Fadhil Mohammed Jawad, a senior legal adviser to the Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki told “Shafaq News”, that “all ministers attended the special session and voted without any pressure on the proposed amendment of accountability and justice law”.
The Justice and Accountability Law targets prominent members of the Baath Party and prohibited them from occupying government positions, a step that made tens of thousands of them lose their jobs; their properties were confiscated as well.
Iraq’s Council of Ministers held an urgent session on April 7 in which an amendment to the legislation was approved that allows Baathists to return to the jobs they occupied during the former regime or to refer them to retirement.
“A senior Baathist – if highly professionalized - will be allowed to take over any government position if it comes on the best interest of the people” the Deputy Prime Minister, Saleh al-Mutlaq said while explaining the recent amendment made to AJ code.
The head of the Sadrist bloc in the parliament, Bahaa al-Araji said in a press conference held today in the Conference Center in Baghdad that his bloc will reject AJL.
The Sadrist Movement is an Iraqi Islamist national movement led by Muqtada al-Sadr. The movement draws wide support from across Iraqi society and especially from the Shi'a poor in the country. The most important person in setting the goals and the philosophy of the movement was Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr. A prominent preceding influence had also been Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr. The movement is religious and populist. Its goal is a society ordered by a combination of religious laws and tribal customs. (Wikipedia)
How stable is Iraq?
Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad Interview
Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad had a lengthy interview with Syrian Ikhbariya News Channel on the occasion of Syria’s Independence Day 17 April, 2013.
"I believe that Syria [..] is exposed to a new colonization-attempt by all means and methods. There’s an attempt to invade Syria with forces coming from abroad from different nationalities, even though it’s following a new tactic.., and there’s also an attempt to occupy Syria, culturally: an intellectual invasion in 2 directions either by taking Syria into subservience and submission by major powers, specifically the West or in another direction which is submission (of Syria) to the dark and Takfiri forces."
"....There is a group of thieves, there’s a group of mercenaries which receives money from abroad to carry out particular sabotage and there are the Takfiris, or Al-Qaeda, or Nusra Front, all of them are under the same ideology umbrella.
"We are dealing with a totally different situation, a new war, a new method we are dealing with groups entering cities, some of it are not Syrian, foreigners, Arabic and some are Syrian,... At the beginning of the military operations carried out by the Armed Forces, it was expelling the terrorists from the cities sometimes it would take only a few hours, we see those terrorists leaving a place and going into another, fleeing or maneuvering, which means you’re spending all the time liberating lands endlessly to be precise about this point... We are now not liberating land, now we are eliminating the terrorists..."
"Media and political side is not our first priority, maybe the other side benefits from it, that doesn’t matter, what matters is the reality. Sometimes we ignore the media fact so they go drumming and tooting to show victories (propaganda), this doesn’t concern us..."
[We are nog against religion] "Secularism for us is freedom of religions. We are a diverse society, so each followers of a sect or religion are free to follow and perform their rituals in the way they deem suitable. This also means that we as a state do not act based on a religion when a number of individuals apply for a job, for instance, we don’t ask which religion they are, that is not our concern, or to which race, religion or ethnicity, we must not discriminate based on the religion or the ethnicity this is the concept (of secularism).
"When a family head sits with the children, or children together, they do not negotiate, they discuss, so when we sit with each other as Syrians we discuss, we say dialogue among Syrians and not negotiations between Syrians. If someone assumes himself as a stranger, he can say negotiation and if he assumes himself following foreign powers, as the case is for some, they can use the term of negotiations..."
"The moral responsibility they are talking about, also recently, is a responsibility to withdraw the bases of ethics and destroying the basics of ethic the Syrian community is built upon... We should be subservient people and know it is not possible to defeat the major powers... These terms consecrate for us the opposite thing: to always say no to subservience, no to dependency, no to surrender and no to defeatism."
"If there was no optimism in Syria [..] we wouldn’t have fought primarily, and we wouldn’t have withstood as Syrians, but this optimism we, as officials and as a state, draw from the people, and I personally draw optimism from my meetings with people, but in particular from the families of the martyrs..., [...] this is boundless patriotism, this is what pushes us towards optimism, and we have no other option but to win..."
Hashemi meets al-Qaradawi
On 21 February 2011, he talked about the protests in Libya and issued a fatwa against Muammar Gaddafi:
“...To the officers and the soldiers who are able to kill Muammar Gaddafi, to whoever among them is able to shoot him with a bullet and to free the country and [God’s] servants from him, I issue this fatwa (uftî): Do it! That man wants to exterminate the people (sha‘b). As for me, I protect the people (sha‘b) and I issue this fatwa: Whoever among them is able to shoot him with a bullet and to free us from his evil, to free Libya and its great people from the evil of this man and from the danger of him, let him do so!'
He strongly criticized the way Saddam was hanged:
“A human soul must be respected. These people did not respect the human soul. The man was calm and kept his cool. He refused to be blindfolded, and insisted upon facing death with open eyes.. and said the two parts of the shahada....The man died saying: 'There is no God but Allah'....Anybody whose last words are 'There is no God but Allah' goes to Paradise. The thing that improves [the record] of Saddam Hussein is that in his final years – as the brothers in Iraq tell us – he was a changed man. He began to strictly observe the prayers, to read the Quran, and to do charitable work. He would hasten to do anything that may help people. He would help build mosques, and would say that if anybody wants to build a mosque, the government should pay half the cost of the building materials. When they entered his secret hideout and caught him, they found a prayer carpet and an open Quran.'
Qaradawi fled Egypt when Nasser figured out that he could not allow the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) to remain as a fifth column inside Egypt. It was no secret that while Nasser was aligned with the socialist camp, the MB served as a tool of the US and Gulf regime during the Cold War...
Gulf regimes (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE primarily) opened their borders and universities and ministries to the Islamists. They filled top posts in government, particularly in education, awqaf (religious endowment), and even in policy making. Sudanese Islamists were instrumental in drafting the constitutions of several Gulf states.
Qaradawi was hosted in Qatar and he taught at its university. But unlike most Islamists in exile, he established a close relationship with the current Emir. Qaradawi was a key ingredient in the formation of Al Jazeera, and he even helped staff the network with many Islamists from several Arab countries.
Qaradawi has been noted for his political cowardice: not only for his subservience (like all other Islamists in the GCC countries) to the ruler, but for strictly adhering to the foreign policies of the ruler. Qaradawi never ever criticized Bashar Assad and even showered him with praise, until the Emir decided to break with the Assad regime. Qaradawi was also favorable in his views on Iran until this past year when Qatar changed course.
Qaradawi is but one case of a phenomenon in the Arab world: a cleric for hire.
Iraq has submerged into one of its bloodiest chapters with more than 100 dead in two days of violence across the ethnically divided state.
“It reflects ongoing sectarian violence that was released in 2003 when we removed Saddam Hussein,” professor Lawrence Davidson, from Westchester University told RT.
On Wednesday, clashes erupted in North of the country when government forces clashed with Sunni protesters, following the deaths of at least 56 people at a protest camp near Kirkuk on Tuesday. The army raided the camp in Hawija, where Sunni Muslims have have been gathering for month to protest what they see as their marginalization under the Shia-led Maliki government. ...
Thousands of Sunnis have been protesting since December over what they see as an effort by Prime Minister Nouri al - Maliki to keep them out of top positions in the government. They have also protested against tough anti-terrorism laws that they say discriminates against their religion.
Under the legislature, government forces constantly carry out arrests in Sunni areas on charges of terrorism and ties to the deposed Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein.
Professor Davidson blames the US forces for unleashing the ethnic unrest in the country: “Since 2003, thousands, tens of thousands people have died as a part of this sectarian violence. We (US) opened the Pandora’s box and we could not close it even when we were there,” he argues.
Prime Minister Maliki has offered some compromises to Sunni leaders, even to amend the anti-terrorism laws, but most Sunni tribal leaders say they will not be enough to appease their followers.
