the scores of other Jihadist cells currently operating in, near, or rushing to, al-Qusayr.

Their victory according to US Senate sources would be a severe blow and challenge to Iran’s rising influence in the region and Iran’s leadership of the increasing regional and global resistance to the Zionist occupiers of Palestine in favor of the full right to return of every ethnically cleansed Palestinian refugee.

While Congress was considering what else to do to help the “rebels”, on 5/22/13, no fewer than 11 so-called “World powers” foreign ministers, including Turkey and Jordan, met in Amman to condemn, with straight faces, even, tongues in cheek, the “flagrant intervention” in Syria by Hezbollah and Iranian fighters.” They urged their immediate withdrawal from the war-torn country. In a joint statement, the “Friends of Syria” group called “for the immediate withdrawal of Hezbollah and Iranian fighters, and other regime allied foreign fighters from Syrian territory.”

Not one peep of course, about the Salafist-Jihadist-Takfuri fighters from more than 30 countries now ravaging Syria’s population. The truth of the matter is that the governments represented by their foreign ministers this week in Amman, will follow the US lead which means they will assist, despite some cautionary public words, virtually any ally of al-Qaeda whose fighting in Syria may be seen as weakening the Assad government and its supporters in Iran and Lebanon.

According to one long-term Congressional aid to a prominent Democratic Senator from the West Coast, while the Amman gathering described Hezbollah’s armed presence in Syria as “a threat to regional stability”, the White House could not be more pleased that Hezbollah is in al-Qusayr. When pressed via email for elaboration, the Middle East specialist offered the view that the White House agrees with Israel that al-Qusayr may become Hezbollah’s Dien Bein Phu and the Syrian conflict could well turn into Iran’s “Vietnam”. “Quite a few folks around here (Capitol Hill) think al-Qusayr will remove Hezbollah from the list of current threats to Israel. And the longer they keep themselves bogged down in quick-sand over there the better for Washington and Tel Aviv. Hopefully they will remain in al-Qusayr for a long hot summer and gut their ranks in South Lebanon via battle field attrition and Israel can make its move and administer a coup de grace.”

The staffer followed up with another email with only one short sentence and a smiley:

“Of course the White House and its concrete wall-solid ally might be wrong!”

The dangers for Hezbollah are obvious – that it may be drawn ever deeper into a bottomless pit of conflict in Syria that could leave it severely depleted and prey to a hoped for death-blow from Israel.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and other party officials have dismissed that possibility.

The next few weeks may tell.

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Syria and Lebanon and can be reached c/o

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment