The double suicide bombing targeting the Iranian embassy in Beirut – with at least 23 people killed and 170 wounded – was a de facto terror attack happening on 11/19. Numerology-wise, naturally 9/11 comes to mind; and so the case of the Washington-declared war on terror metastasizing – largely conducted by oozy forms of Saudi “intelligence”.
Yet don’t expect the “West” to condemn this as terror. Look at the headlines; it’s all normalized as “blasts” – as if children were playing with firecrackers.
Whether carried out by a hazy al-Qaeda-linked brigade or by Saudi spy chief Bandar bin Sultan’s (aka Bandar Bush’s) goons, the Beirut terror attack is essentially configured as a major, Saudi-enabled provocation. The larger Saudi agenda in Syria implies getting both Hezbollah and Iran to be pinned down inside Lebanon as well. If that happens, Israel also wins. Once again, here’s another graphic illustration of the Likudnik House of Saud in action.
Nuance also applies. Bandar Bush’s strategy, coordinated with jihadis, was to virtually beg for Hezbollah to fight inside Syria. When Hezbollah obliged, with only a few hundred fighters, the jihadis scurried away from the battlefield to implement plan B: blowing up innocent women and children in the streets of Lebanon.
While Hezbollah welcomes the fight, wherever it takes place, Tehran’s position is more cautious. It does not want to go all out against the Saudis – at least for now, with the crucial nuclear negotiation on the table in Geneva, and (still) the possibility of a Geneva II regarding Syria. Yet the House of Saud is not welcoming Geneva II anytime soon because it has absolutely nothing to propose except regime change.
On Syria, the main pillar of Bandar Bush’s strategy is to turn the previously “Free” Syrian Army into a “national army” of 30,000 or so fully weaponized hardcore fighters – mostly supplied by the “Army of Islam”, which is nothing but a cipher for the al-Qaedesque Jabhat al-Nusra. King Playstation of Jordan, also known as Abdullah, collaborates as the provider of training camps near the Syrian border. Whatever happens, one thing is certain; expect Bandar Bush’s goons to be carrying out more suicide bombings on both Lebanon and Syria.
The Zionist/Wahhabi/Salafi axis
The dodgy al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades in theory exist since 2005, placing the odd bomb here and there. One sheikh Sijareddin Zreikat tweeted responsibility for the Beirut terror attack. Curioser and curioser, the claim was “discovered” and translated into English by the Israeli disinformation website SITE. 
Yet another Israeli intelligence disinformation site, DEBKAfile, claimed the terror attack was an Iran/Hezbollah false flag, based on a “Saudi warning” reaching “Western intelligence agencies, including Israel”.  The rationale, according to “Saudi intelligence”, was “to convince Hezbollah fighters consigned against their will to the Syrian battlefield”.
This does not even qualify as pathetic. Hezbollah is basically defending the Lebanese-Syrian border, and has only a few hundred fighters inside Syria. Moreover, no string of suicide bombings will deter Hezbollah and Tehran from regaining control of what really matters in the Syrian strategic context; the Qalamoun area.
Qalamoun, ringed by mountains, is a 50-kilometer stretch bordering the Bekaa valley in Lebanon, between Damascus and al-Nabk, and right on the absolutely critical Damascus-Homs corridor of the M5 highway. The Syrian army is on the offensive in Qalamoun. Recapturing the whole area is just a matter of time. This means controlling the northern approach to Damascus. Hezbollah is helping in the offensive out of Bekaa valley. This does not mean they will camp out in Syria afterwards.
Now for the false flag accusation. As far as real false flags are concerned, one just has to re-examine three recent international bombings that supposed victimized Israel. In India the bomb had no projectiles; it barely injured an Israeli attache. In Azerbaijan the bomb was miraculously “discovered” before it went off. And in Thailand, the bomb exploded too soon, injuring only a nearby Iranian.
Crass Israeli disinformation is unmasked when it leaps into this conclusion:
If Tehran is capable of such atrocities merely as a diversionary tactic, then perhaps Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin ought to take a really hard look at their negotiating partner across the table before signing a major deal Wednesday, Nov. 20, which leaves Iran’s nuclear program in place.
So this neatly ties up with the current Israeli hysteria about the Geneva negotiations, which also includes the umpteenth report by a News Corporation outfit, London’s Sunday Times, that Saudi Arabia will help Israel to attack Iran. 
It also ties up with the proverbial US shills spinning, gloating rather, that, “strategically, this de-facto Israeli alliance with the Saudis is an extraordinary opportunity for Israel”. 
Even such shills have to admit that the House of Saud is “blocking formation of any government in Lebanon, for example, to obstruct Iran’s ally, Hezbollah”. “Blocking” of course is a euphemism to normalize suicide bombing.
And then comes the ultimate wishful thinking disguised as “analysis”; Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu “bidding to replace the United States as military protector of the status quo”. Translation; the Likudniks dreaming of becoming the new military Mob boss of petrodollar Wahhabis.
Bandar Bush’s strategy – weaponizing and providing cover to Salafis, jihadis and every patsy or mercenary in between – will go on unabated. After Bandar Bush convinced Washington to get rid of the Muslim Brotherhood-friendly Qataris, the Saudis are the supreme warfare go-to channel. The Bandar Bush machine has ties with virtually every jihadi outfit in the Levant.
It certainly helps that Bandar has the perfect cover; the fact that he knows and has cajoled every significant player in Washington. In the US, Bandar Bush remains a dashing hero, even eliciting fawning comparisons with Gatsby.  Right. And my name is actually Daisy.
Even with its own embassy attacked in Lebanon, Iran is maintaining an extremely calibrated approach. The number-one priority is the nuclear negotiations in Geneva with the partner that really matters, the US. This explains Iran blaming the Beirut terror attack on the proverbial “Zionists”, and not Saudi-enabled jihadis posing as “rebels” and part of the whole Bandar Bush nebula.
For the moment though, enough of Orwellian newspeak. What happened in Beirut was a terror attack, cheered by Israel, and fully enabled by Saudis; a graphic display by the Likudnik-House of Saud axis.
1. Al-Qaida-linked group claims responsibility for deadly Beirut attack, Ha’aretz, November 19, 2013.
2. Incredible! Beirut bombings killing 25 people were self-inflicted by Iran and Hizballah as a diversionary tactic, DEBKAfile, November 19, 2013.
3. Israel, Saudi Arabia Unite For Attack On Iran, RT, November 17, ’13.
4. The stakes of an Iranian deal, Washington Post, November 15, 2013.
5. Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia’s Gatsby, Master Spy, The Daily Beast, November 16, 2013.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at email@example.com.
Source: Asia Times
“Pro-Israel Policy groups such as AIPAC work with unlimited funding to divert US policy in the region ( Middle East )” Jack Straw, Member of Parliament and former Foreign Secretary of the British Labor Party
“The United States should drop a nuclear bomb on Iran to spur the country to end its nuclear program” Sheldon Adelson, biggest donor to the Republican Party and major fundraiser for pro-Israel political action committees, speech at Yeshiva University, New York City, October 22, 2013.
The question of war or peace with Iran rests with the policies adopted by the White House and the US Congress. The peace overtures by newly elected Iranian President Rohani have resonated favorably around the world, except with Israel and its Zionist acolytes in North America and Europe . The first negotiating session proceeded without recrimination and resulted in an optimistic assessment by both sides. Precisely because of the initial favorable response among the participants, the Israeli government escalated its propaganda war against Iran . Its agents in the US Congress, the mass media and in the Executive branch moved to undermine the peace process. What is at stake is Israel’s capacity to wage proxy wars using the US military and its NATO allies against any government challenging Israeli military supremacy in the Middle East, its violent annexation of Palestinian territory and its ability to attack any adversary with impunity.
To understand what is at stake in the current peace negotiations one must envision the consequences of failure: Under Israeli pressure, the US announced that its ‘military option’ could be activated – resulting in missile strikes and a bombing campaign against 76 million Iranians in order to destroy their government and economy. Teheran could retaliate against such aggression by targeting US military bases in the region and Gulf oil installations resulting in a global crisis. This is what Israel wants.
We will begin by examining the context of Israel ’s military supremacy in the Middle East . We will then proceed to analyze Israel ’s incredible power over the US political process and how it shapes the negotiation process today, with special emphasis on Zionist power in the US Congress.
The Context of Israeli Military Supremacy in the Middle East
Since the end of World War II , Israel has bombed, invaded and occupied more countries in the Middle East and Africa than previous colonial power, except the US . The list of Israel ’s victims includes: Palestine , Syria , Lebanon , Egypt , Iraq , Jordan , Sudan and Yemen . If we include countries where Israel has launched quasi-clandestine terrorist attacks and assassinations, the list would be greatly expanded to include a dozen countries in Europe and Asia – including the US through its Zionist terror network.
Israel ’s projection of military power, its capacity for waging offensive wars at will, is matched by its near-total impunity. Despite their repeated violations of international law, including war crimes, Israel has never been censored at an international tribunal or subjected to economic sanctions because the US government uses its position to veto UN Security Council resolutions and pressure its NATO-EU allies.
Israel’s military supremacy has less to do with the native techno-industrial ‘brilliance’ of its war-mongers and more to do with the transfers and outright theft of nuclear, chemical and biological technology and weapons from the US (Grant Smith “Ten Explosive US Government Secrets of Israel” IRMEP). Overseas Zionists in the US and France have played a strategic (and treasonous) role in stealing and illegally shipping nuclear technology and weapon components to Israel, according to an investigation by former CIA Director Richard Helms.
Israel maintains huge nuclear, chemical, and biological weapon stockpiles refusing any access to international arms inspectors and is not obliged to abide by the non-proliferation treaty, because of US diplomatic intervention. Under pressure from the local ‘Zionist power configuration’ (ZPC), the US government has blocked any action which might constrain Israel ’s production of weapons of mass destruction. In fact the US continues to provide Israel with strategic weapons of mass destruction for use against its neighbors – in violation of international law.
US military aid and technology transfers to Israel exceed $100 billion dollars over the past half century. US diplomatic and military intervention was crucial in rescuing Israel from defeat during the 1973 war. US President Lyndon Johnson’s refusal to defend the unarmed intelligence ship, the USS Liberty in 1967, after it had been bombed and napalmed by Israeli fighter planes and warships in international waters, constituted a tremendous victory for Israel thanks to Johnson’s Zionist advisers. Because of its impunity, even in killing American servicemen, Israel has been given a free hand to wage aggressive wars to dominate its neighbors, commit acts of terrorism and assassinate its adversaries throughout the world without fear of retaliation.
Israel ’s uncontested military superiority has converted several of its neighbors to quasi-client collaborators: Egypt and Jordan have served as de facto allies, along with the Gulf monarchies, helping Israel repress the region’s nationalist and pro-Palestinian movements.
The most decisive factor in the rise and consolidation of Israel ’s power in the Middle East has not been its military prowess but its political reach and influence via its Zionist agents in the US . Washington ’s wars against Iraq and Libya , and its current support of the mercenary assault against Syria , have destroyed three major secular nationalist opponents of Israel ’s hegemonic ambitions.
As Israel accumulates more power in the region, expanding its colonization of Palestinian territory, it looks eastward toward destroying the last remaining obstacle to its colonial policies: Iran .
For at least two decades, Israel has directed its overseas agents – (the ZPC) – to destroy the government of Iran by destabilizing its society, assassinating its scientists, bombing its military establishments and laboratories and strangling its economy.
After the ZPC successfully pushed the US into war against Iraq in 2003 – literally shredding its complex secular society and killing over a million Iraqis – it turned its sights on destroying Lebanon (Hezbollah) and the secular government of Syria as a way to isolate Iran and prepare for an attack. While thousands of Lebanese civilians were slaughtered in 2006, Israel ’s attack of Lebanon failed, despite the support of the US government and the ZPC’s wild propaganda campaign. Hysterical at its failure and to ‘compensate’ for its defeat at the hands of Hezbollah and to ‘boost morale’, Israel invaded and destroyed much of Gaza (2008/9) – the world’s largest open air prison camp.
Lacking military capacity to attack Iran on its own, Israel directed its agents to manipulate the US government to start a war with Teheran. The militarist leaders in Tel Aviv have unleashed their political assets (ZPC) throughout the US to work to destroy Iran – the last formidable adversary to Israel supremacy in the Middle East .
The Israeli-ZPC strategy is designed to set the stage for a US confrontation with Iran , using its agents in the Executive branch as well as its ongoing corruption, bribery and control of the US Congress. ZPC control over the mass media enhances its propaganda campaign: Everyday the New York Times and the Washington Post publish articles and editorials promoting Israel ’s war agenda. The ZPC uses the US State Department to force other NATO states to likewise confront Iran .
Israel’s Proxy War with Iran: US Political Pressure, Economic Sanctions and Military Threats
Alone, Israel’s ‘war’ with Iran would not amount to much more than its cyber sabotage, the periodical assassinations of Iranian scientists using its paid agents among Iranian terrorist groups and non-stop brow-beating from Israeli politicians and their ‘amen crowd’. Outside of Israel , this campaign has had little impact on public opinion. Israel’s ‘was’ on Iran depends exclusively on its capacity to manipulate US policy using its local agents and groups who dominate the US Congress and through the appointments of officials in key positions in the Departments of Treasury, Commerce, and Justice , and as Middle East ‘advisors’. Israel cannot organize an effective sanction campaign against Iran ; nor could it influence any major power to abide by such a campaign. Only the US has that power. Israel ’s dominance in the Middle East comes entirely from its capacity to mobilize its proxies in the United States who are assigned the task of securing total submission to Israel ’s interests from elected and appointed government officials – especially in regard to Israel ’s regional adversaries.
Strategically placed, ‘dual US-Israeli citizens’ have used their US citizenship to secure high security positions in the Government directly involved in policies affecting Israel . As Israelis, their activities are in line with the dictates of Tel Aviv. In the Bush administration (2001-2008) high placed ‘Israel Firsters’ dominated the Pentagon (Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith), Middle East Security (Martin Indyk, Dennis Ross), the Vice President’s office (‘Scooter’ Libby), Treasury (Levey) and Homeland Security (Michael Chertoff). In the Obama administration the ‘Israel Firsters’ include Dennis Ross, Rahm Emanuel, David Cohen, Secretary of Treasury Jack “Jake the Snake” Lew, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Michael Froman as Trade Representative among others.
Israel ’s Proxy Power within the Executive branch is matched by its dominance of the US Congress. Contrary to some critics, Israel is neither an ‘ally’ or ‘client’ of the US . Evidence of the gross asymmetry of the relation abounds over the past half century. Because of these powerful proxies in Congress and the Executive branch, Israel has received over $100 billion dollar tribute from the US over the past 30 years, or $3 billion plus a year. The US Pentagon has transferred the most up-to-date military technology and engaged in several wars on Israel ’s behalf. The US Treasury has imposed sanctions against potentially lucrative trading and investment partners in the Middle East ( Iran , Iraq and Syria ) depriving US agricultural and manufacturing exporters and oil companies of over $500 billion in revenues. The White House sacrificed the lives of over 4,400 US soldiers in the Iraq War – a war promoted by Israel ’s proxies at the behest of Israel ’s leaders. The State Department has rejected friendly and profitable relations with over 1.5 billion Muslims by backing the illegal settlement of over half million Jewish colonists on military-occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and Jerusalem .
The strategic question is how and why this one-sided relation between the US and Israel persists for so long, even as it goes counter to so many strategic and elite US interests? The more immediate and pressing question is how this historically lopsided relation effects contemporary US-Iran sanctions and nuclear negotiations?
Iran and the Peace Negotiations
Undoubtedly the newly elected Iranian President and his Foreign Minister are prepared to negotiate an end to hostilities with the US by making major concessions ensuring the peaceful use of nuclear energy. They have stated they are open to reducing or even ending the production of highly enriched uranium; reducing the number of centrifuges and even allowing intrusive, unannounced inspections, among other promising proposals. The Iranian government proposes a roadmap with end goals as part of the initial agreements. The European Union’s Foreign Secretary Lady Ashton has commented favorably on the initial meeting.
The US Administration has given conflicting signals following the Iranian overtures and the opening meeting. Some individual comments are guardedly positive; others are less encouraging and rigid. Administration Zionists like Jack ‘Jake’ Lew, the Treasury Secretary, insists sanctions will remain until Iran meets all US (read ‘Israeli’) demands. The US Congress, bought and controlled by the ZPC, rejects the promising Iranian overtures and flexibility, insisting on military ‘options’ or the total dismantling of Iran’s legal and peaceful nuclear program – ZPC positions designed to sabotage the negotiations. To that end, Congress has passed new, more extreme, economic sanctions to strangle the Iran ’s oil economy.
How Israel’s Political Action Committees Control the US Congress and Prepare War with Iran
The Zionist Power Configuration uses its financial firepower to dictate Congressional policy on the Middle East and to ensure that the US Congress and Senate do not stray one iota from serving Israel ’s interests. The Zionist instrument used in the purchase of elected officials in the US is the political action committee (PAC).
Thanks to a 2010 US Supreme Court decision, Super PACs-linked to Israel spend enormous sums to elect or destroy candidates – depending on the candidate’s political work on behalf of Israel . As long as these funds do not go directly to the candidate, these Super PACs do not have to reveal how much they spend or how it is spent. Conservative estimates of ZPC- linked direct and indirect funds to US legislators run close to $100 million dollars over the past 30-year. The ZPC channels these funds to legislative leaders and members of Congressional committees dealing with foreign policy, especially sub-committee chairpersons dealing with the Middle East . Unsurprisingly, the largest Congressional recipients of ZPC money are those who have aggressively promoted Israel ’s hard-line policies. Elsewhere around the world, such large scale payoffs for legislative votes would be considered blatant bribery and subject to felony prosecution and imprisonment for both parties. In the US , the purchase and sale of a politician’s vote is called ‘lobbying’ and is legal and open. The legislative branch of the US government has come to resemble a high-price brothel or white slavers’ auction – but with the lives of thousands at stake.
The ZPC has purchased the alliance of US Congress people and Senators on a massive scale: Of 435 members of the US House of Representatives (sic), 219 have received payments from the ZPC in exchange for their votes on behalf of the state of Israel . Corruption is even more rampant among the 100 US Senators, 94 of whom have accepted pro-Israel PAC and Super PAC money for their loyalty to Israel . The ZPC showers money on both Republicans and Democrats, thus securing incredible (in this era of Congressional deadlock), near unanimous (‘bipartisan’) votes in favor of the ‘Jewish State’, including its war crimes, like the bombing of Gaza and Lebanon as well as the annual $3 billion dollar plus US tax-payer tribute to Tel Aviv. At least 50 US Senators have each collected between $100 thousand and $1 million in ZPC money over the past decades . In exchange, they have voted for over $100 billion in tribute payments to Israel … in addition to other ‘services and payments’. The members of the US Congress are cheaper: 25 legislators have received between $238,000 and $50,000, while the rest got peanuts. Regardless of the amount, the net result is the same: Congressional member pick up their script from their Zionist mentors in the PACs, Super PACs and AIPAC and back all of Israel ’s wars in the Middle East and promote US aggression on behalf of Israel .
The most outspoken and influential legislators get the biggest chunk of Zionist payola: Senator Mark Kirk (Bombs over Teheran!) tops the ‘pigs at the trough’ list with $925,000 in ZPC payoffs, followed by John McCain (Bombs over Damascus!) with $771,000, while Senators Mitch McConnell, Carl Levin, Robert Menendez, Richard Durban and other Zionophilic politicos are not shy about holding out their little begging bowls when the pro-Israel PAC bagmen arrive! Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen tops the ‘House’ list with $238,000 for her 100% pro-Israel record as well as for being more war-mongering than even Netanyahu! Eric Cantor got $209,000 for championing ‘wars for Israel ’ with American lives while cutting Social Security payments to US seniors in order to increase military aid to Tel Aviv. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, got $144,000 for ‘whipping the few wobbly’ Democrats back into Israel ’s ‘camp’. House Majority Leader John Boehner was paid $130,000 to do the same among the Republicans.
The ZPC has spent huge amounts to punish and destroy a dozen or so dissident legislators who had stood up to Israel ’s wars and grotesque human rights record. The ZPC has poured millions into individual campaigns, not only financing opposition candidates who pledged allegiance to the Israel but mounting scurrilous character assassinations of Israel’s critics in office. These campaigns have been mounted in the most obscure parts of the US , including in majority African-American districts, where local Zionist interests and influence are otherwise absolutely nil.
There are no comparable PACs, Super PACs, party leaders, or civic organization that can contest the power of Israel ’s Fifth Column. According to documents archived by the courageous researcher, Grant Smith of IRMEP, when it comes to Israel , the US Justice Department has adamantly refused to enforce its own federal laws requiring the prosecution of US citizens who fail to register as foreign agents while working for a foreign country – at least since 1963. On the other hand, the ZPC, through the so-call ‘Anti-Defamation League’, has successfully pressured the Justice Department, the FBI and NSA to investigate and prosecute law-abiding, patriotic US citizens critical of Israel ’s land grabs in Palestine and the Zionist corruptors of the US political system on behalf of their foreign master.
The corruption and degradation of US democracy is made possible by the equally compromised and corrupted ‘respectable press’. Media critic, Steve Lendman, has pointed out the direct link between Israel and the mass media in his investigation of the New York Times. The leading (‘fair and balanced’) journalists reporting on Israel have strong family and political ties to that country and their articles have been little more than propaganda. Times reporter Ethan Bronner, whose son served in the Israel Defense Forces, is a long-time apologist for the Zionist state. Times reporter Isabel Kershner, whose ‘writing’ seem to come straight out of the Israeli Foreign Office, is married to Hirsh Goodman an adviser to the Netanyahu regime on ‘security affairs’. The Times bureau chief in Jerusalem, Jodi Rudoren, lives comfortably in the ancestral home of a Palestinian family dispossessed from that ancient city.
The Times unflinching pro-Israel posture provides a political cover and justification for the corrupted US politicians as they beat the war drums for Israel . It is no surprise that the New York Times, like the Washington Post, is deeply engaged in disparaging and denouncing the current US-Iran negotiations – and providing ample space for the one-sided rhetoric of Israeli politicians and their US mouthpieces, while studiously excluding the more rational, pro-rapprochement voices of experienced former US diplomats, war-weary military leaders and representatives of the US business and academic communities.
To understand Congress’ hostility to the nuclear negotiations with Iran and their efforts to scuttle them through the imposition of ridiculous new sanctions, it is important to get to the source of the problem, namely the statements of key Israeli politicians, who set the line of march for their US proxies.
In late October, 2013, Former Israeli Defense Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin spoke of ‘having to choose between ‘the bomb’ or the bombing’ – a message which immediately resonated with the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations (Daily Alert, October 24, 2013). On October 22, 2013, Israel ’s Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, called for harsh new sanctions on Iran and insisted that the US use them as leverage to demand that Iran agree to entirely abandon its peaceful nuclear energy and enrichment program. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon affirmed that ‘ Israel will not accept any deal that allows Iran to enrich uranium’. It is Israel ’s position to threaten war (via the US ) if Iran does not submit to unconditional surrender of its nuclear program. This defines the position of all the major pro-Israel PACs, Super PACs and AIPAC. They in turn proceed to dictate policy to their ‘lick-spittles’ in the US Congress. As a result, Congress passes even more extreme economic sanctions on Iran in order to sabotage the ongoing negotiations.
Those who have received the biggest Zionist pay-offs from the pro-Israel PACs are the most vociferous: Senator Mark Kirk ($925,379), author of a previous sanctions bill, demands that Iran end its entire nuclear and ballistic missile program (!) and declared that the US Senate “should immediately move forward with a new round of economic sanctions targeting all remaining Iranian government revenue and reserves” (Financial Times, 10/18/13, p. 6). The US House of Representatives (sic) has already passed a bill sharply limiting Iran ’s ability to sell its main export, oil. Once again, the Israel- ZPC – Congressional axis seeks to impose Israel ’s war agenda on the American people! In late October 2013, Secretary of State Kerry was ‘grilled’ for 7 hours by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu with the craven Kerry promising to promote Israel ’s agenda on dismantling Iran ’s nuclear enrichment program.
To counter the campaign to strangle Iran ’s oil economy, promoted by Israel ’s flunkeys in the Congress, the Iranian government has offered generous contracts to the US and EU oil companies (Financial Times 10/29/2013, p 1). Existing nationalist provisions are being removed. Under the new terms, foreign companies book reserves or take equity stakes in Iranian projects. Iran hopes to attract at least $100 billion dollars in investments over the next three years. This stable country boasts the world’s largest gas and the fourth largest oil reserves. Because of the current US ( Israel )-imposed sanctions, production has fallen from 3.5 million barrels per day in 2011 to 2.58 million barrels per day in 2013. The question is whether ‘Big Oil’, the giant US and EU companies have to power to challenge the ZPC-stranglehold over US-EU sanction policy. So far, the ZPC has dominated this critical policy and marginalized ‘Big Oil’ using threats, blackmail and coercion against US policymakers. This has effectively shut out US companies from the lucrative Iranian market.
As the US and the 5 other countries attempt to negotiate with Iran , they face enormous obstacles overcoming Israel ’s power over the US Congress. Over past decades Israel ’s agents have bought the loyalties of the vast majority of Congress people, training them to recognize and obey the whistles, signals and script from the war mongers in Tel Aviv.
This ‘Axis of War’, has inflicted enormous damage on the world resulting in the deaths of millions of victims of US wars in the Middle East, Southwest Asia and North Africa . The gross corruption and widely recognized bankruptcy of the US legislative system is due to its slavish submission to a foreign power. What remains in Washington is a debased vassal state despised by its own citizens. If the ZPC controlled Congress succeeds once again in destroying the negotiations between the US and Iran via new war-like resolutions, we, the American people, will have to pay an enormous price in lives and treasure.
The time to act is now. It is time to stand up and expose the role played by the Israeli PACs, Super PACs and the 52 Major American Jewish Organization in corrupting Congress and turning “our” elected representatives into flunkeys for Israel’s wars. There has been a deafening silence from our noted critics –few alternative media critics have attacked Israel ’s power over the US Congress. The evidence is openly available, the crimes are undeniable. The American people need real political leaders with the courage to root out the corrupted and corruptors and force their elected members in the House and Senate to represent the interest of the American people.
American Bombing Still Likely…
Damascus – At the height of the war scare here in early September, a group 9 primarily Sunni, Christian, and Alawite students and activists, led by a charismatic and agnostic pro-Hezbollah Lebanese Shia woman from Hermel in Lebanon’s North Bekaa Valley, set up a Human Shields and Observers camp to protect the Syrian TV channels, radio and communication towers situated at the crest of Mount Qasioun which rises up 1,151 meters (3,776 ft) at its crest. The small community has the air of a sit-in as well as a teach-in. Within a few days, their numbers exceeded 200, and at weeks end the “Ala agsadona” (“over our dead bodies”), website was hosting thousands of visitors every day.
“We are prepared to take the first cruise missile with our bare chests,” explained one young man, an architecture student at Syrian University, a relatively expensive private institution which offers majors in French, English, German, Italian and other western languages.
Mount Qasioun, transliterated from Jabal Qāsiyūn, is the high mountain that overlooks Damascus from the north, and many assume its communication towers would be among the first targets of American cruise missiles. Normally a popular tourist spot for hiking and rock climbing, the area is cherished by Syrians as a place of beauty and peace, where one can get away from life’s pressures and enjoy the mountain’s cool temperatures. Here one may also dine at a range of glass-fronted restaurants from which the whole city may be viewed in panorama—and as Damascus has expanded over the years, some districts have even been established on the foot of the mountain. Perhaps as a sign of the times, these days Qaisoun is also honeycombed with Syrian armed forces.
The special connection of Mount Qasioun and the people of Syria is perpetuated by oral and written histories signifying what the Mountain has meant to this region since prehistory. On the slopes of Jabal Qasiun, just above the “Ala agsadona” camp, is a cave, which, it is said, the first man, Adam, inhabited for a period. Historians have recorded a variety of stories about Ibrāhīm (Abraham), and ‘Īsā (Jesus) also having sheltered and prayed in it. Medieval Arab history books speak additionally of it as the site where Qābīl (Cain) killed Hābīl (Abel). Moreover, it has been known for hundreds of years as a place where prayers would immediately be accepted by God, and in Syrian history when a calamity threatened the people, and especially in times of drought, rulers of Damascus would climb to the cave and pray for safety and often for rainfall.
During these days of slaughter and the threats of US-led western bombing, the camp has come to symbolize Syrian resistance to foreign hegemony and occupation.
Sitting below “Adams cave,” not far from the camp, this observer listened as some of these students and activists, many of whom have taken to sleeping on foam mattresses in or alongside tents, explained for me their involvement in the Human Shield project and their objectives. One is Alaa, a United States social history buff, who, to my great enjoyment, sang a resistance song she is writing, asking me my opinion. The song is adapted from the Afro-American spiritual classic, written by John Wesley Work, Jr. in the mid-19th century, with just a few changes to the lyrics:
“Go Tell It on the Mountain, From the Peaks of Qasioun and Everywhere;
Go Shout It out from Adam’s Cave– Where Syria’s Blessed Resistance Was Born!”
Some of the most active and inspirational youngsters up at “Ala agsadona” camp are in their “adolescent” 60’s and 70’s. Many of them have lost loved ones during this God-awful continuing crisis. The camp is on high alert 24/7 given the threats against its dwellers from foreigner jihadist groups—given also that the mountain was targeted by mortars, as well as bombed by Israel, last spring. Several army check points minutely screen all traffic heading up its slopes. But despite the various threats, the attitude and general esprit inside “Ala agsadona” is one of resistance, pride and patriotism, not exclusively for the current regime, but intensely focused on Syria—its ten thousand-year history as the cradle of civilization and culture, as well as its centuries as the region’s superpower.
Ogarit Dandask, whose idea it was to establish the camp, explained: “We will protect our land with our bodies, for we prefer dying in dignity than living under any occupation. We call on all the Syrians to join us, because it’s our country that is being threatened, not the regime or any specific person.”
After hearing of preparations for large numbers of Americans and other foreigners to come to Syria to serve as human shields and international observers in solidarity with the Syrian people, Ms. Dandask made an appeal to “all the free people in the world, all those who believe that people have the right to decide their own future,” to join this grass roots campaign. Many Syrians have offered to open their homes to foreign supporters of Syria, who likely would be camped at key potential bombing sites.
Asked if the current pause in Obama Administration bombing plans would lead them to break camp, the response has been that the participants will remain vigilant, prepared to resume their full numbers, and to man their posts should the threats of immediate bombing re-surface. A majority of the Quisoun “minute-men and women”, reflecting the Syrian population’s general view, believe that the current pause is just that. And that American bombing is still likely.
Yet as appears to be the case across Syria, there is a palpable sense of relief, even some limited euphoria at the moment, along with hope and optimism, that the United Nations, Russia, Iran, the USA, and Syria can settle this crisis that has destroyed such a great part of Syria and brought widespread death and destruction to so very many of her families.
Bloomberg.com published a few days ago a summary of current Jewish Lobby pro war activity.
Here are some of the highlights:
“For our credibility, we have to do something,” said Morris Amitay, founder of the pro-Israel Washington Political Action Committee.
“The pro-Israel community contributed $14.5 million to federal campaigns for the 2012 elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That’s more than the $11.1 million in donations by the defense aerospace industry, one of the biggest and most consistent political contributors.”
“While most of the Jewish groups’ donations lean Democratic, (Jewish Republican Billionaire ) Sheldon Adelson alone transformed the 2012 Republican primary when he and his wife used $15 million in private funds to sustain the unsuccessful candidacy of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and then poured $53 million into groups advancing Republican nominee Mitt Romney. In all, Adelson and his wife donated $93 million to Republican causes in the 2012 campaign, center data shows.”
“The Republican Jewish Coalition, which counts Adelson as a board member, yesterday sent an ‘action alert’ to its 45,000 members, directing them to tell Congress to authorize force. “This is not a partisan issue,” the coalition said in its message.”
“The National Jewish Democratic Council, today added its voice to a chorus of U.S.-based Jewish groups urging military intervention. Others include AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.”
“Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said the group decided to act before the Jewish high holidays, when rabbis will likely speak on Syria. Rosh Hashanah begins tonight.”
“Jewish groups said their concern was that a failure to take action against Syria would send lessons to other countries, most notably Iran, that they could act with impunity.”
“This is a critical moment when America must also send a forceful message of resolve to Iran and Hezbollah,” AIPAC said in its statement.
The ”responsibility to protect” (R2P) doctrine invoked to legitimize the 2011 war on Libya has just transmogrified into ”responsibility to attack” (R2A) Syria. Just because the Obama administration says so.
On Sunday, the White House said it had ”very little doubt” that the Bashar al-Assad government used chemical weapons against its own citizens. On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry ramped it up to ”undeniable” – and accused Assad of ”moral obscenity”.
So when the US bombed Fallujah with white phosphorus in late 2004 it was just taking the moral high ground. And when the US helped Saddam Hussein to gas Iranians in 1988 it was also taking the moral high ground.
The Obama administration has ruled that Assad allowed UN chemical weapons inspectors into Syria, and to celebrate their arrival unleashed a chemical weapons attack mostly against women and children only 15 kilometers away from the inspectors’ hotel. If you don’t believe it, you subscribe to a conspiracy theory.
Evidence? Who cares about evidence? Assad’s offer of access for the inspectors came ”too late”. Anyway, the UN team is only mandated to determine whether chemical weapons were deployed – but not by who, according to UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman.
As far as the Obama administration and UK Prime Minister David ”of Arabia” Cameron are concerned – supported by a barrage of corporate media missiles – that’s irrelevant; Obama’s ”red line” has been crossed by Assad, period. Washington and London are in no-holds-barred mode to dismiss any facts contradicting the decision. Newspeak – of the R2A kind – rules. If this all looks like Iraq 2.0 that’s because it is. Time to fix the facts around the policy – all over again. Time for weapons of mass deception – all over again.
The Saudi-Israeli axis of fun
The window of opportunity for war is now. Assad’s forces were winning from Qusayr to Homs; pounding ”rebel” remnants out of the periphery of Damascus; deploying around Der’ah to counterpunch CIA-trained ”rebels” with advanced weapons crossing the Syrian-Jordanian border; and organizing a push to expel ”rebels” and jihadis from suburbs of Aleppo.
Now, Israel and Saudi Arabia are oh so excited because they are getting exactly what they dream just by good ol’ Wag the Dog methods. Tel Aviv has even telegraphed how it wants it: this Monday, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper headlined with ”On the Way to Attack” and even printed the ideal Order of Battle. (see photo)
Months ago, even AMAN, the Intelligence Directorate of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) concluded that Assad was not a fool to cross Obama’s chemical weapon ”red line”. So they came up with the concept of ”two entwined red lines”, the second line being the Syrian government ”losing control of its chemical weapons depots and production sites”. AMAN then proposed different strategies to Washington, from a no-fly zone to actually seizing the weapons (implying a ground attack).
It’s now back to the number one option – air strikes on the chemical weapons depots. As if the US – and Israel – had up-to-the-minute intelligence on exactly where they are.
The House of Saud had also telegraphed its wishes – after Prince Bandar bin Sultan, aka Bandar Bush, was appointed by King Abdullah as head of Saudi General Intelligence. Abdullah’s hard on is explained by his mother and two of his wives coming from an influential, ultra-conservative Sunni tribe in Syria. As for Bandar Bush, he has more longevity than Rambo or the Terminator; he’s back in the same role he played in the 1980s Afghan jihad, when he was the go-to guy helping the CIA to weaponize president president Ronald Reagan’s ”freedom fighters”.
Jordan – a fiction of a country totally dependent on the Saudis – was easily manipulated into becoming a ”secret” war operation center. And who’s in charge? No less than Bandar’s younger half-brother, and deputy national security adviser, Salman bin Sultan, also known as ”mini-Bandar”. Talk about an Arab version of Dr Evil and Mini Me.
Still, there are more CIA assets than Saudis in the Jordanian front.
The importance of this report cannot be overstated enough. It was initially leaked to Lebanon’s Al-Safir newspaper. Here’s Bandar’s whole strategy, unveiled in his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, already reported by Asia Times Online. After trying – for four hours – to convince Putin to drop Syria, Bandar is adamant: ”There is no escape from the military option.”
Mix Kosovo with Libya and voila!
Former president Bill Clinton resurfaced with perfect timing to compare Obama’s options in Syria to Reagan’s jihad in Afghanistan. Bubba was right in terms of positioning Bandar’s role. But he must have inhaled something if he was thinking in terms of consequences – which include everything from the Taliban to that mythical entity, ”al-Qaeda”. Well, at least al-Qaeda is already active in Syria; they don’t need to invent it.
As for that bunch of amateurs surrounding Obama – including R2P groupies such as Susan Rice and new Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, all of them liberal hawks – they are all suckers for Kosovo. Kosovo – with a Libya add-on – is being spun as the ideal model for Syria; R2P via (illegal) air strikes. Right on cue, the New York Times is already frantically parroting the idea.
Facts are, of course, absent from the narrative – including the blowing up of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade (a remix in Syria with the Russian embassy?) and getting to the brink of a war with Russia.
Syria has nothing to do with the Balkans. This is a civil war. Arguably the bulk of the Syrian urban population, not the country bumpkins, support Damascus – based on despicable ”rebel” behavior in places they control; and the absolute majority wants a political solution, as in the now near-totally torpedoed Geneva II conference.
The Jordanian scheme – inundating southern Syria with heavily weaponized mercenaries – is a remix of what the CIA and the Saudis did to AfPak; and the only winner will be Jabhat al-Nusra jihadis. As for the Israeli solution for Obama – indiscriminate bombing of chemical weapons depots – it will certainly result in horrendous collateral damage, as in R2A killing even more civilians.
The prospects remain grim. Damn another coalition of the willing; Washington already has the British and French poodles in the bag, and full support – in air-con safety – from the democratic Gulf Cooperation Council petro-monarchies, minion Jordan and nuclear power Israel. This is what passes for ”international community” in the newspeak age.
The Brits are already heavily spinning that no UN Security Council resolution is needed; who cares if we do Iraq 2.0? For the War Party, the fact that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said Syrian ”rebels” could not promote US interests seems to be irrelevant.
Washington already has what it takes for the Holy Tomahawks to start flying; 384 of them are already positioned in the Eastern Mediterranean. B-1 bombers can be deployed from Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. And bunker-busting bombs will certainly be part of the picture.
What happens next requires concentric crystal balls – from Tomahawks to a barrage of air strikes to Special Ops commandos on the ground to a sustained air campaign lasting months. In his long interview to Izvestia, Assad gives the impression he thinks Obama is bluffing.
What’s certain is that Syria won’t be a ”piece of cake” like Libya; even depleted on all fronts, Gaddafi resisted for eight long months after NATO started its humanitarian bombing. Syria has a weary but still strong army of 200,000; loads of Soviet and Russian weapons; very good antiaircraft systems; and full support from asymmetrical warfare experts Iran and Hezbollah. Not to mention Russia, which just needs to forward a few S-300 air defense batteries and relay solid intelligence.
So get used to how international relations work in the age of newspeak. General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s army in Egypt can kill hundreds of his own people who were protesting against a military coup. Washington couldn’t care less – as in the coup that is not a coup and the bloodbath that is not a bloodbath.
No one knows for sure what exactly happened in the chemical weapons saga near Damascus. But that’s the pretext for yet another American war – just a few days before a Group of 20 summit hosted by Putin in St Petersburg. Holy Tomahawk! R2A, here we go.
Source: Pepe Escobar | Asia Times
Tehran – The Bandar-Zionist lobby collaboration, currently the cocktail party talk of many in Washington, is not a case of strange bedfellows given three decades of mutual cooperation which started during Prince Bandar’s long tenure as Saudi ambassador in Washington. Based in Washington, but with a palace out west and up north, Bandar developed almost familial relationships with five presidents and their key advisers. His voice was one of the shrillest urging the United States to invade Iraq in 2003. In the 1980s, Prince Bandar was deeply involved in the Iran-Contra scandal in Nicaragua and it his intelligence agency that first alerted Western allies to the alleged use of sarin gas by the Syrian regime in February. Bandar has reportedly for months been focused exclusively on garnering international support, including arms and training, for Syrian rebel factions in pursuit of the eventual toppling of President Bashar al-Assad.
Reportedly, the Saudi-Zionist discretely coordinated effort, confirmed by Congressional staffers working on the US House Foreign Affairs Committee as well and the US Senate Foreign Relations committee, is being led by Bandar protégé, Adel A. al-Jubeir, the current Saudi ambassador and facilitated by Bahrain ambassador Houda Ezra Ebrahimis Nonoo, who is the first Jewish person, and third woman to be appointed ambassador of Bahrain. Long known, for having myriad contacts at AIPAC HQ, and as an ardent Zionist, Houda Nonoo has attended lobby functions while advising associates that the “Arabs must forget about the so-called Liberation of Palestine. It will never happen.”
The project has set its sights on achieving American involvement in its third and hopefully its forth (the Islamic Republic) war in this region in just over one decade.
Labeled the ‘surgical strike project”, according to one Congressional staffer, the organizers, as of 8/26/13 are blitzing US Congressional offices with “ fact sheets” making the following arguments in favor of an immediate sustained air assault. They are being supported by the increasingly anguished cries from neo-cons in Congress such as John McCain, Lindsey Graham and their ilk.
The lobby’s missive details calculations why the project will succeed and turn out to be a political plus for Obama who is increasingly being accused, by this same team, of dithering. Bandar is arguing that Syrian threats to retaliate against Israel is only political posturing because Syria has never and will never launch a war against Israel, has no military capacity to do so and for the reason that Israel could level Damascus and the Baathist regime knows this well.
In addition, the Prince and his partners insist that Iran will do nothing but complain because it has too much to lose. Iran will not response other than verbally and has no history of attacking the US or Israel and would not risk the unpredictable consequences of a military response by the Republic Guards or even some of its backed militia in Iraq or Syria. Sources in Tehran have reported otherwise to this observer.
Hezbollah, it is claimed, will not act without orders from Tehran which has instructed it to maintain its heavy weapons in moth balls until the coming ‘big war’ with Israel.. It is widely agreed that if Israel attacks Iran, the region will ignite with Hezbollah playing an important role in targeting occupied Palestine.
McClain, a former pilot in Vietnam, is even pushing “weapons to be employed” list, which includes advising the White House and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on how to do their jobs. Congressional sources report that there is tension between McCain and the Pentagon because the Senator is implying that the Pentagon doesn’t know its job or what assets it has available and how to use them.
The Saudi official acknowledges that a military strike is a game changer, especially for Russia and that it will kill any diplomatic initiative (including Geneva II), meaning that Russia will lose a serious advantage in Syria. This also means that Russia will lose its bargaining chips which could have bought them the consensus they need, political or economic. But this does not mean that Russia will stand up to the U.S. militarily, as the losses in this case would be more severe. All this is reportedly acceptable to the Prince and the lobby.
The timing of such an attack according to knowledgeable sources in Damascus and Washington would probably last no more than two days and involve sea-launched cruise missiles and long-range bombers.
Reportedly, striking military targets not directly related to Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, hinges on three factors: completion of an intelligence report assessing Syrian government culpability for the chemical attack; continuing consultation with allies and Congress; and the Department of States International Law Bureau preparing the justification under international law.
One of the most common phases being uttered by AIPAC to congressional offices this week are the words, “Assad’s massive use of chemical weapons”.
Bandar has reportedly agreed that Israel can call the shots but that the air assault will be led by the US and involve roughly two dozen US allies including Turkey, the UK and France. The German weekly ‘Focus” reported on 8/26/13 that the IDF’s 8200 intelligence unlit bugged the Syrian leadership during the chemical weapons attack last week and that Israel ‘sold” the incriminating information to the White House.
A group from Israel arrived in Washington on 8/26/13. It included the Director of the Political-Security Staff in the Defense Ministry, Jaj. Gen. (res) Amos Gilad, Director of Planning Branch Maj. Gen. Nimrod Shefer and IDF intelligence Research Department Direcotr Brigadier General Ital Brun. After some intense discusisons, the shared some of their tapes with US officials.
The Bandar/AIPAC arguments being, pushed by this delegation and being spread around capitol hill as part of “Israel sharing its sterling intelligence” can be summarized as follows:
The US must avoid half measures to pursue a limited punitive response to the CW use. What is needed is a sustained Bosnia style bombing campaign until Bashar al-Assad is removed from office. Giving in to that temptation would be a mistake.
The use of the CW affords President Obama an, underserved opportunity to correct his errant Middle East policies. As Isreal’s agent, Robert Satloff of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy ( WINEP) is telling anyone who is willing to listen, “Obama’s deep reluctance to engage in Syria is clear to all. This hesitancy is part of his policy to wind down U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and his championing of the idea of “nation building at home.” It is not understandable and to the millions of Americans who see Syria as a heaven-sent contest between radical Shiites and radical Sunnis, it is unwise and inappropriate. “
According to the Saudi’s,” the Obama administration now faces Bashar al-Assad’s regime and its Iranian sponsors who believe they can put a stake through the heart of U.S. power and prestige in the region by testing the president’s “red line” on the use of chemical weapons (CW). “ WINEP is arguing in a memo just issued, “ For Assad, large-scale use of CW serves multiple ends — it demoralizes the rebels, underscores the impotence of their external financiers and suppliers, and confirms to Assad’s own patrons that he is committed to fight to the bitter end. For the Iranians, Assad’s CW use makes Syria — not Iran’s nuclear facilities — the battlefield to test American resolve.”
For Bander and his Zionist collaborators, the key issue is not whether Obama authorizes the use of American force as a response to Syria’s use of CW. Rather, the key imperative is that the U.S. use whatever force in necessary to achieve regime change and choose the next regime assuring that it will be friendly to Israel.
WINEP and AIPAC are arguing that If the US military action is designed to only punish Assad for violating the international norm on CW,” it will merely have the effect of defining for Assad the acceptable tools for mass killing — perhaps only the acceptable quantities of CW to use at any given time — and will have little impact on the outcome of the Syrian conflict; in fact, it might just embolden Assad and his allies.”
Bandar has told Congressional friends who he has known for decades, that if American military action must be designed to alter the balance of power between the various rebel groups and the Syrian/Iranian/Hezbollah alliance? This will require a wholesale change in U.S. on-the-ground strategy to supply and train well-vetted opposition militias.
For Israel and its agents, the worst of all is victory by the Assad/Iranian/Hezbollah axis, which a brief but fiery barrage of cruise missiles is liable to bring about. A global power thousands of miles away cannot calibrate stalemate to ensure that neither party wins; we have to prioritize the most negative outcomes and use our assets to prevent them.
The Bandar-Zionist project is still not irreversible. The Pentagon and especially Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, are very concerned and have threatened to resign in protest. For they realize that there is a grave risk that the Syrian response will lead to a clash with one of its neighbors, a US ally. Any scenario is possible from the moment that the first missile leaves American ships in the eastern Mediterranean.
Sources in Iran and Syria has advised this observers that they expect the US bombing to commence within 72 hours.
Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon)…
A diplomatic report about the “stormy meeting” in July between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan concluded that the region stretching from North Africa to Chechnya and from Iran to Syria — in other words, the entire Middle East — has come under the influence of an open US-Russian face-off and that “it is not unlikely that things [will] take a dramatic turn in Lebanon, in both the political and security senses, in light of the major Saudi decision to respond to Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian crisis.”
The report starts by presenting the conditions under which the Russian-Saudi meeting was convened. It states that Prince Bandar, in coordination with the Americans and some European partners, proposed to Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz that Bandar visit Moscow and employ the carrot-and-stick approach, which is used in most negotiators, and offer the Russian leadership political, economic, military and security enticements in return for concessions on several regional issues, in particular Syria and Iran.
King Abdullah agreed with the proposal and contacted President Putin on July 30. In a conversation that lasted only a few minutes, they agreed to Bandar’s visit and to keep it under wraps. Bandar arrived in Moscow. The visit was secret. The Saudi Embassy did not follow the usual protocol for Saudi officials visiting Russia.
In Moscow, a preliminary session was held at Russian military intelligence headquarters between Bandar and the director of Russian Military Intelligence, Gen. Igor Sergon. The meeting focused on security cooperation between the two countries. Bandar then visited Putin’s house on the outskirts of the Russian capital, where they held a closed-door bilateral meeting that lasted four hours. They discussed the agenda, which consisted of bilateral issues and a number of regional and international matters in which the two countries share interest.
At the bilateral level, Bandar relayed the Saudi king’s greetings to Putin and the king’s emphasis on the importance of developing the bilateral relationship. He also told Putin that the king would bless any understanding reached during the visit. Bandar also said, however, that “any understanding we reach in this meeting will not only be a Saudi-Russian understanding, but will also be an American-Russian understanding. I have spoken with the Americans before the visit, and they pledged to commit to any understandings that we may reach, especially if we agree on the approach to the Syrian issue.”
Bandar stressed the importance of developing relations between the two countries, saying that the logic of interests can reveal large areas of cooperation. He gave several examples in the economic, investment, oil and military arenas.
Bandar told Putin, “There are many common values and goals that bring us together, most notably the fight against terrorism and extremism all over the world. Russia, the US, the EU and the Saudis agree on promoting and consolidating international peace and security. The terrorist threat is growing in light of the phenomena spawned by the Arab Spring. We have lost some regimes. And what we got in return were terrorist experiences, as evidenced by the experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the extremist groups in Libya. … As an example, I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the Syrian territory’s direction without coordinating with us. These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role or influence in Syria’s political future.”
Putin thanked King Abdullah for his greetings and Bandar for his exposition, but then he said to Bandar, “We know that you have supported the Chechen terrorist groups for a decade. And that support, which you have frankly talked about just now, is completely incompatible with the common objectives of fighting global terrorism that you mentioned. We are interested in developing friendly relations according to clear and strong principles.”
Bandar said that the matter is not limited to the kingdom and that some countries have overstepped the roles drawn for them, such as Qatar and Turkey. He added, “We said so directly to the Qataris and to the Turks. We rejected their unlimited support to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere. The Turks’ role today has become similar to Pakistan’s role in the Afghan war. We do not favor extremist religious regimes, and we wish to establish moderate regimes in the region. It is worthwhile to pay attention to and to follow up on Egypt’s experience. We will continue to support the [Egyptian] army, and we will support Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi because he is keen on having good relations with us and with you. And we suggest to you to be in contact with him, to support him and to give all the conditions for the success of this experiment. We are ready to hold arms deals with you in exchange for supporting these regimes, especially Egypt.”
Economic and oil cooperation
Then Bandar discussed the potential cooperation between the two countries if an understanding could be reached on a number of issues, especially Syria. He discussed at length the matter of oil and investment cooperation, saying, “Let us examine how to put together a unified Russian-Saudi strategy on the subject of oil. The aim is to agree on the price of oil and production quantities that keep the price stable in global oil markets. … We understand Russia’s great interest in the oil and gas present in the Mediterranean Sea from Israel to Cyprus through Lebanon and Syria. And we understand the importance of the Russian gas pipeline to Europe. We are not interested in competing with that. We can cooperate in this area as well as in the areas of establishing refineries and petrochemical industries. The kingdom can provide large multi-billion-dollar investments in various fields in the Russian market. What’s important is to conclude political understandings on a number of issues, particularly Syria and Iran.”
Putin responded that the proposals about oil and gas, economic and investment cooperation deserve to be studied by the relevant ministries in both countries.
Bandar discussed the Syrian issue at length. He explained how the kingdom’s position had evolved on the Syrian crisis since the Daraa incident all the way to what is happening today. He said, “The Syrian regime is finished as far as we and the majority of the Syrian people are concerned. [The Syrian people] will not allow President Bashar al-Assad to remain at the helm. The key to the relations between our two countries starts by understanding our approach to the Syrian issue. So you have to stop giving [the Syrian regime] political support, especially at the UN Security Council, as well as military and economic support. And we guarantee you that Russia’s interests in Syria and on the Mediterranean coast will not be affected one bit. In the future, Syria will be ruled by a moderate and democratic regime that will be directly sponsored by us and that will have an interest in understanding Russia’s interests and role in the region.”
Russia’s intransigence is to Iran’s benefit
Bandar also presented Saudi Arabia’s views about Iran’s role in the region, especially in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen, Bahrain and other countries. He said he hoped that the Russians would understand that Russia’s interests and the interests of the Gulf states are one in the face of Iranian greed and nuclear challenge.
Putin gave his country’s position on the Arab Spring developments, especially about what has happened in Libya, saying, “We are very concerned about Egypt. And we understand what the Egyptian army is doing. But we are very cautious in approaching what’s happening because we are afraid that things may slide toward an Egyptian civil war, which would be too costly for the Egyptians, the Arabs and the international community. I wanted to do a brief visit to Egypt. And the matter is still under discussion.”
Regarding Iran, Putin said to Bandar that Iran is a neighbor, that Russia and Iran are bound by relations that go back centuries, and that there are common and tangled interests between them. Putin said, “We support the Iranian quest to obtain nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes. And we helped them develop their facilities in this direction. Of course, we will resume negotiations with them as part of the 5P+1 group. I will meet with President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the Central Asia summit and we will discuss a lot of bilateral, regional and international issues. We will inform him that Russia is completely opposed to the UN Security Council imposing new sanctions on Iran. We believe that the sanctions imposed against Iran and Iranians are unfair and that we will not repeat the experience again.”
Erdogan to visit Moscow in September
Regarding the Turkish issue, Putin spoke of his friendship with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan; “Turkey is also a neighboring country with which we have common interests. We are keen to develop our relations in various fields. During the Russian-Turkish meeting, we scrutinized the issues on which we agree and disagree. We found out that we have more converging than diverging views. I have already informed the Turks, and I will reiterate my stance before my friend Erdogan, that what is happening in Syria necessitates a different approach on their part. Turkey will not be immune to Syria’s bloodbath. The Turks ought to be more eager to find a political settlement to the Syrian crisis. We are certain that the political settlement in Syria is inevitable, and therefore they ought to reduce the extent of damage. Our disagreement with them on the Syrian issue does not undermine other understandings between us at the level of economic and investment cooperation. We have recently informed them that we are ready to cooperate with them to build two nuclear reactors. This issue will be on the agenda of the Turkish prime minister during his visit to Moscow in September.”
Putin: Our stance on Assad will not change
Regarding the Syrian issue, the Russian president responded to Bandar, saying, “Our stance on Assad will never change. We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters. During the Geneva I Conference, we agreed with the Americans on a package of understandings, and they agreed that the Syrian regime will be part of any settlement. Later on, they decided to renege on Geneva I. In all meetings of Russian and American experts, we reiterated our position. In his upcoming meeting with his American counterpart John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will stress the importance of making every possible effort to rapidly reach a political settlement to the Syrian crisis so as to prevent further bloodshed.”
As soon as Putin finished his speech, Prince Bandar warned that in light of the course of the talks, things were likely to intensify, especially in the Syrian arena, although he appreciated the Russians’ understanding of Saudi Arabia’s position on Egypt and their readiness to support the Egyptian army despite their fears for Egypt’s future.
The head of the Saudi intelligence services said that the dispute over the approach to the Syrian issue leads to the conclusion that “there is no escape from the military option, because it is the only currently available choice given that the political settlement ended in stalemate. We believe that the Geneva II Conference will be very difficult in light of this raging situation.”
At the end of the meeting, the Russian and Saudi sides agreed to continue talks, provided that the current meeting remained under wraps. This was before one of the two sides leaked it via the Russian press.
Israel and Al Qaeda Top Suspects List in Second Bombing Attack in Five Weeks…
Outside Makfouz Rouweiss store, Dahiyeh - This observer was sitting with my friend Zuhair on my balcony in south Beirut, when at 6:20 pm on 8/15/13 erupted a huge blast that seemed to shake our 12 story concrete building even more so than the one just down the street did on July 9. We both leaned over the railing at the same time. I commented that I did not see any smoke, while he spoke only two words: “Bir Abed.”
He meant, as it turned out, that rather than two blocks east and one north of our building’s entrance, as was the case with the last blast, this one was three blocks east and three south. Though on the same road as the July bombing, today’s attack was about two hundred yards from the Hezbollah Media Relations office, run by my friend Dr. Ibrahim Mousawi, located at the end of our street.
Zuhair and I parted without speaking, and thanks to my motorbike being known to many of the security guys, who within minutes of the blast were moving traffic barriers into place, I arrived at the scene in short order. Screams, wails, shouting, and the smell of scorched bodies filled the evening air, as massive flames from burning cars and destroyed shop fronts swept skyward. A dense, black smoke plumed over the area, visible for miles.
For more than an hour I stood, just inside a women’s shoe store whose front had been blown off though sometimes venturing a few steps in either direction along the sidewalk, watching, grimacing, yet also wanting to stay out of the way, as emergency vehicles arrived. At the same time thousands, not hundreds, of Hezbollah security and supporters appeared out of nowhere, many of them armed, beginning to direct fire trucks and ambulances, lending assistance to wounded neighbors. Shouting and emotions could be heard in all directions—grown men crying, women praying—though before long my attention was drawn to a group of young men beating their chests in defiance, chanting “Haidar, Haidar, Haidar.” It is the Shia ritual meant to identify with the events of Karba in the year 680, when Hussein bin Ali, son in law of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) sacrificed himself in defense of Islam.
A particularly bizarre incident, for this observer, occurred when a friend called and asked where I was and if I was ok. I replied, “I am at the scene near Mahfouz Stores in Ruwais, next to a butcher shop and down the block from Banque Libano-Française and Harkous Chicken Restaurant.” She later told me those were my exact words.
When we hung up the phone, I glanced again to my right and did a double take—at what appeared to be a sheep carcass, partly carved by a butcher, or maybe half a hanging cow. Both are a common sight in this part of the world. Moments passed; I glanced again at the suspended slab, no more than five feet away, thinking to myself that the explosive device must have contained pellets, for the animal’s flesh, which had visibly darkened in color since I had arrived half an hour earlier, seemed riddled and partly shredded. Surrounded by chaos and disembarking EMS vehicles, I didn’t pay much attention to it, though not much later a Hezbollah security/civil defense worker came and stood next to me. I had seen him around the neighborhood before, and though I always keep an ID at ready, he did not ask me for one.
“Animal! Dog!” he exclaimed in disgust as he glared at the dangling carcass and spit.
“Aiwa, maybe a sheep or cow, but surely not a dog,” this observer replied obtusely.
He looked at me quizzically and proffered, “You no understand. This is the dog who did the operation!”
In other words, it was not a sheep but the suicide bomber I had been standing next to.
The man appears to have been the driver of a white van that neighbors say they saw driving back and forth looking for a parking space just before the blast. Glancing anew at the hanging carcass, I saw what did look like part of a leg, and perchance half an arm, but the mass of its flesh was in the middle and included what resembled a stomach and organs.
At this point it dawned on me—ever so slowly, as many things do these days—we were not even in front of a butcher shop! Instead, we stood next to a shop selling pink and gold handbags, strewn now over the sidewalk, located next to the shoe store. And there was no butcher’s hook to be seen. Rather, the body had been blown across the intersection and lodged between two thick workmen’s planks, perhaps 12 feet off the ground, on rusty, thick, metal scaffolding.
I could not see if there was a head attached, and did not want to appear nosy, but something was keeping the body hanging just above us, between the two planks. Soon three other guys arrived and, presumably out of Islamic respect for the dead, two of them climbed the scaffolding, at which point they tore some plastic strips off a banner advertising a sale, draping it over the remains. I am not sure how the security guys were so certain it was the remains of the bomber rather than one of the so-far 27 presumed killed, but somehow they were.
Additionally, as of press time, more than 340 are reported wounded, while a father and three of his children remain unaccounted for. The victims were rushed to Hezbollah’s Rassoul Hospital, on Airport Road, and to Bahman Hospital, next to where I live, run by the Sayed Mohamad Hussein Fadallah charity; still others were taken to Al Bourj and Sahel hospitals in our neighborhood. The explosion also has left some 350 families displaced.
Almost predictably, some local politicians are blaming Israel, whose government has denied any involvement. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri both are accusing Israel, in almost knee-jerk fashion. President Suleiman said the Dahiyeh blast “bears the hallmark of terrorism and Israel,” adding that “all Lebanese must show solidarity.” Their accusations are probably based not on hard evidence but an admirable attempt to tamp down Sunni-Shia speculations and suspicions.
However, analyst and Hezbollah expert Waddah Charara, whose views this observer particularly values, said Hezbollah’s arch-enemy Israel could have been behind this latest car-bombing. “I think the attack is part of a war being waged between Israel and the Shiite movement—that recently brought on the Israeli soldiers’ incursion into Lebanese territory,” he told the media.
Hezbollah had not taken a clear position as of press time, but SG Hassan Nasrallah is scheduled to speak tonight and give this thoughts.
Fadallah MP, Dr. Ali Fayed, whom I consider a valued friend and who is one of those within Hezbollah working to enact the elementary right to work and to own a home for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, appeared last night on NBN TV. Fayed called the bombing a “very dangerous act,” but highlighted that Hezbollah and its supporters will not be dragged into strife. He also said that regardless of who did the bombing, and whether or not “it’s Israel or terrorist organizations” behind the attack, the Lebanese must unite.
There are plenty of other suspects—both here in Lebanon, as well as amongst militant groups inside Syria, who have moved elements into Beirut. A video, uploaded hours after the blast, shows residents of the rebel-held city of Raqqa, the only provincial capital in Syria outside regime control, celebrating the devastating car-bomb attack while offering sweets to passers-by and holding a banner reading: “Distributing sweets on the occasion of the explosion in Beirut’s Dahiyeh.”
One of the more than two hundred active militias in Syria, which calls itself the Company of Aisha Umm al-Muminin (named for the Prophet Mohammed’s favorite wife) is additionally claiming responsibility, while several other Syrian rebel groups, some with members now in Lebanon, have issued threats against Hezbollah and vowed to target it.
Analysis of the increased number of security cameras in our neighborhood may reveal more clues, plus it is rumored that one suspect was arrested at the scene and is being interrogated. Revisiting the area this morning at 3 a.m., this observer found it cordoned off, floodlit, and with numerous investigators working the scene.
Meanwhile, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati has called for a national day of mourning on 8/16/13.
Lebanon offers Palestinians fleeing death in Syria Ramadan greetings: “Eid Mubarak, dear brothers and sisters! Yalla! Go back where you came from!”
The Syria/Lebanon border crossing at Masnaa…
On 8/5/13 this observer decided, quite on the spur of the moment, to take a three day break from Damascus the next morning and make a quick trip to Beirut to do some errands because offices would be closed starting at dawn for Eid al Fitr celebrations (a day later for Shia Muslims). The annual Eid al-Fitr, being the festival of the breaking of the month long Ramadan fast, which observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. And by the way, this year has been undertaken, approximately 16 hours each day in inordinately hot weather in the Middle East.
Let me say from the start: I did not anticipate the delay into which I was about to run. In fact, I felt that with a little bit of luck—and by leaving Damascus by no later than six in the morning—I might even break my record of 205 minutes total from Sameriyeh bus station to my apartment in Dahiyeh, south Beirut.
Alas, it was not to happen. In fact, I ended up setting a record for my longest trip ever—a bit over eight hours for the usually much-quicker 88 km (55 mile) journey. It had not occurred to me that I would arrive at the new Lebanese border crossing building at Masnaa only to find not only was it swamped, but that it had been a scene of bedlam for the past 20 or more hours. There were Syrian and Palestinian refugees fleeing to Lebanon, plus hundreds of people traveling there for this year’s Eid el Fitra holiday.
I wasn’t the only one who miscalculated. Lebanon’s General Security, which oversees immigration facilities, apparently did so as well. When I got out of the car, the cross border processing center was surrounded by hundreds of travelers jostling and waiting. People were jammed and packed inside the building as well. Some shouted, waving their passports, trying to catch the eye of the overwhelmed but seriously under-numbered immigration officials behind their glass cages, while others were simply shocked, depressed by the mess they were in, and weak also from fasting.
Gape-mouthed, I stared at the steamy sweating assembly, and saw one of the supervisors (I know several of them from frequently crossing the border at Masnaa) and he immediately waved and summoned me to push my way through the massive crowd to his private office. When I finally made it, he immediately took my passport and told one of the clerks to stamp it. Suffering yet another lapse into sometimes weak character, I kept my mouth shut about why he was helping an American who just arrived before assisting his fellow Arabs who had been waiting, Allah only knows, for how long. I still feel some shame about this personal flaw and I know better than to jump a queue. But the General, sporting 4 gold stars on each of his two shoulder epaulets, did lecture me about what chaos he and his staff were in. A couple of security types held pistols above the travelers heads pointed at the ceiling as the crowd sometimes pressed sort of threateningly, against the counters and appeared that they might be about to storm them. Some immigration officers were scowling and shouting at people in the hall who were impatient to advance to the counters.
“You should write a story about what you saw here today Mr. Lamb. We need more staff! Look at my men! Have you ever seen anything like this?”
Frankly, I hadn’t. For sure the supervisors’ all male staff did indeed look utterly exhausted, even somewhat intimidated by the shouting throngs. But what I encountered next was even more disturbing. Grasping my stamped passport, I made my way out of the noisy, congested building, to the parking lot, and up to the door of our parked service-taxi. Here I found my two traveling companions, a middle-aged Palestinian couple from Yarmouk who I had just met at Samariyeh, taking their luggage out of the car. Why were they removing their luggage? I inquired of them, thinking perhaps we had to switch vehicles for some reason. The man put his hand on his heart and pointed toward Damascus. “Cham, (Damascus) we go Cham. Lebanon no!” he said as he flicked his chin upward.
I did not understand exactly what the problem was, but assumed his documents were not in order—but then suddenly I realized that that didn’t make sense because every Palestinian must go to the Interior Ministry in Damascus before leaving Syria, war or no war, and pay $5 to have their documents checked and to receive an exit visa. And on top of the $5 fee in Damascus, they have to pay a new, higher fee at the border crossing—of $11—which until last month was only half that amount. With little choice, we bade each other farewell. Alone now, I settled down to wait for my driver, who seemed to have lots of friends at Masnaa.
All at once, I noticed a lady dressed in full Hijab walking my way with a baby in her arms and with two small children, maybe three or four years old, clinging to her skirt. And I have to say: I will not forget this family for the rest of my life. The young mother looked as forlorn as ever I have seen someone. Her dust-covered cheeks were moistened and streaked by tears, her eyes red as she wept. The children were crying also, and kept saying “baba, baba.”
She was fleeing to Lebanon—after losing her husband and her home, although I did not learn all the details. But as with a couple of other Syrian refugees I have met, the poor dear did not have any relatives in Lebanon, and consequently planned, as have others in similar straits, to look for someone from her village in Palestine, hoping, praying, believing that such a person or persons would understand her plight and feel enough of a bond from the Nakba to help her.
But outrageously, immigration at Masnaa barred her from entering Lebanon, and didn’t even take the trouble to give her a reason. “Go back to Syria where you belong” she said the immigration clerk told her. “Ask UNWRA for help. They are responsible for you” she was told.
But no one from UNWRA was to be seen, nor was any other Palestinian NGO. I gave her the phone number of two friends in Damascus and the last of my Syrian and American money. It is still the case in Syria, due to American-led sanctions, that ATM’s and credit cards cannot be used. Consequently many westerners, like me, regularly arrive at Masnaa from Syria, pretty broke.
(photo: fplamb 8/6/13 at Masnas border crossing.. There appears to be an office of sorts of UNHCR at Masnaa. But it was closed for the Palestinian refugees from Syria desperately seeking help. Where were UNWRA, UNICEF, USAID, the Arab League, the IOIC, the 31 NGO’s in the USA and in Lebanon, as well as the European Union who claim to work for the wellbeing of the Palestinian refuges forced from their homes and into this unwelcoming land? Only God knows and she has been silent recently. This observer saw no sign of any, or even one of them.
This mother and her babies are dreams. What happened to them is an outrage, and who knows how many others met similar treatment on the Syrian-Lebanon border last week? On that day at any rate, 8/6/2013, it seemed very much that most Palestinians were being forced back into Syria.
Lebanese General Security officials need to get their stories straight. On 8/10/2013 a GS official denied any decision on the part of Lebanese authorities to prevent Palestinian refugees fleeing the fighting in Syria from entering Lebanon. In remarks to pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, the official, whose name was withheld, insisted, “The same measures are being applied on all the refugees (coming) to Lebanon from Syria whether they are Palestinians or Syrians.” General Security “is implementing the measures that were underway before the Syrian crisis started in terms of checking their documents and identification papers,” he added.
Speaking frankly, his statement is utter nonsense. This observer spent nearly two hours at the Masnaa crossing speaking with Palestinians who were prevented from entering Lebanon. At the same time, I heard of no Syrian refugees being turned back—nor, of course, should they have been.
Upon finally making it to Beirut, I emailed Amnesty International, UNHCR, and HRW among others. The GS’s spurious arguments that “their papers must not have been in order” insults ones intelligence.
It is well known, as noted above, that every Palestinian who wants to come to Lebanon or to leave Syria must first go to the Palestinian Refugees department of the Ministry of Interior in downtown Damascus and pay the aforementioned fee. Upon doing so, they are granted an exit permit. Every rejected Palestinian I spoke to that day at Masnaa showed me their permit from the Ministry of the Interior. In every single case their papers were in order.
Many Palestinian refugees, without any money left from their many travails, are forced to walk from the Masnaa border crossing near the Syrian/Lebanese to the Jilil Palestinian Refugee camp near Baalbec. (photo: flamb 8/6/13)
International humanitarian law requires that Lebanon abide by the principle of non-refoulement, a standard which prohibits sending refugees or asylum seekers back to places where their lives or freedom are threatened. On the day of 8/6/2013, this observer was an eyewitness to the government of Lebanon turning back scores of Palestinian refugees while remaining seemingly oblivious to the risks to their lives. Palestinian families were, and still may be, stranded at Masnaa because they have no funds to return to Syria and were barred from entering Lebanon.
If you are a no account, low life, over the hill American like this observer and have some defect in your documentation you will likely be OK at Masnaa and allowed in. Not to worry.
But, God forbid if you are a Palestinian refugee, for you currently risk being barred, even if your papers are complete. As I saw the young family starts the trek on foot back toward Damascus. I could not help thinking, what kind of Arabs are these who give preference to a citizen of a country that has brought this Arab region nearly unimaginable destruction, yet shut out their own brothers and sisters who are fleeing death?
Every Lebanese citizen and every political party, from the anti-Palestinian Lebanese Forces, to the claimed champions of Palestinians, including Hezbollah, should immediately insist that the Lebanese government rescind, without delay, its decision to bar Palestinians from Syria from entering Lebanon. And while they are at it, General Security should stop hounding and threatening with arrest Palestinian refugees from Syria, who came to Lebanon during the last nearly 29 months and who cannot come up with the $200 fee to extend their expired visas.
This would require less than an hour to accomplish, and once it is done, there is another task that this observer submits is urgently needed: for the Lebanese President and the Prime Minister to issue, toute de suite, an emergency decree granting the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon the elementary right to work and to own a home. If and when Parliament stops posturing politically and actually does some of the work for the Lebanese people that they are paid huge sums to carry out, it can take 90 minutes to enact these basic civil rights into law. And Lebanon will benefit enormously in terms of growth of economy which is taking a nose-dive resulting from the Syrian crisis and the now collapsed summer tourism.
It is true that the Lebanese government is struggling to meet the needs of the growing refugee population, but as Joe Stork, HRW deputy Middle East director and friend of the late American Journalist Janet Lee Stevens, has pointed out, shutting them out is no answer.
It is egregious and illegal for a country to deny safe haven to any refugee fleeing probable death. It is doubly egregious for Lebanon to bar devoted Muslims sanctuary during the Holy month of Ramadan.
Seven of Syria’s Thirteen Palestinian camps now controlled by Salafi-Jihadists…
Jihadists are entering Syria at an accelerating pace, according to Syrian, UNWRA, and Palestinian officials as well as residents in the refugee camps here. For the now-estimated 7000 imported foreign fighters, Palestinian camps are seen as optimal locales for setting up bases across Syria.
“Syria’s Palestinian camps have become theaters of war,” said UNWRA Commissioner Filippo Grandi.
The Syrian people compassionately host 10 official, UN-mandated Palestinian camps, along with three unofficial ones, whose populations total at least 230,000. Eight of these are “Nakba (“catastrophe”) camps,” organized soon after Palestinians were expelled from their homes in 1948, while two, Qabr Essit and Dera’a (emergency camp), are “Naksa (“day of setback”) camps.” The latter were set up in 1967 as a result of the internationally condemned Zionist-colonial aggression against the two sister-Arab-nationalist regions—Palestine’s West Bank and Syria’s Golan Heights.
And it was on the Ides of March of the year 2011 we saw an explosion of violence near one of these camps, the Dera’a camp established in 1950, in the south near the Jordanian border.
But first, perhaps a simple listing of the camps, along with their populations and dates of establishment, would be in order here:
1950, Dera’a, 5,916
1967, Dera’a (Emergency), 5,536
1950, Hama, 7,597
1949, Homs, 13,825
1948, Jaramana, 5,007
1950, Khan Dunoun, 8,603
1949, Khan Eshieh, 15,731
1948, Neirab, 17,994
1967, Qabr Essit, 16,016
1948, Sbeineh, 19,624
1955-6, Latakia camp, 6,534 registered refugees
1957, Yarmouk Camp, 112,550 registered refugees
1962, Ein Al-Tal, 4,329 registered refugees
As of 8/8/13, seven of the camps—two in the north and five in the Damascus area and in the south of Syria—are presently with their throats under the jackboot of foreign Salafi-Jihadists. These jihadist cells moved against the camps early in the current crisis for purposes of forced recruitment, to benefit from a supply of noncombatant human shields, to shakedown the residents and take over UNWRA facilities, and to make use of the erstwhile “refugee camp security zones.” All these steps were precursory to the setting up of military bases from which to launch operations aimed at toppling the current government of the Syrian Arab Republic.
How do the jihadists infiltrate the camps?
How is it possible that more than half of the Palestinian camps in Syria not only fell, but did so, regrettably, without all that much resistance, to the point at which we see them now—dominated by largely foreign jihadists who continue to impose their unwanted extremist religious beliefs on a largely progressive secular Palestinian community? It is a subject currently much discussed here.
This observer has deduced from a number of conversations—with former and current camp residents, as well as members of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, Palestinian NGO’s, and also with academics—that there is a ‘model of occupation’ metastasizing in Syria in a manner strikingly similar to what we saw six years ago at Nahr al Bared Palestinian camp near Tripoli Lebanon. The stories we hear today are quite similar to those from among the nearly 30,000 refugees at Nahr al Bared who were forced to flee to the nearby Badawi camp or to Lebanon’s ten other camps—reports related to this observer in visits to Nahr al Bared in May of 2007.
What we hear today in Syria bears an almost uncanny likeness. For instance one lady, whose family is from Safad in occupied Palestine explained: “First they (the intruders) appeared only a few in number. We noticed them and that some had ‘foreign’ accents and wore conservative clothes, most had beards. They were polite and friendly. Then more arrived, a few followed by women and children. They stayed to themselves at first and they began using the local mosque—even being welcomed at first by local sheiks who sometimes expressed admiration for the sincerity and devoutness. Then some of them began to preach their versions of the Koran, and at some point their gentle teaching became more strident, and soon these men were commenting on how some of the Palestinian women dressed in an un-Islamic fashion and even lectured young women about modesty and that they must change their ways, including stop smoking, and to leave public meetings if they were the only women present, and wear a full hijab.”
The lady’s sister interrupted: “Then guns appeared and some of the men appeared to be very skilled when they would use, for example, a school or playground to train. They were so serious and seemed to be in a trance of some kind. There was no possibility to talk or reason with them. All they seemed to want was martyrdom! Some actually believe that Syria was Palestine and they were here to liberate Al Quds!”
Upon some in the camps it began to dawn that the newcomers intended imposing their ideas, and that they fully intended that camp residents should submit to “pure Islam,” as they view it. Some resistance began to jell from camp residents, but the camp popular committees did not have the power to confront them, and a few actually joined them. The fighting with Syrian government troops accelerated the takeover process, and soon the camp residents were presented with a demand: join the gunmen and “liberate” the camps.
With respect to Ahmad Jibril’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command—and no offense meant to them and their officials, with whom this observer met in July and early August—but several of their best Palestinian patriot commanders jumped ship in protest against the plan to “liberate” Yarmouk. At the same time many of the PFLP-GC rank-and-file fighters split and joined the opposition for various reasons, including better pay and wanting to be on the presumed winning side. That being said, however, camp residents overwhelmingly rejected the PFLP-GC “defense” project, and insisted that their camp was neutral, that it was to be maintained as a safe zone for its residents, who were guests in Syria pending their return to still-occupied Palestine.
Again, this chain of events is singularly similar to what we saw (too late as it turned out) in Lebanon’s Nahr al Bared, a process which, like the one unfolding now in Syria, was accelerated by the civil war raging here.
There is fear that the Syrian army will sooner or later attack and destroy the camps in order to confront the rebel militias—similar to what the Lebanese army did during the 75 days of shelling in 2007. At that time it took vengeance on the camp and demolished it in an unjustifiable frenzy of shelling for the criminal attack and killing of some Lebanese troops, an attack that had been carried out by camp invaders, not Palestinians. For Palestinians in Syria, it is the all too familiar fate of outsiders entering and seeking to control their camps, coupled with the threat of a host army attacking them to confront the invaders. The residents are once more killed or forced to flee and their homes are destroyed.
Here once more comes to mind the cliché: “Where is the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Council, the EU or the UN? Where’s Waldo?
In order to gain control of the camps in Syria, two main processes appear to be made use of by the al Qaeda affiliates. One is what this observer labels the ‘Nahr al Bared model”. A Popular Committee member from Yarmouk, who just barely escaped the camp before his home was destroyed by a direct hit mortar round, put it this way:
“Some come bearing gifts. They usually set up small problem solving centers. Maybe a little cash, offers of medical aid, bread distribution, pledges of camp security, these sorts of currently absent social services.”
But the camps quickly become petri dishes, and the explosive growth of the foreign implantations is sometimes dazzling. By the time government supporters report the camp invaders it’s too late. And what can the government do anyhow? Guns appear everywhere, and suddenly it’s no longer ‘nicely nicely’ polite treatment from the Islamic brothers. Residents are told they must help liberate the camp from the Assad regime or face the wrath of Allah. Consequently, fleeing for one’s life becomes an utmost urgency, often literally as the snipers arrive and intense fighting, and rooftop targeting, ensues.
Dodging the snipers
So what happens next to the Palestinian camps in Syria? Is a hopeful, positive or peaceful resolution possible? This observer’s 2-cents worth of analysis suggests that the answer is no. The camps will stay largely under the domination, militarily and socially, of the jihadist elements that continue building fortifications and ‘digging in.’ What is happening is a God-awful calamity, one being foisted upon those whose only prayers and wishes are to leave Syria and return home to reclaim their stolen lands.
A central question is the precarious situation in Yarmouk and the fate of the 18-20 percent of its population still remaining. These are people risking their lives daily trying to avoid snipers from both sides. One can hear speculation on the prospects that the Syrian Army, aided by Hezbollah, will move on Yarmouk to try and expel the rebel militia. Some PLO officials with offices inside the Yarmouk neighborhood claim that Ahmad Jibril’s PFLP-GC is being beefed up and armed by the government with more than just AK47’s and RPG’s. Last winter, some of Jibril’s forces were expelled when they tried to eject the foreign militia, while others, as mentioned above, went over to the opposite side. At the same time, three PFLP-GC commanders quit over tactics while questioning Jibril’s decision to violate the camp’s neutrality, a decision leading to the destruction of parts of Yarmouk.
As to speculation on the possibility of the Syrian government and/or Hezbollah moving to eject the foreign forces from Yarmouk, this observer does not give the reports much credit. The Syrian Army has more urgent and prioritized battles being waged today, with others being planned. Hezbollah, likewise, is facing challenges at present, and fighting in Yarmouk against unknown numbers of rebel militia would surely add to them. Moreover, any force invading a Palestinian camp faces being roundly condemned over violations of the Cairo agreement forbidding host governments from entering UNRWA refugee camps.
This observer and contacts in the Palestinian community cannot verify the recent report for a foreign media source that al Nusra has fled Yarmouk and is on the run. On the run from whom? Currently they are not being seriously challenged. On the contrary, the al-Qeada affiliates are busy digging more tunnels under the camps to store weapons and move freely. Their ranks are growing not dwindling.
Grim as it sounds, they who reside in Syria’s camps, along with the 12 million Palestinian refugees worldwide, will continue to be at the mercy of events they had no part in creating. It is a fate they share at this moment with much of the rest of Syria’s population, and things are not likely to improve in the immediate term.
But on a more positive note, the Palestinians of Syria persist in their resistance and opposition to the illegal occupation of their country. Theirs is a determination to return to their homeland that simply will not fade or wither, and speaking with Palestinian refugees these past several days in Damascus and Homs has convinced this observer more than ever that on this they will not retreat a single inch—and that in time they will liberate their country.
Damascus — It may well have seemed like a fine idea at the European Union’s Foreign Ministers cocktail reception in Brussels, where ample alcohol freely flowed the night before last week’s vote to blacklist the “military wing” of Hezbollah. But shortly after the vote the EU appeared to be experiencing a severe hangover as the stark reality of its impetuous decision began to soak in.
After periodical discussion of the US-Israel demand for blacklisting Hezbollah for more than a year, and adding its name to the EU list of 26 organizations and 11 individuals currently being designated as ‘terrorists’ is in becoming clearer by the day the EU actions may not have been in anyone’s interest except possibly Israel’s.
It is true there was never much enthusiasm at EU HQ for taking the blacklisting step given some fundamental uncertainties of what it would mean in reality. But American and British pressure, and headlines from Israel screaming: “We told you about rising anti-Semitism from Europe” following the EU decision to blacklist illegal Zionist colonies implanted on the West Bank portion of occupied Palestine, weeks earlier. To round up EU votes, the US State Department staff designated to lobby the 28 EU foreign ministries also focused on the unproven Bulgaria bus attack, and Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria as reasons to go along with the blacklisting decision which required a unanimous vote for the 28 EU countries foreign ministers.
Minutes after the EU vote, problems began to appear and it became obvious that buying into the US-UK Hezbollah “military wing” blacklisting project was not an attractive product after all.
Some of the reportedly emphasized ‘talking points’ to the EU Foreign Ministries from Washington and London included the following:
· The EU blacklisting Hezbollah’s military wing would “compensate” Israel, as it has been demanding, for the EU vote early this month that essentially boycotted Zionist colonial projects throughout the illegally occupied West Bank
· The action would not affect UNIFIL or UNSCR 1701 because Hezbollah has good relations with UNIFIL and they would likely continue to work with the 15 European countries nations making up UNIFIL including the five EU members ,France, Spain, Italy, Poland and Ireland who have troops patrolling the Lebanon-Palestine border;
· Israel would be assuaged and can claim a victory in its war with Hezbollah;
· The Lebanese political parties backed by certain EU member states and the Gulf Countries such as Saudi Arabia would benefit in terms of establishing a new pro-March 14th dominated government, significantly pressuring Hezbollah’s delegation in Parliament and at the ballot box by the blacklisting—although it was not spelled out precisely how to would work;
· US-led western aid to the Lebanese army would likely increase and Hezbollah’s international reputation would suffer;
· There would be no damage to EU-Lebanese relations and any negative reactions would soon dye down.
However great all this may have sounded in some capitols before the ill-considered vote, a rude awakening began to dawn almost immediately after the votes were counted. Criticisms, complications and doubts from the EU action are continuing to be voiced and second thoughts are spreading despite efforts of the EU Ambassador to Lebanon, Ms. Angeline Eichhorst at damage control.
Even before the EU’s decision to blacklist Hezbollah’s “military wing” was publicly released, Ms. Eichhorst sought and was granted appointments with Hezbollah’s Ammar al-Musawi, Liaison for International Relations, and Minister of State Mohammad Fneish, at which she repeatedly offered assurances that the EU vote will have zero effect on relations with the group’s “civilian wing.” She assured the gentlemen that the EU votes do not reflect on the Lebanese government in any way, explaining that the EU “has no problem with Hezbollah participating in any future government.”
Ambassador Eichhorst declared that “this decision is a political message to Hezbollah for the attack in Burgas, Bulgaria, which is a terrorist attack on European soil.”
She added, however, that this does not reflect on the Lebanese government in any way, explaining that the EU “has no problem with Hezbollah participating in any future government.” After her meeting with Hezbollah’s minister in the current caretaker government, she stated, “Financial assistance will continue, of which Minister Fneish’s ministry gets a sizable share, and we want for this cooperation to continue.”
For his part, and ever gracious towards the EU’s well-meaning Ambassador , who appeared to understand some of the diplomatic complications the EU action unlearned, Hezbollah MP Fneish reminded the ambassador that “Israel occupied our land for many years, and we did not hear a single objection (from the EU) “we were careful to maintain good relations with Europe, despite the terrible legacy Europe left behind among our people – from the Palestinian cause to colonialism – and despite this, you choose to remind us again of this painful history.”
Minister Fneish reiterated Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah’s statement that the European decision will provide Israel with political cover for any future attack on Lebanon, in which case Hezbollah would consider the EU a partner in such a crime. Eichhorst replied that the EU decision has nothing to do with Resistance to Israel or Lebanese sovereignty.”
Both Musawi and Fneish stood their ground in their discussions with EU ambassador Eichhorst, insisting that the decision was an insult to the Resistance. They dismissed the decision as politically motivated, particularly given that the outcome of the Burgas investigation is rooted in allegations and conjecture, even by the admission of the ambassador herself who conceded that there are no firm results regarding responsibility for the Burgas incident that cost innocent lives.
Ms. Eichhorst’s hosts were reportedly far too polite to ask the EU ambassador just how the EU planned to somehow go about distinguishing a “civil wing” and a “military wing”.
And they are not alone in appearing a bit puzzled. According to a lawyer at the American Society of International Law in Washington DC, the EU decision was a big mistake from an international law standpoint and could be an international lawyer’s worst nightmare or a dream come true. Which would depend if the lawyer was representing the EU in trying to unravel the civil-military conundrum or advising thousands of EU member states businesses and agencies wanting to continue any business with the Lebanese government, UNIFIL, or countless NGO’s who regularly interact with Hezbollah.
“It’s a real legal mess!” the ASIL source explained, as he described the legal confusion the EU action caused. “The best thing for EU credibility and international relations right now on this subject would be for the EU to forget what it did and to desist from any implementation whatsoever. And then let the designation be removed after the six months trial period as provided by EU regulations. Otherwise, their decision will swamp courtrooms and complicate Middle East-European political and economic relations with challenges from all points on the compass with uncertain outcomes to say the least.”
It is not only Hezbollah, the leader of the National Lebanese Resistance and American international lawyers who have expressed concerns about the EU action last week. It seems that nearly everyone else does too and this reaction is adding to the EU’s ‘morning after’ queasiness.
Many citizens of Lebanon are expressing concern that the EU brush stroke aimed at Hezbollah’s “military wing” may tar them as well due to the ‘terrorism’ label toxicity these days. A Sunni taxi driver wondered if his children could now get visas to Europe because of the ruling. Lebanon is very sensitive to the issue of Visas as they see fellow citizens are being forced out of Gulf countries due to fabricated claims of association with Hezbollah. In these countries hundreds of thousands of Lebanese have had visas for decades. It is the uncertainly among many-understandably paranoid Lebanese living and working abroad than is causing near panic among some in Lebanon.
It’s hard to find in Lebanon, even among Hezbollah detractors, a political party that is publicly endorsing the EU decision because they basically see no advantage for Lebanon of their own tightly controlled sects, whether Christian, Muslim, or Druze.
On 7/27/13 Former premier Fouad Saniora, head of al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc, no friend of Hezbollah, voiced “concern and regret over the reasons that led the European Union to take the decision of putting Hezbollah’s so-called military wing on its terror list.” Saniora added in a statement released from his party’s media office:
“We had commented on this issue in the bloc’s statement and voiced our regret and also our concern over the reasons that led the EU to take such a decision, especially that we in Lebanon have ties of solid friendship with 28 European countries, and thus none of us would have liked to see this happening.”
Saniora’s friend and colleague, Phalange Party leader Amin Gemayel argued over the week-end that the European Union’s decision to blacklist Hezbollah’s military wing is “ambiguous,” pointing out that it will have a negative impact on the country. In an interview with Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5) he argued that “The decision confused the Lebanese situation and will constitute negative repercussions on all matter especially the cabinet formation process,” Gemayel said. He pointed out that the decision targets Hezbollah members who his party considered “ghosts,” saying: “The members that are responsible for Hezbollah’s military action are unknown.”
Even Israeli officials have problems with the EU’s decision. Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman and MK Avigdor Lieberman slammed the EU’s decision to put military wing of Hezbollah on terrorist list, saying that not only military wing, but the entire organization should be blacklisted. “
As usual, Lieberman found some antisemitism lurking among the Europeans, claiming that they were satisfied with going only halfway, and like the West Bank Settlements EU decision, the EU wants to punish not the terrorists but those (like-Israel!) who reject terrorism and fight it. Half a dozen other Israeli officials including the ever garrulous Shimon Peres chimed in to form a chorus condemning the EU.
Far be it for this observer to advise the European Union’s Foreign Ministry or to promote an American association’s legal analysis and advice. However, the American Society of International Law lawyer, quoted above, makes a valid point.
The best move for the EU now, as it tries to recover from the current self-inflicted debacle is to do nothing to inflame the situation by cooking up some dubious terrorist lists. Rather, in six months the EU should assure that this month’s blacklisting decision acquiesced in under US-Israel pressure, lapses.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – the official denomination of al-Qaeda in Iraq – does not even pretend to be not responsible for the relentless bombing, political assassination and mostly sectarian horror unleashed across Iraq during Ramadan.
But this is exactly what they’re doing, with relish; throwing arrays of crude bombs made with fertilizer enhanced with ball bearings, manipulating a small army of foreign suicide bombers. Most of these, by the way, crossed the desert from Syria.
July has been a deadly month ; over 600 Iraqis killed up to July 25. May was even worse; at least 963 civilians killed and more than 2,000 injured. And now comes the coup de grâce; the already notorious Abu Ghraib jailbreak.
Abu Ghraib is charged with symbolism – indelibly linked with the American occupier. When the Abu Ghraib scandal erupted in 2004 I was on the road in the US. This is what I wrote at the time; in Texas especially, everybody saw the routine humiliation of Iraqi prisoners as the new normal.
To the Syriamobile!
Fast forward to 2013. The al-Maliki government insists anti-terrorist forces are on top of everything going on in Baghdad. Not really. My matchless source in Baghdad, Asseel Kamal, explains how the commander of the 17th Army Division, General Abdul Naser al-Ghanam, apparently did not resign; he fled, before advising al-Maliki that all hell would break loose. The government was stunned by the veritable horde that staged the double attack – on Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, and Taji prison in the north of the city.
The siege of Abu Ghraib started with nine bombs thrown at the entrance, and dozens of mortars, followed by a battle against the guards; a group of suicide bombers attacked the walls while another group of car bombers attacked the main entrance. And then the critical gambit, when a series of car bombs exploded all along the main road up to the bridge that links the prison to the highway leading to Baghdad, cutting all its connections with the capital.
The numbers game is still a mess; everything from 500 to 1,000 and even 1,400 escapees. Same for the official numbers of dead prisoners (65), dead guards (28), injured prisoners (124) and injured guards (43). Kamal quotes prisoners’ families saying prisoners who did not manage to escape were brutally“interrogated”. And helicopters bombed them mercilessly.
According to Hakim al Zamili, a member of Parliament who’s part of the Committee for Defense and Security, this operation has been prepared for at least two weeks – and plenty of guards were onto it. Kamal reveals that at least 15 men dressed in military garb got inside and “released” - as in escorted to freedom – selected al-Qaeda princelings ; and left the rest to fend for themselves. Better yet : this selected group – which includes a bunch of Jihad International foreign fighters captured by the US military in 2006 and 2007 – has fled to, where else, Syria.
It’s the occupation, stupid
Al-Maliki’s government has closed Iraq’s borders with Syria – to no avail; it’s desert on both sides, it’s powerful Sunni tribal Sheikhs on both sides, it’s ‘family’ on both sides. This proves once again that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – with its tactical alliance with jihadis of the Jabhat al-Nusra kind – is already establishing the embryo of a beyond-borders Islamic Emirate. They even have secured territory in northern Syria.
Most of the best commanders on the ground in Syria are Iraqis – and have battleground experience of fighting the Americans. Their long-term wishful thinking strategy is that once Bashar al-Assad’s government falls, the next will be al-Maliki’s.
These jihadis see that fighting a secular, apostate, “infidel” government in Syria – supported by Iran and Hezbollah – is the equivalent of fighting an “apostate” government in Iraq enjoying close relations with Iran. This – a ghastly sectarian war – was always the plan since the bombing of Samarra’s golden shrine in 2006.
As much as Syrian civilians are caught in the crossfire of the proxy war involving Western powers and Gulf petro-monarchies against the support of Iran (and Russia) to Damascus, Iraqi civilians are now caught in the resurgent civil war. Civilians in Baghdad do fear what these escapees might unleash.
It’s always crucial to go back to the basics. With the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the clueless Bush gang handed out a base to al-Qaeda on a plate.
Yet when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke in 2004, the prisoners were not al-Qaeda, but the Sunni resistance. When the Petraeus surge started in 2007, the plan was to buy the leaders of the Sunni resistance to fight al-Qaeda. The Sunni sheikhs took the money and decided to wait. Al-Qaeda dissolved and regrouped.
Now, with Syria as the new magnet of global jihad – once again a direct consequence of a US power play, via Barack “Assad must go” Obama - al-Qaeda is resurgent on both fronts. Washington has already destroyed the social fabric of Iraq. Now it’s helping to destroy Syria’s. If Abu Ghraib was the new normal in 2004, the jailbreak cannot but be the new new normal of 2013.
Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.
Caving To White House Pressure…
Beirut — It was reportedly a hectic and intense past weekend in Washington and London according to an emailed report from a Capitol Hill source, as the Obama and Cameron administrations tracked down and button-holed the leaders of the 28 European Union delegations gathering in Brussels to finally vote on whether Hezbollah’s ‘military wing’ should be sanctioned, by labeling it a “terrorist” organization. Several conversations took peace between Israel’s Tzipi Livni and the US State Department.
As of last Thursday (7/18/13) the project was by no means a done deal and only 17 EU members could be counted on “to do the right thing “as this observers contact explained. So 11 votes had to me nailed down fast and less than an hour before the EU vote, the last two EU hold-outs reluctantly went along.
When asked why, given all that was happening these days this region, the oft-delayed EU vote on Hezbollah could simply not just be put off again, this observer was advised it had to do with another European Union action and the tremors that it caused for the Zionist lobby, and their demands to the US State Department and the White House that something be done. Furthermore that the timing of the EU decision was a combination of pressure by the U.S. and Israel to compensate for recent decision by the EU to boycott products made in West Bank settlements. It was apparently influenced by Hezbollah’s involvement n Syria.
Ms. Livni called John Kerry ever since the first EU votes and advised in no uncertain terms that Israeli leaders were enraged when the European Union issued its official guidelines on the funding of Israeli projects beyond the Green Line which will substantial block ability of Israeli settlements and other entities operating in the West Bank to receive grants and from EU member states. Israel, claimed Justice Minister Tzipi Livni wanted adequate compensation from the EU and she reportedly warned Secretary of State John Kerry that talks with the Palestinians might otherwise be affected. The bus bombing in Bulgaria had little to do with the timing. The timing of the EU vote was fixed by White House pressure.
Ms. Livni demanded three things from Kerry as the ‘price tag’ of the Israeli government going thru the motions of appearing to be willing to resume negotiations and to state publicly that Israel will consider some sort of slow-down or temporary ‘time-out’ for the frenzied construction project on the West Bank.
She got two of the three.
One of Livni’s demands was the EU doing what it did and targeting with the ‘terrorist’ label Hezbollah’s military wing.
The second non-negotiable demand was that the White House appoint as Kerry’s Chief Negotiator at any Israel-Palestinian peace negotiation the Israeli born arch- Zionist Martin Indyk. Kerrey, not happy and under Israeli lobby pressure, agreed and will name Indyk shortly Congressional sources reveal.
Mr. Indyk began his Washington career as an AIPAC staffer, served as executive director of an AIPAC think tank offshoot, the Washington Institute of Near East Policy, and then served two terms as the first foreign-born U.S. Ambassador to Israel where, according to Jeffrey Feltman, his longtime aid, “Martin taught me all I need to know about the Middle East, and that is about preserving Israel.”
Indyk immigrated to the United States from Australia and later gained American citizenship in 1993. He wrote in the book Innocent Abroad, that: “I was first drawn to the Middle East through my Jewish identity and connection to Israel.” Indyk now works at Brookings for a man he calls his “godfather,” Haim Saban. Saban has said that his “greatest concern… is to protect Israel.”
According to Phillip Weiss writing in Mondoweiss.net: “Indyk was described in 1992 by a former AIPAC president as AIPAC’s political asset in the Clinton campaign. After the spectacular failure of Camp David negotiations that he helped conduct in 2000, Indyk was characterized by former Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Dahlan as having a pro-Israel bias and “advanced negative attitudes toward Palestinians.”
Professor James Wall, reports that former Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath said that Indyk was “partial, biased, pro-Israel” and defended Israeli settlements more than Israelis do.
Ms. Livni’s third demand from the Obama administration was a reiteration of her earlier demand shared by some EU countries, including the United Kingdom and The Netherlands. It was a project for a more firm approach that includes blacklisting the entire Lebanese political organization. This way, all the accounts and assets of Hezbollah-affiliated organizations, businesses, and charities could have been frozen all over Europe. As some analysts have pointed out, Mosques in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and other EU countries that raise funds for the Hezbollah-operated charities, hospitals, and schools in Lebanon would have also been closed. She failed in this goal with the White House after a reportedly heated argument.
Kerry told Ms. Livni that there was no way the EU would agree so she should be content with what the EU had voted. He pleased for calm because he had worked hard to line up all 28 votes.
Following the EU vote, at a news conference, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni appeared to claim the full credit as she praised the EU decision to blacklist Hezbollah’s armed wing, which she said made clear that the party is a “terrorist organization”. “Finally, after years of deliberations, it is clear to the entire world that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization”, she said in a statement.
Not quite the case, but she did call to thank John Kerry.
According to Eli Bardenstein, writing in the 7/23/13 edition of the Israeli daily Ma’ariv, Livni’s role only added to a diplomatic blitz over the past year headed by Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General for Strategic Affairs, Jeremy Issacharoll and the Counterterrorism Department headed by Shai Cohen. They organized a team that had been intensely lobbying European countries to promote branding all of Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
When asked for the main reasons the EU caved to White House pressure, a congressional contact who works with the Office of White House liaison succinctly replied: “Getting Israel of their backs for the EU boycott of the West Bank settlements, Assads apparent victory in Syria aided big-time by Hezbollah, and Obama wanting some progress with Kerry’s ‘peace talks’ project. He added, “Plus it was a politically inexpensive feel good affair that won’t have any real impact except for a PR gain for Livni who will use it in her campaign to replace Netanyahu.”
Dr. Ibrahim Mousawi, who directs Hezbollah’s Media Office, got it right when he explained that Hezbollah firmly rejected the decision and accused the EU of bowing to pressure from the United States and Israel.
In Lebanon and Syria, the EU’s move to blacklist Hezbollah as a terrorist group appears to have been shrugged off and viewed as part of the ongoing US-Israeli-backed conspiracy that it sees behind much of what is happening in the region. In this observers Hezbollah neighborhood last night there were some spontaneous celebrations of Ramadan seeming mixed with support for Resistance to the EU decision which is viewed here with disdain.
In practical terms, the EU decision constitutes a mere political slap on the wrist. Hezbollah is not known to have substantial identifiable assets in EU countries, and it does not rely on donations from supporters there. Also, according to the source, Washington does not believe that Hezbollah’s military wing has many assets in Europe and nor does it reply on funding from these countries. The EU was briefed by the State Department on this analysis and went along. For these and other reasons, the EU will maintain its contacts with Hezbollah on a variety of issues, including the activities of UNIFIL, the peacekeeping force on the border with Israel, and on joint projects between the EU and Lebanon.
But it may turn out to be a bit expensive after all for those voting to target Syria’s friends this week, according to one Damascus pro-government source who insists Syria will have a photographic memory when perhaps as early as next year, the half a trillion dollar reconstruction of war-devastated Syria begins.
She asked rhetorically, “Guess which 28 countries will be among those jostling for big contracts worth billions? Can you imagine we will be in much of a mood to forgive and forget their roles in this crisis? Call it pay-back or a price-tag, the EU may want to prepare their explanations for this vote.”
Lo and behold, a few short hours later, as if the NSA had given the Head of the EU delegation, Angelina Eichhorst, a quick transcript of our perhaps bugged conversation, the lady wasted no time coming to Beirut to assure Hezbollah and other political groups and personalities, that everything was fine as she played down the EU decision to blacklist Hezbollah’s military wing. She promised that it would not affect the cooperation with the new Lebanese government even if the Shiite party dominated it. “The EU backs the efforts exerted by Premier-designate Tammam Salam to form a new cabinet and cooperates with the caretaker government which is dominated by Hezbollah”, she said. “The EU will happily work with any cabinet that Hezbollah is a part of!” She stressed and stressed again– perhaps a dozen times during her brief visit.
As this is a sort of a family publication, this observer could not possibly even conceive of offering the dear reader the verbatim two-word response to Ms. Angelina and the EU from one my neighbors.
They’re US proxy fighters. They’re imported from dozens of countries. They’re waging war against sovereign Syrian independence. Don’t expect duplicitous Western politicians or media scoundrels to explain.
Assad’s military outguns and outflanks Washington’s shock troops. Reinforcements keep coming. Libya 2.0 looks possible. Perhaps likely.
Russia hopes for a September international peace conference. Originally a June one was planned. Why bother when Washington prioritizes war. It spurns peace. Last year’s conference failed.
Expect nothing different this time. Peace remains elusive. Advocates have no partners.
According to European Council president Herman Van Rompuy:
“A military solution to the crisis is impossible. (T)he solution is only diplomatic.” Conflict can end soon. It can happen if Washington calls off its dogs. It shouldn’t have unleashed them in the first place.
Syria is Obama’s war. He began it. He can end it. Not according to some reports. On July 18, London’s Guardian headlined ”Obama considering military power in Syria, top general tells Senate.”
Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey said he provided Obama with “options for the use of force.” He declined to explain more.
“(I)t would be inappropriate for me to try to influence the decision with me rendering an opinion in public about what kind of force we should use.”
John McCain’s super-hawkish. He’s not alone. He asked the wrong question. He asked Dempsey what carries greater risk: continued limited Washington intervention or more robust tactics.
He favors more heavily arming terrorist fighters. They’re getting plenty of weapons already. He wants no-fly zone protection implemented.
Doing so’s an act of war. It’s illegal without Security Council authorization. So is meddling in Syria’s internal affairs politically, economically, and/or militarily (directly or indirectly).
McCain’s dismissive of international law. So are other congressional hawks. Dempsey said he favors “building a moderate opposition and supporting it.”
“The question whether to support it with direct kinetic strikesâ¤|is a decision for our elected officials, not for the senior military leader of the nation.”
Kinetic strikes refer to missiles, bombs, drone attacks, and other military initiatives. According to Dempsey, they’re “under deliberation inside of our agencies of government.”
Asked about Dempsey’s comments, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama always asks military commanders for options. It’s “true in an arena like Syria” and elsewhere.
Obama’s reviewing them, he added. According to Vice Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral James Winnefeld:
“There are a whole range of options that are out there. We are ready to act if we’re called on to act.”
These type comments aren’t new. Whether direct US intervention follows remains to be seen.
Senator Carl Levin wants it. He wants Syria bombed. He urged Obama to attack “airfields, airplanes and massed artillery.” He supports terrorist insurgent invaders. He does so shamelessly. More on him below.
Armed Services Committee members are considering whether to renominate Dempsey and Winnefield for second terms. McCain’s opposed.
Democrats have majority say. Expect both top commanders to be approved.
At the same time, anti-Assad forces are fighting each other. Extremist Al Nusra insurgents are clashing with Free Syria Army elements. Unity remains elusive.
Things escalated dramatically. Whether full-scale internecine conflict follows remains to be seen. If so, maybe each side will annihilate the other. That’s one way to wind things down.
On July 19, Russia Today headlined “Al Qaeda’s planned emirate in Syria is West’s own doing.” Syrians want a secular state.
Al Qaeda wants its own. Syrian unity is threatened. So far insurgent extremists lack enough strength to prevail.
Assad forces consistently rout them. Without US intervention, they don’t have a chance. They can prolong conflict.
They can cause many more deaths, injuries and displacements. They can’t prevail without Libya 2.0 help.
On July 17, London’s Telegraph headlined ”Army chief: We risk war with Syria.”
General David Richards is UK outgoing armed forces chief. Britain must be prepared to “go to war” with Syria, he said. “(I)f you want to have the material impact on the Syrian regime’s calculations that some people seek…ground targets” must be “hit.”
“There is a lack of international consensus on how to take this forward,” he said.
“We are trying to cohere the opposition groups, but they are difficult to cohere because there are many different dimensions to them.”
“So it is work in progress. So I am very clear in my military advice to the government that we need to understand what the political objective is before we can sensibly recommend what military effort and forces should be applied to it.”
“That is something we debate a lot, from the Prime Minister downwards. We also need to do this with our allies.”
“Allies have different views on the way ahead. Understandably there is a great reluctance to see Western boots on the ground in a place like Syria.”
“If you wanted to have the material impact on the Syrian regime’s calculations that some people seek, a no fly zone per se is insufficient.”
“You have to be able, as we did successfully in Libya, to hit ground targets.”
“You have to establish a ground control zone. You have to take out their air defences.”
“You also have to make sure they can’t manoeuvre – which means you have to take out their tanks, and their armoured personnel carriers and all the other things that are actually doing the damage.”
“If you want to have the material effect that people seek you have to be able to hit ground targets and so you would be going to war if that is what you want to do.’
“That is rightly a huge and important decision. There are many arguments for doing it, but there are many arguments for not doing so too.”
Syria’s situation is “highly complex,” he stressed. Escalated war risks cross-border conflict. It’s happening in Lebanon.
It could affect all Syria’s neighbors. Perhaps other regional states. The entire region could become embroiled. Global conflict could follow.
Richards knows the risks. So do other high-level military commanders. They’re warriors, not peacemakers.
Richards called himself a “moral soldier.” His remark is offensive. It’s oxymoronic on its face. He said Afghanistan’s a “good war.”
Others know better. Benjamin Franklin said “(t)here is no such thing as a good war or a bad peace.”
Russia said it won’t let Assad be toppled militarily. It has strategic interests at stake. Perhaps it wants Syria to be Obama’s regional Waterloo.
Halting his imperial rampaging’s important. If Russia and China aren’t committed, who will be? United they stand the best chance. It’s time they stepped up to the plate and acted.
America wages wars on small nations. It prefers weaker ones it can roll over. It abstains from challenging more equal rivals militarily. Bullies operate that way.
Jimmy Carter believes “America does not at the moment have a functioning democracy.” It never had one. Carter didn’t explain.
He’s pessimistic. He’s got good reason to be. He called Snowden’s leaks “beneficial.”
He thinks NSA spying undermines US credibility worldwide. It constitutes “the invasion of human rights and American privacy.” It’s “gone too far.”
“I think that the secrecy that has been surrounding this invasion of privacy has been excessive,” he said.
“So I think that the bringing of it to the public notice has probably been, in the long term, beneficial.”
He criticized Obama’s policies earlier. He condemned his drone attacks. He called targeted assassinations lawless.
Imperial policies undermine America’s “role as the global champion of human rights,” he said.
“America’s violation of international human rights abets our enemies and alienates our friends.”
America lacks moral authority. It lost it multiple ways. Carter’s no saint. Compared to Obama, he looks that way.
A Final Comment
On July 18, Senators Carl Levin (D. MI) and Angus King (I. ME) headlined ”For Syria, lessons from the Balkan war.”
Levin chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee. King serves on it with him. Both express hawkish views. They visited the region. They did so for propaganda purposes.
They deplore peace. They support escalated war. They may get what they wish for. They’ll be accountable for lots more blood on their hands.
“We believe the United States should join with its partners and allies in the region and elsewhere to pursue an end to the bloodshed,” they said.
“An international coalition that strengthens the military and political capabilities of thoroughly vetted anti-Assad forces should supply equipment and training.”
“That coalition should also plan for steps that would place even greater military pressure on the Assad regime, including possible strikes against the missiles, aircraft and other heavy weapons that are the instruments of Assad’s campaign of terror.”
Both senators know Washington directly aids Al Qaeda and other extremist groups. They’re supplied weapons, funding, training and direction. It’s been ongoing since conflict began. CIA and US special forces are involved. It’s an open secret.
Levin and King believe the best way to end war is wage more of it. They believe war is peace. They stop short of recommending US boots on the ground. Perhaps they will later. Who knows?
No matter the risks involved, they said, “the costs of inaction are equally high. Assad’s survival, with support from Iran and Hezbollah, would surely strengthen them, to our great detriment.”
They barely stopped short of urging regional war against nonexistent threats.
They blame Assad for Washington’s crimes. It’s standard imperial duplicity. Obama bears full responsibility. Don’t expect them to explain.
“â¤|.US national interests are at stake,” they claim. So are neighboring countries “Israel, Turkey and Jordan.”
They propose international action against Assad. They want “a comprehensive strategy” agreed on as soon as possible.
They want all-out war. They want it against an independent, nonbelligerent sovereign state. They ignore inviolable international law principles.
They turned truth on its head, saying:
A “widespread insurgency has strong popular support.”
False! The vast majority of Syrians support Assad. Independent polls show it. The longer conflict persists, the more his support grows.
Syrians depend on him for whatever protection he can provide. When Syrian forces liberate insurgent held areas, residents express gratitute openly.
Levin and King want America to “help the Syrian people end the senseless slaughter they are suffering” by inflicting more of it.
They, likeminded congressional members, Obama, and complicit administration officials reflect diabolical forces of evil. They’re unmatched in human history.
They’re waging war on humanity. Perhaps they believe the best way to save it is destroy it.
They support permanent war. They want unchallenged US global dominance. They’ll stop at nothing to achieve it.
Imagine the worst ahead. They endorse what’s likely coming. Survival’s up for grabs.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
They are 67 new families, or about 400 Palestinian refugees displaced from Syria, residing in 60 recently erected tents set up as an emergency ‘gathering’ near the Ein el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp adjacent to the city of Sidon in southern Lebanon. In all, there are approximately 75,000 thousand Palestinians in Lebanon who have fled from Syria over the past 28 months.
Additional Palestinians arrive every week and sometimes meet former neighbors from Yarmouk and other Syrian Palestinian camps at the Masnaa Lebanon-Syria border crossing. The new arrivals are often grimaced to happen upon their countrymen who are returning to take their chances facing death in Syria including dodging the snipers and bombings targeting Yarmouk and elsewhere. The reasons the returnees give for returning to Syria focus on the appalling humanitarian conditions in Lebanon for Palestinians as well as the nearly 780,000 other refugees here from Syria.
Palestinians forced into Lebanon from Syria soon learn, if they were not aware previously, that all Palestinians refugees in Lebanon are barred by law from the most elementary civil rights to work and to own a home. More than 50 professions open to Palestinians in Syria and in every other country, including occupied Palestine, are forbidden here. Two examples of jobs Palestinians can do and are doing in Lebanon when they arrive from Syria include scavenging through the rotting filth at Saida Garbage Mountain and other Lebanese government public garbage dumps to find something worth a few Lebanese Lira (LL) to help their loved ones survive. No, nearly impossible to secure work permit, is even required so they need not fear arrest by the Lebanese authorities who irregularly round up Palestinian violators of this country’s no work for Palestinian refugees ban.
The same, “no work permit required” reality is true of another profession which critics accuse the “Government” of Lebanon and its competing politicians of approving instead of allowing even one currently banned legitimate job to those whose lives are at risk and who are desperately in need of livelihood.
That profession which is open to every Palestinian today in Lebanon willing to consider it, is ‘hired gun’.
While both the major political grouping in Lebanon will deny they do it but will accuse the other, the fact of the matter is that both continue to discreetly recruit Palestinians to fight their personal battles on the cheap. It is unfortunately the case that some Palestinians, sweltering in the squalid, fetid camps in Lebanon, discriminated against in public institutions of higher learning, and barred from internationally mandated elementary civil rights, are seeking jobs as militiamen. This against the admonitions and sage counsel of the older generation of PLO fighters, now mainly retired, that the Syrian civil war is not theirs and that Palestinian involvement will not advance Return to Palestine and reclaiming stolen homes and land, by one minute or by one inch.
The choice for many Palestinian young men in Lebanon has come down to guns or education. By force of Lebanese law and under threat of prison for violators, Palestinians are denied the elementary civil rights to work in more than 50 professions and are barred by a 2001 racist law from them or their families, more than six decades living as refugees in Lebanon, from even owning a home. Among Palestinian youth, unemployment rates hover around 70%, while refugee students are also discriminated against in admission to Lebanese state institutions of higher education, including the relatively low-tuition fees at Lebanese University. This makes it difficult for young Palestinians in Lebanon to pursue higher education after graduating from UNWRA schools and passing the Baccalaureate II exam. Being barred from most jobs, it is very difficult to come up with even modest sums for tuition payments.
Against this backdrop of flagrant state sponsored discrimination, if one were to offer un-employed young camp resident, say $ 200 per month, an AK-47 with plenty of ammo, and free cigarettes, the odds are good that you just might have yourself a militiaman. Those journalists and observers who spent much of the summer of 2011 in Libya saw a similar phenomenon and now it’s also the case in Syria. In Lebanon, it is resurgent from the 1975-90 civil war days. The gun for hire resource is being exploited across the political spectrum here among many of the same confessions and political parties that ignited this country’s massively destructive civil war more than three decades ago.
Today, some Palestinians are being paid to fight for certain factions whether from the North of Lebanon at Tripoli and Akkar, to Beirut and various contentious areas such as Tariq al-Jdideh, Sabra, Cola, and down south in Saida during recent clashes that saw 16 Lebanese army killed and twice that number from the supporters of Salafist activist Ahmad Asir. Despite denials from some sources, there were a few Palestinians who fought for Asir and some Palestinians joined other militia including the Hezbollah organized “Resistance Brigades’ and the Lebanese army in fighting against Asir’s forces. An investigation in supposedly underway of the army’s conduct and the involvement of political parties from both the March 14anti-Assad sects and elements of the March 8th pro-Assad groups regarding recruitment of Palestinian youngsters.
President Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly warned Palestinians in Lebanon during his 72 hour visit to Lebanon last week to reject these offers and not to be drawn into the Syrian conflict despite the ‘market place maneuverings’ going on here from various armed confessions. What he meant is that as most of the Lebanese sects are frantically arming and seeking gunmen and weapons, that Palestinian s must refuse to be exploited once again and that they must reject any involvement in a military conflict that contravenes their communities wishes and their national interest. He lectured a gathering of PLO factions at a Palestine Embassy event that this terrible error was the case during the 1975-1990 Lebanese civil wars. For that involvement, Palestinians in Lebanon continue to pay a very heavy price from certain factions here that rather see Lebanon’s economy continue to decline than allow Palestinians to work and help build the local economy as they have done in countless other countries which granted them the right to work and the opportunity to invest in the economy with their technical competence and business skills.
As one Palestinian academic pointed out last week to this observer, “While President Abbas assured Lebanese politicians that Palestinian factions did not want to join the Syrian civil war, he also chastised Lebanon’s government in private for not pressuring various factions, most with representatives in Parliament, to stop recruiting and enticing the hapless, desperate for work refugees, forced into Lebanon against their will.
PA President Abbas also repeated the PLO’s willingness to turn the refugee camps weapons over to the government. He did this with a straight face but surely he knows well that despite the regular scapegoating of Palestinians refugees in Lebanon and the danger they are said by some to pose because some have access to light arms, as everyone in Lebanon does, the truth of the matter is that the Lebanese political groups, even the most open about their hatred of Palestinians in Lebanon, do not want the state to collect or receive as gifts the arms in the Palestinian camps and gatherings, however many there they in fact are. The reason is that if the Palestinians had no weapons at all in the camp, it would make it awkward for some politicians to use the fear of a return to the early 1970’s and the potential danger of a Palestinian uprising for sects political advantage. Truth told, there is no realistic fear, unless provoked, from Palestinians arms. They are exaggerated as is the number of salafist factions inside camps. Yet without the right to work, some Palestinians will doubtless be seduced into becoming hired guns for scarce cash to feed their families.
Hiring young men as gunmen in Lebanon is also impliedly condoned by silence on this problem from various polarized and politicized religious leaders. Some of Lebanon’s religious personalities, too often, wearing pious faces and donning prelatical ‘Pope-wannabe’, if sometimes comical, outfits, and often sporting fingers ringed with gold and precious jewels, intone their gospels according to St. Mark, or his equivalents, about human dignity and being our brother’s keeper, and often referencing “ our blood-veins support for Palestine and the Right of Return.” While simultaneously standing in Janus-faced opposition to the elementary internationally mandated right to work for Palestinians in Lebanon.
When a Palestinian is arrested for carrying a weapon, it’s often front-page news but also usually exaggerated or later shown to be inaccurate. What is more surprising is that more Palestinians are not in the streets, motivated by the Arab Spring and Islamic Awakening, demanding the civil right to work. Yet signs are starting to appear of a pending and overdue intifada in Lebanon demanding this universally recognized right of every refugee to be able to seek work to sustain oneself and family.
Rumors abound these tense days in many part of Lebanon, as if to say, “I told you didn’t I? The Palestinians are the source of most of Lebanon’s problems!” (or the Zionists, or the Saudis, EU, Iranians, Syrians, other Lebanese sects or the Americans, or just about anyone except, this countries deeply destructive confessional system and the Lebanese who profit from this, to date, failed state. Too many Lebanese politicians reject granting rights to Palestinian refugees while they seek to gain personal, regional and international benefits from playing the “Palestinian card”. Meanwhile, dangerous temperature and pressure levels are building in the huge Presto cookers that are Lebanon’s camps.
On a brighter note, arriving with a late news item of 7/18/13, are the just released results of the General Science (SG) and Life Science (SV) secondary school official exam results known as the Baccalaureate II exam results. Preliminary analysis suggests that despite all their hardships, Palestinian and Syrian refugees have done well on the required exams.
One Palestinian mother from Yarmouk camp in Damascus, now among the 700 Palestinian refugee families temporarily here from Syria, and squeezed into the already overflowing Shatila camp explained to this observer as she proudly displayed this week’s announcement of her children’s academic success. She beamed that even with little electricity in her family hovel, polluted drinking water, no fresh air and not much food this past year, her daughter’s and son’s success in passing ‘the BACC II” made her forget her family’s misery.
So it is that the doors are cracked open for higher education, if Palestinian refugees in Lebanon can come up with tuition, sometimes fairly modest by western standards but beyond the means of a majority of camp families. The good news that there will be places in Lebanon’s institutions of higher learning this fall semester, assuming that these youngsters, desperate to be allowed to work at the same jobs that every other foreigner in granted on arriving to Lebanon, do not heed the sirens calls of various sects here, singing seductive songs of quick cash in exchange for carrying a gun.
On April 19, 2013 at the Shatila Camp Youth Center, exactly 30 years to the week following the death of American journalist, Janet Lee Stevens here in Beirut, and recalling times during the 1982 Israeli aggression that rained American bombs of various types down on the civilian population, and still hearing Janet’s voice telling young Palestinian defenders, during the 75-day Zionist siege, “ Once the fighting ends you must, every one of you, return to school, whether to study quantum physics or literature or whatever interests you. Higher education is what will hasten your return to Palestine. Education is your greatest resource and your most potent weapon.”
Speaking at the Shatila Scholarship Award event, one American, paying tribute to Janet as a mediator and advocate for Palestine, and addressing the tuition grant recipients, sought to encourage these future Palestinian leaders:
“An education is forever and its purpose is to enjoy a more productive lifetime while seeking to fulfill all of what each of us is capable as we give back to our respective communities. Staying in school here in Lebanon where we are all guests, just for the time being, and pursuing knowledge and practical skills is a quintessential and noble act and commitment of Resistance against oppression and occupation – anywhere. Education cannot be ethnically cleansed, stolen, tortured, jailed, uprooted, bulldozed, massacred, murdered, bombed or burned down. Rather, staying in school and pursuing ones dream is what your cherished for-bearers, who were forced from their homes and lands into Lebanon and trekked from Palestine- approximately 130,000- in the summer and fall of 1948, would want for you, and expect of you.
Education is a Saladinian Resistance toward liberating, six decades after the Nakba, those still under occupation in Palestine. And to help achieve for refugees in the diaspora, their inalienable full Right of Return.”
When and how do we put an end to this outrage which is an urgent humanitarian imperative shared by every one of us?
We end it immediately.
We do it by Lebanon’s parliament, taking 90 minutes of its time, which is all that would be required, and grant these youngsters the most elementary civil right to work which will also enable them to pursue their dreams of higher education.
And by international support.
This can be facilitated by international pressure. One telephone call from Washington, Riyadh, or Tehran, to local political allies, can get the job done in just over an hour without further procrastination.
If not, to add to its other problems, Lebanon may face a civil right intifada– ignited by continued repression.
In the words of the angelic Miss Hiba of Ein el Hilweh camp, now 19 years old and three years after her defiant declaration in 2010 to those who sneered at her that she should get married at age 16, and with her beauty, could demand a handsome dowry for her impoverished family, and forget about college: “There is no other choice than success with the civil rights goal of every Palestinian in Lebanon to seek a job and to pursue education as we peacefully intensify our struggle to Return to our stolen and still occupied country, Palestine. “
Today, Hiba continues the good fight as she completes next year, her degree in engineering. She insists she will need this knowledge when she returns to her family’s occupied home near Safed.
“Tikun Olam” – This story keeps getting weirder and more interesting: RT reports based on a “reliable source” that Turkey allowed Israeli air-force jet bombers to use one of its military bases to attack the Syria port of Latakia, where the government had stored Russian-made Yakhonts anti-ship missiles. Israel believed the armaments were destined for Hezbollah, which would use them in the next war in Lebanon to neutralize Israel’s naval forces. For a discussion of the weapons system and the role it might play in such a battle, read this report.
Given that this story keeps getting curiouser and curiouser, I believe the story is very possibly true. So now we have to ask ourselves a number of questions:
Why would a Turkish government nursing a deep grudge against Israel for killing 9 of its citizens in the Mavi Marmara massacre, all of a sudden turn around and lend an air base for an attack on a third country? Further, why would Turkey cooperate with Israel in attacking Syrian missiles destined for Hezbollah? Turkey has no quarrel with the Lebanese militant group.
There are several answers. Turkey is opposed to the Assad government and anything that will weaken it may cause Turkey to relax its former animosity toward Israel. Also, Hezbollah has escalated its involvement in the Syrian conflict by sending thousands of its fighters to capture Qusayr. This would be a way for Turkey to make the Islamist group pay a steep price for its intervention. It would be yet another way for both Israel and Turkey to say to Assad that he faces a looming alliance among former enemies who are now united (at least covertly) in their opposition to his rule.
Second, if Israel wanted to attack Syria without violating its airspace it could just as easily have flown north from Israel to a point west of Latakia and attacked from the Mediterranean. Why did the Israeli air force feel it needed to attack from Turkey? The answer may lie in the fact that attacking from Turkey would allow Israel to attack from the north rather than the west. Syria would not have expected an attack on Latakia from the north and therefore might not have defended against it. This would give the Israeli attackers an element of surprise.
If this account is true, it proves that Middle East relations are based far more on shared interests than on principles. In other words, pragmatism and even cynicism is the rule of the day. Turkey, which trumpets its dedication to the Palestinian cause and its implacable opposition to Israel’s Occupation, can do the unthinkable and allow Israeli military forces to use its sovereign territory to attack an enemy. So much for the notion of Muslim solidarity. And so much for the Islamist criticism of Muslim states (Saudi Arabia, etc.) that allow non-Muslim military forces (U.S., etc.) to attack fellow Muslim states, thereby betraying Islam.
For Erdogan, the opportunity to bloody Assad’s nose trumped all those considerations. The other problem with Turkey’s decision is that it will give Israel the impression that since Turkey granted access to its military bases, it will also fold regarding its support of the Palestinians.
Alternately, we may see that Israel retracts its opposition to paying $1-million to each of the families of the victims of the Mavi Marmara attack. Israeli capitulation on that score may signal a quid pro quo for Turkey’s help in attacking Latakia.
One way to gauge this is by whether Erdogan follows through on his commitment to visit Gaza. He was supposed to come last month. But the turmoil in both Egypt and Turkey caused a delay. If he does visit Gaza Israel should know this alliance is extremely tactical and targeted at a very narrow range of issues. If he doesn’t, then we’ll know that Israel has succeeded in co-opting yet another opponent of Occupation.
Finally, it’s interesting that the source for this report is a Russian media outlet. Remember that Russia’s missiles were targeted and destroyed in Israel’s attack. Vladimir Putin has not responded in any way to this. Alex Fishman, in yesterday’s Yediot, took his silence as a confirmation that Putin is at heart nothing but a cynical weapons merchant who doesn’t care what happens to his weapons as long as he’s paid for them. As with so much of what he wrote in that article, I think it’s a crock.
Israel’s attack is an affront not only to Hezbollah and Assad, but to Russia as well. Putin is not the disinterested arms dealer Fishman makes him out to be. There will be an accounting for this act of aggression by Israel. The only question is where and when and under what circumstances. If RT’s reporter learned her information from a Russian intelligence source, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.
I am trying through DC and Turkey-based journalists with U.S. or Turkish military-intelligence sources to confirm this story.