"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)
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. (www.astrologyweekly.com/)
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.
Baghdad (NINA) – The United States Embassy in Iraq expressed concern over the increased tension in Iraq, affirming that it has called on all concerned sides to exercise the policy of retrain and respect the right of peaceful gathering and expression, as well as practice such rights in a responsible way.
In a statement to the press on Saturday, Jan. 12, spokesman for the US Embassy in Iraq [..] stressed the importance of treating all issues brought up during the protests through consultations between Iraq's political leaders to make suitable government and legislative decisions that would benefit all Iraqis.
He demanded all sides to avoid any step that might harm the supremacy of law or would instigate sectarian or racial feud that would ruin all the progress Iraq has achieved...
He affirmed that the United States Embassy and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), continue their consultation with Iraqi leaders, at all levels and all spectrums, urging them to adopt constructive dialogue toward reaching just and practical solution, for the benefit of all Iraqis. He stressed that the task of adopting such dialogue is the responsibility of the Iraqis not the outsiders.
DAMASCUS, (SANA) – In an interview with al-Mayadin TV channel on Saturday, Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister Dr. Fayssal Mikdad said that all sides are invited to participate in national dialogue and that there are no preconditions for participation, but it's very important that participants abandon weapons and come with goon intents.
He stressed that there isn't a premade agenda or restrictions on any of the matters to be discussed in the preliminary stage and that all issues are specified by participants who should find dialogue mechanisms in order to reach a national charter that includes all elements that are agreed upon unanimously.
Mikdad pointed out that there are basic principles that everyone should believe in which are rejecting military intervention in Syria, preserving the unity of Syria's land and people, adopting democratic principles in administration, and respecting human rights, laws and political and media pluralism.
Mikdad pointed out that President Bashar al-Assad is the elected president of Syria and that he's entrusted with the unity of its land and people, which is why he should preside upon the resolution of the crisis and supervise it.
Mikdad said that Syria isn't embarrassed by any initiative; rather others are embarrassed, stressing that dialogue is open to all those who want to end the crisis and bloodshed...
He pointed out that the bets by some sides who interfere in Syria's affairs have reached a dead-end, which is why they're reverting to the political solution proposed by the Syrian government, noting that the Syrian government has always supported the political solution exclusively. ...
Mikdad said that Syria's real friends want to resolve the crisis in it through national dialogue among Syrians without any foreign interference, and that these friends are working to prevent other countries from creating a state of instability in Syria...
The Deputy Foreign Minister said that western countries and their allies gave all they could to terrorists in Syria and held meetings to destroy it and return it to the colonialist era...
Mikdad concluded by hoping that the US administration's policy will be removed from the advice given by former US officials to provide weapons to the opposition, and that the new State Secretary John Kerry will change the destructive Middle East policy...
The sectarian strife in Iraq [..] is making a comeback. Iraqi Sunnis, including major tribes and political parties are demanding equality and the end of their disfranchisement in the relatively new, skewed Iraqi political system under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Massive protests and ongoing strikes have been organized with a unified and clear political message. However, numerous other parties are exploiting the polarization in every way imaginable: to settle old scores, to push the country back to the brink of civil war, to amplify the mayhem underway in various Arab countries, most notably Syria, and in some instances to adjust sectarian boundaries in ways that could create good business opportunities. ... The future of Iraq is currently being determined by various forces and almost none of them are composed of Iraqi nationals with a uniting vision. Caught between bitter sectarianism, extremism, the power-hungry, wealth amassing elites, regional power players, western interests and a very violent war legacy, the Iraqi people are suffering beyond the ability of sheer political analyses or statistics to capture their anguish. The proud nation of impressive human potential and remarkable economic prospects has been torn to shreds.
UK-based Iraqi writer Hussein Al-alak wrote on the upcoming tenth anniversary of the Iraq invasion with a tribute to the country’s ‘silent victims,’ the children. According to Iraqi Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, he reported, there is an estimated 4.5 million children who are now orphans, with a “shocking 70 percent” of them having lost their parents since the 2003 invasion.
“From that total number, around 600,000 children are living on the streets, without either shelter or food to survive,” Al-alak wrote. Those living in the few state-run orphanages “are currently lacking in their most essential needs.”
BAGHDAD: Dr. Ibrahim al-Jaafari, head of the Iraqi National Alliance has arrived in the Saudi capital Riyadh yesterday.
Adnan al-Sarraj, a member of the state of law coalition said that the delegation of the National Alliance went to Saudi Arabia to provide consolation for the death of Amir of Riyadh Sattam bin Abdul Aziz, carrying a message from Iraq that says: "The National Alliance and the Iraqi Shiites want to establish better relations with Saudi Arabia in the future".
He said in a statement: "This visit came after receiving signals from Saudi Arabia that it feels danger of the Qatari role in the region and of the expansion of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab region," indicating that "this visit may unite the views between Iraq and Saudi Arabia on the events in the region."
The Iraqi Shi’a National Alliance is the largest parliamentary bloc — it has 159 members — and is comprised of the National Alliance, the State of Law party led by Nuri Al-Maliki, the Sadrist trend led by Moqtada Al-Sadr, the Islamic Supreme Council led by Ammar Al-Hakim, the Islamic Virtue party led by Mohamed Yaqubi, the Iraqi National Congress led by Ahmed Chalabi, and the National Reform Trend led by Ibrahim Al-Jaafari.
Ibrahim Al-Jaafari joined the Islamic Dawa Party in 1968. Upon graduation from school in 1974 he worked actively for the party in Iraq which was trying to overthrow the Ba'athist secular government. He left for Iran in 1980 and became involved in the movement against Saddam Hussein there as part of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq where he represented the Islamic Dawa Party. He adopted the name al-Jaafari in exile to protect his family in Iraq from retribution by Saddam. He moved to London in 1989 where he became the al-Dawa spokesman in the UK and an important participant in the wider anti-Saddam movement. While in the UK he attended many Iraqi Events giving religious sermons.
He opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq but returned to Iraq soon after. He was picked in July 2003 as member of the U.S.-backed Iraqi Governing Council, and served as its first chairman and Iraq's first post-Saddam interim President for one month. (Wikipedia)
* Strengthen the national feeling and the belonging to Iraq, considering its unity a stable matter and not subject to any bargain, achieving a real and comprehensive national reconciliation.
* Drawing modern bases to combat the political, financial and administrative corruption which is widespread in Iraq and is destroying its ability for building and reconstruction.
* Building a constitutional civil state considering the specialties and the religious freedoms for all religions and sects.
* Making out of the Government ministries and commissions a place of positive participation for all citizens and segments of the Iraqi people; and ensure its national performance and disposal of sectarian, ethnic, partisan, tribal and regional sharing.
* Cancellation of the unfair and arbitrary laws which contradicts with the principles of democracy and human rights and the national interests, including those issued by the authority of the occupation.
* Support of the civil society organizations being the main element in building the democratic civil society.
* Activation of the women rights. Cancellation of discrimination and violence against women and strengthening their human and cultural role; and ensure their full right in the political, social, economic and cultural participation and the adoption of laws to ensure that.
* Adoption of free education and provide whatever is needed for that including modern educational tools like computers and stationery as a right for each student.
* Improvement of the health care for the citizens and building modern hospitals and health centers in proportion to the population and achieve a health insurance system for the citizens.
Baghdad - The Ahrar Bloc affiliated to the Sadrist movement led by Muqtada al-Sadr is one of the biggest players on the Iraqi political stage, with 39 members of parliament and five ministers in the government as part of the Shia Iraqi National Alliance (INA) coalition.
The Sadrist movement has been engaged in the political process since the first post-invasion parliamentary elections in 2005. Sadr himself moved to Iran last year to complete his theological studies at the seminary of Qom, but continues to follow political development in Iraq from his base there.
In an interview with Al-Akhbar, Sadr accused the US of continuing to meddle in Iraqi affairs, despite the withdrawal of most of its troops from the country, with damaging consequences for Iraqi politics.
“The American occupation of the sacred land of Iraq had a big and negative impact on the land and the people. It took lives and plundered resources, and it continues to do so,” he said. “But perhaps the most important of these negative results is the consolidation of the occupation’s influence over the land that tormented it for years. This influence amounts to imposing military and political control and continuing its unacceptable interference with the political parties.”
Sadr charged that a number of Iraqi institutions remain under US control. “There are still many files which it continues to control, as well as some bases and detention centers, in addition to its intelligence and other influence,” he said.
“This interference will prevent Iraq from being independent and making its own regional and international decisions,” Sadr added. “America wants this in order to increase its hegemony and power internally and externally.”
Turning to the crisis in Syria, Sadr called for an end to the killing and to foreign intervention in the conflict. “The avoidance of bloodshed is a duty. There is no gain from or reason for conflict with anyone except Israel and America,” he said.
MOSCOW, (SANA) – Russia condemned the terrorist bombing which hit al-Mazraa neighborhood in Damascus, calling upon all influential countries to demand extremists in Syria immediately stop such terrorist practices.
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Alexander Lukashevich, stressed Moscow's condemnation of this terrorist operation, adding that "Once again, we call upon all countries and parties, which might influence the extremists and radicals, to pressure them and demand immediate stop of such terrorist acts and armed violence in order to create appropriate atmosphere to hold a Syrian dialogue that is based on Geneva statement issued last June, 2010."
Lukashevich noted that the bombing caused damage to the surrounding residential buildings and the Russian Embassy in Damascus, stressing that none of the Embassy staff members or their families were affected in the bombing.
Russia has accused the US of blocking a draft UN Security Council statement condemning the suicide bombings in the Syrian capital, which were among the deadliest in the two years of the armed conflict.
The draft document submitted by Russia was aiming to express condolences to the victims of the Thursday attack on Damascus, which killed at least 53 people and wounded more than 250, and to condemn terrorism in any form.
But the adoption was blocked by the US and its allies, which wanted to add language condemning the Syrian President Bashar Assad, a move that Russia could not accept.
“Unfortunately, such an indispensable reaction by the Security Council to this terrorist attack has been once again blocked by the US delegation linking it with other questions,” the office of, Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s envoy to the UN, said.
“We consider unacceptable this search for justifications for terrorist actions. It is obvious that by doing so the US delegation encourages those who have been repeatedly targeting American interests, including US diplomatic missions,” the statement added.
Diplomatic sources attending a meeting in Cairo this week of Syria's main opposition currents told Ahram Online that opposition factions, that for the past few months have been determined to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad by force, are “losing ground” amid growing support for a political resolution, “both from within the Syrian opposition and from international and regional partners.”
A key factor, according to informed sources working on the Syrian file in several world capitals, is the position of the US. ... "The US has opted now for a political approach, firmly,” said one source.
The source added that another factor that helped Washington decide to favour a political over a military solution for Syria is its fear that the military solution would empower “a radical Sunni regime in Syria". ...
The rise of a radical Sunni regime in Syria is not only feared by the US, increasingly sceptical about its support for political islam in Arab Spring counrties, but also Sunni hardliner Saudi Arabia that is feeling uncomfortable — according to one Saudi diplomat — with the “march of the Muslim Brotherhood to control all of the Arab Mashreq and Arab Gulf.”
Indeed, Saudi Arabia is calling on France to reconsider its role in providing military assistance to Syrian rebels while calling on Turkey to stop the flow of Islamist militants from its borders into Syria. ...
This shift in the Saudi position is well received by Iran, the strongest regional supporter of the Assad regime and a firm opponent of the ascent of a radical Sunni regime in Damascus. ...
This week, Arab League Secretary Nabil El-Arabi, who had earlier announced Assad as "hors-jeu" (offside), said his organisaiton is willing to mediate between the Assad regime and the opposition.
UN-Arab League Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Librahimi said earlier this year that “2013 should be the year for the settlement of the Syrian crisis.”
- The League has as its purpose the strengthening of the relations between the member-states, the coordination of their policies in order to achieve co-operation between them and to safeguard their independence and sovereignty...
- Any resort to force in order to resolve disputes between two or more member-states of the League is prohibited.
- Each member-state shall respect the systems of government established in the other member-states and regard them as exclusive concerns of those states. Each shall pledge to abstain from any action calculated to change stablished systems of government.
Spokesman of Ninevehs' demonstrators Salim al-Jubouri said in an interview for "Shafaq News", that “the demonstrators intend to hold a huge tribal conference today in Ahrar square in the centre of Mosul”.
He added that "the demonstrators renewed their determination to continue the demonstrations after it entered the third month threatened to go to Baghdad if the government didn’t respond to their demands..."
In the same context, Deputy of the head of Nineveh province, Dildar Zebari told "Shafaq News", that "demonstrators need a mediator links between them and the central government and other parties in order to implement the requests." Protests continue in Nineveh and some Iraqi provinces since about two months ago to demand the release of prisoners and cancel accountability and justice law and article 4 of terrorism law.
Iraq has seen a wave of arrests and firings of alleged former Baathists. This started in October 2011 when the Ministry of Higher Education went after members of Tikrit University in Salahaddin. That was quickly followed by a wave of detentions across six of Iraq’s eighteen provinces....
The Baathist clamp down began with the Ministry of Higher Education. Back in July, Higher Education Minister Ali al-Adeeb said that the universities needed to be deBaathified.
He would later claim that was because his predecessor Abdul Dhiyab al-Ugayli of the Iraqi Islamic Party was a Baathist, and had promoted the outlawed party while in office. Based upon that claim, Adeeb fired 140 employees and professors at the University of Tikrit in Salahaddin in October. ...
All together the Higher Education Minister didn’t seem to have much ground to stand on. ... Rather, it seems like Adeeb was following his own agenda.
By early November, the government announced that 655 former Baathists had been picked up. The 2008 Accountability and Justice Law however, only bans the top three levels of Baathists from holding government jobs. It does not say that they can be detained. ... Iraqi law does not allow the arrest of individuals for simply being a former regime member.
The firings at Tikrit University and the subsequent arrests show the thin legal ground that the Iraqi government operates on. ... Adeeb and Maliki look to be the latest example of Shiite politicians manipulating allegations about the Baath Party for their own political gain. This has been the history of deBaathification since its inception in 2003. Iraqi officials have continuously used it to get rid of their opponents...
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been forced to make concessions to Sunni demonstrators and is losing his firm grip on the Accountability and Justice Law, also known as de-Baathification.
Iraqi legislators passed a 2008 law designed to dismantle the Baath Party’s entities in Iraq, bring to justice any members who committed acts of violence against Iraqis and deprive those members of public-sector jobs.
The Maliki government was accused of double standards in implementing of the law. Some alleged that Maliki exempted Baathists who showed allegiance to him. Rafie Rifai, the Mufti of Iraq and a Sunni cleric, says: “Maliki is selective in dealing with the Accountability and Justice Law, because many employees at his office would be affected by this law. However, he is enforcing it on university professors and ordinary people.”
Maliki has denied these accusations on several occasions, and he has tried to distance himself from suspicions that he could abuse his power in applying the law.
Maliki and the ruling Shiite coalition bowed to pressure from the Shiite religious authority in Najaf, which told a delegation representing Maliki that it intends to curb his ambitions and carefully examine “Sunni complaints.”
Meeting Arab cultural figures who are participating in the "National Dialogue for Syria" symposium, Prime Minister Dr. Wael al-Halqi pointed out that the participation of Arab intellectuals is a fraternal and genuine expression of their support to Syria...
The "National Dialogue for Syria" symposium concluded its activities by issuing a number of recommendations and suggestions focusing on the role of Syrian intellectuals.
In its closing statement, the seminar called on all intellectuals to play their role in bolstering moral values, raising awareness in society, and combating extremism and intolerance, stressing the need to involve new intellectual and political figures in dialogue and media forums.
The statement also called for increasing interaction among intellectuals, focusing on scientific research as a national priority and holding seminars for Syrian youths...
In a speech, Culture Minister Dr. Lubana Mashouh said that Syrian intellectuals proved that Syria is alive with its people and their well and love for the homeland, affirming that every problem has a solution and that complex problems require meticulous study of all its aspects.
She said that this seminar is a first step which will be followed by many other steps to work in the right direction.
Intellectuals & The Islamic Golden Age
The Islamic Golden Age is a Abbasid historical period lasting until the Mongol conquest of Baghdad in 1258.
The Islamic Golden Age was inaugurated by the middle of the 8th century by the ascension of the Abbasid Caliphate and the transfer of the capital from Damascus to Baghdad. The Abbasids were influenced by the Qur'anic injunctions and hadith such as "the ink of a scholar is more holy than the blood of a martyr" that stressed the value of knowledge.
During this period the Arab world became an intellectual center for science, philosophy, medicine and education; the Abbasids championed the cause of knowledge and established the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, where both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars sought to translate and gather all the world's knowledge into Arabic.
Many classic works of antiquity that would otherwise have been lost were translated into Arabic and Persian and later in turn translated into Turkish, Hebrew and Latin. During this period the Arab world was a collection of cultures which put together, synthesized and significantly advanced the knowledge gained from the ancient Roman, Chinese, Indian, Persian, Egyptian, Greek, and Byzantine civilizations. (Wikipedia Info)
The GOP senators have their own foreign policy, and it isn’t the same as that of President Obama or Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
For them, the US is a 900 pound behemoth that can boss the world around with its high-tech military at will. Their foreign policy is to shoot first and ask questions later, to cowboy it all alone, to never have regrets and never question American supremacy. They believe in a civilizational hierarchy, with Americans at the top of it, and for some of them ‘Americans’ means white Americans.
They strongly supported the illegal US invasion and occupation of Iraq, and many opposed the 2011 US withdrawal from that country. McCain admitted that some of the pettiness toward Hagel derived from grudges over his break with George W. Bush: “There’s a lot of ill will toward Sen. Hagel because when he was a Republican, he attacked President Bush mercilessly....”
The Senate in general is all for keeping several million Palestinians stateless and without basic civil and human rights, and for allowing the Israelis (many of them Americans or Eastern Europeans) to steal what’s left of Palestinian farmland. In the Senate’s racial hierarchy of power, Americans are on top, Arabs near the bottom, and Palestinians are in the toilet. ...
Their sense of innate superiority makes them unable to look about a broken-down America, its treasury looted of trillions by crooked financiers, its 30,000 significantly wounded Iraq War veterans needing trillions in health care over the next decades, its bridges falling down, its school students illiterate in mathematics and science, its factory jobs shipped abroad by scheming corporations, its minorities increasingly denied the right to vote, and its industry spewing 5 billion metric tons of hothouse gases into the atmosphere annually...
There is enough to do at home, without small men from small states dreaming of world conquest.
The international community must act with unity to achieve a political solution and end the suffering in Syria, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Joint Special Representative of the world organization and the League of Arab States, Lakhdar Brahimi, stressed today during a meeting in Mt. Pelerin, Switzerland.
Both expressed deep frustration at the failure of the international community to act with unity to end to the conflict, and regretted that the Government and the armed opposition forces have become “increasingly reckless with human life,” according to information from Mr. Ban's spokesperson.
During their meeting, Mr. Ban and Mr. Brahimi reaffirmed their conviction that the international community should remain focused on pursuing a political solution to arrive at a peaceful, democratic Syria that protects the right of all of its communities.
The two men also discussed recent statements by the Government and the opposition indicating their willingness to engage in dialogue and said that the UN would welcome and be prepared to facilitate a dialogue between a strong and representative delegation from the opposition and a credible and empowered delegation from the Syrian Government.
At a press conference Prime Minister Ali Zeidan and his Interior Minister Ashur Shuwail gave a detailed round-up of the latest security situation in Libya.
“Regarding general security, I am in constant contact with the GNC, its head Mohamed Magarief and the GNC Committees. We have talked about the various thuwar (militiamen) and armed groups.”
“We have discussed the occupation by armed groups of villas, houses and buildings in Tripoli which they must vacate in the next few days – or we will take action. We will not allow our cities all over Libya to be hijacked. The state must impose its will and I call on the public for their support”.
Interior Minister Shuwail then surprisingly, but frankly, admitted that “hijackings and kidnappings and arbitrary arrests “ by unknown individuals and groups had become a problem and especially over the last three to four days in Tripoli”. Some of these perpetrators have been arrested but he also admitted that there were still some people missing and it was unclear where they were or who had kidnapped them.
Referring to armed militias all over Libya, Shuwail was adamant that “the majority of armed groups wanted to give up their arms and enroll” to official security forces.
Regarding demonstrations and civil disobedience by police, Shuwail added that “the police need discipline.”
DAMASCUS – The Ministerial Committee tasked with following up on the procedures to implement the political program to solve the crisis held a meeting on Sunday chaired by Prime Minister Dr. Wael al-Halqi with Damascus University professors within the framework of paving the ground for launching dialogue to resolve the crisis in Syria.
The Prime Minister said that the government is open to all active forces in society without eliminating or excluding anyone.
He reviewed the procedures made to encourage the dialogue process, pave the ground to make it succeed, provide requirements for decent living for the displaced Syrians to come back home...
In turn, the professors stressed that the priorities are ending violence, speeding up dialogue procedures, and expanding communication channels with opposition groups. The professors called for enhancing the rule of law, equal opportunities, social justice and combating corruption.
The dialogue is about the future of Syria. We are twenty three million Syrians and all of us have the right to participate in shaping the country’s future. Some may look at it as a dialogue between the government and certain groups in the opposition - whether inside or outside, external or internal - actually this is a very shallow way of looking at the dialogue. It is much more comprehensive. It is about every Syrian and about every aspect of Syrian life. Syria’s future cannot be determined simply by who leads it but by the ambitions and aspirations of all its people.
The other aspect of the dialogue is that it opens the door for militants to surrender their weapons and we have granted many amnesties to facilitate this. This is the only way to make a dialogue with those groups. This has already started, even before the plan, and some have surrendered their weapons and they live now their normal life. But this plan makes the whole process more methodical, announced and clear.
If you want to talk about the opposition, there is another misconception in the West. They put all the entities even if they are not homogeneous in one basket – as if everything against the government is opposition. We have to be clear about this. We have opposition that are political entities and we have armed terrorists. We can engage in dialogue with the opposition but we cannot engage in dialogue with terrorists; we fight terrorism.
Another phrase that is often mentioned is the ‘internal opposition inside Syria’ or ‘internal opposition as loyal to the government.’ Opposition groups should be loyal and patriotic to Syria – internal and external opposition is not about the geographic position; it is about their roots, resources and representation.
The British government wants to send military aid to moderate groups in Syria, knowing all too well that such moderate groups do not exist in Syria; we all know that we are now fighting Al-Qaeda or Jabhat al-Nusra which is an offshoot of Al-Qaeda, and other groups of people indoctrinated with extreme ideologies.
When we say that we are fighting Al-Qaeda, we mean that the main terrorist group and the most dangerous is Al-Qaeda. I have stated in many interviews and speeches that this is not the only group in Syria. The spectrum ranges from petty criminals, drugs dealers, groups that are killing and kidnapping just for money to mercenaries and militants; these clearly do not have any political agenda or any ideological motivations.
The so-called “Free Army” is not an entity as the West would like your readers to believe. It is hundreds of small groups – as defined by international bodies working with Annan and Al-Ibrahimi - there is no entity, there is no leadership, there is no hierarchy; it is a group of different gangs working for different reasons. The Free Syrian Army is just the headline, the umbrella that is used to legitimize these groups.
This does not mean that at the beginning of the conflict there was no spontaneous movement; there were people who wanted to make change in Syria and I have acknowledged that publically many times. That’s why I have said the dialogue is not for the conflict itself; the dialogue is for the future of Syria because many of the groups still wanting change are now against the terrorists. They still oppose the government but they do not carry weapons. Having legitimate needs does not make your weapons legitimate.
Why don’t they come to the dialogue? They say that the dialogue will bring the downfall of the President and I am inviting them to the dialogue. Why don’t they then come to the dialogue to bring my downfall? ...
My message to anyone who is talking about the Syrian issue is: only Syrian people can tell the President: stay or leave, come or go. I am just saying this clearly in order not to waste the time of others to know where to focus.
Since day one in this crisis nearly two years ago, we have said we are ready for dialogue; nothing has changed. We have a very consistent position towards the dialogue. ... We are ready to negotiate with anyone including militants who surrender their arms. We are not going to deal with terrorists who are determined to carry weapons, to terrorize people, to kill civilians, to attack public places or private enterprises and destroy the country. ...
Too many innocent civilians have died, too many Syrians are suffering. As I have already said nobody is more pained by this than us Syrians, which is why we are pushing for a national dialogue. I’m not in the blame business, but if you are talking of responsibility, then clearly I have a constitutional responsibility to keep Syria and her people safe from terrorists and radical groups.
The role of Al-Qaeda in Syria is like the role of Al-Qaeda anywhere else in this world; killing, beheading, torturing and preventing children from going to school because as you know Al-Qaeda’s ideologies flourish where there is ignorance. Ideologically, they try to infiltrate the society with their dark, extremist ideologies and they are succeeding. If you want to worry about anything in Syria, it is not the ‘minorities.’ ... We should be worrying about the majority of moderate Syrians who, if we do not fight this extremism, could become the minority – at which point Syria will cease to exist.
If you worry about Syria in that sense, you have to worry about the Middle East because we are the last bastion of secularism in the region.
We have a plan and whoever wants to deal with us, can deal with us through our plan. This is very clear in order not to waste time. Western media [try to] personalize the problem in Syria and they suggest that the entire conflict is about the president and his future. If this argument is correct, then my departure will stop the fighting. Clearly this is absurd and recent precedents in Libya, Yemen and Egypt bear witness to this.
Sunday Times: Some foreign officials have called for you to stand for war crimes at the International Criminal Court as the person ultimately responsible for the army’s actions.
President Assad: Whenever an issue that is related to the UN is raised, you are raising the question of credibility. We all know especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union – for the last twenty years - that the UN and all its organizations are the victims of hegemony instead of being the bastions of justice. ...
Are they going to take the American and the British leaders who attacked Iraq in 2003 and claimed more than half a million lives in Iraq, let alone orphans, handicapped and deformed people? Are they going to take the American, British French and others who went to Libya without a UN resolution last year and claimed again hundreds of lives? They are not going to do it.
The answer is very clear. You know that sending mercenaries to any country is a war crime according Nuremberg principles and according to the London Charter of 1945. Are they going to put Erdogan in front of this court because he sent mercenaries? Are they going to do the same with the Saudis and the Qataris? If we have answers to these questions, then we can talk about peace organizations and about credibility.
Arab states are free to offer military support to rebels fighting the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad if they wish, a final statement of Arab League ministers said on Wednesday (6-3-2013).
Previously the League had stressed that the Syrian opposition and rebels should be supported by humanitarian and diplomatic means. ...
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby told a news conference that the ministers had invited the opposition Syrian National Coalition - an umbrella body for anti-Assad political and rebel groups - to occupy the seat of Syria at the League. This was held by Damascus until it was suspended from the organisation in 2011.
Qatar has led a push against Damascus in the League, which has been resisted by Lebanon, Iraq and Algeria. These three countries refused to endorse the final document's sections on Syria.
Ramadi (NINA) – Protestors in Anbar signaled that they might demand overthrowing the regime unless the government fulfills their demands.
Spokesman for Anbar protestors, Sheikh Sa'eed al-Lafi, told NINA on Wednesday, Mar. 6, "The Protest area has witnessed large pubic support and activities by protestors who demand Iraqiya ministers to resign to pressure the government fulfill their demands."
He added that Maliki's government has lost its legitimacy; it is a government for personal benefits, it does not want any good for the Iraqis.
Lafi went on saying that today is named "Rallying Wednesday" after large number of citizens gathered to take part in the protest and demonstrations; he pointed out that Friday will be called "Friday of Last Chance" being the last chance given to the government to implement the protestors' demands, or they will demand overthrowing the regime.
Allawi: "Put the right man in the right place"
BAGHDAD / NINA / The head of the Iraqiya coalition, Iyad Allawi said: "The elders and notables of Iraq played and still play an important role in strengthening the national unity among the components of the Iraqi people.
Allawi said, during a meeting with a number of elders, notables and intellectuals of Babil province: "the circumstances reguire intensified efforts to achieve civil peace and to put the right man in the right place away from discrimination, exclusion and marginalization. "
In spite of the ratification of the Iraqi constitution and in spite of the articles and points it contains the people are still going through unknown tracks due to the huge gaps this constitution includes as well as the inaccuracy of many of its items.
In general, the people are living in hard economic conditions, cultural deterioration and insecurity…, they are confused about the obstacles they experiences, so nowadays' citizens care about nothing but finding a way to liberate themselves from these circumstances and living freely.
Authorities are overlapped and responsibilities are scattered while the people are confused about what they see, hear and experience.
Who is the honest? Who is the liar? Who cares about the interests of people? Who does not care? Who executes outer agenda? And who works on the best interests of the home? The highest authorities [..] have turned the awaited democracy to a randomization...
If there is not a man who will be ready to bear the responsibility then the people will remain in this unknown fate and situation, looking for a way to get them out of their conditions, put an end to the current chaos and find a starting point hoping to improve their living circumstances.
Baghdad - MP, Ali Shubar, of the Citizen bloc called the Iraqi people to elect the candidates who serve Iraq and not a particular political party.
Speaking to Iraqi News he said “There should be qualified candidates that are able to run the provincial councils in addition to have the ability of being not affected by the tribal, sectarian and national sides,” he added.
“The candidates must have integrity and proficiency to provide the services to the Iraqi people,” he concluded.
Establishment and protection of justice
"He who stands up against injustice, should himself refrain from causing injustice to others, and should remember that speaking of justice will be meaningless if capital is allowed rule beyond its limits or influence the process of decision-making. Political and legal justice remains meaningless without social and economic justice. The fight against the wolves and the corruptors will not succeed, if they have contacts and partners inside the corridors of government and the palaces of the Sultan.
All of this, in order to be achieved, requires the establishment and protection of justice. Authority must have its sward while power must have its own mind, eyes and good conscience."
on the occasion of the 34th anniversay of the 17-30 july revolution
“The corruption is unbelievable,” says Ghassan al-Atiyyah, a political scientist and activist. “You can’t get a job in the army or the government unless you pay; you can’t even get out of prison unless you pay. Maybe a judge sets you free but you must pay for the paperwork, otherwise you stay there. Even if you are free you may be captured by some officer who paid $10,000 to $50,000 for his job and needs to get the money back.” In an Iraqi version of Catch-22 everything is for sale....
Corruption complicates and poisons the daily life of Iraqis, especially those who cannot afford to pay. But the frequent demand for bribes does not in itself cripple the state or the economy. The highly autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government is deemed extremely corrupt, but its economy is booming and its economic management is praised as a model for the country.
More damaging for Iraq is the wholesale theft of public funds. Despite tens of billions of dollars being spent, there is a continuing shortage of electricity and other necessities. ...
There is more to Iraqi corruption than the stealing of oil revenues by a criminalised caste of politicians, parties and officials. Critics of Nouri al-Maliki, Prime Minister since 2006, say his method of political control is to allocate contracts to supporters, wavering friends or opponents whom he wants to win over.
The system cannot be reformed by the government because it would be striking at the very mechanism by which it rules. State institutions for combating corruption have been systematically defanged, marginalised or intimidated. ...
The new elite benefiting from the system lead a mysterious existence, hidden behind the ramparts of the Green Zone or sweeping through the streets of Baghdad in armoured convoys....
There is plenty of money in Baghdad but little conspicuous consumption. Violence is down but fear of kidnapping is real and nobody wants draw attention to themselves by appearing wealthy. ...
Why is the corruption in Iraq so bad? The simple answer that Iraqis give is that “UN sanctions destroyed Iraqi society in the 1990s and the Americans destroyed the Iraqi state after 2003”. Patronage based on party, family or community determines who gets a job.
The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates issued a statement, condemning the decision of the Arab League to recognise the Syrian National Coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian state. "The recognition decision violates the Arab League Charter and legitimises the presence of one party to the conflict despite its involvement in bloody acts at the expense of the Syrian victims," the statement said.
The statement accused the Arab League of "political bias" to regional and international players, referring to Qatar and France, which support military action in the two-year Syrian national conflict.
Last month, Arab League chief Nabil Al-Arabi warned against a "huge humanitarian catastrophe," due to the growing number of killed people, during an Arab ministerial meeting in Cairo.
Al-Arabi announced efforts by the regional organisation to reach a "peaceful solution" to the 23-month civil war through pushing regime and opposition representatives to political dialogue.
"The Arab League's aim is to maintain the social fabric and sovereignty of Syria; President Bashar Al-Assad's regime has to positively respond to popular demands for change and democracy," he added.
The Arab League
Founded on March 19, 1945, the League of Arab States is the oldest existing international organization in the world, predating even the creation of the United Nations by seven months. Beginning with seven countries (Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Transjordan, and Yemen), the League has now grown to include twenty-two Arab nations (though Syria has been suspended since 2011).
The League of Arab States was created to "strengthen the close relations and numerous ties which bind the Arab States" and "direct their efforts toward the goal of the welfare of all Arab States... [and] the guarantee of their future and the realization of their aspirations," and today primarily serves to promote political, economic, cultural, and scientific cooperation among Arab states. (icnl.org)
Medical charity Doctors Without Borders said Thursday that Syria's health system had collapsed after nearly two years of conflict and that foreign aid was falling short of what was needed to address the country's "humanitarian catastrophe".
The group, known by its French initials MSF, said in a report that more than a third of Syria's hospitals were no longer functioning and urged talks on allowing for the provision of humanitarian aid.
"Syria's previously well-functioning health system has collapsed. Food shortages are commonplace, and water and electricity supply are severely disrupted," MSF said.
"Parties involved in the Syrian conflict must negotiate an agreement on humanitarian aid in order to facilitate delivery from neighbouring countries and across front lines," it said.
The group, known for providing medical care in troubled areas around the world, said that medical services had unfortunately become regular victims of the fighting.
"Medical aid is being targeted, hospitals destroyed, and medical personnel captured," said MSF's president, Marie-Pierre Allie.
The visit of four parliamentarians of the main opposition Republican People’s Party [CHP] to Damascus on Thursday and their meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad has exposed an important weakness of the ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP] government.
The Turkish public doesn’t strongly support Ankara’s goal of toppling Bashar Assad and the Baath regime and replacing them with a new rule dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. But this capacity gap Ankara is facing in its Syria policy is not confined only to lack of adequate public approval and support. More crucial is the antagonism and polarization caused in segments of the society and national politics by the Syria policy.
Their antagonism arises from the Alevi-Sunni polarization in Turkey. Although the Alevi minority in Turkey diverges from Arab Alewites in their beliefs and rituals and have indigenous features peculiar to Anatolia, they don’t regard the Syrian regime with sentiments of confrontation and hostility as does the Sunni mainstream Islamic current that prevails in Turkey. Turkish Alevis are majority secularists. When you add their fears of Sunni Islamism, it is inevitable that they feel an affinity to the secularist regime in Syria. And, also to be noted is that the Turkish Alevis heavily vote for the secularist CHP. The same goes for Arab Alewites of Hatay and Mersin regions... The sympathy for the Assad regime openly voiced in these two provinces is a cause of distress for the ruling party circles. ...
[The reaction of Erdogan was:] “Why did the main opposition of this country send its parliamentarian to that brute? What did they achieve there?”
It is possible to understand the anger of the prime minister. At issue is the political support by Turkey’s main opposition party to a regime and its leader that has been demonized by the prime minister of Turkey and his government.
[According to Bashar al-Assad:] "The Syrian crisis has become an existential struggle for Erdogan and Emir of Qatar. If Syria wins, they will lose in their country. There is also an ideological dimension of this affair. They want to see political Islam dominate Syria. We want to preserve secularism."
Assad also said, “Turkey has the most influence on the situation in my country. Most weapons and terrorists come via Turkey. Twenty-five percent of our land border with Turkey is under the control of the PKK, and 75 % of it is under Al Qaeda.”
Tony Blair effectively subcontracted the decision to invade Iraq to former United States president George Bush, according to Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain's ambassador to Washington between 1997 and 2003. He also claims the former prime minister's "black and white" view of the world fuelled mistakes before and during the invasion.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph 10 years after the invasion, he described Mr Blair as "more evangelical than the American Christian Right". ...
He wrote: "With his Manichean, black and white view of the world, Mr Blair was in his way more neo-con than the neo-cons, more evangelical than the American Christian Right. From this flowed Britain's contribution to the mistakes made before and after the Iraq invasion, despite repeated warnings from the Foreign Office and the Washington embassy."
He added: "The failure to plan meticulously for Saddam's aftermath led to almost a decade of violent chaos and the ultimate humiliation of British forces. Mr Blair's unquestioning support for Mr Bush eliminated what should have been salutary British influence over American decision-making."
Stephen Hadley, Mr Bush's deputy national security adviser, said Mr Blair made clear he would support military action at a meeting at the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002,when the two leaders were left alone for long periods.
He told the Sunday Telegraph: "Mr Blair said that if it came to it, then at the end of the day, he would be with us if we had to move militarily against Saddam Hussein".
Sir Christopher said it was still unclear when the "point of no return" was reached but suggested it was after the the infamous meeting... "That weekend Mr Blair, for the first time, gave his public support to regime change."
The US war and invasion of Iraq, ten years ago, was but a continuation of an earlier conquest, which, according to many war hawks, left Iraq under Saddam Hussain crippled but not destroyed. It was the then US secretary of state, James Baker, who reportedly threatened Iraqi foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, in a Geneva meeting in 1991 by saying that the US would destroy Iraq and “bring it back to Stone Age”.
The US war which extended from 1990 to 2011, included a devastating blockade and ended with a brutal invasion. These wars were as unprincipled as they were violent. Apart from their overwhelming human toll, they were placed within a horrid political strategy aimed at exploiting the country’s existing sectarian and other fault lines, thereby triggering civil wars and sectarian hatred from which Iraq is unlikely to recover for many years. ..
When the last US combat brigade had reportedly left Iraq in December 2011, this was meant to be an end of an era. Historians know well that conflicts do not end with a presidential decree or troop deployment. Iraq merely entered a new phase of conflict and the US, Britain and others remain integral to that conflict.
One post-invasion reality is that Iraq was divided into areas of influence based on purely sectarian and ethnic lines. In western media’s classification of winners and losers, Sunnis, blamed for being favoured by Saddam, emerged the biggest losers. While Iraq’s new political elites were divided between Shiite and Kurdish politicians (each party with its own private army, some gathered in Baghdad and others in the autonomous Kurdistan region), the Shiite population was held responsible by various militant groups for the Sunni plight.
The sectarian strife in Iraq, which is responsible for the death of tens of thousands, is making a comeback. Iraqi Sunnis, including major tribes and political parties, are demanding equality and the end of their disfranchisement in the relatively new, skewed Iraqi political system under Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki. Massive protests and ongoing strikes have been organised with a unified and clear political message.
The future of Iraq is currently being determined by various forces and almost none of them are composed of Iraqi nationals with a uniting vision. Caught between bitter sectarianism, extremism, the power-hungry, wealth amassing elites, regional power players, western interests and a very violent war legacy, the Iraqi people are suffering beyond the ability of sheer political analyses or statistics to capture their anguish. The proud nation of impressive human potential and remarkable economic prospects has been torn to shreds. ...
The American war party, led by such infamous luminaries as Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle and others, may have not realised their vision for a new Middle East exactly as they had hoped. However, considering the sadistic war in Syria, a manifestation of that vision has finally prevailed.
A military source who spoke to Ahram Online slammed recent statements by the office of Egypt's prosecutor-general in which the latter gave the green light to members of the public to make citizen's arrests of anyone found committing acts of vandalism.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the move would open the door to the formation of "private militias" and raise the spectre of "civil war."
The military source supported his assertions by pointing to the reaction to the statement by Islamist groups, some of whom quickly announced plans to set up 'popular committees' to replace striking police officers.
"This policy crosses the state's red lines...the armed forces will not accept anything that threatens national security," he said. "Egypt's armed forces don't stand on the side of any political faction, but that's not an excuse for certain groups to begin forming militias," he added.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that plans to arm the Syrian rebels would violate international law, citing Libya, where anti-Gadhafi forces received arms despite an embargo on the country.
“As for the possibility of arming the opposition, as far as i understand, it is not allowed by international law, that's why arming of the opposition directly or indirectly will be the violation of the international law,” Lavrov told journalists at the Press Conference.
Lavrov continued that in Libya, when the UN Security Council imposed an embargo on supplying arms to either side of the conflict, it was broken with arms deliveries continuing openly, from both European and Arab countries and that this was a violation of international law.
On Monday Prime Minster David Cameron said he may break with the EU in May and veto an extension of the EU arms embargo on Syria.
DAMASCUS, (SANA) – Prime Minister, Dr. Wael al-Halqi, stressed the importance of the judiciary institutions staff in achieving social justice, hailing their commitment to the dignity of the state and national stances.
