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Egypt, Jordan, Morocco to attend US-led Palestinian conference

MEMO | June 11, 2019

Egypt, Jordan and Morocco have informed the Trump administration they will attend a US-led conference in Bahrain this month on proposals for boosting the Palestinian economy as part of a coming US peace plan, US officials said on Tuesday, reports Reuters.

Egypt and Jordan’s participation is considered especially important since historically they have been key players in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and are also the only Arab states to have reached peace agreements with Israel.

However, Palestinian leaders’ decision to boycott the June 25-26 conference has raised doubts about its chances for success. They have shunned a broader diplomatic effort that US President Donald Trump has called the “deal of the century,” which they see as likely to be heavily tilted in favour of Israel and denying them a state of their own.

Despite that, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a chief architect of the long-delayed peace plan, is pressing ahead with arrangements for the Bahrain meeting, where the economic components are expected to be unveiled as the first step in the plan’s rollout.

Acceptance of the invitation to the conference by Jordan and Egypt will bring to the table two countries that border both Israel and Palestinian areas.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have previously confirmed their attendance, a White House official said.

The official declined to say what level of representation the countries would send. US officials have said they were inviting economic and finance ministers, as well as business leaders from the region and around the world.

Global financial bodies including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank also plan to be present.

US officials have been vague about the timing for the second phase of their initiative, which would be the release of proposals for resolving the thorny political issues at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

With Israel heading for new elections in September after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to meet a deadline to form a government, uncertainty is expected to further delay the full release of the plan.

Most experts are skeptical the Trump administration can succeed where decades of US-backed efforts have failed.

 

June 11, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jordan monarch orders changes to $10 billion gas deal with Israel

Press TV – April 30, 2019

Jordanian King Abdullah II has ordered a review of his country’s multi-billion-dollar deal to import natural gas from the Israeli-occupied territories.

The London-based and Arabic-language Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, citing senior Jordanian political sources, reported that the king made the decision “in a technical report that examines Jordan’s interests from the continuation or the freezing of the agreement.”

Khaled Bakkar, the head of the finance committee in the Jordanian parliament, said the gas deal apart from being “blatant normalization” with the Israeli regime, is “economically weak” based on the feasibility studies.

He stressed that Jordan’s energy production surpassed the country’s needs, and the import of Israeli gas was only for the benefit of the Tel Aviv regime.

On September 26, 2016, Jordan’s National Electric Power Company signed a 10-billion-dollar deal with US-based Noble Energy and Israeli partners, which will tap the Leviathan natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel for the supply of approximately 1.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, or 300 million cubic feet per day (mcf/d), over a 15-year term. Production is expected to begin around 2019 or 2020.

On March 26, members of Jordan’s parliament called for the cancellation of the gas deal with Israel during a parliamentary session closed to the public.

House Speaker Atef Tarawneh stated that all sectors of the society and members of parliament utterly reject the Jordanian electricity company agreement to buy Israeli natural gas.

Several legislators argued that the multi-billion-dollar deal violates Article 33, section two of the Jordanian constitution, which states: “Treaties and agreements which entail any expenditures to the Treasury of the State or affect the public or private rights of Jordanians shall not be valid unless approved by the parliament; and in no case shall the secret terms in a treaty or agreement be contrary to the overt terms.”

Lawmaker Saddah al-Habashneh said the deal was unconstitutional, stressing that members of parliament were not given access to read what he called the “secret” deal.

“Why are they hiding it? It’s a clue that there is something. It is totally rejected,” he commented.

Habashneh then demanded the deal be scrapped along with Jordan’s peace accord with Israel – known as Wadi Araba Treaty and signed on October 26, 1994.

“We are calling for the Wadi Araba agreement to be dropped. What is peace when they’re attacking Gaza?” the parliamentarian said.

“And with yesterday’s recognition of the Golan Heights, what’s left? We want dignity,” he pointed out.

On March 25, US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation, formally recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The announcement came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the White House.

The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, in a statement, called the US decision a “blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Syria.

“The liberation of the Golan by all available means and its return to the Syrian motherland is an inalienable right,” according to the statement carried by Syria’s official news agency SANA, which added, “The decision … makes the United States the main enemy of the Arabs.”

The Arab League also condemned the move, saying “Trump’s recognition does not change the area’s status.”

Iran, Iraq, Russia and Turkey also condemned the US move.

Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria after the 1967 Six-Day War and later occupied it in a move that has never been recognized by the international community. The regime has built dozens of settlements in the area ever since and has used the region to carry out a number of military operations against the Syrian government.

