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Egypt bans yellow vests fearing copycat Gilets Jaunes protests

MEMO | December 11, 2018

The Egyptian authorities have quietly clamped down on the sales of reflective yellow vests fearing that they could prompt copycat protests inspired by the Gilets Jaunes demonstrations taking place in France. The measure was taken as a precaution as Egypt approaches the seventh anniversary next month of the revolution that toppled the dictator Hosni Mubarak after a 30-year rule. Any form of public gatherings are banned.

According to testimonies from industrial equipment dealers in Cairo, retailers have been instructed not to sell yellow vests to walk-in buyers and to restrict business to wholesale deals with verified companies, but only after obtaining permission from the security forces.

“They seem not to want anyone to do what they are doing in France,” said one retailer. Another added that, “The police came here a few days back and told us to stop selling them. When we asked why, they said they were acting on instructions.” Both spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity, for fear of reprisals from the authorities.

Security officials confirmed that the restrictions would remain in place until the end of January, but the Interior Ministry refused to comment on the issue. Over the past two years, hundreds of police officers and soldiers have been deployed across the country to quash any protests or commemorations of the revolution.

The yellow vests worn by French protesters have become a symbol of the wave of demonstrations against a rise in fuel taxes and the economic policies of French President Emmanuel Macron.

Egyptian media outlets have covered the Paris protests regularly, stressing the riots, looting and arson, in an attempt to support Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s frequent warnings that street action leads to chaos. In October, Al-Sisi even described the 2011 Egyptian revolution as “the wrong cure to the wrong diagnosis,” stating that the protests had achieved insufficient change due to a lack of understanding among the people of what the problems in the country were.

Egypt has witnessed a dramatic crackdown on freedom of speech since the military coup in 2013 that brought Al-Sisi, then a general, to power. The government has also increased regulatory legislation on the grounds of “national security”. The Muslim Brotherhood, which played an instrumental role in the revolution and was subsequently elected to govern, has since been banned and declared a terrorist group.

Amnesty International has described the situation in Egypt as the worst human rights crisis in the country in decades, with the state systematically using arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances to silence any dissent and create an atmosphere of fear. Hundreds of journalists and human rights activists have also been arrested and held without trial.

The government in Cairo has criticised the findings of many NGOs and accused them of being deliberately “misleading” about human rights abuses in Egypt.

December 11, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | | Leave a comment

The gulf within GCC is only widening

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | December 10, 2018

The annual summit meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Riyadh on Sunday was particularly important for Saudi Arabia as a display of its regional leadership. But the short meeting of the GCC leaders behind closed doors, lasting for less than an hour, ended highlighting the huge erosion of Saudi prestige lately.

The litmus test was the participation by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. King Salman’s letter of invitation to the emir was perceived as some sort of an olive branch for reconciliation. But Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad Al Muraikhi represented the country at the summit.

The calculation by the hot headed crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE that Qatar would pack up is turning out to be a historic blunder. Qatar had some trying times but it has successfully weathered the harsh embargo by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and the boycott is now hurting its enforcers. Qatar “celebrated” the anniversary of the boycott in June by banning the import of goods from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt (which had cut diplomatic and transport ties on June 5, 2017.) Ironically, Iran has been a beneficiary as Qatar established diplomatic relations with Tehran and began importing Iranian products.

Qatar also strengthened its alliance with Turkey, which stepped in as provider of security for Doha. And Turkey checkmated any plans that Saudis and Emiratis might have had to use force to bring the Qatari emir down on his knees.

The emir’s absence from the summit in Riyadh yesterday underscores that he is not in a mood to forget and forgive. Equally, Kuwait and Oman also have issues to settle with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. There is tension between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia over two oil fields – Khafji and Wafra – that are jointly owned by the two states, which have a capacity to produce more than half a million barrels per day, but have been closed since 2014 and 2015, respectively. The dispute is over the sovereignty over the so-called Neutral Zone on their border, which has been undefined for almost a century.

The Saudis are not relenting. “We’re trying to convince the Kuwaitis to talk about the sovereignty issues, while continuing to produce until we solve that issue,” Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Bloomberg in an interview in October. Similarly, Saudis and Emiratis have stationed troops in Yemen’s southern province of al-Mahra that borders Oman although the region has no presence of Houthi rebels. Oman considers the move an infringement on its national security. Interestingly, instead of the Sultan of Oman, Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmood Al Said represented the country at the GCC summit.

To be sure, like Banquo’s ghost at Macbeth’s banquet in Shakespeare’s play, the killing of Jamal Khashoggi provided the backdrop to the GCC summit. The GCC states (including Qatar) have not criticized the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) but they would know this is a developing story and it has dented Saudi prestige irreparably, especially with the US Senate is at loggerheads with the Trump administration. The big question for the Gulf region would be as to where Saudi Arabia is heading. (See the blog by Thomas Lippman What Now For U.S. Policy And The Crown Prince?)

Of course, if the GCC disintegrates due to these contradictions, Saudi Arabia will be the big loser, because it will be a reflection on its regional leadership. But do the Saudis understand it? The remarks by the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir at the end of the GCC summit showed no sign of remorse.

