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Detroit cop goes on trial for killing 7-year-old girl

RT | May 29, 2013

A Detroit police officer charged with fatally shooting a 7-year-old girl while she was asleep on her couch will stand trial in June. The fatal gunshot was recorded by a reality TV crew, which was filming an episode of “The First 48.”

Aiyana Stanley-Jones, a 7-year-old girl from Detroit, was shot in the head while a SWAT team conducted a midnight raid of her two-story home, tossed a flash grenade through a window, fired the bullet that killed her, and burst through the front door on May 16, 2010.

Police officers were searching for a murder suspect accused of killing a 17-year-old boy and were accompanied by a camera crew recording the raid for a reality A&E TV show called “The First 48” – a show that closely resembles “Cops”. The TV show tracks murder investigations in the immediate aftermath of a slaying, and provides viewers with real-life police drama.

But that quest for drama overstepped its boundaries on that fatal night three years ago. Officer Joseph Weekley, a then-member of the Detroit Police Special Response Team, was carrying the gun that shot that little girl. Police claim that the weapon accidentally discharged after Weekley bumped into the girl’s grandmother. But if convicted of involuntary manslaughter, Weekley could face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

The cop has been accused of acting with gross negligence by failing to prevent his gun from firing. The victim was one of four young children that were in the home at the time of the raid. Video footage gathered by the A&E camera crew will serve as evidence in the case, but videographer Allison Howard is also facing charges. The camerawoman was indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges after she was accused of withholding crucial video footage from authorities, while sharing it with unspecified “third parties”.

The shooting, together with the presence of “The First 48” camera crew, shocked and outraged Detroit residents and prompted Mayor Dave Bing to ban reality TV crews from shadowing police in Detroit. He also prompted then-Police Chief Warren Evans’ resignation for failing to inform the mayor that he was allowing TV cameras to accompany police raids. Evans was allegedly also planning to partake in a different reality TV show, in which he would be the star, AP reports.

“Police work is not television, and television work is not police work,” Ron Scott, spokesman for Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, told AP. “The two combined to make it a horrific night.”

Scott also referred to the raid and the shooting as a “military assault on a private dwelling”.

On Friday, Weekley appeared at a Detroit courthouse to file a motion for dismissal of the case against him. About 30 protesters, led by the victim’s family, gathered at the courthouse, chanting “Justice for Aiyana” and “No Justice, No peace”. Weekley’s motion was dismissed, and a jury for the case will be selected May 29.

“It shouldn’t have taken three years for this to come to justice when a little girl died,” Scott told MLive.

May 29, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Report Censures Israel For Demolishing Palestinian and EU Property’

By Bernhard Schell | In Depth News | May 28, 2013

Brussels – Hundreds of Palestinian homes and structures have been bulldozed and approvals for illegal settlements have increased despite the 27-nation European Union (EU) asking Israel to stop settlement expansion, forced displacement, and demolition of Palestinian property in an unprecedented statement one year ago, says a new report.

EU foreign ministers adopted on May 14, 2012 some of the most extensive and far-reaching recommendations on the issue of the Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT). In particular, the EU ministers approved specific recommendations for developing Area C which constitutes 60 percent of the West Bank and falls under full Israeli military and civil control. An estimated 150,000 Palestinians live there among 325,000 Israelis living in settlements that are illegal under international law.

EU foreign ministers called for improvement of Israel’s policies that are currently damaging to the development of Palestinian livelihoods and for the future viability of a Palestinian state. It also called on the Government of Israel to end impunity on settler violence, as well as allow the EU to pursue development projects in Palestinian communities without risks of Israeli demolitions. In addition, for the first time, the EU declared: “Ending the conflict was a European interest.”

DemolishedPalestinianHome_smallIn a report released on May 27, 2013, the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), a coordinating body representing over 80 international aid and development agencies working in the occupied Palestinian territory, have urged the EU to “match their strong words with action in order to effectively challenge Israeli government policies”.

These policies, says the report – Failing to Make the Grade: How the EU can pass its own test and work to improve the lives of Palestinians in Area C – are creating “unbearable conditions” in Area C, which is home to some of the most vulnerable Palestinian communities who are isolated from services provided by the Palestinian Authority in other parts of the West Bank. Palestinians living in that area rely heavily on humanitarian and development assistance.

According to AIDA, “chances for a just and durable solution that allows Palestinians and Israelis to live with peace and security were slipping away as the situation on the ground continues to deteriorate”.

The report points out that more than 600 houses have been built in the past year in the illegal Israeli settlements while 535 Palestinian-owned homes and structures have been destroyed, leaving 784 people homeless or displaced.

Around 30 European-funded structures have been demolished during this same time and dozens more, including basic tents, water cisterns and animal pens are under threat of demolition.

“Europe has made clear its objections to Israel’s continued settlement expansion and demolition of Palestinian and European property. Yet, its response has mostly come in words only, with action remaining on an ad hoc and uncoordinated basis,” says the report. “If this continues, living conditions for Palestinians are set to worsen, and vital European tax-payers’ investments will be wasted,” it adds.

“Just a year ago, EU governments injected fresh hope that they would collectively use their political weight to improve the living conditions of Palestinians and halt Israeli violations of international law, but looking back, we can say they are at serious risk of failing both Palestinians and Europeans,” said Charles Silva, Country Director for Action Against Hunger (ACF) and AIDA Chair.

‘Honor Pledges’

The report explains what they can and must do to put their words into action that results in positive changes on the ground. It emphasizes the need for Europe to “honor its pledges to increase much-needed development aid for Area C and to push the government of Israel to remove restrictions that leave Palestinians vulnerable to demolition and prevent them from building proper homes, schools, roads, water infrastructure and electrical grids”.

The report illustrates how some European countries have been working to protect communities in Area C from demolition by investing in village plans. “While the Israeli authorities are in the process of considering applications, none of the 32 European-funded village plans to date have been fully approved. This is in sharp contrast to the endering of at least 1,967 new settlement housing units in the year since the EU statement, a four-fold increase from 2011,” says the report.

It points out that Israeli government demolition of Palestinian structures typically takes place because they lack building permits, which are hard to obtain, with 94 percent of Palestinian applications for building permits denied in recent years.

“Last year EU governments said for the first time it was also in their own interest to bring an end to the conflict in Israel and Palestine – if they are serious, they can and must work together to address harmful policies of the Israeli government and support the most vulnerable Palestinians in the West Bank,” said Nishant Pandey Oxfam Country Director.

Tony Laurance, CEO from Medical Aid for Palestinians added: “Israel is morally and legally responsible for the wellbeing of Palestinian men, women and children in the occupied Palestinian territory. EU countries have an obligation to address violations of International Law and collectively to put pressure on Israel to end policies impeding Palestinian development.”

May 29, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US: Teacher facing discipline for reminding students of Constitutional rights

RT | May 29, 2013

An Illinois community is rallying around a teacher who is reportedly up against disciplinary action for informing his students of their rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment before the high-schoolers answered a survey regarding their personal behavior.

John Dryden, a social studies teacher at Batavia High School, not far from Chicago, Illinois, told the Kane County Chronicle he was docked a day’s pay for reminding his students they have the right to not incriminate themselves before administering a drug-screening survey to the class.

The exact contents of the survey were not disclosed, but Dryden said each form was printed with a student’s name and had questions relating to drug use, alcohol consumption, and emotional tendencies. The results were to be reviewed by school officials, social workers, counselors and psychologists, according to the Chicago Daily Herald.

For advising the students of their rights guaranteed by the Constitution, Dryden was scheduled to face a closed-door meeting with school board officials on Tuesday night. He was charged with the vague count of “unprofessional conduct” and could be disciplined with a “letter of remedy” that would remain on his 20-year employment record, along with the docked pay.