May 1, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , | Leave a comment

Report: Egypt plan to lift siege requires disarmament of Gaza

MEMO | March 22, 2019

An Israeli report said that Egypt has put forward a plan for a settlement between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, led by Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. Israel Hayom newspaper reported on Thursday that “according to security sources in Egypt and Palestinian officials in Gaza and Ramallah, Israel and Egypt have become convinced that Hamas’s control in Gaza is a self-evident fact.”

Israel Hayom quoted Egyptian security sources and Palestinian officials in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It explained that the Egyptian proposal stated that they would disarm the factions – except for light weapons – in exchange for lifting the siege on the Gaza Strip.

According to this plan, all internal affairs will remain in the hands of Palestinian organisations headed by Hamas or a unified political entity for all organisations in the Strip. The internal security of the Gaza Strip will be based on “Hamas National Security Forces, which are currently operating.” The arms that will be in possession of the Internal Security Forces will be light weapons, in small quantities and subject to a strict control system.

In turn, the Israeli and Egyptian siege on the Gaza Strip will be lifted, according to the newspaper. Also, projects in the areas of infrastructure, employment, economy, health and education, financed by the United Nations, the European Union and Arab countries, “led by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE,” will be implemented. The plan calls for the opening of a maritime route to the Gaza port, which will allow in the first stage the export and import of goods directly to the Gaza Strip.

The newspaper asserted that “these parties have succumbed to the fact that the Palestinian Authority will have difficulty in regaining control in the Gaza Strip, whether after an internal Palestinian reconciliation, or because of the collapse of Hamas rule against the backdrop of the grave humanitarian situation, or because of the continued military confrontation with Israel.”

According to the newspaper, Egyptian sources stated that the Israeli policy towards the Strip is “soft,” and that this stems from Israel’s unwillingness to allow the “Hamas regime” to collapse and in anticipation that in the event of Hamas’s collapse, “extremist groups loyal to Iran or Salafist groups similar to Daesh will enter” to fill the vacuum.

The newspaper further said that estimates in Israel and Egypt indicate that “such a settlement can be implemented within three to five years, but the main obstacle is that Hamas and other Palestinian armed factions will oppose disarmament.”

Quoting sources it described as officials in Ramallah, the newspaper added that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO leadership would agree to “overthrow” Hamas and the factions in Gaza “only in case it led such a process when the control of Gaza is in the hands of the Palestinian Authority.”

The newspaper asserted that US security bodies obtained a draft of the plan which was formulated by Israeli and Egyptian crews. It quoted an Egyptian security official saying: “We are currently waiting for the new government to be elected in Israel to speed up the process; while the goal after the Israeli elections is the entry of other influential Arab countries, such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the UAE.”

The Egyptian security official added that “if Abu Mazen and the leadership in Ramallah do not put obstacles, the plan can be put into effect with the full cooperation of all the regional actors and through providing guarantees and assistance by the international community. But, it is estimated that there will be strong opposition to the disarmament plan of the Gaza Strip by the PLO and mainly by the armed factions in Gaza.”

March 22, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Minister: Jordan ending land lease ‘provocation’ to Israel

MEMO | October 23, 2018

The Israeli Agriculture Minister, Uri Ariel, of the right-wing Jewish Home party has described the decision of King Abdullah of Jordan to end a lease of two areas of land to Israel that was agreed in annexes to the 1994 peace treaty between the two countries as “provocative”.

“I call on Prime Minister, Netanyahu to explain to the king that Jordan needs Tel Aviv more than Israel needs Jordan,” Ariel is reported to have said. “Israel provides Jordan with large quantities of water. If it were not for this water, the people of Amman would have water only two days a week instead of four,” the Israeli minister was quoted as saying said.

Ariel also called on King Abdullah to “extend the land lease agreement to benefit Israeli farmers” in the region.

There was no official comment from Jordan in response to Ariel’s remarks.

Jordan said on Sunday it would not extend the 25-year deal that allows Israel to use two tracts of territory along its border just as Israel said it was still planning to negotiate an extension.

“These are Jordanian lands and they will remain..” the monarch said. In an “era of regional turmoil” his kingdom -sandwiched between Syria to the north, Iraq to the east and Israel to its west – Jordan wanted to protect its “national interests,” Abdullah said.

October 23, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | Leave a comment

The Real Reasons behind Washington’s War on UNRWA

By Ramzy Baroud | Dissident Voice | September 27, 2018

The US government’s decision to slash funds provided to the United Nations agency that cares for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, is part of a new American-Israeli strategy aimed at redefining the rules of the game altogether.

As a result, UNRWA is experiencing its worst financial crisis. The gap in its budget is estimated at around $217 million, and is rapidly increasing. Aside from future catastrophic events that would result in discontinuing services and urgent humanitarian aid to five million refugees registered with UNRWA, the impact of the US callous decision is already reverberating in many refugee camps across the region. Currently, UNRWA has downgraded many of its services: laying off many teachers, reducing staff and working hours at various clinics.

Nearly 40 percent of all Palestinian refugees live in Jordan, a country that is already overwhelmed by a million Syrian refugees who sought shelter there because of the grinding and deadly war in their own country.

Aware of Jordan’s vulnerability, American emissaries attempted to barter with the country to heed the US demand of revoking the status of the two million Palestinian refugees. Instead of funding UNRWA, Washington offered to re-channel the funds directly to the Jordanian government. Thus, the US hopes that the Palestinian refugee status would no longer be applicable. Unsurprisingly, Jordan refused the American offer.

News of this failed barter resurfaced last August. It was reported that US President Donald Trump’s special envoy, Jared Kushner, tried to sway the Jordanian government during his visit to Amman in June.

Washington and Israel are seeking to simply remove the ‘Right of Return’ for Palestinian refugees, as enshrined in international law, from the political agenda altogether.

Coupled with Washington’s strategy to “remove Jerusalem from the table,” the American strategy is neither random nor impulsive.

“It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA,” Kushner wrote to the US Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, in an email last January. The email, among others, was later leaked to Foreign Policy magazine. “This (agency) perpetuates a status quo,” he also wrote, referring to UNRWA as “corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace.”

This notion that UNRWA sustains the status quo – meaning the political rights of Palestinians refugees – is the main reason behind the American war on the Organization, a fact that is confirmed through statements made by top Israeli officials, too.

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, echoed the American sentiment. UNRWA “has proven itself an impediment to resolving the conflict by keeping the Palestinians in perpetual refugee status,” he said.

Certainly, the US cutting of funds to UNRWA coincides with the defunding of all programs that provide any kind of aid to the Palestinian people. But the targeting of UNRWA is mostly concerned with the status of Palestinian refugees, a status that has irked Tel Aviv for 70 years.

Why does Israel want to place Palestinian refugees in a status-less category?

The refugee status is already a precarious one. To be a Palestinian refugee means living perpetually in limbo – unable to reclaim what has been lost, and unable to fashion an alternative future and a life of freedom and dignity.

How are Palestinians to reconstruct their identity that has been shattered by decades of exile, when Israel has constantly hinged its own existence as a ‘Jewish state’ on opposing the return and repatriation of Palestinian refugees? Per Israel’s logic, the mere Palestinian demand for the implementation of the internationally-sanctioned Right of Return is equivalent to a call for “genocide”. According to that same faulty logic, the fact that the Palestinian people live and multiply is a “demographic threat” to Israel.

Much can be said about the circumstances behind the creation of UNRWA by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1949 – its operations, efficiency and the effectiveness of its work. But for most Palestinians, UNRWA is not a relief organization, per se; being registered as a refugee with UNRWA provides Palestinians with a temporary identity, the same identity that allowed four generations of refugees to navigate decades of exile.

UNRWA’s stamp of “refugee” on every certificate that millions of Palestinians possess – birth, death and everything else in between – has served as a compass, pointing back to the places those refugees come from – not the refugee camps scattered in Palestine and across the region, but the 600 towns and villages that were destroyed during the Zionist assault on Palestine.

These villages may have been erased, as a whole new country was established upon their ruins, but the Palestinian refugee remained – subsisted, resisted and plotted her return home. The UNRWA refugee status is the international recognition of this inalienable right.

Therefore, the current US-Israeli war does not target UNRWA as a UN body, but as an organization that allows millions of Palestinians to maintain their identity as refugees with non-negotiable rights until their return to their ancestral homeland. Nearly 70 years after its founding, UNRWA remains essential and irreplaceable.

The founders of Israel envisioned a future where Palestinian refugees would eventually disappear into the larger population of the Middle East. Seventy years on, the Israelis still entertain that same illusion.

Now, with the help of the Trump administration, they are orchestrating yet more sinister campaigns to make Palestinian refugees vanish, wished away through the destruction of UNRWA and the redefining of the refugee status of millions of Palestinians.

The fate of Palestinian refugees seems to be of no relevance to Trump, Kushner and other US officials. The Americans are now hoping that their strategy will finally bring Palestinians to their knees so that they will ultimately submit to the Israeli government’s dictates.

The latest US-Israeli folly will prove futile. Successive US administrations have done everything in their power to support Israel and to punish the supposedly intransigent Palestinians. The Right of Return, however, remained the driving force behind Palestinian resistance, as the Gaza Great March of Return, ongoing since March, continues to demonstrate.

The truth is that all the money in Washington’s coffers will not reverse what is now a deeply embedded belief in the hearts and minds of millions of refugees throughout Palestine, the Middle East and the world.


Dr. Ramzy Baroud is an author and a journalist. He is athor of The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle and his latest My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story. He can be reached at ramzybaroud@hotmail.com.

September 27, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Israel won’t prosecute embassy guard over Jordan shootings

MEMO | January 21, 2018

Israel will not prosecute a guard from its embassy in Amman who killed two Jordanians in July, as had long been demanded by the kingdom, two Israeli sources said to Reuters on Sunday.

Instead, the Foreign Ministry and Shin Bet security agency will review protocols surrounding the actions taken by the guard, Ze’ev Moyal, and his conduct, “and share the results with the Jordanians”, a diplomatic source said.

The killings led to a rift between the countries, which both said last week had been mended.

Jordan said Israel had apologised for the embassy deaths, would compensate the victims’ next of kin and “implement and follow up legal measures” in the case.

Jordanian officials were not immediately available to comment on the diplomatic source’s account. Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman declined comment.

Amman had previously demanded a homicide trial for the guard, whose repatriation under diplomatic immunity and hero’s welcome by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu angered Jordanians.

Israel said in the aftermath of the incident that the guard had acted in self-defence, shooting a workman who stabbed and wounded him lightly, and that the second Jordanian was killed by stray fire.

Asked on Sunday whether criminal prosecution of the guard was possible, a second Israeli official told Reuters on condition of anonymity: “No way.”

The guard’s prospects of remaining in the Israeli secret service may be in doubt, however, after a Jordanian newspaper published his name and photograph. Other fine-print elements of the reconciliation deal were designed to limit legal culpability for Israel, the diplomatic source said.

Israel would not pay damages to the next of kin directly, but instead provide a $5 million lump sum for the Jordanian government to disburse as compensation, that source said. The money is also meant to cover the needs of the family of a Jordanian shot dead by an Israeli border guard in 2014.

Two sources close to the families confirmed the payout sum.

The Israeli diplomatic source said the Netanyahu government had not apologised for the shooting of the alleged assailant but rather “voiced regret”.

On Thursday, a Jordanian government spokesman said Israel had sent a memorandum stating its “deep regrets and apologies”.

Yet Israel distinguishes between the two expressions of contrition, seeing in the latter a potential admission of guilt.

See Also:

Israel to Jordan: Reopen embassy or you will run dry

January 21, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 2 Comments

Behind the mask of liberalism, security has priority over human rights in Jordan

By Inès Osman | MEMO | November 11, 2107

In the western world, Queen Rania of Jordan is viewed largely as one of the most progressive leaders in the Arab and Islamic region. Describing herself as “a mum and a wife with a really cool day job”, her social media accounts – which have approximately 27 million followers, almost three times her country’s population – feature both family portraits and pictures of her meeting women and children in refugee camps.

However, behind this glossy image lies a different reality for Jordanian citizens. For a start, anyone who dares to criticise either the Queen herself or her husband King Abdullah II faces between one to three years in prison under article 195 of the Penal Code. When, in January 2017, a former member of parliament published an article on Facebook denouncing corruption and asking whether the King was aware of the situation, he was arrested by the intelligence services and charged with “insulting the King” and “undermining the political regime”; the latter constitutes a terrorist offence in Jordan.

Alarmingly, this former MP is only one of many peaceful dissenting voices who have become victims of Jordan’s repressive apparatus made up of the General Intelligence Directorate (GID) and the State Security Court (SSC), both under tight control of the executive. The GID, known commonly as the mukhabarat with a director who is appointed directly by the King, is tasked with carrying out operations to “safeguard national security”. In practice, however, the intelligence services have been cracking down on dissent by means of arbitrary arrest and torture.

Although the GID is no law enforcement agency, it arrests and takes suspects to its headquarters, where they are detained with no access to the outside world, be it their lawyer or family. During this period, detainees are subjected to torture and forced to make self-incriminating statements, which are then used as the sole evidence against them at trial. In 2015, the United Nations (UN) Committee against Torture denounced the “widespread” use of this practice by the intelligence services, and called on Jordan to limit the powers of the GID.

It seems unlikely that the authorities will take measures to that end, given that the GID has so far responded to such criticism with denials. Indeed, on its website, the GID states that such reports are “exaggerated”, “politically motivated” and ultimately aimed at “harming Jordan’s good image and standing in the international community.”

However, the GID is not acting alone. Its judicial counterpart, the State Security Court, is another part of this repressive machinery. Not only is its General Prosecutor a military officer sitting at the GID headquarters, but the SSC judges – two from the military and one civilian – are nominated by the Prime Minister and can be replaced at any time by executive decision.

UN human rights bodies have raised concerns repeatedly over the lack of independence and impartiality of this exceptional jurisdiction. On 9 November, after reviewing the human rights situation in Jordan, the UN Human Rights Committee – a group of independent experts assessing the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) worldwide – published its concluding observations, in which it called for the abolition of Jordan’s SSC. The Committee had already made this recommendation twice before in 1994 and 2010, but the authorities have not taken any steps towards its effective implementation to date.

The SSC relies on a flawed legal framework to prosecute those who have exercised their right to freedom of expression. The victims face charges of terrorism, the definition of which has been broadened over the years to include acts of free speech.

It was in October 2001, following the 9/11 attacks, that the Penal Code was amended to criminalise acts of terrorism for the first time. Back then, article 149 was enacted, listing as a terrorist crime any act that would “encourage the contestation of the political system” or “aim at changing the fundamental structure of society”. Several years later, in 2006, the authorities promulgated the “Prevention of Terrorism Act” in response to the 2005 hotel bombings in Amman. In 2014, the law was broadened to include nonviolent acts aimed at “causing disorder to the public order” or “disturbing relations with a foreign country”, definitions which are flawed and leave room for interpretation.

While Jordanian officials claimed that this move was aimed at providing a better response to threats of spillover from the Syrian conflict, in practice, these amendments have allowed the authorities to silence more dissenting voices. In its November 2017 conclusions, the Human Rights Committee reiterated its 2010 call to amend the Anti-Terrorism Law to bring it into compliance with the ICCPR, despite the authorities’ claim that the law is “living up to Jordan’s international obligations”.

Following a wave of demonstrations in 2011 in the context of the Arab Spring, Jordan’s monarch called for “sky-high” freedoms. However, it was also in 2011 that article 149 of the Penal Code was used for the first time against teachers who were protesting near the Prime Minister’s offices for the establishment of a teachers’ syndicate.

Since then, dozens of critics, journalists, political opponents and peaceful demonstrators alike have been arrested and tortured by the GID, and then prosecuted before the State Security Court under terrorism charges for merely having expressed their opinion.

A telling example of the political nature of such judicial harassment is the case of the well-known TV and radio presenter Amjad Qourshah, who was arrested in June 2016 after criticising Jordan’s participation in the US-led international coalition against Daesh. Qourshah had published a video on YouTube in which he stated that Arab states were being forced to fight a war that was not theirs. The State Security Court Prosecutor charged him with “disturbing relations with a foreign state” under the Anti-Terrorism Law.

As a strong ally of western countries, Jordan seems to be succeeding in maintaining its liberal image. In January 2015, Queen Rania and King Abdullah were among the world leaders who marched to defend the right to freedom of expression in Paris following the terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo. Nevertheless, at the same time, the authorities have continued to clamp down on freedom of expression in the Hashemite Kingdom under the pretext of “national security”.

Such contradictions seem rooted in Jordanian politics. In March 2016, the authorities launched a ten-year Comprehensive National Plan for Human Rights, which set among its priorities the enhancement of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Six months later, the Media Commission prohibited news outlets from reporting any news about the King or other members of the royal family.

This gap between Jordan’s liberal public image and conservative domestic policy is largely going unnoticed within the international community. However, as the UN Human Rights Committee recalled recently, one of the Kingdom’s most pressing challenges remains the need to find a balance between security and human rights; behind the liberal mask, the former still has priority over the latter.

November 11, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 1 Comment

What Israel is Fighting for in the Middle-Eastern Mess?

By Valery Kulikov – New Eastern Outlook – 24.10.2017

As forces of the so-called Islamic State terrorist group are pushed across Syria and Iraq, one can clearly see Israel’s shifting position regarding the situation in Syria, which can be explained by Tel-Aviv’s desire to reorder the Middle East.

It’s clear that Israel has finally realized that it’s been betting on the wrong side in Syria and is now risks losing all. It goes without saying that once defeated, Israel’s leadership will be in no position to demand anything from anyone. This includes failing to establish a security zone within the Golan Heights, as well as failed ambitions over controlling the Iraqi-Syrian border which now will likely not come to fruition. In fact, the panic mode that the Netanyahu administration has been in for a while reflects the dramatic changes that are taking place in Syria and across the region. After Israel’s betting on the losing party for so long, Tel-Aviv has no other choice but to pursue damage control in a desperate bid to save its Jordanian and Kurdish proxies. Its new strategy states that it must draw Iraq and Syria away from Iran and integrate them into the Israeli-American-Saudi alliance.

Over the last six years of conflict in Syria, Israel would try to avoid any direct military confrontation. Only recently Israeli aircraft and artillery have started launching strikes inside Syrian territory. Among their targets included Hezbollah, which is fighting on the side of the Syrian government, but also military facilities of the Syrian Arab Army as well. In particular, the recent bombardment of Israeli artillery targeting Syrian army positions in the Golan Heights, according to Israeli media reports, destroyed three Syrian artillery positions.

Israel has always been deeply involved in the Syrian conflict. Repeated statements by Israeli officials that “Tel-Aviv pursues a policy of non-interference in the Syrian civil war” have been circulating within Western media sources for years. However, in a recent series of explanations given by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to European officials, he would acknowledge that Tel-Aviv destroyed dozens of Iranian convoys fighting in the Syrian Arab Republic against ISIS hordes. On June 18, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel and Saudi Arabia were allies from the very beginning of the Syrian conflict, as Israel supplied the Syrian rebels operating alongside its borders with money, food, fuel and even drugs. The Wall Street Journal has also added that Israel might be sponsoring a total of four rebel groups operating inside Syria. These groups would use the cash provided to them to pay mercenaries and buy ammunition. These revelations, according to Zero Hedge, can also explain why ISIS terrorists would never attack Israeli citizens or launch operations deep inside Israel’s territory despite their close proximity.

According to Telegram’s Directorate 4 channel, militants have recently released a video of one of their gangs using anti-aircraft ammunition delivered from Israel while engaged in a deadly firefight against Syrian government troops in the vicinity of Daraa. It is noted that this was not the first time that media sources received confirmation that Israel has been supplying weapons to miltiants depicted by the West as “radical Islmasists.” In addition, it’s been repeatedly reported that Israel has been providing medical aid to militants wounded in Syria.

In mid-October it was reported that Syrian troops discovered four warehouses filled with US and Israeli-made weapons in the liberated Syrian city of Mayadin.

Tel Aviv’s sympathy for ISIS was confirmed last May by the editor of Politico, Bryan Bender, who visited Israel just before US President Donald Trump’s visit, discovering that Israeli military forces did not want the US to fulfill its promise to crush the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria .

Regarding the policy of Israel, a number of regional politicians and experts have noted an abrupt increase in its attempts to provoke the so-called redrawing of the Middle East map, which will inevitably result in the weakening of some countries across the region. This was stated, in particular, at the press conference given by Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli in early October. Fazli would emphasize Israel’s support for the referendum of independence in Iraqi Kurdistan, for the sole purpose of weakening Tel-Aviv’s opponents in the Middle East.

The consistent political support for an Iraqi Kurdistan provided by Israel has recently been emphasized by the commander of the elite paramilitary Peshmerga unit known as Black Tiger, General Sirwan Barzani, the nephew of long-time leader of the Iraqi Kurds – Masoud Barzani. Israelis have been freely visiting Iraqi Kurdistan with their national passports, although such a paper would make anyone an unwelcome visitor across the Arab world. Israeli companies are beginning to unofficially operate in Erbil, while the Kurds are seeking the support of the Israeli lobby in the US in hopes that it would support Kurdistan’s independence. Last year, the Kurdish authorities announced the opening of a “representative office for relations with Jews”, which can be viewed as a nascent diplomatic mission.

Of course, there’s intelligence cooperation to be found between Israel and Iraqi Kurdistan. Simply, the “common enemy” has now changed – instead of targeting the hated Sunni regime of Saddam Hussein, those services are now targeting the government of the now Shia Arab majority along with Iran which supports it. There is no doubt that through Kurdistan, Israeli special services have been enjoying ready access to the territories of Iran and Iraq, which in the event of a major war would be a crucial factor.

However, the Kurds are not cooperating with Israel openly because they are afraid of the wrath of Iran and the Arab world that it may trigger.

Israel’s goals in supporting Iraqi Kurds are truly multifaceted. One of them, according to the former Israeli intelligence officer Alexander Grinberg, is to resist Iran’s influence while maintaining leverage against Turkey. Especially given the fact that commercial relations between Turkey and Israel began to develop rapidly and both Ankara and Tel-Aviv share a number of positions on the Iranian issue, in spite of the fact that Erdogan is an impulsive leader with anti-Semitic and dictatorial habits, while according to the opinion prevailing in Israel today, it’s Turkey that is the main supporter of Hamas, not Qatar.

In a bid to preserve its role as a major Middle Eastern power in the eyes of America’s elite, Israel has offered Washington a plan that may allow it to push Iran both from Syria and the regional scene. The plan was drafted under the supervision of Israel’s Minister of Transportation and Intelligence, Yisrael Katz, and approved by the country’s top political leadership. According to the Katz Plan, Washington must recognize the Golan Heights occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967 as Israel’s sovereign territory. Such a recognition will grant Israel a number of advantages, especially in the matter of striking the positions of Hezbollah within Syrian territory, particularly those found in the immediate vicinity of the disputed heights. Also in the Katz plan, special emphasis is placed on preventing the permanent military basing of Iranians in Syria. In this regard, the US is recommended to tighten sanctions against Tehran on the pretext that Iran is “supporting terrorism.”

Tel-Aviv is also aware of the growing role that Russia is playing in the Middle East, so it wants to get Moscow on board with its plan of pushing pro-Iranian forces out of Syria. In order to achieve this goal Tel Aviv has been unprecedentedly active in approaching Moscow along with its “allied” Arab leaders: Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. In exchange for reviewing its relations with Iran, Russia, which has already established two permanent military bases in Syrian territory, is promised to receive a whole set of “preferences”, including the tacit acceptance of Russian jurisdiction over Crimea by the West, the lifting of Western sanctions, the restoration of Russia’s membership in the G8, and guarantees on the preservation of Moscow’s air and naval bases in the Syrian provinces of Latakia and Tartus. There is another “benefit” for Russia in the form of keeping President Bashar Assad in power in Damascus indefinitely, as well as supplying Riyadh with Russian arms and the list goes on and on.

October 25, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why Israel is flexing muscles at Hezbollah

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | September 7, 2017

The Israeli armed forces began a massive fortnight-long military exercise on Tuesday, billed as the biggest in the past 19 years, simulating a war with Lebanon’s Hezbollah. The Jerusalem Post reported that “thousands of soldiers and reservists from all different branches of the IDF (cyber, intelligence, ground forces, the air force and the navy) are going to coordinate their operations as during wartime.”

Hezbollah has reacted with disdain, a top official taunting Israel, “we are ready for any attack or Israeli stupidity.” He added, “The Israelis won’t succeed in surprising us, because Israel knows full well [what] Hezbollah’s capabilities are after the loss it suffered in 2006 [in the Second Lebanon War], which deterred the IDF.”

Israel’s advantage will be that Hezbollah is embroiled in other conflicts, in particular the Syrian conflict. Hezbollah’s capability, on the other hand, has vastly increased since 2006 and there is some merit in its claim of being “the second largest military in the Middle East,” apart from having at least 100,000 rockets aimed at Israeli targets. Logically speaking, a war is improbable but then, nothing is beyond the realms of possibility in the Middle East region.

Israel will be sorely tempted to test Hezbollah’s increased capabilities now rather than later, because a point of no return may be reached soon and will have a hard time holding itself back. The fact of the matter is that Israel is coming face to face with a new security paradigm that would have seemed incredible even six months ago. The spectre that haunts Israel today is that for the first time since the 1967 war, the balance of forces is shifting adversely.

Sharmine Narwani, a seasoned Beirut-based analyst of Middle East politics (and a personal friend of mine) has written an insightful piece in the American Conservative connecting the dots and explaining how a once-favorable balance of power has suddenly shifted in a direction that clips Israel’s wings.” She analyses that for a start, Israel is failing spectacularly in its attempt to dictate the limits to Iran’s presence in post-conflict Syria.

Israel knocked on the doors of the Trump White House to get the US troops to take on the responsibility of the so-called de-escalation zone in southern Syria bordering Golan Heights. But the Pentagon cold-shouldered the idea. Thereafter, three weeks ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to Sochi to meet President Vladimir Putin to convey a veiled threat that Israel may choose to intervene if Russia did not rein in Iran’s influence in Syria. Putin, it seems, was also unimpressed.

In fact, the magnificent victory this week by the Syrian government forces in breaking the ISIS’ 840-day siege of the eastern Syrian city Dier Ezzor in the Euphrates Valley was possible only with the participation side-by-side by the Russian Special Forces, Iranian militia and Hezbollah. Moscow may have sent a strong signal to Netanyahu when RT, which is closely identified with the Kremlin, featured an unprecedented interview with the Hezbollah leader Sheikh Naim Kassem on Tuesday where he thoroughly denounced Israel’s “main part in Syria’s destruction” having been “an important supporter of the armed opposition, especially in the southern part of Syria.”

But there are other dimensions to the emergent security scenario as well that are worrying Israel. One, Hezbollah has successfully cleaned up the border regions separating Lebanon and Syria, where there was a big presence of the extremist Syrian opposition groups, including ISIS (some of which had enjoyed covert Israeli backing.) That has “freed up Hezbollah forces for deployment on other fronts – including its southern border with Israel.” It is a matter of time now before Hezbollah goes for the jugular veins of the extremist groups, especially the al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front, which are ensconced in the border of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights (with Israeli support.) If and when that happens, Hezbollah (and Iran) would be Israel’s next-door neighbor in the Golan Heights.

Additionally, Jordan, which used to be Israel’s main staging post for operations in Syria, is showing signs of “defecting” to the Russian side. This is not surprising because Jordan sees the writing on the wall, especially after the Gulf Arab states began distancing themselves from the Syrian cauldron in the most recent months. Russia has been quietly cultivating Jordan. The Saudi establishment media organ Al-Arabiya carried a report on Monday to the effect that Jordan is edging toward re-opening relations with Syria and that Damascus is reciprocating the sentiment. It quoted a Syrian official as saying, “Hearts in Syria and Jordan still beat for each other and this reflects the Arab people’s longing for the project of reawakening and liberation.”

Meanwhile there are signs that Turkey may mediate a normalization between Jordan and Iran, too. What Israel is unlikely to overlook is that Hamas is also re-establishing links with Tehran. The new Hamas leader Yehiyeh Sinwar was quoted as saying on Monday that Iran is now “the largest backer financially and militarily” to Hamas’ armed wing. (Fox News)

So, we get here an interesting regional line-up of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Jordan, Iraq and Iran which have a shared antipathy toward Israel for one reason or the other. Paradoxically, the recent spat within the Gulf Cooperation Council has erased the sectarian divide in the regional politics, which of course has a multiplier effect on Iran’s regional influence. Equally, Israel is viewed as a key patron of the Kurdish separatist movement in Iraq, while Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran have congruent interest in preventing, no matter what it takes, the emergence of an independent Kurdistan on the regional map. All in all, therefore, the victory in the Syrian war greatly boosts Iran’s regional standing and gives it land access to the East Mediterranean coast.

Read Sharmine Narwani’s article Israel’s Geopolitical Gut Check, here.

September 7, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Syrian Arab Army takes control of Jordanian border

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | June 9, 2017

Fierce fighting with ISIS and US backed jihadists in southern Syria has been ongoing for months. In June, two convoys of Syrian and allied soldiers came under fire from US forces illegally operating in the desert areas of southern Syria near the borders with Iraq and Jordan.

Today, the Russian General Staff announced that Syrian forces are now in full control of 105 kilometres of the border with Jordan. Jordan which for decades has been hostile to Syria has been an important passage for terrorists and illegal armed forces entering Syria.

The Russian General Staff who work closely with the Syrian Arab Army as part of the anti-terrorist coalition in the country issued the following statement as offered by Russian Col. Gen. Sergei Surovikin,

“As part of the advance of the Syrian army and militia on Daesh’s (ISIS) positions, the control over 105 kilometres of the Syrian-Jordanian border has been restored

The efforts of the government forces on establishing full control over the Syrian-Jordanian border and the border with Iraq continue”.

This not only will help seal off areas where militants can enter Syria but crucially it will send a clear message to the Jordanian armed forces that their presence will not be allowed nor tolerated in Syria.

June 9, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | Leave a comment

Jordanian protesters urge government to scrap gas deals with Israel

Press TV – March 25, 2017

Hundreds of Jordanians have staged a protest rally to voice their outrage at Amman’s gas agreements with the Israeli regime, calling on the government to scrap the ‘deals of shame.’

The protesters took to the streets of the capital, Amman, on Friday, carrying national flags and holding signs to decry Israel-Jordan gas deals, the latest of which was inked in September last year.

During the march, the Jordanian demonstrators chanted slogans such as “Our dignity is dropping from deals of shame,” with some holding posters that read, “USA stop commissioning on our blood.”

The Jordanian National Campaign also joined voices with the protesters, calling on the government to drop the 2016 deal as it represents an obstacle to the country’s independence and economic development.

Besides the dependency aspect, activists argue that the money, which will be paid to Israel by Amman under such accords, will be used to finance Tel Aviv’s military and its occupation of Palestinian lands.

In September 2016, a deal was struck between an Israeli gas consortium and the Jordan Electric Power Company, valued at $10 billion (€9.25 billion).

Under the deal, the US-based Noble Energy company and other investors in Israel’s largest gas field will supply Jordan’s national electric company with 8.5 million cubic meters of gas over 15 years.

The agreement was quickly met with widespread popular opposition in Jordan, promoting thousands of people to fill the streets and slam the government over “gas imports from the Zionist enemy.”

The new turnout on Friday came weeks after Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the regime in Tel Aviv has been quietly exporting natural gas to Jordan through an American intermediary firm.

According to the report, gas deliveries to two Jordanian companies, the state-owned Arab Potash and Jordan Bromine, started in January. The firms had signed a 500-million-dollar, 15-year deal three years ago to purchase gas from Israel’s Tamar partners. The US State Department had acted as a mediator to forge the deal.

Over the past months, Jordan has been rocked by separate rallies held in protest at high living expenses and unemployment.

The Jordanian government is one of the only two Arab regimes that have open, diplomatic relations with Israel — the other being Egypt.

Tel Aviv and Amman signed a peace agreement in 1994, but many Jordanians are firmly opposed to normalization of ties with the occupying regime of Israel.

March 25, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Leave a comment