He said, “The members of the Gulf Cooperation Council are keen that the crisis with Qatar will have no impact on the Council (GCC). But this does not mean relinquishing the conditions imposed on Qatar.” Doha should stop supporting terrorism and extremism and avoid interfering in other countries’ affairs and needed to fulfill the Arab countries’ conditions to open the way for its return to the full-fledged work in the GCC. “The stance towards Qatar came to push it to change its policies,” he added.

The leading Saudi establishment writer Abdulrehman al-Rashed fired away at Qatar on the day of the GCC summit. In a column entitled Is it Time to end the GCC? in the Saudi daily Asharq Al-Awsat (owned by royal family members) he wrote:

“Qatar… has been putting obstacles in the GCC path and it has succeeded where Saddam and Iran have failed: It managed to destroy and rip it [GCC] apart… It organized an internal and external opposition against the United Arab Emirates. It is now the primary financier of the greatest attack against Saudi Arabia and it stands behind the politicization of Khashoggi’s murder… Today’s [GCC] summit could not conceal the dark political cloud hanging over its head. It also strongly poses a question over the future of the GCC as doubts rise over the value of this union… A wedge has been driven in the GCC.”

The disarray within the GCC undoubtedly calls attention to the decline of US influence in the Middle East region. At the end of the day, the Gulf states have not paid heed to repeated US entreaties for GCC unity. Ideally, GCC should have provided today for the US strategy a strong platform for launching the regime change project against Iran. On the contrary, GCC is split down the middle, with Qatar, Oman and Kuwait getting along just fine with Tehran. While addressing the summit in Riyadh on Sunday, the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad hit the nail on the head when he said, “The most dangerous obstacle we face is the struggle within the GCC.”

December 11, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Egypt tortures Palestinian resistance combatants: Report

MEMO | November 12, 2018

“We were a group of 15 combatants returning from a training mission from one of the countries that supports the Palestinian resistance. When we arrived at Cairo airport, we were taken to an underground place. We were blindfolded, handcuffed, and transferred to a number of prisons.” This is a part of a testimony of a Palestinian resistance combatant who was detained in Egyptian prisons and has been released recently.

Al-Khaleej Online will reveal in this investigation that the Egyptian intelligence and national security services tortured a number of Palestinian resistance combatants and students during their travel and study, in order to extract security information related to the Palestinian resistance.

The investigation documented a number of testimonies of more than 20 Palestinians, including those fighting in the Palestinian resistance, who were detained in secret prisons of Egyptian intelligence and national security, and subjected to physical and psychological torture throughout their interrogation period.

According to these Palestinians’ testimonies, the Egyptian officers had mostly asked them about their military action, especially during the waves of escalation with the Israeli occupation, and their way of firing shells from inside the Strip.

The data Al-Khaleej Online has revealed about the Egyptian security’s torture and interrogation of resistance combatants have been confirmed by sources in the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip use Cairo Airport to travel around the world because there is no airport inside the Strip and the occupation does not allow them to travel through Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing.

The Egyptian authorities have been using the so-called “deportation” system for Palestinian travellers wishing to travel outside Egypt. A bus from Rafah Border Crossing is transferred to Cairo Airport under high-security measures. No one from inside the bus would be allowed to leave it until it gets inside the airport. The travellers are then handed over to the security authorities there.

November 12, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | 6 Comments

MI6 knew that terror-suspect was tortured into giving false Iraq-Al-Qaeda info – report

RT | November 7, 2018

UK ministers relied on questions from a tortured terror suspect to make their case for the Iraq War, the Middle East Eye (MEE) has claimed. British spies fed questions to the suspect even though they knew of his mistreatment.

According to redacted documents, seen by the MEE, an MI6 officer knew that Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi was placed inside a sealed coffin by the CIA at a US-run Afghanistan based prison. Al-Libi – alive inside the coffin – was then taken, aboard a truck, to an aircraft that was to fly to Egypt.

The MI6 officer and his colleagues reported the incident to their department’s London HQ, stating that they “were tempted to speak out” on behalf of al-Libi, but failed to do so, adding: “The event reinforced the uneasy feeling of operating in a legal wilderness.”

Once al-Libi was in Egypt, a country with a well-documented history of human rights abuses, both MI6 and MI5 fed questions to the detainee, receiving reports from his Egyptian interrogators.

Al-Libi, under torture, told his jailers that Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda had links to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons program. The claim was cited as fact by US President George W. Bush as he made the case for war.

Upon being returned to the CIA, al-Libi stated that he had lied to avoid further torture. By that point the US, along with the UK, had already invaded Iraq.

As well as Bush, al-Libi’s false information was cited by then-US Secretary of State Colin Powell in his infamous speech advocating for war at the UN Security Council on February 5 2003. On the same day, then-UK Prime Minister Tony Blair told parliament there were “unquestionably” links between Al-Qaeda and Iraq.

“There is evidence of such links. Exactly how far they go is uncertain. However… there is intelligence coming through to us the entire time about this,” Blair said.

The US had been keen to link Iraq to Al-Qaeda in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. In evidence disclosed to the Chilcot Inquiry, Bush had raised the issue in a phone call with Blair, who is said to have replied that he couldn’t accept it without seeing compelling evidence.