A car bomb has exploded outside the French embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli, wounding two French guards and several residents. The blast in Tripoli destroyed the embassy's ground-floor reception area and perimeter wall, as well as damaging neighbouring homes and shops.
The US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi was attacked by armed men in September 2012, leading to the killing of ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other American officials
The bombing of the French Embassy in Tripoli has produced widespread media coverage in France, with journalists and analysts trying to understand what could have triggered such a violent act against the state that took the lead in mobilising the international community against the Qaddafi regime.
All major media outlets quoted French President Francois Hollande who stressed that the attack was directed against “not only France but all those within the international community who have taken up the fight against terrorism”.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius visited the site of the explosion, as well as other damaged buildings in the neighbourhood together with his Libyan counterpart, Mohamed Abdelaziz.
“This attack could have easily resulted in a carnage had the Embassy staff been present”, he stated, according to the newspaper. “It was only a matter of minutes”. In a joint press conference later yesterday afternoon, he made it clear that the attack was no reason to let go of the French-Libyan partnership rather, on the contrary, a reason to strengthen it.
“The terrorists (who carried out the attack) intended to strike France and Libya and our friendship”, he declared. “We condemn in the strongest terms this cowardly and hateful attack whose intention was to kill”.
News reports pointed at the overall lack of security in Libya, adding that the Libyan authorities were struggling to cope with semi-freelance militias and Islamist groups that have taken advantage of the post-revolution power-vacuum. Parallels were also drawn to the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi last September.
Le Monde spoke of an “increasingly insecure environment” where “militias dictate the law”. Pierre Rousselin, deputy editor of Le Figaro – France’s main conservative newspaper – said the embassy attack “carries the fingerprints of AQIM (Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), and is therefore to be seen as a retaliation to France’s involvement in Mali”. “Libya is in the process of disintegrating, which is being exploited by terrorists liked to Al-Qaeda”, he proclaimed.
“Since the fall of Qaddafi, the country has turned into a quasi-federal system, in which cities such as Misrata and Benghazi are seeking to usurp the prerogatives of the central state”, said Mathieu Pellerin (France24). The political analyst interpreted this not merely as a struggle for power among disparate groups and local communities but as the acting-out of a greater political game, in which the liberal and reformist camp is loosing power and the Muslim Brotherhood is gaining foothold.
Selim Idriss, 8-3-2013
Though most of the myriad rebel groups operating on the ground are technically affiliated with Gen Idriss, in practice they operate more or less autonomously. Observers say rent and resources have been a factor in recent clashes behind opposition lines.
Both Gen Idriss and a local activist cited such competition as a reason for recent clashes between al-Nasra and the Farouq Brigades, one of the larger rebel groups which controls a strategic area on the border between Raqqa and Turkey. ...
“We don’t like to see these problems,” said Gen Idriss. “We will do anything we can to stop such fighting.”
When asked whether or not his new force would end up in a confrontation with powerful groups in control of the oilfields, such as Jabhat al-Nusrah, he said he hoped “not to have a battle”.
The rebel plan emerged as the EU lifted its embargo on Syrian oil exports in the hope of providing greater sustenance to opposition groups.
Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister, told reporters before Monday’s meeting that a partial lifting of the embargo would give greater economic support to the rebels... William Hague, the UK foreign secretary, said the security situation would make it difficult to export oil but that it was “important for us to send the signal that we are open to helping in other ways”.
Jordan will not play a military role in Syria and will continue its efforts to find a political solution to the conflict in its northern neighbour, according to a senior Jordanian official.
King Abdullah’s meeting with US President Barack Obama is part of efforts by Jordan to arrive at such a solution. The Kingdom does not condone efforts to resolve the conflict through military means. The King is expected to advise the US against any military interference in the conflict, stressing that Jordan is against “having US military boots on Syrian soil”, the official told The Jordan Times.
The official continued that Jordan stands for starting a political dialogue at various levels, including a US-Russian understanding related to stopping bloodshed in Syria and moving towards a new political era that “would preserve the interests of all”.
“The Syrian crisis should not be allowed to turn into a cause for another Cold War, and should be a reason for all, including the Americans, the Europeans and the Russians to come together,” the official added.
“The US should show political leadership in the global arena, starting with the Syrian crisis, which is having a great impact on Jordan,” he added. ..
The official said that Jordan is keen to contain the conflict, which has turned into a sectarian feud, and to ensure that the forces of moderation would prevail to save the region from prolonged strife.
TEHRAN, Apr. 27 (MNA) –Saudi Justice Minister has announced that the country intends to continue its ban on the construction all non-Muslim places of worship.
Saudi daily Al-Sharq reported that Justice Minister Mohammed al-Issa confirmed in his meeting with EU Parliament representatives that his country followed Wahhabist-Salafist ideology, and that Saudi government “does not allow the establishment of non-Muslim places of worship.”
Saudi media quoted the Minister, writing that “a country hosting the most sacred shrines of Muslims, would not allow construction of other non-Muslim places of worship. The remarks by al-Issa came in response to a question by EU parliament representatives on the issue. Al-Issa then explained the rules governing the Saudi Judiciary.
Saudi Arabia has been under the criticism of many human rights organizations for the lack of religious freedom and ban on practicing other religions.
Saudi government has based its behavior on Islamic rules and principles, while Islam has emphasized on the freedom of religion.
TEHRAN, Apr. 27 (MNA) – Former intelligence minister Ali Younesi said on Friday that Hassan Rohani has entered the presidential competition with a full support from Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Rohani, the former secretary of the Supreme National Security Council who led Iran’s nuclear negotiations with the European Union trio of Britain, France, and Germany during President Mohammad Khatami’s administration currently chairs the Expediency Council Strategic Research Center.
If Rafsanjani or Khatami decides to contest the election, Rohani will withdraw his presidential bid because “he will not compete with these two persons,” the former intelligence chief said.
Now Rafsanjani and Khatami enjoy great support among people, especially the youth, and Rohani has entered the election race to “continue the path of these two persons”.
TEHRAN, Jan. 23 (MNA) – “The new government will have many challenges and the new president’s job will be very tough,” Hassan Rohani, director of the Research Center of the Expediency Council, said in an interview with the Persian service of the Mehr News Agency. “At least in the area of economy, the new government will face great problems,” Rohani said.
For example, he said, turbulence in the foreign currency market, high commodity prices, and foreign trade are among issues that the next government should tackle with.
He added that financial, monetary, banking issues and social affairs, especially the income gap created between social classes, are also among other problems that the next administration should deal with.
The former secretary of the Supreme National Security Council also said that the next president should present practical plans for resolving problems.
“Anybody who wants to stand as a candidate in the upcoming presidential election should work out a solution and present practical plans for these problems.”
Speaking at a conference on the “20 Years Perspectives and a Progressive Foreign Policy”, Hojjatoleslam Hassan Rohani pointed out at the ambiguities of the Iranian political “jargon”, saying “we still have not reached an agreement on many problems, on how to conduct our foreign policy, on how to deal with our interlocutors, on how to present our policies to the world opinion”. ....
“One day they said we should not talk to the foreigners because they are spies and inflidels, they are traitors, and then they changed their minds, said the spies are nice people. How can we explain such contradictions?” Mr. Rohani asked.
Mr. Rohani criticised the harsh and coarse language of the President and his insistence that the Islamic Republic is a model for the whole world, particularly the Islamic nations, saying: “We can not say we want progress and development and at the same time insist that we don’t care about the world…, a world that more and more is interconnected, a world in which we need a good policy, not coarse words”.
“In our foreign policy, do we want to be ambiguous, or clear, do we want the region and the world to be afraid of us or to be our friends, do we want to become everyday more fearful or more attractive?”, the outspoken cleric [..] concluded. (Iran Press Service 2008)
TEHRAN (Christian Science Monitor)- Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Shirin Ebadi are among several key Iranian public figures saying that only direct, unconditional talks with the U.S. can ease spiraling tensions.