Dryden said it was “dumb luck” that he examined the contents in the survey before handing them out. He said that if he had been notified about the questions, he would have consulted a school administrator over the issue.

“Somebody needs to remind them they have the ability not to incriminate themselves,” Dryden said. “I made a judgment call. There was no time to ask anyone.”

School Superintendent Jack Barshinger told the Daily Herald the survey was meant to determine which students were emotionally unstable and considering self-harm.

“We can’t help them if we aren’t aware of their needs,” he said.

A letter mailed to parents did not specify whether the survey was mandatory or optional. A petition of support, which described Dryden as an “uncharacteristically engaging educator,” attracted 4,000 signatures and pleaded with administrators to not discipline him.

“It is Mr. Dryden’s task as an educator to impart his students with the knowledge and ability to make informed choices, even if these lead to conscientious objection,” the letter read. “For the administration of Batavia High School to pursue disciplinary action against a dedicated educator, whose instruction is solely student centered is, in our opinion, an extreme lapse of professional competence.”

Through the scrutiny and media attention Dryden has maintained that the survey’s legality, not he, should be the focus of the story.

“I have asked people to talk about the survey. I think I am a sideshow,” he said. “I’m not a martyr. I’m trying to refocus people’s attentions. Calm down.”

  • School Board Reprimands Teacher for Telling Students About Their Right to Remain Silent (reason.com) … “These kids need to know that the U.S. Constitution is there for them,” Batavia Alderman Alan Wolff told the school board yesterday, referring to the Fifth Amendment’s ban on compelled self-incrimination, which Dryden mentioned as he distributed the survey forms. Another Batavia High School teacher, Scott Bayer, said Dryden was not alone in thinking it was important to let students know they were not obligated to answer the questions if doing so involved admitting crimes. “Every teacher I talked to addressed students in the same way,” he said. Perhaps we can expect more written warnings of improper conduct.  …

May 29, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | 1 Comment

BP & Shell Fixed North Sea Oil Prices for a Decade, Trader Says

By IULIA FILIP | Courthouse News | May 28, 2013

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – BP, Shell and Statoil fixed North Sea crude oil prices and restricted trade for years by misleading reporting agencies, a trader claims in a federal class action.

Lead plaintiff Prime International Trading sued BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Norwegian oil company Statoil, in Federal Court.

Chicago-based Prime International is a member of the Chicago Board of Trade, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, NYMEX (the New York Mercantile Exchange) and ICE (the Intercontinental Exchange), the world’s largest energy futures exchanges.

Prime claims the defendants and unnamed co-conspirators deliberately reported inaccurate information about North Sea sweet light crude oil (a commodity known as Brent Crude oil) to Platts, the leading reporting agency for the Brent Crude Oil commodity and futures contracts traded on NYMEX and ICE, undermining the entire pricing structure for the Brent Crude oil market since 2002.

Platts, a unit of McGraw Hill Financial, compiles and publishes Brent Crude oil prices for traders in the United States. Platts is not a party to the complaint.

“As major producers and market participants in the Brent Crude oil market, including contributors of Brent Crude oil prices to Platts, defendants had and continued to have market power and the ability to influence prices in the Brent Crude oil market,” the complaint states. “By purposefully reporting inaccurate, misleading and false Brent Crude oil trade information to Platts, defendants manipulated and restrained trade in both the physical (spot) Brent Crude oil market and the Brent Crude oil futures market.” (Parentheses in complaint.)

The European Commission confirmed this month that it is investigating several companies that may have reported distorted prices for crude oil and conspired to monopolize price-setting, according to the complaint.

“Almost immediately following the European Commission’s announcement on May 14, defendants BP plc, Royal Dutch Shell plc and Statoil ASA each confirmed they are the subject of the European Commission investigation,” the complaint states. “In particular, defendant Statoil confirmed that its office in Stavanger (Norway) was subject to an inspection by the EFTA Surveillance Authority, assisted by the Norwegian Competition Authority. Statoil acknowledged that the inspection was carried out at the request of the European Commission. Further, Statoil confirmed that the scope of the European Commission’s investigation is ‘related to the Platts’ market-on-close price assessment process, used to report prices in particular for crude oil, refined oil products and biofuels’ extending back to as early as 2002.

“On May 17, 2013, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office announced that it was ‘urgently reviewing’ the European Commission’s allegations of price-fixing in the oil markets and determining whether to accept the case for ‘criminal investigation.’ That same day, the United States Senate called for the U.S. Department of Justice to join the European Commission investigation.”

Prime International claims it traded hundreds of thousands of Brent Crude futures contracts at prices manipulated by the defendants’ price-fixing. It claims to represent thousands of traders who have been misled by the manipulated prices since 2002.

It claims the defendants knew that misreporting crude oil prices to Platts would have a serious impact on the U.S. market for crude oil, refined oil products, biofuels and futures contracts.

“The Brent oilfields in the North Sea currently have the highest physical daily output of any of the world’s recognized oil benchmarks,” the complaint states. “Brent is the leading global price benchmark for Atlantic basin crude oils and it is used to price two-thirds of the world’s internationally traded crude oil supplies.”

Prime International claims the defendants nonetheless continued “their deliberate and systematic submission of false Brent Crude oil trade information to Platts.”

It seeks class certification, an injunction, restitution, and damages for violations of the Commodity Exchange Act, the Sherman Act, and unjust enrichment.
Prime International is represented by Vincent Briganti with Lowey Dannenberg Cohen & Hart.  

May 29, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

House Judiciary investigating whether Attorney General Holder lied under oath

By Jonathan Easley – The Hill – 05/28/13

The House Judiciary Committee is investigating whether Attorney General Eric Holder lied under oath during his May 15 testimony on the Justice Department’s (DOJ) surveillance of reporters.

The panel is looking at a statement Holder made during a back-and-forth with Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) about whether the DOJ could prosecute reporters under the Espionage Act of 1917, an aide close to the matter told The Hill.

“In regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material — this is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy,” Holder said during the hearing.

However, NBC News reported the following week that Holder personally approved a search warrant that labeled Fox News chief Washington correspondent James Rosen a co-conspirator in a national security leaks case.

The panel is investigating whether NBC’s report contradicts Holder’s claim that he had not looked into or been involved with a possible prosecution of the press in a leaks case.

The May 15 Judiciary hearing was held after The Associated Press revealed Justice had secretly subpoenaed its phone records in a separate leaks investigation.

Justice did not return a request for comment, but Johnson on Tuesday defended Holder, arguing his statement was specific to Johnson’s line of questioning about the Espionage Act and not meant to pertain to other investigations.

“The attorney general’s statement that no journalists have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act during his tenure is accurate,” he told The Hill.

Johnson said he raised the Espionage Act issue because he believes the law could be misused to target reporters due to the way it was written. He argued it should be changed.

“Congress is responsible for protecting the press while giving law enforcement the tools to prosecute officials who leak classified information,” Johnson said. “I support considering amendments to the Espionage Act and passing the Free Flow of Information Act to refine this balance.”

Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, told The Hill that Holder was “forthright” with the panel and that there was “no need to turn a policy disagreement into allegations of misconduct.”

But Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (Wis.), the second-ranking Judiciary Committee Republican, told The Hill that Holder should resign.

He accused the attorney general of misleading the panel during the investigation of the “Fast and Furious” gun-walking operation, and again when he claimed to not know about the AP probe.

“As we saw in Fast and Furious and are seeing now, Attorney General Holder refuses to hold himself accountable,” Sensenbrenner said. “He misled the Judiciary Committee under oath when he said he had not heard about Fast and Furious and he misled us again when he claimed to be unaware of the AP scandal. The head of DOJ should be someone the American people can trust. Attorney General Holder should resign.”

Justice’s probe into national security leaks is threatening to become the biggest controversy of Holder’s career.

President Obama last week said he was “troubled” by reports about the DOJ’s surveillance of reporters, and argued that journalists “should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs.”

He ordered Holder to review his department’s guidelines governing investigations that involve reporters. The DOJ will present its findings to the president on July 12.

A report in The Daily Beast over the weekend suggested Holder felt a sense of personal remorse over the aggressive tactics used in targeting the Fox News reporter. Citing aides close to Holder, the article said the Attorney General knew Justice would be besieged by questions about the two probes as he read a Washington Post story about the investigation of Rosen.

The DOJ seized Rosen’s personal emails and used other surveillance methods to investigate whether he was complicit in a leak of classified information. It also examined Rosen’s phone records and tracked his visits to the State Department using security-badge data during the 2009 probe.

Justice filed legal papers saying Rosen may have acted as “an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator” by getting materials from a government official also under investigation.

The investigation was primarily focused on rooting out Rosen’s alleged source, a State Department worker who is facing federal charges for disclosing classified national security information and could see a trial as soon as next year. The DOJ has said it never intended to prosecute Rosen.

Some Republican senators have said Holder should not be in charge of reviewing his own department.

Speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) called Holder’s review a “conflict of interest.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said a special counsel or some other independent body should be appointed to conduct the review.

The DOJ has also faced criticism over its seizure of phone records belonging to the AP. The news wire was never a target of that investigation.

The House voted to find Holder in contempt over his refusal to turn over documents to lawmakers on “Fast and Furious,” an operation in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives purposely allowed guns to be illegally purchased in the United States and Mexico in the hope they could be tracked.

May 29, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

Syria: After Qusayr, Regime Eyes Aleppo

By Radwan Mortada | Al-Akhbar | May 28, 2013

As the battle for Qusayr winds down, regime forces are preparing to wrest Aleppo from the Syrian opposition, which overran the city last July.

According to Syrian security sources, the Syrian army has begun building up its forces in several areas in preparation to storm opposition-controlled Aleppo. The sources explained that they are in the process of surrounding the city in order to cut off the oppositions supply lines.

If it were to succeed, then the regime would have managed to regain two of Syria’s most important governorates: Homs and Aleppo.

Homs was the “capital of the Syrian revolution,” until government troops retook the city. Ten months have passed since opposition fighters managed to flood Aleppo by the thousands, surprising both the regime and the city’s residents. The city had remained solidly in the loyalist camp for more than a year into the Syrian crisis and no one expected it to fall into the hands of the opposition so quickly and easily.

Government sources attributed the fall of Aleppo to the collusion of Mohammed Mufleh, the former chief of Syrian Military Intelligence in Hama, with the opposition’s Tawhid Brigade. According to military sources, Mufleh was paid a large sum of money to facilitate the passage of thousands of opposition fighters into the city.

Military sources maintained that the Aleppans were not particularly welcoming of the opposition, which committed massacres against whole loyalist families, like the Bazzi clan. The same sources estimated the number of fighters in the city may have now reached 20,000.

Mufleh’s defection and the role he played in Aleppo is old news by now. What has not been known until now, however, is his relationship to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Tawhid Brigade, particularly in its initial phases.

Reports suggested that the intelligence chief – before announcing his defection – was in cahoots with Tawhid as it tried to establish its hold in the areas of Aleppo and Idlib.

The relationship reached a point in which Mufleh was prepared to hand over all the weapons at his disposal to the brigade. Tawhid waged a series of successful side battles with other armed groups, accusing them of working for the regime.

After Mufleh’s defection, contacts between Tawhid and commanders loyal to him continued. The breaking point, however, came when these commanders requested that Tawhid “lay down its weapons and declare that it will enter into negotiations with the regime,” only to discover that the opposition brigade had opened up new channels with Turkey and Qatar, before finally announcing its loyalty to the Muslim Brotherhood.

May 29, 2013 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The UK’s intransigence in the EU shows the West’s true intentions in Syria

By Phil Greaves | notthemsmdotcom | May 28, 2013

The UK Foreign secretary William Hague, and his French counterpart Lauren Fabius, are leading an isolated charge within the EU to lift a supposed arms embargo to self-described ‘rebels’, hitherto destroying Syria for over two years. Several underlying factors need to be addressed before these diplomatic (some would say military) manoeuvres are put into context.

Firstly, the most obvious issue with allowing the UK and France to freely arm ‘rebels’ of their choosing inside Syria is that this policy is against all international law, and will, as proven already to be the case, continue to vastly exacerbate the growing death toll and displacement in Syria. As the head of arms control at Oxfam noted:

“Transferring more weapons to Syria can only exacerbate a hellish scenario for civilians. If the UK and France are to live up to their own commitments – including those set out in the new arms trade treaty – they simply must not send weapons to Syria.”

Acting under the auspices, or “consultation” of Western intelligence services, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and non-state actors sending thousands of tonnes of arms and funds to extremist militants in Syria; is directly synonymous with both a huge increase in casualty numbers and civilian displacement; and the huge rise and proliferation of extremist militants operating in Syria. This highlights, as previous conflicts in the region have shown; that further Western military intervention is not about to bring peace and harmony to a nation already engulfed in the throes of war (much of which western powers promoted and enabled). But peace and harmony are not on either France, nor the UK’s list of priorities in the region; removing President Assad and weakening the state of Syria, Iran’s staunch ally, most certainly are. It seems the less Imperial-minded states of the EU, and indeed, those less attached to US militarism and designs for the Middle East, were incensed by Hague and Fabius’ stubborn attempts to stifle the popular opinion within the EU that sending yet more military equipment to a disparate melee of extremist rebels may be of dire consequence. Hague, with his vast intellect, failed to acknowledge this most obvious of pitfalls, and seems more eager than war-mongerer/profiteer US Senator John McCain is to feed into the western public the idea that ‘moderate’, or ‘secular’ minded ‘rebels’ in Syria actually exist.

To quote an equally moral and intelligent Western statesman, the UK is acting on the policy of “unknown unknowns”. Hague et al claim to know of ‘moderate’ and ‘secular’ fighting forces wishing to take up arms against the Syrian Government; yet literally no one in Syria or analysing the conflict from afar is able to find them. As the weapons flow increased and the funds from Gulf donors magnified, it has been the most extreme sectarian elements of militia that have been bolstered by such support, and indeed, further encouraged by Western diplomatic cover and the dutiful Western mainstream media’s glowing appraisals of freedom fighters and ‘rebel’ propaganda. This has only enabled the Jihaddi/Salafist elements hell-bent on sectarian violence and destruction to gain in recruits and popularity. As in Central America, Afghanistan, Libya, Serbia, Kosovo, etc: these extremist elements form the ‘Shock Troops’ of a Western designed subversion model; used to great effect by Western powers to enable the social and structural destruction of a nation “outside the West’s sphere of influence”, in order to bring about regime change.

Libya, again, provides us with a recent, and very much relevant example of how the UK and France are free to manipulate what are, when first employed, supposedly ‘humanitarian’ measures to fit their own military and Imperial advantage. When the No Fly Zone resolution over Libya was first passed in the UN, it was designed to enable ‘rebel’ forces in Libya to “protect the civilian population” from air and armour attacks from the Libyan Army. What ensued almost immediately after the resolution passed was nothing of the sort: the UK and France – under US direction – took it upon themselves, in almost 10,000 airstrike sorties within six months, to not only destroy all of Libya’s meagre air-force and armour, but destroy the vast majority of the infrastructure Gaddafi had built. This ran alongside a targeted assassination campaign against Gaddafi himself to bring about the desired regime change, which just by chance, also happens to be completely against international law. The results of which were neither in the interest of civilians or humanitarianism. As former MI5 officer Annie Machon put it:

“They’ve had free education, free health, they could study abroad. When they got married they got a certain amount of money. So they were rather the envy of many other citizens of African countries. Now, of course, since NATO’s humanitarian intervention, the infrastructure of their country has been bombed back to the Stone Age,”

This “bombing back to the stone age” is what Imperialist apologists might term: holding down the competition. As previously noted by many a statesman and scholar, the last thing any Western government desires is the self-determination and independence of resource-rich, strategically placed nations.

Furthermore, as candidly revealed by Hague himself, the UK and France’s pressure to lift the embargo is solely designed to pressure the Assad government to meet their demands, stating: (my emphasis)

“[it is] important for Europe to send a clear signal to the Assad regime that it has to negotiate seriously, and that all options remain on the table if it refuses to do so”.

One thing is certain, Hague does not speak for Europe. 25 of the 27 European nations were against the lifting of the embargo. The French and British refusal to accept the popular consensus meant that no decision or required extension of the current embargo could be made, resulting in its expiration. This in turn allows EU states to act as they please, as Hague said himself, this was the exact outcome the UK was hoping for. Once more, Hague is speaking with no authority, only 16% of the UK population agree to sending arms to ‘rebels’ in Syria: UK democracy in action.

The desired outcome of the lifting of the EU embargo will be increased military support to what the CIA, and NATO aligned governments describe as “vetted moderate” rebel forces. Which for all intents and purposes, simply don’t exist. The more likely outcome will be to create further reluctance of the Syrian ‘opposition’ elements within the SNC to negotiate with the Assad Government; further encouraging them and the extremist elements on the ground in Syria to continue their futile quest for a military solution. This policy will embolden extremist rebels fighting the Syrian Army in the hope they are to receive further Western support, with the ultimate desire of Western intervention just around the corner.

As Hague warns of “conflict spread”, which is evidently already occurring in Northern Lebanon, and inextricably linked to increased sectarian strife in Iraq; his Orwellian mindset seems unable to realise that adding more arms to this conflict ridden region will result in anything other than further destabilization. Surely Western powers cannot uphold this pretence any longer, it is glaringly obvious to many that Western involvement and “concern” over Syria has nothing to do with the civilian population and everything to do with regime change by all means necessary, including  the tacit arming, funding and diplomatic support of extremist Al Qaeda affiliated ‘rebels’.

Furthermore, while the UK was desperate to lift the arms embargo on Syrian ‘rebels’. It was at the forefront of attempts to uphold the crippling economic sanctions put in place against the Syrian Government. These sanctions, as applied to devastating effect many times before, are again, solely designed to punish the civilian population in attempts to create civil unrest and discord against the Syrian government to bring about regime change, a wholly illegal act in itself. Hague, in another world-class show of diplomatic cognitive dissonance, candidly admitted the failure of these sanctions as a reason to lift the arms embargo, stating: “The EU arms embargo must be lifted because the current economic sanctions regime is ineffective.” If the economic sanctions aren’t working, yet evidently punishing the civilian population, why is the EU keeping them in place? Simply as a tool to further pressurize the Syrian Government and push the civilian population into chaos, poverty and revolt.

Whilst the UK government declares a “battle against terrorism” on its own soil, its Foreign Policy wilfully follows the Western trend of fomenting, arming and supporting the very same ideologues abroad. All to suit the pernicious Western establishment agenda of economic and military dominance throughout the Greater Middle East and beyond.

 

May 29, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Syria: Border Clashes Pit FSA Against Kurds

By Youssef Sheikho | Al-Akhbar | May 28, 2013

Tension returns to the already unstable relationship between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Kurdish Popular Protection Units in the countryside of Aleppo, following attempts by the FSA to raid Kurdish-controlled villages in the Afrin region.

The clashes in the Afrin region – between units of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Tawhid Brigade and Islamist and Kurdish groups supported by Ankara – resulted in the displacement of some villagers and the closure of the Afrin-Aleppo road.

Kurdish sources confirmed to Al-Akhbar that 14 members of the opposition units and two Kurdish fighters were killed over the weekend. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the clashes caused the death of 11 rebel fighters and the injury of more than 20.

Reports on injuries and the clashes’ cause conflicted. In a statement, the Popular Protection Units (YPG) announced the deaths of 11 members of armed groups, including a battalion commander, and the injuring of 15 other fighters.

On the other hand, the Tawhid Brigade said that the “commander of Battalion 21” was killed, as well as the commander of the Sayyid al-Shuhada al-Hamza, AKA Shamel. Dissident Kurdish captain Bioar Mustafa, commander of the Salaheddin Battalion fighting alongside the FSA against the YPG, was also injured.

The Tawhid Battalion accused one of the Kurdish checkpoints of “facilitating the passage of residents of Kfar Nebel,” which the FSA has put under siege.

The YPG, however, said in a statement that “FSA groups attacked the village of Aqiba in Nahiet Shirawa and the YPG responded to the attack.”

FSA units kidnapped two Kurdish citizens from the village of Bassila on the Aleppo-Afrin road. The Syrian army exploited the clashes between the two opposition groups. A source close to the FSA was reported saying that the regime’s forces sent military and logistical reinforcements to the besieged Ming Military Airport.

In the meantime, the Sheikh Said Piran battalions fighting alongside the FSA at the Ming Airport and some neighborhoods of Aleppo announced its “complete withdrawal from Aleppo and the beginning of a march to Afrin to defend it against the FSA.”

The Kurdish Front Brigade, which is close to the YPG despite fighting against the Syrian army alongside the FSA, announced that they are coordinating all their operations with the YPG. “They are with us in the same trench,” it said.

The YPG, however, maintained that the FSA’s attack “targets the entire Afrin region and was planned in advance.” Kurdish sources maintained that there is a plan by the FSA in the Aleppo countryside to attack the villages of Afrin and impose an economic siege.

However, this is not the first attempt by FSA groups in Aleppo to attack villages under the control of the Kurdish units. In this respect, a Kurdish source explained to Al-Akhbar that the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood “is a bigger threat to the Kurds from the entire Baathist doctrine.”

“But anytime the Brotherhood thinks about cleansing Aleppo or its countryside, they will find that the Kurds will be their biggest challenge,” he added.

“Despite the Brotherhood knowing that they are fighting a losing battle in Afrin, which will weaken and drain them, they seem to be pulled ideologically,” he said. “This cancels the pragmatic side.”

May 29, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Several injured in Syrian rocket attacks on Lebanon

Al-Akhbar | May 28, 2013

Several people were wounded Tuesday when a barrage of rockets launched from Syria hit Lebanon’s eastern Hermel region, one day after a girl was killed in a similar attack.

The National News Agency said that at least seven rockets struck Lebanon in third straight day of such attacks. They landed only hours after gunmen killed three Lebanese soldiers in nearby Ersal.

Three people were injured when one of the rockets struck a residential home, the NNA said. Several others were “slightly” wounded by another rocket.

The other five rockets landed in fields or uninhabited areas causing no casualties, the report added.

Similar rocket attacks on Hermel left a 17-year-old girl dead and other members of her family injured Monday.

Earlier Tuesday unidentified gunmen opened fire on young Lebanese soldiers manning a checkpoint in the eastern town of Ersal, near the Syrian border, before fleeing.

No one has claimed responsibility for any of Tuesday’s attacks, but rebels fighting to overthrow the Syrian government have hit neighboring Lebanon on a number of occasions since the uprising began over two years ago.

Attacks on Lebanon have escalated over the past week as Syrian rebels threatened the country with strikes in what they describe as retaliation for Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian war.

On Sunday, two rockets struck a southern suburb of Beirut injuring four Syrian workers. The rockets, launched from hills several kilometers southeast of Beirut, hit the Chiyah district where Hezbollah maintains strong support.

Without explicitly claiming responsibility for the incident, Ammar al-Wawi, a Syrian rebel commander, later told LBCI news that the country should expect more attacks, including on the airport, should Hezbollah fail to withdraw from Syria.

May 29, 2013 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment