Saddam's Death, Page 33
attempt to destroy political holism in the middle east

See also: Page 32: november 2013
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was born April 28, 1937 and died December 30, 2006. He was the fifth President of Iraq, holding that position from July 16, 1979 until 9 April 2003. He was one of the leading members of the revolutionary Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, and afterward, the Baghdad-based Ba’ath Party and its regional organization Ba’ath Party, Iraq Region, which advocated ba’athism, an ideological marriage of Arab nationalism with Arab socialism. (Patricia Ramos, july 2013)

"Zionism [..] has transformed into an imperialistic claw used against the Arab nation. Zionism has partnered wit imperialism and participated in its economic and political plans. Moreover, it relies on its unfounded, historical belief for the purpose of destroying the Arab nation... This means maintaining the weak state of the Arab nation... Zionism regards unity of Arabs as contradictory to its existence. Therefore, Zionism's line of defense is based on the principle that the Arab nation must be broken.... It is necessary for Zionism to revive all the old historical frictions that took place in the path of nationhood, so it can use them [..] to break up the fabric of Arab nations." (The Saddam's tapes, 1978-2001, page 67)
"Nasser, as the activist leader of Pan-Arabism, became an idealized model for Saddam Hussein. At age 20, inspired by Nasser, Saddam joined the Arab Ba'th socialist Party in Iraq and quickly impressed party officials with his dedication. Two years later, in 1956, apparently emulating Nasser, Iraqi Army General Qassem led a coup which ousted the monarchy. But unlike Nasser, Qassem did not pursue the path of socialism and turned against the Ba'th party. ... Saddam went to Egypt to study law, rising to leadership ranks in the Egyptian Ba'th Party. He returned to Iraq after 1963 when Qassem was ousted by the Ba'ths and was elected to the National Command.
Michel Aflaq, the ideological father of the Ba'th party, admired young Hussein, declaring the Iraqi Ba'th party the finest in the world.... (Dr. Jerrold M. Post)

"Gamal Abdel-Nasser continues to inhabit Egypt because, like Bonaparte, he is the representative of an age of certain national glory, despite the mistakes and the military debacle. But there is more to it than this. Above all, he symbolises for Egyptians the expression of their independent national will. It is this that remains. It is in this that we must seek our project for the future" (Liberating Nasser's legacy, Al-Ahram Weekly 2000)


The ethnic cleansing of Arab Sunnis, Christians and minorities has created a new breed of Iraqis – the Neo-Baathists or Neo-Saddamists.
Although we may have disagreed with it previously, we defend Baathism because under Baathism we were protected – Baathism is secular, left-wing and socialist which is how Iraqi society should be.
Under Baathism there was no ethnic cleansing or targeting of Arab Sunnis, we lived side-by-side in peace with our Shiite, Christian, Sabaean, Yazidi, Kurdish brothers and sisters.
Anbar has become a symbol for Neo-Baathism with many Anbaris still holding the previous Iraqi flag with the 3 stars and the Kufi font.... The 3 stars on the previous Iraqi flag represent: Baathism: Unity, Freedom and Socialism. (Sarah Chronicle 5-5-2013)

Page Index

Saddam began rebuilding the ruins of ancient Babylon. Saddam put up a large mural of himself next to Nebuchadrezzar at the entrance to the ruins. And echoing Nebuchadrezzar's practice, Saddam had his own name inscribed on the bricks used in the reconstruction. The inscriptions are reported to read: "This was built by Saddam Hussein, son of Nebuchadnezzar, to glorify Iraq"


An ancient Semitic city in the Euphrates valley, which after 2250 B.C., as the capital of Babylonia, became a center of world commerce and of the arts and sciences, its life marked by luxury and magnificence. The city in which they built the Tower of Babel, its location coincides approximately with that of the modern city of Baghdad - now the center of a vast agricultural community. The Babylonians attached great importance to the motions of the planets, accurately fixed their orbits and worked out tables of the phases of the Moon, whereby eclipses could be correctly predicted. Their great astrological work, "The Illumination of Bel," was compiled within the period of 2100-1900 B.C..
Babylon is generally conceded to have been the cradle of astrology. It was overthrown in 539 A.D., by Xerxes, the Persian. (

About political holism

Political holism is based on the recognition that "we" are all members of a single whole. There's no "they," even though "we" are not all alike. Because "we" are all part of the whole, and therefore interdependent, we benefit from cooperating with each other. Political holism is a way of thinking about human cultures and nations as interdependent. Political holists search for solutions other than war to settle international disagreements. Their model of the world is one in which cooperation and negotiation, even with the enemy, even with the weak, promotes political stability more than warfare. In an overpopulated world with planet-wide environmental problems, the development of weapons of mass destruction has rendered war obsolete as an effective means to resolve disputes.

Political dualists consider political holists unpatriotic for questioning the necessity to defeat "them." In times of impending war, political dualists tend to measure patriotism by the intensity of one's hostility to the country's immediate enemy. Naturally, they would view as disloyalty any suggestion that the enemy is not evil, any call for cooperation with the enemy, any criticism of one's own country.
To political dualists, cooperation with the enemy means capitulation, relinquishment of the nation's position of dominance.

At its extreme, political dualism is essentially tribalism. (Betty Craige, 16-8-1997)

Zie ook: Gilad Atzmon & Het tribalisme

Bashar al-Assad: What is happening in Syria
is the complete opposite to the concept of jihad
By The Syrian Observer, 5-7-2013

President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview o the local newspaper al-Thawra, in which he claimed that his opponents have “used up all their tools” and failed to overthrow his regime.

Interviewer: Mr President. You first stated that what is happening in Syria is not a revolution... What made you say that it was not a revolution from the inception?

President Assad: From a historical perspective, any genuine revolution is purely internal and cannot be linked externally by any means, as manifested by the Russian, French and even the Iranian revolutions. Real revolutions are intrinsic, spontaneous, and are led by intellectual and ideological elites. What occurred in Syria since the outset of the crisis was flagrant external interference. There were attempts to hide this, but it has become absolutely clear.
Secondly, the real revolution of 1963 was a revolution that empowered the country, society and human values. It promoted science and knowledge by building thousands of schools, it brought light to the Urban and rural areas of Syria by building electricity lines and networks, it strengthened the economy by providing job opportunities according to competencies. It supported the wider foundations of society including farmers, labourers and skilled-workers. ...
Revolutions are about building countries and societies, not about destroying them; so how can we call what is happening in Syria a revolution? Attempts to package the events on the ground as a part of a revolution have been futile from the beginning. ....

Flashback 2012: Bashar al-Assad:
The greatest part of the Syrian people want reform

The greatest part of the Syrian people want reform, and they have not come out, haven’t broken the law, haven’t killed. This is the largest part of the Syrian people, it is the part which wants reform. For us, reform is the natural context. That is why we announced a phased reform in the year 2000. In my swear-in speech I talked about modernization and development. ....

The important law is the law of fighting corruption. It is the only law which has been delayed for several months. The first reason is related to the fact that this law is very important and has many aspects. Therefore, I asked the government to extensively consider it in collaboration with various bodies and parties. It was put on the internet and there were many posts and useful ideas. The government finished this and sent it to the Syrian Presidency which sent it back recently to the government. It is a good law which includes very important points and a point related to the inspecting authority. ...

The other pillar in reform is the Constitution. The decree that provides for establishing a committee to draft the constitution was issued. This committee was given a deadline of four months and I think that it has become in its final stages. This constitution will focus on a fundamental and essential point which is the multi-party system and political pluralism. They were talking only about article eight, but we said that the entire Constitution should be amended because there is a correlation among articles. The Constitution will focus on the fact that the people is the source of authority, especially during elections, the dedication of the institutions' role, the freedoms of the citizens and other things and basic principles. ...
The Constitution is not the state's Constitution; it is an issue related to every Syrian citizen. Therefore, we will resort to a referendum after the committee finishes its work and presents the Constitution which will be put through constitutional channels to reach a referendum. The referendum on the Constitution could be done at the beginning of March.

President al-Assad Receives
Copy of the New Draft Constitution
SANA, 13-2-2012

DAMASCUS, (SANA)- President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday received a copy of the new draft constitution from the head of the National Committee charged with drafting a new constitution for the Syrian Arab Republic, during a meeting with the Committee's members.

The Committee's members stressed their determination [..] to prepare an integrated formula of a constitution that guarantees the dignity of the Syrian citizen and secures his basic rights.
They reiterated their keenness on a constitution that allows to turn Syria into an example to follow in terms of public freedoms and political plurality in a way to lay the foundation for a new stage that will enrich Syria's cultural history.

President al-Assad expressed appreciation of the Committee members' efforts to carry out this national task, calling upon them to shoulder their responsibility as a Committee charged with preparing the draft constitution to explain its articles to the citizens with all possible means so that the citizen is the one to have the final decision to approve the constitution. ...

On October, 16th, 2011, President al-Assad issued a presidential decision to form a national committee to prepare a draft constitution for Syria... (R. Raslan/H. Said)

The Rule Of Law
Referendum on new draft constitution
ChamPress, 15-2-2012

DAMASCUS- President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday issued Decree No. 85 for 2012 stipulating for setting Sunday / 26/2/2012 / as a date for referendum on the draft Constitution of the Syrian Arab Republic.
The following are some of the main issues included in the constitution's text:

- The Syrian Arab Republic is a democratic state of absolute sovereignty that cannot be divided and no part of its land can be abandoned. Syria is a part of the Arab world.
- The political system of the state is based on political pluralism and power is practiced democratically through voting.
- Society in the Syrian Arab Republic is based on solidarity and respecting the principles of social justice, freedom and equality, in addition to preserving the humanitarian dignity of every individual.
- Freedom is a sacred right. The State guarantees the citizens' personal freedom and preserves their dignity and security.
- Citizens have equal rights and duties. Discrimination due to gender, origin, language, religion or belief is prohibited.
- The State guarantees the equality of opportunity principle among the citizens and every citizen has the right to contribute to the political, economic, social and cultural life in accordance with the regulating law.
- Citizens should respect the constitution and the rules.
- Private life is respected and protected by the law.
- Freedom of belief is secured by the law.
- Every citizen has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
- The rule of the law is the basis of power in the State.
- The president is to be elected directly by the people.
- The judicial authority is independent and the Higher Judicial Council guarantees the independence of the judiciary.

With a voter turnout of 57.4% and 89.4% voting in favour, the new constitution was adopted. President Al-Assad signed the new constitution into force on 27 February 2012. (Wikipedia)

Constitution of the Syrian Arab Republic 2012

General Salim Idriss: FSA will not take part in Geneva 2 talks
Press TV, Tue Nov 26, 2013

The commander of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) says it will not participate in the upcoming Geneva conference on the crisis in Syria.
General Salim Idriss made the remarks in an interview with Al-Jazeera news channel on Tuesday, a day after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the long-awaited talks would be held on January 22.
“Conditions are not suitable for running the Geneva 2 talks at the given date, and we, as a military and revolutionary force, will not participate in the conference,” Idriss stated.
Idriss added that the FSA would continue its battle against the Syrian government. “We will not stop combat at all during the Geneva conference or after it, and what concerns us is getting needed weapons for our fighters.”

UN-Arab League Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahim has said that the upcoming conference would start “without any preconditions.”

Subordination of military forces to political authority

"Among the oldest problems of human governance has been that of securing the subordination of military forces to political authority...

Whether -- and how -- a society controls those who possess the ultimate power of physical coercion, and ensures their loyalty both to the particular government in power and to the regime in general, is basic to democratic governance.
For democracy, civilian control -- that is, control of the military by civilian officials elected by the people -- is fundamental. Civilian control allows a nation to base its values, institutions, and practices on the popular will rather than on the choices of military leaders." (Richard H. Kohn, Journal of Democracy 1997)

Syrian delegates to attend Geneva under Assad orders
"The age of colonialism is over..."
Voice of Russia, 27-11-2013

Syria will send a delegation to a January 22 Geneva peace conference under the orders of President Bashar al-Assad, a foreign ministry source said on Wednesday.
"Syria announces the participation of an official delegation under the orders of (Assad) and the demands of the Syrian people, with the top priority eliminating terrorism," the source was quoted as saying by the official SANA news agency.
"The official Syrian delegation will not go to Geneva to hand over power, but to take part (in talks) along with those who are committed to furthering the interests of the Syrian people and who support a political solution for Syria's future," the source said.
"Our people will not allow anyone to steal their right to choose their future and their leaders, and what is key about Geneva is to assert the Syrians' rights, and not of those who are spilling the people's blood."

The source criticised "the French, British and other foreign ministries as well as their agents in the Arab world who have insisted that there can be no place for President Assad in the transitional period. "The ministry reminds them that the age of colonialism is over, and they need to wake up... Otherwise it will be useless for them to attend Geneva-2."

The demand for Bashar Assad’s resignation is aimed at disrupting the Geneva-2 conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
"Those who say that it is worth waiting for the military balance to be established, or for a date when Assad will step down to be named, or put forward other preconditions are doing so with the unseemly purpose of hindering or disrupting the conference altogether," Lavrov said.
Lavrov added that fight against extremism in the Middle East region will depend on success of the international conference. "We speak about unification of all sound forces in the fight against terrorism that tries to sprout in the region, using Syria’s crisis", he said.

The Incredible Shrinking President
Daryl Cagle Cartoon

"The policy of the [French] Socialist Party in general and that of
François Hollande in particular has its roots in nineteenth century
colonialism, of which Jules Ferry was a herald and Theodor Herzl a promoter."
Thierry Meyssan, 26-11-2013

"My message to the French Parliamentarians is:
go back to the principles of the French Revolution
that the whole world is proud of: Liberty, Justice, Equality.
Bashar al-Assad, 3-9-2012

Al-Qaeda tries to indoctrinate Syria schoolchildren
Waleed Abu al-Khair, AL-Shorfa 27-11-2013

Syrian businessman Bassel al-Hardan left Idlib province for Cairo with his children when the situation began to deteriorate in the schools his children attended. Al-Hardan told Al-Shorfa his twin daughters, 13, and his son, 10, had been suffering from the presence of militant groups attempting to impose their own interpretation of Islamic sharia on students and teachers.
A month and a half ago he decided to leave Idlib "for the sake of securing a decent education for my children, which is the main reason why I decided to leave Syria for now", he said.
"The state of education is near catastrophic in opposition-held areas and the conditions are not conducive to an educational atmosphere," al-Hardan said. "The militant Islamist groups are using their power to influence the educational boards in schools and are forcing principals to separate the sexes even in schools with not many students or teachers."
"After their lectures, they hand out promotional brochures to students and request that they attend their religious classes so the militants can continue their brainwashing," al-Hardan said.

There is no compulsion where the religion is concerned

O Prophet, say to your wives, "If you should desire the worldly life and its adornment, then come,
I will provide for you and give you a gracious release." Quran 33:28

For about two months in Tweihineh village in the countryside of northern Aleppo province, ISIL has forced students to wear "Islamic clothing", which for girls means an abaya, gloves and face cover. Boys are also made to wear "sharia compatible clothing", which these groups interpret as Pakistani-style shalwar qamiz and a skull cap, the Observatory said.
Mohammed al-Khaled of the Saraqeb unit associated with the Local Co-ordination Committees in Syria, said ISIL distributes leaflets that warn girls they have to wear the veil and abide by the group's mandated dress code in schools. The leaflets also stress the need to separate the sexes in the classroom.
"In Saraqeb, there are people who are aware and educated and they did not demand freedom for the sake of imposing an Islamic dress code or denim pants," he said.

"The war in Syria has started to directly impact the level of education in the country," said Hisham al-Maallah, a former administrative staff member in Aleppo's educational district. "Each faction is trying to take advantage of the younger generation to serve their purposes."
"The militants, particularly those affiliated with al-Qaeda, are using their influence to spread their ideology and to impose dress codes and teaching subjects on people," he said. This has become a common occurrence in the provinces of Aleppo, al-Raqa and opposition-controlled areas of Idlib, he said.

In front of the others, a head-to toe veiled Iranian pro-government woman, at center, chants slogan during a rally in support of the Islamic dress code, after their Friday prayers, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, July, 8, 2011. Nearly two-thirds of Iran's parliament have signed a statement supporting the latest fight against "Western cultural invasion." It's blamed for such challenges to Islamic dress codes as women's headscarves pushed back and pants cropped short to show as much leg as possible. Under the country's strict Islamic regulations, women should cover themselves head to toe, although they are allowed to show their faces. (Source)

A Look at Key Articles in Egyptian Draft Charter
ABC News|AP, November 30, 2013

Egypt's draft constitution is made up of a four-page preamble and 247 articles. On Saturday, the country's 50-member constituent assembly voted on 138 articles, limiting the scope of Islamic law, or Shariah, in legislation and introducing new articles seen as victory to rights advocates. Here's a look at some of the key points adopted in the draft, which later faces a referendum:

- Civilian government: In the preamble, the draft states: "we, now, are writing a constitution that continues to build a democratic, modern country with a civilian government." The word "civilian" in Arabic indicates non-religious and non-military. The term had stirred anger among ultraconservative Islamists who consider it synonymous with "secularist."
- Islamic Shariah law: The draft also says in the preamble that "we are writing a constitution which ensures that the principles of Islamic Shariah are the main source of legislation." It referred to rulings of the Supreme Constitutional Court to define these principles. The panel removed an article that gave Islamic clerics unprecedented powers.
- Freedom of belief: The draft says freedom of belief is "absolute." In last year's constitution, freedom of belief was "preserved."
- Political parties : The draft prohibits political activity or the establishment of political parties based on religion, dealing a blow to movements like the Muslim Brotherhood, its Freedom and Justice party, and Al-Nour, an ultraconservative Salafi party.
- Discrimination: Citizens are equal before the law; they are equal in rights, freedoms and public duties, without discrimination on the basis of religion, belief, gender, origin, race, color, language, disability, social status, political affiliation, geographical location or any other reason. Discrimination and inciting hatred is a crime punishable by law. The state is obliged to take necessary measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination, and the law regulates the establishment of an independent commission for this purpose.
- International agreements: The draft says the state is bound to all international agreements, including human rights covenants, already signed by Egypt.

Muslim Brotherhood - Ikhwanweb 28-11-2013
"Back to the repressive regime of the deposed Mubarak"

Dr. Mohamed Bishr, leading member of both Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the Anti-Coup Pro-Legitimacy National Alliance, said that any proposal to resolve the Egyptian crisis must be through a decision by President Mohamed Morsi, and in line with the people's will...
Dr. Bishr added: "We see that the crisis in Egypt is between two parties: One of them is defending the January 25 Revolution, its gains and its objectives, and the other wants to drag the country back to the repressive regime of the deposed Mubarak, albeit in a new guise"....
"Whoever participated in the coup, whoever wants its crimes to continue, strives to destroy Egypt and take it back to dark times of oppression, have nothing to do with the dialogue."...
He denied that the coming referendum would cloak the issue with legitimacy, saying: "The putschists imagine that the solution for 'legitimacy' will be through a referendum on their constitution, but that will not resolve the crisis...
Dr. Bishr affirmed that neither the military-installed government, nor the military council responded to any initiatives presented by the National Alliance, believing that a referendum over their constitution covers the issue of constitutional legitimacy which they violated – a false, incorrect belief....
Regarding the military establishment and the possibility of a dialogue with it, Bishr said: "This is not excluded, of course. We invite all institutions, including the judiciary, the military and Al-Azhar. We have no quarrel with any of them. In fact, we deeply appreciate and value these institutions...

Tunisia: Police arrest Islamist suspects
Al Arabiya News, 1 December 2013

Tunisian police arrested on Saturday ten suspected members of the banned Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia in the northeast of the country. The arrests led to clashes with their supporters, the Interior Ministry said....
Ansar al-Sharia is Tunisia’s main Salafist movement which the authorities have designated a “terrorist organization” with ties to al-Qaeda. Ansar al-Sharia is led by Abu Iyadh, a former al-Qaeda fighter who operated in Afghanistan.
Since the ouster of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali following the 2011 uprising, Tunisia has been rocked by violence blamed on radical Islamist groups. Islamists have been blamed for the assassinations of two opposition MPs which plunged the country into a protracted political crisis.

The opposition blames the government for failing to rein in the Jihadists and has demanded the resignation of the cabinet which is headed by the moderate Islamist party Ennahda.

Flashback: Tunisia’s Theocratic Temptation
By Radia Hennessey, NewYorkTimes May 2, 2013

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. ...

Tunisian is a nationality — not a religion

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.

Rached Ghannouchi: "They want to be modern while being Muslims"
Robert Fisk, Independent 24-10-2012

Ghannouchi, leader of the North African country’s largest political party: “I don’t believe Tunisians want to change Islam but they want to be modern while being Muslims. Islam is a modern religion. We don’t need any surgery on Islam to make it modern. From the beginning, Islam was a pluralistic religion. From the beginning, Islam believed in freedom of religion and conscience, in the legitimacy of the state in a contract between the citizens and the state.”
Mr Ghannouchi insisted that the Salafis are not flocking to Ennahda’s banner. “It’s not Islamic enough for them,” he said...

Hassoun: Religious parties target Arabs & Muslims
Syrian Arab News Agency, Nov 30, 2013

Damascus, (SANA) - Baath Arab Socialist Party on Saturday held the "Baath Forum for Dialogue" under the title "Citizenship: Duties and Rights… Citizen's Role in Ending Crisis".
In a speech during the event, Minister of Information Omran al-Zoubi said that Syria is a unique model in the region, adding that the steadfastness of the country is a result of the patriotic citizens who constitute the vast majority of the Syrians.
For his part, Syria's Grand Mufti, Ahmad Badr Eddin Hassoun, said that Syria is upbringing its citizens on the mentality of 'one Arab nation', adding that the religious parties were made to fight the Arab nation and igniter sedition in the Muslim world.
In turn, Member of the Regional Leadership of al-Baath Party, Khalaf al-Muftah, said that the aggression on Syria aims to topple the Syrian state and undermine values and morals.

Flashback: Assassinations have become a near-daily occurrence
Nir Rosen, Al-Jazeera 3 Oct 2011

The speech of the grand mufti of Syria
at his son Sarya's funeral

As the Syrian uprising turns more violent, the latest victim in a spate of assassinations is Saria Hassoun, the 22-year-old son of Syria's Grand Mufti, Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun. The shooting occurred outside Ibla University on the Idlib-Aleppo highway. Also killed with Saria Hassoun was Mohammad al-Omar, a professor of History at Aleppo University.

Assassinations have become a near-daily occurrence, especially in the central province of Homs, where academics and officials are targeted in a tactic reminiscent those used by the Muslim Brotherhood in their armed uprising between 1976 and 1982.

Efforts to impose Sharia law in Iraq spark controversy
"Religious parties are moving us toward both
a sect- and clan-based culture.”
By Ali Mamouri, Al-Monitor, November 28, 2013

Iraqi Justice Minister Hassan al-Shammari announced Oct. 23 that he had prepared a Sharia-based personal-status law and submitted it to the cabinet for approval and referral to the Council of Representatives for passage. Should the law be approved, Iraqi municipalities would be required to apply penalties that violate human rights, such as mutilation and stoning, among others.
The Iraqi religious parties, including al-Fadhila (Islamic Virtue Party), to which the justice minister belongs, welcomed the proposed law, lauding it as an achievement. During his announcement, Shammari claimed that the draft law followed on the request of Iraqi religious scholars and tribal leaders and was the product of consultations with Muslim authorities...
Shammari contended that those opposed to the proposed Iraqi law are simply against the “Islamist thesis,” but following the announcement of the draft law, the Shiite cleric Sayyed Hussein al-Sadr issued a fatwa declaring that it is better for the state to adopt legislation regarding civil laws that are compliant with international conventions and to leave issues of Sharia to clerics to decide. He asserted that the people should confer with religious authorities, not the government, when it comes to matters involving Sharia.

To learn what Najaf clerics think about the draft law, Al-Monitor interviewed a jurist close to the grand ayatollahs of the holy city. He asserted, “We wanted Iraq to be a civilian and civilized state, and we expect religion to be eliminated from national identity cards in order to make religion a personal matter that people approach based on their convictions rather than legal obligation. It seems, however, that the religious parties are moving us toward both a sect- and clan-based culture.” Spokesmen for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Najaf’s highest-ranking cleric, have repeatedly declared, along the lines of the jurist's observation, that religious authorities want a civil state for Iraq, not a religious one.
Civil society movements have launched an extensive campaign in Iraq against the draft law for widely violating human rights, especially those of women and children.... Attempts to impose Sharia in Iraq will likely lead to deeper sectarian divisions in the society, as religious views differ from one sect to another.

Ayatollah al-Faqih Seyyed Hussein Ismail al-Sadr is the most senior Shi'a cleric in Baghdad, Iraq. He heads the Ayatollah Seyyed Hussein Ismail al-Sadr Foundation Trust, which runs humanitarian, development, and peace and reconciliation projects in Iraq. In particular, the organization promotes dialogue across ethnic lines. Al-Sadr founded the Humanitarian Dialogue Foundation, a London-based organization that works to promote Iraqi culture in the West while building bridges between various faith groups in Iraq.

Flashback 2002: Bashar al-Assad:
"Moderation is the enemy of terrorism"

The way we were able to overcome terrorism in our country is by giving support and increasing the moderate voices that are traditionally present in the country. We do not encourage extremism because we think it is far removed from the moderate and real text of Islam. Therefore, the conclusion we can arrive at it is that moderation is the enemy of terrorism.

Now, can we consider what is taking place as a combating of terrorism? No. Until now the operation of combating terrorism has not started.
Now, there is only a military war against a supposed enemy whom we do not know. I think the Americans do not know who this enemy is! But the other question is: Is this war going to help moderation or extremism? I tell you, it is going to help extremism. And therefore, this war is providing a more fertile ground for terrorism. We expressed our opinion that we support combatting terrorism but we didn't say we support the war.
The war against terrorism is an ideological war but not a military one. And therefore, I have always emphasized the importance of supporting moderation because it is the moderate voices that can combat terrorism. ( Syrian Times, 17-2-2002 )

Islamic scholar El-Qaradawi announces
resignation from Al-Azhar clerical committee
Ahram Online, 2 Dec 2013

Yousef El-Qaradawi, an influential Islamic scholar who is close to the Muslim Brotherhood, has announced that he has resigned from an advisory body within Al-Azhar.
In a statement on his personal Facebook page on Sunday, the scholar said that he was resigning from Al-Azhar's Supreme Clerical Committee, a key advisory body within the institution. In the statement, the cleric lashed out at the religious institution's support for the "military coup" against the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted from the presidency in July.
"I present my resignation to the Egyptian people because they are the true owner of Al-Azhar, and not the sheikh of Al-Azhar," read the statement.
El-Qaradawi described the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed El-Tayyeb, and other key leaders within the institution, as supporters of "a military coup that raped the office of the Egyptian president."

The cleric left Egypt in 1961 after being detained three times during former president Gamal Abdel-Nasser's regime. He moved to Qatar in 1962, and returned to Egypt in 2011 after the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak.
El-Qaradawi, seen as a vocal supporter of the Brotherhood, has come in for strong criticism recently in the Egyptian media and on social networks for his attacks on the Egyptian army during his TV programme, broadcast on the Al Jazeera channel. In one appearance he called for jihad against "military rule" in Egypt.

He attended Al-Azhar University in Cairo, where he met Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Banna offered an Islamic alternative to the alleged ills of modern life: corruption and gambling, insolent women and provocative writings, alcohol and the neglect of the poorest members of society. In a word: godlessness.
Former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser imprisoned the sheikh three times because of his Islamist activities. In 1961, Qaradawi went into exile in Qatar, where he still lives today. With the protection of the Emir of Qatar, Qaradawi was able to build his fatwa empire, a realm of schools and various forms of media. (Spiegel Online 15-2-2011)

On 21 February 2011, Yusuf al Qaradawi 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!" (WIKIPEDIA info)

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". Al-Akkbar march 2012

Maqsoud 2012Higazi 2012higazi 2009

Muslim Brotherhood 2012: "It Is an Obligation to Kill Bashar Al-Assad"

Secular Syria Rebels Mull Rejoining Gov't to Fight Al-Qaeda
Fars News Agency, 6-12-2013

TEHRAN (FNA)- Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander Gen. Salim Idris announced he is dropping the demand for President Bashar Assad to resign before the Geneva II peace conference looming on January 22. He said that he’s content with talks toward an eventual transition at the end of the negotiation process, reported Wednesday.
That may not sound like much on the surface, but it points to what officials say is a significant shift in the secularist rebel perspective, as they consider merging with the Assad government to end their mutual fighting and instead focus on the war against al-Qaeda and the rest of the Wahhabi extremist militants.

Gen. Idris addressed the prospect very directly in his comments, saying that the growing FSA fighting with Al-Qaeda has left them fighting a war on two different fronts. As foreign Wahhabi extremists continue to flock to Al-Qaeda factions like Jabhat al-Nusra, that’s a problem that’s only going to get worse, as some 5,500 foreign fighters in Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) alone look to dominate the rebel-controlled Northwest.

Egypt's General El-Sisi voted Person of the Year by 'Time' readers
Ahram Online, Friday 6 Dec 2013

General Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Egypt's armed forces chief and minister of defence, is the winner of TIME’s 2013 Person of the Year poll, the magazine announced on Thursday.
According to the American magazine, El-Sisi won 26.2 percent of the total votes, beating Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and American pop star Miley Cyrus, who were also popular with readers.
El-Sisi's popularity soared in Egypt after he appeared on national television on 3 July and announced the removal of president Mohamed Morsi, following days of protests against the elected president's rule.

Anti-Coup Pro-Legitimacy Alliance
Rejects Referendum Under Military Repression
Muslim Brotherhood-IkhwanWeb, 4-12-2013

The military coup leaders have not yet understood the serious situation the putschists are pushing this homeland into...
So, the gang of evil fascism, blood and savagery continues to live the illusion, as one of toppled Mubarak’s senior officials hands a copy of the invalid, irrational and unconstitutional black document, that has nothing to do with any principles, to the so-called interim president, to issue orders to the junta’s judges and murderous military forces to hold a referendum for all the loyal followers.
This is exactly the way their great mentor Mubarak organized rigged referendums. The deluded putschists think they can give a coat of legitimacy to the coup and its make-believe procedures to enable them to complete their illegitimate roadmap

The putschists are calling a referendum the result of which is well-known in advance, to spruce up their image and provide justification for recognition of the coup government by the West, which is in fact complicit in their plans, plots and conspiracies.
The Anti-Coup Pro-Legitimacy National Alliance warns the military coup commanders, it rejects any action that builds on the military coup, including this latest farce, made in the stealth of a dark night, in the Shura Council, in complete secrecy, as if the Egyptian people were some kind of enemies the putschists want to surprise with their poisoned document.

As representatives of the National Alliance, we promise once again to tread the path of the Revolution until we put an end to all this loathsome devastation. We will not give legitimacy to the military coup, regardless of its murderous savagery. We will never accept injustice and will never agree with the corrupt. We will never give in to murderous criminals. The Revolution continues...

The Anti-Coup Pro-Legitimacy National Alliance
December 3, 2013

Salafist Nour Party: Will vote 'yes' in the Egyptian constitution referendum
Ahram Online, 5 Dec 2013

Salafist Nour Party said they will agree to the amendments made to the Egyptian constitution in the upcoming referendum.
Younnes Makhioun, the party's head, said at a press conference on Thursday that "even though the constitution includes articles that the party does not agree upon," they will still call upon citizens to vote yes in the referendum. Doing so is in the interest that all Egyptians are yearning for, in terms of development and stability, Makhioun said.
A final draft of the constitution was submitted on Tuesday by Amr Moussa – head of the 50-member panel assigned to amend the 2012 charter predominantly drafted by Islamists – to Egypt's Interim President Adly Mansour. A public referendum is to be called within a month.

"It is impossible for each and every faction to achieve everything that it wants," Makhioun told reporters. "Everything has its positives and negatives, and we have to distinguish between what we wish for, and what is possible and available."

Al-Nour Party is an ultra-conservative Islamist party maintaining a strict version of Islam, known as the Salafi methodology. Salafis believe in practising Islam as it was practiced by the Prophet Muhammad, his companions, and the later generations. Their main source of governance is strictly based on the Quran and the Sunnah.
In the 2011–12 Egypt parliamentary elections, the Islamist Bloc led by Al-Nour party received 7,534,266 votes out of a total 27,065,135 correct votes (27.8%). (WIKIPEDIA info)

Nelson Mandela,
father of Rainbow Nation,
passes away
Algeria Press Service, 6-12-203

ALGIERS- A man of courage, symbol of resistance, one of the most committed leaders of his time against oppression and apartheid, Nelson Mandela, a 95 years old hero, died Thursday evening at his home in Johannesburg. Born on 18 July 1918, Rolihlahla Mandela, affectionately known as Madiba, devoted all his life to the struggle for a multi-racial South Africa.
In the darkness of the freezing prisons of the Apartheid regime, he continued to revive the flame of struggle against discrimination and injustice till his release in 1990. The Rainbow Nation, a concept created by Bishop Desmond tutu to refer to a South Africa reconciled with itself, is today a reality.

Algeria meant a lot to Mandela. In 1961, he became aware of the Algerian people’s resistance which inspired him in his struggle. Upon his release on 11 February 1990, after 27 years of imprisonment, Nelson Mandela insisted to come to Algeria in recognition of its support to the fight of the South African people against the apartheid.

The Rainbow Nation

A term coined by Archbishop Desmond Tutu to describe post-apartheid South Africa, after South Africa's first fully democratic election in 1994. The phrase was elaborated upon by President Nelson Mandela in his first month of office, when he proclaimed: "Each of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld - a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world." (Wikipedia info)

The term was intended to encapsulate the unity of multi-culturalism and the coming-together of people of many different nations, in a country once identified with the strict division of white and black.
In a series of televised appearances, Tutu spoke of the 'Rainbow People of God'. As a cleric, this metaphor drew upon the Old Testament story of Noah's Flood, and its ensuing rainbow of peace. Within South African indigenous cultures, the rainbow is associated with hope and a bright future.

The influence of Algeria's revolution
on South Africa's anti-apartheid movement
Albawaba, December 8th, 2013

While mourning the death of Nelson Mandela, an Algerian minister on Friday spoke of the African leader’s first military training in Algeria during 1960s.
“Mandela received his initial military training by the rebels of the National Liberation Front in Algeria in the early 1960s, when he decided to establish a military arm to the African National Congress,” Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ramtane Lamamra told journalists during a summit for Peace and Security in Africa which began Friday in Paris.
“Algeria was a strong supporter of the African National Congress, providing it with weapons, passports and other tools which contributed to the historic triumph against apartheid,” Lamamra added.
In his autobiography “The Long Walk to Freedom,” Mandela admits that he was inspired by the Algerian revolution, which he said was the closest to South Africa’s at the time, writing “the Algerian rebels had to face a big colony of white men who were governing the majority of the population.”

Algeria was the first country Mandela visited after his widely celebrated release from prison in Feb. 1990 as a symbolic gesture showing appreciation for Algeria’s support to the people of South Africa during its struggle against the apartheid.

Algeria twenty years on: words do not die
Karima Bennoune, Open Democracy net, 24 June 2013

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Algerian jihadists war on culture. Those who waged the intellectual struggle against fundamentalism in Algeria throughout the 1990s received little support internationally. Karima Bennoune pays tribute to those who fell in the culturicide, and warns of the urgent need to remember.

Systematic killings of intellectuals

My father, Algerian anthropologist Mahfoud Bennoune called the systematic 1990s killings of intellectuals by the country’s fundamentalist armed groups a genocide. In my research about the unrelenting assault on Algeria’s intelligentsia that began in early 1993, I have come to understand my father’s use of the term. This was indeed an attempt by the radical Islamists battling the Algerian state to stamp out the North African nation’s culture and to wipe out those who shaped it.
It was, as Algerian writer and artist Mustapha Benfodil describes it, an “intellectocide.” Benfodil, whose most recent installation, “Headless,” memorialized these assassinations, argues that “never, to my knowledge, have so many intellectuals been killed in so little time.”...

The intellectuals who were killed first by extremists in Algeria were mainly those who had most quickly and clearly understood the nature of the beast. My father’s friend Salah Chouaki, a leftwing school inspector and esteemed education reformer, had warned in one of the last articles he published before being gunned down on September 14,1994 by the GIA that “the most dangerous and deadly illusion… is to underestimate fundamentalism, the mortal enemy of our people.”...

No one said, ‘we are with you

The leftwing women’s group RAFD (refuse) was born after the funeral of one of the slain scholars, and its members took to the streets with their heads uncovered, carrying photos of the dead and wearing cloth targets in protest. Their philosophy was rather like Djaout’s. “If you speak out, they will kill you. If you keep silent, they will kill you. So speak out, and die.”
Those who waged the intellectual struggle against fundamentalism in Algeria in the early nineties, who spoke out and died - or lived - received almost no support internationally.
Algerian psychologist and women’s rights advocate Cherifa Bouatta says there is still tremendous anger at those internationally who could have been the allies of progressive anti-fundamentalists but were not. “No one said, ‘we are with you.’” ...

The fundamentalist armed groups’ assault on knowledge and the learned hit many professional categories.... Some 71,500 university graduates reportedly fled the fundamentalist onslaught between 1992 and 1996 alone, a brain drain whose consequences continue to be felt today. ...
I write this article to pay tribute to those who fell in the Algerian jihadists war on culture twenty years ago, and to say to their families, and their colleagues who continue their work, that progressives elsewhere will not forget them.
Though men and women may be gunned down, words do not die, and I continue to learn from their words every day. They taught that one must be entirely lucid and unwavering in one’s critique of the extreme right, wherever one lives...

Mandela versus Paul Bremer
By Juan Cole, Dec. 10, 2013

Every transition from an authoritarian government to democracy is different. Some go relatively smoothly. Others are rocky.... In some cases, the country falls into chaos (Iraq, Yugoslavia).
What to do with the former ruling elites of a police state is always a problem. Victims and their families naturally want justice. State personnel want amnesty on the grounds that they were only following orders.
Nelson Mandela established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission that had a unique mission. It sought to document the truth of what the Apartheid police state erected by the Afrikaners had done to the people of South Africa. In return for a searingly truthful accounting, officials found to be acting for reasons of politics were amnestied.
It worked. South Africa has its problems, but it did not go to civil war or even a low intensity insurgency. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a step toward healing rather than a step toward ethnic violence. The process whereby a new constitution was hammered out contributed to the country’s relative success. So too did the economic arrangements that were made...

Contrast all this to Iraq after 2003. There, the Bush administration installed vindictive Shiites like Ahmad Chalabi in a “debaathification commission” (the Baath Party ruled 1968-2003). Some 70,000 Sunni Arabs were fired from government jobs for having been party members, even though many members had joined on a pro forma basis. They were replaced with Shiites.
Since Bush’s Iraq was an attempted capitalist revolution in a socialist country, the administration simply closed down all the state factories, maintaining that they were worthless. The Sunni Arab regions of the center-north and west were swept by massive unemployment. Young men and former Baath army personnel turned to insurgency, were repressed and tortured, creating more insurgency, and the guerrilla war continues to this day...
Baath officials have been executed in large numbers, and many others have been killed by sniping and reprisal murders...
The Iraqi constitution was drafted by an elected parliament, but one with only 17 Sunni Arabs in it because the Sunnis boycotted the elections after Bush invaded Falluja. It was a constitution for Shiites, Kurds and the Americans....

Paul Bremer: Governor of Iraq 2003-2004

Bremer arrived in Iraq as the U.S. Presidential Envoy on May 2003, though he did not speak any Arabic nor did he have diplomatic experience in the Middle East. In june Bremer became the country's chief executive authority.
On July 13, 2003, Bremer approved the creation of an Iraqi Interim Governing Council. The council members were chosen by Bremer from among groups and individuals which had supported the American invasion of Iraq. Bremer retained veto power over the council's proposals..
As the top civilian administrator of the former Coalition Provisional Authority, Bremer was permitted to rule by decree. Among his first and most notable decrees were Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 1, which banned the Ba'ath party in all forms and Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 2 dismantled the Iraqi Army.

Bremer's role as the head of the CPA is notable for being the subject of much criticism. Large sums of money have been reported to have gone missing under Bremer's leadership. Bremer's attempts at privatizing much of Iraq's infrastructure and mineral wealth were also highly criticized and Bremer's decision to disband the Iraqi Army is widely credited for fueling the Iraqi insurgency against the American occupation. (Wikipedia info)

Obama: Making the truth?
Seymour M. Hersh, Londen review of books, 8-12-2013

Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin... The al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.

In his nationally televised speech about Syria on 10 September, Barack Obama Obama laid the blame for the nerve gas attack on the rebel-held suburb of Eastern Ghouta firmly on Assad’s government...
He cited a list of what appeared to be hard-won evidence of Assad’s culpability: ‘In the days leading up to August 21st, we know that Assad’s chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area where they mix sarin gas. They distributed gas masks to their troops. Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighbourhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces.’

But in recent interviews with intelligence and military officers and consultants past and present, I found intense concern, and on occasion anger, over what was repeatedly seen as the deliberate manipulation of intelligence. One high-level intelligence officer, in an email to a colleague, called the administration’s assurances of Assad’s responsibility a ‘ruse’. The attack ‘was not the result of the current regime’, he wrote.
A former senior intelligence official told me that the Obama administration had altered the available information – in terms of its timing and sequence – to enable the president and his advisers to make intelligence retrieved days after the attack look as if it had been picked up and analysed in real time, as the attack was happening. The distortion, he said, reminded him of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, when the Johnson administration reversed the sequence of National Security Agency intercepts to justify one of the early bombings of North Vietnam.
The same official said there was immense frustration inside the military and intelligence bureaucracy: ‘The guys are throwing their hands in the air and saying, “How can we help this guy” – Obama – “when he and his cronies in the White House make up the intelligence as they go along?”’

A senior intelligence consultant told me that for two days – 20 and 21 August – there was no mention of Syria. Nothing was noted about the use of nerve gas in Damascus that day. It was not until 23 August that the use of sarin became a dominant issue... At this point, the administration knew no more than the public.

Flashback: Saddam Hussein 2002
"We're starting now to build him up as the big villain"

"Today people must know the reality of the Arab world. What is Israel? Israel today is the United States. The United States is the chief defender of Israel. As for Britain, I consider it America's lackey. Britain does not have an independent policy." Gamal Abdel Nasser, 26-5-1967

French sources: U.S. to attack Iraq `soon': The U.S. operation to topple Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein will take place in the coming months, even before November's Congressional elections, according to high-level sources in the French government following talks with American decision-makers and professionals in Washington.
Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian context, the establishment of a pro-Western government in Baghdad would loosen the stranglehold on Jordan, "which is, in effect, only a buffer-state between Iraq and Israel and is run with the inspiration of the IDF and Mossad," said one French source. Without an Iraq hostile to Israel breathing down Jordan's neck, the Palestinians would have to sober up from their far-reaching illusions... (By Amir Oren, Ha'aretz, 18-7-2002)

Former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised yesterday that he would expel President Yasser Arafat if elected and proposed a three-stage plan for what he called "reforming [the] PNA and bolster[ing] Israel's power of deterrence." "Israel must rid the region of Arafat", Netanyahu stressed. Furthermore, Netanyahu told the crowd that Israel should not only work on ousting the Palestinian Leadership but also changing the entire Palestinian society, which must be changed dramatically to what seems to be a standard meeting Israeli needs. Only then, Netanyahu added, Israel would 'bestow' to Palestinians autonomy, but not a state. (PalestineChronicle, 28-7-2002)

"After the bombing of Libya, our friend Qadhafi is sure to stay out of the picture for some time. Iraq and Saddam Hussein are the next target. We're starting now to build him up as the big villain. It will take some time, but in the end, there's no doubt it'll work." (Victor Ostrovsky, former Israeli Mossad agent, in: Bij way of deception)

We live at a time where Western media, including The Economist, are only interested in finding fault with Arabs and Muslims. The Western media picks whatever facts it finds to show that the Arab failure is complete, in the economic as well as in other fields. The Arabs are ubiquitously backward. And their failure, ineptitude and backwardness must lead to terror, particularly the sort that hit the United States on 11 September. This, of course, gives Israel ample excuse to do as it pleases with the Palestinians. And it gives the United States and Israel a pretext to rearrange the region at will. (Galal Amin, professor of economics at the American University in Cairo)

Dr. Sadoun Hammadi, Speaker of Iraqi National Assembly
sends a letter to speakers of U.S. Senates and Representatives

Sirs, One of the biggest problems that has existed since 1990 between our people and country, on the one hand, and the successive US administrations on the other, along with the stubborn injustice and incessant aggression and destruction inflicted upon our country and people, and the comprehensive blockade unjustly imposed on our population for twelve years now, has been the absence of all channels of dialogue between our two countries, the channels that might have helped develop a language of understanding between our respective representatives.
This has meant that your Congress and, hence, the American people, have unfortunately been deprived of any genuine opportunity to see the facts of the situation for what they really are, in order that your judgments and decisions, on behalf of your people, might have been based on sound assessments in both objective and practical terms.

This lack of communication has been the root cause of the actions taken against our country since 1990. Had the naked facts been put to you, and indeed to others, as they are; and had we been able to allow dialogue the chance it deserved both objectively and practically, then things might have taken a different course. (Iraqi News Agency, 5-8-2002)

Top Western-Backed Rebel in Syria Is Forced to Flee
Islamic Front Takes Over Aid Warehouses From Moderate Rebels
Adam Entous & Rima Abushakra, Wall Street Journal, 11-12-2013

Islamist fighters ran the top Western-backed rebel commander in Syria out of his headquarters, and he fled the country, U.S. officials said Wednesday. The Islamists also took over key warehouses holding U.S. military gear for moderate fighters in northern Syria over the weekend. The takeover and flight of Gen. Salim Idris of the Free Syrian Army shocked the U.S., which along with Britain immediately froze delivery of nonlethal military aid to rebels in northern Syria.
The turn of events was the strongest sign yet that the U.S.-allied FSA is collapsing under the pressure of Islamist domination of the rebel side of the war. It also weakened the Obama administration's hand as it struggles to organize a peace conference next month bringing together rebels and the regime.

The Islamic Front is a recently formed alliance of the largest Islamist rebel groups that excludes the two main al Qaeda-linked rebel groups - the Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham - and is considered the more moderate faction among Islamist rebel groups.
Gen. Idris flew to the Qatari capital of Doha on Sunday after fleeing to Turkey, U.S. officials said Wednesday. "He fled as a result of the Islamic Front taking over his headquarters," a senior U.S. official said.
The growing strength of the Islamic Front prompted the U.S. and its allies to recently hold direct talks with Islamic Front representatives. The goal, according to Western officials, was to persuade some Islamists to support a Syria peace conference set for Geneva on Jan. 22 for fear that a lasting accord won't be possible without their backing. The SMC already agreed to participate in the peace talks...
The Obama administration is still trying to determine the circumstances of the takeover over the weekend. At the same time, the U.S. is urging Gen. Idris to return to Syria, American officials said.

Charles Lister, an analyst with IHS Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre, has estimated the Islamic Front's fighting strength at 45,000. The FSA, which had been the largest rebel fighting force and was once estimated to have 70,000 to 150,000 fighters, now has about 40,000 men, according to one commander. Opposition activists in the disputed area said the Islamic Front is seeking to diminish the moderate umbrella group. "They don't want the SMC to exist. They took over all their bases and set up new checkpoints," an activist in the area said by Skype.

Obama Advisor: Extremism Could Be Key To Abandon Assad
BY Elias Groll, 11-12-2013

Speaking at Transformational Trends, a conference co-hosted by Foreign Policy and the Policy Planning Staff of the U.S. State Department, Deputy National Security Advisor Antony Blinken said that the radicalization of the conflict may create a shared interest among world powers to bring the war to an end.
The growing prominence of radical groups has "begun to concentrate the minds of critical actors outside of Syria" and may strip the Bashar al-Assad regime of the key international backing that has so far helped to keep him in power.

"The Russians have a profound interest in avoiding the emergence of an extremist Syria, a haven for extremist groups," Blinken said. "Many of Syria's neighbors have the same incentive, and of course we have a strong reason to want to avoid that future."
All this points to a possible "convergence of interests" among world powers to back a negotiated solution to the conflict. "The test will be coming up in January," Blinken said, referring to the peace talks in Geneva scheduled for that month.

While ties between Moscow and Washington has been severely strained over the course of the Obama administration, one of the few bright spots in that relationship has been a general willingness to cooperate on issues of terrorism. Russia faces an Islamist insurgency in the Caucasus, and Moscow has been the site of frequent terror attacks...
Whether that concern over terrorism is sufficient for Moscow to abandon Assad is of course uncertain, but it is that fear of resurgent terror that animates what Blinken called a "convergence of interests" on Syria. As terrorist groups gain a foothold in Syria, the reasoning goes, Moscow will become sufficiently concerned that the situation has gotten so out of control as to de-escalate and force Assad to negotiate.

TONY BLINKEN: "...there are two things going on here that are important to understand. First, with regard to the underlying conflict in Syria, there has been a civil war going on, as you know. And we have been working very hard to end that war, and we think the best way to do that is through a negotiated transition that moves Assad out through a political process. In order to do that, we have got to get him to the negotiating table, and that involves, in part, putting the pressure on him, isolating him, and building up the opposition, which we have been doing over the -- in recent months..." (wccb

Abbas rejects US plan for permanent Israel troop presence
Ahram online, Friday 13 Dec 2013

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has rejected US proposals for Israel to keep troops in a future Palestinian state along its strategic border with Jordan, a Palestinian source said...
Following a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in the West Bank city of Ramallah, "President Abbas has rejected the ideas presented by the secretary of state", the source said. Abbas also gave Kerry a letter on "Palestinian red lines", the source added, singling out "the refusal to recognise Israel as a Jewish state".

Abbas "rejected the ideas on security because there is not a third party". This refers to a plan by former US national security adviser James Jones under which a third party would deploy along the Palestinian-Jordanian border.
Israeli and Arab media reports say the plan envisaged by Washington would see Israel maintain a military presence on the border after a peace agreement with the Palestinians. An international force would be acceptable to the Palestinians, but Israel opposes such a solution.

What makes Israel a Jewish state,
as opposed to a state of all its citizens?
By Ben White, New Statesman, 05 February 2012

* Foundational to Israel's legal framework as a Jewish state is legislation passed in the first few years, specifically the Law of Return, the Absentee Property Law, and the Citizenship Law. These laws shaped an institutionalised regime of ethno-religious discrimination by extending Israel's 'frontiers' to include every Jew in the world (as a potential citizen), at the same time as explicitly excluding expelled Palestinians....
Israel the 'liberal democracy' was founded on the basis of ethnic cleansing and mass land expropriation; that the only reason there is a 'Jewish majority' at all, is because of the historic fact of the forced exclusion of Palestinians from their homes and lands.

** There is a distinction in Israel between 'citizenship' and 'nationality'...
In the 1970s, Israel's Supreme Court rejected a petition by a Jewish Israeli who sought to change his nationality status from 'Jewish' to 'Israeli'. The ruling stated that "there is no Israeli nation separate from the Jewish nation...composed not only of those residing in Israel but also of Diaspora Jewry". Then-president of the Court Shimon Agranat said that a uniform Israeli nationality "would negate the very foundation upon which the State of Israel was formed".

*** Israeli law provides for the banning of electoral candidates who deny "the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people". Related to that, proposed bills can be rejected on the grounds that they undermine "Israel's existence as the state of the Jewish people". s.

**** There is the legislated role of the Zionist institutions, the Jewish Agency/World Zionist Organisation and Jewish National Fund, bodies intended to privilege Jews, by being granted responsibilities normally performed by the state...

US Might Okay ‘Non-Nuclear’ Iran Sanctions
State Dept: We Only Promised No New Nuclear Sanctions
by Jason Ditz, December 12, 2013

Underscoring the incredibility bad faith in which the US is negotiating with Iran, the State Department’s head negotiator for Iran talks, Undersecretary Wendy Sherman, insisted that Congress could theoretically keep slapping new sanctions on Iran so long as they didn’t make it about their civilian nuclear program.
“We’d have to look at what the specific language was,” Sherman noted, after being questioned by the Senate Banking Committee about the possibility of imposing new sanctions on Iran for “terrorism.”
Sherman went on to say that “the only commitment we have made in this agreement is no new nuclear-related sanctions.” Since the “why” behind US sanctions is usually little more than an afterthought, that suggests the deal is no deal at all.

Though Sherman didn’t suggest such sanctions were planned, the comments clearly give the Senate cover to try to pump out new rounds of sanctions on whatever other flimsy pretext they can, so long as they avoid the word “nuclear.” Whatever the case, such moves are likely to seriously harm diplomacy with Iran and give a boost to hardliners in the Iranian government who have insisted the US couldn’t be trusted to keep its end of the bargain.

Netanyahu looking at the map of greater Israel, 13-12-2013
border between Israel and Jordan marked - no Westbank borders

Peter Lerner: 40 yo Israeli with British roots.IDF Spokesman for Intl. Media.

The “Judaisation” of Palestine
By Jonathan Cook, Global Research, 11-12-2013

"The vision I would like to see here is the entrenching of the Jewish and the Zionist state. I very much favor democracy, but when there is a contradiction between democratic and Jewish values, the Jewish and Zionist values are more important." Avigdor Lieberman (The Nation, 2006-12-14)

As United States envoys shuttle back and forth in search of a peace formula to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a matter supposedly settled decades ago is smouldering back into life.
In what was billed as a “day of rage” last month, thousands of Palestinians took to the streets to protest against a plan to uproot tens of thousands of Bedouin from their ancestral lands inside Israel, in the Negev (Naqab)...
Bedouin leaders, who were ignored in the plan’s drafting, say they will oppose it to the bitter end. The villages, though treated as illegal by the state, are the last places where the Bedouin cling to their land and a traditional pastoral life. But the Israeli government is equally insistent that the Bedouin must be “concentrated”... In the place of the villages, a handful of Jewish towns will be erected.

Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, argued last week that the fight over the Negev proves “nothing has changed since the days of the tower and stockade” – a reference to heavily fortified outposts the Zionists aggressively built in the 1930s to evict Palestinians from the land they had farmed for centuries: “We are fighting for the lands of the Jewish people, against those who intentionally try to rob and seize them.”...

The roots of the Prawer Plan can be traced to one of Zionism’s earliest principles: “Judaisation”.
There are cities across Israel, including Upper Nazareth, Karmiel and Migdal Haemek, founded as Judaisation communities next to large Palestinian populations with the official goal of “making the land Jewish”...
Last week, in the wake of the clashes, the Israeli Haaretz daily published leaked documents showing that the World Zionist Organisation – an unofficial arm of the government – has been quietly reviving the Judaisation programme in the Galilee. In an effort to bring another 100,000 Jews to the region, several new towns are to be built, for Jews only... The new Jewish towns, as Arab mayors complained last week, are being built intentionally to box them in.

For officials, the renewed Judaisation drive is about asserting “Israeli sovereignty” and “strengthening our hold” over the Galilee, as if the current inhabitants – Israeli citizens who are Palestinian – were a group of hostile foreigners... Haaretz more honestly characterised the policy as “racism”.

MK Levin: Building in Judea and Samaria More Important Than Ever
Israel cannot concede land to the PA - and cannot stop building in Judea and Samaria
By David Lev, Arutz Sheva, 30-9-2013

While the government continues talks with the Palestinian Authority, construction must continue in Judea and Samaria, said coalition chairman MK Yariv Levin.
“In the end there is only one true test of success; the more we deepen our attachment to the Land of Israel, the more we will receive greater international recognition,” said Levin.
“In today's world, determination is the key to receiving support worldwide, and certainly in a matter as important as ensuring the future of the Land of Israel, it is important that we advance that determination and build without fear or hesitation,” he added.
Levin does not believe that the talks Israel is engaged in with the PA in Washington will bear fruit. “The gaps between us are too great,” said Levin. “But Israel cannot allow itself to be painted as the party that refuses to negotiate.

Republican Jewish Coalition, december 2013

Whereas a nuclear Iran is a significant national security threat to America, our allies, and the entire free world; Whereas President Obama has failed in his duty to protect America's national security interests by easing up the pressure on Iran - while permitting Iran to continue enriching uranium; Whereas it was the increasingly tough sanctions and the threat of military force that pressured Iran to come to the negotiating table in the first place...
The Republican Jewish Coalition calls on Congress to maintain the pressure on Iran by imposing new tougher sanctions, and urges President Obama to demand a complete and immediate cessation of all nuclear activity by Iran.

About RJC

Republican Jewish Coalition
anti-Obama ad 2012
For 25 years, the Republican Jewish Coalition (formerly the National Jewish Coalition) has been the voice for Jewish Republicans. The RJC was founded in 1985 to be a permanent Jewish presence in the Republican community and a credible Republican presence in the Jewish community.
As the unique bridge between the Jewish community and Republican leaders, the RJC earned the trust of the Reagan and Bush administration officials, national and state legislators, and party leaders.
The RJC works to sensitize Republican decision makers in government and the party to the concerns of the Jewish community...
The Republican Jewish Coalition has a tradition of leadership and activism, hosting events and activities such as the Presidential Candidates Forum, leadership trips to Israel for Members of Congress, governors and other leaders, and creating a high-level and high-profile Jewish presence at the Republican National Convention.
On every level, the Republican Jewish Coalition is committed to building a strong, effective, and respected Jewish Republican voice in Washington and across the country.

Israel has nuke weapons, confirms former Knesset speaker
Saudi Gazette, 15-12-2013

RAMALLAH – A right-wing Israeli political group has demanded that Former Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg be investigated on suspicion of treason after he confirmed that Israel possessed nuclear and chemical weapons.
The rightist Channel 7 television said that the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel sent a letter to the State Prosecution and to police to investigate Burg for the statement he made last week. The Forum said in its letter that during Burg’s years as the Knesset Speaker and as a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, he was exposed to Israeli state secrets.
“Now he is deciding unilaterally to reveal Israel’s nuclear and chemical capabilities to the enemy, and the world, and even encouraged other Members of Knesset to do the same,” the group argued.

Burg was Knesset Speaker from 1999 to 2003 with the Labor party. On Thursday, the Hebrew daily Ma’ariv quoted Burg as saying at a conference advocating a nuclear-free Middle East in the northern city of Haifa that “Israel has nuclear and chemical weapons” and called for an “open and brave public discussion” on the issue.
According to the television, Burg is reportedly expected to head a conference in the near future which will discuss Israel’s alleged nuclear and chemical weapons.

Flashback 2007: "Defeating Hitler"
Reviewed by By Ina Friedman, The Jerusalem Report 31 juli 2007

Burg, 2002 In a stinging indictment of its approach to the Holocaust, Avraham Burg, a former pillar of the Zionist and Israeli-political establishments assails his country's insecurities as self-induced, charges that the Jewish state is prone to a form of racism no less vicious than that of the Nazis, and urges his countrymen to shed their narrow Israeli ethos and transform themselves into universal Jews

Burg begins by arguing that Israel's understanding and approach to the Shoah (the Holocaust) has warped its psyche and values almost to the point of mirroring those of Hitler and his cohorts.
He then launches a frontal attack on what he regards as the Jewish racism (derived from the notion of being God's "Chosen People") that is fostered, he argues, by Israel's rigidly fundamentalist religious establishment and has been echoed from the podium of the Knesset (in calls for ethnic cleansing couched in the euphemism of "transferring" the Arabs out of the Jewish patrimony). ...
He advocates dismantling the classic constructs of the Jewish nation-state (such as the Law of Return), imploring his countrymen to embrace, and truly eternalize, humanist values and thus join - and place their trust in the fidelity of - the family of enlightened nations.

In nigh-apocalyptic language, he argues that the warped, fundamentalist reading of the liturgical verse, "You have chosen us from among all the nations" has given rise to a "Jewish racist doctrine" positing the innate superiority of the Jewish people. ...

Flashback 2011: New York Times' refusal to publish “positive” pieces
Jerusalem Post, 16/12/2011

Netanyahu’s senior adviser Ron Dermer writes letter to ‘New York Times’ explaining why PM “respectfully declined” to write op-ed piece.

Dear Sasha, I received your email requesting that Prime Minister Netanyahu submit an op-ed to the New York Times. Unfortunately, we must respectfully decline.
The opinions of some of your regular columnists regarding Israel are well known. They consistently distort the positions of our government and ignore the steps it has taken to advance peace. They cavalierly defame our country by suggesting that marginal phenomena condemned by Prime Minister Netanyahu and virtually every Israeli official somehow reflects government policy or Israeli society as a whole. Worse, one columnist even stooped to suggesting that the strong expressions of support for Prime Minister Netanyahu during his speech this year to Congress was "bought and paid for by the Israel lobby" rather than a reflection of the broad support for Israel among the American people....
Not to be accused of cherry-picking to prove a point, I discovered that during the last three months (September through November) you published 20 op-eds about Israel in the New York Times and International Herald Tribune. After dividing the op-eds into two categories, “positive” and “negative,” with “negative” meaning an attack against the State of Israel or the policies of its democratically elected government, I found that 19 out of 20 columns were “negative.”
So with all due respect to your prestigious paper, you will forgive us for declining your offer. We wouldn't want to be seen as "Bibiwashing" [your negative] op-ed page....

Bad Deal, Doesn’t Dismantle Nuke Program,
Military Strike Only Option To Stop Iranian Nuclear Bombs
By Morton A. Klein, president Zionist Organization of America, 13-12-2013

“The Geneva nuclear interim deal with Iran is a disaster. President Obama has said that this deal will dramatically reduce the likelihood of war. Ironically, it will greatly increase the likelihood or war. It has certainly dramatically increased the likelihood that Iran will be able to develop nuclear weapons...
“The U.S. is deeply threatened by Iran’s nuclear program, but Israel, being so small and much closer to Iran, is even more directly threatened.... “A proper nuclear deal with Iran would have also involved full and faithful consultation by the Obama Administration with Israel, given the magnitude of the issue and the existential risk posed to Israel.
Israel, America’s closest ally, was not consulted and thus denied input into the contours of the interim deal in Geneva. Instead, the Obama Administration kept Israel in the dark. It also and played down the extent of the economic relief to be provided to Iran. Administration officials claimed at first that only $6-7 billion in economic relief was a stake; only later did they admit to Israel that it was much more, some $20 billion.

“Continuing and increasing punishing sanctions alone might have induced the Iranian Shia Islamist regime to back down and abandon its nuclear weapons program. The regime, though intent on obtaining nuclear weapons and becoming a regional superpower, might have yielded on the nuclear issue if the preservation of the regime and thus its ability to advance the radical Shia Islamist cause that animates it was endangered...
“In view of this, there is now probably no way Iran can be prevented from becoming a nuclear power except through military action.

Iran says to continue nuclear talks despite US blacklist
YNet News, 15-12-2013

Tehran said Sunday it will keep talking with world powers on its disputed nuclear program despite a US move to blacklist Iranian companies for evading sanctions.
"We are pursuing the negotiations seriously and of course we will give a well-considered, purposeful, smart and proper reaction to any inappropriate and unconstructive move," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on his Facebook page. "The negotiations and achieving a result are a difficult task and will definitely have a lot of ups and downs. We have predicted that from the very beginning."

"Some friends who were not happy with the Geneva joint action program have already announced its premature death, which is more the expression of their desire rather than the truth," he said on Facebook.
"The negotiating team has a more important responsibility... and is ready to remain silent against unjust and unfair accusations for the sake of national interests, but will answer to all the criticism and ambiguity at the right time."

Under the interim deal reached in Geneva, Iran agreed to freeze parts of its suspect nuclear program in return for some relief from Western sanctions as it negotiates a comprehensive accord to allay suspicions that it seeks a weapons capability. The United States also agreed to refrain from slapping new sanctions on Iran.

Dershowitz: Ignore International Law
By Gil Ronen, Arutz Sheva, 16-12-2013

Esteemed advocate Alan Dershowitz says that Israel should ignore international law when deciding how to deal with Iran. Iran does not believe that its nuclear weapons program is in danger of being attacked, he estimated. It wrongly believes, he said, that Israel will not attack it unless the US gives it a green light.
The interim deal made with Iran in Geneva was “a mistake,” Dershowitz said. Iran “got what it wanted...China is already there in Tehran seeking business. Other countries are there seeking business. They see the end of the sanctions regime. The words may not be be that but the music is certainly in that direction.”
Iran has given up nothing in the deal, he explained. They are still developing rockets that can carry nuclear weapons.

Internation law is a construct
in the mind of a bunch of left-wing academics

"I urge the state of Israel not to base its decision on existing international law. No country survival has ever been made to depend on international law. International law in this regard is anachronistic, it's out of date, it was never viable.."
"If Winston Churchill had made the decision in 1937 to attack Nazi germany because they were building up an arm system capable of destroying all Europe they would have been in violation of international law and it would have been the right thing to do.. "
"Internation law is a construct in the mind of a bunch of left-wing academics. There is no basis for international law (applause) in any reality. It's not based on legislation, much of it is not based on treaty, it is the ultimate exercise in elitist non-democracy."
"If it makes sense then it should be followed.. But if you apply literal international law to [..] problems you get an extremely unjust result.."
"I cannot imagine any rational government making a decision on its own survival based on a bunch of academics, deciding in ivory towers what international law should be.."

Flashback 2007: Israel will never apologize
Achin Vanaik, The Telegraph, April 05, 2007

Israel demands recognition from the very people whom it ethnically cleansed in 1948 in order to come into existence, but will itself never apologize for having carried out that ethnic cleansing.
That apology, in fact, is the crucial symbolic-political meaning of the Palestinian demand for Israel to recognize the right of return of refugees. The demographic issue of where Palestinians will actually return is by contrast a minor and easily negotiable one.

The irony is that the PLO in the Oslo Accords did recognize Israel’s right to exist, but only got recognition for itself as the legitimate representative authority for Palestinians. It never got formal recognition of the Palestinian right to a genuinely independent and truly viable territorial state on the basis of the 1967 borders...
Hamas, very sensibly, is not about to make the same mistake.. It has rightly asked — which Israel is it being asked to recognize. One that will territorially confine itself to the 1967 borders, or the one today demanding much more than that, but still not specifying the limits of its territorial greed.

ASA (American Studies Association)
votes for academic boycott of Israel
Ma'an News, 17/12/2013

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The largest and oldest academic organization dedicated to the study of the United States announced on Monday that its membership had voted overwhelmingly to endorse the boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
In a landmark decision, more than 66 percent of voting members of the American Studies Association opted in favor of a resolution that supported the boycott. The resolution also expressed the association's support for US-based academics to speak critically of Israeli policies.

"The ASA's endorsement of the academic boycott emerges from the context of US military and other support for Israel; Israel's violation of international law and UN resolutions; the documented impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian scholars and students; the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights; and finally, the support of such a resolution by a majority of ASA members," a statement released by the association read.

The American Studies Association is the largest US-based academic association to support the academic boycott of Israel to-date, and it follows the Association for Asian American Studies' decision to do so in April.
The vote is a particularly historic move given that the United States is one of Israel's strongest allies and gives it more $3 billion in aid per year.
The campaign was supported by the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI), a major scholarly organization with nearly 1000 endorsements from many leading US academics.

Students Support the American Studies Association Boycott Resolution
US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI)

The following statement in support of the American Studies Association resolution supporting academic boycott was organized by Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine and National Students for Justice in Palestine.

We give our unqualified endorsement of the ASA resolution in support of the Academic Boycott. In so doing, we stand in solidarity with the call from Palestinian civil society to put in place an institutional boycott of Israeli universities and other academic centers to protest the ongoing belligerent occupation of Palestine, and the systemic infringements of the rights to education and academic freedom of Palestinian students and scholars in the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel.
We are deeply aware of the concert of colonial and imperial interests which has led to over 130 years of Zionist colonization of Palestinian lands... We see the Palestinian struggle for national liberation as part of the larger struggle for self-determination by the peoples of the global South as they have sought to break free of the fetters of European colonialism and US imperialism....

We refuse to live in a world in which militarized borders and economic degradation are taken for granted as natural features of the global system. We reject that world, in favor of one in which everyone can learn and study without hindrance, borders can be crossed without effort, people may live and breathe free, and students can go to school afraid neither of power cut-offs nor of their research centers being bombarded...
And so, as students, we stand with our Palestinian comrades in their just struggle for decolonization. And so, for these reasons, the ASA resolution for a full academic boycott of Israeli institutions is in total accord with our work.

These non-violent punitive measures should be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.” (Source)

Barack Obama: "We cannot commit ourselves
to an endless cycle of conflict"
Press TV, 18-12-2013

The White House has announced that US President Barack Obama would veto a new Iran sanctions bill introduced in the Senate. “Passing new sanctions legislation now will undermine our efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Thursday.
“We don’t believe this proposal is necessary, as I think we’ve made clear and we have been discussing with members of Congress for quite some time. We don’t believe it will be enacted. We certainly know it’s not necessary. If it were to pass, the president would veto it,” he added.

Last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry told senators that passing new sanctions legislation now would violate the interim deal. Meanwhile, President Obama has repeatedly defended the agreement.

“We cannot close the door on diplomacy, and we cannot rule out peaceful solutions to the world's problems," Obama said. "We cannot commit ourselves to an endless cycle of conflict, and tough talk and bluster may be the easy thing to do politically, but it's not the right thing for our security," he added.

El-Sisi calls on tribesmen to hand over weapons
Ahram Online, Wednesday 18 Dec 2013

Tribesmen should hand over their unlicensed weapons to the authorities, Egyptian army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said...
“I call on tribal leaders not only in Sinai but in every part of Egypt, please hand in your weapons because this is for the benefit of Egypt and its security,” he said in comments published on the army spokesman's Facebook page.
Since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi, weapons have flooded into Egypt from Libya. Smuggled weapons often fall into the hands of Islamist militants in Sinai who are fighting an insurgency against the interim authorities.

“We will not allow the presence of groups stronger than the state,” El-Sisi said. “Our blood and our martyrs fall for a just cause against saboteurs and enemies of the nation.”
Since Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was ousted in July, militants have stepped up attacks against security forces, especially in North Sinai where the army says it is waging a 'war against terror'.
“We won’t forget the role of Sinai’s Bedouins in supporting the army. We need you to line up behind your armed forces until we can attract investment to the region and bring work opportunities to its people,” El-Sisi said.

"Very dangerous elements"

Egypt’s interim rulers have in recent months been intensifying efforts to fight jihadi extremists in Sinai and have struck tunnels into Gaza, a priority for Egypt as well as Israel. and the United States
“One of the areas that we have been very active in in the past few months has been to try and deal with the extremists in the Sinai,” Egypt’s Ambassador to the United States Mohamed Tawfik said. “And to destroy some of the tunnels into Gaza. This has been so far a successful operation...”
Asked about violence in the Sinai, Tawfik said the area had become more fertile ground for extremists during Morsi’s one year rule. “No doubt that the number of extremist elements in Sinai increased dramatically during the one year in which the Muslim Brotherhood ruled Egypt,” Tawfik said. “Now it is up to us to deal with that issue. So [the extremists] are not able to harm Egyptians. These are very dangerous elements.” (backchannel 18-12-2013)

West Tells Syria Rebels: Assad Must Stay
by Jason Ditz,, December 17, 2013

Members of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) report that they have been told by Western officials that they believe President Bashar Assad must remain in power to prevent an al-Qaeda takeover of the country.
“Some do not even seem to mind if he runs again next year,” noted one SNC member. That’s not sitting well with the SNC, but it may not matter.
Western diplomats confirmed the shift, saying that the rebels have been warned that any “transitional administration” would have to include a major presence from Alawites, and that Assad could stay as president with “diminished powers.”

Syrian Minister: "Syria is facing widespread terrorist attacks"
By Dilbikhin Dara and Dilxaz Bahlawi, Rudaw 17-12-2013

In an interview with Rudaw in the run-up to the Geneva 2 Conference, Syrian Information Minister Omran Al-Zoubi said that the aim of the January 22 meeting is for the government, the opposition and the international community to reach a consensus on ending terrorism in Syria.
“We are not going to Geneva to hand over the power in Syria to anyone,” he declared. The minister denied that a Kurdish issue existed in Syria, and added that, “There is no specific area for Syrian Kurds. The Syrian Kurds have their share in all Syrian regions.” Al-Zoubi also referred to the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) as “a patriotic force,” and said they are “playing their patriotic role in defending Syria.”
Asked about the interim government that was unilaterally declared by the PYD in Syria’s Kurdish regions last month, Al-Zoubi said: “The temporary administration is announced to facilitate the daily life of people.” The “PYD does not have any political objective or separation aspirations in doing that,” he added.

Omran Al-Zoubi: The success of the Geneva 2 conference depends on reaching an agreement to end terrorism. The real situation in Syria is that the country is facing widespread terrorist attacks... It is necessary that the Syrians, with the assistance of the international community, reach a consensus to put an end to terrorist activities in Syria and the whole Region. No agreement will have any value if the terrorism issue is not a priority.
The transitional stage for us means to establish a joint government with the agreement of both sides. The Geneva 1 declaration indicates that both sides of the conflict can agree on forming a government. The government can make radical reforms and this in no way tarnishes the president of Syria.

Saudi envoy: West’s policies on Syria and Iran dangerous gamble
Arab News, 19 December 2013

Saudi Arabia is prepared to act on its own to safeguard security in the region, the Saudi ambassador to Britain has said in a commentary published in the New York Times. Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf termed the West’s policies on Iran and Syria as a dangerous gamble.
“We believe that many of the West’s policies on both Iran and Syria risk the stability and security of the Middle East,” the ambassador wrote. “This is a dangerous gamble, about which we cannot remain silent, and will not stand idly by,” he stated.
Citing Iran’s backing for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, he said “rather than challenging the Syrian and Iranian governments, some of our Western partners have refused to take much-needed action against them.
“The West has allowed one regime to survive and the other to continue its program for uranium enrichment, with all the consequent dangers of weaponization,” he wrote.
Diplomatic talks with Iran may “dilute” the West’s will to confront both Damascus and Tehran, he said. As a result, Saudi Arabia “has no choice but to become more assertive in international affairs: More determined than ever to stand up for the genuine stability our region so desperately needs.”

The Saudi ambassador slammed the West for its reluctance to offer decisive help to Syrian rebels, vowing to continue support for the Free Syrian Army and the “Syrian opposition.”

UN's Lakhdar Brahimi: "The United States are still not convinced
that Iran's participation is the right thing to do"
BBC News, 20-12-2013

International negotiators have failed to agree on whether to invite Iran to peace talks over the Syrian conflict, the UN-Arab League envoy on Syria said. Lakhdar Brahimi said the US remained unconvinced that Iran's participation "would be the right thing to do".
Mr Brahimi met American and Russian delegations in the Swiss city of Geneva to finalise the list of nations partaking in the planned peace talks on 22 January.
"On Iran, we haven't agreed yet," he told reporters on Friday. "It's no secret that we in the United Nations welcome the participation of Iran, but our partners in the United States are still not convinced."

America opposes Iran's presence, because of Teheran's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.... Mr Brahimi announced that Qatar and Saudi Arabia would join Geneva II.

Putin pardons Jewish tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky
By Nataliya Vasilyeva, Times of Israel, 20-12- 2013

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Friday to pardon jailed Jewish tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
“He has spent more than 10 years behind bars. It’s a tough punishment,” Putin has sad on Thursday. “He’s citing humanitarian aspects — his mother is ill. A decree to pardon him will be signed shortly.”
Khodorkovsky has spent the last 10 years in prison on charges of tax evasion and embezzlement. His arrest in 2003 and the subsequent prosecution have been widely considered to be Putin’s retribution for Khodorkovsky’s political ambitions.

Who is Khodorkovsky?
At the time of his arrest in October 2003, when special forces stormed his private jet at a Siberian airport, Khodorkovsky was the head of Russia’s largest oil producer. He was believed to be the country’s richest man, with a fortune estimated at $15 billion. He was also a constant thorn in Putin’s side.
Putin had set out to tame the “oligarchs,” the hugely wealthy businessmen who wielded strong political power. He made it clear they could keep their wealth if they agreed to stay out of politics. Most complied, but Khodorkovsky didn’t.
Khodorkovsky was convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to nine years in prison in May 2005. His Yukos oil company was effectively crushed under the weight of a $28 billion back-tax bill. Yukos was sold off, mostly to state oil company Rosneft, allowing the Kremlin to reassert control of the country’s oil business as well as stifle an inconvenient voice.

Before his arrest, Khodorkovsky was not a sympathetic figure to most Russians, who resented how the oligarchs had enriched themselves in the post-Soviet privatization era, when state assets were sold in murky deals for shockingly low amounts.

Flashback 2004: The Oligarchs
Or How the Virgin Became a Whore, By URI AVNERY

The "oligarchs" are a tiny group of entrepreneurs who exploited the disintegration of the Soviet system to loot the treasures of the state and to amass plunder amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars. In order to safeguard the perpetuation of their business, they took control of the state. Six out of the seven are Jews.
In the first years of post-Soviet Russian capitalism they were the bold and nimble ones who knew how to exploit the economic anarchy in order to acquire enormous possessions for a hundredth or a thousandth of their value: oil, natural gas, nickel and other minerals. They used every possible trick, including cheating, bribery and murder. Every one of them had a small private army...
After a period of fighting each other, they decided that it would be more profitable for them to cooperate in order to take over the state... In practice, the oligarchs ruled Russia. One of them, Boris Berezovsky, appointed himself Prime Minister. There was a minor scandal when it became known that he (like most of the oligarchs) had acquired Israeli citizenship, but he gave up his Israeli passport and everything was in order again...
In the end, there was a reaction: Vladimir Putin, the taciturn and tough ex-KGB operative, assumed power, took control of the media, put one of the oligarchs (Mikhail Khodorkovsky) in prison and caused the others to flee (Berezovsky is in England, Vladimir Gusinsky is in Israel, another, Mikhail Chernoy, is assumed to be hiding here.)...

These facts must alarm everybody who cares about democracy--in Israel, Russia, the United States and elsewhere. Oligarchy and democracy are incompatible. As a Russian commentator in the TV series said about the new Russian democracy: "They have turned a virgin into a whore." (CounterPunch, 3-8-2004)

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom.

Eduard Topol, 1998: "How did it happen that almost all the money in this country has ended up in Jewish hands? Are there really no competent Russian financiers? In old [Tsarist] Russia there were some exceptional Russian commercial figures -- Morozov, Tretyakov.."

Boris Abramovich Berezovsky: "You know, of course there are some very competent bankers among the Russians. But this profession requires a second very important factor -- the will power to do the job. Because of our history Jews know how to lose and then get back up on their feet again. This is probably a result of our historical experience. But even the most talented Russians don't have this ability. They can't take the blow, and they're completely out of the game after their first loss. It's regrettable." (Institute for historical review)

Netanyahu delivers hard-line speech at Likud convention
"Anachronistic, lacking in vision, detached from reality"
Mazal Mualem, Al-Monitor, December 19, 2013

As if no agreement had been signed between the world powers and Iran, and with the same old threatening rhetoric, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dedicated a large part of his speech on Dec.18 at the Likud Party convention to the Iranian nuclear program. His bottom line hasn’t changed either: Israel will not accept a nuclear bomb.

This was an anachronistic speech, lacking in vision, and most of all, detached from the international reality created after the signing of the Iranian Geneva deal on Nov. 24.
The significance of the interim agreement is that in the next few months, at least until negotiations over a final agreement, the world powers are giving diplomacy a chance, calming the tone and halting the threats. Only in Netanyahu’s world has time been frozen. Not only on the Iranian front, but also on the Palestinian question. Netanyahu spoke as if US-sponsored negotiations haven’t been taking place in the last few months and declared, with a nod to the extreme right, “We won’t stop building the land for a minute.”

“I know they tell us that the reason there’s no peace is because of the settlements … That’s not correct,” said the prime minister to the convention delegates. “The reason is the continued opposition to the existence of a Jewish nation-state within any borders, and we have the right to a state like any other people. They don’t recognize a Jewish state… I can’t promise that an agreement will be reached, it doesn’t only depend on us.”...

It is as if Netanyahu refuses to recognize the fact that in the near future, the internal and international political realities will close in on him and that he will have to make decisions on the Palestinian issue.
There was not a trace of an effort in his speech to prepare the hearts and minds of the Israeli public for an historic agreement with the Palestinians....

Bloodshed, settlements hike pressure on Mideast talks
Ma'an News, 20/12/2013 09:33

RAMALLAH (AFP) -- The struggling Middle East peace talks have come under further pressure after Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to push more settlement construction. After Israeli troops killed two Palestinians in separate arrest raids in the northern West Bank late Wednesday and early Thursday, outgoing Palestinian negotiator Mohammad Shtayyeh said the "so-called bilateral Palestinian-Israeli negotiations are not going to take us anywhere".
"There is a strong party and there is a weak party, and the Israelis want to dictate rather than negotiate," he told journalists at a dinner in the West Bank. "The Israelis want to replace occupation by force with occupation by an invitation, with our signature, and it will never happen."

In Ramallah, presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina accused Israel of trying to scupper peace talks with the two shootings in Jenin and Qalqilya. "This dangerous Israeli escalation aims to thwart American and international efforts to move forward with the peace process, and leads the negotiations to a dead end," Abu Rudeina said in a statement published by the official WAFA news agency.

Zionism & US Intervention in World Conflicts
By James Petras, Information Clearing House, 21-12-2013

The restoration of direct US imperial interventions, unhindered by Congressional and popular opposition, was gradual in the period 1973-1990. It started to accelerate in the 1990’s and then really took off after September 11, 2001... The ‘objectives’ of these serial wars were defined by their principal Zionist and militarist architects as the following:

(1) destroying regimes and states (as well as their military, police and civil governing bureaucracies) which had opposed Israel’s annexation of Palestine;
(2) deposing regimes which promoted independent nationalist policies, opposing or threatening the Gulf puppet monarchist regimes and supporting anti-imperialist, secular or nationalist-Islamic movements around the world.

For the Zionists embedded in the US Administrations the ultimate goal was to devastate Israel ’s enemies. As a result of the US invasions, the regional power of Israel was greatly enhanced without the loss of a single Israeli soldier or shekel.

The Zionists within the Bush Administration successfully blamed the ensuing problems of the occupation, especially the growing armed resistance, on their ‘militarist’ colleagues and the Pentagon ‘Brass’. ‘Mission Accomplished’, the Bush Administration Zionists left the government, moving on to lucrative careers in the private financial sector...
Under President Obama, a new ‘cast’ of embedded Zionists have emerged to target Iran and prepare the US for a new war on Israel ’s behalf. However, by the end of the first decade of the 21st century, when Barak Obama was elected president, the political, economic and military situation had changed. The contrast in circumstances between the early Bush (Jr.) years and the current administration is striking...

By the second decade of the 21st century [..] the US was bogged down in a prolonged thirteen year war and occupation in Afghanistan with little hope for a stable client regime in Kabul. The seven-year war against Iraq (Second Gulf War) with the massive occupation, armed civilian insurgency and the resurgence of ethno-religious conflict resulted in casualties and a crippling growth in US military expenditures. Budget and trade deficits expanded exponentially while the US share of the world market declined....
The vast majority of the US public has experienced a decline in living standards and now believes the cost of overseas wars are a significant factor contributing to their relative impoverishment and insecurity....
The public sees the Middle East as a region of unending costly wars – with no benefit to the domestic economy. Asia has become the center of trade, growth, investment and a major source of US jobs.
A companion poll of elite policy advisors, members of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), highlights the gap between the US public and the ruling class. The elite are described by the Pew Report as having a ‘decidedly internationalist (imperialist-interventionist) outlook’...

Having gone through costly and disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and fully aware that US intelligence agencies have found no evidence of an Iran nuclear weapons program, the Obama Administration is eager to reach an agreement with Iran...
A major stumbling block to any US-Iran agreement is from the well-entrenched Zionist strategists and advisers among policy-makers, especially in the Executive Branch, including such Department heads and Secretaries as Treasury Undersecretary (for ‘Terrorism’) David Cohen, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, US Trade Representative Michael Froman, ‘Special Adviser for the Persian Gulf’ Dennis Ross among others.
An even greater obstacle to the agreement comes from the Zionist-controlled US Congress, which acts more on behalf of Israel ’s regional ambitions than for US interests....
Washington is desperate to avoid being dragged into another “war for Israel ”, in order to secure its hegemony in the Persian Gulf region and avoid a major domestic political and economic crisis.
The Obama Administration has yet to exhibit the high degree of statesmanship necessary to restrain and neutralize the deeply embedded Zionist Power Configuration, within its ranks and in the Congress, which places Israeli interests over those of the US....

Syria, like Libya, Mali, Central African Republic and Egypt, are of secondary interest for the US.. Obama was clearly not willing to act as ‘Al Qaeda’s Air Force’ by bombing Damascus and facilitating a jihadist takeover. It chose diplomatic solution and accepted the Russian proposal to dismantle Syria ’s chemical weapons. It appears to support a Geneva-based negotiated solution.
Another war, this time with Syria, would inflame US domestic discontent and further erode the economy, with no positive gain for US imperialism. In fact, US military victory over Damascus would expand the territory of operation for Al Qaeda in Iraq and the Levant...

James Petras is a retired professor (emeritus) of sociology at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York and adjunct professor at Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Syria - Aleppo: Terrorist attack on al-Kindi hospital
Syrian Arab News Agency, Dec 22, 2013

Damascus, (SANA)-Minister of Higher Education Malek Ali said on Sunday that the attack on al-Kindi hospital in Aleppo by armed terrorist groups is a condemned act which comes within a series of armed groups’ aggressions on the Syrian state capabilities and infrastructure.
“The attack on al-Kindi university hospital by terrorists, supported by regional, western powers is an attack on humanity as it offers medical, health services to all citizens for free,” the Minister said in a statement to SANA. He added that the cost of the damage caused to the hospital is estimated at 1.5 billion SYP.
“Al-Kindi hospital is one of the educational hospitals affiliated to the Ministry of higher Education, since its establishment in 2003, it has offered thousands of different medical services to the citizens as it was equipped with the up-to-date medical sets,” the Minister said.

Terrorists attacked the hospital with two car bombs causing huge damages to the building and destroying its medical equipment.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Iran should be invited
Press TV, Dec 23, 2013

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says Iran should be invited to the long-awaited international conference aimed at achieving a political solution to the crisis in Syria.
"Iran can play a very important role. It's a very important regional power. Therefore, logically speaking, and practically and realistically, they should be a part of this meeting." Ban said at a news conference at the UN Headquarters in New York on Monday.
Ban further noted that some members of the UN Security Council are however opposed to Iran's participation in Syria peace talks, hoping that the issue is resolved soon. “As I have said before, Iran needs to contribute to peace in Syria along with others in the region,” he pointed out.

UN-Arab League Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi told media on Friday that Iran's participation in the Syria peace conference has not been decided yet due to the US opposition.
The conference is scheduled to be held in Switzerland in two parts. On January 22, the opening session of the event will be in the Swiss city of Montreux, near Geneva, and then it will be moved to the UN office in Geneva on January 24.

UN Investigator Undercuts NYT on Syria
By Robert Parry, consortiumnews, 23-12-2013

Amid last summer’s rush to judgment on the Aug. 21 Sarin attack in Syria, the New York Times joined the stampede blaming the Assad regime by pushing a “vector analysis” showing where the rockets supposedly were launched, but now that certainty has collapsed, reports Robert Parry.

Ake Sellstrom, the head of the United Nations mission investigating chemical weapons use in Syria, agrees that the vector analysis – at the heart of the New York Times’ indictment of the Syrian government for the deadly Aug. 21 Sarin gas attack – doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
In a little-noticed comment at a UN press conference on Dec. 13, Sellstrom disputed claims that the launching point for the two missiles, which were recovered after the Aug. 21 attack, could be traced back following the angles of their final descent until they intersected at a Syrian military base about 9.5 kilometers away.
Instead, Sellstrom said he accepted as accurate other analyses that estimated the range of the rockets at about two kilometers. “Two kilometers could be a fair guess,” he said, noting that the UN team had consulted its own missile experts on the subject. “If you simulate the flight path, it seems not to meet as may be indicated in the report.”
In other words, the lead author of the UN report on the Aug. 21 incident has contradicted the much-touted “vectoring” claims of a New York Times front-page story and Human Rights Watch, which has been pushing for a U.S. military intervention in Syria. Their “vector analysis” of the two flight paths implicated an elite Syrian military unit, the 104th Brigade of the Republican Guard, based northwest of Damascus, near the Presidential Palace....

Sellstrom’s statements further undermine the outward certainty of U.S. officials who have claimed that only the Assad regime could be responsible for the Sarin attack. Sellstrom’s team found some evidence of other Sarin incidents in Syria, suggesting that rebel forces have developed the capability of deploying chemical weapons.

Saudi Arabia has condemned a terrorist attack in Egypt
Foreign meddling in Saudi Arabia rejected
Riyad: Arab News, 26 December 2013

Saudi Arabia has condemned a terrorist attack on a police building in Mansura, Egypt, and reiterated Riyadh’s firm support for the Egyptian people.
“The Kingdom, under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, will wholeheartedly stand by the Egyptian people and there will not be any compromise on that,” the Royal Court said.
Only people without conscience carry out such terrorist attacks, the Royal Court said while denouncing the backers of the terrorists. “We understand that the Egyptian leadership and people will not accept such acts to undermine the country’s security and stability,” it said.

The statement came as Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, emphasized that Saudi Arabia would not accept any foreign interference in its internal affairs.
Prince Salman said Saudi Arabia has a good reputation in the world, being the land of Islam and the two holy mosques. “Saudi Arabia only wants to do good things for people all over the world … but will not accept any interference in its internal affairs,” the crown prince said.
He underscored the Kingdom’s security and stability and unity of its people. “People may do good things for their family, town and tribe but it should not be at the expense of their nation,” he said.

Salman meets with SNC
Al Monitor 18-7-2013

The Saudi crown prince (Born on 31 December 1935) met with the SNC delegation and listened to their demands. But, according to what one coalition member told As-Safir, he provided no answers because the issues raised during the meeting are not for Salman to decide. They require meetings with the Saudi “specialists” who are following up on the Syrian file.
A member of the delegation said that the Saudi crown prince, who listened to Jarba describe the Syrian people’s suffering, did not mention Assad during the meeting and did not criticize the Syrian regime. Salman told the delegation that Saudi Arabia has no special interests in Syria and all what the kingdom wants is to see a secure and stable Syria that is an ally.
When asked about Saudi Arabia’s position regarding one of the proposed settlements to be discussed in Geneva, Salman remained noncommittal.

Egypt formally declares Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group
Russia Today, December 25, 2013

The crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has intensified, with the government formally listing the group as a terrorist organization and accusing it of being behind a recent suicide attack that killed 16 people.
The new categorization gives the government new powers to detain any member of ousted President Mohamed Morsi’s regime by charging them with belonging to a terrorist group. Anyone found to be promoting or financing the group can also be charged.
"All of Egypt…was terrified by the ugly crime that the Muslim Brotherhood group committed by blowing up the building of the Dakahlyia security directorate,” an emailed statement from the interim government’s cabinet office said, according to Reuters. "The cabinet decided to declare the Muslim Brotherhood group a terrorist organization,” the statement continues.

Although the Muslim Brotherhood condemned the attack, the Egyptian government accused the group of being responsible. It also vowed to seek justice for the perpetrators. Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi described the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization in an official statement on Wednesday.
In response to being listed as a terrorist group, the Muslim Brotherhood vowed to continue its protests. "The protests will continue, certainly," Ibrahim Munir, a member of the group's executive council who is in exile in London, told AFP. He called the move “illegitimate" and “an attempt to frame the Brotherhood.”

Journalist Shahira Amin described the situation to RT as a vicious cycle with more bloodshed to come.
“This is a new escalation in a long-running feud between the security state and the Muslim Brotherhood. What they are trying to achieve is to crush the Islamist group altogether and not to leave any room for that group to enter into political life again,” she said. “Declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terror group will mean criminalizing their activities, criminalizing their financing, and also criminalizing their membership. Their protests are already outlawed. Their leaders are already behind bars and thousands of their supporters languish in prisons.”

Grand Mufti Syria: "Invest your knowledge and money in the homeland"
Syria Times, 25 December 2013

Syrian Christians and Muslims have prayed together in the St. Mary's Cathedral (Greek Orthodox Church) in Damascus for peace of the country and for release of the abductees.
The joint prayer, which was held on Wednesday with the participation of several officials, clergymen and dozens of citizens, included Christian hymns in the Syriac language, supplications and two speeches delivered by the Grand Mufti of Syria Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun and Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East John X Yazigi. There were also two large screens in the cathedral to show programs from the local Islamic TV Channel "Nour al-Sham" and the speech given by Pope Francis from Vatican.

Dr. Aysar al-Medani, Chairperson of NOSSTIA (Network of Syrian Scientists, Technologist and Innovators Abroad) and Member of the Group Acting for the Defense of Syria's sovereignty against all interventions in France told us:
"This is the first time I attend a Christmas prayer in Syria from 47 years. This time I decided to stay in Syria because it is a very special year. Our people is suffering from the horrible attack against our values, our people and civilization and against our way of life. We hope that Geneva 2 conference may solve something"
"We refuse discrimination and all kinds of dictations coming from the US and other countries. We are a very proud country and we are a proud people also, and we will defend all these. Our standing resistance for three years shows that we are winners and we will in spite of all dirty instruments they are using against us."

The Network of Syrian Scientists, Technologists and Innovators Abroad (NOSSTIA) is non-governmental organization (NGO) committed to support Syria's public and private sectors in introducing and implementing advanced knowledge, processes and techniques in variety of scientific fields including management....
The main role of the network is to build bridges between Syrian experts living abroad and their motherland, Syria, and to facilitate communication and knowledge exchange in order to contribute to the economic, human and technical development of the country...

Lavrov: West starting to realize they are aiding terrorists
Russia Today, December 26, 2013

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov believes Western politicians have started to realize that overthrowing Assad’s government might lead to a worsening of the Syrian crisis. This shift in the attitude is due to the rise of jihadists in Syria and the threat of the country turning into a caliphate, he said in an interview with RT.

“The attitudes are changing in Western countries, they are becoming more realistic in their approach towards settling the Syrian crisis,” said Lavrov. “The threat of terrorism in Syria, the threat of jihadists coming to power, the threat of creating a caliphate with extremist rules, the threat of violating the rights of minorities, or even depriving them of life, are the main problems.” He also said “understanding that changing the regime is not the way to solve this problem” but a way to “facilitate the arrival of jihadists to power." ...
What worries Sergey Lavrov is that his “Western colleagues are trying to “flirt” with the so-called Islamic front”, which has been struggling for influence with the Free Syrian Army. Lavrov believes the Islamic front could be ideologically close to such Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist groups as Al-Nusra.

Lavrov also said comments from some Western leaders that Assad doesn’t represent anybody in his country were premature. “ A large part of the population is for Assad for various reasons, not just because he enjoys the love of the people, but because big groups of people depend on him, and not only minorities, even the Sunni,” said Lavrov, adding that many are afraid of being deprived of their business should there be a violent change of power.
The minister believes a country is free to choose its own way of democratic development in line with its history and values and based on international law. Lavrov is strongly opposed to attempts by a group of countries to try and impose their own set of “ambiguous values” on others. This is not democracy, but democratizing, which leads to societies growing destabilized, he contended.
“That happened when the Americans invaded Iraq; that happened when NATO, in violation of the UN Security Council mandate, bombed Libya; that is happening in some other countries of the region, where interference from abroad is taking place....”

Iran's President: Common cultures recreation benefits all
Congratulations on the occasion of the 10th World Zoroastrian Congress
Mehr News Agency, 28-12-1013

Praise be to the Lord of Life, God the Wise
A worthier notion shall not arise

I, hereby, express my utmost sincere congratulations on the occasion of the 10th World Zoroastrian Congress, and wish success for all the venerable participants and diligent organizers. Such meetings are sources of pride not only for the followers of Zaratustra, the Great, but also for Iranians and Muslims.
Wherever the Essence of Religion - which is similar for all divine religions - is respected and wherever the intercultural and intra-civilization communalities are recreated, all can benefit.

The Quran invites all "believers" to convene and uphold their Common Beliefs which states not to worship any entity except The One and The Only God, and never anything in parallel with Him, and never get confused by believing in anything else in the place of Almighty God.
Ahura Mazda, the 'Righteous Minded God of the Zoroastrians' who is 'All Knowing' and ‘the Source of all excellence' calls for the entire human beings to observe this.
‘Good Thoughts', ‘Good Words' and ‘Good Deeds' is a great instruction which can lead the human morality and consciousness towards a divine direction.
Not only we, the Iranians, but the entire world is well aware that Zoroastrians, with their belief in the Final Arbitration of the world, and triumph of the Good over evil and the triumph of Truth over falsehood are exemplars of practical morality. They have opted for an ideal moderation between a material and spiritual life....

Today's world, more than ever, is in need of such spiritual and moral resources and coexistence of religions. The human experience and knowledge should be seriously used for the fulfillment of this necessity.
Iran, the birthplace of Zaratushthra the messenger of excellences and benevolence, has been the first Home to the Zoroastrians, and the constant presence of Zoroastrianism in Iran, even besides Islam, has bestowed upon the followers of this divine religion an influential role within the context of Iranian and Islamic culture and civilization.
This long living life philosophy should, today, be recreated and strengthened, and with harmony, collaboration, and coexistence block the path to targeted demonic ideas and efforts which aim to bring the world towards conflict among religions.
Discord, strife, construction of prejudice and inappropriate religious fanaticism, wherever they exist, is a product of satanic policies, and, thus, there is no doubt that the responsibility of the followers of all religions today is heavier than ever.

Dr. Hassan Rouhani,
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Hollande: Assad must go
Arab News, 30 December 2013

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and visiting French President Francois Hollande discussed at length key regional issues, including Syria, Iran and Lebanon, at Khuraim Gardens on Sunday.
Hollande [..] also met with former Lebanese Premier Saad Hariri and Syrian opposition leader Ahmed Jarba in Riyadh.
Renewing his call for an immediate solution to the Syrian crisis, Hollande said there could not be a solution with Assad staying in power. “The participation of the opposition in the proposed peace conference in Switzerland on Jan. 22 is desirable.”
Hollande said: “France and Saudi Arabia share a pledge to work for peace, security and stability in the Middle East.” This pledge is evident from Hollande’s meeting with Hariri, a staunch critic of the Syrian regime.
The meeting is important, as it comes amid heightened tensions in Lebanon following the killing of Hariri’s close aide, ex-minister Mohammad Chatah, on Friday.
“France and Saudi Arabia will extend support to Lebanon,” he added. He said Paris shouldered its way into negotiations with Iran, demanding a better deal and warning that the Tehran government needed “careful monitoring.”

Saad-eddine Rafiq Al-Hariri ( born 18 April 1970) is a Saudi-Lebanese billionaire who served as the Prime Minister of Lebanon from 2009 until 2011. He is the second son of Rafiq Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister who was assassinated in 2005. Hariri was prime minister from 9 November 2009 until the collapse of his cabinet on 12 January 2011 and has also been the leader of the Movement of the Future party since 2005. He is seen as a "weak figurehead" of the March 14 movement.
Hariri holds dual citizenship, Lebanese and Saudi Arabian. On 12 December 2012, Syria issued an arrest warrants against Hariri, Future bloc deputy Okab Sakr and Free Syrian Army official Louay Meqdad in regard to the allegations of arming and providing financial support for Syrian opposition groups. (Wikipedia info)

Flashback: Hariri calls Assad ‘monster,’ rejects warrants
By Hussein Dakroub, The Daily Star, 13-12-2012

BEIRUT: Lebanon and Syria engaged in a judicial war Wednesday with former Prime Minister Saad Hariri calling Syrian President Bashar Assad a “monster,” a day after Damascus issued arrest warrants for him and a member of his Future parliamentary bloc over allegations of arming and funding Syrian rebels...
Hariri scoffed at the Syrian arrest warrants issued against him, Future bloc MP Oqab Saqr and rebel Free Syrian Army official Louay Meqdad.
“It is ironic for a monster to become a human being who advocates justice and issues sentences. Bashar Assad has all the characteristics of a monster,” Hariri said in a statement released by his office.
He added that Syria’s beleaguered president has lost “his moral, humanitarian and political prerogatives” to rule: “He [Assad] is wanted and he will sooner or later stand to face justice [wanted] by the Syrian people...

Commenting on the Syrian arrest warrants, Hezbollah official and Nabatieh MP Mohammad Raad told reporters after meeting former President Emile Lahoud: “This is an internal Syrian affair in which we do not interfere.”
Speaking to reporters after meeting Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, the Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel-Karim Ali said he had appointed Rashad Salameh, a former Kataeb official, to file suit against “anyone who participated, incited, funded and sent arms [to Syrian rebels] and were actual accomplices in shedding the blood of Syrians.”

"My message to the French Parliamentarians is:
go back to the principles of the French Revolution
that the whole world is proud of: Liberty, Justice, Equality.
Bashar al-Assad, 3-9-2012

The French Revolution brought about great changes in the society and government of France. The revolution, which lasted from 1789 to 1799, also had far-reaching effects on the rest of Europe. It introduced democratic ideals to France but did not make the nation a democracy. However, it ended supreme rule by French kings and strengthened the middle class. After the revolution began, no European kings, nobles, or other privileged groups could ever again take their powers for granted or ignore the ideals of liberty and equality....
The new ideas about government challenged France's absolute monarchy. Under this system, the king had almost unlimited authority. He governed by divine right--that is, the monarch's right to rule was thought to come from God. There were checks on the king, but these came mainly from a few groups of aristocrats in the parlements (high courts). (Source)

Egypt urges Arab league members to act against Brotherhood
Al-Arabiya-AFP, Cairo, 30 December 2013

Egypt urged Arab League members Monday to enforce a counter terrorism treaty that would block funding and support for the Muslim Brotherhood after Cairo designated it as “terrorist” group. Cairo also wants the League’s members to hand over wanted Islamists linked to the Brotherhood to which deposed president Mohammad Mursi belongs.
Egypt’s military-installed government listed the Brotherhood as a terrorist group last week, after officials accused the movement of a suicide bombing that killed 15 people in a police station on Tuesday...
Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty said Arab League members that signed the 1998 counter terrorism treaty, should enforce it against the Brotherhood.
“The signatories are responsible for implementing the treaty,” Abdelatty told AFP, adding the members would have to stop financing the group and hand over Brotherhood fugitives to Egypt.

The Arab League said it has notified its members of Egypt’s designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group.