Mr. Khatami – the reformist cleric who was twice elected in landslide victories – and Ms. Ebadi – a human rights lawyer who just launched a National Peace Council – are suggesting that hard-liners in the U.S. and Iran should no longer dictate the terms of division. One Iranian analyst says: It's time to call the bluff on both sides – and talk.
""The solution is for both sides to resort to logic, refrain from provocative rhetoric, and put the emphasis on negotiations,"" Khatami told the Monitor. ""We have no choice but to overcome misunderstandings that mostly stem from the meddling of the U.S. (in the Middle East) and its wrong policies in Iran,"" said Khatami. ""We can find common interests in the region and the world. And we can also avoid actions that would be damaging to both sides.""
""Attacking Iraq was beyond international rules, and (the U.S.) should not make the same mistake regarding Iran,"" said Ebadi . ""Both governments (Iran and the U.S.) should change their dialogue, bring down their rhetoric and reduce tensions.""
The framework for a ""grand bargain"" that would have addressed all outstanding issues emerged in spring 2003 with a two-page fax from Tehran to Washington. The offer was ignored by a U.S. administration emboldened by the swift fall of Saddam Hussein. (Teheran Times 2-12-2007)
A Fountain Of Life"The civil society which we aspire to establish is based on our collective identity whose attainment requires the continuous and ceaseless endeavours of intellectuals and thinkers. It is not a treasure that can be unearthed overnight, rather, it is a fountain of life and morality from whose constant effusion we will benefit.
Seyyed Mohammad Khatami
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran 2003
DAMASCUS, (SANA)- Minister of Justice, Najm al-Ahamd, said the Ministry is working on preparing special laws related to the crimes of stealing and selling Syrian oil, mutilation, joining terrorist groups and recruiting children in terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra.
The Minister's statements came during a meeting of the People's Assembly's Freedoms and Human Rights Committee on Sunday, which discussed issues of missing and kidnapped people and mechanisms of combating terrorism and administrative corruption among others.
The Minister said the corruption at the Ministry of Justice is an administrative one and not judicial, stressing that a radical and real solution to the phenomenon of corruption should start with automating both administrative and judicial work, which is what the Ministry will embark on soon in several provinces.
He called for establishing a new TV channel that is specialized in the parliamentary and legal fields to follow up the People's Assembly sessions and the meetings of the committees specialized in studying some laws.
Iraq has suspended Qatar-based Al Jazeera and nine other satellite TV channels from broadcast, citing "unprofessional reporting” that generated inter-ethnic strife in the war-torn country.
The Iraqi Communication and Media Commission said in a statement on Sunday that the satellite channels had “exaggerated things, given misinformation and called for breaking the law and attacking Iraqi security forces.”
The statement accused the channels of “openly advertising terrorist organizations” banned in Iraq, as well as threatening to “jeopardize the democratic process” in the country.
“We took a decision to suspend the license of some satellite channels that adopted language encouraging violence and sectarianism,” Mujahid Abu al-Hail of the Communications and Media Commission told AFP.
Al Jazeera and Sharqiya, a popular channel in Iraq, are among the 10 suspended channels. Al Jazeera was not formally notified of the move in advance, the Qatari channel said on their website.
Egypt's ruling Muslim Brotherhood is trying to exact revenge on the judiciary for years of imprisonment and political exclusion, but is attacking the wrong target, opposition leader Amr Moussa said on Monday.
The elder statesman told Reuters that Egypt faced an exceptional "to-be-or-not-to-be crisis" worse than after its 1967 defeat by Israel, and Islamist President Mohamed Mursi would do better to pursue national unity rather than division.
Asked what had prompted the campaign against the judiciary, Moussa said: "I believe it is a strange feeling of revenge, of punishment. Some say that the judges were responsible for it (their imprisonment). In fact this was not true. They got a lot of rulings from the judges that they were innocent."
The Muslim Brotherhood was outlawed for much of its nearly 80-year existence, and its members were repeatedly imprisoned, tortured and barred from most political activity under former President Hosni Mubarak, who was overthrown in a 2011 uprising.
Moussa said the Brotherhood was wrong to brand him a "remnant" of the old regime, simply because he had served Mubarak for a decade as foreign minister. ...
"Egypt is not divided between the Muslim Brotherhood and others, or between people of today and people of yesterday. Egypt is for all Egyptians..."
Mursi's Islamist allies had proposed a law to force judges to retire at 60 instead of 70 that would have purged nearly one-third of the 13,000 judges and prosecutors at a stroke, and replace them with new appointees.
These newcomers would be an unknown quantity, Moussa suggested. "Are they going to be judges in the right sense of the word or just political agents?" he asked.
Moussa said a growing number of Egyptians were so discontented with the political and economic situation that they were beginning to call for a return to military rule. ...
"That shows the effects of the wrong policies, the ill-considered policies that have been formed by the Brotherhood. It brought back the desire of the people for the protection of the army against policies that they disagree with," he said.
In an interview with the Syrian Arab TV on Monday evening, State Minister for the National Reconciliation affairs, Ali Haidar, said that terrorist acts will not discourage the Syrians who are working actively to overcome the crisis.
He added : " We are a state of institutions, which does not get affected by terrorist acts or assassination, but rather we will remain on the way of progress and reconstruction." ...
He called on those who bet on violence to realize that they are being used as fuel and shields by some foreign sides that will abandon them one day.
He said that the international objective conditions are heading towards the political solution, stressing " the US-Western intervention is now behind us, as the search for the solution lies in certain details that allow the preparations for a dialogue table among the Syrians."
Haidar stressed that the national reconciliation is a project for all the Syrians, as it is a political project that should include everybody.
DAMASCUS, (SANA)- President Bashar al-Assad visited the Umawyeen Electricity Station at Tishreen Park in Damascus and congratulated its staff and all workers of Syria on the occasion of the Workers' Day.
During this visit, President al-Assad said that the values of work are associated with the meanings of dedication, building, production, strength and good, all of which are embodied in Syria's workers...
President al-Assad said that Syria's workers proved during the war which has been targeting the country for over two years that they will always remain one of the elements of Syria's strength, and not the other way around, asserting that the attempts to target the infrastructure which was built with Syrian hands will not dissuade workers from continuing to carry out their duties, despite the fact that hundreds of them were martyred at the hands of terrorists.
He said that Syria's workers stood up against the terrorists' attempts and maintained the availability of services, noting that this is one of the components of the steadfastness of the country in the face of the war targeting it and its citizens.
In a statement to journalists after the visit, Electricity Minister Imad Khamis said [..] that the electricity sector is one of the sectors that were targeted the most by terrorists, as many workers in this sector were martyred while repairing and maintaining electricity grids, adding that workshops are working around the clock to restore the electric grid to its normal state.
Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari has said that the foreign-backed militants in Syria have used chemical material against civilians during an attack on a town near Idlib.
Bashar al-Jaafari said at a press conference that the militants spread the contents of plastic bags containing chemical material during the attack.
Many residents were affected by the armed groups’ “heinous and irresponsible act,” the Syrian envoy said, warning that it was an attempt to “implicate the Syrian government on a false basis.” Some of the victims were transferred to Turkey for treatment, Jaafari added.
The envoy went on to say that 'today or tomorrow Ankara and Western media would launch a new propaganda campaign against Damascus and claim that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against its own people.'
Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama has said Washington did not know how chemical material was used in another recent attack in Aleppo.
The Syrian government requested the UN to dispatch a fact-finding mission to the country after reports circulated that the foreign-backed militants had used chemical weapons against civilians in Khan al-Assal district of the northwestern province of Aleppo on March 19.
Emir of Qatar, april 2011
Mohamed Magarief discusses
After President Obama’s remarks about chemical weapons use in Syria, many newspaper articles appeared suggesting that he was rethinking his opposition to US involvement there. They were wrong, and weren’t listening. Obama said we don’t know who used the chemical weapons or to what extent. That isn’t building a case for intervention, it is knocking it down.
Obama learned from Iraq and Afghanistan that US military intervention in the Middle East doesn’t actually work very well. Iraq is still a security basket case, with over 400 dead in bombings and attacks in April (nowhere near the high of 3000 a month in 2006 when the US was in charge of security — but still no paradise). It has been 11 years and we are still stuck in Afghanistan, nor have we “stood up” a credible Afghan government.
Why people think a US intervention in Syria would go better, I don’t know. They always forget that generals are about winning quickly, even at the cost of civilian lives, and that a lot of carpetbaggers always show up in any war to find ways of profiting from it. Billions were looted from Iraq by American bureaucrat-criminals.
Sen. John McCain argues for an aerial intervention, which more or less worked in Libya. But Syria is not like Libya in any way.
Syria’s weapons depots, tanks and artillery are not out in some desert where they can be bombed with few casualties. They are in the cities. Bombing them would kill a lot of innocent civilians...
If the concern is chemical weapons, those cannot be dealt with (must not be dealt with) by bombing them. That step would just release them into the air and kill people.
If an aerial intervention is not practicable, what about arming the rebels? The latter are already armed, so what this proposal really entails is giving them medium and heavy weaponry. But there is no way to keep such weapons out of the hands of radicals within the rebel camp. Moreover, having a lot of medium to heavy weaponry flood into a country can destabilize it for decades...
Despite a year’s worth of diplomacy backed by sanctions, Assad and his top lieutenants show no signs of giving up and taking the path into foreign exile. To the contrary, they appear to be accelerating their fight to the finish. And they are doing so with the shameless support of foreign governments, especially in Russia, China, and Iran. ...
It is understandable that the Administration is reluctant to move beyond diplomacy and sanctions. Unfortunately, this policy is increasingly disconnected from the dire conditions on the ground in Syria, which has become a full-blown state of armed conflict. In the face of this new reality, the Administration’s approach to Syria is starting to look more like a hope than a strategy. So, too, does their continued insistence that Assad’s fall is “inevitable.” ... Even if we do assume that Assad will ultimately fall, that may still take a really long time.
The United States has a clear national security interest in stopping the violence in Syria and forcing Assad to leave power. In this way, Syria is very different than Libya: The stakes are far higher, both for America and some of our closest allies.
This regime in Syria serves as the main forward operating base of the Iranian regime in the heart of the Arab world. It has supported Palestinian terrorist groups and funneled arms of all kinds, including tens of thousands of rockets, to Hezbollah in Lebanon. It remains a committed enemy of Israel. It has large stockpiles of chemical weapons and materials and has sought to develop a nuclear weapons capability. It was the primary gateway for the countless foreign fighters who infiltrated into Iraq and killed our troops. Assad and his lieutenants have the blood of hundreds of Americans on their hands. ...
The end of the Assad regime would sever Hezbollah’s lifeline to Iran, eliminate a long-standing threat to Israel, bolster Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence, and inflict a strategic defeat on the Iranian regime. It would be a geopolitical success of the first order.
If Assad manages to cling to power it would be a strategic and moral defeat for the United States. We cannot, we must not, allow this to happen. ... Assad needs to know that he will not win. ...
Therefore, at the request of the Syrian National Council, the Free Syrian Army, and Local Coordinating Committees inside the country, the United States should lead an international effort to protect key population centers in Syria, especially in the north, through airstrikes on Assad’s forces. To be clear: This will require the United States to suppress enemy air defenses in at least part of the country.
The ultimate goal of airstrikes should be to establish and defend safe havens in Syria, especially in the north, in which opposition forces can organize and plan their political and military activities against Assad.
There will be no U.N. Security Council mandate for such an operation. Russia and China took that option off the table long ago. But let’s not forget: NATO took military action to save Kosovo in 1999 without formal U.N. authorization. There is no reason why the Arab League, or NATO, or a leading coalition within the Friends of Syria contact group, or all of them speaking in unison, could not provide a similar international mandate for military measures  today. ...
John McCain is a Republican Senator from Arizona. This text is a speech he delivered on the Senate floor and agreed to publish as a TNR article.
DAMASCUS, (SANA)_ President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday participated with thousands of students in the inauguration of the memorial of Syrian Universities' Martyrs at Damascus University.
After the inauguration ceremony, President al-Assad talked with the families of the martyrs and a group of students, stressing that the terrorist groups targeted university students and institutions because of their obscurantist ideology.
President al-Assad added that these groups which are fighting the Syrian people and their regional and western supporters could not bear the statue of Abu al-Alaa al-Maarri or the Suspension Bridge of Der Ezzor, which is a cultural monument, so they will not bear the idea of Syrian youths who are armed with knowledge to confront their obscurantism and criminality.
Abul 'Ala Al-Ma'arri (born AD 973 / AH 363, died AD 1058 / AH 449) was a blind Arab philosopher, poet and writer.
He was a controversial rationalist of his time, attacking the dogmas of religion rejecting the claim that Islam or any other religion possessed the truths they claim and considered the speech of prophets as a lie (literally, "forge") and (some of it) "impossible" to be true.
He was equally sarcastic towards the religions of Muslims, Jews, and Christians. He was also a vegan who argued for animal rights.
He started his career as a poet at an early age, at about 11 or 12 years old. He was educated at first in Ma'arra and Aleppo, later also in Antioch and other Syrian cities. Among his teachers in Aleppo were companions from the circle of Ibn Khalawayh. This grammarian and Islamic scholar had died in AH 370 (AD 980/1), when Al-Ma'arri was still a child. Al-Ma'arri nevertheless laments the loss of Ibn '_alawayh in strong terms in a poem of his Risalat al-ghufran. ...
Al-Ma'arri was skeptic in his beliefs and denounced superstition and dogmatism in religion. Thus, he has been described as a pessimistic freethinker. One of the recurring themes of his philosophy was the rights of reason against the claims of custom, tradition and authority.
Al-Ma'arri criticized many of the dogmas of Islam, such as the Hajj, which he called, "a heathen's journey."
He rejected claims of any divine revelation. His creed was that of a philosopher and ascetic, for whom reason provides a moral guide, and virtue is its own reward.
His religious skepticism and positively antireligious views are expressed in a poem which states "The inhabitants of the earth are of two sorts: those with brains, but no religion, and those with religion, but no brains."
He was equally sarcastic towards the religion of Islam as he was towards Judaism and Christianity. Al-Ma'arri remarked that monks in their cloisters or devotees in their mosques were blindly following the beliefs of their locality: if they were born among Magians or Sabians they would have become Magians or Sabians. (Wikipedia info)
An Islamic saying – reportedly derived from al-Shafi‘i – states that anyone who wants the world, he should be knowledgeable, and anyone who wants the hereafter, he should be knowledgeable, and anyone who wants both, he should be knowledgeable.
In his eye-opening book 'Closing of the muslim mind', foreign policy expert Robert R. Reilly uncovers the root of our contemporary crisis: a pivotal struggle waged within the Muslim world nearly a millennium ago. In a heated battle over the role of reason, the side of irrationality won. The deformed theology that resulted, Reilly reveals, produced the spiritual pathology of Islamism, and a deeply dysfunctional culture.
Developing multiple approaches to solving problems is necessary. In our world, diversity has been the essence of survival. In Ziauddin Sardar’s word (1988), “it is not the fittest who survive, but those who use plurality of means”. Therefore, monolithic approaches to reform would be insufficient and lead to disappointment.
If Muslim scholars divert their focus of concern away from debating which path is the best onto maximizing their energy to benefit from all paths, we could potentially help flourish science and technology in Muslim countries more rapidly.
Developing multiple approaches could also mean that we have to engage people from diverse fields and backgrounds to address our common challenges, including civil society activists, business people, journalists, politicians, religious leaders and interfaith organizers. The diversity of actors might contribute to the level of success we would able to achieve.
To respond to contemporary intellectual challenges, Muslim community has to enable the (re)emergence of a great deal of responsible,
independent, devoted, creative intellectuals from within the community itself, particularly among youth and women – who have been increasingly capable of being active, leading actors in society partly due to much better access to training and education facilities.
The Muslim world today is sometimes said to be devoid of intellectuals (people who pose, define, analyze and solve problems in society), partly because many of Muslim societies seem to be anti-intellectual.
Intellectuals are the group of people in a society who are able to move away from the confines of specialism or professionalism to see problems in their wider, holistic perspective.
Producing intellectuals is surely a much heavier task than producing mere print scholars, researchers, professionals and specialists.
Dr. Abdul Mu’ti is Professor at the State Institute for Islamic Studies (IAIN) Walisongo, Semarang, Indonesia.
The Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The “redirection,” as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran.
The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
One contradictory aspect of the new strategy is that, in Iraq, most of the insurgent violence directed at the American military has come from Sunni forces, and not from Shiites.
After the revolution of 1979 brought a religious government to power, the United States broke with Iran and cultivated closer relations with the leaders of Sunni Arab states such as Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.
That calculation became more complex after the September 11th attacks, especially with regard to the Saudis. Al Qaeda is Sunni, and many of its operatives came from extremist religious circles inside Saudi Arabia.
Before the invasion of Iraq, in 2003, Administration officials, influenced by neoconservative ideologues, assumed that a Shiite government there could provide a pro-American balance to Sunni extremists, since Iraq’s Shiite majority had been oppressed under Saddam Hussein. They ignored warnings from the intelligence community about the ties between Iraqi Shiite leaders and Iran, where some had lived in exile for years. Now, to the distress of the White House, Iran has forged a close relationship with the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
The new American policy, in its broad outlines, has been discussed publicly. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that there is “a new strategic alignment in the Middle East,” separating “reformers” and “extremists”; she pointed to the Sunni states as centers of moderation, and said that Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah were “on the other side of that divide.” Iran and Syria, she said, “have made their choice and their choice is to destabilize.”
The key players behind the redirection are Vice-President Dick Cheney, the deputy national-security adviser Elliott Abrams, the departing Ambassador to Iraq (and nominee for United Nations Ambassador), Zalmay Khalilzad, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national-security adviser. ...
The policy shift has brought Saudi Arabia and Israel into a new strategic embrace, largely because both countries see Iran as an existential threat.
They have been involved in direct talks, and the Saudis, who believe that greater stability in Israel and Palestine will give Iran less leverage in the region, have become more involved in Arab-Israeli negotiations. ...
“It seems there has been a debate inside the government over what’s the biggest danger — Iran or Sunni radicals?,” Vali Nasr, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told me. “The Saudis and some in the Administration have been arguing that the biggest threat is Iran and the Sunni radicals are the lesser enemies. This is a victory for the Saudi line.”
President George W. Bush, in a speech on January 10th 2007, partially spelled out this approach. “These two regimes”—Iran and Syria—“are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq,” Bush said. “Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We’ll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.”
The Administration’s concern about Iran’s role in Iraq is coupled with its long-standing alarm over Iran’s nuclear program. On Fox News on January 14th, Cheney warned of the possibility, in a few years, “of a nuclear-armed Iran, astride the world’s supply of oil, able to affect adversely the global economy, prepared to use terrorist organizations and/or their nuclear weapons to threaten their neighbors and others around the world.” He also said, “If you go and talk with the Gulf states or if you talk with the Saudis or if you talk with the Israelis or the Jordanians, the entire region is worried. . . . The threat Iran represents is growing.” ...
In the past year, the Saudis, the Israelis, and the Bush Administration have developed a series of informal understandings about their new strategic direction. At least four main elements were involved, a U.S. government consultant told me.
* First, Israel would be assured that its security was paramount and that Washington and Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states shared its concern about Iran.
* Second, the Saudis would urge Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian party that has received support from Iran, to curtail its anti-Israeli aggression and to begin serious talks about sharing leadership with Fatah, the more secular Palestinian group.
* The third component was that the Bush Administration would work directly with Sunni nations to counteract Shiite ascendance in the region.
* Fourth, the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. ...
The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, a branch of a radical Sunni movement founded in Egypt in 1928, engaged in more than a decade of violent opposition to the regime of Hafez Assad, Bashir’s father. In 1982, the Brotherhood took control of the city of Hama; Assad bombarded the city for a week. Membership in the Brotherhood is punishable by death in Syria. The Brotherhood is also an avowed enemy of the U.S. and of Israel.
There is evidence that the Administration’s redirection strategy has benefitted the Brotherhood. ... A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement.” ...
The Bush Administration’s reliance on clandestine operations that have not been reported to Congress and its dealings with intermediaries with questionable agendas have recalled, for some in Washington, an earlier chapter in history.
Two decades ago, the Reagan Administration attempted to fund the Nicaraguan contras illegally, with the help of secret arms sales to Iran. Saudi money was involved in what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal, and a few of the players back then—notably Prince Bandar and Elliott Abrams—are involved in today’s dealings. ...
“This goes back to Iran-Contra,” a former National Security Council aide told me. “And much of what they’re doing is to keep the agency out of it.” He said that Congress was not being briefed on the full extent of the U.S.-Saudi operations.
Bandar bin Sultan (born 2 March 1949) is a member of the House of Saud and was Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States from 1983 to 2005. In 2005, he was named as Secretary General of the National Security Council. He was appointed Director General of the Saudi Intelligence Agency by King Abdullah on 19 July 2012.
Prince Bandar bin Sultan has been coordinating Saudi Arabia's policies towards the Syrian uprising since being appointed intelligence chief by King Abdullah. Bandar's reputation as an inveterate networker and hawk have fuelled anticipation about how he will handle the bloodiest crisis of the Arab spring. Bandar took over the Syria "file" from the king's son Abdelaziz, a deputy foreign minister.
On Sunday, Israel dropped massive bombs near Damascus... The Jerusalem Post quoted "a senior Syrian military source" as claiming that "Israel used depleted uranium shells", though that is not confirmed. The NYT cited a "high-ranking Syrian military official" who said the bombs "struck several critical military facilities in some of the country's most tightly secured and strategic areas" and killed "dozens of elite troops stationed near the presidential palace", while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that "at least 42 soldiers were killed in the strikes, and another 100 who would usually be at the targeted sites remain unaccounted for."
Israeli defenders claim that its air attack targeted weapons provided by Iran that would have ended up in the hands of Hezbollah. Obama officials quickly told media outlets that "the administration is fully supportive of Israel's airstrikes". ...
Because people who cheer for military action by their side like to pretend that they're something more than primitive "might-makes-right" tribalists, the claim is being hauled out that Israel's actions are justified by the "principle" that it has the right to defend itself from foreign weapons in the hands of hostile forces. ...
Few things are more ludicrous than the attempt by advocates of US and Israeli militarism to pretend that they're applying anything remotely resembling "principles". Their only cognizable "principle" is rank tribalism: My Side is superior, and therefore we are entitled to do things that Our Enemies are not. ...
Israel and the US (and its dictatorial allies in Riyadh and Doha) have the absolute right to bomb other countries or arm rebels in those countries if they perceive doing so is necessary to stop a threat...
This whole debate would be much more tolerable if it were at least honestly acknowledged that what is driving the discussion are tribalistic notions of entitlement and nothing more noble.
What does Israel hope to gain by its accelerating attacks on Syria?
Officially, Israeli leaders claim that they are trying to prevent weapons transfers to Hezbollah. But this seems a flimsy pretext. Hezbollah already has a well-stocked arsenal of missiles, enough to deter Israel from repeating its failed 2006 invasion of Lebanon.
Obviously, Israel has a broader strategic objective. By bombing Syrian government targets, Israel is trying to hinder the Syrians, who are winning their war against foreign-backed militants. The Zionists hope to prolong the war in Syria, maximize death and destruction, turn Syria into a failed state, and spread sectarian chaos throughout the Middle East.
This is the hidden agenda behind Benjamin Netanyahu's explanation for his attack on Syria. Rationalizing his decision to bomb Syria, Netanyahu said his father "taught me that the greatest responsibility we have is to ensure Israel's security and guarantee its future."
If Syria becomes a failed state, Israel would benefit in two ways:
- First, Israel would no longer have to worry about giving back the Golan Heights and its water, which Israel has been plundering ever since it stole that region in its 1967 war of aggression.
- The second and most important reason Israel wants to balkanize and destroy Syria is that Syria's sectarian strife could catalyze Sunni-Shia conflict, and related ethnic conflicts, throughout the Middle East. If Syria becomes a permanently festering sore, the infection will spread to the entire region. This would keep the Middle East weak and divided...
In other words, a weak, sick, chaotic Middle East is good for Israel. A healthy, thriving, united Middle East is Israel's worst nightmare.
Zionist ultra-extremist Daniel Pipes recently articulated that strategy: “Evil forces pose less danger to us when they make war on each other. This (1) keeps them focused locally and it (2) prevents either one from emerging victorious (and thereby posing a yet-greater danger). Western powers should guide enemies to stalemate by helping whichever side is losing, so as to prolong their conflict.”
In the past, the Zionists did everything they could to stir up trouble, and maximize violence, between secularists and Islamists. Now that Islamic politics is dominant in the region, the Zionists are trying to morph the secularist-Islamist clash into a Sunni-Shia intra-Muslim civil war. ....
In this Zionist attempt to incite civil war inside the House of Islam, the tip of the spear is the Takfiris, an extremist movement among the Wahhabi-Salafi school of non-traditional Sunni Islam. ... The Takfiris believe that they are the only real Muslims; others are heretics and deserve to be killed.
The Takfiri movement is Zionism's perfect tool. Wherever there is Muslim unity, a viable state, or a successful society, just send in the Takfiris to stir up sectarian hatred.
It seems quite mad.... And yet we now have all the evidence we need to point to a de facto Israeli alliance with Al Qaeda. The bombing of Damascus suburbs by Israeli jets – purportedly in order to prevent the Syrians from supplying Hezbollah with long range missiles – at precisely the moment when the Syrian “rebels” are demanding Western intervention on their behalf highlights one of the most bizarre alliances in history.
Bizarre, yes, but inexplicable? Not at all.
The Sunni extremists who comprise Al Qaeda have been in the front lines in the battle against Bashar al-Assad, and are also bitterly hostile to the mullahs of Tehran, whom they consider heretics: Israel, for its part, has launched its own holy war against Iran for quite different reasons, and is eager to take out Assad: regardless of motives their goals do coincide.
Both want chaos in Syria – the Israelis, in order to eliminate a longstanding thorn in their side, and the jihadists because they thrive in failed states, like Lebanon. ...
Why would the Israelis aid a “rebel” army made up almost exclusively of hardened jihadists who supposedly hate Israel and want to see its non-Arab inhabitants driven into the sea? For the same reason they initially nurtured Hamas – because they believe it serves their long range purposes.
The reason the Israelis granted official legal status to the group that eventually morphed into one of the Jewish state’s most implacable enemies was simple: to divide the Palestinian resistance, and therefore weaken it.
At the time, Fatah, the largest component of the secular Palestinian Liberation Organization, was the most effective opposition to the Israeli occupation.
The Israelis thought aiding an Islamist competitor would achieve certain desired ends: the decline of the PLO’s influence, the alienation of Arab governments from the Palestinian cause, and the marginalization of that cause in Western eyes. All three goals have since been achieved.
TEHRAN – The registration of candidates for Iran’s upcoming presidential election started on Tuesday and ends on May 11. The 11th presidential election is scheduled to be held on June 14.
Sixty-two hopefuls registered for the election on the first day.
Five of the candidates, who registered, are well-known political figures, namely former nuclear negotiator Hassan Rohani, former housing and urban development minister Mohammad Saeedikia, former vice president for scientific affairs Sadeq Vaezzadeh, former health minister Kamran Baqeri-Lankarani, and former MP Mostafa Kavakebian.
According to the Constitution, the Guardian Council is tasked with vetting election candidates.
Iran ends registration for presidential election
Press TV 11-5-2013
The registration for the 11th presidential election of Iran has come to an end with 686 individuals having signed up for the race.
A number of prominent Iranian officials registered to participate in the election including Chairman of Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Head of the Secretariat of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Esfandiyar Rahim-Mashaei, Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaei and former First Vice-President and Reformist candidate Mohammad-Reza Aref.
Principlist lawmaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, Principlists Alireza Zakani, Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Saeed Jalili, former Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Velayati, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and Vice-Speaker of Majlis Mohammad-Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard are among other hopefuls.
Russia and the United States agreed at talks on Tuesday to try to arrange an international conference on ending the conflict in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.
Kerry told a joint news conference with Lavrov that the aim was to bring together representatives of the Syrian government and opposition at the conference possibly by the end of this month.
Previous efforts at a negotiated settlement in Syria stalled over US (and by extension pro-US rebel) demands that President Assad unconditionally resign before the talks begin. President Obama is suggesting that the policy may be changing however.
Citing a “moral obligation” to end the ongoing Syrian Civil War, the Obama Administration has now announced a deal with the Russian government to jointly back a negotiated settlement.
Russia’s been on board for quite some time with talks, and has been more than willing to push the Assad government into negotiation. Getting the rebels on board is a more complicated matter, especially since even if the US does start pushing them, the rebel leadership is so disjointed that it isn’t clear how to get them all on board for the talks. With al-Qaeda-backed factions also in the mix, it is entirely possible that a “deal” between the pro-US rebels and the Assad government wouldn’t end the war at any rate.
Gen. Salim Idriss, the head of the rebel Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) “Supreme Military Command,” has been endorsed repeatedly by Western officials, and is constantly courting more weapons, more money, and more supplies for the rebellion.
Yet Idriss admits that nearly a year after he defected the rebels remain badly fragmented, a problem he blames on the number of civilian-turned-fighter groups. He also conceded that as it stands the force lacks the skill to actually win the ongoing civil war.
Idriss admits he has little influence over a lot of the rebel fighters on the ground, and only indirect control over even some of the brigades operating under the FSA label.
Idriss insists he does not, and will not, work with Jabhat al-Nusra, a large militant faction openly allied with al-Qaeda. Officials have presented that as a reason to endorse his group as a moderate alternative, but as the war stagnates, his limited influence leaves open the question of whether the aid is simply about grandstanding about regime change as opposed to backing real Syrian rebel leaders.
A leader of Al-Qaeda in North Africa has urged Muslims worldwide to attack French interests over Paris' military intervention against Islamists in Mali, in a video message posted online. "It is your duty, all Muslims... to attack French interests everywhere," Abu Obaida al-Annabi said in the recording dated April 25.
Annabi, presented as the head of the council of dignitaries of Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, called for "full mobilisation" to combat the "new crusade of France". "Jihad (holy war) is now the duty of every capable among you," he said.
France sent troops in January to Mali to quash Al-Qaeda-linked groups that had taken control of half of the country
NEW YORK, (SANA) – During a Security Council session on Friday for discussing reports of subcommittees on counter-terrorism, Syria's Permanent Representative to the UN Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari said that current events prove the veracity of Syria's constant warnings about the presence of armed terrorist groups, some of them affiliated with Al Qaeda, and most of them consisting of international terrorists and foreign mercenaries who are waging proxy wars on Syria and target all the country's components.
He asserted that these things are not in the interest of any Syrian who actually cares about the safety and stability of their country, whether they support the government or oppose it.
Al-Jaafari wondered how terrorism, vandalism, the targeting of hospitals, schools, universities, mosques, churches, civilians airplanes and diplomatic missions, the theft of factories, the assassination and abduction of religious figures, the robbery and vandalism of antiquities and museums, desecrating tombs and abducting UNDOF peacekeeping forces can be in the interest of Syria and Syrians.
He pointed out that two months ago, the Syrian government filed an official request for including Jabhet al-Nusra, which is responsible for hundreds of terrorist acts and suicide bombings in Syria, on the unified list of the committee for resolutions no. 1267 for 1999 and no. 1989 for 2011 which concern individuals and entities affiliated with Al Qaeda, noting that Syria is still awaiting this inclusions, particularly since some Security Council members acknowledged the terrorist nature of this organization...
He pointed out that some Security Council member countries hindered nine times the issuing of mere press statements that condemn terrorist bombings which claimed hundreds of innocent Syrian civilians' lives, noting that the Australian representative who heads the committee for resolution no. 1267 neglected to mention any Al Qaeda activities in Syria...
Al-Jaafari called upon the committee the aforementioned decision to take the following steps:
- First, stop the destructive media role played and sponsored by some countries with the purpose of instigating terrorism in Syria and incite extremism and sectarian strife.
- Second, combat the exploitation of the internet and social networking for inciting terrorism and misleading youths.
- Third, shut down the sources of terrorist funding.
News that the US and Russia will hold a Syrian peace conference this month is most welcome and long overdue. As Benjamin Franklin so wisely noted: “there is no good war, and no bad peace.”
Moscow has been calling for such a conference for two years. But Washington rejected the idea in hope the Syrian rebels it was backing would prevail. However, now that the Syrian war is in stalemate, the US has opted, albeit reluctantly, for a diplomatic effort to end its war before the whole region goes up in flames....
Last week, Israel launched heavy air strikes against Syrian military targets, a clear act of war, killing some 80 Syrian soldiers. It was unclear if Israel was indeed trying to destroy shipments of long-ranged artillery rockets being sent from Iran to Lebanese ally Hezbollah, as it claimed, or launching a campaign to defeat the Assad government by destroying its air and armored forces.
According to reports, Israel did not give the US prior warning of its air strikes against Syria. Here in Washington, many security officials are now wondering if Israel might drag the US into a war with Iran in a similar fashion.
What is clear: Syria is being ground up and pulverized. Like Iraq, it is being severely punished for a defiant, independent policy and refusing to comply with western plans for the Mideast.
Syria is also serving as a whipping boy in the place of Iran – a graphic message to Tehran of what can happen if its nuclear program is not switched off.
Thanks to the Political Isolation Law, half a million Libyans will be excluded from state jobs and public life, former Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril has claimed.
Jibril, who was once Qaddafi’s Planning Minister, seems certain to fall within the ambit of the legislation passed by the GNC on Sunday, and therefore faces a ten-year ban from political office and government jobs. The law even prevents those deemed to have been close to the fallen regime from being part of any civil society associations.
“ We participated in the overthrowing of Qaddafi,” Jibril told Al-Arabiya TV, “ but the law says we must go. ... Political proscription, should, he said be based on what individuals had done rather than the jobs they had held.
Jibril said that legislation as sweeping as the Political Isolation Law was unprecedented in any country. He also deplored the presence of militias besieging government ministries before the GNC took its vote. “The law was passed under duress and force of arms,” he said...
Most of the news coming from Libya is distressing, the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi said in its editorial yesterday. "The country is experiencing successive crises over more than one aspect of affairs: daily living, politics and security, and they are mostly because of the inability of the feeble political elite to build and empower state institutions," the paper said. ...
Libya is experiencing chaos because of armed militias that have taken over the country since the revolution and are coercing government institutions into acquiescing to their demands. ... It is true that the government was elected by the people, but it is weak, the paper said.
Under the controversial new law, many of the government's ministers face the threat dismissal, since they held official positions in Qaddafi state institutions during his 40-year reign.
"Interestingly, there have been only two Arab countries to issue a political isolation law: Iraq was first to introduce such a law, in order to uproot the Baath party and isolate its officials. And now Libya has followed suit," the paper noted.
"Political isolation isn't the only thing the two countries have in common. Both countries also witnessed a US-led Nato military intervention aimed at toppling their leaders."
Libya was supposed to have been freed from dictatorship more than two years ago. By now, it was expected to be on the safe and sound course to democracy and stability. However, the situation on the ground is bleak. The government is debilitated, corruption is at its worst and armed groups that place themselves above the law are dividing up the country into power zones.
"Nato knows how to dismantle a country and topple a regime. What it doesn't know is how to bring about stability and assist in building an alternative state."
Former president Mohammad Khatami has said that the situation is not prepared for him to stand as a candidate in the June presidential election, expressing hope that his predecessor Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani would run for president.
“An election in which everything goes normal is a way to come to power and its criterion is the vote of the people. But we are in a situation where the election mechanism is flawed in this respect. There are people standing against us who prefer another trend, and if someone criticizes that trend and mull over a better path for the society and the country, they do not allow him to have a presence,” Khatami told a number of reporters in Tehran.
He said, “Election is a principle for reformism as it is the heart of democracy, and we believe that no one should sulk with the ballot box. Two groups sulk. First, those who do not believe in the principle of the system, and, second, those who are hopeless and frustrated and show their displeasure with their absence.
“We are in no way among the first group and condemn subversion and also regard it as impossible. But we are not as hopeless as the second group (who say that) nothing can be done. We should move forward to find a way.”
Doors are closed to competent people", Khatami said, adding, “I can name dozens of people who are young, wise, and educated and are qualified to assume responsibilities in high positions, but they have been deprived of the opportunity to be introduced and known to the society.
See the city council elections. They are intimidating (reformist candidates) by saying, ‘You will be disqualified.’ to compel them to stand down. ...
The former president added, “We should make efforts so that elections, instead of leading to further restrictions, lead to openness in such a way that the people’s rights and the boundaries of the government’s power are clear and can be commented on.
Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Supreme National Security Council Secretary Saeed Jalili, who is also Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, registered for Iran’s upcoming presidential election in the closing hours of the process on Saturday, and many political analysts say the race has entered a new stage since they will be the two main competitors.
Amid speculation about who would be the Ahmadinejad administration’s candidate in the election, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei entered the Interior Ministry building on Fatemi Street and registered for the presidential election on Saturday. He was accompanied by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
A number of reformist presidential hopefuls previously announced that they would withdraw from the race in favor of Rafsanjani, if he registered as a candidate. Those candidates are Hassan Rohani, Mohammad Reza Aref, Mostafa Kavakebian, Mohammad Shariatmadari, Mas’oud Pezeskian, and Es’haq Jahangiri. With Jalili’s entrance into the race, it is expected that a number of principlist candidates will also drop out in favor of him.
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani bids for political comeback
The Telegraph 11-5-2013
Iran's presidential election was thrown open on Saturday when Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a wealthy and manipulative opponent of the country's current rulers, registered as a candidate.
Once a pillar of the Islamic regime, Mr Rafsanjani endorsed the opposition Green Movement during the last election in 2009, when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the outgoing president, won a bitterly disputed contest. Mr Rafsanjani was then singled out for attack by the regime: his daughter, Faezeh, was jailed last year for spreading "propaganda against the ruling system". She was released in March after spending 14 months in Evin prison.
Because of his loathing for Mr Ahmadinejad and his backing for the Green Movement, Mr Rafsanjani has won the support of some reformers. However, many question how he acquired his wealth and point out that he achieved little during his previous terms as president. Western diplomats see Mr Rafsanjani as a wily pragmatist, not a genuine reformer.
Influential Muslim cleric Yousuf al-Qaradawi on Friday called on the Palestinian resistance to hold onto its arms in a sermon at a Gaza City mosque. Egyptian-born al-Qaradawi, who is a citizen of Qatar and close to the Muslim Brotherhood, was heading of a delegation of 50 clerics from 14 countries. During a meeting Thursday with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, al-Qaradawi warned that nobody has the right to cede "any part of Palestine."
“I advise all the people of Gaza to be patient and continue to build their country, and continue resistance,” the sheikh told worshipers at al-Omari Mosque. “We will not give up on the resistance, and we will not give up our arms”. “Palestine was never Jewish,” he said. “Palestine is Arab and Muslim and will remain Arab and Muslim, and Islam will prevail.”
Al-Qaradawi, head of the Association of Muslim Scholars, is a controversial religious figure in the West and has millions of supporters — mainly from the Muslim Brotherhood. He hosts a popular show on Al-Jazeera television and backed the Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria.
Al-Qaradawi was refused a French visa last year on the grounds of being anti-Jewish. He was banned from entering Britain in 2008 and has been banned from the United States since 1999.
"Whoever among them is able to shoot him with a bullet and to free us from his evil, to free Libya and its great people from the evil of this man and from the danger of him, let him do so!" Sheikk Yusuf Qaradawi - fatwa against Muammar Gaddafi
- Qatar, providing financial aids for Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and particularly through Sheykh Yusuf Qardawi, Egyptian cleric residing in Qatar and a former member of Muslim Brotherhood, has claimed an important place for itself.
- Turkey also, due to the organizational relations between Justice and Development Party (JDP), founded in 2001, and Muslim Brotherhood, has an important stance for Muslim Brotherhood. This is while Turkey has recently decided to finance Egypt with an amount of two billion dollars aid.
Therefore at the moment the triangle of Egypt, Turkey and Qatar practically make the nucleus of a new axis in the region which on the one hand has its ties with the US through Qatar and Turkey and on the other hand it maintains its relations with some Arab governments like Tunisia and Maghreb as well as the political parties in other Arab countries.
It means that it is not the American Islam which tries to influence the region but a revolutionary Islam with Brotherhood features. This type of Islam tries not only to reduce its differences with the US but also tries to find common interests out of which one might be hindering the growth of resistance and also the role of Iran in the region!
Although Muslim Brotherhood stresses its opposition and confrontation with the Zionist regime and counts defending the Palestinians as its principle, it does not believe in prioritization of the issue. [The Muslim Brotherhood] prioritizes strengthening the foundations of Brotherhood across the Arab world...
TUNIS — The head of a radical Salafist group in Tunisia, Abu Iyadh, whose real name is Seif Allah Ibn Hussein, has threatened to wage war against the government, led by the moderate Islamist party Ennahda, accusing it in a message posted online of un-Islamic policies.
“To the tyrants who think they are Islamists... know that the stupid things you are doing are dragging you to war,” said Abu Iyadh, the fugitive leader of Ansar Al Sharia who is wanted by the police over deadly unrest last year. “Your war is not against our young people but against religion,” he said, in a statement published on the jihadist group’s website.
“If you continue with these stupid policies, the support of America, the West, Algeria, Turkey and Qatar will not save you when the sound of swords makes itself heard,” the hardline preacher warned.
“I remind you simply that our youth sacrificed themselves for the defence of Islam in Afghanistan, in Chechnya, in Bosnia, in Iraq, in Somalia and in Syria, and they won’t hesitate to sacrifice themselves for their religion in Kairouan,” he said, referring to a town south of Tunis renowned for its Islamic heritage.
The authorities have hardened their position towards extremists in recent months, notably by stepping up military operations against jihadists with suspected links to Al Qaeda who are hiding in the western region of Kasserine that borders Algeria.
Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou said last week that he would bring to justice “anyone inciting to murder or hatred... or who pitch tents for preaching in,” in a clear reference to the Salafists.
Two years ago, the news coverage was so hopeful. Now not a day goes by without headline-grabbing Salafis violently imposing their intolerant views on the rest of us.
These Salafis were invisible and unheard of during Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s two decades of dictatorship. Nor did they have a role in the revolution that toppled him. But now, under the protection of the things they detest — democracy, human rights and free speech — they act with the same impunity that Ben Ali’s police enjoyed. The populace is afraid to protest and the government silently approves. ...
[People] misunderstood the concept of secularism. They equate it with atheism. [They don't understand that] secularism protects the right to practice religion by ensuring no one has the right to tell you how to worship. And the few who do know what a secular state means are terrified to advocate for it because there is the threat of Salafist extremists. ...
The duty of the majority is to protect the rights and opportunities of the minority. That’s a basic tenet of human rights and Islam. That Jews, Christians or Baha’i exist in small numbers is no basis for explicit discrimination. Tunisian is a nationality — not a religion. ...
We need a Constitution that protects us from what we’ve suffered under previous regimes, safeguarding against infringements on our freedom of religion, speech and human rights.
The new constitution paves the way for a Shariah-based theocratic state with no checks and balances — and immune from future change or amendment. The obsession with religion has so derailed the work of the Constitutional Assembly that the nature of government is not even well established in the draft text.
The separation of mosque and state, as a way to ensure the freedom of religion, is an urgent imperative if this so-called Arab Spring is not to dry up.
Radia Hennessey is president of the Vineeta Foundation, an NGO dedicated to public health, human rights and governance.
Members of the culture committee of Egypt's Shura Council discussed their concerns on Monday about the possibility of Iranian tourism to Egypt, with some expressing fears that it could spread Shiism in the country.
"The Shias are more dangerous than naked [women]," MP Tharwat Attallah of the Salafist Nour Party said during the meeting. "They are a danger to Egypt's national security; Egyptians could be deceived into [converting to] Shiism, giving it a chance to spread in Egypt," he added.
Attallah also called upon the current ruling regime to limit Egypt's relationship with Iran, as the previous regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak had done.
Similarly, MP Abd El-Galeil El-Qassem, also of the Nour Party, said that Shiism would undermine the "essence of religion and the [Sunni] doctrine." He said that Egypt should put restrictions on Iranian tourism in Egypt because, according to him, Iranians aim to create strife in the country.
However, MP Yehia Abo El-Hassan from the Islamist Al-Wasat Party disagreed with their concerns, saying that "the countries that cut off relations with Iran are the US and Israel." He added that tourists only come to Egypt for a limited time. ...
In April, more than 50 Iranians – the first official group of Iranians to visit Egypt for tourism in decades – arrived in Upper Egypt amid tight security. The visit came as part of a bilateral tourism agreement signed in February.
The Obama Administration has announced that they will no longer allow their ambassador to attend UN Conference on Disarmament meetings because the rotating chairman position has passed to Iran.
The US maintains that since there are sanctions against Iran they should be barred from holding “any formal or ceremonial positions” at the UN. Iran will hold the position from May 27 through June 23.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman shrugged off the complaints, saying that the 65-member council came up with the monthly rotating leadership plan, and since Iran is a member it was eventually going to be the leader.
Iran has been supportive of calls for a nuclear-free Middle East, a plan which the NPT member states initially supported, but which the US loudly condemned since Israel is the sole nation in the region with nuclear weapons.
Every May 15, a nation marks her historic catastrophe. In 1948, the Palestinian people were condemned to exile, and their homeland, Palestine, disappeared from the maps. Some 418 villages were destroyed and 70 percent of our people became refugees. For 65 years, our people have lived through the vicissitudes and humiliation of being treated as strangers, both in exile and in their own land.
Today, we are still struggling to return Palestine to the map and attain justice based on international law for Palestinians everywhere.
In 1949, the international community accepted Israel's UN membership upon two conditions: That they respect resolutions 181 (two states) and 194 (refugee rights). Neither has been honored. In fact, 65 years later, Israel has not even acknowledged what it did in 1948. ...
Twenty-five years after Palestine's historic and painful compromise of recognizing the State of Israel on 78 percent of our historic homeland, Israel has not only failed to recognize the State of Palestine, but continues to expand its colonies throughout our occupied country. ..
We have made painful compromises to achieve peace. ... Unfortunately, what we are faced with is an occupying power that does not want peace; an extremist government made for and by settlers. A government that each time it has had the opportunity to choose between peace and settlements has chosen the latter; a government whose ministers call for the elimination of the Palestinian state and for the construction of settlements for 1 million settlers in occupied territory.
Sixty-five years after the Nakba, the sole message of the international community must be that enough is enough. It is a shame that 65 years later, we are still listening to statements without actions.
Saeb Erekat is the chief negotiator of the Palestine Liberation Organization.