The Prime Minister's comments came during a meeting of the Ministerial Committee which is tasked with implementing the political program for resolving the crisis in Syria with a number of judges and lawyers.
He pointed out to their role in achieving justice and equality among people and in judiciary reform which has taken place recently.
The judges and lawyers presented their views on means of solving the crisis in Syria through setting economic plans for cities and countryside, supporting the public sector, caring for the youths and pursuing Takfiri terrorists.
In a statement after the meeting, Judge Nael Mahfoud, head of the Cessation Court, said the meeting focused on the role of judges in resolving the current crisis and developing jurisdiction, noting that the Supreme Judicial Court took a decision this year on stopping prosecution against any opposition figure who wants to take part in national dialogue.
The way Britain was led into war with Iraq 10 years ago was "wholly irresponsible" and the lack of intelligence on the country a national disgrace, senior military figures have told the Guardian.
"It was absolutely irresponsible to go in without thinking of the consequences", said Lord Guthrie, former chief of defence staff and head of the army. ... Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary at the time, had a "lot to answer for", Guthrie added, referring to the way Rumsfeld, notorious for his "stuff happens" description of widespread looting in Baghdad, allowed Paul Bremer (the US chief administrator) to ban the Ba'ath party and dismantle the Iraqi army. They should have got rid of the top people, Guthrie told the Guardian.
"Why did Bremer squash any sense of the Iraqi people taking any role in their own destiny?" asked Air Chief Marshal Sir Brian Burridge, commander of British forces in Iraq at the time of the invasion. "That defies logic."
General Sir Mike Jackson, head of the army at the time, described Rumsfeld and Bremer as "intellectually bankrupt". With other British defence chiefs, he expected and wanted Iraqi military units, including Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard, to remain in place and help maintain law and order in Iraq after the invasion.
Bremer made things worse by "totally disbanding the Iraqi army and the Ba'ath party, the two instruments of the Iraqi state that could have exercised some control," said Dannatt.
Guthrie, Burridge, Jackson, and Dannatt, drive home the message. As Burridge put it: "One enormous vacuum developed. If you allow vacuums to develop, experience elsewhere taught us that organised crime takes over. In Iraq, it was sectarianism." ...
The question posed by the most senior officials, including Lady Manningham-Buller, then head of MI5, as well as defence chiefs at the time, was: why now? Terrorism, not Saddam Hussein, was the big threat to Britain and British interests, they stressed.
Iraqi Shia and Sunnis have lived in harmony for centuries. Historically, the two sects lived in the same areas, intermarried, worked together and didn't fight over religious beliefs. During the decade of U.S.-imposed sanctions, Iraq's generally secular society became far more religious. This transformation even affected the secular Baathist regime, which gave Islam a bigger role in schools and other aspects of everyday life. Still, there were no social conflicts based on religious differences in the country.
When the United States ousted Saddam Hussein in April 2003, crime spiked and full-scale looting erupted. But there were still no signs of sectarian clashes. That quickly changed, however, as the U.S. administration assumed control over Iraq, led by Paul Bremer.
Bremer, attempting to put an Iraqi face on the occupation, appointed members to the Iraqi Governing Council. Instead of reflecting how Iraqis saw themselves, the council's makeup mirrored and reinforced the U.S. sectarian view of the population -- 13 Shia, five Sunnis, five Kurds, one Christian and one Turkoman.
Instead of bringing political unity, this reflection of Iraq's diversity, when thrust into the political playing field, became the basis of sectarian division in Iraq. The U.S. plan to allocate seats at the political table by ethnic and religious identity turned this political conflict into a more complicated sectarian one. It would have been better to divide power along the spectrum of political beliefs.
In a legitimately meritocratic society governed by the rule of law, it would be reasonable to expect that after presiding over an unmitigated strategic and humanitarian calamity such as the Iraq War neoconservatives such as Bremer would face legal charges or at least devastating career repercussions that would exclude them from taking part in public discourse — but regrettably this has not happened to a great degree.
While it is true that former Bush administration figures such as Donald Rumsfeld, John Yoo and Dick Cheney have been subject to criminal charges in countries around the world from Germany to Malaysia, many of those most prominently associated with the neoconservative movement in America are still making an impact pushing the same policies of aggressive military action and disregard for the rule of law that they were a decade ago.
Figures such as John Bolton, Elliot Cohen and Bremer’s former spokesman, Dan Senor, can still be found in the public sphere peddling the same criminally disastrous political ideology that killed and made refugees out of millions in Iraq while costing the United States trillions of dollars, thousands of soldiers’ lives, and much of its moral and political legitimacy in the Middle East.
The stated refusal of the Obama administration to “look back” at past transgressions has in many ways made possible the repetition of such crimes at a particularly crucial moment as the U.S. crafts a policy to confront an alleged nuclear program in Iran.
In what would seem to be a case of history repeating as farce, the same neoconservative hawks who cynically pushed claims about weapons of mass destruction are publicly singing the exact same tune todayabout Iran and trying to resurrect the same aggressively militaristic ideology.
At 10 years since the launch of 'Operation Iraqi Liberation' there is little evidence that any significant number of people in the United States have a realistic idea of what our government has done to the people of Iraq. .. A majority of Americans believe the war since 2003 has hurt the United States but benefitted Iraq.
As documented by the most scientifically respected measures available, Iraq lost 1.4 million lives as a result of OIL, saw 4.2 million additional people injured, and 4.5 million people become refugees. The 1.4 million dead was 5% of the population. ...
The 2003 invasion included 29,200 air strikes, followed by another 3,900 over the next eight years. The U.S. military targeted civilians, journalists, hospitals, and ambulances It also made use of what some might call “weapons of mass destruction,” using cluster bombs, white phosphorous, depleted uranium, and a new kind of napalm in densely settled urban areas.
Birth defects, cancer rates, and infant mortality are through the roof. Water supplies, sewage treatment plants, hospitals, bridges, and electricity supplies have been devastated, and not repaired. Healthcare and nutrition and education are nothing like they were before the war. And we should remember that healthcare and nutrition had already deteriorated during years of economic warfare waged through the most comprehensive economic sanctions ever imposed in modern history.
Money spent by the United States to “reconstruct” Iraq was always less than 10% of what was being spent adding to the damage, and most of it was never actually put to any useful purpose. At least a third was spent on “security,” while much of the rest was spent on corruption in the U.S. military and its contractors. The educated who might have best helped rebuild Iraq fled the country. Iraq had the best universities in Western Asia in the early 1990s, and now leads in illiteracy, with the population of teachers in Baghdad reduced by 80%.
Syria’s main opposition group elected a naturalized Texan Tuesday as the first prime minister of its planned interim government, hoping to establish administrative authority in areas of northern Syria that have been secured by insurgents fighting President Bashar al-Assad.
After a prolonged day of maneuvering and voting on Monday that lasted into the early-morning hours, representatives of the opposition coalition, meeting in Istanbul, chose Hassan Hitto, 50, who emigrated from Syria many years ago and until recently had lived in Wayne, Texas.
According to his biography, Damascus, Syria-born Hitto received B.S. degrees in computer science and mathematics from Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis in 1989; he received an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University in 1994.
For 11 years, Hitto worked with Inovar, an electronics firm, which he left in 2012 to move to Turkey to join the opposition. ...
Hitto is expected to select other ministers in coming days for a government that is not yet physically in place in northern Syria.
The concept of a rival government run by the opposition inside Syrian territory has faced a mixed reaction in the United States, which has long demanded that Mr. Assad resign and that an independent transitional government acceptable to all sides replace him...
A suicide attack inside Damascus mosque kills Sunni cleric Dr Mohammed al-Bouti, leaving at least 42 dead and 84 wounded.
Dr Mohammed Saeed Ramadan al-Bouti, a longtime supporter of President Bashar al-Assad and Imam of Damascus' historic Ummayyad Mosque, was killed in the explosion in the Iman Mosque in the central Mezzeh district.
Syrian TV said among those killed were Bouti's grandson. Television footage showed wounded people and bodies with severed limbs on the bloodstained floor of the mosque. Ambulances rushed to the scene of the explosion, which was sealed off by the military.
Bouti's death is a major blow to Syria's embattled leader, who is fighting mainly Sunni rebels seeking his overthrow. The cleric, believed to be in his 90s, has been a vocal supporter of his regime since the early days of Assad's father and predecessor, the late President Hafez Assad.
Al Jazeera's Rula Amin, reporting from Beirut, said: "We know that in the past years, he's [Bouti] been a prominent cleric against the Muslim Brotherhood movement, so for the regime, his death is a loss."
Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, president of the opposition National Coalition, condemned the blast, saying he suspected the regime was behind the attack.
Regional leadership of al-Baath Arab Socialist Party condemned the brutal crime in al-Iman mosque in Damascus which claimed the lives of the great scholar and the prayers.
"This massacre adds to the crimes perpetrated by the mercenary terrorists against the Syrians.. they target everything including the mosques and houses of worship," the leadership said in statement. (SANA)
Ikrâh in religion is not allowed
Al-Bouti is of the opinion that Islamist groups do not perform their tasks properly. They do not set a good example for youngsters, have no patience in choosing the long road of da’wa, education and upbringing. They aim gaining power quickly to force (ikrâh) people to accept and apply the norms and values of Islam, while ikrâh in religion is not allowed. (“Ikrâh” means to force someone to do something which they do not want to do) (Zekeriya Budak, Leiden 2011)
The Iraqi branch of al-Qaeda announced its responsibility for a series of bombings and suicide attacks that took place in Baghdad and several areas, causing a casualty of more than 200 Iraqis.
The "Islamic State of Iraq" group said in a statement posted in a jihadists website briefed by "Shafaq News" that "what had happened on Tuesday was the beginning only and the first stage [..] as revenge for those you have killed...”.
The statement threatened to launch more attacks in response to what it described as “continuing to execute the Sunnis in Iraq”.
Iraq has witnessed an increase in violence since the withdrawal of the American troops at the end of 2011 as a lot of people got killed while others injure every month. Iraqis fear for the return of the situation to what it was in days of sectarian fighting in 2006, when hundreds of thousands of people were killed.
Undersecretary of the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, Taher al-Hammoud, said that Syria's participation in the activities of "Baghdad: Arab Capital of Culture" is a source of pride for Iraq due to the historic and fraternal relations between the two countries.
In a statement to SANA upon receiving Syrian Minister of Culture Dr. Lubana Mashouh, al-Hammoud said that Baghdad and Damascus are the symbols of Arab culture as they were capitals of the Islamic and Arab nation for centuries. He welcomed the visit of Mashouh and the accompanying delegation...
In a statement to SANA upon her arrival in Baghdad International Airport, Mashouh said that Damascus and Baghdad represent the heart of Arabism and they're siblings in blood and soul as history proves, adding that Syria today is more committed than ever to relations with Iraq. She lauded the political stances and the political and economic support given by Iraq to Syria.
Baghdad was inaugurated as the 2013 Arab Capital of Culture on Saturday, the latest in a series of steps which officials hope will put Iraq back on the map after decades of conflict.
The ceremony marking the event was held under a massive tent in the Iraqi capital's Zawraa Park, and featured a choir singing songs and a performance by renowned Iraqi musician Naseer Shamma..
"Baghdad, which was a source of knowledge for the entire world, is rising again today thanks to the efforts of Iraqis and their Arab brothers," Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said in a speech.
It is the latest in a series of efforts by Iraq to raise its global profile after three decades of war and sanctions which led to its international isolation, economically as well as culturally.
DOHA - The Syrian opposition officially took Syria's seat at a summit of Arab leaders opened today that is expected to focus on the war in Syria as well as on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Qatar's emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, opened the meeting by demanding an end to the fighting in Syria...
Syria's former opposition leader Moaz Al Khatib is expected to address the Arab League summit "in the name of the Syrian people", despite having resigned as president of the Syrian National Coalition on Sunday.
On Sunday, Mr Khatib stepped down after four months as leader, citing frustration with the international community's response to the crisis. He said "many international and regional actors try to drag the Syrian boat to their side". His resignation came on the same day that the Free Syrian Army, the umbrella group representing a significant number of the rebel factions fighting inside Syria, refused to recognise Ghassan Hitto as interim prime minister.
Mr Hitto, a US-educated Syrian business executive, was appointed by the SNC last week with the task of forming a government to oversee rebel-held areas.
Mr Al Khatib and Mr Hitto had disagreed on the possibility of talks with the Syrian government in Damascus. While Mr Al Khatib had pushed for a political solution with elements of the regime that had not been directly involved in the crackdown, Mr Hitto used his first speech as prime minister to say there would be no negotiations.
DAMASCUS,(SANA)- Ambassador, Youssef Ahmad stressed that replacing a completely sovereign legitimate state with an illegitimate non-viable monstrosity entity by the Arab League is an unprecedented step as it allows all the oppositions in the Arab countries to demand the same specialties of Istanbul Council with its new form.
In an interview with al-Mayadin Satellite Channel, Ahmad said that the goal of this step is to take Syria away from the League's meetings... ; so the League has made itself a part of the Syrian crisis and not a part of the solution.
Ahmad said that the League's call for arming the terrorist groups in Syria is dangerous as it is a brazen violation of the League's charter and its internal system...
WASHINGTON, (SANA) – The New York Times newspaper revealed that With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment.
In a report published on Monday, the newspaper said that the airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, according to air traffic data. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.
And even as the Obama administration has publicly refused to give more than “nonlethal” aid to the rebels, the involvement of the C.I.A. in the arms shipments has shown that the United States is more willing to help its Arab allies support the lethal side of the crisis in Syria.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pressed Iraq on Sunday to do more to halt Iranian flights through its airspace to Syria; he did so even as the most recent military cargo flight from Qatar for the rebels landed at Esenboga early Sunday night.
The newspaper noted that on a string of nights from April 26 through May 4, a Qatari Air Force C-17 — a huge American-made cargo plane — made six landings in Turkey, at Esenboga Airport. By Aug. 8, the Qataris had made 14 more cargo flights. All came from Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, a hub for American military logistics in the Middle East.
DOHA - Syria's (ex-)opposition chief Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib demanded in a fiery address after taking over his country's seat at an Arab League summit on Tuesday that he be allowed to represent Syria at the United Nations.
"We demand ... the seat of Syria at the United Nations and at other international organisations," Khatib said, addressing Arab leaders at the Doha summit.
The U.S. response to the Arab Spring has exacerbated anti-American sentiments in the region, weakened Western allies, and strengthened al-Qaeda, write Musa al-Gharbi and ST McNeil.
In early 2003, Saddam Hussein's regional and international allies were all warning him that an American invasion was imminent. Hussein's reply was basically, "I know Washington's tone is getting aggressive, but they aren't going to try to remove me. I'm the only one in the region who is really taking the fight to the terrorists and fundamentalists. I'm the only one in the region putting real pressure on Iran. Despite our differences, they aren't crazy! There is no way the United States is going to invade Iraq."
Saddam was gravely overestimating America’s sanity. Forty-five months later, he was hanging from the gallows, his Baath regime dismantled, his country in shambles. The carnage and chaos that followed the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq horrified the world.
With the 2008 election of Barack Obama, there was widespread hope that the world would see a new chapter in U.S. foreign policy: troops would leave Afghanistan and Iraq and detainees would leave Guantanamo. No more gunboat liberalism. No more wars fought on false pretenses, driven by delusional ideologues, and contrary to American interests. The death of the nebulous global "war on terror" was nigh.
These hopes were ill-founded – the promised change, ephemeral. Since Obama took office, the war on terror has dramatically expanded. It is a war which continues to be waged at the expense of civil liberties. America continues to drive more people towards extremism than it removes from the field...
The astonishing continuity between the Bush II and Obama administrations is nowhere clearer than America’s disastrous foreign policies related to the Arab Spring...
The Arab Uprisings brought regime change to Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and likely Syria; the United States played a decisive role in all of these "revolutions." And that role was usually to make things worse and more complicated.
The justification for the U.S. invasion of Iraq was to bring democracy to a decades-old dictatorship — and to hold the dictator responsible for his crimes. This was, almost verbatim, the justification used eight years later for regime-change in Libya. Even more, the U.S. deployed the same general tactics: a light footprint strategy kicked off by a "shock and awe" campaign, followed by the establishment of a compliant “transitional” government. As with Iraq, the invaders moved quickly to secure rights over Libya’s oil, forging deals with the government they, themselves, put in place.
As in Iraq, Washington had four basic assumptions: we would be welcomed as liberators; the people would rise up and support Western armor and soldiers; the demonized Arab dictator would quickly fall in the face of our overwhelming power and popular support, and that liberated Libyans would eagerly embrace the new government we installed. As in Iraq, these same four assumptions proved false...
Even after NATO stepped up its military involvement and began arming and training the rebels, allowing the opposition to make advances on the regime, Libyans often refused to support them with food, water, or supplies. And so, as with UNSCR 1441, various NATO allies were forced to overstep UNSCR 1973, thereby violating international law (although who is going to hold them accountable, with the U.S. on their side?).
As unrest spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa, the “calculus” of the U.S. was that Israel could be strengthened and Iran and Hezbollah could be hurt by eliminating the al-Asad Regime in Syria...
Ironically, part of Washington’s hope was that replacing the Syrian regime may help return Iraq to the “America’s column” instead of its current alignment with the “Axis of Resistance.”
As was the case in Egypt, the U.S. had been sowing the seeds of unrest in Syria for years. ... As conflict erupted in Syria, the U.S. attempted to create a shadow government (the Syrian National Council), comprised largely of expatriates, pro-Western ideologues, and Washington insiders, handpicked years before. Due to America’s obvious imprint, both this government and its successor enjoy little credibility with the Syrian people, or with the opposition forces on the ground...
While a good deal of the developments in the region were, of course, beyond U.S. control, America's confused foreign policies are driven by the same myths, ideologies, and failed tactics which defined the Bush II Administration. Maybe G.W. should be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, too.
An Iranian deputy foreign minister has criticized the Qatari government for allowing the Syrian opposition to open an embassy in Doha.
“The people of Syria will never allow others to decide the future of this country,” deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said.
The official said the measure did not have the backing of Syrians, and advised Qatari officials to avoid fueling violence in Syria with such hasty, illogical moves.
The comments come days after the so-called Syrian National Coalition received the green light from Doha to open its first embassy in the Qatari capital. The mission was inaugurated while the original Syrian Embassy in Doha remains closed.
Qatar, along with Saudi Arabia and Turkey, have been widely viewed as the West's main Mideast allies supporting foreign-backed militants who have been fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Picture: Moaz al-Khatib presents a plaque to Qatar's State Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah during the opening of the opposition’s embassy in Doha on March 29, 2013.
Jordan's king Abdullah believes his Western allies are naive about the Brotherhood’s intentions.
“When you go to the State Department and talk about this, they’re like, ‘This is just the liberals talking, this is the monarch saying that the Muslim Brotherhood is deep-rooted and sinister.’?
”Some of his Western interlocutors, he told me, argue that “the only way you can have democracy is through the Muslim Brotherhood.”
His job, he says, is to point out that the Brotherhood is run by “wolves in sheep’s clothing” and wants to impose its retrograde vision of society and its anti-Western politics on the Muslim Middle East. This, he said, is “our major fight”—to prevent the Muslim Brothers from conniving their way into power across the region.
I’ve met Muslim Brotherhood members in Jordan who speak of Abdullah as something of an infidel — in part because his wife keeps her hair uncovered, wears pants, and speaks in public — but the king bridles at the idea that he is not a believer. ... I pray five times a day — but I don’t have to keep telling everybody that I pray five times a day.” ...
“My view of Christians and Jews, because of my father’s teachings and the family teachings — I was always brought up to believe that they are part of the larger family. Does that make sense? I don’t have that extremism.”
Though most of the gulf monarchs remain his allies — because they, too, fear the Muslim Brotherhood — the king’s expansive, moderate understanding of Islam has served to isolate him from the Arab world’s rising rulers.
Tunisia is now ruled by Islamists. In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, a longtime Jordanian ally, has been replaced by Mohamed Morsi, a Brotherhood leader. The king argues that a new, radical alliance is emerging — one that both complements and rivals the Iranian-led Shia crescent. “I see a Muslim Brotherhood crescent developing in Egypt and Turkey,” he told me. “The Arab Spring highlighted a new crescent in the process of development.”
Abdullah is wary of Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, whose Justice and Development Party is, he believes, merely promoting a softer-edged version of Islamism. (“Erdogan once said that democracy for him is a bus ride,” Abdullah reports. “?‘Once I get to my stop, I’m getting off.?”)
He sees Erdogan as a more restrained and more savvy version of Mohamed Morsi, who set back Muslim Brotherhood’s cause in Egypt by making a premature play for absolute power. “Instead of the Turkish model, taking six or seven years — being an Erdogan — Morsi wanted to do it overnight,” the king said.
If the king is wary of Erdogan, he is decidedly unimpressed with Morsi, whom he recently met in Riyadh, the Saudi capital. The two men were discussing the role of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch. “There is no depth there,” Abdullah told me. “I was trying to explain to him how to deal with Hamas, how to get the peace process moving, and he was like, ‘The Israelis will not move.’ I said, ‘Listen, whether the Israelis move or don’t move, it’s how we get Fatah and Hamas” — the two rival Palestinian factions— “together.”
Constrained by morality, disposition, and political reality, the king cannot simply jail or murder the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, but he has done a creditable job of marginalizing them. ...
The king, for his part, is certain that the Muslim Brotherhood wants to see him gone. The GID has told him that the Brotherhood high command in Cairo is actively fomenting unrest in Jordan.
According to multiple sources, the GID claims to have intercepted communications from Brotherhood leaders in Egypt to their Jordanian affiliates, encouraging them to boycott elections and destabilize the country. Abdullah told me that “behind closed doors, the Muslim Brotherhood here wants to overthrow” the government.
“They don’t believe in the constitution of Jordan.” “They won’t swear on the constitution. They will only swear on the constitution of the Muslim Brotherhood. Their allegiance is to the murshid,” the supreme guide, or leader, of the Brotherhood, who is based in Cairo.
Abdullah said that when Brothers win election to parliament, and swear to follow the text of the Jordanian constitution, they get a fatwa — a religious ruling — stating that “you can put your hand on the Koran but what you swear on the Koran is nonbinding” when you’re declaring fealty to a secular document.
Two months after the Arab Spring erupted, the king received the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Jordanian branch in his office. ...
The king said he outlined for the Brotherhood leaders some areas of common interest, and then told them, “I think you’re part of the Jordanian system, and I think you should be part of the process.” ..
Those Brotherhood leaders went to Cairo to ask the supreme guide and other Brotherhood leaders whether they should participate in the king’s newly established national-dialogue committee... “They were in Cairo to see the murshid, and they saw Tahrir Square and the Muslim Brotherhood. We asked, ‘Who are the three names you’re going to put on the national-dialogue committee?’?” No names were ventured. “I think they thought the revolution was going to happen in Jordan, and they didn’t need to be part of the national committee,” the king said. “They thought they’d won. They had decided that they had won.”
The Arab League organization was created at the time when a Zionist state was considered extremely unlikely by most countries but to make sure, an association of Arab states was organized to prevent, at all costs, the rumored project from becoming a reality. The first decision of the newly established League of Arab States was to boycott any European-financed Zionist movement or organization that might assist in the theft of Palestine.
Today unfortunately, and perhaps fatally for the AL, the complete obverse has obtained. In countless ways the Arab League is supporting the occupation of Palestine, while allowing itself to be preempted and shaped into an instrument of Western foreign policy as it plots against its own members. ...
Much as the USA and its allies have corralled and preempted the UN Security Council, its agents have hijacked the League of Arab states and five other regional organizations. ...
Last week in Doha, Qatar, the proceedings amounted to a self-inflicted, perhaps fatal wound for the Arab League when it essentially declared war on one of its founding members, Syria, and replaced it with a Western-funded, staffed, and armed group with not the faintest pretense of abiding by its Charter, including Article VIII, a main pillar of the concept of a League of Arab States:
“Each member-state shall respect the systems of government established in the other member-states and regard them as exclusive concerns of those states. Each shall pledge to abstain from any action calculated to change established systems of government.”
In summary, there is nothing in the Arab League Charter permitting that body to expel or even sanction Syria. In fact, doing so violates the Charter. As seen many times, most recently in Libya, foreign intervention is never humanitarian but rather is always geo-political.
The AL members who voted to expel or sanction Syria are merely channeling the geo-political interests of the United States and Israel, which, ironically, are increasingly being viewed among the Arab pubic as “unofficial members” of the Arab League.
There is no escaping the fact that the result of the decisions made in Doha is that the Arab League has refused a peaceful settlement for Syria and that the AL recognition of the national coalition as the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people contradicts the Geneva Communique and, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointed out this week, makes irrelevant the mission of UN and Arab League mediator for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi. ...
This decision to supply arms to the Syrian opposition not only violates international law, but again in the words of Lavrov, “is a blatant encouragement of confrontation of the irreconcilable forces on both sides to make them fight this war to the bitter end.”
Saturday March 30th was the 37th commemoration of Palestinian Land Day. Palestinians walked the streets of every major Palestinian town denouncing the Israeli occupation, the confiscation of Palestinian land, the building of illegal Israeli colonies, the Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes and demanding freedom, liberation of all occupied Palestine and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
Since the 1948 Zionist Israeli occupation of Palestine the Israeli leaders adopted aggressive policies of evicting Palestinians, razing their towns, confiscating their land, and building Israeli colonies.
Close to one million Palestinians were forcefully ethnically cleansed and evicted from their towns and pushed into the neighboring countries of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.
The Zionist occupier could not, though, cleanse all the Palestinians, and close to 156 thousands of them stayed in their homes to become Israel’s Palestinian problem. Israel granted them Israeli citizenship of the third class [..] and used them as cheap labor. Israel then adopted a policy of gradual land confiscation and the building of Jewish colonies.
On March 30, 1976 the Israeli government announced a plan to confiscate 20,000 dunums of Palestinian land in the Galilee region. Palestinians called for a general strike, taking to the streets en masse in the first Palestinian act of mass resistance inside of Israel. Six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) that day.
Since then, March 30 has marked “Land Day,” a day when Palestinians gather on both sides of the Green Line, and often demonstrate in support of the right to their land and right to return to their original communities—whether that land and those communities happen to be in present-day Israel or the West Bank.
Palestinian Arabs made up 67 percent of the population of pre-1948 Palestine; however, with the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, the ensuing expulsion pushed 780,000 Palestinians to the West, to other Arab countries, or to cities and towns in what is now the West Bank and Gaza. Many West Bank Palestinians trace their roots to cities like Jaffa, Haifa and Akka inside of present-day Israel. However, due to a combination of expulsion and fleeing from fear, many resettled in what is now the West Bank
Question: Mr President, you are welcome on Ulusal TV station. My first question might be a bit strange, but I need to ask it, because in the Turkish and world media there has been a lot of information published to the effect that you were killed or that you have left the country. Can you confirm that you are still alive and still in Syria?
President Assad: Clearly you can see that I am here and very much on the ground - not hiding in an underground bunker. These rumors tend to abound every once in a while to undermine the morale of the Syrian people. I neither live on a Russian warship nor in Iran. I live in Syria in the same place I have always lived.
Question: As you know, in the last meeting of the Arab League, the seat of the Syrian Arab Republic was given to the opposition and the discussion was opened about your legitimacy.
President Assad: Real legitimacy cannot be granted from either international organizations, officials outside your country or from other states. The Syrian People alone have the authority to grant or withdraw legitimacy. If they withdraw it, then you become illegitimate. And similarly if they give you their support, then you are a legitimate president. Everything else is meaningless shenanigans as far as we are concerned.
Question: There are decisions, measures and actions taken against your country by some Arab countries and in the western world. On the other hand, the BRICS countries have taken decisions different from those taken by the Arab countries and the western countries. How do you evaluate the activities, policies and the decisions of the BRICS countries.
President Assad: What you mentioned in your question emphasizes an important point. From the outset, the conflict in Syria was not entirely domestic. There are internal Syrian dynamics at play, but the underlying issues today are more directed towards redrawing the map of the region, and the conflicting interests of the great powers. The creation of the BRICS bloc means that the United States will no longer remain the only global power in the world. ...
The BRICS group does not support President Bashar al-Assad or the Syrian state. It supports stability in this region. Everyone knows that if the unrest in Syria leads to the partitioning of the country or if the terrorist forces take control of Syria, or both of the above, the situation will create a domino effect throughout the Middle East and beyond...
As for some of the Arab or regional leaders which stood against Syria, it is well known that most of these countries are not independent in their political decisions. They act on foreign dictates. Internally, they might support a political solution, but when they are given their orders by the west, they must comply.
Question: Mr President, for the past two years we have witnessed conflict in Syria, armed conflict inside Syria. This conflict is supported on the one hand by the United States, France, Turkey and some Gulf countries. These countries say that the people are fighting your regime, and more than a hundred countries have stated that you should step down. On that background, are you thinking of stepping down and allowing someone else to replace you?
President Assad: I am not bothered by foreign countries being against me; I am a president elected by the Syrian people. We can conclude that for a president to take office or leave office is a National Syrian decision to be taken only by the Syrian people and not by the states which call for that.
Are these states concerned about democracy in Syria or concerned about the blood of the Syrian people? Let’s be candid. If we start with the United States, we find that it has supported the crimes committed by Israel for decades, since Israel was created in our region. The United States committed massacres in Afghanistan and Iraq resulting in millions being killed, wounded or disabled. France and Britain committed massacres in Libya, with support and cover from the United States. The current Turkish government is knee-deep in Syrian blood. Again are these states really concerned about Syrian blood?
Question: You said that what is taking place in Syria is mainly supported from outside, but we are in Damascus and we can hear the sounds of explosions and there is always the sound of shelling at different distances. Why is this happening in Syria?
President Assad: We are surrounded by a group of countries which are helping terrorists enter into Syria. Of course, not all of these countries are doing this intentionally. For instance, Iraq is against allowing terrorists access to Syria, but it has certain circumstances which do not allow it to fully control its borders. In Lebanon, the situation is divided with some parties supporting and others opposing sending terrorists into Syria. Turkey officially harbors these terrorists and sends them into Syria. Some terrorists enter Syria through Jordan and it is not clear whether that is intentional or not. As long as these terrorists continue to be smuggled into the country, we will continue to fight against them...
Question: Mr President, you said that the Turkish government officially and publicly supports the terrorists and provides different kinds of assistance to those terrorist groups... What happened and pushed things to this situation?
President Assad: This man’s mentality is that of the Muslim Brotherhood, and from our experience in Syria with the Muslim Brotherhood for over 30 years, they are a group of opportunists, who use religion for their personal advantage. ...
Even before the crisis, Erdogan was more interested in the Muslim Brotherhood than he was in Syrian-Turkish relations and even more than his interest in Turkey itself.
Question: When we ask Mr. Erdogan about what happened to the Syrian-Turkish relations, he claims that he was honest with President Bashar al-Assad and offered him proposals about reform, but President al-Assad rejected these proposals.
President Assad: Regrettably, Erdogan has never uttered a single truthful word since the crisis in Syria began. None whatsoever and I’m not exaggerating. The proposals he put forward were very general to the effect that the Syrian people should decide who should be president and what type of political system should govern them. I had previously spoken about these proposals in much more depth in many of my addresses. ....
He knows that we supported dialogue; from day one, we announced that we agreed to conduct a dialogue with all Syrian parties. When the first stage, which was often referred to as 'the peaceful stage' failed, they shifted gear and started to support the armed groups.
Question: You said that finding a solution to the Kurdish problem is one of the important issues for the region. Can we hear from your Excellency a broader vision and in detail about how we can solve this issue?
President Assad: We need to be clear, nationalism is different from ethnicity. We live in a mixed region; the fact that you are Turkish doesn’t mean that you can’t be Kurdish or Armenian or Arab in origin with your own culture and language. This is the situation in Turkey as well as in Syria. When I say Arab, it is not necessarily linked to an Arab ethnicity or race. Both nationalisms, Turkish and Arab, exemplify highly civilised and all encompassing nationalistic models that are meant to be inclusive of everybody.
I believe the most beautiful aspect of this region is its diversity and the most dangerous aspect is for us not to see this diversity as enriching and empowering. When we regard it as a weakness, we invite foreign forces to play us against each other and create conflicts.
Question: Mr President, this is a very important issue. Since the beginning of the events in Syria, certain parties and research centers started to talk about a new project involving the separation of northern Syria, northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey and separating these regions from their central states. ... There seems to be a clear plan put forward by western countries in cooperation and coordination with some regional countries to create a greater Kurdistan... Are we moving in the direction of achieving this goal?
President Assad: I don’t believe that the four states in question - Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq - would agree to this proposition. Independent states in today’s world seek integration rather than separation.
Unfortunately our region is an exception which is a sign of backwardness. Today, large countries come together, the BRICS being an example. States seek to come together and form larger blocs because this is a requirement in the age we live in. ....
Every one of these four concerned states should do its utmost to make sure all its people feel that they are first-class citizens with equal stakes in their state. ... When a citizen feels that he is second or third class, he is bound to think of separation or even act against his own state.
Question: You used to have an interesting project, Mr President. You talked about the political and economic unification of the five seas and the countries lying among these seas. Can you please explain that to the Turkish audience?
President Assad: This is what I meant when I said that in this age we need to unify. This doesn’t mean becoming a single state in the same way that old states existed in the past, in large extended empires. ...
I don’t believe that the right conditions exist now for such a project, because there are problems in Syria, in Lebanon, unrest in Iraq, most of which are a result of western intervention... This doesn’t mean that we should cancel this project. If we each remain confined within our national borders, we will be considered small on a global scale.... We cannot be powerful unless we create such strategic trans-border projects.
Question: Mr President, based on your answer to my question, I want to move to another issue which is related to sectarian war. There seems to be a Sunni-Shiite war going on in the region and many people are talking about this. Do you see these conflicts as sectarian by nature?
President Assad: I believe that the essence of the conflict now is not sectarian. The conflict is between forces and states seeking to take their peoples back into historic times, and between states wanting to take their peoples into a prosperous future.
It is a conflict between those who want their homeland and their state to be independent from the west and between those which seek to be satellites of western powers only to achieve their particular interests.
Question: Nevertheless, outside Syria, in some countries, policies of division and fragmentation based on ethnicities and sects are being officially adopted. ... How do you see the future of these political systems?
President Assad: These political systems and establishments which are seeking division and fragmentation are taking us back to life in the Middle Ages. This is very dangerous. ...
When I refer to secularism, I’m speaking about the freedom of religions and religious practices. Our region is primarily conservative, most people are religious and they should have the freedom to practice their religious rituals.
We shouldn’t think for a moment that there is contradiction between ethnicities and religions. This is the essence of our thinking about secularism. This is why we should always aim to unify the people in our region.
Question: Concerning dialogue with the opposition. You called for a political solution and for direct dialogue with the opposition. Are there red lines for this dialogue?
President Assad: The red lines are foreign intervention. Any dialogue should be a Syrian dialogue only. No foreign intervention is allowed in this dialogue. Other than this, there are no red lines. Syrian citizens can discuss anything they want, because Syria is the homeland for all Syrians and they can discuss anything they want. There are no red lines.
Question: In the framework of a sectarian conflict, there are claims which appear on TV stations and some other media outlets to the effect that Syria is ruled by a dictatorial Alawite regime whose only objective is to eliminate the Sunna; and even the assassination of Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Bouti comes within this effort. What is your response to such claims?
President Assad: We have been living together in this country for hundreds of years; and the government has always reflected the diversity of the people and their participation in its affairs.
As for the late Dr al-Bouti, it is ridiculous to accuse the Syrian government of his assassination. This accusation has been made by the same groups who were accusing him, only days and weeks before, of being the mouthpiece of the authorities on religious affairs.
In fact, he was not a mouthpiece for the authorities as they describe him. He never sought any kind of authority; he never wanted to be a minister or a mufti; he never asked for any money; he used to live a simple life. His only fault was that he was at the forefront of a group of religious leaders who stood decisively in the face of the plot to create sectarian strife amongst Syrians.
That is why they assassinated Dr al-Bouti, as well as other religious leaders, one as recently as a few days ago in Aleppo. Everybody who spoke about true religion, about tolerance and moderation in religion was targeted from the beginning of the crisis...
Prominent political opposition figures and economic experts weighed in on Egypt's economic future at a Sunday conference organised by the opposition Popular Current movement in Cairo.
Speakers at the conference called for a larger government role in economic planning and activity and for abandoning Egypt's 'neo-liberal' agenda.
Former supply and domestic trade minister Gouda Abdel-Khaleq lamented what he sees as the absence of change in government thinking regarding the economy since the revolution.
"We are still hearing about the free market economy, which is the enemy of social justice," said Abdel-Khaleq. "This is not the economic system we want for Egypt."
The lifelong leftist stressed that Egypt's economic crisis was tied to the prevailing state of political polarisation. "Political consensus is the only way to salvage the economy," he said. "It's impossible for one political faction to impose its policies on the rest."
Nadia Ramsis, professor of political economy at the American University in Cairo, proposed a 'post-neoliberal' economic programme – based on the experiences of certain South American nations – as Egypt's best way forward...
In the short term, she advocates the instatement of a minimum and maximum wage, protectionist customs on imported goods (especially textiles) and a renewed emphasis on consumer protection.
In the long term, she said, the state should preserve and support the public sector, direct private-sector investments, promote national exports, invest in building a technology industry, and focus on improving healthcare and education.
Economic expert Ahmed El-Sayed El-Naggar qualified the current government's economic policies as "clandestine."
"Its policies, like those of the previous regime, are dictated by foreign creditor nations and institutions and their conditions, rather than being based on national interests and our national resources," he said.
As the Sadrists announced their rejection of whatever kind of Baathists’ return to governmental work, the government said that they already approved – with all other ministers - Baathist’s return to state’s jobs. Fadhil Mohammed Jawad, a senior legal adviser to the Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki told “Shafaq News”, that “all ministers attended the special session and voted without any pressure on the proposed amendment of accountability and justice law”.
The Justice and Accountability Law targets prominent members of the Baath Party and prohibited them from occupying government positions, a step that made tens of thousands of them lose their jobs; their properties were confiscated as well.
Iraq’s Council of Ministers held an urgent session on April 7 in which an amendment to the legislation was approved that allows Baathists to return to the jobs they occupied during the former regime or to refer them to retirement. “A senior Baathist – if highly professionalized - will be allowed to take over any government position if it comes on the best interest of the people” the Deputy Prime Minister, Saleh al-Mutlaq said while explaining the recent amendment made to AJ code.
The head of the Sadrist bloc in the parliament, Bahaa al-Araji said in a press conference held today in the Conference Center in Baghdad that his bloc will reject AJL.
PM’s advisor expressed his astonishment over Shia-bloc announcement “I am surprised by the Sadrist bloc position taking into consideration their ministers already ratified these amendments,” Jawad said.
The Sadrist Movement is an Iraqi Islamist national movement led by Muqtada al-Sadr. The movement draws wide support from across Iraqi society and especially from the Shi'a poor in the country. The most important person in setting the goals and the philosophy of the movement was Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr. A prominent preceding influence had also been Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr. The movement is religious and populist. Its goal is a society ordered by a combination of religious laws and tribal customs. (Wikipedia)
Al-Qaeda in Iraq confirmed long-held suspicions that Al-Nusra Front, a jihadist group fighting in Syria, is part of its network...
"It is time to declare to the Levant and to the world that the Al-Nusra Front is simply a branch of the Islamic State of Iraq," ISI's chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi said in an audio message. The groups would be combined and called the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, Baghdadi said, describing Al-Nusra front leader Abu Mohammed al-Jawlani as "one of our soldiers".
The joint group would be willing to ally with other organisations "on the condition that the country and its citizens be governed according to the rules dictated by Allah," he added.
His declaration came a day after an Al-Nusra-style suicide car bomb attack in the heart of the Syrian capital Damascus killed at least 15 people and wounded 146 others. It also came after Al-Qaeda's global chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri, urged rebels to fight to establish an Islamic state in Syria (Sunday april7).
"Let your fight be in the name of Allah and with the aim of establishing Allah's sharia (law) as the ruling system," said Zawahiri. "Do all that you can so that your holy war yields a jihadist Islamic state."
Al-Nusra Front is among the most prominent organisations involved in Syria's conflict...
In December the United States announced it was labelling Al-Nusra Front a "terrorist" organisation because of suspected ties to Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
According to the US, the head of Al-Qaeda in Iraq "is in control of both AQI and Al-Nusra" and reports on Internet forums used by jihadists indicate hundreds of militants have made the trip from Iraq into Syria to fight Assad's regime.
The formal announcement of the ties could complicate the West's ongoing involvement with rebel forces battling Assad's regime.