READ MORE:

British govt urged to come clean on ‘links to torture’ after Iraq invasion

November 7, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oman rejects mediating between Israelis, Palestinians

Press TV – October 27, 2018

Oman says it will not act as a “mediator” between Israelis and Palestinians, playing down an earlier visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The sultanate was only offering ideas to help Israel and Palestinians to come together, Omani Foreign Minister Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah told a security summit in Bahrain’s capital Manama on Saturday.

The remarks came a day after Netanyahu visited Oman in a rare visit, while accompanied by other senior Israeli officials, including the head of the Israeli spy agency Mossad.

“We are not saying road is now easy and paved with flowers, but our priority is to put an end to the conflict and move to a new world,” Reuters cited Abdullah as saying.

Despite apparently trying to sound impartial, Abdullah said Oman relied on the United States and efforts by US President Donald Trump in working towards the “deal of the century.”

The Trump administration has targeted the plan at the situation in the Palestinian territories.

Details are yet to emerge, but reports say it envisages a Palestinian state with limited sovereignty across about half of Israel-occupied West Bank and all the Gaza Strip. The deal also reportedly foresees potential disarming of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, and does not find Palestinians entitled to the eastern part of Jerusalem al-Quds as their capital.

This is while Abbas, who visited Oman before Netanyahu for three days, has renounced the plan, saying it has been devised without consulting the Palestinians. He also spurned any intermediary role by the US late last year after Washington recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital.”

In June, however, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Jordan assured the US of their support for the plan during visits to those countries by Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Jason Greenblatt, the US envoy to the region.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told the Manama gathering on Saturday that the kingdom believed the key to “normalizing” relations with Israel was the “peace process.”

The Omani minister also claimed Israel was “present in the region, and we all understand this, the world is also aware of this fact and maybe it is time for Israel to be treated the same and also bear the same obligations.”

Observers say Muscat has come to accommodate the US plan under pressure from Washington and Riyadh, the strongest US ally in the Persian Gulf region, which has been inching towards Tel Aviv over the past years.

Palestinian groups, however, condemned the Israeli prime minister’s visit to Oman, urging Arab countries to support the oppressed people of Palestine, instead.

Hamas warned about the dangerous consequences of Netanyahu’s visit for the people of Palestine. The Islamic Jihad movement also censured the visit, saying Oman acquitted Netanyahu of the crimes committed against innocent Palestinians by welcoming him to the country.

Commenting on Netanyahu’s visit, Paul Larudee, with the Free Palestine Movement, told PressTV, “What in the world would Netanyahu know about peace and stability, when his objectives and objectives of Israel have always been war and instability?”

“The importance is what their objectives are not. They are not about Arab unity, not about solidarity with Arabs who are suffering namely the Palestinians,” he said.

“These other countries realize that sooner or later they are potential targets of Israel… that they can be in the same place that the Palestinians are now,” Larudee said.

October 27, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Egypt, Cyprus sign accord to build gas pipeline

MEMO | September 20, 2018

Egypt yesterday signed an agreement with Cyprus to construct a maritime pipeline between the two countries, which will transfer of natural gas from Cyprus to Egypt for re-export to different markets, especially the European Union (EU) countries.

The agreement was signed in a meeting held in Cyprus between the Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Tarek El-Molla, and the Cypriot minister of Energy, Industry, Tourism and Trades, Georgios Lakkotrypis.

The project, which was said to cost around $800 million, will involve building a pipeline to transfer natural gas from Cypriot Aphrodite field to Egypt’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities.

El-Molla said that the agreement contributes “to boosting the economic relations between Egypt and Cyprus and is considered as an important step in maximising the benefit of the discoveries of the Cypriot gas fields.”

“The Egyptian-Cypriot agreement is not only about the implementation of a maritime pipeline, but it will contribute positively to securing gas supplies to the EU,” he added.

The deal, El-Molla reiterated, will encourage further research exploration activities in the region and will contribute to further support joint cooperation in the field of oil and gas between the two countries.

Referring to another memorandum of understanding, which was signed between Egypt and the EU in the field of energy last April, the Egyptian minister stressed that it “will open up important prospects for the role that Egypt can play in the industry.”

On his part, Lakkotrypis said that the deal was “an important milestone, not only for Cyprus but also the entire eastern Mediterranean region,” adding that “it’s [the joint agreement] the first of its kind in Cyprus and Egypt’s shared region.”

September 20, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

Egypt president approves law restraining social media

Press TV – September 2, 2018

Egypt seems to be intensifying its crackdown on opponents with a new law. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has approved the legislation, authorizing officials to monitor social media users.

As reported by the official gazette on Saturday, the new law gives state authorities the right to monitor the activities of social media users on the internet.

The legislation, it said, places social media accounts with over 5,000 followers under the supervision of the Supreme Council for the Administration of the Media.

That means any popular blog, website or even account on Facebook, Twitter or other platforms, could be considered a media outlet and subject to the supervision of the media regulator which could block them for spreading fake news.

The controversial law was passed in the parliament back in July.

Critics argue that it increase state power to crack down on opposition activists.

Human rights groups have on numerous occasions criticized Egypt for its tough approach towards opponents.

The Sisi government has silenced most critics in the media, rolled back social freedoms, and placed draconian restrictions on demonstrations and the work of rights groups.

Tens of thousands of people have been detained since 2013, when the military, led by Sisi, overthrew Mohamed Morsi.

Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically-elected president, came to power after the 2011 uprising toppled long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Read more:
Egypt arrests prominent blogger amid crackdown on dissent
Egypt subjecting prisoners to horrendous abuse, torture

September 2, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 2 Comments

Corbyn attacked for Islamist hand-sign, claims it was in solidarity with Cairo massacre victims

RT | August 15, 2018

Jeremy Corbyn has found himself involved in a row after a picture of him making a sign linked to the Muslim Brotherhood surfaced. His spokesperson said it was done in solidarity with the victims of a 2013 massacre in Egypt.

The picture, published by the Daily Telegraph and reportedly taken in Finsbury Park Mosque in 2016, shows Corbyn with four outstretched fingers and his thumb tucked in against his palm. The hand-gesture is called Rabbi’ah and used by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in a sign of solidarity with ex-Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and the victims of the Rabaa massacre.

Morsi, who was democratically elected following the Arab Spring and the subsequent fall of dictator Hosni Mubarak, was overthrown by, now-president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in a July 2013 coup d’etat.

A spokesperson for Corbyn said he had been “standing up for democracy” when he used the Rabbi’ah symbol, telling the paper: “The four fingered gesture is a well-known symbol of solidarity with the victims of the 2013 Rabaa massacre in Cairo.”

The hand gesture stems from the August 2013 massacre, when Egyptian security forces under the command of el-Sisi raided two Morsi supporter camps in Cairo; including one in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square where the gesture gets its name. Human Rights Watch, who described the raids as “one of the world’s largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history,” estimated that a minimum of 817 people and more likely at least 1,000 died during the dispersal.

The Islamist MB is a transnational organization which originated in Egypt, before spreading across the Arab world. Its brand of political Islam has influenced groups such as Hamas in Gaza, and cites Turkey and Qatar amongst its supporters. The organisation is listed as a terrorist group by countries including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Russia and Syria

In 2003 the Supreme Court of Russia listed MB as a terrorist organisation for its role the creation of a largely Chechen Islamic extremist group, which has committed multiple terrorist attacks on Russia

While it is not considered a terrorist group by the UK, upon the conclusion of an investigation into the MB ex-British prime minister David Cameron said aspects of the group’s ideology “run counter to British values of democracy.”

August 15, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | 1 Comment

UK doubles arms deals with governments on its own rights blacklist: Report

Press TV – July 19, 2018

The UK has almost doubled its arms deals with governments that it has blacklisted as violators of human rights, figures show.

The government of British Prime Minister Theresa May approved some £1.5 billion in arms licenses in 2017, up from £820 million it did the year before, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) pressure group reported Wednesday.

The licenses allowed weapons sales to 18 countries on Home Office blacklist, which includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Pakistan and the Israeli regime.

Arms deals with Saudi Arabia, which has been running a deadly military aggression against Yemen since March 2015, accounted for £1.13 billion of the total amount, the group said.

The ruling Tory government is “actively arming and supporting many of the regimes that even it believes are responsible for terrible human rights abuses,” CAAT’s Andrew Smith told The Independent.

“There is little oversight in the system, and no controls over how these arms will be used once they have left the UK,” he added.

“The arms sales being agreed today could be used to fuel atrocities for years to come. Right now UK-made fighter jets and bombs are playing a central role in the Saudi-led destruction of Yemen, and the government and arms companies have totally failed to monitor or evaluate how this deadly equipment is being used.”

“These arms sales don’t just provide dictatorships and human rights abusers with the means to kill, they also give them a huge degree of political support,” Andrews continued.

Saudi Arabia and its allies launched the war on Yemen in March 2015 to reinstall its former Riyadh-allied government. The military aggression has so far killed over 13,600 Yemenis.

The UK has increased its weapons sales by around 500 percent since the onset of the Saudi invasion, according to a report by The Independent. The UK has, so far, sold more than £6 billion worth of arms to the kingdom.

Israel second largest blacklisted buyer

With a total of £221 million of licenses granted, Israel was the second-biggest purchaser of UK arms last year to be featured on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) human rights priority list.

In its latest version of the watch list, published this week, the FCO blasted Israel for violating the international law during its ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands in the West Bank, East Jerusalem al-Quds and Gaza.

It also slammed the Tel Aviv regime’s “systematic policy of settlement expansion,” despite constant calls by the UN, the European Union and many other international organizations to end them.

Bahrain became the third largest buyer on the list, acquiring £30.7 million of British arms in 2017, while Egypt imported £6.5 million and Pakistan, £11.2 million.

CAAT’s figures came amid efforts by British members of Parliament sitting on the Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC) to reform the UK’s arms export regime and stop arms sales to blacklisted governments.

In its latest report, the committee called on cabinet ministers to consider imposing a “presumption of denial” when weighing arms sales applications for such countries.

“We believe there must always be a more stringent process in place for any arms exports to such countries,” read the report.

July 19, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’

By Ida Audeh | CounterPunch | June 22, 2018

For weeks now, Palestinians everywhere have been galvanized by events taking place in the Gaza Strip, the site of weekly (since March 30) mass protests demanding the end of the siege and blockade of Gaza (in place now since 2007) and the right to return to the homes from which they or their elders had been kicked out. Dubbed the Great March of Return, Gazans have assembled as close as they can to the Israeli-designated buffer zone separating Gaza from Israel. Israeli soldiers at a distance, crouched behind earth barriers that they created in the days preceding the march, and at absolutely no danger of attack from the unarmed protestors, pick off demonstrators at their leisure. By June 14, at least 129 Palestinians had been killed and 13,000 injured; the dead included medics like the 21-year-old Razan al-Najjar and journalists including Yaser Murtaja—typically seen as off-limits in conflict zones but transformed by Israel into prime targets.

On June 4, Ida Audeh spoke to Jamal Juma’, coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, about the popular resistance in Gaza, the Trump administration’s policy toward the question of Palestine, and Palestinian options to chart a new course. Salah Khawaja, an activist who works with the campaign, joined the conversation.

Ida Audeh: I interviewed you in August 2011 to learn more about the separation wall and its effect on communities in its path.[2] Describe Israel’s current system of control over the occupied territories, of which the wall is a part.

Jamal Juma’: It is clear that the wall was designed to isolate and lay siege to Palestinians. The project to place Palestinians under siege by means of the wall has been completed. It closed off all the dynamic areas that Israel considered necessary to isolate various areas. Eighty percent of the Wall is within the West Bank. The second part of the siege is reinforcement of the settlements. Each settlement has what Israel calls a buffer zone – a security apparatus consisting of barbed wire and roads that Palestinians are not allowed to use. This, together with the alternative (bypass) roads (which we call the apartheid roads), allows them to control the territory. Today there are two road networks: one is for Israeli settlers, about 1,400 km long, and its purpose is to connect all settlements to one another and to Israel in a kind of network. And this is complete. This network is the dominant one in the West bank, and it includes the major roads. The other, the alternative roads, are for Palestinians to use; these roads will intersect through 48 planned tunnels and bridges, some of which have been created already. The two road systems are separate. This is the basis of the racist discriminatory system we talk about: isolating Palestinians and confining them in limited spaces, control of their resources through settlements, the road network, and military installations, and the wall, which take up about 62% of the area of the West Bank.

With the extension of the settlements, we no longer just talk about Palestinians being ghettoized in the north, south and central region. There is more fragmentation of Palestinian residential areas. New settlement outposts are not being discussed in terms of whether they should be removed or not.  They are being transformed into settlements. When you see 150 outposts, you are really talking about 150 new settlements. This project is being intensified, and especially since Trump took office.

IA: So you noticed a clear acceleration after Trump?

JJ: It’s much more than an acceleration. This is a watershed moment in Palestinian history.  We consider that since Trump took office, US policy fully adopted the Zionist project and embarked on a process of liquidating the Palestinian cause, of eliminating it. It is clear program. This began with Jerusalem and the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist entity, transfer of the embassy, targeting the refugees by cutting financing of UNRWA, and other forms of pressure on areas that host large numbers of refugees including getting them settled permanently in the host countries.

Israeli colonization, the geographic engineering of the political map, is another component in the liquidation of the Palestinian cause. Israeli proposals for colonization are massive. They are concentrating on the Jordan Valley – creating new settlements, expanding existing settlements, creating the supportive infrastructure, with huge incentives for Israelis who work in agriculture (including cash payments of $20,000 for anyone willing to move there). Now the settlements are on the tops of the mountain chain that overlook the Jordan Valley, which enable them to encircle lower lying towns. When you talk about Ariel, Ma’ale Adumim, and so on, it will be as though the entire West Bank is a suburb of Tel Aviv. This will make it impossible for there to be any separation in the future, for there to be any independent Palestinian entity; instead, an apartheid system of cantons will be imposed on Palestinians.  This is the reality on the ground.

Back to the new US policy: In addition to a shift in standing US positions on Jerusalem and the refugee issue, there is the use of Arab countries that are ready for normalization with Israel and eager to be aligned with the American project – first and foremost, Saudi Arabia, and also Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, which are pressuring the Palestinians to accept the US project to liquidate the Palestinian cause. This has complicated things and taken it out of the sphere of international law and the UN; everyone had previously worked within that framework. We have been demanding the implementation of resolutions. But the US dealt a blow to international law.

IA: The US now proposes the “deal of the century,” which Gulf states are eagerly endorsing. Can you describe the contours of that deal?

JJ: The proposal is to create a Palestinian state in Gaza with extensions into the Sinai Desert, to be administered by the Palestinian Authority. The West Bank and Jerusalem are not part of these calculations, although Israel might be willing to give up some areas around Jerusalem that are densely populated with Palestinians. (This part of the proposal has been floated by extremist Israeli groups even before the Trump proposal.) They might be willing to remove from Greater Jerusalem areas with high Palestinian density, like Jabal Mukkaber, Isawiya, Silwan, and Sur Bahir; there has been some discussion about removing Beit Hanina and Shufat. The Israelis would retain control of the Jewish settlements and the Old City, which together make up about 87% of the area of East Jerusalem—not exactly a small territory.

IA: What is the Palestinian response to these plans?

JJ:  On the formal political level, the PA is in a crisis. It placed its faith in the US, but now US determination to liquidate the Palestinian cause is very clear.  The only real option remaining to the PA is to cast its lot with the Palestinian people and on free people around the world, international solidarity and movements that support us. The Palestinian people have to make a decision, and so does the PA.

On the popular level, we see serious activity in search of an alternative to the status quo, the largest and the most important of which is taking place now in Gaza with the Great March of Return. These actions are important for a number of reasons. They changed the stereotypes about Gaza as a launchpad for rockets, a place of terrorism that has been hijacked by Hamas. In fact, the marches in Gaza since March 30 represent a widespread popular movement, massive popular resistance. Just like the first intifada emerged from Jabaliya in the Gaza Strip, today we have the beginnings of a mass civil disobedience movement. Gaza has a population that is resisting, and Hamas does not control this resistance. The discourse we generally hear, that Hamas is leading people to their death, should be recognized as racist and dehumanizing. People are not robots. Gazans of all ages, family situations, and economic and educational levels are taking part in these marches to raise their cause to the world.  These people are saying that the siege of Gaza cannot continue. We are human beings, we have rights, and one of those rights is to live like human beings. Gaza is no longer inhabitable. Gaza has been turned into a prison and a hell. Even the UN acknowledges that. The numbers around Gaza are just astounding.[3]

The Great March has returned focus on the refugee issue and put it squarely on the table despite all the efforts to ignore and erase it. More than 70% of Gaza residents are refugees, and they are demanding the right to return to their original hometowns.

For that reason, the marches in Gaza are very important in defining the trajectory of the Palestinian question and restoring the role of popular resistance to the forefront. They lay the popular foundation for the coming phase. They might also have prevented another massive disaster. I think Israel was preparing to implement the Trump administration’s proposals; the scenario that the Israelis were planning for was to pull Gaza into a military confrontation, which would justify more intense bombing than it has done in the past. The borders with Egypt would open, and people would flee into Egypt. But the march with its mass participation thwarted that plan.

IA: I find it hard to understand how Ramallah can be so tranquil considering the carnage in Gaza.

JJ:  It might seem that what is happening in the West Bank is not at all comparable to what is happening in Gaza. And that is true, it isn’t as massive. But actions are taking place in the West Bank, and they are also important. On a weekly basis people are gathering to protest at the checkpoints. Since 2011 there have been continuous outbursts (in Arabic, habbat); for example, in Jerusalem in the Bab al-Shams encampment and in the aftermath of the Abu Khdeir and Dawabshe killings (January 2013, July 2014, and July 2015, respectively).[4] These outbursts were significant and exemplary, the way Gaza is today. They reminded us of what the Palestinian people are capable of doing. I expect that these outbursts here and there will lead to widespread civil disobedience. Young people in Jerusalem and the West Bank have been going out to checkpoints in the hundreds, on a daily basis, and these conditions put one in the mindset of the first intifada.

We should take note of what Palestinians in Israel are doing as well. There are youth movements that are taking action in ways that are very impressive and a source of pride.  They defy the occupation and they involve large numbers of people, in Haifa and elsewhere.

IA: Let’s look at the relationship of Palestinians to formal political bodies. Recently the Palestinian National Council held its first meeting in 22 years. One might have thought that over the course of more than two decades, several issues and events warranted a meeting – regional events, the assassination of Yasir Arafat, and the status of the Oslo accords come to mind. But the convening of the PNC doesn’t seem to have generated much popular interest.

JJ: People did not pay much attention to it, but in fact they should be talking about it because it poses a threat. Meeting for the first time in 22 years, it did not even discuss what it has done since the last meeting! What it did do is effectively cancel itself, which means it is changing the structure of the PLO. There is an attempt to replace the Central Committee with a body consisting of the private sector, the political currents in the PA today, and elements of the security apparatus. No representation of Palestinians from the 1948 areas, or the diaspora, or even the Palestinian street. This is a threat to the Palestinian project.

The PLO as it has been transformed by Mahmoud Abbas threatens the national cause. It has been hijacked; our task is to restore it as a representative and unifying entity that works to support the Palestinian cause. The reform should be led by Palestinian groups and movements.

People have no confidence in the leadership; they don’t think it is capable of leading in the coming phase.  In fact, the outbursts I referred to earlier had the potential of triggering a third intifada.  People were waiting for a leadership to emerge, as happened during the first intifada; three months into the intifada, a unified leadership emerged and took charge. But this time, the PA wasn’t interested in assuming that role; three months into these protests, the PA sent its people to disrupt actions and prevent young people from gathering at checkpoints. The national factions were unable to form a unified leadership for obvious reasons.

IA: What is the alternative?

JJ: People have to create a national movement that can lead the change. What will lead the movement for change will not be a single individual. It will be a widespread national movement that has a real relationship with people on the ground, a movement that will direct the street. This is the only way change will take place. People have been waiting for a long time, but who are we waiting for? There is not going to be a great charismatic leader. We don’t talk about a heroic leader, we talk about a heroic people and a leadership of institutions.

We want a Palestinian state that represents all Palestinians. Within that broad outline, we say that right now, we have to protect the Palestinian project – the right to self-determination, and we all struggle for that right. We don’t have to get into a discussion about the final outcome. The time for the two state solution is clearly over—and in fact, that proposal provided the basis for trying to destroy our cause. The other option is clear. But like I said, we don’t want that discussion to detract from our focus now or to place us in conflict with the position of the PLO.

How do we support the Palestinian project? We have to confront what is happening in Jerusalem, the settlements. There has to be a practical program, not just slogans on paper. Palestinians in the diaspora should support these activities, get involved in the boycott movement, because we are part of that boycott movement. We are trying to keep the political work and the boycott movement separate to protect the boycott movement, because there is a Palestinian effort underway to weaken the BDS movement; through normalization, by invoking the PLO position. We consider the boycott movement an essential component of our activism.

This is what people are discussing today, here and with our people in the 1948 areas, and in the diaspora. There has to be a movement that preserves the unity of the Palestinian people and protects the national cause from liquidation. That’s what we are working on now. I expect that in the next few weeks there will be a meeting to put in writing some of the agreed upon principles underlying all of these actions. Many meetings have taken place, and they are being expanded.

SK: We are looking at all ways to get all Palestinians to participate under a banner of a common cause that unites us all. In the 1948 areas, the issue is colonization and civil rights, but Palestinians within Israel don’t find themselves too far apart from those in the West Bank and Gaza. In the West Bank, the issues are Judaization, settlements, attacks against the holy sites. Those in Gaza are concerned about 12-year siege and blockade, hunger, and murder. Those in the diaspora want the right of return. All of these are national issues that unite us, but each location faces specific threats.

The next phase will be difficult, as we figure out how to present a vision that unites all people, especially the youth, which have been marginalized, to be effective participants.  Since 2012, we have been in contact with the youth. About 76% of the population is 35 years old or younger. And yet no one is making a practical effort to involve them in political planning and decision making. As a campaign, we made a deliberate decision about this. Programs grow old, and so do people. So we need an extension, and the youth movement is part of that. Our hope is to create a mass youth activist base so that our energy will be renewed. We see in the diaspora and in the 1948 areas that the majority of activists are young – the marches in Haifa, confronting the Judaization of the Galilee, activism around the depopulated villages of 1948, the attempt to seize homes in Akka — young people are confronting these issues. We must raise the slogan of confronting colonialism, which is the main cause of what we face.  We Palestinians  have to work together, not against one another, and not expect solutions from others.

What they are doing is preparatory to a major outbreak; there will be a launch of boats to break the blockade, and not just from Gaza, and a rush toward all entry points to Palestine, without exception. Either we live with dignity, or we declare an intifada on those who deny us a life with dignity.

Everyone is targeted. In the West Bank, there are mass arrests, home demolitions, checkpoints, and people on the run. The idea of civil disobedience is not a slogan. We can rebel against all forms of Israeli control within the framework of a national program. Since the international community has not acted, what prevents Palestinians from adjacent countries from moving on mass to the border, as occurred in 2012 (and some were able to make it to Jaffa). Those in the diaspora might have ongoing marches in front of Israeli embassies and its supporters. They can paralyze Israel’s work in all countries. These are not the usual slogans or approaches to political work.  There is no need to hold on to agreements and positions that Israel long ago abandoned.

In 1948 we looked to what the international community might give us; it gave to Israel but nothing to us. There were conditions placed on it for recognition: its treatment of the Palestinian minority, accepting the Palestinian right of return, and the creation of a Palestinian state. None of them was fulfilled. After 1967, Palestinians agreed to accept 22% of historical Palestine, but even that was unacceptable for Israel. Palestinians can’t continue to think in terms of what Israel might be willing to give us.

We have a right to exist and to determine our own destiny. This is the issue that concerns us.

Notes.

[1] “Gaza protests: All the latest updates,” Al Jazeera, June 14, 2018, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/04/gaza-protest-latest-updates-180406092506561.html. See also Kate, “Israel has shot 29 medics at Gaza border, killing two,” Mondoweiss,http://mondoweiss.net/2018/06/israel-medics-killing/amp/

[2] Ida Audeh, “Interview with Jamal Juma’: PA ‘killing popular resistance.’” Electronic Intifada, August 8, 2011,https://electronicintifada.net/content/jamal-juma-pa-killing-popular-resistance/10249

[3] “Living conditions in Gaza ‘more and more wretched’ over past decade, UN finds,” UN News, 11 July 2017, https://news.un.org/en/story/2017/07/561302-living-conditions-gaza-more-and-more-wretched-over-past-decade-un-finds. Status Audio Journal Hosts, “Under siege: Daily life in Gaza with Rawan Yaghi,” Jadaliyya, May 16, 2018, http://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/37563/Under-Siege-Daily-Life-in-Gaza-with-Rawan-Yaghi. Gaza in Context Team, “Understanding Gaza in context,” Jadaliyya, May 16, 2018, http://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/37562/Understanding-Gaza

[4] The 2013 encampment known as Bab al-Shams was an attempt by Palestinians to thwart Israeli plans to establish a settlement on land in the E1 zone, between East Jerusalem and the Jewish-only settlement Ma’ale Adumim; the Israeli plan was designed to permanently sever the West Bank from East Jerusalem. Another encampment, Bab al-Karama, was set up in Beit Iksa and stormed by Israeli soldiers two days later. In July 2014, Israeli settlers in Jerusalem abducted 16-year-old Mohammad Abu Khdeir from Shufat and set him on fire; the ensuing demonstrations resulted in 160 Palestinians injured. Israel’s assault on Gaza began five days later. One year later, settlers set fire to a residence in Duma. The soul survivor of the attack was a 4-year-old child; the child’s parents and infant brother were killed. In 2015, a tent encampment, “Gate of Jerusalem,” was set up in Abu Dis to protest the Israeli government’s plans to displace Bedouin communities there. Beginning in September 2015 and lasting until the end of the year, protests spread from the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem throughout the West Bank; 108 Palestinians were killed and 12,260 were injured.  Palestinians in Israel demonstrated in solidarity.

Ida Audeh is a Palestinian from the West Bank who lives in Colorado. She is the editor of Birzeit University: The Story of a National Institution, published by Birzeit University in 2010. She can be reached at idaaudeh A T yahoo D O T com.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Joe Rogan interview with Robert Schoch

JRE #1124 – Robert Schoch from JoeRogan on Vimeo.

The Joe Rogan Experience #1124

Robert Schoch is an associate professor of Natural Sciences at the College of General Studies, Boston University. He has been best known as a proponent of the Sphinx water erosion hypothesis.

Check out links to more of his work at http://robertschoch.com


ORACUL

The scientific debate surrounding the origins of human civilization is far from settled. Independent research by scholars and professionals in the hard sciences has begun to challenge the accepted narrative of civilization’s beginnings. Today, there is a large body of evidence from a myriad of fields which argues convincingly for a revision of that narrative – pushing back the timeline for advanced culture by thousands of years.

Opposed by many orthodox scholars (whose interests are served by maintaining the status quo), serious scientists and professionals who attempt to bring attention to this contrary evidence are often ignored and ridiculed. Handicapped by a lack of funding, publicity, and professional networking, breakthrough research related to ancient cultures continues to languish in relative obscurity.

ORACUL works to bring this existing research to the attention of both the academic community and the public, as well as conducting new investigations into ancient cultures. This pioneering research involves not only professionals in the hard sciences, but also serious, out-of-the-box thinking in other disciplines. ORACUL will accomplish this goal by focusing on three primary areas of activity: Research Advocacy, Publishing, and Educational Outreach.

June 3, 2018 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | | Leave a comment

Egypt demolished 3,600 Sinai buildings in three months: Report

MEMO | May 22, 2018

The Egyptian army has “vastly expanded” the destruction of homes, commercial buildings and farms in Egypt’s North Sinai region since 9 February 2018, a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) said today.

Since 2014 the Egyptian government has pursued plans to create a buffer zone along its border with Gaza on the pretext that fighters and weapons are being smuggled through the tunnels that connect the peninsula to the Strip.

Activists have said this war on terror is better described as a war on civilians. Between July 2013 and August 2015 the Egyptian Army demolished at least 3,250 buildings to this effect, according to HRW.

In late 2017 authorities resumed demolitions with the view to creating another buffer zone around Al-Arish airport following a missile attack on an air base and military helicopter. On 9 February 2018 the Egyptian military intensified this military campaign with the launch of “Operation Sinai” which they said would rid the region of terrorism once and for all.

Under this operation demolitions have escalated. By analysing a time series of satellite imagery HRW has revealed that the military destroyed at least 3,ooo homes – the largest number since the 2014 campaign began – in just two months. Homes of alleged terrorists, activists and their relatives in North Sinai’s largest city Al-Arish have also been set on fire and then demolished.

There has been no judicial oversight of the demolitions and the government has cut electricity and water of the houses they are evicting to force people to leave.

According to the report residents were given between 24-48 hours warning to evict, no assistance for moving to temporary housing, no process to appeal compensation decisions or for destruction of or damage to farmland.

Middle East Director at HRW Sarah Leah Whitson said: “Turning people’s homes into rubble is part of the same self-defeating security plan that has restricted food and movement to inflict pain on Sinai residents.”

The Egyptian army claims it is protecting people from militants, but it’s absurd to think that destroying homes and displacing lifelong residents would make them safer.

The demolitions and forced evictions have exacerbated an already dire humanitarian situation in North Sinai, according to HRW, which has calculated that 420,000 residents in North Sinai have been in urgent need of humanitarian assistance since “Operation Sinai” began. With the destruction of farms entire extended families have lost their livelihoods.

Because it is illegal to enter Sinai without a permit, the lack of journalists and human rights workers there means there is an information blackout on the atrocities committed.

May 